Archive for ‘Seasonal’

June 22, 2012

CSA cooking. My Very Own Version of ‘Chopped.’

After being gone for nearly nine months, opened a restaurant, restaurant …I’m back. Once I got done catching up on my sleep, I started catching up with my life and was delighted to find that I could still sign up for a CSA share. For those not in the know, a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share is where you purchase a share (or a half-share in my case) directly from the farmer and you pick up your farm fresh vegetables once a week. I connected to my CSA share through Just Food, which has an easy CSA finder interface, for NYC residents. Click the link to find one near you.

1st CSA Haul

I paid $400 for fresh vegetables once a week from June 4th to November 1st. Which comes out to around $20 a week. I did pay extra for the eggs (4.50) and the strawberries (4.50).

In last weeks ‘basket’ was 4 potatoes, two onions, spinach, chard (which I had never cooked with), scallions, cilantro, radishes and an enormous head of boston lettuce. Obviously, this move was fueled by my desire for farm fresh food, and to help out local farmers, but I also did it to push myself out of my culinary comfort zone. Instead of browsing websites or cookbooks looking for something new to cook and then going shopping with a list of ingredients, I now have to look at my very own ‘Chopped’ basket and figure out how to cook for the week with what I have. It’s changing my cooking already more than I would have thought.

Working under the same idea, I went to the farmers market told myself just to pick up what looked good and worry about the recipes later.   I ended up with cod, scallops and turkey sausage. What I made last week was Fish and Chips, Chard with Chickpeas and Sopressata, Strawberry Jam, Turkey Sausage Meatballs with Cilantro and Spinach in a Shallot White Wine Sauce and Scallops with Panzanella. There was a salad at every meal, including lunch (sometimes was lunch).

The simplest of those recipes is of course the Strawberry Jam. Though 1 quart of berries only yielded me around 5 ounces of jam, it is delicious and super quick!

Strawberry Jam

1 quart strawberries
1 cup cane sugar
juice of 1 large lemon
zest of 1 lemon

Wash and hull and halve the strawberries. Put them into a pot with the sugar, lemon juice, and zest. Stir. Turn heat on medium-high and cook the berries down about 20 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken. You don’t want it at a boil, a slow bubbling is ideal.


That’s it. Place in jar and refrigerate. Want a larger batch? Just double or triple the recipe.

The smell that permeated my apartment was better than any incense or candle and made it worth making the jam all in its own. Not to mention the gorgeous color.

March 9, 2011

Teaching Andrew; Pan Seared Lamb Steaks with Sauteed Dino Kale

This weeks lesson was pan searing, because let’s face it pan searing is every hungry cooks favorite trick. Not only is it an incredibly quick way to cook almost any animal protein, from lamb steaks, scallops, chicken, venison, quail, tuna, to all other delicious fish, when done correctly the pan seared crust is unique carmalized goodness while the inside stays medium rare, juicy and tender. The key to pan searing is to make sure both the pan and oil are sizzling hot, as in just before smoking. You want it actually hear the animal protein sizzle as it hits the pan and once it does hit the pan do not move it around.  Ideally, pan searing is done in a cast iron skillet, but can be done in other metal skillets as long as they don’t have a mirror finish or teflon. For really good local meat I recommend just seasoning it on both sides with salt and pepper and searing in 2 tablespoons of  either safflower or grapeseed oil, both of which have a high flash points, for 3-4 minutes per side for medium rare.

Before we put the meat in the pan we stemmed and shredded the kale into bite sized pieces. Last week when Andrew gave me a surprising long list of vegetables that he loved, kale wasn’t on it but spinach was and I thought the risk was worth taking. Once the meat hit the pan we put 2 tablespoons olive oil in a separate pan and heated over a medium high heat, then added 1/2 bunch of the kale, which cooks way down like spinach. We sprinkled the kale with a teaspoon of kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (not Andrew’s favorite and he would leave it out next time) and stirred quickly. After the kale cooked for another minute we added 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and cooked for another 2 minutes while stirring. The entire meal took us less than 20 minutes to make including prep, less time than it would have taken Andrew to order something in a restaurant, fast food or not. He was most impressed with the speediness.

Though it isn’t a great idea to eat pan-seared red meat all the time, it is still better for your body to eat local and organic foods made at home with no chemicals added than it is to eat almost anything pre-packaged. The real high light of this story was that Andrew a few days later went out and bought himself a lamb chop, cooked it at home and enjoyed it with a green salad he also made. Seriously, I couldn’t have been prouder when I received this picture below.

I may have teared up a little. Next week we are taking on healthy burritos say bye-bye to sour cream and hello greek yogurt.

January 7, 2011

Thai Inspired Oven Roasted Dungeness Crab and Some Alfalfa Action

I’m spoiled when it comes to seafood because I am from Seattle where it is plentiful, high quality and relatively inexpensive.  A result of my love for the bounty from the seas is the belief that seafood of all kinds needs very little additions when it comes to preparation. In general I’m a melted butter on the side kind of girl, maybe a few herbs here and there. But the baking barrister got me to thinking with her lovely post about herb rubbed dungeon crab that she then oven roasted. The combination of her pictures and the lovely accident of Dungeness crabs being on sale inspired me to come up with this recipe. The truly nice thing about this is that the marinade nicely flavors the sweet smooth meat of the body and when you are cracking the crab itself, the marinade on the shells give the leg meat just the hint of heat and crisp cilantro acts essentially like the acid from a lemon nicely balancing the decadent buttery depth of the more fibrous leg meat. Other than the marinating time, this is a super quick recipe that yielded a lovely dinner. I served the crab with a salad of Asian pears, butter lettuce and scallions with a light sesame salad dressing.

Thai Inspired Oven-Roasted Dungeness Crab

For two crabs

2 Dungeness Crabs (cleaned, and cracked in half, the fish monger can and should do this for you)

2 cups rough chopped cilantro (including the stems)

4 cloves garlic

1 Thai chili (if you can’t find them use a Serrano instead)

½ cup Olive Oil

1 teaspoon black pepper

Place all of the ingredients, except the crab… into a food processor and blend until a paste like consistency.  Rub the cleaned crab all over with all the paste. Place in a bowl or shallow baking dish and marinate for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Place the crabs in a roasting pan or baking dish and roast for ten minutes. Serve immediately.

Alfalfa Alert!!

If you feel as strongly a I do in wishing that Monsanto and others would keep their grubby little paws off of our food supply especially on a genetic level, here is a moment to tell the President exactly that.

Monsanto is threatening to contaminate yet another crop and this time it is alfalfa. This is especially important because obviously the cows that give us organic milk and other dairy products eat organic alfalfa, if Monsanto has its way this will all be threatened. Please click-through to sign the Food and Water Watch’s petition to President Obama.

November 13, 2010

Virtual Cruising For Tangible Tastes

From the time that I was 15 years old I have collected my recipes by clipping them from various food magazines and newspapers and putting them in a sketchbook that I organized by section. In these books are also hand written recipes from all kinds of sources including other people’s mother’s recipes and other people’s cookbooks. In fact, before I started this blog 4 months ago I previously wrote a blog called 3×5 collections (better name than Food Thinking I know) that was dedicated to all the recipes that I had collected over the years. My initial idea for 3×5 collections was to create a community where people could share their favorite family/community recipes.

With food blogs being prevalent and increasingly influential, our access to recipes, food pictures and how-to videos has vastly changed the landscape of recipe collection and has thrown to the wind the idea that Aunt May’s buttermilk pie crust is truly the best crust in the world. How does one actually determine this with so many recipes for other people’s Aunt’s best buttermilk crusts available at ones fingertips? Not surprisingly my method of collecting recipes has shifted from the clip and paste with scissors and tape to the clip and paste of command V and command C. I no longer call my Aunt when I want to make buttermilk biscuits I get online and type in buttermilk biscuit recipes to my search engine. I find myself buying fewer cookbooks and reading more blogs. I look for inspiration vicariously through other people’s cooking experiences. In fact a lot of what I decide to cook is informed by what other people’s attempts look like in pictures that give me information based only on one of the senses engaged in the cooking/eating process.  What I decide to cook has in fact become almost entirely divorced from something that I actually tasted, wanted to honor and recreate. Instead, my choices are impulse and slightly competitive driven and I wonder what it means to find oneself cooking for an audience of people with whom I share food with only virtually at least in equal part with the people I actually share food with at a table.

Yesterday, I filled my first Food Thinking notebook and had to buy a new one. Before I put it on the shelf I made a list of every recipe that was in it to put at the beginning of the notebook so I would know where to find the recipes should I want them again in the future. In the spirit of honoring the intrinsic value of a good recipe and the care that it takes to create food, here is most of that list and where I got them. To all of my fellow bloggers who have helped nourish me and mine I sincerely thank you.

Korean BBQ Chicken Marinade- Bill Granger. I pulled this one off the T.V. 1 cup sugar,  1 cup soy sauce, 1 cup water, 1 teaspoon onion powder. 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 4 teaspoons hot chili paste.

Duck Noodle Salad- Bill Granger

Indian Spiced Yogurt Sauce- Anjum Anand, I use this on squash as well.

Jamie Oliver’s Tray Bake- I know this is his but the link is gone, here’s the recipe. 1 1/2 pounds lamb sausage (any kind will do, but this had balsamic, so a heavier sausage will hold up better. 1/2 pound shallots halved, 1 pound new potatoes halved, 5 sprigs thyme, 3 sprigs rosemary, 5 sprigs oregano, two bulbs garlic stripped but leave the cloves whole, 1 tablespoon sea salt, 1 tablespoon medium ground black pepper, 5 tablespoon olive oil, 1 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar. Preheat the oven to 350. Preheat the empty roasting pan in the oven for 10 minutes. Once the pan is hot add the olive oil and the spices until they get fragrant but do not brown. Add in the potatoes and the cloves of garlic and toss in the oil and herbs. Add the shallots and the sausages and toss. Pour  the balsamic vinegar over the whole shebang and cook until the potatoes are done, about 45 minutes.

Tomatillo Soup with Shredded Chicken- Mariquita Farm

Chicken Tikka Marsala- Jamie Oliver

Sweet Potato Gnocchi- East Village Kitchen, her site had a major hiccup so I’m linking my own post.

Scallion Ginger Sauce- David Chang via You Fed a Baby Chili?

Tomato Jam with Ginger- Healthy Green Kitchen

Hummus- Epicurette In New York

Pad Thai- Ubiquitous Cravings

Unami Chicken Marinade- Bite Me New England

Vietnamese Roasted Game Hens- Ravenous Couple

Chicken Pumpkin Stew- Jehan Can Cook

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese- Jaime Oliver via Eat. Live. Travel. Write

Crispy Chicken with Chili Sauce-Egg Wan’s Food Odyssey

Seasoned Spinach (Sigumchi Namul)- Korean American Mommy

Mung Bean Salad- Korean American Mommy

Beef Jerky- My Man’s Belly

Pickled Carrots with Jalapenos-Southern Fried Curry– as a warning these are delicious but quite hot!

Stuffed Peppers- This Week For Dinner

Curried Goat- Them Apples

Pickles-Kitchen Konfidence

November 3, 2010

Miniature Lettuce and Brussel Sprouts, Not The Same Thing

When I was 8 I went to a dinner party with my Grandfather at the home of the man whom he had just lost the mayoral race to in a town in California. I only vaguely understood the nuances of the situation, but because I was in a dress, not easy to do, and in my fancy shoes that clicked, I understood that this was one of those ‘good behavior’ times, which in my case largely meant keeping my mouth shut.  I believe that I may have been the only person in the vicinity that was younger than grandparent age. After an exhausting session of answering boring adult questions like: “Where do you live?”,”What do you want to be when you up?” and “Do you like Disneyland?” to which I resisted the smart ass response of: “No, I’m the only small human in the state of California that hates a good time,” we finally sat down to dinner and I was delighted to discover tiny lettuce heads nestled together on my plate. This miniaturized food was new to me and I happily popped one into my mouth. I expected the sweet clean burst of lettuce juicy coolness to race across my tongue but what I got was a flavor bomb of rotten cabbage, urine and mold in the form of an overcooked what I now know was a brussel sprout. After I spit it out across the table almost hitting the man who had defeated my grandfather I tried very hard but unsuccessfully to not burst into tears. I acutely remember my outraged sense of betrayal.

I shunned the brussel sprout for several years, until I met a man for whom this was his favorite vegetable. As evidence that I will do just about anything to encourage people to make fabulous food choices I decided to give the brussel sprout another try and I’m glad that I did. I now have them in my house nearly constantly during the season. I shred them into chicken soups. I roast them into slightly brown perfection, like Tiny Urban Kitchen and White on Rice Couple , who add balsamic to their roasted sprouts. Lots of people love Brussel Sprout Au Gratin, which honestly is not my favorite way of eating them, but La Bella Cook has a great recipe that uses Gruyere cheese, bacon and walnuts.  My absolute favorite way to eat the now forgiven brussel sprout is to peel them and sauté the leaves making a simple warm salad. Peeling them is a little time-consuming, but well worth the results.

Warm Brussel Sprout Salad

20-25 large brussels sprouts

4 tablespoons good sweet cream salted butter

1 ½ teaspoons ground pepper.

Clean your sprouts by pulling off the few outside leaves that will be tough to the touch, these will not soften when you cook them. I recommend cutting off the bottoms and taking the leaves off that way. When you can no longer easily take the leaves off, you should be at the core which is a very pale yellow/light green color. You can either discard the core of use them in a vegetable soup. Once the leaves are peeled. Wash them and let them dry. The leaves will keep in the fridge in a plastic bag for a few days.

Brown the butter in a large pan over a medium high heat  Once the butter is brown add all of the brussels sprout leaves, sprinkle with 1 ½ teaspoons pepper and using a spatula quickly coat the leaves in the butter cooking them in the pan until done, about 3 minutes. Some of the leaves will crisp up, these are my favorite ones. Put in bowl and serve warm. You can taste and add salt if you wish, but I find that the salt from the butter is enough for me.

November 2, 2010

Bart Simpson Never Ate Ginger Cranberry Sauce with Wild Blueberries

Cranberries are weird when you think about it. They aren’t edible raw ( technically they are but you’d have to be pretty desperate) and until doctored in some way they aren’t all that tasty. They do have great color which is probably how they lured us humans into originally picking them and then figuring out how to eat them. I marvel at those humans the same way I marvel with thankfulness at the person who first eyed an artichoke as food. We humans did eventually figure out that we could elevate the flavor of the cranberry to match its all ready elevated color by adding sweetener and spice into something divine. Most people have their favorite cranberry sauce and for some it is still out of the can into a bowl much like it is for Bart.

Let’s face it, cranberry sauces aren’t that different from recipe to recipe which also makes it an easy sauce to adjust for individual taste. Aside from the nostalgia factor of the canned sauce there is a world of difference, as with most things, between the homemade and the store-bought stuff. In this case difference can happen in less than 45 minutes from start to finish and can be made several days ahead of time. I usually make double batches of the recipe below and jar it for people to use at their leisure. I gave a jar to friends 2 years ago and they told me that the very last of it had just gone off. The cranberry sauce has never lasted that long in my house, but apparently when properly stored this sauce has quite a shelf life. A longer life than these cranberries got.

Ginger Cranberry Sauce with Wild Blueberries

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons minced peeled ginger

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 packages fresh cranberries

1 1/2 cup frozen blueberries (Try and find the smaller wild blueberries.)

6 large tangerines (or enough for 2 cups tangerine juice.)

3 tablespoons finely grated tangerine peel

Squeeze the tangerines to get 2 cups of juice. Combine tangerine juice, dark brown sugar, tangerine peel, minced ginger, ground cloves and salt in a heavy saucepan. bring the liquid to a boil stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved reduce the heat and simmer the liquid for 5 minutes. Add the cranberries and cook, while stirring often, until the cranberries start to pop, this will also cause the sauce to thicken. Stir the contents often to encourage even popping and cooking, this should take no longer than 10 minutes. When the cranberries have all popped, pull them off the heat and add the blueberries, stirring them through the hot cranberries. Cool the sauce then cover and refrigerate. This sauce can be served warm or cold.

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