Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Cucumber Cheddar Sandwiches

I've had cucumber-and-cream-cheese sandwiches before, but this recipe with cheddar intrigued me. I altered it to make toasted sandwiches, because we like those.

Sliced bread
Butter or mayonnaise (we used butter)
Sliced cheddar
Thinly sliced cucumber
Seasoning (I used lemon pepper)

Toast the bread, then let it cool. Once the bread has cooled, spread each slice with a thin layer of butter or mayonnaise. Top half of the slices with cheddar, and broil them until the cheddar is melty. Add cucumber slices on top of the cheddar, and dust the cucumbers with seasoning. Place the other slices of bread on top of the cucumbers to make sandwiches.

This was really tasty; we all liked it quite well. I thought it would be pretty good, but I was surprised by how delicious such a simple combination was. Both of my children threw fits about the other component of the meal (always a fun addition to the dinner table, right?), but we were all quite enthusiastic about the sandwiches. While he sat in front of his virtually untouched beet greens (which he has professed to love in the past), Liam was already making plans to eat the rest of his and Annika's sandwiches for lunch tomorrow (they were able to eat only part of their sandwiches, because they refused to eat the other part of the meal).

Monday, August 29, 2011

Thai Cucumber Salad

This morning, I went on a cucumber-recipe hunt, because at that moment the only use my brain could think of for cucumbers (the slicing variety) was salads. Now, of course, I remember their use in cucumber sandwiches. But I still needed more ideas. So I found this one--a combination I've tasted before in Thai restaurants.

1 c. cucumber, thinly sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 red chili pepper, finely chopped (I used a dried arbol, because that's what I had)
1 T. vinegar
2 T. sugar
1/4 t. salt
2 T. hot water

Put the cucumber, onion, and chili pepper in a bowl. Combine the other ingredients, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the marinade over the veggies and refrigerate, stirring periodically to make sure all the veggies get infused with the flavor of the marinade.

Steve thought this was really good. I thought it was pretty good, which is perhaps even higher praise than Steve's comment, because I'm not typically a fan of raw onions.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Grilled Zucchini Sandwiches

Steve came up with this variation on a portobello-sandwich recipe we found in the Penzeys Spices catalog a couple years ago. I searched and searched for the original recipe on the Penzeys site, to no avail. Anyway, we love the portobello sandwiches and have them way too often, considering the price of portobellos. Steve figured that since we have no shortage of zucchini, it grills well, and it's way cheaper than portobellos even if you have to buy it at the store, we should try using it instead. This recipe works particularly well with zucchini that is enormous. We serve the sandwiches with homemade chipotle mayo, which is spicy and divine (keep in mind that I don't like mayonnaise), but you don't have to.

I forgot to include the chipotle mayo in the photo!

Mayonnaise (about 2-4 tablespoons)
Chipotle powder, to taste (If you have trouble finding this, check the hispanic-foods section of your grocery store. It's often sold in bags hanging near the bags of peppers, rather than in jars. If you still can't find it or would rather not have to buy something new, a mixture of cayenne and chili powder will also work.)
Olive oil (we used about 1/3 to 1/2 c. for 8 large zucchini slices)
Freshly pressed garlic (a clove or two)
Parsley, to taste--either dried flakes or chopped fresh parsley (we usually use dried because it's easier and turns out fine)
Seasoned salt, to taste (watch out for the MSG-laden ones, folks!)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Large zucchini, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
Sliced crusty bread or rolls (we used asiago-cheese bread)
Cheese, sliced (we usually use pepper jack or white cheddar)

Mix together the mayonnaise and the chipotle powder. Put in the fridge to chill for a while so the chipotle flavor pervades the mayonnaise. In a shallow, wide-ish bowl, mix together the olive oil, garlic, parsley, seasoned salt, and black pepper. Dip the zucchini slices in the oil mixture, coating them well on both sides with the oil and spices. Put them on the hot grill. Once the underside of the zucchini has nice grill marks on it, flip it. At this point, put the slices of bread on the grill too. Cook the zucchini for another couple minutes. Then flip the bread slices over. Put the grilled zucchini slices on half of the bread slices (the other slices will go on top later). Place the cheese slices on top of the zucchini, and continue grilling until the cheese is melty. Then put the other bread slices on top to make sandwiches, and remove them from the grill. Serve with the chipotle mayo for dipping. Alternately, you can spread chipotle mayo on the bread after grilling.

These were yummy and well received by all. We will definitely repeat this recipe variation. If you want to make the delicious but pricey portobello version instead, increase the olive-oil mixture considerably (portobellos soak up a lot). Compost the portobello stems. Dip the portobello caps in the oil mixture, coating both sides well with all the goodies. Put the portobellos on the hot grill, underside down. Flip after 3-5 minutes. Continue as described in the above recipe. We usually use ciabatta rolls with the portobello version.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Red Flannel Hash

I actually came across this recipe back when I was searching for beet-dessert recipes. This is definitely not a dessert, but it sounded very intriguing. Apparently, it's a classic New England dish. It often has meat, but I decided to mimic this recipe, which uses eggs but no meat, because that meant I didn't have to buy a single ingredient. I also liked that this version basically cooks itself.

Neutral-tasting cooking oil (I used 1/3 c. canola)
Beets, diced (I used 4 pretty large beets)
Red potatoes, diced (I used about the same amount of potatoes as beets)
Onion, chopped fairly finely (I used half a Walla Walla Sweet Onion)
Freshly pressed garlic (I used 3 large cloves)
Fresh herb(s) of your choice, to taste (optional; I used thyme)
Coarse salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Granulated garlic/garlic powder, to taste (optional)
Seasoning, to taste (I used Old Bay Seasoning; the original recipe didn't call for seasoning, but I thought it needed some)
Fresh parsley, chopped (I used about 1/2 c. from our garden)
Eggs (I used 4)
Shredded cheese (optional)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Put the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed, oven-safe skillet. (You could probably use a baking dish instead, but I'm not sure it would cook quite the same.) Put the skillet in the preheated oven until the oil is nice and hot. Add the beets, potatoes, onion, garlic, some salt, some pepper, fresh herbs (if using), and granulated garlic (if using) to the skillet. Stir to combine and coat everything with the oil. Cook in the oven for 25 minutes. Then stir the mixture and cook it for about another 25 minutes, until the beets and potatoes are cooked through. Everything will look a little brown, crispy, and delicious. Remove the skillet from the oven. Add seasoning to taste and stir in the parsley. Make indentations in the mixture, and crack an egg into each indentation. Season the eggs with salt and pepper. Put the skillet back in the oven until the eggs are cooked to your preference. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the eggs with cheese, if desired.

This one was a winner. We all liked it quite well, and Annika had seconds. We ate it for dinner, but it would be an awesome breakfast, too. We do think it would be even better as a winter meal; it uses standard winter vegetables, and Steve did say, "I'm sweating" while eating it in our non-air conditioned house. He also said he thought it would be amazing with bacon. (Surprise, suprise. This coming from the man who once said, "If I were to die from eating something fattening, it would be bacon.") This is another dish that lends itself well to improvisation. I found so many different recipes for red flannel hash, but they were all basically beets, potatoes, and onions with other stuff; you just choose what the other stuff is. You could even abandon the red-flannel idea--skipping the beets and just using just potatoes and other stuff (e.g., sausage, peppers, cheese, other fresh herbs), or you could substitute sweet potatoes. However you make it, enjoy!

Friday, August 26, 2011

CSA, Week 13

Here's what was in this week's share:

Carrots (check out those carrot greens!)
Kohlrabi (We traded in our summer squash, since we have almost more than we can handle with our two zucchini plants--we've already made literally 14 loaves of zucchini bread!)
Pole Beans
Red Onion
Yukon Gold Potatoes

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Carrot Top and Quinoa Soup

When I was on my quest to find carrot-top recipes, I found this one. I thought I'd try it tonight. I made some changes to the original recipe. It could easily be vegan if you wanted it to be.

Olive oil (a tablespoon or so)
1/2 onion, chopped (I used a sweet onion, but I don't think that's absolutely necessary. You also could use an entire onion if you like, rather than just half.)
4 medium carrots (I actually used 7 smallish ones), chopped into rounds
6 c. beef, chicken, or vegetable stock (I made mine right in the soup pot with everything, using Better Than Bouillon organic beef base)
1/2 c. quinoa, rinsed
Carrot tops from the bunch of carrots, chopped
Salt (to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
Grated Parmesan (optional)

Sauté the onion in the olive oil until translucent. Dump in the carrots, stock, and quinoa. Stir. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Add the carrot tops and simmer for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle servings with Parmesan if desired.

This is one of those meals that could very well become a regular visitor to our table, because it's quick, easy, healthy, cheap, and tasty. It also lends itself quite well to improvisation. You could add meat, other veggies, rice instead of quinoa, etc., and it would be delicious. I did have to adjust the original recipe, though (changes are reflected in the recipe above). When I first made the soup, it was really thick (as I had suspected it might be). I knew I could make it go farther and behave more like a soup by adding more liquid, so I increased the broth amount from 1 quart to 6 cups. I also think it would have been even better if I had added the carrot tops toward the end of the cooking process (as I did with the Tuscan Carrot Top and Rice Soup), instead of adding them with the carrots (as the original recipe suggested). I also increased the total cooking time by five minutes, because I wanted the carrots to be slightly more tender.

Friday, August 19, 2011

CSA, Week 12

Our share this week:

Oops! I forgot to include these in the photo:

Berries (choice of blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, raspberries, or strawberries; we chose raspberries and blackberries)
Green Beans

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Grilled Summer Squash

We love grilled zucchini. We usually cut it into long spears, but we decided to try a different method this time--let's call it the slab method. We were grilling one zucchini and one UFO-shaped yellow summer squash.

Zucchini/summer squash
Olive oil
Seasoning (we used Old Bay Seasoning)

Slice the squash lengthwise into long, quarter-inch-thick slabs. Put them in a dish, drizzle with olive oil, and toss to coat. Put the slices on the grill and sprinkle with seasoning. Grill the squash slices for about 4 minutes. Then flip them over, sprinkle the other side with seasoning, and grill for another 4 minutes or so--until they are very flexible and have nice grill marks but aren't charred.

These were very tasty, as expected. We'd never tried Old Bay Seasoning on them before, but it was an excellent pairing.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Greek-Caprese Fusion Salad . . .

. . . is just a fancy way of saying I added basil instead of oregano or some other Greek spice mixture. We have lots of basil, so that's what I used.

Cucumber, chopped
Tomatoes, chopped
Onion, coarsely chopped (I didn't include this, because I'm not a big fan of raw onion)

Basil, torn (that's what I used, but I suggest oregano or a Greek spice mixture instead)
Crumbled feta
Kalamata olives
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

Combine the fresh veggies with the feta, olives, and any seasonings. Add olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste, and toss to coat.

This was good--the tomatoes in particular were amazing once again--but Steve and I both agreed that the basil was distracting and the salad would probably be better with standard Greek-salad herbs.

Tuna Melts with Capers and Basil

This is another twist on the classic tuna melt.

Mustard (to taste)
Mayonnaise (to taste)
Capers (to taste)
Basil, torn (to taste)
Cheese, sliced or shredded (we used pepper jack)

Toast the bread. (This step is key to a good tuna melt, in my opinion.)

If you like your tuna to be smooth and creamy:
Combine the tuna, mustard, and mayo. Blend together using a food processor or an immersible blender. Then stir in the capers and basil.

If you like some chunkiness in your tuna:
Combine about 2/3 of the tuna with the mustard and mayo. Blend together using a food processor or an immersible blender. Then stir in the remaining tuna, the capers, and the basil.

If you like very chunky tuna:
Mix the tuna, mustard, mayo, capers, and basil together.

Spread the tuna mixture on the toasted bread. Top with cheese and broil until the cheese is bubbly and a bit brown.

Tasty. Definitely repeatable. Tuna melts are another meal that lends itself very well to variations. Add feta, pickles, hot sauce, or something else that strikes your fancy, and you've got a delicious new twist on a classic.

Friday, August 12, 2011

CSA, Week 11

In this week's share:

Berries (choice of raspberries, strawberries, and boysenberries; we chose rasp and boysen)
Bok Choy
Cucumber (slicing)
Dry WWS Onion (see here for an explanation of the name)
Herb Choice (There was a choice of basil, chives, cilantro, or parsley. By the time we got there [relatively late in the day, as usual], there was only basil left, and we already have that growing in our greenhouse. But it's just as well, because we already have the other three growing too.)
Lettuce (such pretty lettuce this week!)
New Red Potatoes
Summer Squash (2 kinds)

Potato Purslane Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing

This recipe marks the fifth purslane dish I've made. Oh, wait. It marks the fifth purslane dish I've made this week. We had a big ol' bunch of purslane, and it went a long way.

6 small red potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
2 c. purslane, chopped
4 scallions/green onions, chopped, or an equivalent amount of chives, chopped (I used chives, because we have them growing in our yard)
Capers (optional)
Crumbled feta cheese (optional)
Lemon juice (a couple tablespoons--to taste)
Red wine vinegar (a couple tablespoons--to taste)
Freshly pressed garlic (a clove or two)
1 t. (or so) ground mustard
1/2 t. (or so) dried tarragon
Salt (to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
1/2 c. (or so) olive oil

Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil and boil until the potatoes are just tender. To check for tenderness, pierce the largest part of the largest potato with a sharp knife. If the knife slides in fairly easily, the potatoes are ready. But don't wait until the potatoes break apart when you pierce them! Ours took about 10 minutes to cook. Once the potatoes are ready, put the saucepan (with the potatoes) in the sink and run cold water into it until the water stays cold. Once the potatoes have cooled, chop them into bite-sized pieces. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes with the purslane, scallions/chives, capers (if using), and feta (if using). In a smallish bowl, mix together the lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, mustard, tarragon, salt, and pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Pour about half of the vinaigrette over the potatoes mixture, and toss to coat. Taste, and add more vinaigrette if desired. Chill the potato salad in the fridge until ready to serve. Add more vinaigrette at that point if needed.

This was a yummy potato salad. Definitely repeatable. We didn't use capers or feta in ours, because I didn't even think about it, but in retrospect, it would've been tasty. There are lots of different variations on the basic bones of this potato salad that would be good.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Steamed Artichokes with Creamy Butter Dip

I was excited to see artichokes in our CSA share this week. There were four little ones, which is perfect for our family. Although I've had steamed artichokes many times, I've never been the one to cook them before, so I had to look up how to prepare them. Then I had to share what I learned with you. I found the dip recipe here.

1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 T. (or so) lemon juice
Ground cayenne (just a dash; optional)

Rinse the artichokes, scrubbing gently. Using a serrated knife, trim about 1/2 to 1 inch off of the top and about 1/2 inch off of the stem of each artichoke. You might be tempted to cut off the entire stem so that the artichoke will sit up nicely on a plate, but the stem is part of the artichoke heart (the best part!), so you'll be missing out if you do. If you want to help prevent the trimmed ends from browning, rub a little lemon juice on them. Put an inch or two of water in a large pot. Put a steamer basket/steamer insert into the pot, making sure the water is below the level of the steamer. Put the artichokes into the steamer, stem side up, and cover the pot. Bring the water to a boil, and steam the artichokes until tender. To check for tenderness, pierce the base of one of the steamed artichokes with a sharp knife. If the knife slides through easily, the artichokes are ready to eat. Our small artichokes took 15 minutes to cook.

When you're ready to eat, mix the butter, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and cayenne.

Pull off an artichoke petal, dip the fleshy end of it in the butter/mayo dip, and scrape off the flesh with your teeth. Compost the rest of the petal. Once all the petals are gone, you'll be faced with a somewhat scary looking fuzzy part in the center of the base (unless your artichokes are baby ones like ours were, in which case there won't be much fuzz). Scoop out the fuzz (a.k.a. the choke), if present. What's left is the artichoke heart. Devour it.

These were good. The outer petals were tough and had no flesh to scrape off; we actually had to pull off a lot of petals before we got to edible ones. But once we got there, they were tender and tasty. The dip was incredible.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Beet Pie with Sweet Yogurt Topping

A while back, my friend Jessica at OlyMomma tasked me with finding a beet recipe for her anti-beet (though pro-beet green) family. I think she suggested beet cake. No, Jess, I didn't forget! I found beet cupcakes, caramelized beet topping for ice cream, chocolate beet cake, and more. But this recipe particularly intrigued me. I liked that the results were still beet colored and the recipe used mostly what I already had on hand. I did change some things from the original recipe to make the results hopefully more appealing to my anti-beet friends.

Not the best picture, but this was the only way I could get the deep red color to show up.
All the other photos made the pie look black. Yum yum.

Ingredients for the pie:
1 lb. (or so) beets
1/2 T. (or so) lemon juice
1 egg
2 T. heavy cream
1 t. vanilla
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
4 T. flour (I, like the recipe's creator, used whole wheat)
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ground or freshly grated nutmeg
Store-bought graham cracker crust (I cheated and didn't make the hazelnut pie crust that the original baker used, but you can!)

For the yogurt topping:
1/2 c. Greek yogurt (plain)
1/2 c. powdered (confectioner's) sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

I didn't peel the beets, and you don't have to either. Just scrub them really well. Remove any stem remnants from the tops of your beets, remove roots, and compost stems and roots. Chop the beets into 1/2-inch dice. Spread the chopped beets on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (foil would probably work just fine too). Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven, but leave the oven on.

After I took the beets off the parchment, I was left with a work of art that begged to be photographed.

Purée the cooked beets with the lemon juice, egg, heavy cream, and vanilla. Purée just until beets aren't chunky anymore; don't overpurée. The resulting mush won't be totally smooth. I used an immersible blender for the puréeing, and it worked, but a food processor would probably be easier. We don't have one.

Combine the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add the beet purée and mix well. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pie crust, smooth it out, and bake it for 30 minutes. Remove the pie. Turn up the oven to 400 degrees F, cover the pie with foil, and bake it for 10 more minutes. Remove and cool, covered, for 30 minutes. Uncover and cool for another 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix together the yogurt and powdered sugar until smooth.

Serve slices of pie with dollops of yogurt topping.

This was delicious, and we all devoured it. Liam put half of his slice in his mouth all at once, and Annika picked hers up and stuffed it in her face. The yogurt topping was the crowning glory of it all. Even though we all loved it, Steve and I felt that the pie could use a bit more sweetness--particularly if it wasn't absolutely drenched in yogurt topping. So I added some more brown sugar to the recipe (we used only 1/2 c. in our version). You gonna try it, Jessica?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Purslane, Cucumber, and Yogurt Salad

This is another recipe that came along with our CSA share this week.

1 large cucumber
1 c. (or so) chopped purslane
Chopped mint (about 1 T.)
Chopped cilantro (about 1 T.)
1 c. Greek yogurt (plain)
Olive oil (a tablespoon or two)
Freshly pressed garlic (a clove or two)
1/2 t. (or so) ground coriander seed
Salt (to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Peel and halve the cucumber lengthwise. Using a spoon, scrape the seeds out of each half. Compost the seeds. Cut each cucumber slab lengthwise into two to four strips, depending on how big you want your cucumber pieces. Then chop the strips. Combine the cucumber, purslane, mint, and cilantro in a bowl. In another bowl, combine the yogurt, olive oil, garlic, and coriander. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the yogurt mixture to the veggies and mix well. Taste again, and add more salt if desired. Serve chilled.

I liked this; it was fresh and summery. Steve thought it was decent but wasn't absolutely sold on it. Liam ate his, and Annika ate a couple bites before refusing the rest.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Pan-Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower with Hazelnuts

Here's another recipe from The News Tribune. I have no idea why it was in an article with the title "Time to get out and grill your dinner," because it has nothing to do with the grill. I thought I'd try it anyway, but I did change the recipe in some ways: I decided to steam the veggies rather than boiling them, because steaming preserves more of their nutrients. I also used chopped hazelnuts with skins, even though the recipe called for lightly crushed blanched hazelnuts. I couldn't find whole blanched hazelnuts, and even if I had found whole unblanched hazelnuts (which I didn't), I didn't want to do the work of blanching them myself. So chopped, unblanched hazelnuts it was. I also think I--gasp--fell victim to the error of not reading directions closely enough. That truly is rather remarkable for me. I have many faults, but not reading directions is not typically one of them. Anyway, apparently I was supposed to use the broccoli stalk, too. Oops. But I really couldn't have done that anyway, because this week's CSA broccoli did not come in a big bunch but rather in florets.

Broccoli (about 1 1/2 lbs.)
Cauliflower (about 1 1/2 lbs.)
2 T. or so vegetable oil (I used canola)
2 T. or so butter
1/2 c. chopped hazelnuts
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Note: You can steam the veggies ahead of time and then store them in the fridge until you're ready to continue with the recipe. Just make sure you let them come to room temperature before proceeding.

Cut off the top 1 1/2 inches of broccoli florets. You want pieces that are reasonably bite-sized, so cut larger florets into smaller chunks if needed. If your broccoli has a big stalk attached to it, trim off the end and compost the end. Chop the remaining stalk into bite-sized pieces (peel the stalk before chopping if the broccoli isn't fresh). Remove the cauliflower leaves and compost them. Chop off the bottom inch or so of the cauliflower stem and compost it. Cut the cauliflower head in half, then break it apart into florets. Cut florets if needed. Rinse the veggies. Then put an inch or so of water into a big pot and bring to a boil. Put the veggies into a steamer basket/steamer insert, put that into the pot (make sure the steamer sits above the level of the boiling water), cover the pot, and steam the veggies for about 5 minutes or until just tender. Transfer the veggies to a large bowl of ice water to chill. Continue to soak, changing the water as needed, until the veggies are cold. Drain them, then put them in a colander over a bowl to continue draining for a while. When they're well drained and at room temperature, you're ready to move on. Put the oil and butter into a large skillet, then put the skillet on a burner over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add the hazelnuts and "sauté until you begin to smell them and they just begin to turn golden." Add the veggies and turn the burner to high. Let them cook for a while, stirring seldom. You want the veggies to sit undisturbed on the heat for a while so they brown a bit. When the veggies are hot and somewhat browned, remove them from the skillet. Add salt and pepper to taste.

I did the steaming part of this recipe, and Steve did the pan-roasting and photo. Our verdict on the dish: It was okay . . . but not repeatable. The end result was more interesting tastewise than simple steamed broccoli and cauliflower would've been, but not much more interesting. The hazelnuts did add some crunch and flavor, but the increased time and effort of pan-roasting was not worth the payoff.

Purslane with Tomatoes and Rice

We got this recipe with our CSA share this week. Apparently, it's Turkish.

1/4 c. brown rice (I used basmati)
1 small onion, chopped
Olive oil (a couple tablespoons)
1 c. purslane, chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 tomatoes, chopped, or a 14-oz. can of diced tomatoes
Freshly ground black pepper
1 c. hot water

Put the rice in a small saucepan and cover generously with water. Put on stove over low heat. Once water is hot, start timer. The rice should soak in the hot (but not boiling) water for about 20 minutes. Drain and rinse the rice. Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the onion and sauté until soft. Add the purslane, tomatoes, and drained rice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. Add the 1 c. of hot water and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer, and cover the skillet with a lid. Simmer for about 10 minutes, then uncover and simmer for another 10 minutes or until rice is cooked and liquid is pretty well absorbed. Add more salt if desired. Serve hot or cold.

This was tasty. After making it, I did change the recipe, because I thought the result was just a bit more liquidy than it should've been. So instead of simmering the food covered for the whole 20 minutes, I think it's a better idea to uncover it for the final 10 minutes. The change is reflected above.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Salads with Purslane

Now that I know what purslane looks like, I see it growing everywhere. Seriously. Yesterday, Liam and I went to Tolmie State Park, and I saw it growing in patches on the rocky shoreline. So, this is what it looks like:

Now you'll see it growing everywhere--possibly including in your own yard. If you see it growing there, feel free to treat it like a weed and pull it, but don't stop there--eat it! (As long as you're sure it's purslane, of course! I don't want lawsuits.) Purslane has a slightly lemony flavor, and it's extremely nutritionally dense.

We made two salads with purslane the last couple days. The first was a simple combination of lettuce, purslane, and chive blossoms:

Dumb seemingly unresolvable photo-rotation issues!

The second was a Greek-ish mix of tomatoes, feta, purslane, and lettuce:

Both salads were good. The second was, not surprisingly, the better of the two. Almost anything with feta is good. More purslane recipes will follow.

Berry Crisp

This is a composite recipe; I took ideas from several different people, and this is what I came up with. Berry-wise, I used raspberries, marionberries, blueberries, and strawberries. But you could use pretty much any combination of berries--or even peaches.

6 or more cups fresh berries (frozen if necessary)
4 tablespoons white sugar (you could probably omit this if you wanted)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup butter
Chopped pecans (optional)
Cinnamon sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Put the butter in a 9x13-inch baking dish, then put the dish in the preheating oven until the butter is melted. In a large bowl, gently combine the berries and white sugar; set aside. In a separate large bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pecans (if using). Add melted butter and stir until well distributed. Press half of oat mixture in the bottom of a 9x13-inch dish. Cover with berries. Sprinkle remaining oat mixture over the berries. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the top, if desired. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until fruit is bubbly and topping is golden brown.

This is delicious. The only thing Steve suggested was more fruit, which is interesting due to the fact that he's a recovering no-desserts-with-fruit person. I used 5 cups of berries in the crisp, but I've edited the recipe to suggest 6 cups or more. Go wild.

Friday, August 5, 2011

CSA, Week 10

In this week's share:

Cucumber (slicing)
Green Beans
Choice of Shelling Peas or Sugar Snap Peas (we chose sugar snap)
Choice of Broccoli or Cauliflower (we chose broccoli)
Choice of Artichokes or Chard (we chose artichokes)
Choice of Strawberries or Raspberries x2 (we chose strawberries--largely because we have a ton of leftover raspberries, marionberries, and blueberries from jam-making today)

I was excited to see some newcomers to the share this week--namely cucumber, purslane, and artichokes. I was particularly excited about purslane, because I've heard about its remarkable nutritional value, weedlike growing habits, and tastiness, but I've never actually seen it before (at least not knowingly).

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Zucchini Bread

I don't remember exactly where we got this recipe, but it came in very handy during our Great Zucchini Summer of 2009. Last year--alas--slugs ate our fledgling zucchini plants before they had even reached adolescence, but this year we're back in business!

2 c. raw zucchini, shredded
3 eggs
1 3/4 c. sugar
1 c. oil
2 c. flour (I usually use whole-wheat, but you could make the recipe even less healthy by using all-purpose!)
1/4 t. baking powder
2 t. baking soda
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. salt
2 t. vanilla
1 c. nuts, chopped (optional)

Put zucchini in a strainer or colander and press/squeeze with hands to get excess liquid out. Beat together eggs, sugar, and oil. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, vanilla, and nuts (if using). Mix together. Add zucchini (minus liquid). Beat mixture. Pour into 2 greased and floured loaf pans. Bake 45 min. at 350 degrees F. Let bread cool in loaf pans for a while, then remove it and transfer to a cooling rack or plate. Recipe may be doubled if, for some reason, you happen to have four loaf pans on hand.

This is so tasty. You should make it right now.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Grilled ¿Sweet-Potato? Salad

This recipe comes from The News Tribune. It sounded tasty enough that I worked it into our weekly meal plan ahead of time. I know there are people who love sweet potatoes, and there are others who love yams, and supposedly never the twain shall meet. Well, the fact is that oftentimes people think something is a yam when it's actually a variety of sweet potato that's more orange than some other varieties. A true yam is a different veggie altogether. I'm not sure if I've ever tasted real yams. Hmmmmm. That's one of life's deep mysteries. At any rate, I tend to prefer the softer, moister, more orange tuber--be it yam or sweet potato. So that's what I used to make this.

2 lb. sweet potatoes/yams (oh, whatever, you purists!), peeled and sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slabs
Canola oil or other neutral-tasting cooking oil (a couple tablespoons)
Coarse salt, to taste
Scallions (2 bunches) or chives (enough to equal about 2 bunches of scallions), washed and trimmed at both ends
Cilantro, finely chopped (a couple tablespoons)
Butter (a couple tablespoons)
Lime juice (a couple tablespoons)
Ground cumin (1 t. or so)

Heat or light your grill. You want it to be on medium heat, if you have that option with your grill. While the grill is heating, toss the sweet-potato slabs with some oil. Add salt to taste. Oil and salt the scallions/chives, too, keeping them in a loose bunch. Put the scallions/chives on the grill in a bunch (perpendicular to slats). Cook, turning once, until they're softened and lightly charred in places (about 5 min.; a bit less for chives than for scallions). Remove from grill. Place sweet potatoes on grill and cook, turning once, until they have nice grill marks on both sides and are cooked all the way through (6-8 min.). Remove from grill. Coarsely chop the scallions/chives. Chop the sweet potatoes into bite-size pieces while still hot. Put the chives and hot sweet potatoes in a large bowl. Add the cilantro, butter, lime juice, and cumin. Toss to coat. Add more salt to taste, if desired.

The flavor combination of this dish was very good. It's definitely repeatable. We sliced our sweet potatoes into rounds, which made for a pretty presentation but a lot of work at the grill. Placing about a hundred sweet-potato pieces on the grill, then flipping them, then removing them makes for a long project. Slicing them lengthwise would mean a much quicker grilling process, though perhaps a slightly less attractive presentation. But it would be worth it. I've adjusted the recipe accordingly.

Caprese-esque Salad

This isn't a full-fledged caprese salad. But when I looked at our beautiful Pigman's tomatoes, I couldn't think of a better way to eat them than this way--despite the fact that we had no fresh mozzarella.

Tomatoes, coarsely chopped
Fresh basil, torn (we used some from our garden)
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Coarse salt, to taste (optional)

Combine all ingredients except salt. Taste, then add salt if desired. (I thought it was great without salt; Steve thought it was even better with salt.)

This was so fresh-tasting and delicious. I've never been a huge tomato fan . . . until I started eating real tomatoes. If you've had them, you know what I mean. There's just no comparison.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Spinach Sautéed with Butter and Lemon

Up until now, I've always sautéed spinach in olive oil. I decided to try butter this time. I also decided to try tearing the spinach into somewhat smaller pieces to make it easier for Liam and Annika to eat.

Spinach leaves, torn
Butter (a couple tablespoons)
Lemon juice (a tablespoon or so)
Coarse salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Melt the butter in a large skillet or biggish pot over medium heat. Add the spinach, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Cook until spinach is just wilted.

This was tasty. Steve liked it especially well.