Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Bountiful Harvest has MOVED

Visit the blog here, at

Thursday, October 2, 2008

My love is like a red, red...

Beet? Apparently. Check out my latest piece for Rural Intelligence, right here.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Pear and Ginger Crisp, courtesy of Bobby Flay

It's anything goes on the weekly recipe round-up over at A Way to Garden and Dinner Tonight, and since lovely Margaret said she was going for pears, I'm going for copycat. (Hey, imitation, flattery, and all that, right?)

This is a recipe I've been making forever (really) based on one that was first published in New York magazine nearly 20 years ago (see? Forever.) It came from Bobby Flay, long before the Food Network was even a glimmer in a media exec's eye, back in the days when Martha was still catering weddings in Connecticut.

This is a great dessert for a party buffet this time of year. It's lovely straight from the oven, but equally good at room temperature or cold from the fridge for breakfast the next morning. Alongside, serve some sweetened whipped cream into which you've stirred a pinch of cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg and ground (dried) ginger.

I was in charge of desserts for a fundraising dinner for a local arts organization earlier this fall, and this is what I chose for the event's harvest theme. It was devoured. You'll thank me (and Bobby, too.)

Pear and Ginger Crisp
serves 10-12

Don't think of substituting anything for the grated fresh ginger: neither the jarred stuff nor the dried will achieve the same flavor. I find it easiest to grate the ginger on a Microplane.

3/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1-1/2 cups all purpose unbleached flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
5 T sugar
pinch cinnamon
kosher salt
9 T unsalted butter, room temperature (softened)
2 T fresh ginger, peeled and grated--about a four inch long piece, give or take
juice of 2 lemons
10 medium pears, peeled, cored and cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch slices

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Make topping: toast pecans in a small saute pan over medium heat until they become fragrant--just a few minutes. Don't let them burn! Mix flour, brown sugar, 2 T sugar, the cinnamon, and salt together in a small bowl. Using a spoon, slowly stir in butter--the mixture will be crumbly and bumpy--and then stir in pecans.

In another larger bowl, gently stir together ginger, lemon juice, 3 T sugar, another pinch of salt and the sliced pears. Turn the fruit into a baking dish, and cover with the topping mixture. Bake until topping is crisp, about 50 minutes.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Welcome, EverydayFoodDeb fans!

Lovely Deb Puchalla of Everyday Food was kind enough to single out my recent article about pressure-cooker comfort food (via her Twitter identity, everydayfooddeb,) and I see by my many new visitors that others are inclined, as I am, to follow her (excellent) advice.

So, welcome to The Bountiful Harvest--while the focus is on eating seasonally and well in New York's beautiful Hudson Valley, I have recipes and ideas that work no matter where you live--hope you'll be back for more seasonal deliciousness to up, butternut squash risotto (and yes, I'll be making in my pressure cooker.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Apple of my eye

This is one of my favorite desserts for this time of year: super simple, gently flavored, every bit as good as what you put into it. (In other words, a strong, sweet-tart apple with no mealiness or mush.) And how can you resist something with the French name Gateau aux Pommes de la Reine des Pommes? (in French, the Apple Lady is promoted to the Queen of Apples--good for her!) It's almost a cross between cake and clafoutis, with an eggy batter just enveloping sliced and peeled apples. You could dress it up with a homemade caramel sauce and some whipped cream, or enjoy it warm from the oven a la mode; it's great cold, too.

Patricia Wells' "The Apple Lady's Apple Cake" from The Paris Cookbook

1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 T baking powder
1/8 t fine sea salt
1/2 t vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 T vegetable oil (I use canola or grapeseed)
1/2 cup whole milk (if you only have lowfat around, that's fine)
4 large or 6 medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into thin wedges (about 2 lbs. total)

The topping:

1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 T unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Butter a 9 inch springform pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and sea salt, and stir to blend. Add the vanilla, eggs, oil and milk and stir until well blended. Add the apples and toss to coat thoroughly with the butter.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and bake in the center of the oven until fairly firm and golden, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the topping by combining all ingredients in a small bowl, and stirring to blend. Set aside.

When you remove the cake from the oven, pour the topping mixture over it and return to the oven for another ten minutes, or until the top is a deep golden brown. The cake should feel quite firm when pressed with a finger.

Cool in pan on a rack for ten minutes. Then run a knife around the edge of the pan, and release and remove the springform side, leaving the cake on the pan base. Serve warm (not hot) or at room temperature in thin wedges.

Week Who the Heck Knows--Bountiful indeed

This week's haul: 2 huge butternut squash, 2 bunches arugula, onions, potatoes, kale, field greens, and braising greens, too, plus my absolute favorite: rapini, or broccoli rabe. Tonight I'm going to try making risotto with some of that squash in my new pressure cooker. Maybe I've been watching too much Mad Men and I'm going all retro? Entirely possible. Stay tuned for the recipe and the results. And tomorrow, it's apple madness with A Way to Garden and Dinner Tonight,
so watch for a couple of pomme-y favorites.

A chicken in every pot?

Check out my latest post on Rural Intelligence--thanks to the divine Mark Bittman, a wonderful, comforting, Chinese take on poached chicken.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Welcome, A Way to Garden-ers!

I've noticed a fair number of new, albeit invisible, faces around here, thanks to my dear friend Margaret Roach, she of the incredible gardening blog A Way to Garden. So, to you all, welcome! Though gardening is not my strong suit (just ask Margaret--she'll tell you!) I do raise some lovely chickens (see the fruits of their labor on the left.) And I'm pretty good at helping you figure out what to do with your lovely garden haul (or if you're like me, your farm share.) So look around, say hello,and do tell me what your recipe needs are--even as we head into fall, the harvest and the creative ways to enjoy it in the kitchen are still bountiful.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Long time gone

These weeks of silence just crept up on me. A week of missing share day here, a family visit there, and before I knew it, this blog had been sorely neglected. The good news is, I have been doing some foodie writing work. Check out my Rural Intelligence articles, here, and here, and here, and here, and here!

And stay tuned for updates--at my house this week, it's all about turning summer into winter, that is: making tomato sauce and pesto to freeze. Mine is truly tomato sauce for the lazy, and even so--it's delicious. I use it as is on pasta, or as the base for a meaty sauce for lasagne.

Lazy Girl Tomato Sauce

2 T extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 onion, chopped
1 t dried oregano
2 t dried basil
4 lbs. tomatoes, very ripe, chopped into 1-1/2 inch or so chunks
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t freshly ground pepper

Heat olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat and add the garlic. Allow it to soften and grow slightly golden, and then add the onion. Saute five or so minutes, until beginning to soften, and add the dried herbs. Stir a minute or two to allow their flavors to seep in, then add the remaining ingredients. Keep over medium heat, stirring to keep anything from scorching on the bottom. When it's good and juicy, turn the heat down to a very slow simmer, partially cover, and allow to cook for up to two hours--checking it occasionally so that it doesn't dry or burn. When it's reached a consistency you like, turn off the heat and allow to cool. Run through a food mill if you like (to remove most of the seeds and skins) and then freeze--for a taste of summer mid-winter.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Mad for Mado

I have a new article up today on Rural Intelligence, a profile of the lovely new Chatham, NY bakery, Mado. Check it out!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

You say....

In trying to plan for today's tomato party, I came to a realization: I can't play favorites when it comes to the love apple. I have never turned up my nose at a tomato, save a really mealy, really big-agriculture-mass-market tasteless and sad specimen decorating a salad at a bad restaurant. Anything farm grown, ripe and lovely, I like, and always have. In my family, the taste isn't so developed, perhaps. My husband only really loves tomatoes in a caprese salad, and everything, as it should be, must be just so: the mozzarella warmed slightly in water before slicing, so that its flavor is optimal; the tomato and basil both absolutely fresh; the extra virgin olive oil bright and fruity. No vinegar to mar these flavors, but a bit of coarse salt makes them sing. My kids confine their tomato appreciation to catsup and pizza, but they're young. They have time.

The rest of us, we don't have so much. Time, that is. Did you feel the cool air last night? Fall is coming. Eat tomatoes while you can. Don't waste a moment playing favorites. Eat them every which way. Try my corn and tomato salad, my potato and tomato gratin, my squash gratin with a simple salad of chopped tomatoes served alongside, and you'll savor this moment.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Week Ten--home again

I made it to the pickup yesterday, after missing two weeks in a row, the first due to absentmindedness, and second due to a detour to Maine. But we're back, and so's the glory of the farm. Romaine lettuce, eggplant, cucumbers, bell peppers, garlic, carrots and ah, tomatoes. The carrots were well-timed, as my son's seventh birthday was today and his favorite cake? You guessed it. The recipe for my favorite version is here. And tomorrow, in honor of Margaret and Deb--some ideas for those tomatoes, ripening on my counter as I type. Lovely.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The green bean party

I'm a little late in joining up with Deb and Margaret, but that won't keep me from posting. I am one of the people who loves, loves, loves green beans. My kids gag at the sight of them, and my husband pushes them around his plate, except when I serve him this warm salad, which I make even in the depths of winter, with the (really quite good) frozen organic green beans available at Trader Joe's.

Warm Green Bean Salad

1/2 lb green beans, blanched in boiling water until tender (usually 2-3 minutes, depending upon the thickness of the beans) and then refreshed under cool, running water
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup shaved parmesan (easiest to use a vegetable peeler
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1 t champagne vinegar
2 t balsamic vinegar
1/2 t dijon mustard
1 T chopped fresh tarragon (optional, but makes it great)
1/8 t lemon oil (optional, but as above)
coarse salt & freshly ground pepper

Combine the olive oil, vinegars, mustard, tarragon, lemon oil, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper in a jar with a lid; close and shake to emulsify; transfer to a small bowl.

Toast the walnuts in a small saute pan over medium heat until they are hot and fragrant but not burnt; add to the salad dressing and stir to combine. Pour the warm dressing/nut mixture over the beans and toss gently. Sprinke the cheese over the top and serve.

For another idea for using green beans, read this post from earlier in the summer.

Monday, August 4, 2008

What's cooking

No one has much of a reason to leave the Hudson Valley in the summertime. And yet, many of us do just that. We find ourselves drawn towards even bigger waters: the Cape, an Island or three, or in my case, Maine. In a few days, we depart for a brief visit with friends in their seaside summer idyll, a lobster-indulged, oceanic-viewed version of what I luckily live year round. And so--it's time to clean out the fridge and the larder.

Tonight, to that end, I concocted yet another gratin, an adaption of one I enjoyed earlier this year from Suzanne Goin's Sunday Suppers at Lucques. I added some eggs and cheese, but otherwise this is quite similar to the one that appears in that fantastic book. (Really, just buy it already. If you are at all experienced as a cook, you won't regret it. If you're just starting out, you might curse me while you're cooking, but not when you finally sit down to eat. Your call.) Alongside, I served the last of the latest planting of mache and arugula from my sorry excuse for a garden, in a salad made with the first local corn I've bought this season and some more tomatoes (nearly as local as it gets, save from one's own garden: from an honor system roadside stand just down the road.)

Not a bad way to clean house.

Tomato, Onion and Potato Gratin

4 large onions, sliced thinly
3 T extra virgin olive oil
2 t dried thyme, divided
kosher salt
4-5 large red potatoes or small-medium Yukon Golds (mine were reds, from the CSA)
3 medium tomatoes
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup heavy cream
pinch of cayenne
1/4 c freshly grated parmesan cheese

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat--I like to use a cast iron one, and prepare the dish start to finish in it. Add the onion, stirring frequently as it starts to brown. Add 1 teaspoon of the dried thyme and a pinch of kosher salt. Turn the heat down to low, and continue to cook and stir, adding water (maybe, say, a quarter cup) if they start to stick too much to the pan. Continue cooking until they are soft and caramelized, stirring occasionally. When they are evenly browned and soft, remove from the heat. Add the pinch of cayenne and stir thoroughly. (Omit the cayenne if it scares you.)

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Slice the potatoes into 1/8 inch thick (thinner is fine, if you can manage it!) slices, either by hand or on a mandoline. Don't bother to peel them. Core the tomatoes and cut into 1/4 inch slices.

Combine the beaten eggs, the cream, the remaining teaspoon of thyme and the potatoes and stir to coat the potatoes thoroughly.

Remove half the onions from the skillet and spread the rest evenly over the bottom. Put in haf the potatoes, arranging them in a layer, and then half the tomatoes. Then make a final layer that nicely alternates potatoes and tomatoes--pour over any cream mixture remaining in the bowl. Top with the grated parmesan and a grating of fresh pepper and cover tightly with foil. Turn the oven down to 375 and bake for 90 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft (test by poking with a paring knife.)

Remove the foil, and turn the oven up to 450 F. Return to the oven and cook for ten more minutes or so, removing when the top is nicely browned. Serve hot, warm or cold.

Tomato and Corn Salad

2 or more handfuls of salad greens--enough to form a nice base for the corn and tomato mixture
1 medium tomato, diced
2 ears of corn, kernels sliced off (easiest to do this by holding the ear of corn vertically in a shallow bowl, and slicing down its length with a short paring knife.)
1 T each chopped fresh flat leaf parsley and basil, or whatever fresh herbs you like: dill, chives or even cilantro, if you like it, would be tasty
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T balsamic vinegar
Maldon salt & freshly ground pepper

Lay the greens in your serving bowl. Combine the corn, tomato and herbs in another bowl, and add the oil and vinegar. Toss to combine. Place the corn mixture on top of the greens, and serve a bit of each (corn mixture and greens) when ready to eat. This salad can sit for a bit in the fridge, since you haven't dressed the greens with the vinegar--they won't get soggy as fast as if they, too, were tossed.

Not Cheesey

My friend Cupcake Show (she has a real name, but I so like her nom de blog) spent part of her weekend doing something I've never done and cannot wait to do--making her own fresh mozzarella. Check out her experiences here, and let me know if you've ever done this--my husband is somewhat horrified by the cheesemaker fantasies he knows I harbor (and which portend the eventual arrival of beautiful goats to our little farm...)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Happy happenings

While I may have forgotten my pickup this week (and I'm still a little mystified as to just how that happened) I have been cooking and writing up a storm. Check out my new recipe (and new gig) over at Rural Intelligence. And, if you've found the blog via that story, welcome, and I hope you'll let me know what you think, and come back!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Cukes and Zukes; The Big Roundup

Inspired by the massive enthusiasm around last week's Pesto Party, I decided to join in the multi-blog cooking party started by Margaret of A Way to Garden and Deb of Everyday Food's Dinner Tonight blog.

This week, the theme is cukes and zukes--the things we all have spilling from our CSA baskets and crisper drawers. I've posted before on some of my favorite ways to use zucchini (and will be doing more next week) but for today, here's a recipe that uses both of these over-bounteous veg to great success.

Lentil Salad

1 c. French green or beluga lentils, rinsed and checked for small stones
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 bay leaf
1 chile de arbol (optional)
1/2 c. chopped parsley
2 medium cucumbers, peeled and chopped into 1/4 inch dice
2 medium zucchini, grated in the food processor or julienned on a mandoline
1 T chopped mint
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped into 1/4 inch dice
1/2 cup cubed feta cheese
1/2 cup Kalamata olives (dry cured are my favorite)
2-3 roasted peppers (jarred are just fine) chopped into 1/4 inch pieces

Layer the grated zucchini in a colander, alternating each layer with a pinch or two of coarse salt, and then set over the sink to drain. Allow to drain for around 30 minutes while you prepare the lentils as instructed below.

Put the lentils, the bay leaf, 1-2 t salt and a few grinds of pepper (and the chile if using) into a small saucepan. Cover generously with water and bring to the boil, then allow to simmer until the lentils are tender but still firm--around 30 minutes.

When the lentils are done to your satisfaction, drain them.

Squeeze as much liquid as you can from the zucchini (you may want to use a salad spinner to remove some of the liquid, but don't make yourself crazy--you just don't want it overly wet.)

Combine the warm lentils with all the other ingrdients and toss, gently, to blend.

Then dress with the following dressing.

Spicy lime dressing

Grated zest of 2 limes
3 T fresh lime juice
2 T chopped shallot or scallion
pinch cayenne
1/2 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. ground coriander
1/4 t. dry mustard
1/3 c. olive oil
2 T. chopped cilantro

Put all in a jar and shake to combine. Toss with the lentil salad, and then add salt and pepper as necessary to taste.

This recipe is adapted from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, a book that, indeed, everyone should own!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What does it mean?

When the author of a CSA-centric blog is so off-center that she completely, entirely forgets to go make her pick up? Nothing good, I'm certain. I'll check in with the farmers via email to get the list, and I'll do a jokers wild farmer's market shop on Saturday instead. Meanwhile I'll have news soon about a new venue for my take on ingredients, cooking, restaurants, cooks, food literature, and just about anything else gustatory that you can think of--as long as it has to do with the beautiful region that I am lucky to call home.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Trip to Bountiful....

Is now The Bountiful Harvest. That's the only change...for now. Watch for breaking news, and someday soon, a new platform. Open source, here we come....

I love tools

SeasonalProduceMap.pngSeasonal Ingredient Map: “Epicurious has created a handy, interactive map of seasonal produce by state. Select a month, hover over a state, and a list of in-season ingredients is displayed with links to the ingredient descriptions and recipes….

Thanks to Brian the Food Geek (check him out!) I discovered this map of seasonal produce, across the country. Why didn't I think of this! No matter, the good folks at Epicurious did, and I am grateful.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Week that Eight my Brain

Sorry for my absence this week--I've had a busy week for everything but cooking, and, apparently, blogging. I worked my second required shift at the farm this week, and again, felt that my contribution was entirely inadequate given how hard the farmers work and how much they give their shareholders. Yes, we pay for the food, but certainly less than retail. This week's haul: field greens, our first broccoli, gorgeous and leafy, onions, loads of cukes, tight heads of cabbage, summer squash, more red potatoes, and eggplant, a Japanese (long and skinny) variety in a deep, deep purple.

I wish I had a great recipe to share, but my big cooking adventure this week, an eggplant and potato curry from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian was a bland bust. In spite of homemade garam masala, coconut milk and lots of fresh garlic (from the farm) and ginger, it was almost flavorless. I found myself salting and salting as I ate to try to find some interest. I did use some cukes in a quick and delicious chopped salad: chickpeas, chopped cukes, tomato, red onion, avocado and olives, with a quick red wine vinaigrette. It made a filling and cool lunch, perfect for the steamy days we've had.

One intriguing possibilty lies ahead, however. When I arrived at the farm to pick up, another customer and one of the farmers were discussing something I've never encountered: a zucchini-based hummus. I'll be experimenting, and I promise to report back.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Greens, greens, greens

I am swimming, happily, in dark leafy greens. Last night, I needed to make dinner quickly and easily, and had three bunches (2 kale, 1 red chard) threatening to wilt in the fridge. I made a red-cooked chicken using this recipe from Mark Bittman's wonderful Bitten blog, some basmati rice in the rice cooker, and this.

Greens with black bean sauce

3 bunches dark greens, tough stems removed
3 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
2 T canola oil
2 T black bean sauce (mine is this, from Guido's)
1/8 t sesame oil
1 c water

Boil a large pot of water and blanch the greens for 3 to 4 minutes. Chard will get quite wilty, while kale will still feel firm, but more tender. Drain in a colander, squeeze to remove someof the liquid, and chop across the leaves in 3/4 inch slices.

Heat the oil in a deep saute pan or dutch oven over medium high heat and add the garlic. Saute several minutes, but don't brown. You just want to soften the garlic and flavor the oil. Add the green and saute for about five minutes--again, don't brown. Add water, a half cup at a time, if the pan seems to be getting too dry. Add the black bean sauce, the sesame oil, and stir to combine. At this point, add the water, if you haven't already. Turn the heat to low and cook ten more minutes, or until tender to taste.

Serve over rice, getting both greens and sauce. I ate this in a deep bowl, with the rice, greens and slices of the chicken all together. Delicious.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Farmer's market report

At the urging of my friend the fabulous foodie (and just about everyone else I know up here) I decided to (finally!) check out the Great Barrington Farmer's Market this morning. Though there were fewer vendors than I expected, the quality was high--and so was the crowd level. The weekenders are here, folks, and they want their produce! Luckily, the fine farmers from Indian Line in Egremont, as well as many others were there, with everything ranging from stone fruit (peaches and plums, a bit hard but I have hopes for them as they ripen) to the first heirloom tomatoes I've seen this year. Variety is finally here, and it's glorious. I came home with some of those peaches (mine from Columbia County, out of loyalty!), Japanese eggplant, a few tomatoes and some lovely delicate leeks which I'll use to try to recreate some amazing potato salad we enjoyed at a friend's house last weekend.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Zucchini for meat eaters. Really. *

*But there's always a catch. You have to like chili. But if you do like chili--you will likely like this one, even if your preference runs towards the con carne. And--you will use up zucchini, and not even notice you're eating it. This is also a completely flexible recipe. No summer squash? Use more zucchini. No peppers? Ok. Leave 'em out. Got black beans, but no pink? No problem. It will taste great, no matter what, it looks pretty, it feeds a crowd, and you won't miss the meat.

Confetti Chili

1/4 c. olive oil
2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch dice
2 summer squash, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 large onion, cut into 1/4 inch dice
2 large bell peppers, preferably red and/or yellow, cut into 1/4" dice
2 T chili powder
1 T ground cumin (best if you grind your own, but any will do)
1 large can crushed tomatoes in juice
4 small cans tomato juice (I prefer low sodium)
1 t dried basil
1 t dried oregano
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper (or more to taste)
1/2 c. chopped Italian parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill (or 2 t dried, if you don't have fresh)
1 can black beans
1 can pinto beans
1 package frozen corn (about 1-1/2 cups) (optional)

Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven and add onions. Saute until just clear. Add zucchini, squash and peppers and stir to blend. Add chili powder and cumin, and cook until vegetables are just starting to get tender. Add tomatoes, juice, and remaining seasonings (except fresh herbs.) Cook over low heat for around 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. (You can cook it longer if you like--it's very forgiving.)

Add the beans, corn, parsley and dill, and cook another fifteen or so minutes. Serve alone, garnished with grated cheddar or jack cheese, with sour cream, etc. Great with cornbread, fresh corn tortillas, or atop rice or couscous.

Week Seven --Late to the Party

Delays and disruption are the order of the week around here, with my partner out of town and my kids going full throttle. I did, however, make it to my pick up on Tuesday evening, and it was my turn to work, if you can call the few paltry tidy-up chores I did at the farm "work." I think we shareholders get off pretty easily--sweeping and unplugging and stacking bins represents not an iota of the sweat that our farmers put into the delicious food they grow for us.

This week's deliciosity was a bunch of repeats (chard, zucchini, pattypan, cucumbers, arugula, field lettuces) and two welcome newcomers: new potatoes, and gorgeous heads of garlic, long greens still trailing. Pictures and recipes coming up shortly...

Friday, July 11, 2008

Finally, a photo, and some thoughts on squash

I think I forgot to sing the praises of those cucumbers (in the foreground) in the original Week 6 post. Haven't tried them yet, but they look lovely.

On to the squash, which I think (and I have no evidence to support this) is the number one subject of complaint about summer (over)abundance.

Two thoughts, both Asian in flavors, both delicious.

First, on the grill. This is a great accompaniment to grilled chicken or steak, adapted from the grilling bible. Slice the squash lengthwise into planks 3/8 inch thick. Brush each slice with neutral (canola, grapeseed or peanut) oil into which you've stirred 2 cloves of garlic, minced, and a pinch each of good saltand pepper. Brush both sides, and leave to sit for a few minutes. Then make a sweet miso glaze: 7 T sugar, 1/4 c white miso, 3 T mirin (sweet rice wine, and 2-3 T water, all stirred together. Grill the squash 6-8 minutes turning once, over a medium hot fire. You should have nice dark grill marks. Then brush the with the glaze, and grill one more minute on each side. Good hot, lukewarm or cold. This recipe is actually for eggplant, not squash, but both are fantastic with this preparation--it has been known to convert eggplant haters.

Second--make a Thai style curry. This is from Mark Bittman's newish How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, a book I just bought and am loving. Easy, easy. Heat 3 T neutral oil (canola, peanut, grapeseed) in a skillet and add one thinly sliced onion. Cook over medium heat until the onion is softened, about five minutes. If it browns a bit, that's ok . Add 2 T chopped garlic, the grated zest of one lime (do you and your kitchen a favor, and buy a microplane graterfor this task!) and 2 dried chiles. Add about 5 cups chopped zucchini or summer squash--I used two small zucchini, a summer squash and a couple of pattypans, and cut them into chunks about 3/4-1 inch on a side. You don't want the pieces too small. Continue to cook the squash until it's softened and a bit caramelized, ten or fifteen minutes--don't let it burn. Add one can of light coconut milk, 3 T Thai fish sauce and 1 T chili paste, or to taste (I like spice, a lot, and for this, I use Sambal Oelek, an Indonesian hot sauce, available around here at Guido's. If you're a chile-phobe, you could leave out both the dried and the paste, and still have something eminently worth eating. However, if you do omit the spice, you might want to squeeze in some lime juice just before serving to brighten the flavors a bit.) Cook until the sauce has thickened down some--about ten minutes--and serve hot over rice. Again, this is a recipe written for eggplant, but divine with a mix of squashes.

Next up--Tex Mex. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Week Six -- Green Day

After the bright red of last week's gorgeous beets, this week's haul is all about green: zucchini, kale, field lettuce, parsley and, just for variety, summer squash, too. To top it off, the first onions of the summer, their enormous green leaves still trailing.

Photo will be up shortly, as well as a report on a great Asian recipe for all that squash. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Francophilic Lexicon, Part Deux

One thing I enjoy living where I do is that the place is lousy with serious cooks. I had never experienced dinner party as competitive (albeit friendly) sport until moving to Columbia County, and similarly, have never found so many knowledgeable foodophiles lurking beneath unassuming exteriors. I recently had the pleasure of working with a lovely carpenter to build shelves and such in our home offices; turns out, he's a chef. When I gifted him with some fresh eggs from our hens, he responded by emailing me the list of delights he'd created with them (some for a slightly unappreciative audience: his young daughters.) The list included bourride (a fish soup thickened with aioli), and he attributed his version to Richard Olney. His incredulity at my ignorance of this influential cook led him to lend me Olney's Simple French Food,and I've been cooking from it ever since.

My affection for Olney has expanded my lexicon. Mangetout has a new rival for best French food name: pois chiches, aka chick peas. Who could resist such an adorable name for the earthy, peasant food staple? Sometimes, in the heady days of summer bounty, I forget that I don't have to cook vegetables in stand alone preparations--it's more than ok to raid the larder for staples to complement, even exalt, the fresh produce. But Olney's recipe for Gratin de Pois-Chiches aux Épinards stopped me mid-read. I love chickpeas (and not just for their newly-revealed charming French name.) I soak and cook them myself rather than buy them canned and the (slight) effort is well worth the tastier, better-textured result. With a giant bag of CSA greens (beet, turnip and chard) lurking in the fridge, I got to work and came up with this. It's fabulous hot, warm or even out of the fridge, and would be a great addition to a dinner party when you know you have vegetarians on the guest list, but don't want to serve a completely vegetarian menu. It would accompany grilled lamb, sausages or even shrimp beautifully, but with some crusty bread and a green salad, is also a filling and delicious main course.

This recipe has a few steps, but they're all easy. Nothing needs a lot of fussing or attention. I served this last night with one of my favorite salads: arugula, shaved parmesan, a drizzle of great olive oil (no vinegar), a sprinkle of Maldon salt, and a grind of pepper. To make this salad, you need great ingredients: farm fresh arugula, and high quality cheese and oil. Locally, check out the wonderful olive oils at Bizalion's. For parmesan, you can't do much better than Rubiner's. Bon appétit!

Provencal Chick Pea and Greens Gratin
(serves 4 as a main dish; 6 or more as a side dish)

1-2 pounds greens (beet, chard, spinach or turnip will all work--more or less is fine, depending upon what you have in your fridge)
kosher salt
2-3 cups dried chickpeas (again, more or less is fine--this recipe doesn't demand precision, for the most part)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 t dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 onion, peeled and stuck with 2 cloves
1 chile de arbol (optional)
4 T extra virgin olive oil, divided (plus more for serving)
1 28 oz. can chopped tomatoes, drained
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 c. chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 t dried savory
1 T raw almond butter
2 hard boiled eggs
1/8 t cayenned pepper
1/8 t saffron
freshly ground pepper
3/4 c. fresh bread crumbs

Soak the chickpeas in plenty of cold water with the baking soda added for at least four hours or overnight. (Make sure to pick them over a bit for stones.) Drain off the water, rinse, and then recover with several inches of fresh water. Add the thyme, bay leaf, onion with cloves, chile de arbol and a generous pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until tender, usually about one and a half to two hours. You can do this the day before; if you do, you might as well make extra chickpeas for salads, making hummus, etc. When they're done, drain off the liquid and reserve it.

Bring a large quantity of water and a teaspoon of salt to boil in a big pot. Add the greens and blanch for three minutes, then drain, reserving a cup of the cooking water (you can add it to the reserved chick pea water.) Coarsely chop the drained greens.

If you haven't already, combine the drained chickpea cooking water and the greens cooking water and bring to a boil; simmer until slightly thickened and reduced to about one cup. If the liquid seems to be getting too salty, stop reducing. Skim off any foam that forms on the surface. Set aside the liquid.

In a skillet, heat 2 T olive oil and gently stew the garlic and tomatoes in it, along with the savory and parsley. Keep the pan on low heat for about fifteen minutes to allow the flavor to meld. Meanwhile, in a food processor or with mortar and pestle, combine the almond butter, egg yolks from the hard boiled eggs, cayenne and saffron into a firm paste. Slice the egg whites into thin slices across their length.

Combine the chickpeas, reduced cooking liquids, tomato mixture, egg and almond paste and egg whites and bring to a simmer. Crush a few of the chickpeas with a wooden spoon to thicken the stew. The mixture should be thick, not soupy. If it seems too liquid, let it reduce a bit. Stir in the greens, and a couple of grinds of fresh pepper, and turn the mixture into a gratin dish (I use an oval baking dish about 15 inches long.) Combine the bread crumbs with 2 T olive oil and sprinkle atop the dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve hot or room temperature, and offer more high quality olive oil to drizzle on top when served.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Weekend report--Eat your roots

I tried out two new recipes on unsuspecting, not-particularly-foodie friends this weekend, and in one case, refused to reveal the main ingredient before the dish was tasted. Why? Turnips, like brussels sprouts, seem to inspire undeserved antipathy. They're delicious raw and cooked, and easy to prepare (save the peeling), but kind of misunderstood, it seems.

I've been eating mine mostly raw, in salads, and they are divine that way. I had some lightly caramelized at a restaurant the other week, and they were good, but I wanted something different. From legendary (and unknown to me until recently, I'm ashamed to say) cook and author Richard Olney, I adapted a fantastic turnip omelet.

Before you wrinkle your nose, let me just say--I know. It's a leap of faith. But in my case, it was rewarded. Deliciously.

Turnip Omelet (adapted from Richard Olney's Simple French Food)

2 bunches baby turnips--enough to give 2-3 cups, packed, after grating
kosher salt
2 T olive oil
2 T butter
1 t savory (I used dried; fresh seems impossible to find and I don't have it in my garden--yet!)
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup pitted oil cured olives, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
3 eggs, lightly beaten

Grate the turnips--easiest in a Cuisinart. Pile in a bowl and toss with a couple pinches of kosher salt. Toss to mix thoroughly and leave to sit, lightly covered, for 30 minutes. Squeeze out as much of the liquid that's been released as you can.

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Heat the butter in a small saute pan--mine was 7 inches. 9 would have worked too; 12 would be too big for these quantities. After it foams, add the turnips, the savory, and a grating of pepper. Cook over low-medium heat until the turnips are tender--15-20 minutes--but don't let them brown. If you need to, turn down the heat. When the turnips are finished, remove them from the heat and allow to cool slightly. (You could do this way ahead of time if you wanted.)

When you're ready to make the omelet, stir the cooled turnips. parsley and olives into the eggs. Wipe out the saute pan and place over medium heat for a minute, then add the oil. When it starts to shimmer, swirl the pan to coat thoroughly with the oil, and add the egg mixture. Cook over medium heat. The bottom will set and the top will still be liquid. At this point, you can put it in the oven to finish, and if you like, you can also call it a frittata. (Finishing will take about ten minutes--watch to see when the top is nicely set and puffy) or you can play at being Olney, and attempt to flip it. This involves loosening the entire omelet--carefully--with a heatproof spatula, and then in a single motion, tossing it up in the air and catching it as it comes down, having neatly reversed itself. I did it this way, and lost part of the bottom layer in the process, but it doesn't really matter. This is divine warm or room temperature or straight from the fridge, if you have leftovers. Serves six as a first course with a bit of salad alongside, two as a lunch with a lot of salad, or one very hungry person who doesn't like to share.

Divine with a good Gruner Veltliner.

Alongside, we made the other root vegetable that seems to make everyone cringe, beets. I hated beets, too, as a kid, and truthfully, I don't love them cooked. Nigella (in that great Forever Summer book) reveals the same prejudice, and suggests we eat them raw. She's right. This is really good, with the lemon and parsley balancing out the sweet and oddly bland flavor of the beets. It is also much better after an overnight marination in the fridge. If you do it that way, add another handful of parsley right before serving.

Raw Beet Salad (adapted from Nigella Lawson)

2 bunches raw beets (about 5 cups, grated
juice of 2 large lemons (or more to taste)
excellent olive oil
sea salt
freshly grated black pepper
1/2 c chopped flatleaf parsley (or more, if you're going to hold it to serve the next day.)

Peel the beets. Wear rubber gloves, and an apron. Trust me on this. Grate them in a food processor. (If you do it by hand, you will have beet juice, which stains mercilessly, all over your kitchen. Totally not worth it.) Toss the grated beets with the lemon juice, a tablespoon or more of the really good oil, the chopped parsley (reserving a bit to put on top just before serving, to make it look lovely and green) and salt and pepper to taste. That's it.

Mark Bittman in his picnic column this week offered a similar salad, and suggested including some goat cheese. Personally, I don't like it when the goat cheese goes all pink from the beets, but I know that's ridiculous. I might try it with shavings of good parmesan, instead, though.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Week Five--Here come the colors

Pay no attention to the poor picture quality, and focus instead on those gorgeous beets (the ones growing in my garden are maybe a third of that size now--maybe) the beautiful zucchini, pattypan and summer squash, more of those delicious crunchy turnips, and enough salad to keep us happy all week. Plus more baby bok choy and two big bunches of chard.

Louisa, of The Wednesday Chef, has a post up today all about CSA love, and it's worth checking out just to see what other farmers are growing and what another passionate home cook is planning to do with all the bounty. She's thinking, as I am, of trying a raw beet salad. There's a recipe in Nigella Lawson's Forever Summer that I've been wanting to try..well, forever. You just grate up the beets and toss them with a bit of lemon, olive oil, fresh dill and mustard seed.
It's worth buying the book, though--it has tons of successful, supremely easy recipes that are great for, duh, the summer.

And, sadly--no mangetout this week. I'm guessing my francophilic pea yearnings will have to wait until next year.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Mangetout, or, J'adore la sérendipité et le franglais

One of my (many) guilty pleasures is my (absurdly overpriced) subscription to the British edition of House and Garden. Now that the American version is no more, this magazine is my main source of shelter porn, and oh, it's good. In addition to the unspeakably fantastic interiors, I love the recipes in each issue. I love reading English recipes, and not just because every single one makes me think wistfully of how late in my life I discovered the brilliant Elizabeth David. Over There, all the veggies have names that are so much more poetic, it seems, than those we use on this side of the pond. Rocket? Courgettes? Aubergine, anyone? Arugula, zucchini and eggplant all taste fine, but somehow the alternate nomenclature makes them sparkle. I also find it funny that the English, Franco-averse in so many other areas, tacitly recognize the culinary superiority of the French in their choices of many of these names. (My mother took the same tack: when I was a kid, she decreed that eggplant would henceforth be known in our house as aubergine, hoping against hope that a prettier name might inspire me to try it. You know what? It worked.)

Yesterday, reading HG, I discovered the nom de cuisine that may be my favorite of all: mangetout. I speak French, and other than a literal translation ("eat it ALL") I had no idea what this could possibly be. The photograph accompanying the recipe (a super-thin Asian-style omelet wrapped around bean sprouts, bacon and the mysterious mangetout) didn't really help--whatever the unknown ingredient was, it had been slivered right into unrecognisable.

The answer (thank you, Google) couldn't be more seasonally a propos, and I am hoping that my CSA pick up this week will, once again, include a healthy supply of delicious mangetout--known here as the more pedestrian "snap pea."

Go fishing

I bought the delicious halibut I made this weekend at Guido's, but having just received my wonderful weekly fish bulletin from Rubiner's, now I know that I can make it again--for $3/lb. less. That's right, restaurant quality wild caught halibut is available for $16.95/lb if you preorder by Tuesday for a Thursday pick up.

What, you don't know what I'm talking about? Matt Rubiner, the Great Barrington cheesemonger whose store is beloved by local foodies, has expanded his offerings to include a wide, seasonal variety of extremely high quality fish and shellfish. From cod to cockerels, peekytoe to piballes, he's had it all, and so far, I've been more than delighted with freshness and quality. Email the store ( to get on the weekly distribution list--every Tuesday, you'll get a summary of what will be available; you call or email back (with a credit card number to guarantee your order) and pick your dinner up at the store (typically on Friday--this week, it's Thursday because of the holiday.) Run, don't walk. This is a tremendous resource for the Berkshire/Taconic region--and they'll even deliver.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Grand slam recipes

You know those times when you make something that works out so well you simply cannot believe it? It's culinary kismet, and there's little more annoying than, months or years later, wracking your brain to remember what dish it was that was such a success.
I've had a few of those lately, and though they're not specifically seasonal, they will be (by later in the season) and they'll bear repeating in August when tomatoes and beans are peaking.

Halibut baked in parchment is fantastic: the fish stays moist and mild, gently flavored by rosemary and olive oil. Last night I served it like a semi-nicoise, atop a bed of arugula, blanched haricot verts quickly sauteed with more olive oil and some chopped shallots, a few oil cured black olives, some just-hard-cooked eggs (9 minutes in simmering water will do it) and a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of more good olive oil on top. Alongside, I served one of the great workhorse condiments you can make: salsa verde. I use Suzanne Goin's recipe, which calls for parsley, mint and marjoram along with the more esoteric: salt packed capers and anchovies. (Locally, you can get both of the latter at Rubiner's Cheesemongers in Great Barrington.)

The idea for a halibut nicoise comes from Goin, too, but my preparation of the halibut is different, and comes from another wonderful and favorite cookbook, I Am Almost Always Hungry, by Lora Zarubin. (Zarubin also has a recipe for salsa verde, but I've been making Goin's for a couple of years now, and I'm hooked. I do not, by the way, make it in a mortar and pestle as she instructs. I cheat, and use the Cuisinart. As my chef friend said, "Mortar and pestles are for geeks." He might be overstating the case a bit, but since I am always cooking under the gun, I cheat as I see fit.)

To accompany the nicoise, I made a potato and tomato gratin, also by Suzanne Goin. This recipe is unfortunately not available online, but hopefully you've already broken down and purchased Sunday Suppers at Lucques.

What's cooking...

That broccoli rabe, sauteed in olive oil with shallots and a pinch or two of red pepper flakes, served alongside some grilled skirt steak rubbed with thyme, pepper and crushed chile de arbol.

This has nothing to do with produce, except that I served it atop some, but: halibut, baked in parchment with nothing more than a 2 inch snip of rosemary and some very good olive oil drizzled atop. 25 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Unbelievable.

Blanched snap peas tossed with pea shoots (hydroponic, from the produce case at Guido's) with the house dressing.

Strawberries. By themselves. Nothing needed. Nothing.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Week Four

More lovely lettuce (heads, this week), gorgeous baby rapini (perhaps my favorite vegetable of all time, challenged only by artichokes and chard,) some perfume-y strawberries, more baby turnips (which, I confess, I exchanged for extra rapini since I still have turnips left from last week) and more snap peas, which I have been blanching and serving in salad with my usual mustardy vinaigrette. No pic this week, but recipes to come.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Week Three -- the summer variety show

Yesterday's visit to the farm brought some surprises--snap peas, two pints of them, and fragrant, deep red strawberries. Field lettuces are back, as is bok choy (tiny, tender, babies this time) and Japanese turnips. Stay tuned for recipes, and those long-promised restaurant reviews. Also--out of town family comes to visit next week, and one of them is a chef. Any great surprise places a visiting foodie must go? Suggest away!

Friday, June 13, 2008

If you can't stand the heat

Summer in my family means something special: my husband cooks. The rest of the year, his culinary efforts are confined to pasta and the occasional quesadilla, though he does make incredible cappucino and espresso, thanks to this (yes, a gift from me. Highly recommended if you're in the market for a high quality, mid-range-price home coffee bar. You'll never go to Starbucks again, so eventually, it will pay for itself.)

But when summer hits, my non-cooking husband morphs, as many American men, do, I think, into the grillmaster. When we left L.A., we left our old grill behind. It had seen one too many cookouts, and we planned to get a new one after the move. Sadly, last summer, it didn't happen, and we were all a little bereft about the lack of outdoor cooking. This year, we both knew it was time. After his usual obsessive 'net research, my husband ended up purchasing this new grill and we both love it.

It's one thing to have the equipment, but what to cook? For this, we turn most often to the Cook's Illustrated "Best Recipe" Grilling book which has been a no-fail guide to outdoor cooking of everything from scallops to steak, peaches to pizza. I'm not a huge fan of the magazine--mostly because a lot of what they want to eat, I don't--but this book is hands down the best we've found for barbecuing. An added plus is that the exhaustively researched, highly precise writing of the recipes is in sync with my husband's world view: there's one really great way to do just about everything. He's not into trial and error, or culinary improvisation, so the CI approach suits him.

For the last two nights, we've made the same thing: grilled scallops served as part of a composed salad with an orange-chile-cilantro dressing. Our CSA salad greens--delicious--formed the base. The first time, we followed the recipe exactly: greens, sliced red onion, chopped hard-boiled eggs (for those, you want to do what the Joy of Cooking says) , crumbled bacon. Last night, we added grilled corn, cut off the cob, and diced avocado. Delicious. Since one of our guests last night was a vegetarian, we also made the miso-glazed eggplant from the book, and I improvised a salad of quinoa, chopped tomatoes, Armenian cucumbers, roasted peppers and sheep's milk feta, all dressed with Deborah Madison's Lime Cumin Vinaigrette. It was a perfect (and really filling) light supper for a warm night.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Week 2 -- Glorious and Green

The haul was similar to last week's, though the lettuces and arugula have matured and so I came home with two large bunches of the latter and two different heads of the former, one red leaf, one bibb. The radishes are the long and sharp ones, again, delicious either as is or in salad. The turnips, if last week's were any indication, are so delicious that they are impossible to resist grabbing as a snack. Really. And I was thrilled to bring home two bunches each of kale and swiss chard, two of my favorite leafy greens. Recipes and thoughts to follow.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Back from Boston

Back from our long weekend, with restaurants to report on--B & G Oyster Bar in South Boston, and The Student Prince in Springfield, Massachusetts. Tune in tomorrow.

Friday, June 6, 2008

I find myself

I find myself here north of Beantown, visiting with one of my oldest, dearest friends, ensconced in her home, a place of consuming, cossetting beauty and great warmth.  Tomorrow, we will head into the city to explore with the short people, plans to include the MFA, the Museum of Science, the Boston Children's Museum, and the US Constitution.  Do you think we can pack it al in?  If not, we will still be mad with joy to be here, and to be with our dear ones.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Week one, continued, oh the joy

I have lamented before my fear of frying. Sadly, it often extends to stir frying, which is lamentable, given that one of my few complaints about my new home is the paucity of Asian food options. Why I won't stir fry is a mystery even to me--it's true that I don't have a wok, and I think that's one of my self-created obstacles. The other, I fear, is all the prepwork that a good stirfry usually entails. Tonight, in my quest to enjoy my beautiful baby bok choy, I threw caution to the wind and opened up the gorgeous (but not oft-used, in my kitchen) Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey through Southeast Asia by culinary world travelers Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford .

I adapted their recipe for Thai Stir Fried Greens with Noodles to reflect what I had on hand, and came up with a delicious, light supper. The original recipe calls for rice noodles, as well as meat (preferably pork) or pressed tofu. Lacking all of those, I made the stir fry anyway, and ate mine atop some brown rice; the H ate his straight, as a thick soup. Either way, delicious.

Thai Bok Choy Stir Fry

3 T neutral (canola, grapeseed) oil
2 T minced garlic
1 lb firm tofu, sliced into half inch by two inch (roughly) batons
4 cups baby bok choy, rinsed, base ends trimmed off
1 T fermented black bean paste
1 T soy sauce
1 T Thai fish sauce
1 t agave nectar
2 T rice vinegar
1 T corn starch, dissolved in 3 T water
1 1/2 c. chicken stock

Cut the bok choy into roughly even pieces by cutting across the entire bok choy to separate the leaf and stem ends into pieces of roughly equal lengths. Then cut the stem pieces into 1/4 inch wide slices (cutting along the length of the slice, not dicing across it.)

Heat the oil in a heavy, deep frying pan (or, ahem, wok) over high heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until it begins to turn golden brown. Add the tofu, and sear over high heat until it begins to brown.

Add the bok choy and stir until it begins to soften and turn bright green, and is just starting to become tender. Add the black bean paste, soy sauce, fish sauce, rice vinegar and agave, and stir to combine. Add the stock, and then the corn starch. Stir, and cover to raise temperature for a minute or so . Remove the cover and cook until the bok choy is tender to your taste and the sauce has thickened. Serves 2 very generously, or 4 over rice or noodles.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Week One

This week's loot included 2 bunches of bok choy (right there, in the foreground;) 2 bunches of spring turnips, tiny, almost tranlucent ivory; 2 bunches of brilliant radishes; a pound of mixed lettuces, red and every green imaginable; and the treasure (as far as this arugulamaniac is concerned,) half a pound of baby arugula.

Now--how to eat it all? The radishes look just lush, which means they might want to be eaten in the traditional French manner, with butter and salt. But I also love radishes shredded or mandolined into matchsticks atop a green salad, with my special vinaigrette. The turnips...hmmm. I fell in love with a turnip gratin published in Gourmet last year, but these are such babies. I might put them into a refined chicken soup, with homemade stock, shredded chicken, carrots, celery and...not much else. The arugula I will no doubt devour in my favorite way: dressed with just extremely good olive oil, Maldon salt, freshly ground pepper and shaved parmesan. The only mystery (and it's only a mystery because I never cook it for myself) is the bok choy. Any suggestions?

The House Vinaigrette

1/3 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 T champagne vinegar
1 t dijon mustard (or more to your taste)
1/4 t lemon oil
a pinch of Maldon salt
a few grindes of good pepper
a pinch of herbes de provence (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a glass jar with a screw-on lid, and shake to emulsify.

Turnips, bok choy, arugula, oh my!

It's official. I love my new CSA.

Picture of the bounty will be up soon, along with links to recipes. I have to go bury my head in a bowl of the most luxuriously peppery arugula I've ever tasted.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Tomorrow, tomorrow

Tomorrow is the first day of summer, no matter what the calendar says. That's because it's my first CSA pick up of the season, and I cannot wait to see what's in store (or, more precisely, in bag.) Stay tuned for the rundown, as well as some discussion of cookbooks you shouldn't live without--and some I no longer want to live with. Anybody interested in some trades? Inspired by this, I'm thinking it's time to weed out the titles that I don't use, but others might enjoy...stop back later this week for details.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

What's cooking, what's growing

Not much progress at the farmer's market in Lenox this Friday, though there were oodles of plants to buy. I was waiting, though, because I knew I'd find some treasures at the plant sale at this year's CSA farm, The Farm at Miller's Crossing, in Hudson. And I did--in particular, some chile plants I'd been looking for, tomatillos, too, so I can make my own salsa and other Mexican dishes this summer.

As for what's for dinner, I'm still stuck on the (really terrific) April issue of Gourmet. (Maybe because May in upstate NY is like April everywhere else?) Every once in a while, Gourmet hits it out of the park for me--I want to cook just about everything in the issue. In any case, there are three recipes that I've found particular delicious, and two of them take about 45 seconds to make. Check out Salmon with Agrodolce Sauce, Broiled Chicken and Artichokes, and Mediterranean Rice Stuffed Escarole. As a side note, the chicken recipe is by Paul Grimes, who is also responsible for an amazing lamb tagine featured in the May issue of the magazine. I made this for a dinner party (using lamb shanks instead of the lamb shoulder called for in the recipe) and it was luscious, perfectly spiced, rich but not overwhelmingly so. A huge hit, and great for this time of year. I served it with couscous and braised carrots flavored with mint from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, a great book which belongs in the kitchen of anyone who eats vegetables, not just those who are true vegetarians.

Monday, May 19, 2008

More kale, more Bittman

The second bunch of lacinato was begging to be dispatched tonight, so I heated some olive oil, tossed in three cloves of garlic, sliced up, an inch and a half piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks, and then the kale, sliced into ribbons. I let it sizzle for a minute then added 3/4 cup of chicken stock and let it cook down, stirring it occasionally. When the liquid had reduced somewhat, I added a teaspoon of black bean chili paste, a recent and accidental discovery. I let it cook nearly dry, so that some of the kale was almost crispy.

This was a side dish for some chicken thighs poached in my treasured poaching liquid from this recipe (yep, Bittman again.) I've made this three times with whole chickens, and tonight with some frozen and defrosted thighs. They simmered in the hot sauce for ten minutes and then I turned off the heat and let them sit for another ten minutes or so before serving. I sliced the chicken and served it and the greens atop my staple rice (short grain brown rice with turmeric and ginger: take 1 T olive oil, heat in a heavy pot, add 2 c. organic short grain brown rice and begin to saute; add 2 T. ground turmeric and a 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into four chunks; after sauteing on medium heat about four or five minutes, add four cups of chicken or vegetable stock, or plain water, and salt to taste (usually, for me, 1 1/2 t. celtic sea salt) and bring to a boil. Once it boils, turn the heat way down, as low as it will go, and simmer until the liquid is absorbed, usually about an hour. This stuff is delicious; I eat it twice a day and don't get tired of it. Maybe that says more about me than about the rice; judge for yourselves.)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Loca-sort of

Dinner party conversation last night was about growing things (the search for a true red geranium) and also about the lack of things grown--the farmer's market pickings are still slim, as we are barely, barely into spring here in near-New England. I did make it to the Lenox market on Friday, and mostly bought plants--herbs and some lacinato kale which I will set out in a week or two. We bought some cider, too, no doubt from stored apples. Fine, but not exactly a sign of things to come.

I did manage to find some fiddleheads at the healthfood store this week, though, and so I decided to experiment with them. (For those who don't know, fiddleheads are fern shoots, tightly coiled baby leaves forming circles about an inch across, shaped like the head of a violin. Along with morels and asparagus, they are a classic first-of-spring delicacy, but one I'd never eaten or cooked.) I first blanched them, then briefly sauteed them in good olive oil with salt and pepper; I served them as part of a salad (they were still warm when I tossed it all together) with pea shoots and goat cheese (both local) and a vinaigrette with champagne vinegar, shallots and more good olive oil. (So much for that locavore thing.) It was good, but the fiddleheads overwhelmed the pea shoots, and the whole thing needed a punch--I think pomegranate seeds would have been a welcome addition. (Again, just kick that whole 100 mile idea to the curb.)

My main course, chicken breasts with a kale stuffing, came from Mark Bittman's Bitten blog, a source of many great meals over the last few months. I adapted his dish, changing his spinach for kale (a California-grown lacinato like the one I plan to plant) and using currants instead of golden raisins, because that's what I had in the pantry. I also added a little chicken stock and cooked the stuffing a bit longer, since the kale is tougher and slower to soften than the spinach. The result was truly delicious, served with brown rice cooked with cumin and ginger, a staple of my diet these days (and another challenge to eating locally.)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

It's almost time...

I have six heirloom tomato seedlings on my kitchen sill, and six enormous boxes containing these down by the barn. The sages say that Memorial Day is when it's safe to put those babies in the ground, so we're close. Meanwhile, my plans for an asparagus patch have been foiled by (yet another) spring running under our ground. I didn't know I needed to have a dowser around to dig a bed, but then again, there's a lot I don't know.

Stay tuned for a Farmer's Market report on Friday.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The season is upon us (me)

A local online paper announced that it's farmer's market season, so I have no excuse to postpone reentering this little blog experiment. Never mind that I missed all the markets this weekend, I have bountiful adventures to share nonetheless. As I dig (forgive the pun) further and further into the experience of growing things, this blog seems like the better place to explore them. So this summer, with any luck, I'll chronicle not only my semi-locavore eating, but also the growing of food (or at least the attempt.)

Yesterday I attended an organic gardening and sustainable farming workshop at the lovely Hancock Shaker Village. If you ever find yourselves in the Berkshires or my little corner of New York, this place is a must see. Not only is the Shaker heritage incredibly important to this part of the world, a look backward at the Shakers' sustainable and logical methods of living and production is ever-more relevant. All day long, I kept feeling that someday soon, the world is going to turn to these experts to help us figure out how to survive, to eat.

The class yesterday was taught by the master gardener and master farmer of HSV, two passionate, funny guys with more wisdom and experience to share than their relative youth might have suggested. We covered everything from vermiculture to drying seeds; I took five pages of notes, received twenty more pages of handouts, not to mention a gigantic bag of compost and well over a dozen plants.

An auspicious beginning to what I hope will be a bountiful season.