Grilled Green Beans

Grilled Green Beans

Green beans are one of the many vegetable I prefer to eat fresh rather than canned or otherwise preserved. Which isn’t to say there aren’t great ways to put up any extra beans you have coming from your garden. Just that given a choice, I’d rather eat them today than in December.

Keeping with our tendency to do as much outside cooking as possible while enjoying the cool evenings here in Sonoma County, CA, the latest batch of Spanish Musica beans to come from our CSA were grilled up alongside some very sweet corn on the cob and delicious locally-produced sausage.

Wrapped in foil, you can grill pretty much anything. Just add seasoning, a little butter or oil, and fold it up.

Grilled Green Beans with Bacon and Garlic
1/2 pound green beans
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped
2 tbsp oil

1. Rinse and trim the beans. Cook the bacon, drain and chop, reserving 2 tbsp on the grease.

2. In foil packet, mix beans with the garlic and chopped bacon. Drizzle with the oil. You can use olive oil or even butter, if you wish.

3. Seal foil packet, making sure all sides are double rolled so none of the oil drips out. Place on the grill over medium heat and cook for about 20 minutes, turning once.

4. Open packet and serve!

Blueberry Chèvre Salad

Blueberry Chèvre Salad

July is National Blueberry Month, and we’re celebrating with lots of information and recipes.

As I mentioned last week, I just can’t get enough blueberries this season. I’ve been eating them in nearly every meal. In fact, my go-to salad for lunch has been some variation of this salad.

I almost always have some kind of soft cheese in the fridge. Lately, I have been buying different kinds of chèvre to use in various salads. It’s especially delicious with sweet salad ingredients, like beets. Or blueberries. In this case, I’ve boosted the blueberry flavor by using a blueberry chèvre.
Plain chèvre also works quite well, as does honey chèvre, and surprisingly even the herbed chèvre.

Blueberry Chèvre Salad
1 cup fresh lettuce
10-12 fresh blueberries
2-3 tbsp chèvre
1 tbsp finely chopped red onion
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
4-6 walnuts
dash sea salt

When I’m making a salad for lunch on the go, I assemble the salad in two containers. One has the lettuce, berries, walnuts and cheese. In a smaller container, I mix the oil, balsamic vinegar, onions and salt. I dress it just before eating it to keep the lettuce (and cheese) from getting soggy.

Savory Blueberry Basil Sauce

Savory Blueberry Basil Sauce

July is National Blueberry Month, and we’re celebrating with lots of information and recipes.

I just can’t get enough blueberries this season. I’ve been eating them in muffins, pancakes, and scones. They’ve found their way onto my morning cereal, and even into a couple of salads for lunch. And, of course, lots of them are going over ice cream.

I’ve also been trying them in other recipes. Recently, I made a delicious savory sauce to go over grilled salmon. I came up with the idea based off my go-to salmon glaze recipe made with limes and soy sauce. I tweaked it a bit to emphasize the sweetness of the blueberries, and added some basil for a delicious surprise. It’s also quite good over chicken, and even pork.

Savory Blueberry Basil Sauce
1/2 pint (about 6 ounces) of fresh blueberries
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons brown sugar (optional)
1 tablespoon oil

1. Heat the oil in a small saucepan. I used bacon grease, as that’s what I do most of my sautéing in, but you can easily use olive oil or butter. When the oil is hot, add onions and garlic and sauté over medium for a few minutes, until they have softened.

2. Add balsamic vinegar and chopped basil. If you berries are a bit tart, you can add brown sugar or honey. I taste the berries before I start cooking, to see how sweet they are, and decide how much, if any, sugar to use. I also taste the sauce again while it’s cooking, to be sure. Heat over medium until the liquid begins to thicken and bubble.

3. Add the blueberries and stir to mix well. Continue to heat mixture over medium. The berries will pop and release their juice. When it begins to thicken again, it’s ready to go over your salmon.

Grilled Zucchini with garlic-infused olive oil

Grilled Zucchini with garlic-infused olive oil

Zucchini is probably the most common, and most often maligned, of the summer squashes. In some parts of the country it’s said that in late summer, neighbor turns on neighbor when the zucchini ripens. Garrison Keillor once joked that in August, the normally trusting citizens of Lake Wobegone would lock their car doors when they went to church on Sunday, to prevent some dastardly gardener from loading up their car with bags of zucchini. And we all laugh, because we know there’s some truth to that. After all, there’s a reason there’s a National Sneak Some Zucchini on your Neighbor’s Porch day, right? (In case you’re wondering, it’s August 8.)

But zucchini isn’t really as bad as all that. Sure, they’ll grow to an almost ridiculous size if you leave them on the vine long enough. But harvested when they’re still quite small, they’re very easy to deal with. And they cook up very quickly at this size. Since we usually grill our way through the summer so we can enjoy as much outside time as possible, my favorite method for cooking these small zucchinis is to coat them with a little garlic-infused olive oil and grill them.

Grilled Zucchini with Garlic-Infused Olive Oil
2-4 small to medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced

1. Mix the olive oil and garlic in a small sauce pan and heat over medium for about 20 minutes.

2. Place zucchini slices in a shallow dish and brush each slice with the  oil mixture. Allow the coated slices to sit for about 20 minutes, while the grill heats.

3. Once the grill is hot, place the slices on the hot grill and brush with the remaining oil mixture, making sure they’re covered evenly. Cook for about 15 minutes on medium heat, or until they are the desired texture. We like ours a bit toothy, so we take them up just as soon as they have good grill marks.

Simple Carrot Slaw

Simple Carrot Slaw

Do your go-to recipes change for summer cooking?

In the summertime, meals become a bit less structured around here. There’s too many outdoor activities to enjoy that the idea of spending an hour in the kitchen cooking dinner just doesn’t make sense. With our busy schedules, we typically throw something on the grill and toss together some kind of side dish and a salad.

One of my favorite side is carrot slaw. It works well with all kinds of carrots, goes together quickly and stores well for leftovers (if there are any!). This is a recipe I’ve made countless times, and it never fails to please.

Simple Carrot Slaw
1 pound fresh carrots, shredded
1/4 cup mayo*
1 tsp horseradish*
1 tbsp honey

*You can alter how much mayo and horseradish you use, to suit your tastes.

Mix. Serve. Enjoy. It’s as easy as that.

What are some of your favorite summer recipes for carrots?

Basil

Basil

Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is one of the most common culinary herbs in the kitchen and the garden. It’s incredibly easy to grow, so it’s great for families that don’t have much time to tend to their plants. It also makes a great windowsill crop for those with little outdoor space.

Once you grow it, it’s not hard to find recipes for your basil. Pesto is a popular choice for Genovese Basil, and Thai basil is wonderful when added to Thai curries. Below you will find two simple recipes for basil that you’re sure not to find in Mom’s cookbooks.

Basil Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
½ cup water
3 large basil leaves

Bring everything to a boil, stirring regularly to ensure sugar is dissolved. Pour into a container and refrigerate until cold, keeping the basil leaves in the syrup. Your simple syrup will thicken more as it chills.

Use to make refreshing drinks, such as Basil Lemonade, or Cucumber Basil Gimlets. A great topping for Strawberry Shortcake, Peach Cobbler, Vanilla Ice Cream or Berry Sorbets!

 

Nam Manglak
(Thai Basil Seed Drink)

Recommended from Frank Tozer
2 Tbsp basil seed (from your basil plants, not from a seed packet)
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp honey
2 1/4 cups water
1 cup rosewater

Using a tea strainer, rinse the seeds. Soak the basil seeds in 1 cup of water. Use the other 1 ¼ cups of water and heat with sugar and honey until dissolved thoroughly. Taste it and adjust the sweetness to your preference—it will get more diluted once the drink is finished. Allow sugar water to cool to room temperature. Add swelled basil seeds with sugar water at room temperature. Chill and serve over crushed ice.

Faluda is another beverage made with basil seeds that is very popular in Southeast Asia. Its ingredients are very similar, although it has many variations.

Chervil

Chervil

Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) is related to parsley, and has a flavor similar to Tarragon. Chervil’s lacy leaves are finely cut and light green, as delicate and dainty as their flavor is subtle. The classic herb is essential in French fines herbs mixtures and is often used as a Tarragon substitute. Chervil has a refined taste reminiscent of Anise and Parsley, delicious in salads or to highlight sauces, sautés and soups. Because it can be difficult to find in the grocery market, Chervil is an important herb for kitchen gardeners to grow – its special flavor rewards your efforts many times over.

Chervil is best grown from seeds sown directly into the soil. It develops a long taproot, and does not transplant well. It prefers a cool, moist location, otherwise it tends to bolt. Even so, it is a good plant for succession sowing, so even if it bolts, the new plants can still be harvested.

Herbed Carrots

1 pound fresh carrots, peeled and cut
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chervil, divided
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F. In a mixing bowl, toss the carrots with the olive oil and 1 tablespoon chervil, and salt and pepper. Place the carrots on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes.

Remove the carrots from the oven. While the are still hot, toss with the remaining tablespoon of chervil, the butter, and more salt and pepper, if you desire.