zucchini fritti, lemon and parmesan salad

zucchini fritti salad with lemon, italian parsley,parmesan and pine nuts

This past week in the month of March has been eventful; what with the Ides of March, Saint Patrick’s Day and the Feast of San Giuseppe going on, you can’t help but notice there’s transition in the air. One foot in front of the other, steadfastly marching toward — Spring.

It’s going to be a few more weeks (at least where I live) before true, seasonal produce will start to influence the next half year of my cooking; garden seeds are starting to sprout and trees are budding somewhere with the promise of summer fruit.

Although I think of them as a full-blown summer kind of thing, at this time of year I’m not ashamed to take advantage of cute little zucchini grown in far more southern climates than the one I live in, to help bridge the gap between darkness and light; brown root vegetables and green, leafy plants.

I’ve been getting itty-bitty zucchini at my local Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods markets over the past few months and this salad has become a major craving. It’s a personal preference, but I like small zucchini best, for this recipe and in general; I find as they mature and swell to a diameter larger than about an inch and a half, the flesh will likely have more seeds and become waterlogged and soggy when cooked.

zucchini fritti salad with lemon and parmesan

It could be the inclusion of lemon that gives this combination of ingredients a spirit of freshness, making me think of impromptu, warm weather eating, something I’m looking forward to.

My appetite was sparked a while back by a recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, a blog I am both inspired by and admire from afar. I appreciate Gwyneth’s obvious passion for  food. And while I can relate to her clean, modern, yet down-to-earth style aesthetic I have to leave the $150 sweat pants in a neatly folded pile at her web store. Food I will indulge in; my fashion budget is far less opulent.

Shopping aside, Gwyneth has great taste – zucchini fritti are delicious and dare I say healthy (…yes, I did). I took her idea and ran with it. A light coating of rice flour and a little hot olive oil transforms the neutral nature of zucchini and makes me think of tempura.  You could easily eat fritti all on their own as a crunchy snack, but making a salad with the hot, crisp zucchini turns this into a simple meal.

zucchini fritti salad with lemon, parsley and parmesan

zucchini fritti salad with lemon, parsley and parmesan

Serving Size: serves 2 - 4

Ingredients

¾ pound baby or small zucchini, between ½ - 1 inch in diameter

½ small red onion, thinly sliced

2 – 3 tablespoons brown or white rice flour

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

½ lemon, cut into wedges

Salt

¼ cup pine nuts, roughly chopped

½ cup picked Italian parsley leaves

Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese, for shaving

Instructions

  1. Slice the zucchini into coins about 1/2-inch wide; put them in a bowl with the onion and toss with enough rice flour to coat evenly.
  2. Heat a 12-inch (preferably non-stick) skillet over medium high heat until hot. Pour in the olive oil and heat until it just begins to shimmer.
  3. Put the zucchini-onion mixture and lemon slices into the pan, cut side down. Season with a generous pinch of salt and cook undisturbed for 2 or 3 minutes, until the zucchini turns dark golden brown on one side.
  4. Flip the zucchini over, either by shaking the pan or with a wooden spatula, to cook the other side. Add the pine nuts to the pan and sprinkle with a little more salt.
  5. Remove from the heat; stir in the parsley. Squeeze the juice from the fried lemons over the salad and serve right away topped with shaved cheese.
http://familystylefood.com/2013/03/zucchini-fritti-lemon-and-parmesan-salad/

whole meyer lemon semolina cake

whole meyer lemon semolina cake

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might know I have a thing for anything lemon-y. That is, things that contain lemon peel, juice, oil, zest, flesh…

In other words, the very essence of lemon is delicious to me.

Which is why I was drawn to the idea of this cake. I saw a recipe for Whole Orange Cake in this month’s Sunset Magazine (The Food Lover’s Issue, which is terrific, by the way).

meyer lemon semolina cake

I do care deeply for other kinds of citrus, including oranges, but since Meyer lemons are at their peak season right now I thought they might be a good swap for oranges.

Meyer lemons are a cross between a type of tangerine and a lemon, so they have a milder, sweeter bite than the typical Eureka lemon, with a more delicate, thin skin. They are a great choice to use whole – skin, flesh and all – in the batter.


meyer lemon semolina cake

There’s semolina in my version of this cake – it’s the same finely ground durum flour used to make pasta, with a nice mild yellow color that seems to get along with lemon.

And the cake smells incredible while it’s baking, kind of like a pot of spaghetti with lemon sugar all over it. No, not really like that, but it does have an enticing aroma while in the oven.

The resulting crumb is moist. And lemony. So lemony, with just a tiny bit of bitterness from the peel. If you enjoy candied citrus peel, you’ll know the kind of sweet bitterness I’m talking about.

whole meyer lemon semolina cake

Emiko posted a recipe for an old-fashioned Italian semolina cake on her blog – I would love a bite of that, too.

whole meyer lemon semolina cake with yogurt-olive oil glaze

This cake is baked in a small (sometimes called a "mini" or half-size) Bundt pan. If you don't have that size pan, you can use a 6 - 8 cup fluted pan, but the height of the cake will be shorter.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon plus 1 stick butter (1/2 cup), at room temperature

1 tablespoon plus 1 cup all-purpose flour

2 Meyer lemons

½ cup semolina flour

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

¼ teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

½ cup natural cane sugar or granulated sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

For glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted to remove lumps

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon Greek yogurt (plain or vanilla flavored)

1 teaspoon fresh Meyer lemon or plain lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Use your fingers to smear 1 tablespoon butter all over the inside and into the nooks and crannies of a small (3 - 4 cup capacity) Bundt pan (6 – 7 inches in diameter). Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the flour into the pan and rotate to distribute the flour in an even coating over the butter. Knock out any excess flour by tapping the pan upside down. This is an important step to ensure your cake doesn’t stick to the pan.
  3. Cut the lemons into wedges and remove the seeds. Put the lemons in a food processor and process until fairly smooth – it’s okay if some very small pieces of peel are visible – you should have about 1 cup.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk remaining 1 cup flour together with the semolina, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
  5. Beat the remaining stick of butter with the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy; beat in the eggs one at a time.
  6. Add the lemon puree to the mixer and beat until combined; add the flour mixture and stir until smooth. Spread the batter evenly into the Bundt pan; bake 40 – 45 minutes, or until a toothpick emerges from the cake with a few moist crumbs. Cool the cake in the pan 10 minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.
  7. To make the glaze, stir together all the ingredients until smooth; add 1 teaspoon or more water to reach a thick but pourable consistency. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake and let it set before slicing.

Notes

http://familystylefood.com/2013/02/whole-meyer-lemon-semolina-cake/

rosemary no. 3 – blood orange negroni

rosemary negroni cocktail
I traveled to Chicago late last fall with a few of my best-est girlfriends. It’s an annual trip, filled with drinks, shopping, drinks, eating and more shopping – fun, right?

This year, the most memorable dining and drinking experience for me (aside from a-mazing tacos and margeritas at Big Star) was at the restaurant Balena. The food is just the kind I’m always hungry for; simple, rustic Italian with a fresh, seasonal slant.

Seriously, everything on the menu is something you want to eat, which makes it hard to choose. I’m glad there were enough of us that we were able to order a table full of things to share. But let me back up a little.

rosemary blood orange negroni

Before we got down to enjoying delicious food, we had a short wait at the very crowded bar, where I had a drink I’ve been craving ever since. The entire cocktail selection has a flavor profile of Italian bitters; flavored with components like Campari and Amaro.

I ordered the Rosemary no.2 – Campari, Aperol, fresh sour mix, egg white and a flaming rosemary sprig for a garnish. It was a perfect combination of sweet-sour-bitter, and the lofty egg white foam on top was better than whipped cream.

I was in the mood to try to recreate the drink last weekend and did a little research. I found this video of Debbi Peek, the Mixologist who created the cocktail program at Balena, demoing the Rosemary no.2 along with a few other drinks, which gave me a good place to start. I got to work improvising, and came up with a pretty close approximation, which I thought appropriate to name the Rosemary no.3.

I made the drink a Negroni by adding some gin and vermouth, muddled the rosemary rather than set it on fire, and used fresh blood orange and lemon juice with some sugar to replace the fresh sour mix they use at the bar.

However, my egg white foam wasn’t nearly as impressive as the one topping my original drink; I think my mixologist muscles need a bit more work. I settled on whisking the egg white until thick and foamy before adding it to the shaker. I almost pulled out my cream whipper for the job, which would make more sense if I were making a batch of drinks for friends

rosemary blood orange negroni

For more on perfecting egg white cocktail foam, I liked this tutorial by Jamie Boudreau.

Also, Not Martha has a method to achieve a seriously beautiful egg white cocktail foam on a classic Ramos gin fizz..

rosemary no. 3 – blood orange negroni

Yield: one drink

Ingredients

1 egg white

1 sprig rosemary, plus more for garnish

1 thin slice blood orange or juice orange

1 tablespoon lemon juice

½ teaspoon superfine sugar

Juice of 1 blood orange or juice orange

2 ounces Aperol or Campari

2 ounces gin

1 ounce sweet vermouth

Instructions

  1. Whisk the egg white in a bowl until very it turns very foamy and opaque.
  2. Muddle the rosemary, blood orange, lemon juice and sugar in a cocktail shaker to crush and release their fragrance.
  3. Add crushed ice to the shaker along with the egg white and the rest of the ingredients; cover and shake vigorously for up to 5 minutes – or as long as your arm can take.
  4. Strain into a cocktail glass; garnish with a rosemary sprig.
http://familystylefood.com/2013/02/rosemary-no-3-blood-orange-negroni/