A Bushel & A Peck…(Green Garlic Champagne Vinaigrette)

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I’ve been waiting (and waiting) for my name to inch to the top of the list at Tecolote Farm.  I’m finally in!  An official basketeer.  Tecolote Farm is our local CSA and today the first basket of the season arrived at our doorstep.  I can hardly contain myself. Seriously, I’ve been singing A Bushel & A Peck all morning.  Mia’s father used to sing the Guys & Dolls show tune to her and now she sings it to the Littles.

I love you

a bushel and a peck,

a bushel and a peck

and a hug around the neck

I tried to download the music for you, but my self-imposed blogging hiatus has made my technical skills a tad rusty.  I’ll work on that…

Anyway, the bushel of organic goodness contains mostly greens this week – lettuce mix, bloomsdale spinach, collard greens, mache, Japanese turnips and green garlic.

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To make use of the beautiful salad greens I’m making a Salade Nicoise for tonight’s supper with a Green Garlic Champagne Vinaigrette. The vinaigrette turned out delicious and is the most wonderful shade of green.  It adds a fun twist to the traditional French salad.

Green Garlic Champagne Vinaigrette

2 Tbs green ends of green garlic, chopped

1 small shallot, chopped

1/4 cup Champagne vinegar

2 tsp agave nectar

1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

2/3 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

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Green garlic is sweeter and more subtle than the garlic we typically use.  I used two bulbs in a French Lentil Soup (more on this tomorrow) and put the green stems to use for the vinaigrette.

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Put the chopped green garlic tips, vinegar, shallot, agave nectar and Dijon in a mini processor and pulse until pureed.

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Slowly add the oils and pulse until completely emulsified.  Season with salt & pepper.

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I wish you could see how green and vibrant this dressing turned out.  I’ve been pinky testing it all afternoon and can’t wait to dress up the salade nicoise ce soir.  Bon Appetit!

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Blue Cheese Dressing

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I’m always grateful to have this versatile blue cheese dressing on hand.  It’s a cinch to make, lasts in the fridge for a week and will make the man in your life crumble and swoon.  Especially if you serve it with steak.

I’ve heard this dressing is really good drizzled over an open-faced turkey, spinach and roasted sweet pepper sandwich too.  But, I can neither confirm nor deny that this is what I had for lunch today….

Blue Cheese Dressing

6 TBS extra virgin olive oil

6 TBS sour cream or plain yogurt (I use FAGE)

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

3 TBS sherry vinegar

dash of Worcestershire Sauce

1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled and divided

1 TBS fresh chives, chopped

salt & pepper

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Mix first five ingredients in a bowl until oil begins to emulsify.  Slowly add in 1/2 of the blue cheese and continue to whisk until the dressing is well combined.  Gently stir in remaining half of blue cheese and chives.  Season to taste with salt & pepper.

I love, love, love FAGE yogurt.  It is tart, but smooth and I eat some every day.  It has a ridiculous amount of protein and is low in calorie and has no fat.  I usually drizzle mine with a little agave nectar for a sweet treat.  FAGE is my choice for this blue cheese dressing, but if you cannot find FAGE or do not care for the tart taste, I would use sour cream.

Romesco…the new pesto

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As you know, I’m quite fond of making pesto.  I’ve tried dozens of variations depending on what nuts and herbs I have on hand.  Naturally one of my first thoughts to give our Gulf Red Snapper a boost was to whip up a yummy pesto.  Boring.  And so 2008.  When I heard the LA Times declared romesco the new pesto I knew I had to be on the bandwagon.

What is romesco, you ask? Spain’s version of Italy’s pesto.  Typically made with almonds or hazelnuts to form the paste and roasted peppers, this sauce has as many variations as its cousin pesto.  I chose to doctor mine up with the fiery hot Spanish paprika I found earlier this fall (remember that?!?!)

Make a batch of this yummy sauce today and you will come up with endless uses for it all week long.   I plan to use the romesco as a dip for carrots and celery, topped on an open-face turkey sandwich, and tossed with whole wheat pasta and grilled gulf shrimp.

But what did I end up doing with the Texas Gulf Red Snapper we scored at the Farmer’s Market? You’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out how I used the Romesco sauce to make it Husband’s new favorite fish dish….

Romesco

4 plum tomatoes, chopped

1 slice of bread (I used sourdough)

1/2 cup almonds, toasted

1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted

6 garlic cloves

1 cup roasted bell peppers

1 Tbs fresh rosemary, chopped

1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp oregano, dried

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup red wine

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

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Lightly toast hazelnuts and almonds until just browned.

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Roughly chop the tomatoes, white bread and garlic.

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Pulse the nuts, tomatoes, bread and garlic in a food processor until a thick paste forms.

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Add the roasted peppers, rosemary, pepper flakes, oregano, sugar, salt, pepper and paprika.  Pulse until well combined.  Add the wine and and gradually drizzle in the olive oil until a nice thick sauce is formed.

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Fish Stock

Fish stock is so simple to make and is a great way to use an entire fish or shrimp and keep extra or wilting produce from going to waste.  This method can be used to make vegetable stock, chicken stock or any combination of flavors depending on what scraps and produce you have on hand.

First, save your  leftover bones and scraps – chicken, pork and meat bones, ham hocks, shrimp shells will all make flavorful stocks.  Toss your leftover scraps (not fat or skins!)  in the freezer until you are ready to make your stock.  Don’t forget that vegetable trimmings like the tips of carrots and celery will freeze for your rainy stock making day too.  Really waste not want not is the motto here.

I’m planning a bouillabaisse (fancy name for a humble fish stew) tomorrow, so I thought I’d get a jump start by making the fish stock in advance. Sure  you can buy almost any stock you need at the store, but I promise you can make your own stock for half the cost and double the flavor.  Try it once and soon you’ll find yourself saving bits and scraps here and there in eager anticipation of making  your own stock.

For this fish stock I’m using the shells from the shrimp I’ll be adding to the fish stew tomorrow.  I also have loads of fresh veggies on hand so I’m putting those to good use, but will save any extras for future stocks.  The general rule of thumb is to use the classic French mirepoix (onions, carrots, and celery) for your basic stock.

I generally flavor my stocks with good white wine.  By good I mean something I would serve guests at dinner.  It doesn’t have to be expensive, just good quality wine. I also add a little tomato paste if I have it on hand.  I’ve indicated that these ingredients are optional because they are not essential to making stock.  They will however boost the flavors.

Fish Stock

2 -3 Tbs olive oil

shells from 1 lb of shrimp

2 onions, rough chopped with skins if desired

2 -3 carrots, rough chopped with peel

3 celery stalks, chopped with tips too

2-3 cloves garlic (optional)

1 1/2  quarts of water (slightly more if not using wine)

1/2 cup white wine (optional)

1/3 cup tomato paste (optional)

1 tbs sea salt

1 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

8 – 10 sprigs fresh thyme

Saute the onions, carrots and celery in olive oil in a large pot.  After a couple of minutes add the shrimp shells and saute over medium heat until the onions are translucent and the carrots and celery are soft, about 10 minutes.

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Add the garlic and cook one or two more minutes.  Add water, wine and paste (if using), salt, pepper and thyme.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.

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Strain the liquid into a large bowl, pressing the cooked mixture with the back of a wooden spoon to make sure you get all the intense flavor of the vegetables and shells.

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Allow the stock to cool completely.  Stock will keep in refrigerator if you plan to use it within a few days.  If not freeze stock for up to 3 months.

Kids Cook Night: The Best Red Sauce Ever

Here’s a sauce that is so simple it seems incomplete.  Wait until you taste it.  The kids love to help make this sauce.  And by help I mean dumping the can of tomatoes in the pot and dropping in the onions.

Try this sauce on any kind of noodles, spooned over meatballs and even roasted chicken.  I’ve served it with parmesan chicken and as a dipping sauce for cheese sticks. It’s divine served family style with polenta.  And did I mention how simple it is???  Oh you’ll be tempted to add a dash of this or a hint of that.  I was.  I tried adding  herbs, both fresh and dried, and experimented with garlic, parmesan cheese and spices.  But leave it simple,  you won’t miss a thing.  I promise.

Simple Red Sauce

1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes (I like Muir Glen)

4 Tbs butter

1 onion, quartered

Add all ingredients to sauce pan and simmer over medium heat until the tomatoes break apart and the onions are translucent (about 20 – 30 minutes).  My kids like the onions removed from the sauce before serving and I am happy to oblige this request.  I remove the perfectly seasoned onions and pop them right in my mouth.

I would have taken a photo to show you this yummy sauce, but that would have added a step to this ridiculously simple recipe.

Oh and I always, always double the recipe.  You’ll find lots of uses for the left overs during the week.  Tell me what you do with this sauce so I can try too.

Soy Vay

I used a life line today.  Called on an old friend for the answer.  No I wasn’t playing Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.  But I did find myself flat out of time to make dinner today.  I pulled out one of my fast food suppers and somehow managed to get dinner on the table before I was handed a pink slip.  Some days are just like that.

I owe my speedy supper to a long time favorite marinade by Soy Vay called Veri, Veri Teriyaki.  It’s readily available at all THREE of my grocery stores so I keep it on hand at all times for days like today.  It’s delicious on salmon, chicken and vegetables.  I also keep ice glazed, frozen chicken tenderloins stocked in the freezer.  They are quick to defrost and easy to add to any recipe.  At some point around noon, I pulled the tenderloins from the freezer, tossed them in a baggie with a generous portion of Soy Vay and allowed the meat to defrost and marinate for the rest of the day in the fridge.  At dinner time I made brown rice and stir fried a mix of broccolini, broccoli and onions with the chicken tenderloins then topped it all off with a handful of cashews.

What speedy suppers do you fall back on when life deals you one of those days?

Simple Shrimp Supper (Chili-Lime Vinaigrette)

It’s a perfect Saturday. The littles are still relishing their Friday night sleep-overs, we have a rare break in our our typical routine of over-abundantly-scheduled-saturday-activities and Husband is happy the Horns play tonight. Football season is its own religion at The Schell Cafe. Our beloved Texas Longhorns are away tonight which gives us a rare September Saturday night at home.

Husband requested grilled shrimp for supper. Simple enough. And because I already have all the fixin’s in the pantry, I’ll make shrimp tacos for the littles and a salad tossed with a spicy vinaigrette for Husband and myself.

Nothing could be more simple than making a vinaigrette.  Well, maybe the shrimp.  Tonight I’m using only three ingredients: olive oil, lime juice and chili powder.  Use a 3:1 ratio of olive oil and lime juice.  This is the general rule of thumb for any oil/vinegar combo. The lime juice I’m using tonight is an acidic substitute for vinegar.  And add chili powder to taste.  Quickly whisk the ingredients together until the liquid emulsifies and you have an opaque consistency.  Drizzle over salad and enjoy!