Potato Salad with Peas and Mint

I love to cook.  I love trying new recipes and experimenting with flavors and spices.  Before I went to college, I was sure I was going to go to culinary school.  I started working in restaurants when I turned 16.  I started out in the kitchen and thought I’d found my niche until I realized that I would never have a weekend off and I’d have to spend hours slaving in a hot kitchen and all for a measly salary because, let’s be honest, there are few out of hundreds of thousands that actually make it big.

So now my husband and friends get to reap the benefits of my cooking adventures.  Joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) has been the best decision ever for someone like me.  Each week is like an episode of “Chopped”.  What will be in my CSA box this week?  What recipe can I come up with that uses as many of the ingredients as possible?  I’m a freak, I know, but it’s fun.

This week brought us red skin potatoes, mint, goat’s milk feta, ramps, popcorn, maple syrup, spelt flour, and eggs.  I first thought of just a pea salad with mint and red onion, but then I thought about throwing the potatoes in and then topping with the feta…YUM!!  It was one of my better ideas.

Potato Salad with Peas and Mint
Adapted from this recipe I found

2 lbs redskin potatoes, chopped into bite sized pieces **It’s better if you chop the potatoes smaller, so they blend with the peas better
12 oz peas (thawed if frozen)
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
2 ramps, chopped (or substitute a shallot or onion)
2 tablespoons vinegar (I used apple cider because that’s what I had, I think red wine would be my first choice)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 oz feta cheese, crumbled
Fresh cracked black pepper and kosher salt to taste

Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold, salted water.  Bring the potatoes to a boil on high, then reduce heat to medium and allow to gently boil until fork tender.  Drain potatoes.  Mix potatoes with the next 5 ingredients.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Top with crumbled feta. I like to mix everything while the potatoes are still warm so they soak up the oil and vinegar.  Serve cold or at room temperature.


Rosti Casserole with Baked Eggs

Yesterday was an exciting day.  A day I had been anticipating for weeks.  It was the start of the CSA I signed up for.  All day, all I could think about was what was going to be in that box. Most ingeniously, I received an e-mail a couple days ago letting me know what might be in the box, so at least I was somewhat prepared.  With baited anticipation, I prepared by searching through recipe books to figure out what I was going to do with turnips, a heaping pile of potatoes, and another dozen eggs I wasn’t expecting.  Fate brought me to my Cooking Light cookbook where in the first few pages I discovered a recipe for Rosti Casserole with Baked Eggs.  Turnips?  Check.  Potatoes?  Check.  Eggs?  Check.  It was a match made in heaven for this CSA box.

Rosti Casserole with Baked Eggs

1 1/4 cups fat free Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups grated, peeled turnips (2-3 small)
1 1/4 cups shredded Gruyere cheese
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup onion (the original recipe called for 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated whole nutmeg
2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and grated (the original recipe called for 1 30 oz package of frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed)
Cooking Spray
8 large eggs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Combine yogurt and flour in a large bowl, stirring well.  Add turnip and next 7 ingredients to yogurt mixture.  Spread potato mixture evenly into a 13 x 9 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, or until bubbly and brown around the edges.  Remove from oven.  With the back of a spoon, make 8 indentations in the top of the potato mixture.  Crack 1 egg into each of the 8 indentations.  Return dish to the oven and bake for 8 minutes, or until egg whites are firm and egg yolks barely move when the pan is touched.  Garnish with chives and additional black pepper, if desired.

Grapefruit Salad with Spiced Pecans and Blue Cheese

So this was lunch today.  I thought about posting just the Grapefruit Vinaigrette, but really the whole thing deserves credit.

I love grapefruit.  I think grapefruit is one of those things you either love or hate, and I love it.  Since citrus season is in full effect, the fridge is chock-full of ’em.

Citrus pairs remarkably well with blue cheese.  Toss in some spicy pecans and some sweet grapefruit vinaigrette and you have the makings of an awesome salad.  I should mention that although the vinaigrette is made with grapefruit juice, it really isn’t sour.  Of course, if you want it to be more sour, up the juice or decrease the amount of honey.

P.S. – I’m also not going to tell you how much stuff to put in your salad.  I think that’s up to you.

Grapefruit Salad with Spiced Pecans and Blue Cheese

Mixed Salad Greens
Grapefruit Wedges
Blue Cheese crumbles
Spiced Pecans

Grapefruit Vinaigrette

1/2 cup grapefruit juice
1 tablespoon honey
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
1/4 cup olive oil

You can do this in a food processor, blender, or bowl.  Put the grapefruit juice and honey in the mixing container of your choice.  Mix and while processor or blender is on (or if your using a bowl, whisk furiously), slowly add olive oil and emulsify.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

For Salad:
Put mixed greens on a  plate.  Top with grapefruit wedges, blue cheese, spiced pecans, and grapefruit vinaigrette.  NOM!

Spiced Pecans

Mmmm… spiced pecans.  I like mine without all the sugary stuff and just straight spicy.  They are awesome to munch on as a snack, but usually I throw them in salads.  You can really use any nut for this recipe, pecans are just my favorite.

Spiced Pecans

1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 garlic salt
2 cups shelled pecans
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat Oven to 325 degrees.

Mix together spices in a small bowl and set aside.  In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium low heat.  Add spice mixture and cook until fragrant (no more than 1-2 minutes), stirring frequently.  Add pecans and stir until coated with spices.  Transfer pecans to baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.  Allow to cool, serve.

Barley Risotto with Mushrooms and Greens

I didn’t grow up eating greens.  The closest thing we got was spinach out of the freezer.  In an effort to eat healthier, I’ve been attempting to incorporate a variety of leafy greens into our diet.  So far we’re up to broccoli rabe, kale, arugula, and dandelion greens.  I feel like an inept foodie by saying that I find them to be incredibly bitter and I feel I have to brace myself before each bite.  I’ve tried blanching before sauteing, but that just doesn’t seem to help.

However, this does not mean I’m claiming defeat.  I know they have to be good.  Rachael Ray is all about the leafy greens… and if she can do it, so can I.

This recipe is a great introductory recipe for leafy greens.  The barley (which is a heart healthy whole grain) cooks into a creamy risotto, paired with meaty mushrooms, and slightly bitter dandelion greens.  It just works.  Plus it’s really healthy, especially if you use low sodium, low fat chicken broth.  Serve this dish as a side, or beef it up by adding cooked chicken.

Barley Risotto with Mushrooms and Greens
Barely Adapted from Eating Well cookbook by Williams-Sonoma

6 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups mushrooms, sliced (baby bella, cremini, button, etc)
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup pearl barley
3 cups dandelion greens, cut into bite sized pieces (or you can substitute baby arugula for a less bitter taste)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

In a medium saucepan, over medium-high heat, bring broth to a simmer.  Turn off heat, cover and keep warm.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  add onion and garlic and saute, stirring frequently, until onion is soft.  Add mushrooms, 1/4 salt, and a few grindings of pepper.  Cook, stirring frequently until mushrooms have released their juices and start to brown.  Add wine and bring to a boil for about 1 minute.

Add 5 cups of hot broth and the barley.  Cover and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally and adding more broth 1/4 cup at a time if the barley becomes dry.  Cook until barley is tender, approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Stir in greens and more broth, if necessary.  Cook, uncovered, until greens are wilted, about 2 minutes.  Stir in parmesan and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.

Roasted Broccoli with Parmesan Crispies

I love Tyler Florence.  His philosophy on food is easy and simple, and I have yet to find a bad recipe.  This recipe is adapted barely from a recipe found in Tyler’s Ultimate.

There isn’t much to say about this, except that it’s delicious.  I love recipes that are super easy and taste great.  This one fits that perfectly.  I love roasted vegetables, it’s an easy way to bring out a lot of flavor without coating them in velveeta or butter.

Roasted Broccoli with Parmesan Crispies

2 heads of broccoli
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Fresh cracked black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bring a pot of salted water to boil.  Trim about one inch off the ends and peel the stalks with a vegetable peeler.  Cut the broccoli into long spears.  When the water comes to a boil, add the broccoli and cook until it’s just tender (about 3 minutes).  The broccoli should still have its bright green color.  Drain in a colander.  Arrange the broccoli on a non stick oven proof pan (I use a rimmed cookie sheet sprayed with Pam).  Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the broccoli and top with a generous amount of fresh black pepper.  Bake until the cheese melts and is crisp and brown, about 10 minutes.  Use a spatula to lift the broccoli out of the pan, and serve.

Pan Fried Lemon- Thyme Ricotta Gnocchi

Few things in this world are better than homemade pasta.

When I was younger, I used to spend a few weeks in the summer visiting my dad in Iowa.  We had a sitter that sometimes took us to her house during the day while my dad was at work.  She lived on a farm out in the middle of nowhere.  There were dirt roads and chickens and pigs and cats running around.  It was amazing.  Far from what I was used to, growing up in the suburbs of Cleveland.  Her mother was Donna Reed minus the make up and heels.  She made everything from scratch…. everything.  One of my clearest memories of that time was sitting in the kitchen and watching her cook.  One afternoon she made pasta.  My young mind was totally blown.  Pasta??  Really??  Not from a box??  I watched in awe as she rolled and folded the dough into a log, and then cut little strips that resembled noodles.

They were absolutely amazing.  So tender and delicious.  To remember something so clearly after 15 some years, it had to have been amazing.

The next time I would have homemade pasta was at a tiny italian restaurant in Midland, PA.  Unfortunately, that place is closed now (which is a horrible culinary tragedy).

One day I will make my own noodles, but for my maiden voyage I decided to stick with something a little more goof-proof.  These little gnocchis were freaking amazing.  I’m talking I didn’t even put my plate on the table because I needed it to be as close to my face as possible amazing.  I served them with a simple spring mix salad with chevre, dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  The salad really helped to balance the richness of the gnocchi.

Lemon – Thyme Ricotta Gnocchi
1 cup all- purpose flour
1 1/2 lbs whole milk ricotta cheese
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 egg
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp fresh thyme

Spread the flour out on a clean, dry work surface.  Mix together all other ingredients and put on top of flour.  Lightly knead the mixture with your hands to incorporate all ingredients.  Gently knead the ingredients into  a log about 10 -12 inches long and let rest for a few minutes (I’d say about 7-10 would be good.  I took the dogs out during my resting time, and I wished I would have let it rest longer).

Cut the log into 4 equal pieces.  Lightly dust a clean, dry work surface with flour and very lightly roll each piece into a 1 inch thick piece of rope.  Cut the gnocchi into 1/2 inch pillows, and lightly dust them with flour.

How To Cook
Heat a skillet on medium heat.  Add a tablespoon of olive oil and a pad of butter.  When the butter has melted, add the gnocchi in a single layer.  Do not overcrowd the pan.  Cook until one side is nice and golden brown (about 2-3 minutes), then flip them over and add 2 cloves of minced garlic.  Cook for another couple minutes until the other side is nice and brown.  Top with freshly grated parmesan cheese and enjoy.