Thursday, July 31, 2014

What's in the box, 7/31/14 edition

In this week's CSA box from Siena Farms:
Kale, arugula, summer onions, oak leaf lettuce, Savoy cabbage, green peppers, Yukon Gold potatoes, Hungarian hot wax peppers, patty pan squash, a striped zucchini, and a cousa squash. After posting the recipe for the Spanish tortilla in this week's links, I was happy to see the Yukon Gold potatoes, as now I can try making it. More kale pesto with pistachios and lemon zest is also in the near future.

The squash and zucchini were a surprise, not listed in today's email from the farm... meaning that I didn't know that I had them when I stopped at Verrill Farm on the way home, where I bought zucchini (and other things).
Veggies are good, so more must be better.

Used all of the zucchini and some of the tomatoes tonight with pasta.  I'll posted the recipe soon.

Quick kohlrabi pickle

I don't like cooked kohlrabi, but I do like it raw.
Lately, I've been making a quick pickle of it, using rice wine vinegar and sesame oil. Start by cutting the ends off the kohlrabi and peeling it.
Then slice it thinly. I cut it into wedges to make them more bite sized.
Season with some salt, then pour on rice wine vinegar and sesame oil. All to your taste. Try hot sesame oil, if you like spicy foods. You can serve immediately or let sit in the fridge for up to a few days.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The best (and easiest) chard dish ever

I know that's quite a promise to meet, but it's true. I have found a very easy way to prepare chard that tastes great!

I found this recipe for chard oshitashi on the Martha Stewart website. You don't need a recipe though; it's that easy.

Wash a large bunch of chard, cut of the ends of the stems, and give it a rough chop.
Boil it for 4 minutes.
Strain the chard and put it immediately into an ice bath.
After it's cooled down, strain the chard again and squeeze off the excess water.

Put the chard in a bowl. Pour soy sauce on it (the recipe calls for 2 tablespoons). Stir. Let marinate in the fridge until you're ready to eat it.
Before serving, sprinkle on some sesame seeds. Or bonito flakes, which is what the recipe calls for.

Easy to make, few ingredients, and enjoyed even by those who don't usually enjoy chard. Highly recommended.

Nectarine and blueberry tart

Years ago, I cut out this recipe for a rustic raspberry tart from a magazine (just found it online now for this post). I wanted to try to make a pie crust, as a failure from many years ago has kept me from making crust, and a rustic tart seemed like a forgiving first try.

I didn't have raspberries in the house, but I did have some ripe nectarines and blueberries.

First, preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

I used two nectarines and about a cup of blueberries, chopping the nectarines into chunks. Slices of nectarine could be pretty if you want to take the time to arrange them. I didn't.
I added two tablespoons of sugar, two teaspoons of cornstarch and a sprinkle of cinnamon. (The recipe called for three tablespoons of sugar, but it was for a raspberry tart, so I figured I could cut down on the sugar.)
 Then I stirred it together.
On to the dough. Start by pulsing 1 cup of flour and 1/4 tsp salt in a food processor.  Then add 6 tablespoons of butter and pulse until lightly cut into the flour. Add an egg yolk (save the white for later), start the food processor, then add cold water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough forms a ball.  I needed to add 3 tablespoons.
 The recipe suggests rolling the dough between two floured sheets of plastic wrap.
Once rolled, transfer the dough to a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet. I know that the result is not round. The plastic wrap limited me a bit. (That's the reason, really. It's not that I can't make a round shape with a rolling pin.)
 Add the fruit, then fold in the edges.
Once all of the edges are folded in, brush the pastry with egg white and sprinkle with sugar.
The recipe says to bake for 25-30 minutes.
I let mine bake for 35 minutes to brown more.
Bakery worthy. Pretty easy too. Let me know if you come up with good fruit combinations.

Links: deviled eggs, olive oil ice cream, spanish tortilla, braised cabbage, and cookbooks

I don't usually use a recipe when making deviled eggs, but I might try Joy the Baker's recipe that includes slices of radishes on top of the eggs. I've topped deviled eggs with chopped chives before, but never radishes.

Ice cream sandwiches with chocolate cookies and olive oil ice cream. I've enjoyed olive oil ice cream at restaurants before and would like to try making it. Not sure I'd make the cookies though.

Food52's spanish tortilla recipe. It might be fun to make a number of tapas for dinner some night, particularly once we start getting tomatoes from the farm.

A friend sent this recipe for braised cabbage, which comes highly recommended.  Sorry, husband, but you won't get the bacon grease version.

Finally, a post about new cookbooks from Joy the Baker (two posts from that blog today). Tempted to buy new cookbooks, but the shelves are quite full....

Monday, July 28, 2014

Potato salad with egg

Today is going to be potato day on the blog. Here's another way to use the freshly dug potatoes that have been in the box the past two weeks: potato salad with egg.

I start by boiling eggs a few hours before I boil the potatoes. I like lots of egg in my potato salad, about four eggs per pound of potatoes. To boil eggs, start them in cold water. When the water comes to a boil, turn off the burner and set a timer for 8 minutes. When done, drain off the hot water and replace with cold. To make the eggs easier to peel, crack each one gently on the bottom of the pan. After 15 minutes or so, peel the eggs and put them in a container in your refrigerator.
When you're ready to make the potato salad, scrub your potatoes. I leave the skins on with red potatoes in potato salad, but peel other types of potatoes. Not sure why.

Chop the potatoes into your preferred size for a potato salad, then boil them for 10-15 minutes (check with a fork to determine when they are done).
When the potatoes are cooked, drain them and spread on a baking sheet to cool for at least a half hour.
While the potatoes are cooling, I chopped a large bunch of chives from my herb garden and put the eggs through the egg slicer (twice - once in each direction). There are a lot of chives in the container; you just can't see them under all of the eggs.
Add the potatoes to the container. Then add mayonnaise and mustard. Stir. Add more mayo as needed.
I like to let the potato salad sit in the fridge for a few hours, even overnight, before eating it. You might find that it looks a little dry after the mayo sinks in. If this is the case, stir in a bit more before serving.

Crispy smashed potatoes and roasted garlic

The box had freshly dug red potatoes thsi week, many of them very small. Small potatoes are great for smashing! First, bake the potatoes at 400 degrees until they are fork tender.  It took about 40 minutes for these small potatoes. (I've read elsewhere that you can boil the potatoes on this first step, but it seems easier to just use the oven and one pan, plus there's no water introduced into the potatoes.)
Get a glass with a large flat bottom, then smash the potatoes with it.
Paint the potatoes with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put into the oven for 10 minutes.
Flip the potatoes, paint the other side with olive oil, then salt and pepper.  Cook for another 10 minutes (or longer, if you want them really crispy).
If you have leftovers, they can be warmed in the toaster oven and eaten with eggs (preferably with soft yolks).

While I had the oven on, I roasted a head of garlic from one of the past week's boxes. I cut off the top, then placed the bulb into aluminum foil. Then I put on a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, then closed the foil to make a sealed packet.
I roasted the garlic for about an hour (the whole time the potatoes were cooking).
I put bread on the table, figuring we'd spread the roasted garlic on it, but we ended up putting it on the potatoes instead.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Cherry clafoutis

It's cherry season. Sometimes, lured by beautiful fruit and sale prices, too many cherries are purchased, then start to go soft before all can be eaten fresh. Don't fret; make cherry clafoutis.  The husband emailed this recipe from The Awl to me three years ago with the subject line "this sounds good."

2 c pitted cherries
3 eggs
1 c sugar
1/2 c flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 c milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp kirsch, grand marnier or cointreau OR 3/4 tsp almond extract OR add 3/4 tsp additional vanilla

Heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a 9x9 baking pan (or a glass pie plate, which might be prettier if you were having company), then put the pitted cherries into the pan.

Whisk together the eggs, sugar, flour and salt. Then add the milk, vanilla, and other flavoring. Whisk until blended, then pour over the cherries. You may need to push a few cherries back into the space opened by the batter pouring in.

Bake for 40-50 minutes.  It's done when the top is light brown; the center might seem to be a bit unset, but it's fine.

Serve warm with some vanilla ice cream. Leftovers are good cold for breakfast. (It has fruit, so it's healthy, right? And eggs! It has eggs. It's breakfast.)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Pasta with basil, dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, and feta

I've been getting large bunches of basil in the box for the past three weeks, and I've not been in the mood to make basil pesto. Instead, I decided to make more of a pistou, putting basil, salt and olive oil into the small bowl of my food processor.
Turn on the food processor. Stop once or twice to scrape down the sides. Add more olive oil if it seems dry.
Before I started the pistou, I took out some of the oven dried grape tomatoes from my freezer to thaw.
While the pasta was boiling, I chopped some kalamata olives and crumbled some feta. (Yup, this is a salty pasta.) After the pasta is done, put it back in the pan. Add the pistou and stir it in for a minute. Then add the tomatoes, olives, and feta.
Stir and serve.
If you manage to have any leftovers, it's great cold the next day for lunch.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Links: microwaving kale chips, summery breakfasts, dips, and chard

I read in this NPR story about America's Test Kitchen that you can microwave kale chips instead of leaving the oven on forever. That said, kale pesto with lemon is a very easy and tasty way to prepare your kale, rather than making kale chips.

Food52's post on summery breakfasts makes me wish I had time for leisurely breakfasts every day.

My sister-in-law sent this link to a spinach dip recipe that she highly recommends. She writes, "I made some changes to the spinach dip - skipped the blanching and sautéed it longer; swapped the walnuts for pine nuts; didn't have dried mint so used some dried oregano instead. I think the oregano could be left out and not missed."

She also recommends this goat cheese and roasted corn guacamole from Joy the Baker.

Finally, a bunch of links of potential chard recipes. I want to try something other than a quiche this week with the bunch that came in today's box.

I'll let you know what I end up making.

What's in the box, 7/24/14 edition

It seems that I'm going to continue to wait for zucchini, both from the CSA box and from my garden.
In today's box: freshly dug potatoes, scallions, a huge cabbage, a head of green lettuce, a head of red lettuce, a bunch of Swiss chard, and a bunch of basil.

The cabbage is destined for a cole slaw for a family party in a week and a half.

The potatoes will likely be roasted in the oven, then smashed with the bottom of a cup, painted with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and baked until crisp (flipping them to crisp both sides). I'm also going to try putting a few of the very small ones on the grill tonight to see how they turn out. I think smaller ones might be able to grill without foil, to get a bit of char while cooking through, but not nearly as much as char as you'd get on a larger potato.

I need to find something to do with the chard other than make a quiche. Chard pesto?

The basil has gone in a vase on the counter, joining last week's basil bunch. I just finished the bunch of basil from two weeks ago last night.
It's funny how I've been making almost every other green leaf into pesto, but basil pesto isn't calling out to me right now. It's too bad that all of this basil isn't aligning well with tomato season.

Roasted carrots and fennel

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I tried grilling fennel, but it ended up tasting too much like licorice for our tastes.  I've found that roasting it is a far better cooking method.  This time, I roasted it with carrots, but I've also roasted it with parsnips.  Any root veggies would probably work with it.
 I cut the fennel bulb in half, then cut each half into slices.
Roast the veggies at 375 for about an hour.  I stir every 20 minutes for the first two times (i.e., first 40 minutes of cooking), then check and stir every 10 minutes.
 The key is to roast until the fennel is soft and browning.
Then it no longer tastes like licorice.  Husband approves of this fennel preparation.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Corn, basil and tomato salad

When I cook corn, I like to have leftovers to make into salad, so I'll usually buy 3-4 extra ears. This week, I decided to make a salad with corn, tomatoes and basil. I still have large bunches of basil in vases on my counter from the last two weeks' boxes.

I was taught by the mother of my Italian roommate that you should always tear basil... but for this salad, I decided to chiffonade it. To do this, stack up the basil leaves, then roll them.
Once rolled, cut thin strips.
Here's the corn, cut off the cob, with the basil chiffonade.
 The final salad. I dressed it with salt and a bit of good olive oil.
Husband was happy to have a lettuce free salad. The fridge is lettuce free, at least until tomorrow, as I shared the lettuce bounty with my mom and sister-in-law when they visited over the weekend.

Links: summer recipes, pie crust cookies, zucchini, cucumbers, and strawberry syrup

This post from Joy the Baker has so many summer recipes that I'd like to try, including combining peaches with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Tomato season must be coming one of these days.

Someday I'll be brave enough to try making my own pie crust again. Many years ago, it didn't go so well, but I've learned much since then. When I do try, I want to make the scraps into these pie crust cookies from the Crepes of Wrath.

Continuing the theme of waiting for zucchini, a recipe for zucchini parmesan chips.

A very long list of recipes with cucumbers on Chocolate and Zucchini. This blog's author wrote the French Market Cookbook mentioned in my post on pink pasta, a recipe from the book. I highly recommend the book.

Finally, a recipe for making strawberry syrup. Local strawberries are gone now, but there's always next year.... or strawberries brought down to the farm stand from northern climes.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Asparagus and sorrel risotto (and stinging nettle failure)

Many weeks ago (5/14/14), there was a bag of stinging nettles in the box, complete with duct tape sealing the bag and a warning label.
I'm not sure that veggies should come with warning labels. Or require you to wear kitchen gloves when preparing them.
I picked through the bags, removing the leaves to use.
Then boiled the leaves, longer than a typical blanching. You know, because there was duct tape on the bag and a warning label. You might say that they'll be fine after a quick blanching, but I want to boil them to be sure.
Once prepped, I started from this recipe for nettle and sorrel risotto. We were getting sorrel in the box back then as well.
Additionally, asparagus was growing in our yard, so I decided to add that as well.
I then tried a small bite of the prepped stinging nettles, now supposedly rendered harmless. At first, they seemed a bit tasteless. Then my throat started to feel a bit scratchy. I took a benadryl and put my carefully prepped stinging nettles into the compost bin. Husband maintains it was psychosomatic. I disagree.

So I decided just to make a risotto with asparagus and sorrel.

Started with 4 cups of veggie broth from the freezer.
Then I cooked an onion in the risotto pot...
...until it was translucent.
Then I added a cup of arborio rice.
After cooking the rice for 3 minutes or so, I added the asparagus.
Then I started adding broth a ladle at a time, adding more when the previous ladle was absorbed.
At the end, I stirred in the sorrel to wilt.
And finished it with some butter and pecorino romano.
I had mine as the main course.
Husband had his with a side to his fish.
The sorrel and asparagus was a great combination.

Many weeks later, I was served a stinging nettle pasta at Elizabeth Restaurant in Chicago.
I took another benadryl there after a bite of pasta. Husband continues to maintain it was psychosomatic. I have learned that I will avoid stinging nettles, even if cooked properly.