29 May 2013 7:43 AM
Arugula & Garlic Scape Pesto


Arugula & Garlic Scape Pesto on Sourdough Wheat Bread

Ah, spring.  That time when all the edible greens make an appearance.  Unlike spinach, which doesn’t seem to grow around here, we have an abundance of two things:  Mustard greens and arugula.  D and I just can’t seem to figure out why arugula is so expensive.  It grows like a weed and is really bitter.  Each spring, and fall for that matter, I can be heard lamenting, “What am I supposed to do with all this arugula?”  Currently there are a couple of pounds of the stuff in our spare refrigerator.

Last year I discovered arugula pesto which is better than it sounds.  Or maybe, just as good as it sounds depending on your tolerance for a peppery bite.  Yesterday D picked the garlic scapes.  You can usually find garlic scapes at the farmers markets in the spring.  They are what will turn into the flower of a garlic plant.  You pick them so that the plant puts all its energy into growing the garlic instead of making a beautiful flower.

Garlic Flower
[Garlic Flower - not ours.  We never let our garlic get to this stage.]

With fresh scapes in the house, I decided to incorporate them into some arugula pesto instead of using the more typical garlic.  At first, I thought it might not the best idea since scapes are a delicate garlic flavor and arugula packs the punch of a lifetime.  But I think raw garlic would have added to the pungency and the scapes may have mellowed it.

Garlic Scapes, Parmesan Cheese, Arugula & Walnuts
[Left to Right:  Garlic Scapes, Parmesan, Arugula & Walnuts]

I made 4+ cups and froze most of it.  Sometime in December our lament will change to, “Arugula pesto, again?”

Note:  I never measure pesto anymore.  Just dump and taste.  Pesto is ultimately forgiving and any variation is delicious.


Arugula & Garlic Scape Pesto with Lemon Zest

Arugula & Garlic Scape Pesto

Arugula, as much as you need to use
Salt, a generous pinch or two
Walnuts, a couple handfuls toasted in a dry pan over med-low heat
Garlic scapes, as much as you need to use
Olive oil, enough until you like the texture
Parmesan cheese, grated
Lemon, juiced & zested

If you want to rid yourself of some of the “bitter”, de-stem the arugula.  I stuff it in the food processor as is, stems and all.  Add a pinch of salt, some walnuts and the garlic scapes.  Pulse or run on low, or high.  Push down the sides with a scraper.  If the food processor just starts spinning and doesn’t continue to chop leaves, start adding oil though the tube.  Let it go for a bit – keep adding oil until you like the consistency, and add a little more oil for safe measure.

Put the mixture into a bowl and make some more if you have more arugula to use up.  For the large bowl I made, I ran the processor twice; adding extra arugula after each batch was chopped.

Add the parmesan and mix.  Add some lemon juice and zest.  Keep adding lemon/zest until it takes a bit of the bite out of the arugula.  Trust me, lemon juice is arugula’s best friend.

The pesto can be eaten tossed with noodles, as a spread on a nice sourdough loaf (thanks D!), or a topping for any meats – strong enough for steak – go light on fish or chicken.  It can also be frozen to use during the winter.



The Worleys
28 May 2013 8:25 AM
Cushaw Tart with Goat Cheese & Caramelized Onions



I wasn’t sure if this should go in the recipe section or not since I can’t really write out a recipe for it.  All I can do is throw out some ideas and hope that you can be inspired to play with your own food.

Last week we had Cuban food and came home with some leftover black beans and rice.  We also started getting Cook’s Illustrated. (How did I make it to 40+ and not know about this magazine?)  In the May/June issue, there was a recipe for Cuban-Style Picadillo.  So I made that, delicious, and we ate it with the black beans & rice + sautéed kale/collards because it is that time of year.  It would have served 10 so there was a lot left over.  I decided on empanadas the next day.

We’re still working on that last cushaw, so I also thought I’d make some squash & goat cheese empanadas.  Here is where our story begins.

Note:  In case you don’t know – and I wouldn’t if D hadn’t grown them last summer -- cushaw is a very giant, hearty winter squash.  We had four that we ate on all winter.  Just cut off a chunk, cover the end in plastic wrap, and stick back in the refrigerator.  The texture is like pumpkin, but milder in flavor.  If you Google it, you will see mostly cushaw pie, which aficionados seem to like better than pumpkin pie.  But we’re not a sweets family, so I’ve just been looking up savory butternut squash or pumpkin recipes.

Back to the “recipe”, I roasted a couple cups of diced cushaw with onion, olive oil & salt which I threw in the food processor with more olive oil.  Apparently, I had been a little heavy handed with salt.  Actually, a lot heavy handed, and it was completely inedible.  I added some milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, smoked paprika & pepper.  Still, inedible.  I boiled 3 small potatoes.  Inedible.  Boiled 4 more small potatoes.  Still salty, but possibly okay.  Added some more milk to get a creamy texture that I thought would be good in the empanadas.  I now had a quart of cushaw/potato puree.  After assembling some empanadas, which turned out great, by the way, I had a 3¾ cups puree.  Hmmm.

The puree sat in the refrigerator for another couple of days as I tried to figure out what to do next. D suggested ravioli which would be delicious, but still only use up a little bit of the stuff.  I needed something that was heavy on the filling and light on the wrapper.

If I made a tart, it would use up more of the puree than individual empanadas or ravioli.  So the next step.  I made my favorite pastry dough recipe (I also used it for the empanada dough - http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2010/05/french-tomato-tart-recipe/).  I always make this by hand by rubbing the butter through my fingertips and sweeping the flour mixture into the egg/water.  It always comes out perfect.  I put it in the refrigerator while I tackled the cushaw/potato puree.

I whisked together 2 eggs and about 1 cup whole milk ricotta.  Then I started adding puree until it seemed right.  It was most of the leftover puree and the salt level was finally right.  There was an ear of roasted corn left over so I cut the kernels off and threw those in for some texture.  In the meantime, I caramelized some onions, which I also managed to over salt.  I don’t know what is wrong with me and the salt pinching.  I filled the tart shell with the cushaw/potato/egg/ricotta mixture.  (I still have 2 cups left over which means ravioli, I think.)  Dotted the top with goat cheese leftover from the empanada making, and the caramelized onions.  Baked for 40 minutes at 400°.

Cushaw Tart

It was delicious and what T wanted in her lunch today along with sautéed kale/collards.  I guess the moral of the story is, sometimes cooking fails can be salvageable.  Here is the recipe, the best I can come up with.  I'm really not sure how accurate it is.

Cushaw Tart with Goat Cheese & Carmelized Onions

3 cups cushaw or other winter squash, diced
1 onion, chopped
2 medium potatoes, unpeeled and diced
2 TBS olive oil, divided
1 t salt
1/3 cup milk
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp pepper
2 eggs
1 cup ricotta
1 ear corn kernels, optional
2 oz goat cheese
1 onion, halved and sliced in thin half moons
1 TBS butter
Your favorite tart dough in a tart mold or pie pan

Preheat oven to 400°.  Toss cushaw, onion & potato with 1 TBS olive oil & salt.  Roast 30 minutes or until soft.  Let cool and puree in a food processor with additional 1 TBS olive oil & milk.  Add seasonings and taste.  It should be just slightly salty at this point.  The ricotta will mellow it out.

Melt butter in to sauté pan, add onions.  Cook over low to medium heat until caramelized.  About 20 minutes if you are impatient.  40 minutes if you do it right.

Beat together eggs & ricotta, add puree.  Mix in corn if using.  Pour into tart shell.  Dot top with goat cheese and caramelized onions.  Bake in 400° oven for 40 minutes, or until puffed slightly and set.


The Worleys

The Worleys | permalink | Food
07 February 2013 6:56 AM
Our Favorite Casserole, redux

We had a roast chicken last night with lots of yummy leftovers.  After going back and forth on how to repurpose the chicken, I went to my old standby, King Ranch Chicken Casserole.  I got this out of a Southern Living magazine years ago and they titled it, “Our Favorite Casserole”.  And it became ours too.  We used to eat it all the time which is why it is in my recipe file.  But I haven’t made it in, oh say, three years – the same time we stopped buying Cream of XXX soup.

Tonight I decided to test the waters with an updated, locavore friendly version.  Replacing the Cream of XXX soup with a homemade roux and using mostly local ingredients, except for the Grass Fed New Zealand Cheddar.

And the result – most delicious.  The flour tortillas got very crispy on top giving added texture.  They were actually better than corn.  The addition of one diced smoked Andouille Sausage gave the entire casserole a lovely south by southwest feel.  Further discussion resulted in endless variation ideas using the same simple method.  Feel free to riff on a good thing.  Give it a go, it’s worth it.


King Ranch Chicken Casserole, for the grass fed  enthusiast.

King Ranch Chicken Casserole, kinda

Main Ingredients:
Leftover Roast Chicken, chopped (about 3 cups)
Andouille Sausage, diced, optional (we had one leftover)
3 c grated sharp cheddar cheese,  preferably grass fed
2-3 flour tortillas cut into strips, homemade if you have them, but a good organic store bought variety will do in a pinch.  We used to use corn, but don’t want to eat the GMO stuff and I don’t make those yet.

Cream of XXX soup:
2 T butter (Kerrygold -- making it from raw cream has become too expensive)
2 T AP flour (Bulk from Cloverdale)
½ c chicken stock (we used two cubes of frozen stock jello dissolved in ½ c hot water to cover)
½ c whole milk (raw if you can get it and want to – you know who you are)

1 T butter
1 small-ish onion, chopped (TJ's cause we finished last seasons onions in November)
1 small-ish green pepper, chopped (we used frozen from the 2012 garden harvest)
1 clove garlic (from last seasons last bulb)
1 12-oz jar Rotel style tomatoes & peppers (I canned this last summer – just use Rotel, or a mixture of 8-oz chopped tomatoes + 4-oz diced green chilies or pickled jalapeno)
½ t dried oregano (next year this will be mine!)
½ t cumin
½ t Mexican-style chili powder (or a scant t regular chili powder + a pinch cayenne)
Cream of XXX Soup

Preheat oven to 375°.

First make your “Cream of XXX” soup.  Melt 2 T butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add flour and whisk for about 2 minutes to cook the flour taste out of the flour.  Whisk in stock and milk.  Bring to a boil, whisking frequently, until thickened.

In a frying pan, melt the 1 T butter.  Add the onion and sauté 5-7 minutes until beginning to soften.  Add green pepper for 2-ish minutes & then the garlic.  Sauté until the garlic is fragrant.  Add the tomatoes & spices.  We added the Andouille Sausage here to get some moisture back into it.  Once the tomatoes have cooked down a bit, add the Cream of XXX soup.  Stir, bring back to a little simmer, and remove from stove.

In your smaller casserole dish, layer the following:  ½ chicken, ½ sauce, 1/3 cheese, ½ tortillas.  Repeat.  Top with the final 1/3 cheese.

Bake in a 375° oven for 45 minutes.  Once everything is bubbly, remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before eating.  Enjoy!


The Worleys

The Worleys | permalink | Food
17 January 2013 1:01 PM
Country Ham, Cheddar & Zucchini Breakfast Muffins


Country Ham, Cheddar & Zucchini Muffins

I’ve been on the search for savory breakfast items that I can freeze so that T can pop them in the microwave in the morning before she runs out the door for the school bus.  Because variety is the spice of life, I keep trying to come up with different items that can go from freezer to microwave to decent breakfast.

I’ve made various flavors of breakfast burrito by changing up the sausage flavorings, cheese, & salsa.  The most delicious combination is in this year’s Christmas Cookbook that you can download here.  Since I make the tortillas, it takes two hours, start to finish, to make 15 – 18 burritos.

I’ve also made bacon, egg & cheese muffins.  This takes, mostly hands off, all day because I make the English Muffins.  Yeah, yeah, I know.  Once the muffins are finally cooked, baking the eggs & bacon doesn’t really take that long.

But I was longing for something that would be quick to make and still be savory with some protein.  Enter the Savory Breakfast Muffin.  After oodles of Google searches, I mashed together some recipes and came up with this one.

Country Ham, Cheddar & Zucchini Breakfast Muffins


1 ¼ c AP flour
1 TBS baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 TBS sugar
2 eggs
¼ c grape seed or other mild oil
¾ c milk
4 ½ c shredded zucchini  
½ c shredded sharp cheddar cheese
¼ c chopped cooked country ham
2 TBS chopped fresh parsley (optional)


Preheat oven to 400°F.  Grease or line 18 muffin cups.

Sift flour, baking powder & salt into a large bowl.  Add sugar and mix well.

In a 2nd bowl, beat eggs with oil & milk.

Add liquid bowl to dry bowl and mix well.  Add zucchini and mix until just incorporated.  Repeat with cheese, country ham and parsley.  It’s okay if it is a bit lumpy.

Fill muffin tin cups at least 2/3-rds full of batter.  Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until browned and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack in muffin tin and then run a knife around the edge to dislodge the muffin.  Cool the rest of the way on the cooling rack.

Eat now – or…  Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze.  To reheat, take off plastic wrap and re-wrap in a paper towel and microwave on high for 30 – 60 seconds, or until heated through.



The Worleys

The Worleys | permalink | Food
15 January 2013 1:23 PM
2012 Holiday Cookbook

Greetings all,

Our 2012 Holiday Cookbook is called "Bread" including all of our favorite bread recipes and a newsey update about what we've been doing.

If you want a hard copy, I'm adding a little store with the cookbooks.  Otherwise, feel free to download to your hearts content.

2012 Cookbook

2012 Cookbook - Bread

Happy New Year!

The Worleys

The Worleys | permalink | Food