Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Grilled Flounder, Cream of Garlic Soup, and more

It feels like there hasn't been a lot of at-home cooking this past week. I think we made a few big meals and have been living off those. Last Thursday we picked up the CSA and had cabbage, two types of green beans, blueberries, kohlrabi, onions, cilantro, and cooking apples. Later that night my friend L. came over for dinner and I gifted her with a head of cabbage (we had 3 heads total at that point, and I don't care how great your cole slaw recipe is, a person can only eat so much cabbage. I much prefer the dark leafy greens). The menu for Thursday was Red Snapper with Fava Bean Puree, roasted beets and beet greens with bacon. Maybe using so many Food Network recipes isn't trendy, but there are some good options there, and Giada's dishes are pretty simple but satisfying.

Changes we made: we didn't go to the grocery store until Wednesday night and there was no red snapper, so we bought wild flounder. We put the flounder steaks in aluminum foil with some olive oil and green garlic and cooked it on the grill. I was not about to deal with shelling 3 pounds of fava beans, so we bought the frozen lima beans. The chicken stock was made with water and bouillon cubes because I had forgotten the grocery list and rewrote it from memory but did not remember chicken stock as an item. I think dinner turned out well although Rich wasn't happy with the beet greens. The roasted beets were good with a little salt sprinkled on top.

For dessert we had the option of blueberry buckle (still there from Tuesday) or peaches cooked with balsamic vinegar -- both with vanilla ice cream. We all went with the buckle.

This weekend Rich cooked a delicious cream of green garlic soup and an orzo salad with dill and fennel tops. Recipe links to follow later. I made a peach crisp from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook (sometimes, you just need the basic plaid-covered recipe). I have not had it with ice cream but have added it to my oatmeal and yogurt.

Those cooking apples may become a Brown Betty; otherwise, basic applesauce.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Roasted Turnips, Cream of Potato Soup, Blueberry Buckle

Last night, not only did I cook dinner by myself (Rich got home just as I was finishing up), but I cooked three dishes: Roasted Turnips, Cream of Potato Soup, and a Blueberry Buckle.

The turnips and potatoes seem more winter than summer, but we have a lot of turnips (from the CSA) and potatoes (to go with the turnips but not from the CSA). Earlier, Rich was going to make "neeps and tatties" but a weekend trip with a delayed return screwed up our schedules, leading him to work late last night. Dinner responsibility fell to me. I do like to cook, but I'm a one-dish girl. I also didn't have the highest energy level last night and probably would have been happy with cereal or something similarly basic. In fact, when Rich called and asked what I was making, he said "it's not something with an egg on top, is it?" (Another of my favorites!). by the way, never comment negatively when someone else is doing all the cooking.

I made the blueberry buckle first. The idea had been to cook it Tuesday night and serve it Thursday night when a friend came for dinner, but it was too good looking to resist (sorry!) Maybe we'll get more blueberries this Thursday. This batch of blueberries came last Thursday and since we ate out Thursday night and left town Friday, we didn't have a chance to eat them, so I froze them (spread out on a cookie sheet). I needed a recipe that only called for one pint of berries and not a lot of eggs (I had been planning on using them at dinner but not on top of something!) since we only had 4 left. This one fit the bill. Changes I made were only to the topping because I ran out of sugar. I mixed some cinnamon with brown sugar to sprinkle on top. We ate it with peach ice cream.*

Roasted turnips: I have never used this recipe before and have never used a Mario Batali recipe before. He's, um, a little short on details. Do I peel the turnips? (I didn't.) How hot should the burner be? (I covered the full range and even popped the pan in the oven for a little bit.) I do think my turnips were a lot bigger than his -- I cut them in 8ths more than quarters -- but this took much longer than 8-9 minutes to saute to a light golden brown. Fortunately, the soup was still cooking. But the cake was also in the oven, and that's a lot to deal with. They did end up being tender enough and the paprika helped with the color.

Potato soup: I almost went with potato pancakes, which would have required using at least one egg. But soup seemed a little more hands-off and less messy. This recipe won because I had all the ingredients except cream. I just realized I skipped the cayenne step -- oh well. I substituted milk (2%) for the cream. The problem with this recipe is it gives you no sense of how long it should take. I had to cook the potatoes (cut in at least quarters) for at least 20 minutes on high to soften them enough. Fortunately for me, I guess, I started dinner and dessert 2 hours before Rich was supposed to get home from work.

The highlight of the potato soup recipe was I got to use the immersion blender! I ended up using the hand masher to start and then used the blender. I sliced up some scallions and cooked some bacon for toppings. We even put a little goat cheese on the soup.

The cake was already cooling when Rich got home and everything else was ready 10 minutes later.

* One of the downsides of downtown living is no grocery store. We walked about 3/4 mile in 90+ degree weather to the fancy market/restaurant. Except the market part was closed. Even though the sign on the door says it's open to 9. And this is the 2nd time we've been there that they closed early. The guy let us and 2 other people who had just shown up buy something since we were not paying with cash. And then they didn't even have vanilla ice cream. In retrospect, we should have just gone to the crummy CVS.

Monday, June 14, 2010

What happened to the squash recipes?

Our summer squash and zucchini have gotten lost in the piles of greens (kale, lettuce, collard greens, etc, etc). This will need to be corrected. The pasta this week should focus on the squash and not the broccoli (Hmm, maybe broccoli pizza crust later). Or is there such thing as a summer squash soup? Then we can break out the new immersion blender again (post to follow on the the new blender and its first use for kale soup).

Ooh, this one looks good. By the way, I'm also not sure about sneaking vegetables into meals for kids, but since I don't have kids, I guess it doesn't really matter. I did think about the concept when making the cauliflower pizza -- you could totally hide that from children or adult picky eaters.

Or this one. Especially since it's so hot outside. If the weather continues like this through the summer, there will definitely not be an outdoor wedding in August. We will wed in the AC like civilized, non-sweaty people. A third option, although we don't have buttermilk (I think we have the ingredients for everything else, even tahini.) Finally, this one would also use the pasta but would not require use of the immersion blender.

Soup options: Sunny Summer Squash Soup, Cold Zucchini & Summer Squash Soup, Buttermilk, Summer Squash Soup, or Summer Squash Soup with Pasta & Parmesan. Which one would you pick?

The CSA deluge continues

For the pick-up two Thursdays ago, we were actually able to get through all the food. It helped that we had friends over for dinner Wednesday night and finished up the turnips and salad. Dinner was lamb burgers with the cucumber-yogurt sauce from the turkey burger recipe, red onions cooked in balsamic vinegar, roasted turnips (which I forgot to put out), and the remainder of the salad (mixed greens with avocado, grapefruit, orange, and goat cheese, and a french dressing).

Other highlights of the week included a pizza made with a cauliflower crust -- something different to do with the cauliflower and pretty easy. There are a number of links about it online but it's basically 1 cup of "riced" cauliflower (I boiled it and then put it through the food processor to rice it), 1 egg, and 1 cup mozzarella cheese. I doubled the recipe and used fontina cheese since we didn't have any mozzarella. Mix it together, add some spice if you want, then back at 350? for 10-15 minutes. The crust did not taste like pizza crust we had had before but it didn't taste like cauliflower either. It was pretty good. For toppings, we finished off a can of San Marzano tomatoes, some eggplant sauce we ended up with for a recipe we never made, and sauteed zucchini and squash. Plus the rest of the fontina. It was even good as breakfast the next day.

This past Thursday we picked up collard greens, red cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, squash/zucchini, and garlic. Maybe something else. So far we've had the collard greens and cabbage. Last night we cooked bacon and onion and then added the collard greens. In a separate pot, we cooked bacon and added the red cabbage, brown sugar, and raisins. Tonight is a salad night. Tuesday will probably be pasta with broccoli, zucchini/squash, tomatoes (canned), sundried tomatoes (jarred), and roasted red pepper (jarred). With goat cheese, I'm sure. Wednesday, leftovers. Thursday, we pick up again, but then we're out of town Friday-Monday. There may be blueberries Thursday, so we would definitely eat those that night.