Friday, July 24, 2009

This Week in Dinners

I haven't been very good at sharing this week. Blame it on being an only child. But I certainly have eaten well this week, so let me share this week in dinners.

But first, I want to talk about lunch. For the past couple weeks, since I found some juicy ripe tomatoes at the farmer's market, I've been eating tomato sandwiches just about every day. Fresh whole grain bread, slathered with mayo and spread with slices of cheese (I've been using aged gouda) and thick rounds of red tomatoes. Its simple, its fresh, its heaven!

OK, back to dinners!

Monday night I picked up my CSA from Lucy and Jon, who were kind enough to collect it for us while we were in Vermont. I came home and whipped together a quick dinner that used up some of my beet greens. I'm way behind on my beets! I can't eat them fast enough!

I started by simmering a can of organic blacks bean in a pan with EVOO and minced garlic, then stirred in the chopped beet greens, some cumin, and the juice of 1 lime.

I then piled the mixture onto corn tortillas, sprinkled on some cheddar cheese, topped with another tortillas and grilled in a pan with a little EVOO.

Beet green and black bean quesadillas!

I took the night off from cooking and got sushi with Liz and Remi.

My favorite way to prepare green beans - a French bean salad, inspired by Jamie Oliver. The recipe usually calls for petite, slender haricots vert - but my CSA beans are whoppers right now!

French Bean Salad

This recipe is very simple and delicious. Just blanch a bunch of green beans in boiling water for 2 - 3 minutes. You want them al dente. Drain the beans and then return to the pot.

Meanwhile, whisk together 1 tsp dijon mustard, the juice of half a lemon (or 1 Tbl good white wine vinegar), and 1 small minced shallot. Slowly add 2 - 3 Tbls EVOO, whisking constantly to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the dressing over the beans, put the lid on the pot, and toss until beans are well coated.

Can be served warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

I served the beans with grilled striper topped with mango salsa, and grilled corn (picked that day!) slathered with our sea-salted Vermont butter.

We have been putting this butter on everything we can find!

It requires all my willpower not to eat straight spoonfuls of it. Especially since my mother got me this cool little butter keeper, which allows you to keep butter out of the fridge and still keep it fresh. That way you always have soft, spreadable butter ready to slather on everything in sight.
Its a bit dangerous.


More butter! I made a batch pie crust dough using Cook's Illustrated vodka pie crust recipe. This is the first time I've tried it - I'm usually a purist and make my crust with a basic flour/butter/water combo. But my mother has been making this crust for a couple years and swears by it. The theory behind the recipe is that when water and flour combine, they form gluten, which makes the crust tough. But the ethanol in the vodka prevents gluten from forming, and the alcohol cooks off during baking. I think I'm a convert! The crust was flaky and tender and so easy to make - unlike most Cook's recipes, which I usually find to involve way too many fussy steps.

I used half the dough to make a swiss chard tart, inspired by Smitten Kitchen and the tart that Lizzy made last week.

I added some sliced fennel to the tart - look at the beautiful specimen I got this week!

I sliced the bulb and sauteed it with EVOO and minced garlic until soft and tender, then added a big bunch of chopped swiss chard and sauteed a few minutes more. Then I scooped the mixture into the par-baked pie crust ( and had a minor disaster involving hot pie weights covering the kitchen floor). I topped this with 4 eggs beaten with about a cup of milk and a handful of chopped fennel fronds.

Then baked the tart at 350ยบ for about 40 minutes, until set and golden, topping with grated parmesan after about 30 minutes.

Served with a beet salad - its a good thing we love beets!

The other half of the pie dough will make a special appearance this weekend - stay tuned!

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