Sunday, September 29, 2013

Black Bean, Corn and Spinach Enchiladas

This is one of those recipes, that now having made it for the first time, I can't believe that I've never done is before. Enchiladas were always something for the local Mexican restaurant to handle and it never really occurred to me that it would be such a simple thing to make them as home. Of course, any recipe can be made complicated, and I've sure there are ways of making enchiladas that would require a dozen more ingredients and half a day of work, but having tasted these I see no reason to do much more than what I've got here. 

The only thing I will probably try net time is to add some shredded chicken or beef to see what these are like as a non-vegetarian version. I suppose the one thing I did do here to make things a bit more complex was making the sauce from scratch (could have just bought a can of it at the store) but in truth it was not that much more work and I always prefer to serve a homemade sauce over store bought.

As for the filling, I had spinach to use so I googled "spinach enchiladas" and ended up on the recipe linked below. The beans give a nice meatiness to the dish and combine very well with the spinach. The addition of corn (I used some of the kernels I had frozen from fresh ears several weeks back) adds a bit of sweetness and crunch. 

I do think the ingredient that really brought it all together was the cheese. Choose that well and you will be well rewarded. I went for a blend of cheddar, pepper jack and mozzarella. Top these off with a spoonful of salsa, or better yet do what we did and use the salsa verde I made a few days ago. Cook a big batch, these make great leftovers!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Salsa Verde

I had promised myself that I'd try to do something interesting with the tomatillos, but after another busy week that included a three day business trip to Minnesota, I needed to get these used before they went bad, so I phoned it in with possibly the most common tomatillo recipe out there; salsa verde.

Salsa verde is made using a different technique than other salsas. Instead of dicing up the vegetables and mixing them together raw, all the ingredients are boiled together and then blended to make what is basically a chunky sauce. One of the reasons why its done this way is that tomatillos have a lot of pectin in them which is released by the boiling. Then when the mixture cools the pectin acts as a thickener, giving you salsa instead of tomatillo soup.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Pickled Vegetable Slaw

Fall weather is descending fast around here marking the start of my favorite part of the year. This stretch from mid-September through to the end of the year brings so much of what I love about food and cooking. The big holiday feasts are always the main events of the season, but there are so many smaller events and activities before those that keep me plenty busy. Today’s activity comes from the desire to hold onto the bright, beautiful flavors of summer before they disappear until next year. Already, my freezer is stocked with blanched vegetables (beans, corn, etc.) that take well to freezing, but for those that are best when raw it’s time to break out the pickling jars again.

I read about this technique of pickling mixed vegetable slaw a few months back on Smitten Kitchen, and it jumped to the front of my mind when I did a clean out of the fridge to find a big bell pepper, a lone carrot and a whole bunch of radishes from past CSA shares that have been languishing. To that I added a couple small bell peppers that my backyard plants managed to produce despite looking pretty worn out, as well as a red onion to complete the medley of vegetables for this slaw.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Week 20 Share

Beans (organic)
Arugula (organic)
Swiss Chard (organic)

Okay! Back to it with week 20, and boy am I glad my schedule is back to normal because I would have been sad to miss this share. All the leafy greens are back! We got so used to having 1 or 2 nice fresh greens every week back in the spring and have missed them during the summer months. Not that I'm complaining about the veggies we were getting, but still, its nice to get a break from corn and bell peppers! I'm also excited to see the tomatillos in the share. I've only cooked with them twice before (including this one a few weeks ago) and I look forward to another opportunity to use them. Lastly, I have to note the potatoes. I have never had a potato that was dug out the ground just days ago (I mean, how old do you think potatoes from the grocery store are?) and I am very curious to see if there is any difference in flavor.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

How to Drink Your Watermelon

The last week has been one of the busiest that I've had in a long time. Work was crazy busy, requiring longer hours than usual, so long in fact that I wasn't able to pick up my CSA share for the week. Luckily the farm offers a great option for when you can't pick up, where they will donate your share to the local food bank, so I was more than happy to let my share for the week go to those who need it more. My long days barely left time to cook, much less document anything in to a blog entry!

The other thing that's kept me busy was that we are moving my daughter to a larger bedroom and I gave myself the project of building some shelves in the closet, taking up most of the free time I did find. We're moving my daughter because her current room needs to be turned back into a nursery for our second child who is due in just about a month! My wife's pregnancy has not been full of many cravings, with the one exception being watermelon. We've been going though nearly a whole watermelon every week for the last couple months!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

So way back when I picked up my first share at the farm, there was a fresh mint plant included. I planted it in the herb garden, and while a few leaved were plucked here and there for various recipes, it has pretty much been left to its own devices since then. Much like what happens when a small child is left unattended for too long, it started to cause trouble. I went outside a few days ago to pick some herbs and could barely find the plants I needed as the mint had grown so much that its neighbors were almost completely covered! In retrospect, I do remember reading somewhere that mint can be somewhat aggressive in its growth, but I hadn't given it much thought at the time, and besides, since when is too much of an herb a bad thing? Well, live and learn! After some serious pruning, I had quite a bit of mint to use, and I knew there was only one way...

Before you get further in to this recipe, let me make sure its understood that this ice cream made with fresh mint is NOTHING like what you would typically buy in the grocery store; it is so so so much better that you may never be able to go back to store bought. When the mint is picked the same day you make the ice cream, the resulting mint flavor is wonderfully fresh and is subtle enough that you won't tire of it, but at the same time you never have a doubt that it's there. Imagine the smell when you bruise a fresh mint leaf; that is the taste you get. The other great thing about using really fresh leaves is that they will color the ice cream ever so slightly green, a effect that is almost always achieved with food coloring in store bought. Maybe its a good thing that my mint plant is growing so fast, because I'm sure that I'll be wanting to make this ice cream again as soon as this batch has been eaten!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Week 18 Share

Green Beans
Lettuce (organic)
Bell Peppers

I think I'm finally starting to see the farm's growing cycles at work in how the contents of the shares have changed over the last few months. Early on, greens and radishes were a constant, but then disappeared, presumably because there weren't any more to pick. Now that there have been a couple months of growing time, they are back! Two weeks ago was kale and radish, and now arugula with some nice looking light pink radishes. Of course, now I have a ton of radishes to use. The watermelon was a nice surprise this week, I think I'm going to have to come up with something fun to make with it, perhaps a drink. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Peach Pecan Upside Down Cake

This past Labor Day weekend ended up being a stay at home event for me and the family. We had some hopes of a weekend getaway, but never got our act together on planning. Regardless, the weather was pretty crummy and I was recovering from a head cold so it was probably for the best that we didn't stray from the house much. Despite these downers, my wife saw this as an opportunity to tackle a list of treats she had been looking for time to bake, and when she told me that a peach upside down cake was part of the plan, I knew that I'd be writing about it here. 

One of the great things about upside down cakes are that they make is so easy to create a beautiful looking cake without having to mess around with icing. Of course, you won't find upside down cakes highlighting a wedding, but they certainly make for a great ending to a family dinner. Personally, I'd take a slice of this over a fancy layer cake any day!