Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tantré Farm: Week 1

At last, the Tantré Farm harvest has begun! I sent my information and deposit in back in January and have been waiting anxiously for the first share of the season which arrived (or, more accurately, was picked up) on Tuesday this week. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of the goodies that come in my first box because John has our digital camera and he's fishing in northern Ontario this week. For a good picture of this week's share, check out Jen's (also a Tantré member) post at A2eatwrite.

Now I can settle into the business of eating these vegetables. This will be my challenge for the rest of the summer. I will be the primary vegetable-eater in our house since John frowns upon most of them. Little does he know I am going to make them irresistible to even the pickiest of vegetable-eaters!

Tuesday evening before I had to dash off to opera rehearsal I succumbed to the lure of fresh asparagus and whipped up a batch of oven-roasted asparagus which is my absolute favorite way to enjoy it. It's so easy even a caveman could do it (sorry, couldn't resist). Just lay the spears on a baking sheet, draw a few lines of olive oil across them, shower them with a bit of salt and freshly ground black pepper, and pop into a preheated-to-400-degree oven for about 8-9 minutes. I like my spears on the crunchy side so that's why I only roast them for 8 minutes. Fresh asparagus + bulgur burger = dinner love!

Wednesday night I decided to do something with one of the bunches of spinach taking over my fridge. I nosed around on one of my favorite recipe Web sites, Epicurious, and came up with this delicious-sounding vegetable frittata. I hardly altered the recipe at all; I added what was left of a can of petite diced tomatoes that had been languishing in my fridge and left out the Asiago cheese in favor of some fat-free feta which I sprinkled over the top once it was out of the oven. I think the bunch of spinach I used was way more than 2 cups but it wilted down so nicely it wasn't a problem. I decided to show some restraint and divided it into thirds, intending to eat one third and save the rest for some other time, but I ended up eating my initial third plus a little extra because it was so good. This morning I hacked off a piece and took it to work for a midmorning snack. I still have half of it left! Is it weird that I'm this excited about leftovers?

I wish, I wish I wish I had my camera because I made something so delicious and visually appealing for dinner tonight I can't believe it came out of my kitchen. It was like a magazine picture come to life and tasted just as fantastic.

OK, confession: I caved and had salmon for dinner. I know, I know...I was doing so well with the vegetarian meals! Tomorrow I have opera rehearsal at 6:30 so I have to zoom home from work, wolf something down for dinner between 5:00 and 6:00, and then jet back to Ann Arbor, so no chance for leisurely cooking then. Saturday my pal Patti is coming over and we're going to have burgers and beers, and Sunday...well, I suppose I could have waited until Sunday but my newest issue of Saveur arrived today and as I was flipping through it I saw this recipe and it was just Meant To Be (mostly because the first ingredient was asparagus and I still had half of my farm share bundle left over).

Salmon à la Nage (Swimming Salmon)
from Saveur, issue 112, June/July 2008.

Ingredients:
  • 6 stalks asparagus
  • 9 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 4 6-oz skinless salmon filets
  • 24 mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 tbsp fresh tarragon, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh chives, minced
  • 1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, minced
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh dill, minced
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
Turn on oven to "warm" or lowest setting. Snap off and discard ends from asparagus. Thinly slice stalks on the bias leaving tips intact. Set aside. Grease a 10" straight-sided skillet with 1 tbsp butter. Sprinkle skillet with shallots. Season salmon filets with salt and pepper; arrange in skillet. Scatter mussels around filets; pour in wine and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, covered, until mussels open, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, set aside, covered, until fish is just cooked through, 3-4 minutes. Using a slotted spatula, transfer fish and mussels to a baking dish or sheet, leaving broth in skillet. Place fish and mussels in oven to keep warm.

Place skillet containing broth over high heat and bring to a boil. Whisk in remaining 8 tbsp butter 1 tbsp at a time until smooth. Add asparagus and peas; cook until tender, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in herbs. Season with salt and pepper. Divide fish and mussels among 4 bowls and divide broth between them.

This is an exact transcription from Saveur. I did not prepare this exactly as written. For one thing, I didn't have any mussels. And no way was I going to use an entire stick of butter! Plus I only had one salmon filet. So what did I do? I used 1/4 cup dry vermouth (in place of the white wine), and 1/4 cup vegetable broth for extra flavor. I omitted the mussels and peas and dill. I did, however, have fresh tarragon, chives, and parsley from my herb garden. I used olive oil to get things started instead of butter at the shallot-sprinkling step; however, I caved in and added 1 tbsp of butter at the end. I think it made all the difference because the fragrance wafting up from the simmering broth was heavenly. At the same time all this madness was going on I was cooking a batch of quinoa, sautéeing garlic, onion, scallions, and sun-dried tomatoes to add to the quinoa, and readying a pot of water to steam another bundle of spinach. Somehow, everything came together at exactly the right time. The spinach wilted, I scraped the onion mixture into the quinoa, plopped the spinach into that vacated skillet, dashed some salt, pepper, and lemon juice over it to make it sizzle, got my dishes ready, brought the fish out of the oven, spooned the broth into a bowl, and nestled the salmon in the middle of the broth lake (hence the à la nage part of this recipe). The quinoa pilaf and spinach went on a separate plate. I was ready to dine. This was when I wished I had my camera. The salmon in broth with the asparagus and herbs all around was so lovely. I found out it tasted just as good as it looked and ate it so fast, too fast, really, since I was so hungry and it was so good and I just. couldn't. help. it. The quinoa pilaf was sort of an invention, an amalgamation of a couple of different recipes, and it was also quite fine. As for the spinach, well, two whole bunches down, three to go. Wilted with a bit of S&P and lemon juice wasn't half bad even though I made it up.

I'm figuring out that the stuff I invent, alter, edit, and otherwise fiddle with turns out to be not so bad after all. Who knew I would arrive at this point when once upon a time the only thing I could make for myself were tuna melts and boxes of Kraft macaroni and cheese! Bowls of cereal don't count as cooking.

4 comments:

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

It's amazing how we can expand and change over time. I remember being so proud of myself for mastering shake and bake chicken (well, yeah, I was still in college - sophomore year in my first apartment).

That salmon recipe looks wonderful. BTW... for all that spinach. Look up spinach and ricotta gnocchi on epicurious and they have the EASIEST and most delicious gnocchi gratinee recipe that we had last night. I used 2% milk instead of the heavy cream they called for. Doncha just love those recipes that call for a whole stick of butter - lol!

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Oh, and thanks for the linky love! I'll add your link for more share recipes.

christine said...

Many of my female colleagues and I have talked about how our husbands/boyfriends are not keen on vegetables; how they don't it's a complete meal without some type of meat. It's too bad because meatless meals or those centered around fresh produce can be so incredible.

I've been wanting to learn more about CSAs so I appreciate the write-ups you will do on them.

p.s. glad your cooked romaine turned out well :)

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