Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Carrot Ginger Soup

It took me forever to come up with a carrot soup recipe that suited my tastes - the surprising addition of salsa is what finally did it for me.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup yellow onion, coarsely chopped (from Schaner Farm)
2½ teaspoon ginger, fresh, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced (from Schaner Farm)
2 cups carrots, chopped (from J.R. Organics Farm or Suzie's Farm)
¼ cup salsa
3 cups vegetable stock
sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Sauté the onion in the oil in a pan on medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger; cook another 2 minutes. Add carrots and salsa; cook for 1 minute. Add broth, bring to a boil, and simmer covered until carrots are soft, about 20 minutes. Puree and season to taste.

Garnish with crema, sour cream, cilantro, onions sprouts or microgreens

Serves 4-6

Monday, November 28, 2011

Yuletide Wassail or Hot Mulled Cider

So, hot cider is not what wassail was originally, but it's the version we know today.  My mom made it every winter for every holiday event we ever attended, when caroling, or whenever she wanted to evoke a holiday mood.  It was her thing.  Here's my version of her recipe:

1 whole cardamom pod
½ teaspoon whole cloves
1 stick mexican cinnamon
4 thin slices fresh ginger
juice of an orange (or 2) off one of the many local trees heavy with fruit
1 quart fresh apple cider or juice (Smit Orchards is the best I've found)

Lightly crush whole spices.  Gently simmer all ingredients for about 20 minutes (longer for a spicier cider) in a pot on the stove or a crockpot.   Serve piping hot and while a-wassailing!

Makes about 4½ cups

Variations
Use other citrus instead of an orange
Add cherry or pear juice
And other spices, such as star anise

Apple Praline Pie

Okay, so the tarte tatin didn't quite work out how I wanted it to this year;  I've still got a single pie crust I made; I picked up some more Granny Smith and Fuji apples yesterday morning from Smit Orchards at the Hillcrest farmers market; I love apple crisp more than pie; so here's what I'm gonna do:

Roll out & form my a pie crust

10 apples, peeled, cored
1&1/2 tablespoons rapadura sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
juice from 1/2 a lemon

Cut apples in half and sliced about ¼" thick. Toss with sugar, cinnamon & lemon juice. Mound in the unbaked pie crust.

Topping
2/3 cup rapadura sugar
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup flour
½ cup rolled oats
½ cup pecans, chopped
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Mix topping ingredients together until crumbly and cover the top of the pie.

Place pie on a baking sheet and bake at 375º until golden and bubbly, about 60 minutes.

Serve with the leftover maple whipped Spring Hill sour cream.

Variations
Use other fruit seasonally: pears, berries, stone fruit...

Pie Crust

This is not my favorite task...

Pie Crust (based on Martha's Pate Brisee)
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon evaporated cane sugar
4 oz butter (from Spring Hill), cold, cut into 1/2" cubes
2-3 tablespoons ice water

In a bowl, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add the butter and using your fingers, quickly mix the dough, smashing the butter into smaller and smaller pieces with your finger tips until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  You still want to be able to see little pieces of butter and you don't want the heat of your fingers to melt the butter so don't over do it.  (Alternatively, you can process for a few seconds in the food processor but I like to use my hands.)

Add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time and combine just enough so the dough holds together without being wet or sticky.  If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 teaspoon at a time.  Form a ball, wrap in plastic and flatten into a disc. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month. To make a pie shell, allow to come to room temp, then roll out about 1/8" thick and big enough to line your pie plate.  Line your pie plate to form your crust, cutting or crimping the top edge (any extra dough scraps can be topped with cinnamon and sugar and baked on a baking sheet for a little sweet treat) .  If pre-baking, poke bottom with a fork a few times or put foil and a handful of dried beans over the bottom of the pie crust when baking.

This is enough for a single pie shell.  Double this recipe if you want crust on top of the pie as well.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Make Your Own Mayo

Be not afraid - this is very easy.  The only problem is it makes about a cup and it only lasts a day or two.  So make it when you know it will be consumed (like for potato salad or lots of people having sandwiches).  If you want to make less you could look for smaller eggs and decrease the rest of the ingredients; sometimes the Schaners have little guinea fowl eggs.  Or if you want to make a big batch, sometimes they have larger turkey eggs.

You are using a raw egg - again, be not afraid. Do you know where your local eggs come from?  Do you keep them in the refrigerator once you get them home? Do you use them up and get fresh ones often? Are you immunocompromised? (yes, yes, yes, no) Good, then you have nothing to fear.

Mayonnaise
1 egg from your backyard or favorite farmer
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice from a local tree heavy with fruit
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 cup oil (more or less, depending on the size of the egg)
½ teaspoon sea salt
pinch cayenne pepper

In a food processor or blender, combine the egg, lemon juice and Dijon mustard. Process on high speed for 15 seconds. With the motor running, pour the oil in a slow, steady stream and process until emulsified. Watch while you're adding the oil: once it's real thick, (it will be harder to incorporate more oil and you don't want to over blend) and the oil just starts to pool on top, STOP.  Add the salt and cayenne, and pulse briefly to blend.

Makes a bit more than a cup will keep for about 24 hours.

I never liked mayo until I made it myself.  This is sooo much better than the shelf-stable stuff.

Variations
Try making with olive oil or half olive oil
Use different types of mustard
Use lime instead of lemon
Stir in chopped fresh herbs
Stir in other spices (black pepper, saffron...)
Make Aoli (garlic mayo): add 2-3 cloves of garlic to the blender first; blend well and then proceed with the rest of the recipe.

Kitchen Tip: How to Crack an Egg
Crack the egg gently (not too soft, not too hard) on a flat surface (e.g. your counter top), not the lip of your bowl.  This way, the egg shells don't go into the egg white and you shouldn't get any shell in your recipe.  Crack eggs one at a time into a separate small bowl before adding them to your recipe.  Then, if you do happen to break little pieces of shell into your egg, they are easily removed.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Breakfast this morning:
poached Schaner eggs with hiwa kai salt from Salt Farm & freshly ground pepper
homemade rolls with Spring Hill butter & local honey

Lunch today:
delicious sandwich of homemade mayo, arugula persimmon salad, cranberry compote & stuffing on multigrain sprouted bread (might sound strange but it was awesome)
Smit Orchard's apple cider with Schaner pomegranate seeds

Dinner:
straight-up leftovers - stuffing, smashed potatoes, broccoli, cheese sauce, mushroom gravy, twice (well, now thrice) baked sweet potatoes followed by pie

Sauce Bechamel (White Sauce), Mornay (Cheese Sauce) & Soubise (Onion Sauce)

Sauce bechamel is a very basic French white sauce that works well as a "mother" recipe for lots of different things and variations: in gratins, lasagnas, and other casseroles, over steamed veggies, mashed potatoes or Yorkshire Pudding.  This is based on the very standard Joy of Cooking recipe.

1&1/4 cups milk
1/4 onion
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
sea salt
freshly ground white or black pepper

In a small saucepan, heat the milk, onion & bay leaf on low heat, uncovered for 15 minutes.  Remove and compost the onion & bay leaf and set milk aside.

In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter on medium low heat, add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes until golden brown.  Slowing whisk in the warm milk until well incorporated (no lumps).  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Continue stirring until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.

Makes about 1&1/2 cups

Variations
After it thickens:
  • stir in 1/4 cup grated cheese blend from Taste or smoked cheddar from Spring Hill
  • add a tablespoon fresh minced herbs (chives, parsley...)
As the first step, saute an onion or a couple shallots (sliced very thin, sauteed until soft); then proceed with the recipe as written.

    Wednesday, November 23, 2011

    Pumpkin Praline Pie with a Ginger Cookie Crust

    I'm still searching for the perfect pumpkin pie recipe.  Last year, I used the recipe from Chez Panisse Desserts, which was quite good but not perfect.  Here's my attempt this year (very unconventional and a bit more complex):

    Crust
    about 9 ginger molasses crisps
    5 tablespoons butter
    2 tablespoons rapadura sugar

    Grind the cookies in a food processor to a fine crumb and measure 1&1/2 cups.  Melt the butter and stir in the crumbs and sugar.  Press firmly in the bottom and up the sides of a pie plate.

    Filling
    2-3 small pie pumpkins
    1/2 cup rapadura sugar
    2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1 teaspoon ground ginger
    a pinch of ground nutmeg
    1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    1 cup heavy cream
    seeds from 1/2 a vanilla bean
    3 eggs, beaten

    Cut pumpkins in half, deseed, and bake, cut side down, for minutes at 400, until soft when pierced. When cool enough to handle, scoop out flesh and add 2 cups to a food processor.  Puree with rapadura, spices and salt.  In a small pot, cook puree at low heat to evaporate off some moisture, stirring in the cream.  Remove from heat, allow to cool a bit and whisk in the vanilla and eggs quickly.

    Pour the hot filling into the crust and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, or until the top of the pie just starts to crack.

    Topping
    1 cup pecans, chopped fine
    1/2 cup rapadura sugar
    pinch sea salt
    2 teaspoons maple syrup
    1 teaspoon vanilla

    While the pie is baking, mix together the topping ingredients (except for the evaporated can sugar). When the pie just starts to crack, top with the topping mixture, sprinkle the evaporated cane sugar over the top, and bake for another 10 minutes.

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    Peter Schaner's Autumn Salad

    I wasn't planning on a salad but that's one for the wonderful things about seasonal, local cooking.  My spouse's mom is bringing arugula from her garden and one of my very favorite farmers, Peter Schaner, said "Here, use these in your thanksgiving salad" as he handed me a couple of persimmons, a pomegranate, and a lime.  And I'm quite happy to oblige!
     
    homegrown arugula or your favorite greens
    persimmon, cut in half and sliced thin
    pomegranate seeds
    vinaigrette of lime juice, olive oil, sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

    When I make a vinaigrette, I usually make it one part vinegar or citrus juice and 2-3 parts oil.

    Kitchen Tip
    One trick to getting the seeds out of the pomegranate is to score the outside with a knife and peel it apart underwater and loosen the seeds in a bowl of water.  The seeds sink and the skin and pith float.

    I love salad but I find at any event, most folks don't eat salad, so make way less than you think you'll need.

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    Winter Squash Lasagna

    I had a lot of Suzie's Farm squash around and picked up some lovely ricotta from Taste Cheese for tonight's dinner inspiration...

    3 small-medium-sized winter squash (butternut, kabocha, honeybear acorn, delicata...)
    olive oil
    1 small onion, sliced
    1/2 bulb garlic cloves, peeled
    1 egg
    2 cup ricotta
    2 tablespoons fresh parsley, destemmed, minced
    1 teaspoon fresh thyme, destemmed, minced
    1 tablespoon fresh sage, destemmed, minced
    1 package lasagna noodles
    1 cup white wine or broth
    1/2 pound mozzarella, grated
    Parmesan, grated, optional

    Cut squash in half and scrape out the seeds. Slice half the squash (varieties with edible skin: kabocha, delicata) in 1/2" slices.  Lightly oil all the squash and roast in oven at 400 until halves and soft and slices are caramelized.  Add the garlic and onion to the sliced squash and remove when cooked.  Set the sliced squash, garlic and onion aside.  When the halved squash is cool enough to handle, scrape out flesh and puree until smooth in a food processor with wine or broth; salt and pepper to taste.

    In a separate bowl, beat egg and stir in ricotta, herbs, salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.

    Boil noodles in salted water until a little soft but still undercooked, about 4 minutes.

    In a 13x9" baking pan, coat bottom in a light layer of squash puree, then a layer of noodles, a light layer of ricotta mix, then a layer of roasted squash, garlic and onion.  Repeat until pan is full, ending with a layer of noodles. Top with mozzarella and Parmesan and bake at 350 until golden and bubbly, about 40 minutes.

    Serve on a bed of arugula and drizzle with a balsamic reduction.

    Serves 8-12

    Variations
    Add sauteed mushrooms in with the roasted veggies.

    Sunday, November 20, 2011

    Ginger Molasses Crisps (aka iron cookies)

    3/4 cup butter
    1 cup rapadura sugar
    1 egg
    1/3 cup molasses
    2 cups flour
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    2 teaspoons baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/4 cup minced candied ginger, optional
    big-crystaled sugar for rolling, optional

    Cream butter, sugar, egg & molasses together.  Stir in the dry ingredients.  Stir in candied ginger if you like.  Shape into 1" balls and roll them in the sugar.  Flatten them out a bit on a greased cookie sheet and bake for about 15 minutes at 350°.

    Make about 3 dozen cookies.

    Make your own Mustard

    I've only made mustard once and I was very encouraged by the results! The recipe I started with came from a great food blog: Hunter Angler Gardener Cook.  I like a mostly whole grain, mildly hot, intensely flavored mustard.  I originally made the recipe with cold liquid (cuz I wanted to see how spicy it would be) and it turned out much too spicy for me.  Also, I thought the recipe was too dry (so dry it was difficult to spread) so here is my adjusted recipe for next time:

    3 tablespoons black or brown mustard seeds
    2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
    3 tablespoons mustard powder
    1/2 cup warm white wine, water, juice, or beer
    3 tablespoons vinegar (cider, white wine, or sherry)
    2 teaspoons salt
     
    Grind the whole mustard seeds for a few seconds in a spice or coffee grinder, or in a mortar and pestle, leaving them mostly whole.  Pour the semi-ground seeds into a bowl and add the salt and mustard powder.  Stir in the warm liquid and let sit for 10 minutes. Stir in the vinegar until well combined. Pour into a glass jar with a lid and store in the fridge. Wait at least 12 hours before using. It will last several months in the fridge.

    Makes about 1 cup.

    Variations

    With the salt & mustard powder, stir in additional flavors of you choice:
    • 2 tablespoons honey 
    • 1 large clove garlic, pressed or minced
    • 1 tablespoon minced onion or shallot 
    • 1 teaspoon minced hot chili
    • 1/4 cup minced fresh herbs (I like parsley, chive, and/or thyme) 
    • a pinch to a teaspoon of dried herbs or spices: cayenne, red pepper flakes, dill, 
    Or mix up the types of vinegar (or try lemon juice) or the type of liquid used (remember, cold liquid makes the spiciest mustard; warm for medium spice; hot liquid for mild).

    Saturday, November 19, 2011

    Pancakes Made Healthier & Tastier

    Personally, pancakes are one of my favorite breakfasts, especially for special occasions or guests. But I want them to be healthy and wholesome, not refined and processed. Fortunately, this is easy to accomplish… One simple change to a basic pancake recipe is using whole wheat pastry flour (or other whole grain flour) instead of all-purpose. Any basic “mother” recipe (traditional, vegan, wheat-free…) you might start with, you can make all sorts of variations, depending on what’s in season and what’s in your pantry that morning.

    Try one or more of these additions sprinkled into the batter:
    • spices (cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla…) 
    • citrus zest (lemon, orange, Buddha hand…) 
    • whole grains and seeds (oats, toasted wheat germ, quinoa flakes, raw hemp seeds, chia seeds…) 
    • fresh seasonal or dried fruit (sliced strawberries or bananas, dried blueberries or shredded coconut…) 
    • chocolate chips, carob chips, cocoa nibs 
    • nuts (sliced almonds or macadamia, walnut or pecan pieces…) 
    And for toppings:
    • fresh seasonal fruit or fruit compote (sautéed peaches or nectarines, apple pear compote...) 
    • spreads (nut butters or chocolate hazelnut or jams or lemon curd…) 
    • maple syrup or honey 
    • whipped cream or coconut crème 
    One of my very favorite combos is to add several healthy spoonfuls of grains and seeds to the batter and top with lemon curd and fresh blueberries. Or try pancakes for dessert: chocolate chips & vanilla in the batter, topped with sliced strawberries & whipped cream!

    Start playing with your favorite pancake recipe or try mine:

    Pancakes
    1½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
    3 tablespoons rapadura sugar
    1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
    ½ teaspoon sea salt
    2 eggs, beaten
    1 to 1 1/4 cup milk, apple juice, yogurt, buttermilk or sour milk
    3 tablespoons oil or melted butter
    1 teaspoon vanilla

    In a bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder & salt. In a measuring cup, beat the eggs; then mix in the other wet ingredients. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Stir in any additions (spices, grains, seeds, fruit...) and pour out a few tablespoons of batter on a lightly oiled or buttered hot griddle or skillet on medium-low heat. Cook for a few minutes and when you see bubbles appear and the edges look a little dry, flip the pancakes gently with a spatula. Cook a few more minutes until golden brown on each side.

    Serves 4-6.  Spare pancakes can be frozen and saved for a quick breakfast later.

    Friday, November 18, 2011

    Wild Mushroom Gravy

    This is a great addition to the holiday table for vegetarians or meat-eaters. A rich, thick gravy that is excellent on garlic smashed potatoes or Yorkshire pudding.

    1 stick butter
    ¼ pound white mushrooms, chopped
    ¼ pound crimini mushrooms, chopped
    1 ounce dried wild mushrooms
    3 large shallots, minced
    1/3 cup flour
    1 cup red wine
    ¼ cup cream
    sea salt
    freshly ground black pepper

    Rehydrate the dried mushrooms in 3 cups of hot water until soft. Reserve the liquid and chop the mushrooms.

    Melt ½ stick butter in a large sauté pan. Add mushrooms and shallot; cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until the liquid is cooked off and the mushrooms brown.

    Add and melt ½ stick butter; over low hear, stir in flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in cream, then mushroom liquid, then wine; simmer 6-8 minutes until thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Puree if you’d like it to be smooth.

    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    Thanksgiving To Do List - One Week Away

    So, here's what I've accomplished on my checklist so far:

    • I've sent the Evite (25 guests and counting...)
    • I've created a menu & food shopping list (some will be foraged, most from the farmers markets and the rest from the OB Peoples Co-op)
    • I've pickled my vegetables for apps
    • I've got beds & linen for family flying in
    • I've got all the kitchen equipment I need
    • I'm borrowing tables, chairs, silverware, plates, and glasses
    • I've bought all non-perishables & stuff from Peoples

    Here's what I'll do this weekend:

    2 days before:

    • Make gingerale, if I get ahold of my friends recipe (otherwise, I think I'll get some elderberry syrup and serve with sparkling water)
    • Continue to clean the house...
    • Prepare the serving pieces, plates, flatware, glasses, etc. 
    • Iron cloth napkins or tablecloths (ya, right; sure I will)

    Day Before:

    • Endless cleaning of the house! 
    • Cut and cube bread for stuffing
    • Make pies & tarte dough
    • Peel & cut the Yukon potatoes, then refrigerate them in a pot of cold water
    • Assemble ingredients for side dishes 
    • Set up tables and chairs

    Thanksgiving Day:

    Fortunately, I have several friends and family coming early to help with all the preparations for the meal.  I've encouraged folks to come whenever they like, bring an appetizer or their favorite holiday dish if they wish to bring something to share.  We'll keep nibbles out and drinks flowing throughout the day...

    9am     Start rolls; Seed pomegranates; 

                Squeeze oj & slice melon for breakfast

    10am   Roast garlic; Start sweet potatoes; chop broccoli

    11am   Start tarte tatin; chop carrots & parsnip

    12pm   Form rolls; 
                Chop onion, celery, apples & herbs for stuffing; 
                Prep mushrooms & shallots for gravy

    1pm     Finish stuffing and bake; 
                Prep Brussels sprouts; Make salad
    2pm     Boil mashed potatoes; Boil parsnips & carrots; 
                Make sauce mornay; Make gravy;             

                Sweet potatoes in oven; 
                Steam broccoli; Roast the Brussel sprouts;            
                Finish and garnish all dishes (except rolls)
    3pm     Serve dinner; Rolls in oven            
                Give thanks & enjoy the bounty!
    5pm     Make coffee; Whip cream; Serve dessert
                Make music & have fun! 

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    Grandma Roberts' Rolls

    Soft and tender, I love to make these rolls and remember my spouse’s very sweet grandmother, who made these rolls every holiday with her family.

    1 cup scalded milk (this means heat just to a boil and remove from heat)
    ¼ cup evaporated cane sugar
    ¼ cup butter
    1 teaspoon sea salt
    1 tablespoon active dry yeast
    2 eggs
    1 cup unbleached white flour
    2½ cups whole wheat flour

    Add yeast to ¼ cup of warm water and let proof for 10 minutes.

    In a separate, large bowl, mix milk, sugar, butter, and salt. Let cool until it is lukewarm (otherwise, you'll kill the yeast).

    To the mixture, add the yeast, eggs, and flour. Beat until smooth.  Cover with a warm, slightly damp towel. Let it rise for 2 hours.

    This next part can be a bit tricky until you get the hang of it: roll out ropes about of the dough on a well floured surface; form and cut into individual knots (forming the roll). The dough will be sticky, so don’t be shy with the flour. Place rolls on parchment paper on baking sheets. Let it rise for 2 more hours.

    Bake at 425º for 10-12 minutes until golden brown on top. We don't bake the rolls until the rest of dinner is served because these are best right out of the oven!

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    Roasted Vegetables

    This is my favorite way to prepare many vegetables:

    Pick one or a mix of a few types, being mindful that different veggies may have different cook times -

    Snap tough ends off asparagus or green beans.
    Cut large Brussels sprouts in half.
    Cut large veggies into bite sized pieces, such as fingerling potatoes from Sage Mountain Farm, carrots, parsnip, rutabaga, turnip, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, squash, bell peppers, onion...

    Drizzle lightly with olive oil, season with sea salt & freshly ground pepper, and toss to coat. Roast on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan at 400° until well cooked, stirring occasionally.  Asparagus cooks fast (10 minutes or less), root veggies and winter squash can take awhile (45 minutes or so)…

    Variations
    Add additional flavors after roasting-
    • drizzle with balsamic vinegar or port reduction
    • toss with your favorite vinaigrette, fresh herbs, and/or mustard
    • add a squeeze of lemon
    • top with shaved Parmesan ribbons or citrus zest

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes

    A savory alternative to candied yams. For this recipe, choose sweet potatoes that are small, round and about the same size

    6 small sweet potatoes (I like garnet), scrubbed well, poked with fork several times
    6 tablespoons butter from Spring Hill
    4 small shallots, minced from Schaner Farm
    2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced, plus more for garnish from Suzie's Farm or Schaner Farm
    ¼ cup rapadura sugar
    2 large eggs from backyard chickens or the Schaner's
    ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
    4 ounce gruyere cheese, finely grated, plus more for garnish
    sea salt
    freshly ground black pepper

    Bake sweet potatoes at 400° until tender when pierced with a paring knife, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool enough to handle. Slice each potato in half lengthwise. scoop out flesh, leaving about a 1/8-inch border all around potato halves and set aside.

    Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in small skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until soft, about 2 minutes. Add rosemary and cook 1 minute more. Remove from heat, add 4 tablespoons butter and set aside.

    Place flesh in a bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment. Add shallot mixture and remaining ingredients. Mix until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    Spoon mixture into potato halves. Top with extra gruyere. Bake at 400º until golden, about 20 minutes. Garnish with fresh rosemary.

    Makes 12 servings

    Garlic Smashed Potatoes

    This is a simple recipe but mashed potatoes are a staple for my holiday table. For more rustic mashed potatoes leave the peel on.

    4 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled or well scrubbed, cut into 1” pieces
    ½ stick butter
    ½ cup milk
    sea salt
    freshly ground pepper
    2 bulbs of roasted garlic

    In a large pot, cover potatoes with water (this can be done the day before and stored in the fridge overnight). Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until soft, about 15 minutes.

    After draining away the water, add butter, milk, salt and pepper to taste, and squeeze in garlic cloves. Mash with a potato masher, ricer, or whip gently with an electric mixer.

    Makes 8-10 servings 

    Sunday, November 13, 2011

    Holiday Stuffing

    Based on my Aunt Pat’s stuffing, this vegetarian stuffing is so good, I never miss the bird!

    2 tablespoon olive oil
    1 yellow onion, diced
    1 cup celery, diced
    6 large garlic cloves, minced
    6 cups multigrain (or other locally baked) bread, cut into ¾” cubes
    ½ bottle white wine
    2 cups apple juice
    1 cup pecans, chopped
    1 cup fresh cranberries (or ½ cup dried)
    1 cup golden raisins
    1 large green apple, diced
    fresh chopped herbs:
    1/4 cup parsley
    2 tablespoons sage
    1 tablespoon rosemary
    2 tablespoons thyme
    sea salt
    fresh ground black pepper

    Warm the oil over medium heat. Add onion, sage, thyme & rosemary and cook until the onions just begin to soften. Add garlic and celery and cook a couple more minutes.

    Combine all ingredients - except wine and juice – and place the mixture in a large baking dish. Moisten by adding about a third of the wine and juice. Cover and bake at 350° for about an hour, periodically adding the rest of the wine and juice to keep it moist.

    serves 8-10

    Thanksgiving Quinoa

    This recipe is based on what I usually make as a Thanksgiving stuffing, and would be a great stuffing for those avoiding wheat.

    4 cups quinoa, well rinsed
    4 cups water
    sea salt
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 yellow onion, diced
    1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
    1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced
    1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
    1/4 cup garlic, minced
    1 cup white wine
    1 large crisp & tart apple, peeled and diced
    1 cup fresh cranberries
    1 cup pecan, roasted & chopped
    1 cup golden raisins
    2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, minced
    4 cups apple juice
    black pepper

    In a large pot, bring the water, quinoa, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil, lower to a simmer, cover, and cook until water is absorbed (about 10 minutes).  In a wide-bottom pot or large skillet, heat the oil on medium-high heat.  Saute onion until soft. Add thyme, sage, rosemary & garlic and cook, stirring, for a few minutes. Add the wine, turn off heat and allow to steam, uncovered. Add all ingredients to the cooked quinoa, and cook, stirring until liquid is absorbed.  Salt & pepper to taste.

    Serves 8-12

    Saturday, November 12, 2011

    Pickled Vegetables

    Suzie's Farm and Schaner Farm had some lovely vegetables today at the Little Italy Farmers Market so I'm pickling them. This method is not meant to be shelf stable and should be stored in the refrigerator. Each of these recipes makes a 1 pint jar:


    Pickled Cucs
    about 8 spiny little cucumbers, quartered
    4 yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
    1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
    1/2 teaspoon dill
    1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
    1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
    1/2 cup water
    2 tablespoons evaporated cane sugar
    1 tablespoon sea salt

    Pickled Beets
    6 small beets, peeled & cut into sixth
    1/4 yellow onion, thinly sliced
    4 sprigs fresh parsley
    a pinch of black mustard seeds
    1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
    1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
    1/2 cup water
    2 tablespoons honey
    1 tablespoon sea salt

    Pickled Peppers
    6 assorted sweet peppers, cut into 1/2" strips
    whole garlic cloves
    1/2 teaspoon basil
    1/2 teaspoon oregano
    a pinch of red pepper flakes
    1/2 cup red wine vinegar
    1/2 cup water
    2 tablespoons evaporated cane sugar
    1 tablespoon sea salt

    Pickled Thyme Carrots
    3 bunches whole small carrots
    8 sprigs fresh thyme
    1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
    1/2 cup red wine vinegar
    1/2 cup water
    2 tablespoons honey
    1 tablespoon sea salt

    Pickled Indian Carrots
    3 bunches whole small carrots
    1/4 yellow onion, thinly sliced
    1 sprigs fresh cilantro
    a goodly pinch of saffron
    1/4 teaspoon whole black mustard seeds
    1/4 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
    1/2 cup coconut vinegar
    1/2 cup water
    2 tablespoons evaporated cane sugar
    1 tablespoon sea salt

    Stuff the herbs, veggies & spices in a pint-sized jar.  In a small sauce pan, bring the water, vinegar, salt & sweetener to a boil.  Pour into jar to the top.  Screw the lid on tight and allow to cool.  Store in the refrigerator for a couple days before eating.

    Thanksgiving Menu and Preparations

    Thanksgiving is my favorite meal to cook. I do not celebrate its beginnings, but I give true thanks for all that I have to be grateful for. I love to share my thanks through mindful and loving preparation of very special recipes. Over the years, my menu has changed a bit, with my adaptations of coveted family favorites and new additions as my sense of family has expanded.

    This year's menu is pretty ambitious, with even more items from scratch, some required to be made several weeks in advance (my spouse has been saving a few bottles of his latest beer). Some friends of ours shared fruited gingerales they made recently that I want to attempt to recreate...

    Appetizers
    potluck
    homemade pickled vegetables

    Drinks
    homemade grapefruit gingerale
    homebrewed Mad Stork black IPA & assorted local beers
    family-made wines

    Dinner
    cranberry compote
    yin yang smashed garlic potatoes & carrots with parsnips
    wild mushroom gravy
    twice baked sweet potatoes
    balsamic roasted Brussels sprouts with homemade mustard
    broccoli with sauce mornay
    Grandma Roberts’ rolls

    Dessert
    fair trade organic decaf coffee
    apple tarte tatin
    pumpkin praline pie in a ginger cookie crust
    whipped maple sour cream

    So that's the plan so far.  I'll be posting these holiday recipes and various preparations during the next week or so.

    This weekend: taking stock of what we have and what we need to accommodate the 30 folks that we'll share a meal with.

    beautiful turkey at City Farmers
    Happy Cooking!

    Friday, November 11, 2011

    Roasted Garlic

    So many uses for wonderfully delicious roasted garlic.  Lately we've been eating it spread on Bread & Cie ciabatta with Nicolau Farms classic chevre and some local honey.  Schaner Farm and Sage Mountain Farm both have awesome garlic.

    whole bulbs of garlic
    olive oil
    sea salt
    freshly ground black pepper

    Chop the tops off the bulbs, leaving them intact but exposing the cloves. Set them on foil (which can be reused). Drizzle oil over the bulbs and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap up the foil to enclose. Bake at 425º until cloves are caramelized and very soft, about an hour.

    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    Cranberry Compote

    Great on stuffing, rolls, baked brie, sandwiches and all your favorite holiday foods.  This recipe is based on Julia Child's cranberry sauce.  And I think I'm going to can it this year for Winter Solstice gifts...

    1 large granny smith apple, peeled, diced
    1 large orange, zested, peeled, seeds removed, diced (or a cup of kumquats or tangerines, leave skin on)
    1 cup orange juice or apple cider
    3 cups fresh cranberries
    1 tablespoon cider vinegar or lemon juice
    ½ cup maple syrup or honey
    ¼ teaspoon sea salt
    1/8 teaspoon cayenne, ground, more or less to taste

    Pour juice and cranberries into large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, including orange zest and peel. Cover pan and bring to boil over high heat. Stir, reduce heat to medium, and cook covered for 5 minutes, until all cranberries burst. Uncover, reduce heat to simmer for 5 minutes, until thick. Remove orange peel. Cool to serve at room temp. Can be kept frozen for several weeks.

    Makes about 3 cups

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    Calabacitas - Una Receta de Mi Familia

    Growing up, my nana made this for me and her abuelita, Narcissa, made it for her.  It's still one of my very favorite meals.  I feel a strong tie to my maternal line, especially to Narcissa, whom I never met but I feel her presence.  She was a farmer, a healer, a spiritual women deeply connected to nature.  I have a lot to learn from her...

    Que piensas de estar en el web, tartarabuelita?

    2 tablespoons oil
    1 onion, quartered and thinly sliced
    2-3 summer squash, quartered and thinly sliced
    5 garlic cloves, minced
    1 pound heirloom tomato, chopped
    3 ears corn, kernels cut off the cob
    1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
    sea salt
    1/3 pound jack cheese, shredded, optional

    Add the oil to a large skillet on medium-high heat, allowing it to heat up for a few minutes.  Add the onions and cook until soft, stirring frequently.  Add the squash and garlic; cook until just soft, a few minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes, corn and cilantro and salt to taste.  Top with cheese, cover and turn off heat.  Keep covered until cheese has melted.

    Serves 4-6

    Serve with tortillas and beans or use it as a filling for tacos, burritos or enchiladas.

    Monday, November 7, 2011

    I like oatmeal?

    Many of the foods I thought I didn't like (for example, sun-dried tomatoes), I have found I do like them once I try them from the farmers market, made from scratch, not full of chemicals and/or refined unto death.  We have forgotten what food tastes like and we've allowed ourselves to be convinced by trillions of dollars in advertising that the latest concoction in a brightly colored package is something we should put in our bodies for nourishment.

    I never liked "oatmeal" (I use the term loosely here) before last week because I never ate real oatmeal until last week.  Oatmeal is easy, fast, hearty, wholesome, warm ...and you can add so many different things to it to suit your tastes.

    1&1/3 cup water
    2/3 cup oats
    pinch of sea salt

    Stir ingredients together in a small pot, heat to a boil, bring the heat down to a simmer, cover and cook about 5 minutes. Done!  Enough for you and a loved one.

    Variations
    Try other grains (cook times & amount of water will vary): barley or quinoa flakes, millet...
    Sweeten it up: honey, maple syrup, rapadura, jam...
    Spice it up: cinnamon, vanilla, cardamom, chai...
    Add chopped nuts or seeds: almonds, pecans, walnuts, chia, hemp...
    Thin it out with more water, milk, cream, buttermilk, hemp milk, apple juice, fruit puree, kefir...
    Add fresh seasonal fruit (right now, chopped apples or persimmon)
    Add dried fruit: blueberries, coconut, peach, cherries...

    Flavor Combos to Try
    maple + cinnamon + milk + almonds + apple
    honey + coconut milk + chia + strawberries
    dried blueberries + vanilla + pecans + rapadura sugar

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    Winter Root Vegetable Stew with Cobbler Dumplings

    If the weather forecast can be believed, we've got some cold days and colder nights headed our way, which makes me think of making this recipe. It's Thursday so I'm headed to the North Park farmers market to hit up Suzie's Farm, J.R. Organics, Smit's, and Spring Hill Cheese.

    2 tablespoons oil (I like olive) or butter
    2 cups (about ½ pound) leeks (or onions), julienned
    1 fennel bulb, chopped (about 1½ cups)
    3 cloves garlic, peeled & minced
    ¼ pound fresh mushrooms, roughly chopped (I like cremini)
    1 ½ pounds (3-4 cups) root vegetables, chopped (I like Yukon potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and maybe a turnip or rutabaga)
    4-5 cups vegetable stock
    1 tsp fresh parsley, stemmed & minced
    1 tsp fresh thyme, stemmed & minced
    sea salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste

    1. Prep the veggies: trim dark green parts (keep for stock) from the leeks, score leeks lengthwise, then cut the leeks into pieces about 1 inch in length; wash thoroughly and drain. Chop fennel & veggies into about ¼-½ inch cubes (keep roots end, fennel fronds and stalks for stock). Roughly chop mushrooms (save stems for stock).

    2. Make the stock.
    1 small onion, peeled and chopped
    2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
    1 carrot, chopped
    any vegetable scraps
    1 bay leaf
    3 fresh sage leaves
    2 springs fresh parsley
    2 springs fresh thyme

    In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon oil on high heat, add the onion, garlic, carrot, and vegetable scraps (tops, peels, stems, ugly or tough parts. Nothing rotten or dirty. No onion skin, garlic skin, nor stinky veggies such as turnips or rutabagas), stirring occasionally until you see some caramelization. Cover completely with water, about 6 cups, add herbs and bring to a boil, add ½ tsp sea salt and simmer for 30 minutes.  Strain out the vegetable pieces.

    3. Make the cobbler dough:
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    1 cup whole wheat flour
    1 tablespoon baking powder
    ½ tsp sea salt
    8 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces (6 if you add cheese)
    1 cup milk
    ½ cup grated cheese (cheddar, gruyere, parmesan…), optional
    1 tablespoon fresh herbs, chopped (chives, parsley, thyme, sage…)

    In a medium bowl, mix the flours, baking powder, and salt.  Work the butter into the flour mixture with your finger tips, until the texture is crumbly.  Stir in the milk until well combined, then mix in the cheese and herbs.  Set aside.

    4. Make the stew: in a deep, wide skillet, melt butter or heat oil on high, add leeks, fennel, mushroom, thyme, and garlic, stirring frequently, and cook until the mushrooms give up their liquid and start to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped winter veggies; cover completely with stock and season with a bit of salt. Bring to a boil and stir in the parsley.  Drop large spoonfuls of the cobbler dough on top of the stew; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt & pepper after portioning stew and cobbler into bowls for serving.

    Serves 6

    Variations

    • Instead of or in addition to roots, use other vegetables as the season provides: winter or summer squash, Brussels sprouts, sugar snap peas...
    • Make a gluten-free version by eliminating the cobbler topping or adapt this recipe for shepard's pie