Friday, June 25, 2010

Spicy Green Slaw

Spicy Green Slaw

Yesterday I promised to show you the slaw I made with my kohlrabi. Shortly after I posted that, Luisa beat me to the punch! I just wanted to alert you, so you could make a well informed decision about how to use your kohlrabi. And I promise I won't feel bad if you make hers (with carrots! and fennel seed!) instead.

Mine is quite spicy, though I think that's because I had a freakishly hot jalapeno. Freakishly hot, I say, because usually I can handle jalapenos without batting an eye. Freakishly hot, I say, because the next morning when I woke up, my left hand was STILL burning. People, be ye not so silly: I held the pepper with my naked left hand while I chopped with my knife-holding right hand. Next time, I'm going to use a fork or some plastic wrap to guard my sensitive cuticles. If you have a freakishly hot jalapeno, you might want to only use half of it.

173/365: Kohlrabi

So anyway, after you've taken many precautions while mincing your jalapeno, take your freaky alien fruit from space, you peel it, then you cut it into matchsticks [Make thin slices. Stack the slices. Slice the stack. Ta-da!] Mix it up with many other crunchy, green, early summer vegetables and tossed with a spicy asian influenced dressing. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

Spicy Green Slaw
We were still in meat-recovery mode, so we just had bowls of this for dinner (and, ok, a bite or two of ice cream for dessert), but I think it would be a practically perfect sidecar to grilled shrimp or maybe chicken with a glaze of hoisin sauce.

For the slaw:
1/4 green cabbage, sliced thin
1 medium kohlrabi, peeled and cut into long thin matchsticks (julienne)
handful of sugar snap or snow peas, sliced on the diagonal
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced 
2-3 tablespoons chopped cilantro (small handful)
kosher salt
sesame seeds for garnish

For the dressing:
2 teaspoons rice vinegar (seasoned or unseasoned, if you use unseasoned you may want to add a bit of sugar or honey for balance)
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 - 1 tsp sesame oil
2 teaspoons grapeseed or other neutral oil

First, make the dressing. Combine the rice vinegar, sugar or honey if using, soy sauce, sesame oil and grapeseed oil in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Taste and add more soy sauce if too bland or more grapeseed oil if too pungent.

Put the thinly sliced cabbage in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle kosher or sea salt over the cabbage (half a teaspoon or so) and use your hands to massage the salt into the cabbage to wilt it a bit.* 

Add the kohlrabi, sugar snap peas, minced jalapeno (reserve half to add back later if your pepper is freakishly hot) and cilantro, then add the dressing and toss to combine the whole thing. I use my hands for this, but you can use tongs if you like. Taste and add more jalapeno if it's not spicy enough for you. Dish out into bowls and sprinkle with sesame seeds. 

*As I mentioned above, I had some thinly sliced, salted cabbage left over from making sauerkraut, which is quite easy if you have a digital scale. Here is how I learned it: Discard any funky or dirty outer leaves of a green or red cabbage. Quarter the cabbage and remove the core. Thinly slice the cabbage quarters. Put a big bowl on the scale. Zero out the scale. Put the sliced cabbage in the bowl - use grams instead of ounces. Calculate 2 percent of the weight of the cabbage (692 grams of cabbage x .02 = 13.84). In a separate small vessel, weigh out the salt - in this case, 14 grams. Oh, and make sure the ingredients list on your kosher salt is just "salt" with no anti-caking agents. Sprinkle the salt over the cabbage and start massaging it, squishing and squeezing with your hands to encourage the liquid out of the cabbage. Start packing the cabbage into a clean glass jar, really squishing it in there hard - we use a cocktail muddler. As you press the cabbage, the liquid will rise up around it. When the jar is full, you want all the cabbage to be submerged under the liquid it releases. Put a lid loosely on the jar and leave it on your counter for anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks. Release the lid ("burp" the kraut) every day. As long as the cabbage is submerged beneath the liquid, the kraut will keep fermenting. Taste it every couple of days - once you like it, stick it in the fridge. I learned in person from this guy at last year's Can-O-Rama, but you can watch him here.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Stone Soup Farm CSA: Week Three

173/365: CSA Week 3

Week Three: things are still green, but there's a bit of color in the chard stems! Our half share contained kohlrabi (the weird looking vegetable on the bottom left), a green cabbage, a quarter pound of salad greens, a bunch of cilantro, a quarter pound of sugar snap peas, half a pound (!) of garlic scapes, and a bunch of swiss chard.

Salad Stuff
Tuesday night (the night of our pickup) we were recovering from the meatfest that is Tremont 647's Bourbon and Barbecue dinner, which we enjoyed on Monday night, so we had a giant salad. We had a tiny diva cucumber and a few radishes in the fridge, along with some of the larger turnips leftover from last week's share. I picked up a pint of the most gorgeous mixed cherry tomatoes at the farmer's market, which is conveniently the same day as our CSA pickup, should you need to supplement your wonderful local veggies with more wonderful local veggies.

Then I went out and pulled all the male flowers off our monster zucchini plants. I had every intention of stuffing and frying them to eat with the salad, but frankly I got lazy, so I just washed them and pulled them apart and tossed them in with the rest of the vegetables. Add a can of chickpeas for staying power and a tangy mustard vinaigrette, et voila! dinner.

Big Giant Salad 

 Tomorrow I'll show you the spicy green slaw I made with the kohlrabi and part of the cabbage. Oh, and the garlic scapes? According to some friends on twitter, my options abound beyond just the pesto I made last week and couldn't stop eating. Pickled, grilled, or tucked in a quiche - what would you do with all those garlic scapes?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Stone Soup Farm CSA: Week Two

166/365: Stone Soup Farms CSA Week 2
Here's our half share from Stone Soup Farms this week: red leaf lettuce, a quarter pound of spinach, lacinato kale, garlic scapes, turnips and POPCORN! I'm pretty excited about that last one, as we are popcorn fans here at Hungry Bruno. I especially like it with pimenton de la vera, Spanish smoked paprika, and butter. What do you put on your popcorn?

Galette of Greens
I used the turnip greens and spinach to make a galette, as I had some leftover 3:2:1 pie dough (about 10 ounces) from the rhubarb pie I made last weekend. I caramelized one onion, then added the greens and sauteed them until they were wilty. Rolled out the dough, spread a tablespoon of dijon mustard on it, then a flurry of grated cheddar (gruyere would be nice, too!), then the onions and greens and a little more cheese. I crimped up the edges and slid the whole shebang on parchment onto the baking stone in my 375 degree oven. Thirty-five minutes later: dinner. With asparagus and lemony butter. Not bad for a Tuesday!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Crispy Grilled Potatoes

Crispy grilled potatoes

Last weekend, we bought a grill. It's just a simple charcoal-burning Weber, but I'm already certain of its ability to drastically enhance my summer eating experience. There's something about standing outside, tongs in hand, watching glowing coals transform your ingredients into your dinner that is primally satisfying.
 Potatoes, boiled

So when my sister called and said hey, we have some meat already marinating in Alyse's secret recipe marinade...can we come cook it on your grill? I said, heck yes. And then I thought dangit, what can I contribute? We've got steak. We've got salad. We need potatoes.

Potatoes, smushed and seasoned

I used a two pound bag of red potatoes, and luckily enough they were all about the same size. If you get to select each potato, having them all the same size is handy; they'll all be done around the same time. These are boiled just to the point that knife slips in easily all the way to the center. Any further, and they'd fall apart too much on the grill.
Steak & taters

Then I pressed them with the bottom of a glass (gently!) until they flattened out a little bit and skin gapped enough to expose a few cracks of creamy interior. These spuds are simply seasoned with a brush of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Grilled over medium hot coals they are, I think, the perfect example of the whole being so much more than the sum of its parts.

Crispy Grilled Potatoes
serves 4 as a side dish

When (gently!) flattening the potatoes, it may take you a couple of tries to determine how much pressure is enough, and you will almost certainly smush a few into non-grillable oblivion. That's ok! Save the squashed ones and make hash browns for breakfast tomorrow.

2 lbs red potatoes, ideally all around the same 2 inch diameter
olive oil

Clean the potatoes and cut out any bad spots. Put them in a large pot and fill with cool water to cover by an inch or two. Set the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Salt the water generously, then cook the potatoes for 20-25 minutes, or until a knife slips easily all the way to the center, meeting no resistance. Take them out as soon as they are done, do not cook them to oblivion or they won't hold together when you flatten them.

While the potatoes are cooking, start your grill. You're aiming for medium high heat. Give the grill a 15 minute pre-heat, at least.

When the potatoes are done, spread them on a cookie sheet and let them dry for a couple of minutes (the remaining heat will do this for you). Use the bottom of a glass and press to (gently!) flatten the still warm potaotes a little bit. Brush the top with olive oil (maybe a tablespoon or two for the whole batch?), sprinkle generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Flip the potatoes over, oil and season the other side.

Place the potatoes on the preheated grill grate carefully - don't burn yourself! After a couple of minutes, check to see if they need to be flipped. You're aiming for lightly charred. Flip as necessary, and don't be afraid to shuffle them around, parts of the grill will be hotter than others. When both sides are crispy and golden with a few charred spots, remove and serve. These are excellent with homemade aioli or mayonnaise.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Stone Soup Farm CSA: Week One

CSA 2010: Week 1
Our CSA has begun, and I am psyched! We got an email a week ago from Stone Soup cautioning that early shares are "light and leafy" and it is. We have a half share and this week we got a head of bok choi, a stalk of green garlic, a teensy head of broccoli, 1/2 a pound of salad greens, and a bunch of kale. I got excited about the kale and sliced it up for a raw kale salad (more on that at a later date) before I photographed the haul. Full shares got 2 stalks of green garlic, spinach and turnips, too.
I've got plans for the bok choi, broccoli and garlic tomorrow, and I'm sure we'll be eating salad all weekend.
Are you part of a CSA? Has it started yet? What did you get this week? And what are you most looking forward to this summer?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Pizza: Pear, Walnut, Blue Cheese, Arugula

Pizza: Pear, Arugula, Walnut, Cambozola

Before we left for Texas I was doing some fridge cleaning out. Most of the time for me that means pizza. You know I love to re-appropriate leftovers, and I think a pie is an awfully nice way to use your leftover bits and bobs. In fact, I think it's high time I added a "pizza" category to my index of recipes.

The thing is, we don't tend to eat a lot of spaghetti with red sauce, and I don't often buy mozzarella unless I am specifically planning to make pizza... so our pizza almost always ends up sort of "fancy." In this house, we call it sosh (pronounced like the first syllable of social*) pizza. Adam has this thing about The Outsiders, and by thing, I mean he often describes things as sosh. Maybe it's because he grew up near Tulsa. Except we're not Greasers, and it's not 1965, and this is not a novel, it is cooking.

So my point is, we rarely eat pizza margherita, more often than not we eat pizza entirely without red sauce. For this particular incarnation, I used sliced bosc pears, cambozola (a triple cream blue, like a brie with funk), and walnuts, and I piled some arugula on top for the last minute of cooking. Even if Ponyboy  and Soda would think me too posh, I thought it was awfully good.

*I had the darndest time trying to figure out how you write this out phonetically. Sowsh? Sewsh? S.E. Hinton goes with Soc, but I thought it looked like sock that way. Wordsmiths, a little help?

Pizza with Pears, Blue Cheese and Arugula
serves 2 with leftovers for lunch

I par-baked the crust this time because I didn't want the walnuts to burn. I liked the way it worked out, and I'll try it again for future pizzas.

your favorite pizza dough, enough for one thin 14 inch round
1 bosc pear, thinly sliced
a handful of walnuts, chopped
3-4 ounces Cambozola or other blue cheese, sliced
2 big handfuls baby arugula
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Preheat your oven as high as it will go (mine goes to 500) with a pizza stone or upside down cookie sheet in the center. Give it at least a 15-20 minute pre-heat.

On a peel, a piece of parchment, or another upside down cookie sheet, stretch the dough to a 12-14 inch circle. Or a non-circle. No judgement here.

Slide the round onto the pre-heated stone and par-bake for 3-5 minutes, just until set. Carefully remove the partially baked crust onto the peel or cookie sheet. Top with cheese, pears, and walnuts, then put the pizza back in the oven and bake for another 8-10 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.

Meanwhile toss the arugula with the olive oil and lemon juice.

When the pizza is nearly brown enough for you, open the oven and carefully add the arugula to the pizza. Let it go for another 30 seconds to a minute, until the arugula is getting wilty. Remove from oven.

Let stand a few minutes so you don't burn your mouth on the molten cheese.