Cooking for two is boring -- I want to cook for the entire blogosphere!

Saturday, June 26

Our summer of CSA - week 2

This week's CSA bounty included a lot of greenery: collards along with swiss chard, parsley, and something I finally identified as watercress. We also received some lovely raspberries and a small paper bag full of cherries. The fruit was easily dispensed with, but we pondered how to handle the rest in this hot weather, which doesn't make one like to turn on the stovetop, let alone the oven.

First up was tackling the watercress, since we learned via the Internet that it's fairly delicate and wouldn't last a terribly long time. Luckily I still had some radishes left from last week, and these, along with butter and some incredibly creamy goat cheese from Formaggio Essex, made a terrific foil for the tangy cress in a baguette sandwich. Serve with some sparkling water and - voila. Very French. We also found that buying a nice head of lettuce made watercress and radish salad an appetizing option as well.

Next we tackled the collards. A variation on this recipe, previously posted on the blog, was a great way to keep the stove use to a minimum. In the variation, from my new cookbook Fast, Fresh and Green, you make a little dressing with honey and cider vinegar and pour it over the top of greens cooked with garlic and pepper flakes just as they're finishing (not unlike this recipe).

Finally, one of my favorite soups, and one I usually cook in the wintertime: chard, potato, and white bean ragout. I just can't think of a better way to eat chard, so we braved the hot kitchen and cooked up a storm.

Next week, I'm hoping for some more delicious fruit, and we'll finish off our parsley in some lemony tabbouleh.

Monday, June 21

Lentils with Spinach and Soy Sauce

One of my favorite recipes, this is a pretty simple way to get dinner on the table during a week night. We had just enough spinach from our CSA to put this together. I like using French puy lentils for their nuttiness and meaty, chewy texture; my honey liked the "comfort food" quality of regular, softer green lentils. Either will work for this recipe.

Lentils with Spinach and Soy Sauce

1 cup dry lentils
1 bay leaf
1/2 onion
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup diced, peeled carrots
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 medium bunch spinach, about 12 oz., trimmed & washed
1 tbsp soy sauce

Sort and rinse lentils. Add to a pot and cover with 1 to 2 inches of water, along with the half an onion and bay leaf. Simmer until tender, about 20 minutes based on the type of lentil (check the bag or container). Drain but do not rinse.

In a deep skillet, heat olive oil and then add carrots, sauteeing about 10 minutes, until tender. Add the garlic and stir to blend. Add the cooked, drained lentils (about 3 cups, cooked), the spinach and the soy sauce. Cover and cook for about 2 minutes, until the spinach has wilted down a bit, and then stir the pot. Cover and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Serve with rice or without.

Recipe modified from The Joy of Cooking.

Wednesday, June 16

Starting our Summer of CSA

This summer I signed up for a CSA share. I thought it would be an awesome way to support small farms, and it turns out that it's quite exciting, too. Every Tuesday I'll pick up a bag of mystery fruits and vegetables and have to figure out a way to cook with them. It's like Christmas every week!

This week we received strawberries, apples, radishes, lettuce, spinach, and cilantro. First, we made strawberry popsicles. We had a whole basket of tiny, ripe red berries and couldn't eat them all on cereal, after all. We mashed about a cup of berries together with a tablespoon or so of sugar and let them macerate for a bit, then added a half cup of plain yogurt and enough milk to thin it out. After a splash of lime juice, we added them to our popsicle molds and voila! They taste like strawberry frozen yogurt.

Dealing with our other ingredients required a bit more ingenuity. I haven't cooked much with radishes, and never with their fuzzy green fronds. A bit of research proved they were indeed edible and in fact tasty. So tonight, we made a pretty straight-forward salad: fresh green lettuce, paper-thin radish rounds, slivers of radish greens, and a mustard vinaigrette. It tasted fresh off the farm.

So far, CSA - thumbs up. Later this week we'll make a spicy tomato soup with lots of cilantro.