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Entries in summer (8)
Our squash are starting to go gang busters. We have planted a bunch of different varieties this year and I am excited to try them all out. We have tried to pick varieties that have smaller compact forms that should hopefully be easier to pick. How I wish squash leaves were transparent, so I wouldn't miss the one that got away. You know that one.
There are an infinite number of ways to use summer squash. I am a big fan of tossing julienned squash with lemon, olive oil and herbs and calling it salad. I love a good chocolate and zucchini cake and some traditionalists actually eat it steamed with a bit of butter. Suffice it to say, by August 15th, we'll have found a few new recipes to file under "summer squash glut".
One recipe that I am sure we'll try is zucchini frittata. I do love a good frittata - farm eggs, sautéd veggies and just the right amount of cheese to hold it all together. Frittatas are great for brunch and cold. They work well in the summer when you can't think of what to cook, easy peasy on the stove top or in the oven.
Persians are master frittata makers, but we call them kukus. My favorites are the sabzi kuku and the potato kuku. The zucchini kuku is a new one for me. I figured I would try it with some of the squash we had laying about. The original recipe called for a lot of butter and onions, one thing I was trying to avoid and the other I just didn't have on hand. I made a few changes to the recipes I had researched and I think I came up with a pretty good rendition.
I ended up using four different kinds of alliums in my recipe. In part because I had one onion in the house, but plenty of shallots, garlic and chives on hand and was not up for a grocery store encounter. If I had leeks, I would have used them too. The goal of this recipe is to cook the onions and zucchini together until they are a lovely melty mess. Then the mixture is mashed up using a fork or potato masher, cooked a bit longer to draw out the liquid, cooled and mixed with egg and seasonings before baking. I really encourage you to not skip the second cooking or you will have a soggy kuku, which is not very appealing.
The resulting kuku should be browned along the edges, have a little lift from the leavening and taste of lovely mixture of squash and alliums with a hint of herbs you might want to throw in. It will be great hot out of the oven or served at room temperature with a salad and a nice loaf of bread.
Zucchini Frittata - Kuku Kadu
Makes one 9" pie plate kuku that serves 6 as a side dish
1 lb summer squash, washed, sliced thinly
1 large onion, sliced thinly
3-4 eggs (depending on the size)
2 large shallots, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 TB butter
2 T flour, I used rice flour
1 T fresh chives, minced
1 T fresh mint, chopped
1 t baking powder
1 t salt
1/2 t freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter pie plate. Place 4 T of butter in frying pan, add onions, shallots, garlic and sauté for 5 minutes. Add squash to mixture and continue to sauté until soft. This should take about 15 minutes under medium to high heat. When softened, remove from heat and use potato masher or fork to mash mixture. It should resemble guacamole. It should be pretty wet at this point. Return to medium heat for 5 minutes to evaporate off some of the liquid. Remove from heat again, let cool and mix in flour, baking powder, salt and pepper and mint. Let cool.
In a separate bowl, whip eggs until well mixed. Add zucchini mixture to egg mixture and stir until well combined. Pour into prepared pie place. Bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, place dollops of remaining butter onto top of kuku. Cook for another 15 minutes, until browned and knife placed in middle comes clean.
Remove from oven, let cool and slice into wedges to serve.
It is still warm in Seattle. The last few days have made all the grumbling about Junuary worth it. The garden is flourishing along with its weeds. Dahlias are finally blooming and I even spied a red tomato. We still have a long way to go if we plan on feeding ourselves from our garden bounty. If we planned on living on a lettuce, sorrel, raspberry diet, we would be golden.
Soon we'll have summer squash coming out of our ears and probably left on your front stoop. I wish I could say the same out some of the other trailing viney things I like to grow. I love cucumbers and I am in awe of anyone who can grow them successfully. Mine are always bitter and tough if I even get any to grow. I am grateful that our markets are full of them in July and August.
Iranians love cucumbers and often eat them like fruit. The Iranian cucumbers are picked fairly small, have a thin skin and are not bitter like some of the other commercially grown varieties. They are really eating out of hand cucumbers, with salt and a little pepper. I love them in salads.
Iranians are also nuts for salads. Who can blame them in the heat of the Iranian/California summer - a quick salad of tomatoes, onions and cucumbers tossed with some lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper is pretty refreshing and pairs with many different protein sources.
I am a big fan of the Persian side salad - Mosteh-khiar (yoghurt and cucumber) which I have seen served as a dip with bread, a salad and in some homes, thinned as a soup. It is similar to the tzakiki served by the Greeks or Raita served in Indian restaurants. Makes sense doesn't it? Same lovely hot and sunny climate, well seasoned food and decent flat breads and a mild cucumber sauce as a foil.
It is also super simple to make and tastes even better the following day.
Mosteh-Khiar- Cucumber and Yogurt dip for a warm day
Note: My mom used to make this with Mountain High Yogurt, and only Mountain High. She's now making it with Sadaf yogurt, but I like conventional Greek yogurt, because I love the thickness. I love this with or without garlic. TH is not a garlic fan, so I sometimes leave it out. No one seems to mind. If you can't find Persian cucumbers, use pickling cucumbers, they seem to work. If those aren't available, use the English cucumber, but remember to deseed them.
Serves 12 as a hors d'oeuvres/dip
Six as a side salad
Eight for soup
1 32 oz. container plain greek or thick style yogurt (2% is great, but use what you have on hand)
1 lb Persian or Armenian cucumbers, thin skinned small cucumbers, peeled and chopped finely (I find my cucumbers at Trader Joes), but your greenmarket or farmer's market might have them
2 t dried dill or 2 T fresh dill, chopped
1 T chopped garlic chives or 1/2 clove garlic chopped fine
1 t dried mint or 1 T fresh mint, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup currants (optional)
In a large bowl, mix yogurt, cucumbers, herbs and walnuts and currants and stir until combined. Season with salt and pepper. If you plan to serve as a soup, thin with water or buttermilk to a consistency you desire. Refrigerate until time to serve. Garnish with leftover mint.
For a dip, serve with pita triangles and crudite.
Its all in the pink.
They say summer doesn't start in Seattle until July 5th. This year it started the day before and we were blessed with a marvelous 4th of July to spend in the company of friends and family and to watch the fireworks from near or far. The weather is supposed to stay warm and sunny for the foreseeable future. For this my tomatoes and raspberries are grateful.
In praise of the soft fruits.
This also means that the berries are starting to ripen at a pace that makes it hard to keep up. I will admit that it is hard to not drive by the berry stands in Anacortes and not stop for Skagit Sun Hoods or Sakuma Farms Shuksans. I have many raspberry plants bearing fruit from now until September. Our marionberries and blueberries are starting to color up too.TH and I will make our annual pilgrimage to the blueberry farm sometime soon. It also means finishing up the berries in the freezer that we vowed that we would get through by February because we would eat them every day. We made a good dent in the berries this year, but I could make 16 pies this week and we would still have berries to eat. The dent might be more like a ding. Now, it is the race to the end of the fruit and smoothies are the vehicle of choice.
The real deal - Superior Dairy Products strawberry and chocolate shakes
In 2008, TH and I attended the Vernacular Architecture Forum Meeting in Fresno, California. The meeting was awesome. We toured Fresno and the Central Valley farms saw worker's housing, ethnic neighborhoods and ate some amazing food. That is what is so amazing about the VAF meetings - they don't just focus on the buildings, but on the social and cultural factors that shaped the communities and landscapes of settlement. One place we visited, Hanford, California had the requisite things in a settled agricultural center - mills, town common, courthouse, commercial district and a great little ice cream shop and diner called Superior Dairy Products that good VAFers flocked to after touring the town. There TH and I had shakes made with buttermilk instead of milk. The tangy and thick buttermilk added a dimension to the shake that I can't really describe, but it worked. Guess what? It works in a smoothie as well. At Superior, you can have them add ground walnuts to your shake. While I did not partake on that trip, I am now adding ground almonds and they are delicious. This smoothie is the best thing to do with the lingering 3/4 quart of buttermilk leftover from your famous pancake batter.
Buttermilk Smoothie - where wayward fruit and lost buttermilk meet
Makes 1 12 oz smoothie (can be doubled)
We use a old stick blender, but if you have a nice vitamix/waring/smoothie maker, by all means use it.
1/2 to 3/4 cup frozen fruit (I use mixture of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries)
8 oz of lowfat buttermilk
1 T almond meal or ground walnuts (optional)
1 T ground flax seed (optional)
1 T maple syrup (optional, but good if you want things a little more sweet than tangy)
1/2 t vanilla (optional)
Place fruit, buttermilk and any or all of the above ingredients in a 1 pt wide mouth mason jar or your blending vessel of choice. If you like things icy, then start your blender/hand blender/vitamix and blend until smooth. If you like things a little less refreshing, let the mixture sit for a bit to soften up. Go check your email and walk you dog. Then return to your smoothie making and blend until smooth.