Saturday, June 30, 2012

Crunchy Honey Garlic Chicken Breasts

This recipe is another treat that has been floating around on pinterest for some time.  Sadly, every time I tried to click through to the original post I was directed to an error.  After a bit of snooping, I found the recipe at the blog Rock Recipes.  The site boasts to be "one of Canada's best food blogs."  I may have to spend a little more time on that blog to see what other gems out neighbors to the north may be offering!

adapted from Rock Recipes

serves 6-8

The Ingredients:
4 large, boneless skinless chicken breasts, split in half

for the breading:
1 1/2  cup flour
2 Tbsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tbsp ground nutmeg
1 1/2 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp black pepper
2 tsp ground thyme
2 tsp ground sage
1 tsp cayenne pepper

for the egg wash
3 eggs
6  tbsp water

for the honey garlic sauce:
2 Tbsp sesame oil
3 – 4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp ground black pepper

The Process:
Place each chicken cutlet between two pieces of waxed paper or plastic wrap. Starting in the center and working out to edges, pound lightly with the flat side of a meat mallet until the chicken is an even 1/2" thickness.

In a shallow bowl large enough to accommodate the chicken, whisk together the the eggs and water.  In a large bowl sift together all of the breading ingredients.

Dip the chicken in the flour  mixture, coating evenly. Then dip into the eggwash. Return the chicken to the flour mixture, turning to ensure even coverage and gently pressing the breading into the egg wash.  Set aside and repeat with the remaining chicken.

Heat about 1/2" of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Working with 2-3 chicken pieces at a time, gently set the cutlets in the oil and fry gently until golden brown, 4-5 minutes per side.  Remove the chicken to paper towels to drain and then set in an oven preheated to 200 to stay warm.  Cook the remaining chicken in the same fashion.

for the garlic honey sauce:
Heat the sesame oil in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and saute until tender and fragrant.  Add the honey, soy sauce and pepper; simmer for 5-10 minutes.

to serve:
Plate the chicken and generously drizzle with garlic honey sauce.

The Review:
Holy Mother of...

This dinner was originally supposed to be served to 4, accompanied by rice and stir fried snap peas.  Somehow the company expanded to 8.  The recipe comfortable fed us all...though we were all licking our plates by the end.

Adult chicken mcnuggets.  I'm not sure why this recipe evokes the comparison.  The breading was joyously crunchy, even after a brief rest in the oven.  I had worried they would become soggy if not served immediately.  Not the case.  The meat...tender and juicy and made even more amazing by the spice blend that blanketed it.  The nutmeg dominated the flavors, but in pleasant way...still allowing the pepper, ginger, sage and thyme to come through.  

The sauce though.  Oh the sauce!  It stole the show.  Tasting frequently as I added the honey, I stopped at 3/4 of a cup instead of the 1 cup the original recipe asked for.  And still I found it quite sweet.  But paired with the peppery and ginger laced chicken...

Maybe that's why my mind wandered to the childhood fast food favorite...tender nuggets of chicken coated in a peppery breaded, fried to perfection and drenched in glorious honey.  

But multiplied beyond compare. 

While all of the company that joined us this evening gladdened my heart, I was disappointed to discover that meant no leftovers.  

Ah well.  I suppose that means I will have to make this again...

Friday, June 29, 2012

Braised Joi Choi with Cashews

The veggies!  They just keep coming!  Agreeing to take on a full share of veggies, instead of a more manageable half share is proving to become a bit of a challenge for just two people.  Thankfully, we have a recently welcomed a roommate into our abode, and are blessed with friends who never turn down a meal when offered.  And a dog who begs for carrots and spinach.  

To date, I've only had to discard one batch of pea tendrils that we were unable to get around to using.  

A beautiful head of joi choi was provided in our CSA box this week.  Unfamiliar with joi choi?  So was I.  Apparently this leafy green is a faster growing variety of bok choi.    Bring on the stir fry!

recipe courtesy of Driftless Organics

serves 2-3

The Ingredients:
1 head joi choi or bok choi 1 Tbsp oil 1 Tbsp ginger, minced 1 Tbsp fresh garlic, minced 1 tsp red pepper flakes ¼ c. white or rice wine 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil 2 Tbsp soy sauce 1 Tbsp rice vinegar 2 tsp honey or agaveBlack pepper to taste ¼ c cashews  
The Process:
Cut the bok choi stems into ½ inch slices and coarsely chop greens separately.  Heat oil in a wok or large cast iron pan.  Add bok choi stems and stir fry for 2-3 minutes.  Add garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes; saute until fragrant.  Add wine, toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, black pepper.  Cover and  lower heat to medium-low; braise for about 4 minutes.  Add bok choi greens  and stir until wilted.  Sprinkle with chopped cashews  and serve with rice or  noodles.

The Review:
This was a straight forward and simple preparation...incredible fast to whip up, and very filling on its own.  The vinegar and rice wine made the greens a tad more acidic than I would have liked.  Next time around I'd likely reduce the wine a touch, use sesame oil exclusively and up the sweetener to 1 Tbsp.  Great side dish in a pinch, though!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Minnesotan Midsummer Minestrone

Right around 2 or 3pm everyday my mind begins to wander.  My eyes drift out over the beautiful vista of the Stone arch bridge and the Mississippi River.  The occasional eagle soars overhead.  Segway tours, joggers and bikers meander on the paths below.  And I day dream...

About what to make for dinner.

It never fails really.  Shortly after lunch, my stomach begins to gurgle again as my mind turns to food.  Recently the thoughts circle around how to use up the last bit of vegetables before our next CSA box arrives (time to start blanching, bagging and freezing some of those veggies).  Stir frys and salads are quick, easy and reliable.

But this evening I had soup on the brain...

the recipe is my own

serves 8-10

The Ingredients:
2 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 stalks of celery, sliced
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 medium carrots, diced
4-5 garlic scapes, cut in to 1 inch lengths
1 bunch salad turnips and greens, turnips diced, greens chopped
2 Tbsp fresh sage, cut chiffonade
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, minced
1 - 14 oz can stewed tomatoes
4 cups vegetable, chicken or beef stock
2 cups water
1 - 14 oz can black or kidney beans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper to taste

The Process:
In a large soup kettle, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the celery, onions and carrots.  Saute until the onion and celery are tender, about 5-7 minutes.  Stir in the garlic scapes, herbs, and turnips (reserve the greens for later) and cook an additional 2-3 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, broth and water.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the turnips and carrots are tender.   Add the beans, simmering for 10 minutes until  the beans are heated through.  Add the reserved turnip greens.  Stir until wilted.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

The Review:
What a wonderful, deep flavor.  The onion, celery and stewed tomatoes provided a base that was refreshingly familiar.  The sage was nearly indiscernible among the other veggie flavors.  The turnips added a wonderful oomph and were cooked to near perfection...tender with just a touch of bite left.  The garlic scapes cooked down and little more than I would have liked during a 20 minutes simmer, but lent an amazing hint of garlic.  I adore minestrone.  Mostly because any veggie combination would work.  Want pasta? okay.  Don't like beans? Leave them out.  Well this may not be the best soup for a sweltering summer day (but really what soup is when the heat index break 100), but it really does hit the spot.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Asian Salad with Ginger-Soy Marinated Chicken

salad is my own
dressing adapted form epicurious
chicken and marinade adapted from

serves 4-6

The Ingredients:
for the chicken
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced

 for the salad:
4 cups mixed Asian greens (arugula, red mustard and mizuna)
2 cups spinach
1/2 medium red pepper, thinly sliced
1 broccoli crown, cut into florets
1 carrot, juilianned
2-3 potato onions or scallions, sliced
handful of pea tendrils
1 cup snow peas, cut diagonally 
1 - 6 oz can mandarin oranges, drained

for the dressing:
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp Asian sesame oil
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1 Tbsp honey or agave syrup
1 tsp  red pepper flakes

The Process:
For the chicken
Trim any fat from the chicken, rinse and pat dry.  Place chicken in a resealable gallon-sized bag or shallow dish.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, oil, honey, ginger and garlic.  Pour the marinade over the chicken and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350.  Place the chicken in a shallow baking dish and bake for 30-35 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

for the dressing: 
Combine all of the ingredients and whisk well.

for the salad:
In a large salad bowl combine the first eight ingredients, reserving the mandarin oranges and  peanuts.  Drizzle about half of the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.  Slice the cooled chicken into thin coins and layer over the salad.  Top with mandarin orange and peanuts.  Drizzle with remaining dressing.

The Review:
This is a salad to knock all fast food and chain restaurant varieties out of the park.  The chicken was so juicy and tender, even after is had cooled.  Burst of sweet peas or oranges, the crunch of carrots and peanuts, the peppery bite of the asian greens mellowed out by the vibrant spinach.  Every bite brought a new and complex play of flavors and textures.  The chicken easily could have starred in a meal of its own.  But the same could honestly be said of the greens as well.  The dressing brought every thing together...a touch of salt and sesame...

All of us were quite sad to reach the bottom of the salad bowl.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Salad Nicoise with Salmon and Garlic Scapes

Our CSA box provided inspiration for this twist on the classic main-course salad.  I've fallen for garlic scapes.  Their mild flavor compliments so much without overpowering the other elements of the dish, like the more mature bulb form of garlic can (but oh, how I love garlic in all its forms!)  Their crispness reminded me so much of fresh green beans.  With that thought in my mind I decided to tackle salad Nicoise, but using as many veggies as possibly from our fresh and local batch.

The salad base is my own
Vinaigrette adapted from Julia Child

Serves 3

The Ingredients:
for the salad
2 - 4 oz salmon fillets
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp oil
5-6 garlic scapes, cut into 1-inch lengths
3-4 cups mixed greens (I used spinach, green leaf lettuce and arugula)
2 roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise and sliced
3 small German butterball potatoes, boiled and sliced
3 hard boiled eggs, sliced

for the vinaigrette:
1 potato onion, finely minced
1/2 Tbsp Dijon-type mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1/3  olive oil
Freshly ground pepper to taste

The Process:
for the vinaigrette:
combine all of the ingredients in a screw top jar and shake vigorously.

for the salad
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Season salmon with salt and pepper. Place salmon, skin side down, on a non-stick baking sheet Bake until salmon is cooked through, about 12 to 15 minutes.  Allow to cool.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat.  Add the garlic scapes and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.  Remove from pan and allow to cool. 

Toss the mixed greens with the vinaigrette and divide among three serving plates. Flake the salmon and arrange one third of the meat down one side of each plate.  Layer one third of the tomato slices along side the salmon, followed by one third of the potatoes and on e hard boiled egg.  Line one third of the garlic scapes down the other side.


The review:
This dish can be a little tedious to prepare with all of the boiling, baking and sauteing needed, but the end result is a filling and refreshing summer treat.  Tuna can be substituted, but I found salmon to be a nice change of pace.  The garlic scapes add a wonderful twist.  Green beans are lovely, but sort of band at times.  The scapes provide a similar crunch and texture with a pleasantly mild garlic flavor.  Paired with the acidic dressing...yum.

I kept the layers simpler than the classic salad...omitting the anchovies, capers, shallots and keep the focus on the uber fresh veggies from our CSA box.  I was not disappointed.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Shrimp Scampi

Sometimes you need a quick and simple meal that is as elegant as it is easy to prepare.  A need to treat yourself to something wonderful, without any of the fuss or stress.  Enter shrimp scampi.  Why is this dish so intimating?  I have no idea.  Once I had all of the ingredients assembled, it actually took more time for the pasta to cook than for me to prepare the shrimp.  I used previously frozen fully cooked shrimp.  Starting from raw shrimp will not add much more time to the process and will probably yield a much more flavorful result.

adapted from

serves 2-3

The Ingredients:
1 lb jumbo shrimp, shelled and deveined
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 teaspoons minced garlic
3 Tbsp dry white vermouth
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp fresh parsley, minced
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 cups cooked spaghetti, vermicelli or capellini pasta 

The Process: 

Put the shrimp on a large pie pan or plate and pat them completely dry with a paper towel. Arrange the shrimp so they lay flat and are evenly spaced.  Season with salt and pepper.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Raise the heat to high, and invert the plate of shrimp over the pan so the shrimp fall into the pan all at once. Cook the shrimp, without disturbing, for 1 minute. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Turn the shrimp over and cook for 2 minutes more. Transfer the shrimp to a bowl.

Add the vermouth and lemon juice to the hot skillet. Boil the liquid until slightly thickened, about 30 seconds, while deglazing the pan.  Stir the zest and parsley into the sauce. Pour the sauce over the shrimp, season with salt and pepper to taste and toss to combine.

Divide the paste between two or three plates.  Top with the shrimp and drizzle with sauce.  Serve hot.

The Review:
Quick, romantic and tasty. Of course, anything involving seafood earns extra points in Ross' book.  This is likely to be added to our rotation of favorites.  When I'm not trying out a new recipe, that is.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Ale and Cheddar Biscuits

So much beer!  Ross and I currently have 3 batches of beer brewing in our basement right now.  Three 5-gallon carboys.  Almost 150 bottles when all is said and done.  With summer upon us we've switched gears away from the darker and heavier beers for a while.  In process are a honey kolsch, raspberry wheat and Belgian-style blonde ale.   What are we to do with it all?  Well, drink it.  Though the odd bottle may find its way into these wonderful biscuits. 

To date I've tried an IPA (Stone Ruination), an American Rye (home-brewed) and a Hefeweizen (Harriet Brewing's Wodan Weizen).  The American Rye yielded the tastiest biscuits, with the IPA in close second.  The hefeweizen had a bit too much clove and citrus flavor to meld well with the cheddar.

Adapted from Jackie's recipe at

yields 12 biscuits

the Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 green onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup melted butter, plus extra for brushing
6 to 7 oz beer

The Process:
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray a muffin tin or baking sheet with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and pepper,  Stir in the onion and 3/4 cup of the cheddar.  Pour in melted butter and the beer, stirring until just moistened.  Do not over mix!

Spoon batter into muffin tins or drop into mounds on the baking sheet. Brush the remaining butter over the tops of the biscuits and sprinkle with remaining cheese. 

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the biscuits have puffed and a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Serve hot.

The Review:
Best serve hot.  Truthfully.  These dense little beauties are full of flavor, but begins to loose their appeal as they cool.  Not that I imagine that most batches would ever linger around enough for that to happen...

After indulging in The St Paul Beer Fest and sampling nearly 60 brews, my mind is a whirl about which beers to try this out with next.  

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Oven Roasted German Butterball Potatoes with Rosemary

I had never heard of German Butterball Potatoes until a 3 lb bag was given to us in our CSA box.  They sort of tare sort of a combination of the best traits of a russet and yukon.  The potatoes are small and firm, with a russeted skin and a beautifully golden flesh.   These little discoveries keep me eagerly awaiting my new box of veggies week after week.  We are going to be so crushed when winter rolls around...

The recipe is my own

serve 6-8

The Ingredients:
3 lbs German Butterball Potatoes, washed and quartered
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 bulb green garlic
3 Tbsp fresh rosemary, finely minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

The Process:
Preheat the oven to 400.

Toss the potatoes with remaining ingredients until well coated.  Layer in a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.  Bake uncovered for 1 hour, or until potatoes are tender and lightly browned, stirring once.

Serve hot.

The Review:
After trying these lovely little potatoes, I may be ruined from russets, reds and yukons ever again.  These roasted potatoes were creamy, but still firm.  The color was so incredibly golden.  And the flesh slightly sweet.  Garlic and rosemary are a favorite roasting combination of mine, but many an herb or spice blend would work.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Beer Marinated Pork Chops with Peach Salsa

Summertime and beer...they hand in hand.  I grew up in a state that took pride in its beer.  And brats. boiled brats at every family BBQ, tailgate party, summer, everywhere.   But sadly the beer used was often the cheapest variety available, drinkability notwithstanding. 

Several weeks back my sister directed my attention to an amazing food blog...The Beeroness.  The blog is devoted to appreciating and cooking with craft beers.  And why not?  The food sphere is all a twitter with proper wine and food pairings, both for dining and cooking.  Beer really should be no different.  In the midst of the craft beer and home brew boom the market is awash with so many styles.  Each with their own unique flavor profiles.

With Ross' growing  passion in home brewing we've broadened our range of beers.  IPAs still are a hard one for me  to appreciate, but when I came across this recipe for marinated pork chops, along with highly recommended IPA I knew I would have to give these hoppy beers another shot. 

Do check out Jackie's blog. 

adapted from Jackie's recipe at

serves 8

The Ingredients:
for the chops and marinade
8 bone-in pork chops, cut 3/4- 1 inch thick
12 oz IPA style beer
juice of two lemons
1 tsp sriracha, or more to taste
2 tsp agave or honey
2 tsp salt
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
additional salt and pepper to taste

for the salsa
2 ripe peaches, diced
1 red pepper, chopped
1 pablano pepper, chopped
1/2 large red onion, diced
2-3 green onions, sliced
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 Tbsp IPA style beer

The Process:
In a large bowl or baking dish, combine the beer, lemon juice, salt, agave, garlic and sriracha, stir to combine. Add the pork chops, turning to coat. Cover and place in the refrigerator.  Marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.

To prepare the salsa, combine  all of the  ingredients in a medium bowl and toss to combine.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. 

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat (I prefer a cast iron) until scalding hot but not smoking. Add the pork chops, cooking one or two at a time to not over crowd the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Sear on each side for 3-4 minutes.  The chops will still be slightly pink at the center. Transfer to a baking sheet in a oven preheated to 200 to keep warm.  Cook remaining chops in the same manner.

Transfer the cooked chops to serving plates and top with salsa. Serve immediately.

The Review:
For this batch of chops, I went with Jackie's recommendation for Stone's Ruination.  If you can find it, I highly recommend trying it.  But at about $18.99 for a six pack, it is a bit of a splurge.  However, if you like me, are IPA averse, this may help to at least earn the hop forward style a little more appreciation.

Paired with the chops, the IPA worked incredibly well.  The meat was tender and flavorful.  The beer flavor subtle.  The peach salsa truly stole the show.  Plan on having plenty of chips near at hand to scoop up the leftovers.  Or spoon it on top of a simple green salad for a refreshing lunch.

Here, beer is not the star, but it fulfills its supporting role with gusto.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Collard Green Rolls

Such beautiful large collard green leaves were provided with our weekly veggies.  It seemed a shame to treat them to the traditional methods of sauteing or creaming.  I while back I came across the ingenious idea of using kale leaves in the same vein as cabbage leaves to craft filling rolls.  Why not use collard greens the same way?  This is a vegetarian version using lentils in lieu of beef, but with the familiar and well loved Italian seasonings.

The recipe is my own

server 6-8

The Ingredients:
1 cup lentils
1 cup brown rice
3 1/2 cups water or vegetable stock, divided
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 bulb green garlic, minced
4-5 potato onions. thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1- 14 oz can stewed tomatoes
1 - 4 oz can tomato paste
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
8 large collard green leaves
1- 24 oz jar tomato sauce

The Process:
In a medium saucepan over medium high heat bring 1 3/4 cups of stock to a gentle boil.  Add the rice, reduce to a simmer and cover.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, 35-40 minutes. Meanwhile in a second saucepan, add the lentils and remaining stock.  Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer.  Cook for 20-25 minutes until the lentils are soft and most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Preheat the oven to 350

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic, onions and celery and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, paste and seasonings, stirring to combine.  Simmer for about 5 minutes.  Add the cooked rice and lentils.  Set aside.

Trim away the woody potion of the collard green stems.  Carefully run a knife parallel to the leaf along the raised edge of the stem on the back side, trimming away as much of the vein as possible, without split the leaf.  Stem for 3-4 minutes until soft, or layer between damp paper towels and microwave for 2 minutes, flipping once.

Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Working with one roll at a time, position one leaf on a flat surface with the trimmed side up and the stem end facing you.  Scoop a 1/2 - 3/4 cup of the lentil/rice filling on the bottom third of the leaf.

 Carefully fold in both sides of the leaf and roll the bundle up and away from you, completely encasing the filling.

 Lay the roll in the baking dish seam side down and continue with the remaining leaves.

Ladle tomato sauce over the rolls and bake, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes.  Serve hot.

The Review:
I seem to gravitate towards the labor intensive dishes at times, don't I?  Perhaps I don't notice as much because I use the rice cooking time as the perfect excuse to attempt to keep the clutter from overwhelming the kitchen. is a bit of a feeble attempt.  But our kitchen has remained in some semblance of order for a little while now...

So time labor intensify, but highly worth the effort.  Really, these take no longer than traditional cabbage rolls.  Rice must still be cooked...only I suppose most cabbage rolls are prepared with uncooked hamburger.  I made the mistake of cooking up the meat before stuffing once...not as easy to prepare.

Perhaps that's what's so lovely about this vegetarian version.  The lentils cook down to a point where they almost act as a binder to the rest of the ingredients.  And with out the raw meat filling, they are free to spend less time in the oven.

The collard greens were a wonderful change of pace from cabbage.  Growing up I had often thought cabbage rolls too least the way mom and grandma made them.  Perhaps the acidity from the tomatoes coupled with the cabbage reminded me too much of sauerkraut...which to this day I have not developed much of a taste for.  There is no such pickled or fermented flavored with the collard greens.  And they are much, much more sturdy.  I never had the same ease of rolling up such bundles with cabbage.  Either I never cooked the cabbage enough before hand for the leaves to roll easily, or I over cook them to the point that the leave fell apart at the slightest touch.  And good luck finding 8 perfectly sized cabbage leaves on a head of cabbage.  The collard greens were so much more forgiving, and quite a bit more filling in the end.

I'd love to try other variations of collard green or kale rolls in the future.  Gluten-free burritos?  Curry stuffed leaves?  SO many ideas... 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Strawberry Arugula Salad with Rosemary Vinaigrette

Our first CSA box is in, and with it a whole lot of questions about what to do with our beautiful bounty.  Many salads come to mind with this first many leafy greens!  And many many more salads are yet to come.  I decided to make the inaugural dish from out CSA box  using a recipe provided by the farm.  The green garlic, rosemary, strawberries, arugula, potato onions, and mint were all provided in this week.  Everything else...mustard, almonds, oil, vinegar, lemon, and honey...I already had on hand.  

This is shaping up to be a tasty, tasty summer!

recipe courtesy of Driftless Organics

serves 3-4

The Ingredients:
for the dressing

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar  
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp green garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp honey
salt & pepper to taste
 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

for the salad:
 pint strawberries, sliced
4 cups arugula or mixed greens (I used half arugula, half spinach to cut the peppery bite)
2-3 potato onions, thinly sliced
3-4 Tbsp rosemary vinaigrette (or any vinaigrette)
¼ cup fresh mint, cut chiffonade
¼ cup chopped almonds, toasted

The Process:
for the dressing
Combine the first seven in a bowl and blend with and immersion blender.  Or combine in a blender.  While machine is running, slowly pour in oil until emulsified.  Store in the fridge for two to three weeks.

for the salad
In a large serving bowl, toss strawberries, arugula, onions, and mint with the vinaigrette.   Top nuts and serve immediately.

The Review:
 I couldn't have asked for a better recipe to show case all of our produce's glory.  This salad was everything that I look for in a leafy green dish...crispy greens with some variety and a bit of flavor (I cannot remember the last time I actually had iceburg lettuce), a bit of sweet from the strawberries, a bit of sour from the dressing, an interesting twist from the mint and a bit of crunch from the nuts.  Something with a bit more substantial salt could have sent this through the rough...I am a huge fan of a bit of feta or blue cheese crumbles on top of my salads.  But with ingredients as fresh and bursting with flavor as this, the cheese was not missed much.  The only change I made from Driftless Organic's original was to blend the arugula with spinach (also in our box this week).  Arugula on its own always seemed a bit too aggressive to me.  

The dressing had a wonderfully deep, sour yet slightly sweet flavor.  The rosemary came through and complemented the vinegar so well.   That piney touch added such a wonderful depth when paired with the sweet berries and grassy mint.  The dressing lasted quite a while and was enjoyed on many an additional salad.

It's a pity the part of Wisconsin our farm in located in has had such a hot dry spell as of late.  It looks as though the berries may be kaput for the rest of the season.  The growing season is indeed short compared to our winters.  We will surely savor our veggies while we are able to get them so fresh!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

First CSA box the season

It has been a while since posting.  Not for lack of cooking.  Well...except for last week.  Working full time plus attending dress rehearsals for a show, followed by a few hours of notes does eat into kitchen time quite a bit.  But all of that stress and exhaustion dissolved away with the arrival of our first CSA box of the season.  Our farm isn't really a close one.  They till the soil in our neighboring state.  But still...picked fresh this morning and prepared into an amazing salad the same evening.  Pure Heaven.

This week's box included arugula, spinach, collard greens, green leaf lettuce, black spanish radishes, strawberries, green garlic, rosemary, mint, potato onions, german butterball potatoes, garlic scapes and pea tendrils. 

A salad and dressing recipe will be forthcoming this evening.  Tomorrow a spinach and garlic scape frittata is calling my name....

Monday, June 4, 2012

Roasted Red Pepper Risotto

Oh risotto, how you have captured my heart.  Now that I've tried my hand at a few, I am truly addicted.  Despite the cook time, risotto's adaptability to different flavor combinations keeps me coming back.  And roasted red pepper?  Yes please!

adapted from Bev's recipe at

should serve 4

The Ingredients:
2 medium red bell peppers
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium white onion, diced
1 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

The Process:
Pre-heat the broiler.   Place the peppers on a rimmed baking sheet and broil the peppers until the skin is charred and blackened all over, turning the peppers as you go, about 12-15 minutes.
Remove the peppers from oven and place them into a sealable plastic bag. Seal and let the peppers steam  for 10 to 15 minutes. When cool enough to handle, carefully peel off the skins and remove the seeds and stem. Puree in a food processor or blender until smooth.
In a medium sauce pan, heat the chicken stock to a gentle simmer.  Keep warm.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil.  Add the onions and saute over medium high heat until the onions are tender and translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the rice and stir to coat evenly.

Slowly pour in the white wine.  Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer, stirring continuously.  Once the wine has been absorbed, add the warm stock, one ladle full at a time, allowing each addition to be fully absorbed before adding the next.  Patience is key.  Stir gently and continuously. 

After the last ladle of stock has been absorbed, at the rice is creamy in texture and slightly al dente, add the Parmesan cheese. Stir in the pureed pepper sauce and allow to simmer until the risotto has thickened.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the risotto from the heat..  Cover and let rest for 3-5 minutes before serving. 

The Review:

Risotto: Labor or love.  But or so worth it every time.  Two red peppers yielded almost 1 cup of puree after a whirl in the blender.  As a result the risotto was a little soupy right after adding the red pepper.  A little more time on the stove to  allow the liquid to absorb into the rice helped.  As did a few minutes that the risotto was allowed to rest off of the heat.  

Oh, but the flavor...sweet, rich, deep.  Such a beautiful orang-ish red hue.  So many variations to try, and yet this may turn into the go-to recipe for a special dish.