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Archive for May, 2010

Google Arugula (Say that three times really fast)

May 24, 2010 2 comments

It’s  been a typical Chicago season change this week. We went from winter, caught a glimpse of spring and shot straight to summer.  I was going to blog about a great asparagus soup I made before it got hot and humid, but that may have to wait until next week, when I am sure the weather will be like 50 degrees, cloudy and rainy.

This was my first year growing arugula in my garden and it’s done a fabby job of getting bigger each day.  Then I realized, “What am I going to do with all of this?  I don’t have any arugula recipes”.  Frantically, like any person who has internet access and free time,  I sent the query to my Facebook and Twitter pals.  Turns out, not many people know what to do with it besides make a salad.  Second stop, my cookbook/magazine collection.  Even though I like trolling the internet for recipes, I enjoy sitting down and searching through my cookbooks that I trust and finding a hidden gem.  I found some good candidates, but nothing I was happy with.  So, I went back online to Epicurious my standard recipe finder site.  I really like it because it has reviews so you can see all the ins and outs before attempting a new culinary adventure.  I was glad to come across a recipe right away, so I would  not have to resort to my last ditch effort..Google arugula.

I came across a recipe for Arugula and Fava Bean Crostini.  It was the perfect springtime use for my new garden friend.  I did substitute edamame for the fava beans and did not use the mint; it was a great addition to our first outdoor meal of the season.  This would make a terrific appetizer as it is it light and was bursting with fresh flavors.  I think after I ate about five slices,  I was almost bursting as well.

Do you have a favorite use for arugula? Please share yours,  as I have a lot left in my garden and so others can get ideas for this  peppery plant.

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Not Your Pizza in 30 Minutes, More Like 3 Years…Asparagus & Goat Cheese Pizza

It’s been three long years of waiting, hoping and dreaming.  Now I know you are wondering…”What in the culinary world is Karen waiting for?”  It is located in my backyard, a cyclone fenced corner of edible promise.  It’s spring and yes, this year I have asparagus growing.  Now for those of you who don’t garden,  (First of all, why aren’t you gardening?  It’s an awesome stress reliever and it’s a super way to eat mighty tasty local food.) you might be wondering why three years is necessary.  Let me tell you.  Apparently asparagus does its best and tastes delicious when you harvest it in year three.  So this is how it went down.

Year One (Spring 2008) –   Planted asparagus crowns.  Okay, now I just sit and wait for a few years?   Hmm.  Was slightly bitter that I was planting something I couldn’t eat in the same season, as I am a person that needs that immediate return.

Year Two (2009) – Getting very antsy, just want to eat the buggers, but can’t.  Sigh.  Watched them grow tall and be very fern-like.  Next year, Karen.  Next year it will be worth it.

Year Three (2010) – In March I swear anytime I was outside I walked down to the corner of my yard to check on the progress.  In April they started poking their little phallic-like heads out of the ground…I got giddy.  And now in May, we are finally enjoying them, and boy are they sensational!

So with my new bounty I found a yummy new way to try these green gems…Asparagus, Fingerling Potato, and Goat Cheese Pizza.

I made this for my daughter’s family birthday party and went over pretty well.  Even my mom, who thinks the idea of a non-traditional pizza is a BBQ chicken pizza, gave it two thumbs up.   You could eat it as a meal, or it can also make a delish appetizer.   I made it per the recipe, but I used my standard pizza dough recipe instead.

So when you go to the farmers’ market and you see asparagus on the table and the higher price tag…remember it takes time to grow these beauties.  Try growing your own!  I now feel smug in knowing that every year for like the next 10-15 years I can count on harvesting these tender treats every spring.

Spinach Salad and Ribs – A Meal Through Photos

When making dinner the other night I found myself taking a ton of pictures.  This is a nice meal that’s great for company because the ribs braise in the oven for a few hours.  I call them Super Easy Ribs and my own recipe for Spinach Salad (salad recipe is at the end of the post).  I could eat this salad at least once a week… easy, healthy and yummy!

Oven roasted ribs, spinach salad and the appropriate beverage

Making the ribs…

After braising in tin foil for 2 1/2 hours they go on the cookie sheet.

Braising liquid gets dumped into a saucepan and gets reduced to make a glaze.

And after a hot date with the broiler...they are done!

Spinach Salad Recipe
Serves 6

Ingredients:
Roughly 3/4 lb baby spinach (or about 2/3 of one of those big tubs)
6 strawberries, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
4 Tbs red wine vinegar
A little less than 1/2 cup canola oil
Several dashes of tabasco
Several dashes of black pepper
4 Tbs sugar
1 tsp salt

**For extra something, you can add crumbled bacon, although I don’t think it needs it.

Mix all ingredients (except strawberries and onion) very well and pour over spinach and toss well.  Add berries and onion and toss well again.  Let sit for around 10 minutes or so for the spinach to wilt.