Monday, October 20, 2014

Roasted Delicata Squash and Apple Rings


This past weekend, when the sun was still shining (a distant memory a day later), we had the pleasure of visiting Sweetwater Farm, the major vendor of the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market and source of our Good Food Easy CSA. 




Farmers Erica and Tom had on display an explosion of colorful winter squash, along with rosy gala apples. We got to see their impressive operation of greenhouses that keep them harvesting year round, and their open field with a few remaining summer crops including this ghoulish kohlrabi, that could be easily mistaken for a mandrake



All this fall bounty inspired me to roast rings of delicata squash and apples, as a side for a Fair Valley Farm ham. The recipe below gives specific temperatures, but both the squash and apples could be roasted at a range of temperatures, to accommodate whatever else is in the oven, as long as you keep an eye on them.


We had this delicious fall meal along with and my latest attempt at sourdough bread. And as an extra treat, dainty roasted delicata squash seeds, which are a real delicacy as compared to your regular jumbo jack-o'-lantern seeds.




Roasted Delicata Squash and Apple Rings
1 delicata squash
3 apples
a drizzle of olive oil
a pinch of salt

1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Slice the ends off the delicata squash and discard. Slice the squash into 1/2 inch rounds. Hold each round flat and use a spoon to run along the interior edges of each disc to dislodge the inner goop and seeds. Save this to roast the seeds. Drizzle some olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet. Slide the squash discs in the olive oil to coat lightly, and then flip them over to coat the second side. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Place in the preheated oven. Bake for 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, use a melon baller or paring knife to remove the stem and blossom ends of the apples. Slice each apple into 1/4 inch rounds crosswise across the core. Use the knife tip to flick away any seeds. Place the apple rounds on a second baking sheet.

3. Use a spatula to flip over the delicate squash discs. They should be golden brown and crisp on the bottom. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees and put in the baking sheet with the apple rounds. Check everything after another 10 minutes. Both the apples and squash should be soft and the squash should be golden on both sides. Cook for a little longer if needed. When both are done, move them to a platter and layer the apple slices on the delicata squash rings. Serve warm.


Roasted Delicata Squash Seeds
Use your fingers to pry the seeds away from the squash goop, but a little clinging goop is fine. Mix the seeds with a Tbsp of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Roast in a small pan at 350 degrees, stirring after 5 minutes, and checking again every couple of minutes until they are golden brown. Be careful not to forget them because they will burn quickly. Enjoy.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Cornmeal Plum Scones


We'll have to get used to a different Sunday morning routine now that the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market is done for the season. As my sister-in-law taught me this summer, making scones is a manageable morning task for a late breakfast, so my son and I whipped up these tasty scones from Melissa Clark, with plums from Sweetwater Farm and corn flour from Lonesome Whistle Farm.


For this recipe, you make a quick plum jam with caramelized honey and a bay leaf, and then layer this right into your scone dough triangles, resulting in some nice caramelized plum pieces on the top of your scones when they come out of the oven. 


To be enjoyed with extra plum jam, a second cup of tea, and another section of the Sunday newspaper as the morning fog burns off.


Cornmeal Plum Scones
3 tablespoons/45 milliliters honey
1 bay leaf
¾ pound plums/1/3 kilogram (~20 small), halved, pitted and then cut into 1-inch cubes
¾ cup/175 milliliters heavy cream, more as needed
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 ⅔ cups/275 grams all-purpose flour
⅓ cup/60 grams fine cornmeal
3 tablespoons/35 grams sugar
2 teaspoons/7 grams baking powder
½ teaspoon/2 grams kosher salt
6 tablespoons/85 grams unsalted butter at room temperature, cubed, plus more for serving if you like

1. Put honey and bay leaf in a medium skillet over medium heat. Simmer until honey is bubbling and turns a shade darker, about 2 minutes.

2. Place plums in honey. Cook, without moving, until undersides are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Stir plums and cook 1 to 2 minutes longer, until tender but not falling completely apart. If the caramel starts to get too brown, stir in a teaspoon or two of water and lower the heat. Scrape plums and syrup into a bowl and chill for at least 1 hour. (Plum compote can be made up to a week ahead.)

3. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

4. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together the cream and egg.

5. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt (or you can do this in a food processor). Using a fork, pastry cutter or your fingertips, cut butter into flour until the mixture forms coarse crumbs (or pulse in a food processor). Drizzle in as much of the cream mixture as you need to make a smooth, moist but not wet dough. Save remaining cream-egg mixture for brushing.

6. Turn dough out onto prepared baking sheet. Pat into a 1 1/4-inch thick round. Using a paring knife, cut 8 wedge-shaped scones (as though you were cutting slices of pie) and push them apart on the baking sheet to separate them 1/2 inch apart. Brush dough with remaining cream-egg mixture, or use more cream if you’ve run out of the mixture.

7. Using your fingertips, make a deep indentation about 1 inch in diameter in the center of each scone. Tuck some plum into the hole. Transfer pan to oven and bake until uniformly golden brown, 15 to 17 minutes. Cool 5 minutes on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve scones with extra plum compote and butter on the side if you like.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Fish-Fragrant Eggplant


This Sunday October 5th will be the last day of the fifth season of the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, so be sure to stock up on pastured chicken, lamb, and pork cuts from Fair Valley Farm and fresh produce and preserves from Good Food Easy at Sweetwater Farm. Once the season is over, consider signing up for CSAs with our market venders. This final market Sunday you can expect to find:

Fresh
winter squash: turkish turban, acorn, delicata, and pumpkins (delicious in salads)
Gravenstein apples, Asian pears and bartlett pears from SLO farm (make apple sauce)
watermelon and cantaloupes
eggplants (try the addictive fish-fragrant eggplant dish below)
tomatoes and sweet and hot peppers (make and end of the season pasta primavera)
corn and tomatillos (make salsa) 
green and yellow beans (put away some green bean pickles)
potatoes, baby beets, and broccoli (delicious roasted)
fennel, cucumbers, kohlrabi, carrots, and radish (make sushi rolls)
crookneck squash, summer squash, and zucchini (make ratatouille)
cabbage (green, red, savoy) (make some barley and bean soup)
radicchio, chard, kale, lettuce, including bagged mix (make some kale pesto pizza)
garlic and fresh herbs (basil, oregano, sage, thyme) and home-grown lemon grass

Preserves, Beans, and Grains
From Sweet Creek Foods:
Dill Pickles, Chili Dill Pickles, Bread 'N Butter Pickles, Pickle Relish
Blueberry, Strawberry, Blackberry, and Raspberry Fruit Spreads
Enchilada Sauce and Salsa
From SLO Farm: Applesauce
Assorted beans and grains from Camas Country Mill


Here's a guest post from my husband, who shares his secrets for making one of my favorite Sichuan 
dishes, fish-fragrant eggplant. 


We have been buying lots of eggplant this summer, and almost all of it is for making "fish-fragrant eggplant" or yu xiang qie zi. This dish doesn't actually contain fish, but gets its name because the same flavorings are often used in Sichuan fish dishes.


The recipe I make is adapted from Fuchsia Dunlap's Every Grain of RiceIt makes a very satisfying meal eaten over rice, along with some some Sichuan dry-fried green beans and spicy cucumber salad


Fish Fragrant Eggplant
Adapted from Fuchsia Dunlap's Every Grain of Rice

2 long eggplants or 4 small eggplants
Salt
Cooking oil, for pan-frying
1 tablespoons Sichuan broad bean paste (also called ma po paste, or Doubanjiang)
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorn
1 spicy fresh pepper such as a cherry bomb (optional)
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
2/3 cup (150ml) chicken stock
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon potato or tapioca flour mixed with one tablespoon cold water
2 teaspoons Chinkiang vinegar
4 tablespoons finely sliced spring onion greens

First, slice the eggplants into 2 inch sections, then split the sections into 4-8 pieces. Place in a colander and salt while turning. This helps release liquid which makes for a better frying. Let sit for 15 minutes. 

While the eggplant is sitting, slice the ginger and garlic. Cover the bottom of a wok with canola or other high-heat oil and heat on high. Add the eggplant (it may take two batches) and cook. Don't turn too frequently since you want them to get a nice golden brown sear.  Remove to drain on paper towels (cook the second batch if needed), pour off all but 1 Tbsp oil, and turn the heat down. 

Next, stir in the broad bean paste. I sprinkle in some Sichuan peppercorn at this point as well. Once they become fragrant, turn off the heat and add the garlic and ginger and optional fresh pepper. It is important not to burn these! If the heat looks under control, turn in back on to medium low until the ginger and garlic are cooked. 

Then pour in the chicken stock and add the sugar, add back the eggplant so it draws in the sauce. Add the potato or tapioca flour to thicken, stirring gently. Splash in the vinegar and the sliced green onion and enjoy!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Broccoli, Chickpea, and Lamb Chorizo Orecchiette


This Sunday at at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, you can look forward to a selection of pastured chicken, lamb, and pork cuts from Fair Valley Farm and beautiful fresh cut flower bouquets from Tiger Lily Art CompanyGood Food Easy at Sweetwater Farm will have the following offerings:  

Fresh
winter squash: turkish turban, acorn, delicata, and pumpkins (time for fall soup)
Gravenstein apples, Asian pears and bartlett pears from SLO farm (make apple sauce)
watermelon and cantaloupes
corn and tomatillos (make salsa) 
tomatoes, including cherries and romas (make tomato soup)
eggplants and sweet and hot peppers of all kinds (roast some for romesco sauce)
green and yellow beans (make a green bean salad with almonds and apricots)
potatoes and baby beets (grill in bundles)
broccoli (make this pasta)
fennel, cucumbers, kohlrabi, carrots, and radish (make sushi rolls)
crookneck squash, summer squash, and zucchini (try Erica's recipe published in the RG)
cabbage (green, red, savoy) (stir fry with seeds)
radicchio, chard, kale, lettuce, including bagged mix (make a chard and bacon tart)
turnips and delicata squash (saute in a salad, below)
garlic and fresh herbs (basil, oregano, sage, thyme) and home-grown lemon grass

Preserves, Beans, and Grains
From Sweet Creek Foods:
Dill Pickles, Chili Dill Pickles, Bread 'N Butter Pickles, Pickle Relish
Blueberry, Strawberry, Blackberry, and Raspberry Fruit Spreads
Enchilada Sauce and Salsa
From SLO Farm: Applesauce
Assorted beans and grains from Camas Country Mill


The chillier fall weather that arrived last week demanded heartier fare for dinner. The Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market provides one stop shopping for this one pot meal of Fair Valley Farm's lamb chorizo, Camas Country Mill's chickpeas, and Sweetwater Farm's sprouted broccoli.


If you plan ahead, cooking the chickpeas provides a flavorful broth for the sauce, and the chorizo provides all the seasoning you need for a satisfying meal for fall.




Broccoli Rabe, Chickpea, and Lamb Chorizo Orecchiette
serves four
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1/2 lb lamb chorizo
4 cloves garlic
1 lb sprouted or regular broccoli
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb orecchiette
1 cup reserved cooking water from the chickpeas or the pasta
parmesan cheese for serving

1. It's best to used dried chickpeas for this recipe and reserve some of the cooking liquid for the sauce, but you could also use a can of chickpeas (rinsed) and reserve some of the pasta water for the sauce. To cook the chickpeas, rinse and soak overnight if you have time. In a heavy pan, cover add the drained chickpeas and enough fresh water to cover them by an inch, and a bay leaf. Bring to a boil and simmer over very low heat, partially covered, until the beans are cooked through, about 90 minutes. Stir occasionally and add more water if needed to keep them completely submerged. When the chickpeas are cooked, salt the water generously and allow them to sit for at least 10 minutes. Strain the chickpeas and reserve the cooking liquid to be used in the pasta sauce and for future soup stock or risottos. 1 cup of dried chickpeas will yield about 2 cups of cooked chickpeas. You might as well treat yourself to a bag of Camas Country Mill chickpeas and cook up the whole lot. They freeze well, and you will thank yourself later.

2. Set a pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. 

3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the lamb chorizo and cook as you break into pieces (you can cook the whole pound portion and save half for another meal), until the meat is cooked through. 

4. While the meat is cooking, cut the broccoli into bite sized pieces and mince the garlic. 

5. Put in the pasta once the water comes to a boil.

6. Once the sausage is cooked, remove it with a slotted spoon to a bowl and pour off all but 1 Tbsp of the fat. Add the olive oil to the pan along with the garlic and cook for a minute until it is fragrant. Then add the broccoli and cook for about five minutes. Add the drained chickpeas and roll in the oil to coat. Now add some cooking liquid from the chickpeas (or use some pasta water) and simmer it for a few more minutes until the broccoli is cooked through but still firm. Stir in the cooked sausage. Taste and add salt if needed.

7. Drain the pasta when it is done. In a large serving bowl, toss the pasta with the sausage, broccoli, and chickpeas, and add a little more cooking liquid if it seems dry. Serve with plenty of freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Turnip and Millet Salad with Smoked Trout


This Sunday at at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, you can look forward to a selection of pastured chicken, lamb, and pork cuts from Fair Valley Farm and beautiful fresh cut flower bouquets from Tiger Lily Art CompanyGood Food Easy at Sweetwater Farm will have the following offerings:  

Fresh
Gravenstein apples, Asian pears and bartlett pears from SLO farm (make apple sauce)
watermelon and cantaloupes
corn and tomatillos (make salsa) 
lots of tomatoes, including cherries and flats of roams (make tomato soup)
sweet and hot peppers of all kinds (roast some for romesco sauce)
green and yellow beans (make a green bean salad with almonds and apricots)
potatoes and baby beets (grill in bundles)
broccoli and eggplants (grill and top with tomato and feta)
fennel, cucumbers, kohlrabi, carrots, and radish (make sushi rolls)
crookneck squash, summer squash, and zucchini (try Erica's recipe published in the RG)
cabbage (green, red, savoy) (stir fry with seeds)
radicchio, chard, kale, lettuce, including bagged mix (make a chard and bacon tart)
turnips and delicata squash (saute in a salad, below)
garlic and fresh herbs (basil, oregano, sage, thyme) and home-grown lemon grass

Preserves, Beans, and Grains
From Sweet Creek Foods:
Dill Pickles, Chili Dill Pickles, Bread 'N Butter Pickles, Pickle Relish
Blueberry, Strawberry, Blackberry, and Raspberry Fruit Spreads
Enchilada Sauce and Salsa
From SLO Farm: Applesauce
Assorted beans and grains from Camas Country Mill



Turnips are an old fashioned vegetable, but I think they are due for a revival, just as the names Matilda, Mabel, and Maxine are inching their way up the baby name rankings


One problem for root vegetables' image is their typical old fashioned preparation: boiled beyond recognition. More frequently today, one would find them roasted, but this involves the commitment of turning on your oven, which may discourage whipping them up for a quick lunch. I want to remind you that turnips (and other root vegetables like radishes) are delicious sautéed on the stovetop, taking no longer than their more familiar cousin, the carrot. Here I combined both tubers in a sauté with some leftover millet, that I layered on a bed of lettuce and topped with tinned smoked trout for a delicious and quick weekend lunch. 




Turnip and Millet Salad with Smoked Trout
for two

1 cup cooked millet
2 regular or up to 8 baby turnips
2 regular or 4 small carrots
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt to taste
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 large handfuls of lettuce
1 tin smoked trout in olive oil (110 g)

1. To prepared the millet, you could cook 1/3 cup millet grains with 2/3 cups water, simmered for about 15 minutes, yielding about 1 cup cooked millet. But you might as well cook up a larger volume (1 part millet to 2 parts water) and use in other dishes.

2. Scrub the turnips and carrots and trim their tops and tails. Cut the turnips into sixths or eighths to make bite-sized pieces. Halve the carrot lengthwise and cut into bite-sized chunks.

3. Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Coat the pan with the olive oil and the add the turnips and carrots and a pinch of salt. Cook, tossing every so often, until they are cooked through and browned nicely on some sides, about ten minutes. Add the millet to the pan and stir to coat in the olive oil for one minute. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Turn of the heat and stir in the vinegar. You could serve this warm or at room temperature.

4. Arrange the lettuce on two plates. Top each with half of the turnip, carrot, and millet sauté. Layer on the smoked trout, and drizzle some of the olive oil from the tin over each salad. Enjoy.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa


This Sunday at at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, you can look forward to a selection of pastured chicken, lamb, and pork cuts from Fair Valley Farm and beautiful fresh cut flower bouquets from Tiger Lily Art CompanyGood Food Easy at Sweetwater Farm will have the following offerings:  

Fresh
corn (add to fish tacosand tomatillos (make the salsa below) 
watermelon, cantaloupes, peaches, and Italian prune plums
Gravenstein apples, Asian pears and bartlett pears from SLO farm (make a barley salad)
lots of tomatoes, including cherries and flats of romas (restock your sauce supply)
sweet and hot peppers of all kinds (for salsas)
green and yellow beans, potatoes, and baby beets 
eggplants and broccoli (make a roasted salad)
fennel, cucumbers, kohlrabi, carrots, and radish (toppings for peanut sauce noodles)
crookneck squash, summer squash, and zucchini (try Erica's recipe published in the RG)
cabbage (green, red, savoy) (make some mung bean and kimchi pancakes)
radicchio, chard, kale, lettuce, including bagged mix (make kale pesto)
turnips and delicata squash (try roasted with spices)
garlic and fresh herbs (basil, oregano, sage, thyme) and home-grown lemon grass

Preserves, Beans, and Grains
From Sweet Creek Foods:
Dill Pickles, Chili Dill Pickles, Bread 'N Butter Pickles, Pickle Relish
Blueberry, Strawberry, Blackberry, and Raspberry Fruit Spreads
Enchilada Sauce and Salsa
From SLO Farm: Applesauce
Assorted beans and grains from Camas Country Mill



Pan roasted tomatillos make delicious salsa. Their natural bright tartness, combined with the charred flavors from the roasting, are all that you need for a perfect topping for tacos. 



Rick Bayless Mexican Everyday has a couple of recipes for pan roasted tomatillo salsas. I've often made his version with chipotle peppers, but this time decided to use some fresh jalapeños from Sweetwater Farm.



We slathered this salsa on fish tacos with pan roasted corn kernels for an easy weeknight Farmers Market feast.



Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
8-10 tomatillos
1-2 cloves garlic
1-2 spicy peppers such as jalapeños
salt

To roast the tomatillos, you will want to use a cast iron or nonstick skillet, or to avoid a messy cleanup, you can line a regular skillet with foil. Heat the skillet over medium high heat, and place in the unpeeled garlic cloves and whole jalapeños. Meanwhile, remove the husks from the tomatillos, rinse them, and cut them in half. Turn the jalapeños and garlic and cook until they are charred on both sides. Remove from the pan to cool. Place the tomatillo halves into the hot pan, cut side down, and allow to cook until they start to soften and collapse, turn more yellow, and char on the bottom. Flip them over and cook them for a few minutes on the other side. Remove the skillet from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. While the tomatillos are cooking, peel the garlic and place in a blender jar. Remove the stems from the jalapeño and all or some of the seeds, according to your preference for spiciness, and add these to the blender jar. Once the tomatillos have cooled a bit, add them to the blender jar, including all the charred bits from the bottom of the pan. Add a generous pinch of salt and blend until smooth. Taste and add more salt if needed. Pour into a bowl. You could mix in chopped cilantro and diced white onions if you like. Enjoy over tacos, with chips, on frittatas, or thin with stock for an enchilada sauce.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Fermented Green Bean Pickles


This Sunday at at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, you can look forward to a selection of pastured chicken, lamb, and pork cuts from Fair Valley Farm and beautiful fresh cut flower bouquets from Tiger Lily Art CompanyGood Food Easy at Sweetwater Farm will have the following offerings:  

Fresh
lots of corn (make savory corn pudding)
watermelon, cantaloupes, peaches, and Italian prune plums (nice waffle toppings)
Gravenstein apples, Asian pears and bartlett pears from SLO farm (put on pizza)
lots of tomatoes, including cherries and flats of romas (restock your sauce supply)
sweet and hot peppers of all kinds (use in bean pickles)
green and yellow beans (make bean pickles)
eggplants and broccoli (try these grilled eggplant dips)
fennel, cucumbers, and tomatillos (make pan roasted tomatillo salsa
potatoes, baby beets, kohlrabi, carrots, and daikon radish (make banh mi)
crookneck squash, summer squash, and zucchini (bake a gratin)
cabbage (green, red, savoy) (great in slow cooker soup)
radicchio, chard, kale, lettuce, including bagged mix (make kale Salade Lyonnaise)
garlic and fresh herbs (basil, oregano, sage, thyme) and home-grown lemon grass

Preserves, Beans, and Grains
From Sweet Creek Foods:
Dill Pickles, Chili Dill Pickles, Bread 'N Butter Pickles, Pickle Relish
Blueberry, Strawberry, Blackberry, and Raspberry Fruit Spreads
Enchilada Sauce and Salsa
From SLO Farm: Applesauce
Assorted beans and grains from Camas Country Mill



Having experimented with fermenting cabbage, wheat, and cream, I thought I'd try my hand at some fermented green bean pickles. I followed the general guidelines for fermented yard-long beans from Liana Krissoff's Canning for a New Generation, but added some of Sweetwater Farm's cherry bomb peppers, garlic, and chives for flavoring.  




Just as with these other ferments, I was amazed at how easily I could harness the Lactobacillus workhorses of the microbial world. Within a week of resting on my counter, quietly bubbling away, my beans had transformed into tart and sour pickles, infused with spiciness and the sharp flavors of garlic and chives, the perfect accompaniment for a corn, summer squash and millet succotash, a green salad, and my latest loaf of sourdough bread.



Fermented Green Bean Pickles
adapted from Canning for a New Generation, makes one quart
8 ounces green beans
6 cloves garlic
2 or 3 spicy peppers, such as cherry bombs
12 chives
1/4 cup pure kosher salt
8 cups water

Wipe off the beans, trim the stem ends, and cut into 1 inch lengths. Peel and coarsely chop the garlic. Stem, seed, and chop the peppers. Chop the chives into 1 inch lengths. Place all the ingredients into a clean quart-sized mason jar, preferably wide mouthed. Combine the salt and water in a large pitcher and stir until the salt is dissolved. Pour the brine over the beans in the mason jar, and place the jar in a bowl. Pour the remaining brine into a gallon-sized resealable bag, seal, and place the bag on top of the beans in the jar such that the bag covers the jar mouth and submerges the beans into their brine. Cover the container with a clean towel and let the beans ferment at room temperature. After a couple of days, you should see the fermentation process happening as small bubbles form along the beans. Skim off any scum that forms on the surface. Taste the beans and continue fermenting until they are the desired sourness, about one week. Seal and refrigerate in the brine for several weeks, or drain and freeze in freezer bags for up to 6 months.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Slow Roasted Romas and Olive Oil Poached Tuna Salad


This Sunday at at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, you can look forward to a selection of pastured chicken, lamb, and pork cuts from Fair Valley Farm, handcrafted vegan hazelnut cheese from Avellana Creamery, and beautiful fresh cut flower bouquets from Tiger Lily Art CompanyGood Food Easy at Sweetwater Farm will have the following offerings:  

Fresh
corn on the cob (make corn and tomato salsa for fish tacos)
cantaloupes, peaches, and Italian prune plums (for Zwetschgenkuchen)
Gravenstein apples from SLO farm (make some roasted apple sauce)
lots of tomatoes, including cherries and flats of roams (slow roast, below)
sweet and hot peppers of all kinds peppers (pick up some spicy ones for these lettuce wraps)
eggplants and broccoli (try this roasted eggplant and broccoli salad)
green and yellow beans and potatoes (make a Salade Nicoise, below)
tomatillos (try this slow cooker pork and beans
daikon radish, fennel, and cucumbers (make pickles)
baby beets, carrots, and kohlrabi (try grilled)
crookneck squash, summer squash, and zucchini (grill with falafel)
cabbage (green, red, savoy) (make this Chinese cabbage with vinegar)
radicchio, chard, kale, lettuce, including bagged mix 
garlic and fresh herbs (basil, oregano, sage, thyme) and home-grown lemon grass

Preserves, Beans, and Grains
From Sweet Creek Foods:
Dill Pickles, Chili Dill Pickles, Bread 'N Butter Pickles, Pickle Relish
Blueberry, Strawberry, Blackberry, and Raspberry Fruit Spreads
Enchilada Sauce and Salsa
From SLO Farm: Applesauce
Assorted beans and grains from Camas Country Mill


Be sure to savor the end of summer this Labor Day weekend with a trip to the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market for some pretty tomatoes and flowers, and perhaps a stop at Eugene City Bakery for coffee and treats. Labor Day weekend is also a good time to devote to preserving some of summer's bounty for the winter months ahead.


This past weekend I slow roasted about six pounds of Sweeter Farm roma tomatoes, a project that requires very little effort (halve the tomatoes) but lots of time (10 to 12 hours at 200 degrees C) and is best undertaken overnight, meaning that you awaken to intense tomato fumes and a craving for an English breakfast. These tomatoes can be frozen for addition to pasta sauces, bean or grain salads, pizza, and wintertime BLTs, but we already made major inroads into our stash before I could freeze any of them. They proved to be especially tasty as a bed on which to layer olive oil poached fresh Oregon albacore tuna for a fancy Salade Nicoise. You can't see the roasted tomatoes in the photo below, but they are doing their job infusing the fish with extra flavor from below. I'll be picking up another flat of roma tomatoes this weekend for additional Labor Day projects.


Slow Roasted Roma Tomatoes
about 6 pounds of tomatoes for two large baking sheets 
Wash the tomatoes and slice them in half. Drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet, spread out the oil over the bottom of the pan, and sprinkle on a generous pinch of salt. You could also scatter over some fresh herbs such as thyme or marjoram and a few whole cloves of garlic. Arrange the roma tomato halves snuggly on the sheet. I arranged them cut side down, which let them stew in the olive oil, but I've also seen recipes that put them cut side up, which would dry them out more and caramelize them a little. I fit about 3 lbs of tomatoes per large baking sheet. Slow roast them at 200 degrees for 10-12 hours. This works well if you do it overnight, although the delicious roasted tomato smells may wake you up early in the morning. Cool them and freeze them in freezer bags for use in salads, pasta dishes, pizzas, BLTs, etc.

Olive Oil Poached Tuna
fresh albacore tuna (about 4 ounces per person)
olive oil
salt and pepper
4 peeled garlic cloves
sprigs of fresh herbs such as thyme and marjoram

Slice the tuna into 1 1/2 inch cutlet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and allow the fish to warm up to room temperature. Arrange the tuna pieces into the smallest saucepan that will hold them in a single layer and then pour over enough olive oil to cover the fish. Add the garlic cloves and herbs, submerging them as well. Bring the oil to a gentle simmer over low heat. You can monitor the temperature of the oil with a kitchen thermometer, and it should not get above 150 degrees. Cook the tuna for about 10 minutes or until desired opacity, then turn off the heat and remove the tuna from the oil. Smash the garlic cloves into the oil and allow to cool. Strain the oil and reserve. This fragrant oil can be refrigerated for a week and used in salad dressing (see below) or in a sauce such as a quick puttanesca made with slow roasted roma tomatoes.

Slow Roasted Romas and Olive Oil Poached Tuna Salad
slow roasted roma tomatoes (recipe above)
olive oil poached tuna (recipe above)
green and yellow beans, trimmed and boiled until just tender (about 4 minutes)
small potatoes boiled until cooked through
lettuce leaves, washed
cherry tomatoes
hard boiled eggs (add to cold water, turn off heat when water boils, let sit 6 minutes, drain)
salt and pepper
1/3 cup strained olive oil from the tuna poaching
3 Tbsp sherry vinegar

On a large platter, arrange a layer of slow roasted roma tomatoes. As soon as the tuna is poached, place it on the layer of roma tomatoes to infuse the flavors. Around the edges of the platter, arrange lettuce leaves, potatoes, beans, and halved hard boiled eggs. Scatter the cherry tomatoes over the tuna. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. When you are ready to serve, whisk together the oil and vinegar and pour most over the perimeter lettuce, beans, and potatoes and a little over the central fish. Enjoy with fresh bread.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Zucchini Gratin


This Sunday at at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, you can look forward to a selection of pastured chicken, lamb, and pork cuts from Fair Valley Farm, handcrafted vegan hazelnut cheese from Avellana Creamery, and beautiful fresh cut flower bouquets from Tiger Lily Art CompanyGood Food Easy at Sweetwater Farm will have the following offerings:  

Fresh
lots of tomatoes, including cherries and flats of romas (roasted and sprinkle with basil)
sweet and hot peppers of all kinds peppers and eggplants (make ratatouille)
Gravenstein apples from SLO farm (delicious in salad with scallions and bacon)
NW peaches and blackberries
green and yellow beans (make a school color salmon salad)
tomatillos and daikon radish (try tofu banh mi
fennel and cucumbers (make pickles)
baby beets and new potatoes
carrots and kohlrabi (try roasted with cumin)
crookneck squash, summer squash, and zucchini (try this gratin)
cabbage (green, red, savoy) (make kimchi)
radicchio, chard, kale, lettuce, including bagged mix 
garlic and fresh herbs (basil, oregano, sage, thyme) and home-grown lemon grass

Preserves, Beans, and Grains
From Sweet Creek Foods:
Dill Pickles, Chili Dill Pickles, Bread 'N Butter Pickles, Pickle Relish
Blueberry, Strawberry, Blackberry, and Raspberry Fruit Spreads
Enchilada Sauce and Salsa
From SLO Farm: Applesauce
Assorted beans and grains from Camas Country Mill


On a recent trip to my sister's, I rediscovered a couple of childhood cookbooks that my mother had purchased for us in France. The two volumes from Pomme D'Api feature simple recipes accompanied by pictures of charming French five year olds in the process of executing each dish. I remember pouring over these photos with fascination, marveling at these strange contemporaries preparing sardine toasts and ham rolls in aspic. American children's cookbooks are typically devoted to sweet, baked goods, and even the better ones (like Mollie Katzen's Pretend Soup, source of great popovers), don't stray from a limit repertoire of perceived "kid friendly" fare. The idea that children will only eat a few bland, vegetable-free dishes, epitomized by the uninspired children's menus in US restaurants, doesn't exist in France, where children are raised to eat four course meals in nursery school. For my sister and I, these fascinating volumes showed small children not only consuming "grow up" food, but preparing it with great confidence. And they inspired us to try to do the same. The greatest revelation was that many of these new dishes were easy and delicious.




One of our favorites was "un gratin de courgette," which transformed zucchini, an under-loved and over-abundant summertime product of our garden, into a decadent, pillowy soufflé infused with the strong flavor of gruyère and the richness of crème fraîche. Of course, upon rediscovering these volumes, my sister and I had to recreate this gratin. When we baked it in our childhood, we'd had to make all sorts of guesses about the ingredients list (volume of "un petit pot de crème fraîche" or "un verre de lait"?) but now with internet searching, we could  track down these numbers. The final dish was just as wonderful as I remembered, the perfect centerpiece for a weekend brunch with roasted plum tomatoes and fresh green beans, but unfortunately our American children would have nothing to do with it. I'm hopeful that after pouring over these books, their attitudes will change.



Un Gratin de Courgette
1 kg (2.2 lb or 4 to 5 medium sized) zucchini
3 eggs
100 g (scan 1/2 cup) crème fraîche (which you can make yourself, or use sour cream)
120 ml (1/2 cup) milk
100 g (3.5 ounces) grated gruyère cheese
salt and pepper

1. Gather your ingredients. The recipe calls for "courgette déjà cuites et bien égouttées" (zucchini already cooked and well drained). We decided to slice, steam, and drain them in a colander, which worked well to remove excess liquid that would leach into the gratin. One could also shred, salt, and strain the zucchini and use directly or sauté first.

2. Beat the eggs.

3. Mix in the crème fraîche, milk, grated gruyère, salt and pepper.

4. Mix in the cooked and well-drained zucchini.

5. Pour the mixture into a buttered baking dish.

6. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.