Still More Cookbooks for You and Other People

all cookbooksCookbooks are back. Well, they never left, but popularity waned. It has been oft cited this year that cookbook sales are up over 20%. As you can see from the catalog of links below, I would agree that cookbooks are a valuable use of your funds and shelf space. I love food blogs as much as the next food blogger for the instant gratification, the ease of sharing recipes, and the variety you can find (all available for free!). But, a cookbook is a person and a moment in time committed to paper. Cookbooks are recipes, techniques, and stories literally bound together for both cohesive narrative and lessons. They are beautiful inspiration. The link to your favorite recipe never breaks, and you can keep the page to a recipe open and save your phone from getting caked with raw egg and flour.

Cookbooks can also make wonderful gifts. I have an extensive collection, but have limited my suggestions here to cookbooks I truly use all the time and have also gifted myself. I still own and love all of the cookbooks I wrote about previously, so be sure to look at past year’s lists as well (they are all linked to at the bottom).

But, maybe you aren’t into buying people things, or you don’t have the cash to do so right now. I’ve also given homemade cookbooks with a collection of my favorite recipes. Use a binder, some spray paint or cool paper (purchasing is not necessary, you could just use a brown paper bag and draw/stamp on it!), and fill it with dividers. Print out your favorite recipes and load them in! You could do a specific theme too, like one year I made my mom one with all soup recipes because she makes lots of soup during the winter for our family.

good and cheapGood and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/day by Leanne Brown. Brown wrote this cookbook as part of her masters in food studies to help people on SNAP cook healthy, flavorful, and interesting meals. She released the cookbook as a free PDF (which you can download through the link above), but if you buy a paper copy her publisher will donate a book to someone in need. The book is available in English and Spanish. These reasons alone would seem like enough to earn a recommendation, but what is most important is the book is full of solid, easy to follow, and delicious recipes. She is truly a master of taking cheap basics and reworking them in many dishes.

This book is best for: people who may not be comfortable in the kitchen yet, people who are not into long ingredient lists or fancy techniques, students, people who like saving money.

Favorite recipes: poutine, peanut chicken with broccoli and coconut rice, coconut and lime brown rice pudding.

IMG_6535Smitten Kitchen Every Day by Deb Perelman. I approached this book cautiously when it came out last year. Could I possibly love and cook from it as much as I had Deb’s first book? It is still early to tell (I’ve had her first book for six years), but I think the answer is yes. Like her first cookbook this one has a wide range of types of recipes with everything from breakfast to salads to vegetarian mains to dessert (it is not an exclusively vegetarian cookbook, but many recipes are). Her recipes are always well written, and are interesting but feel very achievable on a weeknight. While I am not in the business of recommending cookbooks for a single recipe, the street cart chicken and rice alone makes the book worthwhile to me. I’ve written about my love for this recipe before, and for my husband’s birthday this year I quadrupled the recipe for a party and it was a huge hit.

This cookbook is best for: busy people with a wide palate, people who aren’t afraid to try a new ingredient or technique, your best friend, bakers, part or full time vegetarians.

Favorite recipes: street cart chicken and rice, skirt steak salad, spaghetti pangratto with crispy eggs, pizza beans.

homemade kitchenThe Homemade Kitchen by Alana Chernila. This book is just so lovely. It is Chernila’s second book (I recommended her first, The Homemade Pantry, in my first cookbook post way back in 2014) and the chapters are based around inspirational mantras, like “start where you are,” “eat outside” and “do your best, and then let go.” The recipes range from simple and perfect for a beginner like roast chicken to more complicated projects like making tofu. Many of the recipes have ideas for other variations to adapt to your tastes or the season. Chernila is empowering, reflective, and an excellent teacher.

This cookbook is best for: people who love cooking and talking about why they cook, beginners who need encouragement, parents, people who like to cook for crowds.

Favorite recipes: quick pickled cabbage, chicken pot pie, kimchi breakfast tata, spoon butter.

IMG_6543Dinner: Changing the Game by Melissa Clark. I got this out of the library last year, and knew immediately it was the perfect book for my mom. The recipes are incredibly varied and vegetable heavy, but each recipe constitutes an entire meal. I bought it for her birthday and she loved cooking from it, and then bought it for me for Christmas last year (how is that for a gift endorsement??).  I’ve been cooking for work more and more, and while I still love planning elaborate meals I’ve found myself with less energy to do that during the week and just needing to figure out something for dinner. This book delivers with straightforward recipes that are never boring. Clark does rely on some more exotic ingredients to get maximum flavor from simple recipes, but just about every one can be found at a well-stocked grocery store.

This cookbook is best for: your mom, people who like flavor-packed ingredients like harissa, anchovies, and vinegar, busy people who like interesting food.

Favorite recipes: olive oil-braised chickpeas, harissa chicken, red curry and coconut tofu.

Are you still not convinced that cookbooks are the right gift for yourself? Or maybe you need to buy a gift for the friend who lives in a shoe box apartment with no room for a cookbook shelf? This year I started subscribing to New York Times Cooking and I will never look back. Sam Sifton has entirely transformed the Cooking section to be an extensive catalog of recipes that is easily searchable and save-able in your “recipe box”. The staff (including the great Melissa Clark and Alison Roman) publish great recipes and long-form pieces regularly. It is $5/month or $40/year.

Past Recommendations:

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Vegan Tofu Bowls with Citrus Tahini Sauce

tofu bowl 2What should make when you need a reset after weekend eating? When you aren’t fully inspired, but have a fridge full of random vegetables? Or, when you feel like there is nothing in the fridge? When you have a bunch of diet restrictions at the dinner table? When you want to eat something incredibly satisfying and delicious?

Tofu bowls.

I’ve been making some variation of this bowl almost monthly for years. Tofu, rice, and the sauce are constants, but toppings always fluctuate depending on the season and what is in the fridge. If the ingredient list for the sauce seems long (or maybe contains nothing in your normal pantry), know that almost all the ingredients keep very well, so once you invest in them once you can make these bowls whenever the craving strikes (which will be often). The sauce is the great unifier and elevator that takes this from a bowl of health to a delightful dinner you really want to eat.

I like to use a mix of raw and cooked vegetables for textural contrast, but you can literally use whatever you fancy. Cucumbers, carrots, radishes, salad turnips, and avocado all make great options for a raw component. For cooked I’ve used many different types of greens (kale, collards, radish, turnip, chard), cabbage, Brussels sprouts, summer squashes, winter squashes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and eggplant. Don’t feel limited by these options, use what you’ve got. This is also a great time to utilize leftover cooked vegetables from another meal.

This is the tail end of my CSA and my final week included celeriac, sweet potatoes, radishes, parsley, scallions, and lettuce. I used the lettuce in a salad inspired by this recipe with roasted carrots, couscous, and yogurt. It is an excellent time of year to make these root vegetable bowls.  If you haven’t yet, it’s time to make the celeriac slaw from a couple weeks ago (I’d throw in the scallions too), or this excellent winter chowder. If you want to see the whole season of CSA recipes, they are under the Potter Hill tag!

Vegan Tofu Bowls with Citrus Tahini Sauce

Serves 6.

Tofu marinade and method adapted from Thug Kitchen, sauce just barely adapted from Bowl + Spoon (which is also posted here). I’ve written this to serve 6, but if you want to scale this assume ¼ cup uncooked brown rice (1 ½ cups total) and ~2.5 ounces tofu per serving.

Marinated Tofu

  • ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic chili sauce (or, 1 teaspoon grated garlic and 2 teaspoons sriracha)
  • 1 14-ounce container extra firm tofu

Citrus Tahini Sauce

  • 1⁄3 cup fresh-squeezed orange, clementine, or tangerine juice (you only need a little, so go the distance)
  • ½ cup tahini
  • 2 tablespoons honey, maple syrup, or agave
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

For serving:

  • Cooked brown rice or noodles (see head note)
  • Raw vegetables and herbs (for these I used 1 small bunch radishes (sliced), pickled onions, scallions, and avocado)
  • Cooked vegetables (for these I used 1 large sweet potato which I cubed and roasted with the tofu, plus the radish greens which I threw on the same pan as the sweet potato in the last 2 minutes of cooking)

Remove tofu from container and drain all liquid (don’t discard the container!!!). Wrap tofu in a clean cloth napkin or dish towel, and place on a bowl/plate. Top with another bowl/plate, and place a weight on top (such as a full can of beans). Let drain for at least 30 minutes, but longer is great.

While tofu is draining place all marinade ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine.

Remove tofu from the napkin and slice into 1/4″ planks width-wise (you should have 10-12 planks total). Return planks to their original container, and pour marinade over them. Poke in between the slices so the marinade can mingle. Let tofu marinate for 30 minutes (flip the slices over halfway through if you can remember to).

Preheat oven to 450F. Spread out tofu slices (reserving additional marinade) and roast for 15 minutes. Flip, spoon extra marinade over each slice, and roast for 10 more minutes. Flip one more time, spoon any remaining marinade over, and roast for 5 minutes more.

Whisk all sauce ingredients to combine. Prep vegetables for serving.

Serve bowls with rice, tofu, raw and cooked vegetables, any extra marinade, tahini citrus sauce, and extra sriracha. For maximum meal flexibility let diners assemble their own bowls.

 

 

Curry Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut Milk

IMG_20181101_122925192For most of my life I was anti-squash soup. I found the texture off-putting, and I didn’t care for the flavor enough to try to overcome that aversion. But five years ago Molly Wizenberg introduced me to this soup. It isn’t a Pumpkin Spice Latte in soup form. It has rich coconut milk to provide a velvety texture without the need for a high powered blender. Instead of cinnamon or another official fall spice, it has curry powder to bring additional warmth, fish sauce for salty funk, and lime juice for the hit of acid so many squash soups are missing. It was the potential I tasted every time I had a spoonful of lackluster soup before this.

I’ve made it so many times I felt it deserved a spot here. I’ve made a few changes from Molly’s, mainly that I always double it because that means I can use a whole squash and a whole quart of broth. It is perfect for freezing in individual portions and grabbing on those days when you need an emergency lunch because maybe you went out for pizza the night before instead of cooking (like I did this week).

It is nearing the end of our CSA season, which means it is time to stock up the ole root cellar! But in reality I live in an apartment on the top floor of a classic Worcester triple decker so there is no cellar to speak of. If you are in a similar situation, you can still store winter crops for quite a while. The share this week was carrots, chard, butternut, potatoes, and onions. I store the carrots in a plastic bag in the produce drawer of my fridge and they will last for months there. Butternut stores well in a dark, dry place but should not be refrigerated (unless it is cut). Potatoes and onions should be stored in complete darkness, separately if possible because the gas from onions encourages potatoes to sprout (as I learned here). Potatoes do best in a paper bag and onions prefer the open air (I keep them in those wood boxes clementines come in).

If you do want to cook with your veg from this week right away, then you can do that too! Before I found this soup, Ottolenghi was the first one to truly show me the merits of butternut squash. This recipe with tahini and za’atar and this recipe with yogurt and chili are both great. I’m going classic this week and making a roasted chicken with roasted potatoes. I’ve also been using the potatoes for a quick breakfast hash with whatever else I have around, like broccoli and onions (egg on top required).

Curry Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut Milk

I put a range for the squash size because they can be so variable. No need to do something silly like use a squash a half (unless you already have a plan for the other half). Just know that the bigger your squash is, the thicker and heartier the soup will be.

  •  3 tablespoons coconut oil (you can also use vegetable or olive oil)
  •  2 cups of chopped onion (this was one medium onion and 2 small ones for me)
  •  6 garlic cloves, minced
  •  2 tablespoons curry powder
  •  1 large butternut squash (about 3-4 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  •  2 14-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk
  •  4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  •  2 tablespoons maple syrup
  •  2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
  •  2 teaspoons Sriracha or other Asian chili sauce, plus more for serving
  •  Lime wedges, for serving

In a large soup pot, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook for 5 minutes, or until it becomes soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook 1-2 minutes more, until it is fragrant. Add the curry powder and cook for another minute. Add in the squash, broth, coconut milk, maple syrup, fish sauce, and Sriracha. Turn the heat up to high, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 30-40 minutes (until the squash can be easily pierced with a fork).

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup (or, you can use a blender and puree it in batches). Serve with extra Sriracha and lime wedges.

Celeriac slaw with apples, herbs, and horseradish

celeriac slawI know “slaw” probably makes you think of summer, but this one is firmly rooted in fall. Celeriac (or, celery root) tastes like a celery-scented potato. Unlike a potato, it is fine to eat raw. It makes an excellent pair with autumn apples – the crisper and tarter, the better. Tossed in a bright dressing with lemon, mustard, horseradish, and yogurt (for creamy contrast), it would be excellent alongside a pork chop .

My Potter Hill CSA share share was celeriac, perpetual spinach, onions, potatoes, green peppers, spicy lettuce, purple turnips, and a handful of spicy peppers. This week has been a little lighter on cooking and heavier on aspiration from extra leftovers and lots of dinner work events. When I brought my share home I made a quick stir fry with some leftover eggplant, plus the perpetual spinach, turnip greens, and green peppers (using this sauce). I’m contemplating trying a fermented hot sauce with the medley of spicy peppers. I’m going to wait on cooking the potatoes since they will last a few weeks, but I am still dreaming about this harissa chicken with leeks and potatoes I made a few weeks ago (make it!!!!). I really only want to eat one green salad this time of year, which is spicy greens with a Dijon vinaigrette (like this one), toasted nuts, apples, and dried cranberries (autumnal AF). If you are looking for a festive meal for Halloween, I highly recommend these black and orange burrito bowls (or you could have the same fillings in tacos!).

Celeriac slaw with apples, herbs, and horseradish

Celeriac is pretty knotty, so I find it is easier to peel it with a knife than a vegetable  peeler. Slice off the stems if they’re still attached and some of the remaining roots on the bottom. Then use your chef’s knife (or a paring knife) to remove the outer 1/4 inch.

Adapted from Happyolks

  • 4 tablespoons of lemon juice, divided
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 2 heaping teaspoons prepared horseradish (if you have fresh definitely use that, but start with 1 teaspoon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon(ish) fresh ground pepper
  • 2 celeriac (aka celery root), peeled
  • 2 apples (no need to peel)
  • 1 cup parsley leaves, roughly chopped

In a large bowl whisk together 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, Dijon, honey, extra virgin olive oil, Greek yogurt, horseradish, salt, and pepper.

Thinly slice the celeriac and apple into planks about 1/8″ thick, and then slice into matchsticks of the same thickness (alternatively, you can use a mandolin). In a small bowl toss the sliced apples with the remaining tablespoon of lemon juice.

Add the sliced celeriac, apples, and parsley to the bowl and toss to combine with the dressing. Salad is best immediately, but will last for a couple days (the apple just won’t be as crisp).

Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Soup

IMG_20181018_173543805I have a certain affinity for unappetizing foods. Foods that look terrible no matter what, but taste so good. Poutine. Beans and rice. Baba ghanoush. This soup certainly fits into that category. It is completely brown. Not the rich, glistening brown of a crispy French fry, but the flat brown of a pureed soup. But (but!) it is worth making.

It starts with summer vegetables you know would taste so good roasted, but in August you can’t bring yourself to turn on the oven. While August may be their peak season, tomatoes and eggplant are usually hanging around until the first frost. Which is a point you welcome turning on the oven, and can take those vegetables that are no longer quite at their peak and concentrate their flavor.

You halve them, along with an onion and a few garlic cloves, and stick them in the oven for 45 minutes to get a little but caramelized. Then you simmer them with some stock for another 45 minutes and puree. What you have is warm and comforting, but not a heavy soup. It is a fall soup made with summer ingredients, or a perfect soup for the transition of seasons. It’s not pretty, but we all have our days.

Besides the eggplant, tomato, and onions I used for this recipe, the rest of my Potter Hill CSA share this week was celeriac, spicy lettuce mix, chard, mustard greens, Tokyo bekana, parsley, and a jalapeño. Alongside this soup, we had a salad of spicy greens dressed with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. I’m going to use basically all of the greens in the Olive Oil-Braised Chickpeas with Swiss Chard and Cumin from Dinner: Changing the Game. I haven’t decided how to use the celeriac and parsley yet, but I’ve made this slaw in the past and loved it. If you can’t decide how to use a jalapeño, you could always slice it and throw it into the jar of pickles you’ve already made, or use it to flavor a jar of pickles of another vegetable (spicy pickles carrots!!!).

Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Soup

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

  • 3 medium tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large eggplant (about 1 1/2  pounds), halved lengthwise
  • 1 small onion, halved
  • 6 large garlic cloves (do not peel)
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F. Place tomatoes, eggplant, onion, and garlic cloves on baking sheet and drizzle with oil. Roast for 20 minutes, then check to make sure everything is doing okay (especially the garlic cloves). Rotate the pan and return to the oven for 25 more minutes. All of the vegetables should be soft and slightly charred.

Let cool slightly and remove the skin/peel from the eggplant, onion, and garlic. Add all to the pot along with the tomatoes, broth, salt, and garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook with the lid on for 45 minutes. Using a stick blender puree the soup (or, you can blend in batches in a food processor or blender). Taste for seasoning and serve with crusty bread and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

A Vegetable Filled Tortilla Casserole

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I always struggle with the change of seasons. I feel like I’ve just gotten into my groove in the last season when the new one is upon us. But what about all the eggplant and tomatoes I still need to eat?! The warm nights when I sit on my porch and watch the sunset while the kids across the street debate who should be “It”? Reading for hours on the beach, but stopping to walk out as far as possible at low tide and eating lobster rolls? But, I do truly love each and every season. I suppose I can embrace sleeping better during cooler nights, welcoming the added heat roasting and simmering brings into the kitchen, and the wonder that is fall squash (but get the f*$# away from me with your pumpkin spice lattes and cinnamon-sugar rimmed beers) .

This is really a great point in the season, because there are some summer vegetables hanging on while the fall vegetables start to trickle in. This is the point when you actually want to turn on the oven and make roasted tomato and eggplant soup, which seemed like a hilarious jokes at points this summer. Or you can embrace the fall vegetables entirely, and make this easily adaptable tortilla casserole with kale and butternut squash.

This week my share was onions, yellow potatoes, lacinato kale, salad turnips, French radishes, spicy lettuce mix, mint, parsley, eggplant, jalapeños, and butternut squash. I cooked up some Short Creek tsuga sausage, then removed it from the pan and cooked diced radishes and turnips followed by their greens in the delightful drippings, and then served the whole lot over polenta with pecorino (then we ate the leftovers for breakfast with an egg on top and HOT DAMN). The lettuce went into some end-of-season BLTs. Eggplant and cherry tomatoes (from last week) went into a simple roasted dish with haloumi from Smitten Kitchen Every Day Potatoes, parsley, and a leek leftover from last week went into this sheet pan harissa chicken which may be the absolute highest calling for Paul’s potatoes. If you didn’t get around to it last week, you could pickle some onions and jalapeños to top this casserole (or tacos, burritos, chilaquiles, etc).

I used butternut and kale from my share as the main vegetables for this casserole, but it is easily adaptable. You could use corn and spinach as called for in the original recipe, zucchini, eggplant, sweet potatoes, peppers, or whatever else pleases you.

Vegetable Tortilla Casserole

Adapted from Jennifer Farley via Cup of Jo

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 medium onion (mine was ~1 cup when chopped)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 cups crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, or salsa (maybe dial back the spices if you’re using salsa)
  • 3 1/2 cups black or pinto beans (or a mix), rinsed and drained (2 15-ounce cans, or 1 double can)
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 1 small butternut squash
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 8 large corn tortillas, or 14 small taco tortillas
  • 2 cups Monterey Jack, cheddar cheese or both
  • Accouterments: chopped fresh cilantro, chopped fresh jalapeño, sour cream or plain yogurt, salsa, pickled jalapeño, pickled onion

Preheat your oven to 400F. Peel, deseed, and chop your butternut into 1″ pieces. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Roast for 20 minutes, toss, and roast for another 10 minutes. You should easily be able to pierce the butternut with a fork.

Dice your onion, mince the garlic clove, and thinly slice the kale. Heat a large skillet over medium heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onion, and cook until it is translucent. Add in the garlic and cook for about 1 minute more, until it is fragrant. Add the spices and stir so the onion and garlic and coated in them, and then add the kale. Toss until the kale is wilted, then add the beans and crushed tomatoes. Stir to combine and simmer for 5 minutes so the flavors can combine. If it looks a little dry, add 1/4 cup of water.

Make your casserole by greasing a 9″x13″ dish (I used 1 teaspoon olive oil). Add a spoonful each of the tomato mixture and roasted butternut squash so the bottom of the pan is mostly covered. Add a layer or tortillas (I cut some in half to evenly fill the dish), then top with more of the tomato mixture (about 1/4), a large spoonful of the roasted butternut, and a sprinkle of cheese. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, finishing with a the tomato mixture, butternut, and cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Serve with a variety of accouterments for topping.

 

Three Quick Pickles (Jalapeño, Carrot, Onion)

IMG_6452For this week’s Potter Hill CSA recipe I’m focusing on one of my favorite ways to brighten up a dish: pickles. I’ve never met a pickle I don’t like. While I am perfectly happy to eat them straight out of a jar, their tang, spice, and crunch can so often turn a bland dish into something exceptional. This is also a ridiculously easy way to use a vegetable you may not have an immediate plan for.

Anything can be pickled, so there is no need to limit yourself to just cukes. Pickling also doesn’t have to be an elaborate process with numerous jars and hot water baths. It can be as simple as chopping up a little extra veg while you’re making dinner, filling a single jar, and topping it with a quick brine of vinegar and salt. Thinly sliced pickles will take on the flavor of the brine in as little time as half an hour, and the flavor will continue to intensify with time.

I made my pickles with jalapeños, carrots, and onions. While I stuck to a single vegetable for each pickle, you could certainly mix and match (just cut them into uniform sizes/shapes). Feel free to sub different vinegars and/or spices, or add a touch of sweetness. I specify kosher salt in all the recipes. If you’re using table salt, I would cut the amount in half and then add more to taste.

The uses for these are endless. They can top tacos and burrito bowls, add crunch to sandwiches (breakfast or otherwise), elevate a cheese plate or grilled cheese, or provide contrast in a salad (green, potato, egg, tuna, or whatever). The fun doesn’t end with the pickles though! The brine is also a great ingredient for salad dressings and sauces (like the green sauce in the burrito bowls linked above).

My entire CSA share this week was purple potatoes, onions, rainbow carrots, cherry tomatoes, tomatoes, thyme, eggplant, celeriac, chard, spicy lettuce mix, jalapeños, and a leek. I used onions, carrots, potatoes, and chard in lentil rice bowls with muhamarra from Bowl + Spoon. Potatoes, tomatoes, and more onions went into a lackluster gratin paired with a spicy salad (the fault of the recipe not the vegetables – I should have just made this again). Eggplant topped my favorite pizza (crispy capers! garlic oil!!). I paired my pickles with these super flavorful Vietnamese-style chicken meatballs, which I’ve made before and according to my husband are “dope” (I concur).

Quick Pickled Jalapeños

Makes 1 1/2-pint

  • 1 cup thinly sliced jalapeños (I used 4)
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Combine vinegar and salt and stir to combine. Let sit until the salt dissolves, or heat gently on the stove top or in 30 seconds bursts in the microwave. Add jalapeños to the jar, and pour brine over. Pickled jalapeños will last for a couple months in the fridge, but will soften over time.

Quick Pickled Carrots

Makes 1 pint

You may notice in the photo I used pickling spice, but I only call for mustard seeds below. I love the flavor of pickling spice, but I learned with such a small pickle it is annoying to have to fish out the cloves and allspice berries.  You could use a different spice in mustard seed’s place such as coriander or celery seed. I used a mandoline to julienne my carrots, but you could slice them into coins instead (there will just be less surface area to be pickled).

  • 2 cups julienned carrots (I used 5 smaller carrots, about 3/4 lb)
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional, or add more!)

Combine vinegar, salt, mustard seeds, and red pepper flakes (if using) in a small pot and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then pour over carrots in their jar. Let cool, and then refrigerate until ready to use.

Quick Pickled Onions

Makes 1 pint

A few years ago I got a book from the library on Mexican food that included this genius recipe for pickling onions with just citrus juice. I, of course, did not write down the book title, but this recipe will stick with me forever. I wrote out specific quantities here, but usually I just chop up the onion and squeeze enough citrus juice to submerge it entirely. Will once suggested we use the leftover pickling liquid for a cocktail, which we haven’t done yet…but we will.

  • 2 cups thinly sliced red onion (from 1 onion, about 1/2 lb)
  • 1 cup of freshly squeezed citrus juice (I used 1 orange and 6 limes)

Pour citrus juice over onions. Let sit for at least 30 minutes before serving.

 

Call me crazy, but I planned the food for my own wedding: what we actually did (Part 2)

IMGP7220(The first post in this series is here.)

When planning a wedding, it is important to accept that your initial vision might not completely pan out. I planned my ideal menu, but taking into account the amount of time, help, and space we had, I realized that I couldn’t execute roasting chickens for 90 people.

When discussing what we would do for our rehearsal dinner, we explored ordering BBQ from a nationally renowned smokehouse that happens to be about 20 minutes from where we live.  Their half pans of brisket, pulled pork, and smoked chicken feed 30-40 people apiece and cost $100-150 each.  So we started thinking about that for the wedding instead of the rehearsal. That would be $365 for the main dish for 90 people. BBQ sides would be easy. I have a standard set of favorite side (many I cooked here) and by nature they are easy to make in bulk and stand up to sitting out.

While my initial plan for appetizers was just meat, cheese, and pickles, my mom volunteered to make a bunch of our favorite dips to include as well. I asked all three of my aunts to make desserts, and planned to make the cake myself.

We revised our menu to look like this:

Appetizers:

Dinner

  • Pulled pork (from BTs)
  • Brisket (from BTs)
  • Smoked chicken (from BTs)
  • Cornbread (2 orders – 90 pieces)
  • Marinated green beans (Mom)
  • Coleslaw (me)
  • Baked beans (without the bacon, so it could be a vegetarian main) (me)
  • Mustard potato salad (Mom)

Desserts

  • Coconut cake (me)
  • Peanut butter balls (Auntie Judi)
  • Black Russian Cake (Auntie Judi)
  • Anise ring (Aunt Sandi)
  • Nut tarts (Aunty Ann)
  • Lemon bars (Aunty Ann)
  • Seven layer bars (Aunty Ann)
  • Forgotton meringues (Aunty Ann)
  • Mrs. Buerschaper’s molasses crinkles (Aunty Ann)
  • Gluten-free brownies (Aunty Ann)

Drinks

  • White wine
  • Red wine
  • Champagne
  • 3cross Ronde apricot blonde
  • Cold Harbor Indian Summer
  • Season of Love Saison (a beer we made at Incredibrew in Nashua, NH)
  • Basil lemonade
  • Water

While the names listed after the recipes were the main orchestraters, there were still a lot of other hands moving behind the scenes. My mom planned, tested, shopped for, and executed all the dishes she made, as well as helped me source and organize all of the serving pieces. My mom’s boyfriend, Ken, juiced 80 lemons for the basil lemonade, rolled up all the silverware in napkins, and prepped all of the cheese and salami for the apps.

Will’s parents, Helen and Dave, were with us in the kitchen for the 2 days before the wedding scrubbing 30 lbs of potatoes, trimming 10 lbs of green beans, chopping up peppers and celery to go with dips, getting everyone lunch while we were setting up, running out for forgotten ingredients (how could I forget the Vermont maple syrup?????), and picking up the BBQ. My aunts from both sides of my family, Judi, Sandi, and Ann, made all of the desserts, but also brought the dishes to serve them on and set them up.

(And just to be clear, this is only a list of who helped with food-related tasks. Many other family members and friends helped us sourcing, lending, and setting up speakers, chairs, tables, flowers, lights, etc.)

We did the majority of the shopping on Wednesday, the meal prep on Thursday and Friday, and then all that was left for Saturday was to frost the cake, pick up the BBQ and keep it warm, and set out all of the sides (which I hired catering staff to do). That’s enough on the menu for now, but in my next posts I’ll talk about quantities we actually made, the timeline for all of these dishes, cost breakdown, and what I would change if I did it all again (not much, but you always learn something!).

Photo by Dean Cerrati.

Turmeric noodle salad with crunchy veg

noodle salad

I’ve written before about my annoyance with seasonal creep. We always seem to move to the next season before the current one is over. I love flannel, apples, and warm beverages as much as any born and bred New Englander, but I can wait to embrace them. Even though the school year has started it is still technically summer, and I’m happy to keep eating cold and crunchy things while I can. This salad is a quick dressing, julienned vegetables, and noodles you don’t even need to cook on the stove. Great for the hottest summer days, or those transitional nights when we’re still holding on to later daylight.

My Potter Hill CSA share this week was 1 bunch salad turnips, 1 bunch radishes, spicy lettuce mix, pea shoots, parsley, arugula, 2 lbs potatoes, onions, and cherry tomatoes. Earlier this week I made a light summer lasagna with roasted zucchini, cherry tomatoes, onions and arugula. The potatoes and remaining arugula, along with the spicy lettuce and pea shoots went into potatoes anna and salad, which so delightfully flavorful for so few ingredients, but definitely let it cool a bit before cutting if you want clean slices. Before I decided on this noodle salad I contemplated making this roasted vegetable bowl using potatoes, radishes, turnips, carrots, onions, and the parsley. It would still be an excellent option if the weather cools off again next week.

Turmeric noodle salad with crunchy veg

Serves 4

Adapted from Molly Wizenberg and Heidi Swanson. All sorts of vegetables would be great here. As Molly did in her original recipe, you could add cucumber or cabbage, or some kind of protein. I love Heidi’s idea of adding turmeric to noodles so they become vibrantly yellow, but you could omit the turmeric if you don’t have any.

Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce (or, 1 garlic clove grated and 1 teaspoon sriracha)

Salad

  • 1 bunch of salad turnips (4 turnips made 2 cups of shredded)
  • 1 bunch radishes (7 small radishes made 1 cup shredded)
  • 1 large carrot (1 cup shredded)
  • 2 scallions, sliced (mine were huge, so about 1 cup total)
  • 1/2 cup chopped herbs, such as cilantro or basil (Thai, regular, or lemon)
  • 8 ounces of rice noodles
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup peanuts
  • Optional: 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes (raw or roasted)
  • Optional: minced jalapenos

Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar and shake to combine.

Shred or julienne turnips, radishes, and carrots. Slice scallions and chop herbs. Place noodles, turmeric, and salt in a large bowl and cover with boiling water (the noodles should be totally submerged). Stir to distribute the turmeric and insure the noodles don’t stick together. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes and then drain (definitely check after 5 minutes, because thinner noodles will be done at that point). Roughly chop the peanuts.

Toss drained noodles, shredded vegetables (including the tomatoes if you’re using them) , scallions, and dressing in a large bowl. Top with chopped herbs and peanuts. Serve with extra chili garlic sauce and jalapenos.

Big Salads with tzatziki and marinated lentils

IMG_6419 (2)Most often when we get lettuce in our CSA I just make some version of this giant salad. Lentils are always a good quick legume to cook when I get home from work if I don’t have another precooked or in cans. Canned tuna is great, as if leftover roasted chicken. Farro or quinoa are nice additions. I usually go with a vinaigrette for dressing, but the tzatziki here adds enough moisture that I don’t think you’ll miss regular dressing. If your household likes tzatziki as much as mine, you may want to double the recipe to have on hand as a snack with cucumber slices or pita chips. I didn’t have any pita when I made this salad, but that would also be a great addition (or stick the whole thing in a sandwich/wrap!).

My full share this week was lettuce, chard, salad turnips, purple potatoes, lemon basil, regular basil, 2 pints of cherry tomatoes, 1 pound of large tomatoes, carrots, and jalapenos. I’m eating potatoes and chard like this again because its so good (have you made it yet?!).  I’ve somehow made it this far into the season without making salsa, so that will be remedied this week. The turnips and their greens are going to go into a cold spicy noodle situation inspired by this and this (but using the chili crisp I already have in the fridge). Speaking of chili crisp, the reason I made it in the first place was to make these Vietnamese-style chicken meatballs which were SO GOOD and would be an excellent use of your lettuce, carrots, turnips, and jalapenos this week.

Big Salads with Tzatziki and Marinated Lentils

Inspired by Ina and Sprouted Kitchen

Serves 6

I know cucumber sizes can vary widely, but I used smaller cukes that you would get at a farmer’s market and when grated (before squeezing) it was 2 cups of shredded cucumber. I used lentils because I had some and they are quick cooking, but white beans or chickpeas would be great too. I find the tzatziki to be enough of a dressing, but if you need some more zing toss the lettuce with a drizzle of olive oil and some lemon juice before assembling the rest of the salad.

Tzatziki:

  • 2 small or 1 large cucumber (see note)
  • 2 cups plain (unflavored) Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 chopped dill (and extra for garnish if you like)
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Salad:

  • 1 cup French green lentils (sometimes sold as Le Puy)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 small cucumber, chopped
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 head of lettuce, chopped

Bring a small pot of water to a boil and add the lentils. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until tender and then drain.

To make the tzatziki: Grate the cucumber on the large holes of a box grater and set in a fine mesh strainer over a bowl to drain (don’t throw out the liquid!!!). While the cucumber is draining combine the yogurt, dill, garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper in a bowl. Take small handfuls of the grated cucumber and squeeze out as much liquid as you can, adding the dry cucumber to the bowl with the yogurt mixture as you go. When all of the cucumber has been strained stir to completely integrate it with the yogurt. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

After the lentils have drained toss them in a bowl with the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir to combine. Build your salads with lettuce, lentils, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, feta, an artful blob of tzatziki, and a sprinkle of dill.

Herby couscous salad with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and pea shoots

IMG_6346 (2)The majority of August was a relief from the intense heat of July. That heat and humidity are back in full force this week, and I did my best to come up with a dinner that used as little cooking as possible. This is a quick couscous salad with lots of fresh herbs, chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and pea shoots. It is a meal in itself, but would be an excellent picnic side or bed for some juicy grilled chicken or sausage.

I happened to have couscous in my pantry (plus it is so quick cooking), but this would also be great with other small pastas like Israeli couscous or orzo, or with another grain like quinoa. In an effort to minimize my heat in the kitchen, I didn’t use any cooked vegetables but roasted or grilled vegetables would be delicious too. I riffed off this parsley sauce, but used scallions as well and upped the quantity.

All of the vegetables and herbs in this salad are from my Potter Hill CSA share this week except the cucumber, which I bought separated from Paul. The rest of the share this week was a baby head of romaine lettuce, celery, 2 lbs of large tomatoes, microgreens, carrots, kale, and mint.

Lettuce and tomatoes went into an epic BLT with Short Creek bacon (order some this week!!!!). I’ve also been eating tomatoes my absolute favorite way: on top of toast slathered with mayo, with salt and pepper.  If you haven’t made these greens with yogurt yet then that is your kale plan (if you have made this…it is still your plan). This marinated celery salad looks like a great use for the giant head, plus some cherry tomatoes and scallions (it’s marinating in the fridge right now for dinner tomorrow!). I don’t have a plan for the carrots this week, but with the greens snipped off they will last in the fridge until inspiration (or hunger) strikes.

Herby couscous salad with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and pea shoots

Serves 6 as a meal, or 10-12 as a side

Couscous

  • 3 cups couscous
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Herb sauce

  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 ½ cups parsley leaves
  • 1 ½ cups chopped scallions
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (from about 1 ½ lemons)
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Salad

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 small cucumber (mine was 1 1/2 cups chopped)
  • 1 large handful pea shoots and/or microgreens (about 1 cup chopped)
  • 3.5 cups cooked chickpeas (2 15.5 oz cans, drained and rinsed)

Bring the 3 cups of water to a boil. Add in the couscous, olive oil, and salt. Cover, remove from the heat, and let sit for 10 minutes.

Turn on a food processor with the S blade in and drop the garlic cloves through the opening at the top. When the garlic cloves stop bouncing around they are fully minced. Turn the food processor off and scrape down the sides with a spatula. Add the salt, a few grinds of pepper, parsley leaves, chopped scallions, and lemon juice. Turn the food processor on to chop them, then drizzle in the olive oil so a sauce forms. Alternatively, very finely mince the garlic, parsley, and scallions, then stir in the salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil.

Quarter the cherry tomatoes, chop the cucumber, and chop the pea shoots or microgreens. Fluff the couscous with a fork and put it in a large bowl. Add the chickpeas and herb sauce and stir to combine. Add in the cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and pea shoots. Stir until they are evenly distributed.

Watermelon, Tomato, and Cucumber Salad with Feta and Lemon Basil

IMG_6336What is more summery than this salad? Ripe berries eaten off the bush? Kids running through a sprinkler? Fireflies? There may be a few contenders, but the list is short. One step further than eating each of these ingredients straight (which is a wonderfully summery thing to do as well), this simple salad plays up each component’s attributes by contrasting with the others. Crunchy cucumber, meaty tomato, and sweet watermelon, are excellent foils to fragrant lemon basil, slightly pickled onions, and salty/creamy feta bound together with fruity olive oil.

This is my Potter Hill CSA recipe for the week, and everything in the salad except the cucumber is in the share (the cucumber is also from Paul, I just bought it separately). The rest of the share was 2 pints of cherry tomatoes, husk cherries, purple potatoes, and savory. I’m going to use the rest of the lemon basil and red onion in these soba noodles (and I’m going to sub nectarines for the mango). I used the cherry tomatoes and leftover bok choy from last week in a Thai curry with tofu from Dinner (which is almost identical to this recipe, but with shiitake mushrooms instead of crimini, and cherry tomatoes and bok choy instead of the snap peas). The husk cherries just got eaten as a snack, and I’m not sure what the fate of the purple potatoes is yet. Maybe potato salad? Or over Dijon lentils?

Watermelon, Tomato, and Cucumber Salad with Feta and Lemon Basil

Serves 6

I listed quantities for each ingredient, but don’t worry about sticking to them too strictly. Use what you have, and just try to balance the ingredients.

  • 1/2 a small watermelon (~4 cups once chopped)
  • 1 lb of tomatoes (I used one monster yellow tomato, but 2-3 normal sized ones would be plenty)
  • 1 small cucumber (1/2 lb)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion (1 very small onion)
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (this is the time to bring out the good stuff)
  • 4 ounces of feta, cubed
  • a large handful of lemon basil (regular basil or cilantro would also work)
  • 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt

Put the sliced red onion in a small bowl and top with the vinegar. Stir to coat.

Cut the tomato and watermelon into 1″ cubes. Chop the cucumber. Arrange the watermelon, tomatoes, and cucumber on a platter. Scatter the red onion on top, and sprinkle the leftover vinegar over the salad. Top with the feta and basil, and then drizzle the extra virgin olive oil over the whole salad. Finish with the salt and serve.

CSA Cooking

20180815_185929We’re about six weeks into the Potter Hill CSA and I wanted to check in on my fellow CSA members (and members of other CSAs elsewhere!). How are you using up your bounty each week? We’ve just entered my favorite month: August 15-September 15. (Yes, I’ve defined my own month.) Summer produce is still coming in hot, fall produce starts creeping in, and the days cool off a bit. This week I received tomatoes, zucchini, celery, Swiss chard, bok choy, lemon basil, parsley, beets, and 2 heads of baby lettuce.

I slow roasted some tomatoes (2 hours at 275F) for this gorgonzola lentil salad, which also used some red onion leftover from last week and parsley from this week. Tomatoes and lettuce went into this barbecue chicken salad (pictured above), which I made with my standard bleu cheese dressing instead of the goat cheese ranch because I had extra gorgonzola from the lentil salad to use up. I’m going to use the lemon basil on top of urad dal instead of the cilantro. The fate of the zucchini is either zucchini carbonara or succotash (or maybe I’ll buy more and make both!!). Last time we got celery I made my favorite stir fry, and I’ll probably just make it again because I think it is celery’s highest calling (and it is so far superior with intensely vegetal farm celery than it is with watery supermarket celery). The beets are destined for a labneh dip from DinnerAnd the greens are obviously going into another round of greens with eggs, garlic yogurt, and chili butter because how could I not?!

Don’t forget all of my weekly CSA recipes are under the Potter Hill tag.

Greens with eggs, garlic yogurt, and chili butter

IMG_20180812_101958068Yogurt finally convinced me it was worthy of my attention in the summer of 2009. Prior to that I hated the gloppy texture and saccharine sweetness of fruit flavored yogurts in tiny cups (or worse, pouches). But that year my mom and I traveled through Greece and Turkey, both cuisines that revere yogurt and think of it as an ingredient more like cream cheese that can be used in savory and sweet applications. But unlike dense and fattier cream cheese, it is light, tangy and refreshing.

My gateway yogurt experience was in Greece. We ate a meal that I’m sure was delightful but is now totally obscured by my memory of dessert. After the meal I was served a schmear of plain Greek yogurt in a stemmed bowl lightly drizzled with honey. It was creamy, cool, and a perfect foil to sweet and herbal honey. Where had THIS yogurt been all my life?

In Istanbul we wandered the streets until we came upon a little cafe with outdoor seating. (Our family rule is any meal that can be eaten outside, should be eaten outside.) When I’m in a place where I’m not familiar with everything on the menu, I like to watch what people around me order. I saw a plate of rice, grilled vegetables, something that looked like grilled meatballs, tomato sauce, and yogurt be delivered to a nearby table, and motioned something to convey “PLEASE FEED ME THAT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE” to the waiter. Turkish kofte is ground lamb or beef that is heavily spiced with cumin and onion, and the warmly flavored meat is incomplete without yogurt or a yogurt sauce.

When we returned home I discovered that my hatred of flavored yogurt had blinded me to a well established US obsession with Greek yogurt, which was widely available. It became a staple in my fridge that earned its keep with its versatility. Flavored yogurt can be breakfast with granola or in a smoothies, but its uses stop there. Plain yogurt serves those purposes even better (especially with fresh fruit), but also can be used in baking, in pancakes, instead of sour cream (when you forget to buy it, or just can’t be bothered to knowing the rest will languish in the fridge), stirred into soups, dolloped on top of dal, or incorporated into a savory sauce.

Which brings me to this dish of sauteed greens, eggs, garlic yogurt, chili butter, and potatoes. Israeli cuisine is another that celebrates the flavor of yogurt, and Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks are some of the first I turn to when I am looking for interesting ways to prepare vegetables. I own Jerusalem, Plenty, and Plenty More, which I flipped through this week for some inspiration. I was mostly looking for ways to use tomatoes and eggplant, but a recipe for baked eggs with yogurt, chile and arugula in Plenty More (page 140) seemed a fitting use for the bunch of greens in my fridge. Instead of arugula, I used a mix of Asian greens from my CSA and kale and collards from my garden.  (Those were from last week’s CSA, but from this week the chard, bok choy, or both would be excellent). I boiled extra potatoes when I made the composed salad earlier this week, so I crisped those up to have with the greens, but a nice piece of toast would be fitting as well. I find eggs very difficult to cook to my preferred done-ness in the oven (set whites and verrrrrrrrry runny yolks), so I did my usual pan-fried over easy eggs here, but prepare them however makes you happiest.

The magic really comes from Ottolenghi’s genius accouterments: grated raw garlic stirred into yogurt, and melted butter with chili flakes. Both quickly come together while everything else is cooking, and provide a creamy tang and a fatty heat that make this dish so much more than greens and eggs. I made it for Sunday breakfast, but this would work for any meal.

Greens with eggs, garlic yogurt, and chili butter

Adapted from Baked eggs with yogurt and chile in Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi

Serves 4

  • 1 cup sliced onion (from 1 small onion)
  • 1/2 lb of hearty greens, chopped (8 cups total)
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 3/4 cup plain (unflavored) Greek yogurt
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo chili flakes (or 1/4 teaspoon regular chili flakes)
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper

For serving

  • 1 lb of cooked potatoes or 4 slices of toast
  • 4 eggs, cooked however you please

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook for 5 minutes until softened. Add the greens and stir. Cook for 5 minutes more until greens are completely wilted.

While the onions and greens are cooking, stir the grated garlic into the yogurt along with a pinch of salt. Do not refrigerate while you finish cooking.

In a small saucepan over medium heat melt the butter and chili flakes. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the butter is foamy and turns red from the chili flakes.

Serve greens with eggs and yogurt alongside potatoes or toast, and drizzle everything with the chili butter.

Done is better than perfect

20180808_190615Sunday night I was surrounded by cookbooks, making a list of all the dishes I HAVE to cook this month. It is peak harvest in New England, and every year at this time I constantly feel like I am missing opportunities to eat the best, freshest produce in the all ways I’ve been dreaming of since December. Everything I love ripens at once – raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, nectarines, peaches, plums, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, green beans, greens, and every herb you can imagine.

I’ve joked before about taking the month off just to cook and eat, but this year I took real action and took a day off from work later this month with no plans other than to cook. But I can’t take every day off (and also, I like my job), so I’ve also tried to be more realistic about what I can accomplish on a weeknight.

This is surely not a new revelation. But I am an obsessive cook who takes immense pride in making things from scratch. When I have people over for tacos, I make the tortillas. I went on a camping trip and fried Scotch eggs to bring with us. This is not meant to be boastful, but just to help you to understand the level of crazy I generally operate on. There are many nights when I’ve taken on more than I can chew, and I stare at the mess of an unfinished cooking project around me at 10pm and wonder “HOW DID I GET HERE?”

So when I see a recipe with three sub-recipes like these pambazos, I see myself making enchilada sauce, refried beans, and pickled onions, and THEN frying eggplant to make the sandwiches. I do have some idea of my capacity for cooking projects on a weeknight, so I think I will have to wait for a Sunday. But then there are only four measly Sundays in August, and way more than four elaborate meals I want to cook. Which means that this will get pushed on to my list for next year, when the same thing will happen again, and then five years from now I will finally make this sandwich and wonder “How did it take me so long to do this????????”

But no. Instead, I looked at this recipe, and added refried beans and enchilada sauce to the shopping list. I pickled the onions last night while I was waiting for Will to get home from the grocery store with ingredients I needed to finish yesterday’s dinner. I relaxed after work by sitting in the AC, writing, and drinking a Miller High Life. Then I meandered into the kitchen around 6:00pm, fried up the eggplant, snacked on a few pieces as I made them, and put together these beast sandwiches that hold everything I love between two slices of bread and then are coated with enchilada sauce. Would this sandwich have been better if I had made the refried beans and enchilada sauce myself? Maybe. But as they say, a sandwich in the hand is worth two in the bush. Or something like that.

Summer Composed Salad

20180808_122241For my Potter Hill CSA recipe this week I made an updated version of a salad by a very similar name for our current season. The concept is the same: take a mix of cooked and raw vegetables, pick a protein, and serve them with a tangy dressing. Use whatever is currently at its peak and let it shine, which this week is new potatoes, tomatoes, and cucumbers. I included hard boiled eggs because I always have them around, but grilled chicken or canned tuna would be a great choice too.  I swapped capers for dill in the dressing this time because herbs are jumping out of my produce drawer right now, and another soft herb like basil or parsley would also work great.

Tomato season is hitting fast and hard, and I could not be happier. My forever favorite tomato meal is lightly toasted bread with mayo, thick tomato slices, salt, and pepper. A couple years ago I wrote about my favorite things to eat in August, and I still stand heartily by that list. I made this tomato tart this week which had great contrast and intensity from fresh tomatoes and a sun dried tomato spread (I used savory instead of the thyme and feta instead of goat cheese to use up what I had). I also have my eye on this harissa eggplant, eggplant tortas, and a big fat BLT later this week.

Summer Composed Salad

This is incredibly easy to scale. I plan on these quantities per person: ¼ lb potatoes, 1 small tomato, ½ cucumber (assuming a smaller cucumber – like a pickling cuke), 1 egg. I would also use blanched green beans, lettuce leaves (separate them from the head but don’t slice them), radishes, or salad turnips.

Serves 6

  • 1 ½ lbs new potatoes
  • 2 lbs tomatoes
  • 3 small cucumbers
  • 6 eggs

Dill Dijon Vinaigrette

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons minced dill
  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard (I used a mix of whole grain and smooth – whatever you have works)
  • Salt and pepper

Bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil. Lower the eggs in with a slotted spoon and cook for 12 minutes for fully set yolks. While the eggs are cooking put a dozen ice cubes in a bowl and cover with water. When the eggs are done transfer them to the ice water to cool while you prep everything else.

Wash your potatoes thoroughly (I let them sit in a bowl of water for a few minutes, then scrub and rinse). Cut any large potatoes in half so that they are all roughly the same size. Put the potatoes in a pot and cover them with water that comes about an inch higher than the potatoes. Add a pinch of salt and bring the water to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes can easily be pierced with a fork. Drain and let cool.

In a jar or small bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients and shake/whisk until uniform. If you like a thicker dressing, add some more Dijon.

Peel and halve the eggs, quarter the potatoes, slice the tomatoes and cucumbers. Arrange on a large platter with the dressing (or give everyone a little bowl for their own dressing if you have a dishwasher and can stomach such dish excess).

Roasted Summer Vegetables

20180802_122021Admittedly I had another plan for a recipe to share this week, but it ended up being only ok, and I am not in the business of peddling mediocre recipes. This is what I made on Monday night when I came home with my CSA (I get mine early for recipe writing). I had no plan for dinner, but knew it needed to involve a lot of vegetables. I took stock of leftovers from the weekend, which included some naan, tzatziki, hummus, and olives. I still had a zucchini and summer squash from last week’s CSA, plus this week’s eggplant, tomatoes, onions and savory. I chopped everything up, tossed it with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and threw it in the oven. The result is the cruel truth that so many summer vegetables are really better roasted, when you would rather change a tire on the side of the highway in the pouring rain than turn on the oven.

But summer vegetables like this are so, so good. The tomato adds a bit of acidity, and provide enough moisture to make a bit of a sauce. Eggplant, when properly and thoroughly cooked, becomes meaty and velvety. The onion becomes a bit caramelized, and summer squash adds a freshness you only get at this point in the year. If you don’t have savory, you could try another hearty herb like rosemary or thyme, or finish the dish after cooking with a soft herb like basil or parsley.

The rest of my share this week was cucumbers, perpetual spinach, kale, basil, new potatoes, lettuce, and pea tendrils. I used the perpetual spinach, kale, and cucumbers in some easy noodles with peanut sauce from the freezer (I cooked the greens, but left the cucumber raw). The potatoes and onions are going into a Thai yellow curry from Simple Thai Food tomorrow night. I also get an egg share, and for tighter mornings, I hard-boil eggs and eat them with everything.

Roasted Summer Vegetables

Serves 6

I’m outlining my basic method, but you could easily mix up the vegetables you include here. For six servings, I fill two baking sheets with 1/2-1″ between pieces for thorough browning. The photo shows naan with a layer of hummus topped with the roasted vegetables.

  • 3 small eggplant
  • 1 summer squash
  • 1 zucchini
  • 2 medium onions (I used fresh onions)
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped savory
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425F. Chop all of the vegetables into 1″ pieces. Toss with the olive oil, salt, pepper, and chopped savory. Spread across 2 baking sheets, with about 1″ of space between the pieces. They should be able to roast and brown, not just steam. Roast for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven, toss the vegetables, and return them to the oven on opposite shelves. Roast for another 10-15 minutes. In my oven the pan that starts on the bottom is always done first, while the other pan usually requires an extra 5 minutes to achieve the same level of browning.

Serve with hummus and pita or naan, in a sandwich, on pizza/pasta/polenta, or all by its glorious self.

 

 

Buffalo Chickpea Tacos

IMG_20180724_192341691

In our house your birthday warrants a week of birthday meals. Every meal is one of the birthday person’s favorite foods. It started a couple years ago when I had too many ideas for Will’s birthday dinner, so I just decided to make all of them.

Will loves anything Buffalo-ed (that is with Buffalo hot sauce not buffalo meat), and as a challenge created a spreadsheet called “Will It Buffalo?” with meal ideas for me. I’ve been picking my way through them over the years, and you can see all the recipes here. It was inevitable that a Buffalo dish would make it into the birthday week meals, and given Will’s love of tacos might equal his love of Buffalo sauce, we ended up here.

I love tacos that have a hearty bean component as the main protein, so these start with a base of spicy chickpea dip (which is excellent on its own), topped with a combination of cooked and raw vegetables for great contrast in flavors and textures.

In my Potter Hill CSA share this week I received red cabbage, fresh onions, leeks, 2 small heads of lettuce, a bunch of mixed beets, kale, radishes, celery, basil, zucchini, summer squash, and cherry tomatoes. The lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and basil went into a steak salad with herb dressing from the Smitten Kitchen Every Day Cookbook (very similar to this salad). I used onion, celery, and cauliflower and broccoli leftover from last week in the tacos. Tonight I’m making a kale salad with beets similar to the one from a few weeks ago, but without the onions and cheese. Tomorrow I’m going to make these Korean Bulgogi Burgers with the red cabbage and subbing my French radishes for the daikon (not at all traditional, but that’s the game with a CSA!).

Buffalo Chickpea Tacos

If you can’t be bothered to make the chickpea spread, just buy some hummus and stir in the hot sauce. The recipe below makes the equivalent of 2 8-ounce containers, which is plenty for the tacos and some extra for snacking. I used both broccoli and cauliflower because I had a small head of each, but feel free to use one large head of either, or sub other vegetables like zucchini, summer squash, cabbage, or corn (you can broil any of them in the same manner).

Chickpea Spread

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3.5 cups cooked chickpeas (or 2 15-ounce cans), rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup cayenne hot sauce, such as Frank’s (if you like it really fiery, go for 1/2 a cup)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Taco Toppings

  • 1 small head of broccoli, chopped (about 1/2 lb)
  • 1 small head of cauliflower, chopped (about 1/2 lb)
  • t tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup minced red onion (1/2 a small onion)
  • 1 cup minced celery
  • 1/4 minced celery leaves (or parsley)
  • 1 cup crumbled bleu cheese
  • 1 cup deseeded and chopped tomato (2 small or 1 large)

For serving

Heat the vegetable oil over medium high heat. Add in the chopped onion, and saute for 10-15 minutes, until soft, translucent, and browning in places. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

Turn on a food processor with an S-blade and drop in the garlic close from the top. Run the food processor until you can’t hear the garlic bouncing around anymore. Scrape down the sides with a spatula, and then add in the cooked onions, chickpeas, extra virgin olive oil, hot sauce, and salt. Process until uniformly smooth and then taste for seasoning. Alternatively, mince the garlic, then add to a large bowl with the onions and chickpeas. Mash with a fork or potato masher, then add in the olive oil, hot sauce, and salt and mash again until a spread forms.

Move a rack to the top of the oven and turn broil on high. Chop the broccoli and cauliflower into 1/2 inch pieces, and then toss on a baking sheet with the vegetable oil. Broil for 10 minutes total, tossing halfway through, until the are lightly charred.

Serve tortillas warmed, and let everyone assemble their own (lots of extra hot sauce on mine, please).

 

Summer Rolls Tutorial

IMG_20180718_191718580I’ve waxed poetic on the magic of having peanut sauce in your freezer for easy, no cook summer meals before, and I’m here to do it again. Last time I focused on the peanut sauce, which is still my favorite recipe (it makes a double batch for easy freezing). What I didn’t do was a thorough tutorial on how to make your summer rolls. Rice paper can take a bit of finesse, but once you get a sense for how it behaves the roll making is easy. If you can’t be bothered to make the rolls, you can make some rice or noodles and serve the veg and peanut sauce on top for much quicker assembly.

I’ve outlined what I put in these rolls, but feel free to work with what you have. I’ve also used leftover cooked vegetables in addition to raw ones. I had leftover tofu from a salad earlier in the week, but leftover chicken, pork, steak, or shrimp would be great additions as well (or leave out the protein altogether!). I used brown rice wrappers that I found at Whole Foods here, but white rice ones are much easier to find (look in the Asian section of the grocery store next to the noodles).

My whole Potter Hill CSA share this week was 2 heads of lettuce, salad turnips, broccoli, cauliflower, cilantro, savory, a small red cabbage, celery, fresh onions, and new potatoes. One night I made a quick pasta with pesto, soldier beans, cubed mozzarella, and a ton of sauteed greens (the leaves from the cauliflower, broccoli, and turnips). I didn’t make the pesto this time around because my mom gave me some she made (thanks Mom!!!!), but this recipe is very similar, just switch up the veg and add 1 can/about 2 cups of white beans. With both heads of lettuce I made a riff on this Thai tofu salad topped with shredded salad turnips, carrots, and cilantro. Breakfast has been a perennial favorite: potatoes, kale, and eggs. The celery is destined for this amazing Sichuan dish. Don’t forget – all my Potter Hill recipes so far are tagged here.

Summer Rolls

Makes 8-10 rolls – Serves 4 as a side

  • 1/2 lb red or green cabbage (about 1/4 of a large one), thinly sliced
  • 1 small cucumber, shredded (about 1 cup)
  • 3 salad turnips, shredded (about 1/2 a cup)
  • 2 carrots, shredded (about 1/2 a cup)
  • 1/2 cup minced herbs (I used cilantro and Thai basil, mint or regular basil would work too)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of chopped tofu (see note)
  • Rice paper wrappers
  • Water
  • Peanut sauce
  • Sriracha/hot sauce

Once all your veg are prepped, set them out around your cutting board. Fill a pie plate or baking dish with warm water – you want to be able to submerge your rice paper wrappers entirely. Dip the rice paper wrapper in the water and hold it under for 10 second. It should change texture and feel plastic-y/crinkly, but not be totally soft.

Lay the rice paper flat on the cutting board, and arrange a couple tablespoons of each filling on the half closest to you. the filling should be along an imaginary 3 inch line, so that every bite will get some of each filling. I use about 1/2 a cup to 2/3 of a cup of filling for each roll.

By now the residual water should have soaked into the rice paper, making it soft and pliable. Bring the bottom edge up over the filling, and then fold in each side. Roll away from yourself so a complete cylinder forms. Depending on how much filling you put in each you will have 8-10 rolls. Leave whole (better for transport/eating later) or cut rolls in half. Serve with peanut sauce and extra sriracha.

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Beans and Greens

IMG_20180711_200712584_LLTwo summers ago this recipe saved me. I was living in an apartment where I could plant a garden. The garden was in a corner of the yard that didn’t get great sun (installed by a previous tenant), but it was my first place where I truly had a garden of my own and I tried a little of everything. I planted some collards, and there must have been a big rainstorm after I did so because they didn’t sprout up in a neat row, but in random places all around the garden and outside the garden. The rest of the garden was not as successful, but they did phenomenally. I had collards coming out of my ears, and grew to truly love them and find all sorts of dishes to stick them in (my love letter to collards is here).

That season I found myself making Sarah’s beans and greens whenever I needed a quick dinner. The greens were outside my door, and I am never without a couple cans of beans in the pantry. Over the years my version has morphed into what you see below, though it does vary a bit each time based on what is in my pantry. I am an expert bread crumb burner, so I swapped them for some nice bread for dipping (and now you don’t have to turn the oven on).

In the Potter Hill CSA Paul has reliably including a bunch of fresh onions, and while I can easily use up the bottoms, the tops have been more of a challenge. They’re mild enough to blend in with all the greens without making them overpoweringly onion-y, so I just threw the whole lot in.

The rest of my share this week was two heads of lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, zucchini, chard, bok choy, and basil. I made a giant salad with Dijon vinagrette, grated turnips (leftover from last week) and radishes. and hard-boiled egg. It doesn’t include as many CSA ingredients, but I also made this chickpea salad using the parsley and fresh onion in place of the shallot. It was excellent on top of more lettuce salad (the joke this week was no one was allowed to leave the house without a salad). The zucchini and summer squash are headed for the grill this weekend.

Beans and greens

You can use just about any kind of hearty green here: various kinds of kale, collards, chard, beet greens, turnip greens, radish greens, spinach (or perpetual spinach if you are a CSA member!). This time around I used one large bunch of chard, a medium bunch of bok choy, and a small bunch of radish greens and they were 20 ounces before I stemmed them. If you are really adverse to anchovies you can of course leave them out, but I implore you to try them at least once. This dish does not turn tour tasting fishy at all. If you don’t want the bite of raw garlic in the vinaigrette, saute it in the oil for a minute before you add the onion tops.

  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 anchovies, minced (or 2 teaspoons anchovy paste)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice or red/white wine vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Green tops from 1 bunch of fresh onions or 1 whole bunch of scallions, sliced
  • 1 lbs of hearty greens, stemmed and chopped (see note)
  • 3 1/2 cups or 2 15-ounce cans of white beans, drained and rinsed (I used solider beans)
  • 1/2 grated parmesan cheese
  • hearty bread for serving

In a small bowl mix the chopped garlic, anchovies, 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice/vinegar, a few grinds of pepper and a punch of salt (not too much, as the anchovies will add some saltiness too). Stir to combine and taste, adding more acid, salt, and pepper as needed.

In a large pot heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the onion tops and cook until soft, about 3 minutes (they should lose their structure and become uniformly dark green). Add in the greens and cover the pot. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until the greens are mostly wilted. Put the beans in the pot and stir to combine with the greens. Let cook uncovered for a couple more minutes to warm the beans through, then add in the olive oil mixture and stir to combine. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top, and serve with crusty bread.