Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Zucheesy Boats


Are you, or someone you love a gardener? Do you, or someone you love, then, have obscene amounts of zucchini and summer squash exploding from their garden? Yes, me too. You can make zucchini bread, or you could make a sautee. Another fun thing is these quick, crispy cheesy zucchini halves that work perfectly as a side dish alongside pasta, grilled meats, or really anything you please.

Ingredients:
  • Zucchini (depending on how big they are, 1/2 per person is good)
  • Blue Cheese
  • Panko Bread Crumbs
  • Parmesan (or Pecorino Romano, or anything really)
  • Garlic Powder or finely chopped fresh garlic
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Sea salt
What to do:

Halve the zucchini and scrape out the seedy insides with a spoon. Sprinkle with garlic powder or a smattering of the fresh garlic, a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper. Place a few crumbles of blue cheese in the zucchini cavity. Now, top with Panko and then with grated cheese (or mix them.) Place them in a toaster oven (or a real oven) at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and serve. (It also works to "toast" them, but the zucchini won't be as soft.)

Pasta Puttanesca


Puttanesca is an Italian term for whore. I don't know why such a delicious pasta dish was named after a disreputable occupation, but some say it is because the ingredients are easily stored on a shelf and perfect for making a little post-business pick-me-up. This cannot be confirmed, but I can tell you that it is so good you might be surprised what people will do for you to get it. I jest, but only a little. I made this recipe based on this recipe in Bon Appétit magazine January 2008. My variations are not many, but the recipe is so good, it's worth posting here.

Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 an onion, chopped, or even better 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 28.2-ounce can peeled tomatoes in puree with basil
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, halved, pitted
  • 3 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons drained capers
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 3/4 pound Penne or Linguine pasta
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • Grated Parmesan cheese (or Pecorino Romano is nice too)

What to do:

Set a large pot of water on the stove to boil. When the water is about to boil, heat the oil in a separate large pan and then add the garlic and onion or shallots. Cook for about a minute, or longer if you like your onions softer. Add your pasta to the boiling water. Then, add the tomatoes, olives, anchovies (they are really good! Be brave!), capers, oregano and red pepper to the garlic mixture. Stir together and cook for about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce. Stir it up. If you happen to have Italian parsley or any other kind of herb like fresh basil around, throw it on top. Let people serve themselves and top with grated cheese! Enjoy!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Delite (Review)

Delite is a new "lounge" and bar located at 30 S. Broadway in Denver. It is truly a delightful experience. Owned and operated by the same folks that run the also fantastic Deluxe next door, Delite offers small plates with all of the simplicity, and delicious creativity offered over at Deluxe.

Edward and I recently visited Delite for happy hour (Tues-Sun from 4-7) and were VERY impressed. I had the happy hour wine ($3 per glass), Edward had beer (also half price). The small plates are all half price (usually $8-10 each) at happy hour so we ordered a smorgasbord. First we ordered our favorite, not to be missed EVER, Dylan's Fried Oyster Shooters. Dylan Moore is the chef-extraordinaire behind both ventures and serves these shooters in both Deluxe and Delite. He starts with a tasty pico de gallo nestled in a Chinese soup spoon. He tops this with a delicately fried oyster, and then tops the oyster with chipotle (smoked jalapeno) aioli and a leaf of cilantro. It might be a little hard to fit it all into your mouth at once, but it is truly worth it. For happy hour these babies top out at an extremely reasonable $5. We also sampled the House Made Potato Chips topped with, get this, TRUFFLE OIL AND MAYTAG BLUE CHEESE. I actually drempt about these the next day. To round out our meal, we also tried the Thai Beef Salad and the Goat Cheese Stuffed Pablano Chile. As a woman who used to be vegetarian, I don't usually find things called "beef salads" all that appealing, but this one was great. Marinated in the same flavors you'll find in a seaweed salad, this beef was perfect and tender. Edward devoured the stuffed Chile too. I found it a bit too smoky, but I don't really enjoy smoky flavors, and he does. A lot.

Though we didn't sample them this trip, the mixed drinks are also fantastic. On a previous night I tried a tasty number with the awkward moniker of "Dylan's Ass". Based on a Moscow Mule, this one has fresh ginger, vodka and sweetness. These drinks, however, are not included in the happy hour so be ready to pay $8-10 for each of the fancy drinks.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Blueberry Crisp


A crisp, a crumble, a strudel. I don't know the difference, really. The kind I like is full of oats, sugar, and of course, butter. I call it a crisp because it is crispy and delicious. Also, a crisp topping is a lot easier to make than pie crust if you ask me.

We went crazy at the store last week and bought a huge tub of blueberries, but through a series of events that kept us away from said blueberries we didn't eat up nearly enough of them last week. And so, blueberry crisp.

This recipe turned out pretty well. I might add some more sugar and maybe a little less of tapioca next time. And, maybe I'll smash some of the berries, maybe.

Filling Ingredients:
  • Fresh blueberries (about 2 pints or enough to fill up your pie plate)
  • Heaping tablespoon tapioca
  • Tablespoon white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Crisp Ingredients:
  • 1 c. oats
  • 1/2 c. all purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 c. butter
What to do:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat the inside of a 9 inch pie plate with butter, then add the blueberries, tapioca, sugar and cinnamon. Toss to mix evenly. Make the crisp by adding the first five ingredients to a bowl. Then add the butter in small pieces. Ideally, you'll cut this in with a pastry cutter, but I always use my hands to incorporate the butter and it works just fine. When the butter is incorporated, dump it over the blueberry mixture. Place the whole shebang in the oven for about an hour. You may want to place a cookie sheet under the pie plate to catch any juices that might leak out. When the topping looks browned and delicious, take the crisp out of the oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes. Then dive in.

We didn't have any ice cream because I guess we ate it all, but it would be really tasty with some nice vanilla. I had mine with milk and it was still pretty good.


Notes:
  • I don't like things too sweet, but if you do, add some more sugar to the blueberries. There are a lot of recipes that recommend between 1/3 c.- 1/2 c!
  • The tapioca is kind of interesting. If it doesn't get mixed in evenly, you can get some tapioca globs, but I like that. Most recipes used a couple tablespoons of flour instead.
  • I think it might be good to add a couple peaches, peeled and chopped. And/or perhaps smash up some of the berries for a smooshier consistency. That's right, I said smooshier.