Tofu Banh Mi, With CSA Veggies!

Tofu Bahn Mi, tofu, bahn mi, mark bittman, crown heights csa

First, I’m not even going to bother saying this is a recipe post, because we literally followed this Slate recipe verbatim. Second, have you ever had banh mi? It’s basically a Vietnamese hoagie (or sub, if you prefer that term, but I don’t. I’m from Pittsburgh.) Anyway, there is this place. It’s in Little Italy. It’s called Saigon Vietnamese Sandwich Deli. It used to be called Saigon No. 1. They’ve expanded a bit and apparently changed their name since we first went there three years ago. Not that we were the first people to go there or anything because we most definitely weren’t. But clearly business has boomed since our presence was had. But back to the point: their sandwiches. Banh mi is a traditional Vietnamese sandwich on a baguette that has warm, sweet pork and rich pate, served with slices of cool cucumber, crisp pickled carrots, and a spicy chili sauce. It’s an amazing combination of sweet, savory, fatty, spicy, cool, and crunchy. Totally amazing.

BUT. This post is obviously not that. This post is about our imitation of that amazing sandwich. Matt found this recipe on Slate for a tofu banh mi. We’ve both had tofu before, but we’ve never cooked it before. But since we’re always looking for more vegetarian recipes to make, and we got all of the veggies necessary for this in our CSA baskets, I was all about making this. Also, the tofu cooking method is from Mark Bittman, and he’s basically our recipe god.

Local highlights: Carrot, cilantro, and kirby cucumber from Sang Lee Farms via the Crown Heights Farm Share

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I Made This: Garlic Scape Pesto

Garlic Scape Pesto, garlic scapes, jessica dailey

I know what you’re thinking. “Garlic scapes? Jess, you did not get garlic scapes in your first CSA.” I know, I know. If you haven’t noticed, I’m quite slow at posting (this pesto is long gone by now), and we’re already on our third CSA delivery. Just bear with me. I promise CSA veggie recipes will be on the way.

But right now, let’s talk about this pesto. Have you ever had garlic scapes? Have you ever seen them? You may have thought, “what the heck are these crazy curly things?” Well. I will tell you.

Garlic Scape Pesto, garlic scapes, jessica dailey

Local highlight: Garlic Scapes from Phillips Farms in Hunterdon County, NJ

Scapes are the fresh green shoots that grow out of hardneck garlic, and they are cut off because, if left on, they’d just take away from the formation of a nice plump garlic bulb. And that’s the last thing that anyone wants. Me, especially. Garlic scapes are garlicky, vegetal, and slightly herby, so they can be used in so many ways. The best way (at least in my book) to use them is to make a pesto, but my parents love them just sauteed or grilled.

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Bright & Refreshing Thyme Collins

thyme collins, jessica dailey

One of Matt’s hobbies, much to my delight, is to make cocktails. He loves experimenting with new bitters and liqueurs, and I love drinking whatever fancy concoction he whips up. Over Memorial Day weekend, we visited his parents in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and their garden inspired him to brighten up one of our favorite drinks with some fresh herbs. Gin is our liquor of choice in warm weather, and a lemony, fizzy Tom Collins is our preferred method of consuming said liquor. To fancify things, Matt muddle a few sprigs of fresh (like plucked-from-the-plant-five-minutes-ago-fresh) thyme in the bottom of each glass before adding the drinks, and I garnished each with a bit of thyme flowers (I didn’t even know thyme had flowers!). Thus was born the Thyme Collins.

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I Made This: Penne with Broccoli Rabe & Venison Italian Sausage

penne with broccoli rabe and venison italian sausage

My dad, much like most dads in Western Pennsylvania, is a hunter. All my life, the Monday after Thanksgiving has been recognized as something of a holiday, as it’s the first day of deer season. Every year, my dad packs his gear and heads for the woods. For him and my family, getting a deer, or two, is not just for sport — venison has always been a regular source of protein for us. So much so that my mom never needs to buy ground meat. When I was little, my dad would send his deer to a local processor, but now he does the whole thing himself, from skinning to grinding. He shoots the deer on my family’s 13 acres, and makes ground meat, jerky (the BEST jerky, I might add), breakfast sausages, hot italian sausage, snack sticks, chops, and steaks in our house. How much more local can you possibly get? And it’s most likely organic, unless someone is spraying down our woods with pesticides.

When Matt and I lived in Pittsburgh, we’d get a couple frozen packages of venison from my parents every few weeks, saving us poor college kids a lot of money and providing us with delicious, lean meat. It’s something that we’ve really missed, now that we’re 400 miles away. Local, sustainable meat is so expensive, and we only really buy it for special occasions. But my parents, God bless them, always bring a cooler full of home-grown venison when they come to visit. My mom and sister delivered the latest batch over Mother’s Day weekend, when they came up for an impromptu visit. Our first recipe from the supply made use of the super flavorful sweet italian sausage, which we served in a pasta with a bunch of fresh broccoli rabe that Matt picked up at the farmers market.

Local highlights:
– Venison Sausage from Dailey Acres (it has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?)
– Broccoli Rabe from Lani’s Farm Stand at the Union Square Greenmarket

broccoli rabe

The bitter rabe paired perfectly with the sweetness of the slightly gamey sausage, which we browned with olive oil, a hearty helping of garlic, and a few dashes of crushed red pepper. We used a hearty whole wheat penne (well, half whole wheat, half Barilla plus multigrain because we didn’t have enough of either), and we generously topped it parmesan cheese. It was one of the simplest, tastiest recipes we’ve made in a long time. Between forkfuls, we kept mumbling things like, “oh my gosh, this is so delicious.”

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I Made This: New Haven Style Clam Pizza

New Haven Style Clam Pizza, pizza, clam pizza, mark bittman pizza dough, littleneck clams

All my life, I have loved pizza. Now, everyone says they love pizza, but when I say I love pizza, I mean that I love pizza. It is truly, honest to goodness, my favorite food. And I don’t discriminate when it comes to pizza. I’ll gobble down a greasy late night slice just as soon as I’d make reservations at the newest gourmet pizza restaurant. So when I finally got my own pizza stone for Christmas, I was over the moon. Finally! I can make delicious, non-pita bread pizza (my specialty) whenever I want!

But then came the problem of the dough. Everyone says frozen dough is the quickest, easiest way to whip up a pie, but guess what? My city grocery store (read: not a suburb supermarket wonderland that has 17 types of every product) does not carry frozen pizza dough. Plus, why buy the frozen stuff when homemade dough only calls for about four ingredients?

Mark Bittman pizza dough, pizza dough, homemade pizza dough, pizza dough recipe

For the first couple tries, I made a rather sticky dough based off the recipe in the instruction booklet that came with the pizza stone. It tasted ok, but it didn’t crisp up very well, yet still wound up being kind of hard and chewy. The week before I embarked on my clam pizza, I found Mark Bittman’s simple pizza dough recipe that used the food processor. I don’t have a stand mixer (you may have heard something about apartments in NYC being small…), and I love my food processor almost as much as I love pizza, so I knew I needed to make this dough. And the simple toppings of a New Haven-style clam pizza were actually perfect for being able to really taste the dough. It was thin, crispy, and the crusts were beautifully golden on the outside while still light and soft on the inside.

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I Made This: Cumin Carrot Soup

Cumin Carrot Soup, Cumin Carrot Soup recipe, the green garlic Cumin Carrot Soup, bittman Cumin Carrot Soup, carrots, soup

I think it’s safe to say that winter, if you can even call it that, is over for New York City. I’ve been saving this soup recipe to post on a chilly day, but today’s dreary weather will have to do. Every year, we get a boatload of carrots in our farm share, so I’m always looking for new recipes to do something more interesting than simply roasting them or throwing them in a stir-fry. So when Matt came across this cumin carrot soup recipe from Mark Bittman (one of our go-to chefs for simple, delicious recipes), we knew it was a must — plus, I really wanted to make a soup so we could use our new immersion blender.

Local highlight: carrots (duh!) from Phillips Farms in Hunterdon County, NJ

Cumin Carrot Soup, Cumin Carrot Soup recipe, the green garlic Cumin Carrot Soup, bittman Cumin Carrot Soup, carrots, soup

This recipe is really as easy as they come. There are only six ingredients, and all you have to do is roast the cuminy carrots until soft, sweet, and browned, then simmer them with onions and more spices in rich vegetable stock, and blend. Voila! Delicious, velvety soup. Top with cilantro, toasted nuts, or a dollop of creme fraiche. This recipe makes quite a bit of soup (six large bowls, maybe?). We ate it for dinner, and enjoyed the leftovers for several days. The soup keeps very well.

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I Made This: Baked Egg Boats

There is little I love more than sleeping in on the weekend. More so on Saturdays than Sundays. Waking up late on Saturdays feels refreshing and enlivening while waking up late on Sundays feels slightly overwhelming, as the forthcoming week looms before you. But no matter if you’re enjoying a long relaxing brunch on Saturday or looking forward to one last weekend treat before buckling down and preparing for the week ahead, these amazingly delicious baked egg boats are the perfect weekend brunch.

Local highlights:
– Sourdough baguettes from Buon Pane in Hudson County, NJ
– Green onions from Phillips Farms in Hunterdon County, NJ

I found this recipe while browsing Pinterest, and while mine didn’t puff up nearly as beautifully as these, the tasty egg, bacon, and cheese mixture still seeped deep into the bread, making them wildly delicious.

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I Made This: Pasta With Butternut Squash, Sage & Pine Nuts

butternut squash, pasta, pine nuts, sage, cooking, recipes

Local highlight: Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is one of my favorite vegetables. Its sweet, creamy richness is irresistible to me, so I’m always pleased to find a lovely mound of beautiful butternuts at my weekly market during the winter. Recently I turned one of these darlings into one of the most delicious pasta dishes I have ever made. No lie. The chopped butternut squash is roasted with chopped onion, minced garlic, and olive oil until its soft and nearly spreadable. Then the squash and cooked pasta are pan-fried together with sage and pine nuts to deepen the flavors and make the pasta a bit crispy.

butternut squash, pasta, pine nuts, sage, cooking, recipes

I found this recipe on The Kitchn, and I followed the directions almost exactly. I did not have a sweet onion, so I subsisted half of a regular onion, but since the onion is roasted with the squash, it still became sweet. I also used rotini in place of farfalle. I think this prohibited the pasta from getting as crispy as The Kitchn describes, but it was still incredibly tasty.

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