Friday, May 28, 2010

Waffles with Rhubarb and Blood Orange Compote - May 28, 2010

Sourdough Waffles with Rhubarb-Blood Orange Compote and Yogurt

It's a bittersweet Friday treat this week. This was Natalie and Jamie's send-off meal on their last morning as Minneapolis residents. They are on their way West where they will join up with (what seems like too many of) our friends and family living in the Portland area. We miss them all so much. Okay, enough of the bitter...on to the sweet. I made the compote by combining the remainder of our CSA rhubarb with about 4 blood oranges, rinds and all, and cooking them together in a sauce pot until the rhubarb softened. It ended up being about 10 - 12 minutes of simmering. I added about two tbsp of local wildflower honey to sweeten it up a bit. After this cooled, I pureed everything and ended up with roughly two cups of this lovely salmon colored (but not flavored) compote. The waffles are another recipe from Family Meals, but I substituted whole wheat pastry flour for the all-purpose. Topped with homemade yogurt and the rhubarb mixture, these made for a delicious breakfast.
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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wild Rice with Spring Turnips and Currants - May 26, 2010

Wild Rice mixed with Turnips, Turnip Greens and Dried Currants

Perusing through the turnip section of Asparagus to Zucchini, I spied a recipe utilizing the complete turnip, root to tip. I thought it was a great idea and we gave it a try last night with the spring turnips we received from our CSA share. For my version I diced an onion, cubed about 10 small turnip roots, and roughly chopped the turnip greens. I sauteed the onions in butter until they were soft and then threw in the turnip roots along with a dash of salt. After about 5-7 minutes the turnips were softening and beginning to brown. Next I tossed in the greens and about a half cup of dried currants (any dried fruit of your preference could be used here). Once the greens were wilted (about 2 min), I turned off the heat and mixed everything into some wild rice I had prepared earlier (here again, any grain/pasta/rice of your choice would work). We both thought this was very good, and Nick had the leftovers for lunch today, topped with his favorite smoked trout.
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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Garlic Shrimp with Chinese Salad - May 25, 2010

Garlic Shrimp over Hon Tsai Tai Greens with Chinese Dressing

Nick checked out Two Dudes One Pan from the library and we've been perusing for meal inspiration involving minimal dish washing. I made a variation of their "Killer Garlic Shrimp" recipe last night. I simply tossed roughly a pound of shrimp with olive oil and four cloves of minced garlic and let it marinate for 30 minutes or so before adding to a hot skillet and cooking until pink. Instead of the garnishes the recipe suggested, I decided to make a bed of greens using our bunch of Hon Tsai Tai (Brassica Rapa) from the CSA share. In Asparagus to Zucchini I found a Chinese Salad Dressing recipe and made a version of it utilizing supplies we had. My version included 1/4 cup of oil made up of equal parts toasted sesame oil and olive oil, one green garlic chopped finely, 1 approximate tsp grated fresh ginger, 1 approximate tsp fresh lemon juice, and 1 approximate tsp sesame seeds all mixed together and tossed with the greens. I also threw in some chopped chives and chopped salad burnet for good measure. Quick, easy and delicious.
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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Open-Faced Trout and Radish Sandwich - May 24, 2010

Smoked Trout, Radish, Arugula, and Sheep's Milk Cheese on Whole Wheat Sourdough

Record setting heat (95 deg F) here in Minneapolis yesterday made cooking a non-option, or at least not a very desirable one. Lucky for us we had a refrigerator full of fresh ingredients that did not require the application of heat. We decided on open-faced sandwiches (inspired by a description from Ellen) which we topped with unbelievably delicious Love Tree Farm cave-aged sheep's milk cheese (my new obsession) purchased at Kingfield's Farmers' Market on Sunday, arugula from our CSA share tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper, sliced radishes (also from the farm), and canned smoked trout. Certainly it was a tasty way to beat the heat.
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Monday, May 24, 2010

Spring Burgers with Parsnip Ribbons - May 21, 2010

Grilled Burgers, Blue Cheese, and Pickled Ramps on Whole Wheat Buns with Parsnip Ribbons

We pulled the grill out of hibernation last week for this meal. The burgers are 1/5 pound Thousand Hills beef with chopped onions and savory mixed in. We topped with blue cheese crumbles and some of our pickled ramps, all piled onto some fresh, homemade wheat buns. We're trying to significantly cut back on our red meat consumption, so when we do indulge, we like to do it up right. For a side (but truth be told, the star of the meal), Nick fried up some sweet, over-wintered parsnip ribbons from Harmony Valley Farm. The concentrated sugars stored up in these root veggies during our cold, dark winter really made for quite a treat.
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Friday, May 21, 2010

Graham Crackers - May 15, 2010

Almond Butter Graham Crackers

Happy Friday! For this week's treat (actually made last week), I offer you homemade almond butter graham crackers. I found this brilliant idea and recipe here, via the Kitchn. I substituted Trader Joe's Almond Butter with Roasted Flax Seeds for the peanut butter since that was what I had on hand, and I think it would be fun to try them with other nut butters too (mmm, cashew). They turned out beautifully and tasted delectable. These came along with us to Madison and we used them for s'mores around the bonfire Saturday night. Obviously that was super tasty, but I think the crackers are just as good on their own for a healthy, sweet snack.
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Thursday, May 20, 2010

This Week's Veggies - May 20, 2010

New Delivery, Fun Veggies

Our second delivery from the Farm arrived today (we're on the every other week plan, which suits the two of us and our eating habits well). This week brings more fun items, including a new green called salad burnet, which I am excited to try. It's description of leaves tasting a bit like cucumber has my interest piqued and I'm wondering if some of it won't find it's way into a Pimm's Cup for me to sip on the porch this weekend. Speaking of alcoholic beverages, we might get a batch of rhubarb vodka started with some of this week's rhubarb. I've already planted my herbs from the pack and am looking forward to fresh basil and rosemary all summer long. Green garlic is a favorite from last year and, with all the fun greens this week, including arugula in the choice box, I think we'll be enjoying some more great salads.

Thanks Harmony Valley Farm!
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Cajun-Cuban Beans and Rice with Corn - May 17, 2010

Pinto Beans, Brown Basmati Rice and Shoepeg Corn with Cajun Seasonings and Cuban influence

We had some leftover rice from a stir fry meal last week and some pinto beans in the freezer, so I did a bit of searching on one of my favorite food sites, key words 'rice and beans,' and found a couple recipes, here and here, that sounded good. Combining elements from each, we ended up with the meal you see here. I had a can of shoepeg corn and decided to add it for some interest. I also chopped up some fresh savory, oregano, chives and thyme to add some flavor. Since we don't have 'Cajun' seasoning on the shelf, I combined cayenne, chili powder and smoked Spanish Paprika. To finish, I added some French breakfast radishes for garnish and crunch.
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Two Salads - May 16 & 18, 2010

Bacon and Egg Salad

We've been indulging in salads galore around here, happy to have lots of fresh, local, spring greens at our fingertips thanks to our CSA farm. The first is this year's version of a bacon and egg salad. I chopped up a piece of bacon and sauteed it until crispy. After removing it from the pan and setting aside, I added half of a small chopped onion to the rendered bacon fat and cooked until soft. I added a splash of white wine vinegar to the pan, stirred for another minute or so and then turned off the heat. I added the bacon back into the pan, and then our bag of saute greens to wilt them slightly. Meanwhile, Nick was busy poaching a couple of eggs. We filled bowls with the bacon dressed saute greens, topped with our poached eggs, and added salt and pepper to taste. The saute greens are full of flavor, some are spicy, some mustard-y, and a great compliment to some bacon and eggs.

Mixed Greens with Pickled Ramps and Goat Cheese

Sunday night, after our drive home from Madison and a weekend indulging in almond croissants and grilled brats, we made this salad. Spinach, sorrel and a tiny handful of some saute greens, dressed simply with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and then topped with some creamy goat cheese and home-pickled ramps, was the perfect way to end the weekend.
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Monday, May 17, 2010

Smoked Trout Cakes - May 13, 2010

Pan-Fried Smoked Trout Cakes with Lemony Salad

Nick found this recipe and made us dinner last Thursday. I pitched in with the salad, which was extra lemony thanks to the addition of some sorrel. Nick made some modifications to the cakes, including substituting plain yogurt for the mayo, chives for the scallions, sunflower sesame bread crumbs for the panko, and omitting the capers. For the salad, I used spinach and sorrel instead of the suggested mache or watercress. We both thought the end result was super delicious. And, as a cholesterol lowering bonus, that trout is packed with omega-3's.
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Springtime in Madison - May 15 - 16, 2010

Madison Highlights

Nick and I are back from a beautiful spring weekend in Madison! Saturday was a perfect day to be out and about and we took full advantage by getting an early start. Highlights include a trip to the Dane County Farmers' Market at the State Capital; a trillium purchased at the market to bring home; my favorite almond croissant from Cafe Soleil; a colorful assortment of brews, enjoyed outdoors at Capital Brewery's Beer Garden; vibrant spring flowers for sale; and a fun string quartet on State Street entertaining us with covers from Journey and other 80's favorites.

Capital Brewery's 'Supper Club' Lager

We were also introduced to Capital's new brew that could almost be our signature beer. I like how it's described as 'not bad' right on the box. Perhaps we will have to lobby for a 'Dinner Club' ale next year?

Thanks to Greg, JJ, and family for hosting us last minute!
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Friday, May 14, 2010

Marzipan and Dandelion Croissants - May 9, 2010

Rustic Marzipan and Dandelion Croissants

Happy Friday everyone. I made these 'croissants' last weekend and have been waiting all week to share. I pulled some handy puff pastry out of the freezer to start. Then I made some truly rustic marzipan by combining a handful of slivered almonds and a spoonful of honey in a food processor and pureeing until the mix was reasonably smooth. I added a little extra honey partway through just to get the consistency right. Next I rolled out my puff pastry in a rectangle to 1/4 -1/8th inch thickness. After dividing the dough into four equal pieces, I loaded a spoonful of marzipan and a spoonful of dandelion jelly into each piece and rolled it up, sealing the edges. Finally, after baking for 15 to 20 minutes in a 400 deg oven they were ready. And they were yummy!
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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Broccoli Gratin - May 12, 2010

Broccoli Gratin

This chilly, rainy weather has me craving comfort food. Last night broccoli gratin satisfied that need. Nick checked out a couple of cookbooks from the library this week, one of them being Family Meals: Creating Traditions in the Kitchen by Maria Helm Sinskey. The broccoli gratin is on page 60. I love that this recipe was in the dairy section rather than the veggie. Whole milk, a motley mix of cheeses and a splash of heavy cream thrown in at the end for good measure has this recipe securely placed in the right chapter. Dairy puts the comfort in comfort food, my friends.
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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sunchoke and Rhubarb Stir Fry - May 11, 2010

Sunchoke, Rhubarb, Crimini, and Red Russian Kale Stir Fry

Last night I decided to throw a CSA veggie medley into the wok and see how it would turn out. I heated a little peanut oil in the wok and then threw in chopped sunchokes, rhubarb, crimini mushrooms and red Russian kale, in that order. A clove of minced fresh garlic and a splash or two of tamari finished things off.

...Over Rice

We put this over some brown Basmati rice to serve. Verdict? It was pretty good, although I did think the tartness of the rhubarb to be a bit jarring on the palate combined with the earthiness of the rest of the veggies. Next time I might try half peanut oil and half toasted sesame oil to tone that down a bit, or just omit the rhubarb altogether. Also, I should have chopped up the kale more than I did, as it was a bit stringy and difficult to chew. The devil is, as they say, in the details.
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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Smoked Trout and Sunchoke Salad - May 9, 2010

Smoked Trout and Sunchoke Salad with Sunflower Sesame 'Crackers'

This is our favorite sunchoke (aka Jerusalem artichoke) recipe that we've adapted from 'Asparagus to Zucchini.' We picked up smoked trout from Star Prairie at the Mill City Farmers' Market on Saturday and of course got some lovely sunchokes in our CSA delivery. We mixed a trout fillet with some plain yogurt, lemon juice, diced sunchokes and chopped ramps in a food processor (much like a tuna salad, but with trout and sunchokes standing in for the tuna and celery). We placed this salad on a bed of spinach and sorrel. The lemon flavor of the sorrel was great with the fish. We garnished with some of the French breakfast radishes and served with some sunflower sesame toasts.
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Monday, May 10, 2010

Spring Tabbouleh plus Breakfast Asparagus - May 7, 2010

Spring Tabbouleh: Bulgar with Asparagus, Saute Greens, and Ramps

This was our first use for the asparagus from the CSA share. I brushed it with olive oil and a little salt and grilled the stalks until I liked the looks of them. After I pulled them off the grill pan and turned off the heat, I threw a handful of saute greens on the pan to wilt them slightly with the residual heat. These got thrown into the bowl of bulgar along with the asparagus, cut into inch-long pieces, and some chopped ramps. I poured a quickly prepared mustard vinaigrette (mustard, red wine vinegar, olive oil) in the bowl, and some salt and pepper to taste and gave everything one last toss before serving. We each dusted a bit of Pecorino cheese on top of our portions to dress it up a bit. It was delicious and reminded me very much of a fresh spring version of one of my summer favorites, Tabbouleh.

Breakfast Asparagus

We used the rest of our asparagus in breakfast preparations over the weekend. Nick made an asparagus and smoked provolone omelette, which we had over sunflower sesame toast on Saturday. Sunday's version included bacon. Nick grilled the asparagus and then added it to the saute pan with the cooked bacon, fried some eggs, and loaded everything up on yet another piece of sunflower sesame toast. What a treat!
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Saturday, May 08, 2010

Champagne Limoncello Cocktail with Mint - May 8, 2010

a.k.a. The Bubble-Mint Lemon-JLO

It was my Birthday over the weekend and in the Dinner Club tradition of 2010 I (shamelessly) made myself a signature birthday cocktail. I found the recipe here. Instead of regular limoncello, I used the organic Lemongrass Cello that Kate and Scott got me for Christmas. Otherwise I stuck to the recipe.

LOFT Lemongrass Cello Liqueur

Yum! So many things to love about this's chartreuse, bubbly, citrus-y, and minty. I've noticed my mint is up in the yard, and perhaps yours is too. I think this is a very fun use for it. It's something a little different than the average mimosa. I love the lemongrass flavor, but I think regular limoncello would be just as tasty. Consider it for a spring brunch, or perhaps to toast Mom today.

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Friday, May 07, 2010

Spring Salad - May 6, 2010

Spinach Salad with Ramps, Sorrel, and Chives over Poached Egg and Toast

We took full advantage of our Harmony Valley Farm bounty last night and made a huge salad dressed with oregano infused olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The toast, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with cracked pepper served as a giant crouton and the egg made everything look pretty. It was a perfect way to start off CSA season.

This weekend will be full of treats as it's another Dinner Club birthday!
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Thursday, May 06, 2010

First CSA Delivery of the Season! - May 6, 2010

Beautiful Veggies!

Today is the day, Dinner Clubbers. It is the day marked on my calendar with a big red circle and exclamation points. The day I have been waiting for like a kid waits for Christmas morning. Do you blame me? Look at this beautiful green bunch of goodness.

Do you know what I'm super excited about? The ramps. I was worried with our warm spring that we may have missed the ramp window. I took a gamble yesterday at the co-op and left ramps sitting on the shelf (they were $2.79 per ramp!) in the hopes we would get some in our box today. Hurray! Two big beautiful bunches showed up so my decision paid off. Big.

Almost equally exciting is the asparagus. I've held off on purchasing any yet this spring because none that I've seen has been local. Exercising restraint with food is not my strong suit, so I'm pretty proud of myself for this one. This asparagus is going to taste all the better for it, I'm sure.

Other notables include sorrel, a super yummy, bright, lemony green, excellent added to salads; red Russian kale (front and center with the little yellow flowers) which is supposed to be good with fish; two giant stalks of rhubarb, which I've recently seen starring in some delicious looking crumbles here, here, and here; my favorite sunchokes; darling French breakfast radishes...oh who am I kidding, the whole box is notable.

Thank you so much to the whole crew over at Harmony Valley Farm! I'm so excited to have you back for the season.
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Tostadas de Gambas - 5 de Mayo, 2010

Chipotle Shrimp Tostadas

To celebrate Cinco de Mayo, we made this recipe, from Food & Wine. It was really, really good. I only changed a couple of things, including substituting fresh chives (from our yard) for the scallions, and plain yogurt for the sour cream in the slaw. We specifically used a beauty heart radish (aka 'watermelon radish') for the radishes called for in the recipe because we have a bunch and they're so pretty.

This was a bright and colorful dish, perfect for a Cinco de Mayo celebration. The shrimp have a little heat from the chipotle powder which is tempered nicely by the cool crispness of the slaw and the creamy avocado. The tostada provides a nice crunch for a bit of texture throughout the dish.

We omitted margaritas because we are currently out of tequila, but horchata and a Summer Shandy with lime were excellent replacements.
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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Morel Sformato - May 4, 2010

Lovely Morels

I snagged a precious few morels at the co-op on Monday. They were foraged from somewhere in Oregon. Not super close to home, but a state that calls one Dinner Clubber and (soon-to-be) two of my sisters it's own. I don't think one can claim local by association, but when it comes to morels, I'm not actually too picky. Plus, the Wisconsin grown wild watercress and spinach in the salad can redeem the locality of the meal a bit.

Morel 'Sformato' with Wild Watercress and Spinach Salad

After a quick search on Food & Wine, I found this recipe that I thought sounded tasty and morel-worthy. And, it was something completely new for me, which is always exciting. It ended up being a flop, but only literally, as it was very delicious, but no where near set at the end of the allotted cooking time (plus an extra 5 min). The flavor was super creamy which went nicely with the spicy watercress. So in the end, my sformato, which is supposed to be a molded custard, turned out to be a really rich morel gravy, which certainly isn't a bad thing.
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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Re-fried Bean Burritos - May 4, 2010

Re-fried Bean, Chihuahua Cheese and Fresh Oregano Burritos with Salsa Lisa

Last night we had a favorite meal of mine. I cooked up some pinto beans over the weekend and added some Salsa Lisa to the skillet while re-frying them last night. I also made the tortillas, and slightly different than usual I might add. Rick Bayless says to use lard if possible, instead of vegetable shortening, and so I did. It turns out one can buy lard at Target (and probably lots of other grocery stores too...I've just never thought to look). It might be labeled as 'manteca' (which Nick, who took Russian in high school, informed me, who took five years of Spanish, means 'lard' en Espanol). I honestly didn't notice any significant differences with the lard vs. with shortening. We added the melt-y Chihuahua cheese and some fresh oregano to complete the meal.

*This is probably not the last Mexican influenced meal this week as tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo. Methinks we are going to have to pull out the margaritas and do it up right.
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