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.