Zucchini flower pizza

One of the first meals I had back here in the US was pizza with zucchini flowers. Quite delicious and perfect to use some of that delicious garden bounty that comes around this time of the year.

Zucchini Flowers Pizza

Ingredients

For the dough

    • 1 lb flour
    • 1 and 1/4 cup water
    • 1 pinch activated dry yeast
    • 1 tsp salt

For the topping

  • 15-20 zucchini flowers
  • 3-5 oz muenster cheese (or other mild melting cheese)
  • 8-12 anchovies
  • oil

Directions

For the dough

  1. Mix the flour and the yeast and add the salt and 1 cup of the water. Mix well and add as much of the remaining water as you need to get a soft dough.
  2. Place the dough in a bowl, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 8 hours outside or 24 hours in the fridge.
  3. About 1 hour before eating, gather the dough in a ball, stretch it and fold it in three. Repeat a couple of time waiting about 5 minutes in between.
  4. If you have it place a pizza stone in the oven, if you don’t a cookie sheet turned upside down will do the job. Turn on the oven at the maximum (for me 550F) and wait for it to come to temperature.
  5. Cut the dough in two and spread and stretch it as thin as you can. Take the stem off the zucchini flowers and spread on the pizza. Add the anchovies thorn in little pieces, top with the thinly sliced cheese and a drizzle of oil.
  6. Place the pizza on a pizza peel and slide on the pizza stone (or cookie sheet) in the hot oven and cook until the crust is golden brown (3-7 minutes). I find a piece of parchment paper helps with the sliding the pizza on and off the pizza peel and stone.

Zucchini Parmesan

This zucchini dish is a revisit of the classic eggplant Parmesan. It is a very simple recipe with only three main ingredients: zucchini, tomatoes and cheese. It is also relatively quick to make: it will take about 30 minutes to have the dish oven ready and then another 30 minutes or so in the oven. And as all dishes that have two steps, it can be prepared ahead of time and cooked last minute. So if you have guests or a busy day you can prepare it ahead of time and bake it only right before going to dinner.

When we tried it, we were surprised by how good it turned out. I think what brought it over the top was the cheese I used. It was a dutch goat cheese a friend of ours brought from Holland when he last visited us and it worked perfectly in this dish: it melted velvety smooth and had the right amount of sweetness and saltiness. So if you can get your hand use it!

By the way this picture was a great success on Instagram. I’m still wondering why since both composition and light are nothing special. This is why social media baffles me: one time post a great picture or a very interesting recipe and you barely get a blimp on the applicable stats (views, likes, clicks, whatever it is), then you post a random pic of a generic recipe and get plenty of views and click trough and comments and what not. My most viewed recipe is a recipe for yogurt panna cotta with one of the worse pictures I have taken.

I am pretty sure there is an explanation, but I am probably not smart enough to crack the code.  I guess it has something to do with having the right keyword in it and getting enough traffic to get Google to notice, but I am not sure how you choose the right keyword. So I will keep enjoying my 15 minutes of (very limited) fame as they randomly happen 🙂

Ingredients

  • 5-10 zucchini depending on the size
  • 1 can tomato puree
  • 8 slices of flavorful melting cheese (I used goat cheese)
  • 1 small onion diced
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • thyme
  • 1-2 anchovies (optional)

Directions

  1. Thinly slice the zucchini. You can choose to do lengthwise or cross wise. Lengthwise will make it less convenient to saute the zucchini and cross wise will make layers less pretty.
  2. In a pan add olive oil. When the oil is warm, add the diced onion and the anchovies (if using). Add the zucchini, season them with salt and thyme to taste and saute until they are cooked through and a bit charred. Set aside and let cool down.
  3. Using the same pan, add a bit more oil (if needed) and the tomatoes. Let cook until reduced. Add salt to taste.
  4. Layer the about 2/5 of the zucchini on the bottom of an oven dish. Cover with about 1/2 of the tomato sauce. Add a layer of cheese. Repeat a layer of zucchini, tomato and cheese. Finally top with the leftover zucchini and cheese.
  5. After this step you can bake the dish immediately or put it in the fridge for up to a day.
  6. Bake in the oven at 375F for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the top layer is golden brown. If needed turn on the broiler for the last 5-10 minutes.
  7. Serve hot as a light main course or a rich side.

Traditions revisited: lentil burgers

So I am back. Or at least I will try to be back. Last semester at work was crazy with teaching and research and I decided to take a break from the blog. I want this blog to be a relaxing oasis, not a source of stress, so I have been posting a bit on Intsagram and Facebook and Twitter, but I did not really do much for the blog. Now it is the new year, teaching is behind me for the time being and I will try to get back to some version of a regular schedule.

Since it is the start of the year, I will start by posting a recipe for recycling lentils. As you might know, lentils are always eaten on the first day of the year in Italy because they are believed to “bring money”. Here you can find more about it. So what do you do when you have leftovers? Delicious veggie burgers is the answer!

You can start from the leftover lentils and simply add breadcrumbs to get a stiff and dry mixture. Form into patties and pan fry them. And you are done.

I decided to serve them with leftover cotechino (a traditional Italian sausage/cooked salami that is always present on the table at New Years) that I sliced and crisped in a hot pan with no added fats, and steamed spinach, because you always need something green on the table.

Otherwise, you can go the burger route and serve them in a bun with a slice of tomato, lettuce and your other favorite burger toppings. Either way it’s going to be an hit with vegetarians and meat lovers alike!

Traditions revisited: lentil burgers

Ingredients

  • 2 cups leftover lentils
  • 1-2 cup breadcrumbs
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions

  1. With a fork smash the lentils and mix them with the breadcrumbs. You should get a dry and rather stiff mixture. This will require more or less breadcrumbs depending on how wet your lentils are, so adjust the amount of breadcrumbs accordingly.
  2. Adjust salt and pepper if needed.
  3. Form in small patties dusting with more breadcrumbs if needed.
  4. Pan fry in hot oil until they are warm, about 3-4 minutes per side.

Sangria strudel

A couple of days ago, I was browsing my Instagram feed and I saw a picture of a Sangria cake and thought it was brilliant. Of course I lost track of who posted it and despite a session of pretty intense scrolling I could not find it again. So apologies for not appropriately crediting. If you were the brilliant poster, let me know and I will fix this.

Anyway, I had to make up my own. I looked in the fridge and saw a forlon roll of phyllo dough and thought: strudel! And the rest is history.

Ingredients

  • 4-6 cups of fruit soaked in wine for 12-24 hours
  • 6-8 sheets of phyllo dough
  • 2 tbsp melted butter

Directions

  1. Brush the phyllo dough with the melted butter. You can do it sheet by sheet, or you can do the quick way and brush just brush here and there as you see fit..
  2. Place the fruit at the center of the roll and close the roll over the fruit.
  3. Bake in the oven at 375F/180C for 30 minutes or until it is golden brown.
  4. Serve cold or warm with some vanilla ice cream.

Cod and potato burgers

I am a bit late today, because I was in Chicago during the weekend meeting up with family and showing baby A. off: she walks now and had a ball at millennium park splashing around the Crown fountain and at the beach people watching and splashing about on the shore.

The recipe I’m sharing today is inspired by a dish my mother used to make often when we were young: cod layered with potatoes. I lowed it very much as a kid for its simple flavors. As I grew older and started making it myself, I started adding a spoonful of capers to add another layer of flavors, and a couple of months ago I had the idea of transforming it into burgers. It is now a bit of a classic.

They use only a handful of ingredients and are very quick to put together, particularly if you have leftover boiled or baked potatoes. Yet the use of capers and pickled lemon as seasoning, give the dish a whole new depth of flavors by introducing notes of acid, pop of saltiness and just a touch of sour to give a counterpoint to the fishiness of cod and the of simple earthiness of the potatoes. Give it a try and you won’t be disappointed.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boiled potatoes (baked would work too)
  • 1 lb raw cod
  • 1/2 tbsp capers
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1/2 pickled lemon
  • salt
  • pepper
  • panko breadcrumbs
  • olive oil

Directions

  1. Chop the raw fish roughly with the capers, onion and pickled lemon using the pulse function of a food processor.
  2. Mash the potatoes and mix in the chopped fish mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste and form into patties. If the mixture is too wet, you can add a couple of spoons of breadcrumbs. If it is too dry, you can add a bit of mayo.
  3. Coat the patties using the panko breadcrumbs and place on an oven sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and bake in a 375F oven for about 30 minutes or until golden brown, turning over once to get even browning and cooking.
  4. You can serve with a light mixed green salad and a bit of tartar sauce or lemony mayo on the side.
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