Thursday, July 29, 2010

Taking Requests

Hey readers - got any veggies coming in your CSA box or garden that you're feeling confounded by? Too much of something, even if you like it? Or something else you have no idea what to do with? I'm taking requests! I may post full recipes or simply ideas to get you started. Leave a comment to let me know what you're working with.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pureed Zucchini and Potato Soup with Herbs

Yep, this uses a whole three pounds of zucchini in one go! Tasty, too. Serve with salad and some good local bread.

Olive oil
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
3 lbs zucchini, cubed
1 1/2 lbs potatoes, cubed (peel if you like)
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
Water
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup chopped fresh basil
1 cup milk (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot, then add the garlic and onion and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the zucchini, potatoes, and stock, then add enough additional water to just cover the vegetables. Cover the pot, bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes or until the vegetables are nice and tender.

Once the vegetables are tender, use an immersion blender (or do batches in a food processor) to puree the soup. Add salt and pepper, parsley, and basil. Stir in the milk if using. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Serve hot.

Serves about 6.

Variations: Try other herbs such as sage, thyme, oregano, or cilantro. And of course you can always add bacon!

Black Raspberry Cornmeal Pancakes

We got some black raspberries from Nourse Farms not long ago. I tray froze them, then stashed them in freezer bags for easy use in smoothies and baked goods. In these pancakes they make a great combination with the cornmeal and maple syrup.

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all purpose or whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp molasses
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup black raspberries (frozen is fine)
Butter or oil for cooking
Maple syrup for topping

Combine the cornmeal, flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl.

In a small bowl, combine the egg, molasses, and milk. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then fold in the black raspberries.

Cook the pancakes over medium heat, flipping when the bubbles start to pop on top. Keep cooked pancakes warm on a covered plate or in a low oven while you cook the remainder.

Serve warm, topped with maple syrup at the table.

Serves about 4.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pasta with Grilled Eggplant, Onion, and Tomatoes

Yet more grilling, as promised! This dish is fantastic, very satisfying. You could grill any of the vegetables separately as well, and use on their own or on pizza, where they would be excellent.

2 1/2 - 3 lbs eggplant, peeled
1/2 cup minced garlic
1/2 - 2/3 cup olive oil
2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
1 large red onion, sliced about 1/2-inch thick
2 large tomatoes (or 1 huge one), in 1/2-inch slices
1 lb cut pasta (such as shells, penne, etc)
Grated Parmesan for topping (optional)

Slice the eggplant 1/2-inch thick in rounds or lengthwise depending on shape. Lay it out in a single layer on cookie sheets or plates.

Combine the garlic, olive oil, 2 tsp salt, and black pepper to taste. Brush this on the eggplant, both sides. Let sit for a few minutes.

Lightly brush the onion and tomato slices with olive oil (or with more of the garlic oil mixture if you have any left).

Grill the vegetables over medium heat:
4-5 minutes for the tomatoes, carefully turning once
8-9 minutes for the onions, turning once
12-15 minutes for the eggplant, turning once

Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water while the vegetables cook and cool, then drain and toss with a little olive oil.

When the vegetables are cool enough to handle, chop them coarsely and toss with the pasta.

Serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Variations: 1) add cooked bacon or Italian sausage; 2) substitute zucchini or summer squash for some or all of the eggplant.

Grilled Fennel

I spotted some lovely looking fennel bulbs at the farmers market this weekend. I like fennel raw in salads, but it is also delicious (with a mellower flavor) roasted, which gave me the idea of trying it on the grill.

2 medium fennel bulbs, cut into wedges
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp cider or red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper

Combine the oil and vinegar with salt and pepper to taste, then brush it onto the fennel.

Grill the fennel over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, turning once, until done to your liking (I like it tender but still with a little crunch).

Serves about 4.

Variations: You can add more seasonings to the oil and vinegar mixture. Try minced garlic and/or a bit of tarragon. Or try using lemon juice in place of the vinegar. You can also add a little sprinkling of fresh herbs at the table.

Grilled Corn Chowder

Corn from the farmers market and new potatoes from our very own yard! So good. Grilling the corn and scallions gives this chowder a little something extra. Save this for a not-so-hot day when you won't mind turning on the stove inside.

Whole milk will make a nice rich, creamy chowder, but you can use 2%, 1%, or skim if you prefer.

6 ears corn, shucked
8-12 scallions, roots cut off
olive oil
1 medium onion
2 lbs new potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
water
3 cups milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 - 3/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Grill the corn and scallions over medium heat: the corn for about 8 minutes, turning a few times, and the scallions for about 4 minutes, turning once. Remove from the grill and let cool enough to handle.

Heat a little olive oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the potatoes and saute another couple minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Add enough water to cover the potatoes, bring the pot to a boil, then cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

While the potatoes cook, slices the corn kernels off the cobs and chop the scallions. Add them to the pot when the potatoes are tender, along with the milk, salt and pepper, and basil. Add additional water if desired. Heat through, then serve.

Serves 6-8.

Variation: skip the basil and add chopped cooked bacon to taste.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Peaches and Ice Cream

Here's a simple but utterly delicious summer dessert. You could use vanilla ice cream instead of the ginger, but the ginger really takes this to a different level.

4 ripe peaches
1 Tbsp honey
Snow's Ginger Ice Cream

Peel and slice the peaches and toss them in a bowl with the honey (you might want to heat the honey a little first to make it thinner).

Serve ice cream into individual bowls and top with the peaches.

Serves 4-6.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Free Harvest Supper - Aug. 22

Mark you calendar for the annual Free Harvest Supper in Greenfield, 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.

Volunteers are needed to make this great event happen, so if you can spare some time either in advance or on the day itself, contact info@freeharvestsupper.org.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Spicy Beef and Zucchini Tortilla Pie

Tortilla pie is comfort food in our house. I change it up with the season, using whatever's available.

You can bake this in a variety of pans. It could be two thick layers or three thinner ones in a 10-inch skillet, 2 thin layers in a 13-inch skillet, or trim the tortillas to fit into 9x13-inch pan.


1 lb ground beef
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 - 2 lbs zucchini, diced
2-3 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
2-4 large flour tortillas
1/2 cup salsa
6 oz. shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Brown the beef in a large skillet or Dutch oven. Pour off most of the fat, then addd the garlic and onion and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the zucchini and saute for another 2-3 minutes before stirring in the cumin, chili powder, and salt and pepper. Continue to saute over medium-high heat until the zucchini is nicely tender.

Spread one layer of tortilla in the bottom of your baking pan. Top with half or a third of the cheese (depending on the number of layers you anticipate). Add half or a third of the beef and zucchini mixture (scooping it up with a slotted spoon so that excess liquid stays behind). Top with half or a third of the salsa. Add another layer of tortilla, topping with the beef and zucchini mixture, then salsa, then cheese. Repeat for an additional layer if appropriate.

Bake the assembled tortilla pie for 12-15 minutes, until the cheese is nicely melted and begins to brown.

Serves 4-6.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Peaches

Clarkdale Fruit Farms has its first peaches of the season available - check them out at the Greenfield Farmers Market tomorrow. The farm stand should be open soon, too.

And speaking of local fruit, there are lots of berries in season right now, too. My husband and son just went down to Nourse Farms in Whately this morning and came home with strawberries (!), red raspberries, black raspberries, three kinds of currants, and two kinds of gooseberries. They had blueberries for picking and for sale as well - we didn't get any because our own bushes are still producing.

All this fruit is fantastic fresh, but we were also eager to get some more into the freezer for use in smoothies and popsicles, which we go through at quite a rate at this time of year.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Lentil-Barley Salad with Snap Peas and Fennel

Hearty cold salads are great for hot night dinners. This one requires cooking the lentils and barley, but you can do that in the morning before it gets too hot and let them chill in the fridge until dinner time.

I used up the last of our snap peas on this, along with some of the fennel that is reaching a nice harvestable size right now. The recipe as given is pretty simple, but feel free to jazz it up with chopped fresh herbs (mint, parsley or basil would be good) and/or other vegetables, perhaps halved cherry tomatoes or shredded carrots.

1 cup uncooked brown lentils
1 cup uncooked pearl barley
5 cups water
2 cups snap peas, stringed and broken into 2 or 3 pieces
2 cups chopped fennel bulb
1/4 cup olive oil, or more to taste
1/4 cup red wine vinegar, or more to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine the lentils, barley, and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until tender but not too soft, about 25 minutes. Drain off any excess water and refrigerate.

When the lentils and barley have cooled, add the remaining ingredients and toss well. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Serves about 6.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Pasta with Bacon and Fava Bean Cream Sauce

What to do with the last of the fava beans, the first of the shallots, and the cream leftover from making rhubarb cobbler? Mmmmm. The fresh beans make a nice flavor and texture contrast to the pasta and crispy bacon.

2 cups shelled fava beans
6 slices bacon
1 shallot, minced
1/2 cup cream
3/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
3/4 lb uncooked pasta
Salt and pepper

Cook the fava beans in boiling water for about 1 minute, then drain and allow to cool until they can be handled. Pierce the outer skin of each bean with your thumbnail and squeeze the bright green inner bean out into a bowl.

Cook the bacon until moderately crisp, then drain on paper towels. Pour off most of the fat, then briefly saute the shallot in what remains. Scrape the shallot into a medium saucepan and set aside.

Cook the pasta in a pot of salted boiling water, then drain. While the pasta cooks, add the cream, bacon, fava beans, and parsley to the saucepan with the shallot and gently heat. Toss the sauce with the pasta and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 3-4.

Grilled Vegetables with Sesame-Ginger Marinade

My husband braved the pouring rain this weekend to get to the farmers market, and brought home some of Paul Lagreze's excellent shiitake mushrooms. I combined them with eggplant and zucchini from the garden in this delicious combination of grilled veggies.

Note that you'll need a grill basket for this - the veggie pieces are too small to grill on their own.

1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms, stemmed (cut large ones in half or quarters)
1/2 lb eggplant, quartered and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 lb zucchini, in 1/4-inch slices
1 tsp grated ginger root
1 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce

Combine the vegetables in a large bowl. Combine the ginger, sesame oil, and soy sauce in a small jar or bowl, then toss with the veggies until they are well coated. Let sit for 10 minutes or so.

Heat up the grill, then place the veggies in the grill basket. Grill over medium heat for 20-30 minutes with the grill cover closed, stirring periodically, until veggies are tender.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

Serves about 4.

Community Harvest Project

If you're in Franklin County, you might be interested in this project to harvest crops to feed hungry folks around us:

*********************
The Community Harvest Project seeks volunteers to serve our community by harvesting produce grown on farmland donated by local farmer Everett Hatch. Ev, a longtime member of the Franklin County Hunger Taskforce, developed the idea of planting some of his land with the sole purpose of the harvested produce being donated to three area food programs:

* The Franklin Area Survival Center
* Franklin County Community Meals Program
* The Center for Self Reliance Food Pantry

The Community Harvest Project is an initiative of the Franklin County Hunger Taskforce.

We seek a total of three pickers for each days shift, starting in mid-July, through August, and volunteers one time per week through the month of September. We ask people to pick at approximately 9 a.m. so the fresh produce can be utilized that same day.

Prior experience isn’t necessary, we will provide an orientation on how to pick. From there, you can serve your community while enjoying the fresh air and helping provide fresh local produce to families in need.

To Volunteer, Contact:

Mark Maloni
Community Projects Coordinator
Community Action
393 Main Street
Greenfield, MA 01301
Phone: 413-376-1181
Fax: 413-773-3834
E-mail: mmaloni@communityaction.us

For more information on getting local food, including from your own garden, to people who need it, see Plant a Row for the Hungry - Western Mass.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Rhubarb Cobbler

Strawberry season may be over, but rhubarb is still going strong in my garden and it's quite good on its own. The cobbler topping is the same recipe I use for shortcake dough; if you like, you could cook the rhubarb on the stovetop and serve it over individual biscuits with whipped cream as a variation.

Rhubarb
8 cups rhubarb, in 1-inch chunks
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp white flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Dough
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
4 tsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbsp cold butter, in small pieces
3/4 cup heavy cream

Toss the rhubarb in a large bowl with the sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Set aside while you make the dough.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and cut it into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or two knives until it is the size of peas or smaller. Pour in 3/4 cup cream and mix with a fork until the dough just hold together. If it's too dry, add more cream a tiny bit at a time. Form the dough into a rough ball with your hands.

Spread the rhubarb mixture into a 7x11-inch baking pan. Tear off pieces of the dough and roughly cover the rhubarb. It should be mostly covered but with a few small spots open.

You may want to place the baking dish on top of a cookie sheet or similar pan in case the juice overflows. Bake for 35-40 minutes, then cook on a rack. Serve warm. Nice with ice cream or whipped cream.

Serves about 6.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Using Zucchini

So, it's zucchini season (I know, like you hadn't noticed!), which means that, especially if you grow your own, you are currently swimming in the stuff. I've posted many zucchini recipes over the two years I've been writing this blog, so for ones from past seasons, use the search box at the top of the page or try this link for everything I've tagged with "zucchini."

Zucchini Chili

This uses lots of zucchini, AND it's delicious. Need I say more?

This is a totally flexible recipe, so feel free to use more or less of anything, substitute other ingredients, etc. If you have fresh corn on hand, by all means add some. Peppers would work well, too. You could use chicken instead of beef...etc.

1 Tbsp canola oil
1 lb stew beef, cut in small cubes
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 medium onions, chopped
1 1/2 - 2 lbs zucchini, cubed
3 cups tomatoes (canned or frozen; if fresh, be sure to use paste tomatoes)
2-3 chili peppers, seeded and minced
1 Tbsp ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a soup pot, then add the beef and cook, stirring frequently, until browned. Pour off most of the fat, then add the garlic and onion and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the zucchini and continue to saute, stirring periodically, for another 3-5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, chili peppers, cumin, and salt and pepper. Stir well, then cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until the meat is tender, 30 minutes or so (longer if you like).

Serves 4-6.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Slow Cooker Herbed Chicken

In light of this post, an easy and delicious recipe for whole chicken. The timing is quite forgiving, and the chicken comes out incredibly moist, yet with pleasantly crisped skin. This is also a great use for some of the fresh herbs becoming available in abundance at this time of year. Throw some garlic cloves in the cavity, too, if you like.

1 whole chicken (neck, giblets, etc removed)
A bunch of fresh rosemary, sage, oregano, or thyme
Salt and pepper

This will work for any size chicken that fits in your slow cooker. Stuff the cavity with the herbs and don't be shy about it. Sprinkle the bird liberally all over with salt and pepper. Place in the slow cooker and cook on Low for 6-7 hours for a 3-4 lb chicken (a bit longer for a larger one).

Cuban-esque Sauteed Zucchini and Onion

The zucchini harvest has begun and, even with only two plants, they just keep coming. This recipe is delicious and makes a nice change from the flavors that more typically accompany zucchini. To turn this into a meal instead of a side dish, toss with pasta and maybe some shredded chicken. Or top with cheese a la my Cheesy Summer Squash Saute.


1 Tbsp canola oil
2 medium onions, sliced lengthwise
1 lb zucchini, in 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup minced garlic
1-2 Tbsp lime juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onions and saute for about 2 minutes, then add the zucchini and garlic. Saute over medium-high heat until the zucchini is tender. Stir in the lime juice and parsley, add salt and pepper to taste, and cook for a few more seconds before removing from the heat.

Serves about 4.