Monthly Archives: August 2010

Lemon Crackers

Lemon Crackers

Lemon Crackers

Sometimes, you want snack time to be more than just goldfish crackers, you know?  If you have little ones, then you know that snack time at play dates usually hits all the major kid food groups… crackers, juice boxes, and grapes.  While that’s menu gold for the kids, I think the adults deserve something a little more special.

Getting Things Ready

The ingredients

For example, maybe something with parmesan cheese, and butter, and with delicious hints of lemon and pepper.  Now that sounds like a grownup snack worthy of any play date.  Even better, the dough for these crunchy little gems can be made made the night before the get together and baked right before everyone arrives.  So whip together a batch of these crackers and be the star of your next playgroup.  These are so tasty that you might just have to wrestle them away from the kids.

The 11 inch Cracker Log

Cracker dough

Lemon Crackers

Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

3/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

4 tbls cold butter, cut into small cubes

1 1/2 tbls water

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

To Make:

Whisk together the parmesan, flour, lemon zest, and black pepper in a mixing bowl.  Cut the butter into small pieces and toss in the cheese-flour mixture.  Using a pastry blender (or two knives), work the butter into the cheese flour mixture until the result looks like coarse bread crumbs.  Add in the water and lemon juice.  Use a fork to mix thoroughly until a dough ball is formed.  Transfer the dough to a sheet of wax paper.  Handling the wax paper (not the dough), roll the out the dough to a uniform log, about 11 inches long.  Wrap tightly in the wax paper and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to two days.

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Cut the log into 1/4 inch slices and place on a baking sheet, about 1 inch apart.  Cook only one sheet at a time for about 10 minutes, or until the edges start to turn to a golden color.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To Serve:

These make yummy little vessels for your favorite dip.  Or just eat them plain and enjoy their cheesy, mildly lemon flavor.  Makes about 40 crackers.

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Filed under Appetizers, Baked goods, Recipes

Baba Ganoush

Baba Ganoush

Baba Ganoush

I bet you all think today is a special occasion, with back-to-back blog posts happening.  Well, it is eggplant time in these parts, which is definitely cause for a little celebration.  When the eggplants start rolling in it means I get to make (and eat) one of my all-time favorite dips, baba ganoush.  Up until a couple of years ago, I didn’t even like eggplant.  Whenever I had it I found it to be either tasteless or bitter.  So I pretty much kept away, frequently using the “no thanks, I really don’t care for eggplant” deflection whenever it was offered.  But then we joined our CSA and I suddenly had a lot of eggplant in my possession.

Eggplants ready for grilling

Eggplants ready for grilling

Since Marc lives to smoke things, we decided to break out the smoker and try our hand at baba ganoush.  I figured that I liked hummus, so maybe I would enjoy this Middle Eastern dip too.  After I had my first taste, I was in love.  Fast forward three years… this recipe for baba ganoush is on the menu every summer.  Even the kids like it.  When Thing 1 was a baby, she used to call it “gaba noush”.

Eggplants, transformed by smoke and heat

Eggplants, transformed by smoke and heat

The key to truly good baba ganoush is smoking the eggplant.  You can make this recipe by roasting the eggplant in a 400 degree oven but it won’t have the same smokey, slightly sour flavor that wood chips impart.  Luckily, it is easy to create a “smoker” using your gas or charcoal grill.  Get some smoking chips (they are easy to find at big box stores or your local hardware store) and soak them in water for at least an hour (you can leave them overnight if you want).  Make a packet with the chips in the center using heavy duty aluminum foil, poke a few holes in it so the smoke can get out, and toss it directly on the charcoal or flames.  Voila, your very own smoker, easy as pie.  Just make sure you close the lid while you cook so all the smoke doesn’t escape.

Almost ready

Almost ready

Baba Ganoush

Adapted from Joy of Cooking

Ingredients:

~2.5 lbs eggplants (any color will do)

1 large clove of garlic, chopped

juice of one large lemon

1 1/2 tbls tahini (this is sesame paste and can be found in the ethnic section of most grocery stores)

1 tsp salt

To Make:

Soak smoking chips in bucket of water for at least one hour prior to grilling the eggplant.  Heat your gas grill to 400F or a charcoal grill to medium-hot.  Put wet wood chips in a packet made from aluminum foil with holes poked in it and lay the packet directly on the flame tamers (or the coals).  Pierce the eggplants all over, place on the grill, and close the lid.  Let the eggplant roast until is it soft all over and the skin is nicely charred, about 45 minutes. Make sure to keep half an eye on your eggplant.  Depending on the size, yours may cook slower or faster than ours did.

When the eggplant is soft, remove it from the grill and allow it to cool until it can be handled.  Cut the eggplants in half and scrape the flesh into a colander, allowing any excess liquid to drain.  Discard the skins.  Put the eggplant flesh into a food process along with the garlic, lemon juice, tahini, and salt.  Process until smooth.  Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary.

To Serve:

Right before serving, drizzle with good quality extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle lightly with coarse salt.  There are endless ways to serve this dip.  I like it spread on warm pita breads, on pita breads that have been baked until they are crisp, as a dip for fresh or roasted veggies (especially tomatoes), dolloped on a grilled lamb chop, etc.  Makes about 2 cups.

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Filed under Appetizers, Dairy-free, Gluten-Free, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Carnitas (a.k.a Mexican Pulled Pork)

Carnitas (a.k.a. Mexican Pulled Pork)

Carnitas (a.k.a. Mexican Pulled Pork)

It has been a great summer for vegetables.  Our farm share has produced a tremendous amount of delicious fruit and vegetables that we have been eating for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day (okay, maybe for breakfast only 2-3 days a week).  That is why so many of our summer recipes have been veggie-focused.  We want to make sure everyone knows what to do with all the great produce.  Once in a while though, you just want some meat.  Sure, you can have a side of veggies, or maybe use them as a garnish… but sometimes, even in the summer, meat has to take center stage.

Working on the pork butt

Working on the pork butt

This is definitely that kind of dish.  Ever since my friend Chrissy passed me this recipe more than a year ago, it has been hovering at the back of my mind whispering things like “Kelly, make me” and “I am both crispy and meltingly delicious, you won’t be able to resist.”  We recently had the chance to purchase a whole pig from this great farmer and with a beautiful pork shoulder in our possession, I knew those whispers couldn’t be ignored any longer.

How the sauce should look once it is reduced

The sauce is ready

Of course, as soon as I had my first bite, I wondered why the heck I had waited so long.  The pork, which is braised and then broiled, is fall-apart tender with crisp edges.  The braising liquid is reduced to make a flavorful glaze that gives the pork a rich taste with overtones of orange and cumin.  This is not a complicated recipe, but it does take some time.  Now that the weather is cooling off a bit in the Northeast, it is the perfect time to take on a recipe like this.  Make it for Sunday dinner and enjoy with the lovely late summer tomatoes and corn.

Spread with sauce and ready for the broiler

Spread with sauce and ready for the broiler

Carnitas

Recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Ingredients:

1 3.5 – 4 lb boneless pork butt, fat cap trimmed to 1/8″ thick, cut into 2″ chunks

1 tsp ground cumin

1 small onion, peeled and halved

2 bay leaves

1 tsp dried oregano

2 tbls freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 1 lime)

2 cups water

1 medium orange, halved

To Make:

Position oven racks to lower middle slot and preheat to 300F.  In a large Dutch Oven (make sure it is stove top and oven safe), combine pork, cumin, onion, bay leaves, oregano, lime juice, salt and pepper to taste, and water.  The liquid should just barely cover the meat.  Juice the orange into a bowl, discarding the seeds, add to the Dutch Oven along with the orange halves.

Bring the Dutch Oven to a simmer on the stove top over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Once the whole thing is simmering, cover the pot and toss it into the oven.  Cook until the meat is tender enough to fall apart when pierced by a fork (about 2 hours).

When the meat is ready, remove the pot from the oven and set your oven to broil.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the meat to a bowl, discard the orange halves, bay leaves and onions.  Put the pot over high heat (remember, it was in the oven for two hours so use pot holders).  Bring the liquid in the pot to a boil and reduce until it becomes thick and syrupy, stirring frequently.  A wooden spoon or heat proof spatula should leave a trail when it is dragged through the simmering liquid.  It should take 8-12 minutes and leave you with about 1 cup of goodness.

Meanwhile, shred the pork by sticking the middle with two forks and pulling each piece apart.  Fold the reduced liquid into the pulled pork.  Set a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet.  Place the pork on the wire rack in one layer.  Keeping the oven rack in the same lower middle position, slide in the pork into the oven.  Broil until the tops are well browned, about 5 to 8 minutes.  Take it out, turn the pork pieces over (think big pancake spatula), put it back in for another 5 to 8 minutes.

To Serve:

Serve warm, in burritos, as tacos, on a plate, etc. with garnishes such as salsa, lime wedges, sour cream, guacamole, fresh cilantro, corn and black bean salad.  Use your imagination.  Serves 4-6 as a main course.

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Filed under Dairy-free, Dinner, Gluten-Free, Meat, Recipes

Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad

Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad

Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad

I love fresh picked corn on the cob.  Steamed with a little salt and melted butter, it tastes like summer on a plate.  Luckily, we get a lot of corn through our CSA so I get to eat my fill.  Once in a while, after the steamed and grilled ears have gotten a little (dare I say it) blase, I start hunting around for a little something different.

Corn, hot off the grill

Corn, hot off the grill

When we made carnitas for dinner the other night (post coming soon), I wanted something fresh and southwestern-inspired to add to our pork burritos.  Enter this quick and easy summer salad/salsa/condiment.  It doesn’t take long to throw together and it is even better if you make it in advance and let it sit for a while.  You don’t have to grill the corn but I really like the smoky, slightly charred flavor that the corn takes on after a spin on the grill.  If you want to spice this up a bit, feel free to add a chopped hot pepper or even a little chipotle in adobo for a smoky kick.

Ready to mix

Ready to mix

Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad

From the mind of Kelly

Ingredients:

6 ears of corn

2 cups black beans ( or 1, 15 oz can rinsed and drained)

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp onion powder

zest and juice of one lime

1 tbls fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 tbls fresh cilantro, finely chopped

2 tbls extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

To Make:

Start your grill (gas or charcoal) and get it good and hot. Shuck the corn, making sure to pull off as much of the silk as you can.  Roast the corn directly on the grill grates, turning a quarter turn every 2-3 minutes.  When it is done, the kernels will be just barely tender.  Feel free to roast it a bit longer if you like your corn softer.

Once the ears have cooled, trim off the kernels into a medium.  Stir in the black beans, herbs, spices, lime zest, and the squeezed lime juice until well combined.  Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to blend the flavors.

To Serve:

Serve as a salad, as a topping to burritos or quesadillas, add a finely minced hot pepper and call it a salsa, the possibilities are endless.  Serves 4-6 as a side dish.

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Filed under CSA Talk, Dairy-free, Gluten-Free, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian