Friday, October 22, 2010

Hibiscus Martini

This month I am hosting my book club and wanted to serve martinis.  I will be serving a pear, cardamom, clove, and orange peel martini as well as this red beauty.  This hibiscus martini is perfectly balanced with alcohol, sweet, and sour (fresh lime juice).  The hardest part of this drink is making the hibiscus syrup but once it's made you'll have syrupy goodness for a while.

Hibiscus Martini (a Casa Clark original recipe)

2 oz hibiscus syrup (recipe follows)
2 oz vodka
1 oz fresh lime juice ( read this article and it'll illustrate what I mean by fresh juice; thanks E for sharing this)
hibiscus flower in syrup for garnish (optional)

Place all your ingredients except for garnish into a shaker and shake until the outside of shaker is cold.  Place your garnish at the bottom of the martini glass and pour cold drink over the garnish.  Enjoy.

Hibiscus Syrup
I actually found this recipe online.  It calls for fresh hibiscus flowers but I used dried Jamaican flowers that I purchased at the Latin market (RN) for about $3.  If you have seen this syrup at Amazon be prepared to pay $11 for a bottle of 8.8 oz.  You not only save money but have enough ingredients to make it over and over again.  The flowers are super pretty  in flutes topped with champagne (I'll post a pic once the girls come over on Saturday).

20 dried whole hibiscus flowers
1/2 c fresh lemon juice
2 c water
2 c sugar

Place your flowers and lemon juice in a microwave proof bowl and nuke for 2 min. on high.

Add the water, sugar, and hibiscus flowers in lemon juice to a pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer until the mixture has reduced by 1/3.  Allow the syrup to come to room temperature.  Use a slotted wooden spoon to retrieve the flowers or strain flowers from syrup into a clean bowl.

Gently place the flowers into a clean mason jar and top with the syrup so that they are completely covered ( I prefer to use a wide mouth version because it's easier to get the flowers out when you want to use them).  Add the surplus syrup into a clean mason jar and cover both jars.  Place in refrigerator and store for up to one year.  You can also make hibiscus vodka with it. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Let them eat vegan Pho

Casa Clark has gone vegan.  It's been coming for a while and it's been a good thing especially for me.  R and C aren't too convinced yet  and occasionally ask for eggs, cheese, and milk (although C has been drinking lots of my almond milk lately).  It's been a challenging culinary adventure but I'm not one to shy away from a fight.

One of my most favorite things in the world is the wonderful Vietnamese rice noodle soup Pho.  The only problem is that as a recent vegan I know there is fish sauce lurking in the savory depths and was bummed that I couldn't have it especially since it's gotten a bit chilly out there.  I was looking at my p.v. (pre- vegan) cookbooks and found a Pho recipe in my Cook's Illustrated The Best International Recipe cookbook and liked some and changed some.  You'll die at the depth of flavor in the broth and have a healthy dinner to boot.  The secret to this broth is time, so start it the night before or before you head out to work.  Trust me, it's worth the wait.

Vegan Pho Broth (adapted from Cook's Illustrated)
You'll need a dutch oven and crock pot for this one.

4 tsp vege oil ( I didn't actually measure the oil and just added enough to cover the bottom of my dutch oven)
4 medium onions sliced
8 medium garlic cloves, pressed
2 lemon stalk with tough outer edges removed and sliced thin; only use the bottom 5" of it
20 c water
4 Tbsp tamari
4 Tbsp sugar
8 star anise pods
8 whole cloves
a handful of dried shiitake mushrooms
a piece of Kombu for dashi cut in half
mushroom soy sauce or tamari to taste
1 piece of lemon grass with outer skin removed and mashed a bit with the back of a knife ( to add to crock pot)

Add the oil to your dutch oven and warm up; add the onions and cook until caramelized.  This is a very important step because it will add color and flavor to the broth.

Add the garlic and lemon grass and cook until fragrant.  Add the water, tamari, sugar, dried mushrooms, and kombu.  Now you can add the star anise and cloves but I place 4 star anise and 4 cloves into a tea pouch ( so you'll make 2 pouches) and then add.  It makes it easier to get them out later.  It'll make sense.

Place the lid on your dutch oven and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat a bit and allow to simmer for 10 min.  Now here is where the magic happens.

Before you strain your broth into the crock pot be sure to dig out one of your spice pouches and the kombu; set aside.  Strain the rest of your broth into the crock pot and add the reserved spice pouch, kombu, and the macerated lemon grass.   Cook it on low for at least 8 hours.  Season to taste with more tamari or mushroom soy sauce as needed.

As far as the garnishes go, the sky's the limit.  I personally like to use bean sprouts, chopped tofu, carrots, green onions, sliced bok choy, sliced jalapenos, sliced cabbage, cilantro leaves, rice noodles, and Thai basil of course.  You place your garnishes into your bowl and then top with the hot broth.  Add some Sriracha and you're in business.  This is super healthy and delicious comfort food that you'll crave throughout the winter.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

What to do with your CSA part 7

Greek style Quinoa

Although date night was extraordinarily fun last night the food was heavy and I woke up feeling blah.  I wanted to make us a healthy and delicious lunch.  As I was flipping through my latest Saveur issue (Aug/ Sept 2010; the Greek issue) I came across Ladolemono, which is the Greek version of a lemon sauce.  With this sauce as inspiration I created a delicious meal packed with protein and delicious Greek flavor.

Greek Style Quinoa
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 eggplant ( from my garden) diced
8 baby carrots, diced
1 cucumber (from my garden) peeled, seeded, and diced
kalamata olives, handful which were quartered
8 oz feta cheese, divided
mint leaves cut into ribbons
2 c of quinoa, rinsed under water
4 c of homemade vege broth
 Ladolemono sauce ( recipe follows)

After rinsing the quinoa under water for about 1 min I placed into a saucepan with the broth.  I covered and brought to a boil on med-high heat.  Once it came to a boil, I lowered the heat to low and allowed it cook.

While the quinoa is cooking place your butternut squash, eggplant, and carrots into a pan with warm oil over med- high heat until the veges are browned and cooked through.  Remove from heat.

Once the quinoa is done cooking place it into a bowl.  Add the cooked veges, cucumber, olives, and 4 oz of the feta, crumbled.  Add 1/2 of the ladolemono sauce and toss to coat.  Place the quinoa on a plate and garnish with some crumbled feta and the mint leaves.  Delicious!

Ladolemono sauce
Again, this recipe is from the Saveur Aug/ Sept 2010 issue.  Super tart and good.

1/4 c fresh lemon juice ( thanks again Prietos for the lemons although this is the last of them)
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

Place all of the ingredients into a jar and shake until combined.

What to do with your CSA part 6

Grilled Vege Sandwich

I love the summer veges.  They are so good and quite satisfying.  I have yet to grow tired of zucchini, summer squash, or eggplant; maybe I'm a weirdo.  I thought these sandwiches would make a hearty summer dinner which they did.  I've remade these with the same delicious results.  Feel free to substitute with any seasonal veges.  The pic is a bit yellow because the fluorescent lighting in the kitchen at night is dreadful, sorry.

Grilled Vege Sandwich
1 large eggplant, cut into thin slices
2 large zucchinis cut into medium thick slices
1 large patty pan sliced
baby carrots slice in half
bell peppers, seeded and sliced
onion, sliced
cooked bacon slices (optional)
2 small peaches pitted and sliced
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 small package of blue cheese at room temperature
havarti cheese slices (Costco)
bread ( I prefer sour dough)

I grilled the veges on my electric grill, but feel free to grill outside.  Before being placed onto the grill the veges were placed in a large bowl and covered with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  I tossed them in the oil and seasonings with my hands until they were well coated.  I grilled until the veges were tender but not overly done.  Once they are cooked place them in another bowl or platter.  Grill the peach slices.  I didn't coat the peach slices because I wanted their natural sugars to do the caramelizing and I didn't want them to taste like oil.  Once the peaches are done remove from heat and set aside.

Crumble the blue cheese into your stand mixer, and using the paddle mix the cheese until smooth and spreadable.  I decided to dice a peach and mix it into the smooth cheese.  I had it so I did it but this is not necessary.

Brush olive oil on your bread and place onto grill.  Cook for 2 min and flip over.  Add the havarti slices and grill until the havarti begins to melt.  Place onto a plate.  Add the blue cheese onto the non-havarti slice and spread using a spreader.  Now you're ready to top.

On the blue cheese side place your grilled peaches.  On the havarti side place your grilled veges how you'd like them.  Place the peach half onto the havarti half and slice in half.  Enjoy!

What to do with your CSA part 5

Spring Rolls

Spring rolls are a Clark staple during the summer.  I love how tasty these are.  I will also include the Peanut Sauce recipe that really makes these shine.  It's seriously the best sauce I've ever had and now you'll know it too.

Spring Rolls
1 package of spring roll wrappers
fine rice vermicelli noodles, cooked and cooled according to the package instructions
carrots, julienned
cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and julienned
green onions; only use the green parts, julienned
spinach chopped ( I used a custom salad mix that I made at the farmer's market )
cilantro leaves
vege chicken strips ( or real chicken if you prefer )
basil, mint, and purple basil cut into ribbons and mixed in a bowl together
1 bowl of warm water
kitchen towel

Start by soaking the wrapper in the bowl of warm water until softened but still able to keep its shape.  I place on plastic cutting board but you can place onto your clean counter top.  I take my kitchen towel and dab any excess water on the side that faces up.  Now you're ready to fill.

Start with your carrots and cucumber.  Don't put too much and be sure to place on the side closest to you.

Add the spinach (salad mix) and green onions.

Add the cilantro leaves, the basil - mint mixture, and top with a piece of soy chicken.

Add the rice noodles and roll it up like a burrito; tucking in the sides as you roll.  Be sure to place it seam down if you plan on cutting it.  Use a sharp knife and just press down onto the spring roll.  Place the roll onto a platter or plate.  Repeat until you have the desired amount of rolls.  Dip your roll into the peanut sauce before enjoying.

Hoisin-Peanut Dipping Sauce
 I found this recipe in Cooks Illustrated.  I love this sauce

1/4 c hoisin sauce
1/4 c creamy peanut butter ( I use and prefer the extra chunky)
1/4 c water, plus extra as needed
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp Sriracha
2 tsp vege oil
2 medium garlic cloves, pressed
1 tsp red pepper flakes

Place the vege oil into a pan over med heat.  Once warm, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic is fragrant.  Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Add more water if the sauce is too thick.

What to do with your CSA part 4


Because I had plenty of left overs from the tostadas I decided to make empanadas with them.  These are great because they are easy to make and you can freeze them to cook on another day.  I should have taken pictures of the steps, but I am going to go ahead and assume that you can read and follow directions.  As far as the fillings are concerned, the sky's the limit.  I also made some with chopped peaches tossed with homemade jam but didn't take pictures of them so didn't include.  Be creative!

Empanada Dough
I actually like to use a dough recipe from Cook's Illustrated for this.  It's easy to make with few ingredients.

18.75 oz of AP flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
12 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes and frozen for 10 min
1 1/4 c ice water
Filling of your choice, chilled
1 large beaten egg

In your food processor process the flour, sugar, and salt together until combined.  Scatter the pieces of butter and pulse until the butter resembles coarse crumbs, about 16 pulses.

Add some of the water and process; keep adding water and continue processing until the dough comes together.  Place in plastic wrap and flatten into a disk for at least 2 hours or overnight.

To make empanadas:  Flour your counter or work space slightly.  I like to keep the dough in the fridge and only work with one small piece at a time.  Pinch a piece of dough and roll out to 1/8" thick circle.  Place the filling into the half closest to you but don't overfill.  Add some water using your finger around the edges of the circle and bring the other half towards you until you form a half moon.  Use a fork to crimp the edges and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet until it's filled ( usually 6 to 8 empanadas).  Place in the fridge for 30 min and preheat your oven or place into your freezer and freeze for at least 8 hours then place into a Ziploc bag.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees (have it preheat while empanadas are in the fridge) for at least 30 min.  Brush the empanadas with the beaten egg and cook for about 25 min switching and rotating your tray half way in between, or until golden brown.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What to do with your CSA part 3


These yummy tostadas were full of summer veggie deliciousness and most importantly topped with grilled halloumi cheese.  They were simply marvelous.  Our tostadas were layered (in order) as such: beans, Mexican rice, meat and veges, fresh salsa, and grilled Halloumi cheese.  I also should mention that I chose to fry small flour tortillas instead of the standard corn tortilla.

Beans: I just used organic re fried beans because they were in the pantry and it saved me from having to make them from scratch.

Mexican rice: 1 onion diced, 4 cloves of garlic, 2 cups of long grain white rice, 1 can of organic tomato paste, 4 c water and salt to taste.  Cook the onion in pan until transparent over medium high heat, then add garlic and rice and cook until the rice starts to brown a bit. Add the tomato paste and water then season to taste.  Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and cook for about 20 min or until liquid is evaporated.

Meat and Veges: 1 large patty pan diced (from our garden), 2 zucchinis diced, 1 large eggplant diced, 8 baby carrots diced, 4 yukon gold potatoes diced and pre-cooked, 1 x 12oz bag of morning star meal starters / crumbles, home made chili powder.  Cook the patty pan, zucchinis, egg plant, and carrots in pan with olive oil and salt until cooked but still crunchy.  Put in bowl and set aside.  Add the crumbles and cook in pan with olive oil until defrosted and cooked.  Add the cooked potatoes season with salt and add the chili powder to taste.  Add to the bowl of veges and stir to combine.  Set aside.

Fresh Salsa:  1 white onion diced, 2 jalapenos finely minced, 1 bunch of cilantro chopped (store bought), 4 to 5 early girl tomatoes diced, 2 nectarines diced (or other seasonal KMK fruit), the juice of 1 lemon, and salt to taste.  Combine all of the ingredients and season to taste.

Grilled Halloumi cheese:  I bought this amazing Greek cheese at Pita Kabob, but look for it at your favorite Mediterranean market.  I preheated my electric grill to med, sliced the cheese, drizzled it with olive oil, and  grilled each slice for about 2 min per side.  You'll get a nice crust on this slightly salty and creamy cheese.  Absolute heaven.


What to do with your CSA part 2


Muffins are a great way of using the fruit that you get in your CSA.  I've chosen the Lemon Cornmeal Blueberry Muffins because I used the corn from the box to make my own cornmeal, and I've chosen the Gingered Bran Fruit Muffins because I used CSA fruit.  These are both delicious for breakfast or dessert.  We had ours with homemade Mochas too which was super yummy.  You can candy your citrus peels, dehydrate your fruit to extend the life of it, and make your own cornmeal.  Once you have these things made you can enjoy them past the season through out the year.

Lemon Cornmeal Blueberry Muffins
These are essentially the cornmeal dessert that I posted not too long ago but instead of using the blueberry sauce, I opted to include the blueberries into the batter instead.

1 1/2 c (packed) powdered sugar
3 TBSP fresh lemon juice (you may need more)
candied lemon peel (optional)

1 1/2 c AP flour
1/3 c homemade corn meal
3/4 c sugar
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 c frozen blueberries
1/2 tsp salt
1 c buttermilk
2 large eggs beaten lightly
2 large lemons zested
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 stick butter melted and cooled

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Spray or butter your 12 count muffin / cupcake pan and set aside.

Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and frozen blueberries in a bowl and set aside.  Combine the buttermilk, eggs, lemon zest, vanilla extract, and butter in a bowl.  Add to the flour mixture and fold until just combined; DO NOT OVER MIX.

Spoon the batter in prepared muffin pan and bake in oven for 20 to 25 min or until golden brown and a toothpick placed in center comes out clean.  Place on a cooling rack for 5 min and remove the muffins.

Combine the glaze ingredients and add more lemon juice if too thick.  Top the muffins with the glaze and add the candied lemon peel before the glaze sets.

Gingered Bran Fruit Muffins
This is actually a revised version of a recipe that I found in my mom's Better Homes and Gardens.  I like that this recipe is simple and that you can use whatever fruit is in season.  It also lends itself to fresh or dehydrated fruit.

2 c AP flour
1 c packed brown sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c whole bran cereal
1 1/2 c whole raw milk
1 1/2 c chopped fresh or dehydrated fruit (seasonal fruit is always best; I used dehydrated KMK apricots)
2 eggs lightly beaten
3 Tbsp canola oil

2 Tbsp almonds
candied lemon peels, diced
candied ginger, diced

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Spray or butter your 12 count muffin / cupcake pan and set aside.

Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, ground ginger, and salt in a bowl, make a well in the middle, and set aside.

Combine the cereal and milk in a bowl and allow to sit 5 min.  Add the apricots ( or fruit of choice), eggs, and oil and stir to combine.  Add to the well of flour mixture and fold to combine.  Again, do not over mix.

Spoon mixture into your muffin pan and top with the almonds, lemon peels, and candied ginger.  Bake in the oven for 20 min or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Homemade Mochas
Fresh brewed coffee
Cocoa powder (Dutch processed preferred)
Raw milk

Place 1 Tbsp of the cocoa powder on the bottom of your coffee cup.  Top with coffee and fill cup half way.  Stir to combine.  Top with the milk and once again stir.


Saturday, July 3, 2010

What to do with your CSA part 1

Yellow Gazpacho with Fresh Relish

I get asked what do I do with my CSA, so in an effort to answer that I've decided to blog for a week with the meals that we make from our box.  I really enjoy being part of  The Farmer's Daughter CSA because I know my farmers, the food that I get is top notch and organic, and it allows me to be really creative in the kitchen.  All of the ingredients are organic unless otherwise noted.  This lovely soup was both our lunch and dinner which I served with sour dough havarti cheese toast.


Fresh Relish (Casa Clark original recipe)
2 early girl tomatoes, diced
2 carrots finely chopped
purple basil leaves, cut into ribbons
mint leaves, cut into ribbons
Kingsburg gold tomatoes, halved
diced red onion (this onion also goes into the gazpacho so don't use too much)
extra virgin olive oil

I placed all of the ingredients into a bowl, swirled with some extra virgin olive oil, and seasoned with salt to taste.  I didn't give you exact amounts because I didn't measure and just threw it all in.  You'll figure it out.

Yellow Gazpacho (Casa Clark original recipe)


I used what I had in the box and left overs from last week's box to make this.  I weighed the ingredients and am providing you with exact measurements of what went into the soup.  The pic is of the vege landscape before they were blended into creamy and refreshing goodness.

2 lb 3.5 oz of Carolina gold heirloom tomatoes, quartered
1 lb 3.5 oz purple bells, sliced
1 lb cucumbers (these were store bought)
1 red onion diced (the onion used in the relish; I hadn't used too much of it so threw it in)
2 cloves of garlic quartered
8 oz baby carrots
1 lb tomatillos husked, washed, and halved or quartered
9.2 oz apricots (weight with pits inside) pitted and halved
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1/2 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil

I used my blender for this because I have one that is awesome, but feel free to use a food processor.
I blended in batches and once I placed some of the veges into the blender I added a bit of olive oil and a splash of water to make the veges easier to blend.  Once they're blended pour them into a sieve over a bowl.  Fold the vege pulp until no more juice is extracted, repeat with the rest of the veges.  On your last batch be sure to blend for a full minute and just incorporate into the soup without straining.  Mix to combine.  Add the vinegar, lemon juice, and season to taste.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.  Place into bowls and top with the relish.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lemon Cornmeal Cake with Lemon Glaze and Crushed-Blueberry Sauce

I made this DELICIOUS cake for our Dad's on Fathers Day and wanted to put it on the blog because it was so very good.  I also made a corn ice cream to go with it, which complemented the cake beautifully.  Cake from Bon Appetit April 2009 and the ice cream is a Casa Clark original.

1 1/2 c (packed) powdered sugar, sifted
3 Tbsp (or more) fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 c AP flour
1/3 c yellow cornmeal (I used my homemade cornmeal)
3/4 c sugar
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c buttermilk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 large lemons zested
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter, melted, cooled
Crushed - Blueberry Sauce

Line the bottom of a 9" cake pan with parchment paper and butter.  Preheat oven to 350.

Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

Combine the buttermilk, eggs, zest, vanilla, and butter in a bowl and add to the flour mixture.  Don't mix together, but just gently fold the liquid into the dry ingredients and stop once everything is moist.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.  Bake for 30 min or until sides pull away a bit.
Make the glaze by combining the sugar and lemon juice together until smooth.  If it is too thick add more lemon juice to achieve the consistency you want.

Immediately run knife around edges, place cooling rack on top, and with oven mitts on invert the cake onto the rack.  Add the glaze and spread to within 1/2" of the edge.  Cool Completely.  Top with Blueberry Sauce when served.

Crushed Blueberry Sauce
3 c fresh or frozen blueberries, thawed, and divided in half
2/3 c golden brown sugar
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 large lemon zested

Combine 1 1/2 c of blueberries, sugar, lemon juice, and zest in a sauce pan on cook over med heat until it comes to a simmer.  Reduce heat to med - low and continue cooking until the berries are very soft and liquid is syrupy, stirring often, about 7 min.  Remove from heat; add remaining blueberries.  Using the back of a spoon gently press the blueberries onto the side of the pan and crush.  Can be made up to 2 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator.

Corn Ice Cream (Casa Clark original recipe)

1 1/2 c heavy cream
1 1/2 c raw milk
1 c sugar
4 ears of sweet corn, kernels removed, and pulped (scrape with the back of knife once the kernels have been removed)
12 egg yolks
1/2 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract

Bring the cream, milk, sugar, and corn to a simmer in a pot over medium heat.  Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks in stand mixer on medium speed for 4 min.  Temper the eggs with 1/3 of the milk mixture and add to the pot.  Continue cooking until thickened.  Strain the mixture into a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap (directly on the custard), and place in ice bath.  Cool completely.  Once cooled add the nutmeg and vanilla and follow manufacturers instructions on your ice cream maker.  Freeze at least 4 hours and enjoy.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wheat and Oat Pancakes

The kids didn't have school today, so Chloe and Gabe had these for breakfast. They loved them. Why use a mix when it's so easy to make at home.  A Vege Times Magazine delight. Enjoy!

3/4 c quick cooking oats (old fashioned ok too)
1 1/2 c + 2 Tbsp well shaken buttermilk, divided (3/4 c batches)
3/4 c whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 Tbsp packed brown sugar

bananas or other fresh fruit for garnish.

Soak oats in 3/4 c buttermilk for 10 mins (if using old fashioned soak for 15).

Meanwhile, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl.

Stir egg, butter, brown sugar, remaining 3/4 c + 2 Tbsp buttermilk, and oat mixture into dry ingredients until just combined.

Heat griddle to 275 and lightly brush with melted butter. Working in batches pour batter onto griddle and cook until browned and cooked through.

Bon appetit.

Garden News

I had to get out of the house this morning after my disastrous and traumatic first bout on Foodie Fights.  Although the Garden is not big and is not located in one specific spot, it felt good to feed the plants and see what new and exciting food is growing in our back yard.  So far it's been going well and for next year we plan on removing those large decorative rocks and making some raised beds.  Some of the lovely things that I saw and that made me feel better are:

Our first broccoli is coming out.  Now, I went into this without actually knowing if broccoli is a good summer crop.  If you have any input please share.  I  am sure that I'll have to keep an eye on it to ensure that it doesn't bolt.

The Black Russian Heirlooms are flowering.  I never actually buy the seeds for these guys, just buy the tomatoes at the Farmer's Market, cut it in half, squeeze out the pulp onto a sieve, clean everything out except the seeds, dry them in the sun, and plant.  It's awesome.  I hope that I am able to do that from my own crop.

This year we have 15 different Heirloom tomatoes, squash, peas, broccoli, cantaloupe, peppers, sun flowers,  radishes, chard, kale, and carrots.  Although it sounds like a lot, it's in such small quantities that I doubt it'll make a dent on our KMK budget.   Regardless, it's been a fun experience for the family and I; especially today, also a nice escape from my thoughts.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Braised Dandelion and Parmesan Ice Cream - Oh my!

I want to start off by saying that I apologize that mine is not a true "foodie" blog, yet.  My blog was started so that my 10 year old daughter would have a place to go to find the recipes of dishes that mom makes and that she loves.  I've posted recipes from others that have been tried and successful.  Although I am a  good cook, I've never taken the time or made the effort to write down how I make a meal on the fly.  This lack of motivation has made it impossible for me to replicate exactly the truly yummy food I make.  This challenge made me do just that.  I am hoping to better chronicle my culinary adventures moving forward and making this blog truly my own.

Having said that....let's move onto my first Foodie Fights entry.

After seeing the ingredients I instantly thought Italian and then came to realization that the other fighters might have too.  All I knew was that I wanted to grill, that I would be making this meal for my book club, and that I wanted to make it as seasonal as possible.  Then it hit me, arepas (Central American corn cakes)!  Once that decision was made everything else fell into place.  The meal that I present for your consideration is grilled arepas  with braised dandelion greens and Parmesan sauce, green salad (which did include dandelion greens), and Parmesan ice cream with sweet dandelion and mint pesto.

A special Thank you to our CSA, The Farmer's Daughter, of KMK Farms for providing me with the last of the dandelion greens this season.  I truly love you guys and the extraordinary organic nourishment you provide my family and I.  Ethan, thank you for thinking that this might be a fun outlet for me and making me aware of this site. Finally, to the lovely ladies that I call friends, you were all such good sports about this. Thanks for stimulating conversation and debate, for good wine, and delicious food.  Long live the Superlatives!

Grilled Arepas (Casa Clark original recipe)

These sweet little cakes were a nice counter point to the bitter greens.  They get a nice crust and are still delicately soft on the inside.

2 c fresh sweet corn kernels
3/4 c heated water
1 3/4 c instant corn masa
1/2 c homemade sweet corn meal
2 tsp sour cream
2 oz grated Parmesan
2 Tbsp melted unsalted butter

Process the kernels.  Then add the water, sour cream, and butter and process to combine.  Place masa and corn meal into bowl and add the kernel mixture and Parmesan.  Combine with your hands and form into a ball.  Separate into 16 pieces and place on rimmed baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Cover with a damp kitchen towel and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

Get your grill ready.  Flatten the balls with the palm of your hand and spray with grilling spray.  Grill each arepa 3 min per side.  Cool to room temp.  Enjoy.

Braised Dandelion with cranberries (Casa Clark original recipe)

I really wanted to play with sweet to help counter balance the bitter.  This was REALLY good and when tasted alone reminded R and I of a slow simmered tomato sauce.

2 large yellow onions
4 garlic cloves, pressed
8.1 oz of dandelion greens (I only used the tender top and discarded the bottom stems)
2.9 oz of sorrel, stemmed
1/2 c cranberries
1 large lemon juiced
2 c white wine (we used Chardonnay)
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1/8 c of sugar

I stated by cooking the onions in a Dutch oven until they were caramelized over med heat.  I then added the garlic and cooked for about 1 min or so.  Added the greens and salted a bit; I stirred until they began to wilt.  I added the rest of the ingredients and let it cook for 10 to 15 min until the wine had reduced and made a sauce.

Parmesan cheese sauce (Casa Clark original recipe)

This sauce has a whooping Parmesan punch.  It went well with the sweet pillowy arepas and the sweet and savory braised greens.

3 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 Tbsp AP flour
pinch of salt
some grinds of fresh pepper
1 1/2 c raw milk
8 oz of grated Parmesan cheese

 In a saucepan over med heat melt the butter and add the flour.  Whisk and cook for a couple of minutes.  Add the salt and pepper and whisk to combine.  Slowly add the milk while whisking and continue to cook until thickened.  Remove from the heat and add Parmesan.  Continue whisking until combined and melted.  If not using immediately cover the sauce with some plastic wrap directly onto the sauce so it doesn't get a"skin" on it.

Green Salad with dandelion greens
I just made a very simple salad with a salad mix from my favorite CSA and augmented it with some arugula and dandelion.  I topped my salad with a homemade lemon dressing, tomatoes, pine nuts, and some Ricotta salata.  I know, I know.  I should have probably used Parmesan but at the time this sounded better.

Parmesan Ice Cream (Casa Clark original recipe)

This is the recipe that some of the ladies wanted, so here it is.  Easy custard based ice cream that is easy to make and even easier to eat.  I've gotten into the habit of saving the rinds of our Parmesan in the freezer so that I can make minestrone but they work for ice cream too.

12 egg yolks
3 c raw cream 
3 c raw milk
1 c sugar
large pinch of salt
7 oz of Parmesan rinds
2 Tbsp Lemon cello
1/4 tsp of fresh grated nutmeg

Place the yolks in stand mixer

In a pot bring the milk, cream, sugar, salt, and Parmesan rinds to a simmer over medium heat. While the milk in warming beat the yolks on med speed in your stand mixer for 4 min. Once the milk mixture has simmered remove the rinds with tongs and discard the rinds.  Add 1/4 of the warmed milk into the bowl of mixer and temper the yolks.  Stir the yolks a bit and then slowly return to the pot.  Continue heating and stirring until is is thickened.

Once thickened, strain the custard into a clean bowl with a fine mesh sieve, place plastic wrap directly onto the custard, and place into an ice bath.  Allow to cool completely ( I usually do this the day before and place the custard into the fridge overnight).

Set up your ice cream maker and before adding the custard to it, add the lemon cello and nutmeg.  Follow the manufacturer's instructions and place into freezer for at least 4 hours.  Enjoy!

Sweet Dandelion and Mint pesto (Casa Clark original recipe)

This "pesto" was soooooo good.  It was just enough to make the dessert come together.  It is sweet but not too much.

1/4 c simple syrup ( I like to use the ratio of 1 c sugar to 1 c water)
2/3 c of loosely packed dandelion, rimmed
1/3 c of loosely packed mint
the zest of 1 large lemon
1/2 of a large lemon juiced
1/4 c pine nuts, toasted and cooled
1/4 c pecan halves, toasted and cooled

Combine all of the ingredients into the bowl of your food processor or blender and process until it is smooth.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Chloe's Birthday Granola

Per request I am posting the granola recipe that I used for Chloe's party.  It was super good and I noted where I made some substitutions.  It also made DELICIOUS cereal the next morning.

Granola  (Ala Alton Brown)

3 c rolled oats (we used organic of course)
1 c slivered almonds (didn't have so I didn't use)
1 c cashews ( I used 2 c since I didn't add the almonds)
3/4 c shredded sweet coconut
1/4 c + 2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
1/4 c + 2 Tbsp real maple syrup
1/4 c vegetable oil ( I used canola but you could use a light olive oil)
3/4 tsp salt
1 c raisins ( I like to use craisins instead.  I used 1/2 c strawberry craisins and 1/2 c cherry craisins but regular craisins would work too.)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, coconut, and brown sugar.

In a separate bowl, combine the maple syrup, oil and salt.  Combine both mixtures and pour onto 2 sheet pans.  Cook for 1 hour and 15 min, stirring every 15 min to achieve an even color.

Remove from the oven and transfer to a large bowl.  Add the raisins (craisins) and mix until evenly distributed.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

We made the paper

I sound like a total idiot, but made the paper anyway.  I am not the best interviewee.  I wish I had the chance to write an essay about the marvels of raw milk.  Perhaps, at a later date.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Fenugreek Fan

When I went to pick up my box this Saturday from Kyle (KMK Farms Kingsburg CA) he suggested that I try fenugreek, which is an herb that I have never heard of.  After reading up about it online I know that it's great for nursing moms, improves digestion, helps with inflammation, and most importantly is used in Indian cuisine (thanks for that info Kyle).  I decided to make an Indian inspired dinner thinking that R would return from the Bay tonight, but no hubby yet.  Since C and I are fairly early eaters, we had this for dinner.

The recipe that inspired the dinner came from this blog and is called Alu Methi.

I try to be a little more creative in the kitchen when R is gone for two reasons: 1.) I've already convinced my husband that I'm a good cook and 2.) C is not all that convinced.  The recipe was easy but I tweaked it by adding cumin seeds to hot oil as well as a bit of curry.  I would have gone hog wild with the seasoning, but C is not a huge fan of spice.  I also decided that I should practice my naan making skills and added the fenugreek to the naan as well.

Fenugreek seeds are actually used in most curry powders so the flavor is vaguely familiar and yet distinct.  It was a bit overwhelming in the potatoes, so to compete with it, I wilted some kale, chard, and sorrel with some garlic and olive oil and showered them in some fresh lemon juice.   The pairing was lovely.

The fenugreek shined in the naan.  It helped give the naan a bit of smoky flavor that the authentic naan has, without being overpowering.  I used Peter Reinhart's Crust and Crumb: Master Formulas for serious Bread Bakers naan recipe with amazing results.  It was very reminiscent of Indian, but because it lacked some of the spice, could be improved upon.  C and I ate well tonight.

Monday, March 1, 2010

TED Talks with Jaime Oliver


Jaime Oliver doing a TED talk about the importance of teaching our kids about REAL food.  Thanks Kristi.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Breakfast Pizza


Last night I made a pasta with broccoli raab  and great northern beans, and thought that I would make a pizza with some of the left overs.  This lovely breakfast pizza has vitamins K, A, C, D, E, manganese, vitamins B6 and B12, dietary fiber, folate, potassium, iron, and iodine just to name a few.

I made my pizza dough with bread dough actually and shaped it into a rectangle.  I then topped it with olive oil, mashed beans with rosemary and thyme (for the sauce), some kale and beet greens, fresh mozzarella, potatoes and an over easy egg.  I decided not to cook the egg with the pizza because I don't like my eggs overcooked and prefer them to be creamy.  

I like my crust with some color but I still want it to be on the chewy side, so I have a trick for accomplishing that which I reveal after Thursdays' dinner at the Duttons.  

The egg just made it a homerun.  Super good and easy to do when you have awesome ingredients.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Can you believe this?

 Since we made the decision a year ago to do our best to eat local organic and sustainable food, we've been eating better than ever.  We've been doing a CSA (community supported agriculture) for over a year and have fallen in love with the idea of buying directly from our local farmers and eating seasonally.  We recently changed CSA's and wanted to share the good news.

Let me start by saying that I have a personal bias anyway towards KMK farm in Kingsburg CA.  Kyle and his family remind me of this famous Thomas Jefferson quote: " Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God, whose breasts he has made his peculiar deposit for substantial and genuine virture."  If you ever get the opportunity to tour KMK farm you'll know what I mean.  The respect and love of the earth and for the food it bears is overwhelmingly present in all who work  to provide my family and others with soul nourishing delights.  So when I heard that Kristi was starting their CSA I knew that I wanted to be part of it.

I love this CSA because I get to choose what we get in it.  For our first box we ordered: baby lettuce heads, broccoli raab, fennel, parsley, dill, kale, romanesco cauliflower, swiss chard, stir fry mix, sorrel, thyme,  watermelon radish and two dozen eggs.  I was so elated when I saw the box that I couldn't stop smiling.  Look at what we got!  Insane.  We made a frittata  for breakfast with the chard and some scallions that I bought this morning from Kyle and I plan on a big salad for dinner.  I highly recommend that you contact Kristi at: and sign up.  You'll be all smiles too.