Sunday, January 31, 2010

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup.

I recently received a note from a friend, including a description of his latest batch of Butternut squash soup. He was happy to find that mushroom stock worked so well with the dish. I love notes like this. It reminded me of my basket of butternuts quietly hibernating in the pantry. No more. They have been roasted, pureed and rearranged into this delicious soup. With a slice of rosemary bread I had baked to join alongside, I was glad to be snowed in all weekend.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup:
*3 butternut squash, cut lengthwise, seeds scooped out
*2 carrots
*3 celery stalks
*1 sweet or Spanish onion
*2 cloves garlic, peeled left whole
*4 Tbsp. butter
*6-7 cups chicken stock (or mushroom stock)
*1 tsp ground ginger
*3/4 tsp. mace
*salt and pepper to taste
*plain yogurt or sour cream for garnish
*Chopped parsley or chives for garnish

Preheat oven to 375. Cut butternuts lengthwise and scoop out seeds (you can save these for roasting, they are delicious). Cut celery stalks and carrots in half. Cut onion into quarters. On a lined baking sheet, arrange all of the vegetables. Place small pats of butter into seed wells of squash. Salt and pepper everything. Roast in oven until tender about 1 hour. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Working in batches, scoop out squash flesh into food processor or blender. Add about 2 cups stock and puree. Continue with remaining squash, carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Place puree in a large soup pot with remaining stock over med heat. Add spices and additional salt and pepper to taste. Whisk together. Serve in bowls with a spoonful of yogurt or sour cream. Garnish with chives or parsley. *Stay tuned for Rosemary Bread recipe.*

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Frittatas have been a longtime standby at our place. They're easy, satisfying, and beautiful. Turning the finished product out onto a plate reveals the lovely base layer of potatoes.

I depend on this dish often because you can put just about anything in it. This one included spinach, fresh mozzarella, onion and some of our frozen garden tomatoes.

Spinach Mozzarella Frittata:
*3 gold potatoes or 1 1/2 sweet potatoes
*2 Tbsp butter or olive oil
*2 cloves garlic, minced
*5 eggs
*1/2 cup milk or whatever you use as milk
*1 cup wilted spinach
*1/2 small sweet onion, sliced thin
*1/2 cup garden tomatoes
*1/2 ball fresh mozzarella, sliced
*salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400. Heat butter in a 9'' cast iron skillet. Slice the potatoes into thin rounds or half moons. Saute over medium-low heat until tender, about 7 minutes. You may need to add more butter as you go. Meanwhile, crack eggs into a med bowl. Whisk in milk, garlic, salt and pepper. Using a rubber spatula, press potatoes over the bottom of pan to form a "crust". Sprinkle spinach over top. Pour egg mixture over spinach and potato. Add onion, mozzarella, and tomatoes. Allow to cook 1 minute before transferring to oven. Bake until center puffs and turns golden, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven. Allow to cool slightly before slicing or turning out onto a serving plate.

*Note: you can make this dairy free by omitting the milk (add an extra egg or 2 in that case) and substituting avocado slices for the cheese. Also, try this using sweet potatoes rather than golds. It's very good.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hide and Seek....

Food is not only a necessity, it is part of our culture, religion, social relationships, and emotion. Food has also become a hugely high profiting industry. This is not necessarily a bad thing, when industry is built upon ethics. Too often though, profits not ethics lead the way. Money making lures companies into cutting corners in terms of quality for the sake of increased sales and production. This is where the subject gets tricky. Locating high quality, nutritious food these days has become quite a game of hide-and-seek.

In the Dairy Industry's case, laws require high heat pasteurization (invented by Louis Pasteur in 1862 ), of mass produced milk and milk products to keep harmful bacteria from growing during the long journey from cow to consumer. Sadly, this process not only kills bacteria, but also destroys the fragile enzymes and lactase-producing bacteria needed to digest lactose (the sugar component present in all dairy). Some small batch dairy foods are sold "raw" (unpasteurized), when handled specially or fermented/aged. Usually safe raw milk products permitted for sale come from grass fed cows. This is due in part to the fact that pastured cows maintain a healthier balance of good and bad bacteria naturally.

This being said, imagine my delight when I discovered this Danish butter. This is the only brand I have found that does not specifically list pasteurized cream. Pretty exciting! I have decided until I have room for a miniature Jersey cow in the yard, this butter will certainly suffice. Not to mention how blissfully velvety and creamy it is!

P.S. Of course, a local raw butter source would be preferable. What a trip this butter has made across the ocean to my toast....hummm...?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Dessert Dilemma.

We all want to serve cake to our loved ones on their birthday. But we love them after all, and don't want to do them a disservice by offering unethical amounts of sugar. Fortunately, it's possible to serve cake and balance the sweetness.
Years ago, (March 2004 in fact), I came across this article in Bon Appetit magazine. It was titled, "The Chocolate Wars". Cooks submitted their recipes of long time food battles. This one involved two sisters who each claimed their chocolate cake trumped the other's. I have tried both. Beverly's wins in my book. I cut the amount of sugar by a half cup, bringing out the wonderful dark chocolate! This recent batch I topped with whipped organic cream and turned our frozen garden raspberries into a lovely sauce. It was spot on. Not to sweet yet ultra satisfying. In fact I prefer a cake like this to the usual sugary options. I may even have a nibble in the morning with coffee. Shhhh.

Beverly's Dark Chocolate Cake:
*1 cup raw cane sugar
*3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
*3/4 tsp salt
*1/3 cup olive oil or melted butter
*1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
*1 1/2 cups hot water
*1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
*2 eggs
*1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour two layer pans. Place sugar, cocoa, and salt in a large bowl. Pour in oil (do not mix). Place baking soda in a separate bowl; stir in the hot water and add to cocoa mixture. Mix with an electric mixer until cool, about 1 minute. Beat in flour, then eggs and vanilla. Pour equal amounts into both prepared pans. Bake just until done, about 15 minutes. Cool completely.

Whipped Cream Frosting:
*1 cup organic heavy cream
*1 tsp vanilla
*2 Tbsp powdered sugar

Using an electric mixer, beat cream in a large bowl until it just begins to thicken. Add vanilla and sugar. Continue beating until thick and fluffy. Spoon onto 1st layer of cake. Smooth over surface. Add second layer on top and repeat. Make raspberry sauce.

Raspberry Sauce:
*1 1/2 cups frozen raspberries
*1/3 cup water
*2 Tbsp sugar

Bring all ingredients to a simmer in a small saucepan. Continue simmering stirring often until most liquid is gone and raspberries become slightly thick, about 10 minutes. Allow to cool. Spoon sauce into a Ziploc bag. Cut off a tiny corner of bag and pipe onto a plate. Slice cake and serve over top.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

French Lentil Soup.

After a day of removing bittersweet and honeysuckle vines from an embankment in the damp cold, this lentil soup soothed the bones. I cannot express how nice hot soup is in the dead of winter! Thank you broth and adorable little French lentils for the much needed fortification!

French Lentil Soup:
*2 cups dry french lentils (soaked for 4 hours)
*3 Tbsp butter
*2 carrots, chopped
*3 celery stalks, chopped
*1 small-med sweet onion, chopped
*1 gold potato, chopped
*4 garlic cloves, minced
*1/2 bunch fresh kale (about 5 large stalks), chopped
*2 bay leaves
*3/4 cup dry red wine
*5-6 cups chicken stock
*sea salt and pepper

Over medium heat, melt butter in a large soup pot. Add carrots, celery, onion, and potato. Salt and pepper. Saute about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute 2 minutes. Add bay leaves and red wine. Cook about 2 minutes. Stir in lentils and chicken stock. Reduce heat to med/low, cover and simmer stirring occasionally until lentils are tender, about 30-40 minutes. Add kale 2 minutes before serving. Allow to wilt but not to cook very long. Ladle into bowls. Enjoy!

California Rolls!

Yes, I know, these don't quite look like the rolls you order at your local sushi joint, but they will do just fine! Instead of white rice, these rolls are filled with whole grain brown rice, smoked wild salmon, avocado and carrot. Such a clean, easy meal.

California Rolls:
*1 pkg organic sushi nori
*1 1/2 brown rice, cooked
*1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
*1 avocado
*1 carrot
*sesame seeds
*1 pkg smoked wild salmon

*soy sauce for dipping
*wasabi paste for dipping
*pickled ginger if you like it

While rice is cooking, (1 1/2 cups rice to 3 cups water), cut carrot lengthwise in very thin sticks. Slice avocado into thin strips. When rice is done, remove from heat and stir in rice wine vinegar. Lay a sheet of nori on a cloth napkin. Spoon a thin layer of warm rice over most of the nori leaving a small strip at the end free of rice. Add salmon in a single strip down the length of the sheet. Repeat on top of the salmon with a little bundle of carrot sticks and avocado. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Use the napkin to lift roll over onto itself and roll tightly toward the rice free end, gently squeezing as you go. Apply a bit of water to exposed nori and roll to seal. Set aside and repeat until all rolls are done. Using a very sharp knife, cut roll into bite size pieces. Serve with pickled ginger, wasabi and soy sauce.

Monday, January 25, 2010

More on the Fish Controversry....

I have talked up wild salmon already, but what about all the other types of fish? It's fairly common knowledge at this point that large varieties of fish contain dangerous amounts of mercury stored in their fat. It's also becoming widely known how important omega 3's present in fish are for neurological development and maintaining a healthy system. So what variety's are ok to eat often? Check out the list below.

In the meantime, do your taste buds and your body a favor by trying this amazing smoked herring (kipper is a reference to the way the fish is split in half, salted and smoked). These fillets are so delicious I could almost eat them on everything. I suggest making these kippers up the same way you would tuna fish salad, or spread on a cracker/bread with mustard. They would be lovely on a green salad as well! Or with eggs and toast in the morning.....the possibilities are endless. Yum!

Note: The best days to buy fresh fish are Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Lowest Mercury:
  • Anchovies
  • Catfish
  • Clam
  • Crab
  • Crawfish
  • Flounder
  • Haddock
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Mullet
  • Oyster
  • Perch
  • Pollock
  • Salmon
  • Sardine
  • Scallop
  • Shrimp
  • Sole
  • Squid
  • Tilapia
  • Trout
  • Whitefish
Modest Mercury:
  • Bass
  • Carp
  • Cod
  • Halibut
  • Lobster
  • Mahi Mahi
  • Monkfish
  • Perch
  • Snapper
  • Tuna (Canned Chunk light)
High Mercury:
  • Bluefish
  • Grouper
  • Sea Bass
  • Tuna (Canned Albacore, Yellowfin)
Highest Mercury- Avoid:
  • Marlin
  • Orange Roughy
  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • Tilefish
  • Tuna (Ahi)
"Bye for now. Gone Fishin"

Sunday, January 24, 2010

An Extended Stay In India.

Since we took an imaginary trip to India last night with our Vegetable Curry, I thought it fitting to stay a little longer. Well, long enough to create and enjoy some savory samosas at least. Usually these amazing nibbles are deep fried, but since I tend to object to deep frying (unless it is a yearly event using duck fat or pastured lard), these little pockets are baked. Just to warn you, this is not a recipe to rush through. If you are simply trying to get food on the table and bellies filled, save this for another time. These make a wonderful dish for a fancy party or potluck. The perk to this recipe is that I was able to use the leftover pastry dough from the "Memorable Blueberry Pie" (see earlier post). Eaten with some spruced up yogurt, you may just want to stay inevitably. Enjoy.

Potato Spinach Samosas:
*leftover pastry dough, chilled (follow pastry recipe divided in half from "Memorable Blueberry Pie")
*3 small gold potatoes, boiled and peeled
*2 garlic cloves, pressed through garlic press
*1/4 cup frozen peas
*1/2 cup wilted spinach, squeeze to remove access water
*3 Tbsp plain whole yogurt
*1 tsp Indian Curry powder
*sea salt and pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, mash boiled potatoes. Mix in remaining ingredients. Set aside. Preheat oven to 425. Roll out pastry dough on a floured surface. Using a biscuit cutter, cut out circles from dough. Repeat. Then roll out each dough circle additionally with a rolling pin. Use a small paring knife to create small steam slots in the dough. Spoon about 1 Tbsp filling onto middle of each circle. Fold over and seal shut with a fork. Repeat until all dough is gone. Place samosas on a lined baking sheet and bake until golden, about 20 minutes. While cooling, make yogurt sauce.

Yogurt Sauce:
*1 cup plain yogurt (I recommend Seven Stars brand Original Plain)
*2 Tbsp chopped chives
*1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
*squeeze of lime
*1 clove garlic, pressed with a garlic press

Mix all ingredients together. Dip samosas into yogurt sauce, close your eyes, and inhale deeply!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Vegetable Tempeh Curry.

Last night we watched Darjeeling Limited, again. The colorful images gave me the travel bug. So tonight our cuisine attempted a trip to India. It turned out very good, but I would have made something incredibly different had we invited a true world traveler to dinner.
Anyway, here it is:

Vegetable Tempeh Curry:
*1/2 package tempeh, cut into 1 inch cubes
*2 Tbsp butter or olive oil
*1 small to medium sweet onion, cut into half moons
*2 celery stalks, cut diagonally
*1 carrot, cut on the diagonal
*2-3 small gold potatoes, cut into semi-thin wedges
*3-4 cloves garlic, minced
*1 1/2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and grated
*4 large button mushrooms, quartered
*1 cup frozen or wilted fresh spinach
*1/4 cup frozen peas
*1/4 cup golden raisins
*1 1/2 cups coconut milk
*2 Tbsp Indian curry powder (Frontier makes a good one)
*4 cardamom pods
*2 bay leaves
*1 tsp sea salt
*1/2 tsp ground pepper
*3 Tbsp chopped cilantro
*1 lime, cut into wedges

In a large skillet, heat butter to medium temperature. Add onion, celery, carrot and potatoes. Saute for 5 minutes stirring often. Add garlic and mushrooms. Continue to cook for 3 more minutes. Add coconut milk, curry, cardamom, bay leaves, ginger, salt and pepper. Simmer until all veggies are tender about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tempeh and raisins. Cook for a few minutes before adding spinach and peas. Cook 2 more minutes. Remove from heat. Add cilantro. Serve over brown rice. Squeeze lime over top. *You can serve with a side of whole plain yogurt.
Happy Travels!


I want to thank my dear long distance friend Greta for making me this beautiful "blog" apron! The sage green linen is adorned with a little lace precious! It is the prettiest thing I have ever worn in the kitchen! Thank you sweet Greta!

And thanks to all of you for your encouraging feedback and testing out the recipes! Especially my fellow food obsessed co-workers! Love you all!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Keeping it Wild!

Wild caught Alaskan salmon! Merely looking at one of these deeply hued pink fillets seems to improve one's health. I used to refrain from fish given all the toxicity in the waters these days. Though with a little more research, I have decided to dive back in, so to speak. But not without some guidelines. I like to stick to wild caught, cold water fish, smaller varieties being preferable. Sometimes farm raised fish is a good choice if you know the integrity of the farm to be exceptional (i.e. they feed the fish pure stuff and keep the water clean).
Wild caught salmon has a special place in my heart, thanks to all the health benefits it offers. Omega 3's are just the tip of the iceberg. Wild salmon has an uncanny balance of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats, which help support the the immune and circulatory system. This balance also helps combat inflammation. Other nutritional properties include: selenium, niacin vitamin B12, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin B6. Plus this fish is so tasty!
Here is a glaze/marinade I usually pair with a fresh fillet or two:

Salmon Marinade:
*3 Tbsp olive oil
*1/8 cup tamari or high quality soy sauce
*2-3 cloves garlic, pressed
*1 generous Tbsp honey, sorghum or maple syrup
*1 inch peeled and grated fresh ginger
*1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

Heat oven to broil. Whisk all ingredients together. Taste. Adjust to your liking. Marinate salmon fillet(s) for as little as 1 hour, or spoon over fillet right before broiling. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place fillet on baking sheet, place on lowest rack of oven. Broil fish until just done (time will vary depending on thickness of fillet). About 10 minutes give or take. Serve with brown rice and greens or whatever strikes your fancy.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Blueberry Pie and A Warmed Heart!

Today I was blessed to be with my husband's 93 year old grandmother Zelma. Before our visit I made some pastry dough and pulled 2 bags of blueberries from the freezer. (Last summer I went to a "pick your own" blueberry patch in Marion NC and froze 3 gallons). Zelma was up for anything, so we spent the morning in the kitchen. Here are photos from our journey. Along the way I cherished stories of her midwife mother "Miss Gussy" who was continuously summoned to "catch a baby" at all hours of the day, and other tales of her resilient family of 9. As good as the pie was, being with this incredible woman trumped all!

Memorable Blueberry Pie:
For Pastry: (this will make 2)
*2 1/2 cups flour
*1/2 tsp salt
*12 Tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cubed
*4 Tbsp organic vegetable shortening, cold
*6-8 Tbsp ice water

Blend flour and salt in a cuisinart or in large bowl. Add cold butter and shortening. Blend or pulse until a course meal forms. Slowly add ice water while blending until dough forms. On a floured surface, briefly/gently kneed dough into a ball. Divide in half. Working with about 3 Tbsp of dough at a time, smear dough in a forward motion on work surface will the palm of your hand. (This helps distribute the fats evenly). Form into 2 disks, wrap in wax paper and allow to chill, about 3 hours in fridge or 1 hour in freezer.
Roll out 1 disk of dough on a floured surface for crust.
Place first crust in pie dish, weight with pie weights or dry beans over parchment paper. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and lift out weights.
Roll out top layer of crust and cut shapes out for steam to escape while baking.

For Filling:
*about 5 cups blueberries, thawed and drained
*squeeze of lemon
*1/3 cup flour
*1/3 cup raw cane sugar

Mix all ingredients together gently. Pour into the par baked pie shell. Place top crust on top and bake at 375 for as long as it takes for the fruit to bubble and crust to golden. Allow to cool and serve as is or with fresh whipped cream. Enjoy with your grandmother, or someone else's.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Green Tonic...Sesame Ginger Kale

If you guzzle coffee to no end and still feel sluggish, I've got your back! Fixing up a batch of this simply sauteed kale will reunite you with your long lost wellspring of energy. Not to mention what a powerful mood boost kale provides in the heart of winter. This is a simple, absolutely delicious preparation. I had it this morning with breakfast.....and halfway through the work day I was glad I did! So much so, I had it again with dinner this evening!

Sesame Ginger Kale:
*1 bunch fresh kale, any variety, rinsed and chopped, stem ends removed
*2 cloves garlic, minced
*1 Tbsp. soy sauce
*1 inch peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
*1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
*1 tsp. sesame oil
*1 Tbsp. olive oil or butter for sauteing

Over medium heat add olive oil or butter to a large skillet. Add garlic. Saute briefly and add chopped kale. Drizzle a small amount of water over kale. Stir and cook until kale is wilted but still vibrantly green. Add soy sauce and ginger. Cook 1 more minute. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and sesame oil. Stir. Taste. Adjust seasonings as needed. Refuel your engine!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pastured Beef Stew With Roots.

Thank God for small farmers! I owe the star of this meal (pastured chuck roast) to some very fine, hardworking, local farmers whom I am privileged to know. I have a theory that the rock stars of the future will be all of those who produce nutrient dense food for their local community! Thank you to all the farms in Western North Carolina for being the backbone of my health!
Here is a hearty stew featuring pastured beef and root vegetables. Traditionally beef stew is made with beef stock. However, I happened to have a leftover chicken carcass (see earlier post) that I used for stock instead, as a matter of convenience. Generally in the kitchen, if you are using lovely ingredients and put them together, there is no way to disappoint. The cow ate pasture, the roots ate sunshine and earth.....bon appetit!

Pastured Beef Stew with Roots:

*1 medium grass fed chuck roast
*4 cups stock
*1 cup dry red wine
*3-4 small potatoes, quartered
*1 onion, chopped
*3 cloves garlic, chopped
*1-2 parsnips, chopped
*1-2 carrots, chopped
*3 celery ribs, chopped
*handful mushrooms, quartered
*dried rosemary
*2 bay leaves
*sea salt
*3 Tbsp flour for thickening
*chopped parsley for garnish

Rinse and dry chuck roast. Rub enough oregano, rosemary, sea salt and pepper onto roast to coat. Set aside. Chop all vegetables. Sear all sides of roast in heavy skillet over medium heat, about 2 minutes per side. Place in crockpot. Add chopped vegetables, bay leaves and garlic. Add wine. Add enough stock to cover all contents.

Let stew cook in crockpot overnight or for at least 8-10 hours. I like to start this dish in the evening and let it cook until the following night about 24 hours. It is very nice to come in from work the next day and dinner is done. Although, I believe it was borderline animal cruelty allowing my dog to smell this stew simmering all day.

1 hour before serving, remove 1/2 cup stock and place in a jar with lid. Add flour and shake until all flour is dissolved. Add back to crockpot and stir. This will thicken stew. Salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped parsley.

*maybe drizzle just a little of the broth over your dog's kibble for being so patient!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream!

If you are one of the many who love ice cream, even in the winter months, try this. This recipe is dairy free, sweetened with honey, and super creamy! It's worth investing in a simple electric ice cream maker if you don't already have one. Cuisinart makes a good model.
I started this coconut milk ice cream after dinner last night and it was ready in 15 minutes!

Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream:
*1 can coconut milk
*3 Tbsp high quality unsweetened cocoa powder
*1/4 cup honey
*1/2 tsp. vanilla
*1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate

In a medium bowl, whisk all ingredients but the chopped chocolate until fully blended. Add to ice cream maker. About 2 minutes before ice cream is done, add chopped chocolate. Scoop into bowls and serve!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Nourishing Gift From the Andes.

Native to the high elevations of the Andes mountains, quinoa has been eaten traditionally for over 6,000 years. Not only is this amazing food prized for it's balance of essential amino acids (making it a complete protein), it also contains fiber, phosphorus, magnesium and iron. Low on the glycemic index, quinoa is a great choice as a whole grain.
It can be eaten savory or sweet. I like it seasoned with toasted nuts, lemon zest, garlic and sea salt. Here is a tasty and equally eye catching recipe I often make:

Treasure Chest Quinoa:
* 2 cups quinoa, rinsed very well
*4 cups water
*2 garlic cloves, pressed with garlic press
*1/4 cup olive oil
*handful fresh chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
*1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
*zest from 1 lemon
*1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (or toasted almonds, walnuts, cashews)
*2 ribs celery, sliced thin diagonally
*1 pomegranate
*1-2 cups green beans, lightly sauteed or blanched, cut into pieces
* 1 generous teaspoon sea salt
*fresh ground pepper

Bring water to a boil. Add quinoa, reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer without stirring, for about 15-20 minutes or until all water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. In medium bowl, mix together olive oil, pressed garlic, parsley, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Add all but about 1 cup of the cooked quinoa (you can sweeten the remainder for breakfast in the morning). Add green beans, celery, and toasted pine nuts. Remove the gem like seeds from about 2/3 pomegranate. Add to quinoa. Gently stir. Add more salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. Sprinkle with shaved Parmesan (optional).

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Honey Skillet Cornbread!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of hanging out with my nephews. While the youngest napped, his big brother and I baked cornbread. He is a natural sous chef! I cracked the egg, he whisked. After pouring the batter into a heated cast iron skillet we turned the rest of the work over to the oven. We peaked in often until the bread was golden. In the end, we sat down to enjoy this fluffy, sweet cornbread together. I told him that the honey we used in the recipe came from friends of mine who keep bees right here in town. "In fact", I said, "I've even met the bees who made this honey." We devoured our slices and gave each other some congratulatory high fives while relishing our duel effort in the kitchen.

Honey Skillet Cornbread:

*1 cup organic corn meal
*1 cup organic white whole wheat flour
*1 Tbsp. baking powder
*1 tsp. sea salt
* 1 cup buttermilk
*1/2 cup honey
*1 large egg
*5 Tbsp. butter

Preheat oven to 400. Heat 10 inch cast iron skillet in oven with the butter. Mix dry ingredients together in medium bowl (here you may add extra goodies such as whole corn, sage, fresh ground pepper, etc). Have your nephew help you whisk buttermilk, honey, and egg together in separate bowl. Remove skillet from the oven and add melted butter to milk mixture. Whisk. Add liquid ingredients to dry and gently fold to blend. Pour batter into skillet and bake on middle rack for about 20 minutes or until the top is golden in color. Enjoy with a little person!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Lamb Liver Pate....The Scoop on Organ Meats.

Yes! I said it, the eyebrow raising words, "LIVER, and ORGAN MEATS". What puzzles me are the gasps that follow these words but those that do not follow mention of high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, or artificial coloring? Rest assured, these locally raised lamb livers had a good life. Brought up on East Fork Farm here in the mountains of Western North Carolina, their host dwelled on pasture under the sun and ate grass. This means, when I spread this pate on baguette, I will be consuming a healthy share of essential vitamins and minerals. Here is the list:

Grass Fed Liver Contains:
B Vitamins:
B9 or folic acid
Fat Soluble Vitamins:
and essential fatty acids

Lamb Liver Pate:
(adapted from Sally Fallon's chicken liver pate)

*About 1 pound lamb livers, rinsed
*1/2 pound mushrooms (I used half shatike half button)
*3 Tbsp organic butter (for sauteing)
*1 small onion, chopped
*2 garlic cloves, mashed
*1/2 cup dry white wine
*1 tsp dry mustard
*1 tsp dried rosemary
*pinch dried dill
*1 Tbsp lemon juice
4 Tbsp butter, room temp
*sea salt

In a heavy skillet, melt 3 Tbsp butter and saute livers, mushrooms and onion, until livers are browned. Add herbs, garlic, mustard and wine. Allow to cook until all liquid is gone. Remove from heat and cool. Blend in a food processor with softened butter. Add salt to taste. Place in a mold and chill thoroughly. Spread on baguette or crackers with mustard and pickles (a tip from my Austrian friend Heidi).

This recipe was adapted from one of my most trusted pieces of reading material:

A Must Read!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Lovely Roast Chicken!

The bird is still "resting" from the heat of the oven as we speak. Soon I will carve it, eat my favorite parts while doing so, and serve with the roasted roots it baked with. I highly recommend making a simple gravy from the drippings and sprinkling the roots with fresh chopped parsley.

Prior to baking, this lovely hen was stuffed with organic orange and lemon wedges (to keep the meat tender), and adorned with rosemary sprigs. The smell of citrus and rosemary filling the house could have aroused the most listless of eaters. Pure Joy!

Roast Chicken:
*1 Whole organic chicken
*1 lemon, cut into wedges
*1 small orange, cut into wedges
*3 Rosemary sprigs, or favorite herb
*sea salt
*fresh ground pepper
*olive oil
*assortment of favorite root veggies or just gold potatoes

Preheat oven to 375. Line a 9x13 inch baking dish with parchment paper. Rinse bird and pat dry with paper towels. Place in dish. Stuff with lemon and orange wedges. Sprinkle with rosemary, salt and pepper. Cross legs and tie together with baking string. Place chopped roots (such as sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, onion, or potatoes) around the chicken. Drizzle all contents of dish with olive oil. Roast until browned and thoroughly cooked through, about 2 1/2 hours (time will vary depending on the size of bird. If using meat thermometer, it should read 165 when done). Let rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Remember to save the bones and carcass (with remaining citrus inside) for chicken stock!!! You can place them in a Ziploc bag and store in the freezer for stock making day.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Delicious Black Bean Cakes With Herb Gravy.

This evening we enjoyed black bean cakes with herb gravy. Very good with a green salad and gingerbread for dessert (made earlier in the day). Time for some BBC Blue Planet series, a cup of herbal tea, and bed!

Black Bean Cakes:
*4 cups soaked and cooked black beans or use 2 cans organic black beans
*2/3 cup cooked brown rice
*2 celery ribs, diced
*1 small onion, chopped
*1 carrot, diced
*4 cloves garlic, minced
*2 teaspoons cumin
*1/3 cup organic yellow corn meal
*sea salt and pepper to taste
*olive oil for sauteing

Blend half whole black beans (about 2 cups or 1 can) in cuisinart. Transfer to bowl. Add about 2 cups whole black beans and gently stir with brown rice. Saute celery, onion, carrot and garlic in small amount of olive oil over medium heat until tender. Add to black bean mixture. Mix in remaining ingredients. Form into patties and gently brown in olive oil over medium heat. Meanwhile start on herb gravy...

Herb Gravy:
1 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
2 Tbsp. organic flour or pamela's baking mix
1/4 cup milk or almond milk
1/2 cup fire roasted crushed tomatoes or marinara sauce
2 Tbsp. pesto (optional)
chopped Italian parsley
sea salt

Heat butter or oil over medium heat in a small saucepan. Add flour and whisk. Add milk. Whisk. Stir in remaining ingredients and whisk until heat thickens sauce. Spoon over black bean cakes. Enjoy!

Have You Ever Seen Anything This Beautiful?

I will admit to an impulse buy. In fact, when it comes to produce, I highly recommend it! Cruising around at Earth Fare last week I spied this gorgeous totem of mini cabbage (otherwise known as brussel sprouts). I had to have it. My first dish involved slicing the delicious globes in halves, sauteing them with butter, onion, garlic, grainy mustard, apple cider, sprinkling with local bacon, and so on. However, the next dish I made was simpler, and I think superior. They were eaten steamed with butter, sea salt and a healthy squeeze of fresh lemon. You really can't beat that combination!