Tag Archives: garlic

Shepherding In Comfort Food

When I think of comfort food, it’s usually something warm and savory that I can place in a bowl and eat out of hand in my lazy girl.  Mac and cheese fits into this category as do soups, stews and shepherd’s pies.  Traditionally, a shepherd’s pie consists of ground meat under a layer of mashed potatoes.  Mmmm….sounds a little boring doesn’t it?  In an effort to get out of that box, I was inspired by the elements of piccadio which include ground meat (in this case lamb) tomatoes, olives and spices.  My favorite home-made spice mixture called ras el hanout (inspired by North African cuisine),  along with golden raisins to add a sweet element.  Top with mashed sweet potatoes and you have a meal at once, savory, sweet and satisfying.

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NORTH AFRICAN SHEPHERD’S PIE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1  pound grass-fed ground lamb
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup green olives, pitted and halved (I use Castelvetrano)
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1 tablespoon ras el hanout
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste, plus 1/2 cup water
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • Fresh thyme sprigs for garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat, saute onion and garlic until soft.  Add ground lamb and break up with the back of a spoon.  Add ras el hanout and brown completely about 8-10 minutes.
  2. Add tomato paste and water and combine, cooking until slightly thickened.  Add olives and golden raisins.  Stir to combine.  Take off heat, let cool slightly, then spoon into a gratin dish or 9×9 casserole dish.  Set aside.
  3. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.  Place sweet potatoes in pot with water to cover and salt.  Bring to a boil, and simmer until tender when pierced with a paring knife (about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Drain potatoes and mash with butter and half and half (adding more half and half if needed, but not enough to make it soupy).  Spread sweet potato mixture over lamb mixture for about a one inch depth (you may or may not have left over sweet potatoes).   Bake for 25 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
  5. Let rest for 10 minutes.  Serve.

Serves 4

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“Food is the most primitive form of comfort.”

Anyway You Slice It

I absolutely love Mediterranean food.  No matter if it’s from Italy, Morocco, Turkey, Spain or France, I love it all.  Fresh vegetables, legumes, olives, olive oil, cheese and an array of spices make for endless savory meals.  I find that if something you eat is truly satisfying and delicious, you eat less not more.  This Middle Eastern Tart can be served as an appetizer or entree, depending on whether or not you use both sheets of puff pastry, and how many you are serving.  Served with a salad, it is easily a complete meal.  It comes together pretty quickly and is showy enough for company.  The first time I made it there was left-over filling, which I stuffed into peppers and baked the next day.

MIDDLE EASTERN LAMB TART

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 or 2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, choppped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (15 ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup cooked chick peas (I use canned and drained)
  • 2 teaspoons ras el hanout (page    , or alternatively 1 teaspoon each ground cumin and oregano)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 kalamata olives, pitted
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

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DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a saute pan over medium heat add olive oil, onion and garlic until soft, about 3-4 minutes.  Add ground lamb, breaking up the lamb with a spoon and brown, about 5-6 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, olives and spices.  Simmer for about 5 minutes or until heated through.  Remove from heat and allow to slightly cool.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (two baking sheets if using both puff pastry sheets).  Roll out slightly, then make a one-inch rimmed line on the inside edges with a knife, taking care not to cut all the way through.  Prick the dough with fork all over in center area.  Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven and spoon mixture evenly in the center of each pastry sheet.  Top with feta cheese, brush pastry edges with beaten egg (optional) and bake for another 8-10 minutes or until puffed and edges are golden brown.
  4. Top with chopped parsley and cut into desired portions; 4, 6 or multiple if serving as appetizer.  Serve.

Serves 2-4 as entree

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“Cooking is like love.  It should be entered into with abandon, or not at all.” –Harriet von Horne.

 

Big Bowl of Luscious

We’re expecting 2-5 inches of snow this evening.  What better than to make something warm, comforting and downright luscious; homemade Black Bean Soup.  Typically, the approach is to add savory ingredients, and a little heat.  The solution to this is garlic, wine, spices and peppers in varying amounts.  I seriously recommend using dried beans, rather than canned for two reasons:  1) Canned beans can’t absorb the subtlety of spices and peppers like dried beans over low heat and time and 2) It’s all about texture.  You want a combination of cooked savory beans and bean puree that creates a mouthful of yum.

The heat in this soup is accomplished two ways; canned and pureed chipotles and fresh jalapenos.  Chipotles are intense, so a little goes a long way.  I use a moderate amount with the option for guests to add additional puree if they are so inclined. Every time you consider ingredients, you increase the yum factor.  So for example, homemade chicken stock to canned, Mexican oregano to Italian or Greek.  You might not think it makes a difference, but it does.  Also your garnishes add flavor in an astonishing way.  Quick pickled red onions, avocado, sour cream or Mexican crema and of course fresh cilantro.  This combination of flavors and textures are sure to create a soup of extraordinary depth and flavor.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 small (7-ounce) can of chipotle chilies in adobo
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup red wine (I use Shiraz or Cabernet)
  • 1 pound of dry black beans, soaked overnight (I like Valentine or Black Turtle)*
  • 2 quarts chicken stock, homemade if possible
  • 2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
  • 2 teaspoons Epazote (I find mine at Penzey’s)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Red wine vinegar, to taste

FOR THE PICKLED ONIONS AND GARNISHES:

  • 1 small red onion, peeled and sliced vertically
  • Kosher salt
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Sour cream or Mexican crema
  • Whole fresh cilantro leaves
  • Sliced avocado

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DIRECTIONS:

  1.  In a small food processor, puree your can of chipotles until smooth, scape into a container, and set aside.
  2. In a large heavy pot, heat olive oil over medium heat until shimmering.  Add carrots, onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened but not browned, 5-8 minutes.
  3. Pour in wine and let simmer until pan is almost dry and vegetables are coated; about 8-10 minutes.  Add jalapenos and cook, stirring, just until softened, about 2 minutes.  Push vegetables out to the edges of the pot and dollop 2 generous teaspoons of chipotle puree in the center.  Let fry for a minute and then stir together with the vegetables.
  4. Add drained beans, stock, oregano and bay leaves.  Stir, bring to a boil, and let boil for 10-15 minutes.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, partly covered, stirring occasionally and adding hot water as needed to keep the soup liquid and runny not sludgy.  Continue cooking until beans are just softened and fragrant, 1-2 hours.  Add salt and pepper and keep cooking until beans are soft.
  5. Meanwhile, make the pickled onions.  In a small bowl, combine sliced onions, lime juice and a generous sprinkling of salt.  Let soften at room temperature until crunchy and tart, about 30 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Squeeze dry in paper towels and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  6. Adjust the texture of the soup.  Remove 2 cups of beans to a quart Mason jar, and with an immersion blender puree until smooth.  Return bean puree to soup pot.
  7. Adjust seasoning by adding 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, and additional salt.
  8. Serve in deep soup bowls, garnishing with sour cream, pickled onions, cilantro leaves and sliced avocado.

Serves 6-8 with leftovers

“To feel safe and warm on a cold wet night, all you really need is soup.” — Laurie Colwin

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Earthly Delights

It feels like fall today.  Our weather and climate is unpredictable.  This has been our most unusual farm year.  Vegetables that normally grow without issue have struggled or been unable to grow at all.  This has not been a singular issue.  Many of our customers that have small gardens are wondering why they can’t grow certain vegetable this year.  Although there is no definite answer, as Dylan said, “The times they are a changing.”

Although change is definite, it instructs us to be fully present each day to the small miracles that surround us.  Comfort comes in many forms and simple pleasures can sometimes bring the most well-being.  Today it came in the form of warmth.   Our Katadin potatoes are the old Irish famine potato; earthy, creamy, with thin skins, they are exceptional in taste and texture.  When I first came to the farm I thought that a potato was a potato; until I tasted these remarkable spuds.  If you don’t have access to this particular variety, you can use russets.  It’s important to use a variety that breaks down slightly when cooked.  The advantage is a creamy soup without the use of heavy cream.  Make sure you use fresh dill.  It elevates this soup to something distinctive. Although the ingredients are simple, the soup is heavenly.

POTATO LEEK SOUP

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 pounds of Katadin (or russet) potatoes, scrubbed and cut into chunks
  • 3 medium leeks, using white and pale green parts, scrubbed and sliced thinly
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (I use Kerrygold)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt, (I use Maldon)
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large pot, over medium-high heat, melt the butter then add the leeks and saute until soft, about 4-6 minutes.  Add the potatoes and salt; then water to cover the potatoes by about an inch.  Bring to a boil, then turn down to medium and cook until the potatoes are soft. (When using fresh potatoes, be aware that these cook much faster than other potatoes that have been cured, or harvested many months earlier).  Taste for salt, add more if needed.
  2. With an immersion blender, blend the soup to thicken, leaving a far amount of chunks.  Add half of the fresh dill.
  3. Ladle into bowls and top with additional dill.

Serves 4-6

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“There is nothing like soup. It is by nature eccentric: no two are ever alike, unless of course you get your soup in a can.” — Laurie Colwin

The Reason For The Season

I know….another tomato post.  I’m slightly obsessed; this is what happens when you pull hundreds of pounds of them from the field several times a week.  In the summer I live for two things: garlic and tomatoes.  Focusing on my two loves helps me to deal with what I don’t love, which is the heat and humidity.  When I’m in my happy place (the kitchen) it makes it all worthwhile.

This particular dish, which ends up being two dishes in one; brings tears to my eyes the first time I make it each year.  I don’t think there is anything that compares to this simple sauce that can only be made when tomatoes are at their peak.  The reason it ends up being two dishes in one is I take a portion of it out and use it for a bruchetta topping.  I know that means tomatoes for the appetizer and tomatoes for dinner, but so far no one has ever complained.  Although it is slightly labor intensive, it is worth every delicious mouthful!

Start with about 30 dead-on ripe paste tomatoes.  This will serve 4 for dinner and enough bruchetta topping for a loaf of French bread.  Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the ingredients.  I literally have friends begging me to make it for them.  After all, it is the reason for the season!

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 30 ripe paste tomatoes
  • 2 heads of garlic, peeled, separated and divided in half, grated on micro plane
  • 1 tablespoon, plus 2 teaspoons sea salt, divided (I use Maldon)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped, divided
  • 16 ounces linguine, cooked to package directions
  • 2 cup grated pecorino cheese (optional)

ADDITIONS FOR BRUCHETTA:

  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup capers, drained
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, sliced
  • 1 loaf fresh French bread (baguette)

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DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place a large pot on high, 3/4 filled with water and bring to a boil.  With a sharp knife, cut an “X” on the top of each tomato, through the core.  Fill your kitchen sink with cold water.  Carefully place groups of 8 in the boiling water.  Set a timer for 3 minutes.  With a large slotted spoon, pull blanched tomatoes from boiling water and place in sink with cold water.  Repeat this process until you have blanched all your tomatoes.
  2. Assemble the following: large cutting board, paring knife, serrated knife, two large bowls.  Cut the top of a tomato about 1/2 inch from top and throw in your bowl of scraps.  Next with your paring knife, peel off the skin (it should come of with ease if your tomatoes were ripe).  With your serrated knife, cut the tomato in half lengthwise; scoop out the seeds with your thumb and place it in the other bowl.  Repeat this process until you have peeled and seeded all your tomatoes over the bowl.  You will strain this later to collect your juice.
  3. Take each tomato half and chop it in small pieces.  Place pieces in large ceramic or pottery bowl.  I generally use 2/3 of tomatoes for sauce and the other 1/3 of the tomatoes for the bruchetta.  In a 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup, strain your tomato scraps through a wire mesh strainer.  This will give you approximately 1 cup of juice.
  4. To the large bowl add the following: 1 head of grated garlic, 1 tablespoon sea salt (do NOT be afraid of the salt), half of the basil, and 2/3 of your reserved juice.  Next start with 1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil in your large bowl.  Stir gently but thoroughly.  You want it to be fairly soupy.  Add up to 1/4 cup more olive oil if needed.  Let macerate on your counter for at least 2 hours, up to 4 hours. DO NOT REFRIGERATE!
  5. Cook your linguine according to package directions and drain.  In a large pasta bowl, place the drained pasta and top it with the sauce.  Pass cheese.

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FOR BRUCHETTA:

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  1.  In your smaller bowl add the garlic, capers, olives, red onion, basil, salt and remaining reserved juice.  Pour approximately 1/4-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil over tomatoes.  Stir gently but thoroughly.  Again you want it somewhat soupy.  The liquid will delightfully soak into your grilled bread slices.  Let this macerate on your counter for the same amount of time.
  2. Slice up your baguette in 1 inch pieces.  Heat a gas grill on high, then turn down to medium.  Place your slices on grill for about 3-5 minutes.  Turn over and grill the other side.  You are simply looking for some nice grill marks.  This can be done ahead of time.
  3. When you are ready to eat your bruchetta, top each piece with relish, making sure your are generous with the liquid.

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Serves 4

“Nothing is work unless you’d rather be doing something else.”  –Peter Pan

Lovin Spoonful

Boy, are we rocking the tomatoes.  We are in tomato nirvana!  BBLT’s, roasted tomato sauce, cherry tomato soup, tomato confit, caprese salad, uncooked tomato sauce, bruchetta and tomato risotto.  I wait for this time of our farm season and will eat, prep and can as many variations as I can imagine.  My time is limited but this is truly a labor of love.

Last Thursday evening was the tomato risotto.  For those of you who have followed this blog, you are aware of my roasted tomato sauce; which is a combination of all our varieties cut up and roughly seeded, mounded in a roasting pan with 2 heads of garlic, olive oil and salt.  This is roasted for 5-6 hours at 300 degrees.  Each hour I remove the macerated tomato stock with a ladle and can it for future use.  I use it in chilies, soups and risottos.  For those who don’t go through this approach, you can use tomato paste to intensify the chicken stock.  Either way, the result is luscious.   Cherry tomatoes add both sweetness and color.  Top with fresh basil and shaved pecorino and you have a show stopper.  There are two recipes each summer at peak tomato season that I am emotionally moved by when I make them; tomato risotto and uncooked tomato sauce.  It’s like eating the sun.

TOMATO RISOTTO

INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade) or 4 cups chicken stock mixed with  1 cup roasted tomato stock
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves thinly sliced
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes (I like Sweet 100’s)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (omit if using the tomato stock)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup arborio or carnaroli rice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (I prefer Kerrygold)
  • 1 cup finely grated pecorino cheese, plus 1/4 cup shaved for serving
  • Fresh basil, chopped, for serving

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DIRECTIONS:

  1. Bring stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan; keep warm over medium-low heat until ready to use.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium.  Add onion and cook, stirring often, until golden and very soft, 8-10 minutes.  Add garlic and cook, stirring until softened, about 1 minute.  Add tomato paste if using, and cook stirring often, until it darkens slightly and begins to stick to pan, about 2 minutes.  Add cherry tomatoes and cinnamon, and cook, stirring often, until some of the tomatoes start to burst, about 2-4 minutes.
  3. Stir in rice, season with salt, and reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook, stirring, until some grains are translucent, about 3 minutes.  Ladle in 2 cups of stock and simmer, stirring frequently, until completely absorbed, 8-10 minutes.  Ladle in another 2 cups of stock and simmer, stirring frequently, until rice is cooked through and most of the stock is absorbed, 12-15 minutes.
  4. Add butter and grated pecorino, and remaining 1 cup of stock, stirring constantly, until risotto is very creamy looking, about 4 minutes.  Taste and season with additional salt if needed.  Add freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  5. Divide risotto among shallow bowls and top with chopped fresh basil leaves, additional olive oil and shavings of pecorino.

Serves 4

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“A world without tomatoes is like a string quartet without violins.”  –Laurie Colwin

Spread The Wealth

One of the outstanding things about summer is the abundance of fresh produce.  When looking for inspiration, I’m frequently inspired by America’s rich immigrant cultures.  I keep returning to the Mediterranean.  Their foods are creative, savory and delicious.

I am crazy about tomatoes, eggplant and garlic.  Alone or in combination they continue to be flavors with endless possibility.  I love a good baba ganoush or baba ghnouj, an eggplant dip typically made with roasted eggplant, tahini, olive oil and lemon juice. When I came across recipes from the Lebanese heritage using slightly different ingredients to make a thicker spread called Borani-E Badenjan I couldn’t wait to try it.  It had all the ingredients I love, including caramelized onion, garlic and yogurt.  I frequently freeze large batches of caramelized onions, since they are one of our main crops.  I have them at the ready to be used in anything from dips, to pizza.  I’ve written the recipe to include cooking the onion specifically as you make the spread.  I like to eat it with pita, cucumbers and/or carrots.

EGGPLANT AND YOGURT SPREAD (BORANI-E BADENJAN)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 large eggplants (a little over a pound)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and cut into thin slices
  • 1 cloves garlic, grated on a microplane
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sumac
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • Fresh pita for serving

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DIRECTIONS:

  1.  Preheat the broiler to high (alternately, you can do this on a gas grill).  Prick the eggplants in several places with the tip of a knife and place under the hot broiler or on a gas grill.  Broil or grill for 30-40 minutes, turning them halfway through, until the skin is charred and the flesh is very soft.  Halve the frilled eggplant lengthwise.  Scoop out the flesh and place in a colander for about 30 minutes to drain off the excess liquid.
  2. Heat the olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and cook until soft and lightly golden, about 5-8 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute for another minute or so.  In a food processor, add the eggplant, onions, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Process until smooth.
  3. Stir the yogurt, and sumac into the cooled mixture.  Transfer to a serving dish.  Drizzle with  olive oil and sprinkle with a few saffron threads or 1/4 teaspoon sumac.  Top with chopped walnuts.  Serve with pita.

Yields: 1-2 cups

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 “The only thing I like better than talking about food is eating” – John Walters