Stir fried chayote leaves breakfast

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The chayote leaves were the first thing that needed to be cooked from my Phat Beets Box, as some leaves had started to go off.

Luckily it is quick and easy to cook. I just washed it, pulled off the leaves from the stems, and chopped the stems in to bite sized pieces. Any ends of stems that didn’t yield easily to my knife were composted, but most were easy to cut through.

1 large bunch squash leaves
1 shallot
2 thin slices ginger
1/2 jalapeño
1 T oil
2 T pumpkin seeds
2 T Shaoxing wine
2 tsp oyster sauce

In the interest of keeping it simple, I chopped one shallot, two thin slices of ginger, and 1/2 a jalapeño (also from the CSA) and sauteé in oil until fragrant. Add chayote stems, add lid to pot, and let cook 2 minutes. Add leaves, a dash of Shaoxing wine (or water), replace lid, and cook another 4 minutes or so. If stems seem tender, add a dash of oyster sauce and stir. I added some pumpkin seeds at the end for crunch and nutrition, and ate the dish for breakfast with an egg, and my favorite hot sauce for eggs, homemade from Naomi Duguid’s Burma. I can’t recommend it enough–it keeps well in the refrigerator.

 

Let the Beets begin

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I was excited to sign up for a Phat Beets CSA share–years ago, just before I moved out of my first East Bay apartment in South Berkeley I got a flyer for Phat Beets produce delivery, helping to serve underserved populations fresh healthy vegetables and provide youth employment making healthy food. I loved their mission, and stopped by their old Saturday market a few times, but the housing search took me to a few places out of the reach of their produce.

They seem to be expanding their CSA operation, providing produce from Avalos Farms (a favorite of mine from when I lived by the Tuesday Berkeley Farmers’ market) and Vang Family farms and deliver to the adorable and delicious Pietisserie near my new place.

I’m excited to jump in to my first week’s (half) share, and to post about how I use each share, as I’ve seen so many people have a hard time with it, and food waste makes me sad!

A rough plan:

chayote leaves– use immediately, stir-fry with ?
tomatoes, corn, and lettuce– salad ingredients for the week
turnips– roast next time you use the oven for anything (otherwise they’ll be like those poor parsnips that sat for months in my produce drawer)
jalapeños, tomatillos, and onions– the suggested salsa verde, or a cooked dish with chile verde
broccoli– maybe a healthy grain bowl with tofu, nuts, whole oats (I am on a strict fitness plan this month), but probably one of my all time favorites, beef with broccoli.
Korean melon– give to someone who likes melons/cucumbers? pickle?

I’m always set up for a basic Thai green curry

The chayote in the fridge should have been used a couple weeks ago, but there’s no time like the present. A Thai curry using curry paste is easy and quick to throw together, so I like to keep the ingredients around–at a minimum: coconut milk, curry paste, fish sauce, and limes. Luckily I still had some cilantro and mint garnish from the nam Kao I picked up at Chai Thai Noodles after my home inspection.

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Just cook the curry paste in a bit of oil (I use coconut), add a couple tablespoons of the coconut cream floating on top of the coconut milk, and cook until the oils separate. I’ve found it is too difficult to get the coconut milk to crack with most commercial coconut milks (and all coconut creams I’ve picked up in the US contain stabilizers) so the oil plus coconut solids plus curry paste is a decent substitute. After the mixture appears oily, add any long-cooking vegetables or meats, in this case the chayote. Cook for a couple minutes, then add remainder of coconut milk, fish sauce, lime juice (I was lucky enough to have some makruts in the bottom of the drawer, so I added zest and juice.) and a pinch of sugar. Cook until vegetables are nearly done, taste and adjust salt (fish sauce), acidity, and sweet (I’m a sweet hater, and my end result never approaches sweet, but I do find it is always better and more rounded with a bit of sugar (or palm sugar or agave syrup). Add quick cooking vegetables, like carrot slices and cook until done. I ended up not adding the tofu, though it was open and would work, as I’m rationing it for a time I’m even hungrier, after all, this has appetite-suppressing coconut milk.
Served over jasmine rich, of which I have a couple servings under 10 pounds and will certainly prevent me from going hungry during this experiment.

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Breakfast is easy (if you’ve prepared nga yoke thee achin)

 

 

 

My usual quick breakfast of toast and almond butter hampered by my current breadless, almond-butterless state required a few substitutions, but resulted in a bit tastier, though less healthy than the original.

The stash:

Sesame bread, chunky natural peanut butter, and a tiny remnant of the excellent tart-sweet chile-garlic sauce (nga yoke thee achin) from Naomi Duguid’s Burma: Rivers of Flavor

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I just microwaved the hard, separated peanut butter in the chili-garlic sauce for 20 seconds so I could combine and spread, and toasted the split sesame bread.

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Worst first

Well, it is Winter, but one of the things I’ve liked best about Northern California is access to local fresh produce throughout the year (and not sweating in the summer). Unfortunately, since I’ve banned myself from buying any groceries for a month I’ll have to live like a pioneer family who forgot to do all their canning and who’s root cellar burned in a horrible fire. In my case, this means I will use whatever survived the confines of my refrigerator after 10 days of neglect, preceded by the usual avoiding buying too much produce because I knew I’d be gone for some time.

So, day 1 of project buy nothing involves using up the vegetables that are almost rotten, in this case a blackening cauliflower remnant. I also had a giant sesame bread from Happy Golden Bowl, which I had intended to bring back to my family to add a Sichuan touch to our traditional Chinese take-out Christmas Eve dinner, but my usual poor planning interfered.

I decided to do a Sichuan style sauce with the eggplant to serve on the bread with added peanuts for protein and because I’ve had a bag of unroasted peanuts sitting around forever. Add some cleaned up remnants of the cilantro and scallions that are about to go off and a decent meal is made.

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  • 1/3 head cauliflower
  • 1/3 cup peanuts
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 cayenne peppers
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • garlic oil
  • sichuan peppercorn oil
  • 1 t soy sauce
  • 1 scant T soaked fermented black beans
  • 1 T Shaoxing wine
  • 3 T chicken stock

Heat garlic oil (or just oil) over medium high heat. If peanuts aren’t roasted, add to pan and cook until they start to color. Chop cauliflower finely. Add cauliflower, peppers, fermented black beans, and shallot to pan and fry until the cauliflower browns, then add crushed garlic. Fry until fragrant and add soy, wine, and stock. Cook until mostly evaporated, but some sauce remains. Toast sesame bread and serve over the top.

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Pretty good for the bottom of the crisper.

And now for something a bit different

Well, it has been a while, but I might as well get back on the internet, since I have a lot of work and responsibilities to avoid. I just came back from visiting my family over the Xmas holiday with an offer pending on a cute California bungalow in Oakland and a big, messy, lived in apartment. Thoughts of handing nearly all my money over as a downpayment and having to pack all my stuff up to move have forced me to do something I should have done a long time ago–rely solely on the food items I’ve hoarded until they run out or a month, whichever is longer (I’m betting on the month). I’ll save money and space for the next month making for an easier move physically and financially. I don’t think it will be too much of a sacrifice for the first week, but I am considering allowing a $2/week vegetable budget since I started fairly deep in the hole on fresh vegetables, as I just returned after 10 day away. Maybe I’ll just allow foraging (which does include my winter garden). And I will be allowed meals out for social reasons, but not convenience. 

And so, in print, is my plan to turn my life into a Chopped + Hoarders show.

Green Ricotta Gnocchi

At least once a week I find myself in the situation of having way too much of something that won’t last another couple of days, or, more often, several things. This week’s culprits all came from my garden. It was one of those weeks when the artichokes and radishes were both about to bloom, and needed to be eaten or wasted. And in the case of the radishes the situation was even more dire as they seed prolifically and I’d already decided their mediocre taste wasn’t worth all the work to remove all the dirt from the roots (so their mediocre taste isn’t dominated by dirt taste). So I had about a quart of blanched radish greens and three artichoke hearts on my hands. (I ate the leaves this weekend with some garlic lemon butter. I’m one of those who finds it tastier and more fun to eat the leaves than to deal with a whole heart or two.) Even though they were older plants, the radish leaves were as mild as spinach, but a bit more fibrous. Luckily I also had a tub of ricotta and decided to make ricotta-radish green gnocchi. And, since I had the artichoke hearts to deal with I decided on an Provençal-ish sauce.

Green Ricotta Gnocchi

1 ~15 oz. tub ricotta, drained (or not if fairly firm)
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, pressed (optional)
the zest of 1/4 lemon (optional)
2 cups blanched, strained greens
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup flour plus flour for shaping

  • Squeeze as much water as possible out of the greens and chop as finely as possible. Then chop one more time–large chunks really interfere with the shaping and cooking
  • In a bowl, combine everything but the flour and mix to combine. Add the flour and mix until just combined. If the mixture seems too loose add a bit more flour.
  • Lightly flour a surface and your hands. I usually roll out a rope about a the diameter of a nickel and cut into pieces, but the fibrous nature of these greens made it difficult to cut through the roll without completely deforming it. So I just shaped them by hand, pinching off a bit and rolling into an egg or flying saucer shape.
  • Drop into plenty of salted, boiling water and cook until all gnocchi rise to the top, 5 or so minutes
  • Drain, or remove with a spider, and place in single layer. Can be kept overnight at this stage.

Ricotta gnocchi, boiled and a bit bland

Provençal style gnocchi

The leftovers

1 T butter
1/4 cup or more olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. herbes de provence
Leftovers–for me, artichoke hearts, roasted red pepper, even more radish greens, and roasted chicken
I can imagine lots of other ingredients on this theme working with/instead of mine–olives, capers, walnuts, basil, zucchini, mushrooms, sausage, tomato
If I’d had a tomato and olives, I would have added them.
1/4 cup white wine
Juice of 1/4 lemon
Cheese for topping–I used Parmiggiano-Reggiano and a relatively young pecorino

  • Heat 2 T olive oil in skillet, add garlic and cook over medium heat until it begins to brown. Add artichoke hearts or anything requiring a longer cooking time along with the herbes de provence. Add remaining ingredients  and warm through. Deglaze with white wine and when bubbling subsides remove to a large serving bowl.
  • Heat butter and enough olive oil to cover bottom of the same skillet over medium heat. Add gnocchi in a single layer and cook until browned on each side, about 3 minutes per side. Cook in multiple batches if needed.

    Most gnocchi taste much better browned

  • Add reserved topping back to skillet and toss to combine over heat. When everything is warmed and mixed return to serving bowl and squeeze lemon over the top. Add at least 1/4 cup cheeze and mix thoroughly.
  • Serve with additional cheese, parseley, and black pepper.

    The finished product