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Recipes made with Winter ingredients in Central Texas

Chorizo & Turnip Tacos

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Last week I found myself staring into a fridge full of food as I thought, “There’s nothing to make for dinner.”  Clearly, that wasn’t true.  There was plenty of food, but none that obviously screamed “make this dish.”

After taking inventory, I started pairing foods together until I fixated on a package of Dai Due green chili chorizo and a bunch of turnips.  I knew these ingredients worked well together because I’ve used them before in  a Portugese style stew, but I didn’t want to make that dish again.  I decided instead to mix it up and make tacos – a picadillo like filling with chorizo, diced turnips and sliced onions.

Chorizo & turnip tacos

When I experiment like this, I’m always a little nervous to take the first bite, but there was no need to hesitate – the tacos were DELICIOUS.  The chorizo and turnip filling was spicy and rich, and the sliced radish garnish gave it a great crunch.  Yum!

The next time you catch yourself thinking there is nothing to cook in your packed fridge, try the matching game to create a new dish.  Create pairs of ingredients that you know work well together in other dishes and figure out how to put a new spin on it.   If you like BLTs, make pasta with bacon, tomatoes and spinach instead of another sandwich.   Don’t be afraid to experiment.  If all else fails, you can always order pizza and at least you’ll have learned something new in the process.

What creative dish have you made lately?  I’d love to hear about your kitchen experiment.

Chorizo & Turnip Tacos
4 servings

1 lb of bulk chorizo – I used Dai Due green chili chorizo, but you can use any variety
4 small turnips, trimmed and diced
2 spring onions, sliced
4 radishes, sliced
8 tortillas

Place the chorizo in a skillet and cook over medium heat until just cooked through (no longer raw.)  Add the diced turnips and onions.  Cook the mixture until the turnips are tender when poked with a fork.

Let the mixture cool for a few minutes, then top tortillas with the filling and garnish with radishes.

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Borscht: A hot pink bowl of comfort

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Lately, I’ve been obsessed with soup.  First, I was sick, then the weather got cold, and a comforting, piping hot bowl of soup sounded like the cure to my woes.  But, I didn’t want just any old soup – I wanted borscht.

Hot Bison Borscht
Hot Bison Borscht

I cannot tell you why I wanted borscht.  To my knowledge, I’d never had borscht. But I got these big, beautiful beets from Farmhouse Delivery and, suddenly, all I could think of was borscht.  I’ve learned to just give in to these unexplained fixations; it really is the only way to make them go away.

After studying up, I discovered borscht can be served hot or cold, depending on the region of origin, and can have meat or be vegetarian.  I picked a hot beef borscht recipe from Bon Appetit, but substituted a few ingredients for what I had on hand – turnips for the potatoes and bison short ribs instead of the beef.  Don’t be scared off by making the stock – you can substitute store bought beef broth and add some browned stew meat to the soup.

Brown the bison for stock
Bison Short Ribs for the stock

The end result is worth the effort a hearty, rich, slightly sweet soup that is deeply satisfying. I’m so glad I made enough for 10 people so I have plenty in the freezer.

It’s chilly outside – what soup are you cuddling up with?

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Challenged by my CSA: Mustard Green Pesto

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As much as I love going to the farmers market each week, I have really appreciated being a member of Farmhouse Delivery, a local service that delivers produce to your doorstep.  The arrival of the crate every two weeks gives me a little breathing room if I can’t make it to the market and ensures that my produce drawers are always full.

But sometimes, as I unpack the crate, I can’t help but mutter under my breath, “what on earth am I going to do with this?”  I felt this way a few weeks ago as I turned over a beautiful bunch of mustard greens in my hands.  I’ll eat mustard greens, but I don’t love them.   Hmmm.  Mustard greens.

I decided to try making pesto – after all it’s a flavorful green with a little spice that would combine well with a rich cheese and nuts.

A full bunch of mustard greens made about 8 servings of pesto.   I used some of the the sauce for dinner and froze the unused portions of pesto in ziploc bags so that I have a delicious sauce whenever I need it. 

The next time you find something in your CSA box that makes you pause, don’t give up  – get creative.

Mustard Green Pesto

    Mustard Green Pesto
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons pecans
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 bunch of mustard greens, rinsed and chopped
salt
Combine 1/2 cup of olive oil, pecans and garlic in a food processor and blend until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Add the parmesan and blend.  Alternately add a handful of the mustard greens with a portion of the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil and continue to combine until smooth.  Add more olive oil as desired to create a thinner mixture.  Add salt to taste.
You can freeze any leftovers in small freezer bags or in ice cube trays.
I served the pesto with a whole wheat pasta that I bought at the Elmwood-Bidwell farmers market in Buffalo and sauteed mushrooms.  The spicy pesto brought out the nutty flavor of the whole wheat pasta and the paired well with the richness of the mushrooms.

Mustard Green Pesto with Whole Wheat Linguine & Sauteed Mushrooms
I will never shun my mustard greens again!
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Hunger Awareness Dinner #1: Grilled Chicken Sausage with Kale and Potato Spanish Tortilla

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Tonight I cooked my first meal for the Food Blogger Hunger Awareness Project with the Capital Area Food Bank.  When I put together my meal plan, I wanted to have at least one meal that would be a little special and would be worthy of entertaining.  After all, we all have special occasions in our life and, when times are tough, you can’t afford to go out to celebrate.

At H-E-B, I was surprised to find a package of their store brand chicken and feta sausages for a mere $3.14.  It seemed like a great way to add a special touch to a meal and it felt a little like a splurge for very little money.

I also wanted to do something with the bag of potatoes that was more exciting than the standard mashed or baked.  I picked a Spanish Tortilla recipe  – potatoes, eggs and onions cooked down in a skillet  – that also included kale, which I don’t really like and am always looking for a way to hide.  This recipe sounded perfect.

The tortilla was surprisingly easy to make, although I used a skillet that was too large so I couldn’t flip it like your supposed.  It didn’t matter; it was really delicious.

I made a salad with my mixed lettuces, radishes and balsamic vinegar and olive oil for the dressing.  Altogether, it made a pretty plate and I would have been proud to serve it to friends.  The meal made four decent sized servings.  Instead, I have leftovers for the next few days.

Here’s the rundown on the cost:
$3.14  H-E-B Chicken and feta sausage (5 links) $3.14
$  .83  1/3 of a 5 lb bag of potatoes
$  .83  1 onion
$1.16  7 eggs
$2.00  1 bunch kale (I’m estimating on this since it was part of my CSA delivery; kale was $2/bunch last week at the market)
$   .80  1 serving of mixed lettuce  (Again estimating based on size of bag and typical cost for mixed lettuce.)
$   .67  1/3 radishes from bunch
$9.43   Total

If I’d be cooking for others, I would have used all my salad makings so it would have been closer to $14, but when is the last time you entertained a party of four on $14?  Everyone deserves a nice meal – even on a budget.

42610_2Kale and Spanish Tortilla
from Gourmet Magazine via Epicurious.com

1 lb boiling potatoes
1 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 lb kale, center ribs discarded
7 large eggs

Peel potatoes and cut into 1/3-inch dice (2 1/4 cups). Heat oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then reduce heat to moderately low and cook potatoes, onion, and 1 teaspoon salt, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Blanch kale while potatoes cook:
Cook kale in a 4- to 6-quart pot of boiling salted water until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain in a colander and immediately transfer to a bowl of cold water to stop cooking. Drain again, squeezing handfuls of kale to extract excess moisture, then coarsely chop.

Add kale to potato mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until kale is tender, about 5 minutes. Drain vegetables in colander set over a bowl, reserving drained oil, and cool 10 minutes.

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Lightly beat eggs in a large bowl, then stir in vegetables, 1 tablespoon drained oil, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.

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Add 1 tablespoon drained oil to skillet, then add egg mixture and cook over low heat, covered, until sides are set but center is still loose, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 15 minutes.

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Shake skillet gently to make sure tortilla is not sticking (if it is sticking, loosen with a heatproof plastic spatula). Slide tortilla onto a large flat plate, then invert skillet over tortilla and flip it back into skillet. Round off edge of tortilla with plastic spatula and cook over low heat, covered, 10 minutes more. Slide tortilla onto a plate and serve warm, cut into wedges.

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