Grilled Baby Zucchini and Potato Tart

As many of you know, I am working through the final semesters of my Master’s degree. I am a proud student at Teachers College, Columbia University-and will graduate with a Masters in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology. It’s been a ridiculously long road (6 years already?), but one I truly enjoy. I am a bit of a science geek, so the combination of food and science is a natural pairing. I will share with you though, when I was interviewing for acceptance into the program, I asked if they might tar and feather me. At the time I was a full time wedding cake baker and a certified Sommelier. Thankfully they have not, and I do like to believe that my love of food and cooking adds another dimension to my studies.

We now have come to the end of the semester and this week is finals week. All projects are coming due, and just like I did during my undergraduate work, I find myself in the classic mode: sweats, plates and cups stacked on my desk, coffee but no milk, and a vague recollection of what fresh air and sun are like.

After an hour or two of compiling research, my brain starts to get sluggish. So, I naturally up myself from my desk and toddle into the kitchen. This was a little beauty I came up with during one such refresher moments, a healthy and hearty frittata like tart.
A layer of reduced fat cheddar and potatoes, grilled zucchini and grilled onions all coddled in a eggy mix. I adjusted the egg ratio to include more egg whites, which, in addition to boosting the protein, was the surprising bonus of a fluffier than usual tart. What’s also fantastic about this dish is it reheats beautifully- so one dish, many meals. I just add a green salad on the side, and my life is complete, and now, so is my semester.
Grilled Zucchini and Potato Tart
serves 6
 
3 medium/small potatoes, peeled and sliced into .25″ rounds
7-8 baby zucchini, sliced longways
4 slices of red onion
4 large eggs
3 egg whites
1c reduced fat milk
2c grated reduced fat sharp cheddar, grated
2 cloves garlic
1 small yellow onion, minced
small bunch of fresh oregano
 
Preheat oven to 350˚ and grease a  7″x12″ baking dish, or something comparable.
 
In a mixing bowl beat together the eggs and the milk. Add the garlic and let set it aside.
 
Using a stovetop grill pan, cook the zucchini for a minute or two, just to get a little char and grill marks on them. This adds a little umami accept and makes the dish so pretty.
 
Start layering the dish by first placing the potatoes as evenly as possible. Then sprinkle on the cheese and the oregano. I tossed on a pinch of salt and pepper here too.
 
Then carefully pour the eggy mixture over the top. Arrange the zucchini and the onions as you like. Place the dish onto a baking sheet and into the oven she goes.
 
Test after 45 minutes for doneness, but it should take closer to an hour. The eggs should be set and the dish a pretty golden brown.
 
 
 

Roasted Lamb With Balsamic Vinegar and Red Wine Jus

I am so happy to share with you another of my spoils from my visit to Gosling Pond B&B last weekend.

Late Saturday afternoon Kate brought me over to Fairy Tale Farm to meet her friend Jen. Nestled in the hills is the sweetest farm one could imagine. In a sloped and rolling yard, that is bordered by a stone wall (that Jen built herself) roams chickens, rooster, peacocks, guinea fowl and a very friendly turkey named Frank. In fact, he quite startled me by walking right up to me. He’s got quite the plumage reminiscent of an Indian headdress, and I couldn’t help but think of him as being on constant parade. Also on the farm there is Sally the goat, Biggie the boar (sacked out and snoring in his stall), and a horse who’s name I didn’t catch.

When we first arrived the peacock was displaying his gorgeous tail, while the peahen was on the other side of the wall peeking over. The greens and blues of his feathers were stunning even on that overcast afternoon.

In addition to growing and selling gorgeous produce in the warmer months, Jen also sells gorgeous eggs from her chickens. On the farm are several varieties of hens, and in the chick pen, were a new batch of even more varieties. The different breeds lay different colored eggs, enabling Jen to put together a stunning pastel array into her dozens.

It’s these lovely eggs that Kate provides to her guests each morning. Pretty bowls of pale blues, greens and tan eggs for breakfast. I’ve got a nice batch of those too- so look for a post (or two) soon using those.

But Jen doesn’t raise lamb, this meat comes from another friend’s farm down the road that Jen had got in trade. During our conversation about the politics of sustainable farming and the state of the farming community in their area, the subject came up that I loved lamb. Jen jumped up and pulled this piece out of the freezer for me and generously offered it as a gift. I couldn’t have been more thrilled.

This is a super simple recipe that allowed the flavor of the meat to shine. This lamb is free roaming and super tender, and only a slight hint of gaminess. As an aside, I happen to love gamey lamb, but most in these parts prefer a neutral taste. As a result, much lamb is cultivated to appeal to that profile. As lamb goes, this was spectacular.
I made a quick warm fingerling potato with pesto for the side and washed it all down with a Chianti. As I sat at my table, looking out over my NYC view, I could only dream of going back up to see Kate when the fields are producing to gather more delights for my kitchen, and support all the farmers, to whom we all should be grateful.
Roasted Lamb with Balsamic Vinegar and Red Wine Jus
 
1 lamb roast (mine was a baby .75#)
cracked fresh black pepper and salt
scattering of garlic cloves- left in skins
healthy splash of balsamic vinegar
healthier splash of red wine
 
Sorry for the vague amounts, but this really needs to be done to taste.
 
Preheat oven to 425˚
 
Crack pepper onto a cutting board and add salt. Roll the meat in the mixture to coat.
 
In a pan you can place in the oven, warm some oil until almost smoking.
 
Add the meat and sear on all sides. There are differing opinions on this step. There is the opinion that searing retains the juiciness of the meat, not sure if that’s true or not, but I like the umami taste of seared meat.
 
Toss the garlic cloves into the pan and toss the whole thing into the oven. I used 4 cloves for this dish, but the more the merrier. If you don’t use them for this sauce, roasted garlic is great to just have on hand.
 
Roast for approx 12mins/pound for medium rare. I test by touch. When poked there should be some springiness to the meat but not bouncy. This is a practiced skill, my advice is to practice often.
 
When done remove the meat from the pan and set aside to rest while you make the pan sauce.
 
Deglaze the pan with some red wine, I probably used about a 2/3 cup. Scrape all the bits off the bottom. Squeeze the garlic out of the papers and mash into a paste. Add it to the sauce. Allow this to simmer for a minute or two.
 
Then add in the vinegar. I used about 3T and tasted it for balance. You want some acidity for brightness, but not to the point of making your nose twitch.
 
Allow the sauce to reduce for a few minutes and serve hot over slices of the lamb.
 
 

Saffron Potato Croquettes With Soft Boiled Quail Eggs

I have returned from Gosling Pond, laden with incredible treats! I have quail eggs, hen eggs, and a gorgeous piece of free range lamb roast- that are all begging for attention.
Sadly-devastatingly sadly- I forgot to bring the CF card for my camera (always doing that, *sigh*). As a result I had to fall back on my iPhone to take photos- which I promise I will share with you soon. They will take a little photoshopping- so please be patient. I will also promise a return visit this summer when everything is in full bloom and I have my proper equipment.
In the meantime I will start you out here with a little delight I made this morning using a couple of the quail eggs. Kate’s 4 new quail, Morton, Malady, Maeve and Matilda have not yet matured enough to start laying (well, Morton never will, obviously), though they should start any day now.  These eggs are from the dearly beloved and recently passed Pat, who started Kate’s craze.
I’ve seen plenty of quail eggs before, and though they never cease to amaze me, there is something magical about the fact that PAT made these. Kate’s baby did that! And so, they are even more gorgeous to behold.
Since the eggs are so small and delicate, and SO special, I wanted to make something that celebrated that- and so here we go. I infused some oil with a hearty chunk of garlic and saffron, and then tossed that into mashed potatoes. I carefully made them into tiny patties and pan fried them in the oil that remained behind in the pan.
The quail eggs were fun. I simmered them for a mere 90 seconds and they were soft boiled to perfection. They’re so teeny tiny to peel, but so worth it.
It’s a delicate and earthy tate profile, fit for a princess. I hope you enjoy!
 
Saffron Potato Croquettes with Soft Boiled Quail Eggs
6 servings
 
12 beautiful fresh quail eggs
2c mashed potatoes
1 large or two medium cloves of garlic, minced
2 hearty pinches of saffron threads
oil for frying
 
Place 2-3T of mild oil in a small frying pan and gently warm
 
Add garlic and saffron and gently cook to draw out the flavors of both aromatics.
 
Toss into mashed potatoes and stir, adding salt to taste. Reserve oil laced pan to the side.
 
With hands take about 2T of mashed potatoes and roll into a ball and pat into a disk-make 12.
 
Warm oil in pan and gently fry croquettes, adding more oil if needed.
 
In small saucepan bring water to boil. Lower to a high simmer and submerge quail eggs. 
 
With an eye on the second hand, boil gently for 90 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and run under cold water.
 
Gently peel eggs and serve on the croquettes. 
 
You may poach the eggs in advance and hold in cool water. Before serving warm for a quick minute in simmering water.