On the Side: Chipotle Cheddar Chard

We’re all in need of a little more green in our lives–be that greenbacks, a green thumb, or green consciousness. I’d happily have a little more of any of that in my life, but one green thing I’m always searching for is new recipes for greens. Typically I make a batch of green soup to enjoy throughout the week. But sometimes that just doesn’t cut it.

My default bunch of greens to purchase at the grocery or farmer’s market is usually spinach or kale. However, in an attempt to bring versatility to our diet and knowing greens are the heavy lifters of good nutrients, I’ve been experimenting with other varieties and recipes.

Last week I grabbed a bunch of swiss chard and tried out this recipe from the new cookbook The Simple Art of Eating Well. My greens-hesitant husband asked for the leftovers in his lunch. The chipotle powder adds a delightful smoky edge to this tasty, cheesy dish.

(from The Simple Art of Eating Well)
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1 lb chard
2 tsp canola oil
1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/4 c. chicken broth or water
1/4-1/2 tsp ground chipotle powder
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Wash chard and let water cling to the leaves (it helps steam the chard and keeps the dish room drying out); separate stems and leaves and chop.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the stems and onion; cook, stirring often, until softened, 3-5 minutes. Add tomato, broth (or water), chipotle to taste and salt; bring to a simmer. Add the leaves; cook, covered, stirring once, until just tender, about 2 minutes. Scatter cheese on top and cook, uncovered, until it is melted, 1-2 minutes more. Serves 4-6.

Off The Shelf: September Magazines

**Just a reminder that we are planning to try another edition of Foodie Fridays tomorrow! Hopefully we will get some participants! It’s a great opportunity to share your cooking adventures, best recipes, and more with fellow home cooks and foodies!**

Everyday FOOD — (Heather) This is a very seasonal issue, filled with late summer, early autumn food. The spread on tomatoes is beautiful, and the six fresh recipes all look amazing. The Cuban Dinner feature looks delicious, and not too hard to put together.

The Gnocchi dishes made me wish I wasn’t eating gluten-free just now (I wonder if I could substitute gluten-free flour blend??). A clever article on new ways for muffin tins features deep-dish pizzas, toast cups, mushroom tartlets, eggplant pies, and tortilla cups with fruit.

There is a helpful article on freezing summer produce, and then recipes to use your frozen produce in. And, there is a bake sale article filled with sumptuous baked goodies. Scattered throughout the magazine are one-pot dishes, side dishes and weeknight dinners. Definitely a great issue!

I chose to try the tomatoes with eggs baked inside. It was perfect for a light supper on Sunday evening, or if you’ve had a large lunch earlier in the day.

(Everyday FOOD, Sept. 2010)

4 large beefsteak tomatoes
coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
4 large eggs
2 tsp. snipped fresh chives
1/4 cup grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese (1/4 ounce)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-inch baking dish or pie plate with parchment. With a serrated knife, cut off the top 1/2 inch from each tomato. With a spoon or a melon baller, gently remove seeds and inner membrane, being careful not to break through flesh of tomato. Place tomatoes in dish and season with salt and pepper.

Divide corn among tomatoes. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and chives and season with salt and pepper. Divide egg mixture among tomatoes and top with cheese. Bake until egg mixture is set, 45 to 50 minutes. Serve warm.

Serves 4.

Better Homes & Gardens(Alaina) This issue has some really great looking recipes. I like that BHG includes all kinds of things around your home – organizing, cooking, gardening, decorating and more. It highlights some wonderful recipes including Donuts, Slow Cooker Indian Chicken Stew,  Mushroom and Poblano Vegetarian Enchiladas, and Buttered Apples in Maple Syrup Custard.

I made the Rustic Swiss Chard & Mozarella Tart. It was delicious and most of my family really liked it. The crust was amazing and I’m imagining all the wonderful combinations I could put inside of it. Sometimes getting my family to eat greens (which are incredibly nutritious) is challenging and I think this recipe is a great way to incorporate them into our diet!

(Better Homes & Gardens, September issue)
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1  recipe  Pastry, recipe below
1  bunch  Swiss chard, washed and chopped (about 5 cups)
1  cup  chopped leeks (I actually substituted sweet onions since I didn’t have any leeks on hand)
4  cloves  garlic, minced
1/4  tsp.  dried thyme, crushed
1  Tbsp.  olive oil
3/4  cup  shredded mozzarella cheese
Fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley (optional)

Prepare Pastry, below. Wrap and refrigerate (up to 1 hour) while preparing filling.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. For filling, in a large skillet cook chard, leeks, garlic, thyme, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. black pepper in hot oil over medium heat for 4 minutes or until chard wilts and leeks are tender. Cool slightly. Stir in cheese; set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll pastry to a 12-inch circle. Transfer to a parchment-lined greased baking sheet. Spoon filling into center of the pastry circle, leaving a 2-inch border. Fold dough over filling, leaving center open and pleating edges of dough. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until golden. Serve hot. Sprinkle with parsley. Makes 4 main-dish or 8 appetizer servings

Pastry: In a large bowl combine 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour and 1/4 tsp. salt. Cut up 1/2 cup cold butter; cut into flour until mixture resembles coarse meal. Combine 1/4 cup ice-cold water, 1/4 cup sour cream, and 2 tsp. lemon juice. Add half the sour cream mixture to flour mixture; toss with a fork. Add remaining sour cream mixture; toss with fork until mixture is moistened. Form into a ball.

Cooking Light(Alaina)  This issue is packed with healthy, easy recipes. It’s perfect for the home cook. It includes a list of the Top 20 ingredients to have on hand for quick cooking. And it has a section on cooking with your pressure cooker (I have yet to get one but they look awesome!). I think the October issue of Cooking Light will be a bit more fall-ish but this is a great magazine overall!

I made the cover dish – Maple-Glazed Salmon. It was wonderful – the dry rub really masked the fish-y-ness and gave great flavor! The kids liked this better than the last time I made salmon. I will definitely make this again. It’s also a quick recipe – 20-30 minutes from start to finish.

(Cooking Light, September 2010)
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1  teaspoon  paprika
1/2  teaspoon  chili powder
1/2  teaspoon  ground ancho chile powder
1/4  teaspoon  ground cumin
1/4  teaspoon  brown sugar
1  teaspoon  kosher salt
4  (6-ounce) Alaskan salmon fillets
Cooking spray
2  tablespoons  maple syrup

Preheat broiler.

Combine first 6 ingredients; rub spice mixture evenly over flesh side of fillets. Place fish on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray; broil 6 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Brush fillets evenly with syrup; broil 1 minute.

Counter Culture

Summer is a beautiful time in the kitchen. There are so many fresh, colorful, delicious foods to set on the table. Here is a pictorial tour of what’s been happening on my counters:

Fried Squash Blossoms: these are a once-a-year treat! Stuffed with ricotta, garlic and herbs, and then fried in a mesa flour batter, they are an amazing appetizer. One hint: pick your flowers early in the day before they close up! Otherwise they are just too hard to stuff.

Grilled Pizza: I did go ahead and try Bobby Flay’s recipe. We all loved it. The grilled pizzas did take a lot longer than I hoped. First we had to cook enough flatbread for 8 people, then we had to put on the toppings and get them all back on the grill.

Once I resigned myself to this being an “event” rather than just a quick dinner, things went a lot better. It’s an ideal meal to make with company on your back patio with a beautiful evening to enjoy.

Kale Chips: You may have noticed that Kale Chips are all the rage on the internet this year. When a large bunch of kale arrived in our CSA produce recently I decided to join the crowd. Surprise, surprise! The kale chips were absolutely amazing and I’ll be making those again! (Here is a recipe to try.)

Jam: One day a friend came over and we made jam: peach, peach-ginger, strawberry-rhubarb, and mint jelly. The sheet that comes inside the pectin boxes has just about any basic recipe on it and we followed that for most of what we did. For the peach-ginger jam, I added chopped crystallized ginger to the peach recipe. (In case you are wondering what’s wrong with the mint jelly — the jar pictured was the leftovers in the pot, including the scum.)

I finally harvested some rainbow swiss chard from my garden!

It seems once a summer we sit down to an all yellow meal!

I hope you all are also enjoying the delicious produce of summer!

Counter Culture

My counters have been busy this week: from the stacks of china and glass to be put away after my daughter’s baptism dinner to the mountain of baking on my to-do list, and then the testing of our new ice-cream machine! Yes, we are now the proud owners of a Cuisinart Automatic Ice-Cream Maker!!! This was our first attempt:

The kids decided on mint chocolate chip and we happened to have the chocolate and green chocolate chips to add. We all loved the results and the next night we tried raspberry frozen yogurt — also very delicious. Making one’s own ice-cream means you can control the ingredients, especially the sugar. So far we’ve been using about 1/3 of the amount called for in ice-cream recipes. No doubt ice-cream recipes will begin to appear on The Cooks Next Door.

Getting my CSA each week is something I really look forward to. I love the challenge of using the vegetables we get.

Here’s some of what we’ve eaten recently:

Swiss Chard — I made this Swiss Chard Lasagna and it was so good I hope to make it again soon
Kohlrabi — a relative of the cabbage, I added mine to coleslaw
Peas — we ate the sugar snaps raw and the boys shelled the shell peas to be steamed for dinner
Cabbage — we all love coleslaw and that’s what we did with our beautiful cabbage
Kale — I made an amazing Italian sausage, white bean and kale soup which I plan to make again this week
Mustard Greens — I used these greens in place of spinach in a Greek rice salad
Herbs — we’ve been given a lot of “cutting celery” which I’ve never heard of before. It has the appearance of overgrown parsley but tastes more like celery. I’ve been using it in salads and as a substitute for parsley.
Basil — I came home with a shopping bag full of basil and decided pesto was in order. The recipe I found gave options for freezing, which was perfect for me. Seven little jars found their way into the freezer.

(Food Network)
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2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts (I left these out)
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese

Combine the basil, garlic and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

If using immediately, add all the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and mix in the cheese.

If freezing, transfer to air-tight container and drizzle remaining oil over top. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw and stir in the cheese.

Makes 1 cup.

Last, but not least, the children and I went black raspberry picking in the nearby woods last week. When we got home we made handpies with the berries we found. It made me think of my childhood and the memories I have of berry picking. Hopefully my children will someday look back and remember the fun we had (even though we all ended up being eaten up by bugs!!).

Counter Culture

Here in my kitchen we’ve begun to enjoy the first produce from our garden: radishes of course, and the peas have started as well. The lettuce has been ready to pick for some time, I’m just waiting until I need it!

I started my garden last year, dug in the terrible, clay-filled soil of my backyard. I have dumped in straw, peat, and manure, but from what I’ve been told, it is going to take a number of years to get the dirt in good condition. Right now I have to rely on Miracle Gro if I want anything to stay green and actually grow. As time goes on I hope my dirt will develop so I won’t need that.

The most fun thing about the garden right now is that it has brought many, many birds to our backyard, including a pair of mallards who fly in each evening to peck at the leftover birdseed (and hopefully not at my little plants). The golden finches are finding the beet greens to be very tasty.

Each week I eagerly anticipate my CSA pickup. It’s kind of like getting a pile of presents to open. Swiss chard was among the recent arrivals. I often marvel at the amazing colors we get to enjoy while working in the kitchen. Food can be so beautiful! Just look at this PINK color. And look how it is paired with green (the natural complement of pink/red) to make a stunning combination.

I chopped the chard stalk and sautéed it with onion until soft then added in the cut greens and continued sauteeing until all was soft. A little balsamic vinegar finished it off.

Last Saturday was my annual day for  garage-saleing.  I’m always on the hunt for new things for my kitchen. I found the red-checked tablecloth which will be perfect for summer, and a few different antique china platters (50 cents each) as well as a beautiful green glass bowl.

I was most happy to find a brand new salad spinner for $2. The spinner I have been using was a wedding gift and had served us faithfully since then. The spinner happened to break the same week as my washing machine and I did feel as though my trusted tools were falling apart around me! (Especially since the dishwasher was also broken.)

I hope you all are enjoying the beginning of summer and all the lovely produce that is beginning to be available. If you have the chance, check out your local farmer’s market — it is always very inspirational to me, even if I can’t buy much. One of these weeks I’ll have to take you on a tour of our local market…

Off The Shelf: June Magazines

Cooking Light (Heather) — the June issue begins with six superfast ways to cook beef and then launches into a sorbet taste-test. Features this month include: healthy grilling, making the perfect cake, and eating in Sante Fe. A large section devoted to variations on potato salad caught my eye. The summer cookbook section is full of interesting recipes using summer fruits and vegetables. As always there are also interesting articles and plenty of other recipes. All in all, this issue has its season right (summer)!

I chose to try the Herbed Ricotta Tart since I had many of the ingredients from my CSA. This recipe was simple to follow and turned out fantastic! I can’t wait to make it again, and even improvise a bit on the ingredients. It is an excellent idea for a brunch — something other than the usual quiche!

(Cooking Light, June 2010)
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 1 (11-ounce) can refrigerated pizza crust dough (or homemade!)
cooking spray
2 cups thinly sliced green onions
1 1/3 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh chives
2 Tbsp. minced fresh dill
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 large egg white, lightly beaten (I just used a whole egg)
2 Tbsp. finely grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat oven to 375F.

Unroll dough, and press into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch round removeable-bottom tart pan coated with cooking spray.

Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add thinly sliced green onions to pan; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Combine cooked green onions, ricotta cheese, sliced fresh chives, minced fresh dill, salt, pepper, eggs and egg white. Pour onion mixture into prepared crust; sprinkle mixture with Parmigianno-Reggiano. Bake at 375F for 35 minutes or until center is set. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut into wedges.

Serves 6.

Bon Appetit (Heather) — this issue is, of course, focused on summer. Instead of sorbets, Bon Appetit is reviewing ice-cream and giving recipes for smoothies. If you want to learn about tamarind and how to cook with it, this is the issue for you! As with Cooking Light, there are many grilled recipes and some lovely side dishes. I do feel as if the recipes in this magazine tend to be a bit more gourmet and involved — definitely what I call weekend cooking.

That said, the recipe I tried (Frittata Bites with Chard, Sausage and Feta) exceeded my expectations. The texture and taste were delicious, and even one of my kids who “hates greens” decided they liked swiss chard after eating this. I plan to use it as a breakfast casserole when entertaining and hope to make it again for dinner some evening. The frittata bites in the magazine were much taller, but that’s because they used a smaller baking pan and I used a larger one — mostly because I accidentally doubled the sausage, but also to help shorten the cooking time.

(Bon Appetit, June 2010)
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nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 12-ounce bunch Swiss chard, stems and center ribs removed
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
8 ounces mild Italian sausages, casings removed, sausage broken into 1-inch pieces
8 large eggs
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 4 1/2 ounces)
fresh Italian parsley leaves

Preheat oven to 325F. Spray an 8x8x2-inch glass baking dish with nonstick spray. Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Add Swiss chard and cook until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Drain. Finely chop chard, then place in kitchen towel and squeeze dry. Set chard aside.

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion to skillet and saute until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add sausage and saute until brown and cooked through, breaking up with a fork, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

Whisk eggs, cream, salt and pepper in large bowl to blend. Add chard and cooled sausage mixture, then feta; stir to blend. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish.

Bake frittata until set in center, 45 to 55 minutes. Transfer baking dish to rack and cool frittata 15 to 20 minutes. Place platter atop dish with frittata. Using oven mitts, hold baking dish and platter firmly together and invert frittata onto platter; place another platter atop fritata and invert again so that frittata is right side up. Cut frittata into 20 pieces.

Can be made one day ahead. Place frittata pieces on rimmed baking sheet. Cover and chill. Rewarm in 325F oven until heated through, about 10 minutes.

Transfer frittata pieces to platter. Garnish each piece with parsley; serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 20 bite-sized portions.

Organic Gardening (Heather) — Organic Gardening is not a cooking magazine, but I wanted to mention it here because it encourages so much of what we like here at The Cooks Next Door: local, fresh, seasonal, organic.

This magazine has been around since World War II, and year after year brings helpful articles on how to grow your own food. The June/July issue includes articles on cooking with tomatoes, keeping hens in the backyard, varieties of peppers, a rural garden in England, and caring for your grass in a greener way. Scattered throughout the magazine are many more short, helpful articles for your garden or yard.

Having seen watermelon and tomato salads mentioned everywhere this summer, I decided to try the recipe in Organic Gardening. The result was beautiful, as well as delicious. Seasoned with salt, lime juice and basil shreds, the combination of watermelon and tomatoes worked well together. It’s the perfect salad to bring to your next summer gathering.

(Organic Gardening, June/July 2010)
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 4 cups melon balls, scooped from a ripe, sweet watermelon at room temperature
3 cups ripe ‘Sungold’ cherry tomato halves, at room temperature (I used a gourmet selection from the supermarket)
4 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh spearmint
3/4 tsp. kosher salt

Toss all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Serves 8.

(Alaina) I haven’t written about Better Homes & Gardens but I really like this magazine. It’s especially great for summer with the combination of gardening, home decorating, and recipes. They offer interesting articles and many do-it yourself project ideas. The recipes include several grilling recipes. The Corn & Blueberry Salad, the Chocolate Marchmallow Ice Cream Sandwiches, and the twists on BBQ sauce are all recipes I would like to try!

I decided to make the Junebug “Mocktail” (a non-alcoholic mixed drink). It was quite sweet but my family really liked it! You could serve this as a dessert with a scoop of sherbet on top. It’s quite refreshing for a hot day!

(Better Homes & Gardens, June 2010)
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3 c. ginger ale
4 Tb. grenadine
4 Tb. orange juice
3 scoops orange sherbet

Blend together ginger ale, grenadine, orange juice, and sherbet. Pour into ice-filled cocktail glasses.

Serves 4.

(Alaina) Food Network Magazine has a great issue including many summer recipes and many grilling recipes. This magazine draws from a variety of different chefs which makes for a really good publication. They continue to provide a 50 recipe pull-out section – this month features burger recipes which is perfect for summer. The different sauces and pestos looked delicious as well as the Foil-Packet Fish w/Corn Relish, Watermelon-Cucumber Salad, Strawberries and Cream Tart, and Blackberry Lemonade!

I was in need of a quick dessert, so I made Guy Fieri’s Blondies w/Dark Roots. These were better the next day and definitely better served completely cooled. While I liked these, I probably won’t make them again because they were a little cakier and a little drier then I prefer. The combination of the coconut, pecans, and dark chocolate was really nice, though!

 (Food Network Magazine, June 2010)
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1 c.  flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
5 1/3 TB. ( 1/3 c.) butter, at room temperature
3 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 c. packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1 Tb. vanilla extract
1/2 c. chopped hazelnuts (I subbed pecans b/c I didn’t have any hazelnuts)
1/4 c. sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 c. dark chocolate chips or chunks

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray  an 8-inch-square glass baking dish with cooking spray. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.

Beat the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy. Add the brown sugar and beat 3 to 4 more minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Fold in the hazelnuts, coconut and chocolate chips with a wooden spoon.

Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool 20 minutes in the pan before slicing.

Serves 9.