Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Potluck Recipe #20: Olive Oil Cake

An impromptu potluck (at my house!) called for a dessert that could accompany another guest's abundant fruit share — oh, what to do with an excess of strawberries and blueberries? Such a problem to have! Whatever I made, I had about a half hour to get her in the oven and no butter or shortening.

Olive oil cake! Sounds funny, but the combination of olive oil and fluffy eggs renders a delicate cake only slightly heavier than angel food and perhaps even more tender. Overall, the cake is not too sweet and pairs deliciously with fresh strawberries and blueberries. That said, the little bit of sugar sprinkled across the top of the cake just before baking forms a very thin crust, which makes the cake a tasty treat on its own, no berries needed.

And yes, the prep time is just under 20 minutes.

Olive Oil Cake

(serves 8 to 10)

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for greasing pan
5 large eggs, separated, reserving 1 white for another use
1 cup, plus 1 1/2 tbsp., sugar
1 cup cake flour
1 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup cake flour
1/2 tsp. salt

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease springform pan with some oil, then line bottom with a round of parchment paper and oil it, too.
2. Beat together yolks and 3/4 cup sugar in a large bowl at high speed until pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add olive oil and lemon juice, beating until just combined . Using a rubber spatula, add flour mixture in two batches, folding in until just combined.
3. Beat four egg whites with salt in another large bowl with cleaned beaters at medium-high speed until foamy, then add 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time, beating until the egg whites hold soft peaks, about 3 minutes.
4. Gently fold one third of whites into yolk mixture to lighten, then thoroughly fold in remaining whites.
5. Transfer batter to springform pan and gently rap against work surface once or twice to release any air bubbles. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar on top.
6. As it bakes, cake will puff up and turn a light, golden brown. Bake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes or until a toothpick poked in the center come out clean. Cool cake on a rack 10 minutes, then run a thin knife around edge of pan and remove the side. Cool cake completely before serving — top of the cake will flatten out as it cools and pan bottom and parchment should remove easily.

Notes: You can add lemon zest for a more lemony cake or skip the lemon altogether and sub in some almond extract. I also like to shake a little powdered sugar across the top of the cake for decoration.

Coming Up: Onions

Mmmm . . . . just look at these onions! This morning, Farm Director Ben Penner forwarded this photo to us, wondering if anyone remembers the March 8 farm training, during which folks helped start tiny onion seeds in soil blocks.

If you attended that meeting, you planted these gorgeous onion rows! Don’t they look delicious?

These onions also look well weeded, an ongoing job for Ben, Sam, our farm intern, and volunteers. If you have time to help out, please sign up for a shift.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summertime, and the Veggies are Growing

Open Farms Director Ben Penner has been sending our kitchen crates of beautiful spinach, mesclun and arugula for our clients' salads. Today he wrote to tell us that, with the help of a mighty crew of volunteers, he and our farm intern Samantha have planted a healthy portion of the garden -- including some 1,400 tomato plants! -- but there’s more to come, including a giant field of fall vining plants.

"Now all we need to do is weed, weed, weed ... and then do some more weeding," he writes. Apparently, the veggies aren't the only thing flourishing in this month's rainfall!

If you'd like to lend a hand, check out the
farm page for shifts.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Potluck Recipe #19: Orzo Salad with Grapefruit and Peanuts

Last week I sat down to plan a meal for my housemates and found myself in that particular summer dilemma -- what to make when the weather is just too stifling to turn on the oven?

Enter the cold salad. Grab a grain or pasta, chop up whatever veggies are fresh, add some herbs and a bit of kick, and voila! A delicious dinner with minimal heat.

I seem to have some company on this particular train of thought. On The Splendid Table this week, Martha Rose Shulman joined host Lynne Rossetto Kasper to talk about summer salads. Listen to the show or check out one of the recipes they talked about.

I ended up preparing the intensely flavorful salad below, and received a rave review from one of my housemates: "Jeanne! Dinner last night was super-yummy! I felt like I was at a restaurant...if restaurants let you sit on a couch while watching Arrested Development!" Just think what your guests might say if you served this at an Open Arms potluck...

Orzo Salad with Grapefruit and Peanuts

Adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman

(Serves 4-6)

1-2 small chilies, minced, or about 1 tsp. hot red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 tbsp. packed brown sugar
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tbsp. soy sauce

8 ounces orzo
1 large grapefruit, peeled, sectioned and chopped
1 cup roasted peanuts, chopped
1 medium to large ripe tomato, cored, seeded and chopped
3 scallions, minced
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

1. In a small bowl, combine the chilies, garlic, sugar, lime juice and soy sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning. (This dressing may be prepared a day or two in advance; if anything, its flavor will improve.)
2. Cook and drain the orzo.
3. Mix the grapefruit, 1/2 cup of the peanuts, the tomato, scallions, mint and 1/3 cup of the cilantro together in a large bowl.
4. Toss the orzo in the large bowl with the grapefruit mixture and the dressing.
5. Divide the salad among serving bowls, garnish with the remaining peanuts and cilantro, and serve.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Potluck Recipe #18: Tarragon Vinaigrette

What to do when spring showers bring bushels of two-foot tall tarragon? Tarragon dressing is delicious, not too labor intensive and provides a delightful companion to all the lettuce also popping up in gardens this time of year — including ours! -- these days.

If you are feeling extra-DIY, you can stuff several sprigs of the delicious herb into well-sealed jars of white-wine vinegar and squirrel them away for winter.

Tarragon Vinaigrette

(Serves 4. To make more servings, simply double the recipe.)

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. canola oil
1 tbsp. champagne vinegar
1 tsp. dijon mustard
3-4 tbsp. fresh tarragon, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Mix together vinegar and mustard in a medium size bowl.
2. Add oils, in a slow steady drizzle while whisking. Whisk until completely emulsified.
3. Stir in tarragon, salt and pepper.
4. Let sit for at least an hour, whisk it up and pour it over salad.

If all this whisking is too much trouble, you can also put all the ingredients in a jar and give them a good shake!