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Monday, July 23, 2012

Confetti Cabbage Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing

One more recipe from the dishes I made at Blooming Glen Farm a couple of weeks ago.  This was probably the most popular of the dishes I made--and my favorite of the lot. 

If you're looking for a twist on the standard cole slaw, this is the recipe for you!  Enjoy!

Confetti Cabbage Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing from America’s Test Kitchen
Serves 6

1 lb red or green cabbage (about ½ medium head), shredded (about 6 cups)
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
2 Tbsp smooth peanut butter
2 Tbsp peanut oil
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp honey
2 med garlic cloves, minced or pressed (about 2 tsp)
1 ½ Tbsp fresh ginger, minced or grated
½ jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed
4 med radishes, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
4 scallions, sliced thin

1.      Toss cabbage and carrot with 1 tsp salt in a colander set over a medium bowl.  Let stand until the cabbage wilts, at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours.  Rinse the cabbage and carrot under cold running water (or in a large bowl of ice water if serving immediately).  Press, but do not squeeze, to drain; pat dry with paper towels.

2.      Process the peanut butter, oil, vinegar, soy sauce, honey, garlic, ginger and jalapeno in a food processor until smooth.  Combine the cabbage, carrots, radishes, scallions and dressing in a medium bowl; toss to coat.  Season with salt to taste.  Cover and refrigerate; serve chilled.  (Can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Green Beans Amandine

String beans are one of the true flavors of summer (along with tomatoes, in my estimation).  Fresh picked beans just taste so, well, fresh. 

So when I cook them, I don't like to do too much to them--or cook them too long.  I want simple flavors that will bring out the great taste of the beans and cook them to "crisp-tender".

This recipe is simple and delicious and highlights the fresh flavor of the beans.  Make them tonight!  I mean it!

Green Beans Amandine from America’s Test Kitchen
Serves 8

1/3 cup sliced almonds
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tsp lemon juice
2 lb green beans, trimmed

1.      Toast almonds in a large skillet over medium-low heat, stirring often, until just golden, about 6 min.  Add the butter and cook, stirring constantly, until the butter is golden brown and has a nutty aroma, about 3 min.  Transfer the almond mixture to a bowl and stir in the lemon juice.

2.      Add the beans, ½ cup water and ½ tsp salt to the now-empty skillet.  Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the beans are nearly tender, 8-10 min.  Remove the lid and cook over medium-high heat until the liquid evaporates, 3-5 min.  Off the heat, add the reserved almond mixture to the skillet and toss to combine.  Season with salt to taste and serve.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Grilled New Potatoes and Onions

I admit that I'm not a huge potato fan.  I mean, they're fine--I eat them.  They're just not one of my favorites.

Now, when you can get fresh, small new potatoes--red- or otherwise skinned--that's a different story.  They're so creamy and buttery when they're young like that, you can't help by like them.

Here's an easy way to make some new potatoes while you have the grill heated up.  The recipe calls for parboiling them, but to speed things up a little bit, I've microwaved them (on high for 3 minutes and then 1 minute intervals after that until softened). 

Grilled New Potatoes and Onions adapted from Hot and Sticky BBQ by Ted Reader
Serves 6-8

1 lb new potatoes
1 lb sweet onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tsp cracked black pepper
Salt to taste

1.      Boil potatoes in a large pot of salted water for 10-12 min or until just tender.  Drain, cool under cold water and pat dry.  Cut in half.

2.      Slice onions into ½” slices.

3.      Preheat grill to medium-high.

4.      In a large bowl, toss together, potato halves, onion slices, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, rosemary, pepper and salt.  Let sit for about 5 minutes.

5.      Grill potatoes and onions 10-12 minutes or until hot and slightly charred.

6.      Chop into bite-sized pieces and dress with marinade before serving.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Grilled Marinated Fennel

My son, Jake, loves fennel.  I can give him a bowl of thinly sliced fennel bulb and he'll eat it like popcorn.  It's good for you and versatile. 

But for some, it can be a little confusing how to use this licorice-flavored veggie.  I like it raw in a salad.  Or use it in any kind of saute to add a little unique flavor.  Roasting it brings out the sweetness and makes for a great side dish.

I really love it marinated and grilled like in the following recipe that I made at Blooming Glen Farm last week.  It's easy and is a great accompaniment to any kind of grilled meat, poultry or fish.  Give it a try!

Grilled Fennel from The Barbecue! Bible by Steven Raichlen
Serves 4

4 small or 2 large fennel bulbs (1 ½-2 lbs)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 small shallots, minced
3 Tbsp fresh tarragon or basil, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

1.      Cut the stalks and outside leaves off the fennel and reserve for another use.  Cut each bulb lengthwise into ½”-wide slices through the narrow side.

2.      Combine the oil, vinegar, honey, garlic, shallots and tarragon in a large nonreactive bowl and whisk to mix.  Add the fennel and toss to coat.  Cover and let marinate for 2 hours, not necessarily in the refrigerator.

3.      Preheat grill to high.

4.      When ready to cook, remove the fennel slices, arrange on the hot grate and grill, turning with tongs until just tender, 8-16 min in all, seasoning with salt and pepper.  Toss the grilled fennel with any remaining marinade and serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pasta with Greens and Beans

Last week, I was fortunate to cook some dishes at Blooming Glen Farm using some of the great produce that they were offering in that week's share.  It's always fun doing these demos--cooking for folks who really enjoy good food, talking with people who appreciate the wonderful fresh local ingredients, giving them some ideas of how to use their goodies.

There were a lot of requests for recipes, so I thought I'd put them out over the next several days.

First a great way to use greens (I used chard, but it could be kale, collards, whatever).  This is a pasta dish that's really good for you and a complete meal in one dish.

Pasta with Beans and Greens from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites

Serves 4-6
Want to make it a little bit less healthy, but even more tasty?  How about adding a little bit of cooked bacon and/or some grated Parmesan before serving?

1 cup onions, chopped
5-6 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 tsp olive oil
1 lb fresh greens, rinsed and chopped
3 cups cooked Roman, pinto, kidney or pink beans (or 2 15-oz cans, drained)
½ cup basil, finely chopped
1 lb short chunky pasta (ditalini, tubetti or orecchiette, for example)
Salt & pepper to taste
Juice of 1 lemon

1.      Bring a large covered pot of water to boil for cooking the pasta

2.      Meanwhile, in a large skillet or saucepan over low heat, sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil until golden, about 10 min.  Add the greens and 1 cup of water.  Increase heat to medium, cover, and cook for 5 min.  Add the beans and basil and continue to cook for 5 min.  Using a potato masher, mash some of the beans in the pan; add more water if the sauce is too thick.

3.      Meanwhile, when the water comes to a boil, add the pasta, stir, and cover until water comes to a boil.  Stir the pasta and cook, uncovered, until al dente.  Drain the pasta and toss with the beans and greens.  Add salt and pepper to taste and squeeze on some of the lemon juice.  Serve immediately.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Fruit & Veggies

Yet another study shows that most Americans don't eat the amount of fruits and vegetables that we should.  Most people, according to the survey, eat less than half of what the recommendations are.  The typical person eats about 1 cup of vegetables a day and just under a half cup of fruits.  (I would have thought it was the other way around.)  This, by the way, includes not-as-healthy veggies like potatoes (not French fries). 

Young children and their parents seem to be getting the idea--their intake of fruits and veggies are climbing.  But teens and the elderly tend to eat less. 

This information comes from a USA Today article that does a good idea of explaining about how it's actually fairly easy to eat the recommended amount of these foods.  One suggestion is to fill at least half your plate with fruits and veggies. 

Also, one of the experts quoted in the article says:
[E]very little bit counts: raisins in cereal, frozen berries in smoothies, vegetables in soup, tomato sauce on spaghetti, beans in chili, veggies on sandwiches, 100% fruit juices.
In general, one cup of raw or cooked vegetables or vegetable juice, or two cups of raw leafy greens, counts as one cup from the vegetable group. One cup (or one piece) of fruit or 100% fruit juice, or half a cup of dried fruit, is considered one cup from the fruit group. So if you eat an apple or banana, that counts as one cup of fruit for the day; a medium side salad could equal about one cup of vegetables.

My suggestion: Join a CSA!  Since we've joined Blooming Glen Farm, we eat way more veggies than we ever have before.  And there's not much better than fresh produce grown within a mile of home.  Or go to farmers' markets and buy local fruits--it's almost peach time!

Oh, by the way.  If you read the article, scroll down to the comments.  Some are incredibly idiotic and entertaining.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Colonial Food

With Independence Day tomorrow, I thought it might be interesting to look at the food that sustained the Founding Fathers as they sweated it out in Independence Hall, creating our great nation.  As you would expect, meals in the 18th Century were quite different than we know them today.  There really was no "typical" Colonial Era meal--it depended on the person's wealth, what region they were living in, whether they were in an urban or rural area and what time of the year it happened to be.

Inside the steamy State House.
In general, our 3 square meals didn't exist in Colonial times.  Breakfast was eaten early if you were poor (usually after even earlier chores) and later if you were rich (after sleeping in).  On farms and frontier settlements, it usually consisted of cider or beer and some porridge that cooked all night.  In towns, a mug of cider or beer accompanied cornmeal mush with molasses (often followed by more cider or beer).  Southern poor would often eat cold turkey (washed down with--you guessed it--cider or beer).  In the Northeast, breads, cold meats and fruit pies were part of the menu.  Coastal areas would have lots of local fish, as you might expect.  Of course, in Colonial Bucks County, things like scrapple and fried sweetcakes were popular.

Colonial Americans didn't have a meal called "lunch".  Instead, "dinner" was served in the early afternoon and was the big, sustaining meal of the day.  Poor families often ate from "trenchers"--pieces of stale bread that were used as plates.  Stews, often of pork, corn and cabbage, would be ladled onto the trencher.  If the bread softened up enough, it would be eaten.  If not, it was given to the animals.  More affluent families would have menus made of meats, meat puddings and pies, fruits, pancakes and fritters, pickles and soups.  Desserts finished the meal--fruits, custards and tarts.

A meal at the time of day when we eat dinner was not always eaten.  "Supper" in Colonial times, was a brief meal--sometimes not long before bedtime, if at all--made up of leftovers or gruel (oats, cornmeal or other grains boiled with water).  Some sort of alcoholic beverage was almost always served.  In the South, egg dishes were popular and in New England, salt-roasted potatoes became a staple.

The still "genteel" City Tavern.
Although families did use big meals as part of celebrations as we do, they did not go out to eat for the fun of it.  Most taverns were not known for good food and most of the people who ate there were travelers who needed something to eat, some spirits to drink and some company.

Since many of the Continental Congress were far from home during their time in Philly, the tavern was home to these men while they served in Congress.  Luckily for them, Philadelphia was probably the most culinarily advanced city in the Colonies.  English, French and West Indian influences led to a variety of food choices.  Philadelphia pastries and other confections--including ice cream--were known to be the best in America.  Taverns thrived and markets were full of rare items brought in through the busiest port in the New World.

Philly's City Tavern, still serving Colonial fare today, was known as THE place to be for members of Congress.  In David McCullough's book, John Adams, he writes: "Adams, recording his first arrival in Philadelphia in August 1774, had written that 'dirty, dusty, and fatigued as we were, we could not resist the importunity to go to the [City] Tavern,' which, he decided, must be the most genteel place of its kind in all the colonies."  A few days later, Adams met George Washington while dining there.  Without good food and drink, who knows what would have happened all those years ago in the State House?  It's awfully hard to start a country on an empty stomach!

Have a fun and safe holiday!

Monday, July 2, 2012

You Made What?

Want an interesing and tasty dessert?  How about Avocado and Coconut Ice Cream?

I know is sounds weird.  And in some ways, it is a little weird.  But it's pretty darn yummy and is a great way to cool off on these oppressively hot days.

I saw Pati Jinich make it on her PBS show, Pati's Mexican Table.  (I posted a picture of a great flank steak sandwich from the same episode on Facebook a while back.)  It looked like something to try.

There's not much to it and that's what makes it so good.  The flavors of all the ingredients come through.  Keep in mind that it's not a very sweet dessert (I probably would have increased the amount of sugar slightly--as well as increase the amount of lime juice).  The consistency is really wonderful--extremely smooth and creamy. 

So give it a try!  Even if you aren't an avocado fan, you'll like it!

Avocado & Coconut Ice Cream (Helado de Aguacate y Coco) from Pati's Mexican Table
Serves 6

3 large ripe Hass avocados, about 2 lbs, halved, pitted, pulp scooped out (about 3 cups)
2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice (or more to taste)
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
3/4 cups sugar (or more to taste)
  1. Cut the avocados in half, remove the pit and scoop out the pulp.  Cut the pulp into chunks and place in a blender or food processor.  Add coconut milk, sugar and lime juice.  Puree until smooth.
  2. Chill mixture in refrigerator for at least an hour.
  3. Process the puree in an ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer's instructions.  When finished, place in the freezer for a couple of hours to firm up.  If you don't have an ice cream maker, you can serve it as a cold mousse or just freeze it as is and serve it as ice cream, but it will be a little less creamy and smooth.
  4. Garnish with lightly toasted shredded coconut, almonds, pine nuts or pistachios.