Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sautéed Komatsuna with Basil

I got some komatsuna in my CSA veggies today.  It is soooooo delicious prepared this way!  The instructions are from a blog called Chubby Bunny Recipes.  Last time I made it, I ate the whole pan myself, on top of some brown rice.  I was in heaven! (Komatsuna is a typical Japanese leafy vegetable. It is often called Japanese Mustard Spinach in the US supermarkets. Young leaves, stalks and flower shoots are used in salad and stir-fry.) I think this recipe would work for any green--spinach, kale, etc.

2 tsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/3 cup (2 ounces) pine nuts
10 ounces komatsuna leaves
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 cups basil leaves
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the pine nuts and cook until lightly golden, about 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium and add the spinach, salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons of water. Cover and cook, tossing occasionally with tongs, until spinach wilts, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the basil and toss until it wilts, about 1 minute. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Olcott Beach

We went to a birthday party at Krull Park, and then went next door to an old-fashioned amusement park with kids rides for $.25!  It was a gorgeous day.  I love summers in New York!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Kelkenberg Farm Tour

Today we went to Kelkenberg Farms to do a farm tour!  We got to see bunnies, goats, horses, ponies, turkeys, chickens, pigs, and cats.  Livvy actually helped milk a goat (she told us once she wanted to be a goat farmer so she could milk her own goats and make goat cheese, which she loves).  Hannah practiced her "pig squeal" imitation and has gotten it down perfectly.  We went with a group of homeschooling moms and kids from the Buffalo area.  It was great fun!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Free-form Plum Crostata

I just made this yesterday, absolutely loved it. I added a nectarine and a peach, since I didn't quite have enough plums. You really need the dark purple oblong Italian plums for it to taste the best. I tried a plum tart with the regular round plums at the store and didn't like it much. This turned out beautifully! I wish I'd taken a picture! I rolled out the crust between two sheets of Saran Wrap (it's so tender, I don't think I could have made it work with flour on the counter). Enjoy!


For the crostata dough (about 9 ounces):

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons very cold butter
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons very cold (icy) water
  • Flour for rolling

For the fruit filling:

  • 1½ pounds small Italian prune plums or other ripe fruit
  • Freshly grated zest of a medium lemon
  • 2 tablespoons apricot jam
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut in pieces

For the sweetened bread crumbs:

  • ½ cup fine dry bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons zucchero di canna or white sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

For serving (optional):

  • Whipped cream
  • Vanilla ice cream

Recommend equipment:

  • A baking stone or oven tiles
  • Baking parchment
  • A large baking sheet, 12 by 18 inches or similar size


Making the dough:

Put the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, and process for a few seconds to mix the dry ingredients.

Cut the butter into 1/2-inch pieces, drop them onto the flour, and pulse the machine ten or twelve times, in short bursts, 20 seconds in all. The mixture should be crumbly, with only a few larger bits of butter visible.

Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of water on top of the dough; immediately pulse about six times, only a second or two each time. You want the crumbs to gether together in wet clusters, a bit like cottage-cheese curds--don't expect a mass of dough to form. if they haven't gathered, sprinkle on ore water, a teaspoon at a time, and pulse two or three times after each.

When the clusters form, scrape them all out of the bowl, press them together, and knead just for a few seconds to form a smooth, tight dough. Flatten it into a disk, wrap well in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 3 hours or up to a day before using. Freeze the dough for longer keeping.

(If the crumbs haven't clustered after you've added 4 tablespoons of water, open the top and press them with your fingers; if they're wet and stick together, just empty the bowl and press them into a disk of dough.)

Making the filling and rolling the dough:

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven with a baking stone on it, if you have one. Preheat the oven to 375°. If the crostata dough is very cold, let it soften at room temperature for a few minutes while you make the filling.

Rinse the plums and pat dry. Cut them in flat halves, following the natural line around the fruit through the stem end, and remove the pits. Toss the halves with the lemon zest, apricot jam, and butter bits in a mixing bowl. (If you’re making the crostata with large plums or fruit like peaches or nectarines, cut in quarters or wedges.)

Toss the bread crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon together.

On a lightly floured board, start stretching the dough into a circle, rolling from the center in all directions. Turn the dough over as it stretches, and flour the work surface as needed.

Cut a piece of parchment that will cover your baking sheet. Roll the circle of dough to a diameter of 15 inches, and lay it, centered, on the parchment. Now trim the outside edges of the dough, with a sharp knife or scissors, cutting away ragged or thin spots and making as perfect a round as you can, since this edge will be visible on the top of your crostata. Keep the circle at least 13 inches in diameter. Lift the parchment with the dough on it to the baking sheet.

Filling and baking the crostata:

Sprinkle about 1/3 cup of the bread-crumb mix in a 7-to-9-inchdiameter circle in the center of the dough, as a base for the fruit. The bread crumbs will soak up the juices, so if you have very ripe and juicy fruit (like peaches) use more crumbs, to form a thicker layer; if using a drier fruit, like apricots, use less crumbs.

Arrange the coated plum halves, cut side up, on top of the crumb base. I place them in concentric rings, starting from the outside, and lean each inner ring on the plums just outside. In this manner, with a larger, 8- or 9-inch base of crumbs, you should be able to fit all the plums in one layer, for a crostata with an even height. If the crumb base is smaller, you’ll need to pile up the fruit. This will give the crostata more of a dome shape.

When you’ve assembled your fruit in the middle of the dough, fold the uncovered band of pastry on top of the fruit. The width of the band will vary with your arrangement of the plums, but you should have at least 2½ inches of dough to form the pleated top crust.

Finally, sprinkle 1 or more tablespoons of sugared bread crumbs over the visible fruit in the center. As before, use more crumbs on juicy fruit. If you have any left over, sprinkle them over the pleated dough.

Put the baking sheet with the crostata in the oven, on the stone if using one, and bake for 25 minutes; rotate the pan back to front for even cooking. Continue baking, and check the browning of the crust after 40 minutes: it should be light gold. If it is getting quite dark, you may need to lay a piece of foil on top. Bake for another 15 minutes or more, until the fruit is bubbling and has caramelized on the edges. If you’ve filled the crostata with a mound of fruit, you’ll probably want to bake it more than an hour—and cover the top—to make sure all the fruit is cooked.

Let the crostata cool on the baking sheet for about 15 minutes or more before lifting it, with the parchment, to a wire rack to continue cooling. When it has set, slide it off the parchment, supported by long spatulas, onto a platter.

Serve warm or at room temperature, cut into wedges, with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if you wish.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ginger Cookies

Some of the best ginger cookies (not gingersnaps, but close) I've ever had.

Makes 2 1/2 dozen 2 1/2-inch cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 t. baking soda
2 t. ground ginger
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. allspice
1/2 t. salt
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1/3 cup molasses

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, spices and salt. Set aside

Beat the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer or by hand; add 1/2 cup of the sugar, the brown sugar, and beat until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the egg, followed by the molasses, and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl. On low speed add the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 and set the oven rack to the middle position.

Roll the dough into 3/4-inch balls and roll them in the remaining sugar. Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, 2 to 3 inches apart. Bake until golden, about 12 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes, then remove the cookies from the pan.

An Easy Baked Tofu

Taken from "Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health," one of my favorite cookbooks.

1 cake of extra-firm or firm tofu (about 16 oz.)
2 T. dark sesame oil
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. ketchup

Cut the tofu into bite-sized cubes and place in an unoiled baking dish large enough to hold a single layer. Stir together the sesame oil, soy sauce, and ketchup and drizzle over the tofu. With a rubber spatula, gently turn to coat thoroughly. In a 400 degree oven, bake uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the tofu is browned, firm, and chewy. Serve hot, at room temperature, or chilled.

Japanese Lunchbox Salad (with Baked Tofu)

Taken from "Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health," it says "This may be the quickest, simplest way to enjoy many of the flavors you might find in a Japanese bento box." I love this salad, and the baked tofu recipe following is great in lots of way--on sandwiches, salads, and stirfries.

Lemon Ginger Dressing

2 T. peanut oil or vegetable oil
2 T. lemon juice
1 T. soy sauce
1 T. dry sherry
1 T. grated peeled ginger root
1 garlic clove, minced


4 cups loosely packed salad greens, baby spinach, or frisee
2 cups cooked brown rice
16 oz. seasoned tofu, sliced or cubed (see note)
1 cup carrot matchsticks
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 ripe hass avocado
2 t. toasted sesame seeds or ground flaxseeds

1. In a blender, whirl all of the dressing ingredients until smooth.

2. On a large platter or on individual serving plates, spread out the greens and mound the rice in the center. Arrange the tofu, carrots, and tomatoes on the greens and rice.

3. Just before serving, slice around the avocado lengthwise, twist the halves apart, and remove the pit. Cut the flesh in to thin slices right in the skin, scoop the slices out with a serving spoon, and place them on the salad. Drizzle the dressing on the salad. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

Note: Seasoned tofu is a ready-to-eat product found in the refrigerator case of many supermarkets. Or use Baked Tofu (see below).