Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Unemployed guy is also caring a bit more about being frugal

When you're cooking with oil, food author Molly Stevens suggests saving your fancy olive oil—the cheap stuff will do just as well.

In her book All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking, Stevens explains:

[T]he best-quality, highest-priced, estate-bottled extra-virgin olive oils, especially any nonfiltered oils, should indeed not be used for cooking. First, the flavor and character will fade as you heat the oil, and if you've paid a hefty sum, it's a waste to pour it into a sauté pan. Second, any particles left in an unfiltered oil (as many of the best are) will burn and deteriorate when heated, and thus add bitterness to your recipes. Save these for drizzling over a plate of sliced summer tomatoes... or a hunk of rustic bread.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Minestrone Soup

I've been fascinated with Minestrone soup since watching a television show about the Centenarians of Sardinia. Read this great article here. In the oversimplified way that only people that know me understand, I can declare that the best way to live to be 100 years old is to drink wine, work hard outside, and eat minestrone soup.



Minestrone Soup (in a crock pot)


Ingredients

* 3 cups vegetable stock
* 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
* 1 (15-ounce) can white (cannellini or navy) beans, drained
* 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
* 1 celery stalk, chopped
* 1 cup onion, chopped
* 1 teaspoon dried thyme
* 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
* 2 bay leaves
* Salt and ground black pepper
* 2 cups cooked ditalini pasta
* 1 medium zucchini, chopped
* 2 cups coarsely chopped fresh or frozen spinach, defrosted
* 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Directions

In a slow cooker, combine broth, tomatoes, beans, carrots, celery, onion, thyme, sage, bay leaves, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours or on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours.

Thirty minutes before the soup is done cooking, add ditalini, zucchini and spinach. Cover and cook 30 more minutes. Remove bay leaves and season, to taste, with salt and black pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle parmesan cheese over top.

Make sure two add two cups of cooked pasta. I cooked two cups of pasta first and added way too much. All of the broth subsequently disappeared. So if you want it to stay a soup, don't add any more than two cups of pasta.



Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving Leftovers

We have a special Thanksgiving in my family. My mom puts together a three course meal that celebrates our Italian heritage in addition to the traditional fare. We have antipasti and other meats and cheeses for the first course, followed by homemade ravioli, meatballs, sausage, and sauce, capped off with the turkey and all the fixin's. The turkey this year came from Tendercrop Farm in Newbury, Massachusetts.

We always have lots of leftovers. This year I got a little creative and made a turkey pie with homemade crust. If you still have leftover turkey - give this a shot.

Aaron's Turkey Pie from Scratch

~2 cups of turkey (white and dark meat)
~2 cups of gravy (recipe below)
1 cup frozen peas
3 peeled and chopped carrots
1 Pie crust (recipe below)

Make the pie crust...

All-Butter Pie Dough from food and wine magazine

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 cup ice water

Directions

In a food processor, pulse the flour with the salt. Add the butter and pulse until the size of peas. Drizzle in the water and pulse until the crumbs are moistened; turn out onto a work surface. Gather into a ball, flatten, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

While the pie crust is chilling make the gravy.

Gravy

3 tbs flour
3 tbs butter
2 cups chicken stock

Melt the butter over medium heat and then add the flour. Whisk together until the roux is golden brown. Make sure your chicken stock is hot, and gradually whisk the stock into the pan until your gravy reaches your desired thickness. Add some salt or thyme if you like.

Mix the gravy, turkey, peas, and carrots in a bowl and drop into a 9 inch pie plate. Roll out the pie crust and put on top. Bake for 30 minutes at 425 or until the crust is golden brown.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I noticed Cider Hill Farm is now following me on Twitter


I have made an addition to my valuable links section. I added Cider Hill Farms. What an oversight!



My wife, some friends, and I went apple picking at the farm in October and we had a great time. With all of the apples we picked, we made "Halloween Party Apple Crisp."



Cider Hill also has the best cider donuts and cider around. Come September, my palate usually changes and I switch from my summertime favorite, lemonade, to my fall favorite, apple cider.


Cider Hill Farm uses some windpower, as well as a large amount of their own compost, making them an eco friendly local source of fruits and vegetables. Go check out their site and their store. I think their last day of the season is the wednesday before Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pumpkins are good more for than just carving

I wish I had my own photos for this. Sorry for having a lame text-centric blog.

Black Bean and Pumpkin Soup

2-3 tbs olive oil
1 sugar pumpkin
2 leeks
4 cups chicken stock
1 dried (or fresh) chipotle pepper
3 tbs cilantro
2 15 oz. cans of black beans
salt
pepper
couple shakes of cumin
toasted pumpkin seeds (recipe below)
sour cream

Peel and coarsely chop the pumpkin. Dice the leeks. Add olive oil into a big pot and heat. Toss in pumpkin and leeks and saute for 5-10 minutes. Add chicken stock, chopped cilantro, cumin, and diced chipotle pepper. Raise heat to bring to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes or until pumpkin is soft.

When pumpkin is soft, add about 2/3 of a can of black beans. Use an immersion blender and puree. Use more or less beans until you get your desired thickness. Then add the rest of the beans and simmer until heated through. Add final dashes of salt and pepper.

Serve in a soup bowl and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds and sour cream.



Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Preheat oven to 400.
Pull seeds out of pumpkin and wash clean with water.
Add salt to a pot of water and boil seeds for ten minutes.
Remove from brine mixture and lay on a pan.
Coat in olive oil.
Toast until brown (10-15) minutes.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Another Salsa

We got some tomatillos and long red peppers from a friend of a friend. I didn't know that we could grow tomatillos up here, but we can, apparently. Here's a nice recipe for a simple salsa.


Tomatillo Salsa

20 tomatillos
1 garlic glove
1 small red onion
4 long red peppers
2 jalapeno peppers
salt

Preheat oven by turning to broil. Char the peppers. In the meantime, add the garlic, onion, and peeled tomatillos to the food processor. Pulse a few times.

When the peppers are black, seed them and put them into the food processor. Add generous pinches of salt. Pulse until the salsa reaches the consistency you like.


Da duh. Da duh. Da duh...salsa shark.
We're going to need a bigger boat!
Man goes into cage.
Cage goes into salsa.
Shark's in the salsa - our shark.

link

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Guacamole

One of my favorite dips is Guacamole. Easy to make - few ingredients - and it tastes great. Bag a bag of Chips and indulge. Don't wait for Superbowl Sunday.

Guacamole

3 avocados
2 small red onions
2 tomatoes
1 jalapeno pepper
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt

I like a smoother Guacamole so I put the onions, lemon juice, jalapeno pepper, and avocados in the food processor first and give it a couple pulses. Then add the tomatoes and salt and pulse and a few more times. Good luck - don't add to many onions or you'll end up sleeping alone.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Jalapeno Poppers

I just made myself a jalapeno and cheddar Quesedilla for dinner. Now my forehead is sweating, my lips are burning, and my mouth has yet to stop burning. I did drink a glass of milk confirmed by the Mythbusters team to help hot pepper pain.

But I gave me an idea, maybe I should post a recipe of my favorite jalapeno popper, not fried but grilled. So I searched the web a bit, and realized that I am feeling quite lazy today, and really don't want to type any more. But I found a great blog. Check out the link to Armida's Jalapeno Poppers.

Here's the unemployed guy in the ruins of a 20th century millionaire's castle in Methuen, MA. I had never gone to this city park when I lived in town.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Party Apple Crisp

We picked Northern Spy apples three weeks ago, at Cider Hill Farm in Amesbury, with the intention of baking a pie. But it never happened so today I use one of my favorite recipes to make apple crisp. We chose Northern Spy because the farm's handy listing of available apples, of which there are many at Cider Hill, described them as tart, sweet and great for baking, i.e., they don't turn to mush. The recipe is from my friend Sarah, it is super easy. I always add more apples. Today I used eight, in fact I think I bumped everything in the recipe up a little, except for the sugar, I like pie to taste tart. You can even squeeze a little lemon in there, if that's how you like it too.

Apple filling:
6-8 apples, peeled cored and sliced
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup sugar

Mix all ingredients above, and toss around together and set aside to work on the topping. Filling will get nice and juicy.

Yummy topping:
3/4 cup sugar (I use 1/2 white and 1/4 brown)
3/4 old fashioned oats
3/4 cup flour (white and wheat mixed)
1 stick of butter all chopped up
1-2 tablespoons molasses

Use a pastry cutter or fork to mix topping ingredients all together. Butter a pie plate (8"-10"). Spoon filling into the pan, press in a little. Spoon and spread topping mixture over the apple filling. Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes. Enjoy!...get some ice cream while it is baking. We will pick up some Richardson's since it is so good, fresh, local and hormone free.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Mexicana


I have been striving to make pizza at home as good as my favorite pizza joints. And this Mexicana pizza made is the closest I have ever come.

The most important part of the equation is the dough. I have experimented with many recipes and finally found something I like. Follow this link. Make the pizza dough. It was great. I used the food processor, and also used one cup each of wheat, semolina, and all purpose flour.


Calling the above pizza the Mexicana is a tribute to Antonio's Pizza in Amherst Massachusetts. It has a layer of salsa, rice, black beans, spicy chicken, and cheddar cheese. Give it a try. Top when some creme fraiche if you got it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I owe y'all a recipe for squash soup

Now that fall/winter is in full effect, here is my favorite squash soup recipe. It comes courtesy of Alton Brown. Usually we can't go wrong following Alton's recipes. He's one of my favorite Food TV chefs.

Squash Soup

Ingredients

* 6 cups (about 2 large squash) seeded 2-inch wide chunks butternut squash
* Melted butter, for brushing
* 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus 1 teaspoon
* 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper, plus 1/2 teaspoon
* 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
* 4 tablespoons honey
* 1 teaspoon minced ginger
* 4 ounces heavy cream
* 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Brush the flesh of the squash with a little butter and season with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper. On a sheet pan lay the squash flesh side up. Roast for about 30 to 35 minutes or until the flesh is nice and soft.

Scoop the flesh from the skin into a pot and add the stock, honey, and ginger. Bring to a simmer and puree using a stick blender. Stir in the heavy cream and return to a low simmer. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Marketing Haiku




Share blog if you like.
Tweet it or share on Facebook.
Use new box on right.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Potato and Leek Soup



I promised - so here it is. Simple yet delicious potato and leek soup. I left the skin on the potatoes. But do what you want.

Potato and Leek Soup

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter
1 medium onion, chopped
3 leeks, thinly sliced and rinsed well
3 cloves garlic, smashed
5 medium russet (baking) potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
4-5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper, to taste
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

1. In a large heavy-based stock pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions, leeks, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until softened.

2. Add the potatoes, 4 cups of the stock, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

3. In a blender, puree soup in batches until smooth. Return it to pot. Bring to a simmer. Add the cream and parsley, and taste for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper, if you like. If the soup is too thick, add remaining stock in 1/4-cup increments until it is the consistency you prefer.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

If it is in a pot covered with chicken stock, it's a soup!

Fall is the time of year where I make a lot of soups. From the farm today I will be getting leeks and potatoes for sure. I'll put up a recipe for potato and leek soup later on. I wanted to share a recipe for something I made the other night. I thought it was pretty good. Somebody looked in my pot and said "That doesn't look like soup." I might have looked funny at the beginning, but it turned out pretty delicious.

Aaron's Tortellini Soup

4 cups chicken stock
12 oz Tortellini
chopped onion
1 clove of garlic
halved cherry tomatoes
carrots
1 green pepper
1 green chili pepper
salt
pepper
oregano
olive oil

Swirl the EVOO in your pot. Saute the garlic and onions until soft (don't forget to layer in your salt and pepper). Add the chopped peppers and cook until you think it is ready. Add the halved tomaotes, chicken stock, and oregano. Bring to a boil.

When the pot is boiling rapidly, add the carrots and tortellini. Those should cook at the same rate. If you have fresh tortellini, add the carrots first and wait about ten minutes before adding the tortellini. When stirring, attempt to crush up the tomatoes.

As soon as everything is cooked - the soup's done.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Greek Food

My friend's grandma makes the best Spanakopita (Greek spinach pie) I have ever had. Numerous attempts to recreate what Yia Yia does has gone unsuccessful. I think I just don't use enough butter. But combining phyllo, butter, spinach and feta is a "can't lose" situation, and however you make it, the results will be delicious.

Farmy Spanakopita (Greek Kale Pockets)

2 Bunches of Kale (stems discarded and finely chopped)
1 garlic glove
1 onion
salt
pepper
feta cheese
oregano
thyme
sheets of phyllo dough
butter
olive oil
1 beaten egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt 1/2 - 1 stick of butter and get your pastry brush handy.

Saute the garlic and onion in olive oil and add the kale when the onions are soft. When the kale is cooked put the greens aside in a bowl. Once cool, mix in the egg, feta, orgeano, and thyme in the kale.

Take a sheet of phyllo, brush with butter, and fold in half. Imagine taking the far left corner and folding a triangle. Where the corner would fall on itself, put a nice sized dollop of kale mixture. coat dry phyllo in butter, and fold the triangle on to itself, brushing the dry phyllo in butter. Repeat until you have a nice tetrahedron.

Bake for 30 minutes or so or until the phyllo is golden brown.

This is not my photo but use it as a goal.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fall Soups

My favorite fall soup is a butternut squash soup with honey and ginger. I don't feel like finding the recipe right now. I'll post the recipe for the soup I made last night instead.

Squash and Apple Cream Soup

1 medium onion
3 lb butternut squash
2 apples
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup Apple juice
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tbs olive oil
salt
pepper
cinnamon
nutmeg

Add olive oil to your stock pot. Coarsely chop the onion and saute it while you deal with the squash and apples (don't forget to layer your salt and pepper here). Peel, remove seeds from, and chop the butter nut squash. Peel, core, and chop the apples. Add to the pot and add all of the liquids as well. Make sure the squash and apples are covered. If not you can add more juice, water, or stock.

Boil for 40 minutes. When the squash is soft, use an immersion blender and blend until smooth. Add cream, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir to mix. and serve.

Here's what it looks like when done. Credit onapples.com for the photo. It's not mine.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Farm Fresh Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd's pie is a staple in my "comfort food" repertoire. It can be as easy as browning meat, adding a bag of frozen corn, and topping with mashed potatoes. Or you can take a bunch of different vegetables from your CSA distribution and sandwich that in the middle instead. Adding cheese on top of the mashed potatoes, and making a gravy while it bakes are things I do that make this one of our favorite meals at home.


Farm Fresh Shepherd's Pie Recipe


8-10 potatoes
Beets
Carrots
String beans
1 LB ground turkey
Montreal Steak Seasoning or equivalent
Chicken Broth
Flour
Cheddar Cheese
butter
salt
pepper
milk

Preheat Oven to 375 degrees F.

Bring a 6 qt Pot of water to a boil and add potatoes and cook for 20 minutes. Drain water (reserve a cup to add back into mashed potatoes). Add butter, salt, pepper, water, and milk and mash until desired consistency of mashed potatoes is met. Put aside.

Slice carrots and beets, toss with salt, pepper, and EVOO and bake for 30 minutes.

Heat a skillet and brown ground turkey (beef or whatever). Add Montreal steak seasoning if you got it to add flavor. When the meat is done, layer it at the bottom of a lasagne pan. Top with the cooked beets and carrots and uncooked string beans (string beans take less time to cook). Layer the mashed potatoes then top with cheese. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, uncover and bake until the cheese is brown.

In the meantime make gravy. I usually deglaze the meat skillet with butter, add flour, make a roux, and slowly whisk in chicken stock until I make a tasty gravy.

Enjoy!!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hiatus Explained

I apologize to all my fans out there for such a long delay between blog updates. I have a great excuse though, I got married! I promise I'll be back. Root season is quickly approaching, and I'll share some of my recipes with you, my loyal fan base. But in the meantime, here's proof of my alibi.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Confused little flowers


We have a lots of different plants growing in our gardens. From strawberries and hostas to catnip and tomatoes, there's almost every type of plant life represented.





Today I saw something that didn't really fit. I'm not sure what it is.







But it definitely looks like a spring bud.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Aaron's adapated chicken salad

Summer offers numerous activities out here on the north shore of Massachusetts. Starting in June, the Crane Estate at Castle Hill offers a summer picnic concert series. For twenty-five dollars, you can bring a car load of people and set up a picnic. The views are spectacular, the music is good, and the bugs really aren't that bad. We attend most Thursday nights.


Having the farm share helps us contribute lots of healthy dishes to the picnic. We bring green salads, pasta salads, and potato salads. We have also made different wraps, pizzas, and sandwiches. There is so much potential for cold and finger foods we always have more than enough to eat. And the spread is always very unique.

Last week I made a potato and chicken salad that I really liked. I'm usually not a fan of potato salads, but the combination of ingredients seemed to click for me on this recipe. It's a mix of a few recipes I found on the web. Basically I tried to include things that I had on hand when I made it. I used purple Peruvian potatoes from our farm share. They added a nice color to an otherwise monochromatic dish, and hold up pretty well due to the starch content.

Chicken and Peruvian Potato Salad

3 chicken breasts
5 purple Peruvian potatoes
2 eggs
Handful of chopped dill pickles
2 tbs. of sweet relish
1/3 - 1/2 jar of drained capers
1/2 cup mayonnaise
juice of 1/2 lemon
chopped dill
salt to taste

Boil and chop the chicken breast and potatoes, and hard boil the eggs. Slice the eggs when they're cool. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, potatoes, eggs, pickles, relish, capers, mayo, lemon juice, salt, and chopped fresh dill. Stir everything together and chill. Serve cold.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Guest submitted recipe and recommendation

Check out this pizza recipe. It was suggested by one of my yoga teachers. It looks delicious. The closest I've ever come to a fig was in a fig bar, but this looks like something I should give a shot.

It reminds me of the Coevolution Flatbread at Flatbread Company. We have one in Amesbury, MA. If you've never been, you should give it a try. They have a great selection of local brew on tap, the best salad and dressing around, and a wide selections for all pizza tastes. The Coevolution Flatbread features goat cheese, rosemary, carmelized onions, kalamata olives, and roasted red peppers. Flatbread also offers meat and veggie specials with tons of local and organic ingredients.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Link

I just wanted to share a link. It is a recipe for oven roasted sweet potatoes with dill. It's not a combo I have tried, but something I'll give a shot. I happen to have some sweet potatoes and dill on hand right now.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Reflections

I thought developing content for a blog about what to do with too many vegetables would be easy. Last year was our first year with a farm share, and often we needed to find creative ways of cooking three pounds of beets, or two pounds of string beans (which by the way, is a lot of string beans). But this year with the wet weather and the poor crops, we haven't had to be that creative. Last year we had to find a way to cook the same vegetable for three to four different meals during the week. That's just not the case now. So this year when we get a bunch of kale, we saute it and grill some hamburgers. Then it's gone - no more worries.

Maybe I should change the title of my blog. Cooking and eating vegetables is just not a challenge this year. I guess I can call it "Unemployed Guy Who Cooks Vegetables from Time to Time," or "How to Saute Greens," or "Baked Beets Yum," or "Salad, it's not just for Lunch When You're on a Diet Anymore." Last year I swear the freezer was packed with leftovers that we ate from October through April when the farm share distributions stopped. We made soups, stews, and casseroles.

But on the brighter side, we are still committed to organic and Eco-friendly farming. We are even growing corn in our front yard. I hope it is getting enough sun. Our tomatoes are behind schedule, but I can't wait to make some fresh sauces and salsas.

I still prepare tasty dishes with ingredients from the farm, even if I don't always share the recipes. This morning for brunch (I am unemployed you know), I ate poached eggs with kale on rye with broiled Peruvian potatoes seasoned with rosemary and sea salt.

Here is a recipe for odd bean salad that you can make with cauliflower.

Crunchy Cauliflower Salad

1 head cauliflower - broken into florets
2 cans garbanzo beans - rinsed and drained
1 cup cherry tomatoes - halved or quartered depending on their size
3 green onions - green and white parts cut down to the root
2 tbsp. chopped basil
2 tbsp. chopped flat leaf parsley
zest and juice of 1 medium lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsp. red wine or white wine vinegar
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

- In small bowl, whisk together lemon zest and juice, olive oil, vinegar and mustard.
- In a medium pot, bring water to a boil. Add cauliflower florets and blanch quickly, 2-3 minutes. Rinse with cold water or drop in ice bath to stop cooking. Drain and allow to cool off in colander.
- While cauliflower is cooling, add chopped onions, tomatoes, and garbanzo beans to a mixing bowl. Add in cauliflower once cool and add the vinaigrette. Toss together and sprinkle with parsley, basil, salt and pepper. Allow to marinate together for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Farm Fresh Salsa

The wet early summer weather ruined the harvest for many vegetables we're used to seeing this time of year. Usually in August we get many more cucumbers, squashes, peppers, zucchinis, and tomatoes. That hasn't stopped me from making something that I love; salsa. Fresh salsa is a great summer taste and allows for lots of creativity. You can add extra jalapeno peppers for more heat or local peaches for sweetness. Make homemade tortilla chips with nice flour tortillas and impress your friends.

The recipe below reflects how I made this yesterday. Feel free to add garlic, fresh chopped peaches or pineapple, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, onions, jalapenos, or whatever else you can think of.

Farm Fresh Salsa

2 garlic scapes
4 shallots
3 dried chiletpin peppers
1 dried jalapeno pepper
2 grilled poblano peppers
1 pint of grape tomatoes
1/2 bunch washed cilantro
1-2 tbs lemon juice
sea salt

I prefer small bits of garlic scapes, shallots, and dried hot peppers in salsa, so I add these four ingredients first into the food processor, and chop them to small bits. Next I add the tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, lemon juice, and sea salt and pulse until it reaches my desired consistency. Good luck!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Moving out of your comfort zone

Growing up in an Italian/American household, I became familiar with the comfort foods my mom and grandmother made. They weren't really vegetable heavy. When I became the chef in my household, I had to develop a behavior to move out of my "food comfort zone," trying things that I did not often eat as a child.

Recently in our farm share, we have started to receive carrots, dill, and zucchini. These vegetables and herbs pair well with fish. And with a couple non-native ingredients like capers, lemons, and peppercorns, you can create a restaurant quality meal in less than a half an hour. I like to steam this dish in parchment paper. When serving guests, you'll get an A+ for presentation.

Haddock and Julienne Vegetables in Parchment Paper

1/3 to 1/2 LB white fish per serving - I used haddock recently
Handful of carrots (I used a mandolin to julienne the vegetables)
Zucchini or summer squash
capers
green peppercorns
slices of lemon
olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut a piece of parchment about 18" long. Layer fish, olive oil, dill, capers, peppercorns, julienne vegetables, and lemon slices. Fold over parchment and tightly fold the edges in a progressive fashion around the edges. Cook for 13-15 minutes or until fish is flaky.

I found the camera too late. Everything edible is gone.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Websites for recipes

I am sure that we all feel intimidated at times by foods we are unfamiliar with. We may not know what they taste like, their texture (raw or cooked), their cook times, et cetera. But really all we need to do is find a recipe that sounds good. We may not know what the end product will taste like when we're done, but if we followed the directions, we have a building block to tweak the recipe the next time we try it.

Below are some sites I use.

Supercook

Tastespotting
Nibbledish
Foodnetwork
Epicurious

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Follow me on Twitter

I will "tweet" about recipes I find. The "tweets" will appear in a section on the right hand side of the blog. I'll "tweet" when I have no time to post a real blog entry. Don't forget to follow me!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Today's Distribution

Today I went down to Green Meadow's Farm with two friends, so the experience was a little different than usual. My friend Emma has a routine when it comes to the farm. First, she feeds the pigs and then visits quickly with the turkeys and ducks on the way to the PYO fields. Today was only PYO herbs, which Emma was kind of disappointed with. She requested some string beans even though they were not on the list. Her mom picked a handful, and Emma started snacking as we walked into the farmstand to pick up our distribution.
  • Tomatoes
  • Parsley
  • Tatsoi
  • Kale
  • Arugula
  • Lettuce
  • Shallots
  • Carrots
  • Radishes
  • Kohlrabi
  • Garlic Scapes
  • Broccoli
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
After putting the veggies in the car, we grabbed more food scrap to bring out to the "lonely pigs". These pigs were a bit sad because some of the close friends had recently been processed. On the way out to their sty, we encountered another harsh reality of farm life. One of the barn cats was toying with something that appeared to be a mouse. But as we got closer, and the "mouse" uncurled itself and tried to slither away, we realized the cat had been toying with a snake; a snake that had a few puncture wounds on its body. And probably wouldn't make it much further.

The pigs were asleep in the mud and did not come out for the food scraps. That could have ended the day on a lackluster note. But instead of heading back to the car, Emma wanted to see the new chicks. I didn't know that I was visiting the farm with a VIP, and the farm stand staff gave us special access in the new "chick shed." One even flew out to greet us.


This is neither the chick or cat described to today's blog post.

Monday, July 27, 2009

What I am about...

I love simple food, really. I like dishes that start with just a few ingredients and maybe use one pan, dish, or pot. In the winter, I cook at look of stews and casseroles; one pot dishes that are very hearty and require minimal clean up. I found this recipe for cabbage and cooked it up. I thought it was delicious. It might not be for everybody. But if you like bacon and cheese as much as I do, it is a perfect way to use up some cabbage.

Cabbage with Pancetta and Cheddar Cheese

1/2 head of cabbage
1/4 lb of sliced and pancetta
couple handfuls of shredded cheddar cheese

Heat up you chef's pan and cook the pancetta. If you're unfamiliar with pancetta, it is very similar to bacon, slightly less fatty, and way more salty. I see no need to layer any extra salt in this dish. When the pancetta is crispy take it out and toss in your roughly chopped cabbage. When the cabbage is cooked, put the pancetta back into the pan, cover in cheddar cheese, and put a lid on the pan for a few minutes. The residual heat should melt the cheese. I don't know if this is a side dish, entree or what...but I ate the whole thing for dinner after yoga.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A good way to use up squash!

Squash Latkes

2-3 cups of shredded squash
1 beaten egg
1/4 cup of bread crumbs
salt
pepper
oil

Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl while you're heating up some oil in a big pan. Make nice little patties and put them in the oil when it was hot enough. Allow to brown on one side before flipping. They'll stay together this way.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Retroactivity

I am afraid my work-life balance has been off a little lately. Too much life; not enough work; and too many vegetables. The most recent share gave me more radishes then I could ever eat, and they are looking for a good home. In addition to radishes, here is the detailed breakdown of what we got.
  • summer squash
  • radishes
  • kohlrabi
  • kale
  • tatsoi
  • swiss chard
  • radicchio
  • beets
  • lettuce
  • garlic scapes
  • tomatoes
  • Thyme
  • Orgeano
Rather than provide recipes for everything I cooked this week, maybe I can offer ideas for those of you struggling to find ideas for what to cook.

Lasagna - with kale, summer squash, thyme, oregano, garlic scapes, and tomatoes from your share
Beet Salad - with tatsoi (or spinach) and beets (don't forget a great goat cheese)
Pasta Salad - with tatsoi, thyme, tomatoes, and garlic scapes

I did move outside of my comfort zone last week and made a Hungarian Kohlrabi side dish. Here is the recipe.

Browned Kohlrabi
(From the Paprikas Wiess Hungarian Cookbook by Edward Weiss 1979.)

2-3 kohlrabi, peeled and diced
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth

1. Peel and dice kohlrabi.
2. Melt the butter in saucepan; add kohlrabi, salt, sugar, and parsley; stir to combine the ingredients.
3. Cover the saucepan and cook over very low heat for 25 minutes; take great care not to let it burn.
4. Sprinkle flour into pan and stir until lightly browned; stir in chicken broth to form a sauce; simmer for 5 minutes.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Not all local, but hey, it tastes good

I've got some Italian-American heritage, so I naturally have a repertoire of great sauces. M puttanesca is Elizabeth's favorite. I wanted an authentic recipe, so I set up an advanced google search looking for websites in Italy, in Italian, for the recipe. Once I found it, I translated the recipe into english. It is really really good. SERIOUSLY. I made it tonight substituting garlic scapes for garlic and it worked out just fine. I also omit anchovie paste. Add it if you like it.

Spaghetti alla puttanesca

3 tbs Olive Oil
Garlic (1-3 cloves smashed and chopped)
Handful of chopped parsley
Red Pepper flakes
Majoram
Little jar of capers
Pitted Kalamata Olives
Big can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 lb of Spaghetti

Bring big pot of salted water to a boil and time cooking the spaghetti so it is done with the sauce.

Pour the EVOO (love me some Rachel Ray) into the pan and sautee the garlic (scapes) for a few minutes. I layer salt and pepper here with the red pepper flakes as well. After 3-5 minutes, add the majoram and chopped parsley. When you smell the herbs release their flavor (1-2 minutes), and the tomatoes, capers, and olives. Through whole olives in if you have a lot, chop 'em in half if you don't have that many. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes.

Toss with the spaghetti and serve topped with Parmigina Regiano or Romano cheese.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

More Veggies

Tuesday brought lots of rain to the North Shore of Massachusetts, so I postponed my PYO expedition until Friday morning. But I'll have some help - picking various types of peas will be a FAMILY effort this week. But as far as the distribution goes - here's what I got.

* Lettuce
* Arugula
* Radishes
* Parsley
* Collards
* Beets
* Kohlrabi
* Turnips
* Tatsoi
* Beets
* Scapes
* Broccoli

The first recipe I made was inspired by Rachel Ray. Some people love her. Some people hate her. I think she's really bubbly and shares simple recipes. And her pasta salad recipes are pretty spot on.

A&E's Show Stopping Pasta Salad


1 package of any kind of tortellini
Uncooked bunch of greens (I have used spinach and tatsoi)
Cheese (feta, fresh mozzarella, ricotta salata, and goat cheese all work)
Any combo of the below vegetables or meats add great flavors and texture

* artichoke hearts
* sun dried tomatoes
* roasted red peppers
* pitted kalamata olives
* salami
* pepperoni
* soppressata

And for the homemade dressing

* Zest of 1 lemon
* 1 smooshed clove of garlic
* 2 teaspoons lemon juice
* 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
* 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
* fresh thyme leaves

Directions


Cook and drain the pasta. If you are using dehydrated sun-dried tomatoes, just put them in the pot with the pasta and they'll rehydrate while the pasta cooks.

Coarsely chopped the greens, and any of the other ingredients. Slice olives in half or leave them whole. Do whatever you want. It's your salad not mine.

Make the dressing. Chop the garlic, then add salt to it and mash it into a paste with the flat of your knife. Transfer garlic paste to a small bowl and add lemon zest, lemon juice and vinegar to it. Whisk in oil, thyme and pepper.

Put everything in a bowl, toss it, and serve it. It's never around long enough to take a picture.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Links

I have added a new section of links for my favorite websites and local organizations. Check them out.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Alternative use for greens


I felt like doing something new with my greens. Here is a nice example of something tasty. I made a spinach tomato pizza with sauteed spinach and chopped tomatoes. I know you may be shocked but I did not make the dough by hand. I bough it at the farmstand. But it tasted way better and any dough I've ever made. I also added a top coat of olive oil. I saw the pizza chefs do this at The Upper Crust Pizzeria in Newburyport. It makes a huge difference.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

New Gadget

Check out my digital resume!

Click on the Visual CV button to your right.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

CSA Week 2

This week I wore my hiking boots so trudging out to the PYO fields was no issue. I picked one quart of strawberries, finding the best areas actually near the farm road in the plants splashed with mud from the passing equipment. I also came back with two quarts of snap peas, some of which have already been consumed in another stir-fry.

Inside at the farm stand I collected week two's goodies:
  • kale
  • tatsoi
  • bok choi
  • arugula
  • spinach
  • lettuce
  • turnip hakurei
  • radishes
  • kohlrabi
  • scallions
  • garlic scapes
I purchased a few farm grown tomatoes, some soy sauce, a couple of cookies and an iced coffee for the ride home. The tomatoes are a must-have for salads and the soy sauce comes in handy for cooking the Asian greens.

I'd like to share a recipe for kohlrabi couscous that was emailed to us. It is from MACSAC’s Asparagus to Zucchini Cookbook.

Couscous with Kohlrabi and Chermoula Dressing

1-2 t minced garlic
2 T minced cilantro
2 T minced fresh parsley
1 t paprika
1/2 t ground cumin
salt
3 T fresh lemon juice
3 T olive oil
2-3 C cooked couscous, cooled to room temperature
2 C peeled, diced kohlrabi
1/2 C diced radishes
16 kalamata or oil cured imported black olives, chopped
1/2 C crumbled feta cheese (optional)

Mix garlic, cilantro, parsley, paprika, cumin, and salt to taste. Stir in lemon juice and olive oil. Toss this mixture with couscous. Bring to room temperature. Gently toss with kohlrabi, radishes, and olives (if desired). Serve as is, or sprinkle with feta cheese.

Monday, June 29, 2009

New Poster

If you haven't seen it yet, head down to the ICA on the wharf in Boston and check out the Shepard Fairey exhibit. I saw it in the spring and it was pretty cool. He uses a ton of different media and there is something for everyone, even with varying levels of ability to appreciate art. I have a new icon for my blog. Check it out.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Tatsoi Salad and Kale for Breakfast

Good morning...

I have been eating very simple vegetable dishes lately, so I've had nothing to share. But today I have two ideas worth sharing. The first is a Tatsoi salad that I assembled for a dinner Friday night. It is taken from a New York Times link.

Tatsoi and Roasted Corn Salad with Sauteed Peaches

2 peaches
Couple handfuls of frozen corn
1 bunch of Tatsoi
juice from one lemon
Kosher salt

Sautee the peaches in canola oil until they of soft and a thick sauce has formed. Also cook the frozen corn. Let both cool,

Wash and chop the tatsoi.

Toss the peaches, tatsoi, and corn in a bowl and add the salt and lemon juice to taste.

It was pretty good I think...


The next idea is something I had for breakfast while traveling for work last year in Spokane, Washington.

Poached Eggs on Kale

Eggs
Kale
Toast

It's as easy as it sounds. Make toast. Saute Kale. Poach eggs. Top with salt and pepper and enjoy. I'd keep the yolks runny to add some moisture to the kale and toast.

Have a good weekend - what's left of it anyway.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Photos...

We were able to take some photos last night. Notice a begging doggie in the background of the strawberry photo.

She loves strawberries. We grow them in the garden as well and she eats them before they become ripe. In three seasons we have never eaten a ripe strawberry from our patch.



This is a pretty small sampling of what I'll need to cook this week. It is going to be challenging to find a vehicle for the tatsoi.

When I find something tasty I'll put the recipe/link up.

I still have some bacon left, which is good news for me. I love crisping bacon and wilting the greens in the same pan. That's a terrific way to eat kale and spinach.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Distribution and recipe

If I had a camera I would have taken a photo of today's bounty. But I don't - so I'll use words to describe it instead. So far - the CSA at Green Meadows Farm has been amazing. We get fresh looking and great tasting fruit, vegetables, and herbs week after week. The staff is extraordinarily helpful and friendly; and they care so much about each customer and want to make sure we are all satisfied by the produce they provide. It is a stark comparison to what we may experience at some of the standard supermarkets.

I first went out to the PYO fields in corduroys and flip-flops. Not the best idea. You see it was raining, and we kinda haven't seen the sun for a couple weeks, and I was walking around crops in mud. I was able to pick two quarts of strawberries - which was harder than you think. There were so many moldy strawberries. I feel bad that the weather can affect yields like this.

I then trudged over to the snap pea section for two quarts of snap peas (easy to pick). Then over to the snow peas section (still young and much harder to find) to pick one quart. I was soaked and filthy by the time I was done. Had I gone after work, dressed all business casual like, I would have not been very happy. But seeing as how I really don't have anything else to do, getting dirty is really no big deal.

So here's a quick synopsis of the CSA distibution from the farm stand:
  • a bunch of radishes
  • hakurei turnips
  • garlic scapes
  • 2 huge heads of lettuce (see photo in the last post)
  • arugula
  • kale
  • spinach
  • Pac Choi
  • Tatsoi
We definitely have our work cut out for us this week. But I have already made a small dent. I cooked A Pac Choi sir-fry for lunch with a recipe that I half made up from a few things on the above list. I did find something on the web that I used for inspiration, but the final list of ingredients and the process I just winged (wung) it.

Here is the recipe...



Pac Choi, Snow Pea, and Chicken Stir Fry

1 garlic scape

1/2 chicken breast
5 Pac Choi leaves
2 handfuls of snow peas
sesame oil
sesame seeds
soy sauce

Because this is a stir fry it cooks pretty quickly so you'll want to prep all your ingredients before starting to cook.

Chop the garlic scape. Slice the chicken into bite size pieces. Separate the stems from the leaves on the pac choi and slice at a diagonal angle.

Pour some sesame oil around the pan and turn the burner to medium high. When the oil is hot, toss in the chicken and garlic scapes with some kosher salt and cracked pepper. Cook for about 5-10 minutes until you are comfortable that the chicken is cooked. It'll really depend on the size chicken slices you made.

When the chicken is just about ready, toss in the pac choi stems, they take longer to become tender than it will take for the leaves to wilt. After a few minutes, add a couple splashes of soy sauce, a few shakes of sesame seeds, the pac choi leaves, and the snow peas. Cook until the leaves wilt, which is about a minute or two.

That's it - pretty simple - and really tasty. Maybe add a squeeze or two of fresh lime juice when you serve it.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Newburyport Farmers' Market

Weather didn't keep us away from the farmers' market. We bought a heavy apple pie from Cape Ann Pies - which by-the-way - the slogan is absolutely correct. The pies are "simply stellar." We also bought a quart of strawberries from Applecrest Farms. Those are the best this season.


I wonder what our farm has in store for us this week...We have just a bit of lettuce left. Check out the size of what we got last week.

It's two feet tall (at least). Fine one foot. Whatever. It is huge.

Check out the bling on this girl's finger too. Jaja. She's taken.

Friday, June 19, 2009

video


Here is a video of Sophie playing with a toy. Watch your fingers.

Easy Recipe for Cilantro Rice

You have some cilantro but it doesn't seem to go well with your other greens and salad fixin's? Just make some cilantro rice.

Cilantro Rice

1 cup white rice
2 cups + a little more of stock
pat of butter
pinch of salt
a couple handfuls of chopped cilantro

Throw everything in your favorite pot you use to cook rice. Turn the burner on high and wait for it to boil. Give it a stir and cover. Turn to med/med low and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off burner, move off of the heat, and stir a couple times. Then let rest for five minutes.

FIRST post

Hey...so...I've got some time on my hands and am going to start a blog. It'll be about being unemployed, having a farm share, cooking, sharing recipes...maybe I'll throw in some wedding planning and a dash of food centric doggie.

How does that sound? Hopefully I keep it interesting, get some followers, maybe end up networking with the right person and get a JOB.

So bookmark me. I'll make it funny - I promise.

A.