A few weeks ago I published a YouTube video on How To Make Zucchini Blossom Beignet, a simple fried zucchini blossom recipe that anyone can make at home. Since then I have received many requests for stuffed zucchini blossoms. I am sharing three favorite recipes: stuffed with mozzarella and prosciutto; stuffed with goat cheese, oven-dried tomatoes, and tapenade; and finally stuffed with ricotta, lemon, and basil. The possibilities are limitless. Other favorites include stuffing with various mousses and ratatouille. Pour yourself a glass of rose and let’s get cooking.
Small Plates and Nibbles
This might start as a bad joke, but I promise it isn’t. I was making ‘Nun’s Farts’ yesterday, the more colorful name for feather-light deep-fried beignets, and was struck by how diverse the dough actually was. It got me thinking about the differences between how a chef and a home cook approach cooking. Chefs learn to multi-task many different preparations (mise en place) in order to be ready for service on any given day. Home cooks, while they may multi-task to get through their busy days, generally make one dish to feed their entire family. Most home cooks I have watched tend to make each dish from start to finish.
Being the chef taught me to group actions to cut down on time. For instance, having one person chop all the parsley for the entire kitchen rather than five cooks chopping their own. Or the pastry department making all the puff pastry dough even though a cook may need some for an appetizer. At home, this translates a bit differently. Maybe it is by making one preparation one night that can be slightly manipulated to make something different. By concentrating your efforts you will get more done in less time….
Sometimes the best dishes are those that you do not really have to think too much about. In fact, I would argue the simplest dishes are always the best dishes. A few days ago I was out in my overgrown, weed-infested garden picking tomatoes wondering what to make with them. I remembered a half-finished jar of olivade and a semi-thawed sheet of all-butter puff pastry sitting in my fridge. And viola, the tomato tart was born.
My friend Dana walked into the office overburdened with boxes of perfectly ripe Kadota figs that her father grew. Knowing I would gladly take some, she handed me a rather large box then walked away to her desk. Figs have such a short, intense season that you need to be ready with a game plan to handle the sweet onslaught.
At first, I was a bit at a loss for what to make. I hadn’t planned on these figs, they just appeared like a newborn left on a church doorstep in the dark of night. The box sat in my cubicle staring at me all day. I tried to ignore them, occasionally succumbing to eat a few of the riper ones. I even googled ‘what to do with too many figs’ and came across numerous sites describing the same anguish I was feeling. One gentleman wrote in an aptly named thread ‘Too Many Figs’ on Chowhound: “I bought a young fig tree, and three years later she was almost in tears when facing the huge harvest. To keep matrimonial harmony, I cut down the tree.”
I have been noticing a trend developing in the South of France: Pick a commonly used ingredient like chickpeas, roasted peppers, sun-dried tomatoes or even basil; make it spreadable, then add the suffix ade and voila, you have a fabulous finger food to serve at your next apéro. …
Provencal Artichokes Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Tapenade
When the first artichokes rose from my semi-dormant thistle bed, like Lazarus from the dead, I found excuse enough to search for any leftover rose bottles that may have escaped last summer’s debauchery to celebrate with. I walk out to my garden with nothing more than a simple lunch and a bottle of rosé on my mind. I blankly stared at my artichokes as if somehow they might reveal how they’d like to be prepared. Would it be slow cooked in a barigoule or perhaps just simply steamed with a hollandaise? I stood in my garden for a long time, surrounded by an audience of fava beans, peas, lettuce, and mint who decided to join the debate. My basil, feeling left out and secluded, angrily voiced their opinion….
I cannot think of a better way to whet my appetite than to nibble on some olives and saucisson with a glass
of wine. I started life as an olive purist, demanding they were only served simply brined and nothing else. Then I tried these, the marriage of flavors combined with the warmed aromatics make these olives irresistible. The flavors will literally jump out of the pan and seduce your palate. …
Every New Year’s Eve, I host a gastronomic party to celebrate the passing of one year and the birth of the next. It usually progresses (regresses) into a Bacchanalian celebration. The table laid with the finest china and silver, our stomachs tempted with turbot, black truffles, caviar and foie gras, and too many bottles of Champagne to count.
The better the ingredient, the simpler the preparation should be. Simple and pure pairings, like roast chicken and white Burgundy or older Barolos drank with white truffles, are timeless combinations that should never be improved upon. Likewise, a simple caviar preparation is always best and preferred.
Prepare yourselves for the roaring voice of the God of Joy! – Eurides, The Bacchae
This morning, we travel far from sunny Provence out to the cool, foggy Oregon Coast for a look at a revolutionary seaweed that is destined to take over the world or at least the kale share of the market. As a disclaimer, I should mention I work for a specialty food and foraging company named Foods In Season that scours the Pacific Northwest looking for unique offerings. The amazing thing about this seaweed is it tastes just like bacon when fried, which literally makes it a superfood if ever there was one; though I only made delicious seaweed chips instead.
I wanted to be a skinny little ballerina but I was a voluptuous little Italian girl whose dad had meatballs on the table every night. Lady Gaga
Chicken and Ricotta Polpettine, Pomodoro Sauce
- 1 pound ground chicken dark meat
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 4 ounces whole milk ricotta
- 1 egg beaten
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan
- 1 clove garlic mashed
- 2 grates fresh nutmeg
- sea salt and black pepper
- chopped basil and/or parsley
- 1 quart tomato sauce
Mix everything together in a large bowl by hand, except the sauce,
Form at least 16 meatballs and drop them in a hot saute pan with olive oil and butter. I generally use a nonstick pan to avoid the melting cheese sticking.
Saute till golden brown then finish in a 400 degree oven for five minutes.
Heat sauce up, add meatballs and enjoy!