Friday, June 27, 2008

Rosemary Simple Syrup

So, I happened upon this recipe for rosemary simple syrup on Apartment Therapy/The Kitchn. Can you say "OH, yum!"?

Some of you know that I have a serious love affair going on with rosemary (I bought upwards of six plant for my garden this summer). But, I'm having a bit of a time thinking about putting it in a drink.

Help me out here, guys. Rosemary syrup... a simple vodka martini with rosemary? What would you do with it?

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Chicken with a Rainbow

We're not a "meat and potatoes" household. But, sometimes we come close. Take for instance this lovely dinner of Herbs de Provence roasted chicken, accompanied by roasted radishes, purple kohlrabi, white turnips, and a bit of spring garlic.

So very pretty. So utterly delicious.

The roasted vegetables didn't last long at all. But, the chicken gave us plenty of leftovers for sandwiches this week.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

It's Easy Eating Greens

Not everything we eat would make the grade as far as health is concerned. But, we do LOVE our greens. And we're always happy when our CSA starts delivering these local delights right to our doorstep.

At our house, when we refer to "greens," we're not talking about lettuce (though many of the cooked greens we eat can also show up in a salad bowl when young and tender). More often, we're talking about cooking greens -- kale, collards, mature mustard greens, chard, brusselini... the list goes on).

We eat 1-2 pounds of greens at our house each week (sometimes more). We like to steam kale and add it to any number of dishes to boost nutritional content. We also like to saute greens and serve them as a side dish. We've gotten so used to the concept that we almost can't imagine an enchilada dinner that isn't served over the top of a healthy serving of sauteed kale and jalapeno peppers.

Basic Sauteed Garlicky Greens

Other recipes featuring greens:
Kickin' Greens & Garlic Pasta
Greek Pasta with Greens
Red Curry with Napa Cabbage & Carrots

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Le Papier Pour Fromage

There was much rejoicing in our house, for the Cheese Paper we ordered finally arrived!! And we had the time to take a look at it.

The packet includes 15 11"x14" sheets and 15 (adorable) adhesive labels on which you can specify the name, type, and origin of the cheese:

The cheese paper itself is double-layered -- and it is supposed to maintain a high humidity level at the surface of the cheese, while preventing water from accumulating. This should prevent the growth of surface molds.

For the first stage of our experimentation, we giddily wrapped up 1/2 lb of leftover monterey jack cheese in 1/2 sheet of the paper (yes, the paper can be cut into pieces -- which is very nice for wrapping smaller blocks). It's not exactly artisan cheese, but we'll see how it fares. We also read the instructions, which say: Take your stored cheese out of the fridge and inspect it regularly. Live a little and eat some every day! If you keep cheese for longer than one week, you must rewrap it with a new piece of cheese paper if the paper has become damp or soaked with oil.

We'll report back and tell you what we think.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Red Curry with Napa Cabbage & Carrots

Thai red curry. It's one of my favorite dishes. And not just because it's delicious. It's also extraordinarily versatile.

This week, we happened to get a head of lovely Napa cabbage with our CSA share, and I couldn't resist. We had everything we needed on hand (including fresh Thai basil from the herb garden), and I had a real hankering for some noodles slathered in spicy coconut love.

Look at how nicely those ingredients lined up for the photo!

Red Curry with Napa Cabbage & Carrots

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Monday, June 23, 2008

The Beauty of Leftovers: Corned Beef Boxties

Very little goes to waste at our house. So, when push comes to shove, there is always a wealth of great stuff in the freezer. And leftovers can prove to be the best sort of inspiration.

This weekend, we had a few slices of corned beef to play around with. So, we decided it was high time for a bit of peasant food -- boxties (stuffed potato pancakes). What's better than a delicious potato pancake stuffed to the hilt with all sorts of good stuff and topped with cheese sauce? I can't think of much!

Plus it's easy. According to sage folk advice, the boxty should be a pretty standard part of our repertoire: Boxty on the griddle, boxty on the pan; if you can't make boxty, you'll never get a man.


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Friday, June 20, 2008

Tempeh of Doom Fajitas

Sometimes we cheat.

We're exceedingly honest people here at BURP! But, we have to admit to you that we sometimes have Sandra Lee moments when we spurn our devotion to whole, unprocessed foods and let convenience invade our kitchen. And this was one of those moments.

It was another crazed night. We both worked quite late, and came home feeling positively ravenous. We had a package of tempeh in the fridge that was threatening us with its "use by" date... and a severe lack of inspiration. Fortunately, we also happened to have a few sweet peppers and a couple of onions lying around. Oh -- and the best part -- we also had a perfectly ripe avocado. So, you see where this is going?

Yeah -- we decided to make fajitas. Which isn't really so evil. Tempeh is a processed "food," but I wouldn't consider it to be innately evil. And obviously our vegetables (while not completely local) aren't a problem. So, what was it?

Well, it had something to do with the Lawry's fajita seasoning that we found in the cupboard. That delicious mess of "herbs and spices" and a few preservatives thrown in for good measure. Yes, THAT was what made this a convenience meal. And it's also what's going to prevent me from actually posting the recipe (I think you can figure that out all by yourself).

Now, I'm only going to HALF apologize, because--ultimately--the finished product was pretty good. So, we took a picture of it. We hope you'll forgive us.

Indian Jones has nothing on this fajita!

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Simplicity Rules: Kickin' Greens and Garlic Pasta

We have a few staples at our house. Two of them are garlic and greens. I'm always amazed at how many dishes I can create with (almost) only these two ingredients.

This week, we happened to have Swiss chard (locally grown from our co-op) and mustard greens (from our CSA) on hand. And last night was a particularly uninspired cooking night. Dinner time was approaching (OK, it was WELL BEYOND dinner time), and I was getting a bit frazzled.

So, I let simplicity take over. I brought a pot of whole wheat pasta to the boil. And I started to throw ingredients into a skillet -- a dash of olive oil, a few cloves of crushed chopped garlic, a pinch of red pepper flakes, a splash of white wine, and about a pound and a half of greens.

Less than twenty minutes and a few shavings of good parmesan cheese later, we were satiating ourselves with big bowls of pasta & greens.

Slowly, but surely, I am learning that it does not take a slew of ingredients to create a flavorful, fulfilling meal.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Things We Love: Zingerman's

Our love affair with Zingerman's started almost exactly five years ago when we received a package from them in the mail. A dear friend from Michigan sent us a housewarming gift of fabulous Zingerman's bread and cheese. And she started something huge.

Now, we LOVE bread and cheese. But, this was no ordinary example of either. The bread was the crustiest. And the cheese... ah, that cheese! I can't recall the name offhand (could it have been bamalou?), but taste memory is an indelible thing.

Zingerman's started as a deli in 1982, and it has become a custodian for fantastic foods from around the world. From cheese to olive oil to balsamic vinegar, it's the place to find any number of indulgences (which also make great foodie gifts).

We don't order from Zing's nearly often enough. But, I do enjoy perusing their list of "Great Unknowns," which includes fantastic things like the licorice chocolate bar and violet mustard.

Bet you can't resist a peek!

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Caribbean Style Beans & Rice

As the weather gets warmer outside, so does our cooking. This week, we treated ourselves to Jerk Chicken AND this fabulous beans and rice dish.

This recipe was new to us when we found it in the June issue of Food & Wine magazine. They pose it as a side dish, but we found that it makes a very nice vegetarian main dish with the addition of some additional beans. I pumped up the nutritional value by making it with brown/red rice. I gave the flavor a boost with a teaspoon of five-spice powder. We also stirred in a pound of sauteed chopped kale -- which added some lovely color and even more nutritional power to the dish.

Leftovers are excellent on their own. But, they also make a fantastic addition to a vegetarian burrito with avocado, pineapple salsa, and a bit of sour cream.

Caribbean Style Beans & Rice
(adapted from Jamaican Rice & Peas, Food & Wine June 2008)

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My Favorite Sortofa Jerk

One of the things I love about warmer weather is that it gives us every excuse to haul out the grill. It's also a great excuse to pump up the heat and try some genuinely SPICY fare.

This is one of my favorite summertime recipes. Served with a bit of spring asparagus and a side of Jamaican Beans & Rice, it goes down easily (even if it burns a bit). For those of you who like less heat, be sure to cut down on the habanero pepper. I don't advocate leaving it out altogether. This is Jamaican-style bbq, after all. But you can definitely seed the pepper for starters.

Our Favorite Jerk Chicken
adapted from FOOD & WINE magazine (not sure which issue)

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Cheese Storage: An Experiment

We LOVE cheese at our house. All sorts of cheese. From fresh to bleu to crumbly to stinky. And you shouldn't laugh. This is not a bad Wisconsin dairy joke.

I really love the feeling of buying a chunk of artisan cheese, and bringing it home in its pretty cheese paper. I swear it lasts longer that way, and I get a great deal of enjoyment from taking it out of the fridge, uncrinkling its packaging, and taking a nibble of something wonderful. For a long time, I figured that my obsession with the ritual of cheese buying and eating had more to do with my romanticism than anything. But, I am beginning to suspect it's based in a bit of fact.

A while back, I read about Formaticum cheese papers. Formaticum insists that cheese is a delicate food and when treated improperly, it will quickly deteriorate. Seems logical, no?

I do think that we tend to forget that cheese is a living organism. We wrap our chunks of delicious living cheese in plastic, and we place it in our refrigerators. Gradually, the cheese suffocates. We are often shocked when we come back to sad, crumbly, moldy pieces of cheese in the back of our cheese drawers. At best, it tastes a bit less like the lovely thing that it once was.

And so... I've decided to see if I can improve my own cheese storage practices. In addition to following the storage tips I found at Formaticum, I've ordered a packet of cheese papers today -- and so they should be arriving next week. I'll admit to feeling a bit giddy over the prospect of being able to wrap my lovely cheeses in Oregonian papers that promise to allow them the luxury of aging gracefully. I'll be sure to report back on my findings.

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Sunday, June 8, 2008

Farmer's Market: West Allis

Normally, we're trolling farmers' markets as soon as we possibly can -- which, even here in the north can be as early as mid-May. But, this year it seems our weekends have been sucked up by other activities, so we've been a little behind.

We finally made it out to the West Allis farmer's market this weekend (in between drops of rain). Established in approximately 1919, the West Allis Farmers Market has been a source of fine fresh produce for generations of families. Grandparents and parents have brought their children and relatives to shop at one of the largest, if not the oldest, established Farmers Markets in southeastern Wisconsin. The grounds were newly renovated in 2007, and now provide one of the finest market experiences in the Milwaukee area.

That's Lo standing to the right of the sign.
As it turns out, there was Very Little produce at the market (we did spy some baby bok choy, and a few vendors offered spinach). But, we did see lots and lots of lovely flowers.
We ended up talking ourselves into a couple of early hydroponic tomatoes, but otherwise ended up empty handed for this week.

Thank goodness for our CSA!

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Friday, June 6, 2008

My New Favorite: Eggs

Is it possible to have a favorite brand of egg?

I would have thought this was a nutty idea, until I happened upon the eggs from Yuppy Hill Farm. At the time of my discovery, I was struggling with a bit of an "egg aversion". Not ordinarily prone to such things, and figuring there must be a way to get past my developing aversion, I decided to simply try a new brand of eggs.

Wouldn't you know it? That did the trick. Yuppy Hill eggs are, by far, the best eggs I've ever tasted. The yolks are rich and dark, which would seem to indicate high levels of DHA (omega 3s!), vitamin A, and other antioxidants. And the flavor is out of this world -- rich and buttery, especially when served over easy (which is my favorite way to prepare -- and eat -- an egg).

Lynn Lein, owner of Yuppie Hill, has been raising chickens for nearly 10 years. While the farm isn't organically certified, it does employ cage-free methods. Lynn purchases vegetarian feed from her local feed co-op where they mix a special blend of ingredients made to order for her birds. This mix includes soy, corn, alfalfa and flax seeds to name a few.

And speaking of eggs, many thanks to The Hungover Gourmet from the Foodie Blogroll for recommending this article on how to choose and store eggs. Just good, basic information to keep in mind.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Rhubarb with Coriander and Lime

We were really excited about the lovely bunch of locally grown rhubarb from our CSA this past week. But, we couldn't decide exactly how we wanted to use it. Usually, we end up making the requisite "rhubarb torte" (a Midwestern favorite with a basic crust, rhubarb layer, and meringue topping). But, this time we wanted to try something a bit "out of the box".

Intrigued by an article she read suggesting that coriander was fabulous in combination with citrus flavors, Lo decided to stick her neck out and try something slightly more inventive. Turns out the flavor combination of rhubarb, coriander, and lime was just fabulous. The coriander plays nicely with the lime zest -- and brings something new and different to a springtime staple.

This stewed rhubarb was fabulous over a scoop of vanilla yogurt with an oatmeal cookie on the side. We could also envision this being fantastic as an add-in to yogurt. Or served with oatmeal for breakfast.

Rhubarb with Coriander and Lime

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Lamb Burgers with Rosemary Onions & Feta

We're big fans of spring lamb, so we were ecstatic to find naturally raised local spring lamb at our co-op -- from our hometown (Kewaskum) no less. So, we decided to celebrate by making burgers.

These burgers featured fresh rosemary from our herb garden in addition to locally raised ground lamb and delicious buns made by a local bakery. The caramelized onions with rosemary gave them a sweet element. And the sourness of yogurt really took these over the top.

Lamb Burgers with Rosemary Onions & Feta Cheese

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