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

Thursday, September 9

Our Summer of CSA - Week 13

We have apples. Lots of apples. It must be September. Oh yes, we have peppers and pears and lettuce and carrots and eggplant and corn and tomatoes and basil, but mostly we have apples. So, besides eating one a day to keep the doctor away, what to do? Why make apple cake, of course.

This cake is so easy, it would be a great one to make if you're cooking with a child or someone else who's just beginning. Spicy, moist, and just right on the first real, cool day of fall. Happy New Year, everyone.

Apple Spice Cake

1 cup flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk (sub: 1 tbsp white vinegar and 1 cup plain milk)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped apple (about 1 apple)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • Lightly grease and flour an 8 x 8 inch pan, or line the bottom with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 deg.
  • Whisk the first seven ingredients (flour through salt) together in a large bowl.
  • In a separate small bowl, mix together the buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture and stir together until combined and smooth.
  • Mix in the apples and walnuts.
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan on a rack about 10 minutes. Slide a thin knife around the cake to detach it from the pan, and invert it onto a plate. Peel off the parchment paper, if using. Let cool right side up on the rack.
  • Serve with vanilla ice cream or brandied whipped cream, or just on its own.
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking.

Monday, September 6

Our Summer of CSA - Week 12

This week brought us a very manageable bounty. As I unpacked the bag, I thought, "Okay, we can do this! We can eat all this food before the end of the week!" It helped that we had some not-so-perishable goodies in there: a bunch of apples; poblano, Italian and bell peppers; and a small eggplant. We also lucked out with some beautiful green chard, which I cooked the first night we brought it home so we could enjoy it before it started to wilt (which it did pretty soon) and a huge bunch of basil, which we turned into pesto, of course, and which my husband also made into Thai basil chicken (recipe via Cook's Illustrated). We also had two amazing nectarines and some pears, which we made quick work of - no need to cook them when they're so delicious on their own - and two yellow tomatoes, which we chopped up and tossed with our pesto pasta.

As part of a deal I made with a friend, I'm making at least one healthy recipe per week - of course, I like to think I make more than one anyway, but this way I'll be thinking about it more. So with our beautiful green chard we made one of my favorite soups, Chard, White Bean and Potato ragout, which we've already made once this CSA summer. It's very low-fat and full of fiber, protein, and whatever goodness comes in green chard. It also tastes delicious.

We also made a really stunning side from Fast, Fresh & Green: Stir-Fried Swiss Chard with Balsamic Butter. It has the smoky flavor of Chinese cooking, and feels pretty sophisticated. I've adapted this from the original recipe, which had browned pine nuts in it.

Stir-Fried Swiss Chard with Balsamic Butter

1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp dark brown sugar
12 oz green swiss chard
1 tbsp peanut oil
2 tsp finely chopped garlic
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp sesame seeds
1/2 tsp salt plus a pinch more
  • In a small bowl, combine balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, and brown sugar.
  • Rinse and dry chard leaves and stems well. Remove leaves from stems. Chop stems crosswise into 1/4 inch pieces.
  • Heat the peanut oil in a large (12") nonstick or cast iron skillet - you'll need it, as the uncooked chard is quite bulky. When the oil is hot, add the chard stems and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until they're shrunken and beginning to brown lightly, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and stir fry until just fragrant. Add the chard leaves and 1/2 tsp salt and using tongs, toss until the leaves are just wilted (45 seconds). (Here is where I overcooked mine a bit because I didn't have enough room to maneuver in my 10" pan).
  • Scrape the balsamic mixture into the pan and stir, then remove the pan from the heat. Add the butter and toss and stir until it's melted. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.