Friday, July 31, 2009

Southern Fried Salmon Patties

Salmon patties are a good answer for those, what can I make for dinner times, when you haven't been grocery shopping, or maybe it's the day before pay day. It is an old fashioned Southern favorite that I get a hankering for every once in a while, and I always have a can or two of salmon on hand.

One 15 oz. can salmon
1/4 cup chopped onions or scallions
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup, or more, self rising cornmeal mix
Salt and pepper, to taste

Drain salmon and place into a mixing bowl. Flake salmon with a fork, then mix in the onions and eggs. Add the cornmeal, using more if the mixture is too wet. Add salt and pepper to taste. Form into patties, a little smaller than a hamburger. Pan fry in olive oil, turning once, until very brown on each side. Drain on paper towels.

This is a very flexible recipe which is good with a variety of herbs and sauces. I enjoy adding dill and serving them with lemon. My husband likes a little added heat, cayenne or jalepano. Kids like them plain with ketchup.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Savory Summer Pie

A couple of months ago, NPR featured, on All Things Considered, "How Low Can You Go" where they asked chefs as well as listeners to contribute a recipe for a delicious meal for four, which cost less than $10. One of the featured recipes was Tomato Pie
When I listened to the program, and again when I read the recipe online, I knew I would make it with a twist.

Our summer tomatoes aren't in quite yet, but I was gifted with some more garden zucchini, so decided to try out the recipe using zucchini rather than tomatoes. My twist is the top crust. Rather than combining cheese with so much mayo, I made a delicious Pimiento Cheese.

Savory Summer Pie with Two Types of Crust

For the bottom crust, prepare 1 biscuit recipe from the Bisquick box (or use your own recipe) and press into 9 inch pie plate. Use pie weights or another pie plate to keep the crust from rising too much. Bake at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven to cool and lower the temperature to 350 degrees.

For the top crust, mix together 2 cups hand grated extra sharp cheddar cheese, 1 small jar sliced pimiento, undrained, 1/3 cup mayonnaise, 1 Tbsp. dijon mustard, and a dash of cayenne pepper.

For the filling, thinly slice 1 large Vidallia onion, 3 or 4 medium zucchini, and fresh basil. Layer, alternately, in the prepared bottom crust. Season each zucchini layer with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and fresh basil to taste.

Top with the Pimiento Cheese.

Spread the Pimiento Cheese all over the top of the vegetables.

Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the crust is browned and the vegetables are tender.

The pie was delicious and I can't wait to try it with tomatoes.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Fresh Cherry Strudel with Phyllo

This is a July 2002 recipe from Gourmet Magazine. The recipe claims to be easier than making a cherry pie, but I beg to differ. Two pie crusts would be infinitely easier to handle than sheet after fragile sheet of phyllo, in my opinion. These little cuties were, however, big fun to make.

I love fresh, juicy, summer cherries.

Messy and fun to pit. Buy extra so you can munch while you work as you won't be able to resist, and why should you? When I finished, my lips, tongue, and fingers were stained. Just like being a kid again.

Cherry Strudel
5 cups fresh, pitted cherries (about 1 1/2 lb.)
3/4 c. sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
15 (17 by 12 inch) phyllo sheets, thawed if frozen
1 stick unsalted butter

Bring cherries and any juices, sugar, and cornstarch to a boil in a heavy saucepan, stirring occasionally, then simmer for 2 minutes. Transfer filling to a bowl and cool completely.

While cherry filling is cooling, arrange 3 phyllo sheets into 1 layer, on a work surface, and let dry for 15 minutes. Keep the remaining sheets stacked, then cut in half, crosswise. Cover with plastic wrap, then a dampened kitchen towel. Crumble the dried phyllo sheets into a small bowl.

Place 1 sheet of phyllo on work surface (I'm using a sheet of parchment) with the short side nearest you, keeping the remaining sheets covered. Brush with butter, then top with 3 more sheets, brushing each with butter.

Sprinkle about 2 Tbsp. of the crumbled, dried phyllo over the lower third of the buttered phyllo, leaving a 2 inch border across the bottom and sides. This extra phyllo absorbs juices from the filling, keeping it inside the strudel rather than oozing out onto the pan.

Top with 1/3 cup of cherry filling.

Fold bottom edge of phyllo over filling, then fold in sides. Contine to roll up to form strudels. Place seam side down on a lightly buttered baking sheet and brush with a little more butter. Cut two, 1 inch vents in each strudel. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, until golden and crisp.

Transfer to a rack to cool.
The cook's sample.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Foot Long Stuffed Zucchini

After my neighbor gave me the first squash, she returned with this foot long zucchini, which had been hiding from her and secretly growing out of bounds. She was unsure of what to do about it, but not me, I am not to be intimidated by a vegetable. I knew right away that I would stuff it.

I originally got the idea for this unusual and surprisingly flavorful stuffing from Lidia Bastianich, though I think she might be mortified if she saw the way I had compromised her recipe.

Stuffing for Zucchini
1/4 c. toasted almonds, chopped
1/2 c. bread crumbs, toasted
1/2 c. grated parmesan
1 Tbsp. thinly sliced garlic
3 Tbsp. golden raisins
1/4 c. oil cured black olives, pitted and chopped
1/4 c. olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Stir together in a mixing bowl.

Pour a couple of tablespoons olive oil into a shallow baking dish. Scoop out the insides of the zucchini. The insides of this giant was mostly seeds and pulp, so I discarded them. If you are using smaller zucchini, you can put what you scrape out into the stuffing.

Pile in the stuffing. Tightly cover the dish with foil, tenting it so the foil does not rest directly on the food. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese, if desired, and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until desired doneness.

Last summer, I spotted these round zucchini at a farm stand. They were about the size of a grapefruit and I had never seen such a thing. They were so cute! I had to have them, and I stuffed them with this same stuffing.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Summer Squash Bake

The other day, our next door neighbor, Chloe, brought over some squash from her garden, both yellow crookneck and zucchini. As I thought of how I wanted to use it, I knew I wanted to make a main dish for supper. I didn't want to make it too heavy and wanted the taste of the home grown squash to star. Yet I also knew I wanted a cheesy and crunchy crust to make it a super star, to make it substantial enough to satisfy.

Summer Squash Bake
(adapted from

4 c. summer squash, sliced
1/2. Vidalia onion, chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 c. milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed
1/4 c. butter, melted
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Cook squash and onion, in a small amount of water, in a wide skillet, for about 5 minutes, until barely tender. Drain and place into a 2 quart casserole. Add the lightly beaten eggs and the milk, and salt and pepper to taste.

Mix the crushed crackers with the melted butter. Stir about one third of the cracker mixture along with one third of the cheese, into the squash.

Top with the remaining crackers, then cheese, and bake in a preheated 400 degree for about 25 minutes until bubbling and lightly browned.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Farmers' Market Supper

Yesterday's trip to the farmers' market tempted me with 6 medium tomatoes, 15 ounces okra, 2 pounds new potatoes, 5 small eggplant--3 white, 2 purple, and 1 cantaloupe. When I got it all home, washed, and lined up, I had to decide how to prepare everything. Food this fresh really does not need too much help. The only things I used, which are not pictured are olive oil, Vidalia onion, garlic, sea salt, crushed red pepper flakes, freshly crushed black pepper, and shaved parmesan cheese.

Okra and Tomatoes--Saute a large, chopped Vidalia onion plus 2 cloves minced garlic in about a tablespoon of olive oil, until tender and golden. Meanwhile, peel tomatoes by dipping them into boiling water for about 30 seconds, then in cold water. Slip off the skins and hold the tomatoes over a bowl to core and roughly chop, saving all the juices. Add all the tomatoes to the onions. Slice off the stem end of the okra and add those to the pan. Add salt and crushed red pepper flakes, to taste. Simmer until very tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Grilled Eggplant--Slice eggplant lengthwise, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with minced garlic, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place cut side down on grill at medium heat. Cook until the eggplant starts to brown and droop. Turn them over, cover with shaved parmesan, and place under a broiler until the cheese is melted.

Crushed New Potatoes--Steam potatoes, over boiling, salted water, until just tender. Place on a baking pan. Press and flatten them with the back of a wooden spoon. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 to 30 minutes, until brown and crispy.

This was a simple yet intensly flavored supper, which was followed up with chilled, cubed, cantaloupe.