Wednesday, June 29, 2011

BBQ hamburgers with kale potatoes; garlic scape pesto

Last night Kenneth made hamburgers for the new barbecue with meat share ground beef, herbs from the garden, and some chopped garlic scape thrown in. He also made tinfoil packages of Taproot's new potatoes and some kale, tossed in a bit of olive oil. They were very good - better than I expected - since some of the kale crisped up and the flavour complemented the potatoes very well.

This evening I tried making garlic scape pesto. I looked up a bunch of recipes on the net, but they all seemed pretty 'by-guess-and-by-golly' type recipes, so I just chopped up all the scapes, threw in some pecans (the recipes I saw had walnuts or almonds, but Kenneth is allergic to raw versions of both), a bit of salt, lemon juice (maybe 1/4 cup) and enough olive oil that my blender didn't seize up when trying to chop things. Tossed it with pasta, served it with a salad and some grilled halloumi (an *awesome* cheese you can cook on the BBQ - you can get it at Pete's Frootique).

The pesto was alright but I found it a bit too raw-garlicky for my taste. You couldn't really taste the pecans at all. But Ria loved it! We made enough to freeze it in ice-cube trays, but I think in the future I'll mix it with basil pesto, or else just use it as a rub on chicken or something.

Fresh strawberries with ice cream for dessert. Can't be beat.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Swiss Chard pizza & salad with herbed dressing

We're getting into the summer routine of having rotating salads for lunches. One of my favourite dressings is a 'herbed ranch' dressing - store-bought ranch dressings have so many preservatives that we just make our own. I'll post the recipe below.

For supper, we had one of my all-time favourite meals with the luscious Swiss chard we got in the box last week (seriously, have you ever seen healthier Swiss chard)? I had never eaten Swiss chard before my friend Marc introduced me to his Majorcan Swiss chard pizza. I don't know if it's authentically Majorcan or not but that's where he learned the recipe. I am now a die-hard fan of Swiss chard - eating it this way is way way better than steaming or stir-frying it. It looks prettiest with the red-stemmed chard, but works with any type. You can skip the red peppers if you don't have any, and top with feta or cooked chicken or cooked pork or whatever you please. I also swapped the green garlic for the garlic today, and it worked fine.

Majorcan Swiss Chard Pizza

1 bunch of swiss chard, washed and chopped

2 chopped onions

5 cloves of garlic, minced

2 red peppers, chopped

Cooked chicken or leftover pork or feta if desired

Olive oil

1 wholegrain pizza crust or flatbread

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven and pizza stone to 425 F. Sauté onions and garlic in a bit of oil until soft. Add chopped ribs of chard and the red peppers. Cook low 10 minutes. Add chopped chard leaves; cook and stir until just wilted. Roll out pizza base; spread on hot pizza stone. Brush pizza base with oil; top with the chard mixture. Add meat or feta if you’re using them. Season with lots of freshly ground sea salt (more than you would normally use – trust me) and black pepper. Cook for 12-15 minutes or until the crust is brown and crisped. Add more salt and pepper (trust me).

Herbed dressing

¼ c. vegetable oil

¼ c. white vinegar

3 T mayonnaise

1 T lemon juice

½ tsp Worchestershire sauce

1 T grated Parmesan

1 tsp sugar

¾ tsp dry mustard

1 tsp basil

1 tsp oregano

Salt and pepper

strawberries strawberries strawberries

We went strawberry-picking in the Valley on Thursday, so this weekend was spent in extreme gluttony and enjoyment. Not that anyone needs help using up strawberries, but since we're supposed to be getting three more quarts this week in Taproot's veggie and fruit boxes (whee!) I thought I'd post some of the things we've been doing with the berries.

Saturday breakfast was strawberry crepes. Crepes are really easy, and I don't even have a recipe: you put an egg in a medium bowl, beat it, add 3-4 spoonfuls of flour, stir it in, add milk until runny, add more flour, add more milk, and keep going until you have enough batter and the mixture is smooth (stir very well or you will get lumps) and as thin as it can be and still hold together in the pan. Heat a pan to medium, put a bit of butter in the bottom, then pour in a ladleful of batter, whirl the pan around so the batter covers the bottom, and flip when the edges curl. Thin or thicken the batter if need be (my first crepe is usually a failure). Fill with chopped strawberries and maple syrup mixed with plain yoghurt. Yum!

Saturday afternoon Kenneth made strawberry jam while I made my family's strawberry glazed pie recipe. I’m a bit reluctant to publish this recipe, since it’s the one pie I bake (Kenneth is the pie-maker in our house) and I’ve never served it to anyone who hasn’t been impressed. The three or four strawberry pies we get a year in my family – as long as strawberry season lasts – are fiercely fought over and every last crumb devoured. My Dad once made this with corn syrup instead of corn starch; even then it tasted good ... if a little runny!

Strawberry Glazed Pie

(serves 1-6, depending on greed)


1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs (or 1 cup crumbs plus ¼ cups white sugar, if you don’t buy the pre-crushed crumbs)

1/3 cup melted butter


1 ½ quarts of strawberries, hulled, rinsed and quartered

½ cup of water

¾ cups sugar

4 T cornstarch

1 T lemon juice

Mix graham crumbs and melted butter. Press into a pie plate, making sure the crumbs go up the sides to form a crust. Cook at 375 for 5-8 minutes, until it just starts to turn a slightly darker brown. Cool the crust completely. (I actually bought a pre-made crust this time, since it had no preservatives but the graham cracker crumbs did - go figure).

Crush one cup of strawberries in a small pot. Cook with water for about 2 minutes. Strain, reserving the juice; discard crushed strawberries (I use them in yoghurt). You should have about a cup of juice; add water if there isn’t quite enough. Return the juice to the pot. Combine sugar and cornstarch, mixing thoroughly; stir into juice. The mixture will be cloudy and opaque. Cook and stir continuously on medium heat until the juice turns clear and thickens. Stir in lemon juice. Remove from heat; allow to cool slightly (about a minute). Fold the rest of the berries into the sauce; spoon into completely cooled graham crust. Lick the spoon, spatula and pot. Refrigerate the pie 3-4 hours; try not to serve – instead eat it all yourself. Survive your family never speaking to you again – it will be worth it.

Saturday evening we had salmon with mango salsa (okay, the mangos weren't taproot, but the cilantro and tomatoes were!), oven-baked chips, and steamed beet greens; pie for dessert. Sunday morning: fresh berries, fresh scones/biscuits with new strawberry jam, and strawberry yoghurt. We have one quart left in the fridge; the rest we crushed and froze or froze whole, so we'll have summer-tasting (almost!) local strawberries all winter.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

soba noodle salad

This week we've mostly eaten box food for lunches - salads, raw veggies, cooked turnip cubes in Ria's lunch. One of my favourite salads is a soba noodle salad, and this week I added the green garlic to it since we didn't have green onions, which the recipe calls for. They worked well - and didn't give me garlic breath all day, as I had feared.

You can get soba noodles in the oriental section of the grocery store, but they're really expensive; they're a lot cheaper in specialty asian shops.

Cook the soba noodles according to directions; drain and rinse with cold water. Meanwhile, toast some sesame seeds. Toss the noodles with chopped green garlic, chopped chives, julienned carrots, julienned cucumber, and whatever other veggies you fancy (cabbage works well). Toss with 5 T soy sauce, 5 T rice vinegar, 1 T honey and 1 T sesame oil. Top with sesame seeds. Serve cold.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Father's Day

Kenneth has been making some good food lately - kale smoothies for breakfast Saturday (which I thought would be gross, but which were pretty good), homemade pasta with meatballs from the meat share, herbs from the garden, and canned tomatoes last summer.

Yesterday we had apple pancakes for breakfast, salads for lunch, and an almost-entirely food-box Father's Day dinner. Kenneth requested a chicken cacciatore recipe out of the Jamie Oliver Italy cookbook, so I tried my hand at that.

The complication was, of course, that we've been getting whole chickens in the meat share, and I'm used to having my chicken come in nicely portion-sizes and lots of styrofoam and saran wrap from the grocery store. I've never cut up a raw chicken before! It's not too hard, though, and I think I managed okay. But all the internet videos spend lots of time on the easy stuff (cutting off the legs and wings) and skim very quickly over the hard stuff (cutting out the backbone and ribs)! If you're trying this, I strongly recommend scissors as well as knives - they often worked much better.

So - chicken cacciatore with meat-share chicken dissected by yours truly, tomatoes canned from Taproot or our garden from last year, and olives from the Italian market (which is pretty local, I figure!). Oh, and Italian wine - not local. I won't write out the recipe because I followed Jamie Oliver religiously and didn't modify, though I might mess with the recipe in the future. Served with homemade bread, Taproot greens salad, and with rhubarb apple (Noggins) for dessert - yum!


Wednesday, June 15, 2011


As promised - the nettle filo recipe my friend made when when she adopted our box while we were away.

I halved the recipe, and I didn't salt the nettles! But I did steam them first....
* Exported from MasterCook *


Recipe By :
Serving Size : 1 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories : Appetizers

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
2 lb Spinach -- fresh
7 Eggs
1/2 lb Feta cheese -- 1 lb
Onion -- chopped
Garlic clove -- minced
Salt, pepper, oregano
Olive oil
1 lb Filo dough

Wash spinach and place in large bowl. Sprinkle heavily with salt, and rub
into the leaves as you tear them into small pieces. Then rinse salt off
thoroughly, and drain. Beat eggs, crumble feta cheese, and add to spinach.
Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until brown, add to spinach, season
with pepper and oregano.Butter large oblong baking dish. Place one sheet of
filo in pan, and brush with melted butter. Continue until only three or
four sheets of filo are left, letting the edges of the sheets hang over the
sides of the pan. Pour in the filling, and fold ends of pastry over it,
brushing with more butter. Then put the remaining sheets on top, brushing
with butter. Cut three or four steam vent slits in the top, down to the
filling. Bake at 375 for 50 min.

baked salmon and kale with olives and tomatoes

I picked up some salmon yesterday, so was looking through my cookbooks for new ways to cook it (since Noah moved into town, barbecuing seems to be implausible). I adapted a recipe of Jamie Oliver's from the Naked Chef cookbook (since neither green beans nor cherry tomatoes are in season) and this ended up being one of the quickest and easiest - and tastiest - meals I have made in a while.

This is my version:
1 bunch kale, washed & ripped up
4-5 canned tomatoes, roughly chopped
small handful of sundried tomatoes, chopped
2-3 squeezes of anchovy paste (or real anchovies, if you have them)
olive oil
10-20 kalamata olives
salt & pepper
lemon juice

Heat the oven to 475 F with a roasting pan inside. Toss the kale with the canned tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, anchovy paste, olives, and about 2 T olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Take out the roasting pan and brush the bottom with a little olive oil. Put the salmon in one end of the pan and sprinkle generously with lemon juice. Put the kale mixture in the other end of the pan. Roast for 10 minutes. Serve over couscous (rice would probably work too, but couscous is way faster!) spooning the juices from the pan onto the couscous.

I am *definitely* making this one again. It took maybe 15 minutes, tops, and the strong flavours of the tomatoes and olives worked really well with the kale.

Kenneth is right now making rhubarb pie with the last of the rhubarb from our garden. I'm so glad I met someone who knows how to make pies!


lunches and sides

Box day! Strawberries strawberries strawberries! I think the $20 was worth it just for the fresh strawberries. Yesterday was our first day of the summer fruit box, too, so we got a double batch. And fresh cilantro/coriander - when we unpacked the box, the smell filled the kitchen.

Lately I haven't been posting much because, while we've been using up the box, it has mostly gone to lunches and sides rather than full meals. We're starting our usual summer rotation of lunch salads - we make a few salads to have in the fridge, then add a new one every day, so each lunch we have a choice of three or four, and don't get sick of any particular one. The cabbage has gone mostly to coleslaw (yes, still - was that from two weeks ago? We still have some...sigh) and the greens are good just as they are, or with a little oil and vinegar drizzled over. (One day I ate three bowlsful for lunch - starved for fresh-tasting greens after winter wilts.) Beet greens and asparagus were just steamed lightly and served as sides. This time of year we keep things simple - everything tastes good just on its own.

Last night Kenneth made two different curries with fresh green onions and fresh cilantro. This morning we had waffles with strawberries. I love this time of year!


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

veggie spring rolls

I was at a loss for dinner last night - lots of good stuff in the box, but most of it seemed to be more appropriate for 'sides' rather than 'mains'. I'm halfway through Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (the Taproot 'book club' book) and had just finished the chapter in which they hosted a big birthday party and made spring rolls for their vegan friends. So I was already thinking about them, uncertain whether that would be enough for dinner or what I would serve them with, when I pulled out a mystery jar from the box. On opening it, I discovered it was plum sauce! The universe conspired - spring rolls it was.

They're easy, if a bit fiddly, to make, and much easier if you follow the directions in Kingsolver's book by rolling the rice paper wrap bit by bit, rather than trying to roll it around all the stuffing at once (which is how I used to make them). I'll write out what I put in them, but you can experiment with stuffings of your own.

Spring rolls
rice paper wraps
1-2 carrots, julienned
cucumber, julienned
radish, julienned
pea shoots, stripped off the tough stems
dipping sauces: plum sauce, soy sauce, thai sweet&sour

Get everything ready. Place a wrap in a shallow bowl or pan of water, as hot as you can stand. When it softens, put it on a plate and cover it with lettuce leaves. Starting at one side, put in a filling, roll the wrap a bit, put in another filling, until you run out of fillings or wrap. Seal the wrap closed with the last bit of rice paper, then place on a platter covered with a damp cloth until ready to serve. Serve with a variety of dipping sauces.

It made for a light, but tasty dinner. Ria liked the dipping but just licked off the sauce rather than biting the spring roll!


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

rhubarb muffins; stir-fry

Monday I made the rhubarb muffins from Simply in Season for breakfast (I'm mildly ashamed to admit I used frozen rhubarb - we still have some left from last year! - but I didn't tell my guests).

After a day of walking around Halifax, for dinner I made a quick stir-fry, using up most of the leftover ingredients in the fridge. I sauteed a bit of garlic and some grated ginger in peanut oil and soy sauce, then added Taproot bok choi, Taproot green onions, a few Taproot pea-shoots (though we still have some left), broccoli, celery, edamame, chick peas, and cashews. For the sauce I combined more soy sauce, rice vinegar, worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and a bit of sugar, then drizzled some sesame oil over top just before serving.

For desert we have a repeat of the rhubarb filo pastry. And we've still got rhubarb left!

There. I think I'm caught up. Box day today. I promise I'll be better at posting from now on - I'm home with no guests for the forseeable future.


pulled pork and coleslaw

Three of my guests left Saturday, then three more arrived Sunday - it actually worked out really well, since we wouldn't have had enough room for all the people I had cheerfully invited to come 'since you're already down East for the Fredericton conference' if they had all come at once. Saturday was actually a great day (despite the weather forecast), and we finally got the garden in: tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, basil, peas, beans, coriander, lettuce, swiss chard, cucumbers, zucchini, spinach. Hopefully you'll see all of these appear in the blog during the summer!

Sunday I tried cooking the pork shoulder we got in the meat share. I combined two recipes to make BBQ pulled pork, and then served it with a simple coleslaw (cabbage, grated carrot, dressing of mayo and cider vinegar). I served the pork on the zucchini rolls from Simply in Season (we had frozen zucchini) - they are fantastic.

BBQ pulled pork:
1 T paprika
1 T brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne

Coat roast with rub. Spray with oil. Let stand 30 mins. Cook on BBQ over indirect medium heat 3-4 hours. Rest 20 minutes. Pull apart. Stir into sauce & reheat:

1 onion, chopped
1 T oil
2-3 T cider vinegar
2-3 T brown sugar (more to taste)
1/2 bottle of BBQ sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup red wine
2 T Montreal steak spice
2 T worcestershire sauce
1 T lemon juice
Saute onions in oil. Add other ingredients; simmer until bubbly and thick. Add pulled pork. Serve over buns or rolls.

The pork is fairly spicy, so cut the spices in the rub or add sugar to the sauce if it's too hot for you.


nettlekopita; pea-shoot salad; rhubarb filo pastry

On Friday more guests arrived - my undergraduate professor and mentor and my undergraduate writing-centre assistant boss - a couple who are very good friends now. They always have us over for sumptuous dinners (my prof spent some time in Sardinia and is an excellent cook) so I wanted to do something fancy. The dinner was almost entirely local - it was fun trying to make something tasty out of such good ingredients!

nettlekopita - I got a recipe off the internet, but it wasn't as good as the one my friend made a couple of weeks ago. So I'll post hers when I get the chance. Still, mine tasted okay and everyone was impressed that nettles could taste good.

Pancetta-cooked Atlantic scallops with giant mushrooms and Taproot green onions
Garlic & green onion mashed potatoes
Pea-shoot salad

For the potatoes, cut them in small pieces and boil until a fork can be inserted easily. I leave the skin on - it tastes good, and it's the most nutritious part! Drain and mash, adding 1 clove crushed garlic, 2-3 green onions (chopped), about half a block of cream cheese, 2-3 T of butter, and enough milk to make them creamy (don't overdo the milk - 2-3 T should do it).
For the pea-shoot salad:
bowl full of pea-shoots, washed and torn
1/2 cup edamame beans, cooked tender-crisp and cooled
1/4 cup goat's cheese, crumbled
2 T olive oil
3 T lemon juice
1 T sugar

Rhubarb filo pastry

This is one of the easiest desserts to make, and a good way to use up filo (phyllo?) from the nettles. Spread some tinfoil on a baking sheet, then spread out a couple of sheets of filo. Brush with melted butter. Repeat until you have 6-8 sheets of filo. Dump some chopped rhubarb (fresh from our garden!) in the centre, and pour some sugar overtop (about a cup?). Fold filo around the rhubarb and seal with melted butter. Brush more butter overtop. Cut a vent or two in the top, then cook at 350 until golden and crispy.


Lemon pasta; carrot salad

Hi all! I've been away conferencing, and then we've had guests all week, so I've been away from the blog. But I'll try to put up a few posts covering the past weeks, to catch up.

Other than take-away fish&chips and fried clams (hey, you have to treat non-province guests to them!) and some bbq's, I made a lemon pasta last week with some of the box treats. We also had some broccoli so I added that.

1 bunch asparagus, washed, cut in 1-inch pieces; tips reserved
1 head broccoli, cut in 1-inch pieces
2 T olive oil
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 can chickpeas
freshly grated parmesan
salt & pepper
fettuccine or similar, cooked al dente

Simmer the lemon zest in the olive oil; add lemon juice. Toss in the asparagus and broccoli until just tender. Stir in the chickpeas. Add 1/2 parmesan (about 1/4 cup); toss with cooked fettuccine. Top with rest of parmesan, salt and pepper. Quick and easy - and tasty!

We've also been eating salads for lunches. I won't post the broccoli salad, because we didn't get it in the box, but the carrot salad is also good (and looks nice with the rainbow Taproot carrots):

2-3 grated carrots
1-2 handfuls of fresh herbs, chopped (I used chives and thyme, which survived the winter in my garden)
1 T olive oil
2-3 T red wine vinegar
fresh pepper

This keeps for days in the fridge and only gets better as the flavours meld.