Abigail Cahill O'Brien

Posts Tagged ‘recipe’

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.

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.

Scallops, Zucchini and Peas in Lemon-Bacon Broth

In Food on June 28, 2010 at 10:06 am

When it comes to my tendency to eat large quantities of pasta, I have a couple tricks up my sleeve.

Sometimes I buy individual bird nest servings of fresh pasta at Duckworth Beach Gourmet, a double-whammy win that’s a huge treat by virtue of its quality, but also automatically controls serving size.

More often, though, I recreate pasta dishes with summer squash as a base.  This works well in CSA season, or for anyone with an overload of zucchini on their hands.

We made this dish on a whim over the weekend.  If you’d like to omit the broth, salt your julienned zucchini first and allow it to drain in a colander for 30-40 minutes.  The salt will draw out the water.  Be sure to rinse and pat dry after to avoid over-salting the whole dish.

Now, that’s much too complicated for my usual dinner mode – you won’t find me dunking blanched veggies in ice baths on a Friday night either – which is why we ended up with this bright-tasting broth.  By the time you serve it, the broth will be warm but not steaming, so it’s still suitable for all but the hottest summer nights.

A final note: don’t use a non-stick pan.  It’s hard to get a good sear on the scallops in one.

Scallops, Zucchini and Peas in Lemon-Bacon Broth Serves 4

  • 3 slices of bacon (or substitute pancetta)
  • 5-6 small summer squash or zucchini, julienned
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh English peas, shelled
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup Parmesan, grated
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • Scallops, 12-16

Eyeball the zucchini and select a pan big enough to hold all of it.  Heat the pan and cook the bacon in it; set bacon aside.  Drain off all the bacon fat save 2 tbsp.  Add the diced onion to the pan and cook until softened and translucent; add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes more, stirring often.  You may have lowered the heat to avoid burning the garlic;  if so, crank it back up before adding the zucchini.   Turn the zucchini in the bacon fat, onion and garlic until it begins to soften but isn’t limp.  Test a piece; it should have some give to it when you bite down, but not be noodle-y.   Add the peas and stir for one minute, or until the peas begin to deepen in color.  Crumble bacon into the pan.  Add the lemon zest and juice; stir.  Remove from the heat and add the Parmesan.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Scrape the entire zucchini mixture into a large bowl and set aside.

Wipe out your pan and put it over fairly high heat.  Add even portions of vegetable oil and butter, enough to coat the pan and then some.  Add one scallop.  If it sizzles, the pan is hot enough.  Add the remaining scallops, making sure they don’t touch to prevent steaming, and don’t move them after they hit the pan.   Cook 3 minutes on one side, 2 minutes on the other.  They should develop a nicely caramelized sear on both sides.

Mound zucchini in a shallow soup bowl, spooning the accumulated broth over it.  Top with 4-5 scallop per person, and serve with a fork, spoon and crusty bread for dipping.

Cookout Turned Cook-in: Feta Lamb Burgers and More

In Food on June 16, 2010 at 5:30 am

While Amy Meier‘s photo shoot at our place went off without a hitch, our celebratory BBQ encountered a couple: rolling banks of mist and the threat of thunderstorms.

Nothing to do but cook in, instead.  Light the fire, ladle the fish chowder, and get cozy (Amy’s favorite word).

We began with pesto di prosciutto, homemade hummus and skewers of mozzarella, grilled nectarines and basil.  Tip: beware of over-grilling the nectarines.   Makes for hard-to-assemble skewers.  The watermelonade went down easy, whether au naturel or doctored with spirits.

The main course:  lamb burgers stuffed with mint and feta, fish chowder (recipe to come), hot dogs, roasted asparagus and radishes, and a simple chopped Greek salad.

I had dreams of making faiselle popsicles for dessert, but left them in the “What was I thinking??  There’s no time for that!” dust, opting for ice cream sandwiches.  Amy made the toll house cookies.  All I had to do was squish a small scoop of Häagen-Dazs between each pair (which was inexplicably fun), and pop them in the freezer.

Given the Herculean efforts required to get a far-flung group of friends together these days (remember when meeting for manicures was as easy as breathing?), we weren’t about to let a little sea mist get in our way.

As much as I love – fine, need – solitude, it’s much easier to savor with a gathering or two thrown into the mix.  And vice versa.

Thanks, Ame, for having the presence of mind to take photos the day after a grueling shoot of your own, and for making two batches of cookies on that sprained ankle.

You’re the best excuse a gal could have for a cook-in.

All photos courtesy of Amy Meier.

Make it at Home: Tom Block’s Smoked Tomato & Paprika Popcorn

In Food on March 15, 2010 at 8:09 am

If you love popcorn, you must make this.

On Saturday we reviewed the melee that was my first trip to Kalustyan’s.  The ostensible reason for the trip was tomato powder, an ingredient for Tom Block’s addictive Popcorn with Tomato and Parika.  Tom, formerly of Falai and Aquavit, is the new Executive Chef shaking things up at Allen & Delancey.  He serves this popcorn at the bar.

The combination of tomato and paprika creates tang and the slightest suggestion of heat. I personally polished off a serving while waiting for friends to arrive for dinner. It’d be killer with a refreshing basil-flavored cocktail.

Lucky us!  Here’s how to recreate his brilliance in your own kitchen.   When you’re in New York next, don’t miss his food, which is perfectly matched to the velvet-and-candlelight-swathed dining room.

Popcorn with Tomato and Paprika (10 servings)

  • 1 Tbsp Canola Oil
  • 1 Cup Unpopped Popcorn Kernels
  • 1/2 Lb Melted Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Tomato Powder
  • 1/3 Cup Smoked Sweet Paprika
  • 2 Tblsp Salt
  1. Cook popcorn in a covered pan with canola oil cook until popcorn stops popping, approximately 5 mins.
  2. While popcorn is popping, mix together  tomato powder, paprika, and salt.
  3. Once popcorn is cooked, toss with melted butter.  After popcorn is coated in butter toss in spice mixture to taste.
  4. Consume immediately or when cool place in an airtight container. It will last over 1 week if stored properly.

A couple notes: I used sweet paprika as opposed to hot.  If you reduce the butter, reduce the powder mixture by the same amount; otherwise you’ll find a lot of it wasted at the bottom of the bowl.  And finally, proper storage is key.  I stored some in takeout soup containers and it did turn stale (it’s also been extremely humid here).  Use Ziplock bags or really tight Tupperware.

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Bacon: Adventures in Flavor Doctoring

In Food on November 2, 2009 at 2:20 pm

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Butternut squash has never been my favorite autumnal vegetable.  It’s simply too sweet and mushy and requires much too much doctoring.  The great (or terrifying, depending on your point of view) thing about a weekly CSA box is that your personal produce preferences aren’t given any credence.  So after glaring at two obstinate butternut squashes for a few days, I went in search of a recipe that would render them edible.  Using up an apple and some leeks along the way killed three birds with one stone.
Read on for recipe . . .