Some Red With My Green!

This week, we are seeing a touch more color in our CSA share! That’s how you know that summer is getting into full swing here in the Northeast. I am going out of town for the holiday weekend tomorrow, but will be back with lots of catching up next week. Who knows, I might even post a bit from the road!

Today, when I picked up our share, I utilized a nifty feature of Farmer Dave’s CSA share that I hadn’t before: the swap box. Even though the shares come prepackaged, each week there is a box where you can swap things out of your share for something different. Since I still haven’t managed to use the Chinese cabbage or tatsoi (though I’m planning to tomorrow), I swapped out this week’s bok choy with an extra bag of spinach. I’m more used to cooking with spinach and it is so incredibly delicious at this time of year!

Here’s what our box looked like after the swap:

We got two bags of spinach, a head of Romaine lettuce, a bag of peas, and…

…radishes, more garlic scapes (!), and…

…a cippolini onion and rainbow chard.

I have some fun cooking in my future. I hope you have a wonderful long weekend!

~CM

The Skinny on Beets…

…And a shout-out. First, the shout-out. I have to thank my amazing husband for making this blog possible. Many of my friends and family have asked if he is loving this project, since he gets to eat delicious food and doesn’t have to cook it. Yes, of course, he loves that part. But, the reason I could not do this without him…confession time…I hate doing dishes. Ugh. It makes me cranky just thinking about it. I would have been done after post one of this blog if it wasn’t for him helping out with the dishes. I try not to leave them all to him, since he has no great love for dishes either, but he definitely does the majority. So thanks, husband, for allowing me to play in the kitchen without having to deal with the consequences!

Now, the skinny on beets. Another thing that has come up frequently in conversations about this blog, what with my recently acquired beet-centric world view, is readers’ feelings about beets. It seems to me that, with beets, there is no middle ground. You love them. Or you hate them. I have yet to hear from someone who says something along the lines of, “Meh, beets, I could take ’em or leave ’em.” So, in order to be quite scientific about this, I have decided…drum roll, please…to unleash my first poll on you. What do you think about beets? If my options are too limiting and you feel the desire to explain why you feel the way you do about beets, feel free to open up in the comments. (Good examples of opening up: “They’re pink! What’s not to love?!” or “They’re pink! That’s disgusting! Why would you eat that??”)

 

I look forward to seeing the results!

~CM

 

House Warming Experiments

Yesterday, my dear friends were moving into their new apartment and I wanted to bring over a special treat. I was taking the train up to see them, so I needed it to be easy to transport. After my cousin sent me the link to Smitten Kitchen’s pea pesto, I spent a long time perusing her wonderful blog. If you haven’t read it before, check it out! I was especially intrigued by her post on homemade ricotta (or ricotta-inspired soft cheese). I decided to try it out and also make a version of the pea pesto.

When it comes to the cheese, it was remarkably easy! And the end result was delicious. I highly recommend it. Because I used Smitten Kitchen’s recipe verbatim, I’m just going to post my pictures. Check out her blog for the details. NB: The fresher the milk you can find, the better the cheese will end up.

I used my Le Crueset because you should use a non-reactive pot. I was concerned about using non-stick so this was my best alternative. After heating the milk and cream to 190 degrees, I added the 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, let the cheese sit for 5 minutes and poured the whole shebang through cheesecloth.

This is what it looked like when it first went into the cheese cloth. After this, all you do is wait! Let the cheese drain for about 2 hours. As it drains, it hardens and the curds become more visible. After 1 hour, you could already see a big difference:

After an hour, the cheese has reduced a bit, though there is still a lot of whey mixed in with the curds. By the time it was done draining, it had reduced to about a cup and a half of curds. The lemon gave it a nice fresh, summery taste. After I go to the gym a few more times, I am definitely making this cheese again!

When I first saw the pea pesto recipe, I knew it was something I wanted to try. In our CSA share this week, we got another small bag of delicious looking peas. I shelled them and we had about 1/2 cup total. I knew this wouldn’t be enough to make the pea pesto as directed, but I knew I still wanted to include the peas.

Perfect fresh peas!

Because I didn’t have enough peas, I decided to fill out the pesto with garlic scapes and basil! I’d been wanting to make garlic scape pesto anyway, but, again, based on quantity (and my need to eat them right away) I haven’t been able to make it yet. I chopped the four garlic scapes into about 1 inch pieces, just using my kitchen shears, and tossed about a cup of basil into the food processor.

I blanched the peas for about 4 minutes while toasting pine nuts in a dry cast iron skillet.

Once everything was ready, I tossed 2 tablespoons of pine nuts, all the peas, 1/3 cup of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and about 1/4 cup of fresh grated Parmesan cheese into the food processor and blended until smooth.

The pesto became the most beautiful vivid green color and had a delightfully smooth texture. The peas lended a touch of summer and mellowness that is unusual for pesto. The garlic scapes added just a bit of bite and heat and the basil filled it out with a classic pesto finish. We served these on slices of baguette with the cheese spread first topped with the pesto. I ate probably two thirds of it and it was delicious (if I do say so myself)!

Don’t you wish I brought this to your house? Luckily, you can make it for yourself! The pesto is also delicious tossed with pasta. Just reserve a bit of the cooking water to help it bond to the noodles and smooth out the texture.

~CM

Sunday Brunch

Today is a big cooking and experimentation day (check back tomorrow for the exciting reveal!) so this will be a quick one. Once again, we are nearing the CSA date and we still have SO much produce. Getting used to this schedule has been a bit of a challenge. As much as I love being experimental and cooking delicious things, yesterday all I wanted to do was eat Annie’s Mac & Cheese. Instead I ate leftovers, but didn’t cook anything new.

This morning, my husband and I realized we were out of cereal so we decided to make a scramble. We still had all the spinach and arugula from this week’s share, so I decided to saute that all down and mix it in with eggs and Muenster cheese. It always amazes me how much roughage I can eat once it’s been cooked.


This is what we started with:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the time we were ready to stir it in to the five eggs we scrambled, it had reduced to about a quarter of the size! And between the two of us, we ate all those greens in one sitting. Talk about efficient!

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the eggs were just about cooked, I added in the greens mixture, straining out as much liquid as possible, and about a half cup of grated Muenster. We toasted up some marble rye and had a very enjoyable brunch!

I hope you’re having a delightful weekend. I’m off to finish my big food projects!

~CM

Turkish Delight (minus the Turkish Delight)

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I was in the throes of creating a Turkish-inspired dinner to help warm me up on yet another cold and rainy night. When I was in graduate school last year, I lived right near Sofra. If you live in the Cambridge area, you probably know what I’m talking about when I say how dangerous it was to live there. (If not, you need to find out!) Sofra is a tiny cafe with odd hours that serves the most delightful Turkish and other Mediterranean food. While I would not say it is overpriced because it is so delicious and fresh, it is certainly not cheap. Thus the danger, when living on student loans and needing to feed myself for a whole week not just one meal.

One of my favorite treats when I occasionally (read: bi-weekly) splurged was the beet tzatziki. I’ve always loved the cool creaminess of tzatziki and, of course, adding beets can only make things better! It never occurred to me to make this myself until last week when I got beets in our first CSA share. I made it last night along with Turkish kofta and sauteed beet and turnip greens. I served the meal with some store-bought naan and, according to my husband, it all ended up on the short list of favorite meals. I started cooking later in the evening and was just finishing up when he got home from his gig (where he’d been playing jazz outdoors), so I’m pretty sure anything warm and filling would’ve made that list, but it was a delightful meal!

How fun is it to have something so incredibly pink on your plate without using any coloring whatsoever?!? Needless to say, our plates were clean very quickly.

For the beet and turnip greens, I had two bunches of beet greens and one bunch of turnip greens in the fridge and wanted to use them up before they wilted. I simply gave them a good rinse and a rough chop. (Side note: I love only washing off dirt, yay fresh produce!) Then I blanched the greens for one minute in boiling water, shocked them in an ice water bath, and quickly sauteed them with a bit of olive oil. You might want to add salt and pepper, but I preferred not to with this dish because all the other elements were so complex.

Because the rest of the meal involved pretty specific recipes, rather than just describe what I did, I’ll finish this post with the recipes for both the beet tzatziki and the Turkish kofta. This will be my typical format when recipes are involved. One final note then down to business, my cousin sent me a link to this blog/recipe today, and you can bet you’ll see my version on here soon! Yum!

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Tonight’s Recipes:

Beet Tzatziki

Adapted from Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean, by Ana Sortun (The chef behind Sofra and its parent restaurant, Oleana)

4 beets (I used 3, because that’s what came in my share, but I feel like it definitely could have used one more)

2 cloves garlic, minced finely

4 teaspoons lemon juice

2 cups plain Greek yogurt (full fat, I recommend Fage), strained  –>  for tips on straining Greek yogurt, see the bottom of the recipe. I only strained the Fage for about 5 minutes and it was plenty.

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped (I love dill, so I added quite a bit, the original recipe calls for 2 1/2 tablespoons)

Salt and Pepper

Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Scrub the beets then simmer for 45 minutes. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl of cold water. Keeping the beets submerged, the skins should rub off easily by hand.

While the beets are cooking, mix the garlic, lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt in a medium bowl. Let this mixture sit for about 5 minutes (the lemon juice is “cooking” the garlic at this time).

Once the beets are cooked and peeled, coarsely grate them using a box grater. (This is far easier and quicker than I expected it to be!)

To the garlic and lemon juice mixture, add the strained yogurt and olive oil. Mix until combined and stir in the beets and dill.

Place in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve it. The longer it sits, the more the flavors will meld, and the pink color will become even more vibrant!

The finished product:

Straining Greek yogurt: (Adapted from this website)

  1. Line a medium-large bowl with a few layers of cheesecloth.
  2. Scoop the yogurt into the center of the cloth.
  3. Bring the four corners of the cloth together and lift the yogurt.
  4. Over the bowl or sink, twist the corners to squeeze out the liquid.
  5. Continue squeezing, putting the yogurt under pressure, to force the liquid out.
  6. Wipe the cheesecloth off with a paper towel and dump it into a bowl for use.

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Turkish Kofta

Adapted from this recipe by Jenny Sanders

1 cup plain whole wheat breadcrumbs

1 lb lean ground beef (I used 80% lean) –> lamb is the traditional meat for this dish, but I don’t care for it

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon dried mint

1 teaspoon dried parsley

1 egg

olive oil for cooking

NB: This recipe recommends using a food processor to blend the ingredients for the meatballs. This does create an incredibly even-textured finished product, but it is certainly not necessary. If you don’t have a food processor or don’t want to deal with the raw meat food processor clean-up, go ahead and mix by hand!

In a food processor, combine the meat, breadcrumbs, and egg. Blend until just combined. Add all the spices and blend until it is an even consistency.

Roll the mixture into small balls with water-dampened hands.

Heat the olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet (or other heavy skillet). Cook the meatballs in several batches, stirring frequently, until cooked through and evenly browned. I cooked them for about 10 minutes, but I am a compulsive meat over-cooker. The egg and breadcrumbs made it so they were still nice and juicy even after that much cooking.

Eat!! Enjoy!!

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These meatballs are also great at room temperature. I’m in my classroom doing some organizing today and packed quite a delightful lunch:

Until next time, happy eating!

~CM