• Perfect Zucchini Recipe: Charred Zucchini With Summer Pesto

    Always better with a tasty beverage...

    Always better with a tasty beverage…

    Ah, the joys of zucchini. It grows so easily that it makes any gardener feel good. But then it keeps coming, and coming….and coming….and then you get so much you can’t even give it away (neither can your neighbors). And god forbid you try to cook it all- your kids will never forgive you if you serve it every night (trust us, we have tried and they haven’t forgotten).

    zuczuc1Happily we do have a few recipes that make the bountiful, but otherwise somewhat bland and watery zucchini worth eating throughout the summer. One of our faves is Redcat Zucchini, but that recipe is best done in small batches. What if you are grilling for a group? Well, this charred zucchini recipe is the perfect answer. This recipe is easy, tasty, time-efficient and it features ingredients that should be in your garden or farmers market right now.

    zuc2zuc4zuc5The steps are easy. Get some basil and mint from your garden and then make a pesto with some nuts (pine nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts or pistachios work), oil, garlic and a little briny kick from some capers. Do some chopping, add some parm and/or pecorino and you are ready to go (oh, and you can do this ahead in big batches- this pesto works with anything).

    zuc6zuc7As for the zucchini, the char on the grill is the way to go (you could use a broiler in a pinch). If you are grilling you can char the zucchini briefly right when the coals go on the grill and are at their hottest (usually too hot for cooking proteins). It only takes a minute or two on each side. And you do want some char, those smoky notes balance with the fresh flavors of the pesto.

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  • Brown Butter Chicken

    bbutterThe more things change, the more the stay the same. What is true in life is true in cooking (and drinking). Even when we cook ever-more-complicated food and mix ever-more-esoteric cocktails, the simple often (usually?) wins the day. And recently, we were playing with some very, very complex cocktails before we decided to mix a simple Hoffman House (a Martini of 2/3 dry gin, 1/3 dry vermouth, orange bitters and a lemon twist). Not surprisingly, the simple cocktail was the best thing we have had in weeks.

    bbutter8bbutter7The same holds for cooking. Just a few weeks ago, Michael Bauer of the SF Chronicle mentioned the Brown Butter Chicken of Corso, a Tuscan-inspired restaurant in the East Bay. Now, frankly, we go to SoCal (even NYC) more often than the East Bay (sad to say, but it’s true). So while may not make it to Corso, that chicken sounded amazing. Chicken, butter, flour, salt, lemon and heat- simple. So we made it. And, indeed, it was simple….and simply, f@#king awesome.

    bbutter6bbutter5Of course, you may be saying “it has brown butter, how bad can it be”? And you would be right. We use brown butter all the time on fish, veggies and pasta. Brown butter is one of the fastest ways to improve a dish (and kids love it). But it is always good to get a reminder that the best basic flavors work all sorts of places. And in this case you crisp chicken on the stovetop with butter ( high fat “Eurobutter” like Plugra works best), cook it through in the oven…with butter, and then finish on the stovetop and brown even more butter…then add some lemon to cut that butter. Yup, the only thing you may be asking is “why didn’t we do this sooner…and who is our cardiologist again?”

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