We have a friend named Chris who always seems to be in the know. One afternoon long ago when he had come over to mountain bike with my husband, he told me about a new technology called Twitter. This conversation happened well before my phone was “smart” and at a time when pictures of my family, friends and me were safely tucked away in photo albums. No iPhone, no Facebook, no Instagram and certainly no vehicle that enabled me to tell anyone who would listen what was on my mind 24/7.
I remember saying to Chris that I thought the concept of Twitter was rather ridiculous. Why did we need to know what was on the mind of anyone, at any moment of the day or night? I have enough trouble keeping track of my own thoughts, let alone absorbing someone else’s!
Clearly, I am not a technology visionary. Nor am I someone who you want to pick stocks for your investment portfolio!
Funny enough, I now have a Twitter account for The Kitchen Scout and although I barely have any followers and only “tweet” (that verb still makes me laugh) on occasion, I have found it to be a great and timely resource.
While I follow many chefs and restaurants, I also follow lifestyle “experts”, other bloggers, celebrities, news personalities, newspapers and other publications. One of those publications is Edible Boston which is free and published quarterly. You can pick it up at various retail establishments and it is full of great information for foodies. Edible showcases what is happening in the Boston (and surrounding area) food scene while also introducing you to the people (farmers, fishermen, chefs, etc.) involved with the renaissance of food in the area. There are Edible magazines published around the country – check them out here!
In early March, Edible happened to “tweet” that a Winter’s farmers’ market in a neighboring town was holding a New England Cheese Day, and that Susie Middleton would also be there signing copies of her latest cookbook. Thank you, Twitter! My calendar was clear so I called my friend, Bredt (coincidentally Chris’s wife) to see if she could join me as she lived near to where the market was being held.
Here is a picture of my haul from that day…
Susie’s cookbook, delicious goat cheese from Crystal Brook Farm, pickled jalapenos from Vermont, lamb, pork and vegetables from nearby farms, a confection from Trill Foods and bread from Bread Obsession. Bredt also purchased some beautiful pasta from Valicenti Organico. We had so much fun meeting and talking with all the vendors.
However, it was really a thrill for me to meet Susie who had been Editor in Chief at Fine Cooking Magazine, and remains its Editor at Large. I was a longtime subscriber to Fine Cooking and my experience with the recipes I made over the years was nearly perfect. Among my favorites were Wild Rice Pilaf with Dried Apricots & Pine Nuts, Grilled Moroccan Spice-Crusted Lamb and Ginger-Mascarpone Icebox Cake.
As I mentioned, Susie was signing copies of her latest cookbook, Fresh from the Farm. Bredt and I stopped by her table and chatted with her like she was an old friend. She couldn’t have been any nicer and of course, I bought her book!
Several years ago, Susie opted out of corporate life, moved to Martha’s Vineyard and essentially started a farm where she lives year-round with her partner, Roy Riley. At Green Island Farm, Susie and Roy manage both a large market garden and over 500 laying hens while also operating a small self-serve farm stand to share their vegetables and eggs with other islanders. “Fresh from the Farm” follows the seasons and provides recipes for dishes that are based on what they are harvesting. The cookbook is also filled with stories that give you a view inside their lives on the farm. I’ve subscribed to Susie’s wonderful blog which you can access through her website called sixburnersue.
The first recipe I chose to try from Susie’s cookbook turned out to be a winner (no surprise). Since it fit so nicely into the theme of Spring clean eating that I mentioned in my post about Quinoa Spinach & Kale Bites, I am sharing it now.
I’ve made Spicy Thai Shrimp & Baby Bok Choy Stir-Fry a couple of times now and we really enjoy it. It is a light and delicious dish that doesn’t skimp on flavor. The sauce is full of delicious citrus notes from lime and orange juices. The nutty bok choy is tender but still has a little bite and the whole dish gets a lift from Serrano chiles and a mix of fresh herbs. Optional pea shoots provide interest while chopped peanuts add a little crunch. There is some prep involved, but once the ingredients are ready, the dish comes together quickly. If you have a shellfish allergy, you could definitely try this dish with chicken.
Susie mentions in the book that she can practically hear the tires screeching when islanders see “baby bok choy” on the large chalkboard listing what Green Island Farm has for sale. Part of the cabbage family, baby bok choy is a vitamin and mineral superstar. High in Vitamin A, C and K and rich in potassium, calcium and manganese, baby bok choy is a vegetable we should all be eating more often!
Such a pretty and delicate vegetable…
Take off the leafy green tops…
Then cut the stems in half. At this point, you are going to take the tough core out of the stem. Cut a v-shaped notch into the core and gently lift it out of the stem…
And then slice the stems as shown below…
The only other exotic ingredients in the dish are Serrano chiles and the optional pea greens or shoots (shoots are shown)…
The recipe calls for Thai basil, but if you cannot find it, you can use a mixture of cilantro, basil and mint…
The 31-35 count shrimp called for in the recipe is a great size for stir-fry as they are one biters…
The bok choy is so delicious with just a quick stir-fry in peanut oil. It may be a new favorite side dish for us…
And here is the finished dish which pairs well with rice or quinoa…
And to think, this post was made possible because of that silly little thing called Twitter…
In other news, The Kitchen Scout turned one this past week! Thank you to all my readers for supporting me through this first year! More on that next week…
From Susie Middleton's Fresh From the Farm cookbook, reworded ever so slightly.
- 2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 Tablespoons water
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon Asian chili-garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger, divided
- 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic, divided
- 2 Teaspoons finely chopped Serrano chili peppers (about 1, 3 inch pepper, ribs and seeds removed)
- 1 1/4 pounds large shrimp (31-35 count), peeled and deveined with tails removed.
- 2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
- Kosher Salt
- 1 pound baby bok choy (4 to 6 heads, depending on the size)
- 3 Tablespoons peanut oil
- 2 cups pea greens or 1 cup pea shoots (optional)
- 2 to 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh Thai basil (or a combination of basil, mint and cilantro)
- Cooked rice or quinoa, for serving
- 1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts for garnish, optional
- In a small bowl, combine the fish sauce, lime juice, 2 Tablespoons water, the brown sugar, chili-garlic paste and cornstarch. Whisk thoroughly and set aside.
- In another small bowl, combine 1 Tablespoon ginger, 1 Tablespoon garlic and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the Serranos and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, toss the shrimp with the remaining 1 teaspoon each of ginger and garlic, 1/2 teaspoon Serranos, the orange juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
- Cut each head of baby bok choy crosswise at the "neck" where the leafy part begins, then in half lengthwise. Reserve the leafy tops.
- Delicately remove the core of the bok choy from the stem ends, and cut the stems lengthwise into pieces about 1/2 inch wide.
- Drop all the stems and leafy tops into a big bowl of tepid water, swish around, and let sit for a few minutes to remove any dirt.
- Gently lift the bok choy out of the water and spread on a dishtowel. Let the pieces sit for a few minutes to drip dry.
- In a large, 12-inch nonstick stir-fry pan or skillet, heat 2 Tablespoons of the peanut oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the bok choy and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Using tongs, toss to coat. Turn the heat to high and cook, tossing occasionally with the tongs, until browning begins, 2 to 3 minutes. Lower the heat to medium high and continue stirring until all the pieces have some browning and the stems are pliable, but not completely limp, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the bok choy to a plate. Let the pan cool for a minute off the heat.
- Add the remaining 1 Tablespoon of peanut oil to the pan. Turn the heat back to high and when the oil is hot, add the shrimp, scraping the bowl to add any bits of garlic and ginger left behind. Cook, stirring frequently, until the shrimp are just shy of being cooked through, about 2 minutes.
- Return the bok choy to the pan, stir and add the reserved ginger-garlic-serrano mixture. Stir until well combined and fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Whisk the fish sauce mixture and pour into the pan making sure to get any remaining cornstarch out of the bowl. Stir constantly for 10 to 20 seconds as the sauce thickens slightly, and remove the pan from the heat.
- Continue stirring to coat the shrimp and vegetables with the sauce.
- Stir in the pea greens or shoots (if using) and about 2 Tablespoons of the fresh herbs. Stir again.
- Serve over rice, garnished with remaining herbs and peanuts if using.
Late to the party but a lovely dish and exactly what we’re having for dinner tonight. Nicely written article & recipe – clear & direct.
Thank you, Robert! Credit to Susie Middleton for the recipe but I do hope you enjoy it and thank you for reading!
Well it’s been such a fun year , having enjoyed reading all of your blogs the minute I wake up Friday AM. Val, your descriptions of restaurants, recipes, foodie adventures are all entertaining and helpful!! I discuss the latest blog with my mother and it gives us a way to connect on her favorite subject: quality food. Thanks for taking this project on and giving us all something g special to look forward to at the end of the week. I hope The Kitchen Scout gives you as much joy as it gives to me!!!
Ann, this is such a nice comment and I appreciate it so much! I can’t believe it has been a year and you have, as always, been one of my biggest supporters and I can’t thank you enough. Love you! xoxo