Pea Shoots and Butternut Squash: Week of February 20th

Lucky for me that I had houseguests this week, because I was away and didn’t realize I wouldn’t be here to pick up my box until it was too late to let Eatwell know I needed to skip a week. Here’s what my guests picked up for me and lovingly put in the fridge:

Tadorna Leeks
Lettuce
Polar Bear Spinach
Butternut Squash
Red Chard
Green Garlic
Dried Serrano Chiles
Pea Shoots
Pink Lady Apples
Tangelos
Broccoli

Leeks for breakfast

I love cooking experiences that take care of several needs simultaneously. In this case, I found myself, once again, with a backlog of leeks. Why do I end up with so many leeks? I think because I am not a good preparer and consumer of wintertime soups. These would enfold my leeks and savor the unique notes they bring to the pot, but whenever I make soup I don’t end up eating most of it, and it rots, and I’m sad. And then on the other hand, leeks aren’t the kind of veggies I like to just steam up and eat alongside some rice and tempeh, so they had started to make a leek mountain in the back of my fridge.

Sephardic Leek and Cheese Casserole

I also had an interesting food challenge to meet. I’m going to be away from home for at least a week, under circumstances where taking care of my own (convoluted and everchanging) food needs might not be able to get my full attention. The hardest meal for me to figure out at other people’s houses is breakfast, because I generally tend to eat leftovers, but I can’t count on finding the right sort of leftovers for breakfast every day at someone else’s house. So what could I make that would be like breakfast, and like leftovers, and maybe also involved a lot of leeks?

I pulled down a huge stack of cookbooks from the shelf, branching out this time past the usual suspects. I combed their indices for mention of leeks. Finally, in a beautiful cookbook called Olive Trees and Honey, one that I love to read but rarely cook from, I found the perfect dish. In addition to my leek backlog, I was also faced with a surplus of eggs, and the minute I saw the recipe I knew the utterly comfort-foodish Sephardic Leek and Cheese Casserole was going to clean out my fridge and set me up with breakfast quite perfectly. I really wanted all those leeks to go to a good home, and I think at last I’ve found one.

Recipe can be found beyond Continue reading

Kale: Special Guest Post!

Duck suggested I post about the kale sauce he invented which I am obsessed with. But where he is an improvisational dressing/sauce daredevil in the kitchen, I am intimidated and need my recipe. So he obliged me with not only the recipe, but also an entire guest appearance. The best part is, I got to eat the kale! All of it.

Kale with Kale Sauce

Though kale has been a perennial favorite of ours (see her post and mine), it never quite had that mouth-watering, I must-eat-it-or-I-will-be-miserable quality until I casually whipped up this amazing kale sauce. Now it is the best kind of treat–often requested and happily and easily supplied—that we share with every serving of kale (and anything else we think of pouring it on, for that matter). It is our pleasure to share it with the world, and to encourage you to indulge one of the best food experiences in your life.

Kale with Kale Sauce

Selecting your kale: If you are truly enjoying the fruits (and vegetables) of this blog, your kale is preselected, but if you’re still filling up the shopping cart, I recommend organic kale. My roommates swear by red kale, but I find the green kale (in dinosaur and plain variety) to be the sweetest and most tender.

Cut and Steam: With a steamer tray or a double pot, heat up at least three inches of water (I’ve run out of steam water before, leaving a ruined pot and a smell similar to burned rubber and tooth decay.) Chop your kale into thirds or fourths, depending—you’re looking for bite size, but not too small.

As they transform into succulent pieces of delight: Whip up the sauce!

For One Serving:

1 Garlic clove, crushed or chopped, and toasted in olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice of a 1/4 Meyer lemon (you can use generic if you’re in a pinch, but it’s worth it to go for the brand name on this one)

I honestly always estimate on the sauce, but the key things are a higher vinegar-to-oil ratio, lots of garlic, and a good squeeze of lemon.

Remove and Devour: I think one the reason people don’t like steamed kale is because it’s often not steamed long enough. I take the kale out when it doesn’t need gnashing; just tender and soft, but not wilted. This usually takes about 10-20 minutes, depending on the variety. My rule of thumb is, if there is a stiffness or a crunch, wait three minutes and try then—you won’t ruin it, and you might unlock that delicious sweetness that seems to hide in the kale until it’s just perfectly cooked. Another good tip is to look for a darkening in color: when it all changes to one shade heavier, you’re golden; two shades, and you might have depressed it.

This recipe has been added to roundup of kale recipes over at Book of Yum, one of my favorite GF (mostly) vegan blogs!

Green Garlic and Tangelos: Week of February 13th

This week’s box arrived and took its place in the refrigerator beside the contents of many, many boxes of the past. I have been so tired lately that I have been cooking and eating only the simplest things – kale with rice, plain whole fruit, spinach and eggs. Anything that requires thought or planning or a recipe has been relegated to rare occasions, and meals that require a paper menu and a phone have had more of a starring role over the last couple of weeks. But my box continues to bring me fresh promises from the land of real food, and I’m feeling my energy start to return. So we’ll see what I make of:

Pink Lady Apples
Tangelos
Tokyo Turnips
Green Garlic
Polar Bear Spinach
Lettuce
Arugula
Green Onions
Red Cabbage
Cilantro

Chard and Beet Greens

Chard, Beet Green, Caramelized Onion, Ricotta, Goat Cheese, & Pine Nut Pizza

For as long as I’ve been filling my own pizzas, I’ve been topping them with chard. I’m not sure how I came up with chard as a no-brainer pizza topping – I’ve certainly never seen it on the list at any pizza joint – and every time I buy chard to put on a pizza I find myself preparing to put the pizza together going, What was I thinking? Chard on pizza? But every time I take the chard-pizza plunge, I’m reminded again why I do it. I don’t like tomato sauce, and the chard has all the moisture and sweetness you could ask for, as well as its own uniquely great texture in contrast to the crust.

I decided to try a new kind of crust by my beloved pizza-shell makers, Vicolo Pizza. This was a spelt crust, using a form of wheat that is often easier to digest than regular wheat. I’m sad to report that the spelt crust may be easier to digest, but I found it much, much harder to consume! It’s back to the cornmeal (and wheat flour) crusts, eaten sparingly as a special treat, of course.

The pizza was fortunately completely redeemed by the lusciousness of its toppings.  Into that spelt crust I piled fresh sheep’s milk ricotta cheese, caramelized onions, sauteed chard and beet greens, fresh goat cheese, and toasted pine nuts. Phenomenal!

Too many cabbages? Que sera, sera

Que Sera Cabbage Salad

I’ve been so very tired lately. Too tired to cook, too tired to even figure out what I might want to eat. Luckily for me, exactly one and one half blocks from my house is a Mexican restaurant that makes a pretty decent and decently priced kid-sized bean, rice, and cheese burrito. I went down there yesterday and and once again bought my main meal of the day, asking them to add a side of this fantastic cabbage salad they make there. Then I carried my paper bag of burrito and salad back to my house and ate my rice and my beans and my cabbage. Meanwhile, down the hall, there were four kinds of cabbage in my refrigerator.

Yes, four kinds of cabbage. A half a head of napa cabbage, a red cabbage, a Savoy beginning to wither, and the most recent addition to the community, a pointy Wakefield. So I did what any girl would do when confronted with this sort of cabbage surplus. I called my mom.

Every year when I was a kid my mom and I would throw a huge Chanukah party. Well over a hundred people would pile into our little house, lining up in rowdy crowds outside the kitchen for latkes, and heading back to the dining room for plate after plate of the cabbage and cucumber salads my mother would start making the night before in enormous vats, keeping her eye on all the steps involving ice water and salt and vinegar throughout the night as she transformed our house into a twinkle-lit wonderland. It was this fresh, silky cabbage experience that I wanted to replicate, as much a winter cabbage association as the heavy cooked cabbage dishes I’d been putting off making.

Here, straight from Mom and the Silver Palate Cookbook, is the Que Sera Cabbage Salad of my youth (scaled down for a home audience, of course!).

(Recipe behind the “more”…) Continue reading

Bonus!

Secret bonus sweet potato recipe!

It’s a secret bonus recipe because I didn’t make it using things from my box. In fact, I didn’t make it at all! In fact, it doesn’t even have sweet potatoes in it!

So why am I even posting it? Because it is just so incredibly good. Duck wanted to make sweet potato fries for his birthday party. But the oven was full of vegan cupcakes and chocolate ginger torte, Spicy Sweet Potato Friesso he googled to find out if we could grill the fries instead. He came across this post, which reassured us that we could indeed grill our “fries.” But the true triumph was the aioli the post inspired. Although it was originally meant as a condiment for our grilled sweet potatoes, the party guests ended up dipping pretzels and chips, drizzling it on burritos, and licking it straight off their fingers. People could not get enough of this sauce, with good reason. And so I share it here. Pour it on everything from your box. You won’t be sorry.

Vegan Garlic Aioli (adapted from Kirsten’s Home Cooking blog)

1/2 cup Vegenaise (grapeseed oil-based vegan mayo)
2 large cloves garlic, mashed
Juice of 1 lemon
Dash of black pepper
Dash of cayenne pepper
Salt to taste

Mix all ingredients together, adjust seasonings to taste. Serve with everything!

Spinach for breakfast

Spinach with Garlic, Potato and Egg Dish

I stopped buying spinach some time in college. I hated washing it, or rather, I hated eating gritty spinach, which was usually how my roommates and I ate it, since we all hated the effort it took to wash it well. Then they started selling prewashed baby spinach in those cellophane bags, so I started buying spinach again. Then I got waste-conscious, and stopped buying spinach so I wasn’t using up all that plastic. Now I’m back to spinach. And if I thought it was gritty before…

Dirty Spinach

But the spinach keeps coming, every week it comes, which means this time I don’t have a choice. So I fill a tub with water, I use kitchen shears to snip the leaves off their crowns, and I plunge them in. I swish them, then I rinse them, then I rinse them again. It’s a lot of work. But I’m finding I don’t mind. The spinach is there, so I clean it. It cooks up so tender and sometimes even sweet.

I usually eat the whole batch in one sitting, at breakfast time. I don’t know why spinach has become solely a breakfast food, although I do generally wake up craving eggs and greens. So once a week I wash and wash my spinach, saute it with some garlic and olive oil, and fold it into an omelette, or tuck it under some poached eggs, or eat it alongside something like the (unfortunately not very successful) potato-and-egg bake pictured above. And, when I sit down at last to eat my breakfast spinach, I feel like I can taste the satisfying flavor that comes from grit-free spinach, accomplished sans cellophane bag.

(For some more concrete ideas on how to use spinach for breakfast, please read Spinach for Breakfast, the Sequel!)

Watermelon Radish and Wakefield Cabbage: Week of January 30th

This week I was so tired my produce sat in its box on the kitchen floor for two days until Duck arrived and put it away for me. So no photos or perky accounting of amounts. Here’s the basics:

Pink Lady Apples
Navel Oranges
Lettuce
Crocodile Spinach
Watermelon Radish
Red Kale
Bok Choy
Wakefield Cabbage
Tokyo Turnips
Tadorna Leeks
Carrots
Satsuma Mandarins