Out of the box

Turns out someone I graduated from high school with is a farmer. I felt pretty damn awesome about that so I joined her CSA for the summer and have been kicking my butt to find interesting ways to eat radishes, arugula, and greens greens greens. The following are some of my favs thus far...more to come as I endeavor to eat everything before it goes bad...

Walnut, Radish & Arugula Sandwiches (are my new favorite meal)
from Mark Bittman's Food Matter's Cookbook

Drop one bunch of washed radish's into a food processor. Whiz them up until they are in chunky little pieces. Remove as much as you can to a separate bowl, stragglers, are ok. Put .5 cup walnuts & 1 cup packed arugula in the food pr...ocessor. Grate the zest from 1 orange (or 1 lemon) into processor as well. Whiz all of that up for about 1 minute - it will look a little gritty. With the food processor on, pour about 1-2tbsp. olive oil in the spout. This will emulsify with the walnut/arugula/zest and produce one beautiful green paste. Turn processor off, taste and salt and pepper as necessary. Spread that number on some bread or crackers and then sprinkle with pre-prepared radish bits. Surprisingly delightful & addictive. 

Potato Salad with Radishes & Fennel Tops
based on a recipe by Ethan Stowell in the July 2011 Food & Wine Magazine, page 180.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When water is boiling, add 1.5 lbs of organic potatoes cut roughly to .5" square pieces. Boil for about 15min, or JUST until you can pierce pieces with a fork. When pot...atoes reach this state, drain into a colander and run cool water over them to prevent further cooking.

In a large bowl measure .5 cup extra virgin olive oil and 2 tbsp. champagne vinegar (you can substitute a white wine vinegar here, but champagne vinegar IS pretty delicious). Whisk up and season with salt and pepper. Fold in potatoes (it's ok if they are still a little warm, they will smell great in the dressing!). At this time also add the roughly chopped tops and stalks of 1 fennel bulb. Allow this business to cool completely.  

When you are ready to serve the salad fold in 1 bunch of sliced radishes. Taste it, add more salt, more pepper & enjoy!

Apricot Glazed Napa Cabbage or Bok Choy with Fennel
based on a recipe from Terry Walter's "Clean Food" 

In a large skillet or dutch oven saute 2 tbsp grated ginger in 2tbsp olive oil for 1 minute. (Keep it moving, ginger gets sticky!). Add 2 sliced delicious little baby Five Acre Farm fennel bulbs, tops removed and saved for another dish.... Saute for about 5 minutes until fennel is soft. Stir in three tbsp good Apricot jam and 8 cups washed & chopped asian greens (bok choy or napa cabbage are both great here. Cut the ends off of either green and then just slice into strips across stem. Wash and rinse, you're good to go). Gently fold the picture together in your skillet, watching to make sure that nothing is sticking to horrifically to the bottom. Remove from heat when greens are wilted & stalky bits are soft - the bright green color is usually a good cue. Sprinkle liberally with sesame seeds and serve!

Thai Curry on a Weeknight

I have a cookbook called The Best International Recipe by Cooks Illustrated. In it are recipes for international recipes, all tried and tested to perfection in America's Test Kitchen. The recipes are made with ingredients that North American cooks can buy at the grocery store, but the lists are long. I've been swooning over a recipe for Thai green curry for months, but I haven't mustered up the courage to buy 18 different things and spend an hour and a half sweating over a simmering pot, no matter how delicious the results may be.

JB's brother Pierre is a chef, and a darn good chef at that. Sometime last month, he made a Thai curry at our house, proving that you can make an awesome curry with a little coconut milk, curry paste, and the protein of your choice. He also showed me a little trick: reduce the coconut milk until the oil separates out and starts to brown in the pan. The rest is easy.

I remembered exactly what Pierre had shown me and wanted to compare his method to others. I found another quick recipe for Thai curry in Matthew Amster-Burton's Hungry Monkey cookbook. What d'you know? Matthew also reduces his coconut milk and uses store-bought curry paste. (Matthew also has an excellent, simple recipe for Pad Thai, you can read about it here.)

Different brands of curry paste vary in quality and flavour. I've found, just as Matthew suggests, that Thai Kitchen pastes are less spicy and less flavourful that Mae Ploy pastes. Their flavour is also less complex. But if Thai Kitchen is all you can find just add a bit more or a little less! It's all to taste anyway.

Green Thai Curry
From Hungry Monkey by Matthew Amster-Burton

Serves 4 with rice

Make a big pot of your favourite rice (I've been really digging sushi rice) and follow the directions on the package.

1 14-ounce can coconut milk
2 TBS green curry paste
1 TBS sugar
1 TBS fish sauce
1 pound shrimp, fish, chicken, tofu, you choose.
1 TBS fresh lime juice

Chopped green onion and cilantro for garnish.

1. Heat a skillet on medium high.
2. Shake your can of coconut milk before opening it. Open the can and pour half the milk into the skillet.
3. Bring the milk to a boil. Reduce the milk until a thin shimmer of oil appears on the surface and little bubbles start to form (about 5 minutes). You'll need to stir! The milk will hiss when you drag a spoon through it. It will look like this:

4. You want to wait until it looks like this (keep stirring!):

5. Now add your curry paste. Stir!
6. Add the rest of your coconut milk, sugar, and fish sauce. Bring to a boil. Stir!
7. Add your protein of choice. (Shrimp take about 1.5 minutes. Chicken takes about 5 minutes. Tofu takes about 5 minutes as well, you want it nice and tender.)
8. Bring the sauce to a boil.
9. Off the heat, stir in lime juice and cover the whole dish in chopped cilantro (or mint or basil) and green onion.
10. Serve! (With rice, don't forget.)

- Murph