Thursday, July 29, 2010

Italian Vinaigrette

I learned on my way home from work that we had a last minute guest coming over for dinner tonight. I did a quick mental run through of the kitchen contents and decided we really didn't have the makings of a dinner that would comfortably serve 3 (or 1). My husband suggested that he pick-up pizza, and I loved the idea. I picked up some lettuce, and we were in business.


I have worked in some restaurants along the way, and two of them were casual Italian-American places. Both restaurants had the same recipe for their house vinaigrette. It's really complex. Are you ready for it? Large squirt bottle filled with about half olive oil and half red wine vinegar (slightly more oil). Place thumb over the nozzle and vigorously shake. Squirt on some chopped lettuce. Sprinkle it with a couple of shakes of oregano. Garnish with a tomato wedge (two if the customer is a regular), and you are finished.

As a step up, the salad I made tonight even included local tomatoes, cucumber and carrots. Pizza pie and salad with leftovers for tomorrow. Perfect. Here is my dressing recipe for home:

Italian Vinaigrette
3 T olive oil
3 T red wine vinegar (or I used apple cider vinegar)
pinch of oregano, salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese (optional)

Combine the oil, vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper. Toss salad with dressing and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese.


We are heading to Boston tomorrow and leaving the computer at home, so no posts for several days. I hope to bring back news of exciting adventures and fun family time. Do you have any suggestions for restaurants in the North End/Financial District of Boston?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pickles


I have been learning about the benefits of naturally fermented foods recently. One food that can be fermented is a cucumber. They are referred to as lacto-fermented pickles. I was inspired by a recipe at Healthy Green Kitchen. She credits Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon with the recipe. This is interesting because that cook book has been popping up everywhere in my reading lately. I just ordered a copy, and I'm sure that I'll be talking about it more once it arrives. We started the pickles on Saturday and opened them up yesterday. I highly recommend them. They are crisp, fresh, sour and garlicky with a light dill flavor. Best of all, they are super easy. Here is my take on the pickles:

Pickles
4-5 kirby cucumbers, washed and sliced in half
5 garlic scapes, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 T dried dill
1 T sea salt
1 cup filtered water
very clean 1 or 2 qt. wide-mouth mason jar with screw-top lid (run through the dishwasher before using to ensure it is sterilized, if you have one)

Place cucumbers, garlic scapes and dill into 1-2 jars. Mix salt and water in a measuring cup and add to the jar. Add additional water to completely cover the cucumbers and scapes. Make sure the liquid is about 1 inch below the top of the jar. Screw the top on the jar tightly and allow to sit at room temperature for three days.

Healthy Green Kitchen says, "After this time, go ahead and open the jar. The liquid should be pretty fizzy, which means the lacto-fermentation was successful. If there is any type of “off smell”, discard and start again (I’m mentioning this as a caution, but also want to mention that I have been lacto-fermenting for years, and I have never had anything go wrong)."

Once opened, move your jar to the refrigerator for storage. Lacto-fermentation will continue in the colder temperature, but at a much slower rate, and the garlic scapes should mellow a bit over time.

Cucumber on FoodistaCucumber

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Zucchini Pancakes

I'm usually the one that comes home from work starving, but yesterday my husband was the hungry one. We have a large supply of squash in the fridge, but I was at a loss for new delicious, nutritious ways to prepare them. Chopped up and sauteed in butter, in stir-fry and burritos. Check, check and check. I tried to think of something fast, and decided to make zucchini pancakes.


I grew up with very sensible dinners that looked like a picture in the nutrition brochures. My mom always tried to have a protein and starch on half the plate, and a yellow and green vegetable on the other half. This is not one of those dinners.

I got a little over zealous with the egg, so they almost tasted like omelets. A dinner of zucchini omelets with salad, how very European of us. I adjusted the recipe to make it less eggy.

Zucchini Pancakes
2 medium zucchini, shredded
2 scapes, finely chopped
2 eggs, beaten
2 T Parmesan cheese
flour, if necessary
oil
salt and pepper

Squeeze as much liquid as possible out of the zucchini and mix in the scapes, eggs and cheese. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat and add a thin layer of oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Spoon in the mixture and cook until golden (about 2-3 minutes per side). Repeat the process until all of the pancakes are prepared. As the mixture sits, the zucchini will release more liquid. If the mixture starts to get runny, add a tablespoon of flour. Serve warm.

We ate the leftovers for lunch today in a cold salad and they were good.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Heirloom Tomato and Mediterranean Tuna Salad Napoleons

There is a blog called A + M that has a weekly recipe/cooking contest on a featured ingredient. We have entered twice before, once with a Deconstructed Eggplant Parmesan Salad (for fresh mozzarella) and another time with Cherry Chutney topped Pakoras (for cherries). I thought both of these were pretty good. They tasted great and were creative, but neither one even made it into the final list. I guess I shouldn't feel too bad because there have been between 100 and 200 recipes in entered in both of those rounds.



The contest topic for this week is Heirloom Tomatoes, and we decided to try throwing our hat in the ring once again. We tried to think of something that was fresh, summery and unique for the tomatoes. We decided to create a no-cook dish with Mediterranean tuna salad layered with tomatoes. Here's the recipe:

Heirloom Tomato and Mediterranean Tuna Salad Napoleons Serves 4

16 ounces tuna
16 ounces cannellini beans
1 handful Ni├žoise olives, pitted and chopped
1 small roasted red pepper, finely chopped
2 tablespoons capers
3 scapes, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
2 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
4 cups salad greens
Parmesan cheese curls

Combine the tuna, beans, olives, peppers, capers and scapes in a mixing bowl. Mix the oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, herbes de Provence and drizzle over the tuna mixture. Layer the salad greens, tuna mixture, tomatoes and top with cheese curls.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Week 8


We passed by Saint Patrick Old Cathedral School this morning on our way to pick up our CSA share, and noticed that they had sign for a yard sale. We were intrigued! Both my husband and I love the treasure hunt aspect of yard sales and church rummage sales, and this had the added bonus of offering a peak inside the school building. We were drawn to the above poster, but not big fans of the silver frame and bit concerned about some mildew and foxing around the edges of the print. We decided to go get our veggies and think it over. On our way home, we purchased it and it is now hanging near our table. I'm looking forward to doing some research on the poster and learning more about it.


It's hard to believe that we are up to the eighth week of the farm share. I'll admit that I was a bit disappointed with the volume and variety this week. I was hoping that we would get some peppers and tomatoes, but I guess it is still too early. It seems like the volume has been down the last couple of weeks, and I'm wondering if the heat wave is adversely affecting some of the plants. All in all, I'm still very pleased with the Foodstockings CSA, I think it has been a good value, and everyone involved is very nice. This week we will be enjoying carrots, fennel, cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, collard greens, mustard greens and heads of garlic.

Yesterday I wrote about how I couldn't find the salmon orzo salad recipe, and then I found it in our big organization effort this afternoon. Ha, ha, ha. For now, the loose recipes are in a file folder waiting further organization.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer Salmon Orzo Salad

My mother-in-law makes a great salmon orzo salad with cranberries, asparagus, and goat cheese. We decided that it would be the perfect dish to share with a dinner guest coming over last night. We have gotten the recipe from her more than once, but I couldn't find it anywhere. I have an undependable system for organizing recipes; I stick them inside my cookbooks. Slips of paper with my great aunt's famous chicken, my friend's lentils, a few pages from magazines, and more are all stuck inside the cover of my Joy of Cooking. I looked through other cookbooks and there was a recipe or two in each one of them as well. I have started saving recipes on the computer which works for recipes I find on-line, but I never type up the ones I get hard copies of... What is your system for keeping track of recipes? How does it work for you? Tomorrow we are dedicating the day to some deep cleaning and organizing. When you live in a TINY space, it is more necessary than ever to purge belongings and keep everything super organized because it doesn't take much for things to spiral into total chaos. I'll let you know what I come up with on the recipe organization front.


We served our Salmon Orzo Salad with a green salad of lettuce, green bell pepper and cucumber. I never did find the recipe for the orzo, so here is our recreation from memory:

Summer Salmon Orzo Salad serves 4 as a main dish, or 6-8 as a side dish
Because it is summer and asparagus is no longer in season, we used green beans instead.

16 oz. orzo
water
1 lb. green beans, trimmed
1 lb. salmon
3/4 C dried cranberries
5 green onions, finely chopped
6 -8 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

Dressing
1/4 C olive oil
juice of one lemon
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 T Dijon mustard
pinch of salt and pepper

Cook the orzo according to the package instructions. Drain and add to a large mixing bowl. Pour the dressing over the top and mix together to prevent the orzo from sticking. Steam the green beans until al dente and add to the mix. Salt and pepper the salmon and place in a hot pan lightly coated with oil. Cook over medium high heat for 4 - 6 minutes per side (depending on the thickness of your fish) until the fish easily flakes with a fork. Remove the salmon from heat and flake into bite size pieces with a fork. Add the cranberries, onions and goat cheese. Can be served warm or chilled.

Energy saving tip: I placed the green beans in a bamboo steamer over the pasta pot and cooked them together.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Angelo's of Mulberry Street

We live very close to Little Italy in New York City. Little Italy is a busy, touristy area with hawkers out in front of the restaurants pressuring passersby to eat dinner in their establishment. Most of the places are almost interchangeable because they all have menus serving the same Italian-American classics. We have eaten at a couple of places when we have family in town, but we are never sure where to go because they all blur together. Once we tried asking an old-timer from the neighborhood which restaurants were the best and he refused to answer the question. We asked which ones to avoid, and he replied, "I don't know you. I don't know who you know." He went on to explain that there are a lot of "wise guys" in Little Italy and he didn't want it getting around that he was suggesting one restaurant or bad mouthing another. I think of the mob as a thing of the past; something that died away in the 1960s or 70s. Is it still around today? I don't know, but it was fascinating to hear the old-timer's concerns. Just in case, I'm not going to say anything negative, but I will give a recommendation.



Last night we got home from work, and the apartment was hot as Hades. Neither one of us could imagine cooking, so we decided to go out. A friend of ours has been harassing us to try Angelo's and last night we acquiesced and gave it a try. We ended up sitting in a funny little room in the back, it was a little tight, but it was fine. The service was impeccable and the food was even better. I wish I had photos of our meal, but we were sans camera last night and the cell phone pictures just didn't do the food justice (the phone cameras don't do well in low light).

We started with Carpaccio Veneziana which included thin slices of raw fillet of beef served on a bed of arugula dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette, capers and generous curls of Parmesan cheese. The combination of peppery arugula, the tangy capers and the pungent flavor of the cheese with the paper thin slices of tender beef was amazing. We chose Rigatoni Del Montannaro for our pasta course. This dish is a Wednesday night special and was described as rigatoni with sausage and wild mushrooms in a special sauce. The waiter came out with two large bowls for us; it was hard to believe that this was a single serving split in half. Ahh, heaven in a bowl. It turns out that the special sauce included tomatoes, cream and cognac. It reminded me of a really good vodka sauce. Delicious! For the meat course we chose the Scaloppine di Vitello Caprese. The thin slices of veal sauteed with asparagus, zucchini and artichoke hearts were lovely and fresh. I was stuffed by this point, and it was a hard for our taste buds to appreciate the delicate flavor after the big showy flavor of the tomato cream sauce with sausage and wild mushrooms. I could only eat three bites of the meat course and then I had to take the rest home. I packed up the leftovers over lettuce for today's lunch and it was fabulous. I ate it cold and the artichoke flavor really came through.

Angelo's gets an A. It's a great place to go for a treat.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Summer Tomatoes


I woke up yesterday morning racking my brain for a dinner that would require no cooking and use our leftover pesto. I decided it would be wonderful to have sandwiches with fresh mozzarella, tomato and pesto. We could get some bread and cheese from around the corner, but finding GOOD tomatoes is a little bit more difficult. I never used to like tomatoes. I blame it on those mealy, unripe tomatoes that show up in the grocery store throughout the year. I have now decided that I don't hate all tomatoes. I just hate bad tomatoes.

I got to work and learned that one of my coworkers had brought in some home grown tomatoes to share. What luck! She offered me a beautiful, deep red tomato. She said that she will be bringing some in most days... I'll have to be careful to not get too greedy, and I'll have to think of a way to thank her.

We enjoyed our simple supper of bread, fresh mozzarella, tomato and walnut pesto. It was so good that we had it again today for lunch. The tomato was perfect and complemented the creamy mozzarella and the basil and garlic of the pesto. It was the essence of summertime in a sandwich.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Homemade Pasta with Pesto and Summer Squash

We were starving when we got home from work yesterday. We had thought of making stuffed zucchini, but it was much too hot to turn on the oven. We decided to have a snack of bread and cheese to tide us over and allow us to come up with a plan for dinner. We wanted a quick meal that would use up vegetables with limited heat. We had a big bunch of basil so we decided to make walnut pesto, and somehow we made the leap from there to homemade pasta to accompany it. My husband - who hates flour because of the mess - even volunteered to make the pasta. So dinner wasn't so quick after all, but it was worth the time investment. Homemade pasta has a rich, buttery taste which pairs nicely with the herby, garlicky flavor of the pesto. I was sad when I felt full because I just wanted to keep eating.









Pasta serves 3
1 C flour
1/2 t salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 T water

Mix flour and salt. Make a well in the center and add the egg and water. Mix together. Mixture should form a stiff dough. Pour out onto a well floured counter, and knead for 3 to 4 minutes. Roll out to desired thickness and cut into strips. Place over the rim of the mixing bowl. Let rest. Drop into boiling water and cook 3 to 5 minutes.



Walnut Pesto inspired by kiss my spatula
2 C loosely packed fresh basil leaves, rinsed and dried
1/4 C coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 C Parmesan cheese
1/2 C olive oil
1 large garlic clove
salt and pepper to taste

Blend all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Store any leftovers in an air tight container.

We tossed the pasta with some sauteed summer squash and pesto, and added a dollop of pesto on top.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Pork Chops with White Wine and Mustard Sauce


Saturday night we prepared a feast, but by the time we polished off the eggplant caviar we were only hungry enough for a little taste of the meal. This worked out well because we were really hungry and tired by the time we came back from Oyster Bay yesterday, and there it was waiting for us.

These pork chops and sauce are an example of my husband's talents at work. They were served over a mix of red and white quinoa with sauteed onions and a white wine and mustard sauce. The unexpected ingredient is Old Bay. He sprinkled it over the chops before frying them. He is a huge Old Bay fan. Too much of it does something strange to my mouth, so he let me regulate how much was used. The results were fabulous. The flavors combined beautifully.

Pork Chops with White Wine and Mustard Sauce serves 2
2 pork chops
Old Bay
oil
1 large onion, sliced
1 scallion, sliced
1 T Dijon mustard
1/4 C white wine
1 T butter

Sprinkle each side of the pork chops with Old Bay to taste. Heat up a cast iron pan over medium high heat. Lightly oil the pan and place the chops in the pan. Cook on each side until browned. Add the onions to the pan. Place the chops on top of the onions, and cook until they are tender. When the onions are tender and the pork chops are cooked through, add the mustard, white wine and butter. Heat through and then serve.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Oyster Bay

We took a day trip to Oyster Bay today. We had fun walking around, seeing the town, visiting Sagamore Hill , swimming and trying out the local cuisine. It was a hot one, so the swimming was definitely the highlight.

We picked a place for lunch that looked fitting for Teddy Roosevelt's former home, Canterbury's Oyster Bar. It had dark wood trim, fish prints, historic photos of the village, a bison head, etc. I expected the menu to offer some great seafood and steak options. They did have a few promising options, but they also had some unusual pairings like a swordfish sandwich with hummus, guacamole and bacon. Really?

This was my salad. Beautiful, right? It was kind of flavorless, but it gave me some inspiration for something I could make at home that would be even better.

My husband chose the clam roll. I'm allergic to shell fish, so we never really have it at home. When we are at the shore, I always encourage him to get shellfish (partly to ease my conscience that I'm not depriving him). This was not the treat I was hoping for. He said it reminded him of a school lunch (apparently they got clam rolls for school lunch).

Canterbury's gets an A+ for ambiance, but only passes on the food.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Week 7

This week's share looks skimpier than previous deliveries, but it has a nice variety. We will be enjoying bok choy, cucumbers, kale, carrots, summer squash, zucchini, lettuce, kohlrabi and scapes.


We went to the Union Square Greenmarket to round out our veggies. While we have been eating a lot of vegetables since starting the share, I don't feel like we have gotten much variety. We have eaten a lot of greens, radishes and salad turnips, and I'm ready for something new. Last week, I went to a reading by Leda Meredith on her book, The Locavore’s Handbook: A Busy Person’s Guide to Eating Local on a Budget. One of her tips for saving money was to get to the farmers' market at the end of the day when farmers are packing up and sell things at a discounted rate. We decided to try it out. I felt a little bit like a cast member from Gleaners, but the deals were incredible. A pint of blueberries, a beautiful big bunch of basil, and green beans were each only $1! We came home with a bargain shopping high.


We also got some little baby eggplants at the greenmarket. I had just seen a recipe earlier in the day for Eggplant Caviar in an old issue of Real Simple. I loved the name and the recipe, so we gave it a try. We didn't have all the ingredients, so I made some adjustments. Here is my version of the recipe:

Eggplant Caviar inspired by Real Simple
4 baby eggplants or 1 eggplant, peeled and chopped
2 scallions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 T olive oil
1 T apple cider vinegar

Saute the eggplant until very tender. Combine the ingredients and smash with a fork to break up the eggplant. Enjoy with bread or pita.

The version I actually prepared was too heavy on scallions, so I have adjusted the quantity. I only coarsely chopped them and they were a bit chewy, so I have adjusted the directions to finely chopped. Because of this, yours will look a bit different from my photo.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fennel may not be that bad after all...

About 10 years ago, I found a recipe and it intrigued me, so I trotted out to my grocery store to purchase all of the ingredients. I came home and followed the directions explicitly, and then sat down to enjoy the fruits of my labor. The results literally made me gag (is that too graphic?). What was the dish? It had mango, fennel and onions stir fried with rice noodles. Or at least that's what I remember the combination to be, but as I type those ingredients, it sounds really disgusting. It was from a cookbook that I felt was very dependable and had never steered me wrong. Now I'm not sure what made it attractive to me in the first place because I hate black licorice and anise flavored anything.

I was not in the habit of throwing away food, so I painstakingly removed every little piece of chopped fennel. It still wasn't enjoyable because the flavor of the fennel had infiltrated the rest of the dish. I was unable to finish it, and had to throw the leftovers away.

Because of this experience, I have steer cleared of anything with fennel in it ever since. If a recipe has fennel in the title, I skip to the next one. If a menu lists fennel as an ingredient in a dish, I say, "No thank you." Well, what do you know? We got fennel in our farm share this last week! I shoved it in the crisper drawer and hid it under a bunch of veggies I like, and it has been there until today.



We had company coming over for dinner tonight and we decided to make a Moroccan inspired bison stew served over quinoa with salad. At the last minute, I decided to prepare the fennel too. I looked for some ideas on-line and came up with a recipe from the Barefoot Contessa for Roasted Fennel with Parmesan. It has not cooled off enough in NYC to make me want to turn on my oven, so I adopted it for the stove top. I decided to go out on a limb and try a small sliver of the final dish. It wasn't bad. I actually dished up a serving for myself, and not only ate it but enjoyed it. Everyone agreed it was the best part of the meal. The licorice flavor really mellowed out and the Parmesan cheese was the prominent flavor. Here is the recipe:

Pan Fried Fennel with Parmesan
2 bulbs of fennel
2 t. olive oil
1/4 C water
pinch of sea salt and pepper
2 t Parmesan cheese

Remove the stems and bottom. Slice into 1/4 inch vertical strips. Heat up the oil and add the fennel. Saute until it starts to brown. Add the water and cover. Cook until tender and stir occasionally. (The fennel may be quite dark by the end, but don't worry) Place in a serving bowl, sprinkle with salt, pepper and cheese.

I had planned on this post being about the Moroccan inspired bison stew - that's why the stew is front and center in the photo - but the results were really disappointing. We made a batch of beef "tagine" two summer's ago and it was amazing. We wanted to recreate it tonight, but I couldn't find the recipe anywhere. I thought it was saved on the computer or written on a slip of paper in a cookbook, but no luck. I couldn't find anything similar online. Oh well. I'll focus on the fennel victory.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Locavore's Handbook


I planned the quick meal of fried rice for dinner (which my husband ended up making) because I wanted to attend a reading. Leda Meredith spoke and read excerpts of her book, The Locavore’s Handbook: A Busy Person’s Guide to Eating Local on a Budget, at the Bluestockings Book Store. The book talk was entertaining. She spoke about the health, environmental and economic reasons to eat local food. She shared her experience of eating a strict local food diet, in her case food within 250 miles of NYC. She blogged along the way and ended up writing her first book about it. At readings for the first book, attendees always questioned how to afford the money and time to eat local food. Her answers are contained in the new book. The most interesting thing she shared tonight was The Locavore's Guide to New York City. I just quickly checked-out the website, and it's a great resource. She lets you know which local products are available on each day at the greenmarkets. Very helpful.

Fried Rice... or Couscous


I planned on making a quick dinner of fried rice tonight. I texted my husband toward the end of the day to ask him to put on some rice if he got home first. On my way home I realized that there might be a problem. I remembered as I stepped on the subway that we probably didn't have any rice at home. I called him when I got off the train to ask if he found any rice. He didn't. I offered to pick some up on my walk home, but he assured me that he had it under control. Mmm, what could that mean?

When I got home, he explained that he was making fried couscous. It was delicious. I could pick up the strong flavor of the turnip greens, the subtle garlic flavor of the scapes, the sesame oil and the salty soy sauce all with the chewy texture of the couscous. As we were eating, I asked him for the proportions and directions so that I would be able to write it up as a recipe. He told me that he cooked everything separately and combined it at the end. At this point I broke a cardinal rule, and I criticized his technique. When someone makes you dinner, you should tell them it is delicious and thank them for it; you should not criticize how they made it. I was so shocked by his plan of action that it just slipped right out.

I was taught to make fried rice by heating up some oil, adding some cooked rice, and once it was heated through to pour beaten egg over the top and scramble it all together. My husband is not alone in scrambling the eggs separately. I was reading through some blogs during lunch today and found that they had fried rice for lunch at Sixpoint too. Ha, there must be something in the air. She made her fried rice with separate scrambled eggs too. What do you think? Should the eggs be cooked separately? Here are my directions with his ingredient list:

Fried Rice/Couscous
2 C water
1 C couscous
1 salad turnip with its greens
1 zucchini
1 carrot
2 small heads of bok choy
handful of scapes
2 T olive oil
4 eggs
1/4 C sesame oil
2 T soy sauce
1 T honey


Bring the water to a boil, add the couscous, turn off the heat, cover and let sit for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Chop the vegetables and add to hot wok or deep skillet with olive oil. Cook until tender. Add the couscous or rice. Cook until it is heated through. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and add the sesame oil, soy sauce and honey. Pour the mixture over the vegetables and couscous/rice. Toss to combine and cook until the eggs are firm. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Blackened Chicken Wraps


Once you decide to make some burritos, you have committed. You have purchased a package of tortillas and need to eat them up. We have had vegetable burritos, breakfast burritos and tonight blackened chicken wraps. My husband took the lead on dinner tonight. His vision was to combine the spiciness of the blackened chicken with the sweet tangy flavor of the vinaigrette. Mmm, mmm, mmm. Spicy goodness. They require just a bit of heat from the top of the stove, but the results are fresh and easy. A great quick meal for a hot steamy night.

Blackened Chicken Wraps
1 large chicken breast, cut into fillets
1 oz blackened seasoning
4 scapes, chopped
1 salad turnip, peeled and shaved into strips
1 carrot, scrubbed and shaved into strips
1 shallot, chopped
lettuce
1 T olive oil
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 heaping t honey
1 t soy sauce

Coat the chicken fillets with blackened seasoning and pan fry until cooked through. Let cool and then slice. Saute the scapes until softened. Mix the turnips, carrot, shallot, lettuce and chicken in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey and soy sauce and pour over mix. Toss to combine. Place a couple of scoops in the middle of a tortilla, roll up, and enjoy.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Quinoa Burgers with Beet and Radish Salad

I planned on making this dinner last night, but by the time we got home from a day out and about we decided to stretch the leftover burrito mix with an extra can of beans. We spent the day in Hoboken visiting the Hoboken Historical Museum and following their map for a walking tour of historic sites. Frank Sinatra wasn't the only famous person born in Hoboken. Did you know that Alfred Steiglitz, Dorothea Lange and Stephen Foster are all from there too? I didn't until yesterday. Hoboken makes a great day trip. It's got a small town feel with big city amenities.


Tonight for dinner we had quinoa burgers with beet and radish salad. It took a while to make dinner, but it made enough for several meals and it was delicious. The quinoa burgers were crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and full of flavor. The beets and radishes were cooked which mellowed their bite and combined nicely with the mustard vinaigrette. It had never occurred to me before to cook radishes as a stand alone dish, but I was trolling the web for radish ideas when I came across a whole list of radish recipes. Jack pot!

Quinoa Burgers makes 8 patties
1 C quinoa
1 1/2 C water
1 bunch greens, chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 salad turnips, shredded
1/2 large zucchini, shredded
2 eggs
1 t Old Bay (or more to taste)
Oil

Rinse the quinoa and add to a hot dry sauce pan. Cook until the grains start to smell nutty and add the water. Bring to a boil, and then lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Set aside and let cool.

Saute the greens until tender. Squeeze the turnips and zucchini to get rid of the liquid. Add the shallots, turnips and zucchini to a skillet. Cook until they are soft.

Beat eggs and add the Old Bay. Combine all of the ingredients and chill.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Shape mixture into eight 1/2-inch-thick patties, pressing firmly. Cook in batches until golden brown and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.

I could taste the Old Bay when I tasted a bit of the mixture raw, but when it was cooked it mostly disappeared. It just added some complexity to the flavor. If you would like to be able to taste the Old Bay you will want to add at least 2 teaspoons.

Beet and Radish Salad serves 2-4
3 small beets
2 long French radishes
2 T olive oil
1 T apple cider vinegar
1 T mustard
lettuce or salad greens

Scrub the beets and radishes. Boil them until they are fork tender. Let cool and then peel the beets. Cut the beets and radishes into bite size pieces.

Combine oil, vinegar and mustard and pour over the radish and beets. Chill in the fridge. Serve over lettuce.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Vegetable Burritos


I'm a cook. I can follow a recipe and come up with the desired results. Since meeting my husband, I have even gotten better at using a recipe as inspiration and adapting the ingredients/directions to what I have on hand. My husband, on the other hand, is a chef (not for a living). He is great at looking at the ingredients before him and coming up with a scrumptious meal. I tell you this because last night my husband took the lead on dinner, and it was lots of fun to see his thought process at work. It was interesting to see how he chopped the vegetables, cooked and then combined them all in a way different from how I would do it. The results were delicious too.

He made vegetable burritos and guacamole. We have made burritos before. The previous burritos were good and really fast, but if you have little bit more time this recipe is even better. I loved the combination of vegetables with the scapes, beans and cheese. As always, our cooking decisions are driven by what is available from our farm share. Cooking radishes and salad turnips for a burrito might sound bizarre, but we really needed to eat them up. If we were head to a store to buy ingredients for vegetable burritos, we might select other things. This can provide inspiration to others needing to eat up some random veggies in the fridge. Try them in a burrito!

Vegetable Burritos serves 4
2 small bunches of turnip greens, chopped
2 small bunches of radish greens, chopped
1 bunch of beet greens, chopped
4 salad turnips, chopped
4 radishes, chopped
handful of scapes, finely chopped
1 can of pinto beans
cheddar cheese, grated
salsa
guacamole
tortillas

Saute the greens until tender. Place in a large mixing bowl. Saute the salad turnips, radishes and scapes until browned, and add to the mixing bowl. Drain the beans and rinse. Drain well and add to the mixing bowl. The heat of the vegetables will heat up the beans. Combine ingredients and mash with a fork until the salad turnips and beans break up a bit. Heat up the tortillas over the burner or in a dry skillet to soften them. Layer the cheese, the vegetable and bean mixture, salsa and guacamole in the tortilla. Roll up and enjoy.

Guacamole
1 avocado, roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 pinch of salt

Mash together with a fork. Serve immediately.

Some people like to add tomatoes, onions and lime, but we are purists and like that avocado flavor to shine through. Of course, you should add any other ingredients you enjoy.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Week 6


We woke up with a lot of vegetables still in the fridge, and it was already time for another farm share pick-up. I decided to make a breakfast chock full of veggies. I steamed a bunch of kohlrabi greens (very similar to kale) and one of radish greens until they were tender. In the meantime, I chopped up 7 garlic scapes. I sauteed the scapes and once they were tender, added the greens. I spread them out in the pan and added 4 beaten eggs. I cooked them until they started to firm up around the edges (about 8-10 minutes). Sprinkled some soft goat cheese over the top and placed it under the broiler for 3-4 minutes. You can see in the photo it looks like greens with a little bit of egg, but it was really good. We enjoyed it with some bread from the Sullivan St. Bakery. Mmm, better than eating out.

After breakfast, we headed over to the Union Square Greenmarket where we made a beeline for some of our favorite stalls. We picked up a loaf of the whole wheat multi-grain bread from Our Daily Bread Bakery. I should consider branching out and trying something else, but this is just soooo good that we have gotten it for the last 3 times. We headed over to Elk Trails Bison, and we picked out some bison stew meat and beef livers. I love these farmers. They wouldn't sell us the stew meat until we promised not to brown it first. We promised, and were sent on our way with some crock pot instructions for the stew meat. We got some eggs from Northshire Farm in Herkimer Co, and had a lovely chat with the farmer. We learned that he's been making the trek from West Winfield, NY to NYC for 17 years. My husband grew up not far away, so we know that drive well. Picked up some milk from Milk Thistle Farm, grabbed some peaches and headed on our way.

After the farmers' market, we walked over to pick-up our CSA share. Here's the photo of this week's loot:

This week we will be enjoying summer squash, zucchini, purple and green kohlrabi, bok choy, fennel, lettuce, mustard greens, salad turnips, radishes and garlic scapes plus the leftovers from last week.

Stay tuned to learn how we do on eating our way through all of these vegetables.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Kohlrabi Hash


I woke up this morning wondering what I should make for dinner tonight. In my half-asleep state, I was trying to figure out what we had left in the fridge from the farm share. I could think of greens, radishes, turnips... aha, we have kohlrabi. I was excited to remember the kohlrabi because that guaranteed something new and different to prepare, eat and write about. I decided right then that I wanted to have kohlrabi hash with steak and salad.

I had seen kohlrabi in the stores, but I had never purchased it, prepared it, or eaten it. I got some tips from our CSA coordinator last weekend, and I double checked on the internet to make sure I wasn't missing out on any other stellar ideas. Everyone seemed to agree that kohlrabi hash was a great way to go. When our CSA coordinator mentioned kohlrabi hash, I envisioned grated kohlrabi in a cast iron pan cooking away in some olive oil, but when I looked up kohlrabi hash on-line all the recipes were inspired by potato pancakes. They included eggs, breadcrumbs, onion and seasonings. Of course all 5 or 6 of the recipes ended up referring back to one source – funny how that happens. We decided to go with the original idea - simple kohlrabi hash browns.

We made a salad with salad mix, radishes, carrots and salad turnips from our CSA share. Salad turnips are interesting because from the outside they look like regular turnips with a white waxy skin, but once the skin is peeled off, the texture is much closer to jicama. It has a slightly sweet flavor and is great raw. Salad turnips and kohlrabi are the two new things I have tried so far through our farm share. We topped the salad off with our house vinaigrette. My husband's salad dressing came through yet again - it was delicious!

We cooked the steak in a cast iron pan on the stove top. Before living in an apartment, the idea of frying a good thick steak would have appalled me. I thought the only way to cook them was on a grill, but they turn out great this way. We generously salted and peppered each side and placed it in a hot pan over medium high heat with a bit of olive oil. The trick is to leave it alone for as long as it needs to cook on that side, ours was over an inch thick so we did 6-7 minutes per side. This part is hard for me because I'm a cook that likes to fiddle (stir the pot, push thing around while they are sauteing, etc.). But in this case, it's best to set the timer and leave it alone until it is time to flip it because it will create a wonderful crust on the steak. Here is a photo of the finished meal:


Kohlrabi Hash Browns
2 heads of kohlrabi, peeled
olive oil
salt and pepper

Grate the kohlrabi with a box grater or food processor. Place the grated kohlrabi in a piece of cheese cloth or paper towel, and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Heat up a skillet and generously coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil. Dump in the kohlrabi and spread out into an even layer. Cook for a couple of minutes over medium heat and then flip. Cook until the kohlrabi is browned on both sides. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

The kohlrabi hash browns were great! We both wished there were more so we could go back for seconds. They are very similar to potato hash browns, but slightly sweeter and a slightly firmer texture.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Chicken Salad Crostini


The East Coast is in the middle of a horrible heat wave; it was 103 yesterday and 100 degrees today in NYC. The electric company is urging everyone to cut back on their electricity consumption because there are concerns of blackouts. Because of the temperatures, we were determined to prepare a dinner that required no heat.

We cooked some chicken in the crock pot over night, and put it in the fridge for the day. My goal for dinner was to make something new and different that used the chicken and CSA veggies, but required no cooking. Nothing came to mind, but luckily my husband came up with the idea of chicken salad sandwiches with homemade mayonnaise. We discovered in the process that the bread was a bit stale, so the sandwiches became crostini.


Chicken Salad Crostini
2 salad turnips, peeled and chopped
1 French breakfast radish, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 C shredded chicken
2 T mayonnaise
salad greens
toasted slices of bread

Mix the turnips, radish, carrots, shallot, chicken and mayonnaise. Layer the bread, salad greens and chicken salad.

Mayonnaise
inspired by Joy of Cooking
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 t Dijon mustard
2 t vinegar
1/2 t salt
3/4 C olive oil

Blend egg, egg yolk and half the mustard in food processor or blender for several seconds. Add half the vinegar and salt and blend for several more seconds. Slowly add the oil while the blender or food processor is running. (We are able to pour the oil through a small hole in the top, and it controls the pace for us.) Once the oil has been added, turn off the machine. Fold in the rest of the mustard, vinegar and salt. The mayonnaise will only last 1 -2 days in the fridge.


The crostinis were ok. We kept a lot of the marinade in the chicken salad, but it ended up not tasting great with the veggies. Maybe it burned a bit? Next time I would make the chiken salad with plain shredded chicken.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Lentil Salad with Beets

I have gotten a bit behind on my posts during the busy holiday weekend. In addition to being 4th of July, it was also my husband's birthday. We made time to head to the Farmers' Market at Union Square Saturday morning to pick up some food to supplement our farm share. We got some chicken from Quattro's Game Farm. They also had some pheasant and other birds labeled wild game, and we asked if they were wild animals that they had killed. We learned that they were "wild" breeds that were farm raised because it is illegal to sell the meat of wild animals. Interesting. I think it is misleading to label them "wild." Heritage breeds or something else seems more appropriate, but we bought a cut-up chicken in a bag of marinade and some chicken breasts. We also got some non-homogenized milk from Milk Thistle , a delicious loaf of bread from a Our Daily Bread, and eggs.


We brought home our loot and decided to prepare some chicken in our dutch oven, red quinoa and a cold lentil salad. Here's the recipe for the lentil salad inspired by Martha Stewart:

Lentil Salad with Beets, inspired by Martha Stewart
6 C water
1 1/2 C French lentils
3 medium beets, scrubbed
3 T balsamic vinegar
2 T apple cider vinegar
2 t Dijon mustard
1/4 C olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
pinch of salt
4 carrots, chopped
salad greens
goat cheese

Bring water and lentils to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer uncovered until the lentils are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Drain and put aside to cool in a mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, place beets in a medium saucepan. Add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cooking until fork-tender. Remove beets from water, and set aside until cool enough to handle. Peel and slice.

In a coffee cup, combine the mustard, balsamic vinegar, cider vinegar, salt and oil. Add the shallots. Mix the vinaigrette dressing, lentils and carrots. Cover and place in the refrigerator to chill.

When ready to serve, layer the greens, lentil mixture, sliced beets and crumble soft goat cheese over the top.

The first night we had this as a side dish, but we have since eaten the leftovers as a meal.

Week #5

We had missed our farm share vegetables greatly, so it was with great anticipation that we walked over to pick up the latest installment yesterday. On the way, we realized we weren't the only ones that were excited...

New York City is still under the spell of World Cup mania. Each country seems to have created at least one "headquarters" location to watch the game. The Germans picked Loreley Restaurant and Biergarten and were spilling out into the middle of the street to celebrate Germany's victory over Argentina. (The photo doesn't do the crowd justice. The sea of revelers had to part to let cars through.)

Here are the vegetables for this week:
We will be enjoying radishes, carrots, chioggia beets (they have stripes), garlic scapes, kohlrabi, turnips, salad greens, and braising greens (mustard greens, Asian greens, kale and more).

Friday, July 2, 2010

Hummus

Tomorrow we will finally get our next share. I have really missed all those veggies this week. In the mean time, here's one of our favorite recipes. We love hummus with vegetables, pita, on salad, with falafel, or even CSA radishes, turnips and crackers.


Hummus
1 can chickpeas
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
2 T tahini
1 T cumin
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 T olive oil
water
salt to taste

Add all of the ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. If the texture is not to your liking, add water teaspoon by teaspoon until reaching the desired results.

I usually like a really thick hummus for a dip and a thinner texture to put in a pita with falafel.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Bok Choy and Mushroom Stir Fry


Before we left for vacation, we had to eat up some bok choy. We had a bunch left from week 2 and then we got 2 more bunches in week 3, so we had to find a way to use A LOT of bok choy. I decided to make a stir fry. There are great mushrooms available in Chinatown, so I headed over to pick out some king oyster, oyster and shitake mushrooms. I ended up cooking each of the vegetables individually because we had such a large quantity of each.


Bok Choy and Mushroom Stir Fry
3 bunches of bok choy, cut into 1 inch wide strips
1/2 lb oyster mushrooms, slices
1/2 lb shitake mushrooms, sliced
2 king oyster mushrooms, diced
2 T olive oil
4 T sesame oil
4 T soy sauce
handful of sesame seeds

Saute bok choy in olive oil. Cook the mushrooms in half of the sesame oil and soy sauce until the liquid is absorbed and the mushrooms are tender. Combine and toss with the rest of the oil, soy sauce and sesame seeds.

We added sauteed chicken and served it over whole wheat couscous.
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