28 June 2014

Weekend Round-Up

I currently have a glut of strawberries and the tail end of this season's rhubarb overrunning the garden.  And as nice as pies are, I've been craving some Lucile's -style jam, but didn't want to go to the trouble. That's why I'm so happy that Catherine Lamb wrote this user-friendly guide to making compote, the perfect jam for lazy people. 

While you're over there, have you checked out Food52's "20 Essential Kitchen Hacks"? I thought I was pretty clever until I read this--I particularly love the tips on using food scraps to clean the house.  

I love Kimmi over at Grubarazzi's edition of mint in this fantastic margarita recipe.  Because along with strawberries, I also have a lot of mint.  And, you know, it's good to drink something besides mojitos once in a while.  

I have no plans to travel towards water until August, but I love staring longingly at Magic Seaweed's surf photos to satisfy my craving for aquatic summer pastimes. Ah, I can almost smell the dead fish...

27 June 2014

Malaysian Cauliflower Rice

Last week I shared a simple cauliflower rice recipe with you all in my weekend round-up, and I've really been enjoying it as a light meal or with a fried egg for a hearty breakfast.  You can make a pretty large batch, depending on the size of your cauliflower head, and it will keep in the refrigerator for a week. I'm not going to try to tweak the recipe that Michelle Tam included on her blog (linked below), because it doesn't need any tweaking.  So, this recipe just shares some seasoning I like, which is a North American play on Nasi Ulam, the traditional Malaysian rice dish. (For a more authentic attempt at the flavors of Nasi Ulam, read about it here.)

Malaysian Cauliflower Rice

Serves 6

One batch of cauliflower rice, brilliantly described here

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/8 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
¼ cup cashews
salt to taste
Sambal olek and lime wedges for serving

In a dry pan over medium-high heat, toast the coconut and cashews, stirring constantly to avoid burning. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Wipe out the pan and make the cauliflower rice according to directions above.  When it is cooked, stir in all the chopped herbs and scallions and continue to cook until fragrant, about one minute.  Season with salt, stir in the coconut and cashews, and remove from heat. Serve hot or room temperature with Sambal olek and lime wedges on the side.

24 June 2014

Shaved Asparagus Pasta

I had a slightly similar dish to this at Brush Creek Ranch during my artist residency in May, but that one was drowned in greasy tomato sauce and so chocked full of spicy Italian sausage, which all but obliterated the flavor of the asparagus.  This lighter version highlights the end of asparagus season much better, with all respect to "Spoons" in the BC kitchen!

Shaved Asparagus Pasta

Serves 6

1 pound fettuccine
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed and cleaned
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon lime juice
Handful mixed chopped herbs (I like parsley, cilantro, and mint)
2 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and finely chopped

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, prepare the asparagus: after washing and trimming off the woody parts, shave lengthwise into thin sheets with a vegetable peeler or mandolin. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook the asparagus, stirring often, until crisp-tender and bright green, about 5 minutes.  Lower to medium-low heat and add the garlic, salt and red pepper flakes, and herbs.  Cook, stirring often, until the garlic is fragrant, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the lime juice and toss with the drained pasta in a large serving bowl.  Sprinkle the chopped eggs on top and serve.

21 June 2014

It's the WEEKEND WEEKend WEekend weekend

I so totally want to make this backsplash for my kitchen.  We can collect the supplies in no time!

I'm not always a fan, but this collection of recipes on Food 52 has me hankerin' for an iced coffee.

I may be ruining the secret here, but I want these guys to stay in business, so if you're driving through Greeley, CO, don't cry about it--stop in to our new Speakeasy for a classy cocktail! I have tested them thoroughly for you, dear readers, and I can tell you that they make consistently strong drinks.

I didn't get what the big deal was with cauliflower rice, but now I do.  Try this easy, intelligently designed recipe this weekend! I like mine with fresh herbs and a fried egg on top.

Getting pretty excited to drink beer next week in Fort Collins.

20 June 2014

Sweet Potato and Kimchi Quesadillas

This recipe is inspired both by Roy Choi's idea to insert kimchi into, well, everything, and an old sweet potato quesadilla recipe from the original Moosewood Cookbook I used to enjoy in my crunchy undergraduate days back in the early 90s.  You can vary this as much as you want--I'm ambivalent about the need for cheese when kimchi is involved, but it does help hold the thing together, for instance. Use a different grated root vegetable, different herbs or beans, etc.  Whatever your creation becomes, it's a great hand-held for the patio with a crisp glass of beer.

Sweet Potato and Kimchi Quesadillas

Serves 4

Teaspoon olive oil
1 small sweet potato, peeled and grated
½ yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup cooked black beans
Handful chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
½ cup kimchi
1/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3 giant flour tortillas

In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  When it shimmers, add the onion and cook, stirring constantly, until it starts to get soft.  Add the sweet potato, cumin, and salt and pepper, and continue to cook in the same fashion until the sweet potato is tender, about 8 minutes.  Stir in the black beans, cilantro, and kimchi and heat through.  Remove from heat.

Fill the three tortillas equally with the sweet potato filling, sprinkle equal amounts of cheese in each, and fold over in half.  At this point, you can either wipe out the skillet and fry each quesadilla in a little oil until brown and crisp on both sides, or you can pop them in a 425°F oven on a lined baking sheet and cook until golden (about 5 minutes on each side).  I prefer the oven because I’m not adding more oil to the dish.

17 June 2014

Toasted Kale Salad

This recipe fall under the category of "too lazy to cook when I'm hungry", which is a growing state of mind for me as the days begin to heat up.  I miss the ease of merely showing up to the kitchen during Verismo Trio's artist residency and being fed, like baby birds, between rehearsals.  I have to do the cooking myself now, but at least, once it's made, this is the kind of thing that I can pull out when it occurs to me that I have been lost in thought for so long that I am in full-on hungry mode.  Much better than eating Chili-cheese Fritos for lunch.

This salad is also a riff on Heidi Swanson's from her Super Natural Every Day.  As I often find with this book, the combinations are clever, but the flavors are just too mild for my taste.  So, I spiked the dressing and changed ratios quite a bit from the original.  What first caught my eye about this recipe, besides the improbable addition of coconut (don't question it, just do it!), was the toasting of the kale, which we love to make at home for a snack.

Toasted Kale Salad

Serves 4

2 cups cooked barley
1 scallion, chopped (green and whit parts)
3 cups kale, washed and chopped
1 tablespoon shredded coconut (sweet or unsweetened)
¼ cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon grated ginger
Sriracha sauce, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine the oils and soy sauce in a small bowl. Place the kale and coconut on a baking sheet and pour about ½ the oil mixture over it; stir to coat.  Bake the kale until it starts to brown a little bit, about 10 minutes.  Add the almonds to the pan and bake another 5-7 minutes, or until they start to get a little bit browned.

Meanwhile, in a large serving bowl, combine the cooked barley. Scallions, and remaining oil mixture along with the vinegar, ginger, and Sriracha.  When the kale mixture is toasted to your liking, add that to the barley, stir to combine, and serve.  Cold leftovers are also delicious.

14 June 2014

Weekend Faves

It is finally heating up to summer temperatures in my neck of the woods, and I am starting to achieve my annual summer goal of not knowing what day it is (sorry, Katie, for forgetting your lesson last week!).  I guess my favorite things this week have mostly revolved around laying around and achieving very little.

This dreamy new magazine, Driftless, makes me sorry I left the Midwest.

I am so impatient for corn season, but I think I can make this beautiful corn soup with frozen...I'm going to try!

Thanks to the folks at Serious Eats, I am finally going to properly educate myself on how to choose and enjoy rye whiskey with this handy guide.

I am, as always, disappointed with the line-up at our local blues festival this weekend.  So, I'm going to make my own on the back patio, where the drinks are strong and already paid for...

10 June 2014

Lemony Brussels Sprouts and Corn with Pasta

This dish is so summery!  Early season Brussels Sprouts are just making their final bow in the stores around here; pick the smallest ones possible, and make sure they're firm and tightly packed.  The corn is a bit hasty, as it won't be ripe in these parts until July, but I usually use the frozen kind now that I'm no longer a resident of the Corn Belt, anyway.

Lemony Brussels Sprouts and Corn with Pasta

Serves 4

1 teaspoon olive oil
½ yellow onion, diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
½ pound small Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 cup corn kernels, thawed if using frozen
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1 pound stick pasta of your choice (I like linguine)
Sour cream or plain yogurt for serving

Start a well-salted pot of water boiling and cook pasta according to package directions

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and Brussels Sprouts and cook, stirring frequently, until tender and sprouts have some light brown spots on them, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, corn, chopped herbs, and salt and pepper.  Continue to cook until heated through and garlic is fragrant, about 4 minutes.  Stir in the lemon juice and zest and add the cooked, drained pasta to the skillet.  Toss to coat, season with more salt or pepper if necessary, and serve in individual bowls.  Top with sour cream or yogurt if desired.

07 June 2014

Weekend favorites

What perfect, early-summer weather we are having in Northern Colorado right now! Despite the fracking-induced earthquake we experienced last weekend, everything is fine and dandy here in Greeley. Oh, except for the flooding.  So, it's really best to just stay on the porch. Due to my slightly sedentary plans this weekend, this has turned into the cool desserts installation, but I don't imagine I'm alone in my cravings right now.

Photos by James Ransom for food52.com

A tasty use for strawberry tops?!  I'm in. 

I made this no-churn frozen yogurt by mixing together plain, Greek style yogurt with leftover raspberry-rhubarb sauce and it was amazing.  (Hint: you just put it in the freezer.  It's so fantastic.)

This recipe from Molly Yeh confirms that bubble tea is really not very good for you, but it is delicious. And since I live in a town with no good bubble tea, I am grateful for the instructions.

I know where I'll be visiting from now on before I head down to Denver to pick up my bubble tea supplies.

When I'm staying on my porch or patio for the day, though, I prefer for my dessert to have just a little kick: I've dusted off this old recipe and replaced the lemon juice with lime.

Happy weekend!

06 June 2014

It's time for rhubarb pie!

...and whatever else you can fit in there!  I chose blueberries this time, but you could swap in an equal amount of strawberries, raspberries, or apricots (trust me, I've vetted them all) in this recipe.  And the pie crust is a noble thing to make yourself, but there's no shame in purchasing a roll-out refrigerated crust from the grocery store. It's summer, after all, and you need to save your energy for making mojitos.

Rhubarb-something or other Pie

Two pie crusts
1 1/4 cups sugar 
1/3 cup flour 
1 cup fresh blueberries (or strawberries, etc.)
2 cups fresh rhubarb, cut into 1" pieces 
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon butter 

Roll out a pie crust and line a greased pie plate with it.  Poke it with some holes, line the bottom with dried beans, and bake at 450F for 10-12 minutes, or until it starts to firm up. 

Meanwhile, combine the rhubarb and sugar in a bowl and allow to sit until it gives off its juices.  Then stir in the spices, flour, and blueberries or other fruit you're using.  When the crust is ready, pull it out of the oven and pour this mixture into it, smoothing it out so it's even.  Dot with little squares of butter and lay the other crust on top, cutting some vent holes in as creative of a way as you dare. You can also dust the top crust with a little turbinado sugar if you want. Pinch the top and bottom crusts together and put it back in the oven, this time baking at 375F for 45-50 minutes or until the crust is as golden as you like. Cool thoroughly before cutting.

If the outer edge of your crust gets too brown, I like to use these little guys, which accommodate any diameter of pie and can be used over and over again.  

03 June 2014

Easy summer meals

In the winter, I love staying in the kitchen and warming myself up over a slow-simmering soup on the stove or in front of an oven churning out bread and cookies.  In June, I'm eager to get out on a porch with a Michelada. I still want to eat delicious food, but I don't want to feel trapped in the kitchen when the weather is absolutely perfect outside (which it is for exactly two months in the summer here in northern Colorado).  So, here's what I do:

Spend one morning or afternoon cooking up big pots of 

  • barley/wheat berries/farro/rice 
  • mung beans/lentils (cook in boiling salted water until tender, about 20 minutes for brown lentils, 25 for mung beans)
  • beets or some other slow-cooking vegetable (more favorite method for roasting beets is here)

Refrigerate in separate containers.

In fact, just these three ingredients, along with some chopped scallions and fresh cilantro and store-bought peanut sauce, will yield a tasty salad for picnics or porch-sittin', like so:

(That's actually my patio.)

All of these ingredient can be frozen, but you'll probably get through them in a week.  Then, each day you can stir-fry some fresh vegetables quickly, season with rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, peanut sauce, Sriracha, etc. to your heart's content, and toss with some beans for protein, beets because they're delicious, and grains because they're grains. The photo below shows mung bean sprouts (in colander), napa cabbage, broccoli, scallions, and carrots. Be creative and you won't ever eat the same meal twice.  

By the way, that Michelada is also easy as pie: 

  • Rim a glass with lime juice and then coarse salt, as in margarita preparations.
  • Drop some hot sauce into the bottom of the glass.
  • Pour in your beer.
  • Top with a lime wedge. 

I like to snack on tortilla chips while doing this.