Sunday, June 27, 2010

Spinach and Feta Hummus

Another item in our CSA box last week was spinach.  A nice big bag over-flowing with crisp, green leaves.  I could have easily gone the route of spinach salad, or spinach pizza but I wanted to try something different.  After perusing the internet for different ways to use spinach I came across several recipes for hummus that used spinach.  I had never thought to do this before but I figured I like hummus, I like spinach.  How bad could it be?  The result was a smooth, rich dip with a color reminiscent of guacamole.  Tim says this may be his favorite hummus, and that guy has eaten his fair share of different hummus flavors, so he knows his stuff!

Spinach and Feta Hummus

15 oz garbanzo beans
2 tablespoons tahini
4 oz feta cheese
a big handful of fresh spinach
a small handful of sundried tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
lemon juice to taste

Throw everything in your food processor and process til smooth.  Serve with pita, veggies, or anything else you like to dip!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Curried kale with lentils and mango

This is one of the delicious things that has been inspired by the CSA produce box.  In my box this week I got a big, beautiful, green bunch of kale.  Now, it's not like I have never eaten kale before, but it is definitely not on regular rotation in our kitchen.  Plus, when I signed up for this weekly produce delivery I promised myself that I was going to find fun and different ways to use the ingredients that I recieved each week.  I vowed not to waste anything, and to experiment even with the most seemingly boring of ingredients.  The nice thing about the CSA that I joined (Simply Wisconsin) is that they send you an e-mail a few days in advance letting you know what will be in your box so that you can plan accordingly.  This gave me a little time to search for fun ways to use kale.  This recipe caught my eye, and I am so glad that I tried it! You know I am a sucker for beautiful food and this dish is bright and colorful, with great teture and depth.  It also tastes great!  I ever expected Tim to like Kale, but he ate it happily, and even packed some of the extras up in a tupperware for his lunch the next day. (I usually have to guilt him into taking leftovers that he is not interested in so that they don't go bad, but I did not say a word with this.) The curry powder adds a distinct flavor to otherwise boring kale, and the mango adds a nice sweet balance.  Please try this whether you are a kale devotee or not.  You will not regret it.

Curried Kale with Lentils and Mango
*Recipe from Tasty Kitchen poster Foodology

What you need:
1/2 Cup of lentils, rinsed and sorted
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion, thinly sliced
1 Shallot, sliced
1 cloce Garlic, minced
1 bunch Kale, washed, stemmed, chopped-be sure to remove the large ribs from the kale leaves because they are hard to chew
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 whole lemon
1 mango, peeled and chopped into large chunks

Boil your lentils for 20-25 minutes.
While the lentils cook heat the oil in a large pot (I used my dutch oven and it was the perfect size).  Add the onions and shallot and cook for about five minutes-until translucent.  Add garlic, kale, salt, pepper, and curry powder.  Cook about 2 minutes.  Add the lentils and juice from the lemon and cook until kale is wilted, but still bright green in color.  Once the kale is cooked, turn off heat and stir in the mango.  We had this with lamb chops and it was the perfect accompaniment.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

I have been wanting to try this method out for a while now.  I have heard nothing but praise for this book.  I love making bread, I love eating freshly made bread, I also work full time.  I have always wanted to make all of our bread from scratch, but just have not found a good way to make that happen in real life.  That is where this method comes in.  I will not give away the whole technique, but the basic idea is that you mix up a big batch of wet dough in the beginning of the week.  Each day you tear off a piece, shape it, allow it to rest a bit at room temperature, and bake it.  The five minutes is actual hands-on time.  The resting period is about 40 minutes and the baking time is 30 minutes.  I managed to make a delicious loaf of bread today despite working a full day and dealing with getting my camera repaired.  I had fresh bread on the table with dinner!
The authors insist that you start with their master recipe and become familiar with that before moving on to the other breads.  The master recipe is very basic and makes it easy for you to focus on the method rather than on the ingredients.  
The result:  I was skeptical from the time that I mixed the dough yesterday.  I knew that the dough was supposed to be wet, but should it be that wet?  Then when I went to pull off my piece today I had the same thought.  Yep, I guess it was supposed to be that wet, because once baked it yielded a moist, light, perfect loaf of bread with a thick, hearty crust.  I am a complete novice when it comes to this method of bread baking yet I was able to pull bakery quality bread out of my oven on the first try.   The book is also really cool because the first several chapters are dedicated to explaining the technique, how it differs from traditional bread baking, and why it works.  I love learning this kind of stuff, so I had a lot of fun reading through that part.
I am excited to move onto the other recipes in the book and experiment with more flavors! This book is a definite keeper!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Lamb Chops with Pistachio Tapenade

Oh. My. God.  That is all that I have to say.  Now I have to go eat more lamb.

Just kidding, I would not be so cruel as to leave you without the recipe to this heavenly dish.

Lamb is definitely one of my favorite foods, and it is by far my favorite type of meat.  I always order it at restaurants, but this is the first time that I have made it at home.  Lamb, you see, is crazy expensive, at least in my frugal little mind it is.  I saw this recipe though, and I knew I had to at least give it a whirl.  Next time I host someone for dinner, this is what I am making.  It is simple to throw together, the meat melts in your mouth all the while hitting every taste bud with a delicious combination of nutty, salty, and fresh.  Please make this.  You will impress people immensely.  And do me a favor.  Serve this with a simple salad or green veggie.  Do not make anything that will try to compete with this delicious meat.  You will be sorry.  Yes, that is a threat. 

Lamb Chops with Pistachio Tapenade
*Slightly tweaked from Smitten Kitchen who slightly adapted it from Anne Burrell

1/2 cup pistachios, shelled and toasted
1/2 cup pitted green olives
2 tablespoons capers
1 clove garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley leaves
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon, zested
Fresh Lemon Juice
6 lamb chops

To make the pistachio tapenade: In a food processor combine the pistachios, olives, capers, garlic, herbs and puree. While the machine is running, slowly drizzle in olive oil until the mixture becomes a paste. Add the zest and pulse 1 more time, drizzling in more oil if necessary. Add lemon juice to taste.  This just helps to counteract a little of the saltiness.  It was a bit too much for me.  Reserve until ready to use.
Cook your chops: Season your six lamb chops generously on either side with salt.  Allow them to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before cooking.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Coat a large saute pan generously with olive oil and bring to medium-high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the lamb chops and cook for about 2 minutes on each side to brown. If the pan begins to smoke, lower the heat. The chops should be beautifully caramelized on both sides. Remove the chops to a sheet pan and top with the pistachio tapenade. Use all of it.  I know it looks like a lot.  Too much even.  It's not.  Trust me.  Place in preheated oven and cook another 4 to 5 minutes for medium rare. I had to cook mine for way longer than 4-5 minutes.  Probably closer to 10.  Maybe my lamb chops were gigantic, but I would recommend checking the internal temperature after 4-5 minutes, and then continue cooking as needed until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees F.  Remove chops from oven and let rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Polenta Bread

You really can't go wrong with this bread.  It is simple, both in it's creation and in it's flavor.  If you are scared of making bread on your own, this would be a great recipe to start with.  There is really hardly any work involved, just be sure to allow time for one 45 minute-to an hour rise time.  

The polenta flavor in this bread is so subtle and sweet.  It is just a hint, like something you can almost put your finger on.  The crumb is light and the crust is slightly harder than the crumb, but just barely.  The bread is a great addition to a simple meal of salad, or as a snack after work.  Try it lightly toasted with softened butter on top and a tiny bit of honey.  It will melt in your mouth.  

Polenta Bread
Recipe from Taste and Tell

2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup polenta (or cornmeal)
2 teaspoons salt
6 1/2 cups bread flour

In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in warm water (around 100 degrees, or slightly warmer than room temperature).  Let mixture sit until it bubbles slightly on top to show that the yeast has activated. 
Combine polenta, salt and bread flour in mixer bowl fitted with the dough hook. Add olive oil and yeast mixture and mix well. Knead dough with dough hook for 8 to 12 minutes (the temperature of your kitchen will make the difference in the timing.) You know that the dough has been mixed enough when it clears the sides of the bowl and all ingredients are incorporated. Turn off mixer and let dough rest for 1 minute in bowl.

Divide dough into thirds and shape into loaves. Place on greased cookie sheets. Cover dough and allow it to rise until the loaves have doubled in size. This took 45 minutes for me. You know that your dough has doubled when you lightly press it with your finger and the dough springs back, but not all of the way-a slight indent will remain. 

Bake for about 30 minutes at 300F.