6.24.16 Strawberry Oatmeal Cookie Tart

There’s lots to love about this time of year. Besides the obvious things like beautiful weather, ample opportunities for outdoor activities, cooking nearly everything on the grill, and being inundated with lots of amazing produce, I also love this time of year because the sheer abundance of certain fruits and veggies make it so easy for me to come up with delicious things to cook. Last week’s ample supply of lettuce meant we were in for some serious salad. This week, it’s strawberries.

Specifically, 10+ pounds of strawberries picked by Forrest, Leo, and I over the weekend (okay, Forrest and I picked them, and Leo sat around looking cute and smashing them into his face). A  load of laundry and a bath to get all the sticky strawberry juice off this kid, he still somehow smells like strawberries. I love it.

So what does one do with so many berries? While it seems like a lot, the truth is, the entire lot went from sitting in a giant flat container on the counter, to either being eaten straight, cooked, or preserved in two days. I made strawberry rhubarb crumb bars, a big batch of jam, froze plenty of berries for a special treat come colder weather, and pureed some with basil to feed to the baby. What was left turned into this tart.

And by tart, I mean giant oatmeal cookie topped with mascarpone and fresh strawberries. But we’ll call it a tart, because we’re fancy like that. It’s simple to make (which of course I’m all about), and can we talk about just how absolutely lovely it is? It’s almost too pretty to eat. The key word here being almost.

Strawberry Oatmeal Cookie Tart

Makes 1 9-inch tart

I used sugar as a sweetener for the mascarpone topping, namely because babies Leo’s age aren’t supposed to eat honey, and after he longingly watched me making this dessert from his high chair perch, I figured he deserved a little taste. It was his 7 month birthday after all. But to those who aren’t sharing with babies, I’d definitely recommend using honey.

Cookie Base:

  • 1 ½ cups rolled oats
  • 1 ¼ cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup butter (1 stick) room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp vanilla

Topping and Assembly:

  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese, room temperature.
  • ¼ cup sugar (or sub 3 Tbsp honey)
  • 1 ½ cups sliced strawberries
  • 1 Tbsp pistachios, roughly chopped (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a 9 inch tart pan.

2. Combine oats, flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl.

3. In a larger bowl, mix the butter and both sugars together until smooth. Mix in the egg and vanilla, then stir in the flour mixture, mixing until well combined.

4. Press dough evenly into the bottom (no need to push dough up onto the sides here) of your greased tart pan. Make sure dough is approximately the same thickness all the way across.

5. Bake cookie at 375 until top is puffed, golden brown, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes. Cool completely on a wire cooling rack.

6. Once cookie has cooled, make the topping: use a mixer to whip the whipping cream until soft peaks form. Add the mascarpone and sugar or honey and continue mixing until just combined.

7. Spread mascarpone topping evenly atop cooled cookie. Arrange sliced strawberries on top and sprinkle evenly with pistachios if desired.

6.22.16 Wisconsin Grown | Part 9

Another week, another CSA box filled of all kinds of beautiful things. On top of which, we’re starting to harvest lettuce, baby arugula, and baby mizuna from the back garden - hooray! Here’s what we’ll be cooking this week:

  • Garlic Scapes are the flower stalk of the garlic plant. They’re generally harvested around this time of year so that the garlic plant can put all of its energy into growing the garlic bulb. And incidentally, they’re quite delicious. You can use garlic scapes in any number of ways, but sometimes just keeping it simple and throwing them on the grill a la Things I Made Today is the way to go.
  • Admittedly, I’m not the hugest fan of Kohlrabi. It’s not that it tastes bad, just kind of...meh. I never could figure out what to do with the stuff until I decided to treat it like green papaya and make Spicy Thai Kohlrabi Salad. Great success.
  • We all know Radishes + butter + sea salt is heavenly, but these Radishes with Dukkah from Bon Appetit seem like another intriguing way to turn radishes into tasty snack food. Which, obviously, I'm all about. 
  • I absolutely LOVE Cilantro, and tend to put it on or in pretty much everything. As I’ve had little to no success growing my own (it always bolts on me pretty much immediately), I was so happy to receive some in this week’s CSA box. And to celebrate, I’m thinking some Cilantro Lime Hummus is in order.
  • Chard + cheese in pie form? You had me at cheese. Slab Galette with Swiss Chard and Gruyere from Food52.  
  • Snap Peas are so good, you really don’t need to (nor should you) do much to them. Served raw with a side of Whipped Feta Dip to dip them in seems like a good plan to me.
  • Between the CSA box and our garden, we’re well supplied with Salad Greens once again this week. Will we ever get tired of salad? So long as we’re eating things like Avocado Chickpea Salad from Naturally Ella, probably not.
  • Because we already have salad greens well covered, this week’s Arugula will be pestofied and slathered on pizza.

6.17.16 Thai Style Fried Egg Salad

If you’ve been following my recent posts regarding our CSA, you know that this week, we’re in for a lot of salad. Let’s be honest, we’ve been eating copious amounts of salad for awhile now - it’s sortof what one does this time of year, when greens abound - but this week in particular, we’re looking at some serious salad eating. What else can you do when a big, beautiful head of lettuce nearly the size of your child arrives in your CSA box?

As someone who loves a good salad, I’ve got no problem with this. If I’m starting with good, fresh, ingredients, practically any salad is going to make me happy.  Whether it’s incredibly simple, or full of complex flavors, lettuce based, or other, a good salad is one of the easiest ways to showcase all of the gorgeous fresh produce we seem to find ourselves surrounded in. Not to mention, most salads require minimal cooking - a godsend when temps are high and your house has no central air.

This salad though. It’s fantastic. It was inspired by one I had once at Sujeo and couldn’t stop thinking about. So this superabundance of salad-making materials we’re currently experiencing seemed like as good an excuse as any to stop dreaming about said salad, and make it into reality.  

And the reality is, it’s pretty simple to make, and with fantastic results to boot. Lettuce, crunchy carrots and snap peas, plenty of fresh herbs, a spicy, flavor-packed dressing, and most importantly, fried eggs. Super crispy fried eggs - the best kind. This salad, you guys. It makes me hope we never run out of lettuce.

Thai Style Fried Egg Salad

Serves 2

Salad

  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups lettuce leaves
  • ⅓ cup carrots, julienned
  • ⅓ cup cucumber, julienned
  • ⅓ cup snap peas, thinly sliced
  • 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh mint, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro leaves

Dressing

  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1-2 thai chiles, finely sliced (optional)
     

1. Heat oil in a wok or medium pan over medium high heat. Once oil is extremely hot (almost beginning to smoke) carefully crack in the eggs. It’s a good idea to crack them close to the surface of the oil to avoid any splatter. Cook eggs, flipping once, until crispy and golden on both sides. Remove eggs from pan, and reserve 2 Tbsp of the oil.

2. Make the dressing by combining the 2 reserved Tbsp of oil with all of the dressing ingredients and whisking well to combine. Pour dressing into the bottom of a large bowl.

3. Slice the fried eggs crosswise into approximately 4 pieces each. Add to the bowl with the dressing, along with the lettuce, carrots, cucumber, snap peas, shallot, and half of the mint and cilantro. Toss to coat everything well with the dressing, then transfer to a serving platter. Sprinkle the remaining mint and cilantro on top and serve immediately.

6.15.16 Wisconsin Grown | Part 8

The second installment of our CSA arrived this week, chock full of all kinds of delicious things. I have to admit, once the CSA is underway and we find ourselves getting a huge weekly produce delivery, our weekend farmer’s market trips become less about shopping for veggies, and more about getting out of the house to walk around, enjoy the market atmosphere, and most likely eat doughnuts. We still shop for things we’re sure not to get in our CSA; things like eggs, bread, cheese, flowers, and fish. And of course, this time of year it’s all about the strawberries. You can never, ever have too many strawberries. Once again, most of our strawberries were eaten immediately, but a few made it into a lovely batch of strawberry balsamic jam, which I highly recommend. Of course, besides stuffing our faces with strawberries, we’ve got plenty of other cooking in store for the week - here’s what we’re making:

Green Garlic - This week, I’m craving garlic bread. So it’s a good thing we got plenty of green garlic. I’m thinking something like this, subbing green garlic for regular. Oh, and instead of baking it in the oven, I’m gonna wrap it in foil and throw it on the grill.

Snap Peas - This Snap Pea and Mozzarella Salad from Bowen Appetit looks picnic perfect, and the recipe also includes a wine pairing. I’m sold.

Rainbow Chard - This is going to end up as tacos. Black Bean, Chard, and Goat Cheese Tacos to be exact. Because tacos are always the right decision.

Bok Choy - I had amazing success with grilling last week’s bok choy after a good slather with some miso gochujang butter (I used 2 parts melted butter to 1 part miso to 1 part gochujang). The bok choy grills up pretty quickly and makes for a perfect grilled side. However, if you’re in the mood for more of a project, these Pork, Bok Choy, and Scallion Potstickers are another great way to use bok choy.

Lettuce and Arugula - So much lettuce, including one gorgeous lettuce head that was nearly the size of the baby. It’s clear we’re going to be eating a lot of salad this week, and I’m a sucker for pickled eggs, so I think that this Arugula Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts, Pickled Egg, and Ginger Miso Dressing from My Name is Yeh was meant to be.

Carrots - This Thai Carrot Salad with Curried Cashews from Minimalist Baker looks marvelous, and as an added bonus, also doubles as a way to use up some more of those greens.

6.9.16 Rainbow Trout with Bacon and Chives + Grilled New Potatoes

I have to admit, once summer begins, I really look forward to the inevitable action packed, over the top, fun summer weekends. Case in point, last weekend, which involved grilled cheese for breakfast at the farmer’s market (because June is National dairy month, naturally), a Whisk farm workday at Raleigh’s Hillside Farm, a lazy afternoon sipping fine cocktails at Robinia Courtyard, and a Sunday night meat raffle. If you guessed I was exhausted come Monday, you would be correct.

But, it was okay for two reasons. 1. Besides breakfast grilled cheese, I also happened to pick up some fresh rainbow trout at Saturday’s farmer’s market, and 2. I knew that said trout could be easily cooked up for a quick, minimal effort supper.

You can very easily cook this dinner up on your stovetop, but because it’s summer and all, I prefer to cook my trout in a cast iron skillet on the grill. The benefit of this being some extra smokiness imparted to the fish, as well as the ability to simultaneously grill up any veggies you want to eat as a side dish (in our case, we opted for new potatoes with dill butter). Serve it all with a crisp green salad, a chilled bottle of white wine and some fresh farmer’s market strawberries for dessert, and dinner is taken care of.

Rainbow Trout with Bacon and Chives

Serves 2

Grill temperatures may vary, so keep a close eye on your cooking, as timing may vary from grill to grill. As the grill is quite hot, cooking times will also likely be a bit longer if cooked on the stovetop.

Additional grilling tip: things cook fast on the grill, so with this recipe especially, a good mise en place is your friend. That is, have all of your ingredients measured out, chopped, and ready to go once you start cooking. I like to organize everything on a sheet tray to make it easier to transport outside to the grill.

  • 2 rainbow trout fillets, approx ¾ lb total
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1-2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 slices bacon, roughly chopped
  • ⅓ cup white wine
  • ¼ cup chopped chives + more for garnish
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • Lemon wedges for serving

1. Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly over the surface of the fish fillets. Dredge fillets in flour.

2. In a cast iron skillet set over the hot side of the grill (or medium-high heat if cooking on a stovetop), cook the bacon until just beginning to crisp. Remove from pan and set aside.

3.  Add trout, skin side down, to the pan and cook until skin is crispy. Flip fillets and cook skin side up until fish is cooked through, about 2 1/2 minutes per side.

4. Remove fillets and keep warm while you finish the sauce. Add the white wine, chives, butter and lemon juice to the pan, sauteeing until chives are soft, and sauce is beginning to thicken, about 2-3 minutes. Stir the bacon back into sauce.

5. Place a trout fillet on each plate and top with equal amounts of the sauce. Sprinkle with more fresh chives and serve with additional lemon wedges, and grilled new potatoes with dill butter (recipe follows)

Grilled New Potatoes with Dill Butter

Serves 2-3

Another bonus about this meal is that any leftover trout or potatoes can easily be cooked up the next morning to make a pretty amazing breakfast hash.

  • 1 lb new potatoes, scrubbed
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill weed (or more to taste)

1. Place potatoes in a pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Boil until potatoes are just tender, then remove from heat and drain. (You can do this step hours, or even a day in advance. Just keep potatoes refrigerated until ready to grill).

2. Toss potatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper until evenly coated. Transfer potatoes to a grill pan, or wrap in a foil packet, and grill until tender and beginning to brown, about 15-20 minutes (throw them on a few minutes before you start the fish, and they’ll be ready about the same time the fish is done).

3. Remove potatoes from grill, transfer to a bowl, and toss with the melted butter and chopped dill.

6.8.16 Wisconsin Grown | Part 7

It’s been a big week in the vegetable department. That’s because this week is the first installment of our CSA. Up until now, I’ve been obtaining most of my locally grown produce from the farmer’s market, but now that our CSA season has officially begun, a significant portion of our Wisconsin grown goodies will be arriving in weekly boxes from Plowshares & Prairie Farm in Argyle Wisconsin. And I’ve got to admit, I’m very excited to see what sort of delicious edibles this year’s CSA will bring us.

For those unfamiliar, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and it’s a wonderful way to both support local farms and get tons of fresh, local produce.  The way it works is that you buy a share in a local farm in return for a delivery of the farm’s produce each week during the growing season.

Starting this week, we’ll be getting a CSA box each week for 20 weeks (oh my!). And while it’s definitely awesome to get a box of beautiful, fresh produce each week, sometimes figuring out what to do with it all can be a little daunting. Especially when you don’t get to choose what’s in your box. Sometimes you have to get a little creative to make good use of what you’ve got. So once again, it’s my hope that my weekly rundowns of what we’re cooking with our CSA share will not only help me to stay on top of all that delicious produce, but can help inspire others as well.

And so, here’s what we’ll be cooking from our CSA box this week:

Rhubarb - Although mine will never be quite as pretty as hers, Smitten Kitchen’s Almond Rhubarb Picnic Bars are fantastic. As if we needed an excuse to have a picnic.

Strawberries - I always have big plans for the first strawberries of the season (hello Strawberry, Balsamic, and Lemon Thyme Smash), but let’s be honest; we all know most of these strawberries were eaten before they even made it home. Better luck next week.

Carrots - You know the pickled carrots you get on a banh mi sandwich? Well, what if I were to tell you that you could make a whole bunch of said pickled carrots, add some cucumber, cilantro, peanuts, a spicy tangy dressing, and call it a salad? Is that something you might be interested in?

Mixed Greens and Lettuce - You didn’t think I was tired of salads yet, did you? Good, because based on the amount of greens we’ve got this week, there’s gonna be a lot of salad. This Strawberry Salad with Raspberry Cinnamon Vinaigrette seems particularly appropriate - provided I can make my strawberries last that long.

Green Garlic - You can never have too much green garlic. Its fresh, springy flavor brightens up any recipe that normally calls for garlic. A nice green garlic vinaigrette (such as this one, subbing green garlic for regular garlic) seems like an especially good thing to have on hand considering the amount of salad greens we’re currently dealing with.

Radishes - I’ll be slicing them up thin and adding them to this most delicious Soy Citrus Soba Noodle Salad, along with plenty of sauteed Spinach in place of the mizuna (my garden mizuna is not quite ready yet, but soon!).

Chives - I love adding chives to just about anything, from salads to soft scrambled eggs. The flowers are edible too! I have it on good authority that there will be a particularly chive-centric recipe up on the blog in the next couple of days as well, so stay tuned.

Bok Choy - I happen to love bok choy. Normally, I stir fry it up in a bit of sesame oil, but this week I have the urge to slather it in miso butter and throw it on the grill. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

In addition to the CSA, we also made it out to the farmer’s market over the weekend and snagged a couple of additional things to cook with. Here’s what else we’re working with:

Yep, more Strawberries. I really can’t resist. None of them made it long before being devoured.  After waiting for them since last summer, it’s hard to expect me to do much more than just enjoy eating them straight up (and yes, we’ve already eaten 3 + quarts worth this week). Next week we’ll be more creative, but for now, we’ll just enjoy.

Baby Kale - the thing about baby kale is that it’s dual purpose. Tender enough to make a nice green salad, yet hearty enough to be sauteed up in anything from breakfast tacos, to curries, to pasta carbonara.

Shiitake Mushrooms - This Rice Noodle Salad with Spring Vegetables and Tahini Lime Dressing from Food52 sounds like the perfect thing to do with shiitake mushrooms. Also Scallions, which I happened to pick up this week as well.

New Potatoes - These are getting grilled, no question about it. Boiled ‘til just tender, tossed with some olive oil, salt + pepper, and thrown in a grill basket on a hot grill until they achieve golden, smokey perfection. 

6.3.16 Rhubarb Ginger Lemonade

There’s still a lot of rhubarb out there guys. At the markets, in the garden -  those red stalks are everywhere. Loads and loads of the stuff. It’s lucky I like rhubarb so much. It’s even luckier that I figured out how to convert its overwhelming tartness into something sweet and sippable.

It feels a little like I’m muddling my seasons, mixing rhubarb’s inherent springiness with that quintessential summer quaff, lemonade. But this time of year is like that - spring and summer weather mixed together - so a drink like this is actually kindof... perfect.

This may look like your standard pink lemonade, but it’s really so much more interesting. Besides the rhubarb, I threw in a good hit of spicy ginger as well, because rhubarb and ginger go together so well, it’d be a shame not to include them both. The result is a tart, refreshing beverage that’s sure to make you happy.  Pro tip: making said lemonade into a cocktail by mixing in a bit of vodka is sure to make you even happier.

Rhubarb Ginger Lemonade

Makes 1 quart

I find that as the lemonade sits, the ginger tends to settle out of the mixture, but never fear: a quick stir or shake before serving will get things remixed again!

  • 5 oz rhubarb, roughly chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
  • 1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ cup sugar + more or less to taste
  • Cold water, ice, and lemon slices for serving

1. Combine rhubarb pieces, ginger pieces, and lemon juice in a food processor and process until very well chopped, about 30 seconds.

2. Strain rhubarb mixture through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth, squeezing to remove all liquid from the pulp. You should end up with about ½ cup liquid. Discard pulp. Pour liquid into a 1 quart container, such as a mason jar.

3. Add the sugar, and fill to 1 quart with cold water. Cap mason jar and shake vigorously to mix until sugar is dissolved (if using another type of container, give everything a vigorous stir instead). Pour into glasses over ice and garnish with a lemon slice if desired. Store lemonade in a sealed container in the refrigerator. 

6.1.16 Wisconsin Grown | Part 6

I’m not sure about you guys, but each year, I always find myself really looking forward to Memorial Day weekend. I think of it as the official start to summer, and for as long as I can remember, it’s always been a weekend involving lots of good times with friends, and of course, lots of good food.

This year was extra special, as we were celebrating one of our best friends from college getting married. This meant that we, along with several of our other best friends from college, got together and rented a cabin near Eau Claire. The cabin, as it turned out, was located on a beautiful farm along the Buffalo River. There were chives and asparagus growing in the yard, fields of veggies growing nearby, beautiful cabin views overlooking the river, and plenty of deck chairs to lounge with a cold beer or curl up with a good book. We ate very well - cookouts on the deck, big breakfasts, and plenty of snacks.  For dinner one night, the owners of the cabin cooked us a fantastic meal - salad, freshly picked from the garden, with dressing made from foraged greens, and hot, crispy, wood-fired pizza. It was marvelous.

But despite our weekend of traveling, we still managed to make it to the farmer’s market before we left, which meant that we had a lot of delicious things to cook with up at the cabin.  Of course, we made sure to buy plenty at the market so we would have lots of delicious things to cook with at home as well.

And in other vegetable news, last week appeared to be the perfect week to put in my garden. All this hot weather and rain we’ve been getting means my veggie seedlings are seriously thriving! Also, next week will be the first week of our CSA, and I’m beyond excited to see what we’ll be getting. Stay tuned for more on the CSA next week, but for now, here’s what we’re cooking:

Red Russian Kale - Love this stuff. It’s hard for me to pass up a big, beautiful bunch if I come across one. This bunch in particular, along with more farmer’s market Spinach (another green I find hard to resist this time of year), constituted the greens in this Strata with Sausage and Greens from Food52, which we ate for brunch at the cabin this past weekend, along with lots of fresh fruit, chocolate babka, and copious amounts of this magical coffee. Did I mention we ate really well last weekend?

Asparagus - Still plenty of asparagus available these days, and I’m not complaining. This week, I’m thinking this Asparagus with Poached Egg from Things I Made Today, because poached eggs, cheese, and breadcrumbs make everything better. Not to mention, I once again picked up another dozen fresh farm Eggs at the market as well, so it was meant to be.

Mint - A big, fragrant bunch of mint is hard to resist. I’m thinking some cool, refreshing Moroccan style mint iced tea is in order.

Lettuce - Yep, more salads. With grilling season in full swing, I’m thinking this Spicy Grilled Chicken, Avocado, and Mango salad is the way to go.

Maple Syrup - I find it’s always a good idea to have an ample supply of maple syrup around the house. Besides pouring it atop pancakes and french toast, it’s also marvelous in iced coffee beverages, as a glaze for salmon, and mixed into butter. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.