Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Carrot Ginger Salad Dressing

As part of Operation July (a.k.a. feel good about my body 6 months after birth), I am on a vegetable-based lunch mission. It has taken a bit of discipline to have enough creative and quick to make options on hand, but I'm getting better at it.

I'm washing and bagging my own lettuce mix (radicchio, endive and red leaf), storing chopped vegetables to easily scoop on salads, hard-boiling a dozen eggs on the weekend, and always making sure I have ripe avocado and good steaming vegetables on hand.

The real breakthrough has come by stocking up on homemade dressing. Prep on Sunday is leading to saved time mid-week AND a good variety making the vegetable lunch mission sustainable. Sesame vinaigrette, shallot lime... and today's flavor, Carrot Ginger.

As you know from this post, I'm a Japanese food fanatic. The winter CSA is carrot and garlic heavy, so the timing is perfect for my take on the staple Japanese dressing. I've made a lot of carrot ginger dressings, (this, that and the other one) and now have my personal perfect recipe down. The key is 10 minutes of extra work, boiling the carrots to soften them. It makes all the difference. Enjoy!

Carrot and Ginger Salad Dressing 
Ingredients
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1.5 inches of fresh ginger, peeled*
  • 1.5 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 3-4 medium to large carrots 
  • 1/3 cup reserve cooking water
Directions
  • Clean the carrots, roughly chop them, place them in a small pot and cover with water
  • Bring to a boil and cook over medium low heat for 10 minutes
  • Drain, reserving 1/3 cup of cooking water
  • Add all the ingredients to a food processor, and blend until smooth
*Love this trick: The easiest way to peel ginger is with a teaspoon.... the skin slides off!

The latest batch of dressings, Carrot Ginger on top!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Roast Chicken with Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchokes)

I love artichokes. The flower-like symmetry, the tender layer of "meat" on the leaves, the delicately cupped heart, the gorgeous purple and green hues... Perfection.  In fifth grade, the tradition at my school was for each student to create their favorite food in clay. I sculpted, fired and glazed a particularly UN-symmetric, NOT so gorgeous artichoke and proudly displayed it on parents night in a sea of ice cream, spaghetti and pizza.

So imagine my delight last year when receiving the CSA announcement about an upcoming delivery of Jerusalem Artichokes. I was surprised it was a local possibility, but hey an artichoke is an artichoke... right???

Then these guys showed up:


Not purple, nor green, and certainly not symmetrical or flower-like!  A brown, ginger looking root bulb.  A total misnomer.  Yet... there must be something in a name because I loved them. Nutty, perfect to roast, great with a little caramelizing and as I learned with a little experimentation, not nearly as daunting to prepare as their appearance would suggest.

This recipe for a roast chicken (thanks mummy!) with Jerusalem Artichokes, aka Sunchokes, is a cinch to prepare and gorgeous on the table.  If you only want to prepare the Jerusalem Artichokes, omit the chicken and other veg, and just include the lemon, rosemary olive oil blend.  Next up, Jerusalem Artichoke soup.

Roast Chicken with Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchokes) 
Ingredients
  • One whole chicken (3-4 lbs for four people)
  • 2 cups of washed, roughly cleaned* Jerusalem Artichokes and other root vegetables
  • 1 lemon
  • 3-4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
*I have cooked these guys both fully peeled, and roughly cleaned and enjoy them more with a little skin.  They are softer than potatoes, so the skin keeps them in tact.  To save time, cut off any particularly dirty or bulby bits, scrub clean and peel slightly for an uneven appearance

Directions
  • Preheat the oven to 375
  • Remove anything from inside the chicken.  Rinse the chicken in cold water, and pat dry with paper towels
  • Meanwhile, blend 1/3 - 1/2 cup of olive oil (1/4 if just doing Jerusalem Artichokes) with the juice of one lemon and the leaves off three sprigs of rosemary until mixed
  • Rub 3/4ths of olive oil rosemary blend outside the chicken and in between the skin and body
  • Toss the vegetables (I used two cups of Jerusalem Artichokes, carrots and turnips because I didn't have enough of the star vegetable) with the remaining olive oil blend and arrange in a single layer in a roasting pan
  • Position the chicken on top in the middle of the pan (on a rack if you have one, not on a rack if you don't)
  • Salt and pepper the entire pan
  • Roast for 20 minutes per pound, plus an additional 15 minutes (i.e. 1 hour 35 minutes for 4 lb bird)
  • Remove from the oven, and use a meat thermometer to check for 180 degree internal temperature

About Jerusalem Artichokes 
The Jerusalem Artichoke, also known as the sunchoke, sunroot or earth apple, is native to North America (not Jerusalem!).  The origins of the name are unknown, but as a part of the sunflower family it is assumed that over time the name girasole (Italian for sunflower) may have been changed to Jerusalem.  As a CSA loving-friend told me, the most interesting fact about this tuber is that it stores the carbohydrate inulin, instead of starch, making it a great alternative to potatoes for diabetics.

Before

After

Friday, February 3, 2012

Cayenne: The Simple Spice


A good friend of mine's father claims cayenne pepper is the family secret ingredient in most meals. Crab cakes, chili, pasta, eggs...you name it and cayenne is there in some form.

When my stepmother feasted her eyes on my CSA winter vegetables last night she drooled and quickly prepped them for a simple and scrumptious roasting. Black radishes, jerusalem artichokes, carrots, parsnips ... and cayenne. The secret and simplest addition.

Cayenne Roasted Vegetables 
Ingredients

  • Peeled and bite size chopped root vegetables such as black radishes, carrots, Jerusalem artichokes, and parsnips
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Salt & pepper
  • Olive oil

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 400
  • Toss the vegetables with olive oil to coat (@ half a tablespoon per cup of vegetables)
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • Sprinkle with cayenne pepper: 1/4 a teaspoon to 1 teaspoon depending on your love of spice
  • Roast for 35-45 minutes tossing twice midway

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