Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Spicy Sausage Kohlrabi Bake

It all started with a difference of opinion.  On one side, sausage, rice, onions, finished.  The other, a masterpiece, or shall I say, a matsonpiece, waiting to be created.  Kohlrabi, kohlrabi, kohlrabi.  That's all she said, and that's all it took.  So here we are folks!

This is a fusion of two intertwined (unbeknownst to them) dinner destinies.

-2 links chicken sausage (whatever flavor you desire), chopped
-1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
-3 cloves garlic, chopped
-1 freshly picked kohlrabi, leaves removed with bulb and stems peeled and chopped
-1 (32 oz) can stewed tomatoes 
-basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste
-kohlrabi greens (leaves), chopped finely
-handful of spaghetti
-grated mozzarella and Parmesan cheese

->Brown sausage in oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic.  Cook until onions are translucent. Add kohlrabi stems and bulb.  Cover and cook until well mixed.  

Meanwhile, cook spaghetti until al dente.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  

Add tomatoes and spices to the kohlrabi-sausage skillet and simmer until kohlrabi is fork tender and tomatoes have reduced into a thick sauce.  Add kohlrabi greens and mix until wilted.  

Mix spaghetti and kohlrabi-sausage sauce together.   Pour into a large casserole dish.  Cover with desired amount of grated mozz and parm (we desired lots) and a sprinkle of basil and oregano.  Put casserole into preheated oven.  Bake until cheese is bubbly and golden.  

Serve with a fresh garden salad, and enjoy!

~*TIP:  If you don't have access to kohlrabi for this recipe, you can as always use kale or collards in place of the greens and broccoli (especially the stems) in place of the bulb.  However, a great alternative for later in the summer would be replace the kohlrabi with fresh, chopped peppers and eggplant.  Mmmmm....*~

Aunt Mae's Birds

This post is for a very special fella that we know by the name of Slick Action Jackson.  Amanda showed me this nest of birds in her front yard so I took a little footage of the lil' suckers for her nephew Jack.  I also took a little film of a bird in my front yard recently and thought that fit here as well.  Enjoy!

Baby Birds:

A Bird in the Yard is Worth Two in the Sky:

and then...  she's like...  what?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Stuffed "Grape" Leaves

Don't let 'em fool you...  These may look like stuffed grape leaves, but they are made with the pickled kohlrabi leaves from the last post.  If you didn't bother to pickle any kohlrabi leaves, no worries.  You can pick up a jar of grape leaves at the grocery store and make these from some someone else canned.  You just may want to rinse them before you use them because they'll be made with a lot more salt.  They seem like they take a lot of time to make, but it's mostly down time, and they were well worth it!
-1 large onion, chopped finely
-zest of one lemon
-1/2 c pine nuts
-1 c brown rice
-3 c vegetable stock
-2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill (or one Tbsp dried)
-1/4 c chopped parsley
-kohlrabi leaves, pickled a few days before (see last post)
-juice of two lemons

->Saute onion in oil with lemon zest until translucent.  Add pine nuts and rice.  Stir until coated.  Add 2 c vegetable stock 1/2 c at a time, simmer rice until liquid is evaporated each time and rice is almost cooked, but still a little crunchy in the middle (about 20 min).  Take off the heat and add dill and parsley.  Mix.
Unroll kohlrabi leaf and lay it out flat.  Put about 2 Tbsp of rice filling at the stem end of the leaf.  Then you will want to roll the filling up in the leaf like a burrito.  Fold the bottom of the leaf over the rice, then fold in the sides of the leaf.  Roll the rice mixture all the way up in the leaf.  Once it is rolled up, squeeze the stuffed leaf gently in your fist to remove any air or extra liquid.
Put the stuffed kohlrabi leaves in a wide deep skillet, seam-side down.  Pour the remaining broth, lemon juice and a heave drizzle of olive oil over them.  The liquid should be about halfway up the sides of the grape leaves.  If it isn't, add water or broth until it is.  Simmer with the lid on for about 30 minutes.  Remove from liquid.  Serve at room temperature or chilled on a bed of lettuce and garnish with olives (if for guests), or eat them straight out of the pan (if for you).

~*TIP: Put a heavy plate (or two) over the stuffed grape leaves while cooking them in the pan to hold them in place so that they don't unroll while simmering.*~

Pickled Kohlrabi Leaves

With my most recent kohlrabi harvest, because the actual kohlrabi stem did not really swell like it should on most of my plants, I am left with an abundance of kohlrabi greens to use.  I've put them to almost every use I can think of, but still I wondered, is there any way I could preserve these to use later?  Freeze them?  Can them?  Canning greens sounds gross, right?  But then I wondered if there would be a way to pickle kohlrabi leaves in the same way grape leaves are pickled.  Here is my attempt.  You could of course use this recipe on actual grape leaves or other sturdy greens.
-Kohlrabi greens, rinsed (at least 10 intact leaves bigger than your hand)
-2 tsp kosher salt
-1 c lemon juice
-1 quart water

->To prepare the kohlrabi leaves, cut stems off of leaves flush with leaf.  Trim thicker parts of stems off of back of leaves.  Blanch leaves by plunging them into boiling water until bright green then take out and stack flat.
Combine salt, water, and lemon juice and bring to a boil.
While waiting for liquid to boil, roll leaves up so that they will fit inside of a quart jar.  I rolled mine individually so that they would fill the entire jar, but if you had a lot of leaves, you could roll them in groups of three.  I find it works best to roll them like a burrito, fold in the sides of the leaf, and then roll them up.
Situate rolled leaves in a quart jar.  Pour hot liquid over the leaves, and put the lid and ring on the jar.  This would be the time to process the jar of kohlrabi leaves if you want to can them long term.  However, I planned to use them this week, so I just let the jar cool and then put it in the refrigerator.

~*TIP: See next post for how to use these to make home-made stuffed grape leaves, one of my favorites.*~

Monday, May 10, 2010

Hakuna Frittata

Whenever I say frittata, Derek breaks into song with Hakuna Frittata (like in the lion king, but about frittatas)...  so this kohlrabi-packed frittata is named in honor of his vocal abilities.  To initiate the week of kohlrabi, try this out for any meal of the day!  Think of a frittata like an omelet if you want to have it for breakfast or a quiche if for brunch or a Spanish-style tortilla if for lunch or dinner.  It's a great way to use kohlrabi, but as noted in the last post, you can sub in broccoli stems and other greens if you can't find kohlrabi.  Oh, and one last thing, please be sure to sing hakuna frittata while making this dish.

-1 medium onion, chopped
-3-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 large kohlrabi (or more), sliced thinly
-stems from kohlrabi greens, sliced thinly
-1 large bunch of kohlrabi greens, sliced thinly
-6 eggs, beaten and seasoned
-1/4-1/2 c sharp white cheddar, shredded

->  Sautè onion and garlic over medium heat in a small (omelet-sized) pan until well mixed.  Add stems from kohlrabi greens.  Cook for a few minutes, and then add kohlrabi.  Cook until onions are translucent and kohlrabi is fork tender.  Add greens.  Mix in and cook until just wilted.
Meanwhile, season beaten eggs with salt, pepper, and thyme.  When greens are wilted, pour eggs over vegetable mixture.  Mix gently so that eggs fill all the gaps between veggies.  Cook over medium-low heat *without stirring* until the mixture begins to set up underneath (the top will still be runny), or in my case until you start to smell burning eggs.  :)
Top with cheese.  Put the oven on broil, and pop it in until cheese is melted and golden and eggs have puffed up.  Let cool a few minutes.  Then, slice like pie and serve in wedges.  Sprinkle with parsley or other fresh herbs if desired.  Would also be good with a drizzle of plain yogurt.  Mmmmm....

~*TIP: If you're not so sure about how oven-safe your pan handle is, you can cover it with aluminum foil before putting it in the oven to protect it from the heat.*~

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sweet and Nutty Kohlrabi Stir Fry

The Week of Kohlrabi continues!  I used my last few carrots from the garden with the kohlrabi and greens in this stir fry.  The sliced kohlrabi ball functions a lot like water chestnuts in this.  It's really sweet, tender, and juicy!  The greens are really mild and tasty, not as in-your-face as cabbage might be.  For the sauce, feel free to adjust it to whatever ingredients you have...  the key is something sweet (honey, brown sugar,...), something sour (vinegar, lime,...), something salty (soy sauce, peanut butter,...), and a few things spicy (garlic, onion, ginger, red pepper,...).

-3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (or other)
-1 Tbsp soy sauce
-1 Tbsp sesame oil
-2 Tbsp honey
-1/4 c peanut butter
-1 c water
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-3 green onions, white parts, sliced (you'll use the green parts later)
-1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced (or 1-2 tsp dried)
-red pepper flakes, to taste

->Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan.  Simmer, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened and bubbly.

Stir Fry:
-1 medium onion, chopped
-3-4 cloves garlic, minced
-stems from kohlrabi greens, sliced thinly
-1 large kohlrabi, peeled and sliced in rounds
-3 small carrots, sliced in rounds
-1 large bunch of kohlrabi greens, stems removed, shredded/sliced thinly
-brown rice, prepared
-green garlic, green onions, fresh cilantro, chopped
-peanuts, crushed

-While sauce simmers, begin stir fry.  Sauté onions and garlic in oil over medium heat until translucent.  Add kohlrabi stems from greens and cook until tender.  Add sliced kohlrabi and carrots.  Cook 2-3 minutes (you want them to stay a little crunchy).  Add greens and mix in.  Take off heat.

-->Pour sauce over stir fry.  Serve over brown rice or other grain.  Top with sliced green garlic and/or green onion tops, chopped cilantro, and crushed peanuts (or whatever else you like!).

~*TIP: To pare your kohlrabi (if adapting to broccoli stem, it will be a similar strategy), cut off both ends of the ball.  You'll need to take off more on the bottom where it's woodier, whereas on the top, it should be pretty tender, so you only need to take the skin off.  Then stand it up on one of the sliced ends and run your paring knife down the sides to peel off any woody exterior with the skin.  If you look at either end, you'll see a noticeable ring around the outside so you can tell where the woody part ends and the tender inside begins.  Pare carefully!  You don't want to waste any of the yummy insides.  In the end, it will look like the picture below.*~

Friday, May 7, 2010

Week of Kohlrabi!

Once again this year I have more kohlrabi ready to eat than I know what to do with. Last year I was giving it away, hosting kohlrabi-themed dinner parties (kohlrowdy night), and making whatever I could think of out of it. This year, things are a little more complicated... The crop that is ready now was planted last fall, and most of it is bolting (going to flower) instead of forming the ball at the base of the stem that you normally eat. So really, I have more kohlrabi greens than I know what to do with and a few small swollen stems to eat.  Therefore, this week on Shoots and Platters will be "Week of Kohlrabi" with new kohlrabi recipes appearing almost daily.  But first, a quick primer on kohlrabi...
  • What part do you eat?
    • In the picture above, the part most commonly eaten and the part you would get in the grocery store is the swollen ball at the base of the stem (where all the leaves are coming out).  It will come trimmed of all stems and leaves when you buy it in the store.  This part is normally larger, but, as noted above, mine are not producing as well as hoped.  Luckily Derek and I both have another spring-planted crop coming in a few weeks.
    • You can also eat the leaves and stems, which I generally try to do rather than throwing them on the compost heap.  I highly recommend them.  It's best to strip the leaves from the stems, and then slice and cook the stems longer than the leaves, as they can be a little tougher.  
  • What does it taste like?
    • To me, the stem part tastes like broccoli stems (which are also edible and delicious and shouldn't be thrown out), but maybe sweeter and more tender.  Some people say it tastes like water chestnuts or even apples, but I don't think I'd go quite that far.  
    • The greens are similar in texture and flavor to kale or collards (or broccoli or cauliflower leaves -also edible), and generally pretty mild and tasty.  
  • How do I use it?
    • Of course, this is what the next week of posts is about, so more to come here.  In general, the swollen stem is peeled and eaten in any number of ways, in curries, slaws, salads, you name it!  The leaves can be saut
  • What if I don't have access to Kohlrabi?  Should I just ignore this week?
    • No!  The kohlrabi in these recipes can be substituted in a number of ways if you can't get it (but I do of course encourage you to try to find it and/or grow it).  As noted above, the stem is similar to texture and taste to peeled broccoli stems, so that is a perfect substitute.  The greens can be substituted with kale, collards, chard, whatever you have.
  • Other fun facts about Kohlrabi...
    • Kohlrabi is a cruciferous vegetable, in the same family as broccoli and cabbage...  It's also called a "German Turnip".  The first time I had it was actually in Germany when my friend peeled it, sliced it, and boiled it in bouillon.  Not bad.  It's really easy to grow from seed, but most garden centers by me are carrying it in transplant form in spring and fall these days.  It comes in a purple variety (pictured above) or green.  I'm growing both.  It grows fast and easy and is subject to the same pests as cabbages and broccoli.  
Let the Week of Kohlrabi commence!  

    Spring has sprung, and it's about to fly away...

    A few weeks ago, while trimming our bushes, I discovered a bird's nest with four little blue eggs in it.  I now understand what "robin's egg blue" means.  :)  I've been monitoring the eggs ever since.  I take pictures of them from time to time, but mama does not like that very much.  She squawks and squawks at me whenever I go over there.  As soon as I'm gone, she's back to flying and forth to the nest again with tasty treats for all of them.  So far we have a 100% success rate!  All four eggs have hatched, and all four little birds are still there, but everyday they get more feathers (last pic is most recent), and everyday we're closer to them flying away! Check them out...

    Bran Apple Cakes with Sweet Tator Scramble

    This is a really filling and balanced breakfast or weekend brunch.  Both the pancakes and the scramble are pretty good reheated throughout the week too.  I used arugula as the greens in this, but you could also use spinach or even kale if you cook it slightly longer.  The goat cheese could also of course be replaced with whatever cheese you have around, but it's particularly good with the arugula.  

    Bran Apple Cakes:
    -3/4 c oat or wheat bran
    -1/2 c whole wheat flour
    -1 Tbsp baking powder
    -1/2 tsp salt
    -1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
    -1/4 tsp ground ginger
    -1 c milk
    -1 egg
    -1 Tbsp oil
    -2 tsp honey
    -1 large apple, shredded
    -1/4 c chopped walnuts

    -> Combine all ingredients and cook on a medium-hot, greased pan until golden brown on both sides.  Top with butter and (Matson) maple syrup (if you've got it), and enjoy!  

    Sweet Tator Scramble
    -1 medium onion, chopped
    -2 cloves garlic, minced
    -1 large sweet potato, chopped
    -red pepper flakes
    -6 eggs, beaten and seasoned with salt and pepper
    -2 c chopped arugula
    -goat cheese

    -> Sauté onion and garlic in oil over medium heat until translucent.  Add sweet potato and red pepper flakes to taste, cover.  Cook covered stirring occasionally until sweet potato is fork tender.  Add eggs and stir occasionally until cooked.  Add arugula and stir it in to the egg and  potato scramble.  Plate and crumble goat cheese over the top.  

    ~*TIP: If you don't have any maple syrup around, another tasty topper for the pancakes is to make a cranberry syrup out of an old leftover can of cranberry sauce or jar of cranberry chutney you have around.  Just simmer the sauce with some water (about 2:1 sauce to water).  Add some honey, brown sugar, or whatever you have on hand to sweeten to your taste (I use the maple syrup that crystallizes in the bottom of the jar when I'm all out).  Simmer until thick and bubbly. Use right away or store in the fridge for up to a few weeks.  You can also chop up fresh cranberries and add them to the pancakes themselves.  This is great in fall when you can find fresh cranberries. *~

    Sunday, May 2, 2010

    No Bananas About it All-Local Smoothie

    A few weeks ago, with the hot weather already hitting, I was thinking of ways to create an all-local version of one of my favorite summer treats: the smoothie. My biggest dilemma?  Bananas.  To me, bananas are usually the essential smoothie fruit, giving my smoothies their sweetness and adding their banana creaminess.  I have a source of local milk and local honey...  We even make our own yogurt every week.  I had also recently procured an excess of fresh ripe strawberries from the farmers market, so I knew that would be a component.  But what local ingredients could replace the sweetness lost by ousting the banana?  Apples of course!  See below for my all-local smoothie recipe.  No bananas about it.  

    -1 c milk (or half milk, half yogurt)
    -1/2 Tbsp honey
    -1/2-3/4 c apples, chopped and frozen
    -3-4 medium strawberries

    --> Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth.  That's it!  Just as sweet and delicious as the banana alternative.

    ~*TIP: I bought strawberries in bulk at the farmer's market so that I could get a better price.  But I knew there was no way I could eat all of those strawberries before I lost some.  To make the most of my berry bargain, after washing the berries (see tip from April 8), I separated out the ripest berries, and froze them.  Whole.  With the stems.  The stems are edible, and if you're just going to blend them up anyways, no need to put the extra work into stemming them.  Now I have frozen local berries to pull out and use whenever I need them rather than buying them pre-frozen at the store.*~