Tuesday, July 28, 2009

One Local Summer Week 8

This post will be a quick and light one. I'm currently on an older, slower desktop due to a mishap with a little boy, a glass of wine and a laptop.

Scaccia ai Broccoli (Double-crusted broccoli pizza)
adapted from: The Italian Farmhouse Cookbook by Susan Herrmann Loomis

1 pound broccoli
Pizza dough (enough for 2 small pies)
8 ounces fresh ricotta (maybe homemade?)
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
Crushed red chilis
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Steam broccoli until tender, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Lightly oil a baking sheet. Roll out the dough to a 12 x 24 inch rectangle. Make it as thin as necessary. Bring half of the dough onto the baking sheet. Spread the ricotta evenly over the dough that is on the baking sheet. Then sprinkle with garlic, salt and pepper. Next, spread the broccoli evenly over the ricotta. Season again, this time adding chilis. Bring the dough resting on your work surface up and over the filling, pressing the edges together and lightly rolling the edges in. Brush the top with olive oil. Allow the scaccia to rest for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425F. Bake the scaccia for 30 minutes.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

One Local Summer Week 7

Wow, 7 weeks already! The garden is nearly in full swing, and it is hard to keep track of the local food we've been enjoying lately. Our squash and peas are ready daily, and the broccoli and cauliflower are getting bigger everyday. I am trying to be patient before harvesting those, it would be nice to see how big they can get! Fortunately with the broccoli, after the first harvest, you still get the nice shoots they grow in after (and for which you pay a lot of money for at the grocery store). We have tasted one of our carrots, and one beet, but again, I'm trying to hold out and let them grow a bit more. The lettuce is still growing nicely, I suppose the one good thing from that long rainy month of June. I am certainly not happy about the fact that I am still waiting on our first tomato! (The sungolds should be ready in a day or two.)

We've been able to enjoy at least one or two locally grown (or garden grown) side dishes this past week. I am hoping this makes up for in a small way the terribly non-sustainable entree we had tonight: grilled swordfish. Oops. At least we served our own cauliflower and the potatoes we found growing in the compost pile.

One of my favorite dinners this week was pizza. Well, that's always my favorite. In any case, the dough this week was not the best we've ever used; I tried the no-knead version, and my husband had a difficult time working with it. It also didn't have quite the same texture that my usual recipe does. From the reviews I have seen of the no-knead recipe, it seems there must have been something I was missing. Luckily enough, the toppings made up for what lacked in the dough. We used some freshly harvested zucchini and squash blossoms, canned tomatoes, mushrooms, and some homemade mozzarella.

To make the pizzas, I used the no-knead pizza dough recipe found here. Because the dough was so soft, we decided to grill the pizzas a bit first before adding any of the toppings. We like to use a wooden peel to transfer the pizzas to the grill, so any toppings added must be done quickly otherwise the dough will begin sticking to the peel. The dough we used was so soft, it began sticking to the peel right away. After grilling the dough for a minute or two, we put it back on the peel and added the toppings. Then, back to the grill to finish cooking the dough and melting the cheese. Just be sure to have some great beer to wash it all down with!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

One Local Summer Week 6

I'm so disappointed to have missed my post last week, but with all the rain making it hard to harvest local ingredients, and leaving early for our annual July family visit, I never got the chance to make a local meal. The closest I got in fact, was the Hummel's hot dog I ate on my way to Yankee Stadium on Friday. (By the way, if you have never had a Hummel's and you eat hot dogs, you need to make a point of getting to Connecticut to try one...there's nothing like it!) Thankfully we are finally seeing the sun again in New England (I may even turn on the sprinklers soon!) and I was able to get some great ingredients from our garden.

While in Italy some years ago, I had my first taste of squash blossoms. Unfortunately, once I returned to the States I was never able to find them again. One of the reasons we wanted to start our own garden was to be able to grow the ingredients we have not been able to purchase. When choosing zucchini to plant, I make it a point to find one or two varieties that claim to have numerous male blossoms (these do not produce fruit, but are needed for pollination) that are great for eating.

Farfalle with baby peas and squash blossoms

3/4 lb of farfalle (or any short dried pasta)
1 cup baby peas
12 male squash blossoms
2 Tablespoons European style butter

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

If you have fresh peas, be sure to shuck them before cooking, you don't want snap peas in this dish.

To prepare the squash blossoms, rinse them gently under cold water to remove any debris. Carefully open the blossom, and pull out the pistil. Remove the blossoms from the rest of the stem. Chop the blossoms into fairly large pieces.

Once the water is boiling, salt it and add the farfalle. Cook the pasta to al dente, according to package directions. When the pasta has about 4 minutes remaining, begin to melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Do not allow it to brown. With 2 minutes remaining, add the blossoms to the butter and gently cook. Add the peas to the pasta pot when there is 1 minute left to cook. Drain the pasta and peas and add to the skillet. Toss the pasta, peas and blossoms together in the butter and remove from heat. Serve immediately with cheese - a fresh ricotta, feta or goat cheese is best, but you can never go wrong with a bit of parmigiano reggiano.

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