How was your long holiday weekend?
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We took a road trip to Minneapolis in search of inspiration for a few new pieces of furniture and an upcoming kitchen remodel.
It was fun to wander around IKEA, and also to stop into some of the stores from my favorite catalogs. We came home with a million ideas and pictures of things we liked. Now comes the hard part, having to choose(!)
We also spent some in the garden
This year, instead of the CSA, I gathered up my courage and asked our neighbors if I could instead buy into their garden. A deal too good to turn down. I'd take care of weeding, in exchange for veggies.
Oh my, I had no idea just how much fun it would turn out to be.
Nor that they'd put us officially in charge while they're away for July in Australia and New Zealand(!)
Before they left she gave me the one-two:
“Pick lettuce and kale like so, that way the plants will produce all season long. This is how to prune all of the herbs. The fennel needs a bit more time, can you see how small they still are? Remember we have red beets here, golden beets two rows over, and the striped? Ummm .. now where did we plant those?
If it's hot and dry, you'll want to water a couple of times a week. But whatever you do, please aim the sprinkler away from the tomatoes. Those we'll water by hand at their base. Don't worry about writing all of this down, it's easy, and I promise you'll remember.
But the most important thing of all?” She winked, “Enjoy.”
While my husband and I worked, we snacked on cherry tomatoes and snap peas straight from the vine. Little Z ran and played amongst the rows. Every now and then he'd find himself lost somewhere in the sea flowers, but always managed to power through
By nightfall, our fridge was filled with all things green, colorful, and delicious
True confessions? In the back of my mind, I can't help but think. “What happens if they come back to a garden that's weed-free, but I've killed everything off?”
(Worries for another day)
Wishing for you the happiest of weeks ahead!
A new recipe to share today. One that makes a generous starter or light lunch
Not a traditional muffin fan? These are for you. At a glance, they resemble cornbread muffins but aren't. Far from it, in fact.
These corn-riddled muffins are light, airy, and utterly creamy all at the same time. They're nicely balanced with herbs, and the surprise of bits of cheese tucked inside
The accompanying beet and apple salad are perfect for summer. Not only is it pretty, but has such a nice flavor combination from the earthy sweetness of the beets and the tartness of the apples.
A salad that's easy to prep in advance, its parts keeping well in separate containers. Combine them right before serving. The apples will turn a wonderful shade of bright pink from the beets. Leftovers are just as good (if not better)
A few notes about the recipe:
Other cheeses work well as replacements to feta. Gorgonzola or blue cheese (for example), if you're hoping for something with more of a punch
Whatever you do, don't throw out the greens from your beets. They're full of all things good for you and are great chopped raw in a salad or cooked as a side (similar to swiss chard or spinach)
~ Adapted from Nopi: The Cookbook, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully
Corn Cakes with Beet and Apple Salad
- Corn Cakes
- 5 medium ears of corn (or 1 lb frozen corn kernels, defrosted)
- 3 medium shallots, peeled and finely diced
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 tsp fennel seeds, lightly toasted and coarsely crushed
- 1 tsp ground cumin, lightly toasted
- 1 tsp celery seeds
- ½ oz tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ⅓ cup unsalted butter, melted but not hot + more for greasing the muffin pan
- 2 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
- 2 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour (or spelt flour)
- 2 oz feta, broken into 6 chunks (or smaller chunks depending on how many muffins you're making .. you'll want one chunk per muffin)
- 1 ½ tsp coarse sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Beet + Apple Salad
- ½ cup Greek Yogurt
- 2 tsp good sherry vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp fennel seeds roasted and coarsely crushed + ½ tsp extra for a garnish
- ½ tsp celery seeds
- ½ oz parsley, roughly chopped
- 2 medium beets, peeled and julienned
- 1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and julienned (if prepared in advance, keep covered with water with some lemon juice, to prevent discoloration)
- To serve
- small basil leaves
- Preheat oven to 400° F
- Prepare the muffin tins by greasing them well with butter and lining them with squares of parchment paper. (Make sure to cut them big enough to the sides rise a couple of inches about the tray)
- Corn Cakes
- Hold each cob vertically on a chopping board and use a large, sharp knife to shave off the kernels: you should end up with about a pound of kernels.
- Discard the cobs and put the kernels, shallot, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor.
- Pulse until the corn has been roughly processed (but not a wet puree)
- Add the fennel seeds, cumin, celery seeds, tarragon, baking powder, butter and egg yolks, plus a teaspoon and a half of salt and a very good grind of black pepper.
- Plus a few more times to combine and transfer to a bowl (some of the kernels will still be whole)
- Fold the flour in by hand
- In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until they form firm peaks.
- Fold a third of the whites gently into the corn mixture (being careful not to overwork it). Once incorporated, fold in another third, and then repeat with the last of the egg whites.
- Divide the mix between the molds and insert a chunk of feta into each, pushing it halfway down into the corn mix (the cakes will puff up around the cheese when they cook)
- Bake for 25-40 minutes (depending on the size of your muffin tins) until the cakes have risen and are fluffy and golden brown
- The cakes will still be a bit wet at this point, so remove from the oven and set them aside for 10 - 15 minutes before lifting them out of the tray
- Beet + Apple Salad
- Mix all the salad ingredients (except the beetroot and apple) in a bowl
- Gently mix the beetroot and apple into the salad just before serving.
- Serve the warm cakes with the salad alongside, sprinkled with the extra fennel seeds and the basil leaves.