Sunday, February 28, 2010

winter csa: february

1. the bounty
  • 1 head red cabbage
  • 5 lbs potatoes
  • 2 daikon radish
  • 2 kohlrabi
  • 3 lbs carrots
  • 3 lbs sweet potatoes
  • 2 bulbs garlic
  • 2 dozen eggs
2. cost analysis (comparison costs courtesy of freshdirect except where otherwise indicated):

  • red cabbage: $5 (organic)
  • potatoes: $10 (organic)
  • daikon: $3 (csa estimate)
  • kohlrabi: $2 (csa estimate)
  • carrots: $15 (csa estimate)
  • sweet potatoes: $6 (organic)
  • garlic: $1 (organic)
  • eggs: $10 (farm price)
= $52
actual csa cost per week = $45

now if only they would throw in some celeriac.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

low-fat pear oat muffins

subtitle: a health conscious muffin for an otherwise carb obsessed office

toto, we aren't in kansas anymore. shocking how the food expectations rapidly decline from soho, ny to secaucus, nj. okay, maybe not that surprising. anyways, i decided the polite thing to do would be introduce myself with muffins (duh). i wanted them to have oats (more breakfast like to me), be low-fat (because, well, muffins can be scary), and have pears (because they're delicious and would add flavor in case everything else went to crap). clearly, i had a lot of requirements, so it may not be surprising that i had a hard time finding a preexisting recipe. it was easier to just take a base muffin recipe (bittman!) and make the adjustments that i wanted.

i subbed some of the fat with unsweetened applesauce, added fruit, and swapped out half of the flour for instant oats. what resulted was a deliciously sweet, flavorful and moist muffin. the only downfall was that i didn't have turbinado sugar to sprinkle on the top...

low-fat pear oat muffins
adapted from mark bittman's muffin recipe in how to cook everything
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup instant oats
  • 1/4-1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tspn salt
  • 3 tspns baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup low fat milk
  • 1 cup pears, finely chopped
  • preheat oven to 355 degrees
  • combine dry ingredients
  • combine wet ingredients and mix into dry
  • stir until just combined (don't overmix! lumps are good)
  • bake for 20 minutes or until golden on top and cooked through

Monday, February 22, 2010

root vegetable shepherd's pie (february csa)

this one was a weekend project. project meaning it took over 3 hours to make. save your groaning and moaning for later. this recipe was perfectly paced for some weekend meditative cooking, which was ideal since i planned my entire saturday around it. think multiple steps, lots of chopping, and nothing too fast paced: things won't start smoking if you turn your head for a moment too long.

this recipe came about as i was craving sheppard's pie and wanted to use a butternut squash topping. i stumbled across this one from the la times for a root vegetable shepherd's pie from rustic canyon in santa monica. i had been dying to try the restaurant, so it seemed like the perfect option.

the effort was worth it. the butternut squash shone in this dish. it was sweet and rich. the apples contributed a great deal. i used granny smith ones and would suggest doing the same as the tartness was welcome with the rest of the sweet root vegetables. i made a few more substitutions (tofutti cream cheese instead of crème fraîche) as is usually the case when i'm making something that calls for lots of dairy. i also took some liberties with the amounts of veggies (seriously, i need to separately cook 1/4 cup of potatoes?!)

also to note: celery root is extremely underrated. read: smells like CANDY when you cook it in milk.

root vegetable shepherd's pie

serves: 8-10

from the latimes (adapted from rustic canyon wine bar & seasonal kitchen)

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • salt
  • 7 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided (i used half butter and half olive oil)
  • sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup fingerling potatoes, diced (i used 1/2 cup)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 sprig thyme plus 2 tablespoons chopped thyme, divided
  • 1 sprig rosemary plus 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary, divided
  • 1 celery root, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups heavy cream (i used low fat milk)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped sage
  • 4 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 parsnips, peeled and diced
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 apples, cored and diced (peels left on) - i suggest granny smith
  • 1 kohlrabi, peeled and sliced
  • 1/4 cup sliced leeks
  • 3 small turnips, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup chopped shallots
  • 1/4 pound spinach
  • 1 cup diced fresh brioche or challah (i just used some spelt bread that i had)
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche (i used tofutti cream cheese)
  • 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs (i used packaged gluten-free ones)

  • heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • halve the squash lengthwise, then scoop out and discard the seeds and fibers. place the halves on a baking sheet, cut side up, and season each half with one-fourth teaspoon salt. place one-half tablespoon butter in the hollow of each half, then cover the sheet with foil and bake until the squash are tender, about 1 hour. set aside to cool slightly, then scoop the flesh out of each half and discard the outer shell.
  • brown the butter: place 2 tablespoons butter (or 1 butter, 1 olive oil) in a large, heavy-bottom sauté pan and cook over medium-high heat until the butter browns and has a nutty aroma, about 3 minutes. be careful not to burn. stir in the squash and sprinkle over the nutmeg. reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly to break the softened squash into a purée. watch carefully so the squash does not burn on the bottom of the pan. remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  • while the squash cools, cook the potatoes. bring a small saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. stir in the potatoes, garlic and 1 sprig each of thyme and rosemary. cook until the potatoes are just tender, about 8 minutes. drain the potatoes, discarding the garlic and herbs and set aside in a large bowl.
  • in the same saucepan, combine the celery root with the cream and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the celery root is tender, about 10 minutes. strain out the celery root and place in the large bowl with the potatoes. reserve 1/4 cup of the cream in a separate container.
  • place 1 tablespoon butter in a large sauté pan and brown over medium-high heat. stir in the sage, carrots and parsnips and season with one-fourth teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are tender, 4 to 5 minutes. remove the vegetables to the large bowl and set aside.
  • clean the sauté pan and brown 3 tablespoons butter (or half butter, half olive oil) over medium-high heat. stir in the chopped thyme, apples, kohlrabi, leeks and turnips. season with one-half teaspoon salt and a pinch each sugar and pepper. increase the heat to high and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. remove the vegetables to the large bowl.
  • clean the sauté pan and melt the remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. stir in the shallots and brown slightly. stir in the spinach and cook just until wilted. season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. remove from heat and add to the large bowl.
  • add the diced brioche (spelt bread), chopped rosemary, reserved cream and crème fraîche (tofutti) to the vegetables and stir gently but thoroughly to combine. taste and adjust the seasoning as desired.
  • place the mixture in a baking dish so the filling reaches approximately one-half inch from the top of the dish. using a rubber spatula, spread the butternut squash purée evenly over the top. sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the top.
  • place the baking dish on a baking pan (to catch any drippings) and bake until the breadcrumbs are lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes. remove from heat and serve hot.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

practically healthy banana oat waffles

not only is this the first time i have lived with a waffle maker but my apartment currently houses two of them. until now, i was a pancake person. but when you know that there are waffle makers (plural!) just itching to be used, it tends to shift the focus. now i will admit that sometimes i experience a certain pang of guilt when consuming mass quantities of baked carby goodness as my first meal of the day, although you probably wouldn't have guessed that from reading the blog.

conversations of waffles over the weekend provided a) oat waffles and b) hey, let's use this mushy banana i have, or i'm going to throw it out. how did this decrease my guilt? practically healthy banana oat waffles!
the banana subbed in for any fat that i would have added to the batter and a combination of flour and oats was way better (think whole grain) than flour alone. and since we didn't have any syrup, my holy trinity of toppings for the day was homemade raspberry jam, peanut butter (crunchy, of course) and honey. yummmmmmm.

practically healthy banana oat waffles

bear with me here. this is one of those not so exact recipes. once you know the kind of consistency you're looking for (a relatively thick but no too thick batter) i don't think accurate measurements are necessary.
  • one mashed banana (it needs to be ripe! the mushier, the better)
  • 2 eggs
  • about 1 cup soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup quick cook oats
  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • some brown sugar (a few tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • cinnamon
  • mash banana in the bottom of a bowl
  • add remaining wet ingredients (soy milk, eggs, vanilla) and mix
  • this is where i really break the rules: dump in the dry ingredients (flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon) and sort of mix them together on top of the wet ingredients with a fork, before blending everything together. really, i see no need to dirty 2 bowls when 1 gets the job done. don't overmix.
  • waffleize!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

red wine poached pears

i've been craving poached pears lately. it must be my stomach's winter solution to a summer stone fruit dessert. i realize that many people might not exactly be excited by this idea but really, they're super easy and versatile. in this instance they were dessert but they just as easily could have been a snack or yummy breakfast paired with granola and yogurt (my original plan...)

the opportunity to actually make these guys presented itself as a celebratory brunch where a "warm" dessert was requested. perfect! i had never actually poached a pear myself, so there were some nerves involved in the group effort that came to be. we ended up slicing the pears in half and placing them face up in a baking dish. then we mixed together red wine, orange juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, fresh grated ginger and nutmeg, and poured it over the top. it may be argued that the pears were actually baked and not poached, since they weren't completely immersed in the cooking liquid. i'm going to claim that it was a combination of the two. since the stove was already too crowded during brunch preparation, the oven had to do.

it might also be argued that i should have started with the pears face down--at least these are the things i think about. when i decided to stop stressing about it, the pears were face up in the baking dish. you should probably flip the pears at some point, or at least cover them (neither of which we did) but they still tasted damn good. another one of those almost fool proof and impressive items.

closer to my original vision: poached pear with granola and yogurt at anella, before they changed chefs. don't even go trying to find this thing. sadly, it no longer exists.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

the incredible edible egg (polenta and eggs)

subtitle: when i fell in love with the nytimes dining section

i still have the nytimes clipping of the article shoved into a binder with recipe tear outs. these days, i generally browse the nytimes online but there was a time when i had a job where the best part was the nytimes daily delivery. this was my first formal, regular introduction to the wednesday dining section.

you may have heard of such books as alone in the kitchen with an eggplant or what we eat when we eat alone, where the entire concept rests on some secretive meal that we each have to make when we're on our own. now, i have made this particular meal for others but i'm just not sure if it's appreciated as well in a group versus curling up alone in a couch corner after an exhausting day.

everyone's heard of putting a fried egg on top of almost anything as an added bonus to a dish. however, when i read this article, i never had. it sounded so good that i decided to go home and make it that very night. with that, i concocted my own comfort food. by that i mean that this is not something my parents ever made for me when i was younger (i have some of those too but that's a different story). this is something i independently discovered, and have made my own. granted, i did have to be of age enough so that i could appreciate an over easy egg and how the runny yolk seamlessly combines with just about any other flavor and adds a comforting richness to it. once i discovered this, there really was no stopping the endless combinations and possibilities. and each one tastes just as good as the last.

the recipe below is the first one i saw using this concept (polenta, eggs and dark leafy green) but now i put eggs over almost anything: various grains (rice, quinoa, pasta) and any vegetable (don't stop with dark leafy greens). it's the ultimate meal: quick, easy, affordable, tasty and comforting.

polenta, greens and eggs for 1
(adapted from melissa clark, nytimes)
  • 1-2 eggs (depending on how hungry you are. sometimes i make 2 eggs just so that i can have the two yolks)
  • polenta
  • lots of grated parmesean cheese
  • dark greens (my favorite is spinach but above you might be able to see that i used csa bok choy)
  • garlic
  • red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • chicken stock
  • butter
  • i usually make the greens first since they can sit for a little bit without any trouble. heat olive oil in a pan, add lots of minced garlic and greens. cook over high heat until wilted. stir in red pepper flakes.
  • make the polenta: contrary to nytimes advice, i use quick cooking polenta (not quite instant but not the slow cook kind). bring 3 cups of chicken stock to a boil, reduce heat and add polenta, start whisking. once the polenta has started to thicken, stir in salt and pepper, parmesean cheese, and some butter. keep whisking until the polenta starts to pull away from the pot. cover to keep warm.
  • fry eggs in some olive oil. the olive oil helps the whites get all crispy. the runny yolks are downright necessary, so sunny side up or over-easy are best.
  • spoon polenta into a shallow bowl, top with greens and eggs. top with additional parmesean cheese.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

winter csa: january

1. the bounty
  • 1 head savoy cabbage
  • 1 lb broccoli shoots
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 7 pounds potatoes
  • 2 daikon radish
  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 2 lbs carrots
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 2 dozen eggs
2. cost analysis (comparison costs courtesy of freshdirect except where otherwise indicated):

  • savoy cabbage: $4 (csa estimate)
  • broccoli shoots: $4 (organic head of broccoli)
  • kale: $3 (organic)
  • potatoes: $14 (organic)
  • daikon: $3 (organic not available)
  • butternut squash: $4.50 (organic not available; csa estimate)
  • carrots: $4 (organic)
  • garlic: $2 (csa estimate)
  • eggs: $10 (farm price)
= $48.50
actual csa cost per week = $45

i'm about to surrender to the potatoes.