Bean & cheese folds with potato salad

Weekday dinner menu:
Bean & cheese folds
Potato salad with garden herbs

Bean & cheese folds

  • aduki beans
  • small piece of dried kelp
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 t chili powder
  • 1 cup grated melty cheese of your choice
  • 4 T salsa of choice
  • cooking spray
  • 3-4 wraps
  1. Prepare aduki beans the day before. (Boil 1 cup beans, with kelp, with about 4 cups water for about 2 hours on very low heat (until water has basically all evaporated but beans are not yet mush--or burned). Cool overnight.
  2. Turn oven to 350˚.
  3. Refry the aduki beans in a little olive oil. Add 1 t (or more) chili powder. Stir regularly until beans are pasty--most liquid has been absorbed.
  4. Spray (or oil) a cookie sheet.
  5. Choose a folding method (see below--note carrot substitution for toddler version).
  6. Bake about 10 minutes. Cool a bit before serving. That's it!

1. Tortilla with filling in middle
2. Fold over from one side, then fold down from top and up from bottom

1. Fold over last side
2. Flip over seamside down

1. For kiddie quesadilla, replace salsa with shredded carrot. Cover 1 side of tortilla with filling
2. Fold over and bake. When done, cool some and slice into 3 "pizza shaped" triangles.

Potato salad with garden herbs

I usually make my potato salad with red onion and celery. I find they add nice crunch and tang. But I didn't have either of those on hand, so I decided to substitute pickles (for crunch) and chives (for tang). Thumbs up!

  • 2 large waxy potatoes, such as yukon gold
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1 t dijon mustard
  • 3 small dill pickles, or 1 large, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • chopped garden herbs: chives, tarragon, parsley
  • 1/4 t dried dill (or add fresh dill to above)

Boil potatoes and eggs together. Let cool. Cut into cubes. Combine with all other ingredients. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

As usual, way tastier than this pic would seem to indicate!

Witbeer tasting on a summer's eve

Witbeer is a taste of summer. Lemony, golden, hazy, known for being made with wheat with coriander and orange peel. I spontaneously bought 3 different Witbeers today and we had a blind tasting during the cocktail hour on a partly-sunny Vermont afternoon. I covered the 3 bottles, then walked away and had my co-taster number and pour them. We each had 3 small glasses and a "tasting card" for notes. I also set out lemon wedges and we squeezed them into each glass before tasting, cuz that's just what we do with Witbeer.

Beer 1: Even though it was a blind tasting, I remembered that one of the bottles was European and I decided this one was it. Some European (including some British) beers just taste "foreign" to me--kind of malty and watery. Perhaps I have American taste buds and am used to being kicked in the pants by lots of hops and lots of stuff going on. (However a good pilsner or lambic will also suit me fine.) In terms of color, this was the palest selection of the 3. I decided that it could be "good with food, unremarkable for quaffing." My co-taster wrote "clear." (All his reviews were one word only.)

Beer 2: This one was golden hazy and seemed more carbonated. I thought it had a West-coast, hop-obsessed style. My co-taster declared it "hoppier."

Beer 3: This was our favorite. I thought it was "mild, lemon-y, most well-balanced." My co-taster wrote "Yum!" It wasn't insipid, also not overwhelmingly hoppy. It had a nice "summer's day" shandy-like character but with the mellow grownup taste of a good witbeer. Very nice.

Time for the big reveal.

Beer 1 was Hoegaarden "Wheat beer brewed with spices" from Belgium. I was psyched I pegged its Euro-ness.

Beer 2 was Flying Dog Woody Creek White "Belgian style wit beer." Although I thought it tasted West Coast, it's actually brewed in Maryland. These are the people with the cool Ralph Steadman labels.

Beer 3, our fave, was Wolaver's "Ben Gleason's White Ale" from our tiny home state of Vermont. How interesting that our taste buds just seem to sync with the flavor closest to home. Wolaver's is the certified organic brand produced by Otter Creek Brewing in Middlebury, Vermont. According to the label, this witbeer contained not only barley and wheat but also oats. Yum indeed.

It's Caturday!

I can haz farmr's markit?

Today was just a great day. I'm not done with it yet, but want to post a little photo essay of a few food & plant highlights.

Here's today's farmer's market take! Strawberries, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, kohlrabi, rainbow chard, sunflower sprouts and sugar snap peas.

I'm fascinated by the purple kohlrabi. It looks like some alien being.

While shopping we remembered we'd bought a bunch of broccoli raab last week and never ate it. So I cooked it up for lunch. Easy: wash and gather in one long bunch. Slice into 1 inch bits. Put olive oil in a hot Dutch oven and top with raab. Top with 2 crushed garlic cloves and some more olive oil. Cover and let it all wilt together for about 5 minutes. Then I fried it a bit more, stirring, to cook the thicker stems. I seasoned with hot pepper flakes, salt and parmesan. It was perfect--bitter, savory, tender, "healthy."

The St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is in bloom. It is a gorgeous buttery yellow. The individual flowers look like little fireworks going off. Just the epitome of warm summer sun energy!

Here's a wider shot of the whole plant, towering over a bunch of chives.

Hope that you're having a great summer so far. What fruits and vegetables and flowers have you been enjoying? Such abundance going on!

Rainy days

Last July it rained for 17 days, or some horrible fact like that. Will rainy summers be the norm as catastrophic climate change (formerly known as global warming) starts to make itself felt? I guess I'm just a bit gloomy since it seems like it's been raining for 17 days already, and summer has only just begun. What's good for a rainy day? Yesterday it was a bowl of hot soup. Part of the food blog gift I got back in January--it's almost all gone now!

Here's what you need to create a rainy day lunch for 2:

Can of favorite clam chowder.

Cute little bowls and lots of saltines.

I actually read the directions on this chowder. The label said to mix the condensed contents with milk and BUTTER, plus salt and pepper to taste. I did so. It was pretty tasty for a canned soup. The main ingredients seem to be milk, clams and potatoes--as they should be? The slight bite of the added cracked pepper was nice, and the butter gave it a smooooth mouthfeel. Recommended.

Farmer's Market Midsummer

Midsummer's night equals the first day of summer. How does that work? Shouldn't "midsummer" be halfway between summer and autumn? Well, happy summer!!! Please enjoy these precious days as they get shorter and shorter! Here are a few pics from this Saturday's farmer's market.

Gorgeous veggies.

Deer Ridge Farm proclamation.

Deer Ridge Farm closeup. Mmm.

Beef Jerky Time again

Here last week, gone today: yellow iris.

Time is flying--seems like I just posted a bunch of playlists because I was falling behind, and now I'm falling behind yet again! Anyway, tune in to Beef Jerky Time every Wednesday night from 7-8pm ( and you can hear treasures past and present like those listed below.

Don't forget that you can usually take a listen to the song (or one like it) by clicking on the artist link. I try to use Myspace with streaming music, or sometimes the artist's blog or homepage if it seems better. The Nickodemus site has a free download, and Fanfarlo is selling their whole album plus bonus tracks for only $1 (until July 4). Just FYI.

Beef Jerky Time 5*27*09

Beef Jerky Time 6*3*09

Beef Jerky Time 6*10*09

Whirlwind Boston Weekend!

Redbones in Somerville, MA. Known for their excellent BBQ & generous southern-style cuisine. These are the signs above the kitchen area.

We spent about 24 hours in Boston this weekend, and when I say "Boston" I mean Boston proper, plus Chelsea, Somerville and a little bit of Arlington (hello, Trader Joe's). We just walked in the (home) door about an hour ago but I wanted to get these pics up while they're fresh! Here are some food-related highlights:

We pulled into town around lunchtime on Saturday and hit Redbones near our old Davis Square neighborhood. I'd forgotten How Much Food they give you at Redbones. I got the sausage of the day as a "solo" sandwich (meaning without extra sides). It had a great snap to it and a wonderful smoky flavor. Not smoked like bacon, but smoky like it had just come off a grill (which it had). My companion had a pulled pork sandwich that looked pretty good. I ordered hushpuppies that came with a vinegary dipping sauce, then remembered that you get huge chunks of cornbread with every meal as well. We were SO FULL and satisfied.

My sausage sandwich--came with a bunch of tasty dijon. I just ate the sausage and gave the bun to my dining companion so he could make TWO pulled pork sandwiches.

Hush puppies with vinegar sauce.

It all comes with cornbread!

Mason jar of lemonade. I think their margaritas are this big, too.

Saturday evening we ate at the Salty Dog, which is your basic seafood restaurant. It's fairly unremarkable except for the fact that it sits smack in the middle of the Faneuil Hall area. So with the outdoor seating, you're in a fun busy atmosphere with lots of tourists and families and couples enjoying their seafood just a stone's throw from the wharves. I had a creole shrimp-scallop thing over rice. One companion had a fried combo (shrimp & scallops plus baked potato) and the other picked a mouthwatering scallop carbonara (heavy on the bacon, I like that they weren't afraid to bacon-ify those precious scallops). Our smallest member dined on ice cubes, two peel & eat shrimp, and lemon wedges dipped in milk. We decided to say nothing.

The next day came the moment I've been waiting for ever since I moved away from the Boston area--dim sum on Sunday. YAY! We went to my favorite dim sum place in Boston, Chau Chow City (83 Essex Street).

Chau Chow City, approaching from the west.

The 3rd floor of Chau Chow City is like a dim sum facility--one huge room where the carts circulate all day (starting at 8:30am!) and you can stuff yourself and 3 friends for under $40. Today we had shrimp har gow (my favorite), siu mai, a shrimp & scallop dumpling, beef rice roll, some kind of rice pancakes with scallion and tiny shrimps, a sticky rice bowl, bean curd roll with meat (my second favorite), some nice scallion dumplings and an excellent piquant-crunchy-sweet-spicy seaweed salad. I didn't see any bao (char siu bao would be my 3rd favorite)--or any chicken feet (which I am game to try after they were recommended by Wandering Chopsticks).

Average view of our table, covered with steamers and tea.

The bean curd meat roll (probably not the right name--do you know what these are really called?) I so love these things. Very savory, soft and firm at the same time, melt in your mouth and give way until you meet the tender meat filling.

Penne Bake with Asparagus

I liked the look of the Pasta & Spinach Bake posted on Eat this a few days ago. Then I was perusing old issues of bon appetit and noticed their Baked Penne with Farmhouse Cheddar & Leeks (March 2009). All this put me in the mind of the 21st Century Mac & Cheese that I posted about a few months ago. I realized that if I have cheese, pasta and a vegetable, I'm good to go. Here's what I came up with, using asparagus and beet greens as my vegetable.


1 bunch asparagus
1 pound (or more) whole wheat penne
1 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup flour
2.5 cups milk
1/2 pound (or more) grated cheddar, as sharp as you can afford
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup grated parmesan
greens from 3 beets, coarsely chopped
handful assorted herbs, chopped (I used parsley, oregano, marjoram & winter savory)
salt, pepper
cooking spray (or just oil)--for your casserole dish

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile rinse the asparagus and snap off the woody ends. (I know Julia Child recommends trimming these with a vegetable peeler instead of discarding, but I can't be bothered.) When the water boils, throw in the asparagus for 5 minutes. Remove asparagus with tongs (so as to keep all that hot water).
  3. Drain the asparagus in a colander and refresh with cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside. Meanwhile, put the pasta to boil. (Probably good to salt the water, too.) Boil for 10 minutes, drain. (I drizzle with olive oil to prevent sticking since I can be a slow worker.)
  4. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and sauté until glossy, then add the garlic. After a couple minutes, add the flour. Everything may become a bit gummy and dry--that's OK. Stir together gently but thoroughly, then add the milk.
  5. Heat the milk for a couple minutes and keep stirring. When it starts to simmer, add a handful of the grated cheddar and turn down the heat. Have the beaten egg in a separate bowl and put in a cup of the milk/cheese mixture, about 1/4 cup at a time. Whisk between each addition. Once incorporated, stir the egg mixture back into the main milk mixture.
  6. Stir the rest of the cheddar and the parmesan into the milk mixture. Then add the herbs, the beet greens, and ALL THAT PASTA. Things will start to be pasta-heavy at this point--just keep stirring until everything is evenly mixed. Add salt & pepper too.
  7. Oil 2 oven dishes. I used a small dutch oven and a square glass brownie pan. Spoon the mixture into the oven dishes. (This is where I also topped everything with about 16 crumbled saltines that I mixed with 3 T melted butter. I'd say this is optional though, not an integral part of the recipe.) Bake half an hour.
It tasted great, despite this rotten picture.

Parting note: I read that asparagus is one of those vegetables that doesn't necessarily have to be organic--it's not too chemical-laden if you buy the conventional version. This huge bunch of asparagus cost $2.99, which I thought was pretty good.

Butternut ravioli 2 ways

I wish I knew the word for "butternut squash" in some other language because I need some VARIETY when I talk about it over and over again. Can you believe I still have some of last winter's butternut squash hanging around? I made several purées over the winter and slung them in the freezer never to be seen again. But... they are still there. Here's a ravioli I invented to use some of the stuff up. Some sage leaves from the garden were pressed into service.

  • 1 cup butternut squash purée (roast halved squash about an hour and scrape out soft stuff)
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1 t nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • pinch salt
  • several grinds of black pepper
  • 1 package dumpling wrappers (I used 60 round wraps)
  • 3 T butter
  • about 12 large lovely sage leaves

  1. Set a large pot of water to boil.
  2. Mix together the squash, ricotta, nutmeg, pine nuts, salt and pepper.
  3. Create the raviolis by putting a teaspoon of filling in the middle of each wrapper.

  4. Then, dab water with a wet finger around the border of each wrapper and place another wrapper on top. This forms a sort of flying saucer shape. (Pick up the ravioli as you seal the edges, since the filling will make the top wrapper too small otherwise.)

  5. Put the raviolis in small batches into the boiling water. I had trouble with my raviolis sticking to the bottom of the pot and then exploding. I found that lowering them into the froth in a slotted spoon helped them cook a bit before "releasing" (letting them slide off the spoon). They don't take long to cook--3 minutes or so. Remove with the slotted spoon and stash on an oiled plate.
  6. Melt the butter in a sauté pan, then add the sage. Fry the sage until it's getting crispy.

  7. You can reheat the raviolis before serving (and imbue them with sage) if you throw each one in the sage butter for a few seconds before plating. Put a sage leaf on top of each ravioli and serve.

These seemed to expand during cooking and just a few were enough to fill me up. I served these with a green salad and the family gave the meal a thumbs up!

And now the second part of my story: I did not use up the full 60 wrappers nor the squash-ricotta filling for the above meal. So a few days later, I made up another batch of raviolis. This time, I just used one wrapper per dumpling, folding each in half over a teaspoon of filling and sealing with water. I fried them in a combination of canola oil, olive oil, and a dab of butter for flavor. It was a simple matter of throwing in a new ravioli, turning over the one already frying, and removing the one that had already been turned over. This method made another score of raviolis (or so).

Result? I liked this version even better! (When something's fried, what's not to love?!) They were crisp and hot, and somehow seemed more savory than the boiled version. This was just a quick lunch, but when I make these again I'll create a dip for them. I'm thinking something with sour cream and cumin, maybe lemon zest. A tart tangy complement would go well with these sweet-but-not-too-sweet mouthfuls.

Heifer Day Farmer's market

Our farmer's market is usually a hive of activity every Saturday, but not on Strolling of the Heifers day. Then, everybody is downtown watching the cows and taking part in the festivities and chaos. The Farmer's Market is an oasis of calm in comparison. We didn't get there until just before closing today--picked up some handsome lettuces, 3 bell peppers, 2 tomatoes, a Japanese eggplant and some beets (with greens). Here are just a few shots of the day.

Chicken stick from Anon's, the Thai truck. Last week I mentioned how the coffee guy is an important stop, especially so for the mommies. Anon's is another key part of the circuit--I think every kid going to the Farmer's Market requests at least one of these. They are very yummy, make small people happy, and cost $2.50.

Pretty pansies on the Deer Ridge Farm table.

A slice of gluten-free strawberry tart from Betz Baking. (There are also regular ones, too.) I adore her plum version of this. The strawberry was pretty delicious too. It cost $3.00.