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.