Friday, September 23, 2016

Millet Skillet Bread

The passing of the fall equinox and shortening days are reflected in the Fairmount Farmers Market's selection of winter vegetables, like these pretty delicata squash from Camas Swale Farm. But the fun of summer is not completely gone, and this Sunday the corner of Agate and 19th will anchor the Sunday Streets event from noon to 4 PM, with all manner of foot and cycle traffic and activities between Washbourne and Amazon Parks.

Roasted delicata squash is a favorite in our household, and turning on the oven inspired me to make a skillet bread, which inspired me to make a pot of chili. I had some leftover cooked millet, and the alliteration made it an obvious addition to my regular skillet corn bread. Searching the internet for inspiration uncovered this quinoa skillet bread from Heidi Swanson. As in this spider cake, her recipe includes cream poured into the center for a custardy core. I used half as much as she called for, and liked the effect, but you could use the full amount or leave it out entirely for a more traditional corn bread. Enjoy with some wintery roasted vegetables and soup or stew.

Millet Skillet Bread
adapted from 101 Cookbooks

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided use
1 cup (115 g) flour
3/4 cup (115 g) yellow cornmeal (coarse)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups cooked millet*
2 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 cups buttermilk (or 2 cups regular milk plus 1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar)
1/2 to 1 cup heavy cream (optional, but will give the bread a rich, creamy center)

1. Preheat the oven to 350F C degrees and place a rack in the top third. Place in a 10-inch oven-proof skillet such as a cast-iron pan.

2. In a large bowl stir together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and baking soda.

3. In a medium microwave safe bowl, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Stir in the cooked millet. Then beat in the eggs, salt and sugar. Finally, mix in the buttermilk.

4. Remove the hot skillet from the oven. Add the final tablespoon of butter to the pan and swirl to melt the butter and coat the pan.

5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until the batter comes together. Pour the batter into the heated skillet. If using, pour the heavy cream into the center of the batter and do not stir. 

6. Carefully place in the oven and bake for 45-60 minutes until the top becomes lightly browned and the center just set. Serve warm.

*To cook a pot of millet, combine 1 part millet to 2 parts water in a rice cooker and cook or in a pot and simmer until the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Roasted Eggplant and Pepper Pizza

The fall harvest is in full swing at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, including these beautiful speckled eggplants from Camas Swale Farm.

With the temperatures dropping, turning on the oven for pizza was appealing, and once I had it preheating, I thought I'd roast some toppings ahead.

Roasting the eggplant cubes gave them a wonderful caramelized exterior, while making them meltingly soft and creamy inside. They paired perfectly with melting chunks of feta and crunchy slices of pimento pepper. I can recommend this combination as a delicious harvest pizza pie.

Roasted Eggplant and Pepper Pizza

1 recipe of Jim Lahey's no-knead pizza dough (enough for four individual pizzas)
tomato sauce (preferably made with fresh rooms)
1 small eggplant per pizza
1 sweet red pepper per pizza
1/2 cup cubed feta cheese per pizza
fresh basil leaves for garnish

1. Prepare the pizza dough the evening before, according to Lahey's instructions. Combine 500 g flour, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon yeast, and 1 1/2 cups (350 g) water, and mix briefly in an electric mixer or by hand until combined into a ball. Cover and let stand for about 18 hours.

2. Cut the eggplant into 1 inch cubes. Toss the eggplant cubes with a sprinkle of kosher salt (about 1 teaspoon per eggplant) and leave in a colander to drain for about 15 minutes. Seed and slice the pepper. Cut the feta into 1/2 inch cubes.

3. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees and insert a pizza stone if you are using one. 

4. Squeeze the eggplant cubes in a clean dishcloth to remove released moisture and toss the pieces with a generous drizzle of olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet. Insert into the preheating oven and bake for about 20 minutes, flipping halfway through with a spatula, until the eggplant pieces are browned and soft. 

4. Meanwhile, divide the dough into four balls, flour them lightly, and shape them according to Lahey's instructions (or use a rolling pin to roll them out on a silicone mat). Sprinkle polenta on a baking sheet or pizza peel and place the pizza dough on top. If you like, you can prebake the crust for 5 minutes in the preheated oven to ensure an extra crispy pizza.

5. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce over the dough, distribute over the roasted eggplant pieces, the sliced red pepper, and then cubed feta.  Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes until the crust in browned and the cheese is bubbling. Top with fresh basil leaves and enjoy.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Honey Stewed Asian Pear Preserves

There is a nip in the air these days that is a reminder to put away some of the summer's produce for colder days. Camas Swale Farm has had some beautiful Asian pears, which inspired me to share this canning project from last fall. We've been enjoying these honey stewed Asian Pears all year long, drizzled over waffles and pancakes, and we're just about ready for a new batch.

For a recipe for preserving Asian pears I turned to Linda Ziedrich's The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and Other Sweet Preserves recommended by a trusted authority.

The recipe included quite a bit of lemon juice, because Asian pears are not very acidic, but the honey tempers the lemons'  sourness. The instructions worked beautifully, except that I ended up with 3 extra pints of quartered pears which required an additional half recipe of stewing liquid.

Diedrich suggests adding anise seeds, coriander seeds, or fresh ginger slices to the jars. I tried the fresh ginger. I liked it, but I thought it overpowered the pears a little and I think I will leave it out the next time.

Once all the pear peeling is complete, the actual preserving just involves a quick 5 minute stewing in the honey syrup without any of the anxiety about jams jelling, making this a great recipe for a beginning canner. And once you've processed your cans of stewed pears, you can enjoy your handiwork all winter long.

Linda Diedrich's Asian pears stewed in honey
makes about 6 pints

8.5 lb Asian pears (for me, this was 16 pears, which filled 9 pint jars when cut into quarters, requiring another half recipe of the stewing liquid)

1 1/4 cups (420 g) honey
3 1/4 cup water
grated zest of one lemon
1/2 cup (118 g) lemon juice (I used about 6 small lemons)
3/4 teaspoon anise seeds or coriander seeds or 6 slices of ginger (optional)

1. Peel and core the Asian pears, slice them in quarters. 

2. In a preserving pan, combine the honey, water, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring a bit to dissolve the honey.

3. Immediately drop the pear quarters into the hot syrup. Simmer the fruit for 5 minutes, skimming off any foam.

4. While the fruit simmers, divide the spices, if using them, among sterilized quart or pint mason jars.

5. After the fruit has simmer for 5 minutes, remove it from the syrup with a slotted spoon and add it to the jars. Pour the hot syrup over the fruit, leaving 1/2 inc headspace in each jar. Add lids and rings, and process the jars in a boiling-water bath— pints for 20 minutes, quarts for 25 minutes.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Padron Peppers and Paella

These days Camas Swale Farm has an impressive array of summer peppers, including these spicy padron peppers. A Spanish tapas specialty, also known as shishito peppers in Asian cuisine, they are famous for having variable levels of heat, making eating them a bit of  gamble. We had ours seared whole in olive oil with a sprinkle of sea salt, and they were all very spicy but with some reaching a scorching level of spiciness.

Seared Padron Pepper
Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Coat the bottom with olive oil and then add the whole patron peppers. Sear the peppers, rotating them with tongs, until they are charred and blistered. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve with a word of caution.

Seared patrons work well as an accompaniment to a fragrant pan of Spanish paella. Paella is a big, celebratory dish, but it can be quite simple if you plan ahead and make it the day after a grilled meal. Then you can grill extra tomatoes, peppers, and onions for a saucy base for the rice and extra sausage to nestle in among the shellfish. We made a big pan at the coast recently. I remembered to pack a box of Arborio rice, saffron, and a frozen pint of crab stock. We didn't have sausages or peas, but incorporated some bacon and grilled zucchini for a similar effect. If you don't have specific expectations, it can be a very forgiving dish to feed a crowd.

serves 6 to 8 
use this as a guide and tailor to your tastes and available ingredients

3 cups (500 g) Arborio or other short grain rice 

olive oil
1 large onion seared and chopped
4 large or 8 roma tomatoes, seared and chopped to make about 2 cups
4 peppers, sweet and mildly spicy, seared, seeded, and chopped
4 cups stock, preferably homemade from crab or shrimp shells, but could use chicken
4 sausages such as spicy chorizo, grilled and cut into  half-moon slices
2 pounds shellfish such as clams or mussels
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 large pinch saffron
red pepper to taste
salt to taste
fresh parsley for garnish

1. If you plan ahead, you could grill the tomatoes, peppers, onions, and sausages a day ahead. Or you could broil them before starting the rice, making sure they are nicely charred. Also ahead of time, desand the clams and debeard the mussels if necessary.

2. Choose a large, wide pan such as a paella pan that will hold all of the ingredients. Heat over medium heat and when the pan is hot, add a generous drizzle of olive oil to coat the bottom. Add the chopped onions and sauté to soften for a few minutes. Add the rice and sauté to coat with oil and toast a bit. When the rice kernels become more whitish, add the chopped tomatoes, peppers, stock, and saffron. Stir and then distribute the sausage slices over the rice. Bring to a simmer, lower the heat to medium low, sample some of the rice broth and add salt and red pepper to taste. Allow the rice to simmer for about 20 minutes. Refrain from stirring if want to create a bottom crust or socarrat. Keep an eye on the liquid level and add drizzles of boiling water if it looks like it is getting too dry.

3. After 20 minutes of simmering, the rice should be partially cooked but still hard in the center, and the liquid level in the pan should be a little more soupy than you want the final dish. Now add the shellfish, nestling them into the rice with their hinge sides down. Cover the pan and let steam 5 minutes. Uncover and check on the shellfish, which should be mostly opened. Sprinkle over the peas, add a little more water if needed, recover, and steam for another 3 minutes. Uncover and taste the rice. It should taste firm and just a little undercooked (it will keep cooking off the heat). Add salt and pepper and cook a few more minutes if needed. Remove from the heat, sprinkle with fresh parsley, and serve.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Plum Torte

At last week's farmers market, Camas Swale Farm had these gorgeous purple plums, a welcome sight because I've been baking a lot of plum tortes from this New York Times classic recipe by Marian Burros.

The recipe starts with a standard cake batter of creamed butter and sugar. Then you pile on plum halves, sprinkle with a bit of sugar and an hour later you have the most perfectly moist cake infused with fragrant plum juices. You can serve it as a dessert or an afternoon teacake and with just a little bit of rationalization, as breakfast fare because of all the fruit. Be prepared to start baking your second one as soon as you cut into the first.

Marian Burros’s Plum Torte
¾ cup sugar
½ cup unsalted butter
1 cup unbleached flour, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
1 teaspoon baking powder
 Pinch of salt (optional)
2 eggs
24 halves pitted purple plums
Sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon for topping

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cream the sugar and butter in a bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and eggs and beat well. (I also added a teaspoon of vanilla extract at this point.)

3. Spoon the batter into a spring form of 8, 9 or 10 inches. Place the plum halves skin side up on top of the batter. Sprinkle lightly with sugar and lemon juice, depending on the sweetness of the fruit. Sprinkle with (about) 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, depending on how much you like cinnamon. (I just used a teaspoon of raw sugar and no lemon juice or cinnamon).

4. Bake one hour, approximately, until the top is brown and a fork come out of the cake clean. Remove and cool; refrigerate or freeze if desired. Or cool to lukewarm and serve plain or with whipped cream.

5. To serve a torte that was frozen, defrost and reheat it briefly at 300 degrees.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Creamy Kohlrabi Slaw

Don't let the heat deter you from shopping at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, because the best antidote to hot weather is deliciously flavorful produce that requires no cooking. A case in point is this lovely kohlrabi from Camas Swale Farm. I love kohlrabi grilled or cooked in a curry, but it is also deliciously refreshing raw in a slaw. I salted it first to release some of the moisture, and then tucked it in a creamy dressing full of tarragon and chives. This was a great addition to a cold dinner of salads and smoked fish, a meal we'll be repeating until the temperatures drop low enough to imagine turning back on the stove.

Creamy Kohlrabi Slaw
4 kohlrabi
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup sour cream or creme fraiche
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp chopped fresh chives and tarragon (or experiment with other fresh herbs)

Trim the kohlrabi generously to remove any woody exterior, slice thinly and cut the slices into julienne. Toss the kohlrabi in the salt and leave in a strainer over a bowl for about 15 minutes to drain out the moisture. Meanwhile, mix together all the remaining ingredients in your serving bowl (if you like, save a few chives for garnish). Once a few tablespoons of moisture have been released from the kohlrabi, squeeze it to release additional moisture and then fold it into the creamy dressing. Garnish with reserved chives. Serve immediately or chill to serve later. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Roasted Pepper and Onion Toasts

Sweet peppers and onions don't get much prettier than these varieties from Camas Swale Farm at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market.

These long, red specimens seemed made for each other. My son has recently discovered that roasted red peppers are basically parent sanctioned candy, so they've been making a regular appearance at our dinner table.

A handy tool for deseeding and deveining these narrow peppers is one that might just be lurking in your cutlery drawer, threatening sleepy cereal eaters: the grapefruit spoon.

I roasted them together in the toaster oven (too hot to turn on the real oven these days) with a lot of olive oil and a few sprigs of marjoram.

We ate the resulting caramelized goodness simply piled on slices of toasted baguette. On a hot day, these toasts plus some cold gazpacho makes a perfect dinner.

Roasted Pepper and Onion Toasts
4-8 sweet peppers
1-2 onions
olive oil
several springs of marjoram or thyme
sliced bread

Seed and slice the peppers into 1 inch strips. Peel and slice the onions into eighths. Preheat a toaster oven to 450 degrees. Toss the vegetables in several slugs of olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and roast in a toasting oven pan with the sprigs of herbs, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes, until caramelized and slightly charred. Transfer the caramelized vegetables to a bowl. Rub the bread slices in the remaining oil in the pan, flip and drizzle on a little more olive oil if desired. Toast until lightly brown on the edges. Pile the caramelized peppers and onions onto the toast and serve.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Miso-Glazed Eggplant

This week Fair Valley Farm will be at the Fairmount Farmers Market with their pastured meat, along with gorgeous fresh produce of Camas Swale Farm and lovely flowers from Tiger Lily Art Company.

Our favorite eggplant recipe these days comes from the Lucky Peach 101 Easy Asian Recipes cookbook and it's dead easy. Halve eggplants (Japanese or otherwise), bake them a bit (and you can do this in a toaster oven if it feels too hot to turn on your real oven), then slather with a miso and mirin paste and bake some more. This makes a substantial vegetarian entree, and is also a nice accompaniment to other Japanese-inspired dishes. With some Fair Valley Farm boneless pork chops, we made Melissa Clark's recipe for breaded and fried tonkatsu, which she points out is essentially the same and German weiner schnitzel, a dish of my youth. To round out the meal we had crunchy quick pickles (tsukemono) and sweet and sour zucchini.

Miso-Glazed Eggplant

4 Japanese eggplants or 2 regular eggplants, halved lengthwise
1 Tbsp neutral oil
1/4 cup red miso
2 Tbsp mirin
sesame seeds

1. Heat the oven (or toaster oven) to 450 degrees. 

2. Slick the eggplant halves all over with oil and arrange them cut side up on a baking sheet. Roast for 10-15 minutes until they are just wilted, a very light roast. 

3. Meanwhile, whisk together the miso and miring in a small bowl.

4. Smear the cut side of the eggplants with the miso mixture and roast until the eggplants are tender and the miso is browned and bubbling, about 10 minutes longer. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Zucchini Flatbread

We are at the height of summer, the time when stacks of summer squash can not be avoided. I recommend that you hide from your neighbors wielding baseball bat sized zucchini they hope to pawn off on you, and instead pick up some diminutive ones from Camas Swale Farm at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market.

My favorite zucchini recipe this summer is for these Turkish zucchini flatbreads, or Kabuki Lahmacun, from Rebecca Seal's Istanbul: Recipes from the Heart of Turkey

You peel the zucchini with a vegetable peeler, salt them to release some of their moisture, toss them with sliced scallions or shallots and Aleppo pepper, and then bake them with feta cheese. A perfect summer meal. 

Zucchini Flatbread (Courgette Lahmacun)
makes 4 flatbreads

1 recipe of Jim Lahey's no-knead pizza dough
Polenta or cornmeal for baking

For the toppings
4 small zucchini
1 tsp kosher salt
4 scallions or 2 shallots, sliced into thin slices
1 Tbsp mild chill flakes such as Aleppo (or to taste)
4 Tbsp olive oil
300 g (2 cups) crumbled feta

1. Prepare the dough the evening before. 

2. When you are ready to start making the flatbreads, preheat the oven to 500 degrees. 

3. Use a vegetable peeler or mandolin to shave the zucchini from top to bottom into thin slices. Toss with salt and allow to drain in a colander.

4. Divide the dough into four balls and working on a floured surface, stretch or roll each into approximate circles. Transfer to baking sheets dusted with polenta.

5. Squeeze out the liquid from the zucchini slices and toss with the scallion or shallot, Allepo pepper, and olive oil. Working in batches, spread a quarter of the zucchini mixture onto a dough circle on a baking sheet and top with a quarter of the feta cheese. 

6. Bake for about 10 minutes until the dough is crisp and the feta is slightly browned. Repeat for the remaining dough circles. Serve immediately. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Beet Green and Wheat Berry Bowl

One of the nicest things about really fresh farm vegetables is that when you buy a bunch of root vegetables like beets or turnips, you get a bundle of fresh greens in the bargain. So when you visit the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market this Sunday morning, be sure to buy a bunch of Camas Swale Farm root vegetables and then rush home and make yourself a bowl of sautéed greens for lunch. 

I made this bowl with wheat berries that I'd cooked ahead in my trusty rice cooker. For many years I had held out on getting a rice cooker as an unnecessary kitchen gadget, but I've discovered that it's immensely handy for cooking all sorts of whole grains without any babysitting. You can set it up before leaving for work in the morning or taking a stroll to the farmers market, and return to a perfectly cooked pot of grains. For these I sautéed the beet greens with a couple of scallions and a sweet pepper, along with splashes of soy sauce and mirin, and topped it off with a fried egg for a delicious post market lunch.

Beet Green and Wheat Berry Bowls
serves two
1 bunch beet greens
2 large scallions or a shallot
1 small sweet pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp mirin or rice wine
1 cup cooked wheat berries or another hearty grain
salt to taste
2 eggs
hot sauce such as Sriracha for serving

1. Ahead of time, cook the wheat berries in a rice cooker or on the stove top.

2. Rinse and chop the beet greens into 1 inch strips. Dice the scallions and pepper. 

3. Warm a skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and then the scallions and peppers and cook for a few minutes until glassy. Add the beet greens and saute for about three minutes until they have started to soften. Add the cooked wheat berries and stir to warm and coat in the oil. Add the soy sauce and mirin and allow to cook down. Taste and add salt as needed. Remove from the heat.

4. While the greens are cooking, heat a small skillet on another burner. Add a drizzle of olive oil and then crack in two eggs. Cook over medium low heat until the yokes are the desired firmness.

5. Divide the beet greens and wheat berries into two bowls. Top each with a fried egg and serve with a hot sauce like Sriracha. Enjoy.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Salt Crusted Potatoes and Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

The Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market will be back at its regular location this Sunday in the Sun Automotive lot on the corner of Agate Street and 19th Avenue. Last week's colorful selection of sweet peppers, tomatoes, and tomatillos from Camas Swale Farm was perfect for a fajita feast.

Also tucked under the table was a lovely selection of freshly harvested potatoes, which inspired me to try this salt crusted potato recipe from food52's Genius Recipes.

These are simmered in a shallow pan with plenty of salt until all the water cooks away, leaving tender, salt-coated tubers that are a tasty alternative to chips for dipping in salsa. 

For these potatoes, I made my favorite roasted tomatillo salsa from Rick Bayless. Meanwhile, my husband seared up some Camas Swale Farm peppers and onions and some marinated skirt steak from Fair Valley Farm for fajitas, and we had veritable feast.

Salt Crusted Potatoes
from José Pizarro’s Spanish Flavors, via food52 Genius Recipes 

2 1/4 pounds evenly sized waxy new potatoes, such as fingerling, scrubbed but unpeeled
2 Tbsp sea salt
1 quart cold water

Put the potatoes into a wide, shallow pan in which they fit in a single layer. Add 2 tablespoons salt and 1 quart cold water (just enough to cover), bring to a boil, and leave to boil rapidly until the water has evaporated. Test one of the largest potatoes with the tip of a paring knife, and if it’s still hard, add a little more water to the pan and cook off. Once the water is evaporated and the potatoes are cooked through, turn the heat to low and continue to cook for a few minutes, gently turning the potatoes over occasionally, until they are dry and the skins are wrinkled and covered in a thin crust of salt.

Pile the hot potatoes onto a plate and serve with the tomatillo salsa, instructing your guests to rub off as much salt from the potatoes as they wish before dipping them in the sauce.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
8-10 tomatillos
1-2 cloves garlic
1 chipotle chile in adobe sauce 

To roast the tomatillos, you will want to use a cast iron or nonstick skillet, or to avoid a messy cleanup, you can line a regular skillet with foil. Heat the skillet over medium high heat, and place in the unpeeled garlic cloves. Meanwhile, remove the husks from the tomatillos, rinse them, and cut them in half. Turn the garlic cloves and cook until they are charred on both sides. Remove from the pan, and when cooled enough to handle, remove the peels. Place the tomatillo halves into the hot pan, cut side down, and allow to cook until they are well charred and start to soften and collapse, turning more yellow. Flip them over and cook them for a few minutes on the other side. Transfer the charred tomatillos, including all the charred bits from the bottom of the pan, and the garlic, to a blender jar (or a quart sized mason jar on which you can fit the blender blade and base). Add the chipotle pepper in adobe sauce and a generous pinch of salt (you can freeze the remaining chiles from the can on a saran wrap-lined baking sheet, each with a dollop of adobe sauce, and then transfer to a freezer bag when hardened). Blend all the salsa ingredients until smooth. Taste and add more salt if needed. You could mix in chopped cilantro and diced white onions if you like. Serve with the potatoes and use the remaining salas over tacos, with chips, or thinned with stock for an enchilada sauce.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Crimson Carrot Pad Thai

For the last day of the Olympic Track and Field Trials, the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market will again be in front of the bike store next to Sweet Life along 19th Ave. Stop by for fresh produce from Camas Swale Farm and beautiful flower bouquets from Tiger Lily Art Company.

Last week, Camas Swale Farm had an eye catching selection of crimson carrots and arrowhead cabbages, perfect for a pan of Mark Bittman's pad Thai. You can use any combination of cabbage, root vegetables, peppers, leeks, and scallions for pad Thai, and lots of different proteins. This time I made the dish with baked tofu brushed with a bit of the pad Thai fish sauce, which gave it a firm bite and made the dish especially satisfying. And the purple carrots added a dramatic, colorful flare. 

Pad Thai with Arrowhead Cabbage
adapted from Mark Bittman, serves four
1 package extra firm tofu
7 ounces wide rice stick noodles
I small or 1/2 large head cabbage, such as arrowhead
3 carrots
1 bunch scallions
1 clove garlic
2 eggs
neutral oil such as canola

for the sauce
3 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp tamarind paste
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp rice vinegar
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

for garnish
roasted peanuts
cilantro leaves
lime (or lemon in a pinch)
sliced cucumbers
hot sauce such as sambal oelek

1. If you have a chance, slice the tofu into 1/2 inch slices, freeze, and thaw. This will remove the excess moisture (I keep a package of sliced tofu in the freezer at all times). Otherwise, slice the tofu and press to drain. 

2. Mix together the fish sauce, tamarind paste, and honey for the sauce. Use a little of this mixture to brush on the tofu slices. Bake the tofu in a 400 degrees oven (a toaster oven works well for this) for about 25 minutes, flipping once during the process. When the tofu is firm and slightly browned, transfer to a cutting board and cut into 1/2 inch cubes.

3. While the tofu is baking, soak the rice stick noodles in a bowl with boiling water for about 20 minutes until soft but not mushy. Drain and toss with a little oil to prevent the noodles from sticking.

4. Prepare the vegetables. Remove any torn outer leaves of the cabbage, cut into quarters lengthwise, cut out the core, and chop into 1/4 inch strips. Rinse and slice the carrots into thin ovals. Rinse and slice the scallions into 1/4 inch rings. Mince the garlic.

3. Finish the sauce by stirring in the vinegar and red pepper flakes. Whisk two eggs in a bowl.

4. Once you have all your ingredients prepared and in easy reach, start cooking the pad thai. Over high heat, place a large wok or skillet that will be able to hold all of the ingredients. When hot, add approximately 3 Tbsp oil. Add the carrots and cook for two minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and scallions and cook one more minute, stirring. Add the cabbage and cook until it is seared and softened. Toss in the baked tofu cubes and stir for one more minute. Push the contents to the side of the pan and pour in the beaten eggs. Allow to set slightly and then flip and toss into the stir fry. Now add the drained noodles and pour over the sauce. Toss together and cook for a minute until the noodles are hot. Remove from heat.

5. Serve the pad Thai topped with peanuts, cilantro, cucumber slices, a squeeze of lime juice, and your favorite hot sauce.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Grilled Summer Vegetables for the Fourth of July

For the next two weekends, the corner of 19th and Agate will be bustling with would-be Olympians, but don't let that keep you away from the Sunday Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market. Rather than its usual location in the Sun Automotive Lot, look for it across the street in front of the bike shop next to Sweet Life Patisserie. This Sunday you will be able to find lots of glorious summer produce, including a plethora of berries, from Camas Swale Farm, pastured meats from Fair Valley Farm, and fresh cut flowers from Tiger Lily Art Company.

Plan to stock up on plenty of summer vegetables -- cherry tomatoes, summer squash, eggplant, onions -- to grill for the Fourth of July. And if you are grilling vegetables, be sure to make a lot more than you need for one meal, because they are a great start toward many additional meals. 

I like using grilled vegetables to top grain salads or pesto pasta, and they are great for transforming a plain margarita pizza into a summer vegetable feast. So grill on the fourth and keep celebrating throughout the week.

Grilled Vegetable Pizza
1 recipe of Jim Lahey's no-knead pizza dough
tomato sauce (preferably made with fresh romas)
grilled vegetables such as onions, summer squash, eggplant, and corn on the cob
fresh mozzarella balls, sliced
handful of basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees and insert a pizza stone if you are using one. Chop the grilled vegetables into bite sized pieces and cut the corn kernels from the cob. Divide the dough into four balls, flour them lightly, and shape them according to Lahey's instructions (or use a rolling pin to roll them out on a silicone mat). Sprinkle polenta on a baking sheet or pizza peel and place the pizza dough on top. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce over the dough, distribute over the grilled vegetables, and then sliced mozzarella.  Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes until the crust in browned and the cheese is bubbling. Top with fresh basil leaves and enjoy.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Stir-Fried Garlic Scapes with Bacon

At this Sunday's Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, be sure to snatch up some of the spring's fleeting treats, including Tiger Lily Art Company's springtime blossoms and Camas Swale Farm's garlic scapes.

Garlic scapes or whistles are the garlic plant stalks that are harvested to direct the plants' growth into the bulbs. They have a very mild garlic flavor and are delicious roasted on a sheet pan with zucchini or grilled and incorporated into salsa. For inspiration for last week's bunch, I turned to 
Fuchsia Dunlop's Every Grain of Rice, which had a recipe for stir-fried garlic stems with bacon (she also has a vegetarian version with mushrooms). I had fewer garlic stems than needed, so I added edamame beans, and I adjusted the recipe for fattier American-style bacon. The pairing of smoky bacon with sweet garlic scapes was a delicious addition to a post-market feast. 

Stir-Fried Garlic Scapes with Bacon
adapted from Fuchsia Dunlop's Every Grain of Rice
250 g garlic scapes (about 3 bunches), or substitute in some edamame beans
3 thin slices of bacon
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil

1. Trim off the blossom tips and any fibers bases of the garlic scapes and cut into 1 1/2 inch lengths. Cut the bacon crosswise into thin strips. If using frozen edamame beans, cook them in salted boiling water for about 4 minutes and drain.

2. Heat a skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add the bacon slices and cook until they are crisped and the fat is rendered. Remove the bacon to a bowl and pour off all but 2 Tbsp of the rendered bacon fat. 

3. Return the skillet to medium heat and add the garlic scapes. Stir-fry until they are just tender and started to wrinkle. Add the edamame beans if using, soy sauce, and reserved bacon and stir to mix. Taste and add salt if desired. Remove from the heat, stir in the sesame oil, and serve.