Thursday, June 08, 2006

What's for dinner?

I have been doing so much fun stuff recently – Colorado in May to teach at Creede High School...Kerrville, TX last week for the annual pilgrimage to the folk festival...and I return to Colorado in 2 days to go play in Telluride, and then Steamboat for 2 weeks teaching. Wow – life is good.

I thought I’d share a “recipe” with you today. I don’t use them myself...I love to cook, and generally take whatever I happen to have around, and/or whatever looked extra good at the produce market and create something deeee-licious. This means that I never make the same thing twice. My husband loves this, but is also tormented by the fact that he can’t get me to write any of it down so I can do it again. He doesn’t seem to understand that the reason I can’t “do it again” is because of the random nature of the found ingredients.

Anyway...after declaring the following Crawfish Stuffed Zucchini “The Best Meal He Ever Had” he insisted that I write it down. And he took a here it is: (you’ll notice that there aren’t many measurements included...I don’t measure much, I just add however much of something it needs. Good luck : )

Crawfish Stuffed Zucchini


crawfish tails (cooked and peeled)
Aged Gouda (NOT the nasty smoked crap – try Old Amsterdam or Rembrandt)
2 large zucchini
seasoned bread crumbs
stalk o’ celery
2 sm ears fresh corn on the cob
grape tomatoes
1 egg
fresh basil
olive oil
and other random things that will come up that I forgot to list

First, thaw, separate, rinse and then brine the crawfish tails in water with equal parts sugar and salt – put in fridge for the approximately 1.5 hours it will take you to do the rest of this stuff. (the crawfish tails that I used were purchased pre-cooked and frozen on my trip to the Gulf for the Frank Brown Songwriters Festival last November – these are DELICIOUS)

Pour your first glass of Chianti (I recommend Banfi Reserva) or a nice Pinot Grigio (how about Kris?)….drink some of this intermittently throughout the following process.

Now, make the bread crumbs – cut what’s left of the baguette you bought a couple days ago into thin slices . Slather each side with olive oil. Toast on a cookie sheet at about 300 deg until dried and nearly brown…but not actually brown…you know, like shortbread. Spin them up in a small food processor with garlic powder and salt and other delicious things of your choice – realize you need more and throw in the remains of a box of multi-grain and seed crackers that you got for your birthday from Yum.

Now prepare the filling for the zucchini:

Slice the kernels off the two ears of corn into a bowl…into a separate bowl, drag the knife across the cobs to pull out the “milk” and the soft, yummy remaining stuff.

Chop a few cloves of garlic and and a medium-ish celery stalk and add to the corn kernels. (Chop the celery very small because large pieces are NASTY)

Chop some grape tomatoes (6-8 or so) and add to the corn “milk”.

Grate about a cup of Gouda and set aside.

You’ll need another glass of wine about now. Have some Gouda with it. Turn on Kathy Griffin’s “Strong Black Woman” on Bravo. Laugh. Enhance your mirth by preheating oven to about 400deg.

Okay, zucchini time.

Put on a large, wide pot of salted water, cover and bring to a boil.

Slice zucchini lengthwise – remove stem end and little hard nub at the other end. You’re going to make a little canoe out of each of the halves, so, using a spoon, draw a guideline for the part you will remove…about ¼ in from the edge. Now scoop it out, being careful to keep all the canoe sides even thickness and not punch through…otherwise…you will take on water, and all your gear will get wet. (this is a canoe reference, not a food reference, don’t worry about it).

Reserve about ½ the pulp – chop it up – put it in a kitchen towel, some cheesecloth, or a double thickness of paper towel and wring it out over the sink to remove most of the water.

Heat some olive oil in a large skillet – add corn kernels, celery, garlic mixture. Saute until you’re happy – then add zucchinni pulp – saute until you’re giddy. Remove from heat into a mixing bowl.

Momentary diversion to allow above to cool a bit:

Put zucchini canoes into boiling (hopefully, by now) water, and set a timer for 2 min. Have a bowl of cold water and ice cubes ready nearby.

Back to stuffing:

Toss in the corn milk and tomatoes…add bread crumbs (1/2 cup? I don’t know…look at it) and toss some more. Stir in grated cheese (leave some out for topping) and beaten egg. Season with cumin, salt and pepper (don’t be shy with the cumin – all these flavors are subtle and they will pop with the cumin). Dry and dice a handful of the brined crawfish tails and toss these in too.

Open another bottle of wine. ( you HAVE been consuming as instructed?)

When zucch have blanched for 2 min, remove them quickly and shock them in the cold water until chilled through – remove to towel to drain.

Prepare some couscous (Near East Parmesan flavor is a personal fave)

Run out to the garden for some fresh basil leaves.

Make a chiffonade* of said herb. Put aside.
*stack basil leaves one atop the other – roll the whole wad into a cigar – with a SHARP knife cut thin slices off the cigar from one end to the other

Rub zucchini all over with olive oil and align on cookie sheet – salt inside of canoes (and pepper if you happen to like black pepper, which I don’t). Divide filling equally into wee boaties. Sprinkle with grated gouda and put in oven – bake for approximately until they are done. Okay, maybe, 12-15 min.

MEANWHILE (right before the zucch is done):

Strain remaining crawfish tails – don’t pat them dry – a little brine is good here.

Put a couple tablespoons (okay, a half a stick) of butter in large skillet – heat to bubbling and then add tails and basil chiffonade. Remove from heat immediately and toss around to warm though and wilt the herbs.

Plate a zucchini and some couscous next to each other in an attractive and appetizing way. Spoon crawfish tails over both and then pour buttery pan juices over all.

Holy crap, this is delicious. I never said it was quick or easy.

And the picture doesn’t do it justice – the little salad is mesculun and baby bibb lettuce from my garden with shredded carrot and homemade blue cheese dressing. Perfect.


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