Sunday, August 2, 2009

Pizza (and much else) in Pennsylvannia

Harry, our 17 year old, towers over everyone in our family. Much to her frustration, when we order wine in restaurants, the waiters generally give him a wine glass, and not his sister, who is nearly 5 years older and a foot or so shorter.

Anyway, he is a counselor at a his sleepaway camp this summer, and on his day off this week we picked him up and spent the day with Irene and JF, friends who have a house not that far away from his camp in Pennsylvania. They have a magnificent vegetable garden which they love but also it is so much work that it sometimes seems like a cross for them to bear. (Note the photo of children of the corn above.) We spent a lot of the time stuffing ourselves, mostly with stuff from the garden. For snacks Irene made fried fennel and I did stuffed zucchini flowers (the recipes for these are below). JF them made homemade pizza of several varieties (plain Margherita, esp. for Harry whose taste for the exotic used to be very limited; one with pickled mushrooms, and another half pesto smoked mozzarella and zucchini and the other with ricotta, caramelized onions and sage). She was sort of in the flow or the zone, and didn't, or maybe couldn't stop to eat. The salads came straight from the garden to the table. One was a mixture of lettuces, herbs, and flowers -- pointless to give a recipe. The other I made from Tuscan kale -- recipe details below. Irene made homemade ice cream for dessert, which was so good that we skipped the obligatory stop at the Cow Palace when we brought Harry back to Camp.

Some recipes :

Fried Fennel

  1. Cut a large fennel bulb into slices lengthwise, sort of like cutlets.

  2. Dip into flour, beaten egg, and breadcrumbs.

  3. Fry in hot vegetable oil , nearly an inch deep, on both sides until brown and tender.

  4. Drain on paper towel, salt and serve with lemon wedges.
Even Harry, somewhat of a herbiphobe, devoured these.

Fried Zucchini Blossoms

  1. Make a flour and water batter, one part flour to one part water. The texture should be like that of melted ice cream.

  2. Unless they are pristinely clean (and coming from the garden they were not), soak in a large bowl of water, and swish around gently, to remove both dirt and uninvited guests.

  3. Remove from water and drain open side down, and pat dry well on toweling. It is also not a bad idea to let them air dry a bit, though we didn't bother.

  4. Stuff the blossoms -- I put a half teaspoon of a tapenade (that JF had made w sun dried tomatoes in the bottom), followed by a half teaspoon of ricotta -- the good Arthur Ave. stuff. You could also use diced mozzarella mixed with some chopped anchovy, but we had a vegetarian present.

  5. Dip the blossoms in the batter and place on a plate. Some of the batter will drip off and it doesn't matter.

  6. Fry in hot oil, turning, until brown.

  7. Drain on paper towels and salt. Eat as soon as possible, but be careful because sometimes there is hot oil in the cavity. It is worth the danger.

Raw Tuscan kale salad.

This was my slight adaptation of a recipe that appeared in the NYTimes 2 years ago, based on one served at Franny's in Brooklyn. Their recipe is at:

Mine is less aggressively garlicky, because rather than mashing garlic into the dressing, the bread conveys the garlic flavor into the salad. I think it is a bit easier and better and won't ruin whatever wine you happen to be drinking.

  1. Toast a slice or two of whole grain bread, and then let it dry out in the oven a bit. Rub with a clove or garlic, and then whirl in a blender or processor to make very coarse crumbs.

  2. Shred a good amount of Tuscan kale (lacinato).

  3. Put the kale in a salad bowl w the bread crumbs, a good amount of grated pecorino (I used almost a cup for about 1-2 quarts shredded greens, olive oil and lemon juice. Salt carefully, depending on the amount and saltiness of the cheese, and add some black pepper.

1 comment:

  1. Ok now Im perusing, and I like that you tried zucchini blossoms. Theyre so gorgeous, but kind of a scary proposition - I hate eating flowers. Im trying this next.