Zucchini and Feta Fritters

This was our first foray into fritters, and we felt they turned out fairly well.  If you’re not familiar with them, fritters are basically flattened little patties held together with egg and flour and flavored with various main ingredients (depending on the type of fritter) such as corn, apple or, in this case, zucchini.  Adding feta cheese, dill and green onions gives a little flair to the fritter flavor with a bit of tang and bite.  Fast, easy to make and relatively healthy, zucchini fritters are a fun, filling, meat-free alternative main course — especially in summer, when you might be feeling like having lighter fare than you would during the more frigid months of the year.

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Friday Favorites

Some food-related (mostly) things we enjoyed this past week:

 

H Mart is a giant Asian grocery store that defies description.  The produce section alone is overwhelming, with bins and bins of exotic fruits and vegetables.  There are rows and rows of all different types of kimchi (one of Dan’s favorite things) and pickled stuff.  Aisles and aisles of noodles and rices.  Tons and tons of fresh seafood and various kinds and cuts of meats.  Cases and cases of frozen food items.  Shopping at H Mart is an experience, even if you don’t end up buying anything.

We made our own (healthier) version of a favorite fast-food breakfast:  toasted whole wheat muffin with browned slices of Canadian bacon, melted cheddar cheese and a fried egg with slightly runny yolk.  Ronald McDonald’s got nothing on us.

We always love finding excellent, new (to us) restaurants, especially Tex-Mex places.  After just one visit, Lazaranda Mexican Seafood Grill has officially been added to our restaurant rotation.  The menu is extensive and everything we tried was delicious.  Most importantly, Lazaranda exceeded our Tex-Mex expectations of the perfect margarita and awesome guacamole.

We enjoyed a post-dinner evening swim last week and wondered why we’ve never done so before.  Floating around the pool and watching the moon come up was a great way to end the day.

Best jambalaya ever, with smoked turkey and andouille sausage.  We both had seconds and might have had thirds if we didn’t want to save some for lunches later in the week (when it was even better than the first night!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asian Green Beans

We have a few go-to Asian recipes in our weekly menu rotation (Korean Chicken and Asian Pork Tenderloin for example), but sometimes struggle to find a good veggie side to round out an Asian meal.  Sauteed snow peas are good, but get pretty boring after the fifth or sixth time you serve them.  We were excited to try this recipe, which kicks up plain old green beans with Asian flavor subtle enough to complement the main course without overpowering it.  What makes these beans so good is the sauce (of sorts) made with green onions, garlic, ginger, sesame oil and oyster sauce.  Add some sliced roasted red pepper and garnish with toasted sesame seeds and scallions, and the green beans are anything but boring.  Come to think of it, these same ingredients could take the snow pea to a whole new level as well.

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Pasta Caprese

If you’re like us and have a bounty of tomatoes and basil from your garden (or your local farmer’s market), this is the perfect meal to take advantage of these summer staples.  And the recipe, from America’s Test Kitchen, is as easy as the Italian island of Capri (the supposed birthplace of the caprese salad) is beautiful.  It’s so easy that it barely even constitutes a “recipe” in the strict sense of measured ingredients and detailed instructions.  The most important take-away from the recipe is the technique of freezing the mozzarella cheese before adding it to the hot cooked pasta to keep the cheese from melting into a gooey mess.  The rest is simple:  whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, a shallot and salt & pepper for the dressing and marinate the tomatoes in it; boil the pasta; combine the pasta, mozzarella and tomatoes; then add the basil just before serving.  The flavor combination of vine-ripe tomatoes, creamy mozzarella and homegrown basil is as fresh as it gets.  Adding al dente pasta provides a hearty texture and elevates a simple side salad into an ideal summer main course.

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Weekly Menu (July 21)


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Saturday

  • Smoked Turkey & Sausage Jambalaya, Sauteed Zucchini & Squash

Sunday

  • Pizza Night

Monday  

  • Herb-Roasted Fish, Lemon Pasta w/ Tomatoes

Tuesday

  • Take-Out

Wednesday 

  • Pulled Pork Tostadas, Mexican Rice

Thursday

  • Breaded Pork Chops w/ Arugula Salad

Friday

  • Dinner Out

Friday Favorites

Some food-related (mostly) things we enjoyed this past week:

Our local Central Market offers the “Sip and Shop” feature where shoppers can purchase a glass of wine or a beer to sip while — you guessed it — shopping.  We don’t always sip and shop, but when we do, it turns the sometimes tedious chore of grocery shopping into an enjoyable afternoon outing.

With so many yummy fruits currently in season (see also, cheap), we were inspired to try grilling some of the bounty and making a salad out of it.  We grilled pineapple, apricots, peaches and grapes, then tossed the grilled fruit with crumbled goat cheese and a finely chopped jalapeno and drizzled all of it with a white balsamic vinegar reduction.  Summer on a plate.  We’ll post about it soon, but a couple of tips we learned are to use barely-ripe fruit (over-ripe fruit may get mushy) and if you grill grapes longer than a couple of minutes, their skins disappear.

Back when we participated in the Charcutepalooza “Year of Meat,” we discovered the perfection that is duck confit.  Knowing we still had some duck legs in our freezer, Dan had a craving but decided to prepare the confit a little differently this time.  He dusted off his sous vide machine, filled it with water, set it to 178 degrees, then cooked the cured duck legs in a vacuum-sealed bag in the machine for 10 hours.  Then all we had to do was pop the duck in the oven for about 15-20 minutes and pair it with a salad and a poached egg for an amazing weeknight meal.

Because we don’t already have enough kitchen gadgets and we enjoy a sparkling beverage on occasion, we recently purchased a Sodastream.  We’re pretty happy with it — it doesn’t take up much space and you can create your own club soda with varying levels of bubbly-ness.

Our cucumber plant is not quite done yet!  We thought it was a goner once the temps started regularly reaching high 90s and 100s, but it has hung in there and even has multiple flowers, some of which will hopefully turn into little cucumbers for pickling.

Chicken with Sherry Vinegar

One of Dan’s oldest (but still younger than him!) and dearest friends bought him the cookbook “French Classics Made Easy,” in honor of his birthday and our of-a-lifetime trip to Paris.  (Thanks Carrie!)  She’s the kind of friend who never forgets a birthday and always makes you feel like the funniest person in the room (even though she actually is the most funny person in the room at any given time.)  This chicken dish — “poulet au vinaigre de xérès” — is the first recipe we’ve tried from the book, but it certainly won’t be the last.  Not only was it easy to make with simple ingredients — chicken thighs, butter, olive oil, onion, sherry vinegar, shallots, garlic, white wine, tomato paste, parsley and salt & pepper — but it genuinely tasted like a classic French dish, with rich, complex and buttery flavors.  This dish evokes the same qualities as a good, lasting friendship — satisfying and familiar, yet memorable and significant — all with minimal effort.

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Zucchini Slaw

Summer is here and vegetables such as zucchini and squash are in season.  Summer is also a time when we try to cook more meals and side dishes that require little, if any, use of the oven, stove or grill.  It’s hot here in the summer, is what I’m saying.  So the less slaving over hot cooking methods, the better.  Coleslaw is a good cold side dish and we’ve tried several different varieties (including celery and hot & sour), so we were intrigued by this recipe, which uses zucchini and squash instead of cabbage.  Other ingredients include carrots, green onions, red bell pepper and parsley, as well as white vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes for the dressing.  Although we adapted the dressing recipe a bit to make it more suitable to our tastes (less sweet), we liked how easy it was to make, and that it’s an interesting take on traditional slaw and unusual use of zucchini and squash (raw instead of cooked.)  Most refreshing of all, it’s a lightly tangy and spicy side dish that requires zero heat to prepare.

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Weekly Menu (July 14)

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Saturday

  • Spicy BBQ Chicken Thighs, Zucchini Slaw, Grilled Fruit Salad

Sunday

  • Teriyaki Lamb Shoulder Chops, Spicy Okra

Monday  

  • Japanese Pork & Ramen Soup (slow-cooker), Egg Rolls

Tuesday

  • Sous Vide Duck Confit, Spring Mix Salad w/ Poached Eggs

Wednesday 

  • Take-Out

Thursday

  • Fresh Pasta w/ Red Sauce, Caprese Salad

Friday

  • Dinner Out