Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pumpkin Seed Zucchini Fritters with Roasted Tomato Sauce

I know zucchini season is starting to die down. Tomato season is still in full swing though, and I am about to order 50 pounds of roma tomatoes to oven roast and then freeze for the winter. I have sauteed the heck out of all my squash this summer and today I tried something new. Fritters. Who doesn't like a good fritter? I roasted some slicer tomatoes last night with olive oil and garlic and knew a zucchini fritter on top would be a lovely lunch. But it had to be light and easy. I used low fat greek yogurt to bind everything together. I decided to add saffron to the yogurt which I thought would match well with the roasted tomatoes. Let it sit for about 30 minutes and then added it to grated zucchini and chopped pumpkin seeds. Eggs and milk seem to be the binders I see over and over again in fritter recipes. Why not buck the system? And pumpkin seeds? Well, that was a risky move which turned out great! It gave it a fun crunch and mellow flavor.  I sauteed the fritters in olive oil for about 4 minutes on each side.
You can use any kind of tomato sauce you have on hand, or make your own. I will be making these again on friday night when we have guests coming over. Kids will love these too!

makes around 10 fritters

1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
1/4 cup chopped roasted pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup low-fat greek yogurt
1 small pinch saffron
1/2 tsp vinegar
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 tbls. finely chopped onions
2 tbls olive oil 
a big pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce

Put yogurt in a bowl and add saffron. Let sit for 30-40 min. and come to room temperature. Mix well.

Squeeze any juice out of grated zucchini with you hands and add to a bowl. Add pumpkin seeds, olive oil, onion and cornmeal.  Add yogurt mixture, salt and pepper and mix well.

In a cast iron skillet, add a couple tablespoons of olive oil. When pan and oil are very hot (but not smoking because that is too hot) add a heaping tablespoon of fritter mix. Cook about 4 min. on each side. Remove from heat and transfer to a plate to cool.

Making Roasted Tomato Sauce
makes around 3 cups of sauce

slice three pounds of roma tomatoes in half. Spread evenly on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt and lightly pour olive oil over tomatoes to coat (about 1/2 cup olive oil for three pounds). Crush 4-5 cloves of garlic and lay on top of tomatoes. Roast in oven for about 90 minutes at 350 degrees. After cooking use a food mill to remove skins. Let cool before freezing.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sprouted Rice Flour Peach Scones

I joined a grain CSA this year. My first pickup was two weeks ago. Everything came in recycled old shirts fashioned into groovy grain sacks. Pickup is once a month until next spring! There were lots of goodies in my share like jam, whole grain bread, pumpkin seeds, dried beans and their famous breakfast cereal. Everything is grown at their their biodynamic farm just a short distance from my town. I have been a bit obsessed about the breakfast cereal though. Amaranth, corn, millet, barley all mixed together that cooks into an outstanding bowl of whole grains to start the day. I have been putting a bit of cardamom ghee and maple syrup on mine. Today I fashioned scones around fresh peaches, sprouted rice flour and this wonderful cereal. I think the lack of gluten in the rice flour kept the scones soft and fluffy. The cereal gave crunch and texture and I added powdered ginger for spice.

To substitute the breakfast cereal, you can mix equal parts oats, millet and cornmeal. If you have amaranth or poppy seeds add a small bit to your mix too. You will need a total of 1/2 cup of your homemade mixture, so I bet if you go hunting in your pantry right now you will come up with something that works! I am planning on using these for breakfast for next couple of days. My little girl is now six, and she is working her way through trying on 4-5 outfits every morning before school. I tried to have her pick out her outfit the night before, but that is not helping. So, by the time it we should be leaving for school, we are rushing out the door, eggs and toast cold. I am looking forward to not cooking a hot breakfast tomorrow while we feast on peach scones!

Sprouted Rice Flour Peach Scones
makes 8 scones

1 1/2 cups sprouted rice flour
1/2 cup whole grain mixture of your choosing (see above)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup apple sauce
2 Tbls. raw almond butter
1/2 tsp. salt
5 tbls. cold butter chopped into pieces
1 cup fresh chopped peaches
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. ginger powder
3/4 tsp. baking powder

In a bowl mix salt, grains, flour, baking soda and ginger powder. Add butter and work in with your fingers until the mixture looks a bit like wet sand. Add baking powder, lemon zest, apple sauce, almond butter, maple syrup and stir together carefully by hand. Lastly add peaches and mix lightly. Scoop batter with a spoon onto silpat or parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 min. or until edges are brown.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Peach & Fig Tart with Fennel Honey

This tart was brilliantly simple. I really wanted to make a rustic tart with minimal effort and no refined sugar. I also wanted a crust that was nutty and easy. I have been using local whole wheat flour on the rare occasions I have baked lately. A friend of our family has started his own grain CSA and the local coop sells his flour! The difference in taste between fresh flour and traditional store bought flour is almost startling. Freshly milled wheat has a toasty, almost nutty flavor; a pleasant surprise. I decided to mix wheat flour with almond flour and add some almonds to give it texture. I added butter to my crust, but thought about using coconut oil at first. I am sure that would work as a stand-in quite well.

The fennel honey I had been thinking about this past week. Fennel seems provoke a love/hate relationship for a lot of folks. I really like fennel in all its forms. I wondered if fennel infused in honey would pair well with figs. My infused honey was quite mild and it added a wonderful herbal note that brought out the muskiness of the figs and the perfume of the peaches. And, it was easy to make. I used a mortar and pestle to grind my fennel seeds. A coffee grinder would work well also. I can imagine that this honey would be great for little belly aches or to add to warm tea on cold winter days.
After mixing the ground fennel into the honey, I let it sit for about 3 hours to infuse. Then I heated it up on the stove so it would be easier to strain out the fennel. I used a metal tea strainer from a japanese tea pot,  and poured the warm honey into a bowl. It worked really well and the tea strainer removed all the little bits of fennel better than a coarser metal kitchen strainer.
I did not bake the crust first, and I did not let the crust rest or chill before baking. I simply cut the fruit, arranged it in the tart pan and drizzled it with honey. Told you it was easy and rustic! I had two six year olds making manzanita berry tea and mud pies while I was trying to create this, so I took shortcuts to save time and it turned out working well.
One note: The crust recipe makes a bit more filling than my 9 inch tart pan could hold. I used that to make little free form tarts for the kids to snack on. They were very happy about that!
Last week I make some homemade peach ice cream that I wanted to serve with this tart.  My ice cream maker broke last year, so I tried making it by hand in the freezer. David Lebovitz has a great article about how to do this...It went very well with the tart!

Peach & Fig Tart with Fennel Honey

6 fresh figs cut into 8 pieces each
4 med. peaches cut into 1 inch long slices (about 8-10 slices per peach)
1/2 lemon zest
1/3 + 1/8 cup  honey (you will have some left over)
1 heaping tbls. fennel seeds roughly ground

Fennel Honey
Using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle roughly grind the fennel seeds and add to honey. Mix every 30 min. or so and let sit on counter for 2-3 hours. Pour into a saucepan and heat gently until the honey is warm. Pour through a tea steeper/strainer into a bowl and use a spoon to work any remaining honey out of the strainer and into the bowl. Set aside until you are ready to use.

1/2 cup skinned almonds (I used slivered and blanched)
1/2 cup almond flour
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbls maple syrup
7 tbls. cold butter
1/2 tsp. sea salt

To make crust, add all the ingredients in a food processor with pastry attachment and blend until it resembles wet sand. Add a little more maple syrup if it seems too dry. Press into tart pan about 1 inch thick. Arrange figs and peaches and zest the lemon over the tart. Drizzle about 1/3 cup of honey with a spoon over the tart. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 min.


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