Katie: So… grad school has been keeping me busy, to say the least! My study workload along with extreme heat have not been the best conditions for culinary endeavors. However, I haven’t stopped eating or cooking! I’ve also taken pictures of a few things I’ve made, but haven’t had time, until now, to post them.
One example is this Blueberry Corn Salad (recipe here). It was pretty easy to make, especially by cooking the corn in the microwave, and had a great combination of fresh blueberries, fresh sweet corn, cucumbers, and cilantro. It would be a great salad to bring to a summer picnic!
Here are some other things I’ve made recently:
Tortillas with Golden Beets, Beet Greens, and Black Beans
Pasta with Escarole, Sun-dried Tomato Chicken Sausage, and Cannellini Beans
Tortilla Pizza with Ricotta Cheese, Peaches, and Fresh Basil
Peanut Butter S’more Bars (a treat to give away — not my dinner!)
Matthew: After eating at some Mediterranean restaurants in Madison lately, I thought that I should try making tzatziki. I found this recipe and bought some Greek yogurt at the co-op. The first time I made it, I only used one cucumber. It was good, but a little too thick to use as salad dressing. This time around, I used two cucumbers and it was a good consistency. I didn’t have any fresh dill, so I put in dried dill and that seemed fine. I was going to bring the tzatziki to Concert on the Square to go with crudités, but since the concert was cancelled because of weather, I was left with a giant bowl of tzatziki. I decided to turn to my CSA box for inspiration and thought grilling some vegetables would be nice. I used my George Foreman Grill (thanks to the Helgerson family!) and it actually worked really well for the vegetables. Just before eating, I threw the pita on to toast it and then added the toppings. This was a really good dinner. I used eggplant, zucchini, and green beans with a little raw cucumber and the combination of vegetables, toasted pita, and garlicky tzatziki was delicious. I’m sure it would be good with many different kinds of vegetables or with a giant lamb leg on a spit if you happen to have that lying around.
Posted in Dinner, Side dish
Tagged cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, george foreman, greek yogurt, green beans, pitas, tzatziki, yogurt, zucchini
Katie: While we had summer-like weather here last weekend, it has now cooled down to more typical spring weather. So while I had been considering making a recipe for Tequila Lime Shrimp, my thoughts on cooking shifted along with the temperature. Instead, I decided to try some fresh spring rolls. I’m not sure if I’d ever eaten them before, let alone made them, but I was inspired by the descriptions and pictures here and here.
I found rice paper at an Asian grocery store, along with some other interesting and inexpensive ingredients. I made small portions of three different sauces to accompany the spring rolls: an Asian peanut butter sauce, a soy sauce mixture, and a mango sauce. I prepared julliened carrots and sweets potatoes with fresh ginger, but left the rest of the vegetables raw. The process of making the spring rolls was kind of like a science experiment. The rice paper turns soft shortly after contacting water, so we could make them pretty quickly.
These turned out well and were fun to make! Spring rolls are usually described as an appetizer, but they can easily be served as a main course, depending on how many you make. This was a meal that I think would be fun to make with guests too. And since hardly any cooking is involved, they would be good for hot summer days too.
Fresh Spring Rolls (adapted from My New Roots and Green Kitchen Stories)
- rice paper (I found 1 pound for 1.50 Euros at an Asian food store)
- 2 medium carrots, julienned
- 2 small sweet potatoes, julienned
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced or grated
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar
- 1 squeeze of fresh lemon
- an assortment of fresh vegetables of your choice, diced or julienned (I used a red bell pepper, a red cabbage, bean sprouts, a cucumber, and green onions)
- shrimp (optional; I used some small river crabs)
- sauces of your choice (I substituted peanut butter in this recipe for Almond Butter Dipping Sauce; combined soy sauce, sesame oil, and sesame seeds for a second sauce; and used my mango dressing for a third sauce)
- Prepare sauces and set aside.
- Put the olive oil, agave syrup, and ginger in a skillet over medium heat and cook just slightly. Add sweet potatoes and carrots and stir-fry for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and mix with sesame seeds and lemon juice. Set aside.
- Fill a shallow dish a little larger than the rice paper with warm water. (I used the my frying pan lid.)
- Place one wrap in the water until it becomes soft and pliable (about 3o seconds).
- Remove the wrap carefully and transfer to a clean working surface.
- Fill with vegetables. Fold top, then sides, then bottom to close.
- Top with sauce and enjoy!
Posted in Appetizers, Dinner, Lunch
Tagged Asian, bean sprouts, bell pepper, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, ginger, rice paper, soy sauce, sweet potatoes
JillPickle: After watching Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa show, I became inspired to try some of her dishes. I’ve never eaten panzanella salad before and it looked so bright and colorful! The pork looked so good too. Both dishes looked pretty easy to make. Adaptations that I made to the panzanella salad were: sustituted sarvecchio cheese (like parmesan) for the feta and I did not add all of the onion. I also added fresh basil! In addition, I did not immediately mix the salad dressing, vegetables and bread cubes together since we were not going to eat the whole salad at one meal and I did not want soggy leftovers. Instead, we combined those components in individual salad bowls.
Matthew: I received two medium cucumbers in my CSA box last week and since I don’t really like them very much by themselves, I decided to pickle them. Luckily, the grocery store had just got in a shipment of dill, so I bought one large stalk. I found this recipe online and, in addition to the ingredients listed, I added some coarse salt (~2 tablespoons) and some yellow mustard seeds (~1 tablespoon). Now, I just have to let them sit in the fridge for a week and I’ll see how they turned out!