Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween Pumpkin Soup

Two Sundays ago, SLO Farm had some lovely pie pumpkins on sale. My daughter chose the largest one she could find, which I ended up hauling home. Then we had a family debate about what to do with the pumpkin. My daughter advocated keeping it indefinitely as a cherished family member, my 2 year old son demanded "pumpkin pie!", but I wanted to try out a pumpkin soup recipe from The Greens Cookbook that my friend Judith claims she subsists on all winter long. With the promise of more pumpkin purchases, I swayed the crowd toward my agenda. Cooking the soup proved to be the perfect pre-Halloween activity. We got to (in my son's words) "scoop the goop!" 

Then, like a coven of witches, we went foraging for herbs

which we stirred into a bubbling cauldron of pumpkin stock.

Meanwhile, the roasting pumpkin filling the house with delicious, earthy smells. The soup itself came together quickly: I sauteed the onion in butter, simmered the pumpkin flesh with the strained stock, pureed it with an immersion blender, and then finished it off with a cup each of grated gruyere cheese and cream. The end result was rich and flavorful, and made a filling meal along with fresh cucumber sandwiches on Eugene City Bakery bread. Perfect sustenance for witches, goblins, and ghouls.

Pumpkin Soup with Gruyere Cheese
adapted from The Greens Cookbook

The Stock
Seeds and pumpkin goop
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk and some leaves, chopped
several springs sage, thyme, and chives
1/2 tsp salt
8 cups cold water

Simmer for about 25 minutes and strain.

The Soup
1 scooped out pumpkin, halved
2 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, diced
6-8 cups stock
salt and pepper to taste
~3 ounces gruyere cheese, grated
1 cup light cream
sage leaves for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roast the pumpkin halves, face down on a baking sheet with a lip to catch the juices, until soft (about 1 hour). When cooled, scrape the flesh from the skin. If there are caramelized juices in the pan, soak these off with some strained stock, and add to the soup.

2. In a large soup pot, saute the onions in butter until soft. Add 6 cups of the stock and the roasted pumpkin and simmer for about 20 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender. Add more stock if the soup is too thick and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in gruyere and when it has melted, add the cream. Serve garnished with sage leaves.

Purple Potato Frittata

Torrential morning rains prevented the farmers from setting up at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market last Sunday. Luckily, we had some potatoes from SLO Farm from the previous week, which I decided to prepare in a frittata for lunch. The tubers looked prosaic enough, but when I sliced them open they were a gorgeous magenta color, that contrasted beautifully with the farm's plump little red onions.

I sauteed the sliced potatoes in a little olive oil, and then added diced onion. When these were nicely caramelized, I poured in beaten eggs and sprinkled on some diced cheddar cheese. After the eggs had firmed up for a few minutes on the stove top, I stuck the pan under the broiler to brown the top.  When it came out of the oven, I garnished it with some fresh chives. The frittata was delicious with the firm potatoes, sweet onions, and melted cheese.

Purple Potato Frittata

3 small purple potatoes, sliced
1 small red onion, diced
2 Tbsp olive oil
5 eggs, scrambled
salt and pepper to taste
~2 ounces cheddar cheese, diced
chopped chives for garnish

1. Start heating the broiler. Heat oil in an oven proof pan, such as a cast iron skillet. Place the sliced potatoes into the pan and let them cook on one side until they start to brown. Flip them and add the chopped onion. Keep cooking until the potatoes are nicely browned and the onion starts to caramelize.

2. Beat the eggs and add salt and pepper. Pour over the potatoes. Sprinkle over the cheddar cheese. Cook for about 3 minutes until the egg has start to set. Place the pan on an oven rack close to the broiler and cook for about 3 minutes until the top of the frittata starts to brown. Remove from oven, and serve slices garnished with chopped chives.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hearty Eggplant Pasta

SLO Farm had some lovely gem-hued purple eggplants on sale at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market that I couldn't resist, although I didn't have specific plans for them. The Wednesday Food section of the New York Times offered inspiration with an article by Melissa Clark on whole wheat pasta and hearty sauces. I had a bag of whole wheat linguini that had been kicking around the pantry for months, and a hearty eggplant and tomato sauce seemed like the perfect accompaniment.

Because eggplants can soak up an alarming amount of oil if you saute them, I decided to cook slices, lightly brushed with olive oil, on a cast iron skillet under the broiler.

Meanwhile, I started a tomato sauce with onions and garlic and plenty of red pepper flakes.

To round out the sauce, I added cubed feta cheese and chopped parsley along with chunks of broiled eggplant.

The resulting sauce was delicious with the hefty whole wheat pasta.  The broiled eggplant had a rich, creamy texture that was echoed in the creaminess of the melted feta but contrasted by the feta's sharpness. I will definitely replenish my supply of whole wheat pasta to make this dish again.

Eggplant, Feta Tomato Sauce and Whole Wheat Pasta

12 plum tomatoes, diced or 1 can chopped tomatoes 
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 small or 1 large eggplant
3 Tbsp olive oil for sauce and more for brushing eggplant slices
~3 ounces feta cheese, cubed
~1 cup chopped parsley
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes or to taste
1 lb whole wheat pasta

1. Heat Broiler. Slice eggplants and brush with olive oil. Broil about 8 minutes per side, until nicely browned and cooked through. Chop into bite sized pieces.

2. In a large saute pan, cook onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes in olive oil until translucent. Add tomatoes and simmer while you cook the pasta.

3. When the pasta is ready, stir in the eggplant, feta, and parsley. Then toss in the pasta. Enjoy with a nice red wine.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Warm Apple Breakfasts for Chilly Autumn Mornings

Many thanks to Tom and Rachel from SLO Farm for braving the elements and bringing their fresh produce to our neighborhood last Sunday. Note that starting this Wednesday they will have a weekly booth on the University of Oregon campus at the EMU. The SLO Farm apples are really extraordinary, and well worth a march through the rain (I notice that yet again, you can see my son's hand grabbing for them in the picture). Here are a couple of warm apple-inspired breakfasts, now that the mornings are turning so dark and chilly.

Saturday morning my two year old got me up early and wanted to make pancakes.

We mixed up a batter with some corn meal in it for heft, and sliced apples to layer on top for some apple flapjacks. On a warm griddle with a generous film of melted butter, so that the apples would get a little once the pancakes were flipped, we spooned out batter and doled out the apple slices. 

We flipped them and made sure to cook them long enough on the second side to let the apples begin to caramelize.

They were delicious with a drizzle of maple syrup and a handful of hazelnuts.

Apple Flapjacks

1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat white flour
1/4 cup medium ground corn meal
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
sparse sprinkle of cinnamon
2 apples (such as liberty apples from SLO Farm), cored and thinly slice
butter for the griddle
hazelnuts as garnish

1. Mix buttermilk and eggs. Combine dry ingredients and mix into wet ingredients until they are just incorporated.

2. Heat griddle and butter. Spoon on batter and layer on a couple of apple slices per pancake. When cooked, flip and cook well on the second side. Serve with maple syrup and hazelnuts.  Makes about 16 pancakes. 

Another nice pairing with apples is steel cut Irish oatmeal. If by chance your sister has recently moved to Berlin and has not yet quite figured out the time change between Germany and Oregon, so you are up anyway, by all means start a pot of oatmeal for the family, and while it is simmering for 30 minutes, saute up some chopped apples in butter with a sprinkle of cinnamon and brown sugar to mix in at the end, and serve with hazel nuts for a delicious breakfast with a substantial, nutty flavor and texture. 

On the other hand, if you'd like to wake up to a prepared, warm breakfast, and the house smelling deliciously of cooked apples and cinnamon, then you can start a pot of steel cut Irish oatmeal in the slow cooker the night before. This recipe is adapted from a Cooking Light Slow Cooker recipe book.

Slow Cooker Irish Oatmeal with Apples

1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cup water
2 apples, such as liberty, cored and chopped
1 cup steel cut oats
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp butter
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Combine all of the ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low overnight. Serve with hazelnuts and a sprinkle more of brown sugar or a drizzle of maple syrup.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thank You from Linda Castleman

Good morning to all of you who follow the Fairmount blog. We wanted to send a warm thanks to Karen for her efforts in bringing creative dialogue and beautiful tasty dishes of inspiration for what might be found at your local farmers market on 19th and Agate.  Also to the folks from the Eugene City Bakery, Ned and DeeAnn, for their support and efforts in making it happen. It was great sharing the corner and good conversation with the dedicated growers of SLO Farm and Lonesome Whistle Farm, and we wanted to thank everyone in the community who bought our salmon and all those repeat customers who supported our first season of bringing our premium product to the market.  Please look for us next year. If folks want to order direct from Alaska during our summer season, you can find us on the web at The Salmon People of Alaska, or you can contact us locally at I hope to have our booth set up early next year.  

Hope to see all of you then, 
Linda Castleman

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Purple Stir Fry

SLO Farm's shades of purple at their market stand last Sunday were the inspiration for a quick stir fry.

To accompany the eggplant, I prepared some baked tofu, brushing slices of extra firm tofu with hoisin sauce and baking them in a toaster oven.

Then I chopped up eggplant, beans, some Hungarian peppers from Lonesome Whistle Farm, ginger and garlic. I also added some diced ham, because I like the combination of tofu and pork, and we had some in the refrigerator.

I stir fried these, starting with the eggplant, along with some spicy black bean paste and rice wine.

Meanwhile I cooked some soba noodles, which I stirred in at the end. I served the dish on plates of fresh mixed greens from the market, which I like even better than adding greens to the stir fry. The beans and eggplant didn't retain their brilliant shades of purple, but they came together in a satisfying meal.

Eggplant soba noodle stir fry

4 small Asian eggplants, chopped into chunks
A generous handful of beans, chopped
4 Hungarian peppers, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 inch ginger, peeled and minced
1 small block firm tofu
some diced ham (if you like)
hoisin sauce
3 Tbsp canola or grape seed oil
1 teaspoon spicy black bean paste, or to taste
~1/4 cup rice wine
8 ounces buckwheat soba noodles

1. Prepare the tofu: slice into slabs, brush with hoisin sauce, and bake in a toaster oven at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes until cooked through. Chop into cubes.

2. Boil water and cook soba noodles according to instructions. Drain and rinse in cold water and reserve.

3. Heat a large pan until it's very hot. Add oil and stir fry eggplants until they are cooked through. Add the following ingredients, cooking for a minute in between each new addition: beans, peppers, tofu, ham, ginger and garlic, black bean paste, rice wine. Then stir in reserved soba noodles and cook until heated through. 

4. Serve on top of fresh greens.

Friday, October 1, 2010


The Fairmount Neighbourhood Farmers Market's offerings of delicious heirloom tomatoes from Lonesome Whistle Farm and smoked salmon from the Salmon People have inspired a new favorite sandwich in our household: the SLT.

We discovered that smoked salmon makes a delicious surrogate for bacon in a BLT.  I like it better in fact because the sandwich is less greasy.  Along with their amazing heirloom Ts, Lonesome Whistle Farm had some delicious salad greens for the L, and pumpkin seed Pane Antico from Eugene City Bakery was the perfect bread to serve as the sandwich's foundation.

Salmon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich

Smoked salmon
fresh salad greens
sliced tomato
good bread

Lightly toast a slice of bread. Spread on desired amount of mayonnaise. Layer on salad greens, sliced tomato, and smoked salmon. Enjoy.