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Zucchini Patties

What do I have to say about zucchini? Not much, really. It’s a staple of summer and a vehicle for whatever flavorings you want. It comes together quickly when grilled or sautéed. It makes a pretty mean soup; as does it’s friend, yellow summer squash. But really, I don’t have much to say about zucchini, which is why it’s taken my a decent 6 months to get to trying this recipe I’m sharing below.

That’s a shame, because once the patties came together, we snacked on them all week; once or twice for dinner and also in between larger meals. And they were tasty. Crispy crunchy from the time spent browning in a sauté pan; heartier than they look thanks to the addition of chickpeas.

Over dinner, Casey and I brainstormed the ways in which we could use this base for improvisation. Maybe adding some carrot, corn, or other shredded veggie or fresh herbs? Adding warm Indian spices? Whipping up harissa yogurt for the sauce? I know it can be daunting when there are endless possibilities, but these patties really are a blank slate.

Cook up a big batch over the weekend and have them around the house all week for snacks! We stored ours in an air tight container, separated by wax paper.

Zucchini Patties | Kitchen Notes

Zucchini Patties, adapted from Whole Living

  • 1 15.5 ounce can of drained and rinsed chickpeas
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 zucchini, grated
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 1 egg, whisked lightly
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Generous sprinkling of freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil, for sautéing

Using a food processor’s shredding feature, whirl the zucchini and onion through the machine. I know, I know — food processors aren’t always the most fun to clean, but here they get the job done! Set aside the grated veggies; wipe out the food processor. With the chopping blade, whirl the chickpeas until smooth.

In a separate bowl, combine together the smashed chickpeas, zucchini, onion, egg, and salt. Form into patties, about 4 inches by 1/2 inches.

Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a nonstick sauté pan. Add the patties in batches — try not to over crowd the pan — and sauté until crisp and golden, roughly 2-3 min per side. I like mine a little burnt, so feel free to leave them in a bit longer until more brown than golden.

As the patties finish, allow them to rest on a wire rack that has been sprayed with cooking spray or brushed with olive oil.

Serve patties in halved pitas, with lettuce and plain Greek yogurt spiked with lime zest.

Zucchini Patties | Kitchen Notes

 

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Ginger and Brussel Sprout Potstickers | Kitchen Notes

I’m on an Asian-flavor kick as of late. For lunch I’ve been making delicious salads with veggies and either a spicy peanut or sesame dressing. We’re rotating in an Asian – fusion dish into almost every week’s dinner rotation. I keep wanting to go to the Asian restaurant near work and order their vermicelli noodle bowl. I’m apparently crushing on Asian flavors.

Which means I took myself on adventure and spent an hour and half of my weekend home making potstickers. (Confession time: cooking time is also where I catch up on all my ABC dramas. Maybe that explains my lack of photography while cooking?). The short of the story is this: potstickers are delicious. Once made, they freeze well and cook up speedy on a weeknight you forgot to plan something. To make them though, it took my inexperienced self one hour to fill 20 little potstickers. Maybe if I hadn’t been catching up on Revenge, this would have gone quicker.

Ginger and Brussel Sprouts | Kitchen Notes

The trickiest part for me was the folding and pinching of the potstickers themselves. Too much water, and the wrapper gets too gummy, sticking to the work surface. Too little water, and the wrapper doesn’t stick together. I managed to get into a routine of making two potstickers, wiping down the work surface to dry it, and restarting the process. In my research, I found The Steamy Kitchen and the source recipe to be helpful in the process of actually folding the potstickers. I defer to their wisdom for directions.

Am I proud of my accomplishment? Absolutely! Will you find me making these by hand again soon? Maybe for a special occasion. Or a potsicker making party with friends.

Ginger and Brussel Sprouts | Kitchen Notes

 

Ginger and Brussel Sprouts Potstickers, loosely adapted from Naturally Ella

  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 1/4 cup of shredded Brussels Sprouts (about 3/4 of bag of the Trader Joe’s pre-shredded)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon freshly minced ginger
  • 2 generous tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 generous tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 20 pot sticker wrappers

For cooking the pot stickers:

  • 1 tablespoon sesame or canola oil
  • Gyoza, soy sauce, or other dipping sauce
  • Garnishes – lettuce, freshly chopped herbs, or sesame seeds

In a large skillet or saute pan, head the sesame oil. Add the onion and cook for about 2-4 minutes on medium heat, until translucent. Add in the next three ingredients. Cook until the Brussels Sprouts are tender (4-10 minutes, depending on if yo shredded the sprouts yourself or went with the pre-shredded).  Stir in the parsley and cilantro. Remove from heat.

For actually making the potstickers, I am no expert. So I’m going to link you to the source recipe and to Steam Kitchen, where Ella and Jaden do a much better job than I of illustrating the steps.

Once the potstickers are folded, we’re at the point of being able to freeze them. If that’s the route we’re taking, line a baking sheet with plastic wrap. Place the potstickers on the sheet, making sure none of them are touching. Freeze for at least 1-2 hours. Once frozen, the potstickers can be transferred to an air tight container. To cook with frozen potstickers, follow the steps below. There is no need to thaw the out.

For cooking, heat the oil over medium heat. Place the potstickers in the pan with space around. Cook for about 2 – 2 1/2 minutes (if using frozen; for unfrozen, take about a minute off).   Your looking for the bottom to be browned. Pour in enough water to simmer the potstickers (1/4 to 1/3 cup, depending on pan size). Place a lid on the pan and simmer for 3-5 minutes, until the wrappers are tender.

Serve with your choice of toppings.

Potstickers |Kitchen Notes

I’m having a hard time believing it’s Easter weekend. Not because I don’t like Easter – chocolate, spring colors, chocolate (what’s not to love?) – but because it feels too early this year. Or too late in the year.

Or, perhaps it’s easier for me to say: It’s hard to believe April is just around the weekend. Where did March go? March was a good month, resplendent with jeweled couscous, mexican hot chocolate cookies, and a delicious birthday cake. Yet, March proved to be more than these three dishes and also proved to move too quickly for me to write about the other ones. (Note how I am blaming the month, not my procrastination).

Here’s a snapshot of what we ate in March, including additional pizza adventures. With my long weekend, I’m promising myself to stop procrastinating and get these recipes out to you! How are you spending your weekend?

a flavorful, caramelized veggie and chickpea hash

a flavorful, caramelized veggie and chickpea hash

a soup made for spring: asparagus and parmesan soup

a soup made for spring: asparagus and parmesan soup

german cheesecake - light fluffy, and not too sweet

german cheesecake – light fluffy, and not too sweet

a flavorful stir fry with steak and brussels sprouts, courtesy of BA

a flavorful stir fry with steak and brussels sprouts, courtesy of BA

Casey made this with the lovely pizza peel he received for his birthday...

Casey made this with the lovely pizza peel he received for his birthday…

Jeweled Couscous

We are a little behind the power curve here at Chez Parker (because, let’s just be honest, it’s his house. Don’t try to tell him otherwise). That’s why, I’m sharing with you what Casey ate for Valentines day dinner. In March. Because, it’s not that day that matters, it’s the sentiment…er, right?

We’re not the most celebratory of couples, and I love to focus our celebrations around special meals, such as personalized cakes for birthdays and cooking a meal we wouldn’t normally make for events like Valentine’s Day and anniversaries.  I don’t remember when I learned about Casey’s affection for lamb, but whenever I’ve wanted to make a special dinner, I always start with a lamb dish.

For Valentine’s Day, I found six lovely lamb loin chops at Trader Joe’s, which I purchased without looking at the price tag, because it was for Valentine’s day and I was at Trader Joe’s on an empty stomach (oops). They were delicious, and while I don’t recall the marinade I used, it went something like this: four garlic cloves, big handfuls of parsley and mint, pine nuts (maybe a 1/4 cup), salt, dash of red pepper flake, juice from one lemon, and olive oil all blitzed together in the food processor. I covered the lamb in the herb marinade, let it sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Casey then took over the process on the grill.

I think the real jewel of dinner was the jeweled couscous. Inspired by a sweet saffron rice I ate in Philadelphia with N., I cooked Isreali Couscous in saffron broth and sweetened it with sugar, pomegranate seeds, dried cranberries, pistachios, and green onions. The finished dish was a warmly hued, mildly sweet side dish that complemented the lamb. Plus, it looked pretty to boot. See the recipe below the picture.

Jeweled Couscous and Lamb

Jeweled Couscous

  • 1 3/4 cup water with a pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 cup pearl couscous
  • 1/4 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 3 Tbs sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Bring the water to a boil, then add the couscous. Cover with a lid and remove from heat for ten minutes. Fluff with a fork and stir in sugar, salt, and remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust salt or sweetness level to your desired flavor. Served with grilled lamb or chicken.

couscous 2.0

Cauliflower Pesto

So, it’s January 8th already. I’ve made my way through two fantastic cookbooks already this year (surprise surprise, I posted both of them in Weekend Finds). And I’m going to take the time to gush about one in-depth. Yes, it came out in October of last year. Yes, it’s been reviewed to high heaven. Yes, it’s an Amazon.com best seller (and was from, like, day one). And yes, part of me wants to be Deb when I grow up. Except with a bigger kitchen. Yes, I’m gushing about the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. I borrowed it from the library in November 2012; as I marked almost each recipe “to try” I knew I would benefit from owning this book. And I have. Since unwrapping it for Christmas, I’ve read it again (twice!), and sometimes I just pull it out to look through the pictures and get ideas.

Here’s the deal, I’m going to share an adapted recipe from the book: Cauliflower Pesto. I was skeptical at first. But in the vein of a New Year’s resolution to try new things and cook one new recipe a week, I let Deb be my guide. She and her blog had never failed me in the past, so why would they start now?

Casey was also skeptical of the dish, but his verdict after eating half his bowl was that it reminded him of a healthier carbonara. When you pulse the cauliflower (and I roasted mine prior to blitzing) in a food processor then stir it in with blitzed parmesan, sun dried tomatoes, fresh herbs, salt, pepper, and garlic, the cauliflower takes on a new flavor profile. I tossed my pesto with whole wheat linguine, fresh chopped parsley, and a sprinkle more of parmesan. This made for a perfect Monday night supper.

Cauliflower Pesto2

Cauliflower Pesto, adapted from Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

  • 1 head of cauliflower, core removed and chopped into florets
  • 2 large cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup roasted almonds
  • 2-4 dry packed sun dried tomatoes (I found mine at a farmers market grocery)
  • 2 ounce chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/4 fresh, chopped flat leaf parsley
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • 3 -4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for roasting (if you are roasting)
  • 1-2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
  • Your choice of pasta, enough for four servings

I roasted my cauliflower first, which made the mixture a bit stickier, but still tasty. On a large baking sheet or in a baking dish, toss chopped cauliflower and garlic with additional olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Roast in a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, until cauliflower are browning. Remove and allow to cool completely.

Blitz the cooled cauliflower in a food processor until their are no large pieces and the cauliflower looks like couscous. Transfer to your mixing or serving bowl. In the same food processor, blitz almonds, sun dried tomatoes, cheese, parsley, and red pepper flakes into a bread crumb like consistency. Add this to the cauliflower mixture.

Stir in the 3 tablespoons of olive oil and sherry vinegar. Use a wooden spoon to store together the mixture.

Boil your pasta to al dente (depending on instructions) in well salted pasta water. Drain and toss with the pesto. Use reserved pasta cooking water to thin the sauce if needed. I added three pieces of crumbled bacon to my dish, which added an additional crunch. Leave off if you do not want. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary (may need salt and pepper, to taste.)

Garnish with fresh parsley and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Cauliflower Pesto Plated

Happy New Year everyone!

No quite sure which resolutions I’ll be making, but thinking of staying with something simple. Like, have more dinner parties.

Organizing RecipesI started my new year’s planning this past weekend, taking on a long-needed but oft put-aside task: sorting and organizing all the recipes clipped from food magazines. Every so often, I’d take a half-hearted approach, glancing through the pages and thinking “I’ve had this recipe for ages and never made it. Let’s change that.” And then of course, I’d never make the recipe. So this weekend was a full throttle approach: toss what I won’t/haven’t made and organize what I will make.

And today, aside from sleeping too late and accomplishing little, I put together a lovely little soup to enjoy on a crisp January day. I unearthed the foundation recipe in my organizing project: a spring minestrone that was featured last (2012) year in Bon Apetit. It’s not spring, but wouldn’t spring be lovely about now? All in all, it’s a rendition of a cool weather classic: chicken noodle. Except with meatballs, which are pretty darn tasty.

The chicken meatballs take some time and effort; please don’t be put off. They are worth it. Feel free to make this soup yours. Add greens, peas, or other vegetables, etc.

Vegetable Soup with Chicken Meatballs, adapted from Bon Apetit, 2012

To make the meatballs:

  • 1 lbs ground chicken breast
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup – or slightly less – panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 egg
  • Sprinkle (1/8 or less tsp) of red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp sweet paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Chicken Meatballs Cooking

In a bowl, combine ground chicken breast, herbs, spices, breadcrumbs, and egg. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (up to 4 hours). Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap. Remove chicken mixture from the fridge and roll into small meatballs (bite size). Place completed meatballs on the prepped cookie sheet.

Heat a frying pan with a small bit of butter (1 tsp). Once the butter starts to sizzle, add the meatballs to the pan, 5 or 6 at a time. Make sure not to crowd the pan, as it will make turning them more difficult. Brown the meatballs on all sides, about 3-4 minutes total. Remove from pan and set aside on a plate. Complete until all the meatballs are cooked, aiding more butter or olive oil as necessary. Makes about 30 meatballs. *Note, cooking time will be longer the larger your meatballs are.

Soup - Top View

For the soup:

  • 1/2 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 large celery stalks, diced
  • 2-3 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup green beans, chopped into bite sized pieces and blanched.
  • 1/2 cup orzo
  • 5 cups of chicken broth
  • Parsley and parmesan to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat one tablespoon olive oil on medium heat. Add the onion and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute until translucent, about 4 – 6 minutes. Add the celery, garlic, and carrots. Continue cooking until fragrant, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add the orzo and cook for 5 minutes. Then add the green beans and chicken meatballs (cooked prior). Simmer for another 4 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve sprinkled with parsley and parmesan.

Chicken Meatball Soup

I thought that might get your attention.

No. We didn’t have the type of cheesecake you were thinking of. Here, let me explain. About three weeks ago, my wonderful Casey – who has put up with my meat-lean cooking for the last five (!!) years – said, “I think we should eat more vegetarian.” It baffled me really. Because I’ll be honest, we eat meatless at least 2-3 times a week. Last week, we had meatless 6/7 nights.  I can run with that request. But I’ll be honest and say that we’ll probably continue what we’ve doing in the past: smaller portion of meat pair with larger portion of veggies and grain/starch.

However, if your spouse recently requested to go vegetarian, or even to try for meatless Monday, I suggest the below recipe. I found it over at 101 cookbooks and couldn’t resist making it. What a great way to use up all that zucchini that is always in my fridge.

Zucchini and Ricotta Cheesecake, from 101 Cookbooks

  • 2 cups grated zucchini – I used two large zucchini grated with a box grater
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 and 1/2 cups ricotta – I used fresh made from my local market
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 chopped spinach and parsley
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 2 large eggs, well beaten
  • 1/3 cup of crumbed goat cheese

Heat the over to 325F, with racks in the middle. I used a 9 inch spring form pan, sprayed with olive oil cooking spray.

After grating the zucchini, combine and toss with the sea salt and let sit in a strainer for ten minutes. Afterwards, squeeze out as much moisture as you can.

Combine ricotta, Parmesan, shallots, garlic, spinach, parsley, and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Stir in the eggs and mix until well combined. Carefully stir in the zucchini. Fill the springform pan and bake for about 60 minutes. Sprinkle with goat cheese and return to the oven for 20-30, until the goat cheese is melted. I had problems getting the goat cheese to turn that lovely golden color, so I put my cheesecake under the broiler for about 2 to 5 minutes. My stove is temperamental, so watch yours your broiled might be more powerful than mine.

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