Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Give me a P(ea)!

One of the rites of summer in my house is to make risotto with the first farm-fresh pint of shell peas in our CSA share (I've also been known to break down and use sugar snap peas - you can read about that here).  Another favorite summertime combo is snow peas and pasta tossed with peanut sauce.  (Okay, I would eat liver if it was doused in peanut sauce...what's your point?) 

Last week, the pickin' was good at Holiday Brook Farm and the boy and I picked a pint of snow peas in minutes flat.  That same boy then proceeded to eat half the pint of snow peas in minutes flat.  Sigh.  I know, I should be happy about this, but I had plans for those peas!  I was determined though.  I've made many a peanut sauce over the years, but couldn't wait to try the recipe for Peanut Coconut Sauce in my Savory Sweet Life cookbook.

I adore peanut sauce.  So much so, that I was tempted to forego the peas and noodles and just drink it straight from the quart jar in which I'm storing this sauce.  But then I wouldn't have a local, garden-related post to share with you.  So I proceeded, with my measly supply of peas in hand (just how measly will become evident in my 'reveal photo' below).

I followed Alice's recipe exactly, 'though I couldn't find the Chaokoh brand coconut milk that she recommended;  I used Native Forest brand instead.  And I substituted Tamari sauce for Soy so it was gluten free.  Here's the step by step.

Peanut Coconut Sauce - makes almost 2 cups
One 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce (or tamari sauce)
1 1/2 teaspoons red curry paste

Combine the coconut milk, peanut butter, brown sugar, soy sauce and red curry paste in a saucepan and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes stirring occasionally.

Cook's note:  Use this sauce over grilled meat, vegetables, steamed rice, or your favorite pasta dish.  It will keep for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. 

I tossed the sauce with some rice pasta (linguine to be exact) and a handful of snow peas and served it as a side dish with roasted chicken.  Delish!

I asked two of the girls at work if they wanted forced two of the gals at work to try my leftovers and they both asked for the recipe if that's any indication of how good this is!

We'll be drinking this from the container eating this a lot!   Let me know what you think if when you try it.

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Cooking Away My CSA

When most people hear the term 'CSA' their thoughts turn to fruits and (more likely) vegetables.  That's certainly how we began our love affair with CSA's.  But CSA's aren't confined to produce. Some farms include the option for shareholders to purchase shares of eggs, homemade bread, meat, cheese, fruit, flowers or other farm products along with their veggies. Sometimes several farmers will offer their products together, to offer the widest variety to their members. For example, a produce farmer might create a partnership with a neighbor to deliver cheese to the CSA drop off point, so that the CSA members can purchase farm-fresh cheese when they come to get their CSA share. Or a farm may create a standalone CSA for meat, flowers, eggs, or cheese, etc. 

As I mentioned above, we initially joined a vegetable CSA.  My son was four at the time.  Having grown up in a rural area where my parents raised and preserved every jar of jam and jelly, chili sauce and spaghetti sauce, pickles and applesauce and.... (you get the picture) pretty much everything we consumed, I was overcome with the desire to at least expose him to freshly grown produce.  I wanted him to know where fruits and vegetables really comes from and to taste the fresh goodness of organically grown, local produce. Next stop - Holiday Brook Farm in Dalton.  It wasn't long thereafter that Holiday Brook Farm began their meat CSA and we immediately signed up for a monthly pork share too.  We've had a fabulous experience there (just ask my son who ate half our allotted pint of self-picked snow peas last Saturday before I could even get them home).  
Last summer Cricket Creek Farm in Williamstown began a cheese CSA featuring their handmade cheeses and offered the option to pick your share up at Holiday Brook Farm.  Cheese?  Are you kidding me?  Sign me up!  
A few months later, I converted to raw milk (that's another post for another day) and began making the trek to Cricket Creek on a regular basis for their sweet, creamy, Jersey and Brown Swiss milk.  So when they expanded their cheese CSA last winter to include raw milk and meat - you guessed it, I signed up!  They've continued to expand and modify their CSA in an attempt to meet their members needs.  They now offer bread, dairy, meat, ground beef and egg options, in addition to cheese, of course!

But enough of me waxing poetic.  Let me show you some of the delicious goodness that abounds in the Berkshires (and quite possibly where you live too!).  These were all taken in the past week.  Yes, we eat good here!

I hope these images will inspire you to eat good too.  And support your local farms in the process.

Bon Appetit!
Strawberry shortcake with berries from Nourse Farm
courtesy of Berkshire Organics
Boneless pork chop from Holiday Brook Farm
and asparagus from Smiarowski Farm
Grilled Burger with ground beef from Cricket Creek Farm
and sauteed snow peas from Holiday Brook Farm
Morning coffee with fresh 'cream'
(off the top of this bottle of raw milk from Cricket Creek Farm)
Raisin bread toast with fresh farmstead butter
from Cricket Creek Farm
Tom's frittata made with farm fresh eggs from
Cricket Creek Farm and amazing breakfast sausage
from Holiday Brook Farm


Monday, June 18, 2012

Garlic Scape Pesto Pasta Salad

I almost always serve garlic scape pesto over gnocchi.  I love gnocchi.  I love how it stands up to the garlic-y garlic scape pesto.  It's perfect together, if you ask me.  But, the best gnocchi in the world is from Fior d'Italia. They sell at Farmer's Markets all over the region, but I just haven't caught them yet this summer.  It's early, and most markets open this coming week.  So no gnocchi in the house.

But I had garlic scapes.  What to do?  I decided to make a cold pasta salad with garlic scape pesto.

I've previously posted a garlic scape pesto recipe, though quite honestly, I don't really follow a recipe any more.  Just toss into the food processor:  garlic scapes.  Drizzle in extra virgin olive oil and pulse until broken down.  Add in herbs of your choice.  This time I did fresh basil (lots) and mint (just a few leaves--it's a strong flavor so just use a few for a really interesting undertone).  Drizzle in some more olive oil and pulse some more until the herbs are broken down.  Add a ton of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  Add more olive oil if you need.  Toss in a little salt and pepper and a splash of lemon juice.  Whiz it all up again, adjusting any ingredients if necessary.  I hate to give quantities, since it really depends on how many garlic scapes you start with.

Anyway, what I'm really posting here is a recipe for garlic scape pesto pasta salad, so I'm just going to assume you've followed the instructions above, or followed the link, or made your own scape pesto.   Oh, especially because I should note that due to nut allergies in the house, we do a nut-free pesto.  You might be nuttier than us, though.  Knock yourself out!  Throw in walnuts, or pine nuts, or whatever nuts you want.  I'm jealous.


Pasta of your choice.  I used orecchiette today.
Prepared Garlic Scape Pesto
Diced avocado
Any other veggies you have around or think would be good in a cold pasta salad
Squeeze of lemon
Extra freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Prepare pasta according to package directions.  Rinse in cold water after cooking and transfer to a large bowl.

Stir in enough garlic scape pesto to get everything nice and green and coated.

Add some diced avocado and cooked corn.  Plus whatever other veggies you think go in a pasta salad.  Some cherry tomatoes would have been nice, but I didn't have any.

Squeeze some lemon on top and gently stir it all together.  Garnish with some Parmesan cheese.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Pea Shoot Omelets

I've been trying to get to Fat Moon Farm each Thursday afternoon for their farmstand.  Not always an easy task, as Thursday afternoons are piano lessons, and make up t-ball games.  But, it's worth the effort.  Last week, I got there too late--all that was left was pea shoots!  But, as I always say, when life gives you pea shoots, make pea shoot omelets!

1 portabella mushroom
1 small onion
1 big handful of pea shoots
Olive oil or butter
Herbs of your choice (I picked some parsley and chives from the garden).  Optional--use a tablespoon or two, or none
2 eggs (per omelet.  I had enough filling for two omelets)
Splash of milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Diced tomatoes (optional)
Cheese (optional--I wanted to use goat cheese, but turns out I didn't have any.  So I tossed on a little shredded cheddar)

Dice the portabella mushroom and onion and saute in olive oil or butter until soft, about 10 minutes.

Wash the pea shoots.  Coarsely chop into pea shoots.

Mince the herbs.

Add the pea shoots and herbs to the pan with the sauteed mushroom and onion.  Stir, then turn off the heat.  The warmth from the pan/burner will finish cooking the pea shoots and herbs--you really just need them wilted.

In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk the eggs with a splash of milk and salt and pepper to taste.

Place a small skillet over medium low heat.  Melt about a half tablespoon of butter, swirling around the pan.  In general, I'm not a big fan of non-stick cookware, but I have one skillet that I use just for scrambled eggs and omelets.  If anyone has tips for making omelets without non-stick, I'd love to hear them!

When the butter is melted, pour the eggs into the pan.  As the sides begin to set, use a rubber spatula to loosen the edges.  Continue cooking until the top is almost set.

Add a good sized scoop of the mushroom/onion/pea shoot mixture to one side of the omelet.  Top with diced tomato and cheese if you're using.  Use a rubber spatula to fold the other side of the omelet on top.  Let cook for an additional minute or two, then remove to a plate.  Top with a little extra filling if you'd like.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Rhubarb Rhapsody

Last week, I was going along my merry way, just minding my own business when schwoop an email update from Smitten Kitchen landed in my inbox.  This was no ordinary update; a mere glance at the subject line caught my immediate attention - rhubarb snacking cake.  

Described as 'Part buckle, part streusel cake and part crumb bar', I was hooked before I could measure out the first scoop of sugar. In the meantime, to make sure I didn't 'miss out' on such a delectable delight, one of my colleagues forwarded the aforementioned email update to me at work.  (Conspiracy anyone?)

Lucky for me, Sunday was pretty iffy weather-wise.  SO, I whipped up a rhubarb snacking cake for my culinary focus group (aka - the gals at work) to determine whether this recipe was a keeper blog worthy.  The mere fact that you're reading this right now is a quick summary of their feedback. 

I followed Deb's recipe exactly, except I used farm fresh cinnamon butter from Cricket Creek Farm for the crumb topping (in lieu of butter and cinnamon).  

The rhubarb was from my brother-in-law's patch, the eggs were from Cricket Creek Farm and the flour was from King Arthur.  Here's the step-by-step.

1 1/4 pound (565 grams) rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch lengths on the diagonal
1 1/3 cup (265 grams) granulated sugar, divided
1 tablespoon lemon juice (psst, skip ahead and zest it for the cake before you cut it)
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups (165 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/3 cup (80 grams) sour cream

1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (50 grams) light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick, 2 ounces, or 55 grams) unsalted butter, melted

Make the cake: Preheat your oven to 350°F. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch baking pan with butter or a nonstick cooking spray, then line the bottom with parchment paper, extending the lengths up two sides. (It will look like a sling). Stir together rhubarb, lemon juice and 2/3 cup sugar and set aside. Beat butter, remaining sugar and lemon zest with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at at time, scraping down the sides after each addition. Whisk together flour, baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon table salt and ground ginger together in a small bowl. Add one-third of this mixture to the batter, mixing until just combined. Continue, adding half the sour cream, the second third of the flour mixture, the remaining sour cream, and then the remaining flour mixture, mixing between each addition until just combined.

Dollop batter over prepared pan, then use a spatula — offset, if you have one, makes this easiest — to spread the cake into an even, thin layer. Pour the rhubarb mixture over the cake, spreading it into an even layer (most pieces should fit in a tight, single layer).
Stir together the crumb mixture, first whisking the flour, brown sugar, table salt and cinnamon together, then stirring in the melted butter with a spoon or fork. Scatter evenly over rhubarb layer. Bake cake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes. The cake is done when a tester comes out free of the wet cake batter below. It will be golden on top. Cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Cut the two exposed sides of the cake free of the pan, if needed, then use the parchment “sling” to remove the cake from the pan. Cut into 2-inch squares. 

Oh and while we're talking about rhubarb, Maple Valley Creamery is currently offering Taft Farm rhubarb ice cream.  It has the subtle taste of rhubarb in a yummy cream base. Try it while you can buy it!Local peeps will find it at Berkshire Organics

Bon Appetit!  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Strawberry Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

Strawberry season!  What can I say, strawberries are one of those things that you can get all year in the supermarket, but it's just not worth it.  Nothing compares to in-season, just picked strawberries.  I'm starting to see local strawberries pop up in more and more places.  I picked up a quart of delicious tiny, slightly tart strawberries from Springdell Farm in Littleton yesterday.  Besides just eating them plain, one of my favorite things to do is add them to a salad.  Especially with the slightly tart berries like I got from Springdell.  And that's not a complaint--I love when the berries have that touch of sour to go with the sweet.  It's a great match for a vinegar-y salad dressing.

So here's a recipe for strawberry vinaigrette salad dressing.  I'm not going to give you a "recipe" for salad--just add your favorite salad ingredients.  I will, however, suggest you add some crumbled bleu cheese.  It's a great match with the strawberry flavor.  I picked up some of my favorite local bleu cheese:  Great Hill Blue.  Yum!  And I also like to include some sliced berries in the salad as well.  Delightful!


1 cup whole strawberries, hulled
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 to 1/3 cup red wine vinegar (depends on how tart you like your dressing--I've been known to dress a salad with straight vinegar, so I like mine vinegar-y!)
Fresh thyme (lemon thyme if you have it)--about 1 tablespoon of leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon sugar (optional--I forgot it this time and didn't miss it, though as I've mentioned, I like a really tart dressing)


Add all ingredients to a food processor.  Whiz it around until it's salad dressing.  Drizzle over your favorite salad.

Monday, June 4, 2012

We're on facebook!

We've just set up a facebook page!  If you're on facebook, head on over and "like" us.  You know, if you want to :)

We'll be posting notifications when we've published new recipes, and sharing some of our old favorite recipes when the ingredients come in season.

Thanks for reading and hope to see you there!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Scrumptious Cardamom Ginger Scones

There's a local restaurant that makes these heavenly cardamom ginger scones. Every time I'm in their neighborhood in the morning, I just *have* to stop in and grab one to go.  So, when I picked up our CSA share from Cricket Creek Farm last week and saw fresh cardamom butter in the fridge, I immediately knew it was going to be a part of my allotted dairy share.

It was raining yesterday, so I spent some quality time with my friend, Google, and lo and behold came across this recipe for cardamom ginger scones.  Be still my heart, I knew what I was doing first thing Sunday morning.

I followed this recipe exactly, although I *may* have been a bit liberal with the chopped, crystallized ginger.  I love ginger; you can never have too much ginger.  If you adore this rhizome as much as me, be liberal with your ginger too.  You'll thank me for it later.

Oh, and don't be alarmed by the yellowish color of the scones in the picture above.  The recipe calls for brushing the scones with an egg and sugar wash before baking.  We eat nothing but farm fresh eggs from free range chickens (also from Cricket Creek Farm) and their yolks are noticeably more yellow than eggs you buy at the grocery store.  This is due to their diet (the yolks are thicker and richer tasting too)!  After I brushed the unbaked scones with an egg and sugar wash, I sprinkled coarse sugar on the top of my scones. I'm a big fan of the rustic appearance it creates and the crunch it adds to baked goods.

This recipe says it yields 12 scones.  I ended up with a baker's dozen, so was able to enjoy one with my coffee while I packaged up a dozen to take into work tomorrow.  That is if they all make it that far.

This one's a keeper.  I've got some more cardamom butter, which I'm going to freeze.  I'll be making these again. 

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Rhubarb Dal

Yum.  Rhubarb.  I'm late to the rhubarb game--I don't think I'd ever tried rhubarb growing up.  But, I've grown to love the sour/sweet taste in the past few years, and that it's one of the first local foods available each spring here in the northeast.

So, when I was cruising around the internet looking for rhubarb recipes, I came across this dal recipe from Mark Bittman with a suggestion to add rhubarb.  Hey, I'm game!  I love lentils; I love dal!

End result was a truly delicious meal.  The rhubarb added a nice, not at all overpowering, zing to the dal.  Adding this to my rhubarb recipe rotation!

Made a lot of subs to the recipe based on what I had.  So here's my version:


1 cup dried red lentils
1 cup chopped rhubarb (about one large stalk)
2 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground ginger (ack!  I was out of fresh ginger--I'd probably use fresh ginger as the original recipe calls for, though the ground ginger wasn't bad)
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
Vegetable stock (or water) to cover
1 large onion
Coconut oil or olive oil for sauteeing
Butter (optional)
Cooked rice (optional)


In a large stock pot, combine the dried lentils, chopped rhubarb, garlic, and spices.  Add enough vegetable stock (or water) to cover by about 1 inch.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, partially covered, for about 30 minutes until lentils and rhubarb are tender.

Meanwhile, thinly slice the onion.  Add to a large skillet with coconut oil or olive oil and cook over medium low heat until caramelized (it'll take about a half hour, so get it in as soon as the lentils start!)
To serve, place rice (optional) and dal in a bowl, top with a pat of butter if desired, and then with caramelized onions.