Thursday, July 31, 2014

The heirlooms are here!

This should be a festival day.  I have a garden with lots of vegetables -- eggplant, cucumbers, herbs, zucchini, butternut, snap peas, carrots, and peppers.  And I have a few hybrid tomatoes that were nice enough to give give fruit starting in late June.  But these are all supporting characters to the star of the show, the heirloom tomatoes.  There's nothing like ambling up the backyard stairs, plucking one of these off, and doing something simple, like hearty bread spread with thick Greek yogurt from Sophia's Greek Pantry in Belmont (labna if you can't get yogurt this thick--I'm pretty sure it's the same foodstuff), some fresh oregano, and thick slices of heirloom tomato. These are purple Cherokee, an all time favorite.  The Brandywine's are close behind.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Yes please, I'll have me some of that: A simple one pot pasta with tomatoes and basil

Here's a shout out to Food52.  They're an cooking-oriented website that covers a lot of territory, has a great attitude, and consistently puts out good content that I want to read (and recipes I want to cook).  I get their e-mail newsletter several times a week, and there's always something I want to try.  Check it out if you haven't.  It seems that they're pretty successful, and I hope that the appearances are true, because they deserve to be.  So, they don't really need a shout out from me, but today was special.

I was reading Food52 at lunch time, like I often do, and saw this "genius recipe" for one pan tomato pasta, clicked over, saw the lovely picture, and started reading.  The idea is simple, true genius, and I wished I'd thought of it myself. Turns out, it was Martha Stewart who thought of it.  Apparently, this was all the rage a while ago on the Internet, but I missed it.  It's dead easy and delicious.  And I just had to make it tonight. 

Here's why.....the garden tomatoes are starting to come in. And the basil is doing well.  I had onions and garlic in the pantry and a some whole wheat pasta spaghetti.  It was a no-brainer.

The recipe is indeed as easy as looks.  You just dump all the ingredients in a straight sided skillet (called a sauteuese).   There's enough water to just cover the pasta.  You boil it for 10 minutes (they say 9, but my spaghetti was whole wheat, and it said 10), and you've got a meal.  Top with a little Parmesan cheese and your set.  Yum. Go look at their recipe.  It works!  Prep time...5 or 10 minutes, tops.

A few notes.  When I looked at the quantity of salt (2 teaspoons for a dish that makes four servings), I was sure it would be too salty.  But it wasn't.  And I chiffonaded the basil leaves and tossed them in right at the end of the cook time so they just wilted into the dish rather than cooked.  It's better for fresh basil not to be cooked.  And you just use raw onions--no sauteing first--the 10 minutes of cooking in the starchy water was enough to sweeten up those onions so they were mighty tasty.

And click over to their link to other one pot pasta meal "spinoffs".  There's bound to be something tasty there!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Two Lost Years

I posted on July 4, 2012.  And then again on July 2, 2014.  Two years with no posts.  I had good intentions, but then two years slipped away.  I didn't stop cooking and I didn't stop taking pictures. 

There were some good dishes in there, some more memorable than others.  There's zero chance that I'll write about these pictures, but I might be inspired to try some of them again..

I hate to throw the pictures away, so I made a little assemblage of the neglected posts.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

What the heck is that stuff?

I just finished breakfast yesterday morning out the backyard.  It's a peaceful spot, before the heat of the day.  Sip my tea and linger with the paper.  I looked up at the garden plot and noticed an enormous stand of green leaves where the cucumbers and eggplant are supposed to be.  "What the heck is that stuff?"   
A few sad radishes with a spectacular head of leaves. 
Plus and early tomato, the first of the snap peas,
and some mustard greens

Radishes.  I'd planted some radishes.  They were supposed to be long white radishes.  But the problem with radishes is that they grow underground, so how are you supposed to know when they're ready?  In the past, when I'd grown globular red radishes, they pushed their shoulders out of the ground when they were ready, so you knew. These hadn't done that.

We had a good rain last week, and it's been sunny and hot all weekend.  What had been a five foot row of struggling radishes turned into a forest of radish greens.  But were any actual radishes underneath?  One had pretty yellow flowers, so I figured those were long gone.

I pulled them all up and found six that looked like they could qualify as real radishes, but they were only a few inches long rather than the five inches promised on the seed packet.  And many more were just little scraggly radish wannabees. 

But while the radishes were disappointing, the radish greens had promise  Now, "what the heck do I do with this stuff"?   I was pretty sure I could eat them. 

The Internet to the rescue, especially, where I discovered that the leaves are a bit prickly, but once they're cooked the prickliness goes away, they're tasty, and they're not as bitter or peppery as you might imagine.  Comparisons were made to turnip greens.  And I like those.

I gave them a good wash in the sink to remove any dirt, pulled off the really thick stalks, put them still wet in a large sauteuse pan, covered, and steamed for a few minutes until they wilted.  Just like spinach.

And they tasted just like spinach.  No bite at all. Silky smooth, no prickles.  And the stems weren't tough at all.

Radish greens, leftover smoked pork, onions and garlic, with a touch
of passion fruit vinegar to brighten.
It was way too much for one meal.  So I took about a third of it to add to some of the leftover smoked pork from the weekend, a sliced onion, and a little garlic.  A meal for a hot day!  A little passion fruit vinegar brightened it up just  a bit.

The rest went into a ziplock bag, into the freezer for another day.

The garden's really coming in.  The Swiss chard has finally taken hold. The Portuguese kale and the collards are heading for their third pruning, and the single zucchini plant is going to produce plenty for the two of us.  More to follow.


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