Three Sisters and Blue Cornbread

 

I am planning for my 2017 garden. This season is going to be very experimental. I am in a new house with a new garden and I am planning  the vision of my future farm homestead.

In addition to my garden at my home in Annapolis, this year I have reserved a terrace in the Community Learning Garden. This is the same campus community garden that Deb and I started together in 2010. I am eager to get back into the campus garden to try out a three sisters garden – growing beans, squash and corn together. The three different plants provide support and benefits to one another. I have selected a heirloom varieties of each – blue and red corn for cornmeal, black dry beans, and a few unique varieties of winter squash. 

Since I will be growing corn for cornmeal, I am curious to experiment with cornmeal recipes. I have a local blue cornmeal that I’ve been using for my trials. My first goal is to perfect my cornbread. Here is a great recipe for cornbread muffins from a favorite cookbook, The Art of Simple Food.

Cornbread Muffins (adapted from Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food)

What You Need

  • 2 cups cornmeal (try heirloom, unique and/or local varieties)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted

What You Do

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Butter a 12 muffin tin
  3. Mix together dry ingredients
  4. Mix together milk, yogurt and egg
  5. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet mixture
  6. Whisk or stir until well mixed and smooth
  7. Stir in the butter
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 12-15 minutes (cornbread should be brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean)

For the Love of a Sandwich

I have been keeping a secret for over ten years. This week, I revealed to my husband for the first time that I love tuna-salad sandwiches. I grew up eating them. Every day. In mom-packed-school-lunches  served on white bread or from the local diner as tuna-melts on an English muffin.

While others may have alternated their school lunches with PB&J, turkey, chicken, and other options, I grew up attending a Jewish day school, which required kosher packed lunches. Lunches needed to be either dairy or pareve (neither meat nor dairy). According to the rules of Kashrut (Jewish dietary laws), fish is considered pareve. And so, daily tuna-salad sandwiches, perhaps with a bagel and cream cheese a couple times a week.

Back in 2007, as I started my exploration of environmentally conscious eating, I soon realized that my tuna habit (tuna-salad, tuna sushi rolls, etc.) did not align with my values. As with many types of fish, the environmental story for tuna is complicated. Checking the recommendations from Seafood Watch clues you in on the complexity of the situation. 8 “best” options, 32 “good” and 58 to “avoid”. Greenpeace put together a Tuna Shopping Guide, but my approach has been to avoid all tuna and most seafood, with special exceptions of locally caught fish and molluscs (like oysters) occasionally.

But, there is nothing like a tuna-salad sandwich. Until now.

“Chickpea of the Sea”! I found this bowl on an incredible lunch spread this weekend at a baby shower. I couldn’t believe my eyes, or my taste-buds. This is the sandwich salad I have been waiting for. I recreated the lunch just two days later and had just the same result. I am very excited to share this recipe with you. Note – I replaced the celery and scallions for a chopped leek, which was excellent. This is a very forgiving recipe – use what you have and adapt to your tastes.

Chickpea of the Sea (adapted from TheKitchn)

What You Need

  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (can substitute veganaise or use half greek yogurt)
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp celery seeds (note – I didn’t have them, and it still turned out great)
  • One and a half ribs of celery, diced
  • Two scallions/green onions sliced
  • 1/2 tablespoon caper with brine (optional)
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh herbs (lemon balm, chives, dill, or parsley)
What You Do
  1. Place chickpeas in the bowl of a food processor and pulse two or three times to roughly chop.
  2. Add chopped chickpeas to bowl and then add remaining ingredients stir.
  3. Serve on bread with lettuce and/or sprouts as a sandwich or on lettuce leaves as a lettuce wrap.

The End of Winter’s Kale

Today I harvested the end of winter’s kale from the garden…

20130508_201051I was shocked and impressed with how much I was able to collect (despite today’s rain!)….IMG_20130508_184349 (2)I turned all of the kale into pesto, plus some Kale Pesto White Bean Dip.
20130508_215523 20130508_215553

Kale Pesto (adapted from Food Fanatic)

What You Need

  • 7 cups kale (stemmed, washed, and packed)
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, to taste
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese

What You Do

  1. Remove stems from kale and wash thoroughly. If you are picking the kale from your garden, beware of aphids and aphid eggs on the kale – to clean, wash with hot water!
  2. Add kale to food processor along with the garlic, walnuts and parmesan cheese.
  3. Pulse 5 or 6 times to get everything chopped up.
  4. Turn the food processor on and slowly add the oil while the processor is processing.
  5. If you added ¼ cup of oil, you will end up with thick, spreadable pesto. You can stop here or if you desire a thinner consistency to use the pesto as pasta sauce, continue adding oil (about an additional ¼ cup) until the pesto reaches the consistency you want.
  6. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 week (OR you can make the sauce in bulk and freeze it for later).

I am ready for spring and summer vegetables, what about you? 🙂

Tasty Dips

This weekend, I hosted some friends over for dinner and was excited about an idea that came up in conversation a couple weeks ago with my boyfriend: expanding dip options from hummus, eggplant, and cheese spreads. So, I tried two new ones using cannellini beans and red lentils. Both were wonderful. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to snag any photos while cooking them — so you’ll have to trust me on this one.

Kale Pesto White Bean Dip (from Annie Eats)

What You Need

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup walnuts (I didn’t have any – so I omitted them, but next time I will include them)
  • 1½ cups kale leaves, stemmed and chopped
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups cannellini beans, drained (2 15 oz. cans)
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

What You Do

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the garlic, walnuts (if you are using) and kale.
  2. Pulse until finely chopped.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. With the processor running, add the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice in a steady stream through the feed tube until smooth.
  4. Add in the Parmesan, salt, and pepper and pulse until combined.
  5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add in the beans, the remaining 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and the balsamic vinegar.
  6. Process the mixture until completely smooth, scraping down the bowl as needed.  If necessary, pulse in additional olive oil to achieve a smooth texture.
  7. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Transfer to a serving bowl, drizzle with olive oil, and top with a sprinkle of chopped walnuts.  Serve with pita chips, fresh veggies, etc

Curried Lentil Dip (from Frontier Natural Products Coop)

What You Need

  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled, cored, and diced apples
  • 3  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

What You Do

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the lentils and water to a boil.
  2. Lower the heat and simmer until the lentils are soft and most of the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet and sauté the onions, apples, and garlic with a dash of salt for about 5 minutes on medium heat.
  4. Add the raisins, curry powder, and the garam masala, if using, and continue to sauté for 10 minutes, until tender.
  5. In a food processor or blender, pureé the cooked lentils and sautéed onion mix with the coconut milk and lemon juice. Add the salt and adjust to taste.
  6. Serve at room temp or chilled.

I served the dips with pita chips, a veggie plate, and rice crackers. The best part — I have plenty left-over to enjoy all week.

Balsamic Roasted Baby Roots

This recipe from Sprouted Kitchen was a huge hit at holiday parties last year and now that fresh carrots are on our minds again, I thought I’d share and recommend. WebMD also recommends this recipe as a lower cholesterol and lower calorie food and recipe.

BALSAMIC ROASTED ROOTS + SPINACH SAUCE // Serves 4

1 lb. Assorted Small Carrots
1 lb. Assorted Small Beets
2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar, divided
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
1/2 tsp. Black Pepper

1 Bunch Fresh Spinach Leaves
1 Large Clove Garlic, minced
2 tsp. Unsalted Butter
1/2 Cup Light Whipping Cream or Whole Milk
1/3 Cup Finely Grated Parmesan Cheese
Squeeze of Fresh Meyer Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425′ and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

Toss the clean and dry root veggies in 2 Tbsp of olive oil and salt and pepper to coat. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp of the balsamic vinegar in and toss again. Place coated root veggies on the baking sheet and roast on the middle rack for 30-45 minutes, depending on size. You want to be able to pierce a butter knife through the largest vegetable on the tray.

Once the vegetables are roasting, steam the spinach for just a minute or two to cook down. Remove from heat to cool, squeeze out any remaining water and chop well.

In a medium saute pan over medium-low heat, drizzle olive oil over the minced garlic and cook for about a minute. Add the butter if desired (I did not and sauce turned out fantastic). Add chopped spinach and cream and stir to coat. Cook until the spinach absorbs most of the cream. Stir in the Parmesan and a few pinches of salt and pepper. Allow the creamy spinach goodness to cool a bit then transfer to a mini or immersion blender. Give it a few pulses to break it down then add it back to the pan and thin with milk/cream if you wish. Squeeze in a bit of fresh lemon juice to taste. Turn off the heat and cover to keep warm.

When the vegetables are ready, remove to cool slightly and drizzle on the remaining balsamic.

When in St. Louis, Eat Ethiopian Food? Part 2

One of my favorite Ethiopian restaurants is Shagga in Hyattsville, MD. But, now that I know how easy it is to create these dishes myself, I think I might be able to satisfy the craving for these wonderful spices and flavors at home. Here is the run-down on what we prepared and the details about how to do it yourself.


Sautéed Cabbage and Carrots with Turmeric (from Food and Wine Magazine)

What You Need

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium red onions, finely chopped (2 cups)
  • Salt
  • 10 garlic cloves, minced
  • One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons ground turmeric
  • 1 pound carrots, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
  • 5 pounds green cabbage, cored and cut into 3/4-inch pieces

What You Do

  1. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil.
  2. Add the onions and a generous pinch of salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, ginger and turmeric and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are fragrant and just starting to brown, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the carrots to the casserole along with 1/2 cup of water and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the carrots are just starting to soften, 7 minutes.
  5. Stir in the cabbage in large handfuls, letting each batch wilt slightly before adding more.
  6. When all of the cabbage has been added, cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is tender, 40 to 45 minutes.
  7. Season with salt and serve.

Spiced Red Lentils (from Food and Wine Magazine)

What You Need

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium red onions, finely chopped (2 cups)
  • 10 garlic cloves, minced
  • One 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 3 tablespoons berbere, plus more for sprinkling (See previous post)
  • 2 teaspoons nigella seeds, finely ground
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 3 cups red lentils (1 1/4 pounds)
  • 1 cup butternut squash puree (we had it leftover-and I thought it might add some nice flavor)

What You Do

  1. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil.
  2. Add the onions and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until they are softened and just starting to brown, about 8 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, ginger, berbere, nigella seeds, cardamom and a generous pinch each of salt and black pepper and cook until fragrant and deeply colored, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the red lentils with 8 cups of water to the casserole and bring to a boil.
  5. Cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the lentils have cooked downand thickened, 25 minutes.
  6. Stir in butternut squash puree.
  7. Season the lentils with salt and pepper.
  8. Ladle the lentils into bowls, sprinkle with berbere and serve.

Timatim Salad (from the Berbere Diaries)

What You Need

  • 1/4 c. canola oil
  • 3 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. berbere (see previous post)
  • 3-4 large tomatoes
  • 1/2- 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1-2 jalapeño peppers, chopped and if desired, de-seeded for less heat
  • 2 pieces Injera, torn into bite-size pieces

What You Do

  1. Combine the ingredients for the dressing and pour over the chopped vegetables and Injera
  2. Serve chilled.

And for next time, I will try my own Injera. I am so happy to now know the secret of this amazing bread- cooked like a pancake! Teff flour is an ancient grain that is gluten-free and provides calcium, iron and protein. So, now I don’t have to feel so guilty when I fill up on it during the meal.

Injera (from Food and Wine Magazine)

What You Need

  • 4 cups teff flour (about 5 ounces)
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

What You Do

  1. In a large bowl, whisk the teff flour with the water until a smooth batter forms.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature overnight; the batter will be slightly foamy.
  3. Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat.
  4. Whisk the salt into the batter.
  5. Ladle 3/4 cup of the batter into the skillet; swirl to coat the bottom with batter.
  6. Cook over moderately high heat until the injera just starts to bubble, about 30 seconds.
  7. Cover the skillet and cook for about 30 seconds longer, until the injera is cooked through and the surface is slightly glossy.
  8. Invert the skillet onto a work surface, letting the injera fall from the pan.
  9. Repeat with the remaining batter.

This meal will feed an army! We had so much leftover. If you are just feeding four, I suggest cutting all the recipes in half (excluding the Injera!). Or, if you are like me – enjoy the leftovers for lunch and dinner for days.

When in St. Louis, Eat Ethiopian Food? Part 1

My sister and I love Ethiopian food. So, when my sister moved to St. Louis, we worried she’d have to go without the delightful dishes until her visits with me in D.C. This weekend, as Frankenstorm Sandy neared the East Coast, I left to visit my sister in her new city, hang with her new politically active puppy, Aidan (shown below), and check out the food-scene in St. Louis.

Before boarding my flight, I picked up a copy of this month’s Food and Wine Magazine. While the front featured the expected Thanksgiving ideas, I found the most amazing surprise: A Lesson in Ethiopian Flavors. The feature included not only some of our favorite vegetarian dishes, but also the characteristic Ethiopian Injera Bread. Amazing!

We were able to successfully make a number of great dishes including sauteed cabbage and carrots, spiced red lentils, and timatim salad. We also prepared some sweet collard greens with balsamic, maple syrup, and dates (not Ethiopian flavors, but very yummy). Unfortunately, when we went to the market, we picked up teff grain instead of teff flour and could not prepare the Injera. So, instead, we resolved to try Injera another day and purchased it from my sister’s nearby Ethiopian restaurants (yes, they are there in St. Louis!).

The first step was to buy the ingredients and prepare berbere, a spice commonly used in Ethiopian dishes. While we didn’t find the spice mixture in the store, we found some great recipes and instructions online.

Berbere (from kadirecipes.com)

What You Need

  • 1 tsp of fenugreek seeds
  • 6 dried chilies (I only used 3, because I can’t handle the heat)
  • ½ cup paprika
  • 2 tsp ground ginger (I used fresh)
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 and ½  tbsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp of ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground cumin

What You Do

  1. Combine all ingredients together in a blender.
  2. Mix!!
  3. Store in a jar in the fridge, the recipe makes approximately one cup.

Stay tuned for more recipes from the wonderful evening, as I continue my extended trip here in St. Louis. All flights have been canceled back to BWI, so I will be here through Thursday at the earliest.

Stay safe, dry and warm to all those effected by Sandy.

Purple Potatoes

While we were digging these puppies out of the ground at Willowsford Farm, I knew they would lead to a delicious adventure in the kitchen and spur a little research on origins and nutrition. Here goes!

The All Blue planted, nurtured, harvested and pictured here is one of several heirloom varieties known for their earthy, starchy, nuttiness and antioxidant/flavonoid-rich, nutritional properties.  A staple in South American kitchens, the purple potato has Peruvian origins and is now cultivated throughout North and South America and Europe.

Like other potatoes, they are great roasted, braised, baked, boiled or made into chips and a great veggie for those savory herbs. I chose to roast them with hand-pressed olive oil, fresh rosemary and a culinary lavender and sea salt mix from Lavender Fields in Milton, Delaware.

After slicing the already-fairly-small potatoes into half inch wedges, I tossed them with the oil and spices and popped them into a 375 degree over for about 45 minutes, flipping them a few times along the way. As is common when cooking with fresh, raw materials, I made more than enough to set a few servings aside to be re-heated on a skillet for another breakfast or dinner. Lots of websites and chefs suggest pairing them with pork, poultry, salad greens and cheeses.

A little more about their nutritional value:

  • Contain B-Complex vitamins, particularly B-6
  • Contain minerals: magnesium, potassium, niacin, iron
  • Contain folic acid and pantothenic acid
  • They are anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial and contain the flavonoid: anthocyanin
For more history and recipe ideas, check out the Purple Potato Page on SpecialtyProduce.com. They’ve got links to recipes far fancier than mine!

Backyard Fall Hangout and the Onion Tart

Last week, a friend of mine visited from FL. Before her arrival, I promised her the crispness of fall and told her to pack a sweater. Of course, when she arrived — it was well over 80 degrees. After a couple hot, summer-like days, we were relieved that we got a taste of fall weather over the weekend. To celebrate the season, and her visit, I hosted friends over to my house for a fall-cookout and fire in the backyard. We had grilled summer squash and eggplant as well as roasted winter squash – a bridge between the two seasons.

I also made an onion tart – from a recipe that I’ve been eyeing for the last three weeks. It was amazing! Perfect as an appetizer or side dish for your festivities this October.

Onion Tart (from TasteFood)

What You Need
– 1 cup all-purpose flour
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut in 1/4 inch cubes
– 3 tablespoons ice water
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 2 pounds yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 2 tablespoons port wine (I used the red wine open and leftover from earlier in the week)
– 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
– 2 ounces finely grated Gruyère cheese (I used parm, but I think other cheeses would work here- I’m thinking of trying goat cheese next time)
– 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, plus extra for garnish
– 1 egg, slightly beaten

What You Do
1. In a food processor, combine flour, salt, butter, and water. (Note: you can also do this with a folk)
2. Pulse until it resembles coarse meal, with some pieces of the butter apparent, adding another tablespoon of water if necessary.
3. Form into a ball and flatten.
4. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour.
5. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a deep skillet or pot.
6. Add onions and salt. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown, soft and squidgy, about 30 minutes.
7. Add port wine and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.
8. Remove onions from heat and stir in the pepper. Cool slightly.
9. While the onions are cooling, roll out the dough to fit in the bottom and up the side of a 10-inch round tart tin.
10. Sprinkle half of the cheese over the bottom of the tart.
11. Spoon onions into the shell and spread evenly.
12. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon thyme over the onions.
13. Brush the exposed crust rim with the egg wash.
14. Sprinkle the tart and crust with the remaining cheese.
15. Bake in a preheated 375 F. oven until the crust is firm and golden and the onions have turned a rich golden brown, without blackening, about 30 minutes.
16. Remove and cool slightly. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature garnished with thyme sprigs.

Here is the tart before it went into the oven!

We ate it so quickly there are no “after” shots.

Time for Fall Squash: Delicata

Baked/Roasted Delicata Squash

‘Tis the season for hearty veggies! For the past few weeks, we’ve been harvesting and curing acorn, butternut and delicata squash. Carrying heavy baskets and bins of them (and their neighboring pumpkins and sweet potatoes) is a little tougher than say… lettuce… but oh-so-worth-it on a lazy Sunday in the kitchen. The delicata especially.

In an effort to find an interesting recipe to suggest to CSA members and folks at the farmers market, I Googled delicata and found out that there is another way to cook it than the butter boat method I use with butternuts: Roast them up like sweet potato fries!

While preheating the oven to 405-425 degrees (depending on the level of crisp you desire), chop off the ends of the squash and cut it in half vertically. Clean out the seeds and gunk with a spoon, then chop those halves up into half-inch thick smiley-face pieces. Toss them by hand in a bowl with olive oil and a little salt then place them on baking sheets in a single layer. They need 15-20 minutes in there and a flip midway. If you’d like more detailed instructions, find them in this great post, “Better Than Butternut,” on Summer Tomato.

This is some seriously awesome squash! I highly recommend looking for it at a farmers market near you!