I know I have said this before (and this will be the last time) but, between the illness, multiple conferences and moving, I feel like the last month of my life has flown by with very little to show for it. Particularly anything blog worthy. This is particularly true when it comes to my kitchen activities as of late – it is challenging to prepare meals with any sort of theme or intention while unpacking boxes just enough to pack for another trip. Yet, although I feel like most of my recent cooking has been slapped together and haphazard, there have been a few stand-out hits to which I would like to return. In between all the salads and take-out, of course.
So, let’s put this unexpected hiatus firmly behind us with a giant CSA round up (three shares worth) and a review of the recipes that stopped us in our tracks and motivated us to slow down and enjoy a few moments together.
CSA, week 5
(clockwise from top left: fennel, oranges, white onions, cabbage, red potatoes, blood oranges, lemons, spring mix, cauliflower, carrots, chard, cilantro)
This hearty potato soup (substituting italian chicken sausage for the ham) is my (and The Bat’s) new favorite way to use fennel – a common CSA item with which we usually struggle to find uses.
Between the CSA share and my grandparent’s overabundant citrus trees, I was swimming in lemons (still am, actually). These lemon bars, a recipe recommendation from Camille, saved the day. I made them repeatedly and foisted them on friends, co-workers and family. No one complained. I am not much of a baker, but these are now at the top of my list for whenever I need a delicious and easy go-to dessert (the crust is genius, I’m looking forward to trying some type of banana/coconut cream pie version one of these days).
My Valentine’s dinner (it *has* been a long time since I posted, sheesh!) for The Bat also was designed around using our CSA share: roasted wild salmon with lemon and thyme, smashed sweet potatoes and a spring mix salad with roasted cauliflower. I rarely cook meat in ‘steak’ form – especially seafood, which scares me with the potential for dryness. I’d highly recommend this recipe for anyone with similar fears – it was easy to follow and produced a perfectly cooked filet that was still moist and creamy. We finished our special meal with a slice of the. best. carrot. cake. ever. I promise. It goes to my lack of baking skills that carrot cake is my fancy dessert of choice, but once you try Barbra’s recipe, I dare you to find anything tastier. Really. Try it. Now.
I continued my venture into the fishy unknown with this shrimp sauté. Recommended by a good friend, it was a great way to use up more lemons (subbed in for the lime) and the cilantro. Getting pre-shelled/veined shrimp at Trader Joe’s made this meal super quick to prepare and, as such, it has been added to the regular rotation. Here I used quinoa to soak up the delicious sauce, but it would be equally as good (or better) with whole wheat pasta or brown rice and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.
CSA, week 6
(clockwise from top left: bok choy, blood oranges, lemons, tangerines, lettuce, green kale, chard, carrots, radishes (!) romanesco, cauliflower and strawberries (!))
The appearance of strawberries and radishes in the CSA is my most robust indicator that spring is finally on its way. Unfortunately it was also about the time that all of the life-craziness converged. We really enjoyed our first strawberry shortcake of the season (eating the rest straight out of the carton) before kitchen creativity was put on hold. At this point, all I remember were lots of salads. And roasted crucifers. And citrus juice. Lots and lots of juice (and maybe some mimosas).
CSA, week 7
(clockwise from top left: cabbages, clementines, Meyer lemons, blood oranges, artichokes, chard, strawberries, carrots, beets, purple kale, radishes and romanesco)
And, now we are up to speed. I am currently working my way through this week’s share, picked up at the last minute upon my return from Atlanta. It is so nice to be in my new kitchen, unpacked, with lots of good lighting and counter space. I have plans to share more of what I have been working on next week, but in the meantime, I will leave you with a few of my favorites so far:
Really there is nothing better than fresh steamed artichokes. They are one of my favorites, so much so that I even wrote this handy, dandy primer on preparing and eating the globes at my old blog, Researching Paris.
I am having so much fun meeting new people and fostering new friendships now that I am feeling settled in the city. Nothing does that better than a strawberry champagne cocktail, right? Especially one only slightly smaller than the size of one’s head? These berries and their accompanying champagne were the perfect housewarming gift for some already-dear friends last weekend (if I do say so myself).
Lastly, this post would not be complete without the traditional St. Patrick’s day dinner of corned beef, cabbage and red potatoes. I was thrilled to see the cabbage arrive in such a timely fashion and cooking up this holiday meal was a great excuse to have our first visitors over to break in the apartment. If that evening was any indicator, we have much fun and food to look forward to in our new home together.