Author Archive

August 2, 2011

Orange and Swiss Chard Saute

by Jen

I don’t like recipes that ask you to use the Swiss chard leaves and “save the stems” for another purpose.  It is the beautiful contrast of leaves and stems that beckons me in the grocery store — red chard, rainbow chard, even green chard!

So here is a dish I made for dinner tonight with both leaves and stems.  It is a mix of vegetables and chickpeas in a fragrant garlic-and-orange juice broth, and would work best served with a cooked grain to enjoy the extra liquid.

This is how I cut up Swiss chard:



First, I cut out the stem; second, I chop the stem; third, I roll up the leaves into a cylinder; and fourth, I slice the cylinder into ribbons.  Usually I do this with several leaves at once, so it’s not quite as fussy as it sounds, but it’s still pretty fussy.  Is this the best way of chopping Swiss chard?


  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • zest and juice of two oranges
  • 1 Tbsp of olive oil
  • a pinch of chile pepper flakes
  • 6-7 cloves garlic, chopped (we love garlic!)
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, chopped, with leaves and stems separated
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped up a bit
  • salt to taste
  • First, boil some water, and add about 1/4 cup to a little bowl with the raisins and the orange zest in it.
  • Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat.  When hot, throw in: chile pepper flakes, garlic, bell pepper, and the stems of the chard.  Cook for 4-5 minutes, until the stems and bell pepper are crisp-tender.
  • Add the chickpeas; the raisins and orange zest along with the water they are in; orange juice; mustard; and walnuts.  Stir and cook until the leaves wilt and the juice is heated through.  Taste and add salt.  (I added quite a bit of salt.)  Serve!
July 31, 2011

Fresh Strawberry Pie

by Jen

I have been in the mood to make pie, and this fresh strawberry pie was my third this weekend.

The first was a rhubarb custard pie, from a recipe of my friend Helen’s mother.  I have such fond memories of sitting at Helen’s house in Ohio eating that pie, and as a birthday present for me this year, she shared the recipe.  I’m eager to make it again, at which point I may be able to post it.

The second was a semi-reciped-semi-improvised pie with a filling of raspberry, nectarines, and plums.  It did not turn out quite as well as I might have hoped, mostly because the crust got burned early in the baking process.

And finally, this afternoon I made this fresh strawberry pie with a graham cracker crust.  I’m planning to bring it to my brother’s house for a dinner party tonight, which I am excited about because my brother is a very good cook.

The offer to bring pie was made while slightly drunk, while the pie itself was made while slightly hungover (inexplicably) — but it was ultimately pretty simple to make, and now it exists and I’ll get to eat it, so win-win.

Recipe for the graham-cracker pie crust (from Joy of Cooking):

Crush up 9 graham crackers (I did this by banging the bag containing the 9 graham crackers with a rolling pin for a while until they were mostly crumbled, then opening and emptying the bag and mushing it with my hands) and mix in 6 Tbsp. melted butter, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 tsp cinnamon.  Put the mixture in a pie pan and try to convince it to cover both the bottom of the pan and the sides.  I did this with the help of a water glass to get an even surface.  Bake at 350° for 15 minutes.

Recipe for the pie (also from Joy of Cooking*):

Wash and hull about 6 cups of strawberries: 2 cups should be basically intact attractive smallish strawberries for the top layer; 2 cups should be in thick slices for the bottom layer; and 2 cups (the most mediocre) should be pureed in a food processor.  Then, in a medium saucepan, stir together 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup cornstarch, and 1/8  tsp salt.  Once the cornstarch is well-dispersed in the sugar, add 1/2 cup water, the pureed berries, 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, and 2 Tbsp unsalted butter (the 2 Tbsp you didn’t use for the crust!).  Put the mixture on the stove over medium high heat and cook for a minute — it will thicken up substantially.

Now the fun part: layer the thick sliced strawberries over the crust.  Pour a bunch of the hot berry mixture over them to make a uniform layer.  Then make a second layer with your most attractive strawberries, and add more hot berry mixture as desired.  (I just put it over part of the top layer, but you could add another complete coat.)

Recipe for yogurt topping:

Mix together 1 cup Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract; and 1/4 tsp almond extract.  Serve with slice of pie.

One nice outcome of all this pie-making was left-over ingredients — I had a bunch of pastry dough leftover from the rhubarb pie.  So I rolled out the pastry dough, cut some circles, put those circles into muffin tin openings, and cooked them until they browned.  Then I pulled them out, filled them with leftover strawberry mixture, and topped with strawberries.  They wound up being rather unpolished and messy in appearance (rustic!) but I am excited to eat them.

* My friend Yin dreamed of producing a book called Joy of Eating which would be pictures of him eating every recipe in Joy of Cooking.  I hope one day he achieves that dream…

July 13, 2011

Stormy Summer Strawberry Salad

by Jen

I just bought a basket for my bike!  It is really nice — there’s a brace that I’ve attached to the front of my bike, and the basket itself attaches to the brace, so I can take it off, carry it around, fill it, and re-attach it.  This afternoon I carried home a carton of milk and 2 lb. of strawberries, and it seemed quite stable.  And it was definitely better than biking home with bags dangling from my handlebars!

Future plans: Bake cupcakes, deliver them to my friends.  This plan is dimly inspired by this guy, though soup sounds too heavy.

It was sunny and hot when I conceived of this salad — quinoa, strawberries, and basil in a lemony dressing — and then started pouring as I was finishing preparing it.  It was tasty, and the juice from the strawberries turns the quinoa a pretty pink color.


  • Cook 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups water and 1/4 tsp salt.  Transfer to a bowl and let cool.
  • Make dressing by whisking together: juice of 1 lemon, zest of 1 lemon, 2 Tbsp cider vinegar, 1 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp maple syrup, and salt to taste.  Add to quinoa and stir to mix.
  • Add 2 lb. strawberries, chopped into bite-size pieces and 1 handful basil leaves, ripped apart.  Stir to mix.
  • Chill and eat!
July 11, 2011

Carrot-Onion Veggie Burgers

by Jen

I made the mix for these veggie burgers two days ago, but for some reason decided to wait until it was even hotter to fire up the oven and bake them!  I think they turned out well.  The work of mincing and grating and shredding was largely done by my food processor, so the mix was not much trouble to pull together.


  • Heat a little olive oil.  When hot, throw in 1 Tbsp black mustard seeds and some crushed red pepper.  When the mustard seeds pop, add in 1 medium onion, minced.  Cook for 5 minutes or so, until the onion softens.
  • Add 1 lb. carrot, grated.  Cook for another few minutes, until the carrot softens.  Add 4 cloves of garlic, minced.  Stir and cook for about a minute longer — try not to cook the garlic too long.
  • Take the mixture off heat, and stir in: 1 tsp dried thyme; 1 tsp dried basil; 1 can cannelini beans, mashed up a bit; 1 cup shredded cheese; 1/2 cup oats.  Stir and mash together.
  • Season with salt (in my experience, veggie burger mix should taste a little salty — the burgers come out better!) and add a little flour, as needed to make the mixture manageable.
  • Form into patties — I made 9.  I don’t think these would grill, but they would definitely be easy to pan fry — and I suspect they would be wonderful that way.  I baked them (on a greased pan, for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees), in part because it was so hot I didn’t want to stand over the stove.
July 10, 2011

Lazy Sunday

by Jen

I often cook on Sundays, in part so that we will have leftovers to pack for lunches early in the week.  However, today I was feeling very lazy.  So instead of a recipe, I wanted to share a historical photo from Cake Day of last year (August 15, 2010).  These are beautiful and delicious cupcakes that Jaime brought in this cute basket (which seems designed with cupcake-carrying in mind!) — I seem to remember that they were red velvet cupcakes, but I may be mistaken.  I was reminded of these cupcakes after eating more delicious cupcakes at her house last night.

Cake Day is a holiday Alexa invented many years ago, and which we wish to promote, because it is awesome.  She will write more about it in a future post.

And to conclude, here are two completely unnecessary photos of our cat Fuji, lounging.  This is basically what I did today as well…he just made it look so appealing…

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