Archive for July, 2008

Corn salad

We have some good friends in Little Rock who have taught us a lot about food. They’d have us over for dinner regularly, and very rarely was something on their table not made from scratch. So it’s funny to me that I served them a practically inedible dish one time they were over at our house for dinner. It was a corn salad that called for roasting jalapenos, and for whatever reason, I added way too many. The guys, who like hot stuff, were able to choke it down, but the wife and I couldn’t bear it. I remember her asking, “Do you have any crackers? Milk?” No and no. And we just had to wash it down with water.

This salad was a different story, though. While a few bites were too spicy for my taste, for the most part it was a wonderful combination of flavors that complemented the fresh-from-the-farm corn. We’d never had jimaca before, so I didn’t know what to expect, but the white flesh is a tad sweet and adds a nice crunch.

Albuquerque Corn Salad, from Cooking Light Aug. 08

4 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
2/3 cup chopped jicama
1 tablespoon minced jalapeño pepper
2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 4 ears)
1 3/4 cups thinly sliced green onions (about 8 onions)
2/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cilantro (optional) for garnish

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add jicama and jalapeño to pan; sauté 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add corn and remaining ingredients; sauté 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Serve warm or at room temperature. Garnish with cilantro.

July 31, 2008 at 1:56 pm 1 comment

Heirloom tomato salad

If you don’t like raw tomatoes, you might as well stop reading here. It’s a shame to miss out on a perfect summer dish, but I understand it’s a pretty common aversion. This month’s Cooking Light had a feature on heirloom tomatoes, and the greens, yellows, oranges and reds were just beautiful. I’d never actually bought any tomatoes that weren’t red before, so I was delighted that our CSA farmer had some yellow heirlooms (he told us the name, but I can’t remember), as well as some cherry tomatoes to go with the usual reds. So pretty! I balked at buying three types of fresh herbs and skipped the mint, but next time I think I’ll skip the parsley instead.

Heirloom Tomato Salad, Cooking Light

2 cups assorted heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon drained capers, chopped
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extravirgin olive oil
2 pounds assorted beefsteak heirloom tomatoes, each cut into 6 wedges
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 (1/2-ounce) slices sourdough bread, toasted or grilled

1. Combine first 9 ingredients in a bowl. Sprinkle tomato mixture with salt and pepper; toss gently. Serve with bread.

July 30, 2008 at 5:45 pm 1 comment

Potato and squash torte

I ran across this beauty last week on one of my favorite cooking blogs, smittenkitchen, and since we had potatoes in our CSA box, I made sure to get some squash and zucchini also while we were at the market. The original recipe calls for it to be made in two 8-inch cake pans, but I made it in an 11-inch tart pan. I thought that meant I would need fewer ingredients, but my potatoes ended up being a little sparse on top. So while my execution wasn’t perfect, it still tasted very good.

Summer Squash and Potato Torte, from Bon Appetit, June 2001

1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
12 ounces yellow crookneck squash, zucchini or regular yellow summer squash, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
6 teaspoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter two 8-inch-diameter cake pans or an 11-inch tart pan. (Directions below assume tart pan.) Set aside 1/4 cup sliced green onions. Toss remaining green onions, cheese, flour, thyme, salt and pepper in medium bowl to blend.
Layer 1/3 of potatoes in concentric circles in bottom of prepared pan, overlapping slightly. Layer 1/2 of squash in concentric circles atop potatoes. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with 1/3 of cheese mixture. Repeat with 1/3 of potatoes, then rest of squash and 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with 1/3 of cheese mixture. Top with 1/3 of potatoes. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with 1/3 of cheese mixture and press gently to flatten.
Cover pans with foil. Bake until potatoes are almost tender, about 40 minutes. Remove foil; bake uncovered until tortes begin to brown and potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes longer. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cool. Cover with foil and chill. Rewarm, covered with foil, in 350°F oven until heated through, about 30 minutes.)
Cut each torte into wedges. Sprinkle wedges with 1/4 cup green onions; serve.

July 29, 2008 at 9:35 am Leave a comment

Southwestern chicken burritos

Last week, I bought something not on the list for lunch emergencies, an Amy’s burrito. Love those things. So when we had some leftover chicken at the end of the week, I realized we had everything on hand to create our own burritos cheaply and with mostly all organic ingredients. Now, when we’re out of leftovers, we can still have a healthy, easy meal to take to work.

Southwestern Chicken Burritos

3/4 cup brown rice, dry
1 large tomato or 2 medium
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tsp McCormick’s Spicy Seasoning
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 medium potatoes, peeled if not organic, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 ear corn, kernels cut off
1 can black beans or mixed blend, rinsed and drained
1 1/4 cup diced chicken
3/4 cup shredded cheese (we used Mexican blend)
8-9 flour tortillas, burrito size

Cook rice according to directions. Bring separate pot of water to boil. Score tomato and cut out stem and drop into boiling water for 60 seconds. Remove and run under cool water. Peel skin, squeeze tomato over garbage to expel most of the seeds. Finely chop and put in medium skillet. Add chicken broth and seasonings and cook until liquid has reduced slightly and thickened, about 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, in remaining boiling water, cook potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes.
Add corn to tomato sauce as it cooks. When potatoes and sauce are done, mix chicken, rice, potatoes, corn, beans and sauce in large bowl. Taste for seasoning. Let cool slightly.
Mound about 1 1/2 cups filling in each tortilla, then sprinkle with about 2 tablespoons cheese. Roll up and place in glass dish. Cook at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, or until tortillas brown slightly. Let cool and then roll up in foil.

July 27, 2008 at 1:20 pm 1 comment

Peach and blueberry cobbler

Maybe a month or so into starting this blog, my mom recounted a conversation she’d had about it with my younger sister. My sister saw all the vegetables we were eating and apparently said to my mom, “I bet they’re losing weight!” (Not that she thinks either of us need to 🙂 ) My mom replied, “Well, Van might be, but I bet Amy’s not!” See, my mom knows my love for sweets. So even if I’m eating fairly healthy meals, I also love to bake, and I don’t have a whole lot of self control when dessert’s involved.

But it may actually be starting to catch up with me, so I decided to tweak our favorite cobbler recipe to be a little more figure friendly. And instead of just peaches (which are bountiful around here right now), I also threw in some of the blueberries we froze a few weeks back. I didn’t miss the extra topping at all, and I actually thought it let the fruit filling’s juiciness shine.

Peach and Blueberry Cobbler, adapted from epicurious.com

4 peaches
1 cup fresh or fresh-frozen blueberries
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbl unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons hot water

Start pot of boiling water. Score peaches into four quadrants. Drop in water and let sit for 45-60 seconds. Remove with slotted spoon and set in drainer. Run cold water over them. Peel and slice. Add peaches to 2 quart baking dish along with blueberries, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Blend in butter with fingertips or pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in water until just combined. Drop spoonfuls of topping over peaches. Bake in oven until topping is golden brown, about 25 minutes. (Topping will spread as it bakes.)

July 23, 2008 at 2:07 pm Leave a comment

Shrimp with tomatoes

We love shrimp but rarely buy it. First, it can be a little pricey. But more important, it’s almost always farm-raised in Asia, which makes me a little uncomfortable. With all the news of China’s food imports in the past few years, I’ve been hesitant to buy food from overseas, notwithstanding the fact that we’re trying to eat more local anyway. A recent article here in the local paper confirmed my fears. Basically there’s all sorts of nasty things that can be pumped into or absorbed by the shrimp raised far from government regulation. So I thought I might never eat shrimp again, until we made a recent visit to a huge international farmers market just east of Atlanta. Lo and behold, it had shrimp wild caught in the Atlantic, from Georgia, no less. And at less than $6 a pound, a worthy splurge.

I picked this recipe to also use some feta we had bought for another recipe, but my husband didn’t really like the tangy flavor on top of everything else. I was on the fence, but would be perfectly happy eating it sans cheese.

Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta, adapted from allrecipes

1 pound fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 clove chopped garlic
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1 1/2 tsp pickled chopped jalepenos, or 1 to 2 fresh (assuming you can assure they’re salmonella free)
2-3 ripe tomatoes (depending on size), chopped
ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped, or tsp dry
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
2 cups cooked yellow rice

In a large saute pan, toss the shrimp with the olive oil. Cook over medium heat until shrimp become pink. Season with salt and pepper and remove to a plate. In same pan, saute the chopped garlic in olive oil until golden. Add green onion and jalapeno peppers; saute about 3 minutes. Mix in the chopped tomatoes and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and stir in the parsley. Reduce heat. Add shrimp back to pan.
To serve, ladle shrimp and tomatoes over yellow rice. Crumble the feta cheese over the shrimp.

July 22, 2008 at 1:24 pm Leave a comment

Working with fresh tomatoes

We picked up some sausage last week from the farmer who runs our CSA, and I was actually stumped as to how to use it. Lately we’ve been eating a lot of vegetarian meals, picking things based on the vegetables we get for the week. So I hunted through the sausage recipes on epicurious.com and found a wonderful pasta dish. (I really should cut back on the pasta. Maybe next week.) It called for a 28 oz. can of pureed tomatoes, but I wanted to use fresh instead. Preparing them seemed like it would be a lot of work, but it really wasn’t so bad. Since it was a learning experience for me, I’m sharing a little primer here.

First, start a large pot of boiling water. Also, fill a bowl with cold water and throw in some ice cubes. Cut out the stem of four tomatoes (for the recipe below) and slice off the bottom. Then score each with a knife, top to bottom, and around the sides.

Then, drop the tomatoes into the boiling water and let them sit for about 60 seconds. With a slotted spoon, remove them, and plunge them into the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. You will see the skins have loosened.

Once cool, peel off the skin, slice each tomato into fourths and scoop out all the seeds. I just stuck my fingers into the crevices and pulled them out. I felt like I was back in biology class dissecting a pig.

Since I wanted them pureed, I stuck them in the food processor and ran it until no big chunks were left. And that was it. Once we get more tomatoes in, I hope to make a big batch of sauce this way. That’s one way to prolong the summer!

Now, where those tomatoes ended up:

Click below for the recipe

(more…)

July 19, 2008 at 2:06 pm Leave a comment

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Weekly menu

-Sesame chicken
-Black bean burgers with sweet potato fries
-Salad with hot bacon dressing and corn on the cob
-Tomato and bacon frittata