Wednesday, August 31, 2011

CSA Wednesday!

For the week of August 22, we received:

Apples (4)
Yukon Gold Potatoes (4)
Raspberries (12 oz)
Snap Beans (2 LB)
Tomatillos (1 LB 14 oz)
Tomatoes (4)
Zucchini (2 large)
I was really excited to discover the raspberries, because EDW has been wondering all summer whether we'd get any. I was doubtful, since raspberries seem expensive and slightly exotic, but our CSA came through. The berries were sweet and perfect and from Hendersonville. We loved them.

This week's apples were honey crisp, and while it's not my favorite variety, they were really quite lovely.

I used the snap beans to make great green vegetable pasta, garnished with fresh tomatoes,
and the tomatillos and zucchini went into a skillet creation of tomatillos, zucchini and beans, also garnished with fresh tomatoes.
EDW finished off the last tomato while I was visiting Emmel and avoiding Irene, and I made an awkward curried family reunion salad with the potatoes, kale, and chickpeas.
I'm still eagerly anticipating the arrival of sweet potatoes and butternut squash, and I have been supplementing our haul with extra fall treats from Fresh Quarter. Last week I just had to buy some asian pears, and they were fantastic. I'm thinking I may purchase more again soon.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

tomatillos, zucchini and beans

I made this dish last week, and I almost didn't blog about it. The first time we ate it, Edwin was completely unimpressed. He thought there were too many competing flavors and he hated the spelt berries-- I wasn't going to subject you to a less than stellar recipe. I thought I might show you photes and tell you about how while Edwin likes almost everything I cook, I do mess up sometimes.

But then, as I thought might happen, EDW came around with the leftovers. The ingredients blended more as they waited in the fridge, and what I thought was quite tasty the first go round turned into something Edwin could mostly get on board with in the end. So here you have it:

Tomatillos, Zucchini and Bean Skillet
serves 6-8

2 T olive oil
1 T minced garlic
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
2 yellow onions, chopped
2 large zucchini, chopped
1.5 LB fresh tomatillos, chopped
2 cups cooked black beans
2 cups cooked pinto beans
1 T cumin
1 T mexican oregano
1 t chili powder
fresh cilantro
2 tomatoes, chopped

Heat oil over medium heat and sautee onions, garlic and jalapeño until softened and starting to brown, about 5-7 minutes.
Add the zucchini, turn the heat up to medium high, and sautee until the squash begins to turn tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomatillos and cook until liquid is released and things get saucy.
Stir in the cumin, oregano, chili powder. Add the beans. Cook until everything is heated through.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Stir in the cilantro and tomatoes and serve with spelt berries.
I was pretty happy with this upon first bite, but like I mentioned, it took Edwin a while to warm up to it. He really didn't like the spelt berries with it at first, and recommends either no grains or brown rice instead. He liked the flavors, but thought the zucchini was a bit too prominent.
I gave this a B+. For Edwin, it started as a C-, but by the time we finished the leftovers today he'd declared it to be a solid B.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

CSA Wednesday!

I started a new job last week (children's librarian at the North Asheville branch-- come visit!) so cooking and blogging are taking a backseat right now. Even though my week was crazy and we were out of town over the weekend, Edwin and I still had plenty of delicious and mostly undocumented eats this week.

For the week of August 15, we received:

Apples (8)
Edamame (1 LB 4 oz)
Yukon Gold Potatoes (1 LB 13 oz)
Red Bell Peppers (2 giant)
Squash (4)
Grape Tomatoes (2 pints)
When I walked in to the Fresh Quarter on Tuesday, I noticed they had the season's first mutsu apples out. The mutsu is probably my favorite apple, and my pal Kyle let me switch out 4 of the zesty stars that came in my box for 4 mutsus. I didn't want to switch all 8, mostly because I figured the mutsus would still be a bit tart since it's early in the season for them. I was right-- they were tart, but they were also very fantastic. EDW preferred the zesty stars, which worked out, because I find the zesty star to be too soft for my taste. I like a crisp, crunchy apple, so I ate the mutsus and he tackled the zesty stars. (Also, if you ever want to be embarrassed for someone else, come to an apple festival with me. I ask a lot of apple questions and talk a lot of apple.)

So yeah. We ate the apples.

I used the edamame and peppers in an edamame and pepper stir-fry one night.
Later in the week I threw the tomatoes and squash together for a pasta dish. I'm not sure what I did-- it involved olive oil, an onion, some garlic, spinach, nutritional yeast and dried oregano, basil and parsley-- but Edwin loved it. He gave the pasta an A and was sad I only made enough for one round of leftovers.
When we got back to town Sunday night, I roasted the potatoes and turned them into a frittata. We had the frittata over spinach salads, which is my current favorite way to have frittata. I like it when it turns into a salad entree, and this one was good. EDW, of course, was just thrilled to have potatoes.
So there you have it. I'm hoping this next box comes with more apples, and I'm eagerly anticipating the year's first butternut squash and sweet potatoes.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

edamame and pepper stir-fry

Since I had so much success with my stir-fry sauce the other night, I decided to try another. This time I used this wasabi edamame salad and I turned the recipe into a fried rice dish. I had all the ingredients already, including a little more than a pound of fresh edamame from my CSA box.

We received two huge red peppers this week, so I decided to skip the carrots in the recipe in favor of more peppers. Once I got all my veggies prepped, this came together in no time. I stir-fried my peppers and green onions, and then I added in the edamame and let that cook for a few minutes.
Once the vegetables were ready, I stirred in cooked and cooled brown rice, along with the sauce from the recipe. I edited the sauce a little: instead of sugar, I used 3 teaspoons of agave nectar. I omitted the cornstarch and vegetable broth completely, and my sauce was just fine.
We liked this dish. I won't say we loved it, because honestly it felt like something was missing. We added sriracha to our plates, and I officially declared sriracha to be my favorite condiment. With that extra squirt of heat, the flavors of the sauce really came alive and I was able to taste the ginger and garlic more. EDW and I are happy to have these leftovers for lunch, but I doubt I'd make this again.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

CSA Wednesday!

For the week of August 8, we received:

Chinese Eggplant (4)
Collards (1 LB)
Corn (8 ears)
Peaches (6)
Red Potatoes (6)
Sweet Onions (2)
Tomatoes (6)
We had to wait a few days for the peaches to ripen, but once they did they were phenomenal.

On Tuesday I used an onion, the collards and the potatoes to make an awkward family reunion salad. This one was sauteed veggies with chickpeas, raisins, smoked paprika, cumin, and a little bit of liquid smoke. We loved it.
The corn and remaining onion became curried corn soup, which we liked more each time we had it. EDW still prefers Sara Foster's, but I just may like the curried version best.
We had a raw pasta sauce with several of the tomatoes, and it was amazing. There's something so satisfying about simple ingredients on a summer night. This meal was just tomatoes marinated in balsamic vinegar and olive oil, tossed with whole wheat pasta and fresh spinach. I always use my fancy balsamic vinegar for meals like these, and it makes everything seem more special.
Sunday I used the eggplant in a stir-fry with spicy stir-fry sauce, and it was the bomb dot com.
We sliced the last tomato for lunch on Monday and had pantry staples for dinner that night since we had finished everything else already. All in all, I'd say it was a pretty good week.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

spicy stir-fry sauce

Remember last month when I made dry-pan eggplant and eggplant-tofu stir-fry? I made it again tonight, but I made it so much better. First of all, I let my eggplant cook longer in the dry-pan cooking process, which led to a delicious smoky, almost caramelized flavor. The real secret to the dish's success, though, was the sauce I made to go with it.

Spicy Stir-Fry Sauce

3 T hoisin sauce
1 T sriracha
2 T soy sauce
1 T rice vinegar

Combine and use in stir-fries.

The sauce was subtly spicy and made everything taste fantastic. Edwin said the sauce was "professional restaurant grade." He continued, "I hope you don't take this as an insult, but it tastes like something that would be served at P.F. Chang's." Sweet EDW. While I'm not excited about Chang's high prices, high sodium levels, and high levels of questionable ingredients, I am pleased to know the sauce tasted special without any added MSG.
We had our stir-fry with udon noodles, and we're both excited about leftovers tomorrow.

Friday, August 12, 2011

curried corn soup

We got eight more ears of corn this week, which was exciting and a little challenging. I decided to make another soup, because EDW and I love soup and it's a great way to use up produce. I started with this Martha recipe for Cold Curried Buttermilk Soup, but I made a lot of changes. I also didn't take a lot of photes, because corn soup is neither a lovely process nor product.

Since the recipe said it only made about a quart, I doubled it for leftovers and maximum CSA box usage. I sauteed a yellow onion (actually I used two because mine were small) with some garlic and a seeded jalapeño instead of a poblano. Next I added in the kernels from 8 ears of corn and cooked everything for a bit. I also pumped up the spices. I doubled what Martha calls for, and I also added in 2.5 t curry powder.

I decided to forgo the buttermilk since I didn't have any. Instead I added 2 cups vegetable broth and 4 cups unsweetened almond milk. I brought everything to a low boil, and then I used my immersion blender to partially puree the soup. We had our soup hot the first go round for part of Wednesday's dinner.

The curried corn soup was delicious. I actually adored the almond milk with it, because it lent just a touch of creamy sweetness to the whole thing. It's definitely not a dessert soup in its sweetness level, but the almond flavor really did complement the curry. At first, Edwin and I were convinced that summer white corn soup was better. It's practically impossible, I think, to beat a Sara Foster soup, but this curried version is really solid. We had the soup cold for leftovers, which was lovely and refreshing. Like most soup, its flavor was even better the next day, and we both loved it. I'd gladly make this again (with my changes, obvi).

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

CSA Wednesday!

For the week of August 1, we received:

Blackberries (1 quart)
Corn (8 ears)
Okra (2 LB)
Roma Tomatoes (10 tomatoes)
Snap Beans (2 LB)
Yukon Gold Potatoes (4 LB)
I finally got a kitchen scale. I was sure it'd help me not only be more accurate when developing recipes from the CSA box, but I was also banking on it making me a better baker so I can weigh my flour. Unfortunately, all it did last Tuesday was freak me out when I realized how much produce we've been getting each week. Everything I think feels like a pound turns out to be at least two, and there's something so daunting about "2 pounds of okra" instead of "a lot." I gave myself a pep talk that involved a lot of "You and EDW make it through every week. Who cares if it's more than you thought it was?"

The berries were maybe the best blackberries I ever had. I thought the ones we had at the beginning of July were fantastic, but these blew them out of the water. Edwin and I gobbled them right up.

I used all of the okra and 3 roma tomatoes to make bendi masala,
and Wednesday night I used the green beans and 2 ears of corn to make great green vegetable pasta. I made this dish last August with other vegetables, and I forgot how good cottage cheese can taste in a pasta sauce. I cooked the beans along with the pasta, but I stirred in the raw kernels along with the sauce. I garnished the pasta with more roma tomatoes.
The last of the corn and a potato went into summer white corn soup.
On Sunday, when we were out of everything else, I made a breakfast salad. I roasted some of the potatoes and put them on a bed of spinach with the last of the tomatoes, a red pepper and green onions. I topped the salad with unattractively fried eggs (seriously I wish I could make a pretty fried egg) and salsa.
I did share some of the potatoes with my in-laws. They love potatoes and I don't, and I didn't want to start a habit of hoarding extra produce in the pantry. I will probably end up saving some vegetables as we get further into the fall, since I love sweet potatoes and winter squash and they will definitely last if I don't get around to cooking all of them in a week.

So there you have it. We finished everything with plenty of time to spare. Take that, kitchen scale! The Arnaudins are champion vegetable eaters.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

summer white corn soup

We received beautiful summer corn in our CSA box this week, and I knew I wanted to make Sara Foster's summer white corn soup* with it. My corn was technically not white, but it was sweet and fresh and I knew it'd be perfect.

I started by sauteeing yellow onion, celery, and garlic in olive oil and butter. I was supposed to use the corn cobs to make corn broth, but that seemed like a lot of time and effort, so I poured in 4 cups of vegetable broth instead. I also added a chopped yukon gold potato and let everything simmer for about 20 minutes. Once the potato was tender, I stirred in the kernels from 5 ears of corn that had been simmered with some milk in a separate pot, along with lots of fresh basil. I used my immersion blender to partially puree the soup, and we were ready to go.
Sara Foster recommends garnishing the soup with more basil, but I had lots of corn, so I cut the kernels off another ear and combined that with the additional basil to make a fun topper.
I'm telling you: Sara Foster is the queen of soup. This corn soup was fresh and flavorful, and EDW and I adored it. It reheated beautifully once, and then we tried it chilled for lunch today. I probably liked it cold more than Edwin, but I generally like cold soups more than he does. The only downside to this soup is it didn't last nearly long enough.

*Foster, Sara. Fresh Every Day. "Summer White Corn Soup." p. 48

Thursday, August 4, 2011

okra curry (bendi masala) with garbanzos

Tuesday is my favorite day of the week because it's the day I pick up my CSA box. I come home, take a phote of my spoils, browse my cookbooks and take notes about what I'm going to cook in the coming week. Then I eat a snack.

We received a huge pile of okra this week, and I knew right away I wanted to make a curry. None of my cookbooks had anything that I wanted, and while I considered making up my own recipe, a quick search lead me to a blog post about bendi masala, or spicy okra curry with mint.

The last time I made not-fried okra, it was a little slimy and not that exciting, but this recipe sounded promising. I wavered a bit on the yogurt-- would it work?-- but I went with it. I didn't have a red onion, so I used a yellow one, but I followed the rest of the recipe pretty closely.
I sauteed my (thoroughly washed and completely dried) okra, onion, garlic and ginger in oil (I used grapeseed). After a few minutes, it was releasing a bit of the slime, and I nervously stirred in 2 tablespoons greek yogurt. I stirred in my spices and let everything cook a bit longer. Once the okra was starting to brown, I added 3 roma tomatoes (I didn't have one large tomato but I had lots of beautiful yellow romas). I also threw in 2 cups cooked chickpeas to make it more of an entree. The whole thing took about 20 minutes, which I appreciated, and we had the curry over brown rice. I didn't have any cilantro or mint on hand, but I thought my curry was pretty nonetheless. (EDW's response was: "looks good, smells good-- like you!" Thanks, honey, preesh. I'm glad I smell as nice to you as curried vegetables.)
I was convinced this would be terrible. I don't know why, but I had visions of writing about my massive okra fail and I was sure I'd be eating muesli and yogurt for dinner. Oh, was I wrong! I was so very wrong. This curry was delicious!

Y'all. It's simple. It's flavorful. It's easy. And the okra was perfect and not at all slimy. It was slightly crisp still, and Edwin and I loved it. Because it's a dry curry, I do think it'd be better with an Indian chutney or two, but I didn't have any. I'm thrilled about the leftovers.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

CSA Wednesday!

For the week of July 25, we received:

Bell Peppers (3)
Garlic (2 heads)
White Peaches (8)
Swiss Chard (lots)
Sweet Onions (4 small)
Heirloom tomatoes (4)
Zucchini (4)
Cucumber (4)
EDW and I had a grand time eating mostly cool and refreshing meals all week. The peaches were delicious, but they were quite bruised when I picked up my box. The bruises led to squishy rot, so that wasn't the most fun. We just sliced out the bad spots and enjoyed the rest.

I used some of the tomatoes, a red pepper, and some garlic for gazpacho,
and three of the zucchini went to lemony zucchini risotto.
I made a pasta dish one night with more heirloom tomatoes, chard, garlic, and white beans,
and both cucumbers went into cool cucumber soup.
On Sunday, I roasted the remaining red peppers and threw them into a frittata with the last zucchini and all of the onions. This frittata was fantastic-- it was equally fantastic the next night after my triumphant return to mountain biking (8 sweaty, muddy miles left me feeling exhilarated. No crashes!)