Sunday, July 25, 2010

Homemade Sauerkraut

My mother is Hungarian and my father is Irish, where my love for Polish food came from I do not know. Polish Kielbasa and sauerkraut makes me weak in the knees. I was intrigued about trying to make sauerkraut at home and asked both my grandmothers if they have ever tried such a feat. No luck. Until I love a lovely little email from my CSA coordinator, who apparently took a course with a very crunchy individual and proclaimed how easy it was. I was skeptical but I received Napa cabbage in my CSA and was unable to use it that week so I decided to go for it one Sunday. What did I have to lose? I watched Mr. Crunchy’s Youtube video several times and it just seemed too simple – Shred the cabbage and onions, salt, squish with your hands and let sit. I waited a couple days and added water to keep the veggies covered. My baby apartment smelled like onions but in a good way. After about 3 days, I tasted and decided I wanted a more pungent sauerkraut flavor. Another 3 days passed, I put a kielbasa on the stove and warmed up my home made sauerkraut. The flavor was outstanding and I was amazed just how simple it was.

I understand that foods must have preservatives in them to maintain shelf life. Obviously, we live better though these modern, scientific miracles. However, I am personally on a mission to eat as little processed foods as possible. If I can make my own chicken fingers or hamburgers at least I know where everything is coming from and it makes these little “sin” foods a bit healthy. So I try and do what I can to eat locally with lots of veggies. But that is why I think it is so cool to take something that I love to eat and something that I thought was so complicated and make it with my own two hands. I know where the cabbage and onions came from, I know what I put in the sauerkraut and best of all it tastes wonderful.

Angel Food Cake

I made this cake a bit ago - in my non-posting phase. BP II loves angel food cake and I suppose one night I decided to indulge him. Angel food cake reminds me of summer in Pennsylvania, sitting on my deck watching the sun set with some fresh strawberries. Nothing is better than fresh ingredients and a light airy baked good. Living in New York, one tends to give up those lazy summer nights but as they always say you can’t take the country out of the girl. Anyway, even if I can’t remember much about this cake – how it was made or what kind of sauce I drizzled on top, it is still a very pretty picture of I am sure, a great tasting cake. Next time I make one, I’ll be sure to fill you in on all the details and of course provide a recipe. But for now, just a pretty picture.

Monday, July 19, 2010

S’mores at Home

Need I say more?

Summer Pasta

I bought this pasta in Italy and I was waiting for a “special” time to break it out. I waited and waited and nothing really came to mind. Waiting for that special time for anything is so futile. Magic happens when you least expect it and you can never plan it. Besides when you have enormous expectations and want everythin to be perfect there can be a letdown- the garlic burns or the cream sauce has cornstarch lumps. Little incidents like that always happen with my cooking. But I digress.

Vegetable co-op day brought summer savory and zucchini. What better ingredients for summer pasta? Grilled zucchini, roasted tomatoes with a garlic oil sauce and seasoned with some fresh herbs, salt and pepper. Delicious and no let down.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Rat-Tail Radishes

How interesting do these guys look? I would even venture crazy enough to be beautiful. If I had an apartment where I could have dinner parties, I would definitely make these an interesting centerpiece. Flowers, but in that modern art kinda way.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Garlic Scape Stock

What an interesting vegetable the garlic scape is. These green curly snake like rods are wonderfully fragrant and have a great garlic flavor. Unfortunately, BP II is not a huge fan of garlic. I on the other hand am a garlic lover and fully practice my love.

Recently, BP II and I went to the beach and I didn’t have time to use up all my garlic scapes. However, my CSA coordinator turned me to on a Mark Bittman recipe for garlic scape stock. I was intrigued. I go thought so much stock, from risottos to potatoes I use it in almost everything, that I figured to give it a go (despite BP II’s protests, what do boys know anyway?) The garlic aroma filled my apartment and I can’t wait to try it in my next risotto.

Risen from the Dead

Yes, yes it has been a bit but I went to Italy, had some summer fun and switched jobs. So personally a lot has been going on. Food wise, a lot has been happening too. My CSA has started to come and much to BP II’s dismay contained almost all salad for the first couple weeks. This time around was a bit more interesting: beets, bright lights Swiss chard and rat tail radishes. I had this weird fever overtake me the past couple days and therefore could not make dinner. So I have all these veggies from my CSA just wilting in my fridge. I set out to use as many as a could for dinner tonight because I have a whole new box arriving on Monday. The result: Red beet risotto and garlic cumin Swiss chard of course paired with BP II’s favorite, pork loin. I found the red beet risotto on the New York Times website and BP II thought it was amazing. The color was fantastic and very different from the usual risottos that I make. This is exactly what this CSA was supposed to do, push me from my comfort zone and try different vegetables and cooking techniques. I would never have picked up beets at the grocery store. I always memory flash to the gross canned ones that were served at my childhood Thanksgiving get-togethers. But these fresh ones were good and you can use almost the entire plant from the leaves to the root. A beet lover I now am.

The bright light Swiss chard recipe was given to be by a co-worker. Her mom is famed to be a fantastic cook and how do you turn down a recipe from a famed cook? The flavor was good and but I think I might just not be a fan of bright light Swiss chard. However, they are packed with vitamins: K, C and A. So good flavor and vitamins are good enough reason for me to “muscle” them down.

Risotto With Beet Greens and Roasted Beets

3/4 pound beets (1 bunch small), roasted*
1 bunch beet greens, stemmed and washed
6 to 7 cups chicken or vegetable stock, as needed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups Arborio or Carnarolli rice
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/2 cup red, rose, or dry white wine
Freshly ground pepper
1 to 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1/4 to 1/2 cup, to taste)
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley


1. Bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan. Season well and turn the heat to low. Stack the stemmed, washed greens and cut crosswise into 1-inch wide strips.

2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large nonstick frying pan or wide, heavy saucepan and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until the onion begins to soften, about 3 minutes, and add the rice and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the grains of rice are separate and beginning to crackle, about 3 minutes.

3. Stir in the wine and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. The wine should bubble, but not too quickly. You want some of the flavor to cook into the rice before it evaporates. When the wine has just about evaporated, stir in a ladleful or two of the simmering stock (about 1/2 cup), enough to just cover the rice. The stock should bubble slowly (adjust heat accordingly). Cook, stirring often, until it is just about absorbed. Add another ladleful or two of the stock and continue to cook in this fashion, not too fast and not too slowly, stirring often and adding more stock when the rice is almost dry, for 10 minutes.

4. Stir in the greens and the diced beets, and continue adding more stock, enough to barely cover the rice, and stirring often, for another 10 to 15 minutes. Taste a bit of the rice. Is it cooked through? It should taste chewy but not hard in the middle. Definitely not soft like steamed rice. If it is still hard in the middle, you need to continue adding stock and stirring for another 5 minutes or so. Now is the time to ascertain if there is enough salt. Add if necessary.

5. When the rice is cooked through, add a generous amount of freshly ground pepper, and stir in another half cup of stock, the Parmesan and the parsley. Remove from the heat. The rice should be creamy; if it isn’t, add a little more stock. Stir once, taste and adjust seasonings, and serve.

*preheat oven to 400 degrees. Fill a baking dish with water about 1/4 of an inch deep. Add the beets and cover with tin foil. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a knife is inserted easily. Cool before dicing.

Garlic and Cumin Bright Lights Swiss Chard

1 bunch of Bright Lights Swiss Chard
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp of paprika
½ tsp of cumin


1.) Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add the Swiss chard. Cook for 3 minutes and blanch in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.

2.) Remove chard and pat dry.

3.) In a 10 inch frying pan add 1 TBL of olive oil and garlic on cook medium heat. When garlic is brown (1 min) add the chard and paprika, salt and pepper. Sautee for 10 minutes and add the cumin. Cook for another 2 minutes and serve.