Archive for May, 2011

May 31, 2011

Chive Flower Vinegar

This lovely vinegar was suggested to us by the kind potted herb lady at the farmers’ market.  It’s easy to make and it really adds something to your salads.  And also, it looks wonderful.

So, all you need is:

A bottle of white wine vinegar, a mason jar with a well-sealing lid (not the old fashioned kind that latch, unless you’ve got the rubber gasket as well), and a handful of chives with flowers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Wash the mason jar really really well in hot soapy water.

2. Put the clean mason jar into a pot of boiling water so that it is completely covered in water and boil for 5 minutes.  Carfully use tongs to pull it out and set it to dry completely on a clean cloth.  You want there to be no water on the inside because it can cloud the vinegar.  But you also don’t want to dry it with a cloth because you could introduce bacteria.

3. When the jar is dry, cut off all of the chive flowers and snip up some of the stems and put them all in the jar.

Chive flowers in vinegar on the first day; the vinegar is a yellow/white color at first.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Pour white wine vinegar until the jar is full to about 2 cups worth.  Cap it tightly and let it sit on your counter, or in a warm place, for 2 weeks.

Pink chive flower vinegar

May 30, 2011

Springtime white bean dip

Earlier this evening, with a plan for portobello mushroom paninis on the horizon, the question feared by many vegetarians came up: what about protein?  (More thoughts on protein in veggie diets after the recipe.)  In addition to the usual answer of cheese, I whipped up a quick batch of white bean dip to spread on the sandwiches.  Here’s a versatile recipe based on Mark Bittman’s, along with my seasonal variations.  The chive flower vinegar and garlic stock might be idiosyncratic to our kitchen but substitute freely – this is a forgiving and delicious recipe no matter how you edit it.

Springtime White Bean Dip

Ingredients:
1 can white cannelini beans
3 or 4 stalks green garlic (or 2-3 cloves cured garlic) – coarsely chopped
Handful of chives or spring onions (maybe 8 chives or 3 spring onions, depending on size & strength you like) – coarsely chopped
A few sprigs of parsley, coarsely chopped
A tablespoon or two of olive oil (less for thicker dip & vice-versa)
2 teaspoons chive flower vinegar, to taste (An herb vendor at farmers’ mkt suggested this mini-project to us, but you can view directions here.)
—Feel free to substitute white wine vinegar or maybe plain vinegar with a squeeze of lemon juice.
A few tablespoons of garlic broth (veggie stock made from garlic greens, aka, the top part of a garlic plant that you don’t eat)
—Regular veggie or another kind of broth would be fine.  Ideally you want one with a (complimentary) flavor of its own.
Salt and pepper
Paprika

Directions:
1. Put the chives, green garlic, parsley, 1/2 of the can of beans, and olive oil into the food processor.  Blend until mostly smooth, probably just 5-10 seconds.

2. Add the 2nd half of the beans along with the chive vinegar and garlic broth.  Blend until the new beans are smooth.

3. Add a generous amount of salt, pepper, and paprika.  Blend for a few more seconds and taste.  Adjust seasoning, including the oil to vinegar ratio if needed.

4. Use as sandwich spread, dip for veggies or crackers, etc.

Finally, some thoughts on protein and vegetarian diets.  When I became a vegetarian at age 13, the first question anyone asked upon hearing about it was “Where will you get protein?”  My stock surly-teenager response was a self-righteous (and kinda defensive) critique of the “typical (meat-based) American diet” and how “most people get too much protein anyway”.  Yet as I ventured out beyond veggie burger dinners every night, I occasionally found myself hungry after what seemed like adequately sized meals.  I was eating reasonably healthy food and meeting most nutritional requirements, but I still wasn’t full.  This was particularly the case when working full-time on farms and needing even more energy than during the school year.  While I don’t control or plan what I eat beyond our vague weekly dinner menu, I have found a couple helpful approaches for feeling full on a veggie-based diet.

– Get some serious protein & fat with breakfast.  Examples include whole-wheat toast with peanut butter & honey or jam, eggs, yogurt, or soymilk and granola with some nuts.

– Find ways to sneak more beans, cheese, eggs, and nuts into your diet.  Keep a bowl of almonds on the kitchen table for easy snacking, spread some bean dip and/or cheese on a sandwich, crumble hardboiled eggs into your salad, dip cut up veggies into hummus, add a scoop of hummus to a salad, opt for peanut butter on toast rather than butter.

If you have other suggestions or opinions, feel free to leave them in the comments!

May 28, 2011

Best Penne Vodka Ever

While A was away on vacation, said vacationer’s girlfriend fixated on a very pretentious idea. She was sitting at her desk in the library, thinking of the 1940s Italian neo-realist film The Bicycle Thief and remembering the delicious-looking bowl of pasta served by the frugal yet culinarily skilled mom. This led to the (a) highly specious conclusion that the film characters were eating penne vodka, and (b) a wide-ranging search for the best penne vodka recipe ever. Vacationer’s girlfriend eventually settled on Smitten Kitchen’s adaptation of Rachel Ray’s embarrassingly named “You Won’t be Single For Long Vodka Cream Pasta.” After sending the closet-dweller the recipe & a short lecture on the cinematographic brilliance of TBT, girlfriend ventured out to acquire the needed libations.

The closet-dweller and vacationer’s girlfriend made many changes to the Smitten Kitchen & Rachel Ray recipes. Here’s the final version:

Penne Vodka (non-discriminatory re: relationship status)

A couple tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
About 5 stalks green garlic, minced
Good-sized handful of chives, snipped into the pan
1/2 cup vodka
1 cup veggie stock
1 can diced tomatoes (28 ounces)
Coarse salt and pepper
A little less than a pound of pasta, depending on the sauce:pasta ratio you prefer
1/2 cup heavy cream
A small handful fresh oregano, chopped up (or basil if you have it around)

Heat a large skillet over moderate heat. Add oil, butter, green garlic, and chives. Gently saute chives and garlic for 3 to 5 minutes. Add vodka to the pan. Reduce vodka by half, this will take 2 or 3 minutes. Add veggie stock, tomatoes. Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for at least 10 minutes until the tomatoes taste done (if you’ve cooked with diced tomatoes before, you probably know what I mean). Season with salt and pepper.

While sauce simmers, cook pasta. Stir cream and fresh herbs (oregano or basil) into the sauce and simmer a bit more. Season more as needed. Stir together with pasta and top with cheese if you so desire.

Evening entertainment option 1: Go classy, eat penne vodka and drink wine while watching an amazing Italian neo-realist film.

Evening entertainment option 2: Go post-college, eat penne vodka and drink Yuengling while watching Community for hours on end.

May 28, 2011

The Return: Veggie List May 28

Rejoice, rejoice! The parsley is back!  And we will be eating it until November.  In sad news: we now say goodbye to ramps.  No ramps again until next spring.

  • 2 bunches of green garlic
  • 1 bunch of sorrel
  • 1/2 lb of spinach
  • 1/2 lb of salad greens
  • 1/2 lb of asparagus
  • 1 1/4 lb portobello mushrooms
  • 1 bunch chives
  • 1 bunch parsley!
May 22, 2011

L Makes Peanut Butter Cookies

Our good friend L, who often bakes for us, visited this weekend and made these amazing chocolate chip peanut butter cookies.  We had a jar of extra healthy peanut butter which turned out to be inedibly terrible.  So, instead, we made a lot of cookies.  We have cookies to eat, L went home with cookies, and we have several logs of dough in the freezer for later.

The recipe is from Smitten Kitchen, a website which has been recommended by two different friends and you can find it here.

May 22, 2011

A Delicious Meal of Potatoes and Righteousness

Potatoes:

  • 5-6 potatoes, in very thin slices
  • 3 mushrooms, chopped small
  • chives, finely cut
  • ramps, finely sliced
  • green garlic, minced
  • shallot, minced
  • Parmesan cheese
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • drizzle of heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter

  1. Cook the ramps, mushrooms, garlic, shallot, chives, nutmeg, salt and pepper in olive oil and set aside.
  2. Peel and boil the potatoes until mostly cooked, then julienne them.
  3. Layer the potatoes and the mushroom herb mixture in a Dutch oven and top with butter and Parmesan.
  4. Bake covered at 350 for 45 minutes
  5. Serve with delicious righteous kale recipe from The Closet Dweller’s Reign, except without the pasta.
May 22, 2011

Veggie List May 21

I guess the key thing to remember is that spring is the right time to just eat greens, greens, greens.  After months of no greens, it’s good to shake up our diet somewhat.  And it all tastes so good, and so righteous.

  • 1 bunch chives
  • 1 bunch fresh oregano
  • 1/2 lb asparagus
  • 2 bunches green garlic
  • 1 bag salad greens
  • 1 bag kale
  • 1 bunch bok choi
  • 3 lbs potatoes
May 22, 2011

The Day the Garlic Died

Why love and garlic are so vital, and so similar:

  1. It is the best thing in the world.
  2. When it goes bad, it goes really bad.
  3. There’s nothing quite like it and nothing can really replace it.
  4. It can explode in your face when you least expect it.*
  5. It makes everything better.
  6. You never appreciate it until it’s gone.

Garlic, we barely knew ye. See you again in July.

*A truly alarming cloud of bright green mold spores shattered one closet-dweller’s innocent misconception that plants can’t attack you.

May 15, 2011

Veggie List May 14

The greens continue:

1 bunch green garlic

1 bunch chives

1/2 lb kale

1 bunch arugula

1 lb asparagus

1 bunch ramps

1/2 lb portobello mushrooms

Our cat is especially thrilled with the advent of chives. Since we learned that chives are poisonous to cats we haven't been letting him eat them, but he does love playing with them and will wait by the fridge for when we open the door, climb up onto the table, and even look longingly when we hide them on top of the fridge.

May 11, 2011

Loaf of Awesome

This recipe is roughly based off of a Turkish spinach roll recipe a friend taught me years ago.  Since she made me memorize the recipe, and since it’s been six years, I had to somewhat reconstruct it.  But it came out wonderfully.  Instead of making individual rolls we made one big loaf.

I should also say that this is tagged under “fast and easy;”  it really is.  From getting started to getting this thing in the oven was under half an hour.  It does bake for a while though.

The dough, smooth and ready to roll.

Spinach and asparagus filling spread out over the dough.

Spinach and asparagus filling spread out over the dough.

Finally, the loaf, sliced at a slight angle into spiraled rounds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The dough:

3 ¼ cups flour (I did 2 white and 1 ¼ wheat)

2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk, at room temperature
½ cup oil, neutral or olive

Lightly beaten egg yolk for glazing (optional)

  1. Combine all the dry ingredients and use a whisk to mix evenly
  2. Add the oil, stir a bit.
  3. Add the milk and mix with a spoon until it is too solid for the spoon, then use your hands.
  4. Knead the dough just a little until it is smooth and pliable.
  5. At this point make the filling.  Do everything on the filling list now.
  6. Roll it out until it’s a bit more than a ¼ inch think then spread the filling over most of the dough and roll it from one end towards the other.
  7. Use your fingers to press it shut at the ends and bush it with a lightly beaten egg yolk.  Last sprinkle coarse salt and ground pepper on top.
  8. Bake on a lightly oiled and very lightly floured sheet at  350 for 35-40 minutes

Filling:

½ lb spinach

A handful of chives

Asparagus

Green garlic, 1-3 stalks

Salt, pepper,

¼ – ½ teaspoon each oregano & basil

Olive oil

  1. Chop the asparagus into 1 inch pieces
  2. Finely chop the chives and green garlic.
  3. Put the asparagus, chives, and green garlic in a sizeable saucepan with the olive oil and cook on medium low heat for about five minutes.  Add some salt, pepper, oregano, and basil.
  4. Meanwhile, wash and roughly chop about of spinach.
  5. Turn off the heat, mix the spinach in the saucepan and cover, with heat turned off.
  6. Add to the dough as explained above.