Tag Archives: summer

Recipe: Basil Salt

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Last week, my garden was overrun with basil.  I didn’t know what to do, as the space was competing with tomatoes, and the tomatoes were quickly winning.  It’s a massacre out there for all the other veggies.

my garden

I can hardly tell what is what over there.

I have been doing everything I can to preserve the beautiful basil my garden produced, and this recipe is no different.  Easy and super fast, you can add this salt from everything to tomato and corn salad or cheeses, to pasta dishes and desserts. Basil salt is awesome! It adds just that beautiful freshness to anything it touches, and is beautiful and bright green like the herb that produced it.

It lasts for six months too, so there is plenty of time to taste summer long into winter.

Ingredients

1/2 C tightly packed basil leaves

1/2 C kosher salt

Method

Preheat oven to 225 degrees F.  Pulse basil and salt in blender until incorporated.  Mixture will be clumpy.  Spread onto baking sheet lined with parchment or tin foil and bake until dried, about 30 minutes.

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basil salt after drying but before blending for a second time

Take dried salt and pulse again in blender until powder.  Store in airtight container for six months or more.

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Used the salt to top this dish of tomatoes and ricotta cheese. Perfect basil flavor and nice hit of salt

 

-L

 

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Recipe:Stuffed Squash Blossoms

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This summer, I finally decided to tackle something that I have been either too busy, or too afraid to tackle: My very own garden.  I know it sounds silly, but I have dreamed of growing my own food for some time now.  I have to say, it has certainly been a learning experience.  What to grow, and how to grow it, and how to protect it from the environment around it is still something I am learning, and probably will be for seasons to come.

One thing my garden has been very bountiful in giving me is squash blossoms.  While my plants are hit or miss, and have produced some delicious summer squash varieties, I think my favorite thing to collect are the beautiful, golden–yellow flowers that are delicious and earthy in every way.

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This is one of my favorite ways to enjoy the blossoms: stuffed with fresh cheese and deep–fried, lightly salted, and eaten with sparkling wine.

Deep Fried Squash Blossoms

6-12 squash blossoms

2 C vegetable or other neutral, high heat oil

For the filling:

1 C ricotta (I used goat’s milk, but cow’s milk is also perfect)

2 Tbsp heavy cream

1 tbsp chopped chives

zest of 1 lemon

lemon juice, salt, pepper to taste

 

For the batter:

6 oz AP flour

3 tbsp cornstarch

1 tbsp salt

200 ml seltzer water

Method:

Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat, until bubbling, around 350 degrees F.

Whisk ingredients for batter together and set aside

mix filling ingredients, mixing together until a smooth paste forms.  fill into a pastry bag, or a ziplock bag.  Cut the tip off the pastry bag or a corner off the ziplock bag, so you are able to pipe the filling into the blossom. Try not to overfill, and close each petal around the filling so it forms a nice little pocket.

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Drop each blossom into the batter and directly into the hot oil, frying only a few at a time, about 3 minutes per side.  Drain on paper towels, sprinkle with salt, and enjoy!

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This is an amazing summer treat!

-L

 

Cheap Eats: Cutty’s

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Even though it’s unofficially summer, it’s still kinda cold and rainy this week. No matter, as soon picnic weather will be upon us, and what’s better for a picnic than a sandwich you don’t have to make? Not much guys, not much.

Cutty’s is an awesome sandwich shop in Brookline that has gotten rave reviews ranging from BU college kids to Food Network and Bon Appetit. I finally made my way over there after promising myself I would try something from their small but beautifully crafted sandwich menu at least once while living in Boston. I’ll for sure be back.
Let’s talk sandwiches.

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Let me introduce you to The Spukie, or my new obsession between bread. Salami, Capicola, Mortadella, Mozzarella, and a carrot-olive salad come together on pressed Ciabatta. Let me tell you, that carrot-olive salad takes the cake and makes that sandwich. The locally-sourced ingredients don’t hurt, either.
Their deli sandwiches are also bomb, by the way. Want just a simple roast beef? Of course they can do it for you. Everything is super fresh, delicious, and simply made.

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At around $5 to $8 a sandwich depending on size, it’s a great place to eat at a great price. All those rave reviews can’t be wrong, right?

Cutty’s
284 Washington Street
Brookline

Photo of exterior via BU

Recipe: Sautéed Veal with Corn and Tomatoes

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Summer is slowly but surely coming upon us, and I have discovered a gem. Wegman’s, an upstate New York grocery chain, has opened a location in Chesnut Hill. Oh man, is it worth the drive. The selection and quality of my groceries has skyrocketed, as this store is a monster. Literally huge and filled with everything. The first time The Russian and I entered, we couldn’t believe it.

Coupled with some serious inspiration in the form of cookbooks loaned to me by fellow chefs, I have lots of fun things planned for my kitchen in the coming weeks.

This is a great quick summer recipe with veal, inspired by a recipe I found and tweaked a little from one such book. Veal, if cooked correctly, is incredibly velvety and light, pairing perfectly with the light buttery sauce.

Ingredients
2 or 3 veal cutlets, thinly sliced [$10]
Cherry tomatoes [$2]
Corn (fresh or frozen kernels) [$2]
White wine vinegar [$3]
Chicken broth [$1.50]
1/2 stick butter
Basil [$2]
A little white wine, anything hanging around your fridge is fine

Directions
Heat a little olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Season the cutlets with salt and pepper and lightly dust with a little ap flour. Cook for about 1 1/2 minutes per side and take off the heat and place on a paper towel lined plate.

Add the tomatoes and corn to the pan, and cook for about 3 minutes, or until soft. Add a few tablespoons of the vinegar and 1/3 cup or so of white wine and let reduce (note: this sauce is kinda like a Burre Blanc with yummy veggies).
After 3 minutes or so, take off the heat and add the basil, thinly sliced, and the butter, stirring the pan, until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.

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Spoon the sauce over the veal and serve with a salad and crusty bread for dipping. So light but so filling, perfect with a glass of wine in the summertime.

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Enjoy!
-L

Cheap Eats: Barcelona Wine Bar

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The Russian and I have recently made the move out to Brighton, and while its farther out than our old place in Fenway, it certainly has given me a whole new group of restaurants and areas to check out, which is awesome. It’s good to know the city in which you live. So after I unpacked and set up me new kitchen (duh) I made the walk over with The Russian to check out Barcelona Wine Bar, which was high up on my list of places to try.  I have been to the one in Fairfield, CT and couldn’t wait to try more rustic Spanish tapas.

Since this place does tapas, of course the prices are low.  I love that.  I also love how their pitchers of sangria are only about $23. Totally fruity and delicious, and the pitcher was not small either.

It was a good time.

It was a good time.

We started off with a plate of Spanish meats and cheeses.  The restaurant has a wide selection, and you can choose 3 for $17.  That alone with a pitcher of sangria makes for a perfect after–work bite. We decided on smoked duck breast, serrano ham (naturally), and a Romao Manchengo cheese with a rosemary crust.  So good.

this plate alone won me over.

this plate alone won me over.

We also had a plate of olives, because I love olives and because the whole plate was $3.

even had a cup for the pits.  Way to think it through, guys

even had a cup for the pits. Way to think it through, guys

We then had the radish and feta salad, $5.  The radishes were so crispy and even though Feta is a Greek cheese, it was a perfect compliment to the rest of the meal, which was very rich.

so fresh

so fresh

How rich, you ask? Well we had the steak in a truffle sauce.  To die for. $10

this picture cannot begin to do it justice

this picture cannot begin to do it justice

We also had the squid and fingerling potatoes in squid ink (about $10), which is hard to find here in the states.  Not many places using squid ink, but many should. It’s awesome, but it does stain.

doesn't matter, it's worth the lost clothing.

doesn’t matter, it’s worth the lost clothing.

Overall, I spent a little more than my usual $20 per person, but it was worth it.  Our table was covered in food.

doesn't get better than this.

doesn’t get better than this.

The best part is, you can come here and spend little to get a taste of Spain.  The food is wonderfully prepared and inventive, and I will definitely be coming back to try the paella.

-L

 

Recipe: Quick Summer Gazpacho

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It’s HOT.  Very hot.  Certainly too hot to cook (I’m pretty lazy for someone who likes being active). I’m not made of money ya know, so I had to make something that wouldn’t cause me to stand by a hot stove too often.  I’m just making cold dishes til this heat wave breaks.

Gazpacho is a cold soup originally from Spain.  It is tomato–based, and uses fresh summer veggies and can be topped with fun add–ons that make the soup more of a meal.  The soup is refreshing, crisp, and light.  I usually dip my bread into it to add some starch to my meal, but the sky is the limit here. I like to think of the soup as a jumping off point, adding meats and breads to make it feel more homey.

Talking about this makes me miss Spain. Did you know they sell gazpacho in supermarkets there in milk cartons? It’s very engrained to the culture.

It’s even sold at McDonalds. No joke.

Ingredients:

4 Beefsteak tomatoes [$5]

1 cucumber [$1]

1 red onion [$1.50]

1 bell pepper, color unimportant [$1]

garlic [I had this, but its about 50 cents]

olive oil

red wine vinegar

1 can tomato sauce [$1]

1 avocado [$1.50]

white shrimp [about $7/lb]

 

Directions:

Peel and chop cucumber, and chop the tomatoes, about 1/4 to 1/3 of the red onion, 4 garlic cloves, and about 1/2 the bell pepper.  Combine in a blender or food processor and process on high.  Add olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.  Add about 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce and process to add color and extra tomato flavor. Put in fridge to cool while you prepare shrimp.

Tip: leave your tomatoes out on the counter, not in the fridge.  They lose flavor.

add olive oil to a pan a cook shrimp on medium high heat for about 2 minutes per side.  Slice avocado. Pour soup into bowls and top with avocado and shrimp. Serve with bread.

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Enjoy this til the heat wave breaks!

-L

Photo of Gazpacho via: Breakfast in Paris