Sunday, June 24, 2012

Grilled Snap Peas

Grilling briefly over high heat brings out the sweetness of the peas and adds a nice smoky note to the flavor while still leaving them with a good crunch.  Feel free to vary the seasonings.  You'll need a grill basket for this.

1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp spicy mustard
1 tsp sugar or honey
1/2 lb snap peas, stemmed
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine the oil, mustard, and sugar or honey in small bowl and mix well.  Place the snap peas in a medium bowl and add the dressing, then toss to coat.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Get the grill nice and hot, then place the peas in the grill basket and grill for 3-5 minutes, stirring once or twice.  They should brown a bit but not get charred or soft.  Serve hot.

Serves about 4.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Pasta Salad with Snap Peas and Herbs

Another cold dish for another hot June day.  If you like, you can beef this up into more of a main dish by adding tuna (3 cans is about right), cooked shredded chicken, or cooked beans.  Feel free to substitute shelled English peas for the snap peas, or even fava beans or edamame.  You can also mix up the herbs for different flavor profiles: try mint, cilantro, or dill here in place of the basil and/or parsley.

1 lb pasta, cooked and cooled
3-4 cups diced snap peas
1 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp minced garlic scapes
1 cup chopped chives
1/2 - 1 cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well until everything is coated with mayo and ingredients are evenly distributed.  Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Serves about 6.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler

I guess this is sort of a cross between Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp and Strawberry Shortcake.  Another delicious variation on a theme.  Under no circumstances should you skip the whipped cream.  The cobbler topping is the cream biscuits recipe from Alice Water's The Art of Simple Food, and it's the best I've had.

6-7 cups combined whole strawberries and rhubarb in 1-inch chunks
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp white sugar
1 1/2 cups + 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbsp cold butter, in small pieces
1 pint heavy cream
1-2 Tbsp confectioners sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Butter an 8x8-inch baking dish.

Combine the strawberries and rhubarb in a mixing bowl with 1/2 cup white sugar and 2 Tbsp flour and toss well to coat.  Set aside while you make the dough for the topping.

Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the butter and cut in with a pastry cutter or two knives until it is peas-sized or smaller.  Add 3/4 cup cream and stir with a fork until the dough just comes together.  If it's too dry, add more cream a little drizzle at a time until you can form the dough into a rough ball in your hands.  Transfer it to a lightly floured surface and press it out with your hands until it is a size that will more or less cover the baking dish.

Pour the fruit into the baking dish and place the dough over it (it should be contained within the dish, not hang over).  Bake for 45-55 minutes, until the dough is cooked through and golden brown, and the fruit is bubbling.  Let cool on a rack.

While the cobbler bakes, whip the rest of the cream with the confectioners sugar and refrigerate until ready to use.

Serve the cobbler warm or room temperature with a generous helping of whipped cream on top.

Serves 6-8.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Chipotle Chard Polenta

I bought a big batch of Swiss chard at the farmers market last weekend, can you tell?

3 cups water
1 cup polenta cornmeal
1 tsp salt
Olive oil
1/2 cup garlic scapes
1/2 - 1 cups chopped spring onions
4 cups chopped Swiss chard
1 large chipotle pepper in adobe sauce, seeds removed (or more to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 - 3/4 cup tomato sauce
3-4 oz. shredded sharp cheddar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the salt, and whisk in the polenta meal. Lower the heat to a simmer and continue to stir with a spoon. Be careful, as the cooking polenta is viscous and can bubble up and burn you. Cooking time will vary with the type of polenta you are using. The kind I get at Green Fields Market, in the bulk section, thickens up very quickly. You want it to be pretty stiff for this application. When the polenta is cooked, remove from heat, cover, and set aside for now.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.  Ad the scapes and onions and saute until tender, 3-5 minutes.  Add the chard and chipotle and saute until the chard is nicely wilted.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Oil a 10-inch oven-proof skillet or a 7x11-inch baking dish. Spread the cooked polenta in the bottom. Spread the tomato sauce over the polenta, then add the chard mixture.  Top with cheddar.

Bake the polenta for about 15 minutes, until the cheese begins to brown. Serve hot.

Serves about 4.

Monday, June 4, 2012

White Bean Stew with Sausage and Chard

It may be June, but on a chilly wet day like today, stew seemed to be in order.  I used my last package of frozen roasted tomatoes here.  With luck, we'll have fresh ones in the garden by late next month.

Olive oil
3/4 cup finely diced garlic scapes (or 4 cloves garlic, minced)
1 lb Italian sausage (casings removed)
3 cups cooked white beans
1-2 cups diced tomatoes (frozen and thawed or canned, optional)
2 cups chicken stock
1 Tbsp dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste
3-4 cups well chopped Swiss chard

Heat some olive oil in a soup pot.  Add the scapes and saute for 2 minutes or so.  Add the sausage and cook until nicely browned.  Add the beans, tomatoes (if using), stock, basil, and salt and pepper.  Simmer for 10 minutes or so, then add the chard.  Cook until well wilted, then serve.

Serves 4-5.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Ingredients to Pair With Asparagus

Now that it's June, the novelty of the early season has worn off - and if you have a patch of your own you've been eating it almost daily for long enough that you're getting desperate for new ideas.  There are many recipes in the archives here, but I thought I've give some more general ideas, too.  Asparagus is a versatile vegetable.  Trying pairing it with:

1. Pork: chorizo, bacon, ham, proscuitto...
2. Eggs: in frittatas, scrambles, quiches, topped with fried eggs...
3. Cheese: goat cheese, feta, cheddar, Parmesan...
4. Mushrooms: especially flavorful wild mushrooms

And with many different types of seasonings:

1. Garlic: always good, whether roasted, grilled, sauteed...
2. Mustard: try a mustard-shallot marinade or sauce
3. Asian flavors: soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger...try these as marinades or sauces, or toss it right into a stir fry
4. Curry: Indian or Thai, it works well in both
5. Herbs: basil, tarragon, dill

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Asparagus Bacon Frittata

Our kitchen is functional again!  (Beautiful, too.)  To celebrate having plumbing and a working stove again, I cooked.

This recipe works best if you have two skillets available.  You'll want a clean 10-inch oven-proof one to cook the frittata in; you can saute the other ingredients in another.

4-5 slices bacon
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 cups sliced asparagus (in rounds)
Salt and pepper
6 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Cook the bacon in a large skillet, then drain on paper towels.  Pour off most of the bacon fat, then add the onions and saute for 2-3 minutes.  Add the asparagus and continue to saute over medium heat until tender, about 3-5 minutes depending on the size of the pieces.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

While the bacon and vegetables cook, combine the eggs and Parmesan in a medium bowl.  Chop the bacon once it is cool enough to handle and add to the eggs.  When the vegetables are ready, stir them in as well.

Take a 10-inch ovenproof skillet and oil it well.  Heat over medium heat, then pour in the egg mixture and level it out.  Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the eggs are partially set.  Turn on the broiler.  Finish cooking the frittata under the broiler for 3-5 minutes; check for doneness by inserting a knife into the middle.  Watch it carefully to avoid overcooking or burning.

Serve hot, warm, or room temperature.

Serves about 4.