Thursday, July 28, 2011


I have some bad news, my fava beans didn’t make it. I think Joe and I had a grand total of two beans each. The heat, ants, aphids and vinegar all added up to be more than my little plants could bear. So perhaps next year I will try again. This of course dampens my dreams of eating bowls full of favas this summer and sharing with you all the recipes I try out with them. Instead, I have beets.
Yes, I have written about beets before, and I think I may have told you about them last year. Well, since I only have two little garden boxes, a packet of seeds can be split between multiple years. This year’s harvest will look and awful lot like last years. I tried planting things in different combinations and as a result have a slightly different yield. Last year my obsession with Tuscan kale overshadowed my fondness for Chioggia beets, literally. I mean those beets didn’t grow very big because they were hidden under the 2’ tall kale.
This year, the beets have done very well. Joe and I have enjoyed a few dinners featuring their greens, and just now have I begun to pluck the well-formed globes from my little bed of dirt. I will admit that I get inordinately giddy when I slice into these beets, as you may be able to infer from the multiple pictures shown here. But they’re just so pretty. And they taste good to boot. They are a bit more mild – more user friendly if you will, than standard red beets. 
I came upon a recipe in Bon Appetít for a beet and carrot slaw that looked stunning (no surprise there huh). As usual, though, I did not have all the ingredients listed. Although the idea of a coleslaw without cabbage and mayonnaise sounded very good on what may have been the hottest day of the summer. I cut the beets into thin rounds by hand, and then into matchsticks, as my mandolin is a death trap. I tend to take off the top part of fingers when I use it. I think they sell the one I use in the masochism isle at the kitchen supply store. It is terrifyingly sharp, and each time I use it, I think to myself ‘Wow, I should really be care…’ and that’s when the tip of my finger comes off.

On a positive note, the blade is so sharp, that it really doesn’t hurt that much. It bleeds a lot, but when a cold winter night is calling for potatoes au gratin, you wrap a paper towel or three around that puppy and keep slicing. Fortunately, (for my hands) the mandolin broke, so it really would be a death trap. I now leave it in the drawer out of harm’s way. All this means that I am not recommending you use a mandolin for the cutting here, unless you A) have one with a handle/guide thing or B) you don’t want to spend 20 minutes chopping vegetables. Really, it’s up to you.

Beet, Turnip, and Kohlrabi Slaw
as adapted from Bon Appetít June 2011
Kohlrabi looks cool, and that’s why we got it and decided to put it in the slaw. All three of these main ingredients are earthy in flavor, so feel free to omit one of them if you’d like. Or you can add carrots, like the original recipe calls for.

2 medium Chioggia beets, sliced into matchsticks
½ kohlrabi, sliced into matchsticks
2 medium salad turnips, sliced into matchsticks
½ cup plain greek style yogurt (I like the Fage, because it has less moisture)
Juice of ½ a lemon
1 Tb. fresh tarragon
Salt and pepper to taste

Place all the sliced vegetables into a bowl. In a small bowl combine yogurt, lemon juice, tarragon, salt and pepper, stir well. Pour half the dressing over the vegetables and gently toss to coat. Add more dressing as necessary. Chill until ready to serve.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fill Up A Cup

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it is HOT outside. The kind of hot where the breeze is warm and sticky and your plants wilt every evening, mimicking the sort of feeling you have. I broke a sweat last night trying to stir fry vegetables. That only takes a short amount of time at the stove, but even still it managed to produce a lingering heat that was stagnant in the kitchen for the entire night.

Heat on weeknights always seems oppressive and tiring, whereas heat on weekends makes it feel like the summer of childhood. You can get sweaty, go swimming, play a game and just relax. This is what I plan on trying to do this summer. Play like a child. Forget ‘chores’ and ‘responsibilities’ let’s go to the pool!
Maybe it’s the week or so spent in Hawaii that I am unwilling to get rid of, but I refuse to be a grown-up on weekends (and only when absolutely necessary on weekdays). Although, one perk to being a grown-up is the ability to eat whatever you want (double chocolate ice cream at 3pm, hello) and this can include drinks as well.

In fact a nice cool drink is a great way to cool down on sunny Saturday afternoons. Mint juleps or aqua frescas have been standbys for decades and I would like to add one more to that list. The No. 1 Pimm’s Cup. I know, I know, I am a bit behind the times on this one. Wimbledon and the Henley are over but it took me this long to procure Pimm’s here in Maine.
For those of you who are not initiated into the world of Pimm’s please allow me to be your guide. When Joe rowed at the Henley a few years back, he came back with a bottle of Pimm’s, knowing I would fall immediately in love with it. Since then, whenever I see it in a store I snap it up with all the fixins and settle in for a slow afternoon filled with ice cubes and carbonation. So on your next lazy, hot, weekend afternoon, make yourself a Pimm’s Cup and settle in for some cooling relaxation. Just make sure the condensation doesn’t interfere with your Scrabble tiles.

No. 1 Pimm’s Cup
There are several variations to this drink, but I like this one the best. I used an all-natural lemon lime soda, but ginger ale, conventional lemon lime sodas or even a lemon lime seltzer would work just as nicely.

1 part Pimm’s Cup (original)
3 parts soda
2 whole strawberries (sliced, or whole and frozen)
1 large sprig of mint
3 cucumber slices

Fill a tall glass with ice. Tear 4-5 mint leaves over the ice and add to glass. Add strawberries and cucumbers. Add one part Pimm’s and soda. Stir lightly to combine. Top with a few mint leaves. Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Maui Musings

Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about you. In fact I even had grand plans to post from Maui.  But let’s be honest, when you’re in Maui the idea of sitting in front of a computer for a couple of hours is not very appealing.  There were sunrises and sunsets to watch, sea turtles to swim with and lots and lots of mai tais to consume.  A girl can stay pretty busy on vacation.

This is not to say that we did not cook anything while away.  In fact after our friends’ (fabulous) wedding we prepared most of our meals in the rental home.  And aside from preparing far too much food for the eight people staying in the home, it was quite nice and relaxing to make, or help make dinner each night. 

But there was one recipe in particular that I had been thinking about before going off to Hawaii.  This actually happens to me quite a bit.  I think of a recipe and I play around with it in my head, and it won’t leave my thoughts until I make it.  This is what I day dream about on down time – food.  So I had this idea to make a Hawaiian style French toast.  I am going to share it with you here, although it is not quite perfected yet, so if you have any suggestions or modifications you think I should make, please let me know. 

The nice thing about this French toast is that it is very simple to make, and smells wonderful in the morning.  We had a little sugar ant problem and on the morning I made this French toast, they were running around the door of the oven furiously.  I think if they could have gone in after the pans they would have.  And if ants know anything, it is where to find the most sweet and delicious foods in a kitchen. 

Also, I would like to apologize for not having pictures of the French toast, but alas, the light wasn’t quite as good (and I was slightly embarrassed to be lining up beauty shots of breakfast). 

Maui Toast
A friend suggested adding shredded or desiccated coconut to this.  Personally I am not a huge fan of shredded coconut, but if you are, please try it.  I also thought that adding a small amount of cream of coconut to milk and eggs might enhance the coconut flavor.  Oh and you will need to prepare this the night before and let it sit in the fridge, so plan accordingly.

1 loaf King’s Hawaiian Bread (or other soft sweet bread)
1 can coconut milk
2 eggs
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts
Butter for greasing pan(s)

Slice the bread into long slices and allow to dry out for about 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile grease a 9x13” pan with butter, using more pans if necessary.  In a large bowl, whisk coconut, eggs, cinnamon and vanilla until combined. 

Place sliced bread into the pan(s) and pour the egg mixture evenly over all the slices.  Press the slices down to make sure every part has come into contact with the egg mixture.  Cover pan(s) and refrigerate overnight. 

In the morning, take the pan(s) out of the fridge and let warm up, while you preheat the oven to 350°.  Sprinkle the chopped macadamia nuts over the top of the slices and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the bread is golden and the smell is waking people up.  Serve with maple or coconut syrup.