Sunday, August 1, 2010

How to cook summer squash, part 1

Remember Barbara Kingsolver's Disappearing Zucchini Orzo? I have riffed on that recipe repeatedly, often substituting rice (white or brown) for the orzo. It's such a great formula for using a lot of summer squash. Grate it up and cook it the heck down. I love stirring in a cup or so of grated romano cheese, but it's delicious without.

Tonight, I'm doing it with brown rice and no cheese (it was a heavy-dairy day), but I threw together a little relish-like thing for the top: small dice of tomato, green pepper, peach and onion, with minced serrano for a little kick.

I was pleased that I thought of the peach. I made jam today, and had an extra peach that had been blanched but not yet peeled. And I love sweet fruitiness combined with the subtle heat of a chili pepper. I'm looking forward to this one!

(Hopefully I'll post a picture later!)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What I planted today . . .

Phew, it's hot. I just put in the rest of the tomatoes--I bought a 6-pack of romas (which I planted yesterday) and a 6-pack of sun gold cherries (today). I also planted 3 parsley plants, 6 hot pepper seedlings, a row of radishes, and more kale and chard. I wish I could remember the date I put in the first of the kale and chard, but I'd say around 2 weeks ago. I think the chard is getting eaten by critters (either that or I haven't watered them enough, sigh.) I also planted nasturtiums and marigolds.

Last night I picked up a bag of mesclun mix from Mainstone Farm in Wayland, so for dinner we had a big salad with avocado, radishes, carrots, chickpeas and olives, in a balsamic vinaigrette. Oh, and croutons that I tossed with olive oil and Penzey's "sandwich seasoning." Altogether a very satisfying meal.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Vegetarian Fried Rice (also Mark Bittman's dumplings)

This recipe for pot-stickers is fabulous. Personally, I'm partial to the vegetarian variation listed underneath, and I add mushrooms to the meat filling, too. (My family prefers the pork ones.)

I confess I play extremely fast and loose with the proportions.

Last night I had leftovers of both fillings, so Jon filled wrappers with the pork and I decided to try something different with the vegetarian filling.

Earlier in the day I made a pot of brown rice, lightly salted. I used about a cup of raw rice. It was at room temperature when I set out to make the fried rice.

I heated a couple of tablespoons of oil in a cast-iron skillet and, when it was nice and hot, threw in the leftover vegetarian filling (I'd guess I had about a cup and a half leftover?) and stir fried it for several minutes, until the mushrooms released their liquid and it dried back out again. At that point I stirred in the rice, tossed everything around so it was well-combined, and then lowered the heat. I also tossed in some commercially-prepared baked tofu, cut into little strips. When it was hot, and sticking a bit to the bottom of the pan, I turned off the heat and ate. Yummy.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Broccoli, chickpeas, dried tomatoes & lemon zest

My mom visisted last week, and she brought the cookbook I'd given her for Christmas, Mollie Katzen's The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without. While she was here, we looked at it together, a little, but then it got lost in the shuffle and didn't go home with her. She refused to let me send it to her, but I told her I'd be sure to actually USE it, so her leaving it here wasn't in vain. I'm such a martyr.

True to my word, I've been faithfully making recipes from it. Or not-so-faithfully, as the case may be. I tried the gingered asparagus, and it was sensational. Then I made her cauliflower gratin with capers, which was also excellent. I have my eye on a sweet potato hash with smoked tofu, next.

Last night I riffed on a recipe for broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, and lemon zest, which I served over whole-wheat penne.

2-3 T olive oil
1 bunch broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
6 oil-packed dried tomatoes, chopped fine
zest of one lemon (I used long ribbons, but I think I'd chop it next time so the flavor is distributed better)
1 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
1 clove garlic, minced
toasted pine nuts (optional)
sliced olives (optional)
grated romano cheese (optional)
hot pepper flakes (optional)

Boil a big pot of water and add the broccoli. Cook for two minutes, then drain.

Heat olive oil in large deep skillet. Add garlic, stir for a few moments, and then add dried tomato, lemon zest, and chickpeas. Add broccoli and optional ingredients to taste.

Serve over pasta of choice.

Monday, April 5, 2010

First Harvest

I just plucked a few tender spring chives to put in my egg salad. Heavenly.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Corn, Quinoa, Sweet Potato & White Bean soup

There are several elements to this soup, but it is easy to pull together. I was very happy with the results!

1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 scant cup quinoa, rinsed thoroughly and cooked for 7-10 minutes in 3 cups boiling water
2 cups frozen corn
1 guajillo pepper, seeded and stemmed, soaked in boiling water to cover 15 minutes, then minced (save water)
1/2 lb small white beans (see cooking instructions below)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2-1 tsp each ground cumin and coriander
2 T oil or butter
salt & pepper to taste

Put sweet potato in a saucepan with bean broth (or water) to cover. Bring to a boil and cook till just tender (you don't want it to fall apart). I think I cooked it for 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil or butter. Add corn and let it defrost. Add garlic, pepper, coriander and cumin and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 or 3 minutes. Add bean broth and simmer till corn is cooked (5 minutes max). Add sweet potatoes (and their cooking liquid), quinoa (and its cooking liquid, if any remains), and beans and their cooking liquid, as well as the liquid from soaking the pepper. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

To cook 1 lb white beans: soak in salt water overnight; drain, rinse & cover with fresh water by 2-3 inches. Bring to a boil and skim foam. Add a small peeled onion, a carrot & a couple of stalks of celery. Lower heat to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes. Test; if tender but still intact, add 1 2 tsp salt and continue to cook for another 10 minutes. Take off heat and allow to cool. For the soup recipe, I used all the broth and half the beans. Use remaining beans for baked beans, a bean salad, or another soup.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Green beans with almonds

Every summer, I wind up freezing nearly all the green beans from Drumlin's PYO share. There's just such a bounty at that point, and few things freeze as well as green beans. I wash them, give them a quick trim, blanch, shock and then pack in bags. I've served them to people who can't believe they aren't fresh.

Sometimes I prepare them the way I describe in this post, or sometimes the Greek-style pictured in this post.

But sometimes you just want to go back to basics, like the traditional "Almondine" style. Here's my very simple version with my home-frozen beans.

Thaw beans for an hour or so on the counter. Heat generous tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add green beans and slivered almonds--anywhere from a couple of tablespoons to 1/3 of a cup, depending on how much you have and what else you're serving. I leave the heat nice and high and just shake the pan often. Grab some tongs and move it all around to be sure nothing's burning in the bottom. Add a few pinches of salt and keep it all moving. Test them after 3 or 4 minutes to see if they're hot or tender enough for your liking.