One CSA box, one family of four, and a whole lot of possibilities.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Summer's bounty

It's ironic that here we are in the thick of summer with produce coming in fast and furious and I seem to have taken a little hiatus from writing this blog. Maybe not ironic exactly, but you get what I mean.

Summer's bounty is pretty awesome and we have been getting lots of great stuff -- zucchini, onions, pickling cukes, red and green cabbage, lettuce etc. Last week we even got garlic and shallots, too. I've been making alot of salad. And homemade salad dressing, which is better than anything from a bottle. (Sorry Paul Newman.)

If you've never made your own salad dressing you should know that it's easy, fast and tastes great. Here's how. Put one teaspoon Dijon mustard in a jar with screw on lid. Add some salt and freshly ground pepper. Add one garlic clove pressed or one finely chopped shallot. Mix in one tablespoon vinegar. I like white balsamic or red wine vinegar, but you can adjust what you pick based on your other salad ingredients. Shake. Add three to four tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Shake. Taste for seasonings and dress salad.
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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Chopped Cabbage Salad

My work schedule changed this week and I have less time during the day to devote to cooking and blogging. Working as a freelance writer from home for the last two years I could often cook in between assignments. Now that I work in an office, the last two nights I've walked in the door at 5:30, kicked off my shoes, tied on an apron and scooted to the stove to cook, glass of wine nearby. It's different, but enjoyable.

This salad saved me some time Tuesday when I was at a loss for an easy vegetable to go with some sandwiches we were bolting down before heading to the Orioles game. I had made it Monday night to go with fish tacos and proved to be better the second day than the first. I hate soggy leftover dressed salad. It's slimy and gross. But cabbage lightly dressed with olive oil and white vinegar gets better with time. It softens and absorbs the other flavors in the salad. If you have time, salt the cabbage before assembling the salad. If not, it still tastes good on Day 1. And even better on Day 2. And it's really forgiving. Add in any of the suggestions, or not, and it always tastes great.

Chopped Cabbage Salad
1 small head cabbage
salt as needed
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots,
1 small onion, minced
1 red or yellow bell pepper,
1/3 Cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons sherry or white wine vinegar
fresh ground pepper
(optional) cubed cooked potatoes, chickpeas, green beans, peas, feta,
blue cheese, avocado, radishes

Core and roughly chop chopped , put it in a colander and sprinkle with a couple tablespoons of salt. Check in ten minutes, and if the chopped is not yet "weeping", add a bit more salt, then mix so all chopped is salted. Put a plate on the chopped to press it down and let it sit for at least an hour or as much as two hours. If chopped
becomes too salty, rinse it before using.

Add remaining ingredients to the cabbage, toss well. Garnish with parsley. Serve immediately, or put in the refrigerator to meld flavors. The salad will keep for a couple of days.

VARIATION: Asian Style
Chopped Cabbage Salad: Instead of the olive oil, use 1 tablespoon sesame oil, and 5
tablespoons peanut oil. Substitute lime juice or rice vinegar for sherry vinegar or lemon juice. Add some minced fresh hot chile and chopped scallions. Garnish with chopped cilantro

Adapted from "Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating" by Mark Bittman (Simon and Schuster, 2008).

Frisee Salad with Lardons and Poached Eggs

One of the leafy green items we got this week was curly endive. Also known as chicory or frisée , it's a bitter lettuce. Very bitter. Mean girl bitter.
To be honest, I wasn't sure what to do with it. Had it been cooler outside I would have tossed it in a pot of Italian Wedding Soup, which would have blunted some of its sharpness. But the weatherman was calling for more typical Baltimore summer weather (Translation: Hot and sticky.)
So I made salad. With warm bacon dressing. And a poached egg on top. Break into the egg and the warm yolk drips over the dressed greens and creates this delicious, rich tasting sauce that complements sharp vinaigrette and salty bacon. I sprinkled my bowl with a little crumbled blue cheese, because I thought I remembered that a french bistro near here does the same.

Here's the recipe I used from Gourmet Magazine:


The secret to this take on salad lyonnaise is very fresh eggs. If the slab bacon you're using is particularly lean, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to the skillet when cooking.
  • 1/2 lb frisée (French curly endive)
  • 6 oz slab bacon or thick-cut bacon slices
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallot
  • 3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • Tear frisée into bite-size pieces and put in a large bowl. If using slab bacon, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Cut bacon slices crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick sticks (lardons).
  • In a heavy skillet cook bacon over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden and remove skillet from heat.
  • Have ready another skillet with 1 inch warm water. Half-fill a 4-quart saucepan with water and stir in white vinegar. Bring liquid to a bare simmer. Break each egg into a teacup. Slide 1 egg into simmering liquid and immediately push white around yolk with a slotted spoon, moving egg gently. (Egg will become oval, with yolk completely covered by white.) Add remaining 3 eggs in same manner. Simmer eggs about 1 1/2 minutes for runny yolks to about 3 minutes for firm yolks. (Serving this salad with runny—not fully cooked—yolks may be of concern if there is a problem with salmonella in your area.) Immediately transfer eggs to skillet of warm water.
  • Reheat bacon in its skillet over moderate heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add red-wine vinegar and boil 5 seconds. Immediately pour hot dressing over frisée and toss with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Divide salad among 4 plates and top with drained poached eggs. Season eggs with salt and pepper and serve salad immediately.
Recipe courtesy of Gourmet

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Choppin' broccoli

Culinary gods come and go.

When I first started cooking, Fannie Farmer was my go-to girl for recipes. Later it became Mark Bittman. And just this Spring I found a new go-to goddess -- Melissa Clark from the New York Times. The cookbook club I belong to (INSERT SHAMELESS PLUG HERE, uh sorry, I mean -- tested her book "In the Kitchen With A Good Appetite" in April and found a lot to like about the straightforward, unpretentious recipes.

The hands down winner of the book is this Garlicky Sesame-Cured Broccoli Salad. This is not a salad for the faint of heart. It's spicy, salty, garlicky, and crunchy. It can be a finger food at cocktail time or a salad on a buffet. Kids even like it. Shocking, but true.

So this recipe was what I thought of immediately when I saw the broccoli in the box this week. Sure the bunch was smaller than what you find in the grocery, but bigger than the head of CSA broccoli we got two weeks ago. Which means that summer is really here.

Garlicky Sesame-Cured Broccoli Salad

Time: 10 minutes, plus 1 hour marinating

1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste

2 heads broccoli, 1 pound each, cut into bite-size florets

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

4 fat garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

2 teaspoons roasted (Asian) sesame oil

Large pinch crushed red pepper flakes.

1. In a large bowl, stir together the vinegar and salt. Add broccoli and toss to combine.

2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil until hot, but not smoking. Add garlic and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in sesame oil and pepper flakes. Pour mixture over broccoli and toss well. Let sit for at least 1 hour at room temperature, and up to 48 (chill it if you want to keep it for more than 2 hours). Adjust seasonings (it may need more salt) and serve.

Yield: 6 to 8 side-dish servings or more as an hors d’oeuvre.

Recipe from "In the Kitchen With Good Appetite" by Melissa Clark, also published on February 20, 2008 in the New York Times.

Oh, boy!

The theme of this week is: You can have any vegetable you want, kid, just as long as it's green.

Too early for tomatoes and watermelon, so here we are in Greenland. Must spend some time washing and spinning dry my haul and looking up salad recipes.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

You look radishing, really.

I never really thought much about radishes. They came in a plastic bag, tasted kind of sharp, and didn't make much of an impression on me when my mom tossed them in a salad.

Then one morning at the farmers market I cam across some pink and white radishes that were long and thin, with floppy green tops. I loved them upon first sight and bought them on the spot. I had no idea what to do with them, but through some high level research (um, Google) I discovered that these mild radishes go well with buttered bread and a sprinkling of coarse salt. And a new favorite sandwich was born.

So when the CSA box yielded a bunch of white radishes, I knew what to do. I washed them, cut off the tops and put them on a plate with some salt. I didn't include bread or butter, because I was cooking crab cake tacos and didn't want to spoil anyone's dinner. They were sweet and mild, salty and crunchy. Better than potato chips. Or close, anyway.

Monday, June 20, 2011

We are still eating a lot of salad. But tonight, I'm also planning to cook the swiss chard that I blanched earlier in the week.

I love swiss chard. It's mild, tastes good hot or cold, and is easy to prep. Basically all you do is put some olive oil in a skillet, add some garlic and cook until fragrant, then add the blanched chard. Cook until heated through. Add some raisins that you've soaked in hot water and drained, some toasted pine nuts, and some salt and freshly ground pepper.

If you prefer a true agrodolce, or sweet and sour chard, add some vinegar. If you aren't fond of fruit in your veg, leave out the raisins. And if you have some leftover, toss it in your eggs tomorrow at breakfast.