Saturday, December 26, 2009

Soup's On

Mother Wolff SoupI make soup all year round, but I love, love, love soup on a cold day. My pantry is stocked with dried peas and lentils for spur-of-the-moment pots of goodness, but sometimes I break out more time-consuming recipes. On a rather blustery day, Mother Wolff Soup simmered on my stovetop for about four hours, requiring only the occasional stir. The soup came out more brothy than I expected -- especially in light of the ingredient list: lima beans and barley and rice and potatoes. Still, Kit went for a second bowlful, and leftovers improved from sitting in the fridge for a day or two, so the recipe is a keeper.

A much quicker soup is Vegetarian Split Pea. It's stick-to-your-ribs thick and it goes from pantry to table in less than an hour.

Mother Wolff Soup
(adapted from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant)

4 quarts water
1/2 cup dried lima beans, soaked overnight
1 cup cooked rice
1/2 cup barley
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp dried dill
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup diced onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 Tbsp sweet paprika
1 cup diced potatoes
1 cup diced carrots
1/2 tsp salt
ground black pepper
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup chopped canned tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

In a large soup pot, combine water, drained limas, rice, barley, garlic, dill, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then lower heat, cover and simmer for 1.5 hours.

About an hour into the simmering time, heat the oil in a large frying pan and saute the onion and carrots for a few minutes. Mix in the paprika, potatoes, carrots, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, then add in the peas and cook, covered, a few minutes more.

Remove the bay leaf from the soup pot and add in the sauteed vegetables, tomatoes, and parsley. Add more salt and pepper if desired. Simmer the soup, on low heat, for another 1.5 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup
(adapted from various recipes)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
7 cups water
1 lb dried split peas
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
Juice of one-half lemon (or more, to taste)
1/2 tsp to 1 tsp salt
Paprika to taste

In a 5-quart Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and saute the onion and carrot until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the water, peas, and thyme to the pot; bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer the soup for about 40 minutes or until the peas are soft, stirring occasionally.

Measure out 4 cups of soup and puree them in a food processor. Return the pureed soup to the remaining soup in the pot. Add salt, lemon juice, and paprika to taste. (For a "meaty" taste, try this with smoked paprika. Or, for another flavor profile, leave out the paprika and sprinkle in curry powder.)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Seasonal Silliness

More proof that marshmallows function as clay.

Recipe idea from Martha Stewart Living, by way of the Jewish Journal Boston North.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Repurposing Contents

Bubble and SqueakYup, I followed my own advice and made Bubble and Squeak. This one featured leftovers from a couple of dinners: mashed potatoes, carmelized onions, and peas.

Coincidentally, The Boston Globe this week debuted a food column about creating new meals from parts of a previous one. I find columns like this just a tad silly: Don't all cooks do this naturally? (Thinking here ...) Okay, I suppose they don't, but it's standard operating procedure at Chez Swiss Chard.

I love Thanksgiving dinner because it provides a mother lode of secondary meals. The carcass becomes stock. Stock becomes soup or the base of a sauce. Sauce plus leftover turkey meat becomes turkey a la king or curry. Sauce plus leftover turkey meat plus leftover vegetables becomes tetrazzini (if you add pasta) or shephard's pie (if you top it with leftover mashed potatoes). The possibilities aren't endless (unless you have a really big turkey) but it's well worth the effort to roast that bird.

Here's a dairy-free take on turkey tetrazzini that I concocted several Thanksgivings ago. It makes good use of leftovers.

Turkey Kosherzzini
(Adapted from
Jane Brody's Good Food Book)

1 tablespoon pareve margarine or olive oil
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 cups turkey or chicken stock
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/3 cup sliced scallions or onions
leftover cooked vegetables, such as broccoli, peas, or green beans (amount is flexible; let's say 1 to 2 cups)
2 cups cooked turkey, cut into small cubes
1/2 pound spaghetti, cooked and drained

In a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, saute the mushrooms in the margarine or oil until tender. Stir in the flour, salt, and pepper. Gradually whisk in the stock. Add the Worcestershire sauce and simmer, stirring, until the sauce has thickened a bit. Add the bell pepper, scallions or onions, and leftover vegetables and mix well. Stir in the turkey and spaghetti.

Pour the mixture into a greased 2-quart shallow casserole or baking dish. Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until heated through.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bubble and Squeak

I made a passing reference to Bubble and Squeak back in the summer when I had a head of cabbage on hand. I bring it up now, because you just might have the right combination of leftovers to make this dish sometime after Thanksgiving.

Bubble and Squeak has a place in the pantheon of British Foods With Odd Names. Basically, it's a shallow-fried pancake or hash made from leftover potatoes and vegetables. Cabbage is a traditional ingredient, but you can use whatever greens or vegetables you have on hand. Throw in some chopped herbs, too, if you'd like (mmmm, sage and rosemary would be good). Use the directions below as a very loose guide.

Bubble and Squeak

(adapted from The Frugal Gourmet by Jeff Smith)

3 potatoes, boiled and smashed, or leftover mashed potatoes
4 cups chopped, cooked cabbage, or other cooked greens, such as kale or chard
1/2 medium onion, peeled and chopped (sauteed, if you choose, but it's not necessary)
1 raw zucchini, grated (or try cooked Brussels sprouts, broccoli, or carrot)
olive oil

Gently mix the potatoes, greens, and vegetables. Lumps are good; you are not looking for a smooth paste. If your potatoes are too cold to mix, warm them a bit in the microwave first.

Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a large, heavy skillet. Add the potato-vegetable mixture, press it into the skillet bottom, and let it heat and brown. Flip it in sections to brown both sides or stir it like hash until it's evenly cooked and hot throughout. Serve with salad, leftover meat, or scrambled eggs.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Supermarket Season

chard with applesWe're probably not eating much local produce these days -- it's hard to know where the vegetables in our Big Chain Supermarket come from -- but the "seasonal" eating continues. I couldn't resist the Bright Lights Swiss chard. Try it with apples and carmelized onions for a colorful side dish. The sweetness of the onion and the fruit offsets the natural bitterness of the chard. I served the chard with pasta and fish, but it would go equally well with poultry or beef.

Swiss Chard With Apple and Carmelized Onion

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, chopped (about 3 cups)
2 Cortland apples, large dice, with peel on (about 2 cups)
1 bunch Swiss chard, washed, stems and leaves separated and chopped

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet that has a lid. Cook the onion over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes or until the onion begins to brown and carmelize. Stir in the apple and Swiss chard stems, and cook the mixture for about 5 minutes. Stir in the chard leaves, cover the skillet, and cook for 5 minutes more or until the chard is wilted to your liking. Season with salt and pepper if you wish.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Apple Notes and a Squash Recipe

The farm season is truly over now: It snowed here. Yeesh! That's all the more reason to be warming up the kitchen with some cooking. So here are a few notes before I take a short hiatus from CSA posts:
  • Applesauce is a wonderful thing. I made a couple of batches in the past week, using up 8 pounds of apples. Applesauce Cake is not far behind.
  • I tried out this Sweet Apple Pie Bread earlier this week. It's a quick bread--not especially pie-like--but it's virtually fat-free, especially if you use a skim milk-and-vinegar substitute for buttermilk. Watch out for the way the measurements are written: 1 "T" means a teaspoon of baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon, and not a tablespoon.
  • Searching for something to do with fish, I came across Teriyaki Trout with Snappy Apple Salsa by The Crispy Cook. Oooooh, this was tasty. I used Arctic char instead of Steelhead trout, and I didn't marinate the fish for more than 15 minutes, but it worked. The salsa features apple and fennel, which I found I liked despite not being overly fond of licorice. (I had plenty of leftover fennel, so I sliced and roasted it with parsnips and carrots for another dinner this week. I told you I was cooking.)
  • With the sudden turn to cold weather, I had a craving for soup. What a good way to use up my final container of Hubbard squash puree! This recipe is liberally adapted from one in the Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant cookbook. If you don't have a Hubbard squash (sigh), try butternut or acorn. (I bet it would work with pumpkin, too.) Roast, boil or steam the squash to get the cooked pulp.
Squash Soup
(Inspired by Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1.5 cups water
1 apple, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 cups cooked squash pulp
1.5 cups tomato juice
0.5 cups orange juice
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large pot. Saute onion and spices until onion is translucent. Add water, apple and celery, cover and simmer about 10 minutes.

Remove bay leaves. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the onion mixture to a food processor. Puree the onion mixture and squash and return to the liquid in the pot. Add the tomato juice and orange juice and mix well. Gently reheat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Eggplant, Without Parmesan

I love Eggplant Parmesan. Really, I do. It's tasty and filling and it freezes well. But when I have the eggplant, but not the time, I opt for stir-fry. I've been making variations of this for the last couple of weeks.

Eggplant Stir-Fry

(All amounts are approximate. I've marked a few ingredients as "optional," but consider them all optional. Adjust or substitute ingredients for your taste. )

Canola oil
1-inch knob of ginger, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
2-3 scallions, sliced, or 1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Thai chili, seeds removed, sliced
2 small bell peppers, chopped
4-5 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 or more eggplant (depending on size), cubed with peel on
1 pound thinly sliced beef or chicken, or fish or tofu (optional)
1/4 cup dry sherry
3 Tbsp soy sauce
Sesame oil (optional)
Sesame seeds (optional)

Heat a small amount of canola oil in a deep-sided skillet, and stir-fry the ginger, scallion/onion, garlic, chili pepper, bell pepper, and mushrooms until tender-crisp. Remove from skillet and heat a little more oil if necessary. Add the eggplant and let it cook undisturbed for about 3 minutes. It should brown a bit on the bottom but release from the bottom of the skillet. Stir the eggplant around and let it cook, now stirring occasionally, another 3 minutes or so, until it softens.

If you are adding a protein, remove the eggplant and stir fry the beef/chicken/etc. separately. Then continue by returning the vegetables to the skillet, along with the sherry and soy sauce. Add a touch of sesame oil if desired and garnish with sesame seeds.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Week 18: Season's Endings

raw corn grilled corn

It's been a corny summer. Good thing we're a corny family.

October 9 was our last pickup of the season: corn, apples, carrots, eggplant, parsnips, and peppers. I'm going to have to buy my Swiss chard at the supermarket or greengrocer now.

Way back in June, it wasn't clear we'd see anything this summer but lettuce, radishes, and leafy green vegetables. But here are some totals from the season:
  • 116 ears of corn
  • 51 peppers, about evenly split between sweet bell peppers and hot varieties
  • 44 tomatoes (that was a surprise!)
  • 28 apples
  • 27 cucumbers
  • 18 eggplant
  • 18 heads of lettuce (14 of them in the first three weeks of the season)
  • 11 summer squash and zucchini, combined
  • 2 winter squash
  • and ... 4 bunches of Swiss chard.
I have around 12 cups of blanched corn kernels in my freezer, so we won't be needing any canned corn for a while.

It was nice enough last Sunday to grill the fresh corn and eat it outside -- probably our last picnic until spring. I saved the kernels from two of the grilled ears for a pot of vegetarian chili.

The eggplant and some of the peppers went into a stir fry, my go-to plan for when I need a quick dinner. (Recipe posted here.)

The rest of the week has been dominated by apples. Caboodle and The Programmer picked a half-peck together a couple of weeks ago. Add to that the apples coming steadily from the CSA (six in this final week), and the full peck that Caboodle picked during a youth group outing on Columbus Day. I've resorted to making applesauce -- the first recipe I learned in junior high Home Ec.! I guess that course was worthwhile after all.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bonus Post: Spiked Apples!

Sometimes I stray from the model of veggies-grains-beans. We had beef brisket the other night, so I made these baked apples with herbs, shallots and wine. The recipe is not a slam-dunk--I found it to be a little too sweet--but it's worth trying. (You can safely ignore the part about pomegranate molasses.)

Even better was Buttered Rum Apples. I concocted the recipe, inspired by one that has even more alcohol in it. It was a decadent birthday dessert served with French vanilla ice cream.

Buttered Rum Apples

2 large Cortland apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into half-inch thick pieces
2 ounces butter (1/2 stick)
3 Tbsp light brown sugar
4 ounces dark rum
French vanilla ice cream

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute apples briefly and add in the sugar and rum. Simmer gently for 10 to 15 minutes until the sauce reduces and thickens. Split the apples between two dessert bowls and top with a scoop of ice cream.

Week 17: An Ode to the Mother Hubbard

: Caribbean Chicken Stew

hubbard in ovenAs much as we joke about Swiss chard around here, the real story of last year's CSA season was winter squash. We received 22 of them from mid-September through mid-October, including two Blue Hubbards that together weighed about 24 pounds. (That's the 9-pounder in the photo.) We ate squash roasted with herbs and stewed with spices. Cubed and curried. And when we couldn't keep up any longer by eating them fresh, we made squash puree that we could freeze. You can get two cups of puree from a 1-pound squash, so by the time we broke into our second Hubbard (in early November; these things can be kept for a while), we were swimming in squash.

Thus began our squash distribution project. Defrosted puree became squash bread, squash muffins, squash butter, spiced squash at Thanksgiving, and squash latkes at Chanukah. If you were a guest in my home anytime from last November through this past June, you were served something with squash in it. If I was a guest in your home, I brought along something with squash in it.

I bring this up because here we are, a day away from the end of the 2009 season, and I have received only two winter squash (both butternut). It's safe to say there is no way I'm going to get 22 squash from the CSA this year, and that makes me a little sad, even if I'm also a little relieved. So I salute thee, Hubbards of yore, and think: Maybe next season.

Aside from the squash, we received a full CSA bag this week: apples (baked); corn (boiled); plum tomatoes (sandwiches); eggplant (Parmesan); and green beans (marinated). Last week's butternut was cubed, tossed with a little olive oil, and roasted. This week's butternut was cubed and tossed with chicken and spices for a quick stew.

chicken stewCaribbean Chicken Stew
(adapted from USA Weekend recipe)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp nutmeg
1 red chili pepper, seeds removed and sliced
1 bay leaf
1 can (14.4 ounces) diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth or water
3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
2 cups butternut squash, cubed (half a squash)
1 can black beans (15.5 ounces), drained and rinsed

In a large pot, heat oil. Add onion, green pepper, garlic and saute 3 minutes. Add spices and saute 3 minutes longer. Add tomatoes, broth or water, chicken, squash, and beans. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, covered, 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with couscous or rice.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Week 16: Stuff This

: Poblanos With Mexican-Spiced Stuffing

stuffed poblanosWe started off the week with a passel of peppers: mostly poblanos, some sweet bells, a cubanelle, and skinny red chilies. (For the record, a passel is smaller than a peck.) I'm working down the hot chilies in stir fry and in scrambled eggs, but we polished off the rest of the lot in the form of stuffed peppers.

Stuffed peppers are a cinch to make, and they are a great vehicle for using up not only peppers but also leftover rice and beans. (If you look at some of the other recipes on my blog, you can see why I so often have a cup of canned beans in the fridge.) I baked the extra stuffing in a small casserole dish alongside the peppers.

Poblanos with Mexican-Spiced Stuffing
(amounts are approximate)

8 to 12 poblano peppers
3 cups cooked brown rice
1.5 cups black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 Tbsp ground cumin, or more to taste
1/2 cup Monterery Jack cheese, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup tomato sauce or salsa

Lay each poblano flat and make a T-shaped incision along the top. Gently pry the slits open and scrape out seeds. Rinse and dry the peppers and set aside.

Mix together the rice, beans, cumin, cheese, cilantro, and scallions. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Stuff the peppers.

Place tomato sauce or salsa on the bottom of a baking dish. (I used tomato sauce that I doctored with chili powder and garlic powder, but I think salsa would work well.) Lay the poblanos on the sauce and top each with a little extra cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes. Cool slightly, then serve the peppers with sauce or salsa on the side.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


A discovery made while baking last Friday morning:

Take eggs, sugar, flour, vegetable oil, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla. Combine them with pureed carrots and you get carrot kugel. Combine them with chocolate chips instead of carrots and you get mandelbrot.

The girls are now lobbying for chocolate chip kugel.

Week 15: A Quick Hit

arepasMeetings, afterschool activities, and other obligations made it a week of mostly utilitarian cooking at Chez Swiss Chard. Tuna-salad-for-dinner kind of cooking. The highlight, without a doubt, was Mark Bittman's Arepas With Cheese and Corn. I cooked these up when The Programmer had a "boy's night out" and served them with black beans, sliced plum tomatoes, and (yup) tuna salad.

My measuring must have been a bit off, because I had to add about a half-cup of cornmeal to the batter to get it to the right consistency. No matter; the corn cakes were still tasty. The Programmer tried the leftovers cold and deemed them delicious.

The rest of this week's corn has been blanched and frozen. Carrots and parsnips went into a pot of chicken soup. The vegetable bin contains sweet peppers, hot peppers, and eggplant; I see a stir fry on the horizon.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

All in One

I usually make chili or soup if the vegetables start piling up in the fridge, but in a moment of inspiration Tuesday night I paired vegetables, bulgur wheat, and beans for a satisfying meatless meal. I present to you ...

In-Grained Veggies


1 cup dry bulgur wheat, coarse grain
1.5 cups boiling water
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
2 large carrots, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 Japanese eggplant, quartered lengthwise and cut into small chunks
4 plum tomatoes
1 cup canned pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
Salt and pepper to taste


Put the bulgur into a bowl or 4-cup measuring cup and pour the boiling water over it. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes or until the bulgur absorbs the water.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, garlic, jalapeno, chili powder, and cumin. Cook, stirring, 2 to 3 minutes or until the carrots begin to soften.

Add the eggplant, tomatoes, and beans. Simmer 10 minutes or until the eggplant softens. Add the bulgur and cilantro and heat through, another 2 to 5 minutes. Taste to adjust seasonings and serve.

Week 14: How Do You Like Them Apples?

Very much, thank you.

THIS WEEK'S HITS: Dutch Baby and Apple Salsa
A RECOMMENDATION on good authority: Apple Cider Salmon

apple salsaThere were no grand family discussions about "seasonal eating" when I was growing up, but that's how my mother shopped. Berries in May. Corn in July. Apples in September.

Whether availability or cost was the overriding factor back then, I can't say. But as an adult, I find it hard to buy those California strawberries in the middle of January. After 20 years in New England, I have become indelibly attached to the local growing season.

Our harvest is full and varied now. Corn and cauliflower, eggplant and tomatoes, hot and sweet peppers. School's in session and the first apples are in. Frost can't be far away.

We've had some fun with apple recipes this week. Dutch Baby is a puffy oven pancake that would be good for a brunch. Apple Salsa was an addictive snack; we piled it onto blue corn tortilla chips. For an interesting entree idea, check out my friend Robin's column and her recipe for Apple Cider Salmon. I haven't made it yet, but I know Robin's cooking and her recipe sounds like a winner.

Dutch Baby
Adapted from The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine

Batter Ingredients

1 cup milk (non-fat is okay)
4 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp melted butter

Filling Ingredients

2 Tbsp butter
3 apples (Cortland recommended), peeled, cored and thickly sliced
2 Tbsp sugar


Using a blender, thoroughly combine milk and eggs. Add the flour, salt, sugar, vanilla, and melted butter. Blend again until the mixture is smooth. Transfer the batter to a container, cover, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 1 day.

When you are ready to make the pancake, set the oven to 450 degrees and butter a 9-inch square or round baking dish.

Prepare the filling: Melt the 2 Tbsp of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the apples, cook for 1 minute, then turn the apples over carefully. Sprinkle with the sugar and continue to cook for 2 minutes more or until the apples soften slightly.

Transfer the apples to the dish. Whisk the batter thoroughly and pour on top of the apples. Bake the dish, without opening the oven door, for 25 to 30 minutes or until the pancake is puffed and golden.

Apple Salsa
(Recipe origin unknown. If it's yours, thank you.)

Combine in a bowl:

2 large or 3 medium apples, cored and chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, finely chopped
Handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
Juice of one lemon
2 teaspoons maple syrup

The salsa can be served right away or made in advance; the flavors blend overnight.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Week 13: Adventures in Pepperland

Pepper-Feta Pizza
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Marinated Bell Peppers and Black Pepper Chicken

hot and sweet peppersIt all comes down to timing. Friday morning, I had four large pepper halves in the fridge (red, yellow, orange, green) -- leftovers from a Pepper-Feta Pizza that I made for Kit's birthday dinner. By Friday afternoon, I had another six green peppers (both hot and sweet), courtesy of my CSA.

Overall, the share was quite a sea of green. There was lettuce and green tomatoes, green-husked corn and green-red apples. But I knew that our dinners would be "peppered" all week.

The roundup:
  • Green Tomato Pie (with poblano pepper)
  • Vegetarian Chili (green bell pepper, jalapeno)
  • Marinated Bell Peppers (red, yellow, orange, green)
  • Corn Salsa (red bell pepper, ground cayenne)
  • Salmon Patties (green bell pepper)
  • Black Pepper Chicken (green bell pepper, ground black pepper)
  • Plus, the Pepper-Feta Pizza that started off the week.
(And lest I forget, we even had peppers at a friend's dinner party over Labor Day weekend: mini ones stuffed with a cream cheese filling. Very tasty.)

The pizza recipe is one of our favorites. We've been making it for ages. Of the week's other meals, The Programmer really liked the Green Tomato Pie, but I found it too cheesy. We both liked the Marinated Peppers; I made a half-batch of the recipe found here. The chicken dish was cobbled together from other recipes. We ate it with homemade pita bread (mmmm) but it would be good over rice or couscous, too.

Black Pepper Chicken


1 Tbsp canola oil
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips (about 1 lb meat)
1 red onion, cut into slivers
1 green bell pepper, cut into thin slices
3 Tbsp soy sauce, divided use
3/4 tsp coarse ground black pepper, or more to taste
1/4 tsp sugar


Marinate chicken in 2 Tbsp soy sauce for about 10 minutes. Heat oil in a large, deep-sided skillet, chef's pan, or wok. Stir fry the onions for a couple of minutes, until they begin to soften, then add the bell pepper and black pepper. Stir fry 1 minute more, then add the chicken. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the chicken is cooked through. Add the remaining soy sauce and sugar, adjust the seasonings to taste, and serve.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Sweet Nibblets!

corn cupcakes

Sometimes I cook food that is void of vegetables.

Cupcake recipe and decorating idea came from Hello, Cupcake! by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Week 12: Chard!

THIS WEEK'S HIT: Greened Beans
(aka Chard, White Beans, and Tomatoes)

Chard, White Beans, and TomatoesOur vacation week straddled the CSA pickup day, so this week we shared with a friend. She kept the green beans, some corn, a tomato, and the first apples of the season. Waiting for us at home were radishes, more corn, kale, a couple of tomatoes, and (yeah!) Swiss chard.

We were beginning to miss the chard.

In any case, we put our "leftovers" to good use. The radishes became a salad with a lime-orange dressing and the corn was simply boiled. Everything else went into an Italian-tinged side dish that I served with baked haddock.

You can use any combination of hardy greens for this recipe, which I adapted from one by Lidia Bastianich. Kit gets credit for coming up with the punny name.

Greened Beans (aka Chard, White Beans, and Tomatoes)


1 bunch Swiss chard, stems trimmed and leaves sliced into strips
1 bunch kale, trimmed and sliced as above
1 Tbsp olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or less, if you don't like the heat)
2 to 3 tomatoes, diced
1 can (15 ounces) cannellini or other white beans, drained and rinsed
Black pepper
Lemon juice (about 1 Tbsp)
Extra olive oil


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the greens, cover, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until tender. Drain.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes or until the garlic turns golden. Add the tomatoes, and cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes, or until the tomatoes begin to soften.

Add the beans and greens and cook for about 5 minutes more. Add salt, black pepper, and lemon juice to taste. If desired, sprinkle with extra olive oil before serving.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Week 11: Three Easy Steps for a New Hue

green tomatoes
Step One: Receive a couple of nice green tomatoes in your CSA bag. (That's green as in unripe, not a green tomato variety).

Step Two: Peruse the Web for recipes that don't include the word "fried" before the words "green tomatoes."

Step Three: Make this recipe for a Green Tomato and Zucchini Gratin and enjoy the accolades of your family. Or the accolades of my family. We'll be over at 6.

Green Tomato and Zucchini Gratin

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Week 10: Cool as a ... Well, You Know ...

THIS WEEK'S HIT: Raita and Tomato-Vegetable Curry

  • Outside air temperature: 88 degrees
  • Kitchen temperature, with AC on: 78 degrees
  • Internal temperature of cucumber, pulled from refrigerator into air-conditioned kitchen: 40 degrees
cucumber with thermometerHey, these babies really are cool!

This week's farm share held the antidote to a sudden stretch of hot weather: a dozen cucumbers and seven tomatoes. We took the remedy in the form of pickles, gazpacho, Greek salad, Indian raita, and vegetarian curry. Mmmmm, cool (except for the curry, which was mmmmm, spicy hot). We also received blueberries (eaten out of hand), cherry tomatoes (sauteed with garlic, basil, and sage, and served over pasta), kale (went into the curry), carrots (steamed), eggplant (grilled), green bell peppers (added to the pickles and gazpacho), and a bunch of flowers (vase).

I know tomatoes are hard to find in some locations, but our farm is not organic and the crop hasn't succumbed to blight. Enjoy them if you have them.


Adjust the proportions of yogurt, cucumber, and spices to your liking.

Mix together the following:

1 tsp cumin, toasted in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 1 minute
1 cup plain yogurt (non-fat is okay)
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
salt, pepper, and paprika to taste

Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with curry or similar spicy food.

Tomato-Vegetable Curry

1 Tbsp canola oil
1 tsp black mustard seed (yellow mustard seed also works)
4 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 onion, chopped
2-3 tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 small bunch kale, chopped (can substitute other greens or cabbage)
6 ounces tomato juice
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp cardamom

tomato-vegetable curryIn a 5-quart Dutch oven, heat the oil until hot. Add the mustard seeds, cover the pot, and let the seeds pop. Add the cloves and cinnamon stick, cover, and cook until the spices are fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.

Carefully remove the cloves and cinnamon (you may want to do this off-heat), then add the onion and tomatoes to the pot. Cook them covered, about 5 minutes or until they soften. Add the ginger and cook one minute more. Then add the kale and all of the remaining spices and cook, covered, about 5 minutes or until the kale begins to wilt.

Add the tomato juice and cauliflower. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 to 45 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft. (Watch the level of liquid and add a bit of tomato juice or water if the mixture becomes too dry.) Serve with raita and warm naan.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Week 9: We're All Ears

THIS WEEK'S HIT: Seaside Corn and Bean Salad

ear of cornYou really should try the corn here. It's been ... a-maize-ing. (Sorry.)

We are at the halfway point of our CSA season, and this week brought us corn, carrots, tomatoes, summer squash, pickling cucumbers, bell pepper, an Italian eggplant, and a bouquet of "pick your own" flowers. The flowers were a bit of a pain to gather, but they looked kinda nice in our family room.

We made good use of the eggplant, squash, bell pepper, and some of the tomatoes in a "south-of-the-border" ratatouille. (Following a suggestion in the Moosewood Cookbook, I subbed cumin and chili powder for the more conventional basil and oregano.) We served the ratatouille with grilled corn, spiced up with chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and/or lime.

More corn (not grilled) was sauteed with native green beans, red onion, and scallions for a quick summer succotash. And I borrowed liberally from an old magazine recipe to put together a corn and bean salad that was perfect for a picnic at the beach.

Seaside Corn and Bean Salad


1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1.5 cups corn kernels, cooked (cut from 2 ears of corn)
1/2 cup diced cucumber (seeded)
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
1/2 cup diced onion
1 Tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp basil, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp powdered mustard
1/4 tsp curry powder
Salt and pepper to taste


Mix together the beans, corn, cucumber, pepper, onion, parsley, and garlic in a medium bowl. Whisk the olive oil with vinegar and spices. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and mix gently to combine. Chill for a couple of hours for flavors to blend. Serves 4.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Bonus Post: Easy as Pie

The Programmer and I have this thing about blueberry pie. It was the dessert that I made for our first anniversary dinner -- the one that came exactly a year before our wedding -- and we have celebrated each year with pie ever since. Lucky for us, our anniversary falls in July, at the height of the local blueberry season.

Blueberries were plentiful at the farm last week when we went to pick our own (yeah for that CSA voucher from earlier in the season!). We picked 3.14 pounds -- just enough, The Programmer astutely noted, to make pi. (Honestly, I'm not making that weight up; it was on the receipt.)

Our anniversary pie recipe comes from The Union Leader newspaper, which in those days ran a column featuring home cooks. It's a ridiculously easy pie. It's the kind of pie to make if you are a bit intimidated by the idea of making a pie. It's the kind of pie that can be made without turning on your oven. For me, it's the pie that launched a marriage, which is reason enough to make it every year.

Nita-Nee's Anniversary Blueberry Pie

Filling Ingredients

3 cups blueberries
juice of one lemon
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1 9-inch pie crust, baked (not deep dish); graham cracker crust preferred (see note below)
whipped cream


Wash and drain the berries. Measure 1 cup berries, 2 Tbsp water, lemon juice, and sugar into a medium saucepan. Heat to boiling, then cook and stir 3 minutes. Blend together the cornstarch and 3 Tbsp water. Stir mixture into berries and bring back to a boil. Heat and stir until the mixture thickens and clears (consistency will be like jam). Remove from heat. Stir in remaining berries. Turn filling into pie shell and chill until set. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.


The original recipe called for a 9-inch baked pie crust, and you can certainly use any kind of tart or pie dough here. I have always used a graham cracker crust (remember what I said about intimidation). You can buy a prepared graham cracker crust -- I won't tell -- but it's easy (tastier!) to make your own.

Graham Cracker Crust

1.5 cup crumbs (20 to 22 graham crackers, or use the crushed crumbs from a box)
1 tsp flour
1/2 cup melted butter
2 Tbsp (scant) sugar
[3/4 tsp cinnamon -- I leave this out when I'm making blueberry pie, but it's good in other recipes]

Mix the crumbs with the flour and sugar (and the cinnamon, if using); blend with the melted butter. Press the crumb mixture firmly onto the bottom and sides of a lightly buttered 9-inch pie plate, to a thickness of about 1/4-inch. Chill crust 45 minutes to an hour before filling OR bake in a 375 degree oven for 7 minutes, then cool completely before filling.

Sugar-Free Variation

You can make the pie filling and crust with Splenda instead of sugar. Be sure to refrigerate leftovers, as Splenda does not have the same preservative qualities as sugar.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Week 8: A Little Corny

THIS WEEK'S HIT: Tomato-Corn Soup

When you think of corn do you think of Iowa? I often do, but when I pass corn fields here I'm reminded that the crop has been cultivated in Massachusetts for centuries.

The local corn plants are beginning to show some height, so it was no surprise to find another dozen ears in this week's CSA share, along with basil, carrots, peaches, pickling cucumbers, yellow squash, zucchini, and a head of cabbage. The peaches were great eaten out of hand; the cucumbers became quick pickles; and I combined some of the cabbage and zucchini with boiled potatoes for Bubble and Squeak (more on this another time).

But the highlight of the week was corn. We boiled some shortly after picking it up at the farm, and blanched and froze some more for another day. A gift of tomatoes put us in the mood for the soup recipe below, which makes good use of this week's produce.

Tomato-Corn Soup


1 T olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cups diced tomatoes, seeds removed (2 to 2.5 pounds)
2 cups water
1.5 cups corn kernels (2 to 3 ears), either raw or cooked
1 tsp salt
Fresh herbs of your choice – a good combination is 1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil and 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
Coarse ground black pepper, to taste


In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onion and celery for 7 to 8 minutes, until they begin to soften. Remove one-third cup of the mixture and set it aside.

Add garlic to the pot and sauté 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, water, and salt and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn down the heat, and simmer the vegetables until they are tender, about 15 minutes.

Let the mixture cool a bit, then puree it in a food processor and return it to the pot. Stir in the reserved celery and onion, the corn, and the herbs. Simmer until the corn is tender, 10 to 15 minutes if the corn is raw, or 5 minutes if the corn is already cooked. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve.

Serves 3 to 4

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Think Ahead!

Connors Farm has a waiting list going for shares in 2010. Current members do not need to sign up -- we get a priority listing -- but if you are considering joining the CSA next year, now's the time to get on the list. (If you are outside of the Danvers area, you might want to check in with your preferred program.)

In other farm news, I had a nice conversation with Bob Connors on Friday when I picked up this week's share. He says crops are looking good for August and September. Some other Massachusetts farms have reported problems due to weather and late blight, so this is especially good news for us.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Week 7: The Hyper-Local Dinner

THIS WEEK'S HIT: Dinner with friends. HONORABLE MENTION: Deconstructed Squash "Salad"

Kit went off to overnight camp this week. This will not appreciably change the amount of vegetables consumed at home, or at camp, I suspect.

It's not that Kit dislikes vegetables. She dislikes risk, which makes her leery of any food presented in a novel way. Our CSA program throws her for a loop, because I tend to experiment with the vegetables we receive.

One favorite of hers, though, is corn. And that was our modest contribution to an amazing meal we had with friends a couple of days before Kit's departure to camp. Our hosts' game plan: Visit a local farmers' market for fish and vegetables and make dinner from the purchases.

Now you should know that our friends, in addition to being great cooks, are kitchen maniacs who do not restrict themselves to the model of Entree-Starch-Vegetable. So our meal -- for four adults and three children -- included striped bass and salmon from a local fish purveyor; yellow squash grilled with a homemade mocha spice mix (yup, there's a local chocolate manufacturer); grilled celeriac; collards cooked with shallots and veggie bacon; two kinds of potato salad; pickled beets and other pickled vegetables; grilled chicken cutlets; a savory plum sauce for the grilled food; wild blueberry-custard tarts; chocolate angel food cake with black raspberry sauce (raspberries from the hosts' garden!); brownies with chocolate chips and marshmallows; and the boiled corn. Just about everything served, aside from the brownies, featured a local ingredient. And I'm probably forgetting something we ate.

It would be daunting to replicate that meal, but the components came from Connors Farm (our CSA!), the Winchester Farmers Market, and the Arlington Farmers Market. There are numerous other farmers' markets in the Boston area; Taza Chocolate makes the rounds at several of them.

Back at home, we kept things simple. We mixed our CSA tomatoes and cucumbers with onion for a cool chopped salad; marinated chickpeas and more cucumber in basalmic vinegar and olive oil; and munched on peaches and sweet, raw carrots. We also fiddled with a recipe for a sauteed squash salad, cutting down on the olive oil and serving the components separately to accommodate individual tastes. The original recipe was posted on the Idylwilde Farm web site; my version is below. (Sorry, no picture. We ate this up too quickly.)

Deconstructed Squash "Salad"


2 small zucchini
2 small yellow squash
4 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Hot pepper flakes
salt and pepper

Peel and slice the garlic. Remove the ends of the squash and slice lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices. Cut the slices in half crosswise if they are very long.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and saute the garlic slices until they are brown. Remove and reserve the garlic. Saute the squash slices in batches until brown, about 2 minutes per side. If necessary, drain the slices on paper towels before placing on a platter.

Serve the squash at room temperature with the garlic slices, vinegar, and spices available on the side. Serves 2 to 4 people.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cat got your chard?

lolcat with chard

My older daughter found this posted at the Lolcats site. She tells me CSA stands for "Cat-supported Agriculture."

Week 6: Weather or Not

THIS WEEK’S HIT: Nut-Free Pesto

See those flowers over there in the photo? That’s our farm’s way of saying “We’re sorry about June.”impatiens from our csa

If you didn’t experience our June, you probably heard about it. Cloudy. Chilly. Wet. Repeat. Good weather for growing lettuce and other greens, apparently; kind of hard on the other crops.

The weather improved a bit recently, and the CSA bag that we picked up on July 17 was light, but it had new things:
1 bunch basil; 1 pint blueberries; 6 ears corn; 1/2 pound green beans; 1 bunch kale; 1 huge head Boston lettuce; and 3 summer squash. The hanging bag of impatiens was the perk.
Now it happens that we picked up our first-ever CSA basket just a year ago, on July 18, 2008, so we can compare weeks:
1 bunch basil; 1 pint blueberries; 12 ears corn; 13 pickling cucumbers; 4 regular cucumbers; 1 bunch dill; 2 pounds green beans; 2 heads red leaf lettuce; 1 head romaine lettuce; 4 spring onions; 3 pattypan squash; 1 pint raspberries; 3 summer squash; 2 bunches Swiss chard; and 10 zucchini.
That turned out to be a representative week for the summer. See what a little sunshine can do around here?

We kept the vegetables mostly plain this week – boiled corn, steamed beans, sauteed kale. The summer squash were sliced, sauteed with onions and garlic, and then simmered with a homemade tomato sauce. I served them with pasta and a nice dollop of basil pesto.

basil pestoBecause I can’t use nuts in my cooking, I use this pesto recipe, modified from one printed some years back in The Boston Globe. You can freeze the basil puree, without the cheese, in ice cube trays. Just add some cheese after defrosting. I sometimes throw a cube of this into soup or stew.

Nut-Free Pesto
(makes about 1.5 cups)


1 clove garlic, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup olive oil, or less to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


In a food processor, combine the garlic and salt and pulse to chop. Add the basil and oil. Pulse the mixture until it is finely pureed but is not a smooth paste.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Taste for seasoning and add more chopped garlic if desired. If using immediately, stir in the cheese. Otherwise, cover the pesto tightly and refrigerate. Add the cheese just before serving.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Week 5: A Quick CSA Primer

THIS WEEK’S HITS: Vegetarian “Cajun” Collards
and Chard, Chickpeas and Feta

Broadly speaking, Community Supported Agriculture is a system of shared risk. You pay in advance for a share of the harvest and you assume some of the farmer’s risks in growing it.

There are different models for this. Some CSA programs are run by a single farm; others are cooperatives. Some operate in an Iron Chef mode: Your bag of “secret ingredients” is revealed each week. Others offer credits or “free choice” so you can bag your own mix of produce from the available harvest. Still others require members to work on the farm as part of their share.

What’s available from a CSA, in terms of quantity and variety, can vary considerably, depending on weather, critters, Acts of God, and the farm’s commitments to retail outlets. It’s not necessarily a money-saver -- though I certainly squirreled away a lot of food last fall. It’s more about eating well and supporting local agriculture.

I love our CSA program, and it’s a good fit for us. It helps that The Programmer and I like vegetables, like to cook, and are willing to experiment with unfamiliar food. I know where my vegetables are being grown and I know the guy who’s growing them.

That’s a benefit also offered by farmers’ markets and farm stands. If a CSA share is not a practical option for you (and you know who you are), I encourage you to patronize your local growers for fresh, seasonal produce. Local food is good eating!

Chickpeas and FetaThe past week was a light one for our CSA, which is still recovering from a gloomy June. We received Swiss chard, beets, Boston and red leaf lettuce, collard greens, sage plants for our own garden, and a voucher for pick-your-own fruit later this season. Still, it was a good week of dinners. Chard, Chickpeas and Feta was a side dish to baked cod. Several recipes are available on the Web; I started with the one here, substituting red onion for green. I pickled the beets in a mustard vinaigrette and I roasted chicken with parsley, thyme, and our newly acquired sage.

CollaVegetarian “Cajun” Collards and Chardrd greens were a new one for us. (Yes, The Programmer grew up in Florida, but his Miami upbringing was closer in spirit to New York than anywhere in the Deep South.)

Unlike many traditional recipes for collards, this one – slightly modified from one found on -- includes no pork and has a fairly short cooking time. I served the greens with the roasted chicken. They were even better reheated the next day.

Vegetarian “Cajun” Collards


1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil, for sauteeing
1 bunch collard greens, rinsed, stemmed, and chopped
1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained with liquid reserved
Reserved tomato liquid plus water to make 3/4 cup
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste


Heat a little olive oil in a Dutch oven and sauté the onions and garlic until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add the collard greens and the reserved tomato liquid and water. Cook, covered, for about 8 minutes, or until the greens have softened slightly. Add the tomato pieces and spices and simmer, covered, for another 8 minutes or until the greens are done to your liking. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Week 4: To Market, To Market

THIS WEEK'S HIT: Chimichurri

It was dinner for 10 last Friday evening (July 3), and I had decided on a meal of fish, pasta, and peas. So when I picked up my CSA share midday Friday, I took stock of my goodies:

  • Greens -- Enough to feed the Massachusetts National Guard
  • Peas -- Enough to feed a family of four, with one child abstaining
I could have held onto the peas for another day, but since I had my heart set on serving them, I did the natural thing: I bought some more. Which is kind of funny, considering how overwhelmed I sometimes feel on Friday afternoons looking at the week’s load of vegetables.

One risk with our type of CSA is that you might not get what you want when you want it. (Other farms operate differently; I intend to discuss this in a future post.) Culinary flexibility helps. But even last summer, when we essentially lived off of cukes, zukes, squash, chard, tomatoes, and corn, we still had to pick up some produce. (They just don’t grow bananas here.)

So it was steamed peas Friday night, and I had just the right mix of leftovers from dinner for a tasty pasta salad later in the week.

Overall it was a good week for experimentation. Fresh bunches of cilantro and parsley led us to try chimichurri, an Argentine sauce similar to pesto. Since chimichurri typically accompanies grilled meat, we made beef shish kebab using the first zucchinis from the farm; for a twist, the Programmer threw a head of romaine lettuce onto the grill, too. Pickled beets and a "sweet and savory" kale recipe rounded out the week.

The chimichurri recipe was adapted from one featured recently in USA Weekend magazine.



4 cloves of garlic
2 cups (packed) parsley leaves
1 cup (packed) cilantro leaves
1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes (or substitute fresh hot pepper)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (could certainly use less, depending on the consistency you want)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp vinegar
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
Black pepper to taste


Mince garlic and herbs in a food processor. Add remaining ingredients and process until pureed.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Week 3: It's Not for the Squeamish

: Chicken With Rhubarb, Raisins, and Green Olives

Our farm practices Integrated Pest Management. Which is to say, the pests are integrated with the vegetables. I think it's a small price to pay for the quality and freshness of the produce, but it markedly distinguishes farm purchases from supermarket purchases: You get dirt and you get bugs. Sometimes in great quantity. And you get good in washing everything v-e-r-y carefully.

This week, I washed three heads of lettuce and our first bunch of Swiss chard (whoo-hoo) leaf by leaf. And it was worth it, though time consuming. The chard was sauteed with garlic and onion. The lettuce became salad and stir fry, as in past weeks. And we also enjoyed fresh peas, strawberries, and radishes.

With rhubarb from a neighbor's garden we tried this chicken dish. The recipe was clipped a few years back from the Boston Globe's Sunday Magazine.

Chicken With Rhubarb, Raisins, and Green Olives


1 Tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup white wine
1 cup stock or water
4 large stalks rhubarb, thinly sliced
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped [I substituted about 1 Tbsp minced ginger]
2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
1/2 cup green olives
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
6 bone-in chicken breasts
Additional olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste


Set the oven to 500 degrees. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil and cook the onion over medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for half a minute.

Pour the wine into the pan and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to medium and reduce the liquid to one-half cup.

Add the stock (or water), rhubarb, ginger, sugar, raisins, olives and thyme. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, arrange the chicken, skin side up, in a baking pan large enough to hold the chicken in one layer. Rub the chicken with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the chicken for 20 minutes, then decrease the oven temperature to 400 degrees.

Turn the chicken over. Spoon the rhubarb mixture on top and return dish to oven. Cook for 10 minutes. Turn the chicken skin side up again and cook another 10 minutes or until it is cooked through.

Serves 4 to 6.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Week 2: Salad Days

: Beans and Greens Soup

When the CSA gives you lettuce, you make salad. And stir-fry. And maybe cooked lettuce and peas, but only once.

This week's basket was similar to last week's, with lettuce, strawberries, radishes, and rhubarb, plus baby beet greens and Tuscan kale. The baby beet greens I sauteed with onions and shitake mushrooms and served over pasta (yumm); the rhubarb and some of the strawberries went into a crisp (Moosewood Cookbook; highly recommended); and the kale went into a hearty soup that makes a nice meal with a side salad. After all, we had a lot of salad available.

I received the soup recipe a year or two ago in the mail with a supermarket promotion that credits it to "the Taste for Life test kitchen." The paraphased version:

Beans and Greens Soup


olive oil, for sauteeing
1 large onion, diced
1 tomato, diced
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup carrot, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced [I used more]
4 cups broth or water [I used about 6 cups of water to accommodate the large head of greens that I had]
salt and pepper to taste [you can add other spices or herbs, of course]
2 cans (15 ounce) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 bunch greens (kale, collards, spinach, etc.), cleaned and sliced or chopped
Parmesan cheese, for garnish, optional


In a large soup pot, saute onion, tomato, celery, carrot, and garlic until the vegetables begin to soften and the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add water and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes more. Stir in beans and greens. Cook until the greens are just tender, 5 to 15 minutes depending on variety. Serve in bowls and top with cheese if desired.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Week 1: Lettuce Begin

Stir-Fried Garlic Lettuce

This week's CSA haulWe picked up our first CSA basket of the season last Friday, and it was very green: four huge heads of lettuce (Boston, green leaf, red leaf, and romaine).

To be fair, it was also red, with beets, radishes, strawberries, and a couple of hothouse tomatoes. And in keeping with the color scheme, there was a bunch of green and red rhubarb.

The strawberries barely made it to the fridge. We ate those out of hand and saved the rhubarb for a couple of savory treatments: a nice chutney and a modified version of a lentil dish by Mark Bittman (which needed further modification). The beets were roasted and eaten with salad. Lots of salad. Luckily for us, we had friends over for dinner one night, so we were able to make a dent in the abundant greens. And the romaine made a nice stir fry mid-week.

Monday, January 26, 2009

So, what's with the chard?

Swiss Chard and Mushroom Quiche

Swiss Chard and Mushroom QuichePrior to last summer, I had cooked Swiss chard once, maybe twice. It's a pretty vegetable -- especially the Ruby variety, with its red stem and veins against dark green leaves -- but not one that I ever sought out. And yet, there it was, week after week, in our CSA basket.

Now, The Programmer will eat just about anything I cook, but Kit and Caboodle are more, shall we say, particular. And Swiss chard was met with particular resistance. It became a running joke all summer. Kit went off to three weeks of overnight camp, but she couldn't escape the Swiss chard; we found ways to mention it in every letter to camp.

The girls never came around to chard, but The Programmer and I found that it's a decent substitute for spinach or other greens. It's especially yummy sauteed in olive oil with a bit of fresh garlic. Plus, it's easy to steam and freeze chard -- a fact that saved us from overload mid-summer.

I had a pie crust in the freezer, along with some chard, so I made this quiche recently on a cold night:

Swiss Chard and Mushroom Quiche


1 9-inch pie crust (deep dish)
1 bunch Swiss chard, steamed and chopped (defrosted, if frozen)
5 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup chopped onion
olive oil, for sauteeing
1 cup milk (I use fat-free)
2 whole eggs
2 egg whites
1 tsp basil
dash nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese


Heat oven to 450 degrees. Bake the pie crust on a baking sheet for 7 minutes, then set aside to cool slightly. Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Saute mushrooms and onion in a small amount of olive oil until soft and liquid from mushrooms has evaporated. Mix in Swiss chard and set aside.

In a small bowl, beat together the milk, eggs, egg whites, and spices.

Layer in the pie crust the Swiss chard mixture, followed by the cheese, and then the milk/egg mixture. Bake 30 to 45 minutes or until the top has browned and the custard has set. Cool slightly before slicing.

By way of introduction

It was 5 degrees this morning. We still have a heap of snow on the ground. But I'm holding onto a vision of spring, and it comes down to this: Swiss chard. Maybe asparagus. Followed by strawberries and zucchini and corn on the cob and that first tomato.

Yes, I have mailed out the paperwork for this year’s Community Supported Agriculture program.

During the summer and fall of 2008, I discovered the joys and trials of having a weekly CSA basket. The family was knee-deep in produce for 13 weeks; and now, a good three months after the end of the local farm season, we are working through the remains of the bounty: winter squash, pickles, pesto, and the ubiquitous chard. With a little planning, we should be able to finish everything off before the new produce starts coming in mid-June.

There is nothing like seasonal produce from a local farm, unless you grow your own. So I accept the challenge of finding something to do with all of those vegetables. It doesn’t matter that the farm-share season will be longer this year (18 weeks!). It doesn’t matter that the girls strongly prefer their vegetables in the forms of Carrot Cake, Chocolate Zucchini Cake, and “Not Quite Pumpkin Because We Have a Lot of Squash” Bread. I am armed with ideas and recipes and a second freezer.

Bring on the fresh chard!