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Posts Tagged ‘summer squash’

I’ve got friends in high places where the cognac drowns and the wine chases my blues away…

If I re-wrote Garth Brooks’ little diddy, that’s how the song would go.  See, I’ve got these friends.  They’re lovely.  They’re classy.  They’re superb cooks.  And they’ve got a place in France where guests go to absorb the beauty of the country and take part in cooking lessons whereby they shop at the local markets, prepare meals together and then enjoy the bounty of their efforts in the garden, sipping wine which has been specifically paired for the meal.  Sounds like heaven huh?  Yeah, I agree.

Well, Katie makes a lovely summer squash gratin that manages to grace the table when the season is ripe for zucchini, crook-neck, patty pan, and all manner of summer squashes.  It’s simple as can be, and absolutely delicious down to the last creamy, cheesy, nutmeg-infused bite.

So last week, after finding myself to have been a leeeeeetle overzealous buying summer squash at the Farmer’s Market, I begged for her recipe and she happily obliged.  I added corn to my gratin in an effort to use up another surplus from my overzealous market trip, and threw a few torn basil leaves in there too.

So this is my take on Katie’s specialty…

Katie’s super-dee, duper-dee lovely summer squash gratin (with corn and basil)

This recipe is adaptable to any size dish, from individual ramekins, to a huge gratin-dish.  Plan to layer the squash (and corn, if you’re using it) a couple inches deep.  So here, I’ll provide you with a method and leave the quantities up to you!

If you’re preparing one large dish, Katie recommends baking the gratin at 325º.  For the individual ramekins like I made, bake at 350º.  Also, this gratin is simply divine made with just squash– so don’t feel the need to add the corn and basil if you don’t have them on hand.  Also, Katie adds a sprinkling of Emmenthaler cheese to the top.

  • a variety of summer squash, washed and stems removed
  • heavy cream
  • finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • freshly ground nutmeg
  • corn, scraped from the cobb
  • unsalted butter
  • torn basil
  • kosher salt

Slice the squash about 1/8-inch thick using a mandolin.  Layer the squash in a large bowl, lightly salting each layer as you go.  Allow the salted squash to sit for 30-60 minutes so that it releases it’s liquid.

Preheat the oven to the desired temperature (see note).

Gently cook the corn in butter, salting to taste.  Allow to cool.

Pour off the excess squash liquid, giving the squash a gentle push and squeeze to help extract any liquid that remains.

Begin by placing a layer or two of squash in the bottom of the dish.  Then layer in some corn.  Scatter in some torn basil.  Pour in a little cream, but don’t submerge the vegetables.  Sprinkle in some Parmesan.  Lightly dust with nutmeg (a little goes a long way).  Be sure to keep the layers densely packed, all the way to the edges of the dish.  Keep layering in this manner until all the vegetables are used up.  Then pour in a little more cream so that it almost reaches the top of the vegetables.  Lightly press down on the top of the vegetables to help douse them in the cream.  Sprinkle another healthy dose of Parmesan and Ementhaler (if using) over the top.

Place the gratin dish (or dishes) into the preheated oven, and bake until the cream bubbles around the edges, and the top is golden-brown.   Allow to cool slightly before serving- it’s gonna be hot!

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This is the kind of thing that’s yummy to eat on a hot summer day when you just can’t bear to turn on the stove.  In fact, a few nights ago we had it along side a baguette and 1/2 a wheel of Sir Francis Drake cheese from Cowgirl Creamery.  And while we’re at it, The Sir Francis Drake is similar to their Mt. Tam, but is a little stronger. The rind is washed with sweet white wine-soaked currents…it’s so yummy!

Gilbert, one of the owners of the restaurant calls this a “carpaccio” when he puts it on the menu, and it sells like crazy!  It’s easy to vary, depending upon what you have on hand.  For this version, I used toasted pine nuts, lemon juice, mint, and olive oil.  But you could also use shallots, chives, basil, cheese, …the possibilities are endless!  Just be sure to use young, tender summer squash.  With all the funny-shaped varieties that are out there, you could make a fun and colorful plate.

Summer Squash Salad

Rather than supply you with a recipe, I’ll supply you with a method.

  • Gather a variety of young, tender summer squash (and please don’t attempt to do this in the winter!!)
  • Use a sharp mandolin to slice the squash into planks about 1/8-inch thick
  • Spread the slices on individual plates and sprinkle with salt (use fleur de sel if you have it)
  • Squeeze lemon juice over the whole thing
  • Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over the whole thing
  • Sprinkle a minced herb (like basil, mint, chives, tarragon…) over the whole thing
  • Add a few toasted nuts if you’d like
  • Add a few shavings of cheese if you’d like (Scott and I love to use hard cheeses like Parmesan, pecorino, or Piave)
  • Enjoy on a warm summer’s-eve with a glass of white wine…  Ahh, bliss!

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