Feeling-Sorry-for-the-Radish Pickle

Radish Pickles

IMG_1430

I really never thought I’d like radishes that much let alone develop enough empathy to actually feel sorry for them. I tend towards narcissism when it comes to the spicy little nuggets – I could care less if they come or go.  Today however, between raindrops in the garden, I saw little rosy butts literally jumping out of their snug beds with cracking skins exposing a crisp white chasm of flesh. Oh! It was so sad. I realized this travesty was a direct result of too much water. The spicy buggers were water-logged! I couldn’t help but imagine how they must feel – so fat and tight in their pants! Really, it was quite a shock! I first noticed this odd behavior after Saturday’s storm with five inches of rain. In fact, some were literally toppled over in the garden as if clawing their way out of a freshly dug grave. They were nearly able to escaped the deluge. I thought perhaps the lighting caused this unique experience, but it was today when their skins started to pop that I realized they were just too full to take any more.

So, I saved them and turned them into pickles! I never made radish pickles before (well, actually, I made some yesterday, too, so I knew I would like them – delicious!) so I wasn’t sure how I would like them prepped – sliced, wedged or whole. I decided to make all three. How do you prefer your radish pickle?

I’m not leaving the recipe here, but you can ask Mr. Google if you don’t know how to can, and the brine recipe can be found here.

Vitamin Supplement Number Two – Beety Tweety Bird Nests

Last week when I went for groceries, the goal was to make the cart look like a CSA box. Midwinter legumes, grains and soups have been great, but this time of year you may feel your body craves the vitamins from more rainbow-colored foods. At the grocery two things particularly caught my attention: beets and greens. I bought four hefty deep purple roasters as well as mounds of kale and swiss chard. Last week’s Beet Sweet and Kale Soup was so satisfying, I’m loving the look of the ruby-red long grated strands, so having two of the beets already roasted in the fridge made this warm salad really easy to make. I filled the nests with a Greek yogurt seasoned with salt, pepper and a bit of minced ginger, but can imagine them stuffed with sautéed mushrooms and goat cheese, humus, or just shaved pieces of Pecorino Romano.

This will make approximately two dozen nests depending on how large the beets. The beets I had were big ones – about four inches in diameter!

Ingredients:

  • 2 large beets roasted then grated
  • 1 inch chunk fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbs. minced red onion
  • salt/pepper
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1/2 cup semolina flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

Directions: Preheat oven 425 degrees.

Mix all ingredients and spoon into greased muffin tins. Use the back of a spoon to form an indentation in each mound of beets. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove the nests immediately from the muffin tins or they may stick.

Garam Masala Vegan Dip

Living the vegan lifestyle is a concept that I both accept and deny. I love vegetables and cannot imagine eating animal flesh, yet when in comes to the satisfying creaminess of cheese, ice cream and other dairy products, the thought of giving them up, causes my head to involuntarily shake out a most-emphatic, “NO!”

I’ve found with a pizza oven in the back yard, dairy product consumption is at an all-time high around our house, and has given me a little pause. And although we’re still topping our little wood-fired babies with fresh mozzarella, Pecorino Romano, and Gorgonzola, I’ve begun to wonder about vegan alternatives to cheese.

I’m not yet ready to take the dive, but thought I would start experimenting with vegan cream sauces. This recipe has as it’s base walnuts, olive oil and tahini and when mixed with a little soymilk, turned white and creamy and sweet. I was surprised by how sweet my plain soymilk made the dip, so to make it savory for the cucumber sticks, I added garlic, white wine vinegar and Garam Masala. As you can see I served it with vegetables, but it’s very satisfying spread on crackers as well. I might try it another time, sans savories, as the cream filling for a chilled fruit tart.

Ingredients:

Sweet:

  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup plain soymilk

Savories to add to Sweet:

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Garam Masala

Directions: Mix all ingredients together in a food processor until smooth and creamy. Add more or less soymilk depending on how thick you want the dip.

 

Baked (or not) Veggie Dip

Effortlessness is taken for granted. In the skills we have, we forget how it came to be that we do them effortless-ly. We forget that first we loved something and wanted to do it all the time, and then repeatedly put ourselves into a position where continued practice became a part of life.

Cooking is for me a skill that is mostly effortless, and every now and then I am reminded of where I started. My neighbor told me a funny story the other day about trying to get her husband to cook occasionally. He agreed to cook, thought it was a cool idea, and then, throughout the actual cooking process proceeded to ask questions like, “Is this the measuring cup you use? How much salt should I add? Is this the pan you would use?” She had to point out that if he was going to ask all those questions and need constant guidance, it was really like she was cooking anyway. She had been hoping that he would be able to take on the task and only call for her when dinner arrived on the table. We all had to go through the process of learning how much salt and which pan would work best, but when the skill becomes effortless, we forget.

Recently, I had the opportunity to watch a cook who makes it look effortless. Another neighbor, and CSA sharer, Courtney, whipped up some game snacks for a World Cup game a few days ago, and her work was impressive. She knew exactly where everything was, she had a plan, and her work was done efficiently. I never once pained while watching her, and in fact, marveled at her plan and technique.

Her brilliant and simple idea was to make a baked veggie dip using kale, spinach and broccoli from our CSA box. I riffed on her idea and spiced it up just a bit with some jalapeno. If you choose to bake it, do it quickly as the greens will brown under heat. I heated the one above under the broiler for just a few minutes which seemed to work well.

Baked Veggie Dip

  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small bunch “adolescent” kale, chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 small head broccoli, chopped
  • 1 fresh jalapeno
  • 1 small bunch fresh basil
  • 2 0z. cream cheese
  • 1 cup Pecorino Romano
  • 1 cup white cheese (provolone, mozzarella, cheddar)
  • Dash salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • splash of milk

Directions:

Saute garlic for a minute in hot olive oil, add broccoli, kale and spinach. Cook until veggies are bright green and wilted.

Cut the hard cheeses into small chunks and run through the food processor, or grate them if you don’t have a processor. Add the cream cheese, jalapeno, basil, salt and pepper and the sautéed veggies. Pulse the processor until everything starts to pull together. Add the milk through the feed tube until the dip is creamy.

Put the dip into a small baking dish or ramekin. Bake for a few minutes right under the broiler until bubbly and beginning to brown.

Garlic Scape Saute on Toast

I have found that the CSA veggies this time of year lend themselves well to stir-fries and sautes. The fresh greens can be sauteed with garlic and rolled into an omelet, they can be sauced with ginger, garlic and lemon and thrown in with pasta, or simmered with a lovely coconut curry to top a bowl of rice. Today’s rendition landed on toast triangles as a late summer afternoon appetizer.

Leftover prepped veggies from a batch of Farm Fresh Spring Rolls made earlier in the week made this snack super easy to prepare, and the garlic scapes and spring onions gave it lots of flavor. To really give it a flavor boost, we served the appetizers topped with my neighbor’s (and CSA sharer) scape pesto. I asked her for the recipe to print here, and her lovely handwriting along with a returned plate and a few fresh strawberries made the most beautiful still life. Enjoy!

Garlic Scape Saute on Toast

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • garlic scapes, sliced long and thin
  • green onions, cut into thin, long sections
  • kohlrabi, julienned
  • Swiss chard, sliced into long ribbons
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large saute pan on high heat. Add the veggies and saute until they are wilted and beginning to brown. Add salt and pepper.

Serve on triangle toast with crusts removed and top with a dab of pesto.

Molly Moon Antipasto

In Reader’s Workshop, we teach students to make connections to text as a way to increase comprehension and build knowledge. Good readers always do this, and rarely think about the fact that it’s happening. A section or event in a book might cause the reader to make personal connections to something in their life, they might make connections to something in the world that is similar to events or ideas in the book, or they might make connections to other books. Making connections happens all the time. In fact, most of us travel through the intellectual endeavors in our lives constantly making connections to what we have experienced or already know. This is the way our knowledge and understanding grows.

Take me for example, when I sliced these lovely beets this morning, I was reminded of a book that Max and I read last year. The book is called Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism by Georgia Byng. It’s about a homely orphan girl growing up in England who happens across a book that teaches her to use hypnotism. She discovers that she is a very powerful hypnotist who is able to change the people around her and uses her new powers to have amazing adventures. She travels to New York, stars in a Broadway play, and eventually finds herself being chased by an evil villain who wants to use Molly’s power in order to rob a bank. The front cover of the book shows Molly’s dog, Petula, a bug-eyed pug with spiral hypnotized eyeballs that look just like these beets! A connection.

Molly Moon Antipasto:

  • 6 medium striped beets
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. maple syrup
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 handful mint, chiffonade

Directions:

Roast the beats at 375 degrees for 45 minutes, or until you can pierce them with a fork. Let them cool and then peel the skin off. Slice the beats into rings. Mix the marinade, pour over the beets and let them sit for 4-6 hours. To serve, place the beets on a serving platter and top with mint.

Marinated Mushroom and Grape Tomato Antipasto

I live with two people who HATE mushrooms and fresh tomatoes, so I thought I’d prepare these two items in their own dish since I like them so much, and that way the boys won’t have to pick them out. My lucky day!

Marinated Mushroom and Grape Tomato Antipasto:

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil to saute
  • 1 pound fresh button or baby portobellos
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil to finish
  • 12 oz. grape tomatoes
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

Heat the saute pan until it is very hot. Add the olive oil and let it heat. Drop in the mushrooms and stir around in the oil. Add a little salt and pepper and let the mushrooms cook on high heat until they are nicely browned. This will take just a couple minutes of cooking. When they have turned a nice golden brown, add the garlic and stir into the oil quickly and then pour in the vinegar. Let the vinegar boil and evaporate for a minute and turn off the heat. Add extra olive oil to finish and mix in the grape tomatoes. Toss it all together and remove from the pan to cool to room temperature.

Lemony Vegetable Antipasto

Dinner tonight with friends will be risotto, so to follow with the Italian theme, I have put together a lightweight antipasto dish to serve with freshly baked pita chips. This lemony delight is vegan, chock full of vitamins and supports the Mediterranean diet. In other words, I am trying to lower the carb load and saturated fats, because I’m takin’ in too many! This would also be a great appetizer for the Superbowl party! You can play, “Hide the Vitamin” while everyone else watches the game!

Lemony Vegetable Antipasto:

  • 1 red pepper, flame roasted
  • 1/2 roasted cauliflower
  • 1 can whole artichoke hearts
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 handful fresh basil, chiffonade
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions: To prepare the cauliflower, steam it for a few minutes just until it begins to get tender. Then place it in a baking dish with a drizzle of olive oil over the top, and roast it at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes. It will be easy to pierce with a fork when it’s done.

While the cauliflower roasts, cut the red peppers in half. Using tongs, hold the pepper halves over the stove flame to blister. If you aren’t interested in this method, the peppers can be easily roasted with the cauliflower, but for less time. Roast them until they are just tender.

Once the veggies are tender, pulse each separately to chop. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, add extra olive oil if you like, and taste for salt preference. Serve with crostini, crusty bread or pita chips.

Dinosaur Chips

DSCN2477

The other day one of my neighbors and I were comparing CSA stories. In sharing with me some of her experiences with veggies she doesn’t normally buy like romanesco, fennel and kale, she mentioned having made kale chips. She said she tossed them with a little olive oil and salt and baked them until they started to brown. She also mentioned that she tried them at the co-op once where they had been tossed in vinegar before baked. A better way to go, she thought.

So, I tried it. Dinosaur kale, deveined, tossed in a little olive oil, sage leaves, salt, crushed red pepper and a dash of vinegar. Bake in a single layer on a cookie sheet at 375 degrees just until they start to brown on the edges (about seven minutes). Very nutty, very crunchy, very lizard-looking snack.

DSCN2482

Bruschetta

DSCN2470

(Sing the following words to the tune of “Goin’ to the Chapel”)

Goin’ to a party and we’re gonna bring brusche-e-eta, goin’ to a party and we’re gonna bring brusche-e-eta, goin’ to a party for fun!

Catchy, isn’t it? I had that song rolling through my head the entire evening. Why? I have no idea. I started to prepare the bruschetta for a little neighborhood gathering, and those words and that tune popped into my brain and wouldn’t leave! It’s crazy. Going to the Chapel wasn’t playing on The Current on the way home from work. It just spontaneously combusted! As did the recipe, for this little lively easy-as-pie Friday night treat. The tomatoes, garlic and basil were the only things left from last week’s CSA. Thanks Foxtail Farm!

Fresh Tomato Bruschetta – Recipe

Ingredients:

Tomato Mixture:

  • 6-8 medium tomatoes
  • 1 large handful fresh basil leaves
  • 2 – 4 cloves garlic (I used 2 VERY large cloves)
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Tbs. raspberry balsamic vinegar

The Bread:

  • Italian peasant or baguette sliced 1/2 inch
  • Oil to brush-coat each side of bread
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt

Directions:

1) Begin by making the toasted bread. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. I needed two large cookie sheets for one large loaf of Italian peasant bread.

2) In a food processor, mince the garlic. Place it in a bowl and cover generously with olive oil.

3) Brush the garlic infused oil onto both sides of the bread. Place the bread on the baking sheets.

4) Sprinkle the bread lightly with a little bit of salt before baking. Bake until the bread starts to brown.

5) Next, make the tomato mixture. Place the leftover garlic and oil mixture into the food processor.

6) Cut the tomatoes into pieces so they don’t need too much processing.

7) Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and pulse as few times as possible. You want the tomatoes to still be chunky.

8) Strain the excess liquid off the tomatoes by placing it in a mesh colander over a bowl. (If there is a smiley face where the eight should be, I have no idea why it is there – some strange thing having to do with WordPress?)

9) Serve with good wine, of course!

Thanks, neighbors for the home tours and the great community building!

DSCN2474

Zucchini Fritters

IMG_3130

Courtney's Potato and Corn Herbed Fritter

My darling neighbor, Courtney, has inspired me. Instead of borrowing a cup or sugar or a stick of butter, she shares her culinary creations, and this lady can cook! I’ve returned the favor and had her taste a few of my concoctions as well. Yesterday she came to return a plate and had filled it with potato and corn herbed fritters with just a little zing of hot pepper. They were delicious. My first thought was, Thank God for ambitious cooks – I love having them for neighbors! My second thought was, I could make zucchini fritters!

Again, my goal is to rid the fridge of all CSA veggies before Thursday. This Indian curried version of the zucchini fritter has local, organic zucchini, onions and eggs. I served it with Tzatziki made with CSA cucumbers and mint from my garden. Serious fantastic fusion of flavors!

IMG_3142

Ingredients:

3 medium zucchini, grated

2 small onions, grated

salt to sprinkle

5 cloves garlic

1/2 cup walnuts

1/3 cup flour

2 eggs, beaten

3 cups bread crumbs

2 tsp. canola oil

1 tsp. curry powder

1/2 tsp. brown mustard seed

1/4 tsp. asefetida

1/2 tsp. garam masala

Directions:

1. Grate the zucchini and onions. Sprinkle with salt and mix. Place them in a cheese cloth or towel over a colander. Let the vegetables sit while you prep the other things. Later you will squeeze out the liquid.

2. Use a food processor to chop the garlic and walnuts. Dump these into a large mixing bowl and add the flour.

3. Heat the canola oil in a pan. You will place all the spices in hot oil and cook until the mustard seed begins to pop. Dump all spices and oil into you mixing bowl with walnuts, garlic and flour. Mix all together.

4. In a separate bowl beat two eggs. Then add them to the other ingredients.

5. Squeeze water from zucchini and onions and add to mixing bowl.

6. Oil two cookie sheets with canola. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

7. Make balls about one and a half inches in diameter, roll in breadcrumbs and flatten slightly.

8. Bake until the bottoms brown then gently flip. Place them back in the oven until the fritters are browned on both sides. I baked this batch about 50 minutes.

9. Serve with Tzatziki.

Farm Fresh Spring Rolls

 

farm-fresh-spring-rolls

Farm Fresh Spring Rolls


I am doomed! It is Wednesday already and last Thursday’s CSA produce is still running wild in the fridge. When one buys into a CSA, one must remember one has duties to the box. There is to be no skipping meals, no eating out, no going to weddings or birthday parties or amusement parks. It’s all about serving the produce. Fortunately, we have guests coming this evening, so I can whip most of it up into little bites and free the fridge for tomorrow’s new veggie hooligans. What better way to wrangle produce than to swaddle it tightly in spring roll wrappers.

These babies are stuffed first with either udon or rice vermicelli and then loaded with fresh herbs including mint, basil and cilantro. I julienned yellow squash and cucumber and had tons of field greens to fill ’em up. Obviously, the rice paper wrappers and noodles were not CSA items, but the greens, cukes, squash and basil all came from Foxtail Farm. The mint and cilantro are from my garden. How’s that for local?

I have never in my life made spring rolls before, but after watching a couple of YouTube demos, I felt pretty confident. The idea is to wet the wrapper, place all the ingredients in the middle, fold in the sides and then the bottom, so you essentially have an envelope. Then you stuff all the filling down into the envelope and roll it up tightly. It’s remarkably easy and totally worth it. I served these with both a spicy peanut sauce as well as a Spring Roll Vinaigrette.

Farm Fresh Spring Rolls

  • Spring roll wrappers – my package had 15
  • cooked udon, soba or rice noodles
  • salad greens
  • fresh herbs – mint, basil, cilantro
  • julienned vegetables – cucumbers, carrots, yellow squash, peppers, steamed asparagus, bean sprouts, green onions, snap peas. (Anything can be used as long as it is thinly sliced or julienned.)

Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

  • 1/3 cup creamy organic peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 3 tsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. tamarind paste
  • 1 tsp. chili garlic sauce

Directions: Dissolve the brown sugar in the water then mix all ingredients in a food processor.

IMG_3060

Vegetarian Spring Roll Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. Mirin
  • 1 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs. sesame oil
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • 1 tsp. chile garlic sauce
  • dash salt

Spicy Sesame Ginger Sauce

  • 1 tsp. chili flakes
  • 2 tsp. minced ginger
  • 2 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tbs. sesame oil
  • 1/2 lime,  juiced
  • 1 Tbs. rice vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts to garnish

Beet Bruschetta

If you are saying, “Ew, beets!” right now, stop. This is not your average beet. This elegant appetizer or light lunch will impress your pickled-beet-making grandma as well as your most discriminating foodie friends. This recipe does a great service to the humble beet.

IMG_2589

I really hate messing with beets, but every time I eat them, my palate is so satisfied! Not wanting to run the oven and heat up the house, I boiled the beets a few days ago. Today I peeled and diced them along with a local farm cuke from the co-op. I happened to have some of this tiny rye bread in the freezer leftover from a party, so I pulled it out and toasted a few slices. I actually cannot stand this bread, and have never found any topping that marries well with it – until today. The beets were a perfect compliment! In an effort to cut back on added salt, this recipe gets its’ salt only from the feta cheese. I also opted to use honey instead of the organic cane sugar I often use.

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 small beets boiled, peeled and diced
  • 1 small cucumber diced
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh mint
  • ground pepper
  • crumbled feta

Directions:

I prepped the vegetables and mint then whisked the vinaigrette together in a bowl big enough to add the beets and cukes. Mix everything together. Toast the rye breads, spoon on the beet mixture and last add the crumbled feta so it doesn’t turn pink from the beets. I served the bruschetta with a side salad of baby field greens from this week’s CSA and topped with the dressing from the bruschetta. This is absolutely delicious!