Thursday, May 29, 2008

Travelling, busy, and...lazy

Last Saturday was a wonderful day at the Greenmarket, but despite having Sunday off for Memorial Day, I never got around to photographing or documenting my haul. I did find a new favorite vegetable of the minute, pea shoots, which I like to eat raw. They taste a bit like grass but more like what they are - a fresh, juicy precursor to wonderful sweet peas.

Most everything else was the usual stuff - zucchini, kale, ramps, asparagus - but I also have conquered my fear of collard greens. We had some braised quickly in class that I just loved, so I have been trying to recreate them at home. I've had varying levels of success, but every time I have them, my collards craving heightens. Now that I've run out for the week, I'm not sure what to do.

This Saturday I'm going to a friend's engagement brunch, so no USG for me...but if I can motivate early tomorrow, I might try to swing by on my way to work for staples. Adding the Natural Gourmet as well as a wonderful Wednesday night meditation class to what was already a busy-feeling schedule has made my spare time next to nonexistent. But I don't feel stressed because everything I'm involved in right now is so positive.

Next week I may try sauteed pea shoots with an omelet. And maybe, just maybe, I'll get some fava beans soon! I can't wait.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

You might want to sit down for this.

Last night in class, I ate mushrooms...and I liked them!!

We also spent about four hours talking about vegetables, which was pretty much a dream come true. Things have started to get interesting.

No greenmarket this week, because I'm going to the UK for All Tomorrow's Parties. Wish me luck finding food.

(photo from Flickr - Ex Libris's photostream)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Quiche and tell

After a lovely greenmarket morning on Saturday (marred only slightly by the bushels of flowers flinging eye-burning pollen around everywhere), I had brunch with friends at our new favorite brunch spot, the never-crowded-enough Old Devil Moon, and spent the rest of the afternoon making quiche with Kara, in honor of Mother's Day.

Pretty much the same as last week, with a "berry" important addition:
3 lbs. asparagus
1 bunch ramps
2 1/2 lbs. zucchini
1 bag spinach
1 box sprouts (sunflower and red clover)
1 box raspberries!!!!!
4 apples (Winesap and Mutsu)
Total spent: $41.10

We ate the raspberries during quiche prep. They were greenhouse-raised and $6.50 a (tiny) box, but so delicious. I made my quiche with a pre-made whole-wheat crust (sorry, Mom, I was so lazy), Knoll Crest Farm eggs, Lynnhaven goat cheese, soymilk, a little heavy cream, ramps, and blanched asparagus. When I served it this morning for brunch, I sprinkled a bit of shredded Parmesan on each slice and heated them separately under the broiler; this plus a bit of freshly-ground black pepper turned out to be just the thing.

I think quiche may be my new favorite meal. It's great to make in advance, can be done relatively healthfully, and is so versatile! I'm already planning my next one: Lynnhaven's goat feta, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil, and spinach or zucchini. And yes, I'll make the crust homemade next time.

We used this Epicurious recipe, as well as the recipe from Baking Illustrated as our guides, then improvised. Here's the recipe I came up with - next time I'd use about 1/4 more cheese though, and prebake the pie crust. Also, I plan to omit the cream, adding extra cheese and another egg yolk to keep the texture.

Springtime Vegetable Quiche
1 pie crust
3 large or 6 small ramps, white part sliced thinly and leaves cut into 3/4" wide pieces
1 tsp. olive oil
6 eggs
1 1/3 cups soymilk
1/3 cup heavy cream
3 oz. goat cheese
1 1/2 cups asparagus, cut into 1" pieces, blanched
1/2 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper

Saute white part of ramps in olive oil until soft; add leaves and cook until wilted. Set aside to cool. Whisk together eggs, soymilk, cream, salt, and goat cheese; add several grinds of pepper. Arrange asparagus pieces evenly in crust. Add cooled ramps to egg mixture and stir; pour egg mixture into crust. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until light golden brown; center should be just set and a knife inserted into the center should come out clean.
Note: If you have extra egg mixture after filling your crust, you can pour it into greased ramekins and bake them for cute crustless mini-quiches. This is also a good way to taste-test your quiche mixture before baking the whole thing. Not that I am forward-thinking enough to have done that, but you could do.

As for the rest of it, I'm planning to make another springtime vegetable risotto with the remaining ramps, as well as zucchini and asparagus; though the asparagus (from Terhune Orchards) is so good on its own, simply blanched, that it might end up gone before I get around to risotto. We've been eating the zucchini raw in lunches, with hummus for the photo assistant, and of course cooked in every possible dish. I think I'll make pasta with spicy zucchini sauce this week too.

Saturday, May 03, 2008


Though last week was really my first visit of the season to a bountiful Greenmarket and requisite enthusiasm, it was a harried, hurried morning, and I ended up buying far fewer vegetables than I needed. But it gave me something to look forward to all week, knowing that asparagus, ramps, and other green and leafy wonders would be there for the taking. This is what got me out of bed by 7:30 this morning.

Welcome back, tired shoulders:
1.5 lbs. asparagus
1 bunch curly parsley
3 lbs. zucchini
1 bag spinach (at least 2 lbs.)
1 bunch curly kale
1 bunch ramps
3 lbs. Mutsu apples
Total spent: $42.50

And as the photo indicates, everything's green! One greenhouse grower had some tomatoes, which I skipped because I'm experimenting with lower my nightshade intake at the moment, and a few vendors had early rhubarb, which I skipped because I have no idea what to do with it; everyone else had cooking greens, ramps, salad greens, asparagus, zucchini. Though I've been really jonesing for carrots for the past few weeks, the joy of an overflowing vegetable crisper will carry me through until they arrive.

My friend Mark asked me yesterday if I could include some more breakfast recipes on Produce Stories - and mentioned that he is not a fan of omelets. (I love omelets, but they are a bit stressful, and even when perfectly cooked, I admit they don't thrill me the way they seem to thrill some.) Because I'm not the sweet breakfast type, I'm sticking with eggs, and recommending a frittata, which is what I'm going to make with most of the plate above: inside will be ramps and zucchini, sauteed together, and some Lynnhaven Farms feta, and I'll serve a few spears of blanched asparagus and some tender baby greens on the side.

Food Blogga has a good basic frittata recipe - the key is to keep the egg moving while it's on the stovetop, to avoid uneven cooking and dryness. And of course, like anything cooked under the broiler, keep an eye on the frittata to avoid burning. Like omelets, frittatas are very versatile, but they allow for a bit more flexibility in amount and type of filling, and a bit less precision, which is nice in the morning, especially pre-coffee.

If I had any bread in the house I'd serve this with toast, but I don't, so I won't. Potatoes would go well, too, but they're nightshades, so they're out too. Cold frittatas are really good leftover, too - when I studied abroad in Italy, we would often have slices of cold potato frittata in our packed lunches, which I loved.

Almost as exciting as fresh things returning to the Greenmarket is that I had my first day at culinary school on Tuesday! It was a bit of a non-event, mostly talking about procedures, protocols, and rules (apparently federally-accredited trade schools require all sorts of policies and procedures to maintain this status), filling out forms, etc. But tomorrow is my first full day (starts a 9 a.m, sigh), and we'll be starting knife work and have to wear our uniforms. More on this later!