Friday, August 20, 2010

Summer Salad: Farmers Market Bounty

I love the farmers market! I know, I say it a lot but it is so fun to see what's fresh, meet the vendors, and just be outside in the summer.  When I saw that Olivia's Organics was calling for creative summer salad recipes, I knew exactly what I wanted to create. A Farmer's Market Bounty Salad.  The ingredients would be whatever looked interesting at the market.  For a base I used the Olivia's 50/50 blend.  It's half spinach and half spring mix.

I headed out for a lunchtime trip to the Copley Square Farmers Market.  Atlas Farms was my first stop, since I have my pre-paid share with them.  I picked up most of the ingredients, then wandered over to Siena Farm to see if they had any new-to-me produce.  These ingredients, combined with a few on hand from my weekend market visits, made for a good mix for the salad.

Atlas Farm
Rainbow Carrots
Yellow and Orange Tomato
Golden Beets
Flat leaf parsley

Siena Farm
Lemon Ball Cukes

Potager Farm/Herb Lyceum (SoWa Market)
Black Radishes

Also from the SoWa trip (can't remember the farm)
New England sweet corn

Whole Foods (not the market, but still seasonal!)
Fresh garbanzo beans

I had all the ingredients waiting in the refrigerator, but had no free nights for dinner!  So I did what any normal person would do (right?) and made my salad after coming home around 9:30 p.m.  I did a photo shoot with the completed salad and then packed it up for lunch the next day!

When I started thinking about a dressing for the salad, I kept coming back to something creamy.  It needed to be light that wouldn't hide the flavor of all of the vegetables.  I scoured the refrigerator and come up with Greek yogurt and lemon.  I added in some of the parsley and extra virgin olive oil for a quick and healthy dressing.

This was delicious, the Olivia's greens were a hearty base, and it was perfect for lunch and dinner for a few days!

Vegetable Prep

Slicing and dicing:
Carrots - peeled and cut into coins
Tomatoes - cored first (I don't like all the seeds)

Peeled and Shredded:
Black radish
Golden beets (I also blanched these to help keep the color)

Fresh garbanzo beans
Shredded beets

We had grilled the corn earlier in the week and I used some leftovers

Salad Assembly
Place salad greens on a serving plate, top with veggies as neatly or sloppily as you'd like and serve!

Salad Dressing
1 container Chobani plain Greek yogurt
Juice from half a lemon
1 teaspoon (or so) extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients together and serve with salad

Cutting board, knife, y-peeler, slotted spoon, sauce pot, serving plates and utensils

Lunch the next day:

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Daring Cooks Challenge: Pierogies

The August 2010 Daring Cooks‟ Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n‟ Bites and Anula of Anula‟s Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogie from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale.

My hubby really likes pierogies. When we first moved in together, he would buy the frozen Mrs. T's pierogies and make us the full box for dinner. Sometimes with butter, sometimes plain. I, on the other hand, wouldn't say that pierogies are my favorite.

This challenge snuck up on me - we've been having a fun-filled and packed summer and pierogies weren't on my mind.  So tonight I stopped by the store to pick up the ingredients - some potatoes and farmer's cheese for the filling. The dough wasn't too challenging to make - but I had some trouble rolling it out thin enough. I ended up with about five times more filling than I did pierogie shapes. Guess I'll be making more tomorrow! Or finding some way to use up a giant bowl of mashed potatoes and farmers cheese.

For equipment I used a trusty pint glass to cut out the shapes and a fork for crimping. I boiled the pierogies in salted water and after about five minutes they floated to the top. I served them with generous drizzle of olive oil and some fresh basil from my garden. The hubby really enjoyed them. I thought they tasted like the ones in the box, which I guess you could call success! If I made them again I think I would try a sweet & sour cabbage filling or a dessert pierogie.

I used the recipes provided for Russian Pierogies. I used the filling with potatoes and farmers cheese.

Friday, August 13, 2010

My Favorite Foods: Pickles!

I love pickles! My favorite foods are probably bread, cheese, pickles & olives, and guacamole. I could never leave any of those unfinished on the table.

Lately there has been a lot of pickling going on in the food blogger world. I sent a few recipes over to my friend Renee and we decided to join in the fun. She went first – trying out the bread and butter pickle recipe from She’s Becoming Doughmesstic. Renee put her own twist in – adding in some garlic and a few extra spices. We tasted and decided that they needed more vinegar and less sugar for our taste. I tried next – swapping the quantities of vinegar and sugar and differing the amounts of scallions and cilantro. I also used ground mustard instead of mustard seeds. We tasted again and agreed that the less sweet pickles were more to our liking.

Next up, Renee tried a more traditional dill pickle recipe with a recipe from Rachel at Loco Diner. These were good – but needed more time to cure. We couldn’t put our finger on what was missing, but they needed a little something else. Maybe salt? Maybe more vinegar and less water? More spice? She’s working on that for the next batch.

Now that we had basic pickling down, we decided that pickled onions were next. But instead of red onions I picked up 2 pounds of shallots. Aren’t mini-sized foods always cuter? (I know Meghan at Delicious Dishings would agree!). I adapted a recipe from Ad Hoc at Home and pickled a lot of shallots.

Once I had a selection of each of the pickled items, I set up a pickle tasting for the hubby. I felt like we needed an official tasting for research purposes.

In the pickle line-up:
First on the left: Renee’s traditional dill pickles
To the right: Renee’s crinkle cut spicy bread and butter pickles
Next: My chip and sandwich slice bread and butter pickles
On the right: Pickled shallots

For my pickles I used pickling cukes that I picked up at Charlton Orchards Farm and Winery at the Russell’s summer market. I decided to make a mix of chips and sandwich slices. I think that all the pickles were a success! The bread and butters were tangy and crunchy. The shallots were great as additions to brisket and chicken sandwiches.

Now every day at work Renee and I talk about what else we can go home to pickle. Next on my pickle to do list is half sours. Half sours are my absolute favorite pickle. Do you have a recipe? Send it my way! Next on Renee’s pickle to do list is beet pickled onions. They are in the refrigerator pickling while I write this!

What’s your favorite type of pickle? Dill, half sour, gherkin, bread and butter?

Quick Bread and Butter Pickles
Adapted from recipe on She’s Becoming Doughmesstic

6-7 Pickling cucumbers, washed and sliced into 1/4 inch chips and slices
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup chopped scallions, whites and greens
2 cups white vinegar
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon celery seeds
1 tablespoon ground mustard
1 tablespoon ground turmeric

I didn’t have any canning jars, so I used a large glass batter bowl (oven/heat safe) with a lid
Mix the cucumbers, cilantro and scallions together in the bowl (or jar if you have one)
Set aside on a trivet (you’ll be adding in hot liquid)

Assemble the vinegar, sugar, salt, celery seeds, ground mustard, and turmeric into a medium sauce pan and whisk together
Bring the mixture to a boil and let boil for 2 minutes to dissolve sugar
Remove from heat and carefully pour/ladle the liquid into the bowl with the cucumbers, cilantro, and scallions
Make sure to use black or stainless steel – this is a very yellow and staining mixture!

Let the mixture cool for about a half an hour and then put on the lid
Put in the refrigerator and let cure for 24 hours
After 24 hours I strained the liquid to remove the solids (cilantro, onions, etc)
I stored the pickles in the strained liquid
These lasted only a few days in our house – so I can’t tell you how long they will stay in the fridge

Pickled Shallots
Adapted from recipe for pickled red onions in Ad Hoc at Home

2 lbs of shallots
1.5 cups Red wine vinegar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Wide mouth quart jar with lid (I used Ball brand)

Peel shallots
Slice a few of the shallots into smaller pieces (this will help to pack the jar tightly)
Fill a clean, warm canning jar with the shallots

In a medium saucepan, mix the sugar and red wine vinegar
Bring to a boil and let boil until sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes
Carefully ladle or pour the hot liquid into the jar with the shallots
Let cool for 20 minutes and then put on the lid
Put the shallots in the refrigerator and let them cure for about 24 hours
Serve with everything (well, maybe not breakfast….)

Prep time: About 15-20 minutes of chopping
Cook time: 3-5 minutes boiling
Inactive Cook time: 6-24 hours (depending on how long you can resist trying the pickles)
Glass bowl or jars, sauce pans, ladles, cutting board and knife

Serving Suggestion: 
Smoked brisket sandwich with pickles & shallots on a homemade biscuit! 
(Keep an eye out for my brisket recipe on!)


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