Monday, August 4, 2008

Blackberry Lemon Cream Trifle, Sour Cream Pound Cake and Tips for the Perfect Pound Cake

CSA items used in this recipe: Blackberries

This week was my first venture into making pound cake from scratch. My coworker, Kelley, a baking aficionado, gave me some great tips on achieving pound cake perfection as well as sharing some of her favorite pound cake recipes with me.

I chose to make a sour cream pound cake, which I was planning take to a party on Sunday evening. I did make
the cake and it turned out very moist, dense and delicious, just as it should be. I decided to kick it up a few notches and come up with a trifle recipe using the cake and some of my frozen Crabtree Farm blackberries. I also had quite a few lemons on hand, so I googled for trifle recipes using lemon and blackberries. I found Bobby Flay's recipe for Gingerbread and Lemon Curd Trifle with Blackberry Sauce and adapted it using the ingredients I had on hand.

Instead of gingerbread, of course I used the Sour Cream Pound Cake I'd made. Instead of purchased lemon curd, I made my own using the recipe for the lemon curd filling in my favorite Classic Lemon Tart recipe from America's Test Kitchen.

The result was a delicious summer treat that was a great hit at the party. There were probably 35 to 40 people there and every bite was eaten. Trifles are one of my favorite desserts and one of my favorite to make because they result in such a beautiful presentation. And the slightly tart lemon cream was a nice change from the traditional vanilla custard used in most trifles. The pound cake was so sweet alone (3 cups of sugar) that it didn't need to be topped with a super sweet custard.

On to pound cake tips and recipes. I will offer substitution suggestions below as making this entire dessert from scratch is very time consuming. It would still be a delicious dessert when using a few shortcuts.

Kelley's Tips for the Perfect Pound Cake:
1. Always use real butter. Do not substitute margarine.
2. Ingredients should be at room temperature.
3. Add wet and dry ingredients alternately a little at a time to the creamed mixture (egg, flour, egg, flour, etc.)
4. Do not disturb the cake until specified baking time has been met, then check with toothpick or cake tester inserted in center to check doneness. (If your oven bakes hot, you may want to start checking 5-10 minutes before baking time has elapsed.)
5. Do not overbake!
6. Let pan cool for 15 minutes before turning out cake.

RECIPE: Blackberry Lemon Cream Trifle
Serves 12 to 15

1/2 Sour Cream Pound Cake (see recipe below), cut into 1 inch cubes or use storebought pound cake
1 recipe Lemon Curd (see recipe below) or use two 11 oz. jars lemon curd
2 cups heavy whipping cream, sweetened with sugar and vanilla and beaten to soft peaks
1 recipe Blackberry Sauce (see recipe below)

Fold lemon curd with whipping cream. Cover bottom of trifle bowl with cake cubes. Pour 1/3 of lemon cream over cake, then pour 1/3 of blackberry sauce over lemon cream. Repeat 2 more times. Chill for 4 hours or overnight and serve.

RECIPE: Sour Cream Pound Cake
Serves 12
1/2 lb. unsalted butter (at room temperature)
3 cups sugar
8 oz. sour cream
1/4 t. baking soda
6 eggs (at room temperature)
3 cups sifted cake flour or White Lily all purpose flour (I didn't sift, just poured into a bowled and whisked to break up any clumps)

Preheat oven to 325º. Grease and flour a nonstick bundt cake pan.

Cream butter, add sugar. Combine baking soda and sour cream. Add to butter and sugar mixture and beat well.

Add 2 eggs, 1 cup of flour...2 eggs, 1 cup of flour, etc. Mix well.

Mix in vanilla.

Pour into greased and floured cake pan. Bake for 1 hour. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick or cake tester in the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, remove from the oven. If it doesn't come out clean, continue baking, checking for doneness every few minutes. (Total baking time in my oven was 1 1/2 hours.)

RECIPE: Lemon Curd (copied directly from America's Test Kitchen's Classic Lemon Tart Recipe)

7 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2/3 cup lemon juice from 4 to 5 medium lemons
1/4 cup grated lemon zest
pinch table salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 4 pieces
3 tablespoons heavy cream

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Place tart pan with shell on cookie sheet.

2. In medium non-reactive bowl, whisk together yolks and whole eggs until combined, about 5 seconds. Add sugar and whisk until just combined, about 5 seconds. Add lemon juice, zest, and salt; whisk until combined, about 5 seconds. Transfer mixture to medium non-reactive saucepan, add butter pieces, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with wooden spoon, until curd thickens to thin saucelike consistency and registers 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 5 minutes. Immediately pour curd through single-mesh stainless steel strainer set over clean non-reactive bowl. Stir in heavy cream; pour curd into warm tart shell immediately.

3. Bake until filling is shiny and opaque and until the center 3 inches jiggle slightly when shaken, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 45 minutes. Remove outer metal ring, slide thin metal spatula between bottom crust and tart pan bottom to release, then slip tart onto cardboard round or serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve.

RECIPE: Blackberry Sauce (Adapted from Food Network Recipe)

2 pints fresh blackberries, or 1 bag frozen blackberries, thawed
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch salt
2 tablespoons Chambord (or other raspberry liqueur)
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

Place blackberries, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan and cook until the berries are soft and the sugar has melted. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour through a strainer into a bowl. Stir in the Chambord and lemon juice. Set aside until ready to use.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Pasta with Lemon Basil Cream Sauce, Chicken, Summer Squash, Zucchini, Spinach & Artichoke Hearts

CSA Items used in this recipe: Basil, Garlic, Zucchini and Summer Squash

It's been awhile since I've posted. I've actually done a lot of cooking since the last post. Some of that cooking was done last weekend when visiting a friend in Columbus, Ohio. We both love to cook and together we prepared some fabulous meals, but as this blog is dedicated to recipes that incorporate CSA produce from Crabtree Farms, I didn't blog any of those recipes. I've also created a few other new dishes, but feel a couple of them need refining, so when I try them again and feel they are worthy of the time it takes to document them, I will definitely share them.

On to tonight's recipe. I've been getting a bunch of basil and a head of garlic each week for the last few weeks in my CSA and I've made several batches of pesto. I also get lots of summer squash and zucchini each week. So tonight I made up another batch of pesto. I love pesto. I think I could eat it every day and never ever tire of it, but I did decide to change things up a bit and use it as a seasoning rather than the predominant flavor of the dish. The result was a delicious lemon wine sauce with a hint of pesto. Tim and I definitely enjoyed it, but we weren't the only ones. One of our babies, Fossie (short for Foster - long story) begged at our feet the whole time we were eating and as soon as we turned our heads, was licking our platters clean.

RECIPE: Pasta with Lemon Basil Cream Sauce, Chicken, Summer Squash, Zucchini & Artichoke Hearts
Serves 4 to 5

1.5 lbs boneless butterflied chicken breast
1 T. olive oil
Kosher Salt and Ground Black Pepper

10 oz. dry pasta, cooked according to package directions (I used a spiral pasta called Gemelli)

1/2 cup summer squash, chopped into 1/4 inch X 1 inch strips
1/2 cup zucchini, chopped into 1/4 inch X 1 inch strips
1 jar artichoke hearts (not marinated) drained
3 T. prepared basil pesto (click here for recipe)
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 T. goat cheese
2 cups spinach leaves

Grated Romano or Parmesan Cheese for Garnish

Cut each chicken breast into quarters and pound with a meat mallet to a uniform thickness (about 3/8 in.). Press between paper towels to remove excess moisture and season each side with kosher salt and ground black pepper. Heat olive oil in a large grill pan set over two burners to medium high heat. Brown chicken on each side and cook until meat thermometer measures and internal temperature of 160º. Remove chicken from grill pan, place on a plate and tent with foil.

Add summer squash and zucchini to pan and sauté for 3 minutes. Add artichokes and basil pesto and stir to combine. Add lemon juice, wine, cream and goat cheese and stir. Slice chicken into 1/4 inch wide strips. Add chicken back to pan with 2 cups spinach and continue stirring until spinach is wilted. Add cooked and drain pasta to pan and toss to combine. Add salt and ground black pepper to taste.

Serve pasta with grated cheese.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Baked Panko and Romano Breaded Green Tomatoes with Sautéed Kale and Pesto and Red Pepper Aiolis

CSA Items used in this recipe: Ripe Tomato, Basil, Garlic, Kale

I can't think of many summer foods I look forward to more than fried green tomatoes and since I've been trying to cook on the lighter side, I decided to apply America's Test Kitchen's baked chicken parmesan technique to fried green tomatoes since it resulted in perfectly crispy breaded chicken when I made their recipe and and also when I applied the technique to mahi mahi in my fish taco recipe.

The green tomato was not part of my CSA produce.  I picked it up at the Chattanooga Market.  It was very firm, but I didn't think much of that.  So once I removed the breaded tomatoes from the oven, they were still very firm.  Since this recipe involves browning the bread crumbs in a skillet before coating the tomatoes, next time I will brown the bread crumbs a little less and cook the tomatoes 2 to 5 minutes longer.  I cooked the tomatoes for 10 minutes, but I've altered the recipe below to reflect a longer cooking time.   I think after a few more minutes, the tomatoes would have been just fine and I'll definitely try this again with a longer cooking time.

The fried green tomatoes were still very tasty despite being firm and Tim and I enjoyed them on a bed of sautéed kale and chopped vidalia onions alongside two aiolis I made by combining basil pesto (see my recipe in linked post) and ghoulash cream with light mayonnaise, respectively.  I also topped the finished dish with chopped ripe red tomato.

Recipe: Baked Panko and Romano Breaded Green Tomatoes
Serves 3-4 as an appetizer

1 large green tomato, sliced in 1/4 inch thick slices (about 8 large slices)
1.5 c. panko bread crumbs
1 t. olive oil
1/4 c. grated pecorino romano (or other hard italian grating cheese such as parmesan or grana padano)
2/3 c. unbleached flour
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. ground black pepper
1 whole egg, whisked
Cooking Oil Spray

Preheat oven to 450º.  Line a baking sheet with foil and set a baking rack inside baking sheet.

In a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat, add the panko bread crumbs and oil and stir to mix evenly.  Continue stirring bread crumbs until lightly browned.  Pour bread crumbs in a shallow bowl and allow to cool.  Mix grated cheese evenly with the bread crumbs.

Spray baking sheet evenly with cooking oil spray.  Mix flour evenly with garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Working one at a time, coat each tomato slice with flour, then dip in the egg, then coat evenly in the panko/cheese mixture.  Lay each tomato slice on baking rack.  Once all slices are coated, spray the top sides of the tomatoes evenly with cooking spray.  Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Serving suggestion:  Serve on a bed of sautéed kale and vidalia onions and top with chopped ripe tomatoes. Serve with basil pesto aioli and/or another dip of your preference.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Picadillo Purple Cabbage Rolls & Rosemary Garlic Roasted Purple Potatoes and Baby Beets

CSA items used in these recipes: Purple Cabbage, Purple Potatoes, Baby Beets, Carrots, Tomato, Garlic

Finally another post!  I made these dishes for dinner on Saturday.

Many years ago my good friend, Mirtha, taught me how to make Cuban Picadillo.  I love all her Cuban dishes, but picadillo has always been my favorite.  Picadillo is often served with yellow rice and black beans or sealed in pastry to make deep fried picadillo empanadas.  Since I had a lovely purple cabbage I decided to stuff the cabbage leaves with picadillo and make cabbage rolls. 

I believe Cuban picadillo typically includes potatoes, but Mirtha substitutes apples which provide a sweet contrast to the salty Spanish olives.  I used an apple as well and also added diced carrots.  

I needed a side dish so I decided to stick with the purple theme since there were also purple potatoes in this week's CSA.   I decided to roast the potatoes and since I didn't have many, I supplemented them with the remaining baby beets from a couple of weeks ago.  I tossed the potatoes and beets with olive oil, fresh CSA garlic and minced rosemary from my garden and roasted them in the oven.  The purple potatoes were good roasted.  They were slightly crispy and creamy and smooth on the inside.

Once again, dinner was a hit!  Tim made the comment the picadillo would be a good sloppy joe substitute.  I might try serving it on a bun sometime with a good melting cheese.

If you don't wish to make cabbage rolls, you can serve the picadillo alongside the rice rather than mixing it in or try making empanadas.

RECIPE: Picadillo Purple Cabbage Rolls
Serves 4-6

1.25 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 apple, diced
1 medium carrot, diced (I used 3 young carrots)
3 medium cloves of garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 t. ground cumin
2 t. dried oregano (or 4 t. chopped fresh oregano)
1/4 c. raisins
1/3 c. green olives (Any green olives are fine - spanish pimiento-stuffed, cracked green olives, etc.  I used some small green olives with thyme that I bought at the Middle Eastern grocery.)
2 T. brine from green olives
1 small can tomato sauce
1 large or 2 small tomatoes, diced
1/4 c. water
Salt and Pepper to taste

1 package yellow rice mix, cooked according to package instructions to yield about 3 cups of cooked rice (or use your imagination and make your own rice. I used long grain and wild rice since I did not have saffron rice.)

12-16 large purple cabbage leaves for stuffing

Press ground beef between paper towels to remove excess moisture.  This will make browning easier.  Heat large skillet (I used a chicken fryer) over medium high to high heat.  Crumble ground beef and add to heated skillet.  Continue cooking until beef begins to brown and some bits are caramelized.  (It's okay if the beef appears dry.  Cooking it until it caramelizes will result in more flavor.)

Add onion, apple and carrots to the pan and sauté until the onions are soft.  Add the minced garlic and cook for about 30 seconds until fragrant.  Add the bay leaves, cumin and oregano, raisins, olives, olive brine, 1/2 the can of tomato sauce and the chopped tomatoes.  Cooking, stirring occasionally for five minutes.  Add the cooked rice to the pan and stir to combine.Taste Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired.  Reduce heat to medium low and cover. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, while preparing the cabbage leaves for stuffing.  

To prepare cabbage leaves for stuffing, cook for 5 minutes in a vegetable steamer or place 1 cup of water in the bottom of a plastic mixing bowl, set a plastic colander inside the mixing bowl, placing the cabbage leaves in the colander and covering the top of the colander with plastic wrap.  Microwave on high for 3 minutes.

To stuff the cabbage leaves, place small amount of picadillo near the stem end of a leaf, fold over once, fold in each side and fold to close.  Place the rolls in a skillet.  Mix the other half of the can of tomato sauce with the water and pour over the cabbage rolls.  Place a lid on the skillet and heat over medium heat.  Steam cabbage rolls for five minutes and serve.

RECIPE: Rosemary Garlic Roasted Purple Potatoes & Baby Beets
Serves 2-3

2 cups small purple potatoes, quartered
1 cup baby beets, cut in half
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. minced rosemary
1 T. olive oil
1/2 t. ground pepper
1 t. kosher salt

Preheat oven to 500º.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  In a large bowl, toss the potatoes and beets with the garlic, rosemary, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Spread potatoes and beets evenly on the baking sheet.  Cook for 10 minutes and turn with a spatula.  Cook another 5-10 minutes until potatoes are fork tender.  Serve.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Shrimp, Roasted Vegetable and Basil Pesto Pasta

CSA Items used in the following recipes: Basil, garlic, eggplant, spring carrots, zucchini, summer squash, Walla Walla spring onions, broccoli and chives

This weeks CSA included a beautiful and tasty variety of vegetables and herbs including 2 eggplants, several squash, 3 tomatoes, a bunch of spring carrots, a head of broccoli, a beautiful red cabbage, a few green beans, a bunch of basil, a head of garlic and some chives.

I made pesto with the basil last night. I added a little white wine vinegar to some of the pesto and made a savory vinaigrette for my salad for lunch today and decided to use the rest in a pasta recipe for dinner tonight. I love pesto and I often find when I mix it with pasta it gets a little watered down and tastes bland, so I decided to roast vegetables to add to the pasta in order to intensify the flavor of the dish. I also sautéed some tender, sweet Louisiana gulf shrimp and added them to the dish. The result was a success. Tim says this is the best CSA dish yet and I have to agree with him!

RECIPE: Roasted Vegetable, Shrimp and Basil Pesto Pasta
Serves 4-6

2 small or one large eggplant
olive oil for drizzling
balsamic glaze for drizzling
salt and pepper

8 spring carrots
1 medium zucchini
1 medium summer squash
1 small head broccoli
1 bunch spring onions (or green onions with large bulbs)
olive oil for drizzling
balsamic glaze for drizzling
salt and pepper

1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (preferably wild caught)

12 oz pasta such as penne or rotini, cooked according to package directions

1 recipe Basil Pesto (see below for recipe or use 1 cup prepared pesto)

Optional garnish: Grated pecorino romano (or other hard grated Italian cheese such as parmigiano reggiano or grana padano) and chopped chives

Preheat oven to 400º. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with very thin layer of olive oil. Cut eggplant into large cubes. Place eggplant pieces in bowl and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic glaze. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix with a large spoon until evenly coated. Spread evenly on aluminum foil and roast 10-15 minutes until tender. Use spatula to loosen eggplant from foil and wrap foil loosely around eggplant to keep warm.

While eggplant is roasting, slice squash into 1/4 in. thick slices. Rinse broccoli and cut off florets, reserving stem for another use. Cut onion bulbs from spring onions, remove outer skin, cut off roots and rinse. Scrape baby carrots and rinse. Pat vegetables with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Place another piece of foil on baking sheet and spray with cooking spray or oil lightly. Place vegetables in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic glaze. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix with large spoon until evenly coated. Spread evenly on aluminum foil and roast 15-20 minutes, stirring once, until tender.

While vegetables are roasting, cook pasta according to package instructions.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat and add shrimp. Saute until shrimp are pink and opaque. Remove from heat.

Drain pasta and add back to pan with roasted vegetables, shrimp and pesto. Toss together until evenly coated.

Serve, sprinkling each serving with a little grated cheese and chopped chives.

RECIPE: Basil Pesto
Makes about 1 cup

1/2 c. grated pecorino romano (or other grated hard Italian cheese such as parmigiano reggiano or grana padano)
2 T sliced almonds (or pine nuts or chopped walnuts)
1 bunch basil
1 head roasted garlic, cloves divided and peeled or 2 cloves uncooked garlic, minced (NOTE: To roast garlic, remove out layers of garlic skin and cut off top to expose tops of individual cloves - drizzle a small amount of olive oil over cloves, wrap garlic head in foil and roast in a toaster oven for 20 minutes or until it feels tender when slightly squeezed)
olive oil

Place cheese and almonds in food processor and process until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add basil and peeled roasted garlic or uncooked garlic. While processing, slowly drizzle olive oil into processor until mixture comes together and forms a smooth paste.
If not using immediately, place in a small container, cover with a thin layer of olive oil and store in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

This Week's CSA and Broiled Eggplant Recipe

I haven't posted in a couple of weeks because I was on vacation, so a friend picked up my CSA bag last week and she and her family enjoyed it.  I plan to post later about my trip to British Columbia where I enjoyed lots of delicious local food including seafood and vegetables as well as some fabulous British Columbia wines.

Today's CSA bag brought a much greater variety of items.  There was a bunch of young carrots, a bunch of baby beets, two heads of "German Porcelain" garlic, zucchini and summer squash, a lovely shiny purple eggplant, a large, almost ripe tomato, and more "Sweet Jewel" strawberries and collards.

I came home and made a lovely salad and topped it with some chopped carrots and baby beets. I didn't actually read my vegetable list before I started chopping and thought the "radishes" looked unusual inside.  They were striped like beets.  Well, that's because they were beets!  I put them on the salad anyway and they were delicious.  I'm glad I mistook them.  They had the same crunchy texture of radish and while they had a little bit of the bite of a radish, they were sweeter.  Of course the carrots were tender, sweet and crunchy.

I decided to go ahead and cook the eggplant while it was still so fresh.  I'm going to have it for lunch tomorrow with pasta and marinara sauce.  Following is my recipe for preparing broiled eggplant.

RECIPE: Broiled Eggplant
Serves 3 as a main dish or 5-6 as an hors d'oeuvres

1 large eggplant
Kosher salt
2 T olive oil or flavored oil such as basil oil
1 T sweet balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze
Ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmaggiano Reggiano

Slice the eggplant into 3/4 inch rounds.  Rub the surface of both sides of the eggplant sliceswith kosher salt and let stand between two paper towels and let stand for about 30 minutes to remove some of the moisture and bitterness. 

Set a baking rack in a cookie sheet and brush lightly with olive oil.

Wipe salt from surface of eggplant slices.  Mix 2 tablespoons of olive oil or basil oil with a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar (use a sweeter balsamic or balsamic glaze - not a harsh vinegary variety).  Brush both sides of eggplant slices with oil/balsamic mixture and sprinkle with ground black pepper.

Place slices on baking rack and set pan on middle rack of oven.  Broil for 4-5 minutes until balsamic caramelizes.  Remove from oven, turn over eggplant pieces and brush with oil/balsamic mixture on second side, sprinkle with ground black pepper and grated parmesan cheese.  Broil another 4-5 minutes until second side caramelizes.

Serve as a main dish with a side of pasta and marina or cut into cubes and serve as an hors d'ouevres.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

One Dish Wonder - Sweet and Spicy Pork, Quinoa and Vegetables

CSA items used in this recipe:  Mixed Greens, Kohlrabi, Shiitake Mushrooms, Garlic Scapes

It's Wednesday and Week 3 of CSA.  It is still early in the season, so this week's bag was again full of lettuces, greens and kohlrabi, which was much larger this week.  I came straight home with the bag and set to work on dinner.

I started a cup of quinoa cooking in the rice cooker.  Then I sliced up a variety of vegetables, and some boneless pork.  I whipped up a stir fry sauce with pineapple preserves, ginger, tamari, chili garlic sauce, water, black pepper and cornstarch and tossed it with the cooked vegetables and pork and then mixed in the quinoa and served.  

This was my first experience with cooked kohlrabi.  It had a mild, slighty sweet taste and crispness which I liked.  The quinoa and shiitakes gave the dish such a meaty texture, that it really didn't need the pork. This would be a great vegan dish with the substitution of more mushrooms and/or tofu in place of the pork.

RECIPE: Sweet and Spicy Pork, Quinoa and Vegetables
Serves 6 as a main dish

1 c. dry Inca Red Quinoa, cooked according to package directions

1/2 c. pineapple preserves or other fruit preserves such as peach or passionfruit
3 T. tamari soy sauce
1 t. chili garlic sauce
1 t. grated fresh ginger
3 T. water
1 1/2 t. cornstarch
ground black pepper

3 T. vegetable or peanut oil

1.5 lbs. boneless pork, sliced in 1/4 inch strips
salt and pepper

1 small vidalia onion, chopped
3 garlic scapes, chopped (or 2 garlic cloves, minced)
1 c. chopped red bell pepper (about 1/2 a large pepper)
4 c. mixed greens such as swiss chard, kale and collards, hard stems removed, leaves sliced into 1 inch wide strips
1 large kohlrabi bulb, peeled and sliced 1/4 in. thick by 1/2 inch wide strips
1 c. shiitake mushrooms, slicked 1/4 inch thick

Make Stir Fry Sauce:  In a small bowl, mix preserves, tamari, chili garlic sauce, ginger, water and cornstarch.  Add ground black pepper to taste.  Set aside.

In a large nonstick wok or skillet, heat 2 T. oil over high heat (reduce heat if your stove tends to cook hot).  Salt and pepper sliced pork and add to hot skillet.  Saute until pork slices turn opaque.  Remove pork to a medium bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.

Wipe out skillet and add remaining 1 T. oil.  When oil is hot, add onions and garlic scapes and saute for 2 minutes until onions begin to soften.  Add red bell pepper and mixed greens and saute another 2 minutes until greens are wilted.  Add kohlrabi and mushrooms and saute another 2 minutes.  Drain pork and add it to pan with vegetables.  Pour stir fry sauce over pork and vegetables in skillet and mix with a large spoon to coat.  Add cooked quinoa to skillet and mix in evenly.  Remove from heat and serve.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Asian Fusion Exclusion - UnStrawberry Orange Chicken Lettuce Wraps

CSA items used in this recipe: Garlic Scapes, Radishes, Bibb Lettuce

I have been thinking on the recipe for this post all weekend.  I wanted to use the strawberries in an Asian-inspired stir fry and I was determined it was going to work, despite the naysayings of a couple of friends, including Cynic. (Real name withheld to protect the innocent.  NOT!) I should know by now to take the advice of this wise woman as I've poo-pooed her advice before only to find myself in a mess, but as always I had to find out for myself. (Photo to the right is of Cynic and me loving on Homer.)

I have revised the recipe name from Strawberry Orange Chicken Lettuce Wraps to Orange Chicken Lettuce Wraps.  The strawberries were not terrible and there wasn't a morsel of the dish left when dinner was over.  However, I would not include them when I make this again. Although not offensive, they didn't add to the dish and they were more on the tangy side than I would have liked. I've made some other modifications to the recipe, including:
  • This was the first time I cooked garlic scapes (I used them raw in the other recipes) and I found the garlic flavor is much milder when cooked.  I wanted more garlic flavor, so I have added a minced garlic clove to the recipe in addition to the two chopped garlic scapes which are all I used tonight.
  • I used 2 teaspoons of grated ginger and I wish the ginger flavor had been more pronounced.  I upped the quantity to 1 tablespoon.
  • I increased the number of radishes from 5 to 8.  The radishes were very mild, but added a crunchy element.
  • I added only 1 tablespoon of brown sugar when I made the dish, but I was hoping for more sweetness.  I upped the amount to 2 tablespoons in the recipe.
I highly recommend this recipe with the modifications even if I did make it up myself. 

I served the lettuce wraps with Thai Kitchen Green Chile & Garlic Rice.  The coconutty sweetness of this rice side dish provided a nice counterbalance to the acid of the oranges.

RECIPE: Strawberry Orange Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Serves 4 as a Main Dish

For marinade/sauce:
2/3 c. orange juice (preferably freshly squeezed)
1 T. tamari soy sauce (or regular soy sauce, but tamari is recommended for fuller flavor)
1 t. chili garlic sauce (available in Asian section of most grocery stores - omit if you do not like spicy foods or use dried chile flakes to your taste)
1 T. cornstarch 
1 T. grated fresh ginger
1/2 t. grated orange zest (omit if not using freshly squeezed orange juice)
1/4 t. sesame oil (optional)

1 lb. boneless chicken breast, sliced in 1/4 in. slices

2 T. brown sugar

1 T. vegetable oil, peanut oil or other light oil (I used Annie's Natural's Basil Olive Oil)
2 garlic scapes, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced (use 2 cloves if not using garlic scapes)
8 small radishes sliced thinly (about 1/2 cup) - or 1/2 cup slivered almonds or water chestnuts
1/2 medium vidalia or other sweet onion, sliced in 1/4 inch strips (about 1 cup)
1/2 large red bell pepper, sliced in 1/4 inch strips (about 1 cup)

Optional: 3 T. fresh basil, sliced in thin strips

Whole bibb lettuce leaves
Sweet and Spicy Dipping Sauce (Recipe follows)

Whisk marinade ingredients together.  Slice chicken, pour half of marinade over and stir to combine.  Allow to marinate while prepping the other ingredients.

Add brown sugar to the remaining marinade and whisk with a fork to combine.  Set aside.

Chop garlic scapes, mince garlic, slice onion and red bell pepper and set aside.  Rinse and dry bibb lettuce leaves and return to refrigerator to keep crisp.  Prepare Sweet and Spicy Dipping Sauce per the recipe below.

Heat a large non-stick skillet or wok over high heat (lower temperature if your stove burns foods easily on high).  Swirl oil in hot skillet or wok.  Pour off marinade from chicken and add chicken to hot skillet a little at a time.  Stir-fry for 3-4 minutes until the chicken pieces turn white.  Add garlic, radishes, onion and peppers to the skillet with the chicken and stir fry for a couple of minutes.  Pour remaining marinade over the chicken and vegetables and stir fry another minute.  Remove from heat and toss in optional fresh basil if using.

Serve with bibb lettuce leaves for wrapping and Sweet and Spicy Dipping Sauce.

RECIPE: Sweet and Spicy Dipping Sauce

1 T. tamari
1 T. water
1 t. chili garlic sauce (use more if you like it hotter)
2 t. brown sugar

Whisk the above ingredients together.  Serve in small individual bowls as a sauce for dipping the lettuce wraps.  Increase ingredients proportionately if you want more sauce.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

CSA Week 2 Bounty

This week's produce looks much the same as last week. It included lettuces, radishes, kohlrabi, strawberries, garlic scapes and swiss chard.  I still have shiitakes left from last week and plan to use them in a sauteed veal cutlet dish this weekend which I will share with you, so stay tuned.

Check out the lovely flowers which were also included this week.  I was afraid I'd pulled a bit of a Lennie and manhandled them too much while arranging them, but they're still perky.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos and Pico de Gallo Salsa

CSA Items used in these recipes: Garlic Scapes, Baby Leaf Lettuce, Kohlrabi

Tonight I made one of my specialties - fish tacos and homemade salsa to compliment them. 

Usually I deep fry the fish, but since we're trying to slim down around here, I adapted a couple of recipes from America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Illustrated.  They've developed a method of breading and baking fish and chicken that is very light and very similar to the fried version. You'd be hard pressed to tell the difference.

I used garlic scapes instead of the usual garlic cloves in the salsa, but I did so in moderation.  I learned when making the bruschetta yesterday that a little bit of garlic scapes goes a long way.

The Pickled Kohlrabi and Vidalia Onion recipe that I threw together yesterday added a nice sweet and sour crunch to the tacos.  I will definitely make it again.

Following are the recipes for tonight's meal:

RECIPE: Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos
Makes 6 to 7 tacos

1 c. Panko bread crumbs
2 t. olive oil
8 oz. mahi mahi filets
2 egg whites
1/2 t. smoked paprika
1/2 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. hot pepper sauce (I prefer Texas Pete)
Cooking oil spray
Soft corn tortillas
Pico de Gallo Salsa for garnish
Pickled Kohlrabi and Vidalia Onions for garnish
Sour Cream for garnish

Set rack in top middle section of oven and preheat to 450º.  Cover bottom of baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Place baking rack in pan and spray evenly with cooking oil spray.  

Heat non-stick skillet to medium high heat.  Add panko bread crumbs and olive oil to skillet and mix well.  Continue stirring occasionally until bread crumbs turn a light golden brown, about 5 minutes, and remove from heat.

Pat mahi mahi filets dry, salt and pepper them and slice them into 1/2 inch thick chunks. 

Whisk together egg whites, smoked paprika, cumin and hot pepper sauce.  Toss mahi mahi chunks in egg white mixture, then roll in panko bread crumbs.

Place coated fish pieces on baking rack and spray tops evenly with cooking oil spray.  Bake for 7-9 minutes until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Place a couple of pieces of fish in center of each tortilla and garnish as desired.

RECIPE: Pico de Gallo Salsa
Makes about 2 cups

3 small tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 small vidalia onion, chopped
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped (I didn't have any onhand, so I added about 1/4 t. of dried crushed chipotle pepper which added a pleasant hint of smoke and heat)
1 garlic scape, thinly sliced (or 1 minced garlic clove)
2 T. cilantro, coarsely chopped
1/4 t. lime zest
1 T. lime juice
1 t. kosher salt

Mix all the above ingredients in a medium bowl.  Serve as an accompaniment to tacos and/or as a dip with tortilla chips.  Best if left to sit for about 30 minutes.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Bruschetta & Shrimp Pasta

CSA Items mentioned in this post: Garlic Scapes

Since I have plenty of vidalia onions, tomatoes and fresh basil on hand, I decided to make bruschetta.  After making the bruschetta, I realized it was almost lunch time and wondered how I could make it part of a meal, so I decided to sauté shrimp, cook some pasta and toss it all together with freshly grated parmagianno reggiano and crumbled feta.  

The bruschetta was very nice by itself on crackers and it wasn't too bad tossed with the pasta and shrimp, but if I do this again, I'll make a couple of modifications.  First, I'll use a different type of pasta - probably fettuccine or angel hair. And second, rather than mixing the cheese in with the warm shrimp and bruschetta, which resulted in soggy cheese, I'll mix the shrimp, bruschetta and pasta and then top the plated servings of the mixture with cheese. 

Following is the recipe.  The bruschetta is also great as a snack or first course on crostinis and topped with a little shaved parmaggiano reggiano or similar hard Italian cheese.

RECIPE: Bruschetta
Serves 4 to 5 as an appetizer

2 small ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 small vidalia onion, diced
2 garlic scapes, finely chopped (substitution: 1 clove minced garlic)
3 T. basil, coarsely chopped
2 t. extra virgin olive oil (I use Colavita for everyday cooking)
Salt and pepper to taste
Shaved parmaggiano reggiano or other Italian hard cheese

Mix all ingredients and add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve on crostini and garnish with a little shaved cheese or mix into pasta (recipe follows).

RECIPE: Bruschetta and Shrimp Pasta
Serves 2

One recipe Bruschetta (see above)
20 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 T. olive oil
6 oz. cooked pasta (6 oz. dry weight before cooking)
1/4 c. shredded parmaggiano reggiano
2 T. crumbled feta (I used Bonnie Blue Goat Milk Feta)

Prepare bruschetta per recipe.  While pasta cooks according to package directions, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels.  When skillet is hot, add shrimp and sauté a couple of minutes until opaque. Remove shrimp from skillet to a bowl to stop the cooking process. Drain the pasta and toss with the bruschetta and shrimp. Plate the mixture and top each serving with parmesan and feta. 

Pickled Kohlrabi & Vidalia Onions

This week's Crabtree Farms CSA was chock full of lettuces, a kohlrabi bulb, garlic scapes, radishes, rosemary and sage.

I am momentarily going into the kitchen to attempt a kohlrabi and vidalia onion pickle since someone gave Tim a bag full of Vidalia onions.  I'll be back later to document the process and the results!

Okay!  I'm back.  Here's what I did with the kohlrabi.  I'm going to let it marinate a few days and let you know how I end up using it.  I'm thinking it would make a nice condiment for fish tacos.

RECIPE: Pickled Kohlrabi and Vidalia Onions

1 medium kohlrabi bulb, peeled and sliced into matchstick size pieces
1/2 Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
1/3 c. white wine vinegar
2 T. sugar
1/2 t. dijon mustard
1/2 t. mild goulash paste (basically roasted red peppers and salt - highly salted and savory!)

Heat the vinegar, sugar, dijon mustard and ghoulash paste in a small saucepan and whisk until all ingredients are evenly dispersed and sugar has dissolved.  Remove from heat and pour mixture over kohlrabi and onion.  Marinate in sealed container in the refrigerator for a couple of days, stirring occasionally.