A zucchini mint fritter, & a goat cheese giveaway!

Sometimes, parenting feels like being an optimistic, wild, very patient gardener (as all gardeners must be), just walking across a fertile field and throwing seeds out there, trusting something good will grow. Or something useful. We don’t know what will grow first, or when, or how.

And so last night, Pablo was being particularly charming by saying ‘merci’ to us every time we handed him something, and absolutely sensing this little inner satisfaction any parent probably feels when they hear their kid say “thank you” spontaneously. As if it were proof of good parenting. Wish it were that simple!

Feeding off our validation, he happily went on, “Merci, maman. Merci, papa. Merci, mamette.” Then he paused and looked down at his plate (which happened to contain a warm plum chards goat cheese salad he really likes). And he said, “Merci, miam miam.” Thank you, yummy food.

It took me a couple of seconds past the cuteness factor to realize what Pablo had just expressed: he was grateful, for the food, for dinner.

Gratitude, that’s definitely one of those wild seeds to throw in the wind with no clue in what form it might grow in our children. I certainly wasn’t expecting it then. Made me feel so warm within.

One of the things I’ve been trying to do since the very beginning with Pablo, is create good food associations. Food equals pleasure, family connection, laughter, friends, interesting smells, discovery… And beyond that, hopefully, food is generosity, love, harmony with the body, with the world.

And gratitude and appreciation of a wonderful, ordinary moment of the day.

I heard the sprouts of that food association when Pablo said it. Now it’s just keep nurturing it and watch it grow more.

Speaking of gratitude, I am most grateful to Vermont Creamery for giving me an opportunity to come up with some recipes, using their wonderful goat cheeses, as part of their Kid & Kid Campaign, like the cherry gazpacho with herbed goat cheese I shared last week.

If you know this blog, you probably know that I don’t do kids’ foods. Pablo eats what we eat (or we eat what he eats!). Past 12-15 months, nothing’s off limits as far as I’m concerned. So these fritters are as close to a kid’s food as I’m ever going to get, and our whole family enjoyed them thoroughly.

I posted another fritter recipe last year and was so surprised at the response it got! People really like fritters! These zucchini mint goat cheese fritters are not only good, they’re good for you (thank you, coconut oil!), and they’re easy… But I shall rest my case now, because I bet I had you at “fritters” 😉

And with one treat comes another: presenting now my first giveaway! So, for a chance to win a Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery gift basket, with three different kinds of goat cheese and some vanilla crème fraîche, use the Rafflecopter tool below to enter in a variety of ways. The giveaway ends next Friday night.

And scroll below for the fritter recipe!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Zucchini mint goat cheese fritters, with smoked salmon, dill crown & red pepper creamy goat cheese garnish

Makes about 10 fritters

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 15 min approx

Age for babies: 10-12 months, great finger food.

1 pound of zucchini
1 tsp coarse salt
1 onion
1 egg
1 tbsp chopped mint (= 2-3 sprigs)
3 oz fresh goat cheese
1/2 cup of spelt flour (AP works too)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup milk (goat or cow)
Coconut oil for frying

To serve (optional):

10 small slices of smoked salmon
Crown dill (or dill) for garnish 
Roasted red pepper creamy goat cheese

Cut off the ends of the zucchini, wash them, and grate them by hand or in a food processor.

Pour in a bowl, add the coarse salt and let it sit for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, finely chop the onion and mint. Lightly beat the egg. Crumble the fresh goat cheese with a fork.

Put the grated zucchini in a thin dishtowel (or cheesecloth), and wring the heck out of it to get rid of the excess water. Quite a bit of green liquid should come out.

In a bowl, mix the flour and baking powder. Add the egg, coconut milk and milk. Add in the zucchini, chopped mint and onion and stir. Gently incorporate the crumbled goat cheese.

Preheat the oven at 200°F.

In a frying pan, melt 1-2 tbsp of coconut oil on medium/medium-high. Drop large spoonfuls of the batter in, pressing on top to flatten a bit. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until the edges are golden. Flip them and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Cook in 2 or 3 batches depending on the size of your pan.  I had to add about 1 tbsp of coconut oil with every batch.

Set on absorbent paper, then transfer to a baking sheet and place in the oven for about 10 minutes to keep warm and increase crispiness factor.

Serve warm with a slice of smoked salmon on top, and garnish with a bit of roasted red pepper creamy goat cheese and some crown dill.

Or you can skip the salmon and just spread some of the creamy goat cheese on, Pablo enjoyed that part very much!

(The fritters keep well in the fridge, reheat in the oven at 350° for 5-10 min).

Sausages and greens and a giveaway

What can I say? I am being terrible at keeping up with posting regularly… I am so bad that today my blog had forgotten me I had to go look for the login page and log back in! That is how long I haven’t been on my blog…. Well once again I have to ask for forgiveness. On the bright side, I come bearing gifts!

I’m doing my first giveaway ever! I was recently contacted by by Gold’n Plump, the largest chicken producer of the Midwest, and was asked to try their new line of chicken sausages. I accepted and a few days later the sausages were at my doorstep. They looked so good, I cooked some that same night. And the following night I made some more. And on the weekend I used them for my kebabs.  The recipe I share is super simple and has only 3 ingredients: that shows much flavor there is in those sausages!

Have to say that contrary to all predictions, my favorite were the hot Italian sausages. I usually don’t like Italian sausages, but these one are so nicely flavored that I loved them. The fennel is not overpowering and the hot pepper gives them a little kick. The regular ones also have a surprising hint of lemon that makes them very light and refreshing. And they contain 50% less fat than pork sausages! And the lack of fat does not translate in lack of flavor or in dry sausages. They are pretty delicious even compared to regular sausages!

So onto the giveaway. Enter to win a sampler of Gold’n Plump chicken sausages.

  • This giveaway is open to US residents only
  • The givaway expires on June 12th at 12:00pm CST
  • The winner will be randomly selected using the random number generator at random.org and announced on the post on Thursday June 14th
  • Full disclosure: This giveaway is sponsored by Gold’n Plump.

Required Entry: please leave a comment on this post and tell me what you would do with these sausages.

Extra Entries:

  • Follow Italian in the Midwest on Twitter, then leave a separate comment (even you are already following).
  • Like Italian in the Midwest on Facebook, then leave a separate comment (even you are already subscribing).
  • Twit “Come over [email protected]:[email protected]ml and win some chicken brats by @goldnplump”, then leave a separate comment.

Good luck!

Sausage and greens and a giveaway

Sausage and greens and a giveaway

Ingredients

  • 3 hot italian chicken sausages
  • 1 bunch mustard greens
  • 1-2 tsp oil

Directions

  1. Remove the sausages from their casings and crumble them.
  2. As sausages to a hot wok with a bit of olive oil. Stir and let cook.
  3. Clean the mustard greens and cut them into pieces.
  4. Place the greens in the wok over the sausage and put a lid on top. After 2-3 minutes, stir the greens and cover again.
  5. After another 3 minutes the greens should be all wilted but still green. Take them off the fire and serve hot.
  6. You can also use to dress pasta!

The secrets of lamb

So this is going to be lamb week. For multiple reasons. First, sunday is Easter and Easter means lamb. Second, yesterday I went to a great class at kitchen in the market were I learned how to perfectly french a lamb rack. Third, the wonderful people of Mountain State Rosen contacted me and sent me a wonderful leg of Cedar Spring Lamb to cook. So this week I am going to post about lamb. Multiple times. Today I am going to start by talking about what I learned about frenching and cooking a rack of lamb and on Sunday I am going to post a recipe for leg of lamb.

And as I mentioned, there is also a giveaway! The wonderful people of Mountain State Rosen are giving away a $50 gift card for Lund’s. That is plenty of lamb (or anything else you’d want to buy). To participate just leave a comment below. You can get extra entries by liking Mountain State Rosen’s facebook page and by sharing this post on google, twitter, pinterest or facebook. If you share the post on a social network remember to mention me (@italianinthemidwest) so that I can thank you and to leave a separate comment below to get that extra entry. The giveaway will close at Midnight (CST) on Thursday April 4th. The giveaway is opened to anyone, but Lund’s is only present in Minnesot amaking it difficult for some of you to use the card,  so let me know if decide to opt out of the giveaway.

As I said I went to this class about primal cuts. This time it was lamb and rabbit, next time it is going to be birds and finally there is cow class (I missed the pork one, but I am sure it was great). Chef Thomas of Corner Table taught us some great things on butchering. And some wonderful tricks about cooking lamb.

The art of butchering is difficult to explain without pictures, so I won’t bother you with meaningless descriptions of what we did, but I will show you a picture:

Frenching lamb

See that? That is how you french a lamb rack!

Yes, that is kitchen twine. And that is basically all you need to get perfectly cleaned ribs. This is what you do: first you cut out the meat by slicing with the knife as close to the bone as you can. Then you attache the twine to something fixed that won’t move (ideally something anchored in the wall. Finally, you wrap the twine around the base of the rib and you pull. The twine will strip all the flesh from the bone and you will have a perfectly clean lamb rib. And I suspect it might work on other animals bone too!

Aren’t these some gorgeous racks, all perfectly frenched?

Crusted lamb rack

As for the recipe of the duo, well that is for chef Thomas’ to disclose, but I will let you know that in that crust there are the trimmings from frenching the rack, plus herbs and breadcrumbs. And that crust is delicious!

Also while you wait for my lamb leg recipe to be posted on Sunday, here a couple of my recipes for lamb: stew, ragu‘ and something rather hearty….