Monday, June 28, 2010

Coriander and Cilantro Flatbread

I don't know what it is about the summer, but I've got a bumper crop of cilantro. Tons and tons and tons of it. I use some, and the next day it seems like I've already got twice as much as I had the day before!

I pulled this recipe out of Bon Appetit magazine a few years back, and decided now was the time to make it to use up some of this delicious cilantro. I've made some very minor adjustments/clarifications, noted here.

Coriander and Cilantro Flatbreads
(pictured with Slow cooker Lentils, Rice, and Eggplant)


1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus additional for dusting
3 teaspoons ground coriander (or more!)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro (packed, measured after chopping. Better with lots of cilantro, if you ask me!)
3/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
olive oil for frying


Add the first 5 ingredients to a medium bowl, and mix well with a whisk (alternately, sift the ingredients together). Stir in the cilantro. Add yogurt and stir with a fork until slightly mixed, then knead until dough holds together. Don't over-knead! Add more flour or yogurt if necessary to make a soft, slightly sticky dough. Use a large knife to divide the dough into 8 pieces, and roll into balls. On a floured surface, roll each ball out into a flat circle. Make the bread pretty thin (1/4" or so thick)--it'll puff when cooking.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Brush with olive oil until the bottom of the pan is well-coated. Place two or three breads into the skillet (depends on how many can fit...don't crowd!). Cook until dough is golden brown and slightly puffed, then flip. It takes only 2 or 3 minutes per side. Keep warm in a 200 degree oven until ready to serve.

Slow Cooker Lentils, Rice, and Eggplant

Besides the lentils (Baer's Best--yum!), not much of this is local. Yet. But I'm posting this recipe now because later in the summer, most of the veggies will be available locally. And because it's so good :)

This recipe is based on a recipe I found at The first time I made this, I followed the recipe exactly and wasn't pleased with the results. But it had promise, so I made it again with significant adjustments to the quantities, and it was perfect!

Slow Cooker Lentils, Rice, and Eggplant
(pictured with Coriander and Cilantro Flatbread)


3 Tbs sherry (or just veggie stock is fine)
1 large or 2 medium onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz chopped mushrooms
3 medium carrots, diced
1 eggplant, peeled and cubed into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup lentils (any kind. The second time I made it, I used French Green lentils, and I liked how they held up in the slow cooker.)
1/2 cup brown rice
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 cup veggie stock
1 cup water
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 Tbs chopped fresh parsley (or more)
Olive oil for sauteeing


Saute the vegetables until lightly browned and slightly softened. Add everything except the parsley to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or high for 3 to 4 hours. Serve with parsley on top for garnish.


It's a little more work in the morning than I'm used to with slow cooker recipes since there's a lot of peeling, dicing, and sauteeing. But it really is delightful, even if you have to save it for a weekend to make. Leftovers are also yummy!

This is fabulous with the Coriander and Cilantro Flatbread recipe I'm also posting. Delightful combination!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Strawberry Daze

Whew, it's been a long winter. But I find that some of the first things to grow and mature and announce the arrival of spring and early summer are cheery pink, especially rhubarb and strawberries. What better color to wake up our winter-tired eyes and our root-weary tastebuds?

The Boy and The Girl were still in school last week, so I was able to go to my local PYO strawberry farm and power-pick some fruit (read: no visits to feed the animals, no begging for ice cream). The farmer says that strawberry season, due to a confluence of weather-related factors, is running about 10-14 days ahead of schedule this year, so it's already nearly at an end. And blueberries are coming up fast behind them, perhaps as soon as next week. I was able to pick more than 8 pounds of berries quickly, and then it was back home to decide how to dole out the juicy prizes.

I made a batch of jam with most of them (see my jam post from June of last year), and decided to make dessert with the rest. My family loves clafoutis (read Bea's funny treatise on clafoutis at with any kind of fruit, from blueberry to pear, but most recipes I read always say, "Use any kind of fruit EXCEPT strawberries, since they are too wet."

Well, strawberries was what I had, and that's what was going to get clafoutis-ed. I decided to adapt a recipe for pear and chocolate clafoutis that I learned last year at a cooking class in Paris (long story, excellent class!), and I knew that I'd be making six personal-sized desserts in the small, shallow white ramekins I bought just for this purpose.

The oven preheated to 375 while the ramekins got buttered and dusted with sugar. I beat 2 eggs for a minute or two, then added a pinch of salt, 2 tablespoons of sugar, a teaspoon of vanilla, a half-cup of flour, and a cup of thick Greek yogurt (you can also use creme fraiche, like we did in Paris, or even sour cream). I added a half-cup of milk and beat the whole thing till it was smooth. Also into the bowl went a small slug of creme de cassis, which my cooking instructor added to all three courses we cooked with her! (Had to carry a bottle of that good stuff back with me, I'm nearly down to the dregs now, gotta make another trip!) I sliced the berries lengthwise and placed about 10 slices in the bottom of the ramekins, poured the egg-milk-yogurt mix carefully over the berries, and then--with the edge of a paring knife--shaved some bittersweet chocolate shreds over each portion. A little sprinkle of sugar on top and they were ready for 20-30 minutes in the oven. You know they're done when the edges are brown but the center is just set.

Yes, I made a little strawberry fan on top like they do in nice restaurants. Yes, my kids were surprised that I actually "decorated" their food. But they got over it mighty quick when they got to have warm strawberry clafoutis for snack after school.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Raving About Rhubarb

Rhubarb is another rite of spring that takes me back to the days of my youth. I'm not sure whether that has more to do with the fact that it was a pretty regular attendee at family gatherings throughout the spring or because we were continually being yelled at for battering mom's abundant crop. You see, as I was growing up our rhubarb was planted right along our basketball court in the back yard. As a result, it often took quite a beating from errant basketballs. (What's a kid or two to do?)

And as kids, we could never understand what the big deal was over breaking a stalk (or ten). There was still PLENTY of rhubarb to go around. Mom would preserve rhubarb by making and canning numerous jars of rhubarb sauce, we'd also have rhubarb crisp and thus yummy, artery clogging dish called rhubarb fruit pie. But my FAVORITE way to eat it was (and still is) in a regular ole rhubarb pie - well regular to the Nuttall family and those who knew them.

Many people add strawberries to their rhubarb pie to balance the tart taste of this vegetable, which is more commonly considered a fruit. This recipe uses a custard-type filling to achieve what I consider to be a perfect balance of sweet and sour.

I use this recipe for my crust. Once your crust has been rolled out and the bottom crust placed into your pie pan, combine the following ingredients:

1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten (if they are small, use 3)
2 Tablespoons flour
Combine above with 3 to 4 cups of rhubarb cut into one inch pieces and pour into unbaked pie crust. Dot with butter and add top crust. Brush top crust with milk and sprinkle with raw, unrefined sugar.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes then lower temperature to 375 for 40-50 minutes. I like to serve this slightly warm or at room temperature with a scoop of local vanilla ice cream on top!

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Ramping Up for Our Vegetable CSA

I had (the best) intentions of blogging this post quite some time ago - you know, when ramps were actually in season and it was considered fashionable to spend the afternoon foraging for them.

However, technical difficulties (read: my beloved husband permanently damaged the monitor on our laptop, rendering it useless). I toyed with the idea of passing this one by (or saving it until next spring), but by then I will have forgotten this "recipe". Since this blog exists not only as a means of sharing our passion for local foods but also as an archive of recipes we may want to return to - I've decided to forge ahead (or should I say forage ahead).

Some of my earliest childhood memories involve ramps. My mom would send my sister and I off with our buckets and trowels to forage for ramps so she could make potato leek soup. I loved those foraging adventures....I still do. I can't think of a better way to welcome spring and bid farewell, for the time being, to a diet laden with winter root vegetables.

One of my favorite ways to eat ramps is to coat them with olive oil, sprinkle them with a dash of sea salt then toss them on the grille. They also make a FANTASTIC pesto sauce. Combine a healthy handful of greens (I highly recommend using the bulbs too) in your food precessor with 1/3 of a cup of pine nuts and a couple tablespoons of butter. Blend as you drizzle in olive oil until you obtain the desired consistency, then blend with 1/4 cup of imported, grated parmesan cheese and add salt to taste.

My favorite way to eat ramp pesto is mixed with some fresh (cooked) cheese tortellini and grilled chicken breast.

Freeze any pesto you're not going to consume within the next few days - you'll appreciate it down the road when ramp season becomes a distant memory.

Bon appetit!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

How my garden grows

In the past, I've halfheartedly thrown a few vegetable seedlings in our gardens, hoping for the best. Unsurprisingly, my "survival of the fittest" theory of gardening usually resulted in weeds, bugs, and animals proving they were the fittest. So I've never actually had any vegetables to harvest.

This year, I decided to make more of a concerted effort. I read a few basic gardening books. We decided to try out a square foot garden. While our new house has a beautiful yard, it's very wooded and our best sun comes in the front yard. Rather than digging out the yard to plant a traditional garden, we just added a 4' x 4' box. It was a fun project. The kids had a lot of fun with it. For the dividers, we bought a bunch of wood paints at the craft store and let them go wild.

Cute, huh?

So what have we got going here? Onions, lettuce, rainbow chard, fairy tale eggplant, grape tomatoes, sungold tomatoes, a carrot mix (yellow, purple, and orange--N-man's pick), lima beans (B-man's pick). I had transplanted some arugula as well that I'd started indoor from seeds, but it didn't make it. The transplanted lettuce didn't work out, either, so I bought some at the nursery that's growing much better.

I also wanted an herb garden. I had a small herb garden at my last house that I loved, though it was fairly inconveniently located from the kitchen. We decided this year to put the herbs in planters on the back porch. Some of the smaller planters I'm planning to bring inside in the winter--fresh herbs all year, if it works out! Our porch is very near the kitchen, and already I find myself just popping out with a pair of scissors to harvest a few sprigs while I'm cooking. Wonderfully convenient!

This one is parsley, garlic chives, and amethyst basil (a favorite with N-man and B-man, not to mention TK and me!).

Next, we've got rosemary, chocolate mint, and chives. These are the planters I'm sure to bring in this winter.

In a big planter, I have sage, cilantro, basil, and lemon thyme. I'm worried this might be over-full, but if so, I'm sure I can use vast quantities of cilantro and basil if I need to thin this fast.

I had another planter so I threw in an extra fairy-tale eggplant and two lettuce plants. I'm going to harvest the lettuce very soon, before they grow much larger and start to crowd the eggplant. Yum, fresh baby lettuce, maybe this weekend!

My inlaws gave us a strawberry pot, so using my vast imagination, I planted it with...strawberries. We've gotten 5 yummy strawberries from it already, but mostly the strawberries are getting eaten by animals (chipmunks, I think. Do they eat strawberries?) I don't have much hope for this. I think we'll do flowers instead of strawberries next time.

Then in the last planter, I'm trying to start some herbs from seeds. There are lots of little sprouts, but I planted over a month ago and it's growing very slowly. It's a fun experiment, but I don't have hugely high hopes for this. It'll be neat to see what, if anything really comes up here.

So that's it. I tried not to go overboard since 1) we have a CSA subscription, and there are only so many vegetables even I can eat, and 2) I've never had much luck in the past with gardens, and there are ZILLIONS of wild animals around our house so I fear I'm just gardening for them :)

Do you have a garden? What are you growing this year?