A few of my favorite things that I made the previous weeks:
Baked egg with bean salad and several pickles.
Clams with garlic, butter, and white wine. Oh, and parsley.
Cantaloupe agua fresca, good for those overripe melons and humid days. One tip: you don’t have to strain the fruit out if you puree it fine enough, like in a Vitamix.
Sesame soba with carrot-radish-cilantro pickles, chopped peanuts, green onions, and avocado.
Finally, if you are looking for an easy pickle for an overabundance of cucumbers, try the kogi cuke recipe. It works well for thinly sliced radishes, too.
“Instructions for living a life.
Tell about it.”
I had, in fact, planned on reviving this blog around this month last year. Due to unforeseen circumstances (a light euphemism if there was one), that never happened.
Until one day, looking through my old notebook, I found what I had planned to write then, and it was too good not to share.
Anyone who says summer is relaxing hasn’t lived in the South. It’s in fact, very tiring– the humidity, the upkeep of incessantly growing vines, the brutal heat. So while I appreciate the virtues of Mexican corn and Szechuan eggplant and tomato stacks, sometimes, simplicity is best.
Here’s a recipe for such simplicity:
- bunch of tomatoes, preferably homegrown
bunch of basil
- Chapel Hill Creamery mozzarella (or any local mozzarella)
- your favorite extra virgin olive oil (I use smoked olive oil)
- salt (can use smoked salt if your oil isn’t smoked)
- freshly ground pepper
- Wash tomatoes. Wash basil. Assemble on plates/bowls.
- Mix salt and pepper and olive oil in a small bowl.
- Slice mozzarella.
- Sit comfortably in a screened porch, dip mozarella in oil mixture, wrap a basil leaf around it, and eat. Immediately pop a tomato in your mouth.
- Enjoy the flavor explosion and watch the slow, gentle sunset.
lunch: green tomato and ricotta tartine with vin cotto @Scratch Bakery
dinner: salad bowl of peanut lettuce “noodles”, marinated radish, sesame cucumber pickle, roasted mushrooms, roasted tofu, steamed broccoli
dessert: peach slices in Julian hard cider Cherry Bomb
brunch: spanish tortilla and fennel slaw
dinner: raw oysters, soft shell crab with cauliflower, lemon tart
brunch: sesame cucumber pickle and tomato salad along with leftovers for brunch
dinner: salad bowl of cauliflower and carrot chow chow, savory roasted tofu with roasted mushrooms, tomatoes, smoked farmers cheese, fennel orange soda
a Korean style dinner: Korean BBQ tempeh, lettuce mixed with bulgogi sauce, cucumber-avocado salad, nori, brown rice, roasted green beans with parmesan
lunch: 3 salad platter: Greek, tomato and corn, deviled egg @Parker and Otis
braised leeks and fennel with muscovado lentils
roasted zucchini with parmesan
Chirba Chirba veggie dumplings and noodles
a slice of cheese pizza and lil’ farm squash slice @piepushers
Whew. That was a productive cooking week!
Pretty, no? While the dish sounds complicated, it is actually fairly straightforward and a great way to use up last of spring’s root vegetables, leeks and fennel. And while it is a little bit sweet, the savory flavor of leeks and fennel will make up for it!
Braised Leeks with Muscovado Lentils (adapted from Sprouted Kitchen)
- 2 leeks (Bluebird Meadows has a couple excellent o
- 1 TB unsalted butter
- 2 tsp EVOO
- 1 cup Imagine No-Chicken Broth
- 2 tsp agave
- salt and pepper
- 2/3 cup Black Beluga Lentils
- 1/2 TB unsalted butter
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 TB light brown sugar
- 2 tsp seasoned rice vinegar
- 3 TB fresh parsley (from my garden!)
- salt and pepper
- Halve leeks and wash them- make sure there is no grit on them. Heat butter on a pan at med-high heat and add leeks, cut side down. Cook 3 minutes or until browned.
- Drizzle the olive oil, flip, and cook 2 more minutes.
- Add broth, agave, salt and pepper. Turn down heat to a simmer, partially cover, and cook for 25 minutes til buttery (it is okay to have a bit of liquid left in the pan, but if you want, you can let it simmer til the liquid is gone while you finish cooking the rest).
- Add lentils and 1 1/4 cup water and a pinch of two of salt into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to a simmer and let cook gently until water is boiled off (you don’t want the lentils to be mushy).
- Heat butter and oil in another pan and then add lentils. Stir, then add sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and coat evenly (you don’t have to cook this for very long).
Braised Fennel (adapted from La Tavola Marche)
- 2 TB olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- a few pinches of red chili pepper flakes
- 1 large fennel, quartered
- a glass of white wine (sweet and dry is good)
- salt and pepper
- Heat olive oil with pepper flakes and garlic until golden brown. Discard or set aside the garlic.
- Add fennel, season with salt and pepper, and sautee for a few minutes.
- Add wine and cover. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook 25-30 minutes or until fennel is tender. As with the leeks, it is okay to have liquid left over, but you can let it cook until the liquid is gone.
On a plate, put the braised leeks and fennel, then the lentils, and sprinkle the dish with parsley.
Summer is definitely here. You can tell when there are bushels and bushels of green beans at the market.
If you are looking for a quick way to cook green beans without adding a pot to the stove, consider roasting them. They get soft and a little bit sweet, and complement the spices and cheese very nicely. It’s really a great side dish for any meal, and the leftovers are good cold with a bit of red wine vinegar.
Roasted Green Beans with Parmesan (replicated from Shutterbean)
- 1 lb green beans, trimmed
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 2 TB olive oil
- a pinch of red chili pepper flakes
- juice of 1/2 a lemon
- salt & pepper
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan or Chapel Hill Creamery Asiago
- Preheat oven to 400F. Place green beans, olive oil, pepper flakes and lemon juice on a baking sheet and toss well. Season with salt & pepper and roast in the oven for 10 minutes.
- Toss green beans and continue to cook another 10 minutes.
- Sprinkle Parmesan on top of green beans and cook for another 10 minutes until cheese is melted. Serve warm with squeeze of fresh lemon juice on top.
There’s a cauliflower surplus at the market, and while it’s very short, I’ve been buying lots of it and needed to figure out a way to use it up. While I love roasted cauliflower, I think cauliflower shines as a pickle. This chow chow is a great way to use up cauliflower and extend its eating season by a month. It would go well with savory tofu or other sausage-like dishes.
Cauliflower and Carrot Chow Chow, adapted from Bon Appetit
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into 1/2″ or bite size florets
- 3-4 carrots, sliced thinly
- 1 c apple cider vinegar
- 2/3 c sweet onion, chopped
- 1/4 c plus 1 1/2 TB sugar
- 4 tsp yellow mustard seeds
- 1 1/4 tsp dry mustard
- 1 1/4 tsp celery seeds
- Boil water with salt (8 cups + 1 TB salt). Add cauliflower and blanch for 2 minutes.
- Drain cauliflower and put on a tray. When cauliflower is cool enough to handle, put a mix of cauliflower and carrots in a jar (layering is fine).
- Boil apple cider vinegar, onion, sugar, yellow mustard seeds, dry mustard, and celery seeds all together. When sugar is dissolved, pour over the cauliflower and carrot mixture in the jar.
Seal, let cool at room temperature, and enjoy within a month.
This is a great way to extend the flavor of fennel and also an answer to “what am I going to do with all these fennel fronds?” Fennel syrup, with just star anise, tastes strongly like a yummy licorice soda with a very strong anise flavor. Fennel syrup, with star anise, cinnamon, orange zest, and ginger, tastes a bit more mellow and pairs very nicely with cucumber and mint for a very close version of nonalcoholic Pimm’s Cup.
Fennel Syrup (from Gluten-Free Girl)
- 3 cups chopped fennel fronds
- 1 1/2 cups turbinado sugar
- 1 star anise
- 2-inch piece of ginger
- 1 cinnamon stick
- zest of one orange
- Put fronds in a large bowl and pour sugar on top. Mix the fronds and sugar and make sure most of the fronds are covered in sugar (it is okay to have bits of green pieces not entirely covered).
- Cover and leave alone overnight, or 2 nights (in my case, leave overnight at room temperature and next day, mix again and cover and put in refrigerator for another night).
- When ready, pour in enough water to cover the sugar mixture and let sit for one hour.
- Pour all into a pot, and add star anise and other optional ingredients. Boil at a med-high heat, then turn down to a simmer for about 15-35 minutes until thick. (It never really got thick, but you could tell it was sweet- try tasting a bit of it).
- Strain using a colander or cheesecloth and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate and use it in drinks.
- mix with fizzy water
- muddle lemon cucumber and mint, add syrup, ice, and fizzy water
- fizzy water and orange juice