Couscous Salad with Spinach Pesto

I had no real intention of posting about this salad. Really, I didn’t. But when I needed a dish to bring to a potluck end-of-the-schoolyear party I threw this together. I’m not sure any of the kids tried it, but the adults loved it and I got several requests for the recipe. So I guess it is worth posting after all.

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Carrot and Fennel Salad

I don’t usually post side dishes. Most of the food featured here tends to be the main course. This time, however, I decided to deviate from the norm (whatever that means for me) and write about what we had with the grilled chicken. Originally I was just going to make a salad with chicken over it as we got a LOT of lettuce this week in our CSA box. But we also got some early carrots and fennel. Now I’m not the biggest fennel fan, but using the carrots’s sweetness and the tartness of an orange and olive oil dressing to offset the anise flavor that can really overpower a dish… well… it works for me.

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Gimme a beet

A roasted beet is a lovely thing. A little sweet, meaty, and, well… red. Or orange, if that’s the way you roll. Certainly the taste isn’t all that different. They’re very easy to prepare, these lovely things, and can be used in a lot of different applications. I like to chill and cut them into “rustic” chunks and toss them in salads with, oh, let’s say toasted walnuts and goat cheese… or orange sections — that’d be good. Or you could slice them up and serve with steak. Beef loves a good beet. You could also pickle them, make borsht, or just serve with dill, sour cream and some potato pancakes (though the sour cream would turn pink). The one down side, and, believe me, there is only one, is that your hands, cutting board, shirt — anything that comes in contact with them will stain. Its just something you have to deal with. And it is worth it. If you’ve got an hour or so where you can just be around the house it is something that mostly takes care of itself. Just don’t fold your whites directly after you are done.

Unless you really like pink.

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Farm fresh

Today starts our CSA share. CSA, for those who don’t know, stands for Community Supported Agriculture. It means that  at the beginning of the year you buy into a share in a farm’s harvest and then get a box of produce every week during that year’s harvest. You also have to work a little. In our CSA, you volunteer to work for the organization by helping out on the distribution end in some way, whether it be by manning the distribution center from time to time to transporting any leftovers to charitable organizations to any number of jobs. Part of the fun is that you really never know what you’ll get until it is posted online by the farm itself – in the case of the vegetables and some fruit, Golden Earthworm Organic Farm out in Jamesport, Long Island. The rest of our fruit share comes from Briarmere Farms in Riverhead. We’ve been a member of the Forest Hills CSA for three years now and absolutely love it. In this post and many to follow I’ll be writing about what we get and what I’ve done with it. It can be a wonderful challenge and sometimes you get to try things you’d have never tried if you were just walking through the produce section of your supermarket. It is awfully fun and it is great to know you are eating some of the very best food around.

The first thing I made with our haul this week was a recipe I found online that was a variation on a standard French child’s after-school snack. Breakfast radishes on toast with sweet cream butter and salt. Now as lovely as that is… the recipe that follows turned out to be a really nice variation.

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Chicken for my brother

At around 7 am this morning, my brother gave me a call because he was picking out a pinot noir at Publix for a dinner that he was having this evening. Having tried to give him some advice on the direction he should consider on that front he mentioned to me that his dinner companion would be bringing chicken to his house for cooking. Usually people say no red wine with white meat, but that’s not always true. As with any rule, they are really there as guidelines and truly great food (or design — my other thing) is based on knowing when and how to break those rules. To that end, I’ve decided to try to help by creating a recipe that will pair a pinot (tragically that I’ve not tasted) with chicken. I’ve also not actually tried this recipe (though I’ve had something similar), so I’ll have to wait for the comments section to see if this turned out all right — and a real photo.

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Sweet Potato Fries

French fries are a wonderful thing. Crisp and golden on the outside, hot and steamy on the inside. Steak or thin cut doesn’t matter… they are a crowd pleaser.

Here we have sweet potatoes. You don’t get this very often around here… generally it has to come from a restaurant that specializes in southern style foods, barbecue, soul food, etc.. There are even quite good chips made out of the orange jewels of the earth. In their raw form, they are really quite readily available. Other than baking them, which is nothing to turn your nose up at, we generally don’t know what to do with them. But really, just about anything a potato can do, so too can the sweet potato. Today I share a sweet potato fries recipe… there will be others.

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Butternut Squash, a side dish

Butternut Squash

I had originally intended to have a post about Five Spice Fried Chicken with Quinoa and Roasted Butternut Squash, but really, the squash was the most blogworthy. If anyone is interested in the Five Spice Fried Chicken (which is really just fried chicken bites with Asian five spice instead of a secret army officer’s mix of herbs and spices) please let me know via comments and I’ll post it next.

At any rate, the butternut squash turned out quite well and is pictured alongside the rest of it’s plate-mates below.

Five Spice Fried Chicken with Quinoa and Roasted Butternut Squash

Roasted Butternut Squash
adapted from Jamie Oliver

1 butternut squash

1 healthy pinch of kosher salt

1-2 tsp ground cinnamon

1-2 tsp ground coriander

1/4 olive oil

Preheat your oven to 350º. Prepare a baking sheet by covering it in aluminum foil.

Peel and cut the squash into 1″ cubes. Place into a large bowl along with the oil, salt and spices. Spread the coated squash on the baking sheet and cook for 45 minutes to an hour. Serve.

Pretty darned easy… and tasty too!