Friday, August 30, 2013

Simply Braised Greens

Plate of Greens over Rice with Slices of Turkey
Braised Greens with Rice and Turkey

Recipe by Robin

As readers who follow my Recipe Links by Month posts know, I’ve been trying to come up with a recipe for simple braised greens all summer. Flavoring the greens without overpowering them, while keeping the recipe simple, has been my goal. The secret, I knew, was a zippy braising liquid with a balanced combination of sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and salty flavors. I’d been off on unsatisfying broth-and-lemon and ginger-and-raspberry-vinegar tangents for some time. Then sweet red peppers began ripening at the same time that our CSA provided a bunch of green onions—plus loads of assorted greens. The sweetness of the peppers contrasting with the bitter pungency of green onions is key to this dish—along with a significant amount of garlic.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Plum Cobber AKA Plum Crisp

Plum Crisp with Scoop of Ice Cream
Late Season Black Plum Crisp

Recipe by Mary

Two things that many Americans remember from their childhoods are family friends and fruit cobblers. Our parents’ friends become our own friends as we share experiences that become treasured memories of our childhood. We might not see these friends frequently as we age, but they are forever in our hearts. When we do talk, it seems as if no time has passed. Like old friends who are always there for us, so are fruit cobblers: easy to be with, reassuring, and nostalgic. Old friends and cobblers remind us of our youth, of summers gone by. And a cobbler made by an old friend gives us a double dose of comfort.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Greek Salad

Individual Plate of Greek Salad
Greek Classic

Recipe from The Art of Simple Food

As a savvy Facebook follower pointed out, my last recipe for Spanish Basque tossed salad is quite like Greek salad. Unlike Basque salads, whose ingredients vary quite a bit, Greek salads typically contain the same ingredients: tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, black olives, and feta cheese, topped with a light vinaigrette dressing. Classic recipes call for classic sources, like The Art of Simple Food by longtime culinary wizard and seasonal chef Alice Waters, of Chez Panisse (AKA Alice’s Restaurant).

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Basque Tossed Salad

Large Platter of Basque Salad
Basque Salad: Beautiful and Delicious

Recipe adapted from Cuba Cocina!

This recipe comes from a 1994 Cuban inspired cookbook written by Joyce LaFray, an American who lived for many years in Miami, then traveled to Cuba to gather recipes. According to the cookbook, this recipe was brought to Cuba by Spanish-Basque ancestors. A quick web search shows that, unlike Greek salad, “Basque salad” has no standard ingredients, likely due to the complexity and diversity of Basque culture. This Spanish Basque salad combines produce grown in the fertile Ebro Valley with traditional Spanish olives and capers. Lighter than many Basque salads, it makes a colorful and elegant presentation for luncheon or late night sustenance.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Carrot Soup with Cilantro (or Basil) Pesto

Carrot Soup with Dollop of Pesto and Scattered and Crossed Chives
Garnished with Cilantro Pesto and Chives

Recipe adapted from Sunset Magazine, April 2012

In these days of abundant and perishable tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and kale, summer carrots sometimes get sidelined from the menu. CSA subscribers might have the sudden realization, usually due to lack of refrigerator space, that they are storing 4 or more lbs. of carrots from several weeks of produce deliveries. Add to that the herb bunch blues—the challenge of using up the whole Farmers’ Market herb bunch, when most recipes call for significantly less. Enter SunsetMagazine’s unique recipe for Carrot Soup with Carrot Top Pesto, a quick substitution of available herbs for the unavailable carrot tops, a fast doubling of the recipe—and the carrot stash is reduced by half, deliciously.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Beet Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese and Pistachios

Arugula Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Pistachios
Arugula Beet Balancing Act

Recipe Adapted from Points Plus Cookbook

Arugula is a misunderstood vegetable, at least at my house. A favorite of farmers and home gardeners because it grows like crazy and reseeds itself, its taste is distinctively sharp if not downright harsh. Throughout the summer its taste gets stronger, until some otherwise easygoing family member might shout, “No more arugula in salads! It tastes like dirt.” While that statement might not be entirely accurate (at least from the dirt I’ve tasted), I can appreciate the sentiment. Arugula’s strong flavor and tough texture need to be balanced with other equally strong flavors and textures. Enter beets, goat cheese, orange and vinegar.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

August Veggies and Recipes

Honeybee on Mint Flowers
Welcome Visitor on Naturalized Mint

Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer

August is a time of plentiful harvests. Time spent watering, fertilizing, and weeding in the garden is paying off bigtime. Just keeping up with the harvest, especially if you’re growing zucchini, can be challenging. Here in the Santa Cruz mountains, the garden wants even more water, nourishment, and attention to continue producing during hot, dry days. And yet, August’s hot weather beckons us to relaxation, vacation, and breaks from our usual work routines. Some of us think of when we were youngsters, spending blissful unstructured summer days swimming, biking, and playing with friends, or reading a book under a tree.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Italian Vegetable Melange

Red dried tomatoes in skillet with Green kale
Dried Tomatoes From Last Year's Harvest

Recipe by Robin

In the Santa Cruz area we’re harvesting the first of our tomatoes. Sweet and hot peppers, on the other hand, have been coming in since last month, along with zucchini and large amounts of kale. Have I mentioned that my husband isn’t crazy about kale? During these days of few tomatoes and much kale, I put together some classic Italian veggies and herbs (including plenty of kale) along with canned tomatoes and last year’s dried tomatoes. In a couple of weeks we’ll have more tomatoes to dry, so it’s a good time to use up last year’s stash. As you know, not all such cooking experiments work out well, but hubby Bruce put his stamp of approval on this one. Mainly that there’s enough flavor going on to balance the strong flavor of the kale.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Plum Upside Down Cake

Piece of Cake on Plate with Whipped Cream
Plum Upside Down Cake: Top with Cream, or Not

Recipe by Bruce’s Mom

Collecting and preserving family recipes was one of my motivations in creating Seasonal Eating. Rarely are these recipes written down in step-by-step format. Often they are written as quick reminders to a cook who has made the recipe many times and doesn’t need details. And when this cook passes away, we inherit the notes, make the recipe, and it doesn’t taste quite the same. Yet with each experiment we fine-tune the process and sometimes the ingredients, until our results match our memories. My husband Bruce says that this cake is very close to his Mom’s Satsuma Plum Upside-down Cake, even with the substitution of yellow plums.