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I keep cooking those veggies

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Week 3 of the CSA included 3 heads of lettuce. I'm really glad that I'm splitting my basket with a friend, as I'm not quite finished with lettuce at the end of week 4!

I added raspberries to the first salad. Later on, I roasted beets and added beets. I always include radishes, and include cucumber when possible. This winter I learned about salad in a jar - a way to pack salad in a jar, so I can take it to work. Basically, dressing and wet ingredients go on the bottom, firm veggies go in next, and topped with lettuce. The firm veggies form a barrier to keep the lettuce dry.

This omelette includes parsley and eggs from the farm basket.

More salad. I roasted potatoes, beets, and kohlrabi at the same time. I mixed parsley with the bread crumbs that coat the chicken.

When I'm not sure what to do with veggies, stir fry is the easy route. This stir fry includes Swiss chard and zucchini. Also, garlic greens.

I baked salmon with basil and lemon juice. First time I tried this combination, which is really tasty. I didn't have many peas, so I mixed them with rice.

Everything in this frittata came from the farm: eggs, potatoes, Swiss chard, garlic. I had to see a recipe to think of using Swiss chard in a frittata. Now, I realize that I can probably substitute chard for spinach in many recipes.

Shrimp with garlic and basil. This is a great combination. The recipe called for shrimp with their tails on, but I cooked the shrimps without their tails. The only time I like shrimp tails is when I'm dipping cold shrimp in sauce. The worst is when I get soup and the shrimp still have their tails. What's the benefit of leaving the tail on?

The next day, I used the left-over garlic basil shrimp I'm shrimp fried rice. I added onion and peas. Also, a carrot. But there's so little carrot compared to the rest of the food. I should have either added more carrot or left it out.

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Filling up with fresh fruits and veggies

cute food

For week 2 of the CSA program, I didn't manage to cook everything in the basket. Next week, I'll have to either catch up or start freezing. Fortunately, my freezer is nearly empty.

This dish might look like ordinary pasta with meat sauce. However, I cooked most of the kale into the sauce. This was a good addition, but I should have considered adding more veggies to the sauce.

We ate quite a few strawberries before I baked anything. I ended up with not enough fruit and added banana to make this strawberry rhubarb banana cobbler.

Cobbler is one of my favourite desserts.

I used half the vegetable marrow, all the garlic scapes, and most of the basil in a Thai-inspired scallop dish. I didn't buy enough scallops. I realize now that I could have used all the basil and also added the garlic. But it smelled so pungent when I was chopping everything. The white liquid is coconut milk. This dish is pleasant, but too mild.

I used more kale, along with the carrots and peas in a chicken vegetable soup.

Not pictured, I sliced radishes for sandwiches. I also shredded more kale to include in a sandwich pita pocket.

I only used half the vegetable marrow, and didn't completely finish either the kale or basil. I barely touched the parsley, and didn't use any garlic. This week's basket included eggs. Although I cooked with eggs, I was finishing the store-bought eggs.

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Enjoying CSA basket week 1

cute food

It's summer, which means that Front Step Farms CSA program has started up again. The start of the season is manageable - even more so this year, as I am sharing the basket with a friend. I have now cooked everything in the basket, except for a few radishes, a small portion of dill, and 3 rhubarb stalks.

I loved my first meal: lemon dill salmon, steamed asparagus, and rice. I steamed all the asparagus at once, because I had plans for cold asparagus. Really fresh asparagus is best served simply.

But my meal was not yet complete.


Strawberry rhubarb crisp was luscious with sweet berries tempered by tart rhubarb. Unfortunately, the only part crisp was the oat topping. I had modified a recipe for apple crisp, but berries are too loose and smooshy. I ended up serving this dessert in small bowls.

You cannot see the garlic that roasted inside the lemon garlic chicken, but it flavoured the meat. Early garlic doesn't divide easily in cloves. Cutting it and stuffing in a chicken is simple. I sliced the green stems and sautéed them, along with kale, chard, and vegetable marrow (like a fat zucchini) as the basis of pasta primavera.

Finally, I mixed the dandelion leaves, radish leaves, radish, strawberries, and asparagus in a salad. I've been reading about salad in a jar as a method of taking salad to work. I hope it works out, because last year I had lots of lettuce.

If you have a favourite non-dessert use for rhubarb, let me know.

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Quick tomato sauce

cute food

Similar to the recipes in the 3-in-1 cookbook, the Flavor without Fodmaps cookbook uses prepared food as shortcuts. However, so far these recipes are turning out better. The meatloaf included a jar of roasted peppers. They added great flavour to the dish.

The tomato sauce was pretty good, but could have been better. Diced canned tomatoes are flavourful - even more so than the tomatoes available in the produce section at this time of year. However, fresh oregano and basil would added subtle flavours and tasted better.

How does this recipe differ from other tomato sauce recipes (besides the shortcuts)? Green onions replace onions. I would not think to add them, but they work. The recipe contains neither tomato paste nor garlic. Garlic-infused olive oil can provide the garlic flavour, if you have it on hand.

When I tasted the sauce plain from the pot, the dry herbs overpowered the other flavours. Mixed with meat, it became a reasonable pasta sauce.

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Off to a good start

cute food

I tried the meatloaf recipe from the Flavor Without FODMAPs cookbook.


Meatloaf takes a while to cook. However, as this recipe serves 8, I have plenty of left-overs.

This meatloaf turned out moist and tender. The flavour is different, with roast red peppers throughout. That red coating on top is a pepper purée.

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Cooking for food sensitivities

cute food

The 3-in-1 cookbook didn't work out for me, but I've had good luck with some other food sensitivity cookbooks, such as Gluten-Free Quick and Easy, which gave me the cobbler recipe that I used many times last summer.

Next up, I'm trying the Flavor without FODMAPs cookbook. I don't remember the meaning of the acronym, but they consist of a few groupings of food. I've known for a long time that I'm lactose intolerant, but last year I realized that I do better reducing intake of some of the other FODMAPs.

My first impression is that this cookbook has a lot of appealing recipes. I picked 10 to try for judging this cookbook. But if I like these 10, I'll probably try many others. With the start of the CSA program approaching, I'm looking forward to trying some of these recipes with farm-fresh veggies.

The recipes that I will try are:
* Thai spring rolls
* Spaghetti sauce
* Lemon sole
* Meatloaf
* Warm chicken & rice salad
* Lemony carrot & pea salad
* Coconut basmati rice
* Roasted carrots
* Fish chowder
* Banana "ice cream"

I can hardly wait!</a>

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Giving up on the allergy-free cookbook

cute food

Were you wondering why I haven't posted more about the 3-in-1 cookbook? It's not just because I'm busy with other things. The last recipe I tried was for salmon cakes.

The dish looks pretty and seemed like a good idea. However, it tasted disappointing.

Overall, the recipes in this book rely too much on prepared foods. This is surprising in a book for people dealing with food sensitivities and allergies. Most dishes didn't turn out that great. Oh, well.

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cute food


A while ago, I complained that the Beef Stew Stroganoff recipe in the 3-in1 cookbook turned out to be soup and not stew. For my Science of Haute Cuisine final project, I experimented with the recipe and ended up with a good stew recipe.


For my first attempt, I:
* Seared the meat by making sure that the oil was over 120c. The outside of the meat must reach 120c for the Maillard reaction, which causes browning, to occur.
* Increased the viscosity by changing the quantity of ingredients

This time, I:
* Seared the meat better by heating the oil to a higher temperature. I also increased the temperature of the meat, so that it wouldn't lower the temperature of the oil.
* Further increased the viscosity (and the creaminess) by adding a corn starch and almond milk paste at the end.

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
1.5 pounds lean boneless beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
14 oz beef broth
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
18 ounces baby red potatoes, quartered
1 tablespoon corn starch
3 tablespoons almond milk

Procedure
At least 8 hours before cooking the stew, put the beef cubes into a large sealable bag or container, along with the salt. Shake well to coat evenly.

Two hours before cooking the stew, remove the beef from the refrigerator. You must bring the beef up to room temperature, so that the oil does not get cold. Just before cooking, blot the beef with a paper towel.

Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat to 188c. Add beef. Cook, stirring, until outer layer of meat is seared.

Add pepper and thyme. Pour in broth, stirring to get up all the browned bits. Bring to a boil.

Add mushrooms, peppers, and carrots. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Add potatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce to low. Cover and simmer until potatoes are cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Mix corn starch with almond milk. Turn up heat on the stew. Add a ladle of hot stew liquid to the corn starch paste and mix well. Make a well in the middle of the stew. Add the paste mixture to the stew liquid and mix for 30 seconds. Mix the thickened sauce with the stew. Remove from heat and serve.

Results
The meat took a couple of minutes to sear and after 5 minutes was well-seared. I even used stewing beef this time, and the melting fat did not cool the oil much. The almond milk corn starch paste added the creaminess that was missing and also thickened the stew. The original recipe called for sour cream, but we cannot use dairy.

This stew is very mild, and I'm thinking the some onion would turn this into a great stew.

Improving a beef stew recipe

cute food

Previously, I complained that the Beef Stew Stroganoff recipe in the 3-in1 cookbook turned out to be soup and not stew. For my Science of Haute Cuisine final project, I am experimenting with the recipe in hope of coming up with a great stew recipe.

For my first attempt, I:
* Seared the meat by making sure that the oil was over 120c. The outside of the meat must reach 120c for the Maillard reaction, which causes browning, to occur.
* Increased the viscosity by changing the quantity of ingredients

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
1.5 pounds lean boneless beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
14 oz beef broth
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
18 ounces baby red potatoes, quartered

Procedure
Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat to 120c. Add beef. Cook, stirring, until outer layer of meat is seared.

Add salt, pepper, and thyme. Pour in broth, stirring to get up all the browned bits. Bring to a boil.

Add mushrooms, peppers, and carrots. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Add potatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce to low. Cover and simmer until potatoes are cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Measurements
Temperature of oil before adding meat: 200c
Temperature of oil after adding meat: 125c
Temperature after 5 minutes: 93c
Time to sear the meat: no change after 2 minutes. Partially seared
Final temperature of oil and fat: 93c
Time required for 100 mL stew liquid to pass through hole: 83 seconds

Next steps
Determine proper method to maintain heat, so beef can sear. Consider searing on high heat.
Continue to increase viscosity. This dish is no longer soup, but the sauce should be thickened more at the end.

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Chicken squash stew

cute food

Often, when I don't cook from a recipe, I make some sort of stir-fry. Stir-fries are easy and versatile, but sometimes I want something different. The other day, I cooked chicken squash stew.


Ingredients
1 full boneless skinless chicken breast
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced ginger
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 red onion, diced
2 carrots, sliced
3 red potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups roast squash purée (I used sweet mama squash, but pumpkin would also work)
vegetable stock

procedure
Cut the chicken breast into bite-sized pieces. Put the chicken breast in a bowl and mix with soy sauce and ginger. Marinate while chopping and slicing the remaining ingredients.

Coat the bottom of a large pot with olive oil. Sautée the onion until translucent. Add the carrots and cook about 5 minutes.

Push the vegetables to the edges and add the chicken. Cook until no raw meat is exposed. Add the potatoes and squash. Mix well.

Add vegetable stock until just covering the top the other contents. Reduce temperature so that stew is simmering, and cover. Cook for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Potatoes should be cooked through.

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