Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Tantre farm share, week 7

From left to right: Onions, parsley, dill, arugula, English shelling peas, new potatoes, two heads of red oak lettuce, basil, sugar snap peas, fava beans, garlic, beets, yellow summer squash, two bunches of red Russian kale, kohlrabi

I'm still working on the damn kitchen, though at least it is moderately functional. So I'm going to limit the rhapsodizing about how beautiful these vegetables are and move right on to what I'm going to do with them.

Menu plan:
  • Tonight: grilled lamb chops, sauteed snap peas with mint, red oak lettuce and arugula salad and new potatoes with dill.
  • Shelling peas with the first basil pesto of the year and pasta (homemade or dried, depending on the energy level...)
  • Calabacitas with the yellow squash and some of the onions served with grilled steak and green rice.
  • Main course salad using more of the lettuce, parsley, beets, and onions supplemented with cucumbers from the market, grilled or canned tuna, feta and olives and served with arugula and fava bean crostini.
  • Roasted kohlrabi, sauteed kale and some form of protein. I'm hankering for tofu but can't quite figure out a compatible flavor profile. Ideas anyone?
  • More kale chips for snacking.
  • Not sure what to do with the beet greens this week, other than basic saute with garlic....

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Triple Beet Overload

Whenever we go to Washtenaw Dairy, the boy critter chooses a massive scoop of Triple Chocolate Overload. Yesterday, inspired by that name, I made a meal I call Triple Beet Overload.

Beet pasta,
filled with beet greens, walnuts and ricotta,
accompanied by a salad with sliced beets:
For a beet lover like myself, this was more delicious than Triple Chocolate Overload. The pasta had a simple browned butter, crispy sage leaf and poppy seed sauce and the salad was romaine, arugula, beets and cucumber (all from the farm share or farmer's market) in a shallot vinaigrette. I used one generous bunch of beets from the Tantre farm share to make this meal (plus plenty more ravioli for another day): the roots were split between the salad and the puree in the pasta dough and the greens went in the filling.

I made some beet linguine for the critters and the boy critter happily gobbled it down. The girl critter was more reluctant and then I screwed up royally and suggested she pretend the noodles were earthworms, forgetting that this is the child who goes on worm rescue patrol after it rains to save worms. She looked horrified at the mere thought that someone would find eating (pretend) earthworms amusing and that was that; not another noodle passed her lips.

Beet Overload

beet pasta recipe adapted from Martha Stewart
beet green filling recipe adapted from LA Times

Serve with a salad with sliced beets to put it over the top in beety-goodness.

Beet Pasta
about 1/3-1/2 C cooked peeled beets--you can roast or boil them, whichever you prefer
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 t salt
2 C flour, plus more for kneading and rolling

Process the cooked beets in a food processor, scraping down the sides a few times. Add the eggs, yolk and salt and process again, until you don't see any individual beet bits. Add flour and pulse until the dough comes together in a big lump.

Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface, flour the top and knead for about 5 minutes. Then wrap in plastic and let rest for an hour (in the fridge if you plan on longer than an hour).

While the dough rests, make the filling:

Beet Green Filling
2 T olive oil
1 garlic clove, pressed or minced
1 generous bunch of beet greens, washed, stems removed and chopped
1/2 C walnuts
1 egg white
1 C whole milk ricotta
1/3 C microplane grated Parmesan (less if you are using coarser grated)
1/4 t fresh ground nutmeg
salt and pepper

Saute the garlic in the olive oil until fragrant, then add the beet greens and cook until thoroughly wilted, at least 5 minutes.

Put the greens in the food processor (yes, you have to wash the darn thing after making the pasta....) add the walnuts and pulse until chopped fine. Transfer greens to a bowl and add the egg white, ricotta, Parmesan and nutmeg. Mix well and season with salt and plenty of black pepper.

Now assemble the ravioli:

Cut off a blob of dough that is about 1/5th of the whole and press into a vaguely rectangular shape and lightly flour it. Then run through your pasta roller, dialing down the setting each time. I have a pastry brush dipped in flour that I use to dust it between runs. I run it through twice on the biggest setting and once on all the following settings and I stop at 2 (not the absolute thinnest setting because that makes for very delicate ravioli and I tend to tear them). Repeat until you have used all your dough, or until you have made sufficient ravioli. You can wrap up the rest of the dough in plastic and refrigerate it for a day or two until you have the energy to make some more.

Lay out your looooong rectangle of pasta on a lightly floured surface. Then put 1/2 teaspoons of filling spaced evenly down half the sheet (I usually do it in two rows, but it depends on the size of your ravioli. If you prefer big ones then use a full teaspoon of filling and space them out a bit more). Use a brush dipped lightly in water to moisten the edges of the ravioli then fold the other half of the sheet over the top. Gently press around the lumps of filling to seal it in and then use a knife or pasta cutter to cut the ravioli's apart. Place on a lightly floured board or cookie sheet and dust lightly with a little more flour. Freeze if you don't intend to use immediately or else the pasta will start to absorb the filling and deteriorate. When you are ready to cook, put on a big pot of salted water, have it come to a boil and then toss in the ravioli and cook until they float to the top. Drain and toss with the sauce.

3/4 of a stick of butter
1 T poppy seeds
a good handful of fresh sage leaves

Melt the butter in a small sauce pan then toss in the poppy seeds and sage leaves. Cook until the butter gets slightly nutty colored and then pour the whole shebang over the pasta and serve. Make sure that everyone gets a few sage leaves. If you like, you can shred Parmesan over the top of each serving.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Why I love A.Word.A.Day

There are plenty of "word a day" offerings out there (I think my screen saver even has one) but most of them assume you have a pretty basic vocabulary and they are formatted like basic dictionary entries: dry, dry, dry.

A while ago I subscribed to's A.Word.A.Day e-mail and it has been such a pleasure--each week the words are grouped around a theme: sometimes it is the connection to a particular language, sometimes the words are derived from birds, sometimes the words are esoteric insults (always good to have some of these tucked away so I can swear in front of the critters without major repercussions). This week's theme is "words with three letters in alphabetic sequence." (You can browse the theme list here.)

Today's entry was simply perfect: defenestrate*. The former-French-speaker in me could figure out what it meant by the connection to the word window: "fenetre". The basic pronunciation, definition and etymology are covered, but the notes section, in which the word is explicated and commented upon, is what makes A.Word.A.Day special. In defenestrate's note there is a reference to the Defenestration of Prague which took place May 23, 1618 and led up to the 30 years war, but then, even better, there is a link to a Lego sculpture gallery of this particular historical moment! If I was a kid studying for the SATs you can bet I would remember defenestrate after looking at the Lego pics.

I love obsessive dweebitude things like this. Do you have a favorite to share?
*Incidentally, Blogger's spell checker does not know the word defenestrate. Ha!

Sunday, July 05, 2009


...we're making progress on the kitchen:
I proudly present my stretch of ceiling. I've said it before and will say it again, I'm not a perfectionist, but this stretch of mudding and taping would satisfy a pickier person than I am.

Then the ceiling was primed and painted, the walls got 3 coats of red, and you can see the wood trim has all been stripped. As I'm typing this, Brian is finishing up staining it. We still have crown moulding, oak trim around the counter tops, and the subway tile backsplashes to install, but those three are far less messy and won't require crazy tarping, just moving stuff around as the work is done. The stove may be out of commission for a day or so when I'm tiling right behind it, but hopefully we won't have to eat as much take-out as we did this week. I'm itching to get back to cooking with the great produce that is available right now.