Month: October 2010

Swiss Chard Gratin

When I was looking for new recipes for Swiss Chard Overdrive week, I started at my usual point – Google. For some reason, a Swiss chard gratin popped into my head, so I did a search for that. It turned up a recipe…from a cookbook I already own. Doh! The recipe was chard gratin from Alice Water’s The Art of Simple Food. I started from the ideas in Alice’s recipe, but streamlined it. Alice boils the chard until tender, toasts the bread crumbs in the oven, sautes an onion, adds the chard, then moves everything into a baking dish to brown in the oven. I cut this down to two pans, and two techniques – one pan for sauteing everything, then into the baking dish for browning in the oven. The results were a dish that balances contrasts very well. The bitter chard had a creamy taste and texture from the flour and milk, with a hint of sweetness from the onions. The tender chard played well with the crunchy, toasted bread crumb topping. This …

Blog Carnival: Sunday Suppers with Pam Anderson

I’m a little late to the party by being early. *Just my luck. Maggy Keet, Pam Anderson’s daughter, organized a Blog Carnival of recipes from Pam’s Perfect One-Dish Dinners, with a “Sunday Dinner” theme.  A bunch of bloggers who follow Pam, Maggy, and Sharon on ThreeManyCooks.com and through her cookbooks signed on. I thanked them for being invited, but said I had already posted my review of Perfect One-Dish Dinners.  I forgot about it…until Monday.  That was their blog carnival day, and suddenly my Salmon Bites with Sushi Flavors posts was getting a LOT of traffic.  They added me to the list, even though I jumped the gun. To thank everyone who included me in their Sunday Suppers posts, I’m joining in…a little late.  Better late than never, right?  Check out my review of Pam’s Perfect One Dish Dinners, then the stories and recipes about their Sunday Dinner from the book: DadCooksDinner.com RecipeGirl.com ArtofGlutenFreeBaking.com KitchenGadgetGirl.com MyBakingAddiction.com Wenderly.com BluebonnetsandBrownies.com TheSensitivePantry.com WhatsCookingBlog.com TwoPeasandTheirPod.com WhatsGabyCooking.com Bellalimento.com SmithBites.com MyFavoriteEverything.com FoodForMyFamily.com SavorTheThyme.com Ivoryhut.com DineAndDish.net GlutenFreeGirl Picky-Palate.com TickledRed SheWearsManyHats.com WhatWereEating.com ThisWeekForDinner.com SugarCrafter.net …

Swiss Chard Sauteed With Pine Nuts and Raisins

For Swiss Chard Overdrive week, I needed a weeknight side dish. I sure wasn’t going to use up all my Swiss chard if I waited for the weekend. Here is a fancy update to my basic sauteed Swiss chard, using the classic Mediterranean combination of greens, pine nuts, and raisins. The sweet raisins and creamy, nutty pine nuts match well with the slightly bitter greens; I add a splash of balsamic vinegar at the end for a sour edge that perks up the flavors. And, really, it is the same amount of work as my basic Swiss chard. Just add the pine nuts and raisins after sauteing the stems. That’s it – suddenly I have a much more complex side dish than the basic version. *Which makes me wonder – what took me so long to figure this one out? Puzzled by what to do with the Swiss chard in your CSA box? Try this recipe, and you’ll never leave the chard in the vegetable adoption bin again. Recipe: Swiss Chard Sauteed With Pine Nuts and …

Swiss Chard Overdrive

The Loneliness of the Vegetable Adoption Bin or What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate Swiss chard is my favorite green. It is a tender, mild flavored green, and quick enough to cook that I can make it as a weeknight vegetable side. I love its rainbow of colors- red, yellow, pink, orange, and all different shades of green. It is one of the prettiest things you can eat. I don’t understand why it is not a favorite at my CSA. Whenever we get Swiss chard, I find it in the vegetable adoption bin. I can’t help myself – it comes home with me. It was particularly bad a couple of weeks ago; I got a huge bunch in my CSA share, and someone left their huge bunch in the adoption bin. I drove home thinking “That’s a lot of chard. I’m going to have to come up with a new recipe for this week, just for some variety.” And then…life happened. The next morning was a Saturday, which is when I usually …

Grilled Barramundi with Avocado Orange Salsa

Barramundi is another example of a good farmed fish. They are native to waters from Southeast Asia through Australia. Barramundi are particularly prized in Australia and Thailand, both as a sport fish and a favorite for eating. They can survive in a wide range of salt levels; some live in the ocean, others in inland lakes and rivers. In the United States, barramundi is farmed in closed inland systems to protect against escapees and pollution. *Barry Eastabrook wrote about how good Barramundi is for fish farming in an article last week. Today, I’m going to share a recipe for grilled barramundi. Grilled fish is a sticky situation. I mean that literally – fish will stick to your grill like it was spot-welded if you are not careful. There are four keys to keep fish from sticking: 1. Preheat your grill: It has to be as hot as you can get it. For charcoal this is easy; once the coals are ready the grill is ready. But for gas grills, you have to preheat for at …

Tilapia with Brown Butter and Lemon Sauce

Tilapia is an example of a good farmed fish. They are omnivorous, and thrive on a vegetarian diet; don’t mind being packed tight in growing pens; do well in any water conditions, as long as it is warm; and grow quickly to market size. And, in the United States, tilapia is farmed in closed inland systems to protect against escapees and pollution. Because of these traits, tilapia is now the third most common farmed fish, behind carp and salmon. Tilapia’s big advantage is being omnivorous, which helps their feed conversion ratio. They take in less protein than they produce; tilapia farming is a net gain in protein. The counter-example is salmon. Salmon are carnivorous, and farmed salmon requires at least three times as much protein as it produces. Tilapia is a mild tasting, white fleshed, flaky fish, perfect for a weeknight fish dinner. I like them steamed and poached, but my favorite way to cook tilapia is sauteing. I coat this mild fish in a cornmeal crust to give it some crunch, and make sure …

Review: Four Fish by Paul Greenberg

Last year, I shared my personal philosophy towards fish in my Sustainable Seafood post. I just finished reading a book that helped expand my knowledge about fish, and the challenges we have ahead of us. Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food by Paul Greenberg is an entertaining, sobering, in-depth, and practical look at fish and sustainability. Mr. Greenberg focuses on the four fish that predominate in the modern fish market: Salmon, Tuna, Bass and Cod. He shows how fishing for each of these species has advanced across human history, and the problems and successes we have had with their sustainability. Don’t be fooled by this summary – the book isn’t just history and environmentalism. Mr. Greenberg approaches fish from his viewpoint as an enthusiastic amateur fisherman. Four fish is a fascinating view of today’s world of fishing, with stories of the people who catch and farm our fish. And, as a fisherman, Mr. Greenberg feels he has to catch these fish himself, and his personal fish tales are some of the best …

Slow Cooker Chinese Red Cooked Chicken Thighs

I’ve been reading a lot of authentic chinese cookbooks recently, looking for ideas to expand my weeknight stir-fries. One technique that caught my eye was red cooking, braising meat for a long time in a Shaoxing wine, soy and caramelized sugar broth. The result of red cooking is tender meat with a reddish hue from the broth. I don’t have one of the traditional Chinese sand pots that are used for red cooking.  And, I was looking for a weeknight dinner, not a weekend extravaganza.  So, I turned to my trusty slow cooker. It seemed like a natural for red cooking – a long simmer at low heat is exactly what the slow cooker does best. My cooking instincts were good – red cooking chicken thighs in the slow cooker is a great idea. The chicken was fall off the bone tender, and flavored through with the sweet, sour and salty broth. The only problem was the aroma – it smells so good, but you have to wait six hours to eat! Now, my red-cooked chicken thighs …

Cooking Authentic or Cooking Everyday?

A little bit ago, there was a kerfluffle in the media about Martha Stewart and Rachel Ray. Apparently, Martha said something about Rachel’s kitchen skills, and how they were lacking. This quickly morphed into a food blog personality test. Who ya got? Who are you as a cook, Rachel or Martha? Are you Rachel Ray, as in 30-Minute Meals, using shortcuts and prepared ingredients and bagged, pre-cut vegetables to get the meal on the table as quickly as possible? Or are you Martha Stewart, as in Martha Stewart Entertaining, do it The Right Way, have a large garden so you can have fresh greens, raise your own chickens, and have dinner linens that match the seasons? I started in the Martha camp. Or, in my case, the Cooks Illustrated’s Best Recipe camp. I cooked elaborate meals on the weekends, got really deep into multiple day barbecues, and would take forever just to get dinner on the table. Then I set out to learn the Rachel, get a dinner on the table on a weeknight side of …

Pumpkin and Squash Soup

Diane had an unexpected bonus in our garden this year. Tim, our youngest, planted a seed while he was helping Diane, and it gave us a mystery squash that we were puzzling over for most of the summer. We assumed it was a rogue zucchini, but there was only one of them, and it kept getting bigger and rounder. It had tendrils reaching out to our deck, and was taking over one side of the 4 foot garden box it was planted in. Eventually, it became obvious, even to a garden novice like me – Tim had planted a pumpkin! Tim was so excited. He loves helping mom with the plants, and now he had a pumpkin of his very own. Every time he saw it, he would wiggle with excitement. Finally, it was a nice, bright orange, and it was time to pick it. Now what? I had to do something worthy of Timmy’s pride and joy. I went with a recipe I learned from Patrick Payet while I was in Provence. This recipe …

Tarte Tatin with Puff Pastry

I am a sucker for fresh produce. My checkbook trembles in fear when I go to a farmers market; there is always something that looks so good that I have to buy it. What happens when I go to an apple orchard? Especially a you-pick apple orchard? I wind up with a lot of apples. *A LOT of apples. What do I do with all those apples? Here is a quick, easy tarte tatin recipe that I learned while I was on my trip to Provence.* Tarte tatin, an upside down apple pie, is a great example of simple French cooking. Butter, sugar, apples, lemon juice and puff pastry – that’s it, and the results are better than any apple pie I’ve ever made.*Did I mention that I spent a week in a cooking class in Provence? Yes? Well, it still makes me happy just thinking about it. Now, I’m not a dessert kind of guy. Don’t get me wrong, I like dessert. I won’t turn it down if it is offered. But, in the …

Eat Local Challenge

This week’s posts are inspired by my fall CSA box, a trip to a local apple orchard, a rogue pumpkin planting from my youngest son, and the Ohio Eat Local challenge. *Yes, there’s a theme in there. Really. I promise. From the Ohio Department of Agriculture: Eat Local Challenge, October 2-8: The Ohio Department of Agriculture challenges you to eat local! This week, plan and prepare one meal every day using foods that are made, grown or raised in Ohio. Regular readers of this blog know that I try to eat local as much as possible.* In my neck of the woods (Northeastern Ohio), this is a great time of year to eat local. We have the tail end of the summer’s vegetables, and fall vegetables are starting to come in. In my last CSA box, I had the last of the year’s tomatoes, and the first winter squash, leeks, chard, and broccoli. I do live in Northeastern Ohio. Eating local in the middle of February means meat and a lot of root vegetables. I …

All-Clad Factory Sale: Winter 2010

All-Clad Factory Sale: Winter 2010The dates for this winter’s All-Clad factory sale have been announced, so I’m posting my usual heads-up to my readers… All-Clad’s factory is located in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. Twice a year, on the first weekend in June and December, All-Clad holds a factory seconds sale at the Washington County Fair and Expo Center. The 2010 winter sale is Friday, December 3rd and Saturday December 4th. Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Here’s the link to the location of the sale: Washington County Fair and Expo Center. This is about a two hour drive from the Akron area. You get prices from 40% to 70% off on factory seconds. In most cases, the damage is just cosmetic; a little scratching on the stainless, or a lid handle that’s a bit offset from center. They have most of their line of cookware available, but not all, and some favorites (like the 12″ stainless fry pan, and its lid) are hard to find. Overall, though, it’s …