Thursday, July 23, 2009

What would summer be without zucchini?

To my Dearest Friends and Family:

I have a most wonderful and generous gift for you. Zucchini. Joking. Really, I am.

Seriously, something would be wrong with summer if we didn't end up with pounds and pounds of squash of every variety. The first week we were promised two pounds of squash, but ended up getting four pounds. The next week two more pounds, and this last week three more pounds. Uhhh, I haven't even finished the squash from the first week. Oh, and yes I did give some to my mom and dad. Squash is the gift that keeps on giving and giving and giving.

That being said...what to do with this vegetable? A friend suggested grating it and then freezing it to use later and add to red pasta sauce, etc. (nothing that requires it to be crispy/fresh tasting). A brilliant idea, I must say.

My other uses are more run of the mill but have given us delicious results. One, we've quartered medallion squash, tossed it in fresh ground pepper, kosher salt and olive oil and grilled it. The second is something that no summer cook's kitchen should be without - Zucchini Bread.

This recipe is from Martha Stewart and is one of our favorite things (yes, I have made it two weeks in a row). I dressed mine up with a half cup of coconut and a bunch of Belgian chocolate chips. The full cooking time seems to be a little long, so if you're at low altitude, I suggest shaving off 5 - 10 minutes.

2 cups finely grated zucchini (about 2 zucchini)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

DIRECTIONS Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat two 4 1/2-by-8 1/2-inch loaf pans with nonstick spray, line with parchment paper, and spray paper. Combine zucchini, sugars, oil, and eggs in a large bowl and mix until combined. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in nuts and extract. Divide batter between loaf pans. Bake until a tester inserted in the middle of each loaf comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Cool 10 minutes on wire rack. Invert, and remove parchment paper. Cool completely on rack.

Here are the finished results (not sure why my large loaf "fell." This didn't happen the first time we made this).

Meal of the Week

This week as part of our farm share we got lots of herbs (red sorrel, dill, parsley and scallions. It's been rather chilly and rainy here in New York, so I decided to make Carrot Soup. This soup is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. and delicious (and super fast). I made the soup on Monday night in about 30 minutes, and we ate it again this evening. Don't skip any part of it - the purée makes it into something spectacular and you get some extra veggies. The creme fraiche adds a lot too, although we've been known to use heavy cream if that's what we have on hand.

My mom made this soup for our Easter dinner, and I'll admit that I was skeptical at first. Everyone was in love with the soup and we've made it several times since. It also freezes very well.

Carrot Soup with Herb Purée (from the Washington Post)

MAKE AHEAD: The soup and puree can be made a day in advance, covered and refrigerated. Reheat over low until thoroughly heated through, because the creme fraiche and herb puree in each portion will cool the soup down. 8 servings.


For the soup
  • 1 pound carrots, trimmed, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 mangoes (8 ounces total), peeled, seeded and cut into strips (1 cup)
  • 1 medium (8-ounce) russet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 quarts low-sodium vegetable broth
For the puree
  • 1 cup (about 1 ounce) herbaceous green leaves, such as carrot greens, watercress leaves or flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped, dark-green parts only
  • 1 small bunch dill, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
For assembly
  • 1/2 cup creme fraiche or mascarpone cheese


For the soup: Combine the carrots, mangoes, potato, pepper, salt, sugar and vegetable broth in a large pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium; cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the carrots and potatoes are soft. Remove from the heat.

Working in batches, use a food processor to puree the soup until it is smooth. (The carrots will not break down completely, so expect the soup to have a slightly grainy texture. Alternatively, an immersion blender can be used right in the pot.) If not serving the soup immediately, let it cool, then cover and refrigerate.

For the puree: Combine the green leaves, spinach, scallions and dill; wash them well.

Bring 8 cups of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat, then remove from the heat. Add the greens, stirring just until they have wilted. Drain in a colander and run cold water over them until they are completely cooled.

Squeeze out as much water as possible from the greens, then place in a food processor along with the salt, pepper and oil. Run the machine for 30 seconds, until the puree is smooth. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use.

To assemble, divide the creme fraiche and puree among individual bowls, then ladle the soup on top.

Recipe Source:

From columnist David Hagedorn. Photo courtesy of the Washington Post.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Official Food, Inc. Movie Site - Hungry For Change?

Official Food, Inc. Movie Site - Hungry For Change?

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Week 1

As I said in my first post, it's taken me about two months to get around to doing this, so I'm totally racking my brain here to go back in time (the mommy brain has made me VERY forgetful). I promise I will include pictures as I go along.

Most of my recipes are quick fixes in 30 - 40 minutes. Being a mother of a running and very busy toddler, and working full time, I need to put together healthy meals fast.

Anyway, here's the menu we had for our first meal with CSA veggies. The hubby said he felt like there was a "kickboxing match" going on in his mouth. (yes, that's a direct quote) I had to agree. The idea for the sage brown butter sauce was given to me from my friend Kyndra.

Fresh Sage Brown Butter Sauce over Fresh Pasta
Mixed Greens Salad
Homemade French Baguette
(time: 30 minutes MAX)

Fresh Sage Brown Butter Sauce over Fresh Pasta
3 - 5 TBS unsalted butter
2 TBS coarsely chopped fresh sage
1 lb. fresh ravioli or other fresh cooked pasta
fresh parmasan cheese

Melt butter over medium heat. When fully melted stir in fresh sage. Continue to cook butter and stir constantly until butter begins to turn brown, but not burn, approximately 5 - 7 minutes. Toss sauce with fresh hot cooked pasta and top with parmesan. Serve immediately (bread is excellent dipped in the extra sauce).

Fresh Arugula salad:
Red Leaf Lettuce
Garlic Scapes

Toss together and serve. The salad was so flavorful we didn't use any dressing, but feel free to add something should you feel so inclined. Right now I'm LOVING the locally produced Kerry Wood Tuscany dressing I purchased at Whole Foods two weeks ago. SO worth it (delicious!)

French Baguettes (courtesy of Martha Stewart)
I made this recipe over the weekend, and the results were excellent. It was a long (but easy) process and very much worth the effort.

The recipe is so long and in depth, that I'm going to only hyperlink to this one here. It's a very authentic loaf.

Bon Appetit!

Food, Inc.

If you haven't seen the movie Food, Inc. yet, I highly recommend it. This movie changes your life and the way you view food. I haven't totally given up on meat, dairy, etc. BUT I will say I've become more selective about what I eat and what I feed my family.

Read more about the movie here and find where it is playing in your neck of the woods.

I have come to learn the importance of either having a garden or eating local "in season" foods. The quality is better, and so much healthier for you. Plus, it's better for the environment. I've been proud of myself so far because I feel like what I am doing is not only healthier for my family, but is so much better for the environment. Eating foods that are fresh and in season is how God intended it, not grabbing some chemically, corn filled product off the supermarket shelves.

Have you seen the movie? What are your thoughts?

The Summer of Community Sustained Agriculture

This summer we decided to join a CSA (community sustained agriculture). For those of you not familiar with a CSA, members pay a farmer a certain amount of money in the early spring to share in the harvest later. The duration averages approximately 22 - 24 weeks and members are brought fruit and vegetables weekly (in our case on Mondays). You can read more about CSA's here.

The mission of our summer was to A. eat more vegetables, and B. lose weight. Since we have so much fresh produce coming in weekly, we must eat several servings of vegetables daily. This has forced me to become VERY creative and I have already learned so much thus far. I'm being exposed to produce that I normally wouldn't buy (i.e. swiss chard and beets), or things I've never heard of (i.e. rat tail radishes, sorrel, and garlic scapes). The goal is to not waste a single thing, and so far I've been doing quite well!

I've been contemplating creating this blog for two months now, and I've decided to finally take the plunge. This will be my place to record and share the weekly recipes I try using produce that is in SEASON, not shipped in from far away places. The taste of local produce is undeniably the best thing about the CSA. When we ate our first meal made with local, fresh produce we went crazy. Norris said: "This is what lettuce and arugula is SUPPOSED to taste like." The flavors were amazing. From that point on I was fully converted.

I hope you enjoy reading about my experience and challenge each of you to find a local farmer to support. You won't be disappointed!