I’ve made it a personal goal to get as much of my food as possible at the farmer’s market this year. Admittedly, this is less for reasons of morality and more for reasons of taste. And laziness on my part. Because the better my product, the less I have to do to it. (Case in point: last post’s epic roast chicken).

So I threw together this little diddy from my leftovers from the week. It’s a pizza crust, baked until crispy. Soft goat cheese is mushed up with lemon juice and zest and is spread over the crust. Then, a mound of arugula, lightly dressed with lemon juice and olive oil, is piled on top.  A sprinkle of salt, a crack of black pepper, and this, my friends, is spring on a plate.

And this, my friends, is spring on a hike.

Happy spring!

ARUGULA AND GOAT CHEESE PIZZA (by me)

My friend Sara recommended some sliced beets on top. I’m thinking of adding a poached egg. What are your ideas?

My dressing is very tart. If you prefer a less lemon-y dressing, use 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and 1 tbsp lemon juice

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 lb pizza dough (brought to room temperature an hour or two before baking)

Oil (for greasing baking sheet)

4 oz goat cheese (room temperature)

1 tbsp & 1 tbsp lemon juice, separated

Zest of 1/2 lemon

Salt & pepper

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 cups arugula

Recipe

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Use a bit of oil to grease baking sheet. Stretch or roll pizza dough on to baking sheet. Place in oven. Toss a few ice cubes in the oven every 3 or 4 minutes to keep the oven air humid and the crust crispy. Bake until crust is browned.

While crust bakes, place goat cheese in a bowl. Pour 1 tbsp lemon juice and zest over goat cheese, grind in cracked black pepper to taste, and smoosh it all together with a fork. Spread mixture over baked crust.

In another bowl, whisk remaining 1 tbsp lemon juice with 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Pour it over arugula and toss it together in a bowl. Place the dressed arugula on top of the goat cheese-y pizza crust. Top with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!


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I have got a serious case of spring fever.

The past week has been gorgeous (50-60 degrees and sunny) and the last thing I’ve wanted to do is stay inside and cook. There hasn’t been anything too crazy going on in this kitchen of mine. I’ve been going for long walks or runs with friends, eating lunch outside, and sporting a v-neck shaped sunburn on my chest. A few months of winter and already I forgot the importance of suntan lotion. Sheesh.

Most things I’ve cooked this week have been quick and easy, and this dish is no exception. It caught my eye in last month’s Bon Appetite. It’s no secret that I love to take green vegetables for a dip in egg yolk.

This meal was alright. I hope I don’t offend anyone by saying that it reminded me a bit too much of pub food. It was kinda mushy, and a little on the bland side. If you’ve got any ideas for pepping it up, let me know!

An easier, healthier, and (I think) tastier way to enjoy eggs and greens: Roasted Asparagus with an Over-Easy Egg (or Two)

SUNNY-SIDE-UP-EGGS ON MUSTARD-CREAMED SPINACH WITH CRISPY CRUMBS (adapted from Bon Appetit, February 2011)

If you want to make breadcrumbs quick, preheat your oven to 350 and bake a slice or two of bread in there for 10-20 minutes.

I adapted this recipe in three ways: 1) I cooked the eggs in butter rather than olive oil because I think it tastes better. 2) The original recipe called for crustless breadcrumbs, but I figured I’d throw the crusts in there too. I can’t imagine that had major bearing on the end product. 3) I used heavy cream instead of half and half, because I can’t imagine using half and half for anything else before it expires. Waste not, want not.

Serves 2

Ingredients

1/2 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs made from country-style bread

5 teaspoons Dijon mustard, divided

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 teaspoons butter

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 9-ounce package fresh spinach leaves (most bundled large-leaf spinach weighs 9 oz)

3 tablespoons heavy cream

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

Salt and pepper

2 large eggs

Fresh thyme sprigs (for garnish)

Recipe

Preheat oven to 400. Put breadcrumbs, 2 teaspoons mustard, oil, and mustard seeds in a bowl and toss to coat. Place breadcrumb mixture on a baking sheet and bake until they become crisp and golden.

While your crumbs bake, add a few tablespoons water to a large skillet. Add spinach. Place over high heat and toss until spinach wilts (a couple of minutes). Put wilted spinach and liquid in a sieve placed on top of a bowl and press out liquid. Set aside.

Heat a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add wilted spinach, 3 teaspoons mustard, cream, and chopped thyme. Stir over medium heat until ingredients combine and sauce thickens a bit (a few minutes). Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper.

Take out a medium skillet and heat over medium heat. Once hot, add your butter. Add the eggs and cover immediately with a lid. Turn heat up to medium high. They should be done within 2-4 minutes. Just keep checking on them periodically. I like them when they are a little bit white on top (about 3 1/2 minutes)

Divide spinach between two bowls. Place one egg on top of each pile of spinach, and place thyme sprigs and a little extra pepper on top. Serve with crusty bread, if you like.

I am a list-maker. My brain does not function unless I have paper and pen in my hand. It helps me keep track of everything I need to do at work, and before I leave for the day I go over my list, making sure I’ve checked off each task that needs to be completed.

I had a really crazy day this past week and could not wait to sprint out of the hospital and into my car. But as usual, I checked my list right before I left. And found, taped to the front of my work binder, a post it that said… “Be sure to”

That’s it. Post it fail.

On to the chard. My Thanksgiving recovery tends to include a lot of green and leafy vegetables. My favorite of this bunch is swiss chard. It’s very similar to spinach, but it contains a tough center rib. It can also grow to be enormous.

And is full of hipster angst.

This preparation uses garlic, red pepper flakes, and golden raisins. I am thinking of making it as a Christmas side dish, since it comes together quickly and does not take up any valuable oven space.

The second time I made this recipe, I found a golf ball sized lump of pizza dough in my freezer. I rolled the dough out thin as possible, sprinkled on some parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper, and baked it until it was light brown on top. Then I topped it off with the sauteed chard mixture. It was delicious!

SAUTEED SWISS CHARD WITH RAISINS (made up by me, inspired by my turkey hangover)

Ingredients

1/3 cup golden raisins

One bunch swiss chard (I used red chard but rainbow or green would work as well)

Salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 cloves garlic, sliced

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Black pepper

Recipe

Place raisins in a bowl. Pour about one cup boiling water over raisins. Allow them to soak and plump about 10-15 minutes while you prepare the rest of the dish.

Bring 3 cups salted water to a boil.

Wash chard leaves. Separate leaves from center rib. Chop rib into pieces (about one inch long). Blanch rib pieces in boiling water until tender (about 1-2 minutes). Remove and place in cold water, to stop them from cooking any longer. Set aside.

Place a large saucepan on medium heat. Heat olive oil in pan, then add garlic. Saute until garlic is lightly brown. Add red pepper flakes, then chard. Turn the chard in the saucepan a few times with tongs, then cover with a lid and allow to steam until leaves are slightly wilted, about 3-5 minutes. Remove lid, give the chard a quick stir, and put chard on a place.

Sprinkle chard leaves with chard ribs and golden raisins. Squeeze lemon juice over the mixture and give it a toss. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy.

Amy’s Spinach Casserole

November 18, 2010

I think everyone has one particular dish that embodies their idea of the holidays. My favorite holiday dish is my cousin Amy’s Spinach Casserole. Thanksgiving food is very favorite my kind of food. I even put leftover cranberry sauce on vanilla ice cream! But I love Amy’s Spinach Casserole so much that I’d rather eat extras of it and pass on second helpings of stuffing or turkey or mashed potatoes. She says that this Thanksgiving marks the 20th year she’s made it for the holidays. This is my cousin, Amy, and 2/3 of her kids, Ava and Zack.


And here’s the other 1/3, Nicole. We get along REALLY well.

Okay, here’s another picture so you know she’s cute in addition to being quirky.

Let me tell you a story about Nicole. Nicole and her mom, Amy, stopped for a donut at a Dunkin’ Donuts drive thru. Amy passed the donut to Nicole, which Nicole unwrapped. She looked up at Amy before she took a bite, and said “Bone Happy Teeth, Mom.” Amy asked her to repeat herself a few times. Nicole finally clarified. “You know, bone happy teeth. It’s what you say before you eat.” She meant Bon Appetit.

Back to the casserole. It’s like Lipton Onion Soup Mix Spinach Dip plus stuffing. Probably because it’s made with Lipton Onion Soup Mix and premade stuffing mix.

I know what you might be thinking. “Elizabeth, don’t you usually make everything from scratch?” Yes, I do. Almost always. But I am completely unapologetic about the ingredient list here. Amy’s Spinach Casserole brings me more joy than you can even imagine. Every bite reminds me of home, my family, and the holidays. This, for me, is the holidays in casserole form.

Bone Happy Teeth!

Other Family Recipes of Mine (I have posted shockingly few of these, and the ones I’ve posted are only sort-of family recipes. What’s the deal with that?): My Grandma Rose’s Pasta Sauce, Killing and Preparing a Lobster for the Grill (I guess it’s a family recipe because my dad taught me how to do it), Oatmeal Raisin Coconut Cookies (well, it’s a Quaker Oats recipe but I made them a lot with my mom as a kid)

What I’m Reading:

AMY’S SPINACH CASSEROLE

Ingredients

30 oz frozen, chopped spinach

1/2 stick butter

2.5 cups crushed, seasoned stuffing mix

Cooking spray

16 oz sour cream

1 package Lipton Onion Soup Mix

Recipe

Defrost spinach and drain well. Preheat oven to 350.

Melt butter on the stove top or in a microwave. Pour melted butter over stuffing mix and toss. Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray. Spread 1/2 of the buttered stuffing mix across the bottom of the pan.

Mix onion soup mix with sour cream, then add in spinach. Mix well. Spread spinach mixture evenly over stuffing mix in pan.

Sprinkle remaining stuffing mix over top of spinach mixture. Bake 30-40 mins, until stuffing mix on top turns golden brown.

Spinach Almond Pesto

October 11, 2010

I was looking for an efficient way to use up a bunch of spinach and remembered hearing about using spinach in pesto instead of basil. I also remembered reading, not too long ago, that pine nuts go rancid quickly. I can’t remember when I bought my industrial-sized Costco bag of pine nuts. I opened my cabinet and was relieved to see all my little pine nuts, looking good. And then I saw the expiration date. November 10, 2009.

2009? I can promise you I have used these much more recently than November 10, 2009. I had a fleeting moment of, Well they certainly look fine. But Will and I watched the pilot episode of Hoarders not too long ago, where an elderly woman hoards, of all things, food. I won’t elaborate further since you should only be subjected to this story by free will, but I will say that if you ever want to get your butt in gear to do some spring cleaning, watch Hoarders. I can promise you, you will be throwing things out faster than you can say “OCD.” Into the trashcan went the pine nuts.

So I decided to try this pesto with almonds. I thought I’d seen pesto with almonds before, and I had some on hand.  A great way to use some pesto now and save some for later is to freeze part of the pesto in ice cube trays. Pop them into a plastic bag for storage. 1 or 2 of these pesto cubes gives you a single serving of pesto, on the spot. And yes, I do own heart shaped ice cube trays. It was an impulse buy. In hindsight, I should have got the penguins.

This pesto tastes, well, a lot like spinach. And not much else. I wonder if pine nuts would have given it a creamier or more complex taste. It’s definitely not bad, and I will use it as a quick dinner on pasta or over chicken or as a sandwich spread, but it’s just not very exciting. But the giant bag of bright green hearts in my freezer is a good conversation starter, at the very least.

More on spinach: Spinach, Strawberry, and Goat Cheese Salad, Spinach Pie, Spinach Quiche.

More on pesto: Unconstructed Garlic Scape Pesto

What I’m Reading:

SPINACH ALMOND PESTO (adapted liberally from Grilled Chicken with Spinach and Pine Nut Pesto by Giada de Laurentis)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups lightly packed baby spinach leaves (about 2 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup silvered almonds
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Recipe

Combine the spinach, almonds, lemon juice, and lemon peel in a processor. Lightly pulse. With the machine running, gradually add 1/3 cup of the oil, blending until the mixture is creamy. Add salt and pulse. Put half of the pesto into ice cube trays and store in the freezer for future use.

Transfer the rest of the spinach mixture to a medium bowl. Stir in the Parmesan. Season the pesto with salt and pepper, to taste.

Meal planning, it turns out, is crucial when you join a CSA. Joining a CSA means that you will have a) spectacular amounts of vegetables to use up in one week, and b) unfamiliar ingredients. This, of course, is a large part of the fun. You will have to adopt new techniques and try out new recipes in order to use up all the vegetables. Will and I have had a great time trying new things, but we have one no fail strategy in our back pocket that we use at least once a week: When in doubt, throw it on a pizza.

Which is just what we did this week with our mustard and turnip greens. We received some beautiful, small turnips in our bag this week, and our farmer, Peter told us to be sure to try the greens (do I remind you of Ina Garten??). I googled some recipes for mustard and turnip greens when I went home, wondering how to use them. Mustard and turnip greens are a staple of Southern cooking, so of course most of the recipes instructed adding bacon fat to the ingredients. I figured that I could skimp on the bacon if I just added some cheese instead. Both greens seemed to have similar prepartion suggestions, so I rightly assumed they had a similar flavor profile. I sauteed them on in a pan with some olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes, and then took them off the stove and finished them off with a bit of lemon juice.

When I tasted the greens, they reminded me very strongly of broccoli rabe. My absolute favorite pizza of all time is topped with broccoli rabe, garlic, and Parmesan and ricotta cheeses, so I figured the greens would sub in nicely. I was right. This pizza was absolutely delicious and I am crossing my fingers for some more mustard and turnip greens this week!

And now, a dirty little secret: pizza dough is my Achilles heel. I don’t know what it is, but my pizza dough has turned out terrible every time I’ve made it. Too dry, too sticky, hasn’t risen… you name it, I’ve messed it up. I know, I know, its supposed to be easy to make. And I promise that I will conquer it someday. But for now, I have to tell you that I mostly just buy my dough from Whole Foods. Oh well, no one’s perfect.

MUSTARD GREEN & TURNIP GREEN PIZZA (by me)

Serves 4

I always throw an ice cube in the oven every few minutes when I cook pizza. This is a trick I learned from my mom. The ice cube melts and adds humidity to the oven, which crisps up the crust. Give it a shot and you won’t be sorry!

Ingredients

2 tablespoons EVOO + a little more for greasing the pan

3 large garlic cloves, chopped

1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (depending on how much heat you like)

1.5-3 cups mustard greens and/or turnip greens

Juice of 1/4 lemon

1/2 lb pizza dough (enough for one round, thin crust pizza)

Cornmeal (for sprinkling the pan)

1/3 cup parmesan cheese

1/3 cup whole milk ricotta

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Recipe

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat a medium sized frying pan on medium-high heat. Add olive oil and get it hot. Add chopped garlic and cook until garlic is lightly browned. Add red pepper flakes then the greens. Cook until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Put greens on a plate, and squeeze 1/4 lemon over green.

Lightly coat pizza pan with EVOO, sprinkle cornmeal generously on top. Roll out a 12-14 inch disk of pizza and place on pizza pan. Place greens on pizza, then parmesan, then place dollops of ricotta across pizza. Season with salt and pepper. Place in oven and throw an ice cube on the oven floor. Every 3 or 4 minutes, throw another ice cube into the oven. Bake 8-12 minutes until crust is nice and brown.

Spinach Quiche

June 9, 2010

Oh, dear. I don’t know what you people are going to do with me. I promise, this is the last in my run of things baked in tarts. The strawberries, the spinach, and now MORE spinach. And all in a row too. Well, I promise, this is the last of my run (for now, anyway). It’s just that the marvelous thought of dinner in a pie crust never really occurred to me until Sunday and now I just can’t let it go. Especially since I forgot how phenomenal quiches are, hot, cold, room temperature. A true marvel of nature I’d say.

Well, like Will said, “Mmm. Pie for dinner. This is a good trend.” It kind of reminds me of a little healthy trick my Grandma Rose played on me when I was a kid. I would ask for more ice cream, but instead of ice cream, she would offer me a mashed up banana in an ice cream cone. And naively, I enjoyed this mashed up banana with the same gusto I’d use to enjoy actual ice cream. You can consume massive amounts of healthy things, (remember the 12 cups of spinach from last time?) when placed in a pie crust.

Hey, you know what else is awesome about pie for dinner? Using the leftover dough scraps for dessert! Mini hand pies. Oh, I know, the crust isn’t technically a dessert pie crust given the lack of sugar and butter. But with a quick roll out, a stuffing of jam and/or chocolate chips and/or shredded coconut, and a dusting of raw sugar, it makes for a GREAT end of a meal. Yep, pie for dinner and dessert. Twice in 2 hours. That’s right. Because around here, that’s just how we roll.


SPINACH QUICHE (by Deb from smittenkitchen.com, previously adapted from Bon Appetit). The only thing I changed was using my Olive Oil Dough recipe instead of Martha Stewart’s Pate Brisee

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1/2 recipe Olive Oil Dough

1 3-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup half and half (or milk)
3 eggs
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup grated cheddar (gruyere works well, too)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
4 to 6 green onions, thinly sliced (1/2 cup finely diced red or white onion or shallots work as well)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Recipe

Preheat oven to 425°. Beat cream cheese in medium bowl until smooth. Gradually beat in half and half and eggs. Mix in remaining ingredients. Pour mixture into prepared crust. Bake until crust is golden brown and filling is set, about 25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.