RSS

Author Archives: Beth

CSA 2017: Week 1

Finally! Summer produce is here again! Last Tuesday (the 20th) was our first pick up for our CSA from Olden Organics. It was one of the highlights of my day, for sure. (Especially since we had to say goodbye to the tree in our yard last week. I was overly emotional about the whole thing, so it was nice to have some fresh veggies to cheer me up.) 

I wasn’t sure what to expect from our first week, since the weather has been all over the place this spring. (It was dry, then crazy hot, then really rainy – complete with hail – and now it’s much cooler than normal for late June, and it’s still raining almost every day.) Welcome to Wisconsin, where you can have all the seasons in one day.

CSA2017_Wk1

In spite of the crazy weather, things are off to a good start, at least in my opinion. We received:

  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 head of green romaine lettuce
  • 1 head of red romaine lettuce
  • 1 quart of strawberries
  • 1 bunch of garlic scapes
  • 1 bunch of kale tops
  • 1 celeriac
  • 1 pound of asparagus
  • 1 Thai basil plant

We didn’t have a lot of dinner leftovers last week, so both heads of lettuce wound up in our lunches. The lettuce in our garden is going strong too, so we will probably continue to take salads for lunch for the foreseeable future. It’s an easy way to get our greens in.

I made one batch of garlic scape pesto over the weekend, and I still have enough scapes in the fridge to make another batch. I used some of the pesto and half of the kale in a pasta dish for dinner Saturday night.

I’d like to tell you that I did something new and creative with the asparagus, but it’s so good roasted with some garlic that I couldn’t bring myself to make it any other way.

Some of the strawberries made their way into a pie, and some of them wound up on this pizza.

The basil is living happily in our garden (right next to the cucumber plants). I can’t wait to use it!

I’m on the fence about the zucchini. We love fritters, so it seems like that would be the perfect way to use the first zucchini of the season. However, I still have the Best Mexican Recipes cookbook, and there’s a soup recipe in there that calls for a zucchini. And with our unseasonably chilly weather, soup sounds pretty good right now!

I also don’t know what to do with the celeriac. Last fall, Smitten Kitchen came to my rescue with a gratin that uses both celeriac AND fennel, and, much to my surprise, we ended up loving it. The question is, do I love it enough to go buy fennel and sweet potatoes so I can make it? Good thing celeriac keeps well in the fridge so I can ponder that a little more.

I can’t wait to see what week 2 has in store for us!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 26, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: ,

Stepping Out of My Element

I’m pretty selective when it comes to recipe sources. I have my top tier sources (primarily Smitten Kitchen and America’s Test Kitchen / Cook’s Illustrated / Cook’s Country), and my line of solid back-ups (headlined by Elly Says Opa!, The Brewer and the Baker, Annie’s Eats and Farm Fresh Feasts), but, aside from a few other blogs and magazines, I generally don’t stray too far.

After all, a pretty Pinterest picture doesn’t mean the recipe will actually be successful. (Yes, I’m the only woman in the western hemisphere who hasn’t fallen down the Pinterest recipe rabbit hole, and I’m OK with that.) And even though I love spending time in the kitchen, I don’t want to waste my time there. If I’m cooking something, I want it to be worth the time and ingredients.

That’s why this recipe surprised me. Someone (my Grandma, maybe?) shared a link to it on Facebook, and since I was knee-deep in rhubarb at the time, I thought it was worth investigating.

These make a very soft, cakey cookie. They’re best in the first day or so, as the moisture causes the cookies to stick together in the container. The flavor is great, and they mixed up in no time – chopping the rhubarb took the most time! I found a science experiment growing in the sour cream tub when I opened it, so I subbed Greek yogurt for the sour cream with no ill effects.

I realized afterwards, though, that my cookie scoop is about twice the size of the scoop called for in the recipe. Which explains why I got about two dozen cookies when the recipe yield said 40. I liked the size of the cookies from my 2-tablespoon scoop, so I’ll probably keep making them that way. No one ever complained about a bigger cookie, right?

I’m not sure if the recipe would work with frozen rhubarb, unless it was really, really well-drained. So, I might just save these for spring baking. It never hurts to have another seasonal dessert. And maybe I’ll try recipes from new places more often!

RhubarbCookies

Rhubarb Cookies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups finely diced rhubarb

Preheat the oven to 350°  and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk the first four dry ingredients together in a small bowl and set them aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until they are light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until well-combined. Mix in the sour cream and vanilla until well-combined.

Add about one-half of the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and mix until just combined. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix until almost combined. Stir in the rhubarb and mix until the rhubarb is evenly distributed throughout the batter and no pockets of flour remain.

Use a cookie scoop to drop tablespoon-ish sized scoops of the batter on the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies 2″ apart.

Bake until the cookies start to brown along the edges and just a little on the top, about 10-12 minutes. Remove cookies from the oven and let cool on pan for a few minutes before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely.

From the Today Show

Click here for a printable version.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 23, 2017 in Cookies, Dessert

 

Tags: , , ,

S’mores Without The Campfire

Last month, we were supposed to kick off the summer with a camping trip with some friends. The weather, however, had other plans, and a weekend of cool, rainy weather put the kibosh on things. So much for lounging in the hammock and making pizzas and s’mores over the fire.

The canceled trip meant that all of our s’more supplies went back into the pantry, destined to wait for a sunny weekend. However, I couldn’t stop thinking about s’mores. Toasty, caramelized marshmallow. Sweet, melty chocolate. Crunchy graham crackers. I needed s’mores in my life! (Yes, I suppose we could have had a bonfire in the backyard. But that seemed too easy. Plus, it was raining, remember?) 

And that’s when it hit me: S’more ice cream sandwiches. Why hadn’t I thought of this earlier? Graham crackers would be the perfect vehicle to get toasted marshmallow ice cream to my mouth. But what about the chocolate? In a s’more, the chocolate melts through the marshmallow, and ideally, every bite contains some of each ingredient. That ruled out chocolate chips (no way to guarantee that you’ll get some in each bite) and Hershey bars (too crunchy). Milk chocolate ganache would be the perfect option. I could swirl it through the ice cream after churning it, so each bite would have the perfect amount of chocolate and marshmallow. Brilliant!

I turned to the internet for a marshmallow ice cream recipe, and after reading through a few, decided to use this one from Completely Delicious. I liked the fact that it was a custard-based ice cream, so it would hold up well between the graham crackers and not melt instantly. I used a 9″ x 13″ pan for the ice cream, which gave me 15 fairly thick sandwiches, so I think you could use a jelly roll pan if you wanted thinner sandwiches or a greater yield.

I ended up with a lot of extra ganache, so I’m halving the amount in the directions below. You could double it if you want lots of chocolate sauce (or if you want to eat extra ganache on extra graham crackers).

The ice cream is really rich. So rich, in fact, that I was a little concerned that the sandwiches would be over the top. And then I was afraid that I’d added too much ganache and overpowered the marshmallow flavor.

Thankfully, everything mellowed in the freezer, and the final result was just right. The sandwiches taste just like a s’more, and you don’t have to worry about campfire smoke getting in your eyes while you eat them. I guess I should be glad that we canceled that camping trip after all. 😉

SmoresIceCreamSandwich

S’mores Ice Cream Sandwiches

For the ice cream:
5 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups whole milk (I used half and half, since that’s what’s in my fridge.) 
1/3 cup sugar
pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
7 ounces of marshmallows (I used a combination of large and mini marshmallows. The original recipe says 9 jumbo “campfire” marshmallows.) 

For the ganache:
3 ounces milk chocolate chips
1 1/2 ounces heavy whipping cream

For assembly: 
Graham crackers, broken into squares (I used 15 large crackers.) 

To make the ice cream, combine the sugar, salt and whole milk in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the milk mixture begins to steam and is heated through, but do not boil it.

While the milk is heating, beat the egg yolks together in a glass measuring cup. Gradually pour the heated milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. When you’ve added about half to two-thirds of the warm milk to the egg yolks, pour the egg-milk mixture back into the saucepan, whisking constantly.

Cook the mixture over medium heat until it thickens and coats the back of a metal spoon, stirring often. Pour the cooked custard through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Stir in the cream and vanilla.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray the foil with cooking spray. Place the marshmallows on the prepared sheet. Put the sheet under the broiler and broil for a few minutes, keeping a close eye on them so they don’t burn. When the marshmallows are brown on top, remove the pan from the oven and stir the marshmallows around so the untoasted insides are exposed. Put the pan back under the broiler until the tops of the marshmallows are browned. Remove from the oven, stir one more time and place them under the broiler again.

When the top of the marshmallows are toasted, scrape them into the bowl with the ice cream mixture. Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture until it is smooth, and then chill the mixture in the refrigerator until it is completely cold.

Churn the ice cream in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

While the ice cream is churning, prepare the ganache. Place the chocolate chips in a small, heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips and let it sit for a few minutes, then whisk until smooth. Let cool to room temperature. (Ganache will thicken as it cools.) 

When the ice cream has finished churning, line a 9″ x 13″ pan with waxed paper.  Spread the about half of the churned ice cream in the pan, and then drizzle the ganache on the ice cream. Spread the rest of the ice cream over the ganache and use a butter knife to swirl the ganache through the ice cream. Place the pan in the freezer and freeze until solid, at least two hours.

When the ice cream has frozen completely, remove the pan from the freezer. Using your graham crackers as a template, cut the ice cream into squares that are slightly smaller than the crackers. Use a metal spatula to scoop the ice cream squares out of the pan and sandwich each square between two graham crackers. Place the sandwiches in the freezer and freeze until firm.

Ice cream from Completely Delicious; Ganache proportions from I am Baker

Click here for a printable version.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on June 13, 2017 in Ice Cream

 

Tags: , , ,

First Scapes! 

Happy garlic scape Monday, everyone! I just cut the first scapes from our garden. I love harvesting everything that we plant, but I get most excited about the early crops. 

Now I just need to decide what to do with these guys. Besides pesto, of course. That’s a given. 

The rest of our garden is coming along nicely. The tomato plants are blooming, and the peas are ready to start climbing the fence. Now if only the weeds would slow down a bit. 

 
4 Comments

Posted by on June 12, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Tags:

What We’re Eating: 6/5 – 6/9

I have to admit, I feel like a slacker with this week’s menu. Not cooking for two out of five nights? I’ve been feeling uninspired though, so if there’s ever a time to be lazy with the meal plan, I guess this is it. I am trying two recipes from “The Best Mexican Recipes,” so we’ll see how they turn out!

Monday 6/5 – Grilled salmon steaks with lime cilantro sauce, asparagus and roasted potatoes
Tuesday 6/6 – Chickpea cakes with chipotle lime cream and sliced cucumbers.
Wednesday 6/7 – Pizza! One of our favorite pizza places has a half-off deal going on this week, so we’re breaking up the week with takeout. Win-win.
Thursday 6/8 – Apricot chicken pasta and a vegetable. (This was one of Andy’s suggestions as he saw me browsing the internet this afternoon. He’s a smart guy, so I’m taking his advice.) 
Friday 6/9 – Dinner out! Friday is our 10th (!!!) anniversary, so we are going to celebrate and have someone else do the dishes. Location TBD, but Stone Arch and Carmella’s are current front-runners.
Saturday 6/10 – Bonus meal! I don’t know if we’ll be home Saturday, but if we are, I’d like to try a new recipe that America’s Test Kitchen shared on Facebook: Grilled lemon chicken with rosemary. I thought about putting it on the menu earlier in the week, but since it’s a whole chicken (and one that requires a brine), I think it’ll be better suited to the weekend. Maybe I’d even get around to making some bread to go with it.

We are a week or two away from our CSA starting again, and I cannot wait. I think that’s part of my inspiration problem. I don’t want to buy any produce at the store when I know that we are just days away from the real stuff. Lettuce with flavor! Fresh strawberries! I can taste it already… 🙂

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 4, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Tags:

Summer Reading

Look at what I just picked up from our library!

In line with my “try before you buy” philosophy, I reserved a copy of “The Best Mexican Recipes” from America’s Test Kitchen a few weeks ago. As with most of their cookbooks, there was a waiting list, and I finally got the email saying it was my turn. I’ll have it for four weeks (unless I luck out and get to renew it), so I need to come up with a must try list ASAP. Andy has already requested drunken beans, which appear to be the Mexican version of baked beans, so we will be trying that soon. If I’m organized enough to get some pictures, I will be sharing them here!

In other food-related reading, I also picked up “Never Out of Season” by Rob Dunn. The tagline on the cover says, “How having the food we want when we want it threatens our food supply and our future.” It sounded interesting and timely to me, as our CSA should be starting up soon, and that’s all about seasonal eating! 

Speaking of seasonal eating, our garden is all planted (minus the dill seed, which will wind up in the flower bed since we ran out of room in the garden again), and I have been harvesting rhubarb for a couple of weeks. Yay for seasonal desserts! I  planted two new-to-me types of basil this year, lemon and Thai, along with the regular Italian basil. I cannot wait for the plants to grow a little more so I can start picking leaves. Our garlic is going strong, and I am ready for scapes to appear. Edible plants are the best. 🙂 Happy almost-June, everyone!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 31, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , ,

Easy Dessert

Some desserts have a reputation for being difficult to make. No one bats an eye if you show up with a plate of chocolate chip cookies, but if you bring cheesecake to the office, people are wowed.

“I could never make cheesecake,” they say. “It’s so hard!”

I’m here to bust that myth. Cheesecake is waaaay easier than you may think. Cream the cream cheese with some sugar, beat in a few eggs and pour it over a graham cracker crust. Bake for an hour or so, and let it cool. So much less involved than scooping individual individual cookies onto tray after tray.

And that’s why I whipped up a pan of these Oreo cheesecake bars for dessert with friends a few weeks ago. They’re easy to put together, and cheesecake is always a hit with everyone in our social circle. Plus, I almost always have cream cheese in the fridge.

The recipe calls for Oreos, but I can confirm that they work just as well with the off-brand / Aldi version of everyone’s favorite sandwich cookie. And since the off-brand package apparently has fewer cookies, I can also confirm that the filling is just as good with 10 Oreos instead of 12.

The four of us managed to not eat the entire pan that night, so I told Andy to leave the leftovers alone until I could photograph them. And he did, mostly. I mean, there are still three squares on that plate. 🙂

OreoCheesecakeSquares

Oreo Cheesecake Squares 

For the crust: 
23 Oreo cookies, crushed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling: 
12 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons sour cream, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
12 Oreo cookies, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 325° and line a 8″ x 8″ baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on each end of the pan to use as a sling.

In a medium bowl, combine the cookie crumbs and the melted butter. Stir until the mixture is evenly combined. Spread the cookie crumbs in the bottom of the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and maintain the oven temperature.

To make the filling, beat the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer until it is light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Gradually add the sugar to the cream cheese and beat until well-combined. Mix in the sour cream, vanilla and salt. Beat in the egg and egg yolk until combined, scraping down the bowl as needed.

Use a rubber spatula to fold in the chopped Oreo cookies. Spread the batter in the prepared pan and smooth the top with the spatula. Bake until the cheesecake is set around the edges but slightly jiggly in the center, about 40 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Cover the pan and refrigerate until well-chilled, at least three hours. (I left mine in the fridge overnight.) 

To cut the bars, use the foil as a sling and remove them from the pan. Place the bars on a cutting board and remove the foil. Use a large chef’s knife to slice the bars into equal-sized squares. Refrigerate cut bars until serving.

From Annie’s Eats, who adapted it from The Recipe Girl, originally from You Made That Dessert? by Beth Lipton

Click here for a printable version.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on May 7, 2017 in Cheesecake, Dessert

 

Tags: , , ,