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Roasted Smashed Potatoes with Rosemary and Preserved Lemon | Relishing It

I finally did the thing that’s been weighing on my mind for the last year.  I turned 40 years old on Tuesday.  My apprehension wasn’t about the number itself, or the accumulation of tiny wrinkles gathering under my eyes– it was heavier than that.  Those are superficial things that I can live with.  Instead, my dread has been a bit more existential.  Knowing that other inevitable changes are coming, like my children growing up, my parents aging, and that my limited time here is diminished with each passing year.  Those are the things that are harder to accept.

Roasted Smashed Potatoes with Rosemary and Preserved Lemon | Relishing It

But now that 40 has arrived, I’ve decided to do my best and be optimistic.  I’ll focus on the positives instead of dwelling on future loss.  I’m surrounded by  wonderful friends, and have been lucky enough to be born and married into two incredible families.  I get to spend every day with my best friend and love of 23 years, and we have two sweet children.  I’ve been fortunate with my health.  Right now, things are good by pretty much any standard.  I’m a lucky, lucky gal and I know it (and don’t think for one second that I didn’t knock on my wooden desk as I wrote that sentence).

Roasted Smashed Potatoes with Rosemary and Preserved Lemon | Relishing It

I’ve also decided to tackle new challenges.  My kids are at an age that I now have more time to pursue my own interests.  I’m ready to learn new things.  I want to take up pottery, learn to play the guitar and violin, to knit, and to read more.  I want to become more patient.  Mostly, I want to consciously be in the present, rather than always waiting for some vague future to just “happen”.   I also want to continue to learn new and exciting things about food and photography– this is the stuff that thrills me. Preparing the food, taking photos, and writing this blog make me very happy. I love connecting with all of you.

Roasted Smashed Potatoes with Rosemary and Preserved Lemon | Relishing It

With that little essay out of the way, there’s really no subtle segue into a recipe post, so I’ll just throw it out there– today I made simple, roasted smashed potatoes.  They’re kind of a hard one to name, but hopefully the photos help you out a bit. These little gems are all about texture, texture, texture!  Soft and pillowy on the inside and perfectly crispy on the outside.  I love to pick them up and snack on them, but they also pair well with a burger or steak.  Throw any herbs you fancy on them, but I particularly love the rosemary/preserved lemon combination.  So, so good!  Enjoy these potatoes over the weekend and thanks for listening to me ramble.

The Recipe: Roasted Smashed Potatoes with Rosemary and Preserved Lemon

about 2 pounds of small yukon gold potatoes (halve or quarter larger ones)

1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary, plus fresh sprigs for serving

1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped preserved lemon

extra-virgin olive oil

good sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside.

Begin by steaming the potatoes until they feel done when a knife is inserted into them– about 15-20 minutes (depending upon how big your potatoes are).  Remove from heat and continue to let sit in covered pan just to be certain they are fully cooked.

Dry the potatoes off if any water remains on them.  Then place them on the prepared baking sheet and gently smash them down with a fork.  You don’t want the potato to completely fall apart, but you do want some of the inside to be exposed– that way more crevices can become crisped.  Drizzle a few glugs of olive oil over the potatoes, then the chopped rosemary, salt, and pepper.  Roast for about 20-25 minutes, or until they have become a beautiful golden brown (check the bottoms, too).   Remove from oven and top with more olive oil, more rosemary, preserved lemon, and salt and pepper to taste.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!

Laurie

 

Roasted Vegetable Panzanella with Eggplant | Relishing It

One of my favorite summer meals is panzanella.  If you’re not familiar with this little dish, it is simply a bowlful of seasonal vegetables with homemade croutons or bread and a dressing of some sort.  And it is wonderful.  This fresh version with tomatoes and peppers is one that I make frequently.

Roasted Vegetable Panzanella with Eggplant | Relishing It

Roasted Vegetable Panzanella with Eggplant | Relishing It

Roasted Vegetable Panzanella with Eggplant | Relishing It

Today I wanted to create something just as pleasing, but a bit different.  I wanted to be both delicious and satisfying as well as be loaded with vegetables.  I know I’ve preached this before, but eating vegetables is key to keeping me feeling good, so I really try to pack them in throughout the day.  One of the vegetables that I wanted to rely on for this receipe is eggplant.  Why eggplant?  Well, because I can’t stop buying it at the farmers market– it’s just so darn gorgeous.  I have a weird relationship with this vegetable.  I don’t generally love the flavor, and at times I find the texture to be a bit…unique.  I needed to find a way to appreciate it, aside from the aesthetic, because admiring its beauty while it sits unused on my countertop is a bit wasteful.  And the other recipes I’ve tried have just seemed ho-hum or so loaded with other unhealthy things that it kind of defeated the point of eating healthy.  So that’s why eggplant.

Roasted Vegetable Panzanella with Eggplant | Relishing It

Thankfully, not only did I find a way to use it, I found a way to actually enjoy it!  This panzanella is everything that I wanted it to be.  Using small globe-like eggplants worked well in this recipe.  The seeds are smaller, which appeals to me.  The vegetables became tender and delicious when roasted.  Tossing them with homemade croutons, a red wine vinaigrette, and feta was a beautiful combination.  The feta melted slightly against the warm vegetables.  It was magical.  The smashed garlic cloves become soft and buttery.  Roast whatever vegetables you have on hand– it will work.  Change up the cheese, if you want.  Goat or ricotta salata will work well, too. Enjoy!

Roasted Vegetable Panzanella with Eggplant | Relishing It

The Recipe: Roasted Vegetable Panzanella with Eggplant

(serves 2)

about 10 small eggplants, diced

1-2 red peppers, cut into bite-sized pieces

handful of small cherry tomatoes

1 small red onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, smashed

1 hot pepper, optional

olive oil, salt, and pepper

1/4 – 1/2 baguette, cubed

Feta, goat, or ricotta salata cheese crumbles, to garnish

For the Vinaigrette:

1 garlic clove, finely minced

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

about 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed

salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  On a large baking sheet with parchment paper, toss the eggplant, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and garlic cloves together with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Roast for 20-25 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, toss the cubed baguette with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and spread on another baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake on the bottom rack until just crispy, about 10 minutes.  Remove from oven.

Make the vinaigrette by mixing the garlic clove, mustard, thyme leaves, and red wine vinegar together.  Then whisk in the olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.

When the vegetables are done roasting, mix them together with the homemade croutons.  Then toss everything with the red wine vinaigrette.  Re-season with salt and pepper, if necessary.  Serve with feta crumbles on top and even a few more thyme leaves.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!

Laurie

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peach Sangria with Chamomile and Thyme | Relishing It

“Millions of peaches, peaches for me.  Millions of peaches, peaches for free”.  My apologies for putting that song in your head, but I end up humming it every time I make this wonderful sangria.  And while the comical stylings of the band The Presidents of the United States of America (I’m really showing my early 90’s musical roots here) may not be your thing, this drink will be.  If only peaches were free…if only.

Peach Sangria with Chamomile and Thyme | Relishing It

Peach Sangria with Chamomile and Thyme | Relishing It

It’s hard to not like sangria, to be honest.  What’s not to love?  Delicious wine spiked with fruit or fruit juices, sometimes sugar, sometimes bubbles. Yes, please.  Making sangria can be a bit like painting on a canvas.  There are so many colors and choices for your creation.  I enjoy both white and red sangria, but in either style fresh herbs are the key for me.  They give it a little more complexity that so many other versions seem to lack.

Peach Sangria with Chamomile and Thyme | Relishing It

I’ve also recently been experimenting with fresh juices in my sangria.  We have a Breville Juice Fountain Plus and I like to put it to good use.  You may think you’ll waste a lot of the fruit by juicing it, but the truth is, you don’t.  I had almost no pulp when I juiced two peaches for this recipe– the only thing that was discarded was the peel. If you’ve been thinking of purchasing a juicer, summer is the perfect time to do it!  There are so many wonderful fruits and vegetables to experiment with.  The nice people at Williams-Sonoma can help you make a selection that is a good fit for your family.  Of course, if you don’t have a juicer, you can simply peel the peach and purée in a blender– that method will work just fine.  I wanted to create an herby, mostly naturally-sweetened sangria.  Some recipes require a lot of sugar, but I’d rather avoid that if possible.  The addition of chamomile is subtle, but lovely.  And the fresh thyme works magically with the peaches– they’re a wonderful pairing.

Peach Sangria with Chamomile and Thyme | Relishing It

Using fresh juices in addition to chunks of whole fruits helps the flavors meld a bit quicker than just using whole fruit exclusively. It is something you should definitely try before the summer is over!  Enjoy the sangria and for goodness sakes, share some with your *neighbors!

*Speaking of neighbors– shout out to my neighbor Allison and her lovely mother, Shirley for gifting me the gorgeous antique platter in the photos– thank you!

Peach Sangria with Chamomile and Thyme | Relishing It

The Recipe: Happy Hour: Peach Sangria with Chamomile and Thyme

(serves 4)

1 bottle of sparkling white wine, cava, prosecco, or regular white wine

3/4 cup fresh peach juice/purée (from 2 peaches)

1-2 bags of chamomile tea (steeped in 1/2 cup hot water, then cooled)

handful of fresh thyme sprigs

1/2 tablespoon superfine sugar (more or less to taste)

fresh raspberries and peach slices

ice

Begin by steeping the chamomile tea in hot water.  Refrigerate to cool completely.  Juice the peaches by either using a juicer or peel the peaches and purée in a blender.

In a large glass pitcher, add the sparkling white wine, peach juice, chamomile tea, fresh thyme sprigs, and  1/2 tablespoon superfine sugar.  Stir together well and even bruise the thyme with a wooden spoon to release the flavors more.  If time allows, let the flavors meld for 20 minutes or so in the refrigerator.  Then add the ice, fresh raspberries, and peach slices.  Serve in a glass over ice.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!

Laurie

 

Fresh Corn Salsa | Relishing It

I’ll get to the corn salsa in a minute– but first I want to talk about beer!  Admittedly, I’ve been drinking too darn much beer this summer.  Not at one time– nothing like that.  But this summer, more than any other, it’s just been so easy to sit outside with Radd in the evening and visit over a beer or two.  I suppose it’s partly to do with our mild weather– not too hot, not too humid.  It has been perfect, which is excellent for my happiness.  And while I probably don’t need those calories at the end of the day, instead of stressing, I’ve decided to embrace it.

Fresh Corn Salsa | Relishing It

Fresh Corn Salsa | Relishing It

So what have I been sipping on?  Mostly farmhouse ales and saisons.  Two that I love are Saison Dupont and a local farmhouse ale from Liftbridge called Farm Girl.  Speaking of local beer, I’ve also been enjoying a few others like Bent Paddle’s Paddle Break Blonde and Steel Toe’s Size 7 IPA.  Now before this post turns into an essay on local beer, let me just say this– our craft beer scene here in Minnesota is just incredible right now.  So many wonderful breweries and taprooms, and I’ve been testing them out like it’s my job.  I’m owning it, I don’t mind saying.  A few other great summer favorites (not local) are Leffe Blonde and Pyramid’s Apricot Ale.  There, that’s my beer confession.

Fresh Corn Salsa | Relishing It

So what goes smashingly well with summer beer?  Yup– chips and fresh corn salsa.  I love salsa of any variety– tomato, tomatillo… but, there’s something about fresh corn salsa that wins the salsa competition for me.  I would choose corn every time.  It’s fresh, slightly sweet, spicy, and loaded with that citrusy lime/cilantro flavor.  Not to mention, it is simple to make– so simple that it’s somewhat silly to even give a recipe.  But, I think the same can be said for most summer fare– fresh and simple and that’s just fine.  So, get out your chefs knife and start cutting up that corn.  Then pour yourself a glass of cold beer and soak up some summer fun.  Cheers!

Fresh Corn Salsa | Relishing It

The Recipe: Fresh Corn Salsa

6-8 ears of fresh corn, cut

1 large red onion, diced

1 bunch fresh cilantro, finely chopped

2 jalapeños, chopped (remove seeds/ribs if heat is a factor)

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

juice of one lime

kosher salt

In a medium-sized bowl mix all of the ingredients.  Add more lime juice to taste.  Season appropriately with salt.  You may need more salt than you are used to — corn needs a bit to bring out its wonderful flavor.  Let flavors meld for a bit before serving.  Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator.  Enjoy!

Fresh Corn Salsa | Relishing It

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!

Laurie

Happy Hour: Whiskey Sour | Relishing It

It’s Friday, which means it’s practically happy hour!  Today’s cocktail is one of my very favorites.  It’s actually a drink that we enjoy both in the summer and the winter.  Right now we’re enjoying them outside on the patio with plenty of ice.  The lemony-bourbon flavor is a perfect combination– it’s smooth and doesn’t have a strong alcohol taste.  But, what I love most about this cocktail is the froth.  That creamy, silky froth makes this drink darn-near perfect.

Happy Hour: Whiskey Sour | Relishing It

We get requests from our friends and family for this recipe all of the time, so I think it’s safe to say that it’s a winner. I honestly don’t even try to order this one when we’re out anymore because I know I’ll be disappointed– Radd has perfected it.  This version really is the best I’ve ever had.  Full stop. It doesn’t involve a long list of ingredients, but it does involve a few careful steps, which I’ll explain below.  Follow these steps and you’ll achieve a perfect whiskey sour complete with a dreamy foam-top.  You’ll see.  And you’ll love it.  Have a wonderful weekend, everyone–cheers!

Happy Hour: Whiskey Sour | Relishing It

The Recipe: Whiskey Sour

(serves 1)

2 ounces bourbon

1 ounce freshly-squeezed lemon juice (from 1-2 lemons)

1 ounce simple syrup

1/2 egg white

3-4 drops of Angostura bitters

Use a small strainer to collect the pulp and seeds from the freshly-squeezed lemon juice.  Next, in a shaker, combine the bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup, and 1/2 egg white.  Shake furiously (without ice) for 10 to 15 seconds in order to work the egg white into a nice froth.  Add sufficient ice to the shaker and shake again until chilled.  Pour into an Old Fashioned glass over ice.  Add a lemon twist and 3-4 drops of Angostura bitters to the froth.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!

Laurie

 

 

 

Curried Corn and Zucchini Fritters + Cilantro Mint Chutney | Relishing It

I realized this week that there is only one month left of my children’s summer vacation.  It was a punch to the stomach.   Only one month left to get out there and drink in the summer, to make memories.  They are 7 and 5, and for anyone that has or has had children of these ages, you probably understand why I feel that these ages are perfect.  They love to be around Radd and me, yet are independent enough to do things on their own.  All the hassles of tiny babes and toddlers are gone and we’re left to enjoy these perfectly sweet, intelligent, and hilarious tiny human beings.  Leaving the house is easy.  I remember when it used to be such a production:  diaper bags, extra clothes, baby food (in a cooler), etc.  Life is so effortless right now and I want to bottle this up and keep it forever.  Because it won’t be long before they’ll pick hanging out with their friends over being with us.  I know change is on the horizon and I can’t stop it.  I hate change– have I ever mentioned that before?  I do. It’s just how I am wired.

Curried Corn and Zucchini Fritters + Cilantro Mint Chutney | Relishing It

Curried Corn and Zucchini Fritters + Cilantro Mint Chutney | Relishing It

But not only is school break about to end, I’m grappling with the realization that I have one month left of my thirties.  A big (gulp) birthday is just around the corner.   I wish I could be one of those people that welcomed it, but again, I hate change.  So instead, I’m working on trying to embrace it as well as trying to enjoy the heck out of this next month.  We’ll be doing the things I love– just more of them.

Curried Corn and Zucchini Fritters + Cilantro Mint Chutney | Relishing It

Wait.  This is a food blog, right?  Okay, enough of the existential wrangling.  One of the things I’ll also be doing is tinkering in my kitchen, as I always do.  Recently, I made these fantastic corn and zucchini fritters.  If I’m being honest, I needed an acceptable way to eat the cilantro-mint chutney without simply drinking it and I figured a corn and zucchini fritter with an Indian flare would be perfect.  Indeed it was.  Eating a ton of vegetables that have been formed into a patty and crisped-up in olive oil is always a good idea.  These fritters are somewhat fragile, meaning you can’t pick them up with your hands.  I didn’t want to over-do the amount of flour that was in them.  They’re more of a “hash brown” texture.  And they are absolutely perfect with the cilantro-mint chutney.  I like to add some heat to mine with a jalapeño.  They are simple to make and come together rather quickly, which makes them perfect for a weeknight meal.  They are a wonderful meal on their own, or serve them alongside something else as a side.  Either way, I know you’re going to love them.

Curried Corn and Zucchini Fritters + Cilantro Mint Chutney | Relishing It

The Recipe: Curried Corn and Zucchini Fritters + Cilantro Mint Chutney

(makes 9 3-inch patties)

For the Corn and Zucchini Fritters:

2 ears of fresh sweet corn, cut off the cob

1 pound zucchini, coarsely grated

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (GF flour can be substituted)

1/2 teaspoon sweet curry powder (this is subtle, use more for more of a punch)

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

freshly ground pepper

1 egg, lightly beaten

olive oil, for frying

For the Cilantro Mint Chutney:

1/2 cup cilantro, slightly packed

1/2 cup fresh mint, slightly packed

3-4 tablespoons plain yogurt

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon freshly minced ginger

squeeze of lime

pinch of sugar

kosher salt to taste

minced jalapeño to taste (I used 1/4 of a large one)

To make the Cilantro Mint Chutney:  combine all of the ingredients in a food processor.  Blend until smooth.  Season properly with sugar, salt, and lime.  Set aside so the flavors can combine.

In a colander placed over a medium-sized bowl, combine the grated zucchini with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.  Let sit for 10 minutes.  Then gently squeeze the liquid from the zucchini with your hands. You want the zucchini to be as dry as possible, so it will crisp when fried.

In a medium-sized bowl, using your hands, gently combine the zucchini, corn, garlic, flour, curry powder, remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and pepper together.  Making sure to evenly coat the vegetables with the flour.  Then add the egg and mix again using your hands until everything is evenly moistened.

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a hot skillet–cast-iron worked well.  Form 3-inch patties that are about 1/2-inch thick with the zucchini mixture and gently place them in the skillet. Fry as many as will fit into the pan at a time.  Fry on medium-high heat until the underside is a deep golden brown, then flip.  Repeat until all of the mixture is gone.  Be sure to add more olive oil into the pan each time.  The fritters are best eaten immediately.  Top with the chutney and enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!

Laurie

 

 

 

Crunchy Refrigerator Pickles with Dill + Garlic | Relishing It

You know what’s awesome?  Handing your daughter a pickle and having her proclaim (without knowing where it was from) “This is amazin’!”.  That, my friends, is what I call winning.  She didn’t see me make the first batch of refrigerator pickles this year, but she’s been helping me make every batch since.  She is fascinated by the fact that it doesn’t take very long to transform a cucumber into a wonderful pickle.

Crunchy Refrigerator Pickles with Dill + Garlic | Relishing It

Crunchy Refrigerator Pickles with Dill + Garlic | Relishing It

I decided to wing-it this year and make up my own pickle recipe.  After waiting rather impatiently for my mom to send me her recipe (you’re in trouble, mother), I decided to conjure up my own version.  Sure, I’ve made lots of refrigerator pickles in the past, but nothing that kept me wanting to make the same batch again.  I was reaching too far, to be honest– over-complicating things.  I kept looking for something “interesting” that would blow me away.  Last year I even tried a version with mint, and while they were fine, they just were not what I was looking for.  I realized that what I was really after wasn’t complicated at all.  I wanted something that was really crunchy, fresh, garlicy, and had a clean dill taste.  Simple. Classic.  So, I stopped searching and just made them the way I wanted.  Duh.

Crunchy Refrigerator Pickles with Dill + Garlic | Relishing It

Crunchy Refrigerato Pickles with Garlic + Dill | Relishing It

The key for me to keeping them refreshing is to lessen the salt and vinegar amount a bit.  I remember this trick from my mom, which is why I probably loved her pickles so much.  Add a little filtered water to the vinegar and it creates the most refreshing brine.  Too much salt makes me want to stop eating something in a hurry, but just the right amount– and I can chomp on these babies all day long.  The dill and garlic are just what you’d expect them to be– delicious.  No surprises here.  I always add carrots to my refrigerator dills– they’re fantastic.  They take a bit longer to pickle than the cucumbers do.  Using young small cucumbers is the key to a crunchy pickle, as is not heating up the brine mixture.  Keep everything cold and you’ll have a fantastic crunch– I promise you.

Crunchy Refrigerator Pickles with Dill + Garlic | Relishing It

Crunchy Refrigerator Pickles with Dill + Garlic | Relishing It

These pickles are perfect to bring to a barbecue or neighborhood gathering.  Bring a huge bowl of them– they’ll disappear quickly.   There is nothing better than sinking your teeth into a cold, crunchy pickle on a hot summer evening.  National Night Out is next Tuesday in the US.  I plan on bringing a big bowl of these crunchy dills, and I think you should do the same.  Or just make a jar or two to keep in your refrigerator for when you need that tangy, satisfying crunch.

Crunchy Refrigerator Pickles with Dill + Garlic | Relishing It

The Recipe: Crunchy Refrigerator Pickles with Dill + Garlic

Smallish cucumbers, cut however you like– I prefer spears

carrots, cut into spears

3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt ( I use Diamond Crystal–and weirdly this matters.  Different salt.  Different results.)

fresh dill

white vinegar

Make as many jars as you want.  Fill each clean quart jar with cucumber spears, carrots, 3-4 cloves of garlic, and fresh dill. Make sure everything is packed in there tightly.  Sprinkle with kosher salt.  Pour vinegar into the jar until it is  3/4 full.  Then finish filling the jar with filtered water, leaving about 1/2-inch space at the top.  Cover with lid and gently shake to combine.  Refrigerate.  Pickles will be ready within a few hours, but it’s best to wait at least a day for optimum results.  Carrots often take a bit longer to fully become pickled, but I generally eat them before the fact.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing it!

Laurie

 

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