Monday, July 13, 2009

Summer Salad

To celebrate the beautiful summer weather we've been having, I made a simple sald for supper tonight. I used Locally Known summer salad mix and topped it with a gorgeous chopped heirloom tomato and some chicken with a brown butter-balsamic glaze. Very easy and light. Enjoy!


I used four thighs, baked for about 40 minutes in a 350 degree oven. This I did earlier today; I ran some errands while Rob payed bills on-line and baby-sat the oven : ) I then removed the skin and stored them in the fridge. Right before I finished the sald, I broke the chicken into bite size pieces.

Brown Butter-Balsamic Glaze

I melted a few tablespoons on butter in a skillet, waited for the foam to subside (the sign that the butter is "browned") then added some balsamic vinegar. Stir that around then add the chicken to coat it with the yummy goodness and warm the chicken through. Toss the salad, tomatos and chicken (pour the chicken and remaining glaze on the lettuce), then plate and top each with shaved parmasean cheese.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

FREE Local Cheese Tasting Tonight

I found this event on one of my favorite sites: Boston+Localvores.

Local Cheese Tasting
cost: FREE
location: The Growing Center, Union Square, Somerville (click on link for directions)
time: 6-9pm
rain date: July 11
*They have some different cheeses they are providing, but feel free to bring your own fav local cheese as well (I'm bringing Constant Bliss!) or fav cheese accoutrement like bread, jam, chocolate, etc.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Veggie Stock

I'm quite a packrat, which is actually quite a good thing when it comes to making stock. Saving all the bits and pieces that are unusable in any other venue are perfect for a stock and it's a great way to reduce your environmental impact from your kitchen. So, I have a freezer bag labeled "Vegetable Stock" and it stays in my freezer collecting the carrot tops, celery leaves, parsley and thyme stems and odd bits of onion or other vegetables I have left over from my other cooking. Today I also threw in a random summer squash that was on it's last legs in the back of my crisper drawer, proving that stocks are a great way to use of leftovers of any kind.
This stock was very easy to make, it just takes quite a bit of time. My freezer stock bag included carrots (ends and tops as well as a few scraggly ones I apparently didn't feel worthy to add to some other dish), celery ends and leaves, onion ends and that outside layer you have to pull off to get to the good onion stuff, plus tons of parsley and thyme stems (no need for the leaves) and that chopped up summer squash I threw in at the last minute. For flavor, I added some salt, whole peppercorns and two bay leafs. Everything goes into the pot (the largest one you have) and the whole thing gets filled with water. Keep the lid on while you bring it to a boil, then remove the lid and bring the temperature down to low. Simmer the stock for about 4 hours, until the veggies are falling apart.
Next comes the fun part: straining! I only have one large stock pot, so I strained the liquid into my largest bowl. Place the strainer/collander into the bowl and the bowl in the sink. I like to remove the vegetables to a seperate bowl for easier pouring/ladeling. Once the liquid is seperated from the veggies, strain it into containers. I use quart containers from the deli counter, but any container will do. You can vary the amounts you use depending on your needs; I usually like to have at least 1 smaller container (mine is a reused Sauces N Love container) as well as 1 quart in the refrigerator and the rest in the freezer. You could even use freezer bags if you wanted. Just let them chill for a couple of hours, then squeeze the air out flatten as much as possible so the stock can be stored side by side, like notebooks*. Anyhow, to strain into the containers, use cheesecloth to remove the last of the impurities. I secure the cheesecloth over the opening with an elastic, then place the container in a bowl in the sink (can you tell that I'm a little nervous about losing any of this golden goodness?) You can definitely use the same piece of cheeselcoth for all the containers, just rinse it off if it gets too grimy looking ; )
So there you have it, a great, easy vegetable stock recipe you can use for ANYTHING! Try it in place of water or wherever you would noramlly use canned chicken broth. It adds a completely new depth and flavor to the most familiar foods. Look for the recipe I used it in: Risotto Primavera. It's coming soon!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Easy Mac N Cheese dinner

Well, it's finally summer in Boston. Almost 80 degrees today, a big shock from last week. When thinking about dinner, I wanted something easy, something that didn't require me to stand over a stove. Rob and I didn't really feel like meat and then it hit: the craving. We wanted, nay, needed, macaroni and cheese. I found a recipe on Smitten Kitchen and happened to have most of the ingredients on hand. The only thing missing was cottage cheese, which I misread as cream cheese, which is what I bought and used. It was delicious. No need to boil the pasta; it still cooks up beautifully. It's super cheesy and the crust bakes up perfectly brown and crunchy, with no need for breadcrumbs. (Which is good, because I'm all out and couldn't find a single decent, non-HFCS breadcrumb at the supermarket) The sides where pretty straightforward: sauteed green beans with garlic and bacon and corn on the cob. Comfort food at its best! We enjoyed this on our back porch, savoring the cool summer breeze and homecooked food.

Easiest Baked Mac-and-Cheese (Adapted from Smitten Kitchen,adapted from New York Times)
Serve it with a green salad, in a feeble attempt at caloric balance, and wine, to remind yourself that you’re a grown-up.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

2 tablespoons butter (divided)

1 package cream cheese (8 oz.)
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon dry mustard
Pinch cayenne (I was out so I just used chili powder)
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg (totally worth it!)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound cheese (half cheddar, half mozzerella)
1/2 pound whole wheat pasta, uncooked.
1. Heat oven to 375°F and position an oven rack in upper third of oven. Use one tablespoon butter to grease a 9-inch round or square baking pan.
2. In a blender, purée cream cheese, milk, mustard, cayenne, nutmeg and salt and pepper together. Reserve 1/4 cup grated cheese for topping. In a large bowl, combine remaining grated cheese, milk mixture and uncooked pasta. Pour into prepared pan, cover tightly with foil and bake 30 minutes.
3. Uncover pan, stir gently, sprinkle with reserved cheese and dot with remaining tablespoon butter. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes more, until browned. Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

So-called "Food Independence"

Wow. I almost can't believe that someone would write this. I don't know which is more shocking: the fact that they claim one of our greatest liberties is having a cupcake or that Colonel Sanders is a national hero. Really? This article just makes me sick as I realize who twisted these agencies are. I'm not saying that I think everyone should join the raw vegan movement and say "Death to corporations!" That is an extreme view that some take but one that isn't practical for the rest of us. I think hot dogs and hamburgers are great.However, I'd prefer to know that the animals in question are not harboring some unknown disease because of the tragic conditions they lived-and were ultimately killed- in. And I really hope that no one actually believes that HFCS is the same as sugar. If it is, then why is it that I can make soup, breadcrumbs and salsa at home without using either? If this bothers you as much as it bothers me, do something about it! Start eating more locally, organically, naturally or some combination of the above. Moreover, be conscience of the food you are eating and giving to your family. This 4th of July, declare your true food independence.

First Blog: Welcome and Dinner Party

So, I guess this is my first blog post! I promise to try to keep the self-indulgent blathering to a minimum and instead focus on interesting recipes I’m trying, as well as commenting on articles from other publications (newspapers, blogs, etc.) on the food industry and sustainable food movement. A couple of things I hope to incorporate weekly are 1) an in season recipe (look for a garlic scape recipe coming soon!) and 2) another blog I consider interesting and check in on consistently.
For those you have stumbled upon this blog, I suppose I should tell you a little about myself. My name is Jessica and I am origianlly from middle Tennessee. I’ve lived in Boston for almost two years, where I met my wonderful boyfriend Rob. We live not too far from where he grew up, in Dorchester. I love food and love that Boston has introduced me to the ideas of sustainability and local eating, as well as the issues we are facing with Big Food. Hopefully, this can be my little part of combatting it.
So, on to the first recipe! This past Sunday, Rob and I hosted 12 of our friends for a dinner party. One of our guests, Erin, started a supper club a few months ago, and it was our turn to host. It was fun (and a little stressful) to make so much food and one of my favorite items was the roasted vegetables with a lemon-basil mustard vinaigrette. Very light and summer-y, and tons of leftovers! (look for those recipes soon)

Roasted Summer Vegetables with Lemon-Basil Mustard Vinaigrette
Summer Squash
Bell peppers (I choose orange for a great color contrast, but you could use any color)

1 tsp. mustard (I used Coleman’s for a bit of heat, but any good mustard will do)
juice of half a lemon
2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
5-6 Tbsp. olive oil*
handful of basil leaves, chopped

Wash the vegetables and slice to even thickness. Toss with a little olive oil and roast at 400° until tender. Meanwhile, whisk mustard, lemon juice and vinegar to combine. Then, still whisking, slowly pour in oil. Whisk vigorously to combine then season and add basil. Pour over vegetables and garnish with lemon wedges and basil leaves.
* For the olive oil, I used half regular olive oil and half citrus infused olive oil. I had some Blood Orange olive oil from O Olive Oil on hand and it added a nice citrus-y tang, but is by no means necessary! Use whatever you have.