Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pasta Salad with Grilled Corn and Shrimp

Holy smokes, it is hot outside. Gonna need something cool for dinner tonight.

The other day, I was watching the Today Show. Martha Stewart was on demonstrating shrimp and corn salad and I thought it was an interesting idea, but that I could make it better (don't shoot me Martha fanatics). Now I haven't tried Martha's recipe, so it may be a good thing (and I'll admit that bibb lettuce would have been way better than the way too bitter dandelion greens).

Here's the ingredients:

1 pound of shrimp
1/3 pound shell pasta
2 ears corn
1/2 Walla Walla sweet onion, diced
a whole mess of basil, julienned
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoon sherry vinegar
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 bunch of dandelion greens (but as I said, a milder lettuce would have been way better)
1/2 cucumber, sliced

I started by
cooking the pasta in salted water and grilling the corn until is was nicely charred. When the pasta was done I cooled it down with cold water right away than left it to drain. When the corn was cool enough to handle I cut it off of the cobs.

Meanwhile I boiled the shrimp in water seasoned with salt and a bit of cider vinegar for three minutes, then immediately plunged them into an ice bath to cool.

While everything was cooking, I made a creamy vinaigrette with the garlic, mustard, sherry vinegar and mayonnaise. Then I simply stirred together the shrimp, corn, pasta, basil and onion.

To plate I made a bed of greens and cucumber, then topped it with a generous scoop of the salad.

How was it? Delicious. Seriously, the only mis-step here was the dandelion greens (they were just way too strong for the delicate flavor of the pasta salad). The cucumbers, however, were a lovely accompaniment. It was nice to have a cool, tasty meal on a day that was way too hot. The husband really liked it too (and he's not even a big fan of shrimp). The best part? Plenty of leftovers for lunch tomorrow (it's still supposed to be way to hot then too).

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce

While in Kansas, it seemed like every time we turned around someone was trying to feed us. No light food either, there was nary a salad in sight. In one day we had a cheesy potato breakfast casserole with bacon, ribs with potato salad and beans for lunch, and supreme pizza for dinner (then beer, lots of beer). Now I'm not saying it wasn't good (the ribs were some of the best I've had) there was just so darn much of it.

Since I've been home I've been craving really light food (and spicy Asian-style food, but that's another story). Today I decided to make myself a light, but indulgent lunch. And, I decided my tomato was finally ready.

Here's the ingredients (for one person):

A couple handfuls of campanelle pasta (I decided on this shape because I thought it would hold the diced tomatoes nicely)
1 Roma tomato
several leaves of basil (these are from my garden, too)
1 clove of garlic, mashed to a paste
olive oil (the good stuff)
a bit of really good Parmigiano-Regianno cheese

I started by cooking the pasta in well-salted water. While this cooked, I diced the tomato (into 1/4" dice), julienned the basil and mashed the garlic. If you've never done this, here's how.

Start by chopping the garlic.

Sprinkle it with kosher salt.

With the knife almost parallel to the cutting board, mash the salt and garlic together.

Keep going until you get a paste.

Once the pasta was cooked through, I drained it, returned it to the pan and added the garlic paste right away (just to take the edge off of it). I added a generous drizzle of olive oil, the diced tomatoes and the basil. The heat of the pasta warmed the tomato and made a nice light sauce. I topped the dish with a bit of cheese and a sprinkle of sea salt.

So good, and exactly what I had been craving. Light and summery and so flavorful. It was so exciting to take my first harvest from my garden and turn it into something so delicious.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What's in the Box?

1 pound English Peas
1 bunch Yellow Carrots
1 Cucumber
.4 pound Cremini Mushrooms
1 bunch Dandelion Greens
1 pound Farmers' Choice Of Summer Squash (we got zucchini)
1 Walla Walla Sweet Onion
.75 pound Lapin Cherries
1.25 pounds Yummy Beauty Plums
3 Yellow Peaches
1/2 pint Red Raspberries

We were also supposed to get 1 bunch of Red Radishes but we ended up with a second 1/2 pint Red Raspberries. Maybe it's because they were listed one after another on the packing list. Oh well, I'm not mad at extra raspberries.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

While I'm away...

Tomorrow the husband and I leave for a trip to Kansas to see my family. We will be meeting my Mom in Denver then driving to Atwood, Kansas to stay with my Maternal Grandmother for two nights, then on to Ellinwood, Kansas for two nights with my Paternal Grandmother (although we will be staying in the town's only B&B). Then back to Atwood for one more night, then home.

We will be in Ellinwood during the time of the After-Harvest Festival (a time to celebrate a good harvest, or lament a bad harvest with fellow farmers and lots of beer).

I'll be posting lots of photos on my main Twitter account @chefdjen. If you want to share in the fun of the After Harvest Festival (and whatever else we manage to find) feel free to follow my adventures by following me on Twitter.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee

A couple of summer's ago, I read this article in the New York Times about cold-brewed coffee and became quite intrigued. I decided to give the recipe a try and I absolutely loved it!

Now, as soon as the weather turns warm, I start making my cold brewed coffee mix. The only difference is, rather than the mason jar recommended in the recipe, I like to use a french press.

I also like to double the recipe so I have the coffee mix ready for a couple of days.

Put 2/3 of a cup of your favorite ground coffee in the french press.

Top this off with water, put the lid on the press (making sure the plunger is up) and let it sit overnight.

The next morning, push the plunger on the press.

Then put some of this mix into a glass (anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 full depending on how strong you like your coffee).

Next add ice and cold water to fill the glass.

I like to add a splash of cream.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Potato Cake with Truffled Green Beans and Sauteed Mushrooms

The last few days, I have had no desire to eat at all. Which is really, really weird for me. Last night however, I finally got my appetite back, so I decided it was time to cook.

I took a look in the refrigerator and found some items that looked like they would make great side dishes, but no main dish candidates. The husband saw me staring into the fridge and made a suggestion, potatoes.

I found a few Yukon golds lurking in the back of the crisper drawer and decided to use them to make my main dish, a potato cake kind of similar to Pommes Anna.

Here's the ingredients:
4 Yukon gold potatoes
2 Tablespoons butter
3 or so cloves garlic

I started by melting the butter over very low heat along with the garlic.

While it melted I used a mandolin to slice the potatoes (very carefully because that thing is wicked sharp).

I sliced the potatoes about 1/8" thick (traditional Pommes Anna would cut the potatoes to about 1/16" thick).

Next I got out a 9" nonstick cake pan, brushed it with the garlic butter then added a layer of sliced potatoes.

Then I brushed this with more garlic butter,

and sprinkled it with a tiny bit of salt. I repeated this process a total of three times. I would have preferred it be a little thicker (more layers), but I really needed a 6" or 7" pan to accomplish this, and the only pan I have that is that size was not deep enough.

I put this into a 400 degree oven and let it bake for 45 minutes.

While the potatoes were in the oven, I started on the side dishes. Here's the ingredients.

1 handful green beans trimmed and cut into 1" pieces
truffle oil

3 slice bacon, chopped
6 mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup white wine
2 teaspoon fresh tarragon

I tossed the green beans with some truffle oil and a little truffle salt. I considered sauteing the beans, but since the oven was on, I decided to roast them alongside the potatoes. I put them in the oven when there was 20 minutes left on the timer.

Once I put the green beans in the oven I cooked the bacon in a saute pan until it was nice and crispy, then I removed it from the pan and put it on a paper towel to drain. I left a little bit of the bacon fat in the pan and added the mushrooms to the pan to saute.

When they were cooked through, I added the white wine and let it simmer until all the wine was gone.

At this point I added the fresh tarragon and the bacon.

When the potatoes were done cooking I removed the pan from the oven.

Then I turned the potato cake out onto a cutting board.

To plate, I cut the potato cake into quarters, put two on each plate and then spooned on some of the green beans and mushrooms to each plate. Alongside I served a salad made with red and purple radishes, cucumber, fresh mint, feta cheese and a splash of sherry vinegar.

At first I tried each thing individually. The potatoes were creamy and sweet on the inside, but the outside was so crispy and delicious (like yummy french fries). The truffle oil was a perfect accompaniment to the greens beans and the tarragon was delicious with the wine-infused mushrooms. Next I started mixing and matching flavors, a little mushroom with a little potato, a little mushroom with a little green bean, etc. It was all good and it was all good together. The husband liked everything too (especially the potatoes) which is good, because the whole thing started as his idea.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

My (Tiny) Garden Update

You may remember this tomato (it was there when I planted the garden).

Today, it looks like this. So close. Still a little firm, but in a few days...

My neighbor, who just moved here from Nebraska (so he knows corn), told me that if it is "knee high by the 4th of July" it should be good. Mine is, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

This is my first cherry tomato to show up. It is so tiny, maybe 1/4". But I can tell from the blossoms, more are on the way.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Corn and Potato Chopped Salad with Citrus Dressing

I was really excited when I saw that we would be receiving corn in our box this week. In my opinion, corm is one of summers greatest gifts.

I decided to use the corn, along with several other items from the box (and my garden) to make a nice cool salad for the hot summer day we are experiencing.

Here's the ingredients for the salad:

2 ears corn
2 yukon gold potatoes, diced into 1/2-inch pieces, par cooked for 3 minutes in the microwave
12 or so green beans, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 green onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 slices bacon, diced and cooked
a handful of lettuce (I used red lettuce from my garden), chopped
1 ounce goat cheese

I started by grilling my corn right on the grill (meaning not wrapped in foil or anything) until it was cooked through (it changes color as it gets done) and charred a little.

Once it was done I cut the kernels off the cob.

Then put them in the refrigerator to cool.

While the corn was on the grill I cooked the bacon until it was nice and crispy.

Then I removed the bacon from the pan and then sauteed the green beans in the remaining fat for about 30 seconds (until they were crisp tender).

Then I removed the green beans (to the fridge to cool) and sauteed the par cooked potatoes until they were nicely browned.

Then I put them in the fridge to cool.

While everything cooled I put together the dressing. Here's the ingredients:

1 clove garlic, minced,
1 orange, juiced
most of a lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
1 handful basil, julienned
salt and pepper
2 teaspoon key lime honey (not in the picture)

I whisked together all the ingredients. Tasted for seasoning and decided that it needed a little sweetening, so I searched the pantry and came up with key lime honey (score), so I added it to the mix.

Once the dressing was seasoned to my liking, I stirred in all of the salad ingredients (except for the goat cheese) and tossed the salad together.

I put this into the bowls and topped it with the goat cheese.

This was pretty tasty. Nice and light for the summer. A couple of tomatoes would have been a great addition to the mix. The husband said it was pretty good, but a little tangy for his taste. Overall, I'll give this dish a solid "B" (although the dressing get's an "A"). Room to improve, but not bad in any sense.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What's in the Box?

.4 pound Cremini Mushrooms
1.5 pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes
1 bunch Yellow Carrots
(although they don't look very yellow to me)
1 Cucumber

1 bunch Baby Bok Choy

2 Red Bell Peppers

.5 pound Green Beans
4 ear Corn
5 Pluots

4 Nectarines

.6 pound Red Grapes

.5 pound Bing Cherries