Tag Archives: garlic

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.”

Jamming…

During this time of the year, preserving food is my passion. Personally, I am obsessed with tomatoes. When I find myself up to my armpits in these delightful orbs, I consider it my mission to put up the bounty in many variations. Soup, roasted sauce, whole pastes, confi, juice, Bloody Mary mix, chutney and jam line our pantry shelves. Tomatoes are so versatile. It’s a great way to experience summer in a jar all winter long.

In the past we have grown as many as 3,200 tomato plants. Val has always found it challenging to scale back the farm, but aging and this year’s Covid pandemic has forced us to cut back out of necessity. So we settled on 850 plants, hoping it was enough for our personal needs and sharing with friends who also preserve food during high season. Why I worried that it might not be enough was beyond me! We had enough and then some.

If you haven’t tried a savory jam before, this is the recipe for you. No far out ingredients, easy to make and delicious on roasted chicken or beef. You can also spread it on a wheel of Brie or Camembert cheese, pop it in the oven at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes and you have a tasty and beautiful appetizer to spread on cracker or crusty bread. Or if you really want to push the envelope a little, my dear friend Dana suggests you slice sweet potatoes into disks, brush with olive oil and roast at 400 degrees F for 25 minutes; allow to cool. Place a small slice of Brie on each disk and top with tomato jam. One big mouthful of yum!!

TOMATO JAM

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 pounds paste tomatoes, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (you can also try white wine or tarragon vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Toss tomatoes, sugar and salt together in a large, heavy bottomed pot. Let sit at least 30 minutes or up to overnight, tossing to coat periodically to dissolve sugar. (I let it macerate overnight, to release as much juice as possible.)
  2. Add the vinegar to the tomatoes, and bring to a boil over medium heat, and cook for 10 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and thyme leaves.
  3. Increase the heat to medium-high, and cook the jam. Using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, stir the jam occasionally, then more frequently as the jam starts to thicken. Do this until most of the liquid has evaporated and the tomatoes have begun to break down, and the mixture resembles a very thick, shiny tomato sauce, 45-60 minutes. It’s important at this stage to keep stirring constantly along the bottom of the pot to prevent scorching and sticking.
  4. To test for thickness, spoon a bit of jam onto a chilled plate, return it to the refrigerator and chill for 2 minutes. Drag your finger through it. It should hold its shape on either side without appearing watery or runny. If not continue cooking jam and check every 10 minutes.
  5. It this point you can water bath can in 1/2 pint or 1/4 pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space for 15 minutes or refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

Yield: 4 half pints

“Autumn….make a double demand. It asks that we prepare for the future–that we be wise in the ways of garnering and keeping. But it also asks that we learn to let go–to acknowledge the beauty of sparseness.”

—Jean Abernethy

Roasted Sweetness

It’s been quite a week. I’ve roasted and canned 15 pints of cherry tomato soup, along with roasted sauce and whole paste tomatoes. I absolutely love putting up food and canning. It is peaceful and steady work. As I fill up our larder we consider ourselves fortunate to grow the food we will enjoy this winter. Every time I can or freeze something I reduce the times I need to leave the farm. As we all know Covid-19 is alive and well. We really don’t know what the future holds. Staying fluid and flexible is the order of the day. So putting up food seems like a practical way to prepare for the very real possibility of staying home for much of the winter months.

The idea of being home this winter is actually something that feels welcoming. After we put the farm to bed for the season, winter is the time that our home truly becomes of haven. We read, we dream, play board games, cook, bake and of course talk. Enjoying each other never gets old, even though we are together pretty much 24/7. It used to surprise me, but now I’m just plain grateful. If there’s an upside to Covid, it’s slowing down and taking the time to decide what is important to us. I have begun to realize that those of us who feel satisfied with the simple joys of life do a little better with isolation. After several years of health trauma and loss, simple feels good.

This week I’m offering up Tomato Conserva and a wonderful recipe Spaghetti with Tomato Conserva, Pancetta and Pecorino, from my cookbook Twisted Basics: Laugh, Cook, Eat. The Italians look upon conserva in several ways. To ‘store’ to ‘save’ to ‘keep’; preserving the harvest in some way, be it sweet or savory. Sweet conserva’s might look like jam, marmalade or preserves; savory might look like roasting, dehydrating, freezing or canning. When paste tomatoes are in abundance, my favorite conserva is roasting slices of these meaty vegetables low and slow. Thick slices of plum tomatoes tossed with olive oil, garlic and flake salt (I use Maldon), result in something altogether different; rich, meaty and marvelous. Think pasta, sandwiches, salad or pizza.

Thick slices of paste tomatoes ready for roasting.
Six hours later.

TOMATO CONSERVA

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 pounds of plum/paste tomatoes (I found that for 2 large rimmed baking sheets you need 24 tomatoes).
  • 4 cloves of garlic for each sheet, peeled and smashed
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher or Maldon salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Slice each paste tomato into 1/2 inch slices (you will get 3 slices per tomato and 35 slices per sheet). Place slices next to each other on baking sheets. Drizzle olive oil over slices, then sprinkle with flaked salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Place the baking sheets into the oven and lower the temperature to 225 degrees F. Slowly roast, switching the trays from upper to lower each hour, until the tomatoes look like juicy sun-dried tomatoes; wrinkly and slightly browned in spots, 5-6 hours.
  4. Let the tomatoes cool for at least 10 minutes before using or serving. I use one whole sheet for the following recipe. The additional sheet will fill 3 half pint mason jars. Drizzle some additional olive oil over them for freezing, about 3 tablespoons. They will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week and in the freezer for 2-4 months.
2 cups (one sheet) of slow roasted paste tomatoes

SPAGHETTI WITH TOMATO CONSERVA, PANCETTA AND PECORINO

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound spaghetti or linguine
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta, pre-chopped
  • 2 cups tomato conserva, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 ounces finely grated pecorino cheese (approximately 2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup dry toasted fresh breadcrumbs (optional)
The conserva sauce coming together.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve about 1 cup of hot pasta water and drain the pasta.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add the tomato conserva, red pepper flakes, and 1/2 cup of the pasta water, and toss to combine. Add the drained pasta and cook, tossing until heated through about 3 minutes.
  4. Turn the heat to medium-low and add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oik, and 1/2 the pecorino and parsley. Toss, adding more pasta water, if needed, to loosen the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 of reserved pecorino. Serve in shallow bowls topping with toasted breadcrumbs if using.

Serves 4-6

“Food is the most primitive form of comfort.” —Sheila Grahm

Never Enough

The memories that mark time seem to speed up as we age. Nine years ago in 2011, when our tomato production for market was at its height, we were faced with a dilemma; what do we do with all the imperfect tomatoes we could not sell at market? Val was sick of dividing them between our chickens and our compost pile. I remember her telling me, “Figure it out!” So figure it out I did and created our delicious roasted tomato sauce. This is one recipe that went into both of my cookbooks. I give it out dozens of times at market each season. In the winter, when you go into your pantry and open a quart of this luscious stuff, you smell the sun. I put up about 28 quarts of this per year, as there are uses galore.

Why do we literally swoon over this stuff? I have never tasted a commercial product that compares to it. I use six different heirloom varieties that have different colors and flavor profiles, lots of fresh garlic, olive oil and Maldon salt. The result is something not only delicious, but a sauce you will feel proud to serve your family and company. Every two hours I ladle out the liquid that is released from the tomatoes and can this as well; adding it to risottos and soups making it a win, win! You can either water bath can it for 15 minutes or freeze it for later use. Depending on the volume of tomatoes you roast will determine the length of you roasting time. You want a thick concentrated sauce as your end result.

There are things I have learned along the way about this sauce. When removing the liquid for later use, be sure you strain it through a small mesh colander to remove unwanted seeds. Also, many people don’t mind the rustic quality of the finished sauce. However, I choose to put it in my Vita-mix blender for a few minutes before heating or adding to your recipes. You will end up with a velvety sauce that has a stunning orange-red color which I find much more pleasing to the eye and the palate. You’re welcome!

BRICKYARD FARMS ROASTED TOMATO SAUCE:

INGREDIENTS:

  • A minimum of 20-30 pounds of tomatoes (I recommend a half bushel), consider a mix of many different varieties. This will add depth to your sauce.
  • 1-2 heads Brickyard Farms garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt (although I highly recommend Maldon)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

img_6842

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. You will want to set up a “station” of sorts: sharp knife, cutting board, large stainless steel bowl, and your roasting pan.  This is when I say many hands make light work. Val and I can prep one 1/2 bushel in about 40 minutes.
  2. Next slice your tomato crosswise deep enough to eliminate the core in one step. Next hold trimmed tomato in your hand over the bowl and twist gently to remove some of the seeds.  No need to be perfect; the idea is to reduce some of the liquid. Next cut the tomato in half from top to bottom, then each half in quarters or sixths, depending on the size of your tomato.  Repeat this process until your roasting pan is heaping with tomatoes (don’t worry they will cook down considerably).
  3. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F. Sprinkle your garlic slices and salt over the tomatoes; pour olive oil over tomatoes. Stir gently to combine.
  4. Set your timer for one hour.  Remove roasting pan from oven and with a soup ladle, press down gently so that the juices fill you ladle.  Each time you have 4 cups, strain and fill a quart canning jar until full, leaving 1 inch head space. This juice is gold. I use it for risottos, soups, chili and stews; it’s filled with tomato and garlic flavors.  Return your roasting pan to the oven and set timer for another hour. Repeat. You will do this until the tomatoes have reduced and there is about a quart of juice left in the pan.  At this point it should be pretty thick. This should take roughly 3-4 hours (don’t be concerned if it takes a little longer).
  5. When your sauce in finished, fill quart canning jars leaving 1 inch head space. You now can choose to freeze the jars or water bath can them for 15 minutes.  When ready to use, either thaw frozen jars or open canned jars and place in a blender. Blend for about 2 minutes, or until all the skins and seeds are incorporated into the sauce.  Use in your favorite recipe.

Yields: 4-6 quarts sauce, 2-3 quarts stock

ROASTED TOMATO VODKA SAUCE:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 quart roasted tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thin vertically
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup vodka, (additional for sous chef)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces dried pasta of your choice

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Place your quart of sauce in a blender and puree for about 2 minutes or until smooth.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain.
  3. Place olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add onions and saute until soft and translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add garlic, basil and red pepper flakes, stir to combine and cook for additional 3 minutes.
  5. Add vodka and reduce by half.
  6. Add blended roasted tomato sauce and simmer until hot, about 4-5 minutes.
  7. Stir in heavy cream. Place drained pasta in decorative bowl. Top with sauce and toss gently to combine.

Serves 4

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“There ain’t nothing better in life than true love and a homegrown tomato!”

Think Green, Think Fresh

Summer is officially here, and it’s hotter than the hubs of hell. Although I’m still obsessed with turnips, it’s time to move on to other vegetables. Typically when it is this hot I turn to lighter fare. The heat saps me so I want something that is quick and easy to make, and uses seasonal produce. I also like options that allow you to use what might be on hand. This pasta dish comes together quickly (than 20 minutes). Although I have used fresh spinach and sugar snap peas, you could just as easily use shelling peas, asparagus or cherry tomatoes. I’m finding a lot of uses for ricotta these days. I find it refreshing and lighter than a sauce using heavy cream. Spaghetti or linguine are you best pasta choices, but feel free to use what you have on hand. Remember when you add your vegetable to the pasta water, that you want to barely blanch them. I suggest 1 minute so the freshness of the vegetable comes through. The tartness of the lemon is the perfect contrast to the ricotta and vegetables. This recipe can be doubled if serving 4 or more people.

PASTA WITH SPRING VEGETABLES AND LEMON RICOTTA

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 ounces pasta, such as linguine or spaghetti
  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chives, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 8 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • 8 ounces sugar snap peas, sliced vertically in 3 pieces (it’s a nice way to expose the interior of the peas)
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan or pecorino cheese, grated
  • 1 unwaxed lemon, zest and juice, plus a few extra wedges to serve
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile make the ricotta sauce.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, olive oil, cheese, garlic, lemon zest and juice, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine, taste and adjust seasoning to you preference.
  3. In the last minute of the pasta’s cooking time, add spinach and snap peas to the pot. Stir and push the vegetables into the boiling water.
  4. Drain after 1 minute, making sure to reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water (you will use this to thin you sauce if needed.)
  5. Return pasta and vegetables to the same pot, add the ricotta sauce and a few tablespoons of hot pasta water (you will not use all of it!). Stir well to evenly coat the pasta in sauce, you want a smooth and creamy texture.
  6. Serve immediately, drizzling extra-virgin olive oil over each bowl; add a sprinkle of extra cheese.

Serves 3

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“There is nothing that is comparable to it, or as satisfactory or as thrilling as gathering vegetables one has grown.” —Alice Toklas

Your My Thrill

You do something to me! It was so unexpected when it happened. Caught totally off guard, I find I just can’t get enough of my new love! There are so many ways to use these little gems, and this recipe is perfect for a breakfast or brunch. Full of cheese, eggs, kale, cream and bread cubes it is a meal by itself, or if you prefer, with something simple from the grill. Turnips have the added benefit of not being a carbohydrate. They have less than half the calories of potatoes or sweet potatoes; and can easily be swapped out in recipes. So you can literally eat them with abandon!

TURNIP AND KALE GRATIN

INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (lemon thyme is wonderful)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 3 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 bunches kale, ribs and stems removed, leaves torn (you can use any type of kale, I find Tuscan and Red Russian particularly good)
  • 6-8 medium turnips, trimmed, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (I don’t peel mine, however if you do feel free)
  • 3 large farm-raised eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup Fontina cheese, grated (about 4 ounces)
  • 1 cup pecorino cheese, grated (about 1 ounce)
  • 2 cups day-old bread such as ciabatta, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

img_6645

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a medium pan, bring garlic, cream and thyme to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer for 30 minutes. Let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-low. Add onions, season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally until they turn a nice light amber color, about 20-30 minutes. Add a splash or two of water if they start to stick to the bottom of your pan. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool. Wipe out skillet.
  3. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in same skillet. Working in batches, add your kale, tossing and letting it wilt slightly before adding more; season with salt. Cook until kale is wilted and tender, about 5 minutes. Add to bowl with onions.
  4. While kale is cooking, cook turnips in a large pot on well-salted water until crisp tender, about 2 minutes; drain. Transfer to a bowl of ice water and let cool. Drain and pat dry. Transfer to the bowl with onions and kale.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Whisk eggs, Fontina cheese, pecorino cheese, and cooled cream mixture in a large bowl to combine. Add onion and kale mixture, along with bread; season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a 8 x 8 casserole dish and bake uncovered until well browned, 40-50 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving. Gratin can be assembled 12 hours ahead. Cover and chill.

Serves 6

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“The best things happen unexpectedly.”

Not On My Radar

Today I am grateful. Grateful for living in the country on our vegetable farm. It provides a much needed counterbalance to the daily stress and anxiety of watching our world unravel by the seams. So many things are out of our control; so I focus on the things I can do to live a meaningful life. These include keeping in touch with those I love, planning for an uncertain future, reading, playing games with Val, and above all cooking with as much creativity that I can muster.

If I am an obsessive cook, Val is an obsessive farmer. She loves growing vegetables that are unfamiliar to us. These include some vegetables that don’t necessarily excite me, like turnips. Turnips have never been on my radar. When there are so many vegetables that I love, why grow turnips? When I expressed this to Val she simply said, “Then learn to like them.” She was obviously not detoured. So grow them she did, while I did my part and explored recipes for ideas on how to use them.

I found myself gravitating to recipes that featured them roasted. I figured most vegetables that are roasted are usually sweeter. Really, I didn’t know what to expect, so I tried a simple side dish that roasted them, then tossed them with a vinaigrette while warm; I imagined similar to a French potato salad. It was certainly worth a try. I made a vinaigrette using scallions, tarragon vinegar, whole-grain mustard, extra-virgin olive oil and fresh parsley. I reasoned if I liked everything else in the recipe, I would have a good chance of enjoying them. I butterflied a whole chicken for the grill and we were in business.

I roasted and tossed the turnips with the vinaigrette and the sharpness of the mustard with the vinegar and olive oil smelled wonderful. I went out to finish up the chicken, when Val appeared shortly after with a piece of turnip between her fingers. “It’s time.” she said and popped it in my mouth. Frankly, I was stunned! This was a turnip? This was what I had been avoiding? It was absolutely delicious! Wow. Val stood there with a smirk on her face. “I assume we should grow these again?”

It’s safe to say, I am now a convert. I was so impressed with them I decided that I could use a similar strategy to roast them with chicken. This time I pan-seared chicken thighs, then pan-roasted turnips with fresh tarragon, course mustard, garlic, lemon zest, white wine and chicken stock. I then finished the whole thing covered in the oven for 25 minutes. I have found that turnips love roasting, tarragon and mustard for sure.

ROASTED TURNIPS IN MUSTARD-VINAIGRETTE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoon tarragon or white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
  • 1 scallions, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 24 small or 10 larger turnips, cut in half or wedges depending on size

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a bowl, whisk the vinegar with the mustard, scallion, parsley and 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Cut the turnips in half through the stems if small, quarter or cut in sixths if larger. In a large bowl toss the turnips with the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread the turnips on the baking sheet and roast for about 18 minutes.
  3. After 5 minutes or so, transfer to a decorative bowl and toss with vinaigrette. Serve.

Serves 4-6

ROASTED CHICKEN WITH TURNIPS, TARRAGON AND LEMON

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3-4 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 6 medium to large turnips
  • 6-8 sprigs of fresh tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon tarragon or white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heat a heavy oven-proof Dutch oven on a stove top over high heat. Pat the chicken thighs with paper towels, then rub with the olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Add to pot and sear 6-8 minutes per side, or until well browned. Remove from pot and set aside.
  2. Turn heat down to medium. Pan roast the turnips, adding a bit more olive oil if needed, until lightly golden. Add the tarragon, mustard, garlic, vinegar, wine and stock. Bring to a simmer. Return chicken thighs to pot.
  3. Transfer to oven and roast for 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is just cooked through. Remove from oven and take out chicken thighs; cover them with tented foil.
  4. Place pot back on stove over medium-high heat. Reduce liquid by a little less than half. Stir in heavy cream. Cook an additional 5 minutes or until sauce starts to thicken.
  5. With a slotted spoon, remove turnips and place on each plate. Top with a chicken thigh; then spoon sauce over both. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Serves 4

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“This is about trying new things, and getting out of your rut.” — Teri Gault

Packing A Punch

There are days that start out well, then take an unexpected turn; like yesterday for example. I went to bed a little early and woke up abruptly when I heard a crash. I ran into the bathroom to find Val laying unconscious in a large pool of blood. I’m normally a steady Eddie in a crisis, but ever since Val’s brain surgery two years ago, our mantra has been don’t hit your head! I immediately called 911 to call an ambulance. As I followed the ambulance in my car I thought “Jeez she hasn’t been off our farm since March 9th because of Covid-19, and now we’re off to the emergency room!” After having a cat-scan it was determined that Val broke her nose and suffered a concussion. The good news was I brought her back home at 4:00 a.m. this morning. The lesson learned was don’t take a power slide on a tile floor. Floor 1, Val 0.

There are some punches that I can appreciate; like the first fresh garlic of the season. My go to recipe is Iberian Garlic Shrimp and boy does it pack a punch! Combine 2 heads of fresh garlic with roasted cherry tomatoes and sauteed shrimp and you have yourself a bowl full of yummy! Make sure you have a baguette to sop up all that goodness.

IBERIAN GARLIC SHRIMP

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 2 heads fresh garlic, cloves peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds large raw shrimp (13-15 count) shelled and de-veined
  • Juice and zest from one lemon
  • 16 ounces linguine, cooked in salt water according to package directions
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded pecorino

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Place cherry tomatoes on baking sheet lined with foil. Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil over them and roll them around with your hands. Sprinkle with flake, or sea salt. Roast in upper 1/3 of oven for 25-30 minutes.
  2. Place a large pot of salt water to boil. Cook linguine according to package directions. Drain.
  3. In a large pan over medium-high heat, combine olive oil, red pepper flakes and garlic. Saute garlic until softened, but not brown, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add shrimp and saute, tossing frequently until just done, about 2-3 minutes. If you think it needs additional time, take it off! It will continue to cook off heat.
  5. Place drained pasta in a large serving bowl. Top with shrimp and oil; then with roasted cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle with lemon juice and zest, then chopped parsley and pecorino cheese.

Serves 4-6

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“Instead of giving up in the face of adversity, you should face it with a positive attitude and a smile.”  —Anurag Prakash Ray

Escape To Your Garden

As we approach the solstice, we enter the time where we start seeing results from our hard work. We don’t have the advantage of greenhouses, so we get excited when the first radishes are pulled and our garlic scapes peek their pointy little heads out of the hard-neck garlic. Garlic scapes are one of those early culinary treasures that let us know we are getting closer to our garlic harvest. Look for them at your local farmers market where you can often buy them in quantity at a decent price. We sell ours in 30 count bundles.

There are so many ways to use these little gems. I chop and freeze several quarts for use throughout the year (you don’t even have to blanch them!) They are excellent in soups, pesto, scrambled eggs and potato salad. This salad in particular is a favorite, as it has no mayonnaise, making it a hit at picnics and potlucks. It’s simple, yet packed with flavor. I find I make it several times each summer. It’s excellent with virtually anything grilled.

BRICKYARD FARMS SCAPE POTATO SALAD

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 pounds new potatoes or Yukon Golds, (skins on if new, peeled if larger)
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup garlic scapes, sliced in 1/4 inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • Flaked salt (I use Maldon) salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup pitted and quartered kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

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INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. If using new potatoes, leave whole, then cut in half after you drain them.  If using larger Yukon Golds, vertically slice in quarters, then slice each quarter into forkful pieces.  Boil potatoes in salted water until just done, about 10 minutes. Drain.
  2. Saute scapes in olive oil on medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Mix the Dijon mustard, sherry vinegar, and salt and pepper with a whisk. Add this to the sauteed garlic scapes.
  3. Pour over warm potatoes and fold in gently. Add kalamata olives, and mix again. Garnish with fresh parsley
  4. Serve warm or at room temperature. This will last in the refrigerator for up to 5 days (if there’s any left!)

Serves: 6-8

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“We might think we are nurturing our garden, but of course it’s really our garden that is nurturing us.”  —Jenny Oglow