Swiss Chard with Balsamic Butter

Another boom of Swiss Chard from the CSA and from my garden is making me scramble for recipes.  This one comes from Susie Middleton’s Fast, Fresh & Green which, in my opinion, is one of the greatest veggie recipe books around.  I like that it uses both the leaves and the stems; especially if you have “Bright Lights” chard – with its array of jewel-like colors, it makes a very pretty dish, as well as a tasty one.

So yesterday I made a huge batch of Debbie’s vanilla-and-cardamom baked squash, using a Butternut from the CSA and two Delicatas from my garden. Tonight I made it into soup, using the basic two-two-two recipe for all my Cream of Whatever soups, and it was outstanding with the Swiss chard on the side, with some garlic bread.  Jeeps actually put the chard on the bread and ate it like a crostini.

A perfect Autumnal Equinox supper, if I do say so.


Susie Middleton’s Swiss Chard with Balsamic Butter

  • 1 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar (mine is this fabulous strawberry balsamic that Jeeps’ partner Steve gave us for Christmas)
  • 1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 3/4 tsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 bunch Swiss Chard with stems
  • 1 tbsp peanut oil (really try to get peanut oil, it’s worth it)
  • 2 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts (optional; Jeeps doesn’t like them so I kept them on the side)
  • Kosher salt

In a small bowl, combine the balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, and brown sugar.  Set aside

Wash and dry the chard.  Pull or cut the stems away from the chard leaves.  Cut or rip the leaves into 2- to 3-inch pieces.  Slice the stems crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces.

In a small skillet or pan, toast the pine nuts over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.  Really babysit them because they will burn in a second.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  When oil is hot, add the chard stems with a pinch of salt and cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the garlic and stir until fragrant.

Add the chard leaves and 1/2 tsp Kosher salt.  Using tongs, toss the chard leaves in the pan until wilted down.  Scrape the balsamic mixture into the pan, stir, and remove the pan from the heat.  Add the butter and toss and stir until it’s melted.  Fold in half the pine nuts.

Transfer the chard, stems, and cooking liquid to a small serving bowl and garnish with remaining pine nuts.


Picked up the July/August edition of Martha Stewart Living yesterday.  I haven’t flipped through one in a while…really it just does too spectacular a job of making me suffer from “someone is always doing it cooler”.   And Martha has become so freaking ubiquitous, everywhere from Home Depot to KMart.  But I had to do a late run to CVS and what the hell, I’ll get a couple of magazines to go with the pint of Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Swiss Almond I planned to sneak into the freezer and eat at midnight without sharing.

20130715-200310.jpgWell, anyway, Martha (or whoever works for her) came up trumps with a recipe for swiss chard slaw.  Between my garden and the CSA, I have chard and kale out the wazoo, and desperately need new ways to use them.  Martha’s recipe had torn toasted English muffins in it, as well as cantaloupe and a scallion dressing.  I didn’t follow it to the leetter, just took inspiration, mugged the garden, and improvised something similar for lunch today, which Jeeps and I ate with leftover grilled chicken.   It’s crunchy and delicious, and if you grow “Bright Lights” swiss chard, it’s a very pretty, colorful dish as well.

Dinner rolled around and Jeeps was putting salmon under the broiler.  “Can you make that slaw again?” he asked.  After the mugging there wasn’t much chard left, so I filled in with kale.  Just as good.  In fact it was too good:  I made just enough for me and Jeeps, went to set the table, and came back to the kitchen to find Panda eating it out of the bowl with her fingers.  “Hey, you’re not supposed to like that!” I cried.  “It’s kale!”

Damn kids…

Damn Swiss Chard Slaw


All measurements are completely eyeballed

  • 20130715-200251.jpg1 bunch swiss chard or kale or mix of both
  • 4-5 sprigs of parsley, chopped
  • 2-3 scallions, chopped
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1 glug mayonnaise
  • 1 swirl of sesame oil
  • 1 splash of sesame seeds

Cut the stems off the chard and reserve.  Cut the leaves into chiffonade – pile a few leaves, roll them up like a cigar, cut across with your knife into ribbons and dump in the bowl.  Repeat.

Take the chard stems, cut into 2-3″ lengths, then carefully cut in half or thirds lengthwise to make matchsticks.  NOTE:  do not do this with kale stems.

Add rest of ingredients to bowl, combine and toss until well-coated.  Serve with something, pile it on toasted bread, or just eat out of the bowl.

Fava Bean Salad

20130414-212305.jpgI posted about fava beans before.  Prepping them is a little labor intensive but they are so, so good, and this salad, pinned from Whole Living, is just dynamite –  bright, fresh and full of spring.  I made it last night with Bouchons au Thon and roasted potatoes and there wasn’t a scrap left.

I used my own vinaigrette instead of the garlicky dressing shown below, although it does sound delicious.  And I had no feta cheese; I had crumbled goat cheese but I’m the only one who likes it, so it ended up being cheeseless.

Fava Bean Salad (with Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette)

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1 head garlic, 1/2 inch cut off top to reveal cloves
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup (2 ounces) walnuts, toasted and chopped

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the salad:

  • 1 pound shucked fresh fava beans (from 3 pounds pods; 3 1/2 cups)
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears of corn)
  • 1 medium cucumber, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Make the vinaigrette: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle garlic with 1 teaspoon oil. Wrap in parchment, then in foil. Bake until soft, about 30 minutes. Squeeze garlic from skins. Mash until smooth.

Whisk together the remaining ingredients with 1 tablespoon of the roasted garlic and remaining 2 teaspoons oil.

20130414-212248.jpgMake the salad: Prepare an ice-water bath. Cook beans in a large pot of boiling water for 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer beans to ice-water bath. Let cool completely, and remove with the slotted spoon. Cook corn in same pot for 1 minute, and drain in a colander. Peel thin shells off beans.

Toss cucumber, onion, parsley, feta, beans, and corn with the vinaigrette.


With a nice chiaaaaaaanti.

Sweet Potato Quinoa Burgers

OK I had great intentions, but these veggie burgers didn’t quite come out the way I wanted them to.  Taste got a 10; Texture got a 3.  They were not burger-y at all so something went wrong somewhere (I have a few ideas), or it’s one of those recipes you have to fiddle around with.  But again, as far as taste goes, these knocked it out of the park so I feel they are worth another try.

To make up for them being less than stellar, I’m including a brussel sprout-and-radish slaw that I shamelessly stole/copied from Mezon in Danbury, where we went with friends the other night for Tapas.  Taaaapaaaaas!  I love tapas.  In fact I have dreams of taking the best of my scribbles (like Heaven, FlightRain, Needle, Smack, Fast, and Blue) and compiling them in a collection called “Tapas”.  Because they’re just little bites but they fill you up.

Or so I like to think.

20130422-203610.jpgAnyway.  One of our tapas was served with this slaw that was so good, I had to try to re-create it.  I just made a little, thinking that only Jeeps and I would eat it.  But no, Panda kept dipping her spoon in and so did her friend who was over for dinner.  These dang kids, you can never figure their tastes out.

Go Figure Sweet Potato Quinoa Burgers

  • 1 can (15 ounces) no salt added black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups peeled and cubed sweet potatoes (I think I screwed up here because instead of measuring 3 cups of raw, cubed sweet potato and then steaming that amount, I measured 3 cups of steamed mashed sweet potato)
  • 3/4 cup sweet corn, frozen or fresh
  • 1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa (I didn’t screw up here; cook the quinoa first, then measure 1/2 cup)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Heaping 1/3 cup garbanzo bean flour, or finely ground rolled oats, or almond flour (I had none of these things but I did have almond meal.  Maybe it contributed to the mushy texture, maybe it didn’t)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • Fresh black pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)
  • 1 tbsp hot sauce20130422-203710.jpg

Fill a large pot 3/4 full of water and bring to a boil on the stove.  Add the sweet potatoes and lower the heat to simmering.  Let the potatoes cook for about 20-30 minutes.  Drain the potatoes and set aside to cool.  (You can also steam the potatoes in the microwave.)

While your potatoes are cooling preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or non stick foil.

Once your potatoes have cooled use a fork to mash them.  You want them mashed but not creamy.

In a large mixing bowl add half of the black beans and mash them with a fork.

Add the rest of the beans and the remaining ingredients.  Stir until just combined.  Form the mixture into 10 balls.  Each burger should be about 1/2″ thick.  Place each patty on your prepared baking sheet and place in the oven for 30 minutes, flipping the burgers over once halfway through baking.

20130422-203652.jpg  20130422-203631.jpg

Remove from the oven and serve.

I made the slaw by running 8 brussels sprouts and 4 radishes through the shredding disk on the food processor.  Then I dressed it with lime juice, mayonnaise, and chopped cilantro.  Raw brussies are bitter, so after combining all that, I started adding squeezes of honey and tasting until it was the perfect blend of sweet and sour.  You’ll know when you get it right.


Golden Beet and (Green Bean) Salad

You have to laugh at yourself….because you’d cry your eyes out if you didn’t.

beetsIt’s spring, which means beets. For those of you with beet issues, just leave the post now, because I love them in a very prejudiced way and I don’t have time for non-believers.

DeCicco’s always has beautiful produce and on my last trip they had gorgeous, fat, golden beets, which are my very favorite of all beets. I’d had my eye on this golden beet and green bean salad I pinned from Martha Stewart. I remembered to grab crumbled goat cheese and I swear, I swear I bought two bags of French green beans – one for Easter, and one for the salad.

I must have made both bags on Easter because after I’d roasted the beets and had the water boiling to blanch the beans, I went to the fridge and…no beans. What? Of course there are beans, I bought two bags because I knew I was making this salad! No! No this is not happening!

You know that thing where you search the fridge thoroughly for something you know is there. But it’s not. But you keep going back to the fridge and searching again? In weird places like the butter drawer? Yeah, so anyway, once I was convinced that there were no beans to be had, I kicked myself around the kitchen a couple times but then the show had to go on. I regrouped by roasting some asparagus and it worked out fine, it was delicious. Just imagine it’s very fat green beans, OK?

20130405-120902.jpgOne other thing: I usually roast beets wrapped in foil, but pressed for time, I cut them into 1″ dice and roasted them direct on the baking sheet at 425. This is fine, but in small dice at high temp they will caramelize very quickly, and once you smell burning sugar, it’s just a wee bit too late. Jeeps and I ate the really scorched ones and left the pretties for the photo shoot. It’s all good really.

Golden Beet and Fat Green Bean Salad

  • 6 large golden beets
  • 6 ounces haricots verts, trimmed and cut in thirds
  • Coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot (from 1 shallot)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed torn fresh basil, plus small leaves for garnish
  • 2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 425. Peel and trim beets and cut into 1″ dice.

20130405-120833.jpg  20130405-120851.jpg

Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, spread on baking sheet, and roast for 10 minutes. Shake the sheet to redistribute and roast another 10 minutes. Watch carefully to avoid burning. (Alternatively you can wrap the beets in foil and roast for about an hour). Transfer beets to a large bowl.

Cook haricots verts in boiling salted water until bright green and crisp tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer to ice-water bath, and drain. Add to beets.

Mix vinegar, shallot, and mustard in a small bowl. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until emulsified. Toss with vegetables, and season with salt and pepper. Stir in torn basil and goat cheese. Garnish with basil leaves.  I added some pine nuts as well.  It’s a salad, there are no rules.




Orange Couscous Supreme

Trawling the leftovers from my local library’s annual Book Sale (“Free!” said the sign, “Help Yourselves!”) I found Kim Sunée’s Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love and the Search for Home.    I took it down to Lavallette with me and I really, really wanted to love this book.  It started out very promising, with sumptuous descriptions of the cuisines of New Orleans, Stockholm and France.  But halfway through, I was becoming annoyed with Keem.  Three-quarters through I wanted to smack her.  By the end I was just skimming from recipe to recipe.  The food was amazing but frankly I couldn’t stomach any more of her search for home.

Anyway, one recipe that immediately jumped out at me was an orange couscous salad.  It sounded perfect beach house fare.  It was mine and Jeeps’ night to cook dinner for 14: we had chicken breasts marinating in Ken’s Steakhouse dressing, and shrimp marinating separately for kebabs.  My brother-in-law was out crabbing and undoubtedly would be bringing in a catch.


I thought the couscous salad would go great with the mixed grill so I ran out to the local A & P to gather ingredients and whipped it up.  It was a little labor-intensive but all-in-all a great success.  Even my brother-in-law, who is no fan of couscous, liked it a lot.  And he wasn’t just being nice.

I doubled the recipe given below, skipped some things and added others.  It’s one of those dishes that you make by the recipe once and then improvise ever after.  And you’ll notice that I brought my cutting board and knives down to Lavallette which is quite possibly the smartest thing I’ve done.  Ever.

And before we begin, a short tangent on sectioning oranges, which was harder than it sounds.  I knew the basic technique of cutting a slice off the top and bottom to stabilize the orange, then cutting the peel and pith off lengthwise, then cutting between the sections to get your supremes, as the French say.  But this method resulted in the orange falling apart, miserably small chunks of orange clinging to large shreds of membrane, and a growing fear of slicing into my hand.  My brother-in-law had already taken a trip to the ER after a mishap cleaning his crabbing knife, so I resorted to the grapefruit method of cutting the orange across horizontally, then cutting out the half-sections with my paring knife (also brought from home because my pants are smart).  This worked out much better.

Orange Couscous and the Supremes Salad

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 10-oz box plain couscous
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 tbsps chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tbsps chopped mint leaves (I skipped, I’m not a fan of mint so I doubled up on parsley)
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 cup golden raisins, currants or chopped dates (I skipped)
  • 1 cup snow peas, roughly chopped (my own addition)
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (my own addition)

Bring water to a boil.  Put couscous, onion and snow peas in a large serving bowl and add water, stir, cover with plastic and let steam 5 minutes.  Fluff with fork.  Stir in olive oil, salt and pepper.  Set aside and let cool.

Zest both oranges and juice one of them.  Remove peel and pith of second orange and cut into sections.


Add zest and chopped orange to couscous.  Stir in parsley (and/or mint), tomatoes, cucumber, and the fruit if you’re using it.  Cover and chill in refrigerator 1 hour and up to 2 days.  Taste before serving and add more salt, pepper, olive oil, juice if needed.


Radish Cranberry Slaw

My cousin sent me this slaw recipe from Eating Richly and it’s really dynamite.  I halved the recipe just to see how it would go over, and there was nothing left.  The author recommends it with pulled pork sandwiches, and I think it would be great with fish tacos.

The only changes I made were using parsley instead of cilantro, and using equal parts mayonnaise and honey-mustard dressing because the dressing alone was too intense for the kids.

Radish-Cranberry Slaw (from Eating Richly)

  • 1 green cabbage thinly chopped
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leave, chopped
  • 6 small to medium radishes sliced into matchsticks
  • 1/2-1 cup honey mustard (from a bottle or homemade)
  • salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients well adding salt and pepper to taste.  Let sit 20 minutes before serving.