Saturday, July 3, 2010

Sugar Pea Soup - some like it Cold, some like it Hot

Thanks to a cool May and June, our pea vines at the Bradner P-Patch are prolific.  In anticipation of a healthy yield, I explored making soup with snap peas from the Columbia City farmers market before mine were ready to harvest. This soup is nice hot or chilled. With 80 degree temperatures on the way, maybe we can peel off our sweaters if they haven't stuck, and slurp chilled pea soup with flavored ice cubes. Favorite garden snack tip:  sweet vine tips are great to nibble on while weeding. 

Fresh Sugar Pea Soup - Vegetarian
1 plus pounds or 6 cups of Snap peas
Juice of 1 small lemon - a nice choice would be to use Meyer's lemons, but increase the juice
Snip a healthy handful of long tender Chives
1 small potato
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup of cream (if you are willing)
creme fraiche - or mild yogurt
pinch of saffron
sea salt
fresh ground pepper
dash of cayenne pepper
  • Soak the saffron in a 1/8 cup of warm water for 30 minutes while preparing the puree.
  • Cut and peel the potato and cook until tender in ample water. Set aside.
  • Trim the stems off of the snap peas.  Add the snap peas to boiling water, for about 2 minutes. Poach until just soft, but still have their bright color. Strain the peas.
  • Add peas, potato, 2 cups of potato water and chives (maybe 10 super long strands), juice of one small lemon, and the olive oil, into a food processor and blend.
  • Add 1/2 c cream, Make this to the thickness you like by adding more/less cream or potato water. If you prefer, add chicken or vegetable broth, or pea water, to thin the puree.
  • Salt, pepper, a little sugar if your peas don't happen to be a sweet variety and a dash of cayenne pepper
  • When ingredients have blended well, pour through a sieve or strainer, smashing the mixture through the screen to get as much pea puree as possible. (If the pods are sweet and tender, and any strings and stems removed, one could use an immersion blender instead and skip the step of using the sieve or colander to strain the tough stuff)
  • Stir and taste, correcting seasonings (more salt? more cream? more potato water? more lemon?)
  • Mix 1/2 cup of creme fraiche with teaspoon of lemon, saffron strands and saffron water for topping.
  • Put a few whole mature peas if you have them in the bottom of each soup bowl. Ladle soup into the bowl and garnish with creme fraiche and saffron strands.
Greek yogurt, or soft goat cheese with some extra liquid stirred into it to replace the creme fraiche. For chilled soup, an alternative spice to saffron is to create ice cubes with mint and lemon zest, or ginger and cumin, or other herbs. Adding a couple of ice cubes to the soup on a hot day, would be a treat. A winter variety using frozen snap peas would be to add crispy garlicky croutons and some grated or crumbled cheese.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Garden Harvested Micro-Greens with Mushrooms on Fresh Linguine

Delicious and nutritious microgreens are the thing. A delectable reward for the garder after a thinning session in the vegetable garden.  A time that passes quickly so don't blink, as green growth is vigorous in the Northwest's spring climate. Now I am in the kitchen with tastey green bits to prepare. This haul includes greens of beet, baby bok choy, chinese mustard, swiss chard, chinese broccoli, as well as strands of red and orange beet roots rubbed clean between my fingers.

Begin by cooking  chopped shallots in butter or olive oil, adding sliced shitake and crimini mushrooms, and when cooked, add about 2 tbsps of cream. Pour the mushrooms and sauce covers the cooked freshly made linguine. While the pasta an sauce are really hot, place the microgreens are placed on top to wilt and covered with shaved parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Fresh Picked Garden Greens and Pancetta

The upside of the miserably cool rainy June we have had here in the Northwest is that our greens and peas are thriving, (while the beans and tomatoes are shivering).  Last night, I harvested a handful of Dwarf Syberian Kale, Orange Swiss Chard, and Chinese Mustard greens.
They all are young enough to braise lightly.  First, I cubed thick slices of pancetta (Italian type of bacon, the best choice but ham or bacon will do) and fried them, taking the bits out when crispy and brown. Saving about 1 T. of bacon grease, I added the washed and loosely chopped greens, stiring to coat with the flavored oil. (Cool down the pan somewhat before adding water or you will get a spitting oil explosion) I added 1/2 cup of water and braised them for about 3 minutes (longer if your greens are tougher). I threw the greens on a platter with the pancetta, squeeze of lemon juice, and black pepper. It was refreshing to have such a simple dish. Usually I add garlic, onions, balsamic vinegar to the greens while braising, but I didn't want to overpower the tender and fresh flavor of the hand picked greens. The Chinese Mustard had a sharp peppery flavor while the Kale and Chard were sweet and mild. For a vegetarian version, substitute olive oil and sea salt with a dash of smoked spanish paprika for the salty pancetta.

I served this with creamy Polenta, faithfully stired over the stove for 30 minutes with a wooden spoon. I added maybe 2 cups of dried polenta to hot broth consisting of a tall carton of vegetarian broth and 1 can of evaporated milk, salt and pepper. I added garden fresh herbs of chopped rosemary and tarragon to the mixture, later adding chopped chives. Just before serving I melted gorgonzola into the mixture and topped with lavendar petals.

RE: Polenta, Poached Egg on Crumpet with Orange Marmalade Cream

Garnished with lavendar and calendula petals.
This brunch piece was created with servings of greens with pancetta and polenta prepared the night before. See recipies above. In addition, it was served on a toasted crumpet with creme fraiche that had orange marmalade stired into it. Served with grapefruit mint iced green tea, a delightful combination of bitter and sweet and yummy.

Grapefruit-Mint iced tea - chill

This is a variation on my summer drink standby. Brew some of your favorite green tea. Add honey and stir. Pour hot tea over a bunch of crumpled mint leaves. Add 40% more fresh grapefruit juice. Add sprigs of mint to look pretty. 3 varieties of mint used here. Chill or serve on ice. Ajdust proportions to taste preferences.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Banana Bread Up-"date"

In my kitchen, there are ongoing attempts to make a super moist, dark, delicious date nut bread. It's a pressing need, as it's been on the agenda to try again, like forever. Yet, there are 2 overripe bananas staring at me. Banana bread or date nut bread? Indecision looms. So I solve the dilemma, avoid the choice and combine recipes. I make date nut bread with mashed bananas added. Experience tells me I am sure to ruin 2 good things and end up with a mutation worth nothing. "We wouldn't give any away, just eat it ourselves," I argue. That nagging voice of "experience" was wrong! Improvisation succeeded. Description: Moist, rich, dark, with a satisfying banana flavor and orange flavor in the background. Full of good for you stuff too. Yummers. We liked this. Do you? Try this and let me know. I used a special ingredient, date sugar. This upped the overall date flavor and made the sweet seem more wholesome than a white sugar rush. No date sugar on hand? You can switch it out for brown sugar, but use a little less.

1 1/8 cups of flour (I used 1/2 whole wheat flour)
3/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. date sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/8 c. dark molasses
1/2 c. oil (I used safflower oil)
1/2 cup of buttermilk (from powder, or you could use yogurt and milk combo)
1 t. vanilla
1 egg plus 1 yolk
1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped loosely
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
15 -20 large soft dates such as Medjool dates chopped loosely (you can use the extremely dry dates, but you might need more water)
1 cup hot water to pour over dates
2 T. grated orange rind

Pour hot water over dates that have been chopped and let sit 3 hours or longer. Stir, poke, mash it occasionally.
Mix dry ingredients and set aside.
Mix wet ingredients in mixer, sugars, oil, buttermilk, vanilla, egg,  and mix together on low.
Add dry ingredients to wet, gradually.
Add orange zest
Mix on medium for 1 minute.
Add date mixture, mashed banana and walnuts and stir on low, or with a spoon.
Scoop into oiled and floured bread pans. (One large or two small)
Bake 350 for 50 minutes in large pan, or until the toothpick comes out relatively clean.

Inspiration from Saveur's recent spread (Mom's Banana Bread p 101 May '10 issue) and Kendra Nordin  May 10th entry.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Spinach Anchovy Raisin Bruschetta

Anchovy spread spinach raisin pine nuts