Wednesday, August 24, 2011

CSA Basket- Week Eleven

I can't believe it's been 11 weeks of farm fresh goodness already! Where did the summer go? I'm really going to miss the fresh produce and lower grocery bill in the winter...

This week's bounty includeda canary melon, red kale, a kohlrabi, two beets with greens, two white peppers, four green peppers, an eggplant, a red ripe tomato, a pint of raspberries, and a watermelon.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Tomato, Sausage, and Basil Marinara Sauce

Our CSA had plum tomatoes for sale this past week, in addition to the tomatoes we got in the regular basket. Since I had been itching to try my hand at homemade tomato sauce lately, we decided to buy some. And by some, I mean 25 pounds. Go big or go home, right?

Well, it turns out that 25 pounds is a heck of a lot of tomatoes. I didn't even use half in my first big stock pot full of sauce. But the plan was to make a ton and freeze most of it for the winter, so I'm sure it'll be fine. The first batch I made was a Tomato, Sausage, and Basil Marinara. Of course, we had to try a bit for dinner before freezing it. It was really good, and definitely a nice twist on the standard red sauce. I'm glad we'll be enjoying this all winter!

Tomato, Sausage, and Basil Marinara Sauce
(makes roughly 15 cups)

30 plum tomatoes
1 (28 oz.) can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2 (28 oz.) cans of tomato sauce
1/4 cup of red wine (I used merlot)
3 Tablespoons of dried basil
3 Tablespoons of dried oregano
1 Tablespoon of ground fennel seed
6 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
5 bay leaves

6 links of Italian pork sausage (I used mild, as a preference, but hot would work too)
1 Tablespoon of olive oil

1/2 cup of chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup of chopped fresh oregano

Directions: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. 

Fill a large bowl half way with iced cubes and cold water, and set aside. Lightly slice an "x" in the skin of each plum tomato. When water is boiling, place the tomatoes in (I did about 6-8 at a time). Let them boil for a couple minutes, until skin starts to peel back from the sliced areas. Using a slotted spoon, place in the iced water to cool for a couple minutes and halt the cooking. When they have cooled somewhat, the skin should peel right off. Peel and dice them, and place them in a large bowl. Repeat until all the tomatoes are done. 

Place fresh diced tomatoes, canned sauce, canned diced tomatoes, red wine, dried basil, dried oregano, ground fennel seed, garlic, salt, pepper, and bay leaves in a large stock pot. (I couldn't find ground fennel seed, so I used whole fennel seeds that I ran through an empty pepper-mill.) Bring to a light simmer, cover, and allow to simmer for 1.5 hours. 

After 1.5 hours, heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high. Squeeze sausages out of the casings into the saucepan. Brown the sausage, breaking up the pieces with a fork. When the sausage is browned, add it to the sauce, give it a good stir, re-cover, and allow to simmer for another 2-3 hours. Sauce should be reduced down a good amount from where it started.

Remove from heat, and stir in the fresh basil and oregano. Allow to cool before freezing. Enjoy!

Adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen, original recipe here.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Gnocchi with Zucchini Ribbons and Cherry Tomatoes

This has to be one of the easiest dinners I've made in a long time. I did find it in a section of "Weeknight Meals Ready in Under 20 Minutes" so I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but I still wasn't quite expecting this easy. Not only was it an absolute cinch to put together, it was perfectly timed- the veggies cook in the same amount of time it takes to boil the water and cook the gnocchi. Just throw everything together at the end, and violà- dinner! It had me thinking "is that all I have to do?" which is definitely a good thing :)

It has a great, nutty flavor from the nutmeg and Parmesan, and feels like a great "transitioning into fall" dish. And while it's not exactly time to "transition into fall" quite yet, there's not nothing wrong with being prepared!

Gnocchi with Zucchini Ribbons and Cherry Tomatoes
(serves 4)

1 lb of fresh or frozen gnocchi (I used whole wheat)
2 Tablespoons of butter
1 shallot, chopped
1 large zucchini, very thinly sliced (I used a golden zucchini)
1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon of grated nutmeg
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 handful of chopped fresh parsley

Directions: Slice the zucchini thin (with a mandoline slicer if you have one), chop the shallots, halve the tomatoes, and chop the parsley. Set each aside separately.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. When it's boiling, add gnocchi. Cook until they float, for about 3-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, while you're waiting for the water to boil, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium high. When it's melted, add the shallots and zucchini. Cook for about 5 minutes, until shallots and zucchini start to soften. Add the halved tomatoes, Kosher salt, pepper, and nutmeg, stirring occasionally. When gnocchi is done, drain it and add to the veggies. Stir to combine, and mix in the parsley and Parmesan. Enjoy!

Adapted from, original recipe here.

Monday, August 15, 2011

CSA Basket- Week Ten

This week's haul included a red seedless watermelon, five red ripe tomatoes, two heirloom tomatoes, green leaf lettuce, a pint of heirloom cherry tomatoes, a bunch of escarole, a golden zucchini, a yellow squash, bok choy, a half pint of raspberries, a cubanelle pepper, a sweet German pepper, and a bunch of basil. 

I think I'm actually going to go back later in the week to buy extra tomatoes too, so I can make and freeze a tomato sauce for the months to come. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

CSA Basket- Week Nine

Holy tomatoes! We certainly got a lot of them this week :) This week's basket had nine ears of corn, a watermelon, an eggplant, two beets, two red ripe tomatoes, three heirloom tomatoes, five mini heirloom tomatoes, a pint of cherry heirlooms, a half pint of raspberries, and a zucchini.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

White Lemon Cake with Berry Topping

I tend to be an early riser. Well, I am if you compare me to H, at least. Out of the two of us, he is definitely the one who likes to sleep in. And while I love H dearly, I really savor those couple hours of the weekend morning that I have to myself before he wakes up and our day begins.

During the winter, those mornings are often spent wrapped up in a blanket, reading, listening to jazz, and drinking a home made peppermint mocha. In the fall, the windows are open; I'm loving the brisk wind and crisp, undoubtedly fall smell; and I'm more likely than not baking some sort of pumpkin treat or starting a big batch of chili.

This summer, I've been spending those mornings listening to some Ray LaMontagne or Amos Lee, appreciating the soft breeze of the ceiling fan, and putting coffee iced cubes in my morning cup. And yesterday morning, enjoying this cake. Really, really enjoying this cake.

This cake truly made my morning. It manages to be light, yet rich at the same time. The lemony sweetness of the cake is a perfect complement to the slight tartness of the berries. I just used blueberries in the topping, but I bet raspberries or blackberries would be just as delicious. 

White Lemon Cake with Berry Topping
(serves 12)

1/2 pint of berries
1 stick of butter, room temperature
3/4 cup of white sugar
1 egg white
3/4 teaspoon of lemon exract

1 cup of cake flour
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of baking powder

1/2 cup of buttermilk

Directions: Preheat oven to 350. Cut a parchment paper round to fit inside your cake pan. Grease parchment paper with a bit of butter, place it in the bottom of the cake pan, and spread berries out on top of the greased parchment. 

Beat butter and sugar together with medium speed for about 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add egg white and lemon extract and beat for another 30 seconds. 

Combine all dry ingredients (cake flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder) in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Add 1/3 of dry ingredients to bowl while beating on low. Alternate with buttermilk, ending with dry ingredients, beating until just combined. 

Plop batter on top of the berries in the cake pan, and spread to the edges. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until slightly golden brown on top and the middle is no longer jiggly. (I used an 8" pan, so I may have needed a bit longer. If you're using a 9" pan, check after about maybe 25 minutes.) Allow to cool on a rack for 15 minutes, and then invert on to a plate. Cool completely before cutting, and serve with a dusting of powdered sugar. Enjoy!

Inspired by Smells Like Home, and adapted from The Powdered Plum, original recipe here.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Summer Panzanella

I really don't know why it took me so long to try this recipe. I had bookmarked it last summer, but it fell through the cracks. Since the tomatoes are starting to get ripe now, I figured it would be a perfect time to finally make this dish. After all, fresh veggies and carbs are two of my favorite things :)

It was very easy and filling, and the flavors were just incredible! The vegetables and the bread really soak the flavor up. It is a great side for a picnic, or as a light week-day meal. Just make sure to keep the croutons separate from the salad until you serve it. Otherwise, they'll get soggy!

Summer Panzanella
(serves 4 as a main course, 6-8 as a side)

For the dressing:
3 Tablespoons of capers
4 Tablespoons of olive oil
3 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper

For the salad:
3 bell peppers of different colors, sliced
1 medium red onion, sliced

2 large ripe tomatoes, cut into 1" chunks
1 large cucumber, peeled and sliced
20 leaves of basil, sliced

1 Tablespoon of olive oil
10 medium slices of Italian bread

Directions: Combine 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil for the dressing with the capers in a food processor. Pulse until they are a paste-like texture, and scoop into a bowl or dressing bottle. Add the other 3 Tablespoons of olive oil and the rest of the ingredients for the dressing and set aside. 

Place the chopped tomatoes and cucumber in a large bowl. Heat a little olive oil in a large saucepan, and add the pepper and onion slices. Sauté until they start to get a little soft, and then add them to the bowl with the cucumbers and tomatoes. Top with the torn basil. Pour the dressing on the salad, and allow it to marinate for at least 30 minutes. (Don't refrigerate, keep it at room temperature)

Preheat oven to 300. Grease a baking ban with the olive oil, and place slices of Italian bread on the pan. Bake for 7 minutes, remove, flip slices over, and bake for another 5 minutes. Slice bread into croutons. Set aside.

When ready to serve salad, combine with croutons in individual servings. (If you mix all the croutons with the salad and then happen to have left overs, the croutons will get soggy.) Enjoy!

Adapted from Ina Garten for, original recipe here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

CSA Basket- Week Eight

This week was quite a haul as well! We picked up a canary melon (I've never tried one before!), a cantaloupe, a pint of cherry tomatoes, a pint of heirloom cherry tomatoes, green leaf lettuce, an eggplant, a zucchini, a purple bell pepper, a bag of green beans, two heirloom tomatoes, three red ripe tomatoes, two ears of corn, two pickling peppers, and two mini heirloom tomatoes. Yum!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Tomato and Cheddar Pie with Herbed Mayonnaise

As soon as I saw this recipe in the August issue of Bon Appétit, I knew I had to make it. It had everything I love- a carbalicious crust, ripe summer tomatoes, and cheesy-oozy goodness. It turned out delicious, although it is pretty heavy and definitely an indulgent treat. The crust is very thick and rustic, and the herbed mayonnaise was so good I wanted to lick it up! I think there is a lot of potential for changing this recipe up too, with different kinds of cheeses and sauces.

The dough for the crust is very sticky and wet, but it turned out fine. And also be warned, it takes a bit of time to put together, and then needs to sit at least an hour after baking and before serving. So skip this one if you're in a hurry, the waiting was tortuous!

Tomato and Cheddar Pie with Herbed Mayonnaise
(serves 4)

For the crust:
2 cups of all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt
6 Tablespoons of butter, cut into 1/4" cubes
3/4 cup of buttermilk

For the mayonnaise:
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1 scallion, sliced thin
2 Tablespoons of chopped fresh dill
1 Tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons of white sugar
1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt
dash of black pepper

For the pie:
3 large ripe tomatoes, sliced into 1/4" slices
6 oz. of cheddar cheese, shredded
1 oz. of Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 1/2 Tablespoons of cornmeal
1 Tablespoon of olive oil for greasing and brushing

Directions: Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a small bowl. Add butter cubes, and mix by hand until mixture resembles coarse sand and some small lumps remain. Add in buttermilk, mix until just combined and form dough into a ball. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Place sliced tomatoes on a baking sheet lined with 2 layers of paper towels. Cover with 2 more layers of paper towels, and lightly press down. Allow to sit for 30 minutes, to draw out the moisture.

Place all the ingredients for the mayonnaise in a small bowl, mix well, and set aside. Mix the cheddar and Parmesan cheeses in a separate bowl, and set aside as well.

Preheat oven to 425. Grease a 9" glass pie pan with half of the olive oil, and place the refrigerated dough in the pan. Press down on the middle of the dough, pushing it towards and up the edges. Sprinkle the cornmeal on the bottom of the crust. Top with about 1/4 of the cheese mixture, then place tomatoes overlapping in a circular pattern (pressing down slightly to push out the crust) on top of the cheese, and then spread 1/3 of the herbed mayonnaise on top of the tomatoes. Continue to layer cheese, tomatoes, and mayonnaise, ending with cheese, until all ingredients are finished.

Brush crust with rest of olive oil, and bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted. Allow to sit for at least 1 hour before serving. Enjoy!

Adapted from Bon Appétit, original recipe here.