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September 30, 2006

Farmers' Market Haul - 9/30/2006

I've been going faithfully to the Willow Glen farmers' market every Saturday morning, but not so faithful about blogging it. Bad food blogger. The market standouts have definitely been the Green Zebra tomatoes, the salad greens from Happy Boy Farms, and many lovely varieties of cauliflower.

Alas, Happy Boy Farms was not at today's market. I suspect that with winter fast approaching, there may not be as many salad greens to bring to market as there once were.

Last weekend, I scored some orange cauliflower. I made this recipe, which was pretty good, though when I make it again, I'm going to use lemon juice instead of red wine vinegar. I think it would go better with the flavor of the cauliflower.

Alas, Mr. Spaceling has not been impressed by cauliflower. It's okay - it leaves more for me.

Today, the farmer from whom I bought the orange cauliflower had purple cauliflower. Purple! This has got to be one of the most beautiful vegetables ever - it is a deep, velvety, purple. It is gorgeous. So, of course, I had to take some home.

"You should see the purple cauliflower I got from the farmers' market!" I said to Mr. Spaceling. "It's the prettiest vegetable ever."

"I don't have to eat it, do I?" said Mr. Spaceling.

I assured him that he didn't. That cauliflower is all mine!

Along with my purple cauliflower, I also got...

A smaller haul today than many - we currently have quite a bit of fruit in the house, so I passed up the late peaches and the early apples that were on offer. I think I may have finally eaten my fill of Green Zebra tomatoes for a while, bizarre as that may seem. (My favorite thing to do with Green Zebra tomatoes - spread a nice pumpernickel bread with lowfat yogurt cheese, layering the Green Zebra tomato slices on top, and sprinkling with a bit of salt and lots of freshly ground pepper. Yum.)

Yogurt cheese, by the way, is plain yogurt that has been drained until it's thick and spreadable. It probably merits a post of its own. I've been using it as a tangier (and lower fat) alternative to cream cheese.

Posted by spaceling at 07:43 PM | TrackBack

September 24, 2006

Arugula and Pear Salad with Roast Chicken

I threw this salad together as a quickie dinner. I used a store-bought rotisserie chicken to keep it quick and easy, though any type of cooked chicken would be fine as long as the spicing doesn't clash with the salad.


For the salad:

For the dressing:

The dressing is not exactly rocket science. (Oh, ha, ha - rocket science!)* You could substitute your favorite vinaigrette recipe or even bottled dressing. Just try to go for something that tastes vaguely French.

The Steps

  1. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the walnuts, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the walnuts start to smell toasty. (About 5 minutes or so. This does make a noticeable difference in the flavor of the walnuts, so it's worth doing.) Let the walnuts cool a bit.
  2. While the walnuts are cooling, make the dressing - whisk the olive oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, and tarragon together in a small bowl until combine.
  3. Toss the arugula, pear slices, walnuts, tomatoes, and blue cheese in a large bowl with a few spoonfuls of the dressing. Taste a leaf, and add salt, pepper, or extra dressing as needed.
  4. Dish out the salad into plates or bowls, and arrange slices of roasted chicken on top.

I loved the combination of flavors in this salad, and particularly loved the combination of pears and blue cheese. Mr. Spaceling picked out all the pears and walnuts and ate them separately, as a kind of dessert course.

* In the UK, arugula is commonly referred to as "rocket" (from the French "roquette"). When I was in Scotland, I ate it as often as possible, just for the sheer pleasure of being able to order a "rocket salad". (Well, also because it was good.) "Arugula" derives from the Italian name for the plant.

Posted by spaceling at 12:22 PM | TrackBack

A Perfect Day for Sablefish

The other day, I was at the supermarket, and stopped by the fish counter to see if there was anything new and interesting. There was: a large sign proclaimed "Catch of the Day! Locally caught black cod!". Said black cod was actually labelled "butterfish" inside the fish case. And the fish is really most properly called "sablefish", since there are other fish called butterfish, and it isn't a cod. Whatever you call it, I bought some and brought it home.

I'd never cooked sablefish before, but I have eaten it, most memorably in Nobu's famous miso-marinated "black cod". While that is a really delicious preparation, it calls for marinating the fish for three days before cooking, which was more elaborate than I was going for. So, I pulled out Mark Bittman's Fish cookbook, and consulted it for advice.

I considered poaching the fish, but decided to go really simple and just broil it. Upon inspection, the filets proved to have pin bones, which I was unable to remove with a pair of tweezers. I gave up, and decided we could just pick them out.

I seasoned the fish with salt and pepper, broiled it six inches from the heat for about 7 minutes without turning it over, and squeezed a bit of lemon on it before serving it with sauteed swiss chard and whole wheat couscous with roasted red peppers.

Bittman says that if sablefish were more readily available, we'd eat it all the time. I have to agree. The fish was moist, delicate, and decidedly buttery in flavor. (I'd used no oil or butter in the preparation.) This despite the fact that I think I actually may have overcooked it slightly. The pin bones proved to be easy to pick out of the cooked fish, so they weren't a problem either.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program gives California-caught sablefish only their "Good" rating, rather than their "Best" rating, because the California fishery is not as well-managed as the Alaskan fishery. Alaskan sablefish gets a "Best" rating. So, while I can feel ecologically pretty good about my purchase, my slight smugness at being able to buy locally caught was somewhat misplaced in this case.

So, if you see black cod/butterfish/sablefish at your local fish counter, check it out!

Posted by spaceling at 11:50 AM | TrackBack

September 03, 2006

Zucchini Ribbon Salad

The idea for this came from a recipe for a zucchini "carpaccio" I saw once in a food blog. I no longer remember which blog it was, and I don't seem to have bookmarked the recipe, but the basic idea stuck in my mind: slice zucchini very thinly, salt it and drain it a bit, and then toss with herbs and top with fresh cheese. (The original recipe used fresh ricotta; I used goat cheese.) I added some chick peas to make this more of a main dish.



  1. Put the zucchini ribbons in a colander, and sprinkle with salt. Let them drain for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Rinse the zucchini ribbons and let them drain for another 5 minutes. Spread them out on a paper towel and pat them dry. (They don't need to be bone dry, but they shouldn't be sopping wet.)
  3. Toss the zucchini in a medium bowl with the chickpeas, olives, herbs, lemon juice, and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. As you serve the salad, dot each portion with bits of goat cheese.

Makes about 2-3 servings.

Posted by spaceling at 08:05 PM | TrackBack

Roasted Cipollini Onions

Tonight as part of dinner, I roasted the cipollini onions that I got at the farmers' market yesterday. I adapted a recipe from Andrea Chesman's The Roasted Vegetable. Cipollini onions are a small, flat onion that is fairly sweet.



  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Put the onions in a bowl of warm tap water for a couple of minutes. This makes them easier to peel. Then peel them.
  3. Toss the peeled onions with the olive oil, herbs and fennel seed. Spread them out in a lightly oiled roasting pan in a single layer.
  4. Roast for 15 minutes or so, then turn the onions over and roast for another 15 minutes.
  5. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar to taste, and serve.

I served these with a yummy zucchini and chick pea salad - recipe to follow.

Posted by spaceling at 07:52 PM | TrackBack

September 02, 2006

Farmers' Market Haul - 9/2/2006

Went to the Willow Glen farmers' market this morning. Alas, there were no more blueberries. I think it's time to face the fact that berry season is over.

Still, it wasn't a bad haul for the end of summer. I got:

The tomatoes I've been getting lately have been really fabulous. Even the sliced tomato that they put out for use on sandwiches at the cafeteria where I work has been sweet, juicy, and flavorful. Mmmm, tomatoes.

Posted by spaceling at 10:30 AM