Tuesday, August 31, 2010


In my experience, coleslaw is often kind of soggy, dripping in mayonnaise. Sometimes it is even sweet, which, to me, seems kind of inappropriate for cabbage and carrots. Well, as the CSA has a habit of doing, it motivated me to take a nice fresh look at these ideas, because, frankly, I have cabbage and carrots coming out my ears.

Happily, Vegetable Love came through in the nick of time, providing a fresh dressing with a bite, which just barely skims across the surface of the many crispy bits of vegetables that it resides with in the bowl so nicely. I made this recipe earlier this summer, and just realized that I was actually craving it again! Round two has come out just as delightfully as round one, did.

Here's the recipe, halved, with my edits and alterations. I find this to be plenty of coleslaw for one person to consume without getting tired of it, but if you were attending a big picnic, I'd at least double it back to the original recipe (vegetable mix AND dressing).

Crisp Slaw (the recipe name is ever so appropriate here!)

Mix together:
green or red cabbage, cored and finely shredded (about 2 cups)
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1-3 carrots, peeled and grated (about 1/2 cup)

Combine and add:
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp celery seeds
1/8 tsp mustard seeds

Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving - the leftovers get more flavorful with time, and the salad lasts just fine up to about a week.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Epic Sandwich

I am fortunate to live in a metro area which has a Trader Joe's. We actually have a couple of them here, and one is quite close to where I live. To be honest, what really draws me to Trader Joe's is the fact that they sell Cabot Cheddar, and at a reasonable price. However, once I'm there, I often make good discoveries - this time, in addition to my beloved cheddar, I got a package of San Francisco salami, and a loaf of french bread.

When I got home, and realized that the salami, the bread, the cheese, and the ripe tomato on my counter would make one heck of a sandwich, things really got rolling. As I was assembling things, I grabbed some fresh basil that had recently arrived in my CSA box, added a layer of brown mustard, and sliced up a banana pepper (also from the CSA box). I had some leftover goat cheese in the refrigerator (fresh, from a local farm, purchased at the Seward Co-op), so I added that, too. And then I remembered that when I visited France more than ten years ago, the sandwiches that looked rather like this (and were available at any corner shop for a quick lunch), often had sliced hard boiled egg on them, which was delicious. So I boiled up some eggs (also from the Co-op, and completely unaffected by recent egg recalls), and sliced those up for the sandwich, as well.

It was epic. I encourage you to make a sandwich similar to this one, as soon as possible.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

CSA Discovery: Edamame

Yet again, the CSA box was full of delightful vegetables - and in this case, a watermelon, too. This is just my share of the box, which is to say that we actually received twice the bounty that you see pictured here. In a somewhat clockwise description, there is, pictured above: sweet corn, watermelon, cucumber, broccoli, shallot, basil, carrots, kale, beets, sweet peppers, a banana pepper, and a bag of edamame.

I have eaten edamame, but only at sushi restaurants. In fact, this is one of my favorite parts of going out to sushi - receiving the steamy dish of salty green pods, with a sort of fuzz on them (kind of like on a kiwi, but less threatening). You grab onto one with your teeth, and haul the little pea-sized soy bean deal out of the pod. It's delicious.

So, it was a pleasant surprise for me to discover that edamame grows in Wisconsin, and preparing the above mentioned dish is maybe the easiest thing, ever. I rinsed the pods, tossed them into an inch of boiling salted water, cooked them for 5 minutes, rinsed them in cold water, dumped sea salt over the top, and ate them. They tasted just like at a restaurant, but fresher, which was probably because they had literally been picked within 24 hours of me eating them.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tomato Soup!

Consider this: it is mid-August, and everyone has too many tomatoes. If you know even one single person with a tiny bit of yard, or even a patio or a window sill wide enough for a tomato plant, they are currently trying with all their might to deposit at least a dozen tomatoes on you. They'll have a dozen more tomorrow. And the next day.

On Sunday, I received some tomatoes and put them in a bowl on my kitchen counter. On Monday, at work, there was a large bowl of tomatoes up for grabs (I passed on by them). On Monday night, I realized that the tomatoes on my counter were splitting, and not long for this world. I grabbed my absolutely reliable soup cookbook* from the shelf, and identified a recipe that looked straightforward and as though it would use up a pretty big pile of tomatoes. It called for three pounds, and I went ahead and assumed that was the amount I had in front of me (three moderately sized romas and four giant round something-or-others, bursting at the edges).

Here's where things really get good - I was able to parboil and peel the tomatoes immediately, and store them in the refrigerator until tonight (a full 48 hours later), when I got home at 9:15, hungry for tomato soup. I dumped the tomatoes and broth into a pan, brought it to boil, simmered for 10 minutes, stirred in 4 more ingredients, simmered for two minutes, plunged the absolutely genius immersion blender into the hot soup, and ate it. Immediately. It is absolutely delicious.

Furthermore, I suspect it will freeze very well. Which is good, because I plan to make a few more batches. One for each time I am inundated with must-eat-or-cook-immediately tomatoes.

Fresh Tomato Soup
3 lbs of ripe tomatoes (I eyeballed this, as noted above)
1 2/3 cup chicken or vegetable stock (I used the full can - 2 cups - of low sodium chicken broth)
3 Tbsp sun-dried tomato paste (I had a jar of sun-dried tomatoes in my fridge. I pureed 5 or 6)
2-3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2-3 tsp sugar
small handful of fresh basil leaves (I tossed in a few pinches of dried basil)
salt and ground black pepper

Cut a cross into the base of each tomato, and plunge into boiling water for 30 second
s. Refresh in cold water, peel off the skins, and quarter the tomatoes. (This took me all of 10 minutes, and then I stuck them in the refrigerator for 48 hours, until I had time to make and eat soup).

Put the tomatoes in a large pan and pour the broth over them. Bring just to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes until the tomatoes are pulpy.

Stir in the tomato puree, vinegar, sugar and basil. Season with salt and pepper, then cook gently, stirring, for 2 minutes. Process the soup in a blender or food processor, then return to a clean pan and reheat gently. Serve immediately.

I ate mine with a dollop of sour cream (naturally) and a grilled cheese sandwich featurin
g the odds and ends of some pepperjack that I found in my refrigerator. (I haven't done an official grocery store trip since the road trip last week).

*A note about cookbooks. This recipe is from a giant hard-cover cookbook called Best-Ever Soups by Anne Sheasby, which is just bursting with color photographs. It was in the $5 rack at Borders about five years ago, and I have made a dozen recipes out of it, each with great success. I love it. It should be noted that based on this experience, I snapped up a giant paperback cookbook last year (also in the $5 rack at Borders) called The Essential Pasta Cookbook (with no author, I now see), similarly bursting with color photographs. I have made two recipes from it, and both were tremendously lacking, both in direction and in result. It really is hard to tell a book by its cover. Or even by a quick scan of its recipes, it turns out.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Meal to Follow a Road Trip

As some of you may know, Elspeth and I just went on a fabulous road trip. I flew to Seattle, we rented a car, and we drove back to Minnesota, meandering through Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, the Black Hills, and the Badlands (also a National Park) along the way. We slept in a tent all but one night (we splurged on a bed and breakfast in Douglas, Wyoming - which may, as it happens, have the saddest downtown in the western United States), and not even one bear tried to eat us. Growing up in Maine, I suspect we didn't imagine that in 2010, driving between the two cities that we feel so comfortable in would involve seeing most of Washington, some of Idaho and Montana, most of Wyoming and South Dakota, and a pretty serious chunk of Minnesota, as well. There are a lot of mountains along the way, and deserts, too. There are cowboys and rodeos and some rolling plant that may have been tumbleweed. There are some particularly grand rivers, and a whole lot of empty fields. I highly recommend the route that we took (which was cleverly planned, down to the very last detail, by Elspeth!).

We ate well along the way (Elspeth brought along homemade chili, and pasta, and risotto(!!) for campsite dinners), and our only fast food stop was a "lunch supplement" as we called it, at an Arby's in central Wyoming on Thursday. In South Dakota on Saturday morning, we ate sourdough pancakes from a recipe that claimed to use a sourdough starter from frontier times, "over a hundred years ago"! All the same, when we arrived in Saint Paul on Saturday night, we were hungry. We swung by the Seward Co-op to get a few essentials, and when we got home, I whipped up a quick dinner. Tortellini (cheese-filled, from the grocery store freezer), with garlic scape pesto (homemade, and stored in my freezer... I'll have to blog about that recipe later), and lots of shredded parmesan stirred in.

What we really wanted, though, after driving 2500+ hours in 6 days, was a salad.

Fresh greens, with an heirloom tomato sliced on top, dressed with an easy and delicious recipe - it's one I wrote down a few years ago from that Everyday Italian show on the Food Network, and as you can see here, I wrote it on cute recipe cards that Elspeth decorated for me as a gift one year for Christmas. As you can also see here, I make this dressing often enough that there's a smudge on the recipe card!

In case you can't quite see it: that is 4 Tbsp of white vinegar, 2 Tbsp of dijon mustard, 2/3 cup of olive oil, and 1 tsp oregano. In this case, I put in a pinch of dried oregano and a pinch of dried basil. And it's true - the recipe makes plenty of dressing. I have a small jar of it in the refrigerator now, which will last through the week!