Archive for Recipes

Spring Salads

 

Greens, Herbs & Edible Flowers

Greens, Herbs & Edible Flowers

A wonderful spring for salad!

Tom Thumb Lettuce, Red Sail Lettuce, Red and Green Oak Leaf lettuce, Lamb’s Quarter, Johnny-jump-ups and other violas, lemon balm, monarda leaves, anise hyssop leaves, arugula flowers, mustard flowers, chive blossoms, Bachelor’s Button petals,  dill, purple basil, thyme blossoms, cilantro blossoms, dried cherry tomatoes (from last year’s harvest – marinated in olive oil)… and the ones that make the plate “pop”: Shirley poppy petals.

Mushroom & Crème Fraiche Pizza

Homemade pizza is one of the simple pleasures of life. Make dough. Let rise (as many as 4 or 5 days in the fridge if needed). Roll out dough. Spread toppings. Put in a very hot oven. Open a bottle of beer or pour a glass of wine. Patient 10 minutes. Enjoy.

PS – use a pizza stone: it will immensely increase the quality of your pizza. One word: perfect crust!

PPS – neither tomato nor pepperoni necessary (although sometimes they have their use!)

Mushroom & Crème Fraiche Pizza Read more

Homemade Granola

I admit to loving a good granola, generally over plain yogurt. But many I have purchased and tried are simply not to my taste, either too sweet or with too many added overpowering  flavors — sometimes, both! Also they often contain too many dry fruit that are not up to par.

The solution? make your own.

Remarkably simple as it turns out with about 5 minutes of active time, and of course, fresher and exactly as I like it. And – it never hurts – cheaper than store bought. Since I generally have on hand all the ingredient for it, it only takes just a little over an hour to make a batch: 5 minutes to mix, 30 minutes to bake, 30 minute to cool… and it’s the best granola you can ever have. Perfectly crunchy, lightly sweetened with the complex flavor of good honey, and utterly delicious!

Read more

Panna Cotta By Any Other Name

Pannacotte with blueberry sauce

Panna cotta with blueberry sauce

Blanc-manger, panna cotta or molded cream, the idea is similar: gelatin is added to milk and/or cream infused with herbs, spices or nuts. The end result? A simple dessert perfect for a picnic (if made and left in small Mason jars and kept cool in a cooler) or — when nicely dressed — ready for a dinner party. How to dress it up? Vary the flavoring (change the herb; add rosewater etc), garnish with coulis and fresh seasonal fruit: perfectly ripe berries, barely sweetened sour cherries, rhubarb compote or, when in winter a cooked fruit sauce made with frozen berries.  Top it with a mint sprig or an edible flower. Substitute yogurt for the crème fraiche for a tangier and lighter alternative.  If you can’t have dairy milk, use almond milk or coconut milk (omit the almond meal in either case).  Once the basic technique is understood, there is no end to the fun!

You need to plan a little for that dessert: it needs to be made it the day before as it needs plenty of time to chill and set.

Honey & Creme Fraiche Pannacotta Read more

Winter Swiss Chard

Lard crostini, with spicy Swiss chard & fresh farm cheese

It got down to 5F (-15C) last week and the high for a few days reached low 20sF ( -4 to 66 C) –  cold by our standards, especially with no protective snow covering. especially after the mild fall and winter to date. And yet! yet, how is the Swiss chard doing in its rustic cold frame (the one made with reclaimed storm windows)? Good enough to pick from.

It was even a late planted Swiss chard (that was started in the fall, sat too long in their containers and where finally transplanted in the cold frame in late October (see how it looked back then)

Newly transplanted Swiss chard back in November

But today? today after a really cold week? A very pretty bouquet!

Pretty good looking Swiss chard for January 29, after a long week of a very cold spell

It founds it way into a split pea, sausage and Swiss chard soup – a riff off the classic Tuscan cannelloni, sausage & kale soup (although when I made it, I was not conscious of the riff… this is how one cook after all when cooking without recipes – from memory or from unconscious influences).

I don’t like raw Swiss chard (I never use its baby leaves in salad for example), but I like it a lot cooked. It’s very versatile for one:

  • quick wilted in the frying pan with lots of chopped garlic, then thrown into a soup, with pasta or served as a side vegetable;
  • blanched, refreshed and squeezed dried, they can be tossed with a bean salad, with pasta, into a tart or quiche, in a gratin or on top of crostini.

I don’t really like the ones with all the brighter colors either. They might be pretty raw, but they don’t look so appetizing cooked (the red ones bleed all over!), their texture is rougher, sometimes vaguely unpleasant. I prefer green Swiss chard, and I am always on the look-out for new cultivars to try in the garden.I also really like the ones with a very thick stems – I use them as a separate vegetable. They are perfect in a garlicky cream-based gratin with a sprinkling of hard cheese and bread crumbs.

The recipe below is ideal for a quick lunch or appetizer as you can prepare the Swiss chard (and the cheese if using homemade) well ahead and refrigerate it – bring back to room temperature before using. All that’s needed is to toast the bread, before topping it with cheese and the greens.

Lard Crostini With Fresh Farm Cheese & Spicy Swiss Chard Read more

Parsnip Soup

Parnip roots

I love parsnip. Don’t you?

I don’t grow parsnips (not that I have not meant too…): mostly it’s because I run out of garden-bed space when I would need to direct-seed it. And parsnip holds on its real estate for a long time as it requires a long growing season — so do I grow parsnips? or do I grow a crop of lettuce? followed by bean? followed again by fall & winter greens? oh, and did I mention voles?

So until I have a special parsnip growing box like Deirdre Armstrong ( who has a “parsnip palace” built out of corrugated metal, hog panels and a few feet of compost), I will buy parsnips. They are fairly easy to find, inexpensive and like carrots, keep well in the fridge. A creamed-colored sturdy and homey root, parsnips look like white carrots (to which they are related). Their natural sweetness makes them a favorite for roasting (chunks roasted by themselves or mixed with other root vegetables) or for cream dishes (slices layered in a potato gratin or mashed with potatoes).

Parsnip particularly shines in soup. I offer here the “rich” version with chicken broth and cream. Water can be used and cream omitted for a leaner (but still flavorful) soup (that then becomes vegetarian or vegan). The soup freezes beautifully, so don’t hesitate to make a big batch.

Parsnip Soup Read more

Quince & Apple Tart with Virginia All-Spice

Photo by Molly Peterson (http://www.mollympeterson.com/) for FoodShed Magazine

Those who have read my blog for a while know of the fondness I have for quince – that almost forgotten fruit. Most of the cultivars grown in our area (and they aren’t that many, although they do exist) need to be cooked to bring out their surprisingly floral aroma.That’s probably why it has fallen out of favor: you can’t just bite into it. I have read though that there are cultivars tasty enough for that. But the quince we get here, you have to cook. And how well you will be rewarded.

It is lovely mixed with apples. But if you cannot find quince, use a good home-made or store- bought apple sauce, preferably unsweetened. Virginia allspice (also called spicebush) is a native understory shrub (Lindera benzoin) whose berries ripen to vermillion in late summer and early fall and taste very similar to the true tropical allspice, with a more peppery bite. I collect the berries in the fall and freeze them until needed. Omit them or use allspice if you do not have access to them.

Yes, the tart shell takes some planning. But the crust won’t be soggy!

I prefer to mix apples for a variety of texture and taste, and prefer to avoid apples that remain really firm when cooked.

Recipe for the Quince & Apple Tart with Virginia All-Spice on the FoodShed magazine web site

Prior entries on quince:

– a compendium of recipes from other blogs

– a non-exhaustive list of what to do with quince + quince ice-cream recipe

A Different Kind Of Pie

French Réunion Island where I grew up has a multi-ethnic population, hailing from France, the West coast of Africa, the East Coast of India (Malabar coast), Pakistan (people came when Pakistan was part of the British empire), and Indochina. Its cooking reflects the diversity of its population, each group’s culinary traditions enriching the common cooking pot.

An example is Paté Créole, a savory meat pie probably of French and Indian origins served on feast days, particularly at the beginning of the Christmas or New Year’s Eve meal.

So I think it’s an appropriate pie for Thanksgiving. Read more

Deviled Eggs

 

Initially published in the Virginia Wine Gazette On-line…. but deviled eggs are always in season.

Bring out a platter of deviled eggs at a party and they disappear. They are the perfect party food: you can make them ahead and in quantity, they are easy and people cannot resist them – especially when made with eggs from pastured hens allowed to forage en plein air, eating grass and bugs: those yolks are bright, nutritious and taste like eggs should. Those shells are firm, making boiling a cinch.

Deviled eggs certainly leave room for plenty of variations:  you can make them as homey or as trendy as you care. In fact, I just heard of some made with curry powder and crushed pineapple. Are you still allowed to call them deviled if they aren’t spicy? I was told recently by a gentleman from Alabama that they simply call “dressed” where he comes from.

A few tricks that I use when making deviled eggs: Read more

Preserving Peppers

A sample of peppers I grew this year.

Three bushels of peppers picked in the last 3 weeks. We are eating plenty of peppers, but still…  Something MUST be done. I have used several techniques to preserve them. Peppers are still available at farmers’ market and you may have had a good harvest before the frost too. So here is what I do to preserve my peppers: drying, freezing and several ways to pickle, including hot chunky sauce. Read more