Abigail Cahill O'Brien

Archive for July, 2010|Monthly archive page

CSA Week 4: Vegetarian Delight

In Food on July 12, 2010 at 8:08 am

So much for CSA week 3.  It was sweltering, I ate salads – even the squash made it into salads – and I won’t bore you with it.

As the heat lifted last week, the urge to cook returned, and I managed to serve almost all of Farmer Dave’s Week 4’s haul in one large vegetarian meal.

For apps, I whirred a bunch of basil into a quick pesto (using olive oil, Parmesan, pine nuts, honey, lemon juice and sat and pepper), topped it with more olive oil and served it with ciabatta and a bowl of  goat cheese.

Zucchini au gratin took center stage, accompanied by a citrus beet salad, minted peas, and wilted greens with caramelized Vidalia onions.

Dessert?  The first of the native peaches, peeled and sliced and tossed with a little brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, then topped with whipped cream.

I plain forgot to take a picture.

Zucchini Au Gratin Serves 4-6.  I doubled this for 12 adults and 4 kids.  We had leftovers for dinner the next day.

I used Manchego because that’s what I had on hand.  Parmesan alone would do the trick, and nothing baked ever suffered from the inclusion of Gruyère.  The basil is optional.  Fresh thyme baked in with the vegetables would work.

  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 small yellow summer squash
  • 1 large pattypan squash (5-6 inches in diameter)
  • 2 small red potatoes
  • 8 ounces goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
  • 1/2 cup Manchego, grated
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Fresh basil, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Slice the squash and potatoes into very thin slices, 1/8-inch or less. Toss the sliced vegetables with the olive oil in a large bowl.

Coat an 8 or 9 inch square casserole dish with a thin layer of olive oil (I used a brush).
Place 1/3 of the squash and potato slices in the bottom of the dish—no need to layer them squash-potato-squash.  Season with salt and pepper. Top with half of the goat cheese, scattered evenly in large chunks. Repeat with another 1/3 of the vegetables, seasoning again with salt and pepper and topping with the other 1/2 of the goat cheese. Finish by layering on the final 1/3 of the vegetables and seasoning with salt and pepper.

Pour the milk over the entire dish. Top with the Manchego and Parmesan cheese. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake 15-20 more minutes, until the top browns. Scatter on the fresh basil, if using.

Citrus Beet Salad

  • 6 medium beets
  • 4 oranges
  • 1/3 cup sliced red onion
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425.  Wrap washed, whole beets in tinfoil and roast 1 hour or until done.  Stick a fork in one to test; it should slide in easily.  Allow to cool before peeling.  The skin should slip off easily.  I peel by hand, wearing gloves to avoid staining.  Slice beets thinly into rounds.

Prepare oranges as follows. Cut the ends off.  Place one now-flattened end on your cutting board, and shave the peel and pith off with a sharp knife in vertical strips.  Cut into disks, reserving one half of an orange for juicing. Arrange orange slices on a platter, drizzle lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Top with a layer of beets and thinly sliced red onions.  Drizzle with more olive oil.  Squeeze the reserved half orange over the beets.  Season again with salt and pepper.

I know – the onions above aren’t yet caramelized.  I snuck a few out of the pan early to get this shot taken.  You really want a lovely light brown color, which can take quite a long time to develop.

Wilted Greens

  • 1 head Swiss chard
  • 1 head amaranth
  • 1 head arugula
  • 1 bunch beet greens
  • olive oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper

Remove the stalks from the swiss chard; dice and set aside.  Wash the greens in a sink of water, inspecting each leaf.  Place the still-wet greens in a large stockpot over high heat.  When they let off a sizzle, begin to turn them.  When they are wilted remove them from the pot to a large bowl, leaving the liquid behind.

In a small sauce pan, heat a generous pour of olive oil.  Add the sliced garlic and red pepper flakes (a small dash or more depending on the desired level of heat) and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until garlic begins to take on a golden color.  Add the diced chard stems; cook until softened.  Drizzle the olive oil and chard mixture over the greens.  Toss to coat.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Caramelized Onions

  • 4-5 Vidalia onions, sliced into rounds
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • Paprika

In a large pan, melt the butter and vegetable oil over medium heat.  Add sliced onions and a dash of paprika.  Sauté the onions until translucent and cooked through.  Salt generously.  Turn heat to very low and cook, stirring often, until the onions take on a golden light brown color.  I cook them for at least 2 hours, and will leave them on the stove all day if I have the luxury.

Friday Flotsam

In Fashion, Flotsam, Food on July 9, 2010 at 5:30 am

1. Karen Walker Crazy Tortoise shades via Mrs. Lilien.

2. Paper Plane airmail coin purse, via The Fabric of My Life.

3. Vanessa Jackman’s photo of Carine Roitfeld’s killer combo: camp shirt and white flared jeans.  Try this, or this, and definitely these.

4. Cold drink Inspiration via The Kitchn.

5. Check out their salad dressing roundup while you’re at it.

Vive La Vivier, and Chic Utility

In Fashion on July 8, 2010 at 5:30 am


Clare Vivier’s La Tropizienne tote, $320

Remember that summer clothes spending freeze we talked about last month?  I’m still in it, the one exception being that $30 striped tote, which I’m wearing the daylights out of and love to pieces.

That said, it’s time to start thinking about Fall.  I just about swooned when I saw Clare Vivier’s bags over at Fashion Intel.

No logos, no gimmicks, no hardware rivaling that of a bank vault.  Just a boatload of timeless style. Just the way I like my everyday bags.  “Chic utility,” as their website describes it.  Indeed.

Here are some more beauties from her collection.

Le mini sac, $169

Nubuck messenger tote in navy, $345

iPad case, $99

Minted Limeade, Anyone?

In Food on July 7, 2010 at 11:25 am

Well hello there.  Heat getting to you yet?  The breeze blew again this morning, but we haven’t seen the last of the seat-melting warm weather.

I chased my ice coffee with a glass of minted limeade, drawing on the reserved mint simple syrup and a bag of limes left over from weekend entertaining.

Lula’s Pantry carries these barber stripe straws, and they’re also available online here.  Starting the day with a little solo garnishing gives new meaning to drinking alone.

I’m so inspired, I might just get dressed.

Minted Limeade

  • 3/4 cup mint simple syrup
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 limes, juiced
  • 1 lime, thinly sliced for garnish
  • Mint sprigs for garnish
  • Sparkling water (optional)
  • 1/4 cup super fine sugar (optional)

Combine lime juice, water and mint simple syrup in a pitcher.  Stir and add additional superfine sugar, if you like.  Pour over ice to halfway full.  Top with sparkling water, wafer thin lime slices and a sprig of mint.

Friday Flotsam

In Flotsam on July 2, 2010 at 10:47 am

1. This bar cart for my imaginary city apartment.  Via If The Lampshade Fits.

2. 15 fresh picnic salads from The Kitchn.

3. Zen lunch box via Apartment Therapy.

4. This pepper mill via quintessentially b.

5. Best outdoor light roundup at Apartment Therapy

6. This sea chest via Red Ticking.

7. Vegetable scrubbing gloves via The Kitchn.

8. Chef’s pencils via Shelterrific.

CSA Week 2 Recipes: Lentil-Radish Salad in Thyme Vinaigrette

In Food on July 1, 2010 at 10:06 am

Here we are at the end of Week 2.  For anyone interested in joining, Farmer Dave’s still has a few shares available for pick up throughout the Boston area (go here for pickup locations).

I wasted less food this week, which is always the goal.  A few leafs of green were lost to yellowing (which has me thinking I ought to replace my Debbie Meyer green bags – they’re well beyond the recommended 10 uses) but nothing as heartbreaking as last week’s sodden English peas.

Earlier in the week I shared my recipe for scallops, zucchini and peas in lemon-bacon broth. I also made the famous garlic scape and white bean dip, and yes, it’s as good (and simple) as everyone says. My Hurukei turnips went into a romaine and green apple salad, and I threw the cilantro into guacamole.   This steak marinade won high marks – though in the spirit of full disclosure i omitted the garlic salt and parsley flakes, and substituted Worcestershire for fish sauce.  There’s a big hole in my pantry where fish sauce ought to be.

My favorite, besides the scallops?  This lovely lentil salad.  Start with French lentils if you can find them; they hold their shape well and won’t turn o mush when cooked.   The cooking liquid looked so rich and green that I reserved it in a mug.  A little salt and pepper, et voilà! A thyme-lentil broth on which to sip while cooking.

Lentil & Radish Salad in Thyme Vinaigrette

Chop 3 shallots and cook in olive oil in a medium pot until soft. Mince 2 cloves of garlic and 2 tbsp fresh thyme; add to shallots and stir until garlic softens.  Add 6 cups water, 3 bay leaves and 2 1/4 cups French lentils.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a fast simmer for 20-25 minutes, until water is almost gone.  Drain lentils and remove bay leaves.  Let lentils cool.  Stir in one cup diced cucumbers and one bunch of radishes, also diced.  Dress with thyme vinaigrette:  1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, salt and pepper.  Top with goat cheese.  Lentils double in volume when cooked, so this will make about 6-8 cups depending on how many vegetables you add.

Poached Egg on Basil Pesto Greens: Just what it sounds like! Cook greens in a tsp of olive oil until they wilt. I had no idea what my greens were, until Food and Fiction identified them as Yukina Savoy (thanks, Jane).  Stir in 1-2 tbsp basil pesto.  Top with a poached egg and grated Parmesan.

There’s nothing quite like an arugula and steak salad.  I sliced in some radishes and cucumbers, and dressed it with a mustard-caper vinaigrette (olive oil, white wine vinegar, dijon mustard and capers).

Simple salads get me through the week’s lunches.  This chilled beauty, featuring grapefruit, celery and Parmesan, used fruit that might have otherwise languished on my counter.  Get the recipe here (I added wafer-thin red onion slices), and go here for useful pictorial directions on how to segment citrus fruit.

To finish it off, leftover steak topped an onion-celery-bok choy stirfry, flavored with fresh ginger, cilantro, soy sauce and lime juice.