July 28, 2011 § 2 Comments
This is what it’s all about. The seeds planted in April. And replanted in May. The battles with bugs. The constant fretting over the weather. The worry while on vacation. This haul is worth the wait, worth the time, for sure.
Red and golden beets. The last of the lettuce. Most of the red and yellow chard. A big ol’ yellow squash. The first—the very first!—cherry tomatoes. Thyme and dill. Oh, and I shouldn’t forget to mention this is all in a 15′ x 30′ urban community garden plot. Call me a city farmer.
It’s not like we haven’t harvested anything at all up until now. Not true. We’ve snipped plenty of herbs. Fresh dill sprigs went into some homemade pickles a few weeks ago, for instance. We’ve pulled up a beet here and there. Just this Monday we took home three larger-than-intended zucchini and a couple of yellow squash. And, we’ve had lettuce for months.
But now, the last week in July, is when everything comes together.
Look for a whole lotta zucchini recipes coming your way.
February 14, 2011 § 1 Comment
The Somerville Winter Farmers Market has been up and active since January 8th, and why haven’t we been before this weekend?? Maybe because we’re South Enders, and making it all the way over the river and through traffic can be rough-going. Or, maybe it’s been the weather. Or … maybe we just didn’t know what we were going to find. With “farmers markets” you just never know what you’re going to get—sometimes it’s not even food-related, you know? Screen-print shirts, artwork—come on, dude.
We’re happy to say we found lots of food-related stuff in the Armory Building, which is a great place to hold an event like this. Not too big that the vendors get lost. Just large enough to encourage a good traffic flow on the floor. And an upstairs space for overflow vendors and chillin’ and listening to the musicians (Rodriguez someoneorother? Good choice).
Considering the heavens have dumped loads of snow upon us all winter, and spring harvests just seem so far off, it was really refreshing to see farmers and their produce. One farm looks like they have a connection with an organic farm down in Florida—they were selling fresh greens and even squashes that were shipped up from there. Do I have a problem with that? Not really. One cannot live by turnips alone all winter.
The Winter Farmers Market is also way more than veggies. Our first purchases, in fact, were unpasteurized apple cider and maple syrup. And there were seafood vendors, pork/beef producers, wineries, cheese makers, bakeries, orchards and prepared foods chefs in the house, as well. Lots to choose from.
All in all, we were happy with the hour we spent shuttling from booth to booth.
Our loot: scallops, two varieties of apples, maple syrup, unpasteurized apple cider, kale, baby spinach, Rainbow Lights Swiss chard, mussels, two kinds of soft cheese (burrata and fresh mozzarella) two kinds of semi-soft cheese (swiss and hardwick stone), and a watermelon radish. I told Jennifer there had to be at least one thing we purchased that we didn’t have experience with—that would be the watermelon radish. Spicy sweet with a gorgeous dark pink coloring inside (the “watermelon” part), we julienned it and put it on a spinach salad with apple slices and goat cheese with a shallot balsamic vinaigrette. That salad accompanied our mussels last night. Yum. Yum. Yum.
We’ve also already used the rainbow chard, which accompanied Saturday night’s sea bass and mango cous cous.
The scallops are our Valentine’s Day meal. Can’t wait for that.
January 19, 2011 § Leave a comment
“One of the best meals you’ve ever made.”
Who doesn’t like to hear that from their partner? It was a seriously delicious meal, I agree. Did I have my doubts while I was cooking? There have been times when I’ve deviated from a recipe—as I did in this case—and it turned out terribly wrong. Terribly. Wrong. I dunno, maybe I have a new confidence in the kitchen. And, I gave myself plenty of time to cook. Rushing never ends with good results for me.
This meal was based on a recipe we saw once on a Food Network program hosted my Michael Chiarello, Lunchbag Swordfishwith Mediterranean Tomato Sauce and Linguini. Except sans swordfish and linguine. Morse Fish Market didn’t have swordfish, but they did have these cute lil’ whole filleted trout. Foodie’s had rainbow Swiss chard on special, especially ideal since eating your greens is a very healthy thing. And, last deviation, no one needs linguine when whole wheat Israeli cous cous makes such a nice side dish.Oh, wait – the last deviation: There was absolutely no lunchbags used in preparing this meal.
I did stick pretty close to the “tomato sauce” recipe, but prefer to call it a roasted salsa.
Recipe for Trout & Tomato-Caper Salsa
(the salsa roasts along with the trout!)
- 3 cups plum tomatoes, cored and thinly wedged
- 1 tbs chopped fresh oregano
- 1 tbs chopped parsley
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup or less of minced red onion (my red onion was a bit strong, so I used less)
- 2 tbs drained capers
- 1/2 of a large red pepper, chopped (original recipe calls for 1/2 cup roasted red pepper – didn’t have time to roast!)
- Juice of whole lemon (original calls for 2 tbs – oh well)
- 4 tbs EVOO
- 2 8+ oz. whole trout fillets
- 1 lemon sliced thinly
- 2 tbs parsley, finely chopped
- kosher salt & pepper
-Set oven to 450-ish.
-Prepare and combine tomatoes, herbs, garlic, red onion, capers, red pepper, lemon juice and EVOO in a medium bowl. Add a couple turns of a pepper mill. Set aside for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
-Remove fish heads and tail (and reserve for stock). Rinse fish and pat dry. Working with one fish at a time, season the inside of whole fish with salt and pepper (the two fillets just kinda flap open – easy to do!). While fish is still open, layer lemon slices (remove any seeds you see) and sprinkle with about 1 tbs of chopped parsley. Close up fish. Set aside. Prepare next fishy.
-After tomato-caper mixture has married for about a half hour, place it in the bottom of a rectangular glass baking dish. Salt and pepper fish where they are, then flip them upside down onto the salsa. Salt and pepper them again.
-Place in the oven for about 16 minutes, checking occasionally after about 12 minutes.
While the salsa is sitting, you can get your ingredients ready for the chard and cous cous so everything is ready to go. Timing is always one of my biggest hurdles!
Recipe for Rainbow Chard and Israeli Cous Cous
For best timing, set liquid for cous cous to boil a couple minutes before putting fish in the oven. And start cooking chard while the fish cooks.
- 1 1/4 cup (or less by just a tad) boiling water or chicken stock
- 1 cup Israeli cous cous (it’s the larger-sized cous cous – more substantive, that’s why we like it)
- 1 small swig EVOO
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 bunch of rainbow Swiss chard, washed and patted dry, roughly chopped
- a touch of chicken stock
- salt and pepper
-Add cous cous to boiling water in a small pot. Cover. Let sit until the rest of the meal is complete.
-Add EVOO to a medium sauce pan and turn on heat to medium. Let that heat up a bit. Add garlic – it should sizzle a tad – and give it a good shake or two. Let that saute until fragrant – less than a minute.
-Add chard. Sprinkle in a dash of salt and pepper. Toss it around in the garlic and oil with tongs. It will wilt a bit right then. Add a glug of chicken stock so the chard has something to steam in. Cover. Let cook 5 minutes or until leaves are tender and stalks still have a tiny bit of crunch. If leaves are black-black, you’ve gone too far!
The whole meal came together pretty much at the same time. Yay!
This is where I learned two lessons. The chard was divided between the two plates, and the fish was placed on top. Next, each plate received a big scoop of cous cous, and that was topped with some of the roasted salsa from the baking dish.
Here’s where that might have been improved.
1) I couldn’t access my chard easily. Remember, the fish still had its skin and was filled with lemon. There was a lot of manual labor to be done on that fish, and placing the fish to the side of the chard would have been better. Had that fish been a skinless single fillet of something else, I think it would have been okay.
2) The roasted salsa was juicy – flavorful, but juicy. I’m not a big fan of juice running all over my plate. Use a slotted spoon!
Overall, a delicious meal. And today I have fish heads and tails in the freezer for a future batch of fish stock – even better.