Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sage-Roasted Fall Vegetable Salad

This past Saturday was our last CSA vegetable pick-up of the season. Breaking up's been hard to do (and I'm still not over it). I've loved every minute of our relationship with Holiday Brook Farm. Our family was blessed with many of our seasonal favorites and I've tried things I haven't had since my mother MADE me eat them as a child and have been pleasantly surprised to find I like them, I really like them! Many of the root vegetables in the recipe I'm about to share fall into the latter category.

This recipe, adapted from Serving up the Harvest, was included in our CSA newsletter this week and since we received turnips, rutabagas, onions and celeriac in our pick-up this week and I had some local butternut squash posing as a centerpiece on our table, some beets from the farm in the crisper and some sage hanging in there in our herb garden, I immediately began dicing.


1 cup wild rice, cooked according to directions (I used chicken bouillon instead of water)

12 cups of peeled (optional) and diced fall veggies such as winter squash, carrots, beets, rutabagas, turnips, parsnips and/or celeriac
1 onion, diced
1 Tab fresh sage, chopped
3 Tab EVOO
Fresh ground pepper

Cranberry Vinaigrette
2 shallots, chopped
1 cup cranberry sauce/jam
2 Tab fruited vinegar or red wine vinegar
2 Tab fresh orange juice
3/4 cup walnut or olive oil
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

Cook wild rice according to instructions. Let cool.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450. Lightly grease a shallow roasting pan with oil (I just tossed the veggies in it and called it a day). Combine the diced fall veggies, onion and sage in a large bowl. Add the oil and toss gently to coat. Transfer to the roasting pan and arrange in a single layer.

Roast for 30-40 minutes stirring occasionally, until the veggies are tender and lightly browned.

To make the vinaigrette, finely chop the shallots in a blender. Add the cranberry sauce, vinegar, orange juice and oil and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Combine the roasted veggies and vinaigrette in a large bowl. Add rice and toss gently to mix. Taste and add salt and pepper if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.

This dish was really out of this world - from the sweet roasted vegetables to the savory rice perfectly married with just a touch of fruity goodness. This one's a keeper and I'll definitely be adding this vinaigrette to some baby spinach with toasted walnuts and dried cranberries to make a scrumptious salad this holiday season!
As you can see, I served it alongside our roasted free range chicken from EarthFire Farm.
Bon Appetit!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The great pumpkin

I love pumpkins. I love the way they look on the front steps, I adore drawing them with my kids, and I especially love the way they make the house smell when I roast them for their gorgeous orange-russet flesh. Yesterday, I updated my Facebook status to say "I'm roasting pumpkins for their flesh. Yes, they're food. And my house smells like Thanksgiving!" (Yes, I post on Facebook. Don't judge me.)
When I first read Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle," the passage that made me laugh out loud was the one about the pumpkins. She swears that nobody knows that the decorations in their yard and on their stoop are actually edible. You can read that passage here.
I bought a couple of medium-sized sugar pumpkins, scrubbed them free of dirt, poked them with a sharp knife a few times, put them on a baking sheet, and stuck them in a 375 degree oven for about an hour. I think roasting pumpkins and squash this way is MUCH easier than risking fingers and countertops while wielding a cleaver and mallet.

My little orange friends roasted for about an hour; I tested for doneness by sticking a paring knife in. When the knife slid in with no resistance, I knew the flesh was cooked through and ready to puree. After taking them out and letting them cool for a few minutes, I basically just ripped into them, scooped out the seeds and stringy, goopy insides, and lifted the pieces of roasted flesh out of the skin and directly into the food processor. I pureed the pumpkin in the processor till it was smooth, but decided that the puree was a little watery and would benefit from some draining. I didn't want to lose half of my puree through the holes of my colander, so I made a makeshift filter of sorts, with coffee filters. That did the trick, as the water drained right through but the pumpkin stayed inside.

My two pumpkins yielded about 3 cups of smooth, aromatic puree. Now, what to make? I made the "Easy Pumpkin Cake" recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, "Serving Up the Harvest" by Andrea Chesman. It's a great cookbook and all-around reading book, trust me. It came out terrific. There are any number of pumpkin cake recipes out there, just Google it and it'll come up. One of my friends adds chocolate chips to her pumpkin muffins and cakes. I think I'll do that next time!

I still have about a cup of pumpkin puree in my fridge. I haven't decided on its final destination. Because I've (uncharacteristically) been baking a lot this week, we have a lot of sweets. So definitely, something savory is in order. Another one of my friends uses her pumpkin puree in lasagna. She uses the pumpkin as another layer in between the cheese and the tomato. It adds a bit of sweetness, and of course nutrition, to her hearty lasagna. I might try a pumpkin lasagna without the tomato, instead using a bechamel sauce with a touch of nutmeg. Maybe some sausage--I think the sausage's fatty savoriness would be a good foil for the sweetish pumpkin. And wow, wouldn't it be striking-looking, with the creamy noodles and sauce against the bright pumpkin flesh? Hmm, am I onto something? I'll try this on Monday and report back.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Stuffed Delicata Squash

We have a plethora of delicata squash sitting on our counter. It's delicious, but I wanted to try to make it into a main dish. I peeked around at what I had on hand, and this is what I came up with.


2 delicata squash, halved and seeded
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch swiss chard
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup chicken stock (or veggie stock, or even water I'd imagine would be fine)
Panko breadcrumbs
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
Olive Oil


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place squash cut side down in oven-safe baking dish. Add approximately 1/2 inch of water. Bake for 15 minutes. Flip squash so they are cut side up, and bake until fork-tender (varies widely depending on the size of the squash...let's say 30 minutes). Check occasionally and add more water to the baking dish if too much of the water evaporates.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Cut the thick stems out of the chard leaves, and roughly chop the leaves. Set aside.

In a large skillet, saute the minced garlic in olive oil until lightly browned. Add the chopped swiss chard leaves. Toss until lightly wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the beans and chicken stock and cook for approx. 10 minutes until chard is tender, stirring occasionally.

Stuff the squash "boats" with the filling, then sprinkle panko breadcrumbs on top and drizzle with some melted butter. Return to the oven and bake until the breadcrumbs are lightly browned, about 5 minutes.


My husband and I both really enjoyed the mixture of the sweet squash with the more savory filling. I would have preferred a larger squash-to-filling ratio, so I think I might try this again with a thicker-fleshed winter squash, like acorn squash.

Carrot Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mmm, sneaky, sneaky carrots! We've been getting tons of carrots at the CSA, so I had to make something sweet with some. This recipe is originally from Taste of Home, with a few minor changes of my own. Plus, I've halved the recipe here so it doesn't make ridiculously huge quantities, as the first time I made it we had approximately 1 zillion cookies. If you have to feed a roving band of teenagers or something, feel free to double it back up.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup shredded carrots
2 cups quick cooking oats (I used old-fashioned oats with no problem)
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips


In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, shortening, sugar, and brown sugar. Beat the eggs and vanilla. Add the carrots; mix well.

Combine the oats, whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 3 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake for 10-13 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Z - Always The Closer

I grew up thinking Zucchini were supposed to be the size of baseball bats. Really. And not only were they BIG, but they were PLENTIFUL! One of my favorite childhood memories (no mom, it's not shelling bottomless baskets of peas on the front porch) is the endless supply of zucchini bread that was available in our house as a result of this bountiful summer squash.

A couple weeks ago, my other half came home with a fine specimen, which immediately took me back to my youth. So I did what any respectable girl from the Grove would have done. I broke out my recipe book and searched for the letter Z; you know the one that's always bringing up the rear.

As we put the summer of 2009 behind us (according to both the calendar, the end of the Red Sox season and my thermometer on this frosty morning) I felt it appropriate to share this recipe with you. So here it is. May it generate as many happy memories for your children as it has for me.

Mom's Zucchini Bread

4 eggs (farm fresh, if possible - mine came from Holiday Brook Farm)
2 cups sugar
Beat until creamy.
Then add:
3 cups zucchini (grated)
1 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla (I highly recommend Baldwin's)
Mix and add:
3 cups flour (King Arthur)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon (I use more like a Tablespoon)
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. allspice
1 1/2 cups coconut

Makes 2 large or 7 small loaves. Bake for 1 hour @ 350*. I like to sprinkle a little cinnamon & sugar on top before baking.

The perfect accompaniment to your morning coffee or afternoon tea! Try kicking it up a notch by toasting or grilling a slice - YUM!

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Perfect Pork Tenderloin

Those of you who check in regularly have heard me wax poetic about the pastured pork we've been buying from Holiday Brook Farm. We've tried a number of cuts and have loved them all. So when I stumbled upon this recipe for Peach Chipotle Pork Tenderloin over at In Our Grandmothers' Kitchen, I knew I had to try that recipe with their tenderloin.

As I suspected, it was outstanding! I actually made a couple batches of the peach chipotle sauce. The first I made according to the directions (that batch is in the freezer). The second time I used a generous Tablespoon of dark brown sugar and 1/4 cup or so of grade B maple syrup (also from Holiday Brook Farm). That's the batch I used to make the pork tenderloin.

As you can see, I let it carmelize into delectable treat for the senses (okay, maybe not sight, but my sense of smell, taste and touch more than made up for that). This one's a keeper for sure!

I served this with a side of fresh brussel sprouts from our CSA, which were roasted in a touch of extra virgin olive oil and Borsari seasoning. Last, but not least, one of the last, fresh, local ears of corn of the season.

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sometimes Less IS More

I'd been staring at a half head of green cabbage in my fridge for nearly a week, trying to decide what I was going to do with it. This was no average cabbage you see - it was the ginormous variety from our CSA....grown with TLC, it was destined for something special.

I spent some time on one of my favorite recipe sites and stumbled upon this recipe for Frizzled Cabbage. A half hour later, I was eating one of the most delicious side dishes I've ever had. Four ingredients - it doesn't get much easier. Okay, maybe I'm over simplifying things. I took creative liberties with the recipe and added a sliced onion to the mix. I also used Borsari in place of salt (with LOTS of black pepper).

This is what my recipe looked like at what would be the finishing point for most people.

I kicked it up another notch and carmelized those veggies just a wee bit more.

This will be a regular dish in our household during cabbage season from now on.

Bon Appetit!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Roasted Turnips

We got some of those little hakurei salad turnips last week in our share, but I wasn't making salad so I decided to try something a little different. I love root vegetables roasted, so I tossed these in the oven. Pretty good, though my husband was a far bigger fan than I was.


5 fairly good sized hakurei turnips (about 1 1/2 cups diced), diced
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
garlic powder to taste (I think in the future I'd just throw some peeled garlic cloves right on the pan with the turnips!)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Place diced turnips in a large oven safe dish or jelly roll pan
Stir together remaining ingredients
Drizzle butter mixture over turnips, stir to coat.

Cook until fork-tender and browned, stirring occasionally. I'm not going to give you a time as it depends on how small you diced the turnips, but I'd start checking after 20 minutes, though it took me 40 minutes to cook mine.

They come out a nice blend of sweet with a touch of sour from the vinegar. A nice side dish, and something a little different then the way I usually eat them, raw in a salad.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Yogurt--it's not just for hippies anymore

It's cooking season again, as my husband says. I made yogurt yesterday; I made it regularly for a while, but took the summer off. I guess I wasn't looking for rich dairy products in the hot weather.
Dusted off the yogurt maker--yup, I do it the easy way with the little glass jars instead of the way my doctor makes it, in a chipped earthenware bowl, on the counter, wrapped in a sweater that gives it just the right amount of warmth. When I told her I had a yogurt maker, she basically called me a wimp. Whatever--I wasn't gonna argue with her--she knows my darkest secrets!

I guess the biggest issue with making yogurt is the milk. It's got to be processed by the dairy at lower temperatures than the supermarket milk--can't be "ultra-pasteurized." The higher-temp flash pasteurization kills all the good microbes and your yogurt will never set up. Luckily, we can get just that kind of milk locally at Shaw Farm in Dracut. They do the lower-temp pasteurization, not the flash kind, and it makes lovely, tangy yogurt. I'd love to get my hands on some raw milk, but the germ-phobes around here won't let anyone sell it. Julie, I know your neck of the woods has some places you can procure it, sometimes surreptitiously if you say it's for your cats!
I also use a powdered yogurt culture, as in the past I've used already-made yogurt for my culture, and it's hit and miss whether the new batch'll set up.

The Girl helped me with the yogurt-making, and she was surprised that it mainly consists of boiling the milk, cooling it a bit, mixing the culture, and pouring it into the jars. Then it's into the yogurt-maker for 12 hours. If you do this in the morning, you can put the jars in the fridge overnight and have fresh yogurt for breakfast. That's what we all did this morning.
Let me tell you, it's tangy. Definitely not like the candy-flavored yogurt my kids used to clamor for (bubble gum? Are you KIDDING me?) but so good with honey or jam mixed in. Plus it's healthy for your, ...um, ...how do I say, your innards. Eat a jar of this stuff every morning and you'll be talking about your happy colon on national TV just like Jamie Lee Curtis. :)

Butternut Squash Soup

One of my favorite fall/winter dishes is butternut squash soup. I don't have a picture yet as we haven't gotten any butternut squash from our CSA this year, but I'm posting this recipe for my sister-in-law.

I originally got this recipe from my other sister-in-law, who made it for Thanksgiving a few years back. I've been making it ever since!

2 Tablespoons honey
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
Approx. 3 lbs butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
2 yellow onions, peeled and quartered
1 or 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, quartered, and cored (okay to use other varieties of apples, though tart, firm apples are best)
5 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup half and half
1/3 cup coarsely chopped pistachios (I put them in a ziplock, squeeze the air out and seal, then pound them with a mallet) OPTIONAL
Balsamic vinegar OPTIONAL

Preheat oven to 450.

In a small bowl, stir together honey and oil. Arrange squash, onion, and apples on a rimmed cookie sheet. Brush the cut side of the squash and all the onion and apples with the honey mixture. Bake, until tender and well browned, approx 1 hour. Remove from oven, let cool.

Scoop out squash and add the squash, onion, and apple to a large soup pot over medium heat. Add stock, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Partially cover and cook until very tender, approx. 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

****NOTE: you can stop here and put it in the refrigerator for a day if you'd like*****

In a blender or food processor, puree soup in batches until smooth. Return to pot and place over medium heat. Stir in half and half and bring to a simmer.

Serve with pistachios sprinkled on top. Or, if you're dealing with nut allergies (or just want to try something a little different), it's also good with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar swirled on top of each bowl. Though quite honestly, the pistachios are better, says the mom of the kid with a severe pistachio allergy! So it's balsamic vinegar in our house...