9.30.14 Baklava Baked French Toast

I’ve always been a big fan of breakfast. Especially a nice, leisurely breakfast. You know, complete with hot beverages, newspapers spread out everywhere, and lots of general lounging around. And what better for a breakfast such as this, than a deliciously hot, golden, pan of baked french toast, fresh out of the oven. Because I wasn’t joking about the lounging around part. Why stand over a stove, flipping toast on the griddle when you can just make the oven do all of your work for you? Let me just say, whoever invented oven french toast was a pure genius.

DSC03232.jpg

The other day, I had a craving for just such a breakfast. I was getting ready to french toastify, when I was struck with a genius idea. You see, for some reason, I’ve had baklava on the brain (I blame the huge jar of honey staring down at me every time I open up my spice cabinet). And while I love baklava, I was just not in the mood to fiddle around with phyllo dough. But then it struck me - baklava...in french toast form. Not only would it be far easier to pull off than actual baklava, but I could get away with eating it for breakfast. Sold.

DSC03250.jpg

Imagine - thick slices of challah bread, soaked in cinnamon honey custard, topped with a spiced walnut crumble, and baked until golden. And of course, finished with a generous drizzle of warm honey syrup to truly baklavize it. Fantastic? I think yes.  And best of all, like most oven french toast, you can make the majority of it the night before. That’s right, slice up your bread, whisk up your custard, mix them together, and forget about it until morning. Then it’s just a quick spin with the food processor to whip up your walnut crumble, and 45 minutes later, you’re enjoying one pretty amazing breakfast. Throw in a cup of hot tea and a couple of perfectly ripe pears to round everything out, and that’s my kind of breakfast.

DSC03261.jpg

Baklava Baked French Toast

serves 8

I made this with walnuts, since that’s the sort of baklava I’m used to making (okay, let’s be honest, I only had walnuts), but if one was feeling daring, pistachios would make a deliciously unique topping. Give it a try, and invite me over for brunch.

french toast:

  • 1 pound loaf challah bread, preferably stale, sliced into 1” thick slices
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp salt

walnut crumble:

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 4 Tbsp cold butter, cut into pieces
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cloves
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp salt

honey syrup:

  • ¾ cup honey
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 large cinnamon stick
  • 4 whole cloves

1. If your bread is not already stale, lay the bread slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes until they crisp up slightly. Or, if you plan ahead, you can leave the bread slices lying out on your kitchen counter overnight to help speed up the staling process.

2. Grease a 9x13 baking dish, and arrange bread slices in overlapping rows in the dish.

3. Whisk together the milk, cream, eggs, honey, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt. Pour over bread in pan, making sure all of the bread is well coated (it helps to push down on the bread with a spatula to help it soak up more of the custard).

4. Cover pan tightly with foil, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

5. After french toast has had time to chill and soak, remove from the fridge, and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

6. While oven heats, prepare the walnut crumble by combining the walnuts, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt in a food processor and pulsing until nuts are coarsely chopped (about 20-30 seconds).

7. Sprinkle walnut crumble mixture evenly atop the soaked bread, re-cover tightly with the foil, and place in the oven. Bake covered for 20 minutes, then remove foil and continue to bake until top is golden brown and walnuts are toasty - about 25 minutes more.

8. While french toast bakes, prepare the syrup. Combine the honey, water, cinnamon stick, and cloves in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, uncovered for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and allow to cool slightly, about 10-15 minutes. Remove the cloves and cinnamon stick before serving. (hint: if you’re planning on a super lovely, lazy morning, you can make the syrup the night before, refrigerate it, and just re-warm in before serving)

9. When french toast has finished baking, remove from oven, cool slightly, then serve hot topped with honey syrup.

DSC03268.jpg

9.26.14 Pork Schnitzel with Beer Braised Red Cabbage

Have you ever looked in your fridge and found that you were completely inundated with cabbage? It’s a problem I’m currently finding myself in the midst of. It all began recently when I was feeling the urge to make some slaw. Of course, I figured my slaw would be much more interesting if I threw in not just one type of cabbage, but both red and green varieties. Big mistake. Word to the wise - never buy two cabbages for a recipe that only requires less than one. The upshot is, I currently have about 1.5 cabbages residing in the fridge. Add to that the fact that another cabbage showed up in my CSA last week. You can see my problem.

DSC03183.jpg

Clearly I had to figure out exactly how I was going to put a dent in this overwhelming amount of cabbage. After all, to waste it would be a terrible thing. But let’s be honest, there’s only so much slaw a person can eat. What to make of the rest? Ultimately, I decided upon braised cabbage. Cooked down slowly in beer and onions with some punchy apple cider vinegar and caraway seed for good measure. Not too shabby. Of course, no matter how tasty it is, one cannot subsist on braised cabbage alone. And in my opinion, there’s no better accompaniment than a crisp, golden pork schnitzel. Trust me on this one.

DSC03193.jpg

Pork Schnitzel with Beer Braised Red Cabbage

serves 4

Hint: To flatten your pork chops nicely with minimal mess, place them in a heavy duty freezer bag, lay the bag on the counter, and roll them flat with a large rolling pin. The thinner you can get them, the quicker they’ll cook. Another bonus of a super thin schnitzel is maximum surface area for the crispy coating.

cabbage:

2 Tbsp butter

½ medium onion, chopped

1 1/2 tsp caraway seeds

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

½ large red cabbage, thinly sliced (about 10 cups)

3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 12 oz can light beer (I used the one and only Grain Belt Premium)

schnitzel:

4 boneless pork chops or cutlets, about ¼ lb each, pounded to about ¼” thick

salt and pepper

⅓ cup flour

2 eggs

1 tsp brown mustard

¾ cup panko breadcrumbs

¼ cup canola oil, divided

lemon wedges and chopped fresh parsley for serving

1. Start the cabbage: Heat the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Once melted, add the onion, caraway seed, salt, and pepper, and cook until onion becomes soft and translucent, about 3-4 minutes.

2. Add the cabbage and cook, stirring, until cabbage begins to wilt, about 2-3 minutes. Add the cider vinegar and beer, and allow them to come to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. While cabbage is braising, set up to make your schnitzel. Place the flour in a shallow dish or bowl. In a second bowl, whisk together the eggs and mustard until smooth. Place the panko breadcrumbs in a third shallow dish or bowl. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Season the pork cutlets on both sides with salt and pepper.

4. Take one pork chop and dredge it in the flour until fully coated. Dip into the egg mixture, followed by the breadcrumbs, making sure that it gets fully coated with crumbs. Transfer to parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining pork chops.

5. Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a pan over medium-high heat. While oil heats, check the cabbage - it should be nice and tender. Season to taste with additional salt if desired, give it a good stir, remove the cover, and continue to cook on low to reduce the liquid while you fry your schnitzel.

6. Once oil is heated, place two of the cutlets in the pan and cook, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides (about 2-4 minutes per side). Once cooked, place schnitzel on a plate lined with paper towels to sop up any excess grease, heat the remaining 2 Tbsp oil in the pan, and cook the other two cutlets in the same way.

7. Serve schnitzel hot with a squeeze of fresh lemon, a sprinkle of chopped parsley, and plenty of braised cabbage on the side.

9.23.14 White Cheddar and Scallion Biscuits with Hot Sauce Butter

A good biscuit is a beautiful thing. You know what I mean. A hot, flaky, buttery delight, fresh from the oven is hard to resist. And whether you top it with melty butter, sticky-sweet jam, syrupy honey, or really, anything else, one just cannot discount the marvelousness that is the humble biscuit.     

DSC03147.jpg

As amazingly delicious as a good homemade biscuit can be, they’re surprisingly easy to make. No really. A biscuit fiend like myself can easily whip up a batch, sans recipe, in hardly any time at all. That’s because biscuit dough is about as easy as they come - 3 parts flour to 2 parts liquid (buttermilk, duh), to 1 part butter. Obviously, you’ve got to throw in some baking powder and salt as well for ultimate fluffiness and flavor, but really that’s it. Easy peasy. Mix it up, roll it out, fold it up a few times, cut out your biscuits, and pop them in the oven. Most of your time spent making these guys will be waiting for them to come out of the oven, and trying not to drool too much while you do so.

DSC03156.jpg

Yes, the biscuit is a beautiful thing, but these biscuits in particular are exceptionally wonderful. Why might you ask? Well firstly, let’s consider the undeniable fact that pretty much anything can always be just a little bit tastier with the addition of cheese. This has been proven - don’t ask questions. Secondly, some lovely additional savory notes in the form of fresh farmer’s market scallions are never a bad thing. And finally, three words. Hot. Sauce. Butter. When you’ve spent your life trying to choose between hot sauce or butter as a biscuit topping, the pure genius of combining the two into one übercondiment is utterly mindblowing. Boom.

White Cheddar and Scallion Biscuits with Hot Sauce Butter

makes 6 large biscuits

The rolling and folding may seem a little fiddly, but trust me, it takes almost no time and the result is big, billowy, biscuits with lots of flaky layers. If you prefer to simply roll out the dough and cut out your biscuits with a round cutter or glass, feel free. Me, I’m sticking with the layers.

biscuits:

  • 1 ¾ c flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, chilled
  • ¾ cup cold buttermilk
  • ¾ cup finely grated sharp white cheddar cheese (I recommend Hook’s 2 year)
  • ¼ cup chopped scallions (green part only)

butter:

  • 2 Tbsp butter, softened
  • ½ tsp (or more to taste) hot sauce

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper until well mixed.

3. Cut the butter into very small pieces and add to the bowl. Using your hands, work the butter into the flour until the pieces are small and the mixture has a grainy texture.

4. Stir in the buttermilk, grated cheddar, and scallions and mix until a cohesive dough has formed.

5. Place dough on a well floured surface and roll out into a large square (about 1 foot x 1 foot). Fold the dough into thirds crosswise, by bringing the left side into the middle, followed by the right side. Now fold into thirds again lengthwise, by bringing the top into the middle, followed by the bottom. If you aren’t thoroughly confused at this point, you should have a small square of dough with several layers.

6. Roll the square of dough out top to bottom until you have a slightly bigger rectangle. Use a sharp knife to cut into 6 equal pieces. Place biscuits on a greased baking sheet, then transfer to the oven.

7. Bake at 400 degrees until biscuits are a lovely golden brown, about 25 minutes.

8. While biscuits bake, make the butter: mix together the softened butter with the hot sauce until a smooth consistency is achieved. Add additional hot sauce to taste if more heat is desired.

9. Serve biscuits warm with hot sauce butter. Try not to eat the entire batch by yourself.

DSC03170.jpg

9.19.14 Roasted Delicata Squash Salad with Maple Bacon Vinaigrette

You know fall has officially begun when you start receiving winter squash in your CSA share. Just last week, my share included, among many other delicious veggies, two lovely little delicata squashes. I know this is only the precursor to many more squashes to come, but I couldn’t help being excited about these little guys. It didn’t take me long to get cooking with them. After pureeing one of my delightful delicatas to bake into squash bread (hint: they are also a perfect replacement for pumpkin in these fall-centric cinnamon rolls), I still had one left. And with a fall chill in the air, I can never pass up an opportunity to turn on the oven. So obviously, some squash roasting was going to go down.

DSC03114.jpg
DSC03116.jpg

If you’ve never experienced the gloriousness that is delicata squash before, well, you’re in for a treat. Sweet, satisfying, and with super tender skin, it’s ideal for roasting. And best of all, no peeling required! I sliced up my squash, tossed it with some olive oil, and roasted it until I was left with sweet, crispy little crescents of squashy goodness. And then? Well, quite honestly, I wasn’t sure. I mean, I could easily have devoured the entire pan as they were. But, while delicious, a pan of squash is not necessarily the most satisfying of meals. Of course, if instead, one were to toss said roasted squash with some greens, crunchy walnuts, creamy blue cheese, and a warm sweet/salty maple bacon vinaigrette, well now we’re talking.

DSC03128.jpg

Roasted Delicata Squash Salad with Maple Bacon Vinaigrette

serves 4

  • 1 medium delicata squash (about 1 ½ pounds), halved, seeded, and cut crosswise into ¼ inch thick slices
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped crosswise into small pieces
  • 1 ½ Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp whole grain mustard
  • dash of hot sauce
  • 5-6 oz mixed salad greens
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 2 oz crumbled blue cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper for serving

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Toss the squash slices with the olive oil, salt, and pepper until evenly coated. Spread squash slices in an even layer on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees until they begin to turn golden brown with crispy edges, about 35-40 minutes.

3. When squash is nearly done roasting, start the dressing. Place the bacon pieces in a pan over medium heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until bacon pieces are crispy.

4. Remove bacon pieces from pan, and transfer to a plate lined with paper towel. Carefully pour the bacon grease into a heatproof bowl or jar.

5. To the bacon grease, add the maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, mustard, and a dash of hot sauce. Whisk together until well combined.

6. In a large bowl, toss the salad greens with the dressing, divide evenly between 4 plates.

7. Divide warm roasted squash, crispy bacon pieces, walnuts, and blue cheese evenly between all 4 salads. Top each with a bit of freshly ground black pepper, and serve immediately.

9.16.14 Green Chile Pork

Now that cooler fall weather seems to be rolling in, it’s time to return to fall cooking. And while summer cooking is magnificent, there’s something to be said for being able to get away with making hearty, warming, braises and stews. You know, stuff you wouldn’t dare to make during those soaring summer temps. But on a cool fall day, it’s hard to beat the aroma of slow-cooked goodness emanating from your kitchen.

Case in point: chili. I’ve always been a fan of a good bowl of chili, and it only seemed appropriate to make some, considering the fact that the farmers markets are practically overflowing with chile peppers of all shapes, sizes and colors. Let’s add this to the fact that there may be no better food to eat while watching countless Badger and Packer football games than a nice bowl of chili. Obviously it seemed that making up a big pot was inevitable.

Now I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. There are approximately fifty gajillion ways to make chili. And since this was my first chili-making endeavor of the season, I knew I had to make something pretty fantastic. Something that wasn’t just your everyday, run-of-the-mill chili. So here you have it: green chile pork. Technically, a chili, but also so much more.

DSC03092.jpg

The beauty of this recipe is that you can use it for so many things. Of course, I love to eat it in traditional chili fashion; straight up from a bowl, topped with a drizzle of hot sauce, a squeeze of lime, a smattering of fresh cilantro, and a couple of warm tortillas to sop it all up. But let’s not discount the other myriad uses for this delightful dish - piled atop nachos, stuffed into quesadillas, rolled up into enchiladas - really the possibilities are endless. And when it comes to pure aromatic bliss - well, let’s just say, your house is going to smell absolutely amazing with a pot of this stuff simmering away on your stovetop.

Green Chile Pork

serves about 6

  • 5 anaheim chile peppers, halved and seeded
  • 3 poblano chile peppers, halved and seeded
  • ¾ lb tomatillos, husked and roughly chopped
  • 1 14.5 oz can chicken broth
  • 2 lb pork shoulder, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • ¼ c flour
  • 1 ½ tsp salt, divided
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp oil or bacon fat, divided
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chile powder
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper powder (or more to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • Juice of 1 lime (about 2 Tbsp)
  • Fresh cilantro, warm tortillas, lime wedges and hot sauce for serving

1. Roast green chiles: place anaheim and poblano peppers, skin side up, in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with foil. Place baking sheet on top rack in oven and broil on high until peppers are blackened and blistering, about 10-12 minutes.

2. Immediately transfer peppers to a medium bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let tomatoes and peppers sit inside the bowl for 5-10 minutes (this steams them, which will make the skins much easier to remove).

3. Peel charred skins off of peppers, discard skins. Chop peppers into thin strips and set aside.

4. While peppers are roasting/steaming, blend tomatillos and chicken broth using a food processor or blender until a smooth consistency is achieved. Set tomatillo mixture aside.

5. In a large bowl, toss the chopped pork shoulder with the flour, 1 tsp salt, and ½ tsp pepper, until pork pieces are evenly coated.

6. Heat 2 tsp of the oil or bacon fat in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat, and once hot, add half of the pork pieces in a single layer. Cook, 1-2 minutes per side, until pork is browned on all sides. Remove pork from pot and place on a paper-towel lined plate.

7. Heat another 2 tsp of the oil or bacon fat in the pot and repeat step 6 with the remaining pork pieces. Once browned, transfer to plate as well.

8. Add the final 2 tsp of oil or bacon fat to the pot, add the onion, garlic, cumin, chile powder, ½ tsp salt, and cayenne pepper. Cook until onions are soft and translucent, about 3-4 minutes.

9. Add the chopped roasted green chiles, and cook 1 additional minute.

10. Add the tomatillo mixture, tomato paste, lime juice, pork, and 1 cup water. Stir to combine.

11. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

12. After 2 hours, pork should be very tender and shreddable. Break pork apart with a large fork, and stir. Season to taste with salt. You can serve as is, or continue to cook, uncovered, for an additional 10 minutes for a thicker consistency, if desired.

13. Ladle into bowls and serve with fresh cilantro, warm tortillas, lime wedges and hot sauce.

9.9.14 Peach and Toasted Almond Crumble with Mascarpone Whipped Cream

It’s late summer, and while the weather is warm, there’s the beginning of a crisp fall edge to it. And I currently have in my possession a number of large, golden, juicy, ripe peaches. Obviously, it’s time to make some sort of a dessert. You know, the one with the fruit, and the crumbly, buttery, oat-filled streusel topping - what’s that called? A crisp? A crumble? A cobbler? Let’s be honest, I can never keep these crazy fruit desserts straight. Especially when you start getting into things like buckles, grunts, and pandowdies. Yikes. Which is how I spent more time than I’d like to admit attempting to put an end to my utter confusion. After much investigation, here’s what I’ve discovered: most everyone is just as confused as I am.

DSC03005.jpg
DSC03010.jpg

Let’s start with the cobbler - it seems straightforward enough. Fruit, topped with dropped mounds of biscuit dough, which when baked, resembles the world’s most delicious little cobblestones. Easy. Got it. So when is a cobbler not a cobbler? When it’s cooked on top of the stove instead of in the oven. The biscuit dough is steamed, rather than baked, and lo and behold, you have a grunt. Or a slump. With me so far?

A pandowdy is like a cobbler, but after you bake it (or even part-way through baking), you break up the topping and stir it into the fruit. A buckle has a more cake-like batter, with fruit in the center. When baked, the fruit sinks and the whole thing appears to buckle inward.

As for crisps and crumbles, some would say these are exactly the same thing. Others will argue that if your topping contains oats, it’s a crisp. And if that’s not confusing enough, there are still others that would tell you that a crisp containing oats is really a crumble. Oh, but if there are no oats and the crumbs and fruit are stacked in multiple layers, it’s definitely a brown betty. I think. So there you have it. Clear as mud.

DSC03017.jpg
DSC03025.jpg

The fact of the matter is, whether or not I can accurately name the delightful dessert that just came out of my oven, it’s still pretty freaking delicious. Late summer peaches, spices, brandy, and brown sugar, baked until bubbly beneath a buttery brown crust of toasted oats and almonds. Throw on a dollop of whipped mascarpone cream spiked with honey, and I don’t care what you call it.

DSC03054.jpg
DSC03042.jpg

Peach and Toasted Almond Crumble with Mascarpone Whipped Cream

serves 6-8

Fruit:

  • 2 lbs peaches (about 4-5 large), thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp brandy
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • pinch of salt

Topping:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • 4 Tbsp butter, melted
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt

Whipped Cream:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup mascarpone cheese, softened
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • ½ tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. To prepare the fruit, mix the peaches, brown sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, brandy, cornstarch, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and salt in a large bowl. Let sit while you prepare the topping.

3. Heat a large pan over medium high heat. Once hot, add the oats and almonds, and cook, stirring frequently, until toasted golden brown and fragrant, about 8 minutes (keep a close watch, and stir often, as they can burn easily if left too long).

4. Combine the toasted oats and almonds with the melted butter, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. The mixture should be crumbly.

5. Spread peaches and any juices evenly in the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. Top evenly with the streusel topping. Place in the oven and bake at 350 until peaches are bubbling - about 25 -30 minutes. Cool slightly before eating.

6. To make the whipped cream, whip heavy cream in a bowl until stiff peaks form. Beat in the mascarpone, honey, and vanilla. Serve atop crumble.

DSC03057.jpg

9.5.14 Black Bean, Chard, and Goat Cheese Tacos

I don’t know how you spent your Labor Day weekend, but I can assure you that mine was spent eating. A lot. It was pretty fantastic. Let’s recap:

This past weekend, besides being Labor Day weekend, was also happened to be my birthday. And when given the option to choose how to spend my birthday, I always pick the same thing: The Minnesota State Fair. Sure it may be hot and humid outside, and sure the fair is going to be completely packed with the most insane amount of people ever, but I still maintain that it’s one of the greatest places on earth. I mean, where else are you going to see sculptures carved out of butter, an 800-lb pig, a portrait of Mr. T made entirely out of crop seeds, and Garrison Keillor all in the same place? Only at the fair. Oh, and the food! First of all, any place with all the milk you can drink for $1 is pretty good in my book. And from there it only gets better. Mini doughnuts, pronto pups, milk shakes, beer - even a waffle cone filled with fried chicken and gravy (with a malted milk ball in the bottom - you know, so you don’t drip gravy all over yourself. Genius.)

I know you’re probably jealous. And you should be - it was amazing. But after all of that fabulous Fair fare, I was feeling a craving for something a bit healthier. Never had green vegetables sounded so appealing (well, at least not since post-Fair 2013). And so I made these tacos. There’s nothing deep fried about them. And replete with black beans, tomatoes, and swiss chard, they’re everything State Fair food isn’t. Besides, in my book, homemade tacos are pretty much always amazing, no matter what’s in them. And as far as veggie tacos go, this one is pretty stellar. Of course some crumbly goat cheese and avocado only add to its general awesomeness.

Black Bean, Chard, and Goat Cheese Tacos

serves 3-4

This recipe is not something I just came up with on the spur of the moment. Ever since chard began making an appearance in our CSA boxes, I’ve been whipping up these tacos for breakfast (yup, trust me, these are good for any meal). And not only do these make great tacos, but if you’re feeling adventurous, the filling would be great in tamales or arepas as well.

  • 1 large bunch Swiss Chard (about ½ lb)
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp chipotle powder
  • ½ tsp salt, divided
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice, divided
  • ¼ tsp red chile flakes (optional)
  • warm corn tortillas, fresh cilantro, sliced avocado, crumbled goat cheese, and hot sauce for serving

1. Prep the chard: Separate the ribs and stems from the leaves (ribs and stems will take longer to cook). Cut the stems into 1 inch pieces, and cut the leaves crosswise into 1 inch strips. Set aside while you prepare the beans.

2. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion, jalapeno, garlic, cumin, chipotle powder, and ¼ tsp of salt. Saute, stirring often, until onions are beginning to soften, about 3-4 minutes.

3. Add the tomatoes, and continue to cook, stirring often, until tomatoes are soft and releasing liquid, about 4-5 minutes.

4. Add the black beans, 1 Tbsp lime juice, and ½ cup water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook while you prepare the chard.

5. Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp oil in another large pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the chard stems, and cook until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the chard leaves and ¼ cup water, cover, and cook until leaves are soft and wilted - about 4-5 minutes.

6. Stir in 1 Tbsp lime juice, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp red chile flake if additional heat is desired. Season to taste with additional salt if desired.

7. Check the beans - most of the liquid should be reduced. If too thick, add more water to thin. If a thicker consistency is desired, use a potato masher or the back of a large spoon to mash some of the beans. Season to taste with salt.

8. Assemble tacos: Top warmed corn tortillas equally with bean mixture, sauteed chard, fresh cilantro, sliced avocado, and crumbled goat cheese. Serve with hot sauce.

9.2.14 Zucchini, Herb, and Cheese Tartines

If you have a vegetable garden, or subscribe to a local CSA, chances are you are probably completely inundated with zucchini right about now. If you’re like me, and have both a garden AND a CSA to contend with, well, let’s just say, you are most likely a bit overwhelmed in the summer squash department. I feel your pain.

DSC02943.jpg
DSC02948.jpg

For years, this was a problem for me. I mean, how many ways can one cook summer squash? Admittedly, many. But enough to exhaust my excessive squash supply? It seemed unlikely. In the past, a lot of my ample CSA squash bounty was relegated to zucchini bread. Lots and lots of zucchini bread. Which is delicious, but eventually, after copious zucchini bread consumption, I reached the point where I couldn’t look at another piece of zucchini bread, much less eat it. I knew I had to get more creative with my squash cookery.

DSC02950.jpg
DSC02951.jpg

All in all, I think I’ve done pretty well. I’ve baked my zucchinis into tasty gratins, fried them up into a satisfying summer hash, even simmered them in a fragrant coconut curry. But in the end, I always reach the point of summer squash saturation. Right about now. And while I’d love to just give up on zucchini all together, the few lonely squashes in my fridge would beg otherwise. And so, I bring you one more zucchini recipe. But trust me, it’s a good one. Julienned, marinated in fresh lemon, oil, and grassy summer herbs, then mounded atop tangy sheeps milk cheese and crisp, garlicky sourdough, this is zucchini in a whole new light. Refreshing and tasty (not to mention beyond simple to make), this is the perfect way to use up your latest abundance of zukes. You might even wish you had a couple more.

DSC02961.jpg

Zucchini, Herb, and Cheese Tartines

makes 4 tartines (about 2 servings)

These also make a great summer appetizer atop smaller baguette-sized toasts.

  • 2 small zucchini (green, yellow, or a mix), cut into matchsticks
  • 2 Tbsp fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil (plus more for toasting bread)
  • ¼ tsp red chile flakes
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 slices sourdough bread
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 oz soft sheep or goat milk cheese (I’m a fan of the Driftless sheep cheese from Hidden Springs Creamery for this)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, combine the zucchini, basil, parsley, mint, lemon juice, olive oil, chile flake, salt, and pepper. Let sit while you prepare the toast.

3. Place bread slices on a baking sheet. Cut garlic clove in half, and rub the cut sides over the top of the bread slices. Discard garlic clove. Brush the top of each slice of bread with a bit of olive oil. Bake bread until crispy and golden brown, about 8-10 minutes.

4. Spread each slice of toasted bread with ½ ounce of the cheese.

5. Give the zucchini mixture a good stir (some liquid will have separated out), season to taste with additional salt and pepper if desired. Divide zucchini mixture evenly between the 4 toasts. Serve immediately.

DSC02967.jpg