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Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Garlic Roasted Radishes with Chives

 

This will likely be the quickest and easiest recipe you'll ever see on this blog. 

This could not be easier.

Garlic Roasted Radishes for two

  • 12-14 radishes, washed, stemmed, and cut in half
  • 3 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • Good olive oil, as needed
  • Kosher salt 
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Garlic chives, chopped
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare a casserole or roasting dish by rubbing with oil. Slice the garlic into thin chips either using a mandolin or a good sharp knife. Prepare your radishes and add them, along with the garlic chips, to the roasting dish of your choice. Add olive oil and plenty of kosher salt. I do mean it when I say you can use a little more than you may think you need, as these are hearty root vegetables that can take quite a bit. Toss well, and crack pepper all over them. 

Place in the hottest part of your oven and roast for 30 minutes. When finished, toss together and add to a serving dish, garnishing with the garlic chives. Yes, that's it. I just did an entire recipe for radishes in less than three paragraphs. Are you bored? Would you like to hear a story? Keep reading. 


Radishes are extremely low in calories, high in flavor, a decent source of vitamin C, and have even been known to have antifungal properties. Why would a human need to worry about that? Have you ever heard of a yeast infection or perhaps even thrush? They're not fun to have. It also should be noted that, although they've yet to be the center of everyone's attention in the health world, they've been used as an anti-inflammatory and general folk remedy in traditional Chinese medicine. To tell you the truth, I was more looking forward to it as an anti-inflammatory when my partners at the farm told me they had plenty of radishes for me! My joints are killing me right now, and I need some relief. 

Naturally, you'll be able to use the greens as well as the root. I guess it's a good thing that you have this option to blend up the greens and make yourself a batch of some gorgeous green pasta out of them. The greens are a touch spicy, just like the roots. If you're feeling disappointed by only one idea for your radishes and you - like me - happen to have a lot, here are a few other things you can do with them:

  • Chop them fine and add them to a tuna salad for your sandwich
  • Chop the roots and the greens together, mix them with mayo and chopped egg to make a radish salad, which is lovely on white bread
  • Slice thin to add to a salad
  • Shred the roots with the greens and add garlic, chilies, and more to make a radish kimchi
  • Chop finely and add to yogurt and sour cream for a dip
  • Add your greens with finely sliced onions to the bottom of a roasting dish and roast chicken on top of them
  • Eat them raw with ranch dressing
  • Shred them with a cheese grater to make a zesty radish drink with sugar, mint, and lime juice to make a Radish Cooler!




Actually, this was a sort of mixed bag for me. In the Philippines, we have a drink where you shred cantaloupe into the water and let it sit to make a highly cooling beverage for the hot, tropical climate. I shredded about eight small radishes into a gallon container with filtered water and added three sprigs of mint, the juice of one lime, and about 1/4 c of sugar. Once it chilled together, it was pungent, sweet, cooling, and quite spicy! I actually preferred it as a spritzer, with equal parts radish cooler and grapefruit soda. Although the taste was definitely not like cantaloupe, it was equally cooling and refreshing for the muggy day. If you like, you could even shake up the radish cooler with some more mint, an ounce of white rum, a little more lime, and some grapefruit juice along with soda water to make yourself a grown-up radish spritzer!

I hope that my garlic roasted radishes along with the controversial Radish Cooler I attempted this afternoon will give you at least a little push in the direction of creation in the name of the radish. This lovely vegetable has limitless potential and I hope you discover ways of preparing it that I could never even dream of!

Happy cooking and happy eating!



Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Duck Egg Fried Rice with Sugar Snap Peas

 


We've all seen it. You know, that viral video courtesy of the BBC, where this poor woman is forced to absolutely ruin egg fried rice? Even more, you've likely seen countless videos of appalled and incredulous folks of Asian descent reacting to it. I didn't want to jump too much on the bandwagon, but when I got some incredible duck eggs from the farm, I just had to tell you guys how I do my own egg fried rice.


 A quick note about duck eggs: They're much fattier than chicken eggs, have a thicker shell and are generally larger. The flavor is much more unctuous, which is why I actually prefer them in custards and creams to chicken eggs. I'll certainly be making a cake with them later! You can buy duck eggs in many stores nowadays, so keep your eyes open for them. No matter where you get them, make sure to wash them thoroughly before storing them in the fridge, like you would do with your chicken eggs.

Egg fried rice is something that's in almost every Asian person's arsenal of things to cook. This is a perfect way to use up leftover rice, which you'll almost always have. I think a lot of Asian folks tend to make more rice than they need because you never know how much you'll actually need until it's cooked. In my household, my rice cooker is almost always on. If there was a fire in my house, I'd get my animals out first, and then I'd get my rice cooker because that's how much I would need it while we stayed in a hotel getting our house repaired or finding a new one. It is always best to use leftover rice when making egg fried rice, but if you don't have that, then here's how you make the rice:

  1. Take any pot.
  2. Add any amount of rice
  3. Add water to the rice and squish it around with your hand to get all the gunk off. Pour water off. Repeat until the water is clear, which will show you your rice is done.
  4. Touch the top of the rice with your index finger and add enough water until the top of the water reaches the first line of your first knuckle. 
  5. Cover and cook on medium heat until done. 
  6. Spread whatever leftover rice you have on a plate to cool and dry out and leave uncovered in the fridge, for later use of fried rice.
Easy? Easy! Let's also note that eggs are the star of the dish, but egg fried rice is often about what you can use up. This is the ultimate fast food recipe for your kitchen, and this particular recipe is just made from the goodies I got from the farm today. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's move on to the recipe...

Duck Egg Fried Rice with Sugar Snap Peas
  • Leftover rice, about 3 cups
  • 5-10 cloves garlic
  • 2 radishes, washed and stemmed
  • 3 duck eggs
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas
  • 2 large scallions
  • 1 longanisa sausage
  • 1/4 c Soy sauce*
  • 2 Tbsp Calamansi juice*
  • 1 Tbsp Mirin*
  • A dash of patis or fish sauce*
  • A fat pinch of white sugar



Number one priority when it comes to fried rice: mise en place! As in, you must have all of your things all in place before you even turn on the stove. As you can see, my longanisa has been sliced thinly, which was very easy because it was frozen. My garlic has already been peeled, smashed, and chopped. My radishes have been washed, the stems have been chopped, as well as the bulbs. My sugar snap peas could have been left whole, but I thought it would be better to snap off the top stems and chop them in half for ease of tossing in the wok. My eggs are cracked. The only thing that hasn't been done in this picture is the slicing of the scallions, but that'll be for later. Besides, I thought it would be a good picture to just leave it like this. 

I was so excited to get sugar snap peas in my CSA box this week, as they are not only a favorite ingredient but a delicious snack in the hot weather. Keeping freshly-picked sugar snap peas in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator will help you keep a healthy snack on hand that will crunch! I do love making a fresh, lovely, cold pea and mint soup, but this application seemed a little more accessible...and hey, let's remember that we're ALL trying to cook this!

c r u n ch


You'll also notice that I've put many asterisks in this recipe. The thing with egg fried rice is that you make it to taste, and that is how most Asian recipes will tend to go. Measurements often do not matter, as the only truly important thing is making it how you want it to taste. I am using calamansi juice and patis in my rice because I am a Filipino-American and that's the kind of stuff that I have in my pantry. I use soy sauce, but you can use oyster sauce. I put 5-10 cloves of garlic because it will always vary, especially considering cloves of garlic are often bigger or smaller as you go. Furthermore, never let a recipe tell you to only put one or two cloves of garlic in; garlic is measured with the heart. 

Garlic = flavor. 


This post was sponsored by KC Farm School at Gibbs Road, an incredible not-for-profit community teaching farm that is committed to education, permaculture, and building a strong community together. They have an amazing program called Let's Grow, Wyandotte! and a great CSA program. Please check them out here, give them a Like on Facebook, and follow them on Instagram!

To make fried rice, I use a wok. You can buy these at most any Asian grocer, so please go there instead of a big box store, if you can. You can also find duck eggs in Asian grocery stores, just make sure it says DUCK EGGS on the sign and does not say "BALUT" on the sign. Just...trust me on this. If you don't have a wok, the biggest, deepest frying pan that you have will do fine. Ideally, you'll want to have a frying pan that you can easily maneuver with one hand, as you'll want to toss and flip your goodies.

Remember: This is going to go FAST! If you'd like a video tutorial, check this out first. It's only 5 minutes...please turn on the captions!



Are you ready? Let's go together, step-by-step.

  1. Gather and prepare all of your ingredients, including the rice
  2. Heat your wok or frying pan to a high flame. Add neutral oil to coat the bottom and sides of the pan, such as canola or vegetable oil, and allow to heat. 
  3. Add your garlic and saute until brown. Quickly remove the garlic and set it aside. This was to flavor your oil!
  4. Add your eggs, all in at once, and allow to cook. Use a spoon to toss the hot oil over the eggs, and swirl it around so that it is floating on hot oil. Flip it over a few times as it cooks. 
  5. Add all of your vegetables except for the scallions, and the longanisa, and stir. Allow cooking.
  6. Add your rice and stir well. Make sure you're tossing everything together well! If you can flip air into it, this is called "wok-hei!" (I have no idea if that's how you spell it so please be nice to me.) Wok-hei is just when you get that good fragrance and good air going in. Trust me, you want it!
  7. Add in your seasonings, such as your mirin, soy sauce, et cetera. Toss well and cook until the rice is jumping! All this means is that little stray individual rice grains will begin to pop and fly...this means the rice is hot enough. 
  8. Add your scallions and toss well to incorporate.
  9. Serve immediately
And there you have it! So easy! 

I hope you've enjoyed this take on a quick, easy, fun dish that can easily be modified to any diet. Don't forget to enjoy what you're eating, and use this recipe as a base for any dish you'd like to make, with any ingredients you likely will have. Please remember that I am not the sole authority on egg fried rice, just simply one of billions of people that have made it in their lifetime. So long as you follow these simple principles of preparation, good ingredients, and using leftover rice, you'll succeed in making delicious food. 

Happy cooking and happy eating!

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Turnip Green Pasta



If you must blink, do it now:

Yes, you saw that: bright green pasta. No, there were no dyes in this recipe, only the natural color of the turnip greens. What sorcery is this? Before I get INTO this recipe, allow me a brief introduction of my dear friends and our sponsors of this post, KC Farm School at Gibbs Road


This is one of my favorite places in the city. This humble farm is the epicenter of education, permaculture, and diversity in the middle of Wyandotte County, my Home Sweet Home. I've been working with this organization for years, and it's always a pleasure. Some of my absolute favorite programs to participate in are CSA programs, and "Let's Grow, Wyandotte!" which is a gardening initiative in which participants get free plants to start a garden, all in an attempt to help reconnect citizens to their food, their land, and our connection with the earth. Are you ready to hear what all of this has to do with turnip greens? 

The items for this week's CSA box from KC Farm School at Gibbs Road consist of broccoli rabe, fresh herbs, and - you guessed it - turnip greens! These are incredibly high in calcium, iron, and - shockingly - folic acid! This is great because I currently need a good amount of that, but that's another blog post. Could I simply take these greens and braise them with chopped bacon, onions, jalapenos, and chicken stock? Absolutely. Could I chop them up and bake them in a big casserole of macaroni and cheese? Of course! But why would I do that when I know for a fact that so many more people have become that much more adventurous with cooking since the Quarantine last year? Don't you remember how everyone was baking homemade bread? Compared to that, homemade pasta is an absolute breeze! So let's get right to it.

Turnip Green Pasta

  • 10 oz all-purpose flour (or 2 cups)
  • 7.5 oz semolina (or an over-full cup)
  • 2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
  • 5 oz turnip greens, washed and chopped(that's about 2 cups)
  • 1/3 c water
Combine the flour and semolina in the bowl of a standing mixer, or on a clean countertop. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and get ready for the liquid stuff. Combine the greens, water, eggs, and yolk in the pitcher of a blender and turn it on. Make sure you use the plunger that usually comes with the blender, or stop it a few times here and there to scrape down the sides. Begin at a low speed, and slowly increase speed. You're ultimately going to want to blend all of this until it's entirely liquid, which will end with your blender in the highest speed it can possibly go to, being on for at least 30 seconds during this stage. I'm not being hyperbolic when I say that you want to make sure that this is as smooth a liquid as possible, and that it will take at least 2 minutes with the blender on for this to happen. When it's all done, it'll be bright green and ready for you to pour into the middle of your well. 



Fit your mixer with a dough hook and stir all of this together until it is just combined. If you are doing this by hand, simply take a fork and slowly mix it all together, from the inside out, until it's all just combined. Either way, cover your dough and let it rest for 10 minutes at room temperature. When that time has passed, turn on your mixer to low and let it knead for 20 minutes. Yes, you read that right - I want you to let this knead for a solid 20 minutes straight. Set a timer and come back when it's all done, wrap it and let it rest for another 20 minutes before continuing. Are you mixing it by hand? Don't fret! Here's what you do:

Flour your hands lightly, take the dough and fold it in half over itself. Do that again. Then, do it again. The kneading process for this is honesty best if you simply knead by folding it over and over and over and over again, and you'll do that for five minutes. Then, you'll wrap it and let it rest for five minutes. Then, you'll knead it by way of folding for another five minutes, then let it rest for another five. You're going to do this knead-rest-knead process about four times. Think of it as the day you can skip the gym. Once you've kneaded it four times, you can let it rest for the full 20 minutes and go give yourself a break.


After you, and your dough, have rested, the fun part is going to now begin. If you have a pasta maker, this is where you're going to run the dough through. If you're doing this by hand, you'll feel all the more satisfied by doing it...and I'll tell you how! First thing's first, however: set up your drying rack. The apparatus you choose to dry your pasta can be anything. For example, you can use a lovely beech wood rack you've acquired, or something as simple as few clean coat hangers to hang in your kitchen. No, really! When I was in culinary school, before I had a standing mixer, a pasta machine, or even a real rolling pin, I used an empty wine bottle to roll out my noodles and hung them to dry on coat hangers. As proof of this absolutely ridiculous story, I will now provide you a horribly over-exposed phone photo taken over ten years ago on my Samsung Galaxy at 10:45 at night. 

Hashtag Cursed Image.png


To put this dough into manageable sizes, I cut this into eight portions and floured each one generously before running it through the pasta maker. Generally, I'll fold over the sheets I'm rolling out two or three times to ensure a homogenous texture and roll them through again. I usually repeat this process a few times, just until I feel like I have a texture I'm really happy with. The dough should feel quite firm in your hands, yet still just slightly pliable. No matter what, don't be afraid to use flour. I MEAN that! Your sheets of pasta should be practically floating on a sheet of flour that separates each one. You don't want this dough to stick!

I've got eight sheets of pasta here, all separated with a ridiculous amount of flour between.

I rolled these to the 4 thickness setting on my pasta machine because that is my preference. You can roll it as thick or as thin as you would like it to be because ultimately you'll be the one eating it. I used the fettuccine attachment cutter to make these strips, but you can just as easily roll this to your desired thickness with a rolling pin and cut it with a knife to whatever shapes you desire. No matter what, you'll want it to dry out. 




I realize this makes quite a bit of pasta, so you'll definitely have enough for tonight and a few nights down the road, as this - once dried - stays good for up to 6 months in an airtight container. When cooking it the same day you made it, all you have to do is boil it for 90 seconds before tossing it in the sauce of your choice. While you're cleaning up, let's contemplate flavors!

Turnip greens are, as you can guess, the leafy greens of the turnip root, which is a member of the rose family. Turnips themselves have a very floral quality in taste, so the greens are naturally a hair bitter and astringent while being fragrant in their own right. It is easy for one to conclude that this means that the flavors will translate into the pasta noodle itself, and therefore should be paired appropriately. Bitter is counteracted by sweet and by sour. You can also counteract it with a little bit of fat. So what to do about your dinner tonight? Let's see...

I happen to have some sun-dried tomatoes from last summer, packed in oil. All I've got to do now is sear some chicken thighs in a hot pan, remove and set them aside, then add equal parts of fresh cherry tomatoes and sundried tomatoes in the fond of the pan and cook until the liquid comes out. 




Add in fresh onions, a little garlic, some fresh herbs of your choice, and the chicken back to the pan. Cover and let cook on low heat for 15 minutes while your pasta water reaches a boil. All that's left to do now is to cook your fresh pasta for a whole 90 seconds (or 6 minutes, if it's made it to the dried stage) and quickly toss in the pan sauce. Finish with a little bit of the tomato oil from the jar and you're all ready to eat. 



I hope you've enjoyed this recipe! Remember that my suggested serving of this pasta is only that, a suggestion. It is my true and sincere hope that you take this pasta dough from this green that would otherwise be either used as an afterthought or simply discarded and make something incredible out of it. Cooking nose-to-tail isn't just for animals, you know! If a part of a plant is edible, you owe it to yourself to try eating it. Waste not, want not...right?

Thank you so much for hanging with me for the time it took you to read this. Happy cooking and happy eating!

Friday, May 7, 2021

Butternut Squash Fruit Leather

 


Botanically speaking, squash is a fruit. This does not mean you should stick it in a fruit salad with a cool whip dressing, but I'm sure stranger things have been done to it. Bottom line that you need to know for this recipe: it's acceptable to make a winter squash fruit leather. 

In an attempt to be thrifty and to bide my time while I wait on the fruits of my garden (and of the fruits of my friends' farm to come in) I've taken recently to clearing out my cellar. I do believe that it is important to note that I do not actually have a cellar, simply have an in-ground garage that may as well be a cellar, with consistently cool temperatures enough to store a ton of winter squash. These squash are from the early autumn of last year, and most of them are - miraculously - still good! Since I just have a weird thing about eating squash purees in the middle of spring, I thought I'd try something I always wanted to try: fruit leather!

When my in-laws moved from their big house to a smaller house, they gave me a lot of neat old things, including their dehydrator. It's already become my best friend when it comes to preserving my herbs! I'll certainly use it much more when it's time to start drying things for my tea garden. For now? I'm going to show you what I did with one of my last good butternut squashes, to make an absolutely delicious snack, perfect for a quick lunch for satisfying a mid-afternoon sweet tooth.

Butternut Leather
yields 16 leathers

  • 1 medium butternut squash, quartered, with seeds removed
  • 3 carrots, peeled
  • 1 large apple, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup local honey or maple syrup**
    • This will vary to taste
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon**
  • A dash of mace**
    • The spices are optional, but nice
  • 1/4 c water
This is an incredibly simple recipe to prepare, with time as the major ingredient. First and foremost, grab your favorite steaming apparatus and prepare it to steam for a long time. I use my rice cooker's steamer function for small items, but since this is a big item I decided to use my bamboo steamer. 



Almost every Asian supermarket has a section for kitchenware and a place where you can buy a bamboo steamer of many sizes. I have a 12" that fits in my large wok. This is easily one of my favorite items to have, and if you have a wok, I highly recommend having a bamboo steamer as well to go with it! I don't recommend buying online for this if you can at all help it. Go to the store, poke around, hold the steamer in your hand, and let it speak to you. Listen for "Let me come home with you!" and that's the steamer basket for you.

To prepare your steamer, add water to your wok or chosen pot and bring to a simmer. Set your steamer basket over it. I didn't peel the squash, but I did peel the carrots and set them straight on the basket. It seemed a little easier for me to simple quarter and de-seed my squash, so that's what I did. Simply arrange on your steamer trays and steam your squash and carrots for about 30 minutes, or until unspeakably soft. Turn off your water and allow to cool long enough so you can handle it with your bare hands. Peel and chop your apple. 

Add your fruit and veg to the pitcher of a blender or bowl of a food processor along with the water, honey, vinegar, and spices Please note that you can use lemon juice for this application, but because this is going to yield a shelf-stable item in my own kitchen, I prefer something with a consistent acid level versus the juice of a fresh lemon off the shelf.

Blend your items on low, stirring every so often, and then to medium, and then high, for at least 30 seconds each. You want your puree to be as smooth as possible. Taste for acid and sweetness. If you don't like the flavor now, you certainly won't like it when it's dried and concentrated, so please take your time in perfecting the flavors.

Don't you just love this closeup?


Once your puree is blended to smooth and silky perfection, pour onto the trays of your dehydrator. My dehydrator came with four plastic trays that I was able to spread about a cup of puree each on. The goal is to make sure that they are consistently thick, so an offset spatula was my absolute best friend in this process. Take your time, okay? You don't want to see any clear or white spots in the middle of your leather, and generally it's okay if it's a little thicker versus a little thinner. 

When your trays are all set upand ready to go, assemble your food dehydrator and turn it on. Leave it to run for 4 - 6 hours, or until the leather is set enough and easy enough to pry away from the tray. Mine took about about 4 1/2 hours to fully dry, but this is highly dependent on the humidity of your kitchen. Once the time is up, I like to turn my machine off and let it cure overnight, although this step is unnecessary if you're an eager beaver like yours truly and feel like you need a snack before you keel over. 

It should be thick enough to be able to peel off in one piece, but thin enough to see through...kind of.


To store the fruit leathers, you can either roll them up in parchment paper, wax paper, or in clingfilm. Simply peel your leather away from the trays, gently, and cut the large pieces into quarters. Grab yourself an appropriate piece of clingfilm or paper, with about a quarter inch of allowance to fold up around the first edge of your leather, so that it won't stick to itself when you roll it up. Roll tightly, trim excess from the edges, and store upright in a jar. They'll keep for a whopping six months!


I'd like to note a few things about the yumminess of this, as I'm sure you're curious:

Yes, it does taste like butternut squash! Yes, it's a little tangy. No, it doesn't taste like fall...but it does taste like a sweet bit of squash along with the sweetness and freshness of the carrots and apple. Yes, the cinnamon and mace is optional, and yes, you can add whichever other spices you prefer to this. Yes, youc an use any winter squash you may have lying around, such as kobucha. No, butternut squash is not technically seasonal for spring...but let me explain!

Living seasonally doesn't necessarily always mean "I will only eat these things when they are growing naturally." In my very humble opinion, I believe living and eating seasonally means: "I will consume what is available to me." Since I never used all of these squash, of which there were plenty, I felt it would have been wrong to simply throw away perfectly good food. Why throw away something that came from the earth, and that's filled with such good nutrition? There's no reason, if you ask me!

When you choose to live a smaller and more seasonal life, you are actively choosing to defy the capitalist/consumerist ideology that's often pushed upon modern society. The carbon footprint of so much of our foods have become larger and larger throughout the years. While the majority of pollution and damage done to the climate and the planet is done by large corporations, there's no reason you can't connect with the earth and all its bounty while saving yourself a few pennies in the process. 

For me, it's been incredibly empowering to be able to grow and make my own food, grown not just from my own hands but from the hands of people I personally know. Last year I was privileged enough to connect with the KC Farm School at Gibbs Road for Let's Grow, Wyandotte, a program to help connect fellow citizens of my county to their earth, their food, their own inner heart. I'm sure that if you follow me on Instagram, you'll see me tag them in a post here and there. Check them out on Facebook, if you're into that sort of thing!

Now please excuse me while I nosh on this like a little goat. 




Happy cooking and happy eating!