Saturday, October 27, 2012

Chia Seed and Buckwheat Pancakes

Lately I've come across a number of recipes using chia seeds (the very same seeds that produce the green afros on chia pets), and I was curious to taste them. I found that they have a nutty, slightly smokey flavor that reminded me of buckwheat, which inspired me to pair the two together in these pancakes that have become a new family favorite.

If you get the impression from this blog that my family eats a lot of pancakes, you are correct. We like them hardy with oatmeal and pears, rich with cottage cheese, and pillowy with teff and ricotta. These chia seed and buckwheat ones are deliciously light and flavorful. The soaked chia seeds soften up and absorb liquid, like tapioca, binding together this buttermilk batter such that it needs just a minimum amount of flour, making for tender cakes. I've used half buckwheat and half white wheat flour, but I imagine one could use another flour, like sorghum or teff, instead of wheat for a gluten-free version. This morning we
 topped them with blackberry sauce and hardy kiwis from our garden. And, caught up in the spirit of Halloween, we had a few jack-o-lantern kiwis and pancake people with huckleberry smiles. 

Chia Seed and Buckwheat Pancakes
(makes about 32 pancakes)
1/4 cup chia seeds
2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
3 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
butter for cooking pancakes

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the chia seeds with the buttermilk. If you'd like the seeds to be very soft, you can soak them in the buttermilk overnight, but they will soften up quite nicely in about ten minutes (about the time it takes from starting the batter to making your first pancakes). Mix in the eggs and canola oil.

2. In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining dry ingredients. Then gently mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until they are just combined.

3. Heat a griddle or large skillet (I prefer cast iron) over medium heat. Melt a small pad of butter to grease the surface. Spoon out dollops of batter with a soup spoon and allow to cook until the batter loses some of its raw pale color and bubbles stay fixed. Flip with a spatula and cook for a minute on the other side. Both sides should be nicely browned. Transfer to a warm plate, and cook the rest of the batter. Enjoy with fruit toppings and maple syrup. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Calypso Bean Dip with Romesco Sauce

Good bell peppers are still plentiful this time of year. I used some of these rosy beauties from Open Oak Farm in a roasted pepper romesco sauce layered on top of a creamy dip made from Lonesome Whistle Farm's calypso beans, following this recipe for Ireland Creek Annie Bean Bruschetta, but minus the toasting. The romesco sauce gives a pretty autumnal blush to the bean spread, and together they make a tasty appetizer served with thinly sliced baguette from Eugene City Bakery.

Bean dip
2 cups cooked calypso beans, or your favorite bean variety
5-6 garlic cloves
~1/4 cup olive oil
salt to taste.

Romesco Sauce
1 red pepper
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
salt to taste

1. To make the bean dip, roast the garlic cloves in a dry skillet or in the oven until the skin is blackened in spots and the garlic is soft. Combine all of the ingredient in a food processor (save a few beans for garnish) and blend until very smooth. Add salt to taste.

2. To make the romesco sauce, char the red pepper over an open flame or in the oven until the skin is blackened. Place in a bowl covered with a plate to steam off the skin. Toast the almond slivers and place in a food processor. Scrape off the charred skin from the pepper, remove stem and seeds and add to food processor. Add remaining ingredients and process into a course paste.

3. Spread the bean dip into a shallow bowl and layer over the romesco sauce. Enjoy with thin slices of baguette, warm pita wedges, crackers, or crudites. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Kimchi and Bo Ssam

It's official: the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market is over for the season. You can catch some culinary action on the corner of Agate and 19th this evening at the Dia de los Muertos Festival from 4 to 9 PM. If you are suffering from a sense of loss over the end of your summer Sunday routine and the passing of the sunny days, here is my prescription: be sure to preserve some of the last of fall's harvest for the rainy days ahead.

With a final collection of Sweetwater Farm's produce -- arrowhead cabbage, kohlrabi, carrots, celery, green onions, and garlic -- I made a delicious version of this kimchi

We turned on the oven for the slow roasting of a sweet and salty slathered pork shoulder, following this Bo Ssam recipe from David Chang's Momofuku

And we enjoyed these delicious lettuce leaf packets of tender pork and rice topped with a little bit of preserved harvest.

Kimchi and Bo Ssam
follow this recipe from Momofuku, using the following vegetables:
1/2 small cabbage, cored and chopped into small strips
1 kohlrabi, peeled generously and cut into matchsticks
2 big or 4 small carrots, scrubbed and cut into matchsticks
2 big or 4 small celery stalks, sliced into 1/4 inch slices

Bo Ssam
follow this recipe from Momofuku. We used a smaller pork shoulder, but cooked it for almost as long to achieve the "souffle effect" when the meat is falling apart and the fat starts to bubble.

Serve on tender lettuce leaves with a scoop of white rice, a couple forkfuls of pork, and a generous dollop of kimchi.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

End of the Season Cottage Cheese Pancakes

Frosty nights have set in and the longterm forecast predicts rain for next weekend, so today is likely to have been the last Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market of the season. Many thanks to Sweetwater Farm and Fair Valley Farm for bringing us their delicious foods all summer long and ensuring a successful third season for the market. If you were lucky enough to pick up some of Sweetwater Farm's jam (or better yet, earn a jar through their punchcard system), here is a recipe for cottage cheese pancakes onto which you can slather their fine preserves.

These pancakes are an old family specialty. They are not just regular pancakes with a dollop of cottage cheese, but rather a heaping amount of cottage cheese with a sprinkle of flour. The recipe comes from Michael Fields, a chef my mother admired in the 1970's, but who died early in life, likely from the quantity of butter and eggs he consumed while testing his recipes. These pancakes, for example, called for a dozen eggs and a stick and a half of butter. Our family's version scaled these back, but we kept Fields' recommended toppings of jam and powdered sugar. Sweetwater Farm's strawberry preserves made these an extra treat.

Cottage Cheese Pancakes
makes about 24 pancakes

16 oz. cottage cheese
3 eggs
2 Tbsp butter for the batter and more for cooking the pancakes
1/2 cup flour
pinch salt
jam and powdered sugar for topping

1. Melt the butter in a large batter bowl. Mix in the cottage cheese and then the eggs. Lightly incorporate the flour and salt.

2. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Melt a small pad of butter across the surface of the skillet and then spoon out  a tablespoon at a time of batter, evenly spaced. This batter takes a little longer to cook than regular pancakes and it works best if you keep the pancakes on the smallish side (about 2 1/2 inches in diameter). Watch them carefully. When ready to flip, the batter should take on a slightly darker, less shiny sheen, and bubbles at the edges should remain fixed. When you flip the pancakes, they should be nicely browned. Cook them on the second side until they are similarly browned and then transfer to a warm serving plate or a baking sheet in a low oven while you cook the rest.

3. Serve warm with fruit jam (I recommend Sweetwater Farm's strawberry spread) and a dusting of powdered sugar.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Quinoa, Wheat Berry and Chickpea Salad

This Sunday's Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market you can look forward to the following offerings from Sweetwater Farm and Fair Valley Farm:
  • Delicata and Sweet Dumpling winter squash (try this salad)
  • Cauliflower (delicious roasted)
  • Stanley prune plums and Italian prune plums
  • cantaloupe and honeydew mellons
  • Carrots and radishes (try these buttery radishes with mint)
  • One last round of green beans (from SLO Farm
  • variety of tomatoes; 10 lb flats of San Marzano romas for $15 (freeze for winter)
  • variety of sweet and spicy peppers
  • kohlrabi (delicious raw in a lemon caper salad)
  • variety of cabbages, kale, collards, and greens (make some collards and beans)
  • broccoli and eggplants (try a roasted salad)
  • lettuces and baby lettuce salad mix
  • zucchini and summer squash
  • variety of potatoes including bargain bags of red potatoes
  • sweet onions, green onions, garlic, and leeks
  • fresh herbs, including basil, cilantro, dill, thyme, oregano, and sage
  • tomato sauce and pesto
  • naturally fermented pickles, dilly beans, and sauerkraut
  • homemade jams (delicious in crepes)
  • Scottish oats (make this teff oatmeal)
  • a selection of dried beans and grains from Camas Country Mill
  • pastured chicken (try spatchcocked)
  • pastured pork: pork chops, shoulder roasts, and ham roasts
  • pastured lamb: ground, rib chops, and leg roasts (grill some burgers)

A few weeks ago we enjoyed a belated anniversary meal at Koho Bistro and had a delicious dish from the "Leaves and Weeds" section of their menu that I was inspired to recreate at home as the backdrop for Sweetwater Farm's sweetest of sweet cherry tomatoes. Their dish was a veritable cornucopia of grains and beans: wheat berries, barley, wild rice, quinoa, and chickpeas, all cooked separately with care. 

Without a restaurant kitchen staff on hand, I decided to pare this list down to chickpeas, a small grain like quinoa, and a large grain like wheat berries or barley. Despite the stack of pots it generates, this combination is definitely worth making and having on hand as an inspiration for quick lunches and dinners. The chickpeas are earthy, and the wheat berries and quinoa adds different notes of nuttiness. Like the Koho dish, I added toasted almonds and goats cheese. For this summer version, I added parsley and cherry tomatoes, but the grains and chickpeas lend themselves to infinite variations through the seasons, such as with roasted eggplant or delicata squash, or the green bean and red pepper version below. I'm sure these beans and grains complement each other nutritionally, but what's impressive is how well they complement each other in flavor, making a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. 

Quinoa, Wheat Berry, and Chickpea Salad

cherry tomato version
1 cup dried chickpeas
1 cup dried wheat berries (or substitute barley)
3/4 cup dried quinoa
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
1 pint cherry tomatoes, rinsed
6 ounces feta cheese, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup flat parsley leaves, rinsed and chopped
1 large lemon
1 tsp pomegranate molasses or a honey
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
salt to taste

1. If you remember, soak both the chickpeas and the wheat berries separately overnight. For each, rinse and place in 2.5 cups fresh water and simmer on low until they are soft, about 2 hours. Salt generously and strain if necessary. Cook the quinoa on a low simmer in 1.5 cups fresh water for about 15 minutes until it releases its halos and the water is absorbed. Combine the cooked chickpeas and grains into a large serving bowl.

2. Mix the dressing of juice and zest from one lemon, pomegranate molasses or honey, rice wine vinegar, olive oil, and salt to taste. Toss into the grains.

3. Toss the dressed grains with the slivered almonds, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese and parsley leaves. Taste and adjust seasoning. Enjoy the salad on its own, or layer it on tender greens.

green bean and red pepper version
for slivered almonds, substitute whole almonds toasted with 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp smoked paprika;
for cherry tomatoes, substitute cooked green beans and chopped roasted red peppers;
for the feta cheese, substitute cubed aged gouda
for the rice wine vinegar, substitute sherry vinegar, and omit the molasses or honey.