Counter Intelligence
Cilantro Lime Potato Salad

This.  Rocks.  I hate mayo, so I wanted a vinegar-based recipe for potato salad.  But instead of doing a traditional German version with parsley, I wanted to use the cilantro I’d gotten from my CSA.  Lime juice, vinegar, vegan Mexican Chipotle sausage instead of bacon?  Yes.

Cilantro Lime Potato Salad

Potato Salad

3c sliced potatoes

half a medium onion, diced

two cloves garlic, sliced

half a link of Mexican Chipotle vegan sausage

1T butter/oil

juice of one lime

2T white vinegar

2T water

2T fresh cilantro

Boil potatoes (quartered, sliced, however you want it to look) for about ten minutes, or until just fork tender.  Drain and place in a cold water bath so they don’t overcook.  

Brown “sausage” in a skillet and set aside, letting it cool.  Add 1T of oil/butter to the pan and saute onions until just browned.  Add garlic and stir for a minute.  Add lime juice, vinegar, and water, bring to a boil.  Let the liquid reduce by half, then add your potatoes and chopped cilantro and combine thoroughly.  Crumble or dice the sausage and add that in, as well.

Winter Vegetable Soup with Crumbled Pecans

OK, OK.  I’m going to allow a moment of delusion and say I’m sorry.  I know you all have been waiting for a long time, not eating until I got around to posting something for you to make to eat.  So…I guess I’ll need to try to find new subscribers, cause there’s no way you’ve survived this blog drought.

I’ve been making food, and sometimes I’ve taken photos of it, but I’ve been avoiding this corner of the internet for unknown reasons.  I will post these photos and I will try to remember how I made the food in them over the next couple weeks.  ”Promise.”

Word of warning: when it gets cold, I make a lot of blended soups.

Winter Vegetable Soup with Crumbled Pecans

Winter Vegetable Soup

2 sweet potatoes

1 large carrot

1 apple

1/2 medium onion

2 cloves garlic

1-2 jalapenos

1T butter

salt, pepper

Wash and peel your vegetables and apple, and then cut everything to a pretty uniform size.  1/4 inch slices would do just fine.  Or chunk it.  Your call.

Sweat your chopped onion, garlic, and jalapeno (seeded) in butter for 5-10 min on  medium heat, stirring.  Add sweet potato, carrot, and apple.  Add spices you might like.  I added curry powder and turmeric and black pepper and salt.  You might want to go to the cumin/chili powder/pepper/salt route?  I don’t know.  I don’t know you very well.  Stir these things around and then add some mild veg stock or just plain water until everything is almost covered.  I think it was like…three cups.  I forgot to measure for you.  But mostly just keep in mind that you’re blending it later so too watery isn’t great, but you can always leave some liquid out of the blending process or just put the blended soup back in the pot to simmer it down (, now).

So, bring your pot to a boil, turn the heat down, cover that sucker, and let things cook.  15 minutes is probably a reasonable time, maybe a little longer.  Just waiting for the veggies to be fork tender and ready to blend.  I like to taste the soup when it’s still in the blender to check the salt level, etc, as the blender is way better at incorporating extra values of sprinkly things than my arm + spoon.

Dish up, throw some pecans (or walnuts? or blue cheese? or kettle chips?) on there, turn the flash off before you take the last picture your batteries will be alive for (blast!) and enjoy. 

Fennel and Basil Martini

This.  Is.  Good.  You know, if you like that sorta thing.

Fennel Basil Martini

Fennel and Basil Martini

fresh fennel (from my CSA)

fresh basil

2oz gin

I’m not sure how to tell you how much fennel I used, and I’m not sure if it matters.  I’ll say…a finger.  Chop up a finger amount of fennel, and muddle that with four or five basil leaves.  Bruising, not pulverizing.  When you can smell the basil, you’re done.  Add ice and gin and shake.  I stuck my little cordial glass in the freezer so it would be frosty.

Fennel and Basil Pasta

So, when the fridge is nearly empty I am totally open to putting each of the odds and ends I have in a pan and then deciding to call it food.  Sometimes I end up with something that is not so pretty.  This week: great success!

Fennel and Basil Pasta

Fennel and Basil Pasta

1/4c chopped fennel

2 garlic cloves, diced

1 jalapeno, seeded and diced

2T olive oil

black pepper

pasta of your heart’s desire (or cupboard’s content)

light tomato sauce/tomato juice

3-4 sundried tomatoes (mine were leftover from a stock I made)

a decent handful of fresh, washed basil

shaved parmesan

Put some water on to boil.  Chop the last of your fennel and your last jalapeno and some garlic for the hell of it.  Maybe you’re lucky enough to have an onion, then you could chop up half of that, too (better yet, if you had half an onion!).  Hopefully your chopping and the water’s boiling are accomplished around the same time, cause my saute of the chopped things in hot oil (on…medium to low heat?  with a little cracked pepper) and the pasta cooking time were almost the same.  Score.  Take the pasta out shortly before it’s done, drain, and add to your pan with fennel, etc.  IF your garlic or jalapeno start to brown take those things off the heat til the pasta is a minute shy of cooked.  We want them soft, not crispy.

Add drained pasta to pan (turn the burner back on if you had to shut it, before), as well as an amount of sauce that looks good to you.  I didn’t want a heavy sauce, because I wanted to taste my veggies.  Luckily, I have no tomato sauce.  Instead I added about 1/4c low sodium tomato juice and my sundried tomatoes, and let that simmer for a couple minutes.  Just when the pasta and veggies are coming together, right before you turn the heat off, stir in the basil.

Top with fresh grated pepper and shaved parmesan.  When you go back for seconds, swap the parm for herbed goat cheese.  Briefly consider putting goat cheese on everything ever for the rest of the days.

Peach Season!

I AM EXCITED.  The flood of peaches coming from my CSA has begun, and man oh man, it’s great.  This is what I did today:

Peaches, Vinaigrette, Pecans

Peaches with Chocolate Balsamic Vinaigrette

So this one is less of a recipe and more of a brag.  There are recipes out there for chocolate balsamic vinaigrette, they look like this:

1/4c balsamic vinegar

2oz dark chocolate (>65% cocoa)

1/3-1/2c olive oil (personal preference)

1 minced garlic clove

fresh ground black pepper

pinch of salt

Combine chocolate and vinegar in a saucepan over very low heat until the chocolate is completely melted.  Transfer to a bowl and whisk in oil and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper.

However, I didn’t use that recipe.  This is because my mother bought a bottle of Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar from The Filling Station for my roommate (=also me) so I used that instead of the first two ingredients, and I am fancy, and it is delicious.  Also, the pecans I put on those peach slices were candied with my Vanilla Simple Syrup.  Would also be good with spiced pecans.  Next week: cobbler!

Roasted Beets

I subscribe to Brooklyn Based, an excellent blog and mailing with a ton of info on local businesses, restaurants, events, and creatives.  Recently they sent an email about beets, and the infamous beet salad, including turns on the beet salad by local chefs, a recipe for Strong Place’s Beet Tartare, and an annoying piece of information: 

By 1821 new research in plant breeding helped produced a higher sugar content in beets, explained Author Neil L. Pennington in his book Sugar, A User’s Guide to Sucrose.

Goddamnit.  I’m not saying that the “natural” sweetness of an unadulterated roasted beet won’t bring me the same pleasure, but sometimes being informed is a bit of a buzzkill.  And, for some reason, I wanted to share that with you.  At least Monsanto didn’t have anything to do with it.  Anyway, here’s my standby method of preparing what has been nature’s candy since 1821:

Roasted Beets

Is this boring?  I’m no master of technique, but I have recently become aware of the fact that I do this differently from other people, so here’s the whole idea.  Start with beautiful, local beets (the one on the right looks like a heart!):

Beautiful Beets

Heat an oven to 350 (I used my toaster oven) and then peel your beets.  I do it under running water to avoid staining my hands, because I’m a princess and a wasteroo.  It’s best to roast items of the same size for even cooking, so I cut the two big guys in half to make each piece about the same max thickness as the little guy.  They all lined up on some aluminum foil, and I brought the sides up to meet, folded them down, and folded in the ends.  This traps in water vapor to help the cooking process, and also traps the juices so you don’t have beet juice burned to the bottom of your oven.  Putting your packet of beets on a cookie sheet would be a wise move.  They can take between 45min and 2 hours to be done (stick a fork in em).  These ones took about 90min.  Depending on the amount of liquid in there, you might get lucky and have the bottom of your beets carmelize a little.  This is not a flaw; it is a bonus.  Enjoy.

Stuck a Fork in it

Yesterday I had a salad with these beets, their beet greens, red leaf lettuce, white snap peas, blueberries, walnuts, and a chocolate balsamic vinaigrette.  It was tasty.  Just sayin.  

OH and Cait brought me gin and tomato juice, declared it a Bloody Margaret, and I added beet juice.  And Worcestershire, Cholula, black pepper, chili powder, and cayenne.  So.  That, too, was tasty.  Invite yourself over for lunch, sometime.

Blackcurrant Cordial

Until today, I had never experienced a blackcurrant outside of the realm of jam.  They are, I find, quite pleasant raw.  The internet will tell you they need sugar, but the internet tells you that everything needs sugar.  The raw berry is a bit tart, the peel has some tannins, as dark-peeled berries tend to have, and the flavor is something between a cranberry and a cherry.  For some reason I want to describe it as “meaty” but I feel like that might turn you off.  In any case, I went sugar-less, save for a whiff of absinthe, which strikes a nice balance with the blackcurrant, lingering on the front of your tongue while our berry friend hangs out a little farther back.

Blackcurrant Cordial

Blackcurrant Cordial

8 or 10 blackcurrants, rinsed

2oz gin

a whiff of absinthe

Muddle your blackcurrants.  Add gin and ice; shake.  Pour a small amount of absinthe in your glass, swirl around, and pour out.  Strain your cordial into your glass.

Chilled Squash Soup

I came across a great cold squash soup recipe on this site last week, and it looked like a perfect way to get all the squash I have from my CSA out of my fridge and into my face.  Plus, cold soup in the summer is the best.  There are a couple things I’ll do differently next time, but I’ll post what I made first, and then how I might modify it next time (…tomorrow).

Chilled Squash Soup

Squash Soup

6 cups chopped squash (I had baby yellow squash and pattypan, but zucchini and probably anything else can also go in there)

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

3 cups vegetable stock

several sundried tomato pieces

salt and pepper

2T chopped basil

2T chopped parsley

1T lemon juice

1c (or less…) Greek yogurt


Add squash, onion, garlic, sundried tomato, broth, salt, and pepper to a pan and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer, covered, until veggies are tender.  

Squash Cooking

Slightly cool and then blend.  Add basil, parsley, and lemon juice to blender and combine.  Stir in yogurt, a half cup first, then taste it.  I’m not usually so hot on dairy, and I should have known to cut this amount down a little.  Salt and pepper additionally if required (I needed more salt than I had first dashed in during the boiling process, but that will depend on the stock you use).  I think next time I might also add some lemon zest and fennel, but really this is a great soup to play around with, as it tastes great but is also kind of a blank slate for experimenting, no fraid!  Cayenne!  Coriander!  Curry and coconut milk?  If you find the magic turn on this dish, lemme know.  Enjoy, y’all.

Vegetable Stock!

See?  An exclamation point can make anything exciting.  This is kind of just for my CSA homies, but like, it’s a good idea in general if you cook a bunch and are the kind of person (I’m pointing at myself, here) who can sometimes forget about something in a drawer and then it’s wilted and you resign to limply dropping it in the trash with a frown face on.  Instead of trashing these things, I should have been making stock!  DUH.  I have been using, and still probably will use, these vegan bouillon cubes:

Rapunzel Bouillon

They are pretty great, but as often as I have scallion tops, carrot tops, older onions, garlic, etc just kind of around (and I do) then I can put a bit of stock in my freezer for a rainy day.  (Rainy means lazy, right?  Usually?)

Vegetable Stock

things, roughly chopped (or for the greens, just rinsed)

I threw in: 

scallions and scallion tops

carrot tops

a couple basil stalks


sundried tomatoes (halved)

a parmesan rind

salt and pepper

Simmering Stock

Add all of your veggie parts to the cauldron (mwahaha) with enough water to just cover things.  Heat to a boil and then simmer for quite a while.  Something approaching an hour, or maybe less if you know better than I do.  I kept the sundried tomato halves for a future recipe, but the rest of it I put in the compost, and I stuck my stock in the freezer.  I got about a cup of stock out of it, and since I let it simmer for a while, it was pretty potent.  Not vegan due to cheese rind, but, you know.  I’m not so concerned.