Friday, January 25, 2013

Classic Spinach Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

The fresh spinach we've been getting lately has been beautiful; and it's good for you, too.  Spinach is loaded with vitamins and minerals and is delicious raw or cooked.

Today's recipe is a classic spinach salad with crumbled bacon and hard-cooked eggs.  No worries if you don't eat bacon, just use your favorite bacon substitute, or leave it out altogether.  Toasted walnut or pecans are tasty alternatives to bacon.  Sun-dried tomatoes would be another way to go.

But bacon is the traditional choice for this salad, so if you're going that route, get high quality, thick-cut bacon, cook it crisp, and crumble it or chop it coarsely.

This recipe is easily doubled.  For two servings use:

1 bunch fresh spinach
4 strips thick-cut bacon
2 eggs
2 T thinly sliced red onion
salt and pepper

For the raspberry vinaigrette:
2 T olive oil
2 T raspberry vinegar
1/4 t honey or agave syrup

1.  Triple wash the spinach, making sure you remove all the dirt.  Spin dry.  Remove and compost the stems.  Tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces in a large bowl.  Set aside.

2.  Fry the bacon in a skillet until crisp.  Drain.  Then crumble or chop coarsely.  Set aside.

3.  Hard-boil 2 eggs.  To hard-boil eggs, place them in a pan with cold water to cover.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Turn off the heat.  Cover the pan.  Wait 10 minutes.  Drain.  Cool in a cold water bath.  Then peel the eggs and chop or mash them with a fork.  Set aside.

4.  Make the vinaigrette:  In a small bowl, briskly stir or whisk together the olive oil and raspberry vinegar until combined.  Stir in the honey or agave syrup.

5.  Pour the vinaigrette over the washed and dried spinach.  Add the red onion.  Toss to distribute evenly.  Season the spinach with salt and pepper to taste.  Go easy on the salt, as bacon is salty.

6.  Add the crumbled bacon and eggs.  Toss again.  Serve.

You can cook the bacon and eggs ahead of time.

Fruit is a nice addition to this salad.  Dried cherries, pomegranate seeds, or chopped tart apple are delicious, as are fresh raspberries, in season.

Today's bounty included:

From County Line Harvest South:  Baby white Tokyo turnips, red beets, arugula, rainbow chard, and rainbow baby carrots;

From Jimenez Family Farm:  Russet potatoes, cabbage, winter squash, cilantro, broccoli, spinach, yellow onions;

From K and K Ranch:  Pink Lady apples and navel oranges.



Friday, January 18, 2013

Potato Pancakes

The versatile russet figures prominently (again) in my recipe for this week - potato pancakes. Potato pancakes are simply grated potatoes mixed with a few other ingredients and fried.

In my opinion, the perfect potato pancake has a crispy exterior with a thin and somewhat creamy interior.  To achieve this result, it's best to grate the potatoes on a fine grater as opposed to a coarse one and fry them in plenty of oil.  You can get loads of crispiness with coarsely grated potatoes, but it's much more difficult to get that creamy exterior when you grate the potatoes coarsely.  However, you might prefer your potato pancakes to be little golden nuggets of crunch.  In that case, grate your potatoes using the coarse grater.

Potato pancakes are like a blank slate.  They are delicious by themselves or with the traditional accompaniments of sour cream or applesauce.  They make a lovely side for most roasted or grilled meats.  They're a tasty alternative to hash browns at breakfast.  However, they're best right out of the skillet.

This is another recipe where it's easy to make as little or as much as you'd like.  You'll get 6-8 small pancakes or 3-4 large pancakes from each large russet potato.  Peel and grate your potatoes into a medium or large bowl.  For two large russet potato add:

2-3 T finely grated onion
1 lightly beaten egg
3-4 t all-purpose flour
1/4 t salt, or to taste
freshly grated pepper to taste

Mix all the above ingredients with the grated potatoes until thoroughly combined.

Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium to high heat.  Use enough oil to cover the bottom of the skillet with about 1/8-inch of oil.

When oil is hot, spoon small or large amounts of the potato pancake mixture into the hot oil.  Spread lightly with the back of the spoon.

Cook until crispy and golden on one side, about 1-3 minutes, then flip and cook until the other side is crispy and golden, another 1-3 minutes, depending on the size of the pancakes and the heat of your stove.

There are many delicious additions you might want to include in your potato pancakes.  Finely chopped green onions or spring onions, finely chopped parsley, or snipped dill are a few suggestions.  You can grate some carrots in the with potatoes for color, variety, and more nutrition.

Today's bounty included:

From County Line Harvest South:  Purple scallions, collar greens, arugula, baby scarlet turnips, baby daikon radishes, red bor kale;

From Jimenez Family Farm:  Carrots, winter squash, cabbage, russet potatoes, broccoli, beets, and spinach;

From K and K Ranch:  Navel oranges, Satsuma tangerines, and Pink Lady apples;

From Silver Lake Farms:  bunch oregano, sage and rosemary.



Friday, January 11, 2013

Twice-Baked Potatoes

-Can't get enough of those russets.  And it's been perfect potato weather.  This crazy cold calls for something hearty; and twice-baked potatoes definitely fits the bill.

One of the things I love most about twice-baked potatoes is all the different ways you can dress them up or down.  Plain baked potatoes are like a blank slate; and there are so many flavors that play well with them.

You can make as many or as few as you like.  Figure on one-half to a whole potato per person depending on what else you're serving.

Start by scrubbing the potatoes and baking them in their jackets at 350 degrees F until you can easily poke a tester through the potatoes - about 60-75 minutes.  Cool the potatoes enough to handle.  Then cut the potatoes in half lengthwise, scoop out the potato flesh, leaving the skin and a thin layer of potato intact to give the skin some structure.

Mash the scooped out potato with the following other ingredients:
1 t finely chopped green onion, per potato
2 T sour cream, per potato
2 T grated cheddar cheese, per potato
Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add more of the above ingredient to taste, if you wish.

Spoon the mashed mixture back into the hollowed out potato skins.  Sprinkle about 1 t additional grated cheddar cheese on top.  Place potatoes on a very lightly greased baking sheet and return to a hot oven - about 425-450 degrees F until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 5-10 minutes.

I find that the mashed mixture usually doesn't go quite as far as I'd like when re-filling the potatoes - probably because I like to mound it back into the potato halves.  So, if I'm making two or more twice-baked potatoes, I like to baked up an extra one (or more), just for the potato flesh.

Omnivores might consider adding cooked and crumbled bacon, sausage, or even ground beef.  Finely chopped and sauteed mushrooms are another tasty way to go.  Feel free to change up the cheese - Gruyere is a delicious alternative.

Consider stirring in a little chipotle or finely chopped and sauteed garlic.  Chopped parsley is nice both inside or as a garnish.  And speaking of garnishes:  Salsa or sour cream are nice, so are chimichurri or pesto of any variety.

Today's bounty included the following:
From County Line Harvest South:  Baby rainbow carrots, arugula, cilantro, rainbow chard, red beets, and collards;

From Jimenez Family Farm:  Russet potatoes, winter squash, broccoli, leeks, spinach, onions, and cabbage;

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



Friday, January 4, 2013

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

I just love the russet potatoes we've been getting in our box lately.  Russets are among the most versatile potatoes.  They're great bakers; and they mash up really well.  They make a nice old-fashioned potato salad; and of course, they're the go to choice for french fries because of their high starch content.

This recipe for Rosemary Roasted Potatoes is one of my all-time favorites.  It's a terrific side for any roasted meat or fish.  It's super easy to make.  And you can roast the potatoes in the oven, like I did today, or in a grill pan on the barbecue.  I think of them as a baked version of french fries, but of course, they're really their own thing.

These roasted potatoes are best served right out of the oven or shortly thereafter.  However, they can be roasted at a range of temperatures from about 350 to about 425 degrees F, which means you can roast them while you're roasting something else, just adjust the cooking time.  And you can make a little or a lot, depending on how many people you're serving and how much space you have in your oven.  Just don't crowd the potatoes on the baking sheet.

I usually figure on about one-half to one whole large russet per person and 1 to 1-1/2 t olive oil per potato plus a generous pinch of salt each, but you can adjust the salt to your taste.  Freshly ground pepper is optional.

Scrub the potatoes and dry them.  Slice each unpeeled potato in half lengthwise, then slice each half lengthwise into 4-6 wedges.  Put the wedges in a large bowl and toss with the olive oil, salt and pepper.

Fresh rosemary is best, but you can certainly use dried if that's what you have.  I'll bet if you look around, you'll find some rosemary growing nearby.  It grows like a weed around here and you might be able to forage some.  I just snip a bunch of fresh rosemary without measuring; it's probably about 1 t per potato.

When the potatoes are well coated with the oil, and the salt and rosemary are evenly distributed, turn them out onto a baking sheet and roast in the oven until they're done.  Stir them once or twice with a spatula so they brown evenly and don't stick to the baking sheet.  Baking sheets can vary, so if food tends to stick to yours, you can oil the baking sheet before placing the potatoes on it.

At 375 degrees F they usually take about an hour to get nicely browned.  Brown them to your taste.  Just keep an eye on them so they don't burn.  Once you make them, Rosemary Roasted Potatoes may become one of your favorites, too.

And if rosemary isn't you're favorite herb, consider using smoked paprika as a delicious alternative.

Today's bounty included:

From County Line Harvest South:  Arugula, beets, rainbow chard, and purple kale;

From Jimenez Family Farm:  Broccoli, russet potatoes, cabbage, spinach, cilantro, carrots, leeks, and winter squash;

And from K and K Ranch:  Tangerines and Pink Lady apples.