Friday, July 16, 2010

How I Prepare Chard


1 bunch of chard
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame seeds

STEP 1 - Remove the stems from the greens; the easiest way to do this is fold the leaf in half first. Both the stems and the greens are edible, but they need to be cooked separately.

STEP 2 - Cut the stems into lengths about an inch and a half long. Boil them in salty water (a tablespoon or two of salt in two or three cups of water - don't worry, you won't be eating this much salt) for about 3-5 minutes. Strain and Rinse thoroughly to remove the salt water.

STEP 3 - Coarsely chop greens crosswise into strips about 3/4 inch wide. Blanch and Shock: Submerse in boiling water (no salt this time) for about 30 seconds then immediately strain and rinse with very cold water to stop the cooking.

STEP 4 - In a skillet on medium heat, heat olive oil, red wine vinegar, and soy sauce. Add sesame seeds and fry them for half a minute or so. Then add stems and saute them for a couple minutes until they're cooked through. Turn off the heat and add the greens. Stir them until they've heated up.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

What's in the Box

Week Six:

Siletz Tomato
Yellow Potatoes
Fava Beans
Baby Onions
Summer Squash

Hey... What's the cat doing in the picture...

He's after the fennel!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Cucumber Gimlet


1 cucumber
1 oz. gin
1 tsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp simple syrup

STEP 1 - Remove one thin slice from the cucumber, and set it aside for garnish.

STEP 2 - Peel the rest of the cucumber, chop it into large chunks, blend them in a blender until they are liquified.

STEP 3 - Strain the puree to remove the pulp from the juice. One regular cucumber usually yields two or three ounces of juice. It takes two ounces (1/4 cup) for each cocktail.

STEP 4 - In a shaker cup with ice, mix 1 shot of gin, 2 shots of cuke juice, 1 tsp of fresh lime juice, and 1 tsp of simple syrup. Stir and strain into a chilled coctail glass and garnish.

TIP - Like all martini style cocktails, it's important to keep everything as cold as possible because the drink isn't served over ice. Be sure to chill the glass. You can do this by putting ice water in it while you're preparing the cocktail, or, if you're planning ahead enough, you can put the glass in the freezer hours ahead of time. I also store the gin in the freezer.

ANOTHER TIP - It's more labor intensive than most cocktails, and you might not want to just make one at a time. Try juicing several cucumbers at once and serving them to friends at a party.

YET ANOTHER TIP - This cocktail is less alcoholic than most martini style cocktails, but don't be tempted to add more gin; the flavor of the cuke juice is already subtle, and would be overwhelmed by more gin.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

What's in the Box

Week Five:

Pink Fingerling Potatoes
Summer Squash
Walla Walla Onion

PLUS: A bottle of Pinot Noir

Friday, July 2, 2010

Prepping Fava Beans

Until I first got these in a CSA box, I had never seen a fava bean before. I didn't know what to expect, so I followed the instructions in the CSA newsletter:

First I removed the beans from their pods. The pods were thick and lined with a coat of soft fuzz.

Then I boiled the beans for about a minute and rinsed them in cold water. The thick papery shells slid off easily.

After all the beans were shelled, I was surprised how little food there was compared to the amount of compost generated and the amount of work required.

The upside is that the beans are very tasty! They're rich and hearty; they remind me of edamame. I'm sure I could find plenty of uses for these beans if I search, but I'm happy just to add a little salt to them and snack on them as is.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

What's in the Box

Week Four:

Fingerling Potatoes
Garlic Scapes
Fava Beans
Black Kale
Walla Walla Onion

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fennel Risotto


1 Fennel Bulb
1/4 Onion
1 or 2 Cloves of Garlic
1 T Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Arborio Rice
2 T White Wine
4 Cups Broth
Black Pepper and Parmesan to taste

STEP 1 - Cut the fronds and base from the bulb. Quarter, and slice off the tough core at the bottom of the bulb. Chop into thin slices.

If you taste a piece of fennel you will notice that it has a strong licorice flavor. This made me a little nervous at first, but I discovered that the flavor mellows significantly when cooked.

STEP 2 - Heat the broth to not-quite-boiling. The traditional way is to use two pots on two burners, one for the broth and one for the rice. What I do is heat the broth in a Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave.

You won't use all 4 cups of the broth, but it's better to have too much than not enough. Also be aware that the broth will be a very prominent flavor in the final product, so be sure you use a broth you like.

STEP 3 - Dice a quarter onion and press a clove or two of garlic. Saute in a saucepan with a tablespoon of olive oil for a few minutes until the onion is clear. Add the fennel and saute a few minutes more until it's soft. Finally, add the arborio and stir it in until it's coated.

Arborio is a special type of starchy rice. It can be found in any grocery store. It's important to use this type and not substitute with "regular" rice.

STEP 4 - Pour in about 2 tablespoons of white wine. This picture is misleading, I'm not pouring the whole glass of wine in. I'm only splashing in a tablespoon or two - I'm drinking the rest.

STEP 5 - If your using the traditional two pot method, ladle a cup or so of hot broth on to the rice and stir constantly. If you're using the microwave method, pour a cup of hot broth from the Pyrex.

Keep stirring until the liquid evaporates and the mixture starts to thicken (about 4 minutes). Add more hot broth and continue stirring. Keep adding hot broth a half cup at a time every few minutes as the mixture thickens. You may need to put the Pyrex back in the microwave a few times to make sure the broth stays almost boiling.

After about 16 minutes or so, the rice will start to release its starch and the broth will begin to get creamy. At this point, take a small bite of the rice to see if it's "al dente". If not, add more broth, stir until thick, and taste again. Repeat this as often as necessary. I find the whole process usually takes a total 22-24 minutes from when I first add the broth.

Keep in mind that the risotto continues to cook a little after it's removed from the heat, so remove it from the heat just a bit before. Also, it thickens as it cools, so be sure that it's just a little bit too saucey when you finish.

Once done, add salt and pepper to taste. Lots of risotto recipes say to stir in cheese or cream at this point. I find the risotto creamy enough as is, so I just add a little parmesan on top.