Sunday, April 24, 2011

super greens pesto

happy easter to everyone. usually i find myself traveling here or there, visiting family and friends over the holidays, but this weekend i was able to stay around our home with the family and cook a lot of great eats! i have so many recipes and ideas to share!!

influenced by my most recent trip to st. louis and the massive st. louis farmer's market, i decided i needed to make some sort of pesto to toss with some fresh spring peas and pasta. i scanned over the contents of our fridge...half a bundle of fresh kale, baby spinach, scallions, and some fresh basil...perfect! i immediately went to work filling up my food processor. with the addition of some fresh garlic, parmesan, a little lemon zest, a small handful of macadamia nuts, and some beautiful organic sunflower oil from pulaski wisconsin-it was a done deal.

a side note on the ingredients- the sunflower oil adds this great nutty flavor, and with the seeds carefully harvested, stored, and processed in a small facility in rural wisconsin, it's hard not to want to use this product. it will soon be available at the co-op. the macadamia nuts were sent to us from a friend in hawaii, so the freshness and richness is unbeatable, and all of the greens were fresh from the co-op which means they're organic and brimming with flavor!

i tossed the 'super greens' pesto with fresh spring peas and pasta, but please go out on a limb and try different variations. this pesto would be great tossed with fresh steamed asparagus or green beans, roasted baby potatoes, or even as a dressing for a simple salad of cherry tomatoes and greens. i also think the pesto would make a great topping on toasted or grilled bread with a slather of fresh goat cheese. i'm already thinking about making some kind of chicken salad with the leftovers, which would pair great with that bottle of pinot gris in the fridge! the possibilities are endless!

super greens pesto:

1/2 bunch kale
2 cups spinach
1/2 bunch scallions
2 cups fresh basil
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup macadamia nuts
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup sunflower oil
lemon zest, salt, & pepper to taste

place all ingredients except the oil in a food processor. process the ingredients until things start to blend together well, about 1 minute. scrape down the sides of the processor, and with the processor running, slowly drizzle in the sunflower oil. taste your pesto, and adjust the seasonings to your taste. if you're running low on kale and spinach, substitute swiss chard, mustard greens, or rapini. enjoy!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

St. Louis

I just arrived back from a wonderful weekend trip to St. Louis. It was a last minute trip, that my fella' and I found when searching for really cheap plane tickets to, well, anywhere. Milwaukee and St. Louis were the runners up, and as much as I'd like to see a Brewer's game, St. Louis seemed a bit more....exotic?

Our first stop was at the Soulard Farmer's Market. It's located in a historic French neighborhood in St. Louis, and is one of the oldest communities in the city. This picturesque neighborhood is filled with restaurants, pubs, shops, and the farmer's market. As soon as we jumped the curb we were greeted with a jazz musician playing his saxophone, a man frying up fresh pork rinds, and a guy hawking tulips. My kinda place! I immediately immersed myself in everything. We tasted St. Louis' best mini donuts, Irish coffee and Landjaegers. There were fresh goat cheeses from a local dairy, vibrant green asparagus, and the most beautiful specimens of portobello mushrooms! With our arms loaded with fresh produce, we decided to head south.

An hour drive south took us to Appleton, MO, where my fella's family resides. We gave their grill a workout, grilling up marinated pork loin and the fresh asparagus we bought earlier. We took those portobello mushrooms from the farmer's market, grilled them, and stuffed them with the wonderful goat cheese (also from the framer's market), and created some tasty bites. The blooming dogwood trees, the good eats, and of coarse the good company made the rest of the day very enjoyable!

The next day was one of leisure. Imagine the lazy Mississippi river, sunshine, and a 630 foot man-made monument known as the Gateway Arch. If that is not an equation for fun, I don't know what is. What made the famous Arch so remarkable is the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, which is the 91 acres of park along the Mississippi, in which the Arch resides. As we meandered through the greenest grass my eyes have seen in months, we took in the city.

I'll write another entry as I sort through my notes and thoughts, and post some fabulous pictures to put to the words. I am still slightly meandering along the Mississippi in my mind, though I know the brisk temperatures outside will shock me back into line in no time....

Monday, April 11, 2011

got sap?

it's SPRING! an official declaration is in order! the snow is decreasing, the sun is increasing, and i can't even think about down parkas for one second more! thoughts of sock-less shoes, picnics in the sun, and maple syrup cross my mind. maple sapping is in full swing! folks are collecting and boiling down sap over fires, in large cauldruns, all over cook county and beyond. last week our generous neighbors across the bay gave us a jar of their maple syrup, still warm! we were given a taste of some maple candy, made from the same batch of syrup, and it was awesome!

with a jar of maple syrup, which i now think of on a majestic level, i am immediately thinking about what good eats this sap is going to be a part of. as i am flipping through recipes, ideas, and notes that i have been writing myself on various scraps of papers and napkins,i remember this cocktail recipe. it involved muddling maple syrup with cooked bacon, and finishing with whiskey. this sounds great, however, i'm thinking about something a bit more along the lines of schmarren. schmarren, or scrambled pancake, is an austrian treat that my grandmother used to whip up for my brothers and i. it is literally a scrambled pancake, and when it's adorned with a dollop of butter and a drizzle of fresh maple syrup, i have flashbacks of all the comforts and quirks that came with my grams. she was one righteous babe, so as a tip of the hat to grams and our awesome neighbors, let's make a round of schmarren.....

6 eggs, seperated
2 cups milk
pinch of sea salt
1 Tbl sugar*
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour*
1 Tbl butter

preheat the oven to 400 degrees. place a cast iron skillet in the oven to preheat as well.
beat together the egg yolks, milk, salt, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. gradually stir the flour into the egg mixture. gently fold in the egg whites.
pour the batter into the preheated cast iron skillet, place into the oven, and allow to bake about 15 minutes.
remove the pan from the oven, and tear the pancake into bits, and allow the bits to scramble in the hot skillet. add the butter, and toss the scrambled pancake until it's coated in melted butter. drizzle with maple syrup, and belly up!

*don't be afraid to use sugar substitutes! replace the sugar with maple syrup or honey.
*i use a blend of the whole wheat pastry flour and all purpose flour that we carry @ the co-op. i'm sure buckwheat flour would be great too!