Thursday, June 24, 2010

CSA Share Week 2

Today was the second week of our EOW (every other week) CSA share.  It is quite a haul: spinach, garlic scapes, kohlrabi, bok choy, romaine, arugula, chard, radishes, 2 quarts of strawberries and snow peas.  Tucked in with the romaine you will see a bit of white plastic grocery bag and a basil start.

We had arugula salad with chick peas and radishes for dinner, and strawberries for dessert.  It is summer!

As of today, we used everything from last week, except a bunch of bok choy that rotted.  I think that I didn't trim, wash and dry it well enough before putting it away.  This week I took more care.  Each vegetable was washed, trimmed and thoroughly dried before wrapping in kitchen towels, and nestled into a large plastic storage container.  Hopefully this will work better.

At this point, the 1/2 share seems to be just right for the two of us. 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tortilla Bake

I made this for dinner last night.  It was simple, included ingredients that needed to be used, and flavors that Bill enjoys.  I was able to sneak a bunch of mizuna into the filling.

Tortilla Bake
2 T olive oil
1 bunch of mizuna, washed and cut in 2" pieces
2 C cooked chicken, cubed or shredded
12  six inch corn tortillas
1 (16) oz jar of hot salsa
1/4 C water
16 slices pepper jack cheese, (about 1/4 lb) thinly sliced from the deli
2 tomatoes, sliced

Preheat oven to 350.  Heat a skillet over medium high heat.  Add 1 T olive oil, and saute mizuna until wilted.  Stir in chicken and cook just until it's heated through. 

Pour 1T olive oil into 13x9 baking dish.  Use a tortilla to coat the dish with oil.  Arrange 6 tortillas on the bottom of the pan.  Top with the kale-chicken mixture plus any juices from the pan.  Pour salsa on top of the chicken mixture.  Rinse the salsa jar with 1/4 C water and pour over the salsa.  Top with 8 slices of cheese and remaining tortillas.  At this point, you can refrigerate it for a couple of hours or overnight, if you wish.

Arrange tomato slices on top of the tortillas.  Sprinkle with salt and sugar.  Bake 25 minutes, then remove from the oven.  Place 8 remaining slices of cheese on tomatoes, and return to oven until bubbling and the top looks golden with brown spots.

Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

The Verdict
Bill really liked it.  It's totally guy food- cheesy and spicy.  I was happy with it because it was easy, relatively healthy and tasted great.  I used a modest amount of cheese, and it still had that statisfying gooey cheesy-ness.  I will definitely buy the cheese from the deli counter again.  The price was competitive, and the slices were paper thin.  The tomatoes sprinkled with salt and sugar were an impressive topper.  I will make this again. 

Dish Bitch
cutting board
baking dish
wooden spoon
spatula to serve

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lion Heads

Lion Heads is a Cantonese dish comprised of ground pork and cabbage.  The ground pork is shaped into large balls and cooked with shredded cabbage, which resembles a lion's mane.  This version is something I came up with over the winter, after reading a few different recipes. 

The first time I made this, I used a bag of shredded coleslaw mix, which was on sale, at a price that made it cheaper pound for pound than whole cabbage. I highly recommend that route if you are in a hurry. 

Lion Heads
Lion Head Meatballs (Chinese Style Meatballs with Cabbage)
1 lb bok choy, chopped
1 lb teriyaki meatballs (Aidell's Teriyaki & Pineapple Chicken Meatballs)
1/4 C dried shiitake mushrooms
1 piece kombu (seaweed)
2 C water
4T soy sauce
1 tsp powdered ginger
1 T cornstarch
1 T water
1 t sesame oil (opt)
accompaniments: chopped scallions or sesame seeds, chili garlic sauce, rice

Place mushrooms, kombu and 1 C water in the bottom of the slow cooker.  Layer 1/2 of the bok choy, meatballs, and remaining bok choy in the slow cooker. Combine remaining ingredients in a jar and shake to combine. Pour over cabbage. Cover and cook for 8-10 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high. Stirring occasionally.  Four generous servings.

Faster Version: Use 2 C chicken broth for the mushrooms, kombu and water, and 1 bag of coleslaw mix for the bok choy.  The night before you want to serve this, combine the remaining sauce ingredients with the broth in a jar and give it a good shake. In the morning empty the bag of cabbage into the cooker, toss the (still frozen if you wish) meatballs on top and pour the sauce over all.

The Verdict
This is a favorite in our house.  Next time I will chop the bok choy more finely.  While rummaging through the pantry, I found a package of slow cooker liners.  I can't recall from whence they came, but I have to say, clean up was much quicker.  

The Dish Bitch
cutting board
crockpot (used a cooking bag so it was easy)
half pint jar for measuring and mixing
wooden spoon

Cherry Almond Oat "Cupcakes"

Stocking up for winter is one of the habits you develop living in the rural Northeast.  You never know when a snow or ice storm will make roads impassable.  Or there's a power outage.  Or you just don't want to run errands in the cold.  Although we now live in an urban area with relatively mild winters (rain not snow), some habits die hard.

Over the winter, during a trip to Costco, we purchased a jagunda (aka humongous, ridiculously large) quantity of oatmeal.  It's healthy but the quantity is intimidating.

The Feedbag
I hate to throw away food, so I'm on a mission to use these oats before they go bad.  I left "the Feedbag" on the counter for a couple of days, hoping for a burst of inspiration.  I finally came up with a recipe. 

Bill and I have been having yogurt shakes for breakfast.  Delicious and nutritious as they say, but by mid morning, I'm feeling a bit peckish.  This recipe is based on the no bake cookies that were popular when I was a kid.  This is in no way a low calorie snack. It is nutritious, has a boatload of fiber and satisfies like a cookie. 

Cherry Almond Oat Cupcakes
1 C rolled oats
2 1/2 C Kashi cereal
1/2 C slivered almonds
1/2 C pumpkin and sunseed mix
1/4 C ground flaxseeds
1 C dried cherries
6 dates, chopped
1/2 C apple cider
1/2 C almond butter
1/2 C maple syrup

Place oats, cereal, almonds, seeds and cherries in a food processor.  Pulse until everything (except fruit) has a uniform size.  Combine dates, cider, almond butter and maple syrup in a large pot.  Heat, stirring until everything is melted.  Pour oat mixture into pot, and stir until everything is coated in syrup. 

Line a muffin tin with paper cases.  Use a wide mouthed funnel and an ice cream scoop to fill cups, pressing to compact.  Let cool, then remove from pan and into a sealable container.  Refrigerate until firm, and store  in the fridge.

The Verdict
Pretty tasty and satisfying with nice texture.  It's a pretty big serving, though, almost too much.   Next time I will use a mini muffin tin, and play with the ratio of nuts. Maybe substitute carrots for the almonds. 

Based on recipe calculator, each regular sized muffin has 275 calories, 11 grams fat and 5.5 grams of fiber.  Compared to my favorite maple leaf cookie (220 cal, 10 gr fat, 0 fiber per 2 cookies) it has a more calories but a better nutritional profile and fiber.
The Dish Bitch
Food processor
wooden spoon
measuring cups
muffin tin

Monday, June 14, 2010

Baked Jambalaya (Baking Week #11)

Bill loves Jambalaya and I make it regularly.  I'm a little bored with the process, so I've been experimenting.  Making stock from scratch has been part of the new routine, but it takes advance planning and time.  Tonight I wanted to make something that didn't need much tending.  I had all of the ingredients for Jambalaya and some leftover cooked brown rice, so I decided to try making it casserole style in the oven. 

6 skinless chicken thighs
5 links chicken andouille sausage
4 salt packed anchovies, spines and skin removed, rinsed well
olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 red pepper sliced
1 - 2 T Creole seasoning
15 oz can fire roasted tomatoes with green chiles (from Trader Joes)
3 C cooked brown rice

Toss the chicken, andouille, anchovies, onion, pepper and olive oil together in a 13 x 9 baking dish.  Spread out in an even layer, and sprinkle with Creole seasoning.  Poke each sausage link 3-4 times.  Bake 20 minutes, then pour tomatoes and a bit of water over all, and return to oven x15 minutes.  Stir in the  cooked rice and a little water if it seems dry.  Bake until heated through.

This came out surprisingly good.  It was drier than stovetop jambalaya, and the meats had nice golden brown crust.  The tomatoes with chiles combined with Creole seasoning made for a spicy dish with depth of flavor. 

I used salt packed anchovies which are fussy.  You have to remove the spine and skin and rinse them to remove some of the salt.  You can use Worcestershire sauce, fish sauce, oil packed anchovies or green olives instead.

The Dish Bitch :)
cutting board
1 13 x 9 baking dish
wooden spoon
container from the cooked rice

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Risi e Bisi with Pea Shoots

Pea pods, peas and a bunch of pea shoots with flowers.

I decided to use the glorious bunch of pea shoots and pods to make risotto for breakfast.  I made it in the pressure cooker, primarily because I wanted to make peapod broth quickly. 

Once in awhile arborio, carnaroli, jasmine, basmati or japonica will make it into the rice pot, but short grain brown rice is a staple in our household, and it is used in all rice dishes, from sushi to risotto. It has a different texture, but it's worth it. One cup of cooked brown rice has 3 grams of fiber, the same amount of white rice has only 1 gram.

Risi e Bisi with Pea Shoots
1 bunch of pea shoots with peapods
4 C water
1 t salt
1 T olive oil
3 green onions, sliced thinly
1 C short grain brown rice
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 tsp dried mint leaves
1/4 - 1/2 C grated romano cheese (parmesan if you like)

Separate the peapods from the bunch of shoots.  Shell the peas.  Wash the pods and peas separately. Place the pods, water and salt in a pressure cooker.  Bring up to pressure and let cook 15 minutes.  Drain and reserve pea broth in a separate container. 

Meanwhile, pick the tendrils and tender leaves from the tough pea vines.  Wash and dry in a salad spinner.  Place in a bowl with the peas and set aside.

Heat pressure cooker pot, and add olive oil.  Sautee green onions until softened.  Add 1 C short grain brown rice, and stir until coated with oil.  Let the onions and rice cook for a minute, then add lemon juice to deglaze pan.  Stir, scraping the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen all of the onion and rice.  Add reserved pea broth and mint.  Cover, bring up to pressure, place a flame tamer under the pot and let cook 20 minutes at full pressure.  Turn off the heat and release the pressure.  Quickly stir in peas and leaves, and re-cover the pot.  Let stand a few minutes then check.  If it seems a bit watery, cook off some of the liquid, stirring constantly.

Stir in the cheese.  Garnish with lemon zest and cheese.

The Verdict
Next time I will make the pea broth in the pressure cooker, then make the risotto in the more traditional method, with hot stock and stirring all the way.  This batch wasn't terrible, but the texture was more of congee (Chinese rice porridge) than risotto. The dish would definitely look prettier if made with a white arborio rice and maybe a pinch of saffron.  I will save the pea flowers and a few tendrils to garnish the finished dish.

The Dish Bitch
pressure cooker
cutting board
salad spinner
1 quart pyrex measuring cup
wooden spoon

Thursday, June 10, 2010

CSA 2010 Season Begins!

This week's share, photographed by BB. 

Today is the first vegetable delivery of the season!  This year we bought a half-share of vegetables and fruit, which means a delivery every other week.  This is a change for us: in the past we've gotten a full share.  The quantity of vegetables and the challenge of using everything before it rots was the inspiration for this blog.  A half-share should be more manageable and give us the opportunity to hit the farmer's market from time to time.

Above you can see this week's haul in a picture taken by Barnacle Bill.  Clockwise from 9 o'clock: thyme and oregano plants in a starter pot; Mizuna (spiky green similar to kale); green leaf lettuce; vitamin green; bok choy; red leaf lettuce; radishes with greens; blue green peas shoots with pods; strawberries and rhubarb.  In the center is a bunch of scallions.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Barnacle Brownies (Baking Week #10)

One of my favorite things: my grandmother's cake plate. I'm told it was a wedding gift, which would make it ca. 1939. It's got a few dents, from years of use and multiple moves.  Usually it sits on top of my refrigerator, empty.  I love the embossed oak leaves and the wooden acorn handle.  It's marked, "Product of the West Bend Aluminum Company" on the bottom.

In deciding what to bake this week, I rummaged through the pantry.  I found a box of Ibarra Mexican Chocolate that I bought when it was still cold enough to want hot chocolate.  It is a combination of cocoa nibs, sugar and cinnamon pressed into round tablets that are divided into 8 wedges, wrapped and packaged in an hexagon shaped box.  It is usually melted with hot milk or water to make a convenience version of traditional Aztec and Mayan chocolate drinks.

It has good flavor, but the texture is coarse and quite gritty. Chocolate is chocolate, but in this case, the application of heat is essential. It seemed to have potential for a good batch of brownies.

Ibarra table chocolate: in the box, the tablet, with and without wrapper.

1/2 stick butter
3 tablets (about 3 oz each) Ibarra Mexican Chocolate
2 eggs
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 C flour
1/8 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
pinch of cayenne

Melt butter and chocolate.  Let cool for a few minutes, then stir in vanilla.  Meanwhile, combine flour, salt cinnamon and cayenne in a small bowl, whisk to combine.  Beat eggs in medium bowl.  Add a spoonful of melted chocolate to the eggs, stirring thoroughly to combine.  Add remaining chocolate mixture, and stir to combine.  Add flour to chocolate and eggs.  Pour into buttered muffin tin and bake until your house smells like chocolate and the center is set to your liking, about 10 minutes.
Barnacle Brownies unveiled.
The Verdict
The brownies were chewy and pleasant without being overly sweet.  I think the recipe would benefit from a little more salt and cayenne.  And orange zest.  Also, I will take them out of the oven sooner. 

Dish Bitch
small pot for melting butter
2 bowls
measuring cup
muffin tin
disher (small ice cream/cookie scoop) to fill pan

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Best Meal I Ever Ate

In November 2008 Bill and I went to California.  We spent a day in San Francisco and then drove 50 miles south to our target destination, Pigeon Point Lighthouse.   Pigeon Point is currently a lightstation, which means the Coast Guard installed an automated spotlight type beacon in the seventies.  The original lighthouse keeper's quarters are now part of Hostelling International, and would be our home for 3 days.The purpose of our trip was to view the annual lighting of the fragile original fresnel lens, made of 1008 pieces of hand polished glass.  The lighting was magnificent.  The picture below is from the Nasa Astronomy Picture of the Day Website.

The area around Pigeon Point is abundant with artichoke and strawberry farms, and as luck would have it we arrived on the first day of Dungeoness Crab season. Since the area is very rural, and we planned to relax and enjoy the sea and sky, bird, whale watch from the shore, and hike along the shoreline, we stopped at the Half Moon Bay farmer's market for provisions
The Best Meal I Ever Ate is a tie: breakfast and dinner, both at Pigeon Point Lighthouse.  Both meals were made with local products,shopped for, prepared and enjoyed with Barnacle Bill.

The best beakfast was coffee, artichoke bread, Harley Farms Monet Chevre (with flowers!), and persimmons.  We ate on the back deck of the hostel, overlooking the ocean. 

The best dinner is pictured above.  Succulent, sweet, Dungeoness Crab that we bought from the fisherman, right off the boat in Half Moon Bay, with butter, sauteed artichokes, artichoke bread and fresh beautiful strawberries.  We cooked it in the hostel's communal kitchen, in the company of other hostel guests.  It was a cold and rainy night, so we sat around the table eating and talking for a long time.  I can't remember their names but I remember their faces.  It was a great meal, and a great trip.