Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pickles: three recipes

UPDATE: I'm thrilled to announce that my recipe for zucchini chips co-won the Can You Can It? preserving contest hosted by Eve at The Garden of Eating. Thanks to all the Ninj's followers who voted! I'm looking forward to tackling some new preserving projects from my prize, Put 'em Up!: A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook, from Drying and Freezing to Canning and Pickling

Three kinds of pickles
Three for the price of one today.

Let's get busy before the cucumbers and zucchini are gone for another year:

1. Best-Ever Dill Pickles
The first one, I will admit, is really just a repeat of last year's pickles.

However, they were my first foray into pickling and were billed by BHG as "Best-Ever Dill Pickles", so the recipe bears repeating. They were truly some of the best dill pickles I've tasted, so I'd encourage you to give them a try.

Recipe: Best-Ever Dill Pickles

Friday, August 26, 2011

Gazpacho: a recipe

I'm a huge fan of soups, mainly because of how quick and easy they usually are. Even better? Cold soups -- perfect for summer, as no cooking is required.

Even better than better? Gazpacho.

There are very few other dishes so chock-full of all the freshest veg from the garden. Gazpacho lets you feel slightly smug that you are nourishing your body with a bajillion servings of vegetables with every spoonful.

The gazpacho recipe I use comes from my chef friend Liz Tarpy, who first crafted it in 2009 for the Maine Cottage newsletter.

(Sidebar: If you like this blog, you pretty much have Liz to thank for it. Not only did she give me my first-ever set of recipes, written out creatively on the waitress order pads that we used during our high school summer job, she also encouraged me to find my creative voice in the food world. Thanks, Liz!)

I like Liz's recipe because there all sorts of ways that you can vary it, based on what fresh ingredients you have on hand (or what you received in your CSA share).

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday: goats

The goat equivalent of licking the bowl. Some meals are just that good.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Blueberry crostata: a recipe

Blueberry crostata
I almost feel like a cheater, posting this recipe.

Why? Because it's so close to my tried-and-true short-cut fruit galette recipe.

But I just had to post because not only was it a crowd-pleasing dessert, it also facilitated some cool moments / realizations.

First: I made them with my brother.

I can say with certainty that I have never before in my life made anything in the kitchen with my brother. Yes, we deep-fried a turkey in the driveway together last year but that's not really quite the same, is it? So this was a cool first-time experience, made even more hilarious when he said he felt "ninja-like" during the process.

Second: My 12-year-old nephew is interested in cooking so he joined in the action. I barely knew how to boil water when I left college, for cripes's sake, let alone make a snazzy dessert as a pre-teen, so I'm jazzed by his interest.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Zucchini chips: a recipe

Zucchini chips
If you follow the Ninj on Facebook, you already know that my zucchini fell victim to the dreaded and disgusting squash vine borer this year, so I may be the only gardener in Vermont that actually has to buy zucchini right now. But I love the stuff, so I'm faking having an overabundance of it that I need to use up (shhh ... don't tell).

I made some zucchini refrigerator pickles yesterday that won't be ready for a day or two, so I'll give you an update on those next week.

I also made zucchini chips in my dehydrator.

If you don't own a dehydrator, go buy one. Seriously. It doesn't even matter if it's the lame-ass Ronco kind, it will still work. And it's amazing the stuff you can make with meat, veggies, fruit and more (the Ninjette is a big fan of chicken jerky and banana roll-ups).

Word on the street is that you can also achieve a similar effect by drying stuff in your oven at a very, very low temperature, but I can't vouch for that, as I've never tried it. Moreover, I doubt you'd want to keep your oven occupied for 14 hours in some cases.

Back to the chips.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Banana cake for the Ninj's first birthday: a recipe

Banana cake ... er ... bread?
Well, happy birthday -- the Ninj is one year old!

Yep, one year and 110 posts later, here we are. And of course we have to celebrate a milestone birthday with cake.

Yay ... CAKE!

Until it turns out to be bread in cake's clothing.

I got this recipe from sasasunakku (love her site and her understanding of hangrrr!) and was really excited: banana CAKE! Apparently an old-school New Zealand favorite! How international the Ninj's first birthday would be!

So I made said cake. And it looked beautiful, thanks to the flowery kugelhupf pan (look at it up there -- wicked!). I even broke out my rarely-if-ever-used snazzy cake stand for the photo shoot. Nice.

Monday, August 8, 2011

CSA Share Ninja Rescue: corn

Cornbread muffins
Ah, sweet corn! Thank goodness you are back in season.

I don't even bother with plain corn-on-the-cob much anymore, since I discovered how amazingly sweet and awesome fresh corn kernels are when zipped right off the cob and used in salads, soups and sides.

(This OXO Good Grips corn zipper is the easiest, least messy way to strip the kernels from the cob, because it holds the kernels right in the built-in cup -- I love mine and can't recommend it highly enough!)

I would love to hear what your favorite corn recipes are. But for those of you who received corn in your CSA share or for whom the 8-gallion-ears-for-$2 roadside stands are popping up all over, here are some of the Ninj's current faves:

Friday, August 5, 2011

Cold cucumber and avocado chowder with shrimp: a recipe

Now, all of you regular readers know that I love Mark Bittman. And this is another one of his great recipes from The Food Matters Cookbook.

But he refers to this as not only a chowder but also a cold soup. Really, Mark? It is neither.

What it is is a delicious, healthy cold salad, perfect for hot summer days.

So why no picture of said salad, you may ask? Because this is another one of those dishes that tastes better than it looks.

(But hey now, just take a look at my awesome little Kirby cukes there on the vine! I sense pickles in our future...)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

(Not Even Nearly) Wordless Wednesday: kitchen refresh

We moved into a new house this spring, and the kitchen needed a bit of an update.

There was nothing wrong with the layout and the cabinets and appliances were in fine condition. So why the update?

First, because it was very, very blue: countertops, sink, walls.

And it was also a little dated. And lastly, it had an electric range.

The Ninj doesn't do electric.

So we decided on a kitchen refresh, as opposed to a full-blown kitchen remodel: no ripping up floors or tearing out cabinets, just a little updating.

Monday, August 1, 2011

CSA Share Ninja Rescue: zucchini

Zucchini cornbread
Yes, it's that time, when the zucchini really starts to come in and most gardeners are up to their eyeballs in the stuff.

Most gardeners, that is, except the Ninj, whose crop -- for the third year in a row in three different locations and two different states 800 miles apart, mind you -- was attacked by the extremely disgusting squash vine borer.

Nasty. I wouldn't wish this bug on my worst enemy. Well, maybe my worst.

So while you are drowning in zucchini and perhaps even leaving large bags of it on your neighbor's porch just to be rid of it, I may just be the only gardener in Vermont actually paying for the stuff. Sniff.

Regardless of how you come by it, here are some excellent ways to use all that zucchini from this week's CSA share: