Sunday, September 27, 2015

Creamy Corn Soup with Pureed Summer Squash

Here's a creamy, warming soup for fall that makes good use of summer produce that's still available. (Our summer squash is slowing down, but I still picked seven of them yesterday!) You can substitute zucchini for the summer squash in this recipe, but the result will not be quite as sweet, and the color may be a bit muddy.

Olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
2 lbs summer squash, cubed or sliced
Chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
Kernels from 6 ears of corn (about 3 cups)
1/2 - 3/4 cup cream, or to taste

Heat a bit of olive oil in a soup pot. Add the garlic and onion and saute over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the squash and enough stock to cover. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the squash is very tender, about 10-15 minutes.

When the squash is tender, puree the soup using an immersion blender (or do it in batches in a regular blender, then return it to the pot). Add salt and pepper, then stir in the corn. Simmer for a few minutes, until the corn is tender. Turn off the heat and stir in the cream. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Serves 4-6.

Roasted September Vegetables with Thyme and Red Wine Vinegar

This combination of vegetables goes well together with many different seasoning options. Here's another one, savory and tangy on the tongue. Substitute other mushrooms if you like.

1 large eggplant, peeled and cubed
2 sweet red peppers, in bite sized pieces
1-2 summer squash or zucchini, cubed
1/4 lb shiitake mushrooms, halved or sliced
1 medium onion, diced
Olive oil
2 tsp dried thyme (or 1 Tbsp fresh)
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Combine all the vegetables in a large bowl. Drizzle generously with olive oil, quickly tossing to coat the vegetables before it all soaks into the eggplant. Sprinkle with thyme, salt, and pepper, then drizzle with the red wine vinegar and toss again.

Spread the vegetables out on a rimmed baking sheet, preferable in a single layer. Roasted for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice, until tender.

Serves about 4.

Home Grown Hot Sauce

I had a pound of ripe red jalapenos that needed using. In the past I've pickled them (yum!), fire roasted them, and used them in salsa, but I had never tried making my own hot sauce. This came out pretty good. You can use whatever type of chilies you like; the heat of the sauce will be entirely dependent on the heat of the chilies you use. If a quart of hot sauce sounds like too much, or you have fewer chilies available, feel free to halve or even quarter the recipe.

1 lb ripe (red) jalapenos, stemmed and seeded
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup cider vinegar
2 medium-large garlic cloves
1 Tbsp salt

Combine all ingredients in the blender and blend at increasing speed until completely pureed. I have a pretty high powered blender and I found that after the pureeing process the hot sauce was pretty foamy from all the air that had been whipped into it. Just let it sit, stirring occasionally, until the foam settles. Store in sealed container (s) in the fridge or freezer. I used pint jars, putting 3 in the freezer for later and one in the fridge for now.

Foamy hot sauce after blending

Makes about 1 quart.

Roasted September Vegetables with Dill Yogurt Sauce

This recipe is perfect for this time of year, when the late summer vegetables are still going pretty strong but the weather has cooled down enough to make roasting appealing. This combination is deeply flavorful, and the dill yogurt sauce with a pinch of garlic gives it a Greek or Turkish flair.

1 large eggplant, peeled and cubed
2 sweet red peppers, in bit sized pieces
2-3 paste tomatoes, seeded and cubed
Olive oil

Yogurt Sauce
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 clove garlic, very finely minced
1 Tbsp chopped fresh (or frozen) dill

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the vegetables in a large bowl. Drizzle generously with olive oil and quickly toss (the eggplant will absorb oil, so toss quickly after drizzling to spread it around before it soaks in too much). Sprinkle with salt and toss again.

Spread the vegetables on a rimmed baking sheet, preferably in a single layer. Roast for 30 minutes, stirring once or twice to prevent burning and sticking.

While the vegetables roast, combine the yogurt, garlic, and dill and stir well. The yogurt will thin into a sauce.

Serve the vegetables topped with the yogurt sauce at the table.

Serves 4-6.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Rosemary-Garlic Roasted Leg of Local Lamb

My husband adores lamb, so I bought a leg from Balky Farm (in Northfield) at the farmers market and roasted it for his recent birthday. Some good olives go well alongside this.

Ready to go in the oven

1 bone-in leg of lamb, 4-5 lbs
Salt and pepper
2 heads garlic, peeled
1/4 cup rosemary leaves
Olive oil

Season the lamb in advance if you can. At least an hour is good, and as much as a full day ahead of time brings welcome added flavor to the meat.

Using a sharp, thin-bladed knife, cut small slits into the meat all over it. Sprinkle generously all over with salt and pepper.

Mince the garlic and rosemary together, then combine with enough olive oil to make a paste. Smear this all over the lamb, working it into the slits as well as spreading it on the surface. Place the lamb in a roasting pan that just fits it. Let sit until ready to cook (on the counter is fine for an hour or so; otherwise in the fridge).

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Roast the lamb for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 325. Roast for an additional 15 minutes, then begin testing the temperature. Check it in several places; you want it to be at least 130 degrees for medium rare. Keep in mind that a bone-in roast will take longer to cook near the bone than on the outside. Continue to cook if needed.

Let the lamb sit for 10-15 minutes before carving. Serve warm.

Freezing Dill

Fresh dill freezes beautifully and easily and the end product is of great quality. I like to keep some in my freezer all winter if I can. Some people like to freeze it in ice cube trays covered with water or olive oil; this works fine but I find that for dill it's not necessary and I can just pack it loosely in freezer bags. This technique also works great for parsley. (For basil and cilantro, I suggest the ice tray method.)

1. Start with good fresh dill. Weed out any shriveled or yellow bits.

2. Chop the dill leaves and tender stems pretty finely.

3. Pack into freezer bags. Don't stuff them. You want to fill smallish bags loosely, with the dill fairly flat and spread out. This is key to being able to shake some out or break off a bit when you want to cook with it.

Southwestern Rice and Bean Salad with Chorizo and Veggies

Cook up some rice and sausage ahead of time or use leftovers; this is a good dish for a hot night when you don't want to turn on the stove.

3-4 cups cold cooked brown rice
1 cup diced cooked chorizo
Kernels from 2 ears of corn (1-2 cups)
1 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 - 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 large sweet red pepper, diced
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
Salt to taste
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 - 1 tsp chili powder
1-2 tsp lime juice (or to taste)

Combine rice, chorizo, corn, beans, scallions, cilantro, pepper, and cheddar in a large bowl and add salt to taste.

In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, cumin, chili powder, and lime juice and mix well.

Stir the yogurt mixture into the rice mixture until everything is well coated.

Serve cold.

Serves about 6.