Sunday, November 23, 2014

Pumpkin Cornmeal Pancakes

This weekend I roasted two heirloom pumpkins from Sweetwater Farm, and one of their acorn squashes for good measure. Of course this yielded more than enough pumpkin puree for pumpkin pecan praline pie, so at the suggestion of my son, I made some pumpkin pancakes for breakfast.

I paired the naturally sweet squash with the sweet flavor of corn flour (from Lonesome Whistle Farm). No fan of the cloying flavor of pumpkin pie spices, I restricted myself to a dash of ground cardamom in the batter. But for toppings, we made some cinnamon-spiked sautéed apples, that added just the right hint of Thanksgiving dessert. This could make a nice post-Thanksgiving breakfast, if your guests aren't too stuffed.   

Pumpkin Cornmeal Pancakes with Cinnamon Apples
makes about 24 small pancakes
pancake batter
1 cup pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup fine ground cornmeal or corn flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
pinch of salt
butter for cooking pancakes

cinnamon apples
1 large or 2 small apples, cored and diced
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp turbinado sugar

1. Prepare the pancake batter. Mix together the wet ingredients (pumpkin, yogurt, eggs, vanilla extract) until smooth. In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining dry ingredients. Then gently combine the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. If the batter seems too thick, add a little milk to thin it.

2. Prepare the apple topping. Warm a small skillet over medium low heat. Melt the butter, and stir in the chopped apples and cinnamon. Cook over low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apples are soft and fragrant. Stir in the sugar and cook for a minute longer. Reserve.

3. Heat a griddle and when it is warm, grease with a little butter. Use a soup spoon to spoon the batter into pancakes. When permanent bubbles form around the edge and the color of the batter lightens on top, flip the pancakes and cooked them for a couple of minutes on the second side until both sides are golden brown. 

4. Serve the pancakes hot off the griddle with the apple topping and a dribble of maple syrup.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Fill Your Pantry...with Pumpkin

If you'd like to stock up on locally grown storage fruits and vegetables, beans and grains, don't miss the Fill Your Pantry event hosted by the Willamette Farm and Food Coalition this Sunday from 1:00 to 5:00 PM at the Lane Events Center at 796 W 13th Ave.

For inspiration, above is an heirloom pumpkin I picked up at Sweetwater Farm

destined for my favorite Thanksgiving dessert of pumpkin pecan praline pie, crust made with Lonesome Whistle Farm's Steven's soft white wheat flour. Happy stockpiling.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Roasted Beet and Radish Salad with Oranges

On a quick trip to Boston last weekend, I got to enjoy an unexpectedly sunny stroll with my father down to the Charles River, where the trees were still clinging stubbornly to the last of their famous fall foliage. We stopped at the farmers market, where my father lamented the passing of the sungold tomatoes that had garnished my parents'  salads all summer long. In response, I piled up our shopping bag with delicate squash, kohlrabi, beets, and baby turnips to demonstrate just how well these winter vegetables can top a salad. 

Back home in Eugene, I used the same philosophy to compose an impromptu salad with our remaining Sweetwater Farm beets and daikon radish.

Each vegetable got tossed with olive oil and roasted until sweet and soft. For good measure, I roasted some green onions and then tossed everything with some clementine sections, letting the oniony olive oil and citrus juice serve as the dressing. Piled onto fresh lettuce leaves, this mixture was just as sweet and satisfying as any summer tomato. 

Roasted Beet and Radish Salad with Oranges
serves four
4 small beets
1 medium daikon radish (or 8 baby turnips)
4 green onions
2 clementines
olive oil
~8 lettuce leaves

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the tops and tails of the beets and rinse well (for larger beets, remove their skin with a vegetable peeler). Cut into eighths. On a baking sheet, toss with ~1 Tbsp of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Trim and peel the daikon radish, cut into similar sized pieces, and on a separate baking sheet, toss with ~1 Tbsp olive oil and salt. 

2. Roast the beets and radish for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until a fork can pierce through the largest pieces easily and the radish have browned a bit. 

3. While the vegetables are roasting, trim the green onions and cut them into 1/2 inch rounds. In a small baking dish or oven safe skillet, toss them with ~1 Tbsp olive oil and a pinch of salt and stick them in the oven for about the last 10 minutes of roasting, removing them when they are soft and just starting to char. Wash and dry the lettuce leaves and tear into bite sized pieces. Peel the clementines, slice perpendicular to the sections, and separate the slices along the sections into triangles.

4. When the vegetables and green onions are done, toss them together in a bowl along with any oil from the pans. Toss in the clementine sections. Arrange the lettuce on a platter or individual plates and mound on the roasted vegetables. Enjoy.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Rice Hot Pot

We've been eating a lot of rice hot pots lately, which are perfect for a drizzly midweek meal. Dolsot bibimbap is one of my favorite dishes to order in Korean restaurants, and I always feel so grateful to the chefs who prepare the selection of delectable toppings that are arranged so beautifully in the sizzling bowl of rice. Then I started playing around with heating up rice on the stovetop in stone bowls we'd bought for soup, and I realized that a rice hot pot can be infinitely flexible and an ingenious way to make the most of midweek leftovers and the bounty of our weekly Good Food Easy CSA share. 

The strategy is to cook up a big pot of brown rice or other grain over the weekend, or if you are really planning ahead, freeze meal-sized portions. Then search your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer and assemble a selection of topping ingredients loosely around the five elements below (realizing of course, that every formula was meant to be broken, and many ingredients fit into more than one category). The bowl above, for example, contained Sweetwater Farm kale, rehydrated shiitake mushrooms, and leftover Fair Valley Farm ham, with a side of kimchi. This is a short order chef type of meal with multiple burners going, but it can come together quickly. First rub a little sesame oil in individual stone bowls or a cast iron skillet, pack down a cup of rice for each serving, and start warming the bowls or skillet over low heat. Then prepare your toppings and pile them into the bowls or skillet as you go, ending with an egg on top.  

Some greens: quickly blanched, steamed, or sautéed, then tossed with a splash of sesame oil, and perhaps some sesame seeds.

Some proteinleftover ham, steak, chicken, quickly sautéed and finished with a splash of soy sauce and rice wine; baked or caramelized tofu; edamame beans; fried or poached egg.

Something umami: mushrooms, such as rehydrated shiitakes, quickly sautéed with a splash of soy.

Fresh and crunchy vegetables: shredded carrot, sliced cucumber, sliced radish.

Pickled vegetableshomemade kimchi, pickled chard stems, fermented green beans, refrigerator pickles

Rice Hot Pots
serves four
4 cups cooked brown rice
sesame oil
1 bunch kale (or chard or spinach)
1 cup cubed ham (or other meat or tofu or edamame beans)
canola oil
8 large dried shiitake mushrooms
1-2 carrots shredded (or 1 cucumber cut lengthwise into quarters and thinly sliced)
4 eggs
for garnish: kimchi, pickled vegetables, dried seaweed, sesame seeds, gochujang or sriracha sauce 

1. For 4 cups of cooked rice, use 2 cup dried rice. Rinse in a small mesh sieve, then place in a pot with 3 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and cook, covered for about 30 minutes, until the water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork. You can cook this ahead of time.

2. Boil 1/2 cup water and pour over the dried shiitake mushrooms to rehydrate them.

3. I prepare a meal for four in two individual stone bowls (for the adults) and a cast iron skillet of toasted rice for the kids, who prefer their toppings separate, which leaves one burner for preparing the toppings. Rub about 1 tsp of sesame oil into each stone bowl or 2 tsp into the cast iron skillet. Start to warm the bowls and skillet over medium low flames. Pack one cup of rice per person into each bowl (two in the skillet). Keep them warming over low heat for about 15 minutes while you prepare the rest of the toppings, and a delicious toasted rice coating will form on the bottom. You should hear the rice sizzling and should smell it toasting. If you are nervous that it is burning, use a spatula to pry underneath and take a peak, and you can always turn it off, but not before you have a good layer of toasted rice.

4. Rinse and chop your greens. You could blanch them quickly in boiling water, steam them in the microwave with a splash of water, or quickly sauté them in another skillet. When they are tender, but not wilted, toss them with a splash of sesame oil and a pinch of salt and layer them into one quadrant of the rice bowls or two opposite quadrants of the skillet. 

5. Cube the meat or tofu. In your working skillet, sauté the cubes over medium high heat in a little canola oil , and when they are hot, add 1 tsp each of soy sauce and rice wine. Cook until these evaporate and then transfer to another quadrant of the rice bowls/skillet.

6. Slice the rehydrated mushroom. In your working skillet, sauté the mushroom slices over medium high heat, allowing the moisture to cook off, add 1 tsp soy sauce, cook down, and then transfer to another quadrant of the rice bowls/skillet.

7. Turn the heat under your working skillet to low and crack in four eggs. While these are frying, prepare the crunchy fresh vegetable toppings and gather your pickled toppings. When the egg are cooked to the desired stage, transfer them to the top of each hot pot or skillet half and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

8. Carefully transfer the hot pots or skillet onto coasters on the table. Have people add desired crunchy fresh and pickled toppings and hot sauce. Enjoy.