Sunday, February 26, 2012

Updates and Hiatus

Today, I will start with a suggestion to all my email sign-ups and direct-feed readers:  If you haven't been to main page of Feast Everyday in a while, you might want to check it out.  I have been updating the look, now that it's three years old. 
Another tidbit to share:   I have made some nice blog cards to hand out to newcomers, using a great new resource, Moo. http://us.moo.com/.  They have a service that allows you to print one side with your contact information, and the other side with a different design or photograph on every single card.  It's called Prinfinity.  I designed the front, uploaded about 50 food images I've taken for the blog, and had them in hand in less than 10 days.  And they are very reasonably priced, too!

The cards have been a hit.  I have had to reorder already, and have found several new contributors and food connections through sharing them.  In fact, I liked the Moo cards so much that I also made some to hand out for my upcoming photography exhibit at the Arnot Art Museum, called The Observer, which opens March 9.

It's going to be a busy time, so I will be taking a break from food blogging to get my artwork ready.

Meanwhile, please enjoy browsing the previous recipes and stories here on the blog.   

Be back soon! 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Hydroponic Salad Greens and Windowsill Tomatoes

Hydroponic Greens with Windowsill Tomatoes
The other day we passed the Finger Lakes Fresh green house outside Ithaca.  It was lit up with lots of goodness growing inside.  My mouth started to water, and I was reminded me of this post, which you may have missed the first time around. 

I still make it through the winter this way.  Since 2010 I have learned that Wegman's Super Sweet Cherry Tomatoes are much better than the grape tomatoes, plus we found a tub of prewashed greens, called Lamb's Lettuce with herbs, that is almost as good as Finger Lakes Fresh for the days when I feel lazy and don't want to wash and spin.    --B 

Originally posted April 12, 2010:

I crave a good salad all winter long until the farmer's markets are open again.  I work on ways to attempt to get that summer fix using store-bought ingredients.
I have discovered hydroponic greens --- they are fabulous!  These are made locally and a support a good cause to boot!  Finger Lakes Fresh is in Ithaca and employees 18 disabled people.  It is a division of Challenge Industries.

They are sold in Wegman's --- but not where you would expect.  They aren't with the prepackaged, bagged lettuces.  They are here in the regular lettuce department, buried on the bottom row. 

You have to look for them.  Lousy location, but definitely a find!!!  They are 2.99 vs. 2.49 for a bag of prepacked lettuce. But think about the good cause you are supporting.  And it seems like you get more greens.  I feel good about spending the extra 50 cents. They will stay fresh in their bag, in the crisper for a week.

Yes, you do have wash and spin, so they aren't quite as convenient as the bagged ones.  But these greens are crisp, yet delicate!! It is worth it. They haven't been washed in an acid bath like the bagged ones.

If you want to learn more about Finger Lakes Fresh or how hydroponic greens are grown, they have a video on their website. Cornell is involved, and you may have seen the FLF greenhouses when you drive north out of Ithaca. 

Also, I have learned that I can slowly ripen grape tomatoes on my windowsill .  It takes weeks --- sometimes I let them go for a month-- to develop sweetness.  I add new tubs so I always have ripe tomatoes.  Small tomatoes work the best.

I am just using an air drying technique.  My containers have good ventilation and the window is on the north side of the house, so it is weak light.  Anyway, it is magic!! I love these tomatoes.

One the college girls who used to work for me making jewelry, and who is a health food nut, was shocked that I would leave the tomatoes out for so long.  She'd work for me during her college breaks.  She came back months later and saw the tomatoes, now shriveled like raisins, and finally questioned me.  What is that all about???

Shriveled sweetness was my answer. 

fyi  -- I never put my tomatoes in the refrigerator -- I don't know if it is the right thing to do or not, but I just can't stand cold tomatoes in a salad. I particularly don't like restaurants to serve cold tomatoes.  Made-in-advance, refrigerated salads turn me off.  I'd be a picky restaurant reviewer.   

But a salad from Finger Lake Fresh greens and windowsill tomatoes turns me on.  Especially when it is dressed with a simple vinaigrette of good olive oil, vinegar and salt and pepper. 

I am hoping that our Wegman's will add the Finger Lakes Fresh arugula, and eventually, their spinach, too.  And I hear that Wegman's has hydroponic tomatoes in some of their stores, too.  Sarah said she bought hydroponic yellow tomatoes in Buffalo at her Weggies, and they were the talk of the dinner when she served them in her salad.

B

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Greatest Winter Soup of All Time by Carl H.

Minestra alla Cenerentola (Cinderella)

Please welcome back, Carl H., who sent in this delicious soup recipe.  Tom and I made it over the weekend and have provided photos to go along with Carl's directions.  --B

Thank you for the lovely response. I am so complimented that you actually tried it [see Carl's brussel sprouts recipe] and, rather obviously, pleased that it came out well.

So.................................I am going to give you the greatest winter soup of all time. It is called Menestre or something like that. Not sure of the spelling, but unmistakably Italian. This is one of those soups that starts out ugly and ends up beautiful. It is great on day one and even better on days two and three.

Cold, blustery winter night. A big hunk of crusty Italian bread, a glass of red wine and this bold soup. To die for.
--Carl H.


Minestra alla Cenerentola (Cinderella)

2 heads escarole or two bags prewashed
3 cans of cannellini
1 pound pepperoni
1 large onion
garlic
Italian herbs (basil or the like)
Gently saute in 1 tbs. olive oil 1 lb. of sliced pepperoni and one large,  coarsely chopped onion for about five minutes.

Add 3 cloves of coarsely diced garlic (or 2 for the meek or 1 for the faint of heart) and saute with the pepperoni and onion an additional minute. Give it a stir, remove from  heat and set aside.

Chop into three inch horizontal strips two heads of escarole (thoroughly washed and drained). Put the escarole into a 5 qt. soup pot together with  8  cups of cold water. Because it is so bulky, it will likely come up to the top of the pot. Cover and bring to a slow boil over medium heat.

Trust  me, the escarole will reduce a whole lot.

Meanwhile, puree two cans (usually 15.5 oz) of white cannellini beans.  Hold a third can in reserve.

Now, put the puree into the escarole and its cooking water. Then add the can of whole cannelli.
Then add the pepperoni/onion mixture together with its oils.

Meld together and simmer uncovered on low heat for 2 hours. It will reduce and thicken as it simmers.

Already has plenty of salt. You can add any additional spices that pique your Italian fancy.

To die for.

   --Carl

Monday, February 20, 2012

Feasting on Flowers

Spring Thoughts
Sometimes it's a bunch of tulips from the grocery store, like these ruffled beauties, that makes everyday feel special. 

Worth every penny of the $7 they cost.  We are many weeks away from real tulips in the garden, but I can almost feel the warm sunshine and smell the soil starting to thaw, when I look at these tulips on the mantel. 

B

Friday, February 17, 2012

Reprise: Graduate School Chicken by Tom

In case you missed Tom's Graduate School Chicken recipe the first time around, I am re-posting his blog entry from November 10, 2009. 

Thanks for being guest blogger again, Tom. Love it when you cook for us! --B

Last Sunday, the kids and one of the grand kids came over for dinner, and we needed something easy and "kid friendly". When I was in graduate school I used to cook a simple chicken and rice recipe that my mother had given me because I had a finicky eater in the house I was living in, and he actually liked this! I had not made it in years, but thought it would be easy to do.

The ingredients are simple. Boneless chicken breasts and thighs. Brown rice, although any rice will work (except minute rice!!), chicken stock, and dried thyme. That's it!

I first covered the bottom of a 13"x9"x2" Pyrex baking dish with the brown rice (about 2 cups).


Next I arranged the chicken on top of the rice. I used 6 thighs and 2 breast.

Next I added ~4 cups of chicken broth (2 cups of broth for each cup of rice), and generously sprinkled on the dried thyme (about 1 tablespoon) to cover the chicken and some into the broth.


I preheated the oven to 375 degrees, covered the dish in aluminum foil, and baked in the 375 degree oven for 1 hour 15 minutes. My rule of thumb is whatever the packaged rice cook time is, add 30 minutes to the baking time to insure both the rice and chicken are completely cooked.

It is finished when all of the liquid is absorbed by the rice. The chicken comes out nice and tender, especially the thighs.

We served with steamed broccoli, and everyone enjoyed my simple chicken and rice recipe.

---Tom

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Retirement Chicken by Tom

Retirement Chicken

Previously I posted a recipe that I had made when I was in graduate school, which aptly was named "Graduate School Chicken". It was a one dish meal that was easy to make, cheap and tasty to eat.

Now that I am retired, I needed another one-dish meal with chicken that again would be easy to make and tasty to eat. Hence the newly named "Retirement Chicken".

Because I served it over rice, it is actually a two dish meal, but that is just a small technicality. I have now made it twice and both times to rave reviews, so this is definitely a keeper. Prep time is short and the cooking time is roughly the same time it takes to make the rice.

Give it a try. You don't have to be retired to make it!

Retirement Chicken
(adapted very broadly from a recipe I found in the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que cookbook )

Ingredients
1 1/2# chicken thighs
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 small bunch of scallions, sliced including a bunch of the green part
1 cup or so chicken broth
1 cup or so barbeque sauce - any variety that you enjoy will work - I used a sweet and saucy one we had received from Colorado
1 1/2 tablespoons Turkish seasoning - this is probably a spice not in your spice rack. So use paprika, oregano and chili powder in one-third proportions
1 cup sour cream
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
rice of any variety that the chicken concoction is served over



Chop up the onion and scallions.
In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and brown the chicken thighs for about 3 minutes a side.


Transfer the browned chicken breasts to a plate when browned.

Next saute the onion and scallions until they are soft. Then add the chopped garlic and saute for an additional minute.

Add the chicken thighs back into the skillet along with any juices from the plate.

Now add the chicken broth, the barbeque sauce and the Turkish spice (or spice mixture). Bring back to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile prepare the rice and a vegetable. In this meal I served the Retirement Chicken with Hayden's Sprouts, which starts with a tightly covered baking sheet loaded with Brussels sprout halves.

Roast brussels sprouts at 500 degrees, covered for 10 minutes, then uncovered for another 10 minutes.  Brussel sprouts were lightly coated with olive oil, 1 T. of water, salt and pepper, spread out in a single layer and covered with aluminum foil prior to roasting.

About 5 minutes before serving, stir in the sour cream to just warm it up. The sour cream adds a rich texture to the dish.

All stirred up and heating through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

The finished Hayden's Sprouts after the final roasting step. Even if you are not a fan of Brussels sprouts, you will like these.

Spoon the rice onto the plate and heap a generous portion of the chicken thighs and liquid mixture over the rice. Add the vegetable and you have a meal.

Retirement Chicken...it's not just for retirees!

     --Tom

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hayden Sprouts

Hayden Sprouts

Note from B:  Received this nice note and great recipe in the mail this morning from Carl H., so we made his Hayden Sprouts for dinner tonight.  They were excellent!  Highly recommend you try this technique!

Barb:

Wonderful to see you and Tom at the Cuse* yesterday. It was so exciting that you got to make a star turn that same morning in the local rag.** It was my first inkling of your not-so-secret second life. Please excuse my ignorance.

I mentioned a remarkable recipe for brussel sprouts. It has become a staple at our house. It is insanely simple, but scary because it takes great trust to cook any vegetable at 500 degrees. And, of course, it is something I cribbed, not something I created. Plaudits go the Nov/Dec 2011 issue of Cook's Illustrated.

In short, here's the deal:

Halve along the long axis (not crosswise) 2-2.5 lbs of brussel sprouts (try to select spouts of similar size @ 1.5 inches long). The outer leaves should fall off in the process, but trim enough to get to the fresh and firm leaves. Toss the sprouts in a large bowl with 3 tbs. olive oil, 1 tbs. water, salt and pepper until all are well coated. Transfer to a rimmed, non-stick baking sheet, flat-side down. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and roast for 10 minutes. Remove foil and continue to cook 10-12 minutes longer until the sprouts are tender and browned. Season to taste. Done.

BTW, without going into an extended explanation, the secret is the tablespoon of water.

Hope you like it.

All the best,

Carl

Footnotes by B:
[Syracuse vs. Connecticut Basketball game]
** [The Star - Gazette had a front page article on supporting local foods yesterday, and I was quoted.]

Friday, February 10, 2012

Feast Favs: Gingered Butternut Squash Soup

Healthy Gingered Butternut Squash Soup

Note from B:  This recipe was originally posted, January 22, 2009.  I am posting it again for Jo, as she says this is one of the recipes she makes from the first year of Feast Everday.

This easy, healthy soup is a good way to get some veggies without many calories. It's a Bob Greene (Oprah's trainer) recipe which uses low fat evaporated milk vs. half'n'half. That's a good substitution to know. And worth the minimal loss in taste and texture to make soups lighter.


We make it frequently -usually with butternut squash, but yesterday I could only get Delicata in the precut veggie section.

Gingered Butternut Squash Soup
pg. 124, from one of Bob Greene's books-- I copied the recipe but must have given the book away...

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion ( I use a big one)
1 butternut squash, peeled and diced (I use 2 packages of precut squash -- today it was Delicata)
1 knob of fresh ginger, about 1 inch long and finely chopped ( I grate it --- it's easier)
1 small carrot, peeled and chopped (don't omit; from experience, this recipe needs it)
6 cups low-fat, low-salt chicken stock (add more if needed to cover the squash)
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup 1 percent milk or evaporated skim milk ( I use 1 can of 2% evaporated or non fat evaporated)
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp. nutmeg, or to taste, freshly ground, if possible
chopped chives or scallions for garnish(I use cilantro)

In a soup pot over medium-high heat, place the olive oil and onion. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are softened. Add the squash, ginger, carrot, chicken stock, and bay leaf. Cover and simmer until all the vegetables are soft, about 1/2 hour. Puree the soup in batches in a blender (or with a hand blender). Thin the soup with the milk and season to tasted with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Garnish, if desired.



B

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Texas Caviar by Marty E.

Scooping up some of Marty E.'s Texas Caviar

Marty E., a new blog contributor, brought this dish to the Super Bowl party and several people asked for the recipe.
"This was my first time with this recipe. I added a little more garlic than called for. Also used Ken's Steakhouse Italian with aged Romano dressing. Glad you liked it! " -- Marty

Texas Caviar is a make-ahead, marinated spicy black-eyed pea salad, popularized by Helen Corbitt, the 1950's food consultant and cookbook author, who directed food service at Neiman Marcus in Dallas, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Texas Caviar
(from AllRecipes.com)

1/2 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 (8 ounce) bottle zesty Italian dressing
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 bunch chopped fresh cilantro

In a large bowl, mix together onion, green bell pepper, green onions, jalapeno peppers, garlic, cherry tomatoes, zesty Italian dressing, black beans, black-eyed peas and coriander. Cover and chill in the refrigerator approximately 2 hours. Toss with desired amount of fresh cilantro to serve.

                         ---Marty E.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Pad Thai - Super Bowl Sized

home-style Pad Thai to take to a Super Bowl Party

This is a home-style version of the popular Thai restaurant classic, Pad Thai.  We made it for a Super Bowl party yesterday, and it passed muster, so I thought I'd pass along the recipe.

It's not hard to make, but it does use a lot of ingredients.  It took a total of about 35 minutes to make it, including soaking the noodles and getting everything washed, cut up, measured and staged for stir-frying. 


Pad Thai
(adapted from home-style by Ivy Vann)

Serves 8 -10

1 lb. thin rice sticks (rice noodles --look in the Thai section)
2/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup fish sauce
2 T. brown sugar
3 T. toasted sesame oil
2 t. chili powder
1/2 to 1 t. crushed red peppers
2 T. vegetable oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. fresh shrimp or defrosted frozen, deveined and shelled
(you can use extra firm tofu instead. Be sure to drain well, and cut into bite sizes)
6 eggs
12 scallions
1/2 lb. (8 ounces) mung bean sprouts
6 T. fresh cilantro, chopped
1.5 to 2 cups toasted peanuts
2 limes, sliced into wedges

Important:  give yourself enough time to soak the noodles, at least 1/2 hour, and be sure to use HOT tap water.  We used stick noodles.

Soak noodles per the package directions.  Takes 25 - 30 minutes which gives you time to get everything ready.

I highly recommend  that you get everything ready in advance. Rinse shrimp and pat dry.  Toast peanuts.  ( I like to use the toaster oven.)  Dice scallions, both green and white sections, very fine, and set aside. Crack eggs into a small bowl, and have ready.

Combine chili powder, peppers, vinegar, sugar, sesame oil an fish sauce in a medium size bowl. 

Drain the noodles so they are ready, too.

Now it is time to cook.  Be sure your pan is big enough from the get go.

Heat oil in heavy skillet. 
Add shrimp, one layer and let it begin to turn pink, then turn them all over.  Add the garlic. 

Continue to cook until the shrimp are pink, but not overcooked. 

Add eggs to the pan, and cook, stirring constantly, just until they begin to set.

Look at how pretty the shrimp and eggs look together!

Add drained noodles and stir-fry for 1 minute.  Noodles will soften and absorb the egg mixture.

 Add sesame oil mixture,

bean sprouts,

and scallions,

and stir-fry for  1 minute. 
Transfer to a large bowl or platter, and top with toasted peanuts and cilantro.  Serve with lime wedges and squeeze over the dish.  Don't skip the limes, they add a lot of brightness to the dish.

Since we were off to a Super Bowl party, we packed ours up in a thermal bag for transportation.

The recipe can easily be cut in half for 4 to 6, or in thirds as a meal for two.

Hope you will try it!

B