Here we are in August, and summer is in full swing. Our kitchen remodeling project is almost over, with maybe another week to go. Who knows? We have been escaping to the mountains while my floors are being redone. I feel so fortunate that we are able to do that. The mountain keeps me sane during these troubled times.
One of my first COVID projects was to revitalize my little vegetable garden that had been suffering from severe neglect. Two new planter boxes with fresh soil (and high enough for me to sit on) have turned it into a flourishing garden. For the first time, my zucchini plants are producing a fair amount of fruit. Yes, botanically speaking, zucchinis are fruits, bearing a type of botanical berry called a “pepo.” The zucchini itself is the swollen ovary of the zucchini flower. Thanks, Wikipedia! Courgettes as they are called in other countries are the most versatile of squashes. You can fry them, roast them, bake them into bread, and substitute them for pasta. The possibilities are endless.
I would love to get some of your favorite recipes. I remember bringing the zucchini seeds to my mom decades ago. She loved them and turned her zucchinis into soup. For every zucchini lover there is a zucchini loather. I am a lover, my husband is a hater, so he won’t touch anything made with zucchini. But he will grill them for me, brushed with a little bit of olive oil and garlic salt. Maybe some day I will find a recipe he will like. In the meantime, I will enjoy my bounty and share my zucchinis with my friends and neighbors.
In this post, I will share a recipe for zucchini patties (or fritters as some people call them) with you. I decided on a recipe from the New York Times that uses feta cheese in them. It also reminded me of the Turkish-inspired Moosewood recipe. There is always some extra feta in my fridge, because I buy it at Costco. They give a lot, but it is oh so delicious. I wanted some protein in the cakes because I love to eat them as a snack throughout the day. Once they become leftovers, they are no longer crispy but still very good and filling. I like them cold or at room temperature. For a topping, I mixed yogurt with some grated garlic and salt. I ate them with lox, a low-carb lunch or dinner. I had some extra romesco sauce which was delicious with the zucchini cakes. They were perfect with some grilled chicken thighs.
If you are one of the zucchini loathers, then try my potato, salmon or crab cakes. Click on the photo for the link.
You can grate the zucchini in the food processor, but I choose to do it with a grater. The zucchini has to be drained in a colander and then squeezed out on a dish towel to get out all the excess water (do not skip this step). I had quite a bit of excess water when I drained the zucchini (more than a cup). Smitten Kitchen recommends that you always use a cast iron frying pan to make “crispy fritters” as she calls them. Mine were not especially crispy, except for the outer ends. I assume that Smitten Kitchen used more oil than I did and her recipe uses only one egg. I also used more than a pound of zucchini (two fat ones). The original recipe only uses one pound. The original recipe also calls for dill, but I used chives instead. If you choose to use dill, put in some scallions to get the onion flavor. I could also see some mint in this recipe. If you make these cakes for a crowd, keep them warm in a preheated oven (250 degrees). But I like to eat them when they come right out of the pan. The leftovers make a great snack.
These crab cakes have a little spice with a kick and are a delicacy, especially when they are made with our local Dungeness crab. I usually buy one or two freshly cooked crabs and my husband cleans them meticulously, pulling out every little tidbit of crabmeat he can find. What a nice guy. Normally, we have crab with a salad and some fresh crusty bread. It is the perfect meal with a glass of Chardonnay. Life during crab season is good.
Then I came across an old page from my beloved Gourmet magazine that had a recipe for Louisiana-style crab cakes. Of course, I had to make it. Crab cakes are a real treat for me and I often order them in restaurants. There are many varieties, as each region has its own way of making crab cakes and using their own local crab. I am still dreaming of Maryland crab cakes made with Maryland blue crab. The secret to any good crab cake is using big lumps of crabmeat that retain its form through the cooking process. That way, you will bite into mostly crabmeat with some added flavor.
There are all kind of sauces that are served with crab cakes. I like a good tartar sauce or a remoulade. This time, I choose to make crab cakes for dinner with creamed leeks, so I didn't need any extra sauce. There is nothing wrong with a citrusy green salad and a crab cake. I can envision making mini-crab cakes, served on lettuce with a dollop of tartar sauce. What is your favorite way to eat crab cakes?
If you are looking for another special dish to prepare, try my crepes with salmon and fennel filling. In Italy, this dish is called Cannelloni Ripieni di Salmone and the crepes are called crespelle. This could be an elegant dish to celebrate the arrival of spring especially when served with fresh asparagus.
How about something sweet that is easy to make and tastes good? Try this Italian shortbread tart called Fregolotta. Pretend you are eating a slice in a little cafe somewhere in Italy.
This recipe makes 4 crab cakes and it doesn’t take more than 30 minutes to make if you buy the fresh crabmeat. Make sure your crabmeat has large pieces in it. Carefully pick over the crabmeat to remove any small pieces of shells. I finely grind the saltine crackers in my blender
Five years of blogging. It is unbelievable how time flies. Wasn’t it just yesterday that my girlfriend took me to a local bookstore to hear an author read about cooking and living in Berlin. When the evening was over, I was mesmerized. The book was My Berlin Kitchen, and the author was Luisa Weiß, who also has a blog called The Wednesday Chef. Even though she is much younger than I am, there are many things she wrote about that I can relate to—her love for Berlin and German cooking comes through loud and clear.
Click here for the crêpe recipe
Me, blogging? I never would have considered blogging myself, but I did. And now it is a part of my life that gives me great pleasure and deep satisfaction, not to mention the many virtual friends I have made in the blogging world. Most mornings I read new posts from all over the world, which leaves me feeling connected and freed from the worries of my life. Thank you, my friends, for encouraging me and sharing your lives with me.
Click here for the quesadillas post
At one point, I was thinking about redoing my website, but I didn’t. Maybe if I find the right person to help, I will make some necessary changes. But right now, I am happy with what I have. I continue to be amazed at how many thousands of people visit my little blog. It makes me a bit more careful and I do worry about the mistakes I make.
Click her for the warm goat cheese and roasted garlic dip.
When I started this blog, one of my goals was to organize my recipes that were often on scattered pieces of paper with scribbled notes, full of ingredients and additions to the recipe that were difficult to decipher. Now I am able to quickly pull up a recipe when I need one. I like that very much, as it takes the guesswork out of cooking the recipes I use most.
One common thread that runs through my recipes are that my desserts are not overly sweet. I cut down on the sugar as much as I can. I love sweets but my body doesn't, it's not fair. Many of my desserts have nuts in them. Anything with chocolate improves my day.
Click her to visit my chocolate tart post
I love different flavors in my main dishes, and there is always some sort of sauce in my fridge. Whether it’s a Romnesco or a green sauce, vegetables are usually the main ingredients. I love trying new flavors and ingredients. I don’t like my food to be boring.
Click here for my Schnitzel bonanza
Thanks to all of you for showing an interest and connecting with me through my cooking and Wanderlust blog. I enjoy the company and hope that I am able to share tidbits of my life, my cooking, and my traveling a little while longer with you.
Gerlinde aka the Sunnycovechef
If you want a meal that is ready in 20 minutes, this frittata is it. It’s a simple dish, yet full of flavor and somewhat elegant. Serve this with your favorite salad and you have a light, healthy meal for brunch, lunch or dinner. It makes a great leftover to take to work, as you don’t even have to heat it up. Frittata is arguably better at room temperature or cold. I just had the last piece for breakfast.
Think of a frittata as an Italian version of an an open-face omelette, a crustless quiche or scrambled eggs. Wikipedia tells me that frittata roughly translates to “fried”.
We have beautiful, fresh asparagus at our farmer’s market and I have been eating it roasted, steamed, and in salads. I also made a soup, but the recipe needs more work before I'll post it.
I love to talk about food wherever I am and am blown away by how many people tell me that they don’t cook. Maybe that’s why so many younger people have food allergies and digestive problems. I am not a scientist, so I don’t know, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there is a correlation between the two. Today's world is so hectic, and who knows, maybe I wouldn’t cook either if I had children, a full-time job, and a long commute every day. So for all you hard-working people out there, this is a recipe you can make.
Follow the steps to cook this frittata and it will come out perfect. You can add ham, pancetta or other veggies. You can also substitute Gruyere, Fontina or other cheeses. You will need a 10-inch oven-proof frying pan. I used a nonstick skillet.
Click here for a link to an older post for savory crustless muffins .
This was a wonderful trip and I appreciate how fortunate I am to be able to do this. It was a solo journey so I could spent time with my German family and friends. After an 10-hour uneventful flight (which is always good), I took the train to Göttingen and was picked up by my girlfriend. I was happy to see her and my family when we arrived at the village. There were many hugs and kisses. At that moment, I realized how much I miss them all, especially the children. They are growing up very fast. Despite the 9-hour time difference, I managed to stay up for awhile. The next day I went to Göttingen for the afternoon (click here to read about Göttingen). Whenever I visit Göttingen, I have to go to Crown and Lanz, an old-fashioned German cafe for some cake. Everyone was getting into celebrating Easter, even the town fountain.
Easter is a three-day holiday in Germany. Good Friday is a holiday and the Monday after Easter is also a holiday. My nephew, his wife and her twin sister invited the family for Easter Sunday brunch that lasted all day. Maren, my nephew’s wife’s twin sister baked this amazing Easter cake. It took her long time to produce this masterpiece, but it was worth the effort.
Both of the sisters had created a super delicious buffet with home-baked bread and many different vegetarian salads and dishes. They were doing this while watching their five children. Everybody had a great time and after the feast, we all went for a long walk to see the Easter fire before it was lit. This day alone was worth my trip. Thank you, Maren, and Jessica, for putting on this wonderful Easter brunch.
Easter Monday was quiet. My brother took us to a local restaurant for lunch or Mittagessen as we call it in Germany. We were served a nice meal. If you want to enjoy an authentic German meal and you happen to drive on the Autobahn A7 north, take the Nörten Hardenberg exit and eat at the Rodenberg restaurant. You will not regret it.
If you want a fancier dinner, stop at the old castle Hardenberg outside town. This is a beautiful spot to take a walk and watch people training their horses to jump. My dad and I used to come here when I was a child. Here you will find an elegant Relais & Châteaux hotel with two restaurants and a wellness spa. Or you can play golf nearby. This little town, Nörten Hardenberg, is three miles from my village and I enjoy coming here.
Wanting to contribute something to the Easter brunch, I made deviled eggs. They were simple but good. The eggs had been laid by my brother’s hens that week and they were extremely fresh and delicious with a dark yolk. No recipe was needed: I added some mayonnaise, mustard, a dash of curry powder, and pickled juice to the egg yolks. They were creamy and eaten right away. Once home, I made another batch that was not as creamy, but also very good.
Despite jet lag, I managed to have a small dinner party for three of my friends. I made a blueberry galette, stuffed mushrooms and my husband barbecued his rack of lamb. This meal helped me to get back into the groove, because I would have loved to have stayed longer in Germany.
Simple Deviled Eggs
Here is a quick and no-fuss recipe for deviled eggs. This particular recipe is not very spicy and is a good choice for a picnic or a snack for children and a variety of different palates. Omit the sweet pickle if you want it even less spicy. The egg yolk filling is quite firm. Add more mayonnaise or pickle juice if you want it softer. If you want a totally smooth consistency, mix the egg yolks with the ingredients in a food processor. More mayonnaise will give the yolks more flavor. Using homemade mayonnaise would make this recipe awesome.
This one is a real crowd pleaser. Start any festivity with these savory salt-topped cheese puffs and sparkling wine. They also make a great snack that you can't stop eating.
According to Wikipedia a gougère, in French cuisine, is a baked savory choux pastry made of choux dough mixed with cheese. There are many variations. Gougères are said to come from Burgundy, particularly the town of Tonnerre in the Yonne department. In Burgundy, they are generally served cold when tasting wine in cellars, but are also served warm as an appetizer. Gougères can be made as small pastries, 3–4 cm in diameter; aperitif gougères; 10–12 cm, individual gougères, or in a ring. Sometimes they are filled with ingredients such as mushrooms, beef, or ham.
I never made either cream or savory puffs before. But my mom often made large cream puffs filled with sweet whipped cream for Sunday afternoons. She was very good at it and could make them in no time. She used the eggs from her chickens and fresh cream from her farm in Germany. Her cream puffs were large and filling. In Germany, people visit each other in the afternoon to have coffee and sweets. I don't know why I never made them myself and I only ate them when my mom made them. They are called Windbeutel in German, which means bags of wind. I like that name.
When I found this recipe for savory little puffs, I was ready to try them. This is another old recipe from Sunset magazine that was tacked away in my appetizer folder. They were my third appetizer for my book club meeting and everybody liked them. What made these puffs so tasty and good was the strongly flavored, aged cheddar I used and my crunchy sea salt crystals. These little treats are best eaten on the day they are baked. Freeze the rest on a flat sheet and then put them in an airtight container. I put mine in a ziplock plastic bag. If you keep them until the following day, zip them for a few seconds in the microwave. That is what I did with my leftovers. I have to say they are quite addictive.
In the meantime we had our second book club meeting. The Shoppenhauer Cure got mixed reviews. Some people liked it and some did not. We are now reading My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante.
These little treats are best eaten on the day they are baked. Freeze the rest on a cookie sheet and then put them in an airtight container. I put mine in a ziplock plastic bag. Thaw and reheat for 5 minutes uncovered in the oven at 375 Fahrenheit.
The cheese and salt will make or break this recipe. I used a good coarse, crunchy fleur de sel from France and an aged cheddar from Whole Foods.
This finger food has it all—it is healthy and low in calories (160 calories for three). Sesame wonton cups filled with smoked salmon, ginger, green onions and avocados. A showpiece at any cocktail party or whenever you want to serve a delicious appetizers.
In my last post, I wrote about my roasted eggplant spread that I served for appetizers at our first book club meeting. I also wanted to add some yummy-tasting appetizers with a wow factor to our meeting. It was like magic. I transformed good old won ton wrappers into the cutest little cups by simply brushing some melted butter over them and arranging them in a mini muffin pan to bake in the oven. How easy is that—and makes a great presentation. The only trick is that you have to own a mini muffin pan. If you don’t, maybe your neighbor or friend has one you can borrow. I deserve no credit for this idea, but my passion for collecting recipes does. This little jewel was hiding in my appetizer folder. It came from an old Sunset magazine.
A healthy vegan spread that has a rich flavor and can be used as a dip, a sandwich spread, or added to pastas or salads. It is made in no time and will nourish your body with wholesome food for days.
My friend, Diane, and I decided to start a book club with some of our friends. At our first meeting at my house, we were off to a good start. Everyone enjoyed themselves and we talked about our personal relationship with books. Three of us (myself included) told stories about reading under the blankets with a flashlight when we were children. All of us love to read and admit that we often don't take the time to do so. Oh, those busy lives we live! As a hostess, I nominated three books and our group chose The Schopenhauer Cure by Irvin Yalon, a beautifully told tale about a psychotherapist who is diagnosed with a fatal disease. Knowing he has only one good year left, he is inspired to reexamine his life and work. He chooses to continue to work with his therapy group during this final year. He reconnects with one of his former patients, who is miraculously transformed by the teachings of the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer.
Schopenhauer lived an isolated life, without friends, wife, family, or colleagues. He was a troubled individual and a most peculiar man. Yet his work showed an extraordinary range of depth in his vision. Some philosophers argue that his work contains more interesting ideas than other famous philosophers. He advised to minimize our natural desires for the sake of achieving a more tranquil frame of mind. He was the first western philosopher to look to the east and the Buddhist teachings for guidance. The book is a moving debate about the end of life.
Let's not become too philosophical and return to one of my favorite snack. I like it because it makes me believe that I am eating healthy food, even though it tastes so rich and sinful.
I have made this tasty spread for years. My inspiration comes from Ina Garden's recipe. I have played with it and used it for different purposes. The originally recipe is for a dip. The spread is great with homemade or store-bought pita chips. But it also great as a vegetable added to quinoa or on a sandwich. I love to snack on it. I get hungry just thinking about it.
This dish can be made a day ahead. If you don't like the spicy kick that the red pepper gives this dish, feel free to reduce the amount or leave it out.
I am back from my whirlwind trip to Germany. It was short, but I was so happy to see my German family and friends. I love them and miss them when I'm here in sunny California. I am fortunate that I can visit them often and stay in touch. Read about my four days in Berlin and my visit with my family on my Wanderlust blog (click here).
It's time to share some of my holidays recipes with you. Every year, I make my country pâté for the lighted boat parade party at my friends’ house. Here in Santa Cruz, people decorate their boats for Christmas and parade around the harbor just after dark. Hundreds of people come to watch, which is the launch of the Christmas season. The pork country pâté is rich but delicious and a great treat for a large party. It has to be made ahead of time and will earn the cook many compliments.
For those of you who prefer a lighter vegetarian appetizer, my goat cheese with fresh herbs olives, and garlic is easy to make and tasty.
Think stuffed mushrooms with an Asian twist
In the old days, when you waited for an appointment at the doctor’s office or the hairdresser, you read magazines that were nicely stacked on tables. Today, there are just a few left and you wonder about germs and almost everybody is holding their electric devices playing Words with Friends or whatever. I miss those trashy magazines and still look at them if they are available, but I also play Scrabble and Words with Friends. Years ago, I found this recipe in one of those magazines and since it was an advertisement for a Sonoma wine, I ripped out the page. Normally, I ask someone to make me a copy. I found many recipes like this that are part of my cooking repertoire. Personally, I would have never thought of this recipe and the combination of ingredients. It is delicious and has a wonderful flavor with an Asian twist to it. The water chestnuts give it a nice crunch and the ginger goes well with the pork and the shiitake mushrooms. What is there not to like?! The shiitakes act as a little bowl for the pork and is a culinary delight at any party or gathering as an appetizer. Serve it on top of salad with some crusty bread, and you have a delicious lunch or light dinner.
I use different sized shiitakes, which I think is nice for different appetites. The dipping sauce gives it a wonderful flavor. I never tried it, but you could substitute button mushrooms for the shiitake ones.
Always a crowd pleaser
These days, you rarely find my kitchen without avocados. The creamy texture and delicious taste make them irresistible and so healthy. I eat them whenever I can—on sandwiches, in salads, by themselves, as a snack or guacamole (which my husband makes). When I want to show off a little bit, I make stuffed avocados. I usually stuff my avocados with bay shrimp, some celery, small tomatoes and fresh herbs with a light dressing. It's delicious, easy to make and people always like it. It makes a nice lunch or appetizer. So, if you want a tasty dish with great presentation, check out this recipe. Feel free to substitute different ingredients or leave out the things you don't like. I have added chopped apple pieces instead of tomatoes, and used Greek yogurt instead of crême fraiche. Deb, who has a beautiful blog called "eastofedencooking", helped me take pictures for this recipe.
I use the avocado shells to serve the salad. You can also put the mixture on a bed of lettuce.
recipe for stuffed avacadoes
This recipe will make 6 appetizers . You can turn this recipe into a salad by serving the stuffing on top of a bed of greens.
A wonderful tasty treat for special events
Every year in Santa Cruz, we have the Lighted Boat Parade the first Saturday in December to kickstart the Christmas holiday season. We are always invited to a party to watch this delightful show. Last year, I promised the host that I would bring pâté. Did I tell you that I love pâté—I mean I love that stuff! Whenever I'm in France, I buy several varieties in a charcuterie and have a picnic. There are many different kinds of pâté, some are very delicate and fine and others like the country pâté have a rustic texture. I needed an easy recipe without much fuss. Most of the recipes call for grinding your own meat and will take several days to complete. I found a recipe at epicurious.com that I liked. It is easy to make and tasted fantastic. If you can make meatloaf, you can make this pâté. I reduced the amount of bacon used in the original recipe and added small red and orange petite peppers for a little kick and color.
I use less bacon than the original recipe calls for and it is fine. I look for bacon that is thinly sliced. The next time I make this, I will add chopped pistachio nuts. This is great for a large gathering. Wrapped up, it will last for a week in the fridge. I have used it on several occasions as an appetizer. I slice my pâté very thin and sprinkle it with French truffled sea salt that my friend brought from Provence. Any coarse sea salt will do. I served it with Bavarian-style coarse mustard (but Dijon is fine), cornichons (small pickles) and crispy rye crackers. I also serve it with a baguette.
This is a crowd-pleasing appetizer with great flavors
In 1999, the "Friends of the UCSC Farm & Garden" published a sweet little cookbook about seasonal recipes by the great chefs of Santa Cruz with an introduction by Deborah Madison, an alumna of UCSC. This book is a gem. My favorite recipe is baked goat cheese with herbs, garlic and olives. It is divine and everyone who ever tastes it loves it. It is great snack or appetizer, and is perfect for the upcoming holidays. I love the leftovers on crackers or good bread the next day. A chef named Forest Cook gets credit for this wonderful dish.
This dish can be varied according to taste. I omitted the rosemary from the recipe. I use a variety of olives, depending on what I have at the time. I also sprinkle some coarse sea salt over the dish. What I find important is a nice looking baking dish for presentation. It is important to let this dish cool down before serving. This spread is great the next day, sprinkled on salads, in sandwiches or with a cracker
I am crazy about fresh herbs and love to use them in my cooking whenever possible. This spread accents some of my favorite herbs. One of them is dill. The flavors are divine and it is always a party pleaser. It is easy to make and doesn't cost a fortune. If you want to be decadent you can add crême fraiche or sour cream. To make a dip with raw vegetables, increase the amount of yogurt or add some milk if you want it to be more liquid. The photo is an example of lavash bread, my cream cheese dip, salmon, avocados, and lettuce rolled and cut into slices that I'm taking to a party.
The idea for this spread comes from Germany where you can buy this kind of cheese spread in all sorts of different variations. The Turkish vender at the farmers market makes them with nuts and exotic spices.
These rolls can be filled with any ingredients you choose. I often use hummus instead of a cream cheese spread—or I make them with egg salad—or cheese with salami or ham. Roasted peppers, grated carrots, and chopped olives go well with hummus—and mayonnaise (or any other spread) will keep the rolls together. My friends have requested these rolls for years and they are easy to transport. They always make a satisfying and filling appetizer.
These rolls are not difficult and you can do them in no time. The rolling part is a little tricky but since they are being cut into slices a little goof up is fine. The trick is to roll them tightly making sure you incorporate the ingredients by pushing them into the bread as you roll it.
Years ago I used to be able to buy Armenian cracker bread at a local delicatessen. This bread is like a giant cracker. It is no longer available and I now use lavash bread which I buy at Trader Joe's. You can also find them at Whole Foods. There are six rectangular pieces to a package and it comes in a whole wheat version that I prefer. For this blog I used two rolls which makes about twenty 1/2 inch thick sandwiches. Spread the cream cheese evenly in a thin layer on the light side of the lavish bread. Put about four ounces of lox on top of the cheese spread. Add one half of an avocado thinly sliced over the salmon, add about 1/2 a cup of thinly sliced cucumbers and 1/4 a cup of thinly sliced red onions. Leaving 1/2 inch on the longer side of the bread with only the spread will make it easier to roll. Season with salt and pepper. Top with about 1 cup of lettuce and press everything down. Begin rolling the bread at the longer side (think sushi). Push the ingredients into the bread as you roll it. Wrap the roll in Saran wrap and store in the fridge for several hours. When ready to serve cut the roll into 1/2 inch pieces and arrange them on a platter. Decorate with cherry tomatoes and olives. I have made these many times using different ingredients. For an upcoming wedding I will make them with humus because the bride is lactose intolerant.
WELCOME TO SUNNY COVE CHEF
Thank you for visiting my blog. My two passions are cooking and traveling. Traveling exposes me to a wide variety of food and experiences. I walk around cities looking for markets, restaurants, bakeries, shops, you name it, and if it is related to food you will find me there, tasting, smelling, talking to vendors, and having a great time.