Wednesday, May 30, 2012

First CSA 2012: Glazed Hakurei Turnip Salad

After patiently waiting for months, today was our first CSA pick up of the season! We were super excited.

 Our cute pick-up location: Healthworks Natural Food Store in Collingswood, NJ.
 Collingswood is SO cute!

 Onto the box! We weren't sure what to expect since Honey Brook was hit with a hale storm on May 24th that devastated many of the spring crops, including tens of thousands of heads of spring lettuce! Also damaged to untold levels were kale, collards, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, and one of my FAVORITES, fennel.  Sigh.  But, we had hope.

 Week 1 (all Local and Certified Organic): Red Leaf Lettuce, Swiss Chard, Spinach, Kale, Garlic Scapes, Hakurei Turnips, and Leeks! I thought this was a HUGE amount of produce from a farm that was just wrecked by a hail storm.

 The star of the show: Hakurei Turnips.  I was SO glad to try these for the very first time instead of the omnipresent radishes that one always gets in May. YES.

 Spring Snakes (garlic scapes!). Fun to use instead of scallions in various recipes.

Then, we had to de-rib, wash, dry and bag ALL THOSE GREENS.  I had forgotten how long that takes, and there were SO many greens!! It took like an hour to do them all.

 I had these bags from a while ago, I don't know that they really do anything to help slow the demise of produce, but I figured I'd try them since I had them.

 Here is everything, washed, dried and bagged, phew!

Now, onto the cooking!  We made Glazed Hakurei Turnip Salad, and it was AMAZING.

Here's the salad part:
 Red Leaf Lettuce (one head), Garlic Scapes (one long scape) and Organic Grape Tomatoes (not from the CSA).  The dressing was about 1 Tablespoon Jalapeno Olive Oil, the juice of one (organic) lemon, salt and pepper.  All of the cooking syrup from the Glazed Turnips was also added (amazing!!), the babies thrown in with the bath water, so to speak.

Glazed Hakurei Turnips garnished with Garlic Scapes. Here's the recipe I used, just use a non-dairy butter instead of dairy butter to make it vegan.  I had to reduce the recipe by 2/3 since I only had one bunch of the turnips, though.  We added all the turnips and their wonderful glaze to the greens above and it was STUPENDOUS.

I LOVE MY CSA! Thank you, Honey Brook :-)))

What did you guys get in your first CSA boxes, or if no CSA, what seasonal produce have you been cooking up?  Do tell!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Groundhog Pesto

For whenever a groundhog eats all your basil, cilantro, or whatever other lovely green you wanted to make a pesto with, here is a flexible pesto recipe that uses whatever herbs or greens you have on hand and whatever nuts or seeds you like.  Many, many variants are possible, with versions such as "Middle Eastern" (cilantro, basil, sesame seeds), "Classic" (basil, pine nuts), "Moroccan" (Argan oil, walnuts), "Mexican" (cilantro, jalapeno oil), "Persian" (cilantro, parsley, basil, pistachios), "Winter" (arugula or spinach, almonds or cashews) and whatever other versions you can dream of. 

Not just a pest, a pest-o!

Groundhog Pesto

Note: If you are making this to go over pasta, grab about 1 cup of pasta cooking water before you drain the pasta.

Yields about 1 cup sauce.
3 cups (total) of herbs and/or flavorful greens.
Basil, Cilantro, Parsley, Arugula, Baby Spinach, even Garlic Scapes from your CSA! Try to use organic if possible. I just made GHP with 1 cup herbs (cilantro & basil) and 2 cups arugula and it was wonderful.

 2-4 garlic cloves (2 is standard, 4 is, well, a lot)

½ to 1 scant cup pasta cooking water OR ¼ to ½ cup olive (or other) oil
You can drizzle some oil in if you are using pasta water, too, or split the difference (ex:  ½ cup pasta water + ¼ cup olive oil, whatever). 

¼ to ½ cup nuts or seeds
Pine Nuts, Sesame Seeds, Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds), Cashews, Almonds, Walnuts, Pistachios, etc. You can use your nuts and seeds either raw or roasted/toasted.  If using roasted versions, be sure to soak them or use some hot pasta water in the pesto to soften them a bit.  If you have a VitaMix it probably doesn’t matter J

Juice of ½ to 1 lemon, add some zest, too, if you want it more lemony
1-2 tsps of salt (depends on your taste)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Wash your herbs or greens.  If using basil, take leaves off of the stalks.  If using cilantro, go ahead and use stems AND leaves! Did you know you can use the whole bunch of cilantro, stems and all, when making pesto?  The stems taste just like the leaves, not bitter at all like basil stems.  You can cut the bunch in half or thirds if you want to fit it better in your blender or processor, though. 

Put everything in a high-speed blender (like a VitaMix!) and blend for 30-60 seconds on high.  That’s it. 

If you are using a food processor, start by adding the garlic, pulse to chop, and scrape it down.  Then, add your nuts/seeds and pulse and scrape down alternately until you have a nice paste.  Then, add your greens/herbs salt, pepper and lemon juice and process.  With the machine on, drizzle the olive oil (or pasta water) in until it incorporates fully into the pesto.  Scrape down as needed.

Taste for seasoning and add whatever is lacking before serving.  Serve over pasta, beans, in tofu, seitan, or in soups, in salad dressings, etc.  You can use some more pasta water to thin it out to your desired consistency if needed.

Storage tips & tricks:
You can freeze pesto in an ice cube tray (put it inside a plastic zipper bag when freezing so pesto doesn’t get all over the place).  Once it’s frozen, you can pop out the cubes into that plastic zipper bag and store.  Use a cube to wake up sauces, soups, etc., or use multiple cubes to amp up your pesto power.

 My Precious.

Middle Eastern Pesto.

What is your favorite way to use pesto?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Grillin' and Gardenin'

A thing of beauty!
 Grilled, Caramelized Onions
They are easy! On a large piece of foil, put thinly sliced Vidalia (or any sweeter onion) inside, add tiny bits of cubed butter (EB or whatever you like) probably about 1 Tbs per every two onions, organic brown sugar (about 1 tsp. per sliced onion), and sea salt (sprinkle generously over the onions).  Mix with your hands.  Fold up the foil into a nice packet.  Add another piece of foil and wrap again, sealing up all the seams.  Grill until tender and as caramelized as you want them.  

Here's the foil packet as I was about to open it.  You can see I unfolded the left side already.  

Other wonderful things to grill in the packet:
 Fresh, Jersey Asparagus (peeled, French style :-)

 Green Beans with Salt and Sesame Oil 

Really, any food that will fall through the grill cracks can be grilled in a foil packet.  Don't forget it! Just add your seasonings and a little oil, mix with your hands, and fold up that packet.  Yeah!

And, some gardening for you.  I made Mother's Day planters for my mom, my husband's mom, and my sister:
 Planted with Organic Basil and Organic Chives.  
My son picked out the pots, I loved them!

My planter:
Also basil & chives.  This way I don't have to go outside to get them! I think I threw in a bunch of arugula, too, so, it's gonna be crazy in there.

Also, my artichokes have "taken," and I see new growth on them, my Scarlet Runners were raided by something that ate all the leaves off 3/5 of my plants (but left the two healthiest, largest ones), I have tons of primroses blooming, my fig tree is leafing out like crazy, and I put in my Zucchini Garden with four hierloom zucchini plants!

What are you guys cooking & planting?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake.  My husband asked for me to invent this, so I happily obliged.  We had a hot charcoal grill at the ready after grilling our broccoli & seitan steaks, so I whipped up this cake to throw in there while the grill was still hot.  I made it once or twice last year, but didn't write down the recipe.

It's crunchy yet chewy, sweet and loaded with chocolate chips.

 You can see how crispy the bottom crust is.  The bottom caramelized from the hot temp of the grill and the sugar and the oil in the cake.  A delicious result.  I still have to nail the exact baking time, but in a charcoal grill that's almost impossible, the heat is just super dry and super hot (and declines rapidly if the temp outside is cold).  It's much easier (but less fun) to calibrate temperature and baking time with an oven (which I will approximate below).

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

1 cup organic sugar
½ cup brown sugar (organic, TJ’s)
3/4 to 1 cup olive oil 
3 tablespoons apple sauce (4 if you use 3/4 cup oil)
2 tsp EnerG replacer powder (just the powder)
2 1/3 cups flour (white whole wheat, which is a whole grain!!)
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
½ to 1 tsp salt (1 tsp really brings out the flavor, but might be too salty for you)
2 cups chocolate chips
½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Mix the wet ingredients (sugar through the EnerG powder) in a large bowl with a hand mixer or whisk.  It will become kinda like a gel in consistency, and won't look liquidy at all.  You could add non-dairy milk if you wanted, tablespoon by tablespoon if you want the dough a little wetter (don't know how that would turn out yet as I haven't tried it myself).  So, take the dough and press it into your buttered loaf pan:

Bake the sucker.  I'd guess 30-40 minutes in a 375 oven, until a toothpick comes out clean and the edges have begun to brown and pull away form the pan, or however long you'd like to try in your grill.  I'm getting a lot better at grilling with charcoal, so may have more specific advice soon.

And, I'm craving this like mad:

Home Made Pizza with: Roasted Eggplant, Fresh Tomatoes, Red Peppers, Cashew Ricotta and Home Made Vegan Pepperoni.  Amazing.  Made it a while ago, but could really go for it right now!

What are you guys making this weekend?