Thursday, July 21, 2011

All About the Tomatoes

In the 90s and climbing here in Cambridge, and what am I doing - making dinner in the oven??  I know, crazy, but the nice thing about pizza is that you don't have to be in the kitchen while the oven is on very much, and that's more appealing than standing over a stovetop (and we don't have a grill).  Plus, pizza is a great showcase for summer's sweetest bounty - fresh tomatoes.

Pesto and Fresh Tomato Pizza

1 pound pizza dough (I used the multigrain from Whole Foods)
Fresh Pesto (recipe below)
shredded parmesan
fresh mozzarella
olive oil
1/2 large heirloom tomato (I like the yellow ones because they're pretty)

Let pizza dough rise.  Oil a sheet pan with olive oil and spread out dough (I make a freeform pizza, my mom has round pans and does round ones).  Spread pesto liberally over dough.  Add thinly sliced tomato, salt, pepper, a sprinkle of parmesan, and either sliced or torn fresh mozzrella.  Bake at 425 until crispy and golden and cheese is melted.  I like my pizza best at room temperature.

Fresh Pesto on a Budget

1 large bunch basil
handful sliced blanched almonds (traditionally, pesto calls for pine nuts, but they've been too expensive lately)
handful parmesan
olive oil (I used the beautiful olive oil I got last week)
1 large clove garlic

In a food processor, add basil leaves and garlic and pulse.  Add almonds and pulse some more.  Turn processor to on and stream in olive oil until the mixture comes together and looks like pesto :)  I like mine on the thick side, some people like it thinner - it's up to you!

And, in continued celebration of the tomato, I also made some Panzanella for tomorrow.

Panzanella Salad

Cubed day old bread (I used the fabulous cheddar pepper bread from Hi-Rise that I get at the Charles Square Farmers Market)
Leftover Fresh Tomato Salad
olive oil
red wine vinegar
heirloom tomatoes

Toss bread cubes with olive oil.  Add leftover tomato salad, or fresh tomatoes, or a combination of the two - which is what I used today - some leftover salad, and the other 1/2 of the yellow tomato from the pizza, and a few stray cherry tomatoes that needed a home.  Salt and pepper.  Add a splash of red wine vinegar (more if you didn't have the leftover salad).  Best if served after sitting for a few hours or overnight.


Purveyors of fine heirloom tomatoes - Kimball Fruit Farm
Hi-Rise Bread Company
Charles Square Farmers Market
Whole Foods - Fresh Pond

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Quinoa Experiment

Okay, so today's recipe is less local and farmer's market, and more it's really hot and I need to make something easy that won't take a lot of pots and pans and flames and hotness.  I also have had a box of quinoa in the pantry taunting me with how it's good for me and I haven't done anything with it yet.  So, I googled recipes with quinoa, and as always, read a bunch and made my own hybrid.  This may be the first in a series of experiements.

Curry Quinoa with Mango

quinoa (I used 1/2 cup b/c there's 2 of us - if you have a larger family/party, use more)
chicken stock - 1 cup (2 parts stock or water to 1 part quinoa - to make vegetarian, use water or veg stock)
handful mixed dried fruit (the mix I have is raisins, golden raisins, dried cherries and dried cranberries)
about a cup (I didn't measure) chopped mango (okay, it's not local, but mine was organic)
1/4 onion, diced
handful cashews (or your nut of choice, or no nuts if you're allergic)
curry powder
onion powder
garlic powder

If you're hardcore, you can mix your own curry blend - I'm not there yet.

In a medium sized pot, add quinoa, stock, onion powder, garlic powder and curry powder - I eyeball it, it's probably a tsp or so of the onion and garlic, a little more of the curry.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce to simmer.  Add dried fruit.  Simmer, covered, until most of the water is absorbed (about 10 minutes).  Add onions, mango, stir and simmer another minute or two.  Add nuts.  Serve immediately, or cover and serve at room temp when ready.

For me, in this weather, this is an entree, but it could certainly be a side dish.  I think it would go very well with chicken or pork, or you could brown and season some tofu or paneer and add it in.  You could probably use frozen mango if you don't have fresh, but I'd thaw and drain it first so it doesn't make the dish watery.


In my recipe explorations, I use two sites primarily:

All Recipes
Food Network

Sometimes I just google ingredients and see what I get, though.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Too darn hot to sing while cooking!

But here's the menu from tonight :)

Perfect Pork Cutlets

organic pork cutlets (or whatever grass-fed, friendly ones you can find)
kosher salt
brown sugar
black peppercorns
bread crumbs
olive oil

In a medium sized pot, boil 1-2 cups water with a generous amount of salt and brown sugar, a dollop of molasses, and some black peppercorns.  stir occasionally until salt and sugar are dissolved.  pour into a large, preferably shallow dish, and add ice cubes (about a dozen or so).  stir until melted.  let cool to room temperature.  add pork cutlets and marinate for 1-2 hours.

in a skillet, heat a few tsp of olive oil.  dredge marinated cutlets in bread crumbs (seasoned or unseasoned, your choice, i used a mixture).  cook until brown and cooked through ( a few minutes on each side, tops, these are THIN).

Stir Fried Spicy Green Beans

Garlic and Goat Cheese Smashed Potatoes
small red or yukon gold potatoes (organic if you can get them), roughly chopped in equal sized pieces
1 large or 2 small cloves garlic
light cream
goat cheese (i used chive goat cheese from a local vendor)

chop potatoes and peel garlic and cover with cold water in a pot.  cover until boiling.  salt water generously when it begins to boil, and cook potatoes until fork tender.  drain and return to pot (including garlic clove).  add a generous splash of cream (you could use milk) and a knob of goat cheese (maybe 1 to 1.5 inches of the log).  mash to your desired consistency.


Mass Farmers Markets

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Little Touch of Summer Goodness

No music today, I made my snack during halftime of the women's world cup final.  But here's a sweet summer treat for the abundant berry harvest:

Mixed Berry Smoothie

handful  raspberries
handful blueberries
a few frozen strawberries (purchased fresh at the farmer's market when they were in season, and hulled and frozen at their peak)
1 container whole milk yogurt (I used Brown Cow in Maple)
a few tsp. ground flaxseeds

Blend fruit in blender or food processor until broken down.  Add flaxseed and yogurt and blend until smooth. Using frozen strawberries means no ice needed.  I hate bananas, and this is thick and creamy without them :)


Brown Cow Farm
Mass Farmers Markets

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Farmer's Market Triumph

Beautiful family farmed cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil.  It's so yummy.

I've started to value that I end up going to a  different farmer's market each week because of my schedule.  The variety of vendors means that I come home one week with goat cheese, another with local beef, another with fresh mozzarella, another with olive oil, and so on.  I'm so lucky to have so many options!

Hope to post a real entry, with recipes, soon!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Farmer's Market Season is in Full Swing

Charles Square Farmers Market, Friday 12:30 pm

1 pint raspberries
1 pint blackberries
1 giant bunch basil
1 green zucchini
1 yellow zucchini
1 loaf cheddar-pepper bread
assorted heirloom tomatoes
3 peaches
1 cucumber
1 bunch garlic
3 yellow squash
4 ears corn
green beans

Here's the breakdown so far:

Last night's dinner - 2 ears of corn with a burger served on cheddar pepper bread instead of a bun and raspberries for dessert
This morning's breakfast - beautiful slices of plum tomato on a bacon and egg sandwich on cheddar pepper bread
Prepared for later - simple panzanella of cheddar pepper bread torn into 1 inch chunks, 1 red and 1 yellow tomato, red wine vinegar, basil, and olive oil

Next up:

Fresh Tomato Salad

Planned for later:

Stir Fried Spicy Green Beans

green beans
sesame oil
red chili flakes
canola oil or other light oil (peanut, sunflower, etc)

Boil a large pot of water and blanch green beans just barely.  Drain.  Heat canola oil in a large pan or wok until shimmering.  Add 1-2 cloves of crushed garlic, and a generous pinch of red chili flakes.  Add green beans and sesame oil.  Cook until tender and fragrant.  Serve with your favorite protein (I like to serve with some sweet and spicy tofu)!

And of course, with the giant bunch of basil, I'll be making some pesto.

My tomatoes have sprouted on the windowsill and survived the heat wave.  Maybe this summer I'll have tomatoes of my own!


No music while I was cooking - in this heat, I want out of the kitchen as fast as possible, no matter how yummy the food. But the Spring Awakening soundtrack is on repeat in my head!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Monday Night Dinner Feels Like the Weekend

Stuffed Chicken Breats with Apple-Beer Gravy and Garlic Smashed Potatoes

Chicken and Sauce

chicken breast (see previous post about humane, happy chickens)
stuffing mix (choose your favorite, I used Pepperidge Farms)
olive oil
1 cup chopped apples
1/3 cup chopped onion
(I admit that I didn't measure either, these are eyeball estimates)
1 beer (I used Blue Moon Belgian White...use whatever you have as long as it's not frat party beer)

Pound chicken breast(s) until about half the original thickness.  Slit with a sharp knife to create a pocket for stuffing.  Make stuffing by package directions (I subbed olive oil for the butter, and added salt and pepper).  Stuff chicken breasts with stuffing (I know, I know...this is the same ongoing debate as with stuffing a turkey...make your own judgements, but I think it's yummy). 

Heat a large pan and coat lightly with olive oil.  Brown chicken on one side.  Turn, and add chopped onion and apple to pan as you brown the 2nd side.  Add salt and pepper.  Once cooked most of the way through, add about 1/2 a beer and put in the oven at 375 until cooked through.

Once chicken is cooked through, remove from pan and return pan to heat.  Add a little flour and a little more beer until sauce reaches your desired consistency. 

Garlic Smashed Potatoes


Chop several small, thin skinned potatoes (I used about half the package of that mixed red, gold and purple potato medley).  Cover with cold water and bring to a boil.  Add salt to water and cook until fork tender.  Drain and return to pan.  Add a couple of tablespoons of butter, 2 (or more) cloves of crushed or chopped garlic, and a splash of milk.  Mash until your desired consistency.

No singing today, but a quick note to say that I just discovered Children of Eden (how a Godspell lover like myself can have known this existed and not owned it before now is beyond me!) and it's fabulous!


Blue Moon
Children of Eden