Category Archives: Spring

Zucchini Pancakes

Zucchini Pancakes

In a big family the first child is kind of like the first pancake. If it’s not perfect, that’s okay, there are a lot more coming along. – Antonin Scalia

Pancakes were a special treat for me as a child; I only enjoyed them during overnight stays at grandma’s house. Sunday morning we’d wake up early and she’d pull out her very old very long griddle and we’d mix up some bisquik pancakes.

It wasn’t until my kiddo was born that I detoured from the typical box mix I remembered from my childhood. I took the time to read the box labels and I had that ‘ah-ha’ moment. I realized… I can make this myself, allowing full control of the ingredients!

I set out, scouring the interwebs to find a solid go to pancake. After testing a few variations, this has become our family’s go-to recipe. You can incorporate any fruit or vegetable… make the basic batter and fold in blueberries, sliced strawberries, apples, shredded carrots, or even zucchini. Yes, zucchini… just think zucchini bread. My three year old who once was the champion eater of our home, eating everything in sight, now only eats specific items; pancakes being one of them. To ensure he’s getting the most out of his pancakes I incorporate zucchini when in season. I hope to find and test a gluten free recipe that is comparable. For now…

Here is your basic pancake recipe with a zucchini variation… zucchini pancakes, enjoy!

zucchini pancakes

Zucchini Pancakes
Makes 12 to 15 zucchini pancakes depending on size
* = organic
^ = local

1.5 cups unbromated all purpose flour *
3 tablespoons cane sugar *
1/2 teaspoon aluminum free baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon chia seeds * (optional)
1 teaspoon flax seeds * (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla *
1/4 cup melted butter *
2 eggs *^
2/3 cup milk *
2 small zucchini, shredded *^

Step 1: In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and seeds). Give a good stir to ensure all ingredients are well incorporated.
zucchini pancakes

Step 2: Slowly incorporate one at a time, the melted butter, eggs, vanilla, and milk. You’ll end up with a thick lumpy batter. Here is my kiddo helping to crack the eggs (2nd egg was not a success).
IMG_3304 v2

Step 3: Wash and trim 2 small zucchinis. Fine shred the zucchinis into a clean kitchen towel. Once shredding is complete, twist towel to drain out the extra liquid from the zucchinis. It is important to do this step otherwise your batter will be runny and the final pancake product will have too much moisture. Fold in till well incorporated but don’t over mix.
zucchini pancakes

Step 4: Prepare your cooking surface accordingly. I have a small griddle, which is a flat non stick skillet cooking surface but you can use a frying pan or cast iron skillet if available – prepare accordingly. Do not to over crowd the cooking surface to ensure the heat is maintained at medium to medium high. Bubbles will form at the surface when the pancake is ready to flip – between 3 and 5 minutes but make sure to check mid way to ensure your pancake doesn’t burn.
zucchini pancakes

Time to enjoy… topped with a little organic grassfed butter, or some fresh maple syrup, or our favorite some homemade jam.
zucchini pancakes

zucchini pancakes

zucchini pancakes

Homemade Peach Pie

Homemade Peach Pie

“I don’t think a really good pie can be made without a dozen or so children peeking over your shoulder as you stoop to look in at it every little while.” ~ John Gould

homemade peach pie

As a child, I remember in my grandmother’s backyard an apple, apricot, and peach tree. Every summer the tiny peach tree would provide just enough fruit for grandma to make a few trays of peach bars, peach cobbler, and homemade peach pie. I remember her making the peach treats in the morning after picking the fruit and by late afternoon the tray holding the gooey peach goodness would have been picked over leaving a half mangled bar and several crumbs.

Peach season was short-lived and as I got older the tree seemed to get smaller and the fruit arrived less and less. The peach tree is now no longer there but it still provides me great memories.

Today, I have two peach trees in my backyard. I look forward to those beautiful peach blossoms and the bounty of fruit we’ll receive; and when we do we’ll be making peach bars, peach cobblers, peach jam, canning peaches for use later in the year, and of course homemade peach pie!
homemade peach pie

Here is my take on a summer favorite in our household, homemade peach pie. I use fresh ginger and spices to give this pie an extra kick that my family loves… homemade peach pie, enjoy!

* = organic/non-gmo
^ = local

Homemade Peach Pie
375 degrees (f) 45-60 minutes bake time

CRUST
1 1/2 cups flour *
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar *
1/2 cup butter or lard or tallow, chilled, cut into pieces *^
4 tablespoons ice water
1 tablespoon white vinegar or vodka, chilled

In a food processor with dough blade or stand mixer with a dough hook add flour, salt, sugar, and butter. Mix till the flour turns into a crumbling texture. In a measuring cup add vinegar to water and place in the freezer for a couple of minutes to get the water ice-cold. Remove the water from the freezer (do not let it freeze). With your mixer on medium speed, slowly pour/drizzle the water into the flour/butter mixture until the dough barely holds together when pinched. Remove the dough from the bowl and roll into a ball. Cut the ball in 1/2, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 60 minutes or overnight.
homemade peach pie

PEACH FILLING
5 cups fresh peaches, skinned/pitted/sliced **quick peeling method listed below** *^
Juice of 1/2 a lemon *^
1 cup sugar *
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg *
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon *
1/4 teaspoon fresh ginger, chopped *
1/4 cup flour *
2 tablespoons butter – used for topping before top crust is added *
CRUST TOPPING
1 tablespoon sugar – used for topping crust before baking *
1 tablespoon cream + 1 egg white – used to brush top crust before baking *^

In a bowl mix peach slices, sugar, flour, spice, and lemon juice. Place in refrigerator while you roll out the dough.

**QUICK PEELING METHOD**
Make a small slit in the bottom of each peach and drop into a pot of near boiling water for 30 – 45 seconds. Remove peaches from the hot water and immediately drop into an ice bath. The more ripe the peach, the skin should slide right off. From here you can de-pit and slice.

PIE ASSEMBLY
Remove one of the balls of dough from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a 12 inch circle. Keep lifting up the dough and turning it a quarter turn as you roll, rolling from the center of the dough outwards to ensure equal thickness around the circle. Fold the dough in half and transfer to a 9 inch pie pan. Remove the excess dough by pinching it down along the edge of the pan. Remove the peach filling from the refrigerator…
homemade peach pie

Place pie filling into pie shell and top with butter.
homemade peach pie

Remove the 2nd ball of dough from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough same as before.
Cut dough in 1/2 inch wide strips.
homemade peach pie

Begin by laying horizontal strips, 1/2 inch apart, across the top of the pie. Then take one vertical strip at a time, laying over/under, creating a braided pattern. You will have to carefully lift each horizontal strip as you braid in the vertical. There will be roughly 5-6 strips of dough horizontal and 5-6 strips of dough vertical. Remove excess dough by pinching off the edges.
homemade peach pie

With the remaining dough, roll out 2 separate strips of dough to cover the pinched edges. Create a “worm”, with your fingers, roll the dough from the center out. Creating a 12 inch long thin roll that will go around the edge of the pie plate, covering the pinched edges. With your pinky finger, create an indent every 1/4 inch for a simple decorative edge.
homemade peach pie

homemade peach pie

With a silicone basting brush (BPA free, leaves no stray strands), brush the entire pie with a thin layer (no puddles) of cream/egg white to create a shiny deep color to the crust after baking. For a deeper shine, add a sprinkle of sugar after basting.
homemade peach pie

Your pie is now ready for the oven. To avoid spill over, place the pie on a lined baking sheet (parchment paper or tin foil). Place in a pre-heated 375 degree oven and bake for 45 – 60 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. If the edges of the crust are getting too dark before cooking time is up, cover with pieces of tin foil.
homemade peach pie

Remove pie from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for 30-60 minutes before serving. Serve with a heaping scoop of fresh vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream… enjoy your fresh baked homemade peach pie!
homemade peach pie

Homemade Almond Basil Pesto

Homemade Almond Basil Pesto

It’s that time of year again when the seasons are in the midst of changing. Where the days are still warm but the evenings cool quickly letting you know summer is giving way to autumn. Folks are planning for a fall bounty and harvesting the last of their early summer gardens. Garden herbs like basil may be ready for that south-facing window or a complete harvest. If your basil plants grow like mine, then you’re left with a giant bush of a plant and more basil you know what to do with. The fastest, easiest use that comes to mind is pesto! I see pesto as a luxury item given the cost of the oils, nuts, and cheese. After doing some research and playing around with different ingredients, I found a pesto recipe that was reasonable for my family and allowed me to use my fresh basil harvest to its fullest; homemade almond basil pesto.

For my family, almond basil pesto is the go-to-quick-fix meal. I’m able to freeze 1/2 pint jars. Half of a 1/2 pint jar is the perfect amount to cover a pound of pasta and its acompanying ingredients such as vegetables and a meat, pork, or fowl. Know that almond basil pesto is not just good for pasta. We like to toast a baguette and top it with pesto, oven roasted tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese. Need a flavor boost on your grilled steak… smother it in pesto right before it comes off the grill. Since pesto is composed of a fresh herb, you’ll want to add pesto on as a finishing ingredient. Right before serving or just as you’ve turned off the heat… add your almond basil pesto. It keeps the flavors light and fresh… yes, even if it has been frozen. I found that the pesto freezes exceptionally well and defrosts without a loss of texture, taste, or quality. I’ve read from others that they’ve found challenges with the cheese loosing quality during freezing. If you’re worried about quality, keep the cheese out of your frozen mixture and add back in when you thaw.

A traditional pesto is made with fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and a hard cheese such as Parmigiano Reggiano. Unless I know how to extract the pine nuts from my grandmother’s pine tree cones, there is no way I could afford to buy enough pine nuts to accommodate a recipe that includes the amount of basil I had. Instead, I chose a variety of raw local almonds that I’ve roasted myself. I’ve found a couple California olive oils that are well priced and won’t break my budget if I use a couple of cups. Finding hormone free cheese that is reasonably priced has been a challenge but we’ve found some varieties. A typical Parmigiano is used for a traditional pesto, but any dry aged hard cheese will do… pecorino, Asiago, even dry aged jack… it is all in the flavors you’d like to create. An almond and Asiago combination will give a sharp bite to the pesto where as a walnut Parmigiano will have a lighter, smoother texture.

Have fun and play with the flavors while harnessing the freshness of summer with the last of your fresh basil harvest… almond basil pesto, enjoy!

homemade almond basil pesto

* = organic, hormone free, gmo free
^ = local

Homemade Almond Basil Pesto
yield: 4 – 1/2 pint freezer jars

■ 3 cups, packed, fresh basil *^
■ 3/4 cup cubed or shredded dry aged cheese of choice (i.e. Parmigiano Reggiano, romano, Asiago, dry Monterey jack) *
■ 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil *^
■ 1/3 – 1/2 cup nut of choice (i.e. pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews) ^
■ 2 medium-sized garlic cloves *^
■ juice of 1/2 a lemon *^
■ kosher salt and ground pepper to taste
■ Special Equipment: Food processor

Step 1: in a preheated 350 (f) degree oven, place raw nuts (in this case almonds) on a cookie sheet and roast for 10 minutes
homemade almond basil pesto

Step 2: After the nuts have cooled, place in a food processor and pulse until you’ve achieved a corse chop. Then add in your garlic and cheese (shredded or cubed will work) and continue to pulse until you’ve achieved a fine chop.
homemade almond basil pesto

Step 3: now add in the basil and pulse a few more times to combine the herbs with the cheese & nut mixture.
homemade almond basil pesto

Step 4: While the food processor is running, slowly stream in the olive oil. Half way through stop the processor, scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula and add in the juice of the lemon, kosher salt, and pepper…

Step 5: Finish processing the olive oil to your desired consistency and adding kosher salt and pepper to your desired taste…
homemade almond basil pesto

Step 6: Once processing is complete, you can pack the pesto into 1/2 pint freezer jars. Leave a 1/4 inch head space and top with a drizzle of olive oil before placing on the lid. These jars will keep in the freezer up to 1 year and in the refrigerator for up to a month.
homemade almond basil pesto

To Defrost: place frozen jar in refrigerator and defrost overnight or place in a bowl of luke warm water for a more immediate defrost (usually takes an hour or less).
homemade almond basil pesto

Homemade Almond Basil Pesto… enjoy!

homemade almond basil pesto

homemade almond basil pesto

Blog post originally written by The Sustainable Sweet & Savory Gourmet on September 19th, 2012 at site: http://thesustainablesweetandsavorygourmet.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/homemade-roasted-almond-fresh-basil-pesto/