Monday, October 31, 2011

Winter Squash Stuffed with Wild Rice, Kale, and Yumm! Sauce

This week's meal uses the Sunshine squash from last week's CSA. I thought it would be fun to experiment and see how Yumm! Sauce and winter squash would go together. As I expected, they go together quite nicely. If you've been reading this blog for awhile you know this girl likes her Yumm! (See examples of my obsession here, here, and here).

For this recipe, I baked the squash until tender, then scooped out the flesh and tossed it together with a mixture of cooked wild rice and sauteed veggies (kale, red bell pepper, shallot). I mixed in a generous portion of Yumm! Sauce, then stuffed this mixture back into the shell of the squash and baked it a little longer. Before serving I drizzled on a bit more sauce. Filling and delicious!

CSA Week 22:

In the box: 1 lettuce, 1.5 pounds Sweet Girl tomatoes, 1 head cauliflower, 1 1/4 pounds broccoli, 1 Delicata squash, 1 bunch kale, 1 bunch fresh ginger, 1 pound grapes.

It's great having friends who hunt and are generous enough to share a small piece of their bounty with us. A friend from work gave us a couple packages of elk and venison steaks, and another friend brought over some venison from recent hunting trip and together we made Jacques Pepin's recipe for venison steaks in sweet-sour sauce. The sauce went perfectly with the steak. The recipe called for current or raspberry jam, but we substituted apricot because that's what we had. To go with, I roasted some miscellaneous veggies (one potato from a previous week's CSA, a couple remaining carrots from last week, and the broccoli from this week).

Tomatoes: we wanted to make that tart again, but they were starting to get pretty ripe and it didn't look like I would have time to fit it in, so I roasted and froze them for later. Looking forward to lots of pasta topped with chunky tomato sauce for dinner this winter.

The lettuce was used for side salads for lunch and dinner. Grapes for snacks.

We used up a whole mess of CSA veggies in one night with these two delicious dishes: Red Lentils and Kale with Coconut, Ginger, and Crispy shallots and Curried Skillet Cauliflower with Cilantro. I love recipes where I can just tick off the ingredients I want to use up right in the title. Both of these dishes were really good, you should check them out. I'm a little picky when it comes to cauliflower, so it's a good sign when I recommend a recipe that uses it.

Winter Squash Stuffed with Wild Rice, Kale, and Yumm! Sauce
serves 2-4

Note: I chose a squash that looked like a small pumpkin so I only sliced off the very top to make a deep bowl and stuffed the squash that way. But if you have other shapes of squash it would work just as well to slice them in half lengthwise and fill them - it will be more open but just as delicious.

1 large (or a few small) winter squash (such as Sunshine, Delicata, Acorn, Butternut, etc.)
1 cup uncooked wild rice (or brown or white or whatever you have)
2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch kale, chopped
1/2 cup Cafe Yumm! Sauce, more or less to taste, plus more for drizzling.

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Depending on you and your squash, you can either slice the top off and scoop out the seeds and stringy flesh before baking, or bake it whole and do that step after it's tender. The first way is a little more difficult since you are trying to cut something that is very hard, but the second way involves working with a hot squash. Either way, place it in a baking dish and bake until tender and a fork pierces the skin easily, which could be 30 minutes, or it could be an hour, depending on the size of your squash.

Meanwhile, cook the rice according to package directions, which is probably something like 2 1/2 cups water or broth, plus 1 tablespoon oil or butter (optional), brought to a boil and then simmered, covered, for about 30 minutes.

In a large nonstick skillet, saute the shallot in the oil for a minute or so, then add the bell pepper and garlic. After about 5 minutes, add the kale, and cook until wilted. Add to the pot with the rice. Don't bother mixing it together, you are just moving it for now so you can use the skillet in the next step.

When the squash is tender, remove from the oven and let sit until cool enough to handle. If you haven't already, slice off the top of the squash (or slice in half lengthwise if using an oval-shaped squash), and scoop out the seeds and stringy flesh. Once you've done that, scoop out most of the remaining flesh, without compromising the stability of the shell, and place it in the skillet. Add a bit of oil and saute for a few minutes, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Add the rest of the veggies and rice to the skillet and toss to combine. Add a heaping portion of Yumm! Sauce (I did about 1/2 cup). Season with salt and pepper.

Scoop the rice mixture into the squash shell(s), packing it down and overflowing over the top a bit. Bake for about 20 more minutes.

Just before serving, drizzle with more Yumm! Sauce.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tomato and Tapenade Tarts

These were fun little tarts to make with the late-season tomatoes we've been getting in our CSA. The ones in the box this week were so tiny and cute I thought they would be perfect for this.

Just cut puff pastry dough into rounds, spread on a thin layer of olive tapenade, and place a pile of tomatoes on top (cherries or small regular). As you do all this you leave a border around the edge, which puffs up when you bake it to create a rim around the tomatoes. Then you dot it with a little more tapenade and a dollop of marscapone cheese and bake it for a little longer, until the creamy cheese has melted into a delicious sauce spreading out over the tart. Yum!

Joe said he would have liked it with or without the cheese, and the more tapenade for him, the better. I personally liked how the creamy flavor of the cheese complimented the salty olive tapenade.

These can be made into small or large tarts. Ours were pretty good sized, kind of like a personal pan pizza. We also made roasted delicata squash in the shell, topped with butter and brown sugar. I ended up eating only half of my tart, and the other half reheated very well and made a great lunch the next day.

CSA Week 21:

In the box: 1 lettuce, 2 pounds Sweet Girl tomatoes, 1 bunch French Breakfast Radishes, 2 pounds carrots, 1 leek, 1 1/4 pounds broccoli, 2 pounds red potatoes, 1 Sunshine squash, 4 Sweet Italian peppers, 2 pounds Liberty apples

The lettuce made great salads all week to go with dinner or lunches. Some of the tomatoes and carrots were used as toppings. We haven't had salad greens for a few weeks so it was a nice change of pace.

We ate the radishes with hummus (found some great single serving packages at Costco - very handy to take to work AND the hummus is actually quite tasty).

I stir-fried the red peppers, broccoli, and some of the carrots to go with potstickers (another great Costco buy). Super easy meal. 

Joe saw the leek in the box and immediately claimed it to make one of our favorite fall/winter meals: baked sweet potatoes with leeks and Gorgonzola (actually, the cheese I bought this time was a local one called "Oregonzola", haha).

I used the Liberty apples to finally make a batch of apple butter this year. I had been trying to make time to do it for weeks. I used the recipe from Canning for a New Generation. I love the flavor and texture of this batch compared to the one I made last year. The only disappointing thing is that even though I doubled the recipe (and thus making an already time consuming task even more so) for some reason I was only able to fill six half pint jars instead of twelve like I was expecting. I must have let it cook for too long at some point in the process so it reduced way too much. The directions in general were a little vague for me, a person who gets so freaking paranoid when it comes to preserving food that half the time I just scare myself out of doing it altogether. It sucks because I was hoping to have enough to give it to friends and family for the holidays. I don't know if I will have time to make another batch. Pity party for me. :-(

We didn't get to the Sunshine squash yet. They last a long time so I wanted to focus on using up the produce that would spoil sooner.

Tomato and Tapenade Tarts
adapted from Best Ever Three and Four Ingredient Meals
serves 2-4

Notes: I bet this would also be good with basil pesto in place of the tapenade. Feta instead of marscapone would be good too, though it wouldn't be as creamy when it melts.

1 package puff pastry, thawed if frozen (I used Pepperidge Farm brand, one package was 1.1 pounds)
1/4 cup black or green olive tapenade
1 1/4 pound small or cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Light oil a large baking sheet and sprinkle it with water.

Lightly flour a clean counter top and roll out the puff pastry. Cut out rounds of dough, using a bowl or plate as a guide. I found it was easiest to make two tarts using an 8-inch plate as my guide. The original recipe suggests making four 6 1/2 inch rounds, but their package of puff pastry was larger than mine (1 1/4 pounds, or 500 grams). I am not experienced enough with puff pastry to know if it would work to take the extra scraps and just form them into another tart.

Transfer the pastry rounds to the prepared baking sheet. Using the tip of a knife, mark a shallow cut 1/2 an inch in from the edge of each pastry round to form a rim (Basically you are drawing a smaller circle inside the round that will mark the area you will place the filling. The border will puff up as the tart bakes).

Reserve half of the tapenade for a later step. Divide the rest evenly among your tarts and spread it out into a thin layer, staying inside the marked rim.

Slice about half of the tomatoes in half or quarters, depending on how large they are. Cherry tomatoes just need to be sliced in half. Pile all the tomatoes, whole and halved, on the pastry, again keeping them inside the marked border. Season with salt.

Bake for about 20 minutes. The pastry should be well risen and golden. Divide the remaining tapenade among the tarts, doting it randomly over the tomatoes, Spoon a dollop of mascarpone onto the center. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Bake for another 10 minutes, until the mascarpone has melted into a sauce.

Serve warm. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Gorgonzola Ravioli with Hazelnut Cream Sauce and Radicchio

I had a coupon for this good brand of ravioli so I picked up a package to try. While I've made my own ravioli before, convenience foods are nice sometimes too. I wanted to make some sort of sauce to go with it. After floating the idea of a Gorgonzola cream sauce, I realized that might be too much cheese. I decided liked the idea of a hazelnut cream sauce, so I went with that. The bitter radicchio and the creamy pasta and sauce make a great combination.

This was very quick to make and we loved it! I was meeting a friend for Zumba later that evening and I was able to cook, photograph, and eat with time to spare before I had to leave.

CSA Week 20:

In the box: 1 radicchio, 2 pounds Sweet Girl tomatoes, 2 pounds carrots, 1 bunch beets, 1 pound yellow onions, 2 pounds Sierra Rose potatoes, 1 Delicata squash, 2 Sweet Italian peppers, 1 pound Canadice grapes, 2 pounds Winter Banana apples

One night we made a simple pasta dish - a recipe that Joe found somewhere on the web years ago. We make it quite a bit, just going from memory now, and varying it based on what we have around. It's basically sauteed onions, garlic, capers, yellow or red bell peppers, and kalamata olives, tossed with cooked farfalle and topped with Parmesan. We used the sweet peppers in place of the bell peppers, and added beet greens. I forgot that even the beet greens turn everything pink, but it still tasted great. I roasted some of the tomatoes to go on the side.

The rest of the tomatoes and onions were used to make delicious poached mahi mahi in ravigote sauce, recipe by Jacques Pepin. His recipe calls for salmon, which would have been wonderful, but I had some mahi mahi in the freezer that I decided to use instead.The sauce is so easy. You just chop and add everything to a bowl, stir it together, and that's it, no cooking required. Since poached fish is pretty plain, you definitely want a topping with a lot of punch like this to give it flavor.

Next, we made a recipe I saw over on Chef Dennis' blog: Apple Beet Compote with Fennel and Candied Walnuts. This recipe materialized when he was trying to use what he had on hand one night. I had apples (the Rome apples from last week) and beets from this week, so I decided to make it too. I didn't have fennel, but that was ok. I followed his directions exactly. I served my compote over bulgur wheat. He suggested adding crumbled gorgonzola, and I loved that idea so I bought some...but then I totally forgot to use it! Arg! Oh well, it was still delicious, and after dinner we quickly found ourselves back in the kitchen, running our fingers around the skillet to soak up the sugary-butter mixture from the candied walnuts. Mmmmm. Yep, we have no self-control when it comes to butter.

I made a potato soup in the slow cooker using some of the carrots, some potatoes from last week and most of the ones from this week. I used this recipe. It is a very filling and satisfying soup, especially because I used regular instead of fat-free half-n-half.

We haven't eaten the Delicata squash just yet.

I was a little nervous about eating an apple with the word 'banana' in the name, but I assure you, they don't taste like bananas. It must refer to the color. They are nice and sweet. The grapes were petite but  had a nice tartness to them. I have been eating the rest of the carrots with hummus for snacks.

Gorgonzola Ravioli with Hazelnut Cream Sauce and Radicchio
Inspiration for the hazelnut cream sauce was found here
serves 2

Notes: We used Rising Moon Organics Garlic Gorgonzola Ravioli made with Spinach Pasta, but there are a number of different flavors of ravioli that would complement a hazelnut cream sauce. I think butternut squash or pumpkin would be awesome.

1 (8 ounce) package ravioli (such as gorgonzola, pumpkin, butternut squash, etc)
1 head Radicchio
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the cream sauce:
1/3 cup dry roasted hazelnuts
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt to taste

Garnish with: 
Crumbled Gorgonzola
Chopped hazelnuts
Chopped fresh herbs such as sage, basil, or parsley

Preheat the broiler.

Slice the radicchio in quarters lengthwise and place cut side up on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Cook the ravioli according to package directions.

Meanwhile, start the cream sauce. It will make a prettier sauce if you can remove the papery skins from the hazelnuts. I used this tool which worked really well, but it would probably also work to wrap them up in a kitchen towel and roll them along the counter.

Process nuts in a food processor until they become pretty fine crumbs. Toast in a small saucepan over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly. Lower heat, then add the butter, stir until melted, then add the cream. Stir to combine, and cook until thickened, 5-10 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Set aside.

Broil the radicchio until the edges of the leaves look a bit charred. Remove from oven, when cool enough to handle, thinly slice crosswise.

To serve, pile some radicchio into the bottom of a rimmed soup bowl, then top with ravioli. Drizzle the cream sauce over the top. Garnish with crumbled Gorgonzola, chopped hazelnuts, and fresh herbs. Serve immediately. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Julia Child's Provencal Tomato Quiche

This is a different sort of quiche than I've made before. It doesn't use any milk or cream, and there aren't even very many eggs in it. The surprising ingredient is anchovy fillets. I still had some left in the jar from when I made the amazing anchovy butter so it was a good excuse to use them up. If you are hesitant about the anchovies, don't be. They just add a really nice salty flavor - not fishy at all.

You start with a pre-baked pie shell (I used a whole wheat store-bought one to keep things simple), then you layer it with mashed anchovies, a filling of sauteed onions and tomatoes mixed with egg, a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, then finally, sliced tomatoes. I thought the colorful heirloom tomatoes from our CSA would be great for this. This quiche was delicious - I wanted to devour the whole thing myself, and probably would have, if no one was looking.

CSA Week 19:

In the box: 1/2 pound spinach, 1.5 pounds heirloom tomatoes, 1 1/4 pounds broccoli, 2 pounds White Rose potatoes, 1 Acorn squash, 3 red bell peppers, 1 head garlic, 1 watermelon, 1 basket French Petite plums, 2 pounds Rome apples

Winter squash are here! We are so excited. Besides sweet potatoes, squash are one of our favorite winter vegetables. I'm sure there will be many times this winter where we will simply roast the squash and top it with nothing but butter and maybe a little brown sugar, but for our very first squash of the season I chose to make a soup. I used a recipe from one of my many Mark Bittman cookbooks: The Best Recipes in the World. It's a Laotian-style squash soup made with squash, onion, tomato, chickpeas, stock, coconut milk, and fish sauce. Pureed and topped with cilantro (and scallions if I had had any).

Whenever I see broccoli and potatoes together I immediately want to make one of my favorite meals: oven-roasted potatoes and broccoli topped with homemade mornay sauce. That's cheese sauce, people. I've blogged about it before. This time I used 2% milk and sharp cheddar. I roasted the potato wedges first, then when they were close to being done, I added chopped broccoli (florets and stems - peel stems first), since they don't take quite as much time as potatoes. Roasted broccoli is just amazing, right? It's got such a different flavor than when it's stir-fried or steamed. Amazing. Joe also bought some sweet Italian sausage links to add to the meal, so we cooked those first, in a skillet, then sliced and tossed with the roasted veggies. We didn't cook all the potatoes, so there are still a couple in the fridge for another time.

We made fajitas using the red bell peppers, along with a couple other colors of peppers and onions that we bought. They went into the grill basket in big pieces and then we thinly sliced them once they were done. We also grilled a huge piece of skirt steak that we marinated first in a mixture of garlic, Serrano chilis, oil, salt, and lots of lime juice.

We ate the watermelon and the plums for snacks. Garlic went into the stash.

For breakfast one morning, we had fried eggs over a mound of steamed spinach. It was healthy, but next time I think I would saute the spinach in a little oil or butter to add more flavor.

We still have a couple of potatoes, and we haven't done anything with the apples yet. Rome apples are good cooking apples.

Provencal Tomato Quiche
adapted from Julia Child - The Way to Cook
makes one 9-inch pie, serves 4-6

Note: Use fresh, in season tomatoes for this dish. Julia would have you peel the tomatoes, but I didn't bother and it was fine with us. For the seasonings, she doesn't give amounts, and I didn't measure, but I gave my best guess as to what I used, so at least it's a starting point. If you absolutely don't think you can stomach the anchovies, I think a good substitute would be kalamata olives, because they would provide a similar salty flavor.

2 cups sliced onions
about 1/4 cup olive oil
1 large clove garlic, pureed
5 medium fresh ripe tomatoes, peeled if you want, seeded, extra juice squeezed out, and chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional)
1 egg plus 3 yolks, lightly beaten
8 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained and then mashed with 1 tablespoon olive oil
One 9-inch frozen pie shell
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or other hard cheese
1 or 2 large tomatoes, sliced, for topping the quiche

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Unwrap frozen pie shell. Prick all over with a fork. Lay a piece of foil gently over the top, and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, add 2 tablespoons of the oil and heat medium. When hot, add the onions and saute for 8-10 minutes, until tender but not browned. Add the garlic, the chopped tomatoes, and bring to a simmer. Cook like that for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Mash the tomatoes with the back of the spoon a little bit if needed; the mixture should start to form a thick puree. Add the salt, pepper, oregano, cayenne, and tomato paste if needed, and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into a large glass bowl and let cool to tepid.

Once the mixture has cooled, stir in the eggs and parsley.

To assemble the quiche, start by spreading the mashed anchovies across the bottom of the pie shell. Next, pour the tomato/egg mixture into the shell, smoothing with a spatula. Sprinkle the cheese evenly across the surface, and then arrange the tomato slices on top. Salt lightly, and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.

Bake for 30-35 minutes. When it's done, it will be lightly puffed, and the crust will be nice and brown. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tillamook Cheddar Apple Pie

Somehow I got it into my head that I really wanted to make a cheddar-apple pie. Once that thought appeared, there was no ignoring it. I chose this recipe because it looked easy, and since I don't like to bake, easy sounded pretty good.

A slice of this pie, warmed up, with a sprinkle of melted cheese on top, is divine.

I don't think that this is the best recipe out there, but the end result made me happy. I think there could be some improvements though. For one thing, because you don't cook the apples beforehand, the filling cooks down, leaving a gap between the apples and the top of the crust. Not really a problem tastewise, but not as pretty to look at. I thought the dough was kind of hard to work with, but then again I'm not much of a baker so that might have had something to do with it. Joe had to come help me part-way through.

**Late night edit** I've just added a new "Recipes" tab at the top of the page: it takes you to a complete listing of all the recipes, categorized by type, with a link to each one. This took me FOREVER to put together, but it was really fun to go back through all the older recipes I have posted over the past couple of years. So please, go check it out!

Tillamook Cheddar Apple Pie
adapted from The Tillamook Cheese Cookbook
serves 4-6

Note: If you don't live in a place that sells Tillamook cheese, just buy the sharpest cheddar you can find.

For the crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup grated Tillamook Special Reserve Extra Sharp Cheddar cheese
5-6 tablespoons ice water

For the filling:
5-6 firm, tart apples (I used Granny Smith)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup grated Tillamook Special Reserve Extra Sharp Cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Cut the shortening into 1/2-inch cubes and place in the freezer.

Peel, core, and thinly slice the apples. Place in a large nonreactive bowl and toss with the lemon juice. In a separate bowl, add the rest of the filling ingredients and set aside. Now the filling is ready to be combined once you have made the dough.

Place the flour and salt into a large bowl. Remove the chilled shortening from the freezer and scatter over the top of the bowl. Scatter the 1/2 cup cheese over the top as well. Cut in the shortening and the cheese until the mixture becomes crumbly, like coarse meal. Add the water slowly, while folding with a spatula, until the crumbled mixture holds together  and just starts to form a ball. Don't overwork the dough. Divide the dough in half and flour a clean board or counter top. Roll out half of the dough onto a the floured surface. Carefully place in a 9-inch pie pan. Roll out the remaining dough.

Mix all the filling ingredients together, and pile into the pie pan, mounding it up in the middle. Place the second crust on top. Prick a few holes in the top with the tines of a fork and seal the edges.

Place the pie on a baking sheet to catch any drips. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 F and continue baking for another 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.

I think this is best served warm with a little melted cheese over the top. But you can also serve cold or room temperature without the extra cheese if you'd rather. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Southwestern Chili-Mac Salad

This was printed up in a Rachael Ray magazine as a "make-over" recipe for traditional chili-mac. Not that there is anything wrong with chili mac; I am a huge fan of it myself. But it's fun to change things up every once in awhile, and in the summer, or in this case early fall, the produce stands are stuffed to the rafters with fresh veggies, so rather than having a side salad next to your bowl of standard chili mac, why not put your salad IN the chili mac? This dish makes use of fresh seasonal veggies like tomatoes, corn, spinach (my addition), and red onion. The chili-spiced meat and beans are mixed in with the veggies and the whole thing is tossed with a zesty vinaigrette and topped with sharp cheddar.

CSA Week 18:

In the box: 1/2 pound spinach, 1 pint cherry tomatoes, 1 pound Romano beans, 2 sweet Italian peppers, 8 ears corn, 2 pounds Nicola potatoes, 1 watermelon, 1 basket French petite plums, 2 pounds Gala apples.

We used the carrots from last week along with the Romano beans and sweet red peppers from this week to make a veggie stir fry. To go with that, we made beer-glazed black beans.

The corn, most of the spinach, and the cherry tomatoes were used in the chili mac.

We made home fries with the potatoes for breakfast on the weekend. My pan was too crowded though so they weren't as browned and crisp as I would have liked. Good to remember for next time.

Also noteworthy: apparently Nicola potatoes are reported to be lower on the glycemic index than regular potatoes. We've been trying to cut out excessive carbs and sugars lately so every little bit helps. I just read Gary Taubes' book, Why We Get Fat and What to Do About Itand it has given me a whole new perspective on carb and sugar consumption! Have you read it? What do you think? It pretty much contradicts everything I was told in Weight Watchers, but I find his arguments and interpretations of the research very convincing.

I used the rest of the spinach to go with this really awesome sun-dried tomato and chili walnut layered dip!

Check out the recipe over  at Leanne's blog, Healthful Pursuit. I followed her recipe almost exactly, except that I didn't have this one ingredient called Herbemare, but from what I could tell online it is a mixture of salt and dried spices so I improvised with sea salt, dried celery flakes, oregano, and thyme. I used lime juice instead of lemon juice, because that's all I had, but it seemed to work out fine. I didn't have a clear bowl to layer it in so I went with the platter instead, and topped with some sliced cherry tomatoes from our garden just for fun. We brought it to a going-away/board game night at a friend's house and it was a hit! I would definitely make this again.

We didn't do anything special with the fruit, just had it with breakfast and snacks. I loved those little plums!

Southwestern Chili-Mac Salad
adapted from Every Day with Rachael Ray - June/July 2008
Serves 6

Notes: My only changes to this recipe include using whole wheat pasta instead of regular, sharp cheddar instead of medium, and adding steamed spinach. I also didn't use cilantro this time, only because when I took it out of the fridge, I discovered that it had gone bad. If you have it, I suggest you use it. Oh, and I added coriander too, just for fun.

1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper
4 ears corn, husks and silk removed
2 cups whole wheat elbow pasta
1 small red onion, half finely chopped, half thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons coriander
1 pound lean ground beef
One 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed
2 tomatoes, cut into wedges, or a couple handfuls of cherry tomatoes sliced in half
Large bunch fresh spinach, big stems removed (optional)
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

In a medium bowl, combine the lime juice and the cilantro. Whisk in 6 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the corn and cook for three minutes, it should be just tender. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool. Return the water back to a boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente, drain and transfer to a large (serving) bowl. Drizzle about a tablespoon of oil over the pasta and toss so it doesn't stick together. Set aside.

Cut the corn kernels from the cob, add to the bowl with the pasta.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the finely chopped red onion, chili powder, and coriander. Cook for about 2 minutes or so, until the onion has softened. Add the ground beef. Cook about 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until the meat is lightly browned and cooked through. Drain any excess fat.

Wash the spinach, and put the damp leaves into a large bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave for a 2 minutes. Put the spinach in a towel and squeeze to remove excess water. Chop the spinach and add to the pasta and corn.

Add the beef mixture to the pasta bowl. Toss to combine. Season with a little salt and pepper. Add the kidney beans, spinach, tomatoes, sliced onion, and vinaigrette. Toss to combine. Taste again and adjust the seasoning as needed.

Scoop into bowls, top with cheese, and serve.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Corn and Salsa Tortilla Soup

It's getting colder and rainier here in the Pacific Northwest, but the corn is still coming in strong. Eight more ears for week 17 of the CSA. I've made corn chowder before and love it, but seeing as the poblano plants in our garden were finally starting to ripen, we felt like something with a little more south-of-the-border flair. I chose this recipe that I'd cut out of a magazine a few years ago because it called specifically for poblanos and I just liked all the toppings. It's very prep-intensive, but the actual cooking part is very quick.

I would like to point out that I tried something new this week: liver. We had a package of beef liver that came with our quarter of cow. I followed a Julia Child (i.e., traditional) recipe for liver and onions. The raw meat smelled weird, but I pressed on. After lightly dredging the pieces of liver in flour, salt, and pepper, I pan fried them in a mixture of butter and oil for about a minute on each side, then I added caramelized onions, vermouth, and broth to make a quick pan sauce. I served it on a platter and garnished with parsley. I made mashed potatoes, cucumber sauteed in butter, and poured glasses of red wine. The verdict? It looked great, but it tasted AWFUL. I ate two bites and wanted to puke. Never again...::shudders::...never again.

Have you ever tried liver? What did you think?

My mom hates liver because she used to have to eat it every Tuesday growing up, so she never served it to us as kids, but my dad likes it. I guess I just had to try it for myself and decide what I thought of it. I really liked the idea of using the whole cow, so I was really hoping I would like it. But unfortunately I couldn't get past the texture and taste, and it reminded me a little too much of the tissue samples I process at work. Oh well, live and learn, right?

CSA Week 17:

In the box: 1/2 pound spinach, 2 cucumbers, 1 bunch carrots, 1.5 pounds Heirloom tomatoes, 8 ears corn, 2 pounds White Rose potatoes, 1 yellow watermelon, 2 pounds Abate Fatal pears

I made a pot of delicious pumpkin oatmeal for Joe, Jamie, and Doug for breakfast, but I had to open a huge can of pumpkin to do it. So, later in the week I made some delicious pumpkin polenta with spinach and white beans using the spinach from the CSA, and a Rachael Ray recipe. This recipe also has a version that uses chorizo and black beans that I've already blogged about.

The cucumbers were sauteed with butter and the potatoes became mashed potatoes - side dishes for the liver fiasco I mentioned above.

I made a colorful appetizer to nibble on while cooking dinner one night using the heirloom tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper:

We brought the watermelon to a friend's BBQ and ate the pears for snacks throughout the week.

The carrots are still in the fridge so they will be included with week 18.

Corn and Salsa Tortilla Soup
adapted from Every Day with Rachael Ray - August 2008
serves 4

Note: I think a great variation to try next time would be to grill the corn, peppers, and onion first, then add them to the soup.

3 poblano chiles
6 corn tortillas, halved then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick strips
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 teaspoon ground cumin
6 ears fresh corn, kernels scraped from the cob (no need to boil first), or two 10-ounce boxes frozen corn kernels
1 red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
One 32-ounce container (4 cups) vegetable broth
One 14.5 ounce can fire-roasted diced or crushed tomatoes
1 avocado, chopped
1 lime, quartered
2 tablespoons cilantro leaves
1/4 cup sour cream (optional, we skipped it)

Preheat the broiler. Place the poblanos on a baking sheet and broil until blackened, about 10 minutes, turning partway through. Transfer the peppers to a bowl and cover. Check them after about 5 minutes. Once they are cool enough to handle, peel, seed, and chop them.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. On a large baking sheet, toss the tortilla strips with one tablespoon of the oil and the cumin. Spread them out into a single layer on the pan. Bake for about 10 minutes, then sprinkle with salt. Set aside, and try not to munch on too many.

Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet (a dutch oven would work too), heat the remaining two tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add the corn, cook for about 10-12 minutes, until looking charred around the edges. Next add the red onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes more, until the onion is softened. Stir in the broth, tomatoes, and poblanos. Bring to a boil to warm everything through and cook the tomatoes a bit. Now it's ready whenever you are.

Ladle the soup into bowls, top with tortilla strips, avocado, cilantro, sour cream if using, and a squeeze of lime juice. Grated cheddar cheese would also be great. 
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