Friday, June 28, 2013

Cucumber Tomato Salad

It's HOT.  Which means, I need some light and cool food to enjoy and snack on for dinner rather than investing time and energy in a full dinner.  Here's a refreshing and simple salad to serve for a light dinner with some pita bread and hummus.

1 cucumber
4 small, hothouse tomatoes
2 tablespoons of dill
2 green onions
a splash of red vinegar and olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Cut your cucumber in half and then in half again, length-wise and cut into chunks.

2.  Cut the tomatoes in to 8ths so you have little crescent moon shapes.

3.  Chop the dill and slice the green onions (white and green parts).

4.  Combine in a bowl and add a splash of red wine vinegar and olive oil (equal parts).  Season with salt and pepper.

5.  Cover the bowl to marinate and blend flavors overnight.  Or you could put in canning jars and give one to a friend as a gift (I gave one to my mother-in-law as opposed to money for watching my eldest, which I'm pretty sure is an even trade, right?).

Friday, June 14, 2013

Ode to the Pickle - Pickled Kohlrabi

I dig my CSA share from Waterpenny Farm -- you support local, sustainable farming practices and come to appreciate the flavors of seasonal produce.  This 'warm & fuzzy feeling' is coupled with the element of surprise.. like ooh, what was ripe enough to harvest this week?  And then... every once in a while... comes the big "HUH?"

You know what I'm talking about. You find at the bottom of your bag, some random piece of produce that creates the follow reaction: "WTF is this thing and what am I supposed to do with it?!?!"  That instance happened this week.  


I cut a piece off and ate it.  Hmmm... crunchy, light and reminds me of cabbage.  So I pulled out my Larousse Gastronomique (a culinary encyclopedia) and found out more.  Apparently, it's "a vegetable of the cabbage family (SCORE, got that right!) whose fleshy stalk swells at the base like a turnip.  Tender when young, kohlrabi is prepared like a turnip or celeriac and may be eaten raw or cooked."  Well, okay.  I sort of assumed it could be cooked.    

So I dug around more to see what people do with it.  It apparently, can be roasted and is used in some Indian dishes.  But what really caught my eye was that some folks have pickled it.  I thought that would be a perfect way to build on the crispy-ness of the kohlrabi.  So, here it is - a recipe for pickled kohlrabi.  

PS.  Is there anything that you can't pickle?!?  

1/2 of a kohlrabi
1 cup of water
1 cup of white vinegar
2 cloves of garlic
4 tsp of salt
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp of pickling spice
3-4 stalks of dill

1.  Slice the kohlrabi into 1/2 inch slices and then cut into thirds to be about the width of 2 inches.

2.  Stuff a canning jar with the kohlrabi slices, two cloves of garlic (peeled), and dill.

3.  Combine water, vinegar, pickling spices, salt and sugar in a small pot and heat over medium-high heat until it boils and the salt and sugar dissolve.

4.  Pour liquid over kohlrabi in the mason jar.  
5.  Place lid on top and screw on cap. Allow to cool and then place in the refrigerator to chill. Serve the next day and can be kept up to one week.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Curried Chicken Salad

Summer is here!  Well, not technically HERE, here.  But here nonetheless.  It feels like summer and schools let out next week so I'm going to go ahead and say it's summer. 

In my mind, summer is about salads.  Light, refreshing salads that you can enjoy outside at a picnic or on the beach that are substantial enough to refer to as dinner.  And don't require a whole lot of 'heat' to create because who really wants to turn on the oven on a 90 degree day with 100% humidity. 

Here is a great recipe for a traditional chicken salad with some added spice (of course, you knew I was going to add spices, I just couldn't help myself!).  I add apples and raisins because I like the crunchy texture and the sweetness balances out the spice... but you can leave them out if you prefer.  I ususally serve this on pita bread or an english muffin.  Enjoy as lunch, dinner or snack at a winery....

1 1/2 cups of chicken, cooked and shredded
1/2 an apple
2 celery stalks
2 green onions
2 tablespoons of raisins
1/3 cup of mayo
3/4 teaspoon of curry powder
1 teaspoon of cider vinegar
1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper

1.  Dice apples and celery.

2.  Chop green onions.

3.  Combine chicken, apple, celery, onions, and raisins in a bowl.  Set aside.

4.  Combine mayo, curry powder, vinegar, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl.  Mix together and season with salt and pepper to taste.

5.  Add the mayo mixture to the chicken. 

6.  Stir until blended and all the chicken is well covered with mayo.  Refigerate for an hour or so to let flavors develop. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Spicy Kale Chips

This week, we got our first CSA share of the season.  Our share of seasonal vegetables comes from Waterpenny Farm, out in Sperryville, VA.  They have lots of great vegetables and some seasonal fruits which are both delicious. 

One of the items that came in our first delivery was a bunch of kale.  I'm going to admit it, I am not a huge fan of kale.  It is really tough and I find it to be too chewy in a regular salad.  I've used it in soups, and that works out well.  But I definitely struggle with what to do with kale as a side dish. 

But now I've found a way to make it into a snack -  spicy kale chips.  Using one of my favorite ingredients, chili oil. Light and crispy, these kale chips are *gone* the same day I make them.   

1/2 tablespoon of chili oil
1 tablespoon of olive oil
6-8 stalks of fresh kale

1.  Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

2.  Rinse kale and pat dry.  Remove ribs from the center of the kale and cut leaves into 3 inch pieces.

3.  Place kale in a bowl and add oils, toss to mix.  Sprinkle with salt.

4.  Lay kale in a single layer on a baking sheet. 

5.  Cook in the oven for ten minutes and turn kale over.  Cook for another 10 minutes until crispy.

6.  Remove from oven and place on paper towels to cook and remove excess oil.  Enjoy as a yummy snack!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Pork Chops with Sage and Shallot Pan Sauce

This spring, I planted a vegetable garden along with some herbs in pots.  My veggies are still growing (nothing ready to harvest yet), but my herbs are looking fantastic! 

So I decided to use one of my herbs, sage in a pork dish for dinner.  This is a simple and quick weeknight dinner recipe for pork chops with a light sauce.  You can serve over mashed potatoes or rice (or probably quinoa, but I'm still trying to work with that 'grain' before I start throwing it in to everything) with a side salad for a complete meal.

2 pork chops
salt and pepper
1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons of sage
1 shallot
1/3 cup of chicken stock
1 tablespoon of butter

1.  Sprinkle pork chops with salt and pepper and let stand for 10-15 minutes.

2.  Dice shallot.

3.  Chop sage leaves -- stack in a pile, roll and chop cross-wise.

4.  Heat a shallow skillet over medium  high heat and add olive oil.  Bring oil up in temperature and add pork chops to the skillet.  Cook on each side until lightly browned (about 3 minutes per side).

3.  Remove pork chops from pan, lower the heat to medium and add 1/2 of the tablespoon of butter.  Add the shallots to the pan and saute until slightly tender, about 3 minutes.

4.  Add the sage to the skillet and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

5.  Deglaze the pan with the 1/3 cup of chicken stock by bringing up the heat to medium-high, allowing the stock to boil, and then bringing down the heat to medium to lightly simmer and reduce sauce to about half (about 10 minutes).

6.  Add pork chops back to the pan to warm and coat with sauce.  Add 1/2 tablespoon of butter to the pan to richen.  Salt and pepper to taste.

7.  Remove pork chops, spoon sauce over pork chops and serve!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Summer's Here! Strawberry Bread

As a kid growing up in Jersey, I remember spending time across from my grandparent's farm picking strawberries, blueberries and raspberries from their neighbor's fields.  It was a lot of fun digging through those bushes to find the best, ripest strawberry and the hard choice about whether to put it in the bin or shove it in your mouth. 

So now that I have two children, I try to make a point every year to go out to a farm and 'pick your own' fruit.  Strawberries are in season right now, and they love strawberries so we out to Hartland Orchard a week ago to pick them.  I love this orchard... it's right off 66 West so it's very convenient, the owners are super nice, and it has beautiful views of the Blue Ridge. 

We picked about 5 pints of strawberries so I had enough to have for snacks, for salads, and some to freeze for later.  I also used some to make some strawberry bread.  A great way to use seasonal fruit for a breakfast treat, or with some strawberry ice cream for dessert! 

1 1/2 cups of flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 cup of brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups of cut strawberries
2 eggs
5/8 cup of applesauce
1/2 tablespoon vegetable shortening/butter
1 tablespoon of flour

1.  Grease and flour a bread loaf dish with the 1/2 tbl of butter and 1 tbl of flour, shaking out any excess.

2.  Chop strawberries into uneven pieces.

3.  Add the dry ingredients to a large bowl -- flour, sugars, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  

4.  Add the applesauce and eggs to the bowl.

5.  Mix together with a mixer on low speed until blended.

6.  Add the strawberries to the bowl and stir until mixed in.

7.  Spoon the batter into the loaf pan.

8.  Cook in the oven for 1 hour and 15-20 minutes until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.