Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hardening Off

'Hardening off' sounds callous, but it's actually not. In short, it's what one should do to avoid seedling death.

Here in western Washington our warm weather growing season is relatively short, so indoor seed starting helps us get a head start on the weather. The problem with starting seeds indoors or in a greenhouse, however, is that the plants are kinda wimpy. Transferring a seedling that has only known warm, non-windy, mild UV conditions to the great outdoors will shock it to say the least. To avoid serious transplant shock, and possibility of mortality, seedlings need to be 'hardened off'. Hardening off is a process of getting seedlings used to outdoor growing conditions by transferring them outdoors during the day, and then bringing them back in at night. One should do this for about a week before transplanting seedlings into outdoor garden beds.

If you are buying seedlings from a nursery, they should already be hardened off, so don't worry about this. For more detailed information about hardening off, visit this WSU informational page http://gardening.wsu.edu/library/vege003/vege003.htm

I finally got these cool weather seedlings transplanted last weekend. Now grow little babies grow!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Recipe 12: salad as a meal challenge

As I wrap up the Salad as a Meal challenge, I enjoyed bacon and eggs for dinner. Does it get any better? Well, maybe if you call it "Fresee aux lardons" as Patricia Wells does. Sounds fancy huh?

Regardless of what you call it, this classic french dish, comprised of a green salad topped with poached eggs and lardons, is beyond delicious. Classically this dish uses frisee, or curly endive, rather than a spring baby greens mix, as I did. Lardons is the french word for bacon pieces.
I topped off the salad with fresh chives from the garden and a side of socca, a chickpea flour pancake. Ms. Wells suggests a side of thin bread crisps, which she provides the recipe for. I would have made the bread crisp recipe had I not completely fallen in love with the socca, which I tried earlier in this challenge, and felt a desperate need to make it again.

Frisee Aux Lardons

If you would like a chance to win a free copy of Patricia Wells' new book, Salad as a Meal, comment on this post

Monday, April 11, 2011

Recipe 11: Salad as a Meal challenge

The asparagus is lovely right now, which is why this recipe for asian chicken salad with asparagus and sesame, from Patricia Wells' new book, Salad as a Meal, really grabbed my attention. This meal was simple: asian greens, blanched asparagus, and shredded chicken, all tossed in a sesame vinaigrette. Simple, easy, light, and fast. I'll be making this unitl the weather warms and asparagus vanishes from the market. 

Asian Chicken Salad with Asparagus and Sesame

Comment on this post for a chance to win a copy of Salad as a Meal.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Recipe 10: salad as a meal challenge

Even though the katsura are blooming and the days are longer, the vegetables of late spring and early summer have yet to hit the markets. Here in Seattle winter greens and root vegetables are still in abundance which makes this salad of beet root, watercress, and endive perfect for right now. This is salad is peppery from the cress, crunchy from the endive, and sweet from the beets. Perfect for early April.

 Watercress, endive, and beet salad

Comment on this post for a chance to win a copy of Patricia Wells' new book, Salad as a Meal, which is where this salad recipe came from.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Recipe 9: salad as a meal challenge

I am stoked that this onion and bacon tart, Flammekuchen, is included in the salad as a meal challenge. The definition of salad is not clear to me, but hey, if it includes Flammekuchen, I like it.
I also like saying the word 'Flammekuchen'. 

 Alsatian Onion and Bacon Tart: Flammekuchen

I made this tart last weekend, and enjoyed it with arguably too much wine, and unarguably, fabulous friends. After one bite my buddy Brock said "Wait, this bacon is legit". May I ask: when is bacon not legit?
Despite being a 'pizza' of sorts, and including bacon, this recipe was actually very light. The dough was made with whole wheat flour, the onions were steamed (a new technique for me), and the sauce was essentially non-fat greek yogurt with added flavorings. I served this flammekuchen along with a beet root salad. Given the fact that that they were sitting on the cutting board looking delicious, I adapted Patricia Wells' recipe to use the beet greens on the tart.

In short: Flammekuch is delicious. Can't wait to make this again.

**Oh yeah, as part of this salad challenge, the publisher, Morrow, will give a free copy of the book, Salad as a Meal, to "two lucky readers" of this blog. Post a comment on any of the Salad Challenge posts if you would like to be included in the drawing, or tweet me at @katekurtz and say something about the #saladasameal challenge, or say "hey, include me in the drawing", or something like that.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Recipe 8: salad as a meal challenge

Chickpea flour crepes: Socca

When first flipping through Salad as a Meal, this recipe immediately piqued my interest. Don't ask me what this has to do with salad, but the idea of a chickpea pancake sounded delicious. The recipe is just chickpea flour, sea salt, water, and olive oil, cooked in a 450 degree oven. The batter is very thin, like crepe batter, or heavy cream.  

This recipe is totally vegan and gluten free, so, you know... that's good for a lot of people out there. Besides being accommodating to people with dietary restrictions, it certainly went well with a simple green salad since it was both hearty and filling. I will definitely make this again, as I pretty much LOVED it. 

I think I was initially drawn to the recipe because it reminded me of this NY Times Minimalist video from a couple years ago. To be clear, Patricia Wells recipe is cooked in an oven, and is different from its Spanish counterpart demonstrated by Mark Bittman in the video below. Both recipes, however, are chickpea flour crepes.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Recipe 7: salad as a meal challenge

Chef's Salad: Ham, Cheese, and Tender Greens
Lemon and olive oil dressing.

I am so happy it is the weekend. This last week was a bit overwhelming in terms of after work activities. It seemed like there was an event or meeting almost every night. So it goes when you're having fun.

On Tuesday night I had about a half hour between getting home from work and running out the door to an Alleycat Acres meeting. In an effort to be both healthy and quick, I whipped up this chef's salad recipe from Patricia Wells' new book Salad as a Meal. I brought my dinner to the meeting with me, which I later regretted because it made everyone else drooly and jealous.

I used some of the seasons first greens, which I got at the Ballard farmer's market last Sunday. I added procuitto, and cantal cheese. Ms. Wells' recommends using a comte cheese, which I imagine would have been better, but I used what I had on hand. I also added a hard cooked egg because I have a bit of an egg obsession going on right now. I don't know why, but I find myself eating a lot of eggs these days. I'm going with it.