Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Leftovers!

I really should have done this on Friday, I know. But by now you should be getting sick of your leftovers, and this may inspire you to use them up in some more creative ways.
Sweet Potatoes or Winter Squash:  Make soup: Slice a large onion and cook in a saucepan with one tablespoon of butter over low heat until it becomes quite soft and begins to get sticky. Add 2 to 3 cups of leftover vegetables and 2 to 3 cups of chicken broth (or vegetable broth-- bouillon works) and simmer for 10 minutes. Puree in a food processor or using a hand blender. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.
Cranberry Sauce: Combine 2 Tablespoons of cranberry sauce with 4 Tablespoons of cream cheese and 1 Tablespoon of blue cheese or gorgonzola. Spread over crackers or bread as an appetizer. OR place a dollop of marscapone in a pre-made tartlet shell (in the freezer case in the store) and top with cranberry sauce. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees and top with whipped cream for an easy dessert.
Turkey: any leftover bits of turkey and gravy can be put into a Shepherd's Pie- heat them with carrots, potatoes (sweet or white), peas and anything else you love. Pour into a shallow casserole or pie pan and top with leftover mashed potatoes. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes. OR, saute some onions, garlic, bell peppers and add a can of crushed tomatoes, diced leftover turkey, a can of kidney beans, and chili powder (start with a tablespoon) to taste, along with 1 teaspoon of ground cumin and a 1/2 teaspoon each of basil and oregano and simmer for an hour for a Turkey Chili. To make it a Turkey "Mole" chili, add an ounce of unsweetened chocolate and 1/4 cup of leftover cranberry sauce. (I'm not crazy- try it!) OR make this Cassoulet. It uses leftover vegetables as well as leftover stuffing.

Leftover Turkey Cassoulet
Poultry, sausage and white beans are the essential ingredients in a cassoulet. This brings those flavors together using leftovers from your Thanksgiving meal. If you don’t have any leftover vegetables, it’s worthwhile making some for it!
1 Tablespoon butter or vegetable oil
2 onions
1 carrot
1/2 pound smoked sausage (such as kielbasa)
1 pound leftover cooked turkey (mixture of white and dark meat)
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup dry red wine or apple cider
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes 
2 cups water
2 cups leftover diced (not mashed) vegetables (sweet potatoes, roasted squash or root vegetables, green beans, etcetera)
2 (15-ounce) cans Great Northern beans, drained
2 bacon slices
1 to 2 cups leftover stuffing

1. Prepare the ingredients: Dice the onion, carrot, kielbasa and turkey. Mince the garlic and chop the parsley.
2. Melt the butter (or heat the oil) in a large ovenproof Dutch oven over medium heat. Add one half of the onion and garlic, and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the wine or cider, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, basil, and the tomatoes. Bring this to a simmer, reduce the heat and continue to simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes. Spoon into a separate container and set aside. 
3. Combine 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 cups water, and the carrots in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, 10 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Drain. 
4. Partially mash the beans with a potato masher. Place the beans and the reserved tomato mixture in the Dutch oven. Cook over medium-low heat for 30 minutes or until thick. Remove from heat. 
5. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Cook the bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan, crumble, and set aside. Add the rest of the onion and the sausage to the skillet with the bacon fat and sauté for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add the diced leftover turkey, crumbled bacon, and the sausage mixture to the Dutch oven and stir to combine.
6. Cover and bake at 325 degrees for one hour. Uncover and top with leftover stuffing. Bake an additional 30 minutes.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna and Brussel Sprout Leaves

It snowed in Connecticut- in October! I, blessedly, did not lose power, so I have time to record recent culinary adventures.
Did you know the leaves of the brussel sprout plant are edible? Not just edible- really delicious. They have the texture of collard greens, but are sweet without needing long simmering or a lot of fiddling with. The addition of some mustard into the cooking liquid (called 'likker' in the South) toward the end of cooking gives the dish a great added dimension. I had it with some roast chicken and a baked sweet potato with maple syrup and cajun seasoning.

Short Simmered Brussel Sprout Leaves
These are the leaves that grow on the top of the plant- not to be confused with the leaves that comprise each little sprout. 

Leaves from one Brussel Sprout plant
1 Tablespoon oil or butter
1 medium onion
1 garlic clove
1 cup chicken broth
1 heaping teaspoon brown mustard mixed into 1/2 cup warm water

1. Remove the leaves from the plant and cut into one-inch pieces. Peel the onion and slice thinly. Peel and slice the garlic.
2. Fill a bowl with cold water and put the leaves in, swishing around to remove any dirt or silt. Lift out of the water, and repeat with clean water. Repeat until there is no longer any visible dirt in the water. Do not dry the leaves.
3. Heat the oil or butter and add the onion. Cook over medium heat until soft. Add the garlic and brussel sprout leaves and stir to coat the leaves with the onions, garlic and oil. Add the chicken broth and lower the heat to a slow simmer. Simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes, tasting occasionally to see if it is the ‘toothsome-ness’ you prefer.
4. When it is the right texture, add the mustard-water and turn the heat on high. Cook, stirring, until the liquid is reduced, about another 5 minutes.

We are officially into the autumn-comfort-food season now! My CSA share brought purple-topped turnips, cauliflower, potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, escarole. peppers and eggplant. The escarole went into a soup with pigeon peas and pastina. I added carrots, onion and garlic to the eggplant, pepper and turnips, roasted them with lots of rosemary, and layered them into a lasagna. Much easier than it sounds, and redolent with the essence of autumn.

Roasted Vegetable Lasagne
You can substitute any hardy vegetable for these: sweet potatoes, parsnips, white potatoes, onions, fennel- all would work. Sage instead of rosemary would also be delicious. This recipe looks long, but it is mostly hands-off, so you can start roasting the veggies and simmering the sauce and read the paper until they are ready. Assemble, throw in the oven, and relax some more for another hour.
The Vegetables:
 1 medium eggplant
2 large carrots
2 purple-topped turnips
1/2 onion
1 banana pepper
4 cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary
salt and pepper
 The Sauce:
 One 32-ounce can tomato puree
1/2 onion
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 fat cloves garlic
1 stalk of celery
4 ounces mushrooms
1/2 cup red wine
salt and pepper
The Assembly:
 one package of no-bake lasagna noodles
1-pound ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces mozzarella

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Roast the vegetables: Wash the eggplant, carrots, and turnips and cut them all into strips 1/4” x 2”.  Cut the onion half into 4 wedges. Cut the pepper in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and cut into strips.  Peel the garlic and slice thickly (each clove will make about 4 slices). Place in a roasting pan and toss with the olive oil and rosemary and season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and roast for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and cook another 15 minutes. The vegetables should be tender, but not mushy.
3. Meanwhile, make the sauce: Mince the onion, garlic, celery and mushrooms. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onion and celery. Cook, covered, over medium-low heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic and stir to combine. Cook another 2 or 3 minutes and add the wine and tomato puree. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Combine the ricotta, egg and oregano and season with black pepper. Grate the mozzarella.
5. Spread a small amount of sauce (about 1/4 cup) over the bottom of a lasagna pan. Make three layers, starting with the lasagna noodles, then ricotta, vegetables, mozzarella, and then sauce. Finish with sauce and mozzarella.
6. Bake at 375 for about an hour. Let rest 10 minutes before cutting.

Escarole and Pigeon Pea Soup
White cannelloni beans could be used instead of pigeon peas. This is a very hearty soup, great served with whole grain bread and sweet butter.
1 onion
1 large or 2 medium carrots
2 cloves garlic
1 Tablespoon olive oil
One bunch escarole
1 can pigeon peas, or 2 cups cooked pigeon peas
4 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water
2 Tablespoon pastina or orzo
1 Tablespoon fresh herbs (sage, thyme or oregano)
kosher salt and pepper to taste

  1. Cut the escarole into 1/2-inch pieces and wash in several changes of water. Peel and chop the onion and garlic. Rinse and drain the peas. Dice the carrot and chop the herbs.
  2. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onion and carrots. Cook over medium-low heat until barely tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and escarole and stir. Add the peas and broth and cook, stirring, about 15 minutes. Taste to see if the escarole is done. When it is done, add the pastina or orzo and herbs. Cook an additional 10 minutes.
Even though the summer CSA season is over, I'll be shopping at the farmstand through November. More to come!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Corny Corn Chowder

Chowder. For several years I was responsible for regulating the judging of the Chowder Cook-Off at the South Norwalk Harbor Splash! Festival. In order to do that, we had to define what made a chowder a chowder. After much research, and interviewing chefs from around the country, we determined that to be a chowder, the soup had to be thick and chunky and had to contain potatoes (less chunky and no potatoes, you are really creating a bisque). Other than that, it can contain milk, cream, or any kind of broth as its liquid, and its main ingredient can be anything that is good in chunky form with potatoes.
Corn chowder can be very boring. It's often hard to get flavor from the corn. Here are two of my recipes. The first, made with just six ingredients, requires fresh, seasonal corn. This is a chowder to be enjoyed in the late summer or early autumn (I made it just last night). The second one can use frozen or canned corn, as its flavor is enhanced with bacon, herbs, garlic, and onion- and it uses dairy as part of the liquid. It is a great soup to have on a chilly winter day.
If you find yourself with too much corn from your CSA, husk the corn, boil it for 3 minutes, cool and freeze in plastic bags. When you want to make chowder, defrost it, and then cut the kernels off the cob. It won't be quite as good as fresh, but better than commercial frozen corn.

Corny Corn Chowder
This is the corniest corn chowder ever! No dairy (really!) and just six main ingredients (not counting salt and pepper).This is not just chowder with corn in it- by grating the corn and including the liquid you really get the essence of the corn. Pair it with a salad and crusty bread, or a sandwich. This recipe can easily be cut in half if you don’t have this much fresh corn.
8 ears of corn
3 Tablespoons oil
1 onion
3 Tablespoons flour
2 to 3 large baking potatoes
4 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)

  1. Put a box grater in a large bowl. Grate 5 of the ears of corn right down to the cob, catching all the liquid that comes from the corn. Cut the kernels off the remaining ears of corn and add to the bowl.
  2. Peel the onion and potatoes and cut them into medium dice.
  3. Heat the oil in the bottom of a large heavy saucepan. Add the onion and cook over medium-low heat just until it begins to change color and soften. Add the potatoes and flour and cook, stirring, for another 3 or 4 minutes. Add the corn and ‘corn milk’ and stir. 
  4. Simmer 10 minutes and then add the broth. Cook, simmering, until the chowder thickens slightly and the potatoes are tender, about twenty more minutes.
  5. Optional: garnish with chopped parsley or chives.
Corn Chowder
This is a good winter chowder, with lots of flavor not just from the corn, but from bacon, garlic, and herbs. 
8 ears of corn (or 16 ounces frozen corn, or 2 cans niblet corn)
1/2 pound thick bacon 
3 large yellow onions 
1 large clove garlic
1 bay leaf 
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
3 large baking potatoes
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup milk 
1 cup heavy cream 
Freshly ground black pepper 
1 bunch scallions

1. Husk the corn and cut the kernels off the cob. Set aside. Cut the bacon into small pieces. Peel and chop the onions and potatoes into medium dice. Mince the garlic and the thyme.
2. In a large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed saucepan, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until lightly brown. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. 
3. Add the garlic bay leaf, thyme, potatoes and corn kernels. 
4. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer slowly, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
5. Add the milk and cream, and simmer for 5 minutes, making sure the soup does not boil. Slice the scallions.
6. Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaf.  Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. 
7. Ladle into soup bowls garnish each serving with the green onions.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sufferin' Succotash!

CSA Succotash Ingredients

Billy Brown (born William Xavier Brown) was my grandfather- “Pop-Pop”. He wore a white dress shirt, tie, creased charcoal grey trousers and a Derby hat every day. He was bald ‘like a monk’, with a strip of black hair from ear to ear. And he was the kindest person I’ve ever known.
He would pick me up from Sacred Heart Academy in his blue Bonneville. Really good pumpernickel bread and butter, wrapped in Saran Wrap, would be sitting on the center console of the big car. “Here you go, Toots. This is for your hungry tummy”. I’d munch on it during the drive home, telling him about my day. When I went away to college in Pennsylvania, Pop-Pop would send ‘Care Packages’ to my campus apartment. They’d be filled with food to sustain me: Skippy peanut butter, Ritz crackers, spaghetti and a jar of Aunt Millie’s Spaghetti Sauce, Spam, tuna fish, and cans of succotash.
Succotash. That is the last time I thought about the mixture of lima beans, corn, green or yellow beans and red pepper. In college, I didn’t care for lima beans, and picked them out of the mix (I could have eaten them and ‘offered it up to God’, but I chose not to. I might go to hell.) Now, many years later, I actually love all kinds of legumes and pulses, limas among them. Succotash can have any legume in it—fava, kidney, white, navy- as well as corn and green or yellow beans. I made succotash earlier in the season with fava beans that I bought at Whole Foods. But this week’s share contains yellow wax beans, edamame, and corn. So-succotash!! Peppers from last week’s share will round-out the dish. Oh…and some bacon, too, just ‘cause it’s yummy and will add some smokiness to the dish. I think Pop-Pop would like it!
Succotash with edamame

The key to a good summer succotash is to keep it fresh and simple. I used bacon here for a wonderful smoky flavor, but butter or oil (1 Tablespoon) could be substituted.

2 slices thickly sliced bacon
8 ounces fresh or frozen lima or fava beans (shelled), or shelled edamame*
3 ears of corn
2 bell peppers (any color, but red and purple look great!)
4 ounces green or yellow wax beans
3 scallions (optional_
freshly ground black pepper

1. Dice the bacon and add to a deep heavy skillet. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is almost crisp and the fat is rendered.
2. Meanwhile, cut the kernels off the corn and dice the peppers. Trim the beans and cut into 1-inch pieces. Trim the scallions and slice diagonally into 1/2-inch pieces.
3. When the bacon is nearly crisp, add the corn and peppers. Cook, stirring, over medium heat until the peppers are crisp-tender. Add the green or yellow beans, cover and lower the heat to quite low. Cook for 5 minutes, until the beans just begin to change color. Stir in the scallions and season with black pepper to taste. Serve hot.

To cook edamame pods: Bring a pot of water to boil- large enough to fit the edamame with 2-inches of water covering them. Add the edamame and bring back to a boil. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water. Squeeze the beans out of the pods.
Succotash with fava beans
This week's share also includes potatoes, leeks, eggplant, cucumbers, and eggplant. Potato-leek soup sounds good for tomorrow- it's supposed to rain all week!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Confessions of a Veggie Lover

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You would think that someone who writes about vegetables and explores what vegetables can do would love all veggies and all aspects of them. Not so much for me. I've tried, but there are some things that I've just had to accept that I- well- don't like.
Seeds in:
*eggplant. I don't like their texture, or how they taste (bitter) or how they look (scary).
*yellow squash. viscous and goopy.
*cucumbers. they make me burp. I dislike burping.
But I do love eggplant and cucumbers and I like yellow squash (not going to lie- it's not my favorite, but I like it). I just have to remove the seeds as much as I can before eating them.
And then there's corn. I LOVE corn dishes: chowder, creamed corn, succotash, corn in salads, in breads, in stews. I just really don't enjoy chomping on an ear of corn. While corn on the cob is, yes, yummy- I find it somewhat tedious to eat. And kinda messy.  So there you go.

Given my share this week (summer squash, eggplant and corn included) I had to find a way to enjoy these beautiful vegetables while acknowledging my newly admitted preferences. And now that I've 'come out' about my anti-seed perspectives, I dove in and worked with it.

Summer Squash and Eggplant Dip
This can be eaten as a dip with pita chips or crudités, or as a spread with avocado, sliced cucumber and turkey on whole wheat bread or in a pita. 
2 medium-large yellow squash
1 medium eggplant
1 clove garlic
1-inch piece of fresh ginger
1 teaspoon cumin
3 scallions
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon honey
1 and 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
2. Prick the squashes and eggplant with a knife, place on a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, or until soft.
3. Peel the garlic and the ginger and cut the ginger into 4 or 5 pieces.
4. Slice each one in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. For the eggplant, you will find ‘pockets’ of seeds that can be simply pulled out. For the squash, there will be a sort of ‘well’ of seeds that can be spooned out.
5. Scrape the pulp out of the eggplant and squash into the bowl of a food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.

When in the store today, I found some fresh mozzarella and prosciutto roll on sale for $2.99 a pound. It was great in this layered casserole:

Layered Eggplant and Tomato Casserole
Serve with pasta and Chianti or syrah
1 medium eggplant
2 medium-large tomatoes
8 ounces fresh mozzarella (with or without prosciutto)
8 basil leaves
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
olive oil, as needed

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Slice the eggplant and tomatoes, and mozzarella crosswise, into 1/4-inch slices. Lightly oil a two-quart casserole. Tear the basil into tiny pieces. Combine the breadcrumbs and the Parmesan cheese.
3. Layer the eggplant, then tomatoes, then and mozzarella in the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture and some basil. Repeat. Drizzle all with olive oil. Cover with aluminum foil.
4. Bake for 45 minutes, until cheese is melted and eggplant is soft. If desired, uncover and bake another 5 minutes for a crispier crust.
Layered Eggplant and Tomato Casserole, before baking

Black Bean and Corn Salad
You can add diced avocado, if you want.
15.5 ounce can black beans
1 large or 2 medium ears of corn, cooked
2 medium tomatoes
2 scallions
1 clove garlic
1 – 2 jalapenos or other hot pepper, or to taste
2 tablespoons Pistou
  1. Rinse and drain the black beans. Cut the kernels off the corn.
  2. Cut the tomatoes crosswise and squeeze out the seeds. Cut into medium dice. Mince the scallions and garlic. Cut the jalapeno in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and veins. Cut into strips and then into small dice. and chop the pepper. 
  3. Put all ingredients in a bowl and toss together.
  4. Make the Pistou:1 large bunch basil, 2 cloves garlic, 1/4 clup olive or canola oil, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Place all in a blender of food processor and blend to a paste.
  5. Dress the vegetables with the Pistou and toss.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Eggplant and Shrimp Stir-fry, Potato-Cucumber Salad, Yummy Grilled Steak and Zucchini

Lots of cucumbers, some potatoes, some Japanese eggplant, tomatoes, green pepper and more zucchini made up my share this week. Lots of possibilities!! I love the Eggplant with Garlic Sauce at the local Chinese restaurant, and wanted to make something like it. Okay, I'm not going to lie: it's really hot and as much as I like to cook, I had a craving for it and wanted to just eat it, not make it. But, I had the ingredients, so I fooled around with all the Asian spices and sauces in my kitchen, and after several tries, came up with this one, added some shrimp and had it over rice sprinkled with chopped scallions and peanuts. 
I also had a hankering for some traditional potato salad with a mayonnaise-based dressing, but felt a responsibility to all the cucumbers. Adding them to the potato salad gave the salad some crunch, and the cucumbers went well with the mustard and chives. to go with it, I grilled some zucchini and steak. I also made Chocolate Zucchini Cake- the zucchini does add nutrition, but mostly it keeps the cake really moist. 

Eggplant and Shrimp Stir Fry
Asian (Japanese) eggplant are best for this, but you can use Italian eggplants if you cut them into 1-inch cubes. I added some yellow beans from my share- green beans or broccoli would do just as well.
4 Japanese eggplants or 1 medium-large eggplant
1/4 pound beans or broccoli florets
4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
4 ounces extra large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or smoked sharp paprika
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
4 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar

1 clove garlic
1 Tablespoon Chinese black bean sauce*
1/2 teaspoon chili paste, or chili-garlic sauce*
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons cornstarch

chopped peanuts, scallions, and/or cilantro as garnish
hot cooked brown or white rice

1. Wash the eggplant and cut into 1-inch pieces. Trim the beans and cut into 1-inch lengths. Mash the garlic.
2. Blend together the water, Aleppo pepper, 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch, soy sauce, vinegar and sugar.
3. In a separate bowl combine the garlic, black bean sauce, chili paste, sesame oil and 2 teaspoons cornstarch.
4. Heat the oil in a wok to 350 degrees. Add the eggplant in batches and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown and soften. Remove to a plate while you finish with the rest of the eggplant, and then stir-fry the beans.
5. Remove the beans to the plate with the eggplant and add the shrimp. Stir fry until pink. Put on the plate with the vegetables.
6. Drain off any extra oil in the wok and add back the eggplant, beans and shrimp.
7. Stir to combine, and then add in the soy sauce mixture. Cook, stirring, until thickening.
8. Add the remaining sauce mixture and cook until sauce is of the desired consistency.
9. Serve over rice and garnish with peanuts, scallions or cilantro.
*available in the Asian section of the supermarket

Grilled Steak and Zucchini
You can do this on a barbecue or in a grill pan inside. Serve with Potato and Cucumber Salad.
sirloin steak
1/2 cup vegetable oil (not olive oil)
1 teaspoon chipotle pepper

1. Heat your grill or grill pan. Combine the oil and pepper. Slice the zucchini crosswise on the diagonal.
2. Brush the steak with the oil mixture and place on the hot grill or grill pan, oiled side down. Brush the top with the oil.
3. Cook for 5 minutes and turn over. Brush the zucchini with the oil and place on the grill. Brush the top with the oil. Cook for 4 minutes and turn over. Turn the steak over again, if you like it medium-well, or remove to a plate to rest for medium-rare.
4. Cook the zucchini for another few minutes, until tender. Serve.
Potato and Cucumber Salad
Very traditional in flavor, but the cucumber adds some crunch and the mustard gives it a zing.
4 potatoes
3 pickling cucumbers
1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon stone ground mustard
2 Tablespoons chives
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Scrub the potatoes and cut them into one-inch pieces. Fill a pot with cold water and place over high heat. Add the potato pieces and bring to a boil. Once the water begins to boil, set a timer for 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, scrub the cucumbers and cut off the ends. Cut in half lengthwise and then slice into 1/4-inch slices.
3. Mix together the yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard and chives. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cucumbers.
4. When the potatoes are done, drain and run under cold water. Shake well to dry. Add to the bowl with the cucumbers and dressing and stir to coat. Chill.
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
The end of the summer brings bumper crops of zucchini, often ungainly in size, resulting in recipes for zucchini pancakes, muffins, cookies, and cakes. The zucchini keeps this cake incredibly moist.
2-1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cocoa
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon espresso powder or 2 teaspoons instant coffee

1 cup sugar 
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup apple sauce
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 cups grated zucchini

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Generously grease and flour a bundt or tube pan.
2. Combine the dry ingredients, through the espresso powder. 
3. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients in 2 stages. 
4. Pour into the prepared pan and bake 40 minutes.

I still have cabbage from last week, more eggplant, pepper, zucchini and tomatoes. The eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and pepper are screaming 'ratatouille'. But I'm not there yet. I'm thinking more of a Moroccan stew with grilled flatbread or Vegetarian chili with cheddar corn muffins. Stay tuned!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Zucchini Lasagna and Zucchini Parmesan

Stone Gardens Farm, Connecticut
Zucchini is a most prolific plant. Plant a seed and get lots and lots and LOTS of squash. Because of its abundant output, recipes for zucchini abound-- breads, muffins, gratins, scrambles-- name a dish and someone has probably tried to make it with zucchini, or find a way to put zucchini in it. And I'm no exception. I've made cobbler, bread, muffins, pancakes, put it in chilies and stews, fried it, roasted it, blanched it, stir-fried it, put it into salads and soups.
You'll find the recipe for Zucchini Cobbler in a previous blog. This week I'm honoring my zucchini using some traditional Italian American recipes: Lasagna and Parmesan.
My shares continue to offer dark greens, which I work into the Bechamel Sauce for the lasagna, adding flavor, texture and more nutrition.
The Zucchini Parmesan is prepared as a casserole. It starts out with the breading and frying, then is layered in a baking dish with sauce and cheese and baked. Both can be frozen, bringing summer flavors into the winter months.

Green and White Lasagna with Summer Squash

1 bunch greens (turnip, kale or beet)
2 large summer squash or zucchini
 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 medium cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 cup flour
4 cups milk
2 bay leaves
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 ounces Parmesan cheese
 8 ounces ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 no-boil lasagna noodles
8 ounces mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a 9” x 13” pan.
2. Trim and wash the greens. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the greens and simmer for 10 minutes. Rinse under cold water until cool. Squeeze as much moisture as you can from them. Chop finely. Thinly slice the zucchini or squash crosswise. Mince the garlic
3. Grate the Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.
4. Make a béchamel: melt the butter in a saucepan and add the garlic.  Add flour and stir until combined. Gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a boil and add the bay leaves, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes, whisking occasionally. Add half of the Parmesan cheese. Remove and discard the bay leaves.
5. Combine the ricotta, egg and salt and stir until smooth
6. Distribute 1/2 cup béchamel sauce in bottom of baking dish; position 3 noodles on top of sauces. Stir the chopped greens into the rest of the béchamel.
7. Spread 1 cup greens mixture on top of noodles. Lay slices of squash over the sauce. Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan and top with 3 more noodles. Spread one cup spinach mixture evenly of noodles, layer with squash and sprinkle evenly with 1 cup mozzarella and top with 3 more noodles. Spread with 1 cup of greens mixture followed by ricotta mixture. Finish with 3 noodles, remaining greens and remaining mozzarella.
8. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until bubbling, about 40 minutes. Remove aluminum foil and broil until cheese is spotty brown, 4-6 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Zucchini Parmigiana
This is just like my recipe for Eggplant Parmesan with a few differences: I would peel the eggplant and if it is a very large eggplant, I'd salt the slices and let drain for 15 minutes, then rinse and pat dry before starting the breading process. This will alleviate some of the bitterness that a lot of eggplant seeds can bring.
8 servings
2 eggs
1 ounce Parmesan cheese
1 pound mozzarella cheese
2 Tablespoons parsley leaves
2 large zucchini
black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup flour
2 cups breadcrumbs
olive oil, for frying
2 cups marinara sauce

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grate the Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese and mince the garlic. Mince the parsley.
3. Cut the zucchini crosswise into 1/4-inch rounds.
4. Beat the eggs in a shallow bowl or cake pan and add the cheese, parsley, pepper, and garlic. Place the flour in another shallow pan, and the breadcrumbs in a third.
5. Dredge the zucchini in the flour, dip into the eggs and then the breadcrumbs. Repeat with all slices.
6. Heat 1 inch of oil in a heavy skillet. Fry each slice until golden brown on each side.
7. Spoon just enough of the marinara sauce into a square baking pan (9”x10”) to cover the bottom of the pan. Layer the zucchini slices, sauce and cheese, finishing with sauce and cheese.
8. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, until sauce is bubbling and cheese melts.
Hanson's Farm, Massachusetts

Friday, July 29, 2011

Two Salads on Friday

I woke  up this morning with that stupid song 'The Friday Song' in my head. I am hearing one of my students- albeit one of my favorite students, but she lost likability points for singing this song every bloody Friday!- singing it. Ugh. At least it has a completely different meaning to me during the summer. Friday now means it's time to pick up my farm share. It also means I have to deal with whatever I haven't used from last week's share, and let's face it- we all have some left! 
I still have kale and corn. Earlier this week I made a Kale and Yellow Bean salad that was really refreshing and lasted a few days. I added some canned pink beans and cannelini beans. I think I'll do it again, twisting the flavors a bit, and add the corn. Here is also a recipe for a Broccoli and Chicken Curry Salad. The Curry Salad started out with an idea of a sort of Waldorf Salad- celery, apples, apples, nuts-- and add the broccoli with a mayonnaise-based dressing. But that was boring. So I added some curry, lime and yogurt. And that was good, but not quite where I wanted it to be-- adding the grilled chicken brought a smokiness that did the trick. Fried Wonton Noodles are a great crunchy contrast.

Broccoli Chicken Curry Salad 
If you briefly cook your broccoli, making sure to refresh it in ice water to stop the cooking, it’s ready for lots of different recipes, to toss in a salad, or add to a stir-fry or quiche. Leftover grilled chicken adds a nice smokiness to this salad.
1 bunch broccoli
1 large or 2 medium apples
1 cooked (preferably grilled) chicken breast
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/ cup plain yogurt
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon sweet curry (or more, to taste)
salt and pepper to taste
nuts or fried wonton noodles

1. Trim the broccoli and cut into l-inch pieces. Put a pan of water on to boil and get a bowl of ice water ready. When the water comes to a boil, add the broccoli and cook for 4 minutes. Drain and plunge into the ice water. When it’s cool, drain.
2. Wash the apples and cut into quarters from root to stem. Cut out the core and cut the apple into medium dice. 
3. Remove the skin from the chicken, if necessary, and cut into medium dice.
4. Combine the yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, honey, curry, and salt and pepper. Toss the broccoli, apple, chicken, and raisins with the dressing. Garnish with nuts (almonds or pistachios would be good, but so would walnuts or peanuts) or wonton noodles.
Bean and Kale Salad
The traditional dressing for Three Bean Salad is loaded with sugar. This dressing is slightly sweet, but not overpoweringly so-giving it time to marinate is key. This can be doubled or tripled. Good at room temperature, it’s great for a pot- luck or barbeque.

1 pound fresh green or yellow beans
4 leaves of kale
1/2 red onion
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans 
1 (15 ounce) can white (cannelloni) beans
1 cup pimento-stuffed green olives
3 Tablespoons oil
2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
1 scant Tablespoon honey or agave
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Trim the fresh beans and cut into 1-inch pieces. Wash the kale and trim off the stems. Cut into 1-inch pieces. Thinly slice the onion.
2. Bring a pot of water to boil and have ready a bowl of ice water. When the water is boiling rapidly, add the beans and kale. Boil for 3 minutes. Plunge into the ice water to stop cooking.
3. Drain and rinse the canned beans and coarsely chop the olives. 
4. Put all the beans, the kale, the onion and olives in a bowl and toss. 
5. Whisk together the oil, vinegar and sweetener. Pour over the bean mixture and toss well. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Taste and add sea salt and pepper as needed.

Kale and Corn Salad
A variation of Bean and Kale Salad, this one has a little kick. 
2 ears cooked corn
4 leaves of kale
1/2 red onion
1 small hot pepper, such as jalapeno
1 (15 ounce) can black beans 
1 cup black olives
3 Tablespoons extra virginoil
2 Tablespoons lime juice
1 scant Tablespoon honey or agave
1/4 teaspoon cumin
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Cut the kernels from the corn. Wash the kale and trim off the stems. Cut into 1-inch pieces. Thinly slice the onion. Cut the pepper in half and remove the seeds and veins, and then mince (you might want to wear gloves for this).
2. Bring a pot of water to boil and have ready a bowl of ice water. When the water is boiling rapidly, add the kale. Boil for 3 minutes. Plunge into the ice water to stop cooking.
3. Drain and rinse the canned beans and coarsely chop the olives. 
4. Put all the beans, the kale, the onion, pepper and olives in a bowl and toss. 
5. Whisk together the oil, lime juice, cumin, and sweetener. Pour over the bean mixture and toss well. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. 
6. Taste and add sea salt and pepper as needed.

I know Stacia emailed us what's in our box, but I don't want to peek- I want it to be a surprise. Have a great week!
Broccoli Chicken Curry Salad

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Greens 101

Curly Kale at Kirk's Farm in Massachusetts
I didn't grow up eating a lot of greens. Cabbage. Iceberg lettuce. Occasionally frozen spinach. The cabbage was always boiled, often with corned beef or salt pork- Grandma would make that. The iceberg would be in a salad with cucumbers and tomatoes and bottled Thousand Island dressing. But as a CSA member, we get a lot of greens in the beginning of the summer. And, if we don't take care of them, my guess is a lot of them end up spoiling before they can be used.

Greens basically fall into two categories- tender and sturdy. Tender greens include all lettuces and baby greens, including Asian or 'Braising' greens. Left in plastic bags without air circulating around them they will very quickly (within 48 hours) become soggy and slimy. Not so delicious. Lettuce leaves should be separated, rinsed, and wrapped in paper towels. Then they can be popped into a plastic bag and stored for 4 to 5 days.
Sturdy greens-- mature spinach, kale, collards, bok choy, cabbage-- can simply be placed in the vegetable crisper in your refrigerator. Before cooking, strip off the center stem and wash them- well.

Tender greens are best eaten raw, but sturdy greens can be eaten raw or cooked. Simple sauteing is the fastest method, and tends to bring out the flavor of the greens most. There are several recipes on this blog for that method. But I also like greens that have been slow-cooked to be so tender they melt in your mouth. This method is most often seen in the South, and is traditionally served with cornbread to sop up the cooking liquid. I recently served greens this way with grilled chicken and potatoes. The leftover greens and potatoes made a great Colcannon.

Crock Pot Mess O’ Greens
This takes minutes to prepare, and is absolutely yummy and very easy on a hot and/or busy day. Serve with cornbread to help sop up the sauce.
8-10 servings

4 oz salt pork
2 bunches of greens (collards, kale, turnip—they don’t have to be the same kind-  I like a combination of collards and kale)
1 large onion
1 fat clove garlic
2 bay leaves, torn in half
8 cups water with 1 chicken bouillon cube or 1-1/2 teaspoons chicken base

1. Strip the leaves from the woody stems of the collard greens and kale. Tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Cut the stems on the diagonal in 1/2” pieces.
2. Peel the onion and coarsely chop. Peel the garlic and chop. Tear the bay leaves in half.
3. Place all ingredients in the crock-pot—the salt pork on the bottom- and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

To make this a 'leftover' dish, skip the steps of cooking the greens and the potatoes. Go straight to step three.
1 pound white cabbage or kale
1-teaspoon salt
2 pounds potatoes
2 medium leeks
1-cup milk
1/4 teaspoon mace
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic
8 tablespoons butter

  1. Trim and slice the cabbage or kale into thin strips (if using kale, strip off the thick stems). Place in a large pot of salted water and boil until tender, about 12 to 15 minutes. Drain and set aside. 
  2. Scrub the potatoes and slice (with the skins still on). Bring another pot of water to a boil and boil the potatoes until tender. Drain off the water and set aside. 
  3. Trim the leeks and cut in half lengthwise. Rinse well, separating the layers to remove any sand or silt. Put the leeks in a saucepan, cover with the milk, bring close to boiling, and then turn down to a simmer until tender. Set aside.
  4. Add the mace, salt and pepper, and garlic to the pot with the potatoes and mash well. Add the leeks and their milk and mix in, taking care not to break the leeks down too much. Mash in the cabbage, and then the butter. 
  5. Transfer to an ovenproof dish and place under broiler to brown.  
  6. Serve hot in bowls, topping each bowl with 1 to 2 tablespoons of cream and a sprinkling of chopped parsley.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Zucchini Cobbler and White Broccoli Pizza

Tomas and Kim Diaz tasting Zucchini Cobbler
The young lady at the farm stand apologized for the last minute switch: broccoli instead of escarole. I like escarole, but broccoli is one of my favorite vegetables- no need to apologize! I knew I wanted to have the broccoli with dinner, and started to think about a broccoli salad- maybe a Waldorf-type thing with beets, apples and walnuts? But in my house Friday is pizza night, and I usually make the pizza. So, Broccoli Pizza! You can, of course, use pre-made pizza dough, but this dough doesn't even need to be kneaded, making it easier.
My share also included baby beets, collards, kale, romaine and red leaf lettuces, cucumber, kohlrabi, hakurei (salad) turnips and 1-1/2 pounds of yellow squash and zucchini. 
I have had a hankering for something homey and desserty-- like pie or a cobbler, and thought maybe the zucchini could stand-in for apples. Tomas and Kim were my guinea pigs, and we decided it wasn't apple-y, but was cobbler-y, and that worked. 

Really Really Really Yummy White Broccoli Pizza
Coleslaw makes a great accompaniment. If you don't have bread flour, you can use 2 cups of all purpose flour- the crust just won't be as crispy crunchy.
1 cup warm water
1-1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 bunch broccoli
2 ounces pepperoni (optional)
3 ounces light cream cheese
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon herbes de provence
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

  1. Combine the water, yeast and sugar in a bowl and swirl to mix. Let sit 10 minutes. Add the flours and salt and stir well to mix. Do not knead. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile break the broccoli into florets and coarsely chop the stems. Place in cold water in a pot, bring to a boil and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until desired doneness (I like the broccoli to be really tender for this). Drain and dice.
  3. Dice the pepperoni and combine with the broccoli.
  4. Combine the garlic, cream cheese, and herbes de provence until well mixed (you can add a tablespoon or so of milk if necessary).
  5. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and lightly oil a pizza pan.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll out to fit the pan. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the dough. Carefully distribute the broccoli and pepperoni over the dough and then sprinkle the cheese over everything.
  7. Place in the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese and dough are golden.

Zucchini Cobbler
The bigger the zucchini, the more important it is to scrape out the seeds.
3 medium zucchini, or enough to make 7 cups, sliced
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
4 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
for the crust:
1 cup flour (all purpose or white whole wheat)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 tablespoons butter
3 ounces milk

1. Butter an 8-inch square pan and preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with a spoon. Cut crosswise into thin slices. 
3. Combine the sugar and cinnamon. Toss the apples in the cinnamon-sugar. Pour the zucchini into the prepared pan and sprinkle on the lemon juice. Cut the butter into small pieces and scatter over the zucchini mixture.
4. Combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Cut in the butter to resemble the size of peas. Add the milk and stir to combine. Knead a few times to make a cohesive dough and roll out to an 8-inch square. Place on top of the zucchini. Bake for 45 minutes.
Coming soon: what to do with sooo many greens?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Early July Pad Thai- the result of a well-stocked pantry

This past week's farm share included bok choy, lettuce, kale, beets and beet greens, radishes, cucumber, zucchini, kohlrabi, herbs (I chose parsley), and cabbage. As I was contemplating the possibilities, I received a text from my son saying that the apartment he was moving into the next day did not have a working kitchen- it was in the middle of being remodeled. Good news-- renovated kitchen for most of his lease. Bad news-- no counters, cabinets or sink! He does have a fridge and a stove. So I offered to put my Personal Chef hat on again and make him some meals that he would just have to reheat through the week until the kitchen can be used. A peek into my pantry, freezer and fridge resulted in:

Pad Thai (enough for 3 or 4 meals)
Brined Pork Chops with Crispy Roasted Potatoes and Braised Kale 
Tilapia with Artichokes, Capers, Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives and Pasta
Really Humongous Bag of Salad 
Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

A lot of the share went into the Pad Thai and, of course, the salad. I used the bok choy, but could have used cabbage instead. The salad included cucumbers, kohlrabi, radishes, and grape tomatoes, and he can add cheese or canned tuna or beans for lunches.
It's been awhile since I did this- it was kinda fun! And I didn't have to go to the grocery store for anything-- it was all from my farm share, pantry, freezer and refrigerator. I love that.
Here's the recipe for the Pad Thai. Mung Bean sprouts are traditional, giving a little extra crunch. I cut the leafy part of the bok choy into strips and didn't actually cook them- just folded them into the hot noodles at the end. And I didn't have fish sauce (aka 'Nam Pla', found in the Asian section of the grocery store), so I used soy and Worcestershire sauce (Worcestershire sauce was originally developed to mimic fish sauce). If you have fish sauce, use 2 tablespoons of that instead. Tamarind Concentrate and Rice Noodles are also pretty easy to find in the Asian section of the grocer. If you can't find Tamarind, you can substitute ketchup; and you can use traditional pasta instead of the rice noodles.

Early July Pad Thai
Tofu or shrimp can be added to this dish—add to the wok before adding all the vegetables. Don’t have a wok? A big, heavy skillet will do the trick (but it’s not quite as much fun).

2 Tablespoons Tamarind Concentrate
3/4 cup boiling water
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon chili garlic sauce OR 1 clove garlic and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
8 ounces rice noodles
hot water as needed
small head of bok choy
1 kohlrabi bulb
2 medium carrots
2 spring onions or 1/2 bunch scallions
1 medium zucchini
1-inch piece fresh ginger
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
2 eggs
juice of one lime
garnish (optional): chopped peanuts and sliced scallions

1. Combine the tamarind, water, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, vinegar and chili garlic sauce (or garlic and chili flakes).
2. Pour hot water over the rice noodles and leave to soften for about 5 minutes. As soon as they are soft, rinse in cold water so they don’t get too mushy.
3. Peel the kohlrabi and carrots and cut into matchstick-sized pieces. Cut the green leaves off the bok choy and cut them into ribbon strips. Slice the bok choy stalks thinly. Thinly slice the zucchini. Peel and mince the ginger. Slice the onions or scallions.
4. Heat the oil in a wok and add the spring onions and ginger. Stir fry just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the carrots, kohlrabi and bok choy stems.and stir fry until just beginning to wilt. Add the zucchini and cook a few minutes more. Push the veggies to the sides of the wok, leaving a well in the middle. 
5. Lightly beat the eggs and pour into the well. When they begin to set, stir until cooked. Add the sauce and toss all together. 
6. Add the drained noodles and stir to combine. Add the bok choy leaves and stir through (the heat of the noodles will wilt the leaves just enough). Sprinkle on lime juice. Serve with peanuts and scallions, if desired.

And here's a recipe for the kale-- very basic.

Basic Braised Greens
This is a very, very basic recipe-- really just a foundation for whatever you are in the mood for. Add a handful of nuts or a little sweetener (honey, agave) for a nicely balanced dish.

1 medium onion
2 Tablespoons oil (canola is fine, but you can use olive oil if you prefer)
1 fat clove garlic
1 large bunch greens
1/4 cup chicken broth or dry white wine
dash balsamic vinegar

1. Peel and slice the onion. Heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until soft and fragrant.
2. Meanwhile, peel the garlic and mince. Strip the stems off the greens and cut into 1-inch pieces. Wash well, in several changes of water. Leave wet.
3. When the onion is just beginning to change color, add the garlic and the greens. Cook, stirring, for several minutes over low heat until the greens deepen in color. 
4. Add the broth or wine, cover and let cook for 8 to 10 minutes.
5. Remove to a platter and sprinkle on balsamic vinegar.

Have a great week!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Radishes: Friend or Foe?

radishes and Hakurei turnips at Full Moon Farm in Vermont
They've been used in traditional Asian medicine as a cure for whooping cough, tummy problems, arthritis and even cancer. In ancient Greece they were so revered that replicas were fashioned out of gold. They are popular in a variety of cuisines, from Japanese to German.
And yet, Pliny regarded radishes as 'vulgar' because it caused 'flatulance and eructation' (also known as belching). And as an American chef, a plethora of them can be stupefying. But as I began to play with them, they really are much more versatile than just a tangy crunch added to salads or some color added to a canape. Here's what worked in my kitchen this week...

PICKLE THEM: You can make a quick pickle of them by mixing 3 cups of water, 1 cup of vinegar (white or rice wine) and 1/2 cup of sugar and bringing it to a boil. Slice two bunches of radishes thinly if you want them to pick up the pickle flavor in a few hours, or cut them in half for an overnight pickle. Place the radishes in a clean glass bowl or jar and pour the hot solution over them. Add sliced jalapenos, or peeled and thinly sliced fresh ginger, along with some peeled, halved garlic cloves for additional flavor. Allow to cool, cover and refrigerate for 4 hours for a mild flavor, overnight and up to 3 days for a stronger pickled flavor. These are so fresh tasting and crunchy- serve them as you would any pickle, or add them to chicken or tuna salad.
ROAST THEM: Trim them and toss them with olive oil, fresh thyme or other assertive herb (sage, rosemary) and kosher salt and black pepper and place in a single layer on a baking pan. Roast at 450 degrees until golden, about an hour. You can also add them to a roasted vegetable medley, including such veggies as potatoes, parsnips, and carrots.
GLAZE THEM: Trim them and cut them into halves or wedges. Place in a deep skillet and cover with water. Simmer for 10 minutes, covered, and then uncover and cook until tender, about another 5 minutes, depending on how small you cut them. Drain. Add a few tablespoons of butter to the skillet, along with a tablespoon or so of brown sugar or honey. Cook, stirring, until the butter is melted. Add the radishes and shake the pan to coat them with the glaze. Season with kosher salt and serve.

They do also make great additions to stir fries, and I like to chop them up, toss them with a little lime juice, and serve atop a tostada or in a taco.

Friend or Foe?? Friend, I think!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Spring Harvest Spring Rolls

This week's share brought more lettuces- a peppery Asian mix and baby greens as well as deer tongue and leaf lettuce. There are also some spring onions and Hakurei turnips (very much like mild radishes). I had a barbeque to attend, and decided to bring some spring rolls to share as appetizers.
These spring rolls are made with rice wrappers. While I often go to the Oriental Food Market in Norwalk, CT to get my Asian ingredients, I found sesame oil and rice wrappers at the local Shop Rite in the Asian section. Very convenient!! These keep for days, and are a refreshing snack-- a really easy way to get those vegetables into your diet.
Knife skills are important here. If you have a mandolin, and are not a complete clutz with them, that's a great way to julienne your vegetables. Or you can cut them into planks and stack them in the feed tube of your food processor and use the slicing disc. OR you can get a really thin julienne of carrots by using a vegetable peeler and peeling wide strips and then stacking them and slicing them. Whichever works for you.
Some of the vegetables are stir-fried and chilled, and then I top them with the crisp, peppery Asian greens for more crunch. The sauce is also very easy, but if time is an issue, Ken's Asian Sesame Salad Dressing makes a great dipping sauce, too.

Spring Harvest Rolls
4 dried shitake mushrooms
2 cups boiling water
1 medium bunch bok choy, or 2 baby bok choy
2 carrots
2 spring onions
1-inch piece fresh ginger
1 fat clove garlic, or two medium cloves of garlic
4 cups water
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
30 (approximately) leaves of Asian lettuce mix (or any mixed baby greens)
15 spring roll wrappers

2 Tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 Tablespoon sherry or rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water

1. Boil about 2 cups of water, pour over the mushrooms and let sit for about 30 minutes, until soft.
2. Cut the leafy tops off the bok choy (reserve for another recipe). Wash the stalks and cut into matchstick sized pieces. Peel the carrots and cut into matchstick sized pieces. Trim the bright green, woody stem of the onion and cut the white bulb and tender part of the stem into slivers.
3. When the mushrooms are ready, drain and cut off the woody stem. Cut the caps into slivers.
4. Grate the ginger on the smallest side of a box grater or with a zester. Mince the garlic.

5. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a pot and add the bok choy. Cook for  one minute, drain and rinse in cold water. Heat the oil in a wok and add the ginger and garlic. Cook for a minute or two- just until the mixture becomes fragrant. Add the onions and carrots and cook until they begin to wilt. Add the bok choy and mushrooms and cook for 3 or 4 more minutes. Chill.
6. Meanwhile make the sauce by combining the oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, sherry, cornstarch and cold water. 
7. Fill a wide, shallow dish, such as a pie pan, with warm water. Add a spring roll wrapper and let soak 20 to 30 seconds, until pliable. Remove from water and place about 2 Tablespoons of the vegetables in the center of the wrapper. Top with a few leaves of crisp, fresh lettuce. Fold the sides in, and then roll up the roll from the bottom as tightly as possible, as if it were a burrito. Repeat with remaining filling and rolls. Chill. Just before serving, cut each spring roll in half, on an angle, and serve with dipping sauce.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Lettuce: it's not just for salads anymore

June 10th share

The first few weeks of the harvest bring mostly greens, and this week is no exception. I have some beautiful veggies, -- not a lot of variety, though. There is baby leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, escarole (aka bitter lettuce), kale, Asian mix (aka 'lettuce mix'), purple and green kohlrabi and some pots of herbs. Full shares also got romaine lettuce, radishes and hakurei (aka 'salad turnips'), bok choy, and dandelion greens. 
I like salad, and did pick up some fun salad additions to encourage me to eat more salad but, really, how much salad can one person eat? 
Before I go any further, let's talk about how to prepare the veggies for storage. For the heads of lettuce, break off the leaves and wash well.. I fill a bowl with water and gently swish the leaves around, then remove them from the water and check how much dirt is in the water. I repeat this process until there is no more dirt, then dry the leaves in a salad spinner. To store, I place the leaves in a single layer on a clean tea towel, roll it up loosely and place in a plastic bag in the fridge. For the kohlrabi, radishes and Hakurei turnips, it's important to remove the bulbs from their greens and store them separately. Otherwise the greens will suck up the moisture from the bulbs, leaving them soft and mushy. The very tender greens- baby lettuce and Asian greens, spoil quickly in plastic bags. I place them in bowls and cover them with plastic, or these cool plastic covers that look like shower caps. This way the fragile greens don't get crushed. All of this took me about 20 minutes, and I know my greens will last the week, fresh and springy.

This week I am using some of the lettuce as wraps for a really yummy curried egg salad, and am stir-frying the Asian greens to be served with grilled tofu. Some of the lettuce will end up atop salad pizza. I'll serve the kale Brazilian-style with some baked chicken and herbed polenta. This is going to be a fun week of cooking!

Curried Egg Salad in Lettuce Wraps
The chives in this recipe can be replaced with chopped scallions. This dish can be served at a luncheon, or as an appetizer.

4 large eggs
3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons sweet curry powder
1/8 teaspoon paprika
2 Tablespoons chopped chives
1/2 small jalapeno pepper
1/2 lime
kosher salt and white pepper to taste
1/2 head of leaf lettuce

1. Hard cook the eggs: place them in a pot with enough cold water to cover them by 2 inches. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and cover tightly. Let sit in the hot water for 12 minutes. Drain, and run cold water over them until they are cool. Peel them and mash (I use a pastry blender for this job). 
2. Cut the jalapeno in half and carefully remove the seeds and veins. Mince very well and add to the eggs with the chives.
3. Add the mayonnaise, curry powder, paprika, the zest and juice of half a lime, and a pinch of kosher salt and white pepper. Mix well and taste—if necessary, add more lime juice or salt and pepper.
4. While the eggs are cooking, prepare the lettuce by pulling off the leaves, washing and spinning dry. 
5. Place a tablespoon or so into the center of each lettuce leaf. Roll up and enjoy!
curried egg salad in lettuce wraps
Brazilian Style Greens
I’ve always assumed that greens have to be cooked long and slow in order to be tender and not bitter. I was very, very wrong. This style of cooking brings out the bright flavor of the greens and they are remarkably tender.

2 to 4 servings
1 bunch greens, such as collard, kale or escarole
1 small onion
2 Tablespoons oil or lard
1 very fat clove garlic, or 2 medium cloves
salt and pepper to taste

1. Strip the leaves from the thick stems of the greens. Stack the leaves and roll them up. Cut them into very thin strips and then separate them into ribbons. Cut the onion in half and peel and slice thinly. Peel and mince the garlic.
2. Heat the oil or lard and add the onion. Cook the onion until wilted. 
3. Add the greens and cook, stirring, over high heat until wilted but still bright green, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir through. Cook another 2 or 3 minutes, until the greens become quite fragrant. 
4. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Enjoy the week!! If you want any of the recipes I've mentioned, just ask. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Chili. Chicago Chili. Chili Cheese Fries. Tamale Pie. Chili.

I'm still working on the pork, trying to make the most of everything I have-- trying to make this wonderful meat last as long as I can. While the weather shows signs of spring, there is still a nip in the air, and I was inspired to make a big pot of something. This weekend I made chili. My 'leftover' meals will include Chicago Chili (really just chili over pasta) with salad and garlic bread, Chili Cheese Fries  with fresh green beans and Tamale Pie served with a big Caesar salad. But first for the chili.
Basic Chili
2 ounces bacon or ham fat (I used what I trimmed off the roast, and had frozen)
1 onion
2 stalks celery
2 carrots
1 poblano chili pepper
2 fat cloves garlic
6 ounces ground pork
1 32-ounce can tomato sauce
1 can niblet corn or 1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn
1 can red kidney beans or 2 cups cooked kidney beans
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon ground chipotle chili
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
12 ounces dark beer
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
1. Dice the bacon or fat and place in a cold, deep, heavy pot or Dutch oven. Turn the heat to medium and let cook slowly until the fat renders out.
2. Meanwhile, peel and dice the onion, trim the celery, carrots, poblano and garlic and dice. Add to the fat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to become transparent. Make sure not to brown the vegetables, or they'll bring a bitterness to the dish. If that starts to happen, lower the heat.
3. Crumble the pork and add to the pot. Cook, stirring, until it is no longer pink.
4. Add the tomato sauce. Drain the corn if using canned corn, and drain and rinse the kidney beans if using canned. Add to the pot with all the seasonings. Bring to a simmer.
5. Cover the pot and place in the oven. Cook for 2 hours, checking every half hour. If it is getting too thick, and water (up to 1 cup) and stir before covering and returning to the oven.
6. Remove from oven and add the beer. Stir and cook on the stove, at a low simmer, for 30 minutes. 
7. Taste and correct seasoning with salt and pepper.
8. Serve with grated cheddar cheese, chopped scallions and sour cream

Chicago Chili: Serve over cooked pasta (spaghetti, linguini, fettucini) with lots of grated cheese
Chili Cheese Fries: Make potato fries, either baked or fried (I 'oven fry' mine, tossing cut potatoes in a small amount of oil and baking at 400 degrees for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on how thick you cut your 'fries'). Heat your chili and have grated cheddar cheese ready. Place 1/2 portion of fries on a plate or in a bowl. Add 1/2 a portion of chili and some cheese, repeat with remaining potatoes, chili and cheese. 
Tamale Pie: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Make a batch of cornbread batter (recipe below). Heat three to four cups of chili and pour into an 8" pan. Pour the cornbread batter over all. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Cornbread Topping
 3/4 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
 Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Lightly beat the egg into the milk and oil and add to the dry ingredients. Carefully pour over the chili, spreading to the corners. Place in oven and bake 20 to 25 minutes, until cornbread is brown and chili is bubbling underneath.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

HAM! and leftovers...

BEFORE the glaze
I cooked a picnic ham from my share of the pig.  This ham is very different than commercial  ham. For one, it is not pastel pink. And it does not have that silvery glisten you often see. With no salty after-taste, it is, in the words of my guests, more 'porky', yet definitely cured.
This was an 8 pound bone-in picnic ham. Even with my two sons, daughter-in-law, and three guests there are tons of leftovers. The mildness of the cure allows more possibilities in using the ham. This week it will be a traditional use of leftover ham- lentil soup as well as a version of Spaghetti Carbonara.
Here's the original menu:
Glazed Baked Ham
Mashed Potatoes with Scallions
Roasted Green Beans
Fresh Pineapple Upside Down Cake
I made the mashed potatoes the day before, without the scallions and trimmed and washed the green beans. While the roast was resting, I put the potatoes in a 350 degree oven (adding a bit more milk), covered, to heat along with the beans that were tossed with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper. I stirred the scallions into the potatoes just before I served them.

Glazed Baked Ham
1 8 to 10 pound ham (preferably bone-in picnic)
1 large onion
1 Tablespoon dry mustard, such as Colman’s
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup stone ground mustard
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup orange marmalade

1. Peel and slice the onion. Carefully slice off the skin from the ham, leaving the fat. Set the skin aside.
2. Combine the dry mustard and black pepper. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
3. Put the brown sugar, mustard, vinegar and marmalade in a saucepan and simmer, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until thickened, about 15 minutes. 
4. Score the fat on the ham by making diagonal slashes from top to bottom. Turn it and score from the other direction to make a diamond pattern.
5. Place the sliced onion in a baking pan (if you have a deep enough one with a cover, that’s great—otherwise you can cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil). Place the ham, with the bone pointing up, on top of the onion. 
6. Rub the dry mustard and pepper mixture all over the ham. Cover tightly (with lid or aluminum foil) and bake 2 to 3 hours, until the internal thermometer registers 140 degrees (use a meat thermometer or instant read thermometer). 
7. Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees.Remove the ham from the oven. . Either drain off any liquid in the pan, or place the ham in a clean baking pan and generously brush with glaze. Bake 25 minutes, until the glaze is browned. Remove from the oven, and let rest 20 minutes.
8. Meanwhile, add about 1 cup of the drained liquid to the remaining glaze. Cook over medium heat to thicken slightly.
9. Slice the ham and serve with the sauce.

Leftover Ham Lentil Soup
A perfect lunch with a grilled cheese sandwich

1 ham bone from a picnic ham
1/4 cup pieces of ham fat, drippings from 2 slices of bacon, or 2 Tablespoons oil
1 large onion
2 carrots
2 stalks of celery
1/4 small head of white cabbage
2 cloves garlic
1 pound dry lentils
8 cups water
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup diced ham
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill
salt and pepper

1. Carefully sort through the lentils, picking out any that are discolored or wrinkled. Rinse them in cold water.
2. Dice the onion, carrot, cabbage and celery. (If you want to have more texture, you can slice the cabbage into thin strips). Finely mince the garlic.
3. If using ham fat, place in a large, heavy skillet and cook over very low heat until all of the fat has rendered. Remove any cracklings. If using bacon fat or oil, heat in the skillet. 
4. Add the vegetables and cook over very low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions and celery are translucent. 
5. Place the ham bone in a large soup pot and add the lentils, vegetables, water and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook, partially covered, for 2 hours, until the lentils are soft.
6. Add the dill and ham and cook another 10 minutes. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.

Other ideas for leftover ham: add to Red Beans and Rice, use in Fried Rice or Jambalaya, add cubes to Macaroni and Cheese, toss cubes with vinegar and fresh rosemary and serve cold with hot crusty bread, put into 'twice-baked potatoes' along with some steamed broccoli and cheddar-- the possibilities are endless!