Monthly Archives: August 2010

Swiss Chard & Beet Green Soup

I’m not much of a soup person, but my CSA is turning me into one.  When confronted with my onslaught of vegetables, lately soup has been the most appealing option for using them up.  The cumin gives this deep green colored soup a  nice bite.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Bunch Swiss Chard
  • 1 Bunch Beet Greens
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 4 Garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 lb Potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 2-4 Cups Chicken or Vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 Cup Sour cream
  • Salt, Pepper

Directions:

  1. Separate the leaves of the swiss chard and beet greens from their more fibrous stems.  Chop the leaves for the soup.  Chop and save the stems for another dish or discard.
  2. Cut the potatoes into small cubes, either with or without the skin.  Remove the skin if you want a smooth puree.  Prep the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Heat the olive oil in the bottom of a large pot. Toss in the onions and garlic, cook until fragrant and onions translucent.
  4. Toss in the potatoes and coat with the spices: cumin, salt, pepper.
  5. Add the chopped greens and stock (2-4 cups, add the rest in water) to the pot.  Cover and turn to high heat.
  6. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
  7. Puree the soup using an immersion blender or by straining the solids and pureeing them in a food processor or blender.
  8. Place the puree in a separate bowl.  Add the sour cream.  Add back as much of the liquid as desired until you reach your desired soup consistency.

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Filed under Main Dish, Soups and Stews

Beet Cupcakes

I wanted to title this “rich chocolaty moist cupcakes” to ensure no one is turned away from the thought that these cupcakes are made using beets.  I’ve been cooking a lot with beets lately because the last 4 plus weeks of my CSA share have featured them.  For those who would turn their nose up, I’d like to share that of the 15 cupcakes made last night for a small dinner at my house only four remain this morning.

I made up this recipe on my own, using other cupcake recipes and my beet brownie recipe (which already makes a cake-like brownie) as guides.  The result was pure deliciousness sandwiched between frosting and paper wrappers.


Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 3 Tsp Cocoa powder
  • 2 Tsp Baking powder
  • 1 Tsp Baking soda
  • Pinch Salt
  • 3/4 Cup Beet Puree
  • 1 Stick Butter, soft
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Vanilla
  • 4 oz Chocolate Chips
  • 3 Eggs

Frosting:

I used my “good with everything cream cheese frosting” but any slightly sweet, light frosting will compliment the delicate chocolate taste of the cupcakes.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt chocolate chips in a double broiler (or like I did, in a mug in the microwave stirring every 20 or so seconds until done), set aside.
  3. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and set aside.
  4. Cream butter and sugar together.
  5. Add vanilla and cocoa powder, mix well.
  6. Add one egg at a time, stirring until well incorporated.  (If you’re like me and accidentally add all 3 eggs at once, you may need to whip out the electric mixer to ensure everything mixes together).
  7. Add in the melted chocolate and beet puree, mix well.
  8. Add in the remaining dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  9. Fill cupcake wrappers 2/3 full.  Will make 12 cupcakes.
  10. Bake for 18-22 minutes, cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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Filed under Bakery, Sweets

Beet Brownies

With their purple-hued chocolate brown color, these brownies beg to be eaten.  You can feel justified in eating more than one as they have beets in them, so they’re not dessert, more like a side dish…

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 Cup Beet puree
  • 4 Ounces Chocolate chips
  • 3/4 Cup Flour
  • 2 Tsp Baking powder
  • Pinch Salt
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Vanilla extract
  • 7 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 1/3 Cup Sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 3 Tsp Cocoa powder

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt chocolate over double-broiler.   Set aside.
  3. Mix flour with baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
  4. Cream butter and sugar together in a medium size bowl.  Add vanilla and then eggs, one at a time, until the mixture is creamy.  Add the melted chocolate and beet puree. Add the flour.  Mix everything together well.
  5. Pour batter into a 9×9 lightly greased baking pan.  Bake for 30 minutes.

*Beet Puree- Boil several beets until easily pierced with a fork.  Either peel the beets before boiling or peel the skin off after cooking.  Puree in a food processor until the consistency of baby food. Measure out the 3/4 Cup and eat the rest with a bit of butter or use it to make beet dip or something else.

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Filed under Bakery, Sweets

Hummus

I used to have an aversion to chick peas.  They looked odd and had a terrible name, I was certain that they must taste terrible as well.  Somewhere along the line, however, I ventured to try hummus.  Since that day, my world has been altered and chick peas are a staple in my cupboard.  This is a nice basic hummus recipe to which anything can be added to jazz up the flavor.

The key to good hummus is good tahini.  The cheapest jar around town that I found had such a bitter taste that my hummus tasted terrible.  Good tahini should have a smooth nutty taste.  It should be a bit too intense of a flavor to take a taste right off the spoon, but it shouldn’t repulse you with bitterness.  If it does, try a different brand.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Can Chick peas, rinsed
  • 2 Large Garlic cloves
  • 3 Tbsp Tahini
  • 2 Tbsp, plus a splash Olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp, plus a splash Lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions:

  1. Toss everything into the food processor.
  2. Pulse until the texture you want.
  3. If it seems thick, add a tablespoon or two of water.  Taste and add a touch more lemon juice, tahini, or olive oil if necessary.

Enjoy! It keeps well in the fridge for a few days. Smear it on bagels, on sandwiches, use it as a veggie dip, or even grab a spoon and just eat it out of the bowl.

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Filed under Appetizer

CSA: Parker Farm

Any post tagged “Parker Farm CSA” indicates that I made the dish featuring food stuffs that I got in my farm share.   For those not in the know, I’m going to explain a little about what a CSA is and also plug my farmer, Steven Parker of Parker Farm, Lunenburg, MA.

CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture.”  How it works is a farmer creates a number of “shares” which are available for purchase typically in the fall before they worry about ordering seeds.  A share consists of an expected return in produce.  My share is 20 weeks of pick-ups on a designated day from a designated location, with each weekly share consisting of 7-10 different items, dictated by the local harvest season.   There’s plenty online that does a better job of explaining what a CSA is and how it works, like this article on LocalHarvest.org, and wikipedia’s entry.

All my veggies are compliments of Parker Farm, a one-man farming operation (he sometimes has a few hired helpers) founded in 1990 by Steven Parker out in Lunenburg, MA.

Here’s some veggie porn:

The bounty I picked up August 11th

A quick search of farmfresh.org indicates that there are now tons of CSAs available in the Boston area. My selection of which farmer to go with was dictated by: price, shareholder satisfaction and opinion, pick-up location, and availability.  Some shares have wait lists.  My specific farmer’s story helped clinch the deal.

Steven Parker currently works 35 acres of land up in Lunenburg, MA.  He got his start in the farming biz 19 years ago, having gotten sick of his previous life as a heavy metal musician (although he’s gotten back into music playing in Steve the Farmer and The Murder Balladeers).  After learning the ins-and-outs from other farmers, he cut his teeth cultivating a few rented acres, and now offers delicious produce cultivated on his small piece of acreage to several hundred people in the Boston area through farmers markets and his loyal CSA supporters.

There’s no bull or frills to his outfit, which is part of what I like.  Every week, you learn of what you’ll get hours before the drop off via a post on his face book page. If you want a pretty newsletter with recipe suggestions every week, this is not where to go.   If you want great fresh food, and lots of it, Steve’s your man.

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Cilantro Pesto

This is a great basic pesto recipe.  This same recipe can be used to make a great basil or parsley pesto, just replace the cilantro with whatever you have on hand.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 to 2 Cups Cilantro
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 1/2 Cup Almonds
  • 1/2 tsp Jalepeno pepper (or few shakes red pepper flakes)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 Cup Olive oil

Directions:

  1. Pulse everything together except the oil in the food processor.
  2. Add in the oil and continue processing until smooth.

Note: (If making in a less-than-top-notch blender, chop all the ingredients pretty fine first before blending together.)

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Filed under Sauces & Condiments

The Food Files: Kohlrabi

Every so often I plan on doing an expose on a different foodstuff: what it looks like, how to store it, how to eat it, etc. Kohlrabi is perfect for my first “food file” post as before it arrived in my CSA share I had never even heard of it, let alone laid eyes on it.  I immediately began scanning the web for guidance on how to treat my new-found tasty friend.

What is it? Kohlrabi’s name comes from the German words for cabbage and turnip. Its relatives (bred from the same wild cabbage plant-Brassica oleracea) include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, and brussels sprouts.

What does it taste like and how do I eat it? Like many of its relatives, kohlrabi can be enjoyed raw or cooked.  The bulbous stem, which can be green or purple depending on the variety, has a taste and texture similar to a broccoli stem. I peeled off its tough purple outer layer with a paring knife and sliced it into pieces resembling apple slices.  I noted a turnip-y radish-like mildly spicy taste.  It works beautifully as a vehicle for dip or hummus.  Online there are recommendations to slice, dice, or grate it and add it to salads.

The greens are also edible.  I washed, chopped, and blanched mine before freezing them for later enjoyment.  I plan to use the greens as I would any other frozen green: tossed with pasta, in egg bakes, soups and stews, or as a side.

How do I store it? If the leaves are still attached to the bulb, trim them and store them separately.  If the leaves are still firm and green–they’ll last a few days–they can be cooked and stored like other greens.  The bulbs should be stored unwashed in a plastic bag.  They’ll hold for a week or two in the refrigerator.  Smaller kohlrabi are sweeter and more tender than their larger counterparts.  I noted woody tough spots that were nearly impossible to cut through in bulbs bigger than tennis ball size. Cut and peeled kohlrabi turns brownish after a day, storing it sealed, or immersed in water may solve this.


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