Gosh, the summer has flown by. Was it the same for you?
This blog has fallen a little by the wayside… I’m still here, just less frequently and with fewer of my “own” recipes, especially now that I can save all my favorites to NYT Cooking. Even though I’m posting fewer recipes doesn’t mean I’ve stopped cooking…on the contrary, our kitchen remains an exciting and comforting place amidst the stresses of daily life.
Here’s a peek into what F and I have been cooking over the past few months, in no particular order.
Smitten kitchen’s takeout-style sesame noodles with cucumber. Simple and delicious — I made them when F was away at a conference and managed not to get too tired of them despite having them over the course of 4 meals in two days… The Woks of Life’s Shanghai-Style Braised Pork Belly — it took 3 hours but was totally worth it for the melt-in-your-mouth texture of the pork belly in rich, sticky sauce. So so good. We will definitely make it again on our next leisurely weekend.
Non-photographed but just as tasty dishes:
Melissa Clark’s Lunchbox Harvest Muffins (NYT Cooking) are moist and not dense at all, despite using only whole wheat flour. They’re packed with grated apple, carrot, and zucchini and made great afternoon snacks for F and me during the workweek.
I had always wanted to try making bircher muesli and finally did this summer. I used Nigella’s “basic bircher muesli” recipe and it turned out exactly like I’d hoped. Last week I made a double batch, which got us both through two weekday breakfasts.
As the holiday season descends and the sweet treats mount up, I sometimes find myself craving a colorful, wholesome salad. This zucchini and millet salad ought to do the trick. Succulent, olive oil-sautéed zucchini complements earthy toasted pumpkin seeds and fluffy millet. The lemon-coriander dressing zings it all together, and pan-fried halloumi adds extra protein and a salty punch.
If you haven’t already done it, cook the millet (see link above).
While the millet is cooking, prepare the zucchini by sautéing rounds in olive oil over medium-high heat, stirring often. When the zucchini rounds are golden-brown and soft, remove them from the heat and put into a large bowl.
While you’re cooking the zucchini, you can toast the pumpkin seeds over medium heat in a small skillet.
Fry the halloumi in a little bit of oil over medium-high heat until nicely browned on each side.
Make the dressing: combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor (or use an immersion blender), processing until smooth. Add a little cold water if the dressing is too thick.
Combine the millet, zucchini, pumpkin seeds, and dressing in the large bowl and toss. Serve the halloumi on the side.
Galettes have been on my mind for a while — they keep popping up on the cooking blogs I read, filled at this time of year with stone fruit or late summer vegetables. I finally decided to try my hand at one when in the same week Melissa Clark posted a couple galette recipes with a great-looking rye-flecked crust, and The Kitchn came out with a summer vegetable galette. Both recipes looked great, so I adapted my crust from Clark,and my filling was inspired by The Kitchn.
A galette comes together easily, in large part because you don’t have to shape the dough into a pie dish or anything — you can just go free-form and pile on your fillings of choice. F and I had made some pesto that we’d frozen, so I thawed it and spread it liberally over the crust; it worked as a lovely base for the tomatoes and zucchini. And this crust is very nice. Despite the excess oil/butter that appeared on the baking sheet at the end, the bottom of the crust didn’t get soggy and had a lovely bit of flaky crunch. I highly recommend this summery galette and am looking forward to trying my hand at a sweet version!
Make crust: In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar and salt. In a measuring cup, whisk the egg and then whisk in enough cream or milk to make 1/3 cup; set aside. Add the butter to the flour mixture and work in with a pastry cutter or your hands, until the butter chunks are chickpea-sized. Drizzle up to 1/4 cup of the egg mixture (reserve the rest for later) into the flour-butter and stir until the mixture just comes together (it will still be crumbly — that’s okay). Stir in the lemon juice and zest.
Lightly flour a flat surface and turn the dough out onto it. Knead the dough a few times, until it comes together into one piece. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and chill for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.
While the dough is chilling, slice your tomatoes and zucchini.
After the dough has chilled, assemble the galette: Preheat the oven to 200C (400F — don’t use the fan/convection setting!) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the dough out to a 12-inch (30cm) round and slip it onto the baking sheet. Spread 1/2 – 3/4 cup pesto on the dough, leaving a 1.5-2-inch (3-4cm) border around the edges. Arrange the tomatoes on top of the pesto, then top with the zucchini slices. Fold the pastry edges towards the center, overlapping as necessary (see photo above). Brush the exposed pastry edges with the rest of the egg-cream mixture.
Bake the galette for 35-40 minutes or until the crust is a nice golden-brown. When you take it out of the oven, soak up any excess liquid with a paper towel or two. Cool the galette for at least 10 minutes, then garnish with grated parmesan.
Happy to be back in the home London kitchen, Sunday put me in the mood to work with food. I had been planning to make granola and pizza dough, but then I remembered seeing frugal feeding’s recipe for “courgette loaf cake” — aka zucchini bread. As it is zucchiniseason and we happened to have a couple in the fridge, I thought the bread would make a delicious post-run treat and that F would enjoy it after returning from a very long cycle. (For the record, he did enjoy it — so much so that we devoured half the loaf between the two of us on Sunday alone.) I was also surprised at myself for not already having a go-to zucchini bread recipe (though I do have these tasty zucchini bread pancakes) so had to remedy that quickly!
This quick bread is packed with zucchini, well-spiced, and not too sweet. Lemon zest — which I was initially skeptical about — adds a nice, zesty brightness to the flavor, and I subbed in some whole wheat flour for a semblance of health. The result is a moist, filling, delicious loaf, great on its own or warm with butter.
Preheat the oven to 180C (160C if using a convection oven). Grease a loaf pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda & powder, spices, lemon zest, and salt.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the zucchini, brown sugar, eggs, and oil.
Pour the wet into the dry mixture and stir to combine. Stir in the nuts, if using.
Scrape the batter (it will be thick) into the loaf pan and bake for 60-70 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean. (You may have to cover the loaf with foil partway through baking, so the top doesn’t burn.)
I’ve been wanting to make socca for a while but had no chickpea flour (aka gram flour) in the house until I made these spinach and potato patties a few weeks ago. Left with an open Wednesday evening and plenty of gram four, I had no more excuses and turned to Cookie and Kate for guidance on how to make it.
Socca is a sort of crepe/pancake/flatbread hybrid, baked and/or broiled in a skillet in the oven. It is really easy to make and, after you’ve let the batter sit for an hour, cooks quickly. Though socca is traditionally enjoyed plain or sprinkled with a few herbs, I topped my first attempt with zucchini, tomatoes, and shaved parmesan to make a light and healthy pizza-like dish — great for a quick weeknight dinner. But it was so good that I made it again the next night, this time leaving it plain enjoying some sautéed veggies on the side. Feel free to try your own topping variations (let me know what you come up with!) or just enjoy the socca plain — you won’t be disappointed.
Socca with Zucchini, Tomatoes & Shaved Parmesan (adapted from Cookie and Kate; makes 2 generous servings)
1 cup (120g) chickpea/gram flour
1 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 zucchini, julienned
1-2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
to taste: parmesan or other hard cheese, shaved
One hour before you want to bake the socca, whisk together the gram flour, water, 2 tbsp olive oil, garlic, and sea salt. Let sit at room temperature for at least an hour.
To make topped (‘pizza-style’) socca:
Turn your oven’s broiler on and move the oven rack up to 8 inches underneath. Put a large skillet in the oven to preheat.
When the oven/skillet have finished heating, take the skillet out (use oven mitts!) and swirl 2 tbsp of olive oil in it. Pour in the socca batter and pop it in the oven for 5-8 minutes or until the edges start to brown.
Remove the skillet from the oven. Move the rack back to the middle of the oven, switch back to normal heating, and turn the temperature down to 215C.
Pour the last 1 tbsp olive oil over the socca and arrange the tomatoes, zucchini, and parmesan on top. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
To make plain socca:
Put a large skillet in a rack in the middle of the oven and turn the oven on to heat to 225C (top-bottom heat, not convection).
When the oven/skillet have finished heating, take the skillet out (use oven mitts!) and swirl 2 tbsp of olive oil in it.
Bake the socca for 10-11 minutes, then switch over to the broiler, move your oven rack up, and broil the socca for 2-3 minutes or until it begins blistering.