Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sesame Salmon with Cherry Salsa

Next Sunday Fairmount Market customers can look forward to the arrival of The Salmon People offering wild, sustainably harvested Alaskan salmon. Market regulars from last year will remember Linda Castleman's delicious fresh and smoked salmon offerings.

In anticipation of this year's salmon harvest, I tried out a food52 recipe for sesame encrusted salmonpaired with a cherry and basil salsa with ingredients from SLO Farm and Songbird Farm.

Salmon goes well with almost anything, but is especially nice with fruit. A plum and herb salsa would also be delicious (look forward to SLO Farm's plums in the coming weeks). This salmon recipe was easy to prepare. You coat the fish with sesame seeds and sear it, flesh side down, until the seeds are golden and toasted. Then finish it skin side down with some red wine that cooks into a tasty sauce. Serve with boiled new potatoes, and enjoy the remaining bottle of wine. 

Sesame Encrusted Salmon with Cherry Salsa

for the salsa
1 large handful cherries, pitted
3 basil branches
salt and freshly ground pepper

for the salmon
1 lb salmon fillet
1/8 cup sesame seeds
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup light red wine, such as a Pinot Noir
salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Prepare the salsa. Pit the cherries and put in a food processor or mini-chopper with the washed basil leaves. Pulse to chop into a coarse salsa. Remove to a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and let sit so that the flavors meld while you prepare the salmon.

2. Salt and pepper the salmon fillet. Coat the flesh side with sesame seeds, pressing them down.

3. Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add the olive oil. Place the salmon fillet flesh side down so that the sesame seeds will sear into the flesh. Cook for about 7 minutes. Flip so that the skin side is down. Pour over the red wine. Cook the salmon for another couple of minutes and remove to a serving platter when the flesh is still pink in the interior. 

4. Simmer the wine and reduce by half. Pour the wine sauce over the salmon fillet and top with the cherry salsa.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Strawberries on Sunday

While the rest of the country is sweltering, we can look forward to a balmy weekend, and a bounty of fresh produce and local grains at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market. SLO Farm will be selling the following items:

green beans
fresh garlic
green cabbage
flat-leaf parsley
lettuce mix

(great ingredients for potato and bean salads, green saladsstir fries, and pesto)


(think waffles, or toss strawberries in a salad with greens, apples, crumbled goat cheese, and a honey vinaigrette).

If you want to enjoy sunshine and local food this weekend, think about visiting the Bite of Eugene at Alton Baker Park on Saturday to support  the Willamette Farm and Food Coalition. And be sure to visit the Fairmount Farmers Market on Sunday.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Gluten-free Waffles

In anticipation of a house guest on a gluten-free diet, I had stocked up on some wheat alternatives from Camas Country Mill: buckwheat and teff flour. It's important to note that because these grains were processed in a mill that also processes wheat, they are not suitable for someone with a severe gluten intolerance. For local grain enthusiasts in need of strict gluten-free grains, the Willamette Seed and Grain Project in Tangent is planning a gluten-free mill. Last weekend I experimented with gluten-free waffles.

Waffles are a favorite weekend breakfast in our household (doesn't everyone have a Belgium waffle maker, since it lies at the perfect sweet spot in the wedding gift spectrum between too stingy and too extravagant?). Lately I've been feeling a little bored with the standard white flour variety. These teff and buckwheat variants are still light and airy, but with a much more distinctive flavor.

With the heft from the teff and hint of sourness from the buckwheat, these waffles are a delicious receptacle for sweet fresh fruit, such as berries and diced peaches. We had recently gone strawberry picking at Evonuk’s on Seavey Loop, but gotten sidetracked with a picnic at Mount Pisgah, and by the time we got home, most of the strawberries were half baked. To salvage the mushiest, we pureed them in the blender and frozen the strawberry sauce in small ziplock bags, which proved to be a perfect aliquot for drizzling on waffles, along with a splash of maple syrup. We'll definitely be making these waffles again, even without the excuse of a gluten-free guest.

Gluten-free Waffles

1 3/4 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, separated
2 Tbsp neutral oil, such as grape seed
1 cup teff flour
3/4 cup buckwheat flour
1 Tbsp brown sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 pinch salt
butter for the waffle iron
Fresh fruit and maple syrup for serving

1. Mix together the buttermilk, egg yokes, and oil.

2. In a separate bowl, mix together the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

3. Beat the egg whites into stiff peeks.

4. Gently mix the dry ingredients into the wet. Fold in the egg whites.

5. Heat a waffle iron and grease with a little butter. Ladle in batter and cook waffle.  Serve warm with fresh fruit and maple syrup. Makes about 5 waffles.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Rain Cancellation

The Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market was cancelled today due to rain. Think sunny thoughts for next Sunday!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Crunchy Rice Noodle Salad

Next Sunday, July 17, SLO Farm will have the following offerings at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market:

Green Cabbage
Snap Peas
Flat Leaf Parsley

Fresh garlic

Crunchy snap peas and cucumber are the perfect accompaniment to an Asian rice noodle salad. We had barbecued a flank steak over the weekend and the leftovers made a delicious second appearance seared in a sweet chile paste and layered on dressed rice noodles, in a loose adaptation of a recipe from Cooking Light magazine. Then we passed around vegetables, herbs, and peanuts, and everyone composed their salad as desired. I recommend a 1:1 ratio of greens to noodles.

Rice Noodle Salad with Seared Beef, Snap Peas, Cucumbers, and Herbs

Dressed noodles
8 ounces dried rice stick noodles
1/2 cup water 

3 Tbsp granulated sugar 

3 Tbsp rice vinegar 

2 Tbsps fresh lime juice 

1 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce 

3/4 tsp Sriracha hot chile sauce

3 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced

Beef and toppings
3/4 lb flank steak
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp Sriracha hot chile sauce

1 tsp fish sauce
1 cucumber, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch match sticks
1/2 lb snap peas, stemmed

1 large handful basil leaves
1 bunch cilantro leaves

1. Put the rice noodles in bowl and cover with boiling water. Let soften for about 20 minutes, drain, and set aside.

2. Prepare the dressing by combining all of the remaining ingredients in a small sauce pan. Heat until the sugar is dissolved. Pour over the softened rice noodles.

3. Prepare the flank steak. Sprinkle both sides with a pinch of salt. Mix the brown sugar, chile sauce, and fish sauce into a paste and reserve. Heat a skillet, such as cast iron over medium high heat. Sear the steak on one side for about 6 minutes, then flip and sear on the second side for about 4 minutes, until cooked to about medium. Remove to a cutting board, coat with the chile paste on both sides, let rest for 10 minutes. Slice thinly against the grain, top the dressed rice noodles with beef slices and drizzle over juices from the carving. You can also use left over flank steak. In this case, slice the cooked flank steak, coat the slices with the brown sugar and chile paste, and sear them quickly in a hot skillet.

4. Serve the noodles and seared beef. Garnish with heaps of cucumber sticks, snap peas, and fresh herbs, and sprinkle with peanuts. Serves three to four.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Couple of Salads with Bietola Greens

The last couple of Sundays, SLO Farm  has offered these lovely greens called Bietola a Costa Fine. A delicacy of Tuscany, they are called a chard, although the plant actually belongs to the beet family. You could cook them like chard, for example in a tart, but they are also delicious raw. In fact, they are my new favorite salad green. They have the brightness and heartiness of spinach, but with a milder aftertaste. 

And they are much easier to deal with than a jumbled bunch of spinach. Simply wash them, shake them dry, and then stack the leaves and slices them into neat ribbons.

I first paired them with some of SLO Farm's delicious plump sugar snap peas

and tossed them in a lemony tahini dressing, as a vegan accompaniment to falafels. The next evening I swung the other direction with an carnivore-friendly salad of bietola leaves, apple slices, bacon bits, and scallions tamed in bacon drippings. Really you can't go wrong with these delicious greens.

Bietola Salad with Snap Peas and Lemony Tahini Dressing

1 bunch bietola
1 large handful sugar snap peas
A handful of chives or the green part of one scallion
1 lemon
1 tsp honey
1 Tbsp tahini paste
salt and pepper to taste

1. Rinse the bietola leaves. Lay flat and slice the leaves in ¼ inch strips perpendicular to the stem. Rinse and stem the sugar snap peas and chop into ½ inch pieces.

2. Prepare the dressing in a food processor or mini chopper. Combine zest and juice from the lemon with the remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning.

3. Toss the bietola leaves and snap peas in the dressing to coat. Serves 4 as a side salad or you could serve as 2 entrée salads topped with falafel balls.

Bietola Salad with Apples, Scallions, and Bacon

1 bunch bietola
1 crunchy apple
1 large or two normal sized scallions
2 slices of bacon
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1 Tbsp neutral oil such as grape seed

1. Rinse the bietola leaves. Lay flat and slice the leaves in ¼ inch strips perpendicular to the stem. Core and cut the apple into thin slices. Place in a salad bowl.

2. Whisk together the vinegar, oil, and pepper, pour over the bietola and apples and toss to coat. 

3. Cook the bacon until crisp and drain on a paper towel. Cut the white and pale green part of the scallions into thin disks and cook briefly in the bacon fat. Scoop the scallions onto the bietola and apples, along with a little of the bacon drippings (you made a very lean dressing). Crumble over the bacon. Toss and serve. Serves 4 as a side salad or you could serve as 2 entrée salads topped with a poached egg.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Falafel and Grilled Zucchini

Last Sunday SLO Farm had these delicate baby zucchini, a sure sign that summer is finally here. These tender squash are delicious halved lengthwise and grilled, and they made a perfect accompaniment to falafel, prepared with Hunton's Farm's chickpeas.

Falafel, it turns out, are not difficult to make. You simply soak the beans overnight,

dry them,

combine them in a food processor with mint, parsley, and scallions (Songbird Farm had some amazing giant and flavorful ones), breadcrumbs, and spices,

and process into a smooth green paste.

Then shape them into patties and fry them in hot oil (next time I'll use a cast iron skillet, because the grease stains were hard to get off my stainless steel pan). We ate them with grilled zucchini, grilled flatbread, cucumber yogurt sauce, and a delicious raw bietola and snap pea salad with tahini dressing.


2 cups dried chickpeas
2 huge or 4 standard sized scallions
1 bunch parsley
1 large handful mint leaves
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp baking soda
neutral oil, such as canola, for frying

1. Soak the chickpeas overnight in a generous amount of water, as they will double in size.

2. Drain the chickpeas and dry them on a kitchen towel in a pan that will contain renegade rollers. 

3. Rinse the scallions, remove the root ends, and put the remaining parts, including the green stems, into a food processor. Add in rinsed parsley and mint leaves and chop the greens coarsely. Add the chickpeas, breadcrumbs, and spices and process into a smooth paste. This takes a while, but have faith (and scrape down the sides occasionally). Taste and add more salt if needed. Refrigerate the dough for at least 15 minutes or several hours.

4. Shape the falafel. I made them with an ice cream scoop and then flattened them into patties, but next time I might make them smaller (soup spoon sized) to ensure that they cook through.

5. In a deep pan, such as a cast iron skillet, heat about a half inch of oil until very hot. Test by throwing in a small piece of dough, and if the oil bubbles around it and it browns up quickly, the oil is hot enough. Fry the falafel in batches. Let them cook for several minutes on each side until they form a deep brown crust all around. Then drain them on a paper towel.

6. Serve the falafel while still hot on grilled flatbread with grilled zucchini, a dollop of cucumber yogurt sauce, and a teaspoon of harissa if you have some.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Pesto Pasta with Fresh Roasted Garlic on the Side

At the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market this Sunday July 3, you can expect to find these produce items from SLO Farm and Songbird Farm:

sugar snap peas
green cabbage
lettuce mix

Out of our Coop will have fresh eggs and chickens (perfect for a 4th of July BBQ). There won't be any beans and grains from the Southern Willamette Valley Bean and Grain Project, but you can expect them back the following Sunday.

With our bounty of basil, parsley, and eggs last week, we made a delicious pasta. My daughter, as regular readers know, is an accomplished pasta maker, and this batch was a gorgeous yellow when made with fresh eggs. 

To go with the pesto, I roasted some cherry tomatoes, which brings out their best, even when they are not quite in their prime (Songbird Farm promises some ripe cherry tomatoes soon, which would obviate this step). Since I had the oven on, I threw in a quartered head of fresh garlic. This was my first experience cooking fresh garlic, and it was a revelation. The final roasted garlic (which required a few more minutes than the tomatoes) was mellow and sweet, milder than the dried variety. The lovely plump quarters offered a solution to my personal pet peeve about pesto, that it is often overpowered with raw garlic. The answer: roasted garlic as a condiment.

I prepared my pesto in its purest form: basil, parsley, toasted pine nuts and a glug of olive oil. When the pasta was ready, I tossed it in this brilliant green paste, along with the tomatoes and some diced feta cheese. And then I served it with freshly grated parmesan and a roasted garlic wedge on the side. This way, everyone could squeeze out their own pungent roasted garlic paste and slather it about at their discretion.

Pesto and Fresh Pasta

4 eggs
scan 3 cups flour
pinch of salt

1 large bunch of basil
1 small handful of parsley
1/3 cup pine nuts
~1/3 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 head fresh or dried garlic
~3 ounces feta cheese, diced
freshly grated parmesan cheese

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  In an oven proof pan, roll the cherry tomatoes around in a splash of olive oil until they are coated, and throw in a quartered head of garlic. Roast the tomatoes for about 30 minutes, until they are collapsed and fragrant. Transfer these to a bowl and keep roasting the garlic until its skin is quite brown and it is soft throughout, another 15 minutes or so.

2. Prepare the pasta dough in a food processor. Combine the ingredients and process until the dough just starts to come together into a ball. Use a little water or more flour to achieve the right consistency. Roll out the dough with a pasta maker and cut it into strip.

3. Toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet or toaster oven, and watch them like a hawk so that they don't burn (they are too expensive to waste! You could also use toasted almond wedges and a handful of walnuts). Reserve a tablespoon of pine nuts for garnish, and put the rest in a food processor. Pulse briefly. Add the basil and parsley leaves, a glug of olive oil (~1/3 cup), salt and pepper, and pulse to the desired consistency.

4. Cook the pasta in a large pot of rapidly boiling salted water for just a couple of minutes. Strain and stir the pasta into the pesto, fold in the tomatoes and feta, sprinkle over the reserved pine nuts, and serve with freshly grated parmesan and a roasted garlic wedge.