8.19.15 Tomato, Sweet Corn, and Feta Frittata

Today’s blog post is brought to you by, yes, you guessed it, more tomatoes. Okay, but not just tomatoes. Also, sweet corn, arugula, and a healthy dose of cheese. Or in other words, all of the best things.

When one has an overload of wonderful summer produce, as is most definitely the case in our household, sometimes you reach a point where you’re just not totally sure what to do with it all. This of course is one of the best problems to have. When this happens to me, I’m a fan of any recipe that is not only incredibly delicious when packed with all this summer bounty, but also adaptable enough that I can tailor it to use whatever I currently have residing in the fridge. Enter, the frittata.

The beauty of a frittata is that, not only does it meet all of my above criteria, but it’s one of the easiest things I can think of to make. Also, as someone who is never without eggs and cheese on hand, I’m always in a position where I can whip one of these up on a moment’s notice.

As you can see, this latest creation includes some ripe tomatoes, fresh sweet corn, peppery arugula, red onion, feta cheese and bacon because a.) these things are all delicious and b.) these are the ingredients that just happened to be sitting in our crisper, threatening to go bad if not immediately put to good use. Since it’s highly likely your vegetable surplus situation may not be identical to mine, it’s very easy to sub ingredients for what you have on hand, and simply use what I have here as a jumping off point. Regardless, you’re looking at one satisfying supper.

Tomato, Sweet Corn, and Feta Frittata

serves 4

  • 3 ears corn
  • 3 strips bacon, cut into small pieces
  • ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • ¾ tsp salt, divided
  • ¾ tsp pepper, divided
  • 4 oz arugula leaves
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
  • 6 eggs
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 3.5 oz feta cheese, crumbled
  • fresh chives
  • freshly ground black pepper

1. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and place the ears of corn on the baking sheet on the top rack of your oven. Heat broiler to high and let the corn cook for about 8-10 minutes, or until the kernels on the top side of the corn start to turn golden brown. Then, turn the ears of corn ½ turn to brown the other side, and cook an additional 5 minutes, or until the kernels on this side turn golden brown. Remove from the oven, cool slightly, then cut the kernels off of the cob.

2. Turn off broiler, place rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

3. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon pieces and cook until just beginning to crisp up, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, tomatoes, garlic, ¼ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper and continue cooking until vegetables are soft and no longer releasing liquid, about 10 minutes longer.

4. Add the basil and arugula and stir until arugula is just wilted, about 1-2 minutes. Remove pan from heat, make sure mixture is spread evenly along the bottom of the pan, and top evenly with the sweet corn kernels and crumbled feta cheese.

6. Whisk together the eggs, milk, and about ½ tsp each salt and pepper. Pour evenly over vegetables in pan.

7. Bake frittata for approximately 20 - 25 minutes, or until top is golden brown and puffed. Remove from the oven and top with a few tsps fresh chopped chives and a pinch or two of freshly ground black pepper. Cool slightly, then cut into wedges and serve.


8.14.15 Crispy Chicken Cutlets with Tomato Fennel Salad

I know, I know, we already talked this week about how awesome the tomato situation is right now. But the fact is, these tomatoes aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, and thank goodness for that. As a result, I find myself cooking up wonderful, tomato-centric dishes on a fairly regular basis these days. Things like this tomato and fennel salad, which as it turns out is the perfect accompaniment to some super crispy chicken.

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On the list of my current pregnancy related food cravings, fried chicken ranks pretty high (along with ice cream, blueberries, yogurt, cheese in pretty much any form, and V8 juice). However, as I’m sure you know if you’ve ever tried making your own, it’s rarely worth the trouble. True fried chicken, in my mind, is best left to professionals (although I keep trying to prove myself wrong on this).

Nonetheless, these breaded and pan-fried cutlets are a perfect alternative in my mind. Easy enough to put together and fry up, and of course, wonderfully satisfying. So while it may not be Harold’s, it still does a wonderful job of satisfying my cravings, and with the added bonus of not having to drive anywhere to get some. Also, try eating regular fried chicken with tomato salad - it’s nowhere near as good as this.

Crispy Chicken Cutlets with Tomato Fennel Salad

serves 2

Okay, you might end up with some extra tomato salad, but that’s hardly a problem. I’m sure you’ll find a use for it ( may I recommend topping a piece of warm naan with a slather of greek yogurt?). For an extra lovely presentation, I recommend using a variety of colors and sizes of tomatoes.

salad:

  • 1 lb tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup very thinly sliced fennel bulb
  • 1 Tbsp thinly sliced shallot
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh herbs (such as fennel greens, basil, parsley, or carrot greens, or a mix)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper

chicken:

  • 2 ¼-⅓ lb chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • ⅔ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup oil for frying
  • lemon wedges for serving

1. First, make the salad: Combine all of the salad ingredients in a bowl, and mix them together. Set aside for flavors to develop while you make the chicken.

2. Place chicken breasts in a heavy duty freezer bag, lay the bag on the counter, and use a large rolling pin to pound them to approximately ¼ inch in thickness (if you can’t get them that thin, it’s okay, your cutlets will just take a bit longer to cook).

3. Place the flour in a shallow dish or bowl. In a second bowl, whisk together the eggs and hot sauce until smooth. Place the panko breadcrumbs in a third shallow dish or bowl. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Season the chicken cutlets liberally on both sides with salt and pepper.

4. Take one chicken cutlet and dredge it in the flour until fully coated. Dip into the egg mixture, followed by the breadcrumbs, making sure that it gets fully coated with crumbs. Transfer to parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining cutlet.

5. Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat and once heated, place the cutlets in the pan and cook, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides (about 2-4 minutes per side). Once cooked, transfer cutlets to a plate lined with paper towels to sop up any excess grease.

7. Serve the cutlets hot, topped with copious amounts of tomato fennel salad, and a squeeze of fresh lemon.

8.11.15 Tomato and Smoked Cheddar Galette

There are a lot of great things about this time of year in Wisconsin: Beautiful (if somewhat unpredictable and at times unbearably humid) weather, plenty of exciting outdoor activities (not limited to outdoor concerts, boating, hiking, picnics, markets, and general wonderfulness), access to some of the best ice cream in the world (you know we’re taking serious advantage of this), and a serious abundance of ripe, summer tomatoes.

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Seriously though, I can’t get enough of these guys. I’m pretty much eating them as fast as I can, and in many different ways. While I absolutely love a humble caprese salad, or a simple tartine, or even eating my tomatoes straight up with just a sprinkle of sea salt and a dash of black pepper, sometimes, just sometimes, you have to take your tomatoes to the next level.

The next level, in my case, being this gloriously summery savory galette, chock full of ripe summer tomatoes, fresh herbs, and a semi-ridiculous amount of cheese. After all, weren’t tomatoes and cheese pretty much made to be together? This tasty tart is perfect for any summer meal, but tastes particularly wonderful when eaten in any sort of al fresco dining situation, be it picnics, porch suppers, or impromptu backyard brunches.

Also, in the interest of enjoying tomato season to its full, spectacular extent, here are some other Wisconsin from Scratch favorites to help you make the most of your tomato bounty:

Tomato and Smoked Cheddar Galette

serves about 4

  • 1 ¼ cup flour
  • 2 Tbsp cornmeal
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 6 Tbsp cold butter
  • 2 Tbsp ice water
  • 1 ½ cups grated smoked cheddar cheese
  • ⅓ cup cream cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped scallions
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1 Tbsp hot sauce
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large tomatoes, sliced into ¼” slices
  • 1 cup mixed cherry tomatoes, halved (or sub one additional large tomato, sliced)
  • 2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp fresh chopped chives

1. Make the crust: Combine the flour, cornmeal, and salt in a medium bowl, mixing until well combined. Cut the butter into very small pieces and mix in using your hands or two forks until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the water, and mix until a cohesive ball of dough is formed. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 20 minutes before working it further.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

3. Combine the grated cheddar, cream cheese, scallions, dill, hot sauce, and black pepper in a bowl until well mixed. Check seasoning and add any salt if needed (the smoked cheddar I used was plenty salty, but this can vary between different cheeses).

4. Remove dough from the fridge and roll out on a well-floured surface until you have a large circle approximately 12 inches in diameter. Transfer dough to your lined baking sheet.

5. Spread half of the cheese mixture evenly into the center of the dough circle, leaving about a 3 inch border around the edges. Top with half of the sliced tomatoes, followed by the remaining cheese mixture, and the remaining tomatoes. (If you’re using cherry tomatoes, I recommend layering these on the top layer, as it will look prettier).

6. Fold up the edges of the dough around the filling, and sprinkle the top evenly with the parmesan cheese. Bake at 375 degrees until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly, about 30 minutes.

7. Remove from oven, and sprinkle the evenly top with the fresh chopped chives and a couple of pinches of freshly ground black pepper. Cool slightly, then cut into slices and serve.

8.5.15 Mini Peach Almond Cakes + Introducing Wisconsin Whisk

You may recall a few months back when Vicky of Things I Made Today, Bowen of Bowen Appetit and I got together to make you this lovely dinner menu and announce that we had some exciting collaborative efforts in the works. As fellow food bloggers, we’d been getting together every few weeks to discuss the exciting world of food bloggery. We found our little get togethers to be such a good experience, we figured that creating this same sort of opportunity for the entire local food blog community would be even better. Not to mention, it would be really fun.

And so, after several more of our little get togethers, and a whole lot of planning, we’re excited to officially announce the formation of Wisconsin Whisk! Whisk is a culinary collective of food bloggers based here in Madison. Our goal is to build up a local food blogging community and introduce fellow bloggers to each other, as well as help to bridge connections between bloggers, local Wisconsin food producers, sponsors, and advertisers who are interested pursuing collaborative efforts. This means lots of fun opportunities to network with other local bloggers, and meet with local producers and sponsors to pursue potential collaboration. Sound exciting? Check out our website to learn more!

We’ve had a lot of fun planning Whisk and are so excited to be in our initial launch stage at last! We decided to celebrate, and we figured there was no better way to celebrate this time of year than with a backyard picnic. Vicky, Bowen, our intern Alice, and I got together with a picnic blanket, our trusty cameras, and our best picnic recipes; the result was one terrifically tasty al fresco dining situation. Here’s what was on the menu:

Summer picnics are the best, but on a hot day you’re definitely going to need a cool refreshing beverage. Luckily, Bowen had us covered with this delightfully refreshing cucumber and mint agua fresca. Click the photo below for the full recipe on Bowen Appetit.

For the main dish, Vicky packed some perfect fava bean falafel with a yogurt mint sauce and all the fixins. Click the photo below for the full recipe on Things I Made Today.

And finally, for dessert, we dined on these adorable mini peach almond cakes. Because honestly, what’s better than your own personal cake? From the light brown butter almond cake, to the almond paste center, to the tart-sweet peach and toasty almond topping, these mini cakes were the perfect finale to our delightful little picnic.

Mini Peach Almond Cakes

makes 12 mini cakes

  • ½ c butter (1 stick)
  • 1 ¾ cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 4 oz almond paste
  • 2 ripe peaches, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour a standard 12 cup muffin pan.

2. Brown butter: Heat butter gently in a pot over low heat until completely melted. Increase heat to medium, and continue to cook, stirring frequently to prevent burning. The butter is ready when it has a nutty/toasty smell and a deep brown color; about 7-8 minutes of cooking. More in-depth info on browning butter here. Remove browned butter from heat and set aside to cool slightly.

3. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

4. In a larger bowl, mix the brown butter, sugar, and brown sugar together until smooth. Stir in the eggs, followed by the yogurt and almond extract until everything is well combined. Fold in the flour mixture until fully incorporated.

5. Divide batter evenly between the 12 muffin wells.

6. Slice the almond paste into 12 equal pieces, shaping each into a small disk about ¾” in diameter. Press one almond paste disk into the center of each batter-filled muffin well (this will form a delicious almond-y core for each cake).

7. Top each cake with a couple of peach slices and about 1 tsp sliced almonds. Bake cakes until golden almonds on top are beginning to brown and cakes are puffed and golden, about 25 minutes.

8. Let cakes rest for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around each cake and pop out of the muffin pan. Cool cakes on a wire rack.

8.4.15 Roasted Carrots with Avocado Buttermilk Ranch

I don’t know about you guys, but in our house, we eat a lot of carrots. Carrots being a favorite food of both Forrest and weirdly enough, the dog, means that we rarely find ourselves without carrots in the house. Of course, this time of year, when carrots start to become readily available at the farmer’s market, our CSA, and in our backyard garden, we end up with quite a plethora of them.

And while there are many, many wonderful ways to eat carrots, in our household, one of the most popular methods of carrot consumption is simply eating them raw with copious amounts of ranch dressing. So simple, yet so wonderfully satisfying. However, the other weekend, when we picked up these most beautiful, sunset hued beauties at the farmer’s market, I knew they were destined for something slightly more elevated than your standard carrots and ranch. Only slightly though.

These carrots were definitely sizeable - to tame some of that copious crunch, and coax out a little extra sweetness, I roasted them with smoked paprika until just tender. And then came the ranch. I decided to stray slightly from the traditional ranch, opting for fresh herbs instead of dried (we have plenty of them growing in our garden after all), and subbing in a lovely, creamy avocado in place of your standard mayo base. The result is a beautifully green-hued version with lots of tang thanks to a healthy dose of cultured buttermilk. Carrots and dip, you’ve never looked better.

Roasted Carrots with Avocado Buttermilk Ranch

serves 3-4 as a side

carrots:

  • 1 lb carrots
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

ranch:

  • ⅓ cup cultured buttermilk
  • ½ large avocado
  • 2 Tbsp (loose packed) chopped fresh chives + more for topping
  • 2 Tbsp (loose packed) chopped fresh dill
  • 2 Tbsp (loose packed) chopped fresh parsley (or better yet, use carrot greens!)
  • 1 large garlic clove roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Toss carrots with olive oil, paprika, salt and pepper, until evenly coated. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast until just tender, about 30-35 minutes. (May be shorter or longer depending on how thick your carrots are).

3. While carrots roast, make the ranch. Combine all ranch ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Additional buttermilk can be added to achieve a thinner consistency if desired. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper as needed.

4. Serve carrots warm with plenty of ranch, and a sprinkling of chopped chives on top.

7.28.15 Roasted Sweet Cherry and Honey Ice Cream

Here’s the thing with me and ice cream - I absolutely love it. Like, LOVE. And considering the fact that I’m currently 5 months pregnant with some serious ice cream cravings, combined with the fact that it feels like it’s about a million degrees outside, I’ve been eating a lot of it lately. Enough that I’ve reached the point where I feel like maybe I should be trying my hand at making my own. And here’s where I run into problems.

You see, as much as I love the stuff, actually making my own has historically been a bit of a problem area. It never sets right, or it’s all lumpy, or it just ends up terrible in some other way. And in general, I figured, no big deal. I mean this is Wisconsin after all, and with all that dairy our great state is known for, we have access to some of the best ice cream around. But then, things happen. Like you want to make a flavor that doesn’t seem to already exist. You know, something to use up all of those amazing Door County sweet cherries I’ve been buying up at the markets like there’s no tomorrow.

So here I was, totally stuck. On the one hand, making my own ice cream seemed so not worth it. On the other hand, once the idea of a sweet cherry and honey ice cream popped into my head, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. What to do? After some research, I came across something so spectacularly perfect, it seemed almost too good to be true. All it required was whipping some cream, stirring in some sweetened condensed milk, and freezing until set. It couldn’t be easier! Of course, per my original craving, I had to throw in some roasted sweet cherries and honey for good measure. The result was fantastic - a perfect accompaniment to all the pie I decided to make last weekend.

Roasted Sweet Cherry and Honey Ice Cream

  • 3 cups sweet cherries, pitted
  • ½ cup honey, divided
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Toss pitted cherries with ¼ cup honey and place in a baking dish. (If you like smaller pieces, you can cut the cherries into halves; I ended up just leaving them whole). Roast cherries until they are soft and juicy, about 20-25 minutes. Mash them slightly with a fork, then set aside to cool.

3. Whip heavy cream until peaks form. Fold in the sweetened condensed milk, followed by the roasted cherries and the remaining ¼ cup of honey. Pour into a freezable container (a loaf pan works great for this), cover with plastic wrap, and freeze until set - at least 8 hours or overnight.

4. Once frozen, use an ice cream scoop to scoop out and enjoy!

7.21.15 Key Lime Pie Popsicles

Guys, its hot out there. And all this hot, muggy, summer weather means my trusty popsicle mold is once again getting a good workout. In the heat of last summer, I used it to make all manner of frozen creations, including some pretty fantastic boozy pops. This summer, the fact that I am currently in the process of growing a tiny human has put any boozy popsicles on hold, but I’ve still been having a great time freezing up some tasty summer treats.

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Case in point, this most recent batch of key lime pie pops. It’s hard for me to say no to key lime pie in any form, but frozen on a stick seems particularly appealing when the temps are skyrocketing. And I’m pleased to report that these pops taste just like the real deal, with the added benefit of not having to fire up your oven to bake it. Ice cold and refreshingly sour, it’s hard to imagine a more perfect summer cooler. Or an easier one. Truly, the hardest part about making these popsicles is the part where you have to wait for them to freeze. But it’s totally worth it. Trust me.

Key Lime Pie Popsicles

makes 10 popsicles

  • 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • ¾ cup plain greek yogurt
  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice (or even better, key lime juice!)
  • 2 graham crackers

1. Mix together the sweetened condensed milk, yogurt, water, and lime juice and pour into your popsicle mold. Cover and freeze for about 1 hour so they are just beginning to set, then insert the popsicle sticks (this will ensure popsicle sticks stick straight into the pops, rather than floating at an angle). Freeze until firm - I like to let these set at least 8 hours if you can wait that long.

2. Finely crush graham crackers (I find that the trusty ziploc bag and rolling pin method works great for this), and pour into a shallow dish.

3. Remove popsicle mold from freezer and run hot water over the bottom of the molds for 20-30 seconds to loosen pops. Remove pops from molds and roll in crushed graham crackers to coat. Popsicles can be served immediately or individually wrapped in parchment paper and stored in the freezer for several days.

7.17.15 Chickpea Tabbouleh with Carrot Greens

It’s been a week. Overall, a good week; a week packed with fun activities, including a trip to the Twin Cities for some quality time with friends, family, and a Twins game (who totally schooled the Tigers btw). But also, a week filled with overly hot, humid weather, and a bathroom remodel which has rendered our only shower completely unusable. Let’s just say, I’m most definitely looking forward to a nice relaxing weekend ahead with no plans.

And with the weather continuing to look like more high heat and humidity for the foreseeable future, I’m going to be making more things like this chickpea tabbouleh salad. I say making rather than cooking because this is the sort of recipe where no actual heat or cooking is required. Just some chopping and mixing. Perfect for these hot, lazy summer days.

Also, if your herb garden is looking anything like mine these days, you’d probably welcome a recipe that uses 2 ½ cups of fresh herbs (I mean, we can’t let them go to waste here). Fresh parsley and mint are traditional, but my latest CSA box included a bunch of carrots with the most beautiful carrot greens. Obviously, I had to use them for something. After making the majority of them into a refreshing, summery iced herbal tea (as is my traditional use for carrot greens), I decided to try something a little different and use some in lieu of parsley in this most delicious salad. Carrots being in the same family as parsley, the greens’ taste is similar, but just different enough to add an extra dimension of flavor. And subbing the bulgur wheat traditionally used in tabbouleh with chickpeas makes this version especially quick and easy to make. Need I say more?

Chickpea Tabbouleh with Carrot Greens

serves 6

Feel free to use less chickpeas in this recipe if you prefer a higher herb-to-chickpea ratio. As a pregnant lady who is hungry literally all of the time, I’m going for lots of protein here - hence so many of these lovely legumes - but a lighter, more herb-heavy salad would also be quite tasty!

  • 1 cup carrot greens, tough stems removed (or sub parsley)
  • 1 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • ½ cup fresh mint leaves
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, roughly chopped
  • juice from ½ lemon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 (15.5 oz) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup finely chopped tomato
  • 1 cup finely chopped persian or english cucumber
  • 2 tsp za’atar (optional)

1. Combine the carrot greens, parsley, mint, olive oil, shallot, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper in a food processor and pulse until mixture is finely chopped and well mixed, about 20-30 seconds.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the herb mixture, chickpeas, chopped tomato, chopped cucumber, and za’atar if using. Season to taste with additional salt as needed.