Archive for ‘Spring’

June 13, 2011

Potato Croquettes

Potato Croquette Recipe Modifed from Mark Bittman How to Cook Everything Vegetarian:

~3 cups mashed potatoes (we did blue potaotes!  Make them with as little milk as possible and no butter.  Also stir in a couple tablespoons of chopped parsley, black pepper, salt, paprika, and garlic powder.)
A generous handful of parsley, chopped finely
A generous handful or two of spinach, stems removed and chopped finely
3 stalks green garlic, minced
A handful of chives or spring onion, minced
2 large portobello mushrooms, chopped into 1/4 inch cubes
A potent and delicious combination of butter and olive oil for frying
Breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs (we used Ritz cracker crumbs and it was great)
Flour or matzo meal
2 eggs, lightly beaten

1. Make the mashed potatoes like this:

Wash four medium potatoes and chop them into one inch pieces.
Put the potatoes in a pot of water (we added one cube of garlic broth, you could add a bouillon cube or some veggie stock if you don’t have garlic broth).  Add  some salt and two tablespoons of chopped parsley.  Cover the pot so it boils faster, but keep and eye on it because it will spill over.
Boil the potatoes for about 20 minutes or until they are soft to a fork.
Strain and mash up with a spoon or fork.  You can save a little of the potato water for your own stock, but beware, it is powerful stuff.
Add the remaining spices: garlic powder, pepper, more salt, and paprika.  Keep adding, stirring, and tasting until the masted potatoes are delicious.








2. While you’re making  the mashed potatoes, do all the washing and chopping of greens and mushrooms.  Then saute the parsley, spinach, garlic, spring onions, and mushrooms in plenty of olive oil until fairly soft.  Probably only a few minutes.  They will cook more later.

3.  Next, set up the breading area in this order: a plate with a cup of flour on it; a wide shallow bowl with the lightly beaten eggs in it; a plate with the breadcrumbs.  You ideally want this set up so that moving left to right (or right to left if you’re a lefty) you can go through these dishes and straight into the frying pan.  The croquettes can be quite delicate.

4.  Mix together all the various veggies and mashed potatoes in one pot.  This is your croquette batter.  meanwhile, melt at least 2 tablespoons of butter and a fair amount of oil in your frying pan so that the bottom is fully covered.  Less than deep frying more than sauteing.  Shut off the heat once the butter is melted.








5. Now, make the croquettes.  Take about 1/4-1/3 of a cup of the batter in your hands and shape it into a burger-shaped patty.  Dip it gently into the flour so that all sides are covered.  Next, carefully lay it in the egg, first one side then the other.  Last, very carefully dip it in the breadcrumbs on both sides.  The patties will get progressively more fragile as you go so work quickly and careuflly.  Finally, lay each patty in the frying pan (off the heat, but warmed) until you have 3-4 in there.  Then put the pan back on the burner and get to work frying.








6. Each side needs to fry for about 5 minutes.  The insides are already cooked, so just focus on getting the outsides brown and crispy, but not burnt.  These are very forgiving to fry and best eaten immediately. (Though they do make an excellent breakfast the next morning, just fried again in a little more oil.)

June 12, 2011

Green Pasta Sauces

Since we have such an abundance of greens right now, we’ve been making a range of green pasta sauces.  It’s amazing how many greens taste good on pasta, and how great they are no matter how often you eat them.  So, several green pasta sauce ideas:

  1. Parsley Garlic Noodles  – this is more or less our favorite quick dinner.  Or dinner at all.

1 bunch parsley

1 head of garlic or 3-4 stalks of green garlic (the more the better)

Olive oil or butter

While making a box of pasta, wash and roughly chop the parsley and finely chop the garlic.  When the pasta is done put the parsley and garlic in the still-warm pan with a few tablespoons of olive oil or butter.  Stir it for a minute or two to coat in oil then add the pasta and mix.  It’s great on its own or with any kind of cheese and lots of salt and pepper.

  1. Cilantro & Ramp Pesto

1/2 bunch of cilantro
3 ramps, tops and bottoms
1 stalk of green garlic
a handful of arugula

Put all of these great things in a food processor with 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  It makes a lovely, light pesto and is great with a little Parmesan.

  1. Kale & Pasta

½ bunch of kale

½ a head of garlic or some green garlic stalks

Olive oil

Juice of ½ a lemon

Optional: Portobello mushrooms

Chop the kale into smallish pieces and cut the garlic into whatever shape you like.  Cook the garlic (and mushrooms-cut into small pieces) in the olive oil over low heat.  When the pasta is nearly done, add the kale to the garlic, stir, and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Add a tablespoon of water or veggie stock and cover for 3-4 minutes.  Uncover and turn off the heat.  The kale should be starting to wilt.  Add the lemon juice.  If you cook it until done then it will become mushy on the pasta, so better to stop early.  Mix it up with the pasta and eat right away.

June 1, 2011

Asparagus and Sorrel Delight

A farmer friend of ours from market suggested this recipe a few weeks ago and we’d been looking for a chance to try it out.

All you need is some sorrel, some asparagus, and some chives (as always this spring, chives feature in this meal).  Sorrel, if you’re wondering like we were, is a common garden plant that also grows wild and is sometimes considered a weed.  It is spinach like in texture and looks somewhat like spinach, but with longer lighter leaves.  But it’s flavor is different.  There’s a slight bitterness in the flavor and it’s very lemony.

So, wash and lightly dry the sorrel and chop it roughly just a few times.

Melt two tablespoons of butter in an oven-safe casserole pan and mix in some salt and pepper.

Stir the chopped sorrel into the butter until evenly coated.

Break the tough ends off of the asparagus and cut the stalks in half.  Lay the cut asparagus on top of the sorrel and stir a little.  Make sure the sorrel remains on the bottom. Sprinkle a little finely chopped chives.

Sprinkle a little more salt and pepper and add a little butter on top of the asparagus.

Bake the whole thing uncovered at 350 for 12-15 minutes.

We ate ours with homemade bruschetta which was lovely.

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

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

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 22, 2011

A Delicious Meal of Potatoes and Righteousness


  • 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 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


½ lb spinach

A handful of chives


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.