Zucchini & Zucchini blossom Soup

Zucchini Blossoms Soup

Summertime, fresh Californian produce, farmers market and fresh air. What do they all have in common?

Nothing much, per se, but they all provide a lot of inspiration of fresh and healthy meals.

Last week while we were at the Fort Mason Farmers Market, the vegetable stall was a riot of color. I saw orange-yellow squash blossoms stacked next to green and yellow zucchinis and red tomatoes. The  colors were inviting and I picked up a bunch of flowers. Vipul eyed me and the flowers suspiciously. I told him I am going to make some zucchini blossom fritters. He asked me if that was all for dinner or there was “real” food as well along with it.

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Savoring Summer Break At Lake Tahoe

Summer at Lake Tahoe

Varun’s preschool had a 3 day summer holiday last week. He graduated from previous “Rabbits” class into pre-K “Giraffes” class.

Vipul could take a couple of days off as well.

We took off to Lake Tahoe to enjoy its crystal clear waters. A 4 hr drive from SF, Lake Tahoe is a large alpine lake boasting crystal clear water and surrounded by mountains on all sides. Numerous beaches, hikes, ski resorts, casinos dot the area, Playing on its sandy beaches, taking the cruise boat ride to Emerald Bay, bob around on a cheery yellow paddle boat was the agenda. That and relaxing at the hot tub overlooking the golf course was on mine. Vipul added golf lessons at a nearby driving range to his travel wish list. And we all wanted to enjoy the scenic 72-mile drive around the lake one afternoon when both kids were asleep.

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Pinterest Told Me To Make: Ratatouille

Ratatouille

Before Mom and Dad left for India, I wanted to make something special for them. They are unlikely to visit for another year or so; this was my way to end our time together on a high note. With summer produce on a high in markets, ratatouille it was.

I had pinned this beautifully presented ratatouille dish for some time now and it was time to give it a try. The flavors are traditional and the presentation contemporary. It’s not the mush like stew that it originally was intended.

Ratatouille

The veggies are sliced thin, pan-fried to take out excess moisture and then baked over a ripe fresh tomatoes sauce.

If anything is a summer on a plate then this is it. Colorful, vegetarian and seasonal to boot.

Ratatouille

I made mini ratatouilles as individual servings and then paired it with big pearly Israeli couscous for a filling meal. It’s a great alternative to good old salad and a great way to eat that 2 cups of veggies per meal.

My kid didn’t touch it but we all loved it. Give it a try this summer while veggies are at their peak!

Ratatouille

Ratatouille Recipe

For the Sliced Veggies

  • 2 Zucchini thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow squash thinly sliced
  • 1/2 eggplant thinly sliced
  • 2 roma tomatoes thinly sliced

For the Sauce

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil, divided + 1 teaspoon to grease the baking dish
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup white onion finely diced
  • 2 roma tomatoes finely diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper finely diced
  • Handful of parsley, finely chopped + more for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Crumbled goat cheese to garnish
  1. Heat a table-spoon of olive oil in a skillet. Sear the zucchini, squash and eggplant on each side lightly till light golden brown. Set aside.

  2. In the same pan add another table-spoon of oil. Saute the garlic and onion in the oil for 2 – 3 minutes till onions are translucent over medium heat.

  3. Then add red bell pepper. Saute for another 2 – 3 minutes till softened. Add tomatoes, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook for another 4- 5 minutes till cooked into a thick sauce.

  4. Pre-heat the oven to 400 F.

  5. Grease a baking dish with olive oil. Spoon sauce at the bottom. Layer the vegetables on the sauce in rows or a spiral alternating zucchini, squash and eggplant. Bake in top third of the oven for 10 minutes till the vegetables are seared a bit on the top.

Garnish with goat cheese and parsley. Serve warm with couscous, quinoa or pasta.

 

Savory Tomato Pesto Tart

Ready to eat tomato tart

There are some dishes that come together effortlessly and are like a party of flavors in your mouth. Tomato and pesto is  one such combination. Quality ingredients shine and provide easy snack, lunch or appetizer.

Tomato Tart

I found some cherry tomatoes at our local supermarket. They were sweet and fresh and paired with pesto made for a savory side to soft scrambled eggs. They made the breakfast that much more special.

If you are planning a summer brunch with friends, this gotta feature on your menu. Paired with a salad and rose there is nothing more simple and more fitting ode to summer than this.

Tomato tart 2

Savory Tomato Pesto Recipe

  • 1 cup homemade pastry or store-bought puff pastry
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoon pesto
  • Salt to taste
  • Few cranks of black pepper
  • 2 tablespoon mint leaves roughly chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C or 350 F

2. Roll out the dough into a 8 inch circle about 1/4 inch thick. Prick all over with a fork to prevent puffing leaving about an inch edge around the perimeter untouched.

3. Blind bake this pastry dough for about 6 – 8 minutes till golden brown. I weighed this down with an oven safe bowl with some beans to keep the center unpuffed.

4. Remove from oven and then layer the mustard and pesto over the base. Leave the edges as is.

5. Arrange the tomatoes in rows or circles. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

6. Put it back in the oven and bake on middle shelf for about 12 minutes or so till the tomatoes are cooked at the edges and pastry is brown at the edges.

7. Remove from the oven and let cool a bit.

Cut and serve warm.

Mini Plum Tart

Plum tart2

Plums are in season here in India. Smaller than their US counterparts, these are part sweet and part tart. I had pastry dough on hand and after eating many plums as is I wanted to make something else.

A simple fruit tart is what I made. A good pastry dough or puff pastry sheets, fresh fruits and sugar is all that is needed. Its one thing that can be pulled together effortlessly and will impress your guests. For there is nothing like baking a cake or dessert for your family to say that you care!

fresh plums

We had this for breakfast – just because it was ready by then. But it pairs well with ice-cream for a light dessert post a heavy dinner.

The recipe works well with any fruit – pear, apples, nectarine, peaches and even berries. For juicy fruits make sure you macerate them with a little sugar and salt to release the juices. Lift the fruit from the juice and then use those slices on your tart. This will prevent the tart from becoming soggy.

The juice can be reduced and served as syrup or drizzled lightly over the tart before and after cooking so that it still will be juicy but not soupy.

The crusty base with sweet and tart plums as topping pair beautifully in this summer classic dish. I prefer this to be on tart side and hence have used very little sugar. Feel free to play around to suit your taste. I think the plums would play well with balsamic reduction and I am going to give that a try next!

Plum tart

Mini Plum Tart Recipe

  • 1 cup homemade pastry or store-bought puff pastry
  • 8 – 10 fresh plums, pitted and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar ( divided) ( more if your fruit is tart and how sweet you like your dessert)
  • Pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven to 190 C or 350 F

Place the plum slices with a tablespoon of sugar and salt in a bowl to macerate. This will help it release excess juice which otherwise turn the pie into a soggy mess.

2. Roll out the dough into a 8 inch circle about 1/4 inch thick. Prick all over with a fork to prevent puffing leaving about an inch edge around the perimeter untouched.

3. Blind bake this pastry dough for about 6 – 8 minutes till golden brown. I weighed this down with an oven safe bowl with some beans to keep the center un-puffed.

4. Layer the plum slices over the pastry. Drizzle some of the juice over the tart.

Sprinkle remaining sugar over the plum slices/

5. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes till the tart is deep golden brown at the edges and the fruit looks cooked.

Remove from the oven, and let cool.

Slice and serve warm or cold with fresh cream, ice-cream or simply as is.