Category Archives: recipes

Smoked Sardines

If you told me at age ten that I would have a bad case of ‘sardine obsession’ in my twenties, I would have laughed in your face AND rolled my eyes.  ‘Sardines are gross!’ I would have told you.  But here I am, finding sneaky ways to bring sardines up in conversation, looking up sardine recipes at work and enjoying them for more lunches and dinners than I’d care to say.  For anyone who aligns with my ten year old self, let me tell you, they really aren’t gross at all.  In fact, they are quite delicious, versatile, healthy and cheap (and sustainable and low in mercury content)!  Canned sardines are not overly salty or fishy, like anchovies, and actually taste more like a mild canned tuna.  Grilled fresh sardines are also delicious but this post focuses on these, which I found in the grocery store:

I love smoked fish.  When I was a kid, my Dad, on occasion, would bring home smoked tuna from the local seafood store.  While I wouldn’t have touched sardines with ten foot pole at that time, I was totally into this smoked tuna.  Now that I know I like sardines, I knew I would love these too.

I think my original obsession began with the No Reservations ‘Brittany’ episode where Tony eats sardines that are jarred standing up in oil.  I never thought preserved fish could be gourmet or elegantly prepared or special in any way- until I watched this episode.

And here I am, obsessing about a can of fish.  Anyway, I ate them on water crackers with fresh squeezed lemon, fresh cilantro and a squeeze of sriracha.  It was great.

Tomorrow I will try them on a toasted bagel with olive oil and capers.  Yum.

End of Summer Invasion: Cucumbers and Zucchini

Cooking with a farm share delivery means that you cook what is in season.  Sometimes I feel like if I have to eat one more beet I just might… well use your imagination…  Toward the end of the summer we started getting a TON of cucumbers and zucchini.  At first, I was so excited to make zucchini bread and cucumber infused gin and tonics.  When I’d had my fill of those (didn’t take long), these little guys started to linger in the crisper drawer until they withered and aged and finally made the inevitable journey to veggie heaven, aka the compost bin.  This ALWAYS makes me feel guilty-  they didn’t even get a chance to be great!  Farm shares should not induce guilt.

And so, I dusted off the old imagination and came up with this:  Zucchini and Potato Fritters with Greek Yogurt, Smoked Salmon and Fresh Dill (with a side of cucumber salad!)  Behold:

Please excuse the terrible quality of this picture- it was taken with my cell phone.

Miraculously I had all of these items in my house.

To make the fritters, simply grate equal measures of potato and zucchini. Squeeze a bit of the moisture out when you finish grating.   Add an egg or two and a few tablespoons of flour to bind.  Season with sea salt, freshly ground pepper and onion powder.   Or if you prefer to grate fresh onion, be my guest.  I don’t like to torture myself or cry in my food.  Mix all ingredients together.  Heat up a few tablespoons of oil ( I like grapeseed) on medium heat in a large frying pan.  Form little flat fritters (about 1″ thick) and cook until deep brown on both sides.  Then top with a dollop of greek yogurt, sour cream, creme fraiche or whatever you prefer that’s creamy- even a schmear of cream cheese would work.  Top with wild-caught smoked salmon and a few sprigs of fresh dill.  Dust with a bit more salt and pepper and there you have it.  Not bad, huh?  The cucumber salad is just sliced cukes with salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil and a few dashes of white wine vinegar.  This meal was great for an end of the summer dinner and still delicious for lunch the next day.  Plus, no veggies were left to wither and die- my crisper drawer was empty and ready for the next delivery!

Grilled Chicken and Radicchio Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing

This salad is easy, delicious and filling.  Often I find that lettuce remains in the crisper drawer in the refrigerator for far to long after my farm share delivery – a sure sign I’m not eating enough salad.  When I found out that I was getting radicchio and romaine lettuce in my share, I made it a priority to use it first.  This salad is the result.  I made it a few weeks ago and forgot to post- so my apologies for not providing exact measurements.

Salad:  Top washed and dried radicchio and romaine lettuce with toasted chopped pecans, apple slices, crumbled blue cheese and grilled chicken.

Dressing:  Cook 4 slices of bacon in a frying pan.  Remove bacon and crumble on top of salad.  Deglaze pan with several tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.  Add freshly ground cracked pepper.  Drizzle on top of salad and enjoy!

Another Recipe from 101 Cookbooks – Harissa Spaghetti

Oh, Kale.  A vegetable I couldn’t pick out of a line up just a few years ago – now I can’t seem to get enough of it.  Heidi Swanson’s Harrissa Spaghettini was one of the first recipes I attempted when I  joined my CSA.  I had never eaten kale, never heard of harissa, but the combination of spicy chili mixed with garlic, fresh kale, lemon zest, pine nuts and salty oil-cured olives (my favorite kind) on top of a bed of whole wheat pasta sounded so incredible to me.  I thought it would be impossible to track down harissa, but as it turned out, a Middle Eastern market just a few blocks from my apartment carries several canned varieties. I’ve made this numerous times with whole wheat pasta, but when my most recent head of kale came in, I decided to try it with a pound of quinoa pasta I had on hand.  The results were outstanding and this remains one of my favorite dishes.  If it looks a little kale-heavy, trust me, it is.  I love the stuff but you can add as little or as much as you like.  Follow Heidi’s recipe and enjoy.  This tastes just a good cold as it does fresh out of the pot so make some extra for lunch tomorrow!

Asparagus Pasta Salad with Lemon and Cilantro

My first farm share delivery two years ago put me in a mild state of shock.  What on earth was I going to do with all of those vegetables?  I scoured the internet for veggie-heavy recipes and came across what has since become one of my favorite food blogs, Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks.  She lives and blogs in San Francisco and is known for cooking with local, fresh ingredients.  Her recipes are simple and she uses flavor combinations that I would never think of, plus you can search her blog for recipes based on ingredients which I think is incredible convenient.  When I found myself with an overabundance of kale, she was there for me.  When I was sick of guacamole she helped me out with a few excellent alternative uses for avocados.  And when I had more tomatoes than I could ever know what to do with at the end of the summer, I turned to her blog to find ways that I had never seen tomatoes used before.  Her baked good recipes aren’t too shabby either.  Flourless cookies, brownies made with black beans, vegan chocolate mousse… Plus her photography is absolutely beautiful.  Oh, to be a guest in her kitchen!  When I recently had a refrigerator full of fresh asparagus spears I turned to her blog yet again.  Her Orzo Super Salad recipe served as my inspiration for this dish.  It was one of those week nights where I wanted to chill in my backyard and enjoy one of the first warm days of the year, rather than brave the masses at the grocery store.  I used what I had in the kitchen and the results were a very happy surprise.

Ingredients:

1 box Penne Pasta

1 lb fresh Asparagus Spears, cut into 1 inch pieces

1/4c Toasted Almond slices

Juice of 1/2 Lemon

Zest of 1 Lemon

1/4c chopped Fresh Cilantro

1/2c Feta Cheese

Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Salt and Pepper

Enough Olive Oil to lightly coat the pasta

To make this pasta salad, simply toss the chopped asparagus spears in with the boiling pasta during the last two minutes of cooking.  Then toss the seasonings with the freshly cooked pasta and asparagus and enjoy!  I served this with a slice of toasted multi-grain baguette.

Gnocchi Con Amore

My love affair with gnocchi started with a visit to Cucina Forte, a quiet byob in Philadelphia’s Queen Village neighborhood.  My mother, my sister and I had just returned from a day in New York and, each of us maddeningly hungry, decided to try this restaurant on a whim.  Everything that came to our table was exquisitely fresh (try the saltimbocca!  You can actually hear the chef in the kitchen pounding the chicken from the dining room) but the gnocchi was clearly the star of the table.  To bite into a gnocchi at this place is to know what it feels like to bite into a cloud.  They are so light, so delicate and so fresh that I realized I must not have known what great gnocchi was before eating them.  In fact, these morsels are so wonderful that I decided to attempt to make them at home.  At Cucina Forte, the gnocchi are served two ways: with marinara sauce and with a gorgonzola cream sauce.  Each sauce is wonderful in its own way and I decided we needed to have both. 

I had a lot of gnocchi anxiety.  Do a quick internet search for gnocchi recipes and you will find many, many conflicting opinions.  Some chefs call for boiling the potatoes, others say bake.  Some say add egg, some egg whites, some scoff at the idea of adding any egg at all.  This can be quite intimidating for a kitchen novice who has no idea what gnocchi dough is even supposed to look like (that would be me!)  Lucky for me, I have a great friend who has cooked in professional kitchens who has made gnocchi before.  His name is Eric and he always cuts the onions when we cook together — like I said, he’s a great friend!

We ended up with five pounds of potatoes, baked for about an hour at 425.  We mashed the potatoes and added 2.5 cups of flour and two eggs.  We grated fresh nutmeg, salt and pepper into the dough and I kneaded it by hand.  It looked something like this.

This dinner party came together to celebrate my dear friend Jenny’s visit to Philadelphia from San Francisco.  We were having seven people over for dinner so I had a lot of gnocchi to form.

I tried to put the cute fork indentations into them but it just wasn’t working.  We decided they looked just as nice shaped like that.  While I formed the gnocchi, Eric made the sauces.  The gorgonzola cream sauce consisted of heavy cream, gorgonzola cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly ground nutmeg, garlic, and salt and pepper.  The marinara included sauteed onions and garlic, chopped plum tomatoes, canned tomato puree, bay leaves, oregano, olive oil, salt and pepper and fresh basil.  He blended it a bit with an emersion blender to keep it delicate enough for the gnocchi.  While he whipped the sauces up, I finished these:

We then added about ten gnocchi to a pot of boiling salted water.  When they floated to the surface, we cooked them for an additional 1 to 2 minutes.  The results were wonderful!  Each guest had a least two plates.  The sauces complemented each other perfectly.

Jenny was excited to prepare a salad recipe she had picked up from a friend in San Francisco which they call Egyptian Salad.  It was a refreshing mixture of tomatoes, cucumbers, baby spinach, and avocado dressed with white wine vinegar, olive oil, cayenne pepper and fresh cilantro.  I will definitely be making that again. 

The gnocchi making process was a bit stressful, a bit long and a bit tiring, but the results were absolutely worth it.   Now that I am no longer a novice, I look forward to experimenting with different recipes in the near future.

Saturday Afternoon Sweet Potato Chips

This recipe is borrowed from one of my favorite brunch restaurants in the whole world, The Friendly Toast in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  They serve up piping hot, oniony home fries with some of the best egg scrambles I’ve ever had, all with tattooed, surly service in a warehouse space doused with kitsch overload (we’re talking mechanical leopards, garage sale oil paintings and metallic vinyl tables and chairs).  The absolute standout of their offerings, however, is their Orleans Fries.  I would (and have) considered a weekend trip up to Portsmouth just for these fries.  As that’s not exactly the most practical of plans, I make them on occasion at home and everyone who has tasted them agrees: the combination is a little wacky but they are ooh so very good.  I was lucky enough to receive some organic gold sweet potatoes in my farm share this week:

Sweet Potatoes

Fresh Sweet Potatoes from Lancaster Farm Fresh

Ingredients: 

sweet potatoes 

olive oil

sour cream

brown sugar

Tobasco 

Saturday Afternoon Sweet Potato Chips

Saturday Afternoon Sweet Potato Chips

Preheat oven to 415 degrees.  Wash sweet potatoes thoroughly, scrubbing when necessary. Trim bad spots with a knife.  I like to leave the skin on, but feel free to remove it with a vegetable peeler.  Cut sweet potatoes into very thin, chip-like slices.  It’s my thought that one person can eat 3/4 to 1 large potato’s worth of chips, so buy potatoes accordingly.  Coat a baking sheet in olive oil (I use a spray). Arrange the potato slices in a single layer on the tray and coat them with another light layer of oil.  This will help them get crispy but saves the calories, effort and clean-up of deep frying, which is how The Friendly Toast does it.  Bake the chips in the oven for about 30 minutes, flipping them after  20 minutes.  When they have browned, toss them on a plate or in a bowl with a teaspoon or so of brown sugar.  The hot potatoes will melt the brown sugar into gooey goodness.  Add a few dashes of Tobasco sauce and keep it near by if you want more heat.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream and enjoy.  The combination of sweet, spicy and cool creaminess is unique, delicious and easy to make at home.  I suggest you try the originals at The Friendly Toast if you ever find yourself in Portsmouth- it’s an experience not to be missed!