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.

Elderberry Pie and Green Walnuts

Would I make elderberry pie and crack green walnuts on my own? Nope. Too much bother for both items, thanks anyway. BUT I did do both last week.

James Ormsby is a chef in SF we've worked with for years. He's threatened to come down to the farm to cook with us (for us?) after walking our fields. Last week I received an email that the family he is currently private chef-ing for was away and he wanted to cook. I replied that he should stop teasing us and just get on his motorcycle and get down here. He arrived the following day.

Chef James and Mr. Chardgirl walked the fields: they brought home tomatoes, sweet and spicy peppers, zuchetta rapicantes, elderberries, and green walnuts.

On the way home they stopped by Deep Roots Farm to pick up our raw milk share and visit the piglets we plan to bring home in 3 weeks when they are ready to be weaned.

Chef J. started by making an elderberry pie. All in all it was quite easy, EXCEPT the elderberry part: you have to remove the stems, there are lots and they are little. He used a fork and it was clear he was a professional. It was a fun endeavor while having a visitor, but not for daily life. Pie is quite easy for me: the food processor makes a quick crust, and as long as the filling isn't too time intensive, 'easy as pie' makes sense. Unless you're making elderberry pie!

Here's the basic elderberry pie recipe:

1 metal pie pan, enough dough for a 2 crust pie, 3 cups washed and stemmed elderberries, 1/2 cup flour, 1 1/2 cups sugar. Mix the washed elderberries with the flour and sugar, add to uncooked pie crust. Add pie crust top. Brush lightly with water and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in oven (ours was at 400 degrees) and make sure it doesn't burn, but that the elderberries are all truly cooked through. The pie was delicious, by the way.

Elderberry Pie Photo Essay

James also made a little 'ice milk'. He took the whole milk he and Mr. Chardgirl picked up at Deep Roots Ranch (any whole milk will do!) and chopped lemon verbena and lime leaves (formerly known as 'kaffir', not a nice word to use!) and put them in 1 1/2 cups of milk with about a half cup of sugar, into a pyrex cup, then heated it in the microwave. Then we chilled that for about 3 hours while making the rest of the meal. After eating, we strained the chilled milk/herb mixture, and then put that in my little Donvier ice cream maker. Wow. This was a treat!

For dinner we had:

-grilled zucchettas (these are long skinny zucchini things; he halved each one lengthwise and marinated them in garlic/chile flake oil)

-grilled sausages (a few from Fatted Calf and a few from Boccalone, we're friends with both groups of folks)

-marinated roasted pepper salad

-heirloom tomato/basil salad (Chef J. said he's made it hundreds of times if not more, and rolled his eyes as I took photos, I got the sense he was 'over' basiled heirloom salad, but when it came time to eat it all of us enjoyed the salad)

-sunchokes braised in milk

-Wok-fried padron & friarelli peppers and immature serrano peppers. Salt is all you need.

while waiting for the zucchettas to marinate, the pie to cook and cool, the peppers to roast, and the coals to heat: we all cracked green walnuts. This is lots of labor for very little walnut meat. They do have a mildly nutty, only vaguely walnuty flavor, not at all bitter, and a delicate crunch. They were just very very tasty. Right now in mid/late August you can find green walnuts in abundance on trees. Chef J. decided they would be their own dish, a couple of us sprinkled them on the tomato salad.

Photo Essay of the Savory part of the meal

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Quinoa Salad

Our put-anything-you-have Salad of the day yesterday was a quinoa/purple cauliflower salad.

I had about 2 cups cooked quinoa, mixed with 1 small purple cauliflower (broken into florets)that was boiled briefly then chopped into smaller pieces. I put both of these into a mixing bowl once they were both mostly cooled down. I added crumbled feta cheese (about 2 ounces), 1 small finely chopped red onion, some fresh chopped basil, about 20 pitted kalamata olives that I sliced into thirds... I dressed the whole thing with a homemade balsamc dressing: 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1/3 cup olive oil, S & P to taste, red chile flakes, and a small dollop of dijon mustard.

Possible additions that I didn't have this time, but could be added or substituted for the above ingredients:

1) the grain: can be couscous or brown rice or another cooked grain.

2) the dressing: the possibilities are endless both bottled and homemade

3) vegetables: grated carrots, chopped green onions, chopped radishes, chopped, cooked golden or chioggia beets (red ones would make the whole salad a dramatic magenta), roasted or raw chopped sweet peppers, halved cherry tomatoes, chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped arugula, chopped celery or fennel, any cooking greens that are blanched then chopped, the world of vegetables are possible!

4) tasty addtions: chopped olives, capers, sliced marinated artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, crumbled or grated cheeses, toasted nuts

Did I eat it for breakfast? Yes! Just say no to corn flakes.

My children have been banned from breakfast cereal for the time being because they drink too much milk that way, leave the floor littered with corn flakes, and manage to 'forget' the eat-a-fruit-or-vegetable-with-every-meal rule. Did the kids eat my pretty quinoa salad for breakfast? well, no. Lena ate whole wheat toast with strawberry jam, and I don't know what Graydon ate since I was in the office talking to restaurants, encouraging them to purchase tomatoes.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Zucchini and Chocolate? I admit I love chocolate chip carrot bread, so why not add chocolate to zucchini bread? I received a recipe from one of our farm members who receives our vegetables each week and she sent me this recipe.

I had a pile of slightly beat up Cousa summer squash. "Zucchini" is a dark green summer squash, in my kitchen all summer squash are interchangeable for recipes that call for zucchini.

I wanted to make something with this pile of squash that I had a prayer that my kids would eat: so instead of a garlic summer squash saute or a light soup made with grated squash, sherry, chicken broth and a pinch of nutmeg, I opted for the add flour, sugar, butter and chocolate ploy: so far it's worked great.

my recipe filled with add-some-nutrition-tricks:

Julia's Summer Squash Bread
makes 2 loaves

1 1/3 cups sugar plus 2 Tablespoons
6 Tablespoons butter
4 large eggs
2 cups applesauce
2 cups whole wheat flour (I use 'white' whole wheat or ww pastry flour)
1 1/2 cups white unbleached flour
1/2 cup soy flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups grated zucchini or other summer squash
2 cups chocolate chipes (1 cup would be ok, I wanted to use the whole package so I tried the 2 cups, it was fine.)

Put grated summer squash in a colander over a large bowl and sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over all and lightly mix. Leave over colander for about 30 minutes, or until you're done with the rest of the recipe.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a standing mixer blend butter and sugar for a couple of minutes. Add applesauce and mix.

Combine dry ingredients, then add to the sugar/butter mixture and beat until just moist. Stir in drained zucchini and chocolate chips. Pour batter into 2 9x5 inch loaf pans that have been coated with baking spray.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour or until wooden toothpick comes out clean.