Thanks to our Community Supported Agriculture box (from Wood Duck Farm) and the new (to us) late growing season, I have been cooking a lot. I have already made most of the Barefoot Contessa vegetable recipes, so I’ve had to branch out to other cookbooks and websites for inspiration. If all of the following look a little beige, have no fear. There have been plenty of salads (kale and otherwise), green beans, and the like that have come along with the farm share, too.
I made this lovely vegetable frittata, adapted from a recipe from Vegetable Love by Barbara Kafka. I bought this book for my dad’s birthday last year, and told him that if he didn’t like it, that he should just give it to me. Apparently, he liked it (yay?), and I picked up my own copy at Half Price Books earlier this summer. Here’s the frittata, which used summer squash, zucchini, onion, and eggs from our farm share.
I’ve also been hitting up the smitten kitchen cookbook and website. I’ve used at least a dozen of her recipes, or variations on her recipes, in the past, and I love every single one of them. I love her writing even more. If you’re going to spend the time and energy to read a five-page recipe, it had better be informative and entertaining, and she hits all the right notes. Most recently, I made her sweet potato blintzes and refrigerator pickles. Here are all the photos I took of the blintzes, which were as labor intensive as they sound, but they were so worth the effort. (If you’re smart about it, you can multitask, cooking the crepes while mixing the filling, simmering the cranberries for the syrup while assembling, etc.). Perhaps most importantly, they used a good share of the sweet potatoes and eggs included in the farm share. They are rich, so plan to share them. I used quark for the farmer’s cheese. The cranberry syrup was essential. The buttery smell in the kitchen took me back to our crepe party in Minnesota, but this was on a much smaller (and less messy) scale. (Side note: that was nine months ago, and I’ve made fewer than 100 new Ina recipes since then. I’m clearly slipping. Slipping in butter, apparently.)
Last but not least, I made the zucchini gratin from Ina’s Barefoot in Paris. As I made it, first sauteing the zucchini (or summer squash, in our case) with onions, and then adding bread crumbs and gruyere, I thought about how this recipe is a great combination of how I grew up eating summer squash (plain, cooked lightly on the stove) and how Neil grew up eating it (with lots of extra goodness added). It was our eleventh wedding anniversary, so I was about to expound about something symbolic and the marriage of tastes, but I see that Martha Stewart beat me to the creepy marriage/food metaphors, while simultaneously getting in a dig at Gwyneth Paltrow. Well played, Martha. You win, you crafty minx. The gratin was awesome, though, and Neil went back for seconds. Of vegetables!
In all seriousness, we had a great anniversary. On the eve of the actual anniversary, Ben’s school had a “kids’ night out” event, so we dropped the kids off there, and after careful review of the extensive list of suggested restaurants from our friends, we made our way to Brennan’s to celebrate. The food, the service, and the atmosphere were all perfect for a grown-up night out to celebrate eleven years of marriage. What was striking about the menu were the many elements that we would consider “spring” ingredients – fried green tomatoes, pea shoots, etc. We are really starting to see the second growing season that everyone has told us about. I had crab cakes and the famous Brennan’s dessert, bananas foster (served flambé tableside). It was a great night out!