Concord farmstands and corn soup

I was going to take you on a tour of the newish Saturday farmer’s market in Concord, MA. But the rain forecast kept the farmers away, so now we are going to two of my favorite farms, both family farms with a long history here. Then we are having corn soup for lunch, my recipe inspired by the best corn soup ever at 80 Thoreau, with a swirl of my own.

Our first stop is McGrath farm, for corn and impulse vegetable shopping. Continue reading

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Eggplant rolatini and salad with peach vinaigrette

I used to hate eggplant. My three brothers and I made a no-eggplant pact. We figured if we banded together we could convince my mom not to make it for us. Who could blame us? How about some bitter spongy slices sawed from those fat purple blobs, then coated in egg and bread crumbs and pan fried, for you?

The eggplant ban lasted for decades and then one day a thin, balsamic-roasted slice ended up in a roasted vegetable sandwich. Hmmmm. Pretty good. Then a friend made honey roasted eggplant and I started to rethink eggplant.

What clinched it was overhearing a recipe described a the farmer’s market: roasted eggplant slices, spread with goat cheese and pesto, rolled up and topped with fresh tomato sauce.

So, now that the eggplant ban is officially lifted, I’m making my favorite eggplant dish with my mom and dad, who always thought the ban was ridiculous but gave in to us because we ate everything else they put on our plates. This is a great dish to make for company because it’s vegetarian and easily made vegan, and you can do most prep ahead of time, which means more time to spend with your friends.

Menu
Artichoke and olive tapenade with crackers
Mixed greens with peaches, almonds, and peach vinaigrette
Eggplant rolatini with tomato sauce over linguini
Strawberry sorbet
Continue reading

Asparagus walnut pasta

I had asparagus on the brain after making Smitten Kitchen’s shaved asparagus pizza and having a lovely salad of local lettuces and shaved asparagus at AKA Bistro. I made the pizza one drizzly night a couple weeks back for some very enthusiastic friends who agreed that the thin crust, scant sprinkle of mozzarella and parmesan, and grassy asparagus topped with scallions was a winning combination.

So what else could I do with shaved asparagus?

Continue reading

Moroccan chickpea cakes for Dad’s birthday

In the kitchen with mom

With a day’s notice, I decided to go to Southern California to celebrate my dad’s 79th birthday. For the past week he’d been mostly at home, recovering from a leg injury, and I thought he could use some company and a fuss for his birthday. It’s also been awhile since my mom and I tore it up in the kitchen, and I was looking forward to that, too.

People who don’t live in California think that when I go to there for a visit with my vegan parents that we mostly eat avocados and oranges off the trees. We did have very sweet tangerines from my brother Chuck’s tree, and then dined at some lovely vegetarian cafes, and then got to work in honor of dad’s birthday.

My mom is a very skilled and quite fearless cook, which makes these cooking visits so enjoyable. She likes bold flavors and well-seasoned food, and has great ideas about what goes with what and encourages my crazy ideas (not represented in this particular post). She’s also tireless, and thinks nothing of cooking for hours at a stretch, so she was enthusiastic about making this menu together.

Menu

Moroccan chickpea cakes with walnut sauce
caponata
quinoa tabbouli
zucchini ribbons
fresh chickpeas

coconut ice cream

I’m a big fan of chickpeas in any preparation, and especially like them combined with zesty spices. We were inspired by the hummus cake recipe from Vegetarian Times, which morphed into this recipe. We served them with a walnut sauce and caponata, but they are a nice base for nearly anything.

While my parents and I were out shopping, we discovered fresh chickpeas at the Middle Eastern market (who knew? I thought chickpeas only came in a can! They cook up to a brilliant green and have a creamier texture than their dried version). Dad offered to peel them, and didn’t complain when his hands turned black, and so we also cooked those up.

Moroccan chickpea cakes
2 15-oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 green onions, white and green parts chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup tahini
2 TBS lemon juice
1 TBS olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp saffon
1 and 1/4 tsp salt

Heat oven to 350. Measure out 2 1/4 cups chickpeas (set the rest aside) and put in a food processor. Add green onions, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, spices, and salt, and process until coarsely chopped and combined. Move the mixture to a large bowl, and stir in the rest of the chickpeas. Taste the mixture and adjust seasonings.

Lightly brush a baking sheet with oil or use a Silpat mat. Shape chickpeas into small patties. We made about 18. They don’t hold together if you make them burger size, so don’t make them that large. Put them on the pan and lightly brush the tops with oil. Bake for 30 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.  Serves 6.

Moroccan chickpea cakes

The sauce for the chickpea cakes was adapted from a Georgian walnut sauce recipe in a lovely cookbook called Olive Trees and Honey:

Georgian walnut sauce
1 cup walnut pieces
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp kosher salt
1 TBS and 1 tsp pomegranate molasses
4 TBS chopped cilantro, divided
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 TBS olive oil

Put into food processor: walnuts, onion, garlic, salt, pomegranate molasses, half the cilantro, and the spices. Pulse mixture until well chopped, but still a bit chunky.

Heat olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add mixture and cook, stirring, until darker in color, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, add in remaining cilantro, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Zucchini ribbons
4 medium size zucchini
1 red or yellow bell pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Use a vegetable peeler to make thin strips out of the zucchini. It’s OK if the strips are not all exactly the same size or perfect looking. Cut the pepper into thin steps.

Heat a nonstick medium sized skillet over medium high heat. Add a tablespoon of water, and the zucchini and pepper. Saute until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes, but watch carefully so you don’t overcook them. Remove from the heat, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

My brothers Chuck and Gregg came over for the dinner and then artfully presented Dad with all kinds of interesting gifts and garlic. We had ambitious plans for Dad’s birthday dessert. But after also making a quinoa tabbouli and spinach saute garnish, and another sauce that didn’t get a passing vote, we decided to indulge in the Purely Decadent coconut milk ice cream that we picked up earlier that day. Happy birthday, dad!

Lacinato kale and tangerine salad + spicy pork stir fry

Menu

Lacinato kale and tangerine salad
Spicy pork and cilantro stir fry
Steamed brown basmati rice
Sliced papaya

It feels like Spring is almost here. After a string of grey days, the sun is out and it’s light out until after 7. I went for a quick run and was energized by all the smiley people out for walks. Then, with renewed energy and a growling belly, I got to work. 

Kale is always on those lists of healthy food you probably don’t eat but should. I never did until I was introduced to it by my friend Rob, who made a salad of thin-sliced raw lacinato kale, lemon juice, and ricota salata. Simple and so good. Then a week later I had an elegant vegan version with citrus at Shojin, that again changed my opinion of kale (the nice people and enthusiastic vibe at Shojin could make anything taste good).

I ended up with 5 lbs of the best clementines I’ve ever had in my life (Whole Foods shopping frenzy), and found a bunch of some very fresh looking kale. So here’s my take on raw kale salad: 

Lacinato kale and tangerine salad:
1/2 lb (approx) lacinato kale
5 TBS fresh squeezed tangerine juice (from 2-3 tangerines)
2 tangerines, peeled, broken in half and thinly sliced
1/2 clove minced garlic
pinch salt
1 TBS good tasting olive oil
2-3 TBS sliced or slivered almonds, toasted

Wash kale, cut out the center rib, and then stack leaves and cut crosswise into half-inch strips.

Make dressing: in small bowl, add garlic and pinch of salt, and with a pestle or the round side of a lemon zester, mash garlic to a paste. Add tangerine juice and olive oil and stir with a fork to blend it. Add salt and pepper to taste. If the tangerines are not very sweet, consider adding a touch of sugar or honey.

Put dressing in the bottom of bowl, add kale, and toss. Top with almonds and tangerine slices, and lots of freshly ground pepper.

Now for the rest of dinner. I found this lovely recipe in the Chez Pim archives for Pad Krapow Moo–spicy stir-fried pork with holy basil.

I’ve always been intimidated by Thai cooking, but this seemed do-able. Except for the key ingredient: holy basil. Pim had it growing in her garden when she wrote that entry. I’ve got nothing growing in my thawing garden, and the basil I bought a couple days ago is looking sad. So here’s my adaptation of the spicy pork stir fry:

6 cloves finely chopped garlic
2-3 Thai bird chilies, seeds removed and thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper cut into small strips
1 lb ground pork
2 tsp canola oil
3 TBS fish sauce
2TBS soy sauce
4 green onions, white and green parts thinly sliced
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro

Heat large stir fry pan over medium high heat. Add oil and then add garlic and chilies, stir for about a minute and add pork, breaking it up with a large spoon.

Continue stirring the pork and breaking into pieces as it cooks.

When it’s almost fully cooked, add fish sauce, soy sauce, peppers, and onions. Stir until the peppers are cooked to your liking.

Take off the heat and stir in the cilantro. Serve with steamed rice. Serves 4 hungry people.