Thursday, July 27, 2017

Easy Local Summer Recipes! Part One

Blog:  Easy, Local Summer Recipes!

The Summer is flying by, isn’t it?  Unlike lots of folks, summer is a really busy time at our urban homestead.  Maintaining the gardens, canning, freezing, pickling and developing recipes using the incredible local bounty of our region keeps things hopping. And we are adjusting to the loss of our oldest fur kid, Stricia, and the arrival of our newest fur kid, Tiki.  Tiki is teaching us how to do the very best for a cat living with diabetes - including managing his diet.  Lots of challenges, expected and unexpected, have filled our days.  With all of that, we definitely wouldn’t want anything to be any different. Evenings splashing in our plunge pool;  Icy cocktails to end long days;  and lots of wonderful dishes to make and recipes to adapt and invent make for a wonderful summer season here at Il Moya.  

We have adapted and come up with some wonderful summer meals over the past weeks.  And, of course, these dishes incorporate our local, seasonal bounty.  How could they not?  I hope that you try some of these recipes.  It is still going to be seriously hot for awhile and eating “light in the heat; heavy in the cold” continues to be the way to go.  

Corn on the Cob Prep (Technique)

Respect that fabulous, fresh local corn that we are so lucky to have available to us!  These wonderful treats do not have to be boiled in a big pot for 10, 15 or more minutes!  They need just a short swim in salted boiling water to reach perfection.  
Clean the Corn:  Shuck the corn (Right before use. Please do not buy shucked corn!). Use a mushroom brush to get rid of any remaining “silk”.  
Cook the Corn:  Put the cleaned corn cobs in a large, sturdy stainless steel bowl.  Sprinkle some kosher salt over the corn and pour over - enough to cover - some boiling water (I use our electric kettle).  Put a towel or a lid over the bowl and set a timer for about 3 minutes - no more than 5 minutes.  
Eat the Corn:  Drain, butter and serve.  The corn will be perfectly done and perfectly delicious. 

Be Kind to Fabulous Corn

Crudo (Technique)

We are also blessed to have wonderful fish and seafood available to us.  In my opinion, when the weather is hot and you are looking for both a flavor bang and something cold, Crudo is the way to go. Think “Italian Sushi”.  Here I used fluke.  A white fleshed mild fish caught right off the Jersey shore.  Very fresh is the key, of course.
Preparation:  Slice the fluke very thinly.  Lay the slices out on a shallow plate and sprinkle slices with fresh lemon juice, a sprinkling of good extra virgin olive oil, and a scattering of sea salt.  Here, I topped the crudo with some thin slices of a smokey pepper from our garden - jalapeno peppers work very well too.  Serve with pita chips or by itself.  Crudo is wonderful with a cocktail or as an appetizer.  The type of fish or seafood you use is up to your imagination and what is at its peak of freshness,

Fluke Crudo
Summer Greens Lasagna (Recipe)

If you are like us and are growing greens like Swiss Chard, Mustard, Collards or any of the Kales, or if you just find that you can’t resist buying them at your local farmers markets, this recipe is for you.  It is so satisfying, delicious and not that difficult to put together.  The treatment of the mixed greens is what makes the dish - how could it not?  This recipe is enough for two with left overs.  If you just double the ingredients and use a larger baking dish, you have lasagna for a party!

One pound of mixed greens, roughly chopped - hold stems aside and chop them
1/2 medium onion, minced
2 small garlic cloves, minced
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups of heavy cream
2/3 cup creme fraiche (can substitute sour cream) - separate into 1/3 and 1/3
1/2 pound of fresh ricotta 
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Fresh Lasagna Sheets (see note *)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
Heat the olive oil over medium heat until you see a shimmer on the oil surface
Add the onions and garlic and the chopped stems -  season with salt and pepper 
Cook until the onions, garlic and stems are soft, about 5 minutes - avoid browning
Add the heavy cream to the onions, garlic, and stems and stir

Add a handful of chopped greens, stir and wilt the greens
Keep adding handfuls of chopped greens and let them wilt until all of the greens are in the cream mixture
Cook the mixture for about 10 minutes more
Season with additional salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat

Spread  1/3 cup of the creme fraiche evenly over the bottom of a 9 x 9 baking dish
Cover with a layer of 4 lasagna noodles - they can overlap a bit
With a slotted spoon, scoop a third of the greens mixture out of the cream and spread it over the lasagna noodles
Cover the greens with about 1/4 of the ricotta and a 1/4 of the grated parmesan - your amounts may vary a bit.  The idea is to get a nice but not too heavy coating of the cheeses over the greens.
Repeat with two more layers, ending with a layer of noodles on top.
Spoon the cream mixture over the lasagna - the cream is the liquid that will cook your fresh lasagna noodles and make this dish so luscious
Mix together the remaining parmesan and creme fraiche and spread it over the top
Cover the lasagna with foil and bake until bubbling and starting to brown. About 45 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake until the top is completely browned and the sauce is bubbling.  About 10 additional minutes.
Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

*Note:  This recipe uses fresh lasagna sheets that are not cooked ahead of time.  They will cook in the liquid of the dish.  I do not recommend “no cook”, boxed lasagna noodles. 

First Addition of Chopped Greens

Creme Fraiche or Sour Cream Spread on Baking Dish

Ready for the Oven

Out of the Oven and Ready to Serv

Next Time:  Stuffed Squash Blossoms, Mixed Berry Tart, Whipped Sweet Ricotta, Another Crudo, and Ideas for Eggplant

                                                                          EAT REAL FOOD!