Saturday, August 11, 2018

Polenta with Herb Roasted Tomatoes

At the Sunday at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market this week you'll find pastured meats and eggs from Fair Valley Farm and Fog Hollow Farm, cut flowers from Tiger Lily Art Company, and fresh produce from Camas Swale Farm, including lots of tomatoes.

When tomatoes are at their summer sweetest, I love eating them lightly roasted with fresh herbs. As a vehicle for their fragrant juices, I decided to make some polenta, using this Bon Appetit recipe for Instant pot polenta cacio e pepe

While the polenta cooked (in just 9 minutes), I roasted a pan full of cherry tomatoes with rosemary. Then I sprinkled on some more delicate herbs (chives, thyme, and oregano), poured over the polenta and ran it under the broiler. At this point, one could let it cool and harden and cut wedges to eat, but we couldn't wait for that and instead ate it as a delicious porridge spooned into bowls.

Polenta with Herb Roasted Tomatoes
serves four
1 cup polenta 
4 cups water
1 tsp salt
generous amount of black pepper
2 Tbsp butter (divided)
1/2 cup grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 spring rosemary
several springs chives, thyme, and oregano

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and put in a cast iron or oven safe skillet to warm. Rinse and the cherry tomatoes and herbs. Chop the rosemary leaves. Separately chop the other herbs.

2. In an Instant Pot, combine the polenta, water, salt and pepper. Cook on high pressure for 9 minutes and then release the pressure manually. Whisk the contents of the pot, adding 1 Tbsp of butter and the grated cheese, until it is a thick porridge. One can also prepare the polenta on the stove top like this.

3. While the polenta is cooking, remove the warm skillet from the oven. Put 1 Tbsp of butter into the skillet to melt and then add the cherry tomatoes and chopped rosemary and roll around to coat. Roast the cherry tomatoes for about 12 minutes until they have collapsed and released some juices.

4. Remove the pan from the oven and turn the setting to broil. Sprinkle the other chopped herbs onto the cherry tomatoes. Use a spatula to layer the cooked polenta onto the roasted tomatoes. Put under the broiler for about 5 minutes until the top is golden brown. Serve immediately, spooning into dishes, or allow the pan to cook until the polenta has hardened and can be cut into wedges. Enjoy.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Roasted Chickpea and Pasta Salad

This Sunday at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, you'll find pastured meats and eggs from Fair Valley Farm and Fog Hollow Farm, cut flowers from Tiger Lily Art Company, and fresh produce from Camas Swale Farm, including eggplant, tomatoes, and corn on the cob.

For the past year I've been cooking many variations on this chickpea pasta dish, in which the pasta cooks in chickpea broth, absorbing all of the flavors. It's come to the point that the rest of my family members will roll their eyes when I suggest this dish. But tasked with bringing a side dish to a work picnic, I thought of a new variant on the theme: cooking pasta for a salad in the same broth used to cook chickpeas that I then roasted, along with eggplant and carrots, to layer on top. The pan was empty by the end of the picnic.

Roasted Chickpea and Pasta Salad

2 cups dried chickpeas (will make twice as much chickpeas as needed, but they store well)
1 bay leaf
olive oil
1 lb small pasta such as ditalini or shells
1 eggplant
6 to 8 carrots
4 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 large lemon

1. Rinse the chickpeas, transfer to a large cooking pot or Instant Pot insert, add water until they are covered by 2 inches, add 2 tsp salt, bay leaf, and a drizzle of olive oil. Cook on low heat until soft through or if using an Instant Pot, cook on high pressure for 40 minutes and allow the heat to release naturally.

2. When the chickpeas are cooked, drain them and reserve the cooking liquid. Taste and add more salt if needed. Return the chickpea broth to the pot, bring to a boil, and cook the pasta until just cooked but still firm. If using an Instant Pot, cook the pasta on low pressure for 5 minutes. Drain the pasta, toss with a little olive oil, and reserve.

3. Meanwhile prepare the vegetables. Cut the eggplant into 1/2 inch cubes, toss with a tsp of salt, and allow to drain for at least 20 minutes. Clean and trim the carrots and cut into 1/8 inch thick ovals. 

4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and place in two sheet pans. In a mixing bowl, combine the cumin seeds, smoked paprika, and a pinch of salt. Peel and slice the garlic cloves and add to the bowl. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the lemon and cut the lemon peel strips into thin matchsticks and add to the bowl. Add the chickpeas and a generous drizzle of olive oil and mix to coat the chickpeas with the spices. Transfer the chickpeas to one of the hot sheet pans and roast for about 30 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, until they are well crisped and starting to brown.

5. In the same mixing bowl, toss the carrot slices with a another drizzle of olive oil and pinch of salt and transfer the carrots to the second sheet pan. Roast for about ten minutes, flipping once with a spatula, until they are cooked through and browned at the edges.

6. In the same mixing bowl, toss the drained eggplant cubes with another drizzle of olive oil. When the carrots are done, transfer them to a bowl, spread the eggplant cubes on the  hot sheet pan, and return it to the oven. Roast the eggplant cubes for about twenty minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to flip, until they are cooked through and browned at the edges.

7. Assemble the salad. On a serving platter, layer the pasta, then the eggplant cubes, then the carrots, and then the chickpeas with all of the roasted cumin seeds, lemon peel, and garlic slices. Juice the lemon and drizzle over the platter, along with a final drizzle of olive oil. Serve at room temperature.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Som Tam with Purple Beans

This Sunday at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, you'll find pastured meats and eggs from Fair Valley Farm and Fog Hollow Farm, cut flowers from Tiger Lily Art Company, and fresh produce from Camas Swale Farm, including lettuce, gorgeous heirloom tomatoes, and beans.

With the hot temperatures I have been searching for no cook, refreshing dishes, and had a craving for Thai flavors. I found just what I was looking for in Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid's Hot, Sour, Salt, Sweet: a version of green papaya salad, but made with long beans. Swapping in Camas Swale's purple beans was the perfect way to preserve their brilliant color while infusing them, after a good pounding in a mortar, with vibrant lime juice, fish sauce, chiles, crushed peanuts, and tomatoes.

Som Tam with Purple Beans
from Jeffrey Alford's Hot, Sour, Salt, Sweet
1 large garlic clove
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp dry roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp dried shrimp, minced
1 to 2 bird miles, minced
pinch of sugar, or more to taste
1/4 cup lime juice
2 Tbsp Thai fish sauce
2 plum tomatoes or 1 medium tomato, coarsely chopped
1/2 lb long beans or green or purple beans, trimmed, cut lengthwise in half, and the cut crosswise into 1 1/2 inch lengths. (Note, if the beans are large and tough, you can parboil them briefly in boiling water and refresh them in cold water before trimming and cutting).

Lettuce leaves
1/4 head Savoy cabbage, cores and cut into small wedges

Place the garlic, salt, peanuts, dried shrimp, chiles, and sugar in a large mortar or in a food processor and pound or process to a paste. If using a processor, transfer the paste to a bowl. Stir in the lime juice and fish sauce, then add the chopped tomatoes and a generous handful of beans. If using a mortar, stir in the lime juice and fish sauce, the tomatoes, and the handful of beans. Pound with the pestle or the back of a wooden spoon, being careful not to splash yourself, to mash the beans a little and combine them with the flavorings. Gradually add the remaining beans, mashing and blending as you do. Taste for salty-hot-sweet balance and adjust the flavors as you wish.

Mound onto a serving plate lined with lettuce leaves. Place the wedges of cabbage around the edge of the plate. Serve immediately. 

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Salad Nicoise with an Instant Pot

This Sunday at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, you'll find pastured meats and eggs from Fair Valley Farm and Fog Hollow Farm, cut flowers from Tiger Lily Art Company, and fresh produce from Camas Swale Farm, including lettuce and other greens, potatoes, green beans, and heirloom tomatoes.

During the summer months, a favorite meal at our house is self assembled salad Nicoise with lettuce, tomatoes, boiled eggs, potatoes, and green beans, and tuna in olive oil. As a treat last week, I made a batch with fresh olive oil poached tuna. This time, I experimented with making the components in an Instant Pot. It didn't necessarily save time, but it turned out to be pretty efficient with fewer pots to wash in the end. If you don't have an Instant Pot, you can easily cook the components on the stove top and it will be just as good.

Salad Nicoise in an Instant Pot
serves four

olive oil poached tuna (adapted from Melissa Clark's Dinner in an Instant)
~12 ounces high quality tuna
1 shallot, sliced thinly
1 clove garlic, sliced thinly
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
zest from 1 lemon
1/2 tsp sea salt
generous grinding of fresh black pepper
olive oil to cover the fish

other salad fixings
1 lb baby potatoes
1/2 lb green beans, trimmed
8 eggs
4 large tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 head lettuce

1 tsp dijon mustard
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
olive oil from fish poaching

1. In a ceramic ramekin that will fit the fish snuggly, cover the bottom with the shallot and garlic slices. Salt and pepper the fish and layer it on top of the shallot and garlic. Top with the fennel seeds and lemon zest and pour over olive oil to immerse the fish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to marinate for 1 hour up to 24 hours.

2. Set up the Instant Pot with 1 cup of water in the pot and a steamer basket. Rinse the potatoes and put them in the steamer basket. Layer on the eggs. Close the lid, seal the valve, and cook on LOW pressure for 4 minutes for jammy eggs or 5 minutes for hard boiled. While the pot is pressurizing, prepare a large ice water bath. When the timer is done, immediately and carefully vent the steam, remove the lid, and transfer the eggs to the ice water bath. 

3. Place the green beans on top of the potatoes in the steamer basket and cook on LOW pressure for zero minutes. When the timer is done, immediately and carefully vent the steam, remove the lid, and transfer the beans to the ice water bath. 

4. Remove the plastic wrap from the tuna ramekin and cover with tin foil. Make a tin foil sling to be able to lower the ramekin in and out of the pot. Layer the ramekin on top of the potatoes and cook on LOW pressure for 5 minutes for medium rare tuna or 6 minutes for more well done. When the timer is done, immediately and carefully vent the steam. Check the tuna and potatoes for desired doneness and cook either or both for a little longer if needed.

5. Arrange a platter with lettuce and tomato wedges. Drain the eggs and beans. Peel and half the eggs and arrange with the beans and potatoes on the platter. Mix the olive oil from the poached tuna into a vinaigrette with mustard and vinegar to taste. Serve the salad fixings, tuna, and vinaigrette for everyone to assemble their own salad. Enjoy.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Pesto Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower and Sausage Meatballs

This Sunday at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, you'll find pastured meats and eggs from Fair Valley Farm and Fog Hollow Farm, cut flowers from Tiger Lily Art Company, and fresh produce from Camas Swale Farm, including potatoes, snap peas, and heirloom tomatoes.

I love Camas Swale's torpedo onions, which are delicious roasted with other vegetables like cauliflower. I wanted to incorporate these into a pasta dinner, but lately we've been at a family pasta impasse between my pesto-loving daughter and my son and advocate for tomato sauce and meatballs. 

I decided to place peacemaker by roasting a sheet pan of meatballs along with the vegetables, using Fair Valley Farm pork sausage, and serving these on pesto pasta. Everyone was happy with dinner.

Pesto Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower and Sausage Meatballs
roasted vegetables
1 head cauliflower
2 small onions
olive oil

meat balls
1 lb ground pork sausage meat
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
fresh ground pepper

3/4 cup pesto sauce (such as this recipe)
1 lb pasta
cherry tomatoes for garnish
parmesan cheese for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and put in one sheet pan. 

2. Cut the cauliflower into bite sized pieces. Cut the onions into sixths. In a large bowl, toss the vegetables with a pinch of salt and olive oil to coat.

3. In a medium bowl, mix together the ground pork sausage meat, bread crumbs, egg, and plenty of fresh ground pepper. Coat a second sheet pan with a thin coat of olive oil. Form small one inch meat balls and arrange on the sheet pan (you should have about 40 meatballs). 

4. Toss the vegetables onto the preheated sheet pan and put the sheet pan of meatballs into the oven. Bake both for about 35 minutes, turning over about halfway through, until vegetables are well caramelized and brown on the edges and the meatballs are cooked through. 

5. Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta. Drain and toss the pasta with the pesto. Serve topped with vegetables and meatballs (or serve them on the side). Garnish with cherry tomatoes and grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Grilled Vegetable and Stale Bread Tuna Salad

This Sunday at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, you'll find pastured meats and eggs from Fair Valley Farm and Fog Hollow Farm, cut flowers from Tiger Lily Art Company, and fresh produce from Camas Swale Farm, including torpedo onions, summer squash, cherry tomatoes, and radicchio for grilling.

We grilled a large platter of vegetables for the 4th of July, to go along with our Fair Valley Farm beef burgers. My philosophy is that you can not have enough leftover grilled vegetables, which can be reincarnated in many guises such as on pizza or in grain salad.

When assessing the leftover situation for packing lunch this morning, I realized that we still had some grilled vegetables and a quarter of a stale baguette. In my family I am famous for my aversion to soggy sandwiches and I generally avoid packing any ladened bread that will have to sit from morning until noon. These ingredients, however, inspired me to throw together a lunch in which the intension was to hydrate the bread into an edible state by lunchtime. 

On top of cubed stale baguette I layer a can of tuna in olive oil and then the grilled vegetables with some balsamic vinegar and basil. By lunchtime the flavors had melded, the bread was softened but not soggy, and the whole mixture made a delicious meal mounded on top of fresh, crunchy lettuce leaves.

Grilled Vegetable and Stale Bread Tuna Salad
recipe for two servings
~8 slices stale baguette
~two cups of grilled vegetables such as zucchini, eggplant, peppers, onions, corn, mushrooms, and radicchio
1 can good tuna in olive oil
~1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
~8 basil leaves
~12 lettuce leaves, washed

1. Chop the baguette slices into bite size pieces and layer on the bottom of a serving bowl or transportable lunch container.

2. Flake the tuna and layer it over the bread pieces, drizzling over the olive oil.

3. Cut the grilled vegetables into bite size pieces and layer over the bread and tuna. Drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with some torn basil leaves.

4. Allow the salad to marinate for several hours at room temperature so that the bread absorbs the dressing and flavors. To serve, tear the lettuce leaves and distribute over two plates. Toss the bread salad to mix and distribute it over the lettuce on the two plates. Enjoy.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Chicken with Cardamom Rice and Blistered Purple Beans

This Sunday at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market you'll find plenty of summer produce from Camas Swale Farm as well as pastured meats and eggs from Fair Valley Farm and Fog Hollow Farm.

Fog Hollow offers chicken parts, which is convenient if you don't have the time to break down a whole bird. I was happy to pick up a pack of legs to try out a chicken and rice dish that I've long been eyeing from the cookbook Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. I had always stalled at the second ingredient of barberries, however, which seemed unattainable until I happened to run across them at Sunrise Market. The dish was well worth the wait, especially with Fog Hollow's fresh chicken legs. The rice is enhanced with plenty of caramelized onions, similar to a family favorite, mujaddara, and the barberries add tart bursts of flavor.

To accompany the chicken and rice, I'd picked up some beautiful purple beans. Because I wanted to preserve some of their deep color, with fades with cooking, I decided to blister them quickly in a hot griddle pan. And because I think beans go well with mustard, and mustard reminded me of other brassica family members, and I had a bunch of turnips with fresh leaves, I made a bright green garnish of blanched and chopped turnip greens in a mustard vinaigrette. It was another Farmers Market summer feast. 

Chicken with Caramelized Onion and Cardamom Rice
from Jerusalem A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

3  tablespoons sugar (40 grams)
2 ½  tablespoons barberries, or use currants (25 grams)
4  tablespoons olive oil
2  medium onions, thinly sliced (2 cups, or 250 grams)
2 ¼  pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (1 kilogram), or 1 whole chicken, quartered
 Salt and freshly ground black pepper
10  cardamom pods
 Rounded 1/4 teaspoon whole cloves
2  long cinnamon sticks, broken in two
1 ⅔  cups basmati rice (300 grams)
2 ¼  cups boiling water (550 milliliters)
1 ½  tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves (5 grams), chopped
½  cup dill leaves (5 grams), chopped
¼  cup cilantro leaves (5 grams), chopped

⅓  cup Greek yogurt (100 grams), mixed with 2 tablespoons olive oil (optional)

1. Put the sugar and scant 3 tablespoons water in a small saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat, add the barberries, and set aside to soak. If using currants, you do not need to soak them in this way.

2. Meanwhile, heat half the olive oil in a large sauté pan for which you have a lid over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion has turned a deep golden brown. Transfer the onion to a small bowl and wipe the pan clean.

3. Place the chicken in a large mixing bowl and season with 1½ teaspoons each salt and black pepper. Add the remaining olive oil, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon and use your hands to mix everything together well. Heat the frying pan again and place the chicken and spices in it. Sear chicken for 5 minutes on each side and remove from the pan (this is important as it part-cooks the chicken). The spices can stay in the pan, but don’t worry if they stick to the chicken. Remove most of the remaining oil as well, leaving just a thin film at the bottom. Add the rice, caramelized onion, 1 teaspoon salt and plenty of black pepper. Drain the barberries and add them as well. Stir well and return the seared chicken to the pan, pushing it into the rice.

4. Pour the boiling water over the rice and chicken, cover the pan, and cook over very low heat for 30 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, remove the lid, quickly place a clean tea towel over the pan, and seal again with the lid. Leave the dish undisturbed for another 10 minutes. Finally, add the herbs and use a fork to stir them in and fluff up the rice. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve hot or warm with yogurt mixture if you like.

Blistered Purple Beans with Mustardy Turnip Greens
blistered purple beans
4 handfuls of purple beans
1 Tbsp olive oil

Wash and trim the beans. Toss the beans in a bowl with olive oil and a generous pinch of salt. Heat a grill pan or skillet over high heat. When the pan is very hot, put on the beans. Allow them to blister, flipping occasionally, for about 4 minutes until they start to lose some of their purple color but are still quite crunch. Remove to a serving plate.

turnip greens with mustard vinaigrette
1 bunch turnip greens
1 tsp mustard
1/2 tsp honey
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar

Set a medium pot of well salted water to boil. Wash the turnip greens and trim off the bare stems. In a medium bowl, whisk together the mustard, honey, and sherry vinegar. When the water is boiling, throw in the turnip greens and blanch for 45 seconds. Drain and run under cold water to stop them from cooking. Squeeze out the water and chop the leaves into 1/2 inch slices. Toss in the vinaigrette. Taste and add more salt, honey, or vinegar as needed.  Serve along side the blistered beans.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Baked Zucchini with Mozzarella and Breadcrumbs

This Sunday at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market stock up on pastured meats and eggs from Fair Valley Farm and Fog Hollow Farm and fresh produce from Camas Swale Farm.

Now that summer is in full swing, we've been having a lot of salads for dinner, inspired by our farmers market finds. For this meal, I made a quick pan of baked zucchini topped with mozzarella and a sprinkle of scallion-spiked bread crumbs. We ate this gratin alongside butter lettuce, snap peas, roasted broccoli, buttery radishes, lentils, and hard boiled eggs. Not only are dinner salads a great way to enjoy fresh farm produce, but they lend themselves to relaxed summer meals when everyone can compose a personalized dinner plate masterpiece.

Baked Zucchini with Mozzarella and Breadcrumbs
4 small zucchini
1 punch green onions
1 ball mozzarella
1/2 cup breadcrumbs from stale bread
olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and place in a baking pan. Trim the zucchini ends and then slice lengthwise into 1/4 inch wide strips. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and let sweat in a colander for a few minutes. Trim the roots of the green onions. Cut the white parts of the onions into 1/4 inch rounds and reserve. Cut the green parts of the onions into 1 inch lengths and reserve. Slice the mozzarella.

2. When the oven is hot, remove the baking pan, drizzle in some olive oil and spread with a brush to coat the bottom. Pat the zucchini strips dry and spread them over the bottom of the pan in a single layer. Sprinkle on the onion whites and a generous grinding of fresh pepper. Bake for about 7 minutes until the bottoms of the zucchinis start to brown. 

3. In the meantime, heat a skillet over high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and sear the green onions, stirring occasionally until they start to char. Add the breadcrumbs and a little more olive oil if needed and cook another minute until the breads smell toasted. 

4. Remove the zucchini from the oven and turn on the broiler. Flip the zucchini strips. Layer on the mozzarella and sprinkle over the green onion breadcrumbs. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes until the cheese is melted and slightly browned. Serve.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Radish Leaf Chimichurri Sauce

Make this Sunday a special Fathers Day with a trip to the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market. You'll find all the fixings for a Fathers Day feast including pastured meats and eggs from Fair Valley Farm and Fog Hollow Farm, cut flowers from Tiger Lily Art Company, and fresh produce from Camas Swale Farm.

With Camas Swale's produce fresh from the fields, you can use all parts of the vegetables. Last week I used this gorgeous rosy radishes for some quick pickles as a side for white bean and carnitas tacos (here's a carnitas recipe for slow cooking in the oven and a faster one for a pressure cooker).

The greens from the radish bunch were so fresh that I decided to make them into a quick chimichurri sauce, incorporating some seared Camas Swale green onions. The sharp radish greens, charred onions, and kick of red wine vinegar were a perfect pairing for the mild white beans and crispy pork. Try some out on a dad tomorrow.

Radish Leaf Chimichurri
greens from 1 bunch radishes
6 green onions
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 pinch salt
red pepper flakes to taste
1 Tbsp vinegar

1. Rinse leaves from 1 bunch radish and reserve. Rinse the green onions, trim off the root ends, and cut the whites from the greens. Cut the whites into 1/4 inch rings. Separately cut the greens into 1/2 inch rings. 

2. Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat. When the skillet is very hot, add 1 Tbsp olive oil, swirl to coat, and then add the white onion pieces, a pinch of salt, and red pepper flakes to taste, and let them sear for a few minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. When some of the onions are charred, add the green onion pieces and sear for one more minute. 

3. Transfer the seared green onions to a bowl. Stir in one tablespoon of red wine vinegar. Chop the radish leaves finely and stir into bowl. Taste and add more salt, pepper or vinegar as desired. Serve with meat such as carnitas. 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Around the Corner

Come down to the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market this Sunday June 10. The stand is around the corner along Agate today. Don't miss out on lots of greens, radishes, summer squash, strawberries, and the first pickling cucumbers of the season. 

Friday, June 1, 2018

Hazelnut Biscotti

This Sunday at the Fairmount Farmers Market, you'll find pastured meats and eggs from Fair Valley Farm and Fog Hollow Farm and fresh produce from Camas Swale Farm including:
berries (serve with biscotti, recipe below)
radishes (make some smashed radishes in chili oil)
snap peas (try some springtime spaghetti carbonara)

The first of the spring strawberries are such a treat, that I prefer to savor them plain rather than hiding them in pillows of sweet toppings. A refined hazelnut biscotti makes the perfect accompaniment to naturally sweet berries. My daughter made biscotti for my husband's birthday and we've been nibbling them with fresh strawberries all week.

Hazelnut Biscotti
2 cups (265 g) unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
3 large eggs
2/3 cup (135 g) vanilla sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup (125 g) hazelnuts, toasted and cooled

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large mixing bowl.

3. In a small bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, slowly add the liquids, and mix well with you hands or a dough whisk. If necessary, add additional flour to form a firm and workable dough. Add the hazelnuts and work them evenly into the dough.

4. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. Flour your hands and carefully roll each piece into and oval cylinder about 2 inches wide and 12 inches long. Carefully transfer each cylinder to the parchment-lined baking sheet. 

5. Place the baking sheet in the middle of the oven and bake until the dough is slightly risen and an even golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove and transfer the cylinders to a cooling rack for 10 minutes.

6. Transfer each cylinder to a cutting board and slice the biscotti on a sharp diagonal (45-degree angle) at 1/2 inch intervals. Stand the biscotti upright on the baking sheet about 1/2 inch apart. Return the baking sheet to the center of the oven and bake until the biscotti are a deep golden brown, about 15 minutes more. Remove from the oven and transfer the biscotti to a rack to cool thoroughly. The cookies should be dry and crisp. Once cooled they can be store in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Market Start May 27

This Sunday will be the start of the ninth season of the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market. Be sure to visit the corner of Agate Street and 19th Avenue between 10 AM and 2 PM. Camas Swale Farm will be there with the first of their strawberries, lots of vibrant leafy greens, spring onions, cabbage, radishes, and more to inspire all sorts of cooking spring dishes from roasted vegetables to delicate desserts. Thank you for supporting our local market.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Apple Sourdough Skillet Pancake

I've been culturing a sourdough starter again, and the pets know that they have competition. This mason jar of microbes can command a lot of my attention.

One of my biggest concerns is how to use up all the discarded starter from replenishing the jar with fresh flour and water. 

A New York Times recipe from Tejal Rao for Cast-Iron Sourdough Pancakes caught my eye. It is essentially a Dutch baby with a tart tartine apple layer. 

I tweaked the recipe based on a number of readers' suggestions, and added maple syrup to the batter rather than drowning it in syrup at the end. It proved to be a big hit and I was glad to have more batter for a second pancake. This is a perfect Mothers Day breakfast dish for anyone who is nurturing a sourdough starter.

Apple Sourdough Skillet Pancake
adapted from NYTimes Cooking Tejal Rao's Cast-Iron Sourdough Pancakes
makes two skillet pancakes

approximately 1  cup (225 g) sourdough starter, unfed
1 1/2  cups (180 g) all-purpose flour (or include some buckwheat or corn flour)
1 1/2 cups (368 g) buttermilk or a combination of milk and whey)
2  eggs
2  Tbsp (39 g) maple syrup 
1/2 tsp salt
1/2  tsp baking soda
2  apples, cut into slices
pinch of cinnamon (optional)

4  Tbsp butter, divided

1. The night before, in a large blow whisk together the unfed starter with the flour and buttermilk. Cover and leave to ferment overnight.

2. The next morning, put a 10 inch cast iron skillet in the oven and preheat at 450 degrees. Core and slice the apples. Transfer the pan from the oven to a medium high stovetop burner. Melt 2 Tbsp butter and put in half the apple slices, sprinkling them with a pinch of cinnamon if desired. Cook for a couple of minutes and then flip.

3. Meanwhile, finish the batter by whisking in the eggs, maple syrup, salt, and baking soda. Remove the skillet from the heat. Pour half batter over the apples and melted butter and transfer the skillet to the oven.

4. Bake for 15 minutes until the top is nicely browned. Remove the skillet from the oven. Place a large plate over it and invert the pancake onto the plate, apples side up. Return the skillet to the stovetop and make a second pancake. Slice the pancakes into wedges and serve warm.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Thanks for the Season

On this Thanksgiving weekend, I want to take a moment to give thanks to all of the local growers, providers, and neighborhood customers who made the eighth season of the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market a success. Having such wonderful offerings in our neighborhood all summer long -- vibrant produce from Camas Swale Farm, fresh meats and eggs from Fair Valley Farm and Fog Hollow Farm, hand crafted breads from Wildflour Oven, and beautiful flowers from Tiger Lily Art Company -- has been a gift to our community.  

I hope you all had a happy and celebratory Thanksgiving holiday. Our feast included lots of local produce from our Camas Swale Harvest CSA and the Willamette Farm and Food Coalition Fill Your Pantry event. My daughter made her first pie, an apple beauty. The kids have decided that pie is an acceptable breakfast food, while I've been enjoying reheated mushroom and celery stuffing with a fried egg. And leftover green beans and roasted delicata squash made a delicious salad for lunch. We have much to be grateful for, and no small part of that is the beautiful, bountiful valley in which we live.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Sausage Ragu

This Sunday will likely be the last Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market of the season. Last week's rain disrupted the planned market, but this Sunday should be sunny, so you can be sure to find fresh eggs and pastured chicken, beef, pork, and lamb from Fair Valley Farm and Fog Hollow Farm, baked goods made with local whole grains from WildFlour Oven, and plenty of fresh produce from Camas Swale Farm

Since it is the last market of the season, besides indulging in baked goods and delicious food for the week, you should plan to stock up on winter squash, onions, root vegetables, and frozen meats for the winter. 

I would suggest picking up the fixings for this sausage ragu from the New York Times. I make a version with double the vegetables, producing enough sauce to freeze away for two additional meals. Made with Fair Valley Farm's sausage and Camas Swale's carrots, celery and giant shallots, the vibrant flavors will brighten a future rainy winter day.

Sausage Ragu
makes enough for three meals of one pound of pasta; freezes well
1 pound sweet Italian sausage or bulk sausage
 Extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, minced
2 carrot, minced
4 celery stalk, minced
¼ cup minced flat-leaf parsley, plus extra for garnish
2 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, with its juice
2 large sprig fresh thyme
1 large sprig fresh rosemary
3 tablespoons tomato paste
 Ground black pepper
1 pound tubular dried pasta such as mezzi rigatoni, paccheri or penne
 Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish, optional

1. Crumble the sausage meat into a wide, heavy skillet or Dutch oven and set over medium-low heat. If the meat is not rendering enough fat to coat the bottom of the pan as it begins to cook, add olive oil one tablespoon at a time until the meat is frying gently, not steaming. Sauté, breaking up any large chunks, until all the meat has turned opaque (do not let it brown), about 5 minutes.

2. Add onion, carrot, celery and parsley and stir. Drizzle in more oil if the pan seems dry. Cook over very low heat, stirring often, until the vegetables have melted in the fat and are beginning to caramelize, and the meat is toasty brown. This may take as long as 40 minutes, but be patient: It is essential to the final flavors.

3. Add tomatoes and their juice, breaking up the tomatoes with your hands or with the side of a spoon. Bring to a simmer, then add thyme and rosemary and let simmer, uncovered, until thickened and pan is almost dry, 20 to 25 minutes.

4. Mix tomato paste with 1 cup hot water. Add to pan, reduce heat to very low, and continue cooking until the ragù is velvety and dark red, and the top glistens with oil, about 10 minutes more. Remove herb sprigs. Sprinkle black pepper over, stir and taste.

5. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil pasta until just tender. Scoop out 2 cups cooking water, drain pasta and return to pot over low heat. Quickly add a ladleful of ragù, a splash of cooking water, stir well and let cook 1 minute. Taste for doneness. Repeat, adding more cooking water or ragù, or both, until pasta is cooked through and seasoned to your liking.

6. Pour hot pasta water into a large serving bowl to heat it. Pour out the water and pour in the pasta. Top with additional ragù, sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately. Pass grated cheese at the table, if desired. Freeze the remaining ragu for future meals.