Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sage Ice Cream

Sage Ice Cream, Grilled Peaches

People, it is hot. I know it's not considered good form to mention the weather in every blog post ever, but if the weather doesn't dictate what I want to eat, then I don't know what does. Maybe if I call it "micro-seasonal eating" or something?

Anyway, last week we had a couple days of rain which was oddly delightful after the very warm, blue skies, humid breeze end of July. The garden loved the water: the monster zucchini is climbing out of the pot, our cherry tomatoes have put forth a second round crop, the lemon verbena is up to my waist, and the rest of the herbs are very, very happy.

232/365: Sage

Back in June, still giddy from the first real month of garden fresh herbs, Adam asked me how I planned to use the bounty we had planted. Well, obviously basil gets whizzed into pesto, and Kalyn taught me to freeze thyme and rosemary. I used the lemon verbena in blueberry jam that we'll eat all year, and the bay can winter over on the enclosed front porch, but what about the sage? It freezes ok, and I'll probably freeze whatever's left toward the end of the season, but I had a hunch that sage would make a really interesting ice cream. When I searched for a recipe, the one that kept popping up was this one from a 2001 issue of Gourmet (moment of silence). However. Nine egg yolks? Psssh. Clearly not necessary. And I don't want to overload my ice cream maker, I know it can handle about 3 cups of liquid in the base, but not much more. So I tweaked and I fiddled and I came up with the recipe below. It went great with rhubarb pie (sans strawberry) back in June, and it was an excellent dessert accompaniment to the peaches we threw on the still-hot grill after we ate kabobs for dinner.

Peaches and Sage Ice Cream

Sage Ice Cream
adapted from Gourmet, October 2001
Makes about a quart

You can use just about any combination of dairy you like, as long as you get three cups total. The first time I made this I used two cups of heavy cream and a cup of whole milk. This time I used one and a half cups of each. You could get away with two cups of cream and a cup of 1% or 2% if you want, but don't wuss out and use skim milk, ok? Or if you do, don't blame me when your dessert is icy and wan. Fat is flavor, friends.

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/3 - 1/2 cup fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
3 strips lemon zest, 2 inches long
6 egg yolks
scant 3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat the cream, milk, sage and zest in a medium sauce pot just until it boils. Turn off the heat and allow to steep for half an hour.

Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and salt. Temper the eggs: slowly add a cup of the hot cream mixture to the eggs so they warm slowly and do not curdle, then add the egg mixture back to the pot of cream, whisking constantly. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until it coats the back of a spoon. (By which I mean, if you run your finger over the back of the spoon, the trail it creates stays put and is not immediately overrun with cream again).

Strain the custard through a sieve into a bowl, then press a layer of plastic wrap right onto the surface and chill for at least three hours or overnight. Churn in an ice cream machine, then freeze in an airtight container until ready to use.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Stone Soup Farm CSA: Week Twelve

236/365: Stone Soup Farm CSA Week Twelve

Whew, you guys, what a week! I know I'm several days late with the CSA post but it was my last week at work so I was there rather late most evenings. I'm all done now, and getting ready for my next adventure. Thank you all so, so much for your support and encouragement! My week off starts with Adam's (30th!) birthday party tomorrow, so I've spent most of today cooking and shopping to prepare for it; I've got a brisket in the oven and another one in the slow cooker. I know this is a crazy amount of meat, but Adam's a popular dude and dangit, I'm going to want leftovers, so I'm cooking a lot of meat. In other news, my house currently smells AWESOME.

This week's veggies are: tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, pattypan squash, basil, lettuce, swiss chard, onions, garlic, edamame and some carrots that I think sat in the ground a bit too long because they were really quite woody, unfortunately.

I made classic basil pesto with, um, the basil and put it on a pizza with sliced tomato.

237/365: Pizza

Alright, I know, a little slapdash and rushed, but fear not! I'll be back soon with hot sauce, breakfast pastries, ice cream, and cake! Have a great weekend, everyone!

PS: Michael Ruhlman is doing a Week Twelve Roundup over on his blog - interesting stuff!

Monday, August 23, 2010

I've been holding back.

Grilled Cheese

Dear friends,

I've been lying to you. Not an outright lie (don't worry, my name really is Bruno), but a sin of omission, as the expression goes. I was discussing it with a friend at lunch on Friday and I confessed, "Well, I haven't told the internet yet." She pointed out that I was being very silly and weird (I believe she called me a freakshow, but in a totally loving way), and I agreed. So here it goes, internet:

I quit my job; my last day is this Thursday. I start the professional chef's program at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts in September.

I got fitted for my uniform and picked up my knife roll and supplies on Wednesday and I've got a week off in between work and school. I'm still not entirely sure what I'll be doing that week, but I figured it's going to be a while before I can just take a week off. School is only 3 days a week, so I'll be looking for a part time job in the field. As for the plan post-education, well, one of the biggest reasons for going to school is to narrow down the options. I hadn't told you yet because I feel like I'm supposed to have a firmer plan.

So there you go, internet, that's my news. Now who wants a grilled cheese?

Grilled Cheese with Tomato and Pesto
You probably don't need a recipe for grilled cheese, but I'm giving you one anyway. It's a great way to use that parsley pesto

two pieces of whole grain bread
cheddar cheese, sliced
two fat slices of tomato
a blob of parsley pesto (or basil pesto)

Butter one side each of two pieces of bread. Heat a skillet over medium heat, and put one piece of bread in the skillet, butter side down. Lay the cheese slices on the bread, then put the tomato slices on the cheese. Spread the pesto on the unbuttered side of the other piece of bread, then put that on top, pesto side on the tomatoes. As the cheese melts, carefully turn the sandwich over, toasting both sides equally. When the cheese is melted and the tomato is heated through, your sandwich is done.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Stone Soup Farm CSA: Week Eleven (and Gazpacho!)

Stone Soup Farm CSA Week Eleven

People keep talking about how summer is winding down, and folks, I'm not having any of it. Nope. Nosiree, not interested. Do not talk to me about back to school sales or beef stew or halloween, because I am not ready for summer to end. I mean, look at that pile of vegetables. Does that say "end of season" to you? We got: a bunch of huge scallions, six tomatoes, two pattypan squashes, spinach, basil, cucumbers, potatoes and some really gorgeous string beans in purple and yellow.

I'm not sure what possessed me to make gazpacho with this haul. I first had gazpacho in the eighth grade when I was intrigued by the name - say it with me. gazzzzPacho! throaty G, smooth Z, explosive P, and a nice long ooooo at the end -  However, I was at some chain restaurant (maybe Chili's?) when I ordered it and when I tasted it all I could think was ugh, runny salsa... and they're passing this off as soup? I spent the next fifteen years saying I didn't like cold soup.

Dudes, I was wrong. I do like cold soup. This is just exactly the ticket for those insanely humid days when just picking up a knife is enough to make you break a sweat, because even though it involves a fair bit of chopping, you let the blender do all the hard work.

229/365: Gazpacho
Simple, Straightforward Gazpacho
serves 2-4

Because you blend the whole thing up till smooth, there's no need to peel the tomatoes, but you do want to peel the cucumbers because the skins can be waxy. You can use any kind of tomato you like, here. I used two CSA tomatoes, plus a few romas from our container garden. Imperfect tomatoes can be used in gazpacho, too, because there's no need for lovely presentation of whole slices, you just chop, blend, and chill. Easy and delicious! Oh, and if you want this soup to be vegetarian or vegan, skip the worcestershire sauce (it has anchovies) or use soy sauce instead. 

1 1/2 lbs tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded, minced
1 huge or 2 regular cloves garlic, finely chopped or passed through a press
scant half an onion, roughly chopped
2 small cucumbers, peeled, roughly chopped
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
salt and pepper
1/2 an avocado, cubed, for garnish (optional)

Combine the tomatoes, jalapeno, garlic, onion, cucumbers, vinegar, worcestershire sauce (or soy sauce), parsley, olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt and several grinds of black pepper in a blender or food processor, or in a pot if using an immersion blender (that's what I did). Blend to desired consistency (but don't leave it too chunky or you'll end up with the cold runny salsa thing). Chill for at least an hour or up to overnight. Ladle into bowls, garnish with avocado if you like, drizzle with a little more olive oil, and serve. Garlicky toasted baguette makes a nice accompaniment.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Parsley and Pepita Pesto

Parsley Pepita Pesto
Did you know that the word pesto in Italian doesn't always mean basil garlic sauce? I mean, sure, sometimes it does, but pesto in its simplest sense just means stomped, crushed, smashed to oblivion. The name of the sauce comes from the act of making it in a mortar and pestle, smashing the garlic and pine nuts into a paste with salt, then grinding in the basil and olive oil (and sometimes cheese, but not always). But just because that's how the sauce gets its name doesn't mean that's how you have to make it; these days the food processor is the way to go.
You also don't have to make pesto with just basil. That one up there on top of al dente green beans is made with parsley, pepitas (pumkin seeds), garlic, olive oil, and parmesan cheese. We ate it on top of those green beans last week, and this weekend we swirled it into some omelettes on a lazy Saturday morning. Tonight, I'm thinking potatoes with parsley and pepita pesto, and not just for the alliteration. I like the rounder, subtler taste of the parsley compared to basil, and the pepitas give it an interesting note of earthiness.
Oh hey look, other people make pesto out of things that aren't basil!
Arugula Pesto at Simply Recipes
Spinach and Basil Pesto at Kalyn's Kitchen
Korean Perilla Pesto at Muffin Top
Radish Green and Hazelnut Pesto at Delicious Days
Asparagus Pesto, right here, from a couple months ago
Parsley Pepita Pesto
You only need the leaves of the parsley here, but stick the stems in your freezer - next time you make chicken or vegetable stock, add them to the pot.
makes about a cup of pesto
1 bunch parsley, leaves only 
2 handfuls pepitas (about 2/3 cup)
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
olive oil (I started with 1/2 a cup)
salt (I started with 1 teaspoon)
lemon juice (optional - I started with about half a tablespoon)
Briefly toast the pepitas in a dry pan over medium heat until they are just starting to take on color. Put the pepitas and garlic in the food processor and pulse a few times to chop them up. I like to do this before I add the herbs so I don't come across any huge chunks in the finished product.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the parsley, cheese, and about a teaspoon of salt, then set the processor running on low. Add the oil in a slow stream through the tube while the processor is running. I started with half a cup but ended up adding a little more; how much you use depends on how big your bunch of parsley was. You may need to stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue processing.
When the pesto has reached a consistency you like, shut off the machine and taste the sauce. If you think it needs it, add the lemon juice, and maybe more salt, then pulse the processor a few times to thoroughly mix. Taste again and adjust accordingly.
Serve on vegetables, potatoes, pasta, fish, etc.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Stone Soup Farm CSA: Week Ten (and baked tomato sauce)

Stone Soup Farm CSA Week 10

I know. I know. Those tomatoes! They're distracting me, too. Well, they would if they were still around. Before I wax rhapsodic, let me run down the inventory this week: beets with their greens (which are really purple), two yellow zucchini, two small pattypan squashes, a bunch of basil, a pound of carrots, two gorgeous onions and a head of red leaf lettuce. On Tuesday (vegetable day! the best day of the week!) we had a salad with the lettuce and a couple of tomatoes (plus an astonishing array of things I found in the fridge).

Wednesday I used the two remaining tomatoes in a riff on this baked pasta sauce from The Wednesday Chef. I chopped up the tomatoes into large chunks, spread them with some olive oil in a baking dish, and sprinkled a generous handful of breadcrumbs on top. (I had to use store bought panko, my freezer stash of crumbs was burned beyond recognition). I forgot the cheese, which it turns out was an error on my part. After 20 minutes at 400, I stirred the smushy melty awesomeness into a sauce, added a handful of basil and a modest shower of parmesan cheese and tossed it with some campanelle pasta. Adam's comment? "Need's more parm." He was totally right. I remember thinking that I didn't want to salt them too aggressively before they went in the oven because they'd be concentrating in flavor a bit and I knew I would be adding parmesan with the pasta. I was afraid of over salting, and instead wasn't aggressive enough. Lesson learned: don't be bashful!

Baked Tomato Pasta Sauce

I did love the texture of this sauce, however. I know it's cucina povera, but using bread crumbs with tomatoes is inspired and to me it feels decadent to use purposely sogged bread. I could be a total weirdo, but hey, maybe you'll like it, too!

What interesting things have you done with tomatoes this summer? And aren't you glad they're back with such vigor after last year's blight?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Stone Soup Farm CSA: Week Nine (and Greek Salad)

CSA Week 9

Week nine is awesome, guys, and primed for chunky salad making. We got: two ears of corn, two cucumbers, four tomatoes, three peppers, a pound and a half of potatoes, a bunch of parsley and a bunch of chard. That first night we turned two of the tomatoes and the cucumbers into a greek salad. First, I sliced half a sweet red onion and tossed it with a couple capfuls of red wine vinegar. I let that sit for about twenty minutes to mellow out the bite of the onion and I chopped the rest of the vegetables.

Greek Salad

I like my cucumbers peeled and seeded before I chop them, so that's what I did. I cut up two CSA tomatoes into chunks and added a handful of the Sun Gold cherry tomatoes from our back patio garden. I added a handful of pitted Kalamata olives and tossed those with the chopped vegetables with the onions (I drained off some of the excess vinegar) and then topped it with a little slab of sheep's milk feta, which made a nice bed for the patio garden oregano and freshly ground black pepper sprinkled on top. The finishing touch was a drizzle of good olive oil and a piece of bread for scooping up cheesy bits of tomato.


Ah, and speaking of cheese and tomatoes: we used the other two tomatoes for insalata caprese tonight with home grown basil and Fiore di Nonno mozzarella. I think I'm in love with summer.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

What to eat while camping.

When camping, it is very important to bring friends who like shitty beer, pithy t-shirts, and travel Scrabble. 

211/365: Travel Scrabble

It is also important to be open minded when confronted with a person whose approach to certain campfire cooking methods may be different from yours.

There are two schools of campfire bacon

I suggest bringing along a pup for company if you can, or barring dog ownership (sad face), you should track down a friend with a lapdog


You should also bring your friend who likes fishing but doesn't really like fish. Ideally she would have two different tackle boxes but only bring the fresh water box. 

Sometimes Tammi catches catfish.

Then, while reading an excellent book, come across a passage about the author's mother's bacon-wrapping phase. Read aloud the sentence about stuffing hotdogs with cheese before wrapping them in bacon. Consensus of your fellow campers will be: yes, try this.

Don't cut all the way thorugh

Find some plump dogs in the cooler (Nathan's are a delightful weiner, but too skinny for this particular application. These, I believe, are store brand), then, using that handy little knife with a sheath that you always bring out to the kitchen-in-the-woods, slice it most of the way through.

Cheese in dog

Fold a slice of American cheese in half, then fold one half in half again. Stuff this folded half-slice into the slit you've made. 

Bacon wrapped, cheese stuffed.

In order to thwart the oozing of the cheese over the fire, wrap the stuffed hot dog in bacon. 

212/365: Skewered

Skewer twice, for easier flipping, and cook to desired doneness over a fire built from logs you chopped apart with someone's dad's old hatchet. Note: it's ok to have a camp-mate do all the chopping, you're busy wrapping things in bacon. 

Variety of done-ness

Make sure you leave a few of the batch on the less crispy side, for those who side with Team Floppy Bacon. Stuff into a bun and add mustard if that's your style. Forget to take a picture of the final product, because you're too busy chewing.