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I’d like to state that I have zero Greek ancestry, so what I’m about to post may violate some sort of weird Greek  purity law, but I don’t think it will matter too much because I don’t think the Greek police are too interested in food bloggers. I could be wrong, but I’m willing to take that risk. I also promise that there is no Windex involved.

This salad is perfect for potlucks or picnics and is better when it’s had some time to sit and “reflect” a bit, so try and make it the day before you’re going to serve it. It’s not necessary, but will really help the flavor develop. Give it a try (use up some of that zucchini that’s taking over your countertop or fridge) and tell me what you think!

Run away mater!zucchini.greektomato.onion.greekpre-dressing.greekdressing.greek

 

2013-07-21 16.34.18

 2013-07-21 16.43.24

Greek Pasta with Zucchini, Orzo, and Lemon-Oregano Vinaigrette
Author: 
Cuisine: Greek flavors
Serves: 8-10
 
A light and summery pasta salad perfect for potlucks and picnics.
Ingredients
For the salad:
  • 1 C. orzo
  • 4 C. zucchini, chopped
  • ¾ C. red onion, diced
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
For the dressing:
  • ¼ C. fresh oregano, lightly chopped
  • 2 T. lemon zest
  • ¼ C. lemon juice
  • ½ C. extra virgin olive oil
For serving:
  • 4 oz. Feta
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta to al dente and set aside. (I give it a quick rinse so it doesn’t stick together too much, but I’ll leave that step to your discretion.)
  2. While pasta is cooking chop the zucchini, dice the onion, and quarter the tomatoes. Toss together in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Chop oregano and blend with lemon zest, lemon juice and olive oil.
  4. Add pasta and dressing to vegetables.
  5. For best flavor, chill well. Don’t worry if the dressing separates a bit, it still tastes just as delicious.
  6. Crumble feta over the top before serving.
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Farmshare Chronicles : Week 2

Week two of the Farmshare Chronicles is here! I know, you’re super excited, right? After  surviving the first week, I was feeling pretty confident. I can do it!!

Then, I received my next challenge:

wk2.cabbageOh, that doesn’t look familiar? Let me introduce you:

Feed me, Seymour! Feed me!

Feed me, Seymour! Feed me!

Suddenly this beast has taken over my fridge. There’s been quite a bit of coleslaw making going on, is what I’m saying.

Really what I’ve been noticing this year is how pretty it all is. The patterns and shapes of all the vegetables. Like  zucchini:

wk2.zucchini

The lightly speckled pattern, the deep green color, the ability to sneak up your balcony and into every crevice of your home. ( Also, I’ve got a zucchini recipe coming up this week, so stay tuned for something light, summery and pot-luck friendly.)

wk2.lettuceThe lettuce is light and delicate and has these lovely, curly swirls, too.

wk2.onionsOnions with actual dirt on them! And a massive amount of greens. I’ve been using the greens to add a bit of onion flavor to the aforementioned coleslaw and some salads. I’ve got an inkling of an idea about adding them to biscuits, too.

wk2.snappeasThese guys are so crisp and sweet you could eat them raw. I’ve been making a super easy side dish by sauteing them with butter, ginger, garlic and red onion.

Here’s the tally so far this year:

Farmshare 2013 - Week 2

Vegetable
Grams
Total Grams
Ounces
Total Ounces
Strawberries--324g--11-3/8 oz
Radishes--34g--1-1/4 oz
Radish Greens--31g--1-1/8 oz
Turnips--36g--1-1/4 oz
Turnip Greens--9g--3/8 oz
Lettuce147g485g5-1/8 oz1 lb, 1 oz
Cabbage2k, 22g2k, 22g4 lbs, 7-3/8 oz4 lbs, 7-3/8 oz
Zucchini411g411g14-1/2 oz14-1/2 oz
Onion, White265g265g9-3/8 oz9- 3/8 oz
Onion Greens275g275g9-3/4 oz9-3/4 oz
Snap Peas140g140g5 oz5 oz

Two weeks in and still fairly manageable. Except for that head of cabbage. That thing kinda scares me…

 

 

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Farmshare Chronicles : Week 1

It’s funny how, once the summer solstice arrives and summer has only just “officially” begun, that you start to panic. The months of June, July and August are starting to fill up, and you wonder if you’re taking appropriate advantage of the season. Do you notice that? That feeling that you either are relaxing and being too lazy versus being out all of the time? Why can’t I just let it be and enjoy? (This is not to say that whenever I’m at home or out and I’m not thrilled with what’s going on in that moment, but there’s totally a grass-is-greener/FOMO thing happening in my head afterwards.) Part of that stress was wanting to grow some of my own feed food (What am I? Some sort of livestock? Don’t answer that…). At  the least I should be able to grow some herbs on my bitty balcony. What could be more summer-y than that, right? I tried dutifully for a while to grow snap peas and herbs and peppers. Yeah. That didn’t quite work, though I did get a handful of small but mighty jalapenos and basil, everything else just kind of quit on me. So three years ago I joined a farmshare/CSA program with a friend. That first year was an overwhelming barrage of beets and potatoes. Seriously, I’m thinking back on that first year seasons and I have nightmares about beets. Every week: Beets and potatoes. It can be stressful enough to keep up with a load of vegetables you like (and, thankfully, potatoes are pretty durable), but those beets. I was hesitant going in to season two.  Once you’ve pickled, boiled, roasted and composted your way through several pounds of beets, you’d be a little wary, too. (Unless you’re someone who can eat beets all-day everyday. If so, beware, you may find them in a box on your doorstep.) Thankfully, Farmer Jim got the message and I don’t think I’ve seen more than a handful of beets since.

The first bag of the season is always a bit odd. It deceives you with the first bits and bobs of the season. “Oh, look, just a few things, I can absolutely keep up with all of this!” And then, comes September and the squash…

So, we’re on to Season 4!

Seriously amazing wee little berries.

Seriously amazing wee little berries.

Teeny, tiny turnips. These exist mostly for the greens.

Teeny, tiny turnips. These exist mostly for the greens.

Turnip Greens: tastier than you'd imagine. (If you like greens.)

Turnip Greens: tastier than you’d imagine. (If you like greens.)

Radishes. Butter. Salt. (Butter and salt not included... or pictured.)

Radishes. Butter. Salt. (Butter and salt not included… or pictured.)

Field of dreams. I mean, greens.

Field of dreams. I mean, greens.

Only one meal out of this week’s bag (other than snacking and salads, I mean). Also, I didn’t keep track of timing on this one, so, trust your judgment?

Greens, Beans & Pasta
Author: 
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • 2-1/2 ounces pasta (I used fusilli)
  • 3 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1-1/2 ounces turnip greens, sliced into ½” ribbons
  • 2 ounces kale, sliced into ½” ribbons
  • 2 scallions, sliced (white and greens separated)
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3 ounces grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 14.5 ounce can chick peas, rinsed
  • crushed red pepper, to taste
  • salt & pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta to al dente or just before. Drain pasta and set aside; reserve some pasta water to finish the dish.
  2. Cook bacon in skillet; remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
  3. Add turnip greens, kale and white portion of scallions to hot bacon grease in skillet. Cook until slightly wilted (If you’ve got a green-fearing dinner companion, cook until wilted completely, the’ll be slightly less scary this way.).
  4. Add garlic, grape tomatoes, chick peas, pasta, crushed red pepper and salt and pepper to taste. Saute until tomato skins are wrinkled and have tomatoes have dried out a bit. If it’s too dry, add some of the pasta water to moisten.
  5. Serve with grated parmesan and the scallon “greens” or a bit of fresh onion flavor.

 

 

 

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TWD :: BWJ Mocha Chocolate Chips

I’ve noticed lately that the things that separate us are becoming more obvious. It used to be you didn’t discuss politics or religion. Now my facebook feed is filled with commentary (I’m no different, honestly). The economy, gun control, budgets and deficits all seem to elicit the “you’re with us or against” rhetoric. You’re liberal or a conservative. A dog lover or a cat lover. A deep dish or a thin-crust. You cannot be both. At least, we’d like to think it’s that simple. The great middle claims most of us and we’re all probably more alike than we can admit. Except for one crucial distinction; and I believe it’s one of the few things that truly defines who you are: Are you Cheese? Or Chocolate? Do you swoon for an oozy, runny brie or do you melt for cocoa-dusted truffles? Like any other rational person, I get cravings for chocolate. The voice in my head will starting chanting: chocolate… Chocolate… CHOCOLATE… CHOCOLATE NOW! I’m not sure where that voice comes from, because I’m really a cheese person. If I had to choose a camp, it would be Camp Cheese. Oh, the hijinks we would play on Camp Chocolate. We’d swap Baker’s Chocolate for the Hershey’s in their s’mores. Standard cocoa powder for Dutch-process in their brownies. White chocolate for their… well, nothing, because I wouldn’t subject anyone to faux-chocolate. (No one said this would be a very exciting camp, unless you like cheese. Or chocolate. I guess.)

13 03 24 Mocha Chip collage

Now, if we were playing nice with Camp Chocolate, the Cheesers would bake up a few batches of these cookies and drop them at their cabin door and run back to our fondue pots. These cookies are Serious. Chocolate. Business. A full pound of chocolate. You can use all bittersweet, a mix of bitter and milk, or even, and I can’t understand why, white “chocolate”. I went full-bore bittersweet and used almost four bars of Lindt for these. It’s a lot of chopping, but you end up with a mix of larger chunks and whispery shreds that add up to chocolate flavor in every bite. If there’s any trick to these cookies it’s figuring out how much coffee powder to use. I haven’t seen a jar of Folger’s since I was in junior high when it was my mother’s “fix” in the mornings before she went to work. The only instant coffee you’ll find in my pantry is the espresso kind. I thought I was living on the edge with three rounded tablespoons of the stuff and even then the coffee flavor is only in the background. So, adjust accordingly if you really want a coffee flavor (and, conversely, for any children who may consume these).

13 03 24 TWD Mocha Chip 4

These cookies spread quite a bit while cooking, even when well-chilled, so be sure to give them some space. Unless you’re into the whole communal-cookie, free-love, let’s hug it out and let our cookies melt into each other. I won’t judge. You could add some chopped, dried apricots. Out of pure laziness, I omitted them. Chopping dried fruit falls fairly high on my list of tasks to avoid, but I’m sure the cookies would be delicious with them. Also, fair warning, if you’re looking for a traditional soft and chewy chocolate chip cookie, these aren’t quite that kind of cookie. They’ve got some chew to them fresh out of the oven, and, if you use a finer chocolate like I did, they’ll leave a good bit of melty chocolate on your fingers, but I found I liked them better after a day or so when they were ever so slightly stale. And if you happen to have them with a bit more espresso for an afternoon pick-me-up, they’ll do quite nicely. Even if they aren’t cheese.

13 03 24 TWD Mocha Chip 3

You can find the recipe on Peggy’s blog, Galettista, or on pages 330-331 in Baking with Julia.

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TWD :: BWJ – Pecan Sticky Buns

I’m not sure what prompted me to make the Pecan Sticky Buns as one of my first “make-up” recipes as I work on catching up with the Tuesdays With Dorie group.Was it the lure of a tempting morning pastry? The challenge of making a bread so different from any other that I’ve baked? The large amounts of butter involved? It could be any of those reasons. Ok, it was the butter. The thing that seemed to put many of the TWD bakers on edge was the very thing that said to me: 2-1/2 sticks of butter in a half-batch? Sign me up! When can I have ‘em?

Yes, there is a lot of butter. Yes, it takes many hours of labor waiting plus multiple (grueling) rises PLUS a whole lot of rolling out of dough, but right now I’m wishing I had some sliced ready-to-go buns in the freezer so I could set one out to rise for breakfast in the morning (or maybe dessert tonight…).

13 01 13 PSB Dough

Other than fearing for the life of my beloved KitchenAid, the dough really is pretty easy to work with. You just need to keep an eye on it and pull it off the dough-hook every once in a while. And was I the only one to scoff at the concept of the flour on top of the sponge “cracking”? I sincerely doubted it would happen, but never doubt Julia (or Dorie)!

Could you resist this dough? I don't think so.

Could you resist this dough? I don’t think so.

 

13 01 13 PSB Laminate

After allowing the dough to rise twice it is finally ready for another recipe. What? Yes, that was all just the very beginning, but this is where it starts to get good and buttery. Dough is rolled out into a rectangle, butter is strewn about and mercilessly shmeared into the dough. A nice, cool countertop (or marble slab) will come in really handy here. Unless you want your enriched dough to start oozing all over the place. This is also where I confess my love for this dough. Smooth, supple, luscious. I would make a dress out of this dough if it wouldn’t puff up around me throughout the day. That’s probably neither flattering nor appetizing… Anywho. Just know that this dough is tough stuff. Roll, shmear, fold, fold,  chill and roll again. It takes all that abuse like a champ.

13 01 13 PSB Pre-Bake

There are a few changes I’ll make the next time I bake these:

- The filling is cinnamon-sugar and chopped pecans. I’d make the filling a cinnamon-sugar compound butter (for lack of a better term). Just mash the cinnamon and sugar into the butter while it’s soft and spread it across the dough. At that point I’d top with pecans and roll into logs.

- Since I’m adding butter to the filling, I’d only butter the sides and bottom of the pan. I did not get anything near a caramel glaze (and you’ll see I over-baked my rolls so if that didn’t do it…). I did get a nice pool of butter which, after a few minutes of resting, soaked into the rolls.

13 01 13 PSB Final

 

These were originally baked by the rest of the TWD group in May 2012. The hosts then were Lynn and Nicole and you can find the recipe in Baking with Julia on pages 190-2.

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TWD :: BWJ – Pizza with Onion Confit

Well, look at that! It’s 2013. When did that happen? I mean, I know when it happened, but somehow I’m surprised by how quickly last year came and went. Are any of your resolutions still standing? Do you even make resolutions? This year I have, if only to avoid the it’s-December-and-what-have-I-done-with-yet-another-year-of-my-life anxiety. One of which is to be a bit less, uh, “particular” (i.e. perfectionist) about things. That just leads me to procrastinate because what if it’s not perfect? I’m fairly certain (fairly) the world would not stop turning. In that vein, I have a whole handful of Tuesdays with Dorie posts to consolidate and mark as complete on my list (of course I have a list!).

Of course, my inner perfectionist is saying “Look! I’m getting the first post of the year up on time! 2013 is going to be awesome! (But please ignore my bad text/picture formatting, I’ll fix that at some point.)” I don’t know whether to slap her or give her a high five…

I am an onion lover, so I had zero qualms about attempting this recipe. If you’re not an onion lover, well… you might want to move on, because nothing will get you past the onion-ness of this recipe. If you like onions and wine, though, you are in luck. These babies get a good, long, warm soak in wine. About an hour. You’ll see I was a rebel and used a mix of yellow and red onions. Really, I’m not a rebel, this was what I had on hand. So really I’m just thrifty. Or lazy. You pick. (I also had no Creme de Cassis, but, who has Creme de Cassis on hand?)

Hello, lover...

Hello, lover…

The dough was pretty straight-forward, if gooey(at first). You let the sponge rise for about an hour and a half, add some oil, salt and more flour, knead it with your lovely mixer (or lovely hands, if you prefer) and let it rise again.

Gooey, soon to be delicious, pizza dough

Gooey, soon to be delicious, pizza dough.

I chose to stretch my dough by hand, versus rolling it out. I seem to have more success getting a round(ish) shape that way. It did stretch fairly thin, and I was a bit concerned that it wouldn’t hold up while baking but thanks, in part, to a pizza stone it crisped up really well. No flabby, floppy pizza slices here! If you’re into cracker-thin crusts, it’s absolutely achievable with this dough. (This dough also makes really good calzones, but I have no pictures of those. Lazy, I tell you!)
13 01 05 TWD Pizza Final 2upA
13 01 05 TWD Pizza Final 2upB

 

Yes, my onions were very purple. Barney purple. Harold and the Purple Crayon purple. Purple Pizza People Eater purple. I almost expected them to taste like grape candy, but they didn’t. Next time I will definitely put some goat cheese or other savory-something to balance the sweetness of the onions.

You can find this week’s recipe over at Paul’s blog, The Boy Can Bake, or in Baking with Julia on page 159 157. Also, make sure to check out the Tuesdays with Dorie site where you can find all of the other bakers here.

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TWD::BWJ – Bagels

All these years I thought bagels required some sort of complicated alchemy to bake at home. It turns out that I was wrong, and thankfully so, because I love the carbby-goodness of bagels and now I know that they’re easy to pull together somewhat last minute.  I took a look at the recipe expecting multiple rises, mysterious ingredients and a lot of frustration. The recipe covered a few pages, but it turns out it’s essentially one, quick rise and then (if you’ve planned right) a good rest in the refrigerator over-night is all that is needed. The ingredients? Water, sugar, yeast, salt, shortening and flour. I used a 50:50 mix of whole wheat and AP flour which gave it a good, wheaty (is that a word?) flavor without becoming too dense. I also only had two tablespoons of shortening in the house so I just added a tablespoon of butter in place of the final tablespoon of shortening.

The first batch followed the instructions pretty closely:

- Boiled for 90 seconds per side.
- Baked on a pre-heated stone for 25 minutes, then 5 in the turned-off oven with the door closed, then 5 with the door open.

That batch could qualify for use in the NHL (were they playing). Very crisp crusts, especially so on the bottom. Though the interior was tender, crusty bagels are not my kind of thing, so I made some adjustments:

- Based on comments in the P&Q post, I dropped it to a 45-60 second boil per side.
- Took the stone out and used a parchment-lined baking sheet (no worries about gluing to the pan).
- Skipped the 5 minute “rest” with the door closed and went straight to the open-door rest.

 

The second batch was far, far better and made a tasty turkey and swiss sandwich which I broiled for a few minutes to get good, melty cheese and a warm bagel. All in all, now I know I can add bagels to my regular weekend baking.

Make sure to check out this week’s host, Heather, of Heather’s Bytes, and for more bagel reviews head over to Tuesdays with Dorie and look for the LYL (Leave Your Link) post.

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A Project: Tuesdays With Dorie

Sometimes I don’t make the smartest decisions. A few months ago, after one too many mishaps, I started applying the “Don’t be stupid, Kate” rule. When I’m puttering about and I catch myself about to do something stupid, say putting a plate on, but not entirely on, an overflowing countertop, just for a minute while I do something, it will inevitably flop right to the floor. The times where I catch myself thinking “this isn’t going to work like I expect” require the DBSK rule to stop and make me think about the lazy thing I’m about to do.

Anyway, what does this have to do with anything? I’ve joined up with a group of bakers who are working their way through the cookbook Baking with Julia written by Dorie Greenspan. Over the course of  (How many? Let’s just say, a lot.) of weeks, we’ll make every single recipe in the book. Yes, all of them. It’s no slim little, wispy book. It’s 465 pages containing more recipes than I’m going to count right now. So I hope you get my drift. It’s kind of a commitment. Part of me wants to invoke the DBSK rule because when was the last time I finished a project of any sort? Why would I set myself up for the stress of expectations and self-guilt of not being perfect on something this big? I can’t really say, but it seems like a good idea right now cause I need a project. Something with deadlines (though I missed the first one because I hadn’t fully committed yet, oops!) and a little bit of accountability.

So, let’s get on with it, right? The first recipe was pretty basic: white loaves. I’ve made bread before so I was fairly confident I could pull this off stress and guilt-free. I halved it to make only one loaf because I love bread and would have eaten both loaves with several sticks of butter. Bad news. Halving it worked just fine for one perfectly shaped loaf of bread.

Hosted by: Laurie at slush and Jules at Someone’s in the Kitchen.

P.S. This made some really tasty garlic-cheese Texas toast.

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