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Friday, September 30, 2011

zucchini-chocolate chip muffins

When I was a kid, you brought your teacher two gifts a year -- one at Christmas time and one on the last day of school. I think it cost between $5 and $10, and it was probably usually a box of chocolate, a coffee mug, or some sort of tchotchke or desk item. And the parents were done, and the teachers were appreciated and it was good.

Then the manufacturers got wind of this trend, and they started to capitalize on this trend by making specific "teacher" mugs and pads of paper that say "2 teach + 2 touch lives = 4-ever." They made funny ones and sentimental ones and cute ones and cheesy ones. So the parents went to the stores and bought the teacher-themed gifts and wrapped them up and sent them in. And the parents were happy and the teachers were appreciated and it was good.

Then word got out... maybe teachers don't really need any more mugs. Maybe they want something a little more for themselves and less for the classroom than a cute notepad or a pencil caddy. So the parents went to the stores, and they bought the lotion and the candles and the picture frames. And the teachers were surprised and the parents felt thoughtful and it was good.

And then the parents started to think. Maybe 32 bottles of lotion a year is too many? And maybe she doesn't need every apple-and-cinnamon scented candle there ever was and what exactly does "spring breeze" smell like? MeanwhileStarbucks had invented "global domination" and had opened a store on the corner next to your school and the corner next to your house and inside the grocery store in between, and three more on top of and underneath and alongside all those first Starbucks stores. And the parents bought gift cards and they stuck them in a card and sent them in. And the parents felt that is was convenient and thoughtful and appreciated, and the teachers thought it was useful and a treat, and it was good.

And that's where we are. Which is great, especially because now we don't send in a gift only for Christmas and the end of the school year. We do send in a gift for those days, yes. But we add the teacher's birthday to the mix. We also have "Teacher Appreciation Week." Which is five more days of sending in something or other.

However, five days of Starbucks cards is silly, and she has so many candles they can be seen from space and she really doesn't want your kid's handprint in a frame. She is still washing her own kids' handprints off of her doorways. So, the "teacher appreciation committee" (do you see how far this has gone???) decides on a theme for each day. One day you do indeed get to send in a gift card for Starbucks, and one day you do get to send in a teacher-desk type school supply item -- but make it more glittery or special than the standard crayons and construction paper the school supplies anyway. And for days three, four, and five, you will probably be asked for a flower from your garden, a hand-made card, and a treat for the brunch in the teachers' lounge. It's lovely and manageable and most parents are happy to do something and really this isn't too much and we really truly do appreciate the teachers and we want to show them that.


Have you seen a teacher's lounge during Teacher Appreciation Week? There are so many variations on doughnuts, muffins, coffee cake and cinnamon rolls that there is no room for the teachers to sit and enjoy any of it. The tables are covered and the counters are covered and the stuff is piling up and falling over.

And what do you think happens next? Some gets eaten. The teachers eat and the aides eat and the office staff eats and the custodian eats and the man who stocks the staff room vending machine eats. Then the PTA (the parents who brought the stuff in, remember) are told "Of course come have some! There is so much here! Let's not let it go to waste!"

And after that? It goes stale and it gets tossed. Out. Into the trash.

So every year I say to myself: Self, don't do it. Don't take precious hours to bake something lovely this week. Don't make a beautiful layered coffee cake and send it into the teacher lounge. First of all, it will never be seen among all the rest. Secondly, it won't be eaten. It will take up precious space where a teacher might like to set down a cup of coffee instead. And then later someone will have to throw it away and clean up the crumbs. Just wait a few weeks and do it then. They will be happy to have something a month from now when the long dry days of being back to under-appreciated teachers return.

But then I say to myself: Self, that stinks. If you can't bake a pan of muffins for these people, what is wrong with you? You really want to be the only person in the whole school who does nothing? Maybe if you had done it a month ago, you could skip it now. But even if you send in a note that says you are waiting for a hungrier time, it will just look like an excuse because you forgot to do it. Next year do it ahead. Ahead of time is okay. Late is not.

Every year.

But not this year! For once! I thought. I planned. I did it! I baked muffins for my daughter's grade-level teachers (I can't do the whole school at once. One grade at a time, thank you very much). I baked the muffins, wrote a note letting them know it was a pre-Appreciation Week snack, and really we appreciate them every week, and I sent them in.

Of course, I will still end up baking something during the actual week. I don't want to be the only person in the whole school who does nothing.

Zucchini-Chocolate Chip Muffins
Adapted from the recipe here.

Makes 18 muffins or 36 mini-muffins

3 cups grated zucchini (or summer squash... I actually used a combination)
1 stick butter, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.

In a mixer, combine everything but the chocolate chips, using the paddle attachment. If you prefer, you can mix by hand. I like to let the mixer run on low as I measure and add everything. It feels like multi-tasking. Turn the mixer off once it is all well combined, and stir in the chocolate chips.

Spray non-stick spray into the muffin pans (or use paper liners). Fill the muffin cups almost all the way to the top.

Bake mini-muffins for about 20-25 minutes, regular muffins for 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's a scary world out there

I've been cooking up a little storm around here in the few spare moments I can devote to spending in the kitchen. However, between all of the running around town and meetings and volunteering and fundraising and packing for camping, I don't have any time to tell you about it all! Soon, I promise...

Anyway, I just had to take a moment for a little warning and a little soapboxing.

DON'T EAT YOUR CANTALOUPE! Unless you know exactly where it was grown, that is.

Have you read about the cantaloupe recall yet? Click here if you haven't.

There is a farm in Colorado whose cantaloupes are tainted with listeria. Although the name listeria doesn't come to mind as readily as e coli or salmonella, it is actually more deadly, especially to the elderly, the young, or pregnant women.

Of course, these things happen. Bacteria makes its way places and infests foods, and in turn the consumers of the foods. Listeria happens to have a two week incubation period, which means that it can be in your system for two weeks before you have any symptoms.

I have no idea whether the farm is at fault, or if it is just bad luck that they happen to have a listeria outbreak right now.

But here is where my soapbox comes in... this farm in Colorado sends cantaloupes all over the country. That means that a listeria problem in Colorado has infected people from Arizona clear over to New York. From Wyoming all the way down to Texas, people are receiving these cantaloupes.

Within two weeks, listeria made it all four corners of our country.

If that isn't a good reason to buy local, what is?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Hobak Jeon (Korean zucchini pancakes)

While looking for a recipe to use summer's last zucchini, I stumbled across Hobak Jeon. In Korean food, Jeon (pancakes) are very common, and can be made with a number of different vegetables or meats. These are made with zucchini (hobak).

So often, when I find a recipe that sounds good, I get started cooking right away. I usually make changes here and there, adding a little extra of the things I like, omitting or lessening the things I don't like, and often substituting things I have on hand for things that might require a trip to yet another store.

This time, though, I feel like I deserve a gold star. I actually read through several different recipes ... and even watched a couple of videos for these pancakes before I got started.

I still made substitutions and changes here and there, but I did so with some reasons this time. I went with a piece of this recipe and a bit of that one, as they appealed to me for different reasons.

Most recipes for these Hobak Jeon were very similar... they all called for an equal amount of flour and water, 1 egg for every cup of each of those, and the zucchini.  However, I liked the way Ellie Won at Kitchen Wench made fewer, larger pancakes to cut into pieces and serve as appetizers. They just look much much cooler that way. Also, she was the only one I saw who added carrots, so I went ahead and put some in mine too. In general, she was just so very much more hip than many of the websites highlighting hobak jeon.

If you want a very authentic set of instructions, you can go to Aeri's Kitchen. She provides a video with step-by-step instructions, and has some awesome Korean background music.

Almost all of the recipes called for cutting the zucchini into matchsticks, but I went the easy route and send them through the shredding blade on my food processor. I can't imagine it made much difference.

Enough about all that. Here's the dang recipe.

Hobak Jeon

2 large (or 4-5 small) zucchini
about 2 teaspoons salt
2 cups flour
2 eggs
2 cups water
2 carrots
1/2 onion
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

First, shred the zucchini int the food processor. Take it out, toss it with the salt, and place it into a colander in the sink. The salt will draw out the moisture, and the colander will let it all drain away. Leave it for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs with a whisk to get them fluffy. Add the flour. Adding two cups of flour to two eggs makes for a very dry, very odd mixture. Just do your best to get the eggs spread out in the flour. Next, add the water, one cup at a time. Mix it thoroughly in between cups, so the flour and egg is evenly distributed. You want to end up with a very thin pancake batter.

In the food processor, take out the shredding disc and put in the blade. Pulse the carrots and onions together until they are very finely minced.

Once the zucchini has softened and lost some of its juice, squeeze it thoroughly (to make it as dry as possible) with your hands. Add the zucchini, carrot, and onion to the batter. Add salt and pepper.

Heat a frying pan to medium heat and add about a teaspoon oil.

Pour about 3/4 cup of batter into the pan. Using the back of a spoon, spread it to the edges of the pan. You want the pancake to be very very thin.

Let it cook until it is looking dry and it is getting brown on the bottom. Carefully turn it over, and let it cook until the other side is golden brown also.

Repeat until the batter is gone. It should make 7-8 large, thin pancakes. You might need to add more oil every so often.

Serve, cut into pieces, with a dip made by combining a little soy sauce and vinegar.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Apple Sauce. And Jesus.

In my Abundant Harvest box this week, I got this big beautiful bunch of green apples.

The kids were so excited to see apples that they bit right into them... and then puckered up their little faces. They're pretty tart, as it turns out.

I decided to make applesauce out of them... 

... but before I give you the recipe, I need to tell you that Jesus was in my kitchen.

You know how some people see Jesus in different objects? And then they are born again and become religious and saved? 

For example, Jesus has been seen in a tree:

 Or a KitKat bar:

One person even saw Jesus in the dregs of his beer. Well, probably lots of people have seen Jesus in the dregs of their beer, but one person still had enough sense left in him to photograph it:

And, of course, if you are a fan of Glee, you will remember the grilled Jesus:

Remember that bowl of apples I showed at the beginning? I emptied it and peeled the apples, and then inverted the empty bowl into my dishwasher. And. There. Was. Jesus.

I'm warning you, this is not for the faint of heart. Jesus is there (at least I think it's him). But he is NOT happy.

scroll down if you are stout hearted enough to view sad apple bowl Jesus. Also scroll down if you want to get past this nonsense and make apple sauce.

I warned you. Not happy.

At any rate, after doing penance and atoning and a couple of other things, I made the applesauce.

And here is how:

Peel your apples and chop them into little chunks.

Put them all in a pot and fill with just enough water to almost cover them. Add some sugar. Not too much (maybe a couple of tablespoons?). You can always add more later, so you can decide just how sweet you need it to be. You can also add a little cinnamon if that's your thing.

Let is all simmer for a long long long time. This pot simmered for about an hour. Stir it every so often. When you can see that the apples are all turning to mush, you are done! You can stop while it is a little chunky if you'd like, or you can keep going until it is pretty smooth. Add some more sugar if you want, and voila! Apple Sauce!

We go through apple sauce pretty quickly around here, so I didn't bother sealing and preserving the jars. They won't stay in the fridge long enough to warrant it. But if you wanted to, you could follow these instructions.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

i love cooking

I love cooking.

I hate making dinner.

I love sitting down with my family to eat a nutritious meal.

I hate listening to my kids complain about the meal.

I love trying out new recipes.

I hate spending too much money for specialty ingredients for just one recipe.

I love photographing food.

I hate cleaning the stove just so I can take a couple pictures.

I love the smell of apples and cinnamon simmering on the stove.

I hate when the apples boil over onto my freshly cleaned stove.

I love making fresh, fun snacks for my kids to eat after school.

I hate packing lunch boxes.

I love my new(ish) dishwasher.

I hate emptying it.

I love cooking for my friends.

I hate cooking on a deadline.

Monday, September 19, 2011

tomato soup

One of my favorite combinations is grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. I've liked it since I was a wee little thing.  Once in a while, so I remember, we got away with it on a Friday in lent, instead of having to eat dreaded tartar sauce with a little bit of even more dreaded fish underneath it. Those were the days.

Here is the thing about tomato soup from a can, though. It's really really good, but it doesn't exactly taste like... tomatoes. Nor does it really look like tomatoes. It has it's own color. Once, a friend asked me to help her make some curtains. "They need to go with our new couch," she said. "It's tomato-soup colored." And it was, exactly. It was that odd, almost-red color of tomato soup straight out of the Cambell's soup can. Not tomato-colored, tomato soup-colored.

Anyway, this recipe will definitely fill any nostalgic need you might have for the tomato soup of your youth. It is creamy and sweet, goes great with grilled cheese sandwiches, and just feels like going home. But here's the kick. It also manages to taste like tomatoes! Bonus!

Tomato Soup
This recipe makes enough for 10-12 servings. Plan to freeze some for a future night of easy dinner prep, or make only half.

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, finely chopped
8 cups tomatoes, chopped (including juice, skins and seeds)
1 quart vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

In a large stockpot, saute garlic in olive oil. Add onion and saute until translucent and soft, (about 8 minutes). Add the tomatoes and bring it to a boil. When it comes to a boil, add vegetable stock. Simmer for about 20 minutes.

Let it cool. When it is relatively cool, add basil. Puree in a blender, a couple cups at a time, until it is an even smooth consistency. Set aside.

Make a roux in the now-empty pot, by melting butter and then stirring in flour until it is a medium brown color. Add the pureed tomato mixture back into the pot. Mix together, and then add in the salt, pepper, vinegar, and cream.

Let it all simmer about 20 minutes more. Serve warm... perhaps with a grilled cheese sandwich?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

spaghetti squash salad with tomato and basil

If you have been reading my blog for any length of time (or if you know me in "real" life and you have been hearing me whine), you won't be surprised to know that sometimes I get overwhelmed by a particular vegetable in the Abundant Harvest box.

Last year I vaguely remember having a period where there was a ton of broccoli... and this summer there was most definitely a zucchini surplus.

It's not that it is a yucky vegetable. Or that I don't know how to prepare it. It is just that sometimes I just don't know what to do with so much of it. At points I felt like I might turn into broccoli from eating it so often.

This week, it is spaghetti squash. Up until now, the only way I have ever prepared it is to turn it into a spaghetti-like dish (with red sauce and meat). I did that last week. And this week, I was rewarded with two new, large, spaghetti squash. I can serve it one more time as a main dish, but any more than that? My husband and kids would be rightly justified in walking out on me. For good.

So, enter creativity mode!

Hey, if spaghetti squash takes the place of spaghetti, why shouldn't it take the place of other pastas Like...say... couscous?

I made a sort of spaghetti-squash, semi-caprese, semi pasta-salad salad.

Spaghetti Squash Salad with tomato and basil
(plan ahead to cook the squash and let it completely cool before assembling the salad)

1 spaghetti squash
3 small tomatoes, chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 small yellow squash, chopped (about 1 cup)
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400.

Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and pulp. Place face down into a pan filled with about 1 inch of water.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the shell of the squash is browned and the insides are very soft.

Let it cool completely. Once it is cool, you will be able to easily scrape the flesh out into spaghetti-like strands.

Mix together the squash, feta and vegetables. Add olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste.

Like many pasta salads, this tastes even better after being refrigerated for a few hours, so go ahead and make it the morning before you need it!

Served in a half of an avocado, it makes and especially filling, healthy, delicious lunch!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Grilled Cheese sandwich with pesto, avocado, and tomoato

I think one of the most important things I have learned from the past (naerly) year (wow!) that we have been getting the weekly box of produce from Abundant Harvest, is that if you have enough of the right foods in your house, it is really much easier to eat at home than it is to go through a drive-through.

And don't get me started on how much more:
  • healthy
  • inexpensive
  • environmentally responsible
  • delicious
Because it is all those things too.

But take last night, as an example.

We were at karate class, where all three kids were punching and kicking their little hearts out, when I suddenly remembered that we had a cub scout meeting at 4:45 (why such an odd time? Let's just say compromise). Since karate ends at 4:30, we would need to go straight to cub scouts. And since cub scouts ends at 6:00, that really leaves no time for cooking dinner. And since this just occured to me, clearly I didn't plan ahead.

No problem. We'll go through the In-N-Out drive through on the way home. Easy, cheap, delicious, and, best of all, these tired and hungry martial artists/scouts will get to eat right away.

Except, as I drove toward In-N-Out, I could see the line at the drive through. If you haven't ever been to In-N-Out, shame on you   I am deeply sorry   come to California immediately   you may not realize that the cars will line up 15-20 deep at dinner time. And stay that way late into the night. The extremely friendly and happy staff will take care of those cars just as quickly as you can imagine, but still. You have to wait for those 15-20 people to order their fries animal style, their burgers double-double-protein-style-easy-on-the-spread-with-grilled-onions, and their chocolate shakes... just shakes. There really is no way to improve on those milkshakes. mmmm.

Anyway, I decided not to swing the car over and get in that line. Why? In addition to the long line, because... say it with me...  there are vegetables in my house that I need to use up! That is becoming quite a refrain around here.

But in all honesty, I do have vegetables I need to use up. And they are much better for me than a double double. Even if I order it protein style (no bun), and even though it comes with "hand leafed lettuce" and tomato. Even if they own no microwaves or freezers.

I went home and pulled together a meal that probably took less time than that drive through line would have taken. And it involved real, organic, fresh produce. And was absolutely delicious.

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with pesto, avocado, and tomato

If you have cheese, bread, and butter in the house, all you need to do is dress it up a little bit. It makes all the difference in the world.

Mine were stacked like this:

buttered bread
chive pesto (although basil pesto would be great too)
muenster cheese
more muenster cheese
buttered bread

You can really stack up anything you want... I would love to have it with bacon, fresh basil, roasted peppers, jalapenos, or even slices of pear. The trick is just to take some fresh veggies, some strong flavor to balance the cheese (like pesto or hummus), and to stack it up!

I placed one slice of bread on the griddle, then spread the pesto and layered the cheese. Once it started to melt a little bit, I place the other bread next to it, stacked up the other items on it, and then flipped the first bread and cheese on top. That way the bread was toasted and the cheese melted, but the tomato and avocado didn't get too warm and slimy.

I served it with some fresh fruit, and we were happily munching away within 15 minutes of walking in the front door. Which is good, because there was still homework to do...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Broiled Tomatoes with Asiago and Herbs

Know what my friend told me the other day? "Hey guess what?! You have a blog!" I had almost forgotten. Or so it may seem.

You see, though, we went out of town. And we cancelled the box for that week.

So there's that.

And then my camera battery ran out (you know, from taking millions of pictures of my cute kids while we were out of town.)

So there's that.

And I couldn't find the battery charger for a couple of days, because it went out of town with us, and somehow it came back home with us in the cupholder of my car. I know it makes no sense, but there it is.

So there'e that, too.

And then I finally did get the battery out of the car, charged, and plugged back into the camera. And I got the next box of produce the next week.  And then, about 2 hours later, I was hit with a nasty stomach bug and spent the weekend in bed.

So there's that on top of it all.

And then the dog ate my blog.

Okay, that's not true. But the rest of it is. And although it is just a list of excuses, they are real excuses, and so I can do nothing but work on the assignment and turn it in late and hope that you give me partial credit.

Anyway, what we did do in between all of the doing things wrong and making excuses for them, was to collect a whole bunch of tomatoes out of the garden. Oh my oh my. I am not much of one for pale, orange, mealy tomatoes that you get from the supermarket or at a restaurant. I am, however, quite smitten with fresh, juicy, red tomatoes that come right off of a vine and into my kitchen. Especially when you dress them up with warm melted cheese and crisp bread crumbs.

These particular tomatoes became the focus of our Meatless Monday dinner last week, just before the camera battery died. (ahem. Sorry for the horrible pictures. It was an unexpected death.) We ate them with a twice-baked potato casserole, and a salad. Again, it seems a tad like a dinner of side dishes, but it is working for me right now!

Broiled Asiago Tomatoes

5-6 tomatoes, sliced thickly
1/4 cup asiago cheese, grated
1/4 cup chopped fresh parlsey
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
salt and pepper

Slice the tomatoes and lay them in the bottom of a baking pan, overlapping if necessary.

Mix together the remaining ingredients, and sprinkle evenly over the tomatoes.

Turn the broiler on to high, and place the tomatoes on the oven rack closest to the broiler. Broil for only a few minutes, until the cheese is melted and the bread crumbs are toasted. (they can burn quickly, so watch closely!)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

spaghetti squash with tomato sauce and sausages

The very very fun Labor Day weekend came to a screeching halt.

Which is to say, rather, that real life came back in a rush. I feel like we went from zero to sixty in a matter of seconds.

Back to school, back to homework, and since I work at a preschool that starts the day after Labor Day, back to work for me.

That also means back to quick and easy weeknight dinners. Quick and easy weeknight dinners that feed the family straight from the Abundant Harvest box, of course. Quick and easy dinners that I forget to photograph, apparently. I got only one (pretty bad) shot of the preparing and eating of this meal, so you are going to have to imagine the rest.

Quick and easy dinners like spaghetti squash.

I don't have a real recipe for it. I just cook it, shred it, and serve it like I would serve regular spaghetti. My kids call it "short spaghetti," and although it has a little bit of crunch to it, the flavor is mild enough that it takes on the taste of the sauce, and really isn't a lot different than eating spaghetti. Since it is all vegetable (without a grain or dairy product in sight) I make sure to add meat of some sort in order to make it a bit more filling and lasting.

Here is how I prepare my spaghetti squash:

Preheat the oven to 400.

Cut the squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out all of the loose pulp and seeds.

Place squash, cut side down, in a pan filled with about an inch of water.

Bake for about half an hour.

When it is browning on the outside, and soft on the inside, it is done. Let it cool a little bit, until you can handle it, and then gently scrape out the squash with a fork. It will come out in little strings, just like spaghetti! You can do lots of things with it, but my favorite is just to serve it the way I serve spaghetti. But oh so much healthier.

I served it with the tomato sauce I canned a few weeks back, and some italian sausages leftover from grilling the night before.  If I don't have sausages on hand, I will add either browned turkey to the sauce, or meatballs. Easy Peasy dinner for a night when mama has to work, kids have karate, and homework is piling up!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Corn Fritter Stack

Meatless Monday took Labor Day off. Which is not to say that I ate meat. It is just to say that I didn't post anything about it.

I spent the whole weekend with my family at Bass Lake.

For those who aren't from California, (and for some of you who are but have never heard of Bass Lake), it is the best lake in the state. Or maybe the world, but I can't vouch for all the lakes of the world. Minnesota itself has 10,000 that I've never seen, for starters. It is located just south of Yosemite, right about here:

But Bass Lake is beautiful. The water is clean-ish (for a lake), the area is gorgeous, and the air and water temperatures make for tons and tons of hours spent tubing, swimming, floating, canoeing and kayaking.

But not cooking.

So, I don't have much to write about this minute. But I will tell you about these delicious corn fritters that I found on They should probably be served as a side dish or salad, but we ate them as the main course for our meatless Monday. Along with some potatoes and a green salad, maybe it wasn't the most conventional meal, but it sure made our bellies and our faces happy.

Corn Fritters

1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
corn cut from 3 grilled cobs
1 shallot, minced
oil, for coating the skillet
3 large tomatoes
1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
balsamic vinaigrette

Combine the flour and baking powder. Stir in the milk, egg, corn, and shallot.

Heat a skillet on a stove set at medium. When it is hot, coat it in oil. Drop the corn mixture in approximately 1/4 cup mounds, and flatten with a spatula to about 1/2 inch thick. Cook about 2-3 minutes, until it is getting dry around the edges and bubbles are forming. Turn, and continue to cook about a minute more, until it is cooked through.

To serve, stack corn fritters, slices of tomato, and basil leaves. Dress with a bit of vinaigrette.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Individual Potato Gratins

As you may or may not know, I often always have potatoes on hand. The good farmers over at Abundant Harvest Organics have figured out a way to harvest the potato every week of the year. Yep, there are 52 sets of potatoes every year for their customers to gnaw on  choke down  enjoy.

Don't get me wrong, I like the potato. I actually really really like the Abundant Harvest potatoes, since they actually taste like something as opposed to being a grainy starchy mouthful of ... grainy starch.

However, some weeks I feel overwhelmed by my big box of produce, and since the potato is one item that will last a little longer than some of the more tender produce, it is the first to be set aside. And then, the next week, I have an even larger pile of set-aside potatoes. And on and on...

But here is a recipe that is yummy! and easy! And takes almost no hands-on time. And very little measuring. And only a couple of ingredients. Phew. Ain't it amazing?

Not to mention the fact that they are just. so. cute.

Individual Potato Gratins
This recipe makes 6 individual gratins... but it can easily be multiplied to serve more.

butter (for muffin pan)
2-3 medium potatoes
Coarse salt and pepper
6 tablespoons heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Brush the inside of 6 muffin cups with butter. Thinly slice the potatoes. Place a couple of slices into each muffin cup, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Repeat with a couple of slices of potato and salt and pepper, until each cup is full. 

Pour one tablespoon of heavy cream over each stack of muffins.

Bake until potatoes are golden brown and easily pierced with a knife. (30-35 minutes).

Run a knife around each gratin to loosen it. Invert the muffin pan to release, and then turn each gratin upright to serve.