29 August 2015

Bagel panzanella

Bagel panzanella

I've been wanting to make bagel panzanella for several months. Now that the best summer tomatoes are here, it is time. Oh man, is it time.

You almost certainly know my love of bagels. Bagels are wonderful. Bagels are delicious. Bagels are the best breakfast on a holiday morning. You can put anything on a bagel. And while I usually discuss my love of bagels through a series of various cream cheese schmears, I thought it was time to mix it up in a more bready way, so I could shoehorn even more bagels into my diet. What recipe combines a delicious bread product and many tasty vegetables? Panzanella. And so bagel panzanella was born.

Probably the most important component of panzanella is the bread. It's supposed to be dry, so it can soak up all the vegetable juices and vinaigrette readily, yet not turn into a pile of soggy mush. So preparing the bread is critical. It also needs to be done a good 12 hours in advance, unless your bagel is already quite stale. You can get away with toasting your bread pieces gently in a low oven, but the texture is going to be a little different.

I chose an everything bagel, for optimal all-bagel flavor content. Cherry tomatoes came out of the garden; cucumber, red onion, and basil came from the CSA box. Actually, the basil could have come out of the garden too, since there's plenty of it out there. But it didn't.

To make this even more substantial (and bagely), you could serve big scoops of it over some tangy salad greens -- arugula would be my pick -- and scatter some chunks of cream cheese or goat cheese rolled in sesame and poppy seeds over the top to serve. For that matter, if you wanted to take the whole thing in a sweeter direction, you could go for a blueberry bagel, an assortment of halved berries, and fresh mint, give it a squeeze of lemon juice, and serve it all over a bed of spinach, with optional goat cheese. Panzanella!

Bagel panzanella

Bagel panzanella
serves 2

1 savory bagel to make 2-3 cups cubed bread
2 cups chopped tomato (14 cherry tomatoes in my case)
1 1/2 cups chopped cucumber
3/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 bunch or up to 1 cup chiffonaded fresh basil
1/4 cup or more red wine vinaigrette

Cut your bagel into bite-sized pieces. I'd recommend going a bit on the small side, to create optimal bites with cucumber and tomato later.

Put your bagel pieces on a rack and let them dry out overnight. If your bagel is already a day old (mine was fresh from the bagel shop), I'd guess you only need 4-6 hours.

The next day, it's time to make your salad. Chop up your tomato and cucumber into bite-sized pieces; thinly sliver your red onion; chiffonade your basil. Combine your bagel pieces, tomato, cucumber, red onion, basil, and vinaigrette. Mix everything together well. Let sit on the counter (no tomatoes in the fridge) for at least a half hour, and up to four hours.

Taste, correct seasoning, and serve with the delights of your choice.

Red wine vinaigrette

1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
12 good grinds of pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

Put all the ingredients into a small jar. Lid the jar and shake well to emulsify. Voila! Red wine vinaigrette.

You'll have some vinaigrette left over, so put the jar into the fridge and use it on any salads you may be eating in the next week or so. Let the dressing come to room temperature before using.

Bagel panzanella

It's so dramatic-looking with the black cherry tomatoes.

We had our bagel panzanella with slices of Spanish tortilla, but it would be pretty happy alongside a whole lot of different main dishes. Eat it for breakfast, with some scrambled eggs. Eat it for lunch, with a cup of Tuscan white bean soup. Eat it for dinner, with a burger of your choice, or maybe a seared steak if that's how you roll.

How are you eating your bagels lately?

23 August 2015

Blistered shishito peppers

Blistered shishito peppers

Shishito peppers are one of the highlights of late summer. While they look like a hot pepper, they are generally pretty sweet -- only about one in ten peppers will be spicy. So eating a plate of these is like a delicious, delicious game of chance, where no matter what, you always win.

When we got a pint of shishitos in our CSA share, we knew exactly what to do with them: blister them. One hot pan and five minutes later, we were ready to eat the entire pint in one fell blow.

I imagine these peppers would also be excellent grilled on the barbecue. Toss your peppers with oil, string them onto soaked skewers, and roast, turning to cook each side, until nicely blistered. Then salt and eat. I haven't tried this, though, so if you do, let me know how it goes! For science!

This method will work with shishito or padrón peppers.

Blistered shishito peppers

grapeseed oil or other cooking oil with high smoke point
shishito peppers
plenty of kosher or sea salt

Put a frying pan wide enough to hold all your peppers in a single layer over medium-high to high heat. Let the pan get hot before you start cooking. Test the temperature with a flick of water, just like you would if you were cooking pancakes; when the water sizzles away immediately, you're ready to go.

Add a generous slug of oil to the pan and let it heat up for a moment. Then add your peppers and toss or stir to coat. Let the peppers cook, stirring or flipping occasionally, until they are blistering and turning golden to dark brown in patches on all sides. This should take about five minutes.

When your peppers are done, remove them to a paper towel-lined plate or wire rack and immediately season with a generous amount of salt.

Serve hot. Eat them all. Hooray!

Blistered shishito peppers

Blistered shishitos are great by themselves, but they also work well as part of an antipasto spread. A hard slicing chorizo or other spicy sausage and a chunk of manchego are the perfect match. Marinated olives would be pretty tasty too. Basically anything you'd get at a tapas bar is a good idea.

And of course you are going to want a glass of cold, cold beer on the side. Hot peppers and icy beer are one of the best possible combinations to eat on a hot afternoon.

What are your favorite late summer snacks?

14 August 2015

Momofuku-style pickled torpedo beet, radish, and tokyo turnip

Momofuku-style pickled torpedo beet, radish, and tokyo turnip

We've had the Momofuku cookbook for awhile, and I've never cooked anything from it until now. But I've been wanting to try these pickles for a few weeks, ever since I read a blog post that talked about how the beets in this recipe (or method, really) aren't cooked.

I've always made (and eaten) western-style beet pickles, so I've always boiled my beets. But shredded or julienned raw beets are excellent in a salad setting, or even as garnish for a hot soup or rich piece of meat, so I was officially intrigued. And we certainly had plenty of beets lying around. The CSA farm seems to have a had a bumper crop this year, and they've been coming practically every week. So many beets: golden, torpedo, and plain old red globes.

When I checked out the supply in our crisper, I found not only three beautiful red torpedo beets, but also three ordinary red radishes and a single solitary tokyo turnip. (Of course, later I found two more buried under a head of cabbage, so...yeah.) I decided to pickle them all together for a few reasons. First, beets and turnips are a usual match in Middle Eastern pickles; if you've had a falafel sandwich with pink pickled turnip, you've experienced this. Radishes are similar to turnips in texture, but also provide a pungent kick. Besides, all of these vegetables needed eating.

Momofuku-style pickled torpedo beet, radish, and tokyo turnip

I considered adding some ginger to my pickles, because that's always super interesting. See: fennel pickle with lemon and ginger, which is SO GOOD and you should go make some right now. Actually, I need to go make some, because I have all the ingredients lying around, crying for me to use them. Anyway. I knew about that; I also recently read about Nami's pickled sushi ginger, which I need to try as soon as I can find some young ginger. But since I hadn't tried this particular pickle method before, I thought it might be a good idea to just go for the master brine recipe before I started fooling around quite so much. The fooling around will very likely happen later, though. Oh yes.

Momofuku-style pickled torpedo beet, radish, and tokyo turnip
Adapted from the Momofuku cookbook

brine:
1 cup hot water
1/2 cup rice vinegar
6 tbsp (3/8 cup) sugar
2 1/2 tsp kosher or pickling salt

veg:
3 torpedo beets
3 radishes
1+ tokyo turnip
or adjust vegetable proportions to fill your jars.

equipment:
2 pints or 1 quart mason jar with plastic storage lids
chopstick or spatula
optional canning funnel

For the brine, combine all the ingredients in a nonreactive pan or bowl. I used water that I boiled in the teapot and let cool down a bit, instead of the book's hot tap water. Stir until the sugar and salt are completely dissolved.

For the veg: wash, trim, and peel your beets. Wash and trim your radishes and turnips. Halve all your veg and slice into very thin half-moons.

Pack your vegetables into mason jars. Pour the brine over the veg to cover, filling up to 1/2 inch from the top of the jar. Use a chopstick or spatula to remove any bubbles. Cap your jars and put them in the refrigerator to cure overnight.

Momofuku-style pickled torpedo beet, radish, and tokyo turnip

Store in the refrigerator and eat at your leisure. These guys should last at least a month, and probably quite a while longer. I usually keep refrigerator pickles for a good three months or so.

What are you pickling this summer?

03 August 2015

Scrambled duck eggs with green beans, red pepper, and fresh herbs

Scrambled duck eggs with green beans, red pepper, and fresh herbs

We bought an egg share with our CSA. This means that along with our weekly vegetables, we also get half a dozen mixed brown, blue, and spotted eggs. They're excellent -- obviously super-fresh, with bright orange yolks and full whites. A fried CSA egg is a thing of beauty, especially split over a piece of sourdough toast. But six eggs is just about as many as we can eat in a week, considering our overall low levels of breakfast-eating and baking. And then the CSA decided to give everyone a sample of half a dozen duck eggs.

Suddenly we had double the eggs, and the duck eggs were nearly double the size of the chicken eggs, so it was more like we had sixteen eggs than twelve. It was definitely time for a couple of hearty weekend scrambles. And why not get the full use out of the CSA by adding plenty of herbs and vegetables?

For our herbs, we used curly parsley and dill, both of which are excellent with egg. I think dill is seriously underused in general, and particularly when it comes to eggs. It's great raw in egg salad, and it's also great cooked into a scramble like this. I imagine that it's similar to the classic tarragon-and-egg combination. Try it!

Scrambled duck eggs with green beans, red pepper, and fresh herbs

Scrambled duck eggs with green beans, red pepper, and fresh herbs
serves 2

butter
2 scallions
large handful green beans (or zucchini, broccoli, etc)
1/2 red bell pepper
2-3 duck eggs (or sub 5-6 chicken eggs)
~3 tbsp each fresh dill and parsley (or basil, tarragon, chives, etc)
salt, pepper

Chop your scallion whites, setting the greens aside. Saute in butter in an appropriate egg pan over medium heat.

Wash, trim, and cut your green beans into bite-sized pieces. When your scallions have begun to soften, add the beans to the pan, along with a punch of salt. Continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, while you dice your bell pepper. When the beans are mostly tender, add your peppers and cook for another 2-3 minutes to soften.

Crack your eggs into a bowl. Finely chop your scallion greens, parsley, and dill; add them to the eggs. Season with salt and plenty of pepper. Beat with a fork until frothy and well mixed.

When all of your vegetables are tender, add your egg mixture to the hot pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until your eggs are done to your liking.

Serve your finished eggs with a little more pepper or a few fronds of herbs scattered on top. A simple green salad is definitely welcome alongside. And if it happens to be dinnertime, or Sunday brunch, a glass of dry white wine would not go amiss.

Have you ever cooked with duck eggs?

29 July 2015

First garden green beans of the year

First garden green beans of the year

I planted a truly massive amount of green bush beans this year. We had the garden space, and can basically never get enough beans, so why not? Besides, after the moles killed multiple jalapeño plants and a tomato plant, I figured that more plants equaled a better chance of actually getting a crop.

Now the beans are the most successful plants in the garden, with no attrition by mole at all. I'm picking huge double handfuls every other day, so as to keep up a steady supply for the whole growing season. Later I'll let one or two plants go, so the beans mature in their pods and can be used for seed next year. Hooray!

First garden green beans of the year: Green beans with butter and garlic

For my first foray into homegrown green bean cooking, I went super simple. What better way is there to eat beans than sauteed with butter and garlic?

Green beans with butter and garlic
Serves one. Multiply as needed.

1-2 big handfuls green beans
1-2 cloves garlic
1 pat butter/slug olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Wash your green beans, trim them, and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Crush and mince your garlic.

Melt your butter or oil in a frying pan over medium to medium-high heat. Add your garlic and cook for about a minute before adding your beans. Season with several good pinches of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. If you like, you can add a splash of water to the pan and let the beans cook in the steam.

When the beans are done to your taste, season with pepper. Taste and add more salt as necessary. Eat immediately.

First garden green beans of the year: Green beans with zucchini and dill

Of course, beans can also get a little fancier. This is especially the case if you also need to get through a CSA box of vegetables every week. In this case, I more or less just added some delightful extras to the basic green bean and garlic recipe. It's still super easy and still delicious.

Green beans with zucchini and dill
Serves one. Multiply as needed.

1 big handful green beans
2 cloves garlic
1 small or 1/2 large zucchini
1 pat butter/slug olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 tbsp chopped fresh dill (or basil, tarragon, parsley, etc)
wedge of lemon

Wash your green beans, trim them, and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Crush and mince your garlic. Chop your zucchini into thin rounds or half-moons.

Melt your butter or oil in a frying pan over medium to medium-high heat. Add your garlic and cook for about a minute before adding your beans. Season with several good pinches of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes. Add water to steam your beans if you like.

Add the zucchini and continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes, or until all the vegetables are done to your taste. Season with pepper and correct salt.

Serve topped with plenty of fresh dill and a squeeze of lemon juice. If you're having your beans alongside a seared piece of fish, put any extra dill and lemon on the fish.

Beans! They are the best.

Who's gardening this year? What are you harvesting now?