Friday, February 29, 2008

Mustard greens with red potatoes
adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison.

Mustard greens have a sharp smell and strong mustardy taste. Red potatoes also have a strong sweet smell and flavor. The two blend well together.

Our farmers market in Belmont does not have a vendor who carries mustard. However the Saturday market in neighboring San Mateo is wonderful with multiple vendors in many categories. There are both regular and organic varieties available here. The farmer’s market is located at the top of Hillsdale at the community college which is a steep invigorating bike ride away that takes about 25 minutes. The views from the top are unmatched in the Bay Area.

Trim the stalks of one bunch of greens then cut the leaves in one inch strips and then cut across the strips in two inch lengths. Trim the stalks fine discarding the hard lower portion. Layer into the 6” oval roaster. Salt the layers. At the top layer one or two garlic cloves chopped fine.

Pick red potatoes about two inches across. I get these from Raymond. Cut in half then half again. Fine slice the quarters and layer on top. Salt. Drizzle two tablespoons vegetable oil (I use safflower or sunflower) both grown in Northern California and available at Whole Food Markets. You can also use olive oil from the San Mateo or Belmont Farmers Market which is grown much closer in northern Napa. Top with a teaspoon of crushed dried chili peppers. (Place your farmers market chillies in a large flat basket in a cool dark place. They will dry out in six weeks. Dry in the sun for a couple of days then bottle for the winter.)

I had to bake for an hour and a half in the oven in the winter position with the reflector because there was a light haze. Then baked for another hour and a half with the reflector off. Mix throughly. Before serving warm. You can also top with a sharp cheese like Parmesan, gorgonzola, feta, or cheddar, only the last of which is available at the farmers market in San Mateo. There are more cheese varieties at the weekend farmer’s market in Berkeley.

The day started foggy and the sun didn't poke through until 11:00 AM. I had the oven ready to go at 11:30 and took the greens out at 2:30 PM. There weren't any clouds after 1:00 PM otherwise I would have left it in for another hour.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Winter genoese yukon potatoes.

Serves 4
Raymond has red and yukon gold potatoes this time of year. His organic farm in Hollister has an organic oat field nearby. There nothing else around he says. I pick the potatoes so they would qualify as medium, about two inches round.

Cut six yukons into half then cut the halves into four pieces.
Toss into the 6” oval roaster with salt.

Place in the upright solar sport oven in the winter position with the reflector and set the timer to 90 minutes. Remember if the oven hasn’t steamed you should give it some more time. Start cooking early. I have the food cut trimmed and in the oven by 9:00 AM.

Warm the rest up before you serve, mix with a two teaspoons of winter pesto, and serve.

For the winter pesto-
One of the organic vendors at our farmers market brings the best arugula in these parts. Walnuts and almonds are available at the non organic tables at the farmers market.

Blend half a handful of walnut nuts or almonds with two cloves garlic, a mix of parsley and cilantro or arugula, or broccoli (about two to three cups) with water and olive oil. Use more water if you are watching your weight. Salt. Add a chili if you can handle it. Add parmesan if you like. Blend varying the water or olive oil or both until it runs smooth. Can be used for sandwiches, pasta, or potatoes.

Steel cut or rolled oats.

One cup steel cut or rolled oats. I get mine from the bulk isle at Whole Foods.

Slightly less than two cups water. This will make a dry oatmeal without the associated "slime" for want of a better word, that accompanies stove cooked oatmeal. One of the wonders of solar cooking.

Pinch of salt.

Toss into the 6” oval roaster and put in the oven in the winter position with the reflector. Set your clock for fifty minutes. Use your kitchen timer because the reflector can warp the oven.

Makes four servings which keep in the refrigerator. I eat for breakfast with a little milk sometimes, but generally with what-ever winter green is left over.

The solar sport oven will condense water at the top when the food is cooked. That a quick easy visual guide to get the food out. If you are running an errand and may not be back in time put the oven in a spot where you know there will be shade in an hour.

Beets and swiss chard

Its late February and the days are just beginning to lengthen. Rain brings clouds to try and shorted the day. Most mornings are sunny till about noon, then the clouds roll in and lock out the day. At the farmers market there are lots of winter greens. I use the solar sport oven in its winter upright position with a 6” wide oval roaster and 5” small pot.

One bunch swiss chard and one bunch beets with leaves. Raymond, from Calderon Farms, a organic table from Hollister, about 70 miles to the south, sells them for $2 each.

Rinse well. If you let them soak in cold water the gritty soil will come off. Scoop the water from the sink and use it on the plants.

Trim the stalks then cut the bigger ones off the leaf. Chop the leaves into half inch strips. Chop the stalks fine.

Peel the beets carefully with a potato peeler. Then cut into 1/4 inch strips.

Mix leaves stalks and beets in a roaster. Salt and mix. Place in the oven in the winter position with the reflector for one hour. Check to see if the top is steaming. If not go another fifteen minutes. If you use a thermometer make sure the oven gets over 230 for one hour. Use your kitchen timer because the reflector can warp the oven if left unattended.

The leaves will have wilted.

In a bowl mix two tablespoons olive oil, two tablespoons white wine vinegar, one crushed clove garlic optional, two teaspoons cumin plus two tablespoons hot New Mexico chili powder optional, one cup chopped cilantro or parsley optional. Add to roaster, mix, taste for salt and serve. Big Paw brings olive oil and vinegar from the north bay as far away as Calistoga about 100 miles from Belmont.