Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Summer harvest zucchini bread: a recipe

Summer harvest zucchini bread
Harvest time in the garden is the most rewarding time of the year.

But it can also be the time when you realize your planning and planting mistakes and, hopefully, learn some lessons.

This year's lesson learned?

Two people cannot eat this much zucchini.

(Especially when one of the aforementioned two people has never met a vegetable he liked.)

Yes, folks, it's zucchini overload time here in Ninjaville, as I'm sure it is where you live as well. You know this time well: large quantities of the stuff start showing up in the break room at work, with little "Help Yourself!" signs.

Don't get me wrong, I love zucchini -- heck, that's why I planted it. (Way too much of it, apparently, but that's a "lesson learned" now, water under the bridge. )

So, if you have indeed helped yourself to someone else's zucchini bounty or have found yourself overwhelmed by the prolific courgette, I have a completely wicked way for you to make it useful.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Nicoise toasts: a recipe

Nicoise toasts
I'm excited to be sharing this recipe with you ... finally.

You see, I thought I had lost my entire photo library two weeks ago.

For the average citizen, this would be tragic -- losing all those captured memories, once-in-lifetime shots, images of loved ones.

But for a food blogger? Ay yi yi!

As I have mentioned before, what you see here is what we eat. I don't create advanced posts and save them up and I certainly don't make special recipes only for the blog. Simply, I take photos of the food we eat about two seconds before we eat it. And, given how many awesome things there are to create and eat in the world, I find myself heeding Amanda Hesser's recent advice and rarely making the same dish twice.

(Except for salted oatmeal cookies. I'll continue to beat that dead horse over and over and over.)

So, if I lost the photos of what we've eaten, I'd have to try to recreate not only the recipes but also all the photos. You probably would have noticed a few week hiatus on the blog and heard me wailing all the way from wherever it is you live.

Luckily, data recovery software works and we're back in business here in Ninjaville.

Which leads us back to these nicoise toasts.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sweet and spicy slaw: a recipe

Sweet and spicy slaw
Yesterday I posted a whole bunch of recipe suggestions for how to use up all the cabbage that shows up in your CSA box.

I rediscovered cabbage a few years ago by using it raw. I did the same with kale and it really opened up new possibilities (try using a leaf of raw kale on your turkey sandwich instead of lettuce -- awesome crunch and better flavor).

But, to empathize better with my readers (since I pretty much am my own CSA this year), I decided to try out a new slaw recipe. And they had already requested that it not be an Asian-style slaw (apparently a lot of recipes sites think that's all you can do with Napa cabbage).

The inspiration recipe was for a honey-mustard dressing but I thought it would be better with a little more kick, a little less predictable taste.

Zowee. Much better!

Monday, July 23, 2012

CSA Share Ninja Rescue: cabbage

Cabbage conundrum.

At least, that's what I'm hearing from you. You want new and interesting things to with cabbage.

And, specifically, no more recipes for Asian-style slaw!

If, like me, you grew up on stewed red cabbage, you, too, may immediately think, "Eeew ... cabbage!" But never fear: as with pork chops, once you figure out there are alternatives to the way it was prepared in the 1970s, you'll become a fan.

Note: some of these recipes aren't chilly and summery, but they definitely are seasonal, given the cabbagey emphasis.

And I couldn't entirely ignore slaw, as it is one of the finest vehicles for raw cabbage, but I promise this one isn't Asian.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Blueberry-peach muffins: a recipe

Blueberry-peach muffins
There truly is nothing like fresh summer fruit in season, is there?

The berries, the stone fruits, the melons -- they are all so sweet, so delicious and so plentiful.

I try to freeze and preserve as much of that summery goodness as I can to enjoy throughout the winter, but it's just not quite the same as eating the real deal in real time, is it?

And this year, we're eating plump blueberries from our very own bushes!

Last year (our first on the farmette), the blueberry bushes did not seem to be big producers and what they did produce was quickly eaten by the birds.

But we got a little craftier this year.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Soft lemon cookies: a recipe

Soft lemon cookies
I always feel pretty victorious when I find a cookie or dessert recipe that not only tastes delicious but also is not loaded with fat and calories. (Seriously -- I have a victory dance, which is startlingly close to my I-told-you-so-dance, just not quite as sassy.)

However, given that I have been known to candy bacon and salt the bejaysus out of my cookies, that doesn't happen as often as I'd like here in Ninjaville.

But I've got one for you today: a recipe that makes three dozen delightfully yummy lemon cookies but uses only four measly tablespoons of butter.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Strawberry-lemon marmalade and marmalade muffins

Strawberry-lemon marmalade, used to make marmalade muffins
I can't believe we're already halfway through the Cook It! 2012 challenge! We've made and shared so many awesome staples and recipes so far: pasta, bread, butter, cheese, lactofermented veg (pickles) and now jam.

Well, in my case, marmalade.

According to the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving, a marmalade is nothing more than a jam or jelly with fruit peel suspended in it.

I'd call that jam with zing!

I'm not new to making jams and jellies, so this challenge didn't fill me with any real trepidation. But I did want to do something a little bit different. However, I picked a time when the only fresh fruit to be had was strawberries.

(Believe me, I'm not complaining. Who the heck would complain about fresh strawberries?)

But everyone does strawberry jam and that wouldn't be very Challenge-ish, now would it?

Hence the strawberry-lemon marmalade.

Monday, July 9, 2012

CSA Share Ninja Rescue: Summer Squash

Photo courtesy of David Lat via stock.xchng
I'm sure you guessed that, after highlighting zucchini last week, summer squash would be showing up next.

Guess what? Today is "next." 

Everybody can saute squash and what not, so I tried to feature a couple of recipes that were a bit more on the unusual or adventurous side.

As always, if you need help with a veggie you've received in your CSA share, leave a comment below or send me an email before this coming Friday.

Recipes suggestions are posted on Mondays.

  • Summer squash soup: From The Kitchn -- they had me at "simple."
  • Summer squash gratin: You know me -- I'd probably sneak some sausage into this dish from 101 Cookbooks and turn it into a main dish.
  • Grilled squash and zucchini: From Epicurious, this recipe originally appeared in Gourmet. I like it because of the light dressing that you add after grilling.
  • Squash marmalade: This has got to the best use of excess squash I've ever seen. Can't you just see it on zucchini bread? (from Joyce at Friends Drift Inn)

If you try any of these recipes or have a favorite squash recipe of your own, tell me about it in the comments below!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Pickled radishes: make and use

Pickled radish and avocado bruschetta
I have posted about pickled radishes before but this is different.

These are MY radishes.

That is, I grew these radishes in my garden. From seed I sowed directly into the ground.

This may not sound like a big deal to you but it actually is. You see, I'm still a gardening novice and, given the super-short summer growing season here in Vermont, I start all my garden plants inside during the late winter and then transplant them into the garden.

Frankly, I'm a little gun-shy about direct sowing.

Two years ago, I tried direct sowing carrot seeds -- and got nothing.

Last year, I tried turnips -- and got nothing.

So I held out very little hope for the radish seeds I planted this year when I transplanted all my seedlings.