Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Crunchy Baked Zucchini Planks with Garlic-Lemon Aioli

About a year and a half ago, JJ and I were given a gift card to Maggiano's for our 2nd anniversary. We had never been there before, so we had the server sort of choose our menu for the night. We started with the appetizer combination platter, and the shining star of that dish was the fried zucchini with aioli. I can't say I remember much else about that meal, the zucchini was the star of the show! It was crispy and flavorful, and the aoili was the perfect pairing. I'm usually not a fan of creamy based sauces or ranch dressings, but this was phenomenal. We haven't been back to Maggiano's, but this zucchini has been on my mind since then, and I had been meaning to recreate it at home. 

On our weekly Farmer's Market excursion this week, like every week, I haphazardly pointed at produce and baskets and filled up my cart. I find that it's easier to go there first, see what looks best, then take it home and plan a weekly menu around it. I bought 2 baskets of zucchini, so I began to brainstorm some meal ideas. This simple dish was easily put together with only pantry staples, it's flavorful, cheap and easy to make. While I'm sure it would taste great fried, I actually preferred the baked version. For the aioli, I used Greek Yogurt rather than mayo, and I think it tasted better than the mayo version. The tang of the yogurt replaced the need for mayo + vinegar in the aioli, and it gave a punch of additional protein to the dish.

Crunchy Baked Zucchini Planks with Garlic-Lemon Aioli
inspired by Maggiano's 

3 medium zucchini
1/2 c. unbleached AP Flour
1 egg + 2 tbsp. water
1 c. panko breadcrumbs
1/2 c. Italian style breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper

2 garlic cloves, grated
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/2 c. plain 2% or fat-free Greek yogurt
Salt and white pepper
Minced parsley

Wash zucchini, slice off ends. Slice into 1/4" thin strips.
Line a colander with tea towels, lay zucchini slices in colander, salt, and add another towel on top, repeating the process until all zucchini are salted and covered. 
Place a bowl inside to press zucchini and set aside for 30 minutes.
(This step isn't necessary, but will keep zucchini extra crisp and less mushy when cooked)

In a small bowl, whisk together garlic, lemon juice and zest, yogurt, salt and pepper. 
Taste, add more salt and pepper if necessary. 
Add minced parsley, about 1 tsp. 
Cover and place in the refrigerator. 

Lay 3 shallow bowls out on the counter and a baking sheet fitted with a wire rack. 
In the bowl closest to the baking sheet, toss together breadcrumbs.
In the center bowl, crack the egg and whisk in water and 2 tbsp. flour, salt and pepper.
In the farthest bowl, pour in the remaining flour. 
Preheat the oven to 425*
Wipe down the excess moisture from zucchini slices, dredge in flour, then dip in egg, and press into the breadcrumbs. 
Place on the baking sheet and repeat until all zucchini is coated.
Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. 

Place planks on a platter and serve with aioli in a dish on the side. 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Almond Roca Cookies

I recently participated in Cara and Jen's Bloggers Bake for Hope Bakesale, and my contribution was a batch of Almond Roca Cookies. I first made these cookies several Christmases ago. I wanted something with toffee and nuts, and these popped up in my search. They quickly have become one of our favorite cookies, so caramely and crunchy, absolutely delicious.
Thank you to the winning bidder, these will be on their way to you soon! 

Almond Roca Cookies

2 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. dark brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 c. butter, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
1 package Toffee bits (1 1/4 c.)
1 c. coarsely ground almonds
1/2 c. melted milk chocolate

Preheat oven to 300*
Cream butter with brown sugar and white sugar, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Add eggs, one at a time. 
Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add baking soda, salt, flour and toffee bits.
Turn mixer on low until ingredients are just incorporated and flour is absorbed.
Scrape down the sides and clean off the beater, place dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Roll dough into walnut sized balls, roll in nuts then place on a parchment lined baking sheet and press down lightly. 
Continue with all cookies (about 24-30).
Bake for 20-22 minutes, remove from the oven, cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.
Melt chocolate, drizzle over cookies and cool until chocolate sets. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Watermelon Baby Carriage Fruit Salad

While this isn't a recipe, I felt it deserved it's own blog post. My sister and friend Vickie threw a beautiful shower, complete with delicious food, gorgeous decorations, and so many adorable gifts. When we discussed the menu, I told my sister what I'm currently able to eat, which is still carbs and fruit. She sure delivered with a huge bagel assortment as well as muffins, stratas and fruit salad. I came across a photo of a baby carriage bowl, and mentioned it to my sister. She was a little weary, but we thought my mom would love to make it. We were right. Anything with a saw, she's on it! Well, the saw wasn't necessary, but she did construct this gorgeous baby carriage fruit salad bowl. She filled it with watermelon, cantaloupe, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and grapes. It was divine!