The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.
First things first- making the nut butter. I made peanut butter because, well, I had peanuts on hand and I knew I wanted to make a satay dipping sauce. Making nut butter at home couldn’t be simpler, and is a great way to make sure that you’re getting lots of nutty protein without all that extra sugar prevalent in so many processed brands. Just throw a couple of handfuls of peanuts in a food processor, and give it a whir. That’s it, homemade peanut butter.
For the peanut satay sauce:
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 small onion, sliced and caramelized
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
I made this right in the same bowl I’d just used to make the peanut butter. Add the rest of the ingredients and, again, give it another whir. Voila! Peanut satay sauce.
The rest of this recipe for lettuce wraps is delightfully simple:
Grill the tofu, julienne the carrots, chop the green onion.
Spoon some of each along with the sprouts, and the satay sauce into lettuce leaves.
Finish with some sriracha if you like things spicy, and dig in!
We got Basil, Lettuce, Cucumbers, Radishes and Snap Beans.
The first thing I do on Wednesday evenings (the day I pick up our CSA box) is unpack, wash and prep our goodies for the week. This week that meant washing everything; separating the radish greens from the radishes, spinning the lettuce… and eating the three little cucumbers sliced with some tasty sea salt. Josh only likes baked cucumbers (sounds weird, but trust Julia Child), so I don’t worry about eating them all up myself.
I wanted to take care of the basil right away, so I added some garlic scapes and a few cloves of garlic, olive oil, almonds and Parmesan and made a sort-of pesto. Pine nuts are so expensive and we happened to have some raw almonds on hand, and I never really taste much difference anyway. The pesto can be frozen or stored in the fridge for a week. I like having some on hand to throw into soup or spread on bread. I never used to like pesto until I made some fresh- I find that bright green stuff they sell in jars at the supermarket revolting.
Our box was a little… light this week. We were lucky to supplement the modest bounty with some good stuff from the garden.
One of our neighbors has zucchini already, and he passed a few on to us. Can you spot the zuchs in the picture below?
I juillianed the zucchini with the thinnest setting on my microplane and sauteed it briefly with a little olive oil and then added the fresh pesto and a little bit of water. Very convincing “spaghetti,” and a nice change from starchy pasta. Add a few squash blossoms, stuffed with homemade ricotta and delicately fried crispy, and we were definitely satisfied with this fresh summer meal.
The first thing I thought of when I saw those green beans was a Niçoise salad. OK, it’s the first thing I think of any time I see green beans because I’m not crazy about them, but I love the complex tangy flavors of salad Niçoise. It was just a coincidence that we happened to have all the ingredients on hand when we got green beans and lettuce. I’d even boiled up a dozen eggs a few days before.
I used Julia Child’s recipe, with a few substitutions (such as lettuce greens for the Boston lettuce the recipe calls for.)
1 large head Boston-lettuce leaves, washed and dried
1 pound green beans, cooked and refreshed
1-1/2 tablespoons minced shallots
1/2 to 2/3 cup basic vinaigrette
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 or 4 ripe red tomatoes, cut into wedges (or 10 to 12 cherry tomatoes, halved)
3 or 4 “boiling” potatoes, peeled, sliced, and cooked
Two 3-ounce cans chunk tuna, preferably oil-packed
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved
1 freshly opened can of flat anchovy fillets
1/3 cup small black Niçoise-type olives
2 to 3 tablespoons capers
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
The original recipe calls for the anchovies left whole and placed atop the eggs, but I like to mince the anchovies and shallots and emulsify them into the vinaigrette for a more evenly distributed flavor. Toss each of the salad components individually with some vinaigrette then arrange the salad in some sort of eye-catching pattern to serve.
My salad could have been more pleasing to the eye, but it was very delicious.
Woohoo! I picked up our first CSA box last week and I was so excited, like a kid on Christmas Eve.
We got Shelling Peas, Salad Greens, Radishes, Sugar Snap Peas, and Snow Peas.
That’s a lot of peas. Snow peas I can dig, and they were a sweet crispy snack to munch on while I made dinner.
That rest of those peas… well, I don’t like peas. Actually I loathe peas.
But, I knew that I’d have a chance to try them again when we signed up for the CSA, and I was ready with a recipe that has always interested me, but for obvious pea-related reasons I’ve never actually made; Curry Flavored Fettuccine with Sweet Peas.
Shelling all those peas was kind of fun in a retro sipping lemonade on the porch in a rocking chair sort of way.
Just swap out rocking chair for couch and lemonade for Stone IPA.
And please excuse the dirty fingernails. What can I say, shelling peas is a dirtier business than I expected.
Making the curried fettuccine was easy, just add two tablespoon of your favorite curry powder to your standard pasta recipe and roll out.
Let the pasta dry while you bring a very large pot of salted water to boil. Toss in the shelled peas and the pasta and cook for just a few minutes. Turn out into a pan and toss with melted butter and a little bit of cream.
This recipe made me change my official stance on peas. I can now admit that there is a place in my world (and in my kitchen) for very fresh sweet peas. Go figure.
The greens and radishes made for spectuacular salads.
And of course the leftover radishes were delicious made into radish salads the next day; crusty bread, spicy radishes and good quality butter are the only ingredients, but this is one of those recipes that is so much greater than the sum of it’s parts. I find radish sandwiches absolutely addicting.
Wen we were on vacation last month we had dinner (and lunch!) at a great Italian restaurant Osteria Marco.
This is a restaurant I really admire, not only for the quality of the food, but because they make so much of it in house. One of their house made items I could not get enough of is their house made burrata cheese. I started thinking that if they could make it- well I probably could too.
Burrata is similar to mozzarella, in fact it is fresh mozzarella filled with a soft mixture of mozzarella and cream. It is delicious and decadent; best eaten super fresh, the same day it is made, and is therefore quite expensive.
Not so expensive when made at home. In fact, all it cost was a gallon of the freshest milk I could find, some citric acid, and rennet (both pantry staples for me) and a rainy morning.
Creamy, firm on the outside and soft in the middle. Served with some grilled, crusty bread and a salad it was a perfect lunch.
I just got word that we get our first CSA box next Wednesday, until then we’ve been hitting the local farmers markets and cooking whatever is in season.
This week it’s garlic scapes, the edible stalk of the garlic plant.
Garlic scapes make a great pesto- use in place of the basil in your favorite recipe with whatever nut and cheese (I like something sharp and salty) you prefer. Add olive oil, and somehow blend together; I usually use my imersion blender because I’m too lazy to get the food processor or blender down off the highest shelf.
I tossed the pesto with some long fusilli, roasted potatoes and a little pasta water.
A quick and tasty weeknight dinner- the pesto is particularly speedy because the scapes taste best and brightest left raw. The hot pasta mellows the garlic bite just enough, they taste like the last days of spring, which, I guess they are.
Saturdays. I love taking the dogs to the dog park, I love working in the garden and I love the farmers market. I love walking stall-to-stall touching, smelling, seeing and tasting the various goods of all local vendors. The farmers market is especially good here in Chicago. There are so many farms, dairy’s, and suppliers locally producing and so many people in Chicago, so there is a lot of impetus for all of them to show up. I love that every weekend there’s something new to try.
Last weekend it was spring garlic- the window is short, so you’d better snatch some up while you can.
I am a huge garlic fan- we go through Garlic like we’re trying to ward off vampires in Eisenbergia. Fortunately Josh is a big fan too, so he doesn’t mind that I double or triple the amount of garlic called for in recipes and generally overdose on it in any thing I whip up without a recipe.
In early spring you can find spring garlic available in farmers markets, but… aside from asparagus, not much else. I did find these buttery little fingerling potatoes, and I thought a warm potato salad would be a great way to showcase the spring garlic.
Use the whole garlic- roast the white bulbs with the potatoes and saute the chopped green parts. Mash the roasted garlic bulbs with some mayonnaise, and mix in the potatoes, garlic greens, sherry vinegar, salt and pepper. That’s it, not much of a recipe, but darn good eating.
This is the fourth Pioneer Woman recipe I’ve made, and I haven’t been disappointed once. This cake though, it was so good, so far on the other end of the spectrum from disappointment.
I’ve never really been a cake fan, I prefer pie, or bread pudding, or tiramisu; anything really, really moist. Cake, even the best, moistest cake, just tastes always dry to me. I like my food wet. I saw this recipe, and knew I was going to try it out. I didn’t hurt that I had a birthday right around the corner. If you are like me, and you like your food wet, this is the cake for you.
The one thing place I diverted from the recipe was in the cake pan. I split the batter into two smaller pans so I could give one cake to our downstairs neighbors. Lord knows nobody needs to eat an entire cake.
But if, for some reason, you want to eat an entire cake, I highly recommend this one.
I make yeast breads often. Once I got over my initial trepidation about yeast- will it rise? what if it doesn’t?- I discovered how versatile and easy to work with it is. In fact, I normally let my mixer do all the work.
I decided to go in another direction this month, I had a lot of beautiful lemons, and when I saw this recipe for lemon sticky buns on The Kitchn I decided to go for it.
The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.
So, my food styling needs some work.
And pumpkin risotto isn’t terribly exciting to begin with.
So I’ll spare you the long version, the short version is this “stir, stir, stir.”
And I think this pretty much sums up my recipe for success when it comes to risotto.