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November 2015
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Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad w/ Preserved Lemon

I say “salad” as this doesn’t have near the ratio of parsley to grains as a standard tabbouleh would have. Still, the ingredient list matches up. So far I’ve only made it using the Red Quinoa available from Trader Joe’s. Gives it a nice, hearty color.

As for the preserved lemons, this is something I’ve gotten into ever since a friend with a too-small kitchen unloaded a large mason jar of them on me. I’ve since made my own following this guide. It’s really remarkably easy and they give lots of dishes a remarkably tasty flavor. Jennifer loves them.

Chimichurri Potato Salad

The quality of the potatoes from our farm share this year has been outstanding, especially the waxy, creamy red potatoes. Perfect for potato salads. We prefer vinegar based salads vs. mayonnaise, so I generally use a combination of mustard, vinegar, oil, dill, etc. Yesterday I had a beauty of an anaheim chile on hand and some fresh parsley, so I decided to try tossing the potatoes with a chimichurri sauce, which is a kind of Argentinian green sauce usually served with grilled meat. It was simply the best potato salad I’ve ever eaten.

Chimichurri Potato Salad

  • 2 lbs red potatoes
  • 1 pint green beans
  • 2 cups packed parsley leaves
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 anaheim chile, diced (optionally seeded)
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup minced shallot
  • salt & pepper to taste

Scrub the potatoes clean (or peel if you must), cut into 3/4 inch chunks, and steam for about 15 minutes or until easily pierced with a sharp knife.

Trim the green beans and break into 1 inch pieces. Blanch the beans for a few minutes. If you’re clever you can re-use the boiling water from steaming the potatoes. When done shock them in some ice water to stop the cooking and then drain.

Add the remaining ingredients to a food processor and pulse several times until the parsley is broken down and the sauce gets a good, saucey consistency. More than salsa, less than pesto.

Pour the sauce over the still-warm potatoes and the beans. Mix. Chill. Devour.

The Clam Chowder Criteria

The following set of criteria is what jjzach & I use for the purposes of clam chowder quality evaluation. This system was devised in partnership with our friends, Kelly & Erika, on the back of a napkin about a year ago.

  • Thicknocity – the viscosity/thickness of the chowder. Is it brothy? Creamy?
  • Aroma – does it give off an appealing scent?
  • Clam Content – This can hopefully be gauged by a good stir. Quality of the clams would also fall under this criterion.
  • Temperature – When served, it can be too hot as well as too cold
  • Flavor Balance – aka, predominant flavor. Is there one? Does it drown out everything else?
  • Seasoning – aka, “Zip”
  • Potato Quality – chunk size, peel on or off (this could be good or bad), mushy or firm
  • Absence of Grit – clams live in sandy muck. Proper cleaning is required. Some tasters find a modicum of grit acceptable and see it as a sign of homemade-ness.
  • X-Factor – the unexpected!
  • Digestibility – how do you feel afterwards? How about 45 minutes into the ride home in the backseat?

The origins of the Clam Chowder Criteria

These are mostly subjective measurements, of course. Some folks, for example, like their chowder thick and creamy and might rate highly a variation in which their spoon stands up in the cup. Needless to say, others would give that a very low Thicknocity score.

  • Potato Quality

Honey Garlic Chicken

Something about the smallish, red “bunching” onions that came in our farm share said, “cook me in the crockpot with some chicken”, so I improvised a sweet, garlicky dish that we ended up taking over to some friends’ for a “potluck”.

Honey Garlic Chicken

I like my chicken legs cooked long and slow so pretty much all the fat melts and the meat falls away from the bone. This goes great over boiled brown rice.

  • 1 T cracked green peppercorns
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1 t salt
  • 4 skin-on chicken legs (thigh + drumstick)
  • 1 T peanut oil
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
  • 3 T honey
  • 8-10 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 8-10 bunching onions or 16-20 pearl onions
  • 2 T chopped thai or sweet basil

Mix the salt, pepper and cinnamon. Rub the mixture between the skin and meat of the chicken legs.

Heat the oil over medium-high until just beginning to smoke. Sear the legs, skin side down first, for 3-4 minutes each side. Transfer legs to the crockpot, skin side up.

Add orange juice to the sauté pan and scrape up any browned bits. Add soy sauce and honey and stir until combined. Pour sauce over chicken.

Spread onions and garlic evenly atop and around the legs. Cover and cook on low for four hours.

Transfer chicken to a serving dish and cover or tent with foil to keep warm. Strain sauce back into the sauté pan, reserving onions and garlic, and boil until reduced by half. Add onions and garlic to serving dish. Pour reduced sauce over everything, sprinkle with the basil and serve.

CSA Spanikopita

One of the shareholders in our CSA contributed this recipe to the newsletter. I haven’t made it yet, but wanted to save it somewhere outside of my inbox. Our shares have included large quantities of greens, so I’m always looking for ways to use them up.

Spanikopita w/ Assorted Greens

This is a slightly non-traditional spanikopita pie made with assorted greens rather than just spinach.

  • 2 lbs greens (any kind you have mixed together – spinach, collard greens, swiss chard)
  • 1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 eggs
  • several sheets of phyllo dough
  • 2 Tbs butter, melted
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg

Saute the greens in a Tbs of water, covered, until wilted. Mix them with 2 eggs, feta cheese, and the nutmeg.

Butter a square baking dish (roughly 8×8) and put down a layer of phyllo dough. Lightly butter each layer of phyllo – if you are using standard thin phyllo put down about 5 layers on the bottom. Put in the green and feta mixture and then put several layers of phyllo on for the top “crust”, lightly buttering each layer as you go.

Bake at 375 for about 30 – 45 minutes or until phyllo dough is golden brown.

Michael Pollan at the BPL

Tonight I got to attend a “lecture” and book signing by Michael Pollan at the West Roxbury branch of the BPL. I’m a major fanboy so this was a pretty big treat. He spoke for about 30 minutes and then answered some questions. Unfortunately, questions had to be submitted on index cards prior to the talk–which, btw, seems like a guaranteed method for increasing the triviality of the questions–and I somehow didn’t get an index card. I tried asking while he signed my copy of In Defense of Food, but I quickly got swarmed and shooed away by the hovering organizers for holding up the line. Here’s what I would like to have asked:

My town, Lexington, MA, has just recently entered in agreement to purchase Busa Farm a family farm consisting of several acres. This land has been productive farmland for 300+ years. The town is now going to begin a long process to decide what to do with this land (with some restrictions due to the money for the purchase coming from CPA funds). In your experience what are the most effective arguments we can use to convince the town and town government that local farmland is more valuable and will provide more benefit to the town than the competing interests, such as ball fields, playgrounds and affordable housing?

So that’s what I really wanted to hear Pollan respond to, but oh well. And, yeah, I’ve spent the past few weeks going to town meetings and trying to help organize a group to save this farm. That’s going to be a later, longer post though.

Oven-smoked Spareribs

Oven-Smoked Spareribs

I didn’t really change anything from the original Cook’s Illustrated (January, 2006) recipe. They used Lapsang Souchong tea, which apparently has a very smoky flavor. I didn’t feel like making a special trip to the supermarket, so I ended up using whatever chinese black tea blend I had on hand. In the end, none of us noticed a strong flavor of smoke or tea. It totally didn’t matter because the ribs were awesome regardless.

stuff you need
  • pizza stone
  • large baking sheet
  • raised wire rack (like you’d use to cool cookies or bread)
for the wet rub
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard
  • 2 T ketchup
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 T paprika
  • 1/4 – 1/2 t cayenne, depending on heat preference
  • 1 T salt
  • 3 T brown sugar
the rest
  • 4 racks of spareribs (about 2 lbs)
  • 1/3-1/2 cup loose, black tea, preferably Lapsang Souchong
  • 1/2 cup apple juice

Mix the wet rub ingredients and slather all over the ribs. Make a stack of the rib racks and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight. Before cooking, transfer the ribs to the freezer for 45 minutes. This is to chill them enough so that the initial 30 minutes at 500°, necessary to get the tea smoke going, doesn’t cook them too fast. (I don’t make this stuff up, folks; I just do what CI tells me.)

Put pizza stone on the lowest oven rack possible. Heat oven to 500°.

Grind tea into powder in a spice grinder or mortar & pestle. Line the bottom of a large baking sheet with foil. Spread the tea powder over the bottom of the pan. Set a wire rack in the pan. Arrange rib racks on rack preferably so that air can flow in and around them. Cover the entire pan with another sheet of foil and crimp the edges tight. I put an upside-down ramekin under the foil cover in the middle of the rack to help with the tenting.

Place the pan on top of the pizza stone and cook for 25 minutes. Then lower heat to 250°. Open up a corner of the foil cover and pour in the apple juice. Reseal. Cook for another 1.5 hours.

Finally, finish them off under the broiler for a few minutes a side to crisp up the outside.

Homemade Meatball Sub

Meatball Sub

I had some leftover meatballs from making this on Sunday night.

Meatballs were according to the recipe except I’m limited to the meat we get from our CSA so mine were made with Lamb & Pork.

Five-Spice Crockpot Pork Roast

The basis of this recipe came from something in the Boston Globe Mag a few weeks ago. I tweaked in two basic ways:

  1. I didn’t have any Chinese 5-spice powder so I improvised my own
  2. I did it in the crockpot because it was a weekday and I don’t have four hours to cook on Monday nights.

Five-Spice Pork Roast

For the rub:

  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
  • 2 tsp salt

Everything else:

  • 1 4 lb pork roast
  • 2 T canola oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 5 T brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup homemade chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup good lager beer
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup

Toast the spice seeds and then grind the spices together somehow (spice grinder, mortar & pestle). Rub all but a tablespoon of the spice blend all over the pork. You can wrap in plastic and let set overnight in the fridge if you like. The original recipe says to tie up the roast to keep it from falling apart, but mine didn’t and I wouldn’t have minded anyway.

Heat the oil in a skillet over med-high. Brown the pork on all sides and then place in the slow cooker crock. Turn heat down to medium, add the garlic to the pan and saute just until fragrant. Add the broth and beer to the pan and stir/scrape to get the yummy browned bits of fond. Pour all this into the slow cooker, set on low and go to your 9-5 job.

Back from work? Excellent. Preheat the oven to 450. Whisk together the soy sauce, ketchup, brown sugar and the rest of the spice mixture. Line a baking sheet with foil. Pull the roast out carefully (I use a big flat skimmer thing) and place it on the foil. Brush the ketchup glaze mixture over the top and pop in the oven for 12-15 minutes. Meanwhile, strain the drippings and skim off as much fat as you can. Mix in the remaining glaze and reduce in a saucepan about half-way.

Moroccan Carrot/Kohlrabi Salad | Boston Globe

It’s taken me awhile to warm up to kohlrabi. I’ve cooked it a few times in the past year, always because it’s been part of the farm share. If there is such a thing as a mental “image” of what something tastes like, I still don’t really have one for kohlrabi, but I now have a favorite way to prepare it.

Moroccan Carrot/Kohlrabi Salad

  • 2 medium kohlrabi, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 5-6 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch sections
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 2 T fresh lemon juice
  • 2 T minced parsley
  • salt & pepper to taste

Place the carrots and kohlrabi in a saucepan w/ enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and then let them cook for ~10 minutes. You’re looking for not crunchy but still firm here.

Drain the veggies really well. Toss with the olive oil to coat. Then add the spices, the lemon juice and the parsley, in that order, tossing each time. The original recipe said to let stand for an hour, but we were too hungry. I also halved the spice measurements when I did it; our carrots are fresh from the garden and too tasty to drown them in other flavors.