Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ground Beef and Spinach Tortilla Pie

Hearty, zesty, and comforting. And easy.

Olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 lb ground beef
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp chili powder, or to taste
1/2 tsp ground cumin
6-8 cups chopped spinach
2 10-inch tortillas
4-5 oz. shredded sharp cheddar
1 14-oz can refried beans
1/3 cup or so salsa (optional)
pickled hot peppers, chopped (optional)

Heat some olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven. Add the garlic and onions and saute for about 3 minutes. Add the ground beef and brown thoroughly. Stir in salt and pepper, chili powder, and cumin. When the meat is well browned, add the spinach and saute until wilted.

Place one tortilla in the bottom of a 10-inch ovenproof skillet or similar dish. Spread half the cheese on the tortilla, then add a layer of half the refried beans. Top with half the beef mixture, then half the salsa (in small dollops) if using, along with some pickled hot peppers if using. Add the second tortilla. Spread with refried beans, beef mixture, and remaining salsa. Top with remaining cheese.

Broil for 3-5 minutes, until the cheese just begins to brown.

Serves about 4.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Root Vegetables

We signed up for an early winter CSA share with Picadilly Farm again this year and just got our second box. There are some delicious looking greens in there, what with the ongoing unseasonably mild weather. But it was also chock full of root vegetables (as was the previous one): celeriac, sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and turnips. So I guess I'll be digging into my root vegetables repertoire over the coming weeks. Fortunately, after lots of practice, it's extensive. Check the links above for some ideas.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Beer Braised Lamb Shanks with Root Vegetables

Hearty and rich, perfect for a winter night. I usually braise with wine in a more Mediterranean style, but this channels Ireland instead. Make this on a weekend, when you can start it in the afternoon and let the lamb braise over very low heat for a few hours. It'll be falling off the bone when it's done. For the beer, choose something medium-dark and not too hoppy (unless you would enjoy that bitter note in your braise). Serve this over mashed potatoes or polenta.

4 medium lamb shanks
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cups cubed root vegetables (choose from carrots, parsnips, turnips, rutabaga, celeriac, winter radish)
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary (or 2 tsp dried)
1 12-oz beer
beef broth

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Lightly coat the lamb shanks with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown for 20-25 minutes in the oven, turning once.

While the lamb browns in the oven, heat a little olive oil in a Dutch oven. Add the onions and root vegetables. Sprinkle in some salt and pepper. Saute over pretty high heat until they begin to get nice and browned. (This generates a ton of rich, complex flavor for your braise). Add the garlic toward the end.

When the lamb is browned, add it to the Dutch oven along with the thyme and rosemary. Pour in the beer, then add enough beef broth to cover the meat about two thirds of the way. Simmer covered for 2-3 hours (longer if you like) over very low heat.

To serve, carefully remove the lamb to a platter. Then, if desired, partially puree the remaining liquid and serve poured over the lamb and mashed potatoes or polenta. Alternatively, strain out the broth and mash the vegetables and serve them on the side. Pour a little of the braising liquid over everything.

Serves 4.

Note: if you opt to strain out the vegetables, you can save the braising liquid (try freezing it) and use it again for another dish in a similar vein. Try it with pot roast or with bone-in chicken and some veggies in the crock pot for an easy and flavorful meal.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Pizza with Arugula and Feta

Had some lovely, mild, tender arugula in our Picadilly Farm CSA share last week.

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 medium shallot, finely chopped (or substitute small red onion)
3-4 cups chopped raw arugula
3 oz. crumbled feta
2-3 oz. shredded mozzarella

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

Spread the tomato sauce over the crust, then sprinkle with shallots. Cover with arugula, then sprinkle with feta and mozzarella. Bake pizza for 15-18 minutes, until cheese begins to brown and crust is done.

Serves 3-4.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Winter Corn and Cheddar Chowder

I stashed a lot of local sweet corn in my freezer during the summer and early fall, enough to make the occasional corn chowder in addition to throwing it into chili and black bean soup all winter.

Olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 - 2 lbs potatoes, cubed (no need to peel)
Water and/or stock (chicken or veggie)
4-5 cups corn kernels (frozen is fine)
1 tsp dried sage
1 - 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Hot sauce (optional)

Heat a little olive oil in a soup pot. Add the onions and garlic and saute over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes. Add the potatoes and enough water and/or stock to cover them. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 15-20 minutes.

When the potatoes are tender, add the corn and sage. If desired, puree a little of the soup in a blender or with an immersion blender to thicken it. Remove from heat and stir in the cheddar so that it melts completely. Add the milk, then add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot. Pass hot sauce at the table if desired.

Serves 4-6.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Smoky Turkey and Lentil Chili

Turkey goes really well with smoky, spicy flavors, making it a natural for chili. I tossed in lentils instead of the usual beans for a change of pace, and it worked well. This makes a nice big batch to feed a crowd, but feel free to halve it.

Olive oil
8-10 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium onions, diced
2 Tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp chili powder
4-6 cups chopped tomatoes (canned or frozen - thawed first)
1 1/2 cups lentils
About 3 cups water
4 cups shredded cooked turkey
3 bell peppers, diced (red or green)
2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced (or to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
Sour cream and/or shredded cheddar for topping (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the garlic and onion and saute over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the cumin and chili powder and saute for another minute or so to toast the spices. Add the tomatoes and their liquid, then the lentils and enough water to comfortably cover them. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until lentils are nearly tender, 20-25 minutes.

When the lentils are nearly tender, add the peppers and minced chipotles. Simmer until the peppers are tender, then add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot, topped with cheese or sour cream if desired. Serves 6-8.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Turkey and Arugula Pizza with Edam

And another one. Cold hardy greens like arugula are continuing to flourish in the garden. I like to use Chase Hill Farm's Dutch Gold cheese, which is essentially an Edam.

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
4-6 oz. shredded or thinly sliced Edam
4-6 cups chopped fresh arugula (as much as you can/want to pile on)
1 1/2 cups shredded turkey
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
Salt and pepper

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

Spread half the Edam over the oiled crust. Pile with arugula. Add the turkey and shallot, then a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Top with the remaining Edam.

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

Serves 3-4.

Turkey Pizza with Roasted Tomatoes and Blue Cheese

I seem to make a lot of pizza out of leftover turkey. Maybe it's because I just make a lot of pizza, maybe it's because it seems like a good way to transform it into something much less like Thanksgiving food. At any rate, here's another one - really delicious.

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
2-3 oz. shredded mozzarella
1 1/2 cups chopped roasted tomatoes (thawed and drained if frozen)
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked turkey
2 oz. crumbled or chopped blue cheese
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
Salt and pepper

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

Spread the mozzarella over the pizza crust. Strew with roasted tomatoes and turkey, then sprinkle with blue cheese. Sprinkle the shallot over everything, then add a little salt and pepper.

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

Serves 3-4.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Fall Risotto with Carrots and Leeks

Cold hardy carrots and leeks are still going strong in my garden. We'll pull them all out before the ground freezes, but until then they keep well in the soil and they continue to grow, albeit slowly. In this delicious risotto, carrots and leeks are sauteed in butter to bring out their sweetness, which contrasts pleasantly with salty Parmesan and pungent sage.

As usual, I always make risotto in the pressure cooker now, but feel free to adapt this to the old fashioned method.

3 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
3 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup finely diced carrots
1-1 1/2 cups sliced leeks
2 Tbsp minced fresh sage leaves (or 1 1/2 tsp dried)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat 1 Tbsp butter in the bottom of the pressure cooker until it melts. Add the rice and saute for a minute or so, until it turns translucent. Add the stock and stir well. Put on the lid and bring the cooker to pressure. Cook at high pressure for 7 minutes, then remove from heat and release pressure.

While the rice cooks, melt the remaining 2 Tbsp butter in a skillet. Add the carrots and leeks and saute until tender, 3-5 minutes. Stir in the sage.

When the rice is done and the pressure has fallen completely, open the cooker. Stir in the vegetables and the Parmesan. Taste and add salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Spiced Quince Butter

Since first happening on quinces at Clarkdale Fruit Farms a few years ago, I have made this quince butter every November. It is astoundingly good. I like it on toast, but it's also great in jam print cookies or in almost any dessert recipe where you might use jam. Also excellent with a bit of aged cheddar or some goat cheese.

I make this in the pressure cooker, adapting a recipe from Deborah Madison's Local Flavors cookbook. But you could also do it on the stovetop - it will just take longer. Quinces are a very hard fruit and take longer to cook than their cousins, apples and pears.

This recipe is suitable for canning, which is what I do with it each year. The quince butter will also keep for many weeks in the fridge, perhaps months if you put it straight into a clean jar and let it seal itself as the butter cools in the refrigerator. Or you can freeze it.

4 cups cut up quinces, peeled and seeded and any bad parts cut out
1/2 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup sugar (or to taste)

Place the quince pieces, water, cinnamon stick, ginger, and nutmeg in the pressure cook. Bring to pressure, then cook for 15 minutes. Once the cooker comes up to pressure, lower the heat until it is just enough to maintain pressure, to avoid burning the quinces. After 15 minutes, remove from heat and let pressure release naturally.

Remove the cinnamon stick from the cooked quince. Mash the fruit thoroughly or run it through a food mill or blender to make it smooth. Add sugar and simmer over low heat until it reaches a nice jammy consistency.

Pour into jars, then refrigerate, freeze, or can.

Makes 3-4 cups.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Slow Cooker Chipotle Lentil and Squash Soup

The flavors of fall, with a smoky, spicy kick. I made this in my slow cooker, as described below, but you could also do it on the stovetop; in that case saute the onions and garlic first. Also note that you can either puree this or leave it chunky - if you choose to leave it chunky, be sure to minced the chipotle(s) well instead of leaving them whole. One chipotle will result in mild spiciness. Two will make it pleasantly hot. Three would probably be too much for my taste.

2 lbs butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 cup brown lentils
2 medium onions, chopped
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1 or more chipotle peppers in adobo
Chicken or vegetable stock
2-3 Tbsp cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Sour cream or plain yogurt for topping

Place the squash, lentils, onions, garlic, and chipotle(s) in the slow cooker. Add enough stock to comfortably cover. Cook on High for 8-10 hours. When lentils and veggies are tender, add cider vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Puree using an immersion blender or in batches in a blender or food processor.

Serve topped with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt (which helps cut the heat of the chipotles).

Serves 4-6.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Red Wine and Shallot Braised Lamb Shoulder

Lamb should roast is one of those really flavorful, less expensive cuts that responds beautifully to slow moist cooking. The method used here submerges the meat only about a third to half way, allowing the exposed side to brown nicely.

I really liked this red wine, shallot, and tarragon treatment. I think it would also be excellent with a beef roast prepared the same way (substituting beef stock for the chicken stock in that case).

2-3 lb lamb shoulder roast
Salt and pepper
3 large shallots, sliced
1 tsp dried tarragon
1 cup red wine (more as needed)
2 cups chicken broth

Be sure to take the lamb out of the fridge at least an hour before cooking to let it approach room temperature. Season it liberally with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Take a small roasting pan or oven-proof Dutch oven that will just accomodate the lamb. Place the sliced shallots in the bottom of the pan and sprinkle the tarragon over them. Place the lamb on top of the shallots, then pour in the wine and chicken broth. It should come about halfway up the meat.

Roast the lamb for 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the oven, turn it over, and dd more wine, broth, and/or water if the liquid level seems too low (try to keep it about a third of the way up the meat). Roast for another 30 minutes. Turn it over again and roast 20-30 minutes more. At this point it should be extremely tender. If it's not quite done, turn over again and roast another 20 minutes.

When the lamb is done, remove it to a warm platter. If you used a Dutch oven, place it on the stove top and simmer the cooking liquid (including shallots) until it reduces nicely. If you used a roasting pan, transfer the liquid to a saucepan and reduce.

Carve the lamb as best you can (this roast contains a lot of bones). Pass the sauce at the table.

Serves 3-4.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pasta with Sage Roasted Tomatoes, Leeks, and Goat Cheese

I am still working through the last tomatoes from my garden - the green ones have been ripening up nicely inside and although late season tomatoes are never as good as the ones you pick in August or September, they're not bad when roasted. I also still have a good supply of cold-hardy leeks in the garden, along with sage. The goat cheese I picked up at the farmers market helped pull it all together.

If you no longer have fresh tomatoes on hand, frozen ones would work here, too. Roast whole frozen tomatoes, then chop or pull apart with your hands. Or use frozen roasted tomatoes if you have them.

5-6 cups chopped seeded tomatoes
4 fat leeks, sliced in thin rounds
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
4-5 oz goat cheese
1 lb cut pasta (e.g penne)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Combine the tomatoes, leeks, and sage in a large baking pan. Drizzle generously with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat all, then roast for about 30 minutes.

While the vegetables roast, crumble the goat cheese in a bowl and mix in 2-3 Tbsp of olive oil to soften it. Set aside.

Also while the vegetables roast, cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water. Drain when done and return to the pot or a large bowl. Add the goat cheese mixture and spread it around so that it melts and thoroughly coats the hot pasta.

When the vegetables are done, use a slotted spoon to remove them from the baking pan, leaving excess liquid behind. Toss with the pasta. Serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ground Beef Stew with Leeks and Root Vegetables

I sometimes use ground beef in a stew when I don't have time to let it simmer for an hour or two. You can always substitute proper stew beef, browning it at the beginning and letting it simmer until nice and tender. This a simple and easy but hearty stew, perfect for fall weather and quick enough for a weeknight. Feel free to add or substitute additional root vegetables.

1 lb ground beef
3 fat leeks, sliced in thin rounds
1 Tbsp brown mustard
1 1/2 lbs potatoes, cubed
3 medium carrots, sliced
Water and/or beef stock
1-2 tsp minced fresh sage or 1/2-1 tsp dried
Salt and pepper

Brown the beef in a large pot. Add the leeks and continue to cook over medium high heat, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the mustard, then add the potatoes and carrots and enough water and/or beef stock to just cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Add sage and salt and pepper to taste; let simmer another 5 minutes or so. Serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pickled Hot Peppers

Having brought in many hot peppers that were still in the garden in preparation for a hard freeze and snow, I decided to try pickling the bounty. This recipe is lightly adapted from one in a book called Put 'Em Up by Sherry Brooks Vinton.

2 lbs hot peppers, stemmed and sliced into 1/8-inch rounds
3 1/4 cups distilled white vinegar
2 1/4 cups water
2 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar

Have ready 9 hot, freshly washed half-pint jars. Make sure you have new lids; boil them in a small saucepan then let them sit in the hot water. While you prepare the peppers and bring, bring a large pot of water to a boil for canning.

Pack the sliced peppers into the jars, leaving 1/2-inch headroom. The recipe in Put 'Em Up said 2 lbs would make for 4 pints, but I found it produced an extra half pint (and I needed to make just a little more brine to go with it, which I have accounted for in the ingredients above).

Combine the vinegar, water, salt and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil, then turn off the heat.

Using a funnel, ladle the brine over the peppers in the jars until they are covered, leaving 1/4-inch headroom at the top.

Carefully place the lids on the jars and screw on the rings, not too tight. Place the jars in the pot of boiling water and boil for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool on a rack. Once they are cooled and sealed they can be stored in a cool dark place. Any jars that do not seal should be refrigerated and used promptly.

Makes 8-9 half pints.

Early Snow

It's still only October, but there's a good three inches of snow on the ground and it's still falling thick and fast outside my window. In anticipation of the storm and the cold weather that has accompanied it, earlier this week we finally brought in all the last cold sensitive items from the garden - tomatoes (ripe, half ripe, and green), sweet peppers, and hot peppers. We still have broccoli, leeks, fennel, carrots, radishes, and lots of greens out there that like the cold and will probably be just fine.

Green peppers (both hot and sweet) will continue to ripen if brought indoors and kept somewhere cool and dark. Some people like to bring in the whole plant and hang it upside down, but I've also had good luck just keeping a big pile of peppers in a paper bag in my chilly pantry. Tomatoes will also ripen indoors, though the quality will never be as good as summer tomatoes (even the ones that ripen on the vine late in the season suffer in flavor from the cold nights).

I roasted the ripe tomatoes and put them in the freezer. The half ripe ones are sitting in a bowl to ripen over the next week or so. The green ones (about 10 lbs) I think I'm going to use for Green Tomato and Apple Chutney, which I will can (but first I need to get some more canning jars).

Green peppers can be frozen just like ripe ones (halve, seed, freeze freezer bags), but I'm hoping some more of mine will ripen up before they shrivel. The hot peppers I decided to try pickling this year, something I have not done before. Now I have 9 half-pint jars of lovely red, green, and purple pickled hot peppers. Pickling mellows their heat and intensifies their flavor, making their great for pizza, salsa, Mexican eggs, nachos, etc.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Spanish Style Lentil Soup with Chorizo, Red Pepper, and Kale

This one is definitely a keeper. Savory, hearty, smoky - and pretty to look at, too. Serve this with biscuits, popovers, or crusty bread. If you want to speed up the cooking process a bit, you can start the lentils cooking in water while you cook the garlic, shallots, and chorizo in a separate pan, then combine them.

Peppers, by the way, will be in season until we have a killing frost. Kale will go right into the winter.

Olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium shallots, finely chopped (or substitute a medium onion)
1 lb chorizo, casings removed
2 tsp paprika (substitute pimenton if you have it)
1 cup brown lentils
Water and/or stock (chicken or veg)
1 large sweet red pepper, diced
3 cups kale cut into ribbons (stems removed)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a little olive oil in a soup pot. Add the garlic and shallots and saute over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes. Add the chorizo, breaking it up as it cooks, and the paprika. When the chorizo is cooked through, pour of excess fat (I actually use a baster for this and suck it out of the pot). Add the lentils and enough water and/or stock to generously cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes, until lentils are tender. Add the peppers and kale and simmer for 5 minutes or so, until tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4-6.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Turkish Style Lamb and Vegetables with Pasta and Yogurt Sauce

This is totally different from any other pasta dish I've ever made, and it's fantastic. It hits a flavor profile that I normally associate only with food I eat in restaurants - but it's pretty easy to make at home. This is adapted from this recipe that was published the New York Times a couple years ago.


1 large eggplant, in 1/2 inch cubes
2 sweet red peppers, diced
Salt
Olive oil
2 large shallots, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb stew lamb, well trimmed (or shoulder meat, cubed)
Black pepper to taste
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 tsp dried dill, or 1-2 Tbsp fresh, finely chopped
1 lb cut pasta (shells work well)
1 cup plain yogurt
1 Tbsp chopped fresh mint (or dill or cilantro)

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Toss the eggplant and peppers in a bowl with about 1/2 tsp salt and a drizzle of olive oil until well coated. Spread the vegetables out in a single layer on a baking sheet (you may want to line it with foil or parchment) and roast for about 20 minutes, or until nicely brown. Remove from oven.


While the vegetables roast, add 1-2 Tbsp olive oil to a Dutch oven. Add the shallots and all but 1 tsp of the minced garlic and saute for about 2 minutes. Then add the lamb and saute until well browned and cooked through. Add salt and pepper to taste, red pepper flakes, and dill. Let this mixture continue to cook over very low heat until the vegetables are ready.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a pot of salted boiling water. When it is cooked, drain and toss with a little olive oil.

When the eggplant and pepper are done roasting, add them to the Dutch oven with the lamb mixture. When the pasta is done, toss it with the lamb and vegetables until well combined.

Before serving combine the yogurt and mint in a bowl with the reserved 1 tsp of minced garlic. Add a dash of salt and stir well (it will thin somewhat).


Serve the pasta, with each diner topping his or her portion with some of the yogurt sauce at the table.

Serves 4-6.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Broiled Polenta with Shiitakes and Red Onions

New England Wild Edibles had HUGE shiitake mushrooms for sale at the farmers market last weekend, meaty and delicious. Their flavor shines through here.

I often like to substitute quinoa for some of the cornmeal when I make polenta, but this is totally optional.

3 cups water
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1/2 cup polenta cornmeal
1/2 cup quinoa
Olive oil
1/4 - 1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
1 large red onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
3-4 oz shredded mozzarella

In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the salt, and whisk in the polenta meal and quinoa. Lower the heat to a simmer and continue to stir with a spoon. Be careful, as the cooking polenta is viscous and can bubble up and burn you. Cooking time will vary with the type of polenta you are using. The kind I get at Green Fields Market, in the bulk section, thickens up very quickly, but the addition of quinoa slows it down. You want it to be pretty stiff for this application. When the polenta is cooked, remove from heat, cover, and set aside for now.

Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet. Add the shiitakes, onions, and garlic and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and preheat the broiler.

Oil a 10-inch oven-proof skillet or a 7x11-inch baking dish. Spread the cooked polenta in the bottom. Top with the sauce, then the mushroom mixture. Top with mozzarella.

Broil the polenta for about 4 minutes, until the cheese begins to brown. Serve hot.

Serves about 4.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Pizza with Red Peppers, Goat Cheese, and Rosemary

I keep fresh local rosemary on hand year round by growing some in a pot.

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 medium red pepper, finely diced
1 medium red onion, finely diced
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
3 oz. crumbled goat cheese
2-3 oz. shredded mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Lightly paint the pizza crust with olive oil, then top with sauce. Sprinkle with pepper and onion, then rosemary. Dot with goat cheese and sprinkle mozzarella over all.

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

Serves 3-4.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Moroccan Lamb (or Goat) and Potato Stew

Through the colder months I love making this type of dish on the weekend. I put it all together at 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon, then just let it simmer over very low heat until dinnertime. Stews and braises like this make excellent, succulent use of more economical cuts of meat, too.

This Moroccan style stew is great on its own, perhaps with some warm pita to accompany it, or over rice. You can use either lamb or goat meat - goat is available locally from Balky Farm in Northfield, a regular vendor at the Greenfield Farmers Market (they also have lamb, eggs, and wool products).

3 Tbsp olive oil
2 lbs stew lamb or goat, cubed
2 medium onions, finely chopped
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1 large red pepper, finely chopped
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne (or to taste)
1 tsp dried lemon zest (or zest of one lemon)
2 lbs potatoes, cubed
Salt and pepper to taste
Water and/or beef stock

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot. Add the meat and brown over high heat. When browned, drain off excess fat, then add the onion, garlic, red pepper, cumin, cayenne, and lemon zest. Saute over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Add the potatoes along with some salt and pepper, then add enough water and/or beef stock to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat very low and simmer for 2-3 hours. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed before serving.

Serve hot over rice or with warm pita bread.

Serves about 6.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Pureed Potato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Continuing on the theme of red peppers and leeks... This is a beautifully colored soup with a sophisticated yet comforting flavor, perfect for a chilly fall day.

If you want to dress this up for company, there are a couple options. First, you can puree the roasted red peppers separately and then swirl them through each serving of soup. Second, you can substitute cream for the milk and again add it decoratively to each serving rather than mixing it in the pot.

2 Tbsp olive oil
4-5 medium leeks, thinly sliced
3 lbs potatoes, cubed (peel or not, your choice)
Water and/or stock (chicken or veggie)
1/2 lb roasted red peppers
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp minced fresh sage leaves
2 Tbsp dry sherry
Salt and pepper to taste
Up to 1 cup milk or cream

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot. Add the leeks and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the potatoes and enough water or stock to cover. Bring to a boil, then simmer partially covered until tender, about 15 minutes.

When the potatoes are tender, add the roasted pepper to the pot, then puree with an immersion blender (or do it in batches in a blender or food processor, then return to the pot). Add the parsley, sage, and sherry, then add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in milk or cream until the soup reaches a consistency that you like. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Serves about 6.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Broiled Polenta with Peppers, Leeks, and Feta

Sweet peppers are in full swing in September and early October, the same time that leeks start to come in. Enjoy them here with feta and a bit of oregano. Use frying peppers (the longer, pointier ones) if you can get them; otherwise bells are fine.

3 cups water
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1 cup polenta cornmeal
Olive oil
3/4 cup tomato sauce
4 medium leeks, in thin rounds
2 ripe frying peppers, diced
2 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 oz. crumbled feta
3 oz. shredded mozzarella

In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the salt, and whisk in the polenta meal. Lower the heat to a simmer and continue to stir with a spoon. Be careful, as the cooking polenta is viscous and can bubble up and burn you. Cooking time will vary with the type of polenta you are using. The kind I get at Green Fields Market, in the bulk section, thickens up very quickly. You want it to be pretty stiff for this application. When the polenta is cooked, remove from heat, cover, and set aside for now.

Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet. Add the leeks and peppers and saute for 5-7 minutes, until tender. Add the oregano, salt and pepper and remove from heat.

Preheat the broiler.

Oil a 10-inch oven-proof skillet or a 7x11-inch baking dish. Spread the cooked polenta in the bottom. Top with the sauce, then the leek and pepper mixture. Sprinkle with feta, then top with mozzarella.

Broil the polenta for 4-5 minutes, until the cheese begins to brown. Serve hot.

Serves about 4.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Rustic Plum Tart with Cornmeal Shortbread Crust

This easy tart takes no longer to make than a crisp with its simple pat-in-the-pan crust. Red or purple plums are best here from a visual perspective, but pick any that you like. At some point I'm going to try this with strawberries and rhubarb, which I think would be awesome with this crust. Top with lightly sweetened whipped cream if at all possible.


Crust
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg yolk
1-2 Tbsp cream or milk

Topping
6-8 medium plums, quartered (use more or less depending on size)
1 Tbsp sugar
A sprinkling of cinnamon
1 tsp butter, in slices

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 9-10 inch tart pan or the bottom of a similar size pie pan.

To make the crust, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse for 10 seconds or so to combine. Add the egg yolk and process until the mixture has a sandy consistency. Add cream or milk, a little at a time, until the mixture just comes together and becomes workable. Press the dough into the buttered pan in a more-or-less even layer, going just slightly up the sides.

Cover the crust with the plums, crowding them in close. Sprinkle the plums with sugar and cinnamon and dot with butter.

Bake for 30-for minutes, until the crust is golden brown and no longer soft and the fruit has softened and become juicy.

Serve warm or room temperature, preferably topped with whipped cream.

Serves about 6.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Creamy Pasta with Fresh Corn and Bacon

Creamy, salty, crunchy. A delicious treat with some of the last fresh corn of the season. (You can, of course, make this out of season, especially if you have taken some of our wonderful local corn and frozen it.)

1 lb pasta
6-7 strip bacon
2 shallots, finely chopped
3 cups corn kernels
1 cup cream
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water. Drain when done.

While the pasta cooks, fry the bacon in a large skillet (or broil it and reserve 1 Tbsp of the fat) until nicely chewy - not too crisp. Let drain on paper towels, then slice cross-wise into thin strips. Pour off all but about 1 Tbsp of the bacon fat.

Saute the shallots in the bacon fat until translucent, about 2-3 minutes, then add the corn and saute another 1-2 minutes. Pour in the cream and let it bubble until it thickens a bit. If desired, you can partially puree a little of this. Add the sliced bacon, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.

Toss the pasta and sauce together until everything is well coated. Serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Apple Bake-Off at the Greenfield Farmers Market This Saturday

The Greenfield Farmers Market is sponsoring an Apple Bake-Off this Saturday to celebrate the beginning of fall. See below for details. I will be one of the judges!

*Greenfield Farmers' Market Apple Bake-Off*

The Greenfield Farmers' Market is celebrating the first day of Fall with a 2011 Apple Bake-off. The event takes place at the farmers' market on Saturday September 24th with judging beginning at 10:45am. Everyone is encouraged to enter and share their favorite recipes. Baked entries
should be dropped off at the market manager booth by 10:30am to be officially entered in the contest. There will be prizes and the market will be collecting recipes from the participants to create a collection to share so please be sure to have your contact information and recipe with you upon entry. Any apple baked good made with local apples will be accepted; from apple turnovers to apple pie to apple cake, etc. Our fantastic judges will be Mayor Martin, Meggin Thwing Eastman from Happy Valley Locavore, and Jim Zaccara from Hope & Olive restaurant. They will be judging the pies based on presentation, taste and texture. Prizes will be awarded as follows: First place will receive a $25 gift certificate to Greenfield Farmers' Market, Second place will receive a $5 Gift Certificate and a Greenfield Farmers' Market T-shirt, Third place will receive a Greenfield Farmers' Market Chico bag.

The Greenfield Farmers' Market is held every Saturday from 8:00am-12:30pm on Court Square in downtown Greenfield, MA.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Greek Eggplant Feta Casserole

This is a Greeked up version of my Eggplant Parmesan Casserole, using feta, oregano, and lemon zest instead of the more typical Italian seasonings.

1/4 cup olive oil (3 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp)
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried lemon zest (or 1 tsp fresh)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes or cayenne (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large eggplant, peeled, quartered, and cut in 1/4-inch slices
2 cups good quality tomato sauce
4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
3 oz. crumbled feta
1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425°.

Set aside about 2 tsp of the minced garlic if you plan to use the breadcrumbs. Heat 3 Tbsp of the olive oil in a large skillet, then sauté the remaining garlic and the onion for about 2 minutes over medium-high heat. Stir in the oregano, red pepper flakes or cayenne (if using), lemon zest, salt, and pepper and sauté for an additional 30 seconds or so. Add the eggplant to the skillet and sauté over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until tender but not mushy, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat.

If you are using the breadcrumbs, heat the remaining 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a small skillet. Add the remaining 2 tsp of minced garlic and sauté for about 1 minute. Add the breadcrumbs and sauté over high heat until they are crisp, about 3-4 minutes. Set aside.

In the bottom of a 1 1/2- or 2-quart casserole dish, spread 1 cup of the tomato sauce. For the next layer, spread half of the eggplant mixture. Top the eggplant with all of the shredded mozzarella and feta. Spread the remaining eggplant mixture over the cheese. Press down gently on the eggplant to compact the casserole somewhat. Top the second layer of eggplant with the remaining 1 cup of the tomato sauce. Spread the breadcrumbs over the tomato sauce.

Bake the casserole for about 15 minutes. Serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Corn and Chanterelle Risotto

If you liked the Corn and Chanterelle Bisque I made earlier this summer, you should definitely try this risotto. My four-year-old, to my astonishment, ate five helpings of this, and my husband and I enjoyed it thoroughly as well. The chanterelles are particularly divine, but feel free to substitute other flavorful mushrooms. I pretty much always make risotto in my pressure cooker these days because it's so easy, but you can do it the old fashioned way as well.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
1/4 lb chanterelles, chopped
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1 1/2 cups corn kernels
3 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in the pressure cooker. Add the shallot and chanterelles and saute for about 2 minutes. Add the rice and saute over medium heat for a minute or two, until the grains turn translucent and start to toast a little bit. Add the corn and the stock and stir. Cover the pot, lock the lid, and turn the heat to high. Cook for 7 minutes from the time pressure is reached, then release pressure manually. Stir, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Serves 4-6.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sweet and Savory Tomato Jam

Try this on sandwiches, as a condiment for pork, or with some soft cheese. This makes a small batch, but feel free to multiply it.

1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes (halved if large)
1 tsp calcium water (comes with Pomona's)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp ground sage
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp Pomona's Universal Pectin

Combine the tomatoes, calcium water, salt, lemon juice, and sage in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, mashing the tomatoes as they soften. Simmer for 10 minutes or so. If desired, partially puree the mixture.

Combine the sugar and pectin in a small bowl, then stir into the tomato mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring as you go, then remove from heat. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Makes about 1 cup.

Variations: 1) Instead of sage, add 1/4-1/2 tsp grated ginger root. 2) instead of or in addition to sage, add a couple bruised whole garlic cloves while the jam simmers; remove before pureeing or adding the sugar and pectin.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Pasta with Roasted Eggplant Tomato Garlic Sauce

It's hard to go wrong with this combination, and as we start to head into fall, roasting becomes more appealing. This is great with some sausage tossed in; I recommend lamb sausage if you can find it (a few local farms do make it). Or cook some ground lamb and toss that in.

2 heads garlic, cloves peeled and left whole
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cubed (2-3 cups)
4 cups chopped seeded tomatoes
3 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 lb pasta
Crumbled feta for topping (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the garlic cloves, eggplant, and tomatoes in a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then toss to coat well. Roast for 30 minutes, stirring once or twice.

While the vegetables roast, cook the pasta in a pot of salted boiling water. Drain, toss with a little olive oil, and set aside.

When the vegetables are nice and tender, mash or partially puree them into a sauce. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed. Toss with the pasta until well coated. Serve hot, topped with crumbled feta at the table if desired.

Serves 4-5.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Shiitake Fried Rice

Fried rice is an easy, forgiving dish that you can make with pretty much whatever veggies you have on hand. I often make it with a whole kaleidoscope of chopped produce. But sometimes I also enjoy a more focused version, like this one, which highlights the flavor and texture of shiitake mushrooms.

1 Tbsp canola oil
1 large onion, diced
1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tsp minced ginger root
2 eggs, beaten (optional)
2-3 cups leftover cooked rice (cold or room temperature)
1/4 cup soy sauce or to taste
Salt to taste

Heat the canola oil in a wok or large skillet. Add the onion and shiitakes and stir fry over high heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and continue stir frying until the mushrooms and onion are tender. Lower the heat the medium.

If you are using the eggs, make a well in the center of the veggies and pour the eggs in. Scramble the eggs, slowly stirring them into the vegetables as they cook. When they're done, turn off the heat. Add the rice and soy sauce and mix everything well. Taste and add salt if needed.

Serve hot.

Serves about 4.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

County Fair

The Franklin County Fair is this weekend at the Fairgrounds in Greenfield. I'll be speaking on Saturday from 3-4 in the Roundhouse. The general topic is cooking with the foods that are in season and on display at the fair. Readers, I would love any suggestions or ideas you have within that. What you would find interesting? What do you think others would find interesting?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Vanilla Peach Jam

I've been freezing and drying peaches over the last week, and also made some jam (by special request from my four-year-old). I have made Ginger Peach Jam in the past but decided to try something a little different this time around. The vanilla flavor adds a lovely note to the peach.

You can make this with pectin or without. When I use pectin, I use Pomona's Universal Pectin. If you do this, follow the directions about how to add it (at the end, mixed in with the sugar).

6 cups sliced peaches (skin on is fine, ok to use frozen)
1 pod vanilla beans or 1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
Up to 1/4 cup lemon juice (optional)

If you're using frozen peaches, thaw them first.

Combine the peaches and vanilla pod or extract in a Dutch oven and simmer until peaches are very soft, stirring occasionally. Mash the peaches as you go. Remove the vanilla pod at the end. If desired, use an immersion blender to make the jam smoother, or skip it for a chunkier consistency. Stir in the sugar and simmer for a few minutes. Add lemon juice if desired (for flavor; even if canning it's not required). If you are not using pectin, you may wish to simmer the jam longer to thicken it further.

Can the jam, freeze, or refrigerate. (If you choose to freeze it, make sure there is plenty of headroom. If using glass jars, do not seal until frozen.)

Makes about 4 cups.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Thai Corn Chowder

Sometimes I have to try a recipe just to satisfy my own curiosity. This one I have been playing with in my mind since last summer and finally got around to just making it. Fortunately, the result was good enough to share. As I've commented here before, I love corn chowder and make it often through the summer and fall, but I just can't resist different variations.

1-2 Tbsp canola oil
2 shallots, minced
1 1/2 lbs potatoes, cubed
Chicken/veggie stock and/or water
1/4 - 1/2 tsp fish sauce (optional)
3 cups roasted corn (grilled corn would also work well)
1 14-oz can coconut milk (lite is fine)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped Thai basil
1-2 tsp lime juice

Heat the canola oil in a soup pot. Add the shallots and saute for about 2 minutes. Add the potatoes, then enough stock and/or water to cover. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the potatoes are tender.

When the potatoes are tender, add the fish sauce (if using), corn, and coconut milk. Add additional water if needed. Stir well, and heat through, then add salt and pepper to taste. Just before serving, add the Thai basil and lime juice.

Serves 4-6.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Roasted Corn

This is delicious on its own as a side dish, but it also makes a wonderful addition to many recipes in which you might want to use corn. Roasting enhances the flavor and brings out notes you don't get from a simple steaming or boiling. Particularly good added to soup, chili, etc. I roasted up a big batch this weekend and froze it in one-meal quantities to add to dishes through the winter.

12 ears corn
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Slice all the kernels off the corn. Toss them with olive oil and salt and pepper, place them in a large baking dish, then roast for 20-30 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Variations: Add dried or fresh herbs to the corn. Basil or sage would be particularly good choices.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Pizza with Fire Roasted Red Peppers and Goat Cheese

We've been enjoying the first sweet red bell peppers out of our garden lately. Tonight I roasted three of them on the grill and made this pizza. Grilling is an easy way to roast lots of peppers at once, so if you want to freeze some for later or puree some for romesco sauce (super highly recommended), it's a good way to go. Be sure to use thick walled bell peppers, not the thinner walled frying peppers, which are much harder to peel.

1 14-inch pizza crust
Olive oil
3 oz shredded mozzarella
3 fire roasted red peppers, sliced into strips
2 Tbsp chopped fresh sage leaves
3 oz crumbled goat cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

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

Spread the mozzarella over the pizza crust, then top with the peppers. Sprinkle with sage, then add goat cheese. Add a sprinkling of salt and pepper to taste.

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

Serves 3-4.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Blanch and No-Blanch: A Quick Guide for Freezing

Some vegetables require a quick blanching before you freeze them in order to preserve their color and flavor, while others can go straight into the freezer. Here's a quick guide on what falls into which category.

No-Blanch:
Tomatoes
Peppers (sweet and hot)
Zucchini/summer squash
Onion (chopped)
Fennel (chopped)
Parsley, cilantro, dill, chives
Blueberries
Cherries
Strawberries
Peaches
Rhubarb (pack in sugar)
Raspberries, blackberries
Currants, gooseberries

Blanch:
Green beans
Peas (shell, snow, or snap)
Corn
Carrots
Leafy greens (alternatively, saute)
Celeriac
Turnips

Cook first:
Winter squash, pumpkin
Sweet potatoes

Don't freeze:
Eggplant (unless it's in a dish like ratatouille)
Potatatoes

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mac & Cheese with Roasted Tomatoes and Basil

It's a whole new level of macaroni and cheese. Here roasted tomatoes and onions are added to the classic along with a handful of chopped fresh basil. Yum! Cherry tomatoes work nicely here; leave them whole if small or slice in half if large.

1 large red onion, sliced or coarsely chopped
2 lbs tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups milk (room temperature is best)
8 oz. shredded cheddar
1 lb cut pasta (shells are good)
3/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the onion and tomatoes in a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Roast for about 25 minutes, until tender and rich in flavor. Remove from the oven.

While the vegetables roast, make the sauce. Start by making a classic white sauce: Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan or deep skillet, then stir in the flour. Keeping the heat very low, whisk it constantly as it browns and thickens, bubbling. Slowly whisk in the milk a little at a time, over low heat. Whisk constantly until the sauce thickens a bit, then raise the heat to medium until the sauce reaches a simmer. Turn the heat down again at that point and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently (you can switch to a spoon for this).

While the white sauce cooks, boil the pasta in a large pot of salted water.

After the sauce has simmered for its 10 minutes, remove it from the heat and stir in the cheese, a handful or so at a time, until it melts. Stir in the vegetables and the basil. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed.

When the pasta is done, drain it and return it to the pot. Pour the sauce over it and stir to coat evenly. Serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Veggie-Heavy Tabouli

Tomatoes, cukes, and fresh herbs form the heart of this tabouli, which goes heavy on the vegetables. No cooking required. Serve as a side dish, or add warm pita and hummus to make it a meal.

1 1/2 cups dry bulgur wheat
1 large cucumber, peeled and diced (about 3 cups)
1 large tomato, diced (about 3 cups)
1 small red onion, finely chopped (optional)
3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 - 3/4 cup chopped fresh mint
3 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Soak the bulgur in cool water for 2 hours or so, until tender but still just a little chewy. Drain and place in a large bowl.

Add the remaining ingredients to the bulgur and mix well. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serves 6-8.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Caramelized Fennel and Onion Pizza with Goat Cheese

I couldn't convince my almost 4-year-old to try this (his response: "I refuse that it's delicious!")...but hey, more for us grownups! It really IS delicious. Caramelizing brings out fennel's sweetness (and of course does the same for the onions) and mellows it a bit without losing all its flavor. Properly caramelizing fennel and onions takes a bit of time (25-30 minutes or longer if you like) but it's worth it.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large or 2 medium fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 14-inch pizza crust
3 oz. shredded mozzarella
1 Tbsp minced fresh sage
3 oz. goat cheese

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven. Add the fennel and onion and stir to coat thoroughly with oil. Turn the heat to medium and cover. Uncover and stir well every 4-5 minutes or so, and adjust the heat downward if the vegetables are getting too browned (as opposed to caramelized). They will slowly cook down, getting soft and golden over the course of at least 25-30 minutes. If you have time you can continue to caramelize until they are much darker. Toward the end you will need to check on them more frequently and perhaps turn the heat even lower. When they are ready, stir in the red wine vinegar and add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.

As the onions and fennel approach doneness, preheat the oven to 450 degrees and lightly paint the pizza crust with olive oil.

Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella over the pizza crust, then add the caramelized veggies. Sprinkle with sage, then dot with goat cheese.

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

Serves 3-4.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Shiitake Beef Stew with New Potatoes

Good potatoes, especially freshly harvested new potatoes, are such a far cry from your typical Idaho russet as to be nearly a different vegetable altogether. Of course, you can also make this with storage potatoes when new potatoes are not available and as long as you choose good quality ones the stew will be delicious.

1 Tbsp olive oil
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/4 lb shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
1 lb ground beef
1 1/2 - 2 lbs new potatoes, cubed
Beef stock and/or water
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the garlic and onion and saute for about 2 minutes, then add the shiitakes and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Add the beef and brown thoroughly. Add the potatoes along with enough stock and/or water to just cover them. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Add and salt and pepper to taste, then stir in the parsley.

Serves 4-6.

Dried Tomato Pesto

I suppose this is a little out of season, given that we are just getting into the full swing of fresh tomato season. But entering fresh season (for tomatoes or anything else) also means it's time to make sure all the preserved stuff has been used up before I start preserving again for next winter. This recipe took care of my last stash of dried tomatoes. Use this on pasta or pizza, or try it on grilled chicken or vegetables. Also nice on bruschetta, or as a dip for toasted pita.

1 cup dried tomatoes
1/4 - 1/3 cup good olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 - 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (optional)

Place the tomatoes in a heat proof bowl and pour boiling or near boiling water over them to cover. Let them soak for 10-15 minutes, until soft.

Scoop the tomatoes out, reserving the soaking liquid. Place them in a blender or food processor with the olive oil, garlic, a bit of salt and pepper, and Parmesan (if using). Blend until pretty smooth, adding a bit of the tomato water if you like. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed.

This will keep in the refrigerator for many days. It can also be frozen.

Makes enough for 1 lb of pasta or two 14-inch pizzas.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

It's Blueberry Season

(Among many other things, of course!) The Benson Place in Heath is taking orders and scheduling pick-ups right now, so get in touch with them quick if you want a box of blueberries and you haven't yet. If you have any freezer space to spare at all, blueberries are wonderful to put up. Super easy to freeze and great in many uses through the winter: waffles, pancakes, cobblers, crisps, pies, smoothies, popsicles... My husband loves a sprinkling of frozen low bush blueberries (the small ones) over a bowl of Snow's Ginger ice cream.

Here's a past post on how to freeze them.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Potato Salad with Fennel and Herbs

This a delicious no-mayo potato salad, great for parties and potlucks. It is particularly good with fresh new potatoes, which are just showing up at markets now.

2 lbs new potatoes, cubed
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 cup finely chopped fennel
1 large shallot, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender, about 10-15 minutes. Drain and cool.

When the potatoes are cool, combine them with all the other ingredients in a large bowl, stirring carefully so the potatoes don't break up too much.

Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve cold or room temperature.

Serves 6-8.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Simple Fennel Salad

Raw fennel sliced thin makes a nice salad, especially when served cold. Here it's very simply prepared with a little parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil.

1 medium-large fennel bulb, thinly sliced or finely chopped
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp good olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
Pinch or salt

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss to coat. If not serving immediately, refrigerate.

Serves 2-3.

Variations: Add shredded carrots or julienned cucumber to the salad.

Grilled Marsala Vegetables

Another seasoning option for mixed grilled vegetables. Use whatever combination you like, depending on what's available: mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini or summer squash, peppers, onions, etc. I like to include onions in nearly any combination because they're so good.

I made this with onions, the first eggplant from my garden, and shiitake mushrooms from the farmers market.

6 cups mixed seasonal veggies, in chunks
2 Tbsp marsala
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Toss all ingredients in a bowl to coat. Let sit 10-15 minutes (more if you like).

Grill in a grill basket over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and nicely browned/blackened in places, about 20-30 minutes (note that smaller chunks cook faster and bigger ones take longer).

Serves 3-4.

Grilled Lamb Chops with Marsala and Rosemary

Still hot out...still grilling. These were great!

2 large or 4 small lamb chops
1 Tbsp marsala
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp salt
Pepper to taste

Rinse the lamb chops and pat dry. Combine all other ingredients in small bowl or jar, then liberally spread the mixture all over the lamb with a pastry brush or spoon. Let sit 10-15 minutes at room temperature.

Grill the lamb over a hot fire for 4-5 minutes per side for medium rare.

Serves 2.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Balsamic Grilled Zucchini

Very simple and easy. You can use this same recipe for summer squash or eggplant once it comes in (soon!).

1 lb zucchini, topped and tailed
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the zucchini into 1/2-inch thick slices - either round or lengthwise, depending on the shape of your squash. The idea is to be able to lay it on directly on the grill without it falling through. For those slice with skin covering one side, peel some off or score them to let the marinade in. Lay them out in a single layer on plate.

Mix the olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper together. Using a pastry brush or spoon, spread it generously on both sides of the zucchini. Let sit for 10-15 minutes.

Grill over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes per side, until nicely browned in parts and tender throughout. Serve hot.

Serves about 2.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cucumber Basil Salad

Cool and refreshing...again, tomatoes welcome as an addition.

4 cups diced cucumbers (peeled if desired)
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped sweet basil (or more if desired)
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil, preferably a nice fruity one
Salt to taste

Toss all ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serves 4-6.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Southwestern Orzo Salad with Raw Corn and Zucchini

This is pretty quick and easy, and good for a hot night (looks like a few of those coming up...). The only thing that needs cooking is the orzo. A food processor makes quick work of shredding the zucchini. This works as a main dish with the cheddar, or if you like you could add shredded chicken. Great for a party or a potluck.

1 1/2 cups dry orzo
1-1 1/2 lbs zucchini, shredded
5 ears corn, kernels stripped off
1 cup chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar (optional)
3/4-1 cup good quality salsa
Salt to taste

Cook the orzo in a pot of salted boiling water, then drain and rise with cold water until cooled.

Toss the orzo together in a large bowl with the remaining ingredients. Refrigerate if not serving immediately.

Serves about 6 as a main dish.

Variation: Add diced raw tomatoes.

Corn and Chanterelle Bisque

I was lucky enough to score some chanterelles at the farmers market on Saturday, from Paul Lagreze. I don't know if he'll have any more this week, but they were divine! They do something really magical here in this soup with the sweet corn and a hint of sherry. This tastes very rich with whole milk, but if you want to up the luxury level even farther, substitute cream for some of the milk.

A word about sherry: if you don't keep a bottle of cooking sherry in your pantry, you should. You can get a bottle of dry sherry suitable for cooking for well under $10 and it keeps pretty much forever.

4 tsp butter
2 medium shallots, minced
1/4 lb chanterelle mushrooms, finely chopped
6-7 ears sweet corn, kernels stripped off
Water and/or stock (chicken or vegetable)
2 cups whole milk
2 Tbsp dry sherry
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a soup pot. Add the shallots and chanterelles and saute over medium heat until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Add the corn kernels plus enough water to just cover. Simmer until tender, 5-10 minutes.

Puree the soup using an immersion blender, or do it in batches in a blender, then return to the pot. Puree to whatever degree you like between chunky and smooth. Then stir in the milk and sherry and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Variation: To turn this into a chowder instead of a bisque, add cubed potatoes (new potatoes would be wonderful) and puree only a little, just enough to thicken the soup a little.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Thai Cucumber Salad

So the cucumbers have starting coming in - with a vengeance. And when you've just picked half a dozen (or more!) at once, there's nothing like cucumber salad to use them up. There are many possible variations and flavor profiles - this is just one. (Feel free to add tomatoes if desired.)

4 cups diced cucumbers (peeled if desired)
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion (or other sweet onion)
1/4 cup finely chopped Thai basil
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
Salt to taste
Sesame seeds (optional)

Toss all ingredients except sesame seeds in a bowl until thoroughly coated. Refrigerate if not serving right away. Sprinkle lightly with sesame seeds (if using) before serving.

Serves about 4.

Variations: substitute mint or cilantro for some or all of the Thai basil.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Sesame Snap Peas

A quick and easy side dish. Snap peas work beautifully with Asian flavors.

2 cups whole snap peas, stemmed
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce
Sesame seeds (optional)

Toss the snap peas in a bowl with the sesame oil, rice vinegar, and soy sauce until they are well coated. If desired, top with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

Serve chilled or room temperature.

Serves 3-4.

Freezing Cherries

Clarkdale Fruit Farms has been at the Greenfield Farmers Market the last two Saturdays with both tart and sweet cherries for sale. They thought they would have some more tomorrow as well, but it will most likely be the last of the them. Get there early if you want some!

Tart cherries are fantastic for pie. If you don't want to bake in the heat, freeze some now to make pie in the fall. You'll need around 2 quarts of cherries for a pie.

To freeze cherries:
1. Pit the cherries. You can do this with a sharp knife and/or your fingers, but if you're going to do very many I suggest you pick up a cherry pitter. I have an inexpensive handheld one that pits one cherry at a time; they also come in version that pit several at a time. Make sure you do your pitting over the sink or in a large bowl, as the juice splatters and stains.

2. Drain off extra juice in a colander (down the drain, or else drink it; there won't be a ton).

3. Pack the cherries gently into quart size freezer bags. Distribute the cherries so they form a somewhat flat package. Label and freeze.

You can bake the cherries without thawing, just allow a little more time in the oven. A little gentle massaging of the frozen package should loosen them up fairly well, and they can be further separated in a bowl.

Sweet Zucchini Custard Pie (aka John Henry Pie)

This recipes comes from my friend Beth Caissie, who tells me it was invented by her grandfather, John Caissie, and who swears by its absolute deliciousness. She calls it John Henry Pie in his honor. Use whatever pie crust recipe you like.

2 1/2 cups (about 1 large) cooked drained zucchini
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 9-inch unbaked pastry shell

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Squeeze extra liquid out of zucchini in a colander.

Blend zucchini, sour crea, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in blender until thick and frothy (or mash vigorously with a potato masher). Pour into an unbaked pie shell, sprinkle with nutmeg. Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees (or until the custard has set and is beginning to pull away from the crust just a tiny bit). Beth says the pie usually needs to bake longer than this - sometimes up to an hour - but her grandfather always said 30 minutes so that's what she starts with.

Serves 6-8.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Cold Sesame Noodles with Garden Vegetables

You can serve these noodles warm or room temperature, but they are really great served cold on a hot night. At this time of year, I like to make them with snap peas and shredded carrots, but you can use other vegetables if you like. Later in the summer, sweet red peppers are delicious here.


1 lb linguine or other pasta
1 Tbsp canola oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp minced ginger root
1/2 cup tahini
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2-3 tsp chili paste or sriracha sauce (or to taste)
1-2 Tbsp honey or brown sugar
1 pint snap peas, stemmed
1-2 cups shredded carrots
Chopped fresh mint, cilantro, and/or Thai basil for topping (optional)

Cook the noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water. When done, drain and rinse with cold water until thoroughly cooled. Toss with canola oil and refrigerate until the sauce is ready.

Combine the garlic, ginger, tahini, sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, chili paste or sriracha, and honey or sugar in the blender. Blend until smooth, adding water 1-2 Tbsp at a time until it reaches the desired consistency (it should be creamy and pourable but not runny).

Toss the pasta with the sauce, adding the snap peas and carrots until everything is coated. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. (If you make these more than a few hours in advance, the sauce may thicken more than desired; in this case, drizzle the noodles with a small amount of water and toss until the sauce regains a good consistency.)

Serve cold, topped with chopped herbs if desired.

Serves about 6.

Variations: Add chopped scallions; add or substitute diced cucumber or halved cherry tomatoes.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tortilla da Patatas with Zucchini and Basil

Our zucchini is starting to hit its stride and the basil is going strong. To really enjoy this properly, use new potatoes (which are just starting to appear now, too).

This dish is also a good way to use leftover boiled or steamed potatoes. Cube or slice them and add them to the eggs as you would otherwise add the potatoes cooked as part of the recipe.

1/4 cup olive oil
4-5 cups sliced potatoes (1/4-inch slices)
1/4 cup diced scapes
1 small zucchini, diced (1 - 1 1/2 cups)
5 eggs
1/2 cup chopped basil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a heavy ovenproof skillet (10-inch is a good size). Add the potatoes and fry until tender, turning frequently to keep them from sticking.

When the potatoes are tender, remove them from the pan and drain off all but about 1 Tbsp of the oil in the pan. Add the scapes and zucchini and saute until tender, about 3-4 minutes, then remove from heat. Turn on the broiler.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add the potatoes, vegetables, basil, and Parmesan and stir to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Heat the skillet again, adding a bit more oil so it is well coated, and pour in the egg and potato mixture. Cook over medium heat, shaking frequently, until half set. Finish under the broiler (just a few minutes should do the job).

Serve warm.

Serves about 4.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Lamb and Snap Pea Curry

This is a Southeast Asian style curry with coconut milk. Substitute shell peas for the snap peas if you like. If you don't have scapes, feel free to use a few cloves of regular garlic instead. Serve this over rice.

1 1/2 lbs ground lamb
1 cup chopped garlic scapes
1 Tbsp garam masala
1 Tbsp ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1 14-oz can coconut milk (lite is fine)
3/4 lb snap peas
1 bunch scallions, sliced in rounds (white and green parts)

Cook the lamb in a Dutch oven or other large pot. When it's done, pour off the most of fat (there is likely to be a lot of it). Add the scapes, garam masala, and cumin, as well as some salt and pepper, and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the coconut milk and simmer for 15 minutes or so. Add the snap peas and scallions at the end, cooking just until tender, 2-3 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.

Serve hot over rice.

Serves 4-6.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Grilled Summer Squash and Onions

Grilled onions - you can use any kind you like, including scallions cut into 1- or 2-inch lengths - are flavorful, sweet, and delicious. They work well here with some of the first zucchini or summer squash of the season. Use any variety of summer squash, or a mix. Red onions make a particularly attraction combination with the squash.


4 cups cubed summer squash
2 cups sliced or cubed onion or scallions
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped fresh herbs (optional)

Toss the squash and onion with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill in a grill basket over medium heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve hot, topped if desired with a sprinkling of chopped fresh herbs (basil, parsley, oregano, dill, whatever sounds good).

Serves 4-6.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Roasted Fennel and Scapes with Parmesan

Fennel turns sweet, soft, and mild when you roast it. If you'd like to make this without scapes, or in a different season, you can skip them or substitute several whole garlic cloves.

2 medium fennel bulbs, coarsely chopped
5-6 garlic scapes, chopped
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Rinse the fennel well, as it sometimes collects dirt between the layers. Place it in a baking pan (7x11 inches or so) and add the scapes. Drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.

Cover the baking pan with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the fennel and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and turn on the broiler. Sprinkle the cheese over the fennel, then broil for about 3 minutes, until golden. Serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Variation: Late in the summer or in the fall, try substituting leeks for the scapes.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fresh Strawberry Mint Sauce

Use this as a topping for grilled or broiled chicken, pork, or white fish. It's sweet and tangy all at once (unless your berries are extra super sweet, you'll need a little sugar or it won't quite taste right). If you like, experiment with different herbs: in place of the mint, try cilantro or basil.

1 cup minced fresh strawberries
1/2 tsp lime juice (or to taste)
2 tsp minced fresh mint (or to taste)
Salt to taste
Sugar to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, ideally at least an hour before serving so the flavor can meld. Refrigerate if not serving within an hour.

Makes about 1 cup, enough to serve 4.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Scape and Cilantro Scramble

This made for a quick supper on a night when I was in a hurry, but if you like bold flavors with your breakfast or brunch it would work there, too.

8 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup chopped garlic scapes
Salsa or hot sauce for topping (optional)

Stir together the eggs, cheddar, and cilantro in a medium bowl, then add salt and pepper. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a large skillet, then add the scapes and saute for 2-3 minutes. Pour in the egg mixture and cook over low-medium heat, stirring, until the eggs are cooked through.

Serve hot, topped with hot sauce or salsa if you like.

Serves 3-4.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Strawberries, Strawberries, Strawberries

It's mid-June and that means it's the height of strawberry season. This morning we went over to Upinngil Farm and picked about 19 pounds. My husband and son picked another 9 pounds or so earlier this week. At the moment I've got strawberries in the freezer, strawberries in the dehydrator, and strawberries and rhubarb simmering on the stove to make jam. Mmmm.

To freeze whole strawberries, wash them well, then hull them and cut out any bad spots. If you have time, freeze them on trays for several hours, then package them in freezer bags (I use quart size). Otherwise, just put them straight into bags and freeze. The advantage of tray freezing is that it keeps them separate so you can take out just a few at a time instead of having to thaw the whole package. If you just put them straight into bags they will stick together.

I use a home dehydrator to dry strawberries, as I do for tomatoes, peaches, apples, and pears. Wash and hull the berries, then slice in half and arrange them on the trays. Dry until there is no moisture left in them; they will be somewhere between leathery and crisp. Store in an airtight container. They'll keep even longer if you store them in the freezer. I like to stir them into my oatmeal in the winter.

Strawberry season is short, especially the u-pick season, so if you haven't gotten out there yet, you should do it in the next week or you'll risk missing out.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fennel Scape Risotto with Sausage

Way yummy. You can skip the sausage if you want and serve the risotto as a side dish. With the sausage it's good as an entree. The instructions below are to make risotto in the pressure cooker (so easy! and good!), but you can always do it the old fashioned way if you prefer. Skip the scapes if it's the wrong season - you can add some minced garlic or another shallot as a substitute.


2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small shallot (optional)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
3 1/2 cups warm chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 lb hot or sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 medium fennel bulb, diced (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 cup chopped garlic scapes
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in the bottom of the pressure cooker, then add the shallots and saute over medium-high heat for about a minute. Add the rice and saute for another 1-2 minutes, until it turns translucent and becomes fragrant. Pour in the broth, cover and lock the lid, and bring to pressure. Cook for seven minutes at high pressure, then release the pressure, let sit for a minute, and stir gently.

While the rice cooks, cook the sausage in a large skillet. When it is nicely browned, add the fennel and scapes and cook until tender.

When everything is done, combine it all and serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pizza with Pesto and Asparagus

Asparagus season continues. Local basil is starting to make an appearance, too; if you like, you can make fresh pesto with scapes instead of regular garlic. I'm still using the last few packets of pesto that I froze last summer, along with the tomatoes I dried at the same time.

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
1/2 cup basil pesto
12 oz. asparagus, tough ends snapped off, sliced in rounds
1/4 cup dried tomatoes, rehydrated in hot water and diced (optional)
3-4 oz. shredded mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Lightly paint the pizza curst with olive oil, then spread it with the pesto. Spread the asparagus and dried tomatoes (if using) over the pesto, then top with mozzarella. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the crust is done and cheese begins to brown.

Serves 3-4.

Variations: 1) use parsley-mint pesto or green garlic/scape pesto instead of basil. 2) skip the mozzarella and top with crumbled feta or goat cheese.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Lentil Barley Soup with Spinach and Shiitakes

Lentils and barley make a great, nutritious base for a soup to which you can add whatever types of vegetables are in season. In the winter I use root vegetables; in the spring, greens and mushrooms.

1 Tbsp olive oil
8-10 garlic scapes, sliced in rounds (or 5-6 cloves garlic, minced)
1/4 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
3/4 cup pearl barley
1/2 cup brown lentils
Water and/or stock (vegetable or beef)
6-8 oz. spinach, stemmed and chopped
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp dry sherry
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the scapes and mushrooms and saute until tender, 3-5 minutes. Add the barley and lentils and enough water or stock to cover by about an inch. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until lentils and barley are tender, about 25-30 minutes.

When the barley and lentils are tender, add the spinach and cook until wilted. Add the soy sauce and sherry, then salt and pepper to taste.

Serves about 6.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Massaman Curry with Ground Beef and Spinach

Massaman curry is a Thai curry with Indian influences, mainly in the use of ground dry spices, and if you haven't tried it, it's wonderful. The list of ingredients to make the paste is long, but it's not difficult. The paste keeps well (i.e. for months) in the fridge. One batch from this recipe will make about two curries, but you can easily double or triple it if you want. This is great in the winter with root vegetables, too. Serve over rice.

Massaman curry paste
1/4 cup dry roasted unsalted peanuts
2 shallots, chopped
5 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp minced ginger root
1 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
Hot chilis to taste (I used 2) or ground cayenne
2 Tbsp fish sauce (optional but recommended)
1 tsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp lime juice or to taste

To make the massaman curry paste, combine all ingredients in a mini food processor or mortar and pestle and process until it forms a nice paste. Use or refrigerate in a sealed container.

Curry dish
2 lbs ground beef
1/4 cup massaman curry paste
1 tsp red curry paste (optional but good; adds heat)
1 14-oz can coconut milk (lite is fine)
6-8 garlic scapes, chopped
1 lb potatoes, peeled and cubed (optional but good)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 - 1/2 lb spinach, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1 bunch scallions, sliced in rounds (optional)

To make the curry dish, start by browning the beef in a Dutch oven or other large pot. Pour off the fat, then add the the massaman curry paste and the red curry paste if using and stir to distribute well. Add the coconut milk, scapes, and potatoes and sprinkle in some salt and pepper. Cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender, 15 minutes or so.

When the potatoes are tender, uncover the pot and add the spinach and scallions (if using). Cook until tender, a few minutes, then remove from heat.

Serve hot over rice.

Serves about 6.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Gingery Late Spring Stir-Fry with Scapes, Scallions, and Greens

If this recipe sounds a bit like one I posted a month ago, you're right. It's a good example of how I take a basic recipe concept and adjust it through the year depending on what's in season at any given moment. In early May we had storage onions and garlic to mix with fresh greens; now that it's June we have scapes (or use green garlic) and scallions. I made this with Swiss chard, but spinach, arugula, kale, mustard greens, etc. would all work fine. If you use chard, put the diced stems in at the same time as the scapes and scallions.

Feel free to substitute chicken, tofu, tempeh, or whatever other protein you like for the steak.

2 Tbsp canola oil
1 lb not-too-fancy steak (like London broil or top round)
1/4 cup soy sauce, or more to taste
6-8 scapes, in 1/8-1/4-inch rounds
1 bunch scallions or spring onions, sliced in rounds (white and green parts)
1 Tbsp minced ginger
3/4 lb greens, washed and stemmed if needed (chop or not, as desired)
1 Tbsp corn starch
Salt to taste
Hot sauce (optional)

Slice the steak against the grain, about 1/4-inch thick, with slices about 2 inches long. Place it in a bowl, add 1/4 cup soy sauce, and toss to coat. Let stand for 5-10 minutes (more if you have time).

Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a wok or very large skillet. Scoop the steak out of its bowl, leaving excess liquid behind, and cook over high heat until it reaches your desired level of doneness. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the remaining 1 Tbsp of oil to the wok or skillet, then add the scapes, scallions, and ginger. Stir fry over medium high heat for 3-4 minutes, then add the greens (you may have to do this in batches). Cook the greens until wilted, then add the steak back in and remove the pan from the heat.

Mix the corn starch into the soy sauce remaining from marinating the beef, then pour it into the pan. Return the pan to the heat, briefly, until the sauce thickens. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Serve hot, over rice. If desired, add hot sauce at the table.

Serves 4-6.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Green Garlic and Barley Pilaf

This makes a nice side dish alongside grilled pork chops, steak, roast chicken, or the like. Feel free to mix this up with other whole grains such as quinoa or millet - use all one or a combination. You can use hull barley instead of pearl if you like, but it will take about twice as long to cook and will remain chewy in texture.

1 cup pearl barley (or other grains)
3 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
2 Tbsp olive oil
5-6 stalks green garlic, finely chopped (as far up as seems tender)
1-2 Tbsp minced fresh sage leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 cups julienned sorrel or arugula leaves (optional)

Combine the barley and stock in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes, until the barley is tender and all the water is absorbed.

While you cook the barley, heat the olive oil in a skillet and saute the garlic for 2-3 minutes. Add the sage and continue to saute briefly. Remove from heat and set aside.

When the barley is done, stir in the garlic mixture. Taste and add salt and pepper if desired. If using, stir ig the sorrel or arugula. Serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pizza with Asparagus and Egg on Top

There's sort of a deconstructed hollandaise kind of thing going on here, with the egg and lemon zest. It's a great combination with the asparagus. I also really enjoyed the first fresh parsley of the season, from the farmers market. The hardier herbs are starting to be more available now - mint, parsley, sage, etc.

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 lb asparagus, tough ends snapped off, in 1/4-inch rounds
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp lemon zest (or sprinkle lightly with lemon juice)
2-3 oz. shredded mozzarella
4 eggs

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Paint the crust lightly with olive oil, then spread the tomato sauce over it. Sprinkle with asparagus, parsley, and lemon zest, then the mozzarella. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Remove pizza from oven and carefully crack the eggs over the top, evenly distributed. Even more carefully, put the pizza back back in the oven and bake for another 3-5 minutes, until the eggs are cooked; the yolks should still be quite gooey.

Serves 3-4.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Creamy Asparagus Morel Sauce

Last weekend at the farmers market, Paul Lagreze had some morel mushrooms, which I have heard about but never had before. They were pricy by the pound, but they're light and, as a true wild mushroom, they are not that often seen by those of us who don't know where to find them ourselves. As I was buying them, someone asked Paul how to cook them, and he suggested sauteing in butter then making a cream sauce. Here's my take on that recommendation. Mushrooms and asparagus go together like they were made for each other. If you don't have green garlic, substitute ramps or shallots or a clove or two of mature garlic. And if you don't have morels, feel free to substitute any other flavorful mushrooms you can find.

Serve this over pasta or polenta or, if you like, over broiled chicken.

3 Tbsp butter (1 Tbsp + 2 Tbsp)
1 stalk green garlic, minced
1/4 lb morels, diced
1 1/2 lbs asparagus, tough ends snapped off, sliced in rounds
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk (ideally whole)

Melt 1 Tbsp of butter in a large skillet. When it foams, add the garlic and saute for about a minute. Add the morels and saute for another 1-2 minutes, then add the asparagus. Saute for another 3-4 minutes, or until the asparagus is bright green and tender but not too soft. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter. Whisk in the flour, stirring constantly as it forms a paste and turns light brown in color. Slowly whisk in the milk, making sure to eliminate any lumps. Heat the milk until it just barely begins to simmer, then reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon (5-10 minutes). Turn off the heat and stir in the vegetables.

Makes enough to serve 4-6 over pasta or polenta.

Variations:
1. Keep the asparagus in whole stalks and steam in separately until tender-crisp. Serve the sauce over the asparagus.
2. Instead of making a roux-based white sauce with milk, just stir cream into the vegetables.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Buttermilk Blue Cheese Pasta with Arugula

There are several options for local blue cheeses - pick something moderately crumbly and flavorful but not extremely pungent (or just pick whatever you like best!). It pairs well with arugula's peppery flavor. If you want to give this dish more heft, toss in some cooked chicken or beans.

1 lb pasta of your choice
1 cup buttermilk
3-4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 lb arugula, washed and chopped
1 1/2 cups walnut pieces, lightly toasted

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water. When done, drain and toss with a little canola oil.

While the pasta cooks, combine the buttermilk and blue cheese in the blender. Or, if you prefer, mash the cheese into the buttermilk with a fork for a chunkier consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.

When the pasta is done, immediately toss it with the arugula in a large bowl. The arugula should wilt partially to completely. Pour in the buttermilk sauce. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed.

Serve hot, passing toasted walnuts at the table for topping.

Serves 4-6.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Asparagus Chorizo Pizza

Asparagus and chorizo have a real affinity for each other.

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
4 oz. shredded mozzarella
1 1/2 cups sliced asparagus (1/8-1/4 inch rounds)
1/2 lb cooked chorized (sliced or crumbled)
1 shallot, minced
1 Tbsp minced fresh sage

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

Spread about two-third of the mozzarella over the crust. Spread the asparagus and chorizo over the cheese, then sprinkle with minced shallot and sage. Top with the remaining cheese.

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

Serves 3-4.

Variation: Toss some goat cheese on top of this or, if you have it, Manchego.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tortilla Pie with Spinach, Chicken, and Black Beans

Here's a nice hearty baked dish for these dismal cold grey days we've been having. A great use for leftover chicken. This recipe makes two pies, but feel free to halve it.

Olive oil
10-12 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium onions, diced
2 Tbsp ground cumin
1-2 tsp chili powder, or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
3-4 cups cooked black beans
3 cups shredded cooked chicken
1/2 lb spinach, washed, stemmed and coarsely chopped
4 10-inch tortillas (flour or corn as you like)
8 oz. shredded sharp cheddar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil two large pie plates or 10-inch oven-proof skillets.

Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven. Add the garlic and onions and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the cumin, chili powder, and salt and pepper and mix well. Add the beans and chicken and heat through. Add the spinach and saute until wilted. Drain off extra liquid, either using a colander or by tipping the pan and sucking it out with a baster.

Place one tortilla in the bottom of each pan. The edges will fold up a little around the edges of the pan. Spread one quarter of the cheese over each tortilla, then add a quarter of the spinach mixture to each. Top with another tortilla, then the remaining filling. Spread the remaining cheese on top.

Bake the pies for about 15 minutes, until the tortilla crust is a bit crisp and the cheese begins to brown.

Serves 6-8.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Local Feast Cooking Classes

If you enjoy my recipes but would like a little more on cooking technique for all these great local ingredients, check out Molly Merritt's Local Feast Cooking Classes. Molly is based in Northampton and offers monthly cooking classes focused on in-season local ingredients. Classes meet the third Saturday of each month from 2-5pm. Sign up for a single class or get a discount for two or more. See the website for details.

Pizza with Chorizo and Chard

Along with spinach and arugula, I spotted bunches of Swiss chard at the market this weekend and scooped one up for variety. Feel free to substitute other greens here. Chorizo is a spicy Spanish sausage, available from several of our local pork farmers.

1 14-inch pizza crust
Olive oil
1/2 lb chorizo
1/2 lb Swiss chard, coarsely chopped (stems optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup tomato sauce
3-4 oz. shredded mozzarella

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

Cook the chorizo in a skillet over high heat: either remove casings first and crumble as you brown it, or cook whole links and slice afterwards. When the chorizo is done, remove it from the pan and pour off most of the fat. Add the chard to the pan and saute until wilted, adding salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.

Spread the tomato sauce over the crust, then top with the chard and chorizo. Sprinkle with mozzarella. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until crust is done and cheese begins to brown.

Serves 3-4.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Barley with Ramps, Arugula, and Goat Cheese

Hulled barley is available from Four Star Farms; you can usually get it at Green Fields Market. You can also opt to use pearl barley for this dish; it will cook faster and is not quite as chewy in texture.

Serve this as a side dish or, if you like, add cooked beans and some toasted nuts for a heartier main dish.

1 1/2 cups hulled barley
4 1/2 cups water or stock (chicken or vegetable)
About 10 ramps (1 bunch)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 lb arugula, washed and chopped
1 Tbsp minced fresh sage
Salt and pepper to taste
2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
Toasted pine nuts for topping (optional)

Place the barley and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until tender, about an hour (for pearl barley, more like 25-30 minutes).

While the barley cooks, slice the root ends off the ramps and wash them well. Thinly slice the whites and stems, then cut the leaves cross-wise into ribbons.

Heat the olive oil in a very large skillet or Dutch oven. Add the ramps and saute for about 1 minute. Add the arugula and saute until wilted. Stir in the sage and add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.

When the barley is done, mix it together with the vegetables and the goat cheese. With the other ingredients hot, the goat cheese should melt and spread so that it coats everything. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Serve hot, cold, or room temperature, topped with toasted pine nuts if desired.

Serves about 4 as a main dish, 6-8 as a side dish.