Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Healthy Crepes!

Georgie sent me a healthy crepe recipe to help re-create my creperie experience.  The recipe used egg whites, cottage cheese, oats, and vanilla to make a healthier version of the delicious crepe.  I liked that you just drop everything in the blender and out comes a batter!

Here is my first crepe.  Oops.

That's more like it!

Despite the somewhat unusual ingredients, the crepes were tasty.  I like dessert crepes, not savory ones, so next time I'll try adding a little natural sweetener to the batter - maybe some honey or agave nectar.

I filled my crepes with blueberries and topped them with powdered sugar.  With such a plain filling, I wished the crepes were sweeter, but they would have been perfect with Nutella and bananas!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Spaghetti with Shrimp, Zucchini and Corn

While we had no corn or zucchini from our CSA this week, I had some anyway in my magic refrigerator (magic because I go away for the weekend and food miraculously appears while I'm gone) and something (anything!) needed to be used.  Ken and I discussed and somehow this dinner evolved from that.  At first I thought it was boring - not worth writing about at all, but later I decided it could be improved upon.  (This explains the lack of pictures - I didn't even think about posting about this!)

So we started out with a piece of a ginormous zucchini and three ears of corn.  The original idea was a piece of fish on a bed of corn and zucchini sauteed in olive oil.  Then I decided I wanted some pasta, and then I decided that shrimp would go better with pasta than tilapia or salmon.  At some point garlic was discussed (and much was used) and in the end it came out nice.  One of the crucial elements was vegetables that were cooked but still crunchy.  Very necessary.  Next time, I'd like to try a shape pasta (that was my original idea, but the chef seems to think "pasta" means "spaghetti only.")  I also think some fresh herbs would be a very pleasant addition.  One final note - we cooked the corn before adding it in, but made sure not to cook it too much - it was still pretty crunchy.

Monday, July 26, 2010


For NYC Restaurant Week, I went to lunch at Fig & Olive with my sister and my best friend, then later we met Ken for dinner at Centrico.  (In between we went to Chelsea Market.  I was hoping to see some Food Network people since they work upstairs and shop down there, but sadly we didn't see anyone.)

If you watch Food Network, you may have heard of Aaron Sanchez.  Centrico is his restaurant.  I believe it is categorized as Mexican.  I'm not a restaurant reviewer, so I'm just going to share some pictures, along with the description from the menu, and my brief opinion.  (I know nothing about Spanish so excuse any capitalization/spelling/etc errors.)

Camarones y Pozole - sauteed shrimp, creamy guajillo chile sauce, pozole  (Ken)

Tamal de Huitlacoche - masa flavored with corn truffles, saffrom-aji amarillo sauce  (Deanna)

Ceviche del Dia - shrimp ceviche  (Me and Andrea)
The plantain chips were delicious!  There were some other kinds mixed in there, but I'm not sure what they were.

Pollo a las Brasas - grilled recado chicken, roasted garlic, lime and chipotle  (Me and Deanna)

Birria en Estilo Jalisco - braised short ribs jalisco style, ancho chile broth  (Ken)
This also came with a little salsa-like thing (it looked like cucumber) and small white tortillas (they're in the little basket at the top of the photo) to make little tacos.

Pescado Veracruzana - pan roasted market fish (she chose tuna), tomato, olives, serrano chiles   (Andrea)
Unfortunately, I do not have a picture of this one.

Molten Mexican Chocolate Cake  (me and Deanna)
There was nothing overtly Mexican about it, but it was chocolatey!

Flan de Coco  (Andrea and Ken)
Andrea is unfortunately allergic to mango.  There was not a mention of mango on the entire menu, but it arrived on top of the flan.  She obviously sent it back, but the guy did not seem to understand that she is allergic, not just didn't want the mango.  She got a plain one though, so it all worked out!

Overall, the food was delicious, the service... not so much.  We were there around 5:30 which is before the dinner rush, and as soon as 1/3 of the tables in the restaurant were full, they completely forgot about us and we had to wait (I'm estimating) 20 minutes for our dessert.  (Later when we missed our train by literally seconds we were extra pissed about this.)  But as I said, the food was good.  For me personally, it wasn't a favorite, because I like vegetables and there were pretty much none in sight, but what was in front of me was yummy.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pasta with Baked Tomato Sauce

I check a lot of blogs (all those listed down the side over there) because I like to read about food and look at pictures of it.  Most of the time the recipes don't appeal to me enough to actually try them, and if they do, I usually don't get around to making them.  This Pasta with Baked Tomato Sauce was an exception - it looked delicious, it sounded delicious, and guess what?  It was delicious. 

I had some cherry tomatoes on the counter that were starting to get just the tiniest bit wrinkly.  So I took advantage and made this dish for a weeknight dinner.  It was actually really easy, even easier than it looks, but it did take about 30 minutes to roast the tomatoes to my liking instead of the 20 that the recipe said.

I set the table (a rare phenomenon) and I had some beautiful flowers from our CSA.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Magnolia Bakery: Hummingbird Cupcake

Here's a little inspiration that I wanted to save for a future occasion.  I went to New York City for Restaurant Week, and before checking out a few galleries we stopped at Magnolia Bakery for a breakfast cupcake.  ("Breakfast" and "cupcake" are allowed to be used in the same phrase on rare and special occasions!)

There were a lot of classic choices - vanilla with chocolate frosting, chocolate with buttercream frosting, etc etc etc.  Those don't excite me too much.  If I have a cupcake, I want it to be a special one.  I chose the Hummingbird Cupcake based on the description: banana and pineapple with a cream cheese frosting and pecans on top and crushed up inside.  YUM!  It was absolutely delicious.  I thought this would be great to recreate at home next time I need to make a sweet treat like this - and I can make it healthier too.  It's also a neat flavor combination for a potential future muffin.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Chopped Miso Salad

I wanted to try more recipes with miso and came across this Chopped Miso Salad.  I happened to have a green cabbage on hand and almost all the other ingredients, so I brought everything down to the beach and made it for my family.

This recipe was definitely a hit - it's variable and easy to make.  I used sunflower seeds instead of almonds, added carrots, and made the dressing in a blender instead of just whisking it together.  Everyone loved it, and we have already made it again.  (It's very aesthetically pleasing with a mix of red and green cabbage also.)  It's probably going to be a staple in our fridge down the shore this summer, at least as long as the cabbage is in season.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Walnut Miso Noodles

Sometimes we have to make something quick and painless for dinner.  I just got a container of miso the other day (I was finally able to find it at Whole Foods - it was in the refrigerated section near the fake meats.  Who knew?) so we decided to try the Walnut Miso Noodles on 101 Cookbooks.  We opted for soba instead of whole wheat (next time, I wouldn't) and rinsed the noodles under cold water (finally, we follow the directions... for the wrong recipe - next time, I wouldn't).  We used some sauteed swiss chard (with stems), edamame and toasted walnuts for some veg and crunch - pretty good choices.

The dressing was good.  I would make this again, but have it warm instead, and with whole wheat noodles instead of soba.  The easy substitution of veg makes this a great use-up-what's-in-the-fridge weeknight dish.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Zucchini Bread

It is obvious by now that I am trying to cook my way through Kim Boyce's Good to the Grain.  There are some things in there that don't appeal to me all that much right now, but since I haven't set a time limit on working my way through the book, I'm sure I'll eventually try them.  Every recipe I've made has been delicious (even the aesthetic failures).

I've got zucchini in my fridge.  It's not that I don't like zucchini... but it's not my favorite, and it never has been.  When we get zucchini in our CSA, I usually just leave it all with my mom - she and my sister love it.  But somehow it's snuck into my home via my Nonna and her garden.  She asked me if I wanted zucchini, and I, unable to refuse fresh local produce of any kind, said sure, I can take one, I'll make zucchini bread.  She came back with this beastly monster - over a pound, maybe a pound and a half - so I made two batches of zucchini bread, and still haven't finished that one zucchini.

The zucchini bread from Good to the Grain is not your average zucchini bread.  It uses mint and basil, infused into butter, and rye flour instead of your typical wheat.  Most of my test subjects loved it - my mom and sister complained about the rye and said they wanted "normal" zucchini bread.  (Make it yourself!)  That did get me thinking, though, about possible variations - more about that later.

I truly love this bread.  I think it's amazing.  I wouldn't think of using rye flour in zucchini bread - but that's why I bought this book.  I'm almost hesitant to even change the recipe - the whole book, organized by flour, already provides the best matches of flours to other ingredients.  My first batch of this bread was a little minty - I measured more loosely in my second batch and it was just right.  The headnotes suggest having a slice with a cup of mint tea, which sounds absolutely perfect to me.  It's great to just have it around for a snack.  I expect a loaf (or half a loaf) might freeze nicely as well, if tightly wrapped.

There is so much I want to do with this recipe.  Leave it the same, but add walnuts.  Sub some white whole wheat in for part or all of the all purpose flour (being cautious about the assertive taste wheat flour can bring to a recipe).  An all whole wheat version.  Bits of different flour.  Multigrain flour mix instead of rye.  The same basic structure, but with banana and walnuts instead of zucchini and herbs.  There are so many possibilities...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Figgy Buckwheat Scone Failure #2

Since I already had the fig butter made from the last attempt, I decided to give the Figgy Buckwheat Scones another shot.  This time, I used the heavy cream as directed, generously floured everything, and was able to roll it up and slice it.

Although I refrigerated the rolled-up dough for 30 minutes as directed, it wasn't cold enough and the scones pretty much melted into blobs in the oven.  Next time, I'll chill the dough much longer.  They were delicious, though.

Monday, July 5, 2010

CSA: June 2010

Week 4 (6/3/2010):
- 1 quart strawberries (PYO)
- 1 quart snow peas (PYO)
- 1 lb spinach
- 1 lb swiss chard (rainbow colors!)
- 4 heads of lettuce (2 green leaf, one smaller, tighter head type, and one called "deer tongue!")
- 1/2 lb arugula
- 2 bunches kale (I believe it is the Red Russian variety, different from last week's)

With the last kale of May, we made the kale chips.  They would have been delicious if they weren't so salty!  We may try again sometime, but we have been getting a different variety lately and are not sure how it would work with this type (Red Russian, I think).  The lettuce was, of course, used for salad.  Having just gotten used to having six heads, we went through it pretty fast.  Some spinach and arugula were tossed in for a mixed salad.  The strawberries were eaten quickly.  My sister Deanna made a pasta dish using the spinach, a combination of Jamie Oliver's classic tomato spaghetti and a recipe from Giada with spinach and asiago cheese (the cheese is a new family favorite).

Here is where we started to get lazy.  The kale and chard went unused as did much of the arugula.  The snow peas weren't used until Thursday when the next batch of veg had already stormed our fridge (see below).  We (well, I should probably say I) resolved to make a better effort in the upcoming week.

Berry Pine Nut Salad (29 Minutes to Dinner)

Week 5 (6/10/2010):
- 1 lb spinach
- 1 lb chard
- 6 heads lettuce (1 little weird one, 2 deer tongue, 1 green leaf, 2 red leaf)
- 2 bunches kale
- 1 bunch scallions
- 1 bunch radishes
- 2 heads radicchio
- 1 qt snow/snap peas, 1 pt each (PYO)
- a few sprigs of mint
- 4 summer squash (2 light green zucchini, 2 pattypan)

We made Asian chicken rolls (from the Pampered Chef book Grill it Quick!) on the grill - these are chicken tenderloins rolled up with a long, thin slice of carrot and one of the zucchini as well, secured with a toothpick and coated with Asian seasoning mix and a delicious glaze.  Bits of zucchini and carrot were chopped up in a rice pilaf, with some scallions mixed in.  To go along with this, I made sesame snap peas with carrots and red peppers using last week's snap peas.  That seemed to be a hit, but I thought the peas were too bitter - maybe because we waited so long to use them.  Deanna used up the zucchini we didn't use for the recipe in an omelet. 

My mom had a barbecue with her friends on Saturday, which is when I found the mint which I had forgotten in the bottom of my cooler.  (Oops...)  Fortunately, Ken had trimmed the mint at his parents' house so we were able to make mojitos!  (My favorite drink.  Yum!)  With some of the mixed lettuce and snap peas, we made a Berry Pine Nut Salad from a Pampered Chef cookbook (Berry-Pine Nut Chicken Salad, minus the chicken, from 29 Minutes to Dinner), which also had toasted pine nuts, red onions, blueberries, and a raspberry vinaigrette.  It was a beautiful salad (I made quite a nice presentation, thank you) and everyone seemed to really enjoy it.  (I had it the next day, though, and I did not like it.  Oh well!)  Since it was a barbecue, we also made grilled radicchio.  Some people liked it, some didn't - I think it might have been better if we were able to marinate it.  The next day we had a lot of barbecue leftovers for a lunch with the grandparents, and we added in the roasted spring vegetables, which has become a family favorite and was the exact reason I chose radishes from the choice group this week.  Instead of chives, my mom sprinkled scallions on top.  Later in the week, I used some of the remaining scallions to make the Otsu from Super Natural Cooking (also available on 101 Cookbooks). 

After not eating our kale or chard last week, I decided to take action and get creative.  Since we are sharing all this produce, I usually don't take any of it home - we most often cook at my mom's and eat there, or I bring home the leftovers.  This week, I took home the kale.  I've never really had kale before but I know that it is a nutritional powerhouse, so I really wanted to like it.  I've heard it tastes like and is in the same family as broccoli, so I decided we should try it in one of my favorite dishes - lemon pepper shrimp.  We threw in a little broccoli, just to give us that familiar flavor in case the kale was a flop.  It was delicious!!!  We used one bunch of the kale for that, so we had a bunch left over for the next night's dinner.  I had a bunch of things that I wanted to try, but I settled on a variation of the Matchstick Pasta on 101 Cookbooks.  I left out the pomegranate seeds, crushed all the pistachios for the sauce instead of sprinkling half of them on whole, and didn't break up the pasta.  Mine certainly wasn't as pretty, but it was a very delicious quick and easy weeknight dinner.

Week 6 (6/17/2010):
- 4 heads lettuce (2 green leaf, 2 red leaf)
- 2 bunches kale (1 Red Russian, 1 "regular")
- 2 bunches fennel (about 4 bulbs)
- 4 summer squash (1 light green zucchini, 3 dark green)
- 4 green garlic (bulbs and loooong stems)
- 12 heads broccoli
- 1/2 lb arugula
- a few sprigs each of rosemary, thyme, and oregano, and a bunch of chives (without flowers)

I was excited to see kale in the farm stand this week, since we discovered last week that we loved it, and I hadn't seen it on the list of available items on the farm's distribution blog.  We used it immediately in our lemon-pepper shrimp recipe, along with a few heads of the broccoli and some of the green garlic.  I chose the fennel from the choice group (the other option was the radicchio we weren't crazy about last week) as kind of a Father's Day present for my dad, who loves it and will eat it raw, roasted or grilled.  He finished it all off raw this time.  Deanna came with me this week and was super excited about the fresh herbs.

At the beach, we grilled some of the zucchini and last week's pattypan squash.  We chopped a bulb of the garlic to eat with steamed green beans - delicious!  For a quick and easy dinner when we got home on Sunday night, we made the Almond Soba Noodles from 101 Cookbooks using some of the broccoli.

Grilled Zucchini and Pattypan Squash

Week 7 (6/24/2010):
- 4 bulbs green garlic
- 2 heads broccoli
- 1 lb chard
- 2 bunches kale (regular variety)
- 2 bunches fennel
- 1 Chinese cabbage
- 1 bunch onions
- 6 heads lettuce (4 red, 1 different type of red, 1 deer tongue)

I have been trying to share with my family - it's hard for me not to snatch up everything I want and take it home with me.  I try to leave some, maybe even most, of the weekly produce for them.  However, I am discovering more and more that I eat a lot more vegetables than they do.  Last week after splitting the 12 heads of broccoli (6 for the two of us, 6 for the four of them) we used ours up fairly quickly, while they had some left over.  (We took it down the shore and made a salmon version of our lemon pepper shrimp to finish it off.)  I was disappointed to see only 2 heads of broccoli this week - it's one of my favorites.  We finished it off in our lemon pepper shrimp recipe, of course, with some kale in there as well.

I chose fennel again for my dad, which he ate raw again, and he says he's not sick of it yet.  I brought home the kale and chard for myself this week - I don't think we've eaten any chard yet this season and we've been collecting it for weeks.  It has a much better shot of getting cooked, much less eaten, at my house than at my mom's.  Plus, last week's bunch of regular-variety kale, which Deanna insisted on taking to make kale chips at the expense of my enjoying the red variety, is still in their fridge.  We ended up having some chard sauteed with garlic, kind of like spinach.  It was pretty good, but didn't blow me away.  I used up the rest of the chard, including the stems, in Walnut Miso Noodles.

The lettuce and onions were used in a salad - the onions were particularly delicious.  (My dressing recipe has evolved into something amazing: 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup white balsamic, a clove or two of garlic, a shallot, two moderate and controlled squeezes of dijon mustard, and salt and pepper.  Easy, classy and so delicious.)  The garlic was, unfortunately, forgotten at the beach, so hopefully it's still good next weekend.  I would like to look for more raw uses.  The Chinese cabbage was forgotten by everyone, so maybe it will turn up in next month's post.