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.