zucchini medallions with chard and sweet corn

I. LOVE. SUMMER. COOKING.

This whole meal (save the lemon) is so fresh and so local, I could eat it a million times. But there are too many other amazing things to eat!

And there is just so much joy to be found in preparing a seasonal, local meal. So I’ll tell you a little about what I did, and you can play from there with your own creations!

1. Bring a deep pot of water to a boil with 2-3 ears of corn.

2. While the water heats up, slice onions, and fry until translucent. Add two sliced zucchinis, and salt and pepper to taste.

2. Begin a browned butter sauce (about 4 tbsp) in another pan. Add fresh minced garlic, green onions, and parsley, coarsely chopped.

3. Chop rainbow or swiss chard into ribbons. Briefly (30-60 seconds!) saute chard in the brown butter sauce and remove from heat. Remove cooked corn from water, slice the corn from the cob and add to chard mixture.

4. Spoon zucchini medallions and onions on to a plate. Top with chard mixture. Sprinkle with feta cheese and serve with a wedge of lemon.

Prep time: 30 minutes. Serves two hungry adults.


wisconsin goodies

our friend leslie came to visit last weekend, and she brought us some delicious goodies from her home in viroqua, wisconsin: homemade ramp pesto and new glarus beer. since lately all i seem to be good for is taking pictures of food, it seemed appropriate to honor her gift with an homage to the culinary delicacies of wisconsin.

a few days ago i had made some ricotta cheese with another friend (blog post to come, don’t worry!) and added it to the pasta we made with leslie’s pesto. it. was. delicious.

and perhaps brian’s favorite part of the meal, leslie also gave usĀ new glarus honey bock, which apparently you can’t buy in minnesota (and only buy in wisconsin?). delicacies indeed! thank you, leslie!!


I’m naming my first kid Polenta

Inspired by a variety of fancy restaurants that have lately included polenta on their menus, I decided to try my hand at this cornmealy… stuff.

You make it a lot like you do rice, quinoa, risotto, and other grains: boil water, add grain, lower to a simmer, and cook and stir.

Only in the recipe I used, once you’ve lowered it to a simmer, you get to add a bunch of tasty stuff, much like risotto or mexican arroz con leche (which I’m also dying to make asap). I added parmesan cheese, fennel, and butter. OMG, butter makes everything better, which I feel is also sometimes the mantra of my friend Leslie.

Do you SEE this BUTTER? Oh god, I love butter so much, sometimes I think I could eat a stick of it like an ice cream cone.

Moving on.

The polenta was served with a very simple, very easy, fast broccoli rabe. I’ve made it tons of times before, always with garlic and red pepper, but the recipe also called for SALT. it never occured to me to add salt to bitter broccoli rabe before. it made a huge difference. i wonder also what a little lemon zest might do next time…

The only problem with the polenta experiment that there was not enough for a full-sized meal. I don’t know what I was thinking making this our entire meal, but that bit there is smaller than the size of my fist. Hardly a good (American) dinner.

Nevertheless, it was delicious. Polenta, you come on over anytime. I like you so much, maybe I’ll name my firstborn after you. Or at least my next cat.


Elephantine tusks, tinny olives, and memories of good friends

Well, despite all the formality of yesterday’s post — in which I professed to keep to the many goals I laid out for myself — today I am sick.

So. I was going to run, and brag effusively about how wonderful I am to have already begun my exceedingly difficult regimen of thrice-weekly exercise.

But. Twas not to be.

So, instead I took pictures of my simple little pasta dinner. Which, by the way, I cooked the entire time with toilet paper stuffed up my nose. I have one of those ridiculous colds where you don’t actually FEEL sick–that, except for the sore throat and runny nose, I feel quite normal.

Anyway. Tonight’s dinner was really fun to make (despite the elephantine-like tusks protruding from my nostrils) because it reminded me of friends. You know those meals that just have a little love packed in them? This was like that, except it was a surprise because I’ve never made it before.

It was a Fried Tofu, Olive, and Red Pepper Pasta. The tofu reminded me of Tallu, the first person to ever serve me tofu AND have me successfully finish my meal. This is mostly because I wanted her to like me and we were just becoming friends. She steamed the tofu and made this delicious gingery, vinegar-y sauce to drizzle atop it. Tallu is one of the most accomplished cooks I know, and only her skills could have convinced me that — whoa, there — I actually like tofu.

This recipe itself is from a cookbook that Kate gave me, and has been dogeared in our household now for a few years. It still has the note she tucked in the front cover, with the pages of her favorite recipes indicated (whole wheat pancakes, portobello mushroom sandwiches…). This is one of the few recipes left to try, and I’m sorry I waited this long!

The few things I would change? To save a few bucks, I bought cheap parmesan cheese and canned olives. The cheese was mildly passable (though I much prefer fresh), but the olives were awful, tinny, tasteless creatures. Never again.

Also, the basil at Cub last weekend was moldy and I didn’t buy any. So, I didn’t have any, which the recipe called for. Still, in spite all these failings, it was mighty tasty.

Now: more tea and bedtime for me. Tomorrow if I’m not sick, I will report back on my awesome run!


stuffed cabbage, a.k.a. alien babies a la alison

for months, my colleague/friend rachel has been telling me about how fabulous the moosewood cookbook is. last night, i finally got around to cooking something from it.

i made stuffed cabbage. sounds a little weird, but we’ve had an extra head of cabbage rolling around our fridge for longer than i’m willing to divulge here, so i figured it was worth a shot. the recipe is actually in the link to the googlebook above, so i’m not going to mess with spelling it out here… you just get the pictures and my sparse commentary.

Cooking with cabbage was a very unique experience. My not-so-extensive cabbage background includes slaws and soups, so to core it, boil it, peel it apart, and use the leaves to hold all the stuffing ingredients was completely alien to me. Funny enough, the cabbage itself actually took on something of an incandescent, ghostly, and alien quality of itself, as well.

Here, I thought the cabbage leaves looked lacy, skin-like, and very eerie. I don’t know what to make of this picture… totally not appetizing. But how could I not include it here?! You must be prepared what you’re up against. Alien Skin, that’s what.

Once the cabbage is cored and boiling, you begin to sautee the onion, celery, garlic, and carrots in butter. Later, I added salt, pepper, and sunflower seeds.

Once all that jazz is sauteed up, you add a chopped tart apple, a pound of ricotta cheese, lemon, tamari, and some other stuff… I forget what it was now…

Then you take the ricotta-based stuffing and roll it up into the cabbage. Here, I thought the cabbage-rolls looked like little baby aliens–see, the stems are like spines! Again–NOT appetizing to look at, but I promise, it is delicious (plus later, it gets prettier). Spread some cashew-ginger sauce (in my case, almond-ginger) on top and stick it in the oven for a half an hour.

And viola! This dish was by far one of the most surprising, delightful meal I’ve made in a long time. It is tart, creamy, and sweet all at once. Next time I’d pare down on the ricotta–I don’t think the stuffing needs to be *that* creamy–but if you make this, DON’T LEAVE OUT THE SAUCE. It’s too good to leave out.
Now go make your own alien babies!