Stir frying is hands down the best way to cook a quick meal using the season’s freshest produce. I’ve been stir frying all summer long an I intend to carry on doing so with fall’s hardier produce bounty.

Stir frying is Asia’s gift for anyone who loves to kook and for all those they may be cooking for. A seasonal stir fry never fails to deliver a gorgeous healthy meal with complex flavors, textures, color, and aromas. A few helpful tips is all that’s required for success.

I’m sure you’ve seen the cooks in Chinese restaurants at their stations tossing ingredients in a big woks set over licking flames and clouds of aromatic smoke. All well and good, but you too can produce the same results in your very own kitchen sans the pyrotechnics!

Stir frying does requires Intense heat, but I’ve found that gas, electric, and induction heat all deliver the heat required if you are using a proper wok. An inexpensive carbon steel wok made in China or a domestic upgraded version is going to give you the best results. Carbon steel responds instantly to the heat source and the bigger the better because you are going to be throwing lots of vegetables and leafy greens into that fired up wok! The more hot surface space the better the results.

A trip to your local Asian market may also be required, but with the following list of basic ingredients on hand you will be set to go!

  • soy sauce
  • oyster sauce
  • fish sauce
  • Chinese cooking wine
  • Chinese lap Chong dry sausage
  • Thai basil
  •  jasmine rice

With fall’s arrival seize the moment and expand your produce choices including baby Brussels sprouts, squash, turnips, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbages, kale, mushrooms  and anything else that strikes your fancy.

An Impromptu Fall Stir Fry

Successful Stir frying is all about preparation and organization. Arrange all of your ingredients and cooking utensils within reach before you begin and you are set to go!

As mentioned use a large carbon steel wok or if not a large heavy bottomed skillet.

Ingredients

  • Two of the vegetables in this recipe quire some per-preparation as follows.I pint baby Brussels sprouts, trimmed and d steamed al dent, and set aside to used in the stir fry later.
  • ½ Napa cabbage, core removed, thinly sliced, placed in a bowl wit water to cover, and refrigerated for at least 30 minutes and drained before stir frying.
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 links Lap Chong Chinese dry sausage, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 small brown onions, peeled, halved, thinly sliced, and separated
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into thin batons
  • 6 red and yellow baby sweet bell peppers, trimmed, seeded, and cut into thin strips
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, thinly sliced, and cut into thine strips
  • 2 or 3 small fresh hot chiles, trimmed, seeded, and minced
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh ginger root cut into thin strips
  • 2 large bunches Bok Choy, trimmed, leaves halved on the diagonal
  •  1/3 cup Chinese rose cooking wine, or white wine
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce / more to taste
  • soy sauce to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • ½ cup chopped Thai basil leaves, or sweet basil
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon cold water
  • Jasmine rice for serving

Place the wok directly over the heat source on medium high. Add the oil and swirl the wok. Add the sausage and stir fry while continuously tossing until the sausage begins to color around the edges. Add the onions and fry while tossing until the onions begin to wilt. Add the carrots and continue tossing until the carrots begin to wilt. Add the sweet peppers and then the garlic, chiles, and ginger and continue tossing.

Slowly add the Chinese cooking wine and toss vigorously until most of the wine has been absorbed.

Drain the cabbage and add to the wok and toss until it wilts. Then add the Bok Choy and toss continuously until the leaves are wilted. Then add the oyster sauce, soy sauce, and fish sauce while continuously tossing.

At tis point if the wok is nearly dry add a half cup of water and continue stir frying. Toss in the Thai basil and  the steamed baby Brussels sprouts and continue tossing.

If you want to thicken the liquid in the pan, stir the cold water into the corn starch and stir. Then pour into the stir the stir and continue stir fry until the liquid thickens, about 3 minutes.

Finally stir in the lime juice and stir to combine just  before serving.

Serve the stir fry with freshly steamed jasmine rice.

Leftovers , not to worry. Reheat in a saute pan or microwave!

 

Raspberry Vinegar

There are many raspberry vine gars out there but making your own is very easy and a nice way to bottle a taste of summer that will brighten up salads this winter.

I have been using Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins raspberry vinaigrette recipe from their Silver Palate Cookbook since it was published in 1982. It is a simple master recipe that is open to endless variations for the occasion at hand.


Raspberry Vinegar

  • 8.5 ounces fresh raspberries
  • 12 fluid ounces white wine vinegar

Rinse the fresh raspberries and put them in a large jar. Pour the vinegar into t jar and seal with the lid. Place in the refrigerator for 14 days or longer.

Line a large fine mesh strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth set over a large mixing bowl. Pour the contents of the jar into the lined strainer and using a silicone spatula press the raspberries to extract all the liquid from the berries. Discard the crushed berries.

Pour the raspberry vinegar into a sterilized jar or decanter and let it settle until it comes to room temperature. Seal the jar or decanter and store in a dark place for up to six or moor months.

 

Silver Palate Raspberry Vinaigrette

Makes ¾ cup

  •  1/2cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup raspberry vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pink or white peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream

 

Place all the ingredients in a jar and sake vigorously until the vinaigrette emulsifies.

Use at once or refrigerate.

Additions and substitutions you may want to try include

  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon full fat Greek Yogurt in lieu of the sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon honey for a hint of sweetness.

Sauteed Zucchini with Meyer Lemons and Garlic

 

August always delivers an overabundance of zucchini which, for a cook, calls for a little creativity if you want to transform the ordinary into something extraordinary. That may sound like a tall order, but here is a quick and easy zucchini recipe that delivers a bright refreshing zucchini main course for a late summer supper.

Meyer lemons

Meyer lemons may be unfamiliar, but I’m here to make their case with the hope that you will give them a try.

Meyer lemons are a centuries old Chinese hybrid of citron, the mother of all citrus fruits, pomelo, and the mandarin orange. Meyer lemons are less acidic than a true lemon with a hint of mandarin and scent of citron.

Nicolas Meyer, an American horticulturist, developed the Meyer lemon in 1908 and this is  the variety you will find here in the US. Alice Waters and her restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley popularized California cooking and introduced Meyer lemons to American home cooks In the early ‘70s.

 

Meyer lemons are now widely available and generally identified by a softer paler yellow skin with a sweet citrus scent. If you live in California or Florida where Meyer lemons are commercially  grown you are likely to encounter various varieties and sizes. I have include a photo of two varieties I’ve found in my local farmers market a here in Hawaii.

For the recipe that follows you may of course use true lemons, but the Meyer lemons are well worth seeking out. I have found them at Whole Foods as well as and various specialty produce purveyors on the mainland as well.

Zesty Sauteed Zucchini with Meyer Lemons and Garlic

Equipment: a large stainless skillet with lid.

  • 2 medium green or yellow zucchini, ends trimmed, and sliced into paper thin rounds
  • 3 Meyer lemons, trimmed and sliced into paper thin rounds, seeds removed and discarded
  • 1 medium brown onion, peeled, thinly sliced and quartered
  • 3 plump garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • flaked sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • fresh cilantro leaves
  • wedges of Meyer lemons

Prep all the ingredients and set them out on a platter.

Set the skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and swirl the pan until melted. Add the olive oil and swirl to combine.

Add the onions and saute until they begin to wilt. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute.

Add the lemon slices and saute briefly and then add the zucchini. Using bamboo or silicone spatula begin turning the ingredients continuously until they begin to color ever so slightly. Add 1/4 cup water and continue sauteing until the water has evaporated.

Add the wine and saute for a few minutes until the wine has parochially evaporated. Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.

Lower the heat and cover the pan with the lid and simmer for 2 or 3 minutes. The zucchini and lemons should have a slight golden color around the edges.

Serving: Transfer to individual shallow pasta plates. Garnish with cilantro leaves and lemon wedges and serve.

I like serving this sauteed zucchini with meyer lemons with small baked mottoes topped with a good splash of olive oil, flaked sea salt, and dollops of G reek yogurt.

This, to me, a perfect light summer supper!

For some reason I keep returning to potato salads this summer. Chilled meals just make more sense. I like to get whatever has to be cooked out of the way in the morning so I’m home free when evening rolls around and I have supper on the table pronto!

Planning summer meals is so easy with the abundance of all the fresh herbs and salad greens available in local farmers markets. Herbs add that taste of summer to marinades, dressings and, of course, pesto! A chilled basil pesto dressing turns a potato salad into the main attraction on the table.

 

And don’t stop there. Make hay while it shines and squirrel away batches of pesto in your freezer. There is nothing like bringing the taste of summer to the table in the dead of winter!

 

 

 

A Summery Pesto Potato Salad with watercress

Plan to cook the potatoes several hours before making the potato salad. The potatoes must be well chilled before making the salad.

  • 2 pounds of potatoes, peeled and cut into a bite size wedges
  • water to cover
  • sea salt

Put the cut potatoes in a large pot and add water to cover. Add salt and bring to a low boil. Cook until the potatoes are al dente. Gently pour the potatoes into a large colander and drain well. Once cool, transfer the potatoes to a large bowl, cover with cling film, and put them in the fridge to chill for several hours.

Basil Pesto

  • 3 cups chopped fresh sweet Italian basil leaves
  • 2 plump garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ to ¾ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ cup pine nuts, macadamia nuts. or cashew nuts, chopped
  • ¾ cup finely grated Parmigiana cheese
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • cold water if needed

Place the chopped basil, minced garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt in a food processor, blender, or a bowl if using an immersion blender. Blend until emulsified.

Add the nuts and blend until smooth. Add the parmigiana and black pepper and pulse until combined.

Taste the pesto and add salt if needed. If the pesto seems a little thick add a little olive oil or
cold water and pulse until the pesto is the consistency you prefer.

 

Basil Pesto Dressing

  • 1 cup basil pesto
  • 1 tablespoon Grey Poupon mustard
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup full  fat Greek yogurt

combine all the dressing ingredients in a bowl and stir the dressing by hand until well combined. cover and refrigerate.

Refrigerator freeze the reaming pesto for later use.

Basil Pesto Potato Salad

  • 3/4 cup diced sweet onion
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • precooked diced potatoes
  • basil pesto dressing
  • fresh watercress

 

Place the onions, celery, and potatoes in a large bowl. Toss the ingredients using your hands and set aside, or refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the salad.

Serving

Add generous dollops of the dressing to the salad and toss gently using large wooden salad spoons.

Line a large serving bowl or platter with fresh watercress Top with the potato salad and chill the salad until the very last minute before serving!

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