Thursday, October 24, 2013

Cabbage two (delicious) ways!!!

What a CSA season this has been! I cannot believe the abundance and quality of the food I have been fortunate enough to receive from my favorite veggie farmer.  I may never grow a garden again (although I may coach the kids from the sidelines as they grow things).  What a seriously awesome blessing to be a part of this amazing experience.  And having been on both ends of a CSA this summer, I can truly appreciate the serious amount of time and effort that goes into not only the food production part, but all the other, behind the scenes work.  Jen Campbell, you are my food hero.

But let's talk about cabbage.  Less than a hero to many.  I feel bad for the cabbage, especially the cabbages that I carefully stored in my crispers for the past few weeks, until I had time to find recipes that I thought would make them enticing to my eaters.  Any chance you still have a cabbage or two, kicking around, waiting for inspiration?
Well, I hope you do, because I've got two awesome recipes that I think would work with nearly all kinds of cabbage (although the purple ones might not look so good when cooked).
They were both good, but Mark and I both preferred one over the other.
Here's Mark's favorite:

Sauteed Cabbage & Bacon*  (<--------see? Bacon makes everything good!)

4 or 5 slices of real, thick cut bacon, diced
1/2 green cabbage, sliced thin
1 onion, sliced thin
salt & pepper
1 tbsp mustard
1 tbsp horseradish
little splash of water

fry the bacon, remove from the pan, leaving the fat in the pan. 
add the cabbage to the fat in the hot pan, along with onion and cook covered, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes (not too long!).
Add salt and pepper, mustard, horseradish and water, cooking for 1 more minute. (Don't let it get mushy, but the cabbage should be softened a bit). 
Stir in the bacon

(note: I followed this recipe, but next time I make it, I don't know if I'll bother to remove the bacon and then stir it back in. I hate an extra, unnecessary dirty plate.)

Now for my fav. (and since the first one had my 1st favorite ingredient (bacon), you can guess that that second one will have my second favorite ingredient (curry).  Sorry to be so predictable!

Curried Cabbage

2 tbsp butter
1 small onion sliced
1 cabbage, shredded or thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp curry powder (or to taste)
splash of water

melt butter over med. high heat
add onion and cook until softened
add cabbage, curry powder, salt and the water.  Cook, stirring occasionally until the cabbage is tender (but not mushy!).

This tasted like a nice curried chow mien to me, with the perfect amount of crunch, but with a little more flavour than a typical Canadian Chinese food chow mien. I think it's much better hot, but I tried a bit cold and it was ok too. 

Happy to have shared these weeks with you!  Although my posting will undoubtedly drop off a bit, I hope you'll check back throughout the winter as I delve a bit deeper into the GMO alternatives to some of our favorite (hidden) GMO laden foods.

Here's to a cozy fall, filled with farmers and good food!

*Get the good bacon, from the real farmer.  On a related note: we'll have fresh GMO-free pork available soon! Try finding THAT anywhere else on the Island!  Let me know if you're interested.)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Simple Sides

I have a vague memory of brussels sprouts being my all-time favorite vegetable, yet I only remember eating them once, as a kid.  They weren't something we grew in our garden and I think Mom ever bought them, so I don't know why I have this memory of them being something fantastic, but I was eager to give them a try when they came on that big crazy stalk in the bin this week.
I used my tried and true old faithful cookbook, Joy of Cooking, looking for a very basic recipe and it suggested I start out by soaking them in salted water for 10 minutes.  I don't know exactly what that did, but I did it anyway.  Then I cut cross gashes in the stem ends (presumably to help them cook more evenly-which they did).
So I added a stalk's worth to boiling water and let them simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes.  The uncovered part is important, as they can put off a great stink if they're left to their own devices.
Once they were tender crisp (not overcooked!) I drained them, added butter and minced shallot to the pan and let that fry up for a bit before adding the sprouts back in and tossing them about.  Finally, I added some bread crumbs for crunch and texture and tossed it all together before serving.
{That greenish pile of slime was a failed attempt at "Buttered Spinach".  NOT a crowd pleaser (even I had a hard time choking it down), so I won't waste space with posting what NOT to make. }
The bread crumbs were nice, but it was the butter and onion flavour that made this a pretty good side dish.  My usual veggie monsters weren't super keen on them, but Mark and I thought they were pretty good.  I think my only change would be that next time I would half or quarter the bigger sprouts so they would cook more evenly with the smaller ones.  

The next simple side is a new favy recipe of mine, although in all fairness, you can't really go wrong with cheese and heavy cream.  But it's Thanksgiving!  Give thanks for living in a place where we can enjoy a little indulgence now and then and cook up this savory treat

Baked Creamy Leeks
1 3/4 lbs of leeks (about four would be perfect), trimmed, quartered lengthwise and chopped.  You may have to rinse them in a colander under the tap to clean them off.
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced.
A bit of thyme (if you have it on hand)
1 cup cheddar cheese (give or take- I used less)
3/4 cup heavy cream (again, give or take)

So basically just toss the garlic in a hot pan with some butter, just until it's starting to take on a little colour.  Add the leeks and the thyme (if you have it) and give it all a stir.  Cook for about 10 minutes or until the leeks start to soften (I rushed this step and it was still fine).
Remove from the heat, add some salt and pepper if you want, and the cream and half of the cheese.  Stir and transfer to a shallow casserole dish fit for the oven.  Sprinkle over the rest of the cheese and bake at 400 for about 20 minutes (I rushed this step as well and it was fine, if not a bit runnier than intended).  
The photo does NOT capture how bubbly and cozy this dish is or how tasty it is.  It will be a welcome addition to many Thanksgiving tables with it's fresh, light oniony flavour, but warm creamy cheese to please the pickier palates

Don't forget to give thanks for your farmers this weekend! 


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Tis the Season of Soup

I love this time of year.  I probably say this at the beginning of every season, but fall is truly my favorite time of year.  I sleep best when my windows are open, the air is chill, my nose is cold and I'm smothered in heavy blankets.  And there is something about that chill in the air that makes food taste that much better and I think maybe a bit more fun to cook.
So tonight, I'm getting the soups out of my system and leaving you with two simple but amazing soups that are a hit in this house (well, except Thayne who doesn't like any soup or stew...grrr) and that feel like will cure whatever ails ya.  They're classics that I'm sure many of you already have a handle on, but if you're new to these soups and want a no-fail go-to, here are two I love:
Leek & Potato Soup and Parsnip & Ginger Soup 
They start out the same, with the mirepoix I mentioned in the Cauliflower soup recipe a couple weeks ago, along with some garlic.
2 carrots  (any colour will do, but note that the purple carrots can add some 'off' colour to the final product, if you care about aesthetics.)
2 celery stalks
2 medium onions
2 cloves garlic
Chop those things up and get em sizzling lightly in a large saucepan with some olive oil. 

For Leek & Potato soup chop up a pound(ish) of leeks and add to the pot and cook together, stirring once in a while until the carrots are starting to soften. Add 7 cups broth or water along with 1 pound-ish of peeled and diced potatoes.  Give everything a good stir, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes, or until everything is soft-ish.
I like my autumn soups purreed, so once it's ready I run my immersion blender through it, but you can always eat it as is.

For the Parsnip & Ginger soup, add a thumb-sized piece of ginger (I keep mine in the freezer and shave it with a rasp whenever I need some, but powdered ginger works ok here too), 1.5- 2 lbs of peeled and diced parsnips (I used two weeks of my shares worth) along with the veggies and cook together, stirring once in a while until the carrots are starting to soften.   Add 7 cups broth or water and give everything a good stir, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes, or until everything is soft-ish.
I like my autumn soups purreed, so once it's ready I run my immersion blender through it, but you can always eat it as is. 

Both soups need seasoned with salt and pepper to taste and I like to serve mine with greek yogurt or sour cream and croutons.  A little bit of fresh parsley chopped in, brightens it up a bit too.

So few ingredients, but so delicious!

Warm and cozy and perfect with a toasted tomato sandwich a la Jen.  :)