Friday, July 30, 2010

Blueberry Crumb Bars

In honor of summer and blueberry picking, we're continuing the trend of blueberry-related posts here at Dinner from Last Night. I'm going to start counting how many times I use the word "blueberry". Blueberry blueberry blueberry. That's 6, for those counting along.

John and I can't decide whether the Blueberry Ice Cream from Tuesday or the Blueberry Crumb Bars I'm posting today are better. It's really an amazingly delicious toss up. My stepmom Candy called these magical when I brought some on my visit to the homestead last week. So, maybe they win. Either way, they're both awesome.

Blueberry Crumb Bars
Source: Smitten Kitchen, originally from

1 and 1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cold unsalted butter
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
Zest and juice from 1 lemon
4 cups fresh blueberries
4 tsp cornstarch

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 9x13 baking dish.

In a medium bowl stir together 1 cup sugar, flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in butter and egg. Press half of the dough into the prepared pan.

In another bowl, stir together 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the blueberries. Spread blueberries over the crust. Sprinkle the remaining dough over the blueberry layer.

Bake for 45 minutes or until top crust is golden brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.


P.S. John unearthed his old super-nice flash, so if you've noticed significantly better lighting in the recent posts, no you are not going crazy. Be prepared for improved pictures!

P.S.S. I used the word "blueberry" 14 times. Sweet.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

CSA Share #6

CSA Share from this Saturday. On the menu for this week: garlic, beans, celery, scallions, carrots, beets, rainbow chard, zucchini, broccoli, basil, salad mix. Yum!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Blueberries Blueberries Everywhere

In an attempt to do things other than cook, clean, and watch TV all weekend, John and I went blueberry picking last Saturday afternoon. Which then resulted in me cooking everything and anything blueberry related all day Sunday. So really, our attempt to get out of the house resulted in us being cooped up in the kitchen making glorious blueberry treats all day. Which, in retrospect, wasn't necessarily a bad thing, since we get to eat all of the anti-oxidant rich goodies. See, we're being healthy, right?

We each picked over 2 pounds of blueberries... which means we had nearly 5 pounds. I'm not kidding 5 pounds of blueberries. And if you're looking for a cost-effective way of getting your hands on these little suckers, seriously go to a u-pick farm and pick them yourself. It was super fun, although super hot... but we got all of those blueberries for about $7. Seriously, ~5lbs for $7? Yes, please.

So far we've used up almost half and I'll be posting more ways to consume and cook blueberries in the next couple days. It will be antioxidant week on Dinner from Last Night! (In the fields I kept calling the blueberries "glorious sacks of antioxidants". I'm pretty sure John thought I had lost it... I'll chalk it up to heat exhaustion.)

Blueberry Ice Cream
Adapted from Annie Eats

I accidentally used way more vodka than the original recipe calls for. I thought I could remember the recipe and instead of walking back to my computer or printing it off, which would have been the intelligent thing to do, I just guessed. It came out really nicely though. From what I've read, the alcohol in the vodka keeps the ice cream from getting too hard in the freezer. The addition of more cream and vodka from the original recipe made this ice cream amazingly creamy and soft, which I wasn't expecting based on the ingredients. Feel free to dial the vodka down if that isn't your thing, or leave it out completely. This won't last long enough for the ice cream to get hard anyway!

2 cups fresh blueberries
3/4 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp vodka (optional)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

In a medium saucepan, cook blueberries, water and sugar over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool for about 30 seconds.

Transfer to a food processor or blender and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Be careful to let the processor vent! The blueberry mix will be HOT. If you want, strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve. I didn't do this step. I like the chunks. But, do whatever suits your ice-cream-consistency desires. Stir in the vodka if using. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 24. I let it go for a little under 3. I was impatient.

Add the cream and lemon juice to the blueberry mixture and stir to combine. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until firm. Or eat it straight from the ice cream maker for a little soupier ice cream.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

CSA Share #5

I've been so bad about posting our CSA shares lately. Usually parts of them are cooked before I can snap a picture! Luckily last week I forced myself to photograph our loot before eating any of it. Go me!

Last week we got green onions, carrots, beets, red potatoes, arugula, cabbage, kale, celery, eggplant and salad mix. Yay!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Greens with Toasted Almonds

Here's the rest of the dinner we made last Saturday night. We got a bunch of Kale and Chard in the CSA last week and I was being decidedly uncreative that night. We had already creamed, braised, and tried it raw. (P.S. raw kale = hard and bitter. I do not recommend.)

That night the big focus of the meal were those tasty potato cakes. I'm still having dreams about those little suckers. So good.

Anyway, after those, I just couldn't get in the mood to think up something stupendous to do with the chard and kale. So, I winged it. And people, the winging was goooooood. I should improvise dinner more often. This might have been my favorite recipe for greens yet!

Greens with Toasted Almonds
You could easily substitute whatever greens you have on hand in this recipes. It's versatile!

1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 cup finely sliced whites from scallions
1 bunch swiss chard, ripped into pieces
1 bunch kale, ripped into pieces
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat a saute pan over medium heat. Add the almonds to toast for 5-6 minutes, tossing occasionally. Don't let them burn! Remove to a plate and set aside.

In the same pan, heat about 2 tbsp olive oil. Add the scallion whites and cook until soft, about 3-4 minutes. In batches, add the kale and cook down. Once all of the kale has been added, start adding the chard. Sprinkle with a pinch or two of kosher salt and black pepper. Add balsamic vinegar and cook for a few minutes. Sprinkle on the almonds and stir to combine. Season to taste with more salt and pepper.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Potato Cakes with Green Onions

This was our dinner Saturday night (I know.... not last night. I'm busy, man.)

Balsamic Marinated Pork Tenderloin, Potato Cakes with Green Onions, Sauteed Greens with Toasted Almonds

It was fantastic. I'll post the recipe for the rest of the meal in the next few days, but I had to tell you about the awesome potato cakes we made. There were a ton of green onions in the CSA this week. We keep getting more and more... and I'm definitely not complaining! We've made stir-fry with them up until now, but I wanted to try a little something different. And I seem to be on a potato kick. We eat a lot of potatoes. They're cheap, delicious and nutritious! Well, at least I think so on the nutritious part...

I've started getting obsessed with my Ad Hoc at Home cookbook by Thomas Keller. My sister Tam gave it to me for my birthday this year (Thanks Tam!!!), and it's starting to become my go-to cookbook for weekend dinners. I say weekend because some of these things take a little more time than I have on the weekdays. Getting home at 6 and usually having a little more work to do from home in the evening doesn't leave a lot of wiggle room for time-consuming culinary masterpieces. That being said, everything I've tried from this cookbook has been amazing. Even if it takes more than 30 minutes.

But these little babies, they don't take much time at all to whip together. And, they're super delicious. (P.S. My brother tells me I looked like that little girl when I was 8 or so years old. I think I even had that shirt.)

Potato Cakes with Green Onions
From Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller
5 scallions
3 pounds large russet potatoes 1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup cornstarch
Canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200. Set a baking sheet in the oven to warm.

Cut the scallions on a severe diagonal and cut the dark greens into very thin slices (I used the rest of the greens and the whites of the onions in the Sauteed Kale and Swiss Chard recipe. Posting that tomorrow!)

Using a food processor with the coarse shredding blade. Peel the potatoes and shred them. Transfer the potatoes to a bowl of cold water and rinse the potatoes. Dry in a salad spinner. Transfer to another large bowl. Sprinkle the cornstarch around the sides of the bowl and toss the potatoes with it.

Heat some oil in a 10-inch nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add 1/6th of the potatoes, gently spreading them into an 8 to 9-inch circle. Do not press down on the potatoes, which will make the cake more dense. Season with a generous pinch of both salt and pepper. Reserve 1/4 cup of scallions and sprinkle 1/3 of the remaining scallion greens over the potatoes. Carefully spread another 1/6th of the potatoes on top. Sprinkle with more salt and pepper. Cook for 6 to 7 minutes to brown the bottom. Turn the pancake over to brown the other side. If you don't feel like you can flip it with a spatula, invert the pan onto a plate and then slide the cake back into the pan, brown side facing up. Cook until the second side is browned, 4-5 minutes. Transfer to the warm baking sheet in the oven. Repeat for the remaining 2 cakes.

Makes 3 potato cakes.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Red Potato and Blue Cheese Pie

There have been tons of potatoes at the farmers market in the past few weeks. I just haven't been able to resist them. I think we've bought them every week since we first saw them there.

After roasting, boiling, and frying up all the red potatoes we could, we were looking for something a little different to try. And honestly, who can turn down potatoes cooked in cream, covered in blue cheese and baked into a pie?

No one, I tell you no one can resist.

I certainly couldn't.

Red Potato and Blue Cheese Pie
Adapted (only a little) from Smitten Kitchen, originally from Gourmet

I still don't own a tart pan... don't hate. So, I used a pie crust I made a couple of weeks ago and stuck in the freezer. It has been begging me to use it. I really had no choice.

Your favorite pie crust (My current favorite is this one: Perfect Pie Crust from The Pioneer Woman)
1lb Red Potatoes
1 cup Heavy Cream
2 tsp Flour
1/2 cup Blue Cheese
1/2 tbsp Fresh Rosemary
1/2 tbsp Fresh Basil
Salt for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350. Cut potatoes into 1/4 inch slices. In a medium saucepan, cover potatoes in 2 inces of water. Cook, uncovered until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain.

In the prepared pie pan, arrange pie slices in concentric circles around the pie pan. Sprinkle blue cheese. Whisk together the flour and cream. Pour over pie and sprinkle herbs and salt.

Bake for 45-50 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes, and serve.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Herbed Foccacia

A few nights ago I had some friends over for a seriously girly mini movie marathon. John felt the need to leave so he wasn't overwhelmed by the dorkiness of the movies we were watching.

Anyway, I saw this recipe a few weeks ago and I couldn't wait to try it. And it seeme d like a perfect snack for hanging out and watching a few movies. And it was!

Herbed Foccacia
Originally from The Pioneer Woman

1 1/2 cup warm Water
1 1/2 tsp. Instant Yeast
2 Cups Bread Flour
2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/3 Cup Olive Oil
2 sprigs Rosemary, chopped
1/4 Cup loosely packed Basil leaves, chopped
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese

Sprinkle yeast over warm water. Let stand for a few minutes.

In a mixer, combine flour and salt. With the mixer running on low speed, drizzle the olive oil until combined. Next, pour in the yeast water mixture and mix until just combined.

Drizzle olive oil into a large mixing bowl. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to the bowl, coating it in olive oil. Cover the bowl tightly and leave it in a warm place for 1-2 hours (mine took 2).

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and kneed for a few seconds. Split the dough in two equal parts. Spread half the rosemary and sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese onto the dough. Kneed a little bit to mix the herbs and cheese into the dough. Using a rolling pin, spread the dough into a rectangle. Drizzle olive oil onto a cookie sheet and center the dough rectangle on the sheet. Cover with plastic wrap. Do the same with the basil and the other half of dough. Let the dough rise for 1 hour.

Remove plastic wrap and drizzle olive oil over foccacia. Sprinkle with kosher salt, Parmesan cheese, and remaining herbs.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake foccacia for 30 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Slice with a pizza slicer and serve warm. Yum!

Basil Pesto with Garlic Scapes

Is there anything better than a really good pesto? One that's loaded full of garlic and tastes like it just fell out of the garden onto your plate? OK, so maybe there are a few things that are better than a delicious pesto. But not many. I looooves me some good pesto.

When I saw the big bunch of basil in the last CSA share (from last week... I know, I'm behind) I knew I had to make some pesto. I added a little more basil from our garden to give it that extra punch. I also used some of the garlic scapes from the last share because we had them on hand. If you don't like your pesto to be super garlicy, then either use less garlic or cook it down a little bit to release some of the harsh garlic flavor. But in my oh-so-unprofessional opinion, more garlic can only make something better. Please imagine Homer Simpson saying "Mmmmmm Beer" but replace the beer with garlic. That's what's going through my head right now. Yum.

Basil Pesto with Garlic Scapes
1 bunch Basil
1/4 cup toasted Pine Nuts
2 Garlic Scapes, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
1/4-1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Toss the basil, pine nuts, and garlic scapes into a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is smooth. With the processor running, drizzle in enough olive oil so that the pesto becomes thinner, but not runny. Remove to a medium size bowl and mix in the parmesan cheese.

Some ways to enjoy your fresh pesto: with pasta, on toasted pieces of french bread, with a spoon, or my personal favorite on freshly make gnocchi.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

All American Meal

Last night, I went on a Smitten Kitchen binge. And of course, it was amazing. We decided to do our own little 4th of July celebration early and we had an absolute feast. I think I'm still full... Also I couldn't go anywhere because of the sprained ankle so we were stuck at home last night.

So we made this!

I won't type out recipes for our dinner from last night today because they can all be found in detail at Smitten Kitchen. If you haven't checked out this website yet, you really really should. It's out of this world.

Here's what we made:

Light Brioche Burger Buns

Amazing. It was my first experience making my own bread and it was SO worth it. Warning, these buns are much more filling than store-bought hamburger buns. John can usually eat 2 hamburgers but both of us could barely finish our first. But, they're so wonderful that you won't be sad about not being able to eat more hamburger.

Cabbage and Lime Salad with Roasted Peanuts

So before I get into this one, I have a confession to make. I cannot stand Cole Slaw. At all. Usually even the sight of it on my plate turns my stomach. But this cabbage salad, this I would eat all week and be happy. Light, refreshing, and really tasty. Cole slaw haters rejoice! We can finally enjoy cabbage!

Baked Pommes Frites

So yes, I know, "Pommes Frites" doesn't exactly sound All American to me either. But they really are just French Fries... with the French name. So embrace them and make them. So delicious.

These are John's patented hamburgers. OK, so he stole the recipe from his sister's boyfriend (Thanks Derek!). Here's the trick: when you're forming the patties, put a little bit of butter (maybe 1 teaspoon) into the center of the burger. This make the burgers juicier beyond your widest dreams. Also, if you were trying to find a way to make your next hamburger even more unhealthy, then here it is!

Make these for your next cookout! Yum!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp for Two

Last night I had every intention of posting this recipe. It's great for a cute little Friday night dessert for you and your sweetie. Or you and your fork before your sweetie gets home so that you remove any evidence of it's delicious existence.

I had such great plans. But then. I sprained the hell out of my ankle stepping down from the garden ledge. Quite possibly the most lame way I've ever heard of to sprain your ankle. I think I'll tell people that I was saving a baby from a burning building or chasing down some robbers who stole a little old lady's purse. That sounds heroic, right?

"Yeah, and I only came out with this strain. It doesn't hurt too bad. But like, totally worth it, ya know."

That makes me sound waaaaay cooler. And we'll just keep the actual reason between us, m'kay? OK, thanks.

Anyway, I spent most of last night curled up on the couch with a big bag of ice on my ankle watching old X-Files episodes. Also one of the coolest ways to spend a Friday night.

So, without further ado, here's the strawberry rhubarb crisp! Make it tonight. It will make you and whoever you choose to share it with sigh and be happy. That is, if you choose to share it with anyone. And I will completely understand if you choose that route. I almost did...

Last week we got a whopping 2 stalks of rhubarb from the CSA. As I was peeking into our box, I was thinking, "What do you do with 2 stalks of rhubarb??"

Well, ladies and gentleman. You do this! Cook it down with a bunch of strawberries and create a sort of make-shift crisp.

Next time, well that is if there is a next time this season, I'll cook the rhubarb down for a little bit in a suacepan to loosen it up a bit and then combine that with strawberries, throw a crumbly top onto it and make it that way. This version, while it tasted delicious, the texture was lacking what I think a good crisp should be. It was sort of more like a strawberry rhubarb jam with crisp on top. Really tasty, but it needed a little more to bite down into.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp for Two
For the Compote:
2 stalks Rhubarb
1 Pint Srawberries, stems removed
1/8 Cup Brown Sugar

Rhoughy chop the rhubarb. Add rhubarb, strawberries and brown sugar to a medium sized sauce pan. Turn the heat to low, cover, and cook for 10-15 minutes until the rhubarb has broken down. It should look a pretty watery at this point. Turn the heat to medium to medium-low and cook uncovered for 10-15, until thick.

For the Crisp:
1/4 Cup Oatmeal
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1/8 Tsp. Cinnamon
1 Tbsp. Flour
1 Tbsp. Butter

Combine oatmeal, brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour in a small bowl. Using a fork or a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Preheat the oven to 350. Divide the compote evenly between two small oven-proof containers (or 1 larger bowl). Sprinkle the crisp topping evenly between the two bowls. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the compote starts to bubble and the crisp topping is golden brown.

Yum! Enjoy!

P.S. If you try this without making the compote, let me know! I'd love to try it but I'm pretty sure strawberry and rhubarb season is over here in Michigan, hence the not-so-perfect nature of this post.