curried squash apple soup2

Curried Squash Apple Soup

This is the start of soup season at my house. Soups are comforting and can be super easy, like this amazingly delicious 3 ingredient soup (there are 3 main ingredients, but there are some spices and cider that you’ll need, too).

The original recipe is from Ina Garten, but I’ve made a few adjustments to reduce the spice level. A trick I use to make this a 15 minute soup is to pre-cook the squash. When I have too many squash rolling around the kitchen counter (CSA share back log, irresistible sale at the farm stand, garden abundance, etc.), I cook all the squash at once and then freeze what I don’t need. That way I can just pull the pre-cooked squash from the freezer and add it right into the soup.

(Easy tip for cooking winter squash and pumpkins: Cut whole squash in half, scrape out the seeds and place cut side down on a baking sheet (lined with foil if you want to make clean up really easy). Add a little water to the pan and cook in pre-heated 350 degree oven until tender. Scoop flesh from the skin and freeze in pre-portioned amounts.)

curried squash apple soup


Curried Squash and Apple Soup
courtesy of Ina Garten, The Food Network

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp each butter & olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 large butternut squash, peeled, cleaned, and cubed
2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1/2 -1 tsp curry powder (adds heat & flavor)
1 1/2 tsp Garam masala
1 tsp salt
1 cup apple cider, juice, or water

(Garam masala is a traditional Indian blend of spices including clove, cinnamon, pepper, cumin, and cardamon.  You can find it in most grocery stores or co-ops.)

Squash apples
Directions:
Heat butter, olive oil, onion, and curry powder in a soup pot on low heat for 10-15 minutes, until tender, stirring occasionally.

Add squash, apple, salt, Garam masala, cider or water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook over low heat for 20-30 minutes or until very tender.

Remove from heat. Puree with blender, food processor, or immersion blender. Return to heat and thin with cider to desired thickness. Serve and enjoy!

 

Elena peppers

Simple Ideas Preserving Your Food

It is October, and as the days inch towards winter, there is a frantic rush to harvest what is left in our gardens and find a place in the cupboards, pantries, coolers and freezers. You see it at the markets too, with displays stocked full and overflowing with fresh eating produce, cabbages, greens, gourds, squashes and roots. It is delightful!

Elena apples

My favorite season for cooking is autumn. The heat of the kitchen seeps out into the rest of our house, staving off the morning and evening chills that punctuate this time of year, while I happily chop, stir, simmer and bake the hours away, not only putting food on the table, but putting food “by” for the cold days of winter.

Beginning in September, we are making apple cider, sauce and butter, picking herbs and hardy greens for the freezer, grabbing garden tomatoes for ripening, freezing whole or making chutney and looking forward to the fall berry season. By October, we are picking what is left in the garden for storage in our makeshift root cellar and the various drawers where we can tuck every onion, potato and squash we have harvested or bartered for. By November 1, with only a few hardy vegetables that like the cold, we are putting beds away for the winter and preserving what we can.

There are many ways to preserve food; some are simple and some are not, but most everyone can preserve a good portion of food and stock their larders. With a few simple tools, some supplies and a range, see below for some ideas of how to preserve our favorite vegetables.

Elena chardFreezing: If you have plenty of freezer space, freezing your food is a fantastic way to preserve fresh food quickly, safely and with nutrition intact. Some foods require blanching or cooking, while others just need a quick rinse and an airtight seal.

 

  • Try freezing whole tomatoes, berries, apple slices, peeled cloves of garlic, sliced or chopped onions.
  • With a pot of boiling water and a colander, you can blanch (boil briefly) and drain greens like spinach, chard, kale as well as vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and carrots before freezing in bags.
  • For herbs like parsley, cilantro and basil, process into a paste with olive oil and then freeze the resulting pesto/pistou into ice cube trays or roll into logs, wrap in parchment and plastic first.

Canning: There are two methods of canning and lots of great information on the interweb, magazine articles and in books to give you the details, but the main thing to remember is that high-acid foods (berries, citrus) can be canned using the water bath method and low-acid foods (most vegetables, meats) can be canned using the pressure cooker method. Check out this site for more information.

Dry Salting: Different from pickling, which uses a salt AND acid based brine, salting is an ancient and very simple way to preserve food. The salt brings out the moisture from food and makes it “inhospitable” to the microbes and bacteria that would normally cause spoilage. Lacto-fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, use a low salt concentration to not only protect against spoilage, but also to create an environment that welcomes gut-friendly bacteria. High salt methods of preserving create an inhospitable environment for ALL bacteria and is still used by some to preserve things like green beans.

  • Layer shredded carrots and zucchini, sliced onion, minced garlic with sea or kosher salt and pack tightly into canning jars with lids. “Burb” the jars everyday to prevent buildup of pressure. Refrigerate or store at 40F or less to stop fermentation and keep.
  • Make kimchi or sauerkraut out of cabbage, radishes, carrots and onions. Use a wet brine of salt and keep vegetables submerged and away from air.
  • Check out the site Home Preserving Bible for a great collection of tips, techniques and recipes on dry salting.

Elena canningSyrups and Shrubs: Both of these old fashioned methods work especially well for berries and other fruit, but I have had equal luck with tomatoes, herbs and spices too. Use them in beverages, dressings and marinades!

  • For syrups, mix together two cups of berries, one cup of water and one cup of granulated sugar in a pot. Bring to a slow boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Pour the syrup, solids and all, into a wide mouth canning jar and cap. Let cool completely before refrigerating.
  • For the old fashioned shrubs, make an infused vinegar then turn that into a syrup. Check out detailed, but simple, instructions at The Kitchn.

HerbsButters: An often overlooked way of preserving some herbs and fruits is by making compound butters. With sharp knife, you can make quick work of herbs and fruits, mixing and mashing them into softened butter. When done, roll logs of butter into parchment and freeze or put into ice cube trays and pop the frozen chunks into a freezer bag for easier storage.

  • Herb butter of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Call it Scarbo-butter Faire, just for fun.
  • Fruit butter of blueberry, cinnamon and a pinch of sea salt
  • Basil or cilantro butter mixed with garlic
  • Hot pepper butter with lemon rind

 

 

by Elena Gustavson, RAFFL‘s Everyday Chef

Apple season

Windy Ridge Orchard

There are lots of good reasons to pack up the family and visit Windy Ridge Orchard in North Haverhill. They are a New Hampshire Farm of Distinction, they have a wonderful variety of apples to pick and purchase, they have a cafe that serves home-made farm fresh breakfast and lunch, they have a fun farm stand and gift store, and you can find Seven Birches Vineyard and tasting room at the orchard. But, my number one reason to visit Windy Ridge is for their amazing cider donuts. These donuts are the quintessential fall treat – dense, moist, sweet (but not too sweet), and satisfying. Plan a trip to Windy Ridge and be sure to try the donuts – you won’t be disappointed.

loaded apple tree

 

We are happy to share the following profile excerpt of Windy Ridge Orchard written for New Hampshire Farms Network by Meghan McCarthy McPhaul.

Sheila Fabrizio grew up happily immersed in the agricultural life. Her father worked for the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, both parents ran the family’s Windy Ridge Orchard outside their career jobs, and all five Fabrizio kids were involved in 4-H. But it was her journey to a far-away country that made her realize she wanted to come home to the orchard life.
“I certainly didn’t go off to college thinking I would have a career in agriculture,” says Sheila. “Probably the seed was planted when I was a kid, but it was really when I was in the Peace Corps in Senegal that I realized this is where I wanted to be.”
As a girl, Sheila joined her brothers and sisters in raising and showing dairy cows through 4-H. She also started showing sheep after receiving one as a gift when she was about eight years old, and soon several sheep were sharing space with the cows in the Fabrizios’ barn.

To read more from this profile, please visit New Hampshire Farms Network

 

 

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Planning Your Thanksgiving Feast

I learned something important about cooking Thanksgiving dinner the first time I did so for a large crowd five years ago: be realistic and plan ahead. Deciding on a whim to make homemade eggnog the day of may not be the best idea, for instance. Want to brine your turkey? First make sure you have an appropriate container in which to do so. But with more than a week to go there is plenty of time to get on track for a delicious, stress free meal.

If you haven’t already, finalize your menu and recipes this week. Keep in mind what you can find at the farmers market or co-op over the weekend. There is an impressive, beautiful selection of produce, desserts, wines, breads and more available right here in our county. Take advantage of these foods and producers; I’ve learned while traveling and cooking at the holidays that you can’t find such quality and freshness everywhere.

Once you have your menu, recipe and ingredients set, you’re halfway there. Now, just do a little prep each day leading up to the big dinner to avoid a mad scramble on turkey day.

Sunday

Make a list of the tasks and recipes you might be able to prepare over the course of the next few days. Post the list in a visible spot in the kitchen so you can cross each item off as you go and see what still needs to get done.

 

Monday

Today, chop veggies. Look at your recipes and see what you’re going to need. Divide them into resealable plastic bags based on each dish. While you chop, cook your cranberry sauce, which will do fine in the fridge for the next few days.

Cranberry Orange Sauce 

Makes 2 cups

1 pound cranberries
½ cup sugar or maple syrup
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1 cinnamon stick
A pinch of cloves, salt and pepper

Combine everything in a small pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Once the cranberries start to pop, lower the heat, cook another 3-4 minutes, then remove from the heat and cool.

 

Tuesday

Focus on the stuffing – which if you ask me, is the next best dish after pumpkin pie. I don’t stuff my bird, but rather divide it up into muffin tins for easy to serve, realistic portions. Check your favorite bakery for day old or even pre-cubed bread.

Apple and Onion Stuffing

Makes 10-12 servings

1 stick unsalted butter
4 ribs celery, chopped or 1 large celery root
1 large onion, chopped
2 large apples, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, thyme and sage or poultry seasoning
About 12 cups stale bread, cubed
3 cups broth
½ cup dried cranberries
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped

Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the celery, onion, apple, a pinch of salt and herbs or poultry seasoning. Cook about 5 minutes, until veggies have softened. Pour in broth and toss in the bread and cranberries. Cook another 5 minutes then stir in the egg and parsley. Divide among lightly oiled muffin tins. If preparing ahead of time, cover and refrigerate until ready to bake. When ready, bake covered with foil, for 20 minutes in a 375F preheated oven then another 20 minutes uncovered. They’re done when browned and crispy.

 

Wednesday

If you’re planning to serve turkey tomorrow, get that set now. Clean the bird, season and stuff with aromatics as you like, season the skin, tie it up and set in the roasting pan in the fridge. You want it ready to go in the oven without worrying about details tomorrow.

Then, if you have any sides you could prepare now, do so.

Turnip and Potato Purée

Makes 4-6 servings

1 ½ lbs turnips, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 ½ lbs potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup milk
Kosher salt
Thyme
Butter (optional)

Cover the turnips, garlic and potatoes in a medium pot over high heat with the milk and just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until veggies are tender. Drain and with an immersion blender or food processor, purée until smooth. Alternatively, you could mash. Mix in thyme leaves to your liking and melted butter, if you choose. This reheats well in the oven.

 

Thursday

The big day. Your bird should be the priority at this point. Be sure to let it come to room temperature before getting in the oven – this will reduce roasting time and help ensure even cooking. Plan to take it out of the oven at least an hour before guests arrive – giving it time to rest and you time to make gravy, heat up prepared dishes in the oven, and carve the bird. Finish off any quick cooking dishes today as well.

Sautéed Brussels sprouts

Serves 4

2 cups Brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon fresh, chopped herbs

Over medium high heat, sauté the Brussels sprouts in the olive oil. Cook until just starting to brown, 3-4 minutes. Add ½ cup water to the pan with the lemon zest. Cook until the water has evaporated. Toss in the cheese and herbs.

Originally published in our Harvest Watch column in The Rutland Herald on November 19, 2013.

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Baked Stuffed Apples

This is entirely un-American of me, I apologize, but apple pie does nothing for me. I’ve just never really cared for it. Maybe it’s all that crust or the mushy texture of the apples after they’re baked. I must have had a bad experience at some point that I don’t recall. Though I’ll admit that some melted cheddar cheese on top (a practice I only became aware of after moving to VT, of course) certainly makes it more appealing.

Baked and stuffed apples, however, are another story. The apples actually have some texture and a little crunch left to them. And since you eat the skins (at least you should) you get added benefits, like fiber. But they’re also quicker to make. No crust. No hassle. It’s a simple weeknight dessert, or even better – breakfast the next morning. Also, in this recipe I stuff them with oats, making this quite similar to an apple crisp – a dish I always looked forward to as a kid. Your pick of dried fruit and nuts only make things better and better for you.

Find yourself some good baking apples. There are many unique, Vermont grown varieties available well into the winter. This time I used Northern Spies and Granny Smiths. Here is New England Apple Association for identifying and learning more about apple varieties.

Preheat the oven to 350F. After you wash your apples, use a paring knife to cut out the stem and top.

And then a spoon to scoop out the seeds a just a little of the flesh. We just need some room for stuffing – no need to hollow the apples out.

This is a good sized cavity. Keep in mind that the apples will start browning quickly. If this bothers you then just coast them with some lemon juice, though it won’t really be noticeable after filling and baking.

Set the apples aside and mix together the oats and brown sugar. Alter the amount of sugar based on how sweet you like things. I think as little as 1/4 cup would be fine.

Then add in the dried fruit. I used currants. I’m a big currant enthusiast and was thrilled to find red ones fresh at the farmers market in Rutland this summer. Raisins and cranberries work well too.

Chop some nuts to add to the stuffing mix. Walnuts, pecans, almonds, peanuts – you choose.

Lastly, get your spices together – cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger. I like my food to have flavor, so I tend to go strong on recipe recommendations. With the amounts I suggest below, you will certainly taste these flavors. Scale back if you need. The ginger can be powdered. I just happened to have fresh. It does make a big difference, however, as does grating whole nutmeg and grinding whole cloves, if you have those.

Mix everything together then getting stuffing. Really pack it in well.

Now pour some water into the bottom of the pan to prevent burning and to help speed up the cooking.

Top each with a teaspoon of butter before getting in the oven. They look good already, don’t they? Bake for 30 minutes – you should be able to easily pierce the apples – and enjoy. You might not want to give up your apple pie traditions, but I don’t think anyone would refuse one of these whether at the holiday table or hot out of the oven on a cold night – or morning.

Baked Stuffed Apples

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4-6 baked apples, depending on size of apples

Ingredients

  • 4-6 good baking apples
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves (optional)
  • 4 tsp. butter
  • 1 cup water

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Core your apples, making a good sized hole in the center. A paring knife and spoon work fine.
  3. Combine the sugar, oats, nuts, raisins and spices in a bowl.
  4. Stuff the apples with the filling, packing it in as much as possible.
  5. Place the apples in a baking dish with the water in the bottom.
  6. Top each with a teaspoon of butter.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, or until tender when poked with a knife, being careful not to overbake.
  8. Cool slightly and serve, topped with yogurt or ice cream.

Butternut Squash Soup

From Nancy, the Farmer-in-Residence

Fall is when I head back to the kitchen after a summer of grilling everything – to roast, bake, and stew the largess of summer fruits and veggies. Here are few of my tried-and-true crowd pleasers.

Butternut-Squash-1-Your-Farm-2008-Nov-by-Lisa

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
courtesy of Ina Garten, yields 4-6 servings

3 to 4 pounds butternut squash, peeled and seeded
2 yellow onions
2 McIntosh apples, peeled and cored
3 tablespoons good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 to 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1/2 teaspoon good curry powder

Cut the butternut squash, onions, and apples into 1-inch cubes. Place them on a sheet pan and toss them with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Divide the squash mixture between 2 sheet pans and spread in a single layer. Roast for 35 to 45 minutes, tossing occasionally, until very tender. Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock to a simmer. When the vegetables are done add some of the chicken stock and coarsely puree in food processor, blender, or immersion blender. When all of the vegetables are processed, place them in a large pot and add enough chicken stock to make a thick soup. Add the curry powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Taste for seasonings to be sure there’s enough salt and pepper to bring out the curry flavor. Reheat and serve hot. Top with flaked sweetened coconut or lightly toasted and chopped salted cashews to add a little pizzazz.

 

applepeeling

Three Grain Breakfast Salad

I’m not a morning person. Yet the morning contains one of my favorite meals, and everyone’s most important – breakfast. I rarely ever sit down to a breakfast on a weekday. Does anyone, really? Instead, I tend to grab something on my way out the door, maybe a banana or granola bar, or make a stop at the local coffee shop. Though, I still attempt to make wise choices, at least most days. And as a baker for that local coffee shop, I can’t say there is anything wrong with purchasing something to enjoy with your caffeine, especially if it’s one of the semi-nutritious items I make. Yet, in the back of my mind, I’d love to have more control over my breakfast, as should you. It sets the tone and your metabolism for the day.

Luckily, there are ways to make a healthy, filling breakfast possible without having to embrace other aspects of the am, like leaving the comfort of your bed, for instance. Taking the time to prep a meal like this three grain salad on a weekend or less busy evening is one. The grains – quinoa, steel cut oats, and millet – can last several days in the fridge without turning to mush on you.  They’re toasted, simmered with ginger, then mixed with the zing of lemon juice and zest, the sweetness of maple syrup and the spice of nutmeg. Afterwards, it’s simple to mix in your favorite fruits and nut combination. And if you take the extra few minutes to divvy this up into small jars or containers, you can still grab your breakfast on the go.

Three Grain Breakfast Salad with Apples and Walnuts

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Makes 8 servings

1 cup steel cut oats
1 cup golden quinoa
1/2 cup millet
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 large lemons, zested and juiced
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups walnuts, roughly chopped and toasted
2 cups chopped apples or other seasonal fruit

Mix the oats, quinoa, and millet in a strainer and rinse for about a minute. Set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the grains and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until they begin smelling toasted. Pour in 4 1/2 cups water and stir in 3/4 teaspoon salt, the ginger, and the zest of 1 lemon. Bring to boil, cover, turn down heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes, then remove the lid and fluff with a fork. Remove the ginger.
Spread hot grains on a large baking sheet and let cool for at least half an hour. Spoon the cooled grains into a large bowl. Stir in the zest of the second lemon. In a medium bowl whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil with the juice of both lemons until emulsified. Whisk in the maple syrup, yogurt, and nutmeg. Pour this into the grains and stir until well-coated. Stir in the toasted walnuts and apples. Taste and season with additional salt, if necessary. Refrigerate overnight; the flavors of this really come together overnight in the fridge. Then, enjoy as a ready to go breakfast multiple days of the week! Just reheat or enjoy cold.

 

Apple Cartwheels


Apple recipes are great for making sweet dishes also nutritious. Apple Cartwheels (by www.tasteofhome.com) combine an alluring mixture of apples, creamy peanut butter, honey, raisins, and chocolate chips.

Ingredients: ¼ cup of peanut butter 1 tsp of honey ½ cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips 2 tbsp of raisins 4 medium-size unpeeled Red Delicious apples, cored

All you have to do is combine the peanut butter and honey in a mixing bowl, then the chocolate chips and raisins. Fill the centers of the apples with the mixture and refrigerate for about an hour. Finally, cut the apples into ¼ inch rings and enjoy!  This recipe is moderately low in calories (50 per apple ring) but will fill you up quickly!

NEED A FEW GOOD REASONS SHOULD YOU EAT MORE APPLES?

1. Eating apples (the biting and chewing) keeps cavities away.

2. Apples can reduce your risk of many cancers.

3. They are high in soluble fiber, which decreases the risk of diabetes.

4. Apples decrease cholesterol and keep your heart healthy.

5. Eating more apples will also keep disease away by increasing immune system function and are helpful inmaintaining a healthy liver!

 

Eat up :]

Turnip and Apple Salad

Raw fruits and vegetables are not just tasty – they also contain all of the natural enzymes and nutrients that are partially taken out when they are cooked.  Eating more raw foods in your diet will increase your energy levels, let you sleep better, and increase mental clarity.  – And  the best thing about eating a lot of raw foods? You can eat as much of them as you want!

Preparing raw food is also usually much quicker and easier than cooking something else. Next time you’re looking for a snack or something light and yummy to add to your meal, try this raw turnip and apple salad.  Yes, root veggies are great raw, too!

Ingredients 1/2 raw turnip grated 2 large green apples grated Fresh parsley chopped Juice of 1/2 lemon Salt & pepper to taste

Chop/grate it all up, mix it in a bowl, and you’re ready to eat!

Feel free to experiment with chopped apples and turnips versus grated.  Texture can often determine your favorite and least favorite dishes.

Apple Tart

The gift of Apple Tart!  Everyday Chef loves to celebrate the holidays with a well-earned sweet treat.  Here’s a delightful recipes that’s adapted from David Tanis’s og gourmet.com excellent collection of dinner menus, A Platter of Figs.

Apple Tart

Ingredients

Dough

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) cold butter in thin slices
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg beaten, plus enough ice water to make 1/2 cup

Filling

  • 8 medium apples (about 3 lbs)
  • 1 cup sugar, maple syrup, honey or ice cider for the glaze
  • 1/4 cup sugar for sprinkling on apples
  • 1/2 to 1 cup water

Preparation

Put flour, butter, and salt in a bowl.  With your fingers, work the butter into the flour until it looks mealy, with some large flecks of butter remaining.  Pour the egg-ice mixture into the bowl and quickly knead the dough for a minute or two, until it comes together.  It will be soft, sticky, and though gathered together, a little rough looking.

Sprinke dough with a little flour and pat into a rectangle about 1 inch thick.  Wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.

When ready, divide the pastry in half (there will be enough for two tarts–you can freeze one half for another time).  Roll out the pastry into a rectangle, approximately 11 x 16 inches.

Transfer the dough to the baking sheet and let it relax, then trim the edges to fit the pan with a little edging up the sides; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Peel the apples and cut into thin slices.  Prepare your glaze by dissolving sugar, maple syrup, honey or ice cider in 1/2 to full cup of water over medium heat.  Simmer to a thick syrup.  Arrange the apples over the pastry in several rows, overlapping them like cards in solitaire.  At this point you could refrigerate the tart for up to 8 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Sprinkle the sugar generously over the apples and bake until they are browned and the pastry is crisp, about 45 minutes.  Cool on a rack.  Just before serving, reheat glaze and paint apples with glaze.  Slice into small rectangles and serve.  (Alternately this recipe still works well if you bake the tart initially with the glaze on it instead of applying it afterwards.)

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