Friday, December 28, 2012

Grated Radish Party Dip

Here's a deliciously different dip that mixes sharp and spicy radishes with the smooth creaminess of sour cream.  It's perfect for a party, and it's pretty simple to make, too.

Personally, I like the richness of sour cream in this recipe, but if you want a somewhat lower calorie substitute, you can use Greek-style yogurt for some or all of the sour cream.

1 C grated radishes
4-6 T finely crumbled feta cheese
1 C sour cream
pinch or 2 of salt (to taste)
pinch or 2 of pepper (to taste)
1/2 t finely grated lemon rind
1-2 T chopped fresh parsley

Wash, dry and cut off the roots and leaves/stems of the radishes.  Grate radishes on a medium grater.  Measure out 1 C and place in a medium bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Stir until well-combined.  Adjust seasoning.  Chill.  Serve cold with crudites or potato chips.

I like to doll up this recipe by adding 1/2 to 3/4 C flaked crab meat.

I also like to add a little hot pepper in the form of finely ground red chili flakes.

Today's bounty included:

From County Line Harvest South:  Tuscan kale, arugula, French breakfast radishes, scallions, and collard greens;

From Jimenez Family Farm:  Garlic, leeks, carrots, winter squash, romaine lettuce, spinach, cilantro, beets, yellow onions, and cabbage;

From K and K Ranch:  Oro Blanco grapefruit and Pink Lady apples.

Happy New Year Everyone!  Here's to a delicious 2013.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Beet Soup (not Borscht)

When the weather turns cold, I think of soup.  Soup's been on my mind a lot lately with the thermometer dipping below 40 degrees Fahrenheit at night.

There are many wonderful soups, but few are as exquisitely beautiful as beet soup.  It's intense magenta color belies a mild and slightly sweet taste that plays nicely with many different flavor enhancers and garnishes.

Best of all, it's a cinch to make.  Simply saute some onion, peel and chop some beets and a small amount of russet potato; simmer everything in water or broth with salt, pepper, and herbs of your choice, if desired; puree; and voila, it's soup.

You can use a standard blender, immersion blender or food processor to puree the beet soup to a smooth consistency.  Below are the ingredients and amounts I use; feel free to double or halve this recipe.

1-2 t olive oil
1/2 C chopped onion
3 medium red beets, peeled and quartered
1 medium russet potato, peeled and quartered
4-5 C water
1 bay leaf
1/2 t salt, or to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste
juice of 1 fresh orange (optional)

1.  In a medium stock pot, saute the onions in the olive oil until translucent.

2.  Add the peeled and quartered beets and potato, 4 C water, bay leaf, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer.  Cover and simmer until beets and potato are tender, about 20 minutes.

3.  Cool slightly, until easy to handle.  Remove the bay leaf.  Then puree in a blender or food processor, in batches if necessary, until smooth.  Add more water for a thinner soup.

4.  Taste and adjust the salt and pepper, if necessary.  If desired, stir in the juice of half a fresh orange.  Taste and add more fresh orange juice if desired.

Serve warm or hot.  Garnish with crumbled goat cheese, snipped dill, or chopped parsley.  Lemon juice is a nice, though slightly more tart, alternative to orange juice.

For a richer soup, you can substitute broth for all or part of the water.  Chicken broth, beef broth, or veggie broth are all fine.

You can make this soup from golden beets instead of red beets.  It will be just as delicious, but won't have that fabulous deep magenta color.

Remember to compost the peels and rinds.

Today's bounty included:

From County Line Harvest South:  Spring onions, rainbow carrots, arugula, and lacinato kale;

From Jimenez Family Farm:  Garlic, broccoli, cabbage, beets, winter squash, russet potatoes, romaine lettuce, spinach, cilantro, leeks, and chard;

From K and K Ranch:  Oro Blanco grapefruit and Pink Lady apples.

Happy Holidays everyone!


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hoshigaki - Japanese Dried Persimmons

In November, I attended a marvelous class in Santa Barbara on drying whole Hachiya persimmons in the traditional Japanese style.  Hoshigaki are somewhat of a delicacy; and making them involves weeks of air drying and periodic hand massaging to transform the astringent fruit into a sweet treat with a smooth and creamy interior and a flat, oblong shape.  At the end of the drying process, sugars from the inside of the fruit will come to the surface, leaving a sweet, white, powdery bloom.

Our teacher, Laurence Hauben, has been teaching the hoshigaki method for years.  She started by demonstrating the peeling, stringing, and hanging techniques.  Then we practiced carefully removing the peel, leaving the stem and a piece of the calyx about the size of a quarter.  We paired up fruit by weight and and tied each to opposite ends of a string.  Then we hung the peeled persimmon pairs over bamboo rods placed next to a sunny window where they would spend the next few weeks drying.

Laurence then demonstrated how to massage the drying fruit to produce a soft and smooth pulp.  After the fruit hangs for about a week, a thin outer skin forms.  From this point forward, the fruit is gently massaged every two to three days in order to keep the interior soft and to flatten out the fruit.  Depending on the drying conditions, it can take up to four weeks or longer for the persimmons to become hoshigaki.

The best part of this class was that Laurence sent us home with a full case of persimmons and a bamboo rod so there was no excuse to delay getting started on our own hoshigaki.  As soon as I got home, I peeled, strung, and hung my fruit.

Here's what they looked like the next morning when there was enough light to take a photo.

After about a week, they looked like this.

After about three weeks of drying and two weeks of massaging they looked this this.

It took just a little more time for the sugary bloom to appear on the surface, and they were done.

Making hoshigaki was great fun.  Eating one with a cup of green tea is even better.  The fresh Hachiya persimmon season is over now, but you can try this next year.  I know I'll be making hoshigaki again next fall.



Friday, December 14, 2012

Candied Grapefruit Peel

There's still time to make some delicious holiday gifts from your kitchen.  Candied grapefruit peel takes only about an hour plus drying time. 

One of the things I like best about candied citrus peel is using a part of the fruit that's often discarded.  Grapefruits are now in season, so you can cook up a batch or two or more of this tasty treat for yourself, your family, and your friends.  Don't worry about making too much.  You can chop up candied peel and put it in cookies and cakes.  A little bit adds spark to a green salad.  Try mixing some into hot cereal at breakfast.  And it freezes nicely wrapped tightly in a freezer bag, so you can bring it out in the summer when fresh, local grapefruits are just a memory.

2 grapefruits
1 C granulated sugar
1/2 C water
1 C superfine sugar (optional)

To prepare the fruit:  Cut the grapefruit lengthwise into quarters.  Keeping the peel intact, remove the fruit, leaving the pith on the peel.  Set aside the fruit for another use.  Cut the peel lengthwise into 1/4 inch strips.

Put the peel in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water.  Bring slowly to a boil over moderate heat.  Boil for 1 minute, then drain.  Repeat 3-4 times.

To candy the peel:
1.  In a medium saucepan, bring the 1 C granulated sugar and 1/2 C water to a boil.  Stir until sugar is completely dissolved.

2.  Add the prepared peel and gently boil, stirring, until most of the sugar syrup is absorbed.  This will take about 10 minutes.

3.  Remove the peel slices and place them on a wire rack set over a sheet of foil or a baking pan.  [The peel will drip sugar syrup.]  Separate the pieces so they don't stick together.  Allow the peel to dry until only slightlky sticky, about 4 to 8 hours.

4.  If desired, place 1 C superfine sugar in a plastic bag or container with a lid.  Toss a few slices at a time to coat with sugar.

If you don't have superfine sugar, you can make your own by putting regular granulated sugar in a food processor and processing for 20-30 seconds.

Today's bounty included:

From County Line Harvest South:  Collard greens,  chard, green bor kale, purple scallions, baby red beets, red bor kale;

From Jimenez Family Farm:  Winter squash, leeks, cabbage, carrots, romaine, lettuce, space spinach, cilantro, and russet potatoes;

From K and K Ranch:  Oro Blanco grapefruit, persimmons, and Pink Lady apples;

From Silver Lake Farms:  Sage and microgreens.



Monday, December 10, 2012

From Hawaii...

This week our recipe blogger, Shelley Marks, reports from Hawai'i.  (Lucky Shelley!)
Here's what she says:
I've been in Hawaii for about a week now and almost everything I've eaten has come from the islands.  It's so easy to eat locally in Hawaii.  There are farmers markets everywhere.  On Kauai, there's at least one market everyday, and that's on an island of only 60,000 people!
Here's my recent haul from the farmers market in Kapaa:  super sweet mini pineapples, two varieties of papaya, green leaf lettuce, arugula, apple bananas, cucumber, green onions, cilantro, and a bouquet of organic tropical flowers complete with ants from a 90-year old gardener's yard.  A few days ago, I picked up enough locally-grown avocados and tomatoes to last through the week.

When I'm on the islands, I like to start my day with a three-fruit salad consisting of papaya, pineapple, and banana.  The ripe fruit are super sweet and the local papayas give the salad an exotic perfume.

Later in the day, I make my island salad using a mix of locally-grown greens, sliced cucumber, green onions, cilantro, avocado, tomato, and papaya.  There's a locally-produced salad dressing sold throughout the islands made with papaya seeds, canola oil, vinegar, and spices.  It's a tasty complement to this salad.  For a more substantial meal, I'll top this salad with locally-caught ahi tuna coated with pepper and seared on the outside or sliced teriyaki chicken.
Locally-farmed shrimp are available throughout the islands; and shrimp trucks are everywhere serving a plate lunch with garlic or spicy cooked shrimp and two scoops of rice.  The shrimp trucks are great, but I like to make my own garlic butter shrimp from these local beauties.  These fresh shrimp cook up sweet and tender as they have never been frozen.
Time just slips away here in paradise.  I'll be back in LA soon, but in the meantime, I'm going to enjoy one last sunset over Hanalei Bay.