Garden Pesto

Happy Monday!  I mentioned in my last post that PJ had started a garden in our little back patio.  Since I’ve managed to kill off every basil plant I’ve ever owned, I’m glad to have his green thumb.  Here’s a view of our garden (and PJ).  There’s a mystery plant in that concrete planter in the  back corner!  It’s growing super quickly, you can see how high it is getting.  PJ thinks that it is rhubarb.

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So far, the basil and parsley plants are ready to be used.  Last night, I made a rough pesto that I put over pearl couscous.  It’s a bigger grain than regular couscous, but I think that it’s more delicious.  I thought that it came out very good—and was great again for lunch today!

20130506-172500.jpgGarden Pesto

1) Cook couscous according to package directions.

2) In a food processor, combine a handful of fresh parsley and basil, 2 tablespoons thyme leaves, and 2 garlic cloves.

3) Once it is roughly chopped, add 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

4) Combine with cooked couscous.  Top if grated cheese if desired.

Source: Adapted from Giada’s Kitchen

Now that we have a street-level door, this is the view people see when they walk by my house.

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What to do with the very last of the tomatoes…

I realize that it’s mid-October and I should have posted these tomato recipes earlier in the summer.  I should probably be posting some sort of pumpkin spice something.  But, I got one last delivery of tomatoes in the farm share not too long ago, so here are a few things to do with the very last of the tomatoes.

First, roasted tomatoes.  I kept seeing these mentioned all over the place this summer and finally decided to try them.  Basically, you slice tomatoes and mix with some olive oil, salt, pepper and a little sugar.  Bake at 350 till they are nearly carmelizing at the edges.  Delicious.

One possible use for roasted tomatoes is in an easy salad for lunch for dinner.  The following recipe uses soba noodles, which are another new discovery of mine.  They are made from buckwheat flour, and are pretty tasty.  This salad could use a whole variety of vegetables, whatever you have in stock.  I think that the addition of chickpeas adds some protein, which I for one, definitely don’t do a very good job of eating enough.  Enjoy!  And thanks for reading.

Directions

Combine:

  • cherry tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic, finely diced
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 2 tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • soba noodles, cooked per package directions
  • sprinkling of thyme
  • fresh basil leaves
  • Parmesan cheese to serve

Source: A Couple of Cooks

How cozy does this kitten look!  Quite the life.

Tomato Cobbler

I’ve probably had this recipe saved for about a year…..just waiting for tomato season!  If you haven’t been able to tell by now, I love biscuits, so any excuse to combine biscuits with a vegetable and call it dinner/lunch, seems like a great idea to me.  These cherry tomatoes  came in my farm share box the other week, so it seemed like the perfect time to try the recipe.  The original recipe called for gruyere cheese in the biscuit topping, but since I wanted PJ to try these, I had to leave the cheese out.  Either way—they were worth the wait.   The caramelized onions especially added a tasty touch to the roasted tomatoes.  Enjoy!  And thanks for reading.

Ingredients
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp thyme
2-3 lbs cherry or grape tomatoes
3 tbsp all-purpose flower
salt and pepper

For the biscuits–
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp  salt
8 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 cup grated gruyere cheese (I had to omit)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (I used whole milk)

Directions

1. In a large skillet, combine the oil and butter over medium heat.  Add the onions and let them cook down and caramelize—about 20-25 minutes.  Stir occasionally.

2. When they are caramelized, add the garlic and thyme and cook about 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool.

3.  When they are cool, combine the onion mixture, tomatoes, flour, salt and pepper.  Set aside while you prepare the biscuit topping.

4.  For the biscuit topping–combine the flour, baking power and salt.  Add the cold, cubed butter—either use a food processor or use your hands to break up the butter into small pieces.   Add the cheese (if using) and pour the cream in.  Mix the cream into the dry ingredients to make a soft dough.

5.  Pour the tomato mixture into a 9 x 13 in. baking dish.  Using a large spoon, scoop the biscuit dough into clumps on top.  Bake at 375 for about one hour and 10 minutes.  The tomatoes will be bubbling and the biscuits are golden.  Let cool.

Source: Annie’s Eats

Someone else has been waiting forever to try this too….

Greek Panzanella

I made this for the first time last summer and have been waiting all year for fresh tomatoes to make it again.  It’s really delicious and very summery.  One of the nicest things about this recipe is that you can use whatever vegetables you have on hand (i.e. whatever showed up in your farm share that week!).  My favorite part are the cubes of bread—definitely don’t skimp on these.  If I was left up to my own devices I would probably just soak the bread in the dressing, but alas, a girl should probably eat her vegetables.  Enjoy!  And thanks for reading.

Ingredients
3 cups (or so) diced bread
1 cucumber/zucchini/squash, diced
1 or 2 peppers, diced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced.
2 tsp. minced garlic (2 cloves)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
feta cheese
olives (I omitted)

Directions
1.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  When it’s hot, add the diced bread and season with salt and pepper.  Stirring frequently, toast the bread till it’s browned, about 5-10 minutes.  Let cool.

2. Combine the cucumber, peppers, tomatoes and red onion.

3.  In a small container, whisk together the garlic, red wine vinegar, oregano, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper to taste.  While whisking, add the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil.  (If this seems like it would be a lot of dressing for your veggies, you could cut it in half).

4.  Add the feta, olives and bread to the vegetables.  Pour the vinaigrette over the top and mix to combine.  Let it rest for about 30 minutes to let all the flavors develop.

It lasts for a while, so it’s good to enjoy for lunch.

Source: Barefoot Contessa: How Easy is That?

 

Also, if anyone is in the Baltimore area and is looking to adopt a cat, I discovered this cat rescue over the weekend: Lucky Cat Rescue

They seems like a really well-run organization and have many pretty kittens and cats up for adoption.  They are also looking for volunteers to foster cats.  If you are interested–please check them out!

Everyone should be as lucky as this cat with her very own fort!

 

 

An Attempt at Pierogi’s

I saw this recipe a while ago and bookmarked it, thinking that it would be fun to try for an anniversary dinner.  It seemed like too much work for just one night, so I made the dough and the stuffing the night before I wanted to serve the dish.  Overall, we enjoyed it.   I thought it was a fun new recipe to try.   Since a certain someone can’t eat cheese, I had to leave the cheese out, but I would definitely recommend that you include it.   The next time I made them, I would also fry them in the pan for a little longer to get more of a golden brown color.  I think I was a tad too impatient.  Enjoy!  And thank you for reading.

Ingredients

Dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4-6 tablespoons cold water
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, for frying the pierogi

Onions
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 large onion, sliced thinly

Stuffing
1 medium russet potato, peeled and sliced 3/4-inch thick
Salt
1/2 cup reserved caramelized onions, chopped
3/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Ground black pepper

1. To make the dough, combine the flour and salt in a food processor.  While it is running, add the whole egg, egg yolk and vegetable oil.  Combine well.

2. Also with the machine running, add the water (only about a tablespoon at a time), until a dough ball is formed.

3. Put the dough ball on a lightly floured counter and knead for about 2 minutes.  Wrap very well in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use (I left mine overnight.  I let it come to room temperature before using it the next day).

4. I also made the stuffing and onions the day before I made the dish.  For the onions, start by melting the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat.  (You can also start step 7 at this time, as illustrated below).

5. Add the onions and salt and cook until the onions are brown and soft.  (About 15-20 minutes).  It will smell delicious.

6. When the onions are done, chop enough so that you have about 1/2 cup for the stuffing.

7. To make the rest of the stuffing, cover the chopped potato with salted water in a saucepan.

8. Boil the water and let simmer until the potato is tender.  (About 10-12 minutes).  Drain the water off in a colander and put the potato back in the pan.

9. With a potato masher, mash the potatoes until smooth.  Add the 1/2 cup of caramelized onions, cheese and butter and stir until well-combined.  Season with salt and pepper.  I refrigerated this stuffing overnight.

10.  When you are ready to make the dish, take the room-temperature dough and divide into two pieces.  Cover one piece with plastic wrap.

11. Roll the other piece out onto a lightly floured surface until it is very thin (about 1/16 an inch.  Although I never actually measure that.  Just make it thin).

12. With a round cutter, cut out 3 in. circles of dough and place onto a floured cookie sheet (or any large floured surface).  The dough was very springy and my circles were definitely not perfect circles.  Just do your best and stretch them out a little with your hands if needed.

13.  Repeat with the other piece of dough.

14.  When you have all your dough circles cut out, place about 1 tsp. of stuffing into the center of each circle.  With wet fingers (dip into a glass of water, you probably don’t want to lick them 😉 ), moisten the outer circle of the dough and fold over to make a half moon shape.  Crimp the edges with a fork to seal.

15.  Keep each filled piergoi most with a wet towel while you are filling the rest.  (If you want to freeze some, do so at this point).

16. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil (like a large saucepan).  Add half of the filled pierogi and cook until al dente, about 5-6 minutes.

17. Remove with a slotted spoon to a colander.  Repeat with the other half of pierogi’s.

18. Melt two tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan.  Add a small batch of the boiled pierogi.  Cook until golden brown on each side (about 1-2 minutes).  Repeat with entire batch.

19. To serve, sprinkle with the rest of the carmelized onions and sour cream (if wanted).

From the Curvy Carrot.  Originally slightly adapted from Cook’s Illustrated: The Best International Recipe.

 

Someone else was being very helpful during this process…..

Spring Asparagus Soup

Spring is upon us in Baltimore!  I know that this is the season when I should be roasting asparagus for every meal, but, my confession is that I don’t love asparagus.  I decided to try this asparagus soup to see if I would like it in a new way.  Even though it looks like pea soup, I enjoyed it!  Very light and tasty.  It was one of the first times I’ve made soup, and this recipe was a manageable one.  If you are looking for a way to embrace spring, here’s one idea.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1 lb. asparagus
salt and pepper
1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs. butter
1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, washed and sliced into 1 inch chunks
1/2 medium white onion, thinly sliced
1 large shallot, sliced (I omitted, couldn’t find one at the farmer’s market)
1 garlic clove, sliced

Directions:
1. With a vegetable peeler, peel the outer layer of the asparagus, starting about an inch from the top.  Keep all of the peelings.

2. When all the asparagus are peeled, cut off the ends of each stalk.  Add those ends to your collection of peelings.  Wrap the peelings and the ends in a piece of cheesecloth.  Tie it up into a little bundle with some string or ribbon.

(note: cheesecloth is pretty cheap from the supermarket)

3. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.   When it’s boiling, put in the asparagus and your cheesecloth bundle.  Let cook for 4 minutes before removing the asparagus to a colander.  Rise with cold water and add several ice cubes to it.  Toss the cheesecloth bundle, but reserve 3-4 cups of the cooking liquid.

4. Dry the pot and add the olive oil and butter.  Under low heat, add the leeks, onion, shallot and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper and toss around until everything is covered with the butter and oil.

5. Cover the pot and cook for about 15 minutes, until everything is softened.

6. Add the 3-4 cups of reserved cooking liquid.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes.

7. Add the asparagus and simmer for 5 more minutes, uncovered.

8. In batches, puree with soup in a blender or food processor.  (Or use an immersion blender, if you have one).  Season for taste with salt and pepper.

Even the cat was curious.  Also, I discovered that picassa can add fun features to pictures, I’ll try not to get too crazy with it……….

Source: Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table.  (a beautiful cookbook, fyi).

Veggie Pot Pie

I thought this recipe was especially interesting because it uses cornmeal in the biscuit topping.  It definitely gives it a little more of a sweet flavor.  The other nice thing about this recipe is that there is a lot of flexibility in what vegetables you can add to it.  I used kale, but I’m pretty sure you could substitute any other leafy green.  The original recipe also called for parsnips, but I wasn’t quite brave enough.  Perhaps you will be.   It makes quite a bit, so I enjoyed it all week for dinner/lunch.

Ingredients:

2-3 carrots, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
Small bunch of kale (or other leafy green), about 2 cups chopped
8 ounces of mushrooms, slided
2 cloves of garlic, diced
2 tablespoons of flour
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (I only had red wine vinegar, and it was fine)
1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
3 cups vegetable broth (I used chicken)
1 can cannellini or red beans (I omitted, it didn’t seem like there was enough room in my pan)

For the topping:

3/4 cup white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
6 tablespoons cornmeal
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter (softened)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (I also omitted because I didn’t have any).
1/2 cup buttermilk (I substituted 1/2 cup milk with 1/2 tablespoon of vinegar)

1. In a large skillet, add 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Add the carrots, onion, mushroom and kale.  Season with salt and pepper.  Saute till the onion turns translucent, about 5-7 minutes.

2. Add the garlic and saute for another 30 seconds.  Add the flour and cook for another minute.  Stir in the white/red wine vinegar, soy sauce, tomato paste and thyme.  Cook for another minute.   Stir in the vegetable broth (I definitely used less than the 3 cups, add as much as it seems like is necessary).

3. Lower the heat and simmer for about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens.  I added a little bit of cornstarch to make it thicken even more.  If you are using beans, you can add them now.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine white flour, whole wheat flour, cornmeal, baking power and salt.  Stir in butter and cheese to combine.  Then add in buttermilk until a dough forms.  Knead a little bit with your hands to combine all the ingredients and form a ball of dough.

5. When the vegetable sauce is thickened,pour into a baking pan.  Place scoops of dough on the top.

6. Bake about 30 minutes at 400 degrees, until the ball of dough are lightly browned.  Let cool before serving.

Source: A Couple of Cooks