Monday, May 23, 2011

A whole lot of goodness

We've been busy!

A Simple Greens Soup
From Asparagus to Zucchini, Harmony Valley Farm Recipe

First of all, if you're cooking in the midwest and using CSA veggies and don't own the cookbook, From Asparagus to Zucchini, go buy it! It's fantastic. To be honest, nettles aren't my favorite but this soup was pretty good.

Nettle, Sunchoke and Ramp Soup

2 tablespoons butter or oil
1 small yellow onion, medium diced
1 pound peeled sunchokes
4 cups water or low sodium chicken broth
1 bunch of greens, washed and chopped (we used nettles)
Salt and pepper
1/2 heavy cream (optional but delicious)
Shredded smoked cheddar (optional topping)

Heat butter or oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onions; cook slowly, stirring occasionally until they are translucent (don't let them brown). Add the sunchokes and the water/broth. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and cook until the sunchokes are soft, about 15 minutes. Add the greens and cook until they wilt, about three minutes. (If you're using kale, let cook five minutes.) Puree the soup with an immersion blender (or in batches in a blender or food processor) until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Optional: you may pass soup through a strainer to take out the little bits and make it smoother. For a creamier version, add the heavy cream at the end and heat through. We topped the soup with some shredded smoked cheddar. Makes 4 servings.

Tagliatelle With Parsnips And Bacon
Adapted from Babbo

I had a fantastic afternoon at the spa last week and came home to this dish made with fresh pasta. Awesome.

Tagliatelle With Parsnips And Bacon

1/4 pound bacon or pancetta, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 pounds parsnips, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
8 ounces pasta (fresh pasta if you have it)
1/4 cup chopped green onion (or parsley)
Salt and pepper
Grated parmesan

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, add the chopped bacon to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until the bacon is browned, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and let drain on a couple paper towels. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat.

Turn the heat to medium and add the butter to skillet with the bacon fat. Add the parsnips and cook for about 12 minutes, stirring often. They should be lightly browned and very tender. Turn off the heat.

Cook pasta according to the directions on the box. When done, reserve 2 cups of the cooking water and then add the pasta directly to the skillet with the parsnips. Turn heat to high and add about 1 1/2 cups of the cooking water, the bacon, and the green onions. Cook for 1 minute, stirring often. Add more of the cooking water if it looks too dry. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4.

Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler
Birchwood Cafe Recipe from The Minnesota Homegrown Cookbook

This was the best strawberry rhubarb cobbler I've ever had. There will be no need to try other recipes from now on. We took this to our friends' house for dinner and didn't have the opportunity to take a very good photo but you get the idea.

Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler

Burdock Chips

Definitely my favorite way to enjoy burdock. We had these with some fish (fish and chips) and a nice spinach salad.

Burdock Chips

Ramp Tart
From Eggs on Sunday

We threw this together at the last minute and I forgot to plan ahead and make my own ricotta, resulting in a quick trip to the store, and we realized we didn't have any bacon. Fail! It was still pretty good but it could have used the bacon. Mmm bacon.

Ramp Tart

For the tart crust:
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
8 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons ice water, plus more as needed

For the tart filling:
4 slices of good quality bacon
1 large shallot, sliced
3 cups (packed) spinach
1 1/2 cups ricotta
1 large egg
salt and pepper, to taste
about 18 ramps, cleaned and bulb ends trimmed

In a food processor, combine the flours and salt and pulse to combine. Add the pieces of cold unsalted butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the 3 tablespoons ice water, then pulse in 1 second bursts until the mixture resembles curds and clumps (you can add a little more water if needed.) Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface, gather it together in a ball, flatten into a disk shape and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour or more.

To pre-bake the tart shell, roll it out and fit it into a 9-inch tart pan, trimming off any excess (you can save the excess dough to patch any tears that might appear in the dough.) Prick the bottom of the shell with a fork all over, then lay a piece of foil into the shell and fill the foil with dried beans (they’ll act as weights to keep the shell from puffing up in the oven.) Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and beans and bake for an additional 7 minutes or so, until the dough loses it’s glossiness and turns ever so slightly golden brown around the edges. Remove the shell from the oven, keeping it in the pan, and cool on a rack.

When you’re ready to assemble the tart, cook the bacon in a large, heavy saute pan until browned and crisp. Remove to a cooling rack to drain off any excess fat. Pour off the bacon fat (save it to cook other things with!) until there’s about a tablespoon left in the pan. Return the pan to medium high heat and saute the sliced shallots until softened, then add the spinach and cook the mixture just until wilted.

Transfer the spinach/shallot mixture to the bowl of a food processor. Add the ricotta cheese, egg, and a generous pinch of freshly ground black pepper (I found it didn’t need much additional salt since the bacon is kind of salty.) Puree the mixture until the spinach is chopped, and set aside.

In the same pan you used to cook the bacon and spinach, add the whole ramps and a little bit of water. Cook just until the ramp greens have wilted, and set aside.

Transfer the ricotta/spinach mixture into the tart shell. Top with the crumbled bacon slices, then arrange the wilted ramps over the top. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet, and bake for about 35-45 minutes in a 375 degree F oven, until the top is just starting to turn brown, the filling is slightly puffed and set, and the crust is golden brown. Serves 4 generously.

Nettle Risotto, Ramps Biscuits, and Arugula, Watermelon and Feta Salad

This was a heavenly meal. Even the nettle risotto! A friend of mine, Clare, thought the nettles would ruin the risotto (she's also not a fan) but I have to say that it worked well! The ramp biscuits were to die for as was the salad.

Nettle Risotto & Ramp Biscuit

Arugula, Watermelon & Feta Salad

Risotto with Nettles
From Joanne Weir, via Mariquita Farm

6 ounces nettles, stems removed
2 cups homemade chicken stock
2 cups water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, minced (I used some ramps)
1 cup Arborio
3/4 cup dry white wine, preferable Sauvignon Blanc
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Place the chicken stock and water in a sauce pan and heat until it is hot but not boiling. Reduce the heat to low and maintain the heat just below a simmer. Place a ladle in the pan.

Warm the olive oil in a large heavy casserole over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 10 minutes. Add the rice and nettles and stir for 2 to 3 minutes to toast the rice and coat with oil.

Add the wine and simmer, stirring constantly, until the wine has reduced by half, 3 to 4 minutes. Add a few ladlefuls of stock to the rice and stir to wipe the rice away from the sides and the bottom of the pot. Continue to stir until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Add another ladleful of stock and continue to stir until the liquid has been almost absorbed. Continue to add stock and stir in the same manner until the rice is no longer chalky, 20 to 25 minutes total, depending upon the variety of rice. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and add another ladleful of stock, the butter and the half of Parmigiano. Cover the pan and let sit covered off the heat for 5 minutes. Remove the cover and stir. Place the risotto in a bowl and serve immediately. Top with remaining parmesan.

Ramp Biscuits
from Bon Appetit

When we made these before, I don't think we did the egg wash or cracked coriander. That was a mistake. See previous blog post for recipe.

Watermelon, Arugula, and Feta Salad
From Serious Eats

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 small shallots, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
2 large bunches of arugula (6 cups packed), washed and dried
2 cups cubed seedless watermelon
1 cup (4 ounces) French feta cheese, crumbled

Combine oil, vinegar, and shallots; mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper; let stand 5 minutes. Arrange arugula on 4 serving plates or bowls. Arrange watermelon and cheese on top of arugula; drizzle with dressing. Serves 4.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A few favorites

We made two of our favorites the past two days: chive spread and ramp risotto.

Chive Spread

We have a ridiculous amount of chives and one way to use quite a few of them is a simple chive spread. I've adapted a recipe I've found online: stir together a larger tub of whipped cream cheese, container of 2% greek yogurt, a bunch of chopped chives and some garlic powder. Delicious!

Bagel with Chive Cream Cheese and Watercress

Ramp Risotto

Still my favorite way to enjoy ramps! Look back to 2009 for the original post on ramp risotto for the recipe.

Ramp Risotto 2011

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Goat Cheese and Chive Gnocchi with Asparagus

Mike commented at dinner tonight that we find making a dish two years in a row redundant. It's true! We say things like, "should we make Ramp Risotto again? But we made it last year! Maybe we should try something new."

We rarely eat the same meal twice with the exception of beans and rice and friday night pizza but even that is always tweaked differently. There a few things we've had several times but our weekly menus are almost entirely always full of new recipes. That's strange, right? Maybe I should make a list of recipes that we have made more than once. That might be interesting.

Back to the gnocchi! We all gobbled this up (Owen was more impressed with the gnocchi than the asparagus but Jillian ate nearly an adult portion). We said this one made it to our "make again...some year!" list.

Goat Cheese and Chive Gnocchi with Asparagus
Recipe from the kitchn

Goat Cheese and Chive Gnocchi with Asparagus

4 ounces goat cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup fresh chives, chopped
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 - 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 lb. asparagus, washed and trimmed
3 tablespoons butter

In a small mixing bowl, combine goat cheese, Parmesan, egg, 1/4 cup chives and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix with a fork until smooth. Add flour a spoonful at a time until dough comes together but is still a little wet.

Lightly flour a work surface and line a jelly roll pan with wax paper. On the floured surface, knead dough for about a minute. If it's still a little sticky, add some flour as needed, a spoonful at a time.

Divide dough in half. Flour hands and roll into each piece back and forth until it becomes a rope about 1-inch thick. Cut each rope into 1-inch pieces. If desired, roll each piece against the back of a fork to add texture. Place gnocchi on wax paper-lined pan and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Bring a pot of water to boil for the gnocchi.

Meanwhile, cut asparagus on the bias into 1/2-inch pieces. Steam for about 2 minutes, remove from heat and set aside.

When water is boiling, salt generously. Add gnocchi and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until they rise to the surface. Drain and set aside.

In a large sauce pan, heat butter over medium heat until it begins to brown. Add the asparagus, gnocchi, 1/4 teaspoon salt and remaining chives. Cook for 1 minute. Add black pepper to taste. Serve. Garnish with chive blossoms if desired.

serves 2-4

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Quinoa, Crepes and Beans with Rice

Quinoa Burgers

My friend Clare posted this Quinoa Burger recipe on another friend's blog. I have to admit, that Quinoa isn't my favorite food but maybe that's because I haven't had it this way? I really enjoyed these Quinoa burgers. I had a little trouble getting them to hold together and had to increase the heat to medium high in order for them to be a solid burger. Maybe Clare can show me her trick.

Quinoa Burgers

Banana & Salted Caramel Crepes
Adapted from this recipe

This was our Easter breakfast and it was so incredibly delicious. It was Mike's first time making crepes and he did a great job. Next time, I vote for nutella crepes!

Banana & Salted Caramel Crepes

Beans & Rice

Over the winter, we made a habit of eating beans & rice once a week. It's cheap, easy and we all love it. We'd mix up the toppings and sometimes use dry beans and sometimes use the time-saving canned beans. It will be great when we get into the tomatoes, onions and peppers season this summer!

Weekly Staple - Beans & Rice

Making it at home

We've been trying to make more and more food at home. This includes bread, pizza dough, ricotta and has now branched out to pasta. We had the opportunity to make some pasta for our dinner club and it's amazingly easy. I hope to make more of our pasta at home but sometimes we need to speed things up with a box of dry pasta.

In preparation for our dinner, we made a basic fettucini earlier in the week. For our dinner club, we made ravioli (homemade dough) with asparagus and ricotta (homemade). It was quite delicious, if I do say so myself.

Pasta Al Pomodoro (homemade noodles)

Little Helper

Making of Ricotta and Asparagus Ravioli

Pasta with Ramps

Ramps are a little slice of heaven. No kidding! They are right up there in my favorites with arugula and tiramisu. I was a little worried about trying this recipe because I didn't want to waste the ramps on a mediocre meal. I am relieved to report that it was tasty and that the dish was simple enough for the ramps to shine. Next week, we'll be making ramp risotto. Yummmm!

Pasta with Ramps

Pasta with Ramps

From The Splendid Table

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds fresh ramps
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or half oil and half butter
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 pound dry pasta, in any shape, such as penne, linguine or orecchiette
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino cheese

To prepare the ramps, trim off the roots with a paring knife and slip off any discolored or dead skin that clings to the bulbs. Wash the ramps in several changes of water and drain well. (As you clean the ramps, stack into loose bundles, so the bulbs and leaves are lined up; this will make them easier to cut). Place on a cutting board and cut off the bulbs; cut the leaves in half crosswise. Reserve both bulbs and leaves. Put a large pot of water on to boil.

In a large non-stick skillet set over low heat, combine the ramp bulbs, olive oil and 1/3 cup water; cover and cook until the bulbs are soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the pepperoncino and cook, tossing frequently, about 1 minute. With a tablespoon, scoop about 1 tablespoon of the oil into a small bowl and reserve. Add the ramp greens to the pan along with 1/2 teaspoon salt and about 3 tablespoons water. Cover and cook over moderately high heat, tossing frequently, until the greens are tender and the water has completely evaporated, about 5 minutes. (If the water evaporates before the greens are cooked, add a tablespoon or two more to the pan. If too much water is left in the pan once the vegetables are cooked through, uncover, increase the heat to high and boil it off, or simply drain it off). Turn the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bulbs and greens are meltingly tender and the greens are no longer stringy. Turn off the heat.

Meanwhile, salt the boiling water well. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still slightly firm to the bite. Using a measuring cup, scoop out about 1/4 cup of the cooking water and reserve. Drain the pasta well.

Pour the reserved cooking water back into the pasta pot. Add the reserved ramp oil, and the cooked ramps and bring to a boil for 30 seconds. Add the drained pasta and toss to coat, seasoning with salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper. Divide the pasta among four warm shallow soup bowls, spooning some of the vegetables over each. Serve at once, passing the cheese on the side.

Serves 4

Salmon Cakes with Sorrel Sauce and Spinach Salad

This was a delicious meal - we will definitely be eating this again! Thank you, Martha Stewart (I don't say that often)! A note of caution - Mike said the sauce wasn't great on it's own but it was phenomenal on top of the salmon. So, don't try to improve the sauce until you taste it with a bit of salmon.

Salmon Cakes with Sorrel Sauce & Over Wintered Spinach Salad

Salmon Cakes with Sorrel Sauce

From Martha Stewart

1 pound cooked or canned salmon, flaked
2/3 cup cooked potato, from Crisp Potato Skins
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 scallions, white and pale-green parts only, finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 cups thinly sliced fresh sorrel leaves (4 ounces)
1/3 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Mix salmon, potato, eggs, scallions, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the pepper in a bowl. Form into twelve 2 1/2-inch cakes.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the cakes, and cook until golden, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining oil and cakes.

Bring cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add sorrel and parsley, and cook for 2 minutes. Puree with lemon juice and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a blender or a food processor until smooth.

Spoon sauce over salmon cakes, and serve immediately.

Sunchoke and Chive Soup

I'll be honest, I don't go crazy over sunchokes. Last year we did pretty well with them but they started to accumulate toward the end of the season and we had to throw some out. This year we vowed to not let any carry over to the next week.

I don't like sunchokes, but I did think this soup was pretty good. And, the bacon isn't optional in my opinion!

Sunchoke & Chive Soup with Spinach Salad

Sunchoke and Chive Soup
From the Harmony Valley Farms Newsletter, May 2007, Week 19

1 lb sunchokes, unpeeled
2 ½ cups vegetable stock
½ bunch chives
1 cup milk
6 slices bacon (optional)
4 Tbsp sour cream (optional)
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 plus 1/8 tsp white pepper

- Cut Sunchokes into 1" chunks. Put into a medium saucepot and add
vegetable stock. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer
gently until the sunchokes are tender. Remove from heat and drain off
liquid into a separate container. Reserve the cooking liquid to add back
to the soup to adjust the consistency.
- In a blender, puree sunchokes, adding cooking liquid as needed to get a
fine puree. Cut chives into 1" pieces and blend into sunchokes along with
milk, salt and pepper.
-Pour the soup back into the saucepot and bring back to a simmer. Adjust
seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.
- Slice bacon into small strips and cook over medium heat in a sauté pan
until crisp. Drain and reserve.
- To serve, ladle hot soup into bowls and garnish with bacon and a dollop of
sour cream if desired.