Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ideas for Local/Now Produce

I am four weeks into my CSA.  Above I have the first, third, and fourth weeks of produce.  Right now I am enjoying the fourth week.  From left to right in the bottom photo, I got beets, gigantic dandelion greens, collards, kale, two broccoli, escarole, two bok choy, two red leaf lettuce, radishes, salad turnips, garlic scapes, and some chives (chives didn't come with CSA).

I love greens.  And I am not just saying that.  The salad greens, so far, have changed my life.  I look forward to the days immediately following my CSA pick up because that is when we consume all the lettuce.  I have made many different salads, but haven't photographed them all.  Here are a few ideas if you are needing some:

A BBQ Seitan salad.  I made this twice actually.  This is some romaine and green leaf lettuce (my favorite).  Mixed with some thawed frozen corn, rinsed black beans, diced red pepper or roasted red pepper, finely diced red onion, and diced avocado (just put avocado on top, don't toss with the rest) tossed in a creamy yogurt with fresh herb dressing.  For the Seitan, simply slice, pan fry in a skillet with olive oil and toss with BBQ sauce.  We also ate with some cheese quesadillas (whole wheat tortillas grilled with cheese inside).

A Shaved Salad.  A great way to eat delicious, delicate salad greens is to do a shaved salad.  Using a mandolin or mad knife skills, thinly slice a tart apple, celery (do it even if you think you hate celery), and red onion.  Scatter of lettuce and dress with an herb yogurt dressing and some crumbled goat cheese.  It is SO refreshing.  I could eat it every day.

Other salads we have been enjoying:

Greek ish - lettuce, chickpeas, fresh goat's milk feta, thinly sliced red onion, roasted red peppers, diced cucumber tossed with a red wine vinaigrette.

Cherry dressing - Lettuce, goat cheese, salad turnips, chopped broccoli, chives, almonds tossed with a cherry vinaigrette (cherry jam, dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper).

Green pizza.  I cooked down an entire bunch of kale and an entire bunch of spinach from our week 2 CSA (just chopped them up and sauteed them in olive oil).  I dried the greens a bit by pouring them onto a kitchen towel.  Then, using a whole wheat pizza dough from Whole Foods, I topped it with cilantro pesto (bought from Whole Foods), fresh mozzarella, fresh goat's milk feta packed in liquid, ALL the greens, thinly sliced red onion.  It was SO delicious.  Two whole bunches of greens on one pizza.  You could grill this since it will soon be way too hot for pizza in the oven.

Puree those greens.  Saute the greens in olive oil and then add a rinsed and rained can of white beans (like Cannelloni, Navy, or even Pinto would be fine).  Puree until smooth and season with salt and pepper.  Here I used collards and Cannelloni beans and also flavored it up with some of the cilantro pesto.  I topped it with some fatty white fish.

Stir fry!  An obvious use for all the produce that grows right now is stir fry.  Which seems boring, but by switching up the sauce, you can do a lot.  Here I have cooked up all the bok choy with some onion and red peppers.  I also did a shallow pan fry of some extra firm tofu that has been drenched in corn starch.  The sauce here is a sweet and sour (mix 1/3 c. red wine vinegar, 1/3 cup orange juice, 1 tbsp honey, 3 tbsp ketchup, 1 tsp cornstarch, 1/2 tsp salt).

Another sauce option is a curry:  1 cup coconut milk, 1 tbsp fish sauce, 2 tsp Thai curry paste, 1 tsp packed brown sugar, and 1 tsp corn starch.  I made this with some of the other greens and added smoked tofu (which tasted like hot dogs, so don't use that).  Both of these are from (with some modification) Cook's Illustrated magazine.  For either of these, whisk together in a bowl and add to the stir fried veggies at the end and just cook until warmed through.  Make sure to stir fry your veggies in batches.  If you keep adding more to the pan, they steam and aren't as flavorful.

A warm cabbage slaw.  Here I sautee shredded savoy cabbage with some other dark greens (a type of kale, I believe).  It also has some carrots, onions, and shredded green apple.  I seasoned the slaw with soy sauce and rice vinegar.  I topped it with a fried egg (runny yolk).

Green Chips.  It is almost like cheating.  You just tear the leaves up, toss with some olive oil, salt and pepper.  Spread out on a sheet pan and bake in the oven until crispy.  Lower over temp is better, like 350.  But they work in any temp really.  I made these kale chips with these Roasted Mustard Potatoes, which were amazing.  I could easily eat like two bunches of kale like this in one sitting.  Easily.

Roasted kale, potatoes, and tempeh tossed with parmesan and lemon.  Here I roasted the kale, tempeh, and potatoes (all separately-ish, since they take different amounts of time).  I think I roasted the potatoes and then added the kale at the end.  I think I might have browned the tempeh in a skillet.  Then, I just tossed them all with some lemon juice and parmesan.  This is an old recipe I never posted.

Smoked Salmon, Kale Carbonara - Add your greens to some whole wheat pasta!  I used Cara's recipe here (with some modification).  Really delicious.  I also have made Eats Well with Other's recipe for White Bean and Kale pasta.  It was another great, fast pasta dish with kale.  I made the smoked salmon carbonara when Birk was only a few weeks old and remember eating it almost 100% cold while feeding him in my arms.  Why I took the time to take a blurry photo is beyond me!

I think you are getting the theme.  With the salad greens, you pretty much have to make salad.  Try to be creative.  Add beans and nuts for protein.  Cheese.  With the dark greens, there are so many options but you must add some fat.  If you want to be hard core, fine.  Eat dark greens straight up in your face. But I am telling you, it isn't sustainable.  You will eventually give up on eating greens and will only eat french fries the rest of your life (sounds threatening).  You will see a theme with my greens...cheese, potatoes, fatty fish, coconut milk, tofu, an egg.  It needs that balance in my opinion.  Also adding acid really helps balance out the bitter.

For the rest of the meals we have had with our Local/Now produce, I hope to share a detailed recipe with you.  We have tried some good recipes lately!  Also, it has been bothering me that I am cooking with all these greens but then buying things like cucumbers and red peppers at the grocery store to make things a little more exciting.  Am I a horrible person for relying on these out of season veggies?  Will I be able to live with myself.  Stay tuned to find out.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Kohlrabi, Three Ways

Two week ago, I received my first batch of kohlrabi in the CSA.  Kohlrabi is not new to me.  When I sold veggies at the market for Gene, I would work the kohlrabi like no body else out there.  Almost every single person asked me what they could do with kohlrabi.  I said "you can cook it like a potato or eat it raw in a salad."  What does it taste like?  "Sort of a cross between a potato and an apple."  Now, I would add that it does have some slight bitterness than neither apples, nor potatoes have.  Kohlrabi is cheap.  And probably easy to grow, not that I know anything about that.  So eat it up!

My CSA is fancy so we got the purple kohlrabi, which you can see in the far left in the pic above and in the pic below.  I thought it might be purple on the inside, but it was just regular on the inside.  And there is the rest of our CSA from this past week (we got kohlrabi two weeks in a row!)  Can you believe how much produce we got?  We scarfed our salad greens (curly endive, red and green leaf lettuce, salad mix) in a matter of days.  Then moved to the dark greens (collards and kale), ate those up in a few days.  Also got some little broccoli heads, savoy cabbage, and garlic scapes.

 A lot of my CSA goes into salads, stir fry, pizzas, and other things I whip together off the top of my head.  That is what I love about the CSA box.  And I get giddy when Tuesday comes around and I get to go pick ours up.  Like butterflies in my stomach.  IT HAS BEEN SO DELICIOUS.

This dish is a perfect example of something I would never make if I didn't get a CSA box.  It was good!  The name of the dish is in honor of every dish on Chopped or Top Chef.  The base of the dish is a puree of the kohlrabi greens and white beans.  Our farm takes such good care of the produce we get.  The greens are always impeccable.  I find a lot of times beet greens or any of those other turnipy greens don't look so hot.  But all the produce I have gotten so far has been basically perfect.  Next is a fritter made from the bulb.  On top of that is a little fresh kohlrabi lightly dressed with olive oil and vinegar and some fresh basil.

My next plan to show you what I have been doing with my CSA.  Hopefully that will give you some ideas of how to use all the stuff that is currently growing (greens!)

Kohlrabi, Three Ways
by foodforscot

2 kohlrabi bulbs and greens
salt and pepper
olive oil, for shallow frying
1st way:
a small handful of basil, julienned fine
1 tsp of white wine vinegar
1 tsp of olive oil
2nd way:
1 14.5 oz. can of Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
handful of grated parmesan cheese
3rd way:
1 egg
~¼ cup potato flour (or any flour)

Cut off the bulbs from the greens. Wash the bulbs and greens. Peel the bulbs with a sharp knife or a peeler.

1st way: Prepare the fresh salad. Julienne approximately ½ of one of the kohlrabi bulbs. Toss with salt, pepper, basil, olive oil, and white wine vinegar.

2nd way: Make pureed beans and greens. Remove tough stems from kohlrabi greens and roughly chop the leaves. In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, add kohlrabi greens, beans, and a small amount of water (enough that you can see it but do not cover beans and greens). Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let cook until beans are tender and some of the water has evaporated off. Add more water as needed. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth (or put in food processor or blender). Mix in a handful of parmesan and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

3rd way: Make fritters. Shred the rest of the kohlrabi bulbs (1.5 bulbs) using the largest side of a box grater. Toss grated kohlrabi with salt, pepper, egg, and half the flour. Continue adding flour until mixture sticks together enough to maintain its shape when frying.

Preheat a skillet with a healthy amount of olive oil over medium high heat. Pan fry the shredded kohlrabi mixture until golden brown on each side. When done, let drain on a paper towel lined plate. Should make approximately six fritters.

Assemble: Place half of the bean/greens mixture in a wide bowl. Top with three fritters. Top fritters with fresh salad.

(Servings: 2, Prep time: 30 min, Cook time: 30 min., Difficulty: Intermediate)

Printable Version

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  9/10
Scot (taste):  9/10
Effort:  3/5
Dishwashing Effort:  3/5

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Dandelion Tart

Two summers ago, I made a huge discovery.  Something biologists, botanists, teachers, plant experts, grandmothers, and five year old children have known all along.  The yellow dandelions are the same as the blowy dandelions.  How do I go throughout life...aware, alert, engaged, and let's face it, basically a genius, without recognizing this?

But for the 20 (that is a stretch) of you that read my blog, I wanted to make sure that this doesn't happen to you.  My friends have told me something along the lines of: "don't bother.  everyone knows they are both dandelions and you will just embarrass yourself."  I am telling you anyway!  I also just realized anyways isn't a word.  Please erase all instances of it on this blog pre-right now.  If I ever thought about it, I would know it was not a word.  I blame my use of it on my little sister who, in her early teens, would respond to my questions with "anyways."  Like that was the only word in the response.  Such baditude!  Example:  "hey cindy, how's your boyfriend?  can i meet him?  what is his favorite color?" gets the response, "anyways..."

So when I got dandelion greens in my CSA this past week, I was haunted by these dandelion memories.  I want to write more about my CSA later.  Early summer (or "spring" as some people call it) brings lots of greens.  I saw someone on FB post what they got in their CSA box and it incuded tomatoes, red peppers, fruit, a head of lettuce wrapped in plastic, and a lot more.  Well.  Ok.  They must live in magic land.  But whatever, if getting a box of surprise produce gets you cooking and eating veggies...I guess I don't really care where it comes from.  Mine comes from about 15 minutes away and IT IS THE CUTEST FARM EVER.

I cooked up all the greens I got in various ways.  I will try to post what I did with our huge box of greens.  But if you have any dark greens to eat up, try making a tart (or even a frittata if you want something quicker).  This tart is a whole wheat, olive oil, yeasted crust.  Considering I don't make tarts often, I can't really provide any proof that this was delicious.  I believe most tarts are made with butter, white flour, and no yeast.  The dough was extremely easy to work with.  I just mixed with a wooden spoon, kneaded a few times by hand, let it rise for an hour, and shoved it into a pie pan (I don't have a tart pan).

The inside of the tart is filled with a big bunch of blanched dandelion greens, mushrooms, Gruyere cheese, milk, and eggs.  I like that the whole tart only has 3 eggs, rather than a frittata which might have 9 or so.  There are a lot more veggies and then the crust is more substance.  I love to serve things like this with a green salad  (dressed with a mustardy vinaigrette).  You can use up your salad greens too!  Thanks to my local Sporthill Farm CSA for sharing this recipe with us!

Dandelion Tart
by Martha Rose Shulman via NYTimes

1 generous bunch dandelion greens, about 12 ounces
salt to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
6 mushrooms, sliced (about 1 cup sliced mushrooms)
1 or 2 garlic cloves (to taste), green shoots removed, minced
4 large or extra large eggs (I used 3 large eggs for my pie pan)
3/4 cup low-fat milk (I used between 1/2 and 3/4 of almond milk)
Freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup Gruyère cheese, grated (3 ounces)
1 yeasted olive oil crust (I used a pie pan)

Cut the tough stems from the dandelion greens, about 1 inch from the bottom, and wash in two changes of water. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and fill a bowl with ice water. When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the dandelion greens. Blanch four minutes and transfer to the ice water. Drain, squeeze out excess water and chop.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about five minutes, and add a pinch of salt and the mushrooms. Cook, stirring, for four to five minutes, until the mushrooms have softened and the onions are golden. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then stir in the dandelion greens. Stir together for a minute, and remove from the heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Brush the bottom of the pastry shell, and place in the preheated oven for five minutes. Remove from the oven. Whisk the milk into the eggs, add 1/2 teaspoon salt, freshly ground pepper to taste and stir in the cooked vegetables and cheese. Turn into the crust. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until set and the top is lightly browned. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for 15 minutes before serving. Serve hot or warm.

(Servings: 6, Prep time: 2 hrs, Cook time: 1 hr, Difficulty: Easy)

Whole Wheat Yeasted Olive Oil Pastry

Yeasted crusts are more rustic than French-style short crusts. They’re also easier to manipulate — they don’t crack and tear. Remember to roll this out thinly so that it doesn’t become too bready.

2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature, beaten
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup whole wheat flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour and I have no idea what the difference is)
1 cup unbleached flour (more as needed)
3/4 teaspoon salt

Dissolve the yeast in the water, add the sugar, and allow to sit until the mixture is creamy, about five minutes. Beat in the egg and the olive oil. Combine the flours and salt, and stir into the yeast mixture. You can use a bowl and wooden spoon for this, or a mixer — combine the ingredients using the paddle. Work the dough until it comes together in a coherent mass, adding flour as necessary. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead gently for a few minutes, adding flour as necessary, just until the dough is smooth — do not overwork it. Shape into a ball. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover the dough tightly with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a draft-free spot until doubled in size, about one hour.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, gently knead a couple of times, and cut into two equal pieces (or as directed in each of this week’s recipes). Shape each piece into a ball without kneading it. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap, and let rest for five minutes. Then roll out into thin rounds, as directed in each recipe, and line pans. If not using right away, freeze the dough to prevent it from rising and becoming too bready. The dough can be transferred directly from the freezer to the oven.

Printable Version

foodforscot Ratings: 

Shanon (taste):  9/10
Scot (taste):  7/10
Effort:  4/5
Dishwashing Effort:  4/5

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Vermont Grilled Sandwich

We spent last weekend in Grafton, VT.  It is a cozy town in the Green Mountains.  It is quiet, peaceful, and simple.  You don't have to use Yelp to find a restaurant because there are only a few options.  And they are all good.  Everyone was friendly but not in an annoying, touristy way.  They just seemed so content and happy doing what they do.  It was a gentle kindness.  We felt so relaxed and comfortable all weekend.  

We did some hiking, hiked to a waterfall, visited a dairy farm (to eat ice cream and see cows, which are fairly disgusting animals), had a bonfire, survived 90+ degrees,  stayed in the cutest cabin, bought VT cheddar cheese, dined easy.  

I brought home way too many local VT goods.  Maple Smoked Cheddar Cheese.  Mango Habanero jelly.  (Also a million gallons of maple syrup.)  I always I hate when I find a recipe that calls for weird, impossible to find ingredients.  That is exactly what this recipe is.  Are you going to drive to Grafton, VT to buy the ingredients to make this sandwich?  No.  Don't do that.  

Let me tell you the important parts of this sandwich.  First, tempeh on sandwiches is delicious.  It gives vegetarian sandwiches some substance.  Second, smoked cheese tastes like ham.  Third, spicy jelly on sandwiches is real good.  Maybe I should call this jam.  Jam is a much more pleasant word.  Anyways, this mango habanero jam has all the flavor from the habanero without it being overly spicy.  I don't know how they do it, but it is currently my new favorite thing.  

I crave sandwiches all the time.  I love sandwiches.  We often associate sandwiches with a sandwich place because they are actually not super easy to make at home.  You need freshly baked bread, a sauce, some good cheese, and the prepared fixings.  That is what you need if you want a sandwich equivalent to one you would find at a shop.  They are not always easy to throw together.  Once you prepare each individual component, it can take a while and be expensive if you aren't willing to continue eating the same sandwich several times later to use up all the leftovers.  But, I have realized that good vegetarian sandwiches are hard to find a local sandwich shop.  I will even say...they suck.  Typically you can choose from:

1.  Caprese sandwich (good, but not really a true sandwich)
2.  Egg salad sandwich (also just a different kind of sandwich)
3.  Grilled cheese (get out of here)
4.  Grilled, soggy veggies on bread (let's be honest, no one likes you)

So I have pretty much given up on finding a good vegetarian sandwich anywhere but in my own kitchen.  Most restaurants know they need a vegetarian option but don't give it any respect.  Somewhere "vegetarian" got translated to "I hate my life, don't worry about it."

Also, I am planning to become more a "jam person".  I don't like non-homemade jams.  Never have.  Will I make jam?  Probably not.  But I will eat it.  

To all my Vermont peeps, much love.  

Vermont Grilled Sandwich
by foodforscot

3 slices of tempeh, smokey maple bacon flavor
2 slices of Seeduction bread (a whole grain, nutty bread made at WFM)
1 tbsp of salted butter
1-2 tbsp of mango habanero jelly
2 slices of maple smoked Vermont cheddar
handful of spinach
½ of a roasted red pepper

Prepare all your sandwich fixings. First, slice the bread. Butter one side of each slice. Slice the cheese and remove rind. Cut the roasted red pepper.

Heat a non-stick skillet or griddle over medium heat. Add a little olive oil and brown the tempeh a few minutes on each side. Remove from heat and set aside.

Pick up one of the buttered pieces of bread and slather the jelly on the non-buttered side. Place the slice of bread, butter side down, in the same pan you used to sauté the tempeh. Put a single layer of the cheese on top of the jelly. Then layer on the tempeh, spinach, and roasted red pepper, in that order. Finally, add another single layer of cheese and place the other piece of bread, butter side up, on top. Grill until first side is golden brown. Flip and grill the other side until golden brown.

Once bread is toasty and cheese is melty, remove sandwich and place on a cutting board. Let set for a few minutes. Cut in half. Serve with a pickle.

(Servings: 1, Prep time: 10 min., Cook time: 15 min., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  8/10
Scot (taste):  8/10
Effort:  1/5
Dishwashing Effort:  1/5

Monday, June 3, 2013

Chocolate Cake with Avocado Peanut Butter Frosting

Things have happened.  I have thought about my blog come back on and off for the past year.  Where have I been?  Nowhere in particular that forced me to stop blogging.  I just fell of the wagon and never got back on.  Now a lot has happened and I don't know where to start.

I was impregnated.  Grew a baby.  Now, we have little Birk Oliver!

He can't eat food yet, but it sure will be fun when he can.  I am quite enjoying him being the adorable baby that he is, so I am in no rush.  
So, that was one big thing that happened.  The other...Scot and I have crossed over to the vegetarian world.  We have always been so close.  But now we are closer.  We basically don't eat meat anymore.  For all practical purposes, we are vegetarians.  For the unpractical purposes, I talk Scot into eating bacon with me zero, once, or twice a month.

The thing is...Scot is a much better vegetarian than me.  He would probably never eat meat again if it weren't for me.  Something I would have never predicted when I met 21 year old Scot.  Little Birk will now grow up vegetarian.

What is worse, we feel guilty eating any animal protein (kidding about the worse thing).  Not that it stops us.  We have done little things like replacing our milk with almond milk.  Thinking more about whether dairy is necessary for different dishes.  We have experimented with vegan favorites like chia seeds instead of eggs, coconut oil, non-dairy milks, etc.

What I am trying to say is...please don't be scared away!  I am still a true foodie.  Cooking vegetarian is easy.  Cooking vegan is actually fascinating.  I am still mostly human.

This year for Scot's birthday, he tasked me with the impossible.  Make him a cake that is healthy so that when he eats a piece everyday for the week following...he doesn't feel AS guilty.  What does healthy mean?  Vegan.  And no white sugar or flour.  So gross, basically.

I told him I couldn't do the refined flour/sugar thing.  It is your birthday not national diabetes awareness day.  But I almost achieved the goal.

I ended up making a chocolate cake.  It is sweetened with maple syrup.  The fat comes from an avocado.  Flour is of the whole wheat variety.  It was a solid chocolate cake.  I underbaked it on purpose and it was anything but dry.

For frosting, I made an avocado frosting.  This has been on my radar for about 5 years.  Replace the butter in frosting with an avocado.  I was most excited to have a beautiful green frosting.  This limited the additional flavor additions.  I ended up going with peanut butter and avocado frosting since it would leave the green.  I would imagine a chocolate avocado frosting would be delicious too, but not green.  Since I used freshly ground peanuts, my frosting was not as smooth as the original.

The frosting recipe is a recommendation at best.  And it has the one nasty, illegal ingredient:  powdered sugar!  Hopefully we survive.

In true foodforscot fashion, I made this late at night.  So enjoy the horrible photos!  But seriously, Scot did very much enjoy his birthday cake.  He ate the entire thing, except the one piece I had on his birthday.  It is really everything Scot is about in cake form.

PS:  Scot is the father.

Chocolate Cake with Avocado Peanut Butter Frosting
adapted from The Diva Dish

For cake:
1.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 avocado, mashed
1 cup almond milk
¾ cup maple syrup
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
handful of chocolate chips (optional)

For Frosting:
1 avocado, mashed
1-2 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tbsp almond milk
½ cup peanut butter (I used freshly ground)

For Cake: Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients until combined. Make sure avocado isn’t lumpy (it will probably be a little lumpy, just saying).

Add wet to dry and mix until incorporated.

Pour into a greased 8-inch cake pan and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes (check every few minutes after 20 until done).

Once cake is done, remove from oven and let cool completely.

For Frosting: Blend all the ingredients in a food processor until creamy.

Spread frosting on cake and sprinkle with some chocolate jimmies!

(Servings: 6-8, Prep time: 30 min., Bake time: 30 min., Frost time: 20 min., Difficulty: Easy)

Printable Version

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste): 6/10
Scot (taste): 8/10
Effort: 1/5
Dishwashing Effort: 2/5