Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Strawberry Ice Cream

Two boxes of strawberries in the CSA, sunny 60-degree weekend weather, and it seemed like time to start putting the ice cream maker through its paces again.

(Not strictly true. Jack is generous with his ice-cream-making skill, so we've already had pineapple sorbet, chocolate-peanut butter-marshmallow fluff ice cream, and peppermint ice cream this year. But: first CSA ice cream of spring?)

Jack is currently excited about this no-cook ice cream recipe, which is about as dangerously easy as opening two cans. He says to tell you that we used cream instead of evaporated milk and that it was awesome (which it was).

(What he's not letting on is that we may also have learned, the hard way, the significant differences between sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk. Though the Internet says you can transmogrify the latter into the former.)

This variant incorporates pureed strawberries and melted chocolate.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday Veggietrivia

A couple items of potential interest to local foodies ...

PBS is streaming the entire film Food, Inc. online, but only through Thursday, April 29 [edit: now they say midnight Wednesday].

In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation's food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer ... Featuring interviews with such experts as Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto) along with forward thinking social entrepreneurs like Stonyfield's Gary Hirshberg and Polyface Farms' Joel Salatin, Food, Inc. reveals surprising—and often shocking truths—about what we eat, how it's produced, who we have become as a nation and where we are going from here.

I haven't seen it yet (and I hear that there might not be much new if you've read Fast Food Nation and The Omnivore's Dilemma), but I'm looking forward to watching it. (We may screen it as part of our weekly eat-up-the-dregs-of-the-CSA potluck.)

Via Davis Square Live Journal, a survey about demand for a winter farmer's market in Somerville (editorial comment: which would be awesome!):
On behalf of Mayor Curtatone, Shape Up Somerville is working with community partners and local farms to develop and launch a winter farmers’ market during the 2010-2011 season. We need your help to develop the best market possible!

The Shape Up Somerville Steering Committee winter market working group has developed a short survey to measure consumer demand for a Somerville winter market. Please take a few minutes to complete this short survey and help spread the word by sharing it with your networks.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cambodian Vegetable Curry

Once again posed the problem of green beans and potatoes, we made a simplified, vegetarian version of this Cambodian vegetable and chicken curry.

Other farm share items tossed in: carrots, kale, sweet potato.

Non-farm-share additions: squash, peppers, tofu cubes.

Footnote on the Epicurious recipe: The recipe calls for making a paste of lemongrass and chiles (among other things) and then later adding jarred red curry paste. The red curry paste I use is made of lemongrass and chiles (among other things), so I think you can guess my shortcut.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Grapefruit Brulee

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be pyromaniacs.

Jack has a new toy, which he is applying to farm share produce (photos 1-3), discounted Easter candy (4), and frankly, everything else in the kitchen.

We don't usually cook meat at the co-op, so solely for literary interest do I pass on this recipe for Blowtorch Prime Rib Roast, which apparently inspired the torch's purchase.

Jack also recommends this ChefTalk thread for discussion of blowtorch best practices.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Minestrone for All Seasons

We've already discussed how we make a minestrone around here (hint: recklessly), so I'm just here to argue that a hearty vegetable soup is as good in April as it is in November. (Particularly on a 40-degrees and rainy long weekend.)

Our formula this time was aromatics (onions, parsnips, carrots, garlic) + long-cooking vegetables (potatoes, sweet potato, kale) + broth and canned tomatoes + quick-cooking vegetables and add-ins (green beans, parsley, canned red and white kidney beans, fried tofu cubes, Asiago cheese).


1. Epicurious offers a minestrone recipe for winter, autumn, summer, and late summer, but none for spring.

2. The Epicurious winter minestrone recipe suggested caramelizing tomato paste before adding it to the soup. Jack attempted to replicate the idea by browning our canned diced tomatoes in a skillet. We're not sure what effect that had, but it kept him out of trouble for a while.

3. It's hard to stir the minestrone when you've filled the pot to the brim with vegetables. However, the leftovers have so far warmed me up after a run in the 40-degree rain and carried us through an impromptu dinner party, so I can't in good conscience advocate making less.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Deconstructed (Lettuce-Free) Nicoise Salad

Green beans and potatoes (and okay, a delicious-looking French cookbook manuscript that is the entire substance of my working life) got me thinking about Nicoise salad.

I'll let the experts tell you how to make one properly -- the tuna should be fresh! the tuna should be canned! the original version never had potatoes! you have to understand its soul! en francais, s'il vous plait! -- but our version was a simple matter of boiling a few things and opening some packages and cans:
  • green beans, trimmed and blanched (3-4 minutes in boiling water)
  • new potatoes, boiled (10-12 minutes) and quartered
  • eggs, hard-boiled and sliced
  • grape tomatoes
  • mixed olives
  • canned tuna chunks
  • vinaigrette dressing (oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper)
And I'm at a bit of a loss to explain how this came about, but for the first time since we started with this farm share (almost a full year ago), I wanted to make a salad ... and we didn't have any lettuce! So we present ... the more-Nicoise-less-salad Nicoise salad.

(Perhaps topically, Mark Bittman wrote a love note to plain old lettuce last week -- The Charms of the Loser Lettuces. More evidence we are soulmates: he stir-fries his lettuce, too!)

To accommodate our diverse household's culinary preferences (i.e., not inflict tuna on the virtuous vegetarians), we served the salad in deconstructed form -- each ingredient in its own bowl and everyone assembles their own.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Shepherd's Pie

What I love about this house is that I can come home from work, announce "I was thinking of making a shepherd's pie," and rustle up enough sous chefs to have one on the table in an hour. (This is a speedy inspired-by-Rachael-Ray version, not a takes-three-hours Gourmet Magazine version.)

Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie,
A fly can't bird, but a bird can fly.
Ask me a riddle and I reply
Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie.

0:00 -- Start water boiling for potatoes. Peel potatoes and cut into smallish chunks. Dump into the water.
0:05 -- Wash and peel vegetables for the filling. We used onions, carrots, parsnips, and turnips.
0:10 -- Vegetables start going into a pan on the stovetop as they're ready. Saute in oil (or steam, as the pan starts getting overly full).

Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie,
A fish can't whistle and neither can I.
Ask me a riddle and I reply:

Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie.

0:10 -- Start making the gravy. (You guys know I always delegate sauce-making projects to Jack; if he weren't around I might have used canned gravy or a can of cream of mushroom soup.) Start with a flour-butter roux, add vegetable broth, consider some cornstarch to thicken, then dress up with salt, pepper, rosemary, or other flavors to taste.
0:15 -- Fork potatoes. If tender enough to mash, drain. Let cool for a moment.
0:20 -- Mash potatoes with milk, butter, salt and pepper, or your favorite accompaniments.
0:25 -- Add frozen or canned vegetables (edamame, peas, corn) to pan of sauteed veggies. We didn't, but herbs would be good at this point, too.

Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie,
Why does a chicken? I don't know why.
Ask me a riddle and I reply:
Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie.

0:30 -- Assemble the shepherd's pie. Spoon the sauteed vegetables into a baking dish, pour the gravy over, and then spread the mashed potatoes on top.
0:35 -- Top with cheese, bread crumbs, or anything that sounds good. (We had extra-locally-grown chives, which had popped up in our backyard by surprise.)
0:40 -- Into the oven (400 degrees) for a bit to warm through and melt the cheese. (Not strictly necessary.)
0:55 -- Under the broiler to brown the top. (Also not strictly necessary.)

Et voila!