Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Shameless Bragging

     OK, can I just say how much I love my farmer's market?  The last time I was there buying eggs, I heard a woman insisting that she get "a rainbow dozen."  Little did she know they're all rainbow dozens.  Beautiful, green, brown, tan, and white eggs dutifully laid by happy chickens who forage in the grass, eat bugs, and do happy, happy chicken things.  Whatever that is.  Roost in the forests of the moon or something... Anyhoo... I also found asparagus, morel mushrooms, and hazelnuts, and garlic...

     Have I mentioned morel mushrooms before?  Allow me to expound.  They're the little brainy looking things on the plate there.  They don't taste like any mushroom you've ever had.  They are drier, meatier, chewier, and they don't taste like a fungus.  I love mushrooms.  Just about all kinds (there's a few Asian ones I'm not too keen on) but the morel is just above and beyond.  They're hard to find, which makes them rare.  And the hiding spots are often a well kept secret.  Like the take it to your grave kind.  Fortunately for me, our farmer's market has a forager who brings fiddle head ferns, morels, sea beans, elder flowers, all kinds of wild edibles.  I love morel season.  If you can find some, buy them.  If you like mushrooms, you won't be disappointed.  If you don't like mushrooms, try them anyway, you might be surprised!

     I put this recipe together to highlight the morels and the asparagus, which I'm also nuts for.  You could also sub garlic scapes or fiddle head ferns earlier in the spring.

Morel and Asparagus Sauté
1/2 bunch asparagus
1/8 lb morel mushrooms
1/4 C chopped hazelnuts
4 cloves garlic
red wine for de-glazing
pre-cooked chicken (optional)
Trader Joe's Harvest Grains Blend

Sauté garlic, asparagus, hazelnuts, and garlic in pan with a little olive oil.  Meanwhile, make grains according to package directions.    As vegetables begin to stick to pan, de-glaze with red wine.  Cook until asparagus is cooked, but still firm.

If using the chicken, re-heat it in microwave or in a frying pan with a little bit of water.  Or, if you eat meat, go ahead and throw it in the pan with the veggies.


TJ's Harvest Grains Blend is mostly little cute pastas, so if you can't find it, this would be great with pasta or brown rice.  I cooked mine with a little mushroom stock and a tad of butter.

Absolutely fantastic.  Morels are a delicacy for a reason!

Also, just another quick little bit of bragging.  One of my hummus photos was featured yesterday on Finding Vegan!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Farewell to Spring...

Primavera means "Spring" in Italian, or so I've been told.  We have had a cloudy, cold, miserable Spring here in the Pacific Northwest and I, for one, am glad to see this mythical season they call "Summer" arrive.  I do love all the Spring vegetables though, like asparagus, morels and most recently, as you well know, I have discovered the sweet seduction of garlic scapes.  So I thought I'd make this little Pasta Primavera using the last of the local Spring veggies, though I wish I'd thought of this while fiddle heads were still in season... oh well, next year.

Pacific Northwest Pasta Primavera

4 or 5 baby beets
1/2 lb garlic scapes
1/2 lb asparagus
1/8 lb fresh morel mushrooms
1/2 lb kale

1) Roast beets.  Wrap in tin foil and bake for one hour at 350°.
2) After the beets have roasted for about 30 minutes, start the pasta water, and chop garlic scapes and asparagus in 1 or 2 inch pieces.
3) Roughly chop kale into bite-size pieces.
4) Chop morels into rings.
5) Sauté veggies in a frying pan with a little olive oil.  Start with scapes and asparagus.  Add  kale and mushrooms after about 5 minutes.
6) If the garlic scapes are taking too long to cook, add a little water and cover the pan to let everything steam.

A little wine would be nice in the sauté, too. 

7) When pasta water boils, add pasta and cook according to package directions.

 I fubared the alfredo sauce, so it was more like tasty milk with Parmesan curd, but it still tasted awesome...

Alfredo sauce:
1/2 stick butter, melted in pan
1 C skim milk
1 C Parmesan cheese
1 crushed garlic clove
1/4 C fresh parsley

To make a proper alfredo, you should use cream in place of milk.  This may have been what made mine all farshlugginer...

1) Melt butter in a small saucepan.
2) Boil milk, stirring consistently, for 5 minutes.
3) Slowly add Parmesan.
4) Add garlic clove, parsley, and pepper.

When beets are ready, let cool slightly (until you can handle them) and peel skin off, then slice.  Dress the pasta with the alfredo.  Top with sauteed veggies and sliced beets.

Eat it, 'cause it's awesome!   This could be more quickly made if you cook the beets a day or two ahead of time.  I served this with salmon because we had some that needed to be eaten, but this would probably be better with chicken.


Monday, June 20, 2011

When the Moon Hits Your Eye...

This recipe came on a coupon flyer in the newspaper.  I didn't use Gallo brand salame since it's got nitrates (sorry Gallo!) and I didn't use refrigerated bread dough.  I know, it kind of defeats the purpose of a quick meal when you add dough making to the equation...  I just don't like the way most refrigerated doughs taste and by making my own I know exactly what's in it.  The dough recipe I found here.  I used my bread machine to mix it up so it wasn't really that much extra work and had the added benefit of not needing to be thawed, which I can never remember to do.

Salame and Cheese Pizza Bread
Prep time: 10 minutes
Rise time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 15-20 minutes

1 T olive oil
1 (3 lb) package frozen bread dough, thawed
1/4 C chopped fresh basil, divided in half
8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 C freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 (16 oz) package Gallo Sliced Salame
1/2 C drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, minced

Spread olive oil in bottom of a jelly roll pan; press dough into pan, stretching to cover bottom of entire pan.  Press half of the basil into the dough.  Let stand in a warm, draft-free place for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Top dough with cheeses.  Lay salame in rows over cheese, overlapping slightly; top with tomatoes and garlic.  Bake on bottom oven rack for 15-20 minutes or until surface is golden brown.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining basil.
Makes 12 generous servings.

My substitutions/additions:
  • I used Applegate Farms salami.
  • I didn't wait for dough to rise the second time, partly because I had just made the dough, and partly because I didn't have the time.
  • I also didn't have time for beer to flatten, but it was just fine.
  • I made half sun-dried tomatoes, half salame.  One of the beauties of pizza in the half veggie household.
  • I think it could use more garlic, but that's just 'cuz I like garlic, and I don't know if the salame side needs it or not.

DH said it was some of the best I've made.  He loved the salami and said he preferred it to pepperoni (as he was shoving pieces into his mouth straight out of the bag).  The crust was fantastic and I could see perking it up even more with fresh chopped rosemary or thyme.  The boys both had seconds and so did I.  Definite keeper.

PS, it is incredibly hard to make jarred sun-dried tomatoes look yummy in pictures.  Sorry...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Two Words : Garlic. Scapes.

A little departure from the norm today.  Please excuse me, but it's about to get all fan-geeky up in here.  I had heard of garlic scapes but never tried any until I found a bunch at my favorite grocery store.  They are beautiful.




AUGH!  They're gorgeous!!


Flavor-wise, the stalks are similar to asparagus and the bud is a little like asparagus mixed with artichoke, though milder.  Raw, the stalks are hot and strong like garlic, but I think taste a little "grassier".  So far I haven't been able to retain the garlic flavor when cooked, but I'm still working on it.  We've had them steamed and grilled, and I think they'd be great broiled, too.

I paired the scapes with whole wheat pasta, but homemade herbed pasta would make these even better...I'm out of pasta flour... dang...

Garlic Scapes with Pasta
Serves 2

1/4 lb whole wheat pasta
1/2 lb garlic scapes
1/4 C chopped walnuts
crumbled feta cheese, for garnish
dash olive oil
s & p to taste

1) Make the pasta according to package directions.
2) Steam garlic tops as you would asparagus.  I use an electric steamer, so mine cooks in 8-10 min.
3) When scapes are done steaming, remove from steamer and chop stalks in 1/4 inch pieces, reserving the buds for later.
4) Plate the pasta and top it with chopped scapes, walnuts, olive oil, salt and pepper and feta, finishing with the buds.

Serve it with mixed green and herb salad with a basic vinegarette:
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk ingredients together in a small bowl until combined, pour over salad to your taste.  I use 1/4 tsp or less.

  • Scapes steamed as long as asparagus works well to cook them, but I'm thinking I'll try a few less minutes next time.  (I'm going to try 5.)
  • They cook really quickly on the grill don't take your eyes off them for a second!
  • Mr. CotC doesn't like goat cheese, but I think you could easily substitute goat cheese for feta cheese.
  • I think that mine were elephant garlic scapes.  What I have seen at farmer's markets are thinner and curlier, though I imagine they taste very much the same.  That said, I love the big, fat flower bud on these elephant garlic ones. 
  • If you're brave, you might try a few thin sections of raw scapes in your salad, too.
  • If you decide not to serve it with a salad with balsamic in it, you might put a little balsamic over the pasta to give it a little acid.
Next week, I'll be back to my regularly scheduled recipe box recipe, but I was so excited by these I couldn't help it.  Plus, this is the time to find them in the stores don't let these little buds of awesomeness get away!

OK.  One more:


Monday, June 6, 2011

A Lucious Sweet Potato Curry

Someone was nice enough to copy page 42 out of Betty Crocker's Vegetarian Cooking for me at some point, not very long ago.  But for the life of me, I don't know who it was or when.  I'm just going to say here that this is some really good stuff right here.  Holy Crow.  Thank you, Mystery Friend!

Curried Sweet Potato and Lentil Stew

Prep: 10 min; Cook: 45 min
4 Servings

2 tbs margarine or butter
1/2 onion
1 T curry powder
2 T flour
1 (14 1/2) oz can ready-to serve vegetable broth
3/4 C dried lentils (6 oz), sorted and rinsed
1/2 t salt
1/2 C apple juice
3 C 1-inch pieces peeled sweet potatoes
1 C frozen cut green beans
Sour cream or plain yogurt, if desired
Chutney, if desired

1. Melt margarine in 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat.  Cook onion and curry powder in margarine 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in flour; gradually add broth, stirring constantly, until thickened.
2. Stir in lentils and salt; reduce heat to low.  Cover and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Stir in apple juice, sweet potatoes and green beans.  Heat to boiling; reduce heat to low.  Cover ans simmer 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender.  Top each serving with sour cream and chutney.

1 Serving: Calories 325 (calories from fat 65); Fat 7g (Saturated 2g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 810mg; Carbohydrate 67g (Dietary Fiber 14g); Protein 13g.

My substitutions/additions:
  • I used less than 1 T curry powder because mine says "mild" but really means "hotter than the pits of Hades and also your children will never eat it."
  • I used 1 T butter

So very, very good.  I served it with basmati rice and plain yogurt.  Even the littles ate it!
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