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.