Sept 9 2011 CSA

September 12, 2011

This Friday, I headed to the farm to see what goodies were being offered…I knew there’d be tomatoes. Heirlooms, plum, yellow, orange, and green…12 tomatoes in all. A few peppers, jalapenos (scored 2 more from the extra bin!). Corn that is questionable, per the sign reading “Your lucky day – free worm with every ear” and an eggplant. Edamame was  available to pick your own. A small bunch of beets rounded out the basket.
So many tomatoes were headed to a roasted tomato sauce – lot’s of onion, garlic and fresh herbs – I used basil, some thyme and rosemary from my herb garden. Olive oil and a long roast in a 450F oven.

Ready for the oven

Finished sauce

Roasted tomatoes and onions

TVP meatballs and some pasta made great use of this delicious sauce. A classic, turned vegetarian and filling!
Eggplant, what to do with you. My southwestern cookbook offered a roasted eggplant and tomato soup that sounded divine. A little cayenne for heat, bell peppers, onions, more tomatoes and roasted eggplant slices pureed into smooth goodness. It was creamy, without milk, mild, yet full of flavor.  A keeper for sure.
The corn is going into a corn pudding to accompany the fish we shall pick up Tuesday. Think very soft cornbread, served with a spoon….the edamame made me break into my grain drawer, and I came up with Triticale – a cross between wheat and barley, full of protein and good carbs. Mixed with the edamame, balsamic, shallot, olive oil, and feta – a delicious side for lunchtime. Nutty, earthy and tangy with the vinegar.
Beets – I sadly did not finish the roasted beets with orange and sour cream from last week – just too many good choices in the fridge, and not enough meals to finish eating them – so no roasted beets this week.  I decided to treat our house to a peach and beet crumble. Now this is an experiment in getting my husband to eat beets (he is NOT a fan). We had picked up some utility peaches (not pretty, but still tasty) from Ward’s Berry Farm and I decided the red beet color would be wonderful in the peaches, with an oatmeal crumble.
Warm spices of mace, ginger, and cinnamon blended with shredded beets, sliced peaches, brown sugar and a little tapioca resulted in a wonderful cobbler. It had a slight beet flavor – sort of a “Hmmm what’s that taste”, but the sweetness of the peaches and crumble quickly took center stage. Unfortunately, my husband figured it out – are there beets in here? he asked puzzled. I can’t lie…..

Peaches and beets ready to bake

Finished Crisp

The peppers,  jalapenos, carrots, canned tomatoes, tomatillos, and spices mixed with black eyed peas for a very spicy and colorful chili. Did I mention my husband is a HUGE fan of chili? SO every week, he gets a different variety of chili…at least for a while. Good way to use up and enjoy the veggies, and the heat was hot enough to suit even his palate.

Another good week of eating, fresh from the farm. I hear there is cauliflower and broccoli coming soon….how do you prepare those?  Bon appetit!

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Tart or torte?

March 7, 2011

It is time for dessert…..you are in a fancy restaurant, trying to appear worldly to your dinner mate, and you are asked to choose from a lemon tart and a chocolate torte. Which do you order?

If you like pie, you order the tart, which is a small pastry shell, usually very low sided, baked in a spring form pan, and typically filled with a custard type filling topped with fruit, or a chewy nut filling and/or whipped cream. Fruit tarts are often glazed with jam, to make it shiny and really pretty. Lemon tart is common with a lemon curd style filling. All are single crust, low profile. Pies are taller, and typically have two crusts, in case you were wondering…..

Tarts can also be savory, as in a tomato and cheese tart….but this is a conversation about dessert today.

A torte is a cake made primarily with eggs, sugar, and ground nuts instead of flour, served in one layer, unfrosted, and can also be a savory dish (see above). Chocolate torte can be a very thin multilayer loaf shaped cake, still nut based, usually filled with very rich, decadent flavored. It is baked in a special pan – think very tall, thinner loaf pan- and sliced into many layers. Then each layer is filled with a cream, curd or jam type of filling. These cakes are not frosted, but may be dusted with powder sugar or cocoa. But you are saying – hey, what about a Linzer Torte? That yummy jammed filled cookie? How does that fit in? Well it is a nut based dough, cut into a shape and then filled….so a variation on the cake version of a nut based dough.

Confused yet? Well think back to high school logic – Tart is to Torte as Pie is to cake. Better? Heck whichever you choose, eat dessert first. Dinner is so much easier…..

We’re talking cookies here…after all it is Christmas week. Gingerbread is one of my favorite cookies this time of year and when I saw that there was a throwdown for gingerbread, I was in.

Bobby Flay went up against Johanna Rosson for this throwdown. We all know baking is not Bobby’s strength, but his ingredients intrigued me. Both recipes have the standard flour, cinnamon and ginger, butter eggs and brown sugar. Bobby added dry mustard and white pepper to his dough for added depth of flavor. Johanna had the molasses I have come to trust for really good gingerbread.

Both doughs were pretty basic – blend butter and sugar, add eggs, then dry ingredients. Right off the top, I noticed Bobby’s dough was a little dry. He asked for 2 Tablespoons of milk – I ended up adding 4 total to get a dough, not crumb mixture. Both doughs were refrigerated overnight – only because I did not have time to bake the same day, plus really cold dough usually rolls out better. Johanna’s dough was very firm, but rolled out nicely. Bobby’s dough was rock hard, difficult to roll out and cracked a lot – i.e. still a little dry. Both were rolled to 1/4″ (approx), cut out and baked – Bobby’s at 325 for 12 mins, Johanna’s at 350 for 13 mins.
Upon tasting them, Bobby’s had a nice mild flavor – a little hint of heat at the end, due to the white pepper but lacked in the ginger taste. The texture was more wafery – feeling the layers in my mouth, very crisp and broke with some crumb. Johanna’s were crisp as well, but solid. Johanna’s cookies had a little more ginger taste to them. On day two, I rolled out the second batch, this time thicker about 3/8″ thick. Softer texture and slightly longer cooking time (15-20 mins) indeed and better flavors for both. thicker is better for these cookies.
So roll roll as fast as you can, will it be Bobby or Johanna’s gingerbread men? I still treasure my mom’s recipe that I grew up with, but these were interesting rivals. As for the throwdown – we leaned towards Johanna’s in this house for overall texture, taste and ease of rolling.
Merry Christmas all.
http://www.foodnetwork.com/throwdown-with-bobby-flay/gingerbread/index.html