Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lentils with Beets and Goat Cheese

There are lots of things I love about participating in a CSA farm share: it arrives each week encouraging us to eat lots of vegetables, pushes us to try new and different things, and makes us get creative to find new ways to prepare vegetable overload. One down side is that I don't know the names of all of our loot. For example, we have gotten several beets each week for the last several weeks. When we pick them out of the bin (simply labeled beets)they are all lightly coated in dirt, and it is hard to tell what color they are. It is not until you are at home scrubbing them clean that their color is revealed. Are yellow beets simply called "yellow beets" or do they have another name? Are red beets just called "beets"? I did a quick internet search that was not very fruitful. I know the stripped ones are chioggia, but my knowledge ends there.

We made a simple dinner from lentils, carrot tops, goat cheese and yellow and red beets. I have made this before, and it is always satisfying. Here is the recipe from last time. This time we used some carrot tops we had on-hand. I had never really eaten carrot tops until recently. I always felt bad throwing them out, but I wasn't sure what to do with them. When I read about carrot top pesto over at Not Eating Out in New York it inspired me to change my ways. Carrot tops have a taste that are somewhere between parsley and carrots, and they add a nice fresh flavor to the peppery lentils, tangy sauce, sweet beets and creamy cheese.

Lentils with Beets and Goat Cheese

3 C chicken stock
1 c lentils
4 beets
3 T balsamic vinegar
2 T apple cider vinegar
2 t Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
handful of carrot tops, chopped
goat cheese

Check the lentils for stones, rinse, and add to the chicken stock. Bring it to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the lentils are tender (15 - 60 minutes depending on the type of lentils). Meanwhile, scrub the beets. Place them in a sauce pot and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil, and cook until a fork can easily pierce the beets. Remove from water and let cool. Add the vinegars, mustard, garlic and carrot tops to the lentils. Once the beets are cool, use a spoon to peel the beets. Cut into bit size slices, and add to the lentil mixture. Serve them with goat cheese crumbled on the top.

I found that the yellow beets cooked much faster than the red ones, so check on them periodically to prevent over cooking.

This post is part of Fight Back Fridays at Food Renegade, Grocery Cart Challenge, Frugal Friday, and Finer Things Friday.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

100th Post

This is the 100th post on City Share. This mile marker comes at an appropriate time because we are approaching a time of transition. All the posts thus far have been shaped by cooking and eating our way through our CSA share, but our summer share will end in a month. We are now researching some winter vegetable and meat shares (if you have any suggestions for NYC please let me know). Another change is that I have become motivated to not just keep eating local food, but to begin to incorporate more traditional foods into our diets. I have been inspired by Jenny at Nourished Kitchen and Ann Marie at Cheeseslave and many more. On top of these changes in our diets, we are going to move to Brooklyn next month. We are very excited to have found a lovely apartment with double the space of our current place.

To help me incorporate more traditional foods, I will be participating in Kelly the Kitchen Kop's e-class on Real Food for Rookies. The class has actually already started, but we have been busy lately so I'm just getting ready to begin on my own now. I will be sure to share my new found knowledge from her class.

In celebration of the 100th post, we have a delicious dinner to share with you. We had a flavorful grass-fed steak with sauteed leeks and mushrooms, a beet salad with yogurt dressing and green salad. Ahh, it was a fabulous treat dinner. The steak was delicious, the leeks and mushrooms were so good that we just kept eating them by the forkful before they even made it to the table, and the beet salad made my husband declare that "Beets are dirt candy."

Mushrooms and Leeks

1 T butter
2 leeks, the whites cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
3/4 lbs mushrooms, chopped (we used shitake and oyster)
1 T sage, finely chopped
salt and pepper

Heat a cast iron pan over medium heat and add butter. Once the butter is melted, add leeks and cook until translucent. Add mushrooms and sage and cook until the mushroom are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Delicious eaten straight or over chicken, beef, rice, or pretty much anything else.

Look at this beautiful selection of beets.

After they are fork tender, peel the beets with a spoon.

Combine the ingredients for a dressing.

We added the beets and some chopped up carrot tops (parsley would also work) to the dressing, and mixed to combine.

Beet Salad with Yogurt Dressing

5 beets, scrubbed
1 t dry dill
tops of 2 carrots, chopped
1/4 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 C yogurt
salt and pepper

Bring a small pot of water to a boil, and add the beets. Cook until a fork can easily pierce the beets. Remove from the water and let cool. Use a spoon to remove the skin (we sliced ours in half first for the photo). Chop into bite sized pieces. In a bowl, combine dill, carrot tops, onion, garlic and yogurt. Add the beets and stir to coat the beets with dressing. Chill for 30 minutes to let the flavors combine. Salt and pepper to taste.

Thanks to all of you for reading. I appreciate your feedback and comments.

This post is part of Real Food Wednesday, Works-for-Me-Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday, Ultimate Recipe Swap, Pennywise Platter Thursday, and Tasty Traditions.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pork Chop and Mushroom Salad

I remember seeing a TV show several years ago where a chef visits an unsuspecting household and prepares a dinner for the family. I think he had an hour to prepare the meal, and he could only use the food in their pantry and fridge. The family always seemed to have a really well stocked kitchen: shrimp in the freezer, some fresh herbs in the fridge, at least a couple of vegetables, beans, rice, etc. I was not that impressed with the chef's results. I thought that anyone would be able to come up with the idea of shrimp and asparagus risotto with a side of sauteed vegetables if you had the same resources he was working with.

At the time, I was single, living by myself and working lots of hours. I did cook at home, but I had a routine where I would spend Sundays planning, shopping and cooking my meals for the week. I usually tried to freeze half of what I made, so that I would always have a variety of meals to chose from. I was really organized (much more than I am now). I never had much food just hanging around in the house waiting to be prepared. I wanted to see what the chef could make with what I had in my cabinets and fridge: some frozen blueberries and broccoli, a little yogurt, dry beans, milk, coffee, Kosher salt and some spices.

These days I frequently feel like the chef in the challenge. I come home from work and try to figure out how to form a meal from the vegetables in our farm share, the meat in the fridge/freezer, and the staples in our cabinet. Sometimes these challenges produce some unusual results. One such meal was pork chop and mushroom salad. It might not be a combination I would plan ahead to make, but it was really good. I would consider making it again. The mushrooms had a rich, meaty flavor that helped the salad seem more substantial.

Pork Chop and Mushroom Salad

1 pork chop
1/2 lb of mushrooms, chopped (we used shitake mushrooms)
1 T butter
salad greens
olive oil
vinegar (we like raw apple cider vinegar)
salt and pepper

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat, drizzle with oil and add the pork chop. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side. Let it rest for 5 minutes, and then slice. Meanwhile, melt the butter over medium heat and add the mushrooms. Cook until tender. Toss the salad greens with oil and vinegar and top with pork chop and mushrooms.

Is your kitchen well stocked? Do you have any unusual creations that were the results of thinking on your feet?

This post is part of Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, Top Ten Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, and Tuesday Twister.

Plans for Week 17

Yesterday was one of those days when I was really excited to do some cooking for the week, but nothing turned out quite right. That really kills the mood. I bought a chicken at the Union Square Greenmarket on Saturday, and decided that I wanted to boil it to create some chicken broth and shred the meat to use on salads. I ended up using the huge stock pot because the chicken was slightly too big for the normal soup pot. This pot is pretty wide, so in order to cover the chicken with water, I had to use a fair bit of water. The chicken stock ended up being really watery. The upside is that we have a lot of it. Oh well. I was planning to cook quinoa and brown rice in it anyways. I guess I managed to stretch it farther. After making dinner, I decided to bake some cherry tomatoes. We just got them on Saturday in our farm share, but they were very ripe. I have done this lots of times, but yesterday I left them in the oven too long, and they cooked down to burnt bits. I managed to save a few. Hopefully I got my kitchen mishaps out of the way for a while.

This week's share brought us arugula, some bitter greens for braising, daikon radishes, potatoes, beets, garlic, heirloom tomatoes and cherry tomatoes.

The plan for this week is:

Monday - Salad with pork chops and mushrooms

Tuesday - Steak topped with leeks and mushrooms, beet salad, and arugula salad

Wednesday - Chicken breasts with garlic scape pesto and salad

Thursday - Lentils with beets and goat cheese

Friday - Out to dinner

Last night we had some shredded chicken with tomato sauce, oven roasted potatoes and a big salad. The tomato sauce was really good and really dressed up a simple dinner. It was so simple, but full of great tomato flavor.

This post is part of Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist and Menu Plan Monday at I am an Organizing Junkie.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Tomato Sauce

Our kitchen counter was starting to disappear. The tomatoes from our farm share were taking over the kitchen. Our efforts at putting fresh tomatoes in every dish imaginable was not keeping up with supply. It was time to take action. It was time to make sauce.

People are really passionate about their tomato sauce recipes. They will defend their method like their lives depended on it. I won't claim that this is the best way to make sauce. It's just one way to make it, and the method I chose this time around.

I can only remember making sauce from fresh tomatoes once before. It was years ago, and that time around I chose to ignore the directions to remove the skin and seeds from the tomatoes. I thought it seemed like a big hassle, and didn't believe it would make much difference in the flavor. The resulting sauce was really thin and low on flavor. It took me a long time to admit it, but I do think removing the peels and seeds makes a difference. Removing the seeds also removes the excess liquid which helps produce a thicker sauce.

This was my first time removing tomato skins. I have read about it in cookbooks and blogs, but had never tried it myself. They all assured me that it was a really easy process, but I was skeptical. You know what? They were right! It was a little messy, and it took a bit of time, but it was easy.

Core the tomatoes.

Score an "x" on the bottom of the tomato.

Carefully lower tomatoes into boiling water. When skins begin to split (30 to 60 seconds), use a slotted spoon to transfer tomatoes to ice water.

When tomatoes are cool, peel off the skins. Halve tomatoes. Remove seeds with a spoon, and discard. Finely chop tomatoes.

Saute some onions and garlic until softened. Add the tomatoes and cook the sauce for about 1.5 hours.

Here is the finished sauce.

Tomato Sauce

5 - 8 lbs tomatoes (we used a combination of heirloom and cherry tomatoes)
1/4 C olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, smashed
Coarse salt and ground pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and prepare a large bowl of ice water. With a paring knife, core tomatoes, and score an X on the bottoms. Carefully lower tomatoes into boiling water. When skins begin to split (30 to 60 seconds), use a slotted spoon to transfer tomatoes to ice water.

When tomatoes are cool, remove skins. Halve tomatoes. Remove seeds with a spoon, and discard. Finely chop tomatoes.

In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and garlic and cook until tender, stirring frequently (about 4 to 5 minutes). Add tomatoes, and stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and saucy, about 1 1/2 hours. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

We froze a jar of sauce, and set aside a bowl to use tonight.

Thank you to everyone that voted for me in Project Food Blog. The competition was stiff, and only 400 participants made it in to the next round out of 1,800. I am not in that group of 400, but I look forward to following the rest of the competition.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Potato and Leek Frittata

I am participating in the Foodbuzz Project Food Blog challenge. If you like what you read, please vote for me by clicking on my profile in the right sidebar and following the directions. Voting ends on Thursday evening.

I love leftovers. I love being able to eat leftover dinner for lunch the next day, and I love it when they can be transformed into something new and different at the next meal. We had leftover scalloped potatoes (from yesterday's post), we mixed them with some eggs, and cooked up a delicious frittata. So easy and satisfying.

After mixing the eggs and potato mixture, pour it into a hot, lightly oiled cast iron skillet.

Once the eggs set around the edge, add some slices of cheese, place under the broiler and cook until golden.

Slice and enjoy.

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday, Things I Love Thursday, Ultimate Recipe Swap, Pennywise Platter Thursday, and Tasty Traditions.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Steak with Scalloped Potatoes

I am participating in the Foodbuzz Project Food Blog challenge. If you like what you read, please vote for me by clicking on my profile in the right sidebar and following the directions.

The other day my husband asked me, "How many apartments do you think we have seen since moving to New York City?" The answer is somewhere between several and A LOT. When we moved here two years ago, we sublet an apartment off craigslist that had beautiful photos. We were told it was furnished with cable TV, internet, and a fully stocked kitchen. It sounded great! When we arrived, we found a mattress on the floor, a TV without cable (which means we only got NY1), no internet, a bathtub coated in mildew, and a kitchen that was far from fully stocked. Although, it was so dirty that I didn't want to do any cooking in there anyways. Luckily we had only rented it for five days, and after seeing it we were bound and determined to have a new apartment at the end of that five days.

We looked at several apartments in Cobble Hill, several in Chinatown, several in the Lower East side, and finally ended up just North of Little Italy in Manhattan. Last year, we thought about buying an apartment and we looked at a bunch of places. We ended up deciding against buying a place. Once our lease was coming due, we thought about renting a bigger apartment. We looked in Manhattan and Brooklyn, but our landlord decreased our rent and then nowhere else could compete. This year we have looked at apartments in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn, and the time for a decision is almost here. We love our little apartment in NoLIta (North of Little Italy), but it is really small and we would love to have more space. We will let you know what we decide.

The other night we had steak, scalloped potatoes and salad for dinner. It was our totally local dinner. The steak was amazing. My husband declared that it was the best steak he had ever eaten. It was a local, grass fed rib steak and it had a great beefy flavor. We don't have a grill, so we just cook steak in a cast iron pan on the stove top. Warm up the pan, add a drizzle of oil, and add the steak that has been generously sprinkled with salt and pepper. We cooked it for 5 minutes per side, but cook yours until it's to your liking. We had a simple salad with greens and cherry tomatoes from our farm share and our house vinaigrette. Here is the recipe for our take on scalloped potatoes:

Scalloped Potatoes
2 leeks, whites finely sliced and rinsed
2 medium red potatoes, scrubbed and thinly sliced
1 T oil
2 T butter
salt and pepper

Heat up a large skillet, add some oil and add the potatoes and leeks. Add a quarter cup of water and cover. Cook until the potatoes are tender. Uncover and let the rest of the water evaporate. Remove from the heat and add the butter. Salt and pepper to taste.

I used cultured butter and Himalayan sea salt. The butter had a delicious rich flavor. I used Himalayan sea salt because it is full of beneficial nutrients. They are both new splurges.

This post is part of Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Works-For-Me Wednesday and Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Feast

I am participating in the Foodbuzz Project Food Blog challenge. If you like what you read, please vote for me by clicking on my profile in the right sidebar and following the directions.

In our neighborhood, The Feast refers to the Feast of San Gennaro. Imagine a county fair on a narrow street in downtown Manhattan. It's wild. Lots of stands selling sausage and peppers, deep fried oreos, zeppoles and pizza. There are even some small rides on the side streets including a mini-ferris wheel and parachute drop. There is a stage with live entertainment, and each night we are serenaded by a band playing Italian American classics such as the Rocky Theme Song, New York, NY, That's Amore and more. Oh, and it lasts for 10 days. Here are few photos:

This is the view from our front door.

Here is a view down our block with one of New York's finest.

Another angle of our block and one of the many t-shirt stands.

We thought we'd have dinner inspired by The Feast. We had some spicy sausage with potatoes, red pepper, garlic and kale.

This is an imprecise recipe. We used 1 lb of spicy sausage, 3 potatoes, 1 red pepper and 1 large bunch of kale. I cooked the sausage and potatoes for 30 minutes at 300 degrees, and then added the red pepper and kale and cooked it for another 15 minutes. It was piled high in a cast iron pan, and it cooked down nicely. Enjoy your own feast.

This post is part of Hearth 'n Soul Blog Hop at A Moderate Life, Top Ten Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, and Tuesday Twister.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Voting and Plans for Week 16

I entered the Foodbuzz Project Food Blog yesterday. Please check out yesterday's post to read my entry for the first challenge. If you like what you read, please click on my profile on the right sidebar and vote for me. Voting is open Monday to Wednesday.

This week's share includes leeks, salad mix, arugula, potatoes (the first of the season), hot peppers, radishes, heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and garlic scapes pesto. We are looking forward to some delicious meals. Here is our menu for this week:

Monday: Steak, Scalloped Potatoes with Leeks and Salad

Tuesday: Chicken Cacciatore with salad

Wednesday: Pork Chops with Garlic Scape Pesto and Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

Thursday: Spicy Lentils and Beet Salad

Friday: Chicken and Arugula Salad

This post is part of Monday Mania at the Healthy Home Economist and Menu Plan Monday at Org Junkie.

Project Food Blog's First Challenge: The Story behind City Share

I am participating in Project Food Blog at Foodbuzz. The first challenge is to define ourselves as a food blogger and what makes our blog unique. I believe my set of experiences uniquely inform my blog. Here is my journey that led me to my City Share blog.

I grew up eating home cooked, well balanced meals. My parents did a great job of always getting dinner on the table for family meals. By the time I was a teenager, I had been helping in the kitchen for years, and could help prepare most of the family favorites.

After college, I worked in a couple of restaurants to help pay my rent. I worked as a server, but I spent all of the down time in the kitchen watching the chefs at work. I already knew how to cook the basics, but it was at that stage that I was exposed to sauces and creating more complicated dishes with layered flavors. Working in restaurants provided me with a turning point, food went from something you ate when you were hungry to something delicious you looked forward to, discussed, and contemplated.

A year after college, I decided to move to rural New York State. This may be hard for some of you to picture, but most of New York State has rolling farm land instead of have high rises. I got a job at The Farmers' Museum and taught visitors about rural life in the mid 19th century. When I arrived, I was a city girl from Arizona. What did I know about rural life in the Northeast? Not much! But I learned, and went on to teach others. The museum has a small farm used to teach visitors about historic foodways. Some visitors would walk in and be appalled that there were carrots with small clumps of dirt still clinging to them. They would declare that they would never eat such dirty carrots. This would be our chance to explain that carrots actually grow in the ground, and that if they had ever eaten a carrot, they had eaten a "dirty" carrot. They just get washed off before they are delivered to the grocery store. These types of interactions were a revelation to me. People had grown so removed from their food! Both children and adults preferred baby carrots from plastic bags and thought eggs came from Styrofoam cartons.

While I was growing up, I knew that carrots grew in the ground and oranges grew on trees because we had a small garden and a few citrus trees. This was knowledge I had taken for granted. Something I had not appreciated before my time at The Farmers' Museum was the seasonality of food. We have gotten so out of touch with our food that we don't know when produce is naturally available in our area. Grocery stores ship produce grown around the world so we can get strawberries in February, oranges in August and asparagus in October. During my time in upstate NY, I started shopping at farmers' markets, and getting to know family farmers. It was an amazing experience meeting the people who raised my food. I learned about the challenges they face from factory farms and agricultural corporations. After I moved away from upstate NY, I continued to read about local and organic foods and their benefits to the environment and our health.

This year, my husband and I decided to participate in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share as part of our effort to eat more local and sustainably produced food. I decided to write about the challenges of eating up the veggies that kept coming each week. It's a very different way to think about food. We aren't thinking of what we want to eat next week, but waiting for the vegetables to arrive and then deciding how to prepare them. I originally wanted to write the blog just to hold us accountable and share some suggestions for veggie overload with other CSA participants. I envisioned my blog as a digital recipe swap. We experimented with names that would convey that we are living in New York City and eating a farm share, and City Share was born. This journey shapes how I think about food, and helps set my blog apart. We want to encourage other apartment dwellers that they too can eat a farm fresh diet. My blog is my way to participate in the conversation about food, farmers, cooking and more. Thanks for joining me.

If you enjoy my blog, please click on my contestant button on the right sidebar and vote for me. Voting begins on Monday, September 20th and continues until September 23rd. Thanks!

Thursday, September 16, 2010


We are composting! Or, at least saving vegetable scraps to put in a compost bin. I always thought composting was out of our reach because we live in a small apartment without a yard or access to any dirt, but last Saturday we discovered otherwise. Our pick-up point for our CSA share moved to a community garden, and they have a compost system. Our CSA organizers pointed out we can bring in our vegetable scraps. They suggested putting the peels in the freezer for the week, and delivering them to the community garden when we pick up our share each Saturday. It was one of those moments when I felt silly that I hadn't thought of that myself. Of course! Freeze the scraps! Why didn't I think of that? At least we are composting now.

We are still getting in the habit of saving our vegetable peels, but we are getting better each day. It's great to see our garbage really decreasing in volume.

Tonight we had chicken baked with kohlrabi, turnips, onions and garlic with sides of beet greens and brown rice. Baked chicken is one of our favorite meals for cool weather because it is so versatile and forgiving. We placed a chicken in our Dutch oven, surrounded in by chopped vegetables, covered it, and baked it. Cook it for 1 to 1.5 hours depending on the size of your chicken.

Here's another post on Oven Roasted Chicken with Vegetables.

This post is part of Fight Back Fridays at Food Renegade, Frugal Fridays and Grocery Cart Challene Recipe Swap.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Burgers and Greek Salad

I have been trying to avoid gluten for a few weeks. It's a bit of a dietary experiment. I haven't noticed any differences, but I haven't been a purist for too many days in a row. Tonight's dinner was a relapse into the world of gluten, but it was worth it. We had a Greek diner inspired dinner of burgers with fried onions and Greek salad. It tasted really good. Our burgers were made from some grass-fed ground beef we found on sale at Whole Foods, and they were seasoned with sage, garlic and a bit of Old Bay (my husband made them). These flavors combined beautifully with some melted cheese and the sweet, smoky onions. Delicious! The salad helped us eat up some of our CSA bounty. The dressing was a real success. The recipe is below.

City Share Burgers
1 lb ground beef
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 T sage, chopped
1 T Old Bay
1 large onion, sliced
Cheddar cheese, sliced

Combine the meat, garlic, sage and Old Bay, and let sit for 30 minutes. Heat up a cast iron skillet, lightly oil the pan and add the onion. Cook until tender and browned. Remove the onions from the pan. Form the meat mixture into small patties and place them in the hot pan. Cook to your liking. Top with cheese shortly before done cooking and cover. Top with onions to serve.

Greek Salad Dressing
2 T Greek yogurt
1 t apple cider vinegar
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped and smeared
1/8 t dill

Mix the ingredients and let sit for 30 minutes.

We served the dressing over a salad of greens, radishes, golden cherry tomatoes, red onion, corn and feta.

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS, Pennywise Platters Thursday at The Noursishing Gourmet, Tasty Traditions at Coupon Cooking, and Things I Love Thursday at The Diaper Diaries.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fresh ham with Maple Glaze

I have only been blogging for 3.5 months, but I feel like I have learned so much. When I started, I hadn't really read any other blogs and I definitely didn't have ANY technical knowledge. As much as I have learned, I still have a ways to go. In order to keep learning and growing, I am going to begin a couple of challenges this week. The first is Back to School, Back to Blogging at Kludgy Mom. Kludgy Mom will provide weekly "assignments" to teach us how to improve our blogs. I think there are over 200 people participating, and we are all getting linked up through Twitter, Facebook and Blog Frog. The second program is Project Food Blog at Food Buzz. This program has a series of 10 blogging challenges in which almost 2,000 food bloggers will be whittled down to one winner. The point of this program is to find the best food blogger. I have pretty realistic expectations. I would like to make it through the first round, and gain some exposure. I will be sharing my Project Food Blog challenge post later this week.

Ahh, I love it when one night's dinner feeds into the dinner of the next night. Tonight we had rice cooked in the broth from the brisket last night. Plus, we had some corn, kale and fresh ham. I wish I had a photo of the ham fresh from the oven, but we immediately started picking pieces of the delicious crispy skin, and it quickly went from beautiful to ugly. Even after losing it's beautiful skin, the ham was still tasty. Here's the recipe for the ham and glaze:

Fresh Ham with Maple Glaze
1 fresh ham, 7-8 pounds
1 C maple syrup
1 T brown mustard
1 T ground cloves
1 T chili powder
1/4 C apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Score the skin and fat of the ham in a diamond shape with lines about 1 inch apart. Mix the rest of the ingredients for the glaze. Place the ham in a large Dutch oven skin side up. Pour half the glaze over the ham. Bake for 30 minutes covered. Pour the rest of the glaze over the ham and return covered to the oven. Baste the ham every 30 minutes. After a total of 1 1/2 hours, remove the lid and cook uncovered for another 1 1/2 hours. Continue basting every 30 minutes.

This post is a part of Hearth and Soul, Top Ten Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, and Tuesday Twister.

Brisket with Vegetables, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

The weather suddenly feels like fall here in New York City. It's making me crave roasts and baked vegetable dishes. It's a great change of pace after spending a hot summer eating lots of salads and planning meals around cooking as little as possible. I thought I'd make another meal plan this week to make sure we eat up all our farm share vegetables.

Monday - Fresh ham baked with maple and mustard sauce, brown rice cooked in chicken stock, boiled corn, and sauteed kale.

Tuesday - Hamburgers with tomatoes, oven roasted beets, and sauteed beet greens.

Wednesday - Leftover ham, baked corn, and kale salad.

Thursday - Baked Chicken with kohlrabi and leeks, and a tomato salad.

Friday - Steak with fried onions, corn on the cob, tomato, radish and salad turnip salad.

Last night we had brisket with mashed potatoes and vegetables. I heated up some oil in my dutch oven, browned the brisket, and set it aside. I then quickly browned some onions and garlic, and added the rest of my ingredients. Once I had everything in the pot, my husband shared that he thought mashed potatoes would be really good with the meal. I had to agree that some mashed potatoes with gravy would be delicious, but I already had the potatoes stewing in the pot with everything else. But then we decided to try something new, we would cook the potatoes in the dutch oven with the brisket and broth soaking up flavor, and then pull them out after 30 minutes and mash them. It worked really well. We ended up with really flavorful potatoes, and only used one pot!

Brisket with Vegetables, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
2 T oil
1 (2 1/2 lb) brisket, with "fat cap" (do not trim)
3 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus for brisket
Freshly ground black pepper
2 medium yellow onions, cut into thick slices
12 - 16 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 c cooking sherry
4 c chicken broth
2 T fresh sage, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled, and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 turnips, peeled and chopped
8 red potatoes, cut into large pieces
2 T butter
1/4 C flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke. Season the brisket generously with the paprika, salt, and pepper. Place fat side down in the Dutch oven and cook until brown, turn and continue to brown on all sides, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the meat to a plate and set aside.

Add the onions and garlic and cook over medium heat until starting to brown. Pour in the sherry and cook until reduced by about half. Nestle the brisket into the onions and garlic fat side up, add the broth and sage; bring to a simmer and place in the oven to bake, covered, until the brisket is fork tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Uncover, scatter the carrots, turnips and potatoes around the brisket and cook until they are tender, about 30 minutes more.

Fish out the potatoes, and place in a mixing bowl. Mash the potatoes with a fork or masher. Add broth from the brisket until they reach the desired consistency.

Transfer the brisket to a cutting board, thinly slice the meat across the grain.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the vegetables from the broth, and set aside to serve with dinner.

For a Pan Gravy: Melt the butter in a skillet and slowly add the flour. Make sure the four is entirely integrated with the butter before adding more flour. Cook until golden brown, and then starting adding broth ladle by ladle. Stirring until smooth, and then adding more broth. Once the gravy has reached the desired thickness, pour into the gravy boat.

Save the rest of the broth for another dish. We plan to use our for cooking rice this evening.

This post is part of Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist and Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Deadlines and Week 15

I haven't posted for several days because we were off to a wedding in Easton, Maryland. It was quite the affair. There was a traditional Hindu ceremony in the morning with a luncheon, we had about an hour for a costume change, and then there was an Episcopal service and a black tie reception. We are generally shorts and t-shirt people, so this was a big deal for us. I bought a new floor length black dress and heels. My husband bought a tux, a tux shirt, cuff links, a bow tie and cummerbund. We had made it to NJ when he realized that he forgot his bow tie at our apartment. There was not time to turn around, but luckily there ended up being a men's store right down the street from the hotel. The second tie was a real bow tie, so we also learned to tie it (our new skill for the weekend).

The luncheon featured a delicious Indian buffet made by the bride's family. For dinner, we enjoyed salmon and chicken entrees. My husband and I split the entrees, but we each liked our own dish the best. The salmon had a rich buttery sauce served on a bed of vegetables. The chicken had a flavorful maple, ginger and clove sauce with squash and spinach.

On our way home yesterday, we got a call from Zip Car telling us that our car was overdue. We thought we had it until 5:00, but they said our reservation ended at 11:00. Oops! They were able to rearrange the schedule and let us have the car until 3:30. There went our time buffer. We were racing the clock the rest of the way home. We were just entering the Holland Tunnel at 3:10, and we pulled into the garage at 3:30 on the dot. We quickly dropped off our wedding gear at home, and raced to pick-up our farm share. We arrived at the building, and learned that the pick-up point moved again this week. No climb to the roof top, but a walk a few extra block to a community garden. We made it in time, and because we arrived at the end of the day we got extra corn and garlic.

We saw the return of some favorites that we hadn't seen since the beginning of the summer. This week we will be enjoying garlic, corn, kohlrabi, radishes, turnips, kale, cherry tomatoes and heirloom tomatoes.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mediterranean Salad

One of the great things about eating out is getting inspiration for dishes to make at home. Last weekend we had lunch at Miriam Restaurant in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I had a Mediterranean salad that was delicious. It was fresh and used seasonal ingredients. I promised myself that I would make it at home this week, and here it is. It was a great opportunity to use up some green, yellow, red and orange varieties of heirloom tomatoes. We had gotten some sorrel at the farmers' market. I had never used sorrel before, and it provided a great lemon taste to the salad. One regret: I didn't seed the tomatoes. After I had them chopped up, I wished I had. So I placed them in a small strainer to remove the excess liquid while I chopped the onions and cucumbers. I tried to recreate the look of the dish at Miriam with only moderate success. I just used my hands to form it when I really should have used a ring mold. Ring molds count as gadgets we do not have space for in our small kitchen, so the rustic look will have to do. We served our Mediterranean salad with some pan fried salmon, but it could be a meal on its own.

Mediterranean Salad
1 eggplant (or 4 very small eggplants in our case), thinly sliced
5 small tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 medium English cucumber, finely chopped
16 oz chickpeas
2 T sorrel, finely chopped
sea salt

Heat a large skillet and add a drizzle of oil. Place eggplant in the pan and sprinkle with sea salt. Cook for 2 minutes on each side (or until tender). Cook batches of eggplant until it is all ready. While cooking, chop the rest of the vegetables. Combine the tomatoes, onion, cucumber, chickpeas and sorrel. Dish up the veggies, wrap in eggplant slices and sprinkle feta over the top.

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursdays at GNOWFGLINS, Things I Love Thursday at Diaper Diaries, Tasty Traditions at Coupon Cooking, and Ultimate Recipe Swap at Life as Mom.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

30 Minute Stuffed Peppers

When I think of stuffed peppers, I think of a meat and rice mixture baked inside a whole bell pepper smothered in tomato sauce. There is prep time for the meat mixture and the sauce that runs between 15 and 30 minutes, plus almost an hour to bake them. We rarely want to spend that much time on dinner on a week night, so I was pleased when I saw some stuffed pepper boats popping up on different blogs recently. They were baked, but they took a lot less time.

I planned on making stuffed pepper boats tonight, but our apartment was pretty hot when I got home and I was hoping to take a yoga class. I saw on-line Rachel Ray had a cheat. She cooked the peppers and the stuffing separately on the stove top. Her recipe was for Southwestern peppers, but I adapted her technique to my flavors. It was great! Thirty minutes and only one pan was dirtied! Plus, it was delicious and we have enough leftover to serve over salads for lunch tomorrow. Quick, tasty and delicious (and nutritious)with leftovers - pretty much my definition of a successful weeknight dinner.

30 Minute Stuffed Peppers
4 green peppers
2 carrots
3 small tomatoes
3 green onions
4 large cloves of garlic
1 t dried Oregano
1 T fresh sage
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1 lb ground beef
2 T oil
salt to taste
grated cheese (optional)

Slice the top off the peppers, and slice in half. Remove the seeds and ribs and rinse. Place in a dry, large skillet with a lid. Cook over high heat for 4 minutes covered. Flip them over and cook for 4 more minutes covered. Turn off the heat and let sit while preparing the rest of the vegetables.

While the peppers are cooking, chop the carrots, tomatoes, green onions and garlic. Once finished preparing the vegetables, remove the peppers to a large serving platter. Add the oil to the pan, cook the vegetable for 5 minutes over high heat. While cooking the vegetables, measure out the spices and add to the pan.

Once the 5 minutes are up, push the vegetables to the side of the pan and add the ground beef to the other half. Cook until no longer pink (about 5 minutes). Drain off the excess liquid, and spoon mixture into the pepper boats. If desired, top with grated cheese.

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

Liver and Onions with Collard Greens and Corn

I hope everyone had a nice Labor Day. We used our day off to explore a couple of neighborhoods in Queens. We continue to expand our horizons and consider new places to live. A couple of neighborhoods were really promising, but we haven't found an actual apartment we like yet.

Labor Day is often associated with cook-outs, grilled meat and all those great summer foods. We don't have a grill, so we had something more akin to a Sunday dinner (on Monday). We had liver and onions, collard greens and corn. I read about a technique in Mark Bittman's column a while back that recreates the taste of grilled corn without a grill. What you do is heat up a cast iron skillet, melt some butter, and pan fry the corn. It looked beautiful, but unfortunately tasted mushy and flavorless. I think our CSA farmers gave us cow corn! Oops! We each took a couple of bites, but couldn't finish it.

The rest of the meal was a huge success. We always like liver and onions. This time around it was bison liver. Here is my recipe. For the collard greens, I basically followed ChezSuzanne's recipe off of Food 52. My husband exclaimed, "These are the best collard greens that I have ever tasted!" and a few bites later "These are amazing." They are definitely worth a try. It includes garlic chips, bacon, and a butter and apple cider vinegar sauce- need I say more?

Here is a close up of the garlic chips and bacon bits awaiting their fate (That's a small plate).

This post is part of Two for Tuesdays at A Moderate Life, Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, and Tempt my Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Making a Plan

We had a busy day walking around Brooklyn. We are considering moving to have some more space, so we were checking to see how we felt in a couple of different neighborhoods. There are lots of nice places, but we are weighing living space, distance to the subways, outdoor spaces, and things to do close by. It is hard because there are so many choices. It feels that we need to keep looking and looking so that we won't miss that one good deal right around the corner. A decision will need to be made in three weeks, which is good. Sometimes it is good to have deadline.

I thought we should get more organized this week and plan out our meals. We are going out of town for a wedding on Friday and Saturday, so this plan will only take us through Thursday. I want to eat up our farm share veggies and our farmers' market finds:

Monday - Stuffed Peppers with some grass-fed ground beef, corn, carrots, garlic, mushrooms and fresh tomato sauce.

Tuesday - Liver and Onions with Collard Greens and Corn on the Cob.

Wednesday - Salmon and a Mediterranean Salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, avocado, chickpeas, sorrel, garlic and feta (inspired by a dish at Miriam Restaurant in Park Slope)

Thursday - Lentil and Beet Salad with goat cheese and beet greens

Last night, we had steak with leeks and mushrooms over some yellow beans (or should they be called wax beans?). It wasn't the most photogenic meal, but it was delicious. The steak was a tough cut, so we cooked it pretty rare.

Steak with Leeks and Mushrooms
1/2 lb steak, thinly sliced
1 head of garlic, minced
2 T soy sauce
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 lb of Oyster mushrooms, chopped
2 leeks, whites finely sliced
2 T butter

Mix the steak, garlic, soy sauce, and lemon juice and let marinate for a few minutes. Heat a skillet and coat it with oil. Add the steak mixture and quickly toss it in the pan for a minute and turn off the heat. Cook mushrooms, leeks in the butter until brown (about 10 minutes). Combine and enjoy!

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

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