Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Summer Fruit and Chickpea Cobbler

One of the best parts about summer has got to be summer fruits.  Juicy, sweet and abundant- they're turning up in everything from slumps to hand pies.  A trip to the Farmers Market yielded a tote full of cherries, blueberries and yellow sugar plums.  Paired with a chickpea flour biscuit they made a cobbler to to rival the magic of a summer's day.

Yes, blueberries, cherries and sugar plums because why stop at just one or two of these glorious summer beauties?  And chick pea flour because it adds a sturdy, moistness that can hold up to all that fruit.  Take it from me, this cobbler was outrageous by itself, but once a scoop of vanilla ice cream was added it totally hit the stratosphere.  And easy, because it's Summertime and the livin' is, well you know...

summer fruit and chickpea cobbler

1 & 1/2 cups blueberries
1 & 1/2 cups pitted and halved cherries
2 cups pitted and quartered plums
1/4 cup raw cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardomom
1 to 2 tablespoons cornstarch (depends on how juicy your fruit is- more juice, more cornstarch, use your best judgement)

Mix everything together in a large bowl and set aside.

3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1/2 cup raw cane sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold, cut up butter
2/3 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl whisk together flour, chick pea flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Cut in the butter until mixture is crumbly.  Add buttermilk and stir with a wooden spoon just to combine.

Pour fruit mixture in an oven proof dish.  Scoop biscuit mixture on top.  Place dish on a cookie sheet.  Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until fruit is bubbling and biscuit is baked through.  Cool slightly before serving.  Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Moroccan Ratatouille

This dish was inspired by my sister, who loves ratatouille and my sister-in-law, who has recently adopted a vegan, no salt, sugar or oil, diet.  Oh, and all the zucchini my the garden.

My ratatouille loving sister had made a batch the other night and it was delish.  She mentioned she had a friend that made a Moroccan version with capers, spices and raisins.  So that became one end of the recipe.

My vegan, no SOS sister-in-law got me thinking how this recipe could be made without oil and salt.  While in the end I couldn't bring myself to totally go without them (I used a modicum of oil and a soupcon of salt), it was a great exercise in cutting back on these, what have become in our modern diet, staples.  In fact, the whole affair was an exercise in addition and subtraction.

The end result was a completely scrumptious equation .  It all came together beautifully and the flavor of the fresh vegetables stood out against a garam masala spice blend.  An altogether inspirational summer meal.

 Moroccan ratatouille

2 teaspoons olive oil 
1 eggplant
1 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow squash
1/2 cup chopped onions 
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 15-ounce box of chopped tomatoes (nothing added)
2 teaspoons garam masala spice blend
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 cup chick peas
1/2 cup roasted peppers (packed in water)
2 tablespoons capers
2 teaspoons tomato paste 
pinch of salt
black pepper to taste
a handful of fresh basil leaves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Slice eggplant into half inch thick slices.  Cut zucchini and yellow squash in quaters lengthwise.  Brush a large baking pan with 1 teaspoon olive oil and lay vegetables as close a possible on pan.  Bake, turning once, for 20 to 25 minutes,  or until tender.  When cool enough to handle cut in bite size pieces.

In a large, heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven saute onion and garlic in 1 teaspoon olive oil on medium heat.  (If onions start to stick add a bit of water.)  Saute until tender.   Add cut vegetables, chopped tomatoes, garam masala, raisins, chick peas, tomato paste, roasted peppers, capers, salt and black pepper.  Cook  for 10 to 15 minutes, adding a bit of water is mixture seems dry.  Take off the heat and add the basil leaves. Makes 6 servings.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


You learn something new everyday and today is all about Gozleme.  I'd never heard of them until they popped up on the Sourdough Surprises radar courtesy of Robyn in New Zealand.  After a lengthy google search I sort of got a handle on what this Turkish pastry is and I was surprised to find out how similar they are to Indian paratha, basically a filled flatbread.

They are way easy to put together and the list of fillings is limited only to your imagination.  I chose a spinach and ricotta filling and they turned out to be quite delicious.  I took one to work with me and was the envy of my lunch crowd.  

Since there are no recipes (until now) for sourdough gozleme I made it up as I went along.  But I found that the simpler the better and used a cup of discard and just enough flour to form a workable dough, with a bit of salt.  

My thanks go out to Robyn in New Zealand and Sourdough Surprises for learning me this something new today!

sourdough gozleme

1 cup sourdough starter 
pinch of salt
enough flour to form dough
1 tablespoon olive oil (plus some for pan frying)
3 cups spinach, chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

Combine first three ingredients, form into a ball, cover and let rest for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, saute onion in olive oil until tender.  Add spinach and cook until wilted.  Combine with ricotta, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Cut dough in half and working with one half at a time roll out a circle about 1/8 inch thick.  Spread half of the filling on half of the circle up to 1/2 inch from the edge.  Fold the empty half over the filling and press the edges together to seal.  Repeat with remaining dough and filling. 

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan on medium-high.  Fry gozleme for 3 or 4 minutes on each side or until cooked through.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Zucchini Cake


Happy Birthday Almacucina!  Today you are two!!

As crazy as the weather was last winter, it's that nice this summer. It seems we're getting just the right amount of sun, rain and heat- whatever that means.  It's a blessing for sure.  I've already harvested close to a dozen zucchini.  Tomatoes, there are aplenty, and huge, just not turning red yet.  I might have to do a fried green tomato thing because I'm itching to pick them, hopefully my patience with hold out.

My radishes were a bust, think I planted them too late.  They flowered and I'm letting them go to seed so I'll try again when the cooler weather sets in and see how it goes.  But the raspberries, in the totally wrong spot, and completely entangled with an unsuspecting azalea, are producing like crazy.  I pick a handful everyday and leave a few for the birds.

The biggest surprise has been the fig.  It spent the whole winter being repeatedly buried under one snow storm after another.  Come spring, once I saw that none of the branches were showing any signs of green, I cut it to the ground, just hoping it would come back with some healthy leaves.  Well it not only did that, but dang if it doesn't have fruit on it as well!  What a miracle!

Which brings us back to birthdays.  What better way to celebrate all this than with cake, zucchini cake with zucchinis straight from the garden.  I found it in my tattered book of recipes as zucchini bread, but baked in a low pan and dressed up with cream cheese frosting it's most definitely a cake.
zucchini cake

1 & 1/4 cup oil
4 eggs
1 cup raw cane sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 & 1/4 cups grated zucchini (about 2 medium)
3 cups white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup almond flour
fancy decorating pearls (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour a 9 by 13 inch baking pan.  In a large bowl whisk together oil, eggs, both sugars, vanilla extract and zucchini.  In a medium bowl whisk together all dry ingredients.  Add flour mixture to egg mixture and beat with a wooden spoon until thoroughly blended.

Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a tester inserted in center of cake comes out clean.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Swiss Chard and Ricotta Frittata

An early morning trip to the Lansdowne Farmers Market yielded a gorgeous bunch of Swiss Chard.  Sorry, but I was so eager to get it in my belly that I didn't even take a before photo, just take it from me it was a prime example of the species; almost a foot and a half long with large, puckered leaves and jewel toned stems. 

I wilted it in some olive oil with onion and garlic and used half for the frittata saving the rest for another recipe.  The frittata made the kind of breakfast where you don't have to eat anything else for the rest of the day.  Well almost, I had to make room later for the zucchini cake I made with courgettes from my own veg garden, but that's a whole 'nother post.

swiss chard and ricotta frittata

4 cups chopped Swiss chard, washed, trimmed and de-stemed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoon grated cheddar cheese
2 teaspoon fresh herbs, finely chopped (like thyme or oregano)
salt and pepper to taste
5 tablespoons ricotta cheese

Set oven to broil. Heat olive oil in a 10 inch oven proof skillet on medium-high heat; add Swiss chard, onion and garlic and saute until chard is wilted.  In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, milk, cheddar cheese, 1 teaspoon herbs and salt and pepper.

Pour egg mixture over chard.  Cook over medium heat, swirling the pan occasional until eggs are nearly cooked through.  Dollop ricotta cheese over top of eggs and set pan in oven under broiler.  Cook for 1 or 2 minutes until frittata is browned.  Top with remaining herbs.  Makes to servings.