Waste Not, Want Not

May 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

I’ve been so busy at work lately that by the time I get home I’m barely even hungry, and certainly not in the mood to cook. This has resulted in slight weight loss (hooray!) but also a fridge full of spoiling food (no hooray).

I’ve been so excited about spring food, that I’ve been stocking up on ramps, asparagus, rhubarb, spring onions, and all kinds of greens… and watching them start to go all yellow and limp is breaking my heart.  So, in an effort to use everything in my fridge in one go, I’ve come up with a few delicious solutions.

Way to use up everything in your kitchen #1: Put in on Pasta.

Fairly obvious, but pasta dishes have become my favorite way to use up bits of food lying around the house lately.  A lovely fresh, whole wheat pasta (mine are from Smith Meadows Farm in VA) is the perfect canvas for any number of flavor combinations.  It’s also a fun way to come up with new recipe, because you are forced to use everything you’ve got instead of going out and buying every ingredient you need at a moments notice (which is also super expensive).   Force yourself to put things together that you’ve never tried before. Especially if they are all in season, chances are the flavors will blend nicely.

My favorite seasonal pasta of the week- Ramps, Mushrooms, and Asparagus with Goat Cheese over Lemon Verbena Pasta.  I ate it 3 times and I still have over a pound of ramps in the fridge (I told you I got excited!).

Way to use up everything in your kitchen #2: Freeze, Pickle or Puree.

Bought too much asparagus? Cut it up and freeze it for an Asparagus Quiche later in the summer.  Caught ramp fever (like me)?  Saute the greens as a side dish, and pickle the bulbs and stems for a tangy bite in sandwiches all season long (i’m planning on doing this myself this weekend, stay tuned for a how-to.)

This afternoon I realized I still had a pound of spicy lettuces that a farmer had given me at the end of market a couple weeks ago (You know they are fresh when they hold that long! ).  I couldn’t think of a thing to do with them, since they were really too spicy to eat as salad greens, and it’s just too damn hot today to turn the stove on to saute.

And suddenly it hit me like a horseradish- Chimichurri!  Two and half  years ago, I spent 5 weeks wandering around South America by myself, and fell head over heels for the pesto-like spicy concoctions that were often served at restaurants in Argentina.  They were always slightly different, so it didn’t seem to matter which herbs or greens were used, so long as there was a good hit of garlic and oil.

So into the Cuisinart my spicy greens went, with a few cloves of garlic, a good dash of salt, and several big glugs of olive oil. Press play and presto! A pungent, peppery bright green spread just begging for a grass-fed skirt steak seared rare on the grill.  In an instant I was back in Buenos Aires feeling the heat from a smoking parilla, my mouth watering for the full-bodied malbec and plates of morcilla, the blood sausage I became so unexpectedly fond of.

Back in my kitchen in DC, the chimichurri went into the freezer for now, having no skirt steak to speak of just yet, but making a mental note to pick one up from EcoFriendly Foods at the market tomorrow.

Pure Comfort Food- Local Mac n Cheese

January 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

I feel like crap.  My throat hurts and I’ve lost my voice and I went to a play audition and don’t think I did very well because I don’t have a voice and I’m sick and my apartment is cold and… sniff… I need a hug… 😦

In my life, there is only one remedy for this sad situation.  Macaroni and Cheese.

Granted, mine is a local-food-adapted, more grown up version than the one out of the blue box, but it’s nearly as easy and just as comforting.  I had no delusions that this would make me well (it’s no chicken soup of nutrients), but it certainly made me feel better about life for a while. And sometimes, that’s really all you can ask for.

Pure Comfort Macaroni and Cheese (makes 2 servings)

1 tbsp butter (Trickling Springs Creamery)

1 tbsp AP flour (Wade’s Mill)

1 cup whole milk (Homestead Creamery)

1/8 tsp fresh nutmeg (use less if only have ground nutmeg)

1/3 cup favorite/available cheeses (fresh mozzarella from NYC trip, FireFly’s Merry Goat Round)

2 servings pasta, short or long depending on preference (I used whole wheat fettucine from Hudson Valley Farms, from NYC trip)

1/4 cup Pancetta, crispy- optional (Homecured, given to me as a gift)

Small handful of fresh baby spinach- optional (Tuscarora- through Star Hollow CSA)

Directions:

Put on salted water to boil for pasta.  In a heavy bottomed skillet on medium heat, melt the butter then whisk in the flour to make a roux.  Turn the heat up and add the milk, whisking constantly to avoid lumps.  Continue to stir, and let the sauce bubble and thicken.

 When it sticks to the back of  wooden spoon, add the nutmeg and cheeses.  Stir with wooden spoon until all is incorporated. Taste test and add salt and pepper as needed. 

When pasta is done boiling, pull it from the water with tongs and drop into pan with sauce. Fold pasta into sauce to coat. If using, add spinach at this time and fold in to wilt. Add (precooked) pancetta or bacon.  If sauce is too thick, add a little pasta water and fold in.  


Put into bowls immediately and sprinkle with a little more cheese and pepper.  Eat and be comforted.  

*This dish sadly does not keep very well, so if not sharing you should probably eat it all in one sitting. I’m just saying… hate to let food go to waste…

Veal Meatballs and Nutmeg Squash Pasta

January 11, 2010 § 1 Comment

Aaaand I’m back in the game. Success! Dinner tonight was, if I do say so myself, effing delicious. And 100% local!

I’ve stared at the cover at this month’s Bon Appetit all week, and the craving for meatballs finally took over. (Not that I’m giving in to this magazine scandal. It still angers me that Condé Nast seems to think Bon Appetit is a suitable replacement for Gourmet- uh, no. Nothing is. So don’t even try. )

This is actually based mostly on a turkey meatball recipe from Giada DeLaurentiis’ Everyday Italian, and not Bon Appetit.  But as I am incapable of following recipes exactly, I’ve taken quite a few liberties and made it mostly my own.

Veal Meatballs with Tomato Sauce and Fresh Pasta

Preheat oven to 400.

Mix in bowl:

1/3 cup homemade bread crumbs

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 tbsp Whole milk

1/4 cup grated hard cheese

3/4 tsp Salt

1/4 tsp red pepper

1 tbsp dried or 1/8 cup fresh herbs (thyme, parsley, rosemary, etc)

Add and gently fold in with your hands 1 lb ground pasture and milk fed “rosy” veal. Do not overmix.

Roll into 1 inch balls and place on oiled baking sheet (do not crowd). Will make about 20 balls. Bake the meatballs for 15-20 minutes.

While meatballs are baking, boil pasta in salted water.  I used fresh Nutmeg Squash whole wheat pasta from Smith Meadows. It is DIVINE.  If you can find fresh pasta, definitely use that.  If not, a dried pappardelle would work nicely.

Once the meatballs are done, warm them in some tomato sauce on the stove(I used Quaker Valley Orchards), then pour over pasta, top with more cheese, and enjoy!

I positively stuffed myself with 5 meatballs, but 3-4 is probably a good serving size for most meals.  But it’s Sunday dinner! And now I will put myself into my warm bed, full and happy. 🙂

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