Tuesday, December 30, 2008

White Bean and Ham Soup

Last night I used up the last of the Christmas ham in this very simple but satisfying soup. I threw in some fresh parsley, some of the last that I harvested from the garden a couple weeks ago. If I had had kale or other greens on hand, I would have added them as well. I bet this would be tasty with sausage or bacon instead of the ham, too.

1 large onion, chopped
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups white beans, picked over and soaked for several hours
2-3 cups diced cooked ham
Water or stock
1 cup loosely packed chopped fresh or frozen parsley (or a couple cubes if frozen in trays)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat some olive oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 4-5 minutes. Add the beans and ham and enough water or stock to just cover them. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the beans are soft (30-60 minutes depending on the size and age of the beans and how long they soaked beforehand). Check periodically in case more liquid is needed. The end product should be a thick soup.

When the beans are tender, add the parsley and salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Serves about 4.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Dinner

Christmas dinner was at my house for the first time ever, and my sister and I did virtually all the cooking together. Fun all around. We managed to put together a menu that featured local foods as the main ingredient in every dish.

First of all, there was the ham from Bostrom's, of course. We baked it and covered it with a clementine-peppercorn glaze that was both sweet and deliciously savory and peppery. It went beautifully with the ham.

Then we served roasted local fingerling potatoes with dried figs and garlic, roasted local butternut squash with roasted garlic, maple roasted sweet potatoes from Red Fire Farm, and green beans that I froze this summer from the farmers market, steamed and served with sauteed slived almonds and butter. It was all fantastic. Everything but the green beans was a new recipe for our holiday table, and I think a few will be repeated in future years.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Ham from Bostrom's

Saturday Donovan and I braved the sort-of-plowed streets and made our way over to Bostrom's Farm here in Greenfield to see if we could find something good for Christmas dinner. We had hoped to go up to Wheelview in Shelburne but decided it wasn't worth it given the condition of the roads. We got ourselves a lovely smoked ham (quite enormous, but I'm looking forward to freezing leftovers), met Kyle Bostrom, and got to introduce 15-month-old Nate to the cows (which he thought might just be really big dogs, he wasn't totally sure). We had hoped to pick up some of their bacon as well, which is really excellent, but learned that Hope & Olive had recently bought all they had. Oh well. A good endorsement anyway!

I'm going to bake the ham with a peppery citrus glaze. Half of it anyway. I might just cut it in half and only glaze part of it, since there's no way the six of us are going to consume and eight pound ham, and glazing will make the leftovers less generally useful.

If you live in Greenfield or come into Greenfield frequently, Bostom's is super convenient (it's on Colrain Road) and they have a self-serve farm stand with the meat in a freezer. They sell eggs and raw milk as well, though we didn't check to see if they had any in stock this weekend. Kyle said they are currently out of beef and are expecting to have a bunch in starting in February. They still have some pork.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Savory Roasted Delicata Squash

Delicata squash is exceptionally sweet. You could actually serve it for dessert, topped with some maple syrup or brown sugar and sweet spices. But it's also good as a sweet/savory side dish. Here is what I did with one last night.

1 medium delicata squash
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 tsp dried sage

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the squash in half the long way and remove the strings and seeds. Place the two halves cut side up in a baking dish. Drizzle squash with olive oil, using your fingers or a pastry brush to coat the surface. Sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper, and sage.

Add a little water to the bottom of the baking dish and loosely cover the squash with aluminum foil. Bake for 30-45 minutes, until squash is tender.

Serves 2.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Squash Soup with Sage and Garlic

Here is another tasty pureed winter squash soup. It's easy to make with butternut squash because butternut peels so easily. But if you want to use a not-so-easily-peeled squash, just cook the squash first (by steaming, roasting, or whatever method you like), then add it along with some water when you are ready to puree.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
8-12 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp dried sage
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
Water or stock (veggie or chicken)
1 14-ounce package silken tofu (optional)
2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Fresh sage leaves for topping (optional)

Heat the butter or olive oil in a soup pot. Add the garlic and onions and cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add the dried sage and sauté briefly.

Add the squash to the pot, along with enough water to cover it. Bring to a boil, then simmer until tender (20 minutes or so).

Add the tofu (if using) and puree the soup using an immersion blender (or you can do it in batches in a regular blender or food processor). Add salt and pepper to taste.

If desired, fry some whole fresh sage leaves to garnish the soup. Serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Pureed Sweet Potato Squash Soup

This is adapted from a recipe that appeared in the New York Times a month or so ago. The original called for a regular potato in addition to the sweet potatoes; I didn't have any potatoes, so I skipped it, and didn't miss it in the end product. This is a gorgeous, bright orange soup, smooth and rich tasting. I served it with popovers.

1 Tbsp canola or olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 medium butternut squash (about 1.5 lbs), peeled, seeded, and cubed
1 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
Water or stock (chicken or veggie)

Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the onion and saute over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Add the ginger and saute another minute or so. Add the squash and sweet potatoes and enough water or stock to cover them. Bring to a boil, then simmer until tender (about 20-25 minutes).

When the vegetables are tender, puree the soup with an immersion blender (or do it in batches in a regular blender or food processor).

Serves about 6.

Variations: I haven't tried it yet, but I bet carrots would also work beautifully in this soup in place of the squash. Or maybe even in place of both the squash and sweet potato. Also, you could add silken tofu for some additional protein.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pasta with Tomato Bacon Sauce

The night before last I made potato kale soup with bacon and had half a package of thawed bacon (from Bostrom's Farm) left over that needed using. This is what I came up with. I used two quart-sized bags of tomatoes from the freezer, and they provided a lovely blast of summer flavor. I threw in a bunch of fresh parsley because I had recently harvested the last of it from the garden and had lots in the fridge. To easily remove the skins from the frozen tomatoes, run quickly under warm water and they slip off.

6 oz. bacon
1 medium onion, chopped
2 quart bags frozen tomatoes, skins removed, cut into chunks
1 15-oz can red beans, drained and rinsed (optional)
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley or 1/2-3/4 cup frozen
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb linguine or other pasta

Cook the bacon in a dutch oven. Remove and drain on paper towels. Drain off most of the bacon fat from the pot, leaving 1-2 teaspoons. Return the pot to the heat and add the onions. Saute for 3-5 minutes, then add the tomatoes. When it starts to look more like sauce, add the beans, salt, and pepper. Simmer until it reaches a nice consistency, or for as long as you have time for.

While the sauce simmers, heat a pot of water and cook the pasta.

When ready to serve, add the parsley to the sauce and stir so it wilts. Serve the sauce over the pasta.

Serves about 4.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Farmhouse Sausage Chili

I adapted this from a recipe in the Joy of Cooking. I used chorizo from Not Your Ordinary Farm and tomatoes and peppers from the freezer.

1 lb chorizo or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 large onion, chopped
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried sage
1-2 bell peppers (red or green), diced
1-2 hot peppers, seeded and minced (option)
3-4 cups chopped tomatoes (seeded)
3-4 cups cooked red beans (2 15-oz. cans)
Salt and pepper to taste

Start cooking the sausage in a dutch oven or soup pot (I like to use a cast iron dutch oven for this sort of thing), breaking it into chunks as it cooks. As the fat starts to render, add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion starts to turn translucent. Add the cumin and sage and cook for another minute or so. Add the bell peppers, hot peppers (if using), tomatoes, and beans. Simmer for 15 minutes or so. Add salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Serves 4-6.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sweet Potato Pone

This recipe is a longstanding holiday tradition in my family. My mom started making it during a brief period living in the south when I was toddler. Now my sister and I share it with friends and in-laws, and it's always a hit. The optional pecans are my sister's contribution.

2 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cooked
1/4 cup melted butter
2 eggs
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
10 or so pecan halves (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish with a cover.

Mash the sweet potatoes with the melted butter.

In a medium bowl, beat two eggs. Add brown sugar and thoroughly combine. Stir in the milk, molasses, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Add sweet potatoes and stir until well blended.

Turn the mixture into the casserole dish. If desired, top with pecan halves. Bake, covered, for 50-60 minutes. Serve hot.

Serves 6-8.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Oatmeal with Dried Peaches

Back in September, I dried a bunch of peaches from Clarkdale. I did them in thin slices, so the end product is quite crisp. Now I am breaking them up into my morning oatmeal as it simmers on the stove, so that by the time it is ready, the peaches are soft, flavorful little nuggets that bring back a hint of warmer weather. Yum!


We bought a big "pie mix" bag of apples from Clarkdale just before Thanksgiving. After two large pies, there were still a lot of apples left, so I've been making applesauce and freezing it (canning it is easy enough, but I just don't have time--and I do have room in my freezer). If you've never done it before, the method couldn't be simpler:

Peel and core several apples and slice or cut into chunks (this is super-easy if you have an apple peeler/corer/slicer machine, as I do). Place in a saucepan with a little water (1/4 cup or so). Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until apples are very tender. They will start to fall apart as you stir. Mash with your spoon or a masher to the desired consistency. If you want it very smooth, put it through a food mill or sieve.

Blueberry Oatmeal Pancakes

Did you freeze blueberries last summer when they were in season? If so, this is a great way to use them--along with local milk, eggs, and maple syrup, of course. These are a little denser and chewier than standard pancakes, but in a good way.

1 cup milk
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup frozen blueberries
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
¼ tsp salt
2 large eggs, well beaten
½ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 T brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla (optional)
Maple syrup for topping

In a medium bowl, combine the milk and rolled oats. Let soak about 5 minutes.

Stir all the remaining ingredients into the oatmeal and milk and blend well.

Cook the pancakes on a hot, lightly oiled skillet, turning when the top is bubbly. Keep cooked pancakes warm in the oven or on a covered plate until you finish making the rest.

Serve hot with good quality maple syrup.

Serves 2-3.

Variations: Substitute 1 tsp nutmeg for the cinnamon. Also, try chopped fresh apples in place of the blueberries.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Frozen Fruit Sorbet

I've developed some sorbet recipes over the years, but always for fresh fruit and always made in the summer.  But in a recent New York Times column, Mark Bittman included a recipe for sorbet made from frozen fruit, which got my attention--I froze a LOT of Clarkdale peaches this summer, plus some strawberries from the farmers market.  If you did, too (or blueberries or raspberries or whatever else was bounteous a few months back), you might want to check this out.  I haven't tried it yet, but it sounds easy and delicious.

Tortilla de Patatas - Variation with Garlic and Sage

If you read this blog regularly, you have no doubt figured out that I love garlic and sage together.  Last night I combined them in a variation on the Tortilla de Patatas recipe I posted a couple days ago, and I liked it even better than the standard version.  I used local fingerling potatoes, which were fantastic--the quality of the ingredients makes a huge difference in a simple dish like this.

1/4 cup olive oil
4-5 cups sliced potatoes (1/4-inch rounds)
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
5 eggs
2-3 tsp crumbled dried sage leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a heavy ovenproof skillet (10-inch is a good size).  Add the potatoes and fry until tender, turning frequently to keep them from sticking.  Add the garlic when the potatoes are almost done.

When the potatoes are tender, drain off all but about 2 Tbsp of the oil in the pan and remove from heat.  Turn on the broiler.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl and stir in the sage, salt, and pepper.  Add the potatoes and stir to coat.  Heat the skillet again and pour in the egg and potatoes.  Cover over medium heat, shaking frequently, until half set.  Finish under the broiler (just a few minutes will do).

Serve warm.

Serves about 4.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Garlicky Mashed Parsnips

I made this last night with some local parsnips.  The ones I had turned out to have a disappointingly bitter note to their flavor, but the rest of it came together nicely.  I'll be trying it again in the spring.

1 lb parnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1 head roasted garlic, cloves peeled
1/4 cup milk plus more to taste
2 Tbsp butter plus more if desired
Salt and pepper to taste

Steam or boil the parsnips until tender.  Mash in a bowl with the garlic, milk, and butter until they reach the desired consistency.  Add salt and pepper.  Serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Tortilla de Patatas

This is a classic Spanish dish served in tapas bars everywhere.  And at this time of year, we can make it here in Western Massachusetts with almost entirely local ingredients.  Enjoy!

1/4 cup olive oil
4-5 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced in 1/4-inch rounds
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 eggs
Salt to taste

Heat the olive oil in a heavy ovenproof skillet (10-inch is a good size).  Add the potatoes and fry until tender, turning frequently to keep them from sticking.  Add the garlic and onions after a few minutes.

When the potatoes are tender, drain off all but about 2 Tbsp of the oil in the pan and remove from heat.  Turn on the broiler.

Beat the eggs and salt in a large bowl.  Add the potatoes and stir to coat.  Heat the skillet again and pour in the egg and potatoes.  Cover over medium heat, shaking frequently, until half set.  Finish under the broiler (just a few minutes will do).

Serve warm.

Serves about 4.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Roasted Winter Vegetables

This is another recipe that originated with my mother-in-law (she's a great cook!).  The particular combination of ingredients is very pleasing.  If you can't get local fennel, try some celery and a little apple in its place.  The walnut oil really adds something to the flavor, but if you don't have any, olive oil is fine.

1 smallish sweet potato, cubed
1 smallish bulb fennel, in wedges
8 oz. potatoes, cubed
6 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and halved (or quartered if very large)
4 large shallots, quartered (or 1 medium onion, in wedges)
3 Tbsp walnut oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (1 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp)
1 1/2 tsp salt (coarse if possible)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Toss the vegetables with the walnut oil, 1 Tbsp of the balsamic vinegar, and the salt.  Spread in the pan and roast for 30-35 minutes.  When done, sprinkle the remaining 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar over them and serve.

Serves 3-4.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Pizza with Turkey, Sweet Potatoes, and Blue Cheese

Another use for leftover turkey!  Plus, of course, local sweet potatoes and cheese.  Some caramelized onions wouldn't go amiss here, though they would add an extra step in the preparation.

1 14-inch pizza crust
1/2 - 3/4 cup tomato sauce 
1 cup cooked sliced sweet potato
1 cup shredded cooked turkey
2-3 oz. crumbled blue cheese of your choice (Berkshire Blue, perhaps)
4-6 oz. shredded mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Paint the unbaked pizza crust lightly with olive oil, using a pastry brush or your fingers (if using a pre-baked crust, no need).  Spread tomato sauce over the crust, then top with sweet potato, turkey, and blue cheese.  Sprinkle mozzarella over everything.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, until crust is cooked and cheese starts to brown.

Serves 3-4.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Parsnips

This recipe, which I adapted from one my mother-in-law gave me, is absolutely delicious.  Pick up some Red Fire Farm sweet potatoes and/or some locally grown parsnips and enjoy!  (Normally I prefer to eat parsnips in the spring, as their flavor is better after being in the ground for the winter--but this year we had such a long cold snap before the ground warmed up again that they should be pretty good now, too.)

2 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes and/or parsnips, peeled and cut into chunky spears
2 tsp olive oil (1 tsp + 1 tsp)
1/2 tsp salt (coarse if possible)
1/8 tsp cayenne or chili powder
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  

Combine 1 tsp olive oil, the salt, and cayenne or chili powder, and toss it with the sweet potatoes and parsnips.  Spread on a baking sheet and roast for about 25 minutes.

Whisk together the maple syrup, cider vinegar, and remaining 1 tsp olive oil.  Brush it on the sweet potatoes and parsnips and roast for 10 more minutes, or longer if you'd like the veggies a little crispy around the edges.

Serves 4-6.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Leftover Turkey

Wondering what to do with leftover turkey?  Soup is one obvious answer, of course, but there's no need to limit yourself to the standard turkey/carrots/celery/onions/rice formula (at least, that's the standard formula I grew up with!), tasty as it is.  Why not try a curried version?  My mother-in-law made a fantastic chicken and rice soup a month or so ago with apples, fennel, basmati rice, and curry powder.  Or try shredded turkey in chili, maybe with lentils and white beans for something a little different.  Pot pie is always a good option.  Or how about pizza with tomato sauce, turkey, gorgonzola, and sliced onion?

Quiche with Dried Tomatoes and Feta

With local eggs, milk, and cheese easily available, quiche has a great start on being a local-centered dish.  I added local onions and garlic, dried tomatoes from my garden, and oregano from my potted plant.  Yum!

1 9-inch pastry shell
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1/3 cup dried tomatoes
1-2 Tbsp fresh oregano or 1-2 tsp dried
1/2 cup crumbled feta
4 eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375. Pre-bake the pie crust for about 15 minutes (weight it down with pie weights if using homemade). 

Rehydrate the tomatoes by soaking in boiling water for several minutes.  Drain and chop.

Saute the garlic in olive oil for about 2 minutes. Add garlic and onion and saute until the onion is translucent. Add the tomatoes and oregano and saute a moment longer.  Spread in the bottom of the pie crust and sprinkle feta over it.

In a small bowl, beat the eggs and milk together. Pour into the pie shell. Bake quiche for about 35 minutes, until cooked through.

Serves 3-4.