Monday, June 29, 2009

wheat-free strawberry dumpling (csa week 2)

subtitle: a dessert to rock your socks off--seriously!

it really pays to stay on top of the food blogs. especially one of my favorites, thekitchn; i've mentioned it on more than one occasion. in this particular instance, a recipe review of gourmet's strawberry dumpling caught my eye. it looked so good, simple, and seemed like the perfect use for my overabundance of csa strawberries. what's more, this week's strawberries weren't particularly sweet, so i hadn't gobbled them all up plain quite yet. it seemed much better to use them in a recipe that would enhance their flavor and sweetness.

so this recipe is sort of obvious in a few ways. by that, i mean that it makes complete sense and once you understand it, it's one of those method things that you could apply to almost any food. how, you ask? forget the strawberries, use your favorite berries. or go with all stone fruits. or, hell, i bet it would work with apples as well. or let's get really crazy, and go back to the dumpling roots. now we're on a completely different page but in addition to the classic chicken and dumplings, you could make this with any vegetables you wanted (no meat necessary).

don't be scared by the way it looks here. we can't all be as beautiful as gourmet magazine. that and my nectarine and spelt additions made the colors much more, shall we say, earthy??? i made a couple of minor modifications to the recipe below. first, i used a combo of strawberries and nectarines because i happened to have a nectarine on hand. second was using low fat milk instead of whole. and i'm glad i did. i'm not into the super rich dairy items (hence the froyo preference) and i really don't think that this negatively impacted the dumplings. the whole dessert is so good and substantial but not too heavy that i was glad the dumplings didn't feel like they were going to sink to the bottom of my stomach. that and spelt tends to be a little denser, so i figure they canceled each other out. i even plan on trying soy next time.

strawberry (or any other kind) dumpling
  • 1 quart strawberries, trimmed and thickly sliced (about 4 cups)--or any other combination of fruit of your choosing!
  • 2/3 cup sugar (you certainly don't have to use this much. adjust according to how sweet your fruit is)
  • 1 cup spelt flour (or your preferred gluten-free baking mix)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2/3 cup milk (the original recipe calls for whole; i used low-fat)
  • stir together strawberries and sugar in a 4-qt heavy saucepan and let stand, stirring occasionally, until juicy, about 15 minutes. bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  • meanwhile, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. blend in butter using a pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps. stir in milk until just blended, then add mixture to boiling berries and stir once or twice (thekitchn recommended just dropping the dough in on top and not stirring, which is what i did). tightly cover saucepan and reduce heat to low.
  • cook, undisturbed, until dumpling looks dry on top, 15 to 18 minutes. let stand off heat, uncovered, 5 minutes before serving.
  • serve with heavy cream, vanilla ice cream, frozen yogurt, regular yogurt--something creamy. or not.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

my new favorite thing: balsamic reduction (csa week 2)

the awesome thing about a balsamic reduction is that it's super quick, easy, and a welcome addition to just about anything. and there's really nothing like letting everyone know a balsamic reduction is involved to sound like you really know what you're doing. it's easy, i swear! especially the little thing i put together the other night. say hello to your (and my!) new favorite summer dessert: strawberries with balsamic reduction over frozen yogurt. what resulted was a yummy, tart and slightly sweet cool and refreshing treat. and call me crazy, but i just think it might hold up to chocolate (some chocolate pudding thrown into the mix, in my case).

strawberries with balsamic reduction over frozen yogurt
  • balsamic vinegar
  • strawberries, sliced
  • plain frozen yogurt (i used trader joe's nonfat)
  • pour balsamic vinegar in a small pan and cook over low heat for a few minutes until it reduces. it will bubble slightly, become thick and coat the pan.
  • pour over yogurt and strawberries.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

csa week 2

csa week 2. ladies and gentlemen, we already have kale! so please, send me some kale recipes because otherwise i will be lost (aka be cooking it with olive oil and lots of garlic). it's been another 2 rainy, non-spring like weeks in new york. outlook not so fabulous for the week's bounty but here we go.

1. the bounty

  • 1 lb spinach
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 pint snow peas
  • 5 garlic scapes
  • 1/2 lb mesclun
  • 1/3 lb baby bok choi braising mix
  • 2 small zucchini
  • 2 quarts strawberries
2. cost analysis (comparison costs courtesy of freshdirect):

  • spinach: $3/lb (organic)
  • kale $3/bunch (organic)
  • snow peas $4 (not organic)
  • garlic scapes: $1.50 (as per csa estimate)
  • mesclun: $4.50 (as per csa estimate)
  • baby bok choi: $1.99 (not organic)
  • small zucchini: $2 (csa estimate)
= $19.99
actual csa cost per week = $22


  • strawberries: $3.50/quart (organic)
= $7.00
actual csa cost per week = $11.67

fingers crossed for better weather! come on, summer tomatoes!

Monday, June 22, 2009

csa week 1: when all else fails, stir-fry

subtitle: words to live by from go go

if you haven't learned this cooking rule by now, you really should. especially if you've ever found yourself with a fridge full of veggies that need to be used-helloooooo csa. this isn't the first time and certainly will not be the last time that a stir-fry saves the day.

some things to keep in mind when stir-frying:

  1. you don't need a wok; a large pan will do
  2. high heat is key. food cooks quickly yet retains color and flavor and doesn't turn to mush.
  3. for veggies that take longer to cook i usually steam or boil them briefly first, drain them, and then give them a quick stir fry to get all of the moisture out.
  4. you really can throw anything in there.
in this case, there was asparagus and pea shoots from the csa and mushrooms from the refrigerator.

this was my first adventure with pea shoots and there was an uh, issue, with some tough stems involved. so don't forget to trim your pea shoots! but otherwise, they seem to be rather user friendly. treat them as you would any other sort of green. (stir-fry, saute, eat raw, etc.) more ideas from my favorite pals at chowhound here. and if you're feeling super into the stir-fry thing you might want to do some rice reading.

pea shoot and other things stir-fry
  • one bunch pea shoots, trimmed
  • mushrooms
  • small bunch asparagus, cut into small pieces
  • couple cloves of garlic, minced
  • one shallot, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • vegetable oil (it does better than olive oil over high heat)
  • put some olive oil in a large pan.
  • once oil is heated, throw in garlic, shallot, mushrooms and asparagus.
  • a few minutes later, add pea shoots.
  • cook until slightly wilted. add salt and pepper.
  • serve over rice.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

csa week 1: leeks with ginger and shrimp

it sure seems like the majority of my csa recipes are going to come from mark bittman. my goal is to really enjoy the produce i'm getting. to me, this means not hiding the flavors of vegetables but cooking dishes that really feature them and bring out their flavors rather than downplay them. however, at the same time, i'm also trying to cook in a way that isn't just eating the vegetable plain (always a good option). bittman is undoubtedly the simple food/simple flavors master (the minimalist).

i always think of leeks as a winter food undoubtedly because of potato leek soup. and this is how i mostly use them. ok, 90% of the time, that's how i use them so it was quite exciting to get some last week and figure out a way to use them outside of soup. so back to bittman. his leeks with ginger and shrimp seemed like the perfect, simple recipe for my leeks and a weeknight dinner. i have to be honest in saying that i didn't actually cook this. i was going to be home late, etc, etc, etc, so the boy took over cooking as per my and bittman's instructions.

this dish turned out delicious. major props to the boy, bittman AND trader joe's jumbo frozen raw shrimp. seriously, they are going to be added to my regular grocery shopping list. the leeks got all crunchy and combined perfectly with the strong but not at all overwhelming ginger flavor. we ate it over toast, as per bittman's instructions.

mark bittman's leeks with ginger and shrimp
  • 1/4 cup peanut or olive oil
  • 4 large leeks (light green and white parts only), about 3 pounds, thoroughly washed and chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds peeled shrimp
  • 1/4 cup minced ginger
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon good stock, dry sherry or soy sauce, optional (didn't do this)
  • put half the oil in a large skillet, preferably nonstick, and turn heat to high. when a bit of smoke appears, add the leeks, all at once. let sit for a couple of minutes, then cook, stirring only occasionally, for about 10 minutes. when the leeks dry out and begin to brown, remove them from the pan and set aside.
  • with the heat still on high, add the remaining oil to the pan, immediately followed by the shrimp. sprinkle with the ginger. cook for about a minute, then stir. cook, stirring every minute or so, until the shrimp are almost all pink, about 5 minutes. add the leeks, along with some salt and pepper. when the shrimp are done (no traces of gray will remain), stir in the liquid if desired, taste and adjust seasoning, and serve.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

csa week 1: strawberry rhubarb crepes

truth be told, before last week, i had never actually had rhubarb before. i know some of you out there are probably in disbelief and i'm really not sure why this was. we were a cookie, brownie and cake family. not a lot of pies. maybe that explains it?! i thought there was a good chance of getting some with the first week's csa pickup and was excited to take it on. cooking it down with sugar seemed like the obvious solution but i didn't want to completely stew out the flavor of the rhubarb. however, it did seem like a dessertish recipe would be a good first introduction to it. after tasting the rhubarb raw, my thoughts were confirmed. someone please tell me, sour and bitter, what? i don't get it. couldn't do it.

although i went the classic cooked with strawberries route, i tried to make my version a bit more on the savory side. not too much sugar and i added some orange, ginger and apple cider vinegar. i also didn't cook the strawberries but just folded them into the cooked rhubarb mixture at the last minute. no need to cook or sweeten a perfectly good strawberry, i say!

strawberry rhubarb crepes

the filling:
  • 2 rhubarb stalks, trimmed and chopped
  • 1/2 pint strawberries
  • large piece of ginger, quartered (so you can remove it at the end)
  • zest of an orange
  • juice of 1/2 orange
  • 1/4-1/3 cup of sugar (depending on your desired sweetness): part brown, part white
  • 2-3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • throw everything except the strawberries into a pot with a little bit of water. stir.
  • bring to a simmer, let the rhubarb soften and the liquid reduce.
  • remove from heat, fold in strawberries.
the crepes (from the food network and alton brown):
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk (or soy milk)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup flour (i of course used spelt)
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • whisk ingredients together (yes, i put all of them into the bowl together and mixed. no separation here).
  • alton says to refrigerate the batter but i didn't do this...
  • grease a pan of desired size.
  • pour enough batter into the pan to thinly coat it. swirl the pan around to cover the surface.
  • cook 30 seconds and flip. cook another 10 seconds and remove.

Monday, June 15, 2009

csa week 1

the long awaited first csa pickup! sadly, i couldn't actually pick the bounty up myself due to a prior engagement but lucky for me, i have willing friends who are happy to be paid in strawberries. so, without further adieu, CSA WEEK NUMERO UNO!

1. the bounty
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 2 large leeks
  • 1 small head red lettuce
  • 1 bunch pea shoots
  • 1 bunch arugula
  • 1 bunch radishes (french breakfast and easter egg)
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 2 quarts strawberries
  • 2 stalks rhubarb
2. cost analysis (comparison costs courtesy of freshdirect):

  • asparagus: $4.99/bunch (organic)
  • leeks: $3.99/bunch (organic)
  • red lettuce: $2.99 (organic)
  • pea shoots: unavailable
  • arugula: $1.49/bunch (organic not available)
  • radishes (french breakfast and easter egg): $0.99/bunch (organic not available)
  • cilantro $1.99 (organic)
= $18.44 (assuming $2/pea shoots)
actual csa cost per week = $22

  • strawberries: $3.50/quart (organic)
  • rhubarb: $3.99/ 3 stalks (organic not available)
actual csa cost per week = $11.67

so i came out a little short this week but the weather around here has been cold, rainy, and not spring like at all. it seems the season is just off to a late start. what did i do with all of this yummy produce? stay tuned. i'll post recipes of what i made in the upcoming days. don't see a recipe for a particular veggie or fruit? chances are it didn't make it to an actual formal dish and i just had to eat it plain.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

csa time!

after a couple of years of hesitation, i finally took the leap to join a csa. if you're saying "cs-what?" let me take a moment to explain.

csa stands for community supported agriculture. it is a partnership between a farm and a group of supporters. basically, you invest a certain amount of money in this local farm at a time when costs are the highest for them (at the beginning of the season). in return, you receive oodles of fresh, local produce weekly (full share) or biweekly (half share). in addition, the csa brings together a community of people, often hosting events, including farm visits. my CSA is the
greenpoint williamsburg CSA via the garden of eve farm, on long island. i have a half vegetable (7-10 items per pickup; $265), fruit (2-3 items per pickup; $140), and egg share (1/2 dozen per pickup; $35).

for a couple of years i've toiled with the idea of joining a csa but i was nervous about the cost and the amount of food i would be getting. it seems expensive when you look at it upfront but given that my weekly grocery shopping involves mostly fruits and vegetables, i figured now was as good a year as any to try it out. the most exciting thing about this, to me, is that i will have to use all sorts of items i never usually buy. i imagine ramps, rhubarb, turnips, and kale, to name a few. i will learn to like kale!

every other week, i'll post the week's pickup, try to give a cost analysis (is it REALLY worth it?!) as well as let you know how i use each item. i'm going to try my darnedest not to just enjoy each fruit or veggie in it's natural, unadulterated, raw state, just for kicks. although, these versions seem to usually taste the best...

so get ready for week number 1!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

stone fruit means summertime!

finally, stone fruit! the abnormally cold spring weather seems to have delayed the crops but at last, my beloved nectarines are back. my first spotting was at the grocery store last week so i grabbed some of them along with some apricots. then, due to a hectic week, i wasn't home enough to be eating them. last night i decided to eat them in one go, as a dessert. grilled seemed like the perfect method here. now, i do not have a grill, bbq, or grill pan. what i do have is a george foreman grill (which can be problematic when you don't want flavors/grease/marinade dripping off of your food item), which seems to get the job done. i mean come on, yummy fruit, grill it, bake it, freeze it, it's all going to be good.

after i grilled the fruit sprinkled with some brown sugar, i gave it a good few minutes on the grill. sadly, the brown sugar didn't really caramelize, it just kind of melted. maybe because it has more moisture? the heat was off? live and learn but at least it still tasted good. i choose to serve my grilled fruit over vanilla yogurt with a little more brown sugar sprinkled on top (you could also use honey here). but really, between the sweetness of the fruit and yogurt, it probably didn't need it. and then once i settled in front of the tv, i maaaay have tossed in some chocolate chips...gotta have my fix.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

gluten-free microwave cookies

there's nothing like a move to delay blogging/cooking/eating at home. for the past week (ok, more) i've been engulfed in moving type activities. when i finally got into the new apartment with my stuff (saturday), the knowledge that the gas wouldn't be turned on for four more days was almost more than i could handle. let's just take a moment to praise the housing market crash for its overabundance of leftover new buildings that cannot be filled. and therefore, people like me, get to rent units in them for a bargain price and more importantly, to experience NEW AND WONDERFUL KITCHEN APPLIANCES. in any case, the important part for you to take away from all of this is that i have a beautiful, full size stove and oven at my disposal. that means 4 working burners. not one, not get the point. no more mini new york kitchen stove for me! i'm ready to get cooking! however, that was not in the cards.

after this rather traumatic weekend moving experience--to sum it up: it involved two "movers" who turned out to be weak high school students, an amazing part time boxer/mover who saved my life, and an angry landlord knocking on the door of my old apartment while i frantically cleaned and
painted--The Baker decided i needed her to come over and make me cookies to help recoup. (isn't it awesome how i have all of these baker friends?! i suggest you try it.) so The Baker came over to make cookies but alas, we couldn't use the oven. that left just two things: the microwave and the george foreman.

i can hear my mom now, "blasphemy! you can't make cookies in the microwave!" another baker...go figure...but here's the thing, i really needed those cookies. and there didn't seem to be any reason to think that it would be a complete disaster. who doesn't eat the cookie dough? so what could you possibly do to it to make it taste bad??!!

our cookie dough of choice was The Baker's own goober puff. now you may know that i'm not so into blogging out my friends favorite recipes. they are theirs to do with what they wish. so i'm just going to tell you that i really think this method would work with any cookie dough (just to note: ours was wheat/gluten-free and on the firmer side) and you can read the tollhouse chocolate chip cookie recipe below.

no gas cookie method number 1: the microwave
a warning here: these cookies will not look like they've been cooked (you know that whole microwave cooks from the inside out and is incapable of browning thing). they seemed a bit on the drier side the first time we did them. 30 seconds on a greased plate in my new powerful microwave seemed to be just right. still a bit on the drier side which gave them a muffin like texture.

no gas cookie method number 2: the george foreman (and they totally doubted me on this one. just for the record.)

grilled cookies?!
YUM! these ones got crusty on the outside and were still moist on the inside. the george automatically smooshes the dough down pretty evenly which makes for a lovely cookie.

the goober puff uses a combination of almond flour and oats. find almond flour recipes here.

ye olde faithful nestle toll house chocolate chip cookie recipe

  • 1 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (i, of course, use spelt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar (recipe says to split the regular sugar and brown sugar evenly but i like a little extra brown sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large eggs
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
  • preheat oven to 375° f.
  • cream butter and sugar.
  • add egg and vanilla, mix well.
  • mix in flour, baking soda and salt until combined.
  • stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
  • bake tablespoon sized drops of batter for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.