Archive | August, 2008

Sunday Night Dinner

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I had the great pleasure of cooking for my friend Beth Ann on Sunday night. It wasn’t planned so I had to run to the store for some protein (I have a tendency to not cook a lot of protein for myself), but was delighted that I could pull something together for the rest of the meal from my Saturday farmers market purchases.

Even though it was thrown together it ended up being a pretty great dinner. We had chicken breasts stuffed with swiss chard and mozarella, rice and two types of fall squash. I got the idea for the chicken recipe from a Greek stuffed chicken breast that I make sometimes. I didn’t have spinach or feta so I substituted with swiss chard and mozzarella.

For the squash, I bought a Kambocha squash and a Delicato squash at the market mostly because I had never tried either. I was told by the vendors to cook them like you would a butternut or acorn squash. They were delicious!

They have very different flavors. The vendor told me the Kambocha squash is a Japanese pumpkin. It’s small and round and the flesh tastes a lot like butternut squash. The Delicato on the other hand tastes more like a spaghetti or acorn squash. It is long like a summer squash but has that slightly nutty flavor that you get from fall/winter squash. I’ll definitely be buying more and encourage to hunt some down as well.

Sunday Dinner With Beth Ann

Chicken Stuffed with Swiss Chard and Mozzarella
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 bundle of swiss chard
2 cloves garlic, chopped
a little olive oil
about 2/3 cup of grated mozzarella
1 egg, slightly beaten

Preheat the broiler.

Butterfly the chicken breast so you can stuff them and set them to the side.

In a saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Saute the garlic for a minute or so and then add the swiss chard. Saute until wilted and then remove from heat to cool.

In a bowl, combine the chard, mozzarella and egg. Stuff each chicken breast with the mixture.

Place the chicken breasts under the broiler for 10 minutes on each side.

Roasted Fall Squash
2 fall/winter squash – Kambocha, Delicato, Acorn or Butternut

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the squash in half and clean out the seeds in the middle. Butter the bottom of a baking dish. Place a small pat of butter in each squash half. Add some salt and pepper.

Place the squash halves upside down (cut side down) in the dish and roast for 30-40 minutes (depends on the size of the squash.) You can test for doneness by turning the squash over and testing the tenderness.

If you are using Kambocha or Butternut squash, consider grating a little nutmeg over the top for some extra flavor.

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Sharing a Slice: Zucchini Pancetta Pizza

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For the first time in what feels like months, I got to cook two nights in a row last weekend. Yippeee!

I had a number of recipes I’d been waiting to cook and chief among them was a pizza recipe I had seen on an episode of Jamie At Home where Jamie Oliver cooks from his own garden. I figured since I was doing a half mile swim race the next morning that I had the perfect excuse to carbo load. An added bonus to the evening was my friend Sandy ended up coming over for dinner and pizza is always better when you get to share.

Jamie made a 4 section pizza and each section had a different flavor. I picked one set of ingredients, put my own twist on it, and made an entire pizza from it. But don’t worry – we’ll be visiting some of the other taste combinations as those veggies come back in season here.

A big disclaimer – I did not make my own pizza dough. I bought a pizza crust from the store. I know, I know, but I just didn’t feel like it.

I also did not make my own sauce – heresy, I know. I had a jar of open marinara so I just used it. Hey, I did turn on my oven….

From the Garden Pizza
Jamie Oliver’s Pizza Dough or buy one from the store
Pizza sauce (homemade or from the jar – no judgment!)
Zucchini, shaved – use a vegetable peeler to make strips
Mushrooms, chopped and sauteed with a little butter and some mixed Italian seasoning
Bacon, uncooked and chopped (Jamie used pancetta – I didn’t have pancetta)
Mozzarella, grated
Red pepper flakes
Parmesan, grated

Place one of the oven racks on the bottom position and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Put your pizza dough on a pizza stone or baking sheet (pizza stone is much better). Layer sauce on the dough. Sprinkle bacon on top of the sauce. Then, layer mushrooms and zucchini. Sprinkle with mozzarella (not too much cheese).

Place in the oven until the top bubbles and is cooked through – about 10-15 minutes if you have a precooked crust and longer if the crust was raw.

Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and parmesan to taste.

I was worried the bacon wouldn’t cook, but it does and everything else came together too. We really enjoyed it and I hope you do too.

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Truly Committed to the Market and a Surprise in Every Corner

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Last Wednesday night, I had the opportunity to pop over to the Triangle Market after having missed the market on Saturday. I wasn’t too surprised to see that the high summer season fruits and vegetables are disappearing and we are headed into that time of year when it’s all about squash and peppers – and not much else.

This is the time of year when I start questioning my commitment to buying my produce from the market and start missing the variety of a grocery store. But this year, I’m going to stick with it. I’ve got my database and I’ve already started planning some fun recipes until we get through the hot late summer months. I hope you’ll stick with me through the “season march” as it is called.

Of course, just about the time you think it’s going to get boring, the market will through you a curve ball. As I wandered the booths filled with squash, peppers and okra, I saw the mushroom booth and headed over to get my weekly stash. And there they were – prickly pear fruit.

Now as a good Texas girl, I’ve had a prickly pear margarita or two. And, I do love Pink drink from Maine Root (very yummy prickly pear soda), but I’ve never had prickly pear fruit raw. So, of course I bought six. To eat the fruit, you peel it (the vendor had de-pricked them), cut it in half and take out the seeds. The fruit has a melony taste but with a little tart kick to it and it was great mixed in with my last peaches.

The vendor also said that they are great on ice cream. Try it! Just don’t forget to wash your hands after you handle them (just in case).

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Tuna – It’s What’s For Dinner

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First, my deepest apologies for being the delinquent blogger the last few weeks. Between summer trips and my birthday last week, there hasn’t been much time for the farmers market or blogging.

In between all the running around though, I did make it to the market on a recent Saturday and was so excited to see that the seafood vendor (whose name escapes me right now) had fresh tuna from the gulf. FRESH TUNA people! That is exciting. I quite literally couldn’t pass it up.

For Sunday dinner my sister and I decided we’d have grilled tuna with a light sauce. As we dug through the veggies and the cupboard, we decided on an artichoke white wine sauce. Granted, the artichokes came from a can, but the sauce was pretty great. We served it with rice and a lightly sauteed zucchini and had a pretty great dinner on our hands.

I hope they have tuna again soon and you get to try it too!

Grilled Tuna with a White Wine Artichoke Sauce
Drizzle olive oil on top of your tuna steaks and salt & pepper before you toss on the grill – cook to medium-rare, 2-3 minutes per side depending on thickness (if you are wuss like me and like it medium then cook 4-5 minutes per side)

In a saute pan, heat about 1-2 tablespoons of butter (depending on how many steaks you have), add a little chopped garlic and stir around the pan a minute or so. Add chopped artichokes and some white wine and let it simmer for a few minutes until you get a good consistency. If you want it to be more creamy add a little more butter. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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