Thursday, March 26, 2015

Parmesan Celeriac Hash

If you have a food processor with a grating attachment, this is quick to prepare. It works well for a quick weeknight dinner when served with fried eggs and maybe toast and/or bacon. Or of course, make it to go with brunch. Optionally, you could add chopped cooked bacon to the hash, and/or cook the hash in bacon fat instead of olive oil.

Olive oil
2 medium celeriac roots, peeled and shredded
1 medium onion, shredded or finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the shredded celeriac and onion. Cook, stirring periodically, over medium-high heat until the celeriac is tender and has browned pleasantly in places. Stir in the salt and pepper and thyme. Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan. Serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Whole Wheat Drop Biscuits

Made with local wheat, these are quick and flavorful and not too heavy. One of my go-to recipes to serve with soup or stew.

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, white whole wheat flour, or combination
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp powdered buttermilk (optional but nice)
2-3 Tbsp salted butter
1 scant cup milk

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and buttermilk (if using) in a medium bowl. Add the butter in small chunks and cut it in finely using a pastry cutter or two knives (or pulse briefly in a food processor). Add the milk and stir until combined. The dough will be sticky.

Drop spoonfuls of dough onto a baking sheet (I like to use a baking stone, but a regular baking sheet is fine). Bake for 10-13 minutes, until biscuits begin to brown. Serve warm.

Makes 12 medium sized biscuits.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Thai Peanut Curry with Pork and Vegetables

With coconut milk and peanut butter in the sauce, this is rich, savory, and very satisfying. You can make it entirely with seasonal root vegetables or, if you have peppers in the freezer, use some of those as well (as I did). If you can, pick up a little fresh cilantro at the farmers market today to go on top. Serve this over rice or tossed with noodles.

1 lb ground pork
2 medium onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp minced ginger root
1 large ripe bell pepper, diced (or 1 cup diced carrots or other root veg)
2 cups peeled and cubed sweet potato
1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk (lite is ok)
1-2 tsp Thai red curry paste, or to taste
1/3 - 1/2 cup natural peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
2 tsp lime juice, or to taste
1-2 tsp rice vinegar
1-2 tsp Thai fish sauce (optional)
Salt to taste

Brown the pork in a Dutch oven or similar deep pan. Add onions, garlic, and ginger and cook with the pork for 2-3 minutes. Add vegetables and stir well. Add coconut milk and curry paste and stir well. Cover and cook over low-medium heat until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in the peanut butter, lime juice, rice vinegar, and fish sauce (if using). Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. With the peanut butter stirred in, the sauce will be fairly thick.

Serve hot over rice or toss with noodles.

Serves 4-6.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Blue Cheese, and Dried Tomatoes

Here's something else to do with some of those caramelized onions, combined here with local blue cheese (I used Quabbin Blue from Chase Hill Farm) and tomatoes that I dried last summer. The result is layers of flavor that bring out added depth in each other. Sweeter varieties of home-dried tomatoes worked very well here.

1 14-inch pizza crust
Olive oil
2-3 ounces shredded mozzarella
1 cup caramelized onions
3 ounces blue cheese, crumbled or diced
1/4 cup rehydrated dried tomatoes, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

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

Sprinkle the mozzarella over the pizza crust, then add the onions, distributing them across the pizza. Add the blue cheese and dried tomatoes, then give it a light sprinkling of salt and pepper.

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

Serves 3-4.

Pizza with Corn, Dried Tomatoes, and Pesto

If you don't freeze anything else in the summer, it's worth putting away some local sweet corn. Slice it off the cob, blanch, cool, and freeze in ziploc bags...then bring it out when you want a taste of summer sweetness. It's a world away from the frozen corn you can buy at the store. Of course, while you're at it, you might as well freeze some pesto too...

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
2-3 ounces shredded mozzarella
3/4 cup corn kernels (thawed if frozen)
1/4 cup rehydrated dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup pesto

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

Spread the mozzarella over the pizza crust, then distribute the corn and tomatoes over the cheese. Dot with blobs of pesto.

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

Serves 3-4.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Quiche with Caramelized Onions and Feta

One of many possible applications for caramelized onions (which you can make in bulk on the stovetop or in the slow cooker). This quiche is rich and creamy, with a wonderful depth of flavor from the onions.

1 pastry shell for a 9-inch pie (deep dish)
Canola oil
4 large or extra large eggs
1 1/2 cups cream, milk, or combination (whole milk recommended if using milk)
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 ounces crumbled feta
1 cup caramelized onions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare the pastry shell in a pie dish and prick it with a fork. Spray or brush lightly with canola oil.

Beat the eggs in a medium bowl, then stir in the cream (and/or milk), salt, and pepper until well mixed.

Spread feta and onions into the bottom of the pastry shell, then pour the egg mixture over them. Transfer the pie dish carefully to the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes, until the custard is set (it should still be quite soft, but not runny).

Remove quiche oven and let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.

Serves about 4.

Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions

The humble onion is a great locavore winter staple, usually available in plentiful quantity. Transformed by caramelization, they add a rich, intense shot of flavor to whatever recipe you use them in. They'll keep for at least a week in the fridge, and they freeze well, so it's worth making a big batch once in while.

I love caramelized onions, but until now have made them only infrequently because of the time required to be spent standing in front of the stove to do the job properly. It seemed worth trying in the slow cooker, and I have to tell you, this is brilliant. You can make a whole big batch this way with minimal time spend having to tend them. That said, this is best done on a day when you'll be at home and can check in on the onions and stir them once in a while. Because slow cookers vary in shape and power, you'll need to see your particular one does here. My own is a large oval one, fairly new and pretty hot on the High setting.

Step 1: Fill your slow cooker with thinly sliced onions. Drizzle generously with olive oil and stir until the onions are all well coated.

The exact amount with vary with the size of your cooker. You don't have to make a full sized batch if you don't want to.

Step 2: Cook the onions on High, stirring once in a while. There will be a tendency for a few of the slices right at the edge to get brown and crispy and stick to the sides, so you'll want to stir them around periodically. This also gives you a chance to check on their progress. If your cooker runs especially hot on the High setting, you may want to switch it to Low after a few hours, or go back and forth. After 4 hours or so, my onions looked like this:

Continue cooking the onions, periodically stirring and scraping away from the edges. As they cooked down, I just pressed them inward a tiny bit from the sides of the cooker, which helped preventing sticking.

Step 3: Toward the end of cooking, 7-8 hours in or so, you'll see there's a lot of liquid in the cooker. To really properly caramelize, you need this to mostly evaporate. Leave the cooker on High, but crack open the lid. At this point my onions looked like this:

Step 4: Take the lid off entirely and continue to cook the onions on High, checking in periodically. You can use your judgment on when exactly to do this, but make sure it's a time when you will be able to watch them a little more more closely - checking in every 20-30 minutes instead of every few hours. When the onions are a nice rich shade of brown and the liquid is mostly gone, they're ready:

You can use them straight away, or put them away in the fridge or freezer. 

Alternatively, you could leave them right in the cooker and add beef broth, white wine, salt and pepper to make the soup part of French Onion Soup. (Serve with a good quality peasant bread, toasted, and topped with melted cheese. Gruyere is traditional, but cheddar isn't bad.)