Field to Feast: Strawberries & Rhubarb, Part II

As much as I love strawberries, I’ll admit that bringing home four pints at one time might have been overkill. Strawberries have such a short shelf life that you have to do something with them pretty quickly or you’ll find your very own science experiment growing in the refrigerator within days. Which is to say we were swimming in desserts last week. In addition to the galette I posted yesterday, I made a crisp (this time with rhubarb!) to use up a good portion of my bounty. We really tore through these desserts, not from fear of spoilage, but just because we couldn’t help ourselves.

And really, who doesn’t love a crisp? I’ve been trying to perfect a gluten-free version for the past few months, but the all-purpose flour blends weren’t working for me at all. Even after cutting back on the butter, they still oozed into a big sugary mass over the fruit instead of, well, crisping nicely on top. Since I’ve had such good luck with almond flour recently, I thought it might be worth a try here. To compensate for the extra fat from the almonds, I halved the butter from my regular crisp topping. And without patting myself too enthusiastically on the back (it’s just a crisp, after all), I want to tell you that this was really, really good. Gil rarely compliments my cooking, but he was over the moon with this one from the first bite, so I’d say it was a win-win —  a gluten-free dessert that’s marginally healthier than the original (if you don’t count the sugar) and delicious.

Gluten-Free Crisp Recipe at Minimally Invasive

I may have to reconsider my status as a non-baker if this lucky dessert streak keeps going!

Hah, who am I kidding? You know I’ll always prefer imprecise, improvisational “cooking” over baking.

Unripe Strawberry at Minimally Invasive

Learn about growing strawberries and check out the delicious Strawberry-Rhubarb Sauce at The FarmGirl Cooks!

Strawberry-Rhubarb-Almond Crisp

I used finely-ground almond flour in this recipe, but I think it would be okay to substitute flour with a coarser grind here, like Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour. Of course, I haven’t tested it so it’s just speculation, but if you try it, please let me know what you think. Also, if your berries are very sweet, you’ll need to cut back on the sugar in the fruit base. The strawberries I used here were moderately sweet, but I know they’ll be even more sugary in the weeks to come. 

Fruit Base

3 1/2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces (Discard any leaves and trim stringy layers from thick stalks.)
3 cups strawberries, stemmed and sliced
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, optional
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch kosher salt

Topping

1/2 cup finely-ground almond flour, packed
3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch kosher salt
1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, mix rhubarb and strawberries with sugar. Macerate 10 minutes, then mix well with almond extract, optional balsamic vinegar, cornstarch and salt, and let sit for an additional 20 minutes.

Combine almond flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in sliced almonds and toss until evenly distributed.

Pour fruit into a 2-quart casserole dish or into individual oven-safe serving dishes. If using individual dishes, fill almost to the top with fruit base. Spoon the topping over the fruit. Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes or until topping is golden brown.

Field to Feast: Strawberries & Rhubarb, Part I

To be perfectly honest, rhubarb won’t make an appearance until the second post, but I hope you’ll forgive me, because today’s strawberry galette is a doozy on its own. And that was a surprise to me, because I usually find cooked strawberries a bit underwhelming on their own.

Galettes are one of my favorite desserts to make when spring rolls around because they’re incredibly easy and are supposed to look like crap RUSTIC, imperfection being a key selling point of this dessert! And honestly, I need no particular encouragement to make my baked goods look RUSTIC and HOMEY!

Gluten-Free Strawberry Galette at Minimally Invasive

See? RUSTIC! 

I’ve always been happy enough with the crust I use for galettes; it’s shot through with cornmeal, which gives it some heft and a really pleasing crunch that goes so, so well with whatever filling I’m using. This time around, I did swap out AP flour for Cup4Cup because I bake gluten-free now, but it worked perfectly.

My relationship with fruit fillings has always been a bit complicated. I like the individual berries to still have some form after baking — mushiness doesn’t do it for me — while tossing them with flour seems to muddle things on the visual and flavor fronts. I honestly didn’t think there was anything to be done about the flour because the juice that develops during baking has to go somewhere, but I was wrong to think there wasn’t another approach. Oh, so wrong. While looking around for some general amount of flour to use on the strawberries, I found a really interesting way around it; using ground almonds mixed with flour and sugar as a base layer, then topping it with sugared berries.

Gluten-Free Strawberry Galette at Minimally Invasive

You can see above how the berries still glisten with sugar (and with balsamic vinegar, one of my special additions that really adds some complexity to the dessert) before baking. I nibbled on so many of these before putting the galette in the oven that I’m surprised the pastry was still filled by the time it started baking.

Gluten-Free Strawberry Galette at Minimally Invasive

But the minimal amount of self-control I exhibited paid off with a dessert I’ll be making again and again while strawberries are still in market. The ground almond layer handled the juices like a champ and kept the strawberries looking and tasting exactly as they should, even after baking.

You can use any combination of berries you like in a galette, so if strawberries aren’t your thing, maybe blueberries, raspberries, blackberries or even cherries would be more to your liking. Or maybe rhubarb. Or later in the year, maybe try apple or pear…

Learn about growing strawberries and check out the delicious Strawberry-Rhubarb Sauce at The FarmGirl Cooks!

Strawberry Galette adapted from Cooking Light and Laura Calder/Cooking Channel

The ground almond layer added a very subtle almond flavor, which I loved. If you want more of it, use the optional almond extract.

Pastry Crust
1 3/4 cups Cup4Cup flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup buttermilk
Turbinado sugar, for dusting

Filling
1/2 cup ground almonds, lightly toasted
1 tablespoon Cup4Cup flour
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
2 pints strawberries, hulled and halved if large
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract, optional

To prepare pastry crust, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients (through salt) in a food processor; pulse two times. Add butter to flour mixture; pulse 4 to 5 times or until mixture resembles coarse meal. With processor on, slowly add buttermilk through food chute; process just until dough forms a ball. Gently press dough into a 4-inch circle on plastic wrap; wrap tightly and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Unwrap dough and place on a sheet of parchment paper, dusting with flour if dough feels a little tacky to the touch. Cover with another sheet of parchment paper and roll dough into a 15-inch circle. Carefully peel off top piece of parchment and slide dough with bottom sheet of parchment onto a baking sheet.

To prepare filling, whisk together almonds, Cup4Cup flour and 1/4 cup sugar. Spoon onto prepared pastry, leaving a 2-3-inch gap around the edges. Combine strawberries with 1 tablespoon of sugar, balsamic vinegar and optional almond extract, then spoon carefully onto the almond flour mixture.

Using a bench scraper, carefully fold edges of pastry up and over the strawberry filling. If you see any rips, pinch to seal. Lightly sprinkle edges of dough with turbinado sugar.

Bake at 350°F for 50 minutes to one hour, or until pastry is golden brown and strawberry juices are bubbling. Carefully slide galette still on parchment paper onto a rack. Cool to room temperature before serving.

Field to Feast: Green Garlic & Radishes

Instead of the Farmers’ Market Feast I’ve run for the past few summers, I’ll be doing things a little differently around here this year, partnering with my friend Kasha Bialas of The FarmGirl Cooks. In fact, I’ll just let her introduce you to our new endeavor:

Once upon a time there was a food photographer in New Jersey who loved to shop at farmers’ markets. This photographer was an avid cook and blogger who took advantage of the local bounty, cooking for herself, her husband and her two loving pups.  It just so happened that the farmer from whom she purchased vegetables, a single mom born and raised on a veggie farm in New York, was also an avid cook and blogger. What started out as a very businesslike transaction over radishes and onions has blossomed into a friendship based upon food, its preparations and the photographing of the results.

Join Amy of Minimally Invasive and Kasha of The FarmGirl Cooks, as they take you on a culinary journey documenting their challenge to create unique dishes using the same in-season ingredients. Because there’s nothing more beautiful than an artfully arranged plate of simply-prepared ingredients at the peak of freshness, the primary ingredients in each pair of dishes will be chosen based upon what looks best growing in the fields and purchased at local farmers markets. Amy’s and Kasha’s goal is to show readers that incorporating seasonal foods into daily cooking is quite effortless and can have stunning results. Please follow along as our chefs bring you the season’s best foods prepared in creative and delicious ways!

Combining the first and second weeks of the summer market into one mega-post, we’re kicking things off with green garlic…

Green Garlic @ Minimally Invasive

and radishes.

Radishes @ Minimally Invasive

In my excitement over finally (FINALLY!) having fresh garlic, I used it in all of the old standards — sautéeing it for asparagus pizza, or serving it with bacon and asparagus topped with a farm-fresh duck egg for breakfast.

Asparagus, Garlic and Eggs @ Minimally Invasive

But after a week of gorging on asparagus, I was ready to try something new. A few years ago, I made garlic confit for a triple-garlic pizza and thought it might be an interesting way to use this green garlic. So I chopped up everything but the roots of the garlic, threw in some black peppercorns, added olive oil to cover, and let the dish bathe in a 300-degree oven for two hours. (I made A LOT, so it took a while to cook down to a soft, slumpy mess.) The house smelled nothing short of amazing as the garlic was cooking, by the way. Check out the link above to make garlic confit of your own.

Green Garlic Chopped @ Minimally Invasive

The confit wasn’t falling apart or jammy the way whole garlic cloves get with the same treatment, but it was divine in its own right; in fact, I’m embarrassed to tell you how much of it I ate straight from a spoon, sprinkled with a little salt, my brain working on how to incorporate it in recipes.

The first dish that presented itself was, again, asparagus, which I blanched in very salty boiling water, then marinated at room temperature with a copious amount of garlic confit and its oil. Just before serving, I sprinkled the dish with finishing salt and added a big grind of fresh black pepper. Anything more would’ve been gilding the lily.

And after two days in the refrigerator, it’s even better than when I first made it:

Asparagus with Green Garlic Confit @ Minimally Invasive

Then I used some confit to mellow out the radish green pesto I’d prepared as a topping for marinated, grilled purple potatoes. On its own, the radish pesto was quite bitter, as you’d expect from such spicy greens and the handful of walnuts I used, but with about 1/3 cup of garlic confit whirred into the mixture, it became something entirely different — mellow, silky, and completely satisfying.

Confit and Pesto @ Minimally Invasive

After the pesto was made, I was left with a bunch of juicy radishes. While my favorite way to eat them is raw with a little anchovy butter, this is a cooking blog, so I got to work on a recipe. I began by halving and tossing them with a little olive oil:

Sliced Radishes @ Minimally Invasive

Then roasting and tossing them with a brown-butter miso glaze, all the while liberally sampling and adjusting here and there until it tasted juuuuust right.

Miso Glazed Radishes @ Minimally Invasive

It’s so simple to make delicious meals this time of year with farm-fresh ingredients. Attempting any overly involved recipe is almost a shame at the start of the season, when our winter-deprived taste buds are crying out for something new; it’s all so delicious when treated with respect and a light touch. I can’t guarantee I’ll stick to that philosophy with every dish, but it’s a great place to start.

Be sure to check out Kasha’s post on green garlic and asparagus and drool over her gorgeous risotto!

Brown Butter and Miso-Glazed Radishes

1 bunch radishes, cleaned and trimmed with 1/2-inch of greens still attached
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons white miso

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Halve radishes vertically, then toss them with the olive oil and a big pinch of salt. Pour onto a greased baking sheet and turn radishes cut side down. Roast for 20 minutes, or until a knife slips easily into a radish.

While the radishes are roasting, heat the butter in a small skillet over medium heat until the milk solids turn golden brown and develop a nutty smell. Remove from heat and add maple syrup and lemon juice, stirring to combine. Allow mixture to cool for a few minutes, then stir in the miso until the mixture becomes a smooth paste.

Toss the radishes with the miso mixture in a big bowl and serve immediately. They’re also great at room temperature, if you want to serve them in a buffet setting.

From the Market: Stone Fruit Edition

Stone Fruit Edition

“You’re gonna get the shits.”

It was the late 70s and I was maybe 10 years old — 10 being my default age for somewhat indistinct childhood memories — and the wind was whipping my hair into a rat’s nest. It was summer and I was riding in the back of a pickup truck with a group of kids, heading back to our meeting place after an afternoon of picking peaches. Oh, there was an adult riding with us who was there in a supervisory capacity, because there has to be ONE responsible grown-up around when you’re transporting a bunch of kids IN THE BACK OF A PICKUP TRUCK. No, we weren’t day laborers or or migrant peach-pickers, but a group of Mennonites gathered for a weekend pig roast in Mississippi to celebrate the dedication of a new church building. I suppose the adults wanted to get us out of the way and thought we’d burn off some energy gathering fruit.

I don’t remember the activity of picking itself, but the trip home is firmly planted in my memory. As I rode IN THE BACK OF THE PICKUP TRUCK, feeling the exhilaration of flying down the road while smiling with my mouth closed to prevent accidental bug ingestion, I saw those sacks of peaches before me and was overcome with a powerful peach-lust, the likes of which I’d never felt before. The scent was overwhelming, the skins so soft! I almost could imagine how Roberto Benigni felt about those pumpkins in Night on Earth! So I did what any kid would do; I devoured many peaches and started a full-scale peach-eating frenzy among my compatriots, complete with pit-spitting from the truck. I can only imagine the extent of the chromosomal damage done by eating so many unwashed fruits sprayed with who-knows-what insecticide was popular back then. After seeing me pluck one peach after another from the sack, the lone adult interjected that I miiiight possibly be concerned about my bowels later on if I continued (not a word about chromosomal damage, though). Lucky for me, there was no grand shitting incident then or later at the pig roast, but that experience did inaugurate my life-long love of peaches and, by extension, all stone fruits.

So when I saw the bounty of organic stone fruits at the Orchards of Concklin booth at the Ringwood Farmers’ Market, I got a little giddy. But my eyes are bigger than my stomach, and I came home with far too many fruits to eat on their own before they spoiled. Good thing there’s no shortage of recipes for such a problem at this time of year. I remembered saving this grilled kale salad from Bon Appetit to one of my Pinterest boards, and it turned out to be a perfect lunch. Grilling kale is nothing new, but the tartsweet plums, the creamy goat’s milk ricotta from Edgwick Farm, and honeyed balsamic vinaigrette shone against the background of smoky kale and set this apart from a standard salad preparation.

gluten-free

While I was grilling the kale, I cut the rest of the fruit in half, oiled it lightly, then tossed it on the grate to cook so it would last through the week. It made a great, simple dessert right away — an assortment of grilled fruit with more of that luscious goat’s milk ricotta drizzled with a little aged balsamic vinegar (the sweet stuff, not the grocery-store variety), fresh thyme and truffle honey.

gluten-free

Need. More. Of. This. Better add it to the list for this weekend.

gluten-free

With the rest of the grilled fruit, I made a mixed-fruit butter. The skins slipped off after grilling, so I threw the fruit halves in a saucepan with a little sugar and a splash of brandy, then cooked them down till the sauce was thick. To get it velvety smooth, I puréed it in my food processor for a bit. I’m not too proud to admit it’s pretty satisfying just spooned from the jar, but if you make this, save a little, because it’s stellar with pork chops. And eat to your heart’s content — I’m sure you won’t have any, er, troubles.

From the Market: Think Pink Edition

Strawberry & Rhubarb Smoothie with Lemon Basil | Minimally Invasive

When the unrelenting greigeness of the winter landscape weighs heavily on my soul, especially so in March when my internal calendar — still set to Southern seasonal rotations, even after all these years — says the world should be warm and bursting with life, I dream of color. By May, our yard is awash in yellow forsythia and tiny purple blooms in the grass — probably weeds, but I don’t care — and I begin to recover. Still, the really vibrant colors don’t come until later, and not until the Farmers’ Market starts up again around Memorial Day do I bother to buy fruit. There’s just no comparison between the beautiful but insipid berries you see at the market and the beautiful and flavorful ones you get locally. (The strawberries taste like strawberries, and the snozzberries taste like snozzberries!) So last week I decided to think pink.

Rhubarb Syrup and Strawberry & Rhubarb Smoothie with Lemon Basil | Minimally Invasive

Though rhubarb seems to be long gone by now, I still have a bottle of lovely rhubarb syrup in the fridge that mixes will with all sorts of things, and is still a classic with strawberries. I blended up a little shake to get me through the morning — strawberries, rhubarb syrup, lemon basil, goat’s milk yogurt and ice. Nothing fancy, but so delicious and fresh, I feel healthier just remembering it.

Strawberry & Rhubarb Smoothie with Lemon Basil | Minimally Invasive

Honestly, couldn’t you just have a glass of that right now? Aaaahhhh…

But one can only drink so many strawberries and they don’t last forever, not even close, so I had to come up with something else for them. Lucky for me (and all of us, really), Deb at Smitten Kitchen posted a recipe for strawberries & cream biscuits a few weeks ago.
Gluten-Free Strawberries & Cream Biscuits | Minimally Invasive
whimper

I converted the original recipe to gluten-free, using Jules Gluten-Free AP Flour. Because the last batch of biscuits I made with this flour blend turned out fairly dry, I played with the proportions of ingredients, adding more butter (two extra tablespoons) and cream (an extra 1/4 cup). Like that’s ever a bad thing. With all of the extra liquid, they had to bake a while longer to turn golden brown, but they eventually did, after about 25 minutes. The tweaks certainly took care of the dryness, but I think there’s something about the GF flours that kept the juices from spilling out of the biscuits. The cornstarch, maybe? Not that I’m complaining; they were awfully tasty anyway.

Gluten-Free Strawberries & Cream Biscuits | Minimally Invasive

But boy, do they ever not reheat well. Just a warning for you.

Gluten-Free Strawberries & Cream Biscuits | Minimally Invasive

Gluten-Free Strawberries & Cream Biscuits | Minimally Invasive

I think we still have a few weeks of strawberries before they’re gone for another year. I fully intend to enjoy these ephemeral beauties until then and store the memories for the long winter ahead.

Strawberries | Minimally Invasive

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “From the Market: Think Pink Edition”

From the Market: Burgers & Whiskey Edition

with fontina and steak sauce
Grass-fed beef from Snoep Winkel Farm, Curly-leaf lettuce from Bialas Farms

C’est fini!

I took the last shot for the cookbook earlier this afternoon, and not a moment too soon. A house-shaking thunderclap just sent poor Ru scurrying to the guest bedroom and the skies are so dark that I couldn’t have gotten another good natural-light shot anyway. Ahhhh…it’s a great feeling to wrap up such a lengthy project!

The burger was my reward for squeezing in an extra shot yesterday. A couple of the ingredients were extras from the recipes I was working on (out-of-season tomatoes, something I’d never buy for myself, and fontina cheese), so I threw together a burger for lunch. Talk about luscious! I tossed a little garlic and copious black pepper into well-salted ground beef and cooked the patties to medium. Gary & Basia‘s grass-fed beef is so good, it really doesn’t need much fussing, but I was feeling a little indulgent and topped it with quite a lot of fontina and some steak sauce before digging in. I ate so much I nearly convinced myself I was having a heart attack. Hah! Scary, but so good, I’ll probably do it again because I just don’t learn.

rye, cognac, St. Germain

THIS. This amazing creature is the Carré Reprisé, a recipe I found while searching for drinks with rye and St. Germain, which fight for top honors on my list of favorite boozes. Normally, I’m not a coganc drinker and wouldn’t have it on hand, but I still had most of a bottle in the pantry from a shoot last summer (told you I don’t drink the stuff!), so I gave it a try and was well-rewarded for stepping out of my comfort zone. It’s a great drink for a cool, rainy day when you don’t have much to do; at the very least, it’s something you want to savor. Ferociously smooth with a slight bright finish from the lemon twist, I’ll certainly keep this in my arsenal. (And in keeping with my struggle to eat as locally as possible, I made it with Tuthilltown Spirits Rye, so yeah…points for that or something.)

But no rest for the wicked. Now it’s time to do a little more processing so I can ship the photos off to the author tomorrow! Hope you all had a great weekend; I’ll be back next week with more goodies from the market!

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “From the Market: Burgers & Whiskey Edition”

From the Market: Memorial Day Edition

Gluten-free recipe from Home Cooking with Jean-Georges
Asparagus from Orchards of Concklin

Well, hello! It’s good to be back from my extended self-imposed exile. It’s a long, tedious story that involves dealing with a vexatious situation for the past two months with no end in sight. Also? Mid-life crisis and the eternal question of what do I really want to do with the rest of my life all tied up in a nice, black bow. My heart’s telling me food photography is the way to go: I love it and already have made some money at it without self-promoting too crazily, but is it something I can really do as my almost-sole source of income? Maybe it’s time for a leap of faith.

*****************************************

Last weekend marked the start of our weekly farmers’ market in Ringwood, which also means the start of my 2012 Farmers’ Market Feast series. Above, you see my first local (delicious, amazing, worth-waiting-all-winter-for) asparagus of the season treated very simply using an idea from Home Cooking with Jean-Georges, one of my new favorite cookbooks: toss blanched asparagus with a tiny bit of butter instead of olive oil and sprinkle liberally with parmesan shavings and lemon zest. I added a little truffle salt and turned it into breakfast with the addition of a sunny side-up egg, and it really lightened my mood.

gluten-free
Spinach & radishes from Bialas Farms, strawberries from Orchards of Concklin, salad greens from Nina’s Red Barn Farm

Then I got a little creative for lunch Sunday afternoon. I was far too sweatystanky to bother cooking with any form of heat because our air conditioner is not only merely dead, it’s really most sincerely dead. The panting and lethargy going on in our house was ridiculous, and it wasn’t just the dogs this time. So I made a fresh version of a summer salad roll with spinach & salad greens, fresh mint, peppery radishes, green onions, and the sweetest strawberries you can imagine rolled up in a softened rice paper wrapper. I went with a spicy fish sauce-based dipping sauce that provided a perfect salty accent to the rolls. Sure it would’ve been a lot easier just to have a salad, but where’s the fun in that? This could be a nice treat to serve at the start of a dinner party or to bring to a cookout, provided you keep the rolls covered with a damp paper towel.

This probably doesn’t seem like much cooking for three days, but I’m doing another cookbook shoot on weekends. It’s a lot of work, but a good time doing what I love — cooking and taking pictures. I’m not sure of the release date yet, but I’ll certainly keep you posted.

And on the cookbook front, I can’t let the unofficial start of summer go by without telling you about Grilling Vegan Style by John Schlimm. I spent a bit of last summer shooting it and just got to see the fruits of my labors a few weeks ago, just in time for grilling season. So exciting. If you’ve spent any time here at all, you know I’m pretty far from vegan, but these recipes were delightful. It’s a lot of fun to be able to eat your work at the end of a long day.


Grilled Corn on the Cob with Piquant Sauce (left) and Shiny Happy Poppers (right)

A great thing about John’s recipes is that little twist he adds that elevates them beyond normal everyday fare.


Two-Faced Avocado Sandwiches (left) and Mojito Mojo (right)

I also love the creative names and funny introductions he gives to each recipe.


Romaine Holiday (left) and Tattooed Watermelon Salad (right)

I’d never HEARD of grilled watermelon till I shot this book. Now it’s all I want to eat, and I never really liked watermelon at all.


Presto Pesto Lasagna

No need to turn on the oven and heat up the house when you’re making a vegan lasagna. It’s the perfect summer recipe!


S’More is Always Better!

How is it possible that I never had s’mores until I shot this book?! They might just be the perfect dessert and there really isn’t a meal that isn’t made better by a s’more finish. I speak from experience. (Vegan marshmallows and graham crackers can be a little tough to find, but many Whole Foods carry the Sweet & Sara brand, which are virtually indistinguishable from the animal-based thing. In fact, I might give the nod to the vegan grahams, so you definitely should give this a try.)

That’s a Wrap

Summer’s over and so is the photography portion of the cookbook project I spent my weekends on. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate 1) completing the work, 2) the unofficial start of fall and 3) football season than with a big pot of beef & lamb chili and an over-the-top dessert. It’s a retread of the Vanilla Roasted Pears with Amaretto Mascarpone I made earlier in the year, but made this time with the courage of my convictions. And let me tell you, espresso cream is in no way a bad (or overpowering) thing.

Seckel and Bartlett Pears

I had no real plans to go with such a fall feast, but the pears at the farmers’ market called to me Saturday.

I was powerless against them.

Fall dessert

Wicked, wicked pears.

Decadent fall dessert

Now please pardon me while I shovel more of this into my piehole.

Continue reading “That’s a Wrap”

Steak & vegetables. And more vegetables.

all good things

Grass-fed & -finished beef with red chimichurri over a raw kale salad. My Paleo lunch did not suck in any way. At all. Big thanks to the folks at Walnut Grove Farm who made this gorgeous bit of sirloin possible. (They’re only at the market once a month, so I’ll be stocking up next time I see them. They’re a good source for leaf lard, too, once I get through the three cups of rendered lard still sitting in my fridge. It’ll be a while.)

The steak was so juicy and beefy, it didn’t really need the chimichurri, but I’d already made it a couple of hours before, just in case. You never know. It’s really my favorite sauce for steak, with bold flavors that somehow don’t overpower (or get overpowered by) beef, but it’s great on potatoes, eggs and probably a lot of other dishes I haven’t yet thought of, too.

vegetables

Like many chimichurris, this one uses lots of parsley. I stopped my preparations to take a picture because, really, doesn’t this look like a bouquet? You could wrap the base in florist’s tape and ribbon and sell this to a bride for an outrageous price.

vegetarian breakfast/brunch

I was beginning to feel a little left out of the annual “What am I going to DO with all of this zucchini/squash?” discussion, so I picked up a metric shit-ton at the market. I already had plans for most of it, though — Summer Squash with Baked Eggs from The Kitchn. This is one of those recipes, like that amazing ratatouille from a few years ago, that becomes so much more than the sum of its parts, helped in no small measure by a liberal dose of smoked paprika. I plan to make this a regular feature for the next few weeks, while summer produce is still around.

Continue reading “Steak & vegetables. And more vegetables.”

From the Market — Week 5

Because it's cherry season!

Gather ye cherries while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying…

Unlike the apple, which you can’t miss because it won’t leave, the cherry is ephemeral, making its arrival much more eagerly anticipated. I’ve been seeing them piled up on fruit carts around the city for the past month or so, but I can’t bear the thought of random street germs wafting over my fruit, so I managed (just barely) to hold off until I could be sure to get local, juicy, pesticide- and city stank-free versions at the market.

Though cherry season is fleeting, we’re blessed with an abundance during that time, which means I couldn’t decide between varieties, so they all came home with me — Queen Anne, sour cherries, and sweet. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the sour cherries other use them for cherry soup, so I googled and got a great idea from Chowhound: I’m now the proud owner of a jar of bourbon-soaked sour cherries, which will be just the thing with a Manhattan for old bourbon-soaked me.

The rest of these babies went into a jam. It was my first attempt at recreating my current (expensive, Whole Foods) favorite — cherry-strawberry-almond jam — and it came pretty close, I’m pleased to say, especially because I just winged it. Though the agar agar I used as a thickening agent went way beyond the call of duty and lent the jam more of a Jell-o texture than the loose jam I wanted, whenever I glanced at the packet I was happy enough to reminisce about my high school biology teacher discussing petri dishes lined with “aaaagah aaaagah” before she cut into a dead frog or fetal pig.

Anyway, after that lovely image, if you want the recipe for this jam, stick around. I’ll give it another go this weekend.