Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Black bean patties with pineapple guacamole


Last year, my husband picked up a wonderful (autographed!) cookbook called Clean Food, by Terry Walters. The recipes are sorted by season, with emphasis on eating what is grown closest to home and sustainable as possible. It's a lovely book. Despite the lack of pictures, when you read the recipes you can imagine exactly how they will look and taste, which I love in a cookbook. I hadn't even noticed until recently that it's also vegan. That's a damn good cookbook!

Being good Southerners, we are big fans of shaping things into patties and pan frying them. Beans are great for this. I made the insanely delicious black-eyed pea cakes from Martha Foose's beautiful cookbook Screen Doors and Sweet Tea the other night, but didn't photograph it. They were a huge hit with us. Buy that book and make them before fresh black-eyed peas disappear. Anyway, these are the same concept, different flavors.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Salted tomatoes on toast

My current favorite recipe, one I've been enjoying at some point almost every day for the last month. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Embrace the best tomatoes of the year while the season lasts.

slice whole grain bread, toasted
smear of real mayonnaise
large glorious tomato from your garden or the farmer's market, sliced thickly
generous sprinkling of kosher salt

Toast up toast. Smear on mayo. Adorn with tomato. Sprinkle with salt. Stuff in face. Repeat at will.

When you're full, come "like" us on Facebook and take a first look at the farm in its infancy. We bought a tractor! Whee!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Swedish meatballs and mushroom stroganoff

I am fortunate enough to already have a couple of great recipes for turkey meatballs; one with a few scoops of pesto mixed into the meat and then simmered in marinara, and another more simple meatball served with a lovely tart cranberry sauce, a little riff on Thanksgiving dinner (minus the following week of dry leftovers). Despite the existence of these known winners, I had a hankering for spiced Swedish meatballs. I wanted a more robust sauce than the typical Swedish meatball condiment, so I read a few recipes and Frankensteined them all into this, using half a pound of raw ground turkey leftover from making my husband a taco pizza the other night. Yes, you read that right. No, I don't want to talk about it.

A big concern when cooking with ground turkey is because it's so very lean, it can easily dry out. Not so with these guys. These suckers are moist. I think the trick is soaking your bread crumbs in milk before mixing them into the meat. As Mr. Batali would say, I'm talking "big boy bread crumbs", as in made from actual bread, not the sawdust from the little blue cardboard can. "You're such a food snob! Like I have fresh bakery bread just LAYING AROUND everyday! GAWD," you say. Not so, friends. I just freeze that shit. Whenever you've got half a baguette or hunk of sourdough that you know you're not going to eat (shame on you), tear it into hunks, pop into a Ziploc and freeze. Then you can just take out as much as you need, give it a rough chop (very easily to do when frozen) and broil for a minute to toast up and bring back to life. Vwa-lah, lovely fresh bread crumbs whenever you need them. I don't want to know what people did before Ziploc bags. Those were uncivilized times.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Strawberry ice cream

I have to say, strawberry is my favorite ice cream flavor. I had always figured myself forever a chocolate girl, but hey, things change. I still make no time for vanilla (please). However, in Tobago (where my mother is from) they have the most divine ice cream flavor ever, Guinness. Yes, that Guinness. Beer ice cream. My brother and I have been working on copycatting the recipe for several years, and I can proudly say we're almost there. The coconut ice cream in Tobago is also to die for, but I am much farther away from figuring out the recipe. Mom says I actually need to shred fresh coconut meat and squeeze it through some cheesecloth to get all the cream out, and use that instead of canned coconut milk. Oh, mom. She so crazy. But seriously, I probably would go through all that if it tasted like it does down there. Anyway, this ice cream is wonderful. The fresh strawberry taste just punches you in the face when it hits your tongue, then the creaminess and understated sweetness linger.  

This is pretty foolproof, so you only have yourself to blame if you blow it. Enjoy!

2 cups sweet gorgeous fresh strawberries, roughly chopped
1 cup heavy cream
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of kosher salt
1/2 cup milk, I generally use 2%
1 tsp vanilla

In a heavy saucepan, begin to warm the cream over medium heat, stirring often. You don't want it to come to a boil, you just want to get it hot. While that's happening, whisk together your eggs, sugar, and pinch of kosher salt in a small bowl. When the cream is hot, temper the egg mixture by adding a tablespoon or two of the hot cream into the bowl and whisking. Repeat a couple of times to raise the temperature of the eggs, then pour them into the pot with the cream and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Keep the temperature on the low side or it may curdle. Pour into a fresh non-reactive bowl and stir in the strawberries, milk, and vanilla. Now, there are varying schools of thought regarding chunks in ice cream. I fall into the big-chunks-are-the-devil camp. So I stuck my immersion blender into the bowl and gave it a few pulses to break the strawberries up fairly finely, without making it totally smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The next day, freeze according to your ice cream maker's directions (I love my the ice cream maker bowl for my KitchenAid mixer - thanks Auntie Jan!!), transfer to an air-tight container and freeze for a few hours before serving. Soooo good.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bass in artichoke and tomato broth over mashed butternutty potatoes


I love, love this recipe from an old issue of Gourmet. The combination of flavors is not unexpected, but rather simple and classic: tomatoes, artichokes, wine, garlic, olives. Yet it still comes together as much more than the sum of its parts. It's crazy easy and delicious, another excellent recipe staple for the weeknight repertoire. Sure, it might seem a little winter-y, being basically a stew, but it's actually quite light.

This is best served atop soft mashed potatoes to sop up all the sauce and avoid challenging the delicate texture of the fish. If I have any butternut squash laying around such as today, I like to use half squash to make it a little more nutritious and interesting (and fabulously colored). I've used all kinds of white fish and can confirm that anything firm and relatively mild will do nicely.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Linguine sugo di olive verdi

So, I have like 900 salted anchovies in my fridge. I need to start using these suckers. The other night during my routine bedtime viewing of Molto Mario reruns, Mr. Batali whipped this up. And it had my name aaaaaaall over it.

If you are an extreme olive-phile such as myself, this will tickle you in all the right places. The anchovy lends a richness, a roundness of flavor that you wouldn't experience if you used olives alone. Without the anchovy, it would be pretty flat, one-dimensional. Like the spaghetti with anchovy carbonara I made the other month, the addition of one little salt-cured anchovy elevates something quite ordinary to complex, interesting, delicious places. Also, don't skip the bread crumbs. I've seen Mario Batali sprinkle them over dozens of fairly austere pasta dishes and always thought, what the hell? Now I get it. The texture makes this a lot of fun to eat, but they're also like concentrated little bombs of the olive oil you cook them in, too. The result is just really delicious and interesting.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Asian-inspired grilled chicken thighs with asparagus and jasmine rice


I've been working on a soy-based chicken marinade for a long time, and I think I've finally got it. The much sought-after balance of salty, sweet, spicy, and savory. When allowed to marinate for a day or two and then grilled, the result is intensely flavorful moist dark meat on the inside with a crispy charred exterior. Glorious!

If it's five billion degrees where you are, you can certainly prepare these on a grill pan or under the broiler. The cast-iron Le Creuset grill pan actually does a pretty decent job because it gets so nice and hot, but it's incredibly difficult to clean (I can't figure out how to get the damn thing to season). If you go the broiler route, watch closely for burning as there are some sugars in the marinade. Anyway, because I am stupid, I insist on grilling these outside on the actual grill even when it is 108 degrees. I just don't think you just can truly recreate the char in any other way. There are plenty of dishes where I don't think it matters (shrimp, for example, I almost always cook inside regardless of the recipe directions because I don't really notice a difference - and who wants to bother with the grill for 1 minute of cooking per side?) but in this case, if you can stand it, use the grill.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Mustard and dill-glazed salmon with cauliflower and green olive pasta

Apologies for the lack of posts, we had wonderful back-to-back weddings of good friends the past two weekends. We're finally home, settled, and tractor shopping so we can get this farm show on the road. Squee!

A quick post to get things moving again. Tonight I made my awesomely delicious cauliflower and green olive pasta with a really quick mustard and dill glazed salmon. The magic of the whole dish is a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice atop each serving. It's a dish I make frequently that always leaves us happy.