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.