November 2, 2011
Fall produce offers options to many dishes.
Fall produce – butternut, acorn, pumpkin and other winter squashes. Kale, brussel sprouts and other greens. Apples, pears and cranberries.
Need new ideas for cooking these wonderful old crops? Read on…
Apples and butternut squash cooked together make a delicious soup, with thyme, sage, or warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. A little blue cheese adds a unique flavor. Roasted squashes are sweet on their own, or pureed into a dip with garam masala and a little tahini. Add cubed roasted squash to a lasagna with a bechamel sauce and asiago cheese for a fall inspired dish.
Acorn squash is great baked with maple syrup, or stuffed with quinoa, feta, sunflower seeds and cranberries. Apples, sausage, currants and cornbread make a hearty filling too. Steam squash halves over boiling water or microwave whole (pierce well to avoid exploding gourds) for a tender option to baking. Cube squashes into your favorite stew recipes for color and antioxidants.
Spaghetti squash is a low carb alternative to pasta, and roasted pumpkin seeds are just a tasty benefit of the orange globe. Pumpkins are edible in savory or sweet recipes, adding vitamin A to your dishes. Think cake, bread, stews and risotto. A hollowed out pumpkin provides a festive serving bowl – just skip the Jack-o-Lantern cutouts.
Kale, collards and other greens can be bitter, pairing nicely with sweet raisins, apricots or roasted garlic. A touch of balsamic adds extra depth and a little tang. Add greens to soups, stews and even baked pasta dishes for an extra kick of calcium. If the bitter flavor turns you off, drop your greens in a boiling water bath for 1-2 mins, drain and saute to cut down the bitterness.
Apples or pears and cranberries are a natural pairing for applesauce, pie fillings, chutneys or strudels. Pears and pork are wonderful, cooked slowly with honey, broth and herbes de Provence. If you prefer, use thyme, cream and shallots.
Braise chicken or pork in apple cider or use to poach salmon. It is wonderful for basting your turkey, adding a sweet flavor to your Thanksgiving gravy.
Heat cider with cinnamon sticks, cloves and orange peel for a warming drink and homey room freshener.
Poach pears in simple syrup infused with lemon, orange or vanilla beans. Use red wine for a more dramatic presentation, adding orange peel, sugar, cinnamon stick and cardamom for more flavor. Bake apples filled with nuts and honey, orange zest, or an oatmeal raisin and brown sugar filling.
Sliced apple with a little peanut or almond butter is a quick energy snack, or chop an apple into cottage cheese with cinnamon and raisins for a great breakfast. Slice pears in a salad with blue cheese and pecans. Dip pear slices in chocolate for a decadent dessert or add moisture to a favorite spice cake recipe with chopped apples or pears.
Enjoy fall produce, eat local, and be creative! Good eating and happy holidays.
September 12, 2011
This Friday, I headed to the farm to see what goodies were being offered…I knew there’d be tomatoes. Heirlooms, plum, yellow, orange, and green…12 tomatoes in all. A few peppers, jalapenos (scored 2 more from the extra bin!). Corn that is questionable, per the sign reading “Your lucky day – free worm with every ear” and an eggplant. Edamame was available to pick your own. A small bunch of beets rounded out the basket.
So many tomatoes were headed to a roasted tomato sauce – lot’s of onion, garlic and fresh herbs – I used basil, some thyme and rosemary from my herb garden. Olive oil and a long roast in a 450F oven.
TVP meatballs and some pasta made great use of this delicious sauce. A classic, turned vegetarian and filling!
Eggplant, what to do with you. My southwestern cookbook offered a roasted eggplant and tomato soup that sounded divine. A little cayenne for heat, bell peppers, onions, more tomatoes and roasted eggplant slices pureed into smooth goodness. It was creamy, without milk, mild, yet full of flavor. A keeper for sure.
The corn is going into a corn pudding to accompany the fish we shall pick up Tuesday. Think very soft cornbread, served with a spoon….the edamame made me break into my grain drawer, and I came up with Triticale – a cross between wheat and barley, full of protein and good carbs. Mixed with the edamame, balsamic, shallot, olive oil, and feta – a delicious side for lunchtime. Nutty, earthy and tangy with the vinegar.
Beets – I sadly did not finish the roasted beets with orange and sour cream from last week – just too many good choices in the fridge, and not enough meals to finish eating them – so no roasted beets this week. I decided to treat our house to a peach and beet crumble. Now this is an experiment in getting my husband to eat beets (he is NOT a fan). We had picked up some utility peaches (not pretty, but still tasty) from Ward’s Berry Farm and I decided the red beet color would be wonderful in the peaches, with an oatmeal crumble.
Warm spices of mace, ginger, and cinnamon blended with shredded beets, sliced peaches, brown sugar and a little tapioca resulted in a wonderful cobbler. It had a slight beet flavor – sort of a “Hmmm what’s that taste”, but the sweetness of the peaches and crumble quickly took center stage. Unfortunately, my husband figured it out – are there beets in here? he asked puzzled. I can’t lie…..
The peppers, jalapenos, carrots, canned tomatoes, tomatillos, and spices mixed with black eyed peas for a very spicy and colorful chili. Did I mention my husband is a HUGE fan of chili? SO every week, he gets a different variety of chili…at least for a while. Good way to use up and enjoy the veggies, and the heat was hot enough to suit even his palate.
Another good week of eating, fresh from the farm. I hear there is cauliflower and broccoli coming soon….how do you prepare those? Bon appetit!
September 2, 2011
What a harvest it was this week! Tomatoes – heirlooms, cherry, plum and beefsteaks. Corn, zucchini, beets, carrots, mizuna, eggplant, cukes, peppers and a jalapeno. Beautiful “bouquet” of colors and flavors!
Where to start…..well the tomatoes looked fabulous and were perfect for a tomato tart with a cornmeal crust. Onions, cheeses,scallions line the middle of a cornmeal crust, topped with sliced heirlooms and baked. How pretty, delicious and a perfect lunch treat – think super fancy pizza!
The eggplant was sauteed with chickpeas, peanut butter and red onion and garam masala for a wonderful vegetarian dish with tons of flavor. Oh, yes, I am starting a pescatarian (fish eating vegetarian) diet to feel healthier, perhaps lose a few pounds and experiment for my clients, building a vast resource of tried vegan/vegetarian recipes. This stew was a keeper!
Corn is always best as is – we chose to grill it naked, producing a wonderfully nutty, condensed texture and flavor from the corn – almost popcorny, but still juicy. Our new favorite way to have corn on the cob!
A mizuna salad with dried cranberries, toasted pecans and a pomegranate vinaigrette was delightful, sweet, bitter, and a unique addition to dinner.
Sunday, Irene struck knocking power out by 10:30AM. Luckily, some of the tomatoes ended up roasted and pureed with champagne vinegar, bread crumbs and garlic for a roasted gazpacho – my new favorite recipe for this cold summer soup. Topped with cukes and pepper, perfect for power outages!
So now the grill is our main cooking tool. Fish delivery on Tuesday offered 2 pounds of dabs. Couldn’t freeze it (still no power) so a pan was placed on the grill, oil heated and a cornmeal crusted dab swam in the hot oil. Grilled zucchini, carrots (wonderful roasted on the grill) corn on the cob and gazpacho finished this meal.
Zucchini was shredded by hand and sauteed with garlic, the jalapeno and scallions. Topped with pepper jack cheese, a delightful take on hash, for which this brunch recipe had eggs poached on top of this mixture, but no eggs in the house this week. Besides, this was dinner…
Leftovers sufficed until Thursday when the power returned, and the cherry tomatoes were roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper for use in a tossed pasta. (not creative, I know, but so much to catch up on this week). Beets were roasted with a little herbs de provence and olive oil, dressed with a sour cream orange dressing and topped with toasted walnuts. Dinner party worthy, with fresh flavors from the dressing, earthy dark flavors from the roasted beets, and a slight floral note from the lavender in the herbs. Simple, elegant and so healthy! A vegetarian chili will finish up the remaining pepper, the black beans and tofu I bought for another dish, and lot’s of spices.
Can’t wait to see what we get tonight!Happy Labor Day to all….and good eating!
July 19, 2011
I did not fall off the turnip truck last week – we were in Philadelphia visiting my mom and jail. Seriously – the Eastern State Penitentiary – very interesting museum. But I want to share that in doing so, we did not get our beloved produce. This week, we were treated to wax beans, beets, carrots, basil, spring onions, potatoes, mini cucumbers (look like gherkins to be) small leafed kale, and several zucchini and yellow squash.
Meal one – we had grilled onions with pink peppercorns next to our pasta tossed with white beans, sage pesto (homemade with fresh sage, orange zest and juice, hazelnut and olive oils, walnuts) and kale. Very Tuscany meets Paris. I forgot how much I love the sweet, delicate peppery flavor of pink peppercorns. Worth a try on leeks, onions of braised fennel, or any white fish if you never had them. It had been a long day of yard work, so I apologize for not taking any photos. (i.e. starved and woofed down this meal before I had a chance to stop and think)
Meal Two – potato salad with peas, yogurt, buttermilk and herbs. I did not have parsley, but opted to use the top of the carrots as a green splash. They actually have a little carrot flavor, and I now know I need to revisit this to use elsewhere. Grilled chicken and sliced tomatoes round out this hot evening dinner on the patio.
Meal Three The delicate little carrots were cooked, then sprinkled with fennel thyme salt (Didi Davis) and served next to leftover chicken from last night and corn on the cob. How seet and tender theys were and delicious with the thyme salt.
Meal four This morning started the beets that will go into Ina Garten’s summer borscht, made with sour cream, yogurt, dill and chicken stock – perfect for the heat that’s coming our way. I picked up our fish (cod today) we get from Cape Ann fish shares and baked the fish with lemon juice, pink salt and a little comet tail pepper, which gave the fish a nice coriander peppery sweetness. I improvised a salad I saw in Food and Wine to use the wax beans, mixing them with tomatoes, chick peas and sliced red pepper tossed with a fresh tarragon mint vinaigrette made with lemon juice, shallot, dijon, mild olive oil and champagne vinegar. Heavenly! A side of lemon thyme biscuits fit perfectly.
Last meal, grilled zucchini with grated cheese may be in order, next to grilled chicken sausage and poblanos. And perhaps another biscuit! Stay cool, enjoy a salad and grilled veggies to help beat the heat, and be sure to drink plenty of fluids….the adult root beer float in this month’s Food Network magazine is perfect for dessert…..