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 of 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.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Rosemary Shortbread for Spring

I'm happy to announce that the eighth season on the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market will start on Sunday June 4th from 10 AM to 2 PM on the corner of Agate St. and 19th Ave. Please mark your calendars and spread the word. 

Today's respite from the rain inspired some springtime baking in our household. When I asked my son what he wanted to bake, he said "something with flowers" and then, reflecting that the rosemary was flowering, suggested something with rosemary. I consulted the New York Times Cooking site, and came up with these rosemary shortbread cookies from Melissa Clark. 

I was a little skeptical that the final product might taste too medicinal, so I halved the recipe, using just one stick of butter and a loaf pan rather than a brownie pan. In fact these shortbread cookies were perfectly delicious with a subtle but distinctive taste of spring. 

Rosemary Shortbread
2 cups all-purpose flour
⅔ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon plus 1 pinch kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted cold butter, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 to 2 teaspoons rosemary, chestnut or other dark, full-flavored honey (optional)

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. In a food processor, pulse together flour, sugar, rosemary and salt. Add butter, and honey if desired, and pulse to fine crumbs. Pulse a few more times until some crumbs start to come together, but don't overprocess. Dough should not be smooth.

2. Press dough into an ungreased 8- or 9-inch-square baking pan or 9-inch pie pan. Prick dough all over with a fork. Bake until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes for 9-inch pan, 45 to 50 minutes for 8-inch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Cut into squares, bars or wedges while still warm.