It’s Too Much and It’s Not Enough…

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All these flowers are from my garden!

Have you ever loved someone too much, and not enough? Well that’s how I’m feeling about my farm share, it’s both too much and not enough. And so it goes when eating locallly and seasonally, little did I realize just how many carrots would be in my life.

I have nothing against carrots, they are a necessary part of my culinary arsenal, there are a million things I cannot make without carrots, unfortunately I don’t want to make any of them in the summer. I am considering building a root cellar contraption.

As far as not enough there may never be enough onions to satisfy me, tomatoes I will gorge on willingly for these short late summer months, I never tire of  them, peppers pile them on, chard, well I’m starting to wane on that too. Eggplants… well I like eggplant 3 ways only and one of them I only sort of like it. I’m drowning in cucumbers and am surprised that I am not buried under a pile of zucchini, but I’m not.

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Never enough tomatoes!

 

In this post I am sharing  three of my favorite recipes that make the most out of summer vegetables, the eggplant parm is perfect for anyone who doesn’t like eggplant …it will change your world, also its a great Meatless Monday meal, freezes beautiful and makes a super decadent leftover sandwich.

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Eggplant Parm from above

 

MY EGGPLANT PARM

Serves 6 (ish)

  • 2 Medium eggplants ( about 3 pounds)
  • 2 Zucchini or Summer Squash
  • 1/4 Cup Kosher Salt
  • 3 Cups Chopped Tomato (Fresh or Not)
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Fennel
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Red or Yellow or Orange Pepper (NOT GREEN)
  • 1 Tablespoon Chopped Fresh Rosemary
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Panko
  • 1 Tsp Red pepper Flakes
  • 1 1/2 Cup Fresh Ricotta (drained)
  • 3/4 a Pound Fresh Mozzerella, sliced thin or shredded
  • 1/2 Cup Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 10  Fresh Basil leaves

Stuff you need 4 sheet pans, a casserole dish & some heavy stuff

  1. Slice the eggplants & the squashes lengthwise in about 1/4 ” thick slices (you can peel them if the skin skeeves you)
  2. Lay them out on a sheet pan covered with a clean kitchen towel
  3. Sprinkle them heavily with salt
  4. Cover with another clean towel, then another sheet pan, place some thing very heavy on top, like a bunch of cans or cookbooks
  5. Let sit at least 1 hour
  6. You don’t HAVE to do this, but it will be better if you do
  7. Remove the heavy things take the eggplant & zucchini slices and dab off all the extra water..dry them well, wipe away any visible salt
  8. Drizzle olive oil on the bottom of a clean sheet plan
  9. Place Eggplant & Zucchini slices on the pan, drizzle on top with Olive Oil
  10. Sprinkle with Bread Crumbs & Half the Parm
  11. Bake @ 425 for 15- minutes
  12. You can do all of this a day before if you want.
  13. While the Eggplants are on the oven
  14. Heat a about Tablespoon of Olive Oil in a pan
  15. Add Fennel & Peppers
  16. Season with Salt, Pepper & Red Pepper Flakes
  17. Saute until soft
  18. Add Tomatoes Garlic & Rosemary
  19. Season again with Salt & Pepper
  20. Cook until tomatoes break down if using fresh, about 10 minutes
  21. Now all you have to do is layer:

Parm : Eggplant : Sauce : Mozzerella : Zucchini : Sauce : Ricotta : Basil Leaves: Sauce : Eggplant: Mozzerella : Parm: Drizzle Olive Oil

Bake @ 350 for 45 minutes, let sit about 10 minutes before serving, even better if you make a day ahead and reheat.

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Sometimes we don’t use plates.

 

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CAPONATA

Caponata is another great eggplant dish for people who don’t like eggplant.

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Ingredients…all picked yesterday!

Caponata always makes me think of that scene in True Romance, with Christopher Walken & Dennis Hopper. It’s very Sicilian with capers and dried fruits, chilies and vinegar..it’s sweet sour and spicy.

Hmmm…

My favorite thing to serve with Caponata is Goat Cheese.

A perfect summer lunch is a jar of caponata, some good bread, fresh goat cheese and a glass of Fiano D’Avellino. It makes a great condiment for roast lamb, or swordfish, also nice on pasta, in an omelet or on served cold on top of a warm goat cheese & potato pizza  (that’s what I’m doing) or on a sandwich.

Oh just thought of a sandwich… warm Semolina spread  soft goat cheese on one side and smear caponata on the other, drizzle on a good amount of good olive oil  then add a split grilled lamb sausage top with a bit of arugula & shaved fennel tossed in lemon juice and olive oil…YUM! even without the sausage, but why would you want to not have sausage???

There are alotta caponata recipes out there, this one came right out of what is in my kitchen right now. I used what I had, you can add or take away several components. Celery really should be in there but I didn’t have any. Zucchini or summer squash would work as well. You can use dried figs,cranberries or the traditional raisins in place of dried cherries. Pine nuts are traditional, but I never have any, you don’t have to use saffron, olives are a good add in and it wouldn’t be terrible if you threw an anchovy or two in there in the beginning

This takes some time to cook, but once you do all the chopping you can pretty much leave it be while you write your blog post or something.

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Mise en Place

 Caponata

  • 2 Cups Diced Eggplant
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Cups Diced Carrots
  • 2 Cups Diced Fennel Bulb
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Red Pepper
  • 1 Diced Jalepeno or Serrano Pepper
  • 1 Cup Diced Red Onion
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Garlic
  • 2 Cups Chopped Tomatoes (I used a combination of Tomatillo & Red Tomatoes)
  • 1 Tablespoon Chopped Rosemary
  • 1/4 Cup Capers
  • 1/4 Cup Dried Cherries
  • 1 Stick Cinnamon
  • 1 Tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 Pinch Saffron (optional)
  • 1/4 Cup chopped Basil & Fennel Fronds
  • 1/2 cup Toasted Almonds
  1. Heat Oil in a Heavy Bottomed Pot
  2. Season Eggplant with Salt & Pepper and Saute in Batches till it browns slightly
  3. Remove from Pot and Add the Carrots, Fennel, Onion, Peppers & Cinnamon
  4. Season with Salt & Pepper, Saute till Fennel is Translucent
  5. Add Garlic, Rosemary & Tomatoes
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  7. Season Again
  8. Dissolve Sugar in the Vinegar + add the saffron if using
  9. Once the tomatoes start to break down add all the reaming ingredients
  10. Cook over LOW heat 45 minutes to an hour, maybe and hour and a half
  11. Remove from heat stir in Basil & Fennel Fronds and Toasted Almonds if using.

You can serve this hot or cold, it will last about a week or so in the fridge, if you are a canner it cans beautifully.

 

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BEETROOT & CARROT CUPCAKES MAPLE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

 

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(Makes @ 2 dozen full size cupcakes or @ 60 minis)

Beetroot & Carrot Cupcakes

  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Toasted Ground Cinnamon*
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 2 Cups Vegetable Oil
  • 1/2 Cup Browned Butter
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 Cup Raw Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup Chopped Walnuts
  • 1/2 Cup Dried Cherries
  • 2 Cups Shredded Carrots
  • 1 Cup Shredded Beets
  • 1/4 Cup Shredded Fresh Ginger

Pre Heat Oven to 350, Prepare Cupcake Tins with Liners

  1. Sift together the Dry Ingredients
  2. In the Bowl of a Stand Mixer Mix Eggs, Oil & Butter on Medium High Speed
  3. Add Sugars & Vanilla
  4. Beat on High for 3-4 Minutes
  5. Turn off Mixer Gently Mix Dry into Wet
  6. Beat another 3-4 minutes
  7. Remove bowl from Mixer Stir in Carrots, Beets, Walnuts, Ginger & Cherries
  8. Ladle in to Prepared Pan
  9. Bake 25-30 minutes until Toothpick inserted in the Center comes clean

* Please toast the cinnamon, I mean you don’t have to but it makes such a HUGE difference, in fact I sometimes even burn it slightly to get an extra layer of flavor

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 16 Oz (2 Bars) Cream Cheese- Room Temperature
  • 1 Stick Salted Butter- Room Temperature
  • 1/2 Cup Maple Syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons Burnt Cinnamon or Just Cinnamon
  • 1 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Milk
  1.  Beat Cream Cheese & Butter together about 6 minutes on High
  2. Add Maple Syrup & Cinnamon
  3. Add Powdered Sugar & Milk in alternating increments until you have the desired consistency— Sugar will make it Stiffer, Milk Softer
  4. Transfer to Pastry Bag or Bowl
  5. Wait till cupcakes are cool before frosting,but no one could blame you if you spread some frosting on a warm cupcake while you were waiting for the other cupcakes to cool and ate it standing in the kitchen before cleaning up.

Garnish with Candied Ginger & Candied Carrots if desired

Candied Carrots

  • 1 Cup Shredded Carrots
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Strong Cooled Earl Grey Tea (or water)
  1. Bring Tea & Sugar to a Boil
  2. Add Carrots
  3. Cook over Medium heat– Stirring occasionally but watching closely the whole time until all liquid has been evaporated
  4. Cool on parchment or wax paper

 

SNAPSHOTS FROM THE WEEK:

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Sexy nectarine….
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Ginormous Tomato from our garden…next to grapefruit for scale.
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Ugly Tomato
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PIE! Black Bottom Chocolate Stout Caramel Cream Pie with Cashew & Speculoos Crust. I made this just for my sister-in-law…for her birthday.

 

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This is where we had breakfast last Sunday
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We went to Trattoria Athena for a Charlie Trotter Dinner on Sunday… this is Calamari stuffed with Braised Oxtail with Corzetti (??) squid ink pasta shaped in rounds & embossed. It was OK the Calamari could have been more tender and the Oxtail should have been hot not luke warm.
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Duck Livers with Honey Glazed Turnips & Wild Mushroom Vinaigrette… again almost great, the livers should have been cleaner and had a better sear, it was a bit muddy.
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Braised Short Rib, Horseradish Mash… a gremolata would have elevated this to spectacular.
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This was the best dish of the night Pork Belly Stuffed with Ground Pork & Chantrelles w Garlicky Salty Grilled Zucchini
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Loverly and very nice…. the Square is Pressed Duck Confit, the Yellow is carrots , pureed carrots, there’s a tangle of Tatsoi & Grilled purple potatoes that should have been better more vibrant or not there, Sticky ribs with coriander honey…could have been meatier, they were kind of tough…but pretty good
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And of course a Cat Picture….My sweet boy Hank loves nothing more than terry cloth, except when there is a body, warm from the shower underneath…

 

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