Sunday, June 21, 2009

CSA Recipes - Week 3

Lavender Shortbread Cookies (a favorite of mine and a beautiful way to incorporate this flower into your culinary world) - makes 3 dozen.

1 C. (2 sticks) butter, softened (I usually use salted, but use unsalted if you wish)
1/4 C. granulated sugar (I grind up raw cane sugar for this)
5 Tbs. confectionary/powdered sugar
2 C. unbleached, all-purpose flour
1  tsp. fine sea salt
2 Tbs. fresh lavender flower petals (purple part only), chopped
1 egg mixed w/ 1 Tbs. cold water for egg wash
1/4 C. granulated sugar or coarse, raw cane sugar (for rolling dough in)

1. In large bowl, beat butter until pale yellow and fluffy.  Gradually add the sugars and beat well. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, lavender, and salt. Add to the butter mixture and beat until thoroughly combined. Roll dough into 2 logs about 1 1/2" in diameter x 12" in length. You may wish to freeze one log for later at this point....simply wrap in parchment paper or plastic wrap, seal well and place in freezer for up 3 weeks.  Wrap logs in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour. 
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap chilled dough and brush with eggwash mixture. Roll logs in 1/4 C. sugar. Slice dough into 1/4" thick pieces and place 1" apart on baking sheets.  Bake until lightly golden around the edges, about 10-12 minutes. Cool completely. Enjoy!

Indian-Spiced Lentils w/ Kale - from Cook's Illustrated
(serves 4 as a side dish)

Use common brown, green, or whole red lentils in this dish.

1 lb. kale, stemmed and chopped
2 Tbs. unsalted butter or ghee
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground cumin 
1/2 tsp ground mustard 
1/4-1/2 tsp. hot red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves (or 1-2 Tbs. minced garlic scapes), minced
2 tsp. minced fresh gingerroot

1. Bring lentils, 6 C. water, and salt to boil in med. saucepan; boil for 5 min. Reduce heat; simmer until lentils are tender but still hold their shape; 20-25 min., adding kale during last 5 minutes of cooking. Drain, reserving 1 C. cooking liquid.
2. Meanwhile, heat butter in large skillet over med. heat. Add coriander, cumin, mustard, and pepper flakes; saute to develop flavors, about 1 min. Add garlic and ginger; saute until softened and fragrant, about 2 min. Add lentils and kale and reserved cooking liquid. Simmer to marry flavors, about 5 min. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve.

Linguine w/ Braised Fennel and Kale Sauce (I usually omit the fennel because I don't grow it, and add chopped basil and roasted hazelnuts before serving to add a sweet nuttiness to this dish.) - serves 4

1/4 C. extra-virgin olive oil
1 med. onion, minced
1 med. fennel bulb (about 1 lb.), fronds removed, minced, and reserved (about 1 Tbs.); stems discarded; and bulb trimmed, halved, cored, and sliced thin
3/4 lb. kale, stemmed, washed, and chopped coarse
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 lb. linguine or spaghetti
1/4 C. grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, plus more for table
salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring water to boil in a large pot for cooking pasta (at least 4 qts.)
2. Heat oil in large skillet or saute pan with cover on. Add onion; saute over med. heat until softened, about 5 min. Stir in fennel and cook until golden, about 10 min.
3. Add 1/2 C. water and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in kale and cover. Simmer over med.-low heat until fennel is tender and kale is fully cooked, about  10 min. Stir in vinegar and simmer to blend flavors, about 1 min. Adjust seasonings and keep sauce warm.
4. Meanwhile, add 1 Tbs. salt and pasta to boiling water. Cook until al dente. Reserve 1/4 C. pasta cooking water. Drain pasta and toss with sauce and cheese, adding reserved cooking water as needed to moisten sauce. Serve immediately, garnishing with fennel fronds and more cheese, if desired.

A final word on recipes.  I believe they are akin to the lines in a coloring book....they should serve as guides to creating the broader picture, but as culinary 'artists', we should feel the liberty to imagine what lies beyond the lines and add details as we see fit.  Have fun with these recipes! Add and subtract from them according to your personal tastes, but perhaps more importantly and practically, what you have in your refrigerator and cuboards.

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