Archive for Recipes

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

Spicy Peanut and Lemon Basil Pesto

Photo by Molly J Peterson, FoodShed Magazine

 

What to do with the last of the basil, baby ginger and chile peppers that were pick up before the storm: inspired by a peanut and chile salsa-like dish from Réunion Island (“Rougail pistaches”), this pesto-like concoctioj adds a nice kick to sandwiches, omelets and cold or hot meats.

If basil is unavailable, use a mixture of cilantro and parsley.

Yields About 1 Cup

1 cup tightly packed lemon basil (or lime basil or Thai-basil leaves, or cilantro and parsley)
½ cup roasted Virginia peanuts (preferably unsalted)
¼ cup fresh green moderately hot chili peppers (like Serrano or Jalapeno), stem end removed, and roughly chopped
1 clove fresh plump garlic (green germ removed if any)
1 piece of fresh plump ginger root, the size of your thumbnail, peeled and sliced (if using baby ginger, no need to peel)
1 teaspoon sea salt
¼ to ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (or peanut oil)

Place all ingredients except oil in a food processor. Process until smooth, adding olive oil through the feeder tube until it reaches a consistency you like. Scrape bowl down as needed. Don’t over process: You want to see bits of pieces all the different ingredients.

As with all dishes made with basil, the part exposed to air will darken as basil oxidizes. Keep refrigerated for up to a week, under a thin layer of oil.

Locavore log: basil, peanuts, chiles, garlic, ginger

Recipe originally published in Food-shed magazine, Fall 2012.

When You Have Green Tomatoes

 

Just dug and cleaned baby ginger

When I have green tomatoes and baby ginger, I make Green Tomato Jam With Baby Ginger. Because, I have pickled green tomatoes and made green tomato relish in the past… but we don’t eat that much of it.  So the pickles and the relish languish on the shelves. Jam, we eat. Read more

Gingery Custard Pear Tart

A recipe initially published in the October 2012 issue of Food-Shed Magazine.

Pears start to ripen in my area in August (apples in July), but I really don’t start to pay attention to them until after the stone fruit of summer are gone.

Almond and pears in custard – that’s a most classic flavor combination.  Add ginger for a little twist, actually a double twist with the double layer of ginger flavor: the pears are poached with fresh ginger and then candied ginger is added to the custard.

Make sure your pears are perfectly ripe: overripe pears are mealy, underripe pears bland and sometime astringent. Pears are generally sold underripe (most European pears ripen off the tree): keep them at room temperature to ripen them. They are ready to eat or cook when the area immediately around the stem yields slightly under the pressure from your fingers. If the whole pear is soft, it’s likely too gone, with the inside rotten. Once ripe, refrigerate and eat within a couple of days.

A tart pan with a removable bottom unmolds easily. And yes, it makes all the difference in the world, to bake the shell blind and let it cool thoroughly before adding the filling. An

Gingery Custard Pear Tart

Yields a 9″ Round or Square Tart, Serving 8-10 Read more

Venison Chili (with Vanilla and Cocoa)

 

Venison Chili

The flavors of chili

Bow hunting season is less than 2 weeks away. And I am ever so hopeful for a good harvest this year. It is really time too make room in the freezer and use last year’s harvest… and with weather being now markedly – and blessedly – cooler (especially at night), what’s not to like about a good batch of venison chili?

You don’t often see cocoa and vanilla bean called for in chili, but it’s a great combination with chile peppers. We are so used to cocoa and vanilla in sweet recipes that we too often overlook how well they work in savory dishes. In fact, in their native Central America, they weren’t used for sweets. It’s the European palate that added sugar and milk to cocoa to turn it into chocolate as we know it today — and used vanilla for dessert.

If you do not have venison, use fully grass-fed, grass-finished beef – the kind that ‘s on pasture their entire life, and if you can, not Angus but a breed with a more robust flavor, like Texas Long Horn, Scottish Highland or Red Devon. They are perfect for that recipe. But – like venison, they are super lean, hence the need for ground pork (which is also sold as plain/unseasoned bulk sausage).

Venison Chili with Vanilla and Cocoa
Read more