Cooking and Eating

BEANS and GREENS (Coming soon)

NEW FOOD BLOG STARTING JUNE 7th, 2010

June 6th (2010) was the first day of the Logan Square farmer’s market this season.  This is where we (Devin and I) pick up our box of organic vegetables through our CSA (community supported agriculture) with Radical Root Farm , weekly and for the next 20 weeks.  We were members last season, loved it, and couldn’t think not doing it again.  As much as I love food, I don’t spend nearly enough time in the soil.  I was able to go out to Radical Root Farm last week for a half day of farming in exchange for about 10 heirloom tomato plants and a bunch of celery plants to put into the ground at home.  This experience gave me even more respect and appreciation for our incredibly hard working organic vegetable farmers.

I have decided to start this new blog documenting my experience with this seasons vegetables from the csa and all things farmer’s market and other local food sources (because we can) with recipes including successful culinary adventures, failed experiments, and really simple, can’t lose, preparations.  Surely, there will be other foods involved.  We like foods like citrus fruits, olive oil, and avocados (to name a few) way too much.  Also, alot of these recipes are most likely going to include some ingredient that was left over from some other dish from the day or two before.  I love it when this happens.  So, the recipes might be vague, but they should be loose any way. I will most likely accidentally leave some things out.

June 7th

Well our csa actually starts next week, we did go to the market where Radical Root (Alex and Allison) were there selling some of the early harvests of the season and mostly sold out by the time we walked up around 1pm after breakfast.  This is good.  We got a nice, big bag of mixed, spicy greens including Red Giant Mustard, Mizuna, Red Russian Kale, Arugula and Tatsoi!.  This certain kind of heat is actually one of the green things that I wouldn’t necessarily prefer to eat raw.  I know that in Punjabi, these kind of greens grow everywhere and are the featured  ingredient in there main dish, sarson ka sagg, which involves cooking the greens for a long time.  This, as in radishes, really mellows out the heat and turns it almost sweet.  Here’s what I came up with.

Spicy mixed greens in Chili con carne sauce

The night before, I made Mexican style chili con carne with a couple pork chops we got from Mint Creek Farm. This involves simmering pork chops in a simple chili sauce from dried ancho and guajillo chilies that are toasted, soaked and blended with garlic, a little onion, and water for about 2 to 3 hours.  There was some left over chili sauce.

about a pound mixed spicy greens

chopped half small onion

chopped carrot

1/2 cup chili sauce
Saute onions and carrots with salt in a medium pot.  When soft, fill the pot with greens and about a half cup of chili sauce.  Add about a cup or two of water. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to simmer for about a half hour or longer.  Alot of the water liquid should have reduced, but you can have it as soupy as you like.  Add more salt if necessary.

Roasted Potatoes with fresh Sorrel and Marjoram

We also bought some sorrel and marjoram from Vera at Videnovich farms.  A rain delay stop in at Dill Pickle on the way home set us up with a bag of potatoes for 50 cents because they had tiny eyes.  This was going to be perfect for the herbs.

1/4 cup sorrel, fine chop

1/4 cup marjoram, fine chop

3 to 4 medium sized russet potatoes (or any kind), peeled and large dice

2 tblspns olive oil (0r more)

1 tblspn Lemon juice (or more)
1 small clove garlic, fine chop

salt
Boil the peeled potatoes for 5 minutes. Drain and roast in a 350 oven with some oil for about 30-45 minutes.  You’re not looking for a crispy crust, because you want these potatoes to absorb the fresh herb dressing.  Toss gently in a bowl containing the rest of the ingredients.
The broiled asparagus with parmesan and black pepper was great, too.

June 9th

I made it to the Green City Market this morning as everyone was just about through
packing up.  My favorite farm at that market, Green Acres , still had something for me,
though.  I left with two giant bunches of kale (different varieties) and a whole bag full of
fresh, unshelled peas.  (Jaques Pepin would be so happy).  This is the perfect time to share
my favorite recipe to date.  While you can get kale pretty much all year round, this is the
time of year where it is in abundance locally.  Over the last few years, experimenting with
raw vegan cuisine, the most important thing I have taken away is to eat lots of greens
everyday.  This is something I make just about everyday with variations.

Raw Kale Salad

1 bunch kale (any variety)
about 1/4 tspn or less salt
1-2 tblspns acid (lemon, lime, vinegar, etc)
1 tblspn fat (avocado, oil oil, flax oil)
optional: spices, herbs, garlic

Strip kale leaves from the stem.  Discard the stem or keep them for later (their good peeled
and steamed).  Wash the leaves and chop roughly but evenly.  (Some flatter kale, like lacinado or dinosaur kale, is especially easy, because once you take the leaves off the stem, you can stack the leaves, roll, slice and chop).

Put the chopped kale in a salad bowl and sprinkle with salt.  Massage (or “rub-a-dub” as I like to say) with your hands until the kale is wilted and water is coming out when you squeeze it.  Add the acid and massage for a couple seconds.  Now, add the fat.  If you are using avocado, which is my favorite, use about 1/4 of the avocado and mash it right into the kale with your hands until it is totally mixed.  That’s it.

Optional variations:  If you are using herbs and spices, add them with the salt. The most important this is to not add the fat before the kale is wilted.
I never really liked a pea until I had fresh peas out of the pod.  They really don’t need to be cooked, but it’s nice to throw them in a hot pan for just a minute until the pea casing wrinkles slightly.  I wanted to, as with every other “premium” ingredient, feature these peas fairly simply by combining them with just enough bonus ingredients as to not take away from their texture and flavor.

Fresh Peas on Quinoa

1 cup shelled peas
1 tblspn butter
1 tbspn chopped sorrel
salt
parmesan reggiano cheese

½ cup quinoa
1 cup water
1 tspn lemon zest, finely chopped
1 tblspn fresh terragon
Combine quinoa and water. Bring to a boil, then cover and cook on low for about 5 minutes.  Turn off heat.  It will be cooked in about 15-20 minutes, like rice.  Uncover and let sit.  It can be just warm for this.  Add terragon, lemon zest, and a bit of salt.  Heat a skillet on medium-high heat.  Add butter.  When it melts, add the peas and cook for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat, sprinkle with plenty of salt, sorrel, and parmesan cheese.
On a plate, spoon on a shallow pad of quinoa and top with peas.
With the kale salad and the fresh pea/quinoa dishes, dinner was completed with one other super simple dish of french green lentils and roasted cauliflower. On a recent trip to L.A., I stopped in the Spice Station.  After sticking my face in just about every sample jar of spices, chilies, salts, teas, and other dried, powdered flavor explosions, I decided on a few items that I’ve since been experimenting with: long black peppercorns, marash chili flakes, aloo pepper (red chili powder), dried whole black limes, urfa biber (a dark red-black Turkish chili sundried on the plant during the day and wrapped tightly at night to sweat.), hing, and red zahtar.  I thought I would bring a few of these together here with the cauliflower and lentils.
Spiced Roasted Cauliflower with French Green Lentils

½ head small medium cauliflower, broken into substantial pieces

1-2 tblsnps olive oil

3 long black peppercorns

1 tspn fennel seeds

1-2 tspns urfa biber

1 tspn course salt

1 cup dried french green lentils (These lentils hold their texture very well when cooked)
Bring lentils slowly to a boil in about 3 cups water.  Lower heat and cover slightly until the lentils are tender and the water is gone.

Meanwhile, crush the peppercorns, fennel seed, and urfa biber with the salt in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.  Thoroughly coat the cauliflower pieces with spices and olive oil.  Roast in a 350 over for about 30 minutes, give or take 10 minutes.  Stir the roasted, well seasoned and spiced cauliflower into the unseasoned lentils.  The lentils should pick up just enough of the salt and spices to balance.

Oh, right.  And there was one other thing I made first.  Instead of going out front when I heard the elote guy honk his food cart horn as he was making his way up Sawyer ave.  (if you live in a highly Mexican populated area, you know of what I speak.)  The eloteros, besides serving the classic corn on the cob with mayonnaise, chili, and aged cheese,  sometimes make pepinos (cucumbers), another super simple Mexican street food, a perfect, light snack for summer.  I realized I had all the ingredients having just picked up a fresh cucumber from the Dill Pickle co-op.  I also used some of the new flavors I got at the spice station, just because.

Mexican street style Pepinos with a Middle Eastern twist

1 cucumber, half peeled and sliced thin

salt

chili powder (I used a combo of aloo and ancho)

lime juice (except I only had lemon)

red zahtar, a middle eastern dried thyme/sesame seed kind of thing (my variation)
Spread the cucumber slices evenly on a large plate.  Sprinkle with salt, then lime, then chili powder, then red zahtar.

What can I add less of to give more clarity?

June 14

Yesterday was the beginning of our csa for the season.  It’s such a great feeling to walk 5 blocks up the street to the Logan Square farmer’s market and pick up a big box of the freshest possible food from the nicest possible farmer’s (Alex and Allison at Radical Root Farm ) who grow the food a mere hour away in Grays Lake, IL.  Being spring, our box is looking very green, good.  I’m just starting to dig into into it.  As much as I can enjoy getting really involved with a recipe, this food is begging for simplicity.  It’s easy to throw together a “stir fry” of sorts or make a hot pot of mixed vegetables, or something, and when all the individual ingredients are of high quality (or not), it will probably taste really good.  With this special food, I am really just interested, for the most part, in featuring one item at a time in each dish as to really appreciate it’s flavors and textures.  Along with a few items that had resting patiently in the pantry, I came up with the following 3 dishes for dinner:

Hakerei turnips with the greens

1 bunch small turnips with their greens
half small onion, diced
2 small dates, pitted
a pinch of chili flakes
a few sprigs of thyme
1 or two stalks of green garlic greens (tops), cut in half of thirds
olive oil
salt
little squeeze of lemon

Separate the greens from the turnips.
Turnips: wash and cut into thick slices.  Toss them in a little olive oil and salt along with the garlic greens and thyme.  In a small roasting pan, line the bottom with the garlic greens and thyme.  Put the turnips on top and lightly cover with foil.  Roast at 350 until they are done, about 20-30 minutes (or less).  You can take the foil off after a while if you want.
Greens: In a sauce pan, sautee onion and chili in a litter olive oil and salt very slowly until the onions are melty, but not caramelized.  Add the chopped dates, the greens, and a little more olive oil. (I might have used raisins, but only had dates.  This proved to be a Good move). Cover and cook on low until the greens are really tender.  Depending on how you like them, this could be 2 minutes or 15 minutes.  Spoon the greens and turnips onto a plate, side by side.  In the sauce pan, combine roasty turnip juices with greens juices.  Add a little olive oil (or butter, I guess) and lemon juice. Maybe a little salt will be needed.  Stir the sauce briefly and spoon over the turnips and around the plate.  It was nice that the sauce wasn’t emulsified, because it made nice little, green drops with oily centers.  It’s hard to describe, but looked (and tasted) very nice.
This was most definitely and experiment.  I wanted to make spelt tortillas, but I didn’t have any kind of flours in the kitchen except a little potato starch flour in the fridge.  So I just went for it.  This is what happened.  This recipe might have vague measurements, as usual.

Bruschetta  of baked quinoa and flax seed crackers with green garlic guac and garlic-lemon sardines

1/2 cup quinoa, ground in a spice grinder
1/4 cup brown flax seeds, ground in a spice grinder
2 tblspns potato starch flour
1 tspn salt
water

avocado
green garlic
lime juice
salt
canned sardines marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic

Crackers:  Combine quinoa, flax seed, and potato starch flours with salt and mix well.  Add enough warm tap water to make a very thick batter.  Wait 5 minutes and add a bit more water to get the same, thick consistency as before.  When baking in the summer, I use the toaster over, for obvious reasons.  Oil the toaster oven tray with some something rather neutral, like safflower or canola oil.  With a rubber spatula, smooth out the batter onto the oiled tray and brush the top with more oil.  Bake this in a 350 oven until just browned and mostly crispy.  Let cool and cut into rectangles (or however it crumbles ).

Guac: Press a whole, small head of fresh, green garlic through a garlic press. (Or you can finely minces and strain it.) Somehow, blend the garlic with an avocado, some salt, and a tiny squeeze of lime juice (or lemon). This can be smooth or chunky. Add something else…

The sardines have been marinating in oil, lemon, and garlic….

Spread some avocado on the crackers and top with the sardines.
While I don’t find butter (or some kind of yellow tub thing) to be an obvious staple, we did get a high quality, local butter from Castle Rock, so why not enjoy it while it lasts.  Evidentally, the way to eat a breakfast radishes is to dip them, raw into room temperature butter and sprinkle with sea salt.  I love the simplicity of this farm dish, but again, I am not yet Crazy about the raw radish/mustardy heat that some raw greens and veggies have.  So I  came up with a slight twist on the classic and paired it with a really sharp cheddar I came across at the market to balance the clean heat of the radish.  The slight cooking of the radish makes it pretty sweet.

French Breakfast radishes

Butter
radishes, trimmed and halved (save the greens for later…)
sea salt and black pepper

very sharp, white cheddar cheese
fresh terragon
In a hot skillet, heat butter until just frothy.  Saute the radishes, cut side down, for about 3 minutes.  Then, toss radishes in the hot pan for another 2 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt and refrigerate for an hour or longer.  Serve on a plate with a little fresh terragon,  aside a thick slice of cheddar, a pinch of of salt and pepper, and a small pad of room temp. butter.

JUNE 21st

Yesterday was our second csa box from Radical Root .  Though today is the summer solstice, spring green things are still bountiful.  Along with all the leafy greens, lettuces, beets, cruciferous delights, and green garlic scapes, there was a nice bunch of cilantro. This is really nothing like the “grocery variety.”

Interested in even more fresh herbs, I visited Temple Farms (where we usually get our eggs) for oregano, and Vidanovich Farms for sage.  (I had come across some parsley a few days before from the Pickle ).  If you’ve been to a Chicago area farmer’s market, you may have come across the Herbally Yours guy, who grows all his own herbs, chillies, and other aromatics to make his own, seemingly endless variety of flavored vinegars.  A couple favorites of mine are the dill and the terragon vinegars.  A couple nights ago, at a very musically rewarding gig I have been doing lately, I was given a quite substantial bag of green oak leaf lettuce from my piano player/foodie friend, Jo Ann Daugherty (which she grew).  With all these greens, it was obvious that salads were going to be a common occurrence throughout the next week.  It’s great to have these limitations.

Herbed Vinaigrette for any salad or cruditee

3 tablespoons olive oil
½ tablespoon dill vinegar
½ tablespoon terragon vinegar
½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 of a small avocado, mashed
1 (or more) teaspoons sage
1 (or more) teaspoons cilantro
1 (or more) teaspoons parley
1 (or more) teaspoons oregano
about 1 foot of garlic scapes, cut into small pieces
about 1 teaspoon salt
about ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
*more herbs
In a mortar and pestle (or dicing and scraping on a cutting board with a big knife), grind garlic scapes and peppercorns with salt until pasty.  Finely chop the fresh herbs and grind with the paste.  Whisk the paste with the vinegars, oil, and avocado until totally emulsified. (The avocado makes this easy and creamy).  Toss the salad at the last minute.

Lately, at the Pickle co-op, they’ve had bags of about 15 waxy yellow and purple potatoes for 50 cents because of the eyes they are starting to grow.  Naturally, these ended up in the kitchen.  I’ve found one of the best (and easiest) ways to eat these are simply cut in half length wise (un-peeled) and roasted on a hot oiled skillet in the oven until they form a crust.  The length wise cut creates the most surface area to caramelize.  I’ve been doing this as I write and have just finished making a nice, thick dipping sauce for these beauties.

Roasted Potatoes with green garlic scape/pumpkin seed “dip”
this “dip” is good for vegetable, cooked or raw

Small waxy potatoes, washed well and cut in half, lengthwise (un-peeled)
about ½ cup hulled (green) pumpkin seeds (you can get these in bulk)
½ medium onion
½ teaspoon coriander seeds, freshly ground
2 tblspns cilantro (coriander leaf)
1 bunch green garlic scapes (about 10 foot long pieces)
salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1-2 tblspns oil
Preheat the oven (preferably a toaster oven) to 375. (Now start making the dressing)

Get the pan hot.  When the potatoes are washed and halved, oil the pan and place potatoes cut side down.  Don’t touch this for atleast 30 minutes or until the potato halves have formed a crust and are easily flipped.  You shouldn’t have to scrape them off the pan.  They should be golden browned.  Roast skin side down for another 10-20 minutes.  They should be crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside.  Skins a cracklin’.  Sprinkle with salt.

Sautee the onion with the coriander seeds on low heat in the oil for about 30 minutes or until it’s starting to caremelize.  I suppose you can caremelize them alot, like a serious hot dog joint.

In a dry skillet, toast the pumpkin seeds on medium heat.  When the 1st seed pops, toss the seeds in the skillet continuously until they are all mostly browned, but not burned.  It should sound pretty high pitched, like a Motown tambourine.  Grind the seeds in a spice/coffee grinder.

In a food processor, combine onions, raw garlic scapes, pumpkin seed powder, about a teaspoon of salt, lemon juice, vinegar, and cilantro.
June 28th

During half time of one of the world cup games I’ve been watching ( I can’t remember which one, it’s a blur), I decided to kill time and make a pasta dough for a late lunch.  The dough takes only a matter of minutes to make.  It just needs time to rest.  The hard part is later, so I was just willing to see what was going to happen.  I thought of pasta, because there were some left over egg yolks (Temple Farms ) from an delightful and interesting peach angle food cake a few days prior that Devin made.  Instead of making another sweet, eggy dish like creme brulee or some custard, I thought of the Southern Italians who will often make fresh pasta with only the yolk (no white).  I had only whole grain spelt flour.  While it’s really no substitute for durum or semolina when it comes to “real” pasta, it does have a decent amount of gluten which is mostly necessary to make pasta, plus this is what I was dealing with, so why not.

Looking to the recent csa box, I pulled out a nice bunch of beautiful rainbow chard.  While it’s totally good eaten raw, I’ve been into cooking this green, stems and all.  It just tastes better to me for some reason lately.  When it comes to pasta, having parmesan reggiano is almost certainly a must. Well, we only had cheddar cheese (a good one), but that’s no good for pasta.  It tends to get all stringly and clumpy instead of bringing the sauce together on the pasta. I had walnuts in the cupboard, so I went with those. This is what happened.  I stand by it…

Fresh Spelt Tagliatelle w/ Rainbow Chard and Walnut Sauce (actually, the spelt is not fresh, but the pasta is)
3/4 cup spelt flour
about 4 egg yolks
salt
½ onion, diced
1 bunch rainbow chard, stems and leaves separated and chopped
about 1/3 cup walnuts
a pinch of cinnamon
black pepper
zest of a small lemon, finely diced.
Fresh oregano, parsley, and sage, finely chopped
For the pasta, work the egg yolks into the flour with a pinch of salt.  You shouldn’t need any water. In fact, don’t use any.  If the dough isn’t coming together add more egg.  Kneed the dough for few minutes and let rest for atleast a hour under a damp cloth or in plastic wrap at room temp.

…Cut the dough in half and roll out on a floured surface until it’s as this as you can get it into a rectangle.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, just evenly flat.  Use more flour so nothing sticks.
Gently roll the rectangle into a cylinder and make thin slices with a knife to make the pasta into the classic tagliatelle (or linguine) shape.  Gently open up the pasta a make into a litter birds nest tossing with a bit more flour.  Do this with the other half of the dough. Bring a pot of water to boil.  Add a generous amount of salt.

For the sauce, In a pot, saute the onion and chard with a little salt.  Leave the lid on.  It’s more about wilting these two items.

Meanwhile, chop the walnuts finely.  Take half of them an grind in a spice grinder.  (Mine had a bit of Ceylon cinnamon in it, hence, the pinch).  This should make a paste due to the high fat content of the walnuts.

Drop the pasta into the boiling water and add the walnut paste to the greens and onions.
After about 1 minute or less, the pasta is done. Add a little of the pasta water to the greens and stir to dissolve the walnut paste.  The starch water is what really makes the sauce come together. Add the fresh cracked black pepper and lemon zest. Now, add the pasta to the sauce with the rest of the chopped walnuts, a little olive oil, and a little more salt to taste. Mix gently but thoroughly.
Eat it right away.

JUNE 29th

If you’ve ever had Ethiopian food and are interested in What you are eating (If you’re reading this you might be), you’ve thought about the thin, crepe like bread, injera, which is eaten with all the stews.  Injera is a flat bread that is made from fermented teff.  Teff flour is a whole grain flour made from the “smallest grain in the world,” teff.  Having the experience with fermenting foods such as saurkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and other grains, I finely went for the injera.  After making a starter out of teff flour, water, and yeast (fermenting it for about 5 days), I continued with the traditional Ethiopian recipe ( that I found ) by adding more flour, some salt, and a bit more water, and making the injera like a crepe. By the way, most Ethiopian restaurants in this country use a lot of wheat flour in making injera.  That’s fine with me, since I thought the sour flavor was a bit too overwhelming, but still interesting delicious.  After (mostly) enjoying the injera for breakfast along with some gently steamed chard, kale, and herbs, I found myself with atleast a cup of fermented teff starter left over.

I’ve been experimenting with different flours in making tortillas.  Again, spelt is what is available in the pantry.  I decided to combine the traditional, Mexican style flour tortilla recipe with some of ingredients I have immediately been dealing with; spelt and fermented teff flours.

The night before, we were at a going away party for good friends, Charlie and Holly, who are moving to Oakland, CA tomorrow.  They were getting rid of just about everything except instruments and cats.  We left with a few pantry items, including a bag of black beans.  Tostadas were in order.

Beans on injera/spelt tostadas….just needs a nice, fresh topping.  I looked to the csa .  Call it a salad, salsa, or condiment. Either way, this is a really nice raw veggie dish perfectly good on it’s own.  I used a bit of tangy jalapeno/lime hot sauce from a local producer, Co-op hot sauce , that I got at the farmer’s market recently.

Spelt-Injera Tostadas with Black Beans and Raw Summer Solstice Salad

Beans:

1 pound black beans (this makes way more than you need.  Stay tuned for leftover bean adventures)
½ onion, chopped
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
a few epazote or culantro leaves
1 tblspn salt
1 bulb fresh green garlic, crushed
(dried and/or fresh herbs)

Soak beans overnight.  Drain and rinse.  Cover with plenty of water and slowly bring to a boil.  Add the onion, bay leaves and epazote leaves. Simmer for about 1 hour or until beans are tender.
When tender, add cider vinegar and salt. This drastically slows the softening of the beans.  Continue to simmer for a bit. (It’s best if you let the beans cool completely in pot and reheat. The texture is superb this way).

When ready, reheat some of the beans (about 2 cups) with the crushed garlic and herbs.  Add some salt if necessary.  Mash the beans a little until they can be spread.

Salad (Salsa):

4 long fennel stems, fronds removed
1 small carrot
1 green onion
1-2 feet of garlic scapes
about 1/4 cup (or less) raw almonds
parsley
sage
dill
lemon and/or lime juice
salt
olive oil
(jalapeno/lime hot sauce)
ancho and guajillo chilli powder

Finely chop the 1st 8 ingredients and combine with some salt.  Massage this until water starts coming out. (This is the secret to speed up the marination process).  Add some lemon and/or lime juice and olive oil to your liking with a couple teaspoons of hot sauce (if you want).
Tostadas:

1/4 cup teff Injera starter* (this needs 5 days)
http://chefinyou.com/2010/02/ethiopian-injera-recipe/
1 cup spelt flour
2 tblspns palm oil (vegetable lard)
salt
For the tortillas, combine the spelt flour with palm oil.  Mix this until the fat is combined with the flour.  Mix in a pinch of salt.  Add the teff injera starter.  Mix until the dough comes together.  Use a bit of hot tap water if necessary.  It should be soft yet workable.  Roll of small, walnut size balls of dough and let rest until a damp towel for about a couple of hours or so before making the tortillas.  Because of the teff starter, the dough balls should ferment a bit and rise slightly.  Good.

Heat an ungreased skillet on medium-high.  Roll out tortillas very thin using a bit more flour. Cook on the skillet, one at a time, flipping only once when tortilla starts to bubble (about 30 seconds each side).  Keep the cooked tortillas together in a dish towel until they are all done.

To finish:
Spread some of the beans on the tortillas and top with the salad. Sprinkle with a little ancho chilli powder  Open your face to this open-face.

JUNE 30th

This was kind of a quick dinner I started on a whim a few hours prior before going to work on some music with my good friend, Michael Caskey, last night.  By the time we finished and walked in the garden a bit, I was eager to get going on whatever was to become of the spelt/flax pizza dough rising patiently on the counter.  Maybe just a little thoughtfulness ahead of time makes it really easy to make a seemingly complicated meal come together in no time (fun time).  While a “real” pizza dough might be carefully measured, I believe the measurements can be “felt out,” if you are familiar with pizza making.  It’s nice, as long as you’re not running a restaurant, to have be a bit different every time, hence, the vague recipe.  The kohlrabi was from Temple Farms , while the scapes, snow peas, and green onions were from the Radical Root csa .  I found some sage in my parents backyard.
…more adventures in spelt…

Spelt/Flax pizza with sardines, kohlrabi, garlic scapes, snow peas, green onions, and crispy sage

Dough:
about 1 ½ cups spelt flour
about 1/4 cup ground brown flax seeds
1/4 cup warm water
a few pinches of yeast
a pinch of salt.
Olive oil

Toppings:
I can sardines in tomato sauce
1 kohlrabi bulb, sliced and steamed
about 1-2 feet garlic scapes, finely chopped
a hand full of snow peas in the pod (they should be tender), stem and strings removed, finely chopped
1 large green onion, finely chopped
a handful of sage leave, crisped in hot oil in a skillet.  (These are fragile)
a little cheese if you want (I used a sharp white chedder, but only a few slices across the top when the pizza was done)
olive oil
salt/pepper

For the dough/crust:
Sprinkle the yeast into the warm water and let sit for about 10 minutes.  In a large bowl, combine flour with ground flax seed and salt.  Add the water to bring into a dough.  Kneed this for a few minutes and rub with a little olive oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rise for about 1-2 hours.

Preheat an over to 450 with a cast iron griddle or pizza stone in the oven.

Meanwhile, get your toppings together:
Take out the sardines and break them apart with your fingers.  Reserve the sauce they were in.
Combine all of the other ingredients besides the fried sage leaves and cheese with some salt, pepper, and olive oil.

For the crust, Roll out the dough with a little more flour OR open the oven and stretch the dough across the entire pan. (This is what I did.  I was hungry).  Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  If it’s pretty thick (because your pan is small) cook this for about 5 minutes before putting the toppings on.  (I suppose you could even flip it).
Brush the top of the pizza with the sardine can sauce and a bit more olive oil.  Spread the rest of the toppings over the top including the fish.  Put little slices of cheese and sage leaves here and there.  Use more herbs if you want.  Bake this until it looks like pizza.

JULY 6th

I came home tonight having just played some real, modern jazz at Smoke Daddy.  This weekly jazz gig has been happening, some how, for almost 20 years now; the torch being passed in same way or another.  I have had the pleasure of playing this gig consistently, irregularly for 10 of those years.  Having had a rare supper outing in Chinatown this late afternoon, I was pretty hungry by the time I got home.  A couple days ago, we went out to The Farm (Radical Root ) to pick up our csa box because 1) there was no market because of the 4th and 2) we were going to be out of town at a wedding.  I made, for the first time, a Welsh rarebit inspired, late night snack with some radical root ingredients along with a fresh baguette from Coq Au Vin we picked up from the Pickle earlier this evening.  I was pleasantly surprised.  While there are surely much more involved rarebit recipes (that should probably include some kind of beer), this completely hit the spot.  This was really all about the quickness and ease of this dish with great ingredients on hand.  The proportions are really loose, again…Also, this serves 1 or 2 people.  Double and quadruple the recipe for more people.

Quick Rarebit with String Beans and Baguette toasts
10 string beans (green and purple), chopped into thirds

1/4 cup chopped sharp “white” cheddar cheese
1-2 tblspns dijon mustard
1 tspn lemon juice
½ teaspoon freshly ground fennel seed and black pepper
2 tspns summer savory, finely diced
2 inches garlic scapes, finely diced and ground
1 tsbpn salt

baguette slices

In a pot, bring about a cup of water to a boil.  Add the string beans.  Place a strainer inside the pot over the beans.  In a ramekin or small bowl that will fit in the strainer in the pot, add the rest of the ingredients (besides the bread) and place inside the strainer.  Cover the pot with a lid.  By the time the beans are just tender, the rarebit should be pretty melty (about 5 minutes).  Meanwhile, toast the bread.  Add a tiny bit of the string bean water and whisk the sauce.  Add the string beans.  Serve the rarebit with green beans on the toast.  Tang.

JULY 21st
I made it to the market on Sunday (Logan Square) just in time to grab the csa box of treasures and stop by the Temple Farms stand across the way for a few things before a rain storm came whisking in with a fury.  Walking home (with the food) in the rain was refreshing.  I needed a good wetting.  So I bought a Chicken from Temple along with a dozen eggs.  When I buy meat, I like to get it from the best source possible and honor it by using All of it.  Along with some of the vegetables from Radical Root , here are a few dishes that came about.

1st – fennel seed and sage roasted whole chicken on the grill over potatoes and carrots with grilled zuccini

1 small/medium chicken, clean and dry

about 2  teaspoons or more of each: fennel seed, black pepper, coriander seed, and salt, freshly ground

5-7 medium red potatoes cut in half

5 whole carrots

a bunch of sage leaves

½ of a lemon

½ of an onion

2 zuccini, halved long ways

a cast iron skillet

charcoal/wood burning grill
Get the coals going on one side of the grill.  Oil the skillet and place the potatoes cut side down.  Fill in the gaps with the carrots. Top every potato with sage leaves. Sprinkle with a little salt. Put the lemon and some sage leaves inside the chicken followed by the onion to “plug the hole.” (You can put more stuff in there, too, if you want.) Rub the chicken with the spice rub. Use more if you think you need to.  Tuck the wings under the chicken so they don’t burn.  Very loosely cover (or tent) the skillet with foil.  When the coals are ready, smooth them out keeping them on one side.  Put the skillet with the goods on the other side for in-direct grilling.  (I really did this because it was way to hot to have the oven on and it wouldn’t fit in the toaster over.) Make sure the top and bottom holes of the grill are open.  Place the lid on the grill making sure to leave about an inch open for air.  This keeps the fire going and the smoke and heat in the grill.  In 20 minutes, turn the skillet so the other side is closer to the fire. Now, brush the chicken with the juices that are collecting in the pan.  You can also use butter or oil if you don’t have enough or if the potatoes have already soaked it all up. Remove the foil and brush periodically.  In another 20-25 minutes, the chicken should about done.  Check it with a thermometer.  It should be at about 150 (contrary to some some sources that say 180. If you got your chicken for a very local and clean source, you have Far less to worry about).  The temp should go up about 10 degrees while it rests.  Remove the pan from grill.  While the chicken is resting, brush the zuccini with pan juices and grill them for a couple minutes on each side directly over the coals.

Carve it, enjoy, and save all of the bones…

2 – chicken broth

Place the chicken bones in a medium sized pot with half an onion, a carrot, a piece of celery, and a bay leaf. If your chicken came with innards, use the neck and gizzards (use the liver for something else).  Cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer for a few hours.  Strain the broth and let in cool in the pot.  With a couple forks and/or your fingers, remove ALL the rest of the meat from the chicken bones and reserve this for the next dish…  Skim off the fat on the surface of the broth.  You have chicken broth for anything you wish to use it for.

3 – broth with a side of yolk

Once, while in some small Polish town, I had a very simple dish.  It requires the freshest eggs and a good chicken broth.  Basically, serve a bowl of broth next to a barely cooked egg yolk in a separate, tiny dish. (I used soy sauce dishes).  To gently heat the egg yolk, I separated them for the whites by cracking them into a bowl and gently lifting out the yolk with my hand.  Save the whites for omelets or a soufflé. (I made a honey/chili soufflé).  I lined my little bamboo steamer with some outer cabbage leaves and topped them with the egg yolk and steamed them until they were right about to turn that yellow color that orangeish yolks turn when they cook. This takes about 1 minute.

Basically, you take a little of the yolk with a little of the broth in each spoonful.  How often do you find yourself eating the chicken and the egg at the same time?

4 – stuffed green peppers with chicken, quinoa, and zuccini.
2 large green peppers

about ¾ cup quinoa

about ½ cup diced chicken (reserved from the roasted chicken)

1 zuccini, diced

1 large green onion with a bulb

*If you make this stuffing a day ahead, it will be even better.

Combine quinoa with 1 ½ cups broth (or water).  Bring to a boil, cover, and turn off the heat.  Let this sit for about 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.  Don’t over cook it.  Meanwhile, carefully cut off the tops of the peppers cutting fairly close to and around the stem. Keep the stem cap.  Remove most of the seeds and ribs without breaking the pepper.  You can steam the peppers for 5-10 minutes if you want.

In a skillet, quickly sauté the onions and zuccini in a little oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Add this to the cooked quinoa along with the chopped chicken.  Make sure this has enough salt. Stuff the peppers and cap them.  Roast this in a hot oven or grill until the peppers are nice are roasty with some blackened spot.  Drizzle a little olive oil over the peppers with some more sea salt and black pepper.

Ratatouille w/ baguette

This, I made exclusively with vegetables from our csa along with herbs from our garden and the last of the chicken broth (except for a little olive oil and sea salt). It’s come along way by now.  I feel you should never make ratatouille with anything but garden/farm fresh vegetables. While often great and sometimes preferable in some foods, canned tomatoes (even fire roasted) won’t do this dish justice.  This should taste differently every time you make it because of the inevitable variation of ingredient ratios and varieties of veggies.  I like to make it pretty soupy as opposed to a more stewy or roasty. Plus, I still had a couple cups of broth that I really wanted to use.  You really don’t need to add any kind of broth or water for this.  There is enough water in it already and it will definitely still be delicious.    Here is one, one of a kind possibility.
1 medium sized eggplant, thinly sliced into rounds with the skin

3 tomatoes, rough chopped

1 large summer squash (I’m not sure if this is a zuccini or not), thinly sliced into rounds

1 large green onion, finely diced

1 clove of garlic, diced

a small branch of rosemary

a small handful of fresh basil, terragon, and parsley, roughly chopped

1-2 cups chicken broth

olive oil

sea salt and pepper
*slice the eggplant right before you cook it or in will start to turn brown.

In a medium pot, sauté the onion and rosemary branch for a couple minutes. Add the garlic and some salt.  In a minute, add the eggplant and summer squash. Saute for another minute and cover with broth.  Add more water if you want, but wait and see how much the veggies let go. Cover and simmer for about 10-20 minutes or until the eggplant is really soft.  Chop the tomatoes and add them to the pot with the herbs.  Let this sit off the heat with the lid on for a few minutes.  Taste for seasoning (salt).  Ladle into deep bowls (not wide, shallow bowls that allow soups to get cold too quickly).  Top each bowl with olive oil and black pepper.  Serve it with some toasted baguette.  Cook au vin has the best and can be found at Dill Pickle .  A couple nice accompaniments are Dijon mustard, cornichons, and cheese.  So French…

July 23

This morning, featuring the last couple items left from this and last weeks csa , along with the last of a big, beautiful watermelon we’ve chipping away at for about a week from the Pickle , and the last 2 eggs from Temple ,  I came up with a simple, one pot breakfast dish to enjoy with the watermelon (and coffee, of course).  It’s really simple and is all about the timing.

string beans and cabbage with eggs, herbs, cheese, and toasted pumpkin seeds.  + watermelon

2 big handfuls of string beans (green, purple, yellow), broken into thirds, halves, or whole, depending on the size.

1 small head of cabbage (this one was cone shaped), thickly sliced and/or chopped

2 eggs

a couple two-tree tablespoons grated, metlty, white cheese

½ teaspoon dried herbs like thyme, rosemary, lavender, ground

½ teaspoon fennel seeds, ground

½ teaspoon black pepper, ground

salt

fresh parsley and dill, finely chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup raw hulled (green) pumpkin seeds
watermelon

In a pot, bring about ¾ cup water to boil.  Add the beans and cabbage along with the spices, dried herbs, and some salt.  Meanwhile, in a medium heat skillet, dry toast the pumpkin seeds tossing them around until they pop and are golden brown.  Once the first one pops, don’t take your eyes off these.  They burn easily.  Cook the beans and cabbage with the lid on for about 5-10 minutes or until the beans are almost the way you like them. Crack the eggs in the pot and cover for another couple minutes until the whites are just about cooked.  Remove from heat and add the fresh herbs, cheese, a bit more salt, and olive oil.  Stir. The little bit of left over water (broth at this point), mixed with the easy egg and cheese should make a nice sauce.  Spoon this into bowls and top with the toasted pumpkin seeds.  Eat along side a couple thick slices of watermelon.
It was one of those pantry inspired dinners.There’s always some kind of pea or bean waiting patiently for just the right moment.  One of my favorite legumes is what is often called the French green lentil. It’s a beautiful, round, little dinosaur egg that ends up turning brown when cooked.  It holds it’s shape better than any other lentil and is best eaten while featuring it’s natural texture as opposed to blended into a soup or stew.  These lentils are really more like eating caviar.  I made the following recipe along with a fresh red sweet corn risotto and fresh figs, but this is what really stood out to me.  It won’t really be the same with any other lentil.

‘warm’ French green lentil salad

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1 cup dried French green lentils

½ small onion

1 carrot

1 small rib of celery

(the French have a name for these 3 veggies)
dressing:

1 tblspn Dijon mustard

1 tblspn cider vinegar

2 tblspns olive oil

1 tblspn fresh parsley, finely chopped

about 1 tspn sea salt, finely ground

black pepper

sour cream

chives

Bring about 2 cups water to a boil with the lentils; no salt.  Meanwhile, sauté the onion, carrot, and celery with a little salt until soft.  Add this to the lentils.  Simmer with the lid mostly on for about 30-45 minutes or until the lentils soft while still holding their shape.  If there is water left over, strain the lentil and vegetables and save the broth for something else or drink it right away.  While the lentils are cooking, make the dressing by combining the ingredients and whisking.  Dijon is a natural emulsifier.  Toss the cooked lentils in the dressing.  Top with a little sour cream and chives or green onion.

August 9, 2010

Darling Matt,
Here is the spicy summer salad I was telling you of.
Ingredients:
3 varieties of lettuce, perhaps heirloom
sprig or two of fresh basil
small bunch of red beets
3 gorgeous tomatoes (yellow=garden peach, red=juliet and green=green zebra)
1 serious chili pepper
more than a handful of toasted pumpkin seeds
2-3 tbsp. mustard
juice of 1 lemon

Matt has been on tour with Eastern Blok for the last week and counting, so I’ve been solo in the kitchen with our farm food. This is a rustic salad so start with great, fresh ingredients and take it where you please.  I used all ingredients from our CSA with Radical Roots Farm except for pumpkin seeds, mustard and lemon.  Start with steaming the beets, for it takes the most prep. time.  While the beets are steaming, put your desired amount of pumpkin seeds in a empty shallow pan over medium heat.  Stay put so you don’t burn them!  As soon as you hear popping, keep the pan moving, tossing the seeds until they are lightly toasted.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Chop the lettuce and fresh basil and throw it in a bowl with a bit of salt.  Slice the tomatoes and chili pepper, season them then set aside.  Warning about the chili pepper: you be the judge of the heat factor by the amount of seeds you allow in the salad. If your beets are ready, remove from steam and let cool for a bit.  Once cool enough, remove skins, slice beets to desired size, season with salt and set aside.  I made a terribly simple dressing by putting 2 maybe 3 tbsp. of mustard, (any good mustard will do) in a cup and adding the juice of about 1/2 a lemon.  The amount of lemon juice depends on your desired consistency of dressing.  Start layering your lettuce and basil with the remaining food.  Pour the dressing over top and lightly toss.  Your salad will turn a pretty pink if you use red beets, but it will be delicious no doubt!            Love- Devin

August 25th
Having been gone for about 2 ½ weeks on tour with Eastern Blok , I missed the opportunity to prepare quite a few meals.  We do our best to eat well on the road and even mentioned to have an epic bbq with friends in Buffalo, NY.  It’s a beautiful thing when we can show up to a town in this country and find a food co-op .  Anyway, I’ve been back for little while and have really been enjoying the peak of summer produce from our csa and the other farm fresh delights (including from our very our garden).   The day I got back, I was happy to see that along with our csa box from Radical , Devin picked up some little sweety peppers called chocolate peppers I have never seen before from Vera at Videnovich Farms .
This is the first thing I made upon my return to domestic life.  I made some fresh pasta and tossed it in this sort of pesto sauce..

Spicy roasted chocolate peppers/walnut/herb sauce for pasta (or anything)

8-10 small chocolate peppers
2 small hot chillies
about 1 cup raw walnuts
a handful of herbs (terragon, parsley, basil, celery leaves)
1 clove of garlic
olive oil
salt

Roast the peppers, chillies, and garlic in a 400 oven for about 10 minutes.  Remove seeds and stems. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor adding just enough olive oil to bring the sauce together.
Even though you can find lambs quarters growing in just about every yard, lot, and alley in Chicago, this wild green is best and most healthy when gotten from an organic farm. I got mine from Green Acres.    It may be a weed, but one of the healthiest and delicious greens to eat.  We should all consume more weed.
Substitute chard or spinach for this recipe if you want, but it will have a completely different flavor.

Lambs quarters/leeks souffle

4 farm fresh eggs
1 whole medium leek, sliced
3 cups chopped lambs quarters leaves (stemmed and loosely packed)
1 tblspn butter, plus more for the souffle ramekins
2 tspns flour
3/4 to 1 cup milk
pinch of fresh nutmeg
about 1/4 cup shredded cheddar and/or gruyere cheese
salt
black pepper
a little grated parmesan cheese

Wash the leeks and saute them with a pinch of salt slowly until soft for about 5 minutes.  Add the lambs quarters and cook another 5 minutes or so.  Set aside.  Meanwhile, make a bechamel sauce by melting about ½ tblspn of butter and and cooking the flour for a minute or two until it starts to brown a bit.  Add the milk, nutmeg, a pinch of black pepper and salt.  Whisk this until all the flour is incorporated and cook, stirring continuously, for about 5 minutes or until the sauce is pretty thick. Add this to the leeks/greens mixture.  In a separate mixing bowl, crack the eggs making sure not to break the yolk.  With your hand, carefully remove the yolks, letting the whites fall through your fingers back into the bowl.  Add the yolks to the bechamel/leeks/greens and stir. Also, add the cheese.  Whisk the eggs whites until peaks form.  Gently fold the whites into the rest of the ingredients.  Prepare your ramekin dishes (3-4 depending on the size) by rubbing the insides with butter and sprinkling with parmesan cheese using the excess of one to the next.  Pour the souffle into the ramekins almost to the brim.  Bake in a 350 oven until in puffs up and the top just starts to brown.  Eat these right away if you want maximum fluff.  If you don’t have ramekins, you can make in a one dish just as easily, it’s just not as fun.
Another stop on the recent Eastern Blok tour was in Ithaca, NY, another town with a great food co-op.  While they have an incredible farmer’s market on Saturdays (we went, of course), it’s hard to bring back certain summer items when you aren’t going to be home for over a week.  We stopped in at the co-op and I picked up a bag of locally grown and produced organic corn masa flour.  It made it home and into tamales.

roasted green pepper tamales

1 ½ cup corn masa flour
½ cup olive oil
1 large green bell pepper
1 teaspoon salt
black pepper
7 thin strips of Good cheddar cheese
banana leaves (frozen from Mexican or Asian market)
(Makes 7 tamales)

In a food processor, combine masa flour with olive oil and salt.  Buzz for a minute.  Meanwhile, roast the pepper on the open flame of your gas stove until it is black.  Put it in a covered bowl for 5 minutes to steam.  Remove the blackened skin under cold water.  Cut off about 1/4 of the pepper and cut into 7 long strips and set aside.  Add the other 3/4 of the pepper to the masa/oil mixture and mix until smooth.  Add a little water, if necessary, to just bring together the dough.  It should be pretty soft, but not too soft.  Let this sit for about 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, cut your banana leaves into roughly 8″x10″ rectangles.  Wash these.  To soften them, quickly roast of the open flame on each side passing them over the flame until the color changes slightly.  Don’t burn them.  On the lighter green side, place 1/4 cup of the dough near the center and spread out into a rectangle.  In the middle, place 1 strip of pepper and 1 strip of cheese.  Sprinkle with a little black pepper.  Bring up the sides of the leaf to seal the tamale and roll once.  Bring in the sides and finish rolling.  Pull off a long strip of banana leaf and tie a pretty bow around the tamale to hold it in place.   Do this with the rest of the dough.  It should make 7 tamales if you measure 1/4 cup each.  Steam these in a steamer for about 35 minutes.  This is great served with an over easy fried egg.  It’s my take on the classic Italian American pepper and egg sandwich.

pan roasted tomatillo/ hot chilli salsa

about 10 small tomatillos, cleaned and halved
1-2 small hot red chillies
2 cloves of garlic, un peeled.
1 large shallot
½-1 teaspoon salt
1-2 teaspoons lime or lemon juice

Heat a skillet on medium heat on the stove top and dry roast the tomatillos, chillies, and garlic until everything starts to brown a bit.  Add a little water to and scrape the bottom of the pan.  This add a great, roasty flavor and color.  Remove garlic husks and chili stems.  Puree this in a food processor or blender.  Meanwhile, dice the shallot and rinse under cold water in a strainer.  In a bowl, combine puree, diced shallots, salt, and lime juice.  That’s it, unless you would like to add freshly chopped cilantro or parsley.  That’s nice, too.

cabbage/carrot/summer squash/ slaw with sesame-tomato vinaigrette and toasted sesame seeds

½ small cabbage, thinly sliced
2 small carrots, grated
1 patty pan summer squash, grated
1 tblspn toasted sesame oil
1 tblspn olive oil
5 tangy cherry tomatoes
1 clove galic
salt
2-3 tblspns sesame seeds

In a bowl, combine cabbage and carrots with about ½ teaspoon salt. Massage until wet.  Add the summer squash and set aside.  Meanwhile, steam the garlic for a few minutes.  Add the tomatoes for a minute.  Pass the garlic and tomatoes through a strainer into a bowl.  The garlic should now be soft enough to pass through.  The other thing that should be left in the strainer is tomato skins and some seeds.  The tomato garlic juice should be pretty tangy.  If its not, add about a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar.  For the dressing, combine the sesame and olive oil with 1-2 tblspns tomato juice.  Whisk this until emulsified. Add to the slaw and mix well.  In a medium, stove top skillet, toast the sesame seeds until they start to pop.  Add a little sea salt.  Sprinkle the seeds over the slaw.
We got such nice Norland red potatoes from Radical this weeks along with some Real celery, nothing like you would find in the grocery store.  It’s much leafier and less watery than the conventional stuff.  This is another great dish to use canned sardines with.

Sardine mustard flax tarragon celery potato salad

1 can sardines in olive oil
1 tblspn dijon mustard
1 tspn apple cider vinegar
1 tblspn raw flax oil
2 small stalks of celery, diced
1 shallot or small onion, diced and rinsed under cold water
a handful of fresh terragon, finely chopped
1 tspn yellow mustard seed, ground
1 tspn black pepper, ground
6-8 small waxy potatoes
salt
1 tblspn whole brown flax seeds, dry toasted in a skillet for a few minutes.

Wash and boil the potatoes with the skin on until they’re soft.  Meanwhile, drain and reserve the oil from the sardine can.  Use 1 tblspn of the oil and combine it with the flax seed oil, mustard, vinegar, ground mustard seed, black pepper, and about a 1 tspn salt.  Whisk until emulsified.  Combine the celery, onion, and tarragon with the dressing.  Quarter the potatoes and toss with the other ingredients. Transfer to a plate and top with the sardine fillets.  Top with toasted flax seeds.  This is great right away or refrigerated for a few hours or days.  Get your omegas.

SEPTEMBER 1st

With some family party leftovers of the classic Italian roast beefs and mostacolli, I used some newly acquired, farm fresh delights to make a 2 dish, Thai inspired meal.  It’s always a fun challenge to turn leftovers in to something totally different. Ok, the brussels sprouts have nothing to do with the leftovers, but I needed something else “Thai-ish” to go with the beef salad.

“Thai” spicy roasted brussels sprouts

a branch or medium bundle of brussel sprouts (about 20-25)
1 ripe tomato
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, peeled
a 1″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled
3-4 serrano chillies, stems removed
2-4 small bird’s eye chillies, stems removed
1 tspn mustard seeds
salt

Cut ends of brussels sprouts and cut in half.  Toss in a little oil and salt.  Roast at 350 for about 35 minutes.  Meanwhile, Saute the onion until soft.  Add the whole tomato to the pot with the onion and cover for 2 minutes.  Remove the tomato and take of the skin.  Diced the tomato and add it back to the onion and cook another 5 minutes of so.  Meanwhile, make a paste in a mortar and pestle: add the ginger, garlic, chillies, mustard seeds and some salt.  Crush this into a paste.  Add a little fish sauce or vinegar to bring it together.  Add the paste to the onion/tomato mixture and add to the brussels sprouts after they have been roasting for atleast 30 minutes. Roast for another 10 minutes or so.  Adjust the seasoning with more salt if necessary.

“Thai” beef salad

1 cucumber, cut into long, thin slices
1 small onion, sliced and rinsed under cold water
a handful fresh arugala
a handful of fresh basil
1 tbspn lime juice
1 tbspn fish sauce (a good one)
about 1 cup of thinly sliced, roast beef, cut into thin strips
about ½ cup leftover, cooked penne (mostacolli) pasta, cut into long strips

Roughly chop the herbs and mix everything together. Add more lime and/or fish sauce if necessary.

SEPTEMBER 9th

I was really excited to see the first winter squash of the season at the market this weekend.  Along with the cooler weather and the heavy fall emotions, I thought it time to make a comforting, 1 pot chili dish.  Embrace the seasons.  I served this with polenta fingers, which is one of my favorite, go to sides.  (Recipe to follow).

green chili with smoked oysters and red kuri squash

3 tblspns dried green split peas
1 large leek, sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
6 serrano chilies, sliced
1 hot anaheim chili, chopped
8 small chocolate sweet peppers, chopped
handful celery tops, chopped
handful mizuna greens, chopped
1 small potato, diced
½ small kuri squash, cubed
1 tspn fennel seed, ground
1 tspn black pepper, ground
pinch dried oregano
3 small tomatillos, sliced
3 small tomatoes (green zebra or other green, orange, or yellow varieties)
1 can smoked oysters in olive oil
fresh herbs
splash of lemon and/or apple cider vinegar
Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and cook peas until just soft (about 20 minutes). Meanwhile,
saute leeks, chilies, and garlic with some salt until soft.  Add celery, greens, spices, and tomatillos, and potato.  Cover and cook for a few minutes. Meanwhile, add the whole tomatoes to the pot for 1 minute.  This loosens the skin of the tomatoes.  Remove the skin, chop the tomatoes, and add them to the pot along with the squash.  Drain and rinse the cooked peas and add them to the pot.  Roughly chop the smoked oysters and add those.  Keep this covered most of the time and cook until the potato and squash are soft.  There should be enough water from the juicy fruits.  Add more if necessary.   Adjust salt and add a splash of lemon and apple cider vinegar with some fresh herbs. Drizzle with olive oil and more black pepper.

polenta fingers

1 cup corn meal
3 cups + water
tspn salt
optional herbs, spices, etc.

Heat a medium sized pot on high.  Add corn and water.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and add salt.  Stir this non stop making sure to scrape the bottom until the polenta is very thick.  Add more water if necessary.   Taste the polenta to make sure the corn is thoroughly cooked and it’s not just that all the water is gone.  (At this point, you can add Anything like oils, herbs, spices, cheese, etc. – just nothing that’s going to affect the water content, like a tomato).  I kept it plain this time.  Pour the hot polenta into a shallow cake pan or something with square/rectangle edges. Smooth the polenta out with a spoon dipping the spoon in water to help.  This polenta should be about 1-2 inches tall in the pan.  Let this cool and refrigerate for a few hours.   Heat an oven to 375.  Turn the polenta over onto a cutting board.  It should slip right out of the pan.  Slice it into rectangle “fingers” and place onto an oiled baking sheet or griddle.  Put this in the hot over and roast for about 30-40 minutes or until they turn over easily.  This means a crust has formed on the bottom. Flip and roast another 10-15 minutes or so.  Sprinkle with salt and serve.

OCTOBER 28th

Alright, it’s been way too long since I’ve made an entry.  It’s not that I haven’t been cooking and thinking about food all the time.  In fact, I have been getting really into exploring techniques of East Indian cooking with it’s vastly diverse styles from region to region and household by household.  I have regretfully not been documenting my progress in this, but since getting pretty comfortable with these techniques involving starting dishes by frying spices and layering them according to their size and flavor and adding aromatic pastes of ginger, garlic, and chillies, followed by most vegetables such as tomatoes and squash,  I’m sure I whatever I get into in the future will be drastically influenced by these ways.

That being said, last week was our last csa box of the season.  This is very sad to me and is one of those bitter sweet things about living in such a seasonal climate.  The food we are getting this time of year is so special and will store for months.  Alex and Allison at Radical Root were so generous to include 2 lbs of heirloom black turtle beans from their friend at Breslin farms, out in Ottawa, IL.  I immediately began soaking some of the beans for unknown dishes for the next few days.  Here’s what I came up with:

brothy black beans

2 cups dried black beans, rinsed and soaked overnight
6 cups cold water
½ habenero chili (optional)
3 bay leafs
1-2 tspns apple cider vinegar
2 tspns salt

Drain the beans of their cold soaking water and rinse again.  Add 6 cups of water to the beans and bring to a slow simmer.  Add the habenero and bay leafs.  I like the habenero because it adds so much flavor.  By the time the beans are cooked, most of the heat is mellowed out.  Don’t add any salt yet.  Cook these beans partially covered for a couple hours until soft.  Add more water to keep it brothy.  I like to do this because the broth is so good and can be used for so many things.  When the beans are tender, add the salt and vinegar.  This will flavor the dish as well as help the beans keep their shape as they continue to cook.  Keep it simmering for another 15 minutes or so to cook the vinegar.  Black beans are the best when you let them cool to room temperature before heating them up again.  Double or triple this recipe!  I like to do them very simply so that I can flavor them in different ways through the course of their time, pre-eaten.

Here are a couple dishes I came up with using the brothy beans along with some of this weeks csa delights.  They are pretty similar:

rooted beans and greens

1 large turnip, peeled and 1/4″ sliced
1 medium rutabaga, peeled 1/4″ sliced
½ bunch beet greens, chopped
½ bunch pok choy, stems thinly sliced and green chopped
olive oil
1 1/4 cups black beans in broth
2 tspns cider vinegar
2 tspns raw honey
2 tspns olive oil
2 tspns nama shoyu (or good soy sauce)
2 tspns dijon mustard
½ tspn black pepper
parsley for garnish

In a skillet, pan fry the turnip and rutabaga slices in olive oil making sure they are spread out. Don’t touch them. When the bottoms are golden brown, flip and top with the greens.  Add a pinch or 2 or salt followed by the brothy beans.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat.  Meanwhile, whisk together the vinegar, honey, olive oil, nama shoyu, mustard, and black pepper.
Turn off heat and stir in the vinaigrette.  Serve at once top with chopped fresh parsley.

Roasted brussels sprouts, turnips, and rutabagas with pecans
w/ cheesy black beans and arugula

1 bunch small brussels (about 2 cups worth, I guess), ends trimmed off
1 small turnip, peeled and diced
1 small rutabaga, peeled and diced
olive oil
salt
1/8-1/4 cups chopped raw pecans
2 small fennel sprigs
2 tspns cider vinegar
2 tspns olive oil
1-2 tspns honey
pinch of salt

1 cup brothy black beans
1 really small red onion or shallot
about 1 cup chopped arugala
1 tspn dried herbs de provance
1 tspn black pepper
1 tspn salt
some good cheddar cheese (maybe 2 tblspns)
2-3 tblspns chopped fresh parsley

Toss the sprouts and roots in a little olive oil and salt.  Roast in a 400 oven cover with foil for about 20 minutes until the veggies are soft, but not overcooked.  Meanwhile, saute the onion for a couple minutes.  Add the pepper, dried herbs, and salt followed immediately by the arugula and beans with broth.  Cover and simmer on low until the sprouts and roots are soft.  When this happens remove foil and stir in the pecans and roast for another 5 minutes.  Toss the sprouts and roots in the olive oil, vinegar, and honey.  Adjust the salt.
Grate some cheddar cheese into the beans and stir.  Serve these 2 dishes side by side in a shallow, wide bowl and top with parsley.

OCTOBER 30th

Last Thursday night was the 2nd of two recent, successful, themed potlucks we were happy to attend and contribute to.  The first was squash/pumpkin themed.  This one was apples.  The biggest challenge with apples, knowing every dish would include them, is to come up with something savory.  Apple season means squash and sweet potato season, so it only made sense to combine the magic.  The market provided wonderful varieties of all three this week, though I can’t remember the names of any except Italian butternut squash.  The sweet potatoes were small and slightly orange skinned…

apple/sweet potato/squash coconut curry (My Thai style)
w/ dehydrated apple polenta biscuits
(the apples need to dehydrate overnight)

4-5 small sweet potatoes, lil’ pieces
4 small green apples, lil’ pieces
½ small butternut squash, lil’ pieces
1 medium red onion, sliced
1 can coconut milk
1 tblspn nama shoyu or good soy sauce
1 tblspn apple cider vinegar

curry paste:
1″ piece of ginger

2 cloves garlic

1 stick of lemongrass, minced                                                                                            ½ tspn coriander seed

½ tspn black pepper (I used long black pepper)
5 long red hot chillies, seeds and stems removed
3 cloves
1/4 tspn cumin seeds
1/8 tspn fennel seeds
2 tblspns chopped pecans
pinch of salt

Make the curry paste by crushing them all in a mortar and pestle into a paste.  Use a few drops of water towards the end if necessary.  Keep a medium to large pot.  Add a bit of coconut oil or other oil and cook the paste for a few minutes.  Add the onion, then the coconut milk.  Bring to a boil and add the sweet potatoes and squash.  Add the nama shoyu, vinegar, and enough water to just cover everything.  Simmer this for a while, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender.  Add the apple and cook another 5 minutes or so.  Take out about 1 cup of the stew making sure to get some apples, potatoes, and squash with a little of the liquid and puree in a food processor or blender.  Add this back to the pot.  Adjust the salt.  It should be pretty spicy and, of course, a little sweet.  Let it sit around for while.

The dehydrated apple polenta biscuits:
2 large apples
about 2 cups fine-medium ground corn meal
water
a splash of olive oil
½ tspn salt

Slice the apples and put them in the food dehydrator over night at around 120 degrees. If you don’t have one, you can put them into a 200 degree over until they are dried out.  Dice the apples.
Heat the oven to 350 with a hot criddle or skillet inside.
Make the polenta by starting with 2 cups water and the corn on medium heat in a pot.  Stir constantly adding more water when needed.  It’s done when the the corn is cooked is pretty thick.  Stir in the salt, oil, and apples.  While the mixture is hot, spoon little cakes onto the preheated griddle in the oven.  Flip them when they come off easily. Otherwise, don’t touch them.  This takes about 20-30 minutes.  Cook on the other side for another 10 minutes or son.  Serve these with the curry. .

NOVERMBER 23rd

Now that the markets are indoors and the farmers are running out of food, we’ve been stocking up on root vegetables and squashes that will last a while and help us continue to eat food from around here through the fall and into winter.  What to do with a rutabaga?  The good people at Heritage Prairie farms gave Devin and I a nice engagement discount on 4 substantially sized rutabagas at Green City on Saturday.  While their supposed to be for Thanksgiving, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to use the smallest one for breakfast this morning.  We do enjoy our breakfasts together and I feel it’s very important to take the time to make something really good..everyday.

Rutabaga/Apple cakes

1 egg

1 medium rutabaga, peeled, cubed and steamed until tender

2/3 cup flour

1/4 tspn baking powder

1 tblspn maple syrup

1 apple, peeled and diced

1/4-1/2 cup peanuts (or peanut butter)

1/2 tsp salt

1 small red onion, diced

1 red ripe serrano chili, fine dice (removing the seeds is optional)

Saute the onion in a little oil until caramelized.  Meanwhile, crush the peanuts in a mortal and pestle or spice grinder.  Add a bit of water to bring to a chunky paste (or just use a good peanut butter).  Puree the apple and steamed rutabaga in a food processor.  Add a bit of water if necessary from the steamer.  In 1 bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.  In a 2nd bowl, mix the egg, rutabaga/apple puree, maple syrup, peanut butter, caramelized onion, and raw chili.  Fold in the dry ingredients and add just enough water to make it into a think batter for cakes.  The consistency should be more like loose mashed potatoes rather than a thin pancake batter.
Get a griddle hot in a 400 oven.  Grease it a bit a spoon little pools of batter. Flip them once when they for a golden crust (about 3-5 minutes) and cook another 3-5 minutes.   They are done and don’t really need a topping.  But possibilities are micro greens, sprouts, applesauce, honey, maple syrup, salt and pepper, cheese, nuts…..sweet and savory.

DECEMBER 12th

There’s snow to stay and the markets are shrinking. While there is still some lovely fall produce to be had, it’s time to start looking toward some pantry items to fill out the meals for the winter to come. I made a trip to the Joong Boo Market (the wholesale Korean Market, up the street in Avondale) to stock up on a few items I was thinking about. So, I haven’t been great about updating this blog for the last month or two, I decided to document today’s and yesterday’s breakfasts that I made using some farm fresh, fall products combined with some Joong Boo, Asian delights. The first, a traditional miso soup with a twist uses the last of a large pumpkin that’s been sitting on our outside stoop for about a month or two. It was frozen when I cut into it for the first time. It’s proved to be delicious. When cooked, it is a bit watery, which is why I have been using it in soups. It sort of has it’s own broth to combine with other flavors…

Pumpkin miso soup with curdled egg

4 cups water
about 2 cups roughly chopped pumpkin
1 bay leaf
1 small onion
1 cup dried bonito flakes (fish flakes)
1 5 x5 piece of kombu (kelp seaweed)
1/3 cup miso (the kind that needs to be refrigerated because it’s alive)
2 fresh eggs
about 2 tblspns dried wakame seaweed, cut into very small pieces

First, soak the wakame seaweed in hot water. Then, make the dashi broth with the kombu and bonito flakes: Combine the water and kelp in a pot. Bring almost to a boil and turn off heat. Let sit for 5 minutes.  Remove kelp (save for another batch). Bring water to a boil and turn off while adding the bonito flakes. Do Not stir. When the fish sinks to the bottom, it’s ready. This takes about 30-45 minutes. Strain the stock and discard the bonito flakes. Meanwhile, saute the onion with the bay leaf and some salt. After a couple minutes, add the pumpkin and continue to cook with a lid, stirring here and there. When the pumpkin mixture is cooked, add the dashi broth and puree until smooth. Bring to a simmer and crack the eggs into the liquid. Whisk this thoroughly for a minute and turn off heat and let sit for another couple minutes. This creates a luxurious curdled egg texture (as opposed to an “egg drop” type of soup. Now, whisk in the miso. Drain the wakame and add that. Serve with toast. Eat it.

Buckwheat (soba) noodle pancake with turnips and turnip greens

1 bunch of soba noodles (usually comes in bunches tied with ribbon)
1 bunch turnips with greens, chopped
1 small onion, diced
1 small carrot, diced
2 fresh eggs
salt
pepper
oil

Saute the onion and carrot with a little salt. After a couple minutes, add the turnips and greens.
Add some more salt and pepper. Meanwhile, boil the soba noodles for about 6 minutes and drain. Mix together the noodles, veggie mixture, and egg. Heat a skillet with some oil. Don’t let it smoke. It’s bad for you. Spread the mixture into the hot, oiled skillet and fry until it is easily flip able with a crust. Cook on the other side for a minute. Sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper and feel free to serve with some good sour cream. Only good.

DECEMBER 20th

My parents historically take me out to dinner on my birthday.  This year, on the 18th, I had them over for an Italian meal.  They’ve done so much for me.
When I was little, around 8 years old or so, my favorite food was lasagna.  So, I set off to make my very first lasagna.  As much as I’d wanted to make the pasta from scratch, I didn’t.  I really dislike the excuse of “not having enough time.”  I did have the time And the ingredients.  But when at the Dill Pickle picking up some squash for the lasagna, I discovered a new, local fresh pasta maker, Specialty Pasta, that makes fresh pasta every week and delivers it to the co-op.  It doesn’t seem like a lot of pasta for $8 a pack, but it ended up being not only the perfect amount, but quite delicious and very well made and well worth it.
I also picked up some dried cannellini beans and a bunch of kale for a beans and greens stew.  I followed an Emilio-Romana recipe (with my own variations, of course) from a beautiful cookbook, The Splendid Table, so I won’t write about that.  Trust that it was tasty.
I was at Stanley’s Fruits and Vegetables  a few days ago and ended up rescuing 5 or 6 bundles of organic bok choy from California.  It was pretty large and very white with green tops that had been cut off due to their inevitable wilting.  Last minute, thinking there might not be enough food for everyone, I through together a bok choy dish, Italian style.

Red kuri squash lasagna

1package (about 1lb) of fresh lasagna pasta (from Specialty Pasta) or make your own, or use dried pasta)
1 medium sized kuri squash or butternut squash
about 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
3-4 small red onions
2 tablespoons white wine
2 tablespoons terragon vinegar (or cider vinegar)
2 egg yolks
1 cup parmesan reggiano cheese, grated
½ cup hulled (green) pumpkin seeds

bechemel:
2 cups milk
2 tblspns butter
whole nutmeg
salt
pepper
1 ½ tblspns flour

Wrap the ricotta cheese in a cheese cloth and set in a strainer with a heavy weight on top.  This draws out a lot of unwanted moisture.  Wash and quarter the squash.  Roast at 375 along with the whole onions for about 45 minutes until soft and a bit caramelized.  Remove seeds and skin. Peel the roasted onions.  Take half the cooked squash and puree it with the onions. Loosely break up the other half and toss with the drained ricotta and a little salt and pepper.  Set aside.   Bring a large pot a water to a boil.  Meanwhile, in a double boiler (bring a small pot of water to a low boil and place a metal mixing bowl on top) combine egg yolks, white wine, vinegar and 1/4 cup of the parmesan.  Whisk continuously for a few minutes until the mixture is thick and show ribbons. Add the pureed squash and whisk for another minute.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350.
Make the bechemel by melting the butter in a small sauce pan.  Add the flour and whisk for a couple minutes.  Slowly add the milk and whisk until the sauce is thick (about 5-10 minutes).  Grate in a little fresh nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.

Cook the pasta:
Get a large bowl of ice water ready.  Cut the lasagna to the size of your pan.  I used an 8×10″ glass baking dish.  Add salt to the water and boil the pasta a few sheet s at a time and put in the ice water when cooked to stop the cooking process.  Fresh pasta only takes about 2 minutes. Drain on a towel.
Assemble the lasagna:
Olive oil the pan and spoon in a thin layer of bechemel.  Add a layer of pasta then a layer of squash puree mixture.  Then bechemel, then a sprinling of parmasan, then pasta, then squash/ricotta mixture, then bechemel, then parmesan, etc. When the lasagna is filled to the brim, top with one this layer of squash puree, then the remaining parmesan.  Loosely cover with foil and bake for about 40 minutes.  Meanwhile, toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry skillet over medium until the seeds pop and turn golden.  Don’t burn them.
Let the lasagna sit for about 10 minutes.  Just before serving, top with the toasted pumpkin seeds.

bok choy with garlic, white wine, and lemon

1 large bunch bok choy, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tblspns white wine
2 tblspns fresh lemon juice
salt
pepper
olive oil

Slice the bok choy and saute in a little olive oil for a few minutes.  Add salt, wine, and garlic.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes.  When cooked, add the lemon juice, some more oil, lots of freshly cracked black pepper, and more salt if needed.  Yeah.

DECEMBER 29th

Making food everyday is always rewarding and special.  When it comes to “special occasions,”
it’s sometimes difficult to know what to make to top the everyday meal.  The only way I see fit is
to make something that requires time and tedium; something you might not normally make or eat.
I naturally thought of tamales for a Christmas dish to pass this year.  I don’t normally cook
shrimp and the task is surely a labor of love…

shrimp tamales

1 3/4 cup dried masa harina
1 3/4 cups water
10 tblspns palm oil (vegetable shortening)
2 (1 ½ separate from 1/2) tspn salt
1 tspn baking powder
1 pound shrimps with the shell
2 bay leaves
a small piece of celery
½ small onion
1 whole clove garlic
2 tblspns achiote (annatto) seeds
3 tblspns oil
1 tblspn black pepper
some good cheese, cut into little strips
dried corn husks for tamales
a little lime juice

Make the shrimp stock:
Remove the shrimp shells and set aside.  Heat the oil on low.  Add the achiote seeds and cook for about 5 minutes while stirring.  Add the garlic and cook another few minutes.  Don’t let the seeds turn brown (burn).  Strain the oil back into the pot and discard the seeds and garlic.  Add the shrimp shells to the pot with ½ tspn salt, bay leaves, celery, onion, black pepper, and the 1 3/4 cups water.  Cook on medium heat, uncovered, until it has reduced about 1/4 cup to 1 ½ cups broth.  I did this the night before.
Made the masa dough:
Combine the masa, 1 ½ tspns salt, and baking powder.  Mix well, the add the broth and mix for 5 minutes in a mixer.  Let this rest for about 30 minutes.  Then, add the palm oil and mix another 5 minutes.
Prepare the shrimp:
While the masa is resting, place the peeled shrimp in a baking dish and sprinkle with a little salt and lime juice and cook in and over for about ten minutes. (This can also be done the night before).
Make the tamales:
Ahead of time, wash and soak the dried corn husks for about 30 minutes in hot water. Shake dry.
Take a few longer husks and tear long strips for tying.  Hold a husk in one hand with the tapered end facing you.  Place 1 or 2 shrimps in the center of the husk.  Place 3-4 tblspns of the dough on the shrimp and spread out just to cover the shrimp.  Role of the tamale bringing in the sides first and tying the ends with the strips of husk.  Do this to all of them and place vertically in a steamer pot and steam for about 40 minutes.  Buen provecho

Among other wonderful gifts we received this year, we got a beautiful cookbook called, The Country Cooking of Ireland.”  I haven’t had a chance to dig into it yet, but skimming some recipes and looking at the pictures inspired me to make an attempt at some Irish classics.  I love Irish cuisine because it’s all about what grows around on the country side and in the gardens.  This is what we had a couple nights ago.  These are some somewhat lighter versions of what might be a bit more traditional.

colcannon

about 6 medium floury potatoes
1 2  slice of winter squash (butternut)
a piece of onion
sturdy leaves of ½ a cabbage (finely diced)
½ bunch lacinato kale, leaves and stems seperated, stems dices, leaves chopped
2 tblspns butter
4 leaves romaine, chopped
½ cup chopped parsley
4 green onions, diced, green parts only
½ cup shredded Irish style cheddar cheese
salt and pepper

Put the potatoes and squash (with skins) with the onion and cover half way with water and boil.
Bring to a boil and pour off half of that water.  Cover again and cook for about 20-30 minutes (depending on the potato) or until potatoes and completely cooked.  Pour out the remaining water, cover again and let sit for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the butter on med-high and saute the cabbage leaves and kale stems with a little salt for about 5 minutes with the lid on.  Lower the heat a bit, add the kale, and cook another few minutes until the kale is wilted.  Stir in the green onions, parsley, and romaine. Cover and turn off the heat.
Remove the skin from the potatoes and squash and combine with the green mixture, cheese, and plenty of pepper.  Mash this so it’s pretty lumpy. Don’t puree it!  Season with salt to taste.  Serve it like mashed potatoes and gravy but use a little pad of room temperature butter instead.

quick “baked” beans

1 can pinto beans with liquid
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
½ tsp salt
2 tspns mustard powder
2 tspns molasses
2 tspns mustard
2 tspns vinegar (I think I used onion/garlic infused vinegar from the “vinegar guy”)
1-2 tspns Worcestershire sauce
2 tblspns oil or butter

In a pot, saute the onion and carrot for a few minutes over medium heat.  Then, add the mustard powder, salt, vinegar, molassas, mustard, vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook for one minute.  Then, add the beans with the liquid, lower the heat, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

After making the colcannon, I had some left over scraps from some left over vegetables and greens.  Normally, one might throw these parts away.  Along with some stale bread and some kitchen staples, I put together this quick stew.

fast scrap stew

sturdy leaves of ½ a cabbage, chopped
4 kale stems, finely chopped
3 large wilting romaine leaves
3 green onions, diced, white-light green parts only
about 4-5 whole sprigs parsley including stems, finely chopped
1 tblspn oil
1 tblspn vinegar
1 tspn honey
the ends of a really stale baguette, chopped (about 1 cup)
water
½ tspn of some kind of dried spice/herb blend (whatever)
1 egg

Saute the cabbage leaves and kales stems with the herb/spice blend for 5 minutes.  Add the green onion, parsley (reserve some parsley leaves for garnish), and romaine and cook another minute.  Now, add the vinegar, honey, and bread.  Add water to just cover everything. Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes until the bread is very soft.  Mix well to incorporate the bread into the liquid to create a thick broth.  Crack an egg into the stew and stir vigorously with fork for about 30 seconds.  Turn off heat, cover, and let sit another 2 minutes.  It should be a fairly thick soup/stew.  Garnish with parsley, salt, and pepper.

JANUARY 27th   

 

So, we just got a new camera.  It’s time to start adding pictures to this food blog, for those of you who are obviously paying attention.  I don’t have a lot to say about this dinner tonight except that I thought it was tasty and I am pretty excited about it for my own simple reasons.  It’s mostly “pantry/fridge” items combined with fall produce that’s still hanging around.  We spent about 1 hour slowly feasting.

 

 

Nutmeg/garlic/Ceylon cinnamon basmati rice

1 ½ cups basmati rice

¼ onion, diced

5 cloves garlic, diced

½ nutmeg nug, grated

1 tblspn Ceylon cinnamon, freshly ground

1 tspn butter

1 tblpsn white wine

about 2 tblspns fresh parsley, chopped

yeah, salt

Rinse the rice and boil in a large pot of water for about 5 minutes.  Strain in a fine colander and continue to steam over about 1 inch of water in the colander (about 5-10 minutes, or until the rice is tender).  Meanwhile, sauté the onion in butter until soft.  Add the garlic and toast for a couple minutes.  Add the nutmeg, cinnamon, and some salt.  When the pan looks and smells like it’s getting close to burning, hit it with a splash of white wine (your drinking, right?) and stir to pick up the brown bits in the pan.  Toss the cooked rice in this mixture.  Adjust salt and keep warm.

Spinach with cashel blue cheese and lemon topped with a baked egg

1 bunch spinach (grocery style bunch, not just 1 plant), coarsely chopped

juice of ½ lemon

2-3 tblspns cashel blue cheese, room temperature

dash of olive oil

salt

2 eggs

Butter 2 ramekins and crack 1 egg into each. Bake at 250 until just cooked.  Remove from the oven and let rest.  Meanwhile, wash and drain the spinach.  Add some salt and massage until wilted.  Add the lemon juice and massage another minute.  Add a little oil and the cheese and work it into the spinach.  That’s it.  Arrange the spinach on the plate and top with the baked egg.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roasted red kuri squash with ginger, turmeric, and lemon

½ medium red kuri squash

juice of ½ lemon

zest of 1 whole lemon

1-1  ½ inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled with a spoon and grated

1 tspn ground turmeric

½-1 tblspn butter

salt

Cut the ½ squash into 4 pieces and roast in a 400 oven until soft (about 30 minutes).  Meanwhile combine lemon zest, lemon juice, ginger, turmeric, butter, and salt in a saucepan and bring it to a low heat.  Add a splash of water to stir into a paste.  When squash is roasty, mash it into the pan.

FEBRUARY 1st

Spinach Taglietelle with Tahin/raspberry vinegar sauce & almonds, Black Bean/Rutabaga/Corn cakes, Pan Fried Canned Sardines w/ Masa/Chili crust, pan sauce

I’m very excited to have a pasta maker!  While I’m not a total stranger to fresh pasta, having the machine, which helps roll it out and make shapes, is completely helpful.  I recently came upon a large batch of spinach that need rescuing from Stanley’s Fruits and Vegetables, so I made a tagliatelle with that and served it with some fish and cakes.  In most cases, when we think there is “nothing to eat” in the kitchen, we are wrong.  I like to think there’s always a hidden feast waiting to be put together.

Spinach Tagliatelle with a tahini/raspberry vinegar sauce and almonds

1         cups flour, plus more

2         eggs

1 small bunch spinach

3 tblspns tahini

2 tblspns raspberry infused vinegar

splash of white wine

1/8 cup chopped almonds

¼ medium onion, diced

3 cloves garlic

¼ nug of nutmeg, finely grated

dash of Ceylon cinnamon

salt and pepper

In a food processor, combine the flour, eggs, and spinach.  1st, pulse, then process for a few minutes or until the dough forms into a ball, picking up everything from the sides of the bowl.  On a floured surface, kneed the ball of dough by hand for a few minutes.  Dust with a little flour and wrap in plastic.  Let sit for at least 20 minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and add plenty of salt.

In a large skillet, sauté the onion until very soft.  Add 2 cloves of the garlic and cook another 2 minutes.  Add a splash of white wine, then the tahini, ½ the vinegar, and some salt.  Stir and cook for a minute and turn off heat for now.

Back to the pasta: separate the dough into quarters and flat each piece by hand.  With a pasta machine, pass the dough through the machine until very thin, dusting with plenty of flour.  Run this sheets through the tagliatelle (linguini) function. (If you don’t have a pasta machine, roll out the dough, dust with flour, roll like a jelly roll, and cut thin strips.)

Place little birds nest pile on a board and set aside to dry a bit until you’re ready to drop.

Slowly bring the sauce back to a low heat.  When the pasta is boiling, add the fresh pasta and cook for one minute or until the pasta floats.  It should be al dente.  Add the other ½ of vinegar, the nutmeg, cinnamon, and the rest of the garlic to the sauce along with 1 cup of the pasta water.  Add the pasta to the pan with the sauce.  Continue to cook the pasta in the sauce.  Add more pasta water if necessary.  Add more salt if necessary.  Be careful to not break up the pasta.  Stir in the almonds at the end to serve.

Black bean/rutabaga/corn cakes

1 can black beans, strained (or homemade black beans)

1 small/medium rutabaga, peeled and roughly chopped

about 1 cup of corn kernels (I used frozen here)

1 tspn mustard seeds

1 tspn cumin seeds

1 tspn dried herbs

oil

½ cup water or milk

about 2 tblspns dried corn masa flour

1 tspn chili powder

¼ medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, diced

zest of 1 lemon

Heat a cast iron griddle (or skillet) in a 400 oven.

The rutabaga:  Boil it until soft (about 10 minutes)

The corn:  heat up a little oil in a small saucepan and add the mustard and cumin seeds.  When the mustard seeds begin to pop, and the dried herbs, the corn, and some salt.  Add the water or milk and cook until most of the liquid is gone.

In a pan, heat a little oil and sauté the onion and garlic until very soft and almost caramelized.  Add beans along with the chili powder and lemon zest.  Mash the cooked corn, rutabaga, and beans in a large bowl.  Taste for salt content.  Add just enough corn masa flour to bring the mixture together in a very lose dough.

Make cakes with 1/3cup of mixture per cake.  Place directly on the hot griddle in the oven and cook until it releases easily with a spatula.  This means a crust has formed.  Cook on the other side until there is another crust.  Sprinkle with salt.

Pan fried canned sardine fillets with a corn masa crust and fish can/lemon sauce, crispy Serrano chilies

1 can sardine fillets in sauce (I used sardines in “sweet and tange Spanish style sauce)

juice of ½ a lemon

2 tblspns corn masa flour

1 tblspn dried, ground rosemary

1 tspn black pepper, ground

2 serrano chilies, sliced thinly

1-2 tblspns fresh parsley, finely chopped

Drain the fish and reserve all the liquid.  Combine the masa flour, rosemary, black pepper, and a pinch of salt.  1st, dust the chili slices with the flour mixture.  Heat a skillet on medium/high heat.  Add a little oil and quickly pan fry the chili slices.  Remove them and set aside on a paper towel and sprinkle with salt.  Now, carefully dredge the fish fillets in the flour and pan fry until golden brown on each side.  Remove to a paper towel and sprinkle with a little salt.  Add the lemon juice to the fish can sauce and whisk with the parsley a bit more salt if necessary.  Add half of this sauce to the hot frying pan for 5 seconds, quickly scraping an bits sticking to the pan.  Add everything back to the other half of the sauce.

Serve the fish atop the bean/rutabaga/corn cakes and spoon over a little sauce on each.   Also, eat the pasta.