Friday, May 30, 2008

Green (Purple) Goddess Dressing

Sweet Peas and Chive Flowers
Sweetpeas on the left, chive flowers on the right

Wednesday morning I made it to the Union Square Greenmarket for the first time in ages. Though yesterday I pined for my California market, I will admit late May's bounty here in New York ain't bad. I stuffed my bag full of strawberries, rhubarb, asparagus, spring onions, radishes, baby romaine, and the chive flowers pictured above.

Baby Romaine, Radish and Green Goddess Salad

The radishes and baby romaine cried out for a creamy dressing, so I cracked open my trusty Joy of Cooking and found a Green Goddess dressing recipe that easily adapted to my ingredients at hand. I used the purple chive flowers instead of chives, and as the dressing sat on my salad, it's color shifted to a subtle lavender. The flowers have the same taste as their younger, greener stems you normally see in the store. The added benefit is the lovely bouquet gracing your table until you cut up and use all the flowers.

This delish dressing is my entry for Kalyn's fab Weekend Herb Blogging event, hosted by Wandering Chopsticks this week.

Green (Purple) Goddess Dressing
This makes more than enough for one large individual salad

scant 1/4 c. creme fraiche (for a low-fat version, sub fat-free plain yogurt)
splash of lemon juice
splash of champagne vinegar
approx. 1 tbsp. chopped parsley
approx. 1 tbsp. chopped chive flowers
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients together. Voila--you have salad dressing.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Cherry "Jello"

Cherry "Jello"

As I've puttered around the apartment this week, I've listened to podcasts of Los Angeles-based chef Evan Kleiman's show, Good Food. Each episode begins with a "market report", highlighting what's in season at area farmers' markets. Right now, it sounds like LA is drowning in cherries, apricots, and the summer's first sweet corn, grown deep in the hottest part of the state. It's hard to keep my longing in check--what I wouldn't give for a freshly picked deep red Bing or yellowy Rainer.

Pitted Cherries

To assuage my desire, I snagged a bag of (expensive!!) Bings at a local market. They were good, but not great--a bit soft and not super-sweet. They worked well in this homemade Jello though. I followed Elise's recipe for a Strawberry-Rhubarb Terrine, cutting the ingredients in half, using cherries instead of strawberries/rhubarb, and agave syrup instead of white sugar. A perfect dessert for a sticky summer day. If you want to keep your food local, however, and you live on the East Coast, you can stick with Elise's original fruit choices--yesterday's Union Square greenmarket was bursting with early strawberries and rhubarb.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Kicking Off Summer with Celebration

Vanilla Cupcakes with Lime Curd and Cream Cheese Frosting

I spent the long weekend in Wisconsin with my family, celebrating my little sister's upcoming nuptials. She's getting hitched to a lovely boy at the end of July, then they're packing their bags for Honduras, where they'll teach for two years. To preview their Central American adventure, my Mom and I threw my sister a "tropical" bridal shower on Saturday.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and Lime Curd inside

While I doubt she'll find many cupcakes in San Pedro Sula, I figured a lime curd filling was tropical enough to include these beauties for dessert. The recipe for these lime curd stuffed cupcakes with cream cheese frosting comes from the inimitable Cupcake Bakeshop, though the lime wedge decorations were my sister's inspiration. While we sent most of the leftovers away with our guests, we saved a few for breakfast the next day.

Black Bean and Banana Empanadas

For a savory and sweet treat, I also made these banana and black bean empanadas. These are simple thanks to the use of puff pastry. Nearly any filling could work--next time I may try sweet corn. You can make them ahead--place on a cookie sheet, cover with tinfoil, and store in the fridge.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ladies Who Brunch

Brunch: Blueberry Banana Bread and Fruit Salad

I'm cherishing every day of downtime between the end of the school year and the start of my summer internship. Novels, baking, blogging--oh my! Today, the ladies who helped me slog through a year of economics came over for brunch to celebrate our freedom. These gals remind me why I came to grad school--over a leisurely meal of asparagus frittata, fruit salad, and blueberry-banana bread, our conversation ranged from the politics of Venezuela and Russia, to the recent Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Diaz to good old fashioned girly gossip.

Blueberry Banana Bread

A few moments ago I unwrapped the leftover blueberry bread for a quick snack--this stuff is addictive and actually somewhat healthy. A nearby market has been on berry-overload for the past week--hence the overflowing fruit salad, whose leftovers, as soon as I finish this post, will complete my late afternoon noshing.

Blueberry Banana Bread
adapted from Joy of Cooking

1 c. white flour
1/3 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
5 1/3 tbsp. butter, room temperature
2/3 c. pure cane sugar
2 large eggs
3 mashed very ripe bananas (2 if they're big)
1 pint blueberries

Brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a loaf pan.

If you want to make the crumbly topping, mix together approximately 1/4 c. oats, 1/4 c. brown sugar and enough butter to make it stick together (sorry! didn't measure when I did this!).

Whisk together flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. In a separate large bowl beat butter and sugar together for 2-3 minutes. Beat in the flour mixture into the butter-sugar stuff until blended. Gradually beat in the eggs. Then fold in bananas and blueberries.

Pour into loaf pan. Top with crumbly topping if you want. Bake for about 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let pan cool on a rack for about 10 minutes before taking bread out of the pan.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Beet, Potato and Prosciutto Salad

Beet, Potato and Prosciutto Salad

Over the past few weeks, I've become obsessed with mustard vinaigrette. During finals, I ate it drizzled over blanched green beans nearly every night (served next to a pathetic frozen veggie burger). Now that the semester has ended, I've got time for more than a quick bean boil, so last night I used it to dress a jumble of potatoes, beets, arugula and prosciutto.

My mustard of choice is the French Clovis brand--last week I finished up a jar of its tarragon mustard and have recently opened a jar flavored with Provence herbs. Its sharp, earthiness works equally well on a ham sandwich and in salad dressing. In NY, you can find Clovis at Fairway--$2.79 for 7 ounces.

Beet, Potato and Prosciutto Salad

1 bunch of beets, greens trimmed
6-7 medium white potatoes, cut into quarters
olive oil
1-2 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1 tsp. fresh dill, chopped
1 tsp. fresh tarragon, chopped
zest of one lemon
2-3 oz. proscuitto, cut into bite sized strips
1-2 large handfuls of arugula

Dressing ingredients:
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tbsp. mustard, preferably dijon or stone-ground
1 1/2 tbsp. champagne vinegar
olive oil
kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 400. Wrap the beets tightly in foil. Place in oven and roast 45-1 hour depending on size. Open foil carefully (beet juice likes to spray) and wait for the beets to cool. Carefully rub off their skins and cut into quarters. Set aside.

After you put the beets in the oven, prepare the potatoes. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme. Put in the oven and roast for about 30-40 minutes, until skins are crispy and potatoes are fork tender. Remove from oven and set aside.

Mix the tarragon, dill and lemon zest together. Set aside.

Prepare the vinaigrette. Place diced shallots, mustard and vinegar into a small bowl. Stir well. Slowly add olive oil, whisking as you add it, until the dressing is the consistency you'd like (approximately 5-6 tablespoons of olive oil). Add salt and pepper to taste.

Compose salad. On a large platter, scatter arugula. Drizzle a bit of the dressing on top. Place beets and potatoes on top of arugula. Sprinkle the prosciutto across the plate. Sprinkle the lemon zest mix across the plate. Finish with more of the dressing and a scattering of fresh ground pepper and fleur de sel.