Plum and Blueberry Torte

My CSA has been loading us down with plums for the last 4 weeks. I’ve been eating a lot of them — they are delicious — but I finally succumbed to the NY Times CONSTANT posting of Marian Burros’ Plum Torte recipe. It is delicious and easy. You should totally make it with whatever you have at home, you pretty much can’t go wrong. I still have a bunch of leftover blueberries from my trip to Maine so I threw a bunch of those in, too.

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Ingredients:

  • ¾ to 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup unbleached flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt (optional)
  • 2 eggs
  • 12 halves pitted purple plums
  • 1 pint blueberries (or omit and double the plums)
  • Sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon, for topping

Preparation:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream the sugar and butter in a bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and eggs and beat well.
  3. Spoon the batter into a springform pan of 8, 9 or 10 inches. Place the plum halves skin side up on top of the batter. Sprinkle lightly with sugar and lemon juice, depending on the sweetness of the fruit. Sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, depending on how much you like cinnamon.
  4. Bake 1 hour, approximately. Remove and cool; refrigerate or freeze if desired. Or cool to lukewarm and serve plain or with whipped cream. (To serve a torte that was frozen, defrost and reheat it briefly at 300 degrees.)

Three Cup Chicken with Shishito Peppers

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This is maybe my favorite stir fry I’ve ever had. It has Taiwanese roots…but apparently there are many different opinions about what makes this dish authentic. In any case, I really don’t think you can go wrong no matter what — good eats is good eats. Here’s my version.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 2-to-3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced into coins, approximately 12
  • 12 cloves of garlic (or more to taste), peeled
  • 4 whole scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • a bunch of shishito peppers
  • 2 pounds chicken thighs, boneless or bone-in, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 tablespoon unrefined or light brown sugar
  • ½ cup rice wine
  • ¼ cup light soy sauce
  • 2 cups purple basil or thai basil

Preparation:

  1. Heat a wok over high heat and add 2 tablespoons sesame oil. When the oil shimmers, add the ginger, garlic, scallions and peppers, and cook until fragrant, approximately 2 minutes.
  2. Scrape the aromatics to the sides of the wok, add remaining oil and allow to heat through. Add the chicken, and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is browned and crisping at the edges, approximately 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add sugar and stir to combine, then add the rice wine and soy sauce, and bring just to a boil. Lower the heat, then simmer until the sauce has reduced and started to thicken, approximately 15 minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat, add the basil and stir to combine.

Tomato Tart with Fresh Mozzarella and Anchovies

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Full disclosure: I love anchovies. And most stinky fish, to be honest. But I really like anchovies. Anyway, I’ve been getting a ton of tomatoes from my CSA and I took to the Times to figure out what to do with them. Yay, fresh tomatoes!!! Please don’t go away. Get the Times version here.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups/250 grams all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning tomatoes
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin oil, plus 2 tablespoons and a little more to grease the pan
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 large garlic clove, grated
  • 1 cup thinly sliced onion
  • 2 large tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick and blotted
  • Ground black pepper
  • ½ pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • A few capers, optional
  • 8 anchovy fillets, rinsed and patted dry

Preparation:

  1. Make the dough: Put flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a mixing bowl. Drizzle in 1/4 cup oil, egg and 1/4 cup cold water, then mix quickly with hands to make a soft dough. If dough seems dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Form dough into a rough rectangle, wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat oven to 425 degrees. On a flour-dusted surface, divide dough in half. Roll out one piece to a rectangle approximately 9 by 12 inches (reserve other piece for future use, or to make a second tart).
  3. Stir 2 tablespoons olive oil and the garlic together in a small bowl. Put rolled dough on lightly greased baking sheet. Drizzle surface of dough with garlic oil. Scatter onion slices over dough. Arrange tomato slices over dough in one layer without crowding, then season with salt and pepper. Top tomatoes with torn mozzarella slices in one layer. Tuck olives and capers here and there, if using. Drape top of tart with intermittently placed anchovy fillets.
  4. Bake for 6 minutes on bottom shelf of oven, then transfer to top shelf and bake for another 6 minutes or until nicely browned. Let cool slightly, then cut into squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Stir-Fried Brown Rice with Chard, Carrot, Peppers and Scallions

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This is so simple and delicious. You could probably throw whatever you have in house in here and it would be great. Definitely don’t leave out the chard, though, cause the chard ribs add a lot to it and are amazing. It’s basically all prep…once everything is chopped this takes about 5 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 generous bunch of chard (1 to 1 1/4 pounds), stemmed, washed and chopped. (Keep the stems, also chopped, for the stir fry)
  • 2 to 3 tsp. minced garlic (to taste)
  • 2 tbls. minced fresh ginger (to taste)
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tsps plus 2 tbls. sesame oil
  • 1 medium carrot, cut in 2-inch julienne
  • 1 habanero pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 green pepper, minced
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced, dark green parts separated
  • 4 cups cooked brown rice, either chilled or at room temperature
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons soy sauce (to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • coarse sea salt, to taste

Preparation:

  1. Combine garlic, ginger and habanero in a small bowl. Beat eggs in a bowl and season with a pinch of salt. Prepare the other ingredients and place in separate bowls.
  2. Heat a wok or a 12-inch skillet over high heat. Swirl in 2 teaspoons of oil. Add eggs, swirling the wok or pan so that the eggs form a thin pancake. Cook 30 – 60 seconds, until set. Using a spatula, turn pancake over and cook for 5 to 10 more seconds, until thoroughly set, then transfer to a plate or cutting board and quickly cut into strips.
  3. Swirl in remaining oil and add garlic, ginger and habanero. Stir-fry no more than 10 seconds and add chard stems, carrots and green pepper. Stir-fry for 2 minutes, until crisp-tender, and add light part of the scallions and chard leaves. Stir-fry until leaves wilt, 1 to 2 minutes, and add rice. Stir-fry, scooping up the rice with your spatula then pressing it into the hot wok or pan and scooping it up again, for about 2 minutes. Add soy sauce, dark green part of the scallions, eggs and cilantro, stir-fry for about 30 seconds and remove from heat. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and serve.

Tomato Jam

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So, tomato jam? Everyone needs this. It’s. It’s. I just don’t know how I’ve never done this before. It’s. Worth making. I got the inspiration from NY Times Cooking as I was looking around for ideas for all my CSA tomatoes. I already have more sauce than I can store, so…make this! You can find the original, mostly unchanged recipe here. There are some changes though, that I think make it better. Of course it’s all subjective. Make it towards your own tastes…if you like things really, really sweet, go with the original suggestion of 1 full cup of sugar! Of course, as they say, you can always add more but you can’t take it out. A half a cup was more than sweet enough for me, and also sweet enough to enhance the flavor of the 2 habaneros I added as well. Keep in mind this recipe has no pectin or preservatives, it’s really intended to be eaten soon. I seriously don’t think you’ll have any problem with that. Tip: it went PERFECTLY with crackers/baguette and a slice of cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ pounds good ripe tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated or mincedginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 habaneros, stemmed, seeded and minced, or red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste (the sweet/spicy thing really works in this jam, so I’d say go for it unless you really hate spicy).

Preparation:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a heavy medium saucepan
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture has consistency of thick jam, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, then cool and refrigerate until ready to use; this will keep at least a week.

 

Sweet & Sour Eggplant, Tomatoes and Chickpeas with a Side of Tomato, Watermelon Feta Salad

 

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This may well be my new favorite dish. It hails from NY Times Cooking, and you can find the original recipe here. I always change some things based on how I like it, but I like to source the original recipe when there was one. Eggplant is one of those vegetables, for me, that I’m still trying to figure out, and learn how I like it…because often, I don’t like it. Well, I’ve definitely learned at least one way. I actually licked the bowl when I was done with this. It tastes better the next day, and even better the day after that. It also takes a while to prepare, so don’t be afraid to make it while eating something else, and saving this overnight to soak in all the flavors. But most importantly, eat this.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large eggplant 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds, halved lengthwise then cut in 1/2-inch slices
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, as needed
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 ½ pounds tomatoes, grated or peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of fresh mint

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil, and oil it with olive oil. Lay the eggplant slices on top. Salt lightly and brush with olive oil. Place in the oven for 20 minutes until the eggplant is lightly browned and soft to the touch (the surface will be dry). Remove from the heat, and fold over the foil to make a packet around the eggplant slices. Allow them to soften and steam inside the foil for 15 minutes while you proceed with Step 2.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy lidded casserole or skillet. Add the garlic. Cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes, salt to taste, sugar and pepper. Bring to a simmer, and simmer uncovered over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often, until the tomatoes have cooked down and smell very fragrant.
  3. Add the eggplant, molasses and chickpeas. Cover and simmer for another 20 to 30 minutes, stirring from time to time. The mixture should be thick and the eggplant should be very tender, melting into the mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning. Sprinkle on the parsley and/or mint, and serve. Alternately, allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.

Also featured is a tomato, watermelon, feta salad with fresh mint. Chop all ingredients, place in bowl, and drip on balsamic vinegar and a little olive oil. Yum!

 

Summer of Raw: Summation and Thoughts

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Above: Apple chips!

So, my summer of raw is just about at an end. Forgive my lack of communication the last couple of weeks, I was on vacation and when I vacation I basically just shut down all modern day technologies and go hide in the woods with no cell service. I will be sure to post a few more raw recipes, but I think I’ve been with this long enough to talk about the experience.

Firstly I would say: this is really hard to stick to. Unless you have some reason that you absolutely need to have nothing but raw foods, I would try something with a bit more flexibility. I’m someone who spends a good deal of time prepping my foods each week, and probably commit more time to that task than most in an effort to eat healthfully and deliciously at the same time, and it was a lot, even for me. You basically need to be continually prepping things.

That said, there were a LOT of things I loved about trying to eat primarily raw. (I say this because I never ended up eating exclusively raw). Once I figured out to stop trying to replicate “real” things, it was pretty glorious. And I’ll definitely continue to eat this way as often as possible. Summer makes it easier; the abundance of fruits and vegetables make it easy to just throw some things into a bowl together and call it a meal, or a salad. If I lived in California or someplace like that I might consider making this a primary lifestyle choice…but maybe not, too. Because regardless of heat or good veggies, I feel my body changing each season, and craving different things in different seasons. And for me, the most surefire way to fail at something is to ignore what my body is asking for. My body always knows more than me.

If you want to eat raw, my suggestions are:

  • make sure you have all the proper equipment
  • Prep a bunch of granola and other snacky things to have whenever you need
  • Always have lots of ripe fruit, veggies and nuts around to grab as needed
  • DON’T try to make things like raw bread, crackers, pretzels, etc. This will be expensive, time consuming, and ultimately (just an opinion) taste revolting.
  • Don’t try to prep too much almond milk or other nut milk, they go bad fairly quickly so you’re better off making just a couple of cups at a time and then just making more. You will spend a lot of time making nut milks and other nut products, unless you plan on not having a very flavorful palette.
  • Good produce makes everything easier

These are probably pretty good tips just in general, anyway. (I say this for me to remember, not you!) So fear not! I will still be posting many raw things.

And I have a new project, starting soon, probably within the week. This one has a medical reason behind it, but there is definitely a project in there and it’s probably a good idea for anyone to eat this way, not just for medical problems. More on that, on the way.

Really I can’t imagine a project that involves food, that I wouldn’t be excited about.