Thursday, January 29, 2009

Pureed Celeriac Soup

Another tasty way to enjoy celeriac.

6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1 large celeriac, peeled and cubed
3-4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
Chicken or veggie stock, or water
2-3 tsp dried sage (or more to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat some olive oil in a soup pot and saute the garlic and onions for 3-4 minutes. Add the celeriac and potatoes and enough water or stock to cover. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the vegetables are tender (how long this takes will depend on the size you cut them to).

When the vegetables are tender, puree the soup with an immersion blender (or in batches in a food processor). Stir in the sage, salt, and pepper.

Serves 4-6.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Quiche with Dried Tomatoes and Blue or Goat Cheese

This quiche is similar to a recipe I posted in December, but even simpler and with more of a French flair than a Greek one. Use a fairly creamy blue cheese or a strongly flavored goat cheese. Plenty of local cheese choices, especially for the goat cheese. I used tomatoes from my garden that I dried last summer, which are a bit sweeter than dried tomatoes you typically buy.

1 9-inch pastry shell
1 medium onion, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup dried tomatoes
1/2-3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese or goat cheese
3 eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375. Prick the pie crust in several places with a fork, then pre-bake for about 15 minutes (weight it down with pie weights if homemade).

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

If using onions, saute in olive oil until translucent. Place onions (if using), tomatoes, and cheese in the bottom of the pie shell.

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

Serves 3-4.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Joy of Freezing

It's late January and we're expecting another six inches of snow tomorrow. But last night I had pesto for dinner, bringing a welcome taste of summer basil into the kitchen--straight from the freezer. The further along I get in my efforts to keep as much of my food local as I can through the winter, the more grateful I am that we bought a chest freezer in the fall. Last summer and fall I bought or harvested basil, peppers, hot peppers, carrots, green beans, corn, fennel, peaches, and tomatoes and froze them, and I have been gratefully drawing on that store ever since. Without a good sized freezer, the whole endeavor would be much more challenging. Of course, this means that if you live in a small apartment, say, it's going to be harder. But chest freezers come in sizes down to 5 cubic feet (and up to at least 20), so unless you are extremely pressed for space you don't have to give up on the idea entirely. Our freezer in 10 cubic feet--we don't have room for something larger--and so far it has provided more than enough space. Chest freezers are not really all that expensive, either, and they are generally very energy efficient.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Volume Orders of Local Beef

Some local farms offer large volumes of meat at discounted prices. Wheelview Farm in Shelburne, for example, offers 100 lbs including a variety of cuts for $599.95 (or about $6/lb) or 100 lbs of ground beef in 1-lb packages for $449.95 (or about $4.50/lb) if you pick it up yourself. They also ship, but it costs more. If you've got a chest freezer and a few like-minded friends, this is an easy way to get local meat at a good price.

Things to do with celeriac

One of the local vegetables still readily available is celeriac (also known as celery root). It's a bit homely-looking, but delicious and versatile. It has a pleasant celery flavor with a texture more like turnip. To use it, slice off all the knobbly bits, then peel. Here are some ideas for what to do next:

1. Easiest: eat it raw! Slice it up or grate it and add to salad. Or use for dipping with hummus, etc.

2. Cube or slice and combine with other root vegetables of your choice (turnip, rutabaga, sweet potato, regular potato, carrot...) and some tart apple, then roast with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add some sage if you like.

3. Cube and toss into soups, stews, or casseroles. I particularly like it in lentil soup and pot pie.

4. Slice thinly and combine with potatoes and sweet potatoes in a creamy gratin.

5. Steam or boil and add to mashed potatoes.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Roasted Delicata Squash Cubes

This past week I planned to roast some delicata squash as I have done before, by simply slicing it open, seeding, and roasting. But by the time I got to the squash that I had, it had a lot of little bad spots all over, so I concluded that I would have to peel it. This was something of a pain, since delicatas are not smooth-skinned, but at least the skin is fairly thin. I then cubed it and tossed with a little olive oil, salt, and brown sugar, then roasted for 25-30 minutes at 375 degrees. Delicious! Everyone at the table raved about it.

Farmers Market in Bernardston this Saturday

There will be a one-time winter farmers market in Bernardston this Saturday (1/24) from 9:00 - noon. Location: United Church of Bernardston (58 Church St.).

After that, it's only two weeks until Winter Fare here in Greenfield!

Local Produce at GFM...and Salad!

I did a little grocery shopping at Green Fields Market on Sunday and took note of what local produce was available. The pickings are still pretty thin, but a bit better than a couple weeks ago.

Of greatest note, at least for me: baby spinach and salad greens from Red Fire Farm!

Also: celeriac, sunchokes, sweet potatoes, purple top turnips, Gilfeather turnips, and several kinds of sprouts from Uppingil Farm in Gill.

Combine those salad greens, a little spinach, some sprouts and a bit of sliced sun choke, and it is again possible to have fresh salad from local ingredients. Top with a little feta from Chase Hill Farm or some Berkshire Blue for extra kick.

Friday, January 9, 2009


I'll be away all next week. Posts will resume when I get back. In the meantime, happy cooking and eating!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Pizza Dough

Since I've been posting pizza recipes, I thought maybe I should share my dough recipes as well. The extra-thin crust contains no yeast and is more like a flatbread; it can be put together in minutes.

Standard Yeasted Pizza Dough
2/3 cup warm water (1/3 cup + 1/3 cup)
1/8 tsp sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast (or 1 packet)
1 ¾ - 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed for kneading
½ tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for the bowl and to top the crust
Cornmeal for the pan

Food processor method:
1. Fill a small bowl with hot water to warm it up, then pour out the water. Add 1/3 cup of the warm water and the sugar to the bowl and stir to combine. Sprinkle the yeast over the water. Let sit someplace reasonably warm (not hot) for about 10 minutes, until it becomes foamy.

2. Fit the dough blade into your food processor. Add the flour, salt, olive oil, the yeast mixture, and the remaining 1/3 cup of warm water. Process in short pulses until the dough forms a single ball (you may need to scrape the sides a few times). It should not be too sticky. This step takes the place of kneading at this point in the preparation.

3. If the consistency of the dough is good, continue to step 4. If it seems too dry, add additional warm water 1 teaspoon at a time. If it seems too wet, add additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time and pulse the dough for 10-15 seconds to mix it in. It is important to add any additional flour or water in small increments to avoid going too far in the other direction.

4. With a little flour on your hands, remove the ball of dough from the food processor. Knead it a couple of times with your hands. It should have a smooth and elastic consistency.

5. Place the ball of dough in a large bowl that is lightly oiled with olive oil. Turn the dough over a few times in the bowl to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a towel and let it sit somewhere relatively warm (not hot) for about an hour, until the dough has roughly doubled in size.

6. Punch the dough down (literally: squash it down and deflate it with your knuckles). If you are ready to use the dough, remove it from the bowl to a floured surface. The dough is now ready to be formed into a crust. If you are not ready to use the dough yet, you can let it rise again for a little while, then punch it down again before using it.

7. Because of its elasticity, pizza dough is notoriously difficult to work with, especially if you do not have a lot of practice. To form it into a crust, the dough needs to be stretched out, hopefully in a relatively uniform way, into a large circle. Begin with a flattened disk, then, starting in the middle, try to work your way around in a circle, stretching a little bit at a time, to keep it as even in thickness and shape as possible and avoid holes. (To form a rectangle or square, use the same basic process but work it more evenly out to the sides and corners.) But don’t stress out about it too much. Mine often come out a little lumpy and uneven, but they are still delicious.

8. Sprinkle cornmeal over the pizza pan to keep the dough from sticking. Once you have the crust sufficiently shaped, transfer it carefully to the pan. Brush or spray the top of the crust lightly with olive oil before topping to prevent sogginess.

9. Top and bake your pizza. (If not following a recipe, standard baking temperature is 450°.)

Hand-kneaded method:
1. Run hot water in a large bowl to warm it, then pour out the water. Add 1/3 cup of the warm water and the sugar to the bowl and stir to combine. Sprinkle the yeast over the water. Let sit someplace reasonably warm for about 10 minutes, until it becomes foamy.

2. Add the flour, salt, olive oil, the yeast mixture, and the remaining 1/3 cup of warm water to the bowl and stir until it forms a dough.

3. Coat your hands with flour and remove the dough from the bowl to a floured surface. Knead it vigorously for about 10 minutes until it develops a smooth and elastic consistency.

4. Continue at step 5 above.

Makes 1 14-inch round crust.

Variations: You can substitute whole wheat or other flour for up to ½ cup of the white flour, but be warned that this will make the dough slightly more difficult to work with. You can also add other ingredients to the crust, such as ground pepper, grated Parmesan cheese, and fresh or dried herbs.

Extra-Thin Crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
2/3 – 1 cup warm water
Cornmeal for the pan
1-2 Tbsp olive oil to top the crust

1. Combine flour, salt, and olive oil in a medium bowl. Drizzle the water in a little at a time and stir to combine. Moisten dough until it all sticks together easily but is not too sticky.

2. Roll the dough out on a floured surface. Form a circle or rectangle, depending on the pan you plan to use to bake your pizza.

3. Sprinkle cornmeal lightly over the baking pan. Transfer the crust carefully to the pan.

4. Brush or spray a light coating of olive oil over the top of the crust to prevent sogginess when baking.

5. Top and bake your pizza. Standard baking temperature for pizzas with this crust is 500°.

Makes one 14-inch round crust.

Variations: Like the yeasted crust, you can substitute whole wheat or other flours for some of the white flour. You can use a higher proportion in this dough since it does not include yeast. You can also add other ingredients such as herbs, ground pepper, or Parmesan cheese.

Pizza with Potatoes, Corn, Feta, and Rosemary

This pizza makes good use of local ingredients available at this time of year--onions, garlic, potatoes, and feta. I used corn that I froze last summer and rosemary from my potted plant. Come summertime, you could make this with sliced fresh tomatoes instead of sauce, new potatoes, fresh corn, and newly harvested garlic and onions.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, in long, thin slices
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium potatoes, in thin, bite-size slices
¼ tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup frozen corn
1 14-inch pizza crust
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 - 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 450°.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and onions and sauté over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until the potatoes are nearly tender. Add a little water if they are sticking badly. Stir in the salt, pepper, rosemary, and corn, sauté for 2-3 minutes, and remove from heat.

Spread the tomato sauce over the crust. Spread the potato and corn mixture over the sauce. Sprinkle the feta over it. Top with mozzarella.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese begins to brown.

Serves 3-4.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Middle Eastern Chickpea and Red Lentil Soup

This is one of those pantry-based some local red onions and garlic, and cilantro from the freezer.

Lately I have been cooking up large batches of chickpeas, black beans, etc. and freezing some for uses like this. It's easy enough to cook up, say, several cups of chickpeas and use some for a batch of hummus, some for this soup, and put some in the freezer for next time.

6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1 large red onion, chopped
1-2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 cups cooked chickpeas
3/4 cup red lentils
1/2 cup bulgur wheat (substitute quinoa if you like)
1 veggie bouillon cube (optional)
1/4 cup lemon juice
2-3 frozen cilantro cubes
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a little olive oil in a soup pot and saute the garlic and onion for 3-4 minutes. Add the cumin and coriander and saute a minute or so longer. Add the chickpeas, lentils, bulgur, and bouillon cube. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils and bulgur are tender, about 15 minutes. Add the lemon juice, cilantro, and salt and pepper.

Serves 4-5.

Dry Goods

As we get deeper into winter I find myself basing more and more of my cooking on dry pantry staples like beans and grains. By and large these are not locally grown, of course, but I think they make sense, especially at this time of year. My goal here, after all, is not to do a strict 100-mile diet or the like, but to use local produce, meat, dairy, and eggs to the greatest extent possible, and add in other local foods wherever I can find them and afford them. And while dry goods still have to travel to get to me, at least they don't present the same challenges and demands as, say, a fresh tomato or raspberry.

Visit to Brattleboro Winter Farmers Market

This past Saturday we made a trip up to Brattleboro to check out the winter farmers market. We came away with delicata squash, potatoes, maple smoked Gouda cheese, ground lamb, and some jam. There were also apples and apple products, grass-fed beef in addition to the lamb, free range chickens (expensive, though, at $3.80 a lb for a whole bird, so we didn't get one), maple products, bread, pastries, and crafts. I have to admit, though, that I was disappointed not to find more produce. I know it's January, but I was hoping there would be a bit more in the way of storage crops or maybe even hoop house-grown greens. Maybe by next month. I am hopeful that there will be some of those to be found at Winter Fare on Feb. 7. I always enjoy a trip to Brattleboro, but I don't think it will be worth going to the market every two weeks--there just wasn't that much there that isn't still available closer to home.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Winter Tomato Soup with Blue Cheese

I have been itching to try making a winter tomato soup from the tomatoes in my freezer. Here is what I came up with last night, made with the last of some Berkshire Blue cheese we had on hand.

5-6 cloves garlic, minced
4 1-qt bags frozen tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 chicken or veggie bouillon cubes
1/4 cup chopped or crumbled blue cheese
3/4 cup orzo or other small pasta (optional)
1 1/2 cups milk (substitute cream for part of this if you like)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat some olive oil in a soup pot and saute the garlic for about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and let simmer until cooked through. Add the bouillon cubes once they give up some of their liquid.

When the tomatoes are thoroughly cooked, puree them with an immersion blender (or in batches in a blender or food processor). Add the cheese and stir until melted. Add the pasta, if using, and let the soup simmer until the pasta is cooked. Add milk, salt and pepper and remove from heat.

Serves 4-6.

Variations: You could take this in a variety of different directions. Skip the cheese and pasta and add a splash of lime juice and a couple cubes of cilantro from the freezer for a Mexican version. Use strongly flavored goat cheese in place of the blue and throw in some minced fresh rosemary or thyme. Try some feta in place of the blue cheese, and fresh mint (or frozen if you have it).

Friday, January 2, 2009

Enterprise Farm Winter Market

Enterprise Farm in Whately also holds a winter market, though it is not strictly limited to local products. In addition to some local produce, dairy, eggs, and meat, they have a relationship with growers further south. I'm planning to stick to the local stuff myself, but the produce from warmer climes is probably more sustainable than what you'd get at the store if you are desperate for, say, fruit other than apples.

Enterprise Farm is located at 75 River Road in South Deerfield, and the market will be held weekly on Thursdays from 1-6 pm.

Brattleboro Winter Farmers Market

I just learned that there is a winter farmers market in Brattleboro twice monthly in January, February, and March. It's held at the River Garden, right downtown, from 10-3 on the following Saturdays (note: including tomorrow!):

Jan 3
Jan 17
Feb 7
Feb 21
Mar 7
Mar 21

We have been lamenting the much-reduced selection of local produce at Foster's and Green Fields Market now that we are well into winter, so I am definitely planning to check this market out and see what we can find!

Pasta with Root Vegetables and Smoky Cheese Sauce

A week or so ago, my husband brought home a Gilfeather turnip from Green Fields Market, one of a dwindling number of locally grown produce items available there at this point in the year. These ENORMOUS turnips have been much discussed in Mary McClintock's column in the Recorder, so he figured we ought to give them a try. Thank goodness he only bought one. I put half of it into this dish, which ended up making enough food for an army (if you don't want enough to feed 6-8, cut all the quantities in half). The other half I sliced up and served raw with hummus for dipping, which was surprisingly tasty as well--quite a hit at our New Year's Party.

I used celeriac along with the turnip in this dish, because that's what I had. But I think you could probably use just about any combination of root vegetables except potatoes--rutabaga, sweet potatoes, etc.

Chipotles pack a punch on their own, but with the pasta, veggies, and cheese sauce here, they are quite mellow, mainly lending their wonderful smoky flavor--if you doubt this, I can tell you that my 16-month-old was scarfing this down. If you want something hotter, add more peppers.

6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1 large red onion, chopped
5-6 cups diced root vegetables (1/2-inch dice)
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeded and minced
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1 lb cut pasta (such as rotini or fusilli)
3/4 cup shelled pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted

Heat some olive oil in a very large skillet or Dutch oven. Add the garlic and onion and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the root vegetables and saute, stirring often, until they are just tender.

While the vegetables are cooking, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta. When it is done, drain it and place it in a large bowl, tossed with a little olive oil.

While the vegetables and pasta cook, make the cheese sauce: melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low-medium heat, then stir in the flour to make a roux. Slowly stir in the milk, whisking as you go to prevent lumps. As the sauce thickens, add the cheese a little at a time and stir it in so it melts.

When everything is done, toss the veggies with the pasta and add the cheese sauce, tossing so everything gets well coated. Serve hot, sprinkled with pumpkin seeds at the table.

Serves 6-8.