CRISPY AIR-FRIED ZUCCHINI

I adore Lolita, our air-fryer, and use it often. It does a wonderful job on many vegetables, and it is our default choice when we make cauliflower, butternut squash or sweet potatoes. Zucchini is a bit tricky, unless sliced super thin and air-fried in very small batches. But now I finally found a method to make it shine… Crispy, tender, and a reasonable amount can be divided in just two portions without turning the pieces into mush. If you don’t own an air-fryer, check the comments after the recipe.

CRISPY AIR-FRIED ZUCCHINI
(adapted from several sources)

3 medium zucchini
1 + 1/2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (vegan friendly) or grated Parmigiano cheese
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a small bowl, mix Panko, nutritional yeast (or cheese), salt and pepper. Reserve.

Trim off the ends of the zucchini and cut into quarters lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 3/4-inch thick pieces. Place in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle the zucchini with the oil. Toss to coat.

Sprinkle the flour mix over the zucchini slices and mix gently to coat them.

Air-fry in two batches at 390F or as high as your fryer goes, for about 9 minutes, until golden brown. Shake the basket every once in a while. Once the first batch is done, air-fry the second portion, then join them both and air-fry for a minute or so together, just to heat the first batch again. You can also place the first portion in a low-oven to keep warm, but I found that not to be needed.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I used nutritional yeast simply because I love to play with ingredients and wanted to give it a try. It is salty and sharp, making it a very good substitute for cheese, so if you need to entertain a vegan guest, this recipe is for you. I am now finally satisfied with a method to air-fry zucchini, and suspect this will be a regular appearance in our meals. If you don’t own an air-fryer, use a 420F oven, spread the zucchini over a large baking sheet lined with parchment, and roast until golden brown, probably 20 to 25 minutes.

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CRANBERRIES, MANY WAYS

It is that time of the year, folks! Cranberries are making their appearance in grocery stores, those cute little bags with bright red fruit begging to jump in your shopping cart. Don’t fight the temptation. Today I share six recipes to put them to use, both savory and sweet.

RECIPE #1
PUMPKIN CRANBERRY LOAF


I rarely watch FoodTV these days, but one show I am quite fond of is Girl on the Farm. She shared a recipe a recipe for pumpkin loaf with cranberries that I made on the same day I watched it. It has a very nice crusty topping, and the tartness of the cranberries is perfect with the other flavors. Recipe available here.

RECIPE #2
CRANBERRY SHORTBREAD COOKIES


CRANBERRY SHORTBREAD COOKIES
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

(Small-batch, see comments))

1 cup flour (120g)
1/4 cup sugar (50g)
zest 1/2 orange
1 stick butter (113g), cold, cut in small pieces
pinch of salt…
1/2 cup cranberries, coarsely chopped
white chocolate or candy melts to decorate (optional)

Add flour, sugar, orange zest and salt to a food processor. Process until mixed. Process in food processor. Add the butter, process until it starts to form a cohesive mass.

Add the cranberries, process until a dough almost forms. Remove from processor, work with your hands. I roll and cut it right away, then freeze before baking. 300F until done, maybe 20 minutes or so. Depends on the size you cut the cookies, and it will vary from oven to oven. Just make sure it is slightly golden at the edges.

Once cold, drizzle with melted chocolate or candy melts in any style you like.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here


Comments: I made these when our big oven was dead, so I had to use the little Breville oven to bake them. I was trying the recipe and not sure it would work, so a small batch was all I needed. Simply double all amounts to bake a regular batch. I made 10 cookies with this version. I must say these will go into my favorites folder. The tartness of the cranberries adds so much to the biscuit I urge you to give this a try.


RECIPE #3
CRANBERRY VINAIGRETTE

FALL SALAD WITH CRANBERRY VINAIGRETTE
(adapted from this site)

1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
¼ cup cranberries
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
Romaine lettuce – rinsed, dried, and torn into bite-size pieces
2 Granny Smith apples, cored, cut in pieces
½ cup toasted walnuts, chopped
½ cup crumbled feta cheese

In a saucepan, combine vinegar, water and cranberries. Cook over medium heat until cranberries soften. Remove from heat; add olive oil, maple syrup, and salt. Place in blender and mix until smooth. Refrigerate until chilled.

Make the salad by adding all ingredients into a bowl. Add the cranberry vinaigrette and toss to coat. Adjust seasoning with salt, if needed.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here


Comments: Can anything beat the beauty of the color of this vinaigrette? I doubt it. I tweaked the recipe a bit to tame the tartness of the original version, which was a bit much for us. It is a great option to put some cranberries to use, and definitely something a bit unusual.

RECIPE #4
AIR-FRIED BUTTERNUT SQUASH WITH CRANBERRIES


AIR-FRIED BUTTERNUT SQUASH WITH CRANBERRIES
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and seeded
½ cup fresh cranberries, rinsed and dried
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup olive oil
fresh ginger, grated (to taste, or about 2 tsp)
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste

Whisk olive oil, orange juice, honey and ginger in a small bowl. Pour over the butternut and cranberries in a large bowl, toss to coat. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Air-fry at 350F until done, shaking the pan every one in a while. Total air-frying should be between 20 and 25 minutes.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here


Comments: Once again the little bits of tartness offered by the cranberries add a lot to the dish. I make butternut squash in the air-fryer very often, but really enjoyed this tweaked version. Amounts are all very flexible, I confess I don’t worry about the weight of the squash, I get those little trays in the grocery store and use one to air-fry.

RECIPE #5
CRANBERRY WHITE CHOCOLATE TART


A flashback from my past, this tart was made a couple of years ago, and it was absolutely wonderful, so I bring it to your attention. For the full recipe and comments, click here.

RECIPE #6
CHOCOLATE CRANBERRY CURD TART


One of the many recipes I’ve baked from my friend Helen Fletcher’s site. You cannot go wrong with Helen! All the way back to 2017, visit this post to get the recipe.

I hope you can find some cranberry-inspiration in this post…


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AIR-FRIED CAULIFLOWER WITH POMEGRANATE SEEDS AND TAHINI SAUCE

This is a winning combination that I urge you to try whenever you find fresh pomegranates to play with. In our neck of the woods, it’s not always available. I prefer to buy the pomegranate seeds in those little jars because I am not too fond of the work needed to extract them from the fruit. Yes, I am familiar with all the tricks, but in this particular case, I opt for the easy way out.

AIR-FRIED CAULIFLOWER WITH POMEGRANATE SEEDS AND TAHINI SAUCE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the cauliflower:
1 head of cauliflower, florets only
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
salt to taste
pomegranate seeds

for the tahini sauce:
1/2 cup tahini
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup water to adjust consistency (you may need less)

Coat the cauliflower florets with the oil, season with smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Place in the air-fryer at 390F or as high as your fryer goes. Cook the florets until they start to get brown at the edges, shaking the basket every once in a while. While the cauliflower fries, make the sauce.

Mix all ingredients for the sauce (except the water) in a food processor and process until smooth. It will be very thick. Slowly add the water, until you get to the consistency you like.

Transfer the cauliflower to a serving platter, drizzle the sauce all over and sprinkle pomegranate seeds, as many as your heart desires.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I adore cauliflower and I am crazy for tahini. It was odd that it took me so long to put both together. If you don’t have pomegranate seeds, kalamata olives will work well for the contrast of color and that sharp flavor. A shower of black sesame or Nigella seeds could be great too. Anything to give some contrast to the cauliflower-sauce duet. Because our air-fryer is small, when I made this recipe there were no leftovers. Actually I did have extra sauce that was drizzled on all sorts of goodies for a couple of days. If you want to make this dish for company (or if you do not own an air-fryer), go for oven-roasting, 425F works like a charm. It just takes longer and the texture won’t be as crispy.

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LOW-CARB SUPER FAST CHICKEN PARMIGIANA

Air-fryer to the rescue again… I will give you pretty loose instructions, because how you make it will depend on your carb goals. If you want to do close to zero carbs, omit the bread crumbs. The texture will suffer a bit, but it will still work. If you want to do moderate carbs, use the mixture I did. I am quite surprised by how much I liked the texture of the meat, and the fact that frying the chicken breast on the stove top before baking was not needed at all. A leap of faith was needed for me to try it the first time. I’ve made it three times ever since.

LOW-CARB AIR-FRYED CHICKEN PARMIGIANA
(from The Bewitching Kitchen)

2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, lightly seasoned with salt
2 eggs, whisked with a teaspoon of water, salt and Herbes de Provence to taste
50:50 mixture of bread crumbs and almond flour
(lower carb alternative 50:50 mixture of almond flour + finely grated Parmigiano cheese)
tomato sauce
mozzarella cheese

Dip the chicken breasts in the seasoned whisked egg mixture, coat both sides with your choice of “breading.” Spray the basket of the air-fryer with a little olive oil. Carefully place the pieces of meat side by side in the basket. Turn the air-fryer to 390F and cook for 10 minutes. If you are using very large breasts, cook for 12 minutes, but the recipe works best with smallish pieces of meat.

Gently flip the meat over, add tomato sauce and cheese. Air-fry for 6 additional minutes. Remove the meat and let it rest for a few minutes before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: There are three little issues that might annoy you with this method. You know I never lie…

First: if you go real low in carbs, the coating is on the soft side. It will be very hard to flip the chicken piece without losing part of it to the basket. Even with the bread crumbs a little bit is lost. I am not sure if the flipping of the piece is necessary, and intend to try without doing it next time.

Second: it makes a bit of a mess in the basket once the cheese melts. I am a neat-freak and that means I spend quite a bit of time cleaning it up and inspecting every little corner. It still does not prevent me from making it, but keep that in mind and don’t get mad at me…

Third: if you have a smallish air-fryer like I do, you can only do two pieces of chicken at a time. It turns out that when I make this, I do the regular kind (stove-top, fried then baked) for the husband, and this lower-carb version for me. But if you are feeding a family of four, this is not a good option.

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AIR-FRIED EGGPLANT RAITA

The abuse of culinary terms is alive and well in the Bewitching Kitchen. Raita with no cucumber? Yes, I am afraid so. Let’s call it raita-ish. At any rate, this is delicious. I used the air-fryer to prepare the eggplant, which is fast and furious. But not overly furious. If you don’t have an air-fryer, just roast the eggplant in the oven until it softens into submission. Inspiration came from Nik Sharma’s The Flavor Equation.

AIR-FRIED EGGPLANT RAITA
(adapted from The Flavor Equation)

1 large eggplant
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt
1 Serrano pepper, de-seeded, minced
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp chopped mint
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup Greek yogurt (adjust according to your preference)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp grapeseed oil
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp Nigella seeds
1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper

Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise. Brush the cut surfaces with the olive oil and arrange them in the air-fryer, cut side up. Air-fry until golden brown and soft, about 25 minutes at 390F (or the highest temperature of your fryer). Remove from the heat, cover with aluminum foil, and let cool completely.

Remove the flesh, place in a bowl and season lightly with salt. Add the Serrano pepper, cilantro, mint, and black pepper. Add the yogurt and lemon juice, and whisk well to combine. If you want it fully smooth, use an immersion blender, but I prefer to have some texture so I just used a spoon. Adjust seasoning with salt.

Make the toasted spices: heat the grapeseed oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the mustard and Nigella seeds and fry for 30 to 45 seconds. Remove from the heat. Add the Aleppo pepper and gently mix. Pour the hot oil with the spices over the raita and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I really love the book The Flavor Equation (Nik Sharma) but this particular recipe, as written, would not work well for my goals. It would make a very loose dip, with a much higher proportion of yogurt, and that’s not exactly what I had in mind. I wanted to enjoy it more as a veggie side-dish to go along a turkey meatloaf (already in the blog and in constant rotation in our kitchen), so I adapted it, as well as a few other minor changes. It ended up working also as a dip, perfect with Ak-Mak crackers.

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