Sunday, June 29, 2008

CSA Flowers

This year I signed up for the flower share in my CSA. For two weeks, they have been gorgeous.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Clams and Mussels with Pasta (and Asparagus!)

Every recipe lately starts with chopping up some asparagus. This one is no exception. I got a bag of mussels and clams at the greenmarket Saturday and figured I had better get them cooked up, since I had no idea how they keep. I asked the fish guy for instructions and he said, "a spoon of garlic, some wine or beer, a stick of butter and once they open up, add the pasta."

Here are my shellfish in the pan ready for steaming. I decided I would use wine (naturally), probably a little more than a half cup. Perhaps a cup (which was too much). I started with 5 cloves of garlic, minced and frying in a little olive oil. I covered them up and they steamed open in no time.

Since this was just for me, I figured I should go ahead and do the work of shucking before the dish was finished. I am still not certain about storing leftover mussels in the shell. Not only is the presentation less impressive, the true quantity of meat is less impressive.

I boiled up the whole wheat fettuccine, also from the farmers' market (same place as the ravioli, previous). At the end, I added the asparagus for a minute or two.

I returned the clam sauce (wine) to the pan and added the juice and zest of a lemon and a little mustard, going for a version of the lemon vinaigrette that I liked earlier in the week. It was good, perhaps a little too much lemon and wasn't reducing any too quickly. I added the noodles and asparagus, but then did not want to wait a year for it to thicken and turn my asparagus to mush. I whisked some flour into a couple of drops of wine and stirred it in. Voila!

***Hideous picture removed*** It wasn't _that_ ugly.

Less wine, less lemon, less gritty pasta. Maybe I would do it again. Those scallops are hard to beat, though.

Update: I conferred with my favorite New Englander and his dad and learned that mussels and clams have different cooking times, so I hurt my mussels by cooking them together. I need to give the clams at least a minute or two head start. Also, I should have soaked the shellfish in some fresh water to clean them, not just left them in the bottom of my fridge in a plastic bag. I may try a new recipe for clams. Maybe.

Verdict: B
Credits: My local fishmonger.
Leftovers? Yes, and they were good cold on this blistering hot day.

Notes: I used the juice of a whole lemon, but half would be plenty. Also, if I would have waited a little longer, the noodles would have soaked up some sauce and I wouldn't have needed to thicken it. Impatience.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Scallops in Miso with Asparagus

I use miso glaze constantly on salmon, so it makes sense to try it with scallops. This Eating Well recipe has essentially the same ingredients for miso glaze as my favorite (Eating Well) salmon treatment: miso, mirin, garlic, ginger, rice wine. I added a little sesame oil and tamari for good measure.

Marinate for FIVE minutes or you will ruin the scallops! Scallops cook 2-3 minutes per side and come out of the pan. Put the rest of the sauce in the pan and reduce over the heat for a few minutes.

I didn't want soba to go with my scallops; I wanted asparagus! So I trimmed and sliced a bunch of asparagus and cooked it for about 2 minutes in boiling water and then drained it over some pea shoots (to wilt them).

Add this to that and it should be all done. The reality is that, unlike the noodles that absorb sauce, the veggies release water into the sauce and I was trying to reduce the sauce again. Then I waited for my neighbor to come over for lunch and my al dente asparagus got a little soggy. Tasty enough! I can try this again. Unfortunately, I need to wait another week for the greenmarket to bring me scallops and asparagus.

Verdict: B+
Credits: Miso-glazed scallops with Soba, Eating Well
Leftovers? Nope, shared with the professor.

Notes: Next time, reduce the mirin by half and the vinegar to allow for the liquid introduced by the veggies. Also drain the veggies well.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Asparagus Pasta Salad

My daily asparagus dose was inspired by the sugar snap peas at Fairway and the fresh ricotta ravioli at the farmers market. The cooking technique was inspired (again) at 101 cookbooks.

I made a lemon garlic vinaigrette to dress it.

Whisk together (with a fork)
1 large lemon, juice and zest
1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
1 T. dijon mustard
1 T. white wine vinegar
salt and pepper

Drizzle in while whisking, 2 T. olive oil (or a little more)

Add 2 (or 4) T. chopped fresh thyme

To a boiling pot of water add 6 oz fresh ravioli and cook for 3 minutes or so. When a couple of them float up, add 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and sliced and 3/4 lb. sugar snap peas, cut into 1/2 slices. Cook for 1 - 2 minutes.

Drain and rinse with a little cold water (the stuff doesn't have to get cold, unless you want it to).

Stir together with the dressing, 1/4 C. shredded parmesan and a handful of pine nuts.


I did the dressing in the bottom of the salad bowl and all the boiled stuff in one pot, so it's not a bad clean up.

Verdict: A
Credits: 101 Cookbooks, Ravioli Pasta Salad
Leftovers? Delicious, but hard to save.

Notes: I think I am going to do this again this week as a vegetable side, no pasta for our fellowship group.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Asparagus and Shitake Barley Risotto

I make a mean risotto, but also like the idea of using more whole grains and less refined carbs, so I tried the technique for barley risotto at 101 Cookbooks. Heidi's recipe is for lemons and greens, but risotto is risotto and I can use asparagus and shitake instead.

barley cooking

2 bunches of asparagus
1/2 lb. shitake mushrooms
2 small - medium onions
3 cloves garlic

2 C. pearled barley

2 C. white wine
4 C. chicken stock
another 1 - 2 cups of water
1/2 - 1 C. parmesan
salt and pepper

The technique is the same as for risotto with arborio rice, except the barley absorbs a lot more liquid and doesn't give up it's starch to make it so creamy. I tried to use additional cheese for creaminess, but the domestic parm I had is not very flavorful. I got an okay texture, but it's better to use good cheese.

All in all, a bland effort. Better to use the rice and the good parmesan. Maybe I would try this again with good cheese and some dried mushrooms to try and make it a little heartier.

It looks like this plated, in theory. In reality, I used a considerable portion of hot-sauce to give it some flavor.

Verdict: C
Credits: 101 Cookbooks Meyer Lemon Risotto
Leftovers? Yes, keeps well but gets blander.

Notes: Would be vegetarian with vegetable stock or water instead of chicken stock.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

End of the Brussels Sprouts

Even though spring is just now appearing, sources I trust (okay fine, they have a commercial interest) tell me that the Brussels sprouts season is almost over. Winter vegetable. These babies were delish, though.

I didn't eat them growing up. so I suppose my mother doesn't like them. Weirdly, with no evidence, I decided I didn't like them either. Earlier last year I worked up the willingness to try them for the first time. What a mistake I've been making!

The only way I have prepared them is sauteed with garlic, and topped with salt, cracked black pepper, and Parmesan or Romano. The first time I made them, I cut an X into the base of the sprouts before cooking and then boiled briefly, and it was good but too much work. Now I just cut them in half and saute raw. Unfortunately, I don't remember the original source for the X-cut recommendation.

Tonight I used butter and olive oil to saute and Romano to top. Here they are in the pan.

And ready to eat.

Verdict: A+
Credits: I can't remember where I found my advice, but good advice is easy to find on the web.
Leftovers? Never. Too great to not finish.

Notes: 101 cookbooks has a great recipe that is almost exactly what I do. It just isn't my source, because I tried them a couple times before this recipe was posted.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Crapshoot Chowder

A recipe for a Real Simple soup popped up while I was shopping -- since I had some luck with the RS recipes, I checked it out. Scallop chowder sounds delicious, but scallops were $16/lb and they wanted 1.5 lbs in their recipe. Not happening.

I ordered a half pound of large sea scallops (about 6 or 7) and a pound of the "fish cubes for stew." The mix of fish is whatever is the scrap of the day -- usually salmon, tuna, and swordfish, according to the description. A bit of a crapshoot.

What came was about 3/4 salmon and a little tuna. Which is fine.

Making the soup:

Bacon? Check.
Scallops? Check.
Onions? Check.
Potatoes? Check
Fish cubes? Check.

Here's the orignal recipe. While I was frying the bacon, I checked for salmon chowder recipes, since there was so much salmon in my fish cubes. This Epicurious recipe for Salmon Chowder seemed promising too.

I fried six slices of bacon and removed the bacon. Then cooked the scallops in the bacon fat, a couple of minutes a side, and removed them. Then the 4 red potatoes (more like a pound than half a pound) and three really small (organic small) onions sliced long-ways. I should have done just the onions and then deglazed with wine. After the onions were soft, then I deglazed with wine -- working around the potatoes.

Then a pint of chicken stock. After some simmering, a half cup of cream. Salt and pepper. I wasn't trying to double the recipe, but the stock wasn't enough for all the potatoes and the upcoming fish, so I added a cup and half of milk. Also some fresh thyme.

Bring to a simmer for a while, then add the fish. A little later, add the corn and return the scallops to the pot. More salt and pepper.

Let everything get hot. The salmon chowder recipe had lemon juice, which sounded good, so I squeezed a lemon into the pot.

Garnish with parsley and crumbled bacon.

Yum. Everything contributes a flavor. The salmon is great. Tuna very good. Scallops are so buttery and sweet, it seems impossible. Plus, bacon fat, potatoes, cream.

Very thin broth, but will probably thicken with the starch from the potatoes and corn. Thin is good, a little wet slurp with each different kind of bite. The scallops are so rich I wouldn't want it to be much heavier.

Verdict: A-
Credits: Scallop and Corn Chowder, Real Simple Magazine
Salmon Chowder recipe at
Leftovers? Oh yes.

Notes: If FreshDirect challenges you for a zip code, use 10023. I am sure they deliver everywhere in that code. In mine, you'd be further challenged because I live in such a remote neighborhood (puh-leeze).