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.