Monday, June 27, 2011

Roasted Fennel and Scapes with Parmesan

Fennel turns sweet, soft, and mild when you roast it. If you'd like to make this without scapes, or in a different season, you can skip them or substitute several whole garlic cloves.

2 medium fennel bulbs, coarsely chopped
5-6 garlic scapes, chopped
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Rinse the fennel well, as it sometimes collects dirt between the layers. Place it in a baking pan (7x11 inches or so) and add the scapes. Drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.

Cover the baking pan with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the fennel and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and turn on the broiler. Sprinkle the cheese over the fennel, then broil for about 3 minutes, until golden. Serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Variation: Late in the summer or in the fall, try substituting leeks for the scapes.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fresh Strawberry Mint Sauce

Use this as a topping for grilled or broiled chicken, pork, or white fish. It's sweet and tangy all at once (unless your berries are extra super sweet, you'll need a little sugar or it won't quite taste right). If you like, experiment with different herbs: in place of the mint, try cilantro or basil.

1 cup minced fresh strawberries
1/2 tsp lime juice (or to taste)
2 tsp minced fresh mint (or to taste)
Salt to taste
Sugar to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, ideally at least an hour before serving so the flavor can meld. Refrigerate if not serving within an hour.

Makes about 1 cup, enough to serve 4.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Scape and Cilantro Scramble

This made for a quick supper on a night when I was in a hurry, but if you like bold flavors with your breakfast or brunch it would work there, too.

8 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup chopped garlic scapes
Salsa or hot sauce for topping (optional)

Stir together the eggs, cheddar, and cilantro in a medium bowl, then add salt and pepper. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a large skillet, then add the scapes and saute for 2-3 minutes. Pour in the egg mixture and cook over low-medium heat, stirring, until the eggs are cooked through.

Serve hot, topped with hot sauce or salsa if you like.

Serves 3-4.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Strawberries, Strawberries, Strawberries

It's mid-June and that means it's the height of strawberry season. This morning we went over to Upinngil Farm and picked about 19 pounds. My husband and son picked another 9 pounds or so earlier this week. At the moment I've got strawberries in the freezer, strawberries in the dehydrator, and strawberries and rhubarb simmering on the stove to make jam. Mmmm.

To freeze whole strawberries, wash them well, then hull them and cut out any bad spots. If you have time, freeze them on trays for several hours, then package them in freezer bags (I use quart size). Otherwise, just put them straight into bags and freeze. The advantage of tray freezing is that it keeps them separate so you can take out just a few at a time instead of having to thaw the whole package. If you just put them straight into bags they will stick together.

I use a home dehydrator to dry strawberries, as I do for tomatoes, peaches, apples, and pears. Wash and hull the berries, then slice in half and arrange them on the trays. Dry until there is no moisture left in them; they will be somewhere between leathery and crisp. Store in an airtight container. They'll keep even longer if you store them in the freezer. I like to stir them into my oatmeal in the winter.

Strawberry season is short, especially the u-pick season, so if you haven't gotten out there yet, you should do it in the next week or you'll risk missing out.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fennel Scape Risotto with Sausage

Way yummy. You can skip the sausage if you want and serve the risotto as a side dish. With the sausage it's good as an entree. The instructions below are to make risotto in the pressure cooker (so easy! and good!), but you can always do it the old fashioned way if you prefer. Skip the scapes if it's the wrong season - you can add some minced garlic or another shallot as a substitute.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small shallot (optional)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
3 1/2 cups warm chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 lb hot or sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 medium fennel bulb, diced (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 cup chopped garlic scapes
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in the bottom of the pressure cooker, then add the shallots and saute over medium-high heat for about a minute. Add the rice and saute for another 1-2 minutes, until it turns translucent and becomes fragrant. Pour in the broth, cover and lock the lid, and bring to pressure. Cook for seven minutes at high pressure, then release the pressure, let sit for a minute, and stir gently.

While the rice cooks, cook the sausage in a large skillet. When it is nicely browned, add the fennel and scapes and cook until tender.

When everything is done, combine it all and serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pizza with Pesto and Asparagus

Asparagus season continues. Local basil is starting to make an appearance, too; if you like, you can make fresh pesto with scapes instead of regular garlic. I'm still using the last few packets of pesto that I froze last summer, along with the tomatoes I dried at the same time.

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
1/2 cup basil pesto
12 oz. asparagus, tough ends snapped off, sliced in rounds
1/4 cup dried tomatoes, rehydrated in hot water and diced (optional)
3-4 oz. shredded mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Lightly paint the pizza curst with olive oil, then spread it with the pesto. Spread the asparagus and dried tomatoes (if using) over the pesto, then top with mozzarella. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the crust is done and cheese begins to brown.

Serves 3-4.

Variations: 1) use parsley-mint pesto or green garlic/scape pesto instead of basil. 2) skip the mozzarella and top with crumbled feta or goat cheese.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Lentil Barley Soup with Spinach and Shiitakes

Lentils and barley make a great, nutritious base for a soup to which you can add whatever types of vegetables are in season. In the winter I use root vegetables; in the spring, greens and mushrooms.

1 Tbsp olive oil
8-10 garlic scapes, sliced in rounds (or 5-6 cloves garlic, minced)
1/4 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
3/4 cup pearl barley
1/2 cup brown lentils
Water and/or stock (vegetable or beef)
6-8 oz. spinach, stemmed and chopped
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp dry sherry
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the scapes and mushrooms and saute until tender, 3-5 minutes. Add the barley and lentils and enough water or stock to cover by about an inch. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until lentils and barley are tender, about 25-30 minutes.

When the barley and lentils are tender, add the spinach and cook until wilted. Add the soy sauce and sherry, then salt and pepper to taste.

Serves about 6.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Massaman Curry with Ground Beef and Spinach

Massaman curry is a Thai curry with Indian influences, mainly in the use of ground dry spices, and if you haven't tried it, it's wonderful. The list of ingredients to make the paste is long, but it's not difficult. The paste keeps well (i.e. for months) in the fridge. One batch from this recipe will make about two curries, but you can easily double or triple it if you want. This is great in the winter with root vegetables, too. Serve over rice.

Massaman curry paste
1/4 cup dry roasted unsalted peanuts
2 shallots, chopped
5 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp minced ginger root
1 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
Hot chilis to taste (I used 2) or ground cayenne
2 Tbsp fish sauce (optional but recommended)
1 tsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp lime juice or to taste

To make the massaman curry paste, combine all ingredients in a mini food processor or mortar and pestle and process until it forms a nice paste. Use or refrigerate in a sealed container.

Curry dish
2 lbs ground beef
1/4 cup massaman curry paste
1 tsp red curry paste (optional but good; adds heat)
1 14-oz can coconut milk (lite is fine)
6-8 garlic scapes, chopped
1 lb potatoes, peeled and cubed (optional but good)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 - 1/2 lb spinach, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1 bunch scallions, sliced in rounds (optional)

To make the curry dish, start by browning the beef in a Dutch oven or other large pot. Pour off the fat, then add the the massaman curry paste and the red curry paste if using and stir to distribute well. Add the coconut milk, scapes, and potatoes and sprinkle in some salt and pepper. Cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender, 15 minutes or so.

When the potatoes are tender, uncover the pot and add the spinach and scallions (if using). Cook until tender, a few minutes, then remove from heat.

Serve hot over rice.

Serves about 6.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Gingery Late Spring Stir-Fry with Scapes, Scallions, and Greens

If this recipe sounds a bit like one I posted a month ago, you're right. It's a good example of how I take a basic recipe concept and adjust it through the year depending on what's in season at any given moment. In early May we had storage onions and garlic to mix with fresh greens; now that it's June we have scapes (or use green garlic) and scallions. I made this with Swiss chard, but spinach, arugula, kale, mustard greens, etc. would all work fine. If you use chard, put the diced stems in at the same time as the scapes and scallions.

Feel free to substitute chicken, tofu, tempeh, or whatever other protein you like for the steak.

2 Tbsp canola oil
1 lb not-too-fancy steak (like London broil or top round)
1/4 cup soy sauce, or more to taste
6-8 scapes, in 1/8-1/4-inch rounds
1 bunch scallions or spring onions, sliced in rounds (white and green parts)
1 Tbsp minced ginger
3/4 lb greens, washed and stemmed if needed (chop or not, as desired)
1 Tbsp corn starch
Salt to taste
Hot sauce (optional)

Slice the steak against the grain, about 1/4-inch thick, with slices about 2 inches long. Place it in a bowl, add 1/4 cup soy sauce, and toss to coat. Let stand for 5-10 minutes (more if you have time).

Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a wok or very large skillet. Scoop the steak out of its bowl, leaving excess liquid behind, and cook over high heat until it reaches your desired level of doneness. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the remaining 1 Tbsp of oil to the wok or skillet, then add the scapes, scallions, and ginger. Stir fry over medium high heat for 3-4 minutes, then add the greens (you may have to do this in batches). Cook the greens until wilted, then add the steak back in and remove the pan from the heat.

Mix the corn starch into the soy sauce remaining from marinating the beef, then pour it into the pan. Return the pan to the heat, briefly, until the sauce thickens. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Serve hot, over rice. If desired, add hot sauce at the table.

Serves 4-6.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Green Garlic and Barley Pilaf

This makes a nice side dish alongside grilled pork chops, steak, roast chicken, or the like. Feel free to mix this up with other whole grains such as quinoa or millet - use all one or a combination. You can use hull barley instead of pearl if you like, but it will take about twice as long to cook and will remain chewy in texture.

1 cup pearl barley (or other grains)
3 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
2 Tbsp olive oil
5-6 stalks green garlic, finely chopped (as far up as seems tender)
1-2 Tbsp minced fresh sage leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 cups julienned sorrel or arugula leaves (optional)

Combine the barley and stock in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes, until the barley is tender and all the water is absorbed.

While you cook the barley, heat the olive oil in a skillet and saute the garlic for 2-3 minutes. Add the sage and continue to saute briefly. Remove from heat and set aside.

When the barley is done, stir in the garlic mixture. Taste and add salt and pepper if desired. If using, stir ig the sorrel or arugula. Serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pizza with Asparagus and Egg on Top

There's sort of a deconstructed hollandaise kind of thing going on here, with the egg and lemon zest. It's a great combination with the asparagus. I also really enjoyed the first fresh parsley of the season, from the farmers market. The hardier herbs are starting to be more available now - mint, parsley, sage, etc.

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 lb asparagus, tough ends snapped off, in 1/4-inch rounds
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp lemon zest (or sprinkle lightly with lemon juice)
2-3 oz. shredded mozzarella
4 eggs

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Paint the crust lightly with olive oil, then spread the tomato sauce over it. Sprinkle with asparagus, parsley, and lemon zest, then the mozzarella. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Remove pizza from oven and carefully crack the eggs over the top, evenly distributed. Even more carefully, put the pizza back back in the oven and bake for another 3-5 minutes, until the eggs are cooked; the yolks should still be quite gooey.

Serves 3-4.