Saturday, July 31, 2010

Leaves for Breakfast: Sauteed Kale with Egg and Toast

I am, I have to admit, a little stumped about kale.

First of all, it's one of those hippie vegetables. (Apologies if you are a kale-lover and/or a hippie. Nothing wrong with either one.) But I've always kind of had the impression that kale doesn't actually taste good, and that you eat it because you're a crazy health nut who drinks Smoothies of Unnatural Color and dines daily on wheat germ and hemp protein powder.

Second of all, I think it's related to cabbage, and I harbor a deep suspicion of cabbage dating back to an elementary school science pH experiment with boiled cabbage juice, vinegar, and baking soda.

Thirdly, having conquered my persistent conviction that any kale, once placed in a grocery basket, would sprout wheat germ arms and hemp protein legs when I wasn't looking, I bought some and brought it home, contemplated its pretty leaves, gazed at it searchingly, surfed online recipes, but found nothing particularly inspirational to do with it. We made it for dinner last night, but the non-kale ingredients outshone the kale and would have been better with a different leafy green. So, stumped and still working on it.

In the meantime, however, I had extra chopped kale in the fridge this morning, and threw together a breakfast that turned out to be surprisingly delicious and not very complicated to make. Which doesn't quite count as conquering the kale, since I set out to cook it for dinner, but does convince me that it has potential.

2 eggs, preferably from chickens who get to run around eating grass and things
2 slices of whole grain, not-too-many-ingredient bread, toasted
Olive oil
2-3 large handfuls of chopped red kale, rinsed well and dried in a salad spinner
1 large clove garlic, pressed
Salt, freshly ground black pepper, ñora pepper if you have it

Boil the eggs for 6 minutes or a few seconds longer (this will give you medium-boiled eggs, with a soft yolk but cooked white -- you could boil shorter or longer if you like, or poach them). Run under cold water for a few seconds and peel.

Meanwhile, saute the garlic with some olive oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add the kale, cook for 2-3 minutes or until just wilted, and toss in some salt and pepper.

Spoon the kale over each piece of toast and top with an egg, then slice the egg into quarters, lengthwise, and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

Serves 2.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Quick Breakfast: Fruit with Cereal

I often eat cereal for breakfast on weekdays, but reading In Defense of Food got me wondering what exactly was in my various favorite cereals, almost all of which make heart-healthy or low-fat or other sorts of health claims. The answer? Many, many things I can't pronounce, that my great-great-grandmother would certainly not have recognized, and that fail just about every other food rule you could throw at it. So then I tried getting cereals that have relatively few ingredients, all pronounceable, without high fructose corn syrup, and without sugar as one of the first few ingredients. Except these tend to be dense and unsweet and not so tasty.

The answer, at least in the summertime? Fruit with cereal, instead of cereal with fruit. That way, most of it is a whole food, and the relatively small amount of cereal can be a decidedly unsweet, whole-grainy sort  of affair, which ends up bringing a pleasant crunch to the whole thing (and the lack of sweetness becomes a plus, because it doesn't overwhelm the sweetness of the fruit). Peel a peach, or slice a handful of strawberries, and toss into a bowl with a little granola or some multigrain flakes and a splash of pastured milk.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Beluga Lentils with Mushrooms and Paprika

I came across this recipe and blog today, searching for something (probably lentil recipes, go figure), and thought it looked delicious enough to try. Plus, it calls for cherry tomatoes, and I had a basket sitting on the counter getting perilously close to going all mushy. Plus #2, he uses "glug" as a unit of measurement (as in, "saute with a good glug of olive oil") and I felt instantly that we must be kindred measuring spirits. Or maybe this is more common practice than I thought. But most (pre-blog) recipes I've written down have the words "glug," "handful," "liberal dousing" and "more than you would think" in place of more, um, traditional (read: normal) measurement terms, and given that apparently legitimate people do this too, I am seriously considering dropping all this tablespoon business in favor of my typical haphazard approximations. Feel free to lodge a complaint if you like the safe precision of quarter teaspoons. I get all excited when people leave comments.

Back to lentils: I suspect the original version is delicious, but I didn't have smoked paprika and did have some other things, so an adapted version is below. 

Olive oil*
Small yellow onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, pressed
Scant 2 cups beluga lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 cup organic vegetable broth
Sherry vinegar 
Spanish sweet paprika
Aleppo pepper
Ground cumin
About a pound of mushrooms, half crimini and half shiitake, brushed and halved or quartered (depending on the size)
2-3 large handfuls amaranth greens, coarsely chopped (could substitute 2 handfuls spinach)
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
2/3 basket cherry tomatoes, halved
Basil chiffonade (6-7 leaves, rolled & thinly sliced)

Saute the onions in a pot over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until slightly softened, add garlic, and cook for an addition minute or two. Add the lentils and stir to coat with the onion-garlic mixture, then add the broth and 2 cups water. Cover, bring to a boil, and turn heat down to low. Simmer for 25-30 minutes or until just tender, stirring every ten minutes or so. (If you don't want to stir, add an additional cup of water at the beginning and then drain the lentils after they're done. I don't like having to drain them, so I often use less liquid, but this does mean you have to stir more frequently and it probably takes a little longer to cook.)

Turn off heat and add 1 1/2 tsp sherry vinegar, 1 tsp paprika, a spoonful of Aleppo (or adjust spiciness to taste), and a pinch or two of salt. Liberally dust with cumin, stir, and taste. Adjust seasonings if you'd like it to have more tang or more spice.

Meanwhile, heat a pan over high heat until very hot. Add a generous metric glug of olive oil and let that heat up too, then add the crimini mushrooms. Turn the heat down to medium-high and brown the criminis on each side. When they're about halfway done, add the shiitakes as well (these will cook more quickly). When the mushrooms are browned and just tender, add the amaranth greens and stir-fry for about a minute or until just wilted. Turn off the heat and season with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, combine the cherry tomatoes, basil, about 2 tsp sherry vinegar, a slosh of good-quality extra virgin olive oil, and some black pepper.

Serve (lentils first, then the mushrooms, with a couple spoonfuls of the tomato-basil mixture on the top).

To round off the meal, add a crusty loaf of fresh bread (get something whole wheat and/or seeded if you want to make a complete protein, and skip the twenty-billion-ingredient variety in favor of something straightforward if you're going the Pollan route) and a glass of Spanish wine (pairs well with a 2007 Juan Gil Jumilla, currently on sale at Costco for a crazy low $11/bottle).

Serves 4, or 2 for dinner with leftovers for lunch the next day.

 *Incidentally, a ridiculous number of major brand olive oils are not actually extra-virgin as claimed...see p. 10 of the report from UC Davis to see whether yours is.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Late Night Snack: Carmelized Ginger Carrots with Honey and Pastured Butter

Olive oil
6-7 fresh carrots, brushed clean and sliced at an angle*
A 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
Pastured butter
Local wildflower honey

*fresh meaning the kind that taste like carrots, rather than the Safeway variety. We found rainbow carrots at a produce stand a few days ago, and still had some orange and yellow ones left.

Heat a little olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, stir once or twice, and sprinkle the ginger over (if it falls in clumps, try to break it up before it cooks together). Keep cooking, stirring from time to time, for a minute or two, then add about 2 tbsp of water, cover pan, and let steam for a couple minutes. Stir, add another couple of tablespoons of water, and cover again. (You want the carrots to brown, so it shouldn't be too wet, but the steam will help them cook through more quickly). When the carrots are a little browned and tender but not mushy, add a bit of butter (maybe a half tablespoon or so) to the pan and stir to coat the carrots as it melts. Turn off the heat, then add about 1/2 tbsp honey to the side of the pan. As soon as it begins to bubble, stir it through the carrots, and serve.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Soft Set Eggs with Shiitake Mushrooms and Amaranth Greens

Found at the coop: Amaranth greens. No idea what to do with these. The internets suggested something called callaloo soup, which was great fun to say, repeatedly (go on, you know you want to try it), but which was accompanied by some greenish-gray pictures that didn't look particularly appetizing. The next meal was breakfast, so we thought we'd put them in an omelette and see what happened (only we like revueltos, or Spanish soft set eggs, better than omelettes, so that's what this is).

Olive oil
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
3-4 scallions, sliced
1 clove garlic, pressed
4 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A few shakes of crushed ñora pepper
Coarsely chopped amaranth greens (about 2 cups, or a little more)
4 pastured chicken eggs

Break the eggs into a bowl, leaving the yolks whole. You can make this with two whole eggs and two egg whites, or all whole eggs.

Heat a little olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and toast for 10-15 seconds, stirring, then add the pepper and scallion and cook for about 2 more minutes. Add the garlic, saute for another minute, then add the mushrooms, salt, black pepper, and ñora pepper. Cook until the mushrooms just start to release a little liquid, then add the amaranth greens and saute until just wilted.

Pour in the eggs, turn heat down to medium low, and slowly stir the eggs in with the vegetables. They should set softly as you stir. I like to break one yolk, stir once and wait for a moment, then break the next. You want the white and yellow to still be distinct when it's done.

After a minute or two, the eggs will have set. Serve hot.

Serves 2 for breakfast.

Homemade Iced Latte

We found this cream (half & half, actually) from grass-fed cows at our coop, and it is, to put it mildly, amazing. If you live in Northern CA, try to track it down. If you don't, try to find something like it -- it's pasteurized but not homogenized, and it tastes like...well, like cream. But not like regular, supermarket dairy aisle cream. This is like the Platonic ideal of cream, upon which that cream was long ago based.

Not to be melodramatic or anything.

Anyway, it's good. Here's a recipe for a homemade iced latte that I think might actually be on par with joe, or at least in the ballpark, which is something I never, ever thought I would say. Ever. If you use regular cream, it's still good, just not mind-blowing. (Also, don't make this if you're expecting something that tastes like a Dunkin Donuts iced latte. Make it if you actually like the taste of coffee.)

Ground coffee (our all-time favorite is Peet's 101 blend)
Straus Family Creamery half & half or milk

If you have an espresso machine, make 2 shots of espresso per person. If you don't, make one smallish cup of very, very strong coffee per person. Pour through a sieve full of ice into a Pyrex container and stick it in the fridge while you make breakfast. Also, add a little cream and/or milk (this morning, we used about 2 tbsp half & half and 1 tbsp milk per person) and a couple of ice cubes to each glass and put in the freezer to chill for 5-10 minutes. (Note: don't add more than two big ice cubes at this point, since you don't want a bunch of them melting and making the latte too watery.)

Add the coffee to the glasses, stir, add a few more ice cubes, and serve.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Collard Greens with Applewood Smoked Bacon

This recipe can be made with or without bacon. But, once you have the version with bacon, you're probably not going back, so if you for some reason want to try it both ways, do the non-bacon version first. (However, having just had the with-bacon version, suggesting anything of the sort seems a bit sacrilegious. Make it with the bacon. With with with.)

1 onion, halved and sliced fairly thinly
2 strips Niman Ranch applewood smoked bacon (optional but highly recommended), sliced into strips
2 large cloves garlic, pressed
1 bunch collard greens, sliced into one-inch strips
Olive oil
Several shakes crushed ñora pepper (available at Spanish food stores, like The Spanish Table)
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 loose tbsp finely chopped oregano
1/3 cup chicken broth

Saute onions over medium-high heat in a big pan with a little olive oil for a minute or so, until they begin to cook down a little. Push to the side and add the bacon, centering it over the heat. Cook until it begins to brown a little, turning the onions over once or twice in the meantime. When you lose patience with this silly way of cooking both at once, just stir to combine, and continue cooking until until the onions are golden. Add the garlic, turn heat to medium, and saute for one minute more. Add the greens and salt and cook, stirring, for two more minutes, then add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding a little water if it starts to dry out.

Serves 2 greedy people but could stretch to 3, if you're less prone to using forks to defend your right to half the bacon than some people in our household. Goes well with quinoa with carrots and pepper (below) and grilled summer squash.

Quinoa with Carrots and Pepper

This made a nice, simple, protein-laden backdrop to the other things we were cooking tonight (collard greens with applewood smoked bacon, above, and grilled vegetables. You can use the quinoa like a bed of rice and let them mix together a bit). If you wanted to make it more flavorful, you could use broth instead of water, and/or saute the vegetables separately and add them to the cooked quinoa at the end. 

Olive oil
1/4 green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, pressed
4 scallions, sliced (white and light green parts) or 1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 carrot, diced
2 handfuls Eden Organic canned chickpeas
Pinch or two of salt
1 scant tsp finely chopped oregano
1 cup red quinoa
1 1/4 cups water
2 tbsp toasted sliced almonds (Trader Joe's does this for you, if you like having them on hand...they keep forever in the freezer)
Small tab (about 1/2 tsp) pasture butter

Rinse the quinoa, then soak it in cold water for 30 minutes (or hot water for 10, if you forget to do this ahead of time and are impatient for dinner. Hypothetically speaking). This helps remove the saponin, which coats the quinoa grains and can make them taste bitter, and also makes the quinoa cook more quickly later on.

Heat the olive oil in a smallish pot over medium heat. Add the pepper, garlic, and scallions, and saute for a couple of minutes, then add the carrot, chickpeas, salt, and half the oregano and saute for another minute or two. Add the quinoa, stir a few times, then add the water and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low or just above low and simmer for 15 minutes or until quinoa is done (if there is extra liquid left at the end, uncover pot and cook for a minute over medium heat to let it evaporate). Add remaining oregano and stir. Add almonds, switch off heat, stir in the butter, and serve.

Serves 3 (or 2 with some leftovers)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mostly Plants for the Sweet Tooth: Figs with Honey Balsamic Reduction, Toasted Nuts

Balsamic vinegar
Pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, or any other nuts

Toast the nuts in a pan over medium heat, shaking from time to time, until lightly browned. Decant onto a plate and let cool for a few minutes.

Heat 2-3 tbsp balsamic vinegar over medium heat until it begins to simmer, then turn down heat to low and continue to simmer until the volume is halved. Remove from heat and add a few drops of honey. Stir.

Cut figs lengthwise and arrange on plate. Drizzle with balsamic reduction. (Or, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and grate parmesan cheese over the top. I like it the other way slightly better.)

Serve with the warm toasted nuts.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

On the Grill: Roasted Potatoes and Summer Squash

Found at Trader Joe's: Local tri-color potatoes
Found at the Coop: A panoply of summer squash, in season and on sale (zucchini and yellow, but also gray, pattypan, and a round, zucchini-like hybrid apparently called eight ball squash), portobello mushrooms, fresh garlic*

*Apparently, garlic comes from a plant. This may not have occurred to you, if, like me, you had never actually seen, felt, or tasted garlic that wasn't at least a week old. That hard, papery, tough wrapper was once soft and translucent and plantlike, almost moist, and the cloves inside were so fresh that the juice splattered when you pressed them. They taste better, too (garlicky in a crisp, clean kind of way, and less strong than their aged counterparts). Worth finding at a coop or farmer's market.

Assorted summer squash, cut lengthwise (for oblong squashes, like zucchini) or crosswise (for round squashes, like pattypan or eight ball) into half-inch thick slices. Try to avoid the smallest pattypans, which might be easy to lose in the grill.
Portobello mushrooms, stemmed and left whole, or any other vegetable that strikes your grilling fancy
2 cloves garlic, peeled
Olive oil
Salt & pepper

Assorted small to medium potatoes (yellow, red, and/or purple), whole if small and halved if medium
5-6 more garlic cloves, not peeled
Sprigs of fresh herbs (e.g., oregano, sage, thyme, rosemary)

A little meat, as a side dish rather than the main course (e.g., local lamb andouille sausages)

Bring a pot of water to a boil, add potatoes, and boil until just soft (a fork should go in fairly easily, but they shouldn't be mushy). Drain in a colander, rinse briefly with cool water, and leave in sink to dry off.

Press 2 cloves of garlic into a small bowl and mix with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Brush lightly onto summer squash and mushrooms, and set aside. (If you have fresh thyme, you might chop some and rub it onto the mushrooms with some salt and pepper.)

Preheat the grill.

Brush a large piece of foil with a little olive oil, pour the potatoes onto it, and then brush the rest of them with a little more olive oil (or toss them with olive oil in a separate bowl, depending on the lengths you will go to in order to avoid having to clean an extra dish). Add the unpeeled garlic cloves and sprigs of herbs, sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and close up the foil.

Set the potatoes on the grill for 10-2o minutes, depending on how much time you have and how roasty-on-the-outside and soft-on-the-inside you like them to be. Grill the vegetables and the sausages, and serve. (Note that you can eat the garlic cloves -- they will be all sweet and mushy and should come right out of their skin with a knife and fork -- and the herbs, for that matter.)

If you cook extra potatoes and veggies, lunch the next day is easy:
Heat the potatoes on a plate in the microwave for a minute or two, sprinkle with a little crumbled feta or cheddar, and heat a little more. Serve with leftover grilled summer squash (cold or also heated).

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Purslane with Sweet Onions

One day last week, while perusing our Coop's vegetable aisle and pining after the now-absent baby rainbow chard, my eyes fell on a bunch of some weedy looking thing I'd never seen before. A little detective work with the signs above (not purple kale, because it's not purple...not carrots, because I definitely know what those look like) suggested the mystery vegetable was purslane. I had no idea what purslane was, although it sounded vaguely familiar. (Turns out this is because Michael Pollan mentions it in passing as an example of how wild foods are often very healthy, which, apparently, purslane is.) But something about the way the tips of the weedy little sprigs jutted forward looked like a challenge. I will buy you, I said to them, hopefully under my breath although in retrospect, one never can be sure. I will buy you, and I will cook you. I fixed the stems with a steely gaze.

The problem, it turned out, when Phase I of my two-part plan (the buying of the purslane) had been completed, was that nobody seemed to know how to cook purslane (which was, if you recall, the crucial Phase II). I could find recipes online for salads and some people suggested using it on sandwiches, but I had distinctly (and hopefully silently) sworn to cook it, and a salad seemed like wimping out. Also, it tasted citrusy, almost sour, and I thought it might need something sweet to balance the flavor. So:

Olive oil
1 large onion, halved and sliced into thin half-rings
1 bunch purslane, washed
Salt & pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil in a wide pan over medium-high heat. Add onion rings and saute until golden and sweet-smelling, turning down the heat a little if necessary to avoid too much browning (although a little bit browned is perfect).

Meanwhile, cut the bottom 1/2 inch or so off the purslane stems, and then chop coarsely (I left it as a bunch and just sliced in one-inch intervals).

When the onions are carmelized, turn the heat back to medium-high and add the purslane.

Stir-fry for a minute or two, until the leaves just begin to wilt, add salt and pepper, and serve.

The citrusy taste of the purslane goes particularly well with salmon -- for dinner that night, we covered a piece of wild salmon with black mustard seeds and a few curry leaves, pan-fried it, then served over a bed of wild rice cooked with some chopped shallot:

Monday, July 19, 2010

Lentils with Parsley and Thyme

2 1/4 cups yellow lentils (half chana dal and half toor dal works well, because the smaller toor dal cooks to mush and automatically thickens the lentils)
2 cups chicken and/or veggie broth
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 onion, chopped
Minced jalapeno pepper and/or Aleppo pepper, to taste (depending on how hot the pepper is and how hot you like your food)
1 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 1/2 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley
Olive oil
3/4 tsp cumin seeds
2 garlic cloves, pressed

Rinse the lentils well, pick through them to check for rocks, and drain. Add them to a pot with 2 cups broth and 3 cups water and set over medium heat. Just as it comes to a simmer, add the turmeric and turn the heat down to low (make sure it doesn't boil over -- if it comes to a rapid boil, the lentils will get all frothy. If this happens, turn the heat down and skim the froth off the top). Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Stir in the onion, pepper, thyme, and parsley. Cover and continue to simmer for 10-20 more minutes, or until the lentils are tender. (If it's very liquidy, leave the lid ajar to let some of the water evaporate. If it's too dry, add a little more water. The lentils need to be in some liquid in order to cook, but I don't like my lentils very soupy, so if I'm not using toor dal, I puree 1-2 cups of this near the end to thicken it up a bit.)

Turn off heat. In a separate pan, heat 2-3 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the cumin seeds and toast in the oil for 10-20 seconds. Turn off the heat and immediately add the garlic, stir for a few seconds until it turns yellow or golden, then pour the mixture over the split peas and stir.

Serve with a scoop of basmati rice (underneath or on top) and vegetables on the side (carrots or greens stir-fried with mustard seed and ginger tend to go particularly well).

Serves 3-4

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Black Rice "Risotto" with Wild Clams and Peas

There's nothing like 102 degree weather to make venturing outside long enough to restock on fresh produce seem like a crazy, over-zealous, obsessive sort of notion. Any sane person (said my rapidly baking afternoon self, after hauling a 3-gallon watering can back and forth across the garden to water the new moss roses, which were a better idea when it was pleasantly cool several mornings ago) would stay at home and sit in front of the air conditioning vent and meditate on the virtues of icebergs. So I did. This, however, left me with mostly just cupboard and freezer ingredients to raid in search of a whole food, mostly-plants-especially-leaves dinner. Right.

So here's what we've got:
- Half a bag of organic black Forbidden rice.
- A can of clams, from the Coop, that says sustainably harvested and wild. These seem like good things.
- In the fridge: Garlic, white wine, yogurt. Nix the yogurt.
- In the freezer: Frozen spinach, frozen peas, leftover vegetable broth, leftover chopped onion.
- Outside: Assorted herbs.

Here goes...

Scant 1 cup Forbidden rice
1 cup vegetable broth
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 can chopped clams
About 1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and drained
About 1/2 cup frozen peas
Splash dry white wine
Aleppo pepper and/or freshly ground black pepper
1 small handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
6-8 leaves fresh basil, thinly sliced1/4 cup grated parmesan

Saute about a third of the onion in olive oil in a small pot over medium heat until soft. Add the rice, stirring for a minute, then the broth. Cover, bring to a boil, and turn down heat. Let simmer for 15 minutes, then add the juice from the can of clams and continue to simmer for another few minutes (I turned the heat up a little and left the cap off at this point, to let some of the liquid boil off).

Meanwhile, when the rice has been cooking for about 10 minutes, heat a little olive oil over medium-high heat in a separate pot. Add the rest of the onion and saute until translucent, then add the garlic and turn heat down to medium. After another minute, add the spinach, and then the peas. When the peas have thawed, add the cooked rice, then the wine, parsley, basil, and pepper. Cook for a couple more minutes, stirring, until most of the liquid has evaporated (the rice should still be very moist). Add the parmesan, stir, cross your fingers, and serve.

Definitely edible. Serves 2, but you might want something on the side or a large fruit course afterward.

Easy rice and beans

A little less than 1 cup black rice*
Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 jalapeno, minced (adjust amount to taste)
About 3 cups black beans (pre-soaked or canned)**
A handful of cilantro, chopped
1 avocado, cut into wedges and sliced

Cook rice, then turn off heat and let sit. Meanwhile, place a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, then the onion, and saute until translucent. Turn heat down to medium, add the garlic and peppers, and saute for another couple minutes.
Next, add the black beans and stir gently, breaking up any clumps, until heated through (you may need to add a little more olive oil at this point). Add cilantro (but save a few pinches for sprinkling over the top), stir a few times, then add the cooked rice and cook for another minute or until the rice is heated through.

Serve topped with avocado, with a tomato salad on the side.***

*a.k.a. Forbidden Rice. Kind of the opposite of local, but on the other hand, unpolished and really, really good.)
**Turns out Eden Organic actually has BPA-free cans.
***Unlike in the picture, which is how I did it originally, unless you want to first eat all of the tomatoes off the top and then proceed to the rest of it. Somehow, the textures don't quite go together.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Smoked Salmon Salad with Shaved Fennel and Asian Pear

Found at Costco: Smoked wild Alaskan salmon, Asian pears
Found at the Coop: Fennel bulb, local baby salad greens


Vinaigrette (make first and let sit to blend flavors)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp Meyer lemon juice
1 tbsp finely chopped fennel (top part)
Freshly ground black pepper

Several handfuls of mixed baby greens
Several slices of smoked salmon per person
½ fennel bulb, shaved, soaked in ice water for 10-20 minutes, drained, and patted dry (I have no idea how you're supposed to shave fennel, so I just quartered the bulb and then used a carrot peeler to shave off thin crescent-shaped slices)
Several small pieces of fennel (top), washed and patted dry
½ Asian pear, sliced fairly thinly

Whisk vinaigrette ingredients together in a small bowl.

Arrange lettuce in a bed on each plate. Layer shaved fennel over and drizzle lightly with dressing. Fan slices of Asian pear on one side and smoked salmon on the other, drizzle again with dressing, and garnish with fennel sprigs.

Serves 2

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Leek and Four Mushroom Risotto

Found at the Coop: Local gourmet mushrooms, leeks, baby rainbow chard
Found in our garden: Fresh thyme, flat-leaf parsley
Found in the cupboard: Arborio rice

Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 cup Arborio rice
2 ladlefuls of white wine
3 1/2 cups chicken and/or veggie broth*

1 large leek (or two small), halved, rinsed, and thinly sliced into half-rings
More mushrooms than you would think, sliced
(e.g., 6 crimini, 10 shiitake, 10 alba and brown clamshell, 4 royal trumpet)
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
4 sprigs fresh thyme, minced
Small handful of parsley, finely chopped (reserve a few pinches for garnishing)
Small tab of butter
Couple handfuls of baby rainbow chard (could substitute baby arugula)
Handful or two of baby spinach
Half-spoon of Aleppo pepper

Small bowl of grated Parmesan for table

Put broth in a small pot, cover, and heat until simmering, then turn off heat and set aside. Meanwhile, heat a medium dutch oven or other large pot over medium-high heat. Add about 2 tbsp olive oil, then add onion and saute until it smells sweet and looks slightly translucent. Add rice and saute for another minute, reducing heat to medium. Ladle in white wine and cook, stirring, until it evaporates. Add broth by the ladleful, stirring and cooking until each evaporates before adding the next.

Meanwhile, set a wide pan over medium-high heat and add 1-2 tbsp olive oil. When hot, add leeks and saute until soften (about 5-6 minutes), turning down heat a little if necessary to keep from browning. Add mushrooms and continue to saute until they begin to release a little liquid, salting and peppering as they cook. Add thyme, parsley, and greens, and cook until just wilted. Turn off heat.

When the rice is just cooked through, gently fold in the sauteed vegetables, butter, and Aleppo.

Serve (can let sit for 1-2 minutes to cool slightly) garnished with chopped parsley and a bowl of grated Parmesan at the table.

Serves 2 (or maybe 3 with a salad)

* My former favorite, Swanson's vegetable broth, turns out to have high fructose corn syrup and MSG nestled within its paragraph-long ingredients list. I switched to Trader Joe's organic vegetable broth, which surprised me by tasting strongly of...wait for it...vegetables. Half veggie and half chicken made a nice balance here.