Friday, December 30, 2011

Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons

I love recipes that use an entire store portion of an ingredient, especially ingredients that I don't use everyday, like sweetened condensed milk and shredded coconut for instance. This recipe ranks high in this regard, and the macaroons are super tasty too. I particularly like how the sweetness of the macaroon is balanced by the bittersweet chocolate dip. You can drizzle the top of each macaroon with a bit of chocolate too, but I guess I was a heavy dipper and barely had enough chocolate to dip all the cookies. Oops... So, I added another 2 ounces of chocolate to the recipe, 6 ounces instead of 4 ounces, if you want to drizzle. 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Pomegranate Cleaning Tips

Super healthy- check
Super seasonal- check
Super pain to clean- most definitely

I love pomegranate seeds in salads, with yogurt and granola, alone as a snack, and floating in Prosecco. Until recently though, I avoided pomegranates since they're such a pain to clean, but now I've learned a simple technique to avoid stains and make prepping pomegranates painless.

You'll need:
1 pomegranate (or more!)
1 large bowl filled with water
1 pairing knife
1 sieve

Carefully cut off the ends of the pomegranate but only cut off the red outer layer. If you cut too deep you'll hit the first layer of pomegranate seeds (I hit one seed in the picture below).

Next, score the pomegranate skin 4 times, as if you were going to quarter the pomegranate. Just slice through the red outer layer and barely into the white pith.

Now, this is going to be where the large bowl of water becomes your best friend. Holding the pomegranate under the water, pry one scored section away from the fruit. This will reveal your first set of seeds while the water prevents any rogue juice spray from broken seeds.

Continuing to work under the water, use your thumbs to gently separate the seeds from the white pith. The seeds will sink and the pith will float, which is another added bonus of the water bath.

Continue working with the section until all the seeds are freed and then return to the pomegranate and pry apart another section. Eventually you'll end up with a pile of pit and skin like this.

Pour the excess water out of the bowl but try not to let any seeds escape. Then, place the seeds in a sieve so that you can give the seeds a quick rinse with fresh water and remove any lingering pith. Now you are the proud owner of cleaned pomegranate seeds without stains. 

Prosecco with Pomegranate Jewels

Add a touch of seasonal bling to your champagne flutes the next time you pop open some bubbly. The pomegranate seeds will float, sink, and generally bobble about but they won't alter the flavor of your drink since the seeds are sealed. I do think, however, that pomegranate compliments Prosecco very well, but that's just me. To read my pomegranate cleaning tips, click here.

Prosecco with Pomegranate Jewels

Prosecco (or any sparkling wine you'd like)
1 Pomegranate, seeds separated

- Drop 10-15 pomegranate seeds in the bottom of each champagne flute and fill with Prosecco.

* Update *
- I made another batch of jeweled Prosecco and was quite surprised to see none of the pomegranate seeds floating... none. It was a new type of Prosecco, but I was using the same seeds, albeit they were a few days older. I had fresh pomegranate seeds around as well, which all tumbled about and floated to the top of the glass... So, depending on the freshness of your pomegranate seeds their buoyancy will totally vary, but will still look great.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Arugula Pesto

Love arugula and want a new way to enjoy it? In addition to mixing arula into salads and wilting into pasta dishes, try arugula pesto. Arugula pesto is easy to make, keeps for several days in the fridge, and is a nice alternative to basil pesto. Try it spread on grilled meats, tossed with pasta, as a sandwich spread, or crostini.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

CSA Box- Picking up your veggies on a bike.

There are only a handful of days until Thanksgiving and we're deep into November, but it's still sunny. Is this a bad thing? Certainly not. When the sun sets at 5:30 pm and you're buried in dark leafy greens, winter squash, and persimmons, it's unmistakably fall.

How does one take advantage of a crisp fall day? I suggest frolicking about in some fallen leaves, or pick up your CSA box on your bike. Watch out that you don't put your baby gem lettuces or persimmons underneath the delicata squash in your saddle bag.

I can't get enough of these delicate, tiny, little lettuces. 

You can leave your kale and leek greens peaking out the top of your saddle bag because 1) there's no way they'd fit in the bag anyway and 2) it looks pretty cool, especially when the kale is purple.

This week's box contents:

1 lb Fuyu Persimmons
1½ lbs French Fingerling Potatoes
½ lb Green Bell Peppers
1 bunch Red Beets
2 Delicata Squash
3-4 Little Gem Lettuce
2 Leeks
1 Celery Root
1 bunch Red Bor Kale

Menu Ideas:

- Little gem salad with apple cider vinaigrette, pomegranate seeds (from last week's farm box), and goat cheese.

- Roasted celery root, delicata squash, beets, and fingerling potatoes with roast chicken.

- Sautéed kale, italian turkey sausage, and roasted delicata squash atop penne or israeli couscous.

- Clean and slice the green peppers and freeze in a ziploc bag so they'll be ready for a pasta sauce, omelette, or stir fry at a moment's notice.

- Leek and goat cheese crostini.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sweet corn chowder

I dropped the ball on this post. I didn't take any pictures of this recipe... So you'll have to use your imagination a bit. Picture a creamy soup dotted with bits of potato, sweet corn, and bacon that is flecked with fresh parsley and lemon thyme. A great summer-fall transition recipe, you can use summer's last sweet corn to make a cozy soup. High quality frozen sweet corn also might work well, but I haven't tried it yet.

Here's a photo from a recent trip that I took. Not necessarily the same as a corn chowder picture, but the view from Heavenly is not too hard on the eyes. All I think about when I see Tahoe during the summer months is, "I can't wait for it to start snowing!"

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Thai Pumpkin Curry

I received my first Kabocha squash in my farm box this week, which after a bit of research I learned is a Japanese variety of winter squash and is also referred to as Japanese pumpkin. Like other winter squashes, it is rich in beta carotene and also contains vitamin C, iron, and potassium. It's also supposed to be an aphrodisiac and I thought this curry dish turned out beautifully, but now I'm not sure if the curry tasted good as I thought or the squash's 'magic property' influenced that opinion... Either way, I think the recipe is worth a shot. You can make the curry within the time it takes to make brown rice, so you'll have a healthy, veggie-packed meal on the table during the week without too much fuss.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

CSA Box- Vegetables for Breakfast

If there's one thing a farm box subscription will do, besides make you eat more vegetables and be in touch with what's in season, it makes you creative. For instance, what do you do with an excess of cucumber and baby sweet red peppers? Well, you could slice them both paper-thin with a mandolin and put them on a sandwich with goat cheese...

Farm box challenge #2: What do you do with extra tomatoes, turnip greens, and summer squash? Well, I chopped up the summer squash and tomatoes and sautéed them in olive oil and threw in the chopped turnip greens at the end so they just wilted. Then, make an omelette and throw in the veggies with a bit of goat cheese... (Yes, there's a goat cheese trend here. Goat cheese is awesome and I had it in the fridge this week. I find having some cheeses on hand make eating the random assortment of vegetables that much easier).

As far as this week's box goes, it's been another summer/fall transition mix, which is quite fun. Amazing tomatoes and crisp cucumbers alongside sweet winter squash and chard! Happy Sunday everyone, more to come soon.

This week's box Contents:

1¼ lbs Green Beans
2 Cucumbers
1 lb Tomatoes
1 bunch Chard
1 Red Kabocha Squash
1 bunch Tokyo Turnips (with greens)
¾ lb Summer Squash
1 lb Yellow Onions
1 bunch Red Beets (with greens)

Menu Ideas:

- Veggie omelets with sautéed tomatoes, beet or turnip greens, summer squash, and goat cheese.

- Roasted turnips and beets. Serve as a side dish or on top of a green salad.

- Sautéed kale as a side or on top of pasta with the tomatoes (oven roasted or sautéed) like this recipe.

- Thai red curry with winter squash, green beans, and chicken atop brown rice.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Grapefruit Campari sorbet - David Lebovitz

My trips home during summer always provide much needed time for relaxation, but also come with a few surprises.  This year, a sweet little deer was born in our back yard 10 feet from our house-

But back to the relaxation part, I don't know about you, but I cook to relax. So when I go home, I cook a lot. A lot a lot a lot. And it's absolute heaven. I have access to a bigger kitchen with a great stove and *gasp* a DISHWASHER!!! Heaven. On this particular visit, I spent a lot of time with the ice cream maker and was only further convinced that if you want great desserts, especially frozen treats, consult David Lebovitz and you won't be disappointed. His recipe for grapefruit Campari sorbet is available on his food blog, but I've since bought his cookbook, The Perfect Scoop. Ginger ice cream, chocolate Guinness ice cream, peach ice cream, melon sorbet, chocolate sorbet, and I'm only getting started. So good.

The grapefruit Campari sorbet is light, fresh, and sweet with just a hint of bitterness to balance everything out. A refreshing dessert that would be a simple and elegant option to serve at your next gathering. If you really want to jazz it up, pour a bit of champagne or prosecco over the sorbet before serving.

Grapefruit Campari sorbet

3 cups freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice (3 to 4 pink grapefruits)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Campari

- Warm 1 cup of the grapefuit juice and the sugar, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.

- Remove the juice/sugar mixture from the stove and stir in the rest of the grapefruit juice and Campari.

- Chill the sorbet base thoroughly (I usually do this overnight) and freeze in your ice cream maker following the manufacturer's instructions. 

Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

CSA Box- Fall is in the air, but so is summer. . .

It's 80˚F as I sit here and write on this very summery day in September. Yup, summer took it's dear sweet time to arrive this year, which has left plants and humans rather confused about the current season. This week's vegetable box also is a bit confused since it includes token summer vegetables (tomatoes, sweet peppers, and cucumbers) and brand new fall vegetables (chard, potatoes, and winter squash). I'm just glad, honestly, that there isn't any melon this week. But don't worry, I still have a left over melon from last week just in case I go into melon withdraw.

This week's box contents:

¾ lb Green Beans
2 Cucumbers
1 bunch Scarlet Queen Turnips
1½ lbs Tomatoes
½ lb Sweet Peppers
1 bunch Chard
2 pieces Delicata Squash (winter)
1½ lbs Potatoes

Menu Ideas:

- Veggie Box Pizza - Sautéed chard & sweet peppers

- Thinly sliced turnips (raw) and heirloom tomato salad with blanched green beans and cucumber

- Thin sliced vegetable sandwich with cucumber, turnip, sweet pepper, tomato and goat cheese

- Roasted delicata squash and potatoes with lemon zest, rosemary, and goat cheese

- Sautéed chard and teriyaki tofu with brown rice and cucumber salad

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

CSA Box- Melon Madness x2

Eight pounds of melon. Eight. That means I need to consume 1+ pound of melon per day to stay on schedule. Holy moly. The CSA box list and letter that I receive every week only mentions the number of melons that this week's box contains so only when I lugged my veggie box bounty up three flights of stairs did I realize the true volume of melon I was dealing with. Nevermind that I still had half of a melon left over from last week's box... Oh dear. And, this happened two weeks in a row now. Melon madness!!!

As always the vegetables and fruits are delicious. The small peppers are sweet and crisp but also wonderful roasted and blended into pesto with basil and walnuts. I'll post this recipe soon. The heirloom tomatoes are 'picked at their peak' fresh, gorgeous to look at, and are perfect for caprese salads.

Last week's box contents:

1 bunch Basil
2 lbs Heirloom Tomatoes
1 Galia Melon
1 Crenshaw Melon
1 basket Cherry Tomatoes
1 lb Gypsy Peppers (sweet)

This week's box contents: 

2 lbs Heirloom Tomatoes
1 lb Sweet Peppers
1-2 Eggplants
1 Orange Honeydew or Crenshaw Melon
1 bunch Tokyo Turnips
1 basket Cherry Tomatoes
1 Cantaloupe

Menu Ideas:

- Melon and yogurt parfaits 

- Melon wrapped in prosciutto

- Melon smoothies

- Melon all by itself

- Tomato salad with thinly sliced turnip for crunch and spice w/ citrus vinaigrette*

- Eggplant parmesan*

*Item can be served with a side of melon **

** Joking! (only partially)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

CSA Box- Fancy Melon

I never believed that time would appear to travel faster and faster as I aged, but now I'm pretty sure that I can't be more convinced of this fact. Subscribing to a weekly farm box makes this even more apparent. On Wednesday, you pick up a box of fresh, crisp, sweet, juicy, and plump produce. Then, a blur of six days speeds by. Work, exercise, cook, eat, eat, sleep, work, work, socialize, run around, run errands, run up and down the stairs of my third floor walkup, cook, eat, sleep, work, eat, clean, zone out in front of hulu, run around, sleep, cook, eat, sleep, eat, work, eat, work, sleep, exercise, socialize, run around. . . you get the picture. Somehow, and someway I eat and enjoy all the farm box contents and end up back at Wednesday, ready for another box of treats. How? I have no idea. It's almost September, but I'm running on July time. It's only now deep into tomato season. . . sheesh. Life is good, but way too fast.

The Charentais melon is super intriguing. Looks like a watermelon, until you cut it open and it mirrors a cantaloupe. How does it taste? My CSA farm claims it's a farmer's market favorite so I have high expectations. Happy summer, everyone.

This week's Box Contents:

1 Charentais Melon
1 Cantaloupe
1 lb Cucumbers (Armenian)
1 lb Sweet Pepper Mix
2 lbs Mixed Tomatoes
4 ears Sweet Corn
1 lb Summer Squash

Menu Ideas:

- Cheesy summer squash oven fries (recipe on the way)

- Savory corn cakes

- Cucumbers and heirloom tomatoes with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, and a dash of olive oil. Simple and delicious.

- Melon cocktail. Shaken, not stirred. (recipe on the way)

- Fresh pasta sauce with summer squash, sweet peppers, and tomatoes. (If the fresh tomatoes are gone or too good to cook, I'll use roasted can tomatoes).

Thursday, August 25, 2011

CSA Box- Tomatoes, tomatoes, everywhere!

When you live in a college town you can't miss the arrival of fall. Well, fall in the sense that the semester has started, the undergrads have returned, there are no more parking spaces in my neighborhood, and all the freshman are wandering around campus lost and confused. I also still have this strange craving to visit an office supply store and stock up on three ring binders, pencil lead, and notebooks even though I haven't back-to-school shopped for, oh, at least nine years.

Fortunately, the contents of this week's farm box still scream summer and I'm more than happy about it. Filled with sweet treats, I think I'm going to try to make some peach ice cream or melon sorbet if I don't eat all the fruit first. . .

Another quick note- I've experimented with roasting sweet peppers on my gas stove and am quite satisfied with the results. It does make me very, very sad I don't have a vent above my stove, but the resulting peppers are so delicious it is worth the smokey, flaming, slightly terrifying experience of setting vegetables on fire in your kitchen.

This week's box contents:

1 lb O’Henry Peaches
1 lb Armenian Cucumbers
1 Melon
1½ lbs Tomatoes
1 bunch Carrots
¾ lb Sweet Peppers
1 lb Green Beans

Menu Ideas:

- Green bean, cherry tomato, and cucumber salad with feta.

- Chilled cucumber soup

- Fresh tomato pasta sauce with roasted sweet peppers over whole wheat angel hair pasta

- Peach ice cream

- Melon sorbet or yogurt parfaits

Monday, August 22, 2011

Green Bean, Cherry Tomato, and Cucumber Salad

The evening I brought home my CSA farm box I made this salad and all the vegetables, minus the shallot, were fresh out of the box, and may have been picked as recently as that morning. It was so quick and satisfying with just a tad of vinaigrette, 

but if you add a bit of feta. . . 

it's just that much better. I made the salad a meal by including a soft boiled egg and a fat slice of whole grain toast. The salad also keeps well as I had leftovers for two days and the salad still tasted great.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

CSA Box- Eggplant Premiers

Corn is the new lettuce. After receiving 3-4 ears per week for the past several weeks, I think I've eaten more corn recently than I have in my whole life combined. But don't get me wrong, the corn is delicious, but I didn't grow up in the midwest so 3-4 ears of corn is a lot for me to handle! It is hard to complain about picked-at-its-peak produce, though. So delicious.

This week's box contents:

1 basket cherry tomatoes
1 watermelon (red + seeded this week)
1 lb sweet peppers
1/2 lb green beans
1 lb eggplant
1 lb armenian cucumber
4 ears sweet corn.

Menu Ideas:

- Green bean, cherry tomato, and cucumber salad with feta.

- Eggplant parmesan

- Savory corn cakes

- Watermelon mojitos

- Roasted sweet pepper pesto

Savory Corn Cakes with Fresh Greens

Light, wholesome, and fresh. Savory corn cakes are great with arugula, or your own favorite salad greens, and grilled salmon. Easy to make and reheat, the cakes are best eaten the day you make them, but they do reheat well. You could also eat the cakes with eggs at breakfast too. Although the cakes are probably best when you prepare them with fresh corn, I've also used frozen corn in a pinch. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Vertical Caprese Salads

A perfect bite. A sweet, tangy, tiny tomato atop a basil leaf and a bit of creamy mozzarella. You could drizzle a bit of balsamic vinegar reduction over the finished bites, but I think it's delicious as is. To make the bites stay upright I bought the small mozzarella balls and sliced them in half so the cut flat side can act as a balanced base. Good tomatoes are key here, so this is the time of year to give these a try!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Watermelon Mojito

There's always a large element of surprise in every week's CSA farm box. Last week, I received a red, seedless watermelon, which was fabulous. This week my watermelon was seeded, light yellow, and it didn't taste quite as fabulous. It was good, but not stand alone good. So what do you do? You pulverize it with some lime, sugar, mint, and rum and call it summer. Delicious, wonderful summer. 

If you can find seedless watermelon this recipe will be simpler as you won't have to pick seeds out of your watermelon before you use it. Watermelon seeds should never make it into your mojito, no matter the color of your watermelon.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

CSA Box- Introducing the Armenian Cucumber

This week's vegetable box contained the first vegetable that left me completely perplexed.

That's a cucumber? Really? Well, it's a Armenian cucumber, which is a distant relative of the cucumber. Nevertheless it's fresh, crisp, and juicy so I declare it a Win! The rest of the vegetables were more easily identified, and sweet peppers are new this week. Happy Cooking Everyone-

This week's box contents:

1 lb Armenian Cucumbers
1 basket Cherry Tomatoes
¾ lb Sweet Peppers
1 Watermelon
¾ lb Green Beans
3 ears Sweet Corn
1 lb Summer Squash

Menu ideas:

- Chilled cucumber soup

- Cucumber, radish, and mango salad. Recipe here

- Watermelon, feta, and mint salad. Recipe to follow

- Caprese salad

- Grilled corn salad with sweet peppers, green beans, cherry tomatoes, and bacon. Recipe to follow

- Sweet corn pancakes from Smitten Kitchen. These have turned into a summer Saturday morning ritual.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

CSA Box- Watermelon, summer's refresher

I missed last week's farm box, which was sad, but going on vacation has its downsides.... wait. Can vacation have downsides? I'm not sure if I can confidently make that statement.... 

Otherwise, this week's bounty is quite exciting. I've already tucked into a few items as you can see below. Happy Summer Everyone!

This week's Box Contents:

1 lb Cucumbers
4 ears Sweet Corn
1 bunch Curly Kale
1½ lbs Tomatoes
1½ lbs Summer Squash
1 lb Onions
1 bunch Carrots
1 Red Watermelon

- Savory corn cakes, cucumber & tomato salad and broiled salmon

- Lunch crunch salad with carrots, tomatoes, and cucumber

- Grilled corn & roasted summer squash salad

- Kale and Black Bean Tacos, recipe here
- Roasted Corn Tacos, recipe here

- Watermelon in wedges, straight up. It's the first of the season so I'm keeping it simple.