Thursday, April 30, 2009

Five Spice Pork Chops

Thanks again, Bostrom's Farm, for some of the tastiest pork products I've ever eaten. I'm fairly sure Bostrom's will be a vendor at the Greenfield Farmers Market this year. I very much hope to see them on Saturday, as we are now totally out of pork chops, bacon, and sausage.

Here is a super simple preparation for pork chops that I made last night. You can get five-spice powder at Green Fields Market and many well-stocked supermarkets. It is a combination of star anise, fennel seed, cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper.

Pork chops (1 good sized chop per person), trimmed of excess fat
Chinese five spice powder

Preheat the broiler or grill. Rub each side of each chop with 1/8 - 1/4 tsp five spice powder and sprinkle with salt. Broil or grill for 4-5 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches about 140 degrees.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Greenfield Farmers Market Opens Saturday

Mark your calendars and head downtown on Saturday morning (8-12:30)--the Greenfield Farmers Market is opening for the season at last! I am expecting to see lots of starts for the garden, but also probably asparagus, rhubarb, greens, beef and pork, bread and baked goods, hopefully eggs, and with any luck some other tasty surprises! Get there early for the best selection.

Spinach Salad with Raisins and Feta

This is a riff on a main dish recipe I posted recently. The same flavors and ingredients also combine nicely in a salad.

Combine in proportions that please you:

Spinach, stemmed and washed
Crumbled feta
Walnuts, lightly toasted and cooled
Mushrooms, sliced (optional)

Dress with a balsamic vinaigrette (at its simplest, equal parts olive oil and balsamic vinegar; add some minced fresh garlic or dried basil if you like).

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Chipotle Spinach Pizza

The chipotle peppers lend a smoky, spicy twist to what is otherwise a spinach and onion pizza. You can use more or less of the chipotles depending on your taste. The amount listed below makes for a mild kick. This recipe makes two pizzas (we'll be eating the second one tonight since I won't have time to cook); cut it in half if you only want one.

2 medium onions, sliced lengthwise
1/2 lb spinach, washed and stemmed
1 1/2 - 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeded and minced
Salt and pepper to taste
2 14-inch pizza crusts (note the permanent quick reference link on the left)
Olive oil
2/3 - 1 cup salsa, ideally something fire roasted
6-8 oz. shredded mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet and saute the onions over high heat, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes. Add the spinach and continue to saute, stirring frequently, until wilted. Stir in the chipotles, salt, and pepper and remove from heat. Drain extra water off the spinach mixture to prevent a soggy pizza.

Paint the pizza crusts with a little olive oil, then spread half the salsa over each one. Top each with half the spinach mixture, then sprinkle half the mozzarella over each one.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the crusts are done and cheese begins to brown.

Serves 6-8.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Tortilla Pie with Greens and Mushrooms

The basic recipe here is almost infinitely variable depending on what vegetables are available. Here is a spring version emphasizing greens (spinach or whatever you can find). The mushrooms I got from Green Fields Market came from Pennsylvania, which seems to be GFM's usual source. Not exactly local, but not bad.

4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
3-4 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
1-2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder, or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
6 cups coarsely chopped greens
2 10-inch tortillas (I like to use whole wheat)
1 15-oz can refried beans
3-4 oz. shredded sharp cheddar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet and saute the garlic and onions for about 3-4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute another 3-4 minutes, until they start to release their liquid. Add the cumin, chili power, salt and pepper, and saute until the mushrooms are tender. Add the greens (in batches if necessary) and cook until wilted. Remove from heat.

Lightly oil a 10-inch cast iron skillet or similar pan and place one tortilla in the bottom (if you want to use the same skillet you cooked the veggies in, clean it out first). Spread half the refried beans over the tortilla, then top with half the veggies and spread half the cheddar over them. Add another tortilla and repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Bake for about 15 minutes. Serve hot.

Serves about 4.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese and Dried Tomatoes

Cafe Koko used to serve something like this before it closed. I still have tomatoes from my garden that I dried last summer, and there are lots of tasty local goat cheeses to choose from.

Combine in proportions that please you:

Fresh spinach, stemmed, washed, and drained
Goat cheese, in small chunks
Dried tomatoes, softened and chopped (soften in hot water for a few minutes)
Red onion, diced OR chives, minced
Slivered almonds, lightly toasted

Serve with a vinaigrette--balsamic or red wine vinegar would be good.

Spinach Salad with Eggs and Bacon

The spinach in the garden that over-wintered from last year is starting to get big enough to tempt me to pick it. And, of course, there has been spinach available from local farms for a while now. Excellent local eggs and bacon are also available (try Bostrom's Farm for some amazingly good bacon).

For the simplest version, combine in proportions that please you:

Fresh spinach, washed and drained
Hard-boiled eggs, diced
Cooked bacon, finely chopped

Toss and top with a vinaigrette--a mustard-y one would be a good choice.

You can also add other veggies to this if you like.

Herbed Goat Cheese Spread

Here's another option for those chives and, as the season progresses, other herbs. This is great on crackers, bread, or veggies, or, come summertime, try it as a pizza topping with sliced fresh tomatoes on top. There are lots of great local goat cheese options.

8 ounces ricotta cheese
3 ounces goat cheese
1/2 cup chopped chives or other herbs
½ tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Mash the ricotta and goat cheese together in a small bowl until they are well combined.

Add the chives, salt, and pepper and mix well.

Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate.

Makes about 2 cups.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Herbed Yogurt

The chives in the garden are calling to me. Here's one easy way to use them, along with some of Sidehill Farm's incredibly delicious yogurt. Of course, you can also use all sorts of other herbs this way, too, as they come into season. Try cilantro, basil, mint, or a combination, as well as the chives.

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives (or other herbs)

Combine well. Use as a dip for pita, chips, or veggies, or as a topping for Indian dishes or savory pancakes.

Balsamic Greens with Barley, Raisins, Feta, and Walnuts

You can use pretty much any kind of greens you can find for this dish--spinach, arugula, whatever. Put them together with your local onions, garlic, and feta and serve this as either a main dish or a side dish.

1 cup pearl barley
3 cups water
6 cups coarsely chopped greens
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
¾ cup raisins
¾ tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup walnut pieces, toasted
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Place the barley and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the water is absorbed and the barley is tender, about 30 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and the raisins and stir for a minute or so. Add the greens (you may have to do this in batches) and cook until they are wilted and most of the vinegar has evaporated. Stir in the salt, pepper, and toasted walnuts.

Combine the greens mixture with the barley and feta. Serve hot.

Serves 3-4 as a main dish.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

California Dreaming

I just got back from ten days in California, a combination of business and vacation. Sunday, we went with friends to the farmers market at the Marin Civic Center (in San Rafael, just north of San Francisco in Marin County), and I have to admit to feeling a bit of envy for our friends out there who are able to eat an amazing array of locally grown food all year round with little extra effort. Farmers markets and CSAs go year-round, and all those crops we grow in spring and fall out here are winter crops in Northern California. My husband and I lived in Berkeley for five years and got a CSA box for much of that time. Even in January and February it was filled with an incredible variety of foods.

On the other hand, living out here and eating locally I find that I have a greater appreciation for each food in its season and I like the cycle of each year that is so much stronger here in the Northeast. Maybe it's just proof that I really am a New Englander, but I also kind of like the culinary challenge. Speaking of which, I have huge, flourishing clump of chives in the garden begging to be used for something.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Gouda and Porcini Quiche

Local eggs, milk, and cheese are pretty much always easily available around here, making quiche and its relatives an easy locavore meal.

1 deep 9-inch pastry shell
1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms
1 medium onion, sliced lengthwise
Salt and pepper to taste
4 eggs
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cut shredded Gouda

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Uses a fork to make pricks in the pastry shell, then prebake for about 12 minutes.

Place the mushrooms in a bowl and add boiling water until they are just covered. Let stand for 5-10 minutes, then drain and mince.

Heat a little olive oil in a skillet and saute the onion for 4-5 minutes. Add the minced porcinis and salt and pepper to taste.

Beat the eggs and milk together in a bowl.

After prebaking the pastry shell, spread the Gouda in the bottom. Spread the onion and porcini mixture over the cheese, then pour the egg and milk mixture over the vegetables. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the quiche is cooked through in the center. If you are concerned about spillage in the oven, place the pie plate on a cookie sheet covered with foil.

Serves 4.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Beef and Parsnip Stew

This is really flavorful and satisfying, a bit different from a traditional beef stew with the sweetness of parsnips and cinnamon. I used stew beef from Wheelview Farm.

1 lb stew beef, in small cubes
2 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon (1/4 tsp + 3/4 tsp)
1 1/2 tsp paprika (1/2 tsp + 1 tsp)
2 tsp butter (1 tsp + 1 tsp)
1 large onion, diced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
4 large parsnips, peeled and cut into cubes/rounds (about 5 cups)
Beef stock or water + beef bouillon cubes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup frozen peas (optional)

Toss the beef with the flour, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp paprika, and a little salt and pepper. Melt 1 tsp butter in a skillet and brown the meat, stirring frequently.

In a soup pot, melt the remaining 1 tsp butter and saute the onions, garlic, and parsnips for about 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the remaining 3/4 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp paprika and stir. Add the browned beef and pour in enough stock or water to cover (if using water, add the bouillon cubes now as well). Simmer for 30 minutes or so.

Add the peas if using and simmer until heated through. Taste stew and adjust seasonings if needed.

Serves 3-4.

Monday, April 6, 2009

More Roasted Parsnips and Celeriac

Because spring-dug parsnips are so incredibly good, and because there is still local celeriac at Green Fields Market... It is not, of course, strictly necessary to combine them--you could roast either on their own and it would be delicious. You could also add carrots if you have access to local ones.

1 medium celeriac root, peeled and cubed
2 enormous parsnips, peeled, woody core removed, and cut into cubes/rounds
1-2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried parsley (or 1-2 Tbsp chopped frozen)
2 tsp lemon juice
olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Toss all ingredients (except frozen parsley, if using) in a roasting pan. Roast for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender. If using frozen parsley, toss it in at the end and stir.

Serves 4-6.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Spinach and Onion Pizza with White Bean Puree

Spring is a good time to eat your greens, so here is another tasty idea of something to do with spinach. This recipe makes two pizzas, but could easily be halved. (I often make two pizzas when we only need one for dinner--the other makes a good lunch or dinner the next day. My grandmother used to call this "planned-overs".)

2 14-inch pizza crusts
2 cups cooked white beans (or 1 15-oz can)
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
Black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp olive oil, plus more as needed
2 medium onions, sliced lengthwise
1/2 lb spinach, stemmed
1 tsp dried oregano
6-8 oz. shredded mozzarella

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

Combine the beans, garlic, 1 tsp salt, black pepper, lemon juice and olive oil in a food processor and process until smooth. Add a little water until it reaches consistency of a thick sauce.

Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onions and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the spinach and oregano and saute just until the spinach is wilted. Remove from heat.

Spread the bean mixture onto the pizza crusts. Top with the onions and spinach, then sprinkle with the mozzarella. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the crust is done and the cheese starts to brown.

Serves 5-6.