I never thought I needed a kitchen scale, and I put it on my wedding registry thinking that it would be a nice but not necessary accessory. I'm so glad that I did, because it's made our CSA meals significantly easier. Many recipes reference both an approximate amount ("a large bunch") along with the weight of an item, and thanks to my scale, I know exactly how to tailor my ingredients to create the desire proportions.
For example, I found a Bobby Flay recipe for the half head of French endive (or frisee) that we got. The Frisee Salad with Roasted Garlic Dressing calls for 1/2 pound of frisee, and I found out that we only had about 1/4 pound, which led me to halve all of the ingredients. Frisee is a somewhat bitter green, but it has the perfect taste and texture to pair with the sweet roasted garlic flavor in the dressing. We ate the salad alongside our fabulous roast chicken (pictured below) and rice, and I also got a few snacks out of it later in the week. The dressing is versatile enough to be used for any salad, and I'm looking forward to making it again soon.
I'm always searching for new ways to use leftover chicken, and I was especially excited to try The Splendid Table's Southwestern Lime-Chicken Hash. I used my scale again to measure out a pound of cooked chicken, which was essentially all of the dark meat from the bird. The spring onions and larger squash from the share went into the hash in place of red pepper. Davy and I decided we didn't want eggs with the hash, and instead broiled the pan with a layer of cheese on top. I didn't have tomato paste, but I used the end of a jar of salsa instead. I didn't taste a lot of southwestern flavor, so if I tried this again I would probably add some cumin and chili powder. It was fun to have a different style of dinner, but there was a lot of chopping involved for this dish, especially in my hot kitchen.
We finished the chicken on Sunday evening with a cabbage and escarole gratin. The recipe was another New York Times entry from Martha Rose Shulman, and I used half a head of green cabbage and half a head of escarole (below), which happened to be about half of the greens that the recipe called for. A small container of long-grain rice, leftover from our chicken dinner, went into the gratin instead of arborio, but the dish didn't suffer. It's light, but still has a substantial feel to it, and it's a convenient way to use up vegetables and other odds and ends from the fridge.
Every so often something catches my eye on tastepotting.com, and when I saw this recipe for kohlrabi fritters, I though it would be a fitting way to use the strange-looking vegetable. I put together an easy, chunky tsatsiki sauce, boiled some pasta in case the fritters failed and/or they weren't enough for us for dinner, and prepped the ingredients. Since our kohlrabi wasn't quite medium-sized, I decided to supplement it with the smaller squash.
I grated both of the vegetables and put the batter together. We don't have a large cast-iron pan, so I decided to use the dutch oven instead. The first batch fell apart and stuck to the bottom of the pot, which makes me think that I didn't let the oil heat up enough. The second round of fritters behaved much better, and we ate two each, with a hearty topping of tsatsiki. I had to incorporated the languishing basil and some parsley to reach the 8 tablespoon mark for the herbs, but I was pleased with the combination.
Looking back over Week 5's dinners, snacks and lunches, I'm pleased with the new techniques and recipes that we tried. It's fun making vegetables more of the main event, and even more fun weighing everything before I cook.
Southwestern Lime-Chicken Hash
Adapted from The Splendid Table
Serves 4 to 6
- About 1 pound of cooked chicken,shredded or chopped
- Juice of 2 medium limes
- 1 large onion, cut into 1/4 inch dice
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Stems of 8 branches of fresh coriander, thinly sliced
- Fresh coriander leaves from 8 branches
- 1-1/2 cups of squash or other vegetables
- 1 to 2 fresh jalapeño chilies, seeded, deveined and minced
- 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup chicken broth mixed with 1 tablespoon salsa
- 2-1/2 pounds boiled and chilled red-skinned potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- Canola or extra-virgin olive oil
- grated cheddar cheese
1. Preheat oven broiler. In a large bowl, combine the chicken and the lime juice. Let stand while you gather the rest of the ingredients. Add the onions, coriander stems, half the coriander leaves, the squash, garlic, tomato paste, broth or water, and the potatoes. Toss with salt and pepper.
2. Generously film with oil the bottom of a 12-inch skillet that has an oven-proof handle. Set skillet over medium-high heat. Turn the contents of the bowl into the skillet and spread it out. Cook, adjusting heat as needed, to slowly crisp the ingredients (8 to 10 minutes). Use a spatula to turn pieces if they threaten to stick.
3. When vegetables are starting to brown, spread out the mix over the skillet so the bottom of the mix can crisp. Once golden brown, remove from the oven and sprinkle with cheese
4. Slip the hash under the broiler 1-2 minutes to start it browning. Broil until cheese is sufficiently melted.
5. Serve the hash hot, sprinkled with the rest of the fresh coriander leaves.
Greens and Red Cabbage Gratin
Adapted from MARTHA ROSE SHULMAN
1/2 pound greens, such as escarole, stemmed and cleaned in two changes of water
1/2 pound green cabbage, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced or pressed
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/8 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup rice, preferably a short grain rice like arborio, cooked
1 ounce cheddar cheese, grated (1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon breadcrumbs
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice water. When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the greens. Blanch for about two minutes, until tender and bright green. Transfer to the ice water, then drain and squeeze out water. Chop coarsely.
2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large, heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat, and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until tender and translucent, about five minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute, until fragrant. Stir in the cabbage and about 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, for 10 minutes, until the cabbage is tender and fragrant but still has some texture and color. Stir in the chopped blanched greens. Add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Beat the egg in a bowl, and stir in the cooked vegetables, parsley, rice and cheese. Stir together well and scrape into a 1-quart baking dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top, and drizzle on the remaining olive oil. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, until firm and browned on the top. Serve hot or warm.
Yield: Serves two to three
Advance preparation: This can be made a day ahead and reheated. Alternatively, prepare the vegetables through step 2 a day ahead, and assemble the gratin the next day. It will keep for four or five days in the refrigerator.