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VPR Cafe: Tomato Pie & Zucchini Whoopie Pies

Sunday, August 25, 2013, 10:40a.m. Tomatoes and zucchini abound.  There are many creative ways to make the most of the bounty before you abandon them on a neighbor's doorstep.  Candace Page, who writes for the Savorvore Section of the Burlington Free Press, shares her favorite ways to enjoy the flavors of August - recipes from her own kitchen and those around the region.  See below for recipes from this week's VPR Cafe, and find more recipes from NPR's "Zucchini Fatigue" story on August 15, and Roasted Tomatoes on August 28.

The VPR Cafe is produced in collaboration with the Burlington Free Press and is made possible on VPR by the J.K. Adams company in Dorset, Vermont and at

Zucchini Calabacitas
Serves 2 as main course, 4 as a side dish
Mara Welton of Half Pint Farm in Burlington says, “Let this be the dish that leaves you wanting more zucchini, and wishing your tired old squash plants have one more squash left in them.  Serve as an incredible side dish to anything, on its own, over eggs for breakfast, in a quesadilla with cheese. Trust me.  You cannot go wrong.”

2 medium zucchinis and/or summer squashes, chopped into half-moons, ½ inch thick
2 small cans of chopped green chilies, or 6 Anaheim chilies, roasted, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced into a paste
2 strips of bacon (optional), chopped
1 small onion, chopped
corn kernels from 2 fresh ears of corn, or ½ c. frozen kernels
1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil, if needed
salt and pepper to taste
Roast, peel, chop your Anaheim chilies (or empty cans into a bowl) and mix well with the garlic and some salt.  Set aside. Cook bacon in a frying pan until crisp.  Remove bacon and set aside. Add onion to bacon fat and sauté until fragrant and translucent, avoiding browning. Add squashes to pan and raise heat to medium-high.  You may need to add some olive oil to coat squashes.  Stir at intervals that allow the squashes to brown slightly between stirrings.
When squashes are cooked through, and have released some of their water, add corn kernels and cook until heated through. Add chilie mixture to the pan and stir until heated through.
Add bacon (if using) back to pan and stir until heated through.
Add salt and pepper to taste.

Tomato Phyllo Tart
Connie Worden, former chef owner of Chow! Bella in St. Albans and now a restaurant consultant, says this tart is one of her late summer favorites.
1 box of frozen prepared phyllo dough, thawed to room temperature
4 ounces butter, melted, or olive oil (or a mixture of the two)
1/2 cup chèvre or ricotta or a mixture of the two
1 egg
½ teaspoon of salt
dash of fresh ground pepper
fresh herbs (basil, rosemary or thyme), lightly chopped
2 ripe garden tomatoes sliced 1/4 inch thick
¼ cup bread crumbs,  ¼ cup grated Parmesan and 2 tablespoons olive oil, tossed together
Following instructions on the phyllo box, layer the phyllo in an eight- or nine-inch tart pan, trimming so its edges rise just above the edge of the tart pan. (If the phyllo tears while separating or layering the dough, just use pieces of buttered phyllo to patch. Phyllo is very forgiving.)
Mix chèvre, egg, salt, pepper and herbs and spread on the tart shell. If the mixture is too thick to spread, add a little cream to obtain a spreadable consistency. Keep in mind that tomatoes will release liquid as they cook.
Layer tomato slices in pinwheel design, slightly overlapping in a single layer. Top with mixture of Parmesan, breadcrumbs and olive oil.
Bake in a 400-degree oven for 20 minutes or until phyllo is browned and tomatoes and crumbs are browned and lightly cooked.   

Annette’s Wicked Good Tomato Maple Salsa
This recipe is from Amy Chamberlain, chef-owner of The Perfect Wife in Manchester, who writes, “My friend, Annette Sharon, created this recipe for a tomato recipe contest.  It won the People’s Choice Award.”
6 big, juicy, red ripe tomatoes
1 large vidalia onion, small dice
2 red bell peppers, small dice
½ habenero pepper, minced
1 jalepeno pepper, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 bunch scallions, chopped
2 teaspoons chopped chives
2 teaspoons chopped dill
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/3 cup VT maple syrup
2 tablespoons. soy sauce
½ teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon cumin
Cut tomatoes in half across the width and scoop out the seeds and discard.  Chop tomatoes into ½ inch cubes.  Combine liquid ingredients and toss with everything else.  Add salt and black pepper to taste.  Cover and refrigerate overnight for full flavor saturation.  Stir occasionally.  Serve with big, solid tortilla chips or over grilled meat or fish.  This will last one week in the refrigerator.  

Tomato jam
Harrison Littell, the new chef atClaire’s in Hardwick recommends this spicy late summer jam as an accompaniment to sandwiches or to accompany a cheese plate.
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup finely chopped onions
1/3 cup peeled, freshly grated ginger
3 finely chopped garlic cloves
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon, ground coriander
¼ t ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ t cayenne
1/3 cup sherry vinegar
¾ cup light brown sugar (use dark brown sugar for a sweeter, darker jam)
8-10 tomatoes to make about 8 cups peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes (about 3 to 3½ pounds)
2 teaspoons kosher salt or taste
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup honey
3 tablespoons lemon juice.
In saucepan over medium heat, sauté onions with a pinch of salt till translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in ginger and garlic and lightly sauté for a minute to get the flavors to meld.
Add the spices, stir for 30 seconds, then the vinegar, tomatoes and brown sugar.  Reduce heat, simmer for 1 to 1½  hours, covered. Stir every five to 10 minutes, adding a little water if necessary, until the mixture is the consistency of jam. Add the pepper and honey, increase the heat and cook 2 to 3 minutes until the jam is shiny.  Remove from heat, add lemon juice and stir.
Cool the jam and store in clean glass jars in the refrigerator, where it will keep for a couple months.

Lemon Zucchini Whoopie Pies
From Harrison Littell, the new chef atClaire’s in Hardwick
For the cookies:
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 zucchini, 7-8 inches long, cut in half the long way, seeds removed
For the filling:
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened?
8 tablespoons butter, room temperature?
3 cups powdered sugar?
1 teaspoon almond extract
Make the cookies: Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add and mix in lemon zest, salt, flour and cornmeal.
Add grated zucchini and mix until thoroughly incorporated.
Drop cookies on parchment lined cookie sheet in 2-inch circles.
Bake at 350 for 9-11 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix the filling.  With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until fluffy. Beat in powdered sugar one cup at a time. Add the almond extract.
To assemble the cookies, place 2-3 tablespoons of frosting on one cookie, then top with a second cookie to make a sandwich.

Franny was VPR's Director of Programming & Production.
Ric was a producer for Vermont Edition and host of the VPR Cafe.
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