Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Je [mange] au foot.


Last Saturday, I attended the 2009 Adidas Fanatic tournament, or "Adicup" in a park on the west side of Manhattan. I was there to cheer on competing CSC members (no matter their various alliances f0r the day), but was myself "fanatic" especially for the official CSC team in their smart yellow jerseys.

I was also there to eat.

I do like soccer. I promise I do. But I'll admit that a major draw to this event is the promise of free food. And free drinks. And free ice cream. Especially free ice cream.

Here's a brief photo-review:


Woo! Soccer!


Woo! Free Drinks!

Two things to mention here -- it was quite hot last Saturday, but I swear it was a good 20 degrees hotter on that green astroturf (or whatever) field. Thank goodness for rehydration options. Secondly, I refused to drink any of the "0 Calorie" beverages. To me, zero calories means weird fake sugar flavor. The Sobe Lifewater wasn't bad. Pomegranate Cherry was much better than Blackberry Grape, which tasted kind of cough-syruppy.

At the field

Awesome! Soccer! Yeah!

Grill faster!

Awesome! The grills are up! Finally!

For an event that started at noon, which I consider to be lunchtime, the people running the show waited a good long time to put out the eats. I lingered near the tables when I finally started seeing smoke from the grills, and ended up pretty near the head of the line. Just out of my reach? Hot dogs (beef or vegetarian), veggie burgers, hamburgers, BBQ chicken, corn on the cob, coleslaw, potato salad, and various "fixin's," as they say.

The people ruining it for everyone.

Wait a minute! What's going on here?!

Although we were only 25 people or so back from the start of the line, it took maybe 40 minutes to make it to the table of food. Why is that? Well, apparently, there were not enough fully cooked hamburgers to go around. The men working the grill were busy rectifying this issue, but in the meantime there were plenty of other things to eat.

The problem that halted the line when it had barely begun moving was when people at the start of the line who *really* wanted burgers refused to accept alternate protein sources. They blocked the line in a snarl of greed and effectively kept it from advancing. Like a huge hairball in a pipe, they twined around each other, many of them waiting while eating from loaded plates (loaded with everything but their precious burgers) in front of everyone still hungry behind them in line.

The polite thing for burger-desperate free-food gobblers to do would have been to take what was ready and available (and free) and eat it, getting back in line for a burger if they were so determined to consume ground beef. Or at the very least to have made a second, single-file line of burger-holdouts that the rest of us could navigate around/through. But not these patrons. Stubbornly waiting for more burgers to be made, they clotted around the buns and condiments, holding up the works. As a rule, any one of them would move slightly to the side only grudgingly and in tiny increments of distance when challenged for access to the table by people directly behind them in line. This was infuriating to those of us just out of reach of food who could not move forward while they stood there trying to look innocent.

I admit to yelling, "Move it! You have food!" in that direction (okay. several times). But these Meat-Greedy Guses just hovered blankly, jamming up the works, refusing to make eye contact, and trying not to look guilty. Maddening. You can bet I whipped around them haughtily with my burger-less plate and elbowed in to get my mustard packets when we finally did manage to get to the buffet. Ruiners.

Empire field 2

Ahhhh! Soccer! Now I feel better!

I Scream for Free Ice Cream

Ahhhh! Ice Cream! Now I feel best!

At some point, late in the afternoon, the free ice cream wagon came out. I grabbed an ice cream sandwich and a lemon ice for myself (and shared both with Dan). They were just what I needed. By this point, I was as sweaty as if I had played 5 games of soccer myself. Or run from the countryside into Rome carrying a dish of Italian ice (as pictured below) while wearing a heavy-looking helmet of some sort.

Roman Ice

At any rate, the ice cream treats cooled both my literal and figurative hot-head hotness. The evening ended in cooling breezes, dimming sunlight, final games, a spirit of everybody's-a-winner, and happy weariness.

Football! Ice cream! Rah! Rah! Rah!

Just doing my job, Ma'am.

from Carol

I did nothing that deserved chocolate, but I ate the chocolate.

Thanks, Carol.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Who's that girl eating bacon while weeping?

Korean breakfast sandwich

I don't want to admit it, but I guess I officially eat pork again. I've been in denial. I don't eat pork. I just taste it. And only in little pieces, mostly cured or dried. But for about a year now I've just been tasting a little prosciutto here, a little bacon there...and then a little more sopressata here, a little more salami there... *sigh*

In many ways, I really wish I could be a vegetarian, guys. I do. There are so many things wrong with the meat industry, so many cruelties practiced on animals. But then, on the other hand, I just wish I could merrily eat meat without guilt. Alas. I have not the willpower for either choice.

I am not (obviously) and have not ever been a vegetarian. Never made it. I stopped eating beef and pork in high school after reading The More with Less Cookbook, which describes how inefficiently our world consumes its grains through animals, as well as how much more easily we could feed the poor if we all ate less meat and tougher cuts of meat. I decided to eat as much "less meat" as I personally could, but I couldn't manage to cut out poultry or seafood ( I love dairy so much that veganism was clearly out of the everlovin' question).

I do try to eat meat in a manner as ethical and sustainable as I can afford, but I know that's cold comfort to the passionate vegans and vegetarians out there.

Anyway, clearly I would be dealing with some issues when Paul brought me a ham-inclusive Korean breakfast sandwich one afternoon last week. He said, "Would you eat some pork?" And in truth, I would. And I do. Plus, I love trying new things -- especially if they're from cultures other than my own. That's part of the reason I started eating pork again (still working up to beef). I would like to be a respectful world traveler, able to eat with the natives without too much fuss.

Back to the breakfast sandwich. I'm glad I didn't miss out on it. The moderately-sized beauty had a nice, light, chewy bun or roll surrounding a kind of ham salad with ham, mayo, peas, cheese, and perhaps some onion. I couldn't identify all of the ingredients. It was tasty. And seasoned perfectly -- no extra salt or pepper needed. The mayonnaise was tangy and a little sweet. It beat the pants off of "egg on a roll," a classic NYC breakfast I still don't understand (or want).

Mashed potato doughnut

Later, Paul brought by half of a mashed potato doughnut from the same bakery (info below). It had peas and carrots mixed into the potato and was better seasoned than any knish I have ever tasted. Paul called it a "New World Samosa." There was just a bit of sugary doughnut sweetness in my last bite. I liked this one a lot, too. Even better, no meat = no liberal guilt to end my tasting. Sweet.

Now that I know where these came from, I hope more Korean breakfasts are in my future -- even if my choice of pastries involves the guilt-inducing specter of ham. But I do want to note that, while I won't hyperventilate if the sandwiches have a little meat in them, I'm going right back to my, "as little meat, as responsibly chosen as possible" diet in my day-to-day life. I may have issues, but at least I'm aware of them, right? Right?

from Koryodang Bakery
31 West 32nd Street
between Broadway and 5th Avenue.
p.s. Paul says they have delicious green tea cake here, too!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Monkey See (brownies made into waffles), Monkey Do (make brownies into waffles).

Brownie Waffles topped with sour cherries

I am so suggestible.

It only took one blog post about making brownies in a waffle iron to convince me to do it myself.

This video was posted on Serious Eats at 11am. I unplugged my waffle iron at 9:55 pm and settled down with my last brownie. That's not a bad turnaround time.

The changes I made to the recipe?
  • I used instant espresso powder instead of instant coffee powder or brewed coffee.
  • I stirred the espresso powder into the melted chocolate and butter instead of into the wet ingredients that were mixed together in the recipe's second step.
  • I sprayed my waffle iron with cooking spray before each round of waffles. The video does not specify whether to do this once or before every batch.
  • I topped my brownies with leftover CSA sour cherries and powdered sugar.
  • I only had 5.7 oz of chocolate, and I think it was semi-sweet or milk chocolate (the label was gone), rather than bittersweet chocolate.

My ingredients (in case the video goes haywire):

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
5.7 oz (should have been 6) of whatever chocolate is wrapped in foil in the freezer (should have been bittersweet)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 T. water
1/2 tsp. instant espresso powder
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt

My waffle iron does not have power levels. It took about 5 minutes to cook two medium-sized waffles at a time.

Take Two.

yogurt plus

I've described the failure I had when I went down the healthy-rice-krispies-treat route. I got tricked by a recipe and ended up with frozen beauties which did not travel well (even a few steps from the freezer).

On a hunch, however, I bought some full-fat Greek yogurt on my way to work one morning, dropped two of the marshmallow-free cripsies inside, and ate it all up for breakfast.

The Greek yogurt, crispy brown rice cereal, sesame seeds, honey, and dried fruit blended together in a charming way. I'm so glad these healthy "cupcakes" are not going to go to waste.

Petit and Blanc

petit blanc

Have you had Le Petit Écolier biscuits? They're sweet and cracker-y crisp on the bottom plus soft, sweet chocolate on top, together in one cookie.

Sometimes, as it happens, they're white chocolate on the top (and, yes, I know that technically white chocolate isn't chocolate). Proper!

(Thanks, Paul!)

Nutella Milk: stovetop edition.

Hot Nutella Milk

If you've been reading Snackreligious for a while, you know I've been on the search for a hot chocolate-like concoction I call Nutella Milk. I call it that because it should contain Nutella, the delicious hazelnut spread, and milk. They don't mix together well when the milk is cold, because the Nutella chills into clumps, and a neighborhood coffee shop had failed to make a satisfactory version with hazelnut syrup, so I've been back to the drawing board a few time.

Okay, so I can't pat myself on the back too much. Anyone could think of and do what I just tried. I simply guessed that the secret to a tasty Nutella milk that was fully blended would be in heating the milk and Nutella together. Anna came to this same conclusion in commenting on one of those earlier posts linked above. Heating them often makes two things come together, after all. So I tried doing just that.

Turns out I (and Anna, and everyone else who thought this might work) was right. Here's the trick (and it's so simplistic, it can't really be called a trick):
Big Mug Nutella Milk
1 1/4 c. milk
1 T. Nutella Hazelnut Spread (Naturally, you can use more or less Nutella to taste.)
Combine ingredients. Lick measuring tablespoon. Heat milk and Nutella mixture in a small pan on the stove over low heat. Stir or whisk occasionally. The Nutella should melt and be combined, though it might look a little grainy, after about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. For smoother texture, use immersion blender on low speed (and be careful not to splash yourself). Pour into a heat-proof mug.
See how easy that is?

I'm still working on how best to prepare this beverage by microwave. Do NOT put a mug of milk and Nutella in the microwave, set it to cook on high for 3 minutes, and then walk away. I learned this so that you don't have to.

Oh, and also -- I'm aware it's summer and you may not be drinking many hot beverages (though I have heard that hot tea is considered cooling in some cultures). So you want cold Nutella milk? Heat Nutella and milk using "my" stovetop method. Then chill your mug in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes. When it is cold, decant into a more appropriate glass, if that will make you feel cooler. Add ice, if you like that idea. Whatever you do, drink it!

Adventures in CSA: Week Six, Part II

It's time to wrap up week six of my Community Supported Agriculture experiment. We had a good week, wasting only a small amount of the dandelion greens and a portion of the baby greens. Read the first half (or two-thirds, really) of our kitchen adventure here.

This week, as you may remember, the farm provided shareholders:

1 Fennel
3 small Onion
2 large Beets
1 lb. Swiss Chard
3/4 lb. Carrots
1/2 lb Dandelion Greens (CHALLENGE VEGETABLE)
1/4 lb. Baby Greens
Bonus - 4 boxes Cherries
Bonus - 1 box Black Currant (CHALLENGE FRUIT!)
Bonus - 1 box White Currant (CHALLENGE FRUIT!)

and the dishes we've made since posting Part I have been:

Cherry Salad

7. Salad of Cherries and Greens. I used most of the baby salad greens (lost a few to refrigerator rot) with pepitas, parmesan, and some of the leftover cherries that had been cooked with dandelion greens earlier in the week (see dish #2). I'd had to throw out the leftover dandelion greens, as they were simply too bitter to eat after that first attempt, but I'd kept the sweet onion and cherries that had been cooked with it.

Cumin Beets

8. Bebert's Beets. I'm not sure who Bebert is. This recipe came to me through my CSA's email listserve, from Melinda. I adapted it just a bit, but it's basically hers.

Cook beets until done [I used the oven-baking method espoused by Mark Bittman in How to Cook Everything]. Chop and wilt the beet greens in a pan on top of the stove [Okay, I admit it. My beet greens were already wilted from being in the refrigerator for six days. I cooked them a bit anyway].

Make a vinaigrette while the beets are cooking: combine roughly three parts oil to one part vinegar (Melinda uses umeboshi, japanese plum vinegar), lemon juice, red onion sliced thin as possible, salt (optional depending on the vinegar you use), cayenne (M. sometimes use lemon pepper if she's out of cayenne), "and cumin to taste -- you'll use more than you think as it absorbs easily -- keep tasting til it's perfect.

The cumin is the secret of this beet dish. It quickly became one of my favorites to the point of getting cravings for it!

Slice beets, toss in greens and vinaigrette, and enjoy, everybody."
Thanks, Melinda! I agree. The cumin makes this something out-of-the-ordinary.

Cardoon Gratin

Cardoon, cream, and bacon

9. Cardoon Gratin. Cardoons are a challenge vegetable to end all challenges! I had never seen or even heard of these guys, and it seems I'm not alone. "Cardoon," when Google-searched, gives one a measly 204,000 results. That's not nothing, but to compare, "celery," a vegetable cardoon resembles (though it is actually related to the globe artichoke), has 8,290,000 results.

Florence Fabricant described it well six years ago in The New York Times,
"The cardoon is related to the artichoke and looks like celery you would not want to buy -- grayish, with a kind of matte finish. It tastes of celery and artichokes, with a hint of licorice. The stalks should be peeled and cooked before using in gratins, pasta sauces or grilled with a buttery glaze." (source)
Still cardoon-curious? Check out this article, found by Abigail, a fellow shareholder in my CSA.

Anyway, this recipe on the Saveur website for a cardoon gratin seemed promising and authentic to me (there were several ideas on the Food Network website that also looked interesting). I promptly made the thing less authentic in my own manner. For one thing, I did not have 3 lbs of cardoon, so I used cardoon and spring onions together. When I put it in the oven, I added chunks of turkey bacon. I also topped it with Emmentaler cheese, not Gruyere, as the Gruyere was literally twice as expensive.

Let's be honest, here. This turned out incredibly greasy, between the turkey bacon and the cheese. But it was delicious, once the grease was strained out. I think two things would have fixed this up nicely: a) more cardoon (if I'd had the full 3 lbs) or b) adding something like potato to soak up more of the juices. I'd make this again, and fiddle with the ingredients in this way.

Cardoon is a little woody and stringy (not unlike the celery to which it claims to be unrelated) even when cooked for over an hour. It will never be my favorite vegetable, but you can't go too wrong smothering it in cream and cheese.

Cherries and O-Shaped Cereal

10. Cherries and Toasted Oats. Sour cherries in the cereal? Sprinkled with sugar, natch. Outstanding, happy morning ahead!





11. Crepes Two Ways. This morning, Dan got the bright idea to make crepes with the cherries and white currants (liberally sprinkled with powdered sugar. After a few rounds, he decided to throw a little leftover carrot cake icing (cream cheese, orange juice, orange zest) into the mix.

Then, craving a savory crepe, I thought we should make a couple with the leftover cardoon and bacon gratin. Quite nice!

Savory crepe

The breakfast was backwards; we had the dessert first. But it was very satisfying -- and a nice way to end this week of vegetables and bonus fruit.


I'm so excited about what week seven has in store for me. I hear there is eggplant! And (finally) the hotly anticipated kohlrabi! I'm off to pick up the goods this afternoon. Keep checking this blog or its feed in your reader of choice. I'll be back soon with more Adventures in CSA.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!

New Reeses

Ding Ding Ding Ding Ding!

Junior Cousin

Junior caramels

I'm familiar with Junior Mints, but I'd never had or seen Junior Caramels before. They're reminiscent of Rollos, but drier. It's not right that the picture on the box made them look like the caramel in the middle would be gooey and melty. I ate these on an 80-something degree (F) day, but did not find the insides liquid at all.

Don't get it twisted. I liked them, and I ate the whole box (hardly sharing at all) but I don't think I'll ever crave them.

Color me Junior Mints, y'all! Now that's a box of somethin' else. I don't believe that Junior Mints should be reserved for the movies. They're for every day. A box in your bag is a good idea (as long as it's not too hot out). Like a York Peppermint Pattie, Junior Mints are refreshing. They're a candy that tastes like brushing your teeth (with chocolate).

Friday, July 24, 2009

Adventures in CSA: Week Six, Part I

Let's see. This week I didn't get a post-pickup photo of the whole batch, but you can trust me when I report our CSA vegetable treasure chest held the following riches:

1 Fennel
3 small Onion
2 large Beets
1 lb. Swiss Chard
3/4 lb. Carrots
1/2 lb Dandelion Greens (CHALLENGE VEGETABLE)
1/4 lb. Baby Greens
Bonus - 4 boxes Cherries
Bonus - 1 box Black Currant (CHALLENGE FRUIT!)
Bonus - 1 box White Currant (CHALLENGE FRUIT!)

Plus, still left over from market day, resting in the freezer: 1 whole chicken (cut in half).

I only purchased a vegetable share, but this week there was leftover fruit, which was offered to me. That's how I ended up with the cherries and currants. Overall, though it was a lot to contemplate cooking, I felt refreshed by the prior week of slightly less produce, invigorated by bonus fruit, and up to so many challenges. So, this week so far I've planned and made:

Chard tacos

Tacos by night.

1. Tacos with Garlicky Mexican Greens. Rick Bayless created this recipe. It looked perfect for the chard I received this week, but I didn't feel it would be rude to tweak it just a little.

First, I didn't like that the instructions told me to throw away the chard stems (or, at least, implied they were useless), boil the chard leaves, dry and cool them on a cookie sheet, and then chop the cool, dried leaves. That seemed like a waste of time, water, implements, and flavors. I chose instead to saute the chopped chard stems with the onion, adding another flavor and reducing my waste. Additionally, I simply washed and chopped the damp chard leaves, then wilted it in my pan with the onion, chard stems and garlic once those were cooked down to soft.

We enhanced the greens with with cheese, salsas, guacamole, sour cream, chopped tomato, cilantro and black refried beans. They were hearty and rich, the onion and chard stems subtly sweet. Some of the tortillas cracked, but it's no crime to eat with a fork.

Sweet, Bitter, Tart
(photo by Dan)

2. Bitter Greens (we chose dandelion) with Sour Cherries and Sweet Onions. Here's another Mollie Katzen idea. It's a variation on her recipe for bitter greens with sweet onions and tart cheese (which I made in week three).

I think this recipe would have tasted as gorgeous as it looked if the dandelion greens hadn't been quite so bitter. I would make this recipe again in a heartbeat with a milder green. As it was, they were so strong I ended up mostly eating around them to get at the cherries and onion.

Fennel and Currant salad
(Sorry for all the dim, nighttime pics. It's dinner, after all.)

3. Chuck's Fennel and Currants. After running across them purely by chance, I copied these instructions for a currant salad off of a friend's Facebook page:'s a fab recipe from Chuck using currants....bulb of fennel (chopped), 3 stalks celery (finely chopped), a few fronds of fennel (I know....Fronds of Fennel sounds like a character from Middle Earth...) + currants + juice of 1/2 lemon & olive oil to taste + kosher salt + black pepper + shaved parmesan on top (if desired). Looks divine, tastes fab & works the jaw to a fare-thee-well...for lemon juice...error on the side of too little rather than too much. Hope you like the salad!
Zowie! I wanted some of that action! We made this salad with black currants and lots of tasting. By the way, I did desire the parmesan on top. The flavors blended admirably. I think "divine" is a good adjective. Truly great. Thanks so much, John!

The end result was perfect, by my palate's specifications anyway, and kept well in the fridge for several days.

Homemade cherry lemonade by day

4. Sour Cherry Lemonade. This recipe happened to flash past on my RSS Reader on Monday. I promptly went home that night and made it. You can see another photo featuring this beverage above, with dish #1.

I used one lemon more than the cup of lemon juice called for, and my cherries were tart rather than sweet. The beverage was just what I was hoping it would be. An overnight chill-out in the fridge only improved the flavor (and turned it more red).

Chicken Fracas
(photo by Dan)

5. Roast Half Chicken (A). The chicken we bought from Norwich Farm came split in half, so we can easily eat chicken two different nights. Unfortunately, we failed at defrosting this first half (all day in the refrigerator), and the thing took forEVER to roast (while Matt waited patiently for food and our houseguests -- one vegetarian -- waited patiently to go to bed on an air mattress on the kitchen floor). Then, when the internal temp and outward appearance seemed perfect, there were still bloody sections inside. It was a maddening experience.

I still stand by Nigel Slater's roasting method (discussed here). Just make sure there's no ice in the middle of your chicken.

We ate the meat we could (with a thrilling garlic and mushroom broth gravy that kind of saved the day) and tossed the rest into the freezer for future stock-making.

I am determined to make the second half of this chicken a success, even if it means defrosting twice as long.

Dinner -- carrot soup and bitter greens with sour cherries and sweet onion.
(photo by Dan)

6. Curried Carrot Soup (seen here as served with dish #2). The carrots we received this week (woo! carrots at last!) were small and chunky. The idea of making them into a soup occurred to me, and since I have several curry powder blends in the cabinet I thought I'd try this recipe from the Chowhound website.

Notes: I used water reserved after cooking some mushrooms instead of vegetable broth. Since this meant my "broth" had no salt, a lot of salt and pepper needed to be added to the soup. Once it was seasoned, it transformed into something wonderful. I also had used maharaja curry powder, which is mild and smokey, rather than one of my hot and spicy curry powders.

This soup took under an hour to make, including all of the veg prep, even while babysitting (though I couldn't have done it alone. Dan and I switched off babysitting and cooking duties as we went along), so the flavor per effort ratio was high and satisfying.

Babysitting in the kitchen.
(photo by Dan)


We're more than halfway through week six and more than halfway through this week's share. See you soon with the rest of the story!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Snack for the Seedy.

Bee Bars

I needed breakfast that I could take on the train. I wanted a plain, old granola bar, but I found myself in some sort of "fancy" grocery store that was putting on airs. No plain, old granola bars to be found. Just weirdo, expensive "energy bars" and "health bars" and such.

The least offensive (taking into account packaging and ingredients) looked like the Bumble Bar "organic energy" bar. I am always suspicious of things that are both gluten free and vegan, and it wasn't cheap, but I bought two and hoped for the best.

The first was the original flavor "with mixed nuts." It was heavy on the seeds. In fact, it looked like pressed bird food. Not so nutty. Not so much flavor. But it didn't taste too bad. There were layers of seeds held together by a slightly sweet, slightly sticky food glue (honey?).

The second type was called "Awesome Apricot." What do you know?! More nutty bird seed. Though it had dried fruit and a more interesting texture (due to the fruit and to larger nut pieces), it didn't taste much like apricot. It, too, was a little sticky. Much water was needed to wash the thing down.

Clearly, more expensive energy bars are not the answer. Come back, good ol' granola! We miss you!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Right Where We Belong

Governors Island Ferry Terminal

Here we are, at the ferry terminal on our way to Governors Island last weekend.

Governors Island

Here we are, on the tree-lined sidewalks of this former military base.

Governors Island Badminton Tourney

Here we are, one of us participating in and one of us spectating at a big ol' badminton tournament.

Le Gamin Truck

Here we are, spotting a nearby purveyor of food, Le Gamin.

Waiting in line; Manimal

Here we are, standing in a long, slooooow line [shoes by Manimal].

Le Gamin

Here we are, edging closer to our snack...(eventually, this truck would completely sell out of food, so we were lucky).

Le Gamin snack

Here we are, finally, on what might be the cleanest grass in NYC, about to enjoy a Nutella crepe and (as it turns out, slightly oversalted) fries with mayo and ketchup.

"Here we go! Let's start the show!"

Cupcakes After Dark

Late Night Snack

Mike's snazzy birthday cocktail party was catered by a friend of his named Emily Anderson. I enjoyed everything of hers I tried -- "devils on horseback" (dates wrapped in bacon), ceviche on tortilla crisps, vegetarian pizza squares. I heard great things about her mini meatballs, too.

But the shining moment of the evening was when the cupcakes came out. Apparently, Emily has won cupcake contests with her creations. I believe it. The pineapple milkshake variety was divine, which is what Dan chose. I had Boston Cream -- also amazing, if not equally outstanding. Both were rich, tender, and flavorful -- yet not too sweet -- sexy, sexy little cakes with frosting to shove someone out of the way for.

Seriously, I think these were the best cupcakes I've ever had (homemade or commercial). I've certainly never made better myself. I would pay money for her recipe(s). Someone get Emily on the horn!


Adventures in CSA: Week 5, Part II


Greetings from NYC. The city has never been more beautiful to me than it is this summer (seen here from the East river, as I am returning from a beach in the Rockaways on a water taxi).

My personal skyline is green and leafy these days. I'm still eating veggies and greens non-stop over here in CSA-participation land. Let's review the goods from week 5:
  • 1 lb Swiss Chard
  • 1 Napa Cabbage
  • I head of Lettuce
  • 4 onions
  • 4 cucumbers
  • 4 squash (2 yellow, 2 green)
Some confusing things happened (chronicled here) in terms of vegetable reconciliation between the starts of weeks 3 and 5, but I'm back on track. Let's go! This week continued (note that this count includes the past two weeks' dishes) with:

Sesame-braised cabbage

8. Sesame-braised Cabbage and Spring Onions. This is the first (of sixteen) recipes I've tried from Mollie Katzen's The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without that has been only so-so. It really didn't have enough flavor for me. Toasted sesame seeds and sesame oil helped somewhat, but it was still bland. Granted, the original recipe called for leeks, rather than spring onions, but still. Another problem is how many servings (and, therefore, leftovers) using an entire head of cabbage creates. I hate wasting food, but I think I can only give space to these leftovers for a few more days.

Fried Cucumbers

9. Fried cucumbers with Lemon Pulp. I found this recipe in Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. I'd never cooked with cucumbers before, but Bittman said I should as long as I used a light hand (i.e. don't overcook or overseason them). It's true that lemon, salt, and pepper was all that was needed to season this dish.

  1. Peel (if waxed; I skipped this step), cut in half lengthwise, and seed (I didn't feel this was necessary either because the seeds in mine were very small) 1 lb cucumbers.
  2. Cut cucumber into 3/4" chunks. If very juicy, put in colander, salt, and let drain for 20 minutes (mine was dry; I skipped this step, too).
  3. Zest one lemon, cut it around its equator, and section it like a an orange. I did this wrong, but it still tasted great. Just save as much lemon flesh (but not rind) as you can in chunks).
  4. Heat a large pan with 3 T or so of butter. Pat the cucumber chunks dry (if you salted them) and toss them a few at a time in 2 cups or so of flour (I used whole wheat flour). Add them to the pan. Do this until all the chunks are in the pan. Add more butter if things look too dry and burny. Cook chunks in butter over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes, or until browned and crispy. Salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add the lemon zest and segments. Cook one more minute. Done!

I found the flavors light, bright, and reminiscent of asparagus.

Chard Pancakes

10. Cinnamon Spiced Swiss Chard Pancakes. I like chard in less-startling preparations, but I wanted to do something "different" this week. This recipe (from seemed to fit the bill.

In fact, I was a bit nervous about using cinnamon with chard. It just didn't seem quite right to me. Once more into the breach, dear friends! The only changes I made to the recipe were
  1. to substitute panko (which I had on hand) for matzo meal (which I didn't) and
  2. to halve the recipe (except for the egg, of which I used the full 4).
I dressed my scary pancakes with lemon juice and feta, and ate them alongside some greek olives. Sour cream was also on hand. I might have had a dollop.

Here's the thing: these were good. They were quite good, like a green potato pancake without the potato. But I remained just a little unsure of the cinnamon and allspice. I think that if I make these again I'll try paprika, cayenne, cumin, or another spice I associate with hearty flavors. I'm no Berber, and there's something in me that wants cinnamon to be paired with sweet, not savory.


Fake Rice Crispy treats

11. Crispy Rice Cupcakes. Sometimes recipes lie. This recipe (found in a cookbook called Petit Appetit) claimed it was a healthy alternative to Rice Krispy Treats. That wasn't the lie. The lie was in suggesting that these "cupcakes" (held together by CSA honey) of brown rice cereal, sesame seeds, oats, and dried fruit would stick together enough to be eaten by a child (or an adult, for that matter) without falling apart completely. I made these for Hero's first birthday, but they did not exactly travel from freezer to park without a hitch. Unless eaten directly out of the freezer, these crumble into their individual components immediately upon being removed from the cupcake papers. And even straight from the icebox, they were tacky with honey. Too hard to eat!

Still, the cereal, oats, and fruit are nice together, however flaky. I do believe I'll eat the leftovers in yogurt or with fruit, like granola.


That's it (except for the chicken I bought with the honey on our special "market day," which I plan to roast in the next few days) for this week! I'm off to pick up more vegetal bounty. Wish for me a good harvest. I wouldn't mind a week off from chard, actually.

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