Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Carrots, Corn, and Chiles - Turkey Burritos

We've always enjoyed a good burrito. Nothing fancy. Just a simple combination of ingredients in a tasty wrap. Over the years, we eaten primarily bean burritos, then beef, then chicken, then mixtures of any or all of these. We've made the burrito shells by hand, bought traditional varieties from Mexican groceries, and tried the low carb-high fiber wraps that have become so popular.

Tonight's Burrito Story begins with four Anaheim chilies. I was perusing the produce section and saw a large basket of chilies. Wouldn't they be perfect roasted?

This is a simple process. Remove the grate covering the burner on your gas stove. Hold the chilies directly in the flame until the skins pops, crackles, and blisters its way to a coal black. Cool. Remove the skins by gently scraping the chilies with a knife edge. Chop. Toss with a tiny bit of oil and salt. Refrigerate until needed.

Next decision. What should the filling be? I turned to an old favorite - ground turkey. Then turned my attention to the fridge.

The Method

  1. Saute chopped onion, red pepper, and the green chilies until they soften.
  2. Add 1# ground turkey. 
  3. Add oregano, black pepper, cumin, salt & pepper, and any other seasonings you like.
  4. When the turkey has browned, add 1 can of unsalted corn. (Fresh would also be great.)
  5. Simmer to meld the flavors.

We lined each whole wheat burrito shell with refried beans (canned and made especially tasty by the efforts of a certain young cook in the family - who would have imagined mustard and horseradish could improve upon the original, but they were quite delicious!). 

Shredded cheddar cheese formed the second layer. I like to use it to melt-secure the burrito filling to the beans. 

The Turkey filling comes third. Then a little guacamole. Drizzle of good salsa...and...

Shredded OPO carrots. We love shredded carrots for the sweetness and crunch they add.

The Result

The roasted chilies were an excellent addition, and paired nicely with the sweet corn and carrots. Moreover, Familiar favorites - even when updated - don't last long on our table. It was, therefore, not surprising that mealtime passed in relative quiet.

Depending upon the day the parents may have had, this could be viewed as the perfect accompaniment. But, as it happens, we enjoyed yet another OPO cucumber and tomato salad - tossed with a bit of olive oil and red wine vinegar.

Bookmark and Share

Monday, September 28, 2009

Do the Clothes Make the Man?

So, my daily commute down Thomasville has been witnessed twice recently by a Man in Overalls. The first day, I drove past too quickly to take in much more than his sign: GROW YOUR OWN FOOD AND SHARE IT. The impetus for this blog was, in part, giving more attention to how and where we obtain our food. So this particular coincidence was noteworthy. Perhaps it's also helpful to point out that I grew up in a small, rural farming community where many people did grow food, including my own family with our garden plot. Now here in Tallahassee, just before the intersection of Thomasville and Seventh Ave., was someone taking time to remind us that food is both a responsibility and a gift.

On the second day, I slowed a captured this rather poor picture. It was clear enough, however, to read the second sign stating that he had a blog. Nathan, it happens, is passionate (and thoughtful) about gardening: what it represents, challenges, and makes possible.

Seeing Nathan reminded me - as things do occasionally - of having lived for a time in Malawi (East Central Africa) in a region where almost everyone grew their own food to survive. One of the first nights on my own, I heard drumming coming from one of the small cluster of homes below in the valley. At the time, I was convinced that it must have been a ceremonial right or celebration.  A conversation the next morning with a Malawian colleague revealed the true reason. In the midst of a severe drought, an family had exhausted its food supply (corn). The drumming and accompanying singing were a call to all families within the area to bring one cup of corn from their stores to share with the hungry family. While there are many enduring memories from those experiences and years, this remains exceptionally clear in my mind. 

I understand that a blog about cooking is a privilege. Sharing what we make with the produce of others is perhaps a way to enhance our appreciation of their efforts, and a recognition that we have options unavailable to most people in the world. Nathan's message offers the opportunity for reflection. For that I am grateful.

Bookmark and Share

Soup in Seven

I enjoy a complicated food challenge. The longer, more involved the recipe, the more likely I will try it. A few years back, I made cassoulet for Christmas. It required nearly a week of prep cooking (i.e., making sausages from scratch). I have made Turducken a couple of times, which requires a similar amount of sustained effort.

But there is much to be said for simple preparations.

Sunday lunch was a reprisal of radish sandwiches. I realize we were aiming for new uses of repeat OPO veggies, but this just sounded perfect. Again, the method is simple: thinly sliced radishes and their leaves on good bread slathered with butter and a sprinkling of salt. What bread did you use, you might be asking? My resilient whole grain friend, of course!

The presence of good bread makes soup an obvious choice for your next meal. My friend, Dina, sent me a recipe for Portugese Sausage and Kale Soup by John Mitzewich. He has a video cooking blog and a number of other web-outlets for his work. But you're reading my blog, so I feel obliged to tell you how I approached the soup. After watching his preparation once, I headed to Publix and found...why, yes, they do carry linguisa sausage in the lunch meat case. (As a lover of all sausage-styles, I was surprised to be unfamiliar with this variety.)

The Method

  1. Slice the sausage into 1/4" thick rounds (on a bias, if you wish to be fancy)
  2. Chop two small onions
  3. Saute the sausage and onions in some olive oil
  4. Season with garlic and cayenne pepper to taste
  5. Add 1 quart of good chicken broth (I used defrosted homemade stock)
  6. Bring this to a boil, lower to a simmer
  7. Add two roughly chopped russet potatoes
  8. Simmer until the potatoes are tender (or until you realize that your son mistakenly turned off the stove, and the potatoes have been poaching not simmering)
  9. Turn up the heat, and add 8 C. roughly chopped greens (I used OPO kale and arugula. Who knew arugula was this versitile?)
  10. Simmer the greens in the soup until they are tender (I let it go about an hour while we played Pictionary.)
  11. Serve with good bread.
The Result
Wow. Another keeper. This is a seven (or so) ingredient, single pot dish. Seven is a favorite number, and this is now a favorite dish. 

The linguisa is a mild sausage, as are the greens. The potatoes give extra body to the broth. And the broth itself is the keystone ingredient. (All the more reason to make your own.) Dina, this is a perfect excuse to try kale. 

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A side of bakin'

I've already explained that - given the chance - I prefer to spend time in the kitchen over the weekends. While I love to cook, I don't regularly bake. An occasional loaf of bread proves the exception. A couple of weeks ago I made real french bread and more recently a molasses and cornmeal mush based "Anadama Bread".

Several bananas have evolved in our fruit basket. They have reached a point of no return, and now must be reckoned with. Fortunately, I have at my disposal not one but two of my mom's excellent recipes for Banana Bread.

I also have a favorite basic whole grain bread recipe that is a very accommodating starting point for creative bread making. 

The Method (Banana Bread)

  1. Blend 1/4 C softened butter, 1 C sugar, and three eggs.
  2. Add in three (or four) very ripe banana.
  3. Add 1 C white flour (I may use wheat next time)
  4. 1 tsp baking soda
  5. Incorporate 1/2 bag of Ghiradelli's semi-sweet chocolate chips (which you were eating anyway while you were making Mac and Greens [and by You, I mean me]).
  6. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. (Cool 3 hours and then realize that you stuck the knife in the wrong place and it was raw. Return to the oven  for another 1/2 hour...remove fully cooked.)
The Method (Whole Grain Bread)
I'm certain you have your own favorite bread recipe. This isn't my very favorite, but it is forgiving. It includes butter, dried milk, and an open-ended request for "whole grain cereal". 

Okay. A confession. I intended to make Pugliese, a soft-crumbed Italian bread. HOWEVER, I failed to carefully review the recipe first. Had I done so, I would have realized that I needed to allow the starter to set for 8-10 hours before beginning the actual dough. Given that I mixed the yeast and water at 3:30, it seemed a course correction was necessary. Thus, I returned to the ole' stand-by.

After adjusting the flour and water ratios, using bread and wheat flours, I added the remaining ingredients: 1 C. combined of whole bran and granola cereals, salt, butter, honey, and...

Well, I had forgotten to buy milk and discovered I did not have dried milk. Previously I'd tried using soy and almond milks as a substitute, but they were vanilla flavored and gave the bread an odd aftertaste. Unfortunately, I only had those in the house. So, after a quick run to the Circle K for a $3.69 gallon of skim milk, i was back in business.

Of course, by this stage, the yeast had been proofing for almost 1/2 hour. 

Then the bread machine failed. (Yes, I had decided to take the automated route) 

So, I was left with a semi-stirred amalgamation. With a quick flouring of the counter and several minutes of hand kneading, all was ready.

Two risings. A final rising on the baking stone, then into a 425 oven for ten minutes. Lower the heat to 350 and finish baking for ...

I forgot to set the timer.  So, somewhere around 30 minutes after lowering the temperature, I checked the bread. Perfect!

The Results
Homemade bread. Forgiving. Delicious. 


Bookmark and Share

Mac and Greens - Love in a single dish

Love. There are few things in life that that come close to feeling as good as love. Food, another four letter word, can spark us to wax poetic about our connection to something apart from ourselves.

Dinner tonight was the food equivalent of a crush. 

Our CSA share yielded a very tasty...but spicy bunch of purple mustard. (I ate one large leaf raw and it made my eyes water and nose itch.) It occurred to me that most Macaroni and Cheese concoctions use dry mustard power in the roux. Why not use sauteed mustard greens instead? (Okay, I realize this is not a novel idea. Someone can probably Google an entire website dedicated to mustard-pasta-cheese dishes.) Nonetheless, I was inspired.

The Method (Mac, Greens, and Cheese)
  1. Steam then sautee 8 C. raw, chopped purple mustard leaves until al dente. Set aside.
  2. Cook 1# short pasta (We used fusilli)
  3. Riffing on Alton Brown's M&C recipe, prepare a roux of 3TBs each flour and butter. Cook 5 mins.
  4. Add minced onion, paprika, 3 C. milk, cayenne pepper, bit of dry mustard, and a bay leaf. 
  5. Cook 10 mins or until thickened.
  6. Season with S&P.
  7. Stir in 1 1/2 C. grated cheese (We used Super Sharp Cheddar, Grana Padano, and regular cheddar)
  8. Once the cheese is incorporated, add in the sauteed mustard leaves.
  9. Pour mixture over cooked pasta spread in a baking dish.
  10. Cover with 1/2 C. grated cheese.
  11. Cover with slices of "real" tomatoes
  12. Cover with 1 C. crushed cheezit-type crackers (We used TLC brand) mixed with 3 TBs wheat bran and 3 TBs melted butter.
  13. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.

The Method (Arugula and Strawberry Salad)

Again, inspired by a recipe found on the Orchard Pond Organics (our CSA) website, I decided to return to a raw salad approach to arugula. 

  1. Roughly chop a large bunch of arugula (We each ended up with massive portions)
  2. Slice into this a pint of fresh strawberries
  3. Add cubed feta cheese (although goat's cheese would be an excellent choice)
  4. Drizzle with olive oil and balasamic.

The Result

Words fail when trying to describe how decadent this meal was. First, it was not overly cheesy. There was enough sauce to coat everything, yet not enough to sufficate all the other flavors and textures. The greens blended creamily with the cheese, but kept a little body - a terrific complement to the al dente pasta. Their spiciness was very muted, but infused the dish. Tomatoes as a topping? We decided this tasted like an amazing grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches.

This was definitely a - Where have you been all my life - dish!

The salad, too, was gorgeous! Five, fresh, bright flavors set against the melded (and melted) mac and cheese. The roughness of the arugula leaves contrasted with the soft pasta and greens. Strawberries peeking above everything with their tart fruitiness. Another winner. 

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, September 26, 2009

CSW Week 4

Week four. We've kept our commitment (more or less) to eating everything we've received and finding new ways to prepare each ingredient. The reappearance of arugula offers a challenge, as do the radishes and cucumbers. Purple mustard and kale had us contemplating - after our recent, delicious experiment with gnocci.(Special thanks to my now regular veggie washer for cleaning everything when it came home from the market.)

Bookmark and Share


A busy week resulted in a couple of nights eating leftovers and one dinner at Red Elephant. This, however, left us with a surplus of arugula and mizuna on the final evening before our next CSA share.

Enter the Gnocci.

I had recently found a recipe for kohlrabi gnocci in the Victory Garden Cookbook. The author suggested arugula as a substitute for the kohlrabi. It seemed that we could also include the mizuna. Sounds a bit strange perhaps, but I know there are many variations of this dish in traditional Italian cooking. Plus, we still have leftover lemon chicken - so we had a fallback option if they didn't turn out.

The Method

  1. Steam the arugula and mizuna (whole) until tender. (This pot reduced to 2 C.)
  2. Sautee the steamed leaves in butter (add garlic powder - we have no fresh)
  3. Puree the leaves with 1 C. ricotta, some nutmeg, S&P
  4. Bring 6 TB butter and 1 C. water to a boil
  5. Add 3/4 C. flour, mix until smooth and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes
  6. Incorporate 3 whole eggs into the flour mixture
  7. Combine pureed ricotta/leaves with the batter
  8. Add 3/4 C. grated Parmesan (we used Grana Padano plus Parm.)

The batter was thick and sticky. Using two spoons I began forming small "dumplings" and dropped them gently into a pot of salted, simmering water. The initial batch fell apart even with a very mild churning of the water. The leaves-to-flour ratio was too high. I ended up adding an additional 1/2 C flour to it to give it a little more body. With hindsight, I would have doubled the flour mixture for the amount of leaves I used. Also, I decided to make larger balls - about 1 1/2 - 2 inches. These held up much better during cooking. Each batch simmered for 15 minutes or so.

Drain the cooked gnocci and set them into cold water. When cool and firm, they sink. Transfer these to a butter-greased baking dish.

I sprinkled these with browned onions and a good handful of grated Grana Padano. They baked at 350 for about 20 minutes.

The Results

Batter difficulties aside, the gnocci were wonderful. A savory, soft - almost fluffy - texture. The choice of browned onions in place of a sauce was excellent. The flavor of the arugula and mizuna blended nicely with the cheese, nutmeg, and egg. (Remember, we are using free range chicken eggs from Twin Oaks Farm, which have a deep, rich yolk and a very fresh taste.) They didn't hold their shape well. Perhaps using potato in the batter (or simply increasing the amount of roux) would help.

The only downside to eating salad greens this way is the amount of time this recipe takes - it's far more involved than simply preparing a raw salad with dressing. But it was worth it.

We served another cucumber and tomato salad with this. There are precious few weeks left in real tomato season! (Sorry for the poor picture.)

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Flavors at Every Turn

We recently watched an old episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, which showcased a "joint" in Chicago that makes an oven-roasted lemon chicken. We have a similar recipe for the grill that uses a cast iron skillet. This was worth trying! (After all, grilling outside when it's 90+ and sticky isn't so fun after a long day.) We also had a number of OPO veggies to prepare. It was time for an all-or-nothing, weeknight cook-down.

The Method (Lemon Chicken)
  1. Preheat the oven to 450. (Yes, that hot.)
  2. Add chicken pieces to a roasting pan.
  3. Drizzle with canola oil and olive oil. (Toss about.)
  4. Season with S&P and dried thyme.
  5. Squeeze the juice of four lemons over the chicken.
  6. Roast for 30-35 minutes, turning once. (It was probably done sooner, but we like crispy chicken skin, and this didn't turn out dry at all.)
The Method (Veggie Trio)
  1. Okra' the Top
    • Saute onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil (okay, I forgot to buy garlic and used a hearty dose of garlic powder)
    • Add sliced okra, saute five minutes
    • Add fresh corn cut from the cob and two diced fresh tomatoes
    • Shake of salt and cayenne pepper
    • Add a TBish of brown sugar
    • Simmer until okra is tender
  2. Ankles and Greens
    • I brought to a boil a couple TBs of butter , some leftover chicken stock (maybe a little chicken fat accidentally fell into the pot), and the ham hock from our lima beans
    • Add a big ole' pile of collard greens roughly chopped
    • Cook until the greens are tender
  3. Beans, Oh Beans, How do we love thee?
    • Briefly microwave (leaving crisp) and cut OPO green beans, yellow wax beans into bite-sized lengths
    • Add a package of edamame and a can of kidney beans
    • Toss with a mixture of equal parts sugar, apple cider vinegar, and oil.
    • Refrigerate overnight (or longer)

The Results

This was a meal destined to satisfy every flavor and texture craving one might have. The chicken was tart, crispy, moist, and generally delicious. (La chat and le chien enjoyed some drippings mixed with their food, too.) Okra prepared this way is a family favorite (Thanks Aunt Rose!). I hadn't added brown sugar to the dish before, but that helped to offset the slightly aggressive sprinkling of cayenne pepper. If you think you dislike okra, here's yet another way to try it! Warm, a bit spicy, and comfortably nestled among sweet kernels of fresh corn - all in a fresh tomato sauce. 

Greens. As I've mentioned, while I love greens, they are not a favorite of all members of the household. Until tonight... Maybe it was the homemade chicken broth or the use of a held-over ham hock, which was less intensely smoky; maybe it was deciding to steam not boil...whatever the reason, the greens were a hit with everyone. Slightly salty with a little body remaining to them, they held their own.

The bean salad was terrific, too. Normally, we make this with canned beans. Using the fresh micro-blanched OPO green and yellow beans transformed this dish into crispy, crunchy fun by the fork-full. The kidney beans were soft, the edamame firm and almost chewy. This was a great substitute for a serving of starch.

Four fun and interesting dishes in one meal! (Plus a great way to eat our CSA bounty.)

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Gateau de Crepes

Don't let your children watch cooking shows. Or, at least be prepared to make at least one dish of the many they are convinced would be better than whatever you may have planned to cook. Jacques and Julia spent an entire episode making crepes, so it was inevitable that we would do the same this weekend. Could we make single crepes with fruit and whipped cream? No. Perhaps Crepes Suzette, requiring only a simple reduction of orange juice, sugar, and butter? No. We were informed that only a Gateau (cake) of crepes would do. Fortunately, we had the necessary ingredients at hand: milk, flour, eggs, butter, nuts, and a partial jar of homemade cherry jam from Grandma and Papa.The MethodThis is a dish, when first attempted, to be approached with confidence and teamwork. The crepe batter is very simple to prepare with a food processor. (1 C. milk, 1 C. water, four eggs, 2 C. flour, 4 TB melted butter). Blended on high speed for a minute and refrigerated (supposedly for two hours, we managed 10 minutes). 
Two hot skillets. One small cup of canola oil and a brush. Two adults cooking. Two children watching intently.
[=?utf-8?B?SU1HMDAyOTgtMjAwOTA5MjAtMTkwMS5qcGc=?=-761386]We made 23 crepes in the batch and laid them out to cool more quickly. These were then layered on a plate separated by pureed cherry jam and finely ground almonds.
The ResultThe gateau (like la chat and le chien) sat expectantly during dinner. I'm not certain which of us was most excited about reaching dessert.We spooned a homemade chocolate sauce over each serving, and added some flowers the kids picked while the fish was cooking. (Our apologies to the unnamed neighbor who lost the blooms.)The gateau was amazing! We managed 16 crepe layers, and the final product was dense, fruity, and a perfect foil for the semisweet chocolate. One child remarked, "The cherry jam really put a 'touch' to it!" As good as we'd hoped ... unfortunately, it appears to have confirmed for the kids that we CAN make anything they show on TV. Then again, having them think you can cook like a real chef...maybe that will convince them those hotdog and baked bean meals really are tasty!

Bookmark and Share

Halibut heaven

Halibut.Apart from the Monty Python sketch, it's not often I think about (an) Halibut - named Eric or otherwise. With a little fennel remaining from a salad of fennel, mushrooms, and Parmesan, I was interested in fish for dinner.

Our local seafood market had a marvelous fillet on ice, and I was determined to make something worthy of it.

The Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 400.
  2. Thinly slice some fennel and leeks.
  3. Add 3-4 TBs of olive oil to a baking dish, and the veggies.
  4. Roast until just beginning to brown.
  5. Make a cracker crust for the fish
    • whole wheat crackers (crushed)
    • paprika
    • ground fennel seed
  6. Egg wash the fillet and dredge.
  7. Place on top of the roasting veggies for 15 mins.
The Result
We served this with steamed green (bamboo) rice, which has a subtle herbaceous flavor, and the remaining seven (six) layer salad. A fantastic meal!

Bookmark and Share

Hankerin' - The story of a meal

Ever get a hankerin' for something? Wow, I wrote that and immediately thought of this:

We watched an episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives recently, only to decide that we don't eat enough fried chicken. There are good reasons for this, of course; not the least of which is that a single piece of the real deal probably sets you back several hundred calories and most of your daily fat allowance. Still, a hankerin' is hard to ignore. 

The Method
  1. Soak a cut-up fryer chicken for 2+ hours in a mixture of milk, heavy cream (leftover from making butter), a little lemon juice (we didn't have buttermilk), and a few TBs of hot sauce.
  2. Prepare seasoned flour. (We made this up. I'm sure there are amazing recipes for the coating.)
    • We used self-rising flour, but you could add baking powder to regular flour.
    • S&P to taste. (Didn't add enough of either. Next time...!)
    • Garlic powder
    • Whole wheat flour (maybe 1/4 of the white)
    • few TBs of wheat bran
  3.  Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture.
  4. Re-wet with the milk mixture.
  5. Re-dredge
  6. Cook 10-15 minutes in 1/2" of hot canola oil. (Again, shortening would work, as would other oils. We used the oil from our zeppoles.)
  7. Drain and cool.

The Result

It's probably wise not to satisfy hankerins very often...because in the middle of doing so it's very, very easy to convince yourself that something like fried chicken should be a regular part of your diet!

We served this with some lima beans cooked with a smoked ham hock, and a wonderful seven (or was it six?) layer salad to which we added the OPO radishes as a layer. Total comfort food. A perfect Saturday night dinner, although I doubt we could get up and go now

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Summer Glory

Those who have had a "real" tomato know that it is one of the great joys of summer. Sadly, this is an elusive find. Even the farmers' markets in our area are more likely to offer industrial tomatoes. 

The last few weeks have seen a few vendors selling the real thing! We have a small pile in the kitchen.

Lunch was comprised of leftovers (including the final piece of poached chicken with a bit of bunnies and greens), and this wonderful salad. OPO cucumber, tomato, olive oil, S&P, and a splash of red wine vinegar. This was a throwback to many meals with my family growing up when the garden was in full production!

We all nearly cried, it was so good.

Bookmark and Share

CSA Week 3

Forgot to bring our OPO bag with us today to the farmers' market. We learned that our friends at the CSA have two bags per member. (There  is more to running a CSA than simply growing the food. You have partners to manage, too!)

Today's share was large. One new item, the return of a previous one, and several favorites. An array of greenery. We're realizing how few green veggies we previously had in our diet beyond the typical broccoli, pea, and salads. 

The Bounty

  • Yellow wax beans
  • Arugula
  • Mizuna
  • Okra
  • Collard Greens
  • Carrots
  • Radishes
  • and eggs
Chuck gave her immediate approval to everything!

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bunnies and greens

The sudden appearance of the sock bunnies (or is it buddies?) meant that we could have brown rice for dinner. (Although I had to stealthfully de-rice them.) Time to eat some OPO greens! I wasn't entirely sure how to approach the preparation of sock-stored starch, so I decided to go for broke.

The Method
  • 2 C uncooked brown rice (poured from the socks)
  • 2 C greens
  • 3 1/2-4 C water
  • a hot pepper chopped
  • salt
  • garlic
  • butter
  • one leftover Sweet Georgia Brown chicken sausage, sliced
Place the rice, water, butter, and salt in the rice cooker. Add the other ingredients and mix them together lightly without disturbing the rice. Set to cook. 

The Result
We served this with leftover poached chicken and some fresh tomato on the side. Wonderful! I would reduce the water next time by 1/2 C to compensate for the liquid in the greens. The overall effect was a well-seasoned mixture without any single overpowering flavor. A great hit. We shall see, however, if the disappearance of the furry friends goes unnoticed.

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Crockpot cooking. What could be easier than putting a few ingredients in a dish and letting them slowly roast all day?

The Method
  • 1# roast (left over from Julia's boeuf bourguignon)
  • two carrots
  • stalk of celery
  • an onion
  • ground cloves (we're out of whole)
  • bay leaves
  • splash of red wine (Mad Dog & Englishmen)
  • 1 TB of vegetable stock base (Penzey's)
Last night:
  1. Lightly coat beef in seasoned flour and brown
  2. Remove beef, add veggies and soften
  3. Deglaze the pan with a little water, veggie base
  4. Refrigerate veggies, beef, and liquid overnight
  1. Add all ingredients, including spices and wine to crockpot
  2. Set to low for 10 hours
  3. Enjoy with OPO green beans and Anadama bread
The Results
The kids finished their dinner before we did.  Not a definitive indicator of "tasty," but certainly suggestive of a successful dish.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dinner in quarters

Dinner tonight was catch-as-catch-can. I had plans to make greens and rice, but found we had run out of brown rice. (Evidently, there's an unfinished "sock buddy" somewhere in the house that contains the last two cups.) A little pantry scrounging turned up some Bhutanese Red Rice. This has a very firm texture and a nutty flavor - a short, stocky version of wild rice. 

I steamed the rice with chicken broth leftover from the chicken and radishes. A basket of fresh brussel sprouts, a favorite of our kids, sat above to steam. Sweet Georgia Brown chicken sausage from the Fresh Market added protein. A fine salad of OPO arugula, mizuna, and cucumber, along with romaine, dill, and green pepper appeared, too. 

Tuesday's are perfect evenings for a glass of wine. Tonight, we're having Mad Dogs & Englishmen - a blend of Monatrell, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Shiraz: A real find for $12.

Oh, and we had baby raccoons removed (humanely and released) from our attic this afternoon. Waiting for the mom to return, enter the trap, and be reunited with the babies at the conservation area. (Thank you, Mike!)

Bookmark and Share

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday Night Dinner

Tonight we enjoyed the payoff for earlier cooking. Monday is always a busy day, everyone settling back into work and school. We have an event at the kids' school, so it's a perfect night for leftovers.

The Anadama bread was as good as hoped. Dense, hearty, and flavorful. The molasses gives it a slightly sweet flavor - perfect to pair with a salad of spicy mizuna and lettuce plus homemade caesar dressing (yes, raw egg and all).

The soup was creamy and delicious. I could have doubled or tripled the radish greens. 6-8 cups would have been fine.

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Anadama bread and a pepper

Decided to make a "Anadama Bread" today to go with the Radish Top Soup.  This is a molasses and cornmeal based bread with wholewheat and white flour. It was a bear to knead - a good workout for the arms. But that's part of the joy of bread. The finished product looks wonderful. Great crust. Heavy in the hand. 

We'll have slices with the soup and perhaps later with the chicken leftovers. 

No OPO ingredients in the bread. But I did make bratwurst and used hot peppers in the onions - they added just a bit of kick.  Then again, brats need little to make them fabulous!

Bookmark and Share

Radish Top Soup

A good broth is easy to make and worth the effort - what little it requires! Our freezer fills up with various bones and trimmings, which eventually find their way into a simmering pot. (Usually upon the demands of a particular person.) I was intrigued by the Victory Garden Cookbook recipe for radish top soup. This seemed a promising way to use the leaves, which you'll recall were partly responsible for our earlier radish conversion experience. Here, I was left with the chance to use them apart from the root. Personally, I like greens of all sorts - spinach, collards, mustard, even pumpkin leaves ("mnkhwani ndi mtedza" - pumpkin leaves with peanut flour). Radish leaves are also spicy with a slightly "fuzzy" texture. That makes them the perfect addition to a creamy soup like leek and potato.

The Method
  1. Simmer quartered potatoes in 6 C. good chicken stock (leftover from poached chicken)
  2. Sautee sliced leeks in several TBs of good butter until lightly browned
  3. Wilt the roughly chopped radish leaves and stems (washed of course) with the leeks
  4. After 5-6 minutes, add the leeks and leaves to the potatoes
  5. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low for 10 minutes
  6. Puree the veggies and slowly add stock, cream, and a little butter until you have a smooth consistency.
  7. Season with S&P and enjoy.
The Result
We have a quart of excellent soup in the fridge for later eating. I guess this is a good excuse to make some whole grain bread today. After a breakfast of zeppoles, a dinner of soup and salad may be in order - but Sundays are made for grilling. 

Bookmark and Share

Weekends are for cooking

On the weekends, we like to prepare several dishes that can hold us over during the week when there is less time for cooking. Looking to the radishes, I decided to steam-boil them until tender and serve them with an oven-poached chicken and lima beans. Preparing radishes this way cuts their bite and crunch a good bit. The sauce is a reduction of chicken broth, butter (a lot), and cream with lemon juice. The chicken was simmered and poached with white wine, broth, and an herb bouquet; the limas went into the pot about a half-hour before serving. I normally use homemade chicken broth, but turned to an unsalted version from the store. I simmered it with onions, OPO carrots, and celery.

The Result

The combination of the moist, savory chicken, slightly crisp and spicy radishes, just firm limas, and the tangy & buttery sauce was wonderful! I would use a little less lemon juice next time, and probably keep the broth veggies with the chicken. All-in-all, a solid dish. (Plus plenty of leftovers!)

But, you may ask, what did you do with the remaining broth?

Bookmark and Share

CSA Week 2

Mary Phipps, our CSA "farmer", was waiting yesterday at the local farmers' market with our second week's share. 

  • carrots
  • watermelon
  • radishes
  • green beans
  • cucumbers
  • greens
We see the reprisal of radishes and watermelon, and the arrival of several new items - one, as yet, unidentified (lower right corner...I know I should ask Mary what they are). Yes, Chuck perused the produce and started to eat the radish leaves. Looks like we are set for a week of good eats!

We're trying not to repeat methods of preparation for the same ingredient, so we'll need to look at other options.

Bookmark and Share

Delicious meals one after the other

The busy week prevented us from talking about the many other marvelous meals we prepared with our first share. (We also found many of our pictures were mysteriously deleted .)

Basil - We are passionate about pesto in our family, so several large plants worth of basil was easily transformed into a scrumptious Pesto Risotto. (Risotto, for the uninitiated, is a labor of love - but well-worth the effort.) Good arborio rice, homemade butter, and chopped onions sauteed. Add hot chicken broth and white wine. Stir. Stir. Broth. Stir. Stir. One hour later, add the pesto and freshly grated Parmesan. We served this alongside beautiful seared sea scallops and a simple salad. The leftovers made two other meals during the week. 

Arugula - We haven't purchased arugula before, but probably have had it served to us in restaurants. At first, I wasn't exactly certain what it even was. The flavor is reminiscent of two things we do enjoy often: mustard and horseradish. We decided to add it in good measure to our nightly salads, dressed with a basic vineagrette of red wine vinegar, lime juice, garlic, salt, and some excellent olive oil. Again, this was a hit.

Watermelon - It's Florida. Hot and sticky well into the fall months. How would you satisfy the snack requests for a houseful of children and their friends? Slabs of chilled melon kept everyone happy and cool. The seeds not used in several spitting contests found their way into some concoction I still don't understand. Two of the older kids decided to combine water, dish soap, watermelon seeds, green glitter, and yellow food coloring. Apparently there was a plan to use this to spook the littler ones, but one is often left to ponder the ways of children.

Hot Peppers - Here was a great opportunity to use two CSA items in one meal. Imagine, fluffy scrambled eggs - made with just a sprinkling of salt & pepper - served with zesty sautéed tomatoes and minced pepper. We had this along with homemade croissants (yes, the stick of butter, 12-hours of labor variety). 

Okra - As a transplanted family with a born-and-raised southern mom, we enjoy southern dishes. Okra, however, is for many an acquired taste. We often prepare it with tomatoes and corn to make a wonderful side dish. Various New Orleans-inspired dishes also use okra in ways that we enjoy. The challenge was to find a different approach. Enter the Okra and Ground Beef Casserole (Victory Garden Cookbook). We don't eat much red meat, and using a stick of butter, several eggs, and 1/2 cup of Parmesan to make a roux topping for this layered dish means that one should probably only have this a few times per year; but this was a winner.

Bookmark and Share
Kudya Bwino Bwino (Eating Well) © 2009