Crab Stuffed Squash Blossoms Fried in Olive Oil

Posted by Rachel Dougherty on

 

Spring.  It is an epic time in the kitchen namely because we have access to fleeting ingredients like green garlic, ramps, and squash blossoms.  This recipe harnesses several delightful seasonal ingredients and weaves them in to a flavorful and eye-catching culinary tapestry. 

As complicated as it may look at the outset, there are really just a handful of ingredients that come together to make this dish shine, and as you would expect, olive oil is a among them.  

Ingredients For the Filling

1 small shallot chopped
1 green onion, chopped
1 tablespoon UP EVOO oil 
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup Mascarpone
1 large egg beaten
8 oz. jumbo lump crab meat (Dungeness, if you can get it), picked through for shells
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or to taste

12 medium to large fresh zucchini squash blossoms 
 
For the Batter
1 cup seltzer water
1 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
a pinch of salt
 
UP EVOO for frying 
 
Combine the shallot, onion, olive oil, lemon juice, mascarpone, egg, and salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse a few times to finely chop the ingredients and combine.  Place the filling in a medium size bowl, and with the utmost of care, gently fold in the crab meat being very careful not to break it up too much.  Adjust the seasoning, cover, and refrigerate the filling for 1/2 hour.
In a shallow dish or bowl whisk together the seltzer water, flour, baking powder, and salt.
Heat 2 inches of UP EVOO up to 350 F. in a heavy bottom pot or pan. 
 
To Assemble
Make sure the blossoms are clean of debris.  Gently remove the flower stamens.  Using a spoon, gently fill each blossom with approximately 1 heaping tablespoon of chilled crab filling.  Gently twist the ends of the petals to seal.  Swirl each filled blossom in the batter rotating it in the same direction that you twisted the petals so as not to undo your blossom.  Place in the heated oil and fry each blossom for approximately 2 minutes, turning once until light golden brown on all sides.  
 
Remove the blossoms from the oil to a rack to drain.  Serve warm.
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Cardamom & Persian Lime Olive Oil Cookies

Posted by Rachel Dougherty on

 

These delicious little cookies are loaded with flavor despite their short ingredient list. And, they're a snap to make. Enjoy them with a fresh pot of tea or your morning coffee.  This recipe is dairy-free.

Ingredients
3 cups unbleached organic flour
2 cups granulated cane sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons green cardamom seeds, freshly ground
1 cup Persian Lime infused olive oil
2 large eggs, whisked

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl, add the sugar, oil, and eggs.  Beat on medium speed until thick and creamy, about 3 minutes.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour and remaining dry ingredients.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in three additions beating in between additions until no dry flour remains.

Scoop approximately two teaspoons of dough per cookie, and place the rounded mounds at about 1 1/2" intervals onto a well greased or parchment lined cookie sheet pan.  Bake in the center of the oven for 10 minutes.

Increase the heat to 425 F and bake for an additional 2 minutes to aid in creating a crackly golden brown exterior.  Remove the cookies to a rack to cool.  Repeat with the remainder of the dough.

Yields about 48 cookies

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FRESH SNAPPER EN PAPILLOTE WITH EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

Posted by Rachel Dougherty on

 

Don't like frying fish because of the lingering odor it can leave?  Looking for a fast, fresh, delicious way to work more seafood in to your diet?  Hate endless clean-up after a meal?  Want to serve an upscale recipe that looks like you toiled endlessly to produce it?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, Then I've got the recipe for you!  Pictured on the left, are fantastically fresh snapper fillets simply dressed in a little fresh squeezed lemon juice, white wine, lemon slices, sliced spring onions, sea salt, fresh cracked pepper and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

The snapper and a ingredients are then tightly wrapped in a tidy little parchment packet that bakes in the oven for a mere 15 minutes.  The fish gently steams as it cooks and the ingredients meld together to form a self basting liquid that bathes the fish as it cooks. 

Ingredients
1 pound (about 4 - 4oz.) fresh fish fillets such as red snapper, hake, flounder or sole
4 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

1/4 cup white wine
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
4 tsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 thin lemon slice for each fillet
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Special equipment needed:  Parchment paper

Preheat the oven to 350.

Arrange each fish fillet in a large square of parchment paper.  Season the fish with salt and pepper, to taste. Top each fillet with one lemon slice, one tablespoon white wine, one teaspoon lemon juice, two teaspoons sliced spring onion, and one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Fold the parchment paper around the edges tightly in 1/4-inch folds to create a half moon shape.  Press as you crimp and fold to seal the packets well, or steam might escape.

Arrange the packets on a baking sheet. Bake until the fish is cooked through, about 12-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. To serve, cut open the packets and serve directly in the parchment on a plate or remove the fish to the plate using a spatula, being sure you don't leave the juices behind. Serve along side rice, pasta, quinoa, or with a fresh salad for an ultra healthy, delicious meal. 

Serves 4

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Honey-Serrano Vinegar Pickled Beets

Posted by Rachel Dougherty on

 

This is an easy recipe and it draws its unique, and addictive flavor from marrying the inherent earthiness of beets with the spicy-sweet tang of hand crafted honey-serrano vinegar.

That being said, you could substitute the honey-serrano vinegar with many other options including champagne, white balsamic, Sicilian Lemon balsamic or honey-ginger white balsamic.  Experiment and see what you like best.  Below, please find my recipe for Honey-Serrano Pickled Beets.

Ingredients
2 lbs. small to medium sized beets, scrubbed, washed, and trimmed
1 tablespoon high polyphenol extra virgin olive oil
Approximately 2 cups honey-serrano vinegar

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Wash and scrub the beets thoroughly.  Place the whole beets on to the baking sheet and enclose the beets with another sheet of foil.  Roast the beets for approximately an hour, depending on size.  If using large beets, it may take up to 2 hours for the beets to roast.  Check to see if they're done by piercing the beet with a paring knife.  If it slides in to the center of the beet with little resistance, the beets are done.

Allow the beets to cool and then slip off the skins.  You can also use a paring knife to help peel them.  Cut the beets in to 1" wedges, circles, or crinkle cut.  Place the beets in to a glass jar with a lid and cover with 2 cups of honey-serrano vinegar or enough vinegar to just cover.  Refrigerate the beets for 24 hours, and enjoy.
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Arancini fried in olive oil

Posted by Rachel Dougherty on

 

They say you can't fry with extra virgin olive oil. "They" say "it's unhealthy" and that it burns creating toxic byproducts.  Some folks say, for instance, that "one should only use extra virgin olive oil for finishing and cold applications, and use cheaper, refined olive oil or other types of vegetable oils to fry and cook with."  You've heard this mantra repeated by chefs, perhaps prominent public figures and even Food Network celebrities.  You might've even heard this from dieticians and those who seem like a good source of information on the topic of culinary applications with extra virgin olive oil.  Well, guess what?  "They" are wrong, sort of.

What's more than likely, is that "they" are using poor quality, old, and/or adulterated extra virgin olive oil.  If the FFA of an olive oil is over .5, will it smoke at lower temperatures?  Heck yes!  If it's old, oxidized, and devoid of good phenolic content, will it stave off the formation of toxic aldehydes that typically form in other types of cooking oils when heated?  Nope, at least not as effectively!  So the key is knowing the crush date and chemistry of the extra virgin olive oil you are using.

Most TV celebrity chefs would go blank if asked to define FFA, oleic acid, or phenols and the role they play in the stability and health benefit of extra virgin olive oil.  Most doctors and dieticians are well behind the curve on their practical knowledge of the chemical parameters of extra virgin olive oil, and which ones are particularly important when we look at nutrients, stability, and how they affect suitability for various culinary applications.

*Disclaimer:  In the making of the deep fried risotto croquette above, no Up Extra Virgin Olive Oil was made to smoke, nor were toxic aldehydes formed

Truffled Wild Mushroom Risotto & Arancini in Baby Arugula UP Pesto

Porcini/Shitake Mushroom Stock
5 cups water brought to a simmer
2 cups of a mixture of dried Porcini mushrooms and Shitake mushrooms broken in to pieces or coarsely chopped

Bring the water just up to a simmer and then add the mushrooms.  Allow to steep for 30 minutes before using in recipes.  Strain before using.

Make the risotto:

5 cups mushroom stock

3 tablespoons UP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground pepper 
1 1/2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice  
1/2 cup white wine
1 teaspoon white or black truffle oil  
1 pound mixed wild mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese  
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer. Keep warm. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and add the mushrooms.  Season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.   Add the shallots and saute for another few minutes until the mushrooms are nicely caramelized and the shallots are cooked through and translucent.
Add the rice and cook, stirring until well coated with olive oil and beginning to toast. Add the wine and cook, stirring until the wine is absorbed. Add 1 cup of the warm stock and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until nearly absorbed. Continue adding the stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly, until it is nearly absorbed between additions. The risotto is done when it is opaque and just the sauce that has formed from the rice, creamy.  About 20 minutes total. Add the truffle oil and cheese in at the very end, and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. 
Eat this now using any leftovers for the recipe below.

The Arancini 
3 cups cooled, leftover risotto from the recipe above or your own
1 1/2 cups plain bread crumbs
1 large egg, beaten
6 oz. mozzarella fresca (fresh mozzarella in water) 
UP Extra Virgin Olive Oil for deep frying I recommend Oro Bailen or Melgarejo's new oils for this 
Mix together 1/2 cup of bread crumbs and the beaten egg with the cooled risotto.  Heat 2" of UP Extra Virgin Olive Oil to 350 F. in a heavy pot with relatively high sides.  Preheat the oven to 250 F.  
Place the breadcrumbs in a shallow dish or plate for rolling the arancini and cut the mozzarella into small 1/2" cubes.
Using a scoop or spoon, portion out 2 tablespoons of risotto mixture and roll into a ball.  Gently push one piece of mozzarella into the center of each ball and re-roll between your hands to encase the cheese.  Roll the ball in the bread crumbs to fully coat and deep fry until golden brown.  Place the fried hot ball of arancini on a rack and hold in the oven while frying the rest.  Serve hot with the cheese melting in the center.   

Baby Arugula Pesto
3 cups baby arugula washed and dried
1/2 cup UP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice  
1/2 cup grated Pecorino cheese
1 large clove garlic chopped
Sea salt to taste

Add all of the ingredients to the the container of a a blender or food processor.  Pulse to combine and adjust seasoning with salt if desired.  Serve with the arancini above or with bread, pasta, vegetables.... you name it.
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