Archive for the ‘Eats’ Category

Creamy Cabbage & Potatoes, and a Stir-Fry

I found this recipe online yesterday while catching up on my daily websites, and since it featured both cabbage and potatoes, looked tasty, and was listed as a frugal dish, I passed it onto June for consideration. She liked the sound of it enough to give it a try, so last night we did!

Cream Cabbage & Potatoes, adapted from a Serious Eats recipe

  • 2 tablespoons Olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter, divided
  • 1 largish onion, halved and sliced
  • 1 pound cabbage, cored and sliced thinly
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 pounds potatoes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • Cayenne Pepper

Before the main part of this dish can be prepared, the potatoes need to be baked. This can be done in the oven, but since the skins aren’t required, baking them in the microwave is quicker – just prick the skins with a fork, and cook on high for about 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400°F, then heat the olive oil in a pot (large enough to hold the cabbage) over medium heat. [NOTE – The original recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of butter to be melted in at this point, but we left this out to cut the calorie count a little – feel free to add some if you want!]. Add the onion, toss to coat with fat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and just beginning to color, about 10 minutes. Stir in about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and then toss in the cabbage. Continue to stir until the cabbage and onions are completely mixed and the cabbage is beginning to wilt. Pour in the vinegar and water, cover the pot, and turn the heat to low. Cook for about 10 minutes more, stirring a couple of time, until the cabbage is tender enough to eat.

Next, peel the potatoes and mash them roughly with whichever tool you prefer. Melt the tablespoon of butter in a 10- or 12-inch oven-proof skillet (cast iron is perfect for this). Add the flour all at once, turn the heat to medium low, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes. Stir in the milk, raise the heat a bit, and cook until the mixture thickens, a few minutes. Stir frequently to break up lumps and prevent the mixture from sticking to the skillet.

Turn the heat off under the skillet and stir the potatoes into the sauce. Season with cayenne pepper, if you like, and then stir in the cabbage and onions. When the contents of the skillet are thoroughly mixed up, smooth the top with your spoon and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

Creamy Cabbage & Potatoes

Creamy Cabbage & Potatoes

Officially, it serves 4-6 people, but that’s probably as a side rather than as the main. June was being good to her weight-watchers diet and only had 1/6th, and we served a bit of another 1/6th to the little one (he got bored of it and ended up eating something else as well)… which meant I ate the rest of it! It needed a little salt & pepper added at the end to give it the right balance, but was otherwise excellent. June wasn’t too keen on it as is, so she opted to add on top a bit of both her homemade Roasted Garlic jelly and a bit of her also homemade Red Pepper & Garlic jelly. I tried the same on a bit of mine, and while it made for a nice tangy flavour, I preferred the plain option this time around. I’m not sure we’ll be making this one again, as it’s more time-consuming to make than it first appears, and June wasn’t overly sold on it, but I’d quite happily eat it again, so perhaps we’ll compromise and made it as a side dish for something else instead.

Since we’ve had cabbage & potatoes twice this week already, tonight was the turn of the green chard. June wanted to cook the remaining noodles from a packet we opened for the Hot & Sweet Chicken stir-fry, so she threw together a Beef & Greens stir-fry, featuring both the green chard and the radish tops from our very first home garden harvest.

Beef & Greens Stir-Fry

Beef & Greens Stir-Fry

The result was a clear success, partly from June soaking the noodles in hotter water this time around which prevented them sticking, and partly from the good mix of ingredients. The beef was definitely lifted by the addition of the Chinese five spice blend, and the contrasting leafy and crunchy green chard (along with the always-satisfying taste of home-grown veg, in this case the radish tops) worked really well with the noodles. Personally, I think I’d have preferred a little heat in the dish, just to give it more kick, but that’s definitely optional.

Given that we’ve got plenty of both beef and noodles in stock in the freezer and pantry respectively, I suspect we’ll be making a few more variations on this recipe using whatever’s in the forthcoming CSA boxes!

My my my… Sapote!

As hinted at in my previous post, we’ve finally manage to make something from our seemingly ever-growing collection of slowly-riping black sapote fruit. June took the initiative and created a Black Sapote Kulfi recipe from scratch (or there abouts), and it’s seriously tasty!

Black Sapote Kulfi

Black Sapote Kulfi ... on a stick!

The end result is amazingly creamy, very smooth, and has a very interesting flavour. I’m not quite sure how to describe the flavour, now that I’m thinking about it, as it’s a strange mix that seems fruity, earthy, and tangy, yet doesn’t really taste like anything else. As for the kulfi itself, I personally think that it works best when only just defrosting, about a minute after coming out of the freezer, but June prefers it when it’s much softer. Either way, it tastes great, and the fact that it takes forever to melt means that you don’t need to worry about it dripping or turning to mush. That being said, it doesn’t really work that well on a stick like this, as it sticks to the mold making extraction rather tricky!

We’ll definitely be using our future sapotes this way; since there are at least two that are still ripening up, and inevitably there will be more in future boxes, so that shouldn’t be too far away. No more sapotes will go to waste, that’s for sure…

Colcannon at last!

Another productive cooking weekend means that we’ve made another dent on our burgeoning veg stocks. On Saturday, even before I’d had a chance to post the opening of Box 8, we’d used the mizuna and red round tomatoes for BLTs (well, BMT for June, BM for me):

Open BMT

Open BMT

Closed BMT

Closed BMT

The mizuna was an interesting change from the usual lettuce, since it was much leafier, like rocket/arugula without the kick really, and it kept the sarnies slightly healthier than the just ‘B’ they would have been otherwise (for me, anyway).

Yesterday, I threw together a simple salad using the rest of the mizuna, some more of the cabbage from Box 5, a few stalks of celery, a big handful of raisins, and pretty much our entire radish harvest (with a improvised dijonnaise-ish dressing). Delicious! Yes, I forgot about the green peppers (and the carrots we bought a few days back), so a slightly missed opportunity but no matter – the result was great, with the heat of the radishes and dijon mustard mixing with the sweetness of the raisins, and the contrasting textures and crunchiness levels all working well.

However, the star of Sunday’s dining was the Pan-Fried Mahi Mahi & Colcannon that June prepared in the evening.

Pan-Fried Mahi Mahi & Colcannon

Pan-Fried Mahi Mahi & Colcannon

The fish was great, perfectly done and the crusting was excellent. However, the star of the show was the colcannon. June decided to actually find a recipe (from one of her hundreds of cookbooks) rather than rely on my rather ad-hoc version, and then improvised a little on that with the addition of caramelised red onions. Oh my! I could have eaten the entire batch and barely noticed! It was easily the best colcannon I’ve ever had, and needless to say it’s henceforth definitely going to on our frequent cook-list. In fact, I think I’ll be making this version rather than my own from now on, which is saying something. It’s possible to say that it was the freshness (and quality) of the kale that lifted this dish, so I’m looking forward to trying this one with both future box contents and other types of kale.

Oh, and before I finish, a quick teaser… we’ve finally used 5 of our black sapotes, and the results are … impressive. More details on that another time!

Mid-week Munchies

We’ve been fairly good with actually cooking this week, which means we’ve also been using our half box’s contents. However, most of the meals aren’t really blog-worthy in their own right, so here’s a quick summary:

Saturday – A first for us, in that we actually tried out a recipe from the CSA newsletter! The dish in question was an (apparently fairly bastardised) Szechuan Clementine Chicken that we substituted pork instead of chicken. Obviously, this used our one remaining clementine, and was garnished with garlic chives. To be honest, while the resultant meal was good enough to eat (and pretty hot from the chili), it wasn’t anything notable, especially since it ended up far too dry for my liking – I’m British, I like my sauces! I don’t think we’ll be having this particular one again.

Sunday – Dim Sum! Between us (well, I took photos and folded wontons, June did the rest … but that’s just details), we put together a tasty selection. The cabbage from Box 7 got used as a prop (as the photos will show), and the cabbage from Box 5 was part of the filling of the Pork Buns, along with the garlic chives from Box 7. Those garlic chives also appeared in the Beef Wontons, since we’d still got a bit left. I’ve never been a fan of boiled wontons, but the fried ones – and the steamed buns – were delicious.

Tuesday – A quick meat-and-two-veg dish of grilled chicken, steamed lacinato kale, and roasted beets. While the kale was excellent (June sauted it in olive oil with garlic before steaming), the beets weren’t softening in the oven so we had to resort to nuking them to speed things up. However, the end result wasn’t really worth the effort, as the texture was both too soft in places and too crunchy in others, and the flavour lacked impact. Oh, and the reasons we didn’t make my normal colcannon are twofold – June didn’t realise that I wanted to cook it that way, and we didn’t have any potatoes left!

Today – I finally found a use for at least some of the hundreds… well, three, green peppers that have been taunting me from the fridge for the past weeks. June hadn’t planned anything this evening, and I was impatient (ie hungry enough to actually do something about it), so I decided to throw something simple together. Half a green pepper got thinly sliced into strips and quickly fried along with some Polish Kielbasa, before being tossed into a wholemeal wrap (or three). While the pepper wasn’t as sweet as some, and to be frank was on the elderly side, it was still firm and crisp, making for a good contrast in the wraps.

No idea what we’ll be having tomorrow or Friday yet, so the week is still wide open!

Aubergine & Chard Gratin

Since we’ve had a change of plans and I’m off to Mexico tomorrow, I decided that this was my one and only opportunity to try cooking something for myself using the veggie box veggies, without anyone else to look over my shoulder or distract me. Looking at what was left in the fridge, I ended up choosing the aubergine and the chard, and went about trawling for recipes online using both that I might have a hope of actually cooking successfully.

After an initially fruitless search, I found a chard gratin recipe that didn’t look too bad, and pondered replacing the potato with aubergine, since the size and firmness are somewhat similar. A quick search for aubergine gratins brought me to Ina Garten’s aubergine (well, eggplant, given that its a US recipe) gratin. Thus, I combined the prepping the aubergine part from one, and the sauce & chard from the other, threw in some last minute improvisations (ie I misread or forgot bits of the source recipes), creating my first ever real recipe!

Aubergine & Chard Gratin

  • 3/4 pound eggplant, unpeeled, sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • Good olive oil, for frying
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup diced onion (I used red onion, but white would probably have been better)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 pinch salt, pepper
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 fronds green chard

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat about 1/8-inch of olive oil in a very large frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is almost smoking, add several slices of eggplant and cook, turning once, until they are evenly browned on both sides and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Be careful, it splatters! Transfer the cooked eggplant slices to paper towels to drain. Add more oil, heat, and add more eggplant until all the slices are cooked.

Frying Aubergine

Frying Aubergine

In a small saucepan, heat butter over medium heat; cook onion and garlic until softened, about 3 minutes (in reality, closer to 6 minutes). Stir in the flour; cook for 1 minute. Whisking constantly, add milk, 1/2 cup at a time. Whisk in cayenne pepper, mustard, salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Reduce heat to low; simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in about 2/3rds of the Cheddar cheese.

Ready to bake!

Ready to bake!

Pour 1/2 cup of sauce over potato. Top with chard fronds, stalks folded over. Pour remaining sauce over top, then sprinkle the remaining cheese. Bake in a 400 F oven for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly and browned.

GBD - Golden Brown and Delicious

GBD - Golden Brown and Delicious

The original source recipe for the chard gratin called for Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses, but since I didn’t have either (well, we might have Parmesan, but I couldn’t find it), I used Cheddar instead. In fact, I used my special garlic & chives cheddar, which added a nice extra flavour. The original recipe also called for nutmeg (to be added with the salt & pepper), but I forgot about that until too late. It also called for the chard to be shredded, but I didn’t read that until it was in the oven, and I’d just folded one entire frond on top of each casserole.

The final dish is actually pretty tasty, which surprised me! However, there’s probably twice as much sauce than is needed for this little aubergine, and I may have been a little heavy-handed with the cheese too, so I’d recommend using either more aubergine or less sauce in future versions of this recipe, and actually sticking to the amount of cheese listed in the recipe. Otherwise, I’m quite impressed with it all, since I managed to make a Bechamel sauce without turning it into lumps or burning the flour, and it even looks ok!

Right, time to finish that one dish, and the other will go in the fridge to surprise June with when we come back… 🙂

EDIT: oh, and the quality of the photos is terrible, yes, I’m well aware, but since June had taken the DSLR I had to make do with a point&shoot, which is mediocre at best and plain awful in low light, plus I wasn’t able to fix the whitebalance (hence the yellow cast), excuse 3, excuse 4… 😉

The Roselle Experiment

Whatever happened to the roselle from Box 1? Well, earlier this week June decided to actually do something with it, and went with the recipe from the CSA newsletter to make Roselle Tonic:

Sorrel (Roselle) Tonic

  • Fresh or dried Sorrel flowers
  • Water – 1 quart
  • Ginger – 1 piece
  • Brown sugar or honey, to taste

Strip the rose colored ‘petals’ (sepals) from the flower and put in a bowl. Bring one quart of water to a boil and add ginger. Pour hot ginger water over the Sorrel and let steep overnight. Add brown sugar or honey for desired sweetness.

The original plan was to drink some of the tonic once made, and freeze the rest to make a sorbet. However, once the tonic was added the icecream maker’s bowl it started to freeze solid to the point where it couldn’t scrape the sides down and was in danger of breaking the machine, so we had to put the brakes on that idea. That being said, June then actually tried the tonic, but she didn’t like it, and to be honest I came to the same conclusion after I’d had some. The problem is that this is one of those flavours that you really need to have acquired a taste for before you can enjoy it – much like elderflower or dandelion & burdock drinks from the UK that took me a while before I started to like.

So the long and the short of it is that neither of us particularly like this tonic… but the experiment itself was worthwhile, if only so that we’ve tried something new. Perhaps next time we should go with our original idea of making jelly/jam from it for selling? 🙂

Hawaiian Ranch Salad

Getting hungry this evening, I decided to throw a simple salad together, using the romaine lettuce along with some other things in the fridge. I didn’t plan on blogging about it, so I didn’t think about taking a photo until it was already half eaten, sorry! However, it turned out reasonably tasty, so here’s a quick recipe:

Hawaiian Ranch Salad:

  • Romaine Lettuce – one small head, rinsed and drained
  • Ranch Dressing – as much as you want 🙂
  • Pineapple Tidbits – half a small can, drained
  • Bacon – in this case bacon bits, since they were handy, but broken rashers would also work

Roughly tear the lettuce and chuck in a bowl. Add the pineapple bits, then pour on the dressing and mix (or should that be toss?). Finally, add the bacon on top and eat!

I originally planned to use the remains of a can of Spam (which had gone into an omelette for the little one earlier in the week), hence the combination of pineapple in this salad to make it Hawaiian – well, as Hawaiian as a pizza anyway – but the open can wasn’t still good, so a quick substitution of bacon saved the day here. The salad ended up being better than I expected, as the sweetness of the pineapple worked will in contrast with the savouriness of the ranch and bacon, and the lettuce itself was really fresh and fairly sweet as well. However, since we only had a small head, just this one salad used the entire thing… which left June a little miffed when she found out it was all gone already! Hopefully we’ll get more romaine in future boxes, as this one was excellent.

Thai Pork & Green Beans, and the Corn

June took half of one of the bags of green beans, along with maybe a quarter of the lemongrass, and this evening made Thai Pork & Green Beans – see the recipe post on her Thyme For Food blog. The lemongrass was amazingly fragrant, and really kicked up the citrus taste of the dish. As for the beans, they were the right balance of firmness and tenderness, without that “squeaky” texture beans sometimes get, and tasted fine. Since we have plenty more of both beans and lemon grass, I think we can expect to see variations of this one again in the near future (perhaps with chicken next time?).

Thai Pork & Green Beans

Thai Pork & Green Beans

Oh, I forgot to post yesterday about the corn. I decided to boil the corn for lunch, since the longer the corn is away from the plant, the less sweet it becomes. After shucking and trimming the ears, it was into the boiling water for about 10 minutes. Took a test bite, but the kernels were still very crunchy, so back in the water for another 5 minutes. Still crunchy. Another 10 minutes later, and I gave up with the boiling, which had made the kernels a little softer, but were by no means easy to eat. I munched through just about one and a half ears, but June only managed a few bites before throwing in the towel.

This leads me to two conclusions – either the corn was picked much earlier in the week and had gotten too old, or it was just not suited for boiling. This was a little disappointing for both of us, as we’ve both been spoiled by very fresh, amazingly tender and sweet corn from a pick-your-own back in the UK, and we were hoping for just as good here. So should we get corn in future boxes, I’m pretty sure we’re going to try difference methods of cooking it!