Does it feel cold in here? It’s really chilly, don’t you think? Let me explain.
My seven-year-old son hates zucchini. Hates it likes the Montagues hate the Capulets. He’s really a very good eater of vegetables in most instances. Things like beets, brussel sprouts and yes, kale salad go down the hatch with rave reviews. But at zucchini he draws the line.
He will stare at tiny triangles of the offending squash in a bowl of soup and practically go into hysterics. Doesn’t matter that the whole soup tastes more or less homogeneous, he knows they are there and kicks up a royal fuss.
So you can imagine my trepidation the other night when I decided to make summer squash fritters for dinner. Hold the phone, didn’t I say he disliked zucchini, not summer squash? They are essentially one and the same, zucchini is actually a type of summer squash, along with pattypan, crookneck an other varieties. Trust me, His Royal Fussiness can’t tell the difference. I figured that battering and frying pretty much anything makes it good, plus the squash is shredded so ha a not even notice.
I made them. I used a recipe from Martha Stewart, but with an important modification; I substituted smoked feta for peccorino romano cheese, and what a difference. As far as I know, the only place on earth you can get smoked feta is at our very own market, handmade by Nick, who also sells duck and quail eggs. Pick some up next market, it’s really lovely. I served the fritters, and no cries of indignation came from my son’s end of the table. He ate the fritters, without a word of complaint, as I tried to hide my glee. And then, wait for it, as he was bringing his empty plate to the sink, he actually said;
“Mama, those little fried things? Can you make those again, because they were really, really tasty.”
And I shivered, not in disbelief, but because hell had frozen over.
Summer Squash Fritters
Grate the zucchini, then squeeze as much liquid as possible from them. Place into a bowl, and repeat with the onon. Add the feta, flour, oregano, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Heat a few Tbsp oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, mix the eggs into the batter. Place 2 tsbp mounds of batter into the pan, flatten each slightly, and fry until golden on both sides, flipping as needed, about 2 or 3 minutes. Keep warm in an oven while you make the rest of the fritters. Serve with plain yoghurt.
New Zealand Spinach
Zucchini or Pattypan squash
If you`re like me, you LOVE artichoke dip. It`s that mayonnaise and cheese laden gooey goodness that shows up on a buffet, or maybe you order from one of those restaurant chains that all seem to feature it as their signature dish. And if you`re like me, you also know that what seems like a deliciously good idea when you first start eating often morphs into a queasy ball of molten grease in the pit of your stomach before you see the bottom of the bowl. What if, however, I told you that there was a better way? An artichoke dip that was delicious and creamy without a bit of mayo or cheese? Well, I am telling you exactly that, so rustle up some pita chips and let`s do this!
2 14 oz cans artichoke hearts, drained
1 bulb (not clove, the whole thing) garlic, peeled
1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes
5 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients except lemon juice. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then cover, turn the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. Remove from heat and blend 1/2 of the mixture in a blender until smooth with the lemon juice. Add the puree to the rest of the artichoke mixture, taste for salt and adjust seasonings. Serve warm or chill and serve cold. Spread on fresh bread or crackers.
New Zealand Spinach
Turnips or Potatoes
New Zealand Spinach
Pakoras are the french fries of India. Salty, savory and delicious, they are the perfect snack or accompaniment to curries and rice dishes. Just another example of think global, eat local.
Mix all the ingredients (expect the frying oil) in a large bowl. The batter should be pretty thick, like a rich cake batter. Drop heaping tablespoons into heated oil. Fry in batches in a heavy skillet in about 3 cm oil until browned on one side, then flip and brown the other side. Drain on paper towels and then keep warm in oven until all the pakoras are ready. Serve hot.
Cilantro Mint Chutney
Blend all ingredients, taste and adjust the seasonings.
Salad rolls are a wonderful hot weather main meal. The sky is the limit for what goes in them, but I have tailored this recipe for the produce available at this time of year. I haven’t given amounts, as you can scale this recipe up or down as you wish.
Rice Paper Wrappers (not really paper, but a very thin, flat rice noodle, available in the Asian section of most good supermarkets)
Vermicelli Rice Noodles
scallions, split lengthwise into quarters and cut into 5 inch peices
fresh cilantro, chopped
fresh basil leaves
snap peas, split lengthwise
prawns, cooked and split lengthwise (optional)
Sesame seeds, for garnish
Cook the rice noodles in boiling water for about 1 minute or until soft. Drain and set aside. Soften 3 of the rice wrappers in warm water in a large shallow pan, as per the package instructions. As you use these up, put more in the water to soften. Working on a clean, flat surface, lay a softened rice wrapper in front of you. Place 3 half prawns, if using, face down n the centre of the wrap. Top with three leaves of fresh basil. Add a handful of the vermicelli noodles, and then layer some of each of the other vegetables on top. Wrap as you would a burrito, folding the sides in first and then rolling away from you to form a cylinder. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and place on a serving plate. Repeat until you have as many salad rolls as you like and serve with peanut sauce for dipping.
Tomatoes are one of those wonderful, easy-to-grow vegetables that taste so much better homegrown than anything you can buy in a store. No self respecting gardener or even garden-dabbler would let a summer go by with a tomato plant or two. Or, like I did in my not very large backyard one year, twenty, which was a bit ridiculous. They were mostly free tomato seedlings from the Orillia Community Garden that I just didn’t have the heart to compost, so into the soil they went. I didn’t know exactly what type of tomatoes they were, but there’s no such thing as a bad tomato, right? Well, they weren’t bad tomatoes, but they were little, teeny tiny yellow pear tomatoes and I had millions of them by the end of the summer. There are really only so many things you can do with tiny yellow tomatoes. Let’s just say I’ve never grown a yellow pear tomato since…
Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, back to pruning. One lesson I learned that summer, besides you gotta know when to say no with the free seedlings already, is that pruning is your friend, especially when it comes to tomatoes. An unpruned tomato plant is a giant, scraggly, bushy behemoth that looks very impressive but doesn’t produce very many tomatoes. And it’s scary. One day you’re noticing your tomato plant has really grown over the last week, the next day you’re thinking you haven’t seen your cat in quite some time. And it’s hard enough to find Mittens again, you really don’t want to go back in there to try to harvest whatever veggies there might be.
The basics of tomato pruning are as follows:
1) The tomato should ideally have 1 central stalk, but you can get away with 2 or 3
2) Suckers suck
Suckers are parts of you plant that will eventually take over your plant. They are not extensions of your plant, like the branches of a tree, but rather the evil clone twins of your plant that want to suffocate your plant out of existence. Your job is to get rid of them, not once, but constantly as they crop up during the summer. It seems like a big commitment, but it’s really so much better than trying to wade through a crazy overgrown plant later on.
How to recognize a sucker is completely impossible to explain with words. Luckily, we have created a video that will make it easy and fun! Maybe fun is a stretch, but once you get a few plants under your belt you will be sucker-crusher extraordinaire and totally unstoppable.
The most common question we get about kale is – what do I do with it? So many of us have caught on to the benefits of this superfood, but it still seems to mystify folks when they actually plunk it on the counter and attempt to cook with it. Well, kale is luckily very versatile and friendly; it can be used where you would use cooked spinach in casseroles, dips and soups, it can be steamed as a side dish with lemon juice and butter, it can be made into the ubiquitous kale chips, the list goes on and on Here’s a light soup for early summer that can transition to a fall belly-warmer.
Kale and White Bean Minestra – adapted from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant
4 chopped chopped kale
4 large garlic cloves, minced
6 cups cooked cannellini or other white beans
5 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp tomato paste
6 fresh sage leaves
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Sautee garlic in oil in a large soup pot. Add about 1/2 the beans and 5 cups stock. Puree the rest of the beans along with the tomato paste and sage. Stir the puree into the soup, season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the kale and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until kale is tender. Add lemon juice taste and adjust for salt, and serve with freshly grated cheese.