Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bachelor Cooking 201: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

In true bachelor cooking fashion I drug myself out of the shop at about 7pm last night and had dinner on the table at about 7:45. I used one pot and a colander, or rather, Heidi made pasta and prepped the peas with Natty while I took a quick shower. I wrapped the sno-peas in foil with a few slices of butter and planked the zucchini about 1/4 inch thick. I also trimmed and cut the roots from a bunch of green onions and wrapped them in foil with butter as well.
I warmed the grill at the same time that I placed the zucchini in a large stainless bowl, sprinkled it with salt and pepper and drenched it in olive oil. Then I tossed the zucchini. Everything went on the grill. First the peas and green onions on high. They cooked as I carefully arranged the zucchini perpendicular to the grate on high heat as well. When the zuccs were done on one side as indicated by their softening and a noticeable grill mark, I flipped them carefully and reorganized them to accommodate a slab of local beef. Still cooking with high heat, I seared the beef on both sides flipped the peas and onions and turned the zuccs to low. When the zucchini was done I checked the onions and peas and moved everything around while the meat finished.
Dinner is served... One pot, one colander and some foil. Cook time under an hour. Hachacha.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Bachelor Recipes Vol 1 #4

July 19, 2011

What’s in the Box:

Cauliflower
Bunched Beets

Sweet onion
Green Leaf lettuce

Golden Chard
Dandelion

Apple mint
Cherries

Crocosmia

Family shares also include:

Radishes
Mizuna
Basil


You are probably not going to believe this...

Whole Baked Cauliflower:

Soak the head of cauliflower for 15 minutes or so in a sink of salt water. Warm water will dissolve the salt. The reason you do this is to get any little crawly thing that may be hiding in there to release its hold. We farm organically and though we do sometimes apply organic insect control materials we do not do so routinely and that means that there may be another living creature that beat you to the cauliflower. A salt water bath is an easy way to make sure they are gone before you cook.

Preheat oven to about 400.

After a relaxing salt water soak, trim the cauliflower and remove the center of the stem. That is to say, core the cauliflower carefully with a paring knife by turning it upside down and removing a cone shaped wedge from the center.

Slather the entire head with butter..use your hands to get butter in all the nooks and crannies. Powder with a good quality bread crumb (easy to make your own by cubing and baking any day old bread you might have and baking at 300 until crisp then grinding in a blender). Place cauli in a greased (more butter) baking dish and cover loosely with foil. Place in oven. It will take an hour or more to cook. At about 40 minutes remove the foil so the head will brown. Keep an eye on this thing, you do not want it to get away from you. You may have to reduce the heat if it is browning way faster than it is softening. It is done when you can easily pierce it with a fork. This is an easy recipe to make in the toaster oven if it will accommodate the cauliflower. Makes a real splash if served whole and sliced at the table.


It's that simple.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bachelor Recipes Vol.1 #3


Chioggia Beets
Green onions
Bibb or Green Leaf

Lettuce
Bok choy

Dill
Garlic flowers
Arugula

Lily bouquet

Family shares also include:

Red Oak Leaf lettuce
Spinach
Green kohlrabi

New this week: green onions and Chiogga beets, there are also kohlrabi in the family shares.

The Chiogga beets are an Italian heirloom and if you slice them into rounds, they have a bull's eye pattern...very pretty; too pretty to overlook. There is really no quick way to prep beets, but I can try to make them easier and more approachable. Put a few inches of water in a double boiler, or in a pot with a steamer rack. Trim the greens to with in an inch of the beet, but no closer, I like to leave a bit more. KEEP THE GREENS. Heat the water to a boil and place the beets on the rack or in the steamer of the double boiler. They take a while...at least twenty minutes, probably more. They are done when they can be easily pierced with a fork. In the mean time wash the greens and trim off the stems. After about ten minutes of the beets cooking on a low simmer, heat a heavy pan to medium heat, add a little butter, and toss the dripping wet beet greens in. Sautee them unti they are just tender. By then the beets should be done. Remove them and dunk them immediately into a sink of cold water. The skin will slip right off, then they can be transferred to a cutting board and carefully sliced to show off the bullseye. Serve them on a bed of the sauteed greens and a drizzle of Balsamic vinegar. A smattering of crumbled Feta is a really nice touch.

If you have never grilled green onions you simply must. Just trim the tops and toss the onions in a bowl until they are drenched with olive oil and a shake of salt and pepper. Grill them indirectly over low heat until tender or wrap them in foil and place them at the back of the barbecue until they are limp and smell good.

The kohlrabi falls into the salted crisp things category from my earlier post, or you can use them in place of water chestnuts. I have tried every conceivable way to eat these and far prefer them raw, sliced thin, and lightly salted.



Thursday, July 7, 2011

Bachelor Recipes Vol 1 #2

What’s in the Box:

Shunkyo radishes

Spinach

Pom Pom lettuce

Oregano

Garlic flowers (scapes)

Strawberries

Cherries

Lily stem

Family shares also include:

Curly kale

Bok choy

No problem...

If you have not done so already, make the QnE (quick and easy) dressing described in the previous recipes. Stuff a stem of Oregano in the bottle and hang the rest by a thread or any other string (or twistie or whatever you find in a draw or on the floor) above the sink in the kitchen. After about a week the bunch will be dried and can be crumbled into a jar or just used a stem at at a time to flavor other recipes or add to future dressings. The spinach in this week's delivery is not your granma's spinach. When delivered fresh you may be pleasantly surprised by just how good spinach really is. You may rinse and tear it as you did the lettuce from last week, but I suggest: heating a large cast skillet to medium high with some olive oil in the bottom. Dunk the spinach in a sink full of cold water. As you remove the spinach from the sink, just tear the leaves from the stems and shake the water off. Place them immediately in the hot pan, stir quickly, and cover. Sautee until just tender and salt lightly. The garlic scapes are a bit weird but they are a great sauteed garnish and an excellent salad topper. The trick to these is to get them tender without burning them. Discard most of the stem and concentrate on the flower bud and the inch or two of the stem directly below it. You can either sautee them (do this first and then use the same pan for the spinach), or wrap them in foil and make them on the barbecue. To get them soft without burning you need low heat for a long time; you will do better if you pay attention to them, stirring and flipping while you gorge yourself on cherries and draft a plausible explanation as to why there are no cherries left when someone else reads the farm notes.

Here is an oldie for the other greens: Make about a cup of rice/two people. Rinse the kale and grab a decent handful. Holding the kale at the leaves with all the stems facing the same direction, slice the leaves perpendicular to the stem as thin as possible. Do the same with the Bok Choy. Heat a woc or large cast pan with olive oil and a splash of sesame oil. Place the greens in the hot woc or large pan and sautee until tender. Move the tender greens to the outside edge and drop two or three eggs in the middle. Break the yokes and fry the eggs until hard. Slice the fried eggs thin with a dull knife while still in the woc and toss with the greens. Add the rice and toss the whole thing together. Serve with tamari and a smattering of sesame seeds. Garnish with sauteed garlic scapes. This is a great breakfast recipe.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Bachelor Recipes vol1 #1

6/29/11

In a moment of weakness this winter I claimed that I would get more active in terms of the farm notes. Years ago I used to write them, usually at the end of a twelve hour day cutting vegetables and capped at the end by bunching flowers. I remember having to reread them in the morning before making copies at the local grocery store and heading out for the deliveries. I am always reminded of the chapter from “The Great Shark Hunt”, in which Hunter S. Thompson R.I.P reviews his notes and recorded journal entries only to find the drug addled ranting of a lunatic;let’s just say that some of those early farm notes required some last minute editing.

My intention in getting involved in this again is to provide some very simple recipes. I refer to them as bachelor recipes because most of them have their origin in a time when I lived alone in a small house about seven miles South of Rochester. Dinner was often from the garden and prepared and eaten using only the most rudimentary tools. The object was to minimize the impact on the kitchen; if possible using only one pan that had to be hand washed and eating out of said pan leaning over the sink… ah, the good old days. At any rate, many of these early recipes (if you can call them that) have been tried and true; they are simple, they taste great, they use vegetables fresh from the farm in a way that does not require a French dictionary, and above all they are designed for the person without a surplus of time and energy.

Let’s start with a short shopping list that will make everything else easier:

Olive oil: one gallon of mediocre oil for cooking and one gallon of excellent quality oil for dressings

Sesame oil

Salt: a healthy quantity of sea salt and a container of a nice finishing salt (consider a fleur de sol)

Pepper corns

Grinders for both the salt and pepper

Balsamic vinegar: You do not have to break the bank on this

Dried mustard

Garlic Powder

Hazel nuts

Good quality Parmesan and/or Asiago

A heavy cast skillet or two #10-#4

A giant stainless bowl and a smaller stainless bowl

Heavy duty aluminum foil

Salad spinner

A wine bottle or two

A few spill stop liquor spouts (those metal things they put in the top of the bottle in bars)

OK, that’s a good start. Most of the above is to get ready for the abundance of early greens; salads and saut├ęs. The pourers and wine bottles are for the cooking oil and dressing. A wine bottle with a pour spout, filled with olive oil, sitting next to the stove-top is a must have. The fresh ground salt and pepper make a huge difference and are an economical way to fancify everything you cook. There is no substitute for a good quality hard cheese. A few heavy cast pans are all you really need in a kitchen, that and a decent Dutch oven (more later). The beauty of cast is that, if cared for properly, they require minimal washing and no scrubbing unless you make a mistake.

Sooooo… based on this week’s CSA contents:

Salad: prep all the lettuce and other salad greens at the same time. Wash out the sink and fill it with cold water. Cut the butts off the heads of lettuce (be aggressive, there’s lots) toss the leaves into the water and pull them out by the small handful, breaking them into manageable pieces and discarding any damaged leaves as you go and placing them in the strainer of the salad spinner. When the strainer is full, spin the lettuce dry and dump it into a giant stainless bowl. Repeat the process until all the lettuce is washed and dry. Do the same with any arugula or mizuna you might add to salad. Toss together in the giant bowl and place any salad you will not eat immediately into a plastic bag and put it in the fridge.

QnE Dressing: Take one of your empty wine bottles, fill it 2/3 full of best quality olive oil, add some salt, some pepper, some dry mustard, and some garlic powder.* You can also add a few crushed dried herbs like oregano or basil. You can even just stuff a whole stem of fresh herbs into the bottle, but remember you are going to have to get it back out eventually. Fill remainder with Balsamic vinegar and shake.

*There are only three measurements in bachelor cooking: some, lots, and all.

Traditionally in my family the salad was tossed with the dressing and served after the meal with a meager grating of good quality hard cheese.

Salted crispy sharp things: Wash, top, and trim roots from radishes. Wash peel and top the kohlrabi. Slice radishes just as thin as you safely can, do the same with the kohlrabi. Place them in the smaller stainless bowl or even better in the bowl you had the salad in (less washing). Salt them with the finishing salt, toss them around a bit. Serve as is.

As for the Broccoli or Rapini or cauli or tatsoi or joi choi or any other wacky Asian vegetable or brassica; wash and cut into manageable pieces, let them fall into whichever stainless bowl is already oily, and drizzle with olive oil, add some sesame oil and toss. Dump the oily vegetables onto a piece of aluminum foil and wrap them tightly taking care not to leave any gaps. You can either heat these at 350-400 in a toaster oven or better, place them on the grill. They are ready when you can begin to smell them, or when they feel light when you pick them up with tongs.

The Chard can be prepared as above, or rinsed and torn and then tossed into a medium-hot cast pan with a bit of olive oil. I like to brown a few chopped hazel nuts in the pan first and then toss the chard with these. Browning hazel nuts is easy, just don’t burn them. Chop them course and add them to a medium hot pan with just a bit of oil in the bottom. Stir them until golden brown.

The strawberries should be rinsed and eaten as you prep; after all you are cooking aren’t you. You deserve them. If you can wait you can slice them thin and serve them over a scoop of ice cream for dessert.

As for the mint… We’re busy, too busy to sit around drinking tea; we do, however, have time to rinse the bunch and stuff it into a jar of water with a bit of brown sugar, put it in the sun and wait. You will be rewarded with a mild mint tea that can be served over ice.