Field to Feast: Dill

Fresh dill

When Kasha suggested dill as an ingredient for this week’s Field to Feast challenge, I was stumped. It doesn’t grow well on my deck, so I never have it around and therefore haven’t really experimented with it beyond the occasional pickles or recipes here and there that call for it. So perhaps this post is a little uninspired (salmon & dill? yaaaaawn), but I’ve really been wanting to make my own gravlax for a while and this seemed the perfect opportunity.

Gravlax | Minimally Invasive

I turned to the internet, as always, and most of the recipes I found were pretty similar — salt, sugar, dill and perhaps some spices to shake things up. Keeping with my preference of staying simple the first go-round, I chose to follow Mark Bittman’s recipe with a beautiful Copper River salmon filet I picked up at Fairway.

Gravlax | Minimally Invasive

I don’t know what scared me off of this for so many years because honestly, it couldn’t have been simpler to make. Removing the pin bones was the most tedious part, but with the help of a dedicated pair of tweezers, it took all of three minutes. Then I piled on the cure mix, sprinkled it with a little vodka, and packed on the chopped dill. After that, it’s just a matter of wrapping it in plastic, putting it in a dish covered with a flat surface (I used a tiny cutting board), and weighing it down with cans. And waiting. After two days, a lot of liquid had been extruded into the dish. I unwrapped the salmon, removed a little of the cure, and sliced off a few pieces to try. It was salmon flavor x10, lightly cured and silky on the tongue. I couldn’t be happier with the results of my first experiment. More to follow with added spices…

Gravlax | Minimally Invasive

 

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: Spinach

Kasha and I are back with more Field to Feast posts this week! Head over to The FarmGirl Cooks for more ideas on what to do with what’s in season.

Spinach never was something I ate as a child, so I’m not sure when or where I developed my love for it, but love it I do. And after hardneck garlic, it’s my favorite thing to buy from Bialas Farms at the market. We see it a couple times a year — first in Spring, when I gobble it up after a long winter of the industrial, bagged stuff. Then, after I’ve eaten my weight in summer-ripe tomatoes and corn and think another zucchini might be the death of me, it crops up again when the weather cools down. So by June, I’ve waited the better part of a year for spinach to come back to market and what happens? I’ll tell you what happens. A sinus infection happens! A disgusting sinus infection that sapped my energy and kept me shuffling between the bed (for naps) and sofa (for marathons of Doc Martin and Wallander) for a full week. (Side note: My ass is tired of all the sitting, which seems ridiculous, because aren’t asses made for that very thing? My body craves movement and walking for more than 20 feet at a stretch. When I’m able to do a downward dog again, I have a feeling the angels will sing.)

So that’s why this post is so slim. My nasal passages apologize for the interruption, but promise that next week’s post will be a doozy, so be sure to tune in.

My busy schedule of TV marathons and napping notwithstanding, I DID manage to work up a new spinach recipe this week. I wanted to make gluten-free spanakopita for you, but let’s get real. There’s NO WAY I’d attempt to make my own phyllo dough (gf or otherwise), so I thought spinach turnovers would be an acceptable substitute.

Spinach Turnovers at Minimally Invasive

And they were entirely delicious, if not the same texture as flaky spanakopita. For the pastry, I used the pie crust recipe at Cup4Cup minus the sugar, then adapted the filling from Vegetarian Times. I rolled out the dough to about 1/8″ thickness, then cut out individual turnovers with a 4″ round cutter, which made a nicely-sized turnover to be eaten in a few bites. You could size these up or down without too much of a problem, as long as you adjusted the amount of filling in each. Believe me, what looks like a paltry amount of filling can become a big mess when folding and crimping if you’re not careful. Just a word of warning.

Spinach Turnovers Recipe at Minimally Invasive
Click on the picture to embiggen.

Spinach Turnover at Minimally Invasive

And since everyone (me included) seems to be on a green shake kick lately, I’ve included the one I make for myself nearly every morning. It’s a good baseline to use and produces a very pretty shake. You can always add other fruits or vegetables to it. Just know that strawberries and blueberries, while delicious additions, mean you’ll be drinking a shake the color of a bruise. As long as visuals aren’t that important to you, carry on!

Green Shake Recipe at Minimally Invasive

Click on the picture to embiggen.

This post brought to you by Cefuroxime Axetil, Nasonex and DayQuil.

Recipes below, if you want to copy and paste text instead of referring to an image.

Spinach Turnovers adapted from Cup4Cup and Vegetarian Times

Your favorite double-pie crust recipe (I used this one, minus the sugar.)
8 cups spinach leaves
1 tablespoon garlic confit, or 2 teaspoons olive oil + 1 large garlic clove, minced
1 small onion, finely chopped
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/3 cup feta cheese, finely crumbled1 egg, beaten
Maldon sea salt

Rinse and drain spinach and, with water still clinging to leaves, transfer to large skillet. Cover, and cook over medium-high heat until wilted. Rinse with cold water in a colander, squeeze out liquid, and coarsely chop.

Heat garlic confit (or garlic and olive oil) in a large skillet over medium-low heat. When it starts to sizzle, add onion and cook until softened. Add spinach; cook 2 minutes more. Transfer to bowl and cool.

Stir ricotta and feta cheeses into spinach mixture. Adjust seasoning, if necessary.

Preheat oven to 350˚F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Roll dough to 1/8″ thickness and, using a 4″ round biscuit cutter, cut out as many circles as you can. Remove extra dough and place back in bowl. Put one tablespoon of spinach mixture in the center of dough rounds and wet edges of dough with water. Carefully fold dough in half, pressing out air, and crimp the edges with a fork. Poke holes in the top of the turnovers for air to escape during cooking. Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.

Brush tops of turnovers with beaten egg and sprinkle with Maldon sea salt.

Bake 30 minutes, or until turnovers are golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Green Shake

1/2 cup water
1/3 head romaine
1 handful spinach
2 tablespoons parsley
1 stalk celery
1/2 granny smith apple
1/2 lemon, peeled
1/2 cucumber, seeded
1/2 cup yogurt or 1/2 avocado

In a high-speed blender, combine the first four ingredients(water through parsley). Blend on high speed for 30 seconds. Add remaining fruits and vegetables and blend until combined. Add yogurt, if using, and blend for just a couple of seconds.

Delicious additions:

1/2 frozen banana
strawberries
blueberries
kiwi (if you like a tart shake)
pineapple
1 kale leaf
1 tablespoon chia seeds or flax seed