Friday, June 29, 2007

Pimientos de Padrón And Smoked Goat Sausage...

Happy Quail Farms fried Pimientos de Padrón

Achadinha Summer Goat Sausage and Cypress Grove Lamb Chopper Cheese

I waited a bit too long to begin this post about the Happy Quail Farms fried pimientos de padrón, as I just now saw that Sam (whom I was delighted to meet for the first time last weekend) and I made the same recipe but she got it on her blog before me. So I'll spin this post a bit differently.

The fact that Sam and I bought our pimientos from the same guy, on the same day, at the same farmers market, it stands to reason that we would both cook them up the same way. Great photos, Sam!

If you happen to find yourself at the SF Ferry Plaza Farmers Market of a Saturday morning and the folks at Happy Quail Farms have their little green mesh bags full of these beauties on display, do buy a bag or two, or three (I wish I had bought a bushel) and follow the recipe on the label or on their web site. I promise that you'll be very happy you did.

Also to be found at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market is the Achadinha Goat Cheese Company. A new favorite find of mine, the delightful Donna Pacheco and her husband Jim make rustically beautiful, delicious goat cheeses. But the reason I sought them out this time was for their Summer Smoked Goat Sausage. Be still my heart - this stuff is incredible!

I paired it with our local Cypress Grove Lamb Chopper sheep milk cheese. Combine these with the fried Pimientos de Padrón and you've got a match made in heaven.
PS - To my RSS readers, during the process of writing this post, I accidentally hit the publish post button waaaay before it was ready for reading. Please accept my apologies.

Copyright © 2005-2007, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Heart Smart Summer Squashes: Two Ways

With organic produce sparkling fresh from the farmers market, the more simply prepared the better is my approach. Let those sun-drenched flavors shine.

I've dished these up for Joanna and Ilva's HOTM4, a blog event devoted to heart-healthy recipes. Vegetables are the star of this month's event which will be posted on The Heart of the Matter after June 22nd.

I love vegetables. I love them roasted, grilled, sauteed, steamed and raw. The only way I don't like them is boiled. Both of these dishes were sauteed in heart-healthy extra virgin olive oil. No butter, no cheese. Blah, you say? No way! Fresh oregano and marjoram from my garden, some cloves of the coveted, local Claudia's garlic , and you've got a tasty and delicious feast fit for even the most finicky of dinner guests. All that, and your heart will go pitter-patter, in a good way.

Zucchini and Sunburst Squash Sauteed with Garlic and Herbs
Christine's original recipe
6 or so summer squashes (depending on size), mixed varieties such as zucchini, sunburst or pattypan, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 cloves fresh, organic garlic, minced
2 heaping tablespoons minced fresh oregano and marjoram
kosher salt and freshly ground peppercorn medley to taste
extra virgin olive oil for the pan
Heat 2-3 teaspoons olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat.
Add the cut up squashes and saute until beginning to soften.
Add the minced garlic, stirring so they don't stick to the bottom of the pan, and cook until the squash is just soft to the bite.
Add the fresh minced herbs and give a quick stir, allowing them to heat briefly, about 45 seconds.
Remove from the heat and season with the kosher salt and generous grindings of peppercorn medley. Serve immediately.

MMMMM. More veggies. Here I've used the last of the summer squashes from my trip to the farmers market last Saturday along with more of Claudia's garlic, which I simply cannot get enough of. Crisp white corn, red bells and protein-rich edamame from our local Co-op all helped to make this a heart- healthy and very satisfying platter of goodness.

A Medley of Squash, Red Bell Peppers, Corn, Edamame, Garlic and Herbs
Christine's original recipe
1/2 to 1/3 cup chopped sweet onion
3 large cloves very fresh garlic, minced
3 ears fresh white corn, shucked and cut from the cob
6 small summer squash, such as sunburst, round zucchini, and pattypan
1 cup fresh or frozen edamame (green soy beans)
1 large red bell pepper, stem and veins removed, cut into 1-inch dice
2 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
kosher salt
freshly ground black peppercorns
extra virgin olive oil for the pan
Begin with the onions in a heavy skillet laced with about 2 teaspoons of olive oil and set over medium-low heat. Let the onions soften without burning, 4- 6 minutes.
Add the red bell pepper and give a stir. Saute about 2 minutes or until softened.
Add the edamame and stir to blend.
Add the minced garlic and a bit more olive oil if needed to keep things from sticking to the pan.
Cook gently until the edamame has softened. You can cover the pan if you wish and you can add a splash of white wine also, but not too much. (I didn't add the wine although I think it would be just fine to do so.)
Add the squash, stir and cook for about 2 minutes.
Add the corn kernels and the oregano and stir to heat through.
When it all looks done to your liking, remove from the heat and season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
I'm looking forward to Joanna and Ilva's next Heart of the Matter challenge for July. Take a peek at the recipes that have been submitted to date.

Copyright © 2005-2007, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Bounty From The Farmers Market

The Arcata Farmers Market is in full swing this month, bringing beautiful, organic produce from farms and farmers all over the north coast.

Ever had a tayberry? Fresh from yesterday's market, these are a luscious cross between a blackberry and a raspberry.

Since I don't seem to have much luck growing them in my foggy garden, I rely on inland truck farmers to keep me supplied with all kinds of summer squashes.

Ahhh, Claudia's garlic! These are a variety called China Rose and it doesn't get much better than this.

Claudia also grows and packages herb blends such as the one I posted here, as well as lots of other produce on her Orleans ranch.

I know that fava beans made their rounds on many food blogs earlier this spring but we live in northern climes and the favas are just coming in from the truck gardens these days. I really have got to plant some this fall. They make a great cover crop as well as being plain delicious.

That's it for now. I've got enough veggies to keep me busy cooking for a few days. Posts coming.

The cute little icon at the top of the page is from Alanna of A Veggie Venture. Click here if you are a farmers market shopper and would like to use it.

Copyright © 2005-2007, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Grilled Lamb Burgers With Black Olive Sauce

Mmmmm. Lamb. Even though I've been cutting back on my consumption of red meat, this lamb is worth the occasional lapse.

Our lamb comes from our neighbors across the fence. Gently raised, grass fed, this is organic lamb like you've never tasted. The word succulent barely begins to describe. I had a bottled sauce that I'd been dying to try so I decided to gussy-up the ground meat in a Middle Eastern-type fashion, which covers a large area, including my culinary imagination.

Fresh, tender oregano from the garden, a few chopped sweet onions and Narsai's Assyrian Pomegranate Sauce, which gave it just the right amount of moisture and spiciness, brought this already excellent lamb to its pinnacle. The topping is a combination of mayonnaise, or Vegenaise, black olive paste and lemon juice. So simple and so satisfying.

And so perfect for Weekend Herb Blogging. WHB, the blogosphere's longest-running food event, owes its existence to my blogger buddy Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen. Being hosted this week by Ulrike of Kuchenlatien, by Monday morning you will be able to read herb-y posts and get delicious recipes from food bloggers around the world. Click here for more information about WHB and how to join in the fun.

Mr. CC did the grilling and added the "fixin's" to his plate (that's our beloved local Brio Whole Wheat Walnut Bread), while I ate my burger with my fingers, breaking off one piece at a time and dipping it in the sauce before popping it into my happy mouth.

Grilled Lamb Burgers with Black Olive Sauce
Christine's original recipe
For the burgers:
2 pounds ground lamb
1/3 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
1/2 cup
Assyrian Pomegranate Marinade
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
several grinds good black peppercorns
For the mayonnaise:
2 tablespoons mayonnaise or Vegenaise
1 tablespoon black olive paste or tapenade
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Using your clean hands, mix the onions, oregano, pomegranate sauce, salt and pepper into the ground lamb until fully incorporated.

Shape into 1/4-pound patties and place on parchment paper.
Grilling instructions are for a gas grill. If you have a charcoal grill you'll have to get directions elsewhere.
Heat your grill to 400-degrees. On placing the patties on the grill, allow them to sear for about 2 minutes then turn the grill down to 375 and cook for 5 more minutes. Flip the burgers over and finish cooking for about 10 minutes more or until they reach an internal temperature of 145 for medium rare.

To make the sauce, simply combine the ingredients well, adjust to your taste and serve. You can see a dollop of it in the "fixin's" plate photo above. It really wasn't photogenic enough to show on its own.
Have a great WHB weekend!

Copyright © 2005-2007, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Oatmeal And Eggs For Brunch

There are folks who love me despite my predilection for culinary weirdness. Those are the dishes you will seldom see on this blog. And then again, sometimes they're just too weird to not show you.

Take today's brunch: Every morning Mr CC leaves oatmeal in the pot for me to have for breakfast. And like a good girl I almost always eat it, breakfast being "the most important meal of the day..." blah, blah, blah, and oatmeal (in our case, steel-cut oats) being so very good for you, blah, blah, blah. All very true and, sometimes, all very boring.

On days when I don't have to get up early and run off to work, the oatmeal will often sit in the pan until mid-morning, me not being a breakfast eater at heart. So as I walked into the kitchen sporting a few hunger pangs an hour ago, there sat the oatmeal, in the pan, with the requisite chunks of apple. And me craving eggs.

Now you can see where this is going, right?

Place your significant other's lunch taco skillet over medium low heat and toss in a teaspoon of butter or Earth Balance (which is what I use almost exclusively).
When the butter starts to sizzle, plop in the cooked oats and spread them around in a circle about 6-inches in diameter and make a hole in the center that will hold 2 eggs.

Break your eggs into the center, sprinkle the whole thing with freshly ground black pepper and some luscious coarse sea salt such as Sel de Guerande, place a lid over the pan and gently cook until the eggs reach your desired consistency of doneness.

Top with a dollop of your favorite salsa, I used Amy's Organic Black Bean & Corn.

Weirdness factor: high. Delicious and satisfying factor: Very high.

The apples? I ate them while the eggs were cooking.

I think this pretty much covers all the food groups with the exception of dairy. Drink a glass of milk.

Copyright © 2005-2007, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Friday, June 1, 2007

Marrow Beans In Garlic, Olive Oil, Lemon And Oregano

Another bean post. This time 'round I've cooked up the Marrow beans that I recently bought from Rancho Gordo's in Napa, California. In my last post about his beans, I forgot to tell you that Steve Sando, and his beans, may be found, fondled (yes!) and purchased Saturday mornings at the San Francisco Ferry Building farmers market.

And just in case Steve reads this and thinks I'm vying to be chosen to test recipes from his up coming book, Heirloom Beans: Recipes from Rancho Gordo, yes, I am. I didn't start out to, honest, but once I started posting about his beans, the idea did occur to me. I may as well be honest about it, right?

Lusciously creamy with a light taste that can take on the flavors of what it's paired with, in this case, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, garlic and fresh oregano, this bean will keep its shape after cooking yet can be mashed into a light and fluffy spread for crackers or artisan bread.

I cooked the beans without bay leaves this time; just clean, fresh water after a 6-hour soaking. After they were cooked for about 45 minutes, I drained them (saving the cooking liquid) and allowed them to come to room temperature.

For this dish, I heated extra-virgin olive oil in a skillet then added a fresh bay leaf that had been torn in half and allowed to permeate the hot olive oil for about 5 minutes. After fishing the bay leaf parts out, I gently sauteed minced garlic in the olive oil. Fresh lemon juice, a bit of salt, freshly chopped oregano and some of the cooking liquid rounded out the ingredients. The beans were then tossed with this mixture and I've got to say, the combination was delightful.

Marrow Beans in Garlic, Olive Oil, Lemon and Oregano
Christine's original recipe
2 1/2 cups Rancho Gordo dry Marrow beans soaked and then cooked in fresh, cold water
For each 1 1/2 cups of cooked beans:
1 fresh bay leaf, torn in half
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4-5 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon (or more to taste) fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, finely chopped
1-2 tablespoons bean cooking liquid
kosher salt to taste
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium low heat. Add the torn bay leaf and allow to cook for 5 minutes. Keep the heat low so the oil does not smoke.
Remove the bay leaf pieces from the skillet and add the minced garlic, cooking until just fragrant and slightly golden, about 2 minutes.
Off the heat, pour the skillet contents over about 1 1/2 cups of the cooked beans, tossing gently. Add the lemon and the bean cooking liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time until the consistency you desire.
Gently stir in the chopped oregano and season with the kosher salt.
Serve warm or at room temperature along side your main dinner dish, or with crackers as an appetizer.

Dare I enter two bean posts, back to back, to Weekend Herb Blogging? Since I'm going to be gone this weekend, and this will be my only post until next week, yes is the answer. Back with our fearless originator this week, the wonderful Kalyn will post her round-up on Sunday. Be sure to check it out! Want to join in the fun? Click here to see how it's done.

Copyright © 2005-2007, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved