vendredi 22 juillet 2011

Zucchini Mille-feuille Recipe Challenge

Ok, so our landlady has a surplus of zucchini, and stocked our fridge for us. This much extra squash made me want to get creative, so I decided to make something I would call "zucchini mille-feuille"--inspired by a mille-feuille pastry, because, hey, I love things that resemble pastries, even just in name.

I'm really pleased with this recipe, because I think it has a lot of potential. The zucchini is sliced so thin that it doesn't have to be pre-cooked, saving TON of time. It's possible to make a white sauce with a really small amount of butter once you get good at it, so you can cut some calories in that department. With about 15 mins baking time, and about 15 mins prep time, this is a really easy side dish. AND it eats up the masses of zucchini everyone with a home garden has these days.

BUT...I think the recipe could use some extra magic. So, here's the "challenge"--suggest a change to the recipe that would add no more than 5 minutes prep time and no more than 3 extra ingredients, preferably pantry staples. The goal is to come up with something more closely resembling a mille-feuille. If you can add protein to make this a main dish instead of a side, kudos.

Here's a picture of some leftover mille-feuille, pre to a slice of zucchini moussaka, made exactly the same way but with spiced ground beef moussaka filling instead of the white sauce for most of the layers. This recipe can multi-task.

It looks a lot prettier when it's hot, since the layers slide a little and you can see how delicate the zucchini ribbons are.

Here's the recipe (serves should double or triple this for a full-sized baking dish):


3-4 smallish zucchini (if you have giant ones, slice them in half before ribboning so they fit through your veggie peeler)

3 Tbsp butter

3 Tbsp flour

1.5 cups milk

1/2 cup grated cheese (I used emmenthal, but mozzarella or comte would also be tasty)

A few Tbsp grated parmesan

salt and pepper to taste


(Pre-heat oven if you're into that kind of thing--about 350 should do the trick. Our oven is small enough that we can just flip it on at the end and it's ready to go in about a minute.)

1. With a veggie peeler, slice the zucchini long-ways so you have a giant pile of zucchini ribbons.

2. Make a white sauce: Melt the butter in a saucepan on medium heat. dump in the flour, whisk frantically, pour the milk in little by little, continue to whisk frantically. Let thicken a bit.

3. Mix 1/2 cup grated cheese into sauce, add salt and pepper to taste.

4. In a small casserole dish (mine was 5x8), alternate layers of sauce and zucchini slices. I did a double thickness of zucchini slices for every zucchini layer because they're SO thin.

5. Finish with a layer of sauce and sprinkle on parmesan (grana padano would be good too).

6. Bake at 350 until it's golden brown and bubbly. Let it set for a minute or two and then serve in slices, like a mille-feuille!

vendredi 8 juillet 2011

...And we're back, with another Tour de France installment

So, it's been a reeeeeally long time since I've gotten around to blogging. We've been:

-Taking LOTS of naps (well, just me),

-Finishing up schoolwork (Josh still has a thesis to write; I defended mine a few weeks ago),

-Trying to beat the heat (100+ degree days around here),

-Visiting the lavender fields:

...where Josh saw his middle aged doppelganger:

And trying to get ready for the arrival of Bout'Chouette:
We're re-arranging the apartment to maximize the coolest spaces and make room for the baby's stuff. And boy, for someone so little, she's got a lot of stuff.

We've also re-initiated our culinary Tour de France with a DELICIOUS cheese from Pays Basque, the Basque country in the Western Pyrenees, on the border with Spain.
The French Basque region isn't militantly separatist like the Spanish region, but apparently their food is as good. This cheese, ossau-iraty (from a region with the same name), made us really sad that our sejour in France is coming to an end, so let us know if you've seen it in the states. It's a sheep's milk cheese (one of only two with "AOC" status in France, according to Wikipedia) with a firm and smooth texture and a great salty tang.

I've definitely missed indulging in cheese this year, since unpasteurized cheeses and a lot of goat cheeses aren't considered safe for pregnant women. Also not safe for pregnant women here is any uncooked produce you didn't wash yourself, with vinegar, because of the risk of toxoplasmosis. Oh, and sausages, smoked salmon, paté, terrines....and basically all the best food around. Not to mention all the wine I'm missing out on. Even though this ossau-iraty was a great find, I'm looking forward to popping this baby out and being able to eat fresh goat cheese again.