30 June 2012

Friday Night Dinners

Blackberry Sauce
Yep, there's those tomatoes again.  We are completely addicted.  There is probably no limit to what I would pay for a tomato this delicious.  If you want them, they can be obtained at my dealer.
Our family friend Larry, brilliant gardener and top notch accordion player originally from Ireland, always brings my parents a big sack of his new potatoes.  Then if I play my cards right, I get my own smaller sack out of their stash.  My favourite ones are the teeny tiny ones you can eat in one bite.  Those never make it to the plate though! 
Kurt suggested some sort of savoury blackberry sauce be poured over our dinner this particular evening.  Too lazy to look up a recipe, I boiled about 20 blackberries in some red wine until they broke down, added some butter, salt, pepper and honey and threw it in the blender.  Pretty good if you don't mind chomping on the seeds, which I don't.  This got poured over potatoes which I had boiled and then browned in the cast iron with some onions and pieces of a apple and sage field roast sausage, which I like because they are not processed like so many other meat substitutes.  Also, asparagus.

Fiddlehead Ferns
 I finally got my hands on some fiddle head ferns and they don't keep for long, so they became the focus of this particular Friday night dinner.  Saute them like you would green beans with olive oil and a little garlic.  I put them on a bed of GOC style whole wheat fettucine and served those with hummus on crusty whole wheat and kale tomato salad.  Yummy. 

Lasagna with atypical sides
Spinach and ricotta whole wheat lasagna, roasted cauliflower, microgreen and shitake salad.  More detail on the salad in a later post.
Individual Lasagnas
I bought these large ramekins for serving cassoulet, but when we were redoing the kitchen, and I was forced to get creative with the microwave and rice cooker, I did something very strange and made these individual lasagnas......in the microwave.  Pretty good considering, but nowhere as good as baked.  But, without that experiment, I may not have ever come up with this use for these dishes.  It's a great way to get your lasagna fix without having tons of leftovers.  Served here with a simple salad and crusty bread.

Soba Salad

Soba noodles are a traditional Japanese noodle made from buckwheat.  They are also a classic old-school vegetarian food.  I didn't really know why until I looked them up and found out "Soba contains all eight essential amino acids, including lysine, which is lacking in wheat."  Boy oh boy do I love love love finding another food to throw in the face of people who like to say "humans need meat for the amino acids."  Please don't try and school me on nutrition unless you know what you are talking about!  Sorry for the rant, had to be said.  On to the recipe.

Boil soba noodles in plenty of water for 5 mins, drain and rinse in cool water.
In a large bowl, mix 1 T almond butter, 2 T rice wine vinegar, 1 t sesame oil, and 1 T Braggs until almond butter is all incorporated.   Toss the noodles in the sauce until evenly distributed.
Toss in any vegetables you have!  I like cucumbers, tomatoes and green onions myself.  Kick it up a notch with some sriracha and goma shio for interest and crunch!  Easy peasy.  Serve cold.

A weeks worth of blackberries

Every day I pick about 15 blackberries and add them to my stash in the fridge.  I thought I was saving them to make cobbler, but I think I enjoy them more as a snack on their own.  No cooking needed and check out these stats!!!  "This fruit has multiple macronutrients — high dietary fiber, heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats (especially in its numerous chewable seeds), low overall fat content, and protein combined with high micronutrient levels of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. Blackberries are a particularly good source of vitamin A, potassium and calcium."

The intense heat here seems to be taking it's toll on my blackberry bush.  I'm going to go fight the birds for the last few berries of the season.  They yell at me every time I go out to pick the berries.  It is pretty hilarious.

Quinoa Polenta with Shitake Pistachio Sauce

When I get burnt out on pasta, rice and potatoes for dinner I usually turn to polenta.  Always organic because I'm not into Monsanto or their frankencorn.  Plain polenta is fine, but the quinoa in this polenta adds another textural layer that particularly worked with this dish. 
Cut the polenta into 1/2 inch thick rounds, and toasted them in a little coconut oil in the cast iron skillet and set aside.  Caramelize a sweet onion over low heat until brown, add the sliced shitake mushrooms and continue cooking until mushrooms have given up all their liquid.  Add garlic, thyme and rosemary and cook for another minute to infuse the flavours.  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour over the mushrooms and cook for one minute.  Then slowly add milk while continuously stirring as you would when working with a roux.  When it reaches your desired consistency, add in chopped pistachios and ground pepper and spoon over polenta rounds.  Serve with lighter salady items to balance out the richness of the sauce.  I served mine with sliced local tomatoes and zucchini ribbons dressed in basil oil and balsamic. 

Mexi Salad

I randomly found myself buying jicama at the store the other day.  Though I love it, I hadn't bought it in years because I always seemed to forget I had it until it was already rotten.  Since it is such a pain to peel, and I had time on my hands that particular day, I went ahead and processed the whole thing into 1 inch strips and splashed on some apple cider vinegar as a preservative. 
I already had an English cucumber, avocado, local tomatoes and greens, thus this salad was born.  If you're not from St. Louis, you may not know how insanely hot it is.  Baking is out of the question and even sauteing adds too much steam to the already steamy environment.  I kind of like having restrictions to force me to be more creative.  I dressed the salad with red pepper oil and more apple cider vinegar and sprinkled a little cayenne on top.  It earned K's seal of approval.