What I Made: Pepper Steak

You know when you’re trying to eat healthy, but you live only a 15 minute walk from Chinatown and/or have multiple food delivery apps on your phone that can get food to your face in no time flat?  I face this problem more than I like to admit, so it’s nice to have a few go-to recipes to crush that craving for greasy Chinese food.  I’ll definitely add this pepper steak recipe to the arsenal: it’s only a few ingredients, but packs lots of flavor.

You brown the steak, then cook the onions, peppers, and pour on a simple sauce of soy sauce, corn starch and sugar!  I served mine over vermicelli noodles, but rice would be delicious also.

PepperSteak

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What I Made: Orecchiette with Radicchio

Fresh handmade pasta is something special.  Sure, it leaves my kitchen covered in a thick coating of flour because I am the world’s messiest cook, but it also takes a regular pasta dish and turns up the YUM factor.  Making pasta is my newest interest, and it’s definitely something that is going to require quite a bit of practice. And time. And patience.

This recipe is my second go-round making orecchiette, and I’m steadily improving. At least, my pastas looked a lot more ear-shaped this time, and since that’s how orecchiette gets its name, I’m taking that as a good sign…

To make the orecchiette, roll a portion of the dough into a long log about a half inch thick, keeping the other dough wrapped tightly in plastic wrap while not in use.  Cut into 1/2 inch pieces and roll into a ball.  Flatten the ball with your thumb, then, still pressing, pull slightly to one side to create a dimple.  Then, take the pasta and flip inside out, placing on a floured baking sheet until it’s ready to cook. It will cook to al dente in 8 minutes. Then, the shallots are cooked until softened and wine is added and then reduced.  The herbs, pasta, radicchio, and cheese get a quick toss and the whole dish is served at room temperature.

OrecchietteRad

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What I Made: Zucchini Fritters with Chipotle Lime Mayo Sauce

This was another great recipe suggestion from my cousin Anna. Thank you, Anna! She suggests it as an appetizer, but if you lack impulse control like I do, it could be a whole meal.

The zucchini is shredded, then combined with diced onion, flour, and an egg to make a loose batter that reminded me of the texture and consistency of a fish cakes, for example.  The mixture does hold together, but is still somewhat liquid. The dipping sauce is an easy combination of your favorite store-bought mayonnaise, chipotle powder, chili powder and lime juice.  I went heavier on it than I probably should have when I was serving myself, but the spicy, creamy texture is so yummy with the crispy crunch of the fritter.

ZuccFritters

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What I Made: Gazpacho

In the winter, there is nothing I love more than a pot of homemade chicken stock simmering away on the stove.  After it’s done some might turn into chicken noodle soup, but the rest gets frozen because in the heat of summer you’d have to beg me to turn on the oven to make soup.  That’s why gazpacho is a summer staple: cool, fresh, and the prep work is all chopping and no cooking.

The benefit of all the hard work in the winter is having homemade stock to use as the base for this recipe.  To that, you add diced tomatoes, onion, peppers, cucumbers, celery, and a little sugar and lemon juice.  For an extra kick, add a dash of  Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces.

I left mine chunky, but you could run it through a blender for a smoother consistency.

Gazpacho

I just added the stock frozen, and let it thaw while all the flavors combined.

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What I Made: Green Beans with Shallots

I apologize to all 7 of my faithful blog readers (you know who you are!).  I have neglected the blog over the past several weeks, but I haven’t neglected making lots of delicious food!  This post is only the first of many as I try to clear this backlog of recipes I’ve made.  That means you’ll see a new post almost every day!

 

This is a perfect dish to break back into the blog – when I think of simple side dishes, this is my go to – green beans that still have a springy crunch, tossed with sweet shallots, olive oil and butter. The recipe comes together quickly: blanch the beans for a minute and a half, shocking immediately after in ice water. Caramelize the shallots in butter and olive oil, then toss the beans to reheat.

GreenBeanShallot

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What I Made: Focaccia with Cherry Tomatoes, Feta, and Garlic

I’m not very skilled at bread baking.  While I’ve got no problems with cake-like breads, like banana or zucchini breads, I sometimes struggle with making yeast breads. I’ve had more than a few sets or rolls turn out tough. This week’s focaccia recipe may be the first step towards conquering my fears.

The first step of course, is combining the warm water and the yeast.  After the yeast has dissolved, whole wheat flour, olive oil, sugar and salt are added.  Then, flour is added until the dough reaches a stiff consistency. I should note: the original recipe suggests using bread flour, but I was waaaaay too cheap to buy flour I wasn’t going to use that often.  Instead, I used regular whole wheat flour in place of whole wheat bread flour and all purpose flour instead of bread flour. The dough is then kneaded and left to rise until is doubles in size, about 45 minutes.

Waiting is always the hardest part.

After the dough has risen, thin basil slices are incorporated.  The dough rests for 10 minutes, then gets rolled out into a pan and rests 10 more minutes.  Finally, the tomatoes, garlic, and cheese are pressed into the top of the loaf.  The tomatoes should be cut side up so they cook down nicely under the heat of the broiler. 15-ish minutes at 450 (plus additional cheese melty/tomato toasty time under the broiler) is all it takes to turn out a great-tasting and impressive looking loaf of focaccia!

Focaccia

Sorry the photo is a bit blurry, but it was hard to see through all the smoke.

The original recipe suggests using a 10″ x 15″ jelly roll pan to bake the bread, but more important than the dimensions is that the pan have a bit of a lip so the olive oil doesn’t run off and burn in the bottom of your oven.  Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything, but let’s just say my neighbors probably didn’t appreciate hearing my smoke alarm as frequently as they did while I was baking this.

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What I Made: Corn and Red Pepper Salsa

Along with the fajitas, I decided to make a homemade salsa.  I have made a homemade pico de gallo before, which I find fresher and tastier than any canned salsa, but with the abundance of corn in my baskets these past few weeks, I thought I’d try a corn salsa. There is lots of corn at local farmers’ markets right now, or you could always use canned for a taste of summer all year long!

 

The corn silks are removed, then the husks and folded back around the ears. The re-wrapped corn goes into the oven for 30 minutes at 350 to roast. After the kernels are sliced off, they’re combined with diced red pepper, diced onion, some diced Hungarian hot wax pepper, cilantro and cumin. To add a little protein, I also added black beans, but you could leave them out or substitute your preferred bean.

CornSalsa
This recipe would also make a great dipping salsa on it’s own. Just get thick chips to stand up to the substantial ingredients.

 

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What I Made: Shrimp Fajitas (Sorry Grandma)

My Grandma is a faithful reader of CSA in the City, and each week when I talk to her, she lets me know which recipes looked good, and which did not. You see, Grandma is not a shrimp fan (she’s allergic, so you can’t blame her). The last few times I made a recipe with shrimp, Grandma made sure to tell me everything I posted that week looked good, except the shrimp. So with apologies to Grandma, here’s another shrimp recipe, this time with a Southwestern flair.

The shrimp marinate for a while in a mixture of lime juice, chipotle peppers and adobo sauce (buy one of the small cans at the store) and some garlic and cumin. I don’t have a grill, so I cooked them in a skillet on the stove. Then, I sliced this week’s red onion with some of last week’s green bell peppers.  They got a quick toss in the leftover shrimp marinade and were sautéed until done.

ShrimpFajitas

 

Wrap them in a tortilla and eat them just like this, or top your fajitas with whatever you’d like: cheese, lettuce, salsa, etc.  Continue reading

What I Made: Blueberry Buckle

My recipes seem to come with lots of lessons learned recently (see Zucchini Cake for harsh example). This week’s lesson is: don’t start a recipe before you’ve had your coffee.  Your insufficiently-caffienated self might read “sugar” as “butter” and wonder why creaming shortening and butter doesn’t really work.  This was made more dramatic by having already added the last egg in the house, so it was either make another run to the corner store or scoop out what appeared to be the excess and hope for the best. After clearing my head with that much needed cup of joe, I opted for the latter, removing what I hoped was around 3/4 cup of butter and replacing it with the appropriate 3/4 cup of sugar.

Mix together the wet ingredients (PLUS SUGAR), add the dry ingredients, and fold in blueberries.  Then mix together the crumb topping until it is combined into a fine crumb, and spread it over the cake.  It bakes up in about 45 minutes.  I found it hard to test doneness with a toothpick, because I always hit a blueberry.  So much for the toothpick “coming out clean”; it always came out purple! After a few tries, you may have to trust your baking instincts.

The buckle turned out fine, even if it didn’t buckle, and made a nice breakfast treat with last week’s blueberries.

BlueBuckle

 

In addition to items that can stand on their own as snacks or simple sides, these mid-summer items also store better for longer periods.  You’ll notice in the next few weeks that I’m still using ingredients from previous week’s baskets.  It’s also because I can’t eat it all fast enough to keep up!

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What I Made: Corn and Poblano Lasagna

My awesome cousin Anna heard my pleas for more zucchini recipes and sent along a whole bunch!  As I’ve mentioned, I love trying recipes that use more than one of my weekly ingredients, so of course this was the first recipe I tried.

This is a lasagna where the layers are a pureed mix of sautéed corn and cream, no-boil lasagna noodles, and a mix of onions, zucchini and poblano peppers, all topped with Oaxaca cheese. My neighborhood grocery store carries Oaxaca cheese, but if you can’t find it, the recipe suggest substituting mozzarella.

The original recipe says to use an 11×8 baking dish.  Naturally, I only had a 11×7 or a 9×13.  I sized up, but in hindsight, I should have sized down.  The bigger dish meant that the veggies didn’t fully cover the noodles, so they didn’t get soft on the top layer.

PoblanoZuccLasagna

You can see from this photo that I didn’t have enough veggies to cover the top, so the noodles got a little crispy.  Nothing some time in the fridge as leftovers won’t fix! However, this meant that I avoided broiling the lasagna to crisp the cheese, since I didn’t want to burn the exposed noodles.

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