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Corn Muffins 5 Ways (from Backyard Corn)

23 Jun

(from last winter) What do you do when you grow five different varieties of colorful heirloom corn in the back yard?

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Grind them into cornmeal and make individual corn muffins, of course:

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Some day I’ll type up some notes on the corn growing itself– it was very fulfilling and an interesting challenge (especially the hand-pollinating due to the small area under cultivation and desire to keep separate varieties from cross-pollinating).

We couldn’t really taste a difference between muffins made with different corn (as expected, I suppose), though in a blind taste test H and I did both pick out the muffin made with Oaxacan Green corn as our favorite and a bit “nuttier” than the others… and we tasted a big difference between our freshly-ground dried corn (any variety) and cornmeal-from-a-box.

Garden Frittata

10 Jun

Frittatas are my current go-to for an easy, satisfying dinner incorporating a lot of greens and whatever else is in the garden (it also makes great next-day leftovers, cold):

This particular evening I caramelized onions and fresh garlic (low heat, 15+ minutes?), sauteed morels in butter, and wilted chard and kale (cutting out the stems first and cooking them for a bit longer so they would soften). If I’m not in a hurry (e.g. already very hungry) I usually cook the components separately even though it dirties another pan or takes some extra time–  everything takes a different amount of time to cook well.

I pre-heated the oven to 375, and layered the (aliums, morels, greens) in the same cast iron skillet I used for the onions.

I whisked 8 eggs with salt and pepper and a little milk for several minutes / until very frothy and poured them into the skillet, then cooked this stovetop for 5 minutes or so to help brown and set the bottom (it’s not clear this is even needed– it’s just a force of habit).

Finally, I laid some big chunks of a soft cheese like goat chevre across the top and popped the whole thing in the oven for another 15-20 minutes, until the eggs puffed up and set.

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Artichokes (Grown, Blanched, Grilled)

4 Apr

Last spring I started some Colorado Star purple artichokes from seed and transplanted them into a strip of soil along a driveway. They started slow and didn’t produce any fruit last year, but here I am a year later:

While I’ve simply-boiled some later harvests (three rounds so far this spring) I cooked a first harvest of baby-size artichokes with an “oil and water” hybrid blanching method inspired by This Is Camino— simmering them in batches in a single-layer half-covered in water (with garlic, bay leaves, herbs, and olive oil) until mostly done, then finishing them on the grill while straining the liquid and reducing it to a sauce that reinforced the artichoke flavor:

Carrot Top / Pistachio Pesto

26 Feb

I thinned some carrot seedlings out of the backyard garden to give other carrots room to grow… and remembered I’d heard of carrot top pesto. Indeed, the leaves plus green garlic tops from the garden, olive oil, pistachios, salt, and a little bit of parmesan cheese made a nice nutty pesto.

We ate it tossed with pasta, some 2-minute-blanched peas (some from the garden, some from the store), and spigarello sauteed with the baby carrots and garlic from last summer’s harvest.

Stir Fry w/ Rattail Radish + Snow Peas

12 Feb

A simple stir-fry– cooking a series of ingredients individually in a hot pan with peanut oil (some very briefly– just a minute or two), in this case:

  • onions + sliced garlic + minced ginger
  • rattail radish pods from the garden (incredibly prolific plants crank out the long slender pods– no much flavor but a nice juicy/crunchy component when harvested before the individual seeds start to bulge in the pods)
  • snow peas also from the yard (planted in the late fall, harvesting in February)
  • a bell pepper
  • pre-made mapo tofu (includes miso and chili flake)

I just mix them at the end with a little soy sauce and serve over rice (I sometimes add black vinegar, miso, and/or chili flake, but not this time as the tofu was already seasoned).

They teed up good fried rice the next day, too (with some scrambled egg and kimchi).

Caramelized Garlic, Kale, and Cheese Tart

28 Jan

The caramelized garlic tart in Ottolenghi’s Plenty is very good. I recently made a greener tart inspired by it that combined:

  • A basic butter pie crust, pre-baked until golden
  • Three heads of heirloom garlic cloves, caramelized with a little red wine vinegar (following the general process in the recipe above)
  • Gruyere and goat chevre
  • A whole bowlful of kale from the winter garden, chiffonaded and wilted / cooked down for a few minutes in a skillet
  • 4 eggs and a little milk and yogurt to fill the tart

It worked well for breakfast the next morning, too…

Nanakusa No Sekku (Festival of Seven Herbs)

13 Jan

I traveled with friends to Japan over the holidays and had a range of interesting meals, from many-small-dishes breakfasts to a few kaiseki-style set menus working through a formal progression of dishes, to excellent ramen in a museum, to dinners we cooked in a rental house in the mountains from the wide variety of product available in one of the markets.

We came home inspired to learn and try to periodically cook in this style, and with some special rice from the rural Noto peninsula where we’d taken a side trip.

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H read somewhere about Nanakusa No Sekku (the Festival of Seven Herbs), a meal traditionally prepared and eaten on January 7th involving seven herbs and rice porridge, and last weekend we took that as inspiration to do our own hybrid Bay Area version of that on the 7th.

We spent the afternoon before foraging for some of the meal’s traditional herbs in a park in the East Bay hills, finding chickweed and what we think was shepherd’s purse or at least a dandelion variant (top middle), as well as sorrel and miner’s lettuce (not pictured), but held off on foraging any water dropwort as there are many highly poisonous variants. And from our back yard / garden we collected young greens from daikon, mustard, shiso, and mizuna (all grown last summer from seeds or seedlings from Kitazawa Seed or Namu Farm):

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We cooked most of these (except the shiso, saved for a garnish) briefly and combined them with rice porridge (rinsed rice + water in a 1:8 ratio, brought to a boil and then turned down to a low simmer and steamed, covered, for about 45 minutes), grilled salmon (marinated in yuzu kosho (a fermented mix of chili peppers, yuzu peel, and salt– not homemade, yet) and then grilled on high heat skin-down for about 8 minutes, then briefly seared on the other side), a vinegar and Meyer lemon pickled purple radish, and some umeshu:

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It was a comforting meal, with a bit of challenging bitterness from some of the herbs but a reassuring buttery heat from the salmon.