Sunday, June 27, 2010

CSA Week 2 - Strawberry-Apple Brandy Jam, and Sweet and Sour Chicken

CSA Week #2

Strawberry-Apple Brandy Jam and Sweet and Sour Chicken

Uh-oh, it's already Sunday of week #3, and I'm just getting around to posting last week's CSA menu. Help!!

Starting to feel the pressure of eating all my veggies in creative ways. Radishes, scallions, lettuce, strawberries, spinach arrived last week. I also enjoyed one of the last strawberry picking days at JenEhr farm, and added about 6 pounds of berries to my CSA share.

I'm trying an Asian twist--Sweet and Sour chicken, using the scallions and radishes. The strawberries, and some rhubarb from week #1 (the guy at the market called it “rude-barb”) have become jam and another crisp. Still have tons of lettuce, radishes, etc. Thought I might get to spring rolls, but not this week! Too busy repairing the chicken coop, and trying to invent uses for lettuce.

Alright, short and sweet, here it is.

Strawberry-Apple Brandy Jam adapted from Preserve and Dianne's Dishes

6 cups strawberries
4 cups rhubarb
3 cups sugar
2 T calcium water
3 tsp pectin
2 tbsp apple brandy (I used Madison-made Yahara Bay Apple Brandy)
½ tsp salt
1 tsp butter

1. Chop rude-barb into thin slices.
2. Place strawberries and rude-barb into stock pot.
3. Cook until soupy and mushy.
4. Add brandy to taste (I wish I had added more!) along with calcium water, pinch of salt and butter (to prevent foaming).
5. Mix 1 cup sugar with pectin and add to fruit mixture. Stir well.
6.Add remaining sugar and stir. Bring to rolling boil for one minute and remove from heat.
7.Pour jelly into sterilized, warm jars. I use the lid inversion method where you quickly turn jars upside down to seal. Some people use boiling water bath.

This made only 3 pints of jam!
And it is sooooo delicious.

Sweet and Sour Chicken adapted from Cook's Library Wok and Stir-Fry

1 tbsp canola oil
lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into 1-inch pieces.
2-3 scallions, chopped.
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
½ zucchini, sliced
2-3 radishes, thinly sliced
½ cup bean sprouts
½ ripe pineapple, cut into small chunks

1 cup pineapple juice
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp arrowroot powder
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp honey
chili sauce to taste.

1. Heat oil and add chicken. Saute until chicken is almost cooked through, about 10 minutes.
2. Add scallions, bell pepper, zucchini and radishes and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
3. Add bean sprouts and pineapple and cook another 2 minutes.
4. Mix together pineapple juice through honey and add to veggies and chicken, stirring often. Cook for 5 minutes, until juices have thickened.
5. Serve over rice with chili sauce on the side.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Stew for You, Dad.

My dad was a real meat and potatoes guy. He grew up on a hog farm (I would have called it a pig farm, but he grew up in Maryland, where pigs are hogs). He never was able to abandon those roots, though he made some attempts as he encountered health problems in his older age. He even went so far as to try some very strict diet regimes—the no yeast/fungus diet and the no carb diet are two I remember. The bulk of my food memories are of him eating pretzels with his evening beer/s, and consuming more than his share of Breyer's ice cream.

My dad died four years ago today. He had lung cancer, which followed adult-onset diabetes. He loved his comfort food. When he was in hospice care the last four weeks of his life, they let him eat whatever he wanted. And you know what he ate? Chocolate milkshakes. He had fought for his life the last 10 months, eating a very strict diet to try to manage his blood sugar while the cancer ravaged first his lungs, then his spine and finally his brain. He earned those shakes!

I remember the last meal I cooked for him. He came to visit me about 3 months before he passed away, and asked me to make spaghetti w/ meat sauce. He loved my cooking. I'm sure he thought I'd make a great wife and mom someday. Or at least that's what I imagined he thought (he was sort of old fashioned about that stuff). Apparently when my husband-to-be asked my dad for permission to marry me shortly before my dad died, he said “I don't know why you'd want to go and do a thing like that, but if you really want to, go ahead.” Nice, dad.

Anyway, my dad loved comfort food, especially meat. Yesterday, in his honor, and for my husband who married me despite my dad's warning, I made beef stew (in a slow cooker). Simple, hearty, tender beef stew with market-fresh potatoes and carrots, and grass-fed beef. My dad would have loved it, just as my husband and I did.

Simple Slow Cooker Beef Stew


2 lb chuck or tip roast

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb new potatoes, cubed

1 small bunch carrots, tops removed, clean and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 small onion chopped

¼ cup red wine

1/8 cup balsamic vinegar

beef or other stock

fresh herbs (I used parsley, oregano and thyme) and bay leaf

Salt to taste

1 whole dried pasilla pepper

To make:

Turn skillet to medium heat and place 1 tbsp oil in skillet.

Sprinle salt and pepper on roast.

Pean sear roast about 4 minutes each side until brown.

Place veggies in a slow cooker.

Add browned meat.

Cover with enough stock to cover meat. Adds herbs and pepper.

Turn onto low for about 6 hours, or until meat is tender.

Enjoy with fresh, crusty bread.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

CSA Week 1 - Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

1 cup unbleached white flour
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg and allspice
¼ pound unsalted butter
¼ cup pecans

Pulse ingredients together in food processor and set aside.

2-3 large rhubarb stalks, washed and diced
1 pint strawberries, washed and quartered
2-3 tbsp sugar
grand marnier (optional)

Orange Whipping Cream (my addition)
1 pint whipping cream
1 tsp orange zest
2 tbsp powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Whip cream and set aside.

To make crisp:

1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Place rhubarb mixture in bottom of heavy skillet (cast iron)
3. Spread topping over fruit evenly
4. Bake about 40 minutes or until topping is golden brown and fruit is bubbly.
5. Let cool a bit and serve with whipped cream.

CSA Week 1 - Grilled Potato Salad with Chipotle Vinaigrette

Grilled Potato Salad with Chipotle Vinaigrette


2 lbs new potatoes

olive oil

1 red bell pepper

3 garlic scapes

½ red onion

olive oil

1 clove garlic

large bunch of mixed greens (I used mizuna, black seeded simpson and green leaf lettuce), washed and torn into pieces.

1 tbsp cilantro, chopped

To Make:

Preheat oven to 400. Place clean whole potatoes in baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and cover. Bake for 30-40 minutes until tender.

Remove potatoes from oven and cut potatoes in half or quarters.

Remove seeds from bell pepper. Slice red pepper in 1-inch strips

Slice onion into ¼ inch rounds.

Wash scapes.

Brush veggies with olive oil and 1 clove minced or crushed garlic.

Grill over medium heat until veggies are soft, and potatoes are crispy.


Place veggies over salad greens and serve with vinaigrette. Serve immediately.


1 tbsp champagne vinegar

2 tbsp lime juice

½ tsp salt

½ tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp adobo sauce from canned chipotles.

1 garlic clove, minced

5 tbsp olive oil

Whisk ingredients in a bowl and serve over greens and veggies.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

CSA Week 1 - Canneloni with Spinach, Goat Cheese, Walnuts and Roasted Garlic

Canneloni (I made Manicotti) with Spinach, Goat Cheese, Walnuts and Roasted Garlic

She has recipe for tomato garlic sauce in book, but I just used a canned sauce.

Ingredients for filling

olive oil

1 container ricotta

1 egg

2 oz goat cheese

2 oz fresh parmesan, grated

3-4 garlic scapes (original recipe calls for garlic cloves), diced

1 large bunch spinach

1 small red onion

salt and pepper

tomato sauce (homemade or premade)

mozzarella (my addition)

handful of walnuts

fresh herbs such as parsley, thyme, oregano and marjoram


12 manicotti noodles boiled al dente.

To Make:

1.Preheat oven to 375.

2.Heat oil in a skillet and saute onion and garlic scapes. Stir until soft. Remove and set aside.

3.Add a touch more oil to skillet and wilt spinach and a pinch of salt. Drain spinach when done.

4.Mix Ricotta with beaten egg and ½ of parmesan cheese.

5.Add some herbs, onion-garlic mix, goat cheese and spinach to cheese mixture.

6.Place some tomato sauce on bottom of baking pan.

7.Fill noodles with about 4 tbsp cheese-spinach filling and place on top of sauce.

8.Pour remaining sauce over filled noodles and top with mozzarella (optional) and walnuts

9.Bake covered about 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 10-15 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

CSA Week 1- Butter Lettuce Salad with Radicchio, Grapefruit, Avocado, Pecans and Grapefruit Vinaigrette


½ head butter lettuce, washed and torn into pieces

1 small head radicchio washed and separated.

1 ruby red grapefruit, peeled, and sectioned

1 avocado diced

¼ cup pecans toasted

Grapefruit Vinaigrette


2 tbsp grapefruit juice

1 tbsp champagne vinegar

¼ tso salt

1 shallot finely diced

2 ½ tbsp olive oil

1.Toss salad ingredients together, being careful not to mush avocado.

2.Whisk dressing ingredients in a bowl.

3.Toss salad with dressing and serve immediately.

CSA Menu - Week 1

CSA Week 1

I reached in the cloth bag, pulling out a robust head of butter lettuce. The pale green leaves were layered perfectly in a rosette, like a green rose on steroids. Simultaneously the twisting stalks of garlic scapes entwined around my wrist like Medusa's hair, curling every which way, topped with a knotted pale green bud. I quickly subdued the scapes in the fridge drawer, and reached for the next vegetable offering from my weekly CSA share. Turnips and radishes emerged, perfect rounds of red and white, followed by robust stalks of rhubarb, and an assortment of potatoes. My neighbors and I are splitting a CSA order, which always seems like a good idea in the depth of winter, but come the heat of summer, a bag of veggies arriving in one fell swoop can seem a bit more overwhelming than awesome.

That's when I decided that I needed a plan. Each week I am going to create a menu around the veggies that arrive ( I'm sure that is not a novel idea) using a cookbook or other foodies' blogs.

I started with Field of Greens, by Annie Somerville. This book was gifted to me by the same neighbor that is sharing her CSA with us. It seemed appropriate to make the first meal from this book. Where do garlic scapes, potatoes, butter lettuce, spinach and rhubarb lead to in that cookbook?

To this very fine meal.

I am putting each recipe in a separate post, so click below to find recipe.

Butter Lettuce Salad with Radicchio, Grapefruit, Avocado, Pecans and Grapefruit Vinaigrette

Canneloni (I made manicotti) with Spinach, Goat Cheese, Walnuts and Roasted Garlic

Grilled Potato Salad with Chipotle Vinaigrette

Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp with Lemon Whipped Cream

Weekly CSA Menu Challenge

I do like challenges, and here's my latest!

After my second week CSA share arrived and I realized that I still had much of my first bunch of veggies left from the previous week, I knew that I needed a strategy. I decided that I would plan a menu after my CSA pick up each week, trying recipes from various cookbooks that I have lying around, or from other food blogs. I'm hoping this organization will reduce food waste, help me come up with creative meals and enjoy the veggies in new ways. You will find each week's menu under label of CSA Week 1, Week 2 etc.

I hope that readers enjoy the possibilities as I have, and share the ways they use the abundance of yummy food in their CSA each week with me.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Caribbean Spiced Sweet Potatoes with Orange-Ginger Dip

My other life, aside from raising 2 kids (and blogging/cooking), is dancing. I am an African dancer. No, I'm not African, but I teach and perform African dance. When people ask me why I do African dance, I ask them if I looked like I was having fun. In fact, usually my face hurts from smiling while performing. I love it!

I took my first African dance class in high school, and that was that. I hate to admit it (to the many people who supported me in myriad endeavors along the way), but pretty much every decision I made after that had to do with African dance. Should I travel to Brazil? Well, sure, there are lots of African descendants there and a lot of African-rooted dancing. Should I go for my master's degree? Heck yeah, I think you can study things like African dance in grad school. What program? Well, let's see, this interdisciplinary environmental studies program offers lots of possibilities for designing your own program. How about African Dance for Environmental Education? Perfect.

And study I did. I set out on the quest to perfect my technique. I traveled to West Africa four times (and counting) to learn dance. I wanted to be exact, to replicate movement, style and rhythm. To learn the dance traditions inside and out. A standard I have only recently relaxed. You know what I learned? Even in Africa dancers make stuff up. They put together moves that look cool, and play new rhythms that simply sound good. Recently, I admit, I have been playing around with fusion dances. Dances that blend a bit of African, hip-hop, salsa, and whatever else looks and feels good.

Fusing African dance with other styles is not a cop-out or disrespecting tradition, in my opinion, but alternatively taking a depth of knowledge and transforming it.

I've been doing that with food lately, too.

When I traveled I learned to make dishes, and tried to stay as true to the traditional dish as could when I cooked it at home. I even ground spices by hand that I sought out in funky import stores to keep it authentic.

But lately I have been having more fun with the foods I learned to cook abroad. Especially Latin foods. And I'm highly inspired by my friend Lori, the mastermind behind Mango Cafe on Isla Mujeres, Mexico. I think she would like my corn tortillas and chicken with green enchilada sauce? Why not corn masa crepes and tamarind-glazed chicken with some local goat cheese? Instead of traditional empanadas, how about local root veggie puff pastry with cream cheese and tomatillo salsa?

I am also inspired by a recent read, Modern Caribbean Cuisine by Wendy Rahamut. So much so I even tried to style my food like she does:) She provides Caribbean recipes with a multi-ethnic twist. Last week, craving the flavor of fried plantain, but wanting to use a local veggie, I made baked sweet potato wedges with Caribbean influenced spices. An Asian inspired dipping sauce offered just the right complement of sweet and spicy. Both of these recipes are variations on recipes in Rahamut's book.

Hey, I'm having fun. That's what life's about.

Caribbean Spiced Sweet Potatoes

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Oil cookie sheet
3. Peel and slice potato into wedges about 1/2 inch thick and 3 inches long.
4. Mix together spices and place sweet potatoe wedges in bolw with mixture.
Coat well.
5. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 20 -25 minutes, turning once or twice during baking, until golden brown and soft.

Spice mixture

1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cardamom
1- 2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp annatto
1/2-3/4 tsp cumin

To make dip, simply mix following ingredients in a bowl and chill until ready to serve.

Orange-Ginger Dip

2 tbsp blood orange jam
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 tsp or more sambal chile sauce