Sunday, December 27, 2009

New England Spinach Salad

Still away for the holidays - this recipe comes from my mother-in-law Jean. If you happen on some local spinach (scarce but not unheard of at this time of year, when it is being grown strictly in unheated greenhouses), try this.

Use quantities that please you.

Sharp cheddar, in 1/2-inch cubes
Tart apple, in 1/2-inch chunks
Toasted walnuts (optional)
Hard-boiled egg, cubed (optional)

For the dressing, combine equal parts balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, and olive oil. Really yummy.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Happy Holidays

I am headed to my in-laws' in Cincinnati for the next two weeks - so probably no new posts until January. My fridge is stuffed with carrots, rutabagas, and celeriac from our last garden harvest and last CSA box, so I expect I'll be looking for creative things to do with them on my return. In the meantime, happy holidays, everyone!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Winter CSAs and Farmers Markets

If you missed my post about this several weeks ago, CISA has a great resource page for winter CSAs, farm stands, and farmers markets. Check it out!

According to CISA, Red Fire Farm in Granby still has winter CSA shares available - pickup is at the farm every two weeks December-March. In addition to storage crops, Red Fire grows cold hardy crops in its greenhouses all winter long. Last year they had by far the biggest stand at Winter Fare in Greenfield and I was astounded by the array on offer.

Another exciting new addition to the local winter offerings is a weekly winter farmers market in Northampton. It is held Saturdays from 9-2 in the basement of Thornes marketplace. A list of other winter markets, mostly one-day events, can be found here.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Peach Chutney

I think this is my last batch of chutney for a while. I made this with some of the Clarkdale peaches stored away in the freezer. It's fine to leave the skin on the peaches if you didn't peel them before freezing. You can get star anise in the bulk section at Green Fields Market, and probably with spices in most well-stocked grocery stores. But if you can't find it, try substituting 1 tsp fennel seeds (you'll need to use the cheesecloth in that case) or for a somewhat different flavor, add some ground allspice.

3 star anise pods
1 tsp whole peppercorns
8 cups frozen sliced peaches (about 2 1/2 quart-sized freezer bags, well filled), thawed
2 medium onions, diced
1 Tbsp grated ginger root
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 - 1/2 cup sugar
2-3 whole dried chili peppers (or add minced frozen ones to taste)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
Lemon juice to taste
Salt to taste

Place the star anise and peppercorns in a tea infuser or tie them up in a piece of cheesecloth.

Combine all ingredients in a large, wide-bottomed pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens to desired consistency (probably an hour or more). Taste and adjust sugar, salt, and lemon juice if needed. Remove chilis and star anise and peppercorns.

Makes 5-6 cups. Can be canned, frozen, or refrigerated.

Polenta with Spinach, Leeks, and Blue Cheese

This weekend we are leaving for the holidays for two weeks, so my mission this week is to use up all perishable items in the fridge. Last night that meant the rest of the spinach and a lovely bunch of leeks, along with the last of some delicious Roquefort style cheese from Vermont.

olive oil
2-3 leeks
6-8 oz. spinach, stemmed and roughly torn
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 cup polenta or coarse corn meal
3/4 cup tomato sauce
1-2 oz. crumbled blue cheese
2-3 oz. shedded mozzarella

Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet. Add the leeks and saute until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Add the spinach, in batches if necessary, and saute until tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.

While you cook the veggies, bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the salt, then whisk in the polenta and quickly lower the heat to a simmer. Switch to a spoon and continue stirring frequently until it thickens nicely. (I always do this with the lid over the pot to prevent burns from spitting polenta.)

Oil a 10-inch ovenproof skillet or similar pan, then spread the polenta in the bottom in an even layer. Top with the tomato sauce, then spread the leek and spinach mixture over it. Sprinkle with the blue cheese, then the mozzarella. Place under the broiler for 3-4 minutes, until cheese begins to brown.

Serve hot.

Serves 3-4.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Pizza with Roasted Garlic and Kale

Even with the snow and freezing temperatures, the kale in my garden is still going. And we got a big bunch of it in our last CSA box. It goes nicely here with the roasted garlic and a bit of sage.

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
3 cups well chopped kale
3/4 cup tomato sauce
1 head roasted garlic, cloves peeled and coarsely chopped
1 generous pinch dried sage
Salt and pepper to taste
3-4 oz. shredded mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Lightly paint the pizza crust with olive oil.

Heat a little more oil in a large skillet and saute the kale until just tender.

Spread the tomato sauce over the pizza crust. Top with the kale, then spread the garlic over it. Sprinkle with sage, salt, aand pepper. Top with mozzarella and bake for about 15 minutes, until the crust is done and cheese just begins to brown.

Serves 3-4.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pasta with Spinach Bacon Tomato Sauce

After this snow, we probably won't be getting any more spinach from our CSA. But the last box came with a big bag of it, and I still have more in the fridge.

I pulled a container of tomato sauce out of the freezer at lunchtime and left it on the counter; by late afternoon it had thawed enough to put it on the stove for this meal. If you are using unseasoned tomato sauce, add some basil and oregano.

1 lb pasta
3 cups tomato sauce
1/4 lb bacon, cooked (about 5 slices) and chopped
3 hardboiled eggs, chopped
1/2 lb spinach, stemmed and roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan for topping

Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water, then drain and toss with a little olive oil.

While the water boils and the pasta cooks, heat the tomato sauce in a large saucepan, then add the bacon, eggs, and spinach. When the spinach is thoroughly wilted, taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Sauce the pasta and serve.

Serves 4-6.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Spicy Green and Purple Korean Cabbage Salad

Cabbage is not my favorite vegetable, but it's one of those winter storage staples and has been showing up in our CSA box. This recipe is one way to use a bunch of it at once. Carrots and fennel (optional) add notes of intriguing sweetness, and the whole thing is coated with a hot and spicy dressing. Be warned: this salad is delicious but is not for the faint of heart (or palate). Although the dressing is allowed to sit overnight to blend and mellow, fresh garlic, ginger, and chili paste give it a hefty kick. Also note that the preparation needs to be started the night before. The good news is that the salad will keep for several days in a sealed container in the refrigerator. This dish was inspired by a recipe in Didi Emmons’s Vegetarian Planet.

1 medium red cabbage, thinly sliced
1 medium savoy or napa cabbage, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
3 medium carrots, in thin 1-inch lengths
1 large fennel bulb and stalks, thinly sliced
1/4 cup sea salt

1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil
2-3 tsp chili paste
4-5 garlic cloves, finely minced
2-3 Tbsp finely minced fresh ginger
1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed, ground, or minced

Combine the red cabbage, savoy or napa cabbage, red onion, carrots, and fennel in a large bowl. Add water until the vegetables are just covered. Sprinkle with the salt, then stir gently to mix and dissolve. Cover and set aside.

Combine the rice vinegar, canola oil, chili paste, garlic, ginger, and fennel seeds in a small bowl or jar. Cover and set aside. Let both the vegetables and dressing sit overnight at room temperature.

The following day, drain the vegetables but do not rinse them, then toss them with the dressing, making sure everything gets well coated. If not serving the salad immediately, place it in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Serves 5-6.

Friday, December 4, 2009

My Garden Is Still Growing

What a crazy fall this has been, weather-wise. We started out with cold and frosts in September, but lately is has felt like late October has been going on for weeks and weeks. I keep wondering when winter will arrive and the ground will freeze. On the up side, while hard frosts took the tender veggies early this year, the cold-tolerant ones just keep going and going. We've been getting an amazing array of vegetables in our CSA box, and we still have all this in the garden: lettuce, kale, chard, cilantro, parsley, chives, carrots, rutabagas, sorrel, sage, oregano, mint, thyme, mustard greens, radicchio, arugula, and a couple other salad greens whose names I can't remember. (Of course, in order to have any of those things in a salad at dinner, I have to get outside and pick them at lunch time, as it is well dark by the time my workday is over...)

Ginger Peach Jam

Since I didn't have time to make jam when the fruit was in season, I am doing it now with frozen fruit. Works just fine. Two well stuffed quart-sized freezer bags is about 6 cups.

6 cups frozen sliced peaches (skin on is fine)
1-3 tsp grated ginger root
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice

Thaw the peaches (on the counter, in the fridge, or in the microwave). Combine all ingredients in a Dutch oven and simmer until consistency is jammy, about 45-60 minutes, stirring frequently. Mash the peaches as you go. If desired, use an immersion blender at the end (I didn't bother).

Can the jam, freeze, or refrigerate. (If you choose to freeze it, make sure there is plenty of headroom. If using glass jars, do not seal until frozen.)

Makes about 4 cups.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pizza with Turkey, Spinach, and Cheddar

Yes, still working through the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers...but I have to say, this pizza was delicious and not all that reminiscent of the holiday. The spinach and cilantro came from our CSA. If you would like to punch up the flavor some more, you could add a minced chipotle in adobo sauce while sauteing the greens.

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
2-3 cups spinach, stemmed
3/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
3-4 oz. shredded sharp cheddar
1 cup shredded cooked turkey
Salt and pepper to taste
Chili powder

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Lightly paint the crust with olive oil.

Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet and quickly saute the spinach and cilantro, just until wilted (less than a minute). Remove from heat.

Spread about two-thirds of the cheddar on the pizza crust. Top with the spinach mixture and the turkey. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and chili powder to taste. Top with remaining cheese.

Bake for about 15 minutes, until the crust is done but still a little soft and the cheese begins to brown.

Serves 3-4.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Blueberry-Chipotle Chutney

After seeing Tinky Weisblat's recent post on chipotle cranberry sauce, I was inspired to try a chipotle-fruit chutney. After the happy results I had with blueberry salsa, some of my frozen blueberries seemed like a good base. The resulting chutney is sweet and hot and savory all at once--delicious. Try it with chicken or pork, or perhaps with soft cheese and crackers or bread.

I canned some of this, but you could also freeze it. Or just refrigerate--it should keep for a few weeks.

5 cups frozen blueberries
2 medium apples, cored, peeled, and finely chopped
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (2 if you really like heat), finely minced
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 - 1/2 cup sugar
Salt to taste

Combine blueberries, apples, onion, chipotle, and cider vinegar in a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer until the fruit is well cooked, then add 1/3 cup sugar. Taste and add more if desired. Continue simmering over low heat until the chutney thickens to desired consistency (it should be jammy). Add salt to taste.

Makes about 4 cups.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Post-Thanksgiving Turkey Pot Pie

After a couple meals of leftovers that were exact repeats of the big feast, it was time for a meal of leftovers that at least took a different form. This pot pie made a big dent in what remained in the fridge--though now we'll also be eating leftover pot pie for another day. I love dishes like this because they are so flexible - throw in whatever seems plausible.

Turkey pot pie with biscuit top
In this case, I managed to use leftover turkey (of course), green beans that had been thawed but didn't make it onto the table, the remaining gravy, the remaining parsley potatoes, and some carrots leftover from the crudite platter. Oh, and the leftover pastry dough from the pies. To that, I added some onion and celeriac. The results were great and made the leftovers feel at least somewhat like something new.

Since the whole point of this is to use up whatever you have, it seems silly to give a precise recipe. Basically, you just want to combine cooked vegetables with shredded turkey and either leftover gravy or a quick sauce (make a roux, add milk or stock and simmer, stirring, until gravy-like). I added a little dried sage, figuring it would go well with the seasonings already present. Then top with either pastry dough (rolled out to 1/8-inch thick) or a biscuit dough. You could even use leftover mashed potatoes, for a dish halfway between a pot pie and a shepherd's pie. Bake at 375 for around 30 minutes, until the pot pie is bubbly and the crust is golden brown and cooked through.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pasta with Squash and Winter Pesto

I made this for dinner last night and it was incredibly good. Definitely exceeded expectations. Something about all the different flavors and textures just really worked. The recipe is an adaptation of this one from the New York Times.

1 medium butternut squash
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 lb kale or kale and spinach combined, stems removed (and center rib for kale)
1 lb cut pasta (such as penne)
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
Lemon juice to taste
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts (or use pine nuts)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Peel the squash with a vegetable peeler, then cut in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut into 1-inch cubes. Place the cubes in a large baking pan and drizzle generously with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper, then toss to coat. Roast for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice, until squash is tender.

While the squash roasts, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare a large bowl of ice water on the side. Blanch the greens for about 45 seconds, then scoop out with tongs or a slotted spoon and dunk in the ice water. Drain in a colander and squeeze out as much liquid as possible with your hands.

Bring the pot of water back to a boil and cook the pasta. While you do that, make the pesto: Process the greens and garlic in a food process, then add lemon juice, salt and pepper, and olive oil to taste. Use enough oil to give it the consistency of pesto.

When the pasta is done, drain it (reserving a little of the cooking water) then toss with the pesto. Add a little of the cooking water to loosen the sauce as needed. Add the cooked squash and toss to coat.

Serve hot, topped at the table with nuts if desired.

Serves about 6.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Baked French Toast

This is an easy but festive breakfast/brunch meal to serve a crowd. Make the most of our local milk and eggs! To make the morning assembly easy, slice the bread and combine the other ingredients in a bowl the night before and store in the fridge.

This is fantastic with blueberry-strawberry sauce, but also great with maple syrup. This recipe is adapted from on in Didi Emmons's Vegetarian Planet.

Update, 9/15/12: I have made this with other types of bread with great success.  Any moderately soft loaf will do, and whole grain bread works fine.  I made this once with whole wheat cranberry walnut bread and it was fantastic.  Oatmeal bread is good too, as is buttermilk wheat.  Feel free to experiment, especially if you prefer something with some whole grain in it.

5 eggs, beaten
4 cups milk (I used a combination of whole and skim, but use whatever you have)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 baguette in 1-inch slices (about 24 slices), preferably slightly stale

Butter a 10x15-inch baking pan and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger in a bowl.

Lay the bread slices out in the baking pan, overlapping slightly. Pour the custard mixture over it. If you have time, let it soak for 30 minutes or so before baking. Bake for about 35 minutes, until custard is set.

Serve with maple syrup, butter, and/or fruit sauce.

Serves about 6.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Blueberry-Strawberry Sauce

We had friends over for brunch this morning and I made this sauce to go with baked French toast. Superb! The berries were all frozen - blueberries from The Benson Place and strawberries from Upinngil Farm.

3 cups frozen blueberries
3 cups frozen strawberries
1/4 - 1/2 cup sugar
Up to 1 tsp grated fresh ginger

Combine all ingredients in a wide-bottomed pan (such as a Dutch oven). Add a splash of water and simmer over low-medium heat until the berries soften and the sauce thickens to desired consistency (30-60 minutes).

Serve with French toast, pancakes or waffles, or over ice cream.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cranberry Sauce Ideas

Cranberries available around here aren't strictly local, but it's not hard to find ones grown in Massachusetts at least. And Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce just wouldn't be right.

I like to make whole berry sauce, the kind where you dump fresh or frozen whole berries into a saucepan with a little water and some sugar and cook until they pop and become a chunky jelly. It's great just like this, but I have trouble resisting the urge to jazz it up at least a little. My favorite thing to do is add a little grated fresh ginger - maybe a tablespoon or so to a pound of berries.

Other ideas:
1. Add some other fruit(s), like blueberries
2. Cook the berries with some whole spices, like cloves and cinnamon sticks - remove the spices later. Or try whole star anise for something a little different.
3. Use orange juice instead of water or add some citrus zest.
4. Add chopped dried fruit and/or nuts.
5. Any combination of the above.

Our Thanksgiving Menu

This is the menu I have planned for Thanksgiving this year. We'll be serving 14. Nearly all major ingredients are coming from local farms or our garden.

Turkey and gravy
Sausage-apple stuffing (probably a variation on this recipe)
Sweet potato pone
Green beans almondine
Parsley potatoes
Mashed rutabaga and potatoes with roasted garlic
Mashed winter squash with cider vinegar and herbs
Waldorf salad
Cranberry sauce

Plus pie, of course: apple, pumpkin, peach, blueberry, and cherry. With Snow's ginger and vanilla ice cream.

Before the meal, we'll munch on veggies and dip, along with some local cheese and crackers.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Late Fall Crudite Platter

We usually have veggies and dip on hand as appetizers before Thanksgiving dinner. But what do you serve if you're trying to keep it local in late November? Carrots, of course. But other root vegetables can also be great raw: try radishes, daikon, celeriac, kohlrabi, and turnips (especially smaller ones). For all of these, peel and cut into sticks or slices. Depending on the nature of the dip you are serving, apple and pear slices can also work well.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tortilla Pie

This used up the remaining sweet potatoes from our last CSA box. We get another one tomorrow, and I hope it has more!

If you have a food processor with a grater attachment, use it to shred the sweet potatoes. In fact, to really speed things along, you can do the onion that way, too.

olive oil
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped (red onion is nice)
3/4 - 1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded
1 1/2 - 2 cups cooked black beans (or 1 15-oz can)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2-1 tsp chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
2 10-inch tortillas
3-4 oz. shredded sharp cheddar
Salsa for topping (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and onion and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the sweet potato, beans, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Saute over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until sweet potato is tender, about 5-7 minutes.

Lightly oil a 10-inch oven proof skillet or similar pan. Place one tortilla in the bottom and sprinkle with half the cheddar. Spread half the sweet potato mixture over the cheese, flattening it out as you do so. Place the second tortilla on top. Spread the remaining sweet potato mixture over the tortilla, then top with the remaining cheese.

Bake for about 15 minutes, until cheese begins to brown.

Serve hot. If desired, top with salsa at the table.

Serves 3-4.

Crock Pot Chicken with Blueberries and Chutney

If it wasn't for my crock pot, I would probably never make it out to the Y after work to exercise. I love to do chicken because it is as simple as taking frozen chicken parts out of the freezer and putting them directly in the crock pot - no browning or other treatment needed. And the result is always delicious; this is a flavorful way of preparing chicken even if you only season with salt and pepper. I put it on in the morning, then set the rice cooker going before leaving for the Y in the late afternoon. When I come back an hour-plus later, dinner is ready.

4 chicken legs (frozen is fine; if thawed, reduce cooking time)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup chutney (I used my tomato-ginger chutney)

Place the chicken legs in the crock pot and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Spread the chutney over the meat, then sprinkle in the blueberries.

Cook on Low for 8-9 hours.

Serves 4.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Spicy Beef and Onion Stir-Fry

This is a great way to use leftover steak (or planned-over steak). Sirloin, flank, or London broil are all good bets. It's especially good if the steak was well flavored with a marinade or spice rub. If the steak is plain, use the optional spices in the recipe; they are not needed otherwise.

If you don't have leftovers, slice the meat thinly, then marinate in some soy sauce (add some garlic, ginger, and sesame oil if you have the time). Cook it first, then remove from the pan while you cook the onions, and add it back in at the end.

Canola oil
8 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium onions, sliced lengthwise
1/4 tsp chili powder (optional)
1/4 tsp paprika (optional)
1 lb cooked steak, sliced thin
1/4 cup soy sauce
Asian chili sauce to taste
Salt and pepper if needed

Heat some canola oil in a wok or large skillet. Add the garlic and onions and stir-fry over high heat until tender. Add the chili powder and paprika if using, and stir-fry for another minute or so. Add the steak, soy sauce, and chili sauce and stir well. Cook until the steak is heated through. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Serve over rice.

Serves about 4.

Brookfield Farm Winter CSA

A reader asked me to post information about winter CSA shares being offered by Brookfield Farm in Amherst. I have no personal experience with Brookfield, but this reader said she got a winter share last year and it was great. It's $125 for around 120 pounds of food. A share includes produce every other week from December-March, self-served out of the farm's root cellar. See the website for details.

Beef Share

This weekend we picked up our share of a cow from Freeman Farm in Heath. Back in March, a friend coordinated several families to buy a whole cow for slaughter in the fall. It took some coordination with the farm and the slaughterhouse, but we ended up paying about $4.87 a pound for a share that included about two-thirds ground beef and stew meat and about 1/3 other cuts (mostly a variety of steaks). With the meat divided 11 ways, a share ended up being about 30 pounds. (We actually got 1.5 shares, so around 45 pounds.) The freezer is now well-stocked with local, grass-fed beef.

If you're interested in doing something similar, Freeman takes orders in March. There are other farms in the area with similar offerings. I have also seen ads for fall sales of whole animals, halves, and quarters. I'm guessing you get a somewhat better deal by ordering in the spring, but that option also involves a little more coordination. Check CISA's database for beef producers (this is also an option for pork and lamb).

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Whole Wheat Popovers

With whole wheat pastry flour available from Upinngil Farm, these can be made almost entirely from local ingredients (no Pioneer Valley salt to be found, as far as I know). They go well with soups and stews, and are also nice with butter and jam.

4 large eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 375. Grease 18 smallish or 12 largish muffin tins (or popover tins if you happen to have them).

Combine the eggs and milk in a medium bowl. Stir in the flour and salt. It's okay if a few lumps remain. Ladle the batter into the muffin cups, filling them half to two-thirds of the way full.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the popovers are puffed up and golden and a little crispy on the outside.

As soon as you remove them from the oven, pierce each popover with a sharp knife in one or two places to let the steam escape. They will inevitably collapse at least somewhat, but will hold their shape better if you do this.

Serve warm.

Sweet Potato Leek Soup

This is a sweet and creamy variation on the more traditional potato leek soup, inspired by the sweet potatoes and leeks in our CSA share. Whole wheat popovers made a nice accompaniment.

1 Tbsp butter
3 fat leeks, sliced
2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 medium potatoes (about 1 lb), peeled and cubed (smaller than sweet potatoes)
Water or chicken/vegetable stock
2 tsp cider vinegar
1 cup milk (optional)
1/2 - 1 tsp paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large pot, then add the leeks and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes and potatoes and enough water and/or stock to just cover them. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.

When the sweet potatoes and potatoes are tender, puree the soup using an immersion blender (or do it in batches in a blender or food processor). Stir in the cider vinegar, milk if using, paprika, and salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Serve hot. Serves 4-6.

1. Omit the paprika and season to taste with sage or rosemary.
2. Add one or more minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.
3. Add 1/2 lb cooked crumbled Italian sausage (sweet or hot)
4. Add silken tofu before blending, for some additional protein

Friday, November 13, 2009

Winter Squash with Roasted Garlic

This is both incredibly good and incredibly easy. I have served it at Thanksgiving and watched it all disappear, but it's also good for any other time as well. This recipe makes enough to serve about 4 (maybe 6 if you have a large menu), but it is easily expanded.

1 medium butternut squash or equivalent
1 head roasted garlic, cloves separated and peeled
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the squash in half the long way and scoop out the strings and seeds. Place the squash cut side down in a baking pan with about 1/4 inch of water in the bottom. Bake for 45-60 minutes, until squash is tender (test by piercing it with a fork or knife).

When squash is done, allow it to cool until you can comfortably handle it. Scoop the flesh out of the skin and mash. Add the garlic and either mash it all well together or puree. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves about 4.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pizza with Arugula, Goat Cheese, and Pear

We got some arugula in our CSA box last week. It is one of those cold-tolerant greens that keeps producing happily into late fall and even early winter, especially if in a cold frame or under row covers. Here I combined it with some local goat cheese and pears. The result is a pleasing study in contrasts - soft pear and crisp crust, sweet fruit and salty cheese.

1 14-inch pizza crust
4-6 oz. crumbled goat cheese
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
4-5 cups coarsely chopped arugula
2 cups sliced pear (peeled)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Mash the goat cheese and olive oil together in a small bowl until it reaches a nicely spreadable consistency. Spread this mixture over the pizza crust.

Heat a little olive oil in a skillet and saute the arugula until just wilted - a minute or so. Spread the arugula over the goat cheese, then arrange the sliced pear on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, until crust is done and cheese and fruit just begin to brown.

Serves 2-3.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thanksgiving Pie Ideas

Pie for Thanksgiving is a big deal in my family, especially on my husband's side. Not only does there need to be plenty for the big day, with family sticking around all weekend, there needs to be plenty of leftovers! Apple and pumpkin are non-negotiable necessities and not to be messed with, but we always do at least a couple other kinds as well and there is always room for a little creativity. Peach, blueberry, and cherry are all frequent additions to the table. Last year I made a triple cranberry meringue pie (I think I found the recipe on the New York Times website), which was quite tasty but involved too many steps to make again for a holiday where food prep time is at a premium. Here are some other ideas to jazz things up without straying too far from tradition:

1. For apple pie, add a handful of cranberries
2. For pumpkin pie, add minced candied ginger or substitute maple syrup for some or all of the sugar
3. For peach pie, add some minced fresh or candied ginger
4. For peach, cherry, or berry pies, top with streusel topping instead of pastry crust
5. Mix apple and pear in a pie, or apple, pear, and poached quince
6. Mix different berries in one pie (e.g. blueberry, strawberry, and blackberry)
7. For berry, cherry, or peach pie, add a teaspoon of almond or hazelnut extract to the pastry dough
8. Combine peaches with blueberries or blackberries

And, of course, don't forget to have plenty of Snow's or Bart's ice cream on hand for the a la mode part. Vanilla is classic, of course, but we have found that Snow's ginger goes really well with most fruit pies - skeptical relatives have been converted!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Miso Soup with Soba Noodles and Kale

Apparently I was on sort of an Asian kick this weekend. Here's a tasty soup I put together in an attempt to use some of the items in our CSA box.

4 cups water
4 cups chicken or veggie stock (or more water)
5-6 cups chopped kale (I used lacinato)
2 cups sliced carrots
2 cups sliced daikon
12-16 oz. firm tofu, in 1/2-inch cubes
8 oz. uncooked soba noodles
4-6 Tbsp miso paste
Salt to taste

Heat the water and stock to boiling in a large soup pot, then add the kale, carrots, daikon, and tofu and reduce heat to a simmer.

While the veggies simmer, cook the soba noodles separately according to the directions on the package. Drain and rinse with cold water. When the vegetables are tender, add the noodles to the soup pot.

Scoop 1 cup or so of broth out of the soup pot. Stir the miso paste into it, then return to the pot. Taste soup and add salt as desired.

Serves about 6.

Spicy Asian Linguine with Vegetables

This is a dish I sometimes make when I'm in the mood for a stir-fry but want dinner on the table faster than it takes to cook rice. Like any good stir-fry, you can vary the vegetables and protein with whatever is in season or on hand. You can also toss in frozen vegetables, such as peppers, though they will be soft when cooked. This is the version I made this weekend.

12 ounces dry linguine
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp canola oil
6-7 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
2 large carrots, sliced
1 medium red pepper, in thin slices
1 1/2 cups sliced daikon
1/4 cup soy sauce, plus more for topping if desired
2 tsp chili paste
8-12 oz. tempeh, tofu, or cooked chicken, cubed
2 Tbsp sesame seeds, lightly toasted (optional)

Cook the linguine in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain, toss with the sesame oil, and set aside.

Heat the canola oil in a wok or large skillet. Stir-fry the garlic and ginger over high heat for about 1 minute. Add the mushrooms (and tempeh if that's the protein you're using) and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes until they start to get tender. Add the carrots, red pepper, daikon, chili paste, and soy sauce, and stir-fry for another 3-4 minutes until the vegetables are tender but still a bit crisp. If using tofu, add it and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently but being careful not to it break down. If using cooked chicken, toss it in at the last minute.

Add the cooked linguine to the wok or skillet with the vegetables and toss to mix well.

Top with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds. Serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Buying Local Through the Winter

Buying and eating local food through the winter is getting easier each year. Even if you don't have a big freezer or a root cellar, you can sign up for a winter CSA, head for winter farmers markets, or stop by the farm stands that remain open. CISA has put together a great resource page with information and links to sources up and down the Valley - check it out!

There will be a one-day farmers market in Gill in January, plus Winter Fare in Greenfield in February and a new Winter Fare in Northampton in January. According to CISA, Turners Falls is also working on putting together a winter market. Additionally, the Brattleboro winter farmers market is happening every Saturday through the end of the year, then twice a month for January-March.

Apple Edam Pizza

I have been toying with this recipe idea for a while, along with a few others that are variations on the theme. Finally got around to trying it out - inspired, in part, by an apple pizza blog post by Tinky Weisblat (who may be familiar to Franklin County folks as the force behind the Pudding Hollow Pudding Contest and the writer of the Recorder's Blue Plate Specials monthly features on the Food page) with a different take on the concept. (I want to try Tinky's too - it looks great!)

This came out really well and I will definitely make it again. It is simple to make and the balance between sweet apples and savory cheese and seasonings was just right. I used an unyeasted thin crust with whole wheat flour substituted for one quarter of the white flour, which worked really well with this particular combination of ingredients.

1 14-inch pizza crust (whole wheat is good)
olive oil
3-4 ounces shredded Edam (such as Chase Hill Farm's Dutch Gold)
1 medium apple, peeled, cored and sliced 1/8-1/4 inch thick
2 shallots, minced
1/4 tsp dried sage
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 for a standard crust or 500 for an unyeasted thin crust.

Paint the crust lightly with olive oil, then sprinkle with the Edam. Arrange the apples on top of the cheese in a single layer. Sprinkle the shallots over the apples, then carefully sprinkle the sage on top. Add salt and pepper as desired.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until crust is done and cheese begins to brown.

Serves 2-3.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Late Season CSA Shares Still Available

Picadilly Farm still has a few shares left for its late season CSA. We signed up and will be getting our first box tomorrow - with what sounds like an incredible array and quantity of food. Everything from sweet potatoes to cilantro to beets to sweet peppers (!). See the farm's website for details. Pick-up options include Bart's Cafe in Greenfield, The Works Cafe in Keene, NH, and the farm itself in Winchester, NH.


On his last trip to Clarkdale for apples and pears, my husband also picked up some quinces, which I didn't know they grew.

My prior experience with quinces is limited - out in California, some friends had a neighbor with a big bush of them and served us up some for dessert, cooked with a bit of sugar. They had a lovely, spicy flavor; I found it hard to believe my friend had not added spices. Quinces are inedible raw, though. They smell incredible - a sweet, intoxicating scent - but are tough and astringent unless cooked.

The only one of my cookbooks that does more than mention quinces in passing, if at all, is Deborah Madison's Local Flavors. She offers several recipes and, helpfully, notes that quince cooked in syrup will keep in the fridge for months (you could also can it), so that you can easily add a bit to apple pies, pear tarts, etc. She also says that a long-steeped infusion of quince seeds and peels is good for a sore throat.

I have not yet had a chance to experiment with the quinces Donovan bought, but the good news is that unless bruised or damaged, ripe quinces will keep for a long time. For now they are pleasantly scenting my dining room from the fruit bowl. If you're intrigued, pick some up yourself - I am not sure how long they will be available.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Butternut Polenta with Shiitake Tomato Sauce

This is sort of a sneaky squash dish - the flavor is subtle, so children and other suspicious parties might not realize it's there. But it adds a pleasantly sweet note to the polenta here. You could easily serve the polenta on its own as a side dish (Thanksgiving idea?); here I topped it with sauce for a main dish. If you do that, stir in a little grated Parmesan with the squash. (Likewise, the sauce would be be good over pasta, too.) I used butternut squash because the flesh is smooth, but you could substitute another variety of your choice. You could also toss some cooked beans or chicken into the sauce to make it a bit more substantial.

Paul Lagreze of New England Wild Edibles told me that we are rapidly nearing the end of his shiitake season, so if you spot any be sure to snap them up. They won't be back until the spring.

3 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 cup polenta cornmeal (or other coarse cornmeal)
1 1/2 - 2 cups cooked butternut squash, well mashed
1/4 tsp dried sage (or more to taste)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, minced
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz. shiitakes, thinly sliced
3-4 cups chopped tomatoes (1 28-oz can or frozen equivalent; if using frozen whole tomatoes, thaw and drain first)
1/2 tsp dried sage
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan for topping

Make the sauce first, so it can simmer while you cook the polenta. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or deep skillet. Add the shallot and garlic and saute over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the shiitakes and saute until tender, another 3-5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, sage, and salt and pepper and simmer over low heat.

To make the polenta, bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan (nonstick makes for easy cleanup). Add the salt, then slowly whisk in the cornmeal. Immediately lower the heat and continue to stir, switching to a spoon. Be careful not to get burned as bubbles pot and spit. Cook until the polenta thickens nicely, then remove from heat and stir in the squash and sage.

Serve in bowls, with a generous helping of sauce over a scoop of polenta. Top with Parmesan at the table.

Serves about 4.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas

Looking for Thanksgiving recipe ideas now that it's November? I have tagged a bunch here with the label "thanksgiving" and will continue to do so through the month: Enjoy!

Green Salad with Pears and Feta

Tossed green salads can be dressed up remarkably by the addition of fruit and cheese in place of the usual carrots and so forth. This is an especially good option at this time of year, when the salad greens are still going strong but the tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers, and so forth are gone.

For this one, use a mix of salad greens if you can - though just lettuce works, too. Slice about 1 pear for a salad to serve four people. If not serving immediately, toss the slice pear with a little lemon juice to prevent browning. Add crumbled feta (from Chase Hill Farm, perhaps) and, if desired, a few toasted walnuts or pecans. Serve with a vinaigrette of your choice; something a little sweet is good.

Blueberry Maple Cornbread

This you must try.

I used Whole Milk Maple yogurt from Sidehill Farm, which you also must try if you live in the Pioneer Valley and have somehow missed it so far. I also used a mix of ground sweet corn and regular cornmeal, which is lovely, but all regular cornmeal is good, too.

Butter for the pan
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup maple yogurt
1/4 cup maple syrup (ideally grade B for best flavor)
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 egg, beaten
1 cup frozen blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8x8-inch baking pan.

Combine the cornmeal, whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Combine the yogurt, maple syrup, oil, and egg in a smallish bowl. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then gently stir in the blueberries. Scrape the batter into the greased pan and smooth out as best you can.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, until golden on top and cooked through in the middle. The end result will be moist.

Serves 5-6.

1. Just blueberry: use plain or vanilla yogurt in place of maple yogurt and substitute sugar or honey for the maple syrup.
2. Just maple: leave out the blueberries.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pizza with Squash, Black Beans, and Goat Cheese

This is a great use for leftover black beans that are already cooked and well seasoned. It's fine if they have some other ingredients mixed in, like onions and peppers.

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
1 cup cooked black beans
1 tsp lemon juice
1 hot pepper, minced (frozen is fine) or chili flakes to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (or 1-2 thawed cubes from the freezer)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup cooked mashed winter squash or pumpkin
3 oz. crumbled goat cheese
2-3 oz. shredded mozzarella (optional)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Paint the pizza crust lightly with olive oil.

Toss the beans with the lemon juice, hot pepper, cilantro, salt and pepper. Spread the squash over the pizza crust, then top with the bean mixture. Dot with goat cheese, then top with the mozzarella.

Bake for about 15 minutes, until the crust is done and the cheese just begins to brown.

Serves 3-4.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pumpkin Bars

This recipe comes from my friend Amy, who got it from her mom - original source unknown. Winter squash should work fine in place of the pumpkin. I think I may experiment with it a little, but for now, here's the recipe as it came to me. Note that this calls for either one large pan or two smaller ones. If desired, you can frost these with cream cheese frosting. The result is really more like a moist cake than a bar, but tasty.

4 eggs, beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups cooked mashed/pureed pumpkin
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease either a 12x18-inch pan or else one 9x13 pan and one 8x8 pan.

Combine the eggs and vegetable oil in a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and pumpkin.

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

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and blend well. Our the batter into the greased pan(s) and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mac & Cheese with Hot Dogs

While this is definitely not my usual fare, it is the sort of dish that children gobble down and adults find more comfort in than they might care to admit. It was brought about, here in our house, because we bought some old-fashioned pork hot dogs from Bostrom Farm some weeks ago on a whim. We figured we might grill them, or that our two-year-old might work his way through them. But grilling season is over, and they are not as convenient for the toddler as anticipated--being the old-fashioned kind, they came not just frozen but also uncooked. So we cooked up several and I made old-fashioned macaroni (well, actually shells, if you really want to know) and cheese. I prefer this type of mac and cheese just tossed with the cheese sauce rather than baked, but you can certainly top it with bread crumbs and stick it in the oven if you want to. I made this with mostly sharp cheddar and a small amount of Dutch Gold (Edam) from Chase Hill Farm, but you can use other cheeses as well. A mix is nice.

3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups milk (room temperature is best)
8 oz. shredded cheese
3/4 lb pasta (shells or elbows are ideal)
4-5 old-fashioned pork hot dogs, cooked and sliced in rounds

Start by making a classic white sauce: Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan or deep skillet, then stir in the flour. Whisk it constantly as it browns and thickens, bubbling. Slowly whisk in the milk a little at a time, over low heat. Whisk constantly until the sauce thickens a bit, then raise the heat to medium and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently (you can switch to a spoon at this point).

While the white sauce cooks, boil the pasta in a large pot of salted water.

After the sauce has simmered for its 10 minutes, remove it from the heat and stir in the cheese, a handful or so at a time, until it melts.

When the pasta is done, drain it and return it to the pot. Pour the cheese sauce over it, then stir in the sliced hot dogs. Serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Butternut Gnocchi with Garlic Sage Sauce

This recipe is adapted from one published in Vegetarian Times magazine about five years ago. I have been holding on to the magazine all this time, meaning to try the recipe at some point but never getting around to it until now. I wish I had tried it sooner! Delicious.

Traditionally, gnocchi are made with potatoes. They are also typically formed by hand. In this version, winter squash (substitute anything with a fairly smooth texture for the butternut) takes the place of potato and the gnocchi are freeform, a time saver that gives them a rustic look more reminiscent of dumplings.

2 cups cooked and mashed butternut squash
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2-3 cups all-purpose flour
6 Tbsp olive oil
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh sage leaves (or a few pinches of ground dried sage)
Grated Parmesan for topping

For best results, start by putting the cooked squash through a food mill or pushing it through a sieve into a large mixing bowl. If this sounds like more effort than you had in mind, you could also just run it through a food processor.

Stir the eggs, nutmeg, salt, and pepper into the squash until well combined. Add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough is soft but not very sticky. You may need to add the flour in smaller increments toward the end of this process. Set aside while you bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Heat the olive oil, garlic, and sage in a small saucepan. Let it sit over low heat while you cook the gnocchi.

To cook the gnocchi, use a small spoon to take 1-inch scoop of dough. Use another spoon to scrape the dough into the water. Cook as many gnocchi at a time as you can comfortably fit in the pot without crowding (you don't want them to stick together). They will sink to the bottom at first, then bob to the top. Once they bob to the top, cook for 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a large shallow bowl or equivalent. Drizzle with a little of the sauce and either cover with foil or place in the oven on low heat. Repeat until all of the dough has been cooked. Toss gnocchi with any remaining sauce.

Serve topped with grated Parmesan at the table.

Serves 4-6.

Green Tomato and Apple Chutney

Green tomatoes picked in October will slowly ripen indoors in a paper bag or wrapped in newspaper. But the flavor and texture will never compare to those picked ripe in warm weather. So, facing a bowl of the last of our green ones, I decided to try something different. This recipe is based on many different ones that I found on the Internet. The concept behind all of them was green tomatoes combined with apples, raisins, and spices. The result is sweet and tangy, perfect to go with grilled or broiled meat, or on crackers or toasted pita triangles. Try it with cheddar as well.

6 cups chopped green tomatoes (cored but not seeded or peeled)
3 cups chopped apples (peeled and cored first)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 Tbsp minced ginger root
3/4 cup raisins
1-4 hot peppers, seeded and minced (optional)
1/4 apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 cup brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a Dutch oven or similar wide-bottomed pot. Add a splash of water and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer over very low heat for about an hour, stirring periodically.

Makes 4-5 cups.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thai Pumpkin Soup

This was definitely a winner, with both the husband and the two-year-old coming back for thirds.

Feel free to substitute winter squash for the pumpkin. Butternut or any other fairly smooth-fleshed squash would be a good choice. If you have the cooked squash on hand already, this soup goes together quite quickly. Thai curry paste is very flavorful, but also spicy, so calibrate the amount to your heat tolerance.

Canola oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 Tbsp minced ginger root
1-3 tsp Thai red curry paste
5 cups cooked pumpkin or winter squash
1 14-oz can coconut milk (light is fine)
Water or stock (chicken or veggie)
1 Tbsp Thai fish sauce (optional but recommended)
Salt to taste
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped cilantro

Heat a little canola oil in a soup pot. Add the garlic, onion, and ginger and saute until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add the curry paste and saute for another minute or so, stirring to combine. Remove from heat.

In a food processor, combine the squash and onion mixture and process until smooth, adding a little water as needed. You may need to do this in batches. Pour the squash mixture back into the soup pot. Stir in the coconut milk and add water or stock until the soup reaches your desired consistency (I go for a medium thickness myself). Stir in fish sauce, salt, and cilantro and heat through.

Serves 4-6.

Freezing Pumpkin and Squash for Baking

I just roasted a bunch of winter squash, which I plan to use in a few different squash-based dishes over the next few days (stay tuned!). But I think I'll also freeze some of it for use in baking. This is a handy way to have cooked pumpkin or winter squash available for use in muffins, pancakes, cookies, etc. in the just the right quantities.

Cook your squash and cool completely. Scoop squash flesh out of the skin and mash or puree. Then measure out in the quantities called for by your favorite recipes (often 1 cup) and freeze in quart size freezer bags, flattened out so they can be tidily stacked in the freezer (just like with pesto). You can thaw a bag of squash in a bowl of warm water in 10 minutes or so, about the time you would need to combine dry ingredients or preheat the oven.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Green Bean and Fennel Fried Rice

This used the last of the pole beans from my garden, along with some of the fennel that is still flourishing. It will be good later this winter, too, with frozen veggies. I made it with chicken, but feel free to substitute a protein of your choice.

1-2 Tbsp canola oil
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp minced ginger
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 lb green beans, in 1-inch lengths
3 cups chopped fennel (1 medium bulb plus tender stalks)
3 cups cold cooked rice
1 Tbsp hoisin sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
Salt to taste (if needed)

Heat about 1 Tbsp of oil in a wok or very large skillet. Add the chicken and stir-fry until cooked through. Remove to a bowl or plate.

Add a little more oil to the pan and add the garlic, onion, and ginger. Stir-fry for 3-4 minutes, until the onions start to get tender. Add the beans and fennel and stir-fry for an additional 3-5 minutes, until tender but not soft.

Add the chicken back into the pan, along with the rice (separating the grains with a fork if need be). Stir in the hoisin sauce and soy sauce and stir-fry briefly, until the rice absorbs the liquid and is heated through. Taste and add salt if desired.

Serves 4-6.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pizza with Oyster Mushrooms and Fennel

I am (very) slowly working my way through Paul Lagreze's many mushroom offerings through New England Wild Edibles. I will be sad to see the Greenfield Farmers Market close at the end of the month for many reasons, one of which is the ready access to his mushrooms. This week I brought home some oyster mushrooms. These seem pretty versatile. Their texture is relatively meaty, and the flavor is more delicate than some other mushrooms. They worked well on this pizza, but I would also love to work them into a pasta sauce, a risotto, or a quiche or frittata. I meant to put rosemary on this pizza, but forgot - it was good without, but if you have some, give it a try. (The best way to get local rosemary year round is to grow a potted plant that can come indoors when the weather turns cool.)

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
4 oz. oyster mushrooms, sliced (about 2 cups)
2 cups diced fennel bulb and any tender stalks (1 smallish bulb)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary (optional)
1/2 - 2/3 cup tomato sauce (ideally something with mushrooms)
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 oz. shredded mozzarella (or chunks of fresh mozzarella)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Paint the pizza crust lightly with olive oil and set aside.

Heat a little more olive oil in a skillet. Add the garlic and mushrooms and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add the fennel and rosemary (if using) and saute over medium heat until tender.

Spread the sauce over the crust. Top with the mushroom and fennel mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then top with mozzarella.

Bake for about 15 minutes, until cheese begins to brown and crust is done.

Serves 3-4.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Portuguese Chorizo Stew

I love chorizo, a flavorful, slightly spicy Spanish/Portuguese sausage. The most reliable source I have found around here is Not Your Ordinary Farm in Guilford, VT. Products from the farm, including several types of sausage, are usually available at the Greenfield Farmers Coop. I used zucchini in the stew because I had a few in the fridge, the last of the harvest picked before the frost this past weekend. Red peppers would probably be more authentic. Frozen vegetables should work fine here, so I plan to make it again through the winter. It was excellent--savory and warming.

1 lb chorizo, casings removed
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 tsp ground paprika
4-5 cups diced zucchini (fresh or frozen)
1-2 cups cooked red beans (optional)
3-4 cups chopped paste tomatoes (fresh, frozen, or canned)
Salt and pepper to taste

Brown the chorizo in a Dutch oven or soup pot. When the fat has rendered, drain most of it off. Add the garlic, onion, and paprika and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the zucchini, beans (if using), tomato, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the veggies are tender and the flavors meld nicely. Adjust seasonings if needed.

Serves 4-5.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Late Fall CSA - Picadilly Farm

At Bart's in Greenfield this weekend, I happened on a flyer for Picadilly Farm's Late Fall CSA. Picadilly, which is just over the Mass border in Winchester, NH, offers a late fall share for $140. For that amount, you get four boxes slightly over a bushel each in size, two in November and two in December (alternating weeks). In addition to an array of storage crops, the boxes also include late season offerings like cold-hardy greens, at least until there is a hard freeze or snow. See the website for details and a sign-up form.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pesto Pasta with Corn and Chicken

Anticipating the frost that came last night, I bought corn at the farmers market and we pulled out all the remaining basil from the garden. Most of it was not in great shape, as basil really does not like cold weather, but I salvaged what I could and made some more pesto for the freezer. Some of it went to last night's dinner. I really liked the contrast between the savory pesto, chewy pasta, and crunchy sweet corn. If you'd rather not use chicken, or if you like the addition, add some lightly toasted walnuts or pine nuts. This is great with fresh ingredients, but you could also make it through the winter with frozen pesto and frozen corn.

1 lb uncooked pasta
3 cups fresh corn kernels
2 cups cooked shredded chicken
1 cup pesto

Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water. About two minutes before it is done, add the corn.

Drain the pasta and corn, reserving a little of the cooking water, and return to the pot. Stir in the chicken and pesto, thinning with a little cooking water if desired.

Serves about 6.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Shiitake Potato Pizza

This was really good. Thanks again, New England Wild Edibles, for the local mushrooms! The shiitake flavor shines here.

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
2-3 medium potatoes, in 1/8-inch slices (peeling optional)
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups sliced shiitake mushroom caps
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Liberally paint the pizza crust with olive oil (even if you are using a pre-baked crust). Set aside.

Cook the potato slices, by boiling, steaming, or microwaving, until just tender. Cool until they can be comfortably handled.

While the potatoes cool, heat a little olive oil in a skillet. Add the garlic and saute over medium-high heat for about a minute. Add the mushrooms and saute just until they start to become tender, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the parsley.

Arrange the potato slices on the pizza crust in concentric rings, slightly overlapping. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread the mushroom mixture over the potatoes, then sprinkle with Parmesan.

Bake about 15 minutes, until crust is done.

Serves 3-4.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thai Beef Stew

Yum! With local beef, potatoes, and onions available through much of the winter, I'll be making this again! At this time of year, you could brighten it up with some additional vegetables, like carrots or chopped red pepper, added near the end. You can get Thai curry paste (both red and green) at most grocery stores these days.

1 Tbsp canola oil
1 lb stew beef, in bite-sized cubes
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1-2 tsp Thai red curry paste, dissolved in 2 Tbsp water
2 (14-oz) cans light coconut milk
3 bay leaves
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 lbs potatoes, cubed
1 large onion, sliced lengthwise
Water and/or beef stock
1 - 1 1/2 Tbsp lime juice
Roasted unsalted peanuts (optional)

Heat a the canola oil in a soup pot. Add the beef and brown all over. Add the cinnamon and cardamom and saute for a minute or two. Stir in the curry paste in water, then the coconut milk. Add the bay leaves, brown sugar, and salt. Simmer for 45-60 minutes, covered.

Add the potatoes and onion to the pot, plus enough water or stock to comfortably cover everything. Add the lime juice. Bring to a boil, then simmer until vegetables are tender, about another 15-20 minutes.

Add peanuts to bowls at the table if desired.

Serves 4-6.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Winter Squash with Cider Vinegar and Herbs

Small squashes like delicatas make for quick and easy preparation at any time, especially if cooked in the microwave. When I have a larger squash on hand, if I don't have any specific plans for it, I often cook the whole thing, mash the squash, and keep it in the fridge or freezer, using a bit at a time. Cooked squash will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for at least a week or two. I adopted this technique when I was getting a CSA share that included two or more squashes a week for months. I could take out a cup of cooked squash for pancakes or muffins, or put it on pizza or into a pasta dish, or heat some up to serve as a side dish like this one.

2 cups cooked and mashed winter squash
2 tsp cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
Black pepper to taste
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary or sage (or more to taste)

Heat squash through, then combine with all other ingredients. Adjust seasonings as desired. Serve hot.

Serves 2-3.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Savory Grilled Green Beans

The pole beans in our garden are still producing, though they have slowed down considerably in the cooler weather. Still, I had enough collected in the fridge last night to make this, which we had alongside the lamb with parsley and garlic.

1 lb green beans, stemmed
olive oil
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground allspice
Salt and pepper to taste

Put the green beans in a bowl and generously drizzle with olive oil. Toss with the spices, salt and pepper, then let sit for up to an hour.

Grill beans in a grill basket over medium heat for 11-14 minutes, until just tender.

Serves about 4.

Lamb Chops with Parsley and Garlic

Last night we took advantage of the mild weather and grilled, then ate on the deck. Could be the last time for the season - we'll see if we get another warm spell.

Lamb is available year round in this area, and parsley and garlic are plentiful right now. If it's too cold to grill, try this under the broiler.

1 1/2 cups finely chopped fresh parsley
6-8 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
4 large or 8 small lamb chops

Combine the parsley, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Using your fingers or a spoon, spread it generously all over the lamb. Let the lamb sit for up to an hour if you have the time.

Grill the lamb over high heat for 2-3 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches at least 130 degrees (rare).

Serves about 4.

Don't Forget to Check the Archives

I've been blogging here now for more than a full year, so if you're looking for recipes for a particular ingredient, don't forget to a) search for it by name in the search box and b) look through the recipes for this season last year. If you're getting a CSA share, you're probably swimming in winter squash right now among other things - there are lots of recipes for it on the site, posted last fall and winter, so check them out. And of course I'll be posting more as I come up with them.

Friday, October 2, 2009

How Do You Organize Your Freezer?

A full chest freezer in the fall is a beautiful thing. But since we only got the freezer late last fall, this is the first time it has been quite so full - and now I am struggling to figure out the best way to organize it so I don't have to take everything out to find what I want. Right now I have it full of big plastic bags that are full of one thing each (i.e. peaches in one, tomatoes in another). This method worked great with the freezer half full, but with it just about totally full, this means that getting to anything on the bottom (say, the bag of blueberries) means lifting out three or four bags of something else. It also means I have to remember where things are (though our freezer isn't that big, so it's not too hard to just look through bags to find what I want).

So, readers - some of you have undoubtedly been doing this a lot longer than I have. What's your method?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Local Wheat and Other Grains

With cooler weather, the baking season is upon us. I expect to find myself making bread a lot more often, not to mention muffins and so on. We are lucky in this area that there are some sources of local wheat.

Upinngil Farm in Gill has been growing wheat for years. At their farm stand, you can get whole wheat berries, whole wheat pastry flour, and whole wheat bread flour, as well as wheat bran.

Crabapple Farm in Chesterfield, which also sells at the Greenfield Farmers Market, has also been experimenting with grains including wheat. To my knowledge, Crabapple only sells whole wheat berries.

According to CISA, Four Star Farms in Northfield also sells wheat, barley, and buckwheat, which can be milled on site for an additional charge. I don't personally have experience with Four Star - if anyone does, please feel free to leave a comment sharing what you know!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Simple Corn Chowder with Sage

I made this Saturday night with some of the last fresh corn of the season and sage from my garden. I always think of sage as a seasoning for cooler weather, perhaps in part because it withstands the cold outdoors until early winter. But here it makes for sort of a bridge between the seasons--a warming soup for a cool evening, made with the last of summer's corn.

2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 lbs new potatoes, cubed
1/4 cup white flour
5 cups corn kernels (from around 6 ears; scrape the cobs to get all the juice)
2 cups whole milk
2-3 Tbsp minced fresh sage
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot. At the onion and saute for 2-3 minutes, then add the potatoes. Saute for another few minutes, then add the flour and stir to form a roux. Continue to cook over reduced heat for a couple minutes, stirring frequently, then add enough water to just cover the potatoes. Stir to blend the roux into the liquid, then partially cover and cook over medium-high heat until potatoes are tender (15 minutes or so).

When the potatoes are tender, add the corn cook another few minutes. Add the milk, sage, salt, and pepper and remove from heat.

Serves 4-6.

Tomato Leek Quiche with Tarragon

I've seen lots of big, fat leeks at the farmers market, and I have a good crop of slender ones in my garden. Plus tomatoes, of course! I used tarragon as the seasoning here just for something different from my usual, but I think this would work with a variety of herbs - basil, oregano, sage, thyme, etc.

1 9-inch pastry shell
2 oz. shredded mozzarella (optional)
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
1 cup sliced leeks (about 2 fat ones or 4 slender)
1/4 tsp dried tarragon
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup whole milk (1% or 2% okay but not as good)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prick the pastry shell all over with a fork and pre-bake for about 10 minutes. If using homemade, line with aluminum foil and some pie weights.

Spread the mozzarella in the bottom of the pre-baked pie shell. Spread the tomatoes and leeks on top, and sprinkle with tarragon.

In a medium bowl, combine the eggs and milk and add salt and pepper. Pour over the vegetables in the pie shell.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until eggs are cooked through.

Serves 3-4.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Tomato-Ginger Chutney

This was inspired by a big pile of tomatoes from the garden that were starting to go bad. Try it on pork chops, ham, roasted chicken, etc.

10 cups chopped seeded tomatoes (no need to peel)
1 head garlic, cloves peeled and minced
2 fresh hot peppers, seeded and minced OR 3-4 whole dried hot peppers
1 1/2 cups finely chopped fresh ginger
1 cup sugar (or more to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
4 Tbsp lemon juice, lime juice, or combination

Combine tomatoes, garlic, hot peppers, ginger, sugar, salt and pepper in a Dutch oven and simmer uncovered over low heat until tomatoes are well broken down and it forms a thick sauce, 2-4 hours. Stir in lemon/lime juice. Simmer a little longer if desired.

Makes about 3 cups.

Roasted Balsamic Peppers and Green Beans

Sweet peppers and green beans (not to mention purple, yellow, and other colored beans) are still showing up plentifully at the farmers market. Enjoy them while they last! (And freeze some for later.) Red peppers combined with green beans make a nice visual effect here, but use whatever color peppers and beans you like.

2 sweet peppers, in long slices
1 lb green beans, stemmed
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Toss the vegetables with the other ingredients in a roasting pan. Roast, stirring once or twice to prevent sticking, until tender but not mushy, about 15 minutes.

Serves 4-6.

Goat Cheese Polenta

The Pioneer Valley is a land of riches where goat cheese is concerned. So many dairies turning out so much amazing cheese. I think I could eat it every day, if I could afford to! (A few years ago, Donovan and I went to Provence, where some type of goat cheese shows up in some form or another at about every other was heaven.) Anyway, this polenta with goat cheese is fantastic. Serve as a side dish, or top with veggies, chicken, tomato sauce, etc. as desired.

3 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 cup coarse corn meal
4 oz. goat cheese, diced or crumbled

Bring the water to a boil, then add the salt. Whisk in the polenta and stir rapidly to prevent lumps. Lower the heat and cook until nicely thick (you may want to cover it to prevent thick bubbles from burning you when they pop...I speak from experience). When polenta is done, remove from heat and stir in goat cheese, mixing well until goat cheese is thoroughly distributed.

Serve hot.

Serves about 4.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Red Lentil, Tomato, and Couscous Soup

This North African-inspired soup is a colorful and appealing use of some of the season's last tomatoes, plus cilantro.

1 cup dried red lentils
6-7 cups water
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 Tbsp butter
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 veggie bouillon cube
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 Tbsp cumin
2 tsp dried coriander
1-2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup dried couscous
3 Tbsp lemon juice
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Place the lentils and water in a soup pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat while you prepare the rest of the soup, about 12-15 minutes. Add the tomatoes to the pot.

Heat the butter in a large skillet, then sauté the garlic and onion until tender, about 5-6 minutes. Add to the lentils and tomatoes.

Add the bouillon cube, cayenne, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper to the soup and stir well. If the lentils are not yet tender, continue to simmer the soup until they are.

Add the couscous. It should cook in 3-5 minutes.

When the couscous is tender, add the lemon juice and cilantro. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Serve hot.

Serves 3-4.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Wine Cap and Fennel Risotto

Last weekend I bought some wine cap mushrooms from New England Wild Edibles at the farmers market. I had never tried them before. They look a little like portobellos, but have more flavor. A little poking around on the Internet found that they pair well with flavors like fennel, citrus, and wine. So I pulled some fennel out of my garden and concocted this risotto, which was delicious. The end result has a rather earthy color from the mushrooms; if you want a little more bright green, chop up some of the fennel leaves and stir them in at the last minute.

1 Tbsp olive oil
4-5 cups diced wine cap mushrooms
1-2 cups diced fresh fennel (bulb plus stalks if tender)
1 1/2 cups uncooked arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Several cups veggie broth (or water if you like)
Dash of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in Dutch oven or similar heavy-bottomed pot. Add the mushrooms and fennel and saute until they just become tender. Add the rice and saute for 1-2 minutes, until it turns translucent. Add the wine and cook over low-medium heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid is mostly absorbed. Stir in the lemon juice, then add the veggie broth 1/2 cup at a time, each time simmering and stirring until the liquid is almost totally absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup. Continue this process for 20-30 minutes, until the rice is extremely tender and the risotto takes on a somewhat creamy texture. At that point, lightly sprinkle the nutmeg over the risotto, then stir in the salt and pepper.

Serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Heritage Turkey for Thanksgiving

We just reserved a heritage turkey for Thanksgiving. If you're interested in doing likewise, it's definitely not too early to do so. A number of farms in Western Mass grow small numbers of heritage breed birds for just this purpose. We reserved ours from Wells Tavern Farm, which is just off route 2 in Shelburne. You can check CISA's database for others--just type "turkey" into the "Find it locally..." search box.

I have never had heritage turkey before, but I have heard that it is a gustatory experience worth having, juicy and supremely flavorful. Here's one good reason to look forward to November!

Apple Galette

A galette is sort of a rustic tart. You roll pastry dough out thin, cover it with your topping, then fold up the edges to hold it all in. The result is a lighter dessert than pie. Also fewer servings, which is nice when you are only cooking for a few people. I like to make the dough (and any pastry dough) in the food processor, which is quick and easy.

Pastry Dough
1 1/4 cups white flour
1 tsp white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), very cold
3 Tbsp ice water, plus more if needed

2 medium apples, cored and sliced 1/8-inch thick
3 Tbsp white sugar
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, in pea-sized chunks
1/4 tsp cinnamon

To prepare the pastry dough by hand:
1. Whisk the flour, sugar, and salt together in a large bowl. Sprinkle chunks of butter over it, then cut the butter in using a pastry cutter or two knives.

2. Sprinkle the ice water over the flour and butter mixture. Using the blade side of a rubber scraper, cut dough until it starts to form balls. If necessary, add additional ice water one teaspoon at a time to help the dough cohere. Be careful not to add so much water that the dough becomes sticky.

3. Press the dough with your hands to form it into a ball. The texture of the dough should be a bit rough, not smooth. Press it into a round disk, wrap it tightly in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (and not more than 2 days).

To prepare the pastry dough with a food processor:
1. Put the flour, sugar, and salt into the food processor and process for 10 seconds to mix.

2. Add the butter in small chunks, scattered over the flour mixture. Pulse for 1-2 second intervals until nearly all the butter is pea-sized or smaller. You may need to scrape the sides once or twice.

3. Drizzle the ice water over the flour and butter mixture. Pulse for 1-2 second intervals until there are no more dry patches in the dough and it starts to form small balls. Do not allow the dough to form a single mass in the food processor. Press the dough together with your fingers. If it does not cohere, sprinkle in an additional teaspoon of ice water and pulse several more times. Repeat if necessary. Be careful not to add so much water that the dough becomes sticky.

4. Remove the dough from the food processor and follow step 3 above.

To prepare the galette:
1. Preheat the oven to 425°.

2. Remove the pastry dough from the refrigerator. If it has been left for longer than 30 minutes, allow it to thaw briefly until it becomes more pliable.

3. Lay out a piece of waxed paper about 14 inches long on a flat surface and sprinkle it with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out in a circle or oblong shape to a thickness of about 1/8-inch. Transfer the dough to a cookie sheet and peel off the waxed paper.

4. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp of sugar over the crust, leaving about 2 inches bare around the outside. Arrange the sliced apples densely over the crust, again leaving about 2 inches bar around the outside. Sprinkle the butter over the fruit, then sprinkle with the remaining sugar and the cinnamon.

5. Fold the outside edges of the crust up over the fruit. Pinch the corners together to prevent the juices from leaking while the galette bakes.

6. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.

7. Allow the galette to cool for at least a few minutes before serving.

Serves about 4.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Quick and Easy Delicata Squash

Fall is most definitely here. There was a frost advisory last night, which had us out covering up the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants, and harvesting whatever was close to ready. Among the harvest: all our delicata squash, which was definitely ripe.

There are loads of ways to cook winter squash--you can roast it, steam it, saute it, or pressure cook it, among other things. But the easiest and fastest way I have found yet is to do it in the microwave. It feels a little like heresy, but the results are great and the mess is minimal. This works best with smaller squash and relatively small quantities (to do more servings, you just have to do it in batches). Delicatas are great candidates for this. Here's the method:

Cut the squash in half the long way and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash halves in a covered microwaveable container (e.g. glass casserole dish). Microwave on high for five minutes, then to check for doneness (the squash should be soft when it's ready). The amount of time needed will vary with the size of the squash and the power of your microwave. If it's not done after five minutes, add another minute or two and check again. Repeat as needed.

Serve squash halves as they are, and provide optional toppings at the table: butter, maple syrup, and brown sugar are all classics, though delicata squash is so sweet and delicious that you can eat it straight if you like. For something a little less traditional, try salt and pepper with a little sprinkle of garam masala or curry powder.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Blueberry Scones

Another excellent use for frozen blueberries. I especially like the low-bush variety because they are small. But you can use high-bush as well, or other types of small frozen fruits, such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, or cherries, if you have them.

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup whole milk plain yogurt
1/4 cup white sugar, plus more for the top if desired
3/4 cup frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Stir in blueberries so they get coated with flour. Add cream and yogurt and stir until just combined. Drop by large spoonfuls onto a baking sheet (I use a baking stone). If desired, lightly sprinkle the top of each scone with a little sugar.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown on top.

Makes about 8-10 scones.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

This is what I had for breakfast this morning--a good cool weather start to the day. I like to use steel cut oats, but this works with rolled oats as well. Just don't use the instant kind, because you need the apples to cook for a couple minutes. I like it with the apples just softened a bit, not turned to mush. If you like them softer, add them earlier in the process.

Prepare oatmeal of your choice. A few minutes before it is done, stir in about half an apple per person, diced (peel or not as desired) and a sprinkle of cinnamon. If using particularly tart apples, add a teaspoon or so of brown sugar.

I also like ripe pears on my oatmeal in the fall, but these are better raw.

Scrambled Eggs with Parsley and Cheese

Now that the basil is starting to fade (darned unseasonable cold weather), I have found myself using larger amounts of parsley. If you think of parsley as a boring and somewhat flavorless dried herb, you should definitely try it fresh. It has a lovely and pungent flavor all its own that goes especially well with Parmesan, but also goat cheese and feta.

For scrambled eggs, use 1-2 tsp chopped fresh parsley per egg. Add cheese of your choice plus salt and pepper to taste. Heat a little butter in a skillet and scramble eggs until done.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pizza with Shiitakes, Leeks, Red Pepper, and Parsley

When in doubt, put it on pizza, that's my motto. Last night I made this with the shiitakes from New England Wild Edibles and leeks, peppers, and parsley from my garden. Yum!

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
2 cups sliced shiitakes
3-4 slender leeks or 1-2 large ones, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped red pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup tomato sauce
2-3 oz. shredded mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Paint the pizza crust lightly with olive oil.

Heat a little more olive oil in a large skillet, then add the shiitakes and leeks. Saute until just tender, then add the peppers and saute an addition 2-3 minutes. Stir in the parsley, salt, and pepper, and remove from heat.

Spread the tomato sauce over the crust--you just want a very light coating. Spread the veggie mixture over the sauce, then top with mozzarella.

Bake 15-18 minutes, until crust is done and cheese begins to brown.

Serves 3-4.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Local Mushrooms

My happiest find at the farmers market on Saturday was a booth for New England Wild Edibles, a mushroom grower located in Colrain. I have seen their mushrooms at Green Fields Market on occasion but not reliably. I was told that they are regulars at the Shelburne Falls and Ashfield farmers market but had only just begun selling at the Greenfield market. I do hope they continue! I bought shiitakes, but they also had hen of the woods and oyster mushrooms.

Now that I have a nice bag of fresh shiitakes in the fridge, I am pondering the possibilities of what to do with them. A stir fry or other Asian dish is always a good possibility, but shiitakes go well with other things, too, and can lend a nice meaty flair to vegetarian dishes.

Weekends Putting Up Food

It's that time of year. Eating locally all year in New England means putting up food for the winter. And if you work all day during the week, putting up food for the winter means spending a chunk of every weekend in August and September doing so. But mostly I enjoy it, thank goodness. This weekend we froze another 20 pounds of tomatoes along with several pounds of zucchini and red peppers.

We also took our first crack at drying apples--Macs from Clarkdale--with great success. We gave them no pretreatment, so the final product was a bit brown, but that doesn't bother me. The flavor is stupendous, way better than dried apples from the store. And the texture is perfect--soft and chewy. To prepare them, we used our apple peeler/slicer/corer to make rings, then dried them in the dehydrator for about 8 hours. Fortunately, we'll be able to get apples all through the winter, so we can make additional dried ones as desired; no need to go crazy stocking up right now when everything else is begging to be dealt with. I am looking forward to trying different varieties and seeing how the dried flavor varies.

Red, Gold, and Green Cornmeal Pancakes

This weekend we found ourselves overflowing with zucchini. I shredded and froze a bunch of it, but I also made zucchini basil pancakes with several of them (though I substituted parsley for some of the basil as my basil has not fared well with this long string of nights in the 40s). Thinking of savory pancakes reminded me of this recipe, which is full of things now finally in season (like red peppers!).

This is great for brunch or dinner, but I'd think twice about serving it first crack in the morning. Despite the number of jalapeños it's not that spicy--but still.

2 cups fresh corn kernels
3-4 large green jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
4-5 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced (or a red onion)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
For topping: Good salsa, sour cream

In a large bowl, mix together the corn, jalapenos, red pepper, scallions, and cilantro. Stir in the lime juice and salt.

In a medium bowl, combine the eggs and milk, then stir in the cornmeal and whole-wheat pastry flour.

Pour the batter mixture over the vegetables and mix well. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature.

Fry pancakes in a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat, about 2 minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked through the middle. Keep finished pancakes hot on a covered plate or in a warm oven.

Serve hot, topped with salsa and sour cream.

Serves 3-4.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Slow Cooked Green Beans and Tomatoes with Chicken

I made this in my crockpot, using beans and tomatoes from the garden. But you could also do it on the stove. In that case, I would roast the chicken separately. Use paste tomatoes so the end product is not too watery. If using the crockpot, you can put frozen chicken directly in at the beginning of the day.

Olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 lb green beans, stemmed
4-5 cups chopped tomatoes
2 Tbsp marsala
3-4 cloves garlic, skins still on, partially crushed
1-2 large sprigs rosemary
6 chicken thighs (or equivalent)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a little olive oil in a small skillet and saute the shallot until translucent.

To make this in the crockpot, place beans in the bottom of the pot, then add tomatoes, shallots, marsala, garlic, and rosemary. Place the chicken on top of the veggies. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Cook on Low for 7-8 hours. Remove garlic and rosemary before serving. Add more salt and pepper if needed.

To make on the stove top, use a large skillet or dutch oven for the vegetables. After sauteing the shallot, add the beans, tomatoes, marsala, garlic, and rosemary and simmer gently until the beans are very tender and the tomatoes are sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. While making the beans, roast the chicken in the oven.

Serves 3-4.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Muffins

And while I'm on the subject of blueberry muffins...this is another favorite recipe. Again, you can use fresh or frozen berries, but frozen actually work a bit better.

1 cup white flour
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat the oven to 400°. Grease muffin tins to make 12 muffins.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the white flour, whole wheat pastry flour, sugar, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Add the lemon juice, vegetable oil, and yogurt to the dry ingredients and combine thoroughly. Stir in the blueberries. Do not overmix. The batter will be fairly thick and slightly spongy.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tins. You can fill them fairly full.

Bake for about 14 minutes, until the muffins turn golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Makes 12 muffins.

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

Blueberry season will be ending before long, but if you're like me, you have stockpiled berries in the freezer to use through the long winter. I find that frozen berries actually often work better than fresh in muffins and other baked goods, which is a happy coincidence since summer is not prime baking season. I love the blueberry cinnamon combination in these muffins, which also give you a good dose of whole grains. If you have fresh buttermilk available, you can use it in place of some or all of the milk.

1 generous cup rolled oats
1 generous cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
2 large eggs, well-beaten
1 tsp vanilla (optional)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
2 Tbsp powdered buttermilk (optional)
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 400˚. Grease muffins tins to make 12 large or 18 medium muffins.

Mix the rolled oats and milk together in a large mixing bowl. Let stand for 5-10 minutes.

Stir the eggs, vanilla (if using), vegetable oil, and brown sugar into the oatmeal and milk mixture.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, powdered buttermilk (if using), cinnamon, and salt. Add to the oatmeal mixture and mix until well blended. If using fresh or frozen blueberries, stir them into the batter.

Spoon the batter into muffin tins, filling them about three-quarters of the way. Bake for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the muffins comes out clean.

Makes about 12 large or 18 medium muffins.

Filling the Freezer

In the last week or two, culinary creativity has been taking a back seat to getting the harvest bounty into the freezer (and to a lesser extent the dehydrator). We have frozen and dried 24 quarts of peaches from Clarkdale and 40 pounds of tomatoes--with 20 more in a box on the dining room table, where they are ripening up a little more before processing, probably this weekend. I have frozen quarts of green beans and the first several bell peppers, as well as whole paste tomatoes from the garden. Now the freezer is filling up, and I think from here we need to be more strategic about what else goes in. We are expecting 20 pounds or so of beef later this month, from a share in a cow that we bought last spring, so we had better save room for that. And we definitely need more peppers. A few other odds and ends will find room--a bit more shredded zucchini, a couple bags of kale, some more pesto--but I think we are going to reach capacity. It will be the first time we have done so since acquiring the freezer late last October, too late for many crops we would have wanted. I am very curious to see how the winter goes with our more extensive stocks, and of course I will be posting recipes here based on frozen ingredients as well as updates on what we've run out of and what we can freeze less of next year (if anything!). Please feel free to post comments with your own experiences and tips!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Pizza with Corn, Tomatoes, and Basil

Another simple recipe to use what's abundantly in season right now... Use plum tomatoes if you can because they are not as juicy as other varieties. If you want to use very juicy tomatoes, try to drain them a bit first or your pizza will be soggy.

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
2 cups chopped seeded tomatoes
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 1 ear, 2 if small)
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh basil (loosely packed)
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 oz. shredded mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Paint the pizza crust with olive oil, then pre-bake for about 7 minutes.

After pre-baking the crust, remove it from the oven and spread the tomatoes, corn, and basil on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then top with mozzarella. Bake for another 10-12 minutes, until crust is done and cheese begins to brown.

Serves 3-4.