Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bella's new words

Wow... it's been over a month since I posted anything here! It's kind of hard to think of some of the exceptional food we've eaten in the past month while Nick is loudly reading Green Eggs and Ham to Bella, but I'll try.

Bella's saying lots of new words: "squash," "okra," "peach," "peas," "chowchow" (eaten with the peas), "flowers," and "rain" are just a few. We're working on "tomato." Can you tell what we've been eating (and growing)lately? Here are some of the recipes (or links to recipes) that we've especially enjoyed.

Grilled peach and mozzarella salad Sounds strange, but quite yummy. We served this with grilled shrimp skewers and Peppery grilled okra. www.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1806860


Summer vegetable stacks with gremolata Of course, you could omit the tofu, but you really should try it grilled with gremolata. Yum.

Grilled watermelon and prawns Don't let the long ingredient list and multiple steps fool you. We prepared this for my parents and served it with basmati rice-- it was amazingly delicious!


Watermelon gazpacho The rest of that watermelon went into watermelon gazpacho. I used my favorite gazpacho recipe, substituting watermelon for cucumber. It was the perfect summer lunch-- even leftover!

Zucchini vichyssoise Summer isn't exactly soup weather, unless it's chilled soup. This soup is equally delicous cold or hot.


Spicy catfish with vegetables and basil cream We substituted flounder because that's what we had in the freezer, and it turned out great. www.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=426513

The next day I wrapped the leftover vegetable mixture in phyllo dough to make maque choux turnovers. Place 1 sheet of phyllo on a flat surface (I use a large cutting board or baking sheet). Spray with cooking spray; top with another phyllo sheet. Fold phyllo in half lengthwise. Place 1-2 T. filling at left end. Fold one corner over to meet straight edge. Continue to fold this triangle up and toward opposite end as if folding a flag. Spray folded bundle with cooking spray and bake until golden brown.

In Cat Cora's Cooking from the Hip, there's a recipe for a chicken & peach stir-fry. We used tofu and snow peas, and the peaches were a wonderful addition. In that same cookbook, there's also a great recipe for sweet potato latkes.

Finally, a true Southern supper: purple hull peas, fried okra, and fried green tomatoes. I'd never eaten, much less cooked, fried green tomatoes. I was pretty proud of how they turned out! I poured a tiny bit of buttermilk over the okra before adding seasoned cornmeal (I use Tony Chachere's), to help the cornmeal stick. The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook recommends simply dredging green tomatoes in seasoned cornmeal before frying, so that's what I did. For an alternate coating, check out Deanna's Southern supper at http://www.deannasgoodeats.blogspot.com/ .

Upcoming post: Eggplant!

Monday, June 22, 2009


So, according to my husband, summer has officially arrived. Mind you, he doesn't mark seasons by the calendar but by activities-- such as wearing his seersucker suit and suede bucks, eating blueberry cobbler, drinking mint juleps... You get the idea. I tend to mark seasons by food, so I'm declaring it summer, too, due to peaches and tomatoes from our farmers. Today's lunch was chilled tomato and peach soup with tomato jam & mozzarella tart. (Soup recipe is also courtesy of our farmers; Jill sent it out last summer.)

Recipe, links, and notes

Chilled tomato & peach soup

1 T butter

1 clove garlic, pressed

1 ts fresh ginger, minced or grated

3 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 1/2 c chicken or vegetable stock

3 large peaches, peeled and coarsely chopped

2 ts sugar

1/2 c cream

salt, pepper

Melt butter in a medium stockpot. Add tomatoes, garlic, and ginger; cook over medium heat until fragrant. Add stock; simmer 20 mins. Strain tomato mixture, pressing as much liquid as possible through sieve; discard pulp. Season remaining liquid with sugar, salt and pepper. Puree peaches, then add to liquid. Stir in cream. Cover and chill.

Rather than straining out tomato pulp, I added the cooked tomatoes, garlic, and ginger to the blender when I pureed the peaches. Be careful if you do this, because hot liquids really expand in the blender! Try to add as little of the hot tomato liquid as possible, and hold the blender lid with a folded kitchen towel. (Thanks to Cat Cora for this tip, which saved my outfit and ceiling today.) Or, allow the tomato mixture to cool before blending. Or, add the peaches to the tomato mixture and use an immersion blender.

Tomato jam www.vegetariantimes.com/recipes/10685?section
Make this when summer apples and tomatoes are available at the farmers' market. The apples are naturally high in pectin, so it sets beautifully, like magic! I've tried substituting peaches for apples and adding pectin, but couldn't get the amounts just right, so I ended up with a delicious tomato-peach sauce instead. One substitution that did work-- red pepper flakes for the jalapeno. Try it with grilled fish or pork.

Tomato jam tart
Top 1 sheet thawed puff pastry with diced fresh mozzarella and tomato jam. Fold edges (about 1") over filling. Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Vegetables galore!

Whitton Farms CSA is in full swing, which means we have lots and lots of fresh, local vegetables to eat! It's been quite awhile since I've blogged, so I'm looking back over my past weekly menus for highlights. Here are a few:

Sweet potato gnocchi: www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/sweet-potato-gnocchi-with-maple-cinnamon-sage-brown-butter-recipe/index.html
Comes together quickly if the sweet potatoes are already cooked. I baked mine a day or so ahead of time.

Calzone of greens of the First of May: Cheesy name, but incredibly delicous. According to Rachael Ray, it's a traditional dish eaten on May 1. Couldn't find a link, so here's the basic recipe:
Heat olive oil in a medium skillet. Add 1-2 cloves pressed garlic, some red peppper flakes, a little anchovy paste (you could omit this); cook for 1 minute, then add the chopped mixed greens. Saute greens until wilted. Season with salt, pepper, a pinch of nutmeg. Stir in chopped green olives and capers. Remove from heat and stir in a squeeze of lemon juice. (Emeril Lagasse's "fork a lemon" trick works well here.) Spoon mixture into your favorite calzone/pizza crust and bake until golden brown.

Peppers & greens skillet hash(modified from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics):
4-6 c stemmed sliced Swiss chard or spinach
3 T olive oil
2 c chopped onion
1 garlic clove, pressed
10 c diced potatoes
2 c chopped red bell pepper
1 ts fresh thyme
1 c sliced mushrooms
2 T soy sauce
4 dashes Tabasco
Heat oil in large skillet. Add onion, garlic, and potatoes; stir well. Spread evenly in skillet, cover, and cook for about 5 minutes. Uncover; stir well. Cook for another 5-8 mins. until potatoes are tender and browned. Add bell pepper-mushrooms. Cover and cook 5-10 mins., stirring frequently, until greens are wilted and mushrooms have released their liquid. Add soy sauce and Tabasco. Serve immediately.

Quick cinnamon biscuits (also from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics):

Herbed fish in a packet www.moosewoodrestaurant.com/recipes_archive.html#8
Today is my 9th wedding anniversary. Our celebratory dinner was a variation on this recipe (I used flounder, orange slices, rosemary, thyme, and onion), served with roasted potatoes and sauteed spinach and fennel. The plate wasn't as pretty as I'd hoped-- hence, no photo-- but the meal was absolutely delicious. I'd never tried fennel, and absolutely love the orange/fennel combination. Yummy.

I'm sure there are many more noteworthy meals that I've forgotten or am too tired to type up for you... and I need to prepare our anniversary dessert-- peach napoleon (fancy name for sliced peaches and whipped cream on puff pastry shells).

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Work with what you've got

I had a frustrating morning yesterday. Everything I tried to do just didn't work. That said, I was almost afraid to attempt preparing lunch, for fear it would be a disaster. We were pleasantly surprised that it was not. I was going to make gnocchi primavera, until I realized that I didn't have any little green peas. I did, however, have some green beans in the freezer, so... gnocchi with green beans and pesto! (Inspired by a Jamie Oliver recipe; see link below for Mario Batali's version.) Although I had to rethink the sauce and vegetables, my homemade gnocchi turned out great, and lunch was delicious. The gnocchi recipe I used was from Pampered Chef, but the link I'm posting is similar. If you don't have a food mill, you can use a potato masher or ricer, but I wouldn't recommend a food processor. Don't be intimidated by the length of the recipe. Gnocchi is really easy and quite fun to make. Of course, if you don't want to try your hand, you can buy it in the Italian specialty section of the grocery store.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Breakfast, lunch, & dinner

I'm so proud of myself-- I prepared 3 meals today, and all were delicious! I just realized, though, that we've consumed a lot of dairy today. Breakfast was fresh strawberries with whipped cream and granola (okay, so Nick made the granola last night), drizzled with honey. Lunch was grilled pimiento cheese sandwiches, inspired by the one I ate at Early Girl in Asheville. (I love my bread machine!) Supper was shrimp pesto penne.


Shrimp pesto penne
While pasta cooks, combine 1-2 T each olive oil and butter in medium saucepan. Add peeled, deveined shrimp, enough cream to cover, and 2-3 T pesto. Heat shrimp and cream mixture until shrimp turn pink. Combine with pasta.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A yummy vacation

We just got back from Asheville, NC, where there are fabulous local restaurants everywhere! Unfortunately, one of our favorites was closed for the week, but even without Tupelo Honey, we ate very well. Rosemary braised seitan with truffled parsnip-potato mash and broccolini at Laughing Seed... sweet potato hashbrowns and sauteed kale at Green Sage... lobster mac & cheese, pecan crusted trout, and braised bok choy at Lobster Trap... grilled pimiento cheese sandwich at Early Girl Eatery... and an amazing Indian buffet of dishes I can't spell or pronounce at Mela. When we weren't dining in downtown Asheville, we enjoyed fresh, local (well, mostly local) produce and meats which we prepared at the cabin. If you're ever in Asheville, check out these restaurants and Hickory Nut Gap Farm, which supplies many of them. I'll try to post pictures soon.

Since we couldn't eat at Tupelo Honey Cafe, I decided to try to recreate part of their menu at home. My first attempt-- candied ginger cornbread. It turned out pretty well, but I should have added sugar and more ginger. The cornbread was delicious with sweet potato bisque (a.k.a., Moosewood's Potage Jacqueline; see recipe link below). I used a standard buttermilk cornbread recipe and added chopped crystallized ginger.

Tomorrow I'll be trying to recreate Early Girl's grilled pimiento cheese-- I'll let you know how it goes!


Many of the restaurants I've mentioned have posted their menus online. Check out the restaurants section of www.romanticasheville for inspiration.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Happy birthday, Nick!

Nick and I usually celebrate special occasions by preparing and enjoying a special meal at home. For his birthday, Nick requested poblano enchiladas (a.k.a. "those enchiladas you fixed when Keith and Jill came over"), black beans, and guacamole. He's hooked on Haagen-Das mango sorbet, so when I found a recipe in Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa in Paris cookbook, I had to try it for dessert. (I couldn't find the recipe in the Food Network archive, but a search for mango sorbet did turn up some yummy-sounding results.) Here's a link for the enchiladas: