Sunday, September 11, 2011

the goose loves farmshare dinners

Since I'm so behind in my posts (darn that job and life getting in the way), I have no idea what night this really happened. But let's pretend it was September 10th. Which it really wasn't, since we weren't even in the country in September 10th, but whatever. We'll get to that later.

Billy and I were in a cooking mood and had lots of vegetables to use, so we pulled out our trusty Williams-Sonoma "Bride & Groom" Cookbook, which we used as a guestbook at our wedding. (The cookbook-guestbook thing worked out really nicely, actually - we wanted to be able to re-read our guests messages without storing a lace-covered book somewhere, and since we love to cook, this works out great! People had a good time writing on pages with recipes they liked, or even offering up better recipes!)
I settled on two recipes from the book: Spoon Bread with Sweet Corn and Zucchini-Potato Pancakes. Billy decided to make a gussied up pico de gallo to garnish my recipes.
Spoon Bread with Sweet Corn
For those of you who have no idea what this is: I felt the same way. Here's the description:
Spoon bread is a wonderful old-fashioned side dish that goes with just about anything.

Butter for greasing
1-2 ears fresh yellow or white corn
kosher salt
1 cup fine-grind cornmeal
2 tbsp butter
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk*
1/3 cup heavy cream*

*As is usually the case, I didn't have everything for this recipe. I made my own buttermilk by adding 2 tbsp of lemon juice to 1 cup of milk and letting it sit for 10 minutes. Instead of heavy cream, I used regular milk.
And here is the one and only prep photo of Billy's pico de gallo. Apparently I don't find his cooking very fascinating or something, so I don't photograph it.
Directions for Spoon Bread:

1. Preheat oven to 425. Grease glass pie dish or or square dish with butter. I used a round Pyrex bowl that was probably a little deeper than it was supposed to be. But it worked.

2. Shuck the corn and cut off the kernels. Or have your husband cut off the kernels, since he's already cutting off his own kernels for the pico de gallo stuff he's making. Ask him for at least a cup of corn kernels.

3. Bring 2.5 cups of salted water to boil. Measure out cornmeal in a glass measuring cup, and add enough water (or milk) to the cornmeal to make it fluid (dry, clumpy, or pasty cornmeal usually gives me clumpy polenta). When water boils, pour fluid cormeal stuff into the water and whisk vigorously. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until it becomes fairly thick, about 5 minutes. Stir in butter and remove from heat.

4. Meanwhile (since you're doing nothing else anyways, like watching the dog or making other food or drinking), whisk the eggs, buttermilk (or fake buttermilk), and cream (or fake cream) together until well blended. Sorry for the fake stuff - at least I used real eggs. Add this mixture to the cornmeal mixture in the pot and stir until well blended. Pour into prepared dish.

5. Bake until golden brown on top and a skewer comes out clean. It will rise like a souffle, so serve at once, before it falls.

Here's my spoon bread, pre-baking:
Now let's switch gears to the zucchini-potato pancakes.

Zucchini-Potato Pancakes

1 large russet potato (or a few smaller ones of any type, really)
1 large zucchini (or a smaller one supplemented with egglplant, like I did)
1/3 cup diced onion
1 large egg, beaten
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
olive oil

Here's my abused egg (get it? beaten? ha.) and some fresh dill. Billy was cutting up dill, so I said, "Oooh. Cut some for me too." Dill goes with potatoes, right?
1. Grate potatoes and zucchini in large bowl. To save time and effort, I just run them through the Cuisinart with the grater blade. I also sent the eggplant and onion through there, again to save time and effort. Easy is better.

2. Beat the egg and add it to your shredded mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Work quickly, or douse with lemon juice, or your shreddings will get a little brown.
3. Put a quarter or half cup of "batter" into a hot frypan with a little olive oil. Cook until golden-brown on the bottom - roughly 7 to 10 minutes. Then flip gently, and cook the second side for about 6 minutes, until also golden brown. Then remove to wire rack or pan and keep warm until eatin' time! I used my little non-stick All Clad fry pan, but if you use a larger pan, you can cook several at once. Just leave a couple inches inbetween each pancake.
Let's take a short break and check on our Spoon Bread, currently baking in the mini oven. Mmmm.
And finally, the results! Golden brown and crispy potato pancakes, with undetectable amounts of healthy zucchini and eggplant. Believe me - Billy doesn't care for squash-like vegetables, but he finished two of these quite promptly.
And our almost-too-toasty-brown spoon bread!
Our finished plates. The spoon bread didn't quite serve as nicely as I hoped (see bowl of yellow mush) but it tasted fantastic. Billy's pico de gallo turned into a wonderful medly of veggies, including avocados, and was delicious with the spoon bread and the pancakes. All in all, a decent effort for a terrific result!

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