Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Indian Summer

Today I came home with the intention of doing two things: 1) making a dinner that was Mexican themed and 2) making a dinner that used up some of our corn.

My score: 50%.

This week we got: 2 red peppers, 1 bunch of leeks, 5 ears of corn (again), 1 1/2 pounds of potatoes, 1 pound of salad mix, 1 pound of carrots, 1 head of bok choy, 1 pound of sweet turnips, 3 squash, and 4 pounds of Yonder Farm apples.

I started off by making a corn salad with the corn, red pepper, wax pepper, red onion, mixed greens, cumin, cardamom, cayenne, and tandoori spice. Normally when the word Indian is used in this close proximity to the word corn it is not the country India that is being referred to. Some would say that there isn't a ton of corn used in Indian cooking (of the non-Native American variety). However, I needed this to lead into my main course . . .

Vegetable Tikka Masala. I cooked up some onion, pepper, eggplant, carrot, and potato then simmered it with some tikka masala sauce. I served it over some basmati rice with the tiny amount of naan we had left in the freezer.

For dinner we had some baked apples that Jen had set up earlier yesterday. I added a little maple syrup and granola to the mix, filled the cored apples and baked them.

Now that we have another four pounds of apples left and we're going away for a long weekend I'm going to have to get creative to use up the rest of these apples. Maybe I can make grilled apples with applesauce for dinner tomorrow night.

Have I mentioned that I don't really care for apples all that much?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Rosh Hash-B'Gosh!

I woke up at 3:00AM this morning to go to work, something that I have never had to do before. I keep an odd work schedule but this was the first time I had to go in at this particular hour. While at work I did a little bit of thinking about dinner. What were the key ingredients we had left this week? We had greens, carrots, and apples. And what day was it? Well it's officially Rosh Hashanah as of sundown so why not do a Rosh Hashanah themed meal?

I decided to bring out some recipes from Bubbie Horowitz -- my Jewish grandmother -- and put together a Rosh Hashanah feast that was extremely loosely based on tradition.

We started out with a purchased round challah. I didn't quite have enough time to make my own challah this evening.

While salad is not exactly a staple of your typical Rosh Hashanah feast I decided to do a strange themed salad where I added in some of the flavors of Rosh Hashanah. I put pistachios, dried prunes, lemon and honey on a bed of greens with some grape tomatoes.

For the main course I'd hoped to do brisket but getting home only a couple of hours before dinner that did not allow quite enough time. So instead I made lemon-dill salmon. I also made some thyme roasted potatoes and carrot tzimmes.

With dinner we had some more Shoo Fly wine which we'd had a few weeks back. We'll lie and say it's kosher. While that may not be true it is hard to debate that it is tastier than Manischewitz.

For dinner I was able to use some of our apples to put together an apple cake. I had to really wing it with the cake as I didn't truly have all the proper ingredients (or correct amounts of ingredients that I did have) but it came out nicely. I with I could remember exactly how I did it but unfortunately this may be a one-time creation.

As a surprise Jen brought home this little present for me. Best Rosh Hashanah ever? It is going to be a sweet new year indeed!

Controlling Darth Vader to kill Wookies is the newest Rosh Hashanah tradition.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Celeriac Attack

On Friday morning we said goodbye to our vegetables, packed up our (rented) car and drove up to Rhode Island to celebrate the wedding of our good friends Caolan & Paul. Despite the nonstop rain from Friday morning to Sunday afternoon, the whole weekend was a tremendous success.

Given the amount of time we've spent out of the house this week the vegetables have really been backing up. Tonight was our chance to make a dent in the vegetables in preparation for Tuesday's delivery. We have another wedding coming up next weekend so we're going to need to keep on top of these vegetables for the few days we'll be here this week.

I started by making a very simple celeriac and potato soup. It was extremely easy and very tasty. I just cooked a little bit of garlic and onion in some olive oil then added the cubed celeriac and potato. After a few minutes I covered the root vegetables with some vegetable stock, cooked until tender then mixed with my immersion blender. I used one Idaho potato, which I would recommend over a lower starch potato, and one bulb of celeriac.

We used up some of our remaining salad greens with some feta cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper.

For our main course I took out some of the arugula pesto that I'd made earlier in the the week. I sauteed some of the red peppers, arugula and then fumbled the pesto, dropping 70% of it on the floor and 30% of it in the pan. I'd recommend that as a good ratio if you're making this at home. Then I added some diced tomatoes, capers and a few shrimp.

I cooked some penne then tossed it in the sauce and served.

For dessert we had a delicious sugar cookie that Caolan made as a favor for her wedding. I am very impressed that she made 100 of these cookies and even more impressed at how delicious it was.

I'm working extraordinarily early tomorrow morning and I plan on coming home, napping, then finding new and wondrous ways of using as much of our vegetables as possible before we board a plane to Chicago.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Strange Ride to the Arugula Side

Can you believe that it's the fourteenth week of our farm share already? Remember that time we got some peppers? Or that other time we got some bok choy? Ah, memories. Times like that, they don't come again.

It was a pretty big haul this week. Here's what we got: 3/4 pound of salad mix, 5 bulbs of white, yellow and red onion, 2 hot wax peppers, 1 eggplant, 1/2 pound of arugula, 1 lb of carrot, 2 peppers, 1 bulb of celeriac, 1 bunch of yukina savoy, and 5 ears of corn.

After tasting the arugula (it was strong) I decided that using it as the base for a salad might be a little too much. It was eye-wateringly peppery. So instead I turned the bulk of it a pesto with pecans, olive oil and a little salt.

We had some smoked salmon in the fridge so I combined it with toast, cream cheese, salad mix, capers, some of the sliced red onion and tomato.

We picked up this Tetra Pak wine at the wine store. We just got it because it was super cheap and it looked silly, however, it turned out to be pretty tasty. It was only after getting it home that we realized that it was organic and spouted a pseudo-green philosophy because it uses lighter packaging, blah, blah, blah.

It was better than our last foray into organic wine which was super expensive and kinda tasted of poo.

For some reason, after that salad, I decided to pan roast some portobello mushrooms and serve with a dollop of the arugula pesto. The result was okay but I think it could have been better served to be oven roasted or grilled. However, tonight's dinner was made in less than 20 minutes. That and we don't have a grill.

For dessert I sliced up some of the apples, sprinkled with a little cinnamon, and drizzled with honey. The apples were delicious and generally apples are not my favorite thing in the world. I'm not sure what type of apples they were but they were sweet and not very acidic.

If there's one thing tonight's meal taught me it's that we need some new dishes that are not red. Also, it taught us that we have a TON of food to use up before we leave for our long weekend on Friday morning. Maybe we'll just take some raw peppers to eat on the car ride.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

France Revisited

Tonight we had dinner guests, our friends Joe and Ryan. We decided early on in the evening that we would have a theme to the dinner (other than our farm share vegetables): our trip to France.

We started out with some bread from a local bakery and the picholine olives and artichoke spread we got at the market in Nyons. The olives did not hold up too well from the trip back. We shipped them home from France and I suspect that there may have been some temperature issues on the plane to the United States.

Joe suffered through a slideshow of pictures from France while we enjoyed some of the wine we purchased at Domaine du Moulin.

Our salad tonight was a repeat, using the leftover pecan, mustard vinaigrette from the other night with the lettuce, turnip greens, and a little of the Satur Farms mixed greens.

The entree didn't turn out exactly how I'd planned. The duck breast was delicious but I'd intended to serve it on top of a puree of turnip. Unfortunately my puree came out a little thin so I reclassified it as soup and served it in a demi tasse cup with some chopped chives from the share. I roasted the duck top of some potatoes, celery and garlic from the farm share as well as some carrot and onion. I also steamed some of the green beans from the share and wilted the Swiss chard.

After dinner we showed off some of out Aperitruffe liqueur that we'd picked up in France at Dieulefit. I'm not convinced that the Aperitruffe was the best intermezzo in the world but it is incredibly interesting.

After a small tasting we moved on to Maraschino liqueur that I don't think I've touched in nearly ten years. That was a little more popular than the Aperitruffe. It turns out cherries are more beverage-friendly than truffles.

We concluded our dinner with some Ciao Bella gelato and sorbet. I intended to have each scoop in front of its respective container but instead this turned out like a movie poster where the actor's names are over the wrong actors.

For the purposes of this picture let's pretend that this is a movie based on a John Grisham novel and that the mango sorbet is a lawyer who has gotten in over his head and the maple gingersnap gelato is a congressman who will do anything to get re-elected.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Neato Tomalito

With ten ears of corn in the fridge, one thing was clear: corn was going to be on the menu tonight. On Wednesday I mixed up a batch of batter (if you can call it that) for making sweet corn tomalito. Today I simply heated up the oven to 250 degrees, put the pan of tomalito into a water bath, and put it in the oven. Then I had just one thing to figure out: what are we going to serve this with. Tomalito is a great accompaniment but I felt like it would benefit from a main course.

I timed the tomalito a little poorly so dinner was delayed by 15 minutes. Not a big deal but I'm used to everything turning out perfectly at the same time. Having a late afternoon nap and getting a late start probably didn't help the cause of having dinner ready early.

We had the tomalito with some fresh avocado slices and chopped tomato. I accidentally mixed the ingredients incorrectly so the tomalito came out much more runny than it normally does. The flavor was great, just a little more like cream of wheat than corn pudding.

I cooked up the melange of peppers we'd accumulated over the past two weeks with some onion and garlic, then threw in some air chilled chicken breast. Why air chilled? Why not?

We crafted some quick fajitas to go along with the tomalito and topped with a little fresh sour cream and sliced avocado.

We even walked to our local Gristedes where we watched a woman sneeze all over the produce like a disgusting, ill-trained pig. We went to get a nice Mexican beer to go along with the meal tonight. After seeing Blue Moon we went with that. Mission objective: partially accomplished!

Now, about that tribal stage in Spore . . .

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fettuccine Zucchini

After a two-hour bus ride home I dashed over to pick up our week's farm share. I was starting to get a little nervous because with me and Jen working a lot of late nights, the food has been backing up a little in the fridge. I was worried that I might have to go down to the Lower East Side and toss out peppers and zucchini to the vegans who passed by.

This week we got 1 pound of green beans, 1 bunch of sweet Japanese turnips, 1 head of garlic, 1 head of lettuce, 1 head of Swiss chard, 1 head of celery, 5 ears of corn, 2 Italian peppers, 2 zucchini, 1 bunch of parsley, and 3 pounds of peaches.

For a salad I cleaned the lettuce and the turnip greens, mixed them together with chopped tomato, then finished with a vinaigrette I made from mustard, horseradish, pecan, garlic, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Turnip greens, like beet greens, don't go very far so I was glad we were able to enjoy them while they were fresh.

For the main course I cooked up some garlic, fennel, red pepper and zucchini then tossed it with fresh spinach fettuccine and a spoonful of ricotta cheese. We sprinkled some chopped parsley on top. The problem with the parsley from the farm is that it's so incredibly flavorful that just a light sprinkle means your entire dish tastes like parsley. From now on I think I'm only going to use whole sprigs for garnish. I think this experience has taught me that parsley is not all that great.

Sadly we had yogurt and forgot to include our peaches. We could have used some extra sweetness to counteract the episode of Jon & Kate Plus 8 that we watched where Kate was being even meaner to Jon than normal by mentioning his lack of hair at least a half dozen times and yelling at him for not helping her with something that he only would have known to do if he could read her mind.

With that I'm off to finally play some more Spore. I'm on the cusp of entering the tribal stage and all of this eating is taking away valuable game time.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Souper Fennel

Sunday and Monday were a little hectic. As I worked late both nights Jen was in charge of putting together dinner. On Saturday we decided to make fish tacos to accompany a corn tomalito to use up all the farm share corn we'd gotten. However, lack of time prevailed and we simply had the tacos with some salad.

Jen put together the fixings for fish tacos which we assembled with sour cream, avocado, red cabbage, tomato, and queso fresco.

We enjoyed the tacos with some Mania wine spritzers. Jen is embarrassed about how much she loves wine spritzers but she just does. Deal with it!

Tonight Jen made fennel and potato soup with dill served with fresh bread. Well, bread that was fresh yesterday.

Tomorrow another week of produce arrives. With it, I'm hoping they deliver a few pints of free time which I can use to actually do some cooking this week.

Who am I kidding? If I get any free time I will probably use it to actually play some Spore. Tribal stage, here I come!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Korma Chameleon

Today we woke up at a regular time to go downtown and have lunch at the irregular hour of 11:00AM. We ended up having lunch in Union Square at The Coffee Shop with Jen's friend, Katherine, who was visiting from London.

After lunch we wandered around the Union Square farmer's market for a while trying to determine what we'd get to make dinner. The problem with farmer's markets are that they are populated largely by farmers. The problem with that is that farmers grow fruits and vegetables and we have an abundance of such items at home in our home. What we needed were the non-produce items to combine with our produce at home and create a normal dinner.

We went to a supermarket in Chelsea where we stocked up on some staples and some items to make dinner tonight.

We found out, upon returning home, that the Yankees game from last night had been rescheduled for tonight. Having already puchased a great deal of food for dinner we debated for a while then decided to skip the game. Besides, I don't think my stomach could deal with a repeat of last night's dinner.

It's worth noting that finding out about the game being rescheduled was no thanks to the Yankees terrible website that has no useful information on it. It was only after doing an exhaustive Google search and calling up a Craigslist post from someone selling tickets.

Dinner was quite easy to make. We purchased some Korma sauce from a local New York Indian food place called Maya Kaimal. I sauteed some onion, pepper, eggplant, zucchini and potato in a little butter and canola oil (my makeshift ghee) then simply added the sauce and simmered. Meanwhile Jen defied all culinary logic and made some rice by adding it to boiling water, not by starting it in cold water and bringing it to a boil like I was specifically trained never to do while in culinary school. The most infuriating part was that it turned out exactly the same.

Jen also made a coriander chutney with cilantro, garlic, jalapeno, sugar, salt and lemon juice. We added a touch of honey and olive oil at the end which rounded it out quite nicely.

We enjoyed the chutney on some store-bought naan bread which Jen heated in a pan. So we didn't do a heck of a lot of cooking from scratch this evening. It was quick, easy and delicious.

The evening is now rounding out quite nicely. Our TiVo inexplicably recorded five new episodes of Psych that we hadn't seen before! Much like our old favorite detective show, Monk, Psych is broadcast at a geriatric-friendly time slot on Friday nights. Most of the advertisements are for things like Rascal Scooters or diabetes medicine. I would estimate that at least 45% of the commercials feature either Wilfred Brimley or Sam Waterston, talking at the camera in front of an alternating solid white background or a sterile-looking bookshelf.

I really don't get it. Psych is a great show and features an incredibly smarmy Gen-Xer in James Roday. Why is it that this show is marketed so heavily to people at least twice our age? It seems like a slam dunk for thirty-somethings.

Regardless of the marketing strategy behind Psych we have just enough left to watch for the remaining 58 minutes until Spore is done downloading.

This could possibly be the best Saturday night ever.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Rain Delay

About six months ago I purchased Yankees tickets from a coworker. They were cheap and it was an opportunity to visit Yankee Stadium during one of its last games.

This morning it began raining so I kept a close eye on the weather all day, assuming that the game would be canceled. As the day went on and on the Yankee Stadium Lousy Weather Update Site kept displaying the words: The gates are scheduled to open on time.

When we arrived at Yankee Stadium the rain was coming down harder than it had been all day. We made our way to our seats to observe a stadium that did not look particularly game ready.

At the stadium we waited in line while some teenage jokester made us our disgusting dinner. $27.50 later we were standing off to the side on a ramp choking down the greasy mess that was our dinner.

After our dining experience we went out and sat in our seats, in the rain, for the next hour. From there we were treated to an incredibly long documentary about Babe Ruth where they listed some facts about Babe Ruth including how he was sent from above to help baseball. Also they talked about how the baseball gods were involved. I decided to pass the time by making up my own facts about Babe Ruth:

  • Babe Ruth was the first American to taste an avocado.
  • Babe Ruth did not believe in Eskimos.
  • Babe Ruth had a mole on his back in the shape of Thomas Jefferson.
  • Babe Ruth created his own language that he used to communicate with cats.
  • Babe Ruth once had a toothache that he enjoyed.
  • Babe Ruth was the only person who was unimpressed when he visited the Alamo.
So after over an hour of this we decided to leave Yankee Stadium and go home. We were pretty well soaked and had learned all we could about Babe Ruth. When we got home we finally received word that the game had just been called off. Why they couldn't have made that determination several hours earlier is still a mystery. The Yankee Stadium Lousy Weather Update Site still said: The gates are scheduled to open on time.

Thanks, Yankee Stadium. If we got nothing else from this night we at least learned this: Babe Ruth's body could not produce the enzyme needed to properly digest strawberries.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fenneltastic Pizza

Ah, sweet day off. Ten years ago I may have used a day off to pack up my Dodge Omni with recording gear, drive up to Boston, play music all night in a crummy club, have a footrace down Beacon Street with a friend, attend some random stupid college party and then drive to Cape Cod at 4 o'clock in the morning.

That was then and this is now. Today I stayed at home, did the laundry, cleaned up around the house, did some diagnostic work on my father's computer, had three cups of tea, and made dinner. Not only did I enjoy my day immensely but I had been looking forward to this day all week and I'm now sad that it's over. I was looking forward to this day knowing that that would be exactly what I would do.

Jen was scheduled to work very late this evening then IMed me to say she'd be home at a normal time. Reading that, I quickly snapped into action to get dinner ready and start to work through the vegetables which have been backing up in our fridge lately.

I used the white carrots (as well as some older normal-style orange carrots) to make a carrot ginger soup. I didn't put much else in it other than garlic and onion. It came out pretty good but way too strong on the ginger. I think I'd use half as much next time. I guess we won't have to worry about our blood pressure after tonight's meal.

The lettuce has been getting meager in supply. The past few weeks we've been lucky to make two average sized salads out of what we've been getting. Tonight we used the green leaf we got along with the grape tomatoes, goat cheese, chives, avocado, olive oil, salt and pepper.

One of our classic meals is pizza with shaved fennel and mozzarella cheese. We started using a pizza stone after I got one for Jen a couple years back for Christmas. If you make pizza at home more than once a year, this is well worth the small investment. Crusts are incredible when cooked on the stone. The pizza is simple: any pizza dough (store bought or homemade), any pizza sauce you'd like, mozzarella (preferably fresh), shaved fennel and a light sprinkling of salt and pepper. Bake on preheated stove at 450 degrees for 12-13 minutes. Grate Parmesan on pizza after it comes out of the oven.

As a pairing: Gravity Hills 2003 Syrah. Why this Syrah? Because my favorite Smoking Loon Shiraz was out of stock at the local wine shop I purchased this bottle which cost twice as much and tasted 85% as good.

For dessert we were going to have one of these amazing cookie sandwiches from The Cookie Sandwich Company that Jen got from work. We ended up having more peaches and yogurt. How do I know the cookie sandwiches are delicious? Because I had one for lunch and it was the best thing that has happened to me in a while.

There is another waiting in the fridge. I just may pay it a visit before bed.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Case for Lateness

Since Nate is rocking the Jersey route these days, it was I who ran out of work at 6pm to try and make the farm share pickup on time. For the CSA allows you to pick up your bounty from 4:30 to 7:30 and from 4:30 to 7:30 only -- and if the two times I've been there near 7 have been any indication, that 7:30pm timeframe might be purely theoretical. Last time I went to pick up near the witching hour, I was punished with getting no fruit -- it had all run out, and they were offering a double share the next week (when we were in France, bummer!) But this time, I feel my late arrival was richly rewarded. For example, they were out of snap beans and arugula, of which we were to take 2 lbs and 1/2 lb, respectively. But since they were out, in their place I got an additional fennel (score!) and a bunch of chives (also score!) -- both of which I like better than the original share allotment. Advantage: us.

This is what we took home this week: 5 giant ears of corn, 1 lb of potatoes, 1 head of lettuce, 3 zucchini, 2 bulbs of fennel, 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, 1 orange pepper, 1 green pepper, 1 bunch of chives, 1 bunch of dill.

We also got an eggplant that, viewed from a certain angle, looks like the face of the man in the moon.

Unfortunately, the old Tuesday dilemma is/was in full effect: what to make at 7:30pm? The double jeopardy was that Nate's campaign to rid our freezer, shelves and fridge of hangers-on meant that the cupboards were bare, devoid of any meats, pastas, main dishes of any kinds.

Hey, y'all! It's Nate comin' at ya! Jen told me to write about the salad because I made (read: assembled) it. Well, merely took what we had lying around and combined it. That's about it! We had some green zebra tomato left so I put that on some of the Satur Farms greens, some Coach Farms goat cheese, slivered almonds, some of the dill and avocado.

Now back to our cheatin' ways . . .

So we ordered a rotisserie chicken. And baked beans. And cornbread. I sauteed some garlic and then steamed the green beans left over from last week's share with said garlic. We served that with the delivery and a baked potato (again, last week's share), and, all in all, it was delicious.

For dessert, we had a redux of the brilliant brownie, peach and ice cream combo. Delish. Then we looked at car insurance quotes online. It was a rad night.