*July 2009 COTM* SPICE: Flower Power
Our Chowhound July 2009 Cookbook of the Month is Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean by Ana Sortun.
Please post your full-length recipe reviews here for dishes from Chapter Eleven: Flower Power – Cooking with Nasturtium, Orange Blossom, Rose, Chamomile, Lavender, and Jasmine -- page 300 to 329. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing and the page number, if possible, as well as any modifications you made to the recipe. Let us know if you would like to make the recipe again, and if you would change anything in the future, too. Photos welcome!
A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.
Thanks for participating and enjoy!
Zucchini fritters, p. 308
Moving on from my less than successful attempt at corn fritters, or, er, crumbly pancake-like batter fry.
Grate a few zucchinis (I like to soak them whole for 1/2 hr first per M Hazan to disgorge any dirt, since they kind of lie on the ground) -- I used the food processor (a snap!), put in colander and throw some salt on 'em and after 15 mins squeeze out water w/ your hands.
Meanwhile, grate red onion (FP again, zippy!). Mix into bowl w/ zucchini; chopped fresh dill or mint (I used mint -- again, bumper crop), black pepper, 1/2 c flour & 2 eggs. You can put in nasturtium leaves so that the recipe properly falls in this chapter . . . but I didn't and just added extra black pepper.
Fry in olive oil.
Turned out well. Pretty tasty, and nice change of pace to make a dent in the never-ending supply of zucchini. I even had one from my garden, though I grow an Italian variety for the male blossoms (stuffed squash blossoms . . .mmm)
You're supposed to serve it w/ aioli but I didn't because I used up the last of my good local eggs in the batter. The aioli recipe looks interesting -- adding some Greek style yogurt and . . . nasturtium blossoms (just who has one full cup of nasturtium blossoms at hand??) Anyway, the fritters were good w/o it. Served w/ southwestern style grilled shrimp from Fish Without a Doubt. The fritters don't scream out with flavor -- more pleasantly mellow -- so they complemented and did not compete w/ the spicier shrimp.
I recommend this recipe for those with a surfeit of zucchini!
Wilton's corn cakes (arepas), p. 306
I had some fresh corn and scallions, so thought I'd give this a go. You process corn, chopped white onion and scallions, then mix it with brown sugar and eggs, flour and cream, S&P.
You then fry up the batter in butter a la pancakes. I followed the recipe exactly. The taste was absolutely delicious. The fresh corn, onions/scallions balanced perfectly with the sweetness of the brown sugar.
However . . . I probably should have added more flour because the batter was too runny to flip what should have been pancakes, and it ended up more like scrambled eggs than whole pancakes.
I will definitely make this again, especially because I get a lot of sweet corn from my CSA.
The recipe calls for a compound butter of nasturtium and basil to place on top of the cooked pancakes, but I don't yet have a lot of nasturtium flowers in my garden so I omitted. In any event, since I didn't have solid pancakes, there was no need for additional butter. Maybe I'll try putting some nasturtiums & basil in the batter next time. However, the flavor was fab even without them. The taste of summer!
I'm planning to make the Grano with Greek Yogurt and Orange Blssom Honey (p. 304), probably without actual orange blossom honey, and possibly with the fruit puree variation. I want to ask, though, if the soft wheat berries I bought will be quite the same as actual grano called for in the ingredients list? I figured they might be a little less refined or polished wheat berries than what is sold as grano in Italy. Am I on the right track? Will they take a little longer to cook perhaps, but essentially taste similar?
Anyway, I will report back once we have it for breakfast. Would be interested if anyone has input on where to find actual grano retail (not necessarily imported, but the same refining level as what the Italians sell.) I don't really have use for five pounds from Arisa, and certainly not at $6/pound when soft wheat berries are 69 cents per pound at Whole Foods!
BTW, I first encountered yogurt sold with grano while visiting Rome Christmas 1990. I always buy it when I see it in this country (mostly west coast,) but it's never as good as I remember it there. I ate it nearly every morning for breakfast while in Italy.
Grano with Greek Yogurt and Peach Puree (p. 304) I found some great peaches when shopping, so made the peach puree variation of this recipe. I found that the peaches had released a lot of juice at 20 minutes, so didn't cook them to 40 minutes like suggested. The puree was quite loose at that time, anyway. Probably because they are in season, might vary due to variety of fruit. The soft wheat berries were a successful substitute. They actually cooked up more quickly than the recipe suggested, perhaps because I soaked them over twelve hours. This breakfast parfait was a lot of textural interest, as there are soupy bits and creamier, thicker parts. The flavors were great together. I'd recommend it, especially nice in hot weather, as it's light but satisfying and the whole grains give it staying power in combo with the protein of the yogurt.