Guest blogger: Lisa Fulmer, an artist, crafter, teacher and writer, as well as a marketing consultant and president of the Concord Art Association in the San Francisco Bay Area tells us: “I love to cook, but I’m not so thrilled with my kitchen. It’s small with very little counter space and no dishwasher. So more…
Guest blogger: Lisa Fulmer, an artist, crafter, teacher and writer, as well as a marketing consultant and president of the Concord Art Association in the San Francisco Bay Area tells us:
“I love to cook, but I’m not so thrilled with my kitchen. It’s small with very little counter space and no dishwasher. So more often than not, we eat freezer to microwave meals. But now that I have joined a local, organic CSA, I get a nice big box of produce every Wednesday, much of which needs cooking. It’s a challenge, but so far it has been worth it.”
This week I had cauliflower and green onions, neither of which we eat very often. I wanted to fix something quick and fun that I could season however I like. I found this recipe for baked cauliflower tots that was perfect and super easy to adapt – and it was ten kinds of tasty! I served them with a little sweet and sour sauce, along with some chicken apple sausage and a salad.
After preheating the oven to 390, chop half a head of cauliflower into small bits.
Saute for 6-8 minutes over medium heat with 1T olive oil, a pinch of saffron threads, 1 tsp curry powder (or more if you like curry), and salt to taste.
Remove from heat and mix in 1 tsp minced garlic and 1 – 2 T chopped green onion.
Mix in 2/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs, 1 whisked egg + extra egg white, 2/3 c shredded cheese (I used a mix of cheddar and jack).
Use a small ice cream scoop or spoon to place balls of mixture on an oiled tray
Bake for 17 – 20 minutes until golden brown. Serve as is, or with your favorite sauce.
This is an easy mid week meal that everyone will enjoy. After the third straight butternut squash in my CSA basket, I was stumped. This was a great solution. Bonus points – I get to use my spiralizer which is super fun, and a great way to incorporate vegetables in a new and different way.
After preheating the oven to 425, start by spiralizing a small butternut squash with the small blade.
The end result is a bowl of beautiful thin slices.
Chop the bacon and slice the shallot, and set aside. Meanwhile, chop up some broccoli or broccolini.
Add olive oil and zest of a lemon. This really adds some brightness and cuts the heavy taste of the bacon.
Mix greens and lemon zest with a pinch of salt, and roast on a baking sheet for 10 – 15 minutes until bubbly and slightly charred, but not burned.
Meanwhile, cook the chopped bacon in a large pot until crispy. Add the garlic, shallot and spiralized squash and cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes. While this cooks, chop up some rotisserie chicken and set aside. When the squash is cooked, add the broccolini and chopped chicken and mix together.
Beat an egg with cream or milk, and brush onto an uncooked pizza crust, spread the squash mixture on top, then sprinkle liberally with cheese. Bake according to instructions.
Take out pizza and cut into slices and enjoy!
Guest blogger: Alix Gallagher is a mom of two boys who works full-time as an education researcher and lives in Mountain View CA. To feed her rapidly growing boys and her own love of cooking, she enjoys CSAs. In addition to a produce CSA, she also receives a CSA for beef (Morris Grassfed Beef), which she strongly recommends as a way to get higher-quality meat with a lower environmental impact.
Delicata squash is one of my favorites. The typical way I cook it is to cut in half, scoop out the seeds, peel it and roast it in a pan with olive oil, salt, pepper, and finely chopped onions and celery. But I recently got a Sunset magazine, which had an interesting recipe, so I decided to try it.
Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
Slice the squash in semi-rings about 1/2 inch thick with the skin still on. Leaving the skins on turned out to be very important for having good texture in the final product.
Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl and whisk thoroughly. Add the squash and mix to coat. Pour the squash and sauce onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Roast for twenty minutes, checking after fifteen to get the precise texture that you like.
Because of the honey and tahini, this dish is pretty rich. On the one hand, my 9 year old son really liked them reheated as an afternoon snack a day or so later. Full disclosure, however, I’m not a huge fan of sweet. If you like sweet potatoes with brown sugar, maple syrup, or marshmallows, you might like it just the way it is. But for me, they were so sweet and rich, that I couldn’t eat enough to get the amount of vegetables I usually want. I could imagine them as is, as one item among other antipasti, but if I were to serve them as a vegetable side for a dinner, I would consider cutting the honey way back.
All said, I think this dish is a nice, different take on squash, and I will continue to experiment with the sauce proportions to match my personal preferences.
My husband cannot get enough turkey. Despite the fact that we go to a big family Thanksgiving dinner and eat a perfectly smoked turkey with all the trimmings, he insists on cooking his own the next day. I have to say he did a great job.
We had a beautiful turkey from Mary’s Chickens which is run by Pitman Farms. They have been raising and selling poultry in a humane manner for three generations in California. But after two days of turkey, stuffing and gravy, I had to find something else to do with those leftovers.
This recipe doesn’t take much time, and you probably have most of the ingredients in your refrigerator. Since this is a leftover recipe for tired cooks, it calls for uncooked pre-made biscuits, such as Immaculate or Pillsbury. If you have a favorite recipe for making your own biscuits, that would make this even better, but I was going for the quick meal here, inspired by Ellie Krieger’s Comfort Food Fix.
Preheat the oven to 375. Grease a deep 9×11 dish with butter, oil, or cooking spray.
Take the leftover turkey, and chop it up into bite sized pieces. Turkey can be dry, so I refreshed it with some chicken stock, salt and pepper in a pan.
Meanwhile, chop your vegetables. I happened to have an onion, celery, carrots and parsnips.
Saute the vegetables in olive oil, until they are soft – about three minutes. Then add garlic, and continue to cook for three more.
Stir or whisk the flour into the broth and set aside. Stir in the milk, then the broth mixture.
Add salt and thyme, stir, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for two or three minutes until thickened.
Add the peas and chicken, and stir to combine. Pour into the greased dish then top with the raw biscuit dough.
Bake for 18 – 20 minutes until the biscuits are golden brown, and the chicken mixture is bubbling in between.
Scoop into individual bowls, and watch it be devoured. Enjoy!
As we round into month four without a kitchen, I find myself longing for soup. There’s a chill in the New England morning air, and the afternoon sun’s warmth dissipates quickly. Dinnertime would definitely be best greeted with a piping hot bowl of liquid health. I suppose I could use the slow cooker; it’s served us well for other meals during this nomadic cooking time, most recently for an adaptation of al pastor tacos with Icelandic lamb (yes, meat too can be seasonal!)
But my favorite soups come together best on the stovetop, with layers of flavor added over time. Luckily, last weekend we got away to my parents’ house, where both the oven and the range were open for play. Using the best of two seasons – end of summer, slightly bruised tomatoes and fall’s first deep-green, acorn squash – I assembled a soup that satisfied all of my cravings.
For meals like this, the CSA box always serves as my foundation. A few round, red field tomatoes not cooked last week, supplemented by some bumpy (but sure to be delicious) plum tomatoes from Edgartown’s Morning Glory Farm would add both depth and tang. And the squash, of course, a perfect fall-flavored based. Add some boy choy for crunch, and to round out the color-nutrient continuum, and we were in good shape.
With its thick, ridged skin, acorn squash is typically halved (or quartered) and roasted, not cubed and simmered into broth. However, having soup on the brain, I was sure I could adapt the cooking to my objectives. I sliced the squash into beautiful star rings, coated them with olive oil, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cumin, and roasted them for about 30 minutes.
Once the squash was roasted and softened, it was easy enough to peel and cube it. I added these to onions and garlic I had been sauteeing in a heavy-bottomed soup pan. To further draw in autumn flavors, I added some apple cider with the vegetable broth. The cider wasn’t part of my original plan, but it happened to be available, having been previously rejected by my son in that frequent kid move of demanding food in the store then almost immediately declaring one’s vehement dislike of it. (Or is that just my kids?!?) After 15-20 minutes of simmering, I carefully used the immersion blender to create a smooth squash base.
Tomatoes were diced, then added, and cooked slowly until they began to melt into the squash broth. Boy choy stems got cooked another 5-10 minutes, not too much, so they retained a bit of a crunch for textural contrast.
Finally, I stirred in the chopped boy choy leaves just before serving, so they would wilt in the heat but not lose their brilliant dark green color.
My kids are big fans of pasta with anything, so while the soup was marrying its flavors, I cooked up half a box of elbow macaroni. I ladled soup into each bowl, added a scoop of cooked pasta, then dusted with grated pecorino romano.
Fall has landed, gentle and soothing.
Have you seen the speedy Tasty videos on Facebook that make the dish look super easy and delicious? Me too, and here’s one that I wanted to try out for myself. Tornado Potatoes by Tasty on Buzzfeed. Only problem is, the oven temperature is too low, and the cooking time not sufficient. I had recently received white potatoes (NOT russet) in my farm share basket and was looking for something new. After seeing this on Facebook, I had to try it.
The key to this is to slice the potatoes as thinly as possible so they cook through. Also know: this is not a last minute thing. It definitely takes some time, but the presentation is pretty great and it definitely is tasty.
First, skewer your potatoes. I used metal skewers – if you use wood/bamboo ones, be sure to soak them for 30 minutes before using so they don’t burn in the oven.
Next, take your knife and cut into the potato until you hit the skewer, then thinly slice the potato as you rotate the skewer, so you have even slices. This is a little challenging – just be patient and know it doesn’t have to be perfect.
Pull apart the slices as best as you can without disconnecting them. I didn’t do a stellar job – I think it will take some practice to get it just right.
Melt the butter and brush it on every part of that cut potato. Outside, in between the slices – everywhere. You can’t get enough butter.
Next, mix together the Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika.
Spoon the Parmesan mix onto the potato so it sticks onto the butter.
Place skewers onto foil covered or greased baking pan, and cook for 30 – 40 minutes. Be sure to turn the skewers every 15 minutes so they don’t stick to the baking pan.
The end product is fun, different and yummy. Enjoy!
Nothing perks up a get together like the smell of freshly cooked bacon, and this appetizer has the bonus of brown sugar, minced walnuts, orange zest and a hint of rosemary.
I have been traveling west of Fairfax CA to Forest Knolls to shop at their Community Farm Stand run by Jim Baum. It’s a beautiful drive, and he has everything you could ever want – line caught salmon, fresh eggs, loads of produce, and pepper bacon from DG-Langley that could possibly be the best I have ever tasted….and that says a lot!
I had been looking for appetizer ideas, and ran across this recipe out of Modern Comfort magazine. I tell you now, you will not have leftovers with this one!
Preheat your oven to 375 and line a baking sheet with foil. Add your bacon strips and bake for 15 minutes.
In the meantime, grind 1/4 cup walnuts in food processor, or mince into small bits with a butcher’s knife.
Add 1/4 cup brown sugar, and mix together.
Zest an orange or tangerine. It really takes a good amount to let the orange flavor shine through.
If you happen to have a rosemary plant or bush, cut a little bit off.
Cut the leaves off the stem.
And then mince into small bits. Rosemary is very powerful, and it only takes a small amount to make a big impact. The oils will permeate the entire dish, so be judicious with the amount you use. I only minced about half of what is shown in the above picture. If you don’t have fresh rosemary at home, it should be in your produce section at the grocery store.
Once the bacon is partially cooked, remove it from the baking pan, and discard the foil and grease. Wipe down the pan.
Carefully press the sugar, nut, rosemary, orange zest mix onto both sides of the bacon.
Reline the pan with foil, return the bacon to the pan and cook until bacon is bubbly and cooked thoroughly – approximately 10 minutes. Cool slightly then cut into squares and watch them disappear!
Last week we went camping in Maine. The kids romped through the woods, we scrambled over seaside rocks, and of course, ate lots of food prepared over an outdoor fire. We were so ready for that last bit. No adjustment necessary from our current routine.
As amazing as that adventure was, the highlight of my week may have been arriving at my parent’s house on Martha’s Vineyard. They had a kitchen! With a stove! And five burners! And cabinets fully stocked with pots and pans of all shapes and sizes! A true respite from our kitchen-less existence. I couldn’t resist getting right to work.
I have loved every tomato salad I’ve made this summer, the juices dripping down my fingers, the heady smell of fresh tomatoes virtually seeping into my pores. Eggplants of all size and color have been brushed with olive oil, charred, and enjoyed simply. But with the tools of a full kitchen at my disposal, I was ready to take those core summer CSA ingredients to the next level: caponata.
I enlisted Jonathan to cook the eggplants on the grill. The smaller FairyTale eggplants I sliced in half lengthwise; the larger Bell I cut into thick slices. All were brushed lightly with olive oil, then grilled until just soft. I cut the charred eggplants into smaller pieces, then added these to a pan where sliced garlic and onion were sauteeing in olive oil.
Into this mix I added several cupfulls of diced farm tomatoes in a variety of colors. I simmered the mixture until the tomatoes began releasing their juices, then added a few tablespoons of capers, a pinch of white sugar, and about a tablespoons of red wine vinegar. After another 5-10 minutes to meld flavors, I added chopped parsley, freshly cut from my parents’ herb garden (another casualty of our renovation – no garden this year).
You could stop at this stage, cool the caponata, refrigerate and enjoy it the next day spread on lightly toasted bread. The overnight rest helps the flavors to marinate. If I had anchovies available, I would’ve diced one or two into the mixture up front (with the garlic and onion). The depth from that briny addition definitely would benefit from the overnight wait.
With my audience of three kids, I thought pasta would be the better direction. I added just-cooked penne (al dente) to the caponata, cooking another minute to combine. Dished into bowls with diced fresh mozzarella, a perfect summer marriage, with all guests happy at the feast.
It’s week 10 of the home renovation project and the end is not yet in sight. Month one arrived with a rush of excitement as construction finally launched – concrete, framing beams, and green board rising quickly, revealing the shape of the rooms to come. Month two brought the satisfaction of demolition, the old, tired kitchen torn out and replaced by possibility and openness.
In the third month, finding progress requires a much closer look. The loud burly framing crew has been replaced by the careful, quiet plumbers and electricians. Laying pipes and pulling wires looks time-consuming, even for my entirely untrained eye. But of course, knowing and feeling are often misaligned. Arriving home after a long day, eager to see progress, I walk the house seeking change: a run of canned lights in the kitchen ceiling, a pipe carefully curved and tucked between the floor joists. Seeing the guts of the house exposed satisfies a child-like curiosity about how things work and I know it’s all moving us forward toward new space. Yet I yearn for dramatic change – to see floors, walls, and ceilings laid down, readied for their final dress in wood, paint, and tile.
My impatience with the speed of progress is also reflected in a growing boredom with our dinner choices. We’ve fallen into a rhythm, what one could see as a positive solution to the challenge of cooking kitchen-less: grill farm share vegetables simply, add meat, often pre-marinaded and skewered. It’s much cleaner and fresher living than restaurant take-out, friendlier on our budget and our bellies. But the same urge that drives me to explore new recipes, take on ambitious cooking projects at the end of a long workday, and fill my Sundays with soups, sauces, and salad dressings, is pushing against the constraints of grill life.
Beyond the monotony of our new dinner routine, I’ve also been struggling with what to make for lunch. For a family that relies heavily on dinner’s leftovers to fill our lunchboxes, the grill menu has challenged preparation for two meals daily. This week’s answer: don’t cook at all.
Mid-summer lends itself to this approach. The CSA box and farmer’s market are packed with produce that can be enjoyed with little alteration beyond a few knife strokes. Perfect fodder for an easy-assembled, quickly devoured lunch.
My summer market sandwich lends itself to endless variations. The critical ingredients:
- Fresher than fresh produce;
- Good bread with texture, crust, and interest (I had Nashoba Brook’s Slow Rise Raisin Bread on hand); and
- If you have a well-stocked pantry – or are lucky enough to have access to a great market – a superlative spread to tie everything together.
The morning of this sandwich creation, I visited Sofra Bakery & Cafe, my personal kryptonite. Run by Ana Sortun and Maura Kilpatrick, two of the Boston-area’s most impressive chefs, Sofra offers savory Mediterranean treats, a creative drink menu, and the best chocolate chunk cookie around. It’s also part of the Siena Farms family (source of our CSA share), as Sortun is married to Chris Kurth, the farm’s owner. Searching the prepared food case for an easy treat to jump-start my lunch, I happened upon Moroccan-style goat cheese: toasted almonds, golden raisins, cilantro, lemon juice, and salt. Yum.
Putting it all together: lightly toast the bread and spread the goat cheese generously. Top with vegetables. I recommend greens over the cheese, with a crunchy filling. I used Salanova “incised-leaf” lettuce from the Siena share. Despite looking like frisée endive, Salanova is sweet, somewhat like a frilly cross between romaine and butter lettuce.
For crunch, I added my favorite of the summer market finds – purple beauty peppers. I love the deep, dark exterior, cut open to reveal contradting light green flesh. I am definitely an eater with my eyes too. Thinly sliced Persian cucumbers, also a farmer’s market score, rounded out the sandwich. It was easily assembled in under five minutes, with not an oven in sight.
Construction project: zero; summer harvest: one.
Guest blogger: John Xavier, father of three, food enthusiast, Big Green Egg owner. John spent the past 10 years in New York City, where he ate at a different restaurant weekly. He now lives in Newton Center, where he is a Top Shopper at Wegman’s.
It has been a great summer so far. I have been methodically eating my way to all of the fresh produce and meats I find at my local farmer’s market. The other day I got an urge to bake something involving Apples. This was indeed strange as I never bake anything really. I am more of slow roaster or a high-heat searer. So, baking it was. Armed with a recipe from Smitten Kitchen as inspiration, I checked a trusty source for what apples are currently in season. Pickyourown has a really good tables on what fruits and other produce are in season. The list looked tasty enough, Gala, Earligold, Paula Red, Sweet Tango and Granny Smiths. I checked my local market and picked up 7 good looking granny smiths.
There are parts of this process that will scare you but have courage and a pie will come out in the end. Steel yourself as you prepare the dough especially, unless you are a seasoned baker. You will need a cast iron skillet for this also. The easy part is peeling, coring and cutting each apple into 8 slices. Put those aside, you can add lemon to them to keep from browning but this isn’t necessary. We will get back to the Apples in about 30 minutes.
Now comes the fun. Make some room in your freezer first then in a food processor pre-mix 1 ½ cup of flour and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. You could also cook this on your grill, watching carefully to avoid too much smokiness. Cube a stick and two tablespoons of butter and place the butter and the food processor in the freezer. You will need to place about a half a cup of ice with several ice cubes in the fridge. After about 20 minutes, slowly add the freezer water, along with the ice cubes to the flour and butter. Slowly pulse the ingredients together until it looks like coarse lumpy couscous. Flour a table and pour out the mixture. Don’t handle it too much but slowly work it into a flat round disk that is big enough to cover the top of your skillet. Place in fridge.
Back to the apples. Melt one stick of butter in a skillet and add two cups of sugar.
Combine these ingredients for a couple of minutes and then add the apples, enough to cover the bottom of the skillet. Slowly brown and turn them.
You may need to add more because these will shrink in the pan. When a light caramel color is reached, place the dough over the apples and tuck in on the side.
Bake for 35 minutes, until crust is golden brown. Remove to cooling rack.
After several minutes, run knife along side of pan to make sure nothing is sticking. Place round serving platter on top of the pan and flip. If you need more caramelization, you can use a torch here.
Serve with a dollop of Vanilla-bean ice cream and garnish with a mint leaf.