Saturday, November 17, 2012

Smashed Potatoes

Inspired by the Boston Globe Magazine's Roasted Punched Potatoes (recipe probably paywalled), I smashed my own potatoes. (Upon reviewing the magazine photo, it seems I punched mine rather less genteely than the recipe called for.)

The trick is to bake them twice -- bake whole potatoes until very soft; smash with the bottom of a glass; and then drizzle with oil, salt, and pepper and bake again. The recipe called for 80 minutes of baking in all, which seemed excessive for a weeknight, so I did the first bake in the microwave (fork potatoes; microwave 5 minutes, flip over and microwave another 5 minutes; add minutes until done). The second bake is in the oven at rather high temperature (I did 475) to crisp up the edges.

If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't smash the potatoes quite so flat, for more fluffy soft potato between the crispy bits. I ate mine plain, but either ketchup or baked potato toppings (sour cream, cheese, bacon, chives) would be nice.

(Local social media celebrity Steve Garfield has a more faithful walkthrough of the Globe recipe.)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Christopher Kimball Does Not Approve of This French Onion Soup

No such thing as a pretty picture of French onion soup. Okay, there is, just not here.
When you come home cranky and tired late on a Friday, and your partner arrives soon after, having consumed nothing but a G&T and bar snacks, what better recipe for domestic bliss than caramelizing onions for 45 minutes before you can even think about starting to cook?

There were tears, but only from cutting onions.

The CSA had sent us a bag of onions each of the previous two weeks, so we reprised Ray's French onion soup. Changes this time

  • Instead of 2-3 onions, we used ALL THE ONIONS (maybe 12 smallish onions, some with spoiled parts removed)
  • Chicken bouillon cubes instead of beef stock (all we had)
  • Cider instead of brandy (Ben saw us sweating the onions and brought me a bottle from the fridge, so it was in my hand and half-drunk while cooking)
  • Hunk of rosemary lopped off the top of my plant instead of proper bouquet garni
A pretty good easy fall dinner. Don't skip broiling the bread and cheese on top!

P.S. He would disapprove of the way we cook around here, but I sort of loved the New York Times Magazine piece on Christopher Kimball and Cook's Illustrated last week: Cooking Isn't Creative and It Isn't Easy.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Mushroom Surprise

You might remember our feisty mushroom growing kit from last winter. By tossing the mycelium block into a plastic storage bin and feeding it new coffee grounds (thanks, Johnny D's!), we managed to grow a couple more mushroom crops over the spring and summer.

When we moved, the block was pretty spent, so I stuck it in a cabinet and forgot about it. (It's the "Teresa's creepy science projects" cabinet: mushrooms on top and worms on the bottom.)

Fast forward four or five weeks, and we noticed that the cabinet was slightly ajar.

Here's what it looked like inside. Yum! Jack fried them up for dinner.

P.S. There is a lid on the plastic container. The mushrooms figured out how to get out through where it hinges.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Foodie Penpals: September

September was my second month as part of Foodie Penpals, a blogger food swap organized by The Lean Green Bean. You send a package of foodie treats (spending limit $15) to a food blogger or food blog reader (mine was a lactose-free selection for April in Montgomery, Alabama), and someone else sends one to you.

My penpal was Katie from Knoxville, Tennessee, who writes Fitness, Food and Photography. I came home to her box on a Friday after a long week at work, and it's possible that I immediately opened the sweet potato chips and ate them in bed while reading comic books. (The BBQ habanero almonds, on the other hand, I spirited away to work, where I wouldn't have to share them.)

I'd told Katie that we'd just moved, and she very sweetly sent some spices and staples to stock our new cabinets. The most on-topic for this blog is the Weber Kick'n Chicken seasoning, which she promised was good on grilled vegetables as well as meat, and which we've already enjoyed on potatoes and pasta and in a CSA-leftovers cabbage and carrot stir-fry.

The most mind-blowing item was the Biscoff spread, which I gather is a Foodie Penpals thing (Katie says she was introduced to it by one of her penpals, and I've seen it on a few other blogs). It is a sweet spread made of cookies. Speculoos (spicy ginger cookies), to be precise. So you can take your cookies and spread them on toast or pretzels or other cookies, because nothing isn't better with cookies spread on it. (If you're feeling decadent, you can use the Nutella, too.)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Canning and Ebooks

This is a post ostensibly about canning but it is actually about ebooks (disclosure: making ebooks is my day job).

First, and most importantly, Workman has a special on canning and preserving ebooks for September, with six books on sale for $2.99. (There's also a free vegetable PDF-ebook for the low, low price of your email address.) Feel free to stop reading here.

I wanted Put 'Em Up. You get seven buying choices: Amazon, Apple, B&N, Google, Indiebound, Kobo, and Sony. I was going to read it on my iPad, but that still meant lots of choices. Which behemoth to support?

Apple is the obvious choice on an iPad, and it's the easiest: just open iBooks, find the book in the store, and Apple already knows your credit card information. You're reading within thirty seconds. Here's the sample in Apple's iBooks.

Amazon probably comes to mind first when you think about buying books, and many people use the Kindle iPad app to read Amazon ebooks on the iPad. To buy books from Amazon for my iPad, I have to switch to my laptop, but the book automatically is sent to my iPad.

I have a lot of quibbles with Amazon, including their insistence on their proprietary ebook format over the open EPUB standard. However, if you are intent on saving money at the expense of civilization, I should point out that the book is actually $2.51 at Amazon, a savings of an additional 48 cents. Here's the sample in Amazon's Kindle iPad app.

I buy most of my ebooks from Google, and here's why: through their partnership with Indiebound, you can buy ebooks from your local independent bookstore. So most of my ebook purchases are through the Harvard Book Store or Brookline Booksmith, bricks-and-mortar stores that I heart so, so much, and I consider the many extra clicks required to do that a reasonable tax on having such wonderful places in the world.

Here's the book in Google Play.

But wait, what's this? Google Play also has a "scanned pages" option that shows you how the actual book looks (like a PDF of the book). You can't zoom in or change the text size, but for me, this is the right way to experience a nicely designed cookbook.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Tomato Seconds

The Copley farmer's market had "seconds tomatoes" (at the Atlas Farm booth) at twenty pounds for $12 on Friday, which was too tempting to pass up, even lacking the inclination to process tomatoes all weekend. Fortunately, I could only carry one box.

I got a new canning book (more on that to come), so I checked out the tomato section, with laziness my chief criterion. (Did you know you can just freeze whole tomatoes?) 

I settled on marinara sauce, which allowed food milling out the skins and seeds (no blanching and peeling here). My laziness did, however, extend to refusing to go out to buy the onions the recipe called for, so the "marinara sauce" is plain old tomato juice and pulp. (I'm thinking I can doctor it, Smitten Kitchen three-ingredient sauce style, when we eat it.) The recipe said to cook for one or two hours to thicken the sauce; I'm past three hours and still sadly runny. 

On the bright side, dinner couldn't wait, so we took the discarded skins and seeds, ran them through the food processor with an onion (we had one), garlic, and carrots, and cooked with some water and olive oil for a faster, chunky sauce. Nose-to-tail tomato eating.

P.S. Another personal recipe modification. Smashing partially cooked tomatoes with a wooden spoon? Not very fun. Crushing halved tomatoes with your bare hands? Amazingly satisfying.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Baked Corn Casserole

Here's a riddle: How do you buy corn for an eight-ear recipe, make the recipe, and still have eight ears left?

The Sunday Globe magazine (love the recipe section; hate the paywall) had an article on baked corn casseroles this week, offering variants with parmesan and basil, goat cheese, chorizo and red pepper, mushrooms and bacon, and salmon and leeks.

The recipe takes a little time and focus: you cut the corn off the cobs, then cook it on the stovetop, then cook an onion and garlic, then make a roux, which with milk and cheese becomes a sauce, then pour the corn back in, and then bake it for half an hour. So maybe it is not the smartest side dish to try for the first time when you are also trying to make a whole dinner. Just saying.

Here's a Pioneer Woman version that looks a bit faster and easier (no precooking the corn, no roux, no onions or garlic, made with cream).

I went to the Copley farmer's market to buy corn at lunchtime. The recipe called for eight ears, but I always round up for potluck (you never know who will show up), so I picked out twelve. Went to pay, and the seller pointed out that their baroque pricing scheme (discounts for buying seven ears or fourteen) meant I would actually save money by taking two more ears.

Came home with my fourteen ears, but only six ears worth fit in my skillet (we moved and have very few pans; digression, I am so close to just breaking down and buying this, which, in the smaller size, was Cook's Illustrated's best-value saute pan). So voila, delicious corn casserole, and eight ears left for next time. Might make a chowder.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Foodie Penpals: August

August was my first month trying Foodie Penpals, a blogger food swap organized by The Lean Green Bean. You send a package of foodie treats (spending limit $15) to a food blogger or food blog reader (mine went to Wanderlust Hearts, who wrote about it here), and someone else sends one to you.

The box arrived a day late for August reveal day, when all the recipients blog about what came in their boxes, but was an amazing surprise precisely in the middle of my moving day (which was also the moving day of approximately one billion other people in and around Boston). It was literally the best part of a day of waiting a couple extra hours for the previous tenants to leave the apartment, abandoning a box spring and bed frame that couldn't make it up the stairs, and discovering that we didn't own a shower curtain.

My penpal was The Baking Band Geek (check out her sex cookies), and she sent me an excellent box of mostly South American treats. Mango jam (YUM) and guanabana and papaya juice, two pieces of Panda licorice, two kinds of granola, freshly ground peanut butter, and an intriguing (flan-like?) eggnog-flavored gelatin dessert mix. The box was literally the first food (and at this point, pretty much only real food) to enter our new apartment.

Tomorrow will be our first day of not subsisting solely on takeout, and you can bet that there will be granola and peanut-butter-and-mango-jam-sandwiches. I may or may not have already scarfed the licorice while taking a break from the unpacking chaos in a closet.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Fresh Peach Greek Yogurt Cake

So, last we talked, I had about seven pounds of peeled and pitted peach chunks in the fridge that were too ragged and juicy to freeze.

When I checked on them the next morning, they were also rapidly browning and starting to look pretty unappealing. I used most of them to make another quart of peach jam (this time with brandy), but diverted a few into a peach breakfast cake.

The recipe is based on Boulder Locavore's Fresh Peach Sour Cream Coffee Cake, except that I used Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, omitted the streusel/nut topping, substituted lemon extract for almond (would have used vanilla, but it all went into the jam), and chopped up my unlovely peaches to put inside instead of on top.

It was excellent fuel for a day of putting things in boxes and socializing with friends and strangers who dropped by for our book swap.

Fresh Peach Greek Yogurt Cake

Cream 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/2 cup brown sugar. Add 1 egg and mix. Add 1/2 cup Greek yogurt and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or your extract/flavoring of choice.

Add 1/2 teaspoon each baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon (and/or other spices of choice). Add 1 1/2 cups flour and mix until well combined. Fold in a couple big handfuls of chopped peaches, drained of any juice.

Pour batter into a 9-inch square pan or something similarly sized. (I used a 10.5 x 7-inch Le Crueset baking dish.) Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a fork comes out clean.

Eat topped with additional Greek yogurt, fresh peaches, or peach jam.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Peach Jam and Peaches in Syrup

Sara brought me twenty-three pounds of peaches from a couple untended trees at her school. (That's nowhere near keeping up with the amazing League of Urban Canners, but it's our humble contribution to harvesting otherwise unwanted fruit.)

We launched a large-scale blanch, pit, and peel operation this morning (yes, after unsuccessfully searching the Internet for "no peel peach jam"), and quickly learned that we had two varieties of peaches (one clingstone and one freestone). To heap insult upon insult, the clingstones also refused to peel neatly.

I used ten pounds of the peaches to make twelve half-pints of jam. I like Punk Domestics for unusual peach recipes (peach vanilla prosecco jelly, spicy peach jalapeno jam), but I went with a pretty straight-up peach-vanilla-ginger recipe (variant of this one) today, hoping for a simple classic to rival last summer's Concord grape jam. Yum!

I was thinking I'd freeze the rest of the peaches for another day, but they were less-neat-wedges and more-soupy-mess and would have frozen into a solid block of peach popsicle.

So thinking of pies and crisps and crumbles, I stumbled on this discussion ("Too many peaches"), and was inspired back into canning action. I canned three quarts of the pieces, covering them with hot simple syrup, tucking in sprigs of fresh rosemary and basil, and boiling ten minutes to seal. Hoping that the fruit and syrup will seem like an inspired dessert served over pound cake this winter.

P.S. Some people use their peach pits and peels to make things like peach pit jelly and peach butter. I got as far as chopping up all the peels in the food processor and cooking the slurry down to butter-like consistency, but I didn't like the texture and didn't feel like cooking them for two more days to see if it improved. Ended up straining the results for a couple cups of spiced peach syrup.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Bread and Butter Pickles

Hello, all! It's been a busy summer here (we got engaged, woo!), which means there hasn't been a lot of blogging, and, much worse, no canning. No pickles, no blueberry jam. No dilly beans. No applesauce.

I opened the last jar of last summer's bread and butter pickles (recipe) a week ago, and was pretty sure that I'd missed my chance to make another batch this year. So when I saw pickling cukes for $1/pound at the Davis Flea today, it wasn't a hard decision to acquire ten pounds and a project for the afternoon.

Fortunately, we had a handful of fresh lids leftover from last year, an endless supply of canning salt (that's just regular salt, right?), a giant jug of vinegar (we've been painting the cabinets to keep down the grain moths), and a recipe-blind willfulness that makes substituting red pepper flakes for mustard seed seem reasonable.

Five pints and five quarts later (and ignoring the fact that we'll have to move 'em all in three weeks), I am happy to report that we are back in the canning swing of things.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Novelty Cabbage

On a recent visit, our farmer friends gifted us with this baby cone-shaped cabbage (Caraflex). We had a good time browsing their seed catalogs -- on the novelty vegetable side, I'm pretty excited about "flower sprouts," a brussels/kale cross. You heard it here first!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Zucchini Crab(less)cakes

A bumper crop of zucchini is not always our favorite, but Jack has been making these "zucchini crabcakes," which contain no crab but are disconcertingly crablike. The seafoody taste comes from the Old Bay seasoning (which he doubled on the second trial), but the moist zucchini shreds also have an inexplicably crablike texture.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Pan-Fried Fennel

This week's box came with two enormous bulbs of fennel, even more enormous stalks and fronds attached. (We might have sort of also maybe had a bulb from the previous week still hanging around, too.)

All the greenery is a bit hard to know what to do with (I'd compost it if certain waste-not types weren't watching), though it has a rhapsodic admirer on Gilt Taste. Between Chowhound and Serious Eats, the best suggestion I saw for the stems was "use them to make stock." Maybe not on a ninety-degree day, guys.

The fronds found their unoriginal end in a large amount of fennel pesto (house recipe, today with walnuts and garlic). The taste is fresh and green -- not excessively licorice-like, I don't think.

There are lots of recipes, however, for the bulbs. Here are two dozen by Martha Stewart and fourteen more from the Huffington Post.

Today's winner was Martha's pan-fried fennel, which has an easy flour-egg-breadcrumb coating (you don't really need a recipe). Three fennel bulbs later, however, I still do not know how she cut the finger-like strips you see in her photo (and I would have ended up with fewer odd-shaped bits if I hadn't tried).

The result, I thought, was not unlike fried seafood -- I'm not sure if that's the Cajun seasoning I added to the flour, a flavor present in the oil (we reuse our fry oil), or some piscine affinity of the vegetable (which is, in fact, often served with fish).

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

This pie contains both lard and vodka.
This week was the first week of the Enterprise farm share, and they sent us rhubarb and strawberries.

(Long-time readers may remember last year's eight ways not to make rhubarb pie. Having learned my lesson, I followed recipes this year.)

The pie filling is Smitten Kitchen's "Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie, Improved," which recipe I followed pretty much to the letter, and which I am abashed to report turned out entirely delicious. The unexpected ingredient was instant tapioca, which turns the otherwise runny mess of strawberries and rhubarb into a proper pie filling. (Our strawberries weren't very sweet, so if I had a do-over, I might add a smidge more sugar.)

The crust directions came from Smitten Kitchen's "Pie Crust 101," which uses Cook's Illustrated's "Foolproof Pie Dough" recipe. The secret ingredient is vodka (which provides moisture for mixing the crust, but doesn't toughen it like water, and evaporates in the oven). I substituted half a cup of lard for the half cup of vegetable shortening called for (influenced by this extraordinarily thorough New York Times investigation of various pie crust fats). With neither a food processor nor a pastry blender, I settled in for the tedium of cutting the butter and lard into little pieces and then using two knives to cut them into the flour.

Above is what the pie look likes if you ignore Smitten Kitchen's instruction to let the pie cool and the tapioca  set up for several hours. Because -- seriously -- who makes a pie and then doesn't eat it for several hours?

Later slices, more cool-headedly taken from the refrigerator, were as solid and lovely as one might hope.

Monday, June 4, 2012

This Year's Tomatoes

Because it wouldn't be summer without some scraggly tomatoes being ineptly coached along the fence, I stopped by the opening day of the Union Square Farmers Market on Sunday to pick up some plants.

The starts I got from Kimball Fruit Farm (Twitter) did well last year, and four plants for $4 proved so irresistible that I came home with eight. (Requiring a substantially larger investment in buckets and container mix, sigh.)

I never have any idea what I'm buying when I pick out the plants, so half the fun is looking up what kind of tomatoes I've planted later. Looks like a substantial bias toward pink-red medium-large tomatoes this year.

Brandywine: large (1-pound) pink beefsteak tomatoes
Carbon: medium-large black-red tomatoes
Cherokee Chocolate: medium chocolate-mahogany tomatoes
Church: large (1-pound) red beefsteak tomatoes
Fenda: medium pink hybrid tomatoes
Mexico: huge (1- to 2-pound) pink beefsteak tomatoes
Rose: medium dusty-rose ribbed tomatoes
Yellow Pear: bite-size bright-yellow pear-shaped tomatoes

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Herbed Olives: Correction

We tried making herbed olives (cheap Market Basket olives + cheap olive oil + herbs and spices + Mason jars) for the first time in February, and I may erroneously have given you the impression that they looked good but tasted sort of ... meh.

This is not true. If you jar them and then promptly refrigerate them, not much happens. But if you let the olives sit out at room temperature*, the olives start picking up amazing flavors and the oil can season your dinner by itself.

We've filled our jars twice more since we last talked (so we've made six quarts of olives in total, using about $15 worth of olives). For the first refill, I didn't replace any of the seasonings; just added more olives and olive oil on top of them in the jars. For the second refill, I did start over (whole dry chiles and red pepper flakes in one jar; lemon peel and peppercorns in a second; rosemary, garlic, bay leaves, and mustard seed in both). After a day or so of sitting on our counter through a heat wave, those olives were pretty much the best olives EVER.

I keep the two jars of the olives next to the stove, so they're always handy for snacking and the oil is nearby to use for cooking.

* There is a slight risk of botulism (an uncommon but serious form of food poisoning) associated with garlic stored in olive oil kept at room temperature. To lower the risk, you might omit the garlic or cook it in advance, heat the oil (per the original recipe), add lemon juice (for acid), or just refrigerate the darn things. Health Canada says commercial olive oil products that contain salt are fine, so the (incredibly salty) olives help, too.

(This correction post inspired by the Alexes, who not only read but also remember everything I write here.)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Fiddlehead Facts and Fiction

A couple weeks ago, Enterprise Farm sent us a bag of fiddleheads (which we've enjoyed before). Anna popped one in her mouth while putting the rest of the vegetables away, and then found the note in the bottom of the box:

***Fiddleheads should always be cooked thoroughly before eating.*** Fiddleheads contain a somewhat mysterious toxin that when eaten raw can cause symptoms similar to food poisoning. After a good washing, the greens should always be cooked in boiling water for 15 minutes or steamed for 10 to 12 minutes until tender.
She spat out the partially masticated vegetable, and then helpfully highlighted "toxin," "food poisoning," and "should always be cooked" in the note, which Jack and I found when we decided to eat the fiddleheads a few days later.

We were torn. Fifteen minutes of boiling is not the kind of treatment we would subject any nice tender green vegetable (asparagus, green beans, Brussels sprouts) to, much less our once-a-year fiddlehead treat.

On the other hand. Killing your housemates. Also not our favorite.

To the Internet!

It seems that most of the concerns about eating raw (or lightly cooked) ostrich fern fiddleheads stem from a couple sets of food poisoning cases in 1994. (Oh, actually, here's a more recent case from Alaska.) Because the cause of the food poisoning-like symptoms were not determined, but it is suspected to be a toxin in the ferns that is destroyed or inactivated by heat, we now have these long-cooking requirements. (There may also be some confusion with another type of fern, bracken fern, which does contain carcinogens.)

We split the difference, and steamed our fiddleheads for 6 minutes. Then we mixed them with some homemade hollandaise and fettucine, yum. So, while I can't actually recommend that you not follow well-meaning and Canadian-government-endorsed guidelines, I can add the anecdata that we are still alive and kicking.

(I later asked some fledgling farmers/urban homesteaders for advice, and they also suggested cooking times in the five-minute range.)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Miner's Lettuce

I visited Nathaniel and Ariel at the Farm School last weekend, and they sent me home with a jar of leaf lard, two bottles of homebrew kombucha, a homemade chutney, a shopping bag stuffed with baby kale and miner's lettuce we'd picked, and memories of a fine stinging-nettle pesto. So, score!

Miner's lettuce, or claytonia, is really not at all like lettuce (it has long stems and small leaves). It's a native of California that the forty-niners ate to stave off scurvy. (It's probably more commonly foraged than deliberately grown.) People think it has a kind of spinachy taste and use it mainly in salads; I snapped off the leaves into a glass bowl and let the potluck guests take it from there.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Cold-Oil Sunchoke French Fries

Our first foray into sunchokes, as sunchoke chips, was well received, so when we got a few more in our box a week or two ago, we leveled up to French fries.

I alluded to our new French fry technique last fall but didn't properly describe it. I won't now, either, but the gist is this: Put the fries in a single layer in a pan and add enough oil to just cover them. Then turn the heat on, bring the oil to a gentle boil, and hold them there -- don't stir! -- until the fries look crispy and delicious (maybe 15 minutes). In exchange for your time, you're saved the fuss, muss, and mess of a giant pot of extremely high-temperature oil, not to mention the two-step frying of traditional French fry recipes.

(Here's some fuller explanation of the method from Cook's Illustrated and The New York Times.)

What you see above are mostly potatoes, but that's because the sunchoke fries -- tasting something like a lighter, sweeter, better potato fry -- were first to go.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mozzarella Making

In exchange for services rendered, Ben got me a cheesemaking kit from the "cheese queen" at New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. It's the very beginner kit, making just two easy fresh cheeses, ricotta and mozzarella, and it claims to include supplies (citric acid, rennet, and salt) sufficient for thirty batches of cheese.

I've tried mozzarella twice now, and I've managed to press the curds into nice soft sliceable mozzarella-tasting balls (I know, they still need more salt). But I haven't figured out how to form curds that are willing to be stretched like taffy (the cheese queen has a microwave method) to achieve the right gooey, stretchable mozzarella texture.

(The problem may be the milk -- I couldn't stomach $8 per gallon for local farm-fresh choices, so I've been using Hood from the drugstore. If you're shopping at the grocery store, organic milks are actually more likely to be ultra-pasteurized -- which spoils them for cheesemaking -- than conventional milks.)

Some friends of ours learned mozzarella coddling properly at a Dave's Fresh Pasta class, and the difference (they brought us a sample) was substantial. I'm hoping to visit some friends -- who have also been having cheesemaking adventures -- at the Farm School for a tuneup before making the next twenty-eight batches.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Triticale (trit-uh-KAY-lee) is a wheat-rye hybrid, intended to have the nutritional value of wheat and the ease of growing of rye. It was perfected in the 1960s, so it may be the most modern food we've ever gotten in our farm share (though it perhaps fails Michael Pollan's "Don’t eat anything your great-great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food" rule). Ours was grown by Four Star Farms.

Triticale seems to be used primarily as animal feed, though I've spotted it in co-op-friendly multigrain human foods before (Kashi products, Bob's Red Mill cereals). The Internet is not exactly awash with recipes; many that do exist call for triticale flour or flakes (which we won't be milling at home). Here are a few results for the triticale berries:

Triticale with peanuts and Asian seasonings
Triticale with white beans and kale
Kale and triticale risotto
Triticale risotto

The whole grains look a lot like wheatberries, but they are more rugged and larger (and may require even longer cooking). Bob's Red Mill suggests soaking, then boiling, then letting them rest for a day.

See our previous compilation of wheatberry recipes; I think this triticale will probably end up in a potluck-standard Bittman grain and bean salad.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

One Hundred and Five Ways to Cook Cabbage

I was browsing through free Google ebooks, and I happened upon this gem. How to Cook Vegetables by Olive Green was published in 1909. It is exactly (sort of) the CSA cookbook I wish I had -- one that lists inexhaustibly many ways to cook that vegetable that you are so unspeakably tired of receiving in your weekly box. (My particular chore is to cook whatever is left at the end of the week -- that vegetable so unlovely that none of the five of us was inspired to want to eat it in six days of trying.)

Green (a pseudonym) is also the author of such classics as One Thousand Salads, What to Have for Breakfast, and The Spinster Book ("Yet a sensitive spinster is repeatedly astonished at finding her lover transformed into a fiend ...").

Here's a flavor of the recipes.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


Further on the "vegetables we've never cooked with before" theme, Enterprise Farm sent us mustard greens this week.

"Mustard greens" describes a wide variety of spicy cooking greens, and raw, they were like a promising cross between two of our favorites: arugula (peppery taste you could feel in your nose and throat) and kale (thick stems, sturdy leaves).

I set out to make something like Balsamic-Glazed Chickpeas and Mustard Greens, though I was also assigned to use portabello mushrooms and zucchini in my dish. So: 1) Sear thinly sliced mushrooms and zucchini in a hot wok; set aside. 2) Saute an onion, then add greens and a few tablespoons of broth (I slightly overdid it here), and steam until crisp-tender (and less spicy); remove greens, leaving broth. 3) Add balsamic, soy sauce, and sugar to the broth; reduce; add a can of drained chickpeas. 4) Add back mushrooms, zucchini, and greens to warm through.

I overdid step 4, which meant everything was a little overcooked  and the mustard not really spicy at all. Live and learn.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunchoke Chips

After five years of farm shares (here's the first), there aren't many vegetables that are totally new to us. So Enterprise Farm got major super cool points last week for sending us sunchokes.

Sunchokes (also known as Jerusalem artichokes) are the tuber of a kind of sunflower. Some people think they have an artichokey sort of flavor, though I thought ours were more like a slightly extra-tasty potato.

Jack made Epicurious's Fried Sunchoke Chips with Rosemary Salt, and they were pretty much perfect.

(We've had sunchokes before at Journeyman, a lovely little place in Union Square, and if we had more to play with, we'd try to remember what their preparation was like.)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Oyster Mushroom Kit

Jack got an oyster mushroom growing kit for his birthday. It's a cardboard box full of coffee grounds and ... whatever it is that mushrooms come from. When you're ready to grow it, you slit open the plastic bag inside and moisten the coffee grounds. Voila, mushrooms!

Instead, we left the unopened box in the living room for a couple months. After a while, we put it on our dresser and forgot about it for another month. And then one day ... there was a mushroom growing out of the corner of the box.

Did I mention that the kit comes inside a sealed plastic bag*?

After a few days, we opened up the box and found not a pile of coffee grounds, but a mass of solid white mycelium and a bunch of stunted, mashed together mushrooms. They'd grown to fill up all the space in the box (and to enclose the little plastic spray bottle stuck in there).


We started reading about growing mushrooms on coffee grounds, and discovered that we could probably recycle our kit and morning cuppa into fancy mushrooms for as long as we cared to (TreeHugger, The Funny Farm, and the amazing Mad Bioneer, who, among lots of fascinating mushroom info, mentioned that oyster mushrooms are carnivorous.)

*There are, in fact, mushrooms that eat plastic.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Herbed Olives

We sent Jack to the store by himself with a head cold, and he came home with several kinds of exotic cheese and a kilogram of very inexpensive olives in a plastic bag of vegetable oil.

We decided to upcycle them into glass jars and give them some flavor enhancements -- highly inspired by Dorie Greenspan's herbed olives (as seen in Around My French Table).

We put the olives into canning jars (two quart jars was about right for two pounds of olives -- we might have eaten a few on the way to the jar).

Then I warmed about a cup of olive oil just slightly in a pan with some mustard and fennel seeds, a few cloves of garlic, a couple bay leaves, and some sprigs torn from our scraggly indoor rosemary plant, and then poured the warm oil over the olives. To one jar we also added a couple dried chiles; to the other we added some strips of lemon peel and a big pinch of dried mint. Then we added more olive oil to cover the olives.

We didn't notice a very distinct change to the flavor of the olives, even after several days, but the improvement in aesthetics led to rapid olive consumption. The olive oil did solidify in the fridge, so I think I may try unrefrigerating the olives.

(6/3/12: Update to this post.)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Popcorn on the Cob

Ever since Enterprise Farm sent us popcorn, we've been considering one question: Can you pop popcorn while it's still on the cob?

Friends, I have to tell you, the Internet is absolutely idiotic on this question. I don't even want to dignify the places we went trying to figure this out. (OK, fine: absurdly inane video; Yahoo! Answers distinguishes between corn and popcorn; Instructables has no ideaactually somewhat helpful eHow.)

So in the name of science, we dropped a cob in a paper bag and put it in the microwave on the popcorn setting. It popped a bit in the center (some flew off the cob and some stayed stuck) and then started burning while the ends stayed unpopped.

Perhaps most unexpectedly, what did pop came out with an oddly non-popcorn-like texture -- much more like puffed rice. (This got me onto a tangent researching puffed grains -- popped quinoa, anyone?) Not sure if this was our popcorn or our method; we'll try some off the cob tonight and see how it goes.

Our recommendation: try it once for the fun, but make the popcorn you want to eat off the cob.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Coleslaw with Greek Yogurt Poppyseed Dressing

In celebration of an unseasonably warm Groundhog Day, what better than a barbecue?

The guests brought the meat, but I put together a potato salad and a coleslaw. (It worked out perfectly for us, but why, I wonder, do these quintessential summer side dishes rely on potatoes and cabbage, those most wintery of CSA staples?)

The potato salad was our old-fashioned Gourmet standard. (The secret is tossing the hot potato pieces with cider vinegar; this time I added lemon zest.)

I went looking for a good old-fashioned coleslaw recipe to go with it, but had some trouble finding one that wasn't too similar to potato salad. Mark Bittman doesn't dignify the standard in How to Cook Everything (he gives a spicy no-mayo coleslaw instead). But we make an awful lot of Asian slaws around here, so the Internet's multitude of "oil + vinegar = no-mayo coleslaw" recipes were Just Too Boring. (Incidentally, know who's really into coleslaw? Smitten Kitchen.)

AskMetafilter's discussion of no-mayo slaws suggested poppyseed dressing, and the yogurt was literally on the counter in front of me, being strained. (There are plenty of yogurt and Greek yogurt coleslaws out there; interestingly, most also use some mayonnaise.)

Here's what I put together:

1/2 cup Greek yogurt (I actually used our own coop-made yogurt, strained)
3 tablespoons poppyseed salad dressing
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon brown sugar (optional; our yogurt is unsweetened and very tangy)
1 teaspoon celery seeds
Pinch of salt

The salad is shredded cabbage, carrots, and green onions, with a sprinkling of dried cranberries for extra sweetness.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday Veggietrivia

Finds for Friday ... a couple writers after my own heart, when it comes to simplifying your cooking, not relying on recipes, and doing what it takes to make eating fresh vegetables work in your kichen.

The New York Times says "ditch all the recipes" (and trust your instincts, and prep your vegetables as soon as you get them home) in a blog post on Tamar Adler's cookbook, An Everlasting Meal:
Her message is that cooking does not have to be complicated, and all anyone needs are a few basics to get started. In instructing readers on the art of intuitive cooking, Ms. Adler offers not just cooking lessons, but a recipe for simplifying life. ... 
Why are so many of us intimidated by cooking? It may be that this convenience-food generation never got to see our mothers and grandmothers boiling and roasting meals without a recipe, turning the leftovers into hash or stew. Instead we are guided by cooking shows that celebrate the elaborate preparations and techniques that Ms. Adler calls “high-wire acts.”
I've also been enjoying the "2 Minutes to Dinner" blog by Purple Kale Kitchenworks. "Rethinking Convenience Foods" is about the advance prep you can do on your own fresh foods (like immediately when your CSA box arrives) to help yourself eat them throughout the week:
We know it isn’t technically hard to squeeze a lemon, but when we’re pressed for time or space, we have excuses not to do so. ... So I’ve accepted the value of expediency, of convenience, and admit that packaged food reflects something real about the choices people make when they walk into their kitchen to cook. But instead of having people take their cues from marketing departments, I encourage them to prep from fresh ingredients, and in versatile ways, personalized to their own tastes and cooking habits. I suggest they create food for their own convenience, derived from great ingredients not pulled from plastic and polystyrene packaging. They might braise a batch of celeriac, for instance, which lends itself to many quick dishes and keeps well for days. Or they can squeeze half a dozen lemons, if that means they’ll eat more salad throughout the week.
(The "Otherwise, Trash" feature is also fun for nose-to-tail vegetable eaters.)

P.S. Anyone using Pinterest? I've started seeing referrals from the site.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Orange Bowl

Something about February always means an accumulation of farm share citrus in the house -- oranges, and tangerines, and clementines, and grapefruit, oh my!

Here's a Chinese honey tangerine (one of many) that Enterprise sent us. They're pretty loose-skinned, are awfully seedy, and have a funny empty space in the center.

I hand-juiced a bunch to make a really terrifically tasty pitcher of pulpy juice. Then I used the juice to make Epicurious's tangerine sorbet, and it was ... frankly, yuck. Grainy and watery and pretty much indistiguishable from a mashed-up orange Popsicle.

If you've got a lot of citrus of your own, I can recommend the reckless marmalade we made a year ago. I am also recently digging America's Test Kitchen Feed, particularly the DIY section, and I'm sure their instructions for making Seville marmalade--down to warming the sugar in advance--are excruciatingly correct.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hasselback Potatoes

I've been seeing a lot of hasselback potatoes on the food blogs recently: potatoes sliced almost all the way through, and then baked with slices of butter, garlic, and/or cheese wedged between the slices. Add salt and pepper, maybe pour cream or sprinkle more cheese on top, and serve with sour cream, pesto, or your favorite baked potato accouterments. (Ten ways to top. And don't limit yourself to potatoes: hasselback sweet potatoes and beets.)

Revisiting the photos, I can see that that pros are doing much thinner slices than I managed. I also broke a couple of the potatoes while stuffing them -- frozen butter is a big help -- so the presentation was not exactly as envisioned.

Here's the recipe I used; here's another on Orangette.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes II

When the weather takes a sudden turn for the snowy and/or single digits, what better than a recipe that has the oven on for three hours?

Last week's Roma tomatoes needed some sexing up (ours also wound up in the fridge, to add injury to not-very-good-winter-tomatoes).

We've made these slow-roasted tomatoes (from Dorie Greenspan's book) before: slice; sprinkle with salt, pepper, rosemary, and olive oil; 225 degree oven for three hours.

This time we served them over pasta with greens and cream sauce.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Turnips Anna

Last week we got a whole bag of turnips in our share. Turnips!

Pommes Anna is a French dish of thinly sliced potatoes, baked in a cocotte à pommes Anna (or, you know, a skillet) with lots of butter to form a cake. (The Epicurious recipe has exactly two ingredients: potatoes and butter).

Martha extends the dish to include rutabaga in her "roots Anna," and her somewhat more complicated recipe was the one I happened on first. I substituted turnips for the rutabaga, used our whole bag of turnips instead of a mere two pounds, and felt extremely dubious that a turnip dish was going to be an appealing centerpiece at dinner.

An hour later ... I was impressed. I wasn't daring enough to try to turn the cake out of the pan, but the slices were tender and buttery, and purply and deeply caramelized on the bottom, and probably the best turnips I've ever cooked (no, that's not a high bar). Not a leftover turnip to be seen this morning.

I'm pretty sure you could use any combination of roots and tubers you have on hand (potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, rutabaga, celeriac, parsnips). Slice them as thinly as possible, and arrange the slices in concentric circles in the bottom of a buttered ovenproof skillet. Add salt, pepper, and more butter between each layer. Cover the top layer with foil, weigh it down (Martha suggests putting a cast iron pan on top), and bake for an hour at 450 degrees. If you're brave, try to turn it out of the skillet.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Apple Cake

This is not a story about a brilliant idea for using up unloved farm share produce that went exactly as imagined.

The recipe is basically Marie-Helene's Apple Cake from Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table. (Here's David Lebovitz's appreciation of it. I do not fault the recipe; all errors are my own.)

I got slightly carried away with the apples. We had part of a four-pound bag of bruisy, mushy Macintosh apples from last week's CSA I wanted to finish off. Because the recipe called for an assortment of apples, I also threw in one of the enormous crispy delicious Empire apples from the week before.

My cake was shaping up to be a more-apples-less-cake kind of cake.

Other substitutions: I couldn't find our vanilla, so I used lemon extract (because, you know, the bottle is the same shape), and I substituted yogurt for half the melted butter (because I sort of had a French yogurt cake in mind).

It was delicious (particularly topped with a jar of salted caramel sauce Sara brought us). But what I made could not in any sense be called a cake. It was more like baked apples stuck together with little bits of cake, or, charitably, something like an apple cobbler or buckle. 

I put it on the kitchen counter and it was demolished within hours.

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year's Day Traditions

After a Christmas of bacon, salmon, and hollandaise, and an unplanned low-key New Year's Eve (ninjabread, pickup ultimate Frisbee, and late-night jam session), we were ready to start 2012 with appropriated ethnic traditions and, of course, vegetables.

Thought to bring prosperity ("since they swell when cooked"), black-eyed peas are traditional food for New Year's Day. Eating black-eyed peas for luck on the Jewish new year has been noted since around 500 AD; Southerners appropriated the tradition (adding pork) around the Civil War. Anna cooked our peas in fine Southern fashion, making hoppin' John with bacon, onion, garlic, tomatoes, and farm share collard greens (which are "the color of money").

It's not the Chinese new year yet, but as an additional New Year's Day course, we had long Chinese noodles (for longevity, especially if you manage not to break them) stir-fried with onion, garlic, ginger, tofu, and farm share bok choy.

Wishing you wealth, long life, and lots of vegetables in 2012!