Saturday, September 14, 2013

Zucchini and Lentils with Prosciutto

I knew I could count on September to bring me crisp mornings, cool breezes and sparkling views of the East River from my office windows.  And apparently a 96-degree day thrown in just as a reminder of how this month, just like its previous brethren, can produce a scorcher or two.  Well played, September.  

But before we kiss summer goodbye, I have one more warm weather-ish recipe for you.  I like it as a transitional piece -- like a good montage in a movie. Or like your basic navy blazer.  The lentils make me think of hearty fare while zucchini screams overflowing-garden-bounty and the prosciutto says . . . well the prosciutto confirms that pretty much anything is better with prosciutto. 

So if football was on your tv for 75% of the last six days even though the weather outside was over 80 degrees, if you are pairing boots with shorts, or if you have had your first fall beverage of choice from Starbucks but broke a sweat just holding it; stand proud and enjoy this dish.  Because it glows in summer freshness but has a hint of the promise that is to come - which is pumpkinLots and lots of pumpkin.

Zucchini and Lentils with Prosciutto
Adapted from Tender

For the Salad
3 Medium Zucchini
3/4 cup, small, dark green lentils
2 tablespoons olive oil
a handful of chopped parsley
4 ounces of prosciutto 

For the dressing
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar 
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove of minced or chopped garlic

Slice the zucchini into disks as thinly as you can make them while still keeping them fairly sturdy.  Mine were probably a couple centimeters in thickness.  Put them in a colander with a sprinkling of salt and set aside to drain for at least twenty minutes.  Rinse your lentils and pick over any that seem a bit out-of=sorts.  Cook your lentils by boiling them in water until tender but keep a bit of a bite.  Drain them and set aside.  Make the dressing by mixing the vinegars, oil and garlic together with a dash of salt and pepper.  Once the lentils are drained, toss them with the dressing and cover.  Rinse the zucchini and saute them in a pan with the olive oil until they start to brown here and there (I tend to not cook mine very long for whatever reason).  Sprinkle everything with parsley as you see fit.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Blueberry Buckle

Happy long weekend!  I told myself I had to post a new recipe soon so I could get my soul-baring thoughts on turning 30 moved down on the homepage.  Being honest to a faceless computer screen can seem scary. 

I love Labor Day weekend because it is the 'official unofficial' end to summer.  Which means fall is just around the corner!  New York is giving its inhabitants one more balmy, warm weekend before, hopefully, showering us with crisp mornings and bright sunshine. 

As you may recall, I had developed a Summer Bucket List for the summer.  My focus on that, plus the fact it was a fairly mild summer compared to the summer of 2012, means I had a wonderful few months.  We did not check everything off but we did fairly well and went places that I would usually put off going (ie, never go).  We went to the Cloisters and Coney Island (squeezed this one in this weekend!).  We saw a baseball game (two in fact!) and took Newt on a walk a couple of times a month (granted most of them were to-and-from the vet).  And yes, taking Newt on a walk was on my bucket list because I feel bad keeping him in our box of an apartment all the time.
The exciting news is that I have now created a Fall 2013 Bucket List (Robbie was excited about the summer one . . . not so much about the fall one).  When will this madness stop, you wonder? I wish I knew.

I'll check back in around Thanksgiving with the outcome of the Fall 2013 Bucket List but, in the meantime, I wanted to share this Blueberry Buckle recipe with you.  If you have Labor Day off, there's nothing more comforting than sleeping in and waking up to enjoy a piece of cake you can eat for breakfast.  Put it in a red casserole dish and you have yourself a red, white and blue dessert. (Is Labor Day patriotic?  I need to Wikipedia that.)

Blueberry Buckle
Adapted from the "Fresh Blueberry Buckle" recipe from the Essential New York Times Cookbook
According to the cookbook (and some googling), a buckle has streusel on top.  Ironically, the streusel in this recipe doesn't show up as well once baked so I think I'll make a heartier streusel next time.

1 stick, softened, unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk
2 cups blueberries
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (the original recipe called for 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom but I did not have any so I substituted the ginger and it was delicious)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Butter a 9-inch square baking dish (or a 7 x 11 rectangular dish which is what I used).  In a mixer with the paddle attachment, beat half the butter with half of the sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.  Sift together 1 cup of the flour, the baking powder and salt.  Add alternately with the milk to the creamed mixture.  Start and end with the dry ingredients.  Pour into the baking dish and pour the blueberries over the dish.  In a separate bowl, combine the remaining sugar, 1/3 cup flour, ginger and nutmeg.  Cut in the remaining butter until the texture is that of a streusel topping (mine is always a little chunkier but it should be the same consistency of coarse cornmeal with some bigger pieces throughout).  Sprinkle over the blueberries and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the cake is baked through.  The original recipe said to bake 40-50 minutes but in my small oven, it was ready after just 30 minutes. 

Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.  (Or with a side of coffee.)