27 June 2009

Vegetable vegetable

Check out what's actually at the farmer's market, smelling like an actual tomato:

Lately we've had some serious bounty from both the farmer's market and CSA. I don't think I really realized exactly how much vegetable content the CSA would get us, even considering the chorus of warnings. So much! I'm going to have to start blanching and freezing the chard, I think. Or, you know, COOKING more as opposed to just eating the salad greens and asparagus. Also berries. You know what's the best salad ever? Blueberries and baby arugula. Oh man!

One of the bits and pieces from our box this week was a bunch of radishes. I like radishes a lot, actually: super vegetable crunch and spice content is great for egg salad, or salatka (cottage cheese, sour cream, radish slices, and salt and pepper, mixed and spread on good toasted rye: SO AWESOME): thick and creamy food that needs some snap to cut it. I also like more ordinary thin slices on sandwiches and in salads. However, all of these only require about one radish, or even a half, for a full serving. How do you get through ten radishes?

You quarter them and roast them, like potatoes.

Results: the sugar in the radishes caramelizes, softening their punch and making them much easier to eat out of hand. While they retain some crunch, it's not anywhere near as aggressive. They really look like little roast potatoes! At some point I'm going to have to try a potato salad with a mix of roasted root veg; I bet that would be awesome.

Roast radishes

olive oil
salt, pepper

Preheat the oven (or toaster oven! It's summer) to 375 or 400F. Trim radishes; cut them into halves or quarters. Toss with a little olive oil and some salt and pepper. Spread your radishes in one layer on a baking sheet and put it in the oven. They will hiss madly as they begin to lose moisture.

Roast for maybe twenty minutes, or until your radishes have stopped hissing and are starting to turn very slightly golden.

That's it. You're done! Eat them!

I had mine plain, with the tomato. Oh yes, first tomato of the summer, you will be mine. Actually, you were mine already. Um. Yeah.

24 June 2009

More lazy uncooking

Romaine; nectarine.

Sourdough toast with gouda, redleaf lettuce, and chives; red grapefruit; water in a happy mug.

23 June 2009

Asparagus risotto

I don't know, you guys. It's been so busy around here for weeks and weeks. In the past month we've had one weekend without either travel or parental houseguests. Summer is busy season at work, too, so no relief on any side. Mostly I am doing things like "warming up leftover takeout palak paneer in the toaster oven."

On the other hand, we also have the awesomeness that is our CSA. They're all about giving us huge bunches of asparagus right now. Asparagus! Hooray! I made practically a week's worth of food out of our first bunch, in the form of exciting risotto. I ate it for dinner, then had the leftovers (with supplements) for three consecutive work lunches. I feel very efficient.

However, the most exciting element wasn't the massive quantity, or the greatness of the asparagus. It was the grain content: equal parts arborio rice and barley. I only had a little actual arborio, so (based on a couple mentions of barley risotto) I decided to experiment. It completely paid off. The result is practically indistinguishable from straight arborio risotto. You know, except for the part where it's cheaper and healthier. WIN.

Asparagus risotto

butter/olive oil
veg broth/water and scraps
arborio rice
dry white wine or vermouth
a bunch of asparagus
salt, pepper
fresh parsley
parmesan/good grating cheese, if you want it

Warm some olive oil in a deep pot; chop up an onion and soften it in the oil. In the meantime, add your onion skin and root, plus any other reasonable stockpile you have lying around, into a second pot, cover with water and a lid, and simmer to make broth. If you have actual broth in the freezer, you can use that too, as long as you get it good and hot first. Hot broth is the key to making a risotto cook in about a half hour, as opposed to NEVER.

When your onion is soft, add maybe 3/4 cup each arborio rice and barley to the pan. Cover with a glassful of dry white wine or vermouth, then cook, stirring, over medium-high heat. After a few minutes, the rice will absorb all the wine. Transfer a cup or so of broth from its pan to the rice pan, making sure not to catch any accidental onion skins, and keep cooking, stirring often. Repeat, adding broth as it gets absorbed, for about twenty minutes, or until your grain is almost completely cooked through.

Trim your asparagus and cut the remaining stems into inch-long pieces. Toss them into the risotto and cook for maybe 3-5 more minutes, or until the asparagus is done.

Salt and pepper the whole business. Stir in a whole bunch of chopped fresh parsley. If you want cheese, grate it and stir it in as well.

Now put it in a bowl, throw any loose bits of parsley lying around over it, and eat it!


20 June 2009

Deli explosion weekend

  • sopressata
  • gouda
  • coffee from the coffeeshop
  • sourdough bread
  • chives
  • apricots
  • dates
  • raspberries
Eat it all.

18 June 2009

Oats and apple

Make it!

Oatmeal with yogurt and apple

rolled oats
optional butter
plain yogurt

I'm just going to write this like I make it: no measurements of any kind. Yeah. Let's go.

Pour some rolled oats into a small saucepan and add water to cover. Add a pinch of salt and a pat of butter if you feel like it. Put the pan on medium heat and cook until the oats are done, adding more water if you need it and stirring every once in a while. What? Isn't this how everyone makes oatmeal?

While your oats are cooking, core and chop half a decent apple. You can eat the other half whole you're waiting.

When the oatmeal is done, scoop it into a bowl. Add a big spoonful of plain yogurt and the apple pieces.

Eat it.

Now go to work in good health and good conscience.

What? Do it!

16 June 2009


I lied. We have been cooking, and also eating.

For one thing, I seem to have been suddenly buried by the shrimpocalypse. We bought a bag of frozen shrimp for John's mom's visit, and although we did eat a number of them together one night, I've been cramming them down by myself on an alarming number of occasions. Up to about a year ago, I hated shrimp viciously, but now, lo! Shrimp! I want to eat it immediately and often!

Seared shrimp with garlic

olive oil/butter
frozen shrimp, defrosted in hot water and peeled (or not, whichever)
salt, pepper

Warm some oil/melt some butter on medium in a saute pan. Crush and peel four or five cloves of garlic; drop them into the oil and cook, turning occasionally, until softened. While this is going on you can peel the shrimp.

When the garlic has softened and started to turn golden brown, set your shrimp into the pan. I eat maybe six or eight shrimp at a time. Turn the heat up a touch, then sear quickly, turning once. Shrimp cook very fast! Give them about two minutes per side. As soon as they are pink all over, turn off the heat and tip them onto a plate.

Eat with a whole pile of delicious salad with chive vinaigrette.

Speaking of salad: we got our first CSA box and immediately started filling our maws with piles of vegetables. So many vegetables: romaine and redleaf and mesclun mix and asparagus and bok choy and apples and spinach and a pot of basil and a big bag of chives. You know what makes a piece of cheap neighborhood pizza palatable? Covering it with a big whack of mesclun mix before eating it. Yes.

Then the vegetables weren't enough and we went to the farmer's market for pints of strawberries. On the way home a random dude on the street was joking with me, all "hey, strawberries! Can I have one?" He was pretty surprised when I instantly gave him one. Yay strawberries!

At home the strawberries turned into salad with spinach and basil. I macerated the berries in lemon juice first. That was a good idea, but I should've also drained them. Too much lemon in the finished product. Basil and strawberries do in fact work well together, though. Tiny chiffonaded basil is clearly best; that way the berries can be dominant.

Strawberry basil spinach salad

half a lemon
fresh basil

Cut strawberries into pleasing halves or quarters. Halve a lemon, squeeze it, and pour the juice over the berries. Let them sit and macerate for a half hour or so before draining.

Wash, dry, destem, and chop a bunch of spinach. Take a few leaves of basil, roll them together, and slice finely to chiffonade them.

Fill bowls with spinach, basil, and berries. Eat it all with a fork.

This stuff is pungent and sweet and subtle. Salad explosion!

08 June 2009

Yeah, so

In California we hung out extensively with everyone we know, celebrated at Heather and Tony's wedding, and ate at all the places we miss. We also brought home this giant fruit bowl of tiny, rock-hard avocados, one of which had ripened enough that I could eat it for breakfast this morning. It was pretty great.

On Sunday we went to the hot tub and sauna at the Tea House Spa, and ok, you should CERTAINLY go there. If you want a food-oriented excuse, they give you tea to drink in the tub. We always get jasmine. Also, there is no better tasting water than the metal pitcher you drink after sweating out all your body's moisture for 45 minutes. If you want to experience water, this is the way to do it.

Afterward: dollar store, farmer's market, beach. John bought me a tube of Necco wafers, which I proclaimed were disgusting yet continued to gradually eat until we got off the plane home. At the farmer's market we bought two baskets of strawberries and four huge cups of meyer lemonade. They were stunning and awesome. We stood around eating and drinking them outside the dollar store, where two different random people commented on our strawberries ("You guys are eating healthy! Those are full of antioxidants! But you know what really has a lot of antioxidants? Welch's 100% grape juice.") and the Necco wafers ("I'm probably twice as old as you, and I still had those as a kid!") Food: the great equalizer.

Then we went to Ben's house and picked a massive branch of the loquats growing on the tree in his backyard. So, really, I got to do every single thing I missed from CA, even down to urban foraging. Why not take advantage of the awesome spontaneous local fruit and Chrissy's juicer to create loquat juice explosion?

We did it. Well, mostly Chrissy and Ben did it, while John dinked on his laptop and I took lots of pictures. This one sets the tone for Chrissy's house pretty perfectly.

Loquat juice turns out to be fairly foamy. We mixed it with sparkling water and drank it out of exciting Goodwill champagne bowls in the middle of the afternoon. Yes: vacation.

In Brooklyn right now the local foraging seems to be all mulberries. I'm going to have to get on that. Yes: fruit.

04 June 2009

Soup biscuit biscuit soup

John had gone to California before me, so I had plenty of time to putter around making myself exactly what I wanted to eat. Apparently "exactly what I wanted to eat" consisted of 1. lots of vegetables and 2. hot hot biscuits.

So these biscuits had been around lately on everybody likes sandwiches and before on bread and honey. They're essentially just baking powder biscuits with a handful of extra business added to make them extra tangy and herby. I decided to make mine with yogurt and cottage cheese instead of the milk and cheddar, and fresh basil instead of the dried herbs.

This was an excellent idea, especially considering the rest of my lunch really consisted of a series of vegetable purees. At some point I’m going to have to get off the puree as just soup and start trying some juices. But then I have to wash the blender! It is truly a tragedy for our times. I guess I can figure out a way to use the stick blender too, considering it came with a little cup and blade attachment.


I had these with spring tonic: carrot soup with handfuls of fresh dill. I think Deborah Madison has some other soup she calls spring tonic, too. What was it? Maybe I will check once I get back across the country to the land where my cookbooks live.

Carrot dill spring tonic

red onion/shallot
olive oil/butter
veg broth/water and carrot/onion trimmings
fresh herbs: dill, parsley, anything else you think sounds good
salt, pepper, maybe a little hot pepper if you want to make it a tiny bit spicy

Warm some olive oil or butter in a reasonable soup pot. I used both, because I like that kind of thing. Peel and chop about half an onion or a whole shallot; soften it in the oil.

Peel a carrot or two. Throw the peels, plus your onion trimmings and any other vegetable you may have lying around for stock, into a saucepan with a couple cups of water. Cover the pot, bring it to a boil, and simmer for a few minutes to make yourself some vegetable broth. After about ten minutes, you can scoop out the vegetables, and you’ll be left with lovely pale orange broth. Or you can use whatever other veg broth you have lying around. I like doing it this way, though, since you get a thoroughly carrot-flavored soup out of the deal.

Chop the carrot into smallish chunks, then throw them into the softened onion. Stir it all up and cook for a few minutes. When the carrots soften (or a few minutes afterward, depending on how fast your broth pot boils), add maybe two cups of broth. Bring the business to a low boil, cover, turn down the heat, and simmer until the carrots are completely cooked. This won’t take very long: five or ten minutes should do it.

While the soup is simmering, break out your fresh herbs. You can probably use anything that seems sufficiently fresh and springy to you; I like using lots of dill and a couple stalks of parsley. Destem them and chop them all up. You should be left with a pile of clearly delicious, chlorophyll-ridden herby bits.

Take your soup off the heat, let it cool for a minute or two, and puree it with a stick blender (or real blender, if you feel like washing that behemoth). Throw in all the herbs, stir it up, and you're done.

Eat it! I had my soup and biscuits with some fake bloody mary, i.e. veg juice with a bunch of seventynine cent hot sauce shaken in. Yes! Liquid vegetable action!