Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Indeed there will be no produce delivered to my house for the next two weeks, as I am going on vacation! First a stop in Philadelphia with SH to do some family seeing and possibly some site seeing, and definitely some food seeing (and eating):

Capogiro Gelato

Reading Terminal Market
And the huge Russian Market in NE Philly, where SH will translate so we actually know what we are eating…

And then for the main event. The MAINE event, hah!

Maine, Maine, Maine, Maine, MAINE!!
Yes folks, I’m off yet again to Maine. To visit the fabulous L&L and to eat the fabulous L(obster).

Will I ever tire of this? I do not think so.

Thankfully L&L are as nuts about food as I am and, aside from letting me nap on their couch all I want, they are happy to indulge in all sorts of culinary adventures. My trips north always include:

Beer cheese soup from the The Liberal Cup
Brunchy goodness from Slates Restaurant

Cute boys and many yummy ugly bugs from Hallowell Seafood and Produce

And, of course, the Great GuacOff 2006. Wherein L and I will be battling it out in the ultimate guacamole cook-off. Mix-off? Mash-off? Whatever. Tons of slimy green fun will be had by all. Check back for further details….

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Yes, I do not like vegetables

Apparently I have been discovered. A few of you have remarked upon the fact that all of my recipes involve camouflaging, blending, mixing, mashing, or otherwise hiding, more or less, the vegetables.

And it’s true. I’m just not a fan. I have two heads of lettuce in the fridge at the moment because salad just doesn’t do it for me (any ideas about how to hide lettuce?) The thought of a big plate of naked vegetables makes me crave a good slab of bread with a thick schmear of butter.

So I blend and mix and mash and hide the vegetables, in really good (usually low fat, lower calorie) recipes, and now consume more of said vegetables than I have probably done in my entire life.

A spoonful of sugar, as they say…

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Notes from the Crazed Chef

1. If the cantaloupe makes your tongue tingle, it’s probably not good. Right?

2. I am in love with phyllo. And the phyllo tarts. But not with the whole cook the milk, gelatin, wait while it chills nonsense in that recipe. So instead I made the shells as directed, mixed 4oz of 1/3 fat cream cheese, and 4oz of 2% greek yogurt, with some sugar and vanilla. Ta Da! Cream, with no cooking or gelatin or blah blah blah.

3. Gazpacho. I have a standard recipe, no idea where it came from, but its yummy. Ditto with the standard Broccoli Puree, and Zucchini Bread.

4. Summer Squash Goat Cheese Custard is good. Tastes like…onions. Hrm. Perhaps a slight modification is in order there.

5. Anyone want some carrots? I think I’m too tiredhotsweaty to make any more soup today.
Crazed Chef

Ok, last week’s box consisted of:

Sweet Corn
Vine Ripe Tomatoes
Seedless Cucumbers
Red Leaf lettuce
Red Onions
Honeydew Melon

So, in a crazy mad rush to clean out the fridge and eat up all this good stuff before I leave for vacation on Thursday (VACATION!), I will be cooking a weeks worth of food this afternoon. The menu includes:

Curried Carrot Soup
Summer Squash Goat Cheese Custard
Broccoli Puree
Zucchini Bread
Cherry & Lemon Creamcheese Tartlets

Cantaloupe Nectarine Soup

Hrm. Perhaps that is more than a weeks worth of food. (Half of the Curried Carrot Soup and Zucchini Bread are destined for the freezer.) And, coincidentally, it looks like the blender is going to get a workout…

Monday, July 10, 2006

What to do with leftover phyllo

Cherry & Lemon Creamcheese Tartlets

I have neither cherries nor lemons. But I do have peaches and strawberries, and I think that’ll do just fine.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Broccoli Mash

This has become one of my favorite things. I have always liked broccoli. But this makes eating broccoli kinda like eating mashed potatoes. And I have always LOVED mashed potatoes. Broccoli Puree.

I do a lighter, lazy version of this as well:

Peel a large potato (6oz.) Chop into chunks. Chop a pound of broccoli into chunks. Peel and chunk a few shallots. Steam the potato, broccoli and shallots until soft (about 20 minutes).
Mash (I do this by hand right in the pot) potato, broccoli, and shallots with 2 oz. of cream cheese, ¼ cup grated parmesan, salt and pepper, and about ½ cup, more or less, of the leftover broccoli steaming water (they say that’s where the vitamins go.) Pretend like you’re eating mashed potatoes when you are really eating broccoli!!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Saturday Dinner

The swiss chard was rapidly wilting in the fridge, so tonight was the night for Swiss Chard Spanakopita Casserole. It was excellent, just like regular spanakopita. I cheated a bit (as usual): I made the filling and then just stacked the phyllo on a cookie sheet, spread the filling over half of it, and then folded the dough over and tucked in the edges. 15 minutes on the stove, 30 minutes in the oven and crispy crunchy savory spanakopita (and I ate swiss chard!)

The summer craving for lemon squares continues. So does the effort to lose weight. Enter Easy Lemon Squares. They get lightened in this recipe basically by reducing the amount of butter in the crust. Make sure the butter is cold so you still get the flakiness. I reduce the amount of fat and calories further by using those fat-free refrigerated eggs. The squares aren’t as rich as the original (which is the whole point...) but do an excellent job of satisfying the craving. (And are actually edible, unlike the Splenda lemon squares...)

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Improvised Yum

I made the
Black Bean, Corn, and Shrimp Salad for dinner today (late lunch for those keeping track). All was well right up until the ¾ cup of salsa called for in the recipe. I always have salsa in the fridge. Grab the measuring cup, grab the bottle, start pouring, and the salsa is….cloudy…and kinda…fuzzy. Um. Ugh.

Right then! No salsa. But! I have some V8 in the fridge. So I dumped some of that in, with some extra onions and other salsa-y bits around, and cooked it all down till nearly dry and Voila!

Black bean, corn, and shrimp salad ala Rachel. (It was quick and yummy).
Yesterday's Box (July 6, 2006)

Sweet Corn
Romaine Lettuce
Roma Tomatoes
Swiss Chard
Yellow Squash

So. I picked up some shrimp for
Black bean, corn and shrimp salad. And I still have baby carrots left from last week, so I’m gonna make Baby Carrots with Curry Sauce and Broccoli Puree (to be served as sides with some grilled Polo Asada from Trader Joe’s.) Other things to try: Swiss Chard Spanakopita Casserole, Cream of Carrot Soup and Summer Squash Goat Cheese Custard.

Upon consulting with my People Who Know About These Things, the recipes are now linked for your clicking pleasure.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Welcome to Rachel’s Kitchen

Since I’ll been rambling on here about recipes and things I cook and whatnot, I have decided I should clue you in on some habits I have in the kitchen. I don’t usually note these in the comments I make about recipes, because they are just kinda assumed. Well, I know about them anyway, and now so do you:

I am single. I live alone. I have no need for 10 servings of anything. Or even 8. And really, I don’t even need 4 servings of most things, because, as they say, variety is the spice of life and I generally don’t wanna eat the same thing for four days in a row. So I spend a lot of time halving, quartering, tenthing (for gods sake) recipes. And I can never remember how many tablespoons are in ¼ cup, so I use this a lot: Recipe Measurements.

I buy 1% milk. Always. And so I have 1% milk in the house. And so that’s what I cook with. Even if the recipe says skim. Even if the recipe says whole. I use 1%. For things that really need whole: 1 cup skim milk plus 2 teaspoons melted butter equals one cup whole milk. It’s not exact. This is cooking not rocket science. Other good substitutions here.

(Please note: baking is kinda rocket science, so my devil may care attitude does not apply in that arena.)

I almost always use more herbs, spices, garlic, and salt than a recipe calls for. I almost certainly use less onion, curry paste and chipotles in adobo sauce than called for (ask my mom about this.) I’ve taken to buying and using shallots in place of onions as they are more “single serving” friendly. I now, thanks to L&L, generally use King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour. It is especially good in pancakes and applesauce cake. I use ground turkey whenever ground meat is called for. Land o’ Lakes butter is worth the extra money, and I use salted, even though I’m not supposed to. I only use olive oil, extra virgin when I wanna taste it, and extra light for frying and baking. I like Fage 2% Greek yogurt. I gave up canned chunk light tuna in water. Buy the Italian tuna packed in olive oil and forget about mayonnaise. You won’t miss it. (If you need mayonnaise though, buy it from Trader Joe’s. Theirs is the best.) I like the British Maldon salt. I am highly suspicious of the chunks in chunky peanut butter and only eat all natural, salted, smooth, peanut butter (Smuckers is good and comes in the economy size jar.)

Right then. That’s probably more than you wanted to know anyway.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Of Vegetables and Cars

I’m glad this week is over. Massive quantities of rain, totaled cars, and rotten vegetables.

What did I cook this week? Does toasting a bagel count as cooking?

What did I eat this week? I had Chinese takeout, and I ordered a pizza, I stopped at Taco Bell, had a Panera sandwich, and ended the week with a trip to TGI Fridays.

My God.

What about the fruits and vegetables you ask?
Yeah, what about the fruits and vegetables. I need to clean out the fridge…

Here’s to next week: with clear skies, new cars, and fresh produce yet again.