Monday, August 19, 2013

Summer Farm Share, Week 9

Well, it’s the last week of the farm share blogs. And what a great week to end it on. We got tons of beautiful looking stuff (please see right).

Aren't those fairytale eggplant so pretty? And we finally got (two measly) tomatoes!!! And BS leaves again, oh shoot. But still, give me at least some tomatoes, and I am a happy camper.

Alas, my vacation to-do list is creeping up on me. So this blog posting will only have one dish in it. But it’s a perfect one to end on. It’s a great way to use lots of vegetables at their peak, all in one meal that is hearty and delicious. Readers, I give you, ratatouille. Or, more fully, Ratatouille over Goat Cheese Polenta. Make it for yourself, your friends, a dinner party full of people. Everyone will love this one.

Ratatouille over Goat Cheese Polenta
Used: Fairy tale eggplant, tomatoes (ok, no I just ate those raw right away), squash, peppers, basil

4-5 small fairytale eggplant (or other eggplant)
1 small zucchini
1 small yellow squash
1 small red bell pepper
1 small green bell pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped fine
¾ cup of ground tomatoes, canned (or if you are lucky, two small ripe tomatoes, pureed)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
Salt and Pepper

1 cup ground yellow cornmeal
½ a log of goat cheese
3 cups water
Salt and pepper

Start the polenta first, because it can take a while. Heat up the water in a saucepan with high sides (as high as you have). When it is boiling, slowly pour in the polenta (watch out, it sometimes bubbles at you), and turn the heat down to medium low. If it is still spattering, turn it to low. Stir the polenta frequently to keep it from sticking to the bottom. The polenta is done when you can stand a wooden spoon in the middle, and it doesn’t fall over (or, you can just taste it, but don’t burn your tongue!) When it is done, turn the heat off and add salt, pepper, and goat cheese. Stir until incorporated.

While the polenta is cooking, make the ratatouille. Please note, if you don’t have quite enough of one thing, no worries! You can adapt this to whatever you have. I didn’t have enough zucchini and it came out just fine; I added a bit more eggplant. Cut eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, and bell peppers into 1/2-inch chunks. In a large heavy skillet cook eggplant in 1 tablespoon oil over moderate heat, stirring (and adding a bit of salt and pepper), until tender and transfer to a bowl. In skillet cook zucchini, yellow squash, and onion with salt and pepper to taste in 1 tablespoon oil over moderate heat, stirring, until crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes, and transfer to bowl. Cook bell peppers in remaining teaspoon oil in same manner, and when they are done, add the garlic in, wait 10 seconds, and then add back in all the other vegetables. Then stir in tomato purée, garlic, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Make sure it tastes good now!

Put the polenta in bowls, and top it with the ratatouille. So delicious, so colorful, and so many vegetables in one meal. Noah didn’t miss the meat and neither will you. This is also a great dish for winter time --- while the veggies aren’t as fresh, it will be oh-so-satisfying to have a heaping bowl of this on a cold day. Let’s not think about those days right now though.

Thank you to everyone who was following my Summer Farm Share adventure this season. As I mentioned before, I have a Fall share too now, but I won’t be holding myself elaborately accountable of everything I make on this blog. I will be posting weekly though, about something new from the farm share that I think you all might like to know.

Until then, keep cooking! See you all in the Fall! 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Summer Farm Share, Week 8

Guys, I have to admit, I was kind of disappointed with this week's pickings from the farm share. I mean, it's August right? Doesn't that mean all our favorite summer veggies are here? Tomatoes, eggplant, corn, etc? Well not this week at Siena Farms unfortunately. I hope that they will be coming in abundance next week. But not to worry! I came up with some new ways to use the old (at this point) standbys although it was admittedly one of my tougher weeks . Unfortunately I cannot show you the picture of everything laid out because I had used Noah's phone to take the picture and he's away hiking without the Internet. So, you'll just have to imagine it.

New: Thyme. And brussels sprout plant leaves. Seriously.

Old: Green peppers, onions (4, yay!), potatoes (a yellow kind, called Superior), carrots (so so so many carrots; a gallon sized bag's worth), zucchinis, two green oakleaf lettuces, cucumbers, mesclun mix, and scallions.

Snack 1: Carrot Cake
Used: Carrots

Alright, so carrots. You are getting really old! But I realized that I had been storing these all wrong. If they are in a zip lock bag in the fridge, they can last forever, but if they aren't in a bag, well, they will shrivel up. So since I didn't realize that at the time, I wanted to use up as many carrots as possible, quickly. Therefore, I made carrot cake, of course. I made his for the the blog quite some time ago, but the recipe is from smitten kitchen, and it is really a great one. I suggest you try it even if you don't have an overabundance of carrots. I made this one in a bundt pan which was great for slicing off a piece for breakfasts---I mean snacks.

Meal 1: Onion Thyme and Bacon Flatbread with Salad
Used: All the onions, thyme, mesclun mix

Well, what did you expect? It was Flatbread Friday! But I will say that I've changed my technique on flatbreads that have a lot of cheese on them -- I instead cook one side on the grill, and take it off the grill, leaving the cooked side up. Then I add the toppings onto the cooked side, and return it to the grill, raw side down, and cover it to melt the cheese while the other side cooks. I realized that if I don't do this and instead cook both sides first, the cheese won't melt before the bottom gets too burnt. So if you are choosing to put a lot of cheese on top, go with this modified technique.

I didn't want to do much with the onions besides sautee them a little because they were just so so delicious on their own. The pizza was great with just the onions on it, but would work by adding mushrooms, sausage, or any other number of things as well.

Meal 2: Herbed Summer Squash and Potato Torte and a Salad
Used: Potatoes, Summer Squashes, Thyme, Scallions, one head of oakleaf and mesclun mix

As I headed into the weekend, I wanted to make something special and new with the "old" ingredients, and so I went to and typed in summer squash and potatoes -- sorting through the search results I found this torte, which not only looked delicious, but for which I had every single ingredient already on hand. Score! (this never happens.) I was a little doubtful that this would actually come out like a torte since it really only had some grated parmesean cheese to bring it all together. But, the reviews seemed positive so I went for it. And... perhaps I should have heeded my gut feeling... because this is what happened when I tried to put the torte slice on the plate:

Dang it! It was holding together for a second, but then just fell right apart on the spatula, and all over the floor! I have a few ideas on how to fix this for next time, because it actually tasted good and would be worth making if it actually would stay together. So, here is the recipe, with my notes:

Herbed Summer Squash and Potato Torte


1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
(use a food processor to make it fast)
12 ounces yellow squash, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
6 teaspoons olive oil


Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter two 8-inch-diameter cake pans. Set aside 1/4 cup sliced green onions. Toss remaining green onions, cheese, flour, thyme, salt and pepper in medium bowl to blend.

Layer 1/6 of potatoes in concentric circles in bottom of 1 prepared pan, overlapping slightly. Layer 1/4 of squash in concentric circles atop potatoes. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with 1/6 of cheese mixture. Repeat with 1/6 of potatoes, then 1/4 of squash and 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with 1/6 of cheese mixture. Top with 1/6 of potatoes. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with 1/6 of cheese mixture and press gently to flatten (really press -- maybe this will help). Repeat procedure with second cake pan and remaining potatoes, squash, oil, and cheese mixture.

Cover pans with foil. Bake until potatoes are almost tender, about 40 minutes. Remove foil; bake uncovered until tortes begin to brown and potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes longer. 
Cut each torte into wedges. Sprinkle wedges with 1/4 cup green onions (do this -- the garnish actually adds a great flavor); serve.

So the recipe seemed straightforward, if time consuming. I made the torte as instructed (or so I thought), and layered the squash and potatoes, like so (right). I think this may have been  part of the problem. I would go around the outside, and then stuff some in the middle. But that is not really what concentric circles are. I should have started in the middle making a small circle, and overlapping bigger circles until I got to the edge. And next time I will do this. There's a picture of it taken out of the oven -- looks deceivingly fine, right? Oh well. At least it was still tasty!

Meal 4: Cucumber Mint and Avocado Soup (course 1) and Stuffed Peppers (course 2)
Used: Cucumbers, mint, peppers, two brussels sprout leaves, some carrots

I am always on the lookout for new recipes, and I found a really nice one in the New York Times for cucumber soup. Unfortunately, every time I make cucumber soup it doesn't taste much like cucumbers and instead tastes like watery yogurt. This time was no different, EXCEPT one of the commenters on the recipe said that he added half an avocado to his soup (the author suggests cutting them up and serving on toast with the soup) -- and bam! Then it worked. It was a nice and refreshing first course. I didn't have any corn or dill for the garnish, so I just  tried to get fancy with the olive oil garnish, as you'll see in the photograph.

Cucumber Soup

1 pound cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise and seeded

2 cups buttermilk (or use 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt plus 1/4 cup water)

1 large garlic clove, peeled and smashed

2 anchovy fillets (optional)
(I used anchovy paste -- this soup definitely needs it I think)

2 small whole scallions, trimmed

1/2 avocado

1/2 jalapeño, seeded, deveined and chopped (did not use, because I am a spice wimp)

1/2 cup packed mixed fresh herbs (like mint, parsley, dill, basil)

1/2 teaspoon sherry or white wine vinegar, more to taste

3/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt, plus more to taste

Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving

Toasted pine nuts, for serving

In the bowl of a blender or food processor, combine cucumber, buttermilk, garlic, anchovy, scallions, jalapeño, fresh herbs, sherry vinegar and salt (and half an avocado). Blend until smooth and adjust seasoning as needed. Distribute soup between 4 bowls and garnish with pine nuts and a drizzle of olive oil. 

And there you have it. Now why am I making two courses for a weeknight dinner, you might ask. Well, because I was making stuffed peppers for a main course, and Noah -- really doesn't like peppers. So I thought I could appease him by making something else as well, to take the focus off the peppers. But it turns out, he actually liked the peppers too, score!

These were kind of a mishmash because I had a base recipe and then tried to stuff as many veggies in there as possible to get rid of them. And from looking through recipes I learned that you can stuff peppers with pretty much anything!

First, I sliced the green peppers in half and scraped out the seeds and insides. Let me tell you something that I learned about green peppers --- they are actually unripe red/yellow/orange peppers! I hope none of you think I'm an idiot, but I had no idea. I thought green were their own variety. Well they aren't. That's why I've only gotten green so far, because they are "unripe."

Going in the oven
Then I cooked up three chicken sausages (squeezed the meat out of the casing into a pan with a tiny bit of olive oil on medium heat), and shredded up 5 carrots and 2 brussels sprout plant leaves and one small onion in the food processor (see left). From now on I will call these BS leaves. I mean, what am I supposed to do with those leaves? They said "use like kale" but they don't really taste like kale. And there were a lot of them! They could easily overpower a dish. So -- shredded up and hidden and things they went.
Anyway, let's continue. In a separate bowl, I added the shredded veggies, cooked sausage, a little bit (1/4 cup) of tomato sauce (just the plain stuff you buy in a can with the other tomatoes), salt, pepper, 1 egg, parsley, thyme, 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs, and a 1/4 cup of mozzerella cheese. I mixed all that stuff up together, and stuffed it into the pepper halfs (overflowing). I drizzled a little more tomato sauce into the bottom of a glass baking dish so it just covered it, and then placed the peppers on top after sprinkling a few more breadcrumbs on the top. I baked them for about 45 minutes at 350 (I waited until the pepper skins looked a little shriveled and cooked). Serve with quinoa, rice, cucumber soup (ok, not together) or whatever you like!

Meal 5: Chicken Fried Rice
Used: Carrots, brussels sprout leaves (still not all of them)

Fried rice is one of my go-to meals. It is relatively easy to make, and hearty in the way that it can fill you up with relatively few ingredients. And I know you can hide things (looking at you BS leaves) in there.

The first thing about fried rice is to, surprise, have rice on hand. This is best if the rice is leftover from last night, but somehow that timing never works out for me. It works with fresh rice too. So when you get home, just put the rice on before you do anything else so it has plenty of time and will be cooked by the time you prepare everything else.  So I chopped up the BS leaves very tiny, and also diced up some carrots and onions. I take a very very large skillet (almost a wok but really not at all because woks are very fancy) and put 2 TBSP of canola oil in there on medium heat. Once it is hot, I quickly add 1 minced garlic clove and a little bit of fresh ginger, also grated or chopped tiny. Then after literally 30 seconds, I add the diced carrots and onions, and let them cook for a few minutes until then are tender (onions will be translucent). Then I added one chopped up chicken breast (just cut it into bite sized pieces), and a few shakes of soy sauce. Then, once the chicken was cooked through (5-7 minutes) I added the chopped BS leaves and let them cook for a minute. Then added a cup of frozen peas and a cooked egg (cooked it up separately by literally spraying the pan with cooking spray, putting it over the heat of the burner, and adding a stirred up egg). Once the peas are thawed, add the cooked rice right on top (see above). Then you are going to add a lot of soy sauce. And a very lot if you have a lot of rice. You want the rice to turn light brown. Stir everything around so it all gets coated with the soy sauce and incorporated, then taste a bit of the rice to see if it has enough flavor. If it does not, add more soy sauce. When it looks and tastes good to you, take it off the heat and serve! You can definitely change up the vegetables added (brocolli, sliced sugar snap peas, whatever you want, it's your dish -- I guarantee you no one would ever think of BS leaves as a first choice, but it worked).
So, that's a wrap! Let's review the rules before we're through. 1. Try everything? Yessiree. 2. Use everything? No way. I still have at least a dozen carrots and most of the BS leaves. Fortunately those carrots keep for a while, and the BS leaves will keep until I figure out what to do with them. I hope.

Until next week, which is, my final week of Farm Share blogs! Hey, a girl has got to go on vacation once in a while, right? But don't worry. The postings will keep on coming. They will just be a little less intensely focused on using up and eating veggies and more on, well, me messing up in the kitchen, and you laughing at me but also learning something.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Summer Farm Share, Week 7

So it's week 7! I have been doing a lot of reflecting this week on how you get "good" at something. Tuesday was my one-year "job-iversary" as Noah likes to call it, and I thought a lot on that day about how different my time at work is now than it was when I started. How comfortable I felt with the work assigned to me, how I actually knew what I was doing, how I felt like I really contributed something to the team, and how I was even able to help a lost patient find their way to their destination. All of these abilities were non-existent a year before on that day. And I was thinking about how cooking is the same way. You just have to practice, practice, practice, make mistakes, and keep learning as much as you can. I used to be a terrible cook. I made Rice Krispie treats that would break your teeth. My family members would cringe if someone informed them that I made a component of the meal. Well no more! While I still have a lot more to learn, I am comfortable in the kitchen and know my way around a recipe (my Rice Krispie treats are often requested now). I just want you to know that you can feel like that too, with just some time and practice. And even if you already know how to do everything on this blog, keep learning elsewhere (but don't stop reading!).

This is all in preparation to say that this week, we are going to tackle some new and semi-difficult things to make. But first, let's see what I got this week in the farm share box:

A few new things: Eggplant! Fresh onions (these things were THE BEST), a green pepper, celery (! i have never seen this ever at a farmer's market in the northeast), and two unripe green tomatoes (seriously?)

And some oldies but goodies: summer squash, potatoes, green oakleaf lettuce, mint, savory, cucumbers, rainbow swiss chard and ... carrots. I am getting a little sick of carrots.

Beet tzatziki -- so pink!
Before we start on this week, I still had some beets to use up from last week. There is this great cafe near my house (incidentally they own the CSA farm and that is where I pick up my veggies every week), and they have something called a mezze bar. It has hummus and muhummara and other kids of dips and things that you can choose from and they'll put them on a platter for you to eat with crackers or pita. One of those mezze dips that I love in particular is the beet tzatziki. Man is that stuff good. But then I thought, why am I paying three dollars for a little scoop of that when I could make it myself? NO reason, so I made it up! So here's what I did. I roasted all the beets (about as much as two large beets or three medium ones), same as always. Then I peeled them and threw them in the food processor, and zipped them up into tiny pieces. Then I mixed them with 1/2 cup of plain greek yogurt, a handful of chopped dill, and salt and pepper. Stirred that around until it was all mixed together and done! The dip was deeeelicious and I have been eating it all week, and admiring its color as well. *Hint: Do not wear white to work if you are bringing this as your mid-day snack.*

Meal 1: Steak, onion, and pepper kebabs with brown rice plus a green oakleaf and cucumber salad with mint cucumber dressing
Used: Cucumbers, oakleaf, mint, onions, summer savory, pepper (booyah!)

We had an awesome dinner guest on the first day -- my lovely sister in law. Said SIL cannot eat gluten. Well I bet you didn't even think about whether or not gluten is in the meal stated above. But there isn't. So put it in your GF arsenal. We have already made kebabs during this summer, week 3, and these are the same deal, but I used a little summer savory in the marinade. But before we move on from the kebabs I just want to say these onions were amazing. Literally the most delicious onions and one of the most delicious vegetables I have ever put in my mouth. You see how they have the long green stems in the picture up above? These are fresh onions. The onions we get at the store with the thin papery skin on them? Those are cured onions (learn something every day!). These fresh ones are so different and so worth picking up if you see them. Especially on the grill they were so sweet and well, just go try them.

Now for the salad dressing. This was a first for me, and not really much of a success I must admit. I forgot one thing which made a big difference -- cucumbers have a really high water content. Therefore, when I put everything to make the dressing in the blender, I added some water, because I knew my blender would not tolerate only solid things in there. However, as soon as it sucked up those cukes the water amount tripled and the dressing was really watery. Also, this didn't make a great match with the oakleaf lettuce as it was too bitter. But I think it would have been good on just sliced cukes, or as a marinade, or on a corn salad.

Cucumber Mint Dressing

1 cup plain greek yogurt
3 small cucumbers, chopped into big chunks
2 handfulls of mint leaves
1 handful of dill
A dash of Worcestershire sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste

Put all of this in the blender (cukes first) and zip it up. You might have a crappy blender that doesn't want to zip this up --- shake it around while it's running (carefully of course) and that should help it along. Here it is. Too thin, but still a pretty shade of green.

Meal 2: Sausages with Fried Green Tomatoes and Stuffed Summer Squash
Used: Summer squash, green tomatoes, swiss chard

What else am I going to make with green tomatoes, right? I mean, sure you can pickle them. But I don't have the proper stuff and let's be honest, no one would eat them but me. So fried green tomatoes it was. Obviously, these are not heart healthy, but they were actually pretty good. And better for you than frying oreos, right?

Fried Green Tomatoes

2 green tomatoes, sliced to 1/4 in thickness
1 cup of cornmeal
1/2 cup of breadcrumbs (not panko)
1 cup flour
1 tsp of smoked paprika
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg
Enough canola oil to cover a 1/2 an inch up the side of your deep skillet (or peanut oil if you're hardcore)

First, sprinkle salt on the tomatoes and let them rest for 10 minutes or so. In the meantime, mix the egg with your buttermilk in a small bowl,  your flour with the paprika and a pinch of salt in another small bowl, and your cornmeal and your breadcrumbs in another small bowl. Line up your bowls so that you have the flour mixture, then the egg mixture, then the cornmeal.

Now you are ready to fry! Add the canola oil to the deep frying pan (1/2 up the side like I said), and heat it up on medium high. To test if it is hot enough, drop in a tiny bit of  cornmeal and see if bubbles form around it immediately, or if it just sinks to the bottom and is sad. Wait until it bubbles with a drop of cornmeal, then it's ready (or if you have a thermometer (not me) the oil should be at 350). Quickly dunk each tomato slice in the flour, then the egg, then the cornmeal bowls, and then put it in the pan. Put as many in as will fit without overlapping. Then just watch for them to turn brown underneath (2 minutes should be pretty good), and then flip to the other side and cook another two minutes (or until bottom side is brown). Then, take them out and lay them on paper towels to absorb excess oil. Sprinkle a little salt on them while they are still wet from the pan.

Don't those unripe tomatoes look tasty now?
Let me say that these were actually good, to my surprise, and Noah-the-tomato-hater actually ate them because "they didn't taste like tomatoes at all." That was probably because of the remoulade sauce I made. Dips make everything better. This is the ultimate pantry sauce meaning, a bunch of crap that is sitting around in your cabinets and or fridge somehow makes something edible. This is what the sauce has: 1 small squirt of mustard, 3 TBSPs of light mayo, a splash of pickle juice, 6 shakes of paprika, and two dashes of tabasco sauce. Even though this sounds totally gross, it is actually based of a recipe for remoulade, so no, I am not playing a trick on you. It works!

I also made stuffed squash with the same exact stuffing I used for the chicken last week, except without the egg, mostly because I forgot to add it. They were still good. Just scoop out the seeds with a spoon (surprisingly easier than it looks), and put in the stuffing. Top with breadcrumbs and roast at 425 for 20 minutes on a cookie sheet, or until they begin to brown on top and on the sides.

Of course, had to get some meat in for Noah... and if you need to, just sautee up a chicken sausage, slice, and add to the plate.

Meal 3: Moussaka
Items used: Eggplant

Ah moussaka. Moussaka (pronounced moo-sah-KAH, not moo-SAH-kah as was once rudely pointed out to me) is one of my absolute favorite dishes of all time. For those of you that don't know, mousakka is a greek/middle eastern dish that is like lasagna, only better (don't tell my Italian fam). It uses eggplant as the layers, along with meat, tomatoes, onions, and cinnamon, which is KEY, all topped with a delicious (albeit scary at first) bechamel sauce.

Turns out, my eggplant was too tiny for a whole moussaka, but if I have an excuse to make moussaka, I am going to make it, so I had to supplement by buying another one at the grocery store. Oh well. Will I regret doing this once eggplant season is fully upon us? Probably.

Anyway, I get my recipe from a great middle eastern cookbook called the New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden. Here is her recipe, with my notes. We will talk more about the bechamel in a minute.


3 eggplants (about 1 1/2 pounds) peeled and sliced thinly (she doesn't peel. I think it's better if they're peeled).
Brush the eggplant slices generously with olive oil (both sides) and broil or grill them, turning them over once, until lightly browned. (My broiler takes about 4 minutes each but you have to watch them! They can burn up in a second. I rotate the pan around to prevent some of them from browning too fast. See left for a sample of how they should look.) Set aside.

For the meat and tomatoes:
2 onions, thinly sliced or chopped
3 T vegetable oil (canola)
1 1/2 lbs ground lamb or beef (I am sure lamb would be tasty, but I always use ground turkey and it still tastes good)
salt and pepper
2 t cinnamon (she says optional; it's not)
5 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped (Since tomatoes out of season are gross, I use one large can of peeled whole tomatoes, and then chop them up myself. You could used canned diced tomatoes too)
2 t sugar
1/2 t chili-pepper flakes
3 T chopped flat-leaf parsley (Sometimes I don't include this because I don't have it. It still works)

Fry the onions in the oil in a large skillet or saucepan until golden (medium heat with a little canola or olive oil). Add the ground meat and stir, crushing it with a fork and turning it over, until it changes color. Add salt, pepper, cinnamon if using, tomatoes, sugar, and chili flakes if you like. Stir well, and cook until the liquid has almost disappeared, then mix in the parsley.

For the white sauce topping:
4 T butter
4 T flour
2 1/2 c hot milk (skim always works for me, but the fatter the better obviously. i heat it in a pyrex measuring cup in the microwave for 1.5 minutes)
salt and pepper
pinch of grated nutmeg
2 eggs
1/2 c grated cheddar

Prepare a white sauce: (So this is hard at first, but definitely doable. This is the first successful white sauce (bechamel) sauce that I have ever made. Her directions are very good, but I will note pieces to pay attention to to help you along.) Melt the butter in a pan (med-low heat). Add the flour and stir (she must mean whisk. Whisk it) over low heat for a few minutes, until well blended (see right). Add the hot milk a little at a time, stirring vigorously each time, until it boils, taking care not to allow lumps to form (meaning you are whisking it so they don't form). Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens. Add salt and pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Beat the eggs lightly in a separate bowl, then beat in a little of the white sauce (a quarter cup or so), then pour back into the pan, beating vigorously (this is called tempering. you are doing this so your eggs get used to the heat from the small bit of sauce and don't scramble when you put them into the whole pot). Do not allow the sauce to boil again. Add the cheese and mix well until melted. 

If you follow these directions exactly I promise that it will work out, and it will thicken up, and you will be amazed. If it doesn't, write me, and we'll figure out what went wrong. This is a great sauce to know how to make because it is a base for many other delicious things (read: mac and cheese). You can do it!

Then you are ready for assembly. Line the bottom of a large baking dish with half of the eggplant slices. Spread the meat on top, and cover with the remaining eggplant slices (I then cover with more of the meat, but you can put it all in the middle if you want). Pour the white sauce all over (you might have extra. You can freeze it!).

And then you'll have delicious moussaka. Did I mention this was a weekend project? Yeah, don't try to make this when you get home. Dinner will be at 10pm.

Bake, uncovered, in a preheated 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 45 minutes (40 minutes for me), until golden.

Meal 4: Grilled BBQ Chicken with grilled carrots, potato salad and corn
Items used: Potatoes, celery, carrots

So, I've already blogged about almost everything on this dinner plate before, except grilled chicken. I realize it is a little late in the summer to be talking about how to properly grill a boneless chicken breast, but better late than never. There are lots of misconceptions about grilling chicken, and I want to set some things straight.

1. You do not put your raw chicken onto the grill with the sauce already on it.
2. You do not put chicken on grates that have not been prepped and just pray that it doesn't stick and that it turns out to have beautiful grill marks.
3. That is all. If you follow the directions below your grilled chicken will always be delicious and it will not have burnt or "blackened" sections of carcinogens that you shouldn't be eating anyway, nevermind that those parts taste terrible.

So first. Take your boneless skinless chicken breasts, and season them with salt and pepper. Let them come to room temperature (or close) while you do other things to prepare for dinner. They don't take long to cook.

When you are ready, turn on your grill. Once that grill is heated up, take a paper towel, drizzle some olive oil (or whatever oil) on it and bring that out to the grill along with some tongs. Grasp the towel with the tongs (see below), and brush it over the grates, so that they are oiled. This will prevent the chicken (and all grilled food) from sticking to the grates, and make lovely grill marks. Then, slap the chicken down on the grates (slightly diagonal to the grates to get the best marks). Yes, you are putting the chicken on the grill with nothing more than salt and pepper on it. For now.

Then, after a few minutes (4-5) check the chicken to see if it has grill marks on it. If it looks like the photo below (left side), flip it over. Then, while the other side cooks, add the sauce to the cooked side only. Once the other side is finished cooking, flip the sauce side to the grill, and sauce the remaining side. Repeat the saucing of each side and then grilling each side for 1 minute, so the sauce congeals a bit onto the chicken. Serve with remaining sauce.

You will have beautiful looking chicken, that is tasty and miraculously not burnt to a crisp! The secret is that BBQ sauces have a really high sugar content. If you leave said sugar in the middle of a fire for as long as it takes to make chicken not raw anymore, that sugar will burn, because sugar has a high propensity for burning. I don't know what terrible advertising executive thought up the idea of "marinating" your chicken in BBQ sauce and slapping it on the grill, but he/she has not done anyone any favors. Adding it at the end allows it to caramelize and not burn, because it only spends a few minutes over the fire. Doesn't that look appetizing?

So there we have it. Another week of veggies in my belly, and another week of recipes that will hopefully help you get some into yours.  Let's check the rules before we're done.

Did I try everything? Yes, and it all was quite tasty. Did I use everything? Yes. But man am I sick of carrots.  Have a good week everyone!