I mustache you a question. Would you please remove this atrocity from my vicinity and stop pretending that I make puns?
Archive for the ‘Photographs’ Category
“I believe I heard the sound of a bag of Greenies being opened. No? You say it’s a bag of croutons? Well, I happen to know that the croutons are stored next to the Greenies, so let’s just break those out while you’re standing there.”
I eat a lot of salad, so we play this game several nights a week. I pretend to be fooled by his charade, and he enjoys outsmarting me. Everybody wins.
Posted in CSA, Eats, Photographs, tagged basil, Cook's Illustrated pesto, CSA, Dennison's farm, fresh basil, fresh Parmesan, freshly shredded cheese, growing basil in water, how to make pesto, pesto recipe, what to do with fresh basil on August 8, 2013 | 2 Comments »
We’ve been on a pesto kick this week, thanks in part to one stubborn little plant.
About six weeks ago, I brought a couple of basil bunches to the office, thinking that somebody would take it off my hands. Nope. So there it sat, lingering in a vase of water (which I was changing, mind you, every couple of days), developing roots and growing 10 inches while providing the occasional handful of fresh basil leaves for lunchtime salads.
I finally asked myself, how long can I really keep growing basil in a vase of water?
Turns out I should have transplanted it into soil about four weeks ago, and I’ve been risking root rot this whole time.
Since Dennison’s Farm brings me an absurd amount of basil in my CSA box every couple of weeks, I wasn’t planning to plant my own this year. So I took this brave plant home and whirled it into oblivion last night with the other requisite ingredients. It made a divine accompaniment to wine-and-cheese night at Chez Haggerty.
And you know what? I STILL didn’t manage to use all of the leaves. This little plant might end up transplanted into the ground yet due to its sheer will to live.
I halved a Cook’s Illustrated recipe, since I only wanted enough for two people, and it made probably a little under 1/2 cup.
(Recipe courtesy of Cook’s Illustrated)
- 1/8 cup pine nuts
- 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
- 1 cup basil leaves, packed
- 3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 ounce (1/8 cup) grated Parmesan cheese (see note at end of recipe)
Toast pine nuts and unpeeled garlic cloves in a small dry skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the pine nuts are just golden and fragrant and the garlic cloves have darkened slightly, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the garlic to cool before peeling and roughly chopping.
Place nuts, garlic, basil, oil and salt in small work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Process until smooth, stopping as necessary to scrap down sides of bowl, about 30 seconds.
Note: I’ve been grating and shredding my own cheese lately instead of purchasing grated/shredded cheeses, which contain ingredients like cellulose to prevent clumping. I had read that the added ingredients can keep pre-shredded cheese from melting as well as freshly shredded cheese, and it’s true. The texture and the flavor of freshly shredded cheese is simply superior to that of the pre-shredded varieties. And Parmesan, stored correctly, will keep for WEEKS. Totally worth it.
One of my least favorite parts of the CSA box is the kale. I like my greens raw, coated in olive oil and vinegar, so when the kale gets too leathery to simply toss into the salad spinner, I have to face cooking it in some manner. And I have NEVER liked cooked greens, no matter how much bacon, salt and cornbread were added into the mix.
A few fellow foodies suggested that I make kale chips, advice that I took to heart after sampling the dried okra at Earth Fare. Crunchy veggies instead of mushy greens? I’m in.
I followed a friend’s simple set of instructions:
Separate stems from leaves. Toss with olive oil to lightly coat and sprinkle on a bit of salt and pepper. Bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes and let the chips cool on the tray for extra crispness.
The chips were pretty tasty when I tried them straight out of the oven, but when I sat down with them 20 minutes later in an ill-fated attempt to use them as a popcorn substitute while watching Butter (good movie, by the way), about half of them had wilted. Too much olive oil, maybe? Do you have to eat these within five minutes of their exit from the oven?
Anyway, no crunch = no popcorny goodness. So we’re back to Square One, where I make elaborate plans to steam the kale and stir it into quinoa and then pretty much don’t.
Posted in CSA, Eats, Photographs, Uncategorized, tagged baked penne with squash, cauliflower smell, CSA, CSA box, Dennison's Family Farm, fresh broccoli, green tomatoes, roasted cauliflower, using leeks, vegetables on July 11, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
My second 2013 Dennison’s Family Farm CSA box yielded the following:
- Three onions: red, white and yellow. These went into a couple of really tasty stir-fries and a pan of delicious chicken fajitas.
- Bell pepper: Sacrificed to the stir-fry.
- Sweet banana peppers: Seeded and sliced to add crunch to summer salads.
- Jalapeno and Serrano peppers: Currently waiting to be added to salsa.
- Squash (Slick Pik, Zephyr, patty pan and zucchini): The base for the fabulous Baked Penne with Squash, Tomatoes and Basil that I wrote about earlier this week. Except for the zucchini, which was reserved for the best brownies in the world, which I will tell you about next week.
- Cauliflower: I admit to having rarely encountered cauliflower except at salad bars. I tried this Cook’s Illustrated roasted cauliflower recipe I found at Food Lush, adding in the optional chili powder for a little pizzaz. It was edible but uninspiring, and the leftovers were absolutely off-putting (I’m pretty sure leftover roasted cauliflower is the scent they add to natural gas so customers know when they have a leak). I’ll probably just wash, chop and save it for salad next time.
- Broccoli: I think this was the first head of broccoli I’ve ever eaten that didn’t come from the grocery store. The fresh flavor was amazing. I ate some straight off the stem while I was prepping my photo, and the rest was truly the guest star in our stir-fries, outshining the protein and all other veggies.
- Leeks: I am again perplexed by leeks, since I never really encountered them before. I used them as a substitute for shallots in the Baked Penne with Squash, Tomatoes and Basil, and they definitely added a bit of bold flavor.
- Cucumber: I forgot I had a cucumber in the crisper. I should probably slice it up for salad.
- Green tomatoes: I have never understood the appeal of green tomatoes. Even when I’ve had really good fried green tomatoes, I found myself thinking, man, if only these had stayed on the vine a little while longer, I could be having an awesome sandwich. I put these aside in dismay and then wrapped them in a newspaper a couple of days ago in hopes of turning them into real tomatoes. I should probably go check the cool dark closet to see if they’ve transformed.
- Chard: I have neglected my greens, yet again.
- Basil: I used a lot of the basil in the Baked Penne with Squash, Tomatoes and Basil, and chopped up the rest for salads.
Posted in CSA, Eats, Photographs, tagged Baked Penne with Summer Squash, Cook's Illustrated recipes, cooking, CSA, sauteed squash, squash, squash pasta, squash recipes, Tomatoes and Basil, using squash, zucchini on July 9, 2013 | 1 Comment »
After four summers of putting up with the squash in my CSA box, I have, at last, found a reason to love the stuff.
My habit of perusing stacks of used books finally paid off during a spring visit to Nashville’s BookManBookWoman, which yielded a copy of Cover & Bake by the Cook’s Illustrated team. I’ve found the Cook’s Illustrated collections to be virtually foolproof – they do, after all, painstakingly test each recipe numerous times before releasing it into the wild.
I grew up with very little respect for the squash. I remember eating it mostly fried, although surely that wasn’t the only way my mother and grandmother prepared it. The only thing I really figured out to do with it myself was to chop it up and sauté it with a little garlic and olive oil. Passable, but by no means a method to use up copious amounts of squash.
This recipe, however, uses 2 entire POUNDS of squash, meaning I haven’t spent the last two weeks feeling bad about unwanted veggies languishing in the crisper. They’re all gone.
The original recipe specifically calls for zucchini and summer squash. I was saving my zucchini for brownies (I’ll share that recipe soon — seriously the best brownies ever), and I had at least three other varieties of squash in the box, including Slick Pik, Zephyr and patty pan.
Squash is squash, I say. I also substituted chopped leeks for the shallots, since I had leftover leeks and the Internet vaguely signaled that they would be OK. No complaints.
I also never bother keeping parsley in the house, so I used an entire cup of chopped basil instead of buying a whole bunch of parsley just for 1/4 cup.
This recipe is a lot of work, to be sure, but totally worth it. The creamy sauce delivers a consistent hint of fresh basil, and every forkful delivers a healthy array of veggies.
Baked Penne with Squash, Tomatoes and Basil
(Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)
Serves 6 to 8
4 slices white sandwich bread, torn into pieces
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 pounds zucchini and/or other squash varieties, halved lengthwise, sliced 1/2-inch thick
3/4 lb. penne
4 tbsp. olive oil
6 medium shallots, minced (about 1 cup)
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
3/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
Ground black pepper
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
For the topping:
Process the bread and butter in a food processor fitted with the steel blade until coarsely ground, about six 1-second pulses; set aside.
For the filling:
1. Toss the squash with 1 tbsp. kosher salt and place in a large colander set inside a large bowl to drain, about 30 minutes.
2. Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a Dutch oven over high heat. Stir in 2 tbsp. kosher salt and the pasta; cook, stirring occasionally until al dente. Drain the pasta, return to the pot, and toss with 1 tbsp. of olive oil; set aside. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat to 400 degrees.
3. Spread the salted squash evenly over a double layer of paper towels and pat dry with additional paper towels, wiping off any residual salt. Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until smoking. Add half of the squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and slightly charred, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet. Add 1 tbsp. olive oil to the pan and return to high heat until smoking; brown the remaining squash and transfer to the baking sheet.
4. Wipe the skillet clean with a wad of paper towels. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and return to medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about 1 minute. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan, basil and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Add the sauce, tomatoes and sautéed squash to the pasta; stir gently to combine. Pour the pasta into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and sprinkle with the breadcrumb topping. Bake until the casserole is bubbling and the crumbs are lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately.
Posted in Eats, Photographs, tagged angel food cake, baking, biscuits, childhood, Cook's Illustrated, cooking, Dennison's Family Farm, Dennison's farm, fresh strawberries, homemade whipped cream, macerated strawberries, pound cake, real strawberry shortcake, shortcake, sponge cake, strawberries, strawberry shortcake, strawberry stand on June 6, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
So it turns out that strawberry shortcake is NOT simply strawberries with pound cake, angel food cake or sponge cake (no, not even those perfectly round little sponge cakes sold in packs of six in your grocery store’s produce section).
The shortcake you likely remember from your childhood? An imposter.
Shortcake is its very own thing. Simply placing strawberries and whipped cream (or, more likely, Cool Whip) on top of any kind of cake does not magically turn it into shortcake. (And while I’m on the subject of Cool Whip, how is it that nobody ever told me how EASY it was to make your own whipped cream?)
Shortcakes are essentially biscuits made with butter instead of shortening, with just a hint of added sugar. They’re supposed to accent the strawberries, after all, not compete for the title of sweetest dessert element.
I’ve made the Cook’s Illustrated version of strawberry shortcake a couple of times, and it’s a winner. The shortcakes are light, but substantial enough to hold the juicy berries without falling apart. The strawberries themselves could probably do with a little less added sugar, especially if you’re lucky enough to get specimens as sweet as I’ve found at the Dennison’s Family Farm strawberry stand this year. The recipe makes way more shortcakes than two people need, but the leftover cakes are good for a couple more days and you can make half, a third or even a quarter of the whipped cream recipe if you like.
- 8 cups (about 2.5 lbs.) strawberries, hulled
- 6 Tbsp. sugar
- 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting the work surface and biscuit cutter)
- 5 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 Tbsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 stick (8 Tbsp.) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tsp. half-and-half
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
- 2 cups whipped cream
For the strawberries:
Place 3 cups of the hulled strawberries in a large bowl and crush with a potato masher. Slice the remaining 5 cups berries and stir into the crushed berries along with the sugar. Set the fruit aside to macerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. (Note: Our leftover macerated strawberries were good for three more days.)
For the shortcakes:
Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees. In a food processor, pulse the flour, 3 Tbsp. of the sugar, the baking powder, and salt to combine. Scatter the butter pieces on top and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about fifteen 1-second pulses. Transfer to a medium bowl.
Mix the beaten egg with the half-and-half and vanilla extract in a measuring cup. Pour the egg mixture into the bowl with the flour mixture. Combine with a rubber spatula until large clumps form. Turn the mixture onto a floured work surface and lightly knead until it comes together. (Note: I’m not sure how I avoided screwing this up, given my lack of prowess with bread dough. It was a sticky mess, but I somehow managed to work enough extra flour in to make it work without ruining it. The husband has mad dough-making skills, so I should probably convince him to handle this part.)
Use your fingertips to pat the dough into a 9-by-6-inch rectangle about ¾-inch thick, being careful not to overwork the dough.
Flour a 2¾-inch biscuit cutter and cut out 6 dough rounds. Place the rounds 1 inch apart on a small baking sheet, brush the tops with the beaten egg white, and sprinkle with the remaining 2 Tbsp. sugar. (Dough rounds can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 hours before baking.) (The recipe notes that you can roll up the leftover dough scraps and make more shortcakes, but warns that they may not be as good as the originals. I detected no difference, so use all of your dough.)
Bake until the shortcakes are golden brown, 12-14 minutes. Place the baking sheet on a wire rack and cool the cakes until warm, about 10 minutes.
When the shortcakes have cooled slightly, split them in half. Place each cake bottom on an individual serving plate, and spoon a portion of the fruit and a dollop of whipped cream over each cake bottom. Cap with the cake top and serve immediately.
Makes about 2 cups
- 1 cup heavy cream, cold
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
Chill a deep, non-reactive, 1- to 1.5-quart bowl and beaters in the freezer for at least 20 minutes. Put all ingredients in bowl and beat on low until small bubbles form, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and beat until beaters leave a trail through the mixture, approximately 30 seconds more. Beat on high until the whipped cream is smooth, thick and nearly doubled in volume, about 20 to 30 seconds. (Note: Don’t skimp on freezing the bowl and beaters. That’s what makes the magic happen.)