Sunday, August 28, 2011

Plum and Berry Galette

This artistic spread of golden shiro plums and berries from SLO Farm inspired a fruit galette, in celebration of our twelfth wedding anniversary. My daughter had my husband look up official twelfth anniversary gifts, and decided that a good approximation of the recommended pearls was a selection of blueberries picked from our backyard bushes and presented in an elaborate handmade construction paper box. Some of them made their way into this tart.

I used a galette dough adapted from Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson. I mixed the sliced plums and their juices with a modest amount of sugar, vanilla extract (a vanilla bean would have been nice if I'd had one) and cornstarch. My daughter rolled out the dough and then we ladled over the fruit and crimped up the edges. My one mistake was to bake this on a baking sheet without a rim, because a fair amount of sugary juice seeped out and pooled on the bottom of the oven, where it proceeded to burn and fill the kitchen with smoke. Certainly not the first baking disaster in 12 years of marriage.

With a good airing out of the kitchen and a scoop of vanilla ice cream, the galette was delicious.

Plum and Berry Galette

Galette dough
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (such as Camas Country Mill's Soft White Winter Wheat flour) 
1 Tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
8 ounces (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
3 Tbsp ice water, or more as needed
1 tsp fresh lemon juice

1. combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse to mix.

2. Cut the butter into 1/2 inch cubes and add to the food processor. Pulse about 10 times until the butter is cut into pea sized pieces. Add the liquid and pulse again briefly. Feel the dough and if you can press it together into a clump with your hand, you are done. Otherwise, add a little more water. 

3. Transfer the dough onto a silicone mat or sheet of saran wrap. Pat it together into a ball, then flatten it into a disk, wrap it up and let it chill for at least an hour. You can make the dough a day in advance.

Galette filling
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
6 plums
1 cup berries, such as blackberries and blueberries

1. Adjust the oven rack to the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Use parchment paper to over a 12 inch wide baking sheet with a rim around the edge, or grease well with butter.

2. Mix together the sugar, cornstarch, salt, vanilla. 

3. Roll out the chilled galette dough to 13 or 14 inches in diameter and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp of the sugar mixture on the dough, leaving a two inch rim bare.

4. Slice the plums into a bowl, collecting the juice. Toss with the remaining sugar mixture with the plumbs. Lift the coated plums out of the bowl and arrange on the galette dough, leaving a rim. Distribute the berries on top, then pour the remaining sugary plum juice over the fruit. Fold the outer edges of the dough over the outermost fruit. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, then turn down the temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for another 20 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before serving (if you can wait).

Friday, August 26, 2011

Summer Gazpacho

This Sunday at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market you can look forward to the following products from SLO Farm, Sweetwater Farm, and Songbird Farm:

  • plums, blackberries, strawberries, and apples (SLO Farm's first red gravensteins of the season!)
  • tomatoes and peppers of all kinds, cucumbers, green beans, zucchini, eggplants, and beets
  • celery, collards, kale, bietola greens, garlic, and herbs
  • eggs, honey, fresh sauerkraut and kimchi, propolis salve and lip balm
  • fresh cut flowers including cardoons

You will also find local grains and beans from the Southern Willamette Bean and Grain Project. Unfortunately the Salmon People won't be joining us, but they will return the following week.

With the abundance of flavorful, ripe tomatoes, you can whip up a delicious gazpacho:

1 cucumber, peeled
4 large tomatoes
sprig of basil
small splash of sherry vinegar
large splash of olive oil
sprinkle of red pepper flakes
generous pinch of salt

Puree in a blender until smooth.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Farmers Market Ratatouille

Last Sunday we welcomed a new edition to the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market: Sweetwater Farm. Sweetwater offers a popular CSA, Good Food Easy, and has a long history of working in neighborhood farmers markets, having anchored the former Southtowne Shoppes farmers market. Last week they had a wide variety of produce including colorful peppers and eggplants, which inspired me to make a ratatouille.

Ratatouille used to have a bad rap as mushy, watery stewed vegetables, but then got an image makeover with Pixar's animated rendition of Thomas Keller's recipe. I wanted to create a version that would capture the sweetness of these summer vegetables at their peek, so I roasted the eggplant, and separately, the peppers with some massive scallions from Songbird Farm that seemed like the moral equivalent of leeks.

To make a tomato sauce, I roasted a pint of Songbird Farm's cherry tomatoes with garlic and a selection of fresh herbs that go into traditional herbs de Provence--rosemary, marjoram, and fennel fronds. Because the cherry tomatoes cooked down so much, I fried a couple of sliced regular tomatoes as well and deglazed the pan with a splash of white vermouth. These all got pureed together into a flavorful sauce.

Then I assembled everything like a lasagna, but in a spring form pan, using thin sliced baby zucchini from SLO Farm as the moral equivalent of pasta sheets, and baked it until the sauce on top had started to brown.

The final dish was a thin disc, an amazing transformation of a huge pile of vegetables. But what it lacked in bulk, it made up in flavor, with all the notes of the vegetables intensified by the roasting and baking into a dense tart that was delicious served in slices, along with goat cheese and fresh bread.


3 small eggplants (or 1 large one)
2 sweet bell peppers
1 anaheim pepper
1 leek or 3 extra large scallions
1 pint cherry tomatoes
2 regular tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 sprig fresh rosemary 
4 sprigs fresh marjoram
4 sprigs fresh thyme
3 fresh fennel fronds
~20 basil leaves
olive oil
1/4 cup white vermouth
6 small zucchini
fresh ground pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Cut the eggplant into 3/4 inch cubes and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper in a baking dish large enough so that the cubes are spread out in a single layer. Roast, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes until the cubes are browned and cooked through.

3. Cut the peppers into 1 inch pieces and the white part of the leek or scallions into 1/2 inch discs. Toss in olive oil and salt and pepper and roast, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes until they start to brown and release their juices.

4. In an ovenproof skillet, toss the cherry tomatoes and peeled garlic cloves with olive oil, salt, and pepper, fresh rosemary and marjoram leaves, and fennel fronds. Roast for about 15 minutes until the tomatoes have collapsed and some of their juices have cooked down. Transfer the roasted tomatoes, garlic and herbs to a food processor. Adjust the temperature of the oven to 350 degrees. 

5. Return the tomato skillet to the stovetop and heat with a little more olive oil. Slice the large tomatoes and cook in the pan about 3 minutes per side. Add the white vermouth and let the tomatoes stew as the liquid reduces by about half, making sure to scrape off any caramelized juices from the roasted cherry tomatoes. Add the contents of the pan to the food processor and blend into a smooth tomato sauce. Adjust seasoning.

6. Slice the zucchini lengthwise into 1/4 inch strips. Oil the bottom and sides of a 10 inch spring form pan. Cover the bottom of the pan with zucchini strips, and then with a layer of basil leaves. Layer on the roasted eggplant, followed by another layer of zucchini strips, then the roasted peppers and leeks, then a final layer of zucchini strips. Pour the tomato sauce on top and spread to cover the top. 

7. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes until the tomato sauce is bubbling and has started to brown a bit. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before gently removing the side of the spring form pan.  Serve slices warm or at room temperature.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Quick Pickled Plums

This Sunday at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market you can look forward to a wide selection of fruits and vegetables including:

Green beans
Lots of tomatoes (cherries, heirloom Valencia and Moskvich, think gazpacho!) 
Beets and beet greens
Baby carrots
Rainbow Swiss Chard

Last week SLO Farm had these beautiful yellow shiro plums, which I combined with their cucumbers and fresh basil from Songbird Farm for some delicious quick pickles.

Quick Pickled Plums

4 shiro plums
1 cucumber
1 sprig basil
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt

Peel and slice the cucumber into thin half moons and place them in a bowl. Cut the plums into thin sections over the bowl so that all of their juices fall into the bowl. Cut the basil leaves into thin strips and stir in with the cucumbers and plums, along with the salt and sugar. The cucumber and plums will release their own juices which serve as the pickling liquid. You can eat them within an hour or save them in the refrigerator for a couple of days. The sweet basil-scented flavor of the plums makes them a delicious accompaniment to smoked salmon.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Black Beans and Huevos Rancheros

I've been cooking a lot of exotic beans this past year, thanks to our Lonesome Whistle Farm heirloom bean CSA, but truth be told I'd been hankering for a good pot of plain old black beans, and was happy to see these ones, grown at the Huntons' Farm, for sale from the Southern Willamette Valley Bean and Grain Project.

Once you've cooked up a pot of black beans, you've got endless meal possibilities because they go so well with so many things: as a main dish with salads and corn bread, or as a side for fish tacos, roasted chicken, or grilled salmon. One of my favorite comfort foods is black beans and cheesy eggs.

Recently I've been making this version of huevos rancheros from Smitten Kitchen, where you toast the tortilla (corn or wheat), flip it, sprinkle on some grated cheese, crack an egg on top, and then cook it sunny side over. We made these for an after market brunch on Sunday with fresh eggs and grilled sweet cherry tomatoes from Songbird Farm. I could have eaten them all week, except we finished off the pot of black beans.

Huevos Rancheros

grated cheddar cheese
salt and pepper
cherry tomatoes
black beans (see recipe below)
sour cream for serving
hot sauce like Cholula for serving

Heat a griddle. Place on two tortillas, cook until toasted, flip and turn the heat to low. Sprinkle a handful of grated cheese on each tortilla, making an indentation in the center to trap the egg. Crack an egg into each cheese nest. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes until the white starts to harden and the cheese melts. Flip each tortilla and cook on the second side until the yoke just starts to set. Simultaneously cook some halved cherry tomatoes until slightly charred. Serve the tortilla and eggs with the grilled tomatoes on top and black beans on the side with a dollop of sour cream and hot sauce.

Best Black Beans

1 pound black beans, sorted and rinsed
2 Tbsp neutral oil such as grape seed
1 small onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp chipotle chile powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp unsweetened chocolate powder
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp salt
1 15 ounce can chopped tomatoes
4 cups boiling water

1. Heat the oil in a deep sauce pan or the pan of a stovetop compatible slow cooker. Saute the onions until glassy, add the garlic and saute a couple of minutes longer. Then add the spices (cumin through salt in the list above) and stir into the oil to make a paste. When the spices have become fragrant, after about a minute, add the chopped tomatoes. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and use an immersion blender to puree the spiced tomatoes into a paste. If necessary, transfer to a slow cooker, and rinse the pan with a cup of boiling water to transfer all of the tomato paste.

2. Add the dried black beans to the spiced tomatoes and all of the remaining hot water. Cook on low for about 4 hours, swishing the pot occasionally, until the beans are tender. The cooking time will vary with the slow cooker and the dryness of the beans. You can also prepare this on the stovetop, which will take less time, and require a little more water and more attention. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve with huevos rancheros.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Berries for Breakfast

At tomorrow's Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market you can look forward to fresh and smoked salmon from the Salmon People, local beans and grains from the Southern Willamette Valley Grain and Bean Project, and the following produce from SLO Farm and Songbird Farm:


Green Beans
Lettuce Mix


Here's my new favorite breakfast. Cook some wheatberries the evening before (1 cup wheat berries in 2 cups salted water simmered for about 90 minutes until tender). In the morning, warm up a half cup of wheatberries with a drizzle of maple syrup or honey. Top with a scoop of yogurt and some fresh berries. Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Saag Paneer Salad

At the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers market, these brilliant red cherry tomatoes from Songbird Farm

and bright green bietola greens from SLO Farm brought to mind a favorite Indian dish, saag or palak paneer. I have a go to quick palak paneer recipe from Neelam Batra's 1000 Indian Recipes that is more of a stir fry than the traditional stewed vegetable dish (which I've tinkered with before in a version with kale). 

With ingredients this fresh, however, it seemed a shame to cook them at all, which inspired me to make a saag paneer salad. I chopped up the bietola leaves, halved the cherry tomatoes, and tossed them with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Then I toasted some fenugreek, cumin, and black mustard seeds in hot oil and cooked them with minced ginger, garlic, and jalapeno, and cubed paneer cheese (available at Market of Choice). I layered the flavorful cheese onto the greens and served it immediately as a refreshing accompaniment for grilled tandoori chicken (prepared with a whole fresh chicken from Out of Our Coop). The hearty bietola greens stood up well to the cheese dressing, and the salad was still delicious for lunch the next day.

Saag Paneer Salad

  1. Wash the bietola or spinach, slice the leaves into 1/4 inch strips, and discard the stems. Wash and halve the cherry tomatoes. Toss the greens and tomatoes with the lemon juice, salt, and freshly ground black pepper in a large serving bowl.
  2. Seed the jalapeno. Peel the ginger and the garlic. Mince all three finely (you could do this in a food processor or mini-chopper). Chop the paneer cheese into 1/4 inch cubes. Chop the white and tender inner green leaves of the green onion into narrow rings.
  3. Just before you are ready to serve the salad, heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the black mustard seeds, fenugreek, and cumin seeds and let them sizzle for 1 minute. Add the jalapeno, ginger, and garlic mix and cook for a minute. Add the paneer cheese cubes and a pinch of salt and saute for a minute. Add the green onions and cook for a minute. Add the garam masala and saute for a final minute, until the cheese is well coated with the spices and the oil is bubbling and fragrant.
  4. Pour the spiced cheese cubes and oil over the greens and tomatoes. Toss and serve.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Wheatberry Tabbouleh with Green Beans and Feta

This Sunday at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, you can look forward to fresh produce from SLO Farm and Songbird Farm, including:

Green Beans
Purple Green Beans
Green Cabbage
Flat Leaf Parsley
Baby Lettuce mix
Cherry Tomatoes
Swiss Chard

Linda Castleman from The Salmon People will be back again with delicious fresh and smoked salmon.  

And you can stock up on locally grown and milled beans and grains from the Southern Willamette Valley Bean and Grain Project

I've been experimenting with salads made with wheatberries from Camas Country Mill. This is variant of a Middle Eastern tabbouleh salad normally made with bulgar, a grain prepared from wheatberries that are par cooked, dried, and cracked. Following a traditional tabbouleh recipe, I prepared a lemony parsley dressing and tossed in cherry tomatoes, but then I couldn't resist adding in some green beans. Since I was straying away from tradition, I tossed in some cubed feta for richness and toasted almonds for crunch. When mixed together, the final salad was delicious and filling, with a satisfying bite from the whole wheatberries.

Wheatberry Tabbouleh with Green Beans and Feta

1 cup dried wheatberries 
1 bunch parsley
1 lemon
~1/3 cup olive oil
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1/2 lb green beans
1/3 cup almond slivers
~3 ounces feta cheese
salt and pepper

1. Simmer the wheatberries in 2 cups salted water, covered, for about 75-90 minutes until they are soft but still firm. If there's still water left toward the end, remove the top and raise the heat to boil off the liquid. You can cook the wheatberries ahead of time.

2. Prepare a lemony parsley dressing for the salad. Rinse the parsley and put the leaves into a food processor or mini chopper. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the lemon rind, and then juice the lemon. Add the lemon rind, juice, a glug of olive oil (about 1/3 cup), and generous amount of salt and pepper. Process into a runny green paste. Taste for seasonings. Stir into the wheatberries.

3. Trim the stems off the green beans and cook them in salted boiling water until they are bright green but still crunchy, about 4 minutes. If you feel anxious about overcooking, you can plunge them into ice water after they are cooked. Quarter them lengthwise.

4. Toast the almond slivers in a dry skillet or toaster oven for a few minutes until fragrant. 

5. Halve the cherry tomatoes. Dice the feta. Fold the beans, almonds, tomatoes, and feta into the dressed wheatberries. Enjoy.