Thursday, July 28, 2011

Grilled Cheese with Gruyere, Radicchio, Roasted Garlic, and Dijon on Sourdough

We were out of town a lot last week, so it's taking us a little longer to get through all this produce. A couple of our best friends got married and Joe and I were so honored that we were both asked to be in their wedding. It was such a fun weekend!

Getting back to the food, we got some radicchio in the box this week, and it was different than the small, tight spheres I am used to seeing. This kind had larger leaves and was more open, like a head of Romaine lettuce, which made me think of using it in a sandwich. I decided to make a simple but fancy sounding grilled cheese. Mark Bittman has a ton of sandwich combination ideas in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian so I modeled my sandwich off of those. Since I had to roast garlic in the oven for the sandwich anyway, I added the summer squash we got in the box to the baking sheet as well, to go on the side.

CSA Week 8:

In the box: 1 Radicchio, 1/2 pound spinach, 1 sweet onion, 1 pound tomatoes, 1 pound summer squash, 3 pounds French fingerling potatoes, 1 basket raspberries, 1 basket cherries.

Before we left town, we made a delicious pasta dish from the Wednesday Chef - Pamela Sherrid's Summer Pasta, which used all the tomatoes. Part of the recipe has you slice garlic and let it sit in a bowl of olive oil on the counter all day, which will make your whole house smell absolutely wonderful when you get home (seriously, try it!). We boiled the spinach to have on the side, since we already had water boiling for the pasta, and just drizzled it with some olive oil for flavor.

The raspberries and cherries made a perfect snack in the car on the drive up to Portland.

Now...what to do with three pounds of potatoes?!  Two pounds of them were sliced into wedges and roasted in the oven to go with burgers, which were topped with grilled sweet onion. The other pound of potatoes is still in the fridge waiting to be used.

Grilled cheese with Gruyere, radicchio, Dijon, and roasted garlic on Sourdough 
adapted from Mark Bittman - How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

Garlic cloves, unpeeled (we used about 6 cloves for two sandwiches)
1 head radicchio
Sliced sourdough bread
Sliced Gruyere
Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Put the garlic cloves on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. Bake, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes. They are done when you can poke them with a fork and they seem mushy inside. Remove to a plate.

While the cloves are cooling, slice the radicchio. You could slice it into big hunks or thin slivers, however you want. (Personally, I think next time I will do slivers so that the whole piece of lettuce doesn't slice out of the sandwich in a single bite). Lay them on the same baking sheet you used for the garlic and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Broil until the leaves are wilted and starting to crisp on the edges. Remove from oven, set aside.

Once the garlic cloves are cool enough to handle, slice them open and squeeze out the delicious roasted garlic. Set aside.

Toast the slices of sourdough. Melt some gruyere onto one slice using the broiler. To the other slice, spread some Dijon and some of the roasted garlic. Top with a few slices of radicchio. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

French Breakfast Radishes and Anchovy Butter on Sliced Baguette

I think I can officially get on board with radishes. Why? Because I recently learned that it is perfectly acceptable to eat sandwiches that are composed entirely of butter and thinly sliced radishes.  It's a very French thing to do, in fact. The French are awesome.

What's more awesome than butter? Anchovy butter. Yes, you read that right. Mince up a few anchovy fillets, especially the kind packaged in oil, and stir them into a stick of softened butter. Add some minced chives, a little salt and pepper, and you have just made the best.thing.ever!

We literally could not stop eating this - the creamy, salty flavor is deliciously addicting. Definitely not the best thing to pair with a heavy steak dinner, but it can be balanced perfectly with a light soup or salad (and a good sweaty calorie-blasting cardio workout earlier in the day wouldn't hurt either!).

French Breakfast radishes are milder than regular radishes, but regular radishes would work here as well. I accidentally bought a 3-seed baguette at the store, but the seeds were fennel, sesame, and poppy, which actually were a nice compliment to the other flavors, so it turned out great in the end.

CSA Week 7:

In the box: 1 head lettuce, 1 bunch French Breakfast radishes, 1 cucumber, 1 pint Sungold Cherry tomatoes, 1 pound vine ripe tomatoes, 2 pounds Honeypod fava beans, 1 pound Romano beans, 1 pint strawberries, 1/2 pint red raspberries

We ate all the radishes with the anchovy butter.

We made Ellie Krieger's Garlic Basil Shrimp with the cherry tomatoes. We made a few changes, such as adding fava beans and serving alongside roasted potatoes instead of the orzo because I had potatoes leftover from last week and didn't have time to go to the store for the pasta.

A highlight of the week was Mahi Mahi with coconut rice and steamed Romano beans. I based this off of a blog post over at Liv Life and the original recipe from Sunset magazine. I used wild rice instead of white rice, which I think was an excellent choice because it has a nuttier flavor that compliments that chopped almonds that go into it. I did the same thing as Liv Life though - she mentioned in her blog post that she totally forgot to add the coconut flakes to the rice, and I spaced it too! What is up with that? Too funny!  I steamed our whole pile of Romano beans, plus a couple handfuls of snow peas from our garden. I placed the veggies on a sheet of foil, drizzled with water and a splash of white wine, then folded it up into a packet and placed it on the cooler side of the grill while the fish cooked. They came out perfectly tender.

The vine tomatoes, most of the cucumber, and the lettuce became salads for lunch/dinner throughout the week.

We ate the fruit as we usually do. We got an email from the farm to say that they had an overabundance of raspberries that week so they were offering a deal - a flat of berries for only $18. Score! We froze all of them right away. They were in little baskets inside the cardboard flat, and we just placed the whole flat in our chest freezer overnight just like that (ok, honestly, it was two days before I got around it them). Then I took each basket and shook the berries out into quart-sized ziplock freezer bags. Each berry still froze individually! I can't wait to start baking with them.

French Breakfast Radishes with Anchovy Butter on Sliced Baguette
adapted from Bon Appetit
Makes about 16

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2-3 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, plus more for garnish
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
16 1/2-inch thick diagonal slices baguette
1 bunch French Breakfast Radishes (or regular radishes), trimmed and thinly sliced on the diagonal

Mix the butter, two of the minced anchovy fillets, and two tablespoons of the chives in a small bowl. Add the third minced anchovy fillet to taste, if desired. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread the anchovy butter over one side of each slice of baguette. Top with sliced radishes, overlapping slightly, garnish with additional chopped chives, and serve.

The anchovy butter will keep in the fridge for several days, if for some reason you don't finish it all right away.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thai Beef Salad with Coconut Rice

For the 4th of July we grilled a huge London broil (I know that's a method of cooking and not a cut of meat, but that's how the package was labeled so I can't be sure what it was). With the leftover cooked and sliced beef, we made this Thai beef salad. We marinated it as the directed, but instead of broiling or grilling it we just stir-fried it in a skillet until it was warmed though. The marinade/dressing was excellent. Such a flavorful combination of ingredients - fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, chili paste, brown sugar and cilantro...mmm!

CSA Week 6:

In the box: 1 head lettuce, 1 bunch radishes, 1 bunch salad turnips, 1 head garlic, 1 cucumber, 1 red onion, 2 pounds German butterball potatoes, sweet girl tomatoes, 3/4 pound zucchini, 1 basket strawberries, 1 basket gold raspberries

Last week is fading fast, so I'll try my best to remember how we used everything.

The fruit was just eaten for snacks and dessert with yogurt and granola - the usual.

The tomatoes, some of the cucumber (and some from last week too), and most of the red onion were used for the Thai beef salad.

I made a salad for lunch with the lettuce and tried adding a little sliced raw turnip - but I didn't really like it. So I roasted the rest of the turnips, along with the radishes, just cut in quarters and tossed with oil, salt and pepper. I kept all the radish and turnip greens and chopped and roasted them on the same pan. We ate all the roasted veggies with store-bought gnocchi and quick homemade tomato sauce.

We sliced and sauteed the zucchini and put it in an omelette with some herbs and cheese.

I made a gratin with the potatoes (all but two of them), and Gruyere. It was delicious, as most things made with milk and cheese are. To go with that I made this cantaloupe and cucumber salad to use up the cucumber in an interesting way (I omitted the celery). It was pretty tasty but would have been better if the cantaloupe we purchased had been more ripe.

The garlic just got added to our stash of garlic for general use.

When preparing vegetarian meals, sometimes I feel like I'm just serving a series of side dishes, though each one might be very flavorful and well thought out. Does anyone else feel that way when cooking vegetarian meals? I'm not saying that it's a bad thing, it's just a different feel than the more typical meal involving a piece of meat at the center. I always try to make sure I include a mixture of protein, carbohydrates, and produce. But sometimes, as in the meal with the gratin, the protein was just the cheese sprinkled over the potatoes and the chopped almonds on the fruit salad.

Thai Beef Salad with Coconut Rice
adapted from The Best of Cooking Light - Simple Summer Suppers
Serves 6

1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 4 limes)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
2 tablespoons chili paste with garlic
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (1 1/2 pound) flank steak, trimmed
Cooking spray or olive oil
1 1/2 cups vertically sliced red onion
4 plum tomatoes, cut into 6 wedges (or an equivalent amount of a different variety)
1 1/4 cups thinly sliced cucumber (preferably English cucumber, because it's seedless, but regular is fine)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
6 cups torn romaine lettuce

Preheat the broiler.

Combine the lime juice, cilantro, brown sugar, fish sauce, chili paste, and garlic, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Reserve half of this mixture for dressing the salad later. Put the meat into a large ziplock bag and add the rest of the lime mixture. Marinate in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes, turning once (honestly, I let it sit on the counter while it marinated).

Grill or broil the steak however you like it. If you broil it, about 6 minutes on each side is probably about right. Let stand for about 5 minutes, then thinly slice diagonally across the grain.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat with cooking spray or add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Add onion, saute 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, saute another 2 minutes. Put the contents of this skillet, plus the cucumber, mint, and lettuce into a large bowl and toss gently to combine. Divide the salad among your plates. Top with slices of steak. Drizzle with the reserved lime juice mixture.

To make the coconut rice: bring 1/2 cup water, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and one 15-ounce can of light coconut milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Add one cup jasmine rice, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, let stand 5 minutes and fluff with a fork.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Salad with Fresh Raspberries and Sweet Spiced Almonds

This salad is just the thing for a warm summer evening. Definitely worth making if not for the sweet spiced almonds alone. In fact, even if you have other dinner plans, make the almonds just because. I think this recipe is meant to be a side salad, but since this was going to be our main dinner, we added a lot more of the almonds and raspberries to our plates. I normally wouldn't put that much effort into a side salad anyway, especially for just the two of us.

CSA Week 5 recap:

In our box this week: 1 head red lettuce, 1 bunch celery, 1 pint grape tomatoes, 2 cucumbers, 1 pound zucchini, 3/4 pound Romano green beans, 1 pint cherries, 1/2 pint raspberries

I was delighted with all the fruit in the box this week! We used the raspberries (and lettuce) right away in that fabulous salad pictured above. We didn't do anything special with the cherries, just ate them up, plain. We had more lettuce leftover for salads for lunches as well.

The cherry tomatoes were used in a lazy weeknight dinner. I tossed together some penne, feta, pesto, and sauteed cherry tomatoes and garlic tops (we just had to buy them one more time before they were gone for the season). That might sound like the opposite of lazy, but I should mention that the pesto was the last of my stash that had been frozen from last summer, and the penne was actually frozen as well; I had cooked way too much pasta a few weeks ago and it had been a few days and we hadn't eaten it yet, so I threw it in the freezer to give us more time, since I loathe wasting food. Turns out, you can do that to pasta.

We ate one of the cucumbers with some homemade wanna-be Tzatziki that was just ok. I didn't really use a recipe, I just threw some stuff together. It served it's purpose as a vehicle for eating cucumber. I just checked the fridge and we still have one more cucumber hanging out in there for next week.

Most of the celery was used to make a huge batch of beef stock. We used beef soup bones, celery (stalks and leaves), carrots, onion, dried mushrooms, parsley, whole cloves and black peppercorns, and made a delicious stock that we froze in small batches.

The remaining couple stalks of celery were minced and added to a yogurt-based tuna salad. We toasted a couple of English muffins, added a scoop of tuna salad, and topped with a little cheddar cheese. Then we broiled them for a few minutes. It made a great lunch!

I was not familiar with Romano beans at first, but apparently they can be cooked just like green beans, and the taste is very similar. I trimmed the ends, and cut them into 2 inch pieces. Then I roasted them in the oven along with some potatoes (we had a couple fingerling potatoes leftover from last week). It went great with Salisbury steak.

Joe claimed the zucchini right away and later on in the week made some delicious zucchini bread. I had it for dessert most nights with a few melted chocolate chips on top.

Whenever I eat zucchini bread, I'm reminded of the first time I was introduced to it - at an old woman's house near Salem, OR. I was very little, and my mom drove my sister and I down there to visit her. I'm not sure how my mom knew her, but she lived alone and liked to have visitors. She made us dinner and served zucchini bread as an appetizer. I remember how it was warm and smothered with melted butter. I don't think I even knew that zucchini was a vegetable yet but I remember asking for seconds and thirds. Also, I remember that we visited the state capital building while we were down there and I bought a miniature deck of playing cards at the gift shop.

Why can I remember random stuff like that but have trouble remembering what I did last weekend?

Salad with Fresh Raspberries and Sweet Spiced Almonds
adapted from Cooking Light - May 2008
makes enough for two dinner salads (with some extra dressing) or four side salads

The actual salad calls for chopped chives, not as part of the dressing, but tossed with the greens and berries. I didn't have any, but I did have a shallot, so I minced it and included it in the dressing. I'm sure it's not the same flavor but it worked for us.

5 cups salad greens (whatever you have, or whatever you like)
6 ounces fresh raspberries
1 small shallot, minced
3 tablespoons champagne or white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon canola or grapeseed oil
1 recipe Sweet Spiced Almonds, below

Put the salad greens in a large bowl (large enough to toss the salad). Set aside. Wash the berries, gently pat dry with paper towels, set aside.

Combine the shallot, vinegar, honey, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Add the oil while stirring with a whisk to emulsify it.

When ready to serve, drizzle the dressing over the salad greens, tossing gently to combine, then pile the greens onto plates. Top with the berries and almonds.

Sweet Spiced Almonds
adapted from Cooking Light - May 2008
makes about 2 cups

1 cup dry roasted unsalted almonds, chopped
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
Cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

In a medium bowl, combine the almonds, sugar, and spices. Add the egg white and stir to combine. Spread the mixture in an even layer on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray.

Bake for about 10 minutes, stir, then bake another 15 minutes or so, until the mixture is crisp. Transfer foil to a wire rack to cool.

Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to a week (but they're so good you'll eat them up long before then).
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