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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Braised Short Ribs

Yesterday a friend posted a recipe for soy-braised short ribs with mushrooms.  It sounded really good and I asked for the recipe.  Well, I have filed that recipe because it still looks really good to me, but today, I decided that I wanted to make a ragu with the ribs and got the idea that using marinara and red wine might produce a great ragu.  I am going to give my CSA, Middleton Farms, credit for the ribs even though I don't get a meat share, because I bought the ribs from them at the farmers market.  I used a Classico 4-cheese marinara, but next time, I probably will make my own as we will be getting tomatoes very soon in our Harvest Share.

Braised Short-Rib Ragu
  • 2.5 lbs beef short ribs*
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 jar (or 4 cups) marinara sauce
  • 8 cloves garlic*, crushed
  • 2 cups red wine (I used Ruffino Il Leo Chianti)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Season the short ribs with salt and pepper.

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.

Brown the short ribs in batches (about 5 minutes per batch)

Add the garlic cloves, Donatella’s Marinara Sauce, and the red wine (enough so the meat is just covered).

Bring to a simmer on the stove-top then braise in the preheated oven until the meat is very tender, about 2 ½ – 3 hours.  Pull meat from bones and shred.

Serve over rice, pasta, spaghetti squash or zucchini "noodles".

*CSA ingredients

Nutrition (1/2 cup serving)
Calories, 221
Fat 13g
Carbs 8g
Protein 13g

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Spanish Rice Soup

There are certain vegetables that you get in surplus every year from your CSA.  As you can imagine, zucchini and summer squash are a couple.  What surprises me about our CSA is that there hasn't been an excess of greens.  We have had the greens attached to root vegetables (which is just fine with me if it means beet greens), however, other than some random kale, this CSA doesn't seem to go in for the greens.  I will say that I am grateful for that because, as much as I have grown to like greens, after a while, you run out of ideas. This year, it appears that the squash and zucchini will be the vegetable that I run out of ideas for.

To use up some of the squash, as well as fresh green beans and peas, that I received, I decided to make a chicken vegetable soup.  Yes, I do cheat and buy rotisserie chicken to use in things like this.  For the price, you can't beat pre-cooked whole chickens!  However, when the soup cooked, it was nice but not very hearty.  I figured I would take a look at my past stash and see what I could add to thicken it up.  I ran across a package of Lipton Spanish Rice and decided, hmmm, this might be nice.  Thus, Spanish rice soup was born.  Very hearty and tasty, I think I will have to freeze some of this because a small amount is enough to fill me up!

Spanish Rice Soup
  • 1 small green zucchini*
  • 1 small yellow zucchini*
  • 1 small crookneck squash*
  • 1/2 cup shelled fresh peas*
  • 1 1/2 cup green beans, snapped*
  • 4 cans tomatoes with basil & oregano
  • 2 cans water
  • 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 1 package Lipton Spanish Rice
Wash vegetables and drain.  Cut ends off squashes, cut in half lengthwise, then slice into 1/4 inch pieces.  Shell the peas and snap the beans into 1 inch pieces.  Place all the vegetables, tomatoes (undrained), water and chicken into crock of slow cooker.  Cook on HIGH for 1 hour and then reduce to LOW and cook 6-8 hours or until vegetables are cooked.  Turn cooker back to HIGH.  Add rice mix and cook for about 40 minutes or until rice is cooked.

*CSA ingredients

Nutrition (1 cup):
Calories, 190
Fat, 2.3g
Cholesterol, 15mg
Carbs, 34g
Protein, 9g

Leeks and Beet Greens

I was looking through my stock of produce trying to figure out what use in this weeks quiche and realized that I had a few leeks and some more beet greens to use up.  Leeks are interesting to me because I am not much of an onion person and for years never wanted to even try them.  But then someone taught me the proper way to use them (may have been Alton Brown or some online cooking show, who knows?) and ever since then, I have bought them when they looked beautiful or taken advantage of them when available from the CSA.  The term I have often heard in conjunction with cooking leeks is "melting" and there is a reason they call it that.  These vegetables, which have a flavor reminiscent of garlic and chives, when cooked properly, do sort of "melt".  They become rather creamy and beautiful!

I decided that leeks and beet greens, with the contrast of garlic and chives and the sweetness of the beet greens would make a lovely combination for my quiche today.  Unfortunately, I was out of Swiss cheese, so I had to settle for sharp cheddar, but then I decided that sharpness would only add to the flavor profile.  Finally, I took some fresh basil from my garden and chiffonaded it and put it on top before baking the quiche.  There is a danger that the basil will turn blackish as it cooks (why you shouldn't add fresh basil to your tomato sauce until the very end), but I thought that the flavor would heighten the flavor profile.  And besides, when you have fresh basil available, why not use it?

Leek and Beet Green Quiche
  • 3 small leeks*
  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 small bunch beet greens, stems removed*
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar
  • 5 farm fresh eggs*
  • 1 1/4 cups 1/2% milk
  • salt & pepper
  • 6 basil leaves**
Cut leaves and roots off the leeks leaving only white and light green portions.  Slice leeks in half and rinse to remove sand; drain well.  Slice leeks to 1/4 inch slices; set aside.  Wash and drain the beet greens; set aside.  Wash and drain the basil leaves; set aside.

 Preheat oven to 350F.  Heat olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat until the butter starts to bubble.  Add the leeks and saute, stirring frequently, until they start to "melt" (this is fairly easy to see as the texture seems to change).  Tear the beet greens into bite-sized pieces and add to skillet.  Cook until the greens wilt and most of the water is evaporated.  Place these vegetables into your prepared baking dish.

Beat eggs until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper, then add the milk and mix until completely smooth.  Pour eggs over the vegetables.  Sprinkle with shredded cheddar.  Roll the basil leaves and slice very thinly (known as chiffonade).  Sprinkle the chiffonaded basil over entire quiche.  Bake for 35 minutes or until knife, inserted into center, comes out clean.  Allow to set for 5 minutes before serving.

*CSA ingredients
**Farmers market ingredients

Nutrition (1/8 quiche)
Calories        136
Fat                    9g
Cholesterol   131mg
Sodium         162mg
Potassium     159mg
Carbs                6g
Protein              8g

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Bread & Butter Pickles

They had some beautiful pickle cukes at the Saginaw farmers market this week, so I bought some with the intention of making refrigerator pickles.  As I was looking in my cupboard for vinegar, I realized I only had cider vinegar, which they don't recommend for regular pickles because it can discolor the pickles.  So, I searched refrigerator pickle recipes using cider vinegar and was reminded that I love bread and butter pickles, but had never tried to make them.  Thus, the recipe today.  As I was looking through my spice stash, I realized that while I did have mustard seed, I didn't have celery seed.  I did, however, have cumin seed and decided to see what would happen if I substituted.  I chose to use about half the amount and now that they have marinated some, I am glad I made that decision.  While it doesn't taste bad, it is different, and it could have been a little overwhelming.

Refrigerator Bread & Butter Pickles
  • 8 pickle cucumbers**
  • 1 medium candy onion**
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1.5 tsp yellow mustard seed
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seed (recipe recommended celery seed)
  • 1/8 tsp tumeric
Wash and thinly slice cucumbers.  Thinly slice onion and mix with cucumbers.  Mix remaining ingredients in medium bowl until sugar is dissolved.  Pour over vegetables and mix well.  Refrigerate stirring once a day for about 10 days.  Will keep in refrigerator for about a month.

**Farmers market ingredients

Dutch Baby

The nice thing about having herbs growing in my flower box and all this wonderful produce around are all the possibilities.  This morning, I wanted to do something a little different for breakfast.  It's been a number of years since I have made a German pancake and since I now have a cast iron skillet, it was time to give it a try.  I always forget how easy they are to make. 

The last time I made one of these, it was a sweet apple pancake.  But at some point in time, we had gone out to breakfast and had a savory version that I really enjoyed.  So, this morning, I decided to make a savory one myself.  I need to use up some of the basil I've been growing (the plants are probably 3 times bigger than they were when I planted them).  And I have a bunch of beet greens to use up as well.  Combined with sharp cheddar, I was hoping for a very tasty combination.  I was not wrong! As an added bonus, I used almond flour, so this is a gluten-free dish.  I will have to pass it along to my uncle who is allergic to gluten.

Savory Dutch Baby Pancake
  • 1/2 C unsalted butter, sliced
  • 3/4 C almond flour
  • 3/4 C skim milk
  • 3 large farm-fresh eggs*
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 handful beet greens*
  • 1 heaping Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 2/3 C sharp cheddar
Place cast iron skillet into oven and preheat oven to 425F.

Wash and dry basil and beet greens.  Chiffonade the basil and cut beet greens into bite sized pieces.  Set aside.

Blend eggs in a blender.  Add flour, milk and salt and process until very smooth.  Scrape down sides, if needed, until all flour is incorporated.  Add basil and greens and pulse until incorporated (do not worry about chopping, the pieces are fine).

Place butter into skillet and return to oven until melted.  Pour pancake mixture into hot pan and sprinkle with cheese.  Bake about 15 minutes or until edges are browned and the center is set.  Remove from oven and allow to further set 5 minutes before serving.  Makes 2-4 servings.

*CSA ingredients

Friday, July 11, 2014

Simply Broccoli!

There are times when you just begin craving things and nothing will do until you fill that craving.  For me, that craving happens to be broccoli and eggs.  I know, how weird is that?  But it all started about 2 years after I started doing my postdoctoral studies at Case Western Reserve University.  I don't remember if that is when Bon Apetit took over the food serve at the school or if it was just a fluke, but they started making this breakfast sandwich that was simply eggs broccoli and cheese on an English muffin.  It was the tastiest breakfast sandwich I had ever had and I would hate to try and estimate how many of them I had that year.  It taught me how much I LOVE vegetables, and most specifically broccoli, for breakfast. 

But alas, all good things had to come to an end and after that year, they never made that sandwich again.  I suppose that is part of the reason I started to play around with making quiches.  With all the beautiful produce that I always had available through the CSA, it seemed a shame not to enjoy some of it for breakfast.  Last Saturday, at the farmers market, vendors started bringing in broccoli.  Because I didn't know what to anticipate for the CSA, I resisted picking any of it up.  Well, Amy, one of my colleagues at work, and I decided to find an excuse to escape our offices and go to the farmers market near campus on Thursday and I couldn't resist any longer.  And it turns out that there was not any broccoli at the CSA, so I don't feel guilty at all.  This morning, I took half the head of broccoli, steamed it, and put it together for this week's quiche.  I thought about using one of my candy onions or leeks that I picked up from my CSA, but then, I decided I just really wanted the broccoli and eggs (and cheese, of course).  So, today's quiche is very simple, but satisfying!

Broccoli & Cheddar Quiche
  • 1/2 head farm-fresh broccoli**
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar
  • 6 farm-fresh eggs*
  • 1 1/2 cups skim milk
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, to taste
Preheat oven to 350F.

Wash the broccoli and chop the florets into bite-sized pieces.  Place in a covered glass bowl with about 1/4" water.  Cover and microwave for about 4 minutes, or until the florets are bright green.  Place broccoli in bottom of prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.

In a medium bowl, beat eggs with milk and seasonings until very smooth.  Carefully pour over the fillings.  Bake for 35 minutes or until knife inserted into center comes out clean.  Allow to set for 5 minutes before serving.

*CSA ingredients
**Farmers market ingredients

Calories       132.8
Fat                   8.4g
Cholesterol  155.4mg
Carbs               4.0g
Protein           10.5g

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Beet greens and Quinoa

I decided to do something a bit different with my quiche this week.  At the farmers market, they had beets with the most beautiful green tops I have seen in a long time.  Beet greens are my preferred green because they have a unique flavor that is very subtle, but nice.  I have wanted to try and come up with a crust for my quiches because sometimes they come out quite liquid-y depending on what vegetables are in the quiche.  I believe the reason you have a crust is to absorb some of that off-liquid.  So, this morning, I decided to try and make a crust out of quinoa.  The reason that I chose quinoa is because the grain stays compact and has 4 grams protein per serving.  These are useful qualities for a person who has had gastric surgery.  You have to put together the crust and bake it.  Then once done baking, you fill the crust with your fillings and bake the quiche.  Today's quiche will have caramelized candy onions, Michigan ham and beet greens and stems.  To finish the flavor profile off, I have a nice aged Swiss cheese.

Beet Green and Ham Quiche with Quinoa Crust

Quinoa Crust
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 large farm-fresh egg*
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 medium candy onion**, sliced
  • 1 small bunch of beet greens and stems**
  • 1 cup Michigan ham, diced
  • 2 oz aged Swiss cheese, thinly sliced
  • 5 farm-fresh eggs*
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (I didn't have fresh garlic)
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400F.  To make crust, cook quinoa as directed (I chose to use the microwave).  Beat egg; then mix quinoa, cheese and eggs completely.  Press into the bottom of prepared pie plate.  Bake for 15 minutes or until edges brown. Remove from oven.

Reduce oven to 350F.

Thinly slice the onions, set aside.  Wash and dry the beet greens and stems.  Separate stems from leaves.  Cut stems into 1/2" pieces.  Stack leaves and roll up; cut into 1/2" pieces.  Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and mix well.  Cook until just translucent, then reduce the heat to med-low.  Cook, stirring frequently, until onions begin to caramelize.  Add stems and ham to pan and continue cooking until stems start to become soft.  Add leaves and mix well.  Cover and cook until greens just begin to wilt (about 5 minutes).  Cover and set aside allowing mixture to steam for about 10 minutes.

 In a medium bowl, beat eggs.  Season with garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Pour in milk and beat until completely smooth.

To assemble, place fillings into crust.  Layer with thinly sliced Swiss.  Pour egg mixture over fillings.  Bake for 30 minutes or until knife, inserted into center, comes out clean.  Allow to set for 5 minutes before serving.

*CSA ingredients
**Farmers market ingredients

Nutritional information (1/6 quiche):
Calories                                 279
Total Fat                                  14
Cholesterol                            194
Carbohydrates                         21
    Fiber                                      3
    Sugar                                     2
Protein                                     18