Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Garlicky Tomato Soup with White Beans

Next year, I think we can either freeze fewer tomatoes or I need to make tomato soup more often. Right now I am in the mode of working through what's left in the freezer so I will be ready to start filling it again this summer - and we have quite a lot of tomatoes left! This soup used a fair amount of them, though, and it was definitely a winner that I will be making again. Easy, quick, and satisfying, with lots of flavor. You can thaw frozen tomatoes in the microwave or, if you plan ahead, overnight on the counter.

2-3 Tbsp olive oil
10-12 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
8-10 cups tomatoes and their liquid (thawed if frozen; canned also ok)
3 veggie bouillon cubes or some veggie stock
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup small uncooked pasta such as shells (optional)
3 cups cooked white beans

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot, then add the garlic an onion. Saute over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes, then add the tomatoes and their liquid, some stock or bouillon cubes, dried thyme, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes or so.

Puree the soup with an immersion blender, or do it in batches in a blender or food processor. Return to the pot to the burner and add the pasta and white beans. Cook over medium heat until the pasta is done, 8-10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Serves about 6.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pizza with Arugula and Bacon

When I stopped at Green Fields Market this weekend, I spotted a good selection of local greens available - including arugula, spinach, and salad mixes. We can also expect to see lots of greens at the farmers market this weekend! Pick up some Bostrom Farm bacon to go with them for a great combination.

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
2-3 oz. arugula
3-4 oz. shredded mozzarella
1 small shallot, minced
3 strips cooked bacon, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Paint the pizza crust with olive oil, somewhat generously.

Very briefly saute the arugula over high heat, just long enough to barely wilt it (30-60 seconds).

Spread half the cheese over the pizza crust. Spread the arugula over the cheese. Sprinkle with shallots and bacon, then add salt and pepper to taste. Top with the remaining cheese. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the crust is done and cheese begins to brown.

Serves 3-4.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Last Week for Apex Apples

It's the last week of April and that means it's the last week to buy apples from Apex Orchards in Shelburne. We stocked up last week on Braeburns and Empires and now have two refrigerator drawers full of apples to last us another few weeks. We have found that these long-stored apples are still in pretty great shape as long as you keep them refrigerated after getting them home--but kept out in the fruit bowl, they go downhill pretty quickly.

Once the apples are gone, we'll be into the spring fruit gap as we wait for strawberry season to begin in June. As I write this, it is cool, gray, and rainy outside, making June seem very far away - but really it's only a few weeks. Soon we will be picking strawberries in the hot sun!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Dijon Beef and Sweet Potato Stew

This marks the end of the stew beef from our share; next year I hope we can get more. We still have lots of steaks and ground beef, though, so those recipes will keep coming. This dish also marked the end of the sweet potatoes that I bought at Winter Fare - almost three months ago, but still in great shape. I stored them like the squash, in a paper bag in the mudroom.

2 lbs stew beef, trimmed and cubed
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp all purpose flour
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Water and/or stock (beef or veggie)
1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

In a large bowl, toss the beef with a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper and the flour.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven, then add the beef. Brown on all sides over high heat, scraping the bottom of the pot periodically to prevent too much sticking. When the beef is browned, add the onion and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for 4-5 minutes. Add the mustard, bay leaf, and thyme, plus enough water and/or stock to cover the meat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes.

Add the sweet potatoes to the pot, plus a bit more liquid if needed. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to very low, and simmer for at least another hour (and as long as 3). Just before you are ready to serve, taste and adjust seasonings. If the stew seems to watery, raise the heat to medium and cook uncovered for a bit.

Serves 4-6.

Grilled Steak with Sage and Garlic

The sage-garlic combination works with almost any kind of meat and is great on the grill.

Steak for two people (about 1 lb)
Salt and pepper
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1-2 tsp minced fresh sage
1-2 Tbsp olive oil

Take the steak out of the fridge, or thaw it, about an hour before you plan to cook it. (My steak is all in the freezer; I like to thaw it by putting it in a bowl of cold water. This takes about an hour.)

Liberally salt and pepper the steak on both sides.

Combine the garlic and sage in a small bowl and add enough olive oil to make sort of paste. Spread the paste all over the steak, both sides. Let sit for about an hour (or longer; if so, put it in the fridge and take it out again an hour before cooking so it can come to room temperature).

Grill the steak over high heat, about 5 minutes per side for medium rare.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pizza with Red Pepper, Garlic, and Sage

Mmm, picked the first fresh sage of the season from the garden this evening! Red peppers from the freezer as usual (if I stocked up on nothing else in my freezer, I would still make sure to have a big stash of red peppers). Here these two items are combined with fresh garlic in a Spanish-influenced pizza.

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
1/2 cup tomato sauce
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 1/2 tsp minced fresh sage
Salt and pepper to taste
3-4 oz. mozzarella, shredded or cubed

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

Spread the tomato sauce over the crust, then sprinkle with garlic, red pepper, and sage. Add salt and pepper to taste, then top with mozzarella. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the crust is done and the cheese begins to brown.

Serves 3-4.

Variations: If you'd like to add some meat to this, chorizo would be excellent. It is available (sometimes) at the Greenfield Farmers Coop from Not Your Ordinary Farm. Manchego cheese, if you happen to have some, would also be excellent in place some of the mozzarella.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Red Pepper, Potato, and Feta Scramble

I sometimes turn to scrambles for dinner when I'm looking for something quick. This one used peppers from the freezer, Chase Hill Farm feta, the last of the potatoes that I bought at Winter Fare, chives from the garden, and eggs from Over the Hill Ranch. Local all the way.

5 eggs, beaten
2-3 oz. crumbled feta
1/4 cup snipped chives
2 Tbsp olive oil
12 oz. potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced (frozen is fine)
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine the eggs, feta, and chives in a bowl and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the potatoes and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, for about 10 minutes or until tender. Add the garlic and pepper and saute for 2-3 minutes. Pour in the egg mixture and cook, scrambling, until the eggs are done. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve hot.

Serves 3-4.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Maple Cream Scones II

I posted a recipe for Maple Cream Scones back in 2008, but I think I like this one a little better. It's also a little simpler. The texture here is as perfectly light as a cream scone should be, and they hold their shape a little better than the others. You could easily add some blueberries to this dough as well.

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup maple syrup (preferably grade B)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add cream and maple syrup and stir until just combined. Drop by spoonfuls onto a baking sheet (I use a baking stone). Bake for about 15 minutes, until golden brown on top. Makes about 12 scones.

Variation: For a more formal presentation, add a little more flour so the dough is not too sticky. Turn out of the bowl onto a floured surface and knead a few times, then roll out to 3/4-inch thick and cut into rounds or wedges. Sprinkle with sugar if desired. Bake as directed above.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Strawberry-Rhubarb Sauce

Mmm, first rhubarb of the season! Straight from our garden. Strawberries from the freezer, picked last summer at Upinngil Farm - I always save a couple bags for early spring when the rhubarb is ready but fresh strawberries are still two months away.

I made this sauce to go over homemade cheesecake, and it was excellent. It would also be great over vanilla ice cream. Not to mention pancakes, waffles, or French toast!

2 cups whole strawberries (frozen is fine)
2 cups chopped rhubarb (strings removed if desired)
1/3 cup sugar

Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan with a small splash of water. Cook over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, then simmer over low heat for 30-45 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and puree if desired, then cool. Serve at room temperature.

Make about 1 1/2 cups.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Storing Winter Squash

It's a bit late in the season for this, but since you asked...

Winter squash and pumpkins store best in a place with moderate humidity and a cool but not cold temperature. For me this meant a cardboard box on a shelf in the mudroom, which is insulated but not heated (though open to the rest of the house). In good condition, squash and pumpkins will keep for several months this way. Some varieties keep better than others (delicata, for example, is not a great keeper; butternut can be very good).

Before storing, make sure you check the squash all over for any sign of bad spots or nicks. Even a small ding, if it breaks the skin, is an opening for bacteria and the squash will go bad. Likewise any spots that are already soft. A squash or pumpkin with any of these should be used promptly. Once in storage, you should check on your squash and pumpkins periodically (every couple weeks maybe; more often if it's convenient) so you can grab any that start to show signs of going bad and use them right away.

The other way to store squash and pumpkin is to cook and freeze it. These last few recipes I have posted have used squash from the freezer. I cook it, mash or puree it, and store it in quart-sized freezer bags in 1-cup quantities (the amount most often called for in baked goods recipes). If you have a squash that's starting to go bad and you aren't going to use it right away, you can preserve it this way.

Maple Pumpkin Muffins

With this recipe, there will be no more winter squash or pumpkin until the fall - this marks the end of my supply. The maple and pumpkin flavors play well together here with neither dominating.

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
Pinch of cinnamon (optional)
1 egg, beaten
3 Tbsp canola oil
1 cup pureed cooked pumpkin or winter squash
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup maple syrup (preferably grade B)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease tins for 12 standard or 18 smallish muffins.

Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon (if using) in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, combine the egg, oil, pumpkin or squash, milk, and maple syrup. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling each one about 2/3 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Makes 12-18 muffins.

Blueberry Lassi

I was tempted to call these smoothies, but really the consistency is much more like that of a lassi you might get at an Indian restaurant. It's a yogurt-based drink with some fruit added, rather than mostly fruit with some yogurt added. My two-year-old easily drank it with a straw. You can, of course, reverse the proportions or adjust them however you like. Likewise, you can use different fruit, or a combination. I've been using blueberries because we still have a bunch of them in the freezer and since they don't stick together that much when frozen it's easy to use a small amount at a time--plus they are quick and easy to process this way.

For each serving:
1/4 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup yogurt (maple, plain, or vanilla - or your choice)

Blend in a blender or food processor. These proportions make for large-ish kid servings or moderate adult servings.

Variations: virtually infinite. For a sweeter lassi, add a touch of honey or maple syrup. Try other easily processed frozen fruit. In fresh fruit season, use that - try peaches or strawberries.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Grilled Fennel-Garlic Pork Chops

We used the grill for the second time this season tonight, and I am looking forward to lots more over the coming months. Pork chops from Bostrom Farm were excellent as always, and I really like this fennel-garlic combination. I believe fennel seed with pork is a fairly typical Italian preparation, but it is not one I had tried before. I will definitely be making this again. I served this with a green salad and maple roasted parsnips--yum!

1 1/2 tsp whole fennel seeds
2-3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp salt
Black pepper to taste
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
2 good-sized pork chops (about 1 lb total)

Grind the fennel seeds in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle (or, if you don't have either of those, in a plastic bag with a rolling pin). Combine them in a small jar or bowl with the garlic, salt, pepper, and enough olive oil to make a paste.

Rinse the chops and pat dry, then spread them all over with the fennel-garlic paste. Let sit for 30 minutes or so if you have time (or up to a few hours, if you put them in the fridge; bring back to room temperature before cooking).

Grill the chops for 1-2 minutes per side over a hot fire, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for another 10-20 minutes, turning once or twice, until the internal temperature reaches at least 137 F. Let sit for a few minutes, then serve.

Serves 2.

Pumpkin (or Squash) Corn Muffins

I am down to one last package of pureed winter squash/pumpkin in the freezer, which is good because the warmer the weather gets the less desire I have to eat winter vegetables. My tolerance for them does extend a bit longer in desserts and baked goods, though. And these muffins were delicious! As written, the recipe is not too sweet; if you like sweeter muffins, just add more sugar, honey, or maple syrup.

1 1/4 cups cornmeal (preferably stone ground)
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup pureed cooked pumpkin or winter squash
1/3 cup milk
2 Tbsp canola oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease tins for 12 large of 18 medium-sized muffins.

Whisk together the cornmeal, whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, combine the eggs, squash, milk, and oil. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

Spoon the batter into muffin tins, filling them about two-thirds full.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a few muffins comes out clean.

Makes 12-18 muffins.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pressure Cooker Risotto with Sorrel and Chives

This is a lovely spring risotto. The sorrel flavor is much milder here than in the pizza, working more like an herb than a cooking green.

This was my first try at making risotto in the pressure cooker, and I will definitely do it again. So easy and fast, and with excellent results. If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can of course make this on the stovetop with standard risotto technique (add the liquid 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until absorbed each time; add until rice is cooked and risotto reaches desired consistency).

Olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1 1/2 cups uncooked arborio rice
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1/3 cup minced fresh sorrel (stemmed)
1/3 cup snipped chives
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a little olive oil in the pressure cooker with the lid off, then add the onion. Saute for 2-3 minutes, then add the rice. Saute, stirring frequently, for another 2-3 minutes, until the rice turns translucent. Add all of the stock, cover, lock, and turn to high pressure setting. Bring to pressure, then reduce heat and cook for 7 minutes. Remove from heat and release pressure. Stir in sorrel, chives, Parmesan, and salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Pizza with Sorrel, Potatoes, and Feta

This pizza really highlights sorrel's bright, tangy, lemony flavor. If you love sorrel, feel free to load more on here, up to about 4 cups chopped. The salty feta helps to balance the sourness. I was able to make this last night with sorrel and chives straight from my garden - yay for early perennials!

If you don't have or don't care for sorrel, try making this with spinach or arugula instead.

1/2 lb potatoes, peeled and sliced very thin
1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
3 oz. shredded mozzarella
1-2 cups finely chopped fresh sorrel (stemmed)
2-3 Tbsp snipped fresh chives (optional)
3 oz. crumbled feta
Salt and pepper to taste

Par-cook the potatoes by lightly steaming or boiling until not quite tender.

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

Spread the mozzarella over the crust, then add the sorrel. Sprinkle the chives over the sorrel, then carefully spread the par-cooked potatoes evenly over the greens. Sprinkle with feta and a bit of salt and pepper. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the crust is done and cheese begins to brown.

Serves 3-4.

Maple Squash Pudding

A winter squash (or pumpkin)-based treat for warmer weather, or any time you like pudding. This is quick to make, especially if the squash is already cooked, but needs time to chill. For a richer pudding, substitute cream for a bit of the milk. Serve topped with whipped cream and/or a little pinch of cinnamon if you want to jazz it up.

3 eggs, beaten
2 1/2 cups milk (whole is best, but use what you like)
2 cups pureed cooked winter squash or pumpkin
1/3 cup maple syrup (grade B is best)
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional but good)
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp butter

Combine the eggs, milk, squash, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and salt in a large bowl and whisk until smooth.

Place the flour in a Dutch oven and put it on the stove. Turn on the heat and whisk in the squash mixture. Continue to whisk constantly over medium heat until all lumps are gone. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for about 10 minutes, until the mixture thickens.

Pour the pudding into the serving dish or dishes of your choice (one large or else individual). Cover and refrigerate until chilled. If you want to avoid a skin forming on the top, place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding.

Serves about 6.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Pesto Barley with Parsnips

This is a fairly quick recipe that doesn't require tons of time over the stove, which made it good for today's unseasonably hot weather. You can use hull barley instead of pearl, but it will take longer to cook.

1 1/2 cups pearl barley
4 cups water
olive oil
2 medium parsnips, peeled and shredded or diced (woody cores removed as needed)
1 1/2 cups cooked shredded chicken (optional)
1 1/2 - 2 cups cooked kidney beans
1 cup pesto
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the barley and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until the barley is tender and has absorbed all the water.

While the barley cooks, heat a little olive oil in a medium skillet and saute the parsnips over low-medium heat until tender, about 8 minutes.

Combine the barley, parsnips, chicken (if using), and beans in a large bowl. Stir in the pesto until everything is coated. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Serves 4-6.

Farmers Market Countdown

Correction: This post originally gave the opening date as May 2; it is actually Saturday May 1.

The Greenfield Farmers Market opens May 1 - if this is where you shop, mark your calendar! At the first market of the year we are likely to see asparagus, salad greens, cooking greens, radishes, eggs, meat, and cheese, among other things. If past experience is a guide, we will also see fiddleheads and ramps, usually available only the first week - get them while you can!

This is also a good time to think about a CSA share. CISA offers a nice listing of farms with shares available for the 2010 season.

As for myself, I am watching plants sprout in the garden and stretch upward under the lights indoors - in between a lot of travel, mostly for work, which has put something of a damper on new recipe development lately. Keep checking back - more are forthcoming!