Tag Archives: garlic

The Heat Is On!

As summer becomes fall, there are still many vegetables in abundance at your local farmers markets, particularly peppers! Look for a plethora of these from mild to fiery hot. You owe it to yourself to consider getting in on this incredible bargain. All peppers freeze well with very little effort. I freeze both bell peppers and jalapeños for salsa, stir-fries and chili; but my favorite thing to make is a savory Hatch Green Chili Sauce. Hatch chilies (a type of Anaheim pepper) come in mild, medium or hot varieties. We grow the medium heat. I use this for chicken enchiladas, white chicken chili, and to spoon over eggs.

Roasted Hatch Chili Sauce adds the perfect Mexican flair for any type of grilled meat, such as flank steak or chicken. I simply freeze it in pint or half-pint containers for future use. Double or triple the batch when they show up in abundance; you’ll be glad you did!

HATCH CHILI SAUCE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cups roasted Hatch chili peppers (remove stems, skin, seeds and membranes), then chop
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups sweet onion, chopped (I use Sierra Bianca’s)
  • 6-8 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Juice of one lime, separated

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. To roast chilies, place them on a preheated gas grill over high heat (or under a broiler). Grill or broil until the skins blister, crack and separate from the flesh. You will need to turn them a few times, depending on their size. Remove the peppers from the heat and place them in a covered glass bowl or inside a ziplock bag to allow them to steam (about 20 minutes). When cool enough to handle, remove skins, stems, seeds and membranes. Set aside until you do this with all the peppers. Then roughly chop.
  2. Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat (I use a cast-iron for this). Once pan is hot add your oil. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the chopped onion. Saute until soft and translucent, about 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1-2 minutes more.
  3. Add flour and stir to coat the onions and garlic in the pan (this is your thickener) about 2 minutes. Add your chopped chilies and combine.
  4. Add chicken stock and half the lime juice; simmer on medium until the sauce starts to thicken, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Add the remaining lime juice and salt. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed. Let sauce cool for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Place sauce in batches in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth.

Yields: approximately 4 pints

“Live life with a little spice!”

Stocking Up!

During the fall and winter there is nothing I enjoy more than a steaming bowl of soup. Commercial stocks are inexpensive, plentiful and convenient, but they will never replace homemade. I typically make 36 quarts of chicken, and 24 quarts of vegetable stock each season, and freeze it for future use. Not only does the house smell terrific while it simmers, it is the foundation for all sorts of delicious meals that include soups, stews and risotto. I find that vegetable stock in particular, benefits from a little love and attention to the ingredients.

If you roast or brown the vegetables before you assemble the stock, the caramelization improves the flavor profile. Adding dried porcini mushrooms and tomato paste will impart a savory or umami element that deepens the end result. Unlike chicken stock which is simmered up to 24 hours, vegetable stock is simmered no longer than 90 minutes. The addition of herbs and onion skins add flavor and color to the stock.

VEGETABLE STOCK

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups chopped onion (save the skins)
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 3 cups chopped carrot
  • 2 cups chopped parsnip
  • 1 cup chopped fennel bulb
  • 2 large garlic cloves, smashed (can leave skins on)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 large handfuls spinach

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Rehydrate dried mushrooms. Place the dried mushrooms in a 4 cup glass Pyrex measuring cup and pour 4 cups boiling water over them. Set aside.
  2. Brown the onions, celery, carrots, parsnips and fennel. Heat the olive oil over high heat in a large stockpot. Add the chopped vegetables and stir to coat. Sprinkle with salt. Cook over high heat for several minutes, stirring only occasionally. Be patient with the browning of the vegetables, as they have a high moisture content. It may take 10-15 minutes or longer to brown them.
  3. Add the garlic and tomato paste and stir to combine. Cook, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes, or until the tomato paste begins to turn a rusty color.
  4. Add the mushrooms and their soaking water, the rosemary, thyme, onion skins, peppercorns, bay leaves, parsley and 4 additional quarts of water. Bring to a simmer, then lower heat to low. After 45 minutes add spinach. Continue to simmer for a total of 90 minutes.
  5. Strain the stock with a basket skimmer or slotted spoon, removing all the big pieces of vegetables and mushroom. Discard or compost. Set up a large bowl with a wire mesh strainer in it. Line strainer with a layer of cheesecloth. Using a ladle or 2 cup measuring cup, pour stock through strainer. When the liquid slows down, you may have to change the cheesecloth.
  6. Pour into jars, or 1 quart plastic deli containers and chill or freeze. Make sure you leave 1 1/2 inches of headspace if freezing.

Yields: 4-5 quarts

“The secret to change, is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” –Socrates

Sweet and Spicy!

There are times when we just have to shake it up a bit! We all have our go-to rotations for meal planning, but it is interesting how a different condiment or sauce can really take a side to the next level (thank you Yotam Ottelenghi). I also appreciate a sauce that can go with many different things, from vegetables, to chicken, lamb or fish. This sauce has it all. Even the color contrast of this dish is striking. As I mentioned last week, using the addition of a flavored olive oil is really wonderful, in this case Persian Lime. It pairs nicely with the fresh lime juice. Skip it if you don’t have it. If you have people in your family that don’t like too much heat, the Greek yogurt that accompanies this side will easily tamp it down.

Sweet potatoes are a terrific vegetable for people watching their weight. They are high in vitamin A, they support digestive and heart health, and they are rich in dietary fiber, keeping you full longer. They also stabilize your blood-sugar, fuel your brain, and since they are loaded with beta-carotene they are terrific for your eyes. So what’s not to like?

SWEET POTATOES WITH YOGURT & CILANTRO-CHILI SAUCE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil divided (Persian Lime if available)
  • 1/2 tablespoon local honey
  • Juice of 2 limes, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 1/4 pounds sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch wedges
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 2 green chilies, seeded and chopped (I use jalapenos)
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed or grated
  • 1/4 cup sliced blanched almonds
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, honey, juice from 1 lime, salt and pepper to taste, and potato wedges. Toss to coat. Spread in a even layer on baking sheet, bake until tender and lightly browned in spots, about 45-55- minutes. Sprinkle with additional salt to taste.
  3. Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse to combine 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, the cilantro, chilies, garlic, almonds, juice from remaining lime, vinegar and a large pinch of salt, until it forms a chunky puree. Taste and add more salt if needed.
  4. Arrange sweet potatoes on a platter; spoon sauce in dollops over the potatoes, dollop with yogurt, drizzle with some olive oil, and serve with additional sauce and yogurt on the side.

Serve 4-6

“Our very survival depends on us staying awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant, and to face the challenge of change.” –Martin Luther King

Edible Culture

As the wind throws our wind chimes against the house, and stirs up whitecaps on the lake; I sit beside our wood burner feeling quite cozy. I was thinking about our kitchen fest last holiday weekend; I absolutely love egg dishes and had made Shashuka on Sunday. The dish’s name means ‘all mixed up’ and in a sense it is. Its name dates back to the Ottoman Empire and is a favorite in the Middle East, Israel and North Africa. It’s hardy, affordable and delicious with warm spices of cumin and smoked paprika, along with tomatoes, sweet peppers, chickpeas, onion, garlic and of course eggs. There are several similar egg dishes in the world that have some of these ingredients along with their own cultural flair. I have always thought that any dish combining tomatoes and eggs is an automatic winner.

Shashuka has a comforting nature and healthy ingredients. There are many variations that allow for levels of spiciness, along with vegetables, herbs and meat. You can add ground lamb or sausage before sautéing the onion and pepper, and garnish it with feta; or you can make it more Tex-Mex by omitting the paprika and adding chili powder, black beans or corn, then finishing it with chopped fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice. It’s just plain flexible, so let your imagination soar. These days, practically any dish in which eggs are cooked in a sauce may be called Shashuka. In my last cookbook I have a recipe for Green Shashuka, made with spinach, Swiss chard, arugula or kale; along with onions, garlic, herbs, cream and feta.

SHASHUKA

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 sweet peppers, I like one red and one yellow, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 15-oz cans fire roasted tomatoes (or 6-8 fresh Roma tomatoes, chopped)
  • 1 15-oz can rinsed chickpeas
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 cups packed baby spinach
  • 2 fresh eggs per person
  • 1/2 cup fresh micro-greens, chopped fresh parsley or cilantro for garnish
Let’s start with onions and garlic
Then add beautiful peppers and tomatoes

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large non-stick or cast iron skillet, heat your oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté for 3-4 minutes or until soft and translucent; add garlic and sauté 1 minute more. Add peppers and fresh tomatoes if using; cook until soft, about 8-10 minutes.
  2. Add fire-roasted tomatoes if using, then cumin, smoked paprika, Aleppo pepper (or red pepper flakes), black pepper, chickpeas and tomato paste. Stir to combine. Simmer until thickened, about 5-8 more minutes.
  3. Stir in baby spinach and fold gently until spinach wilts. Make indentations in the sauce and gently crack the eggs into the wells. Season eggs with salt and pepper. Cover the skillet, and cook until the egg whites are just set, but yolks are still soft, about 7-10 minutes.
  4. Carry skillet to table and serve hot, sprinkled with garnish of your choice.

Serves: 2-6

Eggs poaching in sauce
Beautiful Shashuka ready to eat!!

“Food is love!!”

Basic Comfort

As we dive into our pantry’s and larder’s, there are few things more affordable than beans. I always have assorted cans on hand for dinners that come together quickly. But when it comes to a texture and flavor difference, I can’t recommend enough, using dried beans. My goodness, could anything be more pantry stable and down right cheap? As many of us are home more than usual due to the pandemic, this is the perfect time to simmer up a pot of these amazing nuggets.

There are four dried beans that I always have on hand, both for their versatility and flavor: cannellini, chickpeas, dark red kidneys, and black. You can create beautiful soups, stews, salads and braises. It is not difficult to cook dried beans; it’s really a matter of time. Although I own an Instant Pot, I prefer to cook beans on the stove. I find that electric pressure cookers give you a lack of control. The beans tend to split and rupture their skins when cooked in a pressure cooker. The beauty of controlling the simmer and cooking time is they will be just right for your application. The only thing you really need to plan is soaking them overnight.

A pot on cannellini’s ready for the stove.

Sometimes you will cook beans to add to your recipe; other times they are part of the recipe and are cooked with your meat. There are a few nuances that I suggest when cooking beans. The most important one is don’t salt your beans while they are cooking. Salt makes the skins tough and doesn’t allow the bean to become soft. Once your beans are cooked to the texture required for your recipe, then feel free to add salt. Beans require salt! I also like to add a few cloves of garlic and a bay leaf, but this is an option, not a requirement. There is such a thing as the pot liqueur or the bean cooking liquid. When I cooked beans for this stew, I dished up a cup of the beans, pot liqueur and topped it with homemade basil oil. I literally swooned!

The following stew is a great way to use cooked cannellini beans. You can use either bulk Italian sausage or link. If you use links, you will simply remove their casings before cooking. The spinach adds a nice texture and color. If you don’t have spinach, you can use Swiss chard or ribboned kale or leave it out completely. The stew will still taste great!!

ITALIAN STEW WITH CANNELLINI AND SAUSAGE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups dried cannellini beans
  • 3 cloves garlic and 1 bay leaf (optional)
  • 4 ounces pancetta, finally cubed
  • 1 pound bulk/or 5 links, Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced 1/4 inch
  • 2 cups (packed) fresh baby spinach
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

FOR THE BEANS:

  1. Soak your 2 cups of beans overnight. Cover them with about 4 inches of water.
  2. Drain your beans and place in a Dutch oven of enamel covered cast iron pot and cover with water about 2 inches. Add garlic and bay leaf if using. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to a simmer. Cover and cook 45-90 minutes until soft. Once soft, add 1 teaspoon Kosher salt and simmer 15 minutes more. Drain and separate beans in half. You will puree one half to thicken stew.
Italian sausage and pancetta

FOR STEW:

  1. If using links, take the sausage meat out of its casings and crumble it into a large soup pot, along with the pancetta.
  2. Cook over medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes, until thoroughly cooked and slightly browned. Meanwhile, prep the other ingredients.
  3. Transfer the sausage and pancetta to a plate lined with paper towels, leaving 2 tablespoons of fat in the pot (spoon any excess out).
  4. Add the onion to the pot and sauté for 3-5 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
  5. Add the beans, chicken broth, Italian seasoning, and rosemary. Stir thoroughly and dissolve any browned bits in the bottom of pot. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. With an immersion blender, (I use a quart Mason jar) puree the remaining half of cooked beans until smooth. Add them back to the pot, along with the sausage and pancetta. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. Remove stew from heat and stir in the baby spinach. The spinach will wilt in about 2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot.

Serves 4-6

Ready to serve
Savory Italian bean and sausage stew.

” A stew sustains you against the hungers of the world.”

Notch It Up!

I’m sure many of you have made something for your families that needed something extra, but you’re not quite sure what it is. Well, I may have the answer for you: Roasted Sweet Pepper and Tomato Sauce. This sauce has it all; it’s sweet, yet piquant, savory and adaptable to so many dishes. The secret is in the roasting. Roasting as we know deepens the flavor of all vegetables and this is no exception. Roasting is so helpful that you can make this sauce even with greenhouse peppers and tomatoes. For me, if I’m going to go through the process, why not make enough to put up? This sauce can be canned in a water bath for 15 minutes, or frozen in half-pint jars. If you roast one sheet pan of peppers, and one sheet pan of tomatoes and garlic it will yield about 5-6 half pints.

But the real deal is just how many uses you will have for it! I’m fond of plating a sauce under an entre like lamb meatballs (next week’s recipe) or cauliflower cake. You can spoon it over a piece of toast or an English muffin and top it with a poached egg. Spoon it over scrambled eggs, or hard boiled eggs or on a sandwich instead of mayo. You are only limited by your imagination!

Sweet peppers ready to be roasted
Halved tomatoes and garlic ready for roasting.

ROASTED SWEET PEPPER AND TOMATO SAUCE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 sweet peppers, your choice of color, but include one red, halved vertically and seeded
  • 2 tomatoes, cored and cut in half horizontally
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 head of garlic, tops trimmed just enough to expose cloves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
Roasted peppers
Roasted tomatoes

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Line a large sheet pan with aluminum foil (if you are preparing a batch of quantity, line two baking sheets; using one for peppers and one for tomatoes). Place peppers, tomatoes and garlic on sheet pan.
  3. Baste vegetables with olive oil, then add your salt and pepper. Place in oven and set your timer for 20 minutes. Rotate trays from top to bottom and roast an additional 20 minutes. Remove the tomatoes and roast the peppers for approximately 20 minutes more. You want the peppers charred in various places. If doing a single batch place everything on one sheet pan and roast for 35 minutes.
  4. Let cool slightly, then with a paring knife, carefully pull off the skins of tomatoes, then repeat with the peppers. Discard skins. Squeeze the garlic out of its papery skins.
  5. In a blender or food processor, place your tomatoes, peppers, garlic, red wine vinegar, maple syrup and some additional salt and pepper. Blend or pulse for about 1 minute. Add an additional 3 tablespoons of olive oil and process again until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning adding more vinegar, salt and pepper if needed.
  6. Pour into half pint jars and can or freeze.

Yield: 1 half pint

Roasted red pepper and tomato sauce just blended.

“An ounce of sauce covers a multitude of sins.” —Anthony Bourdain

Hunkering Down

Most of the leaves are off the trees, and the view from my window is brown and gray. We are preparing to self-quarantine for the winter. Our larder and freezers are full of food prepared during our growing season. For all practical purposes we are ready to be home. The wood is stacked and the farm put away for the season.

Winter is actually a much needed quiet time on the farm, regardless of the pandemic. Val and I have stacks of books at the ready. The days are centered around food, discussion, reading, writing and cribbage. It is a simple life that suits us. There are times when the only sounds are the ticking of clocks, the wind across the lake and the crackling of the wood stove. This quiet is the counterbalance to the pandemic and the political tension all around us. With open hands, rather than fists, we will heal our tattered hearts and listen.

The following recipe makes more Indian butter sauce than you will need for one head of cauliflower, but it freezes beautifully and can be at the ready the next time you want to make it. If you want a little more bulk, steam some jasmine rice and serve it along side. It soaks up that wonderful sauce; and you might not have leftovers. You also will want all your spices measured out before you make the sauce, so you can sprinkle them in all at once. Don’t be intimidated by the list of ingredients, it comes together rather quickly; and you will find it on your regular rotation.

Steamed cauliflower sections with Indian butter sauce ready for roasting.

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH INDIAN BUTTER SAUCE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut in quarters leaving as much of the green leaves as possible
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 large or 3 small shallots, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 2 large garlic cloves, grated on Microplane or minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 28 ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes and their juices
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
  • Cooked jasmine rice (if using)
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, for serving
Roasted cauliflower with Indian butter sauce

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large pot over high heat, place a steamer basket, 2 cups water, and your quartered cauliflower. Cover, bring to a boil and steam for 10 minutes. Remove the cauliflower with tongs and gently let it drain on a clean kitchen towel. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Next, make you butter sauce. In a medium heavy sauce pan over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter, add the shallots and a pinch of salt; cook until golden brown, about 5-8 minutes.
  3. Stir in the garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, cumin, paprika, garam masala, and lime juice. Sauté for another 2 minutes.
  4. Add the heavy cream, and tomatoes with their juices. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take off heat and using a stick blender, blend until smooth. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, and lime zest.
  5. On a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, place your drained cauliflower quarters evenly on it. Baste each quarter generously with sauce and roast for about 25 minutes.
  6. Place cauliflower on attractive platter and sprinkle with chopped fresh cilantro.

Serves 4

Beautiful roasted cauliflower, with Indian Butter Sauce
Enjoy!!

“Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self” —May Sarton

Deep Roots

As we prepare to self-quarantine for the winter, I am wondering how many people really enjoy being home? What is the meaning of home for each of us? Is it easier to be home as we age? By the time I turned 30, I had already moved 36 times in my life. I remember never really feeling at ease or content when I was at home. The following 36 years I have moved 3 times. I have lived in a rural climate now for 14 years and I find that my sense of place has changed dramatically since I lived in the urban world.

My writing desk overlooks both marsh and lake. I face a large window that beckons I not only write, but rest in this environment. I stare at our bird feeders and the weather for long periods of time. I learn subtleties, and patterns of nature and the seasons. I find this calming; and who wouldn’t want to feel calmer during these days of upheaval?

It seems to me, when I lived in the city I was much more interested and connected to both entertainment and personal possessions. Being pleasing and accepted by people was of prime importance. It wasn’t until I began searching out periods of solitude and quiet that I began requiring those things to stay balanced. As I stay in one place, my roots grow deeper in the soil, providing a vessel for my own thoughts and perspectives. I feel held. My relationship with my wife is nurtured by this sense of place. We have our rhythms and interests that continue the story of this land. We both love the quiet, growing and cooking food along with sharing that food with others. For some, the meaning of roots is about tradition, for us the meaning of roots is about the land, food and relationships. Our relationships are based on mutual respect and love. They are reciprocal in the most fundamental of ways. We have each others backs. We can ask for help, and often it is given without request. There is laughter, discussion and heart. As Joni Mitchell once said, “All we ever wanted was to come in from the cold.”

The following recipe has some flexibility to it. I love purchasing (or growing) beets with greens. The greens are beautiful, healthy and add color and interest to this meal salad. If beet greens are not available, arugula or spinach are a good option, but use them raw rather than sautéed. I also enjoy alternative dressing ideas. The basic dressing uses extra-virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar and garlic. Try using extra-virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar and peach or apricot jam. Beets love being pared with stone fruits; or you can use orange juice. Free you imagination to add interest and surprise. If you find yourself out of capers, chop up some olives; and chevre or goat cheese can easily substitute for feta. No pistachios? Try toasted walnuts.

Savory, hearty and delicious

ROASTED BEET SALAD WITH FETA & PISTASCHIOS

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 7 medium-large beets with greens
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons chopped drained capers
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 3 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped roasted pistachios
Beets ready to go into oven
Vibrant beet greens

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Whisk oil, vinegar and garlic in small bowl to blend. Season dressing generously with salt and fresh ground black pepper.
  2. Cut tops off beets; reserve greens. Arrange beets in single layer in a baking dish; add 1 cup water. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until beets are tender when pierced with a knife; about 1 hour 15 minutes. Let cool until you can handle them and peel off the skins. I pick them up with paper towels and slip them off.
  3. Cut beets in half and slice thinly. Transfer to large bowl and mix with capers and 1/4 cup dressing. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Cut stems off beet greens and discard. Wash greens, then with some water still clinging to the leaves, transfer to large pot or skillet. Stir over high heat until just wilted but still bright green, about 4 minutes. Drain greens; squeeze out excess moisture. Cool; chop coarsely. Transfer to medium bowl and toss with enough dressing to coat. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Arrange beets in center of platter. Surround with greens; sprinkle with feta and pistachios. Drizzle with any remaining dressing.

Serves 4-6

Yum.

“A tree with strong roots laughs at storms. –Malay proverb

Sounds Of Silence

As we move closer to the presidential election, I find myself feeling overwhelmed by both the pandemic and our turbulent political discourse. I traverse between a feeling of calm to a nameless agitation that grabs me the moment I leave the safety of our home. It seems that the world is becoming more and more dangerous. My heart grieves for the victims of Covid, the poisoning of our planet for profit, the inequality and injustice displayed by people in power. Our problems seem overwhelming. I often wonder what impact one person could possibly have to change the tone of the conversation, much less the world? As an individual how do I live a life that nurture others, the planet and myself? How do I stay authentic to my beliefs in a world that wants to label me?

In the small microcosm of my life, I look for signs of hope. How have I made a difference? Since I moved to the country, my greatest teachers have been nature, the seasons, and the land. If we care for the land, the land offers up the food that both feeds us and provides our livelihood. That clean, wholesome food is taken to the farmers market and sold to people that care about what they feed themselves and their families. It’s a life that is simple, focused and real. We place a seed in the ground and have faith that it will grow. I believe that we often receive what we put into the world; a sort of what goes around, comes around. When I am kind to people, it follows that people are generally kind to me. But what happens when people are unkind, disrespectful, and angry? What happens when there is drought or deluge or crop failure? When a pandemic strikes or unemployment, or changes we didn’t expect or ask for? I believe this is when our faith is really tested, when our priorities and attitudes matter.

It seems to me that faith, the belief in things unseen, is about the things in life that cause us to question, to change, to grow. I don’t believe that the challenges in life are judgements, but opportunities to understand the world and ourselves more fully. How do we cultivate our better selves when we are up against our fears and the rapid pace of change? We are all flawed human beings; there are no saints among us. How do we nurture our inter-connectedness? How do we come to realize what happens to one of us, happens to us all? My greatest challenge is to keep my heart open, to feel pain when someone is hurting, to look at the glass as half full.

As the fall prepares us for winter, may we take the time to reflect and adopt a slower pace. The land rests, and in the same sense so do I. Dormancy is a gift. I can’t assimilate life without periods of quiet. There is time for long morning coffee and deep listening. Clocks tick, fires burn and hearts beat. It is a season where less is more. This resting period is a time to replenish both our physical and emotional beings. In this quiet stillness I hear a small voice say, “Your faith is measured by the wideness of your heart.” One of my favorite poets, Stanley Kunitz said it in a different way: “Live in the layers, not on the litter.” In these layers of life, the peace I sought is found.

Although food is my passion, there are days when I’m involved in other interests or projects. This is when the simplicity of a sheet pan dinner is exactly what I turn to for a meal that is virtually hands off, yet delicious. They are basically designed around a protein and a vegetable. This one uses everything that I have either in freezer or pantry. Although I have used pumpkin as the vegetable, you could just as easily use sweet potatoes or butternut squash. Don’t forget to save your pumpkin seeds to roast, for an added treat.

A delicious sugar pumpkin, loaded with seeds.
Pumpkin wedges, ready to be tossed with olive oil and maple syrup.

DIJON-ROSEMARY CHICKEN THIGHS WITH MAPLE GLAZED PUMPKIN

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 5 large garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • 6 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
  • 5 shallots, halved lengthwise
  • 1 small sugar pie pumpkin (about 2 lbs.)
  • 2 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Ready for the oven
Seasoned perfectly

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large sheet pan with aluminum foil.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, 3 tablespoons of the oil, the vinegar, garlic, and rosemary. Add the chicken, garlic and shallots and toss to coat. Let stand at room temperature while you prepare the pumpkin.
  3. Cut off the top and bottom of the pumpkin, then cut it in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Cut each half into 1-inch wedges. In another large bowl, stir together the maple syrup and the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the pumpkin and toss to combine. Place the pumpkin wedges in a single layer on one end of the prepared pan. Remove the chicken, garlic and shallots from the marinade and place on the other side of the pan. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  4. Roast until the chicken is opaque (160 degrees F) throughout and the pumpkin is golden brown and soft, about 45-50 minutes. Serve right away. Sprinkle fresh rosemary leaves as a garnish.

Serves 4-6

Beautifully golden and aromatic
ENJOY!!

“Silence isn’t empty, it’s full of answers.”

Saving the Warmth

Cooler temperatures are upon us and autumn is in full swing. Boats are coming in off the lake, jeans are replacing shorts, and the farmers market is full of winter squash, peppers and mums. My seven week canning mission is officially done, yet there are still some last minute preparations to do for the cold months ahead.

One of the vendors at market last Wednesday had a section of their stall devoted to peppers, with a large display of poblanos. Their beautiful dark green color and aromatic scent invited me to stock up on them while the getting was good. I quickly bought a dozen. I enjoy roasting them on the grill, then freezing them for future use. I love putting them in stews, enchiladas, chili and my favorite: Poblano Cream Sauce. It’s wonderful over grilled chicken or flank steak, as a topping for eggs or pulled pork, even as a dip. Earlier in the summer I had made garlic scape and cilantro pesto, so I used this in replacement of the garlic and cilantro and it worked great. This sauce has a flavorful heat that tastes rich and warm. I vacuum freeze 4 peppers per bag and they are ready anytime I need a bit of warmth.

POBLANO CREAM SAUCE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 poblano peppers for each batch of sauce (I grill several at a time so I can freeze them for later use)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces sour cream (you could also use Greek yogurt)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Kosher salt to taste
Blistering poblano peppers on the grill
Steamed poblanos ready to peel

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat your gas on high for 10 minutes, until good and hot. Turn down burners to medium and place the peppers across the grill, close but not touching. I can usually get 15-20 on depending on size. Close grill and turn them ever 4 minutes, until they are wrinkled and charred on all sides.
  2. Place grilled peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 10-15 minutes to sweat. Remove the plastic wrap and peel away the skin of the peppers. Remove stem, open pepper and scrape the seeds. If you are using immediately, roughly chop 4 peppers. Leave the remaining peppers whole and place 4 peppers per bag for freezing.
  3. While the peppers are sweating, heat a small non-stick skillet over medium heat, then add olive oil, onions and garlic. Sauté for about 6-8 minutes, or until the onions are soft and translucent.
  4. Transfer the onions, garlic and chopped peppers to a blender. Add the sour cream, cilantro and salt. Blend until sauce is smooth, 1-2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. This sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Yield: 1 pint

Poblano Sauce
Poblano Sauce over grilled chicken with sautéed cabbage

“Canning is not a hobby, it’s an obsession, an addiction, self expression and a way of life.”

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