Thursday, January 28, 2010

Have You Visited Your Local Market Lately?

Visiting the Farmer's Market is one of my favorite spring, summer and early activities. Once winter rolls in, my trips to the market usually come to an end. Not this year! Thankfully there are at least two winter markets close to me in Natick and Wayland, MA. For a recap of my inaugural trip to the Natick Winter's Market, check out my write-up at You'll even find some recipes for your winter farmer's market finds!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Two Meals - Turkey Burgers with Tomato & Spinach and Ravioli with fresh sauce

This week I stopped at the store mid-week after work to pick up some ingredients for dinner. We'd already had beef for a few dinners, so I was looking for another source of protein for dinner. I asked the hubby for suggestions, and he mentioned chicken Florentine (we had some spinach in the fridge). For some reason, I just wasn't interested in chicken for dinner. Looking at the meat case, I saw that ground turkey breast was on sale. Turkey burgers are not a regular item on our menu, but I decided to give them another try.

Knowing we had spinach in the fridge, I thought about making a Mediterranean style burger with the spinach, tomato and feta. I picked up the ingredients along with some foccacia style buns and marinated olives then headed home to get cooking.

Sticking with the Mediterranean theme, I made a quick cucumber salad with some leftover mint (from the fresh rolls), minced red onion, and a little olive oil and vinegar.

I like at least three components with dinner, so I needed one more dish on the side. I found some red lentils in my pantry while digging around and put those on the stove while making the burgers. I completely overcooked the lentils and they came out extra mushy. I mixed in some balsamic vinegar and the hubby really like them. Next time I'll try this recipe and watch the pot a little better!

For the burgers, I put a little of the topping in the burger and then topped them with the same ingredients. Turkey burgers are quick cookers - so don't forget to watch the pan while you cook. Read down past the recipe to see what I did with the leftover spinach and tomatoes.

Mediterranean Turkey Burgers
Makes 2 Burgers

Printable Recipe

1/2 pound ground turkey breast (white meat turkey)
1 teaspoon Greek seasoning (I have a blend - salt, garlic, oregano, thyme, onion)
1 tablespoon crumbled Feta cheese
1/4 cup spinach and tomato (see recipe below)

Heat a little oil in a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat
Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl
Divide into two patties
Cook the patties for about 2-3 minutes per side, until cooked through

Spinach and Tomatoes
Inspired by a post on Playing House
1 small plastic container of cherry tomatoes
3-4 handfuls of fresh spinach, chopped
Olive Oil

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a small-medium skillet over medium heat
Add spinach and a little salt to the pan and cook until just wilted, set aside
Add the tomatoes and a little salt to the pan and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes (until they squish when you press on them)
Remove from the heat and set aside
Serve as a topping or side dish to the burgers.

Serve the burger on your favorite roll with the sides!

Summary for burgers and spinach/tomatoes
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: Spinach/tomato: 15 minutes; Burgers: 10 minutes
Skillets, knives, cutting board, bowl, utensils

Meal 2: Ravioli with Fresh Spinach, Tomato, Basil Sauce

We had plenty of spinach and tomato left over after dinner. I turned it into a quick fresh sauce for some ravioli. We picked up the grilled asparagus and artichoke ravioli at our local winter farmer's market. I bought some local basil at our warehouse club store (they do carry local products!). I threw it all in the food processor, brought to a quick boil, then simmer.

Added to the ravioli and we had a fresh tasty meal! Remember - you can always turn your leftovers into something tasty (well, most of the time).

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 5-10 minutes
Food processor, sauce pan, pasta pot, serving utensils

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Trip to Southeast Asia

I've been looking at cooking classes for the past 6 months and trying to figure out what type of class I want to take. One of the classes I was considering taught recipes and techniques from a cookbook called Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. I wasn't quite sure what it was going to be about and I decided to think about it before signing up. After a few days I completely forgot about it as I got busy with other things.

When I was at the library looking for a good book to read on my holiday travels, I came across a copy of Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet! I checked it out and started reading. What a wonderful cookbook - stories about Southeast Asia, its people, and the food. I have already read through the book two or three times! Sadly the cooking class is sold out, so I started teaching myself the recipes. One of the first recipes to catch my attention was the Silky Coconut-Pumpkin Soup. The recipe is from Thailand and Laos. I've had a red kuri squash sitting on the counter for a while, and decided this would be a good substitution for the pumpkin. The soup was as advertised, silky-smooth and delicious. It was wonderful as lunch the next day.

As a side dish I tried something that I've eaten a lot but never tried to make at home - Vietnamese Fresh Rolls with peanut sauce. For a healthy, vegetarian version I cooked up some tofu and filled them with a pickled cabbage and carrot slaw. I made vermicelli (rice noodles) to add in, but the rice paper wrappers weren't big enough to fit everything in (actually, I forgot until I got to the last roll....).

This was delicious and would make a great party dish after I work on my rice paper rolling skills. The soup is going to be repated often too!

Silky Coconut-Pumpkin Soup
Adapted from Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet
Makes 4 servings

Printable Recipe

3 Shallots, unpeeled
1 red kuri squash, approximately 1.25 pounds unpeeled
1 can light coconut milk (approximately 2 cups)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves (the recipe called for coriander)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
1 scallion, cut into thin rings

In a small non-stick skillet over high medium-high heat, dry-roast the shallots, turning occaisionally, until blackened and soft
Peel the the shallots, cut in half lengthwise, and set aside
Peel the squash and remove seeds and guts
Cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Place the coconut milk, broth, squash cubes, shallots and cilantro in a large pot and bring to a boil
Reduce to low, add salt, and simmer for 12-15 minutes until the squash is tender
Stir in the fish sauce and cook for 2-3 more minutes
With an immersion blender (or food processor), blend the soup until it is a smooth consistency
Ladle into individual bowls, garnish with scallions and freshly ground pepper

Vietnamese Fresh Rolls
Makes 5 rolls, with a little extra slaw and tofu
1/2 block of extra firm tofu (make sure it is well-drained)
1/4 of a head of green cabbage, cut into thin strips
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1/4 cup shredded carrots
1 scallion, chopped
Rice wine vinegar ( a few good splashes)
Sesame oil (one small dash)
5 Mint leaves
Rice paper wrappers

Note: You'll need to assemble all your ingredients before you work with the rice paper wrappers

Reheat a the same non-stick skillet (from the shallots) over medium heat
Cut the tofu into 1/4 inch sticks
Add to the skillet and cook about a minute or so on each side, until just golden brown
Set aside until assembly

Mix chopped cabbage, carrot, cilantro, and scallion in a bowl. Pour on a few splashes of rice wine vingar (enough to coat everything), one drop of sesame oil and sprinkle with salt
Mix well and set aside until assembly

Set up your assembly line for ingredients - Slaw, tofu, and mint leaves

Microwave a large bowl of water to soften the rice paper wrappers
Take 1 wrapper, dip into the water to soften, and then place on a plate
Put the mint leaf in the middle
Top with 2-3 sticks of tofu
Top with the slaw
Roll the rice paper wrapper like a burrito, tuck in two sides, then roll to close
Repeat for each wrapper

Total prep time (prep the rolls while the soup is cooking): 25-30 minutes, depending on how fast you can peel a squash
Total cook time: 20 minutes
Small non-stick skillet, sharp knife and cutting board, ladle, soup pot, microwaveable bowl, serving dishes and utensils

Serve with your favorite peanut sauce. I made some quick sauce, but it isn't worth reporting on. I'll have to work on a good recipe to share.

Serve with the soup and enjoy! This made for a great lunch the next day. We had the noodles topped with tofu, slaw and the peanut sauce.


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