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If you’re ever visiting our house for dinner, you should give us plenty of advance notice if you’re not crazy about members of the allium family. We go through garlic and onions about as fast as a full service restaurant. So I was super excited when this week’s CSA share included some sort of member from the allium family.

When we picked it up, the folks at Fair Shares suggested it was either large onions or some sort of garlic. But when I started breaking them down for dinner tonight, they appeared to be baby leeks due to the thickness of their green leaves and the way the layers overlapped each other.

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As we frequently do with some of our unknown vegetables, we used them in a stir-fry inspired by Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge, which happens to be one of the best everyday cookbook in our kitchen. We adapted a recipe to go with a lean piece of pork loin that turned out to be simply fabulous!

Pork with Scallions
Adapted from Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge

Ingredients
1 lb lean pork loin, sliced thinly across the grain
2-3 cloves minced garlic
2 Tbsp rice wine
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp ground Szechuan peppercorns
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 Tbsp peanut oil
1 bunch small leeks (or 1/2 sweet onion and a bunch of scallions). Separate the small leeks into the white and green parts. Slice the white parts diagonally. Slice the green parts lengthwise, making them very thin

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1. In a bowl, combine pork, garlic, 1 Tbsp of the rice wine, and other ingredients through sesame oil.
2. In another small bowl, combine hoisin, rice vinegar, light soy sauce, and the remaining rice wine.
3. Heat wok, then add 1/2 Tbsp of the peanut oil. Add the white part of the leeks, stir-fry for 1 minute.
4. Add the pork and marinade, spreading it along the bottom of the wok. Let it sit for about 1 minute, then stir-fry it for another minute (pork will be brown, but not cooked through yet)
5. Add the green parts of the leeks and stir to combine. Add the sauce, then stir-fry the mixture for another minute or until the pork is cooked through.

This recipe beat any Mongolian Beef that DH and I have ever had! Yay for spring alliums!

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Beth

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I was excited that we were baking potato loaves this week for two reasons – short rising times, and potato bread is DH’s favorite. Unfortunately, the commercial potato loaves have too much non-bread ingredients, so DH is usually out of luck.

Since its just the two of us (and I’m trying to take it easy these days in order to avoid having to buy a whole new wardrobe when I go back to work next month), I made a few alterations to the recipe:
- halved the recipe to make one loaf
- kept skins on the potatoes (using red potatoes since that’s what we had)
- substituted 1 cup of whole wheat flour for the all purpose
- used the chives that were leftover from making deviled eggs for Easter, and stirred in 2 minced garlic cloves as well.

As directed, I trusted the recipe for the mixing of the dough…

Two minutes in to mixing…

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Six minutes in to mixing…looking pretty good….

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This was also the point when I added my chives and garlic.

Eleven minutes of mixing – I had a very soft and gooey dough!

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I haven’t really worked with a dough this sticky, and it made forming my torpedo shapes pretty impossible. I don’t know if my problem was using the red potatoes (less starchy than the Russell potatoes?) or if I should have just added a little more flour.

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So even though my loaf isn’t as rustic as it should be, it still tastes fantastic and the recipe is simple enough to whip up on a weekend afternoon without too much advance planning. I’ll be lucky if DH shares the loaf with me :)

Visit Dawn’s site at Dawn’s Simple Sweets for a beautiful example and the recipe.

Beth

It is pretty clear that brussel sprouts are the vegetable de jour, as I see them featured as sides in many restaurants around town and a new recipe seems to pop up in the blogosphere about once a week. And why not? They are incredibly healthy, are extremely versatile, are readily available during the winter when we’re all craving something green.

I love the sprouts. Pretty amazing since I only started cooking them two years ago. Now DH and I eat them almost every week. And even with my obsession, I still make us order them when we’re out for dinner.

Want to hear one of the best complements DH has given me in a long time? He’s eaten those fancy sprouts, looks at me, and says “These are good, but I prefer yours.” Sometimes it’s the simple things.

So here is how I prep/roast mine. From here, you can do all sorts of dressings and flavors, but most of the time I find simple is best.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Ingredients
1-2 lbs brussel sprouts
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Fresh black pepper

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and put a rack on the second rack from the top.

Rinse off the sprouts and shake off extra water. Then, chop off the ends of the sprouts and quarter them.

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Place your sprouts on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil (about 1 tablespoon) over the sprouts, then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Work the sprouts around on the cookie sheet until the oil is distributed.

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Place them in the oven and roast for 15-18 minutes, stopping halfway to stir them. Some of the stand-alone leaves should be getting dark at this point. I have had a few times when they have started to smoke and I’ve still loved them.

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Enjoy!

File this one under "only attempt while on maternity leave"

File this one under “only attempt while on maternity leave”

This weekend we hosted the extended family for DB’s baptism. In our family, this is an extremely special day, so after the church service we gathered at our place for a lunch so all the grandparents and aunts could love on DB.

As I was planning this lunch, all of our family members all offered to bring something, specifically, a cake. Unfortunately, that wasn’t going to fly with me as I refuse to waste my dessert calories on store-bought cake. Nor was I going to give up the opportunity to bake something for my little gal, even though she won’t ever know anything about it! Perhaps I’m just getting the baking bug out of my system now since I’m not going to want to tackle these kinds of baking projects once I get back into work mode (I’d rather spend my free time cuddling with DB!)

While I was flipping through Google and Pinterest for ideas, I realized that while I love love love the world of blogging, it’s gotten to a point where the novice like me is overwhelmed at the complexity of what all of these talented individuals can do! I got my “idea” from a professional baker, who used beautiful fondant to create these gorgeous flowers, crosses, and letters for her cupcakes. But, having never worked with fondant before, I decided to do sugar cookies, which I think turned out beautifully AND made for wonderful leftovers.

Since I don’t create my own baking recipes (yet!), here is the roundup of the recipes I used to create DB’s baptism cupcakes
Cookies and Icing – from Annie’s Eats
Vanilla Cupcakes and Vanilla Buttercream – from Cupcake Project
Chocolate Cupcakes – from Annie’s Eats
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All in all – I was thrilled with how everything tasted – and now, I just need to practice my piping skills! It’s a little too obvious that I got poor grades in art class growing up!

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Yes, I’m late in posting this one. It was not due to being late in making the recipe (in fact, I baked these cookies last Wednesday as I needed them prior to the onslaught of visitors who came for DB’s baptism this weekend. It’s just that I don’t have a whole lot to say about these.

They’re cookies. They’re good cookies, but I don’t think they are going to result in my heading towards the Baking with Julia book over the Toll House recipe. I grew up on the Toll House chocolate chip cookies, which were the only ones that my mother would allow me to help with growing up (and, eventually, the only ones that I was allowed to make on my own without special permission to make a mess in her kitchen). Our version followed the recipe with a few minor adjustments – an extra half a teaspoon of vanilla extract, no walnuts (to this day I don’t like nuts in my desserts), and for special occasions, making the cookies with half chocolate chips and half butterscotch chips.

Because the Baking With Julia recipe is fairly similar to the TH recipe, I was excited about making these as the book describes them as “the thinking person’s chocolate chip cookie.” And while I love coffee and chocolate, I found that the coffee flavoring here just made me confused. I modified the recipe to use chopped dried cherries in the cookies instead of the apricots – which I did like with the chocolate.

Visit Peggy’s site at Galettista for the full recipe and beautiful results!

Unfortunately, I think this is one instance where childhood memories trump a culinary pursuit.
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Forgive the photos – I didn’t realize how soft my butter was when I baked the cookies, so they spread out all over the place in the oven!

What was your opinion about this recipe? Am I not giving it enough credit?

Beth

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