Friday, February 17, 2017

Simple Daal with Rutabaga Relish

The dreaded rutabaga. I have to confess that I do cringe every time my CSA email proudly announces that yet another rutabaga will be in this week's box. I tried so many different recipes, but I was left with the conclusion that without copious amounts of butter, they just aren't tasty. That brassica bitterness is ridiculously hard to shake and roasting doesn't do it.

Then comes the best Christmas present of 2016, Vivian Howard's Deep Run Roots! If you are a fan of a Chef's Life, you know that Vivian exalts the simple ingredients of her native eastern North Carolina and the traditional recipes that pre-date widespread availability of processed food. She has a whole episode dedicated to the rutabaga as well as an entire chapter in this incredibly entertaining and functional cookbook.

When I got that first rutabaga in my CSA in 2016, I knew its fate! I set out to make her rutabaga relish. I did not process mine, so it will keep for 6 months. She advises it's best after a week in the fridge. I tried mine after 12 days on top of this daal and it was delicious! Truly the first time I have ever genuinely enjoyed eating a rutabaga.

Simple Daal adapted from the nytimes recipe here
1 cup lentils (I used red)
1 large sweet potato, roughly cubed
1 16 oz can tomatoes
1 inch knob ginger, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons chili flakes (or more if you like more heat)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons coconut oil
3 cups water
Salt to taste (2 tablespoons worked for me!)

Heat the coconut oil in a pan and add the onions. After a minute or so, add the sweet potatoes and let them cook until they start to soften (5-7 minutes) then add the fresh ginger and garlic for 2 more minutes. Add remaining spices (including chili!) along with the lentils and stir to thoroughly coat the lentils with oil.
Add the tomatoes, the water, and salt before turning the heat up and covering the pan to bring the mixture to a boil.
Once it boils, turn the heat down and remove the cover and let simmer for 10-15 minutes depending on how soft you like your lentils.

Keep an eye on the liquid level, if it simmers too hot you may need to add more water especially if cooking on the longer side.

Rutabaga Relish
1 large rutabega
2 quarts water for overnight soak
1/2 cup of salt to soak rutabagas
1/4 cup of salt fo peppers and onion
2 cups water for peppers and onion
2 red bell peppers, sliced
1 yellow onion, sliced into thin strips
1+1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 cups apple cider vinegar
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
2 teaspooons chili flakes
1 tablespoon turmeric

This way of cutting the rutabegas is a pain, but it's worth it! Peel and halve the rutabaga through the stem end. Lay the flat surface half on a cutting board and slice into 1 inch wedges, then slick them into triangles. Add half a cup of salt to the two quarts of water and stir until dissolved. Add the now triangle shaped rutabaga slices and let them soak overnight.

Combine 1/4 salt  and 2 cups of water with peppers and onions and let soak for 1 hour while you prepare the brine. After the hour drain and combine with rutabagas in the jar they will be stored. Make sure this is a heatproof container if you're going to process. I used a mason jar and didn't preserve.

Combine white and brown sugars, vinegar, garlic, and all spices to a boil and let cook for 1 minute Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the vegetables until completely submerged. Store in the fridge for up to six months.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Radishes, radishes, radishes

Daikon radishes two weeks in a row is not something I'm every going to be fully prepared for, but I did find a few creative ways to use them that I didn't know last year. I threw them in this radishes two ways avocado toast I came up with and I've eaten it more times than I can count this month.

When the first bunch arrived, I went with a variation on this pickling recipe from the NYTimes in which I used pretty purple carrots that came in the same week's CSA to get the beautiful dark rich color you see on the radish carrot mixture on the top of the avocado toast above. They are a great addition to any asian style rice bowl that I like to bring for lunch or a little snack all by themselves.

Avocado Toast with Radishes Two Ways
serves 1
1 slice of good quality bread (I used homemade wild culture sourdough)
1/4 of an avocado
8-10 mandolin thin slices of daikon radish
Juice of half a lemon
Sprinkle of fleur de sal to taste
Sprinkle of table salt
8-10 Daikon and carrot pickles

Place slice of bread in the toaster. Thinly slice daikon radish with mandolin or knife and mix with juice of half a lemon. Add a sprinkle of table salt and let sit while preparing the rest of your dish. When the toast is done slice the avocado in half and use a butter or other dull knife to slice the thinnest wedges you can imagine and spread one at a time onto the bread into a even layer. Sprinkle the avocado with fleur de dal. Add the lemon daikon radishes and then the pickled carrots and daikon to the top. Enjoy!

Winter Squash Carbonera

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit's.

This is the warm and comforting treat that is great for any cold winter day. I was motivated to explore different ways to work with winter squash when my CSA gave me so many acorn, kobucha, and butternut squashes I needed something new. I think that it's best with kobucha, but try it with whatever you have. This is not vegetarian, but I love how little meat is used to get so much flavor. I have been toying with what I could use instead of bacon though, so, ifyou have ideas, let me know!

Winter Squash Carbonera
serves 4
1 medium to large acorn or kobucha or other winter squash, peeled and diced into 1 inch pieces or so
1 small onion diced
2 slices of bacon or pancetta if you can get it, chopped
2 cloves of garlic
Salt to taste
2 cups of vegetable broth
12 oz of spaghetti
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 cup starchy pasta water

Put on a pot of water to boil for pasta.
Cook the bacon in a large skillet until cooked through and to your desired crispness. For me this was about 8 minutes, but this wasn't particularly crispy. Leave all of the fat in the pan, but remove meat. Add onion to the bacon fat coated pan and saute until translucent before adding garlic for 1 minute and then the squash. Add a generous sprinkle of salt over the squash and add the broth before cooking uncovered stirring every so often so the squash doesn't brown, but cooks until soft and the liquid has been reduced by 2/3 (this took me about 15 minutes).
While the squash is cooking, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook to your preferred texture (don't forget to save the starchy water!).
Add the squash mixture (including remaining liquid) to a blender and puree until smooth. A powerful blender is a real help with this.
Return the pureed mixture to the pan and add cup of starchy pasta water with cup of frozen or fresh peas and slowly stir to incorporate additional liquid into the sauce. Feel free to add more pasta water (or even plain water) if the sauce is too thick.
Add spaghetti to sauce and serve right away. Enjoy!