Fermented, tree nut cheese and market veggies with a warm sherry wine and raisins dressing

I came up with this dish because I had some leftover fermented cheese from the production at Matthew Kenney Culinary. (Please note if you don’t have fermented nut cheese ready, you can not make this dish on the spot. Fermented cheese needs to be made 2 days before.) I also had some market veggies I bought at the market a few days ago. Baby corn, summer squash and these beautiful heirloom romanesco. Also known as Romanesco broccoli or Roman cauliflower and it is a type of brassica.

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heirloom romanesco

All these veggies are great with nuts, especially almonds, onions, garlic and they go well with a bit of sweetness too. Since the fermented cheese had a bit of tang as a result of the fermentation I decided to go for a warm, sweet dressing.

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plated salad

For this salad you will need to pan roast the vegetables, make a warm dressing and have some kind of tree nut cheese ready to serve with. If you are not vegan this dish is amazing with goat chevre!

Ingredients (yields 4)

  • some kind of fermented or unfermented tree nut cheese or for not vegans herbed goat chevre
  • olive oil
  • 2 green or/and yellow zucchini (medium), chopped into small cubes
  • 8 baby corns, sliced same thickness as the zucchini
  • 3-4 small heirloom romanesco or 1/4 big romanesco or cauliflower cut into small pieces.
  • 1 big or 2 small shallots, slices
  • 1/3 cup of raisins
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup of cherry wine
  • instead of the white wine vinegar and cherry wine you can use sherry vinegar about 3 tbsp but make sure you boil it out a little bit, so it is not that strong. I used the wine and the vinegar so I get a deep flavor without way too much vinegary taste)
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • chili flakes
  • 1 tbsp chopped dill
  • 1 tbsp sliced toasted almond
  • some fennel flowers/pollen,(or just fennel fronds if you don’t have the others)
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fennel flowers, pollen and sliced almonds

Components of the dish

Pan roasted vegetables

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close up of the salad

Simply chop whatever vegetables you have at home, but it is really good with baby corn, summer squash and romanesco or cauliflower. Heat some olive oil and quickly pan roast the vegetables for just 5 minutes on high heat. At the end of cooking, season with salt and black pepper. Not during cooking because salt will bring moisture out of the veggies and instead of the nice roasting it will just steam… Set vegetables aside, keep them warm for plating.

Warm sherry wine and raisins dressing

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sherry wine and raisins dressing

Slice shallots and quickly sautee them on some olive oil. Add the raisin, splash of white wine vinegar and some sherry wine. Season with salt, pepper and chili flakes. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes only. Taste and season to your liking with adding more heat or a splash of lemon juice or even agave if you want sweeter. You want to end up with a pretty strong, peppery, spicy, sweet dressing.

Fermented herb chevre made with macadamia and cashew

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herbed chevre made with macadamia and cashews

If you want to use fermented cheese, you have to make that a few days earlier. This is a an adapted recipe from  Matthew Kenney, the flavoring is adjusted the way I made it at the workshop.

In a blender mix all these ingredients until smooth, then put it in a cheesecloth, wrap tightly and ferment in a dehydrator for a day or in the back of your kitchen cupboard (without opening the door) for 2 days.

  • 1/2cup soaked macadamia
  • 1/2 cup soaked cashew
  • 2 tbsp water
  • the content of 1 capsule acidophilus (this is the probiotic that needed for fermentation)
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cheese ready for fermentation

After fermentation flavor the cheese with

  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp lemon juise
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder (or instead of the salt and garlic powder you can use garlic salt)

Then roll the flavored cheese into a log and cover with chopped, mixed herb of your liking.

Assemble the dish

  1. Put all the vegetables in a big bowl and gradually add the dressing, mixing carefully and tasting. Add as much dressing as you want but make sure it does not overpower the great taste of the veggies.
  2. Slice the cheese.
  3. Place a few slices of cheese on each plate and spoon the dressed vegetables around.
  4. Sprinkle the almond all over and finally
  5. Decorate with fresh chopped dill or whole baby dill springs and the fennel flowers, or fronds.
  6. Don’t forget to have a glass of chilled white crispy wine with it! 🙂

 

ENJOY and please let me know if you want to know more or have any comments!

 

 

That amazing panzanella

Just in case you never heard about this salad. Originates in Tuscany and predominantly consists of stale bread and tomatoes.

Just like so many great, simple dishes this one is a result of using leftover. Bread that can not be used otherwise anymore, and needs some moisture to bring back to life. And what is better for that than beautiful, ripe, juicy, flavorful in season tomatoes?

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In this version I grilled some ingredients, to give it a bit of extra flavor and more suitable for those barbecue days.

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Ingredients

  • stale bread
  • ripe, juicy tomatoes, any kind (best with heirloom )
  • red onion – both grilled and fresh
  • garlic
  • fresh basil leaves
  • salt
  • ground black pepper
  • red wine vinegar
  • olive oil
  • shaved parmesan

You can also add fresh cucumbers or grilled zucchini if you want. But it has to be mainly all about the tomatoes.

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Instructions

  1. Cut the red onions in half and grill them. (If you cut them any smaller, they will easily fall apart and difficult to handle.)
  2. Drizzle olive oil on the stale bread and season with salt.
  3. Grill the bread.
  4. While the bread and onion is cooling down, chop the tomatoes into big chunks, if you use cherry tomatoes too, only half those.
  5. Put all the tomatoes in a big bowl, season GENEROUSLY with salt, add ground black pepper, minced garlic (use only one clove for about 4 portions), good splash of red wine vinegar, olive oil and chiffonade basil leaves. Mix it with your hands, carefully not to break the tomatoes too much and let it sit for 5-10 minutes so that you get juice out of those tomatoes.
  6. Then add the grilled, chopped red onion and the grilled bread cut or torn into similar sizes as your tomatoes.
  7. Let it sit again for about 10 minutes so the bread can start soaking up the good juice but will not get oversoaked!
  8. Finish it off with fresh basil leaves and shaved parmesan.

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Serve this salad as a side dish at your barbecue. It will be great by itself or with steak, shrimps and even chicken! Enjoy and have a great July 4th weekend!

Zucchini pasta

Summer squash….. There is no way you can put them in any other season. The name says it all.  They are great raw, cooked, roasted, grilled, you name it.

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The other day I made a very light and pretty salad using summer squash. To make it look really good I shaved them into very thin ribbons. It was such a pretty sight.

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BUT. There was soooo much leftover of the zucchini on my kitchen counter that I had to come up with something.

And then I remembered a pasta from Italy using fried zucchini. So I decided to try and make something similar, but a bit more on the healthy side.

So what I did, I used all the leftover zucchini, chopped them and made a sauce out of them. And because I had some more small zucchinis, I cut them in half and sliced them. Pan fried those in a little bit of garlic scented olive oil, and served it with fresh basil and toasted pine nuts.

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It is a fresh, easy, quick flavorful pasta dish, and celebrating summer squash. In case you don’t need to use up your leftover zucchini bits, just follow my instructions below.

Ingredients  (yields 4)

  • 1/2 pack (8 oz)  store bought vegan pasta, preferably spaghetti
  • 8 smaller zucchini (mix green and yellow if you can)
  • 2 whole garlic cloves
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon, you will need the juice
  • 2-3 tbsp of grated hard goat cheese or pecorino or parmesan
  • handful of basil leaves
  • 1 tbsp of toasted pine nuts
  • salt, black pepper and hot paprika (not smoked!) to taste

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 Instructions

  1. Lengthwise cut your zucchinis in half. Then slice them into 1/4 inch slices.
  2. Heat 2tbsp olive oil and add 2 garlic cloves.
  3. Toast the garlic only a few minutes carefully, not to burn and remove from pan.
  4. Fry the zucchini slices in the garlic oil, for only a few minutes so that they have color but will not fall apart. Fry them in batches if needed, so they all get some color instead of steaming them…
  5. Save and keep warm 1/2 of the zucchini for plating and put the rest back in the pan.
  6. Add the minced garlic cloves, stirring constantly, so it will not burn, squeeze over the lemon juice, add salt, black pepper, hot paprika and some water, just to keep it moistened. Cover and cook on low heat for about 10 minutes, when the zucchini slices start to fall apart.
  7. At the moment when you cover the zucchini, start cooking your pasta in salted water and add 1 tbsp olive oil too. If you start cooking the pasta at that point, it will be ready when your sauce is ready, and you can use the pasta cooking water to finish your sauce.
  8. When the zucchini is soft enough, smash them a little bit with a fork or masher. Add some pasta cooking liquid and mix in the cheese. This all will create a sauce. You will not need to use anything else. You can adjust anytime with some extra cooking water and/or grated cheese.
  9. Serve the pasta with the sauce, the fried zucchini slices and
  10. Finish off with tiny basil leaves or sliced ones, freshly grated black pepper (lots), cheese and pine nuts.
  11. Make sure you have a glass of chilled white wine with it too!

ENJOY!

What to do with squash blossoms?

Do yo know the difference between a male and a female squash blossom?

It is so easy to tell them apart. And you should never feel sorry for eating the males 🙂 Because they are the ones that will never turn into a squash/zucchini. They die at being a blossom. In this photo below the only female blossom is the one that ends in a tiny zucchini. All the others are males.  I either buy the female blossom still attached to the baby zucchini or the male one which is the blossom only.

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How to work with zucchini blossoms?

They are edible flowers. As such, can be consumed raw and cooked. In any way they need to be handled with care. Very delicate, beautiful flowers. I always rinse them with cold water, very carefully, place them on a paper towel to soak most of the water. Then take another piece of paper, big enough to wrap all. I will put them carefully on the paper, wrap them and place them in a plastic box and keep in the fridge. They are good for a few days, but will soon discolor. They are perfectly fine still, to be used , preferably fried at that point.

So let’s see a few ideas on what to do with zucchini blossoms?

I think the rule of thumb is that you are welcome to use them anywhere where zucchini, or squash could be used.  So why don’t you make a

Shaved zucchini salad

keep it raw, or put the ribbons for a minute on the griddle and add blossoms, soft, fresh feta, toasted pine nuts and a lemon thyme vinaigrette?

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For brunch

These blossoms look amazing and tastes so good in your fritatta! Simply mix some eggs with soft, creamy cheese such as chevre, ricotta, burrata, add herbs like parsley, basil, chive, mix and top it with the blossoms. Put the frittata in your oven and bake to perfection.

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For a gorgeous appetizer

try and pair them with tomato. I made a dish where I prepared a simple ceviche of heirloom tomatoes, which means marinating the tomatoes for a very short time in lemon juice, shallots,salt, pepper and some herbs like chopped cilantro or parsley. Then, in this case I used the blossoms as a shell to be stuffed. Any soft cheese (ricotta, chevre, farmer’s cheese) is great here, the blossoms will only be the carrier for the cheese that you eventually eat with the tomato ceviche.

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This is such a delicious and balanced combination of sweet-tart tomatoes, creamy ricotta and crispy blossoms, with some fragrant micro herbs.

For the filling I used ricotta, sauteed spinach, minced garlic, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, chives. Carefully open the blossoms and fill them halfway. Then pinch the middle of the flower, just where your filling ends, and carefully twist, so it closes.

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Dip in egg-wash and breadcrumb. Quickly fry them. Serve them immediately on top of the tomato ceviche with micro herbs.DSC_5499

How about a soup? Corn pairs so well with summer squash!

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Here, I filled the blossoms with cooked corn, farmer’s cheese and a jalapeno filling. Dipped them in cornflour and quickly fried them. To keep the corn theme, I made a corn veloute, which is creamy corn soup. I cooked the corn for 5 minutes in just enough water to cover them. Then I cut the kernels off the cob and saved the water!. Saved some of the kernels for the filling and plating. Sauteed the corn in some butter, added flour and the water I used for the cooking. Brought to a boil, cooked for 10-15 minutes and blended. Seasoned with salt, pepper, and a  little bit of sour cream. You can also add some sauteed chanterelle or crispy bacon. They go very well with both corn and squash. Finished off my soup with young cilantro leaves and chive blossoms.

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I hope you now feel like using these blossoms and will go to the market and get some! Enjoy!

Ricotta and peach crepes

You will probably see from my posts that I don’t bake a lot. The reason for that is I am not the cake, cookie, biscuit type of person. If I had to chose between a savory dish and piece of perfect cake, I would take the savory dish. 100% of the time.

But this doesn’t mean I don’t eat any sweets. I just simply like other types. I love trifles, crepes, meringue roulade, layered creamy, fruity pots with caramel, chocolate, whipped cream, etc…. 🙂  And these are the kinds of desserts I make when we have dinner guests.

Now that summer is in full swing, the market is overloaded with peach and nectarine. They are not my favorite fruits, but this year they are AMAZING! Farmers at the market told me that this is the result of a cooler winter and the fruits are really great this year. They are just as good as the ones I remember from Hungary. Juicy and sweet with a touch of tartness.

Peach is really good poached, grilled, baked and matches perfectly with almond, ricotta, farmers cheese, lemon, mint. So you can come up with many things that involve these ingredients. I chose one for you which is really simple and if you listen to my advice on how to, you can make a really flavorful and balanced dessert.

The dessert will have 3 components. Crepes, peach in syrup, lemon scented ricotta.

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CREPES

ingredients (makes 12 small ones)

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup full fat milk
  • 2 tbsp sparkling water
  • 1/2 cup flour (approximate, depends on many things. mix in just as much to get cream thickness
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbs melted butter

instructions

Mix egg, milk, sparkling water. Add sifted flour. Adjust amount to get the thickness of cream. Season with salt and sugar. Put in the fridge for at least 3-4 hours, better overnight. Take batter out of the fridge 30 minutes before starting to make crepes. Before starting to make crepes add 1 tbsp of melted butter, give it a last stir. If you find it is too thick add a bit of sparkling water.

PEACH IN SYRUP

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ingredients ( for 12 small crepes )

  • 4 bigger, ripe but not too soft peaches, halved and pitted.
  • 1/2 cup and 2 tbsp raw cane sugar
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • water
  • juice of half of a lemon

instructions

Put peaches in a pot in a single layer. Try and use just as big of a pot so that the peaches can take up all the space. Otherwise you will need way too much more water and sugar. Add water, sugar and almond extract and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Do not cover! Cook on low heat until peaches cooked but will not fall into pieces. Take peaches out and continue to cook the syrup so it can get thicker. Cook until it has thickness of cream. Put peaches back in the pot, add some mint springs and lemon verbena if you have it and let it cool.

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RICOTTA CREAM

ingredients

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 15 oz ricotta at room temp (1/2kg tehenturo – for Hungarians)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

instructions

Mix egg yolks with sugar until fully dissolved and lightens up in color and grows a bit of volume. Add ricotta, vanilla, lemon zest and juice and mix with a fork thoroughly. Keep it in the fridge if you don’t use it immediately.

Assemble the crepes

Put 1-2 tsp of ricotta on one quarter of the crepe. Add a few slices of peach. Fold into half and half again, so you get the triangle shape. Try one, to see how much filling you like. I find that one crepe needs a little bit less than half of a peach.

To serve drizzle some syrup over the crepe, sprinkle with chopped mint and toasted, chopped almond. Almond is a must!!!!

ENJOY!

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Lemon basil pasta with baked salmon

I have been making this pasta for about 20 years….. I am sure everyone coming to us for dinner had this at some point :).  It is an amazingly flavorful dish which is the direct result of fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic and basil. The sauce itself is something like a cross between a pesto and vinaigrette. You don’t need to cook it, you can make it in advance and just pour over the freshly cooked pasta and everything comes to life.

You can serve it just as it is or with a piece of baked fish, just as I did. It is really good with salmon and also great with grilled shrimp.

 

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How to adjust this dish to suit any kinds of dietary requirements?

You can make the dish with any kind of pasta. We tried with many different ones and I think linguine is the best, a good quality, whole grain kind, that has a great texture and sauce can stick to it. But feel free to use whatever your preference. If you have dietary requirements, you can buy gluten free pasta or make it with zucchini spirals, just like this.

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If you don’t eat seafood, you can add fennel. Shave a fennel into very thin slices and braise it in olive oil, a little bit of white wine, salt and pepper. Finally add to the pasta.

And for vegans, in this picture I made it raw and vegan. I used all the ingredients of the sauce as detailed below but didn’t add butter. Instead of the parmigiano region I prepared this dish with a vegan pine nut parmesan.

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The basic ingredients of the sauce, that will determine the flavor profile is lemon, basil and garlic.

Your lemon should be organic, not waxed because you will use the zest too. Both basil and garlic has to be fresh and very good quality.

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If you decide to make the pasta with baked salmon, the easiest way to bake it “en papillote”. This means in parchment paper. This cooking method is really great for fish. Put the fish on a piece of parchment, season with salt, pepper, a few lemon slices, fennel fonds and wrap the paper into a parcel, twisting the paper on both ends, to close it and it will hold the moisture and steam the fish.

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Lemon basil pasta ingredients and instructions (yields 4 )

  • your choice and amount of pasta
  • 1/2 cup light olive oil
  • 4 tbsp melted but not hot butter
  • big bunch (4 oz) of fresh basil, chopped both finely and bigger pieces (you can chop it in food processor, but I prefer the texture of handcut)
  • zest and juice of 2 lemons (first zest it and then squeeze the juice)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  •  1 tsp chili flakes (more or less depending on your heat tolerance)
  • about 1/2 cup of fresh, grated parmigiano-reggiano (use as much so it will make the sauce thick)
  • salt, black pepper to taste

Mix ingredients in the order of appearance in a big enough bowl that can accommodate the pasta too! If you let this stand, it will get thicker and harden, but don’t worry. The steaming hot pasta will liquify it. Once your pasta is cooked, drain it, save a little bit of cooking water, and mix pasta with this sauce immediately. If you feel it is not saucy enough, you can add a little bit of cooking water and mix thoroughly.

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Serve pasta with torn pieces of salmon,  fresh fennel fonds, a few tiny basil leaves and a slice of baked lemon. Grate some fresh parmesan on top. ENJOY!