So long, and thanks for all the fishes

Hello, folks!  I’m sorry that I haven’t posted for a while.  Partly, I was just crazy busy and needed a break for a bit, but partly I was – drumroll please – working on a new blog that is now up and running!

As you all may know, Lettuce Never Squash Our Love started as a family-run blog when a few of us signed up for CSAs, to share details about the produce we were getting, recipes and really anything else we wanted.

I’m so grateful to Elyse for starting this blog, and my mom and Uncle Kim for encouraging me to start posting here. I have really, truly enjoyed contributing to this blog.

Eventually, I realized that I wanted a blog of my very own.  I still want to talk about food (I always want to talk about food), especially eating locally and ethically and how that fits into my everyday life, but I really wanted a blog where I could show more of my personality.

I hope that my family (that means you, mom, Uncle Kim and Aunt Care!) will keep this blog going, but I invite all of you to come visit me at my new online home – Step Into My Kitchen.

I hope to see you there!

Melissa

P.S. For anybody that gets the post title:  I love you.

Food Haikus

20130817_192407

Inspired by the Pizza Party Haiku at Shut Up Dad, I wanted to share some random food haikus that have been bouncing around my head.  Here goes!

Stuffed Peppers

Super hot peppers
Whew, that’s spicy! Yum, yum, yum
Thank goodness for cheese

Polenta

Just say “polenta”
Sounds sophisticated, warm
and yummy at once

This One’s for Mom

Barefoot Contessa
Bugs the crap out of me, yet
Her food looks awesome!

20130817_153624

I Carried a Watermelon

Love my CSA!
A yellow watermelon
Perfect for summer

Zucchini Parmigiana

20130802_205045 (2)

Let me tell you, it feels good to be sitting at a computer and NOT working!  That hasn’t happened much in the last month, as evidenced by my lack of blogging.  (And my lack of reading blogs – I have a lot of catching up to do!)

I have been cooking, I promise!  But nothing terribly exciting – lots of grilling, lots of stir-frying.

But I’m changing all that!  I want to make exciting food!  Food that is beautiful, comforting, delicious…food that feeds the body and the soul.  Okay, that was both cheesy and overdramatic, but I’m okay with it.

My Basket of Life Farm CSA has been absolutely amazing this year.  They’ve started an “add-on” program, where in addition to the standard CSA box, you can go online and purchase additional items each week.  So far, I’ve gotten some awesome cherry jam and yummy peaches.  I’m looking forward to the coffee, granola and other goodies!

I am still working through a large amount of zucchini, however.  And I’ve been craving comfort food lately – pasta, bread, soups…fall foods!  Even though it’s August, in Northeast Ohio it’s definitely been feeling like autumn.  So tonight I indulged in some comfort food – a cheesy, wonderful Zucchini Parmigiana.

I based it on Alex Guarnaschelli’s Eggplant Parmesan recipe, but used baked breaded zucchini instead of fried eggplant.  I love the tomato sauce in this recipe, and it has a ton of cheese.  Fantastic!

20130802_184115 (2)

For the tomato sauce, I took three candy onions (from my CSA) and thinly sliced them.  I minced 7-8 cloves of garlic and sautéed the garlic and onions together in some olive oil.  I added salt and crushed red pepper and cooked them over medium heat until the onions were soft and translucent.

20130802_184626 (2)

I added three 28 ounce cans of whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes and a little sugar and cooked the whole thing for about 20-25 minutes.  As it cooked, I smushed the tomatoes and just mixed it all together.  I turned off the sauce and let it cool down a bit while I made the breaded zucchini.

20130802_185434 (2)

I basically followed this recipe for the zucchini, except I used panko bread crumbs (it’s what I had on hand).  I used three medium zucchinis, but it would also be good with yellow or patty pan squash – or of course, eggplants!

I layered the sauce, zucchini, fresh basil, mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan cheeses until I ran out of zucchini and room in the casserole dish – ending, of course, with cheese!

20130802_203941 (2)

Now I only have one problem.  I ate a huge piece of it, and you can’t even tell!  I hope I can talk my sister into taking some leftovers, or I’ll be eating it for a week.  That’s not bad, don’t get me wrong!  But I still have zucchini, squash, tomatoes, apples, peppers and lettuce from my newest CSA box to use!

FYI - I got this bowl for $.50 at the flea market!

FYI – I got this bowl for $.50 at the flea market!

Now, off to catch up on my blog reading.  So happy it’s the weekend!

Thai Lettuce Wraps

2013062295192350 (2)

In the immortal words of Dr Sheldon Cooper, “Oh goody!  Dinner; some assembly required.”

The beginning of the CSA season seems to mean a lot of greens and lettuces.  A lot.  Seriously, I had no idea there were so many kinds of lettuce!  It’s crazy!  Anyway…In trying to find ways to use lettuce that aren’t a salad, I found lettuce wraps!

My first attempt at lettuce wraps for this year was an absolute success.  I was able to use the lettuce and one of the kohlrabi from the CSA box, which was nice.  Brian and I both LOVED this recipe (except that after one lettuce wrap, he grabbed some flour tortillas out of the fridge and made Thai Steak Burritos).  The sauce would be killer in a stir-fry, too.

2013062295192427_2 (2)

Grilled sliced flank steak is possibly my favorite food, and this marinade was awesome.

I found this recipe at Iowa Girl Eats, and I pretty much followed it.  I sliced a kohlrabi into matchsticks and added that to the quick pickled onions and cucumbers, and it’s possible that I may have used more garlic than the recipe calls for.  Probable, even.

Quick pickled onions, cucumbers and kohlrabi.  Yum!

Quick pickled onions, cucumbers and kohlrabi. Yum!

I also sliced some avocado to add to the lettuce wraps.  It was a nice blend of textures and temperatures – the hot steak, cold crisp pickles and cold creamy avocado…I wish there would have been leftovers!

Avocados are so pretty.

Avocados are so pretty.

Thai Lettuce Wraps (adapted slightly from Iowa Girl Eats)

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
  • 1 piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped (I used a piece about the size of my thumb)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tablespoons creamy almond butter
  • 1 flank steak
  • 2 avocados, sliced
  • Bibb lettuce cups

Quick-Pickled Veggies

  • 1 small cucumber, peeled and very thinly sliced
  • 1/2 medium white onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1 kohlrabi, sliced into matchsticks
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

For the Quick-Pickled Veggies: combine ingredients in a large bowl then stir to combine. I mixed everything in a large Tupperware container and let it sit in the fridge for about 6 hours before dinner.  Every now and then I shook the container to stir it all up.

Combine soy sauce, lime juice, olive oil, honey, sesame oil, red chili pepper flakes, ginger, and garlic in a blender or food processor then blend until smooth. Remove 1/4 cup of the liquid and pour into a large ziplock baggie with the flank steak to marinate.  Add almond butter to the rest of the liquid in the blender and blend again until smooth. Because I put this together in the morning, I poured the sauce into a bowl and covered it with plastic wrap.  I put the sauce in the fridge until dinnertime.

If you put the steak in the fridge to marinate, take it out and let it come to room temp before grilling.  Grill the steak to medium rare.  Let it rest for at least 10 minutes, then slice thinly.

Assemble lettuce cups – steak, pickled veggies, avocado and sauce.  (Or wrap it all in a tortilla.)  Eat and enjoy!

Chorizo and Sweet Potatoes

062513184125 (2)

I know that it’s summer, and typically roasted sweet potatoes are not a summer dish.  However, we had some pretty ferocious thunderstorms in Northeast Ohio this afternoon, and I wanted food that was warm and comforting – roasted veggies definitely fit the bill!

I knew I had some chorizo in the fridge, so on the way home from work I picked up some cipollini onions and sweet potatoes.  Plus, I wanted to try my sunny-side up egg technique again!

The avocado got thrown in because it needed to be used before it got overripe – I hate to waste them!  I sliced it, added some lime and a little salt, and it was actually a nice touch.

Now that I look at the picture, all of this stuff would probably be good as filling in a breakfast burrito!  Hmmmm….I do have leftovers, so maybe I’ll try it tomorrow.

062513185123 (2)

Only one problem:  Now that I’ve eaten, I think I need a nap!

Chorizo and Roasted Sweet Potatoes   (makes 2 large servings with some leftovers)

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1″ pieces
  • 1/2 lb cipollini onions, peeled
  • 5 – 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 lb chorizo
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 avocado, sliced (add some lime juice to keep it from browning)
  • olive oil, salt, pepper
  • butter

062513173405 (2)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Toss the sweet potatoes, onions and garlic with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Pour mixture into a casserole dish and bake for about 1 hour.

062513182811 (2)

When the veggies are almost done, remove the chorizo from it’s casing and brown in a large skillet over medium high heat.  When the chorizo is cooked through, remove the veggies from the oven and add to the skillet.  Toss the chorizo and veggies together to mix them and get everything coated in the oil from the chorizo.  Remove everything from the skillet.  (At this point, I served myself a hearty helping.)

(I used the same skillet to fry the eggs – it’s a cast iron skillet, so I just turned off the burner and wiped down the pan with a paper towel.)  Add a bit of butter to the skillet and turn the heat back on to medium high.  Add both eggs, salt and pepper.  Cook the eggs to the desired degree of doneness.  (I went for sunny-side up because I wanted to try and get a perfect runny yolk.)

062513184149 (2)

When the eggs are done, place an egg on top of the chorizo and sweet potato mixture.  Serve with half an avocado and dig in!

Brinner!

062113180927

Brinner!  Otherwise known as “breakfast for dinner” – perfect for a quick, tasty meal after work.  Now, I may have cheated just a bit (I prefer to call it “creative license”).  Yes, technically this is eggs and toast.  But the toast is made with garlic scape butter, seared on both sides in a cast iron skillet (yum!!) and the eggs are sitting on sautéed garlic scapes and Swiss chard.

I think it’s time for me to admit something:

Until this year, I had never fried an egg.  Please don’t judge me!  I truly had no idea what I was missing.  I was convinced that I hated the squishy egg yolk and only liked eggs scrambled, so that’s all I ever made.  I wasted years of glorious yolk-dipping!  Years, people!  (The garlic scape toast was fantastic dipped in the egg yolks, by the way.)  The yolks on these got a little overcooked, but I’m getting better.  Part of my egg yolk conversion may be that I’m getting fresh eggs now, and the difference in taste is unbelievable.

Whatever the reason, I am now a sunny-side up fan!  That’s right, Mom.

The Swiss chard and garlic scapes are from my first CSA box from Basket of Life, picked up just hours ago.  Because I have no patience, I brought it home and immediately started cooking.  In my defense, I was hungry and the chard looked really good!

Swiss chard, Bibb Lettuce, kohlrabi, spring onions and garlic scapes.

Swiss chard, Bib Lettuce, kohlrabi, spring onions and garlic scapes.

Box #1 for 2013:  A great start to the CSA season.  I already can’t wait for next week!

Are you a fan of brinner?  What’s your favorite way to cook an egg?  And how do I know when a fried egg is done?  Help! 

Apple Cider Teriyaki Salmon

061413180059 (2)

I love salmon.  And I love the fact that Krieger’s Market is all of three blocks from my house.  It’s so easy to stop and pick up some organic salmon on the way home from work!  I also love Krieger’s because of things like this:

This has been taped to the meat/deli counter for as long as I can remember.

The Canadian cooking rule! This has been taped to the Krieger’s meat/deli counter for as long as I can remember.

Typed instructions for cooking fish, cut from a larger piece of paper and taped to the edge of the meat/deli counter.  And the instructions really work!  (Sorry, the picture is a little fuzzy – I snapped it with my cell phone while I was getting the fish.)

I always follow these instructions for salmon, and it always comes out perfectly done.  But to shake things up a bit, this time I wanted to make some kind of sauce.  I came up with a version of teriyaki sauce made with soy sauce, apple cider and buckwheat honey.  Sounds crazy, right?  Maybe.  But it was yummy!

Apple Cider Teriyaki Sauce (this made enough sauce for two 8 oz pieces of salmon)

  • 1/2 shallot, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce (I used low sodium)
  • 1/3 cup apple cider
  • 1/4 cup buckwheat honey (more about buckwheat honey here)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 scallion, chopped (to garnish)

In a small saucepan, sauté the shallots in olive oil over medium low heat until soft.  Add the soy sauce, apple cider, honey, garlic powder, salt and pepper and whisk together.  Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium/medium high and let the liquid reduce until it resembles a thin glaze.  Taste it – add a pinch more salt if needed.  Stir in the sesame seeds and pour over salmon (or chicken, I suppose).  Garnish with chopped scallions and enjoy!

061413175939 (2)

Easy, right?  And since I already had the apple cider opened, I had a glass of cider with dinner.

Anyone up for a battle of wits?  (You can watch the scene from the movie here,)

030313121247 (2)030313121237 (2)