Friday, August 25, 2017

Roasted Eggplant and Beans with Marinated Feta

This Sunday at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market you will find fresh eggs and pastured chicken, beef, pork, and lamb from Fair Valley Farm and Fog Hollow Farm, as well as fresh cut flower bouquets from Tiger Lily Art Company. 

Camas Swale Farm will have plenty of summer produce including melons and watermelons, cucumbers, garlic, salad greens, green beans, carrots, a variety of peppers, and tomatoes. 

For the last few weeks, Camas Swale has had pretty purple mottled dragon tongue beans. To preserve their vibrant colors, I served them raw in a composed salad of farmers market produce, along with a mustardy vinaigrette. 

Another week I paired them with a kindred spirit eggplant, roasted both and served with marinated feta cheese. The colors weren't quite as pretty, but the roasted vegetables were delicious coated with the creamy cheese for a summery alternative to a cheesy gratin.

Roasted Eggplant and Beans with Marinated Feta
roasted vegetables
2 handfuls dragon tongue or regular green beans, stems trimmed
1 large or 2 small eggplants, cut into 1 inch cubes
3 Tbsp olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place in two baking sheets. 

2. Toss the trimmed beans with 1 Tbsp olive oil and a pinch of salt. Spread them on one of the hot baking sheets. Roast for about 3 minutes, toss and roast for another 2 minutes until they are slightly charred but still retain some crunch.

3. Toss the cubed eggplant with 2 Tbsp olive oil and a pinch of salt. Spread them on the other hot baking sheet and roast for about 25 minutes, tossing occasionally, until well charred on the outside and soft on the inside. 

4. Arrange on a platter and serve with marinated feta cheese (below).

marinated feta cheese
8 ounce block of feta cheese, cut into 1 inch cubes.
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp black pepper corns
zest of 1 small lemon
about 1/4 cup of olive oil

Place the feta cheese cubes in a snug fitting bowl. Sprinkle with spices and lemon zest and drizzle over olive oil to submerge. Let marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or longer in the refrigerator. Give the cheese a gentle stir and serve with the roasted vegetables.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Pasta with Chickpeas and Cherry Tomatoes

At the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market this Sunday you will find fresh eggs and pastured chicken, beef, pork, and lamb from Fair Valley Farm and Fog Hollow Farm, as well as fresh cut flower bouquets from Tiger Lily Art Company. 

Camas Swale Farm will have plenty of summer produce including melons and watermelons, cucumbers, garlic, salad greens, pardon peppers, carrots, and tomatoes.  

This week I used a pint of Camas Swale's pretty heirloom cherry tomatoes to add bursts of color and sweetness to a pot of pasta with chickpeas, employing a cooking method that's become my personal obsession these days. Rather than bothering with boiling a pot of water to cook your pasta, you can simmer it right in the sauce with flavorful bean broth. The end result is the rich flavors of a minestrone soup, but with the texture of al dente pasta. My approach is to cook a pot of beans over the weekend for tacos, salads, or spreads, and then reserve a pint of beans and a quart of bean broth for a quick pasta dinner later in the week. This is the kind of dish that your future self with thank you for teeing up over the weekend.

Pasta with Chickpeas and Cherry Tomatoes
serves four
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 anchovy filets 
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp Aleppo or red pepper flakes (or to taste)
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 cups cooked chickpeas (instructions below)
3 to 4 cups chickpea broth, plus more boiled water as needed
1 pint cherry tomatoes, rinsed
8 ounces small pasta such as ditalini
chopped parsley for garnish
grated parmesan cheese for serving

Heat a large skillet or shallow pot (for which you have a lid) over medium heat. Also boil a kettle with a couple of cups of water. Add the olive oil and anchovies and break up the anchovies with your cooking spoon as you allow them to melt into the hot oil. Add the minced garlic and and red pepper and allow to cook until the garlic starts to brown and is very pungent. Stir the tomato paste into the flavored oil and allow caramelize for a couple of minutes. Then add the chickpeas and chickpea broth, the cherry tomatoes, and the pasta. Allow the pan to come up to a simmer, lower the heat medium low, and cover the pan. Cook the pasta, stirring frequently to dislodge the pasta pieces that will stick to the bottom of the pan. Keep an eye on the liquid level of the pan to make sure it is slightly soup and add splashes of boiled water as needed, or if it seems too watery then uncover the pan and raise the heat to allow the liquid to boil off. Start checking the pasta after about 8 minutes, but it will likely take a couple more minutes to reach a point where it is just cooked through but still very firm. Turn off the heat, cover the pot, and allow it to sit for a couple more minutes. Uncover, garnish with chopped parsley, and serve immediately with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy.

Cooked chickpeas
2 cups dried chickpeas
1 tsp baking soda
~8 cups water
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp kosher salt

Sort and rinse the chickpeas. Place them in a pot with the water, baking soda, and bay leaf. Bring to a very gentle simmer and cook until tender, about 90 minutes depending on the age of the beans. I like to cook beans in a slow cooker, which takes about 3 hours. When the beans are tender, turn off the heat and add 2 Tbsp of kosher salt. Allow to cool. Strain the beans over a large bowl to collect the bean broth. Use the broth and some of the beans for this recipe. Remaining beans or broth can be frozen for later use.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Soba Noodles with Seared Scallions and Shishito Peppers

This Sunday at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market you will find fresh eggs and pastured chicken, beef, pork, and lamb from Fair Valley Farm and Fog Hollow Farm, as well as fresh cut flower bouquets from Tiger Lily Art Company. 

Camas Swale Farm will have lots of fresh produce: melons and watermelons, strawberries, garlic, salad greens, pardon peppers, carrots, and tomatoes, including heirloom, cherry, and paste (time to start stockpiling sauce for the winter).  

There are certain items one should pick up at the market regardless of your shopping list or menu plans. Our policy is to purchase padron peppers whenever available because they are always a special treat. Similar logic applies to Camas Swale's perfect melons, which don't require a recipe, beyond "eat." Less intuitive might be a bunch of scallions, although pretty purple ones like these are hard to resist.

Lately I've been making a habit of buying a big bunch of scallions and immediately cooking them down in oil into a couple of tablespoons of crisp, sweet, intense flavor. We first tasted these in Shanghai and then recaptured them with the help of Fuchsia Dunlop. It doesn't matter if you have a plan for these at the time, you will simply thank yourself later for having made them. This week we gobbled them up right away as a topping for some soba noodles along with some seared padron peppers, which are essentially the same as shishito peppers so I'm calling them by their Asian name for this dish

Soba Noodles with Seared Scallions and Shishito Peppers
serves four

seared scallions
1 large or 2 small bunched of scallions
1/4 cup neutral oil such as canola
Trim the roots off the scallions. Wack the whites with the side of a large chef's knife to split. Cut into 1 inch lengths. Heat the oil in a skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add the scallions and cook, stirring frequently. Keep cooking the scallions until they are quite browned, but avoid burning them. This will take patience and some nerve, but you will be rewarded with intense flavor. Transfer the scallions and oil to a small bowl.

seared peppers
1 pint padron or shishito peppers
2 Tbsp neutral oil such as canola
sea salt
In the same skillet or wok you used for the scallions, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the peppers and allow to sear until well browned and blistered on one side. Use tongs to flip and brown the second side. Remove to a bowl and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt.

300 g (3 circular packets) of soba noodles
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil

Cook the noodles in salted boiling water until barely cooked through (about 5 minutes). In the meantime, mix the soy sauce and sesame oil in a serving bowl. When the noodles are done, immediately rinse them under cold water and then toss them in the serving bowl. Serve the noodles and top with the seared scallions and scallion oil and the seared peppers. Enjoy.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Pork Chops with Deviled Chard Stems and Chard Gratin

This Sunday at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market there will be fresh eggs and pastured chicken, beef, pork, and lamb from Fair Valley Farm and Fog Hollow Farm. Also you'll find fresh cut flower bouquets from Tiger Lily Art Company and fresh produce from Camas Swale Farm including melons and watermelons, tomatoes, tomatillos (try this roasted salsa), padron peppers, summer squash, sweet onions, and fresh herbs.

Our family let out a collective squeal of delight last week when we saw the first of Camas Swale's harvest of padron pepper, or what my son refers to as "lucky, unlucky peppers." My husband and I love their intense flavor when seared and salted, and our kids love to watch us eat them, since their variable spiciness level makes each new specimen a gamble.

Along with our padron peppers, we purchased colorful chard, sumptuous heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, onions, and sweet cucumbers from Camas Swale, and some thick boneless pork chops from Fair Valley Farm. 

I love the combination of pork with mustard, so I decided to make a mustardy garnish for our seared pork chops of roasted deviled chard stems. With the chard leaves, I made a variation on this zucchini gratin, but with the addition of a cheesy breadcrumb topping. It all made for another delicious midsummer Sunday evening farmers market feast.

Pork Chops with Deviled Chard Stems
roasted deviled chard stems
Swiss chard stems sliced from 1 bunch of chard and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 small lemon
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 teaspoon honey
salt and pepper

seared and roasted pork chops
2 thick boneless pork chops
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

2. Peel the lemon with a vegetable peeler and cut into thin strips. Juice the lemon into a medium bowl. Whisk in the mustard, olive oil, and honey. Stir in the chard pieces and lemon peel. Season with a little salt (depending on the saltiness of your mustard) and plenty of black pepper. Transfer to a small baking dish or oven safe skillet. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the stems are fragrant and nicely browned on the edges.

3. Generously season the pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat until it is very hot. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil to coat the pan. Sear the pork chops at high temperature until nicely browned on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the pan to the oven and continue cooking for about five minutes until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees F. 

4. Allow the cooked pork chops to rest for about ten minutes. Serve topped with the deviled chard stems.

Zucchini and Chard Gratin
1 bunch chard leaves, cut into 1 inch strips
1 small onion, diced
1 Tbsp olive oil 
1 medium zucchini, grated
2 eggs
100 g (scan 1/2 cup) crème fraîche (which you can make yourself, or use sour cream)
120 ml (1/2 cup) milk
1 cup bread crumbs
100 g (3.5 ounces) grated gruyère or aged cheddar cheese 
salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On the stovetop, heat a pan over medium heat. Saute the diced onion in 1 Tbsp olive oil. When the onion is glassy, add the chard leaves. Cook the chard leaves for a couple of minutes until brightly colored but not yet wilted. Season with salt to taste and transfer to a 9x9 inch baking dish. Add the grated zucchini and mix.  

2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and then mix in the crème fraîche, milk, salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the chard and zucchini in the baking dish. Cover with bread crumbs and then with the grated cheese.

6. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes until the gratin is nicely browned.