Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Black Radish and Frisee Salad with Oranges


Early in the market season, and sometimes at the winter markets, you may find the striking black radish! Its skin is rough and its flavor is pungent - no delicate vegetable, this. It's not for eating out of hand or with buttered bread, like other radishes. It needs a more robust preparation, either roasted to mellow it, or paired with other strong flavors, as it is in this delightful salad.

1 T. honey
2 T. good white wine vinegar or unseasoned rice vinegar
1 large black radish (about 3 inches diameter) or a few smaller ones
2 oranges (blood oranges are especially pretty)
1 T. olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped roasted almonds or pistachios (optional)

In a medium bowl whisk together the honey and vinegar. Scrub the radish really well and remove the top and tail. Grate it into the vinaigrette and let it marinate about ten minutes.

Meanwhile, wash the frisee, tear it up into bite size pieces, and spin it dry. Cut a slice from the top and bottom of the orange so that it stands up nicely on the cutting board. Cut downward to remove the skin and pith, following the curve of the orange. Then slice the orange crosswise to make pretty medallions.

Add the frisee and olive to the bowl and toss with the radish mixture. Season with salt and pepper and top with orange slices and chopped nuts.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Orange, Radish and Jerusalem Artichoke Salad



I'd been wondering what to do with some Jerusalem artichokes I bought - they are kind of like jicama, but nutty tasting. They are the root of a type of sunflower! So I came up with this salad, inspired by (once again) Ghillie Basan's Modern Moroccan, a gorgeous cookbook with lots of pictures and surprising flavors.


4 oranges
3-4 Jerusalem artichokes (or perhaps sliced artichoke hearts)
2 radishes (or not)
1 T capers (or Kalamata olives)
Juice of half a lemon
Olive oil
Salt
Paprika

Slice the peel off the oranges, cut in half lengthwise, then cut in thin slices crosswise. The Jerusalem artichokes can be peeled, or just washed thoroughly, then cut in thin slices, or perhaps matchsticks. Slice the radishes thinly. At this point the salad needs a bit more sour and salty, so I added lemon juice and capers. I think Kalamata olives might be even better though. Toss with olive oil and salt to taste, then sprinkle with paprika. Many people think of paprika as just for decoration, but I love its nutty flavor, so I use lots!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Romanesco and Chorizo Scramble


Romanesco has got to be the most gorgeous vegetable in the world. I always struggle to find a way to prepare it that honors its delicate beauty. One morning, Dave came up with this perfect pairing - romanesco sauteed with Spanish chorizo and softly scrambled eggs. It was heavenly for breakfast, and would make a delightful light lunch or breakfast-for-dinner.

Spanish chorizo is made with smoked paprika, then stuffed in casings and slowly dried, so it is hard and its flavor is intensely savory. I was so excited to find some at La Montanita Co-op recently! (It's very different from Mexican chorizo, which is sometimes made with beef, and is usually sold fresh as bulk sausage, not stuffed in casings.)

2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 head romanesco broccoli
2 oz Spanish chorizo
4 eggs

Break romanesco into small florets. Chop chorizo into small bits. Heat olive oil over medium flame. Add romanesco and chorizo, toss to coat with oil, and cover. Cook until the romanesco is just tender. Whisk eggs in a small bowl, and add to the pan. Cook, stirring gently until eggs are just set. Serve hot, with toast or grilled bread.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Cheddar and Date Biscuits


Ok, so I may have gone a little crazy... I ordered a whole Benton's Country Ham after watching David Chang and Sean Brock rave about it on Mind of a Chef (my current TV obsession). These biscuits are a delightful blend of savory and sweet, the perfect vehicle for a paper-thin slice of country ham. And no refined sugar, just dates!

2 cups flour
1 Tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup shortening or butter
1 cup milk
1 cup grated cheddar
1/2 cup chopped dates

Preheat oven to 425F.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the shortening with a pastry cutter or a fork, or two knives. Or use my new favorite technique - just squish it lightly with your fingers, a sort of sifting motion. The goal is to have the mixture resemble coarse cornmeal mixed with plenty of bigger flour-coated bits of shortening. For me, this has always been the most frustrating part of biscuits and pie crust, and the reason I don't usually bother making my own pie crust. Another great way to accomplish this step is to grate frozen butter into the flour mixture and then just stir it in with a fork.

Add the milk, cheese, and dates, and stir until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Drop handfuls onto a baking sheet and pop into the oven for 20 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Serve with country ham, or eggs, or just slather with butter and enjoy!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Garden Obsession - May 17

I'm so excited about gardening again! It's been a couple of years since my garden really did well - I got so busy with work that I neglected all kinds of things like adding enough compost, weeding, pest control, etc. But this year I got a full load of compost from Soilutions and started early in March with broccoli and cauliflower starts, arugula, radishes, fava beans, and fennel.

Here is the harvest on April 30: radishes, red-veined sorrel, arugula, garlic scapes, parsley, and purple sprouting broccoli.


And a lot has happened since then!

The Good:

Cauliflowers are doing well, not bolting yet.

 Beautiful radishes!




Escarole! My first try growing this - it's definitely a cool season crop.

Fava beans started flowering around April 30, and now have tiny pods. Hopefully we'll be able to harvest some before the end of this month, when it gets too hot.


Irises, parsley, and red-veined sorrel.


Chervil! A classic French herb with a subtle anise flavor like tarragon. I've been adding it to scrambled eggs.


Both rose bushes are doing great!


Mustard greens are doing well, radishes and gladiolus are coming up along the front of the porch.


Tiny fennel! Coming right along.


The artichoke came back after the winter. It seems to be doing ok in this shady spot, and maybe we will actually get a couple of artichokes!


I planted mint and sorrel in the same bed, because I've heard they like the shade. We'll see. This is always one of the most challenging areas - right under a mulberry tree.


We've harvested about four good-sized heads of broccoli. This photo was from earlier, when they were smaller.


I planted eight tomato plants... Sungold, San Marzano, Principe Borghese, Kellogg's Breakfast, Brandywine, and three Black Krims! I love these cages I made from re-mesh (it's for embedding in concrete slabs). Most of them I bought at Hand to Mouth Foods at the Los Ranchos growers' market - they have THE most amazing selection of varieties I've ever seen.

 

And this ground cherry! I've never tried it before, but I ran into this fabulous woman I met at the Edible Santa Fe food writing workshop, and she convinced me I had to have it.


The pomegranate tree is in full bloom - this is the most flowers it's ever had! Should be a great crop.


The Green Gage plum has tons of baby fruit, so it should be a fantastic crop this year!


And the gooseberry has fruit, not ripe yet, but looking good! It is thriving in the shade of the mulberry tree, with just a little sun at the end of the day.

The Bad:

Stink bug invasion!!! These little guys are sucking the juices of my hollyhocks, which normally never have pest problems, causing the flower heads to droop pathetically. When we saw Eli from Chispas Farms at the growers' market this morning, he suggested we set the chickens loose on them. I was worried they would eat the plants too, but just as Eli predicted, they were far more interested in the bugs! They ate a ton of them, which is why there's only one in this picture. There were dozens congregated on each plant this morning.


Aphids, and cabbage loopers have been at work on the cauliflower, but I think that's an easy fix. Spray them hard with the hose to get the aphids off - they can't crawl back up. And then maybe a little Bacillus thuringensis for the caterpillars.


The other thing that's got me worried is the plague of grasshoppers I've been seeing all over town. But I haven't noticed them doing much damage in the garden yet.

The Weird:

Awww. Like a mama radish snuggling a baby radish!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Pear Mincemeat


I can't believe how many people have told me recently that they've never had mincemeat pie! Its name is an artifact of its origin in medieval times, when spiced meat and fruit pies were common. Modern versions usually just contain apples, raisins, and lots of warm spices. I made a lovely pear mincemeat using the tiny, hard pears from our backyard tree. The recipe is adapted from the excellent Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving; it makes enough for two pies, or two quarts for canning.

1 C. dried currants
1 C. golden raisins
1/2 C. chopped dried apricots
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 C. lightly packed brown sugar
2 t. ground cinnamon
2 t. ground nutmeg
1/2 t. ground cloves
1/2 t. ground ginger
10 C. peeled, cored, chopped pears
1 C. slivered blanched almonds
1/4 C. brandy (optional)

Combine dried fruits, zest, juice, sugar, and spices in a large stainless steel pot. Mix thoroughly, then add the pears, folding them in carefully if they are soft. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then turn the heat down and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, about 15 more minutes until thickened but not dry. Add almonds and brandy; simmer for 5 more minutes.

For canning: If you wish to can some or all of the recipe, heat canning jars in a boiling water bath. Remove the jars from the bath and fill, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove as many air bubbles as possible by running a knife down the sides. Dip the lids in boiling water bath using your tongs, or pour boiling water over them in a bowl to heat them. Wipe the jar rims, center the lid on each jar, and screw the band down fingertip-tight. Place the jars in the water bath and boil 20 minutes (30 minutes at 5000 feet, 35 minutes at 7000 feet). Remove jars and set them on a towel until completely cooled, preferably overnight.

For pies: Preheat oven to 350°F. Lay bottom crust in pie plate and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon flour (this helps keep the bottom crust from getting soggy). Spread one quart of mincemeat evenly into the bottom crust, cover with the top crust, and crimp edges. Poke holes in the top to make a pretty pattern and allow steam to vent. Bake 45 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Pork Roast Tacos with Pineapple Salsa


Mmm, tacos. The perfect food. Do I say that every time I write about tacos? Skarsgard Farms has been getting pineapples from Mexico, and  Majestic Valley Farm has grown such beautiful cabbage this year. This makes great use of both!  I've always wanted to try recreating the barbacoa with pineapple we used to get at taco places in L.A. - this isn't it, but it's pretty delicious.

Pork butt is one of my favorite cuts of meat, because it's cheap and flavorful. I wanted to smoke it, but that's a huge project that takes about 6 hours, and we were low on charcoal. So here's a cheaters' version - we just put what little charcoal we had left into the grill with one small hickory chunk on top, smoked the butt until the charcoal was gone, then finished it off in the crockpot. While waiting for the coals to go ashy, we grilled some pineapple slices, and while we were at it, we smoked a few poblano chiles too.

2 lbs. pork butt
1 T. brown sugar
1/2 t. salt
1 cup water
1 pineapple, sliced 1/4" thick
1 poblano chile
2 T. cilantro
1 green onion
Juice of 1 lime
1 dozen corn tortillas
1/4 small head of cabbage, sliced

For the pork:  Rub pork butt with sugar and salt and let it stand for a while to come to about room temperature. Light one chimney-load of coals (we use a chimney that you light with newspaper). When they are hot, pile them on one side of the grill. Clean the grate and rub with oil. Grill pineapple slices right over the coals just until they get grill marks on each side. When coals are covered with gray ash, set a hickory chunk on top. Set the pork butt and the poblano on the grill, away from the coals. Cover the grill and cook until the coals are pretty much gone. Place butt in a crockpot or regular pot with just 1 cup of water, and cook until tender and falling apart.

For the salsa:  Chop several pineapple slices, the poblano, and the green onion into small bits. Add lime juice, cilantro, and salt to taste.

Tacos: Chop some of the pork into bite size bits, mixing with the liquid in the pot. Heat tortillas directly over a stove burner; pile with pork and top with salsa and cabbage.