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Greenling to the Rescue

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051509_1I was unhappy two weeks ago when I figured out that my schedule was going to prevent me from going to the farmers market. This usually leads to pouting.   My Saturday schedule revolves around my farmers market outing and it has become a cornerstone of my weekend.  It’s also become a social outlet for me as I’ve met vendors and made friends.  When I miss the farmers market, I am bummed out.

Luckily, that same week, I was fortunate enough to attend a Greenling event at The Grove where I learned about their great local box service – a delivery of produce from local farms.  Clearly, it was a sign that everything was going to be ok.

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If you haven’t ordered from Greenling before, it’s a great service.  You can either build your own
 box, selecting the specific items you want including groceries and produce, or you can order a local box where they pick the freshest from the farms for you.  I opted for the local box because I like surprises.  
For each neighborhood, there is a specified delivery and cut-off date.  I live in Hyde Park so I had to order by Sunday for Wednesday delivery.  When you place the order, you get to pick your delivery time (morning or afternoon) so that the produce doesn’t sit out in the heat too long.  I asked for afternoon delivery because I knew I wouldn’t get home until 7 pm.  
When I rounded the corner from the stairwell, there it was!  My Greenling box!  If you are the kind of person who gets excited about
 package deliveries, and I am, then you will love this.  It’s like a present from Farmer Claus.  I could not wait to open it and did so before I even 
unlocked the door.  (Yes, I am a dork.)
The box for that week included fennel, new potatoes, green beans, two types of onions, zucchini, cabbage, chives and mangoes.  Yes, you 
heard me, mangoes!  There is a local farm growing mangoes.  Now, that is exciting!

I immediately started thinking about dishes I wanted to make, and then I saw my welcome packet. They explain everything to you and give you a local grow chart so you know what kind of produce to expect. It also included a recipe for Baked Fennel with Parmesan.  I think this is brilliant.  Here’s a vegetable that maybe everyone isn’t comfortable cooking with so they give you a recipe for what to do with it.  Perfect.  
So, I’ve had this delightful experience and I think, “wow, that was really cool.”  Little did I know that I wasn’t done yet.  The next day, I received a call from Greenling just to make sure everything went ok and to give me a number if I had in questions.  I LOVE great customer service.  
Now, having said all that, I won’t order from Greenling every week (sorry Mason).  As much as I love the service, the farmers market is a big part of my world.  But, for those weeks when I just can’t make it and for all my friends who will not get out of bed on Saturday morning (and you know who you  are), I highly recommend Greenling as an easy way to get fresh local produce. And it’s a present on your door step.  How cool is that.  

When I opened my Greenling delivery, I immediately envisioned a slaw with the cabbage, carrots and fennel.  I made it tonight with some broiled salmon and it was delicious.  I used one of the mangoes with the blueberries and peaches I bought at this week’s market to make a fruit salad for dessert.  
Cabbage, Carrot & Fennel Slaw 

051509_3I am not a big fan of cole slaw that is heavy on mayonnaise, so I use half mayo and half sour cream, and don’t use much.  I also like a little bite in my slaw so I’ve been known to add jalapenos, hot sauce or hot curry powder.  Tonight, I used the curry powder because I seasoned the salmon with curry powder.  I also like the curry because it gives it a little sweetness. If you don’t like curry, you can add some
 sweetness by adding a little sugar to the dressing.
1 head cabbage, thinly sliced
4-5 small carrots, peeled and grated
1 head fennel, finely chopped
1 small sweet onion, finely chopped – I used a red onion to add some color
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1/2 cup light sour cream
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsps curry powder
Combine the vegetables well in a bowl.  
In a separate bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream lemon juice and curry powder.  Blend it well and adjust the season to taste.
Combine the vegetables and dressing.  Refrigerate for at least an hour to let the flavors set.
051509_4Honey and Mint Fruit Salad

1 mango, peeled and chopped
3 peaches, diced (I didn’t peel them, but you could)
2 small packages of blueberries, rinsed
1 tbsp honey
juice of 1 lemon
about 1 tbsp mint, chopped
Combine the fruit in a bowl.  

In a separate bowl, combine the honey and lemon juice and stir well until the honey dissolves in the juice (a whisk helps).  Add the mint.  Combine the fruit and the dressing.
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Avec Brussels Sprouts

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During my recent trip to Chicago, I had the distinct pleasure to eat at a lovely restaurant called Avec. My friend Beverly and I had a difficult time choosing between the deliciously described items on the menu.  We settled on three small plates so we could taste more goodies.

My favorite of the three was a simple salad of Brussels Sprouts, fennel, dill, Parmesan, red onion and brown butter.  We ordered it even though I don’t usually enjoy fennel and it was amazing.  The flavor was bright, rich and delicious.
I, arrogantly, decided I could make it or something close.  And, it was close, but not the same.
My friend Paige kindly offered to host the pre-race meal for my first triathlon of this season and I decided to make this dish as the salad.   Since you typically don’t want to eat anything too rich before a race, I skipped the brown butter and used olive oil instead.  It robbed the dish of some of the richness, but not the bright flavor.
We have a few more weeks of Brussels Sprouts season and I highly recommend you try your own rendition of this delightful salad.  If you are braver than I, try it with the brown butter.  It will be worth the calories!
Brussels Sprouts & Fennel Salad

1/2 lb Brussels Sprouts, cleaned and trimmed (cut off the ends)

1 bulb fennel

2-3 bulbs spring onions, how many you use depends on the size of the bulbs

2 tbsps butter

1/4 cup parmesan, shaved or grated

2 tbsps olive oil

juice of two lemons

2-3 sprigs of fresh dill, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Thinly slice the Brussels Sprouts, fennel and onions.  This processor is easier if you have a mandoline or a slicing blade for a food processor – using my Cuisinart, it took me 2 minutes.

In a skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat and then gently brown it.  You don’t want to burn it, but you do want it to turn a slight brown color.  Take the butter off of the heat.

Toss the sprouts, fennel, onions and parmesan well in a bowl.  Add the olive oil, butter and lemon juice and toss.  (I did this slowly – a little olive oil, a little lemon juice, toss and taste – until I got the flavor like I wanted it.)  Add the dill, salt and pepper to taste.
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An Easter Full of Vegetables

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We had a glorious Easter day in Chicago.  A little chilly for me, but sunny and beautiful.  We spent the better part of the day cooking three great meals that included goodies that we had picked up at the markets on Saturday (see Shopping Local Chicago Style).


After the requisite ransacking of the Easter baskets by the kids, which included the

041209_1 marshmallow peeps, cookies and lollipops we bought at the Chicago’s Downtown Farm Stand,  Beverly made green
 eggs and ham with the spinach from the Farm Stand.  

For lunch, we had ham, heated in the skillet with mashed potatoes and rutabagas, green beans and shitake salad with a dijon balsamic vinaigrette, and a gorgeous spring vegetable and goat cheese salad.  It was such a delicious meal with plenty of veggies and lovely flavors that were different but complementary.

The spring vegetable and goat cheese salad is one of my new favorites.  I made it for the Austin Food Blogger Potluck last Sunday and it was just as delightful, light and flavorful today.  I would love to take credit for the recipe, but I found it in this month’s Cooking Light.  I highly recommend that you make it as soon as possible with the freshest vegetables you can find.

For dinner, we had some deviled eggs as our starter (of course), a nice pasta primavera with swiss chard, spinach, carrots, and shitake mushrooms.  Beverly made a gorgeous romaine salad with blue cheese, walnuts, cranberries and pears. 

The best part of the day was cooking with friends who you just click with.  It was so easy, like there was a rhythm and everyone in the kitchen could feel it.  We never crowded each other or
 got in each other’s way.  It was a great day with good friends.

from Cooking Light

2  medium carrots
1/4  cup  thinly sliced spring onion
1  (8-ounce) bunch radishes with tops
1  tablespoon  thinly sliced fresh basil 
2  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice 
1  tablespoon  extra-virgin olive oil 
1/4  teaspoon  fine sea salt
1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper 
1  (4-ounce) package goat cheese, cut into 8 slices 

041209_2Shave carrots into ribbons with a vegetable peeler to measure 2 cups. Combine carrots and onion in a large bowl.Wash radishes and radish greens thoroughly; drain and pat dry. Cut radishes into thin slices to equal 1 3/4 cups; thinly slice radish greens to equal 1 cup. Add radishes, radish greens, basil, and next 4 ingredients (through pepper) to carrot mixture; toss gently to coat. Arrange goat cheese on a serving platter; top with salad. Serve immediately.
Note:  The first time I made this, my radish greens were not in very good shape so I didn’t use them.  This time, we skipped the basil.  Either way, it was delicious.  The key is to not mix the goat cheese in with the salad, but serve the salad over it.  If you mix the goat cheese in, it will get soupy.

Green Eggs & Ham
from Beverly McClellan

Manage the proportions as you need for your sized crowd.  This is very straight forward.  We had kiddos eaten so no garlic, but some garlic salt in the eggs.


Olive oil
eggs, scrambled with a little garlic salt
chopped spinach
diced ham
mozzarella

Heat the olive oil in a skillet.  Add the eggs and let them sit until they just begin to firm up.  Add the chopped spinach and let it wilt a bit.  Then add the ham and the mozzarella.  Fold the ingredients into the eggs gently and allow to cook through.

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Tomato Salad Three Ways

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I love tomatoes and cucumbers, and I’m so excited when they start showing up at the farmers market. For the last several weeks, I have made a cucumber/tomato salad as soon as I’ve gotten home. I like to get a mix of tomatoes – some red, some green, some yellow – so that you get a good mix of acidity and sweetness when you mix the tomatoes together.

This week, I realized I needed to add some protein because I was going to swim 2 miles later that afternoon, so I mixed up the recipe and made a nicoise-like salad.

Today, I used took the base of the salad (no tuna this time) and added bread cubes from my leftover rosemary ciabatta loaf and cannellini beanas . Instant panzanella (that’s bread salad for you and me).

I’ve decided that cucumber/tomato salad is the perfect summer food and I’m going to continue this trend. I’ll let you know if I add anything interesting/post-worthy.

Delicious food doesn’t have to be hard.

Tomato and Cucumber Salad
Chop some tomatoes (no, I do not have a quantity, make as much as you want)
Skin and chop some cucumbers
Slice some onion – I like purple or yellow sweet
Olive oil
Red wine vinegar
Salt
Pepper
Basil – fresh chopped

Mix the tomatoes, cucumbers and onion together.

Mix some olive oil (about 1/4 cup), 3-4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl with a whisk or fork so you get a nice vinaigrette. Adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Pour the dressing over the tomato mixture and sprinkle with the basil. Let sit for 30 minutes or so.

Tuna variation: Add one can drained tuna and black pitted olives.

Panzanella variation: Add cannellini beans to the tomato mixture and let sit. Cube some crusty bread (baguette, ciabatta, etc.) and combine with tomato mixture just before serving.

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