Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Fun with Foie Gras – Part 2

Thursday, August 15th, 2013 by virginia

As you may remember, Josh got me an entire lobe of foie gras for our anniversary/Valentine’s Day. We portioned it out into slices and froze it for future use. These days, it’s still pretty rare for us to have an obligation-free Saturday to ourselves, especially with a baby that demands every little bit of our attention. So when the opportunity came up for us to spend our day in leisure, we jumped at the chance to cook up some more foie gras. I was particularly inspired by our foie gras-filled trip to Quebec City/Montreal, so I was excited to taste the preparation that Josh whipped up.

The first time he cooked foie gras for me, Josh just simply seared the slices with oil, salt, and pepper, and then deglazed the pan with aged balsamic vinegar. It was tasty, but he wanted to try making a different kind of sauce for this occasion. Basing the ingredients on this recipe, after searing the foie gras and reserving the excess fat, he added minced garlic and shallots, and then deglazed the pan with balsamic vinegar and port wine. Learning from our previous experience, he did not add oil to the pan before searing the foie gras, which made the slices less greasy, but no less rich than before.

The end result was fantastic – a luscious slice of foie gras with a delicately crispy exterior and a creamy interior that just melted in my mouth. The port wine and balsamic added both sweetness and acidity to cut through the fat, while the garlic and shallots helped round out the umami flavor and provided a little texture to the sauce.

Seared foie gras with port wine/balsamic/garlic/shallot sauce

Seared foie gras with port wine, balsamic, garlic, and shallot reduction

Since we were unable to use the reserved fat that came off the foie gras the first time we made it, we decided to use this batch immediately. We tossed the fat with diced potatoes and roasted them in the oven. However, this meant that we had to wait a while for the potatoes to cook through to serve with our main course. In the interim, we snacked on some prosciutto and crenshaw melon topped with balsamic syrup. We saw the crenshaw melon while we were shopping at Fairway, and Josh couldn’t resist trying it out. The flesh looks like canteloupe but the flavor is actually closer to honeydew. It was sweet but I thought that the aftertaste was slightly too acidic for my preference.

Slices of crenshaw melon with prosciutto and balsamic syrup

Slices of crenshaw melon with prosciutto and balsamic syrup

For our main course, Josh cooked up a gorgeous steak au poivre with lots of crushed peppercorns forming a nice crust on the meat. The sauce was made with cognac and cream – always a great combination. The foie gras fat-flavored roasted potatoes weren’t actually as flavorful as I had hoped, but you can’t go too wrong with crispy roasted potatoes. To cut through all the fatty and rich foods, we had an arugula salad on the side dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.

Steak au poivre with foie gras fat roasted potatoes and arugula salad

Steak au poivre with foie gras fat roasted potatoes and arugula salad

For dessert, Josh made a Grand Marnier souffle. His specialty is actually chocolate souffle, but he felt like experimenting with Grand Marnier for a change. Unfortunately we got a bit distracted with changing/feeding the baby while the souffles were in the oven, and the top ended up browning a little more than we would have liked. Nothing a little creme anglaise couldn’t cover up though. Once we got past the burnt top, the inside of the souffle was soft and fluffy. We could really taste the Grand Marnier, which gave it a little boozy kick at the end.

Grand Marnier souffle with creme anglaise

Grand Marnier souffle with creme anglaise

All in all, another great meal, mostly prepared by Josh. I was on baby duty while he handled the majority of the prep and cooking. In all fairness, I was responsible for a lot of the clean-up afterward (and he does make quite a mess when he cooks), but it was well worth it!

Fun with Foie Gras

Friday, April 12th, 2013 by virginia

This past Valentine’s Day, Josh and I celebrated the 15th anniversary of our first date. Unfortunately, with a four and a half month old baby and both of us working full time, we really didn’t have much time to celebrate properly on the actual day, since it was a Thursday.

The night before Valentine’s Day, however, we were watching the latest episode of Top Chef, where one of the cheftestants, Josh, made foie gras three ways. As we watched him break down a lobe of foie gras on tv, I commented to my Josh that I would love to have my own lobe of foie gras to play with. The next day, he promptly ordered an entire lobe of foie gras from D’Artagnan for me. Definitely a unique anniversary present, but so fitting for us!

The following Saturday was the first weekend in months that we had no plans so we hit up the local Fairway for some ingredients and sequestered ourselves in our house, devoting the full afternoon to preparing our feast. On the menu: seared foie gras with balsamic glaze served with crostini, rack of lamb with shaved brussels sprout salad and mushroom spaeztle on the side, and creme brulee for dessert.

Josh had prepped the foie gras when it was delivered to our house in the previous week. Since it was a grade ‘A’ lobe, there wasn’t much cleaning involved. He sliced it into half inch thick slabs and we vacuum sealed them in two-person portions, then popped them into the freezer. I was sad that we weren’t able to eat any fresh out of the package, but we figured this was the best way to preserve the integrity of the foie gras. We were able to get six good-sized slices and a few end pieces out of the lobe. In anticipation of our meal, I defrosted one of the sealed bags overnight in our refrigerator.

To cook the foie gras, Josh added a bit of vegetable oil in the pan and scored one side of each slice with a cross hatch pattern, like you would do with the skin of a duck before cooking. It doesn’t really do anything to the foie gras, but makes for a pretty pattern after cooking, and more seared bits on the outside. He also liberally sprinkled both sides of each slice with kosher salt. Once the pan was super hot, almost to the point of smoking, he laid the slices in the oil, counted 45 seconds out loud, and then immediately flipped them over. He cooked the second side for another 45 seconds, and voila, they were done. We put them on paper towels for a minute to rest and soak up some of the grease.

It was a mistake for Josh to put oil in the pan prior to searing, as the foie gras produced enough fat on its own. He ended up having to pour off a lot of the oil/fat (we tried to save it to use later on in the week, but we got busy again and didn’t have a chance to cook with it. Next time.), and then he deglazed the pan with some aged balsamic vinegar to make a syrupy sauce that we ended up pouring over the foie gras. He served the seared slices on top of some crostini that we toasted with olive oil, and the result was pretty fantastic.

Seared foie gras on top of crostini

Seared foie gras on top of crostini

We paired the foie gras with sauternes, which is pretty classic. We bought a half bottle of the 2009 Chateau Doisy-Vedrines Sauternes, which was sweet but not cloying, fruity, and slightly floral. On it’s own, it was a delicious dessert wine. However, I hated the pairing with the foie gras. After drinking the wine and eating some of the foie gras, I thought that it brought out the irony, sour notes of the liver. After eating the foie gras and drinking some of the wine, I thought it made the sauternes taste a bit harsh and acidic. While each was wonderful on its own, together, I thought it was a pretty horrible pairing. I’m not sure if it was just me, as Josh didn’t seem to mind that much, or if we picked the wrong bottle of wine, or what. It wasn’t a cheap bottle – about $40 for 375 ml, and it had received a 94 from Wine Spectator. I was disappointed, and wound up saving the rest of my glass for our dessert course, which turned out to be a better option.


2009 Chateau Doisy-Vedrines Sauternes

For our main course, Josh prepared the rack of lamb by marinating it in olive oil with garlic and rosemary. Then he cooked it sous vide in our Sous Vide Supreme at 55 degrees celsius for about two hours. Afterward, he seared it quickly to develop a crust on the outside, and made a pan sauce with cognac, mustard, and chicken stock.

I was in charge of the side dishes. I took about a pound of beautiful bright green brussels sprouts and sliced them as thinly as possible. I could have shaved them using a mandolin, but I was too lazy to bust out and have to clean extra equipment. We tossed the brussels sprouts with a vinaigrette made from olive oil, lemon juice, and mustard.

I was inspired to make spaetzle based on a dish we had in Bratislava a year and a half ago – roasted pork tenderloin with spaetzle covered in a porcini cream sauce. I’ve never made spaetzle before and used the easiest recipe I could find, which was from allrecipes. I cut back on the nutmeg though, which is a personal preference (I really don’t enjoy nutmeg). We don’t have a spaetzle maker so I used the biggest holes on a box grater, pushing the dough through with a silicon spatula. It worked surprisingly well, and the result was chewy nubs of jaggedy spaetzle. For the sauce, I sliced cremini mushrooms and browned them in olive oil until they were soft and cooked down. Then I used the food processor to chop them into tiny pieces, put them back into the pan, and added heavy cream, salt, and truffle oil and cooked it through until the sauce was rich and creamy, but that the mushrooms were still distinguishable. I was incredibly pleased with how the dish turned out. The combination of the meaty lamb, the rich spaetzle, and the bright, slightly bitter brussels sprout salad, was just perfect.

Sous vide rack of lamb, shaved brussels sprouts salad, spaetzle with mushroom cream sauce

Sous vide rack of lamb, shaved brussels sprouts salad, spaetzle with mushroom cream sauce

Josh was in charge of dessert and made creme brulee upon my request. He uses the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated The New Best Recipe cookbook, and uses real vanilla beans. The custard is velvety and smooth, not too sweet, and the sugar crust on top is hard to beat. I have to admit that I usually lick out the ramekins to get every last bit and all the little vanilla bean seeds that stick behind.


We still have several portions of foie gras left in the freezer, and I’m not sure what I want to do with them. Searing is quick, easy, and delicious though, so we really can’t go wrong doing that again. Maybe we’ll play around with the toppings – port wine, stone fruits, there are tons of recipes online. I’ll also have to see what we can do with the end pieces; maybe we could make something more creative with those. I just don’t want to experiment on the nice slices that we have, in case something goes awry.

All in all, even though we didn’t go anywhere exciting or try any new restaurants for our anniversary, we ended up doing what we love most – cooking, savoring the fruits of our labors, drinking nice wines, and simply enjoying being together.

Fava Bean Falafel

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011 by virginia

Josh is currently in Israel, the lucky duck, so in honor of his trip I’m going to write about the time we made falafel using the fava beans from our CSA share. Falafel is pretty popular in Israel, although the version we made was actually Egyptian falafel, called ta’amiya. While falafel is more commonly made from chickpeas, we fell in love with the fava bean ta’amiya while we were on our honeymoon in Egypt.

The fava beans we got from the CSA were still in the pods, so first we had to split the pods open and remove the beans. The beans, however, were encased in a tough, thick skin that we needed to peel off before we could eat them. These were a pain in the butt to peel and took a long time. We basically had to carefully cut through the shell without cutting too deeply into the bean itself, and then use our fingers to break the skin off. If you can get shelled fava beans, I suggest going with those!

Fava beans still encased in a thick skin

We based our recipe from this one that we found on the Food Network site. We improvised a bit because we didn’t have everything on hand, but they still turned out really well. This is what we used, which made six falafel balls:

– 1 lb fava beans still in pods
– 2 small cloves garlic
– 1 large handful parsley (we actually ran out of parsley and used carrot greens instead, which worked great and had a similar grassy flavor)
– 1 small bunch chives (we didn’t have scallions)
– 1/2 teaspoon cumin
– 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon salt

We ground up the beans, garlic, chives, and greens in the food processor, then mixed in the cumin, baking powder, and salt. It should have a paste-like consistency.

Fava beans, garlic, carrot greens, chives

Josh toasted up some sesame seeds in a pan, which we used to coat the falafel balls. We also ground up a handful of the seeds with some olive oil to make a sort of tahini sauce, though it wound up being slightly too bitter. Next time I’ll just buy pre-made tahini sauce.

Toasting sesame seeds

To make the balls, I wet my hands a little and then scooped up some of the falafel mixture and rolled it into a sphere using the palms of my hands. Then I flattened it a little to make a patty shape, and then rolled it in the toasted sesame seeds. I repeated the process until I used up all of the mixture.

Falafel balls ready for deep frying

We heated up some vegetable oil in our dutch oven to fry the falafel balls. We wanted to deep fry them so we probably had about 3-4 inches of oil in the pot. While the oil was heating up, I put the falafel balls in the fridge to firm up a bit. Then I carefully dropped them in one by one into the hot oil. Once they were nicely browned, I pulled them out and put them on paper towels to drain.

Deep fried falafel balls

I cut one of the balls in half to make sure they were cooked through, and it was beautifully green and creamy in the center.

Beautiful green innards

To serve, we heated up some pita bread in the oven, then cut them in half to expose the pockets. We filled each pocket with a few falafel balls, plus chopped lettuce and tomatoes. Then we drizzled some of the homemade tahini sauce on top. It was pretty freakin’ delicious, I have to say. The falafel was really flavorful and had great texture. They were crispy on the outside and moist in the middle. We could taste the fava beans and the herbiness of the carrot greens, while the cumin bound everything together. We were extremely pleased with how these turned out.

Falafel sandwich in all its glory

Since we had oil ready for deep frying, I couldn’t resist making a batch of homemade french fries. It was easy – just cut a few potatoes into french fry shapes. You can make them as thick or as thin as you want. Fry them up in batches so they have enough room to get crispy on the outside. Drain on paper towels and season with salt and pepper immediately. Eat while they’re warm and fresh out of the oil.

Homemade french fries

I would absolutely make this falafel again, though like I said, I would buy fava beans that are already shelled. Yes, the fresh favas tasted fantastic, but I don’t know if they were worth the work. It really was a huge pain to have to shell all of them, and I just don’t have the patience. If you’ve never tried ta’amiya, definitely give this recipe a shot. It’s really easy to make (once the favas are shelled), and it’s a nice change of pace from the standard chickpea falafels. I haven’t found any restaurant yet that serves our beloved Egyptian style falafels, so if anyone has any suggestions, please let me know! But for now, I can just make them on my own and be completely satisfied.

Zucchini Pancakes

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010 by virginia

I know I’m still not done with Peru posts yet but I’m mixing things up a bit because I haven’t had time to sort through our thousands of photos and pick out the few dozen that end up on our site. Going back to CSA recipes, our vegetable shares typically included some kind of squash every week, mostly zucchini and yellow squash. We ended up making zucchini pancakes a lot for breakfast/brunch because they were quick and easy to prepare.

Basically we would grate 2 or 3 medium sized zucchinis or squash and one small onion into a big mixing bowl. Using a clean dish towel, we would squeeze out as much liquid as we could from the grated mixture. Then we’d mix in a few tablespoons of flour, season the mixture with salt and pepper, and add a slightly beaten egg to help hold everything together. The mixture should be slightly sticky and you should be able to squeeze together a handful to form balls that will eventually be turned into pancakes.

Pancake mixture

To cook the pancakes, coat the bottom of a pan with some canola or vegetable oil and heat it on medium heat until it is shimmering. Then add in the balls of zucchini mixture, flattening them in the pan with the back of a spatula. Make sure you don’t crowd the pan with too many pancakes, otherwise they’ll stick together and make it hard to flip them. Once they’re browned on one side, flip them over and brown the other side. When they’re finished cooking, take them out of the pan and put them on paper towels to absorb any excess grease. Season immediately with more salt and pepper to taste.

Cooking the zucchini pancakes

Our favorite method of eating the pancakes was to top them with smoked salmon and poached eggs to make a sort of eggs benedict.

Smoked salmon eggs benedict with zucchini pancakes

The salmon gives the dish a nice smokey saltiness and the poached egg adds a layer of richness. We like our eggs to have super runny yolks.

Perfectly poached eggs

It’s a pretty easy dish to make and we enjoyed lots of champagne brunches at home with this meal over the course of our CSA share. While we’re no longer getting weekly vegetable deliveries, zucchinis are still routinely available at the supermarket so we can make it all year round.

Pea Soup

Saturday, September 11th, 2010 by virginia

CSA peas

One of our CSA shares included a 1/2 lb of peas, which really wasn’t so many peas after we shelled them. I’ve never seen fresh peas before, and was surprised to see how un-uniform they actually are.

Peas in a pod

We split open the pods and scraped out all the little peas into a bowl.

Small pile of shelled peas

To make the soup, we sauteed a little bit of onion (just half a small one, since we only had like 3/4 cup of peas) in some butter until the onion was soft and translucent (but not browned). Then we added the peas and cooked them for about a minute. We added just enough chicken stock to cover the peas by about an inch and brought it up to a boil. Once the stock had boiled down a little, we took it off the heat and carefully pureed the soup with our handy immersion blender. We seasoned with salt and pepper, then added a touch of cream to finish.

Creamy pea soup

Because we had such a small amount of peas to start with, we only got one bowl of soup out of it, but it was rich and creamy and absolutely delicious. We had been inspired by the pea soup we had at Nougatine and I thought that our version stood up pretty well, plus it was super easy to make. I liked it so much that I made another batch using a package of frozen peas, and it tasted just as good. The soup makes an elegant starter to any meal, or can be paired with a simple grilled cheese sandwich for something homey and comforting. This is definitely a recipe that we’ll keep on hand for future use.

Cherry Clafouti

Monday, August 30th, 2010 by virginia


For a few weeks in a row, we got piles of cherries from our CSA fruit share. I love cherries, but there is a limit as to how many I can snack on before I get a little tired of them. I didn’t want the fruit to go to waste so I decided to try out a cherry clafouti recipe I watched Alton Brown make on an episode of Good Eats.

The recipe, which can be found here, has a really short and basic list of ingredients. This was a huge plus, because it was all stuff that we had on hand. All you need to make this recipe is:

– 12 oz cherries
– 2 large eggs
– 1/4 cup sugar
– 1/2 cup whole milk

– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

– 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
– Butter, for the Dutch oven

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. To prepare the cherries, I cut them in half by running a paring knife all the way around the pit, then splitting them open by hand. I used the tip of the knife to carefully pop out the pit, and put all the cherry halves into a bowl.

Cherry halves

In a separate, medium sized mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until it has turned into a pale yellow color and is frothy. Mix in the milk, vanilla, and flour, and whisk until incorporated. This is the batter for the clafouti.

Clafouti batter

Butter the inside of the dutch oven and carefully line the bottom with the cherry halves. I made sure that they all faced the same way and were spread out evenly.

Cherries lined up on the bottom of the dutch oven

Carefully pour the batter over the cherries, trying not to disturb them too much. They will float a bit though, so don’t worry.

Pouring the batter over the cherries

Bake the clafouti (with the dutch oven cover off) on the middle rack for approximately 30 minutes. The top should brown lightly (though mine stayed pale for some reason). Insert a knife to check if it’s done; the knife should come out clean.

Baked clafouti

Let the clafouti cool in the dutch oven for 30 minutes, then carefully remove it onto a plate.

Cherry clafouti

Cut into wedges, and serve. Although my clafouti didn’t get brown on top, it was cooked through and had a nice custardy texture to it. I actually preferred it cold, after it had been in the refrigerator overnight. The recipe is really simple and it makes a tasty dessert or a decadent breakfast.

Clafouti autopsy shot

Baked Cucumbers

Monday, August 23rd, 2010 by virginia

Fresh CSA cucumbers

I was a bit late jumping into the world of blogs, in terms of both reading and writing. When I first discovered food blogs, I did hear about the Julie/Julia Project, which was going to be turned into a movie. I went back and read the archives of that site and was surprised to find that I could indeed enjoy reading posts that had no pictures.

When Julie & Julia the book came out, I read that as well, but must admit that while I liked the Julia parts, the Julie side wasn’t as compelling as the original blog. I liked that Julie’s blog was like a stream of consciousness, a narrative of her thoughts on paper. Although her blog didn’t really post any recipes, just the names of dishes she made, her reaction to baked cucumbers really stuck in my mind.

As a person who doesn’t really love cucumbers, to read that baking them was a “revelation” kind of shocked me. My mom used to cook cucumbers in soup and I absolutely hated warm cucumbers. I couldn’t imagine that baking them would be better but then I read testimonials from other blogs that baked cucumbers really were amazing.

So when our CSA share included a veritable bounty of cucumbers, I knew that I wanted to try baking them. Not owning a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I did a google search and turned up this article, which included a recipe for baked cucumbers, which I’ve copied below. Although this recipe is titled Concombres Au Beurre, it sounds like the Concombres Persilles recipe that Julie describes in her blog. I’ve inserted pictures from my own attempt at this recipe for reference.

Concombres Au Beurre
(Baked Cucumbers)

6 (8-inch long) cucumbers
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teapsoon sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 teaspoon dill OR basil
3 to 4 tablespoons minced green onion
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Peel cucumbers. Cut in half lengthwise; scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Cut into lengthwise strips about 3/8-in wide. Cut strips into 2-inch pieces.

Peeled and seeded cucumbers

Toss cucumbers in a 2 1/2-quart porcelain or stainless steel bowl with vinegar, salt and sugar. Let stand at least 30 minutes or for several hours. Drain. Pat dry in a towel.

Cucumber strips tossed with vinegar, salt, and sugar

In a 12-inch diameter baking dish that is 1 1/2 inches deep, toss cucumbers with butter, dill, green onions and pepper.

Cucumber strips tossed in a baking dish with butter, scallions, basil, and pepper

Bake, uncovered, in center of a preheated 375-degree oven about 1 hour, tossing 2 or 3 times, until cucumbers are tender but still have a suggestion of crispness and texture. They will barely color during cooking.

Baked cucumbers

Serve with roast, broiled or sauteed chicken, scallops or veal chops. Can also serve sprinkled with 2 tablespoons minced parsley. Makes 6 servings.

From “Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Volume One,” by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck (Knopf, 1961)

Baked cucumbers up close

So my verdict? Not a revelation for me, unfortunately. The cucumbers did retain a nice crispiness but the flavors were off for me. Perhaps it was because I used red wine vinegar instead of white vinegar (the recipe did not specify, but re-reading the blog post, Julie used white). I also used basil instead of dill, mainly because I only had basil on hand. I love dill pickles, so perhaps I might have enjoyed the dish better had I used dill. And I also didn’t have parsley to sprinkle on at the end, but then again, I don’t really like parsley.

The cucumbers just had a weird sour flavor to me, and the butter on them felt a bit greasy in my mouth. Also, when the dish cooled down, the butter kind of congealed unpleasantly. I was disappointed, as I really wanted to like this dish. Maybe I’ll try it again sometime using white vinegar/dill/parsley, but I’m not convinced those were the missing links. Maybe I just don’t like cucumbers, except in pickle form? Oh well, at least I gave it a shot!

Shrimp Scampi with Swiss Chard and Spaghetti

Monday, August 2nd, 2010 by virginia

Ruby swiss chard

Fresh onions and garlic

Josh and I weren’t quite sure what to do with the gorgeous ruby swiss chard that we got from our CSA so we decided to improvise a bit by adding it to a shrimp scampi pasta dish. We thought that the copious amounts of garlic we put in our pasta would go well with the chard, and that the chard would provide a nice veggie component to an otherwise carb-heavy dish.

First I chopped the swiss chard into one inch pieces, including the ruby red stalks because I loved the color. I knew they wouldn’t wilt down as much as the leaves and figured they could add some crunch to the dish. Then I washed the leaves thoroughly and spun them dry.

Chopped and washed chard

Meanwhile, Josh chopped up the fresh onions and garlic that we also got from the CSA, including the green stalks of each. He set those aside in small prep bowls. We also started a pot of water to boil for the pasta.

Chopped onion and garlic (including the green tops of both)

After washing and drying the shrimp (cleaning out the veins but keeping the shells on), he seared them in a hot pan with some olive oil.

Searing the shrimp

Once the shrimp were cooked on both sides and had turned pink, he removed them and set them aside. Then he added more olive oil to the same pan and sauteed the garlic and onion until they started to brown slightly. We also started to cook the pasta in the boiling water at this point.

Sauteeing the garlic and onions in olive oil

Next we added the swiss chard to the pan, cooking it with the garlic and onion. The chard absorbed most of the oil and took on a nice, garlicky flavor. We seasoned the chard with lots of salt and pepper.

Wilting the swiss chard in the garlic, onion, and olive oil

After the chard was wilted, we removed it from the pan and deglazed with vermouth and lemon juice. We let that reduce for a bit, then tossed it with the cooked spaghetti (we had to use a larger pot for that). We added back the chard and the shrimp and mixed everything together. It was a bit dry so we added some more olive oil and lemon juice, plus a little bit of pasta water to loosen everything up.

There’s really no set amount of ingredients for this recipe. Just use as much garlic and onion as you’d like, and as much olive oil/lemon juice/vermouth. The key is to season everything, and to make sure you taste everything, so that you adjust it all in the end. We plated up the pasta, arranged some shrimp on top, and garnished with some chopped parsley.

Shrimp scampi with swiss chard and spaghetti

It’s not exactly a traditional scampi recipe, but the flavors were there and this was really easy to make. The hardest part was cleaning the shrimp, but once that was taken care of it was just a matter of cooking everything in batches, and then combining it all together in the end. The pasta ended up tasting light and lemony, with just a hint of garlic and vermouth in the background. My only adjustment to this dish would be to use even more garlic!

Kale Chips

Monday, July 19th, 2010 by virginia


During week #3 of our CSA share, we received 3/4 lb of kale. I knew exactly how I wanted to prepare it, something that I’ve read about in many places but never tried. I knew I absolutely had to make kale chips. Most people who have tried it say that they’re better than potato chips, and better for your health too. While I don’t dispute the health claim, I did want to see if I would prefer these to potato chips since I love spuds in all forms.

To prepare the chips, I washed the kale leaves and thoroughly dried them. Then I cut out the thick stem that runs all the way up the leaf. Once the stems were removed, I cut the leaves into more manageable pieces and tossed them with some olive oil and kosher salt (we couldn’t find the sea salt). After preheating the oven to 300 degrees, I spread the leaves out on some baking sheets, trying to get them into a single layer as best as possible. A little overlap is ok, as the leaves shrink after being baked.

Kale leaves tossed in olive oil and sea salt, laid out on a baking sheet

We baked the leaves at 300 degrees for approximately 20 minutes, watching them carefully the last 5 minutes so that they didn’t burn. If they do burn a little, they tend to get bitter so just be warned. After we pulled them out of the oven, they were thin as paper and delicately crispy.

Freshly baked kale chips

We seasoned them with a bit more salt and eagerly dug in. The chips had a concentrated kale flavor and shattered wonderfully in our mouths. It was kind of like an explosion of flavor, and the sensation was addictive. We couldn’t stop munching on these chips, eating them nonstop as batch after batch came out of the oven.

Kale chips - not so photogenic, but delicious!

To go with the chips, we cooked up some burgers that we topped with swiss cheese and tomatoes, as well as some onion from our CSA share.

Swiss burger with tomato and CSA onions

Not exactly the most conventional burger and chips dinner, but the verdict on kale chips? Fantastic! Better than potato chips? Yes and no. I could definitely see myself eating kale chips more often, since I know how bad potato chips are for me, but when I’m craving potato chips? Kale chips aren’t going to cut it. Not because they’re not delicious and not crispy/crunchy, but because when I want potato chips, nothing else will satisfy. Regardless, kale chips are really easy to make, filling, and absolutely worth trying.

Chicken Milanese with Arugula

Thursday, July 15th, 2010 by virginia


In our week 2 CSA share, we received .2 lb of arugula. Josh and I both adore arugula, and this farm fresh version was really fantastic. Peppery, not too bitter, and the leaves were so tender, not at all like the arugula we get from the supermarket. Unfortunately, that was the only time we got arugula as part of our CSA share, which is really too bad because the arugula contributed to one of my favorite meals we’ve made, chicken milanese.

To make the chicken, we pounded out two boneless/skinless chicken breasts until they were about a 1/2 inch thick. Then we coated the chicken in a mixture of flour, grated parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper, using an egg wash to help the mixture stick to the chicken. After the chicken had a nice thick coating, we fried it in a dutch oven that was filled with about 3 inches of vegetable oil. The coating puffed up nicely and was really crispy.

We served this quick and easy chicken milanese over the arugula, which we had tossed with some lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. We also added chunks of tomato for some sweetness. We just squeezed a bit of lemon over the chicken, and everything tasted really fresh and bright.

Chicken milanese with arugula and tomatoes

Hands down it was one of the best dinners we’ve made with our CSA share, and it was ready in about 20 minutes. I don’t know anything about the seasonality of certain vegetables, but I keep holding out hope that we’ll get arugula again. This CSA stuff has really spoiled us, hasn’t it?