Sunday, July 22, 2012

Crispy Zucchini Havarti Purses with a Rustic Roma Tomato Sauce

Once upon a time, I worked at a little family owned joint in Illinois. The owner was this crazy, spastic guy from New York. His cooking skills weren't always the best, but every once in a while, he would come up with some really unique and successful ideas. One of the ideas he came up with was a unique way to make cheese sticks. He took rectangular chunks of mozzarella cheese, wrapped them in full sized wonton wrappers and threw those bad boys in the fryer. They were pretty amazing; creamy and gooey on the inside and super crispy on the outside. That was my inspiration for this creation. I opted to use mini wrappers, just to make myself feel less guilty, plus they are darn cute that way.

I've been hearing and seeing all sorts of yummy things about Daiya Havarti wedges. Happily I was able to find it at Whole Foods, Sprouts and Green New American Vegetarian. Admittedly, I'm not the biggest user of the faux cheeses, but have been pretty pleased in the past with Daiya's products in some of my dishes. I'm going to tell you right off, this might be my favorite flavor from Daiya Foods yet. I love the super creamy texture. The jalapenos give just a hint of zing that makes your mouth go, hmmmm dats good. It really melts well too! It's a little bit salty, so keep that in mind when you create your own dishes. You won't need to add much salt to them.

Below is the very simple recipe for these tasty little morsels with a complete pictorial below the recipe.

Crispy Zucchini Havarti Purses with a Rustic Roma Tomato Sauce

Makes 25 purses

25 mini wonton wrappers
1 cup shredded zucchini, un-peeled
1/2 wedge of Daiya Jalapeno Garlic Havarti
water for sealing purses
1 quart canola oil for frying
1 recipe Rustic Roma Tomato Sauce (recipe below)

Heat oil in 10 inch iron skillet or stainless steel pan (do not us a non-stick pan) to 350 degrees. Make sure oil is up to the proper temperature before adding purses.

Dampen a kitchen towel to cover the wonton wrappers with while you are preparing. This will prevent them from drying out. Working quickly with 5 wrappers at a time. Lay the wrappers out on your work surface. Place 1 1/2 - 2 teaspoons shredded zucchini in the center of each wonton wrapper. Then place 1/2 teaspoon havarti on top.

Put a bit of water in a small bowl. Using your finger, slightly wet all sides of the wonton wrapper.

Take two opposite corners and press them together. 

Take the two remaining corners and fold them into the center.

Gently pinch the straight edges together to complete forming the purses.

Here is what they should look like before they go for a swim in the oil.

Gently place the purses flat side down in the oil without crowding the pan. I recommend cooking only 5 at a time for that perfect golden color and crunchy texture. Fry for 2-3 minutes until the bottom sides are golden brown. Gently and carefully turn the purses over and cook for 2-3 more minutes until the other side is golden brown. Drain on paper towels. 

These are molten hot when they come out of the oil, so wait at least 5 minutes before eating them or you will think I am evil! Serve with warm Rustic Roma Tomato Sauce (recipe below).
While gardens in many parts of the country are producing beautiful and plentiful harvests, our gardens here in AZ struggle with the intense heat. Our garden has all but pooped out. We have a few leeks and tiny jalapenos and that is about it. However, some of my friends are having better luck. Once again, my friend Scott brought me some goodies from his garden. This time he brought more zucchini and some awesome Roma tomatoes. The Romas were ripening very quickly. They were a bit too soft to eat straight up or even in a salad, so I decided to make a simple yet tasty rustic tomato sauce.

Check out those pretty tomatoes.

Rustic Roma Tomato Sauce

Makes 2 1/2 cups

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic minced
1 small red onion, diced small (about 1/2 scant cup)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon dry red wine
2 pounds organic Roma tomatoes cut lengthwise into 6 wedges
1/4 cup vegetable stock

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, saute garlic and onions until onions are just starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Add oregano, basil, salt and black pepper. Saute for about 1 minute until herbs get fragrant. Add red wine and saute until liquid is absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and vegetable stock. Reduce heat to low and simmer for one hour. Sauce can be served immediately, but it is even better reheated! 

I couldn't help myself, I had to pay homage to Beady-eyed Bob, the crazy New Yorker. After we pigged out on the purses, I made a couple of mini cheeze sticks using just the Daiya. I rolled them egg roll style. Oh crazy rich awesomeness. I'm in love. Check out the melty awesomeness.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

National Heat Wave = NO OVEN!

I know that many parts of the country are experiencing a crazy heat wave this week. Arizonans are more used to it than others, but still. It might be a dry heat, but 113 is flipping HOT no matter how you slice it. This time of the year I don't like to add even one bit of heat to the house, but we do have to eat.

Fred and I are both trying to shed many unwanted pounds that have been hanging around for the past couple of years. His eating plan is pretty restrictive (that's an understatement) and not vegan friendly. I am doing my very best to support his efforts by shopping and making the veggie portion of his stuff. We've been eating lots of yummy tender asparagus, green beans, salads, etc. It is not super exciting stuff and certainly not blog material as it is a lot of the same stuff. This is why I have been again neglecting the poor blog.

Yesterday my good friend Scott mentioned that he had a crazy amount of zucchini he needed to find a home for. So today we met him for some coffee and great conversation. He not only brought some fantastic zucchini, he also brought some succulent roma tomatoes, yummy carrots, banana peppers and a leek. I have some plans for the zucchini, some of which will not fit into our diet plan. I'm going to (oh the horror) turn on the oven and bake some zucchini bread while Fred is out of the house.

Today I took advantage of Scott's tomatoes and carrots. I stopped at Whole Foods to pick up some organic kale. Man was I psyched to find big, beautiful bunches of green kale on sale for only $1.50. I had some Trader Joe's savory tofu in my fridge and some sweet onions from my garden. Armed with all kinds of yummy COLD ingredients, I went about whipping up a perfect summer lunch. This simple, quick, easy, filling and delicious salad is perfect for eating healthy on the fly and keeping the kitchen cool.

Massaged Kale Salad with Baked Savory Tofu

Makes 2 Big Salads

1 large bunch green kale, about 8 cups, washed and torn into bite sized pieces
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (can sub your favorite vinegar)
4 roma tomatoes, diced
1 large or 2 small carrots, sliced thin
1/2 small sweet white onion, thinly sliced
1-7 oz. package Trader Joe's Organic Baked Tofu (Savory Flavor)...feel free to sub any pre-cooked flavored tofu, diced
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Place kale into a large non-reactive bowl. Toss with olive oil and vinegar. Gently massage mixture until the kale get slightly softened. Toss in tomatoes, sliced carrots, white onion and tofu. Sprinkle with garlic salt. Pepper to taste. Toss and serve immediately.