Thursday, August 19, 2010

Rustic Plum Tart

Photo Credit:  R. Charles
Oh my, I don't know why my several attempts looked nothing like the pictures in the magazine.  I guess I used the wrong varieties of plums, even though I used firm, slightly ripe plums on my 2nd try.  The plums were just too juicy, and the juice leaked all over the place - not the cute little bubbly leaks of juice to give it a rustic feel like in the picture!!  But, it was a breeze to make, and the flavor was delicious - everyone enjoyed it.  I didn't attempt making my pie crust from scratch - had too much other cooking to do that day!

Adapted from Everyday Food Magazine, July/August 2006

1/2 (15-oz.) package refrigerated pie crust

1 1/2 lbs. red plums, quartered, pitted, and sliced 1/4" thick
1/2 c. sugar
1 T. all-purpose flour*
1 large egg yolk mixed with 1 T. water (egg wash)

Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, then parchment paper.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl, toss together plums, sugar, and flour.  Mound plum mixture in center of prepared crust, leaving a 2" border all around.  Fold border over fruit in a pleated pattern.  Brush dough with egg wash.

Bake tart until crust in brown and filling is bubbling, about 45 minutes.  Transfer baking sheet to a rack; let cool 20 minutes.  Slice and serve warm or at room temperature.

* I don't know what to suggest on the flour amount!!  I used 1/4 c. flour, but it was still too juicy!

Tomato-Mozzarella-Basil Rounds

Photo Credit - Melissa Binder
These are so simple that you won't need the recipe, but the flavor is out of this world!

Simply layer slices of mozzarella cheese, fresh tomatoes and fresh basil, then drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Or, if you have access to Chef Tim's Sweet Balsamic Vinaigrette, that's all you need.  I could live on these!

Photo Credit:  Melissa Binder

Parsley Pesto

Photo Credit:  Melissa Binder

I discovered this recipe last fall; I had tons of Italian parsley left in my garden and hated to see it go to waste. So, I looked up parsley recipes on line and found one for parsley pesto. I made a bunch of different variations, before I came up with the perfect recipe. Yum, YUM, YUM! It’s fabulous and freezes well.
(Adapted from the following link:

4 cups flat Italian parsley leaves, washed and drained *
½ cup pine nuts **
½ cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1/2 - 1 t. sea salt
pepper to taste

Process above ingredients in food processor until the pesto is smooth, scraping down sides as necessary. Add more oil as needed to get a smooth consistency.

Freezes well.

* Be sure to use Italian parsley – the flavor is much better.
**Walnuts are just as good – pine nuts aren’t worth the expense!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Cream of Zucchini Soup

This is surprisingly delicious!  It's always a hit, and catches people off guard.  Often, when I serve it for company, I don't reveal what it is until after they taste it.  I served it a few years ago for Christmas dinner when my nephew was just a little guy, and he asked for seconds.  :)  What I really like about this recipe is that it makes use of the summer's abundance of zucchini in a way that is truly helpful for winter dining.  You simply puree the sauted zucchini mixture and stick it in the freezer.  Then, when ready to serve, thaw and add the cream base.  Yellow squash is just as tasty; my zucchini plants kicked the bucket, so I used yellow squash this evening to make a batch.  Yum!!  (Healthier verison is noted in green.)

Source:  Melanie D.

3 c. peeled, diced zucchini (no need to peel)*
3 chicken bouillon cubes (omit)
1/2 c. water (chicken stock)
1 t. minced onion (1 tiny minced onion)
1 t. seasoned salt (1-1/2 t. sea salt)

Boil above ingredients until zucchini is soft.  Puree in blender; freeze if desired.

When ready to serve, remove zucchini puree from freezer and thaw (if frozen).

2 T. butter
2 T. flour
1/8 t. pepper
1/4 t. celery seed
2 c. milk, half & half or cream (raw milk cream)

In saucepan, melt butter.  Stir in flour and seasonings; cook until bubbly.  Slowly add milk or cream; stir until thickened.  Add zucchini mixture.  Heat thoroughly.

Update, 11/3/2011

I've been wanting to tweak this recipe to make it a bit healthier, and think I've succeeded.  The healthier version is noted in green font.

* Note: not peeling the zucchini gives it a stronger zucchini flavor and changes the color from a creamy shade with a tint of green to a much more dominant green shade, but I'm happy to endure that for the sake of the nutrients!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Zucchini Tomato Toss

This is so good (and colorful!) - I wouldn't eat raw zucchini any other way!
Source:  Adapted from Kristy Y.
4 c. thinly sliced zucchini
2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
1/4 c. sliced red onion
3/4 c. white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
2/3 c. olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 T. sugar
1 t. salt
2 T. (or more to taste) fresh basil, chopped or 1 t. dried basil
1/8 t. pepper
In a serving bowl, combine zucchini, tomatoes and onions.  Whisk remaining ingredients together and pour over zucchini mixture; toss gently to coat.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  Serve with a slotted spoon.
Yield:  8 servings

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tomato Bread Salad

One of my favorite ways to use up grape tomatoes!

Source:  Adapted from Kelley H.

1 loaf Italian bread, halved and toasted
1 c. extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 c. grape tomatoes, halved
1 cucumber, quartered lengthwise and chopped
1/2 c. fresh basil, torn
2 T. red wine vinegar

Tear bread into bite-sized pieced; place in a large serving bowl.  Drizzle 1/2 c. olive oil and season with salt & pepper.  Add tomatoes and cucumber to bread, tossing to combine.  Add basil, vinegar, and remaining 1/2 c. olive oil.  Toss and season with salt and pepper.