Friday, June 26, 2009

Menu plan

There was an insane rain storm yesterday which has done a great deal to alleviate my mental fog that accompanied the humidity. Now I am capable of coming up with something other than salad to consume our Farm Share:
  • The turnip greens, mystery greens, waido, and some of the scallions will go into another adaptation of spanikopita. This time I'm going to tinker with the filling and include some drained yogurt to give it a little extra tang. And I have about 10 garlic scapes (not from the farm share) that will also find their way into the mix.
  • The kohlrabi will be eaten raw--I haven't decided exactly how. If I get to a store and find some decent fennel, this salad looks good.
  • The beets and asparagus will get baked/roasted alongside the spanikopita and then sliced and doused with a simple mustard vinaigrette.
  • The braised turnip recipe I made last week was so good, I'm making it again. Brian and I were having fork wars over who got the last turnip.
  • The parsley is already gone having been chopped up and added to the salads (so far, we have used up 2 of the huge heads of lettuce).
  • I'll make kale chips and hope I might be able to trick the kids into eating them.
  • and the peas (oy vey, the peas!), some will get a quick blanching and then get tossed with a sesame/rice wine vinegar dressing (sort of like goma ae for peas!), some will be mixed with grated carrots, mint, olive oil and feta, some will be chucked into the salads, hopefully the kids will put away a whole bunch since this is the only green vegetable they willingly eat.

Pea insanity!

I just picked 1.5 lbs of sugar snap peas in my garden! And I ate about 5 oz of shelling peas right there on the spot! And I still have some left from the farm share!

Must head into the kitchen now to do them justice.

Our new friend

Last weekend, Brian decided to transform our crappy grill into something much more interesting:
It looks a little ridiculous with the big honking smoker attachment but I tell you people, it WORKS. (The alarming looking angle of the smoker is due to the way it is bolted to an angled side of the grill--not because the whole thing is leaning that way). I had my doubts when he was rigging the thing up on Saturday but I should know better than to doubt the man's mechanical abilities, especially when motivated by the possibility of churning out large quantities of smoked meat. And yes, it still works as a gas grill too. (If anyone is interested in how he did it, let me know and I'll pry it out of him. It did involve some noisy drilling at which point in time I ran inside and slammed the door.)

Allow me to display some of the beauteous offerings that he smoked on Father's Day (yes, he chose to spend his Father's Day enveloped in clouds of hickory smoke. We provided him with plenty of beer to keep him happy out there.)
The smoked salmon was revelatory. I made a tzatziki sauce to go with it.
A smoked chicken. Also mighty fine.
And his favorite, smoked pork ribs. I'm not the biggest rib fan (I prefer pulled pork) but I had one and they were good. We went with a simple dry rub that consisted of paprika, brown sugar, kosher salt and black pepper for all three smoked protein products. They were brushed occasionally with a little apple juice while on the smoker. That was it!

I made some sides, but neglected to photograph them: Alice Waters' Cole Slaw, a redskin potato salad with snap peas and avocado doused with the creamy salad dressing, and plenty of sweet corn on the cob.

I did remember to take a photo of dessert though:
Homemade chocolate chip cookies with (purchased) vanilla bean ice cream. Isn't this what Summer is supposed to look like?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What to put on all those salads...

The creamy dressing on a salad of lettuce, peas and radishes with sausage/broccoli rabe/ricotta pizza.

In our house we have a small culinary fissure. It's too small to call a rift, but the crack is there. I am a vinaigrette woman. Brian is a creamy dressing man. He'll tolerate vinaigrette, but prefers something a little less sharp with a bit more heft and mouth feel, while I am all about the acid/salt/olive oil combo. I can't stand commercial creamy dressings because to me they taste like white melted plastic (Oh, OK, I admit it. Every once in a while I have a trashy craving for crap blue cheese dressing on top of iceberg lettuce, but I think of that like a craving for potato chips--junk food.)

Since this is salad season and I'm eating salad for lunch, snack and dinner, I figured I could be a little generous with the guy and make a creamy dressing that he'd like and that I'd find acceptable and by some miracle of confluence, my first attempt came out well! I rummaged in the fridge and chucked a bunch of stuff in the blender and it made Brian so happy that the next day I attempted to reproduce it and actually measure the quantities and it still turned out well.

So now we have an alternative to my bottles of pungent vinaigrette and I confess that this dressing actually is better paired with the soft, delicate lettuces (our beloved Tantre green frillies) that are available now. I'll save the vinaigrette for the romaine and sturdier varieties.

Creamy Salad Dressing
This is a flexible recipe--it should accommodate a variety of substitutions and variations. Don't have buttermilk? Try plain yogurt. No garlic scapes? A whole clove or a shallot should do fine. The key is to tasting it and adjusting it along the way.

juice of one lemon (or use about 2-3 T red or white wine vinegar)
1 garlic scape, cut in 1/2 inch pieces (or one shallot, or one garlic clove)
the greens of one big or two normal sized scallions
3/4 C buttermilk
1/2 t salt
1/2 C silk tofu
1/4 C mayo
1 T chopped fresh dill (or use about 1 t dried or substitute another herb--I bet tarragon would be great)
1/4 C canola oil
1/2 t anchovy paste
1 t Dijon mustard
lots of fresh ground black pepper

Whir it all up in your blender until it is smooth. Taste and adjust so it suits your palate. Like it a bit heavier? Add more mayo or silk tofu. Sharper? Add more vinegar or lemon juice. More pungent? Add more garlic, scallion tops and/or anchovy paste. You get the idea.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tantre farm share, week 5

Vaguely Left to right front-ish: Green frilly lettuce, English Shelling Peas, Parsley, Snap Peas, Summer Onions, Beets, Waido (Asian Greens), Asparagus, Mystery Green (no idea what it is--didn't see it identified in the newsletter)
Vaguely Left to right back-ish: another green frilly lettuce, Romaine Lettuce, Red Oak Leaf lettuce, Turnips, Kohlrabi, Red Russian Kale
(slightly easier to identify in the flickr pic with notes)

What to do with the bounty this week?

Maybe it is the 90+ degree heat + cloud of humidity but the only food I am capable of contemplating at the moment is salad. The idea of even turning on a burner to blanch some asparagus makes me feel overwhelmed. Luckily there are 4 heads of lettuce including two that Brian and I have dubbed "the green frillies" which are our favorite.

I'll have to wait and post my cooking ideas for the week tomorrow--there's supposed to be rain which hopefully will cool it down a little here and make my brain a little more functional. I'm going to go and try to sell the idea of being bunnies for dinner to the critters which, since they are pretty much scared of most vegetables, is sure to go down really well.