Okay y’all, so I know it’s been a bit of a drought without a good post, but planning a wedding and getting ready (with just about 100 days left to go) takes it all out of you. Plus, I was sick all last week, so my plans to work on a good post last week did not come to any form of fruition. However, now that I am feeling more like myself, with enough strength at the end of the day to bring my laptop home and work on posts while my dinner is cooking (something I am trying to do more because writing posts is a more productive use of my cook-wait time than watching the newest episodes of Iron Chef America), I wanted to thank you all for your patience and continuing support! Obviously, I have a lot to catch you up on, but first, I want to take a moment…a moment to say goodbye to one of the best puppers I’ve ever known: Gus Gus.
Yesterday, we said goodbye to the old man who suddenly lost the majority of use in his back legs. He spent the last two days outside, comfortable, and surrounded by us and the other family dogs who loved him so much. For me it was extra sad because Gus was actually my very first semi-dog, in the sense that Frankie & I fostered him for six months before we got Tuggs, just to get our feet wet…or rather my feet wet, since I have never owned a dog before. He was one of the sweetest, most loving, sweet-natured buds I’ve had the pleasure of belly-rubbing, and will always remember the late night couch cuddles, his endless smiles, and his butt wiggle wag because he never really knew how to just wag his tail. I know he is on the other side of the rainbow bridge running wild across sandy beaches, performing his perfect cinnamon roll with the biggest, slobberiest smile on his handsome mug. We will miss you Gus Gus, you were the best boy.
Cooking With Alex: We did do a quick recipe a couple weeks ago (after Alex was also sick…that summer bug is going around, so watch yourselves!) and I know I never got a chance to post it or talk about it, but since her busy season at work has started to pick up, our weekend cooks are on hold most likely until September, if not post-wedding…we are still trying to get together once a week to make something, however small or simple (which is sometimes best when our only free days that match are Monday and Tuesday), but we have some BIG plans for the future. Empanadas were thrown around, and I know I’ve already done a beef empanada, but I would love to do a chicken or all veggie one and even make my own empanada pastry. Oh, and then there’s homemade gnocchi, which I may attempt to do in the nearer future if I can so I can practice, and macaroons…which I know will be SO difficult and will more than likely kick our butts, BUT who cares! At least we tried, and if it goes well enough, we’ll do them again and get better at it!
Asian Chicken & Quinoa Salad from Food Network (COOKING NOTE: If you’re short on time, get a rotisserie chicken OR two roasted breast pieces from the deli counter and remove the skin. I wouldn’t recommend getting fried breast pieces, though…now that I think about it, fried chicken Asian salad doesn’t sound half bad either…)
Perfect Gluten-Free Brownies from one lovely life: These were AWESOME! I didn’t make it 100% paleo friendly (I used the regular sugar that I had instead of coconut sugar, and I honestly am not sure if the baking cocoa I used is paleo friendly…but I’m not 100% paleo so it’s all gouda), but they were SO delicious and incredibly easy to make! I plan on making them again VERY soon so I can take some delicious photos this time around. COOKING NOTE: These only need to be cooked for 22 minutes – any more and they’ll be a little on the dense side, though still VERY scrumptious!
CSA & Cooking with Friends (Chicago): Oh my gosh, so I know I raved about Imperfect Produce last time, but this CSA experience has been really delightful and I’m only on week 2! The first weekend of the CSA, I had a wedding in Libertyville to attend that afternoon, so I basically went, collected my box, filled it with vegetable goodies with Carly (who is sharing the CSA share with me this year), and left, without really getting a chance to walk by all the stalls and make mental notes of where I wanted to come back to. This past Sunday however, I made sure to allocate more time to meandering, and I’m so glad that I did. WHAT. A. HAUL! Not only was I able to snag a beautiful bunch of squash blossoms—which I immediately stuffed, battered, and fried to satisfy a multi-year craving for these hard to find little wonders—BUT I CAN FINALLY FULFILL A LIFELONG COOKING DREAM OF WORKING WITH PATTYPAN SQUASH!!! Not only do I find their name utterly adorable, they ARE adorable! And their skins are so uniquely patterned! I’m sure they will taste very similar to my typical summer squash, but I’m still really excited to work with them over the coming days!
I also got a little more creative in picking some meat at the market as well…and by meat, I mean fish! I grabbed a beautiful, large filet of wild caught trout and whitefish, and a couple monster filets of salmon, all of which are sustainably caught in Lake Heron! How cool is that?! On the menu so far: Trout Almondine, with Green Beans (CSA), and Corn/Leek Risotto. This is probably the most adventurous I’ve gotten in quite some time…I think being sick and not having the energy to cook has me in kitchen withdrawal.
Fried Stuffed Squash Blossoms
Fried Squash Blossoms are one of those things that don’t come across a menu or a plate all that often, but when it does, it’s an instant choice for me! These are sweet, soft, delicate, and 100% full of flavor! The lovely little bite you get when you crunch through the batter and the leaves is just magical! Blossoms can be found at a lot of Farmers Markets, so if you see them, give them a try!
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- 4-6oz goats cheese (any flavor you’d like!)
- 4 oz mascarpone or ricotta
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- Optional (if cheese is unherbed): 1/4 tsp dried oregano, 1/4 tsp dried parsley; 1/2 tsp lemon juice, 1 spring onion thinly sliced
- 1 cup of flour (you can sub in almond or coconut flour to make this gluten free)
- 1 cup soda water, plus a little extra*
- Canola oil
- Prep Fry: Get a pot of oil going on your stove – if you don’t have a thermometer, you can test of the oil is ready by putting the handle of a wooden spoon all the way to the bottom of the pot, and if bubbles arise around it, your oil is ready!
- Prep Blossoms: Carefully, open the blossoms and remove the pistil with scissors.
- Stuff: Whip together the ingredients for the stuff & taste to adjust seasoning. Put into a ziplock bag, cut off a small bit of a corner, and use as a piping bag to fill the blossoms. Once filled, carefully twist the tops of the blossoms to secure.
- Batter & Fry: Whip up the batter in a bowl, adding more soda water if the batter is too thick. Then carefully submerge your blossoms one at a time into the batter, letting it drip a little from the blossom, then IMMEDIATELY and CAREFULLY place the battered blossom in the oil. The blossoms should only take about 2 minutes to fry (when the batter is slightly golden brown and firm). Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon or spider spoon, and lay gently onto a plate lined with a paper towel.
- Eat: Let cool slightly then devour immediately!
* I plan to try this batter out with beer (like I did with the fish & chips), so I will be sure to update this accordingly if it pans out – but I do question if a beer batter would overpower the natural & delicate sweetness of the squash blossom – all TBD!
Phew! Are we through everything yet? No…maybe?
Corgi Cavalcade: This has absolutely NOTHING to do with food, but about the Saturday before CSA started, Frankie & I went to a Corgi Cavalcade that included about 80-90 corgi’s (and other puppers)! I just wanted to include a couple of the cute photos we took of Tuggs because he’s just so freaking cute! Plus he’s also been enjoying some of the spoils from our CSA basket…especially the baby zucchini that his momma accidentally drops on the floor…but it’s not like I can get mad at him for having such good taste in vegetables or for just eating his vegetables in general #bestfurchild
AND THAT’S IT! Holy smokes! I know that was a lot to get through with photos abound, but I have a couple of other meals and recipes that I have YET to write up, so here’s a little taster to hold you over in the meantime: a Trout Almondine and Corn Risotto recipe, Benihana’s at Home, Everything But The Forest Floor Chicken (A New Cooking Maggie Original!), oh, and how could I forget, Cooking with Friends Chicago: The Best Fried Chicken Sandwich (drool). Until next time lovelies! — Cooking Maggie