Category Archives: Cheap Eats

True Confessions: Kale Salad with Caesar Dressing and New Potatoes

The conversation went something like this. In fact, it went exactly like this.

“BTW, apropos of nothing, deep down I find it hard to believe anyone actually likes kale. Kale sucks. At best it is edible. At worst it taste like kale. F*ck kale.”

So went the text message tirade from a friend of mine, furious at having received yet another bundle of kale in his CSA box. Up until last week I would have felt exactly the same way. Actually, I did feel the same way. Every time my CSA box would arrive there the kale would sit…staring at me in its infinite leafiness, daring me to try to think of something to do with it before, upon being neglected, it would wilt pitifully away until in a fit of rage and guilt I would toss it in the compost and vow…next time…next time…I’m going to use up everything in my CSA box…everything!

Look who came to visit this weekend! Deacon Dog, formerly known as Scuba Steve…an 11th hour rescue by Georgia Peaches who saved him from being put to sleep.

Not anymore though…for thanks to reading two of my favorite blogs, Katherine Martinelli and Natalie’s Daily Crave I came up with the ultimate hybrid…a delicious potato salad tossed with a Caesar inspired dressing, and bulked out with beautiful, dark leafy kale. Even the most avid of kale haters will like this salad, finding themselves deeply conflicted as they cherry pick out the kale, not to avoid it, but to get more than their fair share.

Admittedly, the kale is somewhat buoyed by serving as a Caesar dressing delivery system, but does provide an undeniably lovely contrast to the new potatoes, and thanks to its robust stature holds up beautifully until the next day, making it a perfect make-ahead salad for a dog days of summer picnic, or BBQ side.

What’s your least favorite vegetable you get in your CSA box?

Kale Salad with Caesar Dressing and New Potatoes
Inspired by Katherine Martinelli and Natalie’s Daily Crave

Kale Salad with Caesar Dressing and New Potatoes

I guarantee, even the most vehement kale haters will enjoy this.

8 cups new potatoes, washed, bad spots removed, and halved
2 egg yolks
1-2 anchovies
Juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, minced fine
1 tbs Dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup Parmesan grated + more for topping
Salt and Pepper
1 large bunch dinosaur kale, washed, and coarsely chopped

  1. In a large pot, cover the potatoes completely with water and add lid. Bring the potatoes to a boil, then reduce heat to a medium-low and cook until fork tender, about 5-7 minutes, pending on size. Do not overcook. As soon as they are done strain and rinse with cool water to prevent cooking.
  2. Meanwhile, in a blender combine the egg yolks, anchovies, lemon, garlic, and Dijon. Pulse until well-combined. Adding in a slow stream with blender running combine the oils until dressing is emulsified. Add in the Parmesan and pulse just until combined.
  3. Toss potatoes with the dressing, add in the kale, and season with salt and pepper. Delicious warm, chilled, or even the next day.
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36 Comments

Filed under 15-Minute-Meals, Cheap Eats, Entertaining, Make ahead, Salads, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Let’s Go Steady: Grilled Summer Vegetable Strata

You might have noticed some minor changes around here lately. Nothing too big of course, but hopefully some small upgrades that will make Shut Up & Cook tick up one more notch on your “Favorite Food Blogs” list. (Incidentally, thank you to all who participated in the giveaway for free tickets to the Best of Seattle Party. All of your blog suggestions and recipe wish lists were such fun to receive).

The biggest change is the addition of a Recipe Index. That’s right folks, a one-stop-shop, all-you-can-eat, everything goes list of each and every recipe I’ve done over the last few years.

Looking through it I feel a mixture of many emotions: Pride (Hot damn, I’ve done some cooking!), embarrassment (Where do I get some of my blog post title ideas?), sadness (Still miss dogs Lucky and Onca every day), and peace (The past years haven’t all been easy, but I truly believe I’m better for them).

If you make nothing else from this blog…make these cookies. I guarantee they will be the best you’ve ever had.

For those of you that are new readers, I invite you to take a scroll through the list. Hopefully you’ll find new recipes to fall in love with, or discover old favorites. I felt like I was meeting a dear friend looking through the list, remembering moments and events, and who I was in each. With that, a few of what I think are the best (thank GOODNESS my photos have gotten better…eeesh!):

What I was surprised to find wasn’t on there however, was Strata. This was most odd because I make it at least once a month, and it’s a go-to for a delicious make-ahead brunch food that always feeds and satisfies a crowd. For those of you not familiar with the magic that is a strata, it is essentially a savory bread pudding meets egg custard. Stale bread is diced over which an egg/milk/cream mixture is poured. Any other assortment of ingredients are then added, it sits over night, and you bake it in the morning, resulting in a delicious smelling, beautiful looking, amazing tasting, puffed delight.

Grilled Summer Vegetable Strata
Serves 8 – 10

A perfect way to begin a Sunday morning.

The beauty of a strata is that you can throw whatever in…here I did grilled summer vegetables as a means to tackle my CSA, but you can do an endless combination of ingredients; think artichoke hearts and goat cheese, mushrooms and chorizo, peppers and sausage…the list could go on, and on, and is limited only by your creativity, and your leftovers.

  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk, cream, half and half, whatever
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 4 cups stale bread, cubed
  • 1 zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 summer squash, thinly sliced
  • Glug olive oil
  • 1 bunch kale, washed, and coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups semihard cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup semisoft cheese, shredded
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Fold in the bread and semihard cheese and set aside.
  2. Preheat a gas grill on high. Take the zucchini and squash slices and toss with olive oil. Over medium heat, using a grill pan if you have one, cook until softened and grill marks beginning to show and flavor slightly smoky. Remove from grill and coarsely chop.
  3. Grease a 9×13 inch glass baking dish.
  4. Pour in half the egg mixture. Top with half the zucchini and squash, half the kale, and half the semisoft cheese. Repeat with remaining egg mixture, vegetables, and cheese.
  5. Cover with foil and allow to soak in fridge overnight.
  6. Remove from fridge one hour before cooking and preheat oven to 325.
  7. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes without foil, rotating halfway through, and returning foil if top getting too brown. Bake until the top of the dish is very brown and the middle is springy. Let the strata cool for 10 minutes before serving.

13 Comments

Filed under Breakfasts, Cheap Eats, Comfort Foods, Entertaining, Make ahead, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Woo Woo Wonderful: Creamy Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

Oddly Delicious: Creamy Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

As you’ve probably guessed by now, I’m not much of a “Woo-Woo” person. I don’t listen to Phish, I haven’t owned tye-die since 1991, I don’t believe in Dream Catchers or Fortune Tellers, and I generally find activities where you’re supposed to close your eyes and hold hands with your neighbor somewhat amusing, and very uncomfortable.

This translates itself in perfect form into the kitchen as I suspiciously flip through recipes exclaiming “Delicious Sprout Smoothies” or “Dairy Free Grilled Cheese”. If I can’t see something, and taste it, and touch it, and most importantly, make sense of it, I tend to be a bit of a skeptic. Okay…a really big, annoying skeptic.

So when my CSA box arrived boasting a Cauliflower Mac & Cheese I was immediately wary, quick to dub it as some vegetarian, hippy dish that would never be as good as the real thing. However, as I peered into my refrigerator and realized that I still had anxiety-producing amounts of vegetables left and no plan with how to tackle them I decided to hand myself over to the softer side, and give this a try.

It admittedly is not the same dish as a traditional Mac & Cheese made with a béchamel, lots of cheese, and heavy cream, but it is a lovely lighter version of the old standard, with a nice contrast between the creamy cauliflower puree, dark, leafy kale, and crispy panko bread crumbs. It also is delicious, I think maybe even better, microwaved the next day…go figure!

Enjoy this when you’re willing to put your cynic subconscious on the shelf for an evening, and see what emerges.

The treats, in order of when comments were made.

The judges preparing for their case.

GIVEAWAY WINNER: Thanks to all who entered to win tickets to the Best of Seattle Party! The honorable judges, Duke and Lou chose the winner out of a row of 11 treats. The first snarfed up was #8, Morgen Schuler of Morgen Schuler Photography. Congrats to Morgan…and lucky for us, now we know this year’s event will be shot in style!

Little Lou, a fair and unbiased judge.

Creamy Cauliflower Mac & Cheese
Adapted from Hand Farmed Organics – Week 5 CSA Box

2 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock

2 bay leaves

1 cauliflower, cored and cut into large pieces

16 ounces penne pasta

1/2 cup sharp cheddar, grated

1/4 cup plain, non-fat Greek yogurt (I like Chobani for cooking b/c it’s less sweet than most)

The secret ingredient…a spoonful of low-fat plain yogurt.

2 cups chopped kale

1/2 cup sliced squash

Erina vs. The Veggies…my ongoing summer battle.

2 TB olive oil

1 TB Dijon mustard

1/8 tsp nutmeg

Salt and Pepper

1/4 cup grated parmesan

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees and grease a large glass baking dish
  2. Boil a pot of salted water.
  3. In a saucepan, warm stock and bay leaves on medium-low heat for five minutes; turn off heat
  4. Cook cauliflower in boiling water for 25 minutes or until very tender. Drain out all water, and add to cauliflower the stock (discard bay leaves), cheese, yogurt, oil, mustard, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Using an immersion blender, puree until totally smooth.
  5. Meanwhile, boil a second pot of water and cook the pasta, 3 minutes less than instructions. Drain and rinse with cool water.
  6. Add the pasta to the cauliflower puree and mix well.
  7. Pour half the pasta into the prepared dish. Top with half the kale and squash. Pour the remaining in and add the kale and squash. Top with parmesan and panko bread crumbs.
  8. Bake 20 minutes or until breadcrumbs are turning golden brown.
  9. Allow to sit 5-10 minutes before serving.

13 Comments

Filed under Cheap Eats, Comfort Foods, Health Conscious, Make ahead, Pasta, Vegetarian

New Potatoes in a Mustard Vinaigrette and Free Tickets to Best Of Seattle Party

Well, it’s back to reality for me. Back to high heels and pencil skirts, meetings, and a never-ending inbox. But it’s also back to very fun things like whipping up meals in my own kitchen, summer in Seattle, afternoons spent on the lake, and my puppies, of course.

Ms. Lou…and yes….we’re keeping her.

Having arrived back in Seattle on Sunday, and preparing for the reality that awaited (flip-flops and bathing suits no longer being acceptable attire, a seemingly absurd requirement by The Man that I brush my hair before leaving the house, and a general disapproval for drinking Gin & Tonics with my lunch), I of course took the obvious path which was to procrastinate about everything I should be doing. Instead, I enjoyed fixing some delicious make-ahead meals to get us set for the week, and in front of our CSA veggie supply.

These tossed new potatoes with a mustard dressing and fresh snap peas were delicious served warm with a few deviled eggs on the side, and provided a lovely Monday lunch as well, tragically enjoyed at my desk, with nary a G&T in sight. There is a fair amount of lemon and mustard in the dressing, but don’t let that scare you. It results in a light, tangy taste, perfect for the summer heat.

Make this when reality is looming, but you aren’t quite yet willing to give up the ghost of summer days of wonder and indulgence.

GIVEAWAY: I’m excited to share that for those local readers, or those willing to get on a plane, train, or automobile Shut Up & Cook has gotten our hot little hands on two tickets to Seattle Weekly’s Best Of Seattle Party on Wednesday, August 1st at Pier 66, Elliot Hall.  This blow-out party showcases Seattle’s best food, drinks and entertainment on the waterfront with unlimited bites, craft cocktails, live music, and installation art.

HOW TO ENTER: Comment below by Friday, July 13th at Midnight PST with either A) the name and link of another favorite food blog or B) a recipe you’d like to see done on Shut Up & Cook. The winner will be randomly chosen on Saturday, and will be the lucky recipient of two tickets!

Summer New Potatoes in a Mustard Vinaigrette
Serves 4 – 6

Summer New Potatoes in a Mustard Vinaigrette

1 lb new potatoes, washed, and trimmed of any bad spots

1/2 cup Dijon mustard

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon capers, minced, plus 1 teaspoon of brine from the jar

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 cup canola oil

1 cup snap peas, quickly blanched

1/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped

Salt and Pepper

  1.  In a large pot, cover the potatoes with water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook just 15 minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water to stop cooking. Pour into bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, to make the dressing, add remaining ingredients, except for the snap peas and dill, into a jar and shake until well blended.
  3. Pour about a third to half the dressing over the potatoes and toss to coat. You may add more or less pending on your preference. Note: Remaining dressing is delicious as a marinade or salad dressing.
  4. Toss with snap peas and fresh dill and serve warm or chilled.

36 Comments

Filed under 15-Minute-Meals, Cheap Eats, Health Conscious, Lactose Free, Make ahead, Salads, Seasonal Cooking, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Simple Pleasures: Rainbow Chard Egg Scramble in a Garlic Scape Nest

Cranes Beach, one of my favorite places on earth.

Have I mentioned I’m in paradise?

Of course, there’s no such thing. But when we allow ourselves to believe this simple fairy tale, bookended with no schedules, no responsibilities, no To-Do list, and no meetings, we can almost disappear for a minute into days of endless possibility, indulgent foods of my youth, afternoons dozing on the beach, and wearing PJs until noon.

The pile of flip-flops abandoned, only to be retrieved by the end of the day, sometimes yours is still there, if not, you just take another.

We also find ourselves suddenly able to recognize and enjoy those simple pleasures, the things that in our haste to be on time, and maximize output, and multitask to the hilt, we miss. To me, there is perhaps no greater pleasure than uncomplicated meals, served outside, with friends new and old.

The view from dinner, served simply on a door and saw horses, with dogs running under foot, hoping for a nibble of some sort of deliciousness.

Each season has its ingredient “Darlings”; the things that restaurants and farms alike fall in love with and celebrate across their menus.  This year it seems to be Garlic Scapes. They are everywhere, and such fun to cook with given their beautiful shapes, savory flavor, and VIP status.

This season’s Culinary Darling: Garlic Scapes (incidentally these are beautiful in flower arrangements too).

This breakfast was the ultimate in simplicity, nothing more than some sautéed garlic scapes, wilted rainbow chard, eggs, and good sharp cheddar cheese, but eaten while looking out over the cove, and barely finishing by noon, it was, at the moment, all I wanted.

Rainbow Chard Egg Scramble in a Garlic Scape Nest
Serves 2

Rainbow Chard Egg Scramble served in a Garlic Scape Nest

1 TB Olive Oil
1 Garlic Scape, thinly sliced, avoiding the light green bottom and bulb plus 2 more for garnish
10 leaves rainbow chard, washed, dried, and coarsely chopped
4 eggs, vigorously beaten
1/4 cup extra sharp cheddar, the best you can find, loosely diced

  1. In a cast iron skillet, over medium heat, add the olive oil. Add the garlic scape and cook stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes, until pungent.
  2. Add 2 TB of water to the pan and cook until water has evaporated and garlic is softened
  3. Add the rainbow chard and cook until wilted, and all liquid gone.
  4. Reduce heat to low, and add the eggs.
  5. Cook, stirring frequently, for 1-2 minutes.
  6. Add the cheese, and stir well to combine.
  7. Cook until desired doneness is achieved.
  8. Serve with toasted English Muffins, nestled in a Garlic Scape nest for garnish.

23 Comments

Filed under 15-Minute-Meals, Breakfasts, Cheap Eats, Entertaining, Health Conscious, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Coming Home: Panko Crusted Pollock

It is hard to describe the town I grew up in if you’ve never been here, or if you grew up in a city, or if you’ve never had the experience of everyone knowing your name…of everyone knowing your everything if we’re being honest.

As such, I’ll tell you a tale of a little town called Ipswich, if it pleases you. For this is where I am from.

The other day my wonderful Mama had trotted off to the town library. Why you ask? Well, because she needed to use their internet. For you see, in the home I grew up in there is no high-speed, no call waiting, no microwave. So off she goes to the library when she must “get online.” While trolling through her Earthlink inbox (yes, Earthlink…did you even know they still existed?), she saw a recent post about Vegetarian Carbonara I’d done (for she too is doing a CSA from Appleton Farms, so must battle weekly in the ever ongoing attempt to not let any of your organic groceries go to waste).  Not owning an iPhone or an iPad, she needed to print it out so she could make it at her leisure.

Walking the fields at Appleton Farms.

All the beautiful options available this week.

Now my mother is many incredible things, smart, funny, beautiful, gracious, caring, but she is not particularly tech savvy. And so, on the homepage of my blog she hit PRINT…and print it did. All 45+ pages of the past 10 recipes on my homepage. Realizing her error (at 20 cents per page to print at the library this was no small drama) she quickly tried to cancel the printing, calling over the librarians in droves. They leaned over the computer, they fluttered nervously about, and all together they accidentally hit print another 5 times, resulting in no less than 200 pages of Shut Up & Cook goodness spewing out of the library printer.

My mother, being an honorable woman, walked up to pay (Ipswich employing the honor system, bien sur), and upon telling the nice librarian what happened she replied, “Oh, you don’t have to pay for the extra copies…here, give them to me…I’ll just recycle them.” Passing them to her, all 200 pages were about to go into the recycling when something caught her eye.

Smoked Salmon Quiche? This looks dynamite!” she exclaimed in her Boston accent that you must hear to understand.

“Kitty, come over here…didn’t you say you were trying to figure out what to do with all those tomatoes? This here thing has a recipe for Baked Tomatoes!”  (Yes, people in this town are named Kitty, and Muffin, and Wilma…and no one thinks it’s strange).

Within moments a gaggle of women had gathered and were dividing up and passing out the recipes, each knowing exactly what the other needed and thumping my mother on the back for how proud she must be to have, “A daughter who can cook?? I wish my Perry would cook…she never cooks!”

Don’t even think about getting greedy with the carrots…Muffin, and Kitty, and Wilma will kick your butt.

Home for a week, and loving every minute of it, I am reminded of where I’m from and how it has so affected who I am. Friday supper was made from fresh pollock a local fisherman had caught, and beautiful vegetables picked from Appleton Farm’s own fields.

It was simple. It was perfect. It was just like home.

Panko Crusted Pollock
Serves 4

Panko Crusted Pollock, served with Caesar Salad, and Summer Snap Peas

1 lb, Pollock Fillet, de-boned and rinsed, and cut into 4 oz fillets

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup flour, plus shake or two of salt and pepper

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped

1/2 cup dill, finely chopped

  1. Preheat Oven to 385.
  2. In three separate bowls put the flour, egg, and panko.  Add the herbs to the panko bowl and mix well.
  3. First dredge the fillets in the flour mixture, then in the egg, and then in the breadcrumb mixture.
  4. Set into a glass baking dish.
  5. Bake until firm, yet flaky, about 10-15 minutes.

14 Comments

Filed under 15-Minute-Meals, Cheap Eats, Health Conscious, Lactose Free, Seafood, Uncategorized

Total Control: Vegetarian Carbonara with Summer Greens

Her single command thus far….”Sit”, which she does eagerly and quite brilliantly (or so I’m told).

My life is a little nuts right now. It’s all good, and I’m very lucky, but things are a little crazy. I have my husband, my family, and my friends with whom I want to spend time. I have my job, my food blog, and my volunteer work with puppy rescue.  I have many wonderful trips to look forward to this summer including a wedding in Vermont, a clambake in Massachusetts, and girl’s wine weekend in Walla Walla. I have my meager attempts to get some sort of exercise to balance out said food blog and wine trips, not to mention my book club, my horseback riding, and my laundry. I have lots and lots of laundry lately it seems.

Happily chewing on an elk antler…and my running shoes…and my coffee table…

So it will come as no surprise that what seemed like the most logical decision, the most sensible way to go, was to get a puppy. In all honesty, I’m blaming this one squarely on Matt. He found a darling Neapolitan Mastiff puppy in Tacoma on Wednesday, emailed me in Boulder about it on Wednesday night, and by Thursday at noon she was happily chewing on Duke’s ear and quickly climbing the ladder to Number One Cute Pup In Town if you ask any non-biased person. To be fair, I didn’t exactly kick her out of bed for eating crackers either.

She is incessant in her need to be near Duke and he graciously obliges…I think he even likes it.

So this Monday night when I realized this was my only night off this week, and my fridge was exploding with goodies from our Hand Farmed Organics CSA and another box was arriving tomorrow [insert panic and self loathing at thought of throwing away organic vegetables HERE], I figured I’d better get cooking. A little quiet time in the kitchen always calms my nerves, and the self-righteousness that comes with making a delicious meal out of what’s in your fridge is hard to beat.

We try to do Meat Free Mondays, but honestly we usually don’t. Add that to the list of things that have gone to the wayside in our busyness. But tonight I succeeded, creating a sort of Vegetarian Carbonara and triumphantly using all the chard, spinach, and radishes up. It was surprisingly delicious, light and yet satisfying, and on the table in less than 30 minutes. A perfect meal when all you really want to do is play with the new puppy, and ignore the piles laundry building up in your temporarily empty guest room.

Vegetarian Carbonara with Summer Greens

Vegetarian Carbonara with Summer Greens

Serves 6

Carbonara is typically made with pancetta or bacon, but I didn’t have any and thought a vegetarian twist on the Italian classic might work. The radishes give it some nice bulk, and when the beaten egg is slowly added as you vigorously toss the pasta you get a rich sauce you’d swear had heavy cream in it.

1 lb pasta, whatever is in the cupboard

3 TB Olive Oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced

1 bundle of radishes, about 6, washed and thinly sliced with a mandolin

1 bunch chard, washed and coarsely chopped

1 bag spinach, washed

1/2 cup chives, thinly sliced (this seems like a lot, but is delicious and gives it a nice kick)

3 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup good parmesan cheese grated, plus more to taste

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large non-stick pan over medium-low heat, cook the garlic in the olive oil until just beginning to turn golden, 2-3 minutes.
  3. Increase heat to medium, add the radishes and the leeks, and cook until turning translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
  4. Add the chard and spinach, returning heat to low, and cook until wilted and radishes and leeks fully cooked, another 5 minutes.
  5. To assemble take the warm pasta (you don’t want it too hot or the egg will scramble), and vigorously tossing with tongs slowly add the beaten egg, until it creates a rich coating.
  6. Add the chard/spinach mixture, chives, and the parmesan and continue tossing vigorously until all nicely mixed and coated.
  7. Serve with additional parmesan to taste and truffle salt.

23 Comments

Filed under Cheap Eats, Health Conscious, Pasta, Seasonal Cooking, Vegetarian