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.