July 2010 Archives

Local cheeseburger, corn, and a tomato and cucumber salad

cheeseburger1.jpgA 1/3 lb. Tangletown Farm organic beef burger (from Meat CSA week #1) with Cabot cheddar cheese, a Wellspring farm tomato (from CSA Week #7), and Romaine lettuce on a Barowsky's wheat hamburger bun (from Maine, which is sort of local-ish).

Served with Ellie's sweet corn (from the Montpelier Farmers Market) and a tomato, cucumber, and basil salad with balsamic dressing.

And a glass of Switchback beer (brewed in Burlington, VT).

The salad was mainly something to use up the rest of the tomato and some cucumber from CSA Week #6, but the basil didn't really work. Live and learn.

Cheddar broccoli soup

This is a very delicious but somewhat labor-intensive soup. It's a pretty small recipe because the soup is very rich and I don't eat it very often. Fortunately, it freezes well. It also multiplies easily.

Makes about four 7 oz. servings.

1.0 oz. clarified butter (2 tbsp.)
1.50 oz. yellow onions, fine dice (half a small onion)
0.75 oz. mushrooms, fine dice (about 3 medium white mushrooms)
0.75 oz. celery, fine dice (about half a stalk)
0.25 oz. garlic, minced (2 cloves)
2.6 oz. broccoli, cut into small pieces and steamed

1.0 oz. flour (about 1/8 cup)
28 fl. oz. chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
2.5 oz. beer (preferable ale, or can substitute dry white wine)
8 oz. grated cheddar cheese
2 tsp. prepared mustard
4 fl. oz. heavy cream (hot)
Tabasco sauce
Worcestershire sauce

cheddarbroccoli2.jpgIn clarified butter, sweat the white mirepoix (onions, celery, mushrooms) with the garlic over low heat ("3" on my stove) until the onions are translucent. Do not brown.

Add the flour to make a blond roux. Cook for 12 minutes. Lower heat if necessary to prevent browning.

cheddarbroccoli3.jpgAdd the stock gradually while whisking to remove any lumps. Simmer for 45 minutes. The soup base can be chilled for later use at this point, as well.

Bring the soup base back to a simmer if necessary. Add the beer and cheese and heat the soup gently but do not let it boil. I used Cabot Extra Sharp Vermont Cheddar cheese.

Add the mustard (I like to use Dijon mustard) and hot cream and bring the soup back to a simmer.

Add the cooked broccoli. The broccoli could also be omitted to just make cheddar ale soup.

Add more stock if necessary to adjust the consistency. Season with Tabaso and Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.

With the substitution of vegetable stock and vegetarian Worcestershire sauce this recipe is vegetarian. Since cheese and cream are major ingredients, there is no vegan or lactose-free option for this soup. It probably could be modified to be wheat-free by substituting for the flour and substituting wine for beer.

If preparing extra for freezing, put the soup into vacuum bags and rapidly chill. Vacuum seal then freeze.
This recipe is based on the Cheddar Cheese Soup recipe in The Professional Chef, 7th Edition, from the Culinary Institute of America, p. 332.

Clarified butter

Clarified butter is the butter with the water and milk solids removed. It's great for cooking because it burns at a much higher temperature (400°F) than normal butter (250°F). It also keeps for a long period of time without going rancid.

Heat butter in a heavy sauce pan over low heat ("4" on my stove). This will take some time, about 20 minutes, but you can just let the butter melt then separate. You don't need to stir it or otherwise mess with it.
clarifiedbutter2.jpgclarifiedbutter3.jpgResist the temptation to turn up the heat because the milk solids burn easily. Once foam starts to form on top of the butter, scoop it off and discard. Lower the heat to prevent boiling.
Once foam mostly stops forming remove from the heat and pour into a heatproof container suitable for pouring. I like to use a pyrex measuring cup.
Scoop off any foam that forms and let sit for several minutes. Gently pour into another container leaving the milk solids in the measuring cup and allowing only the pure butterfat into the storage container. I like to use an airtight glass storage container with a plastic top.

Let cool then refrigerate. It should keep for months. Clarified butter technically could be stored at room temperature, but since there's a chance you won't get all of the milk solids out, it's safer to store it in the refrigerator. Like butter, it can also be frozen.
Ghee is a form of clarified butter where the milks solids are browned before separating.

Thai refrigerator

I was in the mood for something Thai, so I set out to make something from the contents of my refrigerator and freezer.

I started with 2.5 oz. of frozen pre-cooked pork.

According to my trusty Thai restaurant takeout menu, pad ga prau contains chili, garlic, onion, bell pepper, and basil. That sounded good, and I have everything except the bell pepper. I substituted a couple jalapeños.

Since I lost some volume there I had to add something else, so I went with the ingredients in pad khing, which contains, among other things, mushrooms and scallions. I had those. And I still had an abundance of mushrooms to use up after mushroom risotto yesterday.

thairef2.jpgHeat a sauté pan over medium-high heat.

Add a little toasted sesame oil to the pan. Cook the onions, white parts of the scallions, and garlic for a few minutes until the onions are softened.

Add the jalapeños and cooked and defrosted pork and cook for a few minutes.

Add the mushrooms and cook for a minute.

Add the green parts of the scallions and cook for a minute.

Add the basil, black pepper, a couple tablespoons of Thai chili sauce, a couple dashes of hot pepper sesame oil, and a little soy sauce.

Serve with rice.

Of course you can put just about anything in it, and I presume it would be just as good vegetarian/vegan by leaving out the pork. The Lee Kum Kee chili garlic sauce is vegan.

CSA Week #7

csa7-1.jpgThis week in my Wellspring Farm small share CSA:

Yellow onion

Broccoli gets cleaned and put in a ziplock bag - never vacuum sealed, as vacuum sealing uncooked broccoli or cauliflower causes it to release the most pungent and awful of odors. Really!

I like to clean kale and chard and put it in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator. Not only does it take less space, but I find that if I pre-clean and prep them, I'm more likely to cook them.

Onions, potatoes, and tomatoes are stored in cool storage. Tomatoes could be left out at room temperature, but it's pretty hot in my kitchen.

I previously tried vacuum sealing zucchini with initial, but apparently unfounded, success. I washed them and put them in a ziplock bag this time.

The cucumber I vacuum sealed in a bag with a paper towel - a technique that seems to work fairly well. Update: I decided that I no longer like this technique. After two weeks the cucumber looks and feels normal on the outside, but gets a bizarre texture on the inside!

Carrots are vacuum sealed, though this is not really necessary since they'll last a long time in the refrigerator regardless.

csa7-2.jpgOne of the tomatoes went into Local cheeseburger, corn, and tomato and cucumber salad.

I used some of the potatoes in Tingua poblana - Pork with smoky tomato sauce and potatoes.

I had some broccoli as a side to roast beef, gravy, and rice.

One of the zucchini went into Zucchini stir-fry with bacon.

I prepared the kale the same way as I would prepare spinach in Sardines, spinach, and rice.

The carrots went into Spicy carrot ginger soup (revisit).


CSA Week 6

Frozen pancakes

Much to my surprise, my pancakes freeze quite well. After cooking and allowing the pancakes to cool, I put them in a vacuum bag and put them in the freezer, but did not seal the bag yet. Once frozen solid, I then vacuum sealed the package, though you could just use a ziplock bag.
To serve:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Defrost the pancakes slightly - I heated them in the microwave on high for 30 seconds - so they can be separated. Lightly grease a sheet pan with a little spray oil and place the pancakes on the sheet pan. You can also add a few slices of frozen, pre-cooked bacon.
pancakes3.jpgHeat for 8 to 10 minutes. Add oven-safe plates in the last minute so the pancakes can be served on a hot plate, which helps them stay hot.

Mushroom risotto

I had a bunch of white mushrooms to use up, so I decided to make a batch of delicious mushroom risotto. It would have been even better with fresh shiitake or chanterelle mushrooms, but that would have defeated the purpose of finding a recipe to use up some mushrooms I had on hand.

This recipe serves one for a dinner-sized serving, or two as a side dish, and multiplies easily. Just don't make more than you're going to eat immediately, because risotto does not reheat well at all.

3.5 oz. arborio rice (1/2 cup)
2 tbsp. butter
mushrooms, diced
1 shallot, minced
4 oz. white wine (1/2 cup)
24 oz. mushroom stock
black pepper, freshly ground
parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Heat the mushroom stock in a saucepan.

Heat 1 tbsp. butter in a sauté pan over medium high heat. Add diced mushrooms of your choice and quantity. You can even make this without any added mushrooms, if you want. Cook the mushrooms for 3 to 4 minutes, then set them aside.

Wipe out the sauté pan or use a different one. Heat over medium-high heat ("8" on my stove). Add the other 1 tbsp. butter. Add the minced shallots. Cook for a minute.

Add 3.5 oz. arborio rice (1/2 cup) to the pan and make sure it gets thoroughly coated with the butter. Cook for a 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add 4 oz. (1/2 cup) of white wine and heat until most of the liquid is absorbed.

Add hot mushroom broth 4 oz. (1/2 cup) at a time. Stir. You don't need to stir constantly, but probably at least once between the time you add the broth until it's almost entirely absorbed.

Repeat adding broth and waiting for it to absorb until the rice is tender. This took 6 iterations for me, though it may vary.

When the last of the liquid is almost absorbed, reduce the heat. Add pepper to taste. Grate some Parmigiano Reggiano over the top, stir to incorporate. You probably won't need to add any salt, but if you do, add it now.


Of course this dish is vegetarian. Substitute oil, such as olive oil, for the butter, and leave out the parmesan cheese and the dish is vegan.

Use a good quality mushroom broth - I use Pacific organic broth in the aseptic carton.

This recipe could be made with chicken broth, but it's not nearly as mushroom-y which I think defeats the purpose.

Grated raw beet salad

This recipe has been really popular on the New York Times web site, so I thought I'd give it a try with the beet from CSA Week #5. I'd say it's good, but I didn't think it was all that. I'm skeptical that people who don't like beets would really like it. Now deep fried beet balls, that's another matter entirely.

8 oz. beets, peeled and grated
3 tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice (half an orange)
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (half a lemon)
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. parsley, minced

Serve on a bed of romaine lettuce.

Meat CSA Installment #2

It's been four weeks and it's time for the second installment of my small share Tangletown Farm meat CSA!

In this installment:

Fresh chicken
Pork spare ribs
Pork sausage
Ground beef
Porterhouse steak
Beef short ribs

I made:

Roasted chicken with the fresh chicken. That's actually an earlier chicken, but the preparation is the same.

Hasepfeffer (German pepper rabbit) with the rabbit.

I cooked then froze sausage patties with the sausage.

I cooked the steak as, um, steak. Though I divided it into three servings. One of the servings I made with sautéed arugula and steak fried potatoes.

I used the ground beef to make Meatloaf.

Meat CSA Installment #1

Rosemary garlic lamb pita with tzatziki

lambpita.jpgI had fresh cucumbers from CSA Week #6 so I decided to make a batch of tzatziki - a cucumber and garlic, yogurt-based sauce with one of them.

This dish is quick and easy with pre-cooked and frozen roasted lamb. I also froze my homemade pita bread.

I've made it before; the only change was increasing the amount of garlic.

Beef with broccoli and scallions

beefbroccoli.jpgA delicious and quick stir-fry:

2 scallions, cut into 1" pieces, white and green parts separated
broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
3.5 oz. pre-cooked stir fry beef
garlic, minced
black pepper, ground
stir fry sauce
soy sauce

Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add a little olive oil. Sauté the white parts of the scallions and stems of broccoli for several minutes. Add the florets of broccoli and cook for a few more minutes. Add the meat and garlic and cook for a few more minutes. Add the green parts of the scallions and cook for a minute.

Season with freshly ground black pepper, some stir fry sauce (I like Lee Kum Kee vegetarian stir-fry sauce) and a little soy sauce. Serve with rice.

The broccoli was from CSA Week #6 and the purple scallions were from CSA Week #5. The garlic could have been from CSA Week #6 but I was still using up some older garlic.

I seasoned the Tangletown Farm Delmonico steak with salt, pepper, garlic power, onion powder, a little cayenne pepper, and olive oil. I grilled it for a couple minutes on each side over very high heat, put it in a vacuum bag, rapidly chilled it, refrigerated it, then vacuum sealed it.

I froze it again, though I could have used it right away. The great thing about finishing a steak in the sous vide is that you can take the frozen steak in a vacuum bag out of the freezer and put it right into the 133°F water bath for an hour and a half and you get a perfectly medium rare steak!
delmonico3.jpg The steak came from the first installment of my Meat CSA.

The potatoes are from the purple potatoes in CSA Week #5 and are boiled, then sautéed with butter, garlic, and finished with parsley (from CSA Week #4).

The broccoli was from CSA Week #6 and just steamed.

Served with a glass of Cannonball Cabernet Sauvignon (2007, California).

Potatoes with garlic, butter, and parsley

I made this with purple potatoes from CSA Week 5 (also 6) though any small white potato would work fine. By the way, the purple potatoes only have purple skin - they're regular white potatoes on the inside.

Peel the potatoes and cut into reasonably sized pieces. This makes eating them easier, and also allows them to cook faster.

potato1.jpgBring a pot of water to a boil and add the potatoes. Boil for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Drain.

Heat a sauté pan over medium heat and melt a couple tablespoons of butter. Add a few minced cloves of garlic and heat to release the flavors without burning the garlic. Add the potatoes. Cook for a few minutes, then season with salt, pepper, and a handful of finely chopped parsley.

The parsley was from CSA Week #4 and still good, with its roots wrapped in wet paper towel in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator.

CSA Week #6

csa6-1.jpgWeek 6 of my Wellspring Farm CSA included:

Salad Mix
Yellow Squash

And everything cleaned, prepped, and ready for storage:

csa6-2.jpgSalad mix is vacuum sealed in pint canning jars; it will keep for 4 to 6 days this way. (Heartier lettuce like romaine will last for two weeks, even if cut.)

Broccoli is washed and slightly cut up as I had to remove some bad spots. Broccoli should never be vacuum sealed unless blanched first. Cauliflower as well.

Potatoes are washed and placed in loose bags in my cool storage (55°F), not refrigerated. (Later on I bought some paper lunch bags and transferred my potatoes to paper bags, which are better than the plastic bags pictured above.)

Squash and zucchini are vacuum sealed and refrigerated. I'm rethinking my vacuum sealing, however. It looks good at first; even after weeks zucchini seemed firm and not dried out. It wasn't until I sliced them I noticed fairly severe subcutaneous damage - soft spots right under the skin that aren't really visible until you cut them open.

Cucumber is vacuum sealed with a paper towel and placed in the refrigerator; this seems to work quite well, even if the cucumber is cut. Update: I decided that I no longer like this technique. After two weeks the cucumber looks and feels normal on the outside, but gets a bizarre texture on the inside!

Garlic is put in my garlic jar in my 55°F cool storage.

Tomatoes are left out on the counter, never refrigerated as they lose their flavor. Cut tomatoes are refrigerated, however. But it's best to avoid that.

I made:

Delmonico steak with broccoli and potatoes with garlic, butter, and parsley with the broccoli. The potatoes were from Week #5, but are the same purple potatoes in as Week #6.

Beef with broccoli and scallions stir-fry.

Rosemary garlic lamb pita with tzatziki with one of the cucumbers.

There was garlic in Thai refrigerator (random sort of Thai stir-fry whose contents were based on what I had in my refrigerator).

I made Zucchini stir fry with bacon with the zucchini.

Half a cucumber went into Local cheeseburger, corn, and tomato and cucumber salad.

I used the last of the potatoes to make Steak Fries.


CSA Week #5
CSA Week #4

Sausage and green pepper stir-fry

I periodically make this simple stir fry and serve it with rice for lunch. It's quick and easy using IQF (individually quick frozen) cooked breakfast sausage links, such as "Heat 'n Serve" from Jimmy Dean (in a bag in the freezer case in the supermarket). I just take three links, defrost and partially heat them in the microwave for 1 minute, and cut them into small pieces.

Heat a sauté pan over medium high heat. Add a little olive oil and the green peppers. When mostly cooked, add the minced garlic and cut sausage.

I don't put the garlic in at the beginning because it will have a tendency to burn in dishes like this.

Season with freshly ground black pepper and soy sauce.

Serve with rice. Each serving contains a whole green pepper!

Citrus garlic striped bass taco with salsa fresca

fishtaco1.jpgDelicious and healthy fish tacos. The salsa fresca has jalapeños, red onion, tomato, garlic, cilantro, and lime, and they're topped with shredded napa cabbage.

Any white fish could be used - I used striped bass (about 0.6 lbs.).

Season with salt, pepper, and place in a vacuum bag with juice of a half of a lemon, half of a lime, a couple cloves of garlic, and a tbsp. olive oil. Vacuum seal and marinate in the refrigerator for an hour.

You could just marinate in a bowl, though you'd need to make a lot more marinade.

My intention was to sous vide for 35 minutes at 139°F and then finish it off on the grill. I was foiled by a torrential downpour as I was just about to grill so I didn't get the extra flavor of grilling, but it was still delicious!

You could also just cook it all the way through on the grill, and eliminate the sous vide step entirely.

I prepared steamed corn tortillas as I did for my smoked pork tacos.

And a half batch of salsa fresca.

fishtaco2.jpgThe tacos were assembled with a steamed corn tortilla, several thin slices of fish, several spoonfuls of salsa fresca, and a topping of shredded napa cabbage. Lettuce also works.

This meal also works really well with flour tortillas, which also have the advantage of being able to be easily reheated in the microwave by placing them in a warm, damp kitchen towel and microwaving for 0:45.

ate.2011.09.22.d.jpgThe filling keeps well vacuum sealed and frozen so you can make a quick fish taco any time. Or at least any time you have the ingredients to make salsa fresca.

Beer steamed clams with garlic butter

clams1.jpgI remember eating both steamed clams and even raw clams at my Dad's company clam bake when I was so little I was eye level with the table people cut open the raw clams on. Keep in mind that this was 37 years ago. I'm pretty sure children are no longer supposed to eat raw shellfish (at least according to the CDC).

Funny thing, though, I don't recall ever cooking clams myself!

I thought I'd start simple since I've never done this before:

I got a dozen clams. One was definitely iffy so I threw that out and put the remainder in a container of cold water, a few ice cubes, salt, and a little corn meal. Put in the refrigerator and leave for 20 minutes. [From here and here, and the tip of adding salt from What Einstein Told His Cook.]

Carefully lift each clam out, rinse under water, and set aside.

Pour some beer in the bottom of a pan with steamer basket, preferably large enough to hold the clams in one layer. Don't fill the beer too high because it will expand greatly when boiled. Add the clams and bring to a boil. Once rapidly boiling, cook for 3 to 5 minutes more. [From here.]

While the clams are boiling, heat butter (I used a half stick) and several cloves of garlic, pressed, in a small sauté pan. Be careful not the burn the garlic. When almost done, add a handful of finely chopped parsley. [From here.]

When the clams are done, remove them from the steamer. Discard any that did not open or otherwise iffy; I lost another two that way. I removed the top shell, removed the clam foot with scissors, and separated the meat from the shell, and generally cleaned up any messyness to make eating it easier.

Pour the butter, parsley, and garlic mixture over the clams on a hot plate and serve with crusty bread!

The parsley came from CSA Week #5.

Coffee out of control!

coffee2.jpgI rearranged coffee center. The K-Cup obsession may be out of control. It was kind of bad before, but I think it's getting worse.

Tuna sushi plate #1

Update: New recipe at Tuna Sushi Plate #3.

I couldn't decide what to make for dinner so I took a short power nap and the answer came to me in a dream:

Hosomaki: tuna, shredded carrot, cucumber, rice, and nori roll
Nigirizushi: tuna on rice
Tuna sashimi
Rice with furikaki
Cold sake (Momokawa Silver)

The carrots and cucumber are from CSA Week #5.

Jerk-style chicken #1

jerkchicken1.jpgI thought I'd make a batch of this most delicious spicy Jamaican food. I've never been impressed with the jars of jerk seasoning in the grocery store, so I thought I'd try making my own.

This version was good but not great - clearly not spicy enough and I think it might need to spend some time on the grill to get that blackened look of real jerk chicken. But still very flavorful and tender, and quite delicious, nonetheless.

I fully admit that this is not an authentic recipe. (1) I can't get fresh Scotch Bonnet peppers in Montpelier, Vermont. (2) I'd just as soon not eat peppers that hot. So here's my compromise made with three whole jalapeños (including all of the seeds and ribs), which give it a nice flavor and a little heat, though not quite enough. Maybe next time I'll throw in some dried habaneros.

Apparently jerk was traditionally smoked, but more recently it's become standard to grill it over charcoal in an old oil drum. And since I didn't have a spare oil drum handy, I decided to go to my old standbys, the sous vide machine and the Bradley smoker. This method makes it very tender and moist, has great flavor, and is essentially foolproof.

0.147 oz. whole allspice, ground (1 tbsp.)
0.068 oz. dried thyme leaves, ground (1 tbsp.)
0.107 oz. cayenne pepper (1/2 tbsp.)
0.133 oz. black pepper, ground (1/2 tbsp.)
0.190 oz. salt (1/2 tbsp.)
0.074 oz. nutmeg, ground (¾ tsp.)
0.081 oz. cinnamon (¾ tsp.)
0.023 oz. cloves, ground (1/2 tsp.)
0.8 oz. garlic, minced (3 cloves)
4.6 oz. jalapeño peppers, minced (3 large, including seeds and ribs)
2.6 oz. scallions, white and green parts, chopped (3 large)
4.4 oz. onion, chopped (1 small)
vegetable oil to make sauce consistency

jerkchicken2.jpgPut the ingredients in the food processor, adding enough oil to make a smooth sauce. This recipe makes an abundance of jerk seasoning - you could probably halve the recipe and still have enough for a 4.5 lb. chicken. If you're careful not to cross-contaminate the sauce with chicken you can save it; I put it in a vacuum bag and froze it because I was unsure of how long it could be safely stored in the refrigerator.

Break down a 4 to 5 pound chicken. Split the breast, leaving the breast meat on the bone. Leave the skin on the chicken.

Liberally coat the chicken in the spice mixture. Place in vacuum bags and seal. It will probably take a two or three bags. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours, preferably 24 hours.

Sous vide for 2 hours at 160°F.

Remove from the sous vide and let rest for a half hour. Drain the liquid from the bag. Put in the smoker for 1 hour at 200°F to 225°F

This recipe is a combination of the Wikipedia article and this recipe, and this recipe.

First sweet corn of the year!


It's a little early, but it's always fun to have the first sweet corn of the year. Usually not the best of the year, but still a treat.

My favorite way to prepare it is:

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.

Remove the husks and silks.

Salt the water. Add the corn to the pot and bring back to rolling boil. Cover the pot, turn off the heat, and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove the corn from the hot water and serve immediately.

This works best if the pot is not overly crowded, because it will take too long to come back to a boil.

Zucchini fritters

Faced with an abundance of zucchini from CSA Week #4 and CSA Week #5 I decided to make zucchini fritters today. They were pretty good!

10 oz. zucchini, shredded (1 medium-large)
3.8 oz. yellow onion, chopped (1 small)
1.2 oz. jalapeño, chopped (1 large)
0.5 oz. garlic, chopped (2 large clove)
0.3 oz. fresh parsley, chopped (5 sprigs)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
1 large egg, beaten
2.2 oz. all-purpose flour (1/2 cup)

Shred the zucchini using a coarse grater or the shredding attachment for the food processor.

I don't normally like to mince my vegetables in the food processor because it tends to create a vegetable mush, but in a fritter it doesn't really matter, and the food processor already needed to be washed after grating the zucchini so I just roughly chopped everything else and put it in the food processor with the steel blade. If not using the food processor, then finely dice everything.

I like my food a little spicy so I stemmed the jalapeño and put it in whole. If you don't want it as spicy leave out the seeds and ribs. If I made this again I might add some cayenne as well.

Add the seasoning, egg, and flour to make batter.
zucchinifritters2.jpgI prefer to make fritters in the deep fryer, a couple minutes at 360°F. Take a small handful and drop directly into the hot oil.

It's also possible to sauté them in a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil, 2 to 3 minutes on each side, though the batter is really soft and the fritters are pretty fragile, so this may be tricky.

Remove from the deep fryer and drain. Salt again while still hot.

Can be served with lemon or tzatziki. Or just plain!

This recipe is a combination of a recipe from Martha Stuart, a rather poorly implemented recipe from allrecipes, and my own modifications.

Cool storage

I have air conditioning, but I like it hot. My A/C is usually set at 81°F if it's on at all. My kitchen is generally hotter than that.

As it turns out, there are a whole host of things that are unhappy at this temperature. I long ago discovered wine is one of those things, so I have one of those reach-in wine chillers.

I have a basement but it's inhospitable for storing anything. It might be suitable for growing mushrooms but I hesitate to attempt that because it might be so hospitable for that they might take over.

So the solution was a second wine cooler. Filled with non-wine.

I removed half of the shelves and covered the remainder with sheets of plexi-glass and now have a 55°F storage space for chocolate, popcorn, seeds, nuts, anchovies, potatoes, bagels, garlic, onions, and shallots.

The Peltier-based wine chillers are inexpensive, use very little electricity, and work great for this purpose. Highly recommended!

Vacuum sealing avocado

Avocado is particularly troublesome to preserve because it oxidizes so easily (and turns brown). A bit of lemon or lime might help a little, but dealing with a leftover half an avocado is a problem if you've just made a BLTA sandwich.

Fortunately, avocado vacuum seals really well. For best results, leave the pit in (it contains chemicals that also help prevent oxidation) and vacuum seal. This is my half avocado after two days.

Of course you're still always better off using it right away, but in a pinch it saves pretty well in a vacuum, even cut in half.

Spicy Carrot Ginger Soup

carrotgingersoup.jpgThis soup is very tasty, healthy, and a great way to use up excess carrots. Seriously, there is a half pound of carrots in every bowl! And it's not really spicy, but it definitely has more going on than regular carrot ginger soup.

I have an updated version of this recipe with more pictures and a few modifications.

1.5 oz. unsalted butter (3 tbsp.) (can substitute olive oil)
6.7 oz. yellow onion, chopped (1 onion)
0.8 oz. ginger, finely chopped (a little more than 1/8 cup; can use more if desired)
0.3 oz. garlic, minced (2 cloves)
4 oz. white wine
28 oz. chicken stock (can substitute vegetable stock)
24 oz. carrots, peeled and diced
1 tbsp. Thai red curry paste
fresh ground black pepper
dash of cayenne pepper

Heat a large pot over medium heat 3 tbsp. unsalted butter. Add the onions and garlic and heat for several minutes until translucent.

Add the ginger and cook for a few more minutes.

Increase the heat to high and add the white wine. Boil for a few minutes to reduce the wine slightly and boil off the alcohol.

Add the chicken stock and carrots and bring back to a boil. Skim off any foam that forms on top of the liquid and discard. The soup is quite thick when done, yet it has no thickener other than carrots. You could add more stock to stretch it and make a thinner soup.

Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes or until the carrots are tender.

When done, add the Thai red curry paste. I use Thai Kitchen which just contains red chili pepper, garlic, lemongrass, galangal (Thai ginger), salt, spices, and kaffir lime. It's vegan (and gluten-free), too.

Purée the soup using a blender or food processor in batches. Transfer to a large bowl to adjust the seasoning. Add salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste.

Makes 3 12 oz. servings. Easily doubles.

I make my own chicken stock when I roast chicken and freeze it for recipes like this.

You could also use vegetable stock to make a vegetarian or vegan (replace the butter with oil, of course) version of this soup. And it should be gluten free. And lactose free if you substitute for the butter. We can accommodate almost any food choice or allergy with this recipe!

More or less based on this recipe, scaled and some of the preparation steps modified. The original recipe called for curry powder, which curiously I did not have so I substituted some Thai red curry paste.

This soups also freezes well. I like to vacuum seal it and reheat it by bringing a pot of water to a boil, adding the frozen bag, bringing back to a boil, reducing the heat to simmer, and simmering, covered, for 20 minutes.

Served with a salad of mixed greens, carrots, and cucumber (from CSA Week #5), celery, Annie's Naturals Green Goddess dressing, and Olivia's garlic and herb croutons.
salad21.jpgAlso, a slice of Red Hen Bakery Ciabatta bread with olive oil. And a glass of Crossroads Winery 2008 Marlborough (New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc.

I made this soup again, using 32 oz. of vegetable broth and it was delicious, and also made four servings instead of 3.

CSA Week #5

csa5-1.jpgIt's week 5 of my Wellspring Farm CSA and none too soon... my refrigerator was, surprisingly, looking a little bare!

This week:

Spicy mixed salad greens
Yellow squash
Purple Potatoes
Purple Scallions

Most things are vacuum sealed for freshness. The salad mix is vacuum sealed in canning jars so it doesn't get crushed.

I tried a new experiment with my cucumbers. Cucumbers definitely last longer in vacuum sealed bags but get really wet, especially if they've been cut. I thought I'd try sticking a paper towel in the vacuum bag and seeing what happens. Update: I decided that I no longer like this technique. After two weeks the cucumber looks and feels normal on the outside, but gets a bizarre texture on the inside!

I'm rethinking my vacuum sealing of zucchini. It looks good at first; even after weeks they seemed firm and not  dried out. It wasn't until I sliced them I noticed fairly severe subcutaneous damage - soft spots right under the skin that aren't really visible until you cut them open.

Basil just gets its roots wrapped in a wet paper towel and placed in a ziplock bag. Scallions are just put in a ziplock bag as well, though this time I tried cutting them in half rather than bending them in half, un-cut, since they're too big for my bags.

Potatoes don't get vacuum sealed but do get washed and put into a bag and stored at 55°F, not refrigerator temperature (40°F). Later on I bought some paper lunch bags and transferred my potatoes to paper bags, which are better than the plastic bags pictured above.

csa5-2.jpgI made:

A salad from the salad mix, cucumber, and carrots and served it with my carrot ginger soup.

A quick stir-fry of zucchini and a little bacon.

Zucchini fritters.

There are scallions in the Jamaican jerk-style chicken.

There were carrots and cucumber in my tuna sushi plate.

The purple potatoes went into Potatoes with butter, garlic, and parsley.

There were scallions in Beef with broccoli and scallions stir-fry.

There are beets in grated raw beet salad.

There were scallions in Thai refrigerator (random sort of Thai stir-fry whose contents were based on what I had in my refrigerator).

Week 4

Sardines, spinach, and rice

sardines.jpgThis dish is unlikely to gain widespread popularity, but it's fast, healthy, and I think it's quite tasty. I frequently eat it for lunch. It's also good as a sardine, spinach, and rice bowl.

When I get fresh spinach I wash and divide it, vacuum sealing it in pint jars. It keeps for anywhere from 6 to 14 days that way.

Then I can just heat a sauté pan over medium high heat, add a little olive oil, and a jar of fresh spinach. Once wilted, add pepper, garlic powder, hana katsuo (Japanese dried flaked bonito fish), and soy sauce. It should only take a couple minutes.

It's served above with rice with furikake (nori and sesame seeds, in this case).

For protein, there's a half a can of sardines. These are Wild Planet sustainably caught California coast wild sardines packed in water. Not everyone likes sardines, but if you do, this dish is easy and very healthy. Sardines are also relatively inexpensive and still abundant in the ocean. And a great source of Omega-3s.

I've also made this with kale instead of spinach. Remove the leaves from the stems and use only the leafy part. It takes longer to cook and isn't as tender, but it's still good.

Update September 2, 2015: I changed the serving to a full 4.375 oz. tin of sardines, since it's only 182 calories.


Sort of Japanese pan fried sole, spinach, and rice

This meal is very fast to prepare, simple, and probably not everyone's cup of tea. But it's healthy, inexpensive, doesn't require any fancy cooking appliances, and is pretty tasty!

I used fillet of sole, but pretty much any thin white fish can be used. Season the fish with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Dredge in flour.
Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to barely coat the bottom of the pan and cook the fish for a few minutes. When lightly browned, flip.

I served this with fresh spinach barely sautéed in olive oil and seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, hana katsuo (dried bonito fish flakes), and soy sauce.

The remainder of the plate is white sushi rice topped with furikake - a mixture of nori (seaweed) and sesame seeds, in this case (aji nori furikake).

American style, the fish would probably be served with lemon, but I served this with soy sauce, because, well, I serve everything serve with soy sauce.

Rapid chilling

One of my favorite techniques with the sous vide is to grill or otherwise brown the meat before putting it in the sous vide. I prefer this to doing it in the other order because my grill is inconveniently located down a flight of stairs from my kitchen, and also because right before serving is when I'm getting everything else ready and it's not a convenient time to be outside grilling. The sous vide will also hold the meat at the perfect doneness until everything else is ready so that's another reason do to the sous vide step last instead of first as is the case with many recipes.

One catch to this whole thing, however is that you need to rapidly cool the meat. This is necessary to keep the meat out of the danger zone (40°F to 140°F). It's also necessary because the meat needs to be cold before vacuum sealing in chamber vacuum sealer or the bag will inflate like a balloon which is not what you want for sous vide.

It's also not a good idea to put hot things in the refrigerator (takes too long to chill and also warms the refrigerator) or freezer (may warm the freezer unacceptably).

The restaurant solution to this is a big container and lots of ice. I really mean lots of ice - not a bucket of water with some ice cubes floating in it. I do not have that much ice in my home freezer's ice maker, however.

What I found works well, however, is to use flexible, reusable blue ice packs. Before cooking, fill a container (I used a 9x13 glass baking pan) with cold water and an ice pack. When done cooking, put the meat in a vacuum bag but do not seal. Place the bag in the cold water bath, sandwiched between the two layers of ice pack and underwater. Make sure the end of the bag is open and out of the water!

The water in the bath makes for efficient heat transfer out of the meat, and the ice packs are easily reusable.

The general rule is that you have to get the food from 135°F to 70°F within 2 hours, and this technique should do it in less than 20 minutes. Subtract the amount of time it took to do the first part from 6 hours and the remainder is the amount of time you have to get the food the rest of the way to 41°F, so 5:40 which is easily to do in the refrigerator once you get it to 60°F or so.

BLTA - Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato and Avocado sandwich

The BLT is one of my favorite sandwiches, and it's even better with some avocado. With frozen, pre-cooked bacon it's super easy to make, too.

This is Vermont Smoke and Cure bacon, local lettuce from my Wellspring Farm CSA. It's a little early for tomatoes in Vermont, and of course avocados don't grow here. The bread is Vermont Bread Company alfalfa sprout.

Zucchini bread and yogurt with granola and blueberries

A light breakfast of homemade zucchini bread, Greek yogurt with a little real Vermont maple syrup, homemade granola, and fresh blueberries.

Update 8/30/2014: I made it again and measured it:

4.0 oz. Greek yogurt
A drizzle of maple syrup (less than 0.1 oz.)
0.3 oz. granola
0.8 oz. blueberries (a small handful)

Beef with purple scallions

This was a quick meal made from some frozen cooked beef and the last of the purple scallions from CSA Week #3. It's essentially the same as pork with scallions.

Cut the scallions into 1" pieces, separating the purple/white parts and the green parts.

Cook the purple/white parts of the scallions over medium-high heat for several minutes. Add the pre-cooked beef.

Add the green parts of the scallions, pepper, garlic powder, some stir fry sauce (I used Lee Kum Kee vegetarian stir fry sauce) and a little soy sauce.

Serve with rice.

Smoked pork tacos with salsa fresca

0.82 lbs. pork loin end chop (bone-in)
1/4 tsp. whole cumin, ground
1/4 tsp. whole dried thyme, ground
1/4 tsp. black pepper, ground
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1/2 tbsp. lard or vegetable oil
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced

I used a thick pork loin end chop, bone-in, but pretty much any cut of pork should work.

Season the pork with salt, then coat one side with the ground seasoning mixture.

porktaco2.jpgPut in a vacuum bag, add a small amount of lard or vegetable oil. Add the onions and garlic and vacuum seal.

Sous vide for 4 hours at 157°F. Let rest for an hour, remove the pork from the bag. Discard the remainder.

Smoke for 40 minutes to 1 hour at 200 to 220°F. Let rest for a half hour. Debone if necessary and thinly slice.

porktaco3.jpgThe recipe up to this point can be made ahead of time.

The salsa fresca should be made a half hour before serving so you should probably make that at this point. It will also take quite a bit of chopping so allow time for that, too.

I really like this technique for reheating store-bought corn tortillas: 

Put hot water in the bottom of a pan. Add a steamer insert. Wrap the tortillas in a clean towel. Cover. Place on the stove over high heat and heat until steam comes from the under the lid, then continue to steam for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let sit for 15 minutes. This creates beautiful soft tortillas.

Top the warm tortilla with sliced pork and salsa fresca.

The tortilla reheating technique is from Authentic Mexican by Rick Bayless, p. 353, which is an excellent cookbook. I highly recommend it.

The pork is my own recipe using common Mexican flavors but with modern cooking techniques: sous vide and a smoker. You could go completely the opposite way and make this recipe with nothing but some bananas leaves and a cooking pit dug into the ground. Your choice.

The pork came from Tangletown Farm Meat CSA Week #1.

There's also the closely related seafood version: Citrus marinated fish tacos.

Salsa Fresca

This fresh salsa recipe tastes completely different than supermarket salsa in a jar. There's a whole lot of chopping involved but it's worth it!

1 large ripe tomato
2 jalapeño, stemmed
1 small yellow onion
1 clove garlic, peeled
fresh cilantro
lime juice

Very finely chop the ingredients. Do not use a food processor.
salsafresca2.jpgCombine, season with salt and lime juice and let sit for a half hour before serving.

It should be obvious, but this salsa will be spicy! It has two jalapeños but most importantly it contains the seeds and ribs so it definitely has a kick to it. If you do not like spicy food you will definitely not like this salsa!

Prepare the fresh salsa a half hour before serving to allow the flavors to meld. I think it's worth the intensive chopping effort to get this fresh taste, which really only lasts for a few hours. It looks like a large quantity but it's so tasty and light you'll eat a lot of it.

The recipe is from Authentic Mexican by Rick Bayless pp. 35-36. This is an excellent cookbook. I highly recommend it.

Good with tortilla chips and also on smoked pork tacos.

For one person you could easily halve the recipe with a small tomato, one jalapeño, and part of an onion. It's also good with red onion, which is what I did for my citrus marinated fish taco.

Zucchini bread #1

zucchinibread2.jpgZucchini season is coming in Central Vermont. While I usually make a stir fry or a zucchini lasagna, I decided to try making some zucchini bread. It turned out to be quite tasty!

2 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 oz. applesauce (one "snack pack" sized package or about 1/4 cup)
6.6 oz. granulated sugar (1 cup)
1 cup zucchini, grated (1 small)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
7.1 oz. all-purpose flour (1 1/2 cup)
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1.2 oz. chopped walnuts (1/4 cup)

Preheat the oven to 325°F. I used a glass loaf pan; if using a metal one you may want to try 350°F instead.

Lightly beat the eggs. Add the oil, applesauce, and sugar and stir to combine. Add the remaining ingredients.

Grease and flour a 4"x8" loaf pan. Add the batter. Bake for about an hour.

It took an hour and 10 minutes for a toothpick to come out clean and the center temperature to reach about 210°F.

Even though the loaf looks nice in the picture the bottom is a little hollow since a bit of it stuck to the bottom of the pan. But it is still very delicious.

I should also point out that bread is a pretty inefficient way to get rid of excess zucchini. There's one small zucchini in this recipe. I could easily eat that in one meal as a stir fry, but there's no way I could (or should) eat an entire loaf of zucchini bread. Not to mention all of the sugar and flour in the bread. A few slices for breakfast is pretty good, however. And better for you than a doughnut.

This recipe was roughly based on this recipe with some of the modifications in the comments. I also scaled it to make one pan instead of two. If scaling back up, you might want to reduce the eggs because the recipe above should only have 1.5 eggs, but a half of an egg is an awkward quantity so I rounded up.

I had a slice of this zucchini bread and Greek yogurt, homemade granola, and fresh blueberries for breakfast.

Update May 8, 2014: I made this again and it was really good! I used an aluminum loaf pan and cooked it for 50 minutes at 350°F until a toothpick came out clean, and the center was 200°F.


Snap peas with garlic, chili sauce, and cilantro

This is pretty much like my spicy green beans but I used fresh sugar snap peas from CSA Week #4 and cilantro from CSA Week #3.

Heat a sauté pan over medium high heat. Add dark sesame oil and minced garlic. Add the snap peas and cook only for a couple minutes. Add a heaping tablespoon or two of chili garlic sauce, pepper, chopped cilantro, and a dash or two of hot pepper sesame oil.

Serve with rice.

CSA Week 4!

This week's bounty included:

Salad Mix
Snap Peas
Swiss Chard
Purple Scallions

There were some other options available, but this is what I selected this week.

And, of course, all cleaned, divided, packaged and ready for easy use later this week:

csa4-2.jpgI used some of the mixed salad greens to make a salad and some of the parsley to make shrimp scampi.

I made Snap peas with garlic, chili sauce, and cilantro for lunch.

I made Zucchini bread.

I used the carrots to make carrot ginger soup.

I served the spinach sautéed as a side to Sort of Japanese pan fried sole, spinach, and rice and Sardines, spinach, and rice.

Zucchini and parsley went into zucchini fritters.

There's parsley in Beer steamed clams with garlic butter.

There's parsley in Potatoes with butter, garlic, and parsley.

There's parsley in Grated raw beet salad.


Absolut Mango and Odwalla Superfood

I'm pretty sure mixing alcohol with Odwalla Superfood "micronutrient fruit juice drink" kind of defeats the purpose. And it is a really unappealing greenish brown color. But it's pretty tasty and full of fruits and healthy grasses, so it can't be all bad.

According to the label, Superfood contains: apple, peach, mango, strawberry, banana, wheat grass, barley grass, and wheat sprouts. 

Spicy Beet Ice Cream

I was trying to think of something unusual to do with beets, and I set the bar kind of high by starting with spaghetti and beet balls.

I decided to do a spicy beet ice cream. It turned out great! When you taste it, you get "mmm... cold ice cream... orange... vanilla... and, what is that other taste?" "And O.K., now why is the back of my throat burning."

This recipe is a tester-sized recipe since I wasn't sure if it would turn out. It makes a pint of ice cream, so you may want to multiply it. Though admittedly this would make a better intermezzo or accompaniment to something else, not necessarily something you'd want to eat an entire pint of, unlike the chocolate raspberry truffle ice cream.

Peel and dice into a 1/4" dice a large beet or several small ones. Place in a vacuum bag, season with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Sous vide for 45 minutes at 180°F. Remove from the sous vide maker and chill. This step can be done ahead of time. I made 10.0 oz. of cooked beets, but this is far more than is necessary for this recipe. You could also roast the beets in the oven, the traditional way.
beeticecream2.jpgIce cream base:

2 egg yolks
3 oz. granulated sugar
4 oz. heavy cream (35 % milk fat)
8 oz. whole milk (3.5 % to 4 % fat)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Lightly beat the egg yolk. Add the sugar and mix thoroughly. Add the cream, milk, and vanilla extract. Put all of the ingredients in a vacuum bag, and sous vide them for 20 minutes at 149°F then chill. This step can be done ahead of time, and should produce about 16.1 oz. (by weight) of ice cream base. You can also do this step on the stove by scalding the milk, tempering the yolks, and bringing up to the desired temperature, but that's a lot more work and more prone to producing scrambled eggs in milk.

Puree 4 oz. beets in a food processor with minced orange zest and 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper. Add to the chilled custard base and blend.

Prepare in an ice cream maker as usual.

When I had an idea for beet ice cream I googled and found Michael Symon's spicy beet ice cream recipe. Then I happened to read an article in the New York Times magazine article about Humphry Slocombe, the very unusual ice cream shop in San Francisco. They do a hibiscus beet ice cream.

Zucchini stir fry with bacon

zucchinibacon.jpgThere is an updated, but nearly identical recipe here.

This is a really quick and easy stir fry of sliced zucchini. Slice a zucchini in half then into half-round slices about 1/8" to 3/16" thick. Stir fry in olive oil over medium-high heat.

In this case, I added a little flavor and texture by adding two slices of pre-cooked bacon, cut into 1/4" wide strips. Another good (and healthier) option is hana katsuo, dried bonito fish flakes.

Season with pepper, garlic powder, and soy sauce. Serve with rice.

Pork with purple scallions and garlic scapes

This was a quick meal made from some frozen cooked pork and the purple scallions and garlic scapes from CSA Week #3.

Cut the scallions into 1" pieces, separating the purple/white parts and the green parts. Also cut the garlic scapes into 1" pieces. You could substitute some regular minced garlic here.

Cook the purple/white parts of the scallions and the scapes over medium-high heat for several minutes. Add the pre-cooked pork.

Add the green parts of the scallions, pepper, some stir fry sauce (I used Lee Kum Kee vegetarian stir fry sauce) and a little soy sauce.

Serve with rice.

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