Monday, December 7, 2015

Apple Butter Pinwheels with Pastured Lard Pastry

My grandmother remembers when margarine (Oleo) came with yellow color beads she mixed into the fat before using. Because margarine was first made primarily from beef fat and skimmed milk its color was white, more like lard. But after World War II when there was a shortage of animal fats, margarine became mostly vegetable oil based. It still looked bland and as a substitute for butter, totally the wrong hue. So the industry began dying the hydrogenated oils yellow to mask it's unappetizing natural color and to seem more like the real thing.
Since, we have learned how very dangerous margarine and other hydrogenated oils are to the human body. Increased heart disease being the biggest one. So we've gone back to butter, except not grandma (the campaign for margarine was so successful even today's science doesn't convince this generation otherwise), but we can take it a little further than butter even.....or back that is.
Lard is pretty spectacular for many reasons. Our bodies are able to process it seamlessly, (unlike most vegetable and seed oils) and if you get it from pastured hogs, you can glean healthy amounts of vitamin D, essential fatty acids, good cholesterol and saturated fat. These things are essential for good physical and mental health. You can read a whole lot more on why we should be using pastured lard if you snoop around. But I want to get on to the recipe.
My folks recently brought me a jar of kettle cooked apple butter made during a annual church function this fall, and it is just what apple butter should be: dark, thick and nicely spiced. Apple butter is excellent in pastry because unlike fruit preserves, it is not too sweet.
I was able to use some local leaf lard for a nice flaky pastry to go with it. This lard is special since I know the folks who carefully raised and rendered it. Leaf lard comes from the soft fat surrounding the loin and kidney areas of the pig which makes for the highest quality lard. Most store-bought lard is from all areas of the pig and often hydrogenated to make it shelf stable.
Conventional lard is actually not comparable to pastured lard and not recommended for eating since these pigs are raised indoors on a poor diet, (often bakery waste and conventional grain). Fat from pastured animals is a different thing all around, full of all the good stuff mentioned above.
All together, this is such a satisfying treat. Some crushed almonds add a good little bit of crunch. A fine holiday gift or great with your morning cup of coffee.

Thanks to those who contributed the special components of this recipe.

Apple Butter Pinwheels with Pastured Lard Pastry:
*2 1/2 cups high quality flour
*pinch sea salt
*1/3 cup cane sugar
*8 Tablespoons cold pastured lard
*1 stick unsalted butter
*3-4 Tablespoons ice water
*1 1/2 cups apple butter
*1/2 cup crushed toasted almonds

Pulse flour, salt and sugar in a food processor fitted with a blade. Add lard and butter. Pulse until well combined. With blade running, add just enough ice cold water until dough begins to from, but make sure not to add too much. Turn out onto a floured work surface and flatten dough into a disk. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. 
Return dough to work surface and roll out into a rectangle to about 1/4 inch thickness. Spread apple butter over entire surface of dough leaving a 1/2 inch border free on one lengthwise side.
Sprinkle apple butter evenly with crushed almonds. Using both ends, roll entire rectangle lengthwise to resemble a log. Carefully transfer to a large piece of wax paper and place in freezer for at least 30 minutes, up to one hour. 
Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. 
Remove pastry from freezer. Using a serrated knife, slice pastry roll into 1/2 inch rounds and transfer to baking sheet leaving 1 inch spaces between each pinwheel. 
Bake for about 20 minutes on center rack, until bottoms of pinwheels are golden. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and cool before enjoying. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Apple Roses

This may be the first recipe my father has shared not containing elk or venison. Not to say he doesn't enjoy cooking with (or eating) a variety of ingredients, but he is above all, a practical man. A man who enjoys dining on what he procured from nature more than anything.
My most vivid memories of dad are those of him up at the pulpit preaching the Good Word, hiking a good trail or hunting wild game. Winter backpacking with an old-school external frame is right up there as well. He'd always pack a little surprise treat slyly produced while thawing appendages around a crackly fire.
Dad taught me to hike hard, always wear your wool, and set up your tent while the water boils on the camp stove. Then it was time for a treat; something to celebrate all the toil. Maybe a Snickers or some Mrs. Butterworth's to pour over your morning pancakes.
While on the trail, he taught me to appreciate chunky peanut butter on a slab of cheddar. I still like it. I still have a fondness for Mrs. Butterworth's when I pass her friendly glass silhouette in the baking aisle.
Imagine my surprise when I was sent an email containing a collection of naturally lit photos of "Apple Roses" from dad. Where was the usual side of 8 points....or at least some buckshot? 
Turns out he did not make them. These carefully assembled apple flowers were from a friend and fellow minister, J.
Looking at the recipe J sent to dad, along with an array of photographs of the apple florets from various angles on a large white platter, I recognized something....a kindred spirit. I had to make them.

Many thanks to J for taking pride in such a worthwhile pastime: the art of baking. Your apple roses are not only beautiful, but deeply nourishing in their visual display and in every other sense. The fruit preserves smothered between the pastry dough and sliced apples really bring it all home. 

Used here are locally grown Honeycrisp apples with my sister, Becky's homemade Asian pear butter. We opted to make our own pastry dough in lieu of frozen puff pastry which worked out well. 

Quite possibly the perfect surprise to pull from your external-frame and enjoy by the fire.

Apple Roses:
*5 large apples
*Juice from 1/2 lemon
*5 Tablespoons fruit preserves of choice
*1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*1 Tablespoon granulated sugar

Basic pastry crust:
*1 1/4 cups quality flour
*1/4 cup sugar
*1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*1/2 tsp sea salt
*8 Tbsp cold unsalted butter
*3-4 Tbsp ice water

To slice the apples, place stem side up on cutting board. Working toward the center of the apple, cut thin slices top to bottom until you reach the core. Repeat with the opposite side leaving the core and stem in tact. Place slices in a medium saucepan until all apples are sliced. Cover apple slices with cool water and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Reduce to a very gentle simmer for 2 minutes or until slices are just flexible enough to roll without breaking.

Strain and rinse with cold water. Transfer apples to a clean dish towel to dry. Meanwhile make the pastry.

Place flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a food processor fitted with a blade. Blend. Add the cold butter and blend to a course meal. With blade running, slowly add the ice water one tablespoon at a time until dough forms. Transfer dough onto a floured work surface. Form into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap or parchment and place in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Remove from freezer and unwrap. Return to floured work surface. Roll dough into aprox. a 10x13'' rectangle. Cut longwise into five 2'' wide strips. 

Grease 5 of the cups in a muffin tin. Preheat oven to 375.

Working with one strip of pastry at at a time, smear 1 Tablespoon fruit preserves lengthwise down the center of the pastry strip. Place an apple slice on the beginning of the strip allowing half of the slice to exceed the top of the strip and leaving half of the pastry exposed at the bottom. Overlap another slice next to it lengthwise down the remainder of the strip. Fold the bottom portion of pastry up over the bottom of the apple slices. Roll the whole strip onto itself as if rolling a yoga mat to create the apple rose. Gently transfer to muffin tin. Repeat with remaining pastry and apple slices. 

Bake for 45-50 minutes until pastry is golden. If apples begin too fast, loosely cover with parchment until done. 

Remove from oven and allow to cool 10 minutes before carefully loosening each apple rose from muffin tin. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Mix together the teaspoon ground cinnamon with the Tablespoon sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle over top of apple roses. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Last fall, my friend Dana gave me a cheese wheel pumpkin she had grown. After roasting and eating it, the seeds landed in the compost. Then this spring, I decided to grow the winter squash in the compost pile. Long story short--as it goes in the summer heat, genetics get curious, frisky, and determined. The butternuts cross pollinated with the volunteer cheese wheels and a hybrid was born. Unsure of the outcome until we hardened them off and sampled, the verdict is in: we are proud parents.

I call this recipe pumpkin soup, but really it's hybrid cheese-wheel-pumpkin-butternut-squash-love-child soup. 
As many of us have discovered, pollination and free-will should sometimes be encouraged.

Roasted Pumpkin Soup:
*1 large heirloom pumpkin or sweet hard squash of choice
*1 large yellow onion, peeled and quartered
*olive oil
*sea salt
*black pepper
*4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
*2 1/2 cups chicken broth

Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment. 

Slice pumpkin lengthwise in half. Scoop out flesh and seeds (reserve seeds for roasting). Slice each half lengthwise again. Place pumpkin quarters flesh side up on baking sheet with onion. Drizzle everything with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. 
Roast until pumpkin flesh is tender in thickest portion when pierced with a fork, about 45 minutes. remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. 
Scoop flesh from rind and transfer to a blender or food processor. You should have about 6 cups roasted pumpkin. Add roasted onion and butter to food processor with pumpkin and blend until smooth. 
Place puree in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add chicken broth and whisk until smooth. Season to taste. 
Portion into bowls and garnish with plain yogurt and chives. 

Brown-Butter Pumpkin Cake Bars

~This article (below) was written exclusively for the Asheville Citizen Times back in September. If you're in the mood for a treat, don't wait to make these bars. You can use roasted pumpkin or any other variety of sweet hard squash. Thanks to my friend Cynthia for sharing the genius idea! ~

The ultimate symbol of autumn, winter squash welcomes the season, appearing in an assortment of shapes, colors and sizes.
Different from the soft-skinned summer squash varieties, winter squash are left on the vine and in the field late into the growing season until exterior skins thicken and interior seeds mature. Varieties such as pumpkins and acorn squash are a traditional Appalachian food, celebrated for nutrition and cold-weather storage.
The beauty of winter squash is celebrated in seasonal centerpieces, or as decorative welcome pieces when gathered on a front stoop. Pumpkins, in particular, are the symbol of fall when hollowed and carved into jack-o-lanterns.
Many local farms, such as Hickory Nut Gap Farm in Fairview, include hay rides, cider pressing and pumpkin patch picking, where visitors can enjoy fall fun and take home a hand-picked pumpkin just in time for Halloween.
Winter squash dishes like butternut squash soup and roasted delicata also reign in the season, especially since their versatile flavors reach well beyond savory preparations. The often sweet, nutty flesh of winter squash is perfect for a special seasonal dessert, pumpkin pie marking just the beginning.
Cynthia Wong, head pastry chef of downtown’s Rhubarb, relies on seasonal produce for her signature creations. “I love making a brown-butter pumpkin cake in half-sheet pans, which I then layer with butter pecan ice cream to make little cakey ice cream bars,” she says.
When it comes to savory favorites, Wong makes butternut squash gnocchi with sage and brown butter, which she says pairs perfectly with pork chops. Not hungry yet? Another of her household favorites: acorn squash layered with braised kale, baked with a bit of béchamel and crumbs on top.
The best way to find heirloom varieties? Visit area tailgate markets to find the most interesting selection including Buttercup, Hubbard, Kabocha, Pie Pumpkins, Candy Roaster, Butternut, Sweet Dumpling, Carnival, Delicata and many more.
Not only is this season’s selection worth sampling simply for flavor, winter squash offers a healthy dose of dietary fiber, complex carbohydrates, vitamins A, C and omega 3s. Simply oven-roasting almost any variety is a successful and easy way to try.
When selecting a hard squash to take home, Wong suggests picking smaller ones, without any soft spots or cracks and with nice, hard stems. From there, the possibilities are endless.
Adapted from Fine Cooking’s Jeanne Kelley
1 small pie pumpkin cut in half, seeds removed
1 small Kabocha squash, cut in half seeds removed
3/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup buttermilk
2 quarts all natural butter pecan ice cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place squash halves cut side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake until tender when pieced with a fork, about 35 minutes. Allow to cool before scooping flesh away from skins. Place flesh in a food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside. You will need 1 1/2 cups of the puree.
Butter and flour two half sheet pans. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat swirling butter often until it begins to lightly brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt and ground cloves in a medium mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the pumpkin puree, sugars, eggs and buttermilk thoroughly. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, slowly add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture until just combined. Gently whisk in the cooled brown butter until fully incorporated.
Divide batter evenly among prepared sheet pans and bake on center rack until batter puffs slightly in the center and is lightly golden, about 10-15 minutes. Pierce center of cakes with a toothpick, if it comes out clean remove from oven. Do not over bake. Cool completely.
Loosen cakes from exterior pan edges with a fork. Turn cakes gently out onto a jelly roll pan or large baking sheet lined with wax paper. Refrigerate until cold.
Meanwhile, scoop ice cream out into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle. Beat ice cream on low speed until it softens slightly and becomes spreadable.
Working quickly, spread ice cream evenly over one cake layer and smooth with a rubber spatula. Place the other cake layer over the top, gently press and place in freezer overnight.

Transfer frozen cake to a large cutting board. Cut lengthwise into long 1 inch sections. Then cut each section into 3 inch bars. Return to the freezer until ready to serve. Bars can be stored frozen in an airtight container for up to a week.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Wild Chestnut Stuffing

After discovering a few local chestnut trees in their prime, all I had to do was keep an eye out and wait until the prickly pods started splitting open and falling to the ground. From here, foraging was light work. The nuts are beautiful. My grandfather, (lifelong student of wild edibles) often arrived to family gatherings with sweet chestnuts, usually every Thanksgiving. The nut meat is sweet and bread like, which pairs well with the dark meat of wild game.

You can find sweet chestnuts in some grocery stores this time of year, but the act of picking them up from under the tree they fell from does add a fair amount of prairie-woman pride to eating them.
We ate the first round roasted, straight-up. Then after gathering more, it was time to come up with a recipe.

I get a little rowdy when it comes to wild food. Maybe it's because it pairs two great things: eating and wood-walking. Or maybe it's the element of surprise thrift? Or the idea of unadulterated food meeting the modern, so very adulterated scape? It could be celebrating the sanctity of the season? might be as simple as a dose of grandpa's genes.

Wild Chestnut Stuffing:
*1 loaf rustic bread or sliced multi grain
*3/4 stick butter
*4 celery stalks, chopped fine
*1 large onion, diced
*2 1/2- 3 cups chicken or beef broth
*2 cups boiled sweet chestnuts, skins removed, quartered
*2/3 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
*1 cup dried fruit of choice (jumbo raisins, cranberries or currants)
*sea salt
*black pepper

Preheat oven to 350.
Cube bread into 1/2'' pieces and spread evenly on a large baking sheet.
Bake until bread begins to golden slightly, stirring with a wooden spoon periodically, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and stir to release additional moisture. Set aside.

Score whole chestnuts with an X to release stem while they cook. Place a medium pot filled with water over high heat. Bring to a boil. Add chestnuts and simmer for about 15-20minutes. Strain and allow to cool before removing shell and skin. Quarter nut meat and set aside. You will need about 2 cups.

In a large skillet melt the butter over medium heat. Add celery, and onion. Saute until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Season with sea salt and pepper. Add broth to pan. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat.

Transfer cubed bread to a large mixing bowl. Pour hot broth and onion mixture over bread. Add chestnuts, dried fruit and chopped parsley. Stir well. Season to taste.

Place stuffing in a greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Cover loosely with parchment paper and bake on center rack for about 35 minutes. Remove parchment and bake an additional 10-15 minutes until top becomes golden.

Serve hot.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

A Is For Autumn Apple Crisp

Since the ABC song is firmly understood by now (did you ever realize after singing them endless times, Ba Ba Black Sheep and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star all share the same melody with the ABC's?), we have moved on to all things phonics. Apple..."ah, ah, ah, what does apple start with?"

Yes, these are the ice breakers to important conversations of late. Conversations that lead us, inevitably, to the kitchen. Because for us, this is where all things seem to come together, a continuous lesson on feeding ourselves, participating in doing so, and hopefully, feeding someone else along the way.

In the wake of pre-reading, our family has experienced something all families do: grief. This is a seemingly helpless state, one which can easily immobilize. Yet, grief can be a time of opportunity. Because despite all the moments in life, easy and very hard, we all must eat.
This is when food can become its own language, one that can speak love and comfort without any words, when there is often little else we may be able to offer.
This also goes for times of celebration: let us bring food, break bread together, and celebrate. What is better than a belly full of food? How about some honey on your tongue? What speaks more than this?

While grief has its own nature, one of autumnal color schemes, food is a thread belonging to an endless spool. It is an opportunity to learn, to give, to celebrate and, to hopefully heal.

Autumn Apple Crisp: 
*4 lbs gala, honey crisp, or assorted apples, peeled, cored, quartered and sliced thin
*3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
*5 Tablespoons raw sugar or honey
*1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
*4 Tablespoons organic all purpose flour
*1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

*2 sticks unsalted butter, melted (for a vegan version, sub coconut oil)
*1/2 cup honey
*4 cups rolled oats
*1 cup flour
*1 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 375.

Grease a 4 qt or 10x15 baking dish with butter.

Toss apples with lemon juice, sugar, salt, flour, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Mix well. Transfer to baking dish and spread out evenly.

Meanwhile, whisk the melted butter with the honey in a medium mixing bowl. Add the honey, oats flour and almonds. Spread evenly over the apple mixture.

Bake on center rack for about 45 minutes or until topping becomes dark golden, and apples are very aromatic.

Allow to cool slightly before serving. Garnish with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Vegan Beet Root Soup

While in the process of getting the fall garden in, it was time to deal with an onslaught of beets. I had been waiting to harvest the rest of them until the real estate they were taking up in the garden became too desirable otherwise.
A heap of beets poses an issue different than that of green beans or tomatoes or okra. Beets don't freeze well, they pickle nice but I have a bumper of pickles in the fridge. So soup was really the only option, especially since a large batch can be portioned and frozen so easily. And with an equally large pile of carrots from the garden, I was halfway to a good batch of... something?
This recipe is indeed vegan but if you are not exclusively so, a scoop of whole milk yogurt or splash of raw milk or cream is a nice garnish. Alternatively, add some ginger to the recipe and garnish with coconut milk.
One more item of the weather takes a slightly cooler turn here in the mountains, this recipe marks the first of many warming dishes as we look toward the approaching equinox. The leather is snow sealed and fire wood is in the process of being stacked.  Maybe, just maybe, after a season of sweet corn and mosquitoes, we are finally ready to welcome this special, golden lit, leaf raining, oh so visceral time of the year.

Vegan Beet Root Soup: (Makes a large batch)

*1/4 cup olive oil
*1 medium yellow onion, chopped
*3 celery stalks and leaves, chopped
*4 fresh carrots, chopped
*3-4 garlic cloves, minced
*5 red beet roots, peeled and quartered
*4 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
*1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, stems removed, chopped
*sea salt
*black pepper

Place a large soup pot over medium heat. Add olive oil. Once hot, add onion, celery, carrots. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Add garlic. Saute until onions are translucent and garlic has browned, about 5-7minutes.
Add beets and potatoes. Allow to saute 2 more minutes before adding just enough water to nearly cover contents of pot. Add parsley and another generous pinch of sea salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a gentle simmer.
Cover and simmer until potatoes and beets are very tender, about an hour and a half. Remove from heat and blend contents with an immersion blender or blend in batches in a food processor until smooth. Return to pot and heat through before portioning in bowls and garnishing with fresh parsley and/or a swirl of fresh yogurt, cream or coconut milk.
Serve hot.

Monday, August 24, 2015


for the generous mushroom hunters 
and beach dwellers 
live among the shrimp boats.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Summer Squash Cakes

This recipe is a bit of a repeat but this go-round featured with yellow summer squash in place of zucchini since the yellow squash in the garden is burying us alive.  Most of it will end up shredded and frozen to use later, but if you can stomach one more serving without creating an aversion, these squash cakes are an effortless summer meal.

Summer Squash Cakes:
*3 medium summer squash, whole, ends removed
*1 cup crumbled feta
*sea salt
*black pepper
*1 small sweet onion, skin removed
*2-3 fresh eggs
*high quality AP flour
*olive oil

Shred squash into a large mixing bowl. Lightly sprinkle with salt and stir. Allow to sit for 10 minutes then transfer to a mesh sieve. Gently press shredded squash into sieve to strain excess water. Return to mixing bowl. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Shred about 1/4 cup of the onion into mixture. Stir. Mix eggs into mixture with a fork, followed by the feta. Then add enough flour to create a batter, slightly thicker than pancake batter.Line a cooling rack with paper towels.Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Coat with olive oil. Spoon mixture into hot skillet to create small cakes (about 3 tablespoons of batter for each cake). Loosely shape and flatten slightly with a fork. Brown each cake until golden, flipping halfway through.Transfer to cooling rack and repeat with remaining batter, oiling skillet as needed between batches.

Serve warm with sour cream or crème fraîche and chopped chives. 

From The Garden

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Lazy Wife Greasy Bean

I ran into my friend Paul among the seed display at our local hardware store early this spring, and naturally we started talking about plans for our gardens. He is a man with a disposition worthy of notice, and made big beards cool way before lumbersexual was a common term.
As we talked, Paul spoke rather passionately about bringing back the old-timey vegetables common to Appalachian gardens before kale began riding its seemingly breakless wave.
"You know like greasy beans and turnip greens." he waxed. Had it been church, Paul standing before his congregation of one at that moment, I would have stood up and waved my hands toward heaven. He was right, him and his beard. It was time to move on from the kale and beet rut and get into it.
I have succumb to such a rut in my own garden, planting provider and burgundy bush beans each and every year. To be completely honest, the thought of trellising seems like too much extra work in the manic rush of spring, so I go for the bush variety and that's that. But....mentioning this to Paul, he shrugged it off like a lame excuse.
Turns out it was. It was lame for so many reasons. Not only did my trellis look good and add some nice variety and height to the average rows of veggies, Lazy Wife Greasy Beans have proven to be OUT OF THIS WORLD tasty. buttery, texture you can't imagine until you bite down on it, flavor without a ham hock (though I would never refuse a ham hock....). I haven't had an experience at the dinner table so satisfying for a long while.

This is an example of heirlooms becoming nearly completely crowded out by commercial varieties. Higher yields, sturdy shelf life and blah blah blah have plagued the world of seed diversity since the industrial agricultural "revolution".
Literally a handful of guys own patents on the anemic variety of seed genetics these days, and these very guys most likely do not have gardens. They own petri dishes and labs, but not soil. That is, not working soil with like, worms in it.
This is a sad reality for more than just the security of our food. This reality also tastes bad, metaphorically and quite literally.

Many commercial bean varieties are grown in Florida, but Lazy Wife Greasy Beans grow particularly well here in WNC, and not in many other regions. These were the bean found in almost every garden in this region until the home-garden-generation couldn't convince their offspring to keep planting and putting by.

The dynamite seeds (those with regional stability, and incredible flavor) became virtually lost with the shift of buying vegetables from the grocery store, and I personally mark this as the beginning of vegetables getting a bad rap (which may closely coincide with our nation's devastating health crisis.) Who wants to eat vegetables harvested by a machine 10 days ago from a region really far away? Nobody. Even butter doesn't guarantee a satisfactory experience. This is why children don't eat their vegetables: they came from the store, and from bogus seeds with not enough genetic history to make us want to eat them.
But my child has eaten portion after portion of these greasy beans since putting them on the table, followed closely by her parents. They are special beyond measure, simply simmered in salted water with a chopped onion from the garden and a slab of butter. Nothing else.  I will be growing greasy beans in earnest from here on, putting by and passing down to whom ever remembers the experience fondly enough to plant a row.

To my wise friend Paul.......thank you! To the hot shots with the patents on tasteless seeds....SUCKERS!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Fried Green Tomatoes with Sweet Basil Aioli

My born-and-raised southern husband would pick all the unripe tomatoes and fry them to layer with bacon and mayonnaise between soft white bread if it weren't for his wife smacking him away from temptation. It's only the beginning of patient.
But he confessed this evening, scraping the remainder of the sauce onto his last forkful, he would eat all tomatoes green and fried if he had his way.
Well, things like this warm my heart. And even though I find it highly worthwhile to wait until a tomato is deeply bushed and full of sinfully sunkissed juice, there is something special about jumping the gun.

Fried Green Tomatoes with Sweet Basil Aioli:

Sweet Basil Aioli:
*4 florets fresh basil leaves
*1 garlic clove
*juice from 1 lemon
*1 egg
*olive oil 
*sea salt

Place basil and garlic in a food processor fitted with a blade. Pulse. Add lemon juice and egg. With bade running add enough olive oil to create a thick sauce (about 2/3 cup). Season with sea salt with blade running. Allow to whip until consistency is airy but spoonable, about 1-2 minutes. Scrape into a glass jar fitted with a lid and store in the fridge until tomatoes are ready. 

For the Tomatoes:
*3 green tomatoes, cored and sliced 1/2'' thick
*1 1/2 cups buttermilk
*2 eggs, beaten
*1/4 cup coarse grits
*2/3 cup flour
*2/3 cup panko bread crumbs
*1 teaspoon sea salt
*fresh ground black pepper
*olive oil for frying

Place sliced green tomatoes in a bowl of salted water for at least 1 hour, up to 3 hours before frying. Drain and rinse with cold water. Whisk buttermilk and eggs in a small mixing bowl and add sliced tomatoes. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile prepare breading.
Mix grits, bread crumbs, sea salt and black pepper in a separate mixing bowl. Place enough olive oil over medium heat in a skillet for frying. When oil is hot, begin dredging tomatoes in breading mixture thoroughly before placing in skillet. Allow to brown for about 4 minutes before flipping. Transfer to a wire rack layered with paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining tomato slices adding olive oil to skillet as needed.

Serve warm drizzled with basil aioli.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Serviceberry Skillet Cake

This is unabashedly a repeat, but one that holds a chance to be repeated only a single time of the year.  Serviceberries are ripening in ernest, so I give you, once again, the serviceberry skillet cake, (though I have cheated and put enough berries in the freezer to do this again maybe when snow is on the ground).
What better way to remember these brief moments of each season.

Adapted from Mehmet Gurs Original Raspberry Fig Cake:
Serviceberry Skillet Cake: 

*1/8 cup bread crumbs for dusting
*1 cup fine raw cane sugar
*1 stick unsalted butter, room temp
*3 eggs
*zest of 1 lime
*1 1/2 cup unbleached organic AP flour
*juice of one lime
*1 cup fresh, very ripe serviceberries 

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9 inch cast iron skillet.
Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs to coat bottom of skillet. Beat the sugar and butter at medium high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Beat in lime zest. Slowly beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the flour and lime juice, alternating between the two until just incorporated. Blend the rest with a rubber spatula.
Pour the batter into the pan. Sprinkle the berries over top, and gently press into the batter.
Bake on center rack for 40 minutes or until surface is golden and a cake tester comes out clean.
Cool slightly before slicing.
Serve warm. Maybe with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.