Hope everyone had a wonderful Fourth of July holiday. I skipped writing the column last week, because I was elbow deep in parsley, making tabbouleh (also known as tabblouli), grape leaves and the rest of the Lebanese feast for my family. When your girl cousins come in from out of state, you do what you should – make it worth their trip. It was a lovely time hanging with the family, and I think I’m mostly rested up from all the excitement and action.
Are you guilty of filling your freezer and forgetting what in the world is in there? Well, you’re not the only one. I’m super guilty of it. I promised Randy I would work my way through that freezer and slow down on buying groceries until I’ve made a good dent. I won’t tell you how long I’ve been working on it, because you might call me a food hoarder. But I will tell you we’ve had many nutritious, delicious meals, ranging from burgers on the grill with Caesar salad to creamy pesto crusted salmon and about everything else in between.
I asked Randy what to do with the turkey we forgot about and he said to wait until it’s cold outside. I think maybe we’ll smoke it and get it gone. Perhaps we’ll have a party, because a turkey for two is a whole lot of turkey to eat. Needless to say, I’m still chiseling away at the freezer bounty. It’s a bit refreshing to think that in case there was some sort of natural disaster, as long as we had electricity, we could indeed feed the neighbors for at least a week.
I skipped the farmers market over the holiday weekend but visited again on Saturday. I’m so grateful that the downtown market has really come to life and has such a fantastic variety of produce, meats and baked goods. For quite a few years, it was lacking. You must, however, be discerning in what you purchase or you might come home with way more produce than you can consume in a week. Beautiful produce literally lures me in like nothing else. I once met my match on that at a chef dinner in Boston, and this woman told me she’d wept in the produce section of a certain retailer. I haven’t ever wept around the produce, but I am in awe of its natural, perfect beauty.
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I bought some gorgeous zucchini, chives that are picture perfect, Chow Chow mix and pickled okra from Kan Grow Hydro Farm, Persian lime olive oil from Olio’s Market and a perfectly ripe and oh-so-sweet cantaloupe.
One of the zucchini has already been spiralized to make “pasta” to accompany a summer Bolognese sauce I delivered to a friend who had surgery. Randy’s devoured the cantaloupe since I already had prosciutto to wrap it with – we discovered that incredibly perfect combination on our trip to Italy years ago.
The Chow Chow mix is a slightly sweet pickled mixture of bean sprouts, carrots and thinly sliced cucumber. I’ve enjoyed it by itself and on top of grilled sausages, too. I marinated some chicken breasts – yes, they came from the freezer – in the lime olive oil with some adobo seasoning and chipotle lime rub. The rub smells and tastes like all the wonderful flavors of Mexican food – citrus with a slight heat, garlic and salt. I topped my already whipped-up chicken salad with chopped chive, and it amazes me what a little bit of fresh herbs can do. The chive elevated an already tasty chicken salad to a real treat. I eat chicken salad on rice crackers because I’m addicted to the crunchy foods.
A few people have asked me for “What to make for dinner?” recipes in my column. If you whip up these two quick, summery recipes, you can have a light summer dinner. I relish in the simplicity of how efficient cooking is in the summer evenings. With so much incredible produce to choose from, the possibilities are endless.
This Roasted Shrimp with Cocktail Sauce takes an ordinary thing and really makes it something worth serving to guests or enjoying on the patio. Roasting the shrimp offers a chance to caramelize them a bit, giving the shrimp more flavor, and the cocktail sauce is just a handful of ingredients mixed together and makes you never want to grab a bottle of the already-mixed stuff again.
Carry on with your summer vegetables, and soak up the parties on the patio.
ZUCCHINI CORN PANCAKES
2 medium zucchini (about 3/4 pound)
2 tablespoons grated red onion
1/2 cup corn kernels (frozen works great, thawed)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 to 8 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Unsalted butter and vegetable oil
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Grate the zucchini on a large box grater or with the grating attachment in a food processor. Immediately stir in the corn, onion and eggs. Stir in 6 tablespoons flour, the baking powder, salt and pepper. (If the batter gets too thin from the zucchini, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour.)
Heat a large saute pan over medium heat and melt 1/2 tablespoon butter and 1/2 tablespoon oil together in the pan. When the butter is hot but not smoking, lower the heat to medium-low and drop heaping soup spoons of batter into the pan. Cook the pancakes about 2 minutes per side, until golden brown. Place the pancakes on a sheet pan and keep warm in the oven until you are ready to serve. Wipe out the pan with a dry paper towel, add more butter and oil to the pan and continue to fry the pancakes until all the batter is used. The pancakes can stay warm in the oven up to 30 minutes. Serve hot.
ROASTED SHRIMP WITH COCKTAIL SAUCE
2 pounds large shrimp
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup Heinz chili sauce
1/2 cup Heinz ketchup
3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Peel and de-vein the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Place them on a sheet pan with olive oil, salt and pepper and spread them in one layer. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes, just until pink and firm and cooked through.
For the sauce, combine all ingredients and stir well. Serve as a dip for the shrimp.
Recipe from Barefoot Contessa