Friday, August 11, 2017

Soba Noodles with Seared Scallions and Shishito Peppers

This Sunday at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market you will find fresh eggs and pastured chicken, beef, pork, and lamb from Fair Valley Farm and Fog Hollow Farm, as well as fresh cut flower bouquets from Tiger Lily Art Company. 

Camas Swale Farm will have lots of fresh produce: melons and watermelons, strawberries, garlic, salad greens, pardon peppers, carrots, and tomatoes, including heirloom, cherry, and paste (time to start stockpiling sauce for the winter).  

There are certain items one should pick up at the market regardless of your shopping list or menu plans. Our policy is to purchase padron peppers whenever available because they are always a special treat. Similar logic applies to Camas Swale's perfect melons, which don't require a recipe, beyond "eat." Less intuitive might be a bunch of scallions, although pretty purple ones like these are hard to resist.

Lately I've been making a habit of buying a big bunch of scallions and immediately cooking them down in oil into a couple of tablespoons of crisp, sweet, intense flavor. We first tasted these in Shanghai and then recaptured them with the help of Fuchsia Dunlop. It doesn't matter if you have a plan for these at the time, you will simply thank yourself later for having made them. This week we gobbled them up right away as a topping for some soba noodles along with some seared padron peppers, which are essentially the same as shishito peppers so I'm calling them by their Asian name for this dish

Soba Noodles with Seared Scallions and Shishito Peppers
serves four

seared scallions
1 large or 2 small bunched of scallions
1/4 cup neutral oil such as canola
Trim the roots off the scallions. Wack the whites with the side of a large chef's knife to split. Cut into 1 inch lengths. Heat the oil in a skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add the scallions and cook, stirring frequently. Keep cooking the scallions until they are quite browned, but avoid burning them. This will take patience and some nerve, but you will be rewarded with intense flavor. Transfer the scallions and oil to a small bowl.

seared peppers
1 pint padron or shishito peppers
2 Tbsp neutral oil such as canola
sea salt
In the same skillet or wok you used for the scallions, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the peppers and allow to sear until well browned and blistered on one side. Use tongs to flip and brown the second side. Remove to a bowl and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt.

300 g (3 circular packets) of soba noodles
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil

Cook the noodles in salted boiling water until barely cooked through (about 5 minutes). In the meantime, mix the soy sauce and sesame oil in a serving bowl. When the noodles are done, immediately rinse them under cold water and then toss them in the serving bowl. Serve the noodles and top with the seared scallions and scallion oil and the seared peppers. Enjoy.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Pork Chops with Deviled Chard Stems and Chard Gratin

This Sunday at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market there will be fresh eggs and pastured chicken, beef, pork, and lamb from Fair Valley Farm and Fog Hollow Farm. Also you'll find fresh cut flower bouquets from Tiger Lily Art Company and fresh produce from Camas Swale Farm including melons and watermelons, tomatoes, tomatillos (try this roasted salsa), padron peppers, summer squash, sweet onions, and fresh herbs.

Our family let out a collective squeal of delight last week when we saw the first of Camas Swale's harvest of padron pepper, or what my son refers to as "lucky, unlucky peppers." My husband and I love their intense flavor when seared and salted, and our kids love to watch us eat them, since their variable spiciness level makes each new specimen a gamble.

Along with our padron peppers, we purchased colorful chard, sumptuous heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, onions, and sweet cucumbers from Camas Swale, and some thick boneless pork chops from Fair Valley Farm. 

I love the combination of pork with mustard, so I decided to make a mustardy garnish for our seared pork chops of roasted deviled chard stems. With the chard leaves, I made a variation on this zucchini gratin, but with the addition of a cheesy breadcrumb topping. It all made for another delicious midsummer Sunday evening farmers market feast.

Pork Chops with Deviled Chard Stems
roasted deviled chard stems
Swiss chard stems sliced from 1 bunch of chard and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 small lemon
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 teaspoon honey
salt and pepper

seared and roasted pork chops
2 thick boneless pork chops
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

2. Peel the lemon with a vegetable peeler and cut into thin strips. Juice the lemon into a medium bowl. Whisk in the mustard, olive oil, and honey. Stir in the chard pieces and lemon peel. Season with a little salt (depending on the saltiness of your mustard) and plenty of black pepper. Transfer to a small baking dish or oven safe skillet. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the stems are fragrant and nicely browned on the edges.

3. Generously season the pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat until it is very hot. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil to coat the pan. Sear the pork chops at high temperature until nicely browned on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the pan to the oven and continue cooking for about five minutes until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees F. 

4. Allow the cooked pork chops to rest for about ten minutes. Serve topped with the deviled chard stems.

Zucchini and Chard Gratin
1 bunch chard leaves, cut into 1 inch strips
1 small onion, diced
1 Tbsp olive oil 
1 medium zucchini, grated
2 eggs
100 g (scan 1/2 cup) crème fraîche (which you can make yourself, or use sour cream)
120 ml (1/2 cup) milk
1 cup bread crumbs
100 g (3.5 ounces) grated gruyère or aged cheddar cheese 
salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On the stovetop, heat a pan over medium heat. Saute the diced onion in 1 Tbsp olive oil. When the onion is glassy, add the chard leaves. Cook the chard leaves for a couple of minutes until brightly colored but not yet wilted. Season with salt to taste and transfer to a 9x9 inch baking dish. Add the grated zucchini and mix.  

2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and then mix in the crème fraîche, milk, salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the chard and zucchini in the baking dish. Cover with bread crumbs and then with the grated cheese.

6. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes until the gratin is nicely browned.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Roasted Lemon Soy Chicken Legs

The Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market is excited to announce that Fair Valley Farm and Fog Hollow Farm have teamed up to bring you fresh eggs and pastured chicken, beef, pork, and lamb every week. Also at the market you'll find fresh cut flower bouquets from Tiger Lily Art Company and fresh produce from Camas Swale Farm including gorgeous heirloom tomatoes (make a pitcher of gazpacho for the hot days ahead), berries, honey and (new this week) melons.

In addition to whole chickens, Fog Hollow Farm offers parted breasts and legs. I purchased a package of legs last week, which I thawed for a few hours in a bowl of warm water and then tossed in a lemon and soy sauce marinade.

Dinner Sunday night was a delicious and easy Farmers Market feast of roasted chicken, kale chips (since the oven was on), fresh heirloom tomatoes and cucumbers and roasted onions with lemony pan juices over rice. 

Roasted Lemon Soy Chicken Legs
2 chicken legs (drumsticks and thighs, about 1.5 lb)
1 large lemon
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp coarse kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
1 large onion

1. Peel the lemon with a vegetable peeler and cut the peel into thin strips. Juice the lemon. In a glass bowl big enough to hold the chicken, combine the lemon juice and zest, soy sauce, olive oil, honey, garlic cloves, salt and pepper. Cut the chicken legs to separate the drumsticks from the thighs, add them to the bowl and coat them well with the marinade. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator at least 1 hour or overnight.

2. Preheat the oven to 425. Cut the onion into about 16 wedges and arrange on the bottom of a baking pan or pie dish. Arrange the chicken pieces, skin side up, on top of the onions, and drizzle over the marinade. Roast until the chicken is cooked through, basting occasionally with pan juices, about 35 minutes. The onions should char a little at the edges. 

3. Remove the chicken from the oven and let rest 10 minutes. Serve the chicken with the onions and pan juices.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Zucchini Poppy Seed Muffins

This Sunday at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, you can expect to find pastured meats (including parted out chicken) and eggs from new Market member, Fog Hollow Farmfresh cut flower bouquets from Tiger Lily Art Company and fresh produce from Camas Swale Farm including:

cherry tomatoes (make a cherry tomato clafouti)
carrots (riff on this salad with harissa and feta)
summer squashes (make the zucchini muffins below)
salad mix
cabbage (try some stuffed cabbage)

Recently I had a hankering for muffins and a sense of obligation to bake with zucchini. Paralleling the fecundity of summer squash plants, the internet is heavily ladden with zucchini bread recipes. I took inspiration from a couple recipes from Heidi Swanson and Melissa Clark to make these muffins. I incorporated poppy seeds and buckwheat flour into the batter for flavor, and I moved the walnuts to the top for crunch.

The resulting muffins were very tasty with just the right balance of indulgence and virtue, a perfect accompaniment to a midmorning cup of coffee.

Zucchini Poppy Seed Muffins
makes a dozen muffins

250 grams grated zucchini (1 medium), grated and mixed with 1/2 tsp salt
⅓ cup/80 grams coconut oil
½ cup/106 grams brown sugar
⅓ cup/80 grams plain yogurt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup/120 grams all-purpose flour
½ cup/60 grams buckwheat flour
⅓  cup poppy seeds
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

2 Tablespoons coconut oil melted for greasing pan and then
½ cup/55 grams chopped walnuts
2 Tablespoons brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt the coconut oil and use a little to brush into the cups of your muffin tin to grease.

2. Squeeze the liquid from the salted grated zucchini and place In a large bowl. Use a rubber spatula to mix together with the melted coconut oil, sugar, yogurt, eggs and vanilla extract.

3. Prepare the topping. Melt 2 more Tablespoons of coconut oil and combine with the chopped walnuts and sugar.

4. Whisk together the flours, poppy seeds, baking soda, baking powder, lemon zest and spices in a separate bowl. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. 

5. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tin. Sprinkle a little of the walnut mixture over each muffin.  Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. The muffins will be done when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Gado Gado and Chicken Satay

This Sunday at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, you can expect to find pastured meat and eggs from Fair Valley Farm, fresh cut flower bouquets from Tiger Lily Art Company, and fresh produce from Camas Swale Farm including:

strawberries (make some fresh fruit crepes)

last of the snap peas
beets (try this quinoa and beet salad with roasted kale)
potatoes (make some gado gado below)
summer squashes
onions (make this addictive cumin lamb with seared onions and Fair Valley Farm lamb)
salad mix
chard (why not bake a chard and bacon tart with Fair Valley Farm bacon)

When we were in Bali a few weeks ago, we took at cooking class at a restaurant in Ubud, Cafe Wayan, where we made (clockwise from top left) eggplant with sambal balado, chicken satay with peanut sauce, chicken curry in coconut milk, and a Balinese grilled fish salad.  

It all tasted wonderfully exotic, but in fact many of the ingredients were ones we have in our kitchen, and the flavors came from how they were combined, often in complex ground pastes, or cooked in unexpected ways. For example, the peanut sauce for the chicken satay, unlike our regular peanut sauce for noodles, was made by grinding fried peanuts with garlic and some tomato and then simmering in a pan with water. 

Last week we recreated this recipe at home, along with another Indonesia dish called gado gado, a composed salad of boiled and fresh vegetables that is also served with peanut sauce. We made a trip to Sunrise Market for small peanuts, kecap manis (a sweet soy sauce), palm sugar, and prawn crackers (little discs that puff up when fried and are traditionally served with gado gado).   

All the vegetables we sourced from the Fairmount Farmers Market, including fingerling potatoes, green beans, cabbage, cucumbers, and carrots. Almost anything could go into gado gado, so it is the perfect farmers market dish for any season, and once you've made a big batch of peanut sauce, the rest of the recipe scales easily for a crowd.

We served ours with hard boiled eggs and fried tempe, with chicken satay skewers on the side. It was a wonderful meal for reminiscing about our recent trip and my husband's family's years spent in Indonesia long ago.  

Gado Gado

peanut sauce (recipe follows)
lightly steamed cabbage leaves
boiled little potatoes
blanched green beans
fresh cucumbers and carrots
other steamed or fresh vegetables of your choice
hard boiled eggs
tempe or tofu, sliced into thin strips and fried
prawn crisps and sambal oelek for serving

Prepare all of the vegetables, the hard boiled eggs, and the fried tempe or tofu. Serve with peanut sauce, fried prawn crisps, and sambal oelek.

Peanut Sauce (Bumbu Kacang) 
from Cafe Wayan (for four servings of gado gado)
100 ml water
100 g small peanuts (often called Spanish peanuts)
canola oil as needed for frying the peanuts
1 slice tomato
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp palm sugar (or use white sugar)
a pinch of salt
1 Tbsp kecap manis (sweet soy sauce, or use regular soy sauce and 1 tsp sugar)
1 tsp tamarind paste or lime juice to taste

If using fresh, small peanuts, fry them in a small amount of canola oil until they harden and become fragrant. Drain on paper towels and season with a pinch of salt. Grind all of the ingredients together with a mortar and pestle or in a food processor. Place in a pan with 1/4 cup water and simmer over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking. Then add 1 Tbsp kecap manis and 1 tsp of tamarind paste. Combine, taste, and if needed add more salt, sugar, tamarind paste, or lime juice.

Chicken Satay (Sate Ayam)
from Cafe Wayan (serves four as an appetizer) 
1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch cubes
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp oil such as canola
3 Tbsp kecap manis (sweet soy sauce, or use regular 3 Tbsp soy sauce and 1 Tbsp sugar)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
mild chili
salt and pepper

Mix the ingredients thoroughly. It's best if you can marinate the chicken for several hours or up to a day. Thread the chicken cubes onto skewers and grill until cooked. Serve with peanut sauce.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Bibim Guksu with Summer Squash and Sesame Turnips

This Sunday at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, you will find fresh cut flower arrangements from Tiger Lily Art Company and lots of fresh produce from Camas Swale Farm including:

beets (cook in a hash with spinach or pack into foil bundles for the grill)
turnips (delicious cooked in brown butter or in the bibim gusko below)
radishes (try smashed in chili oil
summer squash and zucchini (make a gratin or stir fry for bibim gusko below)
sugar snap peas
kale (try kale Florentine for brunch)
cabbage (make some homemade kimchi for bibim guksu below)

Since recovering from a bout of food poisoning while traveling in Asia, I've had a strong craving for kimchi. Perhaps it's nostalgia for all the delicious Asian food we'd sampled, or a subliminal need for probiotic bacteria, but when I read this description of a cold Korean noodle dish bibim gusku (literally "mixed noodles") I immediately wanted to try it. One of my favorite dishes to cook for the family is bibim bap ("mixed rice"), and here was a summery version with similar flavors and formulation.

A little internet searching revealed that a more traditional version of bibim gusku would use thin white wheat noodles (Somyeon) and incorporate chopped kimchi into the sauce. I love the flavor of buckwheat soba noodles, so I used these, and I kept the kimchi separate to maintain one of the virtues of bibim family meals: everyone is happy when they can customize the spicing and toppings to their preference.

This dish lends itself to improvising with your Farmers Market finds. In a pan Asian mash up, I made a quick side of Fuchsia Dunlop's Chinese sweet and sour summer squash and gave julienned hot pink turnips a Japanese-inspired treatment after the kinpira gobo (stir fried burdock) from Elin England's Eating Close to Home. Served along with some crunchy sliced cucumbers and Gryffindor carrots, a boiled egg, and some briny kimchi, this was a perfect summer meal that will be a regular on our dinner rotation. 

Bibim Guksu
serves four
300 g (3 circular packets) of soba noodles
Cook in salted boiling water until barely cooked through (about 5 minutes), then immediately rinse under cold water until entirely cooled. Toss with a drizzle of sesame oil to help prevent the strands from congealing. 

2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp rice vinegar
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp honey
1 tsp Korean gochujang paste for a mild, kid-friendly sauce, or more as desired 
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
Mix together all the ingredients. Taste and adjust flavorings as desired.

sweet and sour summer squash
2 zucchini
2 Tbsp cooking oil
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp Chinkiang vinegar
Quarter the summer squash lengthwise, and slice thinly. Toss with 1/2 tsp salt, mix well and set aside for 30 minutes or so to sweat. When you are ready to cook, squeeze the slices to get rid of excess water. Heat a wok over a high flame. Add the oil, then the garlic, and stir-fry for a few seconds until you smell its fragrance. Add the squash and stir-fry until they are hot and just cooked, but still a little crisp. Add the sugar and vinegar, with salt to taste, stir a couple of times, then tip on to a dish and serve.

julienned sesame turnips with edamame beans
3 large or 4 small turnips, washed, topped, and tailed
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sweet mirin or rice wine plus a pinch of sugar
1/2 cup fresh or frozen edamame beans
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp sesame seeds
red pepper flakes to taste

Slice the turnips and cut the slices into matchsticks. Mix together the soy sauce and mirin. Heat a skillet or wok over high heat and add the oil. When it is hot, add the julienned turnips. Stir fry for a couple minutes until a few start to brown. Add the soy sauce mixture and the edamame beans and continue cooking over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has completely reduced to a glaze. Remove from heat, drizzle with sesame oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds and red pepper flakes.

additional toppings
4 eggs cooked for six minutes in boiling water and immediately cooled for jammy yokes
julienned carrots and cucumbers

Before serving, toss the noodles with the sauce (or leave the noodles undressed for very picky eaters), adding sauce a little at a time until the noodles seem lightly coated. Let people serve themselves their preferred toppings and mix the noodles with the toppings on their plates. 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Ginger Herb Tonic

This Sunday at the Fairmount Farmers Market you can find all your fixings for a Fourth of July feast, with pastured meat and eggs from Fair Valley Farm, fresh produce from Camas Swale Farm, and beautiful flowers from Tiger Lily Art Company.

For a refreshing beverage to sip, cold or hot, at a picnic or while tending the grill, here is a ginger and herb tonic I concocted. It's inspiration is both exotic (a ginger, lemongrass, and honey drink sipped on a recent trip to Bali), local (herbs from our garden and alley way), and practical (an antidote to travel-induced tummy travails). What started as a medicinal brew has turned into a culinary craze in the house with infinite possible variations incorporating other herbs, dandelion and other greens, and citrus. I've even been eying our newly planted lemongrass plant, but resolved to let it recover its strength first before harvesting its stalks for any restorative tonics. 

Ginger Herb Tonic
for one pot of tea
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup fresh fennel fronds
1 inch ginger root
honey to taste

Boil water for a pot of tea. Once it boils, let it sit for five minutes to cool slightly. Rinse the herbs and put them in a teapot. Coarsely chop the ginger root (no need to peel) and place in the pot. Fill the pot with the boiled water, cover the teapot, and allow to steep for at least 20 minutes or longer for a more intense flavor. You can add honey now or keep it out and let people sweeten each cup to their liking. Serve warm or chilled.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Green Pizza with Roasted Zucchini

Don't let the heat keep you away from the Fairmount Farmers Market this Sunday. From Camas Swale Farm, you'll find plenty of inspiration for salads and other cold meals. 

And once the heat breaks, you can try this springtime pizza. The green sauce takes inspiration from this recipe from Joe Beddia's Pizza Camp, and the zucchini are inspired by this roasted zucchini salad from Jacques Pepin.

The resulting pizza was a tasty celebration of spring produce and a nice change from our regular pizza Margherita.

Green Pizza with Roasted Zucchini
makes four individual pizzas

1 recipe of Jim Lahey's no-knead pizza dough (enough for four individual pizzas, started the evening before)
4 medium or 6 small zucchini
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 ball fresh mozzarella, sliced
1/2 cup grated pecorino romano

green sauce
1 bunch spinach, stems removed and rinsed well
1 handful chives
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt to taste

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. When you are ready to start the pizzas, preheat the oven to 500 degrees and insert a pizza stone if you are using one. Also put a rimmed baking sheet in for the zucchini.

3. Slice the zucchini into 1/4 inch discs. Toss in a bowl with a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil to coat. Slide onto the hot baking sheet in the preheating oven and spread into a single layer. Bake for about 5 minutes until starting to brown, the flip with a spatula and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, return to the bowl, toss with a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar, and reserve.

4. Prepare the green sauce by mixing all the ingredients in a food processor. Taste and add more salt, pepper flakes, or lemon juice as needed.

5. 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 one 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. Spread over a quarter of the green sauce in a thin layer. Top with a quarter of the roasted zucchini rounds, fresh mozzarella, and pecorino romano. Bake for at least ten minutes, until the crust is crisp and the cheese has started to brown. Prepare and bake the remaining pizzas. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a sprinkle of fresh chopped chives.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Chard and Chorizo Tacos

Tomorrow promises to be a sunny Fathers Day, so be sure to include a trip to the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market as part of your celebrations. You'll find fresh produce from Camas Swale Farm and lovely flowers for a deserving dad from Tiger Lily Art

Last Sunday Camas Swale had an eye catching selection of rainbow chard, which was the inspiration for these chard and chorizo tacos. The filling started with caramelized onions and chard stems, then diced chorizo for spice and flavor (you could also use chipotle peppers for a vegetarian version), then the chard greens just until soft, and then a spoonful of creme fraiche or sour cream for richness. Layer these on corn tortillas with rice and beans and top with roasted peppers, avocado, lettuce, or anything else that catches your fancy and adds crunch and color.

Chard and Chorizo Tacos
(serves four)
chard filling
1 bunch chard
1 large onion
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 chorizo pepper
1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
salt to taste

for the tacos
corn tortillas
cooked white beans
rice (optional)
avocado slices, roasted pepper slices, lettuce

1. Peel and chop the onion. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add the oil and when it starts to shimmer, add the onions. Cook the onions with a pinch of salt, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until they are soft and have started to brown.

2. While the onions are browning, rinse the chard leaves, trim off the tips of the stems, and then cut the remaining stems from the leaves. Slice the stems into 1/4 inch slices and reserve. Slice the leaves into 1/4 inch slices and reserve. When the onions have started to brown, add the chard stems and a pinch of salt and continue cooking. Cut the chorizo lengthwise into quarters and then slice widthwise into 1/4 inch pieces. After about 5 minutes, when the chard stems are soft, add the chorizo pieces and cook for another couple minutes. Then add the chard leaves and cook for a few minutes until the chard leaves have just started to soften. Remove from the heat and stir in the creme fraiche or sour cream. 

3. Serve the warmed tortillas topped with beans, (and rice if you like) and the chard mixture, and your choice of toppings. Enjoy.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Smoked Trout Spring Salad

Dark storm clouds may threaten, but don't let that deter you from visiting the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market tomorrow from 10 am - 2 pm. With last week's haul, we had a delicious spring salad with tender lettuce from Camas Swale Farm, bright orange eggs from Fair Valley Farm, and smoked trout. I was skeptical whether this would be a hit for dinner, but since one child likes eggs and the other decided he likes smoked trout, everyone was happy and they both suggested that we have this a lot during the summer.

Smoked Trout Spring Salad 
serves 4
1 head lettuce
16 small potatoes
2 handfuls green beans
4 hard boiled eggs
2 tins of smoked trout in olive oil

1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp honey
1/4 tsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
4 Tbsp olive oil

Wash and dry the lettuce and arrange on a large platter. Prepare the dressing by mixing together all the ingredients, tasting and adjusting to taste. Boil the potatoes in salted water until soft. Quarter and toss the warm potatoes with a tablespoon of dressing. Trim the beans and cook them in salted boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and toss with a tablespoon of dressing. Hard boil the eggs, immerse in cold water, peel, and quarter. Arrange the potatoes and green beans on the bed of lettuce. Drizzle over more dressing. Top with quartered hard boiled eggs and pieces of smoked trout, dust with freshly ground pepper, and drizzle over some of the olive oil from the trout tins. Serve with fresh bread.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Taiwanese Meat Ragu and Spring Vegetables

This Sunday is the first day of the eighth season of the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market. Be sure to be on the corner of 19th and Agate between 10 and 2 to pick up organic vegetables from Camas Swale Farm, pastured meats from Fair Valley Farm, and fresh flowers from Tiger Lily Art company.

For your market purchases, here is a recipe for a Taiwanese meat ragu served on rice with roasted and fresh spring vegetables. This is a take on the Taiwanese dish lu rou fan, inspired by recipes from here and here and here. My sister and I both have an irrational love for this dish, which we'll order at a hole in the wall Taiwanese restaurant when I visit her in Chicago. I wanted to make a version that had the same flavors, but would be as easy as a slow roasted Bolognese sauce. I decided to skip the blanched pork belly, but use a base of caramelized shallots for a deep, rich flavor. 

And while I had the oven on low for the ragu, I also roasted some spring radishes and some collard greens (this recipe without the chorizo), which made a delicious accompaniment to the dish, along with some crunchy fresh carrots and cucumbers, a handful of cilantro, and a jammy egg. If you get to the market at 10 on Sunday, you can be eating this for dinner Sunday evening.

Taiwanese Meat Ragu
(serves eight and freezes well)
6 Asian shallots, sliced
2 Tbsp canola oil
8 large dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated in 2 cups boiling water
1 lb ground pork
1 lb ground beef
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp of five spice powder
1/4 cup regular soy sauce
1/4 cup dark soy sauce 
1/4 cup sweet rice wine

1. Start rehydrating the shiitake mushrooms in 2 cups boiling water. Heat a large Dutch oven or other oven-safe pan over medium heat. Add the canola oil and then the shallots and cook until they are deeply caramelized. Don't be afraid to let them sit and sear between stirring. 

2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Chop the softened shiitake mushrooms and strain the rehydration water to remove any grit. 

3. Once the shallots are well caramelized, add the ground meat and cook through. Then add the garlic, brown sugar, and five spice powder and stir to dissolve. Then add the soy sauce, rice wine, and the reserved mushroom broth and bring to a simmer.

4. Cover the pot and transfer it to the oven. Cook for two to three hours, allowing the liquid to reduce, the meat to become extremely silky, and a rich, roasted flavor to develop. Check on it occasionally and add a little water if it dries out too quickly. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. 

5. While the oven is on, roast some radishes, collard greens, or other vegetables to serve with the dish. Prepare a jammy egg for each diner by submerging into a small pot of boiling water and simmering for exactly 6 minutes before running under cold water. Cook a pot of rice.

6. Serve the ragu over rice with roasted and fresh vegetables, a jammy egg, and hot sauce on the side. Enjoy. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Parsley Tahini and Crispy Chickpea Crostini

The Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market will start up in just over two weeks. Now that summer weather has finally arrived, everyone in our household is craving farm fresh fruits and vegetables. Even the dog has been grazing on grass during her walks and the cat has resumed his afternoon naps in the garden among the herbs.

Although these crostini were just made with grocery store ingredients, the tangy and bright green tahini spread topped with crunchy chickpeas fit the bill for a summery snack. They should help tide us over until the start of the market on June 4.

Parsley Tahini and Crispy Chickpea Crostini
parsley tahini spread 
1 large bunch Italian parsley
juice from one lemon
2 Tbsp tahini
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt to taste

crispy chickpeas
2 cup cooked chickpeas (or one 15 ounce can, drained and rinsed)
2 cloves garlic
peel from one lemon
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt to taste

1 baguette

1. Pluck and wash the parsley leaves and place them in the bowl of a food processor or blender, or you can use a wide mouthed pint sized mason jar with an immersion blender. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from a small lemon and reserve. Juice the lemon into the food processor. Add the tahini and olive oil and a generous pinch of salt. Process until smooth. Taste and add more salt, lemon juice, tahini, or olive oil to suit your taste.

2. Rinse and dry the chickpeas. Peel the garlic cloves and cut them into thin slices. Slice the reserved lemon peel strips into matchsticks. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add the oil and when it shimmers, add all of the remaining ingredients. Spread the chickpeas in a single layer and allow to fry over high heat, resisting the urge to stir very frequently so that they can crisp up. Cook until most of the chickpeas and garlic slices have acquired some deep color. Taste and add more salt to taste.

3. Slice the baguette into ovals and toast lightly. Spread with the parsley tahini sauce and top with the crispy chickpeas. Enjoy.