Photo by Rachael Brugger
Early August brings on a brief but annual culinary rut, an odd confession, we realize, given that right now fresh garden fare is in peak abundance and gifts us with a daily cornucopia of seasonal produce for ingredients. As the zucchini harvest piles up on the kitchen counter this time of year, we can feel a bit overwhelmed and uninspired. We crave a fresh-cooking groove.
However, weâ€™ve learned that just like any artist, at times, needs to rekindle a creative muse, we garden-cooks also need a spark of culinary inspiration, especially when we have a bounty of fresh fare to savor.
Here are three tips weâ€™ve discovered for breaking out of a summer-cooking rut, followed by a summer breakfast classic we serve at our Inn Serendipity Farm and Bed-and-Breakfast, which will cure any summer cooking rut that ails you.
1. Flip savory and sweet.
Twist the expected menu and serve a familiar dish in a new way. For example, most folks expectÂ pancake to be bread-like and sweet, swimming in a pool of syrup. The recipe for Zucchini Feta Pancakes below provides a savory alternative to traditional pancake fare, served “nakedâ€ť with no syrup or toppings. While they are a breakfast staple at Inn Serendipity, you could readily serve them for a quick supper.
2. Add a strong companion flavor.
Adding in a distinct, unexpected flavor to a dish also perks up the palate. The feta cheese in these pancakes enhances the flavor in an unusual, distinct manner.
3. Blend in fresh company.
Sometimes it isnâ€™t the ingredients or the recipe that grows a bit stale. Just like you sometimes need a fresh recipe, it’s also nice toÂ inviteÂ fresh faces to gather around the table and share a summer meal with you. Living at and operating a bed-and-breakfast, weâ€™re blessed with a near daily dose of new interesting and inspiring people coming through my kitchen, providing the ultimate in keeping life fresh.
These zucchini feta pancakes provide a surprising twist on standard sweet pancakes, originating from our backpacking days in Australia and New Zealand. Another reason to enjoy these now: The recipe really only works with fresh zucchini. Weâ€™ve tried making this in January with frozen zucchini, and the texture is totally different. Enjoy in summer!
Recipe: Zucchini Feta Pancakes
Recipe fromÂ Farmstead Chef (New Society Publishers, 2011)
Yield: 5 servings
- 4 eggs, separated
- 4 cups fresh zucchini (or any summer squash), shredded
- 1 cup Feta cheese, finely crumbled (about 1 pound)
- 1/2 cup green onions or chives, finely chopped
- 1 T. fresh mint (or 1 tsp. dried)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup flour
- canola oil for frying
In a large bowl, combine egg yolks, zucchini, Feta cheese, onions, mint, salt and flour. Mix well. Beat egg whites until stiff. Fold into batter mixture.
Heat oil in a 6-inch skillet until very hot; we sometimes use an electric fry pan so we can fit more pancakes at once. Drop about 1/8 cup batter for each pancake. Cook on both sides until browned and crisp. Serve immediately and garnish with edible flowers, such as nasturtiums, borage or a sprinkle of bee balm flower petals.
Savoring the good life,