Friday, July 24, 2015

Swiss Chard Fritters and Grilled Swiss Chard Stems

This promises to be a beautiful summer weekend, so plan in a trip to the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market to pick up your week's groceries from a wide selection of summer produce from Good Food Easy at Sweetwater Farmpastured meats from Fair Valley Farm, and beautiful fresh cut flower bouquets from Tiger Lily Art Company. Be sure to grab a bunch of greens to work into your week's meals.

Last Sunday I picked up this lovely rainbow chard, along with onions, zucchini, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, tomatoes and some ground lamb. Sunday evening we had grilled lamb burgers and I caramelized onions for a pot of mujaddaraTo accompany the lamb burgers, I made a tomato and cucumber salad and we grilled the chard stems for a simplified version of these recipe with anchovy vinaigrette. The stems are first quickly blanched, then marinated, charred on the grill, and tossed back into the marinate bowl. They were tender and pungent and made one regret ever having relegated a chard stem to the compost heap.

After blanching the stems, I also blanched the chard leaves for the following evening's dinner, and, while the grill was going, roasted extra zucchini, peppers and a whole eggplant wrapped in aluminum foil and nestled directly into the coals. 

Monday night's dinner was these Swiss chard fritters from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi's "Jerusalem: A Cookbook." They are delicate pancakes, held together with tangy feta cheese, and bursting with green flavors (I used chard, parsley  cilantro, and mint). They made a perfect meatless Monday meal, along with more mujaddara, grilled vegetables, and a roasted eggplant salad. Two delicious meals from a couple bunches of chard.

Grilled Swiss Chard Stems

Stems from 2 bunches Swiss chard (save greens for another use)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 anchovy fillets
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Splash sherry vinegar

1. Wash the chard stems, cut off any dark edges, and cut into 5 to 6-inch lengths.

2. Blanch stems in salted boiling water in batches till just tender, about 2 minutes per batch, then transfer to an ice bath. It is very important to follow all the rules of blanching and not overcrowd the pot. Any shortcuts here results in the color turning black.

3. Dry the blanched stems. In a pretty bowl large enough to hold the stems, combine the olive oil, garlic, and anchovy fillets and use the back of a fork to mash them into a paste. Toss the stems in the paste to coat.

4. Place the stems on the grill in a single layer. Grill long and slow until they become quite dark and charred but not burned. When they are done, transfer them back to the bowl with the anchovy paste, add a splash of sherry vinegar, some freshly ground pepper, and salt to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Swiss Chard Fritters

14 ounces (2 bunches) Swiss chard leaves, stems removed
½ cup Italian parsley leaves
¼ cup cilantro leaves
¼ cup mint leaves
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 large eggs
3 ounces crumbled feta cheese (1/2 cup)
 Olive oil
 Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add chard and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from pot and drain well, patting leaves dry with a paper or kitchen towel.

2. Place chard in food processor with herbs, sugar, flour, garlic and eggs. Pulse until well blended. Fold in feta by hand.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, spoon in 1 heaping tablespoon of mixture for each fritter (you should be able to fit three fritters per batch). Press down gently on fritter to flatten. Cook 1 to 2 minutes per side, until golden brown. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Add another tablespoon oil to pan and repeat. Serve warm, with lemon wedges (optional).

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Roasted Fennel and Anchovy Pizza

This Sunday at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market you can look forward to pastured meets from Fair Valley Farm and fresh produce from Sweetwater Farm. For the past several weeks, Sweetwater Farm has had delicate fennel bulbs, which are wonderful paired with strong flavored seafood, as in this fennel and sardine pasta.

I'd picked up a fennel bulb at the market with plans for a quick Monday night pasta dinner, but under pressure from a powerful pizza lobby in the household, I mixed up a batch of Jim Lahey's no-knead pizza dough on Sunday evening instead. The next evening, when looking around for interesting toppings, I came across the bulb and realized it would be a perfect addition to an anchovy pizza. I slid our cast iron griddle into the preheating oven, sliced the fennel bulb, tossed it with olive oil and salt, and then spread it onto the hot griddle to sear. 

A few minutes in the preheating oven produced caramelized and soften fennel that melded beautifully with pungent anchovies and fresh basil on my new favorite pizza.

Roasted Fennel and Anchovy Pizza
1 recipe of Jim Lahey's no-knead pizza dough (makes four small pizzas)
tomato sauce (preferably made with fresh romas)
I small fennel bulb per pizza
olive oil and salt
6 to 8 anchovy fillets per pizza
fresh mozzarella balls, sliced
red pepper flakes
handful of basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees and insert a cast iron griddle or baking sheet to preheat. On another shelf, place a pizza stone if you are using one. Trim the fronds from the fennel bulb and slice the bulb into thin wedges. Toss the fennel pieces in a drizzle of olive oil to coat and sprinkle with sea salt. When the pan is hot, spread the fennel pieces over it in a single layer. Roast the fennel pieces for about 8 minutes, until nicely browned, then flip and roast for another 3 to 5 minutes on the second side until they are soft through.

Divide the dough into four balls, flour them lightly, and shape them according to Lahey's instructions (or use a rolling pin to roll them out on a silicone mat). Sprinkle polenta on a baking sheet or pizza peel and place the pizza dough on top. If you like a crisper crust, pre-bake the crust for about 5 minutes. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce over the dough, distribute over the roasted fennel, anchovies, and basil leaves. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and distribute over the sliced mozzarella. Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes until the crust in browned and the cheese is bubbling. Enjoy.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Roasted Eggplant and Basil Spread

At the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market this Sunday, you can look forward to these beautiful little orb eggplants from Sweetwater FarmWonderful things happen when you roast eggplants, as in these Middle Eastern and Chinese roasted eggplant dishes.

In Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi's Jerusalem, they present a version of Baba Ganoush that is light and refreshing and lacks the traditional sesame paste. The eggplants are infused with smokiness by roasting them directly over the flames of a gas range. Rather than take the eggplants to the point when they were dripping messy juices over the range, I followed David Lebovitz's strategy of roasting followed by baking.

After the eggplants were soft and collapsed, I scooped out the flesh and whipped up an even simpler version of a roasted eggplant spread, seasoned with basil, lemon, sea salt, and olive oil. This is delicious served on toasted bread or as a vegetable side dish for a post-farmers market feast. 

Roasted Eggpant and Basil Spread
4 small globe eggplants
zest and juice from one lemon
1 handful basil leaves, torn
2 Tbsp olive oil
sea salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees  Place the eggplants directly over the flames of a gas range and roast, turning occasionally, until they are charred all over, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a baking dish and bake for an additional 15 minutes or so until they are soft when pierced through. Allow the eggplants to cool a little, then halve and scoop out the flesh from the charred skin. Chop the flesh coarsely and combine in a bowl with the lemon zest and juice, basil, olive oil, and salt. Taste and add more lemon, olive oil, or salt if needed. Enjoy.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Miso Tofu Salad with an Egg on Top

If you get to the Fairmount Farmers Market early this Sunday, you might be lucky enough to pick up some of Fair Valley Farm's pasture raised eggs. 

If you also pick up an bunch of greens, some basil, a cucumber, some baby potatoes, and a handful of these Japanese eggplants from Sweetwater Farm, then you'll have the fixings for a satisfying dinner salad, perfect for these hot days.

I baked sliced eggplant and tofu in a miso marinade in my toaster oven, to avoid heating the kitchen. Over a bed of chopped kale and basil leaves, I layered on the eggplant and tofu with baby potatoes, cucumber spears, and a six-minute egg, and drizzled it all with the sweet and spicy dipping sauce left over from last week's chicken recipe. A delicious farm to table dinner, without generating much heat.

Miso Tofu Salad with an Egg on Top
makes four dinner salads
Miso marinate
1 tablespoon white miso
1/4 cup hot water
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil

4 Japanese eggplants, sliced on the diagonal into 1 inch slices
1 block firm tofu, sliced into 8 slabs and pre-frozen or pressed to remove liquid
1 bunch kale or lettuce
~16 basil leaves
1 large or 2 small cucumbers
16 baby potatoes
4 eggs

For the sweet and hot dipping sauce (1/2 recipe):
1/4 cup rice or cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fish sauce

1. Prepare the miso marinade by whisking together all of the ingredients directly in a toaster oven pan or small baking dish. Dip both sides of the eggplant slices and tofu slabs into the marinate and let soak for at least 30 minutes at room temperature or for a day in the refrigerator. Bake at 350 degrees in a toaster oven or stove for 30 to 40 minutes until the eggplants are sift and have started to char and the tofu is dry and firm. Slice the tofu into strips and reserve.

2. Prepare the dipping sauce. In a small saucepan, heat the vinegar to a boil. Add the sugar, stirring until it dissolves, then lower the heat to a simmer for 5 minutes. In the meantime, pound or mash the garlic and salt into a paste in a mortar or on a cutting board with the side of your knife. Stir the red pepper flakes into the sauce. When the vinegar and sugar mixture is done simmering, stir in the garlic paste and fish sauce and let the sauce cool to room temperature. 

3. Prepare the remaining salad ingredients. Boil the baby potatoes until cooked, about 15 minutes, then drain and reserve. For the eggs, set a small pot of water to boil and the carefully lower in each egg with a slotted spoon. Lower the heat and cook for 6 minutes for eggs with yokes that are still a little runny, or up to 10 minutes for firm yokes. Transfer to a bowl with ice water to cool and peel gently. Peel the cucumber if desired and cut into spears. Rinse the kale leaves, remove the stems with your hands or a knife, and chop into small pieces. Rinse the basil leaves, tear into pieces and mix with the kale leaves.

4. Assemble the salads. On four plates, distribute the kale and basil leaves. Layer on eggplant slices, tofu strips, baby potatoes, cucumber spears, and an egg. Drizzle with a little of the dipping sauce and serve with more sauce on the side. Enjoy.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Thai Grilled Chicken with Hot and Sweet Dipping Sauce

This Sunday at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market you will be able to find a wide selection of pastured meats from Fair Valley Farm, beautiful fresh cut flower bouquets from Tiger Lily Art Company, and a bounty of produce from Good Food Easy at Sweetwater Farm.

If you are planning on grilling for the 4th of July, you couldn't do better than to pick up a pasture raised chicken from Fair Valley Farm, break it down into parts, and grilling it with this Thai pepper paste from Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid's Hot Sour Salty Sweet.

The recipe calls for cilantro roots, which sounded pretty exotic, but cilantro stems produced a wonderful paste, combined with garlic and pepper corns, that infused the chicken with flavor and produced a wonderfully crisp coating during grilling. 

An essential ingredient for the dish is the sweet and spicy dipping sauce, which you should drizzle on generously at the table. It keeps in the refrigerator and makes a great addition to grilled vegetables or rice noodle salads. So celebrate the birthday of our great, inclusive country with a dish from afar.

Thai Grilled Chicken with Hot and Sweet Dipping Sauce
from Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid's Hot Sour Salty Sweet

For the peppercorn-cilantro root paste:
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons cilantro roots, chopped
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon fish sauce

In a mortar and pestle, or a small blender or food processor, pound or blend the peppercorns and garlic into a paste. Add the cilantro roots and salt and pound everything into a paste again. Stir in the fish sauce.

For the grilled chicken with sweet and hot dipping sauce:
1/2 cup rice or cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 to 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons fish sauce
3 pounds chicken parts, cut into 10 to 12 pieces total

For the dipping sauce: In a small saucepan, heat the vinegar to a boil. Add the sugar, stirring until it dissolves, then lower the heat to a simmer for 5 minutes. In the meantime, pound or mash the garlic and salt into a paste in a mortar or on a cutting board with the side of your knife. Stir the red pepper flakes into the sauce. When the vinegar and sugar mixture is done simmering, stir in the garlic paste and fish sauce and let the sauce cool to room temperature. 

For the grilled chicken: After you've stirred the fish sauce into the peppercorn-cilantro root paste, toss the chicken parts in the mixture and marinate at room temperature for at least an hour or up to three hours in the fridge. 

Prepare your grill. Remove the chicken from the marinade and grill until it is a beautifully golden brown and its juices run clear. Serve alongside the dipping sauce.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Chard and Chipotle Tacos

This Sunday at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market you will be able to find a wide selection of pastured meats from Fair Valley Farm, beautiful fresh cut flower bouquets from Tiger Lily Art Company, and a bounty of spring produce from Good Food Easy at Sweetwater Farm.

I recommend picking up a at least one bunch of greens, even if you have no immediate culinary plans, because you will thank yourself later when you find you have the fixings for a quick weeknight dinner. For this lovely bunch of Sweetwater Farm rainbow chard, I turned to Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen for inspiration. One recipe that sounded delicious was his Tacos de Acelgas Guisadas con Crema (Tacos of Creamy Braised Chard, Potatoes and Poblanos), which starts with a base of roasted poblano chiles mixed into browned onions, then combined with braised potatoes and chard and finished with creme fraiche. 

For a quicker version of this, I replaced the roasted poblano chiles with a chipotle chile in adobo sauce (which I always have in the freezer, because I never use up a whole can), and omitted the potatoes. This creamy, smokey, spicy chard cooked up in the same time it took to warm up tortillas and some Lonesome Whistle beans I had cooked over the weekend, turning mundane bean tacos into an inspired meal.

Chard and Chipotle Tacos
(serves four)
chard topping
1 bunch chard
1 large onion
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, diced (freeze the remaining chiles from the can on a saran wrap covered baking sheet and transfer to a ziplock bag for long term freezer storage)
1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
salt to taste

for the tacos
corn tortillas
cooked pinto beans
rice (optional)
avocado slices

1. Set some rice to cook and start heating up the cooked beans. Peel and chop the onion. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add the oil and when it starts to shimmer, add the onions. Cook the onions with a pinch of salt, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until they are soft and have started to brown.

2. While the onions are browning, rinse the chard leaves, trim off the tips of the stems, and then cut the remaining stems from the leaves. Slice the stems into 1/4 inch slices and reserve. Slice the leaves into 1/4 inch slices and reserve. When the onions have started to brown, add the chard stems and a pinch of salt and continue cooking. Meanwhile, slice the avocado and start warming the tortillas. After about 5 minutes, when the chard stems are soft, add the chard leaves and another pinch of salt. Cook for a minute, then add in the chipotle chile. Cook for another minute or so until the chard leaves are soft, then add in the creme fraiche. Cook for another minute to warm and incorporate the creme fraiche, then remove from the heat.

3. Serve the warmed tortillas topped with beans, (and rice if you like) and the chard mixture, with avocado slices on the side. Enjoy.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Roasted Garlic Whistles and Zucchini

The sixth season of the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market kicked off last weekend with a bounty of spring produce from Good Food Easy at Sweetwater Farm and a wide selection of pastured meats from Fair Valley Farm.

One spring treat to pick up this Sunday is a bunch of garlic whistles or scapes. Last year I discovered that these are delicious grilled in salsa, but last Sunday, since I had the oven on for baking bread, I decided to toss my newly acquired garlic whistles in olive oil and salt on a sheet pan like kale chips. I added some baby zucchini slices to the pan for the last few minutes. The final dish was a delicious contrast in textures, with the garlic whistles adding the perfect, subtle punch of flavor to the delicate zucchini.

We had our roasted vegetable with these favorite sausages made with Fair Valley lamb, crunchy, farm fresh carrots and cucumbers, and mujaddara and spiced yogurt. It was a feast fit for celebrating the beginning of summer and the local farmers who feed us.

Roasted Garlic Whistles and Zucchini
1 bunch garlic whistles (scapes)
4-6 small zucchini
drizzle of olive oil
generous sprinkle of sea salt

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and place in a sheet pan. Rinse the garlic whistles, trim off their ends, and slice into 1 1/2 inch lengths. Transfer to a mixing bowl and toss with a drizzle of olive oil and a generous sprinkle of salt. Rinse the zucchini, trim off their ends, cut in half lengthwise and cut widthwise into 1/2 inch half moons. When the oven is hot, spread the oiled garlic whistles on the hot sheet pan and return to the oven. Toss the zucchini slices in the oily bowl, adding a sprinkle of salt and a bit more oil if needed to coat them. Roast the garlic whistles for about 7 minutes until they have started to char. Toss them in the pan and add the zucchini slices. Roast for another 3 minutes. Toss to flip the zucchini and roast them another minute or more if needed, until they have acquired some nice brown spots. Remove from the pan and serve. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Salmon with Sorrel Sauce

The start of the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market is just a week away, starting Sunday June 7, 10 AM-2 PM on the corner of Agate St. and 19th Ave., with fresh produce from Good Food Easy at Sweetwater Farm, pastured meat from Fair Valley Farm, and beautiful fresh cut flower bouquets from Tiger Lily Art Company. We've been enjoying our weekly Good Food Easy CSA throughout the year, and I especially appreciate how it brings new ingredients into our kitchen, like this lovely bunch of sorrel. 

With a new member of the family keeping us very busy, I was happy to discover a rapid and tasty salmon with sorrel sauce recipe on food52 from Mrs. Wheelbarrow. 

The original recipe prepares salmon medallions, but we kept it simple and broiled a whole filet. The creamy sauce was incredibly decadent, but the lemony freshness of the sorrel kept it bright. We feasted on our fish along with baby potatoes and salad, also from our CSA. You can look forward to all of this produce and more at the Farmer Market next weekend.

Salmon with Sorrel Sauce
adapted from Mrs. Wheelbarrow's recipe on food52serves 4
1 pound wild caught salmon filet
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups fresh sorrel leaves, chopped rough
1/2 cup chives
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper

1. Adjust an oven rack to be at the very top of the oven. Preheat the broiler. 

2. Prepare all ingredients and stage. This dish comes together quickly and you don't want to be scrambling. 

3. Place the salmon on a sheet pan lined with parchment. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the fish.

4. When the oven is ready, put the salmon under the broiler. It will take about 3-5 minutes. You can make a small incision with a paring knife to check if it is cooked to your taste.

5. While the salmon is broiling, prepare the sauce. In a large, wide skillet, melt the butter until it starts to toast. It should be golden brown. Add the sorrel, chervil and chives to the butter and coat quickly. Allow them to wilt a little, and then pour in the cream. Bring to a boil and reduce just until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper. Remove from heat and serve with the salmon.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Radishes in Chili Oil

Mark your calendars for Sunday June 7th, which will be the first day of the sixth season of the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, 10 AM - 2 PM on the corner of Agate St. and 19th Ave. Last year I marked the announcement of the market start date with a number of radish recipe ideas, and here's an addition to that list from Fuchsia Dunlop's Every Grain of Rice: radishes in chili oil.

In the same spirit of the French dish of radishes and salted butter, this recipe uses soy sauce and oil to both brighten and temper the radishes' bite, but in this case their mild spiciness is enhanced with fiery chiles. First, to release some of the radishes' liquid, you need to pummel them a bit (I tapped them with a meat tenderizer) and give them a coating of salt. While they sweat, mix up sugar, soy sauce, sesame and chili oils, then drain and toss them in this rich coating. For a root to shoot approach to our radishes, I blanched the greens and tossed them with a sesame sauce Dunlop uses for spinach, similar to this gomae recipe. These made delicious vegetable sides for Eric's famous Ma Po Doufo and our child labor-enabled cabbage and pork dumplings. You can look forward to lots more delicious spring vegetables at the start of the Fairmount Market June 7th.

Radishes in Chili Oil
from Fuchsia Dunlop's Every Grain of Rice
2 bunches small red radishes, trimmed, rinsed, and patted dry
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons chilli oil with its sediments
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1. Lightly smack the radishes with the side of a cleaver, a rolling pin, or a meat tenderizer; the idea is to crack them open, not to smash them to smithereens.

2. Pile the cracked radishes in a bowl, add the salt, and toss well. Set aside for 30 minutes.

3. Combine the sugar and soy sauce in a small bowl and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the chili and sesame oils.

4. When you’re ready to eat, drain the radishes—they will have released a fair amount of water—and shake them dry. Pour the chile oil mixture over the radishes and toss to mix well and serve.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Kohlrabi Green Tart with Polenta Crust

A recent Good Food Easy CSA installment came with a hefty stack of kohlrabi leaves, an ingredient uncommon enough to render the internet at rather a loss for recipe recommendations. I decided to treat them like greens, but respect their cabbage-ness by pairing them with sweet cooked onions (like this favorite cabbage dish), and to nestle the whole mixture into a tart.

And because we have plenty of polenta from our Lonesome Whistle Farm CSA, I decided to make a polenta crust from this recipe from Maria Speck's Ancient Grains for Modern Meals. The tart crust is basically cooked polenta, with some grated parmesan cheese and an egg for extra integrity. The recipe calls for cooking the polenta in broth, so I made a quick broth with some leek greens and the kohlrabi leaf stems, but I think water would be fine as well. 

I made a couple of mini tarts for the kohlrabi leaf doubters in the house, one of whom opted for a parsley pesto topping while the other went with a take on the classic tomato and cheese pizza. For the rest of us, the kohlrabi green tart was a big hit, and I'm certain I will be making variants with other greens throughout the spring.

Kohlrabi Green Tart with Polenta Crust
Make one 10-inch tart

Crust from 
Maria Speck's Artichoke Tart with Polenta Crust
1 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/4 cups polenta
1/2 cup (about 2.5 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese 
1 large egg, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Bring the broth and water to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the salt. Slowly add the polenta in a thin stream, whisking constantly, and continue whisking for 30 seconds. Decrease the heat to low and cover. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon every few minutes to keep the polenta from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring a few times. Stir in the cheese, egg and pepper.

2. Grease a 10-inch tart pan or cake pan with olive oil. Have a glass of cold water ready. Spoon the polenta into the pan and press it out, pushing it up the sides. Dip a wooden spoon or your hands in the cold water to help the polenta along. Set aside for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 375 F. Then form an even rim about 3/4 of an inch thick with moist fingers, pressing firmly. Don't worry if the crust looks rustic.

3. Prebake the crust for 20 minutes until it has started to brown on the edges. Meanwhile, prepare the filling

Kohlrabi green filling

6-8 kohlrabi leaves (or substitute collard greens or chard)
1 medium onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup ricotta (or use Greek yogurt like Maria Speck's original recipe)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup shredded swiss cheese
salt to taste and plenty of freshly ground pepper

1. Cut the center rib from each kohlrabi leaf and cut the leaves into 1 inch ribbons. Peel and dice the onion. Heat a large skillet over medium low heat, then heat the oil and sauté the onions with a pinch of salt, until they are very soft and glassy, about 10 minutes. Add the kohlrabi greens and sauté with another pinch of salt for about 5 minutes until they have turned a darker green and started to soften. Remove from heat.

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the ricotta, eggs, a good pinch of salt and pepper until well-combined. Fold in the sautéed greens. Pour the filling into the prepared polenta tart and spread evenly. Sprinkle with the swiss cheese.

2. Bake the tart until the top turns golden brown and the filling is set, about 40 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for at least 20 minutes. The tart can be prepared up to one day ahead.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Goodbye Bakery and Yogurt Scones

Sad news in the neighborhood: the much beloved Eugene City Bakery will be closing this Sunday May 3, having been evicted by a new owner of the building. DeeAnn Hall's bakery has been a cornerstone of the community and her neighborhood commitment was instrumental in launching the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market five years ago. The loss of this welcoming haven for morning rendezvous and afternoon pick me ups will leave a deep void in the neighborhood. And nowhere on earth could one find a better marionberry scone.

This Mother's Day, we'll be left baking our own scones, and so I'm sharing this recipe for yogurt scones that I tried recently from Clotilde Dusoulier of Chocolate and Zucchini (an authority on baking with yogurt). The dough is quite easy to work with, and I slipped in some Lonesome Whistle Farm corn flour for a bit of extra flavor. We made them plain, served with creme fraiche and jam. Maybe next weekend we'll try layering in some frozen berries, but it won't be the same as ECB's. Their departure is a sad loss for the neighborhood.

makes eight scones
220 grams (1 2/3 cup) flour (I used 1/3 cup corn flour)
25 grams (2 tablespoons) sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
55 grams (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, chilled and diced
125 ml (1/2 cup) plain yogurt (not fat-free)
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon milk (not fat-free)
Your choice of flavoring (optional)
2 teaspoons homemade vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground spice of your choice
1 teaspoon finely grated citrus zest
2 to 3 tablespoons finely diced dried fruits
2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped nuts
2 teaspoons orange flower water
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped or grated chocolate

1. Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. If you're using vanilla extract, spices, or citrus zest, add them in now.

3. Dice the butter and blend it into the dry ingredients using a fork or pastry cutter, until no visible lump of butter remains.

4. Stir in the yogurt, 2 tablespoons milk, and any dried fruits, nuts, orange flower water, or chopped chocolate you want to use.

5. Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead gently just a few times to form a ball. Handle the dough as lightly as you can and avoid overmixing, or the scones will be tough.

6. Pat the dough into a round, about 12 cm in width and 3 cm in thickness (about 5 inches in width and 1 inch in thickness). Brush the top with the remaining teaspoon milk and sprinkle with sugar.

7. Slice into 8 wedges with a knife or dough cutter.

8. Place the wedges on the prepared baking sheet, giving them a little space to expand.

9. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the scones are set and nicely golden.

10. Serve warm, with an assortment of spreads, such as butter, clotted cream, jam, or honey.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Kale Salad with Roasted Carrots and Chickpeas

Here's a roasted vegetable salad for our off again, on again spring weather. Roast the carrots and chickpeas while it rains, and toss together the salad to enjoy when the sun peaks out. I roasted the carrots and chickpeas in an rich coating of cumin and smoked paprika, and spiked the tahini dressing with a good dose of lemon. The dressed kale will hold up well even if you have to wait a while for the sunshine. 

Kale Salad with Roasted Carrots and Chickpeas

1 bunch kale, ribs removed and leaves cut into 3/4 inch ribbons
2 large carrots, rinsed and sliced on the diagonal
1 cup cooked chickpeas, drained
4 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
salt to taste

2 tsp tahini
1 tsp white miso paste
1/4 tsp honey
juice of one lemon
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

1. Prepare the roasted toppings. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. On a large rimmed baking sheet, dump the sliced carrots on a large rimmed baking sheet and toss with 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika and a good sprinkle of salt. On a second rimmed baking sheet, toss the drained chickpeas with the remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika and a good sprinkle of salt. Spread out and roast for about 20 minutes, turning the carrots with a spatula occasionally, until they are soft and have started to brown around the edges, and shaking the chickpeas occasionally, until they have browned and crisped. When the roasted toppings are done, set them aside.

2. Prepare the dressing by mixing together all of ingredients until the dressing is emulsified. Taste and add more of any ingredient to adjust the flavor to your likening. 

3. In a large bowl, toss the chopped kale leaves with the dressing until well coated. Gently toss in the roasted toppings. The salad is nice served at once, but it can also stand for a few hours. Enjoy. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Chicken in Milk

With a steady supply of pastured chickens from our Fair Valley Farm CSA, I'm always on the look out for easy whole chicken recipes. Today I tried a one pot Jamie Oliver recipe, classified as genius by food52, with a surprising ingredient list: cinnamon stick, lemon peel, garlic cloves, sage leaves, and milk. The end result was fragrant and succulent, and will definitely be staying on our dinner rotation. You start by browning your chicken in a snug pot, then after decanting the browned butter (which I used in our mashed potatoes), you toss in the remaining ingredients and shove it into the oven for 90 minutes, occasionally basting the chicken with the sauce. The chicken browns but stays wonderfully moist (I positioned the breast side down to keep it submerged), the milk solids separate out, leaving a flavorful sauce, and best of all are the whole roasted garlic cloves to squeeze into your mashed potatoes. This is a perfect weekend afternoon dish because it requires little attention, while infusing the house with delicious smells, and leaving time for other kitchen puttering. As the chicken cooked, I prepared the mashed potatoes and used the lower rack of the oven to rotate through several baking sheets to roast: broccoli for a couple dinners, and cumin carrots and chickpeas for a salad later in the week. It's nice to start the week with a chicken in one's pot and several dinners already in the bag.

One 3-pound (1 1/2-kilogram) organic chicken
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces (1 stick or 115 grams) butter or olive oil
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 good handful fresh sage, leaves picked
Zest of 2 lemons, peeled in thick strips with a peeler
10 garlic cloves, skins left on
1 pint (565 milliliters) whole milk

1. Preheat the oven to 375° F and find a snug-fitting pot for the chicken. Season the chicken generously all over with salt and pepper and fry it in the butter or olive oil, turning the chicken to get an even color all over, until golden. Remove from the heat, put the chicken on a plate, and throw away the butter left in the pot (or save for another use). This will leave you with tasty sticky goodness at the bottom of the pan, which will give you a lovely caramel flavor later on. 

2. Put your chicken back in the pot with the rest of the ingredients, then cook it in the preheated oven for 1 1/2 hours. Baste with the cooking juice when you remember. (Oliver leaves the pot uncovered, but you can leave it partially covered if you'd like it to retain more moisture and make more sauce.) The lemon zest will sort of split the milk, making a sauce, which is absolutely fantastic. 

3. To serve, pull the meat off the bones and divide it on to your plates. Spoon over plenty of juice and the little curds. Serve with wilted spinach or greens and some mashed potato.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Hot Cross Buns

This Easter I decided to try my hand at baking hot cross buns, mostly because I noticed that this recipe from Chocolate and Zucchini called for two ingredients I already had fermenting in my refrigerator, bread starter and creme fraiche. I combined these into a wet dough that greeted me in the morning with happy bubbles.

Traditional hot cross buns call for currents, which I knew my daughter wouldn't like (she diligently picks out all the raisons from her stollen slices), but I noticed this BBC Good Food recipe included diced apples and cinnamon, which are always a hit in our household, so I folded some into the dough in the morning.

After the buns had risen, I decorated them with the traditional flour paste cross, following these instructions for making a parchment paper piping cornet, which was remarkably simple. One could also use a sugar icing for the crosses after the buns are baked, but then they won't survive reheating.  

Instead of icing, to give the buns a little sweetness I glazed them with apricot jam. We sampled one to determine that they tasted as nice as they smelled, and are saving the rest for Easter breakfast.

Hot Cross Buns
(adapted from Chocolate and Zucchini, makes one dozen)

for the dough
120 grams (4 1/4 ounces) ripe 100% starter
340 grams (12 ounces) all-purpose flour [if you don't use a starter, use 400 grams (14 ounces)]
1/2 teaspoon dry yeast [if you don't use a starter, use 2 teaspoons]
175 ml (3/4 cup) milk, at room temperature [if you don't use a starter, use 225 ml (1 cup minus 1 tablespoon)], plus a little for brushing
125 grams (1/2 cup) crème fraîche (or equal parts sour cream and heavy cream)
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

for the apple filling
1/2 apple, cored and cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

For the crosses:
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons water

For the glaze:
2 tablespoons apricot jam

Day one: Prepare the dough for overnight fermentation.
In a large mixing bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, starter if using, yeast, milk, crème fraîche, and honey to form a shaggy mass, making sure all of the flour is incorporated. Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2. Mix in the salt. Fold  the dough for 4 minutes -- or set the stand mixer on low speed -- until the dough starts to get a little smoother.

3. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the dough, cover the bowl with a plate, and place in the fridge for 12 to 18 hours.

Day two: Divide and shape the buns for the second ferment, decorate, bake, and glaze.
4. The next day, remove the dough from the fridge, remove the plate, and let rest for 30 minutes; it should have risen moderately, not quite doubled. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

5. Core and dice the apple into small pieces and toss with the cinnamon and ground ginger.

6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured working surface -- the dough will be fairly sticky, but if you work quickly while it is still cold from the fridge, you will be fine. Flatten it out, dump on the spiced apples, and fold the dough over itself. Fold it several more times until the apple pieces are incorporated. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces (about 90 grams or 3 1/6 ounces each), and shape each piece into a squarish bun (the dough is a bit sticky, just do your best) and place them on the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 2.5 cm (1 inch) of space between them: you do want them to touch as they rise and bake.

7. Cover with a clean, floured towel and let rest for 2 1/2 hours, until they've risen to about 1.5 times their original size.

8. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the buns lightly with milk (this will foster browning).

9. Prepare the flour paste for the crosses: in a small bowl, place the flour and water and whisk with a spoon until smooth; it should have a consistency a bit like face cream, spreadable but not too thick. Spoon this mixture into a small paper cone (a cornet) assembled from parchment paper as demonstrated here. Snip the tip of the cone to form a 3-mm (1/10-inch) opening and pipe the flour paste over the buns to form a cross.

10. Insert the baking sheet in the middle of the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until browned. Transfer to a cooling rack.

11. To prepare the glaze, heat the apricot jam carefully in the microwave, and add a tablespoon of water if it seems to thick. You can strain it if you like, or just avoid transferring apricot bits on your brush. Brush the buns with the glaze while they're still warm. Once cooled, hot cross buns should be split in two horizontally and toasted.