Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Even before Thanksgiving, I saw an article in the New York Times: A Radical Rethinking of Thanksgiving Leftovers, unsurprisingly written by Mark Bittman.  Good ideas, and I was excited about them, but I came across a few more that were a little more appealing to me, and ended up with a few of my own, too.  First we made a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with a spicy mustard (pictured above).  I made ham stock and turkey broth from the leftover bones.  I adapted a White Bean and Ham Stew recipe from Food & Wine magazine to use that ham stock.  My favorite so far has been the Turkey Soup with Lime and Chile from the New York Times, which turned out to be super simple and tasty, just what we needed after a stuffed weekend (the avocado and crispy tortilla strips helped with the transition from heavy to light).  I circled back to the original article and made some exceptional cranberry yogurt parfaits (pictured below).

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011

Broccoli-Basil Mac & Cheese

Ever since this recipe for Broccoli-Basil Mac and Cheese was posted, I was looking forward to it.  I love broccoli and I love mac and cheese.  Unfortunately, I was pretty disappointed in the outcome.  I used manchego as called for in the original recipe, and I don't think I like it very much.  The basil flavor didn't come through at all, nor did the out-of-season yellow cherry tomatoes.  The broccoli wasn't pronounced.  The squash seemed out of place.  I probably should have used a half-and-half pasta instead of whole wheat.

I want to go through this recipe and rewrite it to be more appealing to me.  I know I can use it as a starting point to make something great.  I'll likely keep the broccoli bread crumbs, but I'm considering trying a cauliflower bread crumb, maybe sauteed to crisp it up a little.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Haley made these cute flags to identify our cheese varieties.
Thanksgiving has now come and gone.  We felt much more prepared than last year - less last-minute stress.  Here's our menu (my notes in italics) - very few repeat appearances this year.  Next year I'm hoping to be even more prepared, to have the menu done sooner, and to get a humanely raised local turkey! Photos courtesy of Haley, my personal photographer. (I was too busy cooking to remember to bring my camera.)

Bacon wrapped water chestnuts (yum!!!)
Cheeses and crackers (including Toma, Herdsman, and Garlic Peppercorn Jack from Cherry Grove Farm) (support your local farmers!)
Carrot and celery sticks with hummus

Main Course
Turkey with Gravy
Spiral Ham
Mashed Potato Casserole
Cranberry Sauce
Ciabatta Stuffing with Chestnuts and Raisins (Cooking Light Nov 2011 p152) (very tasty)
Butternut Squash and Corn Bread Stuffing Muffins (Food and Wine Nov 2011)
Roasted Root Vegetables (turnips, radishes, carrots, sweet potatoes from the CSA, plus onions, roasted in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper, topped with parsley and scallions) (excellent)
Pumpkin and Feta Muffins (101 Cookbooks)
Green Beans with Balsamic Dressing (green beans from our CSA, balsamic dressing from The Essential NY Times Cookbook) (defrost green beans overnight before steaming them next time...)

Pear and Fig Pie-in-a-Jar (Food and Wine Nov 2011) (YUM! lots of work but a tasty result!)
Black Bottom Banana Crème Pie (Food and Wine Nov 2011) (super easy and a big hit!)
Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Pie (from Martha Stewart) (unusual but it works! chocolate and pumpkin belong together!)
Apple Pie ("can I bake this parchment paper?" haha! Haley's lattice crust rocks as always!)

Gobble gobble!
Ciabatta Stuffing with Chestnuts and Raisins
Butternut Squash and Corn Bread Stuffing Muffins
Haley's Apple Pie
My Black-Bottom Banana Cream Pie
Triple Double Chocolate Pumpkin Pie :)
Pear and Fig Pie-in-a-Jar

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Italy 2011: Food!!!

I've got tons of pictures from our trip to Italy - about 600, in fact.  Here are a few highlights from the trip, and below are some food-related shots.

This is my empty plate from a place I can't remember the name of right near the hotel.  I suspect it MIGHT be Boulangerie del Rifrullo.  We also had some great paninis from ino, a hard-to-find panini shop in a dark alley.

I was totally enamored by the olive trees in San Gimignano.  They're everywhere!

The Museo del Vino in San Gimignano - they're famous for vernaccia.  We had some at a restaurant in Florence later that night.  On our last night in Florence we visited Il Re Gelato - an out-of-the-way place but worth the walk.  I had Greek yogurt gelato with honey and nuts, and ricotta gelato with figs.  Yum!

Food was more of a focus for us in Rome.  This is Gelateria del Teatro in Trastevere - super tasty gelato.  Among other flavors, we had some pumpkin gelato with amaretto cookies and chocolate bits, and I hear their chocolate-red wine gelato is pretty good too.

Here is Cafe Cafe, a nice little bistro behind the Colosseum.  We had some tasty paninis for lunch after the 5k walk from our hotel to the Colosseum.

On our final day in Rome, we went on a culinary stroll led by Brette Jackson.  After picking up some pizza bianca, seasonal chestnut bread, and pastries at Forno Campo dei Fiori, she took us to Caffe Peru, the only place in Rome that you can sit down to drink your coffee without paying extra.  We had caffe macchiato - coffee stained with milk.  Yum!

Later, we had some excellent potato pizza in Trastevere, and eventually we went back to the Campo dei Fiori area.  First we stopped at Forno Marco Roscioli, which apparently is owned by relatives of the owners of Forno Campo dei Fiori.  While Forno Campo dei Fiori is known for their pizza bianca, Forno Marco Roscioli is supposedly known for their pizza rosa.  It was super fun to watch them make the pizza through a big window to the back room.

Next, we went shopping in the Campo dei Fiori market.  I was obsessed with this market.  I want to go here every day and buy fresh amazing food to make my lunches and dinners and then go back the next day and do it all over again.  It would be my dream!  Anyway, we had a little picnic, with some porchetta and cheese, some kind of spicy pork jerky, grapes and a persimmon.  I bought some pasta but I wish I could have bought some of the minestrone mix - already mixed up carrots and soup greens and whatever you need to make minestrone.  So cool!  (I've got a ton of pictures from this, so I'll be doing a separate post on it soon.)

We stopped at a chocolate shop called Confetteria Moriondo & Gariglio.  This is the oldest chocolate shop in Rome, and they import the cocoa beans from Costa Rica and then make their own chocolate!  After a tasty sample, I decided to bring back some for a friend for her birthday (and a box for myself as well!) and it is super delicious chocolate.  You can tell everything is hand-packed because the foil in the box is ever-so-slightly unevenly cut.

Our final stop on this culinary stroll was this gelateria near the Pantheon.  You might expect a gelateria so near to a tourist area to be kind of sucky, but this place was good.  They have several granitas to choose from - I particularly enjoyed the sour cherry flavor.  After we sampled several flavors, we all went back and got more :)

The most important thing I learned about food on my trip to Italy was how to choose a good gelateria.  You should avoid the piled-high gelatos - these are usually artificial flavors.  A good gelateria will not have big piles of gelato in their case!  Also, it is OK - in fact, necessary! - to eat gelato AT LEAST once a day on your trip!  Since it has less fat than American ice cream (which I already knew) you can consume more with less guilt.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A pictureless summary

While I'm waiting for my official photographer to send me our Thanksgiving photos, I thought I'd share some notes on recipes that I haven't gotten around to posting about.  I've got a few posts started for recipes that I never photographed - since the main point of my blog is to post about the food I make and to avoid making the same mistakes twice, I'm going to share them quickly all at once, instead of dedicating a separate post to each.  Tune in later this weekend for our Thanksgiving post and for some Italy pictures!

Coconut Granola Bars
The coconut granola bars, from NY Times Recipes for Health, were a tasty treat on our vacation.  We snacked on them at the airport and on the plane, crumbled some into yogurt at the continental breakfast, and left a few for Deanna's roommates too.  They were super easy and very crunchy.  If you like those Nature Valley crunchy oats and honey granola bars, you'll like these, and you'll be eating a home-cooked, less-processed (and therefore BETTER) version of them.

Napa Cabbage Salad with Peanuts and Cilantro
I found the recipe for this salad in Deborah Madison's book, Local Flavors.   I made a number of changes to this based on what I had on hand. (It was good, but I thought it would be even better as written.) I didn't have any lettuce, so I used entirely cabbage, and a bit more than called for, a change I think was great! I omitted the scallions because I didn't have any, so I added in a shallot with the dressing. I made the dressing in the blender, and I also added the cilantro to the dressing instead of the salad. I skipped the basil and mint because I didn't have any. Next time I would add extra carrots too!

Fire-Roasted Tomato Stew with Eggplant, Bulgur, and Chickpeas
This one comes from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals.  It's been a while since I made it (eggplant season), but it was good.  I stuck a bit in the freezer for lunches.  The chickpeas are an optional addition, but I think it's always better to toss in some vegetable-based protein when you have the opportunity.  I used bulgur instead of farro, because it's cheaper and I wasn't sure how this would turn out, and also because I thought it would go better with the other flavors.  I was a fan of the golden raisins - if I remember correctly the recipe called for regular dark raisins, but I prefer the golden ones, and I thought they gave the stew an interesting dimension of flavor.

Slow-Cooker Black Bean Mushroom Chili
I made this chili recipe in the slow cooker I got for my birthday.  My old slow cooker is very temperamental and the temperatures seem to be off (thanks to the internet, I've found that this is a very common complaint with that particular brand and model).  My new one lets you set the time by the half hour, and you can jump straight to warm if that's what you want.  This chili recipe uses dried beans, which cooked very well in the 8 hours in the slow cooker.  One complaint is the fresh tomatillos I used - I don't think we scrubbed them well enough and their sticky coating lent a slightly bitter taste to the chili.  The mushrooms gave it a nice meaty element and the spices were a little unusual and interesting.  I would try this one again, maybe with the tomatillos I canned several weeks ago in place of fresh ones.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

CSA: Week 26 & Week 27

Last week, I was on vacation in Italy.  It was awesome and I have plenty to share.  While I was gone, a friend picked up my share.  She gave a bunch of stuff to Ken while I was gone, but naturally she did not keep the unnecessarily meticulous records that I do.  So our Week 26 included lettuce, carrots, daikon, sweet potatoes, and baby bok choy.  It was nice to come home to some healthy food, since of course I ate nothing but pasta and gelato in Italy.

Week 27 was our last pickup.  This happened about 5 days ago, on Tuesday, but in addition to catching up on reality, I've been struggling with a dead laptop battery.  Now that it's fixed, I'll share our final week of produce.  I went by myself, but gave a bunch to my mom.

The choice group consisted of beets, daikon, rutabaga (limit 1), and baby white turnips.  (I'm bad at taking the pictures, this one came out blurry!)  I opted for 2 bunches of beets and 2 bunches of turnips.

The baby lettuce was mostly dark red (bitter!) but they are so tiny, they all fit in one produce bag!  I gave this to my mom.

I kept the one tiny head of cauliflower.

I was so excited to see so much broccoli!  Mom kept 2 and I kept 6.  I used them in a mac & cheese recipe and in a frittatta and in some fried rice.  I love broccoli.

I was happily surprised to see cilantro so late in the season, especially after that snowstorm we had a few weeks ago.  I kept this one.

I had the time to pick out the nicest, crispiest leaves of swiss chard, so hopefully they last a bit longer than they do when I crunch them into the bag in a hurry.  (I kept this).

What to do with 6 pounds of carrots?  Fortunately they will last us a while.  Mom is holding these in storage for me, since I have nowhere to keep 6 pounds of carrots.

It was another great CSA season!  Next year I'll (hopefully?) have a job and I won't be able to do the pickup.  I'm entrusting this responsibility to my mom and hoping my inner control freak can just be grateful to have fresh produce.  The application became available when we were on vacation, and I'm planning to mail it out right after Thanksgiving to secure our spot for next year.  For now, it will be nice to have a break - I can go to the store and buy what I want for a recipe and not have to worry about what to do with all this miscellaneous produce.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Mediterranean Baked Eggs

These Mediterranean Baked Eggs are in a blue box off to the side of another recipe.  While the recipe takes up a whole page, it's set off to the side, not a featured recipe.  The book is Ancient Grains for Modern Meals, and these baked eggs have no grains in them.  However, they've stuck in my mind since I got the book.  This is funny for a few reasons - one is the sheer number of recipes I see.  For any to stick in my mind means they must be something special.  The second reason?  I'm not big on eggs.  Specifically egg yolks.  But... these were delicious.  Granted, I did not eat my yolk (which cooked too much to be good, anyway), but I still enjoyed the eggs.  The tomato sauce was extremely flavorful, despite my forgetting to "season" it with red wine vinegar and brown sugar.  You can make the sauce ahead, so this makes a perfect brunch recipe - keep an eye on it in the oven, then take it out and let it finish cooking while you're finishing up everything else.  The toast is essential, but you can multitask in the oven and just lay the slices across the racks to toast.  What a great little weekend brunch this was for the two of us, and I expect to be adding it to my spread the next time I host a brunch for friends.

PS: note my Le Creuset Mini-Cocottes.  A birthday present that I absolutely adore.  :)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Baked Pasta with Cabbage and Potatoes

I was skeptical about this recipe.  Baked pasta... good.  With cabbage... a little weird.  And potatoes... with pasta?  The cabbage mixture has mustard in it... and there's cheese.  But I needed a recipe that would use up a decent amount of Napa cabbage, so I gave it a shot.  Well, it was really surprisingly good.  I actually plan to make it again, though it won't be for me (more on that at a later date).

There are a few layers in this recipe.  You repeat each layer twice, in the same order.  First, a whole grain pasta - I used a whole wheat fusilli.  Next, the potatoes, followed by grated Parmesan and cubes of fontina.  The final layer is a mixture of Napa cabbage and leeks, flavored with garlic and whole-grain mustard.  I added extra mustard until I found the cabbage mixture absolutely delicious on its own.  After being baked in the oven, the cheese melted and the mustard flavor developed a new dimension.  We gladly ate the leftovers for a few days.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Apple Crisp

A few weeks ago we went apple picking.  My mom and sister made pie and my dad eats like 20 Stayman Winesap apples a day because he is a crazy person.  I, on the other hand, ate a few each week, but that's about it.  I had intended to can applesauce and/or apple butter, but things don't always materialize the way I want them to, so I had a bunch of apples that really needed to be used.  I decided I wanted to make an apple crisp, and a fairly healthy one at that.  I got this recipe from Clean Food.  Pretty basic stuff here, with a cookie-like topping made of oats.  I followed the recipe pretty closely, though I subbed applesauce for the oil as I always do in baking.  I honestly never notice the difference.  I was supposed to cover it with foil, but didn't have any, so the topping did get a little overcooked.  It actually worked out really well for reheating, because the topping softened up to be more like a cookie.  The filling seemed watery, but thickened up as it cooled.  When you have a lot of apples to use up, you're not looking for a complicated recipe - this worked out really well for me.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

CSA 2011: Week 25

This week, my friend came with me to the farm so I could show her around and see how things are done.  She'll be picking up my next share (if there is one) while I am on a fabulous vacation.  It's funny because I'll only be here for a few days this week, but I still ended up taking home most of the produce.  She had a bit more self-control, taking only what she thought she would use.  I felt the need to snatch up whatever she wasn't taking.  I probably should learn not to do this...

No PYO this week!  My friend did take a bit of mint.  There are a few herbs left which are unlimited picking.

Broccoli is my favorite.  I took this home.  (on purpose!)

I took 6 tiny hot peppers.

I got 2 Chinese/napa cabbage - Small ones, because I don't need a lot this week.

My friend took 3 heads of red lettuce.  She didn't want the 4th so I found a tiny green one.

I took about 1/2 pound of the lettuce mix and I believe my friend took about the same.  Maybe I should have taken a bit more...

We each took a bunch of carrots.

My friend took one tomato and I took three.

And that's a wrap!  I think next week will probably be the last week of the season, and I doubt we'll participate in the "pig out" where you go into the fields and harvest whatever you want, donating a portion of it.  So, it's been another great year and we've eaten a lot of tasty food.  I have a lot of interesting things in the freezer for the winter and a long list of things to do with them.  I think I've gotten better at the freezing and canning thing, though I've still got a ways to go.  Next year I'll be even more prepared.  I'm looking forward to the winter break, but will be happy when spring comes and the CSA starts up again!