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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Spicy Stir Fried Long Beans

My husband was so nice to give me the biggest cold for my birthday.  Really. So. Very. Sweet.  It's what I always wanted.  So I am laying in bed this morning, while he is at soccer with Adrienne, cup of tea  on one side of me, purring (or should I say snoring) cat on the other, and I figure I should blog one of the many recipes I have cooked and photographed, but have yet to write about.

I've cooked a lot of amazing stuff with the CSA loot.  The variety and quality of the produce has been awesome.  I don't think I would have ever bought dragon beans or long beans myself, so it's just been really fun to try new things.  Not all of my attempts have been the best - I absolutely destroyed the beautiful leeks I was given.  To follow a recipe by the book that someone publishes and have it end up in the garbage is quite annoying.  I apologize if I have ever done that to anyone, but the lesson learned is that it's about trusting your own instincts.  We don't all like things the same way and not all produce is created equal, so if you think you should be using more or less of an ingredient, believe me when I say you should trust yourself.  My potatoes must have been much bigger than necessary, but by the time I knew for sure, it was too late to save it.   I hope the toilet bowl likes potato leek soup.

This is a recipe that will be easy for anyone to doctor or save if we end up not having the same taste and you think it's too salty or spicy or needs more of something.  Feel free to go crazy with this one.  It's my personality.  I started with an epicurious recipe, but changed it to suit my own tastes.  I think scallions are a much better choice than shallots for this.  It also needed a touch of sweetness, so I included honey.  I have made this dish twice already because it is so easy, quick and delicious.  It's a great compliment to any noodle dish or stir fry you make.  It doesn't require much chopping, prep, or time, and most importantly, it's really tasty.  This is one of the easiest dishes to throw together.   Blanch your beans before hand and you have practically no more work ahead of you.  Enjoy!

Spicy Stir Fried Long Beans
adapted from epicurious

1 bunch of long beans (about 1 lb)
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts
1 Tbsp peanut oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
1 Tbsp reduced sodium say sauce
1 tsp honey
3 red Thai chili peppers, minced
a squeeze of lime (optional)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Cook the beans for 3 minutes and remove them to an ice bath immediately to stop them from cooking.  Long beans can get mushy if overcooked.  Once cooled, trim the ends off the beans and chop them into inch-long pieces.  Place the peanuts in a small food processor or chopper and pulse until about half are ground small.  There should still be large pieces.  Don't over grind - you don't want peanut butter.  Combine the soy sauce, honey, and chili peppers in a small bowl.  Once the ingredients have been prepped, heat the peanut oil in a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add the garlic and scallions and saute for about a minute.  Then add the peanuts and stir together for another minute.  Add the beans and combine until hot.  Remove from the heat and add the sauce.  Squeeze in the lime juice if you are using it and stir until well combined.  Serve with noodles or rice. Index blog website fast

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

I was just spending a very relaxing Sunday not doing a whole lot of anything and I came to the realization that I had a bag of tomatillos, a jalapeno, and some cilantro in the fridge.  What's a girl to do?  Prepare yourself for the best salsa recipe ever.  Strong words, I know, but my husband Jim said so - and he is quite the connoisseur when it comes to all things salsa and hot sauce related (which is putting it mildly - pun absolutely intended.)  The salsa king has spoken - now I need to watch him so that he doesn't finish it all by himself in ten minutes.  I would like to have it for some company we're having over tomorrow.  If I don't keep my eye on him, he will in fact finish the entire jar I made.  He doesn't even need chips - just a spoon if even that.  He's sneaky too.  He will take a little at a time, every time he finds himself alone in the kitchen, and before you know it, the entire jar is gone.   I know I sound a little like the salsa police, but the quantities listed below did not produce a hell of a lot of salsa.  It's just the right amount to put out with a bowl of tortilla chips as an app for guests or to serve along side some tacos (chicken or pork would be amazing with this salsa...yes yes).  This is not the right amount for Jim to indulge in eating with a spoon out of the mason jar before I want to serve it to others.  I would have doubled the recipe if I had more tomatillos because this is crazy yummy and the salsa monster is lurking.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
recipe from Rick Bayless

1/2 lb tomatillos, husked and washed
1 jalapeno, stemmed
6 sprigs of cilantro, thick stems removed
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup minced sweet onion

Preheat your broiler on high.  Place the tomatillos and jalapeno on a lined baking sheet and place in the oven about 4 inches from the heating element for about 5 minutes.  Then flip everything over and broil for another 4 or 5 minutes until nicely charred.  Remove and place in a food processor along with any juice that may be on the baking sheet.  Add the cilantro and pulse until it reaches your desired consistency (I like it slightly chunky.)  Add the salt and onion and combine.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Miso Glazed Eggplant

I've been getting a lot of eggplant in the CSA, and since I am not one to make the same things over and over again, there has been a number of eggplant experiments this summer.  Very unfortunately, no one was a fan of eggplant caponata recipe I tried out (thanks, but no thanks, Giada.)  The stir fry was delicious, but not the most interesting or photograph friendly.  Then after two weeks of letting the eggplants accrue patiently in my fridge, I finally decided to try out this side dish.  This is my new favorite way to eat eggplant (assuming of course I ignore what will always be my favorite way to eat eggplant without actually knowing you are eating eggplant: see said Roasted Eggplant Pasta here.)  Eggplants have a weird and off putting texture if you don't cook them correctly.  This recipe has them baked until they are nothing but mushy and sweet slices of awesomeness, coated with a salty and umami miso glaze, and you have yourself the kind of side dish you just can't stop eating.  If you are like me and aren't the biggest fan of miso soup, don't let that stop you from using miso in a recipe.  It takes on an entirely different savoriness (that's the umami I referred to earlier) when you cook with it.  Also, white miso is the mildest of all the misos and it has almost a sweet flavor, without being sweet.  If you want to add some sweetness to this dish, I bet it would work really well.  I thought to add a teaspoon or two of brown sugar to the glaze although the recipe really didn't call for it, but in the name of letting go of added sugar, I didn't do it - a surprising move on my part - but if I can do without added sugar, I will.  Luckily, this had no need for the extra sugar to be a satisfying and delicious dish.  I paired it with some marinated pork chops and sesame soba noodles.  It was a memorable dinner.  If you try it out, I hope you enjoy it!

Miso Glazed Eggplant
recipe from Bon Appetit

6 Japanese eggplants (the long skinny ones), cut diagonally in 1-inch slices
1 Tbsp canola oil
1/3 cup white miso
4 tsp finely grated ginger
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tsp white vinegar
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 tsp sesame seeds, divided
3 Tbsp thinly sliced scallions, divided

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place eggplant on a parchment lined baking sheet and brush both sides with the canola oil.  Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until tender, flipping halfway through.  While they cook, mix the miso with the next five ingredients as well as half the sesame seeds and scallions.  Remove the eggplant from the oven and turn the oven to broil.  Brush the eggplant slices with the miso mixture and return to the oven to broil for about 4 or 5 minutes.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Baked Chipotle Lime Rice

There are so many ways to cook rice.  My favorite is an actual rice cooker.  If you find the right one, you will get perfect rice every time.  Unfortunately our perfect one broke about eight years ago.  In our quest to find another perfect rice cooker, I have spent time a lot of time with numerous less than perfect versions - some cheap, some expensive.  So much so that I have begun to bake rice in the oven.  It doesn't come out quite the same, but it does come out very delicious.  It lacks the stickiness that I love from perfectly cooked rice cooker rice - the kind you get from Chinese take out.  However, this method is quick and easy and it does taste very good.  I am sharing this recipe below that I discovered from just throwing in different ingredients that I was already working with for the main course.  It came out transcendentally good (if that's possible which I believe it is.)  Consider throwing in the ingredients listed, or try out your own combination of ingredients, or just bake the rice plain - also lovely.  I got the cooking method from Ted Allen - as in one of the former Queer Eye guys or the guy who can currently be found on every other food show airing on television.  So thanks to Ted Allen I now have a go to side dish for pretty much anything.

*He says you can follow the same exact recipe using brown rice only you would cook it for 1 hour instead of 18 minutes.  I have yet to try this out with brown rice because it is just so beautifully fragrant when using basmati - I can't help but keep reaching for basmati when I begin - but I find it surprising that if you use brown, you wouldn't need any extra liquid.  Please share your results if you do try it out!

Also, I failed to get a picture of my amazing tomatillo salsa tonight (CSA tomatillos are amazing!) - sometimes I'm too too hungry and a girl's just gotta eat.  I was able to get a picture of what was left of the rice (not much by the way) after dinner was done.  Hopefully I can share the tomatillo salsa some other time soon.  Until then, enjoy this recipe at least...

Baked Chipotle Lime Rice

1-1/2 cups of long grain white rice*
1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
1-1/2 cups water
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
1 tsp finely minced canned chipotle chili in adobo sauce
1 tsp lime zest
1 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Set an oven proof baking dish with a tight fitting lid on the stove and add your water and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil.  Then add the olive oil, salt, and cumin.  Add the rice and stir.  Cover and place in the oven for 18 minutes.  Remove and let rest for a few minutes.  Then uncover and add the remaining ingredients.  Stir until everything is incorporated nicely and serve hot.

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Monday, July 27, 2015

"Fried" Green Tomato Caprese

I got the most adorable little green tomatoes in the CSA this week.  So no better time than now to try out fried green tomatoes.  I have never had them.  Love the movie, though.  Of course, as much as I love fried food, I am not one to fry things unless I am sure that the baked versions will not suffice.  Examples of this are potato latkes - really fritters of any kind - they don't call 'em "fritters" for nothin'.  So I looked for a recipe for a baked version of fried green tomatoes, and I was lucky enough to find a great recipe that used them as the star of a caprese salad...brilliant.  This came out fantastic.  I would not change a single thing.

I believe that the greatness of this simple of a recipe is certainly due to the sum of its parts...incredible produce from Berube Farm in Dracut, Mass, as well as amazing fresh mozzarella from Tuscan Market in Salem, NH.  You can't have an amazing caprese salad without amazing ingredients.  Next time you have some of these amazing things on hand, I highly recommend you make this.  Alongside a glass of wine, it was pure summer loveliness.

"Fried" Green Tomato Caprese
recipe from Diane, A Broad

4 green tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp medium grain cornmeal
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
cooking spray
2-oz ball of fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
8 basil leaves
1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp of honey

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Mix the breadcrumbs, cornmeal, flour, salt, pepper, and cayenne in a bowl.  Dip each of the tomato slices into the egg and then the breadcrumb mixture.  Make sure each slice gets completely covered, pressing the breadcrumbs down so they stick, and then place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Spray them with some cooking oil and then bake for about 25 minutes until golden brown.

While the tomatoes are cooking, place your balsamic vinegar and honey in a small saucepan and cook simmering over medium heat for about 8 minutes until it has thickened.  Do not let it overcook or you will have balsamic hard candy instead of a nice reduction.

Assemble the caprese however your foodie heart desires.  I took pictures as shown above and then realized I had miscalculated the number of tomato slices I had (I may be a math teacher, but I was working hungry, so cut me some slack.)  I then ended up serving it as one tomato slice with one slice of mozzarella and one leaf of basil.  With a little bit of balsamic drizzle below (of course you could also drizzle some on top as well!), it was perfection.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Stuffed Rondo (de Nice) Squash

Truth be told, this was my first time stuffing a squash.  I've never been that into squash, so I typically fry them up as fritters (because anything is better fried) or I mix it into a pesto where my unsuspecting daughter used to (note the words "used to" there) eat it up blissfully unaware.  Yet when I got my hands on these softball shaped globes in this week's CSA, I felt like I had no choice but to stuff away.  So stuff away I did.  Again, I am not the biggest fan of squash in general, but the stuffing in here was pretty tasty.  The recipe I used called for parsley alone, but I also had sage on hand from the CSA, so I threw that in there as well.  I kicked myself for not remembering to throw in a hot pepper that I was also provided - I bet that would have made this so so much better.  Next time I am given squash to stuff, I will add some hot pepper because the stuffing could have definitely used some spice...and maybe a bit of parmesan cheese.  I think those two things would have made this dish better.  (I will update the recipe if and when I try that out.)  Other than that, this was a fine dish, but I'm posting to also share in what I felt was a pretty unique squash that I had never heard of before.  I have never seen this at the grocery store among the typical butternuts, acorns, winters, and summers.  Apparently, from what I could find out about it, supermarkets prefer not to sell them because their flesh bruise easily.  I can believe it, but who really knows.

Stuffed Rondo Squash
adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen

serves 2

2 rondo squash
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Italian chicken sausage link (about 1/3 of a lb), removed from casing
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh sage
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Cut the tops off the squash about 2 inches away from the stems.  If the squash are very round and won't stay upright, you can cut a little off of the bottoms to make them flat and stable.  Scoop out their inner flesh, leaving about a 1/4 inch wall.  Finely chop the scooped out  insides and reserve for later.  In a large saute pan, add the olive oil and set over low heat.  Add the onion and garlic, season with a little salt, and cook until the onion is soft.  Raise the heat to medium and add the sausage.  Break it up as it cooks.  When the sausage is cooked, add the insides, some more salt, and cook, stirring occasionally,  until tender, about 5 minutes.  Then add the tomato paste and incorporate fully.  Remove from heat.  If there is any liquid left over (there was none in my mixture), transfer the mixture to a bowl with a slotted spoon so the extra liquid is left behind.  Then add the herbs, bread crumbs, pepper, and any more salt (if needed.)  Scoop this mixture into the hollowed out squash.  Place a bit of oil on the bottom of your baking dish and fit the squash snugly inside.  Cover and bake for 45 minutes.  They are done cooking when a knife inserts easily into the outer flesh.  If they are not yet done, raise the oven temperature up to 325 and cook for another 10 minutes.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Strawberry Kale Salad

 Another kale salad recipe???  @#$& yes!  Berube Farm is churning out tasty kale on a weekly basis, so I apparently will be making many a kale salad this summer and I am loving it.  Super delicious.  Super healthy.  I never knew I could love kale so very much.  This recently discovered recipe included radishes, and if only I had found this during week 1 of the CSA when I was given two tasty bunches! (Damn it.)  Alas, I did not have any more radishes on hand, so they were unfortunately and very disappointingly excluded.  I will definitely be ready and waiting next year for radish/kale bag.  Regardless, it was still amaaaaaaazing.  It has a lemony dressing, which alone seemed too sour - so much so that I upped the honey just a smidge - but with the sweet strawberries, toasty granola, and tangy goat cheese, it ended up being perfect.  I didn't think I was going to find another kale salad I liked as much as the last one, but this one was so good too.  In fact, I think I may like this one a little bit more.  Okay, maybe they're tied.  They are so different.  Maybe you should make both and tell me which you like best.

Strawberry Kale Salad
adapted oh so minutely from Cookie + kate

1 bunch kale, ribs removed, leaves chopped into small pieces
1/2 lb strawberries, hulled and sliced
2 oz soft goat cheese, crumbled

for the Nutty Granola (this makes much more than necessary for the salad - you could absolutely halve the recipe - or save the rest to use on top of yogurt or more salad!):
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup whole almonds
1/2 cup shelled pistachios (or you could use walnuts or pecans)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp agave nectar (or honey)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all of the nuts, seeds, salt, and cayenne together.  (The recipe also called for 1 Tbsp of fennel seeds, but I am not crazy about fennel, so I omitted it altogether.)  Add the egg, olive oil, and agave (or honey) and combine.  Spread onto a lined baking sheet in a single layer and cook for 16 to 18 minutes, stirring once halfway through.  Set aside to cool.

for the dressing (I used about half on the salad):
3 Tbsp olive oil
juice from 1 small lemon (about 2 Tbsp)
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 Tbsp honey
salt and pepper to taste

Place the chopped kale in a bowl.  Sprinkle a small amount of sea salt onto the kale with a tsp of olive oil and massage for a bit to tenderize the leaves.  Top with about half the dressing (reserve the rest in case you'd like extra - as my husband did!)  and toss thoroughly.  Top with the strawberries, goat cheese, and nutty granola topping (I threw in two big handfuls.)

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