July 23, 2014
Stuffed Squash Blossoms
I've always been curious about squash blossoms, but I had never tried one. I've never had the nerve to take them off of my own squash plants, preferring to let them become their destined squash. A couple of summers ago I got some blossoms at the farmer's market with the intention of stuffing them, but they got pushed back to the abyss of the refrigerator and I forgot about them, until they turned up on my next fridge clean shriveled and beyond use. That little foray in to squash blossoms was the end of my curiosity until I saw them again recently at a local farmer's market. This time however I would be scrumptiously victorious!
Edible flowers have always amused me. When Alexis was three, she became obsessed with them. At the time we lived near a Whole Foods, and they usually had packages of them in their produce section, so we'd pick one up from time to time. A particular favorite of both of ours were Nasturtiums, which sort of have a peppery taste about them, and also violets, which tend to be a bit sweeter. I also have fond childhood memories of eating rose petals from my mom's roses with my sister. I even introduced this tradition to Alexis on one of our trips to Tennessee. If you're curious about some of the flowers that can be safely eaten, Wikipedia has a nice section on the topic.
Squash blossoms are a lovely, golden yellow color and are slightly sticky to the touch. Sometimes when you purchase the blossoms, they will have small squash attached to the end, but most of the time when you buy the blossoms, you'll get just the blossom. You can eat them raw, use them in stir fry, or as I have done, you can stuff, bread and fry them. Any way you make them though, they're a fun little treat.
What You'll Need:
1 small package of button or baby bella mushrooms, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 - 10.5 ounce package of goat cheese
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme, chopped
1 cup of panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup of parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
Extra virgin olive oil
In a medium sized skillet, sauté mushrooms and garlic in a little extra virgin olive oil, until tender. Set aside.
In a glass bowl add goat cheese and microwave on high for 10 seconds, to soften. Stir in mushroom/garlic mixture, thyme, a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper until well incorporated. Set aside.
Add about an inch of olive oil to a deep skillet and heat over medium heat until hot.
While your oil is heating, mix breading and then stuff/bread your blossoms.
To make the breading, in a pie dish stir together panko crumbs and parmesan. Depending on how salty your parmesan is, you might want to add a bit of sea salt too. The easiest way to decide is to take a taste of the breading/cheese mixture and see if it needs a bit of salt. You can also add in some black pepper if wanted.
Beat your eggs in a separate dish.
You can stuff the blossoms one of two ways...
First you can fill a pastry bag with the mushroom/cheese mixture and gently pipe the mixture down in to the blossoms until each one is relatively full...
Or you can gently tear the blossom down one side and put a dollop of the mushroom mixture in each, then wrap the blossom back together, using the cheese mixture to stick it closed. This is the method I used.
Once the blossoms are filled roll the blossom in the beaten egg to coat and then roll the egg washed blossom in the bread crumbs until completely covered.
Place breaded blossom in the oil and cook for about 20 to 30 seconds until the side in the oil is browned. Then slowly and gently rotate the blossom in the oil until all sides are browned. It takes 1 - 2 minutes per blossom depending on its size. I usually brown 4 "sides" and once it is browned all over place cooked blossom on a paper towel lined plate to drain and then serve while still hot.
Notes: You could play around with the goat cheese mixture and add onions or other herbs. You could add a mixture of cheeses, blue cheese would be heavenly. You could also replace the goat cheese with cream cheese if you liked. It's a fun dish to play around with. If you have any of the cheese/mushroom mixture left over, it makes a good spread on bagels.
July 21, 2014
Where to Eat: The Main Cup, Middletown, Maryland
There is a restaurant in Middletown, Maryland that I have wanted to blog about for a while for my Where to Eat section, but as you can tell I haven't been blogging much lately. Today Alexis and I ate lunch there and I remembered to take some pictures, so today is the day! Let me tell you about The Main Cup.
The food there is great, but we'll get to that in a minute, first let's talk a little about the ambiance. Ambiance...who cares? I do, and so should you. This restaurant is in a charming historic building on Main Street in Middletown and you can read a little bit about it's history here.
It has charming brick walls, art from local artists you can purchase and a nice homey feel. As you can see above, Alexis likes to sit at the table with the leather couches. They open early, have free wifi and I've been known to pop in to write in the mornings, especially when we lived on that side of the county, and enjoy a muffin or bagel, along with some hot tea. It has a laid back attitude and friendly service that makes it a very pleasant place to stop.
Now let's talk food....
Alexis and I usually go for lunch, but Jamison and I have gone for dinner before too. I've never ordered anything I didn't like. If you want to start out with a fabulous appetizer, I recommend the buffalo or crab dips. Their salads are fabulous, and so are their soups. Their burgers and pizza are extremely good too. They also have some really great fish and chips, some of the best I've ever had.
One of my favorite things to get is their Reuben sandwich with sweet potato fries. It is perfection, especially the fries. Alexis likes to get their chicken tenders with regular fries:
They even have a fabulous selection of desserts. Alexis is particularly fond of the lava cake and I like the carrot cake a lot too. Today we tried the Smith Island Cake, which is Maryland's official cake, the more you know! ;)
So if you're in, or around, Middletown, stop by and check it out, or even drive over...it's worth it I promise. Even now that we live across the county we still pop back over and now and then. You won't be sorry you did.
May 23, 2014
Cocktail Time: Grown Up Jungle Juice
I have to admit, when it comes to cocktails, I like fruity drinks. In fact the less of the alcohol you can taste, the more happy I am with the concoction. For a while now I've been looking for a fruity, adult punch type drink, and I've never quite come across what I was looking for, so I made this. This, lovely, fruity combo that really packs a punch.
When I was finished I let Jamison taste it, even though this isn't his type of drink at all and his face was priceless. He informed me this is similar "hunch punch" and was often served at frat parties he attended with friends. I had heard of hunch punch, but someone never actually tried during my years in college, probably because I was a huge dork, and I went to a frat party all of once in my time at UT. I wasn't impressed and drank nothing. I might have been there for all of 30 minutes, if that long. My roommate insisted I go along with her and we walked around Frat Row after a football game. The whole thing didn't make of an impression on me, other than not being impressed. It's funny how that notion sticks with you. I think it was the equivalent of, "Hey, hold my beer and watch this!" and that just wasn't me thing.
Anyway...I got sidetracked again didn't I? I'm good at that. ;)
Another thing this reminds me of is the Jungle Juice they used to serve in the school cafeteria when I was growing up. I don't know why, but it does. It's probably the Kool-Aide component come to think of it; I think Jungle Juice was a fruit punch as well, which would explain the similarity. The idea of the Jungle Juice stuck though, and thus Grown-Up Jungle Juice was born.
This is definitely a drink to share. It makes a large pitcher of goodness, and did I mention how strong it was? Of course I did! ;)
What You'll Need:
1 lid full of Kool-Aide Fruit Punch mix
1 - 12 ounce frozen pineapple juice
4 cups of lemonade
1 cup of peach schnapps
1 cup of dark rum
1 cup of triple sec
1 cup of limoncello or limoncino
1 cup of Everclear
1 bottle of sweet red wine (Note: I used a bottle of muscadine wine from Savannah Oaks Winery in Tennessee.) 1 cup of whipped cream vodka
1 cup of Absolut Mandarin vodka
First off, again let me warn you...this stuff is STRONG!! You've got a lot of alcohol here, mixed with a little juice, and a splash of Kool-Aide for fun. This is a stay where you are sort of drink, not a have a glass and go drive sort of libation. Stay where you are, have fun with friends, tell some stories, relax, but not drive. Do not drive.
And yes the Kool-Aide is a little low brow, but who cares...this is a fun drink, not a sophisticated sort of deal. If you want sophisticated, make some sangria. This is more of a beachy, party, have fun, be silly with your friends sort of drink.
Now let's make some Jungle Juice!
You'll need a very large pitcher, at least a gallon. Add all of your ingredients and stir to mix. Chill at least an hour before serving. If you want to make it really fun you can put it in the freezer and let it get slushy, like I did as you can see in the picture above, which might take a while depending on the temperature of your freezer.
Notes: You can different kinds of juice if you like. You could even leave out the Kool-Aide and add a bottle of cherry juice instead. If it's too sweet, you can water it down with a little lemon-lime soda or even plain sparkling water.
April 25, 2014
You may have noticed that a few entries that were posted in the past few weeks have disappeared. My host can't explain what happened, or tell me where those entries went. I don't have them backed up, something I will do in the future, but I'm leery of posting new content, only to have it disappear again, so we're currently at a stand still. I'm looking at other hosting options and things are up in the air at the moment. We'll see if this post stays or goes. Time will tell.
In the meantime I thought I'd share a picture of me in my first kitchen. Wasn't I fabulous?
Also, did you know that Dianne's Dishes has a Facebook page? Check it out and become a fan if you haven't already. You know you want to!