Saturday, July 23, 2011

Radicchio Face

 It wasn't enough to blog about it. Starting a joke Twitter account only scratched the surface of our dislike.

 Friends, we hate radicchio enough to make a film about it.

Further to the argument that strong flavors showcase it best, we tried eating it as a deconstructed version of this Endive and Radicchio Cheese Plate Salad, with lots of cheese and nuts and dried apricots and yeast dressing.

(In the interest of full disclosure, Alex and Alex actually seem to like radicchio, and later snacked through a whole bag of the stuff while quizzing us on math and logic puzzles.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Easy Lazy Zucchini-Avocado Soup

The cucurbitas are here! We've been getting fistfuls of yellow squash and crooknecks and stripey green-gray squash and zucchini from both our CSAs.

Picadilly Farm was kind enough to send, with another two pounds of squash yesterday, a recipe for this no-cook, barely-any-prep, super-easy cold zucchini-avocado soup. Just dump everything in the food processor, whizz, chill, and done.

Another serving for lunch today made me think of a savory zucchini smoothie -- and wonder just a little whether we could add it to our vegetable breakfast repertoire. (The leftovers, like guacamole, do turn a little brown on the exposed surface.)

Chilled Zucchini and Avocado Soup
Farmer John's Cookbook

4 small or 2 medium zucchini or summer squash
2 avocados, coarsely chopped
3 medium scallions, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled, halved
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
1 cup plain yogurt
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
Put zucchini, avocados, scallions, garlic, chili powder, and coriander seeds in a food processor; process until smoothly combined. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl; stir in the yogurt. Refrigerate at least one hour. Season with salt and pepper to taste; garnish with cilantro.
P.S. Fifteen more recipes for squash.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunday Veggietrivia

Alex (party to our griping about radicchio) sends a New York Times article about other unpopular vegetables, namely colonial-era vegetables that have fallen out of favor (for example, burnet, smallage, and skirrets). Vagaries of fashion aside, difficulty in cultivation or preparation along with just plain tasting bad seem to be the top reasons.

We make pesto from just about anything green around here (parsley, garlic scapes, kale, mixed herbs; instruction zine), and we have a bunch of fennel fronds waiting (not a new idea among thrifty eaters and CSA recipients). So I was pretty excited to see this Ask MetaFilter thread about what causes pesto sometimes to come out a beautiful green and sometimes an unappetizing brown, including a long summary of Harold McGee's research on the issue. (Short answer: it's complicated.)

I looked in the refrigerator just now and found not a single head of lettuce (!!), so today's salad is CSA arugula, yellow beans, and wheatberries, with fried egg, dried cranberries, walnuts, and nutritional yeast dressing.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Resenting Radicchio

How can food that looks this good taste so bad?

Relatedly, have you ever thrown a dinner party where the major topic of conversation was how bad the vegetables tasted? Where, a week later, the guests still wanted to talk about the absurd inedibility of what you'd served them?

I know, I know, fool me once, shame on the chicories. Fool me twice ... well, I'm not sure why I thought roasting our two heads of radicchio and one of endive would come out less bitter than the last time we tried.

Epicurious's blogger had a similar experience with her CSA radicchio:
I assumed that this new radicchio would taste like its more familiar counterparts (a little crunchy with a gentle, palatable bitterness), but what I got when I bit into a leaf was pure bitterness. I had to spit it out. ... With a lot of parmesan cheese and some pasta, the radicchio was rendered somewhat edible. There was still a lingering bitterness that made it difficult to eat a lot of it but at least it didn't all go to waste.
Help? How are you guys eating this stuff?

P.S. At some point in the meal it began to seem like a good idea to start a Twitter account by what one friend called "very angry lettuce."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Spring Vegetable Sous-Vide

Picadilly Farm wins the food porn award this week, with these beautiful bunches of spring carrots ("Napoli"), leeks ("Varna"), and radishes ("French Breakfast"). A special preparation was obviously called for.

Jack suggested sous-vide. After the time Jack cooked a turkey in his parents' bathtub, they gifted him with the hardware for a rice cooker sous-vide hack (sort of like this one). We've recently been experimenting with sous-vide steak (pretty darn good) and salmon (amazing), and we'd heard that the technique works well with root vegetables.

I used the Serious Eats recipe for sous-vide carrots, vacuum-sealing them in bags (with salt, sugar, and butter) and submerging them in 183-degree water for an hour. (Unsurprisingly, I elected not to do the recommended faux-tourne cut. In fact, I might have left a couple inches of the tops and roots on.)

And ... well, they tasted like fresh vegetables cooked with lots of salt, sugar, and butter. A nice thing, but maybe not the highest calling of a thirty-eight-cup rice cooker. They did have a nice crisp-tender even-throughout fancy-restaurant thing happening (restaurants sous-vide vegetables because they'll hold forever without overcooking, which is a good thing when you're serving dinner over several hours), but our guests were more awed by the supreme inedibility of the escarole and radicchio I cooked alongside (more on that to come).

P.S. Sous-vide makes this list of 2011's ten worst food trends.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wheatberry Resources

When Enterprise farm share members got a pound of wheatberries (via Four Star Farms) this week, we had to laugh. Because, um, about a month ago, I talked my housemates into letting me bulk order a twenty-five pound bag of wheatberries.

That is a large amount of wheatberries.

Wheat berries are the whole grain of the wheat plant (the bran, germ, and endosperm). If you grind wheatberries, you get whole wheat flour. If you refine it down to the endosperm and grind that, you get white flour. For serious, I did not know where flour came from until recently.

Other things you can do with the champagne of whole grains* include sprouting them, growing wheatgrass from them (popular with hippies and cats), or fermenting them in possibly the strangest recipe I've ever seen on Epicurious (and the reader reviews are priceless).

If you're so unlucky as to have only a pound, well, 1) I can help you out, and 2) I suggest boiling them and eating them. We've talked about making wheatberry salads (a consistent potluck favorite) and wheatberries for breakfast here before.

I've been evangelizing wheatberries recently with a little hand-drawn zine (PDF), and curating a bundle of wheatberry recipes (comment with your suggestions, and I'll add 'em).

* Because they sort of pop on your tongue when you eat them.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Make-Up Soup: Broccoli-Cheddar-Bread

Sometimes -- and please pretend to be shocked to hear this -- Jack and I disagree a little bit about cooking.

A few weeks ago, we had some broccoli and we had some rapidly staling baguettes. (How much bread did we have? A friend came by and blurted, "Did you guys get that from a dumpster?")

I wanted to make this broccoli, red pepper, and cheddar chowder. Sounds delicious, amirite? 3 1/2 forks on Epicurious. Like an early summer version of my favorite lots-of-vegetables corn chowder.

Jack wanted to make bread soup. Something like this, or maybe this, the world's most insufferable bread soup recipe. (Objectively! Not just saying that because I was mad!)

In uncompromising spirit, we both went ahead making our own soups, completely disregarding what the other was up to. Jack started sauteeing bread cubes and adding broth. I started chopping broccoli and onions.

We made concessions: In deference to his entire cubed stale baguette, I omitted the potato from my recipe. He pretended not to notice when I dumped a bowlful of vegetables into his pot. And we agreed about adding cream and cheddar and immersion blending the results.

The numerous things we disagreed about putting directly in the soup -- chopped tomato, red pepper, chives, basil, sour cream, and Jack's rocking croutons -- all made fine toppings.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Breakfast Salad

Salad for lunch and dinner just wasn't sufficient to get through all this lettuce. (Are you drowning in lettuce, too? A paean to lettuce for some perspective.)

The Kitchn suggested the addition of a poached egg to make it more breakfasty. The particular salad here was a co-op team effort, with poached eggs (in onion-infused milk) by Anna and house-favorite yeast dressing by Erica (via Jack's mom).

I love what the Paupered Chef has to say about breakfast salad, starting with the appeal of vegetables over most breakfasts:
I'm eating salads because I dislike most breakfast foods. Sure, I have a soft spot for perfect pancakes and Eggs Benedict, but I'm talking about what most people eat on a daily basis: boxed cereal and pop tarts, the kind of food I'd never dream of eating for dinner, but somehow seems necessary in the morning when I need to hurry up and get to work. 
as well as the practical considerations:
I'm blurry-eyed and nearly incoherent in the morning until I drink coffee, and the idea of washing and chopping vegetables would probably leave me with a missing finger. So I do most of the work the night before. My wife and I wash whatever lettuce we are going to use (sometimes romaine, mostly a mix), spin it dry, and then tear it up into 1-inch pieces. The lettuce is placed in a plastic bag with a paper towel, and then stashed in the fridge. Then we'll peel and chop whatever other vegetables we have around and place them in containers.
I, too, have been prewashing large batches (think three or four heads at a time) of our extraordinarily sandy lettuce to make sure it's ready to eat when the mood strikes.

I don't entirely follow the connection to running ultramarathons on breakfast salad, but I added Born to Run to my library request queue.