Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Family-sized Farm Share for One.

This was the first week of our CSA share from Farmer Dave's. We're technically splitting the share with our friend, The Paperblog Princess. But she's jetsetting right now, leaving us to kill off the share ourselves.

Chris picked up the first major armload of veggies on Wednesday and promptly flew off to Dayton for a wedding. And so, a family-sized share of veggies quickly became a farm share for one.

Never in my life have I eaten so many variations of lettuce, spinach, bok choy and kale in one week. This photo shows what was left after I made a sizable salad for a potluck dinner on Thursday:

Well, aside from the asparagus. That I just had leftover in my refrigerator already. Needless to say, I felt pretty obligated to create veggie-heavy dishes for all soccer viewing events this weekend. 

First up was the Revs v. Fire tailgate in Foxboro on Saturday. I cooked only for myself, so the dishes were small. My favorite of the night was a green bean and sugar snap pea salad with pickled red onions, inspired (as I often am) by Smitten Kitchen:

Slightly less successful (if only because it tasted really, really green) was braised bok choy with garlic and peanuts:

good and healthy, but pretty bitter...

 The veggiefest continued on Sunday as I hosted my friend Jill to watch USA v. Jamaica on Univision. We enjoyed a strawberry, avocado and fried almond salad with lots of greens:

 Along with a summer beet salad:

I am proud to say that with a little help, I ate my way through 80% of our farm share. Now we just have to figure out to do with next week's share while we're off in LA and Seattle...

As an aside, I am pretty sure these are pea tendrils, but someone correct me if I am wrong:

What, exactly, does one make with pea tendrils?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Farmer's Lunch Sandwich: Revs 1, Red Bulls 2

I took the day off from work last Friday for my first ever Revs bus trip. The planned four hour drive to my home state of New Jersey dragged on into a sweaty, air-conditionerless six hours as we sat in traffic to cross the George Washington bridge. Come on, though. Who actually chooses to go over the GW on a Friday afternoon?!

With a grill completely out of the question (duh, we were on a bus), we aimed to fill a cooler with good eats that met two criteria:
1. Best served cold
2. Easy to eat on your lap

We settled on one of my all-time favorite sandwiches. I first discovered the Farmer's Lunch Sandwich at City Feed & Supply when I worked in Jamaica Plain. I returned three times in one week to keep eating it. Then I went online to try and figure out how to make it for myself. I found a most excellent recipe at The Kitchn, which I adapted only slightly to my taste. City Feed's sandwich includes pickled green tomato, but the onion jam in the kitchn's recipe is a more than adequate replacement. So much more, in fact, that I used the leftover on all kinds of other things. Including, but not limited to, toast, crackers, and tofu.

This is a simple sandwich...which makes it really, really worthwhile to buy good ingredients. Most importantly, you want the sharpest, crumbliest cheddar you can find.

Farmer's Lunch Sandwich
Adapted, ever so slightly, from the kitchn

   1 loaf crusty baguette
   Whole grain mustard
   Sharp, sharp, sharp cheddar cheese
   2 granny smith apples, very thinly sliced
   Juice of one lemon
   Onion Jam (recipe below)

1. Slice the baguette into four equal sections, then slice each section in half lengthwise. Spread a generous amount of mustard on each side.
2. Spread a layer of onion jam on the bottom half of the bread. Toss the apples in lemon juice, then add as many as you can fit onto the sandwich. Add a few leaves of lettuce and top with a layer of cheese. Press the sandwich closed.
3. Wrap sandwich in a tight layer of wax paper.

Onion Jam
also adapted, barely, from the kitchn

   1 tablespoon olive oil
   5 medium shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
   1/2 cup vegetable broth
   1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
   2 heaping tablespoons apricot jam
   salt and pepper, to taste

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the shallots, season with salt and pepper, and cook about 5 minutes, until they begin to get soft and the bottom of the pan begins to brown.
2. Add the 1/2 cup broth to the shallots, scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan while the broth reduces. Add the balsamic vinegar, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for about 5 more minutes. Add the apricot jam and stir to combine. The sauce will thicken but should be easily stirred.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Homemade Veggie Burgers, Part 2: USA 0, Spain 4 (Well, At Least the Tailgate was good!)

photo credit: Nathan Gower

Aside from suffering a bitter and soul crushing defeat at the hands of the Spanish National Team, I'd say that Saturday's American Outlaws affairs were a terrific success.

So the US lost 0-4 to Spain. But hey, at least AO Boston threw a heck of a party!

photo credit: Garrett Quinn
As this was the first foray into catering for both AO Boston and the Asphalt Kitchen, we were glad to have the help of volunteer grillers and seasoned tailgate veterans from AO chapters around the country. It was by no mistake that things went relatively smoothly.

While my companions grilled upwards of two thousand burgers and hot dogs on the massive (8 ft!) grills we rented, I handled the veggie burgers and Boca vegan patties for the non-meat eaters among us. Also for the people who didn't get in line fast enough for meat burgers and had to settle for leftover vegan patties (sorry folks).

Aside from a few collapsed casualties, my veggie burgers held up quite well on the grill. The skillet cooking ahead of time definitely helped in this department, as did greasing up the grill to prevent sticking.

As far as this recipe goes: It is very basic and very flexible. A food processor with shredding attachment is handy, especially if you're doubling (or quintupling, as we did) the recipe. I've grated everything by hand in the past using a cheese grater, so it's doable. We also tinkered around with the spices and added some bread crumbs...this was truly a work of experimentation.

Without further ado,

Homemade Veggie Burgers

Adapted from Jen Parmer via Allrecipes.com
Shared with me by Andrew Lind, potluck chef extrordinaire

Serves: approximately 10 patties. Quintupling the recipe yielded 70 patties!

   2 teaspoons olive oil
   1 small onion, grated
   2 cloves garlic, crushed
   2 carrots, shredded
   1 summer squash, shredded
   1 zucchini, shredded
   1 1/2 cups rolled oats
   1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
   1 egg, beaten*
   1/3 cup shredded cheddar
   chili powder, to taste
   cumin, to taste
   hot sauce, to taste
   salt and pepper, to taste
   1 tbsp soy sauce
   1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

   1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over low heat. Cook onion and garlic 5 minutes, until tender and fragrant.
   2. Mix in carrots, squash, and zucchini. Continue to cook and stir for 3 minutes.
   3. Remove from heat. Mix in oats, breadcrumbs, cheese, and egg*. Stir in soy sauce and add spices to your liking.
   4. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate for about an hour. Or don't, and just hope they'll hold together.
   5. Meanwhile, preheat grill or a clean skillet**
   6. Spread a handful of the flour on a large plate. Using your hands, form veggie mix into 3-inch round patties. Lightly coat each with flour by gently rolling them on the plate.
   7. Oil grill grate or skillet. Cook 5 minutes on each side, or until heated through and nicely browned.

*I used an egg to hold everything together, but if you want to keep your burgers more truly veggie, you could probably forgo the egg and throw in some pureed chickpeas or avocado...or anything sticky...to help with the binding together of your patties.
**This is the point where you can choose which way to go. If you are tailgating, as we were, you may want to start by pre-cooking in the skillet, then heat the patties up on the grill when you get to your parking lot/field/backyard party destination.

photo credit: Covering Soccer

photo credit: Covering Soccer

Monday, June 6, 2011

Homemade Veggie Burgers, Part One: The Night Before The Night Before

The Boston Chapter of American Outlaws threw a really big tailgate party for US v Spain at Gillette Stadium on Saturday. Like 1500 people big. As you can imagine, this required extensive planning...and a whole lot of meat.

I was excited by the challenge of producing veggie food on a larger scale, so I volunteered to make and grill veggie burgers. By that I mean I volunteered my dear friends to help me make veggie burgers. And so, on Wednesday I went shopping for zucchinis and squashes and carrots etc, etc. And on Thursday I convinced six good friends to work, assembly line style, in exchange for pizza. I also took over their kitchen.

Believe it or not, we managed to produce 70 veggie burger patties on a $27 tab. Now, some ingredients, like the rolled oats and spices, were things we already had on hand. But still, $27 is pretty modest for 70 veggie patties, no? I've spent double that on frozen veggie burgers.

Making veggie burger patties was a fun experience, mostly because there was a lot of experimentation involved. The recipe I used (shared with me by one Andrew Lind) was very straightforward: a lot of shredded veggies plus rolled oats, cheese, and an egg to hold it all together. Quite obviously, this is not a vegan or strict vegetarian burger by any stretch of the imagination. But since I was in charge of making all the burgers, I figured I had the freedom to make them to my liking. The experimentation came in to play in controlling the consistency and flavor. These are very soft and somewhat sticky patties. We added a few things to the original recipe to firm the patties up, including breadcrumbs. We also added a heck of a lot of spices.

Full disclosure - I pre-cooked my burgers in a skillet on Thursday night to prevent the patties from falling apart on Saturday morning when I tossed them on the grill. When I make them for myself at home, I either put the patties straight onto the grill or cook them in a lightly greased skillet (just one time).

Stay tuned for Part Two, which will include recipe and day-of-game hulabaloo!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Grilled Pizza Margherita: Revs 0, Galaxy 1

Yes, it's true. I've made this before. And posted pictures of it on my blog. But when Julie asked if I would cook for her teenage niece and nephew at this weekend's tailgate, a grilled pizza seemed like the perfect crowd pleaser. Besides, I didn't include the full recipe last time around.

I toyed with the idea of switching up the toppings, but pizza margherita is just so satisfying on a hot day. You read that right! Finally, a hot day at Gillette!

This method of preparation can certainly be applied to any sort of pizza with any sort of toppings. The high heat of the grill makes for good hot cooking (read: crispy and slightly charry crust).

(We also had delicious snacks. Thanks, Julie!)
Grilled Pizza Margherita
 raw pizza dough (recipe here or buy pre-made at your grocery store - often near the bakery section).
 classic pesto (recipe follows)
 olive oil
 tomatoes, thinly sliced
 mozzarella cheese ball, sliced into discs
 Handful of fresh basil leaves
 Crushed red pepper, to taste

 1. Heat grill until it is quite hot (medium high is appropriate if you have a gas grill).
 2. Keep all tools close at hand, including long metal tongs, a spatula, and a brush. Have your toppings sliced and ready to go.
 3. Stretch your pizza dough into a large circley shape.
 4. Brush dough with olive oil on one side.
 5. Place dough on grill, olive oil side down. Brush the other side with a little olive oil, too. Allow the dough to cook until it has brown grill marks on it but is still soft on top.
 6. Carefully flip dough using your spatula/tongs.
 7. Immediately spread a generous layer of pesto onto cooked side of dough and top with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil to your liking.
 8. Close grill lid and allow to cook for about 5 minutes, or until cheese is the right amount of gooey and dough has the right amount of charry grill marks.
 9. When pizza is cooked to your liking, remove by dragging from the grill with your tongs. Allow to cool, then enjoy!

Classic Pesto
 2 tablespoons pine nuts
 2 garlic cloves, peeled
 3 tablespoons olive oil
 4 cups fresh basil (about 4 oz)
 1/2 cup grated fresh parmesan
 1/4 teaspoon salt

 1. Place nuts and garlic through food chute with food processor on; process until minced.
 2. Add oil and pulse 3 times.
 3. Add basil, cheese, and salt. Process until finely minced, scraping the side of the bowl once.

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