Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Sour Cream and Chèvre Filled Buttermilk Crepes with Spiced Fried Apples and Raisins

Many cuts of meat hit the grill over the holiday weekend, so this evening it was time to imbibe in some sweet, vegetarian glory. Ample eggs (thank you East Fork Farm) and chèvre were present, doused with local honey and coconut oil fried apples with raisins and crushed almonds. The wild strawberries were a last minute must...collected with the help of nimble, 3-year-old fingers. A fine Tuesday night!

Sour Cream and Chèvre Filled Buttermilk Crepes with Spiced Fried Apples and Raisins: (Serves 4-6)

Apple Mixture:
*3 Gala apples, cored and sliced
*3 Tablespoons unrefined coconut oil
*1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*pinch ground clove
*pinch ground nutmeg
*1/4 cup Thompson raisins
*1/4 cup almonds, chopped

Place a medium cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add coconut oil. Saute apples until slightly soft and lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Season with spices. Add raisins and almonds. Saute 1 more minute then remove pan from heat and set aside.  Make sour cream filling.

*1/4 cup high quality sour cream
*1/4 cup high quality whole milk plain yogurt
*4-5 heaping Tablespoons plain goat cheese
*2 Tablespoons raw honey
*1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk all ingredients together in a small mixing bowl. Set aside. Make crepe batter

Crepe Batter: (Adapted from Saveur)
*2 cups organic flour
*2 Tablespoons raw cane sugar or honey
*1/2 teaspoon aluminum free baking powder
*2 cups quality buttermilk
*1 cup whole plain yogurt
*2 Tablespoons butter, melted
*6 fresh eggs

Whisk flour, cane sugar and baking powder together in a medium mixing bowl (if using honey add to wet ingredients). Then whisk the buttermilk, yogurt, butter and eggs together in a separate bowl. Mix wet ingredients into flour mixture until smooth.
Heat a 12 inch skillet over medium heat. Coat with coconut oil. Ladle 1/3 cup batter into hot skillet, swirling to coat pan. Cook until crepe bubbles in the center and is lightly golden, then flip with confidence, and cook and additional minute. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining batter coating pan with coconut oil between each crepe.

Spoon about 3 Tablespoons of the sour cream filling down the center of each crepe and sprinkle with apple and raisin mixture.
Fold crepe over thrice. Repeat.
Top filled crepes with remaining sour cream filling and apple mixture.
Sprinkle with wild strawberries.
Serve warm.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Pastured Lard

Fortunate to come across snow-white, gorgeously rendered, pastured lard, everything it touches seems to radiate a golden glow-----not just this Gala apple galette, (served warm with unsweetened soft-peaked whipped cream and crushed toasted almonds), but all those seated around the table!

For an informative read on why we should all be eating pastured lard, visit Footsteps Farm Newsletter. 

To good health!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Sauteed Pea Shoots With Local Soppressata and Feta

We planted Austrian winter peas as a spring cover crop, dipping into them often to put on the table. This is the great thing about cover crops, they are generally multi-purpose, and these in particular, ever-so-tasty. Sliced soppressata from Hickory Nut Gap Farm and crumbled feta make this a dish favored by the clean plate club. A bright vinegrette made with preserved lemons really "ties the room together." If you have pea shoots to spare, please try this.

Sauteed Pea Shoots with Local Soppressata and Feta:
*Approximately 4-5 cups fresh pea shoots, loosely packed, rinsed
*1 Tablespoon butter
*1/4 cup chopped soppressata
*1/4 cup crumbled high quality feta cheese

In a large cast iron skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add pea shoots and stir with a wooden spoon until wilted but still bright green, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and transfer to a serving dish. Top with soppressata and feta. Drizzle with vinaigrette (see recipe below), gently toss and serve immediately.

Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette:
*1 Tablespoon preserved lemon peel, minced
*1/4 cup white wine vinegar
*1/4 cup high quality extra virgin olive oil
*2 garlic gloves, crushed and minced
*sea salt
*fresh ground black pepper
*1 teaspoon raw honey

Place all ingredients in a jar and secure with a lid. Shake vigorously until well mixed. Drizzle 1-2 Tablespoons of vinaigrette over pea shoots, adjusting amount by taste.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Patagonian Potato Galette

A steward of keeping tradition, Francis Mallmann coaxes complexity from few ingredients by honoring his Patagonian roots. His appreciation for straightforward preparation (cooking with various forms of fire) should not be confused as simplistic. Many years globally making a name for himself with his formal French training (his restaurants have been placed among the top ten in the world to dine) eventually led him to return to the cooking styles native to his home. Mallmann is not a stranger to roasting a whole, filleted cow (una vaca entera) over smouldering embers, or making a dessert out of little more than charred seasonal fruit and good olive oil.
Basically, say what you will, Mallmann is a bad-ass. Not because he can cook, lots of people can claim that title, but because he took his stuffy French training and tossed it in the fires he now cooks with. Who doesn't love a non-conformist?
The pure flavors and honesty of his heritage brought Francis to where he is. If you study what he does (check out his cookbook: Seven Fires-Grilling the Argentinean Way) you will see he is a poet summoning embers in place of a pen; his potato galette a fine example. Yes, you could add all sorts of bells and whistles to this dish, but you would be missing its glory. The butter, crisp-yet tender potato, and coarse sea salt transcend a thousand languages.
What Mallmann tells us with his recipes is perhaps what our ancestors already knew: it's extremely important to treat your ingredients with reverence, to pay attention during the cooking process, and to know when to back off.
These days, emulsions and foams seem to, at times, replace the beauty of well executed, easily identified ingredients. I've never been totally comfortable with the whole gastro-science-lab trend. Give it to me the way the Good Lord wanted me to have it: still sweating, smouldering, screaming to be eaten--with my hands....with a mortar-crushed herbaceous sauce, and eaten in good company, with good drink and with plenty for all. This is my idea of bounty. Of community. Of building bridges. You have a cow.....? Lets prepare the whole damn thing and eat it together, with anyone downwind of the fragrant coals invited to join.

For recipe details and many more, reference Francis Mallmann's Seven Fires--Grilling the Argentinean Way.
You can also watch him create this dish during his guest appearance on Martha Stewart.
OR refer to his original recipe via Martha Stewart (below). I used unclarified butter, and added chopped dill along with with the course sea salt once complete (see photos following recipe).

Francis Mallmann's Patagonian Potato Galette:



  1. STEP 1

    Using a mandoline, slice potatoes into 1/8-inch thick slices. Keep potato slices stacked on top of one another to prevent discoloring while slicing.
  2. STEP 2

    In a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, heat 2 tablespoons clarified butter over low heat. Working quickly, arrange potato slices in skillet in concentric circles starting with larger slices around the perimeter and working towards the center, overlapping by about 1/2-inch and angling them up the sides of the pan. Cover gap in the center with a small potato slice. Pour 2 tablespoons clarified butter around edges and over potatoes, making sure to cover the center.
  3. STEP 3

    Increase heat to medium-high and place another heavy skillet over potatoes to weigh them down. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes. If one side of the galette begins to brown too quickly, rotate pan or adjust heat as necessary.
  4. STEP 4

    Remove the weight, and, using two spatulas, turn galette. Invert galette onto a plate and season with salt; serve immediately. Repeat process with remaining potatoes and butter. If galettes are prepared in advance, transfer to a baking sheet and warm in a 350-degree oven 1 to 2 minutes before serving.

 Sliced potatoes arranged in pan.

Completed dish.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Look At Latin and Hispanic Influence In WNC With Recipes for Local Strawberry Agua Fresca and Spinach Empanadas

This article (and recipes) appeared last week in the Asheville Citizen-Times as a tribute to the Latin and Hispanic individuals who have made Asheville their home, shaping Western North Carolina's cuisine with bold culinary traditions. With gratitude...

During his quest for gold, Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto cataloged his journey through the Appalachian Mountains as early as 1540. His visit marks one of the earliest Hispanic interactions with North Carolina natives.

It was not until the early 1990s, as the economy spiked, that North Carolina became home to an influx of Latinos; another boom occurred from 2000-06. The state remains home to a large population of this diverse group with roots ranging from Argentina to Spain, influencing North Carolina’s cuisine with its rich cultural network.

Latin food is often misinterpreted as Mexican cuisine, which is associated with complex spices and corn-based dishes. Corn cultivation is believed to have originated in Mexico thousands of years ago, but it spread throughout the Americas long before Europeans arrived and serves now as a Southern cooking staple. Yet the most commonly used starches of Latin and Hispanic cuisine differ greatly from one country to the next. (So do each region’s use of spices.)

Besides corn, the starches Cassava root, rice, beans, plantain, quinoa, potatoes and wheat are central to Latin cuisine based on agricultural conditions and historical influences of each region.
Cecilia Marchesini of Cecilia’s Kitchen has been serving Asheville residents her native Argentine dishes since 1998, when she made Western North Carolina her home. Her dishes reflect the Italian and Spanish influence of her home in Córdoba, Argentina.
In Córdoba, foods are seasoned with little more than salt and pepper, which are Argentina’s primary spices. “The ingredients tell you the flavors,” Marchesini said. “If you are eating meat, you taste the meat. If you are eating spinach, you taste the spinach.”
Preparation, also, is straightforward. “I slow cook much of what I prepare,” Marchesini said. “Argentinian dishes do not usually include beans, which so many people associate with Latin food. I have an Argentinian friend who has never had a bean in her life.”
Marchesini grew up in a remote town, with much of what her family prepared coming from her grandfather’s garden or from nearby farms.
“An avocado was an exceptional ingredient,” she said, unlike in Mexico where they grow in abundance. Sunday lunch in her household was a gathering of extended family, including uncles, aunts, cousins and grandparents. This meal would last 3-4 hours and include up to five courses.
As a passionate cook, her father’s specialty was homemade pasta, influenced by her grandmother’s Italian lineage.
“Eating in our household was an act of pleasure and ceremony, a very important part of life. We made use of all the ingredients we had,” she said. “If my family came upon capers or olives or prosciutto, these ingredients were treated specially.”
Marchesini’s favorite dishes include Argentinian style barbecue, or grilled meats (also seasoned with salt and pepper) and her personal specialty, beef empanadas. Argentina is the third largest beef exporter worldwide; the lush grass from substantial rainfall and the geography of the landscape is ideal for raising cattle.
Favorite dishes
Marchesini’s love for empanadas is so strong, she began making them after she relocated to Asheville, and they soon became the foundation of her business. She takes pains to use local, grass-fed beef and other local ingredients as it best reflects the pure flavors from her home.
Empanadas are found throughout most Latin and Hispanic cooking, uniting many regions. Bolivian empanadas, or salteñas, are often filled with beef, pork or chicken along with potato, peas, hard-boiled egg or raisins. Chile uses various seafood like prawns and mussels, whereas Columbian empanadas are crafted with a cornmeal-based pastry and served with a cilantro sauce.
In Spain, the dish is usually prepared with tuna, sardines or chorizo and includes tomato puree, onions and garlic before being fried in olive oil. The use of locally available ingredients sets each preparation apart from one another, displaying a distinguishing regional thumbprint.
Like empanadas, different versions of Latin beverages have become popular in the United States. Horchata, a creamy, rice-based drink, originated in Egypt before it was brought to Mexico by Spaniards. Its preparation varies by region and can include almonds, milk or lime and other ingredients depending on availability.
Aguas frescas (“fresh waters”) have a following stateside as well. This often fruit-based drink can include flowers, such as hibiscus, seeds or cereal grains. Agua fresca is consumed regularly in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. The combination of sweetened fruit blended with water and served over ice is a refreshing remedy to summer heat.
Asheville’s food scene has become a mosaic of flavors from across the globe, thanks to those who have brought the tastes of their region to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Whether it’s a simply spiced empanada served from Cecilia’s food truck, or octopus doused in Spanish olive oil and dusted with smoky paprika from Cúrate, or a home-cooked meal simmered in centuries of Latin tradition prepared in home kitchens across town, the taste of Appalachia has been shaped by gracious contribution.
To share one’s culture through food is a language universally understood.
Hemos encontrado oro. We have struck gold!
4 cups fresh strawberries, rinsed, tops removed and sliced
8 cups water
1/2 cup wildflower honey
1 bunch mint or 1 lime cut into wedges for garnish
Place the strawberries in a mixing bowl and toss with the honey to coat. Transfer to a blender and blend on high speed with 1 cup water until smooth. Add remaining water and blend again. Divide into cups filled with ice. Garnish with a mint sprig or slice of lime.
Note: If you desire a pulp/seed free drink, simply strain contents after first round of blending before adding remaining water.

Makes about 12 small empanadas.
1 cup organic AP flour
1/4 cup organic whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoons sea salt
8 tablespoons cold, high quality unsalted butter, cubed
3-4 tablespoons ice water
Blend dry ingredients in a food processor. Add butter. Pulse. With blade running, slowly add the water, one Tbsp at a time, until dough forms. Turn out onto a floured work surface. Shape into a disk, wrap in parchment and place in freezer for approximately 15-20 minutes while preparing filling.
1 large bunch fresh spinach
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
8 ounces mozzarella, shredded
2 eggs
Splash of water
Olive oil for sauteing
Sea salt
Black pepper
Rinse spinach in cold water and remove stems. Chiffonade leaves, and set aside. In a large cast-iron skillet, saute garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add spinach to pan once garlic is slightly browned. Saute just until wilted. Season with sea salt and pepper. Remove from heat and transfer to a strainer to remove excess water.
Mix cheeses together with 1 of the eggs in a medium mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in spinach mixture once cooled.
Line a baking sheet with parchment. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Roll dough out on a floured work surface, to about 1/4-inch thickness. Using a large round biscuit cutter, or the rim of a water glass, cut out as many circles as the dough allows. Gently roll out each circle to create a large enough surface for stuffing (slightly larger than the palm of your hand).
Working in batches, place 2-3 tablespoons of filling to one side of each dough circle. Fold dough over filling to create a pocket. Crimp the rim of the empanada with the back of a fork to seal sides together, or crimp edges by hand. Transfer to baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Slash each empanada with a sharp knife to create small steam slits.
Separate yolk from second egg. Whisk the yolk in a small bowl with a splash of water. Coat the empanadas with the egg wash using pastry brush.
Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until pastry is golden. Allow to cool slightly before serving.