Monday, December 6, 2010

Ham, black-eyed pea and collard green soup

Well, the farm has suffered a bit of a setback; someone bought the land we were getting serious about before we could. This is only a temporary problem, as there is always more land out there becoming available, but man - it sucks. Yet, we shall press forward. Pure Land Organic cannot be stopped! Obstacles only invigorate our spirit! Yeah!!

In the meantime, have some soup.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cajun salmon soft tacos with tomato-avocado salsa

This is one of our old favorites, perfect for when you don't want to cave in to crappy take-out, but just don't have the time or patience to spend more than a couple minutes cooking. It's so simple, it feels silly to write a recipe. So, I won't - I will just tell you what to do. Get a couple of salmon fillets and season them liberally with Cajun seasoning (we like Tony Chachere's the best).

Dice up a tomato, an avocado, a serrano chili (or whatever kind of hot pepper you like), and a little red onion. Combine in a bowl, season lightly with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, and squeeze in the juice of one lime. Mix thoroughly. I like to do this immediately upon getting home, then I cover with plastic wrap and let all the ingredients get acquainted in the fridge until dinnertime.

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a non-stick skillet and cook your salmon, flaking it apart with the spatula as it cooks. This will take like 5 minutes, start to finish. Once it's just cooked through, transfer to a serving dish. In the microwave, warm up some tortillas of your choice (I like La Tortillas) wrapped in a kitchen towel for 30 seconds. Flap out a nice little tortilla on your plate, top with steaming salmon, and adorn lovingly with tomato-avocado salsa. 

Serves as many as you like, just scale up. Takes minutes.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Beef broccoli over jasmine rice

This may be surprising, but I don't often attempt to cook Asian cuisine. [Correction - I don't often attempt to cook Asian recipes that are *supposed* to taste a distinctive way. I do actually cook with Asian flavors all the time. Resume post!] I just feel like it's always missing something, I can never get it quite right - kind of like how I'll ask my mom for the recipe to make a Trini dish, and she'll describe it and I'll write it down explicitly, but mine never turns out as good as hers. Then one day I'll watch her make it she'll add in all kinds of other stuff and say, "Oh, didn't I mention that? Yes, you must add some of that. Well, I don't always add that, but today, I am."  And it always turns out better than mine. Job security, Mom.

Anyway, I've got Thai green curry and a simple little shrimp and cashew stir fry down pat, so it's time to branch out. Beef broccoli, y'all. The American Chinese-take-out staple. And really, it was quite easy and turned out pretty good. A little ginger-heavy, even for ginger people like us, so be careful - the ginger and garlic cook only very briefly so retain most of their pungency. Use a light hand.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Yogurt-marinated chicken kebabs with wilted mustard greens and macaroni pie

Cool-weather greens season is upon us. My kale is still itty-bitty, but the mustard greens I planted a few weeks earlier are absolutely kicking ass. I used to just saute my mustard greens like Swiss chard, but pre-boiling them before the saute is definitely my new technique. There was no bitterness whatsoever. Like my Dad said, you could certainly add more butter or bacon to make them really good, but then you're kind of getting away from the point of eating them in the first place.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pork chops with tomato-peach compote, rice pilaf and spicy sauteed green beans

This is one of those simple late summer recipes I just live for. It was made all the more magical with local late-season tomatoes and glorious Texas peaches. Oh, Texas peaches. Texas does peaches right. Sad that I'm talking about this in October, right? It's gonna be a long winter.

The original recipe (from Gourmet) calls for pork tenderloin, and I have made it that way in the past and certainly would again for a crowd. Cooking for two, though, it's easier to just grab a couple of chops.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sausage and broccoli pasta

A quickie. Unfortunately, all I really have time for these days.

This is one of my favorite go-to weeknight recipes. All you really need is a pantry staple (pasta), a freezer staple (frozen chicken or turkey sausage), a crisper staple (broccoli - although I've used everything from asparagus to chard), and a cheese staple (good ole Parmesan).

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lime shrimp over coconut rice with roasted acorn squash in chile vinaigrette

The title makes this sound much more complicated than it is. In reality it's a quick, simple, crazy tasty weeknight meal.

Rice cooked in coconut milk becomes rich and creamy, like risotto without the work. Topped with a ladle full of limey buttery garlicky shrimp, it is heavenly.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Lamb, apricot and almond tagine over cilantro couscous with honeyed carrots

I love a good tagine. This is a classic version - sweet apricots, spicy cinnamon, and savory meat. Texturally it's very interesting too, with the contrast between the crunchy slivered almonds and soft braised lamb, all heaped over fluffy, grainy couscous. I just love it.

I've only been experimenting with Moroccan cuisine for a couple of years. At my bridal shower, my sister's best friend gave me a stunningly gorgeous cookbook called "Fresh Moroccan", by Nada Saleh. As soon as I cracked it open, it was all over.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Steaks with Swiss chard and sun-dried tomato mac and cheese

The other day, Allan jokingly suggested we call ourselves "Pure Land Organic Swiss Chard and Mint", since those are the only two crops that really flourished in the garden. Honestly, I'd be happy with a Swiss chard farm. The stuff is magical. But alas, the final Swiss chard harvest of the summer is upon us.

My plants produced huge gorgeous leaves for about three whole months. I think I'm going to plant some freshies to see if they'll grow for fall. My mustard greens are shaping up nicely in the mean time. And kale, I need to plant some kale! Big weekend of planting coming up in the garden.

I love the sweet, concentrated tomatoey-ness of sun-dried tomatoes. The other week I made some simple oven-dried tomatoes for eating with various cheeses on baguette toasts - just quartered baby plum tomatoes, sea salt, and olive oil. I will definitely make them again, but jarred ones work just fine here, since they're getting pureed to smithereens.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Grilled sausage and fig salads with roasted baby purple potatoes

So, I made sausage the other day.

My Grandpa was a butcher, so if there's a sausage-making gene somewhere, I figure my chances of inheriting it are at least 1 in 4. These odds were good enough for me to spend a glorious summer Saturday rinsing hog guts and grinding fatback (if you don't know what that is, you don't want to) in my little kitchen. I settled on making half traditional Cajun andouille and half hot Italian.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Whole-wheat cherry scones

I don't have a whole lot of experience with baking. I live in one of those households where if I bake it, I'll probably be the only one eating it, and the easiest way to not eat a whole pan of brownies is to not make it in the first place.

However, I do like whipping up a batch of baked goods on Sunday for easy workday breakfasts. The easiest trick to pull out is my favorite muffin recipe, but even though I've experimented with dozens of different ingredients, sometimes you just get sick of muffins.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Tilapia with black olive and mint tapenade over farfalle

On our way to Vegas the other month, I popped into the news stand at DFW to pick up my usual airplane entertainment: Food and Wine, Bon Appetit, Saveur, Gourmet (no more, sob!), Cooking Light, basically every cooking magazine available. For some reason, pickings were really slim - just a Food and Wine and something called The Best of Fine Cooking: Grilling. I thought, I like grilling, so even though I don't know you, New Food Magazine Friend, I shall invite you to Vegas with me. It wasn't until the cashier was ringing me up that we noticed it was $9.99. "Wow, expensive magazine," she said. No shit, madam.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Caldo verde

You may wonder why I'm posting a soup recipe in July during a heat-wave. Well, if your workplace is anything like mine, it's friggin' freezing within the building year round, so soups and stews are perfectly consumable for lunch.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Apricot-glazed pork loin with cilantro and garlic with rice pilaf and green salads

I first tried this recipe about a month ago when we had a couple of friends round for dinner. There were five of us, and my little pork loins came in packs of two. One package wouldn't be enough, but two seemed like overkill at almost a whole loin per person. But I figured, whatever, we'll just have plenty of leftovers. Yeah... we didn't.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Chile-rubbed shrimp with avocado, corn, and black bean salsa

Summer: one of my three favorite food seasons. Central Market has sweet corn four ears for a dollar, avocados are only 69 cents apiece and I've got cherry tomatoes a-plenty from my garden. Unfortunately that's about the only garden success I can speak to at the moment, but that's beside the point.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tilapia over mashed potatoes in stewed tomato, olive, and artichoke broth

Big news, y'all: As of yesterday, Pure Land Organic has officially filed with the Secretary of State of Texas as a real live actual company. We have officers and lawyers and stuff! Woooooo!! And we've got a team of people working on finding our land, getting a website together, etc... Don't you just love it when a plan comes together?

Anyway, back to food. Still gotta eat.

An organized and well-stocked pantry is essential for last minute meals. This one is created almost entirely from the pantry - canned artichoke hearts, stewed tomatoes, and jarred kalamata olives.

Add a little onion, garlic, a potato, and some fish, and you've got dinner. Even better, it makes double the broth required for serving for two people, so I freeze the other half for an even quicker repeat performance one day.

I'm a white wine fiend. Actually, I'm a bubbly white wine fiend (Cava from Spain and Prosecco from Italy are my favorite wines), but I do appreciate a nice flat white and the occasional dry rose. During the year my parents spent in New Zealand they discovered Sauvingon Blancs from the Marlborough region, which are a serious punch in the face compared to the wimpy whites of California. Like all the chefs say, I cook with what I drink. This is either because I only drink delicious wine and am too lazy to seek out a "cooking" variety to keep on hand, or because I find crappy wine pretty tasty. At any rate, it works for me. [I also put ice in it. Shun me.]

Friday, May 21, 2010

New potato, Swiss chard, fresh green pea and cherry tomato frittata

One of my favorite weeknight meals is a frittata. I don't think there's an easier, healthier, more delicious dinner out there. The formula is simple: eggs, cheese, a starchy vegetable, and then whatever other vegetables you've got languishing in the fridge. Or, better yet, in the garden.

Our bounty is upon us. Well, a mini-bounty, anyway. Over the last week our giant potato plants began to weaken and droop, indicating they were ripe for the pickin'. So pick them we did - how cute are those little baby new potatoes! Allan ate them raw right from the dirt, after shaking the roly-polys off. He's hardcore. The Swiss chard is incredible, I picked them way back to make a lasagna last weekend (that was awesome) and they are back to full again. Also, our little English peas are finally ready for some eating.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Hot smoked salmon with accoutrements, goat cheeses and toasted baguette

Please excuse the brief hiatus. My quiet life of mealplanning and forging the frontiers of science was briefly interrupted to attend to my Pop's heart, which it turns out is pretty darn tough. Speaking of things I love more than all the stars in the sky:

Hurray, a celebratory excuse to use my new stovetop smoker! And when I think of smoking something (food, people, food), I think of salmon. To be fair, I also did a trout fillet, which turned out great too but was not nearly as gorgeous to photograph.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Grilled shrimp, zucchini, and leeks over Israeli couscous

Mmm. Feta. Salty, crumbly yet creamy, distinctively tangy, I love a good feta. This particular variety is a sheep's milk feta called "Valbreso". It was good but not great, perhaps because it's subtle for me - I like to be punched in the face by my cheese. I'll try another variety next time.

This is Allan's Favorite Meal. And I agree, it's very very good, simple, and healthy. It's a glorified pasta salad, really. I use my grill pan, but you could certainly use your grill or just a heavy skillet. The recipe calls for fresh herbs, but I've made this many times using dried and it turns out just fine so don't run out and buy fresh oregano and thyme at $1.99 a pop (and have no idea what to do with the other 90% of the package). Do go plant some in your garden, though.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Stew chicken and pigeon peas over brown rice with green salads

Stew chicken is, I believe, my death row meal. Lobster? I mean, it's good, but I don't yearn for it... Steak? I can take or leave it, honestly. Stew chicken, particularly if made by a Trini like my Mom? Hell. Yes. This is just my very easy version, no hard-to-find island ingredients like "green seasoning". Speaking of hard to find ingredients, these are pigeon peas.

And they are awesome. Uniquely soft and creamy and savory. You can often find them in the Hispanic section of your grocery store, but I've made this with regular old black beans in a pinch when I couldn't find them. I'll definitely try it with my own fresh blackeyed peas, too, although I suspect I'll always like the pigeon peas best.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Herbed salmon with tomato and swiss chard spaghetti

Friends, it's that time. The garden is maturing at approximately the speed of light and Swiss chard season is in full effect (see also: lettuce). So yes, the beauties in this meal were birthed right here in my garden. I didn't even know Swiss chard existed until a couple of years ago when I received some in my farm share and stumbled upon this Giada De Laurentiis recipe. It's got olives! And pine nuts! It's perfect!!

The salmon is very simple, just lightly herbed with fresh dill from the garden. Chervil would be good, marjoram, parsley, whatever you have. Even just lemon. Mmm. Or orange. Mmm.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Braised lamb shanks with spring gremolata and roasted spring vegetables

 My darling husband went and had himself a birthday this week. Hooray! An excuse to make something unnecessarily over-the-top! And when I think of cooking for a special occasion, the first thing my li'l brain wants is lamb.

Fortunately, my husband's li'l brain wants lamb too. Can you even believe these? Two shanks were 2.83 pounds. I had to take a shot of them in my 7 1/4 quart Dutch oven for scale, below. At my Pavillions in California (just a regular grocery store), they used to sell two perfect little lamb shanks shrink wrapped and ready to go with the rest of the lamb in the meat case, but I haven't been able to find those here (although my butcher said they do have them sometimes). Get those if you can, these were definitely too big.