The zoo might seem like an unlikely place to have a fabulous meal, but the Toledo Zoo is exactly where I experienced culinary delight last week! Sam Misiura, executive chef at the Toledo Zoo, prides himself on utilizing fresh ingredients and is a proponent of the farm-to-table movement. I had the chance to sample some items off their catering menu, and managed to get two recipes from Chef Sam that I'm now going to share with you!
With both of these, it's essential you use the freshest ingredients possible. Try your farmer's market, or better yet, right off the plant from your backyard (or that of a willing neighbor).
Cut a zucchini in half, scrape and discard seeds. Grate the zucchini, and toss with kosher salt.
Now...the goal here is to get the zucchini very dry. In Chef Sam's exact words - it can't be too dry! Place the zucchini in a colander in the sink, and weight it with something (maybe a bag of flour wrapped in a plastic grocery bag). Let that drain for 1 hour. Once that's done, ring it with a dish towel or cheesecloth until it's super dry. Did I mention it can't be too dry? :)
Combine the zucchini with a few tablespoons of chopped parsley, and enough beaten eggs, breadcrumbs, and shredded parmesan to bind the zucchini. The amount you need depends on how dry the zucchini is. Use your best judgement.
Form into the mixture into little balls, and fry until golden in hot oil. One zucchini will yield about 20 small fritters.
Serve with dill yogurt sauce (I recommend Greek yogurt combined with fresh dill, a chopped up tomato, and a bit of garlic).
The day before, make sugared lime zest. Combine zest of one lime with juice of one lime, and 1/2 cup sugar. Place on a baking sheet, and put sheet in the oven, overnight. You don't need to turn on the oven! The next day, break it up a bit so that the zest is in small pieces.
When ready to serve, prepare frozen phyllo dough cups according to manufacturer's instructions.
Add a selection of very fresh fruit - Chef Sam used peaches and blueberries. Place in cups, and top with real whipped cream (nothing out of a can or a tub!). Drizzle with honey, and top with sugared lime zest. Delicious!
This is the first in a three-part series highlighting culinary finds in and around Cleveland, Ohio. Plan your trip at PositivelyCleveland.com