Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Elin's Farmor's Limpa

Our baking traditions this season include German Christmas stollen and cookies for Santa such as Swedish rye cookieshazelnut cloud cookies, award-winning buckwheat cocoa nib cookies, and rugelach (because why shouldn't Santa enjoy a Jewish treat). This year, as an addition to our Swedish Smörgasbord, I made limpa, a Swedish rye bread from Elin England's new book Further Adventures in Eating Close to Home: Beans, Grains, Nuts and Seed. 

This is a dense bread full of fragrant spices and orange rind, with just a hint of sweetness. I used our new crop of rye and wheat flours from our Lonesome Whistle Farm CSA. Today the aromas of freshly baked yeast bread, anise, fennel, and cardamom mingled throughout the house with the excitement of anticipation for Christmas.

Elin's Farmor's Limpa

2 packages (4 1/2 tsp) yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (about 100 degrees F)
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp each: fennel seed, anise seed, and cardamom seed, pulverized together in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle
Grated rind of 2 oranges
2 Tbsp soft butter
2 1/2 cups rye flour
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of sugar over the warm water, and stir until it is dissolved. Set in a warm place for 5 to 10 minutes to proof the yeast.

When the surface is nice and bubbly, add the molasses, sugar, salt, spices, orange rind, and butter. Stir in the rye flour, then when thoroughly blended, mix in the whole wheat flour, a cup at a time.

When the dough is too stiff to work in the bowl, turn it out onto a counter or breadboard dusted with flour and knead until the dough is satiny, about 10 minutes.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel, set in a warm place, and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Punch down and let rise again, until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch down yet again and divide the dough in two. Shape each half into a round loaf, then place both loaves on an oiled baking sheet. Cover with a tea towel and let rise until doubled, about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake for 35 minutes. When the loaves come out of the oven, brush the tops with melted butter and let cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy warm out of the oven or toasted and slathered with butter.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Holiday Gift Ideas and Homemade Kettle Corn

If you are looking for inspiration for holiday gifts, you don't need to look far from home. This weekend, head over to the Lane County Farmers Market next to the Eugene Holiday Market for some great finds. For beginning and experienced cooks alike, I recommend Elin England's new book Beans, Grains, Nuts and Seeds: Further Adventures in Eating Close to Home, which is a treasure trove of recipes including such gems as her famous Elkdream bars. You can pick up copies at the Lonesome Whistle Farm booth (or find it at local sellers, such as Tsunami Books).

While at the Lonesome Whistle Farm stall, check out Kasey White's line of Cultivation jewelry, which celebrates the natural kaleidoscope of colors in their heirloom beans and corn.

And pick up a bag of Lonesome Whistle Farm's Dakota black popcorn. It make delicious kettle corn, which I recently discovered is easy to cook at home (recipe below). Keep browsing and you'll find the perfect item for everyone on your list: homemade jams, pickles, fudge, or a rosy apple for the bottom of a stocking. Let's support our farmers this holiday season.

Kettle Corn
Serves 4 to 6

1/4 cup neutral oil (like vegetable)
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt, or to taste

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat until hot. Add 3 popcorn kernels and cover. When these pop, dump in the rest of the kernels and the sugar, and stir to coat. Cover the pot, and shake it frequently until the popping becomes much less frequent. The minute you hear that, take it off the heat so as not to burn. Turn the kettle corn out onto a parchment-lined tray for the sugar to dry -- and before it does, sprinkle generously with salt.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

White Pesto Pasta with Kale Chips

As a stubborn blanket of snow continues to keep Eugene at a standstill, creative cooking with pantry items is a necessity. This white pesto sauce from Mark Bitmann fits the bill, being prepared from an end piece of stale bread, a dribble of milk, and some nuts. From these humble staples you produce a rich sauce that tastes like an alfredo, without requiring the treacherous trip to the store for a pint of heavy cream. 

If you are lucky enough to have some greens in your crisper, by all means add these to your meal for extra color and to ward off scurvyYou could serve the pasta on a bed of raw greens, or toss the greens into the pasta water for a quick blanch at the last minute. 

I used our last bunch of kale to make a batch of the child-friendly chlorophyll vehicle of kale chips, which added a nice crunchy contrast to the creamy pasta. Now that we've polished off the last of our fresh vegetables, I'll be resorting to the bag of peas in the freezer normally reserved for soothing bumps and bruises. Let's hope the ice thaws.

White Pesto Pasta with Kale Chips
adapted from Mark Bitmann's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
1 thick slice Italian bread, or equivalent amount of any white loaf
1/2 cup milk
1 cup walnut halves
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
2 teaspoons fresh marjoram leaves (optional)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound pasta

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Place the bread in a small bowl, cover it with milk, and let it soak.

2. If you like, roast the garlic cloves in a hot skillet until softened, then peel. Combine the nuts, garlic, cheese, and marjoram (if using) in a food processor and, with the machine running, slowly add the oil in a steady stream, adding just enough oil so that the mixture forms a very thick paste. Now add the bread-and-milk mixture and enough water to make a sort of saucy mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Cook the pasta until tender. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water. Toss the pasta with the sauce and, if the mixture appears too thick, thin it with a little of the pasta cooking water or more olive oil. Pass more Parmesan on the side. And if you like, serve with kale chips, recipe below.

kale chips
1 bunch kale
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Rinse the kale leaves and dry well. Cut or tear the leaves from the stem and tear into bite sized pieces. In a big bowl, toss the leaves with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and mix well with you hands, massaging in the oil. Lay out on cookie sheets in a single layer and bake for about 10 or 15 minutes until they are crispy but before they start to get very brown (at which point they become more bitter). Serve at once. You can store them in an airtight container if you have any left, but we never do.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Turkey Stock Tortilla Soup

With Eugene blanketed in snow, it seemed like a good day to make soup. I unearthed the carcass of our successfully spatchcocked Fair Valley Farm turkey, which I'd tossed in the freezer after we'd polished off all the leftovers and turkey sandwiches we could eat, and simmered it for a couple of hours with some celery and parsnips I found in the crisper.

The resulting flavorful turkey stock formed the basis for a delicious tortilla soup, based on a Rick Bayless recipe. This soup starts with a puree of rehydrated pasilla chiles, roasted garlic, onion, and tomato, that is then fried in oil to deepen the flavors. This is then diluted with stock into a deep red, fragrant soup. The best part is in the serving, when you pile on crispy strips of fried tortilla, creamy avocado, sharp radish, and plenty of grated cheese that melts into this bone-warming soup.

Turkey Stock Tortilla Soup
adapted from Rick Bayless, serves four

4 to 5 medium (about 1 1/2 ounces total) dried pasilla chiles, stemmed and seeded (also called chilles negros)
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
3 or 4 roma tomatoes or one small can of tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted 
1 medium white onion, peeled, halved, and sliced 1/8 thick
3 Tbsp of vegetable oil for the soup and more for frying the tortilla strips
6 cups turkey broth (see below), or substitute chicken broth
salt to taste

4 to 6 corn tortillas, cut into strips, fried in vegetable oil until crispy, and salted
shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack
1 bunch radishes, julienned
1 or 2 avocados, diced
1 large lime, cut into wedges

1. Seed and stem the chiles. Toast them in a hot, dry skillet for a few moments, until fragrant, and then soak in boiling water until softened, at least 15 minutes. In the same hot skillet, toast the garlic cloves until soft and slightly charred. Peel and place in a blender jar. 

2. Heat a large soup pot. Add 2 Tbsp oil and saute the sliced onion until it becomes nicely browned. Squeeze the onion against the side of the pot to leave as much oil behind as possible and transfer to the blender jar. Add the tomatoes and the drained rehydrated chiles. Blend until smooth. If you like, you can pass the puree through a strained to ensure that the soup is free of any seeds or chile bits.

3. Reheat the soup pan and add the remaining Tbsp oil. Add the chile puree and stir continuously as the mixture thickens and darkens. Add the turkey stock, bring to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes. Taste and add more salt as needed.

4. Serve the soup warm with all of the garnishes for everyone to add as they wish. Enjoy.

turkey stock 
1 turkey carcass
a few stocks celery and a carrot, parsnip, and onion or two

In a large stock pot, cover the turkey carcass with cold water (about four quarts), salt generously, and start heating. Coarsely chop the vegetables and add to the pot. Bring the pot to a simmer, lower the heat, and simmer for about two hours. Allow the stock to cool a bit. Strain and reserve. My batch yielded about 3 quarts of stock.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thanksgiving Menu

It's time to get serious about Thanksgiving menu planning. We'll be enjoying a Fair Valley Farm turkey, and we're going to try spatchcocking itFor vegetable sides, I'm planning on making delicata squash wedges and stir-fried brussels sprouts, brightened with lemon.

The stuffing will be made with cornbread.

And for dessert, I'm making a family favorite of praline pumpkin pie.

Many thanks to the local growers whose produce will grace our table. Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Tofu Banh Mi

When the clocks fall back and darkness descends well before dinnertime, I always feel an enhanced sense of urgency about preparing our evening meal. And no longer can one rely on fresh tomatoes or basil to drive the show. Instead we need to hope for inspiration from root vegetables and greens. One recent favorite solution is these tofu banh mi sandwiches. 

The tofu, from a Mark Bittman recipe, is braised in a concoction of caramelized sugar and soy or fish sauce that produces addictively flavorful slabs. The sugar caramelizing step seems a bit tricky, but every time I've made these, the unpromising sugar crystals at the beginning have dissolved during the braising step and all has turned out well. The Slate banh mi recipe adds a step of pre-freezing the tofu to give it a firmer texture. I've taken to keeping a stash of sliced tofu in my freezer at all times so that we can make these sandwiches on demand (just pull them out in the morning, or thaw in a microwave).

The classic garnish for these sandwiches is the Vietnamese quick pickle of julienned carrots and daikon radish called dau chua. On a family trip to San Francisco last spring, my son discovered a passion for these pickles, so I've been making them quite frequently based on a recipe from Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia. They can be made ahead, but are also easy to whip up along with the tofu. Once you have the pickles and tofu prepared, then all you need to do is slather some good baguette with butter or mayonnaise (if you like, mix in some sriracha sauce), then layer on the tofu and dau chua, and add some cucumber and jalapeno slices and springs of cilantro, if you have them. Even if it's the end of the week and your supplies are low, I suspect that you've got carrots in the crisper and with that tofu in the freezer, you can make a simplified version of these sandwiches. Heck, you could even put them in a tortilla. No matter what, be sure to eat with plenty of napkins.

Tofu Banh Mi

Caramelized tofu
1 14 ounce package of firm tofu, sliced into 8 slabs, frozen, and thawed
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp water
1/3 cup fish sauce or soy sauce
1 large shallot, minced
plenty of freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

Dau chua
2 large carrots
Equivalent amount of daikon radish
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3/4 cup water

For the sandwiches
1 baguette
butter or mayonnaise, mixed with some sriracha sauce if you like
cilantro leaves
1 small cucumber, thinly sliced
1 or 2 jalapenos, thinly sliced

1. First prepare the pickled carrots and daikon. Scrub the carrots and peel the daikon. Trim and julienne them or coarsely grate them (I use a food processor for this and it goes very quickly). Toss with the salt, place in a strainer, and allow to drain for 10-30 minutes (depending on your time schedule).

2. Meanwhile prepare the pickling sauce. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, rice wine vinegar, and water and warm just until the sugar dissolves. Allow to cool completely (you do not want to cook the vegetables).

3. Quickly rinse the drained carrots and daikon and squeeze well. Combine with the vinegar sauce and allow to marinate until you are ready to serve, or refrigerate and store for a few days. Taste before serving and add a little more salt if desired.

4. To make the caramelized tofu, thaw your pre-frozen tofu slices and drain off any liquid they release. Warm a large skillet over medium-low heat. Put 1/3 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon water in a large skillet, stir to mix, and then put your spoon down because you should not stir the sugar as it melts or it will crystalize. Instead, let the sugar warm and bubble and gradually turn a golden brown while you shake and swirl the pan occasionally, about 10 minutes. Now take the pan off the heat. Slowly drizzle in the soy sauce or fish sauce, then add the shallot. Return to the heat and cook, stirring often, until the onion is tender, about 4 minutes. Add the thawed tofu and the black pepper and cook, turning the tofu occasionally, until it has absorbed most of the sauce, about 15 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon rice vinegar and remove from the heat.

5. Prepare the sandwiches. Cut the baguette into lengths a bit longer than the tofu slabs and cut horizontally. Slather the bread with butter or mayonnaise (mixed with a bit of sriracha sauce if you like). Layer on a tofu slab, a spoonful of drained pickled carrot and daikon radish, cilantro leaves, cucumber and jalapeno slices. Enjoy. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Fill your pantry now (and thank yourself later)

As chance would have it, I found myself entirely alone at home for the evening, for the first time in ten years, on the day after Halloween. Candy cauldrons overflowed with unguarded chocolates, but did I dine on twix and kitkats? No, because I was lucky enough to have a stash of caramelized onions in my freezer and a supply of Camas Country Mill lentils in the pantry, which I whipped up into a delicious Mujaddara for one. You too can fill you pantry with beans, grains, and storage vegetables at the Fill Your Pantry community bulk buying event on Sunday, November 17th, from 12-4 pm at Sprout Food Hub, 418 A Street, Springfield. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Banana Squash Salad

Among the impressive array of winter squash on display at Sweetwater Farm's pumpkin day a couple of weeks ago were the hefty, peach colored banana squash pictured on the lower right above. Erica explained that while these massive specimens don't make good supplies for the Good Food Easy CSA, they are cherished by Creswell's chef Heidi Tunnell of Heidi Tunnell Catering Company. Apparently she shaves them raw on salads and uses them to make ice cream.

So at this time of year, when standard school children are replaces with Jedi knights and Hogwarts witches, try transforming your standard salad with shaved winter squash. It looks deceptively like mango and tastes like the sweetest of carrots. Happy Halloween!

Banana Squash Salad
4 handful mixed salad greens
a small fraction of a banana squash (use the rest for soup, curry, or pie)
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1/2 tsp honey
fresh ground black pepper and salt to taste

Wash and dry your greens and put them in a salad bowl. Cut off a small part of your squash. Cut away the skin and use a vegetable peeler or mandoline to cut thin strips. Whist together the remaining ingredients into a dressing. Pour the dressing over the greens and squash and toss to dress. Enjoy.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Kale Florentine

Yesterday was a brilliantly sunny fall day, perfect for tromping around Sweetwater Farm on their pumpkin day. We got to see the last of their summer harvest that supplied the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers market all season long, and the preparation for their winter crops that will continue to supply their Good Food Easy CSA

We're so thankful for all the Sunday mornings that the Fairmount Market farmers got up early over the summer to set up the market. This morning, we indulged in a leisurely breakfast of eggs florentine, made with local creamed kale on top of Eugene City Bakery English muffins and accompanied by Fair Valley Farm bacon. I hope all the farmers enjoyed a leisurely Sunday morning as well.

Kale Florentine
serves 4
2 bunches kale
2 shallots
2 Tbsp butter
1 cup heavy cream
8 eggs
4 English muffins

1. Set a pot of salted water to boil. Rinse the kale leaves and cut out the hard stems. Chop the leaves coarsely. When the water comes to a boil, blanch the kale leaves for one minute. Then drain and rinse with cold water. Squeeze out the moisture from the leaves and chop finely.

2. Peel and finely chop the shallots. Heat a large, wide skillet with a lid over medium heat. Add the butter and once it has melted and started to foam, add the shallots. Cook the shallots until glassy. Add the chopped kale and a generous pinch of salt and saute for a minute or two. Now add the cream, stir well, bring to a low simmer, and lower the heat. Crack the eggs directly over the creamed kale. Cover and cook for about five minutes, until the achieve your desired degree of hardness. When the eggs are done, remove from the heat.

3. Toast the English muffins. Butter them and top with creamed kale and eggs. Enjoy.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Ginger Squash Scones

This Sunday will be the last regularly scheduled Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market of the season, but stay tuned for some additional markets around the beginning of November and just before Thanksgiving, to coincide with Fair Valley Farm CSA pick ups. On October 6th, you can look forward to the following offerings from Sweetwater Farm, Fair Valley Farm, and Tiger Lily Art Company:

tomatillos (make some smokey tomatillo salsa to last you through the winter)
heirloom tomatoes, romas, and tomato deals: 10 lbs/$18, $20 lbs/$30 (makes some sauce)
watermelon, honeydew melons, cantaloupes, and other heirloom melons
Bartlett pears (delicious on pizza or in pancakes)
Akane apples and Asian pears from SLO Farm (make apple sauce)
A wide selection of winter squash (make these ginger squash scones)
corn, green beans and yellow wax beans (make a savory corn pudding)
pepperoncini, poblanos, red hot cherries, anaheim chiles, and assorted pepper bargain bags
eggplants, fresh spring garlic, and onions (make baba ganoush)
cucumbers and zucchini (make some tsukemono pickles)
carrots, cabbage, kohlrabi, and celery (preserve some kimichi)
French sorrel and cutting celery (great as a pesto for soup)
new potatoes and beets (make some mashed potatoes)
fresh herbs including dill, parsley, basil, and cilantro 
bietola, kale, chard, and a variety of lettuces (make lettuce wraps)
dried beans and grains from Camus Country Mill (make teff grain muffins)
jams, salsa, and pickles from Sweet Creek Foods
pastured chickens from Fair Valley Farm (cook up a pot of Pueblan chicken tinga)
floral arrangements from Tiger Lily Art Company

If, in a couple of weeks, you are missing the market, you can see more of your favorite farmers at Sweetwater's Pumpkin Day on Saturday Oct. 19, 10 am-2 pm at the farm (83036 Weiss Rd. Creswell, OR 97426). There will be farm tours and pumpkins for sale, but don't be fooled by these orange gourds that Erica gave our kids. Despite their pumpkin-like appearance, these imposters are actually crazy giant overgrown summer squash! 

On this last market of the season, be sure to pick up a selection of real winter squash (pie pumpkins, butternut, acorn, delicata) to store in you cellar for future winter soups, curries, and pies. With my latest batch of roasted squash, I made these delectable scones, studded with candied ginger. Sized as mini-scones, and they were the perfect midday snacks for the whole family to keep us going through the greying days.

Ginger Squash Scones
makes 8 regular or 16 mini-scones
1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
1 cup whole wheat flour such as Red Fife from Lonesome Whistle Farm
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup roasted squash puree
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 tablespoon candied ginger, chopped into small pieces

1. To prepare the roasted squash, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Halve the squash and scoop out the seeds (save them for roasting, if you feel industrious).  Place the squash cut side up on a baking sheet and roast until soft, about 30 minutes. Scoop out the squash from the skin and mash with a potato masher. Use 1/2 cup for this recipe and save the rest for soup or more scones (it freezes well).

2. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade, place the dry ingredients and the chopped sage, and pulse to combine.

3. Add the butter, and pulse about 10 or so times. You want to retain some small pieces of butter. Transfer the flour mixture to a large mixing bowl.

4. In a large measuring cup, place the squash, egg and buttermilk. Mix well. Pour into flour mixture. With a dinner fork, fold the wet into the dry as you gradually turn the bowl. When dough begins to gather, use a plastic bowl scraper to gently knead the dough into a ball shape.

5. Transfer the dough ball to a floured board. Gently pat into a 6” circle, or for mini-scones, make two smaller circles of dough. Sprinkle with the chopped candied ginger. If the dough feels sticky, chill it for about 15 minutes in the freezer or longer in the refrigerator. With a pastry scraper or large chef’s knife, cut each disc into 8 triangles.

6. Optional (but recommended by mrslarkin): place the scones on a wax paper-lined sheet pan and freeze until solid. Once they are frozen, you can store them in a plastic freezer bag for several weeks.

7. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place frozen scones on a parchment-lined sheet pan, about 1 inch apart. Bake for about 18 minutes for mini-scones or 20 - 25 minutes for regular sized scones, turning the pan halfway through. They are done when a wooden skewer comes out clean. Enjoy.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Ten Pounds of Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce

Pretty much everything I know about Italian cooking, I learned from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, so to honor her passing, I wanted to record how one can scale up her famous tomato sauce recipe (which my sister tipped me off to years ago, well before all the food bloggers). Armed with Hazan's recipe, a few weeks ago I cooked down 10 pounds of Sweetwater Farm's delicious Scipio San Marzano roma tomatoes, producing 10 pints of sauce to freeze away for the winter. I could never bring myself to use quite as much butter as she calls for (scaled up, this would be 6 sticks!), so this is a leaner version, but it still produces the purest, sweetest sauce, a perfect base for all manner of embellishments and delicious thinned into a heart-warming soup. Pick up a flat at the last Fairmount Farmers Market of the season next Sunday. 

Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce for a 10 pound flat of tomatoes
10 lb roma tomatoes
4 or 5 small onions, peeled and halved
1 stick of butter (or more if you wish)
salt to taste

1. Set a large pot of water to boil. Core the romas and score them with a cross on the opposite end. Set up a large bowl of cold water with ice cubes. In batches, use a large slotted spoon or strainer to submerge the tomatoes in the boiling water. After about 1 minute, transfer the tomatoes to the cold water bath. The skin will blister and can be peeled off easily in the time it takes to blanch your next batch of tomatoes. If you get into a rhythm, you can easily get through 10 pounds of romas in about half an hour (with two people, it's even more efficient). Coarsely chop the tomatoes for the sauce.

2. In a 7 quart or larger pot, combine all of the ingredients and cook uncovered at a very slow, but steady simmer  until it is thickened to your liking and the fat floats free from the tomato. Stir from time to time, mashing up any large pieces of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon. For this volume of tomatoes, I let the sauce simmer for about 2 hours. Taste and correct for salt. Remove the onions and reserve for another use (such as pizza toppings). If you like, use an immersion blender to create a smoother sauce. Allow to cool completely and transfer to freezer-safe pint jars. This recipe will make about 8 to 10 pints. Label and freeze for winter.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Grilled Eggplant Salads and Dips

This Sunday will be the penultimate Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market of the season. You can look forward to the following offerings from Sweetwater Farm, Fair Valley Farm, and Tiger Lily Art Company:

heirloom tomatoes, romas, and tomato deals: 10 lbs/$18, $20 lbs/$30 (preserve for winter)
watermelon, honeydew melons, cantaloupes, and other heirloom melons
Bartlett pears (delicious on pizza or in pancakes)
Akane apples and Asian pears from SLO Farm (make apple sauce)
A wide selection of winter squash, including delicata (delicious roasted for salads)
corn, green beans and yellow wax beans (make a savory corn pudding)
pepperoncini, poblanos, red hot cherries, anaheim chiles, and assorted pepper bargain bags
eggplants, fresh spring garlic, and onions (make one of these eggplant dishes)
cucumbers and zucchini (make pasta primavera for the fall)
carrots, cabbage, kohlrabi, and celery (make Pad Thai)
French sorrel and cutting celery (great as a pesto for soup)
new potatoes and beets (make a hash)
fresh herbs including dill, parsley, basil, and cilantro 
bietola, kale, chard, and a variety of lettuces (make lettuce wraps)
dried beans and grains from Camus Country Mill (make teff grain muffins)
jams, salsa, and pickles from Sweet Creek Foods
pastured chickens from Fair Valley Farm (cook up a pot of Pueblan chicken tinga)
floral arrangements from Tiger Lily Art Company

The chilly, damp fall weather is here in earnest, but we can still enjoy a couple more weeks of summer produce, like tomatoes, corn, and eggplant, and a few more opportunities to fire up the grill. If you do, be sure to throw on some eggplants, because once they collapse into charred masses, their soften insides are the perfect palette for any number of dips and salads. If it's too rainy to grill, you can char your eggplant under the broiler or directly over a gas flame, like a bell pepper, until it is blackened and soft (but avoid doing this in a hotel with very sensitive smoke detectors, as I did this summer). 

Smokey Middle Eastern baba ganoush is a delicious and familiar eggplant dip that is best shoveled with warm pita. I came across an interesting variant of this in Fuchsia Dunlop's Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking. It has the same smokey eggplant and pungent garlic, the same salty tanginess (from soy and vinegar, as opposed to salt and lemon juice) and even contains sesame (seeds, not paste), but is an entirely different dish that works as a refreshing salad appetizer. Pick up plenty of eggplants this Sunday to try both ways.

Baba Ganoush
2 large eggplants
2 cloves garlic
juice from 1 lemon
1/3 cup tahini
1 tsp pomegranate molasses
1 Tbsp olive oil, and more for drizzling
generous pinch of salt
Walnuts and mint leaves for garnish (optional)

1. Char the eggplants on a grill or under the broiler for about 30 minutes, or over gas flames for about 10 minutes, turning with tongs, until they are completely soft and collapsed. At the same time, roast a couple of cloves of garlic in a small cast iron pan on the grill, under the broiler, or on the stove, until soft (if you don't mind raw garlic, you can skip this step). Cool the eggplant until you can handle them and then peel off the charred skin with a pairing knife or your fingers. Place the softened pulp in a strainer for about 15 minutes to drain out some of the liquid. 

2. Peel the roasted garlic cloves and in a mixing bowl, mash them into a paste with a fork or pestle. Transfer the drained eggplant to the bowl and add the tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, pomegranate molasses, and a pinch of salt. Mash with a potato masher or a pestle until well mixed and the desired consistency. Taste and add a bit more of any of the ingredients to adjust the flavors to your liking. Spread out on a plate and drizzle with olive oil. Garnish with herbs or nuts if you like and serve with warm pita bread.

Chinese Smokey Eggplant with Garlic
adapted from Fuchsia Dunlop's Every Grain of Rice

2 large eggplants
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp light soy sauce
2 tsp Chinkiang vinegar
2 Tbsp chili oil with its sediment (or use a diced fresh hot pepper and 2 Tbsp sesame oil)
1 tsp sesame seeds
2 Tbsp finely sliced scallions (green part only) 
Cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)

1. Prepare the eggplant and garlic cloves as in the recipe above.

2. Mince the garlic and dice the eggplant pulp. Combine in a bowl and toss with the remaining ingredients. Garnish with cilantro leaves if you like and serve as a salad appetizer.