Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Chicken Bulgogi Salad

We always enjoy Bulgogi when we eat at Korean restaurants. Bulgogi is made from thin slices of steak (or sometimes chicken or pork). The meat is marinated with a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic and other ingredients such as scallions, or mushrooms. We have had it served by itself or with cellophane noodles.

We decided to recreate bulgogi at home, but with chicken that we had on hand. Because it was a scorcher again today, we decided to serve it over a salad. My husband already had the chicken thinly sliced and marinating by the time I got home from work. I rummaged through the fridge to see just how many salad fixings we had. We were going to be three for dinner tonight, so I had to stretch a bit. We ended up having spinach and finely shredded cabbage tossed in oil and vinegar. Topped with blanched green beans, chopped heirloom tomato, chicken and corn. It was very tasty, a little chewy because of the cabbage, but overall really good.

Chicken Bulgogi
2 large chicken breasts
1 T sesame oil
2 T tamari or soy sauce
5 green onions, chopped
1/2 small red onion, chopped
1 T maple syrup
1 t sesame seeds
2 T oil

Thinly slice the chicken (if it is slightly frozen this is much easier). Mix with the sesame oil, tamari, onions, maple syrup and sesame seeds. Cover and let marinate for at least an hour. Heat a wok or a deep frying pan, and add oil and the chicken and the marinade. Cook until the chicken is cooked through (about 5 minutes).

This post is part of Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

This post is part of Works-For-Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family.

New Profile Picture

I'm thinking of using a new profile picture. I have used different photos of meals we have made, but I want to use something more consistent. I figure the most appropriate thing to use is a picture of our kitchen. That is where all the magic happens, and I think our Manhattan kitchen might be of interest to people.

The entertaining thing is that our kitchen is really small, but it's not even THAT bad by Manhattan standards. We looked at apartments that were so small they didn't have ovens, or only had an under-the-counter fridge. When we walked in and looked around them, it would take me a minute to realize what was missing. I told the real estate agent I required an oven and a larger fridge. She seemed a bit surprised. Apparently a lot of people really don't cook.

What do you think? Now that I'm looking at it, I'm thinking I should clean off the fridge and straighten out (or remove) the basket of our picnic supplies. In case any of you were dreaming of living in Manhattan, or looking back with longing of past days in NYC, I'm providing you with a little taste of reality. We bought that island and pot rack. Can you imagine preparing a meal without it? There is almost no other counter space! The stove is a challenge because we can't fit more than one large pot at a time, but we make it work.

All in all we love our tiny apartment and kitchen. It has helped us whittle our belongings down to the truly essential (and we both have parents that are generous with garage/barn/attic storage space for things we want to keep for the long term). We love our location and are willing to sacrifice some space for all our area has to offer.

This post is part of Twister Tuesday at GNOWFGLINS.

This post is a part of Top 10 Tuesdays at Oh Amanda.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Red, Green or Christmas... Salsa

In New Mexico, when you order a meal they always ask, "Red, green, or Christmas?" They are asking about the type of chilies you would like. Would you like red, green or both (Christmas)? Tonight we had a bunch of tomatillos and several tomatoes that needed to be eaten pronto. We went on a little salsa making spree and made both red and green varieties.

I looked up several tomatillo salsa or salsa verde recipes and averaged them together to create a recipe we used tonight. I made one major change: I cooked the tomatillos in a cast iron skillet instead of oven roasting them as the recipes suggested. This hot weather friendly technique worked out well. We made our tomato salsa from a recipe we have used many times before.

Here is the finished product:

Of course red and green salsa is not enough for a meal, so we prepared several other veggies that needed to be eaten up too. My husband sauteed some onions, peppers and fennel. The fennel was strangely spicy. As he started cooking it, it made us start coughing the way hot peppers would. I'm back to not liking fennel. I had to pick it out of my veggies because it was making my tongue burn. The time I liked Parmesan fennel must have been a fluke.

My husband also cooked up some rainbow chard with garlic, and I prepared some black beans and local grass-fed steak. The steak was delicious - tender with lots of flavor! We both decided to have Christmas salsa. After the photo, we pretty much put the salsas on everything because they were so good!

Tomatillo Salsa or Salsa Verde
8 small tomatillos, quartered
1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 lime juice
1 jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, roughly chopped
1 thick slice of onion
1/2 bunch of cilantro, stems removed
1/4 t salt (or to taste)

Heat a cast iron skillet and coat the bottom with oil. Add the tomatillos and cook until softened. Remove from the pan and add to the food processor or blender. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving to let the flavors meld.

This post is part of Two for Tuesdays at A Moderate Life blog.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Local Foods Feast with Friends

Yesterday, we had a bunch of veggies to eat up, a clean apartment and no plans for the evening, so we decided to invite a couple of friends over for dinner. We have done almost no entertaining this summer. I blame it on the fact that it has been so hot. We have felt like eating simple meals that required limited cooking and lazing about in minimal clothing. Finally it is cooling off a bit, so we can start being more hospitable again.

We quickly decided on our menu. We prepared thin slices of raw beets and cucumbers with a smear of goat cheese for starters, plus our friends brought two types of feta, olives, hummus and pita. We almost didn't need dinner.

I made a corn and tomato salad with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and apple cider vinegar, one clove of garlic finely minced, and a pinch of salt and pepper. The last few time I cut corn off a cob, I made a huge mess. I recently picked up a tip from the blog How to Cook Like Your Grandmother that made a big difference. He suggested placing the corn cob in the middle of a bundt pan or an inverted bowl inside a bigger bowl. I don't have a bundt pan, so I used the latter method. It worked like a charm. I don't know why I never thought of it myself.

The other side was green beans with lots of garlic and some sesame seeds, but the real star was the pork chops with mustard sauce and onions. I made the corn and tomato salad and my husband made everything else. Everything was fabulous. All of the vegetables came for our CSA share, and the pork chops came from the Winkler Family Farm (we bought them at Whole Foods). We also served some lacto-fermented sauerkraut from Hawthorne Valley Farm. Here is a photo of the spread:

Pork Chops with Mustard Sauce and Onions
2 pork chops
Old Bay
1 onion with its greens*, sliced

Set the pork chops on the counter and let them reach room temperature. Dust both sides with Old Bay. Heat a cast iron skillet. Coat the bottom with oil. When it begins to smoke add the pork chops. Cook about 5 minutes per side (more if they are really thick). Remove from the heat. Let rest and then slice. In a separate pan, cook the onions stirring frequently. Cook until caramelized.

Our onions from our CSA share come with the greens still attached. If you don't have onion with greens, you may use an additional onion, or some scallions.

Mustard Sauce
6 oz beer (we used Brooklyn Brown)
1 T mustard
2 T butter

After the pork chops have been removed from the skillet, drain off the excess fat. Scrape the bottom of the pan, and add the beer to help deglaze it. Turn on the burner to medium heat. Add the mustard and butter. Whisk continually, and let cook down and thicken.

The heat was too hot for our sauce, and it "broke". The butter separated from the other flavorings. Don't worry if that happens - it's still delicious. We served our on the side (we use our creamer as a gravy boat).

This post is part of Two for Tuesdays at A Moderate Life blog.

Week 13

We went to go pick up our CSA share yesterday to find no tent, no people and no vegetables in the normal spot. We did get there a little later than usual because we had a busy morning, but we were still well within the 12-4 time slot. We decided to head into the Bluestockings Bookstore (they help organize the CSA) and see if they knew what was going on.

We were informed that they had been running into problems with the parks department (he used the phrase "the Man was keeping them down"), so the share pick-up point had to be moved. He directed us to walk around the corner to an address, someone would be there to let us in, climb to the roof, and we would find our vegetables. It almost felt like a scavenger hunt or a speakeasy during prohibition. We walked around the corner, a girl sitting in a lawn chair asked if we were with foodstockings, we said yes, and she let us in. We climbed 7 flights of stairs, and got to enjoy a great view of the city while picking out our vegetables.

This week we will be enjoying tomatoes (there are 3 additional heirlooms that I forgot to put in the photo), garlic, corn, green beans, collard greens, leeks, and onions.

Check back in to see how we eat it all up. The big challenge for the week: tomatoes. We still have some left from last week, and we got a bunch more this week. Readers have made some great suggestions for pasta sauce, but my husband doesn't really like red sauce. I mentioned to him that the tomatoes we got yesterday would make a great tomato sauce, and he responded that he thought they would make an even better salsa. So, I guess we will be having some salsa this week.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Adventures in Farming

I haven't told my coworkers about my blog. Maybe one of these days I will come clean, but for now it is a private part of my life. I have told them about my CSA share. None of them had heard of a farm share before, and it was an intriguing concept to them. Most of them don't really cook, it is amazing how few people in NYC really do. I guess it could be blamed on small apartments with even smaller kitchens, so many good restaurants only steps away, or busy lives with long hours at work. Anyways, I always try to bring a homemade lunch to work, so between that and the farm share, I'm really the odd woman out.

A couple of days after I mentioned my farm share, a coworker shared that he found a show on a new cable channel that featured the story of two former New Yorkers who moved upstate to try their hand at farming called The Fabulous Beekman Boys. He was telling me about their trials and tribulations and how much he enjoyed the show. I asked where they lived, but he couldn't remember. He happened to mention that there was a hotel close by. I asked if he could remember the name of the hotel. He answered, "The American Hotel." It turns out the show is set only about 20 miles from where I used to work, and I think I have driven down their road. What a coincidence?!?

I think this show and my coworker's interest in it reveal a growing interest in food, where it comes from, and getting back in touch with the land. There seem to be a fair number of books coming out on the topic. Last weekend I noticed a sign in our neighborhood bookstore, McNally Jackson, that there would be a book reading today by Keith Stewart from It's a Long Road to a Tomato: Tales of an Organic Farmer Who Quit the Big City for the (Not So) Simple Life.

I had no expectations for the reading. I knew only the title of the book before going. It turns out that he sells his tomatoes, garlic and other organic vegetables at the Union Square Greenmarket on Wednesdays and Saturdays. He has been selling there for 24 years and is one of the longest running vendors. There were about 30 people in attendance, and many of them were his long-time customers. Keith shared some stories from the book about his transition from a corporate job in NYC to organic farmer in Orange County, NY at the age of 40. He was charming and entertaining, his New Zealand accent animating his humorous anecdotes. It was an evening well spent.

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday at A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa, I'm Lovin' It Fridays at TidyMom, and Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cherry On Top Award

I am thrilled to have received a blog award from Laura at Cooking in Kenzo. When I first started my blog, I looked around for other bloggers writing about their CSA shares. I came across Cooking in Kenzo, and loved that she had just started her blog too. We have become blog comment friends, and I always look forward to hearing about her culinary adventures. Thanks Laura!

Now it is my turn to pass the award along to 5 of my favorite bloggers.

The rules for accepting this award are:

1. Thank the person who gave this award to you. Thank you Laura! Keep up the good work.

2. Copy the award and put it on your blog. DONE!

3. List three things which you love about yourself.

My ability to stay calm under pressure.
My wavy hair (I have learned to embrace it).
My sense of adventure.

4. Post a picture you love:

This photo is from a family hiking trip in AZ after Christmas last year.

5. Tag five people you wish to pass this award on to:

The Good Cook; A blog for cooks of all skill levels - This a blog I came across while hunting for other bloggers writing about their CSA shares. The author always has great recipes and insightful family anecdotes. She was the second person to write a comment on my blog, and always offers thoughtful comments. She recently suffered a horrible family tragedy. Her honest reflections on her blog have made my heart break for her, but also help me to appreciate the wonderful people in my life. Thanks Good Cook.

Radishes and Rhubarb; Fresh, Local and Homemade- Allison celebrates simple, fresh seasonal food. She shares that her blog name was inspired by eating radishes and rhubarb fresh out of her grandparents' garden when she was a child. Her posts include a combination of recipes for good food and happy memories.

Nourished Kitchen - In the past few months, I have discovered the Weston A Price Foundation and a Real Food movement. They educate others about the benefits of sustainable, unprocessed and traditionally prepared foods. This site offers a wide variety of recipes, traditional techniques and information on ingredients. I have greatly enjoyed learning from this encyclopedic resource.

A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa; For the Best in Mediterranean... grow your own, family farms, urban homesteading, farmers markets, nourishing traditions...made from scratch because you can - That title and subtitle pretty much says it all. She offers great Spanish inspired dishes using traditional techniques and fresh, seasonal ingredients along side family stories.

Dinner: A Love Story; It all begins at the family table - Cooking in Kenzo, my first blog friend, referenced a recipe off of this site. I followed the link and immediately fell in love. Jenny advocates for the endangered species, the family dinner. She provides strategies to help families sit down and enjoy dinner together. The posts are full of beautifully written observations, family anecdotes, and recipes for simple, delicious meals.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Oven Roasted Chicken with Vegetables

I had an interesting walk from the subway to home. A cute new chocolate shop opened, and they were handing out samples. I tried a lemon caramel chocolate, which was good. A lot going on with the flavors, but I did choose lemon caramel chocolate. There were signs up and down the street warning drivers that parking was off limits because Happy Hour was filming. We see these signs a lot - last week they were filming White Collar. But this time they shut down Eight Mile Creek to film. I wonder what Happy Hour is? Next I saw a bike tour peddling toward me, and then lots of paparazzi and people taking cell phone photos of an Evian event. I admit that I had to take a peek through the window to see what all the fuss was about, and I saw a blond young woman. I just assumed she was a model and kept walking, but I just googled "Evian event NYC" to find out that it was Maria Sharapova. Google is amazing - it knows which celebrity I saw on my way home from work. Mind boggling! Last but not least, I noticed that the decorations for the Feast of San Gennaro are starting to go up. Soon we will have the equivalent of a county fair right outside our front door.

Once I got home, I found out my blog won an award from a fellow blogger, Cooking in Kenzo. I will write more about it in my next post, and get to pass it along to other blogs that I love.

It has finally cooled off this week in NYC, and we are getting some long overdue rain. On my way home from work yesterday, I decided that I wanted to have oven roasted chicken. It was finally cool enough to turn on the oven. Mmmm, it hit the spot. We cooked the chicken and vegetables all in the Dutch oven which made it a no fuss meal. All of the vegetables took on a great chickeny flavor.

Oven Roasted Chicken with Vegetables
1 medium chicken
1 onion, cut into good size chunks
1 small cabbage, sliced
2 carrots, cut into 1 inch chunks
salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Rinse and dry the chicken. Add vegetables to the Dutch Oven, and place chicken on top. Cover it and cook for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and turn up the heat to 425, and cook until the juices run clear (about 30 more minutes).

Oven roasted chicken is a gift that just keeps giving. We had salads with leftover chicken for dinner tonight, and now I have the bones in the crock pot making chicken stock.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sausage and Peppers

When I got home from work today, I flipped on the TV and listened to a news program while I tried to figure out what to make for dinner. Have you noticed how they advertise the upcoming news segments with shocking titles? This one was something like, "What in your dining room is making you fat?" When they finally aired segment after several teasers, they reported that blue is the best color for plates, dining room walls, tablecloths, etc. Why? Because supposedly when people eat surrounded by the color blue, they eat less. The worst colors are yellow and red. One group of people ate dinner in a blue room and another in a yellow room, and the group in the blue room ate 30% less. I'm not sure about the quality of scientific research, but it's intriguing.

Have you noticed the color of our plates that play a supporting role in all of our food photos? They are mustard yellow! (They came with my husband. I like the style of them. The color, well, it is tolerable. The best thing about them is that they are almost indestructible.) Are we overeating every day because of our yellow plates? Maybe we should start using salad plates for dinner...

Last week, we had a hearty dinner served on salad plates. Sausage and peppers cooked with kale, tomatoes, onions and potatoes. I don't think I had ever made sausage and peppers with potatoes until I met my husband. He's Italian-American (among other things), and it's a family classic. His dad usually makes it with sausage, vinegar peppers and potatoes. It's FABULOUS! It's amazing how simple, classic meals are so good - no wonder they have stood the test of time. We added some extra veggies, and cooked it in our dutch oven on top of the stove. It was great - we got some oven fresh taste without heating up our apartment.

Sausage and Peppers with Kale, Tomato and Potatoes
1 lb Italian sausage, cut in half
1 lb potatoes, chopped
2 onions, chopped
2 peppers, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 bunch kale,chopped

Drizzle oil in the bottom of the Dutch oven. Add the rest of the ingredients, and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally. Cook until the desired crispness is achieved, about 1 to 1.5 hours.

We served it on small plates because it is so filling.

This post is part of Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Week 12

I grew up in a house where there was almost always a grocery shopping list on the fridge. If someone drank the last of the milk or ate the last slice of bread, they needed to put it on the list. This was our household inventory, and helped to ensure the basics were always around.

Our CSA veggies have started to pile up a bit, so I decided to make a list. This one is not a list of what we need to purchase, but a list of what we already have. It's pretty impressive, right?

When we went to pick up farm share #12 yesterday, we got more corn, tomatoes, garlic, green beans, onions, basil and our first blueberries. After running the vegetables home, we hopped in a Zip Car to head out of town to a family party. We just got back today, so we haven't made any additional progress on the veggies. Better add the new ones to the list!

Do you have any suggestions for way to eat up lots of vegetables or ways to preserve them for later?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Garlic Bratwurst with Sauerkraut

We had a craving for German food the other night, and decided to pick up some bratwurst from Whole Foods. While we were there we also picked up some lacto-fermented sauerkraut. It was from Hawthorne Valley Farm and full of good bacteria to aid digestion. I felt really good about this choice. We accompanied this with some sauteed onions and a salad full of CSA vegetables and topped with our House Vinaigrette.

The sauerkraut was awesome - crispy, tangy, sour and fresh. I want to try to make some like it myself. I got some small cabbages last weekend at the farmers' market, but I still need to get them started. "Tomorrow!"

This post is part of Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

Yesterday I wrote about the delicious sage polenta with fresh corn. Mmmm, it was so good we could have eaten it by itself, but we didn't stop there. We topped it with some sauteed chicken breast and a quick sauce of garlic and oven roasted tomatoes. Sun dried tomatoes or oven roasted tomatoes are like nature's candy. They have a really intense sweet and tangy flavor, and pretty much improve anything they accompany.

We got two pints of cherry tomatoes in our farm share last Saturday. I was worried we wouldn't eat them all up in a week, and the weather had cooled for a couple of days. I decided take advantage the cooler temperatures and roast one of the pints. Here are some photos of the process:

One pint of tomatoes awaiting their fate.

I covered a cookie sheet in foil to help prevent sticking. Drizzled it with olive oil. The tomatoes were sliced in half and spread out on the cookie sheet.

The tomatoes cooked for about 3.5 hours at 200 degrees. I stirred them after the first and second hour, and then every 30 minutes. (I became a little neurotic that my precious roasted tomatoes would burn.)

I put the roasted tomatoes in a glass, and had to take a photo by the other pint of tomatoes next to them to show how much they shrank.

This post is part of Simple Life Thursday at A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sage Polenta with Fresh Corn

We got four ears of corn with our farm share this week, and we also got a bunch of sage from the farmers' market. We were racking our brains for a creative way to use them both. Suddenly, my husband had the idea to combine them in a polenta. He always told me that he didn't like polenta, but he found a recipe that sparked his curiosity.

I have never made polenta. I always thought it was fussy like risotto, and since my husband swore that he didn't like it, I never gave it a try. It's actually pretty easy. For basic polenta, just combine some water and cornmeal and cook for about 30 minutes stirring frequently. We jazzed it up with some sage and fresh corn. The results were delicious. It had a really creamy texture with hints of Parmesan cheese and sage with a crunch and sweetness from the fresh corn. We are totally sold and are ready to make polenta all the time. Here is the recipe:

Sage Polenta with Fresh Corn
small onion, finely chopped
clove of garlic, finely chopped
4 ears of corn, kernels cut off the cob
5 c water
1 c corn meal
3 T sage, finely chopped
4 T butter
1/2 c Parmesan cheese
pinch of salt and pepper

Heat a heavy sauce pan and coat with oil. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic and corn and cook for 2 more minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside. Bring water to a boil and gradually add the corn meal stirring with a whisk. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the sage, butter, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Mix until smooth. Serve with extra Parmesan cheese.

We ate our polenta topped with sauteed chicken breast, oven roasted tomatoes and garlic. The combination was awesome. More on the oven roasted tomatoes in the next post.

Blackened Catfish with Quinoa and Greens

People living elsewhere in the country ask us if it's difficult living in New York City. I always answer with a resounding "No." Maybe we set up our lives to make things simple, but living here has been really easy. My husband walks to work. I can take one subway to work. During the weekend, we often don't take the train at all because there are so many things to do within walking distance. There is lots of great food all around us. The list goes on and on, but the moral story is that we find living in NYC really enjoyable. There is one exception to this easy, enjoyable life; we have an ongoing battle with the Post Office. We cannot get them to deliver packages to us. We have gone round and round with the little brown package slips, and it's really frustrating. Yesterday my husband and I met at the Post Office to pick-up a package, but the mission was unsuccessful.

On the way home, we stopped by Gourmet Garage to pick-up some fish. We decided to get catfish. It's really mild, so I always like to add some spice to it. We served blackened catfish over some quinoa and greens. Here are our recipes:

Blackened Catfish
1/4 t cayenne
2 t chili powder
2 t oregano
2 t paprika
2 t chili pepper flakes
2 t Old Bay
1 lb catfish fillets

Mix all of the spices together in a shallow bowl or pie plate. Rinse the fish and pat it dry. Coat each fillet in blackening mixture. Heat a frying pan and coat the bottom with oil. Add the fillets and cook on each side for about 4 minutes. The key is to not fidget with the fish while it is cooking, so that the spice mixture forms a nice blackened crust. This spice mix was pretty spicy. If you like things mild, cut back or cut out the chili pepper flakes, Old Bay, and/or cayenne

Quinoa and Greens
1 c quinoa
1 large bunch greens, roughly chopped
4 c water
1 clove of garlic, minced
pinch of salt

Rinse quinoa and drain. Place quinoa in dry sauce pot and cook until it starts to smell nutty. Add greens and water. Cook over high heat until it starts to boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cover. Cook for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat, and mix in the garlic and salt.

This was an experiment to use only one pot, but the results were great. The extra water I added to help cook the greens made the quinoa have a really creamy texture. I used mustard greens in our version, but any braising greens will work.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Week 11

This week's share marks a turning point. We got our first tomatoes and sweet corn through the farm share. A very exciting development! We immediately started plotting delicious ways to prepare them.

This week we will be enjoying corn, tomatoes, onions, wax beans, garlic, yellow cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, rainbow chard and zucchini from our CSA share.

At the end of the day, we headed over to the Union Square Greenmarket to see if there were any bargains to round out the vegetables from this week's share. We did quite well. We picked-up some tomatillos, peppers, cucumbers, cabbage, sage and blackberries. I'm going to try my hand at making some sauerkraut from the small cabbages. I realize it will be a small yield, but I see this as a test run for when cabbages really come into season in another month or so.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Bikes and Treats

We have had a miserably hot summer here in NYC. But finally the heat has broken for few days, and we are thrilled to be out and about without melting. Today we headed out to enjoy City Streets. For this event, the city closes Lafayette/Park Avenue to car traffic from Brooklyn Bridge all the way up to 72nd Street. Pedestrians and bikers take over and it has a street fair atmosphere. There are free bike rentals, live entertainment, fitness classes and lots of bike and pedestrian advocacy groups. We managed to borrow bikes without waiting in line. We rode all the from Spring Street to 72nd Street (about 8 miles round trip) during our hour. The highlight for us is riding around Grand Central terminal. Good times!

After our bike ride, we refueled with some coffee and apricot pastry from Ceci Cela Patisserie. Their pastries are awesome. They sell them at their own store plus Dean and Deluca and the coffee shops in the area.

Happy Saturday! I hope you have nice weather in your area today too.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Write Your Representatives

Normally I write about cooking and eating - especially those ingredients that come from our farm share and from our local farmers' market. Today, I'm shifting focus to politics because these ingredients might be endangered!

Congress is tyring to pass S.510, the Food Safety Modernization Act. I'm sure they have the best of intentions and are working to protect citizens from illness, but the Act would hurt smaller farmers by making them jump through lots of hoops and deal with oodles of red tape. Please write your representatives in Congress to voice your concerns. The blog Agriculture Society has a great article on the bill. Here are some of her talking points:

1. The major food borne illness outbreaks and recalls have all been caused by the large, industrial food system. Small, local food producers have not contributed to the highly publicized outbreaks. Yet S. 510 subjects the small, local food system to the same, broad federal regulatory oversight that would apply to the industrial food system.

2. Increased regulations and record-keeping obligations could destroy small businesses that bring food to local communities. In particular, the reliance on hazard analysis and risk-based preventative controls, a concept similar to HACCP, will harm small food producers. HACCP has already proven to be an overwhelming burden for a significant number of small, regional meat processors across the country. Applying a HACCP-type system to small, local foods processors could drive them out of business, reducing consumers options to buy fresh, local foods.

3. FDA does not belong on the farm. S. 510 calls for FDA regulation of how farms grow and harvest produce. Given the agency's track record, it is likely that the regulations will discriminate against small, organic, and diversified farms. Although language calling for flexibility may be included, but there are no enforceable limits or protections for small diversified and organic farms from inappropriate and burdensome federal rules.

4. Food safety and security both come from a diversified, vibrant local food system. Local foods give consumers the choice to buy from producers they know, creating a transparent, accountable food system without federal government oversight. State and local laws, which are often size-specific rather than one-size-fits-all, are more appropriate for local food producers.

Let's work together to protect our food from safe,small and local sources. Find your representatives on www.congress.org by entering your zip code in the upper right hand corner.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cucumber, Corn and Tomato Salad

Sunday we headed over to Tompkins Square Green Market to supplement our farm share. We got some peaches and tomatoes from Madura Farms, milk from Ronnybrook Farm, and corn from Stannard Farms. When I saw a tomato and corn salad on Dinner: A Love Story, I had a plan. It's a great way to combine the best of summer's bounty. Here's our take:

Cucumber, Corn and Tomato Salad
3 ears of corn, kernels cut off the cob
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tomato, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
several leaves of basil, finely chopped
1 T apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper

Heat a frying pan and coat with oil. Add corn and saute for 1 minute. Add half the garlic and saute for 1 more minute. Combine the corn and garlic with the tomato, cucumber, basil and vinegar. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.

Cucumber on FoodistaCucumber

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dirt Candy Roti aka Vegetable Quinoa Pilaf

As my husband and I discussed what we should serve with the Moroccan Lamb Meatballs, inspiration struck him and he wanted to be in charge of the side dish. His working title is Dirt Candy Roti in reference to two different restaurants. I chose Dirt Candy for my birthday dinner this last year. It's a vegetarian restaurant that honors vegetables as nature's candy (It was an awesome meal. I highly recommend it! Definitely get the Mushroom Pate). The "roti" is in honor of the Kattu Roti from Lakruwana, a Sri Lankan restaurant in Staten Island. This was an impressive looking dish that came out molded like a pyramid.

Dirt Candy Roti
1 C quinoa
3 C water
1 large zucchini, shredded
1 medium carrot, shredded
2 large radishes, shredded
2 small beets, shredded
5 garlic scapes, chopped

Rinse the quinoa and drain. Place the quinoa in a sauce pan and toast over medium high heat. Add the water and cook until the water is absorbed (about 30 minutes). Combine the vegetables on a large platter or shallow bowl. Sprinkle generously with salt and let it sit for 30 minutes to draw out excess liquid. Place the mixture in a strainer or colander and squeeze out the liquid. Heat up pan and coat the bottom with oil. Add the vegetable mixture and cook until it starts to crisp. Fold in the cooked quinoa to combine, and cook the mixture for a few minutes.

Use a mold to plate up the Dirt Candy Roti. We used a "solo" size dish from Rice to Riches, but any shape will do.

Moroccan Lamb Meatballs

When we were doing some grocery shopping on Sunday, we came across some pasture raised ground lamb. It was priced reasonably, so I picked some up. I immediately thought of making some lamb meatballs. I looked up a couple of recipes and combined some features from Nigella Lawson and some from Bon Appetit. Here are the results:

Moroccan Lamb Meatballs
1 lb ground lamb
1/4 C scallions, finely chopped
1/2 t cinnamon
1 t cumin
1 t turmeric
1/2 t cayenne
1 t allspice
1 t salt
3 T oatmeal (I used cooked steel cut oats)
1 egg
Vegetable oil, for frying

Put the lamb into a bowl and add the scallions, the spices, salt, oatmeal and egg. Work everything together thoroughly with your hands, and then place in the refrigerator for half an hour for the flavors to combine.

Scoop out some of the mixture and roll in your hands to form 1 inch meatballs. Place on a plate.

When the meatballs are ready, heat about 1/4-inch of oil in a frying pan. When the oil is hot, fry the meatballs in batches until golden brown all over (approx. 5-8 minutes for well done meatballs).

We served them with a Tamarind sauce. The results were delicious. The combination of the spicy, savory meatballs and the sweet, tangy sauce was taste bud heaven. We served our meatballs over Dirt Candy Roti. The next post will give a recipe.

This post is part of Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop and Works-for-Me Wednesday at We are That Family.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Crock Pot Greens

We had a lot of greens to use up, and I decided to try something new. I washed them, chopped them up and put them in the crock pot. I have never cooked greens in the crock pot before. They turned out really well. I have read how vegetables should be cooked for as little time as possible to maintain highest possible nutrients, but these were beet greens and mustard greens and they had to cook for a while. I just served them with a little butter. Very tasty!

I cooked a second batch of greens in the same water. I thought it would help preserve some nutrient content? I didn't really pay attention to the clock, but I think the first set was done in about an hour on high. I scooped those out with a slotted spoon, and put in one large bunch of collard greens chopped up while the water was still hot. I don't think I have ever made collard greens before. I probably ended up cooking them for about 4 hours. I sauteed some bacon and added it half way through and added some apple cider vinegar. At the end of the 4 hours, the greens were tender but the bacon and vinegar couldn't be tasted. I drained them and added a couple of extra tablespoons of vinegar. The results were OK. The bacon had completely lost its flavor, but the taste of the extra vinegar came through. This was one of those times when I should have actually consulted a recipe. When I make them again, I would simmer them, drain them, and add them to a hot pan with the bacon and vinegar (but first consult a couple of recipes to see if I could find improvements on my plan).

The crock pot is great in hot weather. It doesn't heat up the apartment, and it adds some variety to our diet. I would definitely try crock pot greens again.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Chicken Scampi

I mentioned yesterday that my husband and I are feeling a bit under the weather. Not bad enough to keep me home from a wedding shower I had to attend, but yucky enough to want to stay home and eat comfort food after it was over.

I was at a total loss for dinner ideas, but my husband came up with the idea of chicken scampi, and that sounded perfect to me. Later he confessed that he was inspired by his lunch on Friday. Apparently he forgot to eat breakfast before he left for work, and he felt like a treat by the time lunch rolled around. He went to Urban Lobster Shack and got a lobster roll scampi style. The chicken scampi wasn't the most photogenic meal, but it was quick and delicious. The combination of butter, garlic, lemon and white wine is always a hit with me. I'm allergic to shell fish, so this is how he translated it for me.

Chicken Scampi
1 lb chicken, chopped
1 C flour
salt and pepper
olive oil
2 T butter
2 T garlic
2 T oregano
1 C white wine
juice of half a lemon
Parmesan cheese

Start a large pot of water for the pasta. Season flour with a pinch of salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in the flour. Coat a hot skillet with olive oil and add chicken. Cook until the chicken is done (about 5 minutes, but it depends on the size of your pieces). Remove chicken from the pan. Start the pasta. Add butter, garlic, oregano, wine to the same pan used for the chicken. Cook over medium-low heat for one minute while scraping off any flour from the chicken to help thicken your sauce. Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice. Add chicken back to the pan and combine with sauce. Serve over pasta. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and an extra shake of oregano.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Week 10

We love getting out of town and visiting new places, but this year each weekend away is a little bittersweet. Our farm share pick-up is on Saturday afternoon, so each time we go away we miss out on the week's vegetables. Last weekend we were in Boston, and missed out on week 9. That put us up all the way up to week 10 of our CSA. Hard to believe! This week in our share we got some old favorites including kale, radishes, beets, braising greens, cucumbers and carrots, plus onions and basil.

We have been feeling a bit under the weather, so it will be good to eat lots of fresh vegetables and get us back to our regular selves. Any suggestions on easy greens recipes? We're not using our oven because of our hot summer weather, so we're looking for stove top recipes for collard and mustard greens, kale and beet greens.

Friday, August 6, 2010

US Wellness Meats Giveaway

As you may know, I just recently started blogging. I started this blog to document our summer with our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm share. I thought it would be a useful tool to hold myself accountable to make sure we ate up the veggies each week, and keep track of the recipes we used. I had no ambitions for readers (or anything else) because I had no expectations. As I started reading other people's blogs, and learning more and more about the blogging community, I became a bit more ambitious. I have learned about the world of networking and some of the techniques for gaining readers. One way to increase your readership is by offering giveaways. These giveaways function like raffles. The blogger offers virtual raffle tickets in exchange for following their blog, tweeting about it, etc.

I have never gone after a giveaway until today. There is a US Wellness Meats giveaway at the Food Renegade blog that has caught my fancy. She is "raffling" off a package of sausage that includes: Braunsweiger, Salami, Liverwurst, Italian Sausage and more all from pasture raised meat. Doesn't that sound delicious? You too can enter by visiting the above website, or purchase your own products at US Wellness Meats .

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Boston, Part II

As much as I like to search out restaurants with nice atmosphere and delicious food, sometimes it comes down to location. We didn't get in to Boston until 8:30 PM, so we looked for a seafood restaurant close to our hotel in the financial district that was still serving dinner at 9:30. It came down to Union Oyster House. I read some reviews and they weren't the best. People said the service wasn't friendly, the food was OK, but overpriced. But we were undeterred, and went there any way.

It claims to be the oldest restaurant in America, and has the ambiance to match. The food was simple, but good. I had the broiled scrod with boiled salt potatoes, and my husband had a small lobster with broccoli. It wasn't inexpensive, but the prices weren't shocking.

Sunday morning, we were looking for a breakfast place near Old South Meeting House when we came across Emmet's Pub. We both ordered the Irish breakfast which included the Irish bacon, sausages, black and white pudding, grilled tomato, two eggs served with home fries. The black and white pudding was excellent. I highly recommend Emmet's for a hearty breakfast before a busy day of sightseeing.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Boston, Part I

We are so spoiled. We have been eating lots of delicious homemade food prepared with fresh local ingredients. We are accustomed to vibrant tomatoes bursting with flavor; nutty, whole grain breads with naturally fermented starter; and creamy fresh mozzarella from the Italian cheese shop down the street. All these foods have raised our standards.

We were in Boston over the weekend to visit family and do some sightseeing. We had a great time. The weather was gorgeous and provided the perfect backdrop for 2 days of walking and seeing the sights. We always keep an eye out for local institutions to try. We were looking for some food to take on the road when we came across Cardullo's in Harvard Square. We were excited to explore the old school deli and charming gourmet food shop. Unfortunately, the sandwiches were a bit disappointing. We chose Caprese and Italian sandwiches. The tomatoes were green in the center which was a shame because it was the centerpiece of the Caprese sandwich. The Italian had a variety of meats and lots of hot peppers. Both were solid, and made a good dinner for our trip back to New York, but they didn't beat sandwiches we had at home.

All in all, the next time we are in Boston I would still peek in the store to see what's on the shelves, and I would try another sandwich. There was one with pate and figs that was intriguing.
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