Kohlrabi, kale, zucchini, stunt radishes from Liz Otto's garden standing in, green beans
As I was making the two recipes for this week's post, I realized these are basic techniques.  You can swap out dozens of veggies for the radishes and zucchini I used.  

This soup is perfect for summer radishes that are getting a bit hot and spicy.  I'm in love with the pale rose color.  Smaller radishes will make a rosier soup.  A creamy soup based on a vegetable is a staple recipe.   2 cups of turnips, broccoli, spinach, winter squash can all be used in place of the radishes in their own season.  I always add a potato to the cooked veggies to smooth and thicken the soup instead of relying on flour.

The fritters are a favorite lunch, side dish or welcome appetizer.  Once again, today's zucchini could easily be swapped out with the kohlrabi, cabbage, or sweet potatoes.  I used garbanzo bean flour to bind the shreds for a little boost of nutrition and because it tastes so good.  This makes them a lot like the Indian socca.  Bob's Red Mill garbanzo bean flour is probably the easiest brand to find.  You can get a better price at an Asian food store where it may be labeled besan or gram flour.  Just read the label.  White flour works, too, it's just a little heavier, so you should add a pinch of baking powder.
Creamy Radish Soup
Creamy Radish Soup
This is perfect for spicy radishes.  Cooking them mellows the heat.  Serve hot or chilled. 
2 Tbsp. Butter
1 bunch radishes, root and stems trimmed, coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Yukon gold or white potato, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup broth (chicken or vegetable) or water
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 tsp. pepper
  1. In a medium pot, melt butter over medium heat.  Add radish, onion and garlic.  Stir to coat with butter.  Add salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened but not brown, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add potato and broth.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes or until potatoes are very tender.  
  3. Add milk and pepper.  Use an immersion blender to puree soup until very smooth.  If you use a standard blender, blend it in batches and remove center plug from lid.  Cover top with kitchen towel as hot soup can spurt out while blending.
  4. Spoon into bowls and serve topped with a dollop of sour cream, slivers of radish and chopped herbs, if desired.
  • This is great chilled, too.  Whisk in a bit more cold milk if it gets too thick.
  • Sub 2 cups of virtually any vegetable for the radishes.

Makes 4 servings

Yellow Zucchini & Garbanzo Bean Pancakes
Zucchini & Garbanzo Bean Pancakes
Serve as an appetizer, a side dish, or a light supper with a salad.

1 medium zucchini, shredded with the large holes of a box grater
2 Tbsp. grated onion
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup garbanzo bean flour (also known as besan or gram flour)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
sunflower or other vegetable oil
  1. In a large bowl, stir together all ingredients until no dry bits of flour remain.
  2. in a large skillet, heat 1/4 inch of oil over medium high heat.  Drop a tiny bit of batter into skillet, if it sizzles the oil is hot enough.
  3. Drop heaping spoonfuls of batter into pan and use back of spoon to spread batter to 1/2-inch thickness.  Cook about 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown.  
  4. Drain briefly on paper towels and serve topped with a dollop of sour cream, if desired. Serve immediately.

  • Use any veggie you like: shredded butternut squash, sweet corn, slivered cabbage, chopped broccoli...or a combo of these, get creative.
  • These will hold in a warm oven for up to 30 minutes.
  • The simple flavor of these pancakes is a great foundation for spicy salsa, slivers of ham, or smoked salmon.
  • If you can't find garbanzo bean flour, use 1/4 cup all-purpose flour plus a 1/2 tsp. baking powder.

Makes about 8 (3-inch) pancakes

Bastille Day, July 14th is my birthday.  July 15th is my daughter's birthday.  Wed. some dear friends who are moving to Florida has a going away party... then Thursday another good friend had a big barn bash.  I didn't get much done this week.....

But I did buy myself a present.  A Vegetti!  As seen on TV!
I looked at the hand cranked kind and didn't want to devote that much cupboard space to this contraption.

This works like a pencil sharpener.  Choose a zucchini that fits the opening.  Using a larger veg or trying to cut one down to fit does not work well.  You just twist it through either the small or big end and you get a pile of zucchini "noodles"....zoodles.  Plus a weird worm looking core.

I made my zoodles into pad thai.  Very satisfying.  They still tasted like zucchini, but luckily I like zucchini.  

Pad Thai Zoodles
2 medium zucchini cut into noodles 
sunflower seed oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup fresh bean sprouts
2 medium green onions, sliced
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
2 Tbsp.sugar
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
2 Tbsp. crushed peanuts
 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add one tablespoon of oil. Then add zucchini noodles and cook for about 2-3 minutes or until the zucchini noodles are tender. Don't overcook the noodles. The zucchini noodles should be slightly crunchy with a tender bite. 
  2. Dump noodles into a colander to rest and drain about 5 minutes.  Wipe out skillet and add another film of oil.  Add garlic, chicken and soy sauce and cook, stirring, until cooked through and no longer pink inside.  Remove to a dish and keep warm.
  3. Add more oil, if needed.  Add egg and cook, stirring, until scrambled.  Return chicken, zucchini noodles to pan.  Add bean sprouts and green onions.
  4. Stir all the sauce ingredients together in a small dish and pour into pan.  Stir, cooking a few minutes until bean sprouts are just tender.
  5. Pile onto a serving platter and garnish with peanuts and cilantro.

makes 2 generous servings

Green Beans, Lettuce (red and bronze), snap peas, zucchini, cucumbers, and arugula.
Take a look back to previous summer blogs for lots of recipes and ideas.  I've got a new recipe below for Sautéed Cucumbers.  I've seen them on menus before, but have never tried it until last night.  They were sooooo good.  Mark pronounced them the best non-pickle cucumbers he's ever had.  He's only 21, so....  The flavor of the cucumbers becomes sweet and nutty.  This preparation is very French, so it's appropriate for the fast approaching Bastille Day (July 14th and my birthday....)
Sautéed Cucumbers
A nice change of pace on the side of a spicy barbecue.
  1. Peel cucumbers.  If they are very fresh and young you can skip this.
  2. Cut into 1/2inch thick chunks or slice for a silkier finished dish.
  3. Melt a little butter in a skillet over medium high heat.
  4. When butter is foamy, add cucumbers and cook, turning occasionally, until beginning to brown in spots.  
  5. Season with salt and pepper.  Add chopped herbs (dill, tarragon, parsley are all nice), and serve.

In this week's box:
baby zucchini
garlic scapes
lettuce, 3 kinds
2 kinds of mustard greens (I don't know why I said radish greens in the video)
big turnips
turnip greens
Diced Turnips and their greens with ham
This is a bowl of summer comfort.  I have always loved turnips.  We rarely had them at home, so they felt like a treat.  That's a funny thing for such a humble veg.  Cooking the tops and the turnips together is a common southern thing.  Adding some scraps of ham or chunks of grilled chicken make this a meal that positively screams out for a square of corn bread.  

I like to make a big pot full because it reheats so well.

Be sure to wash the greens in a sink full of cold water with a big pinch of salt.  Swish them around then let them float to the top.  The sand will drop to the bottom and you can lift out clean greens.  

I pull off the bitter stems.  For the sake of full disclosure, some people leave them in and add a big spoonful of sugar to the pot to balance the bitterness.  Roll tup the leaves like a sausage and slice into ribbons.  Then run you knife through the other way to chop.

I drop the cubed turnips into a pot of cold water until I'm ready to use them.
Turnip Greens Wilting
Don't be surprised by how much the greens reduce when they cook.
Diced Turnips Cooked with Their Greens

  1. Trim the greens off of a bunch of turnips.  Wash greens well.  Pull off and discard the bitter stems, if desired.    Coarsely chop into bite sized pieces.  
  2. Wash and peel the fibrous skin from the turnips.  Cut into 1/2-inch cubes.  Put in a bowl with just enough water to cover.
  3. Cook a couple of strips of chopped bacon with a small chopped onion and some chopped garlic until bacon is cooked through and onion is tender.  Or you can cook the garlic and onion in a little bacon fat from the jar you keep in the fridge and add some diced lean ham or smoked turkey or chicken.  
  4. Make sure the chopped greens are still wet from washing, and drop them into the pot.  Add a little water if needed.  Cover and reduce heat.  Let them steam until wilted, about 3 to 5 minutes.  
  5. Pour in the cubed turnips and the water they are soaking in.  Add lots of fresh pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes or until turnips are tender.    Taste and season to taste with salt.  If the greens are bitter, add sugar, a pinch at a time.  
  6. Serve with cornbread and hot sauce on the side.

Garden Lettuce and Herb Salad with Buttermilk Vinaigrette
Buttermilk Vinaigrette
This is a workhorse of a dressing.  It’s great on salads, but it also makes a nice marinade for grilled chicken.  It's pretty to drizzle a little additional olive oil on your dressed salad.
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, pressed or finely minced OR 4 or 5 garlic scapes, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs (try chives, tarragon, parsley, or dill)
1 tsp. chopped thyme, oregano, or marjoram

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend  until herbs are finely minced. 
This keeps for a week in the fridge.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Cuban Style  Black Beans
This is fast and delish.  They taste great as a soup or a saucy side with rice.  I love the leftovers to mash and refry.  Spread them on a roll and top with spicy grilled meats for a great Torta.  Add to quesedillas or roll in a tortilla.   All the usual taco toppings are great with these: sour cream, shredded or crumbled cheese, chopped raw onions, cilantro, avocado....   
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 small jalapeño, chopped
2 cups dry black beans, rinsed and picked over
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
  1. In a 6-quart pressure cooker heat the olive oil over medium high heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook until wilted and beginning to brown.  Stir in the chili powder, cumin and jalapeño.
  2. Add beans, broth and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and latch on lid.  Cook at high pressure for 1 hour.  
  3. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.  Release the steam or cool the pan as manufacturer directs.  Remove lid.  Stir.  If beans are underdone, simmer with the lid off until tender.   Season to taste with salt.
Adding a ham hock or a smoked turkey wing to the cooking beans amps up the flavor even more.
To make these without a pressure cooker, soak in boiling water for an hour, drain and proceed as written.  Then you will need to simmer the beans about an hour.

Makes 6 servings

Riverbend Organic Farm, CSA week One. Top left to right:arugula, red mizuna, potted herbs (basil, oregano, parsley, cilantro, dill, thyme) Bottom left to right: cornmeal, radishes, two kinds of lettuce.
It's time for gardens and greens again.  I'm so excited for my first box of the summer.  The little bunch of mustard greens with the pretty pink stems is red mizuna.  It is considered a Japanese cooking green, but it's so tender you can add it to your salads right now.  I do love cooked greens.  Wash it well and drop it into a skillet with a little hot neutral oil, like Smude's sunflower seed oil.  Stir fry until just tender and season with a bit of butter and tamari sauce.

After I picked up my box, I went next door to Nature's Nest Bed and Breakfast.  The owner, Cathy Rose, had her pizza oven fired up and was cranking out some beautiful pies.  I took a couple home for dinner.  Her beautiful gardens have plenty of grassy spots for a pizza picnic.  Stay tuned--I hope she does this all summer.  

I intended to make Vietnamese spring rolls with a nice dipping sauce.  I'm trying to pack more plant-based protein into my diet.  I ran across an idea to use cooked qunioa in place of rice noodles in spring rolls.  I thought that was a great idea.

messy, rushed recipe for spring rolls turns into a bright salad.
I gathered everything together and looked at the clock.  I don't have time to roll all those....So I turned it into a salad and used the dipping sauce as the dressing.  Quick, quick, quick.
I love this little shredder gadget that work just like any other Y shaped peeler.  Pick them up cheaply in an Asian grocery store like United Noodles.  

This is Korean red chile pepper.  It's the chile used to make kimchee so it's not terribly hot.  Look for it in Asian groceries.  I use it a lot.

Summer Shrimp and Quinoa Lettuce Wraps
Cucumber is a great addition when it's in season.  You can leave out the shrimp here as well for a nice meatless lettuce wrap.
 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
1 lb, cooked shrimp, peeled
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 carrot, shredded
3 radishes, halved and sliced
2 green onions, sliced
1 recipe Thai vinaigrette
lettuce leaves 
  1. toss all ingredients but lettuce leaves and dressing together in a large bowl.
  2. drizzle just enough dressing over salad to moisten.
  3. serve spooned onto lettuce leave, roll up to eat out of hand.  Salad keeps well for a couple of days in the fridge.

Makes 6 servings

1 Tbsp. sugar
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup warm water
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
a big pinch Korean chile flakes

Mash sugar and garlic together in a small bowl to make a paste.  Stir in water to dissolve sugar.  Add remaining ingredients.  Cover and chill until ready to use.

makes about 1/2 cup

Bring 1 cup quinoa and 1 3/4 cups water to boil in a medium saucepan.  Add a pinch of salt.  
Reduce heat, cover and simmer 12 to 15 minutes or until water is absorbed.  Fluff with a fork. 
To cool quickly, spread on a rimmed baking sheet.  When cool, spoon into a wide mouthed mason jar for later use and refrigerate.
This has got to be some sort of record.  Chefs would line up for shallots like this... peel and chop one shallot for an entire cup.  If you haven't cooked with shallots you are in for a treat.  They have a sweet mild onion flavor with just a hint of garlic.  They are beloved by the French.  I'd bet the French brought them to Vietnamese cooking just like they brought strong coffee (sweet Vietnamese coffee) and baguettes (Bahn Mi sandwiches).  You'll see them used raw in loads of fresh Thai and Vietnamese dishes.  These are so large, I know they'd make amazing onion rings, like these.

the iconic pile of onion rings from Crouse Cafe in Indianola, Iowa inspired my recipe
Buttermilk Onion Rings
  1. Peel and very thinly slice sweet onions.  Heat oil for deep frying to 350 degrees F.
  2. Toss with flour that has been seasoned with salt and pepper; shake off any excess.  A big paper bag is good for this step.
  3. Dip floured onions into buttermilk and allow excess to drip back into bowl.
  4. Toss wet onions in seasoned flour again.  Once again, the paper bag works well.
  5. Fry in small batches in hot oil until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels and season while hot.
Red Wine Vinaigrette
Heating the vinaigrette then chilling it down takes some extra time, but yields an exceptional dressing.

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup canola or grape seed oil
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp. dry red wine
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. honey
3 Tbsp. finely chopped shallots
salt and pepper
  1. In a small saucepan stir together the ingredients.  Heat just until hot.  Red wine and vinegar will just begin to lose it's red color.
  2. Pour into a jar and chill until ready to use.

Makes about 1 cup

PictureSavory Chickpea Flour Pancakes. On the left, the veggies stirred in, on the right veggies added to batter in the skillet.
Savory Chickpea Flour Pancakes

1 1/2 cups garbanzo bean flour (besan)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
pinch cayenne
1 1/4 cups water
2 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, pressed 

Whisk together dry ingredients.  Add water and whisk until smooth.  Whisk in garlic and ginger.

2 to 3 cups sliced, shredded, or chopped fresh veggies  (spinach, kale, cabbage, tomatoes, carrots,  onions, zucchini)

To Cook:
Heat a little vegetable oil in a nonstick skillet until hot.
Either stir veggies into batter OR wait and top each pancake to customize.
Spoon about batter into skillet, spreading out like a pancake.  It you haven't stirred the veggies into the batter top with veggies now, pressing into the batter.
Cook until well browned on bottom, then flip and continue to cook until brown and cooked through.   
Serve topped with chopped fresh cilantro, spicy Indian pickles, hot sauce and yogurt.

Makes about 3 to 4 large pancakes

Collards and Carrots under Smoked Pork Chops
Delicata squash is so very nice sliced, rubbed with a little oil and baked at 425 degrees F for about 20 minutes or until tender.  A spoon makes quick work of the seeds.  Add a bit of salt and pepper and they're ready.  Yes, you can eat the skin.....or not.

Frying an egg in  leftover ring of roasted squash is a fine way to start the day....or end it for that matter.  Drop a ring of roasted squash into a pan with a bit of melted butter and crack an egg into the center.  Season, wait and flip.  cook until the yolk is set like you like it.  Mmmmm.  A side of sausage is a very good idea.

One more squash idea...stuff it for supper.  The addition of tabbouleh may seem weird--but think about it--it's cooked wheat with lemon, oil, herbs and tomatoes.    It's a nod to the old Grub Steak in Ames, IA.  They topped tabbouleh with beans and melted cheese.
Brown a quarter pound of ground turkey with some onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil while the split squash roasts cut side down.  
Add a half cup of tabbouleh salad and a 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese to the cooked turkey and seasoned with a pinch of allspice and a final adjustment of S&P.  Spoon into the squash.  You can chill until supper.  Warm in a the oven a bit and top with plain tomato sauce, if desired.  

My husband loves onion soup.  I think it may be why he married me...I can't be sure.  I have such nice onions in the house, so I made a batch.  This is another thing I used to make at the restaurant, Aunt Maude's, in Ames.  Remember, the pastry chef (me) get's in early and starts the odds and ends that the late shift prep cook didn't get to.   Weed, the early prep cook, would slice all the onions for me.  I'd start the onions cooking in a huge steam jacketed kettle in butter and just let them cook on low forever while I did other stuff.  You can basically do that at home in a slow cooker with the lid ajar, but it really does take a day at least. You can roast them in the oven or simply cook them on the stove for an hour or so.  You want those onions to get deep brown, the color of Red Wing work boots (please refer to the photo below).  Then I pour in good stock--beef or chicken or both; add just enough to make it soup--you want it thick with onions.   Add a sprig of thyme, a bay leaf, and plenty of pepper.  Let it simmer 10 minutes or so, then add a splash of balsamic vinegar (just a tiny, tiny bit) and some Worcestershire sauce.  Taste and adjust for salt and pepper.  Top with sliced good bread, preferably day old, and a big handful of cheese.  I like a mix of aged provolone and jack.  Then broil until bubbly and brown.  Just before serving, drizzle some dry sherry over the top, for the full Maude's experience.  Click  here for Cook's Illustrated a very good recipe that's very similar to my method.     
A couple of weeks ago, I helped throw a gala at the MN Governor's Residence.  We are still enjoying the cheese left over from that party.  I'm always trying to push more veggies into my meals and grilled cheese sandwich is a great way to do it.  Thin slices of cheese glue the chopped or grated veggies in place.  My secret to a great grilled cheese: start with a cold pan, season with salt and pepper, add something acidic (a pickle slice or tomato will do the trick), and keep the heat lowish--no higher than medium, use strong-flavored cheeses meant for melting (you can use less this way).  
  1. Top a slice of bread with thin shavings of cheese.
  2. Top cheese with grated carrots, chopped green onions, and slivers of sweet peppers. Add a couple of pickle slices (spicy peppers are particularly good) and top with more cheese.  Season with salt and pepper.  Top with a second slice of bread.
  3. Butter top slice of bread.  Place buttered side down in COLD skillet.  Tuck the veggies that fell out as your flipped the sandwich into the pan back between the cheese.  Cook over medium heat until well browned.
  4. Butter top of sandwich and flip.  Cook until golden brown.  Cut in half to serve.

It's fun to have a bit of green on the windowsill during the long white winters.  Save the root end of your green onions.  Drop them into a shallow jar of water and set them on the windowsill to sprout new onions.  After the roots are reestablished you can pot them up for an even longer harvest.  Celery works the same way.  Pot up some carrot tops for a cute "pet plant".  It won't grown another carrot, but it will continue to send up greens and eventually flower with Queen Anne's lace type bracts.  Here's a good link for more ideas.
This is a nifty picture from The Traveling Spoon, a great little food and travel blog by Rachel.
In restaurants it's easy to collect trimmings in the cooler for stock.  At home it's just as easy, but it takes a little more time.   Homemade stocks are another little bonus prize you  get from cooking from scratch.  Keep a zip bag in the freezer to collect the odds and ends.  In addition to meat trimmings, wash and save roots, stalks, leaves, ends and peelings from your veggies.  When you have enough (about 4 cups), it's time to make stock.  By the way, I like to reduce my stock by about half.  It takes up way less freezer space.  One cube gives a bit flavor punch to basics, like chili.

onions, carrots, and celery (the foundation)
leeks, scallions, garlic, parsley and other herb stems (aromatics)
fennel, chard, lettuce, summer squash (herbal and grassy)
potatoes, parsnips, winter squash, corn cobs (sweet and earthy)
bell pepper, green beans, asparagus (vegetal)
tomatoes, citrus peel (acid--use sparingly)
eggpant, mushrooms (umami, meaty)

chicken wing tips (no one eats these anyway--trim them off and collect in a freezer bag)
chicken backs (I always cut this out along with the tail and into the bag of carnage it goes)
poultry carcasses--post roast or raw
beef bones---mix it up--beefy ribs bones make a great stock with the addition of a bunch of chicken wings
seafood and fish--save shrimp and lobster shells, fish back bones, skins and roly poly heads 

use whole spices to make them easy to strain out later
bay leaves
wee baby garlic cloves too small to do any good otherwise

POTATOES:  while it's true, potatoes can make your stock cloudy, they also impart an earthy flavor that I really like.
TO ROAST OR NOT:  drizzle stock ingredients--frozen is OK--with a bit of oil and roast in a hot oven until well browned.  You are adding a layer of flavor and a good brown color.  BUT it's not absolutely neccessary.
ONION SKINS:  They can make your stock bitter--on the plus side they can add a lot of color---I don't use them
CABBAGE FAMILY:  These can be very overpowering--I avoid them 
BEETS:  give a good flavor but a decidedly rosy hue to your stock.  Maybe OK for a dark beef stock; decidedly weird for a pale chicken broth.

This is very general--fill that pot up and don't worry about measuring.
  1. Load up your biggest slow cooker with meat (about 4 cups)  and veggie trimmings (about 4 cups)
  2. Add 3 or 4 pepper corns, a sprig of thyme, 2 bay leaves, garlic and a a handful of parsley
  3. Add enough cold water to just barely cover.
  4. Cook on low over night or all day until everything is very tender and meat trimmings are falling apart at the joints.  
  5. strain and chill.
  6. pull off congealed fat (discard or save if useful for cooking--like duck fat)  skim off and discard any scum on top
  7. It should be jelly-like at this point.  Freeze if you like or dump into a pot and boil until further reduced and syrupy.  This saves a ton of freezer space.

You decide how to freeze your stock--in cubes, flat in a freezer bag, or in cup size containers.--It's nice to have a variety--just don't forget to label it--trust me---you WON''T REMEMBER WHAT IT IS in a month.

I'm helping a friend's family celebrate Rosh Hashanah tonight.  Check back for recipes.

L'Shana Tova!