Friday, October 29, 2010

CSA Week Twenty-One

Hello!  Here is what I got from my CSA this week:
-Sweet potatoes
-Red and icicle radishes
-Swiss chard
-Baby bok choy
-Cherry tomatoes
-Hot peppers

If you are looking for something to do with swiss chard, try these tacos.

Click here to read about my visit to Fairmount Bagels, one of Montreal's most popular bagel shops.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Baked Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes and Basil

My apologies for not posting this spaghetti squash with tomatoes and basil recipe as soon as I had hoped, but alas here is the recipe as promised.  I am not the biggest fan of spaghetti squash, I think it is kind of weird, and kind of insipid.  It seems like you have to add a lot of other flavors for the squash to actually taste like something.  It does have a pretty amazing texture though, which is why it is called spaghetti squash - duh.  In the original recipe from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook, the squash is stuffed with the tomatoes and basil mixture and baked in oven.  I had half a stuffed squash for my meal, and although it was delicious, it honestly should be a side dish.  So I have edited the recipe to be baked in a casserole dish instead of the squash shell and tweaked it just a bit.  The photos are from my first attempt, so just imagine the squash filling in a casserole dish instead of a shell.

Ingredients for Baked Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes and Basil, adapted from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook, serves 4:

-1 large spaghetti squash, or 2 medium
-16 fresh plum tomatoes, or whole tomatoes from a can (I used a combo - some from my CSA, some from a can)
-2 cloves garlic, peeled
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-4 ounces basil, plus sprigs for garnish
-1 teaspoon kosher salt
-1/4 freshly ground pepper
-1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Place spaghetti squash in a stockpot and cover with 2 inches of water.  Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cook for another 20 to 30 minutes, until slightly tender when you press it with your finger.

Cut in half crosswise, and stand the halves on ends, and set aside to let cool for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Meanwhile chop 12 tomatoes into 1/2 inch pieces and place in large bowl with 1/4 cup of the grated Parmesan.  Slice the remaining 4 into 1/4-inch thick rounds and set aside.

Place garlic, olive oil, basil leaves, salt, and pepper into a food processor.  Process until the basil has been very finely chopped.  Place basil mixture in the bowl with the tomatoes.
After the squash has cooled, scooped out the seeds and discard.  Then take a fork and scrape the flesh, it will separate like spaghetti strands (whoa - so cool).  Add squash to the tomato-basil mixture and toss to combine.
Place squash mixture into a small casserole dish and spread evenly.  Place sliced tomatoes on top and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan.
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the cheese is golden and the squash is hot.  Garnish with basil sprigs and serve hot.

Last year, around this time I took a trip to Montreal.  Click here to check out my food adventures.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

CSA Week Twenty

Hi!  Here is what I got this week from my CSA:

-Green beans
-Collard greens
-Spaghetti squash
-Sweet potatoes

Since I have parsley and green beans I might make green beans with gremolata, and last weekend my friend made this sweet and spicy lentil soup with sweet potatoes and collards.
Stay tuned later today for a surprisingly tasty spaghetti squash recipe with tomatoes and basil :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Best Thing I Had In My Mouth - Dairy Queen Pecan Mudslide

A couple weeks ago, I flew to Iowa to visit my parents and surprise my grandma for her birthday.  Of course, I had to hit my most favorite fast food spots.  Sorry to make the fast-food stereotype stick in the Midwest, but even a snoot like me still enjoys some zesty curly fries from Arby's, hush puppies from Long John Silvers, and of course ice cream from Dairy Queen.

There are no Dairy Queens in Manhattan, so it is truly a special treat when I can go.  I walked in and asked for a Tropical Blizzard, and to my dismay the high school girls looked puzzled.  Ummm in case you didn't know, it's vanilla ice cream blended with shredded coconut, pecans, banana, and pineapple.  What is even more puzzling is that it is the Blizzard's 25th birthday.  Hello - shouldn't we be celebrating DQ's Blizzard diversity?  Bring back the Tropical Blizzard (by the way it is Tom Brokaw's favorite too)!  So I then requested a grape StarKiss, and they were out.  DEVASTATING.  I finally order a Pecan Mudslide.  Although, it wasn't the first two things I requested, it was still the best thing I had in my mouth all weekend.

This time last year, I made Flourless Double Chocolate Pecan Cookies.  Click here for the recipe.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Green Beans with Lemon, Garlic, and Parmigiano Gremolata

Sometimes I can get stuck trying to combine all my vegetables to make one main dish, but recently realized there is nothing wrong with just letting each vegetable shine on its own.  A few weeks back, I roasted a buttercup squash and beets, while my friend made some baked eggs with tomato, goat cheese, and dill.  But the best part of the meal had to be the green beans with gremolata (a traditional Italian condiment, of lemon, parsley, and garlic) from Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift's cookbook The Splendid Table's How To Eat Supper.  Super soft green beans, seasoned with fresh lemon, parsley and nutty Parmigiano, you really cannot go wrong.  So I thought this would be the perfect recipe to share, since I got green beans again from my CSA this week.

Ingredients for Green Beans with Lemon, Garlic, and Parmigiano Gremolata from The Splendid Table's How To Eat Supper, serves 4:
-Olive oil
-1 1/2 pounds green beans, stem end trimmed
-1/2 cup water
-Shredded zest of 1 large lemon
-1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, tightly packed
-3 large garlic cloves
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper
-1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, fresh-grated

Lightly film the bottom of a straight-sided 12-inch saute pan with the oil.  Heat it over medium-high heat.  Add the beans and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper.  Saute for 2 minutes, then add the water and immediately cover the pan, and turn the heat to medium low. Cook the beans for 15 to 20 minutes, checking them often for burning and adding a little water if necessary.  You want the beans to become very tender.

While the beans are covered and cooking, make the gremolata.  In a food processor, mince together the lemon zest, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Stir half of the mixture into the cooking beans.  Blend the rest of the gremolata into the grated cheese and set aside.

When the beans are tender, uncover them, cook off any liquid in the pan, and turn them into a serving bowl.  Toss the beans with the reserved cheese-gremolata mixture.


Monday, October 18, 2010

CSA Week Nineteen

I got so much food last week, that I had to cab it home.  Pounds after pounds of tomatoes, potatoes, and greens.  Here is what I got:
-Baby bok choy
-Green beans
-Seckel pears
-Bosc pears
-Dozen eggs

Last year around this time I made Pear-Caramel Ice Cream.  Click here to check it out.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Best Thing I Had In My Mouth - Peppernuts

A little over a week ago, my friend received two pounds of peppernuts from his mom.  These were made by the First Mennonite Church of Hillsboro, Kansas, and boy do they really know how to make them.  If you have never had a peppernut, I truly feel sorry for you.  These tiny, crunchy, sweet and spicy little cookies are addictive.  
Photo taken from The First Mennonite Church, Hillsboro, Kansas.
Peppernuts are a Mennonite tradition, especially around Christmas time.  Peppernuts Plain and Fancy states that "original peppernut recipes probably were copied from the Germans, Dutch and West Prussians when Mennonite families moved about Europe in search of religious freedoms," then the recipes were brought from the Ukraine in 1874 and have been used ever since during the holidays.  Here is a great description of peppernuts from the very front of the book:

Peppernuts may taste like cookies, but they are smaller - much smaller - about the size of a haxlenut or dime. Ladies use to take pried in how small they could make them. Grandmother's rivaled the size of large peas. Others painstakingly cut their in perfect little circles.

They were definitely the best thing I have had in my mouth this week.  And yes, I finished a whole pound of them, so what :)

For a few pictures of me making them a couple years ago - click here.

Monday, October 11, 2010

CSA Week Seventeen & Eighteen

I have had a couple busy weeks filled with visitors and traveling, so I have been a bit lax on posting.  Here is the produce I got from my CSA:

Week Seventeen
-Heirloom tomatoes
-Cherry tomatoes
-Hot peppers
-Mesclun greens
-Green beans
-Seckle pears
-Dozen eggs

Week Eighteen
-Grape tomatoes
-Bok choy
-Hot peppers
-Green beans
-Collard greens
-Seckle pears
-Dozen eggs

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Plum Crisp

I have received plenty of ripe plums from my CSA these last couple weeks, and I am planning to get some more tomorrow.  Besides just plain eating them,  I have made a couple of plum crisps.  For my first crisp, I was fairly disappointed in the crispness of the crisp.  But after reading this great post from The Bitten Word on mix-and-match crumbles, I finally got a pretty good combination.  This crisp is easy and you can bake it in ramekins or a casserole dish.

Ingredients for Cinnamon Plum Crisp, adapted from The Bitten Word's advice, makes 8 ramekins:
-3/4 cups almond slivers
-1/2 cup rolled oats, not instant
-1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
-Pinch of salt
-7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into small cubes, plus more for buttering dishes/dish
-3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus 2 tablespoons for plum mixture
-2 pounds plums. pits removed, and cut into 1-inch pieces
-1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
-1/3 cup granulated sugar, up to a 1/2 cup more if your plums are tart

To begin, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Butter ramekins or casserole dish.  
Whisk together flour, brown sugar, oats, and salt in a medium bowl.  Add almonds and the butter.  Use your hands to work in the butter until every thing is evenly moistened, and set aside.

Remove plum pits and cut plums into 1-inch pieces.  Toss with granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons of flour, and cinnamon.

Fill the ramekins or dish with plum mixture and then squeeze handfuls of crumble on top.  It is important to squeeze the crumble together, because if it is loose, then the crumble sometimes falls into the fruit mixture while baking.  Place ramekins on a lined baking sheet (in case of any overflowing bubbling juices), and bake for about 40 minutes or until the crumble is golden and the juices are bubbling.  Let sit for at least ten minutes before serving.  It is good with a bit of vanilla ice cream or just on its own.  Enjoy!
Click here to read my review on Starbucks VIA from last year.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Best Thing I Had In My Mouth - The Spotted Pig Steamed Mussels & Cockles

A couple weeks ago I was treated to a special dinner at The Spotted Pig.  The Spotted Pig is my favorite restaurant of all time.  I guess it is a bit weird for me to say that, since the restaurant is all about meat, but I love their casual atmosphere, cool-but-not-too-cool staff, and of course their perfectly cooked food.
My friend and I ordered some steamed mussels and cockles.  They were bathed in a spicy tomato broth with a crispy piece of bread hidden at the bottom, soaking up all the spicy brothy goodness.  The bread was so out of this world delicious, that two weeks later I can still imagine the flavor in my mouth.  So as I was researching for this post, double checking exactly what I had at The Spotted Pig, I read on their menu: steamed mussels and cockles and duck fat fried bread.  My jaw dropped, hands over my mouth - duck fat!  Well, even as a vegetarian, this was still the best thing I had in my mouth :)
For my meal, I had the pan roasted striped bass with tomatoes and saffron, and my friend had the popular chargrilled burger with Roquefort cheese and shoestring fries.  I of course, had to get my own mountain of fries, and yes, I pretty much ate them all.  I washed it all down with a cask beer too.  Although, neither of us could barely move, we still managed to waddle over to Magnolia Bakery for some cupcakes.
Besides the cupcakes, Magnolia's most popular items are the banana bread pudding and the double fudge brownie.

My friend's dad made that honey bear - all the way from KS to NY :)