home cooking

Impromptu Monday Night Dinner

Hello again!  I wanted to do a fast post about making dinner on the fly, so to speak.  I left the office early today, to avoid all the Ford Fireworks Spectacular nonsense, and went over to the local shop to grab some dinner things.  Have you ever had a day where you just don’t end up making anything like what you shopped for?

Today was that day for me.  I frequently use my well stocked pantry to make some decent dinners, but today, I have to say was pretty darn great.  I came home from the shop with an English cucumber, a green pepper, a box of cherry tomatoes, two lemons, some feta and a packet of flat Lebanese bread.  Seemed pretty straight forward, it would end up being the most wonderful fatoosh in pita bread.  Well, when I got home, I saw the bowl of beet greens we had gotten at Eastern Market on Saturday (I was trying to rehydrate them from their sad wilted state).  Then I opened the freezer to spy the package of quinoa spinach patties that the Hubby picked up at Costco a few weeks ago.  I also noticed that the jar of tahini in the fridge was probably at the end of it’s life.  Suddenly the lure of falafel was in my head and I imagined garlicky sauteed beet greens with quinoa patties and a knock down, smack your mamma it’s so good tahini sauce.  And there it was, dinner!

The sauce I used for this recipe is tried and true, I got it from Nigella Lawson years ago, but I have made it so many times, and with so many proteins, it feel like I have made it my own.  My version goes very heavy on the garlic and cumin, but it’s seriously good.  My mother asks for it all the time with the lamb I love to make for her.  It’s GOOD.

Serious Tahini Sauce

  • 1 cup tahini paste
  • 1 large pinch of course Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin (don’t use something old, buy fresh)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, processed through a garlic press, or crushed to a pulp
  • Juice of one large lemon
  • 1/4 cup cold water

In a large bowl (trust me on this one) combine the tahini paste, salt, and cumin.  Add the garlic paste and combine everything thoroughly.  Slowly stir in the lemon juice.  It will seize up and become a pasty mess, but don’t panic, just go with it.  Once it’s all combined, you’ll be having difficulty stirring any more.  Slowly add in half of the water, and stir well.  This is where the large bowl comes it, it will splash all over the place, but eventually will smooth out.  Add the remaining water and keep stirring, until you have a fluffy bowl of tahini sauce.  It will seem almost as if it’s slightly whipped, and that’s good.  Chill it for at least 30 minuted before using it.  I guarantee you will love this sauce.

Look at the sad state of the bowl just before I tore off a large piece of flat bread and cleaned the plate with it!

Tahini-on-my-mindWe ate this slathered on flat bread, so huge it’s like a tablecloth, with the sauteed beet greens and the quinoa cakes.  Divine!

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home cooking

A New Kind of Pesto

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My brother, Sean is a man with a plan (that’s his hand in the photo!)  He  lives way up in upstate New York, in what he calls “The North Country”.  Late last fall, he let me know that he was planting a crap load of garlic cloves (3,000?) to grow organic garlic.  His mother-in-law owns land up there and it’s just sitting unused!  Fast forward to this beautiful spring and he has a huge load of garlic scapes.  They’re the curly green stems that show up when you’re growing hard necked garlic.  I wonder did he know that they go for about $5 for a handful at the local Farmers Market. 

What do you do with garlic scapes, I hear you ask?  Well, the list is endless, you can grill them, use them in place of garlic in many recipes, stir fry them, wilt them with greens, and on and on.  But I have opted for doing a twist on a traditional summer favorite, pesto.  The method and most of the ingredients are the same, except you use scapes in the place of basil leaves!

Hopefully, you’ve had pesto.  It’s become pretty prevalent, and is a great way to use up the huge amounts of herbs you end up with in the summer.  But, you can make all kinds of alternate versions.  I have even seen kale pesto, but I’ll reserve my purist judgement on that one!  So, when I came across scapes at Eastern Market, and saw they were going for $5 a bunch (like 4 or 5 scapes) my eyes opened up wide and I started planning their use!  Pesto seems like the logical way to go here.  Not only do they replace the garlic in pesto, they also replace the basil or herb.  Try this, I truly think you will love it as much as I do!

Garlic Scape Pesto

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (I used walnuts, the Hubby doesn’t like pine nuts)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped garlic scapes
  • Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • A few generous grinds of black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (if you’re freezing, save it until you thaw to use)

In a dry pan, on medium, toast the nuts.  They will be ready when they’re fragrant and brown.  Allow them to fully cool, then proceed with the rest of the recipe.

In a food processor or blender, add the cooled nuts, scapes, lemon and zest, salt and pepper.  Pulse 20 times or so, stopping to scrape down the sides when necessary.  When everything is nicely chopped, open the neck of the processor and turn it on to full.  Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, stopping occasionally to allow it to process.   When you have added all the oil, allow the processor to go for a few more minutes, to completely emulsify the oil.  Mix in the Parmesan, to taste if you’re using it right away, or within a few days.  If you’re freezing it, skip adding the cheese until you use the pesto.

Store the pesto in a jar with a tight fitting lid and refrigerate.  An alternative is to put the mixture into an ice cube tray, freeze it, then keep the cubes in a bag in your freezer, or just put all of it in a bag in the freezer and thaw as you need it.

Look at how beautiful it is!

 

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home cooking

Ramping up for the challenge of summer cooking!

watermelon saladI want to know how you cook during the hotter days of summer, and so I have a poll.  I’d like you to tell me what you want to learn about, and what you want to know how to cook during the summer.

Take the poll below, and if there isn’t something that piques your interest, add the new thing in the comments!  I am so excited to get your input!

 

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