It’s my sweetheart Jacob’s birthday week!
I was going to use this photo of homegrown herbs used in last week’s meals to illustrate this post:
But now I feel I must also include these snaps of Jacob + kitten, because the cuteness factor is so truly ridiculous. Then we’ll get to the meals, I promise.
Oh my gosh.
So, in honor of this most auspicious occasion (and because we eat the meals for the week, just like you do—I am sure not slaving over my home stove to make a birthday dinner in this heat, my friends! [Though some desserts might or might not be up my sleeve…]), I’ve planned meals I know Jacob likes, which I am betting you will like too:
- Seitan and mushroom stroganoff: creamy and filling, with bow tie pasta.
- Braised fennel and white beans: local fennel and herbs in a broth enriched with slivers of garlic, plump beans, and olive oil.
- Feijoada (Brazilian rice and beans) with seasonal vegetables: A homey and lively take on rice and beans, with black olives, orange zest, and more.
- Garlicky kale: yums yums yums! I don’t consider myself a health food vegan in any way, but I could eat kale sauteed with garlic, a bit of my homemade garlic vinegar, and olive oil pretty much all day long.
- Chinese steamed buns with dipping sauce: Buns! A pillowy dough around a filling of slivered local shiitake mushrooms, shredded veggies, ginger, spices, and more.
- Asian cabbage slaw: zesty!
- Soup: minestrone: I see no problem with eating soup in the summertime. With some toasty bread, it’s a perfect light supper for hot days when you don’t want to eat too much. This one freezes well, too.
- Salad dressing: lavender-balsamic vinaigrette: I’m on a lavender kick! So is my garden, luckily.
Did I invent shiitake bacon? I honestly can’t remember. I think I might have had it in a restaurant in Montreal, actually. My version is made from shiitakes that have been allowed to air dry for a day or so which are then tossed with large amounts of extra virgin olive oil, shoyu, and sea salt and roasted until they are just on the edge of burnt. Then I crumble them up (though you don’t have to). If I’m in an ambitious mood I then smoke the whole business, but usually I just use it as is, for a big hit of umami and deep, dark, rich saltiness. Yum!
(Update! The internet is full of shiitake bacon recipes! Ahh, hive mind.)
Have a great week!
So clichéd, I know, but I couldn’t resist!
This week’s meals are summertime to the max, and I couldn’t be more excited.
English peas, still snap peas, the first of the summer squash, baby carrots, spinach, man oh man! I have to moderate my excitement so I don’t start running around in circles like a Tasmanian devil (which they really do! I saw this dude in Tasmania doing it. So weird.).
Here’s the agenda for the week to come, and a photo of me feeding a wallaby in Australia, just for kicks.
- Summer squash tart with olives and oregano: a savory tart! Phyllo dough, caramelized onions, garden herbs, and of course summer squash.
- Braised cauliflower with Kalamata vinaigrette
- Artichoke, olive, and preserved lemon tagine with chermoula and harissa sauces: probably one of the best meals I make. No joke.
- Roasted Hakurei turnips with lavender
- Gourmet sloppy joes with homemade focaccia bread: yep, firing up the pizza oven on the summer solstice weekend. The bread is worth it!
- Mixed lettuces and roasted bitter greens with pink peppercorn-tarragon “ranch” dressing
- Soup: S´chee (Russian cabbage soup): can be eaten cold, sort of like a Russian gazpacho (OK, I made that up, but it makes sense, really!).
- Salad dressing: Mustard and roasted garlic dressing
If you’d like to place an order, just let me know.
Wow, hello Friday! I got a bunch of wholesale chocolate orders this week and now here we are at Friday, and I didn’t post the pictures from last week’s (well, this week’s still) cooking yet! Let’s go!
Two words, all caps: SUGAR SNAPS!
Last week, I was talking to Farmer Sam as I picked up my CSA share (see below for more on that) and I remarked on their neat and tidy peas climbing so sweetly up their poles: “English peas? Do you guys have sugar snaps, too?” Sam said that his partner, Erin, won’t grow sugar snap peas because she doesn’t like them. He mumbled something about them being a “cop-out,” I believe. Or that she didn’t like the flavor. Hrumph! Erin is a true gourmand, so I shan’t doubt the righteousness of her palate, but how a person can like English (shelling) peas over rough & ready sugar snaps is beyond me. (I’ve long suspected that she’s more sophisticated than me, and this perhaps proves it!)
Shelling all those little pods is akin to working with fava beans, to be honest: nice work, but not if you’re cooking for 20 families. I’m not ashamed to admit that I used great, freshly picked, organic frozen peas in last week’s peas and carrots dish: I actually like them more than fresh peas, because (insane amounts of shelling required not withstanding), it seems to me that unless they are literally hours old, English peas always taste a little carbohydrate-y to me. More dense than vegetal, in a way.
So it is with pleasure that I embrace the sugar snap pea: never needs shelling, only stringing (and when I’m eating them for myself alone [and sugar snaps are one of those veggies that I tend to gorge on until I get a stomach ache when I get the first batch of them of the season, because I apparently cannot be trusted to be alone with vegetables.] I don’t even do that), and they somehow taste more green to me.
In truth, I’m excited to taste Erin & Sam’s peas, because I’m sure they will be great and might even change my opinion of the shelling pea world. But! All this buildup is really just to get you excited for the fact that Sunday I’ll be picking up a big box of sugar snaps from Pete Taliaferro. Yay! I see stomach aches in my future! The ones I don’t eat raw will be going into the Farrotto, which is a Tuscan dish somewhat like risotto, but made with farro, a whole grain akin to wheat berries.
I’ve also got more baby carrots, succulent swiss chard and other greens for the creamed greens side, lots upon lots of local shiitake and oyster mushrooms, and more, all arriving soon…oh, June! You’re too good to us grumpy old cooks.
The full menu, just let me know if you’d like to order:
- Wide rice noodles with southeast Asian pesto, smoked tofu, and fresh broccoli and red peppers — a very nice, light, fresh-tasting noodle dish. There aren’t enough of those in the world, don’t you think?
- Grilled shiitake mushrooms and greens with ginger and scallions — in which I break out the grill pan. Charred local scallions plus rich, deeply-flavored shiitakes. Yum yum.
- Farrotto (Tuscan risotto made with farro) with artichokes and seasonal vegetables — and sugar snap peas!
- Satiny creamed local greens — sublime, especially if you crave greens like I do.
- Creole sautéed mushrooms and kidney beans with housemade seitan sausage –a great family meal.
- Pecan dirty rice — the New Orleans classic, only, you know, healthier!
- Soup: Roasted red pepper soup with basil cream — smooth and creamy, with homegrown basil.
- Salad dressing: Romesco vinaigrette — an all time favorite. Nutty, rich with roasted almonds, roasted red peppers, lemon juice, and more. More of a sauce than a vinaigrette, really.
I’m a huge advocate of Community Supported Agriculture, but I’ve never actually bought a CSA share, because I use larger quantities of food that make it somewhat impractical. But this year, my sweet pals Erin and Sam offered to work out a deal where I could buy a few CSA shares from their Second Wind CSA (located in Gardiner at Four Winds Farm, about three minutes from my house) and get less diversity of ingredients but larger quantities, which will work for my cookin’ needs.
So, I’m beyond proud to now be among the ranks of CSA supporters (though “supporters” doesn’t really work since “support” is what the S in CSA stands for but, well, you get my meaning.) Last week was the first pick up. I got to take a little walk around the farm with Farmer Sam, too. Here are a few snaps.
- Farmer Sam in front of the player piano that lives in the barn…