Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Broccoli & Cheddar Frittata

Can we play the top 5 cookbook game? Like the food nerd I am, I always love hearing about favorite cookbooks. I request new titles from the library every couple of weeks then bring them into bed at night to read like a novel. I would love some suggestions to add to my list. Comment below with the handful of books that you use the most (rather then think are the most beautiful - we can play that game another time).

Okay, here are mine:

-The Fresh & Green Table
-Super Natural Cooking
-The Nourished Kitchen
-Bon Appetit Magazine

Ones I have my eye on but haven't checked out yet - At Home in the Whole Foods Kitchen, One Pot, My New Roots, and The Kitchn Cookbook.

Part of this request comes from the fact that I'm officially cooking for a family of four. This little one year old of ours loves to eat. I don't think he's every turned anything down (once puckered at sour yogurt). It's so interesting to see how different our boys' tastes are. Last night, we had BLTs for dinner with the last stock of farm fresh beefsteak tomatoes (which you should do by the way) and Dylan wanted nothing to do with the bacon while Gray had four slices. 

Broccoli & Cheddar Frittata
Slightly adapted from The Fresh & Green Table

1/2 pound unpeeled small potatoes, I used a mix of purple and red
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 broccoli crown, cut into small florets (about 3 cups)
7 large eggs
1/3 cup whole milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups extra-sharp cheddar, coarsely grated
Kosher salt and black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 375F and position a rack in the center.

2. Put the potatoes and 1 teaspoon of salt in a medium saucepan, add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain well, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and set aside to cool.

3. In a 10-inch ovenproof skillet (a cast-iron skillet is perfect), melt 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the scallions, broccoli, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook for 2 minutes (the florets will be bright green and starting to brown on the bottom). Uncover and cook, stirring, until the florets are mostly brown on all sides and have lost much (but not all) of their stiffness, 3 to 4 minutes more. Add the broccoli mix to the potatoes and set aside to cool. Wipe out the skillet.

4. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, Worcestershire sauce, and pepper. Stir in the cheese then fold in the vegetables.

5. Return the skillet to medium-high and toss in the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter and 1 teaspoon of olive oil. When the butter has melted, pour all the frittata mixture into the hot pan. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir once or twice to move the mix around so that everything is even. Let the pan sit on the heat until the custard begins to set - 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer pan to the preheated oven and bake until frittata is puffed and golden, about 25 minutes (I like mine with crisp cheesy edges).

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Kale Salad with Toasted Coconut & Sesame Oil

I have been staying up too late lately (which means slightly past 10) working on projects and somewhat obsessively watching House of Cards. We are fully sucked in to the world of The Underwoods and I hate to think of what will happen when we finish up season 2. I was dragging this past Sunday so we decided to take an adventure to soak up the fresh sunny air which always gives me energy. Happily, that along with a couple cups of coffee did the trick. We rode The Chappy Ferry 527 feet to go crabbing off the bridge for the day. Dylan caught 25 crabs and may have had the best day of his life.

I have made this salad two times in the past few weeks and gobbled it down quickly each time. I almost always have the ingredients on hand so it's easy to pull together. The first time I used farro (as is called for) and the second time pearl barley (because I had it) and both were good but I prefer the farro version.

Kale Salad with Toasted Coconut & Sesame Oil
serves 4

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons shoyu, tamari, or soy sauce
3 1/2 lightly packed cups chopped kale, stems trimmed, large ribs removed
1 1/2 cups unsweetened large-flake coconut
2 cups cooked farro or other whole grain

1. Preheat the oven to 350F with a rack in the top third of the oven.

2. In a small bowl or jar, whisk or shake together the olive oil, sesame oil, and shoyu. Put the kale and coconut in a large bowl and toss well with about two-thirds of the olive oil mixture.

3. Spread the kale evenly across a baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 18 minutes, until the coconut is deeply golden brown, tossing once or twice along the way. If it begins to get too browned, move it to a lower rack.

4. Remove from the oven and transfer the kale mixture to a medium bowl. Taste. If you feel it needs a bit more dressing, and some and toss. Place the farro on a serving platter and top with the tossed kale. Serve warm.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Chickpea Salad Sandwiches

Maybe it's the change of seasons and weather (today is chilly and rainy after a long stretch of Indian summer) but my mind is filled with big questions - everything from weighing the pros and cons of another round of house renovations to considering new professional projects and how to work adventurous travel into our lives. I'm curious to see where they all take us.

We made these sandwiches for Gray's birthday party and have enjoyed them again since. They are good on buttered and toasted sprouted muffins as well as filled into warm pita pockets. I slice up tomatoes, cucumbers, thin red onion, and toss in arugula.

Chickpea Salad Sandwiches
Serves 4
From Super Natural Every Day

3 cups cooked chickpeas
1/3 cup chopped shallots
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
2/3 cup plain whole milk yogurt
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more if needed
1 lemon juiced and a bit of grated zest
Whole wheat rolls or pita bread
Vegetables for stuffing

(How sweet is Gray learning to talk with my mom's help. The Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass & Bluefish Derby is underway so a few gated beaches are unlocked. We'll take it.)

1. Pulse two-thirds of the chickpeas in a food processor a few times, just enough to break them up. Transfer them to a large mixing bowl along with the remaining whole chickpeas. Stir in the shallot, celery, and dill.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, yogurt, and salt. Toss the chickpeas with about two-thirds of the yogurt mixture. Add the lemon juice and zest and toss again. Have a taste and add more salt or lemon juice, if needed.

3. Spread a bit of the remaining yogurt across each piece of bread. Layer in sliced vegetables and chickpea salad. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Kale & White Bean Soup with Croutons

I hope I don't give the false impression that my kids eat everything. They most certainly do not. As a matter of fact, preschool pick up yesterday reminded me of this fact. The question of the day was "There are pea shoot growing in our garden. Will you try one?" and I noticed Dylan placed his name tag in the very sparsely populated "No"column. I smiled seeing this.

Our kids have tastes all their own and it's fun to see what they like. Recently, Gray dove for a spicy pork taco (literally dove and completely enjoyed it) while Dylan has never had a bite of pork in his 4 years. No interest. Of course, I want to make sure they are both eating a balanced diet so I've found ways to make food work for them. For example soup - total winner at our house. They will both eat most any soup if the vegetables are chopped very small. Right. So, I've come to depend on the food processor to do the soup chopping for me. It's a great tool to whiz up onion, carrot, greens, broccoli, cauliflower, or whatever before sauteing it in the soup pot.

Kale & White Bean Soup with Croutons
Inspired by The Fresh and Green Table
serves 4

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion
1 carrot
2 garlic cloves
2 bunches kale, stemmed
3 cups chicken stock (sub vegetable if you'd like)
1 (15-ounce) can white beans
2 lemons
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups of of 1" bread cubes
salt and pepper

1. First whiz the onion, carrot, and garlic in a food processor until it is finely chopped. Remove and whiz the kale leaves until they are a size you like.

2. In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion/carrot/garlic mixture and a 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cover and cook for 5 to 6 minutes. Uncover and let the vegetables brown up. This usually takes another 5 minutes.

3. Add the kale, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Stir around for a couple of minutes then add in the stock and 2 cups of water. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Add the beans and the juice of 1 lemon. Turn off heat and taste for salt, pepper, and lemon - add more if you like.

4. While the soup cooks make the croutons. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Toss in the bread cubes and sprinkle with salt. When they crisp up on one side, toss again and allow to crisp up a second time.

5. Serve soup with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, lemon wedge, and croutons.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Creamed Collard Greens

I made these Creamed Collard Greens about a month ago on the first day it "dipped" into the 60s. I know I'll curse myself later for feeling this way but buttoning up jeans and slipping on socks for the first time in four months feels nice. We're in the midst of unpacking our fall clothes and putting away our summer shorts and t-shirts. I always have fun revisiting my stuff but pulling Dylan's old 12 month clothes out for Gray is a trip back to a different city and life - but I swear he just wore this shirt.

New cozy clothes need new cozy food, right?

Creamed Collard Greens
serves 4 to 6
from The Nourished Kitchen

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 bunches collard greens, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Melt the butter in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When it froths, decrease the heat to medium, stir in the onion, and fry until fragrant and a bit caramelized at the edges, 6 to 8 minutes.

Toss the chopped collards into the skillet and cook, stirring until slightly wilted, about 2 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium-low, stir in the heavy cream, and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes, until the cream is reduced by half and thickened (this took me longer then 6 minutes). Sprinkle with the nutmeg and serve (I also sprinkled with salt at this stage).

PS. These are great whizzed in a food processor or chopped up for a little eater. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Gray's 1st Birthday: Spiced Applesauce Cake

“when i have said my evening prayer, 
and my clothes are folded on my chair, 
mama and papa switch off the light, 
i'll still be 11 months old tonight. 

 but from the very break of day, 
before the children rise and play, 
before the darkness turns to gold, 
tomorrow i'll be one years old… 
one kiss when i wake, 
one candle on my cake. 

 a goodnight kiss for the eleven month old 
to send him to sleep and to dreaming. 
and blessings to the one year old 
who'll be carried from bed in the morning.”

And so it happened. Today, on the first day of fall, our baby turns 1 year old. I've held this body and looked at this face change every day and night for 365 days. We have only been apart for an hour or so here and there. Gray has completed our family. It's a bittersweet ending to the infant chapter of life at our house. And, as the old story goes, it went by so fast.

Spiced Applesauce Cake
from Smitten Kitchen

For cake
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup walnuts (optional), toasted, cooled, and chopped

For frosting
5 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter an 8- or 9-inch square or round cake pan. I had no trouble getting my cake out of a nonstick pan by just buttering it, but if you don’t have a nonstick cake pan or are a little nervous, line the bottom with parchment paper and butter that too.

Make cake: Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in applesauce. At low speed, mix in flour mixture until just combined, then stir in walnuts (if using). The batter will look a little curdly and uneven but don’t worry, it will all bake up perfectly in the end.

Spread batter evenly in pan and bake until golden-brown and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake to loosen, then invert onto a plate. Reinvert cake onto a rack to cool completely. You can speed this up, as I always do, in the fridge.

Make frosting: Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy. Sift confectioners sugar and cinnamon over cream cheese mixture, then beat at medium speed until incorporated. Spread frosting over top of cooled cake.

Friday, September 19, 2014

After School Snacks: Wholesome Banana Bread & Chia Pudding

This year I was armed and ready for the after school crash. Dylan is just 4 years old and his preschool days really drain him and sometimes that draining turns after school time at home into crazy town. Happily, that hasn't happened much this September but maybe we are in the honeymoon phase? Either way, I have been surprising him with sweet homemade snacks for after school (remember his serious sweet tooth!) and audio books queued up for a rest on the sofa. So far, banana bread made with date sugar and walnuts and chia pudding made with coconut milk and nectarines have been winners. Both are special, filling, and healthful.

PS. Photos snapped on my phone from one of our recent walks.

Wholesome Banana Bread
makes 1 9-inch loaf or 2 smaller loaves

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup date sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
3 1/2 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 F. In a bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. In a separate bowl beat together the sugar and eggs for about 5 minutes then drizzle in the melted coconut oil.

Add the bananas, creme fraiche, and vanilla and mix just until combined. Using a spatula, fold in the flour mixture and nuts just until evenly mixed. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours for a 9-inch loaf and about 45 minutes for 2 smaller loaves. It's done when the top is golden brown and the center springs back when you touch it. Let the bread cool in the pan for 30 minutes then pop out to cool completely.

Cooking with chia seeds was totally new to me but it was so super fun and easy! I didn't realize all you do is shake the seeds in a liquid mixture and they magically turn to pudding. This is a total science experiment (and involves aggressive shaking) so it's perfect for kids.

Coconut-Nectarine Chia Pudding
makes 6-8 snacks

1 can lite coconut milk
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup chia seeds
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup peeled and diced nectarines (you can use any fruit you like - banana, mango, blueberries)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pinch cinnamon

Put all the ingredients in a large mason jar, stir, secure the lid and shake for 1 full minute. Let the jar rest on the counter for 15 minutes then shake again. Put the jar in the fridge and wait 2-3 hours for the pudding to thicken. When you are ready to serve, scoop it out and top with anything you like from extra maple syrup to fruit slices, nuts, or toasted coconut.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Cast Iron Skillet Chicken Thighs: Two Ways

Our fall schedule is in full swing - preschool, carpools, soccer practice, and everything in between. Our days are packed tight and come dinner time we are all overtired and hungry. A few weeks ago I experimented with a dump a lot of stuff in the cast iron skillet and throw chicken thighs on top of it recipe and, because it worked so well, that method is now our go to weekday dinner. I

f you're not a chicken eater it's worth making these recipes and simply omitting the chicken. The underlying vegetables, grains, and beans are my favorite parts. Here are our two top combinations:

Chicken Thighs with Chard, Barley & Zucchini:
serves 4

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup barley
1 cup chicken stock (sub vegetable stock if you'd like)
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1 bunch swiss chard, leaves removed from stems and torn into small pieces
1 small zucchini, cut lengthwise then sliced
2 cloves garlic, smashed
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
4 springs fresh thyme,
Kosher salt and black pepper

Fist, preheat the oven to 425 F. Add the olive oil to a cast iron skillet and pour in the barley, chicken stock, tomatoes, chard, zucchini, garlic, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Toss well with your hands and mash the whole tomatoes up as you go. Crank on some pepper.

Arrange the chicken thighs on top of the mixture, sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, and toss in the thyme. Roast for 35-45 minutes. If you like extra crisp skin, put the pan under the broiler for the last few minutes.

Chicken Thighs with White Beans, Kale & Tomatoes:
serves 4

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 15-ounces cans cannellini beans, rinsed
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (leave out for kids)
1 bunch kale, leaves remove from stems and torn into small pieces
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
4 springs fresh thyme
1/2 a lemon, sliced
Kosher salt and black pepper

First, preheat the oven to 425 F. Add the olive oil to a cast iron skillet and pour in the beans, tomatoes, garlic, crushed red pepper, kale, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Crank on some pepper. Toss with your hands.

Arrange the chicken thighs on top of the mixture, sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, and toss in the thyme and lemon slices. Roast for 35-45 minutes. If you like extra crisp skin, put the pan under the broiler for the last few minutes.

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