Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Smashed Chickpea, Basil and Radish Dip

This is delicious!! 
I always grow radishes every spring, but never know what to do with them other than eating them fresh.  Growing them always brings back fond memories of my childhood; serving radishes and green onions at the supper table was always a rite of spring. 
I know they are a healthful veggie, so I planted a second batch this year, determined to come up with a good way to use them.  I tried roasting them last year, but wasn't impressed....  This morning I tried this recipe for the first - yum, yum, yum!!  My intent was to pack it for my lunch; it quickly became my breakfast instead!  (Nothing like going to work first thing with garlic on your breath!)  I was expecting this recipe to simply be another variation on hummus, but the texture of the smashed chickpeas and crunchy radishes along with the flavor of garlic and  fresh basil and made this divinely different and colorful!

Source:  adapted from Martha Stewart Living magazine

2 cans (15 oz. each) unsalted chickpeas, drained and rinsed (reserve 1/3 c. liquid)
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 t. salt
3/4 t. pepper
1/2 c. fresh basil, coarsely chopped
8 radishes, chopped
1 small garlic glove, minced
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice

Lightly mash chickpeas, oil, salt and pepper in a bowl until creamy but still chunky.  (You may want to pulse briefly in a food processor instead of mashing by hand.)  Stir in basil, radishes, garlic, and lemon juice.  Stir in reserved chickpea liquid, 1 T. at a time until dip holds together.  Refrigerate for at least 30 min.  Serve with pita chips.
Can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cucumber, Avocado and Dill Soup

I wouldn't normally include this recipe since it calls for an avocado and I'm trying to stick to 100% local as much as possible, but this is so yummy and healthful that I had to make an exception.  My friend Rose made it for me this evening; I couldn't get over how good it was!

Source: Rose C.

1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and chunked
1 medium cucumber, chunked
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1/2 t. sea salt
4 T. fresh dill (or less)

Simply place all the above ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  (No need to peel the cucumber unless you purchased it at the grocery store and it has a waxy coating; if so be sure to peel it.)
Serve with sun-dried tomatoes.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Cilantro Pesto

I still have a bunch of cilantro in the refrigerator that I wanted to use up (it keeps great, by the way!), so I thought I'd try making some pesto with it this evening.  Blech!!!  I had several recipes, all different, so I tried tweaking it by using a second recipe.  Blech again!  Then, I started over with a new recipe that used half cilantro and half parsley.  Better, but I don't think I'm going to waste any more time (or olive oil!) trying to perfect the recipe, especially since I have a fabulous Parsley Pesto recipe that I discovered last fall.  To stay on the up and up, I'll wait to post it until I actually make a batch this year.  :)
But hey, if you have a Cilantro Pesto recipe that you like, please let me know!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Roast Chicken

Photo Credit: Melissa Binder

You may ask, "What's 'In Season' about chicken?"  Well, believe it or not, summer is the best time to eat fresh, pasture-raised chicken because the chickens are out and about the fields these days, eating grass and all kinds of tasty bugs.  We benefit from their diet!  (If you're interested in more details about the benefits of eating grass-fed meat, check out this link.)  I'm fortunate enough to have a farm just three miles away that sells this type of chicken.  I've arranged to purchase a fresh whole broiler chicken or two every three weeks as they "harvest" them, then plan to buy a few extra at the end of the season to stash in the freezer.  I have to admit, I did feel a bit like a chicken-killer - a freshly-dressed chicken straight from the farm looks and feels a bit too alive for me compared to buying them wrapped in plastic from a sterile grocery store that is nowhere in sight of their happy home .... (And I even grew up on a farm and have plenty of experience plucking chickens!)  I had never roasted a chicken before, but have been practicing and think I've gotten the method down now (except for the part about setting off the smoke alarm....).  I usually eat the legs/thighs right away, then freeze the breasts for another time; the breasts are so moist and tender prepared this way!  I've also been freezing the leftover carcasses for making a big pot of chicken stock at a later date.

Source: adapted from  The Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodgers

one small chicken, 2-3/4 to 3-1/2 pounds
4 tender sprigs of fresh thyme, marjoram, rosemary or sage, about 1/2" long
2-3 t. sea salt (3/4 t. per pound of chicken)
1 t. freshly ground black pepper

One to three days prior to cooking (at least two days for 3+ pounds chickens):
Rinse chicken and pat dry thoroughly.  Snip skin and shove an herb sprig under each breast and thigh.  Season chicken liberally all over with salt and pepper.  Twist and tuck the wing tips behind the shoulders.  Cover loosely and refrigerate. 

To roast chicken:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Preheat an oven-proof 10" skillet over medium heat.  Wipe chicken dry and set it breast side up in pan.  (It should sizzle).
Place in center of oven and watch for it to start browning within 20 min.  If it doesn't, raise the temperature progressively until it does.  The skin should blister, but if the chicken begins to char, or the fat is smoking, reduce the temperature by 25 degrees.  After about 30 min., turn bird over.  Roast for another 10-20 min., depending on size, then flip back over to re crisp the breast skin, another 5-10 min.  Total oven time will be 45 min. to an hour.
Remove chicken from oven.  Lift chicken from skillet and set on a plate; place in a warm spot to rest.  (The meat will become more tender and uniformly succulent as it cools.)
Cut chicken into pieces and serve!

Note:  Salting the bird at least 24 hours in advance is the secret - it improves flavor, keeps it moist, and makes it tender. 

Update - 8/20/10
Rosemary Roast Chicken
I roasted 4 chickens last night for my "August in Tuscany" dinner.  I followed the above directions, but instead of tucking an herb sprig under the skin, I simply put 1/4 c. chopped rosemary and 1 small onion, quartered inside the cavity of each chicken just before roasting - even easier and tastier!

Another update - 10/14/12
I typically eat the wings, legs and thighs, then remove the white breast meat from the carcass and chop and freeze it for later use in recipes calling for chopped, cooked chicken.  But more recently, I've been been shredding the breast meat, then pouring the clear drippings over it to keep it moist before freezing it.  The drippings give it great flavor, and I like the texture of the shredded chicken vs. chopped.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Trouchia is simply a Swiss chard frittata flavored with Parmesan cheese, a classic French egg dish.  It was featured on the Martha Stewart show today.  It sounded so simple and wonderful, I knew I had to try it.  And it was just that! 

For one serving, simply divide the ingredients by 4.

8 large eggs
8 c. thinly sliced Swiss chard leaves
1 1/3 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c. plus 2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 t. sea salt
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
freshly ground pepper


In a large bowl, whisk together eggs.  Add chard, cheese, 1/4 c. olive oil, salt and cayenne pepper; season with black pepper, and stir to combine.

Heat 2 T. olive oil in a 10" nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add egg mixture and reduce heat to low.  Cover and let cook until eggs are set, 10-12 min.  Holding the lid tightly to cover skillet, invert and turn trouchia onto lid.  Gently slide trouchia into pan and cook until bottom is golden, 2-3 min.

Cut into wedges and serve immediately.
Serves 4.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Double Broccoli Quinoa

This was downright yummy!  I love pesto and garlic, but never would have thought to use broccoli.  Due to the rabbit competition this year, my entire broccoli harvest for the season (including the stems!) yielded only 5 cups of broccoli - exactly what I needed for this recipe.  :)

Source:  CPRS


3 c. cooked quinoa*
5 c. raw broccoli, cut into small florets and stems

3 medium garlic cloves
2/3 c. sliced or slivered almonds, toasted
1/3 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 big pinches salt
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. heavy cream

Optional toppings:  slivered basil, red chili oil**, sliced avocado, crumbled feta or goat cheese


Cook the quinoa and set aside.

Steam broccoli just long enough to take the raw edge off.  Transfer to strainer and run under cold water.  Set aside.

To make the broccoli pesto, puree 2 c. cooked broccoli, garlic, 1/2 c. almonds, Parmesan cheese, salt and lemon juice in food processor.  Drizzle in the olive oil and cream and pulse until smooth.

Just before serving, toss quinoa and remaining broccoli with about one half of the broccoli pesto.  Taste and adjust, if needed, with more pesto, salt or lemon juice.  Place on serving platter and top with remaining almonds, a drizzle of red chili oil, and additional optional toppings.

Serves 4-6

*  To cook quinoa:  rinse 1 c. quinoa in a fine-meshed strainer (if quinoa is not pre-rinsed).  In medium saucepan, heat quinoa, 2 c. water (or broth if you like), and a few big pinches of salt until boiling.  Reduce heat and simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa fluffs up, about 15 min.  Quinoa is done when you can see the curlicue in each grain, and it is tender with a bit of pop to each bite.  Drain any extra water and set aside.

**  To make the red chili oil:  heat 1/2 c. olive oil in small saucepan for several minutes.  Turn off heat and stir in 1 1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes.  Set aside and let cool, then store in refrigerator.  Bring to room temperature before using.

Creamed Spinach

source:  Better Homes & Gardens, November 2009

I'd like to tweak the seasonings a bit in this recipe, but for now, it was a great way to use up an abundance of fresh spinach; my spinach was soon ready to bolt, so I harvested all of it - way more than I can eat raw!  And, if you use raw cream from grass-fed cows, you'll get those nutrient benefits (minus the guilt!) as well.

20 oz. fresh spinach (large stems removed) or two 10-oz. pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1/2 c. chopped onion
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. butter
1 c. whipping cream
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. ground nutmeg

In large saucepan of rapidly boiling salted water, cook fresh spinach 1 min.  Drain, squeeze out excess liquid.  Pat dry with paper towels (I didn't bother - didn't want to waste the towels).  Coarsely snip spinach with kitchen shears; set aside.  For frozen spinach, drain well and squeeze out liquid.

In large skillet, cook onion and garlic in hot butter 5 min.  Stir in cream, pepper, salt and nutmeg.  Bring to boiling. Cook, uncovered, until cream begins to thicken.  Add spinach.  Simmer, uncovered, 2 min. or until thickened.  Season to taste with salt & pepper.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Baked Kale Chips

Source:  adapted from

OK, these may be a stretch for you, but it's worth a try!  It's a great low-calorie, nutritious snack and soothes the craving for something salty and crunchy.  I used sea salt, but am going to experiment with some other seasonings.  Let me know if you come up with a seasoning you like!

1 bunch kale
1 T. olive oil
1 t. seasoned salt or sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 non-insulated cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Carefully remove leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite-size pieces.  Wash and thoroughly dry with a salad spinner.  (Important - if there is moisture on the leaves, the kale will steam instead of crisping.)   Place in a large bowl.  Drizzle kale with olive oil and toss with hands until thoroughly coated.  Place in a single layer on cookie sheets.
Bake until the edges are brown but not burned, about 10-15 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt.

Update - since I posted this recipe, I tried another batch in my dehydrator.  I had dehydrated some kale last year and remembered it tasting better than the baked version.  My memory was correct - the kale is much better dehydrated - it looses the bitter taste and just tastes better all around.  I realize few people have the luxury of a dehydrator, but if you do, simply dehydrate at 110 degrees until crisp, then sprinkle with seasonings.
 My kale continues to produce, so I plan to keep dehydrating it so I have a supply of kale chips on hand for later use.