Monday, May 28, 2007

farmers market: 05.19 & 5.26

Our CSA share starts in late June, so until then I've decided to go to the Green City Market for fresh produce. Last week I went around 9am and it was packed with people, kids and dogs and there were long lines around some stalls, especially the ones with baked goods. There is a crepe stand (!!) and a panini stand, in addition to people selling honey, milk, cheese and lots and lots of vegetables. Fruit hasn't come into season here yet, so there's lots of asparagus and rhubarb. Yes, rhubarb. And it's a vegetable.

I've never really had rhubarb - I tried a rhubarb and mixed berry pie once, but it tasted more berry than anything else. I had never cooked with it and always just passed it by when I saw it in the store. How things have changed! It all started when to celebrate my completion of the MCAT, Anthony and I went to Green Zebra. Possibly the best thing we had was rhubarb ginger ale - it blew me away. There was also rhubarb in one of my favorite dishes - a roasted beet panna cotta w/pecans and rhubarb. (There are pictures of what we ate here. I didn't post that, but this is what we had: Fresh Buratta Cheese, meyer lemon gelee, grilled onion relish; Roasted Beet Panna Cotta, pecans, rhubarb and puff pastry; Crisp Chickpea Pancake, pinenuts, basil and marinated black radish; Blue Cheese Beignets, whole roasted pear, bearnaise, port wine; Spiced Eggplant Dumplings, baby carrots, coconut, lemongrass; Prospera Farms Chicken Egg, smoked potato puree, parsley and country sourdough; Parmesan Gnocchi, ramps, english peas, morel mushrooms). I've been thinking about rhubarb ever since, so when I saw it at the market last week and again this week I snatched some up.

It seems like most rhubarb recipes are for pies or crumbles, so that was my first attempt. I chopped up some rhubarb, tossed in some frozen mixed berries, the rind of 1/2 an orange and about 1/2 cup of sugar, and heated it until soft. I poured it out into a pie dish and topped it with some crumble mixture (just flour, sugar and butter pulsed in a food processor) and baked it until brown on top. Delicious. I found myself ignoring the topping and eating the rhubarb, so I decided that this week I'd do something slightly different that focused more on the rhubarb itself - a simple rhubarb compote. The recipe for this is pretty similar to the crumble filling, and really versatile. I poured some over greek yogurt for dessert last night, and I am going to use the rest to make a rhubarb fool (by adapting this tried and true recipe).

Rhubarb Compote
8-9 large stalks of rhubarb (no leaves!), chopped
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup orange juice

1. place all the ingredients into a small or medium pot over medium heat
2. cook until the rhubarb is soft, stirring every few minutes

(That's it!)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

zucchini bread with dried blueberries and orange zest

There is a beautiful Ukrainian church near our house and its bells have been ringing since 10 am. It's 1:30 now and I've already gone out for brunch and read most of the NY Times. And I baked. How ready for a nap am I? Very.

I had one lonely zucchini in the fridge, left over from when I tried to make zucchini cookies earlier in the week and in an attempt at being clever I totally messed them up. I felt like I needed to somehow vindicate my zucchini baking skills and so I adapted yet another recipe from the King Arthur cookbook, with fantastic results. As soon as I took the loaf out of the oven our dog Jordan started to get hyper. She kept going into the kitchen, probably to figure out how she could get the bread off the counter and have a big snack. When I cut into it she just stared at me and began making funny faces and panting. She is still in the kitchen lying down next to the counter with the bread.

The original recipe for this calls for cranberries and 1 cup of unbleached bread flour. I had neither, so I subbed dried blueberries for the cranberries and whole wheat pastry flour for the bread flour. I also added the zest from half an orange, instead of lemon zest. The bread is really great - it is pretty hearty but not heavy, it smells fantastic and I bet would be amazing toasted.

Zucchini Bread with Blueberries and Orange
(adapted from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking)

2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teasoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup milk (I used vanilla almond milk)

1 medium zucchini, grated (makes a bit over 1.5 cups)
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup dried blueberries
zest from 1/2 an orange

1. Preheat oven to 350 and prepare a 9x5" loaf pan.
2. Mix together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Mix together the eggs, oil and milk in a medium bowl.
4. Pour the wet into the dry and mix, adding the zucchini, berries and walnuts once the batter begins to come together (just as a note - the batter was really thick, so you might have to add a tablespoon or two of extra milk if you still have a bunch of flour in the bottom of the bowl).
5. Fill the loaf pan (almost to the top) and bake for about 1 hr, until the top is golden brown and a tester comes out clean.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Pretty green pasta

So, I'm not so good at updating this thing. I've been cooking up a storm recently but not posting anything. I'm taking the easy way out this time - I am linking to a post for a recipe I recently made: straw and hay fettucine tangle. It's really easy to make and tastes great, but I agree that you need to add a bit more salt and lemon juice. From the same cookbook I tried to make the raspberry curd loaf but used lemon curd instead and added the optional fresh raspberries. It tasted amazing but was structurally unsound. I am blaming it on my oven since its temperature tends to vary. It makes cooking exciting. What else... I also made these chickpea veggie burgers, but found that they needed more seasoning than called for. Finally, if you have an ice cream maker, you should try to make some banana buttermilk ice cream. I used a scant 1/2 cup of maple syrup instead of the sugar. This is probably one of my favorite ice cream recipes and is incredibly easy.