Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Veggie Pot Pie

There is something so satisfying about pot pie on a chilly night. This vegetarian version is chock full of in-season root vegetables, and of course you can use local dairy products as well.  Instead of a pastry crust, I like to make it with a tangy yogurt-based biscuit topping.  Skip the pepper if you don't have any frozen.  And, of course, you can always add some turkey or chicken if you like (a good use for some of those Thanksgiving leftovers in a few days!).

Filling
1 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium potatoes, cubed
4-5 small turnips or rutabaga, cubed (about 2-3 cups)
1 large carrot, in ¼-inch rounds
1 green pepper, diced (from the freezer!)
1 Tbsp dried parsley or 1/4 cup frozen
1-2 tsp dried tarragon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
2-3 Tbsp white flour
¾ cup milk, room temperature

Crust
1 ½ cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup plain yogurt
¼ cup milk

Preheat the oven to 425˚. Oil a 2-quart casserole dish.

Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the garlic and onions and sauté until the onions begin to turn translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the potatoes, turnips, and carrots and sauté over medium heat, stirring often, until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Add a little water if necessary to keep from sticking to the pan. Add the pepper and continue to sauté until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add the parsley, tarragon, salt, and pepper, and stir.

Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and mix thoroughly. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the milk and stir continuously until the mixture thickens. Add a bit more milk if desired.

While the vegetables are cooking, make the dough for the crust. Mix the flour, salt, and baking powder together in a medium bowl. Add the yogurt and mix until well blended. Add milk gradually until the dough becomes fairly easily spreadable.

Pour the vegetable mixture into the dish. Spread the dough over the top of the vegetables.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the crust is cooked through and the pot pie is bubbly.

Serves 4-6.

Variations:
1. Add tofu, chicken, or turkey.
2. Substitute 2 tsp dried oregano and 1-2 tsp dried thyme for the parsley and tarragon.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cardamom-Scented Root Vegetable Stew

This stew is based around carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and turnips or rutabaga, all available from local sources at this time of year. But the seasonings will take you somewhere a bit more exotic.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp grated or minced fresh ginger
2 Tbsp ground coriander
3 Tbsp ground cumin
¼ tsp turmeric
2 tsp cardamom
1 ½ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
5-6 cups water
2 veggie bouillon cubes
½ cup dried red lentils
½ cup dried brown lentils
1 15-ounce can chickpeas
2 medium potatoes, cubed
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
2-3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 small rutabaga or turnip, peeled and cubed (about 1 cup)
2 cups frozen peas

Heat the oil in a large soup pot. Add the onions and cook over medium heat for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are soft, translucent, and slightly browned.

Stir in the garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cardamom, salt, and pepper. Sauté for another 2-3 minutes to roast the spices.

Add the water, bouillon cubes, red lentils, and brown lentils. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Add the chickpeas, potatoes, sweet potato, carrots, and rutabaga or turnip. Return the soup to a boil, then lower the heat again and simmer for at least 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. The red lentils will disintegrate somewhat, thickening the stew.

Add the peas and cook another 5-6 minutes until they are heated through. Taste the stew and adjust seasonings as needed.

Serves 4-6.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Spicy Tofu Hotpot

This is another great way to use local garlic, bok choy, and shiitake mushrooms. I got this recipe from my mother-in-law, and it is a favorite in our house.

1-2 Tbsp sesame oil
8-10 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp grated or minced fresh ginger
10-12 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
6-8 cups water
2 veggie bouillon cubes
1 Tbsp brown sugar
¼ - 1/3 cup soy sauce
½ - 1 tsp chili paste (optional)
1 medium bunch bok choy, coarsely chopped (about 6 cups)
1 14-ounce package firm tofu, cubed
4 ounces angel hair, broken in 2-inch lengths

Heat the sesame oil in a large soup pot. Sauté the garlic and ginger over medium-high heat for about 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and cook 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. They will absorb all the oil.

Add 6 cups of water and the bouillon cubes to the pot. Stir in the brown sugar, soy sauce, and chili paste. Cover and bring to a boil.

When the water is boiling, add the bok choy and tofu to the pot. Lower the heat and simmer until the bok choy is tender, about 4-5 minutes.

Add the angel hair and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes.

If needed, add additional water and adjust seasonings. Serve hot.

Serves 4-5.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Squash for Thanksgiving

Local winter squash is an obvious candidate for the Thanksgiving table. There are zillions of things you could do with it, but here are a few ideas.

For a fairly simple side dish, try:
1. roasting cubes of butternut with garlic, fresh sage, and olive oil
2. cook and mash with roasted garlic, maybe also sage or thyme
3. roast acorn or delicata halves with a drizzle of maple syrup and serve with rind intact
4. if your're feeling bolder and your guests are up for something non-standard, try roasting or mashing with Indian spices; for a tamer variation on this, just use cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom, or even just cardamom

If you're feeling more ambitious about the squash, try:
1. Roasting and stuffing acorn squash with a savory combination of grains, herbs, nuts, and dried fruit (perhaps cranberries, pecans, wild rice, and sage)
2. make a savory pumpkin/squash pie - skip the sweet spices and sugar and sage and garlic or Indian seasonings
3. Make squash soup. Lots of possibilities here. One year a friend brought a North African inspired soup with pumpkin, tomato, and peanuts.
4. Try a Thai curry with a coconut based sauce for chunks of simmered squash.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes/Rutabaga

My husband's family has a rutabaga tradition at the holidays. It has two parts: the first is that they always have rutabaga and the second is that they always complain about it. While the purists in the family insist that it must be served straight up, others have been happy to experiment over the years. This is one preparation that is actually quite delicious, even if you're not really into rutabaga.

1 1/2 - 2 lbs potatoes, rutabaga, or combination
½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
1 head roasted garlic, each clove removed from skin
1-3 Tbsp butter
¼ - ½ cup milk

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the potatoes and/or rutabaga and ½ tsp of salt. Cook until tender, about 20 minutes.

Drain the potatoes/rutabaga and put them back in the pot. Add the garlic and mash the mixture together well. Add milk and butter to achieve desired consistency.

Serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bok Choy and Shiitake Stir-Fry

The shiitakes from New England Wild Edibles were excellent--silky and flavorful when cooked. I combined them with chicken and baby bok choy from my garden for a delicious stir-fry last night. I think the chicken worked particularly well with the greens and mushrooms, but you could also certain use tofu, tempeh, or another protein of your choice. Or, I suppose, just do the bok choy and shiitakes as a side dish. Serve this over rice.

2 Tbsp sesame oil
1-1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
6-7 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp minced ginger
1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
6-8 cups bok choy or baby bok choy, roughly chopped
1/4 - 1/3 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1-2 tsp Asian chili paste or sauce (optional)
Thickener: 2 tsp cornstarch + 1 Tbsp water

Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet. Add the chicken and stir-fry over high heat until cooked through. Set the chicken and its juices aside in a bowl.

Add a little canola or more sesame oil to the pan and add the garlic, ginger, and shiitakes. Stir-fry over medium-high heat until the mushrooms are tender. Add the bok choy and cook until it starts to wilt. Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, and chili paste (if using) and continue to cook until the bok choy is fully wilted. Stir in the thickener and cook for another moment or two, until the sauce thickens, then remove from heat.

Serve over rice.

Serves 3-4.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Local Produce at Green Fields Market

Usually my husband does the grocery shopping, but for one reason and another, I ended up doing it myself this weekend. With summer's bounty well behind us, it seemed like a good time to check out what produce was available from local sources. GFM makes an effort in this area, of course, but I was still surprised at just what a variety was available. Obvious things like different kinds of squash and greens, of course, but also sunchokes, parsley, carrots, potatoes, turnips, and lots more. The two surprise highlights for me were sweet potatoes (from Red Fire Farm in Granby) and shiitake mushrooms (from New England Wild Edibles in Colrain). There were also portabella and crimini mushrooms from Pennsylvania--not exactly local, but not that far, either. That was great news to me because I am not a wild mushroom hunter and was starting to miss mushrooms in general. I bought some of the shiitakes (though I had to put a few back when I realized they were so meaty and dense that I had initially loaded my bag with over $14 worth!) and will use them in a stir-fry later this week with some of the baby bok choy still flourishing in my garden.

Quiche with Greens and Feta

This made for a nice, easy Sunday night dinner. Local eggs, milk, and cheese are easy to come by, and greens are in season now--I used chard from the garden. Spinach would be good too, or even kale or collards.

1 9-inch pastry shell
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups coarsely chopped chard
1/2 cup crumbled feta
3 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).

While the crust pre-bakes, saute the garlic in olive oil for about 2 minutes. Add chard and saute until wilted. Spread chard in bottom of pie crust. Sprinkle feta over it.

In a small bowl, beat the eggs and milk together. Pour over the chard and feta. Bake quiche for about 35 minutes, until cooked through.

Serves 3-4.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Slow Cooker Lamb Cacciatore

Chicken cacciatore is the classic, of course, but I didn't have any chicken in the freezer so I thought I'd try it with lamb. Delicious! I used lamb riblets from Crabapple Farm, but this should work with chops or shoulder chops or any other type of bone-in cut that comes in smallish pieces. This recipe involves one big cheat in the form of bottled tomato sauce, but if you have your own homemade, by all means use it! Something with a fairly classic flavor is good--like simple marinara, tomato basil, or mushroom. I took green peppers out of the freezer and added onions that I stocked up on from the Farmers Market before it ended.

16-20 oz. bottled tomato sauce
1 medium onion, sliced lengthwise
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 green bell peppers, diced
Lamb for 4 servings (frozen is fine)
Salt and pepper to taste

Spread half of the tomato sauce, the onion, garlic, and pepper in the bottom of the slow cooker. Place the lamb on top (you can take it straight from the freezer). Pour the remaining tomato sauce over the lamb. Cook on Low for 7-8 hours. Serve over rice or pasta.

Serves about 4.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup

This was my first big use of veggies from the freezer. If you have time, throw together some biscuits between adding the pasta and serving.

2/3 cup dried white beans
2/3 cup dried chickpeas
2 bell peppers, diced
2 cups carrot rounds
2-3 cups chopped tomatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tsp dried oregano
2-3 tsp dried basil
2 cups vegetable bouillon
3/4 cup dried pasta (elbows or orzo work well)
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan for topping (optional)

Soak beans and chickpeas overnight in plenty of water. In the morning, drain, rinse, and place in slow cooker.

Add all ingredients except pasta and salt to the slow cooker with the beans and chickpeas. Add enough water to comfortably cover. Cook all day on low, or else on high for a few hours, then on low until ready to eat. When beans are tender, add salt.

Add pasta about 20-30 minutes before you are ready to eat. Top with grated Parmesan at the table if desired.

Serve 5-6.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Garlicky Greens

This an easy and delicious way to serve greens as a side dish--which, incidentally, allows you to use up a lot of them at once if you are blessed with an overabundance.

6-8 cloves garlic, minced
6-8 cups coarsely chopped greens (kale, chard, spinach, etc)
Salt and pepper to taste

Saute the garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the greens, in batches if necessary, and saute until wilted. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.

Serves about 4.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Roasted Garlic and Butternut Squash with Pasta

Winter squash and roasted garlic are a sweet and savory match made in heaven. Here they are combined in a full main dish. If you are using small heads of garlic from your garden or the farmers market (the type with only 4 or 5 cloves), you may want to use more than the amount called for.

1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
1-2 heads garlic, cloves separated and peeled
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 tsp lemon juice
1-1 ½ tsp salt
Plenty of freshly ground black pepper
2-3 tsp dried sage, or 1-2 Tbsp minced fresh sage
1 lb dried pasta (rotini, shells, or the like)
1 cup walnut pieces (optional)
1-1/2 cups minced Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400˚.

Place the squash, onion, and garlic in a roasting pan. Drizzle the olive oil and lemon juice over them and mix well. Sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and sage and toss to insure that everything is well coated.

Roast the squash mixture for about 30 minutes, or until the squash is tender. Stir once or twice while it cooks.

While the squash mixture is cooking, cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water. At the same time, if using the walnuts, toast them in a toaster oven (on a tray) or in a dry skillet until they start to brown and become aromatic.

When everything is cooked, toss the squash mixture together with the pasta in a large bowl. Sir in the Parmesan and, if using, the toasted walnut pieces. Serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Variation: Substitute 3 cups cooked barley for the pasta.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mom's Pumpkin Pie

I have always made pumpkin pie by this recipe, which comes from my mother. It's very good, but I think this year I might experiment a little bit, perhaps starting by using local cream in place of the evaporated milk. This pie freezes nicely after baking.

2 cups cooked mashed pumpkin or other winter squash
¼ cup white sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 12-ounce can evaporated whole milk
1 deep 10-inch pie crust or 2 shallow 8- or 9-inch crusts (unbaked)

Preheat the oven to 400°.

In a large bowl with high sides, combine the pumpkin, white sugar, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves with an electric mixer on medium speed.

Add the eggs and evaporated milk to the bowl with the pumpkin and continue to mix on medium speed until everything is well combined.

Pour the pumpkin filling into the piecrust(s).

Bake the pie(s) for about 50 minutes, until a knife inserted halfway between the center and the edge comes out clean. Cook on a rack.

Makes 1 deep 10-inch pie or 2 shallow 8- or 9-inch pies. Serves 8-10.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Local Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is coming right up, and what a great time to focus on local foods! By definition and tradition, the meal is all about what's in season in Massachusetts. I'll post some good recipes here as the holiday approaches. In the meantime, this would be a good time to order your turkey from Diemand Farm. I know you can do this at Fosters in Greenfield, and I imagine other places as well.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Pumpkin Ginger Bread

This is one of my favorite fall and winter treats. I always make this as a bread, but it's just as easy to make as muffins--just shorten the baking time (how much depends on the size of your muffins). I know that ginger is hardly a local product, but the pumpkin, milk, and eggs can be.

1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp dried ginger
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
1/3 cup milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup vegetable oil
¾ cup brown sugar
1 cup mashed cooked pumpkin (or other winter squash)
½ cup chopped candied ginger

Preheat the oven to 350˚. Grease and flour a 9x5-inch loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, then add the milk, vanilla, and oil and whisk together. Add the brown sugar and whisk until it is well blended. Add the pumpkin and whisk until fully blended. Stir in the candied ginger.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Fold together gently until just mixed.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Bake for 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let the bread cool in the pan for a few minutes before removing, then cool the rest of the way on a rack.

Makes one loaf.

Variation: Substitute dried cranberries for the candied ginger.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Pizza with Curried Greens and Onions

This might sound like an odd combination, but it works surprisingly well and it's another good use for cool weather greens. You let the onion caramelize a bit to bring out its sweetness, and fennel seeds add an intriguing note to the curry. A whole wheat crust is ideal for this pizza.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, in long, thin slices
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
¼ tsp fennel seeds (optional)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
Dash nutmeg
Dash turmeric
½ tsp garam masala (optional)
5-6 cups chopped fresh chard, spinach, or kale
¼ - ½ cup chopped cilantro (fresh or frozen, optional in a pinch)
¾ tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
¾ cup tomato sauce, or sliced fresh tomatoes
1 14-inch pizza crust, preferably whole wheat
4-6 ounces shredded mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 450˚.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until it begins to caramelize and turn brown, about 6-7 minutes.

Add the garlic and ginger and sauté another minute. Add the fennel seeds (if using), cumin, coriander, nutmeg, turmeric, and garam masala (if using), and cook for another 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the greens and continue to sauté until they are well wilted and tender, about 3-5 minutes. Add salt and pepper and stir well.

Spread the tomato sauce over the pizza crust. Cover the sauce with the greens mixture, then top with cheese.

Bake 15-18 min, until cheese begins to brown.

Serves 3-4.