Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Not Your Ordinary Salad - serves 4

Reaping the last benefits of my garden, I concocted this wonderful salad kissing the summer (and it's heat) goodbye.  With fall at the backdoor, the only thing that will be missed about summer is her vegetables.  My garden was actually quite pathetic this year; going from an abundance in crops in 2010 to looking like the sun and her heat had eaten everything they could get their hands on. On occasion, there would be a zucchini or squash that would come through to save a dinner, but then a (cuss word) squirrel would be hiding behind a squash leaf and run away with it. I've been known to chase a few but they win, time after time.  But as you can see, I was able to salvage a few, and this salad is our reward. You don't have to have lettuce to make a salad.  You need great veggies and others who share the same passion as you, homegrown-ness.  And, I'm sure the squirrels are feasting on them as well.  That's ok.... they won't be eating my eggplant.  I'm ready.


2 zucchini, washed and cut into thin strips using a mandoline or a peeler
2 squash, washed and cut into thin strips using a mandoline or a peeler
3/4 cup cherry tomatoes
2 tbs fresh parsley and/or fresh oregano
White balsamic vinegar for drizzling
Really good olive oil for drizzling
Sea Salt and Fresh ground pepper


Arrange zucchini and squash as separate mounds on a large platter.  Spread tomatoes around platter and top with parsley and/or oregano.  Drizzle with both vinegar and olive oil.  Top with salt and pepper then serve.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Thrumbprint Cookies, adapted from the Joy of Cooking

I hate to bake.  I get a lot of wrinkled eyebrows when I make this statement since I'm a chef.  The thing with baking is that if you mess it up, you have to start all over.  I haven't always hated baking.  In fact, I used to love it when I was in college.  I dated this guy who happened to be on the baseball team and he loved it when I baked for him.  So, one day I decided to use 3/4th's of my allowance and make him my grandmother's famous Hershey's chocolate cake.  This cake was loved by many and it was going to be a sure hit with this guy.  I followed the recipe to the T.  It's not easy to make, which made it all the more daunting.  After skipping a day's worth of classes (kidding, mom) I retrieved my cake out of the oven to see a beautiful display of chocolate, signifying the love of a grandmother.  That's when it completely deflated right before my eyes.  Not sure if I was more upset of the wasted effort or the loss of my allowance.  I was so mad I began flinging chocolate chunks all over my apartment floor.  Yes, the boyfriend ate it anyway (very nice on his part) but still, it bore a hatred so deep within me I decided I was done with baking.  And, eventually, so was the relationship.  So, I guess that's the one good thing that came out of it.  If your cakes don't rise to the occasion, than likely the person your dating at the time won't either.  Now, I am forced to bake for my children's birthdays.  Taking cookies to school is the one thing I dread until finally my sweet daughter took the hint and asked for something simple, thumbprint cookies.  These won't clean out your wallet and no class skipping is necessary.  Just eat with whom you love and know that the thrill of baking is for these times only.


Whisk together:

1.5 cups all-purpose flour 
1/3 cup cornstarch 
1/4 tsp. baking powder 
1/4 tsp. baking soda
 1/4 tsp. salt 
Beat on Med. Speed: 
3 1/2 Tbsp. Unsalted butter, softened 
1 tbsp. canola oil 
1 tbsp. light corn syrup 
1/2 cup sugar 
1 med egg 
1/4 oz. lemon juice 
2 tsp. vanilla extract 
1 tsp. almond extract 
Jam or Preserves as needed

Preheat Oven to 375 degrees.
Whisk together dry ingredients.
Mix on Medium Speed Wet ingredients until thoroughly blended.
Mix the dry into the wet until combined (but not too wet).
Roll the dough into 1 inch balls.
Use thumb or knuckle to create a well in each cookie.
Fill well with Preserves (do not overfill).
Bake for 6 to 9 minutes until cookies are firm and very lightly brown.
Let rest on warm cookie sheet 2 minutes, then transfer to rack to cool.

Number of Servings: 26