Sunday, June 16, 2013

Jaime's Summer CSA Delivery #2 - June 13, 2013


This week's bounty included more swiss chard, snap peas, cucumbers, radishes, and cucumbers. Also, a head of fennel (which I braised with shallots and cardamom, following the recipe in From Asparagus to Zucchini - delicious!), a head of napa cabbage, raspberries, and the first appearance of summer squash.

It has been fruit central around here. We have been picking mulberries from the neighborhood trees and were happy to get our first little harvest of tart cherries from our new tree. We also managed to make it out to Hollin Farms for the first and only day of pick-your-own cherries for the season. And we harvested the peaches from our tree today. We filled this basket four times!


The mulberries and cherries have been frozen for now. When things settle down, I'll make some jam. I have canned 15 pints of peaches and still have a full basket left of underripe peaches that need to soften up.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Roasted Cod and Radishes - June 4, 2013


Richie is traveling this week and so that means I'm on my own for dinners and that means only one thing... FISH! I also had a bunch of radishes from our last CSA share and I don't really care for them raw (nor does my digestive track), so I wanted to use them in some kind of cooked recipe.

This dish was inspired by a recipe for roasted cod and potatoes in Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, except that I used radishes in place of the potatoes and then adjusted the roasting time to account for the smaller size of the radishes. I topped the portion with a little homemade yogurt and some fresh dill. The nice thing about this dish is that everything cooked in a single pan in the oven, so clean up was minimal and the fish smell didn't permeate the house. Next time, I might not thin slice the radishes as I would have liked a little more substance to them. Otherwise, a winner!

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Strawberries - June 1, 2013

I was just looking over last year's posts and realize that it isn't just my imagination and impatience that thinks the spring/summer fruits are taking forever to come into season this year. Last year we were picking strawberries in mid-May and already had peaches canned by June 1!

2013 is off to a later start, but the fruit that we are getting is tastier than I remember. We got up early this morning and drove out to Hollin Farms in Delaplane, VA. It is just a bit more than an hour drive from our house, but such a beautiful drive that we don't mind taking multiple trips out there, beginning with strawberries today! We each got a flat and decided just to pick until we were sick of picking or until the boxes were full, whichever came first. That ended up being just a bit over 20 lbs.


Then a spent the rest of the day sorting, cleaning, washing, jamming, and freezing! I put up (love that quaint phrase) nine pints of honey-sweetened jam and seven quarts of whole berries in the freezer. There are another three quarts or so that were less than ripe sitting on the counter, and another quart that I held back just for us to enjoy.

Tonight we had a few of them as grain-free, lactose-free, and refined sugar-free strawberry shortcakes.


The cake is an almond flour, honey sweetened cupcake and the cream is whipped coconut milk. I haven't quite perfected the technique yet, but it was delicious.

Memorial Day Crustless Quiche - May 27, 2013



Nick and I were in Madison over Memorial weekend (yay!), celebrating a special anniversary with dear friends (Happy 10th, Matt and Nikki!), but were back home in time for a Monday brunch.  When my sister, Kate, was in town the last couple weeks, she made herself these fun, crustless quiches that she would re-heat for a quick and easy, protein-packed lunch.  Stealing inspiration from wherever I can find it, I decided to do something similar for a holiday brunch.

The great thing about these quiches is that you can use any wild and crazy combination of vegetables and cheese that you have lying around.  I do so love a good "kitchen sink" recipe.  For my egg base, I consulted the ever-useful "How to Cook Everything," and found a suitable recipe.  For our quiche add-ins, we used blanched asparagus, spinach, chopped green garlic, chopped ramps, feta, and ricotta cheese.  It turned out really well, although it did need to bake about a half hour longer than the directions implied.  Oh well, it was worth the wait. I didn't even miss the crust.
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Friday, May 31, 2013

Jaime's Summer CSA Delivery #1 - May 30, 2013

The summer share started this week and I'm so excited to have something other than leafy greens to inspire my cooking.


Our first delivery of the summer season included the colorful veggies in the picture above. Cucumbers, kohlrabi, turnips, radishes, bok choi, asparagus, kale, snap peas, and the biggest head of romaine lettuce I've every seen!

Green Posole - May 20, 2013



I found this recipe while perusing one of my favorite inspirational food blogs, Yummy Supper. It looked so different from anything I had made recently and actually got me excited to think about cooking again.  Nick helped me with this one since I was at a workshop all weekend, and together we made a great dinner.  I was able to snag a bag of Rancho Gordo hominy at the Co-op and with that, we were off and running.  I followed Erin's directions pretty closely.  We garnished our bowls with avocado, cilantro, chopped black radishes from our CSA, and lots of fresh lime juice.  It had a great, summery flavor, but since it was a bowl of warm soup, it was perfect for this cold and rainy spring weather we've been enjoying here in the Midwest.
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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Jess & Nick's CSA Delivery #2 - May 23, 2012



Here is what Nick and I found in our farm share box last week.  Starting in the top left we have our herb pack.  I always look forward to getting this little pack each spring and I have my basil, rosemary, parsley and thyme planted and sitting out on the deck already.  I shared the sage, oregano, and summer savory with my sister since I have huge shrubs of those planted in the yard from previous herb packs and they come back every year.  Moving clockwise brings us to our second, and probably last, ramp bundle of the season.  We usually pickle these so we can extend the season just a bit longer.  In the bottom right we have green garlic and parsnips, followed by chives, and then our first bunch of asparagus of the year!  Unfortunately we were out of town for Memorial Weekend and didn't get to the asparagus as early as I would have liked.  But, we broiled it up last night and topped with poached eggs, shaved parmesan, chopped ramps, fresh lemon juice, plus salt and pepper to taste.  Delicious!  Not pictured is a big bag of sweet, overwintered spinach, which is always the best of the year in my opinion.

Thank you Harmony Valley Farm!


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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

"Here we go round the mulberry bush..." - May 29, 2013

The urban foraging season has begun! With the first 90+ degree day, the mulberry trees in our neighborhood just started ripening and dropping fruit today. I picked these this morning on my walk with Lily and then went back out this evening and picked about a quart from the easily reached branches.


Last year I made some preserves and experimented with a few baked goods. I also froze a few bags when I ran out of ideas and they ended up being delicious in smoothies during the winter when local and organic fruit was scarce, so I plan on doing more of that this year.

I also picked up some rhubarb at the market last weekend am thinking some kind of rhubarb-mulberry crisp might be good... Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Jaime's Spring CSA Share #5

This was the 5th and final share of the spring season. Exciting to think that "summer" begins now!


Obviously the theme of this week is green. A little bit of pink and orange on the stems of the Swiss chard, but otherwise we are a bit starved for color variety! In addition to the chard, we also got more kale, spinach, and what was described as an "Asian braising mix." Spinach will be in my omelets in the coming weeks and the kale and chard will get sautéed with some spices and coconut milk. Not sure what I will do with the mix... 

Rounding out the share were two pounds of asparagus (one already consumed), cucumbers (to become pickles for Richie), green onions, and two dozen eggs (see spinach omelets mentioned above).

Sorry that I forgot to write about the 4th share. Not sure right now what was in it but it was probably green!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Nettle-Phyllo Pie - May 13, 2013



When I was researching recipes for the stinging nettles that arrived in our CSA box last week, I came across the advice to just use nettles in place of other greens in any recipe.  This drastically broadened my cooking options, as you can imagine.  I ended up picking out this recipe from the spinach section of "Asparagus to Zucchini" and it was delicious.

Working with stinging nettles is quite tedious (as is phyllo dough).  I wore gloves to pick the leaves from the stems so I wouldn't get stung.  Once they are cooked, the sting goes away.  I did supplement with a handful of spinach leaves, as well.  For the onions it called for, I used ramps, also from our CSA box.  The only other change I made was using ricotta in place of cottage cheese.

This was a delicious way to use up our nettles, even if it's a bit labor intensive for a weeknight dinner.  It does make a large amount.  I cut the recipe in half and we'll still eat for three nights, so if you average it over three dinners, perhaps it's not such a bad investment of time.
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Friday, May 10, 2013

Sorrel-Lime Cooler - May 9, 2013



I made this delightful concoction from a recipe included in the newsletter from our CSA farm.   It's interesting ingredient list caught my attention.  A soda made from sorrel leaves?  I'm in.



The recipe instructs to blend together sorrel leaves, lime juice, water and maple syrup in a blender and puree until smooth.  I opted not to strain it, but you could if you wanted.  To make up your cooler, simply add a bit of sorrel-lime juice to a glass and top with soda water. 

This was really fresh and bright.  I enjoyed mine straight-up, but it would also be lovely as a mixer for a summery cocktail (have you figured out my coping mechanism over these last few frozen weeks here in Minneapolis?).  Gin would be my first choice, but it would be fun to try other combinations as well.
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Jess & Nick's CSA Delivery #1 - May 9, 2013



Our first farm share of the 2013 season has arrived!  What a very welcome sight this is after an insanely cold and snowy Minnesota spring.  Our first fresh vegetables of the season include nettles; sunchokes; parsnips and black radishes; chives; our beloved ramps; and bright, lemony sorrel. 

Last night we made smorrebrod with a little smoked salmon spread, chopped chives and ramps, and thinly sliced radishes.  Delicious.  This box is nourishing our winter weary souls as much as our bodies.  Thank you Harmony Valley Farm, for being a warm and beautiful light at the end of a long, dark, and very cold tunnel.
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Thursday, May 09, 2013

Hen with Garlic Sage Sauce - May 8, 2013 (and a puppy birthday party)


It's no secret that the Hartmans are pretty big food TV junkies. Richie in particular has become a bit of a Top Chef addict and has even purchased seasons 1-5 on iTunes to watch whenever he needs a fix! Therefore we couldn't help but be drawn in when we saw season 5's Italian star, Fabio Viviani, staring back at us from the book display at Costco. Even though we have a plethora of Italian cookbooks at home, he charmed his way into our cart anyway and I'm glad he did as the first dish we made from it was definitely a winner.

This is his recipe for "hen with garlic sage sauce" and my only quibble is that his directions were a bit imprecise. I'm pretty comfortable in the kitchen, so "cook until done" was OK with me but I would imagine it might not work for less seasoned cooks. The end result was absolutely delicious and a great use of some of our abundant herb garden growth.

I also made a grain free focaccia bread and ate the dish with steamed green beans. Richie had his over angel hair pasta.


In other news, Lily is no longer a puppy! She turned one on May 2 so of course we had a party. I made four kinds of cupcakes (vanilla cake with chocolate frosting, grain free carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, grain free toasted coconut, and peanut butter pumpkin for the dogs) and we invited all her two and four legged friends to a little gathering in the common space next to our house. 


Here is a picture of Lily with two of her four-legged friends. She's the one in the middle.



Friday, April 19, 2013

Jaime's Spring CSA Share #3

The highlight of this week's share are these beautiful multi-colored eggs. So pretty, I almost don't want to eat them!


The bag was otherwise fairly light. All the over-wintered produce is gone and the spring stuff is slower than normal this year.


We got some rosemary that made the car as I drove home smell so divine, although that is a bit like bringing coals to Newcastle as my potted plant is quite prolific and keeps us in more rosemary year round than we know what to do with. We also had some lovely green garlic, another big bunch of green onions (oops, I'm falling behind on my green onion consumption - we only just finished the first bunch and now have two in the fridge!), some more kale, a head of romaine lettuce, a bag of mixed leaf lettuce, and some delicious goat feta from Lovers Retreat Farm & Dairy in the cutest little box.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Sirloin Steak and Mustard Greens - April 7, 2013

Dear mustard greens,

It's not you, it's me...


I wanted to like mustard greens. I tried. I researched recipes, I chopped shallots and garlic, I sautéed. And I even ate about half of what you see here on my plate before I dropped my fork and said, "These do not taste good." And so we broke up. Sorry, mustard greens. There must be someone out there for you, but it isn't me.

In happier news, this weekend I made grain free and refined sugar free doughnuts that are legal for my diet. And they were delicious!


This was the recipe. Definitely a keeper!

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Jaime's Spring CSA Share #2

I took a brief business trip to Arizona this week and was greeted at the airport by Richie and Lily, and this bag of fresh goodies in the car! What could be better than that? I was anxious to get home and take a nice picture before the natural light was all gone but rush hour traffic from Dulles made that hard.

This week's bounty included a dozen pastured eggs, green onions, sweet potatoes, purple top turnips, red Savoy cabbage, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, mustard greens, kale, and some local honey.

I am especially excited for the Brussels sprouts and turnips. Going to be incorporating both of those into the meal plans for the next couple days, probably roasted.

Not sure what to do with all of the greens.. I don't digest them well when raw, so I am on the lookout for some good recipe ideas. As part of my menu planning, I've started a Pinterest board of ideas called "What I'm Eating This Week"... Feel free to follow me!

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Ramen Bowl with Braised Pork Belly - March 26, 2013



This colorful bowl is only semi-homemade.  On my last visit to Trader Joe's, I found 'spicy seaweed ramen' packets, complete with the "fresh" noodles, a sauce packet and a seaweed seasoning package.  I picked them up thinking they'd be great for a quick, weeknight dinner.

As chance would have it, Nick and I were grocery shopping about a week later and came across some pork belly at the co-op meat counter.  I immediately thought of the ramen packets at home and knew this would be the fun addition needed to make the dinner a little special.

I did a little research online and quickly found out that people who make their own ramen at home tend to be religiously devoted to their craft.  Homemade ramen bowls were a two to three day project, minimum.  That's even with store bought noodles. I could see my plan of a quick weeknight dinner evaporating.

In the end, I did spread this out over two days, but still took every possible short cut, and this still turned out to be quite edible, very good, even.  I followed these directions to make my braised pork belly the day before (Sunday, so a weekend when I had a little extra time).  It worked out fine, although made the house smell of greasy pork smoke for several days (not as great as it might sound).  The pork wasn't transcendently tender, so described as the result of this method, but it was acceptably toothsome.  Since my pork belly was already cut into small slabs, I couldn't make the fancy roll of pork needed for the second method to work, though to me it seems preferable.  Perhaps next time.



Once the pork belly was cooked, this became a quick and easy dinner.  Since I wasn't making homemade stock, but rather just using the enclosed sauce packet, I saved myself quite a bit of time.  Especially compared to this broth recipe.  All I really needed to to was "soft boil" some eggs. I did this by putting two eggs in a pot with cold water, heating the pot to boiling, turning off the heat, and letting the eggs sit for five minutes before running them under cold water and peeling off the shells.  They sat in the pork braising liquid to marinate while I cooked the noodles.  We topped the bowls with the pork belly, eggs, sliced scallions, and the seaweed and kimchi from the seasoning packet included with the packaged ramen.

It was good, and Nick and I enjoyed it.  I'm sure ramen snobs would turn up their noses, but it worked for us.  By the way, this marks the thousandth post here on the old Dinner Club blog.  THOUSANDTH.  Not bad for a little hobby blog with a minuscule following.  Things have changed a lot since those early posts, texts really, back and forth to each other.  I'm happy that we're still cooking, still enjoying good food, and still good friends.  I hope we see a thousand more dinners posted here.
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Monday, April 01, 2013

Christmas 2012 Baking - December 2012


















Okay, let's do this. Time to get the Christmas baking from 2012 off of my "to blog" list. These first two you should recognize from last year. Peppermint bark and Cardamom Crescents. They are delicious and fairly easy to make. Perfect for the busy Christmas season (and it was BUSY this year!).

















Next up is this lovely Orange Cardamom Bundt Cake.  We received the most beautiful box of citrus from Greg and JJ this year.  When it arrived at our doorstep, I nearly cried I was so excited.  Our box had a lovely organic assortment, including stem and leaf clementines, satsuma mandarins, rio star grapefruit, and fukumoto navel oranges.  I can't think of a more luxurious gift to get in the middle of a cold and snowy Minnesota December than a box of warm and sunny California citrus.  Along with the fruit, a newsletter with the recipe for this cake was included.  I replaced the canola oil with coconut oil, but otherwise kept everything the same.  We brought this with us to Madison (unglazed) to share with Greg and JJ on our December visit.  It was amazing.




















This delectable Scandinavian recipe is from the December 2012 Bon Appetit magazine and I had the perfect opportunity to make it for Anna and Tom's New Year's Eve visit.  Fyrstekake is a Norwegian Cardamom-Almond tart and I can tell you that it is crazy good.  After a brief and chilly cross country ski outing to Theodore Wirth Park, the four of us returned to our house for cassoulet, and fyrstekake by the fire, complete with a New Glarus beer tasting flight.  A perfect way to ring in the New Year, if you ask me.












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And finally, these are the Butterfinger truffles that I never got around to making last year.  I am happy that I made these up this year.  Truffles are great because they offer a decadent and elegant chocolate option on your cookie plate, but they are no-bake, and thus require very little effort.  In other words, they are a good bang for your buck.

Whew, I feel better now that this is blogged.  Thank you for indulging me in this tardiness.  Even though this is way past due, I like to have it chronicled here so I can check back and see what I did "last year" for the holidays.  

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Homemade Irish Cream - March 17, 2013



For St. Patrick's Day this year, in addition to our home-cured corned beef, I made some Irish cream.  My mom has made this recipe for years, although oddly, usually at Christmas, instead of St. Patrick's Day.  My Irish heritage that I proudly claim every March 17th (and every other day of the year), comes from mom.  She even has a suitably Irish name, Colleen.  Because of this, in my family we refer to this as Colleen's Irish Cream.




This is a full two weeks late, I realize, but you've come to expect that from me by now.  In fact, I'm jumping ahead here, as I still have my Christmas baking to post.  Oh well, this doesn't have to be a one day per year indulgence, although after you see the ingredients, you may want to limit it to that.  Nick's parents and Aunt Judy were visiting us over the St. Patrick's Day weekend this year, so we all enjoyed a glass of this after our dinner.

Here's the recipe straight from Colleen, with a few Jess tweaks:

Irish Cream

4 eggs*
1 15oz  can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/3 C Irish whiskey
1 1/2 C half and half
1/4 C brewed espresso
3 Tbsp chocolate syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp coconut extract
1/4 tsp almond extract

Place all ingredients in blender (warning, this didn't all fit in my blender, so I omitted the whiskey and mixed it in later) and blend to combine.  Place in a bottle and keep chilled.  Shake before serving.

*yes, raw eggs, so use at your own risk.  These help to emulsify all the ingredients and make it thicker and richer, like ice cream.  If you are squeamish about this ingredient, you can omit it and still have a delicious, if slightly thinner, Irish cream. 

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Cowboy Christmas Breakfast



Yeah, that's right.  While other Dinner Clubbers are posting seasonally appropriate dinners, I'm still working on Christmas brunches.  My cooking, and thus blogging, has been frustratingly uninspired of late, the worst kind of writers' block (cookers' block?).  Nevertheless, Jaime's recent posting has guilted me into at least trying to get back into the swing of things.


This recipe is from Gourmet, and we made it back in December, on our holiday visit to Madison.  It need not, however, be reserved for Christmas.  Case-in-point, we also made in on our February visit to Milwaukee to see Dinner Clubbers Matt and Nikki.  It serves a crowd and can be put together the night before, which is a valuable morning time saver.  Possibly a good choice for Easter brunch?  Bam!  See how I brought this old brunch post up to date? 

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