Thursday, July 28, 2011

Red Lentil and Chard Soup

I've had Ottolenghi: The Cookbook sitting on my shelf for a while now.  I like to flip through and look at the pictures.  But the recipes are usually a little too demanding for me.  I've heard only success stories from people who have made recipes from this book, but I just didn't have the time or energy.

We wasted a lot of Swiss chard from the farm last year, so this year I am determined to make better use of it, and this Ottolenghi recipe used the first of the Swiss chard this year.  Red lentils, sauteed onions, Swiss chard, cilantro (coriander, as they call it), plus seasonings with which you can't go wrong - cumin, cinnamon, coriander seed, garlic, a bit of butter, and a squeeze of lemon at the end.  The smell is filling my house right now.  I wish I could send the scent through the internet.

As with most of the recipes in this book, this Red Lentil and Chard Soup is pretty time consuming.  I cooked the red lentils about 36 hours in advance - I didn't have time to do the whole thing right then.  I left that on the back burner while I made something else for dinner, then finished it in the day after next in the morning - it took about 2 hours with all the chopping and such.  Just the delicious scent is worth it though, and the flavors are ones that I tend to love.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

CSA 2011: Week 11

These are last week's flowers.  :)

So I made the zucchini pickles, zucchini gratin, and turkey couscous meatloaf as planned.  Naturally, I had to buy corn from the market for the Pasta with Fresh Corn Pesto, which we just can't get enough of.  We also made the Chopped Miso Salad (pictured below) down the shore, which is now a family favorite that has deviated pretty substantially from the original recipe.  (The dressing has stayed the same.)

A few weeks ago, I made refrigerator garlic dill pickles, which I have just gotten to try today, and they are all I ever wanted in a pickle.  I think I like them better than the Shop Rite brand kosher dill spears that you get in the refrigerator section.  I'm going to make some more of these the next time I see pickling cucumbers.  I figure they'll keep for a while in the fridge being so acidic.

Today, when I got home from collecting all of this week's produce, which I'll get to in a minute, I made this eggplant couscous dish with last week's two eggplants.  This was entirely an effort to make room for the new stuff, but oh how I love the savory combination of cumin and cinnamon.  It's also in the Red Lentil and Chard Soup I made with last week's chard, which I'll post about very soon.  I also made another batch of my friend's cucumber salad, but I didn't have any onions, so I have to throw a few in later.

Let's sum it up.  From the CSA, I've used zucchini, white salad onions, cabbage, scallions, eggplant, cilantro, Swiss chard.  From the market, I've used red salad onions, corn, carrots, sage.  From various people's gardens, I've used basil and cucumbers.  In addition to this, I froze some of the big bunch of sage, a bit of grated zucchini, some ice cubes of basil puree (basil, oil, garlic, salt), a basil/garlic compound butter, two of the meatloaves, and some of the lentil/chard soup.  I'm stocking up pretty well here.

Now, after all that, what about this week?  Before I even got to the CSA, I had Swiss chard, parsley, a ton of cucumbers, and a garbage bag of basil.  I mean, an actual garbage bag, FULL of basil.  I'm still working on turning it into a usable form, though I have a few things keeping me from it right now.  So before I even went to the farm I had all of this stuff in my house.

When I got to the farm, it was official: summer is really here.  This was a big produce week.  First, I checked out the PYO board.

I didn't bother with the okra.  I definitely want to try it, but this week I had enough to worry about already.  I grabbed a handful of mint and a handful of lemon balm for an iced tea experiment that I want to try.  I filled a pint of raspberries pretty easily.  And since it was hot, and I was alone, I didn't take even one of the 100 (yes, one hundred) flower stems we were entitled to.

In the farm stand there was a surprising amount of stuff.  It took me a while to do this by myself, and since I had nowhere to be, I took my sweet time.  This is always a good idea, because fresh batches of veg will be put out while you're wandering around.  I was able to wait for the good stuff - lacinato kale, big yellow summer squash, turning-red peppers.

Kale vs. collards = easy choice (kale, in case you didn't get that) and I kept both bunches for the delicious raw kale salad.

I didn't take any eggplant.  The ones in the box were squishy and tiny.  I waited and waited and waited even after I was finished with everything else for her to put out new ones, but she didn't.  I decided I had enough produce and just left without them.

I took 3 of the 4 peppers we were entitled to because that's how many in the bin looked like they had a chance at turning red.  Green ones are gross.  My mom snagged one of these.

Ugh... basil.  I took the two bunches despite the garbage bag waiting for me at home.  Fortunately, my mom took these from me.

I had taken my zucchini early on in the trip, but I went back and swapped a few when she brought out some nice big yellow ones.  I ended up with 7 green and 3 yellow.  I think my mom took 2 green and 1 yellow.

When my mom came over to pick up some of the produce, she kept eating these delicious cherry tomatoes whenever I wasn't looking.  When she shared one with me, I understood why.  So good!  She took some and I still have enough for some delicious bruschetta, or maybe some oven-roasted ones.

The beets, without tops, went straight home with my mom.

I was happy to see potatoes again since they are versatile and last a bit longer.  I still have some of last week's so mom took most of these.

I took one bunch each of dill and cilantro, not realizing that my mom would snag all the cilantro!  Hopefully I'll be able to put the dill to good use... I have a few ideas.

The slicing tomatoes aren't quite ready yet, but they are going to be soooo good.  I can't wait for fresh tomato/basil/mozzarella plates.  Mom took a few of these as well.

I almost forgot about the Swiss chard.  I love the rainbow colors, but since I just got a whole bunch from Nonna, I let my mom take this to give to my grandma.

So that's what I'll be up to this week.  Making pesto, for sure, plus hopefully some other interesting things.  I'll be happy if I get to try some new recipes.  Tomorrow is the farmers' market, so I'll have to start making lists and figuring out what I need to do to efficiently use this produce this week and minimize the waste.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Raw Tuscan Kale Salad

This one comes from the pages of In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite, by Melissa Clark of the New York Times.  I know her from the XYZ series.  Fortunately for you (and for me, since I didn't feel like digging through the book when I made this) Heidi has featured the recipe on her site.

I, too, was skeptical.  Raw Tuscan Kale Salad.  Raw kale.  Kale is thick and sturdy and the opposite of delicate spinach.  Somehow it works and I love it.  Lemony, garlicky, and of course cheese makes everything better, doesn't it?  The red pepper flakes add a kick, and I forgot the black pepper and didn't miss it at all.

I wanted this to sit and absorb the dressing (and what a coincidence, that's a step in the directions...) so I tossed it together right away when I got back from my workout and let it sit while I took a shower.  By the time dinner was ready it was pretty good.  By lunch the next day it was even better.  I'll make this again and again with all the cavolo nero I can get my hands on.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Herbed Shrimp and White Bean Salad

We made this Herbed Shrimp and White Bean Salad for dinner down the shore this weekend.  We all agreed it was more of a lunch salad.  I loved the peppery arugula and the variety of herbs.  Shrimp is always good.  I could see using a bit more dressing next time.  The bean mixture and dressing would be so delicious tossed with a hearty grain for a different take on the salad.  What a delicious summer salad.  I'll be taking some inspiration from this for other fresh, light salads.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

CSA 2011: Week 10

Here's what I've been doing with some of the produce we've been getting.  (Local ingredients in bold.)

I made a vegetable soup based on this Soup au Pistou recipe.  It barely fit in the pot with all the vegetables, so I left out the beans and the pasta, and now I have some frozen 1-cup portions of a plain vegetable soup to dress up however I like.  In this soup I used onions, leeks, celery, cauliflower, and canned tomatoes from the grocery store along with kale and zucchini from our CSA.

Below is our lunch from Saturday.  In the big bowl is Pasta with Fresh Corn Pesto, which was an excellent use of 6 of the 12 ears of corn we got from the CSA this week.  One of the small side bowls is the Chopped Miso Salad that's become a family favorite (and still gaining fans with extended family and friends).  Here I used cabbage and scallions from the CSA, plus carrots and onions from the Princeton farmers' market.  In the second small bowl is a cucumber salad that my friend made.  It's a recipe her family always makes - a simple salad with vinegar and a bit of sugar.  Her boyfriend grew the cucumbers and red onions himself.  That's super local - I love it.

Ken made me the delicious French-inspired omelet pictured below, using, among other things, zucchini and mushrooms.  I'm hanging onto this recipe for when I open a cafe or write a cookbook - too good to share!  There's some fresh squeezed orange juice in that mason jar.

So now that you've seen what I've been doing... Here's what I got this week.

 We chose 2 bunches of spring onions - 1 each.

We chose 2 bunches of cilantro - 1 each.

 I took this home.

 I took this too.

 We split these.

 I got 4 out of the 6 of these.

We also got some pretty flowers.  I'll try to post some flower pictures next week.

I have a few things planned for the upcoming week... zucchini pickles, zucchini gratin, and a favorite meatloaf recipe, among other things.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cornmeal Pancakes with Warm Cherry Sauce

The featured cookbook right now is Ancient Grains for Modern Meals, which I bought a few months ago.  I haven't made too much from this book, but I flagged a few to try over the next few weeks while it's being featured.

Today I decided on the Cornmeal Pancakes with Warm Cherry Sauce.  Why?  I wanted breakfast, and I had a bag of cherries in the fridge that were hanging on by a thread and I didn't want them to go to waste.  Plus I love things with cornmeal.  I had a great cornbread french toast once at the place we sometimes go to brunch on the weekends - I'll have to remember to recreate that sometime.  So I decided to make the cornmeal pancakes.

They really came out great.  I enjoyed them as well as the warm cherry sauce.  I halved each cherry to remove the pit (with all my kitchen gadgets, I surprisingly do not own a cherry pitter) and cooked them with honey, orange zest, and cloves to make a delicious sauce, thickened with a bit of cornstarch.  I multiplied the recipe by 1.5 because I had 3 cups of cherries instead of 2 to use.  I have about 2 cups left that we'll have to find another use for (cherry yogurt maybe?) but I'm not too worried about that.

I didn't have any buttermilk, so I used yogurt thinned out a bit in its place.  I think it worked out just fine - I didn't notice any significant difference, but I would also like to try it as written.  I would also love to try the cornmeal pancakes with blueberries.  In fact, I could see making a similar kind of sauce with blueberries... maybe with some cinnamon instead of cloves and lemon instead of orange zest... yum!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Oatmeal Muffins

I was eating muesli every day for a while, so for a few months, I was buying the 32 oz containers of yogurt.  I bought one a few weeks ago and never got around to opening it - I guess that's around when I started eating omelets for breakfast.  So I need to use up this yogurt over the next few days, and I went searching for some easy recipes.  I decided to adapt Heidi's Oatmeal Muffins.  Instead of the all-purpose flour, I used 100 g Multigrain Flour Mix (from Good to the Grain).  Besides that, I used 100 g unsalted butter instead of 200 g, plus 1/2 cup (one individual package) of unsweetened applesauce.  I sprinkled a bit of cinnamon sugar on top because I didn't feel like making the crumble.  It came out pretty good - definitely moist - but very dense.  If you like eating oatmeal, though, you'll probably like it.  I'm interested to find out how the original version tastes, but it was fun to kind of wing it and use up some of the miscellaneous ingredients I have lying around.  It could easily be adapted many different ways so I will probably use this recipe as a base again in the future.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

CSA 2011: Week 9

So a quick update... I made a TON of vegetable soup on Sunday night, I'll post about it later.  I used zucchini and kale from the farm, plus a cauliflower that was sitting in my fridge from the market around the corner, some small potatoes leftover from the frittatta I made a few weeks ago, and onions, leeks and celery from the grocery store.  We haven't been getting too much done food-wise since I'm in class what feels like every night.  This week won't be much better, which is too bad because...

Today was a great produce day!  Still nothing to pick, which I am thankful for because it is sooo hot out today.  But we got some exciting things!  Let's go through my thought process (with pictures!) ...

Hmm, choice group.  No beets?  Ok... two bunches of scallions.
 Hmm... no kale?  Sad.  I should try collards though...
Only 4 heads of lettuce?  Thank god!!!  They're all red though... 
Oh good, they have the less curly ones, I'll take those.
Zucchini.  12?!!? YAY ZUCCHINI!!!
How am I going to fit this all in my fridge?!?!
The end.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

CSA 2011: Week 8

Over the long 4th of July weekend, I used broccoli and giant zucchini for grilled pizza and an omelet bar.  I used more zucchini in these awesome grill packets from SELF magazine.  I made a chopped miso salad with one of the heads of cabbage we got.

This week, we got a lot of a few things.  Like too much lettuce.

I was thrilled to see lacinato kale (also known as dinosaur kale or cavolo nero) which is one of my favorite types of kale because it holds up so well when cooked.  I snagged two bunches of it and I'm looking forward to putting it into a vegetable soup.

This week we faced the same choice group as last week: cabbage, scallions, basil, and beets.  My mom had said she wanted a bunch of beets, so I got one of those, plus a bunch of scallions and two cabbages.  In hindsight, I probably should have taken two bunches of scallions - but my thought process at the time was simply that the cabbage would last longer.  I still have one left from last week.

We've already eaten one of the zucchini, grilled with some chicken sausages for dinner.  Can't wait to see what else I can do this week.  Once my summer class is over, I'll have two extra nights to cook!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

Last week I was craving sweets.  I thought about making the Mesquite Chocolate Chip Cookies, but I didn't feel like doing all that work.  Immediately I remembered Heidi posting a whole wheat cookie recipe that she baked in a skillet.  I looked up the recipe, saw that I had all the ingredients, and got to work.

I used (obviously) my Le Creuset cast iron skillet, which was not as deep as Heidi recommended.  I used less of the dough to compensate, but I'm not exactly sure how much, since I ate bits of it while I worked.  For future reference, though, my cookie did not puff up beyond the edges of the pan or even close, and I think I could have included most, if not all, of the dough when I baked it.  I used a few tablespoons less butter than the recipe called for and I did not notice any difference - it's always nice to shave off a few calories from any recipe.

This was a big hit with my coworkers, and Ken's coworkers loved them too.  My mom hid the leftovers to keep for herself.  Some of the comments that I got were that the whole wheat changed the texture in a good way, making it more dense and satisfying, and that the cookies were not too sweet like many cookies can be.