Roasted Garlic Scapes and Red Curry Bison

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One more week, folks!  Next Friday my weekly CSA boxes from Basket of Life Farm start again.  And with that, I’m going to do my best to resume regular blog posts.  I’m thinking that I’ll shoot for Tuesdays and Fridays, so be on the lookout!

While I’m waiting for my CSA boxes, I’ve been frequenting the Countryside Farmers’ Market, and this week was a jackpot!  Garlic scapes as far as the eye could see!  (Okay, maybe not that many, but a lot for sure.)  I ended up buying two large bags – probably 1 1/2 to 2 pounds altogether.  After I made several batches of pesto and garlic scape butter with the larger, longer scapes, I still had a bag of smaller, thinner, more delicate garlic scapes.

I had never tried roasting the scapes before, but it was fantastic!  I just tossed them with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted them in the oven for about 5 minutes at 375 degrees.  It mellowed some of the garlic flavor, and they were tender and beautiful and delicious!

The roasted scapes paired perfectly with a grilled bison ribeye marinated in a mix of Thai red curry paste, olive oil, honey and lime.  The bison steak was also a farmers’ market purchase – from Red Run Farm in Marshallville, OH.  I have had bison burgers before, but never a full on steak.  It was awesome – lean and flavorful, and it went wonderfully with the red curry marinade.  I’ll definitely be buying bison again!

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Plus, it gave me a chance to use another purchase from earlier in the season.  In the beginning of May, I bought an assortment of honey from Kline’s Honey Bee Farm.  You can see that they’re labeled Summer, Fall and Buck Wheat.

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Each honey has a really distinct, lovely taste.  The Summer honey is light and sweet, the Fall honey is warmer – more like a clover honey, and the Buck Wheat is a dark, almost astringent taste that reminds me of a little of a dark molasses.  Yum!!  I used the Fall honey in the marinade.

Even better – after days of gray skies and rain, the evening was sunny and beautiful!  That means outside pictures and dinner on the back patio.

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Thai Red Curry Marinade

  • 1/4 cup Thai red curry paste
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • juice of 1 large or 2 small limes
  • salt and pepper

Combine all ingredient and mix well.  Pour over steaks (beef or bison, your choice) and marinade at least 1 hour up to overnight.

Grill steaks and enjoy!

This post is linked to What’s in the Box? at InHerChucks.

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Brian’s Avocado Toast

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It’s going to sound silly, but avocado toast is a completely new concept to me.  I’ve put avocado on sandwiches, on pizzas, on tacos, but never just on a toasted piece of bread.  It’s my new favorite snack/lunch/side dish!

The original recipe that inspired this version of avocado toast was from my Smitten Kitchen cookbook – it was called an Avocado Tartine with Cucumbers and Sesame seeds.  The cucumbers were tossed in rice vinegar and sesame seed oil, and sesame seeds were sprinkled on top.  I made it yesterday afternoon for a snack, and Brian suggested adding some balsamic glaze.  The addition of the balsamic was perfect!

On a side note, Brian is the tester for the first versions of a lot of my recipes.  He’ll eat just about anything (except mushrooms), and he usually has great suggestions for changes or additions – just like this one!

So I adjusted the ingredients a bit and added the balsamic glaze to create Brian’s version.  I almost want to call it an avocado bruschetta, and you could definitely add some chopped tomatoes to the topping if you wanted.  It was light and summery, and went perfectly with the beautiful weather today!

Brian’s Avocado Toast (serves 2 for a snack, for a lunch it might be a single serving)

  • a 6 inch section of baguette, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1/2 cup English cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • balsamic glaze (I recommend Gia Russa)

Toast the baguette pieces.

Mix the cucumber, vinegar and olive oil in a bowl.  Add a generous pinch of salt and some freshly ground pepper.

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Top the baguette pieces with the sliced avocado.  You could lay out the avocado slices all pretty on top, but I took a fork and lightly smushed them into the toasted baguette.  (It makes the avocado less likely to take a tumble off the bread while you’re eating.)  Top each piece with the cucumber mixture and finally, drizzle with balsamic glaze.

Eat and enjoy!

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This post is linked to What’s in the Box?  at In Her Chucks.

Chicken Stir-Fry with Ramps and Asparagus

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Hi, all!  I know, I haven’t been around for a little while.  I’m sorry!  No excuses, I think I was just being a bit lazy.   I have been cooking, I promise!  I just haven’t been so great about taking pictures and actually writing down what I’m doing when I cook.

Truthfully, sometimes it’s a struggle for me to write a “recipe” for what I cook.  If I’m not baking, I typically don’t use measuring spoons or measuring cups. so I’m not always sure how much of something I’ve added.  Heck, sometimes I can’t remember what ingredients I added!

The bonus to having to pay attention to ingredients and amounts is that I can recreate those recipes that worked really well.  Before I started blogging, there were times when I would create a dish, or I would make a change to an existing recipe that was fantastic! But when I tried to make it again, I could not remember what I did.  Anybody else have this problem?

For dinner tonight, I looked at maybe a dozen recipes for stir-fry sauces – and used none of them.  I wanted to use the chicken and veggies from Saturday’s farmer’s market, and I really didn’t want to make a grocery store stop.  I was sure that I had enough options at home to throw something together.

When I tasted the finished dish, I was really glad that I took the time to write everything down!  I’ll definitely be making this again.  It was filling but not heavy, and it had a good amount of heat, which I enjoy.  Plus, a stir-fry works with almost any veggies, which will definitely come in handy when my CSA starts back up!

I used a lot of the same spices that I first tried in my Hangover Soup, but the rice vinegar and the red pepper flakes gave it a nice bright finish and some extra spice.  The buckwheat honey that I used in the marinade is one of my new favorites – it’s like a deep, dark cross between honey and molasses, with a slight grassy undertone.  Sounds weird, but it’s so good!  I’m trying to figure out how to use it in everything.  (I’m not kidding.)

Buckwheat honey is awesome.  This is from Kline Honey Bee Farm in Edinburg.

Buckwheat honey is awesome. This is from Kline Honey Bee Farm in Edinburg. Oh yeah, there’s fish sauce, red pepper and vinegar as well.

Chicken Stir-Fry with Ramps and Asparagus (serves 2)

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced
  • about 12 stalks of asparagus, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
  • 5-6 ramps, bottoms trimmed, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Buckwheat Honey (you could sub regular honey or molasses)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon Red Curry Paste
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • Rice noodles (or leftover rice)
  • Vegetable or canola oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Pepper the chicken.  (I didn’t salt it because fish sauce is usually salty enough.)  Marinate the sliced chicken in the vinegar, fish sauce, honey and red pepper flakes.  I threw the marinade together as soon as I got home from work, so by the time I was ready to cook dinner, the chicken had been in the marinade for about an hour.

Marinade!

Marinade!

Before you start cooking the chicken, soak the rice noodles in a bowl of hot water.  They need to soak for about 8-10 minutes, so by the time the stir-fry is done, they’ll be ready.  If you’re using leftover rice, don’t soak it in water.  Nobody wants soggy rice in their stir-fry.

Rice noodles are awesome.  There's no need to boil a huge pot of water...and they're tasty!

Rice noodles are awesome. There’s no need to boil a huge pot of water…and they’re tasty!

Heat a small amount of oil in a wok (or large skillet – I don’t use my wok very often, so I enjoyed busting it out).  When the oil is hot, add the chicken in a single layer.  Let the pieces brown on one side, then toss in the garlic, asparagus and the bottom, onion-like part of the ramps and stir.  (I added the ramp leaves at the end.)  Keep the chicken and veggies moving around the wok – you don’t want them to burn.

You can see the flame under the wok.  Good stuff.

You can see the flame under the wok. Good stuff.

After the chicken and veggies have cooked for a couple of minutes, add the red curry paste and chicken broth.  Stir everything around to make sure the curry paste is dissolved into the chicken broth and continue to cook for a minute or two.  I added a pinch of salt and some additional red pepper flakes here (because I like it hot!), but taste a piece of chicken or asparagus and do what you need to do.

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When the chicken is done and the veggies are cooked but still crisp, add the ramp leaves and rice noodles (or rice).  Stir everything together, turn off the heat to the work and serve!

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My big orange cat was unimpressed by the stir-fry, but I enjoyed it!

Jake was hanging out on the cat tree next to my desk while I typed this.  I'm sure he's wondering why his dinner isn't on the blog.  Fancy Feast, anyone?

Jake was hanging out on the cat tree next to my desk while I typed this. I’m sure he’s wondering why his dinner isn’t on the blog. Fancy Feast, anyone?

This post is linked to What’s in the Box?  at In Her Chucks.

Farmer’s Market Meals

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Saturday was the last indoor Farmer’s Market at Old Trail School.  While I’m happy that the Farmer’s Market continues outdoors at the Howe Meadow in May, I will miss the challenge of the winter farmer’s market.

What challenge, you ask?  Well, the winter farmer’s market is smaller, which means less vendors, and of course, in the winter in Ohio, there is less produce to be sold.  I’ve learned that to get the best haul, it is necessary to get there early and wait for the market to open.  Here’s my favorite part – they open the market by ringing a cowbell!  As soon as the cowbell rings, all the people eagerly lined up at the door surge forward with one goal – get the carrots!  Or greens.  Or radishes.  Or whatever it is that looks the freshest, the most crispy – and get it before it’s sold out!

I’ve got this down now – as soon as the bell rings, you bypass the vendors on the first floor (coffee, tea, prepared foods), go past whichever musician is providing music this week, and head immediately down to the gymnasium of the school.  This is where the good stuff is!  Ignore the cheese, the bread, the pasta – it’s not going anywhere.  Instead, push (politely) through the crowd to the back of the gym and the produce vendors.

This week, I grabbed Siberian Kale, mixed salad greens, two bundles of tiny beautiful carrots, and a bunch of ramps from one vendor, plump red radishes from another, and lovely bok choy from a third.  Veggies done!

Isn't the bok choy lovely?

Isn’t the bok choy lovely?

Ramps!  I've never cooked with these before, so it should be an adventure!

Ramps! I’ve never cooked with these before, so it should be an adventure!

Next – eggs.  There is no comparing a supermarket egg to a fresh, local egg.  It’s just no contest!  Fresh and local wins hands down every time.  The eggs have better color and unbelievable flavor.

Nothin' beats a farm fresh egg.

Nothin’ beats a farm fresh egg.

This time, I also picked up some brats from Brunty Farms.  They had both beer brats and apple brats, so of course I wanted to try both!  (They were awesome, by the way.)

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I eat and why.  If I look honestly at what I’m eating now compared to what I ate a year ago, I can say that I eat more vegetables and much less processed food.  Whenever possible, I am buying and eating locally grown produce, and spending very little time and money at the conventional grocery store.  Can I get better?  Of course – and I’m continuing to work at it.

One reason that I love the Farmer’s Market and my CSA is that I like to know where my food come from.  I get to meet the people that grow what I’m eating, and what’s cooler than that?

However, I’ve realized that I haven’t applied that same philosophy to the meat that I eat.  I’m not going to lie – I like meat.  But when I buy a steak or a pack of chicken from the grocery store, what do I really know about what I’m putting in my body?  Not much, that’s for sure.  I’m lucky to have places like Brunty Farms to get locally raised chicken, pork and turkey, and like Dumas Meats, where they raise the majority of the beef that they sell.  I need to take advantage of that.

Whoops – made a bit of a speech there, didn’t I?  Let’s get back to what I cooked – and ate – this weekend.  Saturday, we grilled the brats from Brunty Farms.  The apple brats were a little softer, with a slightly sweet taste from the apple that went well with the spicy mustard and hot peppers (the only way to dress a brat!).  The beer brats had that awesome snap! when you bit into it, and the flavor was amazing.  I’ll definitely be buying those again!

The radishes also bit the dust on Saturday – Brian demolished both bunches in one sitting as an afternoon snack.

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Spicy mustard from the Schmit House in Columbus, Ohio.  You have to put German mustard on a brat!

Spicy mustard from the Schmidt House in Columbus, Ohio. You have to put German mustard on a brat!

Sunday, I made Tuscan Glazed Chicken and roasted potatoes, but the star of the show was the roasted carrots.  I trimmed the tops of the tiny carrots and scrubbed them with a vegetable brush, but didn’t peel them.  (I did trim the bottoms,)

I wish I could say this was locally raised chicken, but alas, this was from the grocery store.  Next time I'll be better...

I wish I could say this was locally raised chicken, but alas, this was from the grocery store. Next time I’ll be better…

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Then, I tossed the carrots in olive oil, salt, pepper and some Penzey’s Bonnes Herbes mixture. I roasted them in a 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes – just until they were tender.  Conveniently, the potatoes took almost the same amount of time to cook.

The roasted carrots were delicious!

The roasted carrots were delicious!

The tiny potatoes were so cute!

The tiny potatoes were so cute!

It was a good weekend for food.

Hangover Soup

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I’d like to start by saying that I did NOT make this soup because I had a hangover.  (However, I did have a lingering headache all day that went away after I ate this…hmmmm…)

This is another recipe inspired by Smart Chefs Stay Slim, although I adjusted some proportions and used some random veggies I had hanging out in the fridge.  It’s basically a spicy broth with shrimp and greens – I can definitely understand why it would be good hangover food!

I’m going to write out the recipe as I made it, but you could easily substitute whatever greens/veggies you have on hand. It’s a great recipe for a fridge cleanout day!

Hangover Soup (makes two generous servings)

  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 heaping teaspoon Red Curry Paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1/2 cup leftover chicken, diced
  • 10-12 shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 medium carrot, sliced in thin rounds
  • 1 1/2 cups Swiss chard, chopped
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • chopped cilantro (for garnish)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup rice noodles (soaked in warm water for 8-10 minutes) or cooked rice (if you have some handy)

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Bring chicken broth and water to a boil.  Add red curry paste, fish sauce, sugar and lime juice.  Stir.  Add chicken, garlic and carrots.  Cook for about 2 minutes – just until the carrots start to soften.

Add rice noodles, shrimp, Swiss chard, scallions, salt and pepper and cook over medium high heat until the shrimp are cooked through.  Pour the noodle soup into two large bowls, top with cilantro (if you want) and an additional squeeze of fresh lime (or a wedge of lime for garnish).  Eat and enjoy!

That’s it.  It’s that easy.

Now, I did have to go buy curry paste and fish sauce, because I don’t usually cook with those ingredients, but I am so glad that I did!  I can easily see this soup becoming a go-to after work meal.  It was spicy but light, and I felt fantastic after I ate it.  What more can you ask for?

Fried Cabbage Hot Dogs

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I’d like to start by pointing out that I used both leftovers and frozen veggies from last season’s CSA in this somewhat unconventional hot dog.  Yippee!

Many times when I’m putting a dish together in my head, I find that I’m one or two ingredients shy of what I really want.  Today, when I was thinking of ways to use my weekend leftovers, I was determined to only use the food that I had in the house.  And I did!

We had some lovely weather in Northeast Ohio this weekend, so on Saturday, Brian grilled hamburgers and brats (spicy Andouille brats!  Yum!).  I sometimes feel that Brian loves condiments more than the actual base of the meal, so burgers and dogs are always accompanied by many, many toppings.  (To give you an idea, we had lettuce, broccoli sprouts, chopped onion, Hungarian hot peppers, cheese, and of course, ketchup, and several kinds of mustard.  I might be missing some, but that’s close.)

Brian's hamburger.  Yep, that's broccoli sprouts on the bottom bun.  They're good on hot dogs, too!

Brian’s hamburger. Yep, that’s broccoli sprouts on the bottom bun. They’re good on hot dogs, too!

As per usual on hamburger and hot dog days, we had an odd conglomeration of leftovers – quite a bit of chopped onion, one and a half hot peppers, a couple of brats that got grilled but not eaten, etc.

I knew that I wanted to use the leftover brats and hot dog buns, but I couldn’t decide what to top them with (sadly, we ate all the broccoli sprouts).  So, I started making mental inventory of my fridge and my new, big shiny freezer.  Ah ha!  I have frozen cabbage from my CSA!  And apples from my last farmer’s market trip!  And leftover onions and hot peppers!  Perfect.

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The flavors reminded me of this Fried Cabbage dish, but the addition of the apples added some needed sweetness.  I made extra because my plan is to have leftovers of this dish tomorrow with grilled pork chops.  (Leftovers of leftovers!  I’m about to blow my own mind!)

This made enough to easily top six good size hot dogs/brats.  I’m thinking it will reheat well, but I’ll find out tomorrow!

Fried Cabbage Hot Dog Topping

  • 1 cup white onion, diced
  • 1 apple, diced (I used an Ida Red – a little bit sweet, but holds up well to cooking)
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 cups chopped cabbage (I used cabbage from my CSA that I had shredded, blanched and frozen)
  • Olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Caraway Seed
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Sauté the onion and garlic with a bit of olive oil over medium heat.  When the onions are translucent, add the apples, Caraway seed, salt and pepper.  Continue cooking until the apples are soft.

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Remove the apple and onion mixture from the skillet and put off to the side.

In the same skillet, add the cabbage.  Now, because I did not plan ahead, I did not thaw the cabbage first.  I just tossed the frozen hunk of cabbage right into the hot skillet and it worked just fine.  Once it had thawed, I drained the excess water and turned the heat up to high.  Stir the cabbage often so it doesn’t brown.

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When the excess water is cooked off and the cabbage is heated through, add the apple and onion mixture back into the skillet.  Turn the heat down.  Add the apple cider vinegar, stir and taste it – if you need to, add more salt and pepper.  Continue cooking over medium/low heat for a few minutes to let the flavors meld.

That’s it for the fried cabbage topping!  I then started assembling my hot dog.  Lightly toasted hot dog bun, whole grain mustard, spicy brat.  Top the hot dog/brat with the fried cabbage topping and rings of Hungarian hot peppers. Eat and enjoy!!

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Warning:  These peppers range from mild to HOT!! and there’s no way to tell until you take a bite.  If you’re not a fan of heat, you may want to skip these.  In case you’re wondering, this particular pepper was hot enough that my lips were tingling after I ate it!  Just the way I like it.

This post is linked to What’s In the Box?  at In Her Chucks.

Grilled Sirloin with Horseradish Vinaigrette

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My ongoing obsession with sauces continues…

It’s actually starting to feel like Spring in Northeast Ohio, so this sauce is a fresh, bright horseradish vinaigrette.  It’s funny – the more recipes I post, the more I’ve been thinking about why I cook certain things.  I know that my cooking has been influenced by my CSA and trying to use in season veggies whenever possible, but I’ve noticed recently that the weather also has a major effect on what I cook.  Now that it’s a little warmer and the sun is making a rare appearance, I find myself wanting food that’s lighter, with lots of citrus and fresh herbs.  Plus, it’s much more pleasant to grill when you aren’t wading through snow! 

This is another recipe inspired by the book Smart Chefs Stay Slim.  I typically only think of vinaigrettes as salad dressing, so I was quite intrigued by the idea of serving it over a steak. 

I first tried the recipe as presented in the book, but although the flavors were great, it seemed a bit oily.  I adjusted the amounts, added a splash of lemon and tried using the food processor instead of blending it by hand. Perfect!

The bright green color from the parsley and thyme were so pretty.  I made this version with a top sirloin (grassfed) grilled simply with olive oil, salt and pepper, and some roasted asparagus.  The little bite from the horseradish and the vinegar, and the freshness of the herbs were such a good combination!

Horseradish Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 3 Tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
  • a handful of fresh, flat leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

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This vinaigrette is so easy!  Add all the ingredients except the olive oil to a food processor.  Blend for a few seconds until all the ingredients are combined.

As the food processor is on, add the olive oil in a thin stream through the hole in the lid.  Blend until smooth.  Taste – add salt and/or pepper as needed.  That’s it!

Use to top steak, fish, veggies – just about anything!  It might even be good as a dressing on a sub sandwich – Yum! 

Does your cooking style change with the seasons?  What are your favorite spring/summer dishes?