More Zucchini Madness

As you may recall, I received a donation from my mother a little over a week ago. Generous offerings from her aren’t normal sized to begin with but this one was, without a doubt, the most gargantuan gift of all. Left with a zucchini the size of a small (wait) big child, I had no choice but to chop, dice, slice, bake, broil, steam, and saute. Am I forgetting something? Well, only the most delicious technique of all; FRIED.

 

 

Maybe it’s not the healthiest of choices but my most recent (and possibly most delicious) zucchini exploration involved eggs, flour, olive oil and a good ‘ol frying session. There were a few other ingredients I decided to throw in there in order to spruce things up, like Panko Bread Crumbs for a crisp factor, but I didn’t stray too far from Smitten Kitchen’s Zucchini Fritters recipe, a very favorite food blog of mine. As usual, Smitten’s photos are slightly more appealing than my own so try not to stare too long.

Although I always encourage using your own techniques and avoiding stress by skipping ingredients that you don’t have in stock, it’s very crucial to ring out the zucchini. If there is too much water in the mixture, the zucchini won’t fry correctly and it especially won’t last for leftovers. A major perk of this recipe is the “do ahead” factor so it’d be a shame if they didn’t keep. You can store them chilled in the fridge for the better part of a week and/or frozen in a well-sealed package for months. When you’re ready to use them, simply spread them out on a tray in a 325 degree oven until they’re hot and crisp again.

Smitten Kitchen suggests whipping up a sour cream based dip as the topping but, as an Italian, I say nothing goes better than a good marinara (homemade of course). My European roots also shined through when I decided to sprinkle the just finished fritters with parmesan cheese. Give it a try and you won’t regret it. I think my Nonna would have to agree, too.

Zucchini Fritters

1 pound (about 2 medium) zucchini
1 teaspoon coarse or Kosher salt, plus extra to taste
2 scallions, split lengthwise and sliced thin
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Olive or another oil of your choice, for frying

Trim ends off zucchini and grate them using the shredding blade of a food processor.

In a large bowl, toss zucchini with 1 teaspoon coarse salt and set aside for 10 minutes.

Wring out the zucchini in one of the following ways: pressing it against the holes of a colander with a wooden spoon to extract the water, squeezing out small handfuls at a time, or wrapping it up in a clean dishtowel or piece of cheese cloth and wringing away.

Return deflated mass of zucchini shreds to bowl and add a little more salt to taste.

Stir in scallions (I used a regular sweet onion here), egg and some freshly ground black pepper.

In a tiny dish, stir together flour and baking powder, then stir the mixture into the zucchini batter.

In a large heavy skillet heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat until shimmering.

Drop small bunches of the zucchini mixture onto the skillet a few at a time and lightly nudge them flat with the back of your spatula.

Cook the fritters over moderately high heat until the edges underneath are golden, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Flip the fritters and fry them on the other side until browned underneath again, about 2 to 3 minutes more.

Drain briefly on paper towels then transfer to baking sheet and then into the warm oven until needed.

Repeat process, keeping the pan well-oiled, with remaining batter.

 

Until Next Time,

Mandated Zucchini Master

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simple is a Relative Term

As you may have noticed, the past couple weeks have been about simplifying meals. Or maybe more than just the past couple but you get the point. Who doesn’t love simple?

What is sometimes overlooked when using the word “simple” is the fact that it’s a relative term, like so many other words. Just as certain beings are more naturally athletic than others, there are those who are apt to cooking. They possess advanced senses, which are acquired at birth and naturally develop with age. It’s usually a keen nose or accurate taste buds that lead them to delineate what a dish is missing. While I highly respect connoisseurs of that nature, I also believe in eating what you want. Combine ingredients that make you happy, in both taste and simplicity, and you’ll be on your way to lovely kitchen livin’.

For example, I recently made Pork BBQ. I chose this dish because I needed to create massive quantities for around 10 people and I intended on keeping the ingredients to a minimum. After quickly scanning the internet for helpful and unique Pork BBQ recipes, I realized there were too many. Literally, every single one was different. So what makes one recipe better than the other? If a recipe comes from a Chef who’s restaurant is packed on a daily basis, should it be the winner? What if it hails from the oldest BBQ joint in South Carolina?

The answer is easy. The best recipe is your own. This is where the relative simplicity comes into play.

For that Chef who packs his restaurant every night, it’s simple to add an array of fresh herbs and homemade sauces, blending the ingredients ever so perfectly. For me and you, it’s simple to chop it and plop it. So that’s exactly what I did (with a little extra work but nothing major). Believe me when I say, the result was still magnificently enjoyable and just what I was hoping for. I didn’t spend a fortune and I didn’t waste a ton of time.

Try this method next time you’re hoping to prepare a drool-worthy meal. Feel free to scope out recipes online but if you don’t have one of the minor ingredients, let it slide. I’m sure your panel of judges (family & friends) won’t even notice.

Pork BBQ

  • 2 – 4lb. pork butts from local farmer’s market
  • pepper
  • cider vinegar
  • bbq sauce
  • ketchup

Optional: smokey paprika seasoning, honey, brown sugar, whatever you like

I put my dry ingredients on both sides and let it sit over night but if you don’t have time to do that just sprinkle them in the crock pot pre-roast. Place the pork butts in the crock pot with a TINY bit of water (a lot of juice will form from the pork so too much water could mean overflow). Set to low and let it sit for 6 hours. The meat will pull right off the bone and then you can tear it apart using two forks. Add the ketchup, vinegar and BBQ sauce or other goodies that you wish to taste. Mix. Eat. The rest is history!

 

Until Next Time,

Back to Basics Babe

 

 

Pop Goes the Sicle

There are plenty of potato salads, dips, bean mixtures, and burger recipes that we could lay down for your reading pleasure as July 4th arrives. However, something tells us many of you have traditional, family recipes that you’ve been making for years. If that’s incorrect, click HERE.

 

We’re all about family at the Main Street Inn so don’t expect any effort from our crew to “revitalize” your grandma’s secret recipe. That doesn’t mean you can’t get in the Fourth of July Summer spirit and nothing screams summer like good old fashioned popsicles.

 

Stop. Don’t you dare run to the frozen food section at your nearest grocery store and grab a box of Dole’s fruit pops. One) because it’s too hot to run and Two) because this is the perfect opportunity to stay a kid at heart, beat the heat, and have some no-hassle fun! Yes, I realize the second reason we actually three different reasons.

 

Seriously, they are popsicles! That means, pick ingredients, add a little water and freeze. I’ll test you now by asking whether you think I went out to buy ingredients or used my current inventory? Frequent readers would know the answer to this but I probably don’t have any of those so the answer is CURRENT INVENTORY! Ding, ding, ding. If you’re getting sick of this “too lazy (more like too busy) to get groceries” bit, please let me know. I see it as an outlet for creativity. Never fails. The crepes were living proof of that and so are these stellar popsicles.

 

A food processor came into play for some of them, like the Blueberry French Vanilla Yogurt Pop and the “Sangria” Pop but I also recommend using chunks of fruit or chocolate chips. This is a great way to get texture, adding an extra special surprise for those who get to enjoy the frozen delights. It also looks nice. If you’re really crafty, you can layer the ingredients, maybe even in a patriotic fashion. I kept it simple, kept an open mind and kept….eating the finished product over and over.

 

Try your hand on one of the four varieties I created or come up with your own. Feel free to share your fun with everyone here at the Main Street Inn by posting on our Facebook wall. It really is a fun, quick and kid friendly way to make some delicious treats.

 

 

Blueberry Dynamite Pop

Fresh Blueberries – chop in food processer with a little water until purple/blue juice accumulates but still have smaller chunks

French Vanilla Yogurt – add to food processor and mix briefly to blend with blueberry juice

 

Sangria Pop

Peach – use food processor and water to chop/juice the fruit

Raspberry Preserve – add to peach juice in food processor and pulse until mixed together

Red Wine – add a small helping of red wine (I used Syrah)

 

Afternoon Refresher Pop

Brewed Coffee

Chocolate Chips

Vanilla Almond Milk

 

Zen Pop

Prune Juice

Honey

Hot Mint Tea

Diced Peaches

Diced Blueberries

As far as portioning goes, play around with it. There are always two rules to remember no matter what you’re making. 1) There is no such thing as too much chocolate. 2) Follow rule #1.

 

Until Next Time,

Kid Friendly Popsicle Pusher