Friday, August 26, 2011

Stuffed Peppers in Preparation for a Hurricane

We are waiting for Hurricane Irene and had a busy afternoon putting everything away outdoors that could potentially become a projectile object. We also have a bounty of tomatoes, peppers, and basil from our own yard and the CSA. How to feed a hungry bunch? Stuffed peppers!

Stuffed Peppers

feeds 4

4 bell peppers, any color, cut in half lengthwise and deseeded
8 oz mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1.5 cups tomatoes, cut into chunks
1/4 to 1 cup basil, depending on your love of it, thinly sliced
1/3 cup olive oil
2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
1 teas. salt
1 teas. pepper

Preheat oven to 375.

Place peppers in a baking dish or cookie sheet, cut side up.

Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl. Divide among peppers.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until cheese is melted and starting to bubble.

Eat and wait for hurricane.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Note to Self on Tomatoes and Mint-Garlic Semi-Boneless Leg of Lamb

I have four gorgeous tomato plants in my raised bed. They are seven feet high, have thick, dark green stems, no sign of wilt or browning on leaves. True specimens. Except that they have five tomatoes between them. These are the same seeds I've successfully used the past two years, the same growing conditions. If anything, Dave and I were priding ourselves on the massive amounts of compost we added this spring. And thus explains our problem: we have too much nitrogen and not enough phosphorus. Who knew? Not us. Which made me realize that I have no idea about how to fertilize the garden, or the flowering plants, or my houseplants, for that matter. So, I got on the trusty internet and bought crazy amounts of organic fertilizers that the kind people at North Country Organics in Vermont recommended (as did my gardener brother-in-law). Plus, I bought worm castings for my indoor plants. It's good that my kids interrupted me or who knows what else I would have purchased.

Now that I've harvested my garlic and I have mint overtaking the side bed, and I'm feeling iron deficient, I am going to make a minty-garlicky, semi-boneless leg of lamb.

Mint-Garlic Semi-Boneless Leg of Lamb

Preheat oven to 400.

In a small bowl, mix together the following:

2 TBSP garlic, minced or crushed
1 packed cup mint, chopped medium
1 teas. salt
1 teas. pepper
2 TBSP olive oil

Rub all over a 2.5 to 3 lb. semi-boneless leg of lamb.

Put in a roasting pan and bake until thermometer reads appropriate temp for your eating pleasure (I prefer 126 degrees for medium-rare), approximately 1 hour.

The CSA recently had lovely golf ball-sized yellow potatoes.

Roasted Young Yellow Potatoes

Clean and eye and cut in half as many potatoes as you can eat and then add in a few more (you'll eat these, too). Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast at 400, turning every 20 minutes or so, until browned and tender, ~ 1 hour.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Pesto, Tomato, and Goat Cheese Sandwiches

Big bags of slightly bruised basil are arriving weekly from the CSA, the basil in my garden is trying to go to flower, and every neighbor I stop to chat with offers me some...fresh basil!  I love basil, but it does not save well, unless of course it's made into pesto!  One of the things I've discovered lately about pesto is that it is endlessly variable. 

There's a basic pesto base: dark leafy green, garlic, olive oil, nuts, and grated hard salty cheese.  Spinach is a great substitute for basil, and walnuts or almonds can esaily replace pine nuts, and romano, ricotta salata, or even queso seco can be used in place of parmesan.  for extra richness, add butter.  Use about 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/2 cup cheese per 2 cups of greens, but that's really give or take 1/4 cup, a small or large handfull of nuts is nice, and the garlic can be anywhere from 1-4 cloves... Put it all in a cuisinart for a few minutes, and voila.  If you're going to freeze it, which you can very easily, you can leave out the cheese and butter till you take it back out and thaw, or not. 

Pesto pizza is a particularly delicious way to get 6 and under crowd to eat greens, but for a quicker and perhaps more elegant option, pesto sandwiches are great.  I've been making a sourdough walnut bread from Nancy Silverton's LeBrea Bread Book that brings out the nutty quality of the pesto, especially if you've made the pesto with walnuts.  As you can guess from all of the different ways they're put together, tomatoes and pesto are a great match. A few dabs of goat cheese turn into into the traditional Italian red, green, and white, and make it more of a meal.  Eat it cold, or pass it under the broiler for 5 minutes!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Watermellon Salad with Cilantro and Feta

My watermellon vines are actually flowering this year!  I don't hold out much hope for actual fruit, but this is the first year I've gotten beyond the inch-high stage. I can take no credit, the ones I planted are still only inch-high; the flowering vine is a volunteer from the compost pile.  It's probably a distant relative to the beautiful yellow watermellon I got in my CSA share from Red Fire Farm last week.  And now I have another reason to love the seeds that come in those watermellons (the earlier reasons: fruit has seeds, and many childhood games involving spitting watermellon seeds, sticking watermellon seeds to foreheads...).  For the salad, you'll want to take out the seeds, but then throw them into the compost bin, or straight into a yard somewhere!

Watermellon is fantastic in any and everything, but the pairing with cilantro really makes this dish - I serve it as a light lunch or dinner, with sourdough walnut bread that I make from Nancy Silverton's LeBrea bread book

Watermellon Salad with Cilantro and Feta
serves 2-4 (depending on whether it's a main dish or a side)

1 head mild lettuce, washed and roughly torn
1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped (I leave most of the stems on when I do this)
1/4 watermellon, seeded and chopped into 1/2" cubes
4-6 oz. crumbled feta cheese

dress with a balsamic vinaigrette.