Mains

Green Cabbage & Cilantro

For 15 years, I worked almost every Sunday in a restaurant, rising early after a crushing Saturday night in the same said restaurant, weary to the bone. Sunday morning diners don’t particularly understand the concept of bone-weary restauranteurs, they are aggressive and cranky, demanding to rise above the mob for immediate coffee service.

Sunday on the Boat2

This is my Sunday now. Except it doesn’t always look like this. Sometimes I walk down to the fish market, and never without a tad of flirtation with the plastic-aproned fishmonger, my Sunday looks like this:

mussels with cabbage and cilantro

cilantro and cabbageOr perhaps this. Just add cabbage and cilantro from the farm box, possibly a chilled glass of wine, and you’re on your way to a perfect Sunday.

Mussels, Clams and Cockles with Green Cabbage, Cilantro and Coconut Curry

Serves 4

1 can coconut milk

2 garlic cloves, grated

1-inch section of peeled, fresh ginger, cut into slices

1-2 tablespoons green curry paste

4 cups of shredded cabbage

Small bunch of cilantro stems and leaves

1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce

3 pounds live shellfish, such as mussels, clams or cockels

Juice and zest of one lime

In a Dutch oven or skillet with a fitted lid, heat 2 tablespoons of  the fat cap of the coconut milk (when you open the can, there is a thick layer of coconut oil that has risen to the top.) Reserve the remaining coconut milk. Add the garlic and ginger, heating until fragrant, about a minute, then add the curry paste, cabbage and half of the cilantro stems and leaves. Cook until the cabbage starts to wilt, then add the remaining coconut milk, fish sauce and shellfish. Cover the pan and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer (liquid should still be moving) and cook the shellfish for about 3 minutes. Use a large spoon or ladle to stir the bottom layer of shellfish to the top, and cover again, continuing to cook until the shellfish starts to open. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice and zest. Eat immediately, discarding any shellfish that didn’t open.

DSC00797

Maui Onion, Carrots, Broccoli, Celery, Cilantro

stir frySimplicity requires finesse, a lesson I learned from my best friend’s ex boyfriend’s Chinese father about stir frying. In collaborating on vegetable stir fry, I was ready to throw everything into a hot wok, when he stopped me, organizing everything into neat categories designed to make the most of the vegetables, creating the perfect balance of crunchy and tender. First come the aromatics: ginger, onion, garlic quickly flashed in smoking hot vegetable oil until fragrant, then the most firm vegetables, such as celery and carrots, stirred quickly to sear. Next the medium-firm veggies, like peppers, broccoli, mushrooms, snow peas, and last, the tender greens like spinach, bok choy and cabbage. At last, a quick toss in a seasoned liquid. With this blueprint, you can adapt to any farm box delivery or cooler drawer, and even add in protein like browned tofu, shrimp or chicken.

Brown the tofu well, then pull out of the pan before adding the vegetables.

Brown the tofu well, then pull out of the pan before adding the vegetables.

Farm Box Stir Fry with Organic Super Firm Tofu and Brown Rice

Serves 6

For the stir fry sauce:

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 pinch red chile flakes

For the stir fry:

1/2 pound of super-firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes

vegetable oil

1-inch knob ginger, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup green onion, minced

1 cup firm vegetables, such as Maui onion, carrots, celery, chard stems

1 cup semi-firm vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, mushrooms

1 cup soft vegetables like spinach, chard leaves, bok choy, cilantro, cabbage

Mix the stir fry sauce, and use half to marinate the tofu cubes for 30 minutes. Drain the tofu, reserving the sauce, and pat the tofu with a paper towel to remove excess moisture.

Heat a wok or large skillet until very hot, then add vegetable oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the tofu and brown until golden, then remove from the pan onto a paper towel to drain.

Add additional oil if needed, and cook the ginger, garlic and onion, stirring very quickly to prevent burning. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, then add the firm vegetables, continuing to stir. Cook the firm vegetables for about a minute, until they turn brightly colored and start to sweat, then add the semi-firm vegetables. Stir to combine and cook for an additional minute. Add the remaining vegetables and cook for another minute, stirring to combine, then add the stir fry sauce and the tofu. Stir to completely coat the tofu and vegetables, then serve.

Celery and Bok Choy

Korean stew 1Asian flavors are in my top five favorite; sensual, balanced, clean and simple. I’ve never trained in Asian cookery, although I’ve devored cookbooks, dined in high and low establishments and even stalked a few chefs, all in the name of research. Ginger and soy, scallion and chile all make my way into dishes, which are only authentic by honest desire. I can only hope that my American asthetic can properly respect the ancient dishes they are fashioned after. This dish is a riff on a recipe I found in Food and Wine, and it can be endlessly changed with the seasons of the farm box. The key is to cook the base of the stew and let it hang out in the refrigerator for a night or two, then braise the vegetables (Napa cabbage, carrots, radish, or like I used, bok choy and celery) separately, or even pop some pickled summer vegetables on top.

Korean Beef Stew with Soy Braised Bok Choy and Celery

Serves 6

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 pounds boneless short ribs, cut into 3-inch pieces

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 medium onions, quartered through the core

6 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

2 large jalapeños—halved, seeded and sliced 1/2 inch thick

1-inch section of ginger, skin removed and cut into 6 rounds

1/4 cup soy sauce, plus a splash for braising the vegetables

1/4 cup organic sugar

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 quart beef stock or low-sodium broth

4 baby bok choy bunches, cored and cut into bite-sized pieces

1 bunch of celery, trimmed, celery leaves retained, stalks cut into 1-inch sections

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Steamed brown rice, and toasted sesame oil for serving

In an 8-quart Dutch oven, heat the oil. Season the meat with salt and pepper and sear the pieces over moderately high heat until richly browned all over, working in batches. Remove the meat from the Dutch oven and pour out most of the fat, leaving only a tablespoon in the pot. Add the onion, garlic, jalapenos and ginger, and sauté until the vegetables soften. Add the soy sauce, sugar, wine and stock and stir. Bring the liquid to a boil and add the meat back into the pot. Reduce to a simmer and place the lid on the Dutch oven. Cook for 2 hours, until the meat is very tender and pulls apart with a fork. Cool and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Remove the meat from the refrigerator and skim the chilled fat off of the top. Heat over low heat until warmed through. In a large skillet, heat enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom of the pan, then add the celery and bok choy. Sear the vegetables very quickly, about 2 minutes, until they are a vibrant green, then pour a dash of soy sauce over them. Cook until the soy sauce has coated the vegetables, and then add them into the beef stew. Put the cornstarch in a bowl and whisk in a 1/2 cup of cooking liquid, then whisk it into the stew, cover and let simmer for 2 minutes.

Spoon steamed rice into bowls. Ladle the stew over and around the rice. Top with the reserved celery leaves, a drizzle of sesame oil, an

Broccoli, Romanesco Cauliflower, Butternut Squash

Roasted Broccoli, Romesco Cauliflower

These cold, and short, winter nights call for homey, rustic, and quick dinners. This pasta has several make-ahead components that come together in a snap. Flavorful roasted broccoli, Romanesco cauliflower and butternut squash can be prepped in advance, if you like, then tossed along with the pesto (make that up to 3 days ahead), pasta water and pasta when you’re ready to serve.

Whole Wheat Fusilli with Roasted Broccoli, Romanesco Cauliflower and Butternut Squash with Red Pepper Pistachio Pesto

Serves 4-6

1/2 cup of roasted red peppers, either from a jar or roasted over a gas flame, skin, stem and seeds removed

1/2 cup of shelled, roasted, low or no salt, pistachios

1 packed cup of basil or parsley

Olive oil, sea salt & pepper

1 head of broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets, using part of the stems as well

1 cup of Romanesco cauliflower (or cauliflower if Romanesco is not available), cut into bite-sized florets

1 cup of butternut squash, cut into 1-inch cubes

5 cups of uncooked whole wheat fusilli pasta, preferably organic

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese shavings.

In the bowl of a food processor, blend the roasted pepper, pistachios and herbs with enough olive oil to form a “paste.” Season with salt and pepper and hold in a sealed container for up to 3 days.

Heat oven to 375 degrees, and place broccoli, cauliflower and squash on 3 separate baking sheets. Drizzle with enough olive oil to coat the vegetables, and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until tender and caramelized, the broccoli will take about 10 minutes, the cauliflower will take about 15-17 minutes and the squash will take 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven and hold until ready to serve pasta or store in fridge for up to 2 days to reheat later.

Fill a large stock pot with water and a handful of sea salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. When water is at a rolling boil, add pasta and cook for about 10 minutes, until slightly firm to bite (al dente.) Reserve a cup of pasta water, then drain. Return the pasta back into the pot, and add the hot vegetables (if you have cooled them, reheat them in the oven), the pesto and enough pasta water to make the pesto form a thick sauce to coat the pasta and vegetables. Add Parmesan cheese and serve.

Carrots, White Turnips and Baby Maui Onions

White Turnip

I borrowed this beef stew recipe from Jacques Pepin, as I loved its simplicity and deep flavor. It’s so adaptable to whatever root vegetables that you get in your farm box, and the white turnips were particulary nice.

Beef in Red Wine with Root Vegetables

2 pounds stewing beef, cut into 2-inch pieces

olive oil, salt & pepper

1 cup finely chopped onion

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

1 tablespoon flour

1 bottle of red wine

2 bay leaves

1 sprig fresh thyme 

4 cups of seasonal root vegetables, such as baby onions, carrots, parsnips, kohlrabi, potatoes, cut into 2-inch pieces

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon of organic sugar

Lemon juice

Chopped fresh parsley

Heat the oven to 350°. Heat olive oil in a cast-iron pot enamel pot (Dutch oven.) Arrange the meat in one layer in the pot, and season it with salt and pepper. Cook on top of the stove over high heat for about 8 minutes, browning the meat on all sides.

Add onions and garlic to the pan. Cook over moderate heat for an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1 tablespoon of flour. Mix in well so that the flour doesn’t form lumps. Stir in 1 bottle of red wine. Add 2 bay leaves, a sprig of fresh thyme, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Stir well and cover.

Place the pot in the oven and continue to cook for about 1 1/2 hours; the meat should be soft and tender and the liquid reduced, rich and flavorful. The recipe can be prepared to this point up to a day ahead. Cool the stew, cover and put into the refrigerator.

 In a sauté pan or skillet, heat olive oil. Add root vegetables to the pan and sauté until browned and softened. Add water, sugar, salt and pepper, bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes, until vegetables are fork tender. Stir the vegetables and a small handful of parsley into the stew, add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, taste for seasoning and serve.

beef stew with white turnips

Zucchini, Tomatoes and Basil

Fall is here, but in sunny So Cal, we’re still getting the last of the summer crops. I love how easily this pasta comes together, making it a perfect weeknight family meal.

Whole Wheat Rotini with Chicken Sausage, Charred Tomatoes, Zucchini and Basil

Serves 4-6

4 cups (dried) whole wheat rotini (Trader Joes has a good organic selection)

4 chicken mild Italian sausage links (Trader Joes has a nitrate-free, natural choice) casings removed

1 zucchini, cut into large dice

2 beefsteak tomatoes, cut into large dice, seeds removed

8 basil leaves, torn into small pieces

Olive oil, salt & pepper

Grated Parmesan cheese

Fill a large pot (6-8 quart) with water and 1/4 cup salt. Bring to a boil, add pasta and stir with a wooden spoon. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente. Reserve a ladle of pasta water, then drain pasta in a colander.

Heat a large cast iron skillet to medium high heat, then add a splash of olive oil. Put sausage into the pan and cook while breaking up into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook sausage until completely browned, then remove from the pan. Bring pan up to high heat, then add zucchini. Allow zucchini to cook without stirring for a minute, until it is browned, then turn and cook until zucchini is browned all over and softened slightly. Remove the zucchini from the pan, then bring up to a high heat, adding another splash of olive oil. Put tomatoes in the pan and cook without stirring until tomatoes brown and blister. Turn the heat off, then add sausage, zucchini and basil back to the pan and stir together. Add pasta to the sauce and a bit of the reserved pasta water until sauce becomes thick and coats the pasta. Put on serving plates and serve with Parmesan cheese.

Japanese radish, cucumber, Meyer lemon

I finally did use up all 15 of the Meyer lemons that I impulsively purchased at the farmers market, and they make this zingy dish sing. 

Grilled Greek Drumsticks with Grilled Meyer Lemons and Red Quinoa Greek Salad

Serves 6

12 chicken drumsticks

Olive oil, salt and pepper

1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano, plus additional for garnish

1 tablespoon lemon zest

2 Meyer lemons, cut into 1/4-inch slices

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup cooked red quinoa

4 radishes, cut into cubes (I used white Japanese radishes)

1 cucumber, peeled and cut into cubes (no need to peel if you are using hothouse cucumbers)

1/4 cup Kalamata, Feta and Meyer Lemon Dressing

Season the drumsticks with olive oil, salt and pepper, then toss with the oregano, lemon zest and garlic powder until coated. Allow seasoned drumsticks to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Heat a grill or grill pan to medium high heat. If using a grill, leave one section of the grill off, or if using a grill pan, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the drumsticks on the grill and cook without moving until char marks form, then turn to continue marking with char marks. When the drumsticks are completely browned, after about 15 minutes, move to the cool side of the grill and bring the lid down, or place on a sheet pan and put into the oven. Continue to cook the chicken until cooked to 165 degrees using an internal probe thermometer and juices run clear, about 15 to 20 more minutes.

Get a good char on the drumstick before turning, but don’t overcook it on the high flame, you’ll move it to a lower temperature to finish cooking it.

Meanwhile, season the lemon slices with olive oil, salt and pepper, and place on the hot section of the grill and cook until light char marks form and juices start to glisten. Quickly turn and cook on the opposite side.

Toss the red quinoa, radish and cucumber with the Kalamata, Feta and Meyer Lemon dressing, and serve with the grilled drumsticks topped with the grilled lemon slices and fresh oregano.

Kalamata, Feta and Meyer Lemon Dressing

Makes one cup

1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons kalamata olives

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

3/4 cups extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Salt & pepper

In the cup of a blender, add lemon juice, vinegar, olives and Dijon mustard. Turn on blender to combine, then slowly drizzle the olive oil in as the blender runs. Dressing should become thick and creamy. Add feta cheese, then pulse blender quickly to just combine, cheese should be chunky in the dressing. Taste for salt and pepper, and season if desired. Stir dressing just before using if it separates. Dressing can be made up to 3 days in advance.

Basil, Carrots and Broccoli

This is a versatile recipe that you can sneak just about any vegetable in, useful for my picky 7-year old, and also as we approach cruciferous vegetable season (I’m thinking of sneaking lots of cabbage in.)

Basil Turkey Meatballs with Hidden Veggie Sauce

Serves 4-6

1 pound lean ground turkey

2 garlic cloves, grated

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs

2 tablespoons chopped basil

1 bell pepper, stem, membranes and seeds removed, roughly chopped

1 carrot, peeled, roughly chopped

1 cup broccoli, tough stems removed, cut into florets

1 cup chopped onion

2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

One 15-ounce can peeled whole tomatoes with their juices

1 teaspoon sugar

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

In a large bowl, mix together the ground turkey, garlic, eggs, bread crumbs, and basil, and season generously with salt and pepper. Using lightly moistened hands, roll the mixture into 8-10 meatballs, about 3 tablespoons each.  

Add the bell pepper, carrot, broccoli, onion and parsley to the bowl of a food processor and run until the vegetables are chopped very fine. Add the tomatoes and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.  

In a Dutch oven or cast-iron skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the meatballs and cook over moderate heat, turning, until golden but not quite cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add the tomato sauce and sugar to the skillet and simmer until slightly thickened, about 10-15 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if desired. Return the meatballs to the skillet and simmer, turning, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer to a bowl and serve.

Meyer Lemons

I found these Meyers at the farmers market, and I couldn’t resist buying far more than I needed…the word for that is greed, right? I did, however, resist the urge to tie a feedbag around my nose, drop a lemon in it, and walk around the market inhaling their floral sweetness. Just barely.

Chicken Provencal with Tomatoes, Green Beans, Roasted Meyer Lemons and Olives

Serves 6

Olive oil

1 pint of green beans, stems removed

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs

2 tablespoons flour

Salt and pepper

1 shallot, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup white wine

3 sprigs of fresh thyme

2 large, fresh tomatoes diced, or 1 15-ounce can of whole tomatoes with juices

1 cup of homemade chicken stock or good quality boxed chicken broth

1/4 cup black cured olives, such as kalamata or nicoise

2 Meyer lemons (or regular lemons), ends trimmed, cut into thin slices

Heat a Dutch oven over medium high, and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Heat olive oil and add green beans to the pan, allowing them to sear, then stir to turn. Season with salt and pepper, then cook for an additional 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the green beans from the pan and hold.

Add another splash of olive oil, then add chicken thighs to the pan.  Sprinkle the chicken with flour, salt and pepper, and sear until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Turn the chicken and brown, another 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and hold. Add the shallot and garlic to the pan, stirring and cooking until softened and slightly browned, then add the wine to the pan and stir, scraping the bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring liquid to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook wine until it is reduced by half and slightly syrupy. Add the thyme springs, tomatoes and chicken stock, then add the chicken back into the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, then cover with a lid slightly cracked, and cook for another 20 minutes, until liquid is thickened. Remove the thyme sprigs.

Heat oven to 350 degrees, and place lemon slices on a parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes, until lemons are soft, juicy and have slightly browned edges. Lemons can be roasted 3 days in advance.

Stir green beans, roasted lemons and olives into the chicken and season with salt and pepper, then serve.

 

Meyer Lemon Stone Ground Mustard Dressing

1/2 shallot, minced very fine

Zest and juice of one Meyer lemon (or a standard lemon)

1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar (Champagne, white balsamic, rice wine will all be fine here)

2 teaspoons of stone ground mustard

1 teaspoon of honey

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt & pepper

In a large bowl, add the shallot, lemon zest and juice, vinegar, mustard and honey. Whisk together to incorporate, and then drizzle in the olive oil slowly while continuing to whisk. Season with salt and pepper.

Alternately, put all of the ingredients in a container with a lid that seals tight. Shake the dressing until it has thickened and season. Store dressing in the refrigerator for up to a week, stirring before use.

Cherry Tomatoes, Zucchini, Basil

Here’ a tip for tender, fresh veggies that you envision not eating by the end of the week: roast ’em. Just throw them on a sheet pan, slap a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper on top, and let them hang out in a 400 degree oven until they start to blister, brown and soften. Then, after they cool, you can store them and give them another life in a sauce, crostini topping, or even toss them in a soup. I roasted cherry tomatoes that were tart and sassy, and gave them even more depth and sweetness, as well as zucchini that got a hit of caramel with the high heat. I matched these up with a fish preparation that can be done in a snap: foil pouches. Pop them in the oven for a steamy, aromatic and delish dinner.

Tilapia with Roasted Tomatoes, Zucchini and Basil

Be sure to season the fish generously with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Serves 6

1 pint cherry tomatoes

2 zucchini, cut into half rounds, about 1/2-inch thick

Olive oil, salt & pepper

4 tilapia filets

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

1/2 teaspoon fresh lavender, or 1/4 teaspoon dried

1/4 cup white wine

1/2 lemon, cut into thin slices

1 tablespoon torn basil leaves

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Season tomatoes and zucchini with olive oil, salt and pepper, then roast in the oven until they start to blister, brown and soften. Remove from oven and set aside for immediate preparation, or cool and store in the refrigerator for 4- 6 days.

Prepare foil packets using 18 inches of foil wrap and placing it on a sheet pan. Place tilapia on top, then season with olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme and lavender. Put the roasted tomatoes and zucchini on top of the fish, pour the white wine over, and place the lemon slices on top. Fold the edges of the foil packet together, forming a seal.

Heat oven to 350 degrees, and put sheet pan with the foil packet in, baking for 20 minutes, or until fish is opaque and flakey. Open foil packet and put basil leaves on top of the fish and serve.