Friday, September 17, 2010

I WON!! I WON!!!

Well I am an alternate anyway.  I am the alternate for the OceanSpray Tailgate Contest!!  There are 3 top finalist which leaves me in 4th place; waiting in the wings should someone be unable to participate in the cook off.  I am super excited!!!  This is my first win!  First response of any kind from my contest entries.

On October 2nd OceanSpray is holding a cranberry festival of sorts at Patriot Place.  The cook off, with the three top finalist, will be one of the events. I actually don't have all the information, they are sending me a packet informing me of the details of the event and what role I might play in it all.  I am just so excited to have placed!!!  Had to share the good news with my blog world.  I will share pictures and a full account of the event.  Hopefully one of the 3 finalist will have a huge family commitment that weekend and won't go.  Fingers crossed!  I might get a chance to cook off!!!  Yea!!!

Here is another picture of my winning recipe:  Thanksgiving Quesadillas

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

CSA - Eggplant and Zucchini Parmesan

Eggplant and Zucchini Parmesan

I have made eggplant parm maybe two times from scratch.  It is kind of like child birth; you forget how painful it is which is why you are dumb enough do it again and mid way through you think, why on earth did I do this again!?!  It is a very hot, messy, and time consuming task to bread and fry all those eggplant rounds. Of course when it comes bubbly hot out of the oven your labor of love is just perfect and you are so pleased you think - hey, I could do that again.  I have heard people talk of buying pre-cooked frozen eggplant slices.  I have searched the frozen food department high and low looking, but have yet to find such an item.  I think it is just a mystical dream product, and since no one I know will admit to actually using them, I still can't find them.

With this recipe I used both eggplant and zucchini to create a mixed parm casserole.  And I will admit my cheat;  I used a jar of sauce for this one.  I often make my own sauce, but also keep jars of good sauce on hand; Classico or Paul Newman's.  It was excellent with the jar sauce!  The big leaves of basil layered in were  perfection.

Eggplant and Zucchini Parmesan
Source:  variation on a recipe in  How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman.

1 medium eggplant
1 large zucchini
Vegetable oil for frying
Flour for dredging - about 1 cup
2 eggs
2 tablespoons of milk
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 cups tomato sauce
2 cups grated mozzarella
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 dozen fresh basil leaves

Peel the eggplant and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices.  Salt it if you like.

Side note on Salting Eggplant:  I have been salting eggplants lately, it does seem to make them sweeter and less rubbery when cooked.  I have seen a few ways to do it.  I use to lay the eggplant in single layers on cookie sheets then salt, but they sit in the water that comes out then.  This time I layered them in a colander so the water sort of ran out.  I left them salted in the colander for about 1/2 hour then rinsed them and patted dry with paper towels.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Heat about 3-4 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium/high heat.  You can use olive oil for better quality.  I find since this process uses so much oil and you really just want to get a crisp fry that vegetable oil is a more economical choice for this process.  Just my opinion.

Use shallow bowls or plates to create a dipping line.  You need 2 plates; plate of flour and plate of egg/milk slightly beaten.  Dip eggplant and zucchini in flour then egg/milk then flour again and drop into the hot oil.  Fry a few minutes each side till golden brown then place on paper lined plate to drain/cool.  You will have to fry the eggplant and zucchini rounds in batches.  This takes a bit of time, but it is the process.

Once all the eggplant and zucchini are fried it is time to prepare the baking dish.  I use a glass baking dish 9X13.  Spoon about 3/4 cup of sauce on the bottom of the pan.  Layer the eggplant on the bottom.  Top with 1/2 the cheese then some sauce and finally top with whole fresh basil leaves.  Now add a layer of zucchini, again top with cheese, sauce, basil then top the whole thing with fresh grated Parmesan. 

Bake 20-30 minutes or until hot and bubbling.  Serve hot or at room temp.  Uses leftovers for Eggplant Parm Sandwiches.  Delicious!
  Salted the eggplant in a colander so the water could properly drain.  Layered them with lots of salt.

I had a huge light green zucchini so I sliced it up and made it with the eggplant.  Nice addition.

Frying them up in the pan!  It really takes a while when you can only fit 4 at a time.

 Resting and waiting for their turn in the parm pan!

 Ready for the oven!

Monday, September 13, 2010

CSA Update

I have lost track of what week of the CSA we are in, must be more than 1/2 way through the 20 weeks.  I have loved being in the CSA!  It is like Christmas every Tuesday afternoon. Each week we get to experience which foods are in the prime of their harvest and then watch them go out of season based on the abundance in the weekly box.  I have learned about new vegetables I would never buy or even find at my local grocery store.  My husband has enjoyed the CSA as well, but is getting a bit tired of the camera being filled with pictures of vegetables.  They are just so beautiful I can't help but take pictures!  Here is a bit a pictorial summary of the past few CSA weeks.  

Tomato madness!!  We were over run for a few weeks with our own plants, the neighbor's gifts and the CSA box.  I froze a bunch for winter stews, chili and pasta sauce.

A gift from Tony, my Italian neighbor.  Lots of Roma and cherry tomatoes.  It is amazing the harvest this man can reap from the tiny little yard he has.

Another beautiful box of freshness!

White radish.  Who knew!?!  Sort of like a mix between a radish and a turnip.  We used them in the first crock pot stew of the Fall season.  I still have a few.  Not sure what else to do.  When I googled it I got a lot of Chinese recipes.

Sooooo many peppers in the past few weeks.  Had stuffed peppers for a dinner party when the Canadians were visiting then I just chopped and froze a dozen.  I chopped them into strips and put them in freezer bags, figure I can grab and go with them all winter.

A bunch of big tomatoes.

We got a few cantaloupe this summer.  A fun treat!

Isn't that just pretty!?!

I know I really got carried away with the pictures.  They kind of all look the same, but the colors and freshness is just amazing each week.

Jumbo beets.  Had to place an apple for comparison.

See the crazy Kohlrabbi?  Green and purple this week.

I grow lots of herbs in the summer, but I just loved getting big bunches every week.  You can never have enough basil in your life.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Pineapple

CSA Cooking - Stuffed Acorn Squash with Pineapple
Source - LIFE Picture Cook Book from 1958

I found this cookbook at the old cabin we rented at Lake Winnipesaukee.  The cabin is over 100 years old and it seems every book that was ever read there is still there.  Every wall is lined with dusty old books.  I, of course, found the wall of cook books.  This is a Time Life cook book from 1958.  It was like literally turning a page back in time or watching Mad Men.  It is a wonder any of these people lived past the age of 50 considering what they ate!  All butter, fat and red meat.  The articles in the book were also very old school, Mad Men style.  They continue to refer to "the housewife" who prepares all meals as it is a women's job.  I actually wrote down a quote that cracked me up and made me realize how far we have come baby!

"American housewife will not bother with fish, even if she can get it in time for dinner.  She would rather serve chicken or anything else.  This is culinary ignorance and bad economy"  Life Picture Cook Book 1958

Wow - ignorant and bad economy!  Below is a picture of a typical American dinner party.

You know, everyone has an open flame hibachi in the living room.  And I love that the "housewife" is sitting so elegantly next to a hunk of meat and gazing admiringly at her husband as he grills.  Oh dear!

Anyway, I jotted down a few recipes from this book that I thought might be getting lost in our current culinary world.  There were so many good old classics my grandmothers made like Ambrosia salad and good old fashioned roasts.   I thought this acorn squash sounded cool.  It was good, but not mind blowing fabulous.  We had it with pork chops and it actually made a nice topping on the pork.

Stay tuned, I am not done with this book, someday I am going to make French Fried Deviled Eggs.  It sounds so gross I just have to make it!  I'll have to wait till I'm in Texas, only my sister could appreciate that recipe with me.

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Pineapple
3 Acorn Squash
1/2 Cup crushed pineapple, drained
2 Tablespoons dry Sherry
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
6 Tablespoons butter
1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg
1 Teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut the acorn squash in half and clean out the seeds. Place the acorn squash halves on a greased baking sheet.  Place in each acorn squash half 1 teaspoon of each; butter, Sherry and brown sugar.  Bake 30 minutes.  Remove and let cool so you can handle them.  Once they are cool enough to handle, pour the liquid into a big bowl and scoop out the flesh of the acorn squash into that bowl.  Leave about a 1/4 inch of flesh on the shell to maintain a solid shell.  Add to the bowl of pulp, 4 tablespoons of butter (I omitted this as it seemed like it had enough), crushed pineapple, nutmeg and salt.  Mash this together like potatoes.  Spoon the mashed squash back into the shells, place back on baking sheet and bake for an additional 15 minutes at 415 degrees.  Serve in shells!

Ready to go in the oven for roast #1.  Butter, Sherry and brown sugar.

A few empty shells and a stuffed squash.  As always, I didn't get an after shot as they exited the oven because my family is too impatient once dinner is ready.  They went straight from the oven to the table, no time for pictures.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Contest Entry - Thanksgiving Quesadillas

 Contest:  Ocean Spray Tailgating Recipe Contest
Entered by me!  Thanksgiving Quesadillas

I haven't blogged in awhile.  My mother-in-law has been visiting so we have been busy, then my computer died.  Just got a new laptop, but haven't set everything up on it so no pics till we get the camera stuff on here.  I have been diligently working on a few recipes for this Ocean Spray contest.  The contest is only open to the 5 New England states, so I am hoping the odds alone will help me in finding a bit of success.  The prize is tickets to a Patriots game which would really build my husband's support of my hobby should I win them.  I tried a few things for this contest; pork with a cranberry marinade and a cranberry meatloaf.  I wanted to put slices of meatloaf on the grill for some cool meatloaf tailgate sandwiches.  They were both good, but just didn't feel very cranberry.  We loved this recipe, it was a hit with all that ate it.  Hope it is a winner.  Just submitted it tonight, we'll see if I hear from the Ocean Spray people.  Fingers crossed!

Thanksgiving Quesadillas
Source - ME!

1 Cup Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
1 Clove Garlic - pressed
1 JalapeƱo diced
1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

2 lbs Turkey Tenderloin or Turkey Tips
1 Cup Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce
12 oz Shredded Swiss and Gruyere Cheeses (found this at Trader Joes)
2 Cups Stove Top Stuffing
8 Flour Tortillas
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil

Prepare the marinade.  Combine all the marinade ingredients and whisk together till mixed will.  Place turkey and marinade in a zip top plastic bag.  Place in refrigerator for at least a 1/2 hour.

Heat grill to medium/low heat.  Place the turkey on the grill and cook thoroughly.  Remove from grill and cut into small bite size pieces, set aside.  Prepare the stove top stuffing.

Quesadilla preparation.  Turn grill up to medium heat.  With a pastry brush, lightly brush vegetable oil on one side of a flour tortilla.  Place tortilla, oil side down on grill.  Top 1/2 of the tortilla with a layer of cheese, then turkey.  Dab teaspoons of cranberry sauce and stuffing on the turkey then top with cheese.  Fold the tortilla in half to create the 1/2 moon shape quesadilla.  Close the grill cover for 1-2 minutes.  Flip the quesadilla, close lid again for 1-2 minutes.  Grill the quesadilla until the tortilla is crisp and the cheese has melted.  Divide the ingredients between the 8 tortillas and repeat the process until all quesadillas are done.  Serve hot and enjoy!