Thursday, August 6, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Yes, I ripped that title straight from a side dish at Tupelo Honey.
Anyway, beets! I freaking love them. I think that beets are highly under-appreciated. I guess some of you folks feel like they taste like dirt. Am I right? Maybe it's an acquired taste. I felt the same way when I had my first taste of Scotch. Now, just ask me what I think of a great Scotch.
Here's what you need:
Simply add your chopped beets, a small amount of mint, sliced green onion and a healthy dash of rice wine vinegar to a bowl. Drizzle in some oil. Salt and pepper to taste.
Then, spoon your salad over some fresh lettuce leaves. Garnish with other raw veggies, like the cucumbers in the picture, fresh from my garden. (please use your own cucumbers -- you may have the ones from my garden only if you ask nicely). Finish with a sprinkle of goat cheese and garnish with a sprig of mint.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
OK, I'm really not usually a huge fan of store-bought sauces, but I do make a couple of exceptions. Black bean sauce from Kikkoman is one. I could eat it with a spoon. It has everything you want in a good black bean sauce: not too sweet, good and salty with a pungent ferment flavor. I hope I didn't turn you off with that last part.
I know, right?
There's no picture because I ate it all right up. I can't take credit for it, unfortunately. Actually, a man came over and cooked me dinner the other day and he made those for us. I know, good guy to have around, right? Anyway, it's so simple, and comes out this beautiful yellow that looks strikingly pretty next to something green -- like green beans, for example.
So, just boil your potatoes, drain them and let the steam come out for a while, then mash them with some cream, butter, store-bought pimento cheese, white pepper and salt.
Easy but genius.
Monday, July 20, 2009
You know what is the very best on a hot summer day (besides the beach)?
Shrimp salad. It's so easy and great served cold any which way you so choose.
I like a good, spicy, Mexican/Spanish-style shrimp salad wrapped in a tortilla with some shredded cabbage. So summery and easy to eat when the heat makes you want to convert to a liquid diet. And! Great with Coronas.
Then, peel and de-vein your shrimp, reserving the shells for later use. Ziplock them and freeze -- it'll make great stock (which I'll be showing you how to make another day)
Halve your avocado, remove the pit, then slice it right in the shell with a butter knife, first lengthwise then back across your original cuts. Add that as well.
Put a dollop of sour cream in the bowl and a generous squirt of hot sauce. Squeeze your lime in here as well. Mix gently. Salt and pepper to taste. I like to add about two teaspoons of smoked paprika at this point. As it's kind of hard to find, I didn't include it in the ingredients list.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
So basically, this post is meant to encourage several things:
1. Try not to waste food. Visit this link for some interesting stats on poverty and food waste in America: http://www.soundvision.com/Info/poor/statistics.asp
Almost 100 billion pounds of food is wasted in America each year. 700 million
hungry human beings in different parts of the world would have gladly accepted
2. Be creative! There are no real rules beyond keeping your food safe for people to eat.
3. Consider planting a garden. It's amazing how far you can stretch your food dollar when you can supplement your meals with things growing right in your yard. Saves on fuel if you only have to travel 20 feet, too.
4. Keep your pantry stocked with spices, dried grains and beans, and other non-perishables. They make your life so easy.
5. Consider supporting your local farming community by joining a CSA .
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Really? Who wants soup in the summer?
Actually, chilled vegetable soup can be one of the most refreshing, simple meals around. I personally like to make a big batch of soup in the evening when it is cooler, chill and have it the next day for a fuss-free meal.
If you are a Green Hill Urban Farm CSA member, beets, fennel, mint and radishes are going to be familiar friends for a bit. I know plenty of people that are awfully frightened of some of those items. No need. If you know how to properly play with your food, you may begin to realize how incredibly refreshing late spring/early summer veggies can be.
I adore pureed beet soup with yogurt. It's super simple and hearty, but refreshing at the same time. Here's what you need for the soup:
1 small white onion
2 cloves garlic
2 stalks of celery
1 1/2-2 quarts chicken or veggie stock (I tell you how to make chicken stock in previous posts -- http://thescrappygourmet.blogspot.com/2009/05/how-to-juice-chicken.html)
tsp whole coriander seed
tsp whole cumin seed
Chop up the celery, garlic and onion. Also chop the beet stems -- no reason to throw them away. Reserve the greens from your beets. They make a fine side dish sauteed with some garlic.
Meanwhile, heat up some oil in a sauce pot. Sweat everything you just chopped on medium heat. While that's happening, chop your beets. Be prepared to stain your cutting board. That's just life with beets. If you wash up fast, it shouldn't stick around forever.
Once the onions are translucent in the pot, add your stock, then the chopped beets and thyme and turn up the heat to bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, turn it back down to a simmer.
Meanwhile, toast your whole cumin and coriander over medium heat. Once toasted, crush in a mortar and pestle or use a coffee grinder. Trust me, it is worth it to buy your spices whole like this. They last longer and taste better. Add the cumin and coriander to the soup. Go ahead and throw in a bit of salt at this point, too.
Alright, for the yogurt that you will top your soup with, you need:
6 oz plain yogurt -- thick Greek style is the best
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
few leaves mint, chiffonade
How do you make mint chiffonade? Stack the leaves, roll them into a cigar shape, slice thinly. There you have it.
Folks, I overdid the mint. Don't use this much.
Mix it all together. A fine alternative to mint, by the way, is dill.
After everything simmering in your soup is soft -- give it about 30 minutes or so -- go ahead and throw it all in a blender or food processor and puree. Add cold water if you need it. Chill soup, then serve with the yogurt on top, some good crusty bread and a salad.
The salad that I made was pretty simple, but seems fancy:
Shaved fennel and assorted radishes from Green Hill (shaved on a mandolin slicer)
Sliced apples, goat cheese, romaine
Theros olive oil and fig vinegar (you can substitute balsamic), salt and pepper.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Check out the recent story I did about the farm in the Mountain Xpress:
Thursday, June 18, 2009
The radishes are optional for this dish. They came in my Green Hill CSA box with the kale, so I thought I'd just throw it all in there. (want to learn more about Green Hill and how to get enrolled in their CSA program? Visit this link: http://greenhillurbanfarm.com/page.cfm?pg=204)
So, to make marinated kale ribbons, here's what you need:
1 bunch kale, stems stripped away
2 T tamari/soy sauce
1/4 cup seasoned (sweet) rice wine vinegar
2 T toasted sesame oilNow, here's where I tell you that you need to go out and buy yourself a cool toy. You deserve it. Head out to your local kitchen supply and grab yourself a mandolin slicer, pictured below with a radish that it perfectly julienned in seconds flat. Watch your fingers, please.
Stack your kale leaves on top of each other and roll into a cigar like so:
Then slice into ribbons like so:
Put your kale ribbons and julienned radishes into the bowl. Next, add all of your liquids.
Throw in a pinch or two of salt, get your hands down in that bowl and massage away. The salt will pull a lot of liquid out of your veggies. Let it all marinate for a while, at least 10-15 minutes, then pull the kale out of the dressing and serve. This dish keeps for a couple of days in the fridge. In my opinion, it's best the next day. As always, if you feel like you want more vinegar or tamari, add away.
Optional additions to your ribbons include fresh ginger and/or garlic, toasted sesame seeds, sliced red onion...you get the idea.
Eat your ribbons alone as a refreshing salad or with other items as a side dish. Here is my own low-cook dinner that I had on this hot hot evening:
Flash-seared Copper River salmon with kale ribbons. On top of the fish is some avocado relish (white onion, avocado, tomato, lime juice, salt. Also fresh dill, cilantro and Theros olive oil from Green Hill). In the background is some whole wheat French Bread from Annie's bakery in Sylva with more Theros olive oil infused with garlic, rosemary and thyme from my own garden. The fish only took a minute to cook, everything else was no-cook. Very healthy stuff and my house is much cooler (if you consider 79 degrees to be cool).
Monday, May 25, 2009
My morning began with an interview with the extraordinarily gifted Susi Gott Seguret, the force of nature that directs the Swannanoa School of Culinary Arts (SSCA) over on the grounds of Warren Wilson College. Susi spends much of her time in France (we spoke via web cam), but makes magic when she returns to Asheville. The SSCA is a yearly event that features all sorts of kitchen workshops headed by incredible (mostly local) talent. She spoke about the recent truffle festival in this area, and that led to a conversation about the culinary gold to be found in these parts. Though most of our markets don't exactly offer the selection of bizarre animal organs that can be procured in her neck of the woods, we do have access to an astounding array of humanely raised meats and heirloom veggies -- something to be proud of. Susi is bringing molecular gastronomy pioneer and mad chemist Herve This to Asheville to kick off this year's SSCA with some really intriguing demonstrations. Check it:
Already moving beyond the tremendous wave of inspiration he sparked with
Molecular Cuisine, his current innovations are with a new science called “Note by Note Cooking”, where each specific flavor in each dish represents a note which, coupled with other flavors, compose a musical piece and, together with a sequence of dishes, make up a symphony for the palate.
I can't tell you that I understand exactly what the heck that means, but it sounds fascinating. Susi says that all of the classes are very immersive and open to all skill levels. I highly recommend checking them out if you are in the Asheville area (or can manage to be this summer) -- and yes, registration is still open. http://www.schoolofculinaryarts.org/ Look for my interview with Susi in the next issue of Verve. http://www.vervemag.com/
I also spent the past few days kicking it around Green Hill Urban Farm interviewing a farmer, Mike Fortune, who has his hands very full with several acres of land where he farms bio-dynamically and organically right on the edge of urban(ish) West Asheville. Mike, at age 30, is part of a wave of young farmers in this area that are highly dedicated to the stewardship of the land that has fallen to them. We will be featuring Green Hill on the cover of the Mountain Xpress http://www.mountainx.com/ on July 17th, and it should be worth the read. Green Hill is just another one of those places in Asheville that feels like a bustling hive of creativity, and despite its serving a large number of CSAs, feels more like a thriving community center than a business. I'll likely post a podcast of the interviews from my session on the farm -- they will make an entertaining listen. Learn more about Green Hill here: http://greenhillurbanfarm.com/page.cfm?pg=113
Today I also had the fortune to visit with Sally Eason of Sunburst Trout Farms, the burbling trout streams of which are fed by waters that flow downstream from the pristine Pisgah wilderness. She was a pleasure to talk to, and the interview I had with her will form a great story for the upcoming food-centric issue of Verve. The farm itself is absolutely stunning -- the kind of place where butterflies are flitting around a backdrop of a million shades of green. Today there was even a double rainbow. It was almost stupidly beautiful. The trout that are netted in the streams on the property are gargantuan as far as trout go, and they are gorgeous in color due to a specially developed, patented all-natural hormone and animal byproduct-free feed that the fish are given. While many fisheries add all kinds of nasty things to the feed to give the flesh of their fish color, Sunburst gives their fish the same antioxidant found in blueberries to make them look like this:
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
Anyway, the wonderful folks at Sunny Point bakery and cafe have decided to pull together to raise some money for this family. If you haven't been to Sunny Point yet, I have no idea what you've been thinking. Get your butt over to West Asheville. I know that this is short notice, but the benefit dinner -- yes, dinner only -- is this coming Monday, May the 18th, from 5-9pm. A portion of all of the proceeds from food sales will go to the family. The servers will be donating 100% of their tips. Yep. As my friend Kelly-Anne said, "It is a reminder of how blessed we are to belong to such a supportive and wonderful community." Indeed. Visit this link for more information: http://www.sunnypointcafe.com/
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
That's almost a gallon of chicken stock. It's pretty concentrated, as you can tell by the color. Do you have any idea how much a gallon of organic chicken stock costs in the store? An absolutely ridiculous amount, considering that it's essentially made from scraps. Make no mistake, though, this is liquid gold to a serious home cook. It livens up pasta sauce, rice and tons of other grains. Risotto cannot exist without chicken stock -- and risotto is astoundingly cheap to make if you know make your own stock. Risotto, trust me, is on my agenda to show you.
Ready to make chicken stock?
Here's what you need:
A deep stock pot
your leftover chicken frame (picked over bones), cleaned of all stuffing
3 small carrots
3 celery stalks
2 bay leaves
I also like to throw in thyme as it is crawling all over my yard, but this is non-essential.
Instructions: Throw everything in the pot (removing peel from onions to keep the bitter away), cover with cold water (a gallon and a half, approx.), bring to a boil, turn down heat, simmer for several hours or until you have to leave the house or go to sleep or something. That's it. Really. You don't even have to chop anything up small. I cut the onion into 1/8's and break the carrots and celery up with my hands. And you thought this would be hard.
Set a colander over a deep container and pour the stock through the colander. Toss out your solids. You are done with them. Do not, as I did groggily one morning, pour half of your stock down the sink reserving the solids before you realize what you are doing. Oh, you think, who would be stupid enough to do that? Just you wait.
Cool stock down as quickly as possible by setting it in a sink full of ice (this keeps it from staying at a dangerous temperature for too long and breeding harmful bacteria). After cooling, put into containers and freeze what you won't use right away -- don't forget to label with the name and date!
So, to be clear, this is essentially what got me started on the roasting whole chickens thing in the first place. It is so nice to have cheap food for a week and, as an extra bonus, have nearly free chicken stock on hand all of the time. Plus, I promise that you will feel like a bit of a culinary bad ass once you start making and storing all of your own stocks -- and that is worth plenty in its own right.
Friday, May 8, 2009
So, now that you have this giant bird that you've brined and roasted (if you have no idea what I'm talking about, check the archives for brining and roasting), what do you do with it?
The legs make great individual meals with a simple starch and veg. The picture at the top of this post is a chicken leg that I simply ripped off the bird with my hands 30 minutes after it came out of the oven (sounds kind of primal, doesn't it?) accompanied with some bacon Brussels sprouts and brown rice. Think you don't like Brussels sprouts? Try this recipe:
This is what you need: 1 onion, 2 garlic cloves, a sprig of fresh thyme, 3 thick pieces of bacon, a good chunk of butter and, of course, some Brussels sprouts. I'm not very keen on exact measurements unless I'm baking, hence the pictures. You'll need salt and pepper and cooking oil, too.
Get a pot of salted water boiling (about 1 1/2 T of salt should do) Meanwhile, chop the very bottoms off of the Brussels sprouts, then slice them in half. Once you've done this, throw them in your boiling water and blanch them just until they turn bright green. Have a bowl of iced water waiting for your sprouts. Once they turn bright green, drain the sprouts, then toss them into the iced water to make sure that you shock them into not cooking any further.
Now, chop your garlic, thyme, then start cutting your onion. Slice the top off, leaving the root intact. Then place it sliced side down, and cut the onion in half through the root. Pull the peel off, then slice each half fairly thinly, say 1/4 inch, keeping each slice about the same thickness. Next, chop the bacon into little pieces.
Heat 2 pans on medium heat. Throw the bacon in one, a little oil in the other. Heat the oil for a second, then add the onions. The bacon will render its own fat, so it doesn't need any extra lube. Let the onions cook for a bit, stirring them once in a while so that they don't burn. Cooking them slowly will caramelize the sugars. You want to cook the onions until it they are a nice, nutty brown. If things start to burn a bit, turn down the heat -- all stoves are different.
Almost done here, still need to get a bit darker.
The bacon needs to be stirred around, too. Once it gets close to crispy, pull it off the heat. It will continue to cook a bit in its own fat -- don't discard the fat, that's the good part! When both onions and bacon are done, combine and set aside.
Next, heat the butter up over medium-high heat in a heavy, large pan that is big enough to accommodate the Brussels. Let the butter get nice and brown without burning it -- brown butter tastes nutty and extra yummy. Then throw in your Brussels and the garlic. You don't have to stir them too much. In fact, letting them brown brings out a nice, toasty flavor.
Then add your onion and bacon mixture to your sprouts, along with the thyme. Let cook together for a bit, and salt and pepper to taste.