Thursday, July 19, 2012


Can we all just take a second and appreciate the beauty of this apricot pie? It's really quite stunning, if I do say so myself, and also totally delicious.

The CSA apricots were a little underripe, which made them not very satisfying for eating, but extremely satisfying when lightly coated in sugar and baked into a tart, according to this Apricot Tart recipe. The crust is a very simple butter-based pie crust, and the filling is literally apricots, sugar, and a tiny bit of salt.

While I was baking a pie, Phredward baked this bread:

The recipe is his standard challah recipe, but then instead of braiding it, he just left it in a big circle. Stealth challah.

So, what else did I do with the CSA vegetables? Well, the broccolini was steamed, topped with tahini, and devoured. Broccoli and tahini are simply too delicious together for me to have much patience with anything else.

Some of the cucumbers and onions went into a sweet-and-sour cucumber salad (cucumbers, onions, salt, apple cider vinegar, water, sugar), and the rest were eaten raw with the kohlrabi, cut into cubes and tossed with lemon juice.

I made the beet and kohlrabi greens into this amazeballs frittata:

The photo is crap, but the frittata was excellent, full of the aforementioned greens plus the CSA scallions and cheddar cheese. I think eating the green tops of your CSA vegetables is pretty much the Nose-to-Tail of vegetarian cooking, and I have to admit I was pretty impressed with myself for being so efficient.

Beets - roasted with the CSA rosemary, cut into cubes, tossed with goat cheese.

I made the kale into kale pesto, which was totally new and different. If you follow that recipe, I recommend re-adding the parmesan cheese that the author left out.

And finally, the zucchini and remaining onions were made into my regular, never-fail standby of zucchini pashtida. The recipe goes more or less like this:

  • Slice 3-4 zucchinis and 2 onions in a food processor.
  • Mix with 1.5 cups of flour, 1 cup water, 1/2 cup oil, 3 eggs, 1 Tbsp soup bouillon, salt, and pepper. A pinch of crushed red pepper is nice but optional. Fresh dill is lovely, but I didn't have any this time.
  • Pour into a large greased Pyrex dish, bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until brown on top.
So, what's left of last week's vegetables? Some peaches, some scallions, one kohlrabi, and one cucumber. All in all, I think we did pretty well.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The triumphant return of the CSA

Ok, so actually, it's been CSA season for a few weeks now, but I was out of town, getting married and not eating vegetables, so this is the first CSA share I really have time to enjoy. And that means, the return of the food blog! Hooray!!

Let's get started. Check out this insanity:
This week's share includes:

  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini
  • Kale
  • Collard greens
  • Broccolini
  • Onions
  • Scallions
  • Beets
  • Purple kohlrabi
  • Rosemary
  • Peaches
  • Apricots
  • Two cats (white and black - one each)
For dinner last night, I cooked up the collard greens with some sweet Italian sausage, roughly working off this recipe. I didn't have any beans, so I just skipped that part. There's not a lot to say about the recipe, so instead, I want to talk for a minute about the sausages.

Once upon a time, +Queendeb Starr was in town, and we made Shabbat dinner. Now, the thing you should know about me is that I love vegetarians. I'm not a vegetarian, but I play one on TV. Some of my best friends are... well, anyways, vegetarians will never go hungry at my house.

Unless they don't tell me that they are vegetarians, and then Queendeb and I make Meat Shabbat, where absolutely everything from the soup on down contains meat, and the only vegetarian foods are the hummus and the dessert. And then those stealth vegetarians tell me that, well actually, they're not really vegetarians, but they only eat kosher, free-range, sustainable meat, and therefore will not eat anything I made for them anyways (which was kosher, but not any of the others).

The moral of my story is, don't be a stealth vegetarian! Come out, be proud!

But maybe the real moral of my story is this. I recently started ordering meat from Grow and Behold, a kosher meat delivery service run by a husband and wife in upstate New York. They work with small "pastured" farms, which seems to mean that the animals are treated humanely and fed things like grass instead of corn and animal by-products. Their meat is insanely expensive, but so far, pretty delicious. And if said stealth vegetarian ever ends up at my house again (which, uh, not likely), s/he could partake too.

Anyways, the sausages that I made last night are from Grow and Behold's Sausage Sampler. The sweet Italian sausages are quite sweet, and taste mildly like fennel and caraway seeds. I used two in last night's dinner, and may try grilling the rest, but I think they really want to live in tomato sauce. They were pretty good with the collard greens:

I tried taking mid-cooking pictures, like a real food blogger, with ingredients being prepared and whatnot, but they came out pretty stupid-looking, so instead, I leave you with this picture of Phredward, frying sausages and being cute.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Holy crap, we made a challah!

Phredward and I had a little bit of cooking insanity yesterday. In chronological order, we made cornbread, a crustless broccoli-spinach quiche, cranberry sauce, bbq chicken, steak fajitas, and grilled asparagus. But the most crazy thing that we made is this challah.
It's crazy because neither of us have ever made bread before, and the whole time, I was pretty sure we were screwing it up, but it turns out, we are freaky bread savants! Bread geniuses! Or maybe it was just beginner's luck.

We followed the Challah #1 recipe from California Kosher, but subbed whole wheat flour for the white that the recipe calls for. The main reason I was pretty sure we were doing it wrong is that neither of us knew anything about how to knead bread dough. We just kind of rolled it into a ball and then mushed it down and then repeated. Also, we didn't really know when it might be done, so eventually we just stopped and put it aside to rise.

But then, while we were waiting, I watched a bunch of YouTube videos about kneading dough, and they all said that it's important to stretch the dough out as you knead, so as to lengthen the glutens. But.. lengthen the glutens? That doesn't sound like a real thing. Nonetheless, I was nervous, so I insisted that we knead it again after the second rising, and then let it rise some more. And then I was sure that I had ruined everything.

We braided the challah according to the instructions in this video, and as you can see, it turned out amazing. I think next time I will bake it a little less. The recipe called for an hour, but we pulled it out after 50 minutes, and I think even 45 would have been plenty.

I didn't make enough changes to the challah recipe to justify copying it into my blog, so instead, I'll give you my mom's recipe for broccoli-spinach quiche. This is really easy and really delicious.

Crustless Broccoli-Spinach Quiche

  • 1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 1 package frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2T onion soup powder
  • 2T mayonnaise
  • 2T flour
  • 1T oil
  • bread crumbs
Mix together all of the ingredients except the bread crumbs. If you drained the frozen vegetables, you will probably need to add a little water, so don't do that. Pour into a greased 9-inch pan and top liberally breadcrumbs. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Best hamentashen ever

It's a little late for Purim, but I thought you all should know that I made the most delicious poppy-seed hamentashen ever. I was pretty excited to make these for a couple of reasons. First of all, I bought a huge bag of poppy seeds at the shuk the last time I was in Israel, and then let them sit in my freezer for a long time because I couldn't find a recipe that I loved to use them in. Secondly, last weekend I finally bought a hand mixer and a rolling pin! I know I can't be the only one who has ever tried to cream butter and sugar with an immersion blender, or roll out dough with a wine bottle. Actually, maybe I am the only one. Anyways, if you've ever tried to do either of these things, you know it's not awesome, and using the right tools for the job is infinitely superior.

So, right ingredients, right tools, right time of year. Time to find the right recipe. I read a lot of recipes, both in books and online, and in the end, decided to do a hybrid of two different recipes. I slightly modified the "Easy Hamentashen" dough from California Kosher, and adapted the filling from Smitten Kitchen.

Extra-Buttery, Soft and Delicious Hamentashen Dough

  • 1/2 pound butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
You know the drill. Cream the softened butter and sugar together. Add in the eggs and vanilla extract, and then the dry ingredients. The original recipe called for margarine instead of butter, but I think we all know that is bullshit, and it also wanted 1 tablespoon of orange juice and 1 tablespoon of grated orange rind, but who has time for that sort of thing? You are supposed to knead the dough into a ball, wrap it in saran wrap, and then chill in the fridge for 2 hours. In actuality, I left it in the fridge until well into the next day, and nothing bad happened. I found this dough a little sticky to work with, so flour your surface well when rolling it out.

Poppy Seed Filling of Awe

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup poppy seeds
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • big splash of lemon juice
  • big splash of vanilla
  • big splash of bourbon
Again, the original recipe calls for fancy-pants ingredients like orange rind, fresh lemon juice, orange liqueur, brandy, butter, and on and on, but I just do not have that kind of patience or pantry. And the recipe said to first grind the poppy seeds into powder and then cook them in only one cup of milk, but that is not how we roll. Basically, roughly chop up the dried fruit and then cook it in milk with the poppy seeds and sugar until most of the liquid is gone. Then, add in the flavorings and keep cooking. It's ok if there's still a little liquid left at the end, because then you put this in the fridge to cool and forget about it for about a day, and the liquid will be gone by the time you remember.

I liked Shiksa in the Kitchen's instructions for forming hamentashen, so I followed them, more or less, and then baked my cookies in a 350 degree oven for really not a very long time, maybe 15 minutes. They got brown on the bottom and corners, but stayed soft and not-crunchy. And were delicious. Really. Everyone said so.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I cook food

Well, that experiment in consistent blogging didn't last long, did it? I've been sitting on a bunch of food pictures, from CSA weeks 1 and 2, with no good reason not to post them, except that it seemed daunting with no apparent cause. Well, actually, I know the cause. The pictures are all on my phone and Phredward's camera. Now that my phone pics are syncing automatically to Google+, it should be easier to get them. Phredward's pictures may be lost forever. Anyways, without further ado:

This is a crazy-amazing soba noodle salad that I made with the last of Week 1's mizuna, radishes, and garlic scapes. I should point out that I discovered only recently that they are garlic scapes and not garlic scrapes. I don't know what a scape is.

Here is Week 2's haul:

The contents are:
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Red sail lettuce
  • Escarole
  • Radishes
  • Summer squash (4)
  • Summer spinach
  • Garlic scapes
  • Oregano
I swapped a head of butter lettuce for an extra summer spinach. I also managed to score a free half-gallon of whole milk, since I was on work-shift and a bunch of people didn't pick their milk orders up.

I sauteed the escarole and the radish greens with the garlic scapes, and cooked them with a can of white beans. It was more or less this recipe, but halved since I only had one head of escarole, plus I added lemon to cut through the bitterness a little. I turned the radishes into radish and parsley salad, of my own invention. Pretty much what it sounds like -- radishes, parsley, salt, pepper, lemon juice. This is what it all looked like as dinner.

I turned the spinach and some of the whole milk into this spinach souffle, but the pictures are on Phredward's camera, and therefore lost forever. I used more of the milk to make this amazing raspberry cake. It turns out, if you don't have a mixer, you can use a soup zuzzer. You can't say I'm not resourceful.

I cut up and froze the squashes, and we ate most of the red lettuce in some kind of boring salad at some point during the week. The romaine, sadly, did not get used.

Then I promptly left town for two weeks, skipping CSA Weeks 3 and 4. Ok, enough blogging for now. Next time, maybe I'll review some of the books I've been reading. Exciting, isn't it?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

"Those are the chemicals!!"

No code today. Instead, I spent the day at Hudson River Park, volunteering with my team as part of GoogleServe. (That link is from last year, since I guess this year's blog post isn't ready to be written yet.) We spent the morning seeking out and destroying mugworts, slaughtering them and their children, and piling their leafy corpses on wheelbarrows and in a dumpster.

Umm. Sorry. I think I got a little too caught up in the mugwort genocide narrative that I was spinning in my head all morning. The contents of my brain are sometimes strange. This shocks no one.

Anyways, we weeded all morning, and after lunch, planted some non-invasive plants to replace the ones we had torn up. Here's a picture of some of my teammates with a pile of mugworts.

But food is much more interesting. Here are the things I've made so far with the CSA vegetables:
This is soup. It looks pretty much like a bowl of soup. To make it, I chopped up two small onions and four red potatoes that had been sitting around the refrigerator for a while, and sauteed them in a little olive oil. Then, I dumped in most of a box of arugula, the radish greens from the CSA, and a few leaves of sage. I covered it all with water, salt, pepper, and let it cook until mushy. Then I zzuzzed it with my soup zzuzzer. It didn't taste like much of anything until I topped it with parmesan cheese, and then it tasted delicious.

This is exactly the chicken salad that I planned in my last blog post. Phredward broiled two chicken breasts in the oven, and we put them on a salad with buttercrunch and red sail lettuces, radishes, red pepper, green grapes, and sage blossoms. Honey-mustard dressing was made by mixing honey and mustard.

And finally, rhubarb-streusel muffins:
Now, here's the problem with me and baking. I don't like to measure things. Like, I'm fine with scooping flour by the half-cup measure, but when it comes down to the difference between a half and a quarter teaspoon, or 3/4 of a cup of sour cream versus a small container of greek yogurt.. I just can't bring myself to care. Phredward freaked out a little when he saw me measuring baking soda in the palm of my hand. "Those are the chemicals!!" he said, "They're what make it react properly!!"

Also, since I used greek yogurt instead of sour cream, when I got done mixing the wet and dry ingredients, the batter looked way too dry to me. It looked like a very sticky bread dough, and not anything like a muffin batter. I thought for sure I had forgotten something, like oil or a second egg, but no, the recipe really calls for what seems like too little wet ingredients. I added milk until it looked better to me -- probably about 3/4 of a cup.

The muffins turned out perfect.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

CSA Week #1

Check this out, an actual blog!! If you're reading this, you almost certainly know who I am, so I'll skip the introductions and jump into the content. Today was the first pickup day for the West Village CSA. Here's what we got:

  • One bunch radishes, with greens
  • One bunch rhubarb
  • One head Red Sail lettuce
  • One head Buttercrunch lettuce
  • One bunch Mizuna
  • Two bunches Suehlihung mustard greens
  • 6 garlic scrapes
  • One bunch sage with edible flowers
It actually should have been two Red Sail lettuces and only one bunch of mustard greens, but I swapped since I doubt we'll make it through the lettuce.

Here's a tentative plan for using it up:

I'm currently making a pot of potato soup, with the radish greens chopped into it, and the rest of a box of arugula I wanted to use up. It's experimental and I made it up, so who knows how it will turn out, but I'm hopeful that it will be good cold, too. Today is in the 60s and rainy, so it's a good soup day, but I know this is just a pause before the rest of No-Pants Summer, so I don't want to count on wanting hot soup.

Dinner tonight is going to be broiled chicken breasts on mixed lettuce salad, with red peppers, grapes, radishes, and sage flowers. Maybe red onion. I'm thinking honey-mustard dressing. Tomorrow or at some point later this week, I'm going to saute the mustard greens with the garlic scrapes. One more salad dinner will be needed to use up the lettuces. I'll probably dry most of the sage.

Then, for the mizuna and the radishes, I was thinking about making this soba noodle salad. And finally, rhubarb streusel muffins.

So far, this blog hasn't mentioned any of the things in the title (although I do plan to drink coffee while eating the muffins, of course), so here's a picture of Cookie for your enjoyment: