Southern Summer Squash Spread

Sometimes abundance is the mother of invention, which explains this original and delicious take on hummus.  Our friend Bob kept us over-supplied all summer with tender, baby, yellow squash with nary a wart upon them.  This was one result of his largesse.

  • Three cups of summer squash, roughly chopped
  • Four tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter
  • Two tablespoons of peanut oil
  • Three tablespoons of lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • One teaspoon of dried red chile flakes
  • One half teaspoon of sea salt
  • Two cloves of garlic, chopped
  • One teaspoon of dried dill

Put squash in a covered glass container and microwave on high for three minutes. Drain squash and place in a food processor along with the remaining ingredients.  Process until the mixture is smooth and spreadable.  Chill before serving with melba toast.

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A Marvelous Mushroom Tapenade

We gathered a mixture of exotic mushrooms on a trip to the Farmers’ Market in Atlanta and added some local shitaki to make this earthy puree which is delightful on a baked potato, spread as a bruschetta topping, or just spooned onto a chunk of rustic bread and enjoyed with a glass of wine after a long afternoon nap.  This recipe makes about two cups.

  • 1/4 cup of good olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 pounds of mixed mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary and oregano, mixed and minced
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup of red wine
  • 2 tablespoons of capers, drained and minced
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • 4 anchovy filets, drained and pressed with a paper towel

Saute the mushrooms in half the oil with the herbs and garlic, adding sea salt and ground black pepper to taste.  After six minutes, add the wine and lower the heat, cooking, uncovered, for about six more minutes or until the juices are evaporated.  Cool and add the last four ingredients to the mushrooms in the bowl of a food processor.  Chop the mushrooms and slowly add the rest of the olive oil, thickening the mixture.  Don’t over process, leaving some texture.  Chill in the refrigerator overnight to blend but let it come to room temperature before serving.

Silver Queen Corn and Bacon Dip

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What a great time to try out this creamy corn and bacon dip!  Silver Queen and other varieties of tender, succulent, early June corn make it a very toothsome experience…or if it is the dead of winter, feel free to utilize frozen creamed corn or well-drained canned niblets.

  • 8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
  • 8 ounces of sour cream
  • 1/2 cup of homemade mayonnaise
  • 3 large green onions, sliced thinly
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups of corn, freshly grated off the cob
  • 1/4 stick of butter
  • 1 dozen strips of smoked bacon, cooked and crumbled

Combine first three ingredients in a mixing bowl and set aside.  In a microwave-proof pan, combine onions, garlic, pepper, corn, and butter.  Cover and microwave on high for three minutes.  Stir in cream cheese mixture, add bacon, and microwave for two minutes.  Remove and mix well.  Cover and cook for an additional minute or two until heated through.  Great with corn chips!

Zucchini Crostini

Looking for something to titillate the taste buds of the vegetarians in your circle?  Try this on toasted garlic french bread in the best Tuscan manner or rely on thin party rye.  This is a rich dish that could be adapted to eggplant or other veggies with a few adjustments to the ingredients.

  • 1 cup of shredded zucchini
  • 1/4 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup of sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons of parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1 teaspoon of minced garlic
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup of bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Approximately 18 small toasts

Put shredded zucchini in a mixing bowl and toss with salt.  Let stand to absorb excess liquid, then rinse and dry on a clean towel.  Add other ingredients and mix well.  Mound a rounded teaspoon on each toast and bake at 375 degrees for about 12 minutes.

Yokosuka Pickled Veggies

These were served as a pre-prandial treat at a unique home built of finely fitted and unpainted timbers near the U.S. Naval Base in Japan during a visit with friends some years ago.  I have resurrected the recipe because some folks really enjoy a salty, biting, clean taste with a really special craft beer.

  • 1/2 pound of carrots, shaved from the length of the carrot
  • 1/2 pound of large turnip roots, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pound of radishes, (daikon if possible) thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pound of leeks, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pound of broccoli florets, about the size of quarters
  • 1 tablespoon of minced ginger root
  • 1 teaspoon of finely chopped dried red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup of sake
  • 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of sea salt

Combine the ginger, red pepper flakes, rice vinegar, sake, and sea salt in a saucepan and heat until steaming…do not boil.  Place vegetables in a covered pyrex dish and pour the pickling solution over them.  Make sure all are covered.  Cool and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. before serving

Goat Cheese and Asparagus Toasts

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We were invited to a pot-luck cocktail party last month and with little time to spare, surveyed the fridge and put together this wonderful hors d’oeuvres that drew compliments from all gathered there.

Begin with what I call “light bread” that some call a sandwich loaf.  You’ll find you have about 24 slices to decrust and roll flat with a rolling pin or a tall bottle.  A pound of asparagus is all you will need and you may have enough leftover for a salad at lunch.  Blanch 24 of the fattest spears (covered in plastic wrap) in a microwave for three minutes.  Spread your favorite goat cheese on each flattened bread slice, place an asparagus spear at one end, grind some fresh black pepper over all, and roll up.  Place seam-side down on an oiled baking sheet, brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Place under the broiler, watching closely until the bread is toasted to a golden hue.  We stacked the toasted asparagus in alternating layers like Lincoln logs for serving.   You will hope there are leftovers!

Vodka Tomatoes

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Hey, these can make your Christmas merry and bright, or any other day of the year.  We chose to marinate cherry tomatoes for this party but consider cantaloupe cubes, cucumber slices, or watermelon balls.  This takes care of the Vegans among you.

  • 3 pints of bright red cherry or grape tomatoes.
  • 1/2 cup of vodka
  • 3 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of granulated white sugar or a substitute
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon zest, freshly grated
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh basil, finely minced

Make a X on the bottom of each tomato, barely cutting through the skin and plunge the whole lot into a pot of boiling water for not more than three seconds.  Remove with a strainer and plunge them into an ice bath of chilled water.  Drain on a towel and add to the marinade composed of the remaining ingredients, making sure the sugar is dissolved.  Be certain to cover the tomatoes completely and refrigerate for an hour.   Serve with a smoked salt or lemon pepper.