Monthly Archives: February 2012

Romanesco Cauliflower

I’m giddy when Romanesco cauliflower, or broccoli, comes in the farm box. It’s just so stunning with its bewitching pattern of lime-green florets, and a change of pace from ordinary cauliflower, with its sweet, nutty flavor. It is delicious raw, but I love it roasted. This is a dip that I like to eat with Akmak crackers or warm pita bread.

Romanesco Cauliflower, Carrot and Feta Dip

1 head Romanesco cauliflower, or a half head of regular cauliflower, cut into 2-inch pieces

4 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

4 whole cloves peeled garlic

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon fresh oregano, or 1/2 teaspoon dried

1 pinch chile flakes

salt and pepper

4 ounces of feta cheese, crumbled

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, plus more for garnish

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place the Romanesco cauliflower, carrots and garlic on a baking sheet, and coat with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with oregano, chile flakes, salt and pepper, and roast in oven until vegetables become very soft and browned around the edges, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly.

Place vegetables and remaining olive oil in a food processor and process until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add feta cheese and pine nuts and process until combined. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper, if needed. Remove from food processor and top with pine nuts. Serve with crackers, bread or vegetables to dip. Can be stored in refrigerator for a week.

Romaine Lettuce

This week I’ve been making some pretty hearty meals, so a refreshing salad of crisp romaine has been a welcome accompaniment. With roasted ruby-red beets from the farm, my very favorite balsamic vinaigrette (from the cookbook I published in 2005, The Seduction Cookbook), a modest crumble of goat cheese, all nestled on top of that perfect, crunchy romaine, this salad can be enjoyed as a light lunch or a delightful side. Make it your own favorite by throwing in your favorite nuts, orange slices or top it with grilled chicken.

Romaine, Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

1 head of romaine, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces

2 large roasted beets, cut into bite-sized pieces

3 ounces of goat cheese, crumbled

For the Balsamic Vinaigrette

1 shallot peeled and roughly chopped

1/4 cup good quality balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons honey

3/4 cup olive oil

salt and pepper

In a blender, combine the shallot, vinegar, mustard and honey, and blend to combine. With the blender running, pour olive oil into the blender cup in a slow stream. When mixture combines and thickens, add salt and pepper to taste. Tip: Taste vinaigrette by dipping a small piece of romaine in it, you’ll have a better understanding of the flavor profile of the salad. Vinaigrette can stored in an airtight container for a week in the refrigerator.

Combine the romaine lettuce, beets and goat cheese, then drizzle with the balsamic vinaigrette. Enjoy!

Asian Pesto for Stir Fries

I used a huge, fragrant bunch of cilantro this week for a pesto with an Asian flare, then tossed it into a stir fry. What I love about stir fries is that you can utilize whatever you have in your box, only a few extra items like onion or garlic need to be taken from the pantry. If you have this Asian pesto on hand, you can make a stir fry with just about any veggie. You could also mix it with ground meat and stuff it into a wonton skin to make a potsticker.

Asian Pesto

Makes 2 cups

6 garlic cloves

2-inch section of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into chunks

1 green onion, green and white section, chopped

1 cup roasted almonds

1 teaspoon chile flakes

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

2 cups of green tender herbs, such as cilantro, basil, mint, parsley or a combination of a few

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

In a blender or food processor, combine the garlic, ginger, green onion, almonds, chile flakes and lemon zest and juice. Pulse until it is chopped into fine pieces, then add the green herbs and oil. Process until a thick purée is formed. Season with salt and pepper. Store in a tightly covered jar and refrigerate.

To Make the Stir Fry

Toss one pound of cleaned shrimp, (or you could use cubed firm tofu or chicken) with a quarter cup of Asian pesto. Cut vegetables into bite sized pieces. Divide vegetables into bowls based on levels of firmness: onions, garlic, carrots or any other hard vegetable into one bowl; celery, broccoli, peppers or any other medium-firm vegetables into a second bowl. Tender vegetables like spinach, bok choy leaves, bean sprouts into a third bowl.

Heat a wok or large skillet until very hot. Add vegetable oil and heat until shimmering. Add shrimp and cook very quickly, for about one minute on each side. Remove shrimp from the pan. Add hard vegetables and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes. Add medium-firm vegetables and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes. Add soft vegetables, a tablespoon of Asian pesto, and 2 tablespoons of water. Cook for about a minute, until the vegetables wilt, add shrimp back in, and serve.

Farm Box Day

Today we had some familiar characters in the box, I sorted through them mentally and put them into categories: Strawberries, pink lady apples and cuties (lunch box), broccoli, celery, carrots, spinach, and cilantro (basic stir fry stuff), romaine lettuce and red beets (divine salad), and Romenesco broccoli and kale (wild cards.) This week I’ll be making a Shrimp Stir Fry with Asian Pesto, a Beef and Veggie Pot Pie with some yummy cheddar chive biscuits on top. I’ll serve the pot pie with a Romaine, Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad tossed with my famous Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Roasting Romenesco broccoli and carrots for a dip.

I have a quart of Homemade Roasted Chicken Stock for soup this week, so I’ll make my Portuguese Green Soup using the gorgeous kale. For the Romensco broccoli, I’ll be repeating a dip I made with it last time it was in the box, in which I roasted it in the oven with carrots and garlic, then processed it with olive oil and feta cheese.  I can spread that on Akmak crackers or softly toasted baguette slices.

Super Simple Roasted Chicken Photos

 
Wash the chicken inside and out, and for crisp skin, blot the outside so it is completely dry with paper towels.

All of the ingredients you'll need, be sure to season the chicken generously inside and out. Stuff the cavity of the bird to add flavor and retain shape. I usually keep the legs untrussed, though you could tie them with some butcher's twine if you like.

Here she is, golden brown, crisp and delicious.

Super Simple Roasted Chicken

I make a roast chicken every week, and it’s one of those dishes that keeps on giving, and giving, and giving. Just an example, I am roasting it to serve with some roasted potatoes and carrots from our farm box, where the legs and thighs will be snatched up. Then I’ll do supper number two with the reheated, sliced chicken breasts, to serve with a yummy cauliflower side dish that has capers and red chile. I’ll throw a slab of the citrus herb butter I’ve made on the warm chicken breast slices for hubby and me to make them moist and extra fancy. Bella will have hers plain. Then I’ll reserve the carcass, pick off any additional meat for Bella’s favorite chicken noodle soup, and make the roasted bones into stock, tbpl (to be posted later.)

This chicken is so easy, Bella can make it!

Super Simple Roasted Chicken

Serves a family of three about 3 times, you do the math for your family.

1 5 to 7 pound natural or organic whole chicken, rinsed and patted dry

2 teaspoons garlic powder, about a tablespoon of kosher salt and a teaspoon of pepper, and an ample amount of olive oil to coat the skin of the chicken, you could also rub the skin of the chicken with minced fresh herbs, such as rosemary, sage, thyme

1 lemon, one-half of an onion, both cut into wedges, and a few sprigs of rosemary or thyme

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Rub chicken all over with olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper, including the cavity. Stuff the cavity with the lemon, onion and herb sprigs. Place chicken in a roasting pan and leave out of refrigeration for 30 minutes, allowing the chicken to become closer to room temperature. Place chicken in the oven, and roast for one hour, until skin is browned and crisp, and the juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a knife at the thigh. Alternately, you could use a probe thermometer and bring to 165 degrees. Let chicken rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Citrus Herb Butter

My fruit bowls are crawling with clementines and navels, and to make the most of them, I’m going to make a nifty thing called compound butter. So simple to put together, it is just a combination of softened butter and flavorings, which is rolled in parchment or plastic wrap, chilled, then sliced into portions to serve on top of meat, chicken or fish, or even sautéed with vegetables. Last summer I made a roasted garlic compound butter from fresh garlic shoots, and tossed it in with spinach, it was a perfect way to get a little bit of that divinely sweet garlic in every bite. Compound butter also freezes excellently, so you can preserve your favorite flavors of the season for a later time. 

The butter only uses the zest of the citrus, which is perfect since I still have Tangerine Granita on the weekend menu. It couldn’t be easier to put this together, and there is endless variety to what combinations you can throw into the butter or put it on. I can’t wait until green beans are in season, this will be excellent on them.

Citrus Herb Butter

Use a microplane to zest the skin from the citrus.

1 stick butter, extremely soft

zest from 6 clementines, oranges or Meyer lemon, or a combination of all

1/2 cup chopped herbs, such as parsley, mint, cilantro, thyme, basil, dill, or a combination of any

1 garlic clove, grated

salt and pepper

In a small bowl, mix butter with zest, herbs, garlic, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Wrap in parchment paper or plastic wrap, then roll into a log. Chill and slice into medallions to put on top of warm meat, chicken or fish, or heat in a pan to toss with cooked vegetables. Keep refrigerated for a week, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Roll the butter into a log and store in plastic wrap or parchment. Chill and slice.