Friday, February 25, 2011

Green Eggs & Ham Frittata, Plus Announcing My Upcoming Book

From the kitchen window
After a February thaw last week, which erased months of snow and revealed the muddy, dull ground beneath and brought a much needed glimpse into the future spring, this week brought the snow back with a vengeance.

Monday, I'd planned to be at the monthly Dinner in the Dark,  but it started snowing hard around 3:00 in the afternoon, and in a couple of short hours, the roads were nasty.  After a brief attempt, I abandoned the idea and came back home.  I happened to have the ingredients on hand for this delicious roasted cauliflower, prosciutto, pasta on hand, including some delicious fresh arugula from Red Basket Farm that I snagged at the last indoor farmers market, and that's what I ended up having instead of a six course, wine paired meal. 

Chemo #4 was mostly unremarkable, with one minor exception.  On day three, when things start really percolating internally, I was hit with a pretty intense nausea wave.  Ok, at the time it felt like a tsunami.  While I was going back and forth between the bathroom and my bedroom, I pretty much collapsed in a heap in the hallway, and twisted my back when I hit the floor.

My poor fifteen year old cat Jake, who rarely leaves my lap if he can possibly help it, and I were eyeball to eyeball while I was horizontal, and he let out a scared little meow.  Then I turned my head a little and discovered I had literally scared the crap out of him.

I managed to get myself to bed, and it wasn't a particularly fun night, but the upside is that I didn't have nearly as much of an acid stomach this round, and my appetite returned more quickly than last time.  A heating pad, Aleve, and another couple of weeks not exercising, and finally today I don't feel like wincing every time I have to bend or stand up. 

Thankfully I got out the last couple of days to shake off the cabin fever.  Restocked at The Olive Tap. I am looking forward to playing with their newest - a Mango Passion Fruit Balsamic Vinegar.  You must visit the store or look for them at a farmers market.  Great stuff.

Hit the Borders closing sale in Medina.  Ironic I think, considering they drove all of the independents out of business, that they are now bankrupt.  I still like to touch and smell books before I buy them.  I wonder how long that will even be possible.

Good thing I got it out of my system, because overnight another snowstorm arrived and has been at it ever since.  Some of the highways are closed, all of the schools, and there's a snow ban in my county.

Herb Garden - Buried Again
I was supposed to meet the lovely ladies from Shop Your Closet for breakfast this morning. (I was dressed and halfway to the restaurant yesterday before I realized it was a day early - darn chemo brain!)  My road has yet to be plowed, nor has my driveway, so I had to move to Plan B. 

A fridge forage turned up a bag of fresh spinach that I'd purchased from Breezy Hill Farms at the farmers market.  If you need any more convincing that you need to buy your food from local sources, I am going to confess that the spinach isn't from last Saturday's market, it's actually from the prior market three weeks ago.  Other than a little frost on it because it got jostled around in the fridge to a cold spot, it was perfectly fine.  A couple of quick rinses and spins and it was ready to go.

Breezy Hill Farms Spinach
Some Brunty Farms eggs, a few slices of Honey Baked Ham (I had a gift certificate that I redeemed this week for a small package), onion, garlic, cheese = Green Eggs & Ham Fritatta.

Frittata Ingredients
Garden, Grocery, Gadget Girl Green Eggs and Ham Fritatta

8 farm fresh eggs
Penzeys Fox Point Seasoning
Salt and Pepper
Small red onion or large shallot
2 cloves of garlic
Bag of Farm Fresh Spinach
1/2 c. diced ham
1/2 c. shredded cheese (I used a mixed Italian Blend that was in the fridge)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees with the rack in upper third of the oven.  Whisk the eggs with a few shakes of the seasoning and a few grinds of salt and pepper in a large bowl.

Heat a good drizzle of EVOO in a large non-stick oven proof skillet.  Saute the onion for a few minutes, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant.  Add the ham and the spinach.  (Don't worry - it's going to look overflowing at first - use tongs to toss until the spinach wilts).

Spinach before it wilts
Spinach after it wilts
Add the whisked egg mixture to the pan. Let it cook a minute or so, then lift the edges so the uncooked egg can flow underneath.  Cook a few minutes on the stovetop, then sprinkle the cheese on top and  transfer the pan to the oven for around 6 minutes, or until the eggs are set.  Let stand for a few minutes before sliding a spatula under the frittata to loosen it, then you can slide it onto a plate or cutting board to cut into wedges. 

Leftovers are tasty at room temperature, or reheated gently in the microwave. 

Did you see the article on Farm Shares (aka CSAs) in the Akron Beacon Journal this week?  There are a few quotes from me, and DRUM ROLL please, the news of my upcoming book is now out.

I am hard at work on Seasons to Savor: Eating Seasonally, Locally, and Simply.  It is a guide to buying and using local foods, particularly CSA shares.  It will feature sources, profiles of some of my favorite vendors, and off season guidance. 

There will be recipes, but more importantly I think, there will be a plan of attack for you to get the most of out your CSA share by providing you with flexible base recipes and techniques.  I know that in the middle of summer when I am faced with a beautiful, bountiful box of fresh veggies that I don't want to be tied down to specific recipe most of the time, I want to be able to have an idea of what I might be able to create, then let the vegetables dictate the result. 

Think of it as turning yourself into a vegetable artist vs. a slave to the recipe.  Case in point, you can take the fritatta recipe here and make it your own by changing the green (Swiss Chard, Broccoli, Asparagus, Arugula), the seasoning to your favorite, the meat (or not), and whatever cheese you have on hand.  You can do it, I promise,  and it will turn it just fine. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bernard Pivot Blogfest

Thanks to One Significant Moment in Time for giving me something to blog about today that doesn't involve my current state of mind.  It's the famous questions most familiar to those in James Lipton's guest chair on Inside the Actors Studio, but was originally created by Bernard Pivot, a French journalist.

Here are my answers:

Okay, here's Bernard Pivot's famous questionnaire:

  1. What is your favorite word? Verdant
  2. What is your least favorite word? Scrumptious
  3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Freedom
  4. What turns you off? Rude, ignorant people
  5. What is your favorite curse word? Love the good old F word
  6. What sound or noise do you love? Kitty purrs
  7. What sound or noise do you hate? Automobiles crashing
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Botanist
  9. What profession would you not like to do? Game Room Attendant at Chuck E Cheese
  10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? What took you so long?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Stovetop Cassoulet with a BBQ Twist

Stovetop Cassoulet with a BBQ Twist

Cassoulet is a usually a hearty oven baked dish featuring rich meats and beans. My inspiration - a couple of leftover boneless chicken thighs from a client cookdate, a package of turkey kielbasa that needed to be used up, and a weird craving for baked beans.  Alas, there were no baked beans in the pantry, but here's what I came up with. 

You could sub pork for the chicken, or toss in leftover roasted chicken, or leave out the meat altogether. Use whatever beans you have in the pantry, and any color pepper you have in the fridge.

The mustard gives it a great spicy kick.  Really delicious! It would be good served over rice or polenta to catch some of the savory sauce.

Stovetop Cassoulet with a BBQ Twist

olive or canola oil
1 small onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
Salt and Pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1" pieces
1 package of turkey kielbasa sausage sliced in half, then cut into 1/2" slices
1 cup of low sodium chicken broth
1 can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
1 T. grainy dijon mustard
1/2 c. BBQ Sauce

Heat a dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add oil and saute onion and pepper for a few minutes while you chop the meat.  Season with S&P. Add the sausage and chicken, stir to brown thoroughly.  Season again with S&P. Add the stock, beans, mustard, and BBQ sauce.

Bring to boil, then reduce and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and sauce reduces and thickens a bit.

Lenore's Egg Salad

Lenore's Egg Salad
 I love egg salad.  I like a little crunch - celery, onion, shallot, fennel, pickles, all work for me.  And I like a little zip - in this case, I used my favorite Tony Packo's Sweet Hot Pickles and Peppers, including some of the juice from the jar, and Old Bay Seasoning.   (Tony Packo's is the Toledo restaurant that Klinger always waxed poetic about on the TV show M.A.S.H.)

Have you seen the hydroponic lettuce in the stores?  It's perfect for pulling off a few leaves at time for sandwiches, and since the roots are still attached, it holds for quite awhile in the fridge.  Perfect for smaller households.

Hydroponic Lettuce

 Lenore's Egg Salad 
6 eggs, hard boiled
6 T. mayo or salad dressing
1 stalk of celery, chopped fine
1 small shallot, chopped fine
6-7 Tony Packo's Sweet Hot Pickles & Peppers, chopped, plus a spoonful of juice from the jar
2 - 3 t. yellow mustard
Salt and Pepper
Old Bay Seasoning

Chop eggs, then add the rest of ingredients and stir to combine.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pork Tenderloin, Black Bean Chili with Roasted Corn and Farro

Pork Black Bean Chili w/Roasted Corn and Farro
Here's a quick and tasty bowl of warmth inspired by a leftover roasted pork tenderloin and some leftover cooked farro that I had in the fridge.  No leftovers?  I've got you covered. 

Pork Black Bean Chili with Roasted Corn and Farro

2 teaspoons of cilantro and roasted onion olive oil
1 small red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
chili powder to taste
1/2 bottle of beer
1 can diced tomatoes with adobo (I used Muir Glen)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup Fire Roasted Corn (Trader Joes)
1 leftover roasted pork tenderloin (or season and brown in skillet on all sides, then finish in 400 degree oven about 20 minutes until 160 degrees), diced
water, as needed
1 cup of cooked farro (or rinse 1 cup then cook in 3 cups of water about 15 minutes, until tender)
fresh lime
sour cream or plain greek yogurt
chopped cilantro
crushed tortilla chips

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium high heat.  Saute onion, garlic and red bell pepper until softened.  Add seasoning and cook 1 minute. Add beer and reduce by half. 

Add tomatoes, black beans, corn, and pork, bring to boil then simmer for a minutes.  Add farro before serving to warm through.

Spoon into bowls and serve with desired garnishes.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Book Report: A Bird in the Oven and Then Some

Red Quinoa, Roast Chicken Salad with Tart Apple & Fresh Basil
Most of the time when I pick up (or buy) a cookbook, I'm lucky if there are a handful of recipes that I'd actually try, so if I find one that page after page I am thinking 'Yes!', 'mmmmm', 'wish I was eating that right now', well I am pretty much resigned to adding it to my collection.

I did manage to restrain myself from buying it at retail, and instead used my accumulated Amazon points to purchase A Bird in the Oven and Then Some: 20 Ways to Roast the Perfect Chicken Plus 80 Delectable Recipes, but I didn't get as good a price as you will with this link.  (I also like that it has the "Look Inside" feature - perfect for arm chair shopping).

In preparation for another Brunty Farms CSA season, which includes 22 chickens,  I am looking for a little inspiration.  Most of the time I just brine and roast them, simply seasoned.  The first chapter has 20 different variations on the roasting theme, including Roast Chicken with Green Olives, Fennel Seeds, and Thyme, and Sweet and Spicy Korean Roast "BBQ" chicken. Doesn't Roast Chicken with Basil, Scallion, Lemon Butter and Potatoes sound good?

The next chapter features side dishes ranging from Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes with Coarse Pepper and Wispy Scallions, Roasted Cauliflower with Dry-Cured Black Olives and Parsley Leaves, to Farro with Spicy Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Feta Cheese. Yum!

The next two chapters help smaller families and singles use the inevitable leftovers from a roast chicken, or larger families use up a second chicken (it's just as easy to roast two as one).  One features salads, such as the Red Quinoa Salad with Roast Chicken, Tart Apple, Ground Pepper and Fresh Basil, pictured above, that I made today for lunch, and other delicious sounding versions including Roast Chicken Salad with Smoked Paprika Mayo, Serrano Ham, and Olives.

Not in a salad mood?  How about soup?  Maybe with Roast Chicken, Wheat Berries, Parsnips, and Kale or Thai Coconut Soup with Roast Chicken?

Pasta and Rice Dishes also merit a chapter.  I can't wait to try Perciatelli with Shredded Roast Chicken, Sweet Onions and Pancetta and Farroto with Roast Chicken and Herbs.

The final chapter is Brunch, Lunch and Dinner ideas.  How about Roasted Cherry Tomato, Chicken, Chevre and Ciabatta Breakfast Sandwich?  Or Roast Chicken and Fresh Herb Summer Rolls?

I think you get a lot of bang for your buck on this one.