Tempura (天ぷら ) Shrimp & Vegetables With A Honey-Fig Reduction


I love the use of tempura batter because it’s lite and allows the flavor of what you coat  it with shine thru quite well… while still giving you the  taste of a very wonderful batter. The simplicity of this dish certainly shines. Tempura a Japanese method of frying seafood and/or vegetables that have been battered.  I only wanted a lite coating of the batter, as I did not want to obscure the texture and flavor of the vegetables — nor  of my fresh from the Gulf of Florida shrimp.  I prefer that you’re able to actually see what the batter is coating.

The squash blossoms were stuffed with a lovely Herb honey goat cheese mixture featuring  rosemary, thyme, marinated red cherry pepper, marinated artichoke, a little salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Simply Sublime

Yellow summer squash and sliced zucchini

I began with a very beautiful plate of fresh shrimp straight from the Florida Gulf. The aroma is amazing

Summer squash, blossoms, thyme, and rosemary from my garden

Peeled, deveined, and cleaned the shrimp, leaving the tails intact. To stretch the shrimp out flat, make a small cut on the underside and simply straighten them out

Allowed the shrimp to marinate in Saki for 30 minutes

After removing from the Saki bath, I sprinkled them with a little cornstarch, which aids in giving a nice crisp texture. The tempura batter was made by mixing 2 beaten egg yolks, 2 cups of ice water, and 2 cups of sifted flour

Save the shrimp shells for later use in making a wonderful seafood stock. I placed them in a ziplock bag and into the freezer they went.

Over medium flame, heat…in a medium pot (or deep fryer), 4 inches of oil (Canola or peanut) to 350 F. Fry the shrimp in batches for 2 to 3 minutes until golden. Do likewise with the vegetables

The texture was exactly what I was looking for. I wanted to see the shrimp and squash through the batter. The flavor was amazing. I also fried (with no batter) red pepper rings, grape tomatoes, and sliced jalapeño peppers, garnished with fresh rosemary and thyme

The Honey-Fig reduction really balanced the dish out nicely and was a nice complement to the Honey Herb goat cheese stuffing in the squash blossoms.

A great wine pairing would be a nice crisp Pinot Grigio or Sweet White Blend

Tempura (天ぷら ) Shrimp & Vegetables With A Honey-Fig Reduction

For dessert…

Grilled Pears with a Honey Yogurt Sauce with dried cranberries, walnuts, goat cheese

Bon Appétit Logo

Zucchini Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms, Zucchini Casserole, And Grilled Lamb Kofta

Those zucchini from my “Z” box were piling up a tad, so I decided to make one of my most favorite summer dishes–Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms–yet again. However, I was torn between that and Zucchini and Summer Yellow Squash Casserole. Well, there’s always a way to work it on out. I figured, why not make the zucchini casserole, then prepare the zucchini blossoms, and  stuff the zucchini blossoms with more zucchini from the zucchini and squash casserole! Sounded like a great idea to me. Then  I’ll serve the zucchini stuffed zucchini blossoms over a nice bed of  zucchini ribbons . Add a nice mellow sweet pepper sauce, and garnish with zucchini confetti. Did I say zucchini enough for you?  I thought so. Believe me, it was a delightful dish.

Zucchini blossoms stuffed with zucchini casserole. Go on, click the photo…see it larger

Served over ribbons of zucchini, garnished with yellow summer squash and zucchini confetti with sweet yellow pepper sauce–A tasty  balance of delicate flavors. For the sauce, I simply blended some (jarred) roasted sweet peppers with a little oil, cream, salt and pepper to a desired consistency, with a touch of powdered sugar

A summer favorite by far

Grilled Lamb Kofta with a creamy mint sauce over cous cous, to round the meal out.

For the Casserole:

4 pounds of yellow summer squash and zucchini mix

1 medium onion, chopped

1 Tbsp chopped red onion

1 Tbsp unsalted butter

3 cloves of minced garlic

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup sour cream

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 to 1 cup Panko or regular bread crumbs (I used Panko)

3 eggs

1/2 of grated Parmesan cheese–this is optional. I did not use it this time.

1 tsp fresh thyme

Slicing the cleaned and trimmed zucchini, chopping onions and garlic

I heated the olive oil and sauteed the onions until tender, then added the garlic and continued to cook until it released its fragrance. Next went in the zucchini and squash–continue to cook, mixing gently, until the squash is tender

The  cooked squash was added to a buttered baking  9 x 13 baking dish, then sprinkle over with the fresh thyme. The eggs, whipping cream, and sour cream was whisked together then poured over the squash and carefully mixed.

Topped with a few extra slices of yellow squash and zucchini that I had left over. This went into a 350 F preheated oven and baked for 30 minutes, topped with bread crumbs and baked until they were lightly browned, about 15 to 20 minutes more.  Now into that oven!

Out of the oven, garnished with a  fresh lemon thyme sprig

Deliciousness

Stuffed the casserole into the squash blossoms, then floured, dipped into an egg wash, rolled in Panko bread crumbs and fried until golder

I had also made falafel, and if you know me, then you know I absolutely love falafel. So, I stuffed a few more blossoms with falafel and cooked the same as the others. Delicious!!!

Threw the lamb on the grill

Ahhh, the smell of lamb is filling the air

Falafel Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

Did I leave out the salad. Well how about a simple saute of zucchini and summer yellow squash in a little olive oil with red onions

Zucchini & Squash Stuffed Zucchini on a bed of zucchini ribbons, garnished with zucchini and squash confetti

Yes, zucchini was definitely highlighted in this dish. Zucchini Love, what more can I say?

Pan Seared Salmon With Poblano Dressing; Zucchini And Mushroom Risotto

Salmon is one of those ‘meaty and hearty’ fish that not only has a wonderful flavor, but is packed with Omega 3 fatty acids to aid in a heart healthy diet. I find the taste so versatile in that you can use a variety of sauces with it and have an entirely different dish and never get tired of the salmon itself as you vary the cooking method.  It can be broiled, grilled, sauteed,  smoked, etc., and in each instance a wonderfully different taste and flavor is imparted. A versatile fish indeed. Today, I just did a quick pan sear or saute if you will. The salmon was very moist, tender and delicious.  

The salmon was seasoned with a little salt and cracked black pepper, creole seasoning and a splash of Old Bay. The risotto was cooked per package directions. I sliced several small zucchini and button mushrooms–steamed them, then added to the cooked risotto.

Garnished with chopped zucchini blossom and served with green peas. I simple used frozen green peas. If you can find them fresh that’s even better, but I always keep a good stock of frozen vegetables on hand and it works out just fine. You must eat your peas!

A nice sear in a non-stick pan works best. I generally will start off with the flat side up, that way when you flip it, I can slide the fish onto the plate with the flat side down. As the salmon is cooking, just watch the sides to give you and indication of  the done-ness

A few minutes longer and we’re there

Poblano Dressing:

1 poblano pepper, roasted* and peeled

2 Tbsp fresh lime juice

2 Tbsp chopped scallions

1 clove garlic

1 cup Mayonnaise

2 Tbsp sour cream or buttermilk

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Adjust seasonings as necessary.

* To roast fresh poblanos, peppers or other chiles, place them directly on the grill, over a low flame on a gas range, or on a baking sheet under a broiler, and char until evenly blackened, turning as necessary. At times I will oil them a tad with olive oil, wrap in foil and simply bake for about 2o minutes. However if you want that charred flavor use one of the other methods.  Next transfer the peppers to a bowl and cover with a hand towel or place in a plastic food storage bag for about 5 minutes to steam the peppers. This makes the skin easier to remove. Use a paring knife and/or your fingers to remove the stem, seeds  and skin from the peppers and use that delicious smoky flesh as directed in the recipe. Some poblano peppers are spicier than others, so you may want to taste a portion of your pepper and adjust the amount used accordingly.  Personally I love that spiciness.

Zucchini Soup

We should eat fresh vegetables every day if not for the taste, for their ability to aid many vital bodily processes. Vegetables have a healing and invigorating power that is not to be underestimated, and putting them into a good tasty soup is an excellent way to get your vegetables…now eat your zucchini!

A very quick and easy recipe for a tasty, healthy soup

With a dollop of sour cream. Eat with your favorite crackers or crusty bread.  I had it with a few Saltines

Use:

2 pounds zucchini – diced

1 medium onion – chopped

1 potato – diced

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (optional) Adds a great flavor if the soup is served cold

2 Tbsp butter or olive oil

3 scallions

2 cloves garlic – chopped

3 cups water

sour cream

several fresh basil leaves

1 Tbsp lemon juice (optional–The lemon juice as well as the sour cream make this a good cold soup)

For the garnish, I used a potato peeler to get a few strips of the skin off the zucchini, then julienne them. They were blanched by simply lowering them in a large spoon into the simmering zucchini mixture for a few seconds.

In a deep saute pan, saute the onion  and scallions for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, potato, and zucchini, and continue to cook about 5 minutes more. Add the water, stir, cover and simmer 15 minutes longer, until the vegetables are nice and tender.  Remove from heat and cool somewhat and puree in batches in a blender, adding the basil leaves one or two at a time. The lemon juice if used, is added at this time. **Note** When adding the zucchini mixture to the blender, watch how much of the liquid is added so it won’t be too thin.  Use your discretion to get the desired consistency. Some may like a thicker soup, whiel others a more thin soup. Add the lemon juice at this point if you so desire.  Be sure to taste so as not to let the basil leaves overpower the flavors…otherwise the soup will taste more like pesto. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Soup is On!

 

My Kinda Stuffed Zucchini

As you know, I’ve been endeavoring to create delicious zucchini recipes. Well, with my penchant for ‘stuffing’ things, why not stuff some zucchini! So, I stuffed some zucchini with some of the foods I love most. Needless to say, that involves seafood. These could also be called zucchini boats. Hmmm…think of getting seafood from the ‘sea,’ well you must have a boat at times…hence zucchini boats. OK, I’m forcing that one, but the dish was very tasty.

‘Stuffed’ with shrimp, bay scallops, calamari, with mussels on the side

The seafood is mixed with stewed tomatoes, sitting on a bed of white rice

Began with two of the larger zucchini

Scooped out the seeds with a spoon. You want to leave some of the zucchini flesh in tact. At this point, you can sprinkle a little salt on them and let sit for about 20 to 30 minutes to draw out the excess moisture. I simply turned them over and let them rest on paper towel to absorb some of the excess moisture

I began by sautéing onion, bell pepper, celery, and fresh chopped parsley  in 2 Tbsp olive oil for a few minutes. Used “Premium Seafood Medley” of shrimp, calamari, sea scallops, and mussels, and sauteed that in a separate pan in a few Tbsp oil for 3 or so minutes, then added to the pan with the trinity of vegetables, turned off the heat and mixed. Pepper to taste. I really didn’t use any salt at this point

Added two cans of stewed tomatoes that were first simmered with 1 Tbsp of sugar. Mixed that all together

Added cooked rice to each zucchini, then spooned on the seafood mixture. Sprinkled on a little Parmesan cheese and a few breadcrumbs and placed into the awaiting 350 oven and baked for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the zucchini was just tender

Cut in half

Garnish with a little fresh parsley and chopped scallions, a little more Parmesan if you wish, and let’s get on the zucchini boat!

Stuffed Zucchini – Ruby Style

Seared Zucchini Wrapped Scallops With Wild Mushroom Cream Sauce

I’m still cooking with zucchini from my garden, and what better way to use it than to wrap one of my favorite seafood’s with it–diver sea scallops. It ‘marrys’ the best of both worlds — summer fresh vegetables and very succulent mollusks!

Most of the time when you see a nicely seared and wrapped scallop, it usually has a thin slice of bacon or prosciutto adorning it. Now there’s nothing wrong with that, and the added flavors from the pork works quite well with the gentle taste of the scallops. However, I find that the flavor of the scallop is just as outstanding with a thin slice of zucchini wrapped around it. You get the subtle taste of the zucchini with that wonderful fresh taste of the scallop. I’m probably a bit biased towards seafood anyway, as those are my most favorite foods to eat–they taste great however they’re cooked!

The flavors are  mild, bold, and pronounced all ‘wrapped’ up in one…pun intended.

Of course for my spice ‘kick’,’ a few red pepper flakes were in order

The Mushroom Sauce was very tasty with rich mushroom flavor coming thru just right

Wild Mushroom Cream Sauce:

 1/4 cup olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp fresh oregano, chopped

1/4 cup shallots (or scallions) chopped

2 ounces dried mushrooms–I used a blend of morels, porcini, Brazilian caps, ivory portabellas, shiitake, and oyster

**Note**  Choose any mushrooms that you like or are available, dried or fresh

4 medium white button mushrooms, chopped

salt and freshly cracked black pepper

3 Tbsp parsley

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 Tbsp butter

1 cup beef stock or broth

Pinch of red pepper flakes if you wish — I like to have a little ‘spice kick.’

12 large diver scallops

one zucchini, long and slender works best.

To re-hydrate the dried mushrooms–place them in a heat-proof bowl and pour enough hot water over to cover them completely.  You want to make sure they are all completely submerged in the water. Let stand for at least 15 minutes. Next, remove them from the water, rinse, drain, and pat dry on paper towels, give them a nice chop.

Wash the zucchini ( I simply use dish soap and water along with a paper towel to give it a nice wash), and cut off both ends. Pass the zucchini over a mandolin on a nice thin setting (or thicker if you like)–careful, watch those fingers! You need one slice per scallop, and a few more to garnish.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, oregano, and mushrooms, and sauté for 3 minutes tossing them from time-to-time.

Add the butter, cream, parsley, and thyme and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Allow the mushroom mixture to cool sufficient to blend in a blender or food processor. While blending, slowly add the beef stock until a desired consistency is reached. You may want a more liquid sauce, or one with a little body. In any event, watch carefully to get the desired consistency. And of course do a taste test, and add salt & pepper as needed.

For the scallops:  Gently rinse under cold running water to clean them, and place on paper towels to drain. Gently (have to be gentle with those scallop) pat them dry. You want to get as much of the moisture out as possible.  Then season with salt and pepper on both sides. Wrap each scallop with a slice of zucchini and secure with a toothpick. Heat about two Tbsp olive oil in a heavy bottom or cast iron skillet. You want the oil to be nice and hot–medium high heat–place the scallops in and sear for about 3 minutes…watch the sides of the scallops, and when the translucency is notable from the bottom to mid-way up, you know it’s time to flip them over–then sear for another minute —-and that’s it!

Pour the sauce on a serving plate, place the scallops in the sauce and garnish with fresh oregano, and thin zucchini slices.

sauteing the shrooms and other goodies

Adding the butter and cream

Searing the scallops

The mushroom sauce works very well here and as well with pasta, chicken, and veal. You can even spoon it over toast for a quick ‘mushroomy’ snack. My 14-year-old son Joshua slathered it over his turkey cheeseburger

Added a few slithers of fresh button mushrooms

The scallops were tender and moist…time to dig in

Oh, I didn’t forget about you, hear, have a bite      🙂

Seared Zucchini Wrapped Scallops With Wild Mushroom Cream Sauce

Zucchini Cakes

Well, my zucchini pile is going down, but I couldn’t cook them all without making those infamous Zucchini Cakes, or Zucchini Pancakes if you prefer….well, it just wouldn’t be right!

Creamy on the inside and golden brown on the outside

Ingredients:

1 pound zucchini–washed, trimmed, and coarsely grated

3 tsp minced parsley

1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese

1/4 cup flour

dash of cayenne pepper

one medium onion

1/2 cup bread crumbs

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 egg, slightly beaten

4 Tbsp butter or vegetable oil, or olive oil

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Proceed:

In a large bowl, stir together the zucchini, parsley, cheese, flour, salt and pepper. Mix in the eggs. Heat the oil (or butter) over medium-high heat and drop in spoonfuls of the zucchini mixture into the skillet. Cook until golden brown. Turn the cakes over and brown on the “flip side”. Drain on paper towel, move to serving dish and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.

Spoon into the oil and press very gently to spread

Cook til browned, then flip

Looking good–“five on the brown zucchini hand side”

Very flavorful

Zucchini Love

 

Breakfast Frittata With Zucchini

Basically a frittata is the flat omelet served in Mediterranean countries that is often a background for spice vegetables. It’s very easy to make, even more-so than a separate omelet, and the choice of what you would like to go into it endless and can be  made specifically to suit your tastes. The feature vegetable that I used here is zucchini, but you could just as well use asparagus, spinach, green beans, eggplant, artichoke hearts, etc., or a combination there-of. That’s what I love about frittatas–so versatile to suit what your frittata desires. Although this was breakfast, it makes a fine hot lunch or may be cut into wedges and served cold as a summer appetizer.

So Eggie, and Veggie, and Goodie

Served with creamy grits…its breakfast time!

Our ingredients. Lets get started

Seeded and diced the tomato, put a chop on the onion, mushrooms, bell pepper, zucchini, and finely chopped the garlic

Sauteed the veggies in about 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil for a few minutes with fresh cracked black pepper, salt to taste and about 1 Tbsp fresh thyme… then added the garlic. I used a well seasoned heavy 10 inch cast iron skillet. You could also use a 10  inch non-stick oven proof skillet

Cracked nine eggs into a mixing bowl and gave them a good whisk with a little salt & pepper

Poured the eggs into the veggie mix

Gave it a good swirl to mix it all together and  reduced the heat to low, covered and let it cook for 15 minutes until the center is almost set

Ahhhh…just right. Placed into  my ever awaiting  oven–preheated broiler set to low, and broiled 2 to 3 minutes or until it set. Make sure you don’t have it too close to the broiler flames. I placed this on a rack that was about midway in the oven, but then again it may depend on your oven

All done and garnished with a few sprigs of fresh thyme. At this point–if you used a non-stick skillet–you can remove to a serving platter. Since I used a cast iron skillet, That’s what I served it from

Very lite, airy, and tasty

Breakfast begone!!

Zucchini Bread

This is one for sure you have heard of,  if not already  tried yourself. I love zucchini bread, and the recipe is basic, easy to  follow.

Fresh out of the oven and the aroma was awesome!

With grated walnuts and a nice dollop of cream cheese frosting. It’s just calling for a nice cold glass of milk to wash it down

Zucchini Bread

Recipe:

3 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp ground cinnamon

3 tsp vanilla extract

3 eggs – beaten

1 cup vegetable oil

2 1/2 cups white sugar

2 cups (about 1 medium) grated zucchini

1 cup chopped walnuts

Proceed:

Grease and flour tow loaf pans (8 x 4 inch)– I used a 3 x 10 inch baking dish.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl.

Beat the eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Next, add the sifted dry ingredients to this and mix well. Stir in the zucchini and walnuts and mix to combine well. Pour into your baking dish(s), and bake for  about 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick pierced through the center comes out clean. Remove the bread to your serving platter and allow to cool.

Serve as is or with a topping of your choice. I decided that a nice cream cheese frosting would be nice…so I blended together about 4 ounces of softened cream cheese with about 4 Tbsp of softened unsalted butter,  about 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract, and added powdered sugar until the taste was at the right sweetness.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake With Melba Sauce

Well, I’m still working on getting that pile of zucchini down that’s sitting on my kitchen table, and so far so good. I’ve had Zucchini Frittata for breakfast, Stuffed Zucchini for lunch, and Zucchini Bread to snack on, and Zucchini Cakes (or pancakes if  you must).  Now its time for dessert, and of course I’m thinking chocolate…what else?  This is a great recipe to satisfy those taste buds that are screaming for chocolate, and my effort to continue to cook with zucchini. And of course, when I’m thinking ‘chocolate,’ a nice sauce of raspberries come to mind.

Mint leaves add a nice garnish

Powdered sugar to top

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour–sifted

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 3/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 tsp freshly grated orange zest

1 whole egg, slightly beaten & 3 egg whites, slightly beaten

2 cups finely shredded zucchini– I used 1 nice sized zucchini

1/3 cup buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup chocolate chips

powdered sugar (sifted) to top

Proceed:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and lightly grease and flour one 10 inch baking/cake pan.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cocoa. In a large separate bowl, combine the sugar, oil, orange zest and mix well. Add the whole egg and egg whites, one at a time mixing after each addition. Stir in the zucchini. Combine the butter milk with the vanilla in a separate cup.

Add the dry ingredients to the zucchini mixture, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla, about a third at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the chocolate chips and mix until just combined. Pour into the prepared pan and bake 30 to 45 minutes (depending on your oven temp), or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let the cake cool for about 20 minutes then run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen it a bit. Place upright on your favorite cake pan or platter and when it’s completely cooled, sprinkle with the powdered sugar and serve with the Melba Sauce (recipe below).

Melba Sauce:

1 cup fresh raspberries, washed and picked over (reserve a few for garnishing)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup red currant jelly

1 Tbsp cornstarch

2 Tbsp water

In a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine the berries, sugar, and jelly. Mash the berries thoroughly with a fork and simmer gently for about 5 minutes. Mix the cornstarch with the water in a small bowl to form a smooth paste, then stir into the berry mixture. Cook the mixture over low heart, stirring until the sauce is smooth and clear–about 3 minutes. Cool to warm, or allow to reach room temperature and serve immediately.

Very fragrant with the orange zest

The Melba Sauce was a very nice complement

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