Roasted Berries
So many things are arriving every week in the CSA box!

And now blueberries…can you resist them? Every time I’m in grocery store or farmer’s market, I grab another box – before the last box is consumed. They usually go in smoothies, on cereal or yogurt, or in a muffin, if it’s not too hot to bake. But there are always more! Here are some ideas for using them that go beyond the ordinary (I’ll address that zucchini at another time!):

1. Freeze ’em. Spread them on a rimmed baking sheet and freeze until solid. Transfer to ziploc bags. Best used in their frozen state, without thawing, for pancakes and muffins, smoothies, or as a snack right out of the bag!
2. Smoke ’em: Toss a pint of blueberries with a dash of olive oil, a splash of lemon juice, and 1/2 Cup brown sugar. Spread in a foil pan and place in your smoker. Smoke for about 30-35 minutes. Serve on a cheese platter or use for a BBQ sauce.
3. Roast ’em. Toss 2 Cups of berries with 1 T. lemon juice. Spread on a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Into the oven at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Excellent with ricotta or yogurt.
4. Dress ’em. Make a blueberry vinaigrette of 1 Cup berries, 2/3 Cup of oil, 1/3 Cup balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste; throw it all in a blender until smooth. Use on tossed salad.
5. Sour ’em. Whisk 1/2 Cup white wine vinegar, 1/4 Cup sugar, and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Add 2 Cups of blueberries and small, sliced shallot. Cover and refrigerate overnight before using.

Hamburger Buns for Carb-Lovers

BunzAre you gluten-free? Not eating carbs? This post is not for you: you can stop reading now.

Okay, now that all those guys have left the room, we carb-puppies can salivate over this photo – can’t you almost smell them? Store-bought hamburger buns are usually what I call “flabby” – cottony, tasteless, and weird. These are easy to make if in your trusty food processor. The trick is not to have your liquids too hot or too cold – you want them in that middle place where they’re neither – about 5-7 seconds in the microwave will do it, if you’re in a hurry.

Yes, they involve a little time commitment. Yes, you can add sugar, milk, and butter to white flour in their list of crimes. But, really, if you’re going to go through the trouble of making your own hamburgers (pre-made patties be damned!), then go all the way and bake up some love. You can eat salad and quinoa tomorrow. And if some super-thin person makes some snide remark, just tell them:

Bread Body
Hamburger Buns
(8-10 buns)

3-1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
¼ Cup tepid water
¾ Cup tepid milk
1 large egg
2 Tablespoons canola oil or melted butter

In the food processor, pulse flour, salt, sugar, and yeast to mix.

In a large glass measuring cup, stir together milk, water, egg, and oil/butter. With the machine running, pour liquids through feed tube. Run machine until mixture forms a ball.

Stop machine; let the dough rest in the bowl of the food processor for 5 minutes. Then, run the machine for 30 seconds.

Turn dough onto the counter; knead briefly and form into a ball.  Spray bowl with oil, place ball in bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Deflate the dough gently. Use a sharp knife to divide into 8-10 pieces (weighing about 2 ounces each, if you like using your scale). Form into rolls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet (slightly pressing them flat). Cover with oiled cling wrap; let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400OF. Brush buns with a little egg wash – bake for 10-12 minutes.

Farmer’s Market Radish Butter

radish butterThanks to everyone who stop by our stand at Shrewsbury Farmer’s Market today, to chat and sample. CU will be back on July 15.

This week, we passed out nibbles of our radish butter on stone-ground crackers. There were so many requests for the recipe, I’ve posted it here. If you think you don’t like radishes, please try this. There’s nothing in the world like butter and radishes! It’s a great spread for crackers and baquettes, but try it as a sandwich spread!

Radish Butter in Endive
(3/4 Cup)

1/2 pound red radishes, trimmed
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground white pepper
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (we used dill!)

Put the radishes in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the radishes are finely diced.

Transfer the radishes to a clean dishtowel; wrap them up and wring out the excess liquid. Transfer the radishes to a medium bowl and add the butter.

With a rubber spatula, cream the radish and butter together until smooth. Add the lemon juice, salt, pepper, and herbs. Taste it and adjust the seasonings; you may want more lemon juice or salt or herbs. Refrigerate until firm enough to spread.



At Shrewsbury Farmer’s Market

GGCU was invited to participate in the Shrewsbury Farmer’s Market this year and we are excited about it! We’ll be there every other Wednesday this summer.

Today is the first day for us, so if you have a chance, swing by. Suzanne and I are making some goodies from our CSA share. We’re members of the inaugural Chestnut Hill Farms CSA this year, located right here in Southborough. We have some beautiful Napa cabbage, salad turnips, Tuscan kale, French radishes, and lots and lots and lots of herbs to work with – we’re all about the herbs!

Since the greens are so nice, we’ll prepare a salad – with one of our favorite dressings. Green Goddess dressing is one of the best ways we know of to use an abundance of herbs from the garden.

Green Goddess Dip
(8 servings)

1/2 Cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley
3 Tablespoons roughly chopped fresh chives
1 Tablespoon roughly chopped fresh tarragon
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons anchovy paste
1 small garlic clove, peeled and sliced
8 ounces (1 Cup) plain Greek yogurt

In a blender or food processor, combine the parsley, chives, tarragon, white wine vinegar, lemon zest, lemon juice, anchovy paste, garlic, and yogurt. Pulse until the mixture is completely smooth and all the ingredients are pureed. It should be thick, but you can thin it with a little water if you like.

Cover and chill until ready to use.


Pizza Now

How lazy can you get? In the home kitchen, you would be astounded. Is there a daily chore out there that has more people searching for shortcuts than cooking? Hence all the kitchen gadgets that make zillions for cookware stores. Pizza scissors? Electric spaghetti twirling fork? Avocado reamer?

You’re muttering “food snob” under your breath, aren’t you? I am, but that’s beside the point. Shortcuts are great, but only if the final result is as good as going the long way around – and doesn’t involve the purchase of yet another “time-saving” device or packaged food product. And while anyone who holds down a job has my respect, I really don’t want to be on a first-name basis with my pizza delivery person. That’s not snobbery – that’s pathetic. Read more

Ma! Meatloaf!

Ever see the comedy Wedding Crashers? At one point, Will Ferrell’ s character, Chaz – a wild-eyed Hugh Hefner manqué, complete with maroon silk dressing gown – offers his morning visitor meatloaf. Now, the standard offer to a casual acquaintance would be coffee or a Coke, maybe even a beer. But meatloaf? It’s amusing but, really, it’s genius: who doesn’t want a slice of meatloaf, anytime of day?

Why don’t I make this loaf of meat more often? It’s universally loved at our house, especially leftover and cold in a sandwich or (be still my heart) a meatloaf taco. It’s rare sighting is probably due to an effort to limit our red meat intake. Now, I’ve made bison meatloaf that’s very good but very pricey (two pounds of bison costs about $25). No, I’m not going to make a ground turkey meatloaf: it’s gotta beef or nothing. Meatloaf is macho; poultryloaf is twee. Read more

Balti House Takeaway

Spicy Coconut Balti Shrimp

What is “balti”? Well, beyond being a type of curry, there doesn’t seem to be mush agreement. Some people think Balti cuisine derives from the wok-like skillet used to prepare these curries (sometimes the food is also served in the pan). Others trace its origins to Baltistan, a part of Pakistan that borders China, where a cast-iron two-handled wok is used to prepare many dishes.

I like to teach Indian food newbies the joys of using a wok for making curries (it’s also for preparing chile, soup, and deep-frying). The high heat and sloped sides make it the perfect vessel for curries, which fall between soup and stew in consistency. You’ve got some real estate to work with when you use a wok!

Now, if balti food truly has it origins in the high mountains of Baltistan, then shrimp probably doesn’t appear on the menu all that often – if evah! So this recipe is a nod to the idea that Balti food is named for the pan itself, because my recipe is simply a stir-fried shrimp dish made with Indian spices.

Balti: real cuisine or just a fancy name for stir-frying? I’m agnostic on the subject, because when the food is this easy and delicious, why worry about trifles like provenance?

A few notes. Tomatos at this time of year? Ugh! I usually use a cup of halved cherry or grape tomatoes instead because they have some flavor, or a tablespoon of tomato paste in a pinch. Don’t look for unsweetened coconut in the baking section – go over to the aisle with Latin American groceries or hit the health food or whole foods store. You can adjust the heat by adding to or deleting from the number of chiles in the recipe but it should sear your mouth.

Balti Prawns in Spicy Coconut Sauce
(4 servings)

2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, sliced
4 dried whole red chilies OR 2 teaspoons crushed red chile flakes
3 garlic cloves, sliced
3 Tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
1 Tablespoon shredded fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tomatoes, diced
1/3 Cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 Tablespoon lime juice
Fresh cilantro and additional shredded ginger, for garnish

Heat the oil in a wok or skillet over MEDIUM-HIGH heat. Stir in the onion; lower the heat a bit and cook until the onion is lightly brown.

Add the chilies, garlic, coconut, and coriander and stir for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, water, salt, and sugar. Simmer until thickened.

Stir in the shrimp and the lime juice. Simmer on LOW for 3-4 minutes or until shrimp are just cooked through.

Garnish with cilantro and shredded ginger.


Pie Friday: Tarte aux Quetsches

Too hot to eat…must wait…

Okay, there was no pie last Friday for various reasons, e.g., illness. No one wants a pie that the baker has sneezed on.

But this week’s pie more than makes up for it because it’s one of my absolute favorites. I’m a huge fan of plums, especially the last-of-the-season Italian prune plums. They are small and sweet, yellow-fleshed, with a dark purple skin that looks flour-dusted. Cooked, the plums turn a deep magenta. And the taste? Well, if you love the sweet-tart flavors of things like rhubarb or cranberry, you’re going to love this fruit. Best of all, you don’t have to peel or blanch the fruit, which streamlines things. Read more

Pie Friday: Tomato Pie

This one's a mini pie!

And now for a savory pie. The tomatoes were ripening so quickly that after making sauce and jam and roasted tomatoes, we froze a whole bunch and then looked around for other ways to use them.

This recipe is a favorite, as well as its source – the late, great writer, Laurie Colwin. She was a gifted novelist but is mostly remembered for her two collections of cooking essays, Home Cooking and More Home Cooking. Her fans are legion, and I count myself among them. Colwin’s recipes are homey and humorous, with a simplicity that goes right to the heart of what home cooking really means. Read more

Apple Tart No. 1

Hold the fork.

My Friday Pie post is late this week for…reasons. The end of the week suddenly began to get very busy, and busy times call for shortcuts. And by shortcuts, I do not mean commercial refrigerated pie crusts – scrolls of plastique that smell like vinegar and feet. Pre-rolled piecrusts shrink and are pretty tough. I’d rather forgo the crust altogether and just make a fruit crisp.

Luckily there are other options – such as making your own puff pastry or buying frozen brand (still not great, but better than the Doughboy’s stuff). Puff pastry in the freezer is a pantry essential. This week, I had homemade puff in the freezer, just a scant half pound left over from a French cooking class. Once thawed, it was a snap to roll and top with a couple of thinly-sliced Granny Smiths that lolling around in the fruit bowl.   Read more