Tuesday, June 19, 2007

CSA Cooking, Part 1

My first CSA pickup this week contained
butter lettuce
red oak leaf lettuce
and a tiny plant of lemon basil
I've washed and checked many of these vegetables and placed them in the crisper in ziplocs for safekeeping- and I'm plotting how best to cook/eat these delightful gems.
Tonite, I've made a butter-lettuce and radish salad with a bit of lime, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Now I know why butter lettuce is called butter lettuce- it is, well, buttery-textured/tasting.
So much excited about all the delicious veggytubbles!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Grain, a Bean, and a Vegetable

This is the first (second if you count my soba/kabocha/tofu bowl) in a series of posts on the way I like to construct a veggie dinner or lunch, especially for lunchboxing- one grain, preferably of the whole variety, one bean or bean product, and one vegetable. However, the bean product might, on occasion, be replaced by an alternative protein, like tempeh or seitan, or maybe even fish or eggs- I am omnivorous, with veggie tendencies).
This one is bulgur wheat pilaf with a quick black bean and spinach stew. If this topic is successful, I'm thinking of turning it into a blog event. Any thoughts?

Bulgur Wheat Pilaf
Saute one small onion in a bit of olive oil until translucent. Add 1 cup bulgur wheat, stir to combine with onions and allow to toast slightly. Add 2 cups hot water or broth and a bay leaf. Bring to a boil, cover, lower to a simmer and let it steam about 25 mins or until all the water is absorbed.

Quick Spinach/Black Bean Stew
Open a can of black beans (or cook them yourself.) Place in a small saucepan with 1/2 a can of water and a few handfuls of spinach (frozen or fresh, chopped), a few pinches of thyme, a few grinds of pepper, and a bit of cumin. No salt needed. Bring to a boil to cook the spinach a bit. Serve on the bulgur, top with yogurt or a bit of olive oil if desired, and more pepper.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A Simple Fennel Salad

I like fennel. It is cool, crunchy, and refreshing, and makes a delightful salad. The lightly licorice flavor intensifies and warms somewhat when roasted, and attenuates when boiled or steamed. It is, however, also delicious sliced up plain and raw, and eaten like celery sticks. Now, some might say this salad is Morrocan in origin, and I have certainly enjoyed it at the tables of Morrocan cooks, but I think this recipe is more of my standard method for dealing with any vegetable that is good eaten raw- slice thinly, toss with lemon or lime juice, a pinch of salt, a grind of pepper, and a bit of garlic (processed as you choose). Now, I know I missed the deadline for weekend herb blogging, but had I made it, this would be it.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Lentils with Olive Oil and Salt are as Good as Mashed Potatoes

Really, they are. Take the plainest, brownest lentils from the supermarket- none of your fancy French Le Puy or your black baby beluga lentils- and cook them until soft in plain water with a bay leaf. Drain them and add some salt and dish them up with a sprinkle of pepper and a dribble of good olive oil. It's the same comforting homeyness of texture and simple earthiness of taste that I crave when I want mashed potatoes- these are oddly satisfying.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Tamarind and Allspice Meatballs

Tamarind (or Tamarindo, or Temerhendy, or Ourt, or Oooh) is one of these funny ingredients that crosses ethnicities in New York City- the bodegas, the halal shops, and the kosher markets alike carry it in some form. And for delicious reason- the fuzzy brown pods of the tamarind tree conceal a delicious paste-like fruit that when peeled, seeded, and boiled down creates an instantly sweet-and-sour complexity.

Tamarind has many fruity and earthy notes beyond just sweet and sour; it is essential to many Syrian Jewish dishes and, when combined with chili and salt, makes an unusual candy I have seen in multiple Spanish-speaking communities in New York and Los Angeles. Its combination of sweet, sour, hot, and salty is well worth seeking out.

As a riff on typical sweet and sour meatballs (which one of my former roommates used to make with cranberry sauce and grape jelly) I am making a Syrian-inspired meatball recipe with a tamarind/allspice sauce. I defrosted a pound of ground turkey and added 3 eggs, a few handfuls of oatmeal, parsley, pepper, ground cinnamon, and ground allspice.

In my large saucier, I combined a 16oz can of tomato sauce with a few healthy globs of tamarind paste and about 2 cups of water and started it boiling. The sauce needed more balance so I added the juice of a small lime and some splenda (peccavimus!) and a few allspice berries and a splash of red wine. I formed the meat into largish balls and placed them in the simmering sauce. I will probably add more tamarind paste later when I reheat them.

This post is for Weekend Herb Blogging. Check out the rest at Kuchenlatein!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Point Reyes Blue Cheese- Now Kosher!

Josh and I made a late night stop to the Cheese Man at Fairway who, to his surprise and ours, discovered the recent kosher certification (KORC, The San Francisco Orthodox Rabbinate) of POINT REYES BLUE CHEESE!!!!!! Now, ever since having heard of this magical cheese from Foodgoat and Ladygoat (a hearty mazal tov to them on their recent wedding!) I have been lamenting its non-kosher status. But I weep no more, for all my cheese-related lament has turned to gladness and my tyrosination-bereft darkness to blue, creamy, tangy delight with the advent of this wondrous cheese!
Expect more cooking and talking about this cheese first, assuming we don't just eat the whole wheel straight or on wasa crackers.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Polenta Lasagna with Mushrooms, Spinach, and Leeks

I'm making a big veggie-centric Shabbat lunch- Soupe Au Pistou, Butternut Squash, Salad Nicoise, and this spontaneous creation- Polenta Lasagna. It is (incidentally) gluten-free and CORE-friendly (for those of you on weight watchers). I sliced up a log of polenta very thinly and sliced ordinary button mushrooms and the white parts of a leek and sauteed them together in a bit of olive oil, then mixed up some ricotta (1 16oz tub) and eggs (2 large ) for a binder. I laid down a layer of polenta slices, then spooned over some ricotta mixture and about half of the mushroom-leeks. Then more polenta slices, more ricotta, and the other half of the mushrooms, plus about 3/4 of a cup of wilted spinach. I topped the lasagna with the remaining polenta slices and a scant dusting of parmesan cheese and baked it at 350 until the top layer looked crispy and the ricotta/egg was cooked through, because I like to avoid food-poisoning my guests.
This is my first post for weekend herb blogging, check out the rest at Kalyn's Kitchen.