Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Summer Corn Salad with Smoked Ricotta Dressing

A couple summers ago, I discovered the "Best Corn on the Cob Tip Ever" and I must admit, it is rather life-changing.

For those of you who need a reminder, here you go:

1) Put two unhusked ears of corn in the microwave for 6-8 minutes, depending on microwave.
2) Remove the corn from microwave and cut off the bottom part of each ear (about a 1/2 inch or so).
3) Hold the ear at the top of its husk and give it a little shake. The corn should slide out easily.
4) Alternatively, cut about 1 inch off of both ends of the cooked corn and peel off the husk.
4) Add butter and salt, and enjoy!

I had some gorgeous local vegetables, including some bi-color corn in my recent organic box delivery and while buttery, salty corn on the cob is a delight in itself, I decided to use my summer bounty to make a tasty salad.
So, I prepped the corn per the above trick and let it cool. Then I sliced the corn off the cobs into a large bowl. After the corn went some gorgeous cherry tomatoes, which I cut into quarters, some sliced zucchini, and some minced cilantro. For the dressing, I whisked together some lime juice, olive oil and a bit of smoked ricotta, along with a pinch of chili powder and smoked sea salt.

I tossed the veggies and the dressing and adjusted the seasonings. The salad was absolutely delicious -- like having summer on a plate! It would also be great as a topping on tacos, or in a salad with avocado, grilled chicken/shrimp and greens. So good!
I can't wait to make this again.
This is my favorite time of year to cook/eat! Hooray for August!


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Yay Summer! Squash Blossoms

The first time I can remember eating squash blossoms was about five years ago. Chris and I were vacationing in Savannah, Georgia, and had dinner at The Olde Pink House. The flowers were in one of the salad appetizers we chose, and they were lightly fried and stuffed with a creamy filling. I don't remember what else was in the dish, but I do remember those little blossoms of bliss. Yum.

Since then, I've had squash blossoms numerous times. (Whenever I see them on the menu, I get them.) But, I've never made them myself . . . until now!
I saw them during my last grocery run and couldn't pass them up. So, I brought them home and got to work. The packaging said they were already washed, but I gave them a light cleaning anyway. Then, I carefully opened each blossom and used a tiny spoon to stuff them with a mixture of smoked ricotta, Greek yogurt, shredded mozzarella, and minced fresh basil and parsley. (Note: Some fancy folks say you should remove the outer stems and the pistils and stamens from the inside, but they are perfectly edible, so why mess with something already so delicate? I left them as is, and all was perfectly delicious.)
I gently twisted the petals back together into a tight little bundle of goodness. Then, I filled a baking dish with Panko bread crumbs, garlic powder, paprika, smoked sea salt, and more herbs. In another dish, I lightly whisked an egg. I rolled each blossom carefully in the egg and then into the coating, until they were all covered.  After the breadcrumb bath, they went onto a greased baking pan and into a 400 degree preheated oven to bake until they were golden brown and crispy (about 10-15 minutes), turning only once.
When they were done, I heated a bowl of homemade pizza sauce for dipping and Chris and I headed out to the patio with the blossoms and a bottle of red wine. The blossoms were crunchy and creamy, salty and smoky. So good! 

Summer rocks.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Most Important Ingredient

Someone recently asked me what I would choose as the most important ingredient in any recipe.

For me, it's the one thing that makes everything taste less bland or bitter. When you add it, even a "boring" dish tastes like magic.

So, is it butter? Nope. Sea Salt? Nada. Dark Chocolate? No. 
Photo from moviefone.com

That's the most important ingredient. 

Always make room for it in your cooking and in your life.