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Archive for September, 2008

Does something still count as a green vegetable if it is coated with bacony goodness? Probably not, but this is an incredibly delicious way to cook chard, fat content be damned. It also uses the stems, unlike so many other ways of preparing chard, so the dish ends up looking very pretty and colorful, in addition to being so tasty.

This recipe comes from Food and Wine was created by Stephanie Izard, winner of the 4th season of Top Chef. If you drooled over her amazing cooking, here is your chance to try some without having to fly to Chicago.

The original recipe calls for it to be served with scallops, but my husband is allergic to them, so I served it with another part of the pig – pork chops.

Ingredients
2 thick slices of bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
1 small onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
1 3/4 pounds rainbow chard—stems sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick, leaves cut into 1-inch strips
2 teaspoons soy sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

The bacon I used did not give up enough fat, so I ended up adding some. If the bacon you are using doesn’t look particularly fatty, you may want to use an additional strip or just keep some butter or oil around to add if you need to. I also didn’t bother seeding my tomato and I don’t think it made a difference. Finally, I ended up using a couple tablespoons of chicken broth, which you may or may not need, depending on your pan and your stove.

Directions

In a large, deep skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat until crisp, 4 minutes. Spoon off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat. Add the onion to the skillet and cook, stirring, until slightly softened, 3 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until tender but not browned, 2 minutes.

At this point, some of the fat was sticking to the pan, so I added a splash of chicken broth to deglaze it a bit. I think everything would have burned if I didn’t, so use your judgment here. If it looks like it’s drying up and sticking, add a tablespoon or two of liquid.

Add the tomato and cook until it begins to break down, 2 minutes. Even when the tomato broke down, I found I needed another small splash of broth to keep it from sticking and to remove the fatty bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the chard stems and cook until crisp-tender, 4 minutes. Add the chard leaves and cook over moderately high heat, tossing, until wilted, 5 minutes; drain off any liquid. Add the soy sauce and cook until the leaves are tender, 2 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
I really wish I didn’t have camera issues this time around because the dish really did look colorful and pretty, but this is the best I got.

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Rose Geranium Cookies

This week’s CSA box contained lots of fun fall produce…sweet potatoes, chard, a pumpkin, and something called rose geranium. I assumed it was a flower, but it’s actually a very floral smelling herb. Imagine a cross between rose and sage.
I wasn’t sure what to do with it, but Google came through. I found a recipe for cookies that looked intriguing. It seems about 15 or 20 different sites print the same recipe, so I have no idea where it originated, so I’ll just credit the internets for this one and hope the copyright police don’t come after me.

The recipe says it makes 4 dozen, though I made my cookies much too big, so I wound up with only 24. That said, they are spongy and light and remind me more of a scone than a cookie. So, if that appeals to you, I suggest making them big.


Rose Geranium Cookies

Ingredients

1/2 c Butter (room temperature)
1 c Sugar
1 Egg
1/2 c Milk
1 ts Rosewater
2 ts Rose geranium leaves finely chopped
2 1/2 c Flour
1 1/2 ts Baking powder
4 Dozen small rose geranium leaves for garnish

I’ve never used rosewater before, but for whatever reason, my grocery store had it in the liquor section next to the grenadine. So, if you can’t find it, maybe check a liquor store. I think it’s common in Middle Eastern cooking, so a specialty store would probably carry it as well.



Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in egg milk and rose water.



Sift together dry ingredients and add them together with the chopped leaves to the creamed mixture stirring until well mixed.



Drop heaping teaspoons onto lightly greased cookie sheet and press a single rose geranium leaf deep into each cookie.

Bake for eight to ten minutes. They didn’t look as pretty as I had hoped, but they taste wonderful. Lightly sweet and very floral. And, they make your kitchen smell like roses.


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Tis the season for yummy soups.

This week’s box had apples in it, and Trader Joes had butternut squash on sale, so I took that as an omen that I needed to make a nice fall soup. This recipe from Food and Wine is amazing.

Ingredients
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
3/4 cup apple cider
One 1 3/4-pound butternut squash—peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch dice (5 1/4 cups)
4 1/2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 McIntosh apple, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/3 cup coarsely shredded smoked cheddar cheese (2 ounces)
One-inch pieces of chives or thinly sliced sage leaves, for garnish

My grocery store didn’t have any decent cider, so I just used high quality, fresh apple juice instead. As for the apples, I think next time, I will peel them first because the skin just created texture issues that I didn’t really like. And, even if you don’t like smoked cheeses, I really recommend trying this with the smoked cheddar and not swapping it out for something more mild. It has a very pungent smell and taste on its own, but it mellows out in the soup and compliments the sweetness of the apples and squash beautifully.

Directions

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 8 minutes. Add the apple cider and cook until syrupy, about 3 minutes. Add the butternut squash and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until the squash is very tender, about 40 minutes.

In a blender, puree the soup in batches. Return the soup to the saucepan and stir in the cream. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.
Heat a medium skillet. Add the butter and diced apple and cook over high heat until the apple is tender and golden around the edges, about 2 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and garnish with the smoked cheddar and sautéed apples. The recipe suggests garnishing with fresh thyme or sage. Instead, I made homemade croutons by roughly chopping some crusty bread, tossing with a bit of olive oil, sea salt, and pepper, and baking at 350 for 20 minutes.

Yum. This really is the perfect fall soup.

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I found a new use for tomatoes and basil that does not involve pesto, cheese, or pasta. We got more of them in our box last Friday and I was determined to try something different with them this time. I pulled this recipe for roasted tomato tabbouleh out of a Martha Stewart magazine ages ago and it seemed like a good way to put these ingredients to use.

It’s a little labor intensive to chop all the herbs and wait for everything to cook and cool down, but it’s definitely worth it. The result was a light, fresh salad and the roasted tomatoes definitely make it more interesting than traditional tabbouleh.
Ingredients

1 cup bulgur wheat
1 cup boiling water
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, finely chopped, plus whole leaves for garnish
1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, finely chopped, plus whole leaves for garnish
1 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped, plus whole leaves for garnish
4 plum tomatoes (10 ounces total), cut into wedges
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 scallions, white and pale-green parts only, thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

I didn’t use roma tomatoes, but instead used a bunch of heirloom cherry tomatoes from my box. I just cut the big ones in half and left the smaller ones whole.

A note on the bulgur: I don’t think I’ve ever seen pre-packaged bulgar except for the kind that come in those prepackaged Near East instant side dishes. If you are having trouble finding it, check out the bulk food aisle at Whole Foods or your nearest hippie grocery store.

Directions

Preheat oven to 425. Place bulgur in a heatproof bowl, add boiling water, and stir. Cover tightly, and refrigerate until liquid has been absorbed, about 1 hour.
Combine chopped herbs. Toss tomatoes with garlic, vinegar, 1 teaspoon oil, and 2 tablespoons chopped herbs on a rimmed baking sheet, and roast until tomatoes begin to soften, about 12 minutes. Let cool.

Add roasted-tomato mixture, remaining chopped herbs, scallions, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and remaining 2 teaspoons oil to bulgur, and gently toss. Garnish with whole herb leaves.


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Friday’s farm share box contained a bag of tomatillos. I’m not really sure what one does with tomatillos besides make salsa verde or gazpacho. Not being a fan of cold soup, salsa it was. It helped that the farm share box also contained a few onions, making this a very easy recipe to shop for.

I found a fabulous recipe on Epicurious and the salsa turned out fantastic. And my two months of California living has turned me into a bona fide Mexican food snob, so I am qualified to make that call.

Ingredients

1 1/2 lb fresh tomatillos
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons coarse salt
5 fresh serrano chiles

Yes, 5 serrano chiles. Apparently the people at Epicurious have tongues of steel. Not wanting to set fire to the mouths of people who would be eating this, I used 3 serranos. As it turned out, it was a good call. The salsa was very spicy – probably about as spicy as most people would want.

Based on that, I would use:

1 if you want it mild
2 for medium heat
3 for very spicy
4 for your friends that dump Texas Pete hot sauce on everything and constantly complain about weak American palates
5 for Fear Factor style party games

Directions
Preheat the broiler.
Remove husks on the tomatillos and rinse under warm water to remove stickiness.

Broil chiles, garlic, and fresh tomatillos on rack of a broiler pan 1 to 2 inches from heat, turning once, until tomatillos are softened and slightly charred, about 7 minutes.

Peel garlic and pull off tops of chiles. Purée all ingredients in a blender. Serve at your next fiesta.

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Curry dishes have always frightened me for some reason. The strange spices and herbs, a fear of making them too spicy or not spicy enough, and the fact that they tend to involve a large number of ingredients.

This recipe from Food and Wine, however, seemed simple enough. As it turned out, I had to make some changes as I went along to it to get it to work, but it all worked out deliciously.

Ingredients
1/4 cup grapeseed or canola oil
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
All-purpose flour, for dusting
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper—cored, seeded and cut into thin strips
1 tablespoon Madras curry powder
1 pound tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fresh corn kernels (from 1 ear)

1/4 cup Greek-style plain low-fat yogurt
1/2 cup water
Cilantro leaves, for garnish

My changes

The recipe called for what seemed to be a lot of oil, so I used about 2 tablespoons, and that was fine. I used 6 bone-in chicken thighs, with the skin, and the skin may have added extra fat that was lost when I cut out the oil, so if you go with skinless, you might need more oil.

I skipped the corn and instead, added a very finely minced green bell pepper. My farm share brought peppers and not corn this week, and this seemed like a good place to use it. What this meant was, that the final dish was quite spicy. So, I had to add about a tablespoon or so of brown sugar into the dish towards the end as it was simmering.

Finally, 1/4 cup of yogurt is not a lot at all. I wanted a lot of sauce to pour over rice. So I used about 3/4 cup, and doubled the amount of curry.

The resulting dish was still very spicy, but very good. I recommend just adding the spices and sugar slowly, tasting as you go. Well, don’t taste too soon or you’ll find yourself with a nice bout of salmonella, but you know what I mean.

Directions

In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and lightly dust with flour, tapping off the excess. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook over high heat, turning once, until lightly browned, 6 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

Add the ginger, garlic, chile and bell pepper to the skillet and cook over high heat until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the curry powder and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, corn, yogurt and water; stir until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over very low heat until the chicken is tender and the juices are slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle the chicken with cilantro and serve.

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I think I may actually be getting a handle on this photo thing.



See what I mean? I’m not going to quit my day job, but I think this is an improvement.

So, on to the dish. We’ve gotten basil in every CSA box this summer and have made pesto a few times, but this time I wanted to try something different. Pesto is one of those things that is pretty hard to screw up, so I figured I could just throw some stuff in a food processor and cross my fingers.

Thankfully, my plan worked. So, here’s my new spin on pesto.

Ingredients

* All measurements are approximate
2 cups of basil – I used leaves and stems. Jaime Oliver says stems are fine, and I trust him.
1/4 cup parmegian cheese
1/4 cup shelled pistachios (if they are salted, just be careful when you actually do add salt)
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes
1/3 cup of olive oil (or some of the oil from the sun dried tomatoes)
Salt and pepper to taste
Directions

– Toss the basil, parmesian, and half of the pistachios and sun dried tomatoes in to a food processer and pulse until coarsely chopped. (If you want very smooth pesto, add all the pistachios and sun dried tomatoes.)

– Slowly add the olive oil, salt and pepper, and the extra pistachios and sun dried tomatoes. You may need to stop the food processor to scrap down the sides once or twice.

– Puree until you have reached your desired consistency.


To serve, I tossed a few spoonfuls over some pasta, chopped fresh cherry tomatoes, and fresh mozzerella. Yum.

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