DECEMBER 27, 2012
I love little bites. Often I have some sort of little bite waiting for the kids when they come home from school. Bacon Hash is always well received (love seeing their expression change when they smell the bacon from the street – their tired walk turns into a running sprint). Hummus and veggies gets the nod as well as homemade salsa, guacamole, and chips. But their new favorite are these little zucchini Parmesan bites.
My girlfriend Jeni and I donate a cooking class to our schools auction each year. For years a few of the woman have been asking if I would consider teaching a regular class. I love the idea of cooking with friends and of course I was up for it. However it took us a while to find a date that worked for everyone. After many emails and several conversations a date was set and our theme became “Little Savory Bites, Sweet Treats, + Cocktails”.
My favorite people signed up to enjoy an early December morning to simply do something for ourselves. Most of us work, we all have kids, and finding time to just hang for no real occasion at all(someone’s birthday, a school meeting, etc.) was the goal of the event.
As they walked through the door, gluten free Beignets, chocolate spread, and coffee jello shots await. While the ladies settled in and became comfortable doing something solely for them, I organized and prepped (most of the prep and organization was done prior – but I still had much to do) and listened to their conversations.
The biggest bonus to the day was I did not bring my camera. However, my friend, Christiane did. We met in Photography school years ago and she is one of my creative soul sisters whom constantly inspires me. She has photographed my kids numerous times and just last year shot my son’s Bar Mitzvah. Although she is a professional photographer, shooting lots of weddings, product, and events, our Bar Mitzvah was her first. And certainly not her last, as she has shot a dozen since and is quickly becoming the “it” photographer on the Westside.
This was more than a group of friends coming together to cook and eat good food. We all shared how we nourish our families. I learned that most people don’t spend Sunday’s prepping for their week and now, I feel it’s my job to teach easy tools on how to maximize one’s time through meal planning. This is something that I have innately done since even before having a family and something that comes easy to me. However, it doesn’t to most. And come the new year, I will be launching, here, simple strategies on how to meal plan, pantry storage, freezing ahead, and only buying what one needs for the week, thus spending less at the grocery store.
I make these zucchini Parmesan bites often. Zucchini is not an expensive vegetable. Aside from putting it in soups, sauteing it with onion and shallots, I have come up with a dish that almost my whole family will eat. This is one of those dishes that I can prep in the morning(my favorite way to cook), cover and leave it in the fridge, and when ready to bake, I pull it out of the fridge 30 minutes prior so it comes to almost room temperature. Utilizing fridge and pantry staples(gluten free flour blend, or AP flour, bread crumbs, Parmesan, salt, eggs) doesn’t require purchasing anything fancy or expensive.
The meal was well rounded. Many of the vegetables and herbs I pulled from my garden and every recipe was one that used basic items that can be found in most kitchens. This tart was served for lunch (I used Aran’s recipe with a few tweaks), my spicy peanut kale salad (will post soon), potato kugelettes, homemade applesauce, chicken tikka skewers(recipe to come) served in endive with a bit of hummus, sweet and sour mini meatballs, and an Apple Sangria.
No one left hungry and there was enough left overs to feed my family for dinner that night. Even Molly got a treat or two (or three). Getting together with friends, sharing the kitchen, swapping cooking stories, and most of all laughter is exactly how I would chose to spend any weekday morning…beats cleaning the house and paying bills!
Baked Zucchini Parmesan Bites
1 cup gluten free flour blend (or flour of your choice)
1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt (plus more for sweating)
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 cup gluten free bread crumbs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten
4 medium size zucchini’s
1/2 cup marinara
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
• place two large kitchen towels on your work surface
• brush two rimmed 11″ x 17″ baking sheets with olive oil. set aside.
• cut zucchini, on a diagonal, about 1/4″ thick. place on kitchen towels.
• sprinkle generously with Celtic sea salt. let sweat for 30 – 45 minutes.
• preheat oven to 425*.
• place 1 cup of flour, Celtic sea salt, and white pepper in one dish. place beaten eggs combined with 3 tablespoons of water in another dish. and in the third dish, combine the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.
• blot moisture from zucchini. dredge one zucchini circle in the flour. shake off excess. coat each side in egg wash. and lastly, dredge in breadcrumb parmesan mixture. place on prepared baking sheet.
• repeat until all zucchini has been coated.
• bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until zucchini circles are a nice golden brown (I rotate pans back to front and top to bottom mid way through baking).
• remove from the oven and turn oven up to broil. place a teaspoon of marinara on each circle and top with a sprinkling of mozzarella.
• place in the broiler and cook for about 30 seconds or until cheese begins to bubble.
• serve warm.
yield: 4 servings