Archive | September, 2010

Chilled Cucumber and Arugula Soup

22 Sep

Hi Everyone!

I love this season as we send summer packing and begin to welcome fall. I mean, the heat is still here, but there is a little less sting, if more humidity, to it. I made this soup for the first time for a dinner party to celebrate my momma’s birthday. It is served cold to combat the heat, but combines the end of summer (cucumber) with the beginning of fall (arugula). It is as simple as can be, literally there are 4 ingredients involved here. I got all of the ingredients this morning from Boggy Creek Farm, the cukes are gorgeous and free of any weird waxy coating. I could eat them all day like an apple.  The arugula is tiny and spicy enough that I didn’t need to add pepper to the soup.  So, bust out your blender and throw these things in, let it sit in the fridge for an hour or so and enjoy this for anytime of day.

Arugula and Cucumber Soup

2 c baby arugula

4 c cucumber, chopped

1/2 c White Mountain (or other Bulgarian style) yogurt

2 t salt

a dash of white balsalmic vinegar for garnish

Place all ingredients into the body of a blender. Blend. Taste, season and adjust (that just means add more salt if you need to or pepper if you want). Let chill in the fridge for an hour so the flavors really meld.

*A note on cucumbers- taste the skin before you peel and seed them. If the skin is super bitter, then peel them and remove the seeds. Some varieties have skin that is perfectly fine to eat, the ones I used today are an example, so taste the skin before you peel!

Serve with a sandwich or toast. We will be having Barrie’s whole wheat bread toasted with goat cheese. Yum!

In other news, I spent the early part of last week at the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance conference and it reaffirmed all that I have been exploring and learning in the food world. The farmers, ranchers and presenters were inspiring. These people care deeply for their products and the people they are feeding. They are the heroes of this movement for the long hours they put in and the never-ending list of beaurocratic challenges they face daily. As a bonus, they are doing their level best to preserve our environment and our food sources. They don’t do this to make millions, those are the farmers that tend to make us sick, but for a real care for the animals, our earth, their families and customers. The best way that we can support them is to go to the farmers markets and buy directly from them and when we are shopping in bigger stores to make conscientious decisions about spending our money closer to home. Buy the goat cheese that is made closer to you, not the one from overseas. As a new feature of this blog, I will profile some of these local food heroes, so you can get to know the remarkable people who are feeding us.

As for the consumption challenge, Jo and I are holding strong. We got home from a trip to Maine last night and it took some real willpower to head to the store rather than the taco place, but in the end we were happy to be eating the tacos at home, with the food from sources we know and trust. There are two major observations I want to share with you all. The first thing is that we have really enjoyed communing around our table with our friends and family. Earlier I mentioned the dinner for my mom. It was so nice to celebrate in the intimacy of our home, we didn’t have to fight with loud music (we turned that up when we felt like it) and I am pretty sure my mom and her best friend wouldn’t have danced around  a restaurant dining room the way they did ours. The second thing is that travel takes on a new dimension of excitement since we get to eat out.  We also seek out the local food treasures of the places we visit and revel in the things that are fresh in that part of the world. In Maine we found a sweet little farmers market that had some of the best charcuterie I have had. We made ourselves sick on mussels and lobster, all with less than a mile of travel under their belts and damn they have some good apples there.  So, there you have it. We are happy to be home and I loved getting to spend my morning at Boggy Creek, then in our kitchen.

Thats the sign at Boggy Creek!

As always, thank you for reading.

Not That Martha

Baba, Meet Flat Bread.

8 Sep

Hi Everyone!

Babaganoush, babaganoush. I loved it before I ever had it. I believe it is one of the best words ever to say, I love the way it rolls around in my mouth like a word I made up when I was a kid. I want to name our next pet Baba. And, the stuff is good to boot! I had a very serious moment with Jo this weekend, earnestly telling her how I would miss eggplant when it goes out of season. We have really bonded over the last few months, eggplant and I. This much maligned vegetable is really quite versatile and easy going. It performs very well on the grill and is happy to be roasted with a little olive oil and salt. It can be a steady foundation for caponata or the star of babaganoush. I encourage you all to go grab some eggplant this weekend at your farmers market and have some fun before its season comes to an end.

Babaganoush

3 medium sized eggplant
olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic
1 t tahini
2 T lemon juice
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375
Cut the eggplant in half, rub cut side with oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Put in oven and roast for 25-30 minutes, or until eggplant is super tender.  Let them come to room temp before handling, no burns please. Using a regular kitchen spoon, scoop everything but the skin into the body of a food processor. (this sentence nearly read: scoop the flesh into the body of the … people could really get the wrong idea about this blog!) Drain off excess water. Add tahini, raw garlic and lemon juice. Pulse a couple of times to blend. Taste. Season with salt and pepper. Fresh oregano would be great with this. I like to serve this in a bowl topped with good olive oil and fresh flat bread.

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Flat Bread (adapted from PHAIDON Recipes from an Italian Summer)
5 1/2 c AP flour
2 t. baking powder
1/4 c butter
1 T salt
1-2 c warm water
olive oil, for pan
Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add butter and as much warm water as needed to mix a springy dough, knead until dough is smooth. Set in warm spot in the kitchen, cover and let rise for 30 minutes.
Using a plain old knife or a  bench knife , divide the dough into 12 pieces. Roll them into thin rounds, using a floured surface. Brush a skillet with oil. Add rounds. Cook for a couple of minutes on each side. Serve immediately with the baba. Or, skip this step entirely and use your preferred baba delivery vehicle.
An update on our challenge…Things are going pretty well a week into the consumption challenge. I have had to fight some pretty serious breakfast taco cravings, but the homemade variety are working just great, with the bonus of knowing that I am eating Salmonella free eggs from local farms. I have only caught Jo looking dreamily through the Anthropologie catalogue once. And, together we are tackling a never ending stream of dishes coming from the kitchen. I think that is going to drive me the most crazy.

As always, thanks for reading.
Not That Martha
PS You will notice the upgraded photos are back. A giant thanks to Sarah Wilson for the gorgeousness.
PPS This is me and Sarah Wilson, having some fun with photos and food.

Pesto for Days!

2 Sep

Hi everyone!

So, this is day 2 of our “new year,” the year of eating Texas food at home (this means no restaurants, y’all!) and free of clothes shopping! The first 24 hours were a breeze, fun even. I must admit that I drove down the road assessing restaurants that we passed, I’ll miss that one, not that one, etc. There were many more, in that span of Lamar, that I wouldn’t be missing. I am certain the taco stand cravings will hit anytime now and I’ll keep you posted on my queso withdrawals as they come. It is a tough reality for me that American cheese is neither local or sustainable, but if you have any leads on some, please let me know!

In the spirit of our new challenge, I spent yesterday between Boggy Creek Farm, SFC Austin Farmers Market, Wheatsville and our kitchen. I love days like that. I stocked up on the necessities, olive oil, onions, garlic and basil, basil, basil. This is the time of year when it is gorgeous and abundant. In the spirit of giving us some easy to make meals on the fly, I made batches of pesto to keep in the freezer. It is one of those things that freezes wonderfully and thaws in the time it takes to boil water for the pasta. I couldn’t resist using some fresh pesto in our dinner last night, so we had pasta from Pasta and Co with pesto and roasted veggies. It was quick and delicious, so much so in fact that we had the very same meal for lunch. The pesto is so quick and satisfying to make that if you can get your hands on some basil, I highly recommend making an extra large batch and freezing the rest in plastic baggies for later use.

Basil Pesto

1 big bunch of basil,

1/4 c, pine nuts

3 T, Texas Olive Ranch olive oil

salt to taste

Put all ingredients in a food processor and blend. Start with less olive oil and add as needed. You can always add more, but it is hard to take it out. Seriously, it is that easy and so so good.  Toss with freshly cooked pasta and top with parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Roasted Veggies

1 zucchini

1 squash

1 eggplant

1 cup okra

1-2 cups sunripe tomatoes

Preheat oven to 400. Chop veggies. Toss veggies with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic. Put in oven to roast for about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add this to the top of the pasta for a little more substance.

As always, thank you for reading!

Not That Martha