Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Red and White Potato Salad with Dill

New potatoes are coming out of the ground right now, and they make for a truly excellent potato salad. This one combines red and white potatoes for the visual effect, but feel free to use all of one kind (I suggest red in that case).

3 lbs new potatoes, washed but not peeled
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
Black pepper to taste
1/3 - 1/2 large red onion, finely chopped (about 1/2-3/4 cup)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup good quality olive oil

Cut the potatoes into bite sized chunks. Boil in a large pot of salted water until nice and tender, 10-15 minutes. Drain cool to room temperature. .

Place the potatoes in a large mixing bowl. Combine the vinegar, salt and pepper and drizzle over the potatoes, tossing gently to coat. Let sit for 5-10 minutes so the potatoes can absorb some of the vinegar.

Add the onion, parsley, and dill to the potatoes and mix gently. Drizzle with olive oil and gently toss to coat. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Serves 6-8.

White Currant Sorbet

We got just enough fruit off our white current bush this year to make this sorbet. It was experimental, and I was pleased with the result. The full depth of the currant flavor really comes through. It also comes out a lovely hue - not only are white currants actually a pale peach color when ripe, but the fruit takes on some of the color of the seeds as it cooks.

I used my ice cream maker for this (1.5 qt), but you can also make sorbet without one: freeze the fruit mixture for several hours in a baking pan or other shallow dish, then pry it out in chunks and run it through the food processor just before serving to get the texture right.

4 cups stemmed and washed white currants
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups white sugar

Fresh white currants, washed and ready

Combine all ingredients in a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the skins separate from the fruit. Put the mixture through a food mill or press it through a sieve to remove the seeds and skins.

Chill the currant mixture until cold in the refrigerator, then either put it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions or freeze.

Serves about 6.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Asian Noodle Bowl with Bok Choy, Bacon, and Scapes

A chance of pace from stir fries, and easy to assemble. Some shiitake mushrooms would not go amiss here, but I didn't happen to have any when I made this.

1 lb linguine or spaghetti (or Asian noodles if you have them)
2 Tbsp sesame oil
1/2 lb bacon, diced
3-4 Tbsp minced ginger root
1-1 1/2 cups chopped garlic scapes
1 lb bok choy, sliced
1/4 cup soy sauce
Asian hot sauce (optional)

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water. Drain, toss with the sesame oil, and set aside.

Cook the bacon in a large skillet or wok until chewy. Remove and drain on paper towels. Pour off most of the bacon fat, leaving 1-2 Tbsp.

Add the ginger and scapes to the skillet or wok and saute for about 2 minutes. Add the bok choy and stir fry until tender. Stir in the soy sauce and mix well to coat.

Assemble each bowl by placing a serving of noodles in the bottom, then adding the bok choy mixture and the bacon on top. Serve with additional soy sauce or hot sauce if desired.

Serves 4-5.

Asian Snow Pea and Carrot Salad

A quick and simple summer salad straight from the garden. Substitute snap peas if you like.

1/2 lb snow peas in 1-inch lengths
1/4 early carrots, sliced thinly on the diagonal
1 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar

Combine the vegetables in a bowl. Combine the oil, soy sauce, and rice vinegar and mix well, then dress the vegetables. Serve immediately.

Serves about 4.

Pasta with Summer Squash, Sausage, and Basil

A good summery dish, loaded with the produce of the garden.

1 lb cut pasta such as fusilli
Olive oil
1 lb sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
2 medium onions, sliced lengthwise
1 cup sliced garlic scapes (or 5-6 minced garlic cloves)
1 1/2 - 2 lbs summer squash and/or zucchini, shredded
2-3 cups fresh basil, sliced into ribbons
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan for topping

Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water. Drain and toss with a little olive oil.

While the pasta cooks, cook the sausage in a large skillet, breaking it apart as it cooks. Set aside when done.

Pour off most of the fat from cooking the basil, then add the onions and scapes and saute over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the squash and cook, stirring often, until tender. Stir in the basil and add salt and pepper to taste.

Toss the squash mixture with the pasta. Serve hot, topped with Parmesan at the table.

Serves 4-6.

Mint-Pea Pesto with Feta and Walnuts

We accidentally planted shell peas this year after my husband bought a packet of seeds he thought were sugar snaps. But shell peas are delicious, too, and this is a nice way to enjoy them fresh.

1 cup fresh shelled peas
1 cup walnut pieces, lightly toasted and cooled
1 cup fresh mint
2-3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup crumbled feta, or to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
2-3 tsp lemon juice, or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

If your peas are small and sweet, you can use them raw. If they have developed a little bitter aftertaste, give them a quick steam until they are just barely tender.

Combine 1 cup of the peas with the walnuts, mint, garlic, and feta in a food processor. Add the olive oil and lemon juice and process until fairly smooth. Thin with a little water (pasta cooking water is perfect for this).

Serve this with pasta, tossing in another cup or two of fresh peas.

Makes enough to sauce 1 lb of cooked pasta.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Raspberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

This is REALLY good. The raspberries make the perfect sharp counterpoint to the richness of the cream cheese. And it really does taste like cheesecake. Even if you're using fresh raspberries, freeze them first so you can get small chunks instead of puree. This recipe is designed for a 1.5 quart ice cream maker.

3/4 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups raspberries, frozen
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
Pinch of salt

Process the cream cheese in a mini food processor or with an electric mixer until very smooth. Add the milk and process until thoroughly combined (note: do not try doing this with cream). Transfer to a bowl.

Pulse the frozen raspberries a few times in a food processor, so that you get small chunks.

Combine the cream cheese and milk mixture with the sugar, vanilla, cream, and salt, then stir in the raspberries.

Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturers instructions. (Mine took 15-20 minutes for this.) Serve immediately or freeze until ready. Note that this recipe remains quite easily scoopable even after firming up in the freezer.

Serves 4-6.

Bulgur Salad with Chickpeas, Feta, and Dill

Another good main dish salad for hot weather. This one is especially good, as there is nothing in it that requires cooking. Just soak the bulgur until tender, then combine with other ingredients and serve. If it's not scape season, throw in some chives or a couple finely sliced scallions.

1 1/2 cups dry bulgur wheat
1 garlic scape, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup dried tomatoes, soaked and finely chopped
1 cup walnut pieces, toasted and cooled
3-4 ounces crumbled feta
1-2 cups chopped snap or snow peas (optional)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Soak the bulgur in cold water for an hour or so, or until tender, then drain. You can do this in advance and refrigerate the bulgur in a sealed container for a day or two if you like.

Combine the soaked bulgur with the scape, dill, chickpeas, dried tomatoes, walnuts, and feta. Drizzle with the lemon juice and a bit of olive oil. Stir well, adding more oil if desired. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4-6.

Cashew Chicken Salad with Snow Peas

This simple, satisfying hot weather meal is adapted from a recipe my mother-in-law has been making for decades. You can use leftover rice (or make extra with another meal, planning ahead), or cook the rice in the morning or evening before and stash it in the fridge until you're ready. If you're making this outside of scape season, use a couple of scallions or some chives instead.

3-4 cups cooked and cooled brown rice (I like a short grain brown rice here)
2-3 cups shredded or diced cooked chicken
1/4 cup minced garlic scapes
3 cups chopped snow peas (or snap peas)
1/2 - 1 cup cashews, lightly toasted and cooled
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup canola oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice, or to taste
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Serve cold.

Serves 4-6.