Brown Butter Roasted Radishes

You guys. Summer feels so close.

In Portland, spring doesn’t matter a ton because it still rains all the time, it’s just warmer than it was in the winter. I have personally been caught in showers three times in the past three days. Whoever wrote that song about getting caught in the rain hasn’t had it happen to them more than once, if ever. I am so. over. it.

Thankfully the rain took a break and I got to spend part of this evening hanging out in my garden, which frequent readers of this blog know is one of my favorite places in the world. Right now the greens are just about ready to start cutting. Everything else is pretty tiny. There are about a million strawberry blossoms, but alas, no fruit yet. Even though it’s just getting started, my garden still restores my soul in a way that few locations can.

Brown Butter Roasted Radishes | PDXfoodlove

I didn’t grow these radishes, but I do have itty bitty radishes growing in my garden right now. When they come out, I’ll be making this recipe again with them.

I didn’t even plan to do this recipe for tonight, but these brown butter roasted radishes were so perfect and beautiful in my garden, they immediately jumped to the top of my editorial calendar (which does not exist).

Radishes mellow out significantly when you roast them. Especially this longer variety. A little brown butter and a little lemon make them a fresh spring treat.

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Spinach Artichoke Salad, plus 5 Great Tips for Eating More Veggies

Cooked up on October 8, 2012 Filed under: Uncategorized
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If you are researching what you eat on the internet, chances are you are already aware that almost every single person in the country could benefit from eating more vegetables. They’re lower in calories. They are PACKED with vitamins and minerals – especially when fresh. They’re more environmentally friendly and sustainable to produce. They’re cheaper. Etc, etc.

But you know what? It’s hard to just kick meat to the curb. Or even to kick part of our meat serving to the curb. And even when we do that, it’s hard to not replace it with just bread or pasta, which is a bad idea, nutrition-wise.

At our house, we try to do several dinners a week without meat at all. It’s actually pretty unlikely that our breakfast or lunch will contain meat, unless it’s leftovers from the night before. As for dinners, I would say maybe half have meat in them. But I haven’t been keeping exact track. :) But that doesn’t come without making a serious effort!

This is the salad that I’ll be eating for lunch today – it’s got marinated artichokes, kalamata olives and ultra-sweet tomatoes. And it ties into one of my tips! Read on:

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This week’s CSA is a blank canvas.

Cooked up on October 4, 2011 Filed under: CSA, fall
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About halfway through the work day I realized what day it was, and that we were getting a new CSA box delivered today. I was excited about it for the rest of the afternoon. Now I just need to remember to put out the trash Wednesday night.

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Our Garden Exploded!

Cooked up on August 11, 2011 Filed under: garden, summer
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Dave and I went away for last weekend, and when we got back, we couldn’t help but notice that things weren’t the way we left them..

This is our sunflower that is growing in the backyard. That is all I can see of it because IT IS WELL OVER SIX FEET TALL. I can’t wait for it to bloom!

This is one singular bell pepper plant. When we left for the weekend, we were actually talking about how we only had two baby bell peppers, and that we hoped we’d be able to get a few more before the season is out. Then this happened. There are now 30+ baby peppers in the garden and that’s not even counting the chili varieties.

And hold up! What is this little beauty? I had no idea there would be anything this pretty in the vegetable garden. But this is what that flower is going to be someday soon:

A baby eggplant! There are three right now, with plenty more blooms. I am so excited about having more veggies than I know what to do with!

This is the lemon cucumber – the vine of this plant is actually growing up a neighboring tomato plant, so this cucumber is in plain sight and apparently spiders love to make webs attached to it (whoops… sorry guys).

And this is about 1/20th of the tomatoes that are out there. My good friend and MOH Mary is coming out in just a few weeks and we are going to eat nothing but garden veggies (OK, maybe a little more than that). But I’m so excited to be able to serve a guest produce that I grew myself!

National Can It Forward Day via The Oregonian

Cooked up on August 9, 2011 Filed under: canning, garden
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Here’s a cool thing coming up that was announced in today’s Oregonian: National Can It Forward Day is August 13, where they are holding a day-long podcast/webinar thing in Seattle so you can watch people do it. There’s also tips for the supplies you need and what to do to hold a canning party at your house.

Easy Zucchini Dip: An Experiment

I may have mentioned that I’m on a quest to find new and interesting ways to use the zucchini we have. I think we are down to two in the fridge after my latest experiment, in which I wrote a recipe for zucchini dip.

I was thinking about how we made baba ghanoush over the winter- for the super bowl maybe? And how it sounds scary but is basically just roasted eggplant, a few other ingredients and a blender. So, I tried the same thing with zucchini.

You will need:
Two large zucchini
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Paprika
Lemon juice
Tahini

To start, I just chopped the zucchini into 1-inch rounds and drizzles them with a little bit of olive oil. Roast for 10 minutes at 450 degrees, until they are soft and show a little browning.

After they are cool, put the zucchini in a food processor with maybe a teaspoon more olive oil, a good pinch of salt and grind of pepper, and then maybe 1/8 tsp of garlic powder and paprika per zucchini. Add some lemon juice – just a splash. The tahini is an afterthought. It’s basically sesame paste – it’s used in lots of hummus and baba ghanoush recipes and just a tiny bit will add a huge amount of flavor. I didn’t have any on hand (though it’s easy to make!) but I think It would be a good addition.

Serve like hummus – on crackers, with veggies, on sandwiches. My one recommendation is that I didn’t love it when it was warm. Either hot or cold is good, but not in between. :) I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out! Usually I work from a recipe someone has written somewhere but this was just a blind attempt. One zucchini was enough for a good afternoon snack for my hubby and me.

Vanishing Zucchini Bread (Good thing it’s so easy to make)

I made it two days ago, and we’ve all but devoured the whole loaf.

I may have mentioned, but right now we are in possession of a whole mess of zucchini. We had five to begin with. Three of them remain – the first one became zucchini tostadas and the second one became this bread. Three, Four and Five have yet to be enjoyed. Send any suggestions you have for zucchini my way.

In the meantime, make yourself some of this delicious bread. It’s great for breakfast, snacks, dessert… I guess that’s how it disappears. It also might have something to do with the fresh ginger I put in.

I used Alton’s recipe yet again. Twitter tells me it’s his 49th birthday Saturday, July 30th. Happy birthday, AB!

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 cups unbleached AP flour
  • 1/2 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups grated zucchini

Peel and grate your fresh ginger to start.Then use your hands to mix it with the grated zucchini so it’s pretty evenly mixed.

Now’s the easy part. Put all of your dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and give a quick stir. Then put all of your wet ingredients into a liquid measuring cup or another pourable vessel and use a fork to blend together.

Add your wet ingredients to the dry ingredient bowl and stir only until combined – since this is a sweet bread, you don’t want the flour to be forming a lot of gluten like in regular bread. Stirring and kneading helps gluten form a web of proteins, and those proteins retain the air that gives savory bread and especially French and rustic breads their texture. Then verrrrrrry gently, fold in the zucchini and ginger.

This recipe will fill one loaf  pan – make sure to spray with nonstick first or use butter to grease the sides. Then bake at 350 for an hour.

Allow to cool in the pan for a few minutes first, then turn out onto a cooling rack and allow to cool thoroughly. This is important – the bread uses this time for its structure to gain integrity. Slicing it too soon will make the whole loaf behave less well as you slice it  by crumbling and not holding up as well.

 

Our food philosophy

As I was writing the tags for the a post the other day a thought occurred to me – so far, not much meat has been cooked on this blog. I’ve used the tag “vegetarian” many times and “vegan” a few, but the reason we eat the way we do is more complex, and primarily relates to health reasons and sustainability.

We are not vegetarians, but we very little meat. It is a treat that we indulge in occasionally. My husband makes the world’s best pulled pork, for example, and I love a pot roast drowning in oniony gravy. Also: bacon. Enough said. But we abide pretty closely with Michael Pollan’s famous mantra, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

This is for two reasons: the first is that human beings just don’t need as much meat as conventional wisdom used to tell us. Protein is important, but it comes from all kinds of places besides meat – eggs, beans and nuts, for example. And too much red meat is truly a bad thing for you health-wise. Meat is fat- and calorie-dense. As long as you don’t try to make up for the meat with cheese or carbs, switching to a more plant-based diet will almost assuredly mean an automatic loss of calorie intake.

The second is the fact that the traditional diet of meat at every meal has produced a system of farming animals (and the corn that feeds them) that is not sustainable economically or environmentally. It’s easier to find out where your plant-based foods come from and what exactly is in them. I could stand on my soapbox about this for a very long time, but instead I’ll recommend some books. They cover all angles of the ethics of eating meat – sustainability, humane conditions, health problems, etc:

101 Reasons Why I’m a Vegetarian
This book did not convince me to be a vegetarian, but it has a lot of cold hard facts about how much protein you actually need to consume and the true health consequences of eating large amounts of meat. Written like a news article, it gets more done in a small amount of space than many books I’ve read on the subject.

Just Food
James McWilliams is my favorite food ethics author because he stays away from extremism at either end. Instead of saying “don’t eat any meat,” he examines smart agriculture like hydroponics and sustainable fish farming. While I’ve found a lot of overlap between some of the major titles on eating sustainably, James McWilliams takes a fresh, smart and nuanced look at feasible, environmentally friendly agriculture.

In Defense of Food
Michael Pollan is the godfather of all food ethics writers, but I like this book because it is practical grocery store knowledge about how the things you buy at the grocery store got there in the first place, and how that affects their healthiness (or lack thereof). I picked this one to focus on, but I recommend reading basically everthing this man has written.

Panzanella: A Healthy, Veggie, Seasonal Dinner

A panzanella is an Italian bread and tomato salad, but the recipe we found in a Tastes of Home magazine earlier this year added cannelini beans and artichokes and turned it into a full meal that’s perfect for summer and requires almost no cooking.

Dave has such great intuition when it comes to cooking. It was his idea to use as many kinds of tomatoes as we did (three – yes, it was awesome). He also had the idea to try this recipe.

Every day I feel like we get better at making meatless meals because of recipes like this one. Actually, depending on what bread you use, it’s probably vegan. We aren’t vegans or vegetarians – you may have noticed the pulled pork recipe from a few weeks ago – but we don’t eat a lot of meat for health reasons and because of concern for the environment (but that is a post for another day). In fact, I think the last time we had any was last Saturday at a party.

Here’s a list of what we used in our panzanella (you can find the recipe we based it on here):

  • 6 cups of cubed good french style bread
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 can of whole tomatoes
  • half a cup of chopped sun dried tomatoes
  • 2 cubed fresh hothouse tomatoes
  • 1 can (15 ounces) white kidney or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup ish of artichoke hearts
  • 1/2 large red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup black olives, quartered

Dressing:

  • 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1.5 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1.5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1.5 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Douse the bread cubes in some olive oil and toast in the oven for 10-20 minutes. They should be pretty crunchy when you take them out.

In the  meantime, drain the canned whole tomatoes and put them into a bowl. Use a spoon to break them up.

Chop your fresh ones…

And your sun-dried ones (look in the produce aisle – for some reason, there are cheaper jars of sun-dried tomatoes there that are not also placed in the Italian section with the rest of the sun-dried tomatoes).

Soo many tomatoes. Yummy. Chop your red onion as well and add it, the beans and the artichokes all to the bowl and mix.

You can either spoon this over the bread in your bowl or mix it all together at once. Meanwhile, mix all of the dressing ingredients together in a smaller vessel:

Use this to dress the salad and toasted bread after you’ve spooned it into serving dishes.

Ah, so delicious.

We definitely don’t always have fresh herbs on hand, but I think with this particular dinner they really made a difference. The oregano was fresh from our backyard, but we bought the parsley. :)

This dinner also reminds me of a campaign out of Johns Hopkins that I think is a really great idea – Meatless Mondays. For your health alone, it’s a good idea to not eat a ton of red meat, and so this campaign is encouraging folks to better their health by cutting out meat one day a week.

Friends, what are your thoughts? Do you have any good veggie recipes? And what do you think about this campaign?

Five-Ingredient Lunch: Caprese Salad

Caprese salads are beautiful on their own and great for adding to a fancy dinner, but because there is so little prep involved I think they’re totally underrated as a lunch item. Plus, there’s no cooking involved and almost no work.

If the ingredients are fresh, this salad will stand on its own as a meal and be a real treat for your lunch at work. Here’s what you need:

  • Half a large beefsteak or hothouse tomato (the Bob the Tomato kind, not Roma)
  • FRESH mozzarella – if you buy one of the little balls, you’ll probably use about 1/3… store brand is totally fine.
  • Any salad greens you have on hand
  • Basil leaves
  • Balsamic vinegar

When it comes to salad greens, I’ve read that it’s actually bad to keep them with your other veggies in the fridge – that in a regular crisper drawer they’ll go bad first and bring the other veggies down with them. Ergo, I like to wash them right when I get them, and then dry them, tear them up to bite size and put them in a big tupperware. Every time I need a salad or a little bit of lettuce, I can just grab a handful and they’re already ready to go. They’ll keep longer this way, too.

So, grab your lunch-sized container and your greens, and tear up the basil and add it.

Then slice an equal number of tomato and mozzarella pieces. I tend to go pretty thick here – probably a little over 1/4 inch. Lay them down the middle of the container, alternating cheese and tomato. You don’t have to do it this way, but it’s kinda pretty:


Then, my friends, grab your balsamic. This is something worth spending a little bit more on – you don’t have to get the 100-year-old stuff or anything, but I’d look at the cheapest bottle your neighborhood store has, and then go up a price point or two. Balsamic has a million uses in your kitchen and it’s worth your time and extra $2 to get a good one. We have this one, which I’m not actually sure how old it is, and also a great 25-year one we got as a housewarming gift (which, by the way – fancy oils and vinegars are great for that!)

Finally, season with a little freshly ground pepper on a larger size setting. I know it’s not on the ingredients list, but if it’s something you’ll never run out of, I don’t think it counts :)

It’s light enough to make you feel great about your lunch, cheesy and filling enough to not make you hungry later, and fancy enough to make you look forward to making it for you or for friends.

Also, I just have to say… we made a few really, really great projects this weekend and I’m really excited to share them this week. Check back for homemade pop tarts and homemade horchata!

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