Monday, September 24, 2012

Edible Flowers

Edible Flowers of Borage, Corinader, Honeysukle, Mustard & Nasturtium
Flowers can make any dish more beautiful and exotic.

The Wikipedia describes edible flowers as " flowers that can be consumed safely. Edible flowers may be preserved for future use using techniques such as drying, freezing or steeping in oil. They can be used in drinks, jellies, salads, soups, syrups and main dishes. Flower-flavoured oils and vinegars are made by steeping edible flower petals in these liquids. Candied flowers are crystallized using egg white and sugar (as a preservative)."

Cooking and garnishing can be traced back to biblical times and has roots in almost every culture. Next time you are at a farmers market take some time to smell and taste the flowers.

Just make sure the flowers you use are safe for consumption. Click here for a great chart on edible flowers: 


We love French Cuisine for Fall!
As the days are getting shorter and the weather is getting colder you tend to crave warm heartier dishes.  The last of the summer vegetables are being harvested and this recipe is perfect for them. Ratatouille is a traditional French stewed vegetable dish, originating in Nice. Ratatouille is usually served as a side dish, but also may be served as a meal on its own.

1 can diced tomatoes with Italian Seasoning
STAR Ratatouille
1 small jar roasted red peppers, drained
Juice of half a lemon
1 shallot, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 zucchini
1 Italian zucchini
1 yellow squash
1 eggplant  (Chinese eggplant works nicer because it is narrower)
2 orange or yellow bell pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp. STAR California Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tsp. fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375°F.
In a sauce pan, combine the diced tomatoes, roasted bell pepper, and shallots. Season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes.

While sauce is cooking slice the zucchini, Italian zucchini, yellow squash into thin slice into thin rounds. Cut the peppers into ring

After the sauce is done, transfer mixture to a blender and puree. Add lemon juice, taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Pour into the bottom of a casserole dish.

Ratatouille Layering
Now, layer your vegetables on the sauce. As pictured below, a layer of eggplant was placed first in the dish, followed by a layer of orange bell pepper. The last layer ended with zucchini, Italian zucchini and yellow squash alternated decoratively in a circle around the dish.

Then in a small bowl, combine the topping ingredients: garlic, STAR California Extra Virgin Olive Oil salt, pepper, and thyme. Drizzle this on top of the vegetables. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and let bake for another 10 minutes.
Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Melitzanes me Feta: Baked Eggplant with Feta Cheese

Greek cuisine is a Mediterranean cuisine, sharing characteristics with the cuisines of Italy, the Balkans, Turkey, and the Levant. Contemporary Greek cookery makes wide use of olive oil, olives, cheese, vegetables and herbs, grains and bread, wine, fish, and various meats, including poultry, rabbit and pork. Today's recipe is a classic combination of baked eggplant, tomato, and herbs is enhanced by the addition of feta cheese. It can be served as a delicious meatless appetizer, side dish, or meatless or main dish.

Baked Eggplant with Feta Cheese
1 pounds of eggplants (long slender type)
STAR EVOO for pan frying
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 pound of ripe tomatoes, diced
1/2 pound of feta cheese seasoned with basil, crumbled
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 355°F.
Wash the eggplants and remove stems. Cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch slices. Fry lightly (until soft and gently browned) in about 1/4 inch of STAR EVOO. Layer the eggplant in the bottom of a baking dish. Combine the tomatoes, basil, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste, in a bowl, and spoon the mixture over the eggplant. Top with feta cheese, and bake at 355°F for 45 minutes.
Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.
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