Monday, December 20, 2010

Procuring a Christmas Ham

Two years ago, we drove over to Bostrom Farm a few days before Christmas, had a chat with Kyle Bostrom, and came home with a lovely ham for Christmas dinner. All more or less on a whim. Not so easy this year. Inquiring ahead found Bostrom's all out of pork until February. Likewise Wells Tavern Farm in Shelburne, where we got our Thanksgiving turkey. We finally lucked out at Hager's Farm Market on Route 2 in Shelburne, carrying home a 13 pound ham.

Hagers Farm Market is open 7 days a week, year-round. It carries an array of meat from the Hager Brothers Farm in Colrain, along with many other local products. In addition to the ham, we bought sausage (I found another source for chorizo!) and organic eggs. They also had many maple products, honey, ice cream, local preserves and even wine.

Pizza with Roasted Tomatoes, Bacon, and Rosemary

This was one of those serendipitous last minute inspirations that made me wish I had made two. The tomatoes, bacon, and rosemary do something really special together. If you need to roast the tomatoes, you can put run frozen whole tomatoes under warm water to skin them, then place straight into the oven at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
4 oz. shredded mozzarella
1 large shallot, minced
4 strips cooked bacon, chopped
1 1/2 cups roasted tomatoes, excess liquid drained off
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste

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

Spread the mozzarella over the pizza crust, then sprinkle with shallots and bacon. Distribute the roasted tomatoes over the top, then sprinkle with rosemary, salt, and pepper. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until crust is done and cheese begins to brown.

Serves 3-4.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Easy Slow Cooker Turkey Stew

Simple, easy, and in season. (And not that different from Slow Cooker Chicken Stew.) Assemble it in ten minutes in the morning, then enjoy at night after a busy day or when you want to spend time wrapping gifts or baking cookies instead of making dinner.

3 cups shredded cooked turkey (frozen is fine)
3 medium potatoes, cubed
3 medium carrots, sliced in 1/4-inch rounds
1 large onion, finely chopped
Water and/or stock (turkey if you have it, otherwise chicken)
Salt and pepper to taste
Sprig of sage or thyme (optional)

Place the turkey, potatoes, carrots, and onion in the slow cooker and add enough water or stock to cover. Add some salt and pepper, and the sage or thyme of using. Cook on Low for 7-9 hours. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Serves 4-6.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Beef Share Contents

Well, it has taken a few weeks, but I finally dug my way through all the beef in the freezer and took an inventory. I now have a much better idea of what's in there to work with (and a list to remind me). For anyone who's interested in what a share might contain, here's an example. Of course, the size of a share will vary depending on the size of the cow and how many people you share it with. And the cuts can vary quite a bit; if you're the organizer of the sharing, you get to tell the slaughterhouse what you want in the way of cuts. Here's what we got:

Total weight of share: about 62 lbs. We split a cow among 6 households.

Ground beef: 12 1-lb packages
Hamburger patties: 3 packages of 4 4-oz patties each
Stew meat (in chunks): 6 1-lb packages
Shanks (also called soup bones): 3
Eye round roast: 1
Standing rib roast: 1
London broil (shoulder): 2 (about 1 lb each)
Skirt steak: 1
Short ribs: 2 pkgs
Top round steak: 1 (about 1 lb)
Chuck steak, bone-in: 4 (huge; probably 2+ lbs each)
NY sirloin steak, bone-in: 2 (also huge, probably 2+ lbs each)
Porterhouse steak, bone-in: 3
Rib-eye steak, bone-in: 2
T-bone steak: 2

I think tomorrow I'm going to make Beef and Parsnip Stew.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Springfield Winter Fare Dec. 18

Save the date for Saturday, December 18, especially if you live in the southern part of the Valley. Springfield's first ever Winter Fare will be happening from 10-2 at Springfield Technical Community College (STCC).

See CISA's great roundup of additional Winter Fare markets, one-day winter markets, and regular weekly winter markets here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Stir-Fried Beef and Onions with Tat Soi

After receiving our beef share (about 70 lbs) a couple weeks ago, my freezer is suddenly stuffed with beef. It just kind of got dumped in there in a hurry, though, without much organization, so it's been daunting to dig through to find good cuts to use. I need to actually take it all out and inventory it, then put it back in a more logical fashion. At some point.

In the meantime, I dug out a steak the other night and made this stir fry with onions from the last farmers market and tat soi (a hardy Asian green) from our CSA share. Yum! Serve this over rice.

canola oil
1 1/2 lbs beef steak, thinly sliced
8-10 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp minced ginger root
4 medium onions, sliced lengthwise
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 lb tat soi (or substitute other greens)

Heat some canola oil in a wok or large skillet. Add the beef and cook until done. Remove the beef from the pan and set aside. Heat a little more oil, then add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the onion and stir-fry an additional 3-4 minutes, until the onions are translucent but not completely soft.

Mix a little soy sauce into the cornstarch to form a thin paste. Add the beef back into the frying pan, then add the soy sauce and the paste and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens. Add the tat soi and cook just until wilted, 1-2 minutes.

Serve hot over rice.

Serve 4-6.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Catalan Pasta with Sausage, Arugula, and Romesco Sauce

Back in the summer I made up some romesco sauce, a traditional Catalan sauce made from roasted red peppers, garlic, and almonds, among other ingredients, and froze a few packets of it. This was the first time I pulled one out to use and it just knocked my socks off. If you find yourself with the opportunity (or as it had happened in my case, necessity) of using a lot of sweet red peppers at once, make this sauce. You won't regret it. With some in the freezer, you then have the option for an easy, quick, but remarkably sophisticated and flavorful meal, good enough to serve company.


1 lb cut pasta, such as penne rigate
salt
olive oil
1 lb chorizo or Italian sausage, casings removed
1/2 lb arugula, coarsely chopped
1 cup romesco sauce

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a little salt and olive oil, and cook the pasta. Drain when done.

While you heat the water and cook the pasta, assembly the rest of the dish. Cook the sausage in a large skillet, breaking it up as you go. When it is done, drain off most of the fat, then add the arugula and saute briefly until just wilted (1 minute or less).

When the pasta is done and drained, add the sausage and arugula, then stir in the romesco sauce. The sauce is thick and you will have to mix well to coat everything.

Serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Gingery Edamame and Carrot Soup

We grew edamame in our garden this year, and basically froze the whole harvest after blanching and shelling. Last night I took out the first packet to make this soup. I've always liked edamame, but homegrown is definitely better than the frozen kind from the store - much more flavorful. Here I combined them with carrots, salad turnips, and some tat soi (a cold hardy Asian green) from our CSA share. If you want to give the soup some more substance, you can add the optional vermicelli and/or tofu.

1 Tbsp canola oil
1 1/2 Tbsp grated ginger root
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks (or rounds if you're in a hurry)
2-3 salad turnips, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1/2 - 3/4 lb shelled edamame
Several cups water and/or vegetable stock
1/4 lb vermicelli, in 1-2" lengths (optional)
1 lb tofu, cubed (optional)
1/3 cup soy sauce
Salt to taste
1/4 lb tat soi (or other greens of your choice)

Heat the canola oil in a soup pot. Add the ginger and garlic and saute over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, turnips, and edamame and saute an additional minute or so, then add enough water and/or stock to generously cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the carrots and turnips are tender.

When the vegetables are tender, add the pasta and/or tofu if using and cook until the pasta is done, about 6-8 minutes. Add the soy sauce, salt to taste, and add the tat soi. Cook until the tat soi is tender, 2 minutes or so.

Serve hot. Serves 4-6.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pizza with Kale, Turkey, and Cheddar

Another use for some of that remaining turkey. We had enough left for me to put away a few packets of shredded turkey in the freezer for future use, a nice treat.

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
3 cups chopped kale
2-3 oz. shredded mozzarella
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked turkey
1 medium shallot, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 oz. shredded sharp cheddar

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

Heat some more olive oil in a medium skillet, then saute the kale until tender, about 5 minutes.

Spread the mozzarella over the pizza crust, then add the kale, turkey, and minced shallot. Top with cheddar. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the crust is done and the cheese begins to brown.

Serves 3-4.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pizza with Goat Cheese and Leeks

To my thinking, you really just can't go wrong with goat cheese. It combines nicely here with the mild flavor of sauteed leeks.

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
3 medium leeks, thinly sliced
3 oz. shredded mozzarella
3 oz. crumbled goat cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

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

Heat a little olive oil in a medium skillet. Add the leeks and saute over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, until tender.

Spread the mozzarella over the pizza crust. Top with the leeks, then the goat cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste (not much salt needed). Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the crust is done and the cheese begins to brown.

Serves 3-4.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mushroom Soup with Rosemary-Parmesan Dumplings

This soup is quite simple, allowing the flavorful dumplings to play a starring role. My increasingly picky three year old scarfed them down.

Soup
olive oil
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb mushrooms (shiitake or whatever you like), sliced
3 medium carrots, sliced in rounds
Water and/or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste

Dumplings
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp minced fresh rosemary
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup all purpose flour

To prepare the soup, heat some olive oil in a soup pot. Add the garlic and saute over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots and several cups of water and/or stock, bring to a boil, then simmer until the carrots are tender.

While the soup simmers, prepare the dumplings. Combine the egg, rosemary, olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl. Stir in the Parmesan, then add the baking powder and flour and mix with a fork until it forms a dough.

Form the dough into walnut-sized balls with your hands and drop them into the soup with a slotted spoon. Do this carefully to ensure they don't stick together. Cook in the soup until done, about 5-7 minutes.

Serve the soup and dumplings together in bowls.

Serves about 4.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Ideas for Leftover Turkey

Most people, myself included, don't cook much turkey except at the holidays and thus don't have an army of recipes for the leftovers. Here are some ideas, when you get tired of pot pie and soup.

1. add turkey to a classic Waldorf salad
2. substitute turkey for beef in chili (use shredded turkey); turkey marries surprisingly well with Mexican and Southwestern flavors
3. pasta with cream sauce, turkey, and bacon or mushrooms
4. turkey quesadillas - turkey goes well with sharp cheddar and spice
5. turkey salad (a la chicken salad) with blue cheese and pears

Got some other good ideas? Share them in the comments!

Turkey Soup with Porcini-Garlic Broth

A slightly different but still easy twist on turkey soup. Use turkey stock if you made some.

1/4 cup dried porcini pieces
water and/or stock (turkey or chicken)
olive oil
8-10 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium carrots, sliced
3-4 cups shredded cooked turkey
1/2 lb cut pasta (rotini is nice)
1/4 cup marsala
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a little water and pour enough over the porcini pieces to just cover them. Mince the mushrooms when they are nice and soft and be sure to reserve the soaking liquid.

While the mushroom soak, heat some olive oil in a soup pot, then add the garlic and saute over medium-high heat for 2 minutes or so. Add the garlic, carrots, and several cups of water or stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the turkey and pasta and boil until the pasta is tender, about 10 more minutes. Add the marsala and salt and pepper to taste.

Serves about 6.

Roasted Heritage Turkey

I know, I know, about a week too late with this recipe, right? But I wanted to test it again this year to be sure it was really good, since last year was my first heritage turkey ever. There's nothing revolutionary here, but it has yielded excellent, succulent results two years running, so try it with your Christmas turkey (if you have one) or save it for next year. I've never tried this on a small turkey, so I can't vouch for how well it would work on a smaller bird. Our turkey this year was 20 pounds, for a crowd of 16 and some good leftovers.

1 14+ lb heritage turkey
1-2 apples, quartered
2 small onions, quartered
6-8 cloves garlic, whole (no need to peel)
Several sprigs of sage
1/4 cup butter, softened
Salt and pepper

If needed, thaw the turkey over 2-3 days in the refrigerator. Remove from the fridge about 2 hours before you plan to cook it, so it can warm up a bit.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and remove all racks except for the very bottom one.

Place the turkey breast side up on a rack in a large roasting pan. Using your hands, generously coat the inside of the turkey with salt and pepper. Stuff the main cavity and the neck cavity with the apples, onions, garlic, and sage. Using cooking twine and/or turkey skewers, close up the cavities and tie the turkey's legs together. Use skewers to secure the wing tips to the body (to help prevent over cooking of the wings). Rub all exposed turkey skin with the butter, then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.

Roast the turkey at 450 for 30 minutes. The skin should be nicely browned. Then turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees and cover the turkey loosely with aluminum foil (do not tuck the foil all the way down over the pan - just cover most of the breast and legs and leave the sides of the foil loose). Roast for another 2 hours, then check the internal temperature by sticking an instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, without touching bone. The turkey is done when the temperature reaches at least 165 degrees. If the turkey is not done yet, roast for another 30 minutes; repeat as needed. (My 20 lb turkey took 3 hours from start to finish.)

When the turkey is done, remove it from the oven. Carefully tilt it up so the juices can run out of the cavity into the pan, then remove the turkey to a platter and let it rest for at least 30 minutes (cover with a towel or two if you like, to keep it warmer). Use the pan juices to make gravy.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Butternut Polenta with Garlicky Tomato and Kale Sauce

I like to add a little cooked squash to polenta at this time of year, but it's optional. Roasting frozen whole tomatoes is easy and lends a wonderful depth of flavor to the simple sauce; just run tomatoes under warm water to remove skins, then put frozen ones straight into the oven and roast for 30 minutes or so. If you like, you can serve this in bowls with the sauce spooned over the top--or follow the recipe for a broiled version with cheese.

Polenta
3 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 cup coarse cornmeal
1 cup cooked mashed winter squash (butternut is good)

Topping
olive oil
6-7 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups roasted tomatoes
4-5 cups chopped kale
Salt and pepper to taste
3-4 oz. shredded cheddar

To prepare the polenta, bring the 3 cups of water to a boil, add the salt, then slowly whisk in the cornmeal, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the polenta is nice and thick (time will vary depending on the coarseness of your cornmeal and whether you are using "instant" polenta meal). While the polenta cooks, prepare the sauce. Also preheat the broiler.

Heat some olive oil in a large saucepan, then add the garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the roasted tomatoes and mash them a bit in the pan. If needed, add a bit of their cooking liquid to form a thick sauce. Add the kale and cook, stirring periodically, over medium heat until the kale is tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Oil a 10-inch skillet or 8-inch square pan and spread the polenta in an even layer in the bottom of it. Top with the sauce, then sprinkle the cheese over it. Place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, until the cheese begins to brown nicely. (Alternatively, if you need more time, you can place the assembled dish in the oven at 375 for about 15 minutes.)

Serves about 4.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Late Fall CSA Box #2

Another box, another bounteous load of local produce.

Lettuce
Kale
Beets
Potatoes
Butternut squash
Pie pumpkin
Leeks
Celery
Carrots
Cilantro
Daikon
Garlic
Turnips

More of this week's items are things that will keep for a while, which is nice, though in the end I did manage to use just about everything from the last box before this one came. The pumpkin is already earmarked for pumpkin pie (I was hoping we would get one!), and perhaps the squash as well (I need to make two pumpkin pies for the big crowd we're hosting this year). I have to admit that neither beets nor turnips are on my list of preferred vegetables, but I'll either figure out something good to do with them or foist them off on our neighbors. That's the risk you take with a CSA share, but everything else is so wonderful that I don't mind.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Winter Farmers Markets

There's a new winter farmers market in the Valley! The Amherst Winter Farmers Market will be happening every Saturday from 10-2 at the Amherst Middle School, 170 Chestnut St., Amherst. The market starts December 4 and will go through April.

There's also a winter market in Brattleboro that happens every Saturday from 10-2. The Brattleboro market is already underway and will go through March.

And to round it all out, Northampton's winter market, located in the basement of Thorne's, also happens on Saturdays, from 9-2. It opens this Saturday, Nov. 20 and is set to go through April 30.

Greenfield Farmers Market Ends This Saturday

This Saturday will be the last day of the Greenfield Farmers Market. Get there while you can, and stock up on great local food for Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pizza with Red Caps and Arugula

This is what I did with the other half of the huge red cap mushroom I bought at the farmers market on Saturday, plus the huge bunch of arugula that came in our CSA box. The earthy flavors compliment each other nicely.

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
4-6 oz. shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup red cap mushroom, chopped
1/2 lb arugula, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 shallot, minced

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Paint the pizza crust lightly with olive oil, then top with about two thirds of the mozzarella.

Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet. Add the mushrooms and saute for 2-3 minutes, then add the arugula. Continue to saute over high heat just until wilted, about 1 minute. Stir in salt and pepper to taste.

Spread the mushroom and arugula mixture over the cheese on the pizza crust. Sprinkle with the minced shallot, then top with the remaining cheese.

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

Serves 3-4.

Variation: Skip the mozzarella on top and instead use chunks of goat cheese.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thanksgiving Ideas

It's almost Thanksgiving, a holiday I look forward to every fall. As a meal of traditional dishes, it's just made for local ingredients. I haven't developed any new Thanksgiving recipes this year, but check out the items tagged thanksgiving from previous years for some ideas if you're still figuring out your menu.

Hearty Mushroom Vegetable Stew

To my happy surprise, Paul Lagreze was at the farmers market again this past weekend with an array of mushrooms. In addition to his usual shiitakes, he had a good supply of oyster mushrooms and red caps, a huge and very tender mushroom with a flavor like that of porcini. Red caps and shiitakes form the flavor base of this stew, which is filled out with other fall vegetables, lentils, and local barley (available from Four Star Farms, and carried at Green Fields Market). Feel free to use whatever type of mushrooms you can get your hands on.

olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1/2 lb flavorful mushrooms, chopped
Several cups stock and/or water (I used beef stock, but veggie would work too)
3/4 brown lentils
3/4 cup barley
1 medium head celery, chopped
6 medium carrots, in rounds
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a bit of olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the onions and saute for 2-3 minutes over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Add some stock and/or water, then the lentils and barley. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until the lentils and barley are tender (30 minutes or so). Add the celery and carrots and continue to cook until tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

Serves at least 6.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Stew

This takes a little more effort than some of my slow cooker recipes, but you can still get it all into the pot in about 20 minutes. The result is great comfort food, very satisfying.

2-3 medium potatoes, cubed (no need to peel)
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped
2 medium onions, in chunks
Chicken stock and/or water
4 whole chicken legs or equivalent parts (frozen is fine, no need to thaw)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large sprig rosemary (optional)

Place all the vegetables in a layer in the bottom of the slow cooker. Add chicken stock or water to just cover them. Place the chicken pieces on top and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Add the sprig of rosemary if you have it. Put the cover on the pot and cook for 7-9 hours on Low (or a bit longer; this is quite forgiving).

Just before you are ready to eat, you may opt to take out the chicken and remove the meat from the bone, then put the meat back into the stew. Or serve with the whole chicken parts for a speedier arrival at the table.

Serves 4-6.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pizza with Chard, Onions, and Feta

First CSA greens recipe... The chard was really good here, but other greens would work, too.

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
1 medium red onion, sliced
1/2 lb Swiss chard, chopped
1/2 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
4 oz. shredded mozzarella
3-4 oz. crumbled feta

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

Heat some more olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and saute for about a minute. Add the chard in batches, stirring until it wilts and stopping before it completely loses its body. Stir in the oregano and some salt and pepper.

Spread the mozzarella over the pizza crust. Top with the chard and onion mixture. It will make a generous topping, but don't be afraid - the result is just right. Sprinkle feta over the vegetables.

Bake the pizza for 15-18 minutes, until the crust is done and the feta begins to brown around the edges.

Serve hot.

Serves 3-4.

First Fall CSA Box

If you had a CSA share this summer, you may now be feeling a combination of wistfulness and relief, missing the weekly box but, at the same time, secretly glad not to be trying to figure out what to do with an enormous quantity of something or another. Here's it just the opposite: all summer long we eat out of our garden, and in the late fall we get a CSA. We picked up our first Picadilly Farm box this past Thursday. Just as I remember from last year, the abundance and beauty contained therein exceeded even my anticipatory imaginings.

Among other things, we now have Swiss chard, spinach, arugula, lots of lettuce, and radicchio. Also potatoes, carrots, delicata squash, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, garlic, and a red onion. That's just what I remember off the top of my head; I'm pretty sure there were a few other things in there. Yikes! The potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and squash will keep for a bit, but the greens need to get used up soon. So...stay tuned for greens recipes!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Mushroom Leek Risotto

I scooped up some shiitakes and oyster mushrooms from Paul Lagreze of New England Wild Edibles at the farmers market this Saturday. Combined with leeks from my garden, they made a delicious and earthy risotto. For a really proper risotto, use about a cup of white wine for your first addition of liquid to the rice - I never do this because I never have white wine on hand, and the dishes always come out delicious anyway, but the wine does add a certain something.

6-8 cups water and/or stock (chicken or veg)
olive oil
4-5 medium leeks, sliced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1 lb mixed mushrooms, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (optional)

Heat the water and/or stock in a medium saucepan and keep it warm.

Heat a little olive oil in a heavy pot, then add the leeks and saute until soft, 3-5 minutes. Add the rice and saute for 1-2 minutes, until it turns translucent. Add a cup of liquid and cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat until it is absorbed. Add another cup and cook until absorbed. Repeat until rice is thoroughly tender.

While the rice cooks, heat a bit more olive oil in a large skillet. Add the mushrooms and saute until tender but still somewhat firm, 5 minutes or so. Add salt and pepper to taste.

When the rice is done, stir the mushrooms into it. If desired, stir in Parmesan as well. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes, Fennel, and Mushrooms

I used some of my last fresh tomatoes for this, but whole frozen or canned tomatoes would work perfectly, too. You can serve this hot or at room temperature, which makes it a decent option for pot luck meals or buffets; in that case, mix some grated Parmesan right in with the pasta. For a version with more protein, see the optional additions.

2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 medium fennel bulb plus tender stalks, chopped
4-5 cups coarsely chopped and seeded tomatoes
1/4 lb shiitake mushrooms, sliced or quartered
1 tsp whole fennel seeds
Salt and pepper to taste
olive oil
1 lb dry cut pasta (such as penne, shells, etc)
Grated Parmesan for topping
Optional additions: toasted pine nuts, sausage, cannellini

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Toss the vegetables together in a large baking dish. Sprinkle with the fennel seed, salt, and pepper, then drizzle generously with olive oil. Stir to coat everything well. Roast for 20-30 minutes, until the vegetables are nice and tender and starting to caramelize a bit.

While the vegetables roast, cook the pasta in a pot of salted boiling water. Drain the pasta, then toss with the vegetables.

Serve hot or at room temperature, and pass grated Parmesan at the table.

Serves about 6.

Local Wine

Mineral Hills Winery in Florence opens tomorrow with sales of its wine (apple, grape, and honey)! Tours and tastings every Friday-Sunday or by appointment. Check it out.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pizza with Roasted Eggplant, Onion, and Feta

This is it, I'm officially out of eggplant until next year.

1/2 lb eggplant, peeled and sliced 1/8-inch thick (quartered if large)
1 medium onion, sliced
olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 14-inch pizza crust
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2-3 oz. crumbled feta
2-3 oz. shredded mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 400 degree.

Toss the eggplant and onion in a baking dish and drizzle generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat evenly. Roast for 20-30 minutes, until vegetables are tender.

Turn the oven up to 450 degrees.

Spread the pizza crust with a little olive oil, then the tomato sauce. Top with the roasted eggplant and onion, then sprinkle with crumbled feta and top with mozzarella. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until crust is done and cheese begins to brown.

Serves 3-4.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Roasted Green Tomato Salsa

Since I had a lot of tomatoes, and I just can't leave well enough alone, here's another salsa recipe for green tomatoes.

7 lbs green (unripe) tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
1/2 lb green chili peppers and/or green sweet peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
Salt to taste
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
3/4 cup lime juice
1/2 cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the tomatoes, peppers, onions, and garlic in roasting pans (I needed two) and sprinkle generously with salt. Roast for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Puree the vegetables and any liquid they have given off, then pour it all into a large pot. Add the vinegar, lime juice, and sugar and mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Refrigerate, freeze, or can.

To can, use pint jars and process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Yield: about 6 pints.

Green Tomato Salsa

As I had hoped, this worked out pretty well. The result is much like salsa verde more traditionally made with tomatillos: a green, fairly thin, smooth salsa with a nice sour edge to it.

7-8 lbs green (unripe) tomatoes
1/2 lb green chili peppers and sweet green peppers (ratio up to you)
2 large onions
1 cup lime juice
1/4 cup sugar, or to taste
1/2 tsp ground cumin, or to taste
Salt to taste

Coarsely chop the tomatoes, seed and chop the peppers, and chop the onions. Put it all in a large pot with a splash of water, and cook until nice and soft, 15-20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.

Puree the vegetables, then stir in the lime juice, sugar, cumin, and salt. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Refrigerate, freeze, or can.

To can, use pint jars and process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Yield: about 6 pints.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Green Tomatoes

We had our first semi-hard frost here a night or two ago, and there's a hard frost forecast for tomorrow night. Time to finally bring in the last of the green tomatoes still on the vine. Yesterday my husband picked about 8 pounds of them. Last year at this time I made and canned a bunch of Green Tomato and Apple Chutney, which was delicious. This year I think I may experiment with green tomato salsa. Unripe tomatoes are a bit like tomatillos in texture and flavor, so it seems like they ought to work pretty well in a riff on salsa verde. If it comes out well, I'll post the recipe.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Applesauce Pancakes

These are best with a nice, chunky homemade applesauce. I recently made some from a bag of utility apples from Clarkdale Fruit Farms. The pancakes come out tender and soft with a wonderful apple-y flavor.

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups applesauce
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp brown sugar
Optional additions: raisins, walnuts
Butter or oil for cooking

Preheat one or two skillets over low heat while you prepare the batter.

Combine the whole wheat pastry flour, all purpose flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.

In another bowl, combine the egg, applesauce, milk, and brown sugar. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until well combined. If desired, add in optional addition(s).

Cook the pancakes in butter or oil over medium heat, roughly 3 minutes per side. Keep cooked pancakes warm under a towel or in a low oven.

Serve with maple syrup.

Serves about four.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

White Bean Stew with Roasted Tomatoes, Sausage, and Kale

With nights dipping down below freezing, the flavor of kale improves noticeably in the fall. In this stew I put it together with beans and sausage, both classic companions for kale, and some more late-season tomatoes.

Be sure to plan ahead so you have time to soak the beans for at least 6 hours.

2 cups dried white beans
olive oil
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, finely chopped
Water or stock (chicken or vegetable)
2-3 cups chopped roasted tomatoes
1 sprig rosemary (3 inches long or so)
1 lb cooked sausage, sliced into rounds
1 medium bunch kale, stemmed and chopped (4-6 cups)
Salt and pepper to taste

Soak the beans in a generous amount of water for at least 6 hours. Drain and rinse.

Heat a little olive oil in a large pot. Add the garlic and onion and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the beans and enough water and/or stock to cover them by about an inch. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until tender, about 60-90 minutes.

When the beans are tender, add the tomatoes, rosemary, sausage, and kale and simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Remove the rosemary and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves about 6.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pizza with Roasted Garlic and Shiitakes

A beautiful way to show off good quality mushrooms. Shiitakes and roasted garlic go beautifully together.

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
2/3 cup tomato sauce (a roasted garlic flavor would be ideal)
1/4 lb shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and cut in large slices
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large or 2 small heads roasted garlic, cloves peeled and halved
2-3 oz. shredded mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Paint the pizza crust lightly with olive oil, then top with tomato sauce.

Heat a bit more olive oil in a skillet, then saute the shiitakes until tender, 5 minutes or so. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Spread the shiitakes over the tomato sauce, then sprinkle the roasted garlic over it as well. Top with mozzarella.

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

Serves 3-4.

Roasted Eggplant-Garlic Dip

This is sort of a riff on baba ganoush. Try it with pita, crackers, or as a dip for veggies or chips.

I think eggplant season is finally just about over. We could have another frost any night now. Today I went out to the garden and picked all the eggplants that were past the itty-bitty size - meaning that once again I have a big pile of them needing to get used!

I have heard rumors that pureed eggplant like this actually freezes decently, unlike most preparations of it. But I haven't yet tried it out to confirm.

1 lb eggplant
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 head roasted garlic, cloves peeled
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped fresh parsley to taste (optional)

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Cut the calyxes of the eggplants and place them in a baking dish. Bake until completely soft, about 20-30 minutes (exact time will depend on the size and shape of your eggplants). Remove from oven and let cool enough to handle.

When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, peel the skin off (with the help of a paring knife, it should come right off in strips). Place the eggplant flesh in a food processor along with the olive oil, lemon juice, and some salt and pepper. Process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add parsley if desired.

Refrigerate until ready to use. Serve cool or at room temperature.

Makes 1 1/2 - 2 cups.

Greenfield Farmers Market Season Extended

I had heard rumors about this before, but I got confirmation this morning from market manager Devon Whitney-Deal: the Greenfield Farmers Market is extending its season to November 20 this year. In past years the market has closed after the last Saturday in October. So the November shopping may get a bit chilly, but we'll be able to stock up on Thanksgiving veggies right up to that week!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fall Sheep Shearing and Fiber Day at Winterberry Farm Tomorrow

Winterberry Farm in Leverett is having a Fall Sheep Shearing and Fiber Day tomorrow from 9:00-4:00. Take the kids and check it out! The weather is supposed to be better by tomorrow. Winterberry's website is a little hard to navigate, but directions are here. According to the website, the farm also has a limited amount of meat for sale, including lamb, sometimes pork, and a variety of poultry at what look like pretty reasonable prices.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Savory Lamb-Stuffed Eggplant

This stuffing is so good I could happily eat it straight. But the eggplant is nice, too, and certainly makes for a more elegant presentation. If you happen to end up with extra stuffing (I didn't), you can serve it over pasta.

3 1/2 - 4 lbs eggplant (nice fat ones)
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 lb ground lamb or lamb sausage (casings removed)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups finely chopped tomato (seeded)
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp minced fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried)
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted (optional)
3/4 cup crumbled feta

Cut the calyxes off the eggplants, then slice them in half the long way. Using a spoon or melon baller, scoop out the flesh, leaving about 1/2-inch thick shell. Line the eggplant halves up in a baking dish, cut side up. Chop the flesh you removed, and reserve it.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Brown the lamb in a large skillet, breaking it up well as you go. Add some salt and pepper. When the lamb is cooked, pour off some of the fat, then add the garlic and onion. Cook over medium-high heat for another 2-3 minutes, then add the tomato and the chopped eggplant flesh. Lower the heat to medium, cover the pan, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is nice and tender, 6-10 minutes. Stir in the parsley and oregano. Remove from heat and stir in the pine nuts (if using) and feta.

Spoon the lamb mixture into the eggplant halves, filling them well.

Bake for 30-45 minutes, until eggplant shells are tender. Serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pizza with Roasted Tomatoes, Shallots, and Edam

As you may have noticed, I'm going through a bit of an infatuation with roasted tomatoes. There won't be many more off the vine (we had our first frost last night, but the plants seem remarkably okay; still, only a couple weeks left at most), but since frozen tomatoes roast so amazingly well I'll be making them right through the winter. Yay!

I used Chase Hill Farm's Dutch Gold for the cheese - really good. They sell it at the Greenfield farmers market, Green Fields Market, and the Clarkdale Farms farm stand; possibly other places as well.

2-3 cups coarsely chopped tomatoes (or cherry tomato halves)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
14-inch pizza crust
4 oz. shredded Edam
1-2 tsp chopped fresh oregano (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1 large shallot, minced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the tomatoes in a baking pan (one with sides!). Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then toss to coat. Roast for 15-20 minutes, then remove from oven.

While the tomatoes roast, lightly paint the pizza crust with olive oil, then top with the shredded Edam.

When the tomatoes are done, remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the excess liquid behind. Spread them over the cheese on the pizza crust. Sprinkle with oregano and minced shallot.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, until crust is done.

Serves 3-4.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Wheelview Open Farm This Weekend

Wheelview Farm in Shelburne is having one of its open farm weekends this weekend. Stop by the farm from 10-4 Saturday or Sunday to chat with John and Carolyn Wheeler, check out the beautiful shaggy cows, and buy some excellent local beef on sale.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Local Grain CSA

Just heard about this, again via CISA. Sign up for the Pioneer Valley Heritage Grain CSA, organized by Wheatberry Farm and Bakery with the participation of multiple Valley Farms, and get 100 pounds of heritage grains and dry beans.

A full share costs $350. A half share, about 50 pounds, costs $200. There are two pick-up dates in November, at farms in Hadley and Shutesbury, and shareholders must show up at both to get the whole share. The grains are unmilled (i.e. whole grain, not flour) but milling is available weekdays at Wheatberry Farm or you can use a home flour mill like I have.

See the website for details and the sign-up form.

(If 100 lbs, or even 50 lbs, sounds like too much at once, there are a few other sources of local grain and flour in the Valley, including Four Star Farms in Northfield and Upinngil Farm in Gill. I have seen Four Star Farms at Winter Fare and other markets, and Upinngil has a farm stand that is open year round.

Bringing Winter Fare to Springfield

Some exciting news from CISA's October newsletter:

Help CISA bring Winter Fare to Springfield!
Winter Fare is a vibrant, diverse, one-day winter farmers' market that has become an annual event in Greenfield and Northampton, and CISA is bringing it to Springfield this December! In addition to an amazing array of locally-grown foods, Winter Fare features workshops on eating and growing locally, a barter fair, hot soup, and educational displays. We need volunteers to help with planning and advance promotion of the market, as well as help running the event. Please contact CISA's volunteer coordinator Ann Pemberton at volunteer@buylocalfood.org or 413-665-1700 x 18 for more information.

The availability of great local food through the winter just keeps growing and growing in the Pioneer Valley, and CISA has played a huge part in this.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Squash Pancakes

Since I've still got a bunch of cooked butternut squash in my fridge, awaiting packaging for the freezer, it was an obvious thing to put into Sunday morning pancakes. I don't know why, but when added to baked goods, squash or pumpkin always seems to have a leavening effect - a particularly nice bonus when combined with whole grain flour.

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup cooked winter squash or pumpkin, well mashed or pureed
Butter or oil for cooking
Maple syrup for topping

Preheat one or two large skillets over low heat while you put the batter together (thanks to Mark Bittman for this tip).

Combine the whole wheat pastry flour, all purpose flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, milk, brown sugar, and squash or pumpkin and mix well. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well.

Cook the pancakes in butter or oil over medium heat, roughly 3 minutes per side. Keep cooked pancakes warm under a towel or in a low oven.

Serve with maple syrup.

Serves about four.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Simple Squash Soup with Ginger

Okay, it's October, I can start to think about cooking winter vegetables. I know winter squashes have been in the farmers markets for weeks, but with all the tomatoes and eggplants and so forth still so abundant, and with summer such a recent memory, I can just never bring myself to cook squash in September.

A farmer friend gave us a bunch of small butternuts that couldn't be sold. Most had their stems broken off and wouldn't keep. So I put the whole lot in the oven last night. Some went into this soup and the rest is in the fridge, destined for the freezer. I haven't quite decided whether to package it all in quarts for soup or in 1 cup bags for baking. Maybe some of each.

1 Tbsp canola oil
2 medium onions, sliced
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp grated ginger root
6 cups cooked butternut squash (or similar smooth-fleshed squash)
Water (or use stock if you like)
Salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onions and saute over medium heat until soft, 5 minutes or so. Add the garlic and ginger and saute another 2-3 minutes. Add the squash and some water. Remove from heat and puree, either with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender or food processor (in the latter case, return to the pot when done). Add additional water if needed to achieve the desired thickness. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4-6.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Pizza with Eggplant and Goat Cheese

Yes, the eggplant recipes just keep coming! This pizza is pretty simple, but it's really good.

1 medium eggplant (about 1/2-3/4 l), peeled
olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 14-inch pizza crust
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
4 oz. goat cheese

Preheat the broiler.

Slice the eggplant lengthwise into 1/8-inch slices. Spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet, then paint lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil the eggplant for 3-5 minutes, until tender.

Turn the oven to 450 degrees.

Paint the pizza crust lightly with olive oil, then top with tomato sauce. Spread the eggplant slices over the sauce, then sprinkle with onions. Spread small chunks of goat cheese over the whole thing.

Bake pizza for 15-18 minutes, until crust is done.

Serves 3-4.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Late Season CSA Shares

Picadilly Farm (in Winchester, NH, just over the line from MA) is offering a late season CSA again this year. For $140, you get four LARGE (1 1/9 bushel) boxes of produce - two per month in November and December. We did this last year and have just signed up again for this year. The shares include a variety of storage crops like squash and root vegetables, but also cold hardy greens until the first snow (last year, this meant we got a load of greens in both November boxes). They offer pick-up options at the farm, at Bart's Cafe in Greenfield, and at The Works in Keene, NH.

See the farm's website for details and a sign-up form.

Roasted Eggplant-Tomato Sauce

More eggplant, as promised. It sort of hides in this sauce, but it does add some nice body and texture, and a subtle flavor. And roasting tomatoes is definitely my new favorite thing to do with them. Serve this with pasta.

Also, you can make this with frozen whole tomatoes. In fact, it might just be the best possible way to use frozen whole tomatoes. Remove them from the freezer and run under warm water to slip the skins off. Then they can go straight into the oven.

2 lbs eggplant (larger types are best)
2 lbs whole tomatoes (paste types are good, but use what you have)
olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 lb sweet Italian sausage (optional)
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium shallots, minced

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.

Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and rub the cut side with olive oil. Place cut side down in a baking pan.

Remove the skins from the tomatoes (you can do this by quickly blanching in boiling water, then running under cold water; or run frozen ones under warm water). Place then in another baking dish, one with fairly high sides. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place both baking pans in the oven and roast for 20-30 minutes, until the eggplant is completely tender. Remove and let cool.

Using a slotted spoon, scoop the tomatoes out of their pan (there will be a lot of liquid) and place them in a colander over a bowl (reserve the liquid; you may need some of it).

When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh (or peel the skin off; either way works) and puree it in a food processor. Set aside.

Heat some olive oil in Dutch oven. If using the sausage, add to the pan and brown it well, breaking it into pieces as you go. Drain off most of the fat. Add the garlic and shallots to the pan and saute over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and eggplant and mix well. Stir in some of the reserved tomato liquid if desired, to reach a sauce consistency that you like.

Serve over pasta. Makes enough to serve with 1 lb pasta.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Herbed Risotto with Eggplant and Peppers

For some reason, our eggplant production sort of exploded this month. Saturday I made Hunan-Style Eggplant with Bacon and Shiitake Mushrooms, Sunday I made this risotto, and I'm plotting out the rest of the week around things that contain lots of eggplant. Eggplant doesn't take that well to freezing or other methods of preservation, so we may as well gorge on it while it lasts! It will be gone with the first real frost.

This recipe makes a large batch - enough for two meals for my family. But it halves easily.

Vegetables
Olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced
1 1/2 lbs eggplant, peeled and cut in small dice
1 lb sweet frying peppers, chopped (bell is okay)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 - 2 cups chopped fresh basil

Risotto
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
3 cups uncooked Arborio rice
7 cups water or stock (chicken or vegetable)
4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
Toasted pinenuts or almonds for topping (optional)

I prepared the risotto in the pressure cooker, but you can always do it the old fashioned way if you prefer. For the pressure cooker: Heat the olive oil, then add the shallot and saute over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes. Add the rice and saute, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes more. Pour in the water or stock, close and lock the lid, and turn the heat to high. When it reaches pressure, cook for 7 minutes on high pressure, then remove from heat and release pressure. Remove the lid and stir in the goat cheese and basil.

While the risotto is cooking, saute the vegetables. Heat some olive oil in a large skillet, then add the onions and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the eggplant and peppers and continue to saute over medium heat until nice and tender. Add salt and pepper to taste, stir in the basil, and remove from heat.

Serve the vegetables over mounds of the risotto. Top with toasted nuts if desired.

Serves 6-8.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Garlicky Grilled Lamb Chops

More grilled lamb. It's just so good!

2 lamb shoulder chops
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine the garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl or jar.

Pat the lamb dry, then generously spread the garlic mixture over the chops on all sides. Let it sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes if you have time.

Grill over high heat, 4-5 minutes a side.

Serves 2.

Pizza with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Cheddar, and Onions

Cherry tomatoes are usually some of the best producers into the fall. They slow down like everything else, but keep going until there's a frost. Roasting them brings out a wonderful, rich, complex flavor.

20-30 cherry tomatoes, halved
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 14-inch pizza crust
4-5 oz. shredded sharp cheddar
1 medium red onion, sliced in very thin rings
1/4-1/2 tsp dried oregano or 1 tsp chopped fresh

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the cherry tomatoes in a baking pan (7x11 or so is a good size) with a bit of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes then remove from the oven and turn the temperature up to 450.

Paint the pizza crust with more olive oil, then cover with the cheddar. Lay the rings of onion in a layer over the cheddar. Using a slotted spoon, remove cherry tomatoes from the roasting pan (leaving excess liquid behind!) and spread them over the pizza. Sprinkle with oregano.

Bake pizza for 15-18 minutes, until crust is done.

Serves 3-4.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Thai Curry with Beef, Peppers, and Green Beans

As the days get cooler, it starts become possible to imagine simmering something on the stove for an hour. September is our window to do this with summer veggies. Serve this dish over rice or, if you like, add beef stock to turn it into a stew.

2 lbs stew beef, trimmed into bite-sized cubes
2 Tbsp grated ginger root
1-2 Tbsp red curry paste
2 14-oz cans coconut milk (light is fine)
2 medium onions, sliced lengthwise
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1 lb green beans, in 1- to 2-inch lengths
1 cup Thai basil leaves (optional but good)
Salt to taste

Brown the beef in a Dutch oven or other large heavy pot. Add the ginger and curry paste, then the coconut milk. Simmer over low heat for an hour or so, until the meat is tender.

Add the onions, peppers, and green beans to the pot, turn the heat to medium, and cook until tender, 5-10 minutes. Add the basil leaves and cook just until wilted. Add salt to taste and remove from heat.

Serve over rice.

Serves about 6.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Grilled Lamb with Rosemary

Lamb and rosemary are a classic combination, and with good reason. Here's an easy way to enjoy them on the grill while the grilling weather lasts.

2 lamb steaks or large chops
Salt and pepper
1-2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

Pat the lamb dry, then sprinkle all over with the salt, pepper, and rosemary. Let it sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes if you have time.

Grill over high heat, 4-5 minutes a side.

Serves 2.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Chipotle Eggplant Chili

We came back from a week in Nova Scotia (where I ate my fill of local seafood!) to find that our eggplants had had a growth spurt in our absence. The result of the heatwave two weeks ago, I guess. Not only had a friend harvested several while we were gone, but there were (and still are) many more hanging on the plants.

Chipotle and eggplant work remarkably well together, and the spicy peppers give this a good kick.

olive oil
2-3 medium onions, chopped
2-3 medium eggplants, peeled and cubed
2 red bell peppers, diced
3 cups chopped paste tomatoes (fresh, frozen, or canned)
1-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced (per your taste for heat)
2-3 cups cooked black or pinto beans (optional)
2-3 tsp ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb ground beef

Heat some olive oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot. Add the onions and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the eggplant, stir well, and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring frequently, until tender. Add the peppers, tomatoes, chipotles, and beans (if using), then stir in cumin, salt and pepper. Simmer until all vegetables are tender.

While the veggies simmer, cook the beef in a skillet until well browned. Drain off the fat and add the beef to the chili. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Serves 4-6.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Another Change in the Weather

Well, after posting last week about the sudden turn to cool weather and the seeming end of summer, I guess I was asking for it - it's been in the 90s all week and I'm roasting in my attic office. On the upside, the heat-loving veggies in the garden are having a delightful resurgence. Suddenly there are several eggplants ready, a burst of beans, and fast ripening tomatoes. The heat wave does seem likely to be short-lived, though, probably over by the weekend with a turn to more seasonable September weather.

In the meantime, I have several pounds of tomatoes and green beans that need to be dealt with in the next two days, before we go on vacation. With time being tight, I'll probably just freeze them all whole.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Peach Salsa

One last salsa recipe for August! This is adapted from a recipe given to me by my friend Amy Mayer.

4 1/2 lbs peaches
2 1/2 lbs tomatoes (red is good)
3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped (optional)
2 red onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup lime juice
1-2 tsp cumin
Salt to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Prepare the peaches and tomatoes for peeling by dunking them in boiling water for 30 seconds, then into ice water. Then peel - the skins should essentially slip off.

Pit and chop the peaches. Chop the tomatoes, seeding as you go. Drain the tomatoes of extra liquid, then combine with the peaches in a large pot.

Cook the peaches and tomatoes for about 5 minutes, then puree a little bit, either with an immersion blender or by removing a small quantity to puree in a blender then return to the pot. Add the jalapenos, bell pepper if using, and the onions. Add the vinegar, lime juice, and cumin bring to a boil, then simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add salt to taste and stir in the cilantro. Taste and adjust seasonings.

The salsa is now ready to refrigerate, freeze, or can.

Yield: 6 pints

Monday, August 30, 2010

Salsa Verde

Another summer salsa recipe for the repetoire. By adding a good amount of tomatoes and some lime juice, this becomes safe for canning.

3 1/2 lbs green-when-ripe tomatoes
1/2 lb tomatillos, husks removed
3 New Mexico-style green chilies
1 large onion
1/2 cup lime juice
3/4 cup chopped cilantro
Salt to taste

Core the tomatoes and coarsely chop. Coarsely chop the tomatillos, peppers, and onions. Combine the veggies in a Dutch oven and cook until soft. Puree to desired level of smoothness, then return to the pot. Add the lime juice, cilantro, and salt. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Yield: 5 half-pints

Friday, August 27, 2010

Roasted Tomato Sauce

Roasting gives tomatoes, and the subsequent sauce, a richer flavor than you get from just cooking them in a pot. You don't have to limit your use of the roasted tomatoes to making sauce, of course - if you skip the simmering down step you can turn them into a delicious soup. Or just chop the tomatoes and use them straight - with pasta, on pizza, etc.

7 1/2 lbs paste tomatoes (such as Roma, San Marzano, Amish Paste, etc)
olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Other seasonings as desired: fresh or dried basil, oregano, thyme, sage, parsley...your choice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Core the tomatoes and spread them out in a single layer in a large baking dish (or two); use a dish with reasonably high sides, as the tomatoes will give off a good bit of liquid. Put them in the oven and roast for 30-40 minutes, stirring once or twice. When they're done they will be very soft and the skins will probably have split. Remove from the oven and scoop the tomatoes into a colander in the sink to drain.

You can stop here and use the tomatoes as you like. Or proceed:

When the tomatoes are cool enough to work with and have drained off some of their excess liquid, put them through a mill (I used my Squeezo Strainer, which is awesome for tomato sauce and apple sauce; if you want to get one, check eBay - I got a lightly used one for half the retail price that way). After this step I had about 8 cups. You can stop here and make tomato soup. Or proceed:

Pour the milled tomatoes into a Dutch oven or other large, heavy-bottomed pot. Simmer over low heat until the sauce reduces to a consistency you like. In the meantime, heat a little olive oil in a small skillet and saute the garlic and shallot, then add them to the sauce. When the sauce is done reducing, add salt and pepper to taste. I ended up with about 4 1/2 cups; precise yield will depend on how much you reduce the sauce.

Feel free to add additional seasonings to the sauce. It is remarkably good with just the garlic and shallot, but any of the herbs listed above (or a combination) would be nice additions.

Yield: 4-5 cups of sauce.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Roasted Late Summer Veggies with Rosemary

I don't do much roasting during the summer - it's usually just too hot to turn the oven on. So I took advantage of the cooler weather we have been having (at least up until today - and I very glad to see the sun again!) and roasted up some eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes last night. I served this over risotto, but it would also work with pasta or on its own as a side dish.

8-10 whole cloves garlic, peeled and halved or quartered (if large)
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cubed
2 medium sweet peppers, seeded and chopped
5-6 Roma tomatoes (or similar), seeded and chopped in large pieces
1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
3-4 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Toss all ingredients in a 9x13-inch baking dish (or similar). Make sure everything is well coated with oil. Roast for 40-45 minutes, stirring every two or three times, until the vegetables are all nicely tender.

Serve hot.

Serves 3-4.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Change in the Weather

Summer seems to have ended rather abruptly this year. The weather may yet warm up again for a while, but as we head toward September, we know it's not going to last. In the garden, our cukes are just about done and a couple of the tomato plants are too. The other tomatoes are slowing down, and so are the pole beans and eggplants. They'll keep going until we get a frost, but the pace of growth and production won't be what is was earlier this month. At the same time, we're already starting to see the fall crops come in. We've got delicata squash just about ready in the garden, and I saw a handful of other winter squashes at the farmers market last weekend.

We have a couple enormous kale plants in the garden that I've barely touched all summer, instead favoring the showier summer veggies, but last night I made Pureed Potato Soup with Kale and Bacon with our own leeks and potatoes, a perfect match for the weather.

And summer winds toward its end, we are also celebrating Massachusetts Farmers Market Week. With this post, I am participating in the Loving Local Blogathon - hosted by In Our Grandmothers Kitchens (Tinky Weisblat's blog). Check out the list of blogs and posts - you might discover a new favorite resource. And while you're at it, stop by the Federation of Massachusetts Farmers Markets and make a donation to help support these wonderful resources for local food all over the state.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Digital Scale

This is a handy item to have in the kitchen if you're doing much in the way of food preservation or large batch cooking (and actually, it's handy even for regular cooking). I have this one, but they are made by a variety of companies at a variety of price points. Mine will give weights up to 11 pounds and has a digital display with options for ounces, pounds, grams, and kilograms. It also has a tare option, which is great: put a container on the scale before turning it on and it will zero out the container's weight; or put the container on and hit the tare button.

Not only does the scale allow me to measure precise quantities to either follow recipes or record the amounts used in the ones I develop myself, it is also great for packaging food in uniform quantities for the freezer - and being able to add the weight to my labels so I know later how much I've got.

Peaches - Freezing, Drying, and Canning Jam

Saturday afternoon I picked up two pecks of peaches (that's about 16 quarts) from Clarkdale - where they are selling "orchard run" peaches for $25 for two pecks (or $15 for one). Orchard run fruit has been picked but not separated into first and second quality - generally a good deal for putting up. The quality of the two pecks I bought was great; all the peaches were ripe and most were in very good shape. I spent the rest of the weekend drying, freezing, baking, and making jam.

Freezing Peaches
Cut peaches in half and remove pits. Slice each half into four to six pieces. For best results, tray freeze the slices before packaging: arrange on trays, individual pieces separate from each other, and freeze for 6-8 hours. Then package in freezer bags (I do 1 lb of frozen slices per quart bag). If you don't have the time or patience to tray freeze, it's also ok to just dump all the slices into freezer bags and freeze that way. They will stick together in a giant clump, but if you plan to thaw before using, that's not a huge problem.

Drying Peaches
To dry peaches in a dehydrator, cut them in half and remove the pits. No need to peel unless desired. Then slice about 1/4-inch thick - a mandoline is great for this but a knife works, too. Instead of wedges, cut pieces of even thickness from the inside of a half to the outside. Spread slices on the dehydrator trays and dry for 9-12 hours. Check after 9 hours and remove any pieces that are completely dry; rotate the trays as well. Check every hour after 9 hours and remote dry pieces.
Using a mandoline to slice peaches into the dehydrator
Jam
Here's my recipe for Ginger Peach Jam. You can make this with fresh or frozen peaches. Skip the lemon juice if you like. You can also substitute ground ginger for the fresh.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Free Harvest Supper on Sunday

Don't miss the annual Free Harvest Supper in Greenfield, happening this Sunday, August 22!

If you have not been before, it's a fantastic experience: awesome local food donated by area farms and cooked up into delicious dishes by local restaurants and volunteers, all served up to you and 600 or so of your neighbors outdoors in Court Square. Admission is free, but volunteers pass the hat, raising funds for the Farmers Market Coupon program of the Center for Self-Reliance, which helps low income folks in our community get access to fresh, local food at the farmers market.

Another great feature of the Free Harvest Supper is the Really, Really Free Market. If you have extra veggies from your garden or CSA share, bring them for the market. Then, if you like, pick out some vegetables you don't have and take them home.

Freezing Green Beans

Like almost everything else in the garden this year, the pole beans are producing in abundance. I have frozen about 7 pounds so far and there are more coming along.

Green beans (or purple or gold...) are great to have in the freezer in the winter. They freeze well and can be added easily to a variety of dishes or steamed to eat straight. The freezing method is as follows:

Stem the beans and, if desired, cut or snap them into 1 to 2-inch lengths. Wash if needed. Blanch briefly (I find steaming in a large pot is the easiest way to do this but you can also use boiling water), then dunk or rinse in cold water to stop them from cooking further. Shake off the water as best you can, then package the beans in freezer bags, squeezing out all the air. I usually pack about 1/2 lb per quart bag - this is a good amount for adding them to stir fries or casseroles and if I need more I can just thaw multiple bags.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Slow Cooker Spare Ribs With Chutney

A few weeks ago we picked up a package of spare ribs from Bostrom Farm at the farmers market. Yesterday I cooked them in the crock pot with some tomato ginger chutney, and the result was fantastic. Super easy to put together, too. Another time I think I would try it with blueberry chipotle chutney. Barbecue sauce would also work well, of course. The chutneys make a good stand-in because they have similar sweet-spicy-tangy qualities. Try serving these with cornbread and a green salad.

2 lbs pork spare ribs
Salt and pepper
1 cup tomato ginger chutney

Thaw the ribs if they are frozen (I was able to thaw a package of them in hot water in about 15 minutes). Place them in the slow cooker, either as a whole rack folded over on itself or cut into four pieces. Sprinkle all over with salt and pepper, then cover liberally with the chutney on all sides.

Cook the ribs on Low for 6-8 hours. When they're done, the meat will be falling-off-the-bone tender.

Serves 4.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hunan-Style Eggplant with Bacon and Shiitake Mushrooms

This recipe is definitely a keeper. Try it, you'll like it!

Eggplant is in season right now (and abundant in my garden). Bacon can be had from local sources included Bostrom Farm, and Paul Lagreze of New England Wild Edibles sells lovely shiitake mushrooms. Serve this over rice.


1/4 cup canola oil
2 1/2 lbs eggplant, cut 1/4-1/2 inch thick (in rounds for the long skinny kind, or in quarters or eighths for the fat kind)
1/4 lb uncooked bacon, chopped
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 lb shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and chopped
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp water or stock
Asian chili sauce to taste
6-8 scallions, sliced (white and green parts)

Heat the oil in a large skillet (better than a wok in this case). Add the eggplant and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until it is all tender. (Note: eggplant absorbs oil like crazy - don't add more after the oil is all absorbed or it will get too greasy in the end.) Remove the eggplant from the skillet and set aside.

Add the bacon to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and shiitakes and cook an additional 2 minutes or so, continuing to stir frequently. Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, water or stock, and a bit of chili sauce and stir, then add the eggplant back to the pan. Mix well to get the eggplant well coated with sauce, then cook over low heat for a few minutes so it can really absorb the flavors. Stir in the scallions and turn off the heat.

Serves about 4.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Chipotle Salsa for Canning

Another day, another mountain of slicers on the counter. This recipe makes a smaller batch than the last one, but the proportions are similar.

If you don't want to bother with proper canning, you can "refrigerator can" this stuff: ladle it into sterilized jars and top with sterilized lids and rings, then refrigerate. The jars will seal as the salsa chills, and the result will keep for a couple months in the fridge.

6-7 cups chopped tomato solids (see instructions below)
2 medium onions
1-2 sweet peppers
Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, to taste (I used 3)
1/2 - 3/4 cup cider vinegar
Salt to taste

Core and seed tomatoes, and peel if it's easy to do so with a knife. Chop in a food processor until well chopped but not pureed. Pour into a colander or sieve and shake/toss until much of the liquid has drained out and a more or less solid mass remains. Remove to a bowl (or one of my favorite kitchen items, an 8-cup measuring bowl/cup with a pouring spout). Repeat until you have 6-7 cups. Drain again, then put in a large saucepan.

Chop the onions, peppers, and chipotles in the food processor until well chopped but not pureed (pulsing works well for this). Add to the tomatoes in the saucepan.

Bring the vegetable mixture to a boil. Add the vinegar (1/2 cup is enough, but add more if your taste buds think it needs it) and salt, then simmer for a few minutes.

The salsa is now ready to eat or can.

To can the salsa, ladle it into sterilized pint jars and top with sterilized lids and rings taken directly from hot water. Boil in a hot water bath for 15 minutes, then remove and cool on a rack. (Or use 1/2 pint jars and boil for 10 minutes.) You should hear the ping of each lid as it seals down. If any jar fails to seal, refrigerate and eat in the next week or two.

Yields about 4 pints.

Salsa for Canning

In the last three days I have picked 30 pounds of tomatoes from our garden (we have 9 plants). While the bounty is thrilling, it is also rather overwhelming. I have been drying the cherry tomatoes and freezing the paste tomatoes, but what to do with the mountain of slicers? It turns out salsa is a great way to use these juicier specimens.

The amount of whole tomatoes you will need for this recipe will vary depending on the variety (or varieties) you use, so I am not giving a set number of pounds to start with. I would make sure you have a good ten pounds or so on hand, though. Just keep chopping and draining until you have about 10 cups. You can also use more peppers than listed here, if you want - up to about 5 cups.

10 cups chopped and drained tomatoes (see instructions below)
3 cups seeded and chopped peppers (sweet and/or hot)
4 medium red onions
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 cup lime juice
1 cup chopped cilantro
Salt to taste

A food processor is the easiest way to deal with all the chopping for this recipe. Don't process to the point of pureeing - just pulse until everything is well chopped. Some chunks are fine.

Core each tomato and peel if it's easy to do so (as is true of some heirloom varieties). Squeeze out some of the liquid and seeds. Chop the tomatoes in a food processor, then dump out into a colander or sieve. Shake/stir/toss until much of the excess liquid has drained out and you have a semi-solid mass. Measure (number of cups) and set aside. Repeat process until you have 10 cups of the semi-solid tomato mass.

Chop the peppers and onions in the food processor as well, then place them in a large pot along with the tomatoes and cumin. Bring to a boil, then simmer for a few minutes. Add the lime juice, cilantro, and salt, and turn off the heat.

At this point you can eat or can the salsa.

To can the salsa, ladle it into sterilized pint jars and top with sterilized lids and rings taken directly from hot water. Boil in a hot water bath for 15 minutes, then remove and cool on a rack. (Or use 1/2 pint jars and boil for 10 minutes.) You should hear the ping of each lid as it seals down. If any jar fails to seal, refrigerate and eat in the next week or two.

Yields about 8 pints.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Buying in Bulk for Canning/Freezing/Drying

If you don't have enough from your own garden and you want to put summer produce up for the winter, now is the time to buy in bulk. This has been a particularly stellar year for a lot of crops, including tomatoes, so farms up and down the valley are overflowing. Most farms will do bulk orders if you ask in advance, and some will have large quantities available at farmers markets or at their farm stands. For example, at the Greenfield Farmers Market this morning, Crabapple Farm had dozens of 10-pound boxes of tomatoes for sale. The prices on bulk produce are just about always better (and sometimes a lot better) than you would get buying the same stuff in smaller quantities. For particularly good deals, look for "seconds" or "utility" produce. These items may have some bad spots or may just not look as pretty as the ones that get displayed at the market, and are usually perfectly well suited to canning or freezing.

If you plan to buy in bulk to freeze, can, or dry, time your purchase carefully. None of this stuff keeps for long, and utility fruits and veggies may have particularly short lifespans. So figure out when you will have time to put the food up, and then plan to purchase that morning or the day before.

Pizza with Blackberries, Basil, and Leeks

Be sure to use nice sweet berries for this. Tart ones will sound a dissonant flavor note.

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
3-4 oz. shredded mozzarella
1 cup sliced leeks (about 2 fat ones)
1 cup chopped fresh basil
1 cup blackberries (cut in half if very large)
1-2 oz. goat cheese (optional)
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Heat a little olive oil in a small skillet and saute the leeks for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Paint the pizza crust lightly with olive oil, then spread the mozzarella over it. Top with the sauteed leeks, then sprinkle with basil. Top the pizza with the blackberries, then with the goat cheese (if using). Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake the pizza for 15-18 minutes, until the crust is done, the berries are juicy, and the cheese begins to brown.

Serves 3-4.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Freezing Blueberries

Blueberry season is approaching its end, so if you haven't stocked up on blueberries yet, now is the time!

We just picked up a 20lb box of low bush blueberries from The Benson Place in Heath and packaged them all for the freezer. (If you're wondering, 20 pounds of blueberries makes about 13 very full quart freezer bags.) Low bush blueberries are smaller and milder in flavor than their high bush cousins. They are very good for baking, particularly for muffins, pancakes, etc.

We also just picked up a 12-pint flat of high bush blueberries from one of the farms along River Road in Whately (alas, I don't know which one - my husband just stopped in on a whim and got the berries as he went by). We'll freeze most of these, too - with stronger flavor, they're great for smoothies and fruity desserts like pies and cobblers.

Freezing blueberries is super easy. If they're clean, just package them as is in freezer bags. If you need to wash them first, let them dry a bit before packaging. They don't stick together much, so you can fill a bag completely and then just remove whatever amount you need as you go along.

Another Way to Freeze Tomatoes

Each year I keep experimenting with freezing tomatoes, trying to find the best balance between effort and usability of the final product. Canning, of course, produces a result that is very high quality with very easy usability - but it's quite a lot of work up front. Freezing is quicker up front no matter how you do it, and it's also easier to do in small quantities - for example if you have just a couple pounds of tomatoes that will go bad if you don't do something with them.

So here's another method: This will work best for paste tomatoes (juicier ones will be too watery on thawing). Core and seed the tomatoes, then chop or dice. If you want a very finely chopped product, you could even do this with a few pulses in a food processor. Then package the tomatoes in quantities of 1-2 cups in quart freezer bags. Squeeze out the air, then spread the tomatoes out flat in a thin layer. Stack the bags in the freezer. Then, when you want to toss some chopped tomatoes into something you're cooking, you can thaw a bagful in a bowl of warm water in 10 minutes or so.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Potato Salad for a Crowd

This is a pretty basic, traditional potato salad, elevated from the humdrum by excellent ingredients and homemade mayonnaise. Use some of the incredibly delicious new potatoes available at farmers markets this time of year - fingerlings would be perfect, but any waxy type would work well. Red potatoes with the skin left on are nice visually, too. Feel free to halve or quarter the recipe if you're not making this for a party. The proportions for the mayo come from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything.

Salad
6 lbs potatoes, cubed (peel or not, your choice)
3 shallots, minced (about 1 cup)
8 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1/2 cup snipped chives
1 cup chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Mayo
1 uncooked egg
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp spicy mustard
Pinch of cayenne (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

You can make the mayonnaise while the potatoes cook (see below). To make the mayo, crack the egg into a blender, then add the lemon juice, about 1/4 cup of the canola oil, the mustard, and cayenne. Blend briefly, then slowly add the remainder of the canola and olive oil while the machine is running. The mayo will thicken and turn light yellow. Taste, then add salt and pepper to taste.

Boil the potatoes in a large pot of salted water until they are just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again. Combine the potatoes with the shallots, hardboiled eggs, chives, and parsley, then stir in the mayonnaise until everything is well coated. Refrigerate the salad until ready to serve.

Don't leave this salad out of the refrigerator for more than an hour.

Serves about 20.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Summer Stir-Fry with Peppers and Green Beans

It was a little bit of a thrill to make this dish, full of garden veggies but without a tomato or zucchini in sight! I made this with chicken, but it would work with whatever protein you like - beef, pork, tofu, tempeh, etc. Serve this over rice.

1 lb protein of your choice
Canola oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp minced ginger root
2 medium sweet onions, sliced lengthwise
1 lb green beans, cut into 1-2-inch lengths
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1-2 jalapeno or other hot peppers, seeded and minced (optional)
1/4 cup soy sauce, or to taste
1 Tbsp corn starch (optional; for thickening)
6-10 scallions, chopped
1/2-1 cup Thai basil leaves

Cook your protein in a wok or large skillet, then remove from heat and set aside.

Heat a bit of canola oil in the pan, then add the garlic, ginger, and onion and stir-fry over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the beans, peppers, and hot pepper (if using) and stir-fry for 3-5 minutes or until the vegetables are just tender.

Stir the corn starch into the soy sauce, then add the soy sauce, scallions, and Thai basil to the pan and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat. Serve over rice.

Serves 4-6.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Freezing Tomatoes


Since I seem to be on the subject of tomatoes lately...

Freezing is also a great way to preserve the overflowing tomato harvest for later in the year. Frozen tomatoes work well in soups, stews, casseroles, etc., and can also be made into soup or sauce. There are several ways to do it, depending on how much work you want to put in up front versus later.

1. Easiest up-front, more work later: Remove cores and freeze whole tomatoes in freezer bags. Later, you can take them out and run them under warm water, which will help the skins slip off. Thaw (in microwave or on counter) and cook (chop first if needed). This is a good option if you are overwhelmed now and think you might make sauce or tomato soup or that sort of thing later in the fall or winter.

2. More work now, easier later: Core the tomatoes, blanch in boiling water, then peel. Squeeze out seeds and excess liquid, then freeze in freezer bags (squeezing out excess air). To use later, just thaw, then chop and cook.

3. Even more work now, easiest later: Proceed as in option number 2, but add the step of chopping before packaging in freezer bags.

Particularly important for #2 and #3: package tomatoes in single-meal quantities. So, if you often add 2 cups of chopped tomatoes to a soup or chili, pack that amount in each bag. If you need more, you can thaw multiple bags, but it's very hard to use a partial bag.

You can thaw frozen tomatoes in the microwave or on the counter. For options #2 and #3, you can also place a frozen bag in a bowl of warm water for an hour or so.

Drying Tomatoes


It has been a bumper crop of tomatoes so far this year, and it's only early August. It has been so hot, everything is early this year.

One of the things I've been doing with all these tomatoes is drying them. We have a home dehydrator (this inexpensive model, plus two extra trays), which makes it easy.

Cherry tomatoes work especially well for drying. Just cut them in half, scoop out the seeds, and place them skin side down on the trays. I find they usually dry in 9-12 hours (I generally run the dehydrator overnight, and try to pick dry days to improve the efficiency). Paste tomatoes are also good for drying. You can likewise cut them in half and seed them, but they take longer to dry because of their thicker walls. Slicer type tomatoes can work, too, though it's a bit more work. Cut them at least 1/2-inch thick and try to get out what seeds and liquid you can.

We have tomatoes in many different colors in our garden, and I enjoy looking at the pretty mix of dried ones that results - bright red, dark red, yellow, green, orange. Packaged in small jars, they also make nice gifts.

Garlicky Lamb and Tomato Stew with Chickpeas

This year's tomato growing experience couldn't be more different from last year. Where we had cold, wet weather and a plague of blight, this year has been hot and mostly dry - perfect tomato weather (as long as you water sparingly at the base).

I used lamb sausage for this stew, which was delicious, but stew meat would work well, too. You can absolutely skip the Parmesan rind, but if you happen to have one lying about, do use it - it adds a nice flavor.

1 lb lamb sausage
8-10 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cups chick peas
1 1/2 - 2 lbs tomatoes, seeded and chopped (about 4 cups)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Parmesan rind (optional)

Brown the meat in a Dutch oven or soup pot. Pour off most of the fat, then add the garlic and onion and saute over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the chickpeas and tomatoes, along with some salt and pepper. If you are using the Parmesan rind, give the stew a few minutes to turn more liquid-y before adding. Simmer the stew over low heat for 20 minutes or so (longer if you're using stew meat). Serve hot.

Serves 4-5.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Requested: Greens

Thanks, requesters - keep 'em coming! This is fun.

I actually don't tend to cook a lot of greens during the height of summer because there are so many other tasty summer crops available right now that have a much shorter season. Local greens are available nearly year round at this point, so I tend to cook them more often in the spring and fall, and winter when I can get them. What that means if you're looking for recipes is that you should try the search box at the top left corner of the page, or cruise through the archive listings. You can also try clicking on the tags (Blogger calls them labels) below each post: clicking a tag will bring up all posts that have that tag attached to it. For this one, I've tagged greens, chard, kale, spinach, arugula, bok choy, and sorrel.

Curried Zucchini and Tomatoes with Chick Peas

Yet another recipe that makes good use of piles of zucchini and tomatoes - it must be August! I hadn't made curry in a while, so this made a nice change from all the Mediterranean type things I've been cooking lately. This makes a good sized batch--you can halve it if you like, or freeze some for later. Serve this over rice.

1 Tbsp canola oil
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp minced ginger root
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 medium onions, chopped
1 1/2 lbs paste tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 lbs zucchini, diced
3-4 cups cooked chick peas
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp flour for thickening (optional)

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large pot. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for about a minute over medium heat. Add the cumin, coriander, and some salt and pepper. Continue to saute, toasting the spices, for another minute or two. Add the onions and saute for 3-4 minutes, until soft. If things are sticking a lot, add a small splash of water. Stir in the tomatoes, zucchini, and chick peas, then cover and simmer until the vegetables are a bit soft, 15-20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.

When the vegetables are soft, stir in the cilantro. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed. If you want to thicken the curry a bit, scoop out a bit of the liquid into a small glass or bowl. Stir in about 1 Tbsp of flour to form a paste, then stir the paste back into the curry.

Serve over rice.

Serves about 6.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Pizza with Fresh Tomatoes, Basil, and Feta

This is a great way to enjoy and show off heirloom tomatoes. Local feta is available from Chase Hill Farm.

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
1 large tomato, in 1/4-inch slices
3/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
4 oz crumbled feta

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

When the oven is hot, pre-bake the crust for about 7 minutes. Remove from the oven, leaving the oven on.

Spread the tomato slices over the crust, then scatter the basil over then. Top with the crumbled feta. Bake or another 10-12 minutes, until the cheese begins to brown.

Serves 3-4.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Romesco Sauce

So here's what I did with the fire roasted red peppers. Romesco sauce is a traditional Spanish sauce. This recipe is adapted from many, many recipes that can be found on the Internet, all conceptually similar and none quite the same. It's one of those sauces that everyone's grandmother has a special recipe for. The result is sweet and pungent at the same time. In Spain it is typically served with grilled meat, seafood, and grilled vegetables. But you could also use it as a dip with veggies or pita chips, on bread or toast slices as an appetizer or tapa, even on pizza or with pasta (with pasta you might want to add in some roasted tomatoes).

8 oz. fire roasted red peppers
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup almonds, lightly toasted
2 large cloves garlic (or more to taste)
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp chili powder (or more to taste)
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food process or blender and process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.


If you want to freeze this, it takes well to the same storage method I use for pesto: place single-meal quantities into freezer bags and press flat.

Packaging for the freezer

Makes about 2 cups.

Requested: Parsley

What to do with huge bunches of parsley? You can freeze it, of course - either in ice cube trays or simply chopped and sealed in freezer bags. But one of my favorite things to do is to make Parsley-Mint Pesto. The addition of mint is great but you can skip it if all you have is the parsley.

You can use the pesto on pasta (1 cup for 1 lb cooked pasta), where it is great on its own or with the addition of chopped red pepper, dried tomatoes, and/or shredded chicken. It's also good on pizza with whatever you like, tossed with potatoes, and even with winter squash.

You can make big batches of pesto now (and this goes for basil pesto, too, of course) and freeze it in single-meal quantities. Put 1/2 cup or 1 cup of pesto in a quart freezer bag, flatten it out, and stack them up in the freezer. You can thaw and warm it in a bowl of warm water in about 10 minutes.