Monday, November 29, 2010

Winter CSA Cooking: Pumpkin Roll with Ginger Cream Cheese Filling

I know, the time for pumpkin kind of ends with Thanksgiving really, doesn't it? Well, there's a small obsession with it here in this house so we'll just forge on here with one more pumpkin recipe. I've done cupcakes, muffins, cakes, pasta, soup, and pies, but on this round, like with the Pumpkin Pie Bread Pudding, I wanted something that didn't appear often in my house.

In the past I would shy away from the roll cake. Any kind, I wouldn't make it. Several years back I had one pretty much fall apart on me at a key moment of baking for a crowd and didn't really want to experience that again. I had time this morning, however, so why not give it another run, eh? I'm glad I did. Several years filled with a lot more baking experience than I had when I first tried to bake a roll cake, served me well. This is fabulous.

You can create the frosting with fresh ginger as well if you have it on-hand. I love fresh ginger, but I'm also a huge advocate in this blog for creating things with what you may have in the pantry or the fridge so this frosting version uses ground ginger and crystallized ginger instead of the fresh.

Speaking of refrigerators, I have exciting news. I was drawn in by those shiny Black Friday fliers and somehow convinced the husband that we should finally ditch (or re-purpose) the side-by-side fridge that came with our house, which I hate. I can't even fit a pizza box in that thing (and yes, we eat frozen pizza from time-to-time in this house, everything in moderation folks). So, the GE stainless steel french-door bottom freezer we've been looking at for a while was on sale for a smashing price. We bought it. Isn't it pretty? In the next couple of weeks it will appear at our door to my screams of joy. I'm officially ecstatic about a new fridge. I call it the first step in what will be a slow, but sure, kitchen renovation here in the bungalow.

So enough of my awesome find and onto the Pumpkin Roll!

Pumpkin Roll with Ginger Cream Cheese Filling
Roll adapted from Straight from the Farm
Frosting from 101 Cookbooks
Serves 10-12

2/3 cup pumpkin puree (best if fresh, instructions are here)
3 eggs, room temperature (this is super important for your roll. If they're cold, place in a bowl and then place bowl in a lukewarm water bath until the chill is taken off)
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda (or 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, both work)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (heaping)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (fresh would be awesome)
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
pinch of allspice
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional, and I did not use)

8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 1/2 cups confectioner's (icing) sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 375 and prepare a jelly roll pan (or like I did, a baking pan with a 1/2 inch lip around all sides) by lining it with parchment (not wax, I always find it burns in the oven) paper and spraying it with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs and sugar. Add pumpkin and mix well. Over a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking soda (and powder if using), cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Slowly add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients until dry mixture is just incorporated.

Pour the batter out onto your prepared pan, using a spatula to make sure it reaches all sides and is even. Bake for 12-15 minutes until a finger pressed lightly on the top does not get covered in cake (and I found, bounced back slightly). It's important not to over bake here or you won't get a good roll. Now, spread out a clean kitchen towel and sprinkle it with confectioner's sugar. Invert the baking pan onto the towel, allow the cake to fall out. Carefully remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake (working inward from the corners). Now, while the cake is still hot, roll it up in the kitchen towel and allow to cool like that for 20 minutes.

While the cake is cooling, make the filling. Using an electric mixer (stand or hand-held), cream together the butter and cream cheese until creamy. With mixer on low, slowly add the confectioner's sugar a 1/2 cup at a time until completely gone. Increase speed on mixer to medium-high and beat until fluffy. Add crystallized ginger, ground ginger, cinnamon and salt and beat until well mixed.

Once cake has cooled, unroll it from the kitchen towel and spread the entirety of the frosting evenly over the cake. Working from one side, proceed to slowly roll the cake up. Cut off each end to make it nice and pretty.

It's fabulous for Thanksgiving or a little morning snack while Black Friday shopping. So, I bought my new fridge, did you guys score any deals? Pin It

Friday, November 26, 2010

Winter CSA Cooking - Pumpkin Pie Bread Pudding

I know, I know, you're probably saying to yourself, "really? more pumpkin?". It's true. I, however, put together two great recipes for Thanksgiving that I just feel the need to share with you. Plus,  you might have some pumpkin puree left, or maybe, like I did, you have pumpkin pie filling leftover.

I've made my share of Fresh Pumpkin Pies over the last month or so. The husband wanted more, but I wanted to be cute with them. See that photo to your left, I made little mini ones. They were a yummy little success, but I needed more dough than I had made and was too lazy to make any more. They were a little shallow in the middle so not as much pumpkin pie filling as I would have liked made it into the center. The result was a whole lots of pumpkin pie filling (with the eggs and cream) leftover.

Then I thought about it, the pumpkin pie filling basically has everything in it that you'd make bread pudding with, especially those eggs and the cream. I knew I had a "on-the-way-out" loaf of fabulous multi-grain bread from our farm share in the fridge. So I cut that baby up into cubes, threw it in a casserole dish and magic was made. This. Stuff. Is. Good. I mean, I'd make it again over and over on purpose. Paired with a big scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, it's simply amazing. I think I might cover it in ice cream AND caramel sauce for my next bowl of it!

Pumpkin Pie Bread Pudding
Serves 6-8

5-6 slices good quality bread (I used a multi-grain), cubed

Pumpkin Pie Filling (from Cooks Illustrated)
2 cups (16 ounces) fresh pumpkin
1 cup (7 ounces) packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup milk (whole is recommended, I've used 1% as well)
4 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a casserole or baking dish with cooking spray, put your bread cubes in there, spreading them out to cover the whole bottom, set dish aside.

In a food processor, process pumpkin, dark brown sugar, spices, and salt about 1 minute until combined. Transfer pumpkin mixture to a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a sputtering simmer over medium-high heat. Cook pumpkin until shiny, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes.

Whisk the heavy cream and milk into the pumpkin mixture, and bring to a bare simmer. Process the eggs in the food processor until yolks and whites are just combined. With the motor running, pour half of the pumpkin mixture back into the processor through the feed tube. Stop and add the remaining pumpkin. Process 30 seconds until combined.

Take pumpkin pie filling and pour, evenly, over bread cubes in your baking dish. Throw that piece of heaven in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until the bread springs back lightly from a touch. Pin It

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Winter CSA Cooking: Sausage, Kale, and Bean Soup (and Brussels Sprouts Salad!)

I have a new love affair. Actually, I have two. Kale and brussels sprouts are on my mind this week. In preparation for the big Thanksgiving feast (and my comfort food binge this weekend), I wanted something healthy, something I wouldn't feel bad about in between the weekend and the holiday. What I came up with is an easy weeknight soup that can be modified just about any way you want. I used kale in this hearty soup, but you could easily use any other green, or broccoli, or pretty much any other vegetable you think would go well. This is one of those soups that if you have a CSA share like I do, you can get away with dumping in whatever leftovers you might have at the end of the week and clear our that produce bin.

I mentioned I'm also in love with brussels sprouts this week. One of my favorite food bloggers, Karen Covey, is responsible for this love. Karen writes "Gourmet Recipes for One" and she created what's now one of my favorite recipes of all time for the little green guys - Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad. That's the salad to your left, isn't it beautiful? It's easily adaptable as well. I didn't have cranberries, or blue cheese, or arugula so I messed with it, instead using Parmesan cheese and napa cabbage that I had on hand. The star of this salad are those sweet roasted sprouts, you have to make this one.

The pairing of this salad and soup is fabulous and a perfect way to lead into Thanksgiving or recover form it, when you finally get sick of turkey. Either way, Happy Thanksgiving!

Sausage, Kale, and Bean Soup
4-6 servings

2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
3 links hot Italian Turkey Sausage (or regular, or chicken sausage), removed from casings
5 small shallots, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 bunch kale, chopped roughly
32 oz chicken stock or broth (if you use low-sodium, adjust salt to taste)
1 cup water 
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups cannellini beans (roughly 15oz can if using canned)

Warm one teaspoon olive oil in a heavy-bottomed dutch oven over medium heat. Add sausage and proceed to brown, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon along the way. When sausage is nicely browned, transfer to a paper-towel lined plate and set aside.

In the same dutch oven (still on medium heat), add a teaspoon of olive oil, and cook shallots and garlic until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Now, push the shallots/garlic to the side of the dutch oven, add a splash of chicken broth and proceed to deglaze the bottom of that dutch oven, getting all those yummy leftover sausage bits into the mixture here. Once bottom of the pan is deglazed, add kale and red pepper flakes, tossing to coat in shallots and garlic. Cook kale until it decreases in size, about 5-6 minutes.

Get that sausage you have sitting there and put it back into the dutch oven.  You now can now add the rest of your chicken stock and water and salt and pepper to taste. Bring entire mixture to a boil and then right back down to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes and add your beans. Allow to simmer on the stove for another 10 minutes (20 minutes total) and serve piping hot with a little bit of Parmesan cheese on top. Pin It

Monday, November 22, 2010

Winter CSA Cooking - Cottage Pie

The house gets dark at 4:30 in the afternoon these days. Cozy sweaters have replaced the thin ones of fall. Storm windows have replaced the screens on the windows. Mittens are appearing in the entryway of the house. The time for comfort is here, winter is sitting on our doorstep.

The husband and I, we're homebodies. Once the temperature drops, so does our motivation to leave the cozy confines of our little bungalow. Don't get us wrong, we love a good meal out at the local pub or a special meal out at a new place. Our travels often revolve around menus and restaurants. Truth be told, however, our favorite meals are ones shared on a weekend night, at home, together with the pugs, and a bottle of red wine.

Saturday nights in the winter also means Hockey Night in Canada in our house. Yes, we live in New England, but the husband hails from near Toronto, Ontario and spent 10 years in Vancouver, British Columbia before moving here to Massachusetts to be with me. NHL Network here in the States carries the first game of Hockey Night in Canada (usually the Toronto Maple Leafs game, my husband's team). So on wintertime Saturday nights, I like to make a cozy meal here at home in my PJ's and settle in with some wine and enjoy a quiet night with the husband and dogs.

This week's comfort fare satisfied a week-long craving for Cottage Pie. Some of you may look at this and say, "isn't that really Shepherd's Pie?". Actually, when made with ground beef (which I still prefer to ground lamb), it's really Cottage Pie. The best part about a meat pie? You can basically put whatever leftover vegetables you have in it. I used up carrots, peas, green beans and potatoes in this dish. Greens or root vegetables could be added as well. Although I used my leftover turnips in another Turnip Gratin since the husband likes them so much. Cottage pie recipes are easy to find out there, but the challenge is finding one that really produces flavorful meat. Too many of them are bland - this one is not one of those recipes.

Cottage Pie
Serves 6-8

1 pound potatoes (skinned if you don't have a ricer)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 1/4 pound ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
6 tablespoons butter (divided into 4 and 2)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
salt and pepper
3/4 cup half and half
1 cup carrots, diced
3/4 cup green beans, chopped
1/2 cup peas
3/4 cup cheddar, shredded

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place potatoes in a large pot, cover with cold water and cook until fork-tender over medium-high heat, about 30 minutes.

While potatoes are cooking, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a large skillet, add ground beef and brown. Drain off any excess fat and add onion and garlic to the skillet, cooking for 2-3 minutes. Now you can add the dry mustard and the Worcestershire Sauce and stir to coat all the beef. Push the ground beef mixture to one side of skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter and add flour, whisking together to create a little roux. Whisk beef broth into roux area of the pan, once combined, stir into beef mixture. Allow everything to come to a simmer and reduce down a bit, about 7-10 minutes. Once reduced, add tomato paste and stir to combine, keep warm over low heat.

Meanwhile, take the cooked potatoes, drain, and if not skinned, pass through a ricer back into the now-empty pot they cooked in. Take the 4 tablespoons of butter, melt it, and then add to potatoes along with half and half and salt to taste.

Take a baking dish (9-inch deep pie, or casserole dish) and pour beef mixture in, and spread with a spatula to cover the bottom. Now, add all of your fresh vegetables as the second layer and finally spreading the mashed potatoes over the top as the last layer.

Place into oven on top of a baking sheet to catch any spillover. Bake for 25 minutes until top of mashed potatoes are golden. Sprinkle cheddar over the top and bake for an extra 5-7 minutes until cheese is melted. Take out of oven and allow it to sit for 5 minutes before serving. Pin It

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Winter CSA Cooking - Catching up

That's my stalk of brussel sprouts from the farm share this week. I love the look of the little sprouts on the stalk. Can food be cute? I think so.

It's been quite a week in our household. It started with a whirlwind trip to Chicago to say goodbye to my dearest uncle and celebrate his life. There's something about seeing the entire family, even under the worst of circumstances, that leaves a lot of light in your heart. Even though we live over thousand miles apart, we can still come together and laugh when our souls really need it. 

Life has kept me from keeping a consistent blogging schedule. I am, however, determined to give it a go. I miss the rundowns of my grocery list on Sundays I used to put out there from the local farmers' market. I think one of my ultimate goals in this blog is to help people eat seasonally, locally and to make both of those things easy. Meal planning plays a huge part in keeping it simple. I'd love to get back to that. 

So the current plan is to have Sunday's post reflect what's in my share and on my grocery list for the week and what I plan on doing with it. It's also time to catch up to see where last week's purchases went. I'll look at cost where I can, however, since most of our produce is coming from the share, and that share was a birthday gift from my mother (who I share with) - it won't be a complete look at cost. I'll try my best to consider it in the planning process. 

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, when my life allows, will be recipe or review posts. I, like so many other bloggers, have a full-time job, family, and volunteer position which always keeps me hopping. This blog is my therapy. Writing about something I love (food), seriously gets me through the week. I hope you continue to enjoy my offerings and it helps you eat locally, seasonally, and well. 

Winter CSA Share, Heron Pond Farm, Week of 11/21

This is the pre-Thanksgiving share so it's larger than usual to help all of us enjoy a more regional Thanksgiving feast. I work Thanksgiving and we've already celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving so you're not going to see much holiday fare in the planning for this week! 

1 lb broccoli
1 lb cauliflower
2 brussel sprout stalks
2 lbs carrots
4 lbs potatoes
4 onions
1 garlic
6 apples
2 pie pumpkins
2 winter squash
1 bunch Hakurei Turnips
1 bunch swiss chard or kale
1 bok choi or Napa Cabbage

Now that's the full share - my mom and I split it between us. I took more this week because I know I'm more likely to cook through it all than my mother is. Especially since we have some left from last week's share since we were out of town. One of the best things about local produce is that it stays fresher, longer since it's not sitting on a truck for days on end getting to your grocery store. 

My Plan - 
Kale, white bean and sausage soup (or pasta) - I still have kale leftover from last week
Brussel sprouts with bacon and onions
German Apple Pie (I have a backlog of apples, the rest will be snacks)
Swiss Chard will end up in a side dish
I have a butternut squash from last week, and an acorn squash from this week, thinking squash soup.
Pie Pumpkins will be roasted and put in freezer for future pumpkin recipes
Bok choi and cabbage will be sauteed as sides at some point. 

We have steak tips from Tendercrop Farm in the freezer to eat with all of this ($6.49 for a package). I also made Cottage Pie (recipe coming soon) last night which used up a lot of last week's potatoes, carrots, and onions. It was made with the grass-fed beef from Tendercrop ($5.29 a pound), with a side of Turnip Gratin. We're eating a lot less meat as a whole these days with the farm share. It's a good thing, it keeps us healthier.

The week that was...

Not much to recap this week because of our travels. You have to check out the Maple Butternut Squash Penne with Mustard Greens however, because frankly, it was awesome.

So do you meal plan or at least sketch out your cooking week?
Pin It

Friday, November 19, 2010

Winter CSA Cooking: Maple Butternut Squash Penne with Mustard Greens

 It feels good to be back in the kitchen. I've spent the past week saying a final goodbye to a dear uncle who meant the world to myself and my family. I just got back from Chicago, where there were a lot of tears, but also a lot of toasts shared. It's hard to pull yourself out and get back on track after such an event. I've often said that cooking in therapy for me. This week, that's certainly the case.

This week, the husband wanted two things - butternut squash (no more pumpkin) from the CSA and some kind of pasta. I've got a whole lot of stash from last week's share that I haven't gotten to yet, so I wanted to add another element into this pasta. Not long ago, I had a fabulous dinner at Ten Center Street in Newburyport. It comprised of gnocchi in a maple-cream sauce with roasted butternut squash and mustard greens. That dish, was the inspiration for this one. However, I set out to make this dish a little more weeknight friendly. I did create this dish using heavy cream, however, if you'd like to make this a bit healthier, feel free to use 1/2 cup of milk instead and cut back on the pasta water used to thin the sauce.

Maple Butternut Squash Penne with Mustard Greens
Serves: 4

1 small to medium butternut squash, halved, seeds and stringy parts discarded
2 1/2  teaspoons maple syrup, divided
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
1/4 teaspoon cloves, divided
1/2 cup heavy cream (or milk if you'd like, just cut down on pasta water)
1/4- 1/2 cup reserved pasta water (to thin sauce)
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh chopped sage
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 pound penne pasta

1 bunch mustard greens, washed, leaves sliced from stem, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place squash halves skin side down in baking dish coated with cooking spray. Drizzle 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1.5 teaspoons maple syrup over the squash. Sprinkle with 1/8 a teaspoon cinnamon and cloves and a dash of salt. Roast for 45 minutes or until fork tender. Allow to cool several minutes so you can handle it.

At this point, cook pasta according to directions, drain while reserving cooking water. While the penne is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat, add shallot and garlic, cooking for 2-3 minutes. When shallot and garlic are slightly tender, add mustard greens and cook down over medium heat, until slightly wilted yet a touch crispy.

Now your squash should be cool enough to handle. Scrape out the flesh into a saucepan, add cream, reserved cooking water, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and cloves, 1 teaspoon of maple syrup and a sprinkle of salt. Use an immersion blender to combine, over medium heat. If you don't have an immersion blender, combine all ingredients above in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth and transfer back to sauce pan. Now add chopped sage and freshly grated Parmesan cheese and stir sauce until blended.

Toss sauce with warm pasta and top with the mustard greens and enjoy! Pin It

Friday, November 12, 2010

Banana Bread

I know, this week hasn't been so much about my winter CSA as it has been comfort food. It's been a rough week in our family. On my 31st birthday, I lost my dearest uncle to cancer that same morning. He was an amazing man, much loved and like a second father to me. So, while preparations commence for our family to hit the friendly skies to Chicago for services, this family needed something comforting and familiar to snack on.

This banana bread is a no-fail for me. I found it years ago in my search for a recipe I just loved. Make no mistake, this is NOT a healthy banana bread. The amount of butter used in this recipe negates any fruit health benefit. Here's the good news though, I've made this bread with half a stick of butter and 3/4 of a stick of butter as well and it's turned out just fine. I've also subbed half the butter for one of those omega-3 butter-type products in a pinch and it also turned out just fine. Play with it, and use the amount of fat that you feel comfortable using.

Banana Bread
Source:, M.S. Milliken & S. Feniger 

1 cup granulated sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
3 ripe bananas
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter a loaf pan and set aside.

In one bowl (or a stand mixer bowl) cream the sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.

In another large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and whisk to combine further.

In a small bowl, mash the bananas with a fork, add milk and cinnamon and stir.

Finally, add the banana mixture to the sugar/butter mixture and stir to combine. Slowly add flour mixture to the bowl stirring as you go until flour just disappears. Pour into your prepared loaf pan and bake 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes then turn out onto baking rack to allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing. Pin It

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Classic Macaroni and Cheese and starting out local

I should have called this "Comfort Food Week" because that's all that's been cooking in this house this week. Meatloaf, mac and cheese and banana bread have all been on the list. I blame it on the weather. It's been cold and rainy here all week.

Today's take on comfort food is classic mac and cheese. There's nothing more rib sticking or comforting than a huge bowl of this stuff. I paired this with a salad of mesclun, apples, radishes (from our winter CSA) with fresh Parmesan cheese and balsamic vinaigrette.

This dish is a good moment to remind everyone that often buying local or regional is always about heading to a local farm or shop (although I recommend you do!). Shopping for local products often doesn't have to stray far from your normal grocery store. I used Cabot cheeses (from VT) and milk from The Organic Cow (which comes from New England cows), both are easily found throughout New England grocery stores. I try to buy my supermarket staples with a focus on region. Most of my dairy products are Cabot (cheese, butter, sour cream); my milk is organic and from New England companies; my flour is King Arthur varieties from Vermont; and I search out other various local companies to buy from just at my local grocery store. If you're lucky enough to have a Whole Foods Market nearby, they often carry local products, artisans and produce from your area.

I love finding local stuff at the supermarket because it's a really great first step for people interested in starting to buy more locally. It's not out of your routine, you just have to do a little research. However, I'm still a fan of frequenting smaller local shops and farms because you're helping your community double. You're getting a local product and supporting a local business. It's a happy medium to find. I know people are busy and often don't have time to hit a bunch of local farms or butchers or shops to get everything they need. However, just knowing what's local or regional at the local supermarket is a great first step towards changing your eating and buying habits to be more local. Now to the food...

Classic Macaroni and Cheese
Source: Cooks Illustrated
Serves: 6-8 or 12 as a side

Bread Crumb Topping
6 slices white sandwich bread (I used fresh baguette), torn into rough pieces
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold), cut into 6 pieces

Pasta and Cheese
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon table salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 cups milk (I used 2%, it works perfect)
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (2 cups, I prefer Cabot cheeses)
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)
1 teaspoon table salt

For the bread crumbs:
Pulse bread and butter in food processor until large crumbs form.

For the pasta and cheese: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat broiler (I only did to 450 degrees). Bring water to boil in Dutch oven over high heat. Add macaroni and 1 tablespoon salt; cook until pasta is tender. Drain pasta and set aside in a colander.

In the now-empty Dutch oven, heat butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add flour, mustard, and cayenne and whisk well to combine. Continue whisking until mixture becomes fragrant and deepens in color, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk; bring mixture to a boil, whisking constantly, bringing mixture to a full boil to thicken. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened to the consistency of heavy cream, about 5 minutes. Off heat, whisk in cheeses and 1 teaspoon salt until cheeses are fully melted. Add pasta and stir to coat and cook for several minutes until mixture is fully heated and steaming.

Transfer mixture to a broiler-safe 9x13 baking dish and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Broil until crumbs are deep golden brown about 3-5 minutes. Rotate pan, if necessary, to get even browning. Cool for 5 minutes and serve. Pin It

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Winter CSA Cooking: Hakuri Turnip Gratin and Comfort Meatloaf

Sorry meatloaf, you're getting the inside photo and these gorgeous turnips are getting front page. In Saturday night's dinner, comfort was the key and the side dish took the lead. I didn't think I'd ever hear my husband say that he'd eat truckloads of turnips, but it happened. Here's the deal - I had two bunches of hakurei turnips leftover from the past two weeks of my Winter CSA shares from Heron Pond Farm. I'd look at them when I opened my produce drawer, wondering what in the heck to do with them. By the way, this is going to happen when you get any type of CSA share. There, inevitably, will be some veggies or fruits you'll look at and wonder how you're going to work them into your meal plan. That's half the fun of this journey right?

So, Saturday nights when the weather turns chilly and the sky turns gray, my husband and I usually end up staying in, and some kind of comfort food, some kind of red wine ends up on the coffee table as we snuggle in with the pugs for movies and hockey. The meatloaf was a given (and a great recipe by the way), so were mashed potatoes, but I wanted to give these turnips love from a recipe even the pickiest eater could love. A quick Google search came up with this Turnip Gratin from GF-Zing, a gluten-free blogger who modified the recipe from a 2007 one from Gourmet.

The result was a creamy, peppery amazing dish that has become my husband's new favorite in the house. It paired extremely well with this down-home meatloaf and classic mashed potatoes, and all the main components of each recipe were local. The ground beef and pork came from Tendercrop Farm in Newbury. The turnips and potatoes came from the Winter CSA share we get every week from Heron Pond Farm.

Hakurei Turnip Gratin
Serves: 4
2 bunches hakurei turnips, cleaned well, greens removed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chicken stock (or water, which I used)
1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese

Cut off the top and tail of the turnips, slice into 1/4 inch slices. Melt butter in a non-stick 12-inch skillet (choose one with a lid) and layer turnip slices in pan. Sprinkle the turnips with thyme, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Cook in butter over medium heat for 3 minutes. Cover turnips with the heavy cream and chicken stock, put lid on and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, the turnips will be softened. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over top of cooked turnips and put lit back on for 3-4 minutes until cheese is melted over the turnips. Serve hot. 

If you can get meatloaf to photograph well, call me :-)

Comfort Meatloaf
Adapted from: Cooks Illustrated

Brown Sugar-Ketchup Glaze
1/2 cup ketchup or chili sauce
4 tablespoons brown sugar
4 teaspoons cider vinegar

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/2 cup 2% or whole milk
1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound ground pork
2/3 cup (about 16 crackers) Saltine crackers, crushed (not pulverized, do it by hand)
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves (use fresh, really heightens flavor in this dish)

For the glaze: Mix all ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat until combined, set aside.

For the meatloaf: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil in medium skillet, add onion and garlic and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix eggs with thyme, salt, pepper, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, pepper sauce, and milk. Add ground beef and ground pork to egg mixture, and then add parsley, crackers, and the cooked onion and garlic. Mix with a fork or your hands until all combined. 

Take a meatloaf pan with perforated bottom (you know, the kind that allows the fat to drain out, I really recommend it here), coat with cooking spray,  and pour meat mixture in, creating a loaf shape. Take a fork and pull it away from the sides so the fat can drain easily. Brush on 1/4 of the glaze and put in oven and bake for about 45 minutes, until the glaze sets. Top with another 1/4 of the glaze and bake another 15-20 minutes, until the glaze is set and a meat thermometer registers 160 degrees. Take out of oven and allow to cool at least 10 minutes. Turn the meatloaf out onto a plate, slice and serve with remaining glaze.

Where last week's CSA share went

I realized in order to be helpful with sharing with everyone how to use their winter shares, I should recap every week where it all went to see how, yes, you can use up all the stuff you get (even the not-typical items). After my mom and I split the share this week, I ended up with: 1 bunch Hakurei turnips, 1 bunch carrots, 1 bunch kale, 1 lb. potatoes, 1 long pie pumpkin, 2 apples, 2 onions, 1 shallot, a red pepper, and 6 ears corn. 

Hakurei Turnips went into the gratin above. The carrots, well, the husband ate those straight from the fridge as snacks all week. The kale and garlic we got went into Sausage and Kale PenneFresh Pumpkin and Corn Soup. The onions went into a little bit of everything, the soup, the meatloaf and salads. The apples became snacks or part of salads. The rest of the corn, I took it off the cob and froze on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet for about an hour and into a freezer bag I went for soup in the middle of winter.
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Friday, November 5, 2010

Winter CSA Cooking: Sausage and Kale Penne

If you're going to take the journey of local eating in the winter like I am, you're going to run into your friend and mine, kale. It's a hearty green somewhere between the sweet spinach and the more bitter swiss chard. It's large, it's leafy, it's very pretty look at, but you've got to figure out someway to use it all up. You probably will receive a huge bundle from your CSA or at your winter farmers' market. Don't be intimidated. Like it's friends, spinach and swiss chard, it shrinks up when you cook it. In other words, what looks like a lot, is in reality, a little.

You're also probably going to get a for a song when it's in season at the market, because frankly, it grows in pretty large amounts. We like deals here at Lighter and Local. We like them even more when the produce we're buying packs the amount of nutritional value that kale does. It's packed with vitamins K, A and C. Cooked kale might even help in the lowering of cholesterol. (I'm hoping it balances out the sour cream and onion chips I took down today) Here's an easy, weeknight recipe that can use up that kale in your produce bin that you might be shaking your head at.

Sausage and Kale Penne

1 bunch kale, leaves removed from stem, and chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 links hot Italian turkey sausage (you could use regular sausage or chicken as well)
1/2 pound penne (regular or whole wheat is fine)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Prepare an ice bath in one large bowl and set aside. Bring a pot of water up to a boil, add kale and cook until tender. When kale is cooked, take out of boiling water with a strainer and plunge into ice bath. Drain and set aside.

Add pasta to boiling water from the kale and cook as directed, until al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Remove sausages from their casings, add to the skillet and brown, breaking it up into crumbles. Once the meat is browned, add garlic and cook for about a minute. Add kale and red pepper flakes at this point, tossing to coat with sausage and garlic.

When pasta is finished, drain and add to the skillet, coating it in the sausage mixture. Add remaining teaspoon of olive oil and toss to coat pasta.

Grate fresh Parmesan cheese over the bowls of pasta. Don't skip the cheese, the nutty flavor of the Parmesan really adds to this dish. Pin It

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Winter CSA Cooking: Fresh Pumpkin and Corn Soup

I should have really called this blog "Cooking in my PJs". Morning after morning you can find me in my little Newburyport kitchen cooking in none other than my pajamas and apron. If you're wondering, today's pj's are flannel with polar bears all over them. Very appropriate for a nearly 31-year-old, married, professional adult. 

I do this because I work nights and don't get home until about 12:30am. I sleep late, get up, have my coffee or tea and breakfast and usually start cooking. I feel no real need to get dressed until I actually have to leave the house to work out or go to work. This phenomenon only gets worse in fall and winter as temperatures plummet and my pj's are rather cozy, and so is my kitchen.

I digress. This morning it was cold. One of those first few fall mornings where I'm tempted to touch the thermostat and turn the heat on. Yes, I'm crazy and haven't yet. Our oil tank was filled this morning. This means a massive expense, but it also means that we're hunkering down for the cold months. I was chilled, was going to make pasta, but decided on soup because frankly, I didn't want to leave my house for more ingredients. 

This week's CSA share (Community Supported Agriculture share)from Heron Pond Farm included: 1 bunch Hakurei turnips, 1 bunch radishes, 1 bunch carrots, 1 bunch kale, 1 head bok choi, 1 lb broccoli, 2 lbs potatoes, 2 winter squash, 5 apples, 4 onions, 2 shallots, 3 peppers, and 12 ears sweet corn. My mom and I split off the loot and off to my kitchen it went. 

I'm lucky enough to still be getting corn and for my winter squash, I picked a Long Pie Pumpkin. They came together with the peppers, onion and garlic from last week's share to create this comforting soup that you'll love. It makes the kitchen smell wonderful, whether you're in your pajamas or not.

Fresh Pumpkin and Corn Soup
Serves 4-6

1 small onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 cup chopped sweet peppers, I used small green and red
2 hot chilies (I used Thai, but others would do quite nicely as well), chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 ears corn, kernels removed from cob
1 pumpkin (sugar or pie, the big ones don't taste as good)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cardamon
1/4 teaspoon red curry powder (regular would be OK)
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (more to taste if you'd like)
1 teaspoon salt
a touch more salt and pepper to taste
2 cups low sodium chicken broth (less if you'd like this chunkier)
1/2 cup half and half

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Take pumpkin, cut in half, scoop out seeds and stringy insides. Take a baking dish coated in cooking spray and take pumpkin halves and place them face down in dish. Bake about 35-40 minutes until pumpkin flesh is tender. Remove from oven, allow to cool for 5 minutes, scoop out insides with a spoon and puree in food processor or blender until smooth.

In large dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat and add onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add sweet peppers and hot peppers and continue cooking for another 2 minutes and add garlic and corn, and cook for another 3-4 minutes. At this point, you want to add your pumpkin into the mix and all the spices, including salt and pepper. Stir well so everything is coated in said pumpkin and spices. 

Add the chicken broth to the pumpkin-corn mixture and stir. Finally, add half and half to the soup, stirring to combine. Bring the soup up to a boil and then back down to a simmer and allow it to simmer for about 25-30 minutes. 

Garnish with pumpkin seeds if you're feeling fancy. Pin It