Saturday, July 31, 2010

Boiled cake (Spice cake)

This recipe isn't "clean" or healthy in any way (Crisco, anyone?). However, it was my grandmother's recipe, so I make it the way she did. Mark doesn't like sweets, so this is what I make for his birthday every year, and it was the top layer of our wedding cake (I just had to be careful to stay away from the frosting when I fed it to him!). It's in the oven right now, filling the house with its beautiful spicy aroma, and for once it's not insanely hot on July 31st. (Why couldn't Mark have been born in fall or winter?).

Boiled Cake

¾ c. raisins

½ c. shortening

2 c. + almost 1 c. water

2 c. sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground cloves

2 tsp baking soda

About 3 c. flour

Chopped nuts, optional

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine raisins, shortening and water in a small saucepan; simmer 15 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, salt, cinnamon and cloves. Add the raisins in cooking liquid. Dissolve baking soda in ½ c. hot water, and fill cup with cold water to 1 c. mark. Add to sugar mixture. Add enough flour to make a batter. Stir in nuts if desired. Pour into greased Bundt pan. Bake 50-60 min. Wait about 10 minutes then turn out onto rack. Serve plain, with cream cheese frosting or sprinkled with powdered sugar.

I skip the nuts, but always add a little extra spice: maybe ground nutmeg, sometimes ground cardamom. This is a great cake for tea, a picnic, or hostess gift.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Potato and Broccoli Gratinatta

"What is a Gratinatta," you ask? Well I don't know for sure, I just made it up today. We had a bunch of potatoes and broccoli around from our CSA and needed a way to use them up. I make a lot of frittatas as a way to clean out the fridge. Any combination of leftover potatoes, meat, vegetables, whatever else you have on hand is fodder for frittata in our house. However, for I always use cooked potatoes so they wind up like hash browns in my frittata, and that would not work today. A potato gratin, on the other hand, starts with raw potatoes and a lot of butter and cream.

Well, I figured I could smash them both together and come up with something good.

8-10 medium red new potatoes
6 small heads of broccoli (about 3 cups or so chopped)
1 large onion or several small onions
6-8 sage leaves
8 eggs
2 cups milk (I used 1%)
1/2 lb grated Swiss cheese
Parmesan or Romano cheese
granulated garlic
olive oil

Slice all the potatoes on a mandolin or v-slicer, if you don't have one you could use your food processor or of course, a knife. The key is to get the slices all of even thickness. Slice them right into a bowl of water so some of the starch rinses off. Chop the onion and the sage leaves and set aside. Chop the broccoli into small pieces.

Preheat your oven to 375 F.

I used my Calphalon everyday pan for this dish, but any deep-sided oven-safe pan would be just fine, cast iron would work like a charm.
Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Saute the onions and sage leaves in the hot oil. Once the onions are soft, remove them from the oil and set aside.
Add enough oil to fully cover the bottom of the pan to a depth of about 1/8 inch and get it nice and hot, medium high heat should do it. Build a layer of potatoes on the bottom of the pan, sprinkle with about 1/3 of the broccoli, add some Swiss cheese and top with some of the reserved onions and sage. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic then repeat with another layer of potatoes, broccoli, cheese, onion, and seasonings until you have filled the pan or run out of potatoes.

Beat the eggs with the milk, season with salt and pepper and pour the liquid into the hot pan until it is just below the lip of the pan. Sprinkle with some more Swiss and grate on some Parmesan or Romano cheese.
Place the whole pan into the oven and bake for 1.5 hours or until the liquid is all absorbed, the eggs are set and the potatoes are soft.

My first attempt at this today I undercooked and under seasoned so the ingredients I listed here are my best guess at appropriate amounts and time. Obviously you could scale this down for a smaller batch as this thing was huge and will provide leftovers for a couple days.

We served it with some very simple roasted beets (also from the CSA) with just a bit of salt and pepper, these were the sweetest beets I think I have ever eaten, and believe me I have eaten a lot of beets.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sweet and Sour Tofu

I combined a few recipes for this one. Coating the tofu with flour or cornstarch makes it nice and crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, and the coating soaks up sauce really well.

Drain tofu for an hour or so, or freeze for a few days and then thaw, so it's firm. Pat dry. Cut into cubes about 1/2 inch, toss in 1/3 c. whole wheat flour seasoned with Chinese five-spice until each piece is well coated.

Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil + 2 tsp sesame oil in a wok or skillet, add tofu chunks a few at a time, cooking on all sides until it's all brown and crispy. Set aside. Add your vegetables, diced into 1-inch pieces: we had broccoli from the CSA, some red peppers, a little garlic, and red onions. Cook about 4-5 minutes or until crisp-tender.

Meanwhile, drain a can of pineapple chunks, reserving the juice in a 2-cup measuring cup. Mix 1 Tbsp cornstarch with 1-2 Tbsp cold water until it's a paste, add to juice. Add broth until liquid measures 2 cups; whisk in 1 Tbsp jam (I had mulberry jam around, of course), 1 Tbsp tomato paste, 2 Tbsp soy or tamari sauce, 1 Tbsp honey, and 1 Tbsp fresh grated or 1 tsp dried ginger.

Add to veggies, add tofu back in and add the pineapple. Stir until it's all heated through and the sauce has thickened.

Serve over brown rice or soba noodles.

Zucchini pancakes

My dear mother-in-law has made these for years, and they've become a favorite in our family as well. Mine are a little different; I think I add more pancake mix so they're closer to pancakes than fritters. And I think Noreen adds more cheese. This recipe is a great way to use up excess zucchini.

We've always made them with Bisquick but were in search of something a *little* less processed today. I was going to try making them totally from scratch but Mark reminded me of our buckwheat pancake mix so I decided to use that. Best batch ever.

Shred 4 small or 2 large (if using large ones, you may want to remove the seeds) zucchini. I use the food processor but you can get by with a box grater instead.
You can also use any veggies you'd like in these; adding starchier ones to the zukes is nice. Carrots, beets, corn, and potatoes are all good. (Great use of leftover corn on the cob)
Shred or chop 1 medium onion
Place shredded veggies into a bowl and sprinkle with 1 tsp kosher salt; let sit 5-10 minutes. Press out excess water. Zucchini is a pretty wet veggie and your pancakes will never cook if you skip this step.
Sprinkle with 1/2 -1 tsp garlic powder (fresh is harder to completely mix into the batter) and black pepper.
Add 1/2 c. grated Parmesan or Romano
Add 2 eggs, lightly beaten
Stir in about 2 c. buckwheat pancake mix. Enough to soak up a lot of moisture.

Heat a griddle brushed with oil over medium to medium high heat. Drop about 1/4 c. batter onto the hot griddle and spread it out a bit. As with breakfast pancakes, watch for the edges to partially cook and for bubbles to form on top in the batter. Flip when the bottom is golden-brown, cook 2 more minutes or until the other side is also golden-brown. They may be kind of moist inside but the egg should still be cooked through.

Mark likes his served with butter. I've always liked mine with sour cream and salsa, but in the interest of making this "cleaner" I used fat free Greek yogurt tonight instead of the sour cream and that was pretty tasty (and provided a little extra protein and calcium).

These are great leftovers, just reheat in the toaster oven.

Also, if you can't get to the zucchini right away, or you have a metric ton sitting in your kitchen, grate/shred and freeze it in small bags, pressing the air out and storing flat. When you thaw it, you can skip the salt and drain step because the freeze/thaw process already pushes a lot of the excess water out. Just salt to taste instead. I love making this recipe from frozen zucchini in winter; it's like a taste of summer in January.

Easy Herbed Pork Chops and Homemade Mac and Cheese

Mark is getting twitchy because we haven't added much lately; I blame the heat (eating more salads than anything else), a crazy schedule, and traveling. But here are a few recipes.

We got some amazing bone-in pork chops through CNY Bounty last week and wanted to do something quick on the grill, and in the spirit of local week.

I made a paste of 2 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 1-2 tsp dried sage (we had some great stuff leftover from an early CSA week that I just hung upside down in the kitchen to dry), 1/2 tsp kosher salt, 4 minced garlic cloves, and a few cranks of the peppermill. I LOVE the combination of sage and garlic on pork. Patted the pork dry and rubbed it with the paste, and marinated for a little over 24 hours.

They were rather thin so they cooked in just a few minutes on each side, in a grill pan or on the grill, on medium.

Served with broccoli from our CSA, and Alton Brown's Stovetop Mac and Cheese made with organic orecchiette from the farmer's market and McAdam NY Cheddar. I love this recipe, and also the baked mac and cheese from the same episode. My only changes were using about 1.5 Tbsp butter instead of 4, and a little less cheese because it was very flavorful XXX Sharp.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Local Scotch Eggs?

I have been trying to figure out what to do with the remaining 1/2 lb of sausage we bought at the market and it popped into my head today. 

Scotch eggs, why not? I have always wanted to make my own Scotch eggs. A Scottish gentleman I met once upon a time assured me, in a loud alcohol laden voice,  that "Scotch eggs have f*#@ all to do with Scotland" so I won't make any silly references to enjoying them in a kilt or any other such thing.

What is a Scotch egg you say? Well wikipedia to the rescue. 

I used
1/2 lb bulk sausage form Sweet Grass Farms
panko bread crumbs
4 hard boiled eggs
dried sage
salt and pepper

Set up your deep fryer, or cast iron dutch oven, or whatever vessel you like to deep fry in. Any heavy bottom pot will work in a pinch but I love my cast iron dutch oven for a variety of applications but for frying it is hard to beat.

Mix some salt pepper and dried sage into about 1/2 cup of panko breadcrumbs
Beat one egg into a bowl and put your sausage on a plate

Peel your eggs and coat them in sausage, the stuff I used is an Italian sausage, the traditional version would use breakfast sausage, you are looking for a nice even coating about 1/4 inch thickness. Don't worry if it is thicker than that, but don't go to far. 

Dip them in eggs and roll in the breadcrumbs, then place them in the fryer two at a time. Cook for 5-7 minutes or so until they are just beyond golden brown, the whole thing should feel pretty solid if you tap it with your finger.

Slice and serve with hot sauce, or blue cheese, or ranch dressing or anything that strikes your fancy

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Zucchini ribbon salad

This was a dish I've wanted to make for a couple of years now and hadn't gotten around to it. But today I wanted a quick salad and didn't feel like cooking much, so it was perfect! This is a great way to use some of that early zucchini, the small ones that are sweet and tender, before they grow into huge monstrosities that you're trying to give away to strangers (those are made into zucchini pancakes, but that's another post).

I used a vegetable peeler to peel 2 small zucchinis into long, thin strips, like fettuccini. I'd read online a suggestion to use a V-slicer or mandolin and tried it briefly; the pieces were too thick and the chunks of zucchini too unwieldy for the slicer.

So, the vegetable peeler it was! The slices are so small and tender, you can eat it raw, tossed with just a little of your favorite vinaigrette. I wanted a bit more bulk, so I cooked a cup of quinoa and sprinkled it on top for protein and more fiber. You can also add chick peas, they'd add even a little more. No, the quinoa is not a local product but I recently stocked up on grains and flours at the Syracuse Real Food Co-op so I had them in the house already. I dressed it with a glug of sunflower oil, splash of lemon juice, chopped fresh herbs from our garden (the ubiquitous mint, oregano and chives), and tomorrow I'll add a few of the last of our garlic scapes (today I'd forgotten we have them). I think the early squash and late scapes are a good combination.

By the way, the sunflower oil was purchased through a local program we have now, CNY Bounty. It's like an online, year-round farmer's market, with free delivery to select locations around CNY (our Y is one of them; they deliver on Thursdays when I work so we save some gas!).

Hamburger or sandwich rolls

For our "traditional" dinner Monday night of burgers, salad and corn on the cob, I decided to make my own rolls. I used the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day recipe, begun 2 days before, and pulled off 4 small balls of dough, roughly the size of lemons. Stretched them out to 3.5" in diameter, and let rest on a floured stoneware pan for 20 minutes, covered with a dishtowel. Turned on the oven to 400 degrees F, and let the bread sit for another 20 minutes before putting it in the oven and baking for another 20 minutes. (40 min rest time, 20 min bake time). I did not add a pan of hot water to the oven like I do when making a crusty loaf because I don't like really crusty sandwich rolls, I like them a bit softer.

Let the rolls rest at least half an hour after baking before you slice into them, otherwise they'll crumble and never hold the burger.

I have also made this recipe for Beautiful Burger Buns from King Arthur Flour and they're excellent. I had the artisan dough made up and wanted to use that recipe to show its versatility.

We served the grass-fed beef burgers on homemade rolls with Sweet Grass Farm's bacon, some local bleu cheese; tossed salad and market-fresh NY corn on the cob rounded out the meal.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Local week Dinner Grilled Beet and Fava bean salad with blue cheese

Today's dinner was inspired by a recipe Kerrie found for grilled fava beans (hopefully she can find the link to it)
We had lots of fresh salad greens and beets from last week, alongside with some locally made blue cheese and fava beans from the regional market.

1 lb whole fava beans
4 small beets
4-6 cloves of garlic
lemon juice
olive oil
cumin seeds
kosher salt
black pepper

pre heat your grill

Peel and slice the beets, I use a vegetable peeler for my beets but you can easily do it with a knife. Try to get your slices cut to a similar thickness. Lay out a sheet of foil and layer the beets in the center drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper. Wrap them tightly and set aside.

For the fava beans, most recipes I looked at called for cooking the favas right on your grill grates or in a grill basket. The recipe that Kerrie found called for cooking them in foil which is what we did. Wash the favas to be sure there is no loose grit, as you wash them give them a shake, if they sound like they are rattling around in the pod they may not be very fresh. They should still be OK but if they are really loose you may consider chucking them. You will want to do two packets of foil for a lb of beans. Lay 1/2 of the beans on the foil, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle on some lemon juice, add 2-3 gloves of smashed garlic and a tsp or two of cumin seeds (toasted)
Seal tightly and repeat with the other 1/2 of the beans.
Place the beats and the favas on the grill and cook  at medium heat for 20-25 minutes flipping every 5-7 minutes or so.

Once the beans and beets have cooked through remove them form the fire, open the packets and let them rest until they are cool enough to handle. Open the fava bean pods and set  the beans aside. While they cool pile up some greens in a bowl or on a plate, crumble on some blue cheese and then top with the warm beets and fava beans.

We dressed them with some white balsamic vinegar and sunflower oil and a little more cracked black pepper.

The seasonings for the fava beans are pretty much limitless, I will say they did not pick up much flavor from the cooking process but the flavors around them, and the texture were great. I might add some more liquid next time and go for more of a braise to get the flavor into the pods, and therefore into the beans.

CSA Week 5

Week 5 is here and we have some great stuff.

Share Week 5: Romaine lettuce, escarole, new potatoes, broccoli , beets, summer squash, Cippolini onions, garlic bulbs, cilantro

Beets are one of my favorite vegetables and I love finding ways to use them. cippolini onions are destined for grilling, they turn into these wonderful sweet oniony mouthfuls when grilled or roasted. They also make the perfect onions for shish kebab. Lots of lettuce for salads to keep going through these hot days


Monday, July 19, 2010

A (mostly) Local BLT

BLT's are summer for me. I have such fond memories of eating BLT's with my family, big plates of toast, fresh tomatoes, lettuce and bacon all waiting to be assembled. A slather of mayo and I was in heaven. The combination of textures and flavors in a BLT are just perfect.

We bought some Bacon from sweet grass farm this past Saturday and I knew a BLT was in my future. Added to that were some fresh sourdough from the market, lettuce from our CSA, and some local tomatoes, they were hothouse tomatoes so not quite perfect yet but they were still tasty.  The only non local ingredient was some mayo on the bread, I know I can make my own, I just haven't done so yet. Anyone have a good homemade mayo recipe?

Local week continues and it is fantastic. Burgers tonight, more Sweet Grass ground beef, bacon and local blue cheese on home made rolls coming up for dinner.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Local Week Breakfast

Blueberry pancakes, how can you go wrong? A lot of the blog entries this week will likely fall into the food log category rather than the recipe category.

New Hope Mills pancake mix has been a favorite of mine for a long time. The buckwheat mix in particular reminds me of weekends in Watkins Glen.  Toss on some fresh local blueberries with NY maple syrup and you have a delicious local breakfast.

Local Week Begins

Heavily influenced by Barbara Kingsolvers book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (P.S.) Kerrie and I decided that we were going to set ourselves up to eat as close to 100% local as we can for a week. This time of year it is much easier since we have a steady supply of local seasonal vegetables aleready.
We started off this morning with a trip the regional market to pick up some fruit, bread, eggs, cheese, and meats to use in our meal planning alongside our existing stock of CSA veggies and the list of stuff we know is coming.

We were waffling on what to do for dinner tonight but I knew I wanted to use last weeks Pac Choy  in some fashion before it went bad. I had the idea to stuff the pac choy and after a bit of research I came up with sausage stuff pac choy.

Pac Choy or Bok Choy, something big and leafy. (From our CSA)
2 garlic scapes (from our CSA)
3 small purplette onions(from our csa)
1/2 lb turkey sausage (from sweetgrass farm)
1 Tbsp soy sauce
Chinese 5 spice powder
2 cups stock
olive oil

Trim the stems from the pac choy and chop the stems into small pieces, set the leaves aside to use later, chop up the garlic scapes and onions. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet ( I used my electric skillet, only becuase I didn't want to run a burner) add the garlic scapes and onions and saute until soft and lightly browned, add the pac choy stems and saute until soft, then add the sausage and one cup of the chicken stock. Season with a couple teaspoons of the five spice and continue stirring and breaking up the sausage until it  is cooked through. Add the soy sauce and taste for seasonings, add more 5 spice as needed. Remove the stuffing from the pan and set aside, lay out the pac choy leaves and scoop a couple Tbsp of the filling onto the stem end and roll up to the top. Heat the other cup of stock in your skillet and lay your pac choy rolls into the pan, cover and cook for a bout 5 minutes until the leaves are soft.  We served it with brown rice, which was not local but I don't know of anyplace that grows rice locally.
As we ate this Kerrie thought that mushrooms would have been a great addition and I agree. I had intended to add the rice to the stuffing but the pac choy leaves were too small to really stuff well so it wouldn't fit. Cutting up the stuffed pieces and mixing it with the rice was delicious. So meal one of local food is complete and the only non local ingredient (besides seasonings) was the rice.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Broccoli stir fry

I won't claim to have any particular mastery over stir fry but this broccoli is always a hit, particularly with my kids so I wanted post it. May you have good luck with it.

I used this weeks CSA broccoli, my son was caressing and smelling the broccoli trees in a way I'm not entirely comfortable with so I asked him if he would like me to cook it, he did so I did. It didn't really go with the Indian inspired meal I was preparing but hey my kids love this broccoli so who am I to refuse.

Broccoli (as much as you want to use, I find 3 crowns about the right amount depending on the size)
granulated garlic
soy sauce
vegetable oil
sesame oil

I go back and forth between my wok and my Calphalon everyday pan
My wok is kind of a cheap nonsitck job and it works just fine  but I just like the feel of the calphalon and the wider bottom allows me to get more broccoli in contact with the surface of the pan when it is smoking hot.

Add enough vegetable oil to almost coat the bottom of the pan then add a couple tsp of sesame oil, heat until the oil is almost smoking then toss in your broccoli, toss the broccoli to get it coated with the oil, a minute or two, then sprinkle with a tsp of granulated garlic, toss to combine then add some soy sauce, maybe a couple of teaspoons. reduce the heat and cook until the soy sauce is almost completely absorbed then just sprinkle the sake on to deglaze the pan, cook for another few minutes and serve

CSA Week 4

This weeks share has some exciting stuff in it. Pac choi, garlic scapes, and snap peas are all crying out for a stir fry. I love beets, they are so versatile, this time of year I am likely to grill them rather than roast them but we shall see.
Todays summer squash and broccoli already made it to dinner.

Loose leaf lettuce
pac choi
Sugar Snap peas
summer squash
Purplette onions
garlic scapes

Indian Spicy Grilled Chicken with grilled curried summer squash.

I grabbed the chicken recipe from an Indian cookbook I am growing to love called Madhur Jaffrey's Quick & Easy Indian Cooking
This is the second dish we have made that has turned out really well.
The Summer squash was a spur of the moment dish based on what we picked up from the CSA this week.

For the Chicken:
1 Tbsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 Tbsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne (more or less to taste)
1 Tbsp Garam Masala
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground oregano or 1 tsp ajwain seeds which can be found in Indian markets. It is described as having a taste similar to oregano and thyme but much more potent
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 clove of garlic smashed and peeled
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice(fresh is always best but I didn't have time today to run to the store)
2 Tbsp plain yogurt ( I used Greek yogurt)
2 3/4 lb chicken pieces ( I used boneless skinless breast but this would be great with thighs, legs, or bone in breasts)

For the Summer Squash:
2 small summer squash
vegetable oil
curry powder

According to the recipe this does not need to marinate long if at all but the spice paste can be made up well ahead of time or rubbed on the chicken and refrigerated for up to 24 hours. I put mine in the fridge this morning.

Mix up all the ingredients but the chicken and either set it aside to use later or pour it onto your chicken and rub to coat evenly. If you do put the chicken in the fridge let it come to room temperature before grilling

Heat up your grill and give it a good coating of oil before placing the chicken down, the spice paste forms a great crust but you need to get it onto a very hot grill so it forms a crust on the chicken not on your grill grates.
Grill until your instant read thermometers says 165 then pull from the grill and let it rest for 5 minutes or so.

The summer squash is an easy one, if you are firing up the grill already then summer squash grilled in foil is always a nice addition. Slice the summer squash into even slices and lay down a sheet of foil about 16-18 inches long. Pile your squash onto the center of the foil give it a good coat of oil ( butter is better but hey cutting some fat is a good thing) sprinkle on some kosher slat and curry powder, toss the pieces together and add some more curry powder. I used 2-3 tsp maybe? Just be sure each piece has some nice color form the curry on it. Fold the foil to get the best seal you can. Don't be afraid to add another piece in the opposite direction. If you want to get really smart lay out two pieces of foil of equal length like a plus sign and lay your squash in the middle. Lay the foil packet on your grill and cook along side your chicken. Depending on how you like you squash you may want to place it on a few minutes before the chicken or pull it early. I don't like my squash mushy so I lean towards under cooking, just enough to heat through.

If I had any cilantro I would have made a mint chutney to serve with it alongside the frozen samosas I had on hand. Some additional yogurt was welcome on the side to cut some of the spice.

Basmati rice would have worked well but who wants to cook rice on a hot day.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Braised kale with white beans

We were looking for something to do with the latest batch of Red Russian Kale and Kerrie found a braised kale and white bean recipe that sounded promising. I made a few substitutions to the original that I think worked really well.

The Original Ingredients:
1 bunch kale
1 cloves garlic
one onion
2 cups stock
one can of white beans
salt and pepper
olive oil

My additions:
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 garlic scape
1 clove garlic

My Replacement:
I used three small purplette onions instead of a white onion

I used my electric skillet for this since it is still hot and the electric skillet doesn't heat up the kitchen  nearly as much as the stove top. If using a regular skillet set the heat to medium low, I had the skillet at 275 or so.
Chop the kale into bite size pieces and set aside. Chop the onion, garlic cloves and the garlic scape
Sweat the onions, garlic and garlic scapes in the olive oil until they are soft. Then add your kale and chicken stock, cover and braise for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes add the white beans and stir to combine, season with salt and pepper to taste.  I thought the first taste was a bit flat so I added the balsamic vinegar and red pepper flakes to give it a bit of a bite. It turned out really well, the vinegar was a nice touch and the heat from the red pepper worked for me. All in a nice simple side dish.

Swiss Chard Soup

This recipe came from my Aunt Kathleen many years ago and it has been one of my favorites since I was kid.

1 lb Swiss chard
1 potato
1 carrot
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup butter
1 cup milk
1 cup stock (chicken or vegetable)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp thyme
1/2 Tbsp oregano

Chop the potato and carrot into roughly equal size chunks, about an inch in diameter, smash the garlic and remove the peel, roughly chop the onion and the Swiss chard. I layer all the vegetables, starting with the potatoes and carrots into my steamer and steam for 20 minutes. This way they all cook at once and I can impart some flavor into them by adding fresh thyme. You can steam the vegetables any way you like or you can boil the potatoes and carrots and saute the rest. You just want to get them soft enough to puree easily. If you don't own a stick blender then puree all the vegetables together and set aside. If you have a stick blender you can do it later.

In a good heavy bottom pot combine the butter and the flour to make a roux.  If a dish has a roux in it, chances are good I'm going to like it, good roux making is an important thing to have in your cooking arsenal.Once your roux is ready, slowly pour in the stock and the milk and continue whisking to combine. Add the cheese and whisk for another minute then add salt, pepper, nutmeg, thyme and oregano. I add maybe a 1/4 tsp of nutmeg, you can add more but start with a small amount and taste as you go, the nutmeg should not be a huge upfront flavor but should be hanging around in the background and making your brain say "hey what is that flavor? That seems a little different, I can't quite place you but I like you here, you can stay."

Once the mixture is heated through add your vegetables. Stir to combine if you have already pureed and then taste for seasoning. If you have not pureed your vegetables then stir them to combine for about two minutes, turn off the heat and use your stick blender to puree everything together.  If you find that it is a bit too thick you can add more stock to thin, you could add more milk as well if you want a creamier soup.

I like this soup hot or cold but I recommend you try it fresh first. Some good crostini or garlic toast is a real winner with this soup.

With the electric steamer it is a great dish for hot days like we have been having. Anything to avoid standing in front of the stove or running a burner for 20 minutes is a good thing.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

CSA Week 3

Well CSA week three is here and all the hot weather of late has really meant a lot of salads. This week will be more of the same with a couple of exceptions that make me a happy man.

This weeks share includes
red leaf lettuce
green leaf lettuce
Swiss Chard
Sugar Snap Peas
Purplette onions
garlic scapes
Easter Egg radishes 

When we picked up last night, a bunch of this went into salads for dinner. Some of the peas, one of the onions (I love these onions, tender, sweet, good raw or cooked) the green leaf lettuce , some radishes and one of the garlic scapes were all on tap. We had some red peppers around as well so one of those got chopped up. In order to get some protein into dinner we opened a can a tuna. Kerrie elected to just toss hers in to the salad Antipasto style in an effort to avoid mayo. I wanted more of a traditional tuna salad so I mixed the tuna with the onion, garlic, radishes, red peppers and added a couple of tablespoons of thick Greek yogurt and some salt and pepper. We had seen that as a substitution option in the past but always thought it sounded weird, it was delicious. I think the balsamic vinaigrette dressing really blended well with the yogurt to give it the kind of tangy flair you want out of mayo but in a much healthier style.

The exciting element from this weeks share is Swiss Chard, it is one of my favorite greens. I think this batch is destined for Swiss Chard soup which I will post later this week when I make it.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The humble Spiedie

Summertime and Spiedies go hand in hand in The Binghamton area of NY and throughout Central NY. They are a favorite of our family and extended family. My first exposure to them was many years ago at a family friend's house; those were venison spiedies and I was in love. Kerrie's family is from the Binghamton area and grew up with them so it was a natural thing for us to start making them and sharing them with our kids.

Spiedies can be made with any meat, but the recipe is the same no matter the protein. This particular batch is lamb, I use a boneless leg of lamb trimmed of most fat and cut into 3/4- inch cubes (or thereabouts).

This recipe came from Kerrie's Uncle and is modeled on the recipe from Lupo's Char Pit:

4 lbs of meat
1/3 cup oil plus more for coating the meat
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/8 cup of lemon juice
2 Tbsp Garlic powder
1 Tbsp Salt
1 Tbsp Oregano
1 Tbsp Basil
1 Tbsp Parsley
1 Tbsp Mint
1/2 Tbsp black pepper
1 bay leaf

Cut the meat into pieces about 3/4-inch; you can go bigger or smaller just try to keep them uniform. You could also just use boneless chicken breast halves or pork chops; they make a great sandwich.

Coat meat with oil and set aside in your non-reactive marinating vessel of choice. I have said enough about the Tupperware marinator, I will leave it alone this time. A Ziploc bag will work just fine.

Whisk or mix together all the other ingredients and pour over the meat, mix well to coat and put it in the fridge a minimum of 24 hours, 48-72 is better. After the meat has marinated, put it on skewers (metal is tradition, bamboo works fine, just remember to soak them) and grill. It won't take long on the grill to get them right. Usually the cubes are too small to use a thermometer for an accurate reading so you have to wing it a bit. For chicken or pork use a sharp knife to cut open one of the cubes in the middle of the skewer and check for doneness. 10 minutes or so should be about right.

Spiedies are served with fresh Italian bread or Italian submarine rolls, they should be served hot off the grill and you use the roll or bread as an oven mitt to pull the meat off the skewer. That is why I like metal better than bamboo, it slides off the skewer easier. DO NOT USE CONDIMENTS OR ANY OTHER TOPPINGS. It's just sacrilege. Spiedies, sweet corn, salt potatoes and a green salad make for a wonderful (and Central NY centric) meal.

If you are traveling with spiedies, I recommend skewering them before you leave the house. Standing around in a park or campground skewering spiedies and figuring out where to wash your hands and not make everyone sick is not a good time. In this case I would say go for the bamboo skewers as they can be trimmed a bit or set at an angle they will fit right on the lip of your Tupperware marinator, oh wait I wasn't going to talk about that anymore.