Thursday, August 28, 2008
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
4 medium sized cucumbers (I only had regular cukes, no pickling cukes)
1 Tablespoon pickling salt
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon tumeric
2 or 3 sprigs of fresh dill
2 cloves garlic
1 serrano pepper
Thinly slice cucumbers and place in a large bowl. Add salt, mix, and place in the refrigerator for 90 minutes to 3 hours (no need to be exact...I forgot about mine!).
Place cucumbers in a colander and rinse under cold water, then return to the bowl.
Peel and crush garlic cloves. Cut the serrano pepper in half and remove seeds.
In a medium saucepan, place all remaining ingredients (except the cucumbers). Bring to a boil over medium heat and stir until all the sugar dissolves. Take my advice and do not put your face over the boiling vinegar. And if you do, certainly don't take a big breath. Just my two cents, based on hard-learned experience!
Pour the boiling vinegar mixture over the cucumbers. Cover, refrigerate, and wait around 24 hours. Then voila! Magic occurs, and those cucumbers have become pickles! Keep refrigerated and eat within 2 weeks. Or 5 days, if you're us.
These pickles were surprisingly good. I took them to a picnic, and overheard a couple of elementary school kids talking about how good they were. And how sweet they were. These pickles are pretty sweet, which isn't a big surprise given the huge quantity of sugar in the recipe. The longer the pickles sat in the fridge, the more sour they became. So if you don't like very sweet pickles, you may want to give it a few days before you try them.
On an unrelated note, one of my favorite eggplant dishes is Baba Ghanoush. However, I've never been able to find a recipe that is anywhere near as good as our favorite, which sadly is from a restaurant in Atlanta. Not exactly some place we can just pop in when the urge takes us. So in my ongoing quest to find a great Baba Ganoush recipe, I tried one from The Figs Table by Todd English and Sally Sampson. I was intrigued by this recipe as it included mint, an ingredient I never thought to try in Baba Ganoush. I made a few minor changes to the recipe:
4 Chinese Eggplants
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons tahini
Juice of one lemon
8 mint leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
minced scallions, lemon zest, and additional olive oil for garnishing
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prick egglants all over with a fork, then rub with olive oil. Place on a cookie sheet, and roast in the oven, turning once, for approximately 30 minutes (until soft...depends on the size of your eggplant). Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 10 mintues.
Peel the garlic cloves and throw into a blender (or large food processor if you're lucky enough to have one. My mini just didn't seem up to the challenge of four eggplants!). Cut then ends off each eggplant, cut a slit down the side of each eggplant, and peel the skin off with your fingers. Add the flesh of the eggplant to the blender. Add the tahini and blend until smooth. You'll have to stop and use a rubber spatula to mix the ingredients around from time to time.
Add the lemon juice, mint leaves, salt, and pepper, and continue blending (and stirring when necessary) until the mint leaves have been completely incorporated.
Chill covered in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
Remove to a plate, drizzle with a small amount of olive oil, and garnish with scallions and lemon zest. Serve with pita bread for dipping.
We enjoyed this recipe, although it still didn't quite live up to our restaurant favorite. The mint was a very interesting addition, and this worked just fine with Chinese Eggplant (the original recipe called for one regular eggplant). While this was good, though, I'll probably keep searching for the elusive "perfect" Baba Ghanoush.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
They are then placed in a baking dish and topped with polenta and cheese. (Photo is taken before baking.)
This is a really comforting dish, and our kids were more open to it than they are to other all-mushed-together foods because the polenta and cheese part, at least (yes, the less-healthy part!), almost tastes like a mini-pizza. They ate some of the veggies, but like many of my casserole-type things, alas, it would be better to keep some zucchini and squash separate so that they can eat those without the influence of the spicy pepper, chili powder and garlic.
Here is a picture of the yummy but messy-looking leftovers, of which there are plenty:
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
I guess I thought of a few more ingredients!
3 ears corn
20 or so cherry tomatoes
10 leaves of basil
Splash of olive oil
Slightly larger splash of balsamic vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
Shuck corn, removing all corn silk. Boil the corn for about 2 minutes. Place in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and cool them down. When they are cool, cut off the kernels (be careful, the corn may be hotter near the cob). Put the corn kernels into a bowl.
Cut cherry tomatoes in half and add to the bowl with the corn.
Mince the fresh basil, and add to the bowl. Splash in some olive oil and balsamic vinegar, add a few cracks of pepper and salt, give it a stir, and you're done. If you have time, let it sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour to let the flavors develop. Or just eat it right away.
We all enjoyed this, although I wasn't that happy with the visual appeal of the dish. Our corn from the CSA was very light this week, nearly white without any sprinklings of yellow. And we had picked mostly golden cherry tomatoes at the farm (I rooted through the salad to get some of the few red cherry tomatoes in the picture above). The balsamic vinegar almost made the light colors look muddy. I don't know, this is all aesthetics...it tasted just fine. But if I was making it again, I'd look for yellower corn and redder tomatoes. Or I'd try a red wine vinegar instead of balsamic. It needs something to brighten up the colors of the dish to match the bright, fresh flavor. Let me know if you figure it out!
This week I also made the chocolate chip zucchini cookies mentioned in Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I followed the recipe exactly, so I won't reprint it here, and I have to say while they were okay, I was a bit disappointed. The cookies were very soft and cakey, no crunch at all, no matter how long I cooked them (well, within reason. The recipe called for 10-15 minutes cooking, I went as long as 20 minutes with one batch. Still very soft).
They were okay, but nothing special. If I was going to make baked goods from zucchini in the future, I'd probably stick with zucchini bread. And if I felt like adding vegetables to my cookies, I'd probably stick with oatmeal carrot chocolate chip cookies.
But I include this here in case you want to give it a go for the novelty of the recipe, or because you're making all the Animal, Vegetable, Miracle recipes, or just to steer you away if you were on the fence. But as I said, they weren't bad. I mean, it used a whole bag of chocolate chips. How bad could they be? And at the very least, my boys are eating them as fast as I'll let them. Hey, it counts as a vegetable, right?
Monday, August 11, 2008
I also had some broccoli from the farmers' market, so tried a new broccoli side dish from Local Flavors. It's called Braised Broccoli with Olives. It turned out fine, but I think I prefer the fresher and crisper taste of simple roasted broccoli. Here's the recipe:
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Curried Carrot-Walnut burgers
2 tablespoons canola or corn oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1.5 cups sliced white button mushrooms
1.5 cups cooked and drained chick peas
4 medium carrots, grated
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste
unbleached white flour (for dredging and forming the burgers)
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil, add the onion and saute for 2 minutes. Add spices and cook for 3 more minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat.
2. Put chickpeas and contents of the pan in a food processor, and run in spurts until everything is well-chopped.
3. Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Flour your hands and form the mixture into patties. Heat oil in a skillet, and cook the patties four minutes on each side until the bottoms are golden brown.
This recipe was somewhat successful. Unlike my husband Josh, who is a chemist, I tend to be pretty approximate with recipes. I think this recipe would have come out better if I had been more precise. I added in an extra carrot because we had a bunch and threw in another handful of walnuts becuase I like them. When it came time to form and cook the patties, the texture did not seem quite right, and I had a really hard time keeping them together. It helped to squeeze handfuls of the batter to drain them a bit, but it was still quite delicate work flipping the burgers. Towards the end, I added in some flour to the batter, and then everything worked much better and it was easier to cook.
Overall, this recipe was a good amount of work. For some reason anything involving the food processor seems complicated to me, and since the ingredients had to be cooked first, then transferred and chopped, and then cooked again, it took quite a while. I also had to wait a while before forming the patties since the mixture was too hot to touch at first. I really liked the final product, though. I had one on a bun, but that seemed like a lot of starch, so then just ate a few more like pancakes with ketchup on top.
I also made the following recipe for Eggplant Gratin. It said it could be served at room temperature or warm, so I made this in advance while the burger batter cooled.
2.5 pounds eggplant, peeled if white
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large or 2 medium onions, sliced
4 large eggs
1 cup milk or light cream
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
10 large basil leaves, torn into small pieces
1. Preheat oven to 350 and oil a casserole dish. Cut the eggplants into rounds half an inch thick. Salt and set aside.
2. Heat some oil in a skillet and cook the onions for about 12 minutes. While onions cook, combine the eggs, milk, cheese, vinegar, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, and pepper.
3. Rinse salted eggplant and wipe off water with a towel. Heat oil in the skillet and fry each piece of eggplant. Turn right away in the oil and then fry until golden.
4. Mix the eggplant with the onions, basil, and salt and pepper. Put it in the dish and pour the egg and milk mixture over the top. Bake until golden, firm, and puffed for 30-40 minutes. Dish should cool for a bit before serving, or can be served at room temperature.
This dish was good, but time consuming. Frying the eggplant took a while, so I'd make this dish again if I could come up with a shortcut for that step. The rest of the steps were easy, and I like that it could easily be made in advance. My 3-year-old helped by tearing up the basil.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Well, I was browsing the web for recipes and I came across a bunch of really yummy sounding Indian style recipes that use ingredients we can currently get at the local farmer's market. This one and the following one can be found on a website called Just for Fun, http://jasu.wordpress.com/. But don't worry, I am also printing the recipe here.
First one is for "spicy fried eggplant in a tomato tamarind sauce" (only a translation of the tastes, not an actual translation of the title unless this was a lucky guess). And by the way, it is not spicy or doesn't have to be - you control the chili powder.
For the gravy
Sliced onion - 2 medium size
Chopped tomato - 2 medium size
Ginger / garlic paste - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Chilly powder - 1 tsp
Tamarind paste - 1/4 tsp
For the fry
Indian Eggplant / Kathirikai - 5 to 6 medium size
Chilly powder - 1 tsp
Corriander powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Add all the powders to the eggplant and marinate it for 15mins. Heat little oil and fry the eggplant slices and keep it aside
1. Heat little oil in pan and pop mustard and then add the sliced onion, ginger garlic paste and fry until the onion is half done (soft) . Add the chopped tomato, chilly powder and turmeric and cook till oil separates from the gravy.
2. Add the tamarind juice and cook for 2 to 3 mins. Finally add the fried eggplant slices and mix it gently.
3. Cook on low flame for few more minutes. Enjoy with biryani or any kind of pulao. You can also have this with white rice , curd rice too.
Now with the Bok Choy Poriyal, my husband was helping to prep and decided the recipe on the site didn't quite make sense so he googled another recipe. Before I realized it I was cooking a much more complicated recipe than the original, which was so simple, I thought it would be nice to make it alongside the eggplant. Needless to say this dinner was on the late side, but worth the wait.
Here is the complicated recipe that I used. Don't ask me what a nos is. I was not totally sure about all the measurements but took an educated guess. I did not use fresh coconut, but instead used dyhdrated coconut flakes bought at Whole Foods. They rehydrated to some degree during cooking so they worked for me. I also did not use
curry leaves as I had none so I used Indian style curry powder, just a dash. I don't know what Split black gram is and didn't have time to look it up, so I didn't use that either. And where it says mustard, I used black mustard seed, which is what they meant.
1 bunch Bok choy
2 clove Garlic (crushed)
¼ cup resh grated coconut
Split black gram
Dry red chilli
Salt (or to taste)
Simple solution to clean the Bok choy is to cut off a small portion of the stalk at the bottom. This would easily separate the stalk and makes cleaning quick and easy. Both stalks and leaves are edible, rinse them under cold water and chop finely. Heat oil in a pan, splutter mustard, dry red chilli, cumin seeds, split black gram and curry leaves. Fry the onions and garlic for a while then add the chopped bok choy with turmeric, asafoetida and salt. This veggie cooks quickly and in about 5 to 7 minutes it becomes tender. (Do not cover to cook) Add the fresh grated coconut, toss a couple of times and serve with rice.
A note of caution: watch the turmeric. No more than what is suggested. It can quickly overtake the other ingredients.
"Just for fun," here is also the original, simpler, recipe that attracted me. But as you can see, the instructions refer to ingredients that are not listed. That is what sent my husband googling.
Bok Choy / Chinese Cabbage - 3 medium size
Shallot Onion - 3 to 4
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Grated Coconut - 2 tbsps
Garlic pods - 2
Green chilly - 2
1. Wash and chop the leaves.
2. Grind green chilly, cumin, garlic, coconut into a coarse paste.
3. Heat little oil and pop mustard, add the sliced onion fry for a minute. Add chopped leaves and fry for 2 to 3 mins. Add the ground paste , salt and sprinkle little water and cover it with a lid and cook for few more mins.
4. Open the lid and fry until all the water evaporates and the leaves cooked well. Serve with white rice as a side dish.
Anyway, I recommend the basic ideas.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
4 medium tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and quartered
1 large garlic clove
hot green chilis (he recommends 2 serrano or 1 jalepeno), stemmed and roughly chopped
1/2 - 1/3 cup loosely packed, roughly chopped cilantro
Put it all in a blender or processor with a little (1/4 cup) water and 1/2 tsp salt. Get it to the consistency you like (I like it sort of runny). When you put it in a bowl you can add extra water if it needs it. Season to taste. It's best eaten right away.
He includes lots of variations (add parsley, add lemon zest (we do that), try mint, etc...)
I chopped the chilis seeds, pith and all because we like it spicy, but adjust for yourself!
I must warn you, this dish is pretty decadent, for corn. And I say that as a woman who usually prefers her corn on the cob grilled, drizzled with butter, lime juice and cajun pepper and then rolled in parmesan cheese. So if you’re the sort who frets that anything more than a little butter and salt might be too much for your ears, this is not the recipe for you.
But for the rest of us...trust me, these fritters are just as good as they sound.
(It’s another one from Local Flavors, and seriously, I’m not on the payroll. I’m just suffering from a new cookbook crush. I’m sure when my summer fling is over I’ll go back to my old favorite, The Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home).
Cutting the corn and getting the milk for this recipe is a messy business, though sort of fun in a weird way. So if you’re cooking for company either do this well in advance or outside unless you are having the kind of guests who won’t mind that your kitchen is covered in corn flecks.
My version ended up a bit more fricassee than fritters which I attribute to not quite enough flour, too small a pan, and the fact that I’m a Lutheran from Long Island and my people do many things well but cook balls of things in oil is not one of them. Those of you from more fritter-friendly cultures will not have the same problems, I suspect.
I have to say almost forwent the arugula since the bunch I had slated for this dish had to pinch hit for spinach in another recipe the previous. But my husband offered to go fetch some more and I’m glad he did, even though ours was no longer local Farmer’s Market yumminess but rather from a neighborhood grocery store that I normally don’t buy anything from that’s not beer, chips or in a factory-sealed can. But the sharp flavor of arugula contrasted against the cheesy corn is what makes this dish. Arrange it around the fritters and make sure each plate has enough to have some in every bite.
6 ears sweet corn
2 eggs beaten
4 scallions, finely sliced
1/2 cup chopped parsley (having no parsley, I substituted some cilantro which worked nicely)
2 tablespoons shredded basil or dill
1 cup grated aged cheddar
1/3 cup flour (I used whole wheat flour)
salt and pepper
butter or oil for frying
a few handfuls of trimmed arugula
1. Slice the kernels off the corn with a sharp knife and then squeeze out the milk with either the back of the knife or a butter knife. Mix the corn kernels with the eggs, scallions, herbs, cheese and as much flour as can be easily absorbed. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Coat a pan generously with oil or butter and heat. Divide the batter into sixths and drop into the skillet. Fry over medium heat until golden brown, about two minutes a side.
3. Put the fritters on plates with the arugula and eat immediately.
1 can (15 oz.) of black beans
4 ears of corn
3 green onions
1 tablespoon fresh minced cilantro (or more to taste)
Ground cumin to taste
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Salt to taste
Husk corn and cut the kernels off the cobs. Everyone has a favorite way to do it, but if you're a newbie, here's what I do:
1) When you husk the corn, leave the stems intact (don't break off!)
2) Cut a small amount of the bottom (tip end) of the corn off so you have a flat surface (and it gets rid of the kernels that are generally too small or a little yucky at the tip).
3) Get out a big roasting pan. Holding the corn upright in the pan, use a sharp knife to cut rows of corn off. Keep turning the corn until you've cut off all the kernels. The roasting pan will catch all the kernels as they fall from the cob.
In a medium pot, boil water, then add the corn. Boil for about 2 minutes, then drain and rinse in cold water. (You could also cook the corn on the cob before you cut the kernels off. I just didn't have time to let the corn on the cob cool before cutting it, so I cut it first). Place corn into a large bowl.
Drain and rinse black beans until the water runs clear. Place into the bowl with the corn.
Thinly slice the whites and greens of the green onions and add to the bowl.
Add the olive oil, minced cilantro, ground cumin, and salt. Stir gently and well.
Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
That's it. You can eat it as a salad, but I especially liked it as a salsa with pita chips.
For once, this was something my three year old boys would actually eat. They especially loved picking out their black beans, and loved to spoon it onto pita chips (although it would mostly fall off the chips before it reached their mouths).
And here's a quickie bonus recipe: Zucchini Grinders. It's a vegetarian sandwich inspired by a meatball sub. Except you use zucchini instead of meatballs. It's a favorite in our house that I make a few times each summer. When I made them last night, I threw in 4 small diced tomatoes while I sauteed the zucchini. I didn't even bother to peel or seed the tomatoes. You could also add in some eggplant or mushrooms or onions or peppers or really, whatever you happen to have around. Or just follow the recipe as written as it is quite yummy.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Friday, August 1, 2008
1 cantaloupe, peeled, seeded, cut into 1" cubes
2 tomatoes, cut into cubes
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Fresh mozzarella- the ball I made was probably 3/4 pound- sliced
Mix melon and tomato cubes, drain in colander 5 minutes to remove excess juices.
Mix melon, tomato, oregano, oil and vinegar without mushing up the tomato.
Arrange slices of cheese on a platter, season with salt and pepper, and put melon mixture onto slices. The recipe says to do a spoonful onto each slice, but there was a lot of melon mix, so I just dumped it on a bed of cheese slices. Fresh oregano and melon is something I'd never heard of before but it's a very good mix of flavors. The salad would probably also be good with the little fresh mozzarella balls (ciliegie) just mixed in.
The other recipe I made was a breakfast for dinner dish. During my cheese making last weekend, in addition to the mozzarella and an attempt at monterey jack (aging until October), I also made creme fraiche. I had seen this video a while ago and had been planning to try it out. We tend to get a lot of cherry tomatoes from the garden, although I've never bothered cutting off a whole cluster.
1 cluster of 4 cherry tomatoes
Mushrooms- I used baby bellas, stems removed
1 Tbsp creme fraiche
1/2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp minced chives
salt and pepper
whole wheat bread, thick slice toasted.
I actually tripled the recipe to feed the whole family. Heat oil in a frying pan, put the entire cluster in the pan and the mushrooms upside down, add salt and pepper and cook over medium heat. The mushrooms ended up with a little pool of their own juice in the caps.
Crack eggs into saucepan and add butter. Stir over medium heat with a rubber spatula. As eggs start to congeal on bottom of pan, remove from heat and keep stirring until the pan cools too much to cook more, then put back on heat. Once the eggs are semi-solid, add salt and pepper and remove from heat, continuing to stir- eggs will keep cooking until done from residual heat. Mix in creme fraiche until melted through, mix in chives, and serve eggs over toast with cooked tomato and mushroom on the side. Only part of the tomato cluster made it to the plate, the kids demanded to eat the other two.