Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Belvidere at Broad

After an unsuccessful attempt to try The Belvidere at Broad after Thanksgiving, Davy, my parents and I went for dinner last week. The interior reminded me of a cleaner, brighter, slightly larger Fan bar, with a row of booths on one side, tables in the front, and a bar on the other side.

Chalkboard menus indicated drink specials, beers on tap, and food specials for that night. Our server was accommodating and friendly, and the bartender made my mom an excellent Manhattan with rye-soaked dried cherries.

My dad ordered the soup special, which was roasted red pepper and crab, and there was enough for all of us to have a few spoonfuls. It had a velvety texture and plenty of crab meat throughout the bowl, but it wasn't so rich that it ruined any of our appetites.

I ordered the turkey and white bean burger with a side of roasted root vegetables, and as soon as it came to the table I wanted to devour everything on the plate. The substantial burger was served on a ciabatta roll with feta, roasted red peppers, and a few other toppings, and the roasted vegetables were delicious without much seasoning.

The other dishes at our table were tequila grilled shrimp with mashed potatoes and brussels sprouts, "Sake Ginger Glazed Grilled Salmon" with rice and various vegetables, and the entree special, which was pan-seared duck. All of them were brightly flavored, with appealing yet simple presentations.

The Belvidere at Broad is casual enough for a regular weeknight dinner, but the food is carefully prepared and sophisticated enough for a special occasion. If you have friends or family visiting Richmond, or you're the one doing the visiting, I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Chicken, Pot Roast and Trifle

I think I'm finally out of the takeout and eating at restaurant rut that characterized a lot of lunches and dinners in the fall. Looking back over my cooking patterns since Thanksgiving, it seems that I'm depending on some easy, quick and reliable dinners. For example, I've been eating a lot of chicken. After I made a roast chicken and we got a couple of meals out of it, I made soup with the bones and the rest of the meat. There's are at least four servings of the chicken noodle soup in the freezer, waiting for Davy or me to get a cold or need some extra comfort.

Whole Foods had nice snow peas, and that prompted a stir fry dinner with boneless chicken breasts and some leftover broccoli. The other half of the chicken went into an enchilada casserole, which is a simplified version of my rolled, baked enchiladas. Both the stir fry and casserole allowed us to have at least one extra serving of leftovers for subsequent dinners and lunches.

I had never made pot roast before, probably because I didn't really eat it growing up, but the Pioneer Woman's recipe (I saw it posted on Seriouseats.com) intrigued me. It's a substantial yet very simple dinner if you have a Dutch oven, and I think it also makes an impressive meal for guests or anyone else you want to show off your cooking skills to. We had it for our holiday dinner with Shannon and John, and it lent itself to an easy presentation.

Shannon made a mouthwatering, three-cheese macaroni and cheese, and we had green beans from her garden as the vegetable. I made Giada De Laurentiis' Chocolate, Chesnut, and Orange Trifle, which I managed to mess up only a little after hunting down the chestnut component. The recipe calls for chestnut paste, an ingredient I knew I would have trouble finding. Someone who made the trifle said they found at Whole Foods, so I went and tried to find it, but the closest I came was chestnut cream. The nice guy who helped me even gave me the cream for free since they didn't have what I was looking for!

Despite the alternate chestnut material and the fact that I forgot to sprinkle orange simple syrup on the last two layers of pound cake, the dessert was pretty tasty. I made sure to chop plenty of bittersweet Ghirardelli chocolate on the top to make up for my minor mistakes, and it's only gotten better with age.

Monday, December 14, 2009

On to Winter

I almost don't want to admit it, but I love Whole Foods. I know I should be going to Ellwood Thompson's, but something about the shiny new store keeps drawing me back. Every time I go I find more fresh produce and another intriguing ingredient. On one of my trips, rockfish was on sale, and I brought home a sizeable piece for dinner. I placed it in a foil packet and laid some slices of lemon over the top. After drizzling the fish with olive oil, some dry vermouth, and parsley, I closed the foil and baked it for 15-20 minutes until it was just cooked through.

I spent my first traditional Thanksgiving away from home this year, so my parents and Evan came to Richmond the weekend before the holiday. We went to Helen's, which was Davy's and my second experience there. Both of us remembered the food being impressive but a little fancier and more expensive than we would have liked, but the cuisine and atmosphere at Helen's have relaxed. I would classify our entrees as traditional instead of sophisticated: chicken pot pie, pork tenderloin, a variation of fish and chips, Tuscan pasta, and sirloin. Everything was prepared with care and was extraordinarly delicious.

A few years ago I made a chickpea soup with ditalini that I have craved from time to time every since. I didn't save the recipe, so I was excited to find a very similar version by Jamie Oliver in his book Jamie's Italy. He describes the soup as a cross between a pasta dish and a soup because it is very hearty and thick. The base of the recipe is onion, garlic and celery, and I added a spicy Italian pepper.

Two cans of chickpeas and chicken stock went in after the sauteed vegetables. After everything simmered together, I removed half of the chickpeas and used my immersion blender to puree the other ingredients.

Finally, I added a few ounces of ditalini, let the soup boil until the pasta cooked through, and finished it off with fresh parsley and olive oil. It's a very substantial (meatless) meal, and especially satisfying in cold weather.

As Christmas approaches, there are an increasing number of occasions featuring food. Davy made me a special, tasty dinner of salmon over puff pastry, roasted potatoes, and sauteed chard.

Shannon and John came over yesterday for our annual holiday meal, and there will be some photographic highlights to share later this week, along with another round of Whole Foods encounters.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Restaurant Week, etc.

Halloween is only three days away, and while there is a cute family of pumpkins on the front porch, I haven't bought any candy yet. This could be the most exciting Halloween of my post-trick-or-treating life though, because it will be the first time I'll be able to legitimately hand out candy at my own house.

The last round of CSA veggies produced some noteworthy meals: a soup with turkey sausage, carrots, and broccoli rabe, along with two rounds of Swiss chard side dishes that we ate alongside various odds and ends. We had a few of the sweet potatoes with marinated pork tenderloin and roasted broccoli, and still have three or four left to enjoy.

I've felt the same mix of relief and disappointment both years after the CSA ended, and Davy and I are trying to decide if we want to do it for a third year. There is the possibility that our hypothetical garden will supply us with enough produce in the spring and summer of 2010, but we don't have a lot of experience with a garden and aren't 100% sure of our backyard conditions. Part of the fun of a CSA is also getting familiar with uncommon vegetables, and not knowing exactly what's coming each week. That element of surprise would most likely be the reason that we'd sign up again.

One thing that I don't want to be surprised about, however, is Thai takeout, and Davy and I have since corrected the Mom's Siam incident by ordering from Ginger. Twice.

October 26th-November 1st is Restaurant Week in Richmond, and on Monday night we went to
Stronghill Dining Company for their $25 three-course offering. I had the oyster mushroom and duck confit miso soup, which was unusual but very worthwhile. Davy had the salad, which was topped with Manchego cheese and roasted pumpkin seeds.

Our main courses weren't very big, but they were rich and not at all disappointing. My butternut squash gnocchi were fluffy and sweet, and the accompanying leeks, pecans and oyster mushrooms complemented them with pronounced flavors and textures. I didn't try the flatiron steak, but Davy was impressed with it's tender bite as well as the potato parsnip mash and roasted asparagus.

Unfortunately the restaurant had run out of one of its two dessert options, a pumpkin apple pie, so we were both stuck with the espresso chocolate torte. This was not a problem for me at all, and while the torte was a worthy chocolate treat, it didn't blow me away.
The decor alone is worth a visit Stronghill - it's an eclectic mix of upscale and factory chic in an unexpected location. While it is an interesting addition to Richmond's restaurants, and I was intrigued enough to want to go back, I don't think you'll find me there before I've eaten takeout from Ginger several more times.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Back to the Grind

Fall is definitely in the air, and the change of seasons has brought to light some notable events. Tuesday was the last CSA pick up, and it was a plentiful one:

- broccoli rabe

- radishes

- swiss chard

- sweet peppers

- sweet potatoes

- cilantro

- basil

- carrots

I decided not to get beets, and there was a bin of arugula that was optional and I completely forgot about it until I left. Fertile Crescent will have a stand at the South of the James Market for the rest of the month in case I need a fix.

News about Gourmet folding was released on Monday. Even though I had a feeling it was coming, it's sad to see more and more print publications dying out. Gourmet was also the first food magazine I ever subscribed to, and I love Ruth Reichl's writing.

Davy and I officially crossed a Thai restaurant off of our list of options last night. We wanted a quick meal at Mom's Siam, and were unfortunately both disappointed with the pad see ew. Maybe it's because we've been getting it from Ginger for too long, but it didn't have much flavor and neither of us felt great after dinner.

The wedding went off just as it was supposed to, and the food was amazing. The first course was roasted red pepper risotto with shrimp, and the main course was grilled beef tenderloin with frizzled onions over greens with a horseradish dressing. I had known the cake I wanted at my wedding since I first tried it while working for Olga, and her Italian Rum Cake didn't disappoint. We had plenty of leftovers, which was lucky considering I only had the bite that Davy shoved into my face during the cake cutting. There are a few pictures below, courtesy of the lovely Shannon Lentz, and I should be able to post regularly again now that the wedding is over. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

To be continued...

You may have noticed that I haven't been able to write much lately. My wedding is in 10 days (!) and between that and work picking up, I'm going to have to go on a blogging hiatus for a few weeks. Stay tuned for the conclusion of the CSA and some tasty wedding pictures!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Beans and Greens

The weather has been beautiful lately, and it's allowed for some late summer greens:

- arugula

- spicy salad mix

- mustard greens

- green beans

- green and yellow Roma beans

- squash

Thursday, September 03, 2009

CSA Week 14

I didn't get to cook much this week between having a lot left over from the week before and going out of town for the long holiday weekend.

On Thursday I mixed spicy arugula into a leftover cous cous salad with feta and olives. I gave the rest of it away to Davy's mom, who made us a lovely dinner on Friday night. She added the arugula to spinach to make a fresh tasting salad that also included the crisp carrots. In addition, we had medium rare steak, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, and our CSA mustard greens blanched and then sauteed in a little butter.

I held onto the yard long beans and Roma beans since they last longer than leafy vegetables. I may end up freezing some since we're getting so many right now.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Greens are back...

...and I may actually be able to start using my own basil, because there wasn't any of it this week. I turned down my parents' beautiful tomatoes because I thought there would still be some of those in the share, but I was wrong about that. I am very excited about what we did get though:

- mustard greens

- arugula

- summer squash

- yard long beans

- roma beans

- carrots

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

CSA Weeks 12 and 13

Two weeks ago when I picked up our share, including a basketball-sized watermelon, I had every intention of cutting it that night. Instead, my bachelorette party and a Michael Franti concert happened and I still hadn't touched it, and I didn't think that we would get more than a few days worth of the fruit. When I finally managed to chop it into bite-sized chunks, I filled a tall plastic container with only a third of the melon, and it lasted for a week's worth of mid-morning snacks.

The following week I tackled another large piece, and filled another tall container for the week. It's still crisp, pink, and fresh after several days on the counter and even more time in the fridge, and the best part is that it's saved me many trips to the grocery store. I'm not even sick of it's summery flavor.

The other produce has been just as useful and satisfying for the past couple weeks. We had some gorgeous bright red tomatoes that went into a Caprese salad on a night where there was an abundance of leftover grilled potatoes and sweet potatoes. More of the tomatoes were incorporated in a quick saute with zucchini and squash for the following dinner, which was then tossed with penne and mozzarella.

You may begin to see a theme developing: for dinner on the third day we ate chard sauteed with garlic and our first homegrown Italian pepper of the season. Davy chopped tomatoes and added Italian sausage to the pan, which was then eaten over pasta.

After another eventful weekend full of delicious meals, I revived the remaining pasta and sausage sauce by stirring in pesto, the rest of the mozzarella, and a mixture of sauteed zucchini, garlic, and grape tomatoes. All of it went into a casserole dish and I grated fresh parmesan cheese over the top before baking it for 20 minutes or so.

One of the best surprises from the share so far was the Roma beans, which I had never tried before. I found a recipe for roasting the beans with thyme, olive oil, and garlic. They were remarkably tasty for a vegetable, and I've been waiting for more of them to arrive in the share every since. If you get the chance to buy some, it's really worth roasting them this way and eating them like chips.

We got seven sweet peppers in our package, all of which were crunchy and tasted fresh even in their second and third weeks. I made turkey tacos in honor of Davy's birthday, and the chopped peppers were an added bonus. They were also good as an afternoon snack with hummus, and as a topping for Asian noodles with shrimp, edamame, and peanut sauce.

Even though I was able to spend more time in the kitchen during the past two weeks, I neglected to take pictures. I guess there's still watermelon to document...

Enough for 10 Caprese salads

Basil and tomatoes are in abundance right now at the markets, and our CSA share was no different. Yesterday I picked up:

- a huge bunch of basil

- sweet peppers

- a nice sized watermelon

- heirloom tomatoes

- grape tomatoes

- roma beans

- radishes

- chard

- zucchini

- summer squash

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

CSA Week 10

The title of this post isn't completely accurate, because we kept the full share for Week 10 and were out of town for Week 11. I managed to make a cucumber and tomato salad that lasted for a few days, and Davy and I showed off our stuffed, baked zucchini at a cookout.

A couple weeks ago I watched Rachael Ray make a Mexican lasagna with tomatillo sauce, and located the recipe for Thursday night's dinner. I lightened the components of the dish and changed the amounts to accommodate the number of tomatillos I had on hand (nine). Instead of ground pork and hominy, I used ground turkey and fresh corn. My version was about two-thirds or three quarters of the original recipe, and after three meals there was still plenty of lasagna to go in the freezer. The picture below doesn't quite do it justice, but it's enough to get an idea.

I have a few other food photos from past weeks to share: purple and yellow potatoes before going into the oven to roast, peppers and onions being sauteed, and some crisp green and yellow beans. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


I can't remember ever having cooked with tomatillos, but I'm looking forward to testing them out this week. We received:

- a pint of tomatillos

- a pint of onions

- potatoes

- a cucumber

- sweet peppers

- zucchini

- tomatoes

- basil

- green and yellow beans

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

It's getting hot and humid...

...but that didn't stop us from receiving:

- gigantic, beautiful blackberries

- cucumbers

- eggplant (which I gave away)

- several heirloom tomatoes

- a huge bunch of basil

- zucchini and yellow squash

- sweet peppers

- garlic

- a delicious sample of almond and blueberry granola

Monday, July 27, 2009

CSA Week 9

Somehow the wonderful peach pie I made a couple weeks ago has gone unmentioned. It caught my eye on Smitten Kitchen's blog because it includes creme fraiche, and I happened to have a crust in the freezer, so it seemed like an appropriate time to make my first peach pie. The local peaches had just the right amount of tartness to balance the sweet streusel and the richness from the creme fraiche. There are still a couple slices of the pie left in the fridge, only because there was no chocolate involved.

Otherwise, Week 9 wasn't too unusual. I mixed tuna salad with white beans and cucumber and tomato salad for lunch a few times. Davy and I had a few friends over and grilled our squash, zucchini, peppers, and onions along with sausage. The vegetables on the grill, tossed only with olive oil, salt, and pepper, never disappoint.

On Sunday we experimented with a recipe I found in March for breaded zucchini filled with mozzarella cheese. I knew that we'd appreciate it the most when zucchini was in season and we'd had it enough on the grill to almost tire of it. We ate it with homemade meat sauce that I refreshed with some ripe tomatoes, and it turned out beautifully: the mozzarella and breading browned on the top, and the zucchini was cooked but not soggy. There was also enough basil and garlic to make a double batch of pesto, and that played a role in our meal as well.

I marinated chicken breasts with olive oil, parsley, lemon juice, chilis, coriander seed, and cumin seed on Monday for dinner. The yellow and green beans, though almost a week old, were still crisp and fresh when we steamed them. Some potatoes held over from a previous share week were delicious roasted with olive oil and rosemary to complete the meal. Actually, the meal wasn't complete until I indulged in some peach pie.

Friday, July 24, 2009

CSA Week 7 and 8

The past few weeks have flown by, and I have been neglecting my blog. I still don't have much time for the two posts I'm behind on, but I will share some pictures and a few of the highlights.

I used the green cabbage from Week 7 to make a Pad Thai type chicken dish, and that also included the sweet pepper, which contributed sweetness and crunch to the dish. Most of the arugula went into salads with the tomatoes and basil vinaigrette. The peaches have been very juicy, and I remembered just how much I love cucumbers and tomatoes with feta.

I also managed to make some pesto, and roasted tomatoes, sweet peppers, zucchini, squash, onion and garlic with the vegetable assortment I had in my fridge near the end of the week.

Now that we're totally moved, I should be able to post more regularly, and more often.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Return of the Radishes

I wasn't expecting radishes this week, but we got some! I have to figure out what to make with those and:

- a big bag of tomatoes

- peaches

- basil

- sweet peppers

- cucumbers

- zucchini

- summer squash

- red yard long beans

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Nelson County Peaches

I was thrilled to get Darbi's email last night that we'll be receiving peaches from Nelson County this week and hopefully a few more as long as they're in season. We also got:

- sweet peppers

- onions

- two types of cucumbers

- zucchini

- yellow squash (pictured)

- a large bag of heirloom tomatoes

- fennel

- basil

- a bag of different types of beans - standard green snap beans and yard long (both red and green)

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


We got gorgeous blackberries this week, and tomatoes (a variety) for the first time. The share also included:

- spring onions

- garlic

- fennel

- arugula

- potatoes

- sweet pepper

- cabbage

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

CSA Week 6

July has already been a complete whirlwind, so it's surprising that were still going through our veggies at a steady pace. I think I ate basil in everything this week because there was so much of it and it gives everything an extra flavor punch.

On Tuesday I made a tuna salad (tuna packed in olive oil is a must) with white beans, red onion and basil. I had it for lunch the following day with a whole wheat pita and a big pile of spicy arugula.

We had friends over on Thursday night to see the new house - I haven't cooked there yet but I can't wait for the gas stove. I used the last of our venison sausage provisions in an earthy risotto with chard and roasted carrots and green beans. Roasting the vegetables bought out the beans' carrots' sweetness even more. I forgot to add the vermouth at the beginning, but there was enough of a flavor variety that I didn't even miss it.

Friday was a long-awaited holiday, and we celebrated by making hash browns, scrambled eggs, and an arugula salad with sweet pepper and pine nuts. It's amazing how fresh, homemade hash browns taste compared to stale, artificial restaurant potatoes. That evening I roasted some of Shannon's homegrown zucchini and squash with fennel and onion from the share for a pasta salad. I combined the vegetables with lemon zest, basil, feta, and a simple dressing to finish it off Saturday morning before the Fourth of July cookout.

My pizza from Friday's dinner at 3 Monkeys was the perfect easy meal for Sunday night with an arugula salad. On Monday I indulged in another simple dinner with more of the tuna salad, arugula, and pita. I also snacked on some of the sauteed green cabbage I decided to make that night while I had some spare time. It was savory and spicy with the addition of a little sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, and Thai peppers, and it ended up being an appealing snack on Tuesday as well.

I was off pick up duty on Tuesday and used the rest of the basil from the previous week's share to make a basil vinaigrette. It's reminiscent of pesto, but lighter due to the added tang of vinegar and the absence of cheese. I finished off the cabbage and sauteed some chicken with garlic to eat with the vinaigrette and leftover pasta.

Between summer activities and trying to clean out the kitchen before moving, I've managed to come up with some decent meals. Hopefully the trend can continue as we pack and move our equipment to a new setting with a fancy gas stove.

Fresh Start

After a week off, I was excited to receive:

- a small head of green cabbage

- a sweet pepper

- fennel

- basil

- arugula

- potatoes

- red onions

- chard

- sweet carrots

Sunday, June 28, 2009

CSA Week 5

Although it seems that I have been neglecting to update my blog, I have really been waiting to post a new entry because we didn't get a share this week. Partway through Week 5, Darbi sent an email to all of the CSA members to ask if we would mind skLinkipping a week due to the rain and some other conditions affecting the crops. She and Adam are going to add a share on to the end instead of providing one for Week 6. I had finished most of my share by Tuesday, but some leftovers along with local chard and squash from Ellwood Thompson's will tide me over until next week's pick up.

The first meal I made with our produce from the fifth week (and some leftover squash and potatoes from the fourth week) was the Summer Squash Gratin from 101 Cookbooks. Instead of fresh oregano in the sauce, I picked basil from the pot on my front porch. It was more reminiscent of pesto, but to me it made the dish lighter and more summery than oregano would have. I substituted cheddar for the gruyere, because we always have cheddar in the fridge, and used two Tablespoons instead of four to mix with the bread crumbs.

This gratin isn't at all traditional, but the cheese and butter really give it a rich base. I was able to eat the leftovers for the next three days along with dinner on Tuesday night, and I looked forward to it every time. The sauce also served as a delicious salad dressing for the whole week, since the recipe said to not use all of it in the gratin.

Davy was sick all week, and Thai food really appealed to him on Wednesday. We got take out and had Swiss chard sauteed in olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice on the side. On Thursday night we went to a friend's house for a cookout. We contributed braised kale and broccoletti to eat alongside grilled bison, steak, corn, and potatoes from the farmer's market.

I kept the remaining greens ate them with leftover Pad Thai for lunch on Monday. The next day we grilled pork chops, squash and onions, and roasted carrots and potatoes from the last of our produce. The carrots had gotten a little soft after a week, but they were still sweet and roasted nicely with the potatoes. We had a small serving of the root vegetables left after dinner, and we finished them off in a frittata with chard and cheddar on Saturday. The picture below does it justice - it slid right out of the pan, which was a victory because our frittatas usually stick at least partially.

I am impatient for a new round of vegetables to work with, though having a week off didn't seem to hurt our eating at all.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

An Almost Summer Share

Darbi posted on the Fertile Crescent Farm blog that this week's and next week's shares would be a little lighter as they transition into summer. My refrigerator is still full after receiving:

- baby carrots

- kale

- swiss chard (bonus)

- broccoli rabe

- mesclun mix

- new potatoes

- spring onions

- lemon cucumber

- regular cucumber

- zucchini

- baby squash

Thursday, June 11, 2009

CSA Week 4

Last Wednesday I rediscovered an ingredient that always makes me more excited about salad. Feta cheese just tastes like summer, and I tend to forget about it for awhile so that it's always exciting when I buy it again. Cucumber and pine nuts rounded out a delicious salad that I ate last week. Davy used the rest of the salad mix for lunch with leftover boneless wings.

We ordered a pizza from Arianna's after kickball on Wednesday despite planning to make a stiry fry with our pak choi. As a compromise, I sauteed the greens with sesame oil, garlic, and soy sauce to eat with our pepperoni and spinach slices.

On Thursday I finished the cous cous, feta and squash dish for lunch, and ate the rest of the pizza for dinner.

Keeping with the half homemade/half takeout idea from the night before, I found a recipe for braised kale that rekindled my enthusiasm for eating leafy greens. It's a very easy method that can be adapted to different amounts and types of greens, and I used it again Saturday night with collard and mustard greens. The only change I made was omitting the garlic (we were out of it the first time and I opted to leave it out the second time). I used a yellow onion on Thursday, and the baby leeks on Saturday. Both worked very well to flavor the dish without overwhelming any of the other tastes.

I incorporated the Swiss chard into Shannon's birthday lasagna. It was only enough for one layer, but it certainly contributed to the meal. I sauteed the rest of the yellow onion in olive oil, and kept the chard on the heat for a very short time, just to wilt it. I've eaten the lasgana once so far since Saturday, and there are still a few pieces remaining to look forward to.

The turnips, potatoes, and squash were still in my refrigerator when the next share arrived, but they are less perishable. If all else fails, I can always turn to the new block of feta in my cheese drawer for inspiration.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

CSA Weeks 2 and 3

I know I am at least a week behind on my CSA posting, but first I have to mention the delicious strawberries shown in this picture. Shannon spent a Friday morning in Chesterfield picking berries, and there was a huge bowl on the table when I got home from work. They were gone in two days, and were so perfect that they didn't need anything besides a quick rinse.

But Back to Week 2, which featured some grilling in honor of Memorial Day, and a few made over sandwiches. We only had half a bag of salad to contend with that week, and the standard add-ins - olive oil, sunflower seeds, freshly ground pepper, red wine vinegar - made their appearances.

I had neglected a few spring onions from the winter co-op, and mixed them into the new spring onions with olive and spices to throw on the grill. They were smoky and sweet, a refreshing side dish to the cheeseburgers and chicken leftover from the holiday.

While steamed broccoli isn't something out of the ordinary for me to make on a week night, this broccoli was noticeably more flavorful than anything from the grocery store despite some yellow florets.

On the same night I roasted the small Japanese turnips and revamped a tuna sandwich with some of the mesclun mix and fresh toast.

Friday night was another grilling event, this time with marinated flat iron steak, grilled potato chips, and Asian greens with warm ginger dressing. The tatsoi, mizuna, and baby pac choi wilted part of the way with the dressing, and I covered them to trap some of the heat and help them lose their excessive crunch.

I improved upon another leftover sandwich with the salad mix Monday for lunch. The greens lightened a portabello and pesto panini from Can Can. For dinner that evening Davy and I made a quick stir fry/fried rice dish with our leftover Asian greens, the remainder of the steamed broccoli, rice, and some of the grilled steak.

The fried rice provided lunch the next day, and by the time of the next pick up all that we were left with was a small amount of the salad mix.

Last Tuesday night Davy made a shrimp and white bean dish with cous cous from Real Simple. He substituted our garlic scapes for scallions, and sauteed mizuna and tatsoi with garlic and fish sauce to have on the side. We had leftovers for lunch on Wednesday, and then the vegetables were put on hold for a few days while I was out of town.

I brought the Swiss chard and turnips to my parents, and on Saturday night we sauteed the chard with garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. The greens were a satisfying addition to the grilled salmon and potatoes we also ate for dinner.

After a few more delays, I managed to saute the baby squash and spring onions to combine with cous cous. It was nice to use the last of the produce and cous cous from the shrimp dish, and by stirring in feta the dish made a healthy summer meal. We ate the cous cous Tuesday night, and decided to start the next CSA week at the same time by making a salad with the new bag of mesclun mix. We also got a small cucumber, which added some crunch and some much-needed variety to the salad.

The pak choi still looks healthy in its plastic bag in the fridge, and the mustard greens had to be given away so that they wouldn't be rotten by the time we got to them. Overall I think we did a decent job eating what we had around, but I'm sure the challenges of after work activities and weekend trips will continue throughout the summer.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Greens Greens Greens

There are several varieties of greens in our share this week, along with other tasty vegetables:

- collard greens

- Swiss chard

- mustard greens

- kale

- baby squash

- cucumber

- salad mix

- turnips

- baby leeks

- new potatoes

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

More Variety

This week we are receiving another round of familiar and unprecedented items (and no salad mix):

- garlic scapes

- turnips

- baby tatsoi

- Swiss chard

- mizuna

- mustard greens

- baby squash

- round zucchini

- pak choy

- spring onions

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Noticeable Differences

There are several different items to try out this week, along with some of the same:

- wonderful-smelling strawberries

- spring onions

- mizuna

- baby pac choi

- tatsoi (a dark, leafy green)

- salad mix

- broccoli!

- white Japanese turnips

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

CSA Week 1

We spent the whole holiday weekend at home, but Davy and I still couldn't finish all of our produce from last week. I do feel the benefits of having copious amounts of greens around, but I need to get back into the swing of having a weekly produce package.

I won't go through every detail of the day-to-day meals because I think everyone would tire quickly of hearing about salads with arugula and mesclun mix. Instead, imagine that almost all of the meals this past week involved simple salads with oil, vinegar, black pepper, sunflower seeds or pine nuts, and maybe some Parmigiano-Reggiano. There was one exception, which was on the first day when we had very ripe fresh strawberries, and they were a perfect complement to the crisp greens.

One of the reasons that we had such a hard time finishing the salad mix was because it's not as versatile (in my opinion) as a green such as arugula. I used the spicy arugula on top of English muffin pizzas for dinner one night, drawing inspiration from 8 1/2's hero with arugula and fresh mozzarella.

Recently there have been one or two nights a week where I've made diLinknner just for myself because band practice or a softball game overlaps with tennis after work. Often these dinners include pasta and whatever else is around that can be incorporated quickly. Last week I threw together more of the arugula, mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and some of the pasta cooking water for a satisfying, one-bowl meal.

I was particularly excited about the baby napa cabbages because I never think to buy it, and I know it's an easy ingredient to eat raw or cooked. The Fertile Crescent blog offered a tempting recipe for Asian Slaw that included the cabbage and spring onions. Davy and I decided to halve the recipe since there were only two of us and we were adding components at the end. We stir-fried some ground pork we had in the freezer (half a pound) with about 7 oz. of rice noodles that were soaked in hot water for 30-45 minutes. When they were done, we added them on top of all of the slaw and ate it room temperature with a little soy sauce and Sriracha. The combination of meat, noodles, and slaw turned out to be a light and refreshing but still filling dinner that we ate two more times throughout the week.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to get to the mustard greens until Monday, and they were slightly wilted. After sauteing the leaves them with garlic and a little peanut oil, we tossed the greens with some oyster sauce according to a Mark Bittman recipe. They were fantastic with the slaw creation, but the next day they were extremely spicy. I'm not sure if there was some type of chemical reaction overnight, but I felt like I was getting a wasabi or horseradish rush through my sinuses when I was eating them.

In other news, I tried a recipe I've been holding onto for a few years for a dairy-free chocolate pie. It's Alton Brown's "Moo-Less Chocolate Pie" recipe, and I tracked down the silken tofu it requires at Whole Foods (after an unsuccessful trip to Trader Joe's). I used Kahlua and some farm honey that I had around, and the flavors definitely stand out with the chocolate. The pie is surprisingly rich and creamy for having so much tofu and so few ingredients overall. I am already thinking about playing around with the liqueur and honey to influence the end result - it's a great, semi-healthy dessert to have in my rotation. Especially when I need to balance out bowls and bowls of salad.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Early CSA Start!

The CSA is starting this week instead of next week! We are going to get:

- salad mix

- arugula

- strawberries

- mustard greens

- baby nappa cabbage

- maybe sunflower shoots, radishes and scallions

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ice Cream Cake and Asparagus

It's been over a month since I've updated my blog, and there have been a lot of memorable cooking and eating and food-related moments in that time. The Edible Garden co-op ended on a high note with strawberries and asparagus, proving that Richmond really does have a week or two of spring weather before the heat and humidity set in. There were two wonderful dinners at Zeus Gallery within a week of each other, and a very special ice cream cake from Bev's. Davy and I grilled the first hamburgers of the season in mid-April, and attended two successful tailgates with notable menus. The Fertile Crescent CSA starts at the end of May (a little late because of cooler temperatures), and I can't wait to report on our weekly yield and the meals that we create. Stay tuned!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Neverending Pork Shoulder and Week 11

The turnips didn't make it this week, but I did get to experiment with pea shoots. I realized that I've eaten them in the salad mix when we've gotten it, though they are also good steamed quickly with some sauteed ginger and garlic. When I cooked mine, I included about a cup of edamame and added soy sauce and sesame seeds at the end. Unfortunately I had to pour off most of the soy sauce because I had added too much, and the pea shoots were slightly overcooked, but it was still an enjoyable side dish.

I made a rosemary garlic sauce to put on the spinach and egg pasta from Week 9. It had strong flavors from its ingredients, but it didn't overwhelm the fresh noodles. We also got Italian dandelion greens that week, and I braised those in the same pot (my new Dutch oven!) as the pork shoulder.

Working from an Amanda Hesser recipe that I found online, I browned the 3-4 pound bone in pork shoulder in my Dutch oven. I took it out and sauteed diced carrots, onion, whole garlic cloves, rosemary, and parsley until they were soft.

The recipe called for red wine, but I love cooking with dry vermouth and used 1/2 cup of that to deglaze the pan instead. Next I added the pork back to the pot and covered it about a third of the way with water. It went into the 325 degree oven for several hours, and Davy and I turned and basted it every half hour. We didn't eat it until the next day, which the recipe said would make it even tastier.

When I reheated it in the oven, I just put the chopped dandelion greens right on top of the meat for 30-45 minutes at 300 degrees. We ate the pulled pork and greens over rice with the carrots and onions that had cooked with the meat. Everything was delicious and full of flavor, and the greens were still slightly tangy to offset the rich pork. After two nights of greens, pork, and rice, we started making pork nachos and quesadillas for some variation. There are still a few servings left, but I haven't gotten sick of it yet.

On Friday I made a roasted shrimp and broccoli dish that was simple and rewarding. I tossed the broccoli with cumin and coriander seeds, along with a few other ingredients, before adding the shrimp. The shrimp was flavored with lemon zest, olive oil, salt and pepper, and everything blended together nicely.

For the upcoming week, I ordered whole wheat fettuccine, eggs, more Italian dandelion greens, sunflower sprouts, and curly kale.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Belated Guinness Cake

I discovered the recipe for this Chocolate Stout Cake before St. Patrick's Day, but I didn't have a chance to make it for the 17th because I had just gotten back from a trip on Monday night. Luckily no one seemed to mind when I served it after a filling dinner at Buz and Ned's on Friday. It is a very moist, rich cake with deep flavors. The cake itself isn't overly sweet, nor is the chocolate ganache frosting, but they meld together to create a luscious dessert experience. Unfortunately the cake was gone so quickly that I forgot to take pictures.

I made half of the recipe and it was a normal 9", two layer sized cake. One of the interpretations I found said to make the cakes at least twenty-four hours before frosting, and I was able to do that. I also made the ganache the day before (three-quarters of what the original recipe asked for) and had to heat it on the stove before it was soft enough to spread. In addition, I sifted and stirred in 1.5-2 cups of confectioner's sugar to take the bittersweet edge off and give the frosting a little more volume. Overall I was very pleased with the outcome, but I might try to experiment in some other ways when I make this cake again.

On Thursday I'll be picking up turnips, pea shoots, a cucumber, and sweet potatoes from Edible Garden. I also have to post about the pork shoulder I made in my new Dutch oven. Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Co-Op Week 10

I know I haven't been updating regularly, and I'm sorry for anyone who has been checking. I was out of town last week and didn't order anything from the co-op. Today I'm picking up fresh spinach and egg pasta, a cucumber, salad greens, and Italian dandelion. I should be posting entries about everything next week. Have a nice weekend!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Co-Op Week 8

You may or may not have noticed that I skipped Week 7. I decided to take a week off because we had a lot of vegetables around and I knew we had some dinners planned for the weekend. This week we'll resume with:

- a head of hydroponic bibb lettuce

- hubbard squash

- curly kale

- pumpkin ravioli

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Chicken Saga

I haven't been very consistent with the posts about what I've been making, so I'm going to do my best to review the past few weeks.

Aside from the standard lettuce, cucumber, feta, sunflower seed salads that I rely on, I made a Thai cucumber salad for the Super Bowl. It was flavored with fish sauce, lime juice, chili, peanuts, red onion, and sweet peppers. All of the cucumbers from the co-op have been fresh and crunchy, and they were especially appealing as the main ingredient in this salad.

When it was really cold I was trying to experiment with different cuts of meats, and I thought it would be a good idea to try a stewing chicken. I got a recipe for a chicken pot roast that could be adjusted slightly for a stewing chicken, which is a hen that is usually 10-18 months. The chickens that we're used to eating are younger, so stewing chickens tend to be tougher and have a little more flavor. They also need to be cooked to account for these qualities, and I was excited to make a roast bird with purple fingerling potatoes from the co-op, carrots, and onion.

I didn't have a roasting pan with a lid, so I used foil to cover everything, and eventually I realized that foil and a limited number of hours weren't going to be enough. The chicken, though it was cooked through, was still difficult to cut because it hadn't tenderized much at all. Davy and I ate some of the vegetables, which were properly cooked and dripping with flavor, and then we made a last minute run to Buz and Ned's right before it closed.

The chicken still had potential, and I boiled it for hours in my soup pot. It made the apartment smell heavenly, and eventually I was able to pull it apart and make chicken soup. I used some of the carrots and onions from the original roast, and added celery and ditalini to make it a more substantial dish.

One of the items I was most excited about from the co-op was the pound of oyster mushrooms from Dave and Dee's. Sensi used to get their products when I worked there, and it was great to try a new kind of mushroom directly from a farm. Oyster mushrooms are fairly mild, which makes them versatile, and since I'm the only one in our apartment who eats mushrooms, they went a long way. For one dinner I sauteed them with butter and spinach, and ate them over olive bread toast with a poached egg on top. I also added them to leftover risotto and baked pasta, and repeated the olive bread toast and poached egg meal.

The salad mix I got last week was a nice change from the head of bibb lettuce we'd chosen for several weeks in a row. The leaves varied from basic to unfamiliar, and were a pleasant blend of sweet, spicy, and earthy flavors.

I splurged on a pound of homemade fettuccine to make fettuccine alfredo for Valentine's Day, and I could tell how wonderful it was going to be before I even dropped it in the boiling water. The fresh aroma was magnified while the pasta cooked; it was extremely tender and the perfect al dente after two minutes.

Although it's only mid-February, I think that some new produce items will be available soon. In the mean time, I'm going to stock up on squash, continue buying lettuce, cucumber, and eggs, and maybe find an excuse to buy another pound of fresh pasta.

Co-Op Week 6

I'm going out of town this weekend and there aren't many new options available, so I only got eggs and lettuce this week. Hopefully next week will be more interesting.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Co-Op Week 5

Since a lot of what I ordered last week went to my parents, this week's order was similar:

- small cucumber

- 5 oz. salad mix

- 1 lb. turnips

- a pound of fresh fettuccine

- 1 lb. collard greens

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Winter Co-Op Week 4

I ordered the following for this week:

- a dozen eggs

- a head of bibb lettuce

- two small cucumbers

- a pound of turnips

- a head of cabbage

- a pound of pumpkin ravioli (for my parents)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Winter Co-Op Week 3

I had to do a little research, but I found out what a stewing chicken is so that I could order one this week. It's a 10-18 month old hen that is best when prepared by braising or stewing. We'll see how it goes. I also got:

- a pound of fresh oyster mushrooms

- a large seedless cucumber

- a head of hydroponic bibb lettuce

- a pound of purple French fingerling potatoes

Bad Apples = Good Applesauce

In a couple days I'll order my fourth round of farm products from the Edible Garden co-op. I'm really enjoying the flexibility of picking exactly what and how much I get, although it does require some foresight.

The first set of produce wasn't the best ever, but it is the middle of winter so I still consider myself lucky for being able to get tomatoes and cucumbers. The hydroponic tomatoes were a bright, cheery red, with an inviting, summery tomato smell, but the insides were fairly bland in color and flavor. Luckily the cucumber was fresh and crispy, and it pulled its weight as well as the tomato's in a salad. I ended up mixing some good canned tuna from Whole Foods into the salad, and eating it with pita chips for lunch a couple times.

I made a cous cous dish with the other tomato that worked well because the tomato was cooked, and it also featured green onions, garbanzo beans, edamame and feta. The elephant garlic, which is larger and milder than the garlic I'm used to, scented various meals throughout the first and second weeks.

When I ordered the pound of Winesap apples I had a feeling they might be small, or inedible, but it was still a disappointment when I tried biting into two of them. I'm grateful that they were a little too sweet and mealy because they gave me the opportunity to make applesauce for the first time, and it turned out well. The rosy pink applesauce (I left the apple skins on) complimented a roast pork shoulder with a spice rub, applesauce, and the collard greens. I steamed the greens with water, olive oil, and garlic, and they retained a bit of their sharpness but were not overpoweringly bitter.

The second week was less co-op focused. I got a bone-in lamb shoulder that went into the freezer for a day that offers hours of free time to cook it slowly. Davy and I made breakfast sandwiches with a few of the eggs Saturday morning, and we'll probably repeat the meal for a weekday dinner, but I'm still waiting to think of something to do with the others.

My only repeated item the second week was a small seedless cucumber, and I used it in a couple salads with the head of hydroponic bibb lettuce that also came from a farm. The lettuce was soft and slightly crunchy, and it felt like a bonus since lettuce that fresh is usually only available during traditional growing months.

I'm sure I'll get sick of the half hour drive to Edible Garden, but for now it feels like a treat to receive a box of locally raised or grown food every week. I have a feeling that the fruit, vegetables, and meat to come will outshine the mediocre tomatoes.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Winter Co-Op Week 2

I couldn't resist getting another cucumber this week. I also ordered:

- a bone-in lamb shoulder

- a head of bibb lettuce

- a dozen eggs

Monday, January 12, 2009

Winter Co-Op

On Saturday I put in my order with Edible Garden for this week's co-op offering. We are getting:

-hydroponic tomatoes and cucumbers

-Winesap apples

-collard greens


-acorn squash

I pick it up Thursday and am excited to have some variety in my winter produce routine.