Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Late Persimmons

Persimmons are nearly out of season, but I still have some ripe ones waiting to be attended to. Oh, and our donkeys still stand in front of the fence where our 2 persimmon trees live, waiting for their treats. The raccoons and crows have already taken care of the ripe fruit. The donkeys will have to make due with carrots until next fall.

In this photo: The 2 fruits at the far left are fuyu, or maybe not true fuyu but the flat kind of persimmon sometimes called an 'apple' persimmon because you don't need to wait til it's ripe to eat. This is the crunchy yummy that can find it's way into salads in the fall. The next two fruits that are oval-ish are hachiya: the traditional persimmon that you must wait to ripen: it needs to be runny like an egg yolk before you can cook it. The three darker orange persimmons are what I have waiting for me right now: ripe hachiyas! I cut them open with a sharp knife and then push as much pulp as I can through a sieve. This is what I get.

Lots more persimmon information.

Recipe confession: I don't have a favorite persimmon recipe. Every fall I see the harvest waiting to be cooked up and I find the most convenient recipe I can on google that matches what ingredients I have one hand.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Gorgeous Carrots

Today was a great cooking day to be married to the 'grow weird varieties' market farmer. Mr. Chardgirl is growing 5 colors of carrots. So: What to make for dinner? We also have two sweet-toothed chardettes: I made a carrot salad with only the three sweet-as-raw carrots that we currently have around. Chantenay orange, Chantenay Yellow, and a beautiful purple carrot that is yellow in the center. Our White Belgian and Indian Red carrots have dramatic carrotness in their flavor, but they aren't especially sweet when raw. The recipe was inspired by one I read in How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. I of course included a few of my own changes!

Cumin Colored Carrots

2 pounds carrots: many colors, 2 colors, or all orange
juice and zest from one lemon or orange
2 tablespoons walnut or olive oil (I used a freshly purchased roasted walnut oil and it was divine)
S & P to taste
1 teaspoon cumin powder, freshly purchased within the last few months does make a difference.
Freshly chopped parsley or cilantro

Whisk together the citrus juice, zest, salt, pepper, cumin and oil. Julienne carrots on a mandolin or other grater. If you've got sharp knives and the skill julienne the carrots with just your knives and knowledge. Pour dressing over carrots. Stir in parsley or cilantro, or just use it as garnish for the top if presentation matters to your table.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Sunchokes, also called Jerusalem artichokes

I photographed them, then peeled some, scrubbed others, and had 1.5 # of sunchokes so I decided to to a quick cooking of them. I found a great recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks: Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. I found that peeling the 'chokes was easiest with a sharp paring knife. Scrubbing them was also easy, you can decide which you prefer. It might depend on what you want your final dish to look like. A rustic saute that will be sprinkled with seeds and parsley doesn't really need the pure white of peeled sunchokes; a creamy white soup might want the roots to be peeled.

Sauteed Sunchokes with Sunflower Seeds

adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

1 1/2 pounds sunchokes (also called Jerusalem artichokes), sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
2 tablespoons sunflower seed oil, or other high heat oil such as peanut or grapeseed
S & P to taste
3 Tablespoons sunflower seeds, toasted
2 Tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped thyme

Saute the sunchokes in the oil in a large skillet over high heat until lightly browned and tender but still a bit crisp. Taste them as they cook; they can be done in 5 minutes or as many as 10 minutes. Season to taste with S & P, add the sunflower seeds, parsley, and thyme, and toss well.

Serves 4-6.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Popovers as Jam Vehicle

We made popovers today: they are quick and a perfect vehicle for jam. I've not yet made any jam this year, but my kitchen has many jars from friends and family: quince, ollalieberry, fig, strawberry, and my own favorite: apricot.

I made popovers because they are quick and I thought at least the kids would enjoy eating the various jam choices with the fresh, steaming popovers.

Above is a photo of Lena's popover, you'll notice there's no jam in sight!

Popover Recipe:

1 cup flour
pinch salt
1 cup milk (I use whole milk)
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla, optional
1-2 Tablespoons melted butter
1 warmed greased muffin tin

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Mix the salt into the flour; Whisk milk, eggs, vanilla and melted butter together. (I use a large pyrex cup so I can measure the milk then add the eggs and butter.) Gently fold wet stuff into the dry stuff, be careful not to over mix. Pour batter into greased muffin tin. (I stick it in the oven while I'm mixing everything up.) Fill each muffin cup half or 3/4 full, depending on how popover-y you want them. Bake for 30 or so minutes, until they are brown and ready to eat!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Confetti Rice

confetti rice?

I have an idea to make my own confetti rice using the Red Friarelli peppers Mr. Chardgirl keeps bringing me.
They are SWEET, so no spicy surprises. Add a jalapeno or serrano if you want a spicier rice.

-pause while I go to make the rice-

success! Here's my recipe:

Confetti Rice

1 or 2 onions, chopped (and peeled of course)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped, optional
4 friarelli peppers, washed and finely chopped
1 1/2 cups brown rice
2 teaspoons salt
pepper to taste, optional
3 cups water
1 pressure cooker or regular large saucepan with a lid that fits well

Saute the onion and peppers in the olive oil for a few minutes until soft and starting to brown over medium heat. Add garlic and rice and stir to coat, then saute until rice is starting to brown a bit. (stir frequently during this one
step.) Add the salt, pepper and water. Seal the pressure cooker and cook over
low/1 ring heat for 20 minutes, or cover the regular pot, bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and cook without peeking for 45 minutes.

Monday, September 3, 2007

crockpot chuck

I'm in love with my crockpot, I've always had one available. I remember my mother making split pea soup when I was in kindergarten in a crock pot, I had a crock pot in college (spaghetti sauce!) and this week I made a chuck roast. My neighbor Colette bought a side of beef (I think that's half a steer) and gave me a chuck roast. I've never made one, so I went to the cookbooks and found a recipe from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Henspenger. It included carrots, celery, onions, and other spices. It inspired me to use my own kitchen availabilities: I sauteed carrots, chopped onions with S & P then put the thyme bunch and fresh bay leaves at the bottom of the crockpot. Then I added the chuck roast (I had to chop it in half and put the two 'steaks' on top of each other.) Then I added the bottom of a red bottle of wine (1 cup?) and a half cup of water. Then on slow for 9 hours. After 7 hours the meat was cooked through but not tender, the extra two hours were important. We ate it with steamed potato chunks (there wasn't room to cook the potatoes with the meat in this case) and I had sauteed chard and a green salad on the side. A great meal! Leftovers? yes: after being in the fridge overnight there was LOTS of colorful yellow beef fat. I admit I wimped out and removed the fat while it was all still cold.

The Official Recipe:

Roast Beef in a Slow Cooker

3-5 grated carrots (1-2 cups)
1-2 chopped onions or leeks
turnips or fennel, chopped, if available
some chopped garlic (optional)
fresh herbs such as thyme and oregano, or dried.
3 bay leaves, fresh or dried
S & P to taste, make sure to use plenty of black pepper!
1 beef roast that will fit in your slow cooker (I used a chuck roast)
1 cup red wine
1/2 cup water

Brown the meat on all sides in a large frying pan. Remove meat to a plate. Drain fat that easily slides out of pan. Add onions and carrots to pan and saute slowly. Add turnips, celery or fennel if using here. If using garlic, add after the onions and carrots are already somewhat cooked through. When melty and translusent, add to empty crock pot. Then add a bundle of fresh herbs (thyme is great) tied together with cotton string. Add dried herbs if fresh are not available. Add bay leaves. Add the browned meat on top of the vegetable mixture. Add the wine and water, and season with S & P. Cook on low for 9-10 hours. (I have an 'autoshift' function on my crockpot: it goes on high until it gets to the correct temperature and then shifts to low, this is a good place to use that function if you have it.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Dinner with James

Here is a photo of James' salad that made him roll his eyes because he's prepared so many of these in his professional career.

Here's a photo essay on the whole meal, including the marinating of the zucchettas, green walnut cracking, Sunchoke Field Standing, and piglets.

This salad was prepared by cutting thick slices of 3 colors of tomatoes: cherokee purples, german stripes, and green zebras, and placing them on the largest platter my kitchen could muster. In this case it was a dorky one with turkeys on the edge, luckily the camera didn't catch that detail. Then olive oil, balsamic vinegar, S & P were all liberally sprinkled over the whole thing, then roughly chopped genovese basil. That's it!

The roasted pepper salad? I watched him roast the peppers, but I was busy setting the table and preparing the grill, I didn't see the rest. It was a very simple salad that appeared to just be roasted peppers, S & P, maybe some olive oil, but then chefs do have a way of sneaking all kinds of things in there. I'll ask Chef J. and report back.

Official Heirloom Tomato Salad Recipe

Heirloom Tomatoes of at least 2-3 colors
Olive oil: best quality available
Balsamic Vinegar: best quality available
S & P
Chopped Basil (or mint or oregano for a different flavor?)

Cut tomatoes into thick slices. Compose tomatoes on a large plate or platter. Sprinkle with oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, and finally top with the basil.