The New York Times has an extensive recipe collection that I’ve often used when looking for ideas for cooking. If you have a subscription to the Times, the recipe box feature is worth the price of a NYT subscription, and their newsletter, What to Cook This Week, is an extraordinary resource.
With cooler Fall temperatures setting in, this week I’ve begun to put more soups and stews into our meal-planning rotations. With some beautiful carrots and a fennel bulb in our CSA Share, this recipe for Carrot-and-Fennel Soup from Amanda Hesser was truly serendipitous.
I did make a modification by substituting 0% Greek Yogurt for Sour Cream which didn’t feel as if it impacted the texture or flavor.
We’re nearing the end of our 20-week Summer CSA and finding more Fall veggies in our share. This week, we were introduced to a new one: Romanesco. To me, it’s odd shape and more nutty flavor reminded me of cauliflower, but it seemed to hold up better in cooking. Not sure how to deal with prepping this vegetable? A Beautiful Plate, the source for this recipe, has a great how-to.
1 heaping cup chopped Italian parsley leaves, lightly packed (more for garnishing)
1 lb dried linguini or fettucine pasta (we ended up needing only half pound)
freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese for serving (optional)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F with rack in center position.
Trim and discard the base of the Romanesco and cut it in half, then quarters. Standing each quarter upright & holding your knife at an angle, trim the florets from the core. Most of the florets will fall off or can easily be separated with your fingers (you want the florets to be no larger than an inch in diameter); cut any larger florets in half with a knife to match the size of the other florets.
Place the florets on a half-sheet pan and toss with 1 TBSP of olive oil, kosher salt & freshly ground pepper. Distribute the florets, cut-side down, into an even layer, making sure the florets aren’t touching each other if possible. Roast at 450 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, tossing halfway, or until carmelized and tender.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Heat the remaining olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and saute for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring continuously, or until fragrant. Do not allow it to gain color (this can happen quickly!). Add the kalamata olives, capers, and red pepper flakes to the pan and saute for an additional minute or until warm. Taste for salt and pepper. Add half of the parsley to the skillet and keep the mixture warm – off the heat – as you cook the pasta.
Boil the pasta until it is al dente, reserving a cup of cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot and add the kalamata olive and caper mixture and roasted Romanesco. Toss the mixutre together gently, adding the remaining chopped parsley, and a touch of extra virgin olive oil and reserved cooking water if dry. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve immediately and garnish with chopped parsley and parmigiana cheese as desired.
We’ve been enjoying our CSA Share from Farmer Dave for the last 3 months. This week, however, we were presented with one ginormous cabbage for which just two of us were somewhat at a loss for how to use it up. Yes, we did find a way to blanche and freeze part of it, but as condo dwellers, our freezer space is at a minimum. Here, however, is a great way to use half of a head of cabbage: soup!
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
2 c water
1/2 large head cabbage, chopped
1 15-oz. can fire roasted chopped tomatoes
pinch red pepper flakes
2 TBSP freshly chopped parsley (more for garnish)
In large pot over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add onions, carrots and celery, and season with salt, pepper, and chili powder. Cook stirring often, until vegetables are soft (5-6 minutes. Stir in beans, garlic, and thyme and cook until garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add broth and water (I withheld the water until I knew I needed to add it) and bring to a simmer.
Stir in tomatoes and cabbage and simmer until cabbage is wilted – about 6 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in red pepper flakes, and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with more parsley if using.
We’re coming to the close of our CSA Share for the regular season, and while it has been a positive experience, it is sometimes a challenge to find uses for some of the more unfamiliar items in our share. This week I was introduced to Aji Dulce peppers. Looking vaguely like Scotch Bonnet peppers, I wasn’t sure how we would make good use of a half-pint of them.
However, as I’ve learned this summer, not everything is what it seems. Although there is a bit of heat to an Aji Dulce pepper, they are on the milder side (of hot stuff anyway). As always, Farmer Dave (click the link to explore the CSA options) offers some great ideas for using the produce in our share, this recipe coming from one of the Farm’s crew members, Bonifacio.
I turned the whole lot of peppers into a Puerto Rican style Sofrito which will be used to flavor soups and stews all winter long (froze a portion into ice-cube sized portions).
Some time in the middle of all “THIS” as we refer to our Coronavirus isolation, Adrien began to take-over responsibility of Sunday meals. The rest of the week, I usually plan for and we jointly prepare whatever we are eating. I actually like to cook so it was never a chore once I stopped feeling the pressure from my teaching career. However, apparently I am “too bossy” to work with in the kitchen, so we’ve worked out this arrangement where I stay out of Sunday meal planning and prep.
With a lot of corn in our recent CSA box – and a ton of tomatoes and cukes – Adrien found this salad from Holly Nilsson on the Spend with Pennies website. It is a welcome summer dish and very adaptable to whatever is growing that suits your fancy.
Easy Corn Salad
Ingredients – again, add or substitute what you have. If you like kohlrabi in place of cukes, go for it.
3 TBSP vinegar (cider or rice)
3 cups of corn kernals from about 4 cobs
1 cup of quartered cherry tomatoes
1 cup diced cucumbers
1/4 cup red onion (we had a vidalia, still tasty)
3 TBSP olive oil
3 TBSP cider vinegar/rice vinegar/ or another lighter vinegar (probably not great with darker Balsamic vinegars)
Salt, Pepper to taste
1 TBSP fresh parsley
Dill or basil (optional)
Prepare the corn by boiling or grilling and remove the kernals from the cob. Put all of the ingredients into a bowl and toss.
In the process of using up an eggplant from our CSA Share yesterday (Google it – there are a million great sounding recipes for roasted eggplant dips), I discovered we had no actual bread in the house. Wheat thins didn’t seem like the appropriate vehicle for a Middle-eastern Dip, so I began looking at exactly what the skill level for Pita Bread might be. Whatever that skill level is, I can tell you that homemade Pita bread is worth the effort. Warm, soft, and with a great homemade bread aroma filling our home, I’m pretty sure we won’t be buying that pre-sealed and often dried out version from our local grocer.
This recipe comes courtesy of the New York Times and was developed by David Tanis. It is delicious (did I already say that?), and I discovered that by sealing the dough balls in plastic and storing the in refrigerator, I could make fresh-from-the-oven Pita bread the very next day. One suggestion that I found made a huge difference: up the oven temperature to 500 degrees F and set a pizza stone in the oven. Heat that for about 20-30 minutes before baking.
Make sponge: Put 1 cup lukewarm water in a large mixing bowl. Add yeast and sugar. Stir to dissolve. Add the whole-wheat flour and 1/4 cup all purpose flour and whisk together. Put bowl in a warm (not hot) place, uncovered, until mixture is frothy and bubbling – about 15 minutes.
Add salt, olive oil and nearly all remaining all-purpose flour (reserve 1/2 cup). With a wooden spoon, stir until mixture forms a shaggy mass. Dust with a little reserved flour, then knead in bowl for 1 minute, incorporating any stray bits of dry dough.
Turn dough onto work surface. Knead lightly for 2 minutes until smooth. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes, then knead again for 2 minutes. Try not to add too much of the reserved flour; the dough should be soft and a bit moist (can be refrigerated at this point for several hours of overnight – bring dough back to room temp, knead into a ball and proceed with recipe).
Clean the mixing bowl and put dough back in it. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, then cover with a town. Put bowl in a warm (not hot) place. Leave dough until it has doubled in size – about 1 hour.
Heat over to 475 degrees F (I upped mine – see note). On bottom shelf of oven, place a heavy duty baking sheet, large cast-iron pan or ceramic baking tile. Punch down dough and divide into 8 equal-sized pieces. Form each piece into a little ball. Place dough balls on work surface, cover with a damp towel and leave for 10 minutes.
Remove 1 ball (keep others covered until using) and press into a flat disk with rolling pin. Roll to a 6-inch circle, then to an 8-inch diameter about 1/8 inch thick, dusting with flour as needed.
Carefully lift the dough circle and place quickly on hot baking sheet. After 2 minutes the dough should be nicely puffed. Turn disk over with tongs or spatula and bake 1 minute more. The pita should be pale, with only a few brown speckles. Transfer warm pita to a napkin-lined basket and cover so bread stays soft. Repeat with the rest of the dough ball.
Prepare the cake: preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 10-cup Bundt pan with baking spray (or just oil it). Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Place eggs, sugar and oil in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until light and airy (about 3 minutes), stopping to scrape down sides as needed. Stir in the squash, lemon zest and juice. Gradually add flour mixture, beating on low speed until just combined (about 45 seconds). Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake in preheated oven until a wood pick inserted in the center comes out clean (50-55 minutes). Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Invert onto wire rack and cool for 1 hour.
Prepare the glaze. Whisk together all ingredients into a bowl until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cake.
Because we’ve received a really (really, really) large amount of zucchini, I’ve developed a new appreciation for gardeners and the creative recipes so many people share to help use up zucchini crops. We’ve had some delicious muffins (thanks Joanne Chang-Meyers) and today, we baked this delicious and moist Vegan Zucchini Bread recipe from the website Nora Cooks.
1/4 cup canola oil (also suggested were coconut oil, vegan butter or applesauce for those wanting to bake oil-free version)
1/3 cup almond milk
1 TBSP ground flaxseeds
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup grated zucchini (about 1 medium)
1 1/2 cups white or whole wheat all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
OPTIONAL: 1 cup dairy free chocolate chips or walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard 9×5 loaf pan with parchment or spray with oil.
In a large bowl, add the oil, almond milk, ground flaxseeds, brown sugar and vanilla. Whisk well until combined.
Lightly blow the grated zucchini with paper towels and add to the bowl. Stir the zucchini into the wet ingredients.
Now add the flour to the wet ingredients. Sprinkle the baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon on top of the flour. Stir gently until just combined, being carful not to over-mix or the loaf will be too dense.
Fold in walnuts or chocolate chips if using. Pour into the prepared pan, and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let it cool in the pan for a few minutes, then transfer the loaf to cool on a rack. Slice and enjoy.
Can also be made into muffins (12). Oil a muffin pan, spoon batter nearly to the top of each muffin cup and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.
If necessity is the mother of invention, then overabundance is the brainchild of resourcefulness.
This week our CSA share was filled with zucchini squash. In an effort to not waste a single thing, I turned to using zucchini in baked goods. After all, isn’t that what everyone does with an over-abundance of zucchini?
Joanne Chang’s Flour Bakery shares a killer Good Morning muffin in the first Flour Bakery cookbook. While similar to the morning glory muffins, this one is chock full of fruits, nuts, and…. zucchini.
Good Morning Muffins
1/2 cup wheat bran
1/2 cup hot water
1 small zucchini, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup pecan halves, roughly chopped and toasted
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped (about 1 cup)
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a standard 12-cup muffin tin, coat with non-stick spray or line with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, stir together the wheat bran and hot water until the bran is completely moistened. Add zucchini, raisins, pecans, coconut, and apple. Stir until well mixed.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat together the sugar and eggs on medium speed for 3-4 minutes or until the mixture thickens and lightens. On low speed, slowly drizzle in the oil and then the vanilla. Add it slowly so as not to deflate the air you have just beaten into the eggs (should take about a minute). Remove from the stand mixer.
In medium bowl, stir together the flour, oats, baking powder, salt and cinnamon until well mixed. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and fold carefully just until the dry and wet mixtures are well combined. Then add the bran mixture and fold again just until well combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, dividing it evenly and filling the cups to the rim (almost overflowing).
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until the muffins are lightly browned on top and spring back when pressed in the middle with a fingertip. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan.
The muffins taste best the day you bake them, but then can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. If you keep them for longer than one day, refresh them in a 300 degree F oven for 4 to 5 minutes. Or you can freeze them, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap for up to 1 week; reheat, directly from freezer in a 300 degree F oven for 8-10 minutes.
Melissa Clark, who has been contributing to the New York Times Food Columns since 2007, has a wonderful new cookbook out this summer – Dinner in French. Inspired by time spent by her family in France, the recipes included in this book were just what we needed this summer as we limited our outside worldly travels to self-quarantining during COVID-19. If you, like us, are missing traveling and all things France, this is one way to be transported.
Gazpacho by Way of Provence is a perfect combination of watermelon, fresh tomatoes, shallots, garlic and basil. Topped with fresh crouton, more fresh basil, and a drizzle of olive oil, it was a perfect dinner for a very warm summer night.
Unlike the Spanish versions, there are no cukes and the sting of jalepeno, while included, is less pronounced. This one is definitely going into our summer rotation. The recipe can be found in the link below; however, if you love French food and French cooking, the book is a great investment – and you won’t be disappointed.