Friday, August 27, 2010

April CK Digest

Hi guys!

I had a great time with all of you on Thursday and I hope you enjoyed eating what you made. Here are the recipes in electronic form. When you go to make these recipes again, PLEASE feel free to modify them according to what you see available and what you'd like to play around with. Make them yours! The point of these community kitchens is to get as many people accustomed to cooking from scratch as possible, and we do that more successfully when we learn on our own through improvisation. Here are some ideas for you to start playing with:

For the soup, use whatever vegetables you see! Instead of beets and apples, try carrots and oranges, or turnips and rutabaga with grapefruit juice. The idea behind the recipe is what you want, and here the idea is to contrast the flavors of roasted and fresh vegetables with something sweet and fruity. Strawberries are really cheap right now but in my experience, they don't play well with savory flavors as in this soup recipe. Make jam with them instead, and support the strawberry farmers who have had a rough year.

For the braised chicken and veggies over rice, again use whatever veggies you find. I like greens (you may have noticed), but broccoli, celery, carrots, almost anything would work well. The idea with the braised vegetables is to build deep, rich flavors with things like onions, garlic and mushrooms, and then build fresher flavors on top of them with your green vegetables and things like bell peppers. Braising is the best way to develop flavors from inexpensive cuts of meat. Again, the definition of braising is to brown an item and then slow cook it in the presence of liquid. This brings out the best flavor and texture from things like chicken legs and thighs, as well as beef chuck, pork butt, beef and lamb shank, ribs and much more. Generally, the cheapest meats you can find at the butcher or in the meat section can be braised. It isn't quick, although tricks like scoring the meat with a knife (as we did with the chicken) allows the cooking to happen faster.

Browning, by the way, is the only way we can add flavor to things in the kitchen.. otherwise we just work with the flavors are already at the market when we buy our food.

For the salad, think outside the box. Almost any food you can buy can be turned into a salad. Just cook things, toss them together, add some acid like lemon juice or vinegar, and some oil, season everything and you have a salad. You don't even need any greens. Roasted vegetables, bits of sausage and some herbs with lemon juice can be a salad. Or rice, carrots, broccoli sauteed with garlic, finished with sesame seeds, sesame oil, soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. We made a salad dressing by deglazing our saute pan, in which we caramelized onions and garlic, with lemon juice, then whisking in some olive oil. Easy.

Thanks again guys.. I hope to see you next month, and in the meantime, have fun playing around! Please share your successes, questions and thoughts with me and the group. I am also available personally as well if you ever want to meet and talk about food; it's my passion and I can talk about it all day long.


Carissa (correct spelling?), the chef at the Pike Market preschool was helping us at the very start of the last CK, and she told me that she got a lot of questions along the lines of "I have hardly any time to cook each night at home, I want to cook healthy meals from scratch but I don't know how to get them done in time! What do I do?"

This is a great question. Cooking from scratch, you can do cheap and healthy, but not really fast. Unless you plan ahead. What I told her is that if one plans meals in advance, you can bang out a great dinner in almost no time. Braise your meats in advance, then reheat them. Wash and cut your vegetables a day ahead, then throw them in a quick stir fry, finish with lime and soy sauce. Make your soup stock when you have time and then make a quick soup by throwing in meat and veggies. If you plan ahead, you'll find you have more than enough time to do cheap, healthy and fast too.

July CK Digest

Last Thursday, we cooked some amazing food. Lots of new friends showed up to cook with Amy and me, and we all made dishes based around the theme for July, which was the bold use of delicious spices. All our recipes are attached, but as always, don't feel confined by them; just use them as ideas to cook whatever you do find when you go shopping.

I got some spices from my favorite spice shop, which happens to be World Spice. Shopping there is a little like going to church for me, especially when I don't know exactly what I'm going to get. I chose the following:

Tellicherry Black Peppercorns (ground medium-coarsely) - These are black peppercorns that are grown on India's Malabar coast, which is a really good place to grow them, and only the largest, ripest top 10% of peppercorns can be labeled "Tellicherry," after Mount Tellicherry on the coast. They're richer and smokier than regular black peppercorns, and I think they're worth the trouble of going to a spice shop to get. Even though OK, yes, it's not really trouble to me. The medium-coarse grind is a compromise: it won't go stale as quickly as more finely-ground pepper, but at the same time the pieces won't so big that they would be unpleasant to bite into. Grinding it fresh for each use is of course best, but getting it ground medium-coarse works pretty well.

Chimichurri Spice (ground) - Chimichurri is actually a sauce. It's a spicy, vinegary marinade for grilled meat made with oil, garlic, herbs and spices that originated in Argentina and Uruguay, so this is a dry spice blend that's inspired by the flavors in chimichurri sauce. It's got one of my favorite dried chiles in it, the Aji Mirasol chile pepper. *Drool* The name "mirasol" means "looking at the sun," and it's got a sweet, heady, floral spicy flavor. Breaking one open and smelling it feels like standing in a sun-drenched field of wildflowers where chile peppers are also growing.

Pakistani Curry Powder - There's a Madras-style curry powder with a pretty standardized flavor that's been marketed around the world for some time, and it tastes pretty good. But there are tons of unique recipes in existence for curry powders, with a wide variety of flavors. This one from Pakistan is sweeter then most of them, with a mellow kick of anise rounded out with clove, cinnamon, cumin and coriander. I thought it would go well with the eggs in the Zanzibar Egg Curry (below), and I think it totally did.

Masala Kala - Like curry powders, masalas are a family of spice blends that can vary widely. They're typically used in Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani cuisines. Garam masala is the one you usually see and smell when you pass by an Indian restaurant. Masala Kala is kind of like Garam Masala, but different in that it features flavors from Maharashtra, India's mid-western coastal state. Coconuts grow there, among other things. So this spice blend has a heightened flavor profile due to the sweetness of toasted coconut meeting the spice of guajillo chile peppers.

World Spice has its own descriptions of these spices and spice blends on its website here.

We used the Tellicherry pepper as a flavor in a Black Olive & Cashew Tapenade made with anchovies, olive oil, parsley and garlic. We learned about the importance of the pulsing technique when using the food processor (turning the processor on and off quickly several times, rather than leaving it on) to make a spread that's homogenized but still has texture. And we used the same spice in our dessert (Black Pepper Strawberries), juxtaposing the sweetness of strawberries with the smoky spice of tellicherry peppercorns.

The Chimichurri Spice flavored the braised chicken in the Chimichurri Braised Chicken & Cashew Salad, and complemented the vibrant flavors of the fresh bell peppers, lemon juice and parsley really nicely. We used the Masala Kala to flavor a blend of crushed potatoes and vegetables in a kid of tomato gravy, which gets served over a toasted bun in India as the light meal called Pav Bhaji.

And lastly, we made a curry unlike any I had ever made or seen before, a Zanzibar Egg Curry using the slightly unorthodox Pakistani Curry Powder. It also has a kind of thick tomato sauce binding together quarters of hard-boiled eggs, which we served over simple roasted potatoes. The eggs made the curry really substantial and took on the flavor of the vegetables and spices beautifully.

We made a lot of delicious food. Thank you to everyone that came, and I hope to see all of you in September. That's right, the August Pike Market Community Kitchen will be cancelled because I'm going to be out of town. But we will have a great one on September 16th.

In the meantime, if you came to the community kitchen, you went home your portion of these spices. I want you to come up with some new dishes using them; they all would go well with a wide variety of foods. If you didn't come, just go out and find a couple of interesting spices to take home. Taste them, think about their flavors and make something delicious with them. Here's the trick: write down what you're doing when you cook and make it into a recipe. I know this part is kind of pain when you're in the middle of creating, believe me. I've had a hard time getting into the habit of writing recipes, but doing so has proven very rewarding, mostly because it makes it possible to share my cooking with lots more people. I want your ideas too, so go and create, then show me what you came up with!

I'm always available for cooking questions; don't be shy.


Roasted Chard Salad

*Written for Clean Greens Farm & Market*

The texture of this salad is even more of a treat than the flavor, which is also excellent. Mmmmmmm!

1 bunch rainbow chard, stems removed and leaves roughly torn (save for soup stock)
1 T olive oil
salt & black pepper TT
1 head red leaf lettuce, chopped bite-sized
1 C cherry tomatoes, halved
1 C Italian parsley, chopped
½ baguette, sliced 1/4" thick
Optional: 2 sausages, halved lengthwise and sliced. [Cook sausages in skillet over high heat using
approximately 1 t cooking oil for 6-8 minutes or until cooked through & well-browned.]

2 t soy sauce
1 lime, juiced
2-3 dashes ground cinnamon
4-5 dashes Tabasco sauce
2 T olive oil
Salt & black pepper TT

1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Lightly crumple chard leaves onto baking sheet. Drizzle leaves with olive oil and mix with your hands. Add salt & pepper to taste. Chard should be left to roast for 12 minutes or until it is wilted & crispy around the edges. When done, set aside. But while it's cooking:
3. Line baguette slices on a baking pan, rubbing both sides of slices with olive oil, salt and pepper lightly. Bake until edges are browned. Once cooled to touch, use hands to break-up slices into bite-size pieces.
4. Combine chard and lettuce in large bowl with dressing, then top with baguette pieces, sausage (if used), tomato and parsley. Serve.

King Kohlrabi Garnish

*Written for Clean Greens Farm & Market*

makes about 2 C of this "relish."
2 kohlrabi, peeled & grated
3 carrots, grated
1 lime, juiced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp soy sauce
¾ c fresh parsley, chopped
6 dashes Tabasco
black pepper TT (there should be enough salt in the soy sauce)

Combine all ingredients in bowl and add pepper to taste. If it needs more salt, add some more soy sauce.

That’s it! This relish adds a lovely spicy citrus note to any dish and makes really good friends with chicken + greens. As if chicken + greens were not delicious enough already.

Chicken + Greens Supper

*Written for Clean Greens Farm & Market*
serves 3 as a main course or more as a small plate

1/2 t cooking oil
salt & black pepper TT
6 chicken drumsticks (free-range and grain-fed whenever possible!), scored deeply with a knife for faster braising

salt & black pepper TT
1 bunch kale, chopped bite-sized
6 red potatoes, diced bite-sized
2 T olive oil
3 slicing tomatoes, cut in half & sliced 1/2" thick
½ head garlic, peeled & sliced 1/4" thick

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Season the drumsticks with salt and pepper. Heat a large saute pan over high heat. Once it's hot, add the 1/2 t oil. Add the drumsticks and brown on all sides for about 6-8 minutes. Set them aside in dish and reduce heat to medium-high. Add the kale (in batches if necessary), season with a little salt & pepper, and cook for about 5 minutes or until wilted. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Layer a baking dish from bottom in order as follows: potato, kale, chicken, tomato (embed among chicken), and garlic. Sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper. Cover and bake until chicken falls away from the bone, approximately 2 hours.

Caution: Chicken is terribly delicious. This chicken is especially terribly delicious.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Summer Vegetable Naked Casserole

*Written for Clean Greens Farm & Market*

Vegetables!! Mmm-mmm. Fill your belly! So delicious and good for you!! You will feel a charge of wholesome energy after eating this and similar dishes.

serves 3-4 as a main course or more as a small plate

1 1/2 C brown rice, rinsed
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 C water

1/2 head cauliflower, chopped bite-sized
2 broccoli crowns, chopped bite-sized (save the stalk for soup base!)
½ bell pepper, cut into 1/2" thick strips
3 carrots, cut into 1/2" thick coins
½ head garlic, peeled & sliced 1/4" thick
½ pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
½ red onion, sliced thinly

½ bunch thyme, rinsed & picked off the stem
1/4 C olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
plenty of salt & black pepper TT

1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Cover the bottom of a casserole dish with the rice, the 1/2 t salt and the water, mixing gently to combine. Layer vegetables atop rice, preferably with cruciferous veggies (cauliflower & broccoli) at the bottom, bell pepper & carrots toward the middle, and tomato & onion on top. Season each layer with some garlic, salt & pepper as you build the casserole. If you try to season the whole thing at the end, from the top, there will not be enough seasoning and picky eaters may think to themselves, "You know what? Vegetables are bland and that's why I don't eat more of them." And we don't want that. Anyway, finish by sprinkle thyme across the surface and drizzle on the olive oil
3. Cover with foil and bake for approximately 1 ½ hours, making sure the rice on the bottom is cooked. Sprinkle the lemon juice on top, then serve hot or at room temperature. Pretty easy, right? Who said cooking from scratch was hard?

*Note: A "naked" casserole is just an assembly of delicious things baked together, as a casserole would be, but without a binding component such as eggs, flour, or cheese.

Summer Afternoon Sandwich

*Written for Clean Greens Farm & Market*

makes about four little sandwiches


2 T olive oil
½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
½ lb crimini mushrooms, cut in half & thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled & thinly sliced
½ bell pepper, julienned (cut into thin strips)
6 sprigs thyme, rinsed & picked off the stem
1 c. cherry tomatoes, cut in half

½ lemon, juiced
½ c. parsley leaves, rinsed & coarsely chopped
salt & black pepper TT (TT=to taste*)

½ baguette, cut into 4"-5" segments and then cut in half lengthwise


1. Heat a large saute pan over high heat. Once hot, add the olive oil. Then add the onion and brown for one minute.
2. Add the mushrooms, tossing to combine with oil and onion. Reduce heat to medium. Cook for 6-8 minutes, until the mushrooms have cooked down and the onion is translucent.
3. Add the garlic and bell pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes, until they are just tender. Mix in the thyme and tomatoes and cook 3-4 minutes more, unti lthe tomatoes have broken down a bit. Turn off the heat. Add the lemon juice and parsley, and season with salt and pepper.
4. Allow this filling to cool slightly before assemblin the sandwiches, then serve. Enjoy with friends! mmm…

*Note: "To taste" implies that you taste your food before you serve it to make sure it's seasoned properly. If you're not already in the habit of doing this, get into the habit! It makes a big difference in your results.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Naked Vegetable Casserole with Greens and Spiced Pecans

A naked casserole is a casserole-type combination of delicious things without a binding component such as eggs, cream, flour or cheese.

You know, I like cheese, eggs, milk and flour. But I also like the deliciously clean flavor of vegetables cooked together with some nice oil and a bit of seasoning. You don't have to be naked to cook this casserole, but you will be more popular if you are.


2 T cooking oil
1 bu greens, washed and chopped bite-sized (any will do; I used collards)
2 shallots, peeled & sliced
1/2 head garlic, cloves peeled & sliced
salt & pepper TT

1 T olive oil
1 1/2 C pecans
1 t spice blend (I used a chimichurri spice blend from World Spice; most any spice or spice blend will do; just choose one you like)
salt & pepper TT

1/2 head cauliflower, washed & chopped bite-sized
1 crown broccoli (or enough to match the cauliflower), washed & chopped bite-sized
2 T olive oil
salt & pepper TT

1 1/3 C brown rice
1 1/3 C water
salt & pepper TT (enough to season the rice)

1 lemon, juiced
1 T truffle oil (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat and add the 2 T cooking oil. Allow the oil to heat up and then add the greens. Saute for about 5 minutes and then add the shallots and garlic and cook for another 5 minutes. Do this in a couple of batches if you think you're crowding the pan too much. Set aside. Wipe out the saute pan.
3. Heat the saute pan again over medium-low heat. Add the 1 T olive oil, pecans, and seasoning. Stir together and cook for 5 minutes. Set aside.
4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cauliflower, broccoli, 2 T olive oil, salt & pepper. Toss to combine and set aside.
5. Rinse the rice and layer it in the bottom of a baking/casserole dish. Add the water and season with salt & pepper.
6. Top the rice with the broccoli and cauliflower. Top that with the greens. Top that with the spiced pecans. Top that with a cover and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the rice is done.
7. Sprinkle with the truffle oil (if using) and lemon juice. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Curried Chicken and Summer Vegetables

Maria and Dan did everything. Thanks Maria and Dan!


1/2 t cooking oil
6 chicken drumsticks
salt & pepper TT

1 T cooking oil
1 onion, medium diced (about 1/2" on a side)
1/2 head garlic, peeled & sliced thickly
1" ginger root, peeled & sliced thinly
3 serrano chiles, sliced [taste these and make sure you want all of them, with all their spicy seeds & membranes, in your mouth. I mean, I would. But you may not and I am not judging you. *cough* *yes I am*]
3 T curry powder (freshly ground is better)
1 13-14oz can of coconut milk
1 T soy sauce
1 lime, juiced

4 medium red potatoes, medium diced
2 summer squash (any), medium diced
1 bu green onions, sliced thinly


1. Heat a large sauté pan over high heat. Add the 1/2 t cooking oil, allow to heat up and swirl the pan to coat it. Add the chicken drumsticks and allow to brown well. transfer to a baking dish, cover and braise for one hour. Pull the meat from the bones when done and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, heat the large sauté pan again over high heat. Add the 1 T cooking oil, allow to heat up, then add the onion, garlic, ginger and chiles. Reduce heat to medium-high and sauté for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and mix in the curry powder. Transfer to a blender.
3. Add the coconut milk, soy sauce and lime juice, and blend until liquefied. Strain into a large saucepan.
4. Add 1/2 C water to the saucepan and add the potatoes. Taste the sauce to make sure it's salted enough because the potatoes will actually suck a bit of salt from the sauce. Add more soy sauce if necessary. Cook the potatoes over medium heat in the sauce for 10 minutes.
5. Add the chicken, squash and green onions and cook 5 minutes more. Taste everything to make sure it's done and well seasoned. Serve as-is or over rice.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Stuffed Potatoes Two Ways

The two ways are: (1) Vegan, and (2) Decidedly not vegan. So you get to please everybody.

Well, except picky eaters, but you didn't invite them anyway.

Makes: a lot

12 medium red or yellow potatoes, cut in half
3 T cooking oil
salt & pepper TT

3/4 lb mushrooms, washed & sliced thinly
2 T cooking oil
plenty of salt & pepper TT
1/2 pt cherry tomatoes, diced
1 t red wine vinegar

2 T cooking oil
2 shallots, peeled & sliced
2 bu mustard greens, washed & rough chopped
1 head garlic, peeled & sliced thinly
4 ears corn, shucked & kernels cut off the cob
salt & pepper TT
1 t mustard

1 t cooking oil
2 Merguez sausages, diced
2 other sausage (we used sausage made from BAAAAAACON *droooool*)

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. Toss the potatoes in 3 T cooking oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on sheet pans and begin to roast for 25-30 minutes or until golden and soft inside.
3. Meanwhile, toss the mushrooms with the 2 T cooking oil, salt and pepper and begin to roast in the oven for 20 minutes. When done, toss with the tomatoes and vinegar.
4. Heat a large sauté pan over high heat and add 2 T cooking oil. Add the shallots and brown for 2 minutes. hen add the mustard greens and garlic and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the corn and cook another 5-7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Divide into two parts and add the mustard to one part.
5. Heat the sauté pan again over high heat and add the last 1 t cooking oil. Add the diced sausage and cook until done and slightly crispy.
6. When they're cool enough to handle, scoop out a divot from each potato half to make room for the filling. Reserve the potato for another use like meat or vegetable hash, or a pureed soup.
7. For the vegan potatoes, layer from the bottom: corn/mustard greens (w/o mustard), then mushroom/tomato. For the meat ones: corn/mustard greens (w/ mustard), then sausage.