Monday, June 20, 2011

The Perfect Saturday

The urban chef and I had the most perfect Saturday—well at least my definition of a perfect Saturday.  I love brunch, nothing says happiness and weekend fun like eggs cooked by other people while drinking a Bloody Mary’s.  Jon tends to disagree—brunch for him is like a postpartum flashback on his days of getting up at 5am to be at work by 7am so that he could cook eggs for others for 10 hours.  But, too bad, I love it!  Now that Jon works evenings all weekend, we only have the AM hours to spend together.  This does cause some discord, I want to get up at 10am and spend three hours exploring, going to brunch, taking a walk though the park, while Jon wants to lie in bed and get some more sleep (and rightly so, he went to bed at 3 or 4 am).  But some weekends, I just want to get out—I mean what’s the point of having a sexy boyfriend if he won’t take me to brunch??? (right ladies!)  So, being the great guy that he is, he gave me my perfect Saturday.

The urban chef and I signed up for a CSA summer share this year.  CSA is community supported agriculture, basically, a local farmer grows various things and a group of people pay him a set amount of money, and in exchange, we get the bounty of his harvest for 16 weeks—the catch is, you get what you get, no exchanges.  It works for both parties because the farmer receives guaranteed revenue for the season and we get access to the freshest local produce.  Every week when you go to pick up your share, it is a variable “surprise” conglomerate of veggies—whatever is in season.  I convinced the urban chef to do this, but we both had different motives, chef: to challenge himself to make things with new and different ingredients and me: well, I like the fresh fruit and flowers, plus, leafy greens are my favorite and you are always guaranteed to get a ton!  This week was our first CSA pickup.  We arrive at 11am (after a long discussion in our Zipcar regarding the guy from The Hills, Spencer? I think, basically, we were trying to decide if he still had money, he doesn’t, yay!) Basic rundown of the CSA, everyone is really nice and friendly, but it’s a touch “granola”, but if you can handle it, it’s always so much fun and the fruit and veggies taste better than anything you will ever get at the store.  A quick grab and go…and off to brunch!

I decided I wanted to brunch at The Farm on Adderley.  It is a quaint farm to table restaurant in Ditmas Park (South Slope) Brooklyn—near our CSA pickup.  I had never been before, but had read it was fantastic—and, it was!  The décor was inviting, but not pretentious, and the space was large, yet they managed to keep it very intimate feeling.  The restaurant also had a large patio which sat probably about 50 people.  Our waiter, who incidentally looked like Richard Blais from Top Chef Season 8, was very attentive.  We ordered Bloody Mary’s—very spicy (lots of horseradish) and peppery.  I ordered a farmers breakfast, which came with scrambled eggs over a bed of chard and home fries.  Jon ordered scrambled eggs with housemaid sausage.  The eggs were light and fluffy, the home fries were fresh and roasted perfectly (aka lots of garlic and salt), and Jon’s sausage was spicy and savory.  Also, the restaurant has a no substitutions policy at brunch, earning it 2-thumbs up from our urban chef.  The price was also very reasonable.  I highly recommend The Farm on Adderly, and if you go, don’t forget to ask for the waiter who looks like Richard Blais!  Jon can never believe how happy I get when he takes me to brunch, and honestly, I wish I could explain it, I have no idea, but I had the best time!

But my Saturday with the urban chef was coming to a close, he had to go to work.  But, to complete my perfect Saturday, we took a quick detour by Tasty-Delight!  For the non-New Yorkers, tasty delight is a low fat frozen yogurt store, and it is so so so good, you would never know, and today’s flavor was Nutella—delicious! 

After I dropped our urban chef at Thistle Hill Tavern I headed home and unpacked our CSA bounty.
  • 1 bunch chard
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe
  • 1 bunch turnip greens
  • 1 bunch lettuce
  • 1 bunch turnips
  • 1 bunch radishes
  • 2 yellow squash
  • 1 crate blueberries
  • 1 crate strawberries
  • 3 stalks of rhubarb
  • 1 bunch of sunflowers with snapdragons
  • 6 farm fresh eggs

Those who read my blog regular know that the first thing I did was make a strawberry rhubarb pie (Check out previous entries for the recipe). 

But, what I decided to do what make Quinoa Chard Cakes.  These were based on a recipe from the New York Times, but I made it my own. Just a note, I made it with chard but it really could be done with any leafy green.  Also, for those who don’t know about quinoa (check out this section, you won’t believe how great it is for you, and for those who are dieting… your new bff)

Quinoa Chard Cakes
  • 1 1/2 pounds chard, (rainbow is best, but Swiss is fine) washed and stemmed (do not discard the stems)
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 plump garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups shitake mushrooms
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Red Pepper flakes
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 jalapeno peppers diced (optional)

For serving: Spicy Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 garlic clove, puréed with a generous pinch of salt
  • 1T preserved lemon (regular lemon juice is also fine)
  • 1 t of hot sauce (optional)

  1. Cook quinoa according to directions on package.
  2. Fill a bowl with ice water. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt generously and add the chard leaves. Blanch for two to three minutes until tender, then transfer to the ice water. Drain, squeeze out excess water.  Add the chard stems to the water (bring back to a boil before adding stems), and cook four to five minutes until tender. Transfer to the ice water, then drain.
  3. After chard and stems are dry, cut chard leaves into medium pieces and cut the stems in 1/4-inch dice. Measure out 1 cup of the stems, and discard the rest.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium high heat in large skillet. Add the mushrooms are sauté, 2min, then add the garlic. When it is fragrant, in 30 seconds to a minute, stir in the chard leaves and stems and the cumin. Stir together for about a minute, and season to taste with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Transfer to a large bowl, and add the quinoa, Parmesan, jalapenos and egg. Stir together.
  5. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the canola oil together over medium-high heat in a large, heavy skillet. Moisten your hands, and shape the quinoa and chard mixture into mini slider size patties (or you can do four large patties, I find the medium size ones are easier to deal with).  The patties will be most and look like they are not going to stay together, press into a ball and do not over handle.  Make them thick—roll together like making a large meatball. 
  6. Carefully place the patties in the hot oil, taking care not to crowd them in the pan. Press down on the tops of the patties with the bottom of your spatula to prevent them from falling apart; if they are thick enough, they should stay together. I used a fish spatula, would press down, then come up around the sides and pull them back gently back toward the center.  It worked great.  Cook for four to five minutes on each side until nicely browned. Remove from the heat and serve with yogurt.

These were so delicious and savory.  I find it so satisfying when I find a recipe that is both filling, tasty, and decadent without fill me out! 

Sunday night I decided to take on the yellow squash.  In honor of father’s day, I made a recipe from my childhood, one my dad used to make for me.  I love you dad, thank you for always being there for me and for being the first person who taught me to love food.

Soule Summer Squash
2 medium Summer squash – yellow, green, zucchini, crookneck…
1 shallot (diced)
1 T olive oil
½ cup of plum tomatoes (optional)
5 mushrooms (optional)
1 t dill or thyme
¼ chicken stock
1/3 cup of parmesan cheese

  1. Shred squash with a grater or food processor.  Salt and place in a colander to drain.  Let sit for 30 minutes.  Rinse squash and then press out all water (squash must be dry).  
  2. Heat 1 T of olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat.  Saute shallot and add sliced mushrooms.  Turn heat to medium, add squash, and chicken stock and cover (2 min).  Add tomatoes if using.  Turn off heat and stir in parmesan cheese.  (If you want the squash to be really creamy you can use American cheese instead of parmesan).

A weekend of fabulous meals, with great company (a big thank you to the Urban chef, I love you) that are also green and economically friendly… does it really get anymore delicious than that?


  1. Great post! Thanks for the recipes. We joined a CSA this year too, and I LOVE it. So glad to have the above recipe, as I have a fridge drawer full of greens to use up and a bag of quinoa in my pantry- I'm excited to try the cakes!

  2. Aw man, I want to try your strawberry rhubarb pie