Friday, July 30, 2010

Local News, Gazpacho, and Creamed Corn

First, we are delighted to announce that our blog is being picked up by Somerville Local First (it's local and seasonal, so don't worry), a hip, in-the-moment organization that is bringing awareness to the public about supporting local businesses. It's right up our alley, and we're psyched to be a part of their new local blogging forum.

Second, the CSA has kicked into high gear, and Keja was away so I was getting her share, too! What to do, you ask? Gazpacho. My kids were delighted. Actually, they can't stand it, but, House Rule 42 indicates that we will serve gazpacho until they say they like it, so we've been having it daily.

I'm not even going to give you a recipe, but instead, general guidelines, because the joyful thing about gazpacho is that you can put almost anything in it and it will taste good. Because of the immense amount of greens we're getting, our gazpachos of late have been deep green, rather than the more common tomato-based red.

You will either need a food processor, blender, or incredible patience and a sharp knife. I am going to assume you are using a food processor or blender, so if you are not, just chop everything as tiny as possible.

Wash all ingredients first, and chop any large ones into 2 to 3 inch chunks for easier blending.

We have been using the following:

tomatoes
lettuce
cucumbers
peppers of any color
garlic cloves
scallions
onions
beet greens
chard
kale
cilantro
basil
carrots

Blend until smooth. Once it's blended, add salt and pepper to taste. Add a TBSP or so of lemon juice and a TBSP or so of apple cider vinegar. Drizzle in 2 to 3 TBSP olive oil. Taste as you go along. Add more salt or pepper or garlic, etc., as needed. We have found that it's hard to add too much onion and garlic. Something about the mix takes away the sharpness and leaves only a lovely essence.

Make this at least a few hours in advance so it can chill. Lately, we've been making large batches and storing in mason jars in the fridge for up to 5 days, making for easy lunches.

We serve it with a dollop of plain yogurt and topped with croutons. When garlic scapes were in season, we topped it with crisply sautéed scapes, too.

Croutons

Whenever we have a heel of bread, we cut it into cubes and throw it into the freezer.

In a cast iron frying pan, add a TBSP olive oil over low heat. When it is hot, add 1 to 2 cups bread cubes and stir around to evenly cover with oil.

Sprinkle with the following: salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, oregano, or other spices of your choosing. Stir occasionally, until croutons are crispy and dry, ~ 15 to 20 minutes. Alternatively, you can bake them. Toss cube with oil and spices and spread out on a cookie sheet. Bake at 300 until crispy. I avoid this method in the summer to keep the house cooler.


Creamed Corn

Our CSA had lovely young corn last week. Oddly, my children don't like corn on the cob much, so it stayed in the fridge for 4 or 5 days. I finally decided to make creamed corn.

1 TBSP olive oil
10 ears corn, kernels cut off cob
1/2 teas. salt
1/2 teas. pepper
3/4 cup half and half
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

In a large frying pan, heat oil over medium-low heat.

Add corn and stir frequently for 10 minutes.

Add salt and pepper.

Add half and half and turn to low and cook for ~20 minutes until half and half has reduced, thickened, and become a bit sticky. Stir every 5 minutes or so.

Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. Add more salt and pepper if needed.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Odds and Ends on a Hot Summer's Night

I don't suggest serving these together. They are recipes I've tried in the past few days that need to be told. The risotto was great with green beans. The potato salad was great with steak and green salad. The Manhattan? With any or all of the above! And now, I hear rain. Ahhhh.

Shrimp Risotto

2 TBSP olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic scapes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 summer squash, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/4 inch slices
2 bulbs fennel, chopped
1 cup arborio rice
4 to 6 cups stock
1/3 cup white wine
1/2 teas. pepper
1/2 teas. salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup grated parmesan cheese


Shrimp

1/4 teas. garlic powder
1/4 teas. chili powder
1/4 teas. tumeric
1/4 teas. smoked paprika
1/4 teas. coriander
1/2 teas. cilantro salt
1/2 teas. pepper
1 teas. lemon zest
1 TBSP olive oil
3/4 lb. shrimp


In a dutch oven or other heavy duty, large pot over medium heat, add olive oil. After a minute, add onion and scapes and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. 

Add summer squash and fennel, and cook another 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add rice and stir constantly, 5 minutes. 

Begin adding stock, 1/2 cup at a time. Stir constantly. When liquid has evaporated, add another half cup. After adding 2 cups stock, add the wine next, and then continue with the stock as before.

Add salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, mix garlic powder, chili powder, tumeric, paprika, coriander, salt, pepper, and lemon zest in a small bowl. 

In a hot frying pan, add olive oil. Add shrimp and herb mix and stir well. Cook, stirring frequently, until shrimp are jut cooked through and pink, ~ 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

When the rice is just tender, ~ 25 to 30 minutes, and stock does not evaporate very quickly, take off the heat. Add in shrimp and all the pan scrapings, lemon juice and cheese and stir well. Check to make sure there is enough salt and pepper. Serve.


Dill Bacon Potato Salad

1 lb. new yellow potatoes
2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
2 TBSP olive oil
1 bunch dill, chopped
2 slices bacon, cooked well and cut or crumbled into small pieces
4 garlic scapes, sautéed in 2 teas. olive oil
1 onion, chopped, and sautéed until caramelized in 1 TBSP olive oil (or bacon grease)
salt and pepper to taste

Put whole potatoes into a pan of water. Water should just cover potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook until just tender. Remove from heat and pour into a strainer.

When potatoes have air-dried, cut into bite-sized pieces and put into a mixing bowl and add vinegar and olive oil. You can let this chill for up to 24 hours or continue on to next step.

Add dill, bacon, scapes, onion and salt and pepper. Stir well.


And now, a Dave special.

Pyrat Manhattan

2 oz. Pyrat rum
1 oz. sweet vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters

Shake with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.






Thursday, July 8, 2010

Farm and Garden Fresh

We catered Keja's 4th of July gathering last week. It was so much fun to just cook, and not write recipes down! We made a broiled mussel morel mushroom dish that left us with a lovely mushroom, mussel, wine liquer that we were psyched to use last night in grits. The one problem? We also served peach iced tea on the 4th and the leftover tea was put into a container that looked the same as the liquer. So last night, we made peach tea grits. And then we made mushroom liquer grits.

Boneless Leg of Lamb with Mint Garlic Rub

2 lb. boneless leg of lamb, opened up (if rolled into a roast shape) and pounded until it is evenly 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick (pick your thickness and make sure the whole leg is that thick).

Rub:
3 large cloves garlic, minced
3 TBSP finely chopped mint
1 TBSP olive oil
1 teas. salt

Mix together and rub into the lamb.

Grill lamb over low heat, turning every 5 minutes, until cooked through, ~ 20 to 25 minutes.


Mushroom Grits

In a large pan combine:

2 cups mushroom liquer (cover dried mushrooms with boiling water until soft, ~ 20 minutes. Reserve liquid for other recipes, such as this one!)
2 cups milk

and bring to just boiling.

Add:
1 teas. salt (or cilantro salt)
1 teas. pepper
1 cup grits

Stir until well mixed, reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring frequently, until grits are tender and thickening, ~ 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in:
1/2 cup densely packed, grated parmesan cheese

We got a lovely truffle oil from Marx Foods and drizzled it on the grits.


Cucumber Mint Salad

We picked up the CSA share yesterday and there were beautiful cucumbers. And, growing rampant in my yard and garden is the loveliest mint.

3 lbs. cucumbers, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cut into 1/2 inch wide slices
leaves from 3 stalks of mint, roughly chopped
4 garlic scapes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces and sautéed in olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper until crispy

Mix all together and toss with a vinaigrette. Let sit 30 minutes before serving to soak up dressing flavor.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fish in the Weeds

We had an honored guest tonight: Keja's mother, Amy. She is an excellent resource, constant reader, and frequent source of moral support in this cooking endeavor, so it was great fun to be able to share this with her. 

The fish, cornbread, and shortbread all cook for about the same time, so timing-wise, have fish stuffed and ready to grill, cornbread mixed and ready to put into the pan and shortbread in the pan and cook everything at once. The cooking is fairly hands off, so meanwhile, make the compote and cornbread butter. The fish can sit in the foil for 10 to 15 minutes once cooked, if need be. 

This meal serves 4 adults.



Dave was late joining us so we were on our own for cocktail inspiration. We think he would approve, though we're not sure since we had finished the cocktails by the time he arrived.

Strawberry Cooler

Blend until smooth:

2 cups frozen strawberries
1/4 cup orange juice
1 bottle white wine

Serve with a mint sprig.


Rustic Cornbread

This cornbread is moist, slightly sweet, and addictive. Pouring the batter into the hot oil creates a crisp crust, which helps seal in the moisture.

Preheat oven to 350. Put 2 TBSP safflower or other high heat oil into an 8 or 9" square dish or pie plate and put into the oven while it gets up to temp.

1 cup corn meal
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teas. baking soda
1/2 teas. baking powder
1/4 teas. salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup bacon drippings or melted butter

Mix dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Add wet and stir until mixed.

Pour into the pan with hot oil, being very careful to not get splashed with the oil, and cook 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the bread comes out with a few crumbs attached.

Serve with butter or Keja's treat: 5 TBSP butter softened and mixed with 2 TBSP light Karo Syrup.


Fish in the Weeds

Stuffing:

Heat in a large frying or saute pan:
2 TBSP butter
2 TBSP olive oil

Add:
1/4 cup garlic scapes (or onions or scallions) cut into 1" pieces

Saute 2 minutes then add:
2 cups fresh spinach
1/2 teas. pepper

In a separate pan, saute 8 oz. bacon, cut into 1" pieces until browned. Add to spinach mix.

Add:
1/3 cup coarse brad crumbs. Stir well and remove from heat.

Stuff the cavities of:
2 whole Hake, cleaned 

with the stuffing. Wrap each fish with 4-6 fresh herb sprigs (we used oregano and mint) and tie cooking twine around each fish to hold cavity closed and herbs on.

Wrap each  fish in tin foil and grill over medium-high heat for 15 minutes. Flip and grill another 10-15 until cooked through.

Unwrap and serve each fish at the table, opening from the cavity and gently removing the backbone.


Shortbread cookies with Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote

Shortbread

Preheat oven to 350.

In a bowl mix:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup flour

Press dough into a small pie plate and poke all over with a fork.

Bake for 30 minutes, until lightly browned and good smelling. Remove and let cool. Slice into 6 or 8 equal pieces.


Compote

In a sauce pan over low heat, cook:
1 cup rhubarb, cut into 1/2" pieces
2 cups strawberries

Stir occasionally. When juices have released (~20 - 30 minutes), add sugar to taste (we used 1/4 cup).

Serve over shortbread. You can also serve with ice cream or creme fraîche to make it super rich, but we liked it with just the compote and cookies.