More recipes for my visiting veg-heads
It’s been a wonderful few days with my visiting veg-heads, oldest daughter Anne and grandson Robbie. Their visit is half over, and already I’m thinking about how much I’ll miss them.
Truthfully, I haven’t done as much cooking with them here as I’d thought I would, primarily because my younger daughter, Ashley, has taken charge with produce from her glorious vegetable garden.
Both Robbie and his almost two-year-old cousin, Madeline, enjoy foods that might seem unusual for most young children: salty sharp blue cheese and feta, olives, and the sour tastes of things such as lemon juice. When I mentioned this to an acquaintance he said, “It must be genetic.”
Nope. Robbie and Madeline have equally luscious complexions, but Robbie’s ranges from milk- to dark-chocolate brown; Maddie’s is peaches and cream. Robbie has deep brown eyes and a gazillion tiny brown corkscrew curls; Maddie’s eyes are gumball blue and her hair is an unruly mass of bright red curls.
While both kids love olives, Maddie is so crazy about them that she staged a near riot when spying the olive bar at Schnucks. Tuiles are most often sweet, frequently draped over a handle to form taco-shapes or curled into a cylinder and served with ice cream. This unusual recipe using olives is sophisticated enough to accompany grown-up glasses of wine, but also pleases my olive-loving grandkids.
Olive cookies (tuiles)
• 12 or more large pitted black or green olives
• 6 T. softened butter
• 2/3 c. all-purpose flour
• 3 egg whites
• 1 1/2 T. whole grain mustard
• Pinch of salt
• Preheat the oven to 325 F.
Cut olives into thirds crosswise, spread in single layer on baking sheet, bake until slightly dried out, 5-7 minutes.
Mix butter, flour; add egg whites, mustard, salt, mix until well combined.
Line baking sheets with parchment.
Using 1 tablespoon batter, spread with an offset spatula into thin even circle, about 3 inches. Place olive slice in center.
Bake, rotating pans halfway through, about 20 minutes. Let the cookies cool in the pan for a couple minutes, then cool completely on a rack.
Zucchini in various forms and varieties are found in cuisines around the world. These zucchini pancakes are a Turkish tradition. Every cook has his/her own variation, so don’t be afraid to add a bit more or less of the feta or any of the herbs to your own taste. The addition of walnuts is somewhat uncommon, but one I really like; they add a delicious dimension of flavor and texture. Traditionally these are served with yogurt but I prefer serving them with both yogurt and this Middle Eastern tomato sauce, lightly flavored with cinnamon, making a nice contrast. These absolutely scrumptious zucchini pancakes are wonderful for brunch, lunch or supper. I usually make them for an entrée, but they’re also good as a first course or side dish.
Savory zucchini pancakes
• 3/4 c. walnuts
• 1 lb. young zucchini (without large seed cavities), stems and root ends trimmed, coarsely grated
• 1 T. salt for sprinkling on the grated zucchini, plus additional below
• 2 c. thinly sliced green onions, both green and white parts, about 2 bunches
• 4 beaten eggs
• 1/2 c. all-purpose unbleached flour
• 1/3 c. chopped fresh dill feathers, large stems removed, or substitute 1 tsp. dried dill weed
• 1/3 c. chopped parsley, preferably Italian flat-leafed
• 2 T. chopped fresh tarragon or 2 tsp. dried (or substitute additional parsley)
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper, or more to taste
• 1/2 c. crumbled feta cheese
• Olive oil for frying the pancakes
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Place the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast until they have just begun to brown and have become fragrant, 5-10 minutes. Cool the nuts, coarsely chop them, and set aside.
Put the grated zucchini in a colander or sieve and sprinkle generously with salt. Toss to incorporate the salt throughout the zucchini, then put the colander over a sink or bowl and let the zucchini drain for 30-45 minutes. Rinse the zucchini shreds thoroughly under cold running water, then spread them evenly over the surface of a large lint-free towel. Roll the towel up and press it firmly to remove as much moisture as possible. If the zucchini still seems wet, twist the towel and wring it out until the shreds are as dry as possible.
Combine the zucchini, green onions, eggs, flour, herbs and salt and pepper in a bowl. Stir in the crumbled feta. At this point, the mixture can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated, covered, until ready to use. (If you’re making it more than 2 or 3 hours ahead, leave out the feta and add it with the walnuts.) Remove from the refrigerator and stir in the walnuts (and feta), making sure that the ingredients are combined thoroughly.
Line a large baking sheet with paper towels and put it in the oven turned just to warm.
Pour a thin film of olive oil into a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it is hot but not smoking, place large spoonfuls (about 1/3 cup) into the oil, spreading the mixture into flat cakes with the back of the spoon. Fry until the pancakes are golden brown and crispy on the outside and cooked through, turning once, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. As they’re done, place the pancakes in a single layer on the baking sheet in the oven to keep warm while cooking the rest. Serve immediately with yogurt and/or the tomato sauce below. Makes about 12.
This tasty tomato sauce is good not only with the pancakes above, but also served over rice or as an accompaniment to kebabs, kofte (meatballs) or grilled seafood or fish.
Middle Eastern tomato sauce
• 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 1/2 c. onion, not super-sweet, chopped
• 4 garlic cloves, minced or thinly sliced, or more or less to taste, about 1 T.
• 1 T. dried oregano leaves, crumbled
• 1 cinnamon stick, approximately 2-inches long or 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
• 28 oz. can whole tomatoes
• Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Sauté the onion and garlic, along with the cinnamon stick and oregano, in the olive oil over medium heat or until the vegetables are softened and lightly browned. Add the tomatoes and their juices, crushing them with your hands. Simmer until thickened, 30 minutes or more. Season with salt and pepper. Makes approximately 3 cups.
Contact Julianne Glatz at firstname.lastname@example.org.