Archive for the ‘Local Culinary Adventure’ Category

The Workout Smoothie or Sneaky Veg For Kids

This smoothie is perfect for either a pre- or post-workout boost.  It’s filling, yet leaves you feeling light.  Best yet, it’s a fabulous raw food nutritional powerhouse that even kids will love.  Instead of a recipe, it’s more of a formula that can be played with as fruit comes into season.

In a blender, add:

  • 1 cup liquid (Choose from unsweetened soy milk, kefir, yogurt, water & ice, etc.)
  • 1 banana (I know that this is so not local, but it’s my weakness!  I think smoothies just scream for that creamy texture they impart.)
  • 1 cup (or the equivalent) local fruit in season (This morning I used a single large nectarine.)
  • Handful of greens (This morning I went into the garden and harvested some red Swiss chard)
  • 1 Tbsp flaxmeal

Simply puree until smooth and serve.  Just don’t tell the kids that there is anything green in there until after they’ve enjoyed it!

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Purslane Summer Salad (Help! There are Weeds in my CSA Share!)

I opened my CSA share this week to find a bunch of weeds, literally.  What??? I grow these babies in my garden, yank ’em out, and chuck ’em to the chickens.  However, having paid for this particular bunch of organic weeds, I was determined to give them a try.  Oh, and I also had less than 10  minutes to do so because husband made most of the dinner, I had only to make some veg,  I was dallying about, and completely lost track of time.  Having never cooked with Purslane before, a quick Internet search pulled up this 2002 Gourmet recipe, and here’s how I modified it:

In a saute pan on medium high, quickly sauté:

  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • 3 summer squash, sliced
  • dash of salt

While that sears, in a salad bowl whisk the dressing together:

  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped vidalia onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Add to the salad the squash (let it cool a bit) plus:

  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 bunch purslane, thick stems removed
  • 1 cup pear or cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise

Toss and serve.  And the result?  A good salad, but I think I’d use a different green next time.  The purslane was kind of tough and bitter.

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Peach Strike Season Solutions: Seriously Peachy Bundt Cake

August means it’s “Peach Strike Season!”  What is this annual Bibliopharm event?  It’s the time of year when my daughter is so sick of seasonal harvest that she simply refuses to eat another peach, tomato, zucchini, etc.  So when faced with More-Ripe-Whatever-Than-I-Know-What-To-Do-With I’m looking for options my family might just eat and dessert is always a winner.  This recipe was inspired by Ina Garten’s Fresh Peach Cake.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and flour a bundt pan.*

PEACHES:  Toss together and set aside…

  • a shy 1/2 peck bag of peaches, sliced
  • 1/4 cup flour

CINNAMON-SUGAR: Toss together and set aside…

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

CAKE:

  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream (you can substitute plain yogurt)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Cream the butter and sugar for 3 to 5 minutes on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time, then the sour cream and vanilla, and mix until the batter is smooth. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the batter and mix just until combined.

Fold in the peach-flour mixture.

Spread half of the batter evenly in the pan and sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Spread the remaining batter on top and marble by running a knife in a swirling motion through the batter.

Bake the cake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let rest for 10 minutes and then de-Bundt.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

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* This cake can get sticky and may be difficult to remove from the pan cleanly.  If you’re counting on the picture perfect cake, make sure you butter and flour a non-stick bundt (I used a stoneware Bundt this time and some was left behind only to be pieced together and sprinkled with powdered sugar to help hide the cosmetic imperfection).  You can also butter, flour, and use parchment paper in two bread loaf pans and utilize the paper like a sling and to lift out the cake.  To make the cake less likely to stick, you can omit the cinnamon-sugar because when that caramelized goodness hits the pan it doesn’t want to let go.   Yet another option is to go  lighter on the peaches (the original recipe called for only three!) to provide the cake with greater structural stability.  Of course, you could always just cut and serve it directly from the cooking vessel, in which case I would use either a nonreactive (i.e. Pyrex or Corningware–type glass) loaf or 9×13″ pan.  Anyway, happy recipe tinkering!

Fresh Apricot Tart

Fresh apricots are available locally for a brief, but glorious season.  They shine in this European-style rustic tart or galette.

  • 1/2 recipe butter pie crust
  • generous 1/2 of a 1/4 peck bag fresh apricots, washed, pitted, and halved
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 bantam-sized egg, lightly scrambled
  • 1 Tbsp coarse sugar
  • 1/4 cup apricot preserves
  • 1 Tbsp water

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Toss the apricots, sugar, and cornstarch in a bowl.  Roll out the pie crust and transfer to a baking dish (I recommend using parchment paper or nonstick aluminum foil so the tart doesn’t stick).  Arrange the apricots on the crust and fold the edges around.  If the apricots are falling over and pushing the crust out, you can use toothpicks or skewers to hold it together while baking.  Use a pastry brush to coat the top of the pie crust with the egg.  Sprinkle the egg-washed crust with coarse sugar.  Bake for 60-70 minutes at 350F.

Allow tart to come to room temperature.  Mix apricot preserves with water to form a glaze.  Using a pastry brush, glaze the apricots with the preserves mixture.   Enjoy!

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Homemade Kimchi: Harnessing the Power of Lactic Acid Fermentation

It’s that time of year when the produce starts coming in so quickly that we need to find a way to extend its shelf life.  Lactic acid fermentation is used to preserve and flavor this kimchi.  The fermentation imparts a happy, bubbly, almost champagne-like burst in the mouth.  However, I must warn you… kimchi is, um, quite pungent.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since it’s really fermenting cabbage, garlic, and fish.  So intense is this aroma that husband has banned the unsealed product from our refrigerator.  Therefore we learned why Korean families have a dedicated kimchi refrigerator… marital bliss!  Fortunately, sealing it in glass jars does the trick to making everyone happy.
  • 2 heads Napa cabbage ( or 1 one head Napa and 1 head Bok Choy)
  • 2 tablespoons kosher or coarse sea salt
  • 20 garlic cloves, minced
  • 20 slices peeled fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 cup kochukaru (Korean chile powder)*
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 can anchovies, oil drained
  • 1/2 cup 1-inch pieces scallions (greens and whites)
  • 1/2 cup julienned carrots and/or daikon radish (optional)

* No kochukaru?  Me neither!  However much I like spicy, this is a perfect opportunity to dial down the intense fire.  Instead I used 1/2 c paprika and 1/4 crushed red pepper flakes.  I know, I’m totally getting wimpy on that authentic kimchi heat, but I’d like my family to actually eat some too.

Remove and wash the cabbage leaves.  Slice the leaves in half length wise.  Sprinkle with salt and toss.  Leave out to wilt on the counter for approximately 24 hours.

Once the cabbage is wilted, add the garlic, ginger, kochukaru or substitute, soy sauce, and anchovies to a food processor and process until it becomes a paste.  Toss the paste with the cabbage, scallions, and carrots.

For a more pungent flavor, allow this to ferment in a cool place (<68F) in your lactic fermentation crock for approximately 24 hours.  Otherwise pack it into sealed glass jars and store in the refrigerator.  The kimchi will be ready to eat in as little as 1 day or stored in the refrigerator for months.  The flavor changes over time as the lactic acid fermentation works its bubbly magic.

Ps.  This was an experiment using Momofuku’s Kimchi and the ingredient list on Mother in Law’s Kimchi, which is the best kimchi one can purchase at the market.

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Kohlrabi Salad Revisited

Still looking for kohlrabi inspiration?  Me too.  I finally developed a taste for the bulb in my  my favorite kohlrabi salad.  But the greens?  Hmm.  Instead of immediately throwing the greens to the chickens, I thought I’d revisit that recipe and see if they can’t be incorporated.  Besides, the chickens have enough pasture this time of year and I’m trying to up the brassica (cabbage family) superfoods in my diet.  The greens are certainly tougher than delicate lettuces, but they provide a crunchier, coleslaw-like texture to the salad.  If you prepare the salad ahead of time, it will give them time to soften in the dressing.

In a bowl, whisk together the Vinaigrette:

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive or grapeseed oil

Toss in the Greens:

  • 1 large bulb kohlrabi, peeled and sliced thin
  • kohlrabi green, thick stems removed, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp capers

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Of Asphalt and Chestnut Honey

I’ve had a honey epiphany.  As a consumer of our local liquid amber, I’ve seen variations of flavor and color over the seasons and years, but always sweet and delicious.  Except, of course, for that memorable year when the town paved the roads and the honey had, let’s call it, um, distinctive asphalt notes.

Here’s the amazing discovery.  I made a recipe from a friend that required Italian chestnut honey.  I was assured that it was integral to the recipe and to forget about local, get on the Internet, and order me some.  Fine.  It arrived.  I opened it.  Took a sniff.  Bleck.  Had it gone bad in transit?  I then read the label, which described it as (and I quote) “ideal for who don’t like very sweet flavour honey.” I took a lick.  Double bleck!  Had I just been poisoned by the infamous Internet Tuscan honey mafia? More reading… The site Serious Eats describes chestnut honey as “not for the timid palate” and “Dark and spicy, with touches of smoke and leather, chestnut honey is complex, mysterious, and nuanced.”  Yup, that about sums it up.  Leather and smoke.  But in defense, it did impart a distinct and magnificent flavour to the recipe.

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Bottom line… I had no idea that honey could be so variable, which makes me want to embark on my dream beekeeping project even more.  But, after the great rooster disaster of 2012, I’m not eager to once again mix toddlers and talons until the kids are much older.

Ps.  Welcome back! It’s been ages since my last post because our family welcomed a new addition to our ranks.  Priorities, now.  So as baby sits by me and assists with “yayayayayayaYAyaya” we can now find the time to get back to hobby blogging about our minifarm.

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