Monday, June 28, 2010

Sauteed Collard Greens with Raisins

So this past week I had the collard greens challenge again.  We received the collards in our CSA share and while we loved the pesto I made before I was determined to try something new.  I made a kale and cranberry recipe in the past and thought that maybe collards and raisins would be good together.  Did a quick search and whaddaya know- Martha Stewart had the perfect recipe just sitting there waiting for me.  It's good thing (no, really...it was a good thing).

Sauteed Colllard Greens with Raisins
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds (about 2 bunches) collard greens, stalks removed, leaves thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 teaspoons white-wine vinegar (I used balsamic because I was out of white wine vinegar)
Toast the almonds in a large, dry skillet on the stovetop (Martha said to toast them in the oven but I couldn't see heating up the oven just for that...).  

Remove the almonds and heat oil over medium-high. Add collard greens and raisins; cook, tossing occasionally, until collards are tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in vinegar. 
Serve sprinkled with toasted almonds.

Quick, simple and good for you - it received two thumbs up from all three of us.
Collard Greens on FoodistaCollard Greens

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Grilled Squash with garlicky mint yogurt sauce

I came home with a decent amount of summer squash from the CSA pickup the other day.  There was squash on the list (I chose the pattypan squash) plus an abundance of little zucchini and yellow squash in the bonus box.
I grabbed a few zucchini to go along with the pattypan and decided to grill them.  I just sprayed them with olive oil and sprinkled them with sea salt.  For the sauce I mixed one cup of fat free plain yogurt with about 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint and a garlic clove minced up with a pinch of salt.  A little confession here - I could have easily called this blackened squash in salt sauce - I left a couple of pieces on the grill too long and my pinch of salt was maybe a "pinch" if the jolly green giant was doing the pinching.  It was a bit salty.  But the rest of the family didn't think so because they always salt everything (bad habit...).  In any case, I love the combination of grilled vegetables with a seasoned yogurt sauce - even a well (over?) seasoned one!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Gyros Wraps

This spring we discovered an awesome new sandwich shop.  We were wandering through the antiques street fair in Whittier, California and at the end of the block stopped to look around for a lunch spot.  We've eaten at most of the options - the burger place, Thai, Mexican and so on.  But right there on the corner was this new place Fenix 5-4 touting itself as a Pure Food Eatery and Organic Juice Bar - um, hello!  We'd found our spot!  At that first visit we had the Fake BLT & Avocado Sandwich, Vegetarian Club Sandwich and the Four Cheese Grilled Cheese (there were three of us!).  The owner came over to our table to visit - offered us a free wheatgrass tea (which was fantastic).  We went back the next day and had the BLT again along with a sandwich that isn't currently on the menu (I think it was called the Fake Elvis or something like that).  So of course for our most recent visit to Whittier (dorm move-out) we headed straight to Fenix for lunch.  This time we had their Vegan Beef Gyro.  I could tell they used the Trader Joe's meatless "beef" strips for this sandwich so I made a mental note to try this one at home.  I made a few changes (my version is vegetarian, not vegan) but it was really good and definitely something I'd make again

Fenix Style Veggie Beef Gyros

1 package Trader Joe's meatless beef strips
3 sheets Trader Joe's lavash bread
12 oz jar roasted red peppers
1/2 cup plain fat free yogurt
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
crushed red pepper
lettuce leaves
crumbled feta
diced tomato

  Drain the red peppers.  In a food processor combine the red peppers, yogurt, salt, paprika and crushed red pepper to taste.  Process until smooth.  Take about 1/4 cup of the red pepper sauce and toss it with the meatless strips.  Let them marinate for 15 minutes or so and then saute until browned.  Chop in smaller pieces.Lay the bread out horizontally.  Layer lettuce leaves first across the middle.  Top with meatless strips.  Add crumbled feta, thinly sliced avocado, diced tomato and top with red pepper sauce.

Fold bottom part of bread up over the sandwich filling and then roll it over to close it.  Slice into three pieces. If I'd had some red onion on hand I would have used it - some kalamata olives would have been good too...or cucumber.  In any case - these were really good and we've been using the red pepper sauce on other sandwiches as well.  

The next day we saw the owner at a nearby coffee shop and visited with him a little more.   I love that small town aspect of Whittier.  We also love Fenix 5-4 and look forward to many more awesome lunches :-)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Curried "Chicken" Salad

Back in the meat eating days, curried chicken salad was a family favorite.  I've made it many times with different substitutes - tofu, garbanzo beans etc but made one the other night that was really quite good.  I'd picked up a veggie chicken product at Safeway on a whim one day.  I rarely shop at Safeway but this caught my eye so I figured we'd give it a try.  It's Gardein brand - I bought the "chik'n filets" (I hate these made up names but whatever).

 I've made basically the same recipe for years - substituting or omitting depending on what I have on hand.

Curried Chicken Salad

1 package of veggie chicken (I used 7 oz pkg) or protein of your choice (tofu, tempeh, garbanzos)
1 1/2 cups halved seedless red grapes
1 can sliced water chestnuts, slivered
sliced green onion to taste (I used finely diced red onion this time)
1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup hot mango chutney
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
salt and pepper to taste
Pan fry the veg chicken until browned, cool and then dice. Combine the mayo, chutney, curry and S&P to make dressing.  Combine the chicken with the grapes, water chestnuts, onion and almonds.  Mix dressing into salad and chill to allow the flavors to combine.  You can add in celery, raisins, sliced olives, mango, apple etc.  

I think next time I make this I will double the recipe.  There were three of us and we finished this easily - it would have been nice to have some leftovers.   It was a great summery dinner.  Of course now we are back to Junetober weather so it may be a few days before we are ready for salad again! 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Trouchia - Chard and Onion Omelet

I get asked pretty frequently for vegetarian cookbook recommendations.  Often it's from someone whose child has decided to become a vegetarian and they are at a loss of what to do.  Sometimes it's a friend who is an experienced cook and is looking to branch out beyond Meatless Monday.  For those people I usually recommend Deborah Madison's "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone."  I've made many, many recipes from this book and they never fail to deliver.  One favorite, the Chard and Onion Omelet, or Trouchia, is easy to throw together, delicious and makes excellent leftovers.

In the CSA box last week we received both swiss chard and onions so this was my obvious choice:


3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red or white onion, quartered and thinly sliced crosswise
1 bunch chard, leaves only, chopped
Salt and freshly milled pepper
1 garlic clove
6 to 8 eggs, lightly beaten (I used six)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped basil
2 teaspoons chopped thyme
1 cup grated Gruyère (I used 4 slices reduced fat Jarlsberg, chopped up because it's what I had)
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a 10-inch skillet (make sure it's one that go into the oven), add the onion, and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until completely soft but not colored, about 15 minutes. Add the chard and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until all the moisture has cooked off and the chard is tender, about 15 minutes. 
Season well with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, mash the garlic in a mortar with a few pinches of salt (or chop them finely together), then stir it into the eggs along with the herbs. 
Combine the chard mixture with the eggs and stir in the Gruyère and half the Parmesan.
Preheat the broiler. Heat the remaining oil in the skillet and, when it's hot, add the eggs. Give a stir and keep the heat at medium-high for about a minute, then turn it to low. Cook until the eggs are set but still a little moist on top, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the remaining Parmesan and broil 4 to 6 inches from the heat, until browned.
Serve trouchia in the pan or slide it onto a serving dish and cut it into wedges. The gratinéed top and the golden bottom are equally presentable.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Terra Bella Family Farm CSA: week 4

I can't believe it's already been 4 weeks since this whole CSA thing started!  It's quite a reminder of how quickly time goes by...

This week we received

2 boxes of strawberries
1 box of baby plums
1 head green leaf lettuce
1 bunch collards
choice of summer squash
brownie and a chocolate cookie (a very large, amazingly delicious cookie)

I really should have skipped the dessert box - the brownie and the cookie.  I could have walked on by, put it in the trade or donate box but no, the chocolate was calling my name.  We don't eat a lot of dessert and if we do, it's usually fruit based.  But wow - this cookie was good.  Big enough for sharing for sure.  We had a little bit of the brownie on top of some Cefiore original tart frozen yogurt (a product I'm only slightly obsessed with).  A perfect way to end the day!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Barbecued Corn - Persian Style

When I was a kid I loved corn on the cob.  It was boiled in a big pot on the stove, served with little corn shaped picks in the end and slathered with butter (or more likely margarine) and sprinkled with salt.  That, and watermelon, were the signs that summer had arrived.  Now that I live in California we get the watermelon and corn a little earlier and I cook it in a different way.

My husband grew up in Iran and has fond memories of street peddlers selling this grilled corn - or balal.  It's so simple and sooo good.  I can't imagine it any other way.   Before we had a gas grilled the corn would go right on the coals but it works on a gas grill as well (for that matter I suppose you could do it on your gas stove).  Just put the corn on the grill, close the lid and turn it occasionally as it cooks.  You will hear some popping - you want it to get to get dark but not blackened - it doesn't take very long.  The next step is what makes it different.  Prepare a large bowl of very warm water (that will hold all your corn) and dissolve in it, two tablespoons of salt.  Once the corn comes off the grill submerge it in the salted water.  It only needs to stay in for a few seconds (maybe 5-10). That's it - it is ready to eat, no butter, no extra salt, just as it is.

Happy Summer!

Happy Father's Day

Weren't the 70's grand?  There's a whole lot of polyester in that picture.  What was it about pictures back then that no one looked in the same direction?

We had a wonderful father's day - we took the dogs to Ft. Funston for a day of fun, sun, water and woofing.  In short, it was dog heaven...(click on any picture to enlarge it)

They played in the ocean

Bella checked out a very scary rock - she barked at this for a  good long time

There were almost 30 vizslas on this walk!

Including an adorable puppy...named Bella!
There were Golden Retrievers playing Lion King
A 4.5 month old Great Dane puppy (puppy?!?)
But the best part was spending the day together - 
daddy and his girls
Happy Father's Day to the best husband and dad ever (besides my own of course :-))

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Summer Squash "Crab" Cakes

I made these for the first time several years ago.  They were in the rotation for awhile and then for some reason fell off the radar.  These things happen.  But in this week's CSA we had our choice of several summer squash so I picked up a zucchini and a yellow crookneck squash and for some reason flashed back to this recipe. There are many versions of this on the internet - all essentially the same ingredients, just different proportions.  The recipe I made is as follows:

Summer Squash "Crab" Cakes

1 medium zucchini
1 medium crookneck squash
1 yellow onion
1 cup bread crumbs
1 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
2 eggs, beaten (or flax seed egg replacer)

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Grate the zucchini and yellow squash (using a food processor will make this a 5 second job).  Using your hands, squeeze out as much liquid as you can from the shredded squash and place it in a large bowl.  Next put the onion through the grater on the food processor and again, remove as much liquid as you can before placing the onion in the bowl with the squash.  Add in the remaining ingredients and blend until well combined.   Using a cookie scoop (I used a 1/8 cup scoop) measure out the mixture and place on a greased baking sheet (I usually line with foil to make clean up simpler) and flatten the scoops a bit.

Bake for about 25 minutes, turning them over after 15 minutes or so.  I did have trouble with a couple of them sticking but I think it might have been this new 100% recycled foil I bought.  Nice idea but it didn't really behave the way I'm used to.  Also, I have a small oven so I used two baking sheets and kept changing their rack position back and forth.  In the end I managed to get them all on one sheet which is how I should have started.  It's not a bad idea to keep an eye on them though because ovens can vary.  I use fat free mayonnaise and it worked just fine.  We topped these with a little mayo mixed with dried dill and fresh lemon juice.  
My dear husband keeps reminding us that it is Father's Day Eve so the house is all aflutter.  We are going on a vizsla group walk in the morning at Ft. Funston (check out the link - this guy has amazing pictures).  We don't go on these very often because we have such great place to walk right near our house but we are giving it a go tomorrow.  It is a lot of fun (especially for the dogs) but for me it's like going on a field trip with a bunch of 4 year olds who all look exactly like your kid - nervewracking!  But as they say, a tired dog is a good dog so it will give us a great start to the week!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Terra Bella Family Farm CSA: week three

Once again, our household was so excited about the baked goods in our CSA - this week a beautiful herbed batard.    The share this week included:

Loose leaf lettuce
Chard or Bok Choi
Summer Squash
White garlic
Sweet and Sour plums
nectarines and apriums
the awesome bread

I decided to use the sweet and sour plums the day we got them. I had a feeling they might get lost in the fridge amongst the other fruit - they are small and they have pits - so it's a bit more work than eating an apple :-)  

Since I just had one basket of the plums, I didn't have enough to make a tart or this plum galette I posted about before.  So I decided little individual baking cups with just the fruit, a little sugar and a crumbly topping would be just the thing.

Sweet and Sour Plum Crumble

1 basket sweet and sour plums - cut off the pit (yield 1 2/3 cup fruit)
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
6 gingersnaps
whipped cream

Mix the fruit with the brown sugar and almond extract.  Distribute evenly in 4 ramekins.  Crush the gingersnaps with a rolling pin and distribute evenly on the 4 baking dishes. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until hot and bubbly.  

We had ours topped with whipped cream though a bit of frozen yogurt would have been good too. Let me tell you - these babies were really sour!  But I liked the sourness and didn't want to load these up with sugar. We rarely have dessert unless we are having company so it was a fun middle of the week treat and a happy beginning to a new week of CSA goodness!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Grilled Potato, Eggplant and Rosemary Salad

It was a scorcher this weekend - close to 100 degrees.  Yesterday was one of those days where everything moved in slow motion - including me.  I finally made it to the market and came home with plans to do some grilling.  And then of course the propane tank was empty.  ugh.  So off to the gas station to get it filled and then, finally, I got our dinner going.

I had a beautiful bunch of rosemary from our CSA so I grabbed several stems and tossed the rosemary with some russet potatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper.

I put these on a grill pan on the gas grill and cooked them over low heat.  Sometimes I'll lay the potatoes out very neatly and turn them evenly (because I am a Virgo and those kinds of things make me happy) but today just wasn't one of those days - so on the grill they went in a messy jumble

I checked them every few minutes and tossed them around with tongs.  They were ready after about 15 minutes

These went into a large bowl and were splashed with some rice vinegar.  Next on the grill was one eggplant, sliced into rounds and a large red onion, cut into slices.  All brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper.  The eggplant and onions were on the grill a little longer, 20-25 minutes.
Before adding these to the salad bowl I cut up the eggplant rounds into smaller pieces, the onions I just left in rings.  I added about a 1/2 cup of chopped Italian parsley, a few more splashes of rice vinegar and some salt and pepper.  We ate this at room (outdoor?) temperature along with veggie burgers and watermelon.  By our (late) dinner time, the temperature was much more comfortable and it was a perfect night for eating outside.  It was also a perfect night to light up the fire pit and make s'mores!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Baked falafel pita with scape and mint yogurt sauce

Looking for a good use for the onion scapes we received in our CSA box, I decided to make some falafel for dinner the other night.  I wanted to use the scapes in both the falafel and in a yogurt sauce to go on top.  There are a lot of recipes out there for the traditional fried falafel but I really wanted to make ones that I could bake instead.  My best friend made the ones from the Whole Foods Cookbook once and we're not sure what happened but they were deemed to  be "Awful Falafel" - but I still used that recipe as a guide, as well as the recipe from Mark Bittmann's How To Cook Everything.  This what I came up with - they were really quite good:

Baked Falafel

2 slices wheat bread, well toasted (or ~1/2 cup breadcrumbs)
2 cloves garlic (I used the CSA garlic)
1 cup sliced scapes
1/2 large bunch Italian flat leaf parsley
1 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
olive oil spray for pan

Scape and Mint Yogurt Sauce

18 oz plain fat free yogurt
1/2 cup chopped onion scapes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place the two slices of toasted bread in the food processor and pulse to make bread crumbs.  Next add garlic and scapes and pulse until well chopped.  Add parsley and seasonings and pulse until combined.  Next add lemon juice, olive oil and garbanzo beans and pulse until it is well blended. 
 Refrigerate for awhile to firm up.  Using a small cookie scooper, scoop out falafel mix onto a cookie sheet that has been lined with foil and sprayed with olive oil (I got 15 out of this recipe).  Spray the tops of the falafel with olive oil.

Bake for 30 minutes, turning the falafel over halfway through. 

Serve in whole wheat pita with lettuce, tomato, avocado and yogurt sauce.  These would have been awesome with a bit of feta cheese as well but I didn't have any on hand.  Next time!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Tomato, Mozzarella and Pesto Panini with Kale Chips

The bread we got in our CSA yesterday looked and smelled wonderful.  We chose one with an abundance of salt on the crust because, well... why not?  I was considering cooking some pasta last night to toss with the rest of the collard green pesto and serving the bread along side.  But we decided this was bit too carb intensive so I went for something cheesy and melty instead.  I sliced the bread and added the collard green pesto, fresh mozzarella, sliced tomatoes and fresh basil.  This bread made, hands down, the best panini I've ever had.  It would be worth the drive to Pleasanton to pick up another loaf...seriously, it was amazing.

Since we also got some kale in the box I decided to make some kale "chips" to go along side.  These aren't pretty but I did photograph them anyway.  They are a great way to satisfy that desire for a salty, crunchy go along with a sandwich without any guilt.  First you wash and spin dry the kale, remove the stems and tear the leaves into small pieces.  Spread it out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and spray with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt.  I've also made these sprinkled with nutritional yeast which is nice too.
Bake in a 350-400 degree oven for about 5 minutes.  Check them frequently as they go from not quite ready to burned very quickly.   

They will darken and get crispy and are not very pretty but they taste really good!  Sometimes you have to remove the ones from the outer edges as they get cooked before the rest of pieces.  So it does need fair amount of attention but only for a few minutes and it's worth it for some guilt free snacking!

Terra Bella Family Farm CSA: week two

Yesterday was pick up day for our CSA.  In the box for week number two:

1 basket of strawberries
1 bunch kale
1 bunch onion scapes
1 bag loose leaf lettuce
1 head garlic
1 bunch herbs (I chose rosemary)
4 pounds mixed fruit (choice of white nectarines, Flavor Royal pluots and Lorena apriums)
1 herb focaccia bread

I was really excited about the fruit because we are a fruit-intensive household.  Don't get me wrong, we eat a lot of vegetables.  But it is difficult to keep the fruit bowl full around here.  Add in two dogs who also love fruit (you should see them when I come in the door with a watermelon - they go nuts) - I really should  be shopping every day.  I was able to fill the fruit bowl with nectarines and pluots and still have a bunch in a bag in the fridge to bring out as the others ripen.  Our own nectarine tree is ripening and some of our mulberries are beginning to get some color as well.  Our poor mulberry tree had a rough beginning in our yard.  It sat in the crate for several weeks before it was planted and then after its first year we moved it to another spot in the yard.  For awhile there it didn't look like it would make it.  But it has done quite well in its current location.

There's been a lot of wildlife spottings around here as well, hubby said that Bella and Renzo cornered a fox on their walk the other day and then came across a woman  and her dog - pretty much glued to her spot on the trail because there was a snake.  She was sure it was a rattlesnake.  Great - very glad I wasn't there for that encounter. Also spotted two very young black tail deer in a neighbor's front yard - I was relieved when their mommy came out from behind a tree and escorted them safely up the hill. Yesterday out of the corner of my eye I saw a scurry across the yard and then suddenly up on the fence were these two quails.  Luckily they cooperated for a photo :-)

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Baghali Polo (Persian Rice with Dill and Fava Beans)

I knew as soon as I saw fava beans on the CSA list that I would be making this rice dish.  I toyed with the idea of using them in a salad instead but this Persian rice dish is a favorite in our household and since the weather had cooled down a bit yesterday it was a good day for cooking.   It makes a lot but most Persian food is a bit time consuming and not really worth making a scaled down version - we'll just get several meals out of it!

Baghali Polo

3 cups basmati rice
2 lbs. fresh fava beans
1 large bunch fresh dill, removed from stems and chopped
2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 package vegetarian "beef strips" (I used Trader Joe's) cut into smaller chunks
olive oil
salt, pinch of saffron threads

First rinse the rice in a large bowl until the water runs clear.  Then cover the rice with water and some salt (~1 tablespoon) and let it soak (it can soak for several hours so you can do this early in the day if you prefer).  For the fava beans, steam them in their pods for about 10 minutes and then run cold water over them.  

Once they are cool enough to handle, removed them from the pods and then remove the skins from each bean.  Put a large pot of water on to boil.  Once the water is boiling, pour the water out of the rice and add the soaked rice to the boiling water.  Stir to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom.  You'll boil the rice for about 6 minutes.  It should still be firm on the inside - sort of al dente but rice-style!  Before you drain the rice, skim some of the rice water off the top - about 1/3 cup and add the saffron threads to the water.   Drain the rice in the sink and run cold water over it to stop the cooking.  Let it drain completely.  In the meantime, saute the onions in some olive oil until they are tender (if you get a Skype call from your best friend during this, saute them until they are well browned).  Add the veggie beef strips and cook until they are heated through.  In the same pot you cooked the rice in, add about 1 tablespoon olive oil to the bottom of the pot.  Next, using a small strainer, pour about 1/2 the saffron liquid into the pot and swirl the pot to blend the water and olive oil.  

Spoon about 1/4 of the rice into the bottom of the pot.  Next add 1/2 the onion/veggie strip mixture, half the fava beans and half the chopped dill and spread evenly on top of the rice.  Repeat with another layer of rice, onion mixture, beans and dill and finally top with the last 1/4 of the rice.  You want it to be sort of mounded and not level.  Using the handle of a wooden spoon, poke some holes through the rice to the bottom of the pot and then pour the remaining saffron liquid over the top making sure some goes through the holes.

This will be steamed for about an hour.  To prevent any moisture that gathers on the lid dripping into the rice and making it soggy, you'll want to cover your lid with a clean dish towel before putting it securely on the pot. 

Cook for about 10 minutes over a medium - medium/high heat (depends on your stove).  After ten minutes turn the heat down to low and continue cooking for another 50 minutes.  This can be unattended but you want to make sure it doesn't burn.  The goal is to get the browned, crusty rice on the bottom which is known as tahdig (or the best part that everyone fights over).  

I will admit that I don't always get a perfect tahdig but the blogging gods were on my side because last night it was perfect and came out in one piece.  And since tahdig is really only good straight out of the pot and there were just three of us, we definitely got our fill!  We always serve plain yogurt to go along with these polo dishes.  I'm happy to say that we used up every single item we got from the CSA over the course of the week and am on my way out the door to pick up this week's box!