Tag Archives: garlic

The Hummus Among Us

There is family that you are born into, and there is your tribe that you adopt.  Your tribe may be a collection of people that enjoy some of the same things you do, or perhaps are like minded in their approach to living.  Frequently, conversations and laughter take place over food.  There is something special about gathering around a table that can evoke extraordinary sharing.  This is much more than the sum of its parts.  Breaking bread with people you love and respect can teach you unexpected lessons in life; particularly when there are multiple generations present.

Part of our tribe is a mother and daughter that started out as customers at our farmers market where we have a seasonal stall.  Over time, our conversations became lengthier and more personal.  We invited them out to our farm.  We met their spouses, and then their daughters/granddaughters.  Sometimes we would meet at a local restaurant to enjoy each other.  We all loved food and drink.  Our relationship was cemented when my wife Val had her brain surgery last year, and they were here to help in anyway they could.  They planted garlic, tomatoes, weeded and gave emotional support.  With the help from our extended tribe we managed to get through an extremely difficult time.  It was a real honor to be present to openhearted, loving and freethinking people.  Not only were they generous with their time, but with their hearts.  In a world filled with too much animosity, this is a real gift.

One of things that I love to both eat and serve during gatherings is some kind of hummus.  The possibilities are endless for incorporating it into a meal.  Folks it is not just something to scoop up with a pita chip.  Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food is endlessly creative.  You can serve it on a platter with braised meat or like this recipe does with assorted colorful vegetables on top.  It packs in lots of protein and deliciousness, not to mention how it can easily feed a crowd.  If you want a textured hummus, keep out half the chick-peas and mash them in a bowl with a potato masher.  This recipe is a lighter version, using less olive oil and replacing it with yogurt.  The topping of tomato, cucumber, onion and parsley makes use of all things fresh and flavorful during summer.

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LAYERED HUMMUS SALAD

INGREDIENTS

FOR HUMMUS:

  • 2 (15-ounce) can chick-peas, drained, reserving 1 cup of their liquid
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons sesame tahini (well mixed)
  • 1/4 whole fat plain yogurt (or more as needed)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Kosher salt to taste

FOR MIDDLE LAYER:

  • 2 cups whole milk Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons sesame tahini
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (from a 15-ounce can) chick-peas, drained

FOR SALAD:

  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes or 8 Campari salad tomatoes, cut into 6th sixths
  • 3 green onions, or 1/2 red onion, minced
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh curly parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Turn  on a food processor fitted with a steel blade and drop in the garlic.  When the garlic is finely chopped, turn off the machine and add the chick-peas.  Process for about 30 seconds, or until the chick-peas are chopped and mealy; then add the lemon juice, olive oil, tahini, yogurt, cumin, and salt.  Process until the mixture in smooth.  Thin out as desired with additional liquid from chick-peas, adding 2 tablespoons at a time.  The hummus should be smooth but not runny.  From time to time, scrape the sides of the processor bowl.  If the puree seems dry, add a bit more yogurt or olive oil.
  2. Remove the mixture from the food processor and combine with the mashed chick-peas if using.  Taste and adjust salt.
  3. Next prepare you middle layer.  Mix Greek yogurt with tahini and salt.  Set aside.
  4. Lastly, prepare your salad.  Mix parsley, tomatoes, cucumbers and onion; dress with extra-virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar.
  5. To serve spread hummus on platter, top with yogurt leaving 2 inches of hummus exposed.  Sprinkle 1 cup reserved chick-peas around border.  Top with reserved salad.  Use vegetables such as red bell pepper, cucumbers or pita bread to scoop up salad.

Serves 8-10

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What’s for dinner doesn’t matter–it’s the communal environment that you create that makes all the difference.”  –Ronnie Koenig

An Uncommon Flower

Just past the summer solstice, and we have gone from wet and cool to hot and humid.  The vegetables are breathing a sigh of relief as the heat gives us hope of regaining momentum for the farm year.  One of the first signs of optimism is seeing the garlic scapes develop.  Garlic scapes are the flower head or bulbil of the hard-neck garlic bulb.  In early summer each bulb sends up a bright green flower head as one way of reproduction.  If left to grow these bulbils will develop small seeds, after the bloom dies back.  Garlic growers cut off these bulbils or ‘scapes’ for two very good reasons.  One, if left on the plant, the bulb will send all its energy to the bulbil and seed development rather than bulb size; and two, the scapes themselves are a delicious culinary treat.

Scapes are wonderful in stir fries, pasta, potato salad or scrambled eggs.  Anything you can use garlic in, you can use a scape.  In fact I put up several freezer bags full to use  throughout the year.  Simply cut the scape into one inch pieces and fill up your freezer bag or container.  No need to blanch and they don’t stick together when frozen.  This way you can remove whatever quantity needed and seal the bag back up.  Easy peasy.

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One of my favorite ways to preserve their early summer flavor is to make pesto.  The wonderful thing about pesto is you can adjust it to your taste preferences.  Feel free to substitute Italian parsley, cilantro, Swiss chard or spinach for the basil; or pistachios, walnuts and sunflower seeds for the pine nuts.  Pecorino Romano can be substituted for Parmesan.  It also freezes beautifully.  Simply place in 4 ounce canning jars but be sure to drizzle a little extra-virgin olive oil on top of each jar; this prevent discoloration.  If making pesto to freeze multiply the recipe for the quantity needed.  Try it as a substitute for tomato sauce on a pizza, spread it on a sandwich or toss it with pasta.  I like to top grilled chicken breasts, fish or a steak with a dollop of this green magic.

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GARLIC SCAPE PESTO

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup garlic scapes, sliced crosswise (about 10-12 scapes)
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or other nut of your choice
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan or Pecorino
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup packed basil leaves or other green of your choice
  • Juice from one lemon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

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DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place everything except lemon juice and olive oil in bowl of a food processor.  Pulse for 5-6 times or until ingredients turn into a paste.
  2. With motor running, slowly pour olive oil through feed tube.  Stop when necessary  to scrape down sides.
  3. Open lid and add lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Pulse a few times.  Taste and adjust seasoning.
  4. Place in 4 ounce canning jars to freeze and/or use in recipe of your choice.

Yields: 1 cup

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“Too lazy to peel fresh?  You don’t deserve to eat garlic!”  — Anthony Bourdain 

 

Swimming In Heirloom Tomatoes!

Rich, roasted tomato sauce!

Rich, roasted tomato sauce!

This just seems like the right time to re-blog this post, since we are at the height of tomato season!  After making a “double” batch of roasted sauce today, the yield was 4 pints of tomato stock (I use this for soups or risotto) 8 pints and 3 quarts of rich tomato lusciousness!

Basics with a Twist

I know….it’s my third tomato post, but what in the world is August for if not tomatoes?  When I returned home from market on Friday and unloaded the van, I went into the barn to find every available surface covered with tomatoes.  I went about pulling and packing for the following market day.  We have a large garbage can for the fruit that has ‘gone south’ and can’t be used.  This gets divided between our chickens and our compost pile.  The tomatoes that are merely bruised or damaged in some way I put to the side to roast in slices and freeze.  By the time I was finished sorting for Saturday, I had a whole tub of heirlooms.  I realized that these would take way too much time to roast in slices.  I needed to do something different.  I was staring at the vibrant colors of Caspian Pinks, Cherokee Purples…

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Abundance 101

Often times, during the growing season fatigue sets in at the end of the day and preparing a meal takes a back seat.  For the past two farm seasons, I’ve been in the process of healing from a major intestinal bleed-out and have not be able to actively weed or harvest vegetables along side Val and our farm hand Zac.  After two days at market, it literally takes the next four or five to rest and recover.  Val my ever-ready bunny continues to be the mover and shaker at Brickyard Farms.  She deals with the additional workload without complaint, always upbeat and positive.  My “job” is to keep up with the bookkeeping, marketing and prepare a decent meal.

I’m embarrassed to admit in the past I have typically approached meal planning with what do I feel like cooking?  Rather than, what do we have and how can I use it creatively?  It has taken time to really grow into a sense of place on our farm.  That left over feeling of entitlement from my previous life sometimes blocks recognizing the incredible abundance we have here.  With 5.5 acres of chemical-free vegetables and easy access to local cheese and meat; why would I choose to cook anything else?  So my current mission is to create meals using only the vegetables  that we grow before anything else is considered.  I allow myself a wide array of condiments and spices, but the foundation comes from the farm.

This week there are carrots, potatoes and tomatoes for starters, so I opted for a roasted concoction inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi.  It was the first time I had added a dressing to warm veggies.  The result made me weep with the realization that there is no lack of anything, only an overflowing abundance.

Warm out of the oven ready to be tossed with the dressing.

Warm out of the oven ready to be tossed with the dressing.

Roasted Vegetables With Caper Vinaigrette:

  • 6 carrots, peeled and cut in 3 inches lengths (for larger carrots, halve lengthwise and quarter)
  • 4 medium red onions, cleaned, peeled and quartered vertically
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1 head of garlic, halved horizontally
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 medium red skinned potatoes, skin on and chunked or quartered depending on size
  • 20 cherry tomatoes, halved

For the dressing:

  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 4 Tbsp capers, drained
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 375 F degrees.  Place the onions and carrots in a large bowl and add the olive oil, thyme, rosemary, garlic, 1 tsp salt and a few grinds of fresh black pepper.  Toss well and spread out on a large rimmed baking sheet.  Roast for 20 minutes.

While the onions and carrots are roasting, prepare the potatoes.  Add the potatoes to the pan and toss to coat.  Return to the oven and roast for an additional 40-50 minutes.  When the vegetables are cooked through and have taken on a golden color, stir in the halved tomatoes.  Roast for an additional 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the lemon juice, capers, maple syrup, mustard and 2 Tbsp of olive oil.  Adjust seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Pour the dressing over the vegetables as soon as you take them out of the oven.  Remove head of garlic. Place roasted vegetables in decorative bowl and sprinkle with coarse salt.  Place garlic head on top.  When serving break up head and squeeze garlic paste on each serving.  Pass the Kleenex.

Unexpected lusciousness!

Unexpected lusciousness!

Don't plan on leftovers.

Don’t plan on leftovers.

“The key to abundance is meeting limited circumstances with unlimited thoughts.”

                                                                          —Marianne Williamson

 

Romancing The Garlic

Hard-neck garlic drying

Hard-neck garlic drying

July is garlic time here at our farm,. We’re busy harvesting, cleaning, hanging and selling heady, beautiful hard-neck garlic. It’s an intense time for a small farm such as ours.  Each step of the process is by hand so although time consuming, it’s definitely a labor of love.  There’s nothing quite like fresh garlic and many of our customers buy large quantities. When stored properly garlic can last well into the following year, while adding that welcome punch to so many recipes.  One way to preserve garlic is to make a “confit”.  The French verb confit means “to preserve.” The term confit in our country has come to mean to poach something in fat at a low temperature for a long time.

Peeled garlic ready to poach

Peeled garlic ready to poach

During the growing season I am always looking for ways to preserve and extend each crop.  Many times while harvesting garlic we have ‘dingers’; heads that we accidentally sink a shovel into or rip the roots off by pulling a little too hard.  We collect these and rather than resign them to the compost pile, we turn them into a delicious garlic confit. These make wonderful hostess or Christmas gifts and can be used in a variety of ways. Try them as a dipping oil for crusty artisan bread, add them to bean soups, to pasta, mashed potatoes or even roasted red peppers for a great bruchetta.  The possibilities are endless, limited only by your imagination.  Who wouldn’t love a jar of this liquid gold?

Garlic Confit:

  • 4 cups whole garlic cloves, separated and peeled
  • Small handful of fresh woody herbs (approximately 8-10) such as thyme or rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf, 8 peppercorns, or 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (try different combinations, as these are entirely optional)
  • 3 cups extra virgin olive oil

Place garlic, herbs, oil and any additional ingredients you have chosen in a medium heavy saucepan.  Cover a cook over very low heat for about 30 minutes.  Don’t allow the oil to rise above 200 degrees F.  You may see small bubbles rise to the top.  To check for doneness, take a paring knife and test a clove.  It should be very soft; if not, poach for an additional 10 more minutes.

Remove pan from heat, keep covered and allow to cool to room temperature.  Using a clean spoon, divide garlic, herbs and oil among resealable jars. (I use 1/2 pint jelly jars)  Can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 months.

Garlic ready to slowly poach

Garlic ready to slowly poach

Liquid Gold

Liquid Gold

“The combination of olive oil, garlic and lemon juice can lift the spirits in winter.”

—Yotam Ottolenghi