Here is a picture of the carrot pancakes that inspired my daughter to enter her own version of the recipe.
The summer squash and tomatoes are starting to arrive now. I made two really delicious stews. This one is inspired by Martha Shulman's Mediterranean harvest cookbook, Turkish Ratatouille, on page 299. I really like this one because it uses everything that came in from our garden the other day, and it made me realize that some of these recipes reflected the experience of people who were going to the market or the garden and picking a few things to cook for lunch or dinner. The spices in this dish are just intoxicating.
Mix 1 tbsp tomato paste with 1.4 cups water, 1 tablespoon vinegar (I used fig balsamic which I'm enjoying right now), 1 tsp sugar or agave, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, and 1 tsp sweet paprika. Then heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a dutch oven or big frying pan and cook two cups eggplant, any kind, cubed, seasoned with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl or pot. Add a little more oil and add 2 coarsely chopped red or yellow onions, cook them a minute, and then add 2 teaspoons of crushed coriander seeds, or ground coriander. Add some chopped garlic now if you like. Then cook a minute more and add 2 chopped green, red, or yellow peppers and 2 sliced or cubed zucchini or yellow squash. Cook until wilted. Put the eggplant back in the pan and add the tomato mixture. Mix and add 2 bay leaves, and about 1/2 cup of chopped fresh herbs, especially mint and parsley. If you have some okra slice it and add. We had a few and it was a really nice touch. Season with salt and pepper and cook covered for an hour to an hour and a half. I actually put the dish in my roaster oven on our back porch to keep the kitchen cool and after we had dinner put it back for awhile, and then forgot about it. When I came back 2 hours later it was fine. The eggplant and okra had melted into the mixture and it was almost like jam.
I think this spice and tomato combo would be delicious with just about any subset of the veggies above, whatever you might have on hand. It would great with green beans, although you might want to blanch them for a few minutes first. You could serve this with just about anything. I'm going to use it as a sauce for pasta. It would make nice bruschetta for an appetizer, or just serve it cold with cut up vegetables like celery or carrots. Sprinkle some feta or goat cheese on top. You could also layer it with pasta and ricotta for a pretty amazing lasagna-style dish, or with bread for a gratin style, baked with some feta cheese and breadcrumbs on top. Other cheeses might work well too but for some reason feta comes to mind. Maybe because our amazing local goat cheese folks, Prairie Fruits Farm (they're at the farmer's market in Chicago, too) have local goat milk feta cheese for sale right now, and it's mild but slightly zingy flavor seems like it would complement the sweet, sour, and cinnamon notes in the dish.
The idea for the second stew came from a Weight Watchers Cookbook called Simply Delicious. It was easy but really good and my daughter and her friend who ate dinner with us both loved it.
Vegetable tagine with walnuts or cashews and prunes
Saute 2 chopped onions in olive oil and add 1 tsp of ground coriander. Saute until golden and add 1-2 cups cubed sweet potatoes, butternut squash, or yams, 1/2 or more cups of sliced carrots, 1 can diced tomatoes, or about 2 cups, 1 big can of chickpeas or about 3 cups, 1/2 cup veggie broth, 1/2 cup chopped pitted prunes, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Bake covered for about 45 minutes, or you could simmer this on the stove if you like. Stir in 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or cashews. I used lightly roasted unsalted cashews because that's what I had. I imagine you could substitute dried apricots or even figs in this dish. The recipe called for 1/2 bulb of fennel cut into chunks but I didn't have any so left it out, but it would be good.
I've also been making a lot of gratins. The one I liked the most so far was good hot, warm, and cold. I have to say it was so good cold I'd almost make it on purpose to serve cold. This is another recipe inspired by Shulman's book Mediterranean Harvest. I have been putting fresh basil into all of these dishes. I take the leaves and sort of loosely pile them up and then roll them length-wise and slice. You can cut it with a pair of scissors too, or kitchen shears. You want to use a sharp knife so you don't bruise the basil too much. I don't like chopping it because it seems to leave more of it on the cutting board than in my food.
Summer squash, bell pepper, and tomato gratin
Saute 1 large red or yellow chopped onion in olive oil until translucent and add 1 large chopped bell pepper, whatever color you have, some garlic, and about 4 cups of diced or cubed summer squash. Cook until the veggies are pretty tender but not mushy and add 1/4 cup of sliced basil. Mix in 1/2 cup cooked rice and season with salt and pepper. Beat 3 eggs and add 1/2 cup milk, 3/4 grated cheese (I used cheddar and Parmesan, but of course Gruyere would be classic). Stir in the cooked vegetables and combine and transfer to an oiled baking dish. Now cover the whole thing with sliced tomatoes. Spread breadcrumbs on top and drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil. Bake for 45 minutes at 375 until browned and bubbling. I used a combination of red and yellow tomatoes and this was very pretty.
A few more ideas for all that basil:
Basil and eggs go together really well. A little grated Parmesan and sliced basil make a really special omelet without any extra cooking. If you have time saute some sliced onions and summer squash and add it to the eggs.
There are tons of good pesto recipes. I like to substitute free-range chicken or vegetable broth for some of the olive oil, and I used different nuts depending on what I have, walnuts, cashews, or pine nuts. You can add mint or parsley. The last time I made it I added basil, mint, olive oil, broth, cashews, Parmesan, salt, and lemon juice, and tossed it with pasta and sauteed yellow squash, zucchini, and red onions. I don't measure any of these ingredients, just toss them in and taste it until Iget it right. I always have to add more salt to pesto, for some reason, before it tastes just right to me.
I have noticed that no matter how well we clean the kale and chard this time of year, if it's organically grown, somehow I will find little boiled green worms in the cooking water. They really know how to hide. It's kind of a good reason to blanch the leaves first before squeezing and chopping and using in a recipe.
I often tend to discard the kale stems because I don't want them for the recipe I'm making and can't be bothered to process them or stick them back in the fridge to hang around till I compost them. However, I just made this incredibly recipe and you will be amazed at how good it is. It's the first recipe I have found that I actually like for using kale (and chard) stems. I got the basic recipe from Martha Rose Shulman's Mediterranean Harvest cookbook.
Greens and Tahini Pesto
Ingredients: 2 cups of stems, 1/2 cup tahini, 1/2 cup lemon juice, salt, 1 small onion, or 1 or 2 garlic cloves. In the food processor process the stems and onion or garlic and then add the tahini. I had to drizzle in the lemon juice to get it to come off the sides. Then add salt to taste. Garnish with chopped mint. Serve as a dip or on roasted vegetables. I'm thinking of using this tonight as a topping for sliced roasted beets.
The following is the 6-year old version of the carrot pancake recipe. As you can guess from the motivation to type up the recipe, these were a hit. The only thing I helped with was the 1/8.
flaor apl sidr vinegr vanila oeel flax melk gingr nut meg sinumin alspis grind cerits1/8 tsp nutmegg gingr alspis 1/2 tsp salt mix
mix flax with melk
This week the focus was on carrots, which are plentiful right now.
One day I took several cups of leftover brown rice and mixed it with lentils, chopped up several carrots in my little mini-food-processor, sliced several green onions, and added close to a cup of sweetened cranberries. I didn't have any cashews or I would have added them. Instead, I added some raw sunflower seeds. Then I made a curried dressing with 1/2 cup mayo and 1/2 cup yogurt, about 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, a little lemon juice, salt, pepper, and mixed in 2 teaspoons turmeric, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, and 1 teaspoon garam masala, Frontier Brand, that we get from our co-op (the Common Ground coop in Urbana). To be honest, if I'd had curry powder I would have used it, but I didn't have any. I added some sparkling pear cider that we had in the fridge that needed to be used to thin it out. You could add apple juice or even just water, but the slight sweetness the pear cider gave it was really good. This turned out to be a very nice salad and it was very good the next day as well.
Chopped up carrots go really well with cold lentils and a dressing of any nationality; I almost made a salad like that tonight but ended up making a cold white bean salad with chopped fresh basil, cherry tomatoes cut in half, sliced green onions (did you guess those are also in season?) and a simple dressing with lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and finely chopped capers (I don't like them whole but I love the flavor they give when I mince them).
We tried a new kind of rice. We got it here in Champaign at Am-ko, and it is partially hulled brown rice. It still has 3 grams of fiber, and a nice chewy texture, but it isn't quite as chewy as regular brown rice, and I have to say it goes over big with the children. It feels like cheating a bit but it really is good. I used it again in a recipe I have for risotto with lemon, greens, and nutmeg, and it worked great as a substitute for Arborio rice, and it has more fiber than Arborio rice.
More carrot ideas: We made some really good carrot pancakes. I found the recipe when I was visiting the amazing blog of one of our CSA customers, which you can visit at http://veganlinda.blogspot.com/. The original carrot pancake recipe can be found at http://theppk.com/2010/11/carrot-cake-pancakes/ (this is the Post Punk Kitchen site). We made this with a gluten-free flour mix. If you're using a gluten-free mix I'd recommend a fairly hearty one with either brown rice flour or if you don't mind it, bean flour, because the one I used was a little fragile and wanted to burn before the pancake was cooked through. These need to cook a little longer on a slightly lower heat than your average pancakes. This is a vegan recipe and between the carrots and ground flax made a very nutritious and high fiber breakfast. Of course, we put maple syrup on them, well, my daughter did. I just ate them plain because they were already pretty sweet and delicious. Next time I'd serve them with plain sweetened yogurt (I use stevia, which works pretty well in dairy products, I think) mixed with a little vanilla extract (or store bought vanilla yogurt, or some other flavor--apricot comes to mind). For that matter, stewed fruit would be great with these.
Another day I made brown rice couscous with carrots and green beans. Sadly, this stuff just isn't as good as brown rice itself. Kind of boring. But I guess it's a good base for a really soupy stew or something it could soak up. However, the sliced carrots and pieces of fresh green beans that I cooked right in the broth with the couscous were really good and I like the idea in general of cooking carrots with grains.
Kale is still coming from the garden and farm. This week I made a dish that reminded me of Spain. I sauteed 1 onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil with several slices of chopped Canadian bacon (from the Moore's local family farm, purchased at the Urbana Saturday Farmer's Market) until they were quite soft and starting to brown, then added blanched, squeezed, and chopped kale, and sauteed that for awhile. We had this with a mess of boiled, peeled, and sliced fresh beets from the farm that we served with a simple dressing of apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Coming soon: the onslaught of the summer squash...don't worry, there really are ways to use all that zucchini!
The torta turned out lovely. I forgot to mention that I brushed the top with beaten egg before baking it. Here is a picture. I ended up using all Parmesan because I ran out of time and didn't want to grate any extra cheese and we already had grated Parmesan. We served it with a bowl of grape tomatoes and some pickled beets in a red wine vinaigrette (made with vinegar, Dijon, olive oil combo with a little agave, salt, pepper, and Provencal herbs).
This dish would have been just great without the yeasted crust. It would be just as good if not as pretty with a mix of bread crumbs and more cheese on top, like a gratin. This would be a lot more practical on a week night and honestly I think just as good. You could add another beaten egg and a little more ricotta or cottage cheese as well. Or even goat cheese. Even goat cheese with herbs, or garlic. Or any combo of those cheeses. Yum.
I noticed that our co-op, the Common Ground co-op in Urbana, is selling a shredded raw kale salad. The listed ingredients are carrots, bell peppers, green onion, sliced almonds, sesame seeds, tahini, Vegenaise, tamari, apple cider vinegar, ginger, and toasted sesame oil. I think Alice's original recipe also had an Asian dressing on it. I might go for rice vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar if I were doing an Asian version. I would also add some of that decadent but oh-so-convenient ginger paste that I keep in the fridge into the dressing.
Even though the raw kale salad was good, I like cooked kale even better. A couple of great sources for ideas to use greens are Martha Rose Shulman's book, Mediterannean Harvest and Rachel Ray on the Food network. I start many of my recipes for kale or chard or spinach or beet greens the same way, by rinsing them, removing the tough stems, and blanching them in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes. Then I put them in a strainer to drain, dump them in cool water in the salad spinner bottom, and chop them into smaller pieces. (I often chop them some to get more to fit into the pot before blanching). You can make several bags of greens, which keep in the fridge a couple of days, or you can freeze them, to use in various recipes.
Some quick ideas: Quesadillas with cheese, greens, onions, mushrooms, red or green bell peppers (or any one or combo of these veggies). I use Canola pan spray on a smallish pan, put down a tortilla, sprinkle cheese, thinly sliced onions, chopped greens, sliced mushrooms, a little more cheese then put down another tortilla and spray the top.It seems to help it not to curl up while the bottom is cooking if I spray the top a bit right away. Then I flip it and cook the other side. I also do these in the oven on a greased cookie sheet, same deal with the spray on top, fliping over to kind of lightly brown the other side, and it works fine, especially if I want to make a lot. Much easier than frying every one. We serve them with warmed up (usually canned but sometimes I succeed in planning ahead and cooking them from scratch) pinto beans that I often mix with a few tablespoons of canned diced mild green chilis, although you could use hot ones if you like the spicier variety, or refried beans, and chopped tomato, cilantro, and lime juice. Or just use bottled salsa, that's good too.
You can take this idea to another level by layering all the ingredients into a greased casserole and baking it. Then you're getting close to the delicious version of chilaquiles in the Moosewood Low Fat Vegetarian cookbook in which they use black beans instead of pintos. They also cook up a nice tomato sauce (I used our home-canned stewed tomatoes and mixed them with tomato paste, onions, salt), since you need more sauce to moisten everything. The first time I made this layered version my daughter said it was the best thing she ever ate. The next time I made it she was not so excited about it. Neither was I and I think it was partly that the cheese wasn't as good. I used a different kind of salsa too.
Another quick idea is to fry some onions, and garlic if you like, in olive oil in a biggish pot. Add a big can of either garbanzo beans or white beans, and handfuls of your chopped greens, until you get the ratio you like. I often serve this on pasta (we use the Tinkyada brand of rice pasta because we're gluten-intolerant) with lots of grated Parmesan cheese. You could also layer it on rustic crusty bread and bake it with grated cheese, like Parmesan or Gruyere.
Tonight I'm making a greens and potato torta adapted from Martha Rose Shulman's book, on page 232. I boiled potatoes and blanched a bunch of kale. Now I'm going to saute the onion in olive oil, add the greens and sliced potatoes, and several tablespoons of chopped basil that I picked this afternoon. She calls for parsley but ours is a little small yet so I'm going to just use basil. Then salt and pepper. Then she has you process till smooth 1 cup of ricotta cheese but I'm going to use cottage cheese and mix that with 2 beaten eggs and 2 tablespoons milk. Add this to the bowl with the veggies and 1/2 cup Parmesan. She also calls for Gruyere and I think I'll use some aged white cheddar that I have in place of that.. Add some fresh grated nutmeg. I'm going to get all this together and then I'm going to take some bread dough that I made (crusty boule recipe for gluten free bread in the Healthy Bread in 5 minutes a day cookbook, keeps in the fridge for a week or more) and roll it out to fit a greased pie pan. I'll bake it all in the roaster oven I keep on the back porch for baking on hot summer days. I'll let you know how this turns out.
So, actually, the kale salad was a pretty big hit and even I liked it. I have to report, though, that the raspberries, although pretty, did nothing at all for the flavor. So next time I'd leave them out.
It is July 4th, independence Day, and today, I dare to walk in the footsteps of Julie and Gretchen. OK, here goes. This is the first post of our new blog featuring recipes and cooking ideas as they unfold right in our kitchen. I've got the laptop on the counter and a stool to sit on. We will share with you what we do with the produce from our farm, the Mulberries Farm and Orchard, as well as other related cooking and food ideas. I look forward to hearing ideas from our readers.
We're invited to two neighborhood parties today, both of them potlucks. So what to bring? MJ has a huge cooler full of Red Russian kale in the basement. OK, it's really green, but it has a little red in it and it has red in the name. We also have green onions, which are actually white on the bottom. I'm not sure yet where I'll get the blue but let's see how this unfolds. This recipe is inspired by MJ's sister, Alice.
Independence Day Red, White, and Blue Kale Slaw
Take two big bunches of kale and wash it well. We soak it in the sink first in cold water, gently rub each leaf, and shake off the water. If it seems really clean already sometimes I just cut it up first, soak it right in the salad spinner, and then whirl it dry. A salad spinner is a really useful tool if you like to eat greens. For this recipe it would be good to have the greens clean first because we're going to cut them in in super thin strips like the way people cut up lettuce to put on tacos or cabbage to put in spring rolls (one of these days I'll get that recipe on here). Remove the thick stems from each leaf and compost them. Then, stack them up and use a big sharp chopping knife to cut them into thin julienne strips. Next combine 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar with a 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt (Himalayan pink salt goes good with the July 4th theme), or salt to taste, about a tablespoon of honey or agave syrup, and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard. Then whisk in about 1/3 cup of fruity olive oil. You could also use a different kind of oil, like Walnut oil, for an interesting flavor twist. Taste the dressing to see if you need to adjust the sweet/sour/salty ratio. Toss the dressing with the kale. Add about 1/4 cup of finely sliced tender green onions (the white part, for this recipe). Now add a cup of blueberries. They work well with the apple cider vinegar base. (You could also mix in baby beets (boiled and cooled) or freshly grated beets as a garnish. I think the freshly grated beets would be good and mega-healthy).
We ended up also garnishing the dish with raspberries, for color. The red in Red Russian just didn't speak loudly enough. It looked really very pretty with the bright green kale and red raspberries. To be honest. this isn't my favorite way to use kale, but MJ had her heart set on it, so I went with it. Stay tuned for more ways to cook greens.