Harvest season makes me happy. Each year I’m so thrilled to see the bounty of everyone’s hard farming work, I’m like a really boring kid in candy store filled with vegetables. A few Sundays ago, what started out as a typical local veggie stock up turned into a massive squash spree. We picked up a few squash and other fantastically fresh veggies (Brussels sprouts, onions, leeks, garlic) at the Newburyport Farmers’ Market and then stopped in to Tendercrop Farm for some of their lovely grassfed beef and delicata squash.
What’s nice about this creamed soup is that, despite its super rich and creamy texture, there is no cream. In fact, the only fat in the soup comes from the two teensy little tablespoons of butter used to saute the onion, garlic and zucchini. Zucchini is such a flavor pushover, somehow just two tablespoons of butter is enough to give the whole pot its lovely, rich fragrance.
I will admit, being from New England, I did not grow up on ribs. Until my mid-twenties, the closest we got to barbecued ribs were the hot pink, Ah-So sauce drenched spare ribs of the suburban Chinese restaurants in our area. Eventually, I grew up, moved to the big city and tried all kinds of new things, good barbecue being one of them. Not to get all highfalutin and pompous here, but I’ve traveled around a bit and there’s nothing quite like sweet, American-style slow-smoked barbecued meats.
Pan con Tomate is a traditional Catalonian dish that’s essentially just mashed or grated tomatoes on toast. It’s like bruschetta, except less 1997 and without as many variations. What makes it special is that in parts of Spain it’s served for breakfast, which is brilliant. I’ve never been one for a sugar spike first thing in the morning, so jam on toast has never appealed to me. Tomatoes, garlic and olive oil on the other hand? Oh, that’s hearties. Especially if it’s made with luscious, freshly picked tomatoes.
For years I wasn’t a fan of watermelon. Not sure why, but I’d see watermelon and think, “Meh”. This summer, for some reason, the watermelon called to me. How sad that for years I’d been missing out on its sweet, refreshing and rehydrating, drink-like qualities. Now I can’t get enough. A bowl of watermelon cubes for breakfast on a hot summer morning? Divine. Slices of watermelon for a beach snack? Cooling and lovely. Watermelon with feta cheese in this salad? Refreshing and hearty at the same time. See where I was going with that?
The first batch I made of this expanded in the ice cream maker to the point where it began to overflow. Faced with a slow-moving flood of frozen something-or-other, my husband and I had no choice but to pause operations, bust out the safety spoons and commence a preventative rescue effort. How is it that we found ourselves in this most precarious of ice cream making predicaments?
Back in the day, my husband and I used to go to a vintage burger joint near our old apartment for the most ridiculously juicy burgers. Bartley’s Burger Cottage in Harvard Square has been around since 1960. I grew up going there in high school and decided early on that their burgers would be the benchmark to which I would hold all other burgers. I recall going there with friends on my 17th birthday. Oh what a fine time we had.
I found something beautiful when we traveled to Spain in March. Aside from Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia and the marketplace in Tarragona. What we found – or rather, tasted – that really stood out was the Sangria. It was made without apples. No apples. No peaches. No grapefruit. No weird imposters. No goji berries. Just elegant slices of citrus, casually hanging out with the ice cubes.
I’m Italian. Not really, but my grandparents and great grandparents moved here from Italy. While I have traveled to Italy, I can’t really say I’m from Italy. I did, however, absorb bit of the language from five years of studying Italian in school. Does this qualify me as an expert on Italian cooking? Absolutely not, but Italian Rum Cake is really more of an Italian-American thing than an Italian thing anyway. Not surprising when you think of it. How many rum producers originate from Italy? Mmmnot that many.
Like any gal raised in New England, I’ve had my fair share of trips to Florida. The temptation for a snowbound New Englander to hop on a convenient three-hour flight to a lush, green and sparkling land called the Sunshine State is next to unbearable during our seemingly relentless winter months. And with each trip, along with a good dose of sun and coconut scented sunscreen, there has to be a slice or two of Key Lime Pie thrown into the mix.
This is another post inspired by the bounty of our winter farm share, which consists of root veggies from the farm’s root cellar and lots of fresh greens and herbs from the farm’s little greenhouse. Despite it being a mild winter, it is still a nice retreat this time of year to walk into a greenhouse where the air is thick with the scent of soil, the light is bright and even, and brown chickens wander in and out.
We are former city-folk and this was the first blessed summer that I’ve had the opportunity to grow a vegetable garden since growing up in the ‘burbs (I don’t count the tomato plants I had on my fire escape in college). I was so eager to get started that I planted the seeds in little peat pots in early April and coddled them along on our porch.
The nice thing about making chili in a slow cooker is that there’s less risk of burning the bottom of the pot and therefore less need to watch it closely. You can go about your afternoon and come home to a nice hot bowl of spicy, meaty goodness. It’s also pretty quick compared to other slow cooker recipes – 4 hours on high and you’re good.
Snow day! There’s something about snow that makes me want to bake. I think it’s the way the snow drifts in the wind like sifted flour and clumps up along walkways like dough. I have a feeling I’m not alone in this association. Snickerdoodles are a classic cookie from New England and we New Englanders are no strangers to snow.
Squash, in some form or another is a requirement at the table on Thanksgiving. They are just so perfectly in season and once the winter sets in, it will be a while before something so perfect will be available again. I was planning to steam and mash mine with a little maple syrup and butter this year, but soon thought better of it once I realized that the other sides on our menu are creamed spinach and mashed potatoes. In an attempt to not serve an entire table of baby food, I decided to roast the squash instead.
Simplicity is a beautiful thing. I have been making this recipe for Spice Pumpkin seeds for years and they are always a big hit. Sugar pumpkins are your best bet for pies and other seasonal side dishes, so this is a good recipe for any time you crack one open, but it also works well with seeds from the larger pumpkins normally used to make jack-o-lanterns.
Shepherd’s pie is traditionally made with ground or minced lamb. So which protein source are we herding here? Lentils. They tend to wander off, as you know. This is a great option for a vegetarian meal that doesn’t include cheese. Lentils are supremely nutritious, offering a good deal of iron, fiber, protein and folate. A member of the cruciferous family, kale is practically perfect with high levels of vitamins A, K and C.
Goat meat is a great option for New Englanders who are interested in locally raised hormone-free, grass-fed sources of animal protein. Many small-scale local farms are now raising goat, which makes it not too difficult to find at farmers markets and natural food stores. I buy my goat meat from Riverslea Farm in Epping, New Hampshire. Their goats and lambs are pasture-raised without antibiotics or hormones.
We’re having what may be the final barbecue of the year for us this weekend. After a season of potato salads and coleslaw, I was thinking a lighter side dish might be in order. Cucumbers are still going strong in our area, and so I was reminded of this Eastern European dish. Cucumber Salad is cool and refreshing and makes a great accompaniment to barbecued meats.
I somehow ended up with two quarts of goat milk this week. Funny how these things happen. While goat milk is great to drink on its own – the initial taste is similar to cow’s milk, with the tart finish of chèvre – it occurred to me that its salty-sweet, piquant flavor might work nicely mixed into a dark chocolate pudding.
I came across gooseberries and currants at my local farmers market the other day and immediately thought of the goat rib chops we have in the refrigerator from Riverslea Farm. Wouldn’t they make a lovely relish?
We are members of a CSF – a wonderful program that offers shareholders fresh fish, caught locally the morning of pick-up. It’s like a CSA, but with fish. This week’s catch was flounder – 12 fillets. In case you were wondering, that’s a lot of fish. Fortunately, I was hosting a pot luck dinner the following evening.
We had friends over this weekend to barbecue and one friend requested that we incorporate my Maple Teriyaki Sauce into the meal somehow. I decided to marinate chicken breast in the sauce and grill it on skewers.
I decided this morning that today was as good a day as any to reorganize our cabinets. I like to collect glass jars to use for storage, rather using than plastic containers that seep BPAs and chemical flavors into foods. It’s also a good way to reuse perfectly good glass jars and keep them from becoming the stuff of landfills. So, I went though and put any unsealed items into jars. It looks pretty spiffy now actually (see pic). Thought I’d share my eco-friendly frugal tip as nod to good ol’ Earth Day.
Sometimes I wish I spoke French fluently. Because the title of this dish would surely sound less awkward in French. But if I went around calling it Asperge sur le Pain avec l’Oeuf de Canard, it would be way longer. Also, this dish has nothing to do with France. My husband votes for Duck Egg Supreme. I say only if we can pronounce it suprême.
I know, I know, I know. Sun-dried tomatoes are a un peu 1992, but I guess I’m a child of the 90’s. For years I really didn’t care for sun-dried tomatoes, so I missed out on it the first time around. They say your taste can change over time and in this case it certainly has. It’s hard to imagine not liking them now.
Yesterday was fish share day. We picked up the last 5 lb bag of beautifully fresh native Northern Shrimp of the season from our Community Supported Fishery. Northern shrimp are the only shrimp native to New England and from what I understand, they’re only around in the middle of winter. So this is the end of the line for us until next year. How exciting! What to do, what to do?