Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ramps and Fiddleheads

The Greenfield Farmers Market opens this Saturday and it sounds like it's going to be great! There should be a pretty good array of spring vegetables, greens, baked goods, etc., along with cheese, meat, and maple products. Two highlights are the addition of Hillman Farms, which makes wonderful goat cheese, and a new poultry vendor.

The first market of the season usually also means fiddleheads and ramps, both of which are wonderful wild spring treats with a short season. To whet your appetite, follow these links for recipes that highlight them.



Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Potato Corn Soup with Sorrel and Chives

A spring twist on corn chowder. Toss in some fiddleheads if you like.

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 1/2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cubed
Water or vegetable stock
2 cups corn kernels (frozen is fine)
1/2 cup finely chopped sorrel leaves
1/2 - 3/4 cup snipped chives
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 - 1 cup milk (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot, then add the onions and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the potatoes and enough water or vegetable stock to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are nice and tender, 15-20 minutes.

When the potatoes are tender, you can optionally puree the soup fully or partially. Then add the corn, sorrel, and chives and simmer until heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add milk if desired to thin the soup and give it a slightly creamier consistency.

Serves about 6.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Florentine Easter Egg Pizza

Raise your hand if you have more hard boiled eggs in your fridge than usual this week! We had a lot of fun dying eggs with our three year old, but now we're looking for ways to use them all. This pizza used up a couple - it might sound odd, but try it; the egg is actually quite a nice addition and the flavors (reminiscent of eggs Florentine) work well together.

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
1/2 cup tomato sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 lb spinach, stemmed and chopped
3 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan, finely chopped
2-3 oz. shredded mozzarella

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

Top the crust with the tomato sauce, then sprinkle garlic over it. Cover with the spinach, then add the eggs and Parmesan, and top with mozzarella. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until crust is done and cheese begins to brown.

Serves 3-4.

Variations: 1) Use more like 10-12 oz of spinach and saute it first; 2) instead of using hard boiled eggs, carefully crack three eggs onto the top of the pizza (make little wells for them in the spinach if you like) just before you put it in the oven. They will cook sunny side up while it bakes.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Quiche with Caramelized Onions and Cheese

I made this for Easter brunch with local eggs, milk, cream, cheese and onions. The secret is in taking a nice long time to caramelize the onions. If you like, make extra and keep them in the fridge for up to a week or so to use with other dishes. Quiche is best made with whole milk, if not cream or half-and-half, but you can use 1% or 2% if you like - the texture won't be as rich and custardy, but it will be passable.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 very large onion or 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 9-inch deep dish pie crust (I use Mark Bittman's recipe)
2-3 oz. Edam, Gouda, or Swiss (shredded), or goat cheese (crumbled)
5 large eggs
1/2 cup cream (optional)
1 1/4 cup whole milk, or 1 3/4 cup if not using cream
1 tsp salt
Black pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, then add the onions. Saute over low-medium heat for about an hour, stirring periodically and loosely covering in between, until the onions turn a nice golden brown color and are extremely soft. If you have time, keep cooking them over low heat until they turn a deeper shade of brown.

While the onions cook, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prick the pastry shell all over with a fork. Take a piece of foil big enough to cover the bottom of the pie shell and come up the sides partway; butter one side of it. Press it firmly down into the pie shell, buttered side down, then add pie weights. Place it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes (or longer) to get nice and firm. Bake for 12 minutes, then remove from the oven and turn the heat down to 325 degrees. Remove the foil and pie weights.

While the pie shell pre-bakes, beat the eggs in a large bowl, then add the cream (if using) and milk and mix well. Stir in the salt and pepper.

When the onions and the pie shell are both ready, spread the cheese in the bottom of the pie shell. Add the onions in a layer over the cheese, then pour in the egg and milk mixture.

If you like, place the quiche on a baking sheet in case of spills, and to make it easier to get into the oven. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the eggs are cooked through; when done, the quiche should still jiggle a bit in the center. Let cool for 10 minutes (or longer) to set up a bit more, then serve warm or room temperature.

Serves about 4.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Greek-Style Tomato Sauce with Garlic and Chickpeas

This is a zesty alternative to the usual Italian style sauces. I particularly like it over soft polenta, but it's also good over pasta or spaghetti squash. If you like, substitute cooked cubed chicken for the chickpeas. Top with Parmesan. (This marked the end of my home canned tomatoes from last summer.)

olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups peeled tomatoes (canned or frozen), with some liquid drained off
1-2 tsp dried sage
Pinch of cinnamon
Red pepper flakes to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups cooked chickpeas

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add the garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes and all the remaining ingredients. If using whole tomatoes, mash them up with a fork or the back of a spoon while they cook. Simmer for 15-30 minutes (or longer if you like). Taste and adjust seasonings.

Serve over polenta, pasta, or spaghetti squash. Makes enough sauce for 1 lb pasta, polenta made from 1 1/2 cups dry cornmeal, or 1 medium spaghetti squash - enough to serve 4-6.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Gingery Carrot and Parsnip Soup with Tofu

If you use a food processor for the shredding, this soup goes together very fast indeed.

1 Tbsp canola oil
2-3 Tbsp minced ginger root
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
3 large carrots, peeled and shredded
3 medium parsnips, woody cores removed, peeled and shredded
16 oz. firm tofu, in 1/2-inch cubes
Vegetable stock (and/or water)
2-4 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 cup snipped chives
Salt to taste
Hot sauce to pass at the table (sriracha is good)

Heat the canola oil in a soup pot. Add the ginger and garlic and saute over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the carrots, parsnips, tofu, and enough stock to generously cover. Bring to a boil, then simmer about 5 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Stir in the soy sauce and chives. Taste and add salt if needed.

Serve in large bowls and pass hot sauce at the table.

Serves about 6.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It's April - What's Left?

I put up quite a lot of food last summer and fall - frozen fruits and vegetables, canned tomatoes, canned jam, and lots of canned salsa. We also had squash, shallots, sweet potatoes, onions, potatoes, and carrots, mostly from our late fall CSA, and bought some more storage crop items at Winter Fare in early February. So what's left now that it's April and the farmers market is due to open in a week and half?

In a nutshell, not much. It seems we did pretty well at putting up enough to use without having a ton leftover when the season starts up again. I have one package of corn, a couple of green beans, and a couple of chopped tomatoes in the freezer, along with some more pesto. I've got a few packets of strawberries that I'm saving for the first rhubarb, some peaches that I'm saving for smoothies and popsicles as the weather warms up, and a LOT of blueberries left. That might be the one are where we were overly ambitious, having put up about 30 lbs of them. But I also know we'll start using a lot in smoothies and popsicles as the weather warms up and before they are in season again.

In the pantry, I've got one last quart jar of tomatoes, a couple half pints of salsa verde, and a little jam. We have some shallots left, though I recently had to toss some in the compost because they were crumbling inside. And that's it.

I wish I had done a little more corn and some more red pepper, but we did alright with what we had. Next year I'll definitely stock up on more red peppers in the early fall, in order to make more romesco sauce.

Whole Wheat Waffles with Local Fruit

Use whole wheat pastry flour - available from Upinngil Farm and Four Star Farms - for whole grain waffles that are light, crisp, and flavorful. Local berries and stone fruits are a year-round luxury if you buy them in bulk in August and freeze them. If you like, substitute buttermilk for some or all of the milk.

2 cups frozen blueberries
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
2 Tbsp melted butter, cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
Maple syrup for serving

Place the blueberries in a medium saucepan over low heat. Warm, stirring occasionally, until they are warm through and juicy. It's fine if they continue to simmer while you cook the waffles.

Brush your waffle iron lightly with oil and preheat while you put the waffle batter together.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. In a smaller bowl, combine the beaten eggs, milk, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine thoroughly.

Ladle batter into the center of the waffle iron. Close and cook until the indicator light show that it is done; if you like your waffles crispier, leave it another 30-60 seconds.

Keep waffles warm on a covered plate or in a low oven until ready to serve. Top with blueberries (and juice) and maple syrup at the table.

Serves about 4.

Variation: top with Blueberry-Strawberry Sauce, applesauce, or (in summer) fresh slice fruit.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sweet and Spicy Grilled Parsnips

A recipe for those special April days that remind you summer is coming and you can't resist getting out the grill. You'll need a grill basket for this.

3 lbs spring dug parsnips, peeled
2 Tbsp walnut oil (or use olive or canola)
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 medium shallot, very finely minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the parsnips in half or into 2-inch lengths so you can see where the core is. Slice the outside part off the core (which is woody and hard to eat on spring dug parsnips). Slice the outside parts into lengths of 2 inches or so, with the slices no more than 1/4-inch thick. Place all the slices in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, combine all other ingredients and mix well. Pour over the parsnips and toss until they are all thoroughly coated.

Place the parsnips in the grill basket and grill over medium-high heat for 20-25 minutes, stirring periodically to keep the ones on the bottom from burning. The parsnips will be nicely tender when done and a bit crispy on the outside.

Serves about 4.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Winter Tomato Basil Pizza with Pine Nuts

Well, I guess it's not really winter, anymore, despite last week's snow... But still, this is a tomato basil pizza for the time of year when tomatoes and basil are not in season. Enjoy!

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
2 cups whole peeled tomatoes, extra liquid drained off (canned, or thawed if frozen)
Salt and pepper
3-4 oz. shredded mozzarella
1 tsp dried basil (or to taste)
1/4 cup pine nuts

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

Place the tomatoes in a small baking pan, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes, then remove from the oven, drain off excess liquid, and mash them slightly.

Spread most of the mozzarella over the pizza crust, then spread the partially mashed tomatoes over it. Sprinkle with basil and pine nuts, then the remaining mozzarella.

Bake at 450 for 15-18 minutes, until the crust is done and the cheese begins to brown.

Serves 3-4.

Variation: Add feta.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Oven Roasted Parsnips

These are positively addictive. Get yourself some spring-dug parsnips (much sweeter than ones harvested in the fall!) and make them now.

2-3 lbs parsnips
2 Tbsp walnut oil (or olive or canola)
1/2 tsp salt
Black pepper to taste
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Get a large baking sheet ready, lined with parchment paper if you like for easier cleanup.

Cut the tops and tips off the parsnips and peel as you would carrots. If they are large (as spring dug ones usually are), cut out the woody cores, then cut what's left into spears (like carrot sticks) or cubes.

Toss the parsnip in a large bowl with the oil, salt, pepper, and cinnamon until they are well coated. Spread them out in a single layer (or close to it) on the baking sheet.

Bake for 25 minutes, turning once abouth halfway through, until they are soft and browned around the edges. Serve hot.

Serves about 4.

Grain and Bean CSAs

Locally grown grain seems to be the next major growth area for local food here in the Pioneer Valley. Upinngil Farm in Gill has whole wheat and flour available at their farm store all year round, and Four Star Farms in Northfield now has barley, wheat, and spelt, plus flour, available at Green Fields Market on a regular basis. The People's Pint is now making 100% Local Ale from local grain and hops, and Valley bakeries such as Hungry Ghost, Wheatberry, and El Jardin are expanding their use of locally grown wheat and other grains. It's an exciting time!

Last year we saw the introduction of the Pioneer Valley Heritage Grain CSA, organized by Wheatberry Farm, offering shares with a variety of heritage grains and dry beans.

Now I've just learned about another grain CSA in the Valley, from White Oaks Grains in Belchertown, which has 40 shares available of 150 lbs each.

Both CSAs provide the grains in whole grain form, but offer the use of mills at the farm if you don't have your own. Check them out!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Southwestern Corn Chowder

Corn chowder is divine in the summer an early fall when the corn is perfectly fresh and sweet. But if you took some of that perfect corn and froze it, you can enjoy very good chowder in the off season as well. Here it's combined with red bell pepper (also frozen), a bit of sharp cheddar and some mild Southwestern spices.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 1/2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cubed
Water and/or stock (chicken or veggie)
1 red bell pepper, diced (frozen is fine)
3 cups corn kernels (frozen is fine)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 - 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and saute for 3 minutes or so. Add the potatoes and enough water or stock to cover them. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the potatoes are tender, 15 minutes or so.

Add the pepper, corn, salt and pepper, cumin, and chili powder and continue to simmer until the veggies are cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Remove the chowder from the heat and stir in the milk, then slowly stir in the cheese so that it melts as you add it. Option: use a potato masher to mash the potatoes and corn a little bit to thicken the texture of the chowder. Serve hot.

Serves 4-6.