Skip to content

Mozza’s Oregano Salad Dressing

In our family we NEVER buy bottled dressing. We make a vinaigrette with the addition of a Dijon mustard or with ketchup and secret spices. I now dry about 40 cups of Greek Oregano each summer and this recipe is perfect as it uses a lot of the fragrant herb. I came across it in the Mozza Cookbook. I used more vinegar. Enough to cover and blend with the oregano and 2 1/2 TBS. was not enough. Yum.

Oregano vinaigrette
2 1⁄2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
2 garlic cloves, 1 smashed and 1 grated or minced
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 1⁄2 cups extra-virgin olive oil

“Can’t Get Away From Zucchini”

A new country western song is now rolling in my head: “I can’t get away from my zucchini.”
My postings seem to be so filled with zucchini recipes, but luckily they are all great and in many you don’t even know that you are eating zucchini. This recipe, while so simple, is totally perfect and beautiful.

Budín de elote (Corn pudding with Zucchini)

Servings: 8 to 10

Ingredients:

3 cups fresh corn kernels (3 to 4 ears)

1 1/2 cups zucchini cut into 1/4-inch dice (3 to 4 slender zucchini)

1/3 cup flour

3 eggs

3 egg yolks

3 cups heavy cream

2 teaspoons kosher salt

Directions:

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees with a rack positioned in the center. Butter a 9-inch casserole.

2. Place the corn and zucchini in a bowl and toss with the flour to evenly cover. Spread into the casserole.

3. Wipe the bowl clean and combine the eggs and yolks and whisk briefly. Add the cream and salt and whisk until fully incorporated. Pour over the vegetables.

4. Bake about 1 hour, until lightly browned on top; it should feel like a firm pillow. Allow to cool 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Each of 10 servings: 342 calories; 6 grams protein; 15 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 30 grams fat; 18 grams saturated fat; 223 mg. cholesterol; 283 mg. sodium.

It’s Zucchini Season Again

We grew our biggest Zucchini ever and it all happened while we were away on vacation this summer. I am always trying to find new ways to use the “big fruit” in some way. Here are 2 great ones. I have made various Zucchini bread recipes over the years and this one is no fail and produces a very moist cake. If the zucchini is large, slice open and de-seed before proceeding with the recipe. In fact, I just made a double recipe and mailed two loaves to the sons!

Paula Deen’s Zucchini Bread (I must give the Food network credit)
Ingredients

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs, beaten

1/3 cup water

2 cups grated zucchini

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, nutmeg, baking soda, cinnamon and sugar. In a separate bowl, combine oil, eggs, water, zucchini and lemon juice. Mix wet ingredients into dry, add nuts and fold in. Bake in 2 standard loaf pans, sprayed with nonstick spray, for 1 hour, or until a tester comes out clean. Alternately, bake in 5 mini loaf pans for about 45 minutes.

I leave out the nuts and usually add an extra cup of zucchini.

The DR. is IN

Taking basic foods and “doctoring” them for more taste and flavor is a favorite activity of mine. For example, buy the artichoke and jalapeno dip at Costco. Place half of the container in a mixing bowl. Saute 1 large, thinly sliced sweet onion in olive oil. Add to the dip, along with 1 cup mayo (light is fine) and 1 cup grated Parmesan. Mix well. Spread on sliced french bread. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes and then broil to finish until golden. YUM!

More Zucchini

More Zucchini in the summer garden
After I gifted my friend Lorita with an extra large Zucchini from the bounty of our summer garden,  she shared this recipe with me after I tasted her delicious solution for the oversize monster of a vegetable.

Lorita’s Zucchini Soup

1 large can or box of chicken broth, Add 2 cups of water
4 medium zucchini or 1 very large (if large, de-seed), cut into chunks30 oz. chicken broth
1 bunch green onion, chopped
1 tsp fresh dill weed leaves (or more if you like dill)
Salt and Pepper

Combine above, bring to boil and then simmer for 30 minutes.
Add: 8oz cream cheese and 8oz. sour cream to above (OK to use light versions)

Puree all and serve warm with salt and pepper adjusted for taste. (Can easily double. This serves 6).

 

Chocolate Mousse Pie

For years this was my go to special evening dessert. It is easy to make, but delicious and rich to taste. You need a number of bowls, an electric mixer, and the presentation is prettier if you have a spring form pan. You can also make ahead and freeze it – thaw before serving.

Chocolate Mousse Pie

Crust:

3 cups chocolate wafer cookies, process to crumbs (or place in plastic bag and crush with rolling pin until fine)
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter

Combine cookie crumbs and melted butter in bowl and press onto bottom of 10 inch spring form pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes while you make the rest of the pie.

Filling:

16 oz. good quality semi-sweet chocolate
2 eggs
4 egg yolks4 egg whites
2 cups whipping cream
6 Tbl. powdered sugar

Melt chocolate in top of double boiler. Let cool to lukewarm. Add whole eggs and mix well. Add yolk and mix well again. Transfer to a large bowl.
Whip cream with powdered sugar.
Beat egg whites until stiff.

Gently fold the cream and egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Start with a 1/4 of each. When all is mixed pour on top of the cookie crust. Chill for at least 6 hours or overnight.

To serve. Make more whip cream (1 cup with 2 tbl. sugar is good)  and place a slice of the mousse pie on a plate (use a sharp knife) add a dollop of cream.

 

 

Tomato/To-mato

The tomatoes are literally bursting at the seams this week with the minor heat wave. We over planted and have 500 on the vine now in early October. I love my Cuisinart food processor – now 30 years old, yet still chopping away and what better time to use it but during tomato season for some gazpacho.

Gazpacho

Gazpacho is one of those dishes that requires innovation. I am using much of what remains in our fall garden. Tomatoes (San Marzano, Beef Steak, Cherokee Purple, Sweet 100’s), Lemon Cucumbers, Green and Red peppers, Walla Walla Onions (or red onion), Basil, Parsley, Hot peppers, Garlic.

Chop the above into small chunks, but do not overdo it, using the Cusinart, try to have about 1 cup chopped of the tomatoes, cucumbers (remove seeds), peppers, and onions. Add about 1 chopped tablespoon each of the Basil, Parsley, Hot pepper, and garlic. Add about 2+ cups of tomato sauce (pre-made from your tomato overload) and 1/4cup each of olive oil and red wine vinegar. At the end add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and generously add salt, and pepper to taste. Let your mind soar with other additions (chopped radish, green onion, chopped and pre-cooked zucchini, chives, celery, hot sauce, red pepper flakes… ) You can also roast the peppers, onions, and tomatoes before chopping for a smokey flavor. AND if you do not like chunky, you can puree the entirety.

Mix well and let chill overnight or for at least an hour. Serve cold.

Lamb Burgers and Tzatziki

Lamb burgers are my favorite burgers on the grill. I tweaked a few recipes to create this one when I wanted the lamb to be a little less dry. My friend Gail came home from our trip to Greece and taste tasted a lot of recipes to find the perfect Tzatziki.

Lamb Burgers

Ingredients

2 pounds ground lamb
1/2 small sweet onion or green onion, minced  (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried
3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3/4 cup Greek yogurt
Sea Salt and pepper

Directions

Make burgers: In a medium bowl, use a fork or your hands to gently combine all ingredients. Make into 4 or 6 patties, about 3/4 inch thick. Grill until medium-rare.

Serve without a bun with a side of Tzatziki or on a bun with a good sliced tomato.

Gail’s favorite Tzatziki

1 pint Greek Yogurt
2 medium cucumbers,(or one large english) seeded and diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/3 C  Olive oil
1 Tbl red wine vinegar
1 T finely chopped fresh dill
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Peel cucumbers, then cut in half lengthwise and take a small spoon and scrape out seeds. Discard seeds. (If you use the small seedless or European cucumbers with few seeds, you can skip this step.) Slice cucumbers, then cut into quarters, put in a colander, sprinkle on 1 T salt, and let stand for 5 minutes to draw out water. Drain well and wipe dry with paper towel.

In food processor with steel blade, add garlic, olive oil, vinegar, dill, and a few grinds of black pepper. Process until well blended, then stir this mixture into the yogurt. Taste before adding any extra salt, then salt if needed. Place in refrigerator for at least two hours before serving so flavors can blend. The resting time is very important  – do not skip.

Insalata’s Fattoush Salad

I love Heidi Insalata Krahling’s  food sensibility and her Syrian Fattoush Salad is a real winner.

This recipe is cut and pasted from her restaurant website.

  • Use only the hearts of the romaine–don’t be tempted to use the tough outer leaves.  Also, tear off the top of the heart if it seems limp and leathery.
  • Traditionally, Italian parsley is used in place of cilantro, but I like the flavor balance of the mint and the cilantro. 
  • Splurge on French sheep’s feta or a good quality imported feta cheese. It’s rich with a nice salt and acidity balance.  Don’t skimp!
  • Use fresh lemon juice, cumin seed and real Kalamata olives. Remember that the taste of the lemon juice varies through the year so use your buds and adjust accordingly.  Adding a pinch of sumac to boost up the flavors of the lemons is one trick.
  • Use fresh cumin seed, and not the pre-ground powder. There is a big difference in flavor when you toast the seeds to coax out their oils. 

Salad:

3/4 cup vine-ripened cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4 cup English cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced in 1/4 inch cubes
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onions (about 1/2 of a small red onion)
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro (about 1/2 a bunch)
1/4 cup finely chopped mint (about 1/2 a bunch)
6 cups hearts of romaine lettuce (about 3 hearts), torn roughly by hand
2 pieces of pita bread
2/3 cup sheep’s milk feta cheese
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives (about 12 olives)

Lemon vinaigrette:

1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic (about 1-2 cloves)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon toasted and freshly ground cumin (see below)
2 ounces olive oil
5 ounces extra virgin olive oil 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Serves 6 as a side dish

To make the pita chips, preheat oven to 350˚.  Trim edges off of the pita, keeping a circle shape, so that the pita can be split into two halves.  Cut each half into 6 triangles and arrange on a baking sheet. Toast for approximately 12 minutes, or until the pita chips crisp up and are golden brown.  Turn baking sheet halfway through baking. Set aside and cool.  Break the chips into large pieces.

To make the vinaigrette, in a small saucepan over medium-heat, toast cumin until aromatic and light brown, approximately 3 minutes. Toss occasionally to prevent burning.  Let cool and set aside. Grind in a spice grinder until cumin becomes almost like powder. In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, lemon juice, rice wine vinegar, cumin, extra virgin olive oil and olive oil.  Season to taste with generous amount of salt and black pepper. Set aside.

To serve, toss romaine hearts, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, mint, cilantro, red onions and olives with the vinaigrette in a large bowl, making sure that the leaves are well coated with the vinaigrette.  Divide the salad among 6 chilled salad plates. Serve immediately.

 

COMFORT FOOD

This post is about two Asian salads. One more Americanized and the other authentic – yet both are salads you can eat again and again.

There is something entirely addictive about Comforts Chinese Chicken Salad. You certainly can’t have just one serving or only have it once. Picking up a to go box is a must if you are in downtown San Anselmo, but this recipe can serve as a reliable substitute. I have no idea why these salads have the word Chinese in the title as nothing seems Asian except for the use of the rice noodle, rice vinegar, and sesame seeds and oil. For modification you can add Mandarin orange slices (I don’t), yet I always add shredded cabbage (in equal amounts to the other greens) for extra crunch.

Another Asian salad that I love is Som Tum or Green Papaya Salad. When I lived in Bangkok in 2001 a local street vendor knew just how I liked it prepared. This is an easy salad to modify to your tastes – make it hot or mild.

Comforts Chinese Chicken Salad

Ingredients:

Salad

  • 2 Chicken Breast Halves, boneless and skinless
  • 1/2 C Teriyaki Sauce
  • 1/4 C Almonds Slivers, toasted
  • 2 T Sesame Seeds, toasted
  • 3 Green Onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 Head of Iceberg Lettuce, Shredded (and shredded cabbage)
  • 1/4 Head Romaine Lettuce, shredded
  • 2 Oz Rice Noodles
  • 1 C Peanut Oil (or can use another oil, don’t use olive oil)

Dressing

  • 1/2 C Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1/2 C Safflower Oil
  • 1 T Sugar
  • 1 T Chinese Sesame Oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

    Place Chicken Breast in a Zip-LocK bag and pour the Teriyaki sauce over and marinate for 2 hours in the fridge. Preheat oven to 450 degrees, place chicken in a baking dish and bake for 15 – 20 minutes

    Let cool in frig. Cut chicken into thin strips or chunks

    Prepare the vinaigrette and set aside.

    Toast the almonds (can skip this, but not the sesame seeds) and sesame seeds in a small skillet over medium heat. First add the almonds and toast for a minute or so then add the sesame seeds and toast for an additional minute. shake the pan constantly because they will burn quickly.

    Heat the peanut oil in a skillet over medium high heat. When oil is about 400 degrees drop in batches of rice noodles and fry until all expanded. Be careful not to add too much because they quadruple in size once cooked.. remove cooked noodles to a plate with paper towels and let drain.

    In a large bowl combine the chicken, almonds, sesame seeds, lettuce, green onions and rice noodles and toss with the vinaigrette.

    Green Papaya Salad – Som Tam

    Ingredients

    • 1 small green papaya (shop for one at an Asian market)
    • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts or cashews, chopped
    • 2 cups bean sprouts
    • 1 to 2 tomatoes, cut into thin wedges
    • 3 spring onions, dices
    • 1/2 cup fresh basil, leaves chopped
    • handful of fresh coriander
    • 1 red chili, sliced, seeds removed (omit or add more to taste)
    •  1 cup blanched green beans
    • Can also add a cup of cooked baby shrimp
    • 1/2 head of green cabbage

    Dressing:

    • 2 Tbsp. good-tasting vegetable oil
    • 2. 5 Tbsp. fish sauce
    • 3 Tbsp. lime juice
    • 1/2 to 1 Tbsp. liquid honey
    • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. chili flakes or cayenne pepper, to taste
    Stir all ‘Dressing’ ingredients together in a cup.. Test for sweetness and spice, adding more honey or chili to taste. Set aside.
    Use a sharp knife to peel the green papaya, then slice it in half and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds. Using the largest grater you have, grate the papaya. Place in a large bowl.
    Add sliced tomato, spring onion, chili/cayenne, bean sprouts, green beans, shrimp (if using) and most of the basil. Pour over the dressing, tossing well to combine.
    Add nuts and toss again. Taste-test the salad. If not sweet enough, add a little more honey or a sprinkling of sugar. If not flavorful enough, add a little more fish sauce or soy sauce. If too sweet or salty, add more lime juice. Add more chili for a spicier salad.
    To serve, place on a bed of chopped green cabbage. Sprinkle fresh coriander, basil, and  more nuts on top before serving.