Season’s Grillings

Sitting at my computer with the windows open, a cool breeze occasionally lifting the scent of the charcoal grill from my top, I am a happy girl. My tailbone is still painful, but getting better everyday. If I can find anything to be thankful for in this situation, it’s that I’ve had to slow down. I’ll start a full-time summer job at my former company this Wednesday, so I’ve been shooting and designing freelance projects until I can’t anymore, then taking advantage of my few remaining days at home by taking naps when my body demands them. I’ll miss semi-retirement for the next few months.

I’m writing this Saturday, as Gil is preparing to leave for a business trip to Scotland. I thought he could use a good meal before his redeye flight, so I sent him off with grilled steak, garlic scapes and asparagus. And because I plan to cook more large meals on weekends to bring for lunch during the week, I used a small-yet-sizable flank steak bought from the Snoep Winkel Farm booth at the market this morning. There was no time to marinate the beef before lunch, so instead I relied on a dry rub plus grilled garlic scape purée to impart flavor.

Grilled Garlic Scapes | Minimally Invasive

Garlic scape pesto is really popular, but I’ve never really liked it. The flavor is just too overpowering for me, but I can eat my weight in grilled scapes, which turn mellow and smoky after spending time over hot coals. I thought it would be fine to pound them into a paste with a mortar and pestle, but quickly realized that I’d be in the kitchen all day if I relied only on my own power, so the food processor took over. But the stone mortar and pestle are so pretty, I had to continue styling with it.

Grilled Garlic Scape Mash | Minimally Invasive

The purée is really nothing more than garlic scapes, olive oil, salt, lemon juice and red wine vinegar, but it cut right through the tiny bit of fat in the grass-fed beef and gave each bite an extra hit of smokey goodness. Highly recommended, if you have access to scapes and a grill.

Grilled Flank Steak with Garlic Scape Purée

Serves 6
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 45 minutes
Dietary Diabetic, Gluten Free
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish
Misc Serve Hot
Garlic scapes are in season and so is grilling. Thank goodness grilled flank steak was made for garlic scape purée.

Ingredients

For the garlic scape purée

  • garlic scapes (a few handfuls)
  • olive oil, divided
  • Diamond kosher salt
  • lemon juice
  • red wine vinegar

For the flank steak

  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon aleppo pepper powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons Diamond kosher salt
  • 1 grass-fed flank steak (about two pounds)

Note

Instructions are for grass-fed beef, which tends to be a bit leaner than grain-fed, so you don't want to overcook it. This cooking time produced a medium-rare steak for me, but monitor your steak closely. Remember, you can always cook your steak longer, but you can't uncook it!

Directions

GARLIC SCAPE PURÉE
Heat gas grill to high or build a hot fire in a charcoal grill.
Wash and dry garlic scapes and trim off the thin tail end, just beyond where the bulb attaches to the stalk.
Toss scapes with a little olive oil to coat and sprinkle with salt.
Once charcoals have a layer of white ash on them, clean the grill with a wire brush. Add garlic scapes to the grill in one layer and cover with lid. Grill for a few minutes then flip.
Garlic scapes are done with both sides are blistered and blackened in spots and scapes are tender. Remove from heat and set aside to cool a bit before handling.
Chop garlic scapes and pulse in food processor until a paste forms. Scapes are fibrous, so it won't be smooth. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, a splash of red wine vinegar, a few tablespoons of olive oil and blend until combined. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
GRILLED FLANK STEAK
Combine sugar, black pepper, aleppo pepper, garlic powder and salt in a small ramekin. Sprinkle over both sides of flank steak and press into surface.
For medium-rare steak, grill over high heat for 3-4 minutes, then turn the steak 90° and grill for another 3-4 minutes. Flip steak over and grill for 3-4 minutes, then turn the steak 90° and grill for another 3-4 minutes. Remove from grill and tent with foil for 5 minutes before slicing very thinly across the grain and serving with garlic scape purée.

 

It’s So Easy Eating Greens

All of my bitching and moaning about the long winter and lack of stellar produce at the grocery store during said winter has given way to glittery unicorns and happy dances as the Ringwood Farmers’ Market opened for its eighth season a couple of weekends ago. It’s still early in the year, so the full force of its awesomeness has yet to be released, but I have more than enough to keep me busy until that time. I loaded up on more greens than I probably can eat in a week, but I’ll be giving it my best shot, and started with this morning’s breakfast.

Green Garlic | Minimally Invasive

Last year around this time, I discovered the mind-blowing power of green garlic confit, then promptly forgot about it when the season moved on. But I can’t pass up fresh garlic in the market and it’s a big waste to throw away 90% of a usable plant, so I made another batch this weekend. The leaves from only one bulb yielded enough to fill two one-cup ramekins, which should keep me busy for a while. I still have several bulbs to go, so if you’re in the area and want to share my bounty, let me know!

Garlic Confit | Amy Roth Photo

 

I’ve been nibbling at the drained confit here and there, enjoying it with just a sprinkling of salt — don’t judge — but used it in a frittata this morning with great results. I added a little of the flavored oil to a pan along with a few chopped asparagus spears and ribbons of tender turnip greens and spinach and a pinch of salt and red pepper flakes, then sauteéd everything over medium heat until the greens had collapsed on themselves. Once they were at that manageable volume, I transferred them to a much smaller non-stick pan and added a couple of beaten eggs and some fresh goat’s milk ricotta, covered the pan, and let it cook until the eggs were set. Before digging in, I dressed the frittata with more of the drained garlic confit, cracked black pepper and a touch of Maldon sea salt for crunch and had a blissful morning.

Green never tasted so good.


I’ll be sending out my June newsletter later today, complete with another Spring-perfect recipe: Gluten-Free Strawberry Biscuits with Roasted Rhubarb and Strawberry Butter. You don’t want to miss out on that, do you? If you’d like to get on the list, just sign up at the end of this post!

Strawberry Biscuits | Minimally Invasive

 

Green Garlic Confit

Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 1 hours, 30 minutes
Total time 1 hours, 45 minutes
Dietary Diabetic, Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable
Fresh Spring garlic is usable from the tiny bulb all the way to the tips of the leaves, about two feet up — green garlic confit cannot be missed!

Ingredients

  • 1 stalk Fresh Spring garlic, including leaves (thoroughly washed and thinly sliced)
  • Olive Oil

Note

I'm not sure about how long this will last, so I try to use it up within a week. It usually isn't a problem to do so BECAUSE IT'S THAT GOOD, but you can always freeze the confit in its oil in ice cube trays if you want it to last longer.

Directions

Heat oven to 300°F.
Place sliced garlic stem and leaves in ramekin(s) to fit. You can pile it all the way to the top, as they'll reduce a bit in the oven.
Add olive oil to cover the sliced garlic and place ramekins in a cake pan to catch any spillover.
Bake at 300°F for 90 minutes, or until greens are tender. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate in a covered container for future use.

Field to Feast: Garlic Scapes

Garlic scapes are another spring-into-summer crop I crave all year long. I tried the ubiquitous garlic scape pesto a few years ago when it was all the rage, but it was really overpowering to me, so ever since I’ve just grilled them whenever I had a few and the grill was already going. They get a little blackened and a little smoky, and just seem to be the perfect accompaniment to a big, juicy steak.

Garlic Scapes | Minimally Invasive

But times change and we aren’t eating as much meat anymore, and with the rain we’ve had all spring, grilling hasn’t been something at the top of my to-do list, so the scapes have been languishing in the refrigerator. It’d be a shame for them to go bad, so I started thinking about another way to feature them in a garlic scape-forward dish. They can take a bit of abuse and mellow out a lot as they cook, so I thought dry-frying them like green beans would be a perfect treatment. And it was, if you’re a fan of the tingly tongue!

Instead of the traditional preparation which involves deep frying and a sweet sauce, I went with a Szechuan-style stir fry for less oil and more pepper. I found the recipe, as I so often do, at Simply Recipes and subbed garlic scapes for the long beans. It came together in a matter of minutes, though clean-up took a few minutes more because wow, this was one messy dish! I’ll admit that could have been due to my overly-aggressive wok technique, which launched rogue peppercorns and scapes across the counter and, yes, floor, but it didn’t matter. I’d happily make this again, and just accept the clean-up as the cost of doing business.

Szechuan Garlic Scapes | Minimally Invasive

Field to Feast: Green Garlic & Radishes

Instead of the Farmers’ Market Feast I’ve run for the past few summers, I’ll be doing things a little differently around here this year, partnering with my friend Kasha Bialas of The FarmGirl Cooks. In fact, I’ll just let her introduce you to our new endeavor:

Once upon a time there was a food photographer in New Jersey who loved to shop at farmers’ markets. This photographer was an avid cook and blogger who took advantage of the local bounty, cooking for herself, her husband and her two loving pups.  It just so happened that the farmer from whom she purchased vegetables, a single mom born and raised on a veggie farm in New York, was also an avid cook and blogger. What started out as a very businesslike transaction over radishes and onions has blossomed into a friendship based upon food, its preparations and the photographing of the results.

Join Amy of Minimally Invasive and Kasha of The FarmGirl Cooks, as they take you on a culinary journey documenting their challenge to create unique dishes using the same in-season ingredients. Because there’s nothing more beautiful than an artfully arranged plate of simply-prepared ingredients at the peak of freshness, the primary ingredients in each pair of dishes will be chosen based upon what looks best growing in the fields and purchased at local farmers markets. Amy’s and Kasha’s goal is to show readers that incorporating seasonal foods into daily cooking is quite effortless and can have stunning results. Please follow along as our chefs bring you the season’s best foods prepared in creative and delicious ways!

Combining the first and second weeks of the summer market into one mega-post, we’re kicking things off with green garlic…

Green Garlic @ Minimally Invasive

and radishes.

Radishes @ Minimally Invasive

In my excitement over finally (FINALLY!) having fresh garlic, I used it in all of the old standards — sautéeing it for asparagus pizza, or serving it with bacon and asparagus topped with a farm-fresh duck egg for breakfast.

Asparagus, Garlic and Eggs @ Minimally Invasive

But after a week of gorging on asparagus, I was ready to try something new. A few years ago, I made garlic confit for a triple-garlic pizza and thought it might be an interesting way to use this green garlic. So I chopped up everything but the roots of the garlic, threw in some black peppercorns, added olive oil to cover, and let the dish bathe in a 300-degree oven for two hours. (I made A LOT, so it took a while to cook down to a soft, slumpy mess.) The house smelled nothing short of amazing as the garlic was cooking, by the way. Check out the link above to make garlic confit of your own.

Green Garlic Chopped @ Minimally Invasive

The confit wasn’t falling apart or jammy the way whole garlic cloves get with the same treatment, but it was divine in its own right; in fact, I’m embarrassed to tell you how much of it I ate straight from a spoon, sprinkled with a little salt, my brain working on how to incorporate it in recipes.

The first dish that presented itself was, again, asparagus, which I blanched in very salty boiling water, then marinated at room temperature with a copious amount of garlic confit and its oil. Just before serving, I sprinkled the dish with finishing salt and added a big grind of fresh black pepper. Anything more would’ve been gilding the lily.

And after two days in the refrigerator, it’s even better than when I first made it:

Asparagus with Green Garlic Confit @ Minimally Invasive

Then I used some confit to mellow out the radish green pesto I’d prepared as a topping for marinated, grilled purple potatoes. On its own, the radish pesto was quite bitter, as you’d expect from such spicy greens and the handful of walnuts I used, but with about 1/3 cup of garlic confit whirred into the mixture, it became something entirely different — mellow, silky, and completely satisfying.

Confit and Pesto @ Minimally Invasive

After the pesto was made, I was left with a bunch of juicy radishes. While my favorite way to eat them is raw with a little anchovy butter, this is a cooking blog, so I got to work on a recipe. I began by halving and tossing them with a little olive oil:

Sliced Radishes @ Minimally Invasive

Then roasting and tossing them with a brown-butter miso glaze, all the while liberally sampling and adjusting here and there until it tasted juuuuust right.

Miso Glazed Radishes @ Minimally Invasive

It’s so simple to make delicious meals this time of year with farm-fresh ingredients. Attempting any overly involved recipe is almost a shame at the start of the season, when our winter-deprived taste buds are crying out for something new; it’s all so delicious when treated with respect and a light touch. I can’t guarantee I’ll stick to that philosophy with every dish, but it’s a great place to start.

Be sure to check out Kasha’s post on green garlic and asparagus and drool over her gorgeous risotto!

Brown Butter and Miso-Glazed Radishes

1 bunch radishes, cleaned and trimmed with 1/2-inch of greens still attached
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons white miso

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Halve radishes vertically, then toss them with the olive oil and a big pinch of salt. Pour onto a greased baking sheet and turn radishes cut side down. Roast for 20 minutes, or until a knife slips easily into a radish.

While the radishes are roasting, heat the butter in a small skillet over medium heat until the milk solids turn golden brown and develop a nutty smell. Remove from heat and add maple syrup and lemon juice, stirring to combine. Allow mixture to cool for a few minutes, then stir in the miso until the mixture becomes a smooth paste.

Toss the radishes with the miso mixture in a big bowl and serve immediately. They’re also great at room temperature, if you want to serve them in a buffet setting.

From the Market — The Kickoff

Grilled potatoes, radish green pesto, shaved asparagus

We went straight from winter to summer around here, and not a moment too soon. I’m stuck in an office today instead of out enjoying perfect grilling/hanging out/whatever weather, but at least it gives me time to reflect on last weekend’s fixin’s.

We’re going to have some green on this blog and lots of it now that our local farmers’ market is back for the season! It was a bittersweet opening, as some of you know — our market is now dog-free. Poor Gil looked like a lost soul just wandering around without the boys, while I did what I always do and loaded up on good stuff to carry home. We’ll probably venture out to other markets that are dog-friendly in upcoming weeks, so stay tuned for a full report.

grilled potatoes, radish-green pesto, shaved asparagus

I felt like an appetizer to get the ball rolling, and ended up with one that would be just as good for barbecues as for a light dinner during grilling season — grilled potato rounds with radish-green pesto and shaved asparagus. It’s vegetarian, nutrient-dense and good hot or cold (though I give the nod to hot-off-the-grill because crispy grilled potatoes just can’t be beat).

grilled potatoes, radish-green pesto, shaved asparagus

It’s easily adapted to use what you have in the house. The radish-green pesto came about because I hate throwing anything away, and a pesto is just about the easiest way to use extra greens. If you don’t have radish greens or just don’t like them, use any kind of pesto you prefer. I had some garlic confit in the fridge, so I tossed the asparagus with garlic oil and lemon juice, but go ahead and use olive oil if that’s what you have.

Springtime pie

For lunch, I rejiggered my triple-garlic pizza, adding quick-pickled wild garlic & spring onions and shaved asparagus and radish-green pesto leftovers. Really good stuff.

These quick-pickled wild garlic & spring onions were inspired by Smitten Kitchen’s pickled onions.

after baking

A thin layer of mozzarella and grated parmesan and garlic confit (natch) tied the whole pizza together. We made short work of it, I’m afraid, but I still have the makings for one more pie, which should be just the thing to kick off this next weekend.

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “From the Market — The Kickoff”

Triple-Garlic Pizza

Or, the whole of the pie is greater than the sum of its alliums.

gluten-free white pizza with garlic

We visited the last monthly winter market this weekend to find the very first sign of Spring — wild garlic — at Nina’s booth. She’s my go-to source for fresh eggs and local honey, but she always has some lagniappe I appreciate — last year it was callaloo and micro greens and last month, freshly smoked jalapenos. But as soon as I saw this month’s wild garlic offering, I knew it was destined for spring’s perfect pizza. You can keep your ramps; I’ll stick to locally-grown wild garlic for $1 a bunch! (Sadly, we don’t have any growing in our yard or it’d be even cheaper.)

Locally-grown — a beautiful sign of Spring

Since I’m pathologically incapable of making anything the same way twice, I subbed in a gluten-free crust and added layers of flavor with garlic oil and garlic confit. Frankly, I wouldn’t know where to draw the “too much garlic” line, but this wasn’t even close. On this pie, at least, it’s all mellow and sweet and borderline addictive.

garlic, olive oil, black peppercorns

Garlic confit, like creme fraiche and sofrito, is one of those things that’s nice to have on hand to add a little something to a dish. Whole cloves are slow-cooked in olive oil until they’re soft and sweetly caramelized, which is nice on its own, but as a bonus you get that lovely oil to use for drizzling, dipping, salad dressings, etc.

gluten-free pizza with garlic oil, confit, wild garlic, truffle oil

The gluten-free pizza crust is the best I’ve yet tried, but I’m still on the lookout for something less…squeaky. (Those of you who’ve had the heavily starch-based crusts know what I mean.) Something a little breadier would be really nice in this application.

gluten-free pizza with garlic oil, confit, wild garlic and truffle oil

Not that I’m complaining — far from it. These toppings just deserve the very best base you can give them. I’m doing it for the garlic, you see.

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “Triple-Garlic Pizza”

A pressing matter

When the time comes to add garlic to a dish, do you break out your knife and cutting board or do you reach for your garlic press? It’s a touchy subject for a lot of people, and the Cookthink blog gives a great rundown of the garlic press objections today.

Where do you stand? For the record, I have no issue whatsoever with using a press when I want minced garlic or garlic paste. Sometimes, though, I like a little texture. It’s all about context for me.