Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Colorful Lunch that Stays Faithful to the Half-Plate Rule

We recently purchased our first electric pressure cooker. I used to have a stovetop model which I didn't use much for fear it would explode. But, inspired by a good friend's tales of effortless stews, we decided to try the high-tech kind of pressure cooker. Our debut was rice, beans, and greens. We had picked up a package of some kind of gourmet italian dry beans for a dollar at a warehouse liquidation sale for an online artisanal food product store. I got some andouille sausage and a bag of fresh southern greens from Trader Joe's figuring we could make an easy southern supper. Gretchen's recipe for pressure-cooker rice, beans, and greens makes eleven 1-cup servings, which come in at 5 weight watchers points each. Topped with your favorite hot sauce, they are a scrumptious and healthy thing to combine with a salad, another vegetable dish, or a piece of meat or fish for a filling meal. For lunch today, I grabbed a one-cup serving of rice, beans, and greens from the freezer (we divided into servings and froze in foil packets), and then made a vegetable dish consisting of the following items thrown together with a little black pepper: frozen spinach, frozen roasted corn kernels, roasted red peppers, and one ounce of feta cheese. This comes in at 3 weight watchers points (2 for the cheese, one for the corn). The result was a filling and colorful meal for a mere 8 points. For our earlier southern supper, we made a different vegetable side that was also quite yummy: baby zucchini (available from trader joe's, steamed in the bag) with roasted corn kernels and a sauce made from reduced balsamic vinegar with some butter and salt whisked in.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Mango Red Pepper Slaw - 0 points

Here's a sweet, savory, and spicy afternoon snack or protein accompaniment that you can enjoy for ZERO weight watchers points:

1 ripe mango
1/2 large red bell pepper
1/2 small red onion
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 jalapeno
1/2 juicy lime
1/4 cup cilantro
salt to taste

Slice bell pepper into thin strips and toss them in a bowl. Thinly slice onions and finely chop jalapeno and add to bowl. Coarsely chop cilantro, and dice mango and add to bowl. Squeeze a half a juicy lime over and add cumin and salt, and toss. Done!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Southerwestern Pasta & Cauliflower Casserole

This is sort of a version of mac and cheese, but Trader Joe's did not have whole wheat macaroni. Therefore, it is a whole wheat penne casserole. Mark Bittman has a mac and cheese recipe in Food Matters where you use pureed cauliflower instead of milk. This recipe borrows form that, and from my mom's recipe, and adds chili powder, corn, pasillas, and zucchini. This recipe made a bunch of extra cheese sauce, which can be enjoyed over pasta or vegetables -- or you can double the vegetables and pasta and make a bigger mac and cheese. I also suggest adding some sausage or ham if you eat meat.

4 oz whole wheat penne, cooked
2 pasilla chiles, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 ear sweet corn
1 bunch chives, chopped finely
1 cup sundried tomatoes, soaked in hot water
5 small zucchini, chopped
2 cups baby spinach
1 head cauliflower, stem and leaves removed
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 onion, grated
1/2 cup panko
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup parmesan, shredded
1 tbsp chili powder
3 tbsp flour
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
salt and pepper

Bring a saucepan of water to a boil and add cauliflower, breaking up the florets. This will boil for about 25 minutes until it is really soft.

In the meantime, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in another pan and add pasillas and garlic. Sautee until soft, then add zucchini and corn kernels. If the bottom of the pan begins to brown add a little vegetable broth and scrape up the brown bits. Let these vegetables continue cooking until they are cooked through but not soft, and remove from the heat.

When cauliflower is soft, combine cauliflower, cheddar cheese, grated onion, sundried tomatoes, vegetable broth, and almond milk and puree. In a saucepan, melt 1 tbsp butter and then add the flour. Stir flour and butter together until well combined. Add a portion of the puree, using a whisk to incorporate the flour. Add the rest of the puree, the chili powder, black pepper, salt if desired, and spinach, and stir. Let simmer for several minutes, adding more almond milk or broth if you prefer a thinner sauce.

Preheat oven to 400. Mix together penne, vegetables, and puree in a lasagna pan. If you're not worried about points, sautee the panko in butter before scattering it across the top. If you are, forget the butter and just scatter it. Top with parmesan shreds and pop in the oven for 25 minutes.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Spicy Eggplant Parmesan

Last night, I was on a mission to cook something from scratch. In our efforts to save time and money by not going to the grocery store last week (the theory was that we had enough food in the house already), we ended up going out just about every day. This is my twist on eggplant parmesan, and it only required buying one ingredient we didn't have in the house- a green bell pepper. Using lemon basil makes it especially fragrant, and the cinnamon and red pepper flakes give the sauce an unusual flavor. Plus, it's only 7 WW points per serving. I used up a bunch of leftovers, which you will see reflected in the ingredient list. One seven point serving of this won't fill me up if I'm hungry, but add a salad or some steamed vegetables and you're good to go. While I was making this, I also cooked a mix of brown & wild rice and lentils that I picked up in the bulk section of a vegetarian market and turned it into a 3-point salad, recipe below.

Spicy Eggplant Parmesan (serves 4, 7 points a serving)(makes a lot of extra sauce too)

2 medium eggplants, cut into 1/4 or 1/2 inch thick slices
3 egg whites
a little water
2/3 cup whole wheat panko
1 fresh heirloom tomato, chopped
about a cup of leftover strained tomato sauce
1 can whole peeled tomatoes
approximately: 2 tbsp italian seasonings, 2 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp red pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, lots of salt and pepper
a handful of chopped lemon basil
a handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 green bell pepper, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup leftover romesco sauce (see previous post)
1 cup grated parmesan

In a saucepan, heat olive oil and sautee garlic, shallots, and bell pepper until just cooked. Add tomatoes in all their forms, and spices, seasoning, and sugar. Stir, and when things start bubbling, turn it down to a simmer and leave it alone. You can break up the whole tomatoes with the end of a spatula as you go along (or you can just use diced tomatoes).

Preheat oven to 400. On a plate, combine panko, 1/4 cup parmesan, and add salt & pepper. In a bowl, whisk together egg whites with a little water. Prepare two cookie sheets by covering them with parchment paper. Then, dip each eggplant slice in the egg whites and press it into the panko mixture on both sides. It won't become completely coated but that's okay. Place the eggplant slices on the cookie sheets and when the oven is done preheating, pop 'em in. After 15 minutes, flip them, and bake another 15 minutes. When you take them out they should be crisped up and fully cooked through.

At this point, your sauce will have been simmering for at least half an hour, or more like forty minutes. Get a small square lasagna plan, and add a couple of ladlefuls to the bottom. Add a layer of eggplant, ladle on some more sauce, sprinkle half the remaining parmesan, and repeat. Pop it in the oven for another ten minutes, and then you're ready to eat!

Lentil, Rice and Fruit Salad

per serving -- double or triple as you wish

1/2 cup mixed lentils & brown and wild rice
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 apple, chopped
several large grapes, chopped
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
Squeeze of lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Combine, and eat at room temperature.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

10 Point Lunch and a Half- Shrimp, Pico de Gallo, Kabocha

Today's ten point lunch is so filling it's really more like a lunch and a half. Left over from last night, lima beans sauteed with vegetarian chorizo and cilantro, pico de gallo, baked kabocha squash, and shrimp sauteed with garlic and olive oil make for a high-protein, filling meal-plus. In fact, I couldn't finish it for lunch and it will double as a substantial afternoon snack. Kabocha squash is super-easy to prepare -- just bake it. It is very dense and slightly sweet, and you can eat the peel, which makes it far less work than any other winter squash.

Here are (roughly) the recipes:

Simple Shrimp

Get a bag of easy-peel frozen shrimp from whole foods. Defrost them by running cold water over them in a strainer, and peel off the shells. Sprinkle on a little salt. These are great because they are already deveined and really easy to peel. In fact, these are exactly the same shrimp that Whole Foods sells at their seafood counter as fresh. In general, shrimp are OK to get frozen because unless they are reaching your seafood counter within a day from being caught, they have probably been frozen and defrosted.

Heat one tbsp olive oil/butter in a skillet, and throw in a clove or two of chopped garlic. Let it cook for about a minute, then add the shrimp. Toss them about as they cook. Shrimp cook very fast -- they are done when they have turned pink and are white inside. To avoid overcooking, put them in a bowl when they are done, don't leave them in the hot skillet.

Baked Kabocha

Heat oven to 440 degrees. Put in your kabocha squash on a baking sheet. Bake 30-40 minutes, until you can poke a fork in easily. Slice into thick wedges.

Mexican Lima Beans

Sautee 3-4 inches of soyrizo in a little olive oil for about three minutes. Add half a bag of frozen lima beans and a cup of water. Let it cook until the water pretty much evaporates. Throw in chopped cilantro to taste.

Pico de Gallo

In the proportions you prefer, mix together chopped tomatoes, onions, jalapeno, garlic, cilantro, and lime juice and salt.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Halibut, I Love You

I have been a hesitant seafood cook for a long time -- no more! I never want to buy fish that are more expensive than catfish or tilapia because I am always afraid I'll mess them up - I've generally opted to pay $20 to have a restaurant cook fish for me instead. Yesterday, however, I read an article about how to get a restaurant sear on your fish. My halibut turned out fantastic! I put a cast iron skillet on high with no oil for about 4 minutes to get it super-hot, then added some oil and slid in the halibut steak. When the steak looked like the bottom 2/3 was cooked I flipped it and let it continue cooking for about a minute. It came out lovely, with a nice crisp sear and soft and moist inside. I made a romesco sauce to go with it, this really surprisingly delicious German Potato Salad recipe from the WW website (we made it with tempeh bacon):, kale with pickled scallions, and romaine hearts with walnut-parmesan vinagrette. Here are the romesco and walnut-parmesan vinagrette recipes:

Becky's Romesco - quantities are approximate

8 quarter-cup servings, 4 points per serving

4tbsp olive oil

1 cup tomato sauce

1 cup fresh tomato

1/4 cup almonds

1/4 cup hazelnuts

1 slice bread or 1/2 pita

1 very large clove garlic

1/2 to 1 tsp hot red pepper flakes

2/3 cup roasted red peppers

2 tbsp sherry vinegar

1 tbsp sugar

salt, black pepper

Put the nuts in a food processor first and grind them. Then, add everything else and puree it together. Pour the mixture into a saucepan, bring it to a boil, then turn the heat down and let it simmer for about twenty minutes. Add more seasoning to taste.

Walnut-Parmesan Vinagrette -- 6 points per serving :(

1/4 cup walnut oil

1/8 cup sherry vinegar

1/4 cup grated/shaved parmesan

1/4 cup walnuts

1 tsp dijon mustard

salt & black pepper

Put it all in a food processor and pulse. We had baby romaine hearts from the farmer's market, and we cut one in half and drizzled about 1 1/2 tbsp of the dressing over each half. Then, we threw on a little more shaved parmesan and just ate them whole like celery sticks. Yum.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Strategy for Getting Back on Track

So we have come to the conclusion of Gretchen's 3 week birthday celebration, and it's time to get back to the business of weight watchers for me. It is really hard to control portion size and to guess at amounts of butter and such going out to eat, so after a yummy last hurrah at Pattern Bar on Saturday, we spent much of Sunday shopping at the Mar Vista Farmer's Market, the Spice Station in Silverlake, and Whole Foods. We spent about $200 on groceries, but they are all organic and/or local, and many things we got should last into next week too. The goal is to eat every meal at home Monday through Friday, and we have pretty much planned out what we are going to have. Here's how we are doing so far:

Breakfast: Sliced heirloom tomatoes on toasted rosemary bread with Soledad Farms marinated goat cheese. 3 points. I prefer tomatoes slightly cooked so I spread 1/2 oz. of goat cheese on the bread, laid on the tomatoes, and then popped it in the toaster. It really helps to have super-flavorful high quality goat cheese, you have to use much less of it to add a lot of flavor.

Lunch: Chicken breast(4 oz.) marinated in herbs, olive oil, lemon juice, and paprika, whole wheat pita, arugula, and homemade dilled tzatziki (yogurt, lemon juice, dill, cucumber, garlic, salt and pepper). 9 points.

Snacks: Grapes, blackberries, orange (fruit = 0 points), and Greek salad (4 points).

Now, if I walk home from Union Station, I'll have 17 points left for dinner! It seems I may be able to have a cocktail after all...

Our plan for dinner is pan-seared halibut/tofu with romesco sauce (so easy and good, just tomatoes, almonds, hazelnuts, olive oil, roasted peppers, and red wine vinegar) and romaine hearts with walnuts, shaved parmesan, and a walnut vinagrette.

Extra romesco sauce will go onto chicken for me, and chickpea cutlets for Gretchen for lunch tomorrow, along with more romaine hearts with cheese and vinagrette and potentially German potato salad...we'll see if we get that far tonight.

Friday, July 29, 2011

My New Favorite Vegetarian Junk Food

OK, my new favorite junk food I can actually eat guiltlessly on weight watchers is officially my black bean burgers topped with a melted Kraft single and barbecue sauce in a half-a-whole wheat pita pocket. Try it, really -- that Kraft cheese just makes it so junky and good, with that special processed-cheese taste, but actually also goes really well with the flavors of black beans, quinoa, and whole wheat. Who knew? Plus, Kraft singles are little and only 60 calories a slice so you get a lot of the satisfying feeling of having eaten something fast-food-esque with only a little of the consequences.

And on the side, try some sliced heirloom tomatoes, ripe yellow peach, and watermelon with salt, a good squeeze of lemon, a little olive oil, and some chopped fresh basil. YUM.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Manila Clams with Prosciutto and White Wine

I found some Manila clams at a Korean supermarket in our neighborhood and decided to try my hand at cooking clams for the first time. Manila clams are tiny and sweet - you see them on restaurant menus a lot. I followed a recipe online, but I don't remember where I got it from -- any way, the gist of it is that you cook a bit of prosciutto in the bottom of the pan until it gets crispy-ish with shallots and garlic. Then you add between 1/2 cup and a cup of white wine. I let it cook down for a little while before adding the clams. I think you don't really have to cover the pot but I did, and kept peeking and taking out the clams as they opened up so they wouldn't overcook. Finally, pour the cooking liquid into the bowl of clams, and garnish with fresh chopped herbs. With some crusty bread to mop up the juices, it's a lovely and very fast dinner. Clams only take a few minutes to cook. This could just as easily be tossed with spaghetti for a nice spaghetti alla vongole. It's a little difficult to calculate the weight watchers points for wine used in cooking -- but unless you are simmering it for at least 15 minutes it's fair to assume that it is pretty much the same as if you were drinking it. I read up on this a bit and contrary to popular belief, all of the alcohol does not cook off unless you simmer something for at least three hours. However, it reduces by 25% after 15 minutes and by 50% after 30 minutes. So if you make this and simmer it for 15 minutes before adding the clams, you can enter it into WW as if you used a couple less ounces of wine. Clams are about 3 points for 3 oz. of the edible portion. I figure the edible portion of 4 clams may equal about an ounce, these being small clams, so 3 oz. is about a dozen clams.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Homemade Black Bean Burger - 6 points per patty

What is up with stores not carrying black bean burgers anymore? Are they really a relic of the '90s? I spent a lot of happy high school and college vegetarian days scarfing down black bean burgers from Chili's and Morningstar Farms frozen black bean burgers with Trader Joe's guacamole. Ah, the good old days. I missed black bean burgers, so I decided to make some. This recipe came out very, very well. I think that actually if you double the poblano, add more chili powder, and more vital wheat gluten, they'd be perfect. At six points per patty, they're more of an investment than a three oz cold cut sandwich, but they are probably healthier and the patties are thick and satisfying. Use half a small whole wheat pita in place of a bun, and even with some cheese and barbecue sauce it's an under-ten-point meal.

Homemade Black Bean Burgers (6 large patties)

1 can black beans, drained
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tbsp vegetarian worcestershire sauce
1 poblano pepper
1/3 cup vital wheat gluten
2/3 cup quinoa
2/3 cup panko or other breadcrumbs
4 tbsp cornmeal
1 egg
4 tbsp olive or canola oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
black pepper

Turn on your broiler to high. Very lightly coat your pobano with oil and put it in the broiler. You'll want to turn it after about 3 minutes, when the skin is blackened.

Meanwhile, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Add 1/2 cup quinoa, cover, and turn off the heat but leave the saucepan on the burner. In about five minutes you will have fluffy quinoa. Around that time, you may be ready to take out your blackened poblano and put it in a bowl covered with saran wrap.

While the poblano is cooling, put the black beans, onions, garlic, spices, egg, worcestershire sauce, gluten, and quinoa into the food processor and puree them. It may in fact be better to just mash them, but I'll stick with what I did right now since it turned out well.

Pour the puree into a bowl. Peel and chop the poblano, and stir in the chopped poblano and bread crumbs. Now, it must be kneaded-- this is what makes gluten activate. It's a wet, sticky mixture, so I used a rice paddle to sort of fold it and press it in a kneading motion until it became firmer.

Cover a baking sheet with cornmeal. Form patties by hand and press into the cornmeal on each side to coat.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a frying pan. When hot, add three patties. Flip after few minutes, when the cornmeal on the bottom is browned. Before taking them out, throw a tbsp of soy sauce in the pan. It will sizzle up and season the burgers. Repeat with the second batch.

They are good right away, but better refrigerated overnight and then reheated. You can reheat them in a dry nonstick skillet. Top with some avocado, salsa, cheese, barbecue sauce, or whatever your soul desires.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Morrocon Vegetable Stew with Bacon - 4 weight watchers points per serving

I just made a rather delicious impromptu dinner out of leftover vegetables. I had some thick-cut applewood smoked bacon, so I cut up half a slice into smaller chunks and started it cooking in the pot. Then, I added 1 cup chopped kabocha squash, 1/2 cup chopped red onion, 2 chopped garlic cloves, and 1 tsp chopped ginger and sauteed them for a few minutes. I added a pinch of cumin, about a tsp of curry powder and a tsp of cinnamon, and sauteed a minute more. I added a cup of vegetarian chicken-flavor broth, a few diced drig figs, ground black pepper, a half-cup cooked brown rice, and about 1 1/2 or 2 cups chopped fresh spinach. Then I covered the pot and let it simmer for ten minutes. Throw in some fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lemon juice at the end. It is really tasty! You can make it two servings for 4 points each, or a full meal for 8 points. I had never had the combination of Morroccan spices and bacon before - probably because pork is not eaten much in that part of the world for religious reasons-- but it is really tasty. I was thinking about how bacon and maple syrup go together on the way home and I started thinking about cinnamon and bacon. They really go together well.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Changes: The Farmer's Market, and Weight Watchers

Wow, it has been far too long since we have posted. But it's not because we haven't been cooking. Over the past two months, I've started following Weight Watchers, and have lost over 13 pounds so far. With Weight Watchers, you can eat as many vegetables as you want and as much fruit as you want. Everything else has point values, and you get a certain number of points per day. I've discovered that it's kind of hard to use the vegetables we've been getting in our CSA for this. It's far easier to have the kind of vegetables around that you can just toss in with eggs in the morning or with some whole wheat pasta for dinner, and summer farmer's markets have those in abundance. Plus, I'm relying on fruit to fill me up, and all we were getting in the CSA was one box of strawberries a week. Meanwhile, bing cherries, pluots, nectarines, peaches are overflowing at the market. So we decided to reduce the CSA to once every two weeks and spend more time at the farmer's market instead.

Being on WW has definitely changed the way I cook. I'm going for cheeses that have more punchy flavor in smaller amounts, and using way less grains. I'm also eating a lot more salad and a lot more fruit than ever.

Here are a few of the things I've learned so far:

1. Soba noodles seem to expand more when cooked than regular pasta- I have no idea why, but they come in handy 2 oz. packets and somehow, two of those packets (4 oz.) fills out a stir fry to make it into four servings. Which means only 1 oz. of noodles per serving -- yet it still feels like a noodle dish.

2. Feta cheese gives you a lot of flavor without a lot of points.

3. Olives, hot peppers, and all varieties of pickles are a great way to add flavor to a sandwich without using cheese or mayo or pesto.

4. Buying medium whole wheat pitas and cutting them in half is a good way to cut down on the points in a sandwich. A half pita stuffed with filling is just as satisfying as a sandwich with two pieces of sandwich bread.

5. When making a salad put the dressing in the bottom of the bowl and then use your hands to mix the salad greens with it like the do on Chopped. You need much less dressing that way, and your salad is more appropriately lightly dressed.

6. Fat-free and lowfat cheese may give you a little bulk but they don't give you much flavor.

7. Having cherries and grapes around makes it easy to fill up a bowl with fruit instead of nuts or chips for snacking during Law and Order marathons.

8. Frozen bananas take of the edge off of ice cream cravings, especially with some chocolate syrup.

9. It's hard to fit pizza into Weight Watchers -- but making your own in the toaster on whole wheat pita is yummy and satisfying. Kale makes a remarkably good topping on these- it gets a nice texture with some time in the toaster.

10. After two months without a cheeseburger, it has gotten easier...but I still want one.

This week, we went to the farmer's market and got heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, crimini mushrooms, green & orange bell peppers, onions, peaches, nectarines, cherries, pluots, zucchini, Chinese eggplant, celery, sweet basil, and fresh thyme. At the grocery store we picked up feta cheese, parmesan, fresh mozzarella pearls, and a very flavorful, nutty hard cheese called une kaas. Here are my two best recipes of the week so far:

Greek Salad (3 servings, 5 points each)

Gretchen lived in Athens for six months and she said this tasted exactly how it is supposed to taste. Apparently real Greek salad does not have lettuce. This one's good for Weight Watchers because feta cheese is low in points, and you end up with less than an ounce of cheese and only 1 tbsp of olive oil per serving. I had this with a small piece of breaded, pan-fried fish last night for a low-points dinner.

1 heirloom tomato, diced
1 small green pepper or 1/2 a regular green pepper, chopped
1 cucumber, diced
8 small olives, sliced
1/4 a red onion or 1/2 a small red onion, chopped or sliced
2 oz. feta cheese, diced
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp + 1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 pinch dried oregano
salt and black pepper

In a bowl, whisk together olive oil and red wine vinegar with oregano and salt and pepper. Toss with vegetables & olives.

Catalan-Style Tomato Toasts-- These are good for WW because you shave the cheese on a mandolin. If you have a strongly flavored cheese, a little goes a long way. I used 1/2 oz of une kaas for this amount of tomato slices.

1 heirloom tomato
1 clove garlic
a few sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper
shaved cheese -- une kaas, parmesan, manchego, etc.
Pita or baugette

Slice tomato. Removed leaves from thyme springs. Slice garlic ultra-thin. Sprinkle salt and pepper and a drop of olive oil on each tomato. Stack tomato slices with fresh thyme and garlic slices between each tomato. Let marinate for awhile. I put them in the fridge overnight to have for lunch the next day, but they could probably just sit out for 15 or 20 minutes too.

Toast your bread of choice. Top with tomato-thyme-garlic slices and shavings of cheese.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Deliciousness Alert

Okay, so I just had the braised lamb for lunch. Forget what I said about too much chipotle, I wouldn't change a thing about this recipe, except perhaps adding more balsamic-soaked raisins. After sitting for a day, the flavors really came together well. The lamb is rich with a lot of red chile flavor and the balsamic raisins are a nice sweet and sour element.

Check out my recipe entry on

If you like it, write me a nice comment :)

Braised Lamb Tacos with Mediterranean Salsa

I created this recipe to enter this week's contest on -- your best street food. When I have cooked with achiote paste before I've just bought it already prepared from a Mexican grocery store. This time, I could only get ground annato seed, so I made my own, with tasty results. I've made a version of this dish before, but I think this one came out better- though I'd tone down the chipotle a little next time. But, I can honestly say I would be happy to get this out of the window of a taco truck, which is my highest praise for tacos. I'd suggest having these with a salad and a crisp cold beer.

Make 8 Tacos
Braised Lamb Tacos:

2 tablespoons ground annato seed
1 tablespoon orange or tangerine juice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon tequila
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon adobo sauce from canned chipotles
1 pound lamb stew meat, in 2 inch pieces
2 chipotles in adobo
3 cups vegetable broth
1 onion, chopped
3 bay leaves
sour cream
6 corn tortillas
Mediterranean Salsa:

1 tablespoon italian parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh mint, chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped white onion
2 tablespoons scallion
1/4 cup green olives, chopped
1 tablespoon raisins
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
juice of 1/2 a juicy lime
1 tablespoon sundried tomato
1 teaspoon olive or canola oil

1.Mix together first 13 ingredients to form a paste. Rub into lamb and marinate overnight, or for about eight hours. Ask a question about this step.
2.Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan and sear lamb meat. Ask a question about this step.
3.In a food processor, blend vegetable broth with chipotles. Add liquid to lamb, and add bay leaves. Ask a question about this step.
4.Bring to a boil, then cover and cook on low heat for an hour. Ask a question about this step.
5.Remove cover and cook another thirty minutes or so, until liquid reduces to a sauce and lamb is very tender. Ask a question about this step.
6.Shred lamb into sauce with a fork. Ask a question about this step.
7.While lamb is cooking, put raisins and balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan. Heat, then reduce to low and simmer until balsamic is reduced by at least half and raisin are plumped. Ask a question about this step.
8.Mince raisins mix together with other salsa ingredients. Ask a question about this step.
9.Heat each corn tortilla in a frying pan with a tiny bit of oil, and top with a couple of good spoonfuls of meat, a good spoonful of salsa, and a dollop of sour cream

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Rhubarb Three Ways and Three Kinds of Homemade Sherbert!

We recently had a couple of friends over for dinner, and we decided to make it a rhubarb-centric meal, having gotten rhubarb in our CSA. But we got so ambitious with the rhubarb that we had to buy more anyway, which as you can see from the pic, delighted Gretchen.

Rhubarb is too often relegated to the dessert realm. It is fabulous in pies of course, and nice as a compote over ice cream as well. But its sour vegetal flavor makes it a useful ingredient in savory dishes too. Anything that is sweet n' sour is can probably incorporate rhubarb. If you have never cooked rhubarb before, you want to boil it with a little water and a bunch of sugar in a sauce pan until it's soft - then you can mash it up with a fork and add it to sauces. If you want it to keep its shape, just cut it into large pieces and take it off the heat when it is fork-tender. For the mashed rhubarb in these recipes, I used splenda instead of sugar to keep the calories down and it worked just fine.

I came up with a recipe for rhubarb barbecue sauce around this time last year that I made with country pork ribs with delectable results but since this year I'm doing weight watchers (lost 9.4 pounds so far!), I decided to make rhubarb bbq shrimp instead of pork ribs. Gretchen made a Mark Bittman recipe (from the Food Matters cookbook) for braised tofu with a rhubarb & black pepper sauce that was quite good (the tofu had a nice creamy texture).

I have a lot of insecurity about cooking fish and meat. I learned to cook as a vegetarian (I was strictly vegetarian from ages 14 to 21), and I've continued to cook mostly vegetarian food. When I started cooking meat I was so afraid of the bacteria that I consistently overcooked it, which is the death knell for any meat dish that isn't a long, slow braise. I still struggle with getting the cooking times right. I've been especially leary of cooking fish because sustainable fish tends to be pricey, and I'm always afraid I"ll end up messing it up. It seems easier to just pay three times as much to go to a restaurant and have someone else cook it perfectly.

But these fears are really a little irrational. Fish is one of the easier animals to cook, and there are websites everywhere with specific per-inch-of fish cooking instructions. For this occasion, I decided to make shrimp n' grits. I've only cooked shrimp once before in my life. I was staying with a friend In Mexico and she had an in-home cooking lesson on making shrimp with chipotle cream sauce. It didn't seem too hard, but I didn't like the peeling and deveining part. This time, I bought a pound of easy-peel frozen shrimp from Whole Foods, which come already deveined. They came out great! Cooking them was so easy! I don't know why I don't cook shrimp all the time, I think I'm going to start doing that. All you have to do is sautee them in a little olive oil, and as soon as they have changed colors, cut one in half to see if it's done. It only takes a couple of minutes, and you take them off the heat and have lovely, tender, flavorful shrimp (the Whole Foods ones seem to be pretty high quality). Now that I'm a convert, you will be seeing more shrimp recipes on this blog, I promise.

The best part of the meal we made for our friends though was definitely the dessert. Gretchen made three kinds of homemade sherberts-- tangerine, beet, and banana. She made whipped cream with a touch of orange flower water and chocolate sauce from taza chocolates, and we had wonderful banana splits. Beet sorbet may seems strange, and indeed it has a vegetal flavor, but with chocolate sauce, it's delicious. And adding a little orange flower water to whip cream creates a nice floral touch. I don't know how she made all of it, so she will have to explain that with the recipe below.

Rhubarb BBQ Shrimp & Grits

I used the ingredient list and roughly the proportions from my previous rhubarb bbq sauce recipe, but I just kept fiddling with it (adding a little more wine, a little more sugar, etc.) until I was happy with the way it tasted.

Rhurbarb BBQ Sauce

Makes about 2 cups
6 stalks rhubarb
⅓ cup sugar
½ cup water
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup ketchup
½ cup red wine
½ cup strong coffee
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon sea salt
⅛ teaspoon liquid smoke
8 twists of a black pepper grinder
1. Chop rhubarb and place in a saucepan with water and 1/3 cup sugar. Bring to a boil and boil for
ten minutes, adding water if necessary and sugar to taste. The rhubarb should be sweet, tart, and
soft enough to be easily mashed with a spoon.
2. Add all other sauce ingredients, stir well to thoroughly combine, and simmer for 30 minutes.

The Shrimp

Defrost and peel shrimp. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, and throw in a minced garlic clove. Add shrimp, and cook, stirring about so they get cooked on both sides, until cooked through. Test one for doneness, and remove from heat. Add just enough bbq sauce to make them all have a thin sauce layer.


Follow package instructs to cook grits. Add a little cream, butter, and salt at the end.

Serve shrimp with grits! Delicious.

The Tofu Rhubarb dish is from Mark Bittman. It is a Vietnamese-inspired dish, which sounded yummy and interesting. As I made it, there were many times where I thought I had ruined it, but it actually turned out quite good. First you make a caramel, and then let the sugar burn a bit, to get that bitter/sugar flavor that is common in Vietnamese cooking. (This was the first time I thought I'd ruined it--my sugar never quite burned, but it did change texture and become somewhat hard--it softened up a again when I added water though). You then throw in a ton of onions and rhubarb, and let that cook down a bit. There is also a crazy amount of black pepper--like a tbls. This was the second time I thought I'd ruined it--SO MUCH PEPPER!!! and it is very peppery even after it's cooked down, but it was still really good. Then you put in tofu, cover, and let it steam for about 10 minutes. Right before serving you throw in a ton of cilantro. I liked the way the tofu came out--I was skeptical, since the initial dish was with fish, I thought the tofu might be bland or mushy. But actually, the rhubarb flavor seeped into the tofu, and the middle was creamy and yum.

In other rhubarb news, Becky made a really good cocktail with basil, rhubarb puree, and this really good infused pepper vodka that has both sweet and hot red peppers in it. It was delicious.

The sorbets were all made in our ice cream maker that I found under the sink in my old apartment in Brooklyn. For years, I carried it around from place to place, without ever making ice cream. Last year, I used it for the first time, and I have realized how easy making ice cream is. I made three kinds--banana, tangerine and beet. Here is the run-down of how I did each.

The banana is frozen banana. Period. After peeling and chopping up the bananas (about 4), I froze them over night. Then, I threw them in the food processor and processed them til smooth. Put them back in the freezer until ready to serve. So easy, so healthy, so good.

The tangerine sorbet is actually sherbert, from the NY Times cookbook. The original recipe called for gelatin, which I don't use, and which we didn't have, so I subbed agar agar, a Japanese gelatin from seaweed. I can't remember now, but I think I did use dairy milk and cream, since we actually had them in the apt. The last time I made it, I used almond milk, and it came out pretty much the same. The tangerine juice was from Becky's parents' trees. Processed in our ice cream machine.

The beet sorbet was modeled on beet sorbet we had in Argentina. I like the Argentine version better, but basically I used a apricot-champagne recipe that was in our latest Cooking Light magazine, and subbed beets from our CSA for the apricots. The champagne was the last bottle left over from our wedding. I roasted the beets, and then pureed them with a reduced champagne-sugar mixture. I think that might be it! Processed in our ice cream machine.

It was a great meal shared with great friends. Perfect.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Chicken, Turnip N' Greens Tacos

We have so many greens and so many turnips it's becoming a little bit scary. And more are on the way tomorrow! I don't even know where we're going to put them. On Sunday I did discover two easy and tasty ways to use up some greens though -- in tacos and on pizza.

It is my firm belief that anything can be a taco filling if properly seasoned or drowned in salsa. In this case, I made a stew of turnips, carrots, garlic, chicken breast, chard, and tomatillo. I'm sure roasting your own tomatillos would improve this dish but it's just fine with one of those 79 cent cans of tomatillo sauce in the "Hispanic Foods" section of your local market. These are very tasty and healthy. I am sure they would be even better if you deep fried your tortillas and added cotija cheese and sour cream though. Here's the recipe for tacos that each have a serving of vegetables:

Chicken, Turnip and Greens Tacos (serves 2 people - 4 to 6 tacos)

8 oz boneless skinless chicken breast, chopped into medium pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large turnip, diced
3 carrots (farmer's market sized), sliced into chunks
1 bunch chard, chopped up
about 2 cups vegetable broth
1 can tomatillo sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
fresh cilantro to garnish

Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add chicken, turnip, garlic, and carrots. Sautee for about 5 minutes. Add tomatillo sauce, broth, and chard. Bring it to a boil, then let it simmer for a long time, till the liquid is reduced.

Throw it on a corn tortilla, garnish with fresh cilantro and whatever else you like on your tacos.

Kale and Italian Sausage Pizza

Not really a developed recipe here. This morning after making breakfast I threw some kale and vegetarian italian sausage into the pot I'd used for eggs and sauteed them up real quick, and then doused them with a healthy helping of Muir Glen pizza sauce, aka the best pizza sauce ever. At work, I spread this mixture onto a whole wheat pita and popped it in the toaster oven on the medium-dark setting. Out came a scrumptious morsel of kale-sausage pizza, toasty and crispy on the bottom. So yummy I didn't even miss having cheese.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Healthy Flavorful Macaroni and Cheese - Really!

So I'm trying to lose weight and have been attempting to make healthy versions of dishes that usually feel indulgent to ease the angst of constant deprivation. Hence, the pasta-sausage casserole of the previous post. I'm on a casserole kick here, and this week's is macaroni and cheese. Casseroles are great because you can make them on the weekend and put them in separate tupperwares to have for lunch all week. With this casserole, and a batch of Mark Bittman whole wheat waffles Gretchen made on Saturday, we are prepared for reasonably healthy breakfasts and lunches all week long.

This recipe is adapted from my mom's recipe, the best macaroni and cheese recipe ever-- to make her version, add another 1 1/2 tbsp of flour, double the cheddar, remove the cottage cheese and all the vegetables, and use more butter and breadcrumbs. It is so delicious. But unfortunately, not a good weight loss dish. So here is the healthier variation. I roasted about 3/4 a head of garlic for this, but it was so good that I'm going to recommend doubling that amount to 1 1/2 heads of garlic. The garlic is nestled in among the macaroni so you get little pockets of sweet garlic creaminess.

Becky's Macaroni and Cheese (8 servings)

8 oz whole wheat macaroni
1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
1/2 onion, grated
1 poblano pepper
1 pound button or other mushrooms
1 1/2 heads garlic
1 cup grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup fat free cottage cheese
3 tbsp flour
2 cups lowfat milk
3 tbsp whole wheat panko
2 1/2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp mustard powder
a dash of worcestershire
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat your oven to 400. In a bowl, toss your cauliflower florets with 1 tbsp olive oil by hand. Salt lightly and place in a lasagna pan or on a cookie sheet. Next, wrap your garlic tightly in foil. When the oven is hot, place cauliflower and garlic in to roast. You're going to roast the garlic for an hour, but take our the cauliflower when the florets are browned. Try one to make sure they are fully cooked through. The cooking time depends on the size of your florets.

Put your toaster oven on broil, and put your poblano in the toaster, whole. Keep an eye on it -- when the skin is blackening and blistering, turn it over. When it's done on both sides, remove it from the toaster and set it aside. When it's cool, peel off the skin and chop it up.

Dice your mushrooms and sautee them in 1 tbsp olive oil until browned. At the same time, heat a saucepan of boiling water and add your whole wheat macaroni and a pinch of salt. Mine only took 5 minutes to cook. Drain macaroni and put it in a big lasagna pan.

Add poblano, mushrooms, and cauliflower to macaroni in the lasagna pan. Take your garlic out of the oven and reduce the temperature to 375. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of each clove over the macaroni, so it's studded with sweet soft roasted garlic. Mix the vegetables, garlic, and macaroni so things are more or less evenly distributed.

Now for the cheese sauce. In a saucepan, melt 2 tbsp butter. Add 3 tbsp flour, powdered mustard, salt and pepper, stirring to combine. Now add 1/2 cup milk and use a whisk to integrate the butter-flour mixture smoothly into the milk. Add the rest of the milk and your cheese, your grated onion, and a dash of worcestershire sauce. Stir until cheese is melted -- I just keep using the whisk for this.

Pour your cheese sauce over your macaroni evenly. Now, put your whole wheat panko and a 1/2 tbsp butter into a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir the melted butter into the pank, and sprinkle over the top of the mac and cheese. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Just a few stray collards

Well, we almost cooked all of our CSA vegetables. Everything left went into a batch of risotto except some collard greens and beets we are saving to make sorbet from. We used the same recipe we came up with a few weeks ago (See Risotto and Roasted Roots FTW!), but the dandelion greens were much more bitter this time. I did a little reading about them and I've concluded we must have gotten young dandelion greens last time, and old dandelion greens this time. We also used up our turnips - Gretchen braised them in a middle eastern tomato sauce with olives and raisins and we had them over quinoa with a fried egg on top. Our new delivery came in yesterday, but we haven't opened the bag yet. Anyone with expertise in how to cook old bitter dandelion greens, let us know.

We tried a new restaurant last night -- new to us, that is, called Colori Kitchen. It was quite good. It's a jovial, brightly colored Italian place with no corkage for your first bottle of wine at 8th and Olive next to the Golden Gopher. Their bread was excellent- crusty outside and soft inside, and their burrata was delicious. Gretchen had pumpkin ravioli with walnut cream sauce, and I had spaghetti alla vongole. Very good clams, but I wonder if spaghetti alla vongole can ever be a really knock your socks off dish. They are rumoured to have amazing ricotta cheesecake, but we didn't try it this time, despite our waiter insisting that the chef rides a unicorn and collects dew from an enchanted forest, and creates the ricotta cheesecake from magical dew.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Whole Wheat Pita Pizzas, Radish Cesar, and Spiced Carrot Soup

We continue with our challenge to ourselves to eat all of our vegetables by Wednesday. Yesterday at dinner, we used up ALL the carrots, half the romaine, most of the radishes, and almost all of the basil. I thought I was sick of carrots and I was dreading having to eat another bunch of carrots, but I made soup with them and it was delicious. Carrot soup is a whole different animal than whole carrots, and this is my special recipe that has a couple of unusual carrot soup ingredients. For our pizzas, we used some of the tomato salad/tomato a la checca that we made in the morning plus a little but of leftover canned tomato sauce. We will definitely make them again! The sauce a la checca (uncooked tomatoes with basil) was really flavorful on the pita pizzas, especially because we used meyer lemon infused olive oil. Here are the recipes:

Spiced Carrot Soup

2 bunches CSA/farmer's market carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 russet potato, chopped the same size as the carrots
1 tbsp chopped ginger
1 large clove chopped garlic
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp five spice powder
juice of one orange (or 1/4 cup store-bought OJ)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp honey
salt and pepper
Vegetable broth (we use Better than Boullioun, which is a concentrated vegetable paste you mix with water)

Bring a saucepan of water to a boil and add carrots and potatoes. If you aren't using better than boullion or cubes, make it a saucepan of vegetable broth. If your vegetable broth is really salty, do half broth and half water. Meanwhile, heat oil in another saucepan and begin sauteeing onions, garlic, and ginger. After a few minutes of sauteeing, add 1 tsp black mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start popping, turn down the heat or if you have a stupid electric stove like we do, take the pot off the heat because it won't reduce fast enough and you don't want to burn the seeds. When the carrots and potato pieces are soft, drain them, reserving the cooking liquid. I've read that using the cooking liquid retains nutrients, and that using water potatoes have been cooked in helps with texture. Add carrots and potatoes to onion-garlic-ginger-mustard seed mixture and cover with reserved water. Mix in five spice powder, honey and salt and pepper to taste. At this point, if your cooking water is not vegetable broth, add better than boullion or a cube and stir to dissolve. Bring soup to a boil then turn down to a simmer. Use an immersion blender to blend it in the pot, or remove it to a food processor and puree it. Simmer soup for as long as you'd like -- soup is better the longer it simmers.

Whole Wheat Pita Pizza

1 big heirloom tomato, diced
2 tbsp lemon-infused olive oil (or 2 tbsp olive oil, a good squeeze of lemon, and little lemon zest)
salt and pepper
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
3 whole wheat pitas
1 cup shredded mozarrella
however many black olives you like on your pizza

Combine diced tomato, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, and basil, and let them sit together for a good half an hour or more. Top pitas with mozzarella, tomato-basil mixture, and olives. Broil until good and melted and crispy. Don't drop it on the floor like we did, or you will be sad.

Tarragon Caesar with Radish

Cut up and clean a bunch of romaine. Use a mandolin to slice radish and scallion. Use the finger protector so you don't cut your finger off (you live, you learn).

In a small bowl, mix together 1 Tbls. of mayonnaise and 2 Tbls buttermilk (or milk with a little lemon juice thrown in, which goes with the Caesar feel of this salad, and is easier than buying buttermilk). Add tarragon, Worcestershire sauce (if you can find it in your fridge; we couldn't), chopped garlic, salt and pepper, and a little olive oil (lemon flavored if you have it). Toss over the salad ingredients.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mothers' Day Brunch and other uses of vegetables

Happy Mother's Day! We made brunch for my mom, including our family recipe from a village in Germany:
These steam dumplings with blueberry sauce are delicious, but you've got to get started 2-3 hours before you want to eat them because there are two rises involved. My mom loves them but doesn't want to make them herself, so it was a good choice for Mother's Day. We also had cheesy eggs, chicken italian sausage, rosemary-sundried tomato scones (homemade), Gretchen's kale and flor de jamaica salad, canteloupe, and tangerine mimosas. Not a super-vegetable heavy meal, but we did use kale and rosemary from the CSA.

Last night, we made an incredibly healthy but indulgent tasting baked pasta casserole. Each serving only has 1 oz of meat and 1 oz of pasta (measured dried), but is totally filling and cheesy and good. And, we used a ton of vegetables. Which is good, because we were hungry after hiking in Griffith Park (the pic is a flower growing out of a rock in Griffith Park).

Here's the recipe:

Becky's Super-Veggie, Cheesey, Tomatotey, Pasta Delight (8 servings)

8 oz whole wheat penne or ziti
8 oz italian sausage
3 small eggplants, sliced
1 poblano pepper, chopped, no seeds
1 humungous carrot or 2-3 normal carrots, shredded
1 onion, chopped
3 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 bunch swiss chard, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large can of chunky tomato sauce (or a regular size can of diced tomatoes, drained, and a regular size can of tomato sauce)
1/4 cup feta cheese
3/4 cup shredded asiago
1 cup shredded mozarrella
1 tbsp italian herbs, dried
4 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil

Set a saucepan of water to boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a wok or wok-like skillet and sautee poblano, onion, garlic, and carrot. In a separate pan, steam the eggplant slices until soft. After a few minutes, add the mushrooms and chard to the mixed vegetables. Continue cooking until mushrooms are cooked through. Around this time the water should be boiling. Add 8 oz whole wheat pasta to water and cook al dente. Add can of tomato sauce, dried herbs, and fresh basil to vegetables, and season with salt and pepper. Remove sausage from casing and brown in a separate skillet, then chop into small pieces. In a lasagna pan (or two small lasagna pans), put down a layer of vegetables and pasta, then a layer of mozarrella cheese and sausage, then more vegetables, and finish with a layer of feta and asiago. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Vegetables for the Week

See that? Yeah, that pile of vegetables that looks like the produce section of your neighborhood market? Yes, those are the vegetables we must eat by Wednesday at 5:00 when our next batch of vegetables arise. It consists of onions, green onions, rosemary, beets, lots and lots of carrots, lots and lots and lots of turnips, iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, turnip tops, carrot tops, chard, dandelion greens, collards, kale, rhubarb, radishes, lots of lemons, lots of tangerines, basil, tarragon, parsley, oregano, 2 poblanos, and a potato.

Let's do this thing! Let's eat vegetables!! (Any suggestions?)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Chinese Black Bean Sauce Braised Turnips, Carrots, Celery and Scallions

When we got turnips in our CSA, I admit I was a bit stumped. The only things I have ever eaten turnips in are a vegetarian gravy recipe (great) and the frozen mashed kind at my grandmother's house (blah). Last night we decided to braise them with other vegetables and have them over brown rice. It actually came out quite delicious, especially the turnips, which were soft and slightly sweet. We had it with some sushi which sort of collapsed, and decided the nori worked well with the flavors of the braised vegetables so we threw some of that in too. I failed to stir around my jar of black bean sauce and the chili oil seems to have risen to the top, because it ended up VERY spicy. Here's the recipe:

1/2 onion, sliced
1 large turnip, sliced
2 scallions, chopped
2 strips fakin' bacon (tempeh bacon)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
1 large carrot, julienned
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 tbsp Chinese black bean garlic sauce
2 cups water
1 sheet nori, ripped into small pieces
1 tbsp olive oil

In a large deep pan, sautee garlic, ginger, fakin' bacon, and onion in olive oil until aromatic. Then add the rest of the vegetables. After sauteeing a couple of minutes more, add the black bean sauce and the water and stir well. Cover and cook on medium heat for about ten minutes. Uncover and check to see how done the vegetables are. If the turnips are tender so that a fork easily piereces them, you're good. Add the nori and stir it around so it softens. Eat these vegetables as a side dish or as a main over brown rice.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Omg, so healthy!

Well, it certainly has been a healthy weekend for us. Two days in a row we have breakfasted on a soup of assorted leafy greens with poached egg, and yesterday we took radish sandwiches to the beach! I feel like a rabbit, but in a good way. On Sunday we looked up the Malibu Lagoon online and learned that there were hiking trails around and near it. So we went to the lagoon with our sandwiches and snacks, but there was no trail. After getting our feet very dirty in weird lagoon mud and watching lots of giant pelicans fly around, we decided to just walk on the beach instead. Our CSA-based fuel was radish-walnut-red leaf lettuce-mustard sandwiches and raw carrots. And we also had some pb&j and cheese and pickle sandwiches (one can't surive on radishes alone :). The vegetable sandwich was quite tasty and I think will repeated next time we hike. The rest of the radishes got braised with their greens and tossed with pasta for dinner, along with some farmer's market broccoli and mustard-panko chicken. Malibu was beautiful, but the contrast between the public and so-called private beach areas was pretty crazy. In the "private" areas (the coast can not actually be private, legally), everyone is thin, most people are white, and all the women are in bikinis. The children have surfboards and wetsuits. We saw one fully dressed woman walking purposefully with an off leash chihuaha scampering along behind her in the sand trying to keep up on its little spindly legs. In the public part of the beach, there is a more representative variety of body types and racial diversity (though it is weighted toward the white and blond, being Malibu after all). Overall, the beach was very mellow, and not crowded, and the water was actually warm. Despite my painfully sunburned shoulders, I'm glad we went.

The culinary highlight of the weekend however, was probably the least healthy -- food at El Rey de Barbacoa. To our credit, we walked two and a half miles there and two and a half miles back to get some barbacoa. Barbacoa is a very old dish that traditionally involved slowly roasting a whole animal in a put in the ground. This barbacoa was made from goat, and I don't know exactly how it was prepared but it was super soft and delicious and rich. Gretchen had a really good quesadilla on a fresh handmade tortilla, and we sampled all of the excellent salsas. We also tried a nopales salad, but concluded, as we do every time we order something with nopales, that we don't like it.

So if you have a hankering for delicious soft rich meat or fresh, thick quesadillas, you won't be disappointed at El Rey de Barbacoa at Adams and Hill. And you should call us so we can go with you :)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Chile Rellenos with Walnut-Pomegranate Sauce

Last night I made chile rellenos that used no ingredients from our CSA. I had an idea I wanted to enter in a recipe contest, but I forgot that the contest closed at 12 am EST and by the time I was ready to type in my recipes it was too late to enter! But since they came out pretty well, I thought I'd post them anyway. I made roasted poblanos with walnut-pomegranate sauce (inspired by the Persian stew), and jalapenos with coconut sauce. I originally was thinking of cornmeal-crusting the jalapenos and frying them, but when I roasted them they were too soft to do that. If you haven't roasted chiles before, it's super easy-- just put them under the broiler, turn them over when the skin blackens, then take them out when the other side is blackened. Put them in a big bowl and cover it with saran wrap, then leave it alone for 10-15 minutes. This will make it easier to peel the skin off.

Filling: Fresh mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, corn kernels, cilantro, garlic, cayenne. Stuff roasted chiles with filling and bake for 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Walnut- Pomegranate sauce: Sautee 2 cups sliced onion until soft, then add 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 cup ground walnuts, 1 cup vegetable broth, 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses, and 1/4 cup tomato sauce. Simmer until thick.

Coconut Sauce -- Reduce 1/3 cup rum over high heat, then add 1 can coconut milk, 1 tsp sugar, 1/4 cup tomato sauce, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro. Reduce to a thick sauce.

I think the best thing about this meal was the coconut sauce. It would be really good with chicken, shrimp, or something crispier (like cornmeal crusted jalapenos).

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Vegetables This Week

First, confession. We have some vegetables leftover from last week--carrots and turnips and radishes and a little bit of salad greens. In our defense, we were in Nebraska this weekend.

So up for this week:

2 bunches of radishes
dandelion greens
cabbage of some kind
red leaf lettuce
tuscan kale
beets with their greens
big fat carrots with their greens
turnips and their greens
and scallions!

So we will be eating lots of healthy leafy greens! Woo!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Seder a la CSA

Happy Pesach! We were out of town this past weekend (eating fabulous food in the Bay Area) and we neglected to cook most of our CSA vegetables from last week. Luckily, it's Passover and we needed to make some vegetable dishes for our family Seder. We had tons of greens, as well as carrots, parsnips, turnips, fresh rosemary and cilantro. My mom emailed me a recipe for a Mexican-style matzoh ball soup, apparently not expecting me to actually make it (as she clarified when we showed up at the house with cilantro matzoh balls). We used the recipe for the matzoh balls which came out great (fluffy but not too light), but the recipe for the soup sounded like a disaster so I scrapped it and made my own (it called for 1/2 cup of lime juice AND a whole cup of white vinegar-- sour!). I think this matzoh ball soup may be here to stay, there were lots of murmurs that it was an improvement over the traditional chicken soup. For the vegetables, Gretchen whipped up some bitter, leafy greens with toasted pine nuts and raisins and made a kugel from carrots, parsnips, and turnips. She rounded that out with a Morrocan carrot salad. I made my rosemary roast potatoes (see Feeding Hungry Cyclists entry) to go with the roast chicken (check out this awesome and funny-looking recipe: and rack of lamb that my parents made. My mother had chocolate dipped macaroons and other cookies on hand for dessert, and I made a passover walnut cake with a honey syrup. For those of you who aren't members of the Tribe, during passover you can't have any wheat, oats, spelt, barley, or rye (collectively, chametz, pronounced ha-mets), so this cake uses matzoh cake meal and lots of eggs instead of regular cake flour. matzoh is okay even though it is wheat because it is made carefully so that it doesn't leaven. This is of course, in addition to the normal kosher restrictions (so no BLTs on matzoh).

This is the first time Gretchen and I have decided to actually follow the passover food rules. All of the recipes in this post comply. Ashkenazi Jews traditionally also refrain from eating corn, millet, rice and legumes (kitniyot). Explanations for this include that since these items can be ground into a flour, you might think your neighbor was eating one of the forbidden grains -- or they might think that you were. So to avoid the appearance of impropriety, they are to be avoided entirely. Even worse, you might accidentally eat one of the forbidden grains thinking it was corn, millet, rice or legumes. Sephardic Jews have never avoided rice and legumes (I think corn and millet are New World so weren't really an issue). A group of reform rabbis has now issued a responsa (ruling) that it is okay for Ashkenazi Jews to eat corn, millet, rice and legumes, since the idea that we would actually confuse a bowl of rice and beans for a bowl of spelt is remote at best. See This surely is a great relief for Ashkenazi vegans, who could hardly eat anything during Passover!

Here are our Passover recipes:

Mexican Matzoh Ball Soup

Since this was pretty ad-hoc, I'll just try and describe what I did.

1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, with seeds, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans San Marzano tomatoes, chopped, and their juices
1 can vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups water
2 tbsp cumin
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp oregano
2 tsp black pepper
3 bay leaves
olive oil
chopped cilantro to garnish

Sautee onion, jalapeno and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add tomatoes, vegetable broth, bay leaves, and spices. Simmer until soup reaches desired flavor and thickness, adusting spices if you want. Serve with a matzoh ball and cilantro garnish.


This is my old standby way to eat greens, but upon a bit of research, it turns out it is also the way that Sephardic Jews eat their greens too! I was Jewish before I even knew it!

Basically, you saute the greens in some oil, and then add sherry, raisins, nuts, and some cayenne; continue to cook until the sherry is mostly reduced. This time, I was making a huge amount, and it was a combination of turnip greens, collards, and dandelion greens. They were a bit bitter, so I added some honey too.

Carrot and Turnip Kugel

I didn't plan what I was going to do before I got to the seder. I just brought our Jewish cookbooks (of which we have 3), and all of our veggies, and figured it'd all work out. So the above greens were made, and then it was on to what to do with the root vegetables. One of our cookbooks had a carrot, sweet potato, and parsnip kugel recipe, and it looked pretty good. Problem was, we only had carrots and turnips. So I made it anyway, subbing turnip and more carrot for the potato and parsnip. This recipe also had apple, matzo meal, sugar, honey, egg, nutmeg, and cinnamon. I didn't grow up with kugel, and to me, it's always a bit too sweet, but I guess that's how it's supposed to be. The turnip added an interesting background flavor.

Moroccan Carrot Salad

We had enough carrots leftover after the kugel to make more carrots too. I took some of the grated carrots, and followed the moroccan carrot salad recipe from one of our cookbooks. This was really good. It had cayenne, lemon juice, olive oil, cilantro, cumin, and a little clove. SO much better than the carrot and raisin salad of my youth. I think this was my favorite of the 3 vegetable dishes. All in all, I was happy with our vegetable offerings, though I think the family was a bit surprised at how many vegetables were coming their way. I forget we're eating so incredibly differently than some (most?) people do until I see the facial expressions of the vegetable-hating among us.

Moist Walnut Cake

Follow Arthur Schwartz's walnut cake recipe:


In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 cup honey, 1/2 cup water, a tiny pinch of cloves, and a pinch of cinnamon. Let reduce to a thin syrup. Poke holes in the top of the cake with a toothpick and pour over honey syrup so it absorbs into the cake. Garnish with strawberries or other fruit if desired.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Portabello Wellington with Walnut Pate and Wine Reduction

We have been derelict both in eating our vegetables from our CSA and in updating our blog. We have lots more greens this week, as well as parsnips and strawberries, and we still have dandelion greens and some other odds and ends left over from last week. We're going to try and use them up in a Passover dish.

But in the meantime, I've entered my portabello wellington and my smokey roast shitakes into the mushroom competition on! Here's links to the recipes:

Gretchen also made mushroom ravioli and she made the whole wheat pasta dough by hand!

Although we haven't cooked as much as we should lately we have eaten very well. Let me introduce you to Carmen, the Mistress of Masa!

We came upon Carmen making quesadillas once a long time ago on Breed Street. Every tortilla is fresh, and they were the most fabulous quesadillas we'd ever tasted. She has a really unique toasted sesame seed salsa and the quesadillas have cotija and lettuce in addition to a melty cheese. The tortilla is thicker than you'd expect, and absolutely delicious. These are some of the best things you will ever eat! Well, Carmen won the LA Street Food Fest with her quesadillas, beating out all the hip fusion food trucks. Now, she has her own little restaurant she runs with her husband called Antojitos Carmen in Boyle Heights. It has maybe eight little booths, and there are pictures of Carmen's hometown in Michoacan and her family on the walls. It's paper plates and styrofoam cups, and it's some of the best Mexican food I've ever had. Her mole enchiladas were absolutely to die for, and we had a fantastic squash blossom quesadilla as well as a huitlacoche huarache, a carne asada taco, a potato taco, pineapple agua fresca, and walnut atole. If you've never had atole, it's a comforting hot drink made with cormeal, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and at Antojitos Carmen, walnuts. Perfect for a rainy day, or any day really. Carmen's huaraches also had fantastic texture, that sort of crispy-soft-chewy-perfect huarache texture. She really knows what she's doing with masa. If you live in LA, or if you are ever in LA, you must go here. Our meal came out to $21. They clearly make this food with a lot of passion, and it's such an amazing value!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Feeding Hungry Cyclists

Our friends came over today. They were hungry, very hungry, because they had biked all the way from Venice, 15 miles, to have brunch with us.

Luckily, we were prepared.

We made oyster mushroom po' boys, rosemary-butter potatoes with truffle oil, frittata with miner's lettuce, chard, and broccoli greens, and mimosas. The CSA brought us all of the greens, and the rosemary. The mimosas were made with oranges from Becky's parents' yard!

These were all very delicious! They probably taste even better after biking 15 miles, but also tasted very good after the two mimosas that Becky and I drank while we were waiting for the bikers to arrive ;).

So how was all of this delicious food made?

Becky has been on a mushroom kick because it is MUSHROOM WEEK on food 52. We have a bazillion mushrooms in our house, and she has been cooking up a mushroom storm. The po' boys are made like this:

First, coat the oyster mushrooms in egg, and then dip in a cornmeal-ancho chili powder and salt mixture. Think about deep-frying them, but then talk yourself out of it and decide to bake them at high heat instead (healthy, right?). Put them on a well greased pan, and cook at 450 degrees for a bit. Maybe 10 minutes? Until they are brown and crispy to the touch. (Full recipe here: Then make the sauce: garlic aoili, horseradish, mustard, lemon juice, cayenne, chopped celery, and scallion. After you grill the bread, spread on some sauce and assemble the sandwich. We had the mushrooms with tomato, pickle, and grilled broccoli greens. YUM.

I also made a frittata. I wanted to make waffles, but that was too carby. I wanted mimosas, and so the compromise had to be no waffles. Yay for health!! So the frittata. It's another glorious Mark Bittman creation. Take a yummy bad-for-you thing and make it a yummy good-for-you thing by adding more vegetables than you ever thought possible. So, this was 6+ cups of chopped greens. Mine was all of the greens from 2 weeks ago that were left in our fridge, since we have a whole new bag of stuff from this week to get through too. This was Miner's lettuce, broccoli greens, a few stray dandelion greens, and chard. I also threw in a bunch of scallions. These were cooked in a pan 'til wilted and browning, add some basil and then I threw on some tempeh bacon. I then scrambled 4 eggs with some parmesan in a bowl. You pour the eggs over the frittata and tilt the pan to spread it out. Then you cook over low heat, for about 10 minutes 'til the eggs are set. Yum yum yum. And after you eat it you've probably had more dark green leafy vegetables than the average American eats in a year.

Rosemary butter potatoes. That sounds good right? Well how about if you ALSO put on some TRUFFLE OIL? Yes. That makes it even better.

These are really good. First, peel and chop up the potatoes that are not rotting in your fridge. (Throw away the icky one that is). Then put them in a big salad bowl and drizzle a bunch of olive oil on the top. Mix with your hands, adding salt all along the way. Then, bake at 450 on lightly oiled lasagna pan, or whatever pan suits your fancy, until they are somewhat brown. 30 minutes, or less? or more. Then take your tiniest saucepan (ours is from my grandma's 1940s kitchen!), and put in 2 tbls. of butter, a tbls of crushed garlic, and a tbls of chopped rosemary. Heat it 'til the garlic is slightly brown. It will smell really good. Take the potatoes out, pour the butter over, and toss to coat. Put them back in the oven? Or not. Depends on how hungry you are. Just before serving, drizzle black truffle oil over !!! Blow everyone's mind.

Juice a shit-ton of oranges. Maybe 10? Enough to get 2 cups of juice. Mix with sparkling wine, cava or prosecco, usually better quality for the price than champagne. More wine than juice. Drink at least 2 of them before your guests arrive. Be a very charming hostess.

Yay! So that was one meal. What else did we cook this weekend, and then consume all of, leaving us with no leftovers for Monday lunch? Let's make a little list, shall we?

1. Roast shiitake mushrooms, marinated in garlic, ginger, soy sauce, mirin, and liquid smoke.
2. Portobello wellington with walnut pate (portobello mushroom smeared with walnut pate, wrapped in puff pastry and baked). P.S. There are 18 servings in a package of puff pastry. not 2.
3. Salad! We had a riff on this salad more than once this weekend: walnut oil mixed with lemon juice = dressing. Pour over cheddar, apples (sliced on the mandoline!!), and salad greens from the CSA. We call it charoset salad. Just in time for pesach.
4. Garlic, Marinated tofu, and soba noodles with peanut sauce (mix peanut butter with soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, sesame oil), basil, and lemon. This was our "easy" dinner.
5. Marinara sauce (this we do actually have left, because Becky made it tonight at 9 p.m., just 'cause we need it for the homemade ravioli we will be making later). 4 minced garlic cloves, large can of crushed San Marzano tomatoes, handful of chopped fresh oregano from CSA, pinch of red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper.

We ate out for dinner Friday night, and had a pre-dinner-dinner Saturday night. Yes. We are crazy. We eat well, though.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Celeriac and Apple Salad and Gumbo Zherbes

Last night, we had two successful uses of CSA veggies, a celeriac (celery root) and apple salad and gumbo z'herbes, a version of gumbo eaten during Lent. The salad is simple and refreshing, and the gumbo is a good way to use carrot tops and other greens. Here's the recipes:

Celeriac and Apple Salad

1 celery root bulb, peeled

1 apple (on the sweet side)

1+ tbsp walnut oil

1 tbsp lemon juice

1/4 cup chopped mint

On a mandoline, thinly slice the celeriac and apple. Whisk together the walnut oil and lemon juice and pour over celeriac and apple. Toss with chopped fresh mint. This was really good, and we can't stop thinking about it!

The Gumbo Z'herbes is a Mark Bittman recipe from his new Food Matters cookbook, but with a few modifications. You make a roux, and get it nice and dark, and then add onions, herbs (fresh oregano, dried thyme, and cayenne), celery, peppers (except I used celery root, and no peppers :(). After those soften, you add bitter greens, vegetable stock and potato; we used dandelion greens and carrot tops. and some other unidentifiable green from the vegetable drawer, from last week's basket. The recipe also called for zucchini, but we didn't have any. After the vegetables are cooked through, you serve over brown rice. It felt very healthy, and also was tasty.

The Spice Table

Well, we picked up our CSA Wednesday and we haven't really taken account of what is in the bag yet. But we did go to a really good restaurant! The Spice Table in Little Tokyo ( is a new Vietnamese-Singaporeanrestaurant by one of the chefs from Pizzeria Mozza. The spaceis very romantic, and the service is excellent. It's in an old brickbuilding and they have created hanging ceiling lights from old bird cages. There is a long bar in the front room, and then two small dining rooms. Here's what we had: battered & fried cauliflower, sambal potatoes (spiced), grilled bok choy and mushrooms, baugette, gem lettuce salad with mint and grapefruit, eggplant with chile sauce, and laksa (coconut-based noodle soup with shrimp and fishy flavors). The chile sauce on the eggplant was thick and very hot and tasted of cumin, and the cauliflower came with a fish-sauce based dipping sauce. The bok choy and mushrooms tasted a little of wood smoke, and the bok choy was crispy on the edges. When we left, we noticed that there was a grill behind the bar with burning wood as its heat source. My favorite dish was actually the gem lettuce salad. I love salad, but I don't like the salads I used to like. I used to be perfectly happy to select five items out of choices of kidney beans, corn, beets, onions, peas, etc, and have them tossed with a standard dressing -- the Manhattan cheap tossed salad. Now those salads totally gross me out -- they are always too heavily dressed and the textures of the toppings are mushy and unappealing. The gem lettuce salad, on the other hand, was very refreshing, I think largely because of the quality of the grapefruit and the lettuce. Fresh mint brings salads to another level too. Whatever it was dressed with was very, very simple -- lemon juice and a little olive oil maybe? This is the kind of salad I'm going to try to make at home this week from our CSA stuff -- simple, refreshing, light, and flavorful.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Our Visit to Tierra Miguel Farm

This weekend, we did something neither of us had ever done before. We went to the source of our food to see where it grows. The farm we get our CSA boxes from, Tierra Miguel, had their monthly open house this Saturday and we made the trip down to their land northeast of San Diego to check it out. Driving down the 60 we got stuck in traffic several times and passed two reservations and several casinos on the way to the farm. It was funny to think that our vegetables make the same journey every week. When we arrived, we saw the chickens, from whom we will soon get eggs, scampering about in their tented enclosure. They can range outside of the structure into a sort of a pen but they didn't want to. Then, we got a farm tour. Organic farming is a lot of work! The weeding, which there is a ton of, is done by hand at Tierra Miguel. One of their other challenges is dealing with squirrels and with rodents in general. One strategy is to encourage an owl to live on the farm which will prey on rodents. One of the pics is of the owl house they built. The second strategy is apparently a biodynamic practice. You shoot or otherwise kill a squirrel, then skin it, then you grind up the skin and you boil it. The resulting substance is put down the squirrel holes to discourage them from mating. Over four years this is supposed to reduce the squirrel population. Another biodynamic strategy we learned about involves the horn of a lactating cow. You take the horn of a lactating cow and you bury it, then you dig it up and pulverize it into a kettle (cauldron?) of boiling water. You stir the water in a particular way to create a vortex. Then you go around the farm and sprinkle the cow-horn liquid on the plants to encourage their growth.

I had no idea biodynamic farming and witchcraft had so much in common, or that in some sense, our strawberries were not quite vegetarian -- they had been sprinkled with lactating cow horn water. I must say though, those strawberries are the best I've ever had!

We got to pet the farm dog and the farmers made pizza in a brick oven outdoors at the end of the tour for the potluck dinner. Tierra Miguel has lots of land they are not yet cultivating, some of which may be available to Somali immigrant farmers they are currently working with at a community garden in San Diego. They're also working with the local school district (and selling them broccoli), and doing lots of other interesting projects.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Risotto and Roasted Roots, FTW!

Wow, I feel like I've been cooking like a maniac and yet somehow it was the day before our new CSA delivery and we still hadn't finished all of our vegetables. From last weeks CSA, we still had carrots, radishes, chard, dandelion greens miner's lettuce, and scallions, and from our last farmer's market trip we had wild arugula and celeriac. Last night Gretchen roasted the carrots and parsnips and I made a risotto with sundried tomatoes, chard, dandelion greens, and garlic jack cheese and a salad of carrot greens, arugula, and miner's lettuce. The carrots were roasted with ginger and garlic and the parsnips were dressed with honey, malt vinegar, and mustard. They were amazing! Wow. The risotto came out excellent too. Risotto is so easy, I don't know why I don't make it all the time. I think I will from now on. The salad was OK, it turns out carrot greens are tastier cooked I think. Here's some recipes:

Risotto with Sundried Tomatoes and Greens
(serves 6)

2 cups arborio rice
5 cups vegetable or chicken broth (we use "Better than Chicken")
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped sundried tomatoes in olive oil
1/4 cup tomato sauce
2 cups mixed chopped chard and dandelion greens
1/2 to 1 cup white wine
3 tbsp butter, 1tbsp walnut oil or olive oil
1 cup grated garlic jack cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, melt 2 tbsp butter and sautee red onions for a couple of minutes. Add arborio rice and sautee another couple of minutes, then add greens, mix around, and sautee another minute.

Pour in about half a cup of white wine. When it seems to have mostly cooked off, start adding broth. Add about a half a cup or a cup at a time and stir fairly constantly. When the liquid is mostly absorbed, add more. You can keep the heat at medium. When you have about a cup of broth left to add, add the sundried tomatoes and tomato sauce.

When the rice has a soft, creamy texture, mix in grated jack cheese and parmesan, another tablespoon of butter, and a drizzle of walnut or olive oil. Add lots of black pepper and stir to make sure every part of the risotto is seasoned.

Roasted Carrots with Ginger

1. Clean the carrots, and remove the tops. Put them on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for awhile, maybe 20 minutes? Until they are slightly browned, and soft.

2. Meanwhile, mix together 1/4 cup chopped scallions, 2 tbls. chopped ginger, 1/2 a chopped jalapeño, 1 tbls. chopped garlic, and 2-3 tbls oil.

3. After the carrots are finished, pour the scallion-ginger mixture over the carrots, and toss to coat. Put them back in the oven for a couple minutes to slightly cook the ginger and garlic.

Roasted Parsnips
1. Same as step 1 for the carrots, but with parsnips. Be a bit more careful in the roasting, since the parsnip tips have a tendency to burn.

2. Mix together malt vinegar (2 tblsish), honey (1 tblsish), and mustard (1-2 tsp). I used tangerine habañero mustard, but any kind would do.

3. Same as step 3 for the carrots, but with parsnips and this mixture instead.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Rosemary Tomato Scones Fit for a Duchess

In case you were wondering, the Duchess of Squirrel is Gretchen's alter-ego. Both Gretchen and her noble alter-ego were out of town at a conference for the last few days and I missed her, so I decided to make her brunch. I've had a hankering to work with dough lately so I made rosemary-tomato scones from the Vegan Brunch Cookbook. We had half a can of tomato sauce left over which went into them, and I added sundried tomatoes and used up a bunch of fresh rosemary. They came out really well! There's nothing better than a fresh baked scone on Sunday morning.

To go with that I briefly boiled our broccolini and dressed it with a simple vinagrette from a Barefoot Contessa recipe -- olive oil, garlic, balsamic vinegar, and dijon mustard. I added some crushed red pepper. They were tasty, and it was such a small amount of vinagrette it was just sort of a hint of added flavor on top of the fresh vegetable flavor. I also made scrambled eggs with a little bit of garlic jack cheese we picked up at the farmer's market in Santa Monica yesterday.


Duchess of Squirrel here: Last night, I wanted to use up some of last week's CSA before moving on to this week's, and we had some dandelion greens hanging around. I found an Alice Waters recipe that was basically greens (she suggested kale) and sausage with pasta. We didn't have sausage, but we did have some fennel fronds left over from last week as well, so I decided to just improvise a bit without the sausage, since sausage has some fennel flavor. I looked up a sausage recipe in a vegan cookbook I have, and started to saute onion in olive oil with fresh rosemary (CSA), dried thyme and fennel, and red pepper flakes. After the onions softened, I threw in the dandelion greens and fennel fronds with water, and let that cook down. Meanwhile, I cooked up the whole wheat pasta and then mixed it in with the greens. I topped the dish with walnut oil, parmesan, and lemon zest.

This was quite yummy, though the fennel fronds texture was a bit odd. It grew on us though. I'd recommend it, esp. if you don't have fennel fronds to use up. :D

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

In the Box This Week

Broccoli florets (I think, they look like the ends of broccoli rabe but no leaves, and there is a little white flower), radishes, carrots, parsnips, dandelion greens, rosemary, miner's lettuce, dill, chard, and scallions.

I am really excited that we have parsnips. I love parsnips, and I have a recipe for parsnip fries with honey vinaigrette I've been wanting to try. I'm excited about broccoli florets too, if that is indeed what they are. But I have to admit I am getting tired of miner's lettuce, dill, and carrots. Amazingly, I'm not tired of rosemary yet even though we've been getting a bunch every week since December. I read that if you put it in your bath water it increases your circulation (by what mechanism, I don't know but at least it smells good). That may be the rosemary's fate this week.

As much as the carrots from Tierra Miguel are far superior to supermarket, how many carrots can you eat? The only carrot salad I like is a dish called "Korean carrot salad" served in Russia and central Asia. According to the New York Times, it is so named because its culinary origins are in the mass deportation of ethnic Koreans from the eastern Soviet Union to the western Soviet Union. ( It has a lot of garlic and chili pepper. Carrots are so sweet already I don't really like pairing them with raisins or other sweet ingredients. I remember the carrot salad of my youth being some mix of shredded carrots, raisins, and sweetened yogurt (or was it mayonnaise?). Not a fond memory. So I will probably make Korean carrot salad but there are still carrots from last week, and that's too many damn carrots for one salad. This might be an excuse to make the carrot timbale recipe from one of my British vegetarian cookbooks...or maybe carrot ice cream?

The dill I just don't know what to do with. I'm really sick of dill. And I don't want to take a bath with it. If I had more time on my hands I'd use it to pickle something and not open the jar until we're in a different season and I'm not sick of dill anymore. I suppose I could infuse vodka with it and on some crazy night drink shots of it with smoked fish and black bread. That was always fun in law school.