All posts tagged summer

  • roasted fennel and zucchini soup

    roasted fennel and zucchini soup

    Tired of zucchini yet? I’m not not ready to let go of summer vegetables yet, but I’m making batch after batch of soup as the temperatures begins to dip down. Heat, serve, and store back in the fridge — one of my favorite ways to eat. I love the gentle and sweet anise flavor of fennel, but I recommend going easy on the garlic here. Four cloves were added to this batch of soup, but I was initially tempted to toss in the entire bulb. I’m glad I didn’t, otherwise the fennel wouldn’t have had the opportunity to shine through. If your fennel includes stalks and fronds, save the fronds to make pesto. I added a little bit of of the pesto to the soup for garnish, but reserved the rest of it for pizza.

    As an aside, if you are visiting or live near Detroit, the Arab American Museum hosts a food walking tour of Dearborn. So bummed I didn’t know this tour existed until after I moved. Please eat everything ever from Shatila so I can live vicariously through your stomach.

    roasted fennel and zucchini soup 2

    Roasted Fennel and Zucchini Soup

    For the soup:

    4 medium sized zucchini, sliced in half
    2 fennel bulbs, cut in half
    1 cup new potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
    1 onion, cut into quarts
    4 cloves of garlic
    3 cups vegetable broth
    1 bay leaf
    freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
    salt and pepper, to taste

    For garnish (optional):

    a tablespoon of chopped nuts per bowl (hazelnuts or walnuts)
    fennel frond pesto
    drizzle of olive oil

    Fennel frond pesto (optional):
    2 cups fennel fronds
    2 cloves garlic
    1/4 cup pine nuts
    2 tablespoons lemon juice (add more to taste)
    salt and pepper, to taste
    1/3 cup olive oil

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, wash and prepare vegetables. Lay zucchini, fennel, potatoes, onion, and garlic on a pan. Use your hands to thoroughly coat the vegetables in olive oil. Sprinkle some salt and pepper and place in the oven. Roast for 35 minutes.

    While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the pesto (optional). Blend all the ingredients except for the oil in a food processor, scraping down the sides, processing again, and repeat until it’s formed a paste. With the machine running on low, slowly drizzle in the oil until the mixture transforms into a loose sauce. Scrape down the mixture in the food processor, as needed. Give the pesto a taste and adjust the amount of cheese, lemon, and salt to your liking.

    When the vegetables are ready, remove them from the oven and transfer them to a stock pot. Add vegetable broth and bay leaf. Bring to a boil over medium heat, lower the temperature and simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Remove bay leaf from the pot. Working in batches, blend the soup in a food processor or blender, or just use an immersion blender if you have one, until the soup is smooth. Return the soup back to the pot, then add the nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Season to taste, and serve. Garnish with some chopped up nuts, olive oil, and a small dollop of pesto.

    Serves about 6

  • zucchini and corn fritters with garlic yogurt sauce

    zucchini and corn fritters with garlic yogurt sauce

    We brought two suitcases with us to Portland to tide us over until the rest of our stuff arrived. They contained a hodgepodge of things beyond the usual essentials, a couple blankets and pillows since we slept on the floor the first few nights, toothpaste, cat-related stuff… bags of dried garlic chives, dill, rosemary, thyme, parsley, basil, dried peppers, and finally… 10 bulbs of garlic.

    The week before we left Michigan, we stayed with my dad. For me, that pretty much meant raiding his garden the whole week. I wanted to take as much of his garden as I could to Oregon with me, so I used his dehydrator to dry a year’s worth of peppers (jalapeno, habanero, serrano, and banana peppers) and various dried herbs that have mostly already been consumed. The night before we left, dad dug up all the garlic in his garden and told me to take all 10 bulbs with me. I LOVE garlic, but 10 bulbs? Really? I’ll never use all of it, I thought! Turns out, yes, I really do love garlic and can consume 10 bulbs in a month. The last two cloves from dad’s garden went into the sauce for these fritters.

    Zucchini has been a constant in my kitchen(s) this summer. Like a dutiful Midwesterner, I whipped up at least a dozen loaves of zucchini bread back in Michigan, but I’ve also been making zucchini soup, zucchini noodles, roasted zucchini, adding zucchini to salads, and zucchini fritters. Lately, all I want to use zucchini for is fritters. Most of the time, I only put the smallest amount of effort into breakfast and fritters are basically savory pancakes. Fried on each side until golden brown, packed with feta and herbs, and topped with tangy garlic yogurt, it’s pure heaven for me.

    Notes: Sour cream would be a good substitute if you don’t have any yogurt on hand. Feel free to make this without corn, but be sure to add another zucchini.

    Zucchini and Corn Fritters with Garlic Yogurt Sauce

    For the fritters:
    3 medium sized zucchinis, grated
    1 cup corn
    1 cup flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    2 eggs
    1/4 cup crumbled feta
    1/4 cup fresh herbs (parsley, dill, whatever you like), chopped
    oil for frying (I used peanut oil)

    For the sauce:

    1/2 cup plain and full fat yogurt
    2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
    salt & pepper, to taste

    Shred zucchini with a grater or give it a few whirls in your food processor. Transfer zucchini to a colander placed in the sink, sprinkle with salt, and let it drain for 10-30 minutes, occasionally squeezing out excess water.

    Prepare the sauce by mixing together yogurt, chopped garlic, and salt. Set aside.

    In the meantime, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Shuck the corn from the cob or measure out 1 cup of frozen corn. Mix together flour and baking soda in a bowl. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until smooth, add the feta, dill, and parsley, salt, pepper, and corn.

    Return to the colander and squeeze out water from the zucchini one more time, then transfer to the bowl with the egg mixture and mix thoroughly. In small batches, fold in the flour and baking soda mixture until just mixed.

    In a large non-stick skillet, add a generous amount of oil over medium heat. When hot, scoop 1/4 cup of mixture and place in the skillet. Cook as many fritters in one batch as you can, but left a couple inches between each one. Flip when golden on one side, this should take 3-4 minutes. Cook on the other side, for another 3 or 4 minutes. Transfer fritters to a large paper towel-lined plate. Repeat until the mixture is gone.

    Serve hot and enjoy with the yogurt sauce.

    Makes about 8 fritters

  • karkady / egyptian hibiscus tea / كركديه

    karkady egyptian hibiscus tea karkade

    The first time I had karkady was in Cairo in 2006. Ramadan was in full swing and the October heat was relentless. My roommate and I were in a taxi on our way to al-Husayn Mosque, which we would visit a few times a week. She would go to the mosque to pray, then we’d hit up nearby Khan al-Khalili to shop for giant gaudy earrings and eat tameyya sandwiches. On the last stretch of the trip, the call to prayer rippled through the city. It was iftar — time to break the day’s fast. Drivers had a new sense of urgency, most pedestrians vanished from the street to fill their bellies, and our cab driver broke his fast with a cigarette.

    As our taxi inched forward in bumper to bumper traffic, I noticed a man going from car to car and handing people bags with some sort of deep red liquid. When he got to our taxi, he handed me a bag and said something I didn’t understand. I had just enough time to thank him, but not enough to ask him what it was before he went on his merry way. I asked the cab driver if he knew what the drink was and he said, “karkady”. Well, OK! I didn’t know what that was but when a jovial toothless man hands you mystery drink in a plastic bag, what do you do? My roommate wasn’t interested, so I drank it in the most graceful way one can drink from a plastic bag (which is not at all).

    As a fan of all things sour, it was love at first sip. Sweet but not overly so, with a tart flavor reminiscent of cranberry juice. After doing some investigating later on (aka googling), I learned karkady was made from made an infusion of hibiscus flowers. Serve it cold in the hot months and hot when fighting off those winter shivers. It wasn’t for another few years after leaving Egypt that I would revisit karkady, but now you’ll find a pitcher (or bottle) of it in my fridge about once a month.

    To make karkady, you need dried red hibiscus flowers, which can be found at Middle Eastern and Latin American groceries (look for Flor de Jamaica), tea shops, and the bustling spice markets of Cairo. If none are available in your neck of the woods, there’s always Amazon, the Wal*Mart of the internet.

    Unrelated, but here are some things I’ve been cooking lately:

    Pulled Pork – I made about 5 pounds of pulled pork for Father’s Day. It had been so long since I cooked several pounds of pork that and I overcooked it a little bit, sadly. Dad came down for a visit and we feasted on pulled pork sandwiches and potato salad. I sent dad home with a big container of meat, then Cory and I used the remaining pork for sandwiches and tacos.

    Black Bean, Cilantro and Apricot Salad – When we ran out of pulled pork, we still had several corn tortillas. I made a mango and black bean salad based off an apricot and black bean salad from the taste space. The recipe has been a regular in our kitchen for about 3 years now.

    Quick Pickled Onions – from the Kitchn. I’ve quick pickled (and consumed) 4 jars of carrots in the last month and now I’m onto onions for salads and sandwiches.

    Falafels – The last of my chickpeas are currently soaking as I type this. Falafels served over a bed of lettuce will be tomorrow’s dinner. Maybe I’ll buy more chickpeas before we move, but first I have to go through a pound of pinto beans, cranberry beans, and great northern beans. Anyone have any ideas what to do with those?

    Tahini – ok, I haven’t made this yet. But I’m making it tomorrow! Again, from The Kitchn. I’ve never made tahini from scratch before, but I have a lot of sesame seeds I’ve been meaning to use up. I’m knee deep in Operation: Clear Out the Pantry.

    Zucchini – zucchini everything. Chopped up raw and in salads, zucchini noodles, zucchini soups, and mastering mom’s zucchini bread.

    Corn – with everything. Mostly corn on the cob, sometimes soup, and I made a corn, basil, and pesto pizza on Friday.

    Popsicles – currently, mango lassi popsicles. But I’m really craving Vietnamese iced coffee and I think they’d make for some delicious popsicles.

    Now, on with the show.

    Karkady / Egyptian Hibiscus Drink

    3/4 cup hibiscus petals
    8 cups water
    sugar, to taste (I recommend starting with 1/4 cup and taste testing from there)

    Optional:
    dried orange peel
    grated ginger
    a few squeezes of lime or lemon
    a cinnamon stick

    In a large pot, add hibiscus petals and water (add orange peel, ginger, and/or cinnamon stick, if using) and bring to a gentle boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Stir in sugar and give the drink a taste test and add more sugar, if necessary. You can skip this part, but I usually cover the pot and let it steep for another 1-3 hours. If adding lime or lemon, squeeze a bit of juice in and stir. Strain the mixture into a pitcher, discard the petals, and refrigerate the drink for several hours.

    Serves 8-10

  • curried chicken salad

    curried chicken salad with sprouts and pickled carrots

    A couple weeks ago, I went on a mission to procure the smallest jar of mayonnaise I could find. Why bother buying a big jar I’ll never finish before moving? Turns out, want to eat every and anything related mayonnaise related. I’ve been whipping up tons of egg salad, loading up on mayonnaise whenever I make sandwiches, have a strong hankering for salad olivieh (Persian potato salad) that I can’t seem to shake, and I recently made a giant batch of this curried chicken salad. Looks like I’m going to need more mayonnaise. And lots of it.

    This recipe originally hails from Cooking With Trader Joe’s cookbook. The cookbook got a lot of lovin’ from me, but was either sold or donated before we left San Francisco, so I’m not sure how closely this recipe matches the original. Sweet and savory with a nice crunch from the radishes, it’s an ideal summer lunch. I used chicken breast here, but feel free to use thighs or cut down on cooking time with a cooked rotisserie chicken. Eat as is, or serve in a wrap with lettuce or spouts and some pickles.

    Curried Chicken Salad
    (inspired by Cooking With Trader Joe’s)

    For the salad:
    2 pounds chicken, cooked and diced into bite-sized pieces
    2 cups red seedless grapes
    1/2 cup cashews, chopped
    1 cup red onion, chopped
    1 cup radishes, chopped
    2 tablespoons curry powder
    salt & pepper, to taste
    cayenne pepper, to taste
    1 cup mayonnaise
    1 tablespoon hot mustard
    1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
    2 tablespoons of water

    For the wraps:
    10 flat or pita breads
    3-4 cups of sprouts and/or lettuce
    pickles

    Prepare chicken depending on the type of cut. Once cooked or if using a rotisserie chicken, dig in and dice and shred to your liking. Toss the chicken in a giant bowl and add the grapes, cashews, red onion, radishes, curry powder, salt, pepper, cayenne, mayonnaise, mustard, cilantro and mix thoroughly. If the mixture is looking too thick, add about two tablespoons and mix again. Give the mixture a taste test and add some more salt and pepper if necessary.

    Tastes best at room temperature, but can be served warm or cold.

    If using in a wrap, toss a handful lettuce over the pita, pickles, top off with the curried chicken salad, wrap, and serve.

    Makes 10 wraps

  • vanilla fig popsicles

    I’ve missed figs. Summer came and went with no trace of them and I thought the same would happen this year. Recently, when stocking up on frozen fruit at Trader Joe’s I discovered…

    whole green figs from trader joes

    Figs! Precious figs! Frozen, but FIGS! The mission figs we’d buy in San Francisco would often be so ripe that one of us would have to carry them by hand on the way home, lest they’d burst open within a bag. They would have to be eaten in just a couple days, though that never seemed to be a problem for us.

    During a recent mini-heat wave, I’d pop a couple of these in my mouth to temporarily stay cool, but I ultimately wanted to incorporate them into a frozen treat. Popsicles, of course! They were a staple of our diet last summer and I suspect things won’t change much this year. However, by the time I got around to making some popsicles out of these guys, it was cold again. Oh well. Practice for summer, right?

    fig vanilla popsicles

    The amount needed for the popsicles depends on the size of your molds. I use these molds from Tovolo and they are fine and dandy. The popsicles are plenty sweet from the figs and the addition of yogurt lends a nice tanginess. Before adding the mixture to your molds, I recommend giving them a taste test. If it’s not sweet enough for you, drop in a tablespoon of honey and give your blender a good pulse.

    Vanilla Fig Popsicles

    1 bag of Trader Joe’s whole green figs, minus 4 (I ate those four!)
    1 1/4 cups milk of your choice (I used full fat cow’s milk)
    1/4 cup plain yogurt
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 tablespoon honey (optional)

    Add figs, milk, yogurt, and vanilla extract to a blender and blend until smooth. Give the mixture a taste test. If not sweet enough for you, add a tablespoon of honey and blend again for a few seconds. Transfer the mixture into popsicle molds and freeze for at least five hours. Once frozen, run the popsicles under warm water for about 30 seconds and gently remove the molds. Serve and enjoy!

    Makes 6 popsicles