Category: Vegetable (Page 2 of 3)

Thai Curry Paste Saved My Week

The combination of five-day workweeks and a steady supply of CSA vegetables make me scream out for easy dinner ideas.  This week, a tiny jar of Thai curry paste came to my rescue.  Twice.

On a post-work grocery run, I impulsively bought a jar of red Thai curry paste from the grocery store nearest to our residence.  I was looking for an escuse to use the year-old can of coconut milk I had found in my cupboard.  I’m sure you can purchase more potent and flavorful varieties of curry pastes from Asian markets. This Thai Kitchen version was good enough for a quick fix, if a little tame.
I incorporated my CSA vegetables with whatever meat I had on hand.  On the first occasion, I added meat from our freezer, and on the second, leftover rotisserie chicken.  If you don’t have rice to steam, try serving the soupy curry over lightly buttered noodles.  The turnips, kohlrabi, Chinese cabbage, and onions from our CSA box all went into the curry pot.
Thai curry screams, “everyone in the pool!”  Use whatever you have in your kitchen and make as much or little as you’d like.

Vegetable oil
Meat, cut into bite sized pieces
Chopped vegetables
Optional: Hot chili (I used one red jalapeño, seeds and all)
Meat, cut into bite sized pieces
Thai curry paste
Coconut milk (Add the whole can. The thicker substance will melt when cooked)
Fish sauce
Brown sugar
Steamed rice or lightly buttered noodles

Sauté meat (if using raw).  Sauté vegetables until tender.  Add the curry paste and briefly cook.  Then, add the coconut milk, some water, and incorporate.  I added about 1/3-1/2 cup of water for one 12 oz. can of coconut milk.  Add fish sauce and brown sugar to taste.  Simmer until the flavors meld together and the coconut milk begins to look and taste less “raw.”  It will begin to shimmer. 
Serve over rice or noodles and garnish with fresh cilantro and sliced cucumber.
*I ended up using more brown sugar than I expected, a lot more curry paste than suggested, and only a few dashes of fish sauce.

Fried Rice Seasoned With Gochujang & Miso

“Dang it”

I realized I had no soy sauce.  I had just chopped a mound of vegetables and de-frosted meat, only to discover an empty soy sauce bottle in my fridge.
With two takeout boxes of leftover steamed rice and a half hour of prep work done, there was no way I was not going to make fried rice.  I reached further into my fridge and pulled out a jar of Korean gouchujang and my trusty tub of year-old miso paste.
Then I proceeded like normal.  I stir fried my vegetables with a little Chinese sausage, chicken breast, and leftover rice.  Then, I flavored the fried rice with a mix of gochujang and miso paste, diluted with water for easier incorporation.  I found Chinese sausage at the Asian & American Market in Fargo.  It provided a subtle sweetness that balanced the miso’s saltiness and gochujang’s heat.
We were satisfied with the result.  So much so, that we polished off the skillet of fried rice.  If you also just own a standard skillet, you might not achieve any smokey char, but your fried rice will still be a respectable home variation.
My method of cooking fried rice is not an exact science.  Once I choose my vegetables and proteins, it’s basically a process of sauteing and tasting.  You could use soy sauce instead of miso and add additional seasonings like hot peppers and ginger.
Mantra: Homemade fried rice is easy.  Homemade fried rice is an efficient way to use up leftover meat and veggies.  Homemade fried rice puts extra takeout rice to work.
Vegetable oil
Chinese sausage, finely diced
Chopped vegetables (I used lots of onion, green onions, swiss chard stems and greens, and carrots)
Proteins of choice and/or scrambled egg
Leftover rice
1 clove of minced garlic
Miso paste and gochujang, diluted with some water
White pepper
Cracked black pepper
In a dab of vegetable oil, begin sauteing the Chinese sausage.  When it renders a bit, add the vegetables and stir until softened but al dente.  I add the vegetables that take longer to cook first, such as carrot and onion.  Then, I add the softer vegetables like chard leaves, green onion, and garlic.
As the vegetables are cooking, prepare any additional protein or scrambled egg in a separate pan.  Add a little more oil to the vegetables and then stir in the rice.  As the rice is cooking, flavor with diluted miso paste and gochujang, black pepper, and white pepper.
Add the scrambled egg and/or other cooked meat and combine.  Taste and adjust for seasoning (I used a lot of miso and gochujang).
Cook to your liking.  I prefer my fried rice to develop some crusty bits.

Introducing Farm To Fork: A CSA Series At Simple, Good, And Tasty

This summer, I am excited to share our first CSA box experience through bi-monthly articles published by Simple, Good, and Tasty.  The first article and recipe was published June 18, 2012.

We chose to receive half-share boxes of produce from Bluebird Gardens, a farm located in Fergus Falls, MN.  Our first CSA box contained lots of early spring goodies and we feasted on Lebanese fattoush-inspired salad for days (and more days to come).  
You can find it here.  

Radish Pizza

I never imagined I’d become fond of radishes.

This past week, we found a sizable bunch of radishes in our first Bluebird Gardens CSA box. I curiously nibbled a raw radish and wrinkled my nose when its sharp, spicy flavor hit my sinuses. After several attempts, I found that I enjoyed the radishes sliced into translucent half moons and tossed into salad. Then, I began to wonder what they would taste like on pizza.

On Sunday evenings, I’ve been baking flatbread pizzas in our oven. This week, we experimented with our CSA radishes; a vegetable neither of us had ever seen cooked, let alone added to pizza.

I shaved the radishes and placed them on top of flatbread layered with garlic and olive oil, fresh mozzarella, green onions, and thinly sliced pea pods. Then, I spread citrusy pea green salad on top of the radish pizza. The baking process rendered the shaved radish tender and much sweeter than its raw counterpart.

So far, my favorite flatbread recipe can be found as part of Saveur’s recipe for Lahmacun.  I’ve made the dough at least ten times and substitute honey for sugar and add extra water. The dough has to rise once, but is fairly simple to prepare, even on a weeknight. The texture and flavor remind me of Broders’ Cucina Italiana’s Fulton Flatbread.

Radish Pizza Topped With Tart Pea Green Salad

2 cups flour
1 cup warm water
1 packet instant rise yeast
2 squirts of honey (about 2 teaspoons)
1 ½ teaspoons saltGarlic Oil
Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Red pepper flakes

Pizza Toppings
Mozzarella cheese, sliced or grated
Radish, thinly shaved
Green onion, thinly sliced from the roots, up
Pea Greens
Lemon Juice

To Make The Flatbread

  1. In a small bowl, mix the yeast with warm water and a couple squirts of honey. Let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes, or until it becomes frothy.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt and form a hole in the middle. Pour in the bloomed yeast mixture and stir until dough forms.
  3. Pour the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Add more flour or water if the dry is too wet or dry.
  4. Form the dough into a ball. Put a little olive oil in a bowl.  Put the dough in the bowl and rotate until the ball is coated in oil.  Cover and let rise in a warm location until doubled (about 1 hour).
  5. When you are ready to make the pizza, cut the risen dough into two pieces. Roll each ball onto a floured surface until thin (about  1/8 inch thick). Place on a sheet pan covered with foil or parchment and add toppings.
 To Prepare The Pizzas
  1. Preheat oven to 450-475 degrees F.
  2. Mix the grated or minced garlic with several tablespoons of olive oil. Flavor with salt, pepper, and hot pepper flakes and combine.
  3. Spread the flavored olive oil on the rolled-out pizza dough.
  4. Top with mozzarella cheese, sliced green onions, shaved radish, and pea pods. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and lightly drizzle with a touch of olive oil.
  5. Bake until the cheese is bubbly and flatbread is golden brown. Cool slightly.
  6. Top the pizzas with a simple salad made from of fresh pea greens tossed with a little olive oil, lots of lemon or lime juice, salt and pepper.

Week(ends) In Review: Heartland, Our First CSA Box & Ribfest

Weekends in the Twin Cities are wonderful, though they leave us scrambling for breath as we return, racing back to work.

Amidst the excitement of last weekend’s TECHmunch and family festivities, our parents collaborated on planning a surprise engagement dinner at Heartland.  If I had been quicker on my feet, I would have arranged my own surprise by ordering our marriage paperwork from the county and a pastor to meet us at dinner.  
Our parents have only met on one occasion and so I was a little anxious about the gathering of our families.  I ordered something green and something strong.  I don’t remember what it contained besides lime juice and gin, but what I do remember is that it was extremely strong.  I coughed my way through the first few sips and resolved to drink it slowly, lest I take down my own engagement dinner.  
One of our servers seemed concerned that it remained so full.  He checked in a few times to ask if I was enjoying the beverage.  I tried to reassure him that although it was delightful, it was incredibly strong for my likes.  
I steadily sipped the the drink and even passed it around for others to enjoy.  Somehow, we hardly made a dent.     
We had a grand time enjoying each others’ company and tasting all of the dishes.  On this evening, chicken reigned supreme.  Those of us who ordered the Fauna tasting menu began with a small piece of moist, crispy-skinned chicken.  
It rested on sweet, beautifully cooked vegetables and vibrant beet broth.  Even the most cautious of eaters declared it the best chicken he had ever eaten.  
Five others ordered the chicken entree.  Again, lots of crispy, seasoned skin and succulent meat.  Even the white meat was buttery tender and flavorful.  
This past Thursday, I picked up our first CSA box from Bluebird Gardens of Fergus Falls, MN.  After months of receiving anticipatory emails updates, I giddily unloaded our first bounty onto our kitchen counter.  I gently examined the delicate lettuce, radishes, spinach, spring onions, a petite kohlrabi, and my favorite; a bag of pea sprouts.  
Processing the vegetables and stuffing them into our fridge took time, but was well worth the effort.  Now, I can easily grab the vegetables and incorporate them into our meals.  We’ve been feasting on giant fattoush salads made with toasted pita bread and everything in our box.  Let me know if you are willing to share any of your favorite uses for CSA vegetables.  Especially kohlrabi.  I didn’t hate my first taste of kohlrabi but am wondering how I will ever fall in love with it. 
I plan to submit bimonthly updates about what I create with my CSA boxes to Simple, Good & Tasty.
Finally, there’s Ribfest at the Fargodome which began on Wednesday and ends this evening.  I’m surprised it’s open during so many weekdays, but I’ve been told that many request time off from work to attend.  Festivities include seven rib vendors, additional food and beverage vendors, a large music stage that features 80’s hair bands and country music, and an expansive array of blow-up jumpy things. 
I think the blow-up jumpy things almost outnumber the rib vendors 2:1. 
Last evening, we visited Ribfest and sampled ribs from two vendors.  Cowboys BBQ & Rib Co. of Forth Worth Texas boasted an extensive array of awards but their ribs were woefully tough and covered in flabby skin.  I hope this can be chalked-up to a bad evening.  Otherwise, I can’t imagine them winning anything. 
On a positive note, I enjoyed their barbecue sauce which seemed well-balanced.  
We also tried ribs from Aussom Aussie’s BBQ of Pittsburgh.  These were much better.  
The meat had a better texture and a smokier flavor, though they were slightly fatty.  The exterior had some bark and the sauce was lovely.  It had a little heat and that vinegary note that I love so much about Ted Cook’s. 
We’re hoping to return for a blooming onion and to sample some more rib vendors.
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