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.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Baby Turnip Pennies

Last week at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, my son picked out the cutest bunch of baby turnips from Camas Swale Farm. When trying to think of a pleasing turnip preparation for the eight and under crowd, I turned to Mollie Kaizen's children's cookbook classic Pretend Soup, source of our family's favorite popover recipe 

I remembered that Katzen had a recipe for carrot pennies, which I thought might work for baby turnips. On closer inspection, I realized this was a version of the Japanese cooking style of kinpira or sauté and simmer, as in this kinpira gobo, which  produces an addictive sweet and salty syrup coating for the vegetables. This preparation proved to be just the thing to make turnips fun to eat for all ages.

Baby Turnip Pennies
adapted from Mollie Katzen’s Pretend Soup

1 bunch baby turnips
2 Tbsp butter
juice from 1/2 lemon
2 tsp sesame seeds
1 Tbsp brown sugar
generous pinch of salt
1/4 cup water

Trim the tops and tails from rinsed baby turnips and slice them into thin rounds. Place a skillet over medium heat and melt the butter. Add the turnips and a pinch of salt and toss to coat. Add the lemon juice, sesame seeds, and brown sugar and saute until the turnips start to soften and brown. Add the water and allow to cook down to a syrup. Serve warm.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Fava Bean and Summer Squash Chickpea Flour Crepes

At last week's Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, Camas Swale Farm brought a bounty of spring vegetables, including delicate summer squash and fat fave beans.

Fava beans are best when shelled from their pods

and then released from their slightly bitter and tough skins. Peeling fave beans  is a true labor of love, and after all that investment of work they should be treated with reverence.

I decided to pair them with lightly sautéed summer squash and fresh herbs as topping for chickpea flour crepes as a stovetop version of farinata

The batter is simply chickpea flour and water with a bit of salt and olive oil. I found that I needed to keep my crepe pan quite hot and use plenty of olive oil to prevent the crepes from sticking, but once I mastered this, the crepes proved to be the perfect canvas for the fava beans, and a delicious post-market treat.

Chickpea Flour Crepes with Fava Beans and Summer Squash
makes about 4 crepes
Crepe batter
1 cup chickpea flour
1 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil for batter and more for cooking

Crepe toppings
handful of fave beans
1 or 3 small summer squash
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt to taste
aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes to taste
chopped fresh herbs such as chives and thyme

1. Whisk together the batter ingredients into smooth. Let rest for at least half an hour, or overnight in the refrigerator.

2. Prepare the fave beans. Boil a small pot of salted water. Remove the fave beans from the pods. Blanche the beans in the boiling water for 1 minute and then strain and run under cold water. For each blanched bean, use a paring knife to make a small incision in the outer skin and pop out the bean from the casing with your fingers.

3. Cut the summer squash into 1/4 inch thick half moons or other pieces. Heat a crepe pan or nonstick skillet over medium hight heat. Add one Tbsp olive oil, the summer squash, salt and aleppo or red pepper flakes to taste. Sauté until the summer squash has a bit of brown blistering on its surface but is not yet mushy. Transfer the squash to a bowl.

4. Return the crepe pan to medium high heat. Add a generous amount of olive oil. When the oil is shimmering, pour in about 1/2 cup crepe batter and tip the pan in a circular motion to spend out the batter. Allow the batter to cook until it darkens in color slightly. Then use a spatula to flit the crepe  and cook briefly on the second side. Cook the remaining crepes. 

5. Top the crepes with the sauteed summer squash and fave beans sprinkled with chopped fresh herbs.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Beet and Spinach Hash

Come one, come all to the opening of the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market Sunday June 5th from 10 AM - 2 PM on the corner of Agate St. and 19th Ave. While you are there, you can treat yourself to a pastry at Sweet Life Petite, or an iced tea latte at Oolong Bar, or brunch at Studio One Cafe or Agate Alley.

Alternatively, you could take your market treasures home and cook yourself a delicious spring hash with some root vegetables, onions, and greens from Camas Swale Farm and some fresh eggs from Fair Valley Farm. Hope to see you at the market tomorrow!

Beet and Spinach Hash
serves four
a dozen baby beets and 4 large beets
4 baby onions or 1 large onion
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 large handfuls spinach
salt and pepper to taste
4 eggs
Sriracha for serving

1. Rinse the beet and trim off their stems and tails (for baby ones, there is no need to peel them). Cut them into 1/2 inch pieces. Peel the onions and cut them into 1/2 inch pieces.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium low heat, add the olive oil and the onions and sauté for a couple of minutes until they are glassy. Add the beets, salt and pepper, and stir to coat in the oil. Turn the temperature to low, cover the pan, and allow to cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the beets are soft and the onions have caramelized. 

3.When the beets are close to done cooking, cook 4 fried eggs to order (runny, hard, over easy etc.).

4. Once the vegetables are nicely cooked, add the spinach and a pinch more salt and toss so that the spinach just starts to wilt. Remove from heat and distribute across four plates. Top with fried eggs and serve with a hot sauce like Sriracha.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Asparagus, Lemon, and White Bean Pasta

Just two more weeks until the start of the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market June 5th. With the recent drizzly weather, it might feel hard to believe that summer is almost here, but it provides the perfect excuse to cook up a pot of beans. And if you do, be sure to save the bean broth. This flavor-packed liquid has recently been elevated to cult status, redubbed aquafabaas a vegan substitute for egg whites. I've been independently obsessing about bean broth as the perfect medium in which to cook pasta, such as the iconic Italian dish of pasta con ceci, described here and here. This method of one pot cooking of pasta in a small volume of flavorful broth, like risotto, is apparently standard in Italy, and what we should all be doing now that water is becomes a scarcer resource.

For a spring version with delicate white beans, I riffed off Melissa Clark's delicious pasta with fried lemons, adding in asparagus. Bean broth plus the flavored water used to blanch the lemon wedges and asparagus served as the pasta cooking medium. The possibilities are endless, and well worth making room for tubs of bean broth in your freezer for quick, one pot, weeknight dinners. 

Asparagus, Lemon, and White Bean Pasta
serves four
2-3 lemons
1 bunch asparagus
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
pinch of sugar
1/4 tbsp red pepper flakes or to taste
1 1/2 cups cooked white beans

2 cups bean broth, salted to taste
2 cups salted water in which lemons and asparagus were blanched
8 ounces small pasta such as ditalini or elbow noodles
freshly grated parmesan cheese for serving 

1. Bring 4 cups of salted water to a boil. Trim the tops and bottoms off the lemons and cut lengthwise into quarters; remove seeds. Thinly slice the quarters crosswise into triangles. Blanch the lemon pieces in the boiling water for 2 minutes, then transfer with a slotted spoon to a dish towel. Blot dry.

2. Trim the asparagus and cut into 1 1/2 inch lengths. In the same water that you used for the lemons, blanch the asparagus for 4 minutes. Strain the asparagus and reserve the flavored blanching water.

3. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over high heat. Add the dried lemon pieces and season with a pinch each of salt and sugar. Cook until the lemons are caramelized and browned at the edges, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. 

4. Add another tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the asparagus for 2 minutes over medium high heat to char slightly. Transfer to the plate with the lemon wedges.

5. Add one more tablespoon of olive oil to the hot skillet and the chili flakes, and then the beans and toss briefly. Now add about two cups of bean broth, the pasta, and about two cups of the lemony blanching water, such that the pasta is submerged. Cook simmering, stirring occasionally to prevent the pasta from sticking, and adding more broth to keep the pasta submerged, until the pasta is just undercooked, about 12 minutes. Stir in the asparagus, lemon wedges, and a tablespoon of butter and cook one more minute. Avoid overcooking the pasta and make sure that the final dish has enough liquid to form a thick sauce. Serve with lots of freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Market Poster and Cumin Lamb from Lucky Peach

The start of the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market's seventh season is just three weeks away. Please spread the word by downloading the market poster here and distributing it widely. 

In return for this favor, I'd like to share an addictively delicious recipe for cumin lamb from the recent Lucky Peach 101 Easy Asian Recipes cookbook. The recipe calls for thinly sliced lamb, but we've been making it with ground lamb from market vender Fair Valley Farm and it's become a family favorite. Here I served it as a filling for lettuce wraps with these Sichuan green beans. For the lamb, you can dial back the amount of Sichuan peppercorns and chili flakes if serving spice-averse kids, but I recommend using all two tablespoons of cumin seeds, which may seem like a lot, but is perfect with the lamb and seared onion. Once you've tasted this, you'll want to keep a stash of Fair Valley Farm ground lamb in the freezer for when the craving strikes.

makes 2 to 4 servings

2 Tbsp cumin seeds
1 Tbsp Sichuan peppercorns (we use 1 tsp for kids)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2-1 tsp chili flakes (we use 1/4 tsp for kids)
1 lb boneless lamb leg, thinly sliced, or ground
2 Tbsp neutral oil
2 cups thinly sliced white or yellow onions
1 cup sliced scallions, whites and greens
1 Tbsp sliced garlic
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp Shoaling wine or dry sherry
1 cup roughly chopped cilantro

1. Toast the cumin seeds and peppercorns in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pulse in a spice grinder or grind with a mortal and pestle, not too finely. Mix with the salt and chili flakes.

2. Toss the spice mixture with the meat to coat.

3. Heat a very large skillet or wok over high heat. Add the oil, and when it emits wisps of smoke, add the onions and cook, tossing, until translucent and slightly charred. Transfer the onions to a bowl.

4. Add the lamb and any residual spices to the pan. Cook, tossing, until the meat begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the scallions, garlic, soy sauce, and wine, and bring to a brisk simmer. After about 2 to 3 minutes, when the lamb is just cooked through and coated in sauce, return the onions to the pan and toss everything together. Remove from the heat and top with the cilantro. Serve hot.