Monday, December 10, 2012

sweet potato and radish gratin + braised mustard and radish greens

Radishes are a root vegetable that I had very limited experience with before signing up for a local farm delivery service. Radishes were something that I only ate raw, sliced in a salad or as part of a crudite plate. So not true any longer. I've now eaten multiple varieties of radish --  from globe to french breakfast, to daikon... and I've had them raw, pickled, roasted and, in this latest case, joined this giant variety with sweet potatoes/yams in an awfully tasty gratin.  I also used the radish greens, combined with the gorgeous purple mustard greens in my bushel to make a nice compliment of braised greens.

There is something pretty satisfying about using everything, and about making something new, fresh, and local.

I used the mandolin to thinly slice the sweet potatoes and radish.

Layer the potato and radish in a cast iron skillet.  Dot with butter, grate on some cheese.  I used an aged white cheddar.  Repeat with an additional layer of potatoes, radish and cheese.

Simmer some whole milk with minced shallot, garlic and a rosemary sprig or two.

After you've topped the second layer of potatoes and radish with cheese, pour the warmed milk mixture over the top and press down to compact.  Bake.

While your gratin bakes, braise your greens.

Once your gratin is cool enough to cut, serve up a slice, along side of the greens. It's really good stuff.

sweet potato and radish gratin + braised mustard and radish greens

2 large sweet potatoes, thinly sliced
1 bunch of extra large variety radish, thinly sliced
1 cup grated aged white cheddar
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 T unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the skillet
2 cloves grated garlic
2 T minced shallot
freshly grated nutmeg
2 sprigs fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter your cast iron skillet. Arrange half of the sweet potatoes mixed with half of the radish in the skillet.  Dot with butter, and sprinkle on 1/2 cup of cheese.  Repeat with remaining potatoes, radish, butter and cheese.  While you prepare the skillet, bring the milk, shallot, garlic, nutmeg and rosemary sprigs to a simmer and allow to simmer for about 3-4 minutes.  Remove rosemary sprigs.  Pour milk mixture over potato, radish, cheese mixture and press to compact.  Cover with foil and bake for about 40 minutes.  Remove foil.  If there is a lot of extra liquid, use a turkey baster to remove a bit.  Allow to bake, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until the cheese is golden brown.  Cool slightly before serving.  Serve along side braised greens.

strawberry, golden beet, avocado, blue cheese and cress salad

Beautiful strawberry surprise in this week's bushel lead to outstanding salad for lunch yesterday.  Strawberries, paper thin (on the mandolin) sliced, raw golden beets, avocado, cress and blue cheese.  I made an orange, basil, mint vinaigrette,  but a raspberry vinaigrette (or whichever is your favorite) would have been excellent here too. Simple, quick.  How pretty is that?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

meyer lemon and honey roasted winter squash with blue cheese and farro

     Sometimes you don't have a plan. If I'm honest here, this concept goes against my nature, but I try reeeeaaaalllly hard to lean into it.  A hundred years ago my college roommate (now my sister-in-law) and I participated in a yoga class. The instructor offered up some words of wisdom I have come to find ring sharply true:   "There are those who want to do yoga, and there are those who want to want to do yoga." With regards to stripping down and not knowing what's next, I fall in the later category.  I like me a plan.  So tonight, without a plan, I peered into the end-of-week-barely stocked fridge to see what might be what. And low and behold..... meyer lemon and honey roasted winter squash with blue cheese and farro ended up in my kitchen, and on my plate.

Some long-lasting winter squash from my last farmhouse bushel, a bit of Little Boy Blue cheese left from the last dairymaid cheese run, and farro in the pantry.  Thank goodness sometimes there isn't a plan.

meyer lemon and honey roasted winter squash with blue cheese and farro

2 small or one slightly bigger acorn squash or other winter squash
2 T honey
2 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, grated
2 small meyer lemon, juiced
1/2 t salt
blue cheese, crumbled
1 to 2 T scallion, thinly sliced
1 cup farro
2 cups vegetable stock plus 1 cup water (or 3 cups water)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut squash in half, remove seeds, and cut each half into quarters. Place in a baking dish sprayed with a bit of canola oil.  Whisk to combine the honey, olive oil, garlic, juice of 1 1/2 lemons, and salt. Brush half of the mixture over the squash and bake for 20 minutes.  Brush remaining liquid over squash and continue baking for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the squash is very tender (baste with the liquid in the pan every so often).

While the squash roasts, bring 2 cups vegetable stock and 1 cup water to a boil.  Rinse farro.  Add farro to boiling water, cover and reduce heat to low.  Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until al dente. Drain, and toss with juice from remaining 1/2 lemon.

Make a bed of farro on a serving platter.  Place squash on top.  Pour liquid from pan over top of squash and farro.  Crumble on blue cheese, and scatter some thinly sliced scallion on top.  Bon Appetit!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

easy and slow happy sunday breakfast

Some days are meant for being slow. And easy. And sweet. Today was one.

Started out rainy.  And early, off to an early, inspiring worship.  Afterwards, all the makings for a simple meal already at home.  And sometimes you just need a pretty plate.  This one belonged to my great Aunt Mo, now to me. I love that. Happiness.

Excellent, local farmstead cheese - Pure Luck Farms Chevre - from Houston Dairymaids, fresh, late season figs and meyer lemons in our Farmhouse bushel (still waiting for the tree we planted for S's Mom to produce.. getting there, but not quite), Texas honey and pistachios, served up on a toasted Slow Dough Bread Co baguette.  Serious-Sunday-makes-you-happy-goodness-for-your-belly stuff.

With S's crazy schedule this month, it's SO nice to have a slow day to spend together... with these guys, too...

We were able to watch a good movie, fit in some football time (while I browsed through my new fav cookbook), dog walk, AND round the day out with an excellent supper before S had to hit the hay for the crazy shift this month.
... My fav new cookbook?... the smitten kitchen cookbook, by Deb Perelman. A good friend introduced me to the blog a couple of years ago, and this new book is, simply put, beautiful.

Not kidding.  You need this.  It's good stuff. Look what we made to round out our easy and slow happy and sweet Sunday... flat roasted chicken with tiny potatoes.  Made in my Grandma's cast iron skillet.  With pan gravy poured from my Granny's small crystal pitcher.  I love that. Happiness.

YEAH we did.  Again, happiness.

Hoping for you an easy, slow and sweet happy Sunday, too.  xoxo

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

garlicky kale and balsamic onion pizza

Monday night often becomes pizza night at our house.  The meal comes together quickly, it's easily made into a meatless meal choice, AND, it's one of my husband's favorite eats.  Me, you ask?  Well, one of my favorite eats is garlicky greens.  The two together?  Magic.

To our good fortune, the Farmhouse bushel arrived this weekend with a lovely, green bunch of kale.  Yep.  Monday's meal was set.

garlicky kale and balsamic onion pizza
makes two small (8-10 inch) pizzas

pizza dough for 2 small pizzas
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, sliced
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 bunch kale, shredded
4 cloves garlic, grated
nutmeg, freshly grated
sea salt
olive oil
pizza sauce (make your own, or Whole Foods makes a good quality, inexpensive jar to have on hand)
grated cheese (I used a combination of what I had on hand -- fontina, mozzarella and parmesan)

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a dutch oven, or heavy-bottomed skillet.  Add in the onion and saute to caramelize.  Once the onions are tender, add in 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar and continue to saute until the onions are very tender and lightly caramelized.  Add in the garlic and crushed red pepper and saute for 30 seconds more.  Add in the shredded kale and a splash of water.  Stir well, and allow the kale to wilt while you grate in a bit of fresh nutmeg.  Season lightly with salt.

Transfer your prepared crust to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (or, if you run out of parchment, as I did last night, sprinkle the cookie sheet with a bit of corn meal).   Brush the edge of the pizzas with olive oil.  Spread a small amount of pizza sauce (we go very light on the sauce at our house, maybe 2 Tablespoons per pizza).  Lightly sprinkle on some of cheese.  Top each pizza with half of the kale/onion topping.  Add another sprinkle of cheese.  Bake at 475 degrees for 5 minutes, remove parchment (if using), rotate pizza, and bake an additional 6 minutes, until the cheese is golden brown.  Cool slightly, slice and savor!   Simple.  Told ya it was a snap!

Buon appetito

Saturday, October 27, 2012

arugula, pickled golden beet, goat cheese and roasted chick pea salad

Now THIS is a glorious day in Texas.  Sun shining, breeze blowing, high temp in the 60s --- SaWEET! It's the kind of day you have the windows and back door wide open (which makes our dogs very, very happy), you have a good book in hand (Life of Pi, one of my top 3 favs of the last decade, perfect for a re-read before the film releases next month), and lots of good things going on in the kitchen.

Lucky for me, today was Farmhouse bushel day, and my box arrived with a butternut squash just right for a slow butternut squash and beef stew in the crockpot (did I mention good things and GREAT smells going on in the kitchen?).  The box also had the most perfect, young arugula, just what I needed to make the salad I specially pickled the golden beets for the other day.

Add in some goat cheese, and roasted chick peas, and you are in business, baby!  I made a simple vinaigrette of olive oil (1 1/2 T), and some of the beet pickling liquid (1T).  Season with salt and pepper and lightly dress the arugula.  Crumble some goat cheese, sprinkle on the chick peas, and add nice share of the crunchy pickled beets to the plate.  Now that's a right nice late afternoon starter for the stew that smells like Heaven, bubbling away in the crock pot.  Time for a glass of wine, the easy chair by the window with the breeze, a comfy blanket and a  movie.  All Saturdays should be so lovely.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

quick pickled golden beets with orange peel, pink peppercorns and honey

So, yesterday I set off to do one thing -- pickle radish from my bushel --, and was, of course, side-tracked by these golden pretties.  I love, love, love beets. Heart the earthy, sweet way they taste, the smell of them roasting, the texture -- like 'em raw in a slaw too  -- I dig it all. So it's not surprising that while I was preparing the pickling liquid for my radish (remember them?), I started thinking about the bunch of golden beets in the fridge, and how amazing they would be pickled in a salad -- or along side a meat, or chopped as a garnish for soup, or eaten straight from the jar without abandon... you get my point here. 

 I love that these quick fridge beets don't ask for boiling in advance, or lots of effort for all they yield in return.  Not these golden ones. Nope, they sail on easy the entire route, and present the perfect "just-a-tad-bit-of-crunch" as an end result. That's what I'm talking about. 

All the while I prepare the beets, I'm drooling, thinking about a salad with goat cheese, roasted chickpeas and these tangy/crunchy/sweet delights (that salad is coming this weekend, no doubt!).

quick pickled golden beets with orange peel, pink peppercorns and honey
(makes about 1 quart-sized jar)
1 bunch of golden beets (mine had 3 extra large beets), peeled, cut in half and sliced very, very thin
1 1/2 cups rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
2 heavy teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon orange peel
1/2 teaspoon crushed aleppo pepper (pink peppercorn)
1 teaspoon salt

Place the sliced beets in a clean jar. Sprinkle on the orange peel and pink peppercorn.   Heat the vinegar, water, honey and salt to a boil in a saucepan. Pour pickling liquid over beets and allow to cool completely.  Close lid and shake to incorporate the spice.  Refrigerate, shaking occasionally,  for 3-4 days and enjoy!! They will keep for at least a couple of weeks in the fridge. 

As a side note, the pickled radish petty much rocked, too. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

creamy-tangy-goat-cheesey shells with tatsoi and bacon

For meatless monday?  Okay,  I know, I know.  This can't technically qualify for our meatless monday supper, but we're making an allowance here.  It's bacon, after all, and worthy of the infraction.  We just  made sure to go fully meatless on the other meals.

A couple of weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised to find a green in my bushel  that I hadn't tried, or even heard of,  before -- tatsoi.  What a gorgeous bundle -- vibrant, deep, dark green, spoon-shaped leaves -- a real treat to see when we opened our box. We were intrigued. The first bunch served us well in salads, but we wanted to try something different with it when it showed up again in Saturday's box.

Remembering we had a lovely farmstead goat cheese, a baby caprino, in the the fridge, as well as a couple of smokey slices of applewood bacon, this pasta dish took shape and came together quickly.

creamy-tangy-goat-cheesey shells with tatsoi and bacon
serves 2-3 servings

8 oz whole wheat pasta shells
1 cup pasta water, divided and reserved
2 slices thick cut bacon, cut into lardons
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/2 teaspoon paprika
freshly grated nutmeg
1 bunch tatsoi, leaves coarsely chopped
4 oz (or so)  caprino cheese, cut into cubes
sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
olive oil

Boil pasta  to al dente according to package directions.  Reserve 1 cup pasta water.  Drain and set aside.  Heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in dutch oven or heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat.  Add bacon lardons and cook until crisp.  Remove from pan and allow to drain on paper towels. Add the onion to the pan with the bacon fat and saute for 4-5 minutes.  Use a splash or so as needed of the pasta water to help deglaze the pan.  Add in the grated garlic, paprika, a bit of freshly grated nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste, and saute one minute more.  Stir in tatsoi and allow to wilt.  Once the tatsoi is wilted and incorporated with the onion mixture, add in the diced goat cheese and 1/2 cup reserved pasta water.  Stir constantly until the cheese fully melts into the sauce.  Add in the cooked pasta and toss to combine.  Stir in the bacon, saving some back for garnish.  Turn your pasta out into a bowl and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, freshly cracked black pepper and the remaining bacon lardons.  Dig in!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

kabocha squash butter

This squash butter hollers out loud and clear that it is the Autumn season, and tastes like pumpkin pie in a jar.  All those spicy, sweet flavors married into one kick butt spread. Now that's good stuff.  Simple to make, and even easier to devour on your favorite toasted bread.

I had a kabocha squash from my last bushel just waiting for a purpose, and yesterday, its destiny was fulfilled.

Once roasted, the pulp is combined with fresh ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, brown sugar and fresh apple juice, and allowed to simmer on the stove until thickened.  OH, THE SMELL, as this cooks.... it's unbelievable.

Cool completely, and fill up your jar.  This will last up to a month or better in the fridge.

kabocha squash butter
makes about 1 jar

1 good sized kabocha squash
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3-4 whole cloves, ground/crushed
pinch of sea salt
1 cup fresh apple juice (I used two Texas Gala Apples to produce one cup)
1/2 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Slice squash in half, and remove seeds. Lay, cut side down, in a baking dish filled with about an inch of water.  Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on size of squash, until flesh is very tender.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.  Scoop flesh out and place in a blender along with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt and apple juice.  Puree until smooth.

Place a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven over a medium low heat and add in the puree.  Stir in the brown sugar, and allow to simmer, stirring frequently, for about 35-40 minutes until the mixture is nicely thickened. Lower the heat as needed.  Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.  Place in jar and refrigerate.  Will keep up to a month in the refrigerator.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

herbed summer squash ribbon carpaccio salad with chevre and pistachios

This time of year is interesting.  We still have warmer weather, and our summer produce hasn't given up just yet.  I mean, I know it's almost Fall.  Technically.  And I'm really ready to start in the kitchen with soups and more roasted veggies and such. This past week I sat out on the deck after work, watching the hummingbirds gather around the feeder, with a nice "cool-ish" breeze blowing.  I heard Reagan High School marching band practicing in the distance, mixed with the still present sweet and nostalgic back-up from chirping cicadas.  All these things tell me it's almost Fall. But the gorgeous summer squash in our bushel and spring/summer herbs still growing in my garden whisper for simple salads for just a little while longer...

herbed summer squash ribbon carpaccio salad with chevre and pistachios
serves 2

3 small assorted zucchini and yellow summer squash
1 lemon, juiced
olive oil
3 T chopped assorted herbs (basil, mint and chives)
scant palmful roasted pistachios, chopped
two spoonfuls of Chevre
(I used a lovely local Texas goat cheese, June's Joy, by Pure Luck Farm and Dairy carried by Farmhouse, and Houston Dairymaids)

Using a mandolin, very thinly slice your squash, lengthwise, in paper-thin slices. Lay flat, overlapping slices on a large platter.  Squeeze over the juice of one lemon, sprinkle with a bit of salt, and drizzle with olive oil.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow the squash to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes (it will become weepy).  When you are ready to serve, arrange squash ribbons on two plates, sprinkle with chopped herbs, top with Chevre, chopped pistachios, and one last drizzle of olive oil.  Eat up!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

persimmon, avocado & blue cheese salad with apple cider vinaigrette

It's so often true that in the simplest of things, we find the most delightful things.  Certainly holds up for this salad -- mixed greens, ripe persimmons (delivered from a local farm to my door in my Farmhouse bushel), creamy & green avocado, and tangy artisan blue cheese (first sampled then purchased from my newest neighborhood-TOO-COOL-finds, Houston Dairymaids -- cheese mongers extraordinaire).  Add an ever-so-easy apple cider vinaigrette lightly drizzled over top, and voila!  Love.  It.  Look what happened on my plate for lunch today (she said with a great big, bright, brimming smile)!

persimmon, avocado & blue cheese salad with apple cider vinaigrette
serves 2

For the dressing:
1 T apple cider vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
3 T olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste

For the salad:
2 fuyu persimmons, firm ripe, hulled, peeled and sliced thinly
1 avocado, sliced
about 2 or so oz (to your taste) good quality blue cheese, crumbled
mixed greens

Whisk together all ingredients for the dressing, place in a small jar and shake well.  Arrange greens on two plates.  Top with persimmon, avocado and blue cheese. Drizzle dressing over top.   DEVOUR.  Then start wondering immediately about how soon is too soon before you can make it again.  YUM.