Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween -- Cooking with Pumpkins (and their seeds)

Happy Halloween everyone.  I thought you would appreciate these Halloween inspired food links and a great new recipe from Nikki.  Enjoy!

Food52 Homemade Halloween Treats

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds from Maria's Country Kitchen

101 Cookbook's Toasted Pumpkin Seeds Three Ways

Food52 6 Drinks for after Trick-or-Treating

Notes From Nikki
Pumpkin Lasagna
Happy Halloween! I thought it would be appropriate to share a pumpkin recipe as it is Halloween. A frosty, snow-covered Halloween, but Halloween nonetheless. This recipe includes chicken apple sausage. Feel free to omit it for a vegetarian version. It will still be delicious. You can also substitute the chicken apple sausage with your favorite chicken or turkey sausage or ground turkey (cook the ground turkey or any bulk sausage along with the onions, garlic, and sage before you add the chard). Unfortunately, I forgot to snap a photo. You'll just have to make it yourself to see how pretty it is. ;-)


1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 sprigs sage, stems discarded, leaves minced
2-3 T extra virgin olive oil
3-4 C cooked pumpkin (I halved, seeded, and roasted two of the pumpkins from our Inverbrook share, the oblong one and the orange and green sugar pie pumpkin; both boast tremendous flavor)
2 bunches chard, tough stems removed, chopped
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
1- 1 1/2 lbs cooked and sliced apple chicken sausage (enough slices for two layers of the lasagna)
1 box no-boil lasagna noodles (feel free to use your favorite cooked lasagna noodles; the no-boil noodles are just a convenience)
1/2 C fresh shredded parmesan
3 C shredded mozzarella
1/4-1/2 C ricotta cheese (I used whole-milk for maximum flavor)
Splash of milk
Butter for greasing the bottom of the lasagna pan

1. Preheat the oven to 375.
2. Saute the onion, garlic, and sage in a large skillet over medium heat until fragrant. Season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.
3. Toss in the chard and continue sauteing until the chard is wilted.
4. Add in the cooked pumpkin and another dose of sea salt and pepper, stirring well to incorporate. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
5. Grease the bottom and sides of a lasagna pan with a bit of butter.
6. Add a splash of milk to the bottom of the pan, and then top with your first layer of lasagna noodles.
7. Top the noodles with the pumpkin/chard mixture, a layer of sliced sausage, close to half of the mozzarella (keep in mind that you'll just need to reserve some [less than 1/3] for the very top), half of the parmesan, and 1/2 of the ricotta (tiny dollops spread fairly evenly apart), in that order.
8. Add another layer of noodles, pumpkin/chard mixture, sausage, mozzarella, parmesan, and ricotta.
9. Top this second layer with a final layer of noodles, the remainder of the mozzarella, and a drizzle of milk over the top.
10. Tent with foil and bake until bubbling (about 30 minutes).
11. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes or so until the top is golden brown.
12. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for a good 10-15 minutes before slicing.

Notes From Nikki-Sweet Potato Chili and more

Sweet Potato Chili
To me, nothing says fall more than soups, stews, and chili. Chili has to be my favorite meal this time of the year. Nothing warms my bones more than a hearty bowl of beans, vegetables, meat, and spices. This version uses sweet potatoes, ground turkey, and a secret ingredient... Victory's Storm King Stout. It's absolutely delicious, if I do say so myself. It's hard to go wrong with Chili though. Feel free to omit the ground turkey if you like. It will still be delicious. Enjoy!

1 large onion, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
2-3 T extra virgin olive oil
2-3 tsp cumin
1 T ground chile pepper powder (I used chipotle. Feel free to substitute with New Mexican for a milder version, or just use less than a T. You can also substitute a fresh, minced hot pepper.)
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
1 tsp cinnamon
1-2 T cocoa powder
Sea salt
2 lbs. ground turkey
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes, juice included
2 C stock (I used homemade chicken. Vegetable would also work. Water is also a possibility in a pinch, but you will lack some of the flavor, especially if you omit the turkey.)
1 bottle of Storm King Stout (other stout or porters will also work, but Storm King offers something pretty special)
2 15 oz. cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
About 2 C seeded, chopped sweet peppers (I used a variety of the bell and long Italian peppers from our Inverbrook share)
Fresh grated cheddar for topping (I used a sharp, raw variety)
Sour cream for topping

1. Saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot until fragrant.
2. Add in the cumin, chile powder, paprika, coriander, oregano, cinnamon, cocoa powder, and a generous dose of sea salt. Stir to combine.
3. Add in the turkey and saute until cooked through.
4. Add in the sweet potatoes and tomatoes and stir to combine.
5. Add the stock and beer. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the potatoes are tender.
6. Add in the beans and the peppers and turn off the heat.
7. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
8. Allow the chili to rest for a bit so that the flavors meld and the peppers have a chance to soften a bit.
9. Serve topped with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream.

Garlic Roasted Haricot Verts

By now, you have probably realized my affinity for roasting. To me, roasting is the best way to bring out the deeper, sweeter complexities of food. I rarely boil or steam vegetables. I much prefer roasting, either in the pan with a splash of extra virgin olive oil, or in the oven on a baking sheet. Haricot verts are perfect for oven roasting. Tossed with some olive oil, and a bit of minced garlic and sea salt, they turn out delectably crisp and tasty. A nice alternative to shoestring fries. My kids love them. I hope you enjoy them too.
1-2 lbs. haricot verts, stemmed (I used a medley of Inverbrook green, yellow, and purple)
3-4 T extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
Sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 400.
2. Toss the haricot verts with the olive oil, garlic, and sea salt.
3. Spread out onto a baking sheet (or two) in a single layer (it's okay if there is some overlap).
4. Roast in the oven until crisp tender and golden brown in spots (about 10-15 minutes), shaking the pan to toss the beans around at least a couple of times during the process.
5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a bit before serving.
Serves 6

Bacon Cheddar Potato Mash
I served the Garlic Roasted Haricot Verts with grilled chicken and the following Bacon Cheddar Potato Mash (see photo below). My family was wild about the entire menu! I hope you enjoy both dishes as much as we did.
6-8 oz fried bacon, drained and crumpled
3-4 lbs. potatoes, scrubbed and halved or quartered if significantly large (I used the russets from our Inverbrook share, but any potato will do)
1 C + milk
4 T butter
4-6 oz. grated cheddar (I used a raw, sharp variety)
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
Handful of chopped parsley leaves

1. Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Add in a generous amount of sea salt.
2. Bring to a boil, and continue cooking until the potatoes are tender.
3. Drain the potatoes in a colander and return to the pot.
4. Add in the butter, I C of milk, and another generous dose of sea salt.
5. Mash the lot together using a potato masher.
6. Stir in the bacon, cheese, pepper, and more milk if needed.
7. Stir in the parsley, and taste and adjust the seasoning.
Serves 6-8

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Notes From Nikki-Three Great Fall Recipes

Good Old-Fashioned Beef Stew
My son, Kiah, has been begging me to make beef stew (his favorite) ever since the leaves started turning. This dreary day turned out to be the perfect day to hang in the kitchen, and the Inverbrook potatoes and parsley I had on hand sealed the deal. Although it's a cinch to whip together, you need time for this recipe. The meat needs to simmer at least an hour to get to the point where it just falls apart in your mouth. Any less than an hour and your jaws will be begging for mercy as they attempt to chew through all those tough little wads of beef. I started this stew late in the morning, finished it just after noon, and let it sit covered on the stove until dinner time. Perfect. All I had to do was reheat it a touch. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

3 lbs. beef stew meat, cut into bit-sized chunks
1 large yellow onion
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 T worcestershire sauce
3-4 T ketchup (or tomato paste)
3-4 bay leaves
6 medium-large russet potatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks
6 medium carrots, sliced/chopped into bite-sized chunks
Generous handful of chopped parsley leaves
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper

1. Saute the beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat in a large soup pot until the meat is browned on the outside.
2. Season the beef mixture generously with sea salt and fresh ground pepper, and stir in the worcestershire and ketchup.
3. Add 8 C of water, along with the bay leaves, and bring to a boil.
4. Reduce the heat to simmer, cover, and simmer until the meat is tender (about 45 minutes-1 hour).
5. Add in the potatoes along with more sea salt and pepper, and continue simmering until the potatoes are starting to get tender, but are still pretty firm.
6. Add in the carrots, and simmer until the potatoes and carrots are firm tender, and the meat is super tender.
7. Turn off the heat and stir in the parsley.
8. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
9. Serve and enjoy!
Serves 6-8

Kabocha Squash Bowls with Local Drunken Cranberry Turkey Sausage and Greens
If you haven't tried the sausage from the good folks at Maiale, do yourself a favor and indulge the next time you're out at the Kennett Farmers Market on a Friday. It's to die for. Really. I have a slight sausage addiction thanks to these guys. They have vegetarian options as well. The following recipe showcases their "turkey sausage with drunken cranberries". I was told that the "drunken cranberries" are soaked in white wine. Feel free to substitute other turkey based sausage here, or just leave it out. The squash will still be tasty with just the greens. I would throw a bit of fresh minced garlic into the saute pan along with the greens to give it more depth if you decide to leave the sausage out.

1 package of Maiale Drunken Cranberry Turkey Sausage (or approximately 1/2 lb of turkey sausage of your choice)
2 bunches of cooking greens, stemmed and roughly chopped (I used the perpetual spinach from our Inverbrook share)
2 kabocha squash, halved and seeded
2-3 T extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
1/2- 3/4 C freshly shredded parmigiano reggiano

1. Rub the the squash halves with a bit of olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper.
2. Roast uncovered in a 400 degree oven until the squash is tender when pierced and slightly browned (about 20-30 minutes).
3. While the squash is roasting, remove the sausage from its casing, and saute over medium heat in a large skillet until cooked through, breaking it up as it cooks.
4. Add in the greens and saute until just wilted.
5. Turn off the heat and cover to keep warm.
6. Once the squash is finished roasting, remove it from the oven and fill each half with 1/4 of the sausage mixture.
7. Sprinkle the top of each squash bowl with parmigiano reggiano, and return to the oven briefly to melt and brown the cheese slightly.
8. Serve and enjoy!
Serves 4

Sweet Potato Apple Cake
This recipe from Whole Foods Market showed up in my inbox today:

The sweet potatoes from this week's share are perfect for this. I changed things ever so slightly, using real maple syrup instead of brown sugar, coconut oil instead of cooking spray, etc. My version is below.
I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

1 C whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
Generous pinch of sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4-1/2 C real maple syrup (1/2 C makes for a sweet cake, use less if you're looking for something a bit more mild)
1 large or 2 small eggs
2 small-medium sweet potatoes (about 3/4 lb.), peeled and grated
1 large or 2 small apples, peeled, cored, and grated (I used honey crisp)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Coconut oil for greasing the pan (extra virgin olive oil will work too)

1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl.
3. Combine the apple, sweet potato, eggs, maple, and vanilla in another bowl.
4. Fold the dry and wet ingredients together, stirring until just combined.
5. Grease an 8" cake pan with coconut oil, and spread the cake batter evenly into it.
6. Bake until cooked through (about 40 minutes).
7. Allow to cool, slice, and serve.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

This Week's Share and Notes From Nikki

I cannot believe its raining again.  I had really been enjoying the sunshine, along with the relatively warm weather and the changing leaf color.  Oh well.  The one good thing about the rain is that it forces me in front of the computer and I can update the blog.  Nikki has provided the perfect soup for this cool and rainy day--it seems to embody the sunshine we are missing today.  Enjoy both the recipe and this week's share.

This Week Share:
Winter Squash or Sweet Potatoes (depending on pick up day)
Green Beans
Cooking Greens
Eggplant and/or Green Tomatoes
Sweet Green Peppers
Hot Peppers
Dandelion Greens

Butternut Squash, Corn, and Lemongrass Soup
This soup is decidedly rich and creamy without being heavy. A perfect soup for a wet, fall day. Kaboocha squash would work here as well (I would roast it right in its skin first to deepen the flavor). The corn can be added in after blending with an immersion blender for a chunkier version (I was in the mood for something smoother). Feel free to fish out the lemon grass stalks before blending. I always leave them in as I don't mind a few strings here and there in exchange for a more pronounced lemon grass experience. :-) Enjoy!

1 large butternut squash (or two small), skinned, seeded, and roughly chopped
2 stalks of lemongrass, outer leaves removed, cut into 2-3" pieces and then sliced again vertically
8 oz. frozen corn
6-8 C stock (I used chicken, but veggie would work fine here)
1 15 oz. can coconut milk (I prefer the full-fat version for the best flavor)
2-3 T extra virgin olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 hot pepper, seeded, de-ribbed, and roughly chopped (I used one of the milder poblanos from our Inverbrook share. Feel free to use something hotter, or leave in some seeds and ribbing for more heat.)
Sea salt
Generous handful of fresh chopped cilantro leaves
Toasted pepitas for topping

1. Saute the garlic, onion, lemongrass, and hot pepper in the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat until the onion is softened.
2. Add in the squash, tossing to coat.
3. Add enough stock to cover the squash mixture.
4. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until the squash is tender.
5. Turn off the heat, and add in the corn, coconut milk, and a generous dose of sea salt.
6. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth.
7. Stir in the cilantro, and taste and adjust.
8. Serve topped with a sprinkling of toasted pepitas.
Serves 8-10

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Notes From Nikki-Lemony Haricot Vert with Shallots and Chicken Paillards

Lemony Haricot Verts with Shallots and Chicken Paillards

Well, at least all that September rain brought us a bounty of Inverbrook beans! The pretty little yellow haricot verts are my favorite, and make me feel better about the fact that there is mold growing all over my basement. ;-)

The following recipe is super simple to throw together, and showcases the beans in a delightfully rich and tangy way. If you're not into butter, skip it and just use olive oil. The advent of fall always leaves me craving heavier foods (like butter), but I know not everyone feels the same way. Enjoy!

2 bags Inverbrook haricot verts (I'm guessing about 1-1 1/2 lbs, give or take. Snap off the stem ends. I used the yellow ones.)
4 T extra virgin olive oil
6 small shallots, skinned and sliced
2 T butter
Flour for dredging the chicken
Juice of 1/2-1 lemon, plus a little zest for good measure (I used the juice of 1 whole lemon, but I like things really lemony. Use as much juice and zest as you like.)
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts pounded thin (You can also use thin-sliced chicken breast cutlets or chicken tenders)
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
Small handful of chopped parsley leaves
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet.
3. Season the dredging flour generously with sea salt and pepper, mixing together well.
4. Dredge the chicken paillards in the flour one at a time, and add them to the pan, cooking in batches (about 3-4 in the skillet at a time to avoid over-crowding), until both sides are golden brown and the paillards are cooked through, but still juicy inside (about 3-5 minutes per side, depending on thickness; they dry out quickly so don't overdo it). Feel free to add more olive oil to the pan if needed.
5. As the paillards finish, place them on a baking sheet in the oven so they stay warm.
6. Once all the chicken is finished and being kept warm in the oven, add the butter to the skillet, along with the shallots.
7. Saute the shallots until they are softened and starting to brown a bit.
8. Add in the haricot verts, tossing to incorporate everything.
9. Cover and steam until the beans are just barely tender (5-10 minutes, tops), shaking the pan every so often to prevent the beans on the bottom from browning. They should still have quite a bit of snap and lots of vibrant color when they're done.
10. Add the parsley, and sea salt and pepper to taste.
11. Lay a chicken paillard on a bed of haricot verts, garnish with a parsley leaf and a bit of fresh ground pepper, and serve.
Serves 6