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bean soup (heavy on the CSA veggies!)
Sunday April 22nd 2012

Wow, vacation sure does addle the mind a bit, no? Came back and saw that I had a few blog post drafts in the folder. Well, better late than never…

Here’s an easy soup we had on a cold wintery night here in San Francisco. To be honest I barely soaked the beans at all, they cooked fairly fast. And if you’ve read the greatest cookbook ever written you’ll know that the secret is a pressure cooker, which, um, I don’t have. (Honey, you reading this? My birthday is coming up pretty soon…)

So I got some beans going in some stock. Yup, that’s a block of chicken stock I pulled out of the freezer. What’s that you say? You don’t have the time or energy for that? Puh-leese. Get on it, my friend, there are few things in the kitchen that will make your food taste better than homemade stock, other than salt. And it’s damn easy to make too, so go make some!

Then while the beans were cooking, in a separate pan, I got a mix of veggies from the box going. Spring garlic, carrots, turnips, I forget what else. Just pile it in, throw in whatever herbs you have in the garden (Huh? What’s that? Do you really want another lecture from me!?) and more-salt-than-you-think-is-healthy.

I had some greens around. I think they were some erbette chard? Or maybe mustard greens? Can’t remember. But really it doesn’t matter.

When it cooked down a bit, and when the beans were almost cooked, I hucked it all together. Doesn’t that look good?

Okay, credit where credit’s due. I never used to make soup. Well, maybe the occasional roasted butternut squash soup, but that’s really it. Melinda is the usual soup maker and is quite influential. She’s the one usually throwing this all together, and dare I say damn well! She’s my inspiration …

This weeks bounty (and a NYC recap)
Saturday April 21st 2012

Nice looking box, eh?

Before I get started, I promised you some details about our NYC trip. Well, damn, isn’t that a fabulous city? It really is the center of the known universe! We were there for Alexis’ school choir (Carnegie Hall don’t cha know), half staying with Yvette and The Gordo at their fabulous pad in Carroll Gardens. We did lots of touristy stuff, and walks through parks and museums and such, but we also ate well. Real well!  People are forever comparing the restaurant scene in San Francisco with New York, but I’ll tell you one thing they surpass San Franicsco at is with service. Every single place just had the best service – friendly, professional, not a hint of snobbery. And we ate at some hot places – Momofuko’s Ma Peche, where a 4-top walk-in at 8pm was greeted with a smile and a we’ll-make-it-work attitude. And when it jumped to 9 a half hour later, they again worked it out. And at the lounge at The Modern, our group of 6, plus an 8-year old was again greeted with smiles and they gladly and professionally dealt with getting us all sitting (er, lounging) together and eating and drinking. And at ultra trendy Frankie Sputino’s and Prime Meats (we went to both – they’re literally 20 feet from Yvette and The Gordo’s apartment, lucky them!), it was totally professional - I mentioned that the wine by the glass was slightly corked and they were horribly embarrased, whisked it away, gave no attitude, and a new glass was back in less than two minutes. These places are packed, in all the magazines, are hot hot hot. They don’t have to have this level of service, but they do, and that’s what makes NYC different from San Francisco. The level of service in restaurants in San Francisco is definitely a step, or two, below.

Okay, so what about that glorious picture above? Here’s what all the items are, and what I’m going to do with them:

Purple Kohlrabi – What makes this CSA box so much fun is that there is generally one item per week that makes you think “What in the world do I do with this?!” Gotta say I’m stumped. Recipe search time!
Lettuce – easy peasy. Might thinly slice some of the spring onions in with it too.
Green Garlic – garlic soup! A couple potatoes, some stock, a whizzer and away we go.
Spring Onions – some for the salads, some for the soups, the rest for something else.
Rapini – pasta! Some crumbled sausage browned up, throw in the rapini, toss into pasta.
Radishes – they’ll be the victim of snacking by the kids before dinner
Erbette Chard – maybe in with the pasta? Maybe some in a soup? Hmm, lots of options
Fennel bulb – cold, thin sliced in a salad. Maybe caramelized on some grilled meat? Or maybe into a soup …
Strawberries – what was that awful movie called? Gone in 60 Seconds?  ;-)

Now lets step it up a notch. Two people didn’t pick up on Wednesday night, so now I’ve got 3 boxes to get through this week! I feel confident. We could always just make a bigger garlic soup batch and freeze some. The radishes are just snacked on before dinner. And the three boxes of strawberries were gone in 24 hours! Still though, don’t know what I’m going to do with over a dozen kohlrabi though!

Soccer night dinner
Thursday April 19th 2012

Just back from a weeks vacation in arguably the greatest city in the world - New York! More on that in a future post (Momofuko, the Modern, Shake Shack, just to tease you), but here’s a post from a couple weeks back I failed to post before holiday.

Our house is a soccer house. Very much a soccer house. It permeates the air, and also the blood of my girls. See, Melinda was a star player in University. She played for McGill with a crazy competitiveness that got her lots of accolades from the league and press, and she’s encouraged our girls to be real active and serious players too. So that means our evening time is often tight, with two practices a week for Alexis, one for Emma (soon two), plus games on weekends, and not to mention Spanish tutoring, homework, violin, etc etc. So I’ve been a little pressed for time on meals and until I get my act in gear and plan ahead a little better (like my friend Rachel in Brooklyn) I need fast meals. Real fast. Here’s what I threw together recently for a post practice night.

I started with tipping and tailing the radishes and baby turnips from the box. Got them going in a pan with a fair hunk of butter and then pepper and more-salt-than-you-think-is-healthy. Once it was going I threw in some of the spring onions from the box …

… hucked it all in the oven and let it roast up while I cooked the rest.

I sliced up a couple bulbs of fennel, and got them going similarly in another pan with butter, salt and pepper. It’s really so simple, you don’t have to do much other than the occasional stir. Don’t worry about super thin slicing, just get it sliced up and in the pan.

Then I had two different batches of Marin Sun Farms chicken drumsticks. One I just salted over night, destined for the girls…

And then a few that I had seasoned overnight with salt and ancho chile powder. Those were for me and Melinda. I just browned them all in two different pans and put them in the oven with the roasting veg. Couldn’t be simpler.

I missed a picture of the cooked chicken legs, but here’s a good shot of the roasted veg coming out of the oven.

And here’s one of the nicely caramelized fennel. I just love cooking fennel this way. The anise flavour mellows out and the sugars in the bulb sweeten greatly.

So there you have it. A soccer practice night meal that maximized the produce in the box and was ready real quick. Most of the active time is chopping, so if you have decent knife skills I’ll bet with good timing of the cooking, the start to finish cooking time could be about 30 minutes. Post practice soccer players are a hungry lot!