Saturday, August 29, 2009

I've Been Away, but Now I am back and Ready to Cook.

Hello,  I made a valiant attempt to blog from my Iphone while on the road-completely unsuccessful.  My husband and I were driving our son to his first year at college.  I had 18 hours to kill each way. I tried to use blogpress but could not get my post to upload.

Well, I am back.  I am ready to cook, so I will be seeing your soon!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Roasted Tomato Sauce

If the Fried Squash Blossoms, weren't delicious enough... time serve  them with a roasted tomato sauce for a flavor explosion!
Roasted Tomato Sauce

8 Roma tomatoes
olive oil to drizzle
salt and pepper to taste
1 medium onion chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
1/2  cup vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 cup half and half
Rinse and cut tomatoes in half lengthwise.
Place on a tray cut side up.  (I like to line the tray with non stick aluminum foil.)
Drizzle with olive oil.
Generously sprinkle with salt
Place on the grill or in the oven.
Now you can either high heat roast at 450 degrees or slow roast at 200.

Its a great time to roast tomatoes while you are already roasting something else.  In this case, we were smoking a pork shoulder for pulled pork. (More about that in another post.)  So I put the tomatoes on the grill and smoked them for about 5 hours at 200 degrees. 

The finished tomatoes are decided by site.  You can leave them 
cooking for quite some time, you just don't want to completely dehydrate them or burn them.
The applewood smoke lent a delicious smokiness to this sauce.  
Remove from the heat.  Place in a food processor.
Now you can also throw the onions and garlic on the same pan as the tomatoes and pull them off when they are nicely caramelized.  
I wasn't sure what I was going to do with the tomatoes, so in this case I did not.  
Saute the onions and garlic until translucent.  Place in food processor with the tomatoes.
pulse until smooth. Pour in the chicken stock,  pulse to blend. At this point it should be a smooth thick blend.
Pour tomato mixture into a sauce pan. Warm over medium heat.  Add the half and half. Heat through. Adjust seasonings to taste. Add more stock or cream if necessary to make a smooth medium thick sauce.
This sauce goes well with chicken, shrimp, pasta, and of course Fried Squash Blossoms!

Summertime Delights

One of my most favorite summertime treats is  squash blossoms.  If you've never tried one, seek them out.  Among the cultures that use them regularly are Mexican and Italian.  They are fried, stuffed, sauteed.  They are used in soups, omelettes, and just last week, Mark Bittman of the New York Times, wrote about using them in Risotto.

They are delicate and sublime.
I am pretty sure that once you taste them, you too will search for them every  summer.
I was fortunate enough that they were fresh and available at our Farmers Market yesterday morning. (I had seen them a few weeks earlier at a local vegetable market- they were neglected and wilted.)  You should plan on using them the day they are purchased.  Or if you are lucky enough to have a large plot of zucchini or pumpkins growing in your yard, the male flowers make the perfect feast with out devouring your crop.

I chose to stuff and fry yesterdays' bunch.  
Fried Squash Blossoms
1 dozen fresh squash blossoms
2 tablespoons pinenuts
2 cloves garlic minced
1 small onion minced
4 oz goat cheese, softened
1 tablespoon fresh chopped herbs (I used oregano, parsley, and basil)
2 eggs- separated
1/2 cup rice flour
1 cup cold club soda
salt and pepper

Remove the piston from the flowers
(I do this with a pair of hobby tweezers, which I keep  in the kitchen, 
you'd be surprised how handy they are.)
Trim the stems leaving about 1/2 inch. Chop the re
maining stems finely and set aside.
Lightly toast the pinenuts in a pan. Remove and set aside.
Heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the same pan.
Saute garlic and onions until translucent. Add the chopped stems. Saute until softened.
Add the herbs and salt and pepper..  Give a few quick stirs. Allow to cool. 
In the mean time, cream the softened goat cheese.
Add one egg yolk. Mix well in a small bowl, with a spoon.
Add the cooled herb mixture. Mix well.
Now I usually place the mixture in a pastry bag.
This makes it easier to load the cheese into the flowers.
If you have none available, a ziploc with the corner cut off will work.
A spoon will suffice, but will be a little messier.
Squeeze about a tablespoon of filling into each flower top.

Gently twist the top closed.  Set all aside when finished, while the batter is made.
Heat about an inch of olive oil in the pan.

In a medium bowl, whip the two egg whites until very frothy.
Add the remaining egg yolk and rewhip.  Add the rice flour and blend until smooth.  Add a pinch each of salt and pepper. Slowly pour in the club soda and stir.  This should made a thin crepe like batter.
Dip the flower blossoms in and coat thoroughly.  

Carefully transfer to the oil and cook about1  minute on each side. Until golden.  Remove and drain on a paper towel.

Enjoy immensely as they are or with a tomato sauce.  
I will give a recipe tomorrow for a Roasted Tomato Sauce.

Heavenly Truffles

I have been making chocolate truffles for 25 years.  I have made them for family, friends, teachers and clients.  I have sold them to florists, bakeries, friends who have given them as gifts, people who have gotten them as gifts.  

A long time back I thought about having an internet chocolate business.  I searched the name, but over the past several years the domain was taken. That is until now. For whatever reason, it was available when I did a search last month.  I now own the rights to the domain. 

I am very happy to have it, but now I am not sure what I want to do with it. I am no longer sure I want an internet chocolate business.  ah! maybe I do...   
In the back of my mind I have been thinking about revamping my chocolates. You know giving them a little face lift.  New designs, new flavors, new packaging.  New logo!!! Blasphemy!
How much time do I want to dedicate to chocolate?  My hours at food styling can be long and taxing.  What about my blog?  I already feel pressure when I don't have time for new posts.
Well for now, there is a place holder at the sight.  Since I don't make chocolates during the summer season I have a little time to think, and plan and prepare.
Any suggestions?