Tuesday, March 31, 2009

CSA week 17 - Hindbeh bil zayt and mooli paratha

No surprise here; This is just what I said I'd make--Lebanese sautéed dandelion greens and Punjabi daikon-stuffed flatbread. To complete the pan-nationality, I ate them with a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Dandelion greens first. If you followed the link I posted in the week start-up post you saw a lot of variations on a simple recipe. What I did fell in that zone.

100 grams (one share) dandelion greens
1 handful mixed parsley and cilantro leaves, chopped
2 cloves garlic, slivered
1/4 red onion, sliced thin
olive oil
baking soda
lemon juice

1. Wash the dandelion greens and chop however you'd like. Or don't. I chopped them in thirds. Boil water in a medium pot. Add a pinch of baking soda and the dandelion greens. Simmer 5 minutes. Drain, rinse in cold water and squeeze dry.

2. Fry onion and garlic over medium low heat in a judicious amount of olive oil until they just start to turn golden. Remove half. Add dandelion greens, herbs and salt to pan and cook five minutes. [Some recipes call for cooking the dandelion for 15 minutes before adding the herbs, but I found that they were already fully cooked after the simmering so I didn't see any point.] Remove to bowl and keep warm.

3. Return reserved onion and garlic to pan and either turn heat up to get them crisp or turn it down to get them deeply caramelized. Either way, top the dandelion with them and a squeeze of lemon.

As you can probably tell from the picture, this is spectacularly flavorful, but I'm really not sure if the dandelion has anything to do with it. Yes, you can taste greens in the mix, and they're particularly yummy greens, but I don't know if that's natural to the dandelion or due to the cooking method. Only way to tell is to cook up every green in the house this way and compare the results which sounds like a pretty good plan to me.

Fair warning, the dandelion cooks down to not a whole lot and you won't want to share.

And now the daikon.

I used this recipe from recipezaar:

Daikon Radish Stuffed Flatbread/Mooli Paratha Recipe #105155

Delicious stuffed parathas make a wonderful heavy breakfast or brunch. These are good make aheads which you can wrap in some foil wrap and take to a picnic.Good to eat in the car as well no mess. Rather than drink soda or juice with this, you can have lassi which is yogurt thinned with water or milk(blend them well to make thickish smoothie type mix) to which you add sugar or honey to taste. Totally delish.
by ladyinred

55 min | 30 min prep


* 2 cups wheat flour, add to this
* salt
* 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
* 1/2 teaspoon jeera powder (cuminseed)
* 2 tablespoons oil
* water, from the grated radish,for kneading the dough (will be explained below) [I got about a quarter cup from the daikon and added a bit more than quarter cup more to get a nicely kneadable dough.]


* 1 medium diakon radish, grated (after grating squeeze out the water/juice, use it for kneading dough)
* 1/2 teaspoon ajwain (available from indian stores) (optional) [This, according to indianfood.about.com, tastes like thyme. I used za'atar instead.]
* 1/4 turmeric powder
* 1/2 teaspoon jeera powder
* 1/2 onion, grated,juice squeezed out discard this [I used the bottom of the spring onion]
* salt
* 1/4 chili powder
* 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, finely chopped [I increased the amount and used half parsley]
[ * 1 hot pepper, seeded and finely diced]
* oil (for frying)

1. Make up the dough using the water (as much as you need from the radish) Discard any left over water.
2. Leave the dough covered in a warm place to rest for half an hour.
3. Add salt to the grated radish.
4. After 15 mins squeeze out more water and discard this.
5. Then to the dry grated radish add the rest of the filling mix.
6. now make small balls of the dough a little bigger than an egg.
7. Flatten them out, dip in dry flour and roll them out using a rolling pin to a teacup saucer size.
8. Make smaller balls of the filling mix about the size of an egg yolk and place each filling ball in the center of the dough saucer.
9. Gather the rest of the dough around it so that the dough completely covers the filling.
10. Dip it in dry flour and roll it out again this time bigger than a saucer.
11. Heat a tsp of oil in the frying pan.
12. Add the bread and shallow fry on each side until brown spots appear.

I found the initial rolling and filling rather easy, although the envelope fold I used made the paratha turn out rectangular. Rolling the filled dough out was a little trickier to do without creating small tears and squishing a little filling out. Although the filling when I scooped it was dry, some liquid appeared from nowhere to squirt out onto the cutting board. The final size was a little smaller and a little thicker than I expected.

I fried the bread two minutes on the first side, poured a little olive oil on it before the flip, and then a minute or two on the other. I had some trouble keeping the pan temperature steady as I fried one at a time so I had some mixed results. I think my very first one turned out the best. Probably a good idea to brush off the extra flour better than I did.

As for the flavor, yeah, this tastes like the stuffed bread you get in Indian restaurants so not bad at all. I was afraid that with the chili, cumin and cilantro it would end up tasting Southwestern, but you can kind of get that, but the flavor of the daikon brings it back to Asia. It isn't strong and it isn't readily recognizable, but it's definitely there.

The paratha wasn't a bad match with the dandelion, but that was so good I just wanted to eat it straight. It would be pretty good with the Indian callaloo dish I made last week, I think, or chicken tikka.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

CSA week 16 - Radish pancake, first attempt

Prompted by Karen's comment on this week's start-up post, I thought I'd try making a half potato, half radish variation on a rosti-style potato pancake. Rostis (or roestis) are disks of shredded potato held together by their own starch. I should have done my research as my previous attempts at rostis have had mixed results.

Most recipes call for pre-cooking the potato, which I did, but only partially cooked is best and I cooked mine all the way through. Another recommended step is wringing some water out of the semi-cooked potato. That I didn't do.

So my rosti turned out crumbly. That's a risk even if you do everything right. With half of the potato substituted out for not-nearly-so-starchy radishes. I ended up binding it together with grated cheese which, while fine with the red radishes I used, would likely not work so well with daikon. Texturally, though, I don't think the change would make a big difference.

The dish did crisp up nicely on the outside, but some overcooked bits of potato turned to mush and some undercooked bits of radish were a little rubbery. Probably best to pre-cook the radish a little and pre-cook the potato less. A couple minutes in the microwave for both ought to do the trick. Best to poke some holes in them first to avoid any risk of explosion. That should loosen up the moisture in the radish to let it be wrung out, too, so worth the effort.

I also think adding just a little corn starch to the mix to help with the binding would be a fine idea.

With those changes, the dish should be workable. The flavors were fine, although the potato dominated over the mild radish. Daikon should be more assertive, but not so good with European flavors. Plenty of other options, just leave out the cheese.

And, speaking of not entirely successful experiments, stir fried daikon in sweet and sour sauce isn't actually bad, but it's not particularly good either.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

CSA week 16 wrap-up, week 17 start-up

With Thursday taken up by the Food and Wine festival, I didn't get a chance to finish up week 16's box so I chopped up and froze the two remaining zucchini for later. I froze the pieces on a cookie sheet before bagging them up which is supposed to a) freeze them quick to keep ice crystals small which maintains their texture better and b) freeze them individually so they don't stick to each other in the bag. I can vouch for the second, but haven't tested the first yet.

On Friday I used my turnip tops and the leftover thinly sliced zucchini on top of my second attempt at homemade pasta. I still had some trouble rolling it out; I'm pretty sure the problem is that each roller setting will only work well with a narrow range of incoming dough thickness and getting that right is something you need to get a feel for over time. Once I got it rolled out, I made strozzapreti by cutting the dough into noodles, folding a couple over and rolling them together between my palms until they stuck into an irregular lump. I used a lot of flour so they didn't always stick right, but they tasted good either way. Next time I think I'll try making orecchiette or some other thick pasta shape.

On to this week. I walked down to the pick up spot again and this time tried out my shoulder strap, but discovered the limits of the boxes structural integrity might not be up to the job. If I can find a better way of attaching the strap it might still work, though. I'll have to give it some consideration.

And on to the share. In the upper left corner are dandelion greens. Not something I've used very often. I found lots of good ideas here mainly centering on blanching, sautéing and then lightly dressing the greens. Bitter greens are bitter greens so fair enough.

Under that is a romaine heart. I haven't used my previous lettuces much, but this is about as good as lettuce gets so I figured I ought to give it a try. So, fine, salad.

I don't think I need a particular plan for the spring onion, potatoes or oranges. They'll find themselves a use.

Next up, the bok choy. I could do a stir fry or a soup or maybe that Chinese green vegetable recipe I posted about a while back. It's not a vegetable that cries out for innovative uses. I'll look around, but I wouldn't be surprised not to find anything that piques my interest.

And, speaking of innovative uses that piqued my interest, if you read my last post through you'll know that a strawberry/black olive ice cream is on my to do list. I've got another flavor in the works right now and there's still plenty of last week's flavor left so I'll probably freeze these strawberries and get to making that later.

That leaves the daikon. And leaving the daikon is what most people did if the full extras box at my drop off point is any indication. I'm determined to find at least one more worthwhile thing to do with them beyond radish cakes and kim chee. These are a staple ingredient in Japanese cooking, but not really central very often so using up three fair sized daikon takes some doing. Maybe I'll make a Japanese curry or there's a Korean daikon and pork soup I found that looks good. I dunno, maybe I'll just braise the dang things.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Coral Gables Food and Wine Festival '09

As I mentioned at the end of my last post, this is my second time attending the Coral Gables Food & Wine Fest and last year I wasn't at all impressed by what was on offer. I had a better time of it this year, but, looking over my notes, I'm not sure if that was due more to changes in the food or in my attitude. There was certainly room for improvement in both.

Before we get to the individual dishes, some more general observations. I'm pretty sure there were fewer restaurants representing this year. Probably the same amount of booze vendors although they were notably stingier on their pours.

I think it was a smaller crowd, too, particularly for the VIP section. What crowd there was seemed to arrive earlier, but I'm not sure about that since I was busier taking notes and pictures this year than last and the time did get away from me (resulting in a parking ticket as I stayed well over the hour and a half I fed the meter for).

Another thing I noticed was that the women were dressed significantly better than the men. Even discounting the booth babes in their little black dresses, there were plenty of women in their party get-ups and dangerously high heels while the men had a standard uniform of slacks, golf shirt and a pall of cigar stank. Not a lot of actual smoking at the event, but I think there must have been a cigar-centric event immediately preceding. Is that normal? The style differential, not the stank, I mean? Any idea why? Should I have worn a tie? I kind of feel like I should have worn a tie.

I think I hit most of the tables. A few, like the folks serving cesar salad and Puchetta's plain risotto, I skipped on purpose and a few, like Bangkok Bangkok, ran out and vanished before I even noticed they were there. I only tried a few of the wines and the only hard liquor (mostly candy-flavored vodka--the gentleman's roofie) I sampled was a berry-infused vodka with the questionable innovation of being carbonated. Just as foul as you'd imagine, of course. I'm no great expert on wine, particularly not from the South American as most of the wineries represented were, so I won't bother you with my thoughts on them.

But, the food, sure, I'll bother you with that.

First up, John Martin's Irish Pub served a balsamic-glazed chicken breast, sautéed mixed vegetables and a scoop of colcannon. Nice texture on everything, but the flavors and conception were dull. Just a little innovation anywhere would have saved it from tasting like weeknight home cooking.

Fleming's Prime Steak House served a slice of filet mignon and macaroni and cheese. Same as last year, it's just plain filet which doesn't have a huge amount of flavor and dry noodles with a bit of bread crumbs and light cheese flavor from some mysterious source. Not exactly to my taste, but it's probably a fine example of whatever it is. (Real mac and cheese should have an emphasis on a creamy cheese sauce. Not a cheese-flavored bechamel and not this dusting of cheese powder. I'll post my favorite recipe one of these days.) The filet is too rare, really. The connective tissue hadn't cooked down to give it the tenderness you're really looking for and without a knife, which I don't recall seeing any of the whole evening now that I think about it, it was inedible. So I didn't eat it.

Gusto Fino Deli offered pasta rustico. There was a choice of pesto or garlic sauce; I went with the garlic. It's buffet table fare, but plenty of eggplant, onions and peppers that appear to have been roasted boost the flavor up a bit. I didn't eat it all, but I didn't regret trying it.

Here's Red Koi's tuna tartar on a malanga chip. I just looked it up and found that a) I spelled malanga right first try and b) it's taro. The tuna is sushi-grade or close enough to it for a good texture and is in a citrus/soy dressing that doesn't overpower it. There are enough chives and caviar to be proper flavor components and not just visual interest and texturally, the chip is crisp and the caviar goes pop. Very nice, and, unlike it's ubiquity last year, this is the only seafood I saw all evening. I'm generally skeptical of pan-Asian places, but this puts Red Koi on my to-try list.

Por Fin offered a caneloni. In a smart move, they kept them in a hot box and dished them out to order. On the other hand, the pasta was mushy and the filling was, I think, badly overcooked salmon with a catfood reek. So maybe the hot box plan needs a little work. The cream sauce was fine though and I thought the vinegary drizzle was a nice touch.

Caffe da Vinci had three dishes on offer, but only one per customer per visit. I chose the truffle and cheese sacchetti. I didn't recognize the word, but that's beggar's purse pasta--big squares filled and pinched together into a bundle. Difficult to make I understand. It was in an earthy mushroom sauce with noticeable specks of truffle and firm pieces of mushroom with an intense flavor quite distinct from the sauce. Very tasty and rather better than this crowd deserves. Well, these guys are from Bay Harbor so maybe they don't know the Coral Gables scene.

Ideas served a vegetarian paella. That's rather a contradiction in terms to my mind, but given the poor way the seafood held up in paella last year, maybe it's for the best. The idea required some selling, but dishing it up from a giant paella pan is definitely the way to do it. Unfortunately, paella doesn't keep well: the vegetables are a little overcooked and the rice mushy. I can't fault their flavors, though. The rice is full of warm spices--saffron and paprika mainly, I think--and the vegetables brightly flavored against it. I'd put the fault on the street setting more than the restaurant.

Indian Palate's up next with a chicken tikka masala on a curry cashew risotto. An interesting choice for this restaurant as this is a dish designed for the British palate, not an Indian one (or Miamian for that matter). The risotto, which is closer to mashed potatoes in texture than a proper risotto, is an interesting choice too as Indian cuisine usually calls for dry separate grains. Not bad for what it is. The chicken is dried out, but that's chicken tikka for you and that's why there's a tomato cream gravy. The flavors are mild but harmonious and the sauce works well with the rice. I'd rather not have picked out the inedible whatever-they-are leaves, though.

The nameless restaurant in the Courtyard Marriott had West Indian-spiced short ribs and cole slaw flavored with candied ginger. Steam table standards but at least they're making an effort with the flavors. It's not an effort that paid off, but I appreciate the attempt.

Novecento served chicken empeñadas. Is a cream sauce normal for a chicken empeñada? Because this tasted like Betty Crocker-style chicken à la king with Pillsbury crescent rolls. I do have a fondness for that sort of junk cuisine, but not really best foot forward for Novecento. I don't recall what they served last year but I liked it enough to take their card. I never actually went there for dinner so I don't know what's more typical of them.

I got to Forchetti's table too late to try whatever meat they were serving, but they had a bit of their zucchini, broccoli and carrot cream soup left. And maybe I've been brainwashed by my CSA, but I really appreciated that the flavors of the zucchini and broccoli came through cleanly (not so much the carrot), bolstered but not thinned out by the cream and without too much spice getting in the way. Nice on its own, but you can tell it was designed to accompany charred meat so I needed to find a bit of that before dessert.

Luckily the Grill Club wasn't far away. True to their name, they were cooking their meat over an open flame. The piece I had was kind of gristly and slightly burnt which, combined with the chimichurri sauce, made it a lot like my father's barbecued London broil. Took me right back, it did.

And on to dessert. I tried Quatro Leches' eponymous creation. That's not a giant cookie in the picture, it's a tiny cup with a tiny serving. I wonder how they cut the little circles of cake to go in the bottom. This is a standard tres leches cake topped with a dulce de leche frosting to make up the numbers. It's also half frozen which screwed up the texture a little. But the bigger problem is the mismatch between the creamy/crumbly cake and the blob of gooey, overpowering dulce de leche on top. Both of those dishes were invented in the same place decades ago and if putting them together was a good idea it would have become the standard version long ago. So, points for cleverness and points taken away for naming yourself after a dish that doesn't really work.

I missed out on all of Chuao's pretty chocolate confections, but I managed to snag one of the last almond hazelnut pralines. It was an unphotogenic little brown brick so I didn't bother with a picture, but it was a perfectly serviceable praline. And as it's Chuao I appreciate the restraint of leaving out liquor, hot pepper or guava. Some things are fine just the way they are.

And finally, the evening's most interesting dish. Miccosukee Resort served a three layer parfait: strawberries on the bottom, then tomato mouse, then black olive mouse topped with an almond macaroon. The olive flavor is light but identifiable--kalamata, I think--and a remarkably good match with the strawberries. I'm definitely stealing that idea for an ice cream flavor. The tomato was less pronounced, but that may just be because of how well it blends with other berry flavors. There was a nice mix of textures too with two different densities of mouse and the jam-like strawberries on the bottom and light crisp cookie on top (I don't think it was actually a macaroon despite what I was told). Very daring for this crowd and remarkably good.

So, more misses than hits, but enough quality that I did enjoy myself overall. Did any of you guys go? What did you think?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

CSA week 16 - Zucchini, cucumber and salmon salad

This was actually just a zucchini and cucumber salad to accompany a salmon fillet, but it needed the fish in there to work so I'm considering it a unified whole.

My original plan was to make zucchini noodles but my mandolin just shredded it instead of making tidy strips. So it was on to plan B. I ran the cucumber through the mandolin to shred it as well. Both ended up with a pile of shreds and a plank of outer shell that I couldn't run through without risking my fingers. Those I sliced as thinly as I could.

I squeezed the liquid out of the shredded cucumber and salted the zucchini and let it drain for a half hour before wringing it out too. That may have been a mistake since I ended up with a nasty overcooked vermicelli texture. I decided to chop up those extra slices and add them to the mix to help the texture out. And then I added parsley and Chinese celery leaves--roughly chopped so that they're vegetable components of the salad, not just herbage--some dill and capers.

If I had any in the house I would have mixed all that with sour cream and topped it with caviar. Yougurt would have done too. But I had to settle for mayonnaise thinned with white vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste and the flavors didn't quite work, but it was edible.

The salmon I rubbed with salt, pepper and dill and fried in olive oil, skin side down, for three minutes. After the flip I turned down the heat, poured some white wine into the pan and covered to let it steam for a couple minutes. When the fish was done I removed it to on top the salad, cooked down the liquid left in the pan to nearly nothing, mounted it with a little butter and poured it over top.

It turned out a bit better than I expected, really. The meatiness and oiliness of the salmon and the rich buttery sauce balanced out the light crunch and slightly funky flavor of the vegetables and the tanginess of the vinegar and capers. So it worked out and, in the end, I can recommend making along these lines.

One last thing while I'm here: tomorrow I'm going to the Coral Gables Food and Wine Festival . I'll be there early before the crowds so I get in fewer people's ways while I'm taking pictures and making notes. Last year I made the worst possible choices of what to try so if you see me there do please say hi and point me to what you think I ought to be eating.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

CSA week 16 - roasted kale, glazed turnips and, I dunno, a sausage or something

I took up Karen's suggestion in last post's comments to roast kale in bacon fat this evening. It's really the same recipe as kale chips with a shorter cooking time and more crowded pan so they only get crisped up around the edges. Cut out the stems, wash the leaves, toss them with plenty of bacon fat and salt, put them in the oven at 425 degrees. Roast for 7 minutes, stir, and cook for 3 more. I found it needed a few minutes more than that, but that's when to check for doneness. If you're happy with it, drop them back into your tossing bowl, dress with a little more fat or oil and a bit of vinegar and serve.

The turnip recipe I found here cooks wedges of turnip like pot-stickers--something that never would have occurred to me. Peel and slice your turnips, lay them out in a pan, dot with butter, add water to come halfway up and turn the heat on high. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down to medium and boil away the water. When the pan's dry, turn the heat back up and cook for five minutes more. Dress the turnips in a honey/red-wine-vinegar vinaigrette and serve. I'm out of the poppy seeds the recipe calls for so I used a sesame seed herb mix from Spice House instead. I don't think it made a huge difference.

The kale leaves are quite unevenly cooked depending on how thick they were and where they happened to be in the pile. There are thin crispy edges, but also thick chewy pieces. Almost, but not quite, too chewy; they're still manageable. Maybe they could have used another couple minutes in the oven. And they've got huge flavor--starting with the bacon fat, salt and vinegar--but the burst of those fades into the classic accents to kale they're meant to be.

The turnips are fabulous beyond all expectation--buttery and sweet--succulent but still with a little bite around the edges. The best of turnip flavor is front and center, not at all overwhelmed by the dressing. I declare this my new favorite way to cook turnips.

The sausage isn't bad either. I fried up a slice of spicy Portuguese chourico that pairs nicely with the kale. But I'm going back for seconds of those turnips.

Monday, March 23, 2009

CSA week 16 - Mulai keerai kadaiyal

a.k.a. callaloo curry.

I wasn't looking forward to cooking the callaloo this week. I hate to say it but, at least as far as home cooking is concerned, Caribbean cuisine just isn't doing it for me. But then I remembered that the particular callaloo (the Spartacus of the vegetable kingdom) we've got is amaranth a.k.a. Chinese spinach. Did that name mean anything or was it just meant to sound exotic like Chinese gooseberries or Jerusalem artichokes? When I started looking into it I found out that amaranth is cultivated and eaten all over the place. In China it's yin choi and it's used in really boring stir fries; in Viet Nam it's rau dền and used in pretty much the same boring stir fry; but in India it's either mulai keerai or thota kura and it's used in some pretty interesting curries. Most of which, unfortunately, call for ingredients I haven't got. Once recipes are calling for amaranth instead of spinach, you're pretty well out of the adapted-for-the-Western-kitchen zone.

However I was able to cobble together something presentable without making a trip to an Indian grocery (which I really ought to do one of these days).


1 bunch of amaranth for a couple servings. It cooks down quite a bit so use substantially more than you think you'll need.
1 1/2 cups water
1 pinch turmeric
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 teaspoon white rice flour
salt to taste

2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 dried red peppers, broken up
1 teaspoon mustard seed, whole
1 teaspoon cumin seed, whole
1 teaspoon black lentils or, failing that, millet
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

6 extra large shrimp, cleaned and brined
The shrimp is optional, but I think they add a lot to the dish. You could use whitefish or crab instead if you'd prefer.

1. Strip amaranth leaves from stems. Cut off the woody bits and peel the tougher stems. Chop roughly.

2. Place amaranth in a medium pot with water and turmeric, heat on medium high until boiling, stir, cover and turn down heat. Simmer until amaranth is tender, 4 to 5 minutes.

3. Move amaranth from pot to food processor, leaving the water in the pot. Add tomato, rice flour and salt to processor and process into a paste. Adjust for flavor and texture.

4. Add shrimp to pot, return to heat and poach gently until firm.

5. Meanwhile, in small pan heat oil and spices until garlic is golden and mustard seeds start popping.

6. Serve amaranth with rice, topped with shrimp. Pour oil and spices over top.

Now that's tasty and expeditious (although I'll admit it could be prettier). You might think that that's just saag, but you can identify the amaranth through the spices and it's a better match with the spices than spinach would be. You can see that I overcooked my garlic a little, but I didn't quite ruin it and I actually like the crunch it added. Maybe some peanuts would be a good way to get that instead. Also, I would have liked to top the dish with some curry leaves but I'm long out of those.

The substitution of the millet was a good idea, I think, as there's a toasty flavor in the dish that's particularly nice with the shrimp. Those shrimp were my addition and I don't think I could have made a better choice of protein except maybe crab. It all worked together very well indeed.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

CSA week 16 - Summer squash chicken bake

Just a simple recipe as I've got to get to work. And frankly, I don't think summer squash is up to complex preparations. It'll just fall apart and turn into mildly-flavored mush.

This is a slight variation on this recipe. I wanted to make it more of a main dish and had just finished making a batch of chicken broth so I added in some of the boiled chicken and substituted in a little broth for the water.

1 pound yellow summer squash, chopped
1/4 cup water or chicken broth
1 cup shredded cooked chicken
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
pepper to taste
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1. In a saucepan, combine the squash, water, onion and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until squash is tender. Remove from the heat; cool.

2. Stir in the chicken, egg, bread crumbs, butter and pepper. Transfer to a greased 1-qt. baking dish; sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until heated through and the cheese is melted. Broil for a couple more minutes to get a nice crust.

I was impressed by how well the dish holds together physically considering how much liquid there was in the pan. The texture was kind of bread-pudding-esque with the squash, bolstered by the breadcrumbs, acting as the starch. I didn't know squash could do that.

As for flavor, not bad, but the squash is so mild it's lost behind the chicken and cheese. Well, maybe not behind. If you eat a piece by itself you can recognize the light buttery flavor as infused throughout dish. That said, if you're going to add meat (and I think it would be a fine sidedish without, although I'd want to add a little paprika or mustard or something for a little extra zip), halve what I added and consider ham instead of chicken. The choice of cheese is important too. Something less robust than the Dubliner I used would be best: a young Cheddar or maybe Muenster or Edam.

And if I had read the comments on yesterday's post sooner I would have known to add corn and peppers which would have gone just dandily with the other flavors. I'm probably going cook some up and add them to the leftovers before they go into the freezer.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

CSA week 15 round-up, week 16 start-up

Back to driving to the share pick-up point today. Weather like this always makes my bad knee (from too many crashes while bicycle commuting in Boston) act up so I wasn't sure I could make it all the way there and back on foot. And good thing too as it started pouring again while I would have been still on my way home. Maybe next week.

I've got a couple dishes left to talk about from last share. I did make dim sum-style daikon cakes again, but I a new recipe from the February 2007 issue of Bon Appétit which is posted all over the Web at this point, but I found reposted here. It's a little unusual in that it calls for squeezing all the moisture out of the finely chopped daikon and frying it for 20 minutes with the fillings instead of boiling it. It really condensed and intensified the flavors nicely. Plus the smaller batch of the recipe halved to the one daikon radish I had made the thin cakes I was looking for. A substantial improvement all around. I was hoping to use the mazuna here too, but the cup of cilantro I was going to swap it in for is actually in a dipping sauce which I don't think the recipe needs at all.

I also made the fruit and oat bars again filling them this time with a cup of chopped dried apricots stewed with 1/3 cup sugar and a thick slice of ginger in the juice of my last grapefruit. I accidentally halved the butter in the oat mixture so the texture is rather sandy but the filling is bursting with bright and rich flavor. You can't identify the grapefruit, but the apricot is airbrushed, enhanced and framed and I'm giving the grapefruit credit for that.

Beyond that, I've still got plenty of mazuna, lettuce and chard although they're getting past their prime. And a whole lot new in this week's share too.

Along with what came in my half share I was pleasantly surprised to find a leek in the extras box and I took some red radishes from the event-leftovers pile. Even if I can't find a use for them immediately, they'll keep for a while.

I'd be much happier seeing the callaloo and kale if I hadn't had more than enough of them already. And I've still got half of the previous batch of callaloo still sitting around. I haven't made a proper pepper pot soup yet. Maybe I'll do that. As for the kale, a braise with Portuguese sausage, maybe. I don't really want to do the full caldo verde thing because of how potatoes freeze poorly, but I can use the same flavor profile for something with better leftovers.

The zucchini and squash are enough for a few recipes. I have a zucchini garlic soup I'd like to try and I've got this image of a recipe where you layer long strips of thinly sliced squash in a baking dish. I'm not sure that's real, though. Maybe a risotto instead.

Plenty of radishes, too. The tops I'll likely sauté. At least some of the rest I'd like to roast. I don't think I've tried that before and I'm curious how it'll work out.

The pepper goes into the pepper pot soup if I make that. The cucumber in a salad of some sort, maybe with salmon since I've got some.

I'm not going to plan anything in particular around the herbs or the leek. I'm sure they'll find a place. The Chinese celery saves my chicken soup (that I really ought to get started making if I want it done in time for dinner) from the rubbery browning celery that's been sitting in my produce drawer for a while. That's a good place for the leek too now that I think of it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

CSA week 15 - Grapefruit-coconut milk ice cream

And here we go. A pretty simple recipe this time around as all the citrus ice cream recipes I found were very straightforward and I decided to go with the suggestion. You wouldn't want to muddy the bright clean flavor of grapefruit with custard or cream cheese anyway.

1/2 cup brown sugar
zest of 1 grapefruit
3 dashes cinnamon
2 dashes allspice
1 dash ginger
1 pinch salt
Process in food processor until fine-grained and uniform.
Then add
1/2 cup grapefruit supremes and juice
a few drops vanilla.
Blend until the sugar is well dissolved, add a little more grapefruit pulp for texture and chill.
I probably should have gotten a picture of this. Sorry.

Just before churning, mix with:
1 cup thick coconut milk
1 cup heavy cream
No reason to risk curdling by leaving the citrus with the dairy any longer than necessary.

I was afraid that without the custard or cornstarch this would freeze up solid, but it churned up nice and light without any problem.

The texture's quite good considering. It's smooth and creamy, but a little light as something more than half fruit products ought to be. The flavor, well, imagine taking a scoop of lightly flavored, slightly spicy coconut ice cream, and eating it with some grapefruit. The two components don't mesh; they're both just there. A bit of a disappointment there, but it's nothing you'd turn your nose up at unless you really hated grapefruit. Both elements are understated so it's easy eating but nothing really pops. That's not entirely a bad thing considering what you get when grapefruit pops.

But you know what would have really worked? If I had used lime instead, boosted the coconut flavor a bit and maybe included a little kaffir lime leaf as an exotic touch. Or if you want a crowd-pleaser, use key limes, replace the coconut milk with sweetened condensed milk and add crumbled pie crust.