June 29, 2013

CSA - Week 2 and Kale, Onion, and Garlic Pizza

CSA Week 2 - red chard, dill, cucumber, parsnips, lettuce, purple kale.  I've been adding the chard without stems to our nightly smoothies instead of spinach.  With the parsnips, I made a pureed parsnip and potato soup that was delicious.  I used the dill in our favorite Tuna Nicoise Salad.  The lettuce and cucumber were eaten in salad.

I am so excited about this pizza with kale.  I can't wait to make it again - it was delicious.  I'm sure it would work with any variety of kale.

Kale, Onion, and Garlic Pizza

1 bunch kale, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 medium onion, sliced thin and cut into inch-long pieces
1 large clove garlic, minced
olive oil
3 oz. fresh mozzarella, shredded or torn into small pieces
1/4 c. shredded parmesan
1 pizza crust

Preheat oven and pizza stone to 500.

In a skillet over medium heat, add a splash of olive oil and the onions. Saute until softened, about five minutes. Add kale and saute until wilted, just a few minutes. Remove from heat.

Over rolled out pizza dough, brush on a tablespoon or two of olive oil and minced garlic. Add kale and onion mixture, and top with both cheeses.

Transfer pizza to stone in oven and bake for 10 minutes or until the crust is starting to brown and cheese is melted and golden in spots.

June 28, 2013

Chocolate Cherry Tarts

Summer fruit is in full swing - berries, stone fruits, and cherries! These chocolate cherry tarts were so fun and delicious. I really enjoyed the cherry flavor enhanced by the dark chocolate. I also added a little almond extract to the mousse of one of the tarts, which was good too. Another variation is to sprinkle some unsweetened coconut flakes on top, but the basic version is plenty exciting.

This is yet another in my coconut milk spree. I am so impressed by its versatility and ability to substitute for dairy in an amazing way.

Chocolate Cherry Tarts
adapted from Flourishing Foodie

1 can full-fat coconut milk
3/4 c. chocolate chips
almond extract (optional)

4 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
14 Tbsp. flour (1 cup minus 2 Tbsp)
1/4 c. cocoa powder

1 c. cherries, whole, or pitted and chopped or halved

For chocolate mousse:
Chill can of full-fat coconut milk upside down in the fridge overnight. When ready, flip can over and open with can opener. Pour off the water and save it for another use. Scoop the remaining solid white coconut cream into a small saucepan. Add the chocolate chips and gently melt the coconut cream and the chocolate chips together over low heat. Stir frequently and be careful not to burn. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 2-3 hours or overnight until it firms up. When ready to assemble the tarts, you may need to let the mousse sit out for a bit till it softens and is spreadable.

For tart crusts:
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease four 4" tart shells lightly. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter, coconut oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, and vanilla extract. Mix on medium speed until just combined. Add the egg yolk. Turn the speed to low, add the sifted flour and cocoa powder. Mix until all of the ingredients have come together.

Turn the dough onto the counter. Knead together with your hands into a ball. Divide the dough into eight sections. With your fingers, press the dough into the 4" tart shells, starting with the base and then pressing up the sides. Trim away the extra with a knife. Prick the base of the shells with a fork. Place the tart shells onto a baking sheet and place into the oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and press down the base of the shells with a fork, if they have puffed up. Set to the side and let completely cool.

Once the tarts have cooled, gently pop them out of their molds by squeezing the edges lightly and then pushing up from the bottom of the mold, or tap gently on the bottom of the mold. They should pop out with no fuss. If you are having difficulty, try using a tooth pick to pry them out. Set to the side.

Assemble the tarts by spreading the mousse filling into the tart crusts. Top with cherries.

June 27, 2013

Strawberry Ice Cream with Coconut Milk

I have been making this strawberry gelato recipe every year now and love it. The key is to use the ripest strawberries you can find, preferably freshly picked. This year I tried a coconut milk version and was very pleased! Coconut milk ice cream is a little icier than regular ice cream, but just let it sit out a little before scooping it.

Strawberry Ice Cream with Coconut Milk

1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 can full-fat coconut milk
2 1/4 cups sliced hulled strawberries (or 2 cups pureed strawberries)

Stir sugar and cornstarch in heavy medium saucepan. Whisk in coconut milk. Whisk over medium heat until sugar is completely dissolved. Pour into bowl. Cool over ice, stirring occasionally.

Puree strawberries in processor. Stir into ice cream base. Chill for a few hours. Process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to container. Cover; freeze until firm, at least 3 hours.

June 25, 2013

CSA - Week 1 and Sauteed Kale with Salmon

In 2010, I documented my CSA (community supported agriculture) share each week and the ways/recipes I used to prepare the produce. I am going to do the same with my CSA this year as it helps motivate me to be creative with the vegetables and fruits I receive.

It's been a cold, rainy start to the summer, so the growing is slow to start.  The first week I received kale, blue potatoes, cucumber, lettuce, green garlic (looks like green onions), and chives.

I thought it would be fun to make a mixed potato dish by making Roasted Potatoes with blue potatoes, white potatoes, and sweet potatoes.  I also used some chives.  This was a fun dish, but didn't taste as exciting as it looked.  It's still just roasted potatoes (which are good!).

My husband still won't eat seafood, but I recently decided to make an effort to eat salmon for lunch once a week with my toddler.  This lunch was so good - one I gobbled up.

Sauteed Kale and Green Garlic with Salmon and Rice

1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 bunch green garlic, white and light green parts, sliced or 1 clove garlic, minced
olive oil
salt and pepper
salmon fillet
white and black sesame seeds (optional)
fresh lemon juice

Heat olive oil in a pan (cast iron adds a lot of flavor) over medium heat. If using green garlic, add to pan and saute for a few minutes before adding kale. If using garlic clove, add garlic and kale at the same time. Saute, stirring frequently until kale is slightly wilted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Salmon: Season with salt and pepper and white and black sesame seeds (optional). Add to pan with a splash of olive oil (make the kale, and then use the same pan). Allow salmon to cook for a few minutes until golden brown. Flip over and cook a few minutes more until the flesh flakes easily with a fork. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice on top and garnish with chives (optional). Serve on top of the kale with brown rice.

June 24, 2013

Coconut Whipped Cream

I absolutely love berry picking. I went to a fabulous berry farm and picked strawberries, and they were beautiful. They are fabulous just eaten plain, but I also enjoy a little extra sweetness too. I topped a bowl of sliced strawberries with coconut whipped cream and cacao nibs, and it was heaven.

I've recently discovered coconut whipped cream and am delighted with its prospects (another recipe coming using coconut milk as cream). There is a slight flavor that gives away its true identity, but if you're not looking for it, I think it's pretty undetectable. I don't have anything against real cream (especially organic, grass-fed cream), but I like having options. This is an easy way to reduce animal/dairy products and is a perfect option for those with lactose intolerance.

Coconut Whipped Cream

1 can full-fat coconut milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
powdered sugar or maple syrup, to taste

Put the can of coconut milk upside down in the fridge for at least several hours to help separate the cream from the milk. Flip can over and open it. The watery milk should be at the top. Pour it off and save for another use. The firmer cream should be left in the can. Scoop into a bowl. Use a mixer to whip the cream to a nice consistency. Add vanilla and sweetener (start with just a few teaspoons) and whip to combine. Taste and add more sweetener if necessary. Store the whipped cream in the fridge, because as it warms up, it will start to melt.

June 19, 2013

Bulk Obsession and Farro and Roasted Sweet Potatoes

I have a bulk foods obsession. There are several reasons why, but one of the primary reasons is long-term storage. I'm working towards building up a usable supply of food, and dry items that store well make up the majority of it right now. I also love being able to buy small amounts of an item that I don't use that much or might expire before I use it up. Honestly, I find it down right exciting to browse the bulk bins and see the variety and usually good prices.

I think it all started with 101Cookbooks, an amazing, inspiring blog. For one so seemingly modest and quiet, somehow Heidi (the author of 101 Cookbooks) has influenced my kitchen life in so many ways. She does not push any trends or ideas; she is just herself, and that is the trend. She just leads her quiet life, and slowly I absorb it all. She is vegetarian, cooks in season, shops at farmers markets and small shops (ethnic or bakeries), cooks from scratch, shuns processed foods, stocks a variety of grains and flours, leads a simple life, and admires the everyday beauty of life.

I mainly use canning jars for storage, but have also mixed in reused jars. My labels are either cut from the package and stored inside the jar or written on a piece of masking/scotch tape on the outside of the jar. I don't like making permanent labels because I mix up the jar I use depending on the quantity of the item. Sometimes items are bought in traditional packaging, but once open I find it easier to store in an airtight container, like a jar.

This is a list of what is pictured above:
masa harina
7-grain cereal
golden raisins
real salt
sunflower seeds
cocoa powder
large flake coconut
turbinado sugar
shredded cocunt
poppy seeds
semolina flour
mung beans
steel-cut oats
brown basmati rice
corn meal
yellow split peas
red lentils
pearled barley
soft wheat berries
spelt berries
risotto rice
black beams
pinto beans
dried red peppers
cannelini beans
sesame seeds

So in that vein, I finally found farro in the bulk section of my local health food store. I have been searching for it for years. Having seen it several times in a sealed bag, I always passed it up because it was so expensive. Farro is a grain common in Italy, but I've usually seen that barley is a good substitute. Well, I'll tell you the truth - barley and farro are very similar, in looks, taste, and texture. So now that I know, I'll probably stick with barley most of the time.

Farro and Roasted Sweet Potatoes
from 101 Cookbooks

2 cups farro, rinsed and drained
2 teaspoons fine-grain sea salt
5 cups water (or stock)
3 cups sweet potatoes OR butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 large red onion cut into 1/8ths
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 cup walnuts, deeply toasted
3 tablespoons toasted walnut oil (or more olive oil)
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine the farro, salt, and water in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the farro is tender, 45 minutes to an hour, or about half the time if you are using semi-pearled farro. Taste often as it is cooking, you want it to be toothsome and retain structure. Remove from heat, drain any excess water, and set aside.

While the farro is cooking toss the squash, onion, and thyme with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a couple big pinches of salt on a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange in a single layer and place in the oven for about 20 minutes. Toss the squash and onions every 5-7 minutes to get browning on multiple sides. Remove from the oven, let cool a bit, and mince just 1/2 of the red onions.

In a large bowl gently toss the everything (except the goat cheese) with the toasted walnut oil (or olive oil). Taste and add a bit of salt if necessary. Serve family-style in a simple bowl or on a platter garnished with the goat cheese.

June 11, 2013

Beet Bliss Salad

This salad was one of the first things I ever made with beets. It was buried in a CSA post from 2010 with no accompanying photo, and I thought it deserved its own post. If you don't like beets or have never tried them, I recommend this recipe. Maple-sweetened dressing, goat cheese, and pecans really make this salad fabulous!

Beet Bliss Salad
adapted from Eating Well

3 medium beets
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 c. baby spinach or mixed salad greens
1/2 cups Maple-Mustard vinaigrette
2 Tbsp. chopped toasted pecans
2 ounces crumbled goat cheese

Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette
1/2 cup walnut oil or olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. coarse-grained mustard
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Make the vinaigrette by combining all ingredients except oil. Mix well. Slowly whisk in the oil. Set aside.

Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Rinse the beets and trim off any leafy tops. Wrap in aluminum foil and place in the oven. Roast until tender and easily pierced with a knife, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let cool.

When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel using a paring knife or by pushing the skin with your fingers.

Slice the beets, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

To assemble the salad, combine spinach and beets (cold or slightly warm) and top with vinaigrette, pecans, and goat cheese. Gently toss and serve.

June 8, 2013

Cocoa Brownies

I have plenty of brownie recipes already on this site, but I wanted one that used cocoa instead of chocolate. Even though I buy chocolate very frequently, it still seems like a precious commodity. So a brownie made with cocoa sounded like a good idea. These brownies were very rich and fudgey, but in a different way than, say, these fudgy brownies. I'm not even sure how to describe it. At first I thought they were cakey, but then they seemed fudgy, so maybe the longer they sat out (which wasn't very long), they turned more fudgy. Not sure, but I guess I'll have to make them again to find out!

Cocoa Brownies
from Bittersweet by Alice Medrich

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cold, large eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour
2/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 325℉. Line the bottom and sides of a 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.

2. Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.

3. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in the nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.

4. Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 25-30 minutes. Let cool completely on a cooling rack.

5. Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.

June 7, 2013

Meyer Lemon Pancakes

Since my last Meyer lemon spree, I bought another bag, knowing it was only a matter of time until they disappeared till next year. These pancakes are fluffy and lemony and excellent topped with fruit. Here I threw some frozen blueberries and a splash of maple syrup into a small saucepan and simmered for a few minutes until juicy and thawed. I can't wait for local, fresh berries to be available.

Meyer Lemon Pancakes
adapted from Olla Podrida

1 cup all-purpose flour (or whole-wheat pastry flour)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup plain yogurt or Greek yogurt
1/3 cup almond milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tbsp. Meyer lemon juice (or regular lemon juice)
1 tbsp. Meyer lemon zest (or regular lemon zest)
1 tbsp. unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted and cooled

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together egg, yogurt, milk, vanilla, lemon juice and zest, and melted butter until smooth. Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients and stir batter until combined. Batter will be thick.

Preheat a nonstick griddle or large skillet over medium-high heat, until a drop of water will skitter around the surface of the pan. Lightly grease and then, using a fourth-cup measuring cup, spoon batter onto hot surface. Cook until golden, then flip the pancakes and cook until golden on the other side. Makes 6-8 pancakes.

June 6, 2013

Turnip Soup and Vegetable Broth

So what did I do with my turnips from my farmer's market visit? This fabulous pureed turnip soup, which was so simple and so good.

I was able to use a vegetable broth I made and froze a few weeks earlier, and it did not disappoint. This will be my go-to vegetable broth recipe from now on. I love how it uses vegetable scraps - which I collected after just a few days (green part of leeks, onion skins and roots, carrot tips and peels, herb stems, etc. - just wash the entire vegetable before using, that way the scraps will be clean). If you know you will make the broth within a few days, you can store the scraps in the refrigerator. Otherwise toss them in a ziploc bag and store in the freezer until you make the broth.

Turnip Soup
adapted from Pitchfork Diaries

2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
3 cups cubed turnips
6 c. vegetable broth
white pepper
chives, chopped (optional)

Melt butter in heavy bottomed soup pot. Sprinkle flour over melted butter and stir to combine. Gradually whisk in stock until all incorporated. Add cubed turnip, bring to a gentle boil, and then reduce to a simmer until turnip is tender, about 20-25 minutes.

Puree soup either in a blender or with an immersion blender. Return to low heat, and then season with salt and white pepper. Top with chopped chives.

Vegetable Broth
from Spain in Iowa

2 onions, sliced 1/4"
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 quarts water
3 large cups extra vegetable pieces (bits, ends, and scraps)
Stems of one bunch of parsley
fennel sprigs (optional)

In a stockpot, bring 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery. Saute for 3-5 minutes or until the onions just begin to turn transparent.

Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and sweat for 30 minutes or until the onions caramelize and turn a nice golden brown.

Add 3 quarts of water and vegetable pieces. Cover, lower the heat to low and simmer for 1 1/2 - 2 hours.

Turn the heat off, then and add the parsley and fennel sprigs to the stock. Cover and allow to cool. Once cooled, strain the stock from the vegetables making sure to compress the vegetables to get every ounce of stock out of them. Store in the refrigerator or freeze for a later use.

June 4, 2013

Nori Wraps with Tempeh

I've been feeling a bit uninspired recently about food. Lately there's not much in my kitchen that is screaming "make me." But while my pantry is plenty stocked with grains, flours, pastas, lentils, legumes, etc., my refrigerator has been pretty devoid of fresh vegetables or fruits. I'm pretty picky about grocery store produce (in season and mostly organic is what I prefer), so I've relied more on canned (tomatoes) or frozen, which is very boring.

Our local farmer's market opened up this weekend, and I found a reason to cook again. Only a few vendors had vegetables as our growing season starts later here in Vermont, but I found plenty to keep me happy for a few days. My CSA starts in a few weeks, and seeing how much I am looking forward to it helps me realize how I have actually changed my diet and tastes in a fundamental way. Slowly, I really have come to love vegetables instead of forcing myself to eat them because I know I should. I so hope my daughter can grow up in a place where vegetables are the center of our diet. I used to start my meal planning focused on meat, but now I really do start with the vegetables. I have more confidence and skills now that I can go shopping for vegetables, and then plan a way to use it, instead of the opposite order. So when I bought the following items at the market this weekend, I knew I'd have no problem using it up, even though I didn't specifically have a plan.

Green lettuce, spinach, turnips, green onions, and radishes:

I came home from the market and made some nori wraps using the radishes and green onions, and some carrots, cucumber, barley, and tempeh I already had. I've been making these often lately, and always crave them. They are very versatile - choose any grain, vegetables, and herbs. I've had several delicious combinations and never been disappointed.

Tempeh is my choice of protein for these wraps. Tempeh is a fermented soy product like tofu, but I prefer it to tofu (and I don't mind tofu). Firmer in texture than tofu, tempeh has a chew to it. It's sold right next to tofu in my grocery store, is very affordable, and keeps a long time.

Nori Wraps with Tempeh

Serves one

1/2 package of tempeh
soy sauce, tamari, soy-free aminos, etc.
olive oil
2 nori sheets (usually sold for wrapping sushi)
1/2 c. cooked grain (any kind of rice, barley, quinoa)
julienned vegetables (carrot, red bell pepper, cucumber, green onion, radish)
fresh herbs (cilantro, chives)

Slice the tempeh into 1/4 inch-thick slices. Lay the slices flat in a shallow dish. Drizzle soy sauce and a little olive oil on top. Toss to coat.

Heat a skillet (cast iron recommended) over medium heat. Add the tempeh in a single layer. Cook for a few minutes, and when golden brown, flip over. Cook the other side until golden brown. Remove tempeh to a cutting board and when cool, slice in half to create a skinny slice. (the more rod-like the tempeh and vegetables, the tighter the wrap can be)

Lay out a piece of nori on a flat surface. On one end, add half the grain, tempeh, vegetables, and fresh herbs. If desired, drizzle with a little soy sauce. Roll, starting with the filled end, wrapping as tightly as you can. When rolled, seal the nori to itself with some drops of water. (Alternately, you can try the hand roll style - see this website for instructions).  Serve with some fruit for an amazing, refreshing meal.