Thursday, May 27, 2010

Just Like Shelling Peas

In a scene right out of a nineteenth-century novel, I came home a couple days ago to find Erica and Jack shelling peas on the back porch.

Chocolate and Zucchini has a detailed tutorial on shelling peas (and in good Parisian nose-to-tail fashion, also a recipe for a soup made from the pods).

We served our handful of peas with this very simple sesame dressing from Epicurious.

(Other bizarre Internet finds: the tagline of this e-commerce site is "Just like shelling peas.")

Friday, May 21, 2010

Tastes-Like-Summer Grilled Cheese Sandwich

This grilled cheese on sourdough, topped with parsley pesto and a farm share tomato, was enjoyed on a sunny back porch one recent summery-feeling evening.

The pesto, which we made to use the two big bunches in last week's share, was one we've made before. (Recipe is here. Lazy version: Parsley, garlic, and a couple tablespoons of nuts in the food processor. With the motor running, drizzle in olive oil; when it looks ready, pulse in some Parmesan.) We served the pesto with pasta originally; this is just the leftovers.

The tomato made the sandwich say summer to me, and it also made me feel wicked excited about growing my own. (One of my plants was amputated in the decidedly not-summery-feeling wind and rain storms of a few days ago, but the upside-down one is hanging in there.)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Farm Share Sushi

Just for the record, my housemates were rolling strange things into sushi long before Mark Bittman told us we could:
"What goes with sushi rice?" The answer, not surprisingly, is "almost anything." (It’s rice, after all.) Although I was concerned that the sweetness of the rice would impose limits, I had trouble finding any toppings that crossed the line. This is in part because the rice is also quite salty (it’s really very well balanced), and soy sauce pretty much makes sweetness disappear.
Farm share items in these rolls: fried eggplant strips, sweet potato french fries, carrot, and arugula.

More eclectic additions: whole-grain mustard, homegrown clover sprouts, cream cheese, fried banana, and strawberry jam.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Veggietrivia: TEDxCambridge event

Just got wind of this interesting-sounding foodie event at MIT on Sunday. You have to apply to attend (there may still be time), but it'll also be webcast.

TEDxCambridge presents “How do you eat?” a celebration of food, Sunday, May 16th at the MIT Stata Center. We’re bringing together chefs, psychologists, writers, designers and engineers for a surprising look at science, art and the future of food.

The event is inspired in part by Jamie Oliver’s TED Prize wish “to create a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity.”

“How do you eat?” is a question meant to be interpreted broadly. We are reaching out to an eclectic pool of speakers including Boston-area chefs, restaurateurs, biologists, psychologists, engineers, designers, artists, writers, and food historians. We’re particularly interested in content related to: sustainability; international development; the global obesity epidemic; the science of food; cutting-edge food technology; architecture, design & food; and food history.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
MIT Stata Center, Kirsch Auditorium

Thursday, May 13, 2010


We were super excited to open our box yesterday and find ... fiddleheads!

But despite the shouts of glee that accompanied the surprise in this week's box, none of us had ever eaten or prepared fiddleheads before.

To the Internet!

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension factsheet says:
Thoroughly wash fiddleheads in clean, potable water several times until the wash water appears clean. Then bring a small amount of lightly salted water to a boil, add washed fiddleheads, and cook them at a steady boil for 10 minutes. Fiddleheads can also be washed clean and steamed for 20 minutes. Serve at once with melted butter or vinegar.
(Because of some cases of food-borne illness linked to fiddleheads, it's not recommended to eat them raw or lightly cooked.)

A Montreal Gazette article advocates simplicity in serving:
The smaller, and therefore younger, fiddleheads have milder flavour; big ones can be bitter, although it's a pleasant kind of bitterness. The easiest way to serve this food is to sizzle up the cooked fiddleheads in a pan of melted butter just until they are reheated, then drizzle them with lemon juice and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper.
And it describes fiddleheads as "little, deep green curls that taste something like asparagus with -- say flavour specialists -- a dash of green beans and okra." (Another, more rhapsodic, writer describes the taste as "like a fresh, crispy green bean that had married and produced offspring with an asparagus sprout.")

We took the simplest route, steaming the fiddleheads for 15 minutes, then serving them with melted butter, lemon juice, and salt. And we got the asparagus flavor, but also, perhaps suggested by our ersatz hollandaise, found them reminiscent of artichoke hearts.

For those looking to do something fancier, our old standby, Epicurious, offers a steamed fiddleheads recipe and a "spring vegetable ragout" including fiddleheads, baby peas and carrots, and morels (a bit precious for my taste), as well as a bibimbap with optional (preserved) fiddlehead stems.

The New York Times has a Thai stir-fried fiddlehead recipe today in which the author, in excellent world-weary Manhattanite fashion, revises his opinion of being SO OVER fiddleheads.

NorCliff Farms, a major fiddlehead producer, offers numerous recipes. And our neighbor, Tiny Urban Kitchen, has some recent lovely fiddlehead photos.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Green Beans Amandine

Green beans always seem to be the vegetable left in our fridge at the end of the week. Rather than be mixed into curry or salad (our usual solutions), they got to star in their own side dish yesterday.

This Epicurious recipe is a twist on the usual green beans amandine with sliced or chopped almonds. The almonds are finely ground in the food processor, toasted in butter with lots of garlic, and then used to coat the steamed green beans.

Tasty! (And particularly garlicky when eaten cold for lunch the next day.)

Don't just trust us, though; read the Epicurious reviews:
it freaking rocks and rolls man -- A Cook from Denver, Co on 11/23/06

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Asian adventures

We weren't sure what this was when we pulled it out of the crisper, but washed and trimmed, it looked young and fresh and tasty.

(Later research suggests that it's tatsoi, and that mixing it with our one little bunch of baby bok choy was a reasonable choice. Less well-thought-out might have been our addition of two handfuls of leftover spinach. We stir-fried all the greens with lots of garlic and oil, a la our favorite dandelion green preparation.)

Meanwhile, we stopped by the Reliable Market, a little Asian grocery in Union Square in Somerville. We successfully resisted buying a ten-pound bucket of kimchi, flying fish roe, dried powdered honey, and any number of mysterious items with cute cartoon characters on the packages and no English labeling whatsoever.

We did not successfully resist buying (extremely inexpensive!) exotic mushrooms.

These are, clockwise from bottom right, enoki mushrooms, beech mushrooms, and an unidentified variety.

We stir-fried them all pretty simply. (If we got more, I'd like to try this recipe, which steams the mushrooms with tofu.)

Greens and mushrooms were served alongside brown rice and oven-crisped breaded tofu sticks.

Monday, May 3, 2010

48HFP: Carrot Muffins and Apple Crisp

Last weekend, our house played host to a 48 Hour Film Project team, who, between Friday and Sunday night, wrote, shot, and edited a short film, incorporating an assigned prop, character, and line.

I volunteered for craft services, so I was catering for fifteen through the weekend. The film crew mostly had separate groceries, but some farm share carrots and apples snuck into their snacks.

The carrot-raisin-walnut muffins were a recipe from the Sun-Maid website, and I thought they were uncommonly good for an Internet recipe. I tried to make the muffins more substantial by using half whole-wheat flour, substituting brown sugar for white, and adding walnuts and allspice. For portability, I omitted the glaze.

I was less excited by how the apple-crisp-from-the-Internet turned out, but we had four big yellow farm share apples that were a little soft for eating but just right for baking. And! I was super excited about using Jack's mandolin slicer for the first time.

(And the film: "Balance," directed by Jack, will premiere tomorrow -- Tuesday, May 4 -- along with eleven other 48HFP films, at the Kendall Square Cinema, in the 7pm group.)