Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sweet Potato Bisque with Parmesan Lace

Simplistic yes, but with all the holiday fuss, uncomplicated dishes are a welcome retreat. Homemade broth, sweet potato and cream need nothing more than one another, except for a special adornment of baked parmesan cheese. Special. Satisfying. 


Sweet Potato Bisque with Parmesan Lace:
*8 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
*4-5 cups chicken broth
*1 cup high quality cream
*sea salt 
*black pepper
*3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
Heap 1 Tablespoon of parmesan on baking sheet and spread out to create a flat circle. Repeat with remaining cheese allowing an inch between each circle. Bake for about 4 minutes or until cheese is mostly golden and bubbly. Remove from oven and cool.

Place sweet potatoes in a large soup pot. Cover with chicken broth adding enough to completely submerge contents. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until sweet potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from heat. Cool slightly.
Blend with an immersion blender or working in batches, puree contents in a food processor until smooth. Add cream. Blend. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Divide into bowls. Garnish each with a wafer of parmesan lace. Serve hot.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Mulled Apple Cider


Appearing in print last week, this article on mulled cider includes a special recipe for homemade mulling spice (perfect for cider and wine). An inexpensive but inventive gift for those you plan to gift. I've done this every year for the past few, with great success. It's always nice to have cider and mulling spice on hand for those impromptu Holiday gatherings. Cheers.


Homemade Mulling Spice:

5 navel oranges, very thinly sliced into whole rounds
10-15 whole cinnamon sticks
20 cardamom pods
40 whole cloves
30 black peppercorns
20-25 star anise pods


Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Arrange orange slices on wire racks. Place racks over sheet pans. Allow oranges to gently bake until fully dehydrated, flipping once halfway through, about 3-4 hours.  
Allow oranges to cool completely on wire racks before dividing with remaining spices among 10 paper envelopes*. Secure with twine. 
Each packet should adequately flavor approximately one quart fresh apple cider or one bottle of red wine.

*Create paper pouches using pre-made envelopes or make your own with origami paper or parchment. Tie with kitchen twine.



Mulled Apple Cider:

1 packet homemade mulling spice (see recipe)
1 quart local apple cider

Place cider in a saucepan over medium-low heat or in a crockpot on middle setting. Add mulling spices. Allow to gently simmer for a few minutes. Remove from heat and steep for 10-20 minutes before serving. 

*Experiment with a variety of spices such as whole allspice berries, spicebush berries, candied ginger, or grated nutmeg.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thank You!


As a fleet of pumpkin pies cool,  
it seems a perfect moment
to express my gratefulness
for another year of good eating,
and for your interest in such affairs. 

May you have a blessed Thanksgiving, 
whether you plan to feast with a crowd
or have simpler arrangements. 
May we recognize the gift of a meal, 
however humble, 
and take time to celebrate 
all we are thankful for. 
May your list be a lengthly one.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Recipe For Thanksgiving: Maple Bourbon Glazed Turkey with Local Bacon and Dried Cherry Stuffing


This recipe was a special creation for The Asheville Citizen Times which appeared in print last week alongside my article on giving thanks for locally raised turkeys. For those of you still deciding on how to roast your Thanksgiving bird, consider the following. The maple bourbon glaze candied the turkey's skin, creating a crunchy, sweet crust, outside perfectly juicy meat. A tart bite from cherries with salty local bacon made for a perfect stuffing to dress it with. This recipe may become a new tradition at our place. Thank you to The Asheville Citizen Times and to East Fork Farm for inspiring this year's holiday table. And a heartfelt thanks to you for reading!



Maple Bourbon Glazed East Fork Farm Turkey with Local Bacon and Dried Cherry  Stuffing:

Local Bacon and Dried Cherry Stuffing:
*1lb Hickory Nut Gap Farm Bacon
*2/3 cup dried cherries
*1 large loaf sourdough or traditional French bread (about 1lb)
*1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
*1 garlic glove, minced
*sea salt 
*black pepper
*5 tablespoons butter
*1 medium onion, finely chopped
*2 large celery stalks, finely chopped
*1 small green bell pepper, finely chopped
*1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
*1 1/2 cups hot chicken broth
*1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. 
Line a baking sheet with parchment. Arrange bacon on baking sheet and bake until crispy, about 10-15 minutes. Transfer to paper towels and set aside.
Place cherries in a bowl and cover with boiling water for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Remove crust from bottom and ends of bread loaf and discard. Cut bread into 1 inch cubes and place in a large mixing bowl. Add garlic and olive oil. Toss. 
Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper. Bake until slightly crunchy, stirring often, about 20 minutes. 
Remove from oven and return to the same mixing bowl.
Place a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add butter. Saute onion, celery and green pepper until soft, about 8 minutes. Add to bread mixture. Stir in chopped bacon, cherries, broth, parsley and pecans. 
Set aside for stuffing the turkey. 


Maple Bourbon Glazed East Fork Farm Turkey:
*1 local pastured turkey, rinsed, giblets removed, and patted dry
*local bacon and dried cherry stuffing (see recipe)
*4 tablespoons butter
*2 cups chicken broth
*sea salt
*black pepper
*1 1/2 cups maple syrup
*1/2 cup bourbon

Preheat oven to 425. 
Place turkey in a large roasting pan fitted with a rack. Stuff chest cavity with local bacon and dried cherry stuffing. Tie drumsticks together with kitchen twine.
Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Smear with butter and liberally season with sea salt and black pepper. Add broth to bottom of roasting pan.
Place turkey on bottom rack of oven and roast for 30 minutes before reducing heat to 350. Roast for 45 minutes. Baste with pan liquid and loosely cover turkey with foil. Baste after 35 minutes, adding more liquid to pan if needed. 
Bring maple syrup and bourbon to a gentle boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced to about 1 cup. Set aside. 
Begin brushing turkey with glaze every 30 minutes within the last hour and a half of roasting. You should brush with glaze at least 3 times before turkey is done. Reheat glaze as needed if it becomes too thick.
Once a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees, remove from oven. Stuffing must also reach 165 degrees. Brush turkey one final time with glaze, reserving at least 1 tablespoon for gravy.
Allow turkey to rest for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a platter. Let it rest for an additional 35 minutes before carving. 

Meanwhile, make gravy from drippings


Maple Bourbon Gravy:
Transfer turkey drippings to a saucepan, adding 2 1/2 cups stock (made from giblets) and about 1 tablespoon remaining glaze. Bring to a simmer. Add 1/4 cup flour to 1/2 cup cool water in a small mixing bowl and whisk with a fork until completely dissolved. Slowly whisk flour mixture into drippings and simmer until thickened. Pour through a strainer into a serving vessel and serve immediately. 


Gather, give thanks, and enjoy!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Simple Method for Extracting Pomegranate Seeds

Fruit takes on a special appeal this time of year. Abundant throughout the growing season, cooler weather now limits us to only a handful of seasonal options. Pomegranates, with their little seeds surrounded by sweet, jewel-like fruit happens to be a personal favorite, arriving on the scene just in time to appear on the holiday table. Though the task of plucking each ruby seed from a web of fine, papery skin puts a damper on the fun. This tutorial from the Gourmet test kitchen (while it still existed) is a total game changer. I have been using this method for extracting pomegranate seeds with 100% success. The discovery was so exciting, I thought I would share it here. Enjoy!




Friday, November 2, 2012

Pulled Turkey Thighs with Maple Ginger Soy Reduction

The combination of hot, salty, sour and sweet is greatly recognized in Asian cooking. Together, these flavors celebrate the palate's often unexercised spectrum. Slow cooked, local turkey thighs, tenderly pulled from the bone, offer the perfect canvas for this sweet and salty sauce, spiked with fresh grated ginger and garlic.

Pulled Turkey Thighs with Maple Ginger Soy Reduction:
*2-4 large pastured turkey thighs
*1 onion, sliced
*sea salt
*black pepper
*1/2 cup high quality tamari
*1/4 cup maple syrup
*1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
*2 garlic cloves, minced
*1 1/2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger

Rinse turkey thighs. Place in a slow cooker or heavy braising dish fitted with a lid. Cover thighs with cool water. Add onion. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Bring to a simmer before reducing heat to low. Slow cook for about 3 hours or until meat is ultra tender.
Meanwhile, prepare the sauce:
In a medium saucepan, bring tamari and maple syrup to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Add mustard, garlic and ginger. Gently simmer until reduced by half, and liquid coats the back of a spoon.
Remove turkey thighs from pot with a large slotted spoon. Discard skin. Pull meat from bones and transfer to a bowl.
Sauce will be rather salty until incorporated into meat. Sprinkle a small amount of reduction over meat, tasting often before adding more. Serve with Asian greens and rice, or on a soft bun with slaw.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Snacks For Wee Ones: Mini Quiche


As kids and toddlers dutifully adhere to an agenda of perpetual growth, the egg offers a solution to the snack-food dilemma. Baked into mini, crustless-quiches, the benefits of eggs translate into easily portable, on-the-go snacks, nutritionally impressive and proportionate to little hands. Packed with highly bioavailable fat-soluble antioxidants (say that ten times fast), protein, all eight essential amino acids, good cholesterol and choline (required for proper brain development), omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins A, K, E, D and B-complex, eggs also offer a healthy dose of essential minerals such as iron, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. These properties have been shown to combat skin damage from the sun, reduce the risk of certain cancers, protect vision, and reduce high cholesterol. It's no wonder eggs have been called The Maker's perfect food. This recipe takes about as much active time as scrambling some eggs, making these mini-quiches the perfect snack.

Mini Quiche: (amounts can be approximate, play around with ingredients and fillings)
*5-6 pastured eggs
*2 cups high quality milk or cream (raw if available)
*1/2 cup (or more) shredded cheddar
*sea salt and black pepper to taste
*1/2 cup chopped spinach (if frozen, thaw and squeeze excess water before adding to recipe)
*basil and or parsley, chopped fine

Preheat oven to 375. Generously grease 2 mini muffin trays with butter or olive oil. Whisk eggs in a medium mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients. Transfer mixture to a liquid measuring cup. Pour into individual muffin tins, filling 3/4 full. Bake on center rack of oven until tops are golden, about 15 minutes.
Cool completely. Run a knife around the perimeter of each muffin tin before releasing from mold. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Trader's Creed:

The first trade:
Dust for flesh.
A rib bone
for a companion.
Forbidden fruit
for holiness lost,
knowledge gained.

Flesh with flesh,
new life.
Seed to soil,
provision.
Sprouts to wheat.
Toil for harvest,
bread.

Blooms for pollen.
Bees for honey.
Bread for breaking.
Wood for carving.
Table.

Moon rise
for sun up.
Winter for rest.
Frost for dew.
Spring for planting.
Youth for age.

Long stories told,
for memory's keeping.
Children running.
Chickens scratching.
Old bones rattling.
Birth for death.

Close the door.
Summon a chair.
Sit.
Tell.
Listen.
Laugh.
Cry.
Eat.

Flesh for dust.
Rain for earth.
There is holiness still.
Beholden.

Revolutions Are Not Pasteurized

Standing in the grocery store recently, I took a moment to closely read the labels on all the tinned seafood displayed in neat little rows: oysters, clams, crab, sardines. Every single one of them, a product of China. And every single one of them, a food source native to the US. Even in my health food store, dehydrated packaged apples (another product abundant in this country) come from China.
China is stocking American shelves with pet food to the clothing upon our backs to the food we eat, and we are placing these items in our carts and bringing them home to our families. We then turn around and shout for reform.
As our nation stands neck deep in health and financial turmoil, we now find ourselves literally feasting on a large piece of its demise. Goods have long since come from China, but our once sacred dinner table now seats an uninvited guest.
As the 2012 elections draw near, I cannot help but cringe at this gigantic disconnect between what we buy and what we value.
We want better health care, but do not value our health. We want cheaper fuel, but refuse the idea of public transport. We bicker about jobs, but will not spend more on American-Made. We spend heaps of our precious annual income on weight-loss efforts, but sneer at the prospect of buying local food due to its price tag.
Few would argue that the government is not a broken system. But few of us want to see the other driving force behind today's issues: Us. We. The people.
Our habits are kicking our ass.
Change may be as simple as resisting the urge to verbalize our frustrations at every turn, picking political fights within our respective communities, and instead putting our buck where our mouth is.
What would happen if we took the money we spend on reality TV and put it toward reality?
What if we down graded our smart phones for something more basic, and spent more on quality food?
What if the energy we spend arguing our political differences was spent on being patriotic?
What if we didn't buy what they put before us?
What if we broke the law and drank raw milk?
What if we say enough is enough?
What if we quit complaining and started doing?
What if we didn't wait around for change?
What if this country was American again?
What if we mobilized?
What would happen if we were to rise up and take back what was once ours?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Homemade Bone Broth 101 And A Recipe for Chicken Soup


Few dishes rejuvenate quite like chicken soup. I attribute this to a good broth. As with any dish, especially those with few ingredients, the final product is only as good as each of its components. According to folk lure, a well made bone broth should "bring one back from the dead." I have seen this principal in action, mostly this time of year when school is back in session and the social petri dish is thriving.

Broth is healing for many reasons, but mainly due to its structure. Proteins are already broken down into easily absorbed amino acids, giving the body a break from this process of digestion. Gelatin from bones is also released into the simmer liquid, an excellent anti-inflammatory and gut healing property. Important trace minerals are part of a good broth as well, making this an overall highly nutritive base for any meal, in addition to its incredible depth of flavor. Any good soup or sauce leans heavily on a well prepared broth. The difference between homemade versions and store bought (other than the obvious) is in the bones. Manufactures of boxed versions rely on hydrolyzed fats and proteins to create flavor instead of extracting it from real bones, slowly simmered with care.
For the record, broth is a substance made from simmered bones, vegetables, water and meat, whereas stock is slightly more crude, utilizing only water, possibly vegetables and bones minus the meat. A broth or a stock however must always contain bones.
As modern mealtime has been shaped to satisfy busy lifestyles, bones have nearly been swept from the dinner table. The majority of meat cuts sold today are boneless and skinless for convenience sake. This is a shame, since bones are the secret weapon to prideful home cooks and chefs seeking flavorful dishes. Without bones, we forfeit the nutritive benefits as well.
By seeking bone-in cuts from your local farmer or butcher, you not only waste less, but gain more for your money. After you have enjoyed the meat, the bones can then simmer in the stock pot to create the base for your next meal. If broth making seems daunting, you can relax. The stove nearly does all the work. Here are the steps for an excellent chicken broth. Once you are familiar with the process, experiment with fish bones and heads, and bones from larger animals like lamb and beef. You can brown bones from larger animals in the oven prior to broth making for increased flavor and gorgeous color.

Homemade Chicken Broth 101:
*Purchase a whole, pastured chicken. Roast it and enjoy.
*Pick off the majority of the meat and skin.
*Place entire carcass in a large soup pot and cover bones with cool water.
*Add a couple celery stalks, half an onion and a few garlic cloves (optional)
*Add a splash or white wine, lemon juice or white vinegar (the acidity will help pull gelatin and minerals from the bones).
*Place pot over moderately low heat and slowly bring to a simmer. If you bring liquid up to temperature too quickly, it will cause the proteins to become suspended in the cooking liquid resulting in a cloudy broth.
*Once heat bubbles rise to the surface with some consistency, lower heat to lowest setting.
*Allow to simmer a full day or overnight.
*Skim any foam which rises to the top of the cooking liquid.
*Season to taste with sea salt
*Strain contents into a large bowl and chill.
*Skim fat from top (optional)

Broth can then be stored in freezer safe containers our used immediately for soups, sauces and cooking liquid.

A Recipe for Chicken Soup: (you choose the proportions)
*homemade chicken broth
*onion, chopped
*garlic, minced
*carrots, chopped
*celery, chopped
*leftover chicken meat
*sea salt
*fresh ground black pepper
*cooked rice or noodles (optional)
*flat leaf parsley, stems removed, chopped

The key to a good chicken soup is to keep it simple.
Place a large soup pot over medium heat. Coat with olive oil or butter. Add onions. Once fragrant, add garlic, carrots, and celery. Saute until softened. Add chicken meat. Season with sea salt and pepper. Pour as much broth as you deem necessary. Reduce heat to low and simmer until all vegetables are tender. Season broth to taste. Remove from heat. Add cooked rice or noodles and chopped parsley.
Divide into bowls and enjoy.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Bountiful Harvest



All the sweet potatoes have been unearthed and put up for months ahead with ample help from my 15 month old (a great sidekick as long as I kept the fresh figs and raspberries close by).
Looking forward to dipping into this stash.







Friday, October 5, 2012

Creamy Winter Squash and Carrot Soup


The summer blaze has broken, giving way to sparkly light, walnuts dropping on sodden ground, and joe-pie-weed antiqued brown. It's nearly time to start pillaging the wood pile. Woolen apparel is ready for wear, the snow seal has been unearthed and applied to leather. This is a time to sip cider, stack hard squashes by our doorsteps, and settle in over a bowl of rich soup.
Roasted carrots and assorted winter squashes whirl together with cream and homemade broth to properly usher in the Autumn season. Find a chair by a window and enjoy the show.

Creamy Winter Squash and Carrot Soup: (feeds a crowd)
*1 large hubbard or buttercup squash (or both), quartered and seeded
*1 large butternut squash, halved lengthwise, seeds and pulp removed
*10-12 large carrots
*2 sweet potatoes (optional) pierced several times with a fork
*1 medium sweet onion (optional)
*3 garlic cloves, peeled (optional)
*4-5 cups homemade chicken broth
*sea salt
*black pepper
*1 teaspoon mace
*1 1/2 - 2 cups (you decide) high quality cream (raw if possible)
*yogurt, sour cream or kefir for garnish

Preheat oven to 375.
Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment.
Arrange squashes cut sides down on one sheet. Drizzle skins with olive oil.
Arrange carrots, sweet potatoes, onion, and garlic on second sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Pour 1 cup of water on each baking sheet.
Place baking sheets in top and bottom thirds of oven, switching halfway through, and roast until all ingredients are tender (time will vary depending on thickness of squashes) at least one hour. Add more water to pans as needed.
Allow contents of pans to cool. Scoop flesh from squashes and sweet potatoes and transfer to a large bowl. Add carrots, roasted onion and garlic to bowl with 1/2 the broth. Puree with an immersion blender or place contents in food processor and blend working in batches. Add more broth while blending until puree is smooth and to desired consistency.

Place puree in a large soup pot over medium low heat. Add sea salt, pepper and mace to taste. Stir in cream. Remove from heat once soup is heated through.
Portion into bowls and garnish with whole plain yogurt, kefir or sour cream and chopped parsely.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Garlic Rosemary & Lemon Braised Turkey Legs with Oyster Mushrooms and Couscous


Venison broke an almost decade long affair with vegetarianism (read about it here) followed only second by Thanksgiving turkey. Countless holidays came and went with side dishes heaped in the center of my plate while I tried to overt my eyes from the perfectly golden bird anchoring the entire spread. Green bean casserole and brothless stuffing will only get you so far before images of dark meat smothered in smooth gravy startle you from a restless slumber, as you gasp for breath from sweaty sheets.

Every year, as the sugar maples blush crimson, the anticipation of roasted turkey has a similar effect on me. Thanksgiving leftovers last for a day or two, stacked upon sourdough and adorned with remaining cranberry, or simmered in lemony soup, but the whole event is far too fleeting.
Many would agree, turkey would be welcome at the dinner table more often. Yes, you can buy ground turkey and deli meat anytime, but this is not the turkey I am referring to. The fresh, pure cuts prove difficult to come by, and because of this, many of us wouldn't know what to do with them anyway. Until this moment.

The sourcing issue has been solved (beautifully I may add) by East Fork Farm. Whole pastured turkeys are currently available for holiday pre-order, while ultra fresh cuts are available weekly, from thighs to drumsticks, to super meaty wings. Don't be afraid. Preparing is simple. This recipe uses cloves from two whole garlic bulbs, while browned lemons, white wine, and rosemary infused broth braise the legs to supple, fall-off-the-bone status. The braising liquid is then used to cook the couscous and create a silky gravy to drizzle over the meat.
Be prepared to greet your next holiday meal with a bit of competition.


Garlic Rosemary & Lemon Braised Turkey Legs with Oyster Mushrooms and Couscous:
*olive oil
*2 local bone-in turkey legs, rinsed and patted dry
*sea salt and pepper
*1 medium onion, halved and sliced
*2 organic lemons, halved
*cloves from two garlic bulbs, cloves separated and peeled
*3/4 cup dry white wine
*1 tomato, cored and chopped
*3-4 cups chicken broth
*3 rosemary sprigs
*2 tablespoons butter
*1 cup fresh oyster mushrooms, chopped
*1 cup French couscous
*2 tablespoons flour


Place a braising pan or heavy soup pot fitted with a lid over medium heat. Drizzle with olive oil. Brown turkey legs on each side. Remove from pan and set aside.
Add onion to hot pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Saute until lightly golden. Add lemon halves, cut sides down. Allow to cook without stirring for a few minutes. Add garlic cloves. Stir contents of pan with a wooden spoon. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Pour in the white wine. Simmer until reduced by more than half. Add chopped tomatoes. Cook briefly, then return turkey to pan. Pour in enough broth to cover legs halfway. Place rosemary sprigs on top of the legs. Bring liquid to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cover.
Cook for about 2-3 hours or until turkey is loosened significantly from its bone. Remove turkey from pan, pull meat from bone and set aside.

Bring 1 1/3 cups cooking liquid to a gentle boil in medium saucepan. Add couscous. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for about 7-10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, set a cast iron skillet with butter over medium heat. Add mushrooms and saute until golden, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Remove garlic and rosemary from remaining braising liquid with a slotted spoon. Dissolve 2 tablespoons flour in 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid in a jar with a lid. Shake until no lumps remain. Bring strained cooking liquid to a simmer. Whisk in flour mixture. Simmer until thickened.

Serve turkey over couscous topped with fried mushrooms and drizzled with gravy. Give thanks and enjoy.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Eduard's Perfect Sourdough


Blessed with a variety of friends, I'm currently giving thanks for a particular few. After a quaint dinner gathering, the above mentioned left their generous mark on our house. Laura and Eduard arrived bearing a healthy serving of sourdough starter (bubbling and frothing in its jar), accompanied by a sack of locally grown and locally milled flour. Dana brought homegrown celery and zinnias, arranged in a bouquet, along with a jar of her homemade honeysuckle mead (if bees were mixologists, this would be their signature).
Each gift now has a devout follower, solidified by the fragrant celery gracing this evening's braised beef, sips of mead warming us in the cool Autumn evenings, and by today's first sourdough loaves.
Unlike celery and mead, the sourdough took some coaching from Eduard- sourdough extraordinaire. 
Here is his signature recipe, with which I had great success the first go-round:

Eduard's Perfect Sourdough:
Day one(evening): 2cups of flour
                          1/3cup of starter
                           1 1/4 cup of water (can be more)
                          1/4 cup of rye flour (up to you, I do not use it when I don't have it)
 
 Mix and cover with cling film. Let it sit overnight on the countertop.
 
Day two: 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour*
              4 cuips of bread flour*
              1/4 cup of rye flour*
              2 1/2 cups warm water*
              1 table spoon of salt
              2 cups of day one mix
              Optional: 1/2 cup sunflower seeds/ 1/2 cup of raisins/ walnuts/ almonds

*Mix  and let stand for 20 minutes


Add other ingredients and make in to a smooth dough.
Let it sit on the countertop.
Fold in 4 after 1 hour.
again fold after 1 hour, 
again fold after 1 hour.
Put in bread tins and let rise until just above rim
Bake at 450 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.
Enjoy.

* I added a shallow pan of water on bottom rack of  preheated oven to encourage flaky crust.
Serve warm with salted butter.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Lamb Meatball Stew with Russian Kale (GAPs)

Let me first give a shout out to all of you folks on the GAPs diet. A friend of mine and her family have been going strong for about 2 months, and have experienced health benefits yes, but not prior to tremendous lifestyle changes. This isn't the kind of diet you can pick up and decide to do on a whim. It requires deep conviction, commitment, and resolve to spend double (if not more) of your time in the kitchen.
Homemade bone broths and house made fermented foods are the foundation to most dishes, which, as most of you already know, does not happen on the fly. Zero funny business is tolerated. However, much of the GAPs diet principals are already staples here at our place. Bone broth is constantly simmering on the back burner, and grain laden dishes aren't generally center stage.
So, this flavorful recipe is for all of you rockin' it out GAPs style (and everyone else too). You should be commended for all your hard work!

Lamb Meatball Stew with Russian Kale:
*1 pound ground grass-fed lamb
*1 medium onion, chopped
*1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
*1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
*sea salt and pepper
*2 tablespoons olive oil
*2 carrots, chopped
*4 garlic cloves, minced
*2 cups loosely packed mushrooms of your choice, quartered
*2 tablespoons organic tomato paste
*1 cup dry red wine
*4 1/2 cups homemade chicken broth
*1 red chili pepper, minced
*2 bay leaves
*3 large Russian Kale leaves, stems removed, chopped



Prepare the meatballs: Place ground lamb in a medium mixing bowl. Mince 3 tablespoons of the chopped onion. Add to bowl with the parsley and cumin. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Gently mix into lamb with fork or clean hands. Roll 1 tablespoon lamb mixture into balls between palms. Transfer to a clean plate.
Place a heavy pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil. Once heated, place 1/3 of prepared meatballs in pan. Sear each side until golden, about 4 minutes each side (if you are on beginning stage of GAPs, make sure not to deeply brown). Remove from pot with a slotted spoon, and transfer to another plate. Continue working in batches browning meatballs until all are browned.

Add remaining onion, carrots, and mushrooms to pot with lamb juices. Allow to cook until tender, stirring occasionally. Add tomato paste and garlic. Cook for a few minutes, stirring often. Add red wine. Allow to cook down and reduce slightly, about 5 minutes. Add chicken stock, chili, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer before adding meatballs. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until meatballs are cooked through, about 15 minutes. Uncover and remove from heat. Stir in chopped kale. Allow hot liquid to wilt kale before dividing and serving.

Enjoy!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Northeast Kingdom


A trip to Northern Vermont for a visit with family included plenty of memorable tastes: In order from top:

~Chocolates from Laughing Moon Chocolates in Stowe, handcrafted by my college roomie Anna. The picture is blurry due to overwhelming excitement. Almond and fleur de sel topped coconut truffles, peppermint patty truffles (my fave), caramel-peanut butter dark chocolate truffles, and house made s'mores.

~Geese flying over Wolcott pond.

~Chasing Rhode Island Reds.

~Piping hot homemade line-caught bluefish dip with capers and herbs, alongside a perfectly executed sourdough loaf, provided by my brother-in-law's bro, Matty. Wish I could have this everyday.

Not pictured: A lovely trip to Rock Art brewery's tasting taproom, where heady brews and local maple syrup were gathered and brought home. Countless garden inspired meals eaten outdoors overlooking the lake, the browning goldenrod and stray monarchs who missed the train to Mexico.

Alas, it is near time to come to grips with summer's fleeting company. I cannot think of a better place to do so.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Perhaps the World Ends Here

This poem was introduced to me a while back by my childhood friend Anna. It has remained a favorite since:



Perhaps the World Ends Here

BY JOY HARJO
The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Feast





A very fine crab roast provided by my brother-in-law, Chris (he has good connections). Just when you think late-summer couldn't get any sweeter.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Parable of the Ruby-Throated



Although we have mined too deep,
 cast our nets too often,
 hunted too many,
 drilled,
 paved,
 displaced
 and made extinct;
 nature continues
 to demonstrate
 its unyielding
 generosity.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Letters


Inspired by recent letters from family and friends describing this season's gardening affairs, I thought it fitting to share some of the highlights:





~Dilly bean love, sent to me by my dear friend Suzy in Washington State (the same Suzy to influence the previous sesame kale post). The red pepper hearts are just precious.




~From my brother's family garden in Colorado. His letter reads: "Thought you would be proud of today's haul. The tomatoes are like candy, my new favorite snack and the kids eat cucumbers for snack every day with ranch. We have had a great year. Peas are done and second crop is poking up. Edamame is about ready, lettuce was completely out of control, we gave away 20+ shopping bags of it, beets look good, carrots are thin we lost about half but they are big and good and the onions are amazing. Our corn will be ready in a week or two and the grapes look rad. I am expanding the garden for next fall to include a potato patch and two 40ft rows of corn plus berries!"



~A thrilling report from my lovely friend Dana here in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina: "I am on this simple salad kick- had it for dinner last night and just now for lunch: fresh cut tomato, fresh basil (used as a green vegetable), fresh cut cucumber, fancy salt of some sort, olive oil drizzled over the whole thing and then the whole thing tossed with chunks of goat chevre.
This morning I planted beets, lettuce, spinach, chives and cilantro for fall eating. I am getting the biggest kick out of eating fresh from my own garden. My celery is thriving from all the rain, and I have carrots coming up. As soon as they come at the nursery, I am going to plant fall yellow onion sets. I am pumped to get on making some garden fresh stock this winter. Maybe I can get a deer shank bone or 2 from my neighbor to drive it home. It will be like the rug that really ties the room together... Anyways, holler back. Let me know if you are grooving out to any food that I need to know about. Also, look for me and paw paws in about a month."







~Mushroom news from my foraging brother-in-law Chris, in Pennsylvania, who clearly has some sort of supernatural brothership with wild mushrooms. He brought home a stash just about every day last week while I was visiting. He made an unbelievable wild mushroom gravy to go with our meatloaf one evening. I could have drank the stuff. Today's finds include: chanterelles, cinnabar reds, chicken mushrooms and indigo milky. Heaven on earth.

~A note from my friend Kevin:
Wish my great-uncle Ross MacDonald could see this two-gallon bag of Kentucky Wonder pole beans picked today, the first I've ever had any real luck growing here. He was always the master gardener back in Montezuma Iowa, and in the 50's-60's I fondly recall sneaking with my brothers down to the cool, dark cellar below the kitchen where the rows of mysterious jars, the boxes of apples and potatoes and the coal bin were another world to suburban kids, and welcoming, too. -K




Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Suzy's Massaged Sesame Kale Salad


A recent visit from my dear west coast friend brought with it more than freshly cut memories. In keeping with being one of the most pleasant house guests, Suzy prepared a fair share of food while staying with us, (I am still finding puddles of drool from her fresh shrimp spring rolls with a peanut sauce good enough to drink...yes, I liked the jar it was in before subjecting it to dish suds) inspiring new recipes and a killer new way to eat kale. When she suggested massaging the kale, I very well may have rolled my eyes. This is the girl who used to wear wings to concerts and paint stars on her Volkswagen's stick shift after all. Was this simply leftover fruity-glitz from our Phish tour days? As her sous chef, I can assure you it was not, though who knows what thread from the past inspired her to massage the kale the first place? I may not want to know.
Getting your hands into this recipe is what transforms the kale leaves into surprisingly supple forkfuls without the need for heat. This salad glistens with sesame oil and briny tamari, reminiscent of wakame salad, an absolutely perfect accompaniment to Thai or Asian inspired dishes.
Thank you Suzy Creamcheese, for well over a decade (okay, I feel old) of friendship, and for hand delivering a new way to enjoy kale from your coast to ours. We miss you!

Suzy's Massaged Sesame Kale Salad:
*1-2 bunches lacinato kale, rinsed, ribs removed
*high quality sesame oil
*high quality tamari
*sesame seeds
*1 tsp. fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
*1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
*1 garlic clove, pressed through a garlic press
*1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped

Finely chop kale leaves and transfer to a medium mixing bowl. Drizzle with sesame oil and massage into leaves (adding enough oil to "make kale shine"). Continue to massage kale until it becomes dark in color and soft. Dress with tamari to taste. Add remaining ingredients. Toss well and serve.

May be refrigerated prior to serving.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

This Ship Has Sailed


Returning from an early morning walk with my daughter and my mutt, we were informally greeted by a flock of turkeys milling about in our yard. My dog is a bit past his prime these days, and usually just gallops toward a turkey doing little more than ruffling some feathers. But today he ended up with a juvenile between his teeth.
I demanded he drop the bird, which he did (maybe he was as surprised as the rest of us) but the damage had already been bestowed. Sigh. I put the dog in the house and called the only person to call in situations such as these, my dear friend Dana- wildlife whisperer and general dealer of sound advice.
We went over the options: 1) Move the turkey into the shade and see if it bounces back. 2) Take it down the road to the animal hospital. 3) Finish it off and end its suffering.
Humm. With nap time closing in on us, and a busy day ahead, I somehow settled on taking it to the do-gooder's at the animal hospital. I fetched a crate and my leather gloves, all the while my daughter's attention was fully fixed. By the time we returned to the injured bird, its ship had sailed. I was relieved, not truly looking forward to taking it to a team of white coat professionals.
You see, the turkeys in Asheville proper are of a more residential nature than wild. With no true predators to pick off the weak (survival of the fittest does not apply here, even the not-so-fit have a good chance of passing on their DNA) populations have become a borderline nuisance. Yes, they are charming enough when they aren't pillaging your blueberry crop or eying your cherry tomatoes, but I can't say I was utterly heartbroken at the loss of one less pesky turkey.
This said, seeing any creature face its final moments has a way of stirring a little melancholy. I wish it had thrived, despite my pervious thoughts on the matter. I wish it had shaken off its early morning run-in with my hound and gotten back to gleaning bugs from grass and entertaining the young humans of the world (my daughter regards them as nothing short of magic).
But here we were with a freshly passed turkey sprawled in the yard, the sun warming the air and the flies honing in on the scene. I hadn't even had my morning tea. I grabbed a shovel and dug a hole deep enough to keep any wild curiosities at bay. We plucked a rose of sharon bloom and placed it with the turkey who's soul had clearly flown.

(My daughter grabbing the last fistfuls of burial dirt)

Turkey often finds its way to our dinner plate, so why the special vigil? I guess because death is sacred by way of life being so, whether an animal looses it's life to fortify another or by other means. The exchange of an animal's flesh for ours to prosper is also sacred, though this turkey was not intended for dinner. Its fate was interrupted by my dog's primal instincts. Maybe he was doing his part to strengthen the flock? Maybe he just got lucky. Either way, we made some room for the heavenly angels to take another soul to the promised land, to have its broken wings restored, and to make us thankful for yet another day here in this fragile world we call home.

Monday, July 23, 2012

French Guinea with Balsamic Peach Chutney


First you must find someone who raises French guineas, for this, look no further than East Fork Farm. These are not the standard guineas you are thinking of, usually found perched on the beams of just about every drafty barn. Less common French guineas are fantastic meat birds yielding dark meat with rich stores of flavorful yellow fat. Fruit is the prefect match for this bird, spooned warm over each bite. The summery sweetness of fresh peaches reduced with tangy balsamic is by far the way to go. A hint of basil finishes things off right.
Let us raise a glass to summer, to peaches, to special fowl, and to our adored agriculturists.

French Guinea with Balsamic Peach Chutney:
*1 fresh French guinea
*1 sweet onion, quartered
*3 whole garlic cloves
*sea salt and pepper
*1/2 cup high quality balsamic vinegar
*3 ripe peaches, peeled and chopped
*7-10 fresh basil leaves, bundled with cooking twine

Preheat oven to 400. Rinse guinea. Place in a parchment lined baking dish. Pat dry with paper towels. Place onion and garlic in chest cavity. Season bird with ample sea salt and pepper. Bake until cooked through and golden brown. Remove from heat and allow to rest while preparing chutney.

Place a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Add balsamic. Bring to very gentle simmer. Reduce heat until balsamic no longer bubbles but steams. Reduce by over half, swirling pan as liquid thickens. Add peaches. Increase heat to medium and simmer until peaches cook down and liquid thickens to a thick sauce. Add bundle of basil leaves to sauce and stir until completely wilted and fragrant. Remove with a slotted spoon.

Carve guinea and plate. Spoon chutney over meat. Garnish with fresh basil leaves. Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Breakfast: Two Ways



This one goes out to all the granola bar people and their pop tart friends. Time to graduate to real breakfast. It's not as hard as it seems, even if you are a repeat offender with the snooze button.
Here are two delightful (and speedy) options for beginning the day. The components of the first recipe can be prepared over the weekend to have on hand for quickfire mornings, the next requires little more than frying an egg while making toast. The first meal of the day breaks your nighttime fast, break it well.

Breakfast Bowl:
*1 cup cooked oats (steel cut or rolled)
*1/4 cup cooked tricolor quinoa
*1 tablespoon nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew or sunbutter)
*1 tablespoon full fat plain yogurt (I use Cabot 10% Greek yogurt)
*1/2 ripe banana, mashed

Prepare a batch of oats over the weekend by presoaking overnight in slightly acidic water (add a splash of white vinegar or lemon juice) to help maximize flavor and digestibility. Drain soaked oats and rinse well before cooking. Use 1 to 1 1/2 cups water per 1 cup soaked oats. Simmer covered until liquid is absorbed. Add a tablespoon of butter to cooking liquid. Store in fridge to use for the week.
Cook quinoa in advance also using 2 cups cooking liquid for each cup of quinoa.

Place precooked oats in a saucepan over med low heat with a splash of water until heated through. Stir in remaining ingredients. Enjoy hot.
*Add fresh or dried fruit and your favorite nuts and seeds and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Open Face Summer Fried Egg Sandwich:
*1 slice thick cut sourdough or favorite bread
*1 fresh egg
*4 cherry tomatoes, quartered
*2 tablespoons feta cheese
*3 basil leaves, chopped

Place bread in toaster while setting a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Coat with butter. Crack egg into pan, flip once and turn off heat. Remove egg before yolk sets. Butter toast, place on a plate and top with the fried egg. Sprinkle with tomatoes, feta and basil.

*If time allows, crisp some pastured bacon or lamb sausage to enjoy alongside.

*No time for heating up the pan? Slather some really good bread or toast with half an avocado, sprinkle with goat cheese or feta and off you go. Just please, do yourself a favor and leave the Cheerios where they are.