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.

Spinach
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.

Salad
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
water

Dressing
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.