Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Noodles with Spinach Peanut Sauce

This is a great dish for hot weather. I have made peanut noodles before, but I wanted to try the idea of getting some vegetables worked right into the sauce, and this worked really well. Plus my kids loved it. You can dress it up by adding tofu, meat, and raw vegetables if you like - later in the summer I'll be adding snap peas, carrots, and eventually red peppers.

1/2 lb spinach, stemmed and washed
2 stalks green garlic (or substitute scapes or garlic cloves)
2-3 Tbsp ginger root, coarsely chopped or grated
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup canola or peanut oil
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 Tbsp honey or brown sugar
Salt to taste
1 lb linguine or other noodles

Lightly steam the spinach, then immerse it in a bowl of cold water to cool it off.

Combine the spinach with the green garlic, soy sauce, oil, vinegar, peanut butter, and honey or brown sugar in the blender and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Set aside (chill if you like).

Cook the noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water. Drain when done, then rinse with cold water until thoroughly cooled. Drain again.

Combine the noodles with the sauce in a large bowl. Serve cold or room temperature.

Serves 4-6.

Chimichurri Sauce

This is a classic Argentine sauce, often served with steak - but it's great with grilled ham or chicken, too. And it was very satisfying to make with parsley and oregano from my garden. Later in the season, substitute scapes and eventually garlic cloves for the green garlic. You can mix it up a little with the recipe, too - parsley is a must, but you can try thyme instead of oregano, white wine vinegar or lemon juice instead of the red vinegar, etc.

1/4 cup oregano leaves, loosely packed
1 1/2 cups parsley leaves, loosely packed
2 stalks green garlic (including greens), coarsely chopped
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
Red pepper flakes to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in the blender and blend until fairly smooth. Serve immediately, or keep for several days in the refrigerator.

Makes a little over 1 cup, enough to provide plentiful sauce for meat serving 6-8.

Locavore Tacos

These have been a big hit with my family. I like that you can prepare all the fillings in advance and then just heat and serve at dinner time. I used beef from Freeman Farm, Sidehill Farm sour cream, local cheddar, locally grown and made tortillas from Mi Tierra, and greens and cilantro from my garden. As the season moves along, you can add local tomatoes, onions, and whatever else you like. Mix it up with different kinds of meat or beans. This is a great way to use up leftovers, too - meat, veggies, whatever.

I've been heating the tortillas on the grill several at a time, which is a big improvement over the skillet method.

12 corn tortillas (taco size)
1 lb ground beef
2 cups cooked black or pinto peans
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder (or to taste)
Salt and pepper
Chopped fresh onions or scallions
Sour cream
Shredded cheddar or jack cheese
Lettuce or other greens
Salsa or hot sauce

Brown the beef in a medium skillet, adding cumin, chili powder, and salt and pepper. When it's done, scoop out the meat and add the beans. Sprinkle with a touch more cumin, chili powder, and salt and pepper. If not serving immediately, refrigerate meat and beans.

When you're ready to serve, heat the tortillas just enough to make them pliable and aromatic. Pass fillings and toppings at the table, load up the tortillas, and enjoy!

Serves about 4.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Spinach and Edam Quiche

It's springtime (even if the weather thinks it might be summer), and that means greens and eggs are plentiful. If you like, you could substitute shredded or sliced asparagus for the spinach in this recipe - just steam it lightly first. And if Edam doesn't suit you, swap in goat cheese or Swiss instead. I used Chase Hill Farm's Dutch Gold cheese, which is much like an Edam.

5 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups cream or milk (or a combination)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 lb spinach, washed and stemmed
1 9-inch unbaked pastry shell, prepared in the pan
Olive oil
2 ounces Edam, sliced or shredded

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Combine the eggs and cream or milk in a medium bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Lightly steam the spinach (I do this in a covered bowl for 1 minute in the microwave). Pour of excess liquid and chop finely.

Lightly oil the bottom of the pastry shell. Spread the cheese over the the bottom, then the spinach. Pour the egg mixture over the cheese and spinach. Swirl around gently to mix the ingredients.

Carefully transfer the quiche to the oven. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until cooked through. Serve hot, warm, or room temperature.

Serves about 4.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Steak and Bean Soup with Ramps

A good way to use leftover steak. You could also make it with just the beans and ramps for a simpler version. I used dried Marfax beans grown by Crabapple Farm. The cooked remarkably quickly and are one of the creamiest textured beans I've ever had. Delicious. If you don't have heirloom beans handy, I suggest navy beans here.

1 cup dried beans, preferably local
6 cups beef stock
2 garlic cloves
Up to 1 lb leftover steak, sliced very thin then chopped up
1 bunch ramps (about 3 ounces), sliced thin from bulb to leaf
1 Tbsp butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the beans with the beef stock and garlic cloves. I did them in the slow cooker (which only took about 3 hours for the Marfax beans). You could also do this in the pressure cooker or stovetop. When they are done, remove the garlic cloves.

Melt the butter in a medium skillet. Quickly saute the sliced ramp bulbs and stems, then add the steak and saute just enough to warm it. Add the sliced ramp leaves and saute just long enough to wilt them.

Add the beef and ramp mixture to the beans and stock. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Grilled Ramps with Pesto

These were SO GOOD! I will definitely be making them again, and I am eager to try them with romesco sauce sometime as well. If you don't have pesto on hand in the freezer, eat the grilled ramps straight or try adding a bit of balsamic vinegar to the seasonings.

2 bunches of ramps (about 6 ounces total)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup pesto

Wash the ramps and trim off the end with the roots. Spread them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, then use your fingers to gently distribute the oil so they are fully coated all over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Carefully place the ramps on the grill over medium heat (place them cross-wise to the grate). Grill for one minute, then turn over and grill for another 30 seconds or so. Remove from heat.

Serve the ramps hot, with pesto for drizzling at the table.

Serves 2-4.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Streusel Top

I still have a few packages of strawberries in the freezer from last year. I figure we'll use them up just about in time to start picking fresh ones next month. Meanwhile, they go great with the rhubarb that is ready for harvest in my garden now. If you don't have strawberries, you can make a straight rhubarb pie that is also delicious - just be sure to add more sugar unless you like a rather tart pie. Either way, this is excellent with good quality vanilla ice cream.

If you are using frozen fruit, let it thaw entirely and then drain off the excess liquid if you want to avoid having an extremely juicy pie; you may wish to add another cup or so of fruit if you are doing this as it will be denser in volume.

1 9-inch pie shell
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup all purpose or white whole wheat flour
Dash of cinnamon
7 cups combined strawberries and rhubarb cut into 1-inch chunks
3/4 cup white sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
Dash of salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Shape the crust in a pie pan and prick all over with a fork, then stash it in the freezer while you prepare the topping and filling.

Using a pastry cutter or food processor, cut the butter, sugar, flour, and cinnamon together until well combined and crumbly. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the fruit, sugar, cornstarch and salt and stir until well combined.

Take the pie shell out of the freezer. Place the fruit mixture into it, evening it out, and then top with the streusel topping.

Bake for 45-60 minutes, until the crust is nicely brown and the pie is thoroughly bubbly. Let cool before serving.

Makes one 9-inch pie in a relatively deep dish.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Parsnip Fritters with Yogurt Sauce

Kind of like potato pancakes, only with parsnips. Use spring dug parsnips, and they'll be extra sweet when you fry them up. If you like, make them in a larger size and call them pancakes. Good as a side dish with dinner or brunch.

3 lbs parsnips, peeled, cored, and shredded
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tsp dried sage
2 Tbsp dried parsley (or 1/4 cup fresh)
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/3 cup all purpose flour or white whole wheat flour
3 eggs, beaten
Canola oil for frying
1 cup plain yogurt

Combine the shredded parsnips, onion, sage, parsley, salt, pepper, and flour in a bowl and mix until evenly coated. Pour the egg over the parsnip mixture and stir again until evenly coated.

Heat a little canola oil in a large skillet or two over medium heat. Place spoonfuls of the parsnip mix (1/4 cup or so) into the skillet(s), leaving a bit of space between. Press down with a spatula to flatten them. Cook for 3-4 minutes a side over medium heat. Keep warm in a low oven or covered plate while you cook the rest.

Add a large pinch of salt to the yogurt and whisk until smooth and thinned.

Serve the fritters hot and pass yogurt sauce at the table to drizzle over them.

Serves 5-6.

Pizza with Ramps and Feta

A simple pizza that celebrates fresh ramps.

1 14-inch pizza crust
Olive oil
3 ounces shredded mozzarella
1 bunch ramps (about 3 ounces)
2-3 ounces crumbled feta

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Lightly paint the crust with olive oil, then sprinkle with mozzarella.

Clean the ramps and slice off the very bottom part with the roots. Slice up the rest of the ramps, from the bulb to the leaves, in about 1/8-inch slices.

Spread the sliced ramps over the mozzarella. They will cover it generously. Scatter the feta over the ramps.

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

Serves about 3.