Friday, June 30, 2006

Several hours later...

I love it when my dinner looks like it should be in a magazine! And I think baby bok choy might be my new favorite vegetable. That's brown rice - I used to think it made stir-fry too earthy, but lately I've decided that eating white rice is like eating Wonder bread.

Union Square Greenmarket 6/30: Heartbreak & Triumph

Heartbreak: no strawberries. Triumph: cherries!

My whole haul:
1 cousa squash
1 avocado squash
1 bag asst. baby lettuces
1 bunch carrots
3 tomatoes
1 lb. cherries
1/2 lb. sugar snap peas
3 heads baby bok choy
1 container cat grass
total spent: $25

(photos, top to bottom, Sears Portrait Studio-style: baby lettuces (adorable!), baby bok choy, cherries, avocado squash (L) & cousa squash)

Depressingly picked-over by 2:30 p.m. I guess lots of folks had today off? I'd say "tourists," but what tourist visiting NYC buys produce?

Plans include stir-fry (carrots, avocado squash - I'm hooked!, and bok choy); salads (lettuce, obvs), probably saute the cousa squash, and maybe I'll braise the sugar snap peas...I'm not sure - they were an impulse buy, and I'm not overly fond of them raw. They're apparently quite abundant in NY-area farms, since pretty much every stand had some. The rest of the carrots will be made into carrot sticks for lunches - while I liked the roasted ones, it's too dismally hot here lately to heat up the oven.

Despite the cat-grass people's testimonials, my cats have shown zero interest in the cat grass.

Basil plant update: not looking good. We haven't had any sunshine all week, so it's looking pretty bedraggled. Hopefully that will improve once I re-pot.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Stir-fry report: zucchini casualty, avocado squash is a winner! Also: roasted carrots.

Saturday night we had stir-fry. I used the excellent Cook’s Illustrated recipe, using tofu, broccoli, and both the avocado and Asian squash.

(CI’s brilliant way to stir-fry tofu, no draining/pressing necessary: cut a block of firm tofu in half, then cut each half into twelve triangles; coat each piece in cornstarch on all sides, then fry in 3 tbsp. vegetable oil – make it hot! – for 4-6 minutes per side, ‘til golden brown. It’s so delicious!)

I used the exotic squashes because I knocked the bowl of seeded/chopped zucchini onto the floor and ruined it. This was lucky, though, because avocado squash is perfect for stir-frying – it’s drier than zucchini, so you can forego tedious seeding and just chop it. The flavor is similar to zucchini, but a bit more intense. The Asian squash tasted almost exactly like zucchini, but had way more seeds – not great for stirfry, but probably good for baking/roasting.

Speaking of roasting, last night I roasted some of the carrots:
1-2 cups carrots, chopped into one-inch chunks
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 425. Arrange carrots in roasting pan. Whisk together honey and olive oil (adjust honey amount if your carrots are very sweet or very bland), pour over carrots, and stir until all pieces are evenly coated. Roast for about 20 minutes (or until brown and caramelized), turning pieces once or twice during roasting.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Fresh tomato sauce update, and baby lettuce report

The uncooked pasta sauce turned out delicious, but next time I'll add the salt just before serving - it makes the tomatoes expel juice, which makes things watery. The 10-15 minutes water-boiling and pasta-cooking time is enough time to let your fresh sauce sit so the flavors combine...then toss it with hot pasta just before serving.

In salad news, farm-fresh organic baby lettuce is not just ADORABLE, but it really does taste better than regular old store-bought bag salad mix. I have a real love-hate relationship with salad, but I do eat it every day, so lettuce leaves with legitimate flavor beyond just salad dressing is a treat. And the baby lettuce was fresh and didn't get all slimy in the refrigerator overnight. (The best thing in the world to add to salad? Trader Joe's Sweet and Spicy Pecans. They are totally delicious...and they add protein to make the thing more of a meal.)

Also, here's a near-pornographic shot of the other tomato before I sliced into it with my laughably dull chef's knife, and ate it plain with salt and pepper. (The whole deliciousness of fresh, ripe tomatoes thing is a cliche for a reason, people.)

Basil plant status: still alive.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Union Square Greenmarket, this afternoon

1 pint locally-grown strawberries
2 ripe tomatoes
2 zucchini
1 avocado squash
1 asian squash
1 bag assorted baby lettuces
1 head broccoli
1 bunch carrots
1 bunch shallots
1 basil plant

total spent: $21

The strawberries are so amazing. I don't think I've had delicious strawberries like this in years. I want to go back tomorrow for more, since I know I'll eat them all tonight.

We'll see how things go with the basil plant. I've got it in the front window - the least cat-menaced one - and I'll re-pot the plant next week. As far as the tomatoes, I've made a fresh pasta sauce to capitalize on their ripeness. I was going to add garlic, but it seemed like overkill.

Uncooked pasta sauce for extremely-fresh tomatoes:
1 ripe tomato
5 fresh basil leaves
olive oil
Chop tomato and mince basil leaves. Toss all ingredients to combine in small bowl. Serve over spaghettini or capellini.

Next time there will be photos!