I've cooked my way through all 264 recipes
in The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook!

August 24, 2011

Fiore di Zucchini Fritti (p. 342)

This recipe for Fried Zucchini Blossoms has been the bane of my existence. I've been trying all summer to track down zucchini blossoms, but to no avail. They're not at the farmers market, I can't get them through my CSA, local grocery stores don't have them, and even my co-worker who grows zucchini couldn't supply them -- this summer's drought killed all her plants by the time I got around to asking her.

I was getting pretty sad that this was what was going to prevent me from completing the cookbook, but my mom offered to make them for me and let me know what she thought about the recipe. Works for me!

She grows zucchini in her garden, so she had the access:

These were rinsed and set aside while she heated up her oils (olive and canola). Next up, she sifted flour into water, beating them together and adding salt and pepper.

Each blossom was dipped in the batter and dropped into the hot oil until golden brown on each side.

And then voila, fried zucchini blossoms are served.

And the taste? Mom says that they were "delightful, the perfect crunch and savory, salty, and delicious."

So there you go. Recipe number 264 is done and done, and I'm officially though with cooking The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook. I win. Thanks, mom!

August 22, 2011

A Rich Beef Stew from Provence (p. 429)

Once again, I've saved a heavy winter stew for the middle of August. Whoops. Luckily our new AC is keeping the house nice and cool, so I can't complain.

I started this recipe on Friday afternoon to let the beef be able to marinate over night. The marinade smelled delicious -- olive oil, chopped carrots, onions, garlic, and celery, red wine, red wine vinegar, brandy, parsley, orange zest, dried thyme, and black pepper.

I chopped up my pieces of meat into large chunks.

And mixed it all together.

Yummy yum.

On Saturday afternoon I started the stew. While the oven was preheating, I browned all the pieces of meat (removed from their marinade, dried, and dusted with flour) in a little bit of olive oil.

Once brown, I retuned all of the marinade to the pan and added some more red wine to cover the meat. In went chopped shallots, carrots, olives, and canned tomatoes, and I brought the dish to a simmer.

The entire pan, covered, went in the oven for three hours.

This is supposed to be best the following day, so we didn't eat it until dinner on Sunday.

The flavors, especially those of the olive, were really good, but there's something about an all brown dish that I don't love. Still, the beef was tender and falling apart and it was delicious with some mini pitas on the side.

celery -- $1.79 (plenty left over for lunches)
red wine -- $3.40 (I bought the type in the mini bottles and used two of them)
orange -- $.75 (I only needed the zest and ate the orange for breakfast today)
onion -- $.49 (half left)
beef -- $6.92
shallots -- $3.98
olives -- $1.35
tomatoes -- $1.00
Total Cost of A Rich Beef Stew from Provence: $19.68
($6.56 per serving)

August 13, 2011

Salt-Baked Whole Fish (p. 364) with Sauce Verte (p. 270)

This was a fun dish to prepare because it's so different from any of the other recipes. It requires a lot of salt that the fish is baked in which creates a crust around it.

Mix the salt with egg whites to create a fairly thick paste.

Layer about a third of this into the bottom of the baking dish.

Next up is the fish -- I used a whole red snapper from the Asian Market.

Cover the entire fish with the rest of the salt, making sure everything is covered and packed in. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the fish.

When done, you kind of have to crack the salt crust away from the fish. As it comes up, it takes with it most of the skin, leaving an amazingly moist and tasty meat behind. (Note: mine did not come off neatly at all -- it looked a fright.)

With this, I prepared Sauce Verte, a French green sauce for fish. Basically, it's just a bunch of ingredients processed together -- watercress, spinach leaves, bread that has been soaked in water and drained, capers, anchovies, shallot, parsley, olive oil, and lemon juice.

Process until its a sauce-like consistency and then serve with a little salt and pepper mixed in.

This whole meal was really delicious. I loved the flavor and juiciness of the fish, and the sauce almost tasted like guacamole. I salted mine a little too much, but it was still tasty, and I enjoyed sopping up the remaining sauce with crusty bread.

salt -- $4.47
fish -- $7.69
Total Cost of Salt-Baked Whole Fish: $12.16
($6.08 per serving)

watercress -- $.99
bread -- $1.69
spinach -- $3.69 (plenty left for salads this week)
lemon -- $.69
shallot -- $.40
Total Cost of Sauce Verte: $7.46
($1.24 per serving)

August 3, 2011


My friend Sarah over at Little Fancy just blogged about some delicious summer gazpacho that she made recently and with some beautiful tomatoes sitting on my counter, I wanted to make some, too.

I didn't have a pepper, but otherwise mostly followed her recipe, just with the addition of a little mint and some salt to taste.

I just chopped the veggies a little bit and then tossed them in the food processor

I love love love how easy gazpacho is to make.

This was great, and I enjoyed the kick from the red onion. I'll happily enjoy this for lunch the next couple of days.

August 2, 2011

Veal Stew with Wild Mushrooms (p. 430)

I have two soups left to cook, neither of which, unfortunately, is a chilled summer soup. Still, gotta tackle them, even in this ridiculous North Carolina heat.

This veal stew was pretty easy to put together, so I did it before work yesterday since I didn't have to be in until noon. It starts with sauteed onion, garlic, and parsley which have softened but not browned in the olive oil. Next up are the pieces of veal, which just need to be cooked until each side has browned.

Stir in the cleaned, sliced mushrooms (I used baby bellas because that's what was available to me, but it really called for porcini or chanterelles) and allow them to cook until they have released their liquids and the dish is bubbling.

Add in thyme and salt and cover the meat with a combination of wine and water.

Keep at a steady simmer until the liquid has cooked down some, then raise the heat and cook a little bit longer to make the liquid more syrupy.

Both Matt and I felt that this had way too many mushrooms in it. The flavors were good, but every bite was completely mushroom filled. I also wish that I had cut the veal into smaller pieces; they were a little tough which made the large pieces difficult to eat. 

mushrooms -- $3.00
veal -- $7.99
onion -- $1.10
parsley -- $1.99
Total Cost of Veal Stew with Wild Mushrooms: $14.08
($4.69 per serving)