Monday, August 29, 2011

Just Say No to Eating Animals Monday: Volume 33: Not-too-hot and Not-too Cold Tomatoes and Pasta

If this cool weather continues, my other cool summer soups may have to wait until 2012!

So tonight is another night when something a bit more substantial makes sense.

How about a not-too-hot, not-too-cold but just right offering?

This one takes some time, but it’s really hands-off time. It’s perfect to set up the night before, or in the morning before coming home and finishing it. Besides I know you want to see what happens when the Sungold tomatoes come pouring in, like they did last week.

Pasta with Raw Tomato Sauce, from Martha Stewart Living Cookbook


1 head of roasted garlic* (do this the day before, and do it every week—it’s a staple!)


2lbs of Sun gold and should have been Sun gold cherry tomatoes, coarsely chopped

½ c chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish

½ t. crushed red pepper flakes

4 oil-cured black olives

1 T capers, drained (mine were salt packed so I rinsed them once I removed them from the jar)

1lb of pasta

For the Roasted Garlic
(can be done up to 2 days in advance, just make sure you don’t use it all before you make this dish!):

Take head of garlic and stand upright in small ramekin. Drizzle olive oil on top. Place in oven at 350 F for an hour.

For the Pasta and Sauce:

Place everything except the pasta, in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and leave it to meld for at least 2 hours, but 8-10 hours would be great.

Make pasta. Drain pasta. Mix with the sauce. Garnish with a bit of chopped basil and watch the room get quiet while folks eat this.

This is my way of roasting garlic, not necessarily Martha Stewart’s prescribed way.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Just Say No to Eating Animals Monday: Volume 32: Sweet and Cool Corn Soup

Last month I ate at Bonsoiree. It’s one of those fine dining multi-course places, but no jacket or tie are required.  I’d always wanted to eat at a multi-course place during the summer when the chefs would have the best of the Midwest’s cornucopia to choose from, although eating multi-courses in summer kind of goes against the grain.  Anyhow, one of the courses stayed with me, in a good way.  It was a chilled corn soup.  It was fantastic.

Summer is waning and I love a cool soup.  I’ve got a perfect gazpacho and a perfect fruit soup but I didn’t have a perfect corn soup, heck I wasn’t even thinking about cold corn.

Chilled Corn Soupfeatured in Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food (yes, I changed it)

8 ears corn
1 3/4 c whole milk (do not make it skim or 2%, I’m begging you)
¼ c cream
2 T. unsalted butter
2 medium shallots, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced (don’t do this until just before serving)
Salt, preferably Kosher
Pepper, preferably white

 Remove ends of corn (that’s the pointed end) and stand, one ear at a time in a shallow and wide bowl, I used my casserole Corning ware.  Shuck corn and then cut kernels off the cobs.  Place cobs in a large pot. Add the milk and 6 c. of water.  Boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 15 minutes.  Remove cobs from pot.

While cobs are simmering, heat EVOO and butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Once the pan is glistening, add shallots and cook for 2 minutes.  Add corn and cook for 4 minutes.  Salt and pepper (I used white pepper) to taste.  Set aside ½ c of kernels.  Add sautéed corn to pot of corn milk and bring to a boil.  Add ¼ c. of cream and reduce heat to a simmer for 15 minutes.

In batches, fill blender with soup and puree until smooth.  Set up a large bowl with a fine mesh sieve over it.  Pour pureed soup into sieve and press on the solid matter to extract the liquid.  Once you’ve completed that throw away the solids.  Adjust the seasoning and chill for at least four hours, preferably overnight to permit the flavors to meld.

Garnish each bowl with bell pepper and reserved corn.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

May I Have the Envelope Please

And the Winner of the Foraging and Canning: An Ode to Elderflower Giveaway is (drumroll):


Helen Gunnarson said: " Giveaway City! I maintain that I do not need to explain either why foraging isn’t a dying skill or why food preservation is experiencing a come back in our fast-paced world, because your post already PROVES those very points. Come on–here we have a busy Chicago litigator (vous) who’s plugged into all the latest gadgets, software, and web applications, serves on at least two active committees within her state bar association (one of which you chair, if I’m not mistaken), does I don’t know how many other cool things in her professional and personal life, tweets, and blogs not only about matters related to her profession but also about food AND, to top it all off, FORAGES, CANS, and MAKES HER OWN ELDERFLOWER CORDIAL, for heaven’s sake! I pride myself on my own knowledge of plants, learned mostly from my mother when I was a child in a small town downstate, but I had no idea that wild parsnip would do those awful things (though I did know it’s a noxious weed) and am not at all confident of my ability to distinguish elderflower from noxious and/or poisonous weeds. Filled with admiration at your prowess, and hope I get to win some of your cordial!"

City Winner #2:

Natasha said: "Giveaway City, for sure.
I don’t so much think it’s a dying skill, but I do think it’s making a comeback. Though, I’m not nearly so aware of everything as Helen is!
It just seems to me that there’s a few things going into all of this. A surge of creativity. An interest in getting our hands on our food. An interest in where our food is coming from & how it’s made. A desire to preserve the truly grand flavors that can happen when things don’t have to be shipped.
Maybe that’s just my reasons, but I think I’m not alone."

Wait, we haven't even announced the Country winners so read more over at the Local Beet...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Just Say No to Eating Animals Monday: Volume 31: Summer+ Cool weather= Corn and Pasta

Okay, this is going to be brief.  I need to do something about my poor wilderness of tomato plants and I have a short window for putting up pickles because I have the audacity to not time my weekends away with the crops.

Here’s a new way to enjoy corn and I’m going to do my darndest to bring you at least a little more love of corn before the season ends.

I know it sounds like a starch lovers dream but Bon Appétit nailed it last year with this corn and pasta dish.  Trust me; my family went gaga for this one.

Pasta with Corn Pesto, adapted from Bon Appétit:


4 cups of fresh corn, shucked from the ears
1 clove of garlic
1 t. salt
½ c. freshly grated parmesan
1/3 c. pine nuts*, toasted         
¼ c. plus 1 T olive oil, divided
 8 oz. of pasta shells

Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a pre-heated skillet, preferably non-stick.  Once the pan is glistening add the corn, garlic, salt, and pepper to taste.  Cook the mixture until tender and fragrant, remember overcooked corn is tough.  Set aside 1 ¾ c. of the corn. 

Place the remaining corn in a food processor, or high speed blender, I use a Vita-Mix.
Add parmesan and pine nuts.  Turn on processor, or blender, and process at a low speed while slowly drizzling in the remaining ¼ c. of olive oil.  Blend until smooth.  Don’t worry you will have enough liquid to make this creamy from the corn milk that forms during the processing.

Cook pasta to desired level of doneness, seriously, I loathe al dente pasta.  Place bowl under colander so that you don’t loose pasta water as you drain your cooked pasta.  Reserve 1 ½ c of the pasta water.

Place pasta back into drained pot.  Add the corn pesto and the reserved corn kernels.  Use reserved pasta water to thin to desired consistency.

I won’t tell if you lick the plates!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Foraging and Canning: An Ode to the Elderflower and a Giveaway

I’ve had elderflower on the brain for a few weeks now.  I really can’t explain it, but it appears I’m not the only one with elderflower on the brain.  I re-read this thread on the Chicagoland Food Lover’s chat site LTH Forum.  But I also found out that even Martha Stewart has elderflower front and center.

There was only one thing left to do and that was to go gather elderflowers.  Fortunately, in the middle of farmland for some trout stalking in Wisconsin with my husband I saw it everywhere.  The flowers that you are supposed to pick, have a light perfume that reminds me of honeysuckle,without being cloying.
There was only one major problem; it was surrounded by a poisonous invasive species known as wild parsnip.  This made me leery of foraging because there was no question, wherever the prettiest blossoms of elderflower were, it would be almost impossible to pluck them without touching wild parsnip.

Unlike poison ivy or oak, wild parsnip dares you to look at it.  It’s pretty.  If you touch it and are subsequently exposed to sunlight, your skin won’t itch at all.  You will not get a rash.  Instead you get blisters as if your skin had been boiled.  I didn’t get any on me while I harvested, but my husband did while he was bushwhacking to get to streams for trout spotting.

Once we got home I shook each and every one of my blossoms to remove any bugs; both bees and ants are a good sign when harvesting,because you know you’ve got sweet blossoms.  Into a large bowl of water  went my blossoms for cold steeping, before being made into elderflower cordial.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Just Say No to Eating Animals Monday: Volume 30: Fast, Healthy, and It Tastes Good

Did I tell you I’m kind of a new lover of tofu?  I know, kind of odd for someone who doesn’t eat animals but it’s the truth.

So I’m on a bit of a kick and you will see future recipes of things that taste fantastic and are good for you.  I know I love food and I just see no reason for fantastic food and food that’s good for you not to have a long and fruitful union.

Tofu and Vegetable Toss adapted from Dr. Joel Fuhrman:

3 garlic scapes, diced
½ c red bell pepper, diced
14-16 oz block of firm tofu, rinsed, blotted, and crumbled
15-25 cherry-sized tomatoes, quartered
10 oz  baby spinach
1 T. nutritional yeast
1 t. Bragg Liquid Aminos

In a large non-stick skillet, over medium-high heat, sauté garlic scapes, red pepper, tomatoes.  You may need to add about a ¼ c. of water, but wait until you get a bit of browning on the vegetables before adding it.  Then add everything else to the skillet and heat through, about five minutes.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Just Say No to Eating Animals Monday: Volume 29 It's Hot & You Are Hungry= King Corn for dinner

I've got a confession.  I generally feature food that we literally have for dinner on the same Monday night that the post goes up.  That's why sometimes the posts go up long after a lot of folks have had dinner.  This last week I was out of town at a conference in Boston so I did no cooking.  I didn't get back until late Saturday night and I haven't really gone shopping for dinner staples, just rushing against the season to put up food.  Yes.  I will post soon, so you can try some of them this season, but that's another story.

My husband said he wasn't very hungry so when I asked him what he wanted for dinner he said, "Corn."

Corn should be a seasonal staple in your home because it's quick and versatile.

Here's what you can do with it.

Strip the husk and eat it.
Cook.  Then strip the husk.  Then slather it, like our Mexican food cart guys do, with mayo, cayenne, butter (yeah, I know they use bottles of Parkay), and a squeeze of lime.
Cook it.  Strip the husk and remove the kernels from the cob for an array of uses including my favorite, in salad.

But, corn is a far more fragile vegetable than it appears.  Sure you can roast in literally on top of coals, grill it, boil it, but if you cook it too long the kernels go from sweet and juicy to dry and crunchy.  And really, I don't know why anyone would remove corn from its protective husk until immediately before using it, buy you are drying your corn out the minute you do it.  I watch folks do it all the time at the farmers markets and I'm always wondering are they literally going right home to cook it?

No real recipe in our urban abode.  So here you go.


Take ear(s) of corn, still in husk.  Wrap in a paper towel.  Wet the entire thing, including paper towel.  Place in microwave and hit vegetable setting.  If your microwave doesn't have a vegetable setting try about 3 minutes on high.

Remove hot corn from microwave (use an oven mitt) and allow to rest for 4-5 minutes.  Carefully strip the husk and remove the silk.  You should be able to do this simultaneously.