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Sausage Bean Stew for the Spring Doldrums

This easy recipe was a crowd pleaser at Flavors of the Valley on April 10, 2016. Nancy made 20 batches in five Crock Pots to sample to about 1,000 attendees that day! (In case you missed it, we also served samples of quick kimchi. I (Bethany) made five gallons of it the day before!)

I didn’t snag a bite of the Sausage Bean Stew during the event, but fortunately had a bowlful when Nancy made a test batch earlier in the week. It’s delicious!

I find April a tough time of year in the Upper Valley for eating local and healthy. I always freeze and preserve food in the summer, but at this time of year, the freezer looks pretty lean. I’m antsy for new local vegetables, and already ate my week’s worth of farmers’ market spinach. Plus the weather’s weird, and Daylight Savings came too early. All this is to say that I’m not really in the mood to put a lot of energy into a meal.

That’s why Sausage Bean Stew is perfect for early spring doldrums – it’s hearty and warm, yet bright and fresh, and best of all, so easy! The recipe calls for canned fire-roasted tomatoes, but if you canned or froze your own tomatoes, use those up, since summer’s on its way. You can get the garlic, onion, sausage, and dried beans at the winter farmers’ markets.

NOTE: don’t use red kidney beans in this recipe, as I explain later.

Sausage & Bean Stew
adapted from Food Network Kitchen

Ingredients

1 onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 carrots, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 ounces dried white beans (navy, cannellini, etc. picked over and rinsed)
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage links (2 links)
One 14.5-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
3 cups chicken broth or stock
1/2 cup ditalini or other small pasta
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
grated Parmesan and crusty bread, for serving

 

Photo (62)

Directions:

Spread the onions over the bottom of a 6- to 7-quart slow cooker and top with the carrots, garlic, white beans, thyme bundle and sausage links. Mix the diced tomatoes with the broth and 3 cups water and pour over the sausages.

Cook on high for 4 to 5 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours; the beans will be tender and begin to fall apart. Uncover the slow cooker, remove and discard the thyme bundle and transfer the sausage links to a cutting board. Stir the pasta into the stew and continue to cook, covered, until the pasta is cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Turn off the heat. Cut the sausages into bite-size pieces and add back into the stew along with the parsley and vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with grated Parmesan on the side for sprinkling on top and crusty bread for soaking up the broth.

Notes:

Choose your beans wisely: all raw or under-cooked beans contain a small amount of a toxin called phytohaemagglutinin that causes gastrointestinal distress. Red kidney beans contain more of this toxin than other beans, and since many slow cookers don’t reach the temperature needed to break down the toxin, it’s best to keep red kidneys out of the slow cooker.

Boost flavor with Parmesan rind: If you have it, add a 4 ounce chunk of Parmesan rind to the pot in the beginning and discard with the herbs at the end.

Use up leftover pasta: Substitute leftover pasta (or rice!) for the uncooked pasta by reducing the water by 1 cup and adding 1 cup of cooked pasta with the sausages at the end.

Finished Dish2

Braised Pork + Cabbage: A One-Pot Late Winter Farmers Market Meal

Braised Pork & Cabbage: A One-Pot Late Winter Farmers Market Meal 

Hi, I’m Bethany, from the Vital Communities Transportation Program. I love food and have sweated, laughed, cried, and hustled til my feet ached in restaurant kitchens and bakeries, so Valley Food & Farm recruited me to write some recipes this spring. I’m thrilled!

My posts will share my passions for building everyone’s basic cooking skills, wasting as little as possible, eating healthy, and of course, eating in season. Here we go.

Magazines and radio shows are already gushing about springy greens recipes, but if you’re eating seasonally in the Upper Valley, winter food is still on the table. And with this week’s cutting wind, that’s fine with me.

You can get the main ingredients for this one-pot dish at the winter farmers market. Get a bag of local spinach and make a salad to go alongside your braise if you’re feeling springy.

Your farmers market shopping list:

– Pack of four bone-in pork chops (bones make things tasty, keep us healthy, and you can save them for stock)
– A large yellow onion
– Bulb of garlic
– 4 carrots
– 1 small cabbage (any kind – green, red, Napa, Savoy)
– 4 medium-sized potatoes
– Cider vinegar

For the photos here (and supper with friends), I used loin chops from pigs raised by family friends who make cheese. (Cheese-making = leftover whey = pig food.)

This dish uses classic ingredients from northern and eastern Europe – pork, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, and caraway seeds (these are the seeds in rye bread). My Danish great-grandmother’s version uses sauerkraut and prunes instead of cabbage, carrots, and caraway. Her recipe is tasty, but a little intense and only makes sense if you have extra sauerkraut sitting around. The version I’m sharing here uses fresh cabbage instead. Play around with different root vegetables and spices or try it with sauerkraut if you want.

Braised Pork & Cabbage

Adapted from Martha Stewart.com
Prep time: 20 mins          Total time: 1 hour           Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (or chicken fat, lard, etc.)
  • 4 bone-in rib pork chops, 8 ounces each
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • ½ medium cabbage or one small cabbage (4 cups total, cored and chopped)
  • 4 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4-5 medium potatoes (about a 1 lb.), sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 3/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 T Dijon or whole-grain mustard
  • 1 ¼ cup water, stock, or wine from an open bottle that needs to be used up
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 t caraway seeds, optional
  • 1 bay leaf, optional
  • 1 t dried thyme, optional
  • Chopped parsley, optional (Try to use at least ONE of these herbs – ideally all.)

Don’t panic about this long list ingredients. You probably have almost all of them just gathering dust somewhere in the cupboard, right? No need to go buy any of them if you don’t have them.

Directions

  1. Prep the vegetables:

– Quarter the cabbage. Slice away the core/stem area.Chopped Cabbage (1) Slice thinly across the grain.
– I peeled the carrots because the skins looked a little weird – but I saved the skins for stock!
– Chop the onions and mince the garlic.
– Slice the potatoes.

Chopped Vegetables (1)

  1. In a Dutch oven (5-quart pot with a tight-fitting lid), heat 1 tablespoon oil over Browned Chops (1)medium-high. Generously sprinkle pork with salt. Cook until well browned, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove pork.
  2. Add remaining tablespoon oil, onion, cabbage, carrot, garlic, bay leaf, and thyme; season with salt. Don’t worry about the brown pork bits stuck to the pot. They’ll release with the moisture of the vegetables and add to the flavor. Cook, stirring Browning Vegetables (1)frequently, until vegetables have browned somewhat, about 8 minutes.
  3. Add vinegar, caraway seeds, mustard, and 1 1/4 cups water/stock/wine; bring to a boil. Add potatoes, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover, and cook until cabbage and potatoes are almost tender, about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Return pork to pot; cover, and continue cooking until pork is just cooked through and potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes more.
  5. Grind a generous amount of black pepper over braise, sprinkle with chopped parsley (if using) and serve.

This is tasty as leftovers.

If you’re inclined to be thrifty and nutritionally wise like a grandmother, save the gnawed-on bones for a stock – simmer the bones (plus any others you may have in the freezer) in 2-3 quarts of water for a few hours, adding more water if needed. In the last 30 minutes of cooking, add carrot peelings (from above), and any onion and celery scraps you have. Or add a small chopped onion, chopped stalk of celery, and a chopped carrot. Strain, cool, skim the fat, and use the broth in split pea soup, ramen, etc. (This morning I made my stock into a soup with local shiitake mushrooms, onion, ginger, spinach, and other veggies.)

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Parsnip and Carrot Muffins

By now carrot, parsnip and other root crop supplies are winding down for the spring. But before we say goodbye, why not use them in one creative, less obvious method? These muffins make a healthy breakfast option that could adapted to include additional nutritional benefits with ingredients such as ground flax seeds and golden raisins. Or, for a special celebration, turn them into cupcakes with a maple cream cheese frosting. For those of you who must hide vegetables to get picky kids or stubborn adults to eat them, this should help too.

Parsnip and Carrot Muffins

Makes 12 standard muffins or 24+ mini

Ingredients
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup yogurt
1/4 vegetable oil + more for greasing
3/4 cups maple syrup + a splash more
1/2 cup grated parsnips
3/4 cup grated carrots

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a muffin pan with vegetable oil or use muffin liners.

Place the chopped almonds and the splash of maple syrup in a small pan over medium heat. Cook until the nuts are well coated then remove to a plate to cool slightly.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl.

Whisk the eggs, yogurt, vegetable oil and maple syrup in a large mixing bowl until combined. Add the flour mixture, carrots and parsnips, and fold with a spatula until all of the flour is moistened. Divide the mixture evenly among the muffin cups.

Sprinkle the top of each muffin with the maple almonds (you’ll probably have to break them up a bit if they’ve cooled for long). Bake for 20 minutes for regular sized muffins or 8 minutes for mini, either way, checking and rotating the pans halfway through baking. Check with a toothpick for doneness. Cool for 10 minutes before removing. Serve warm.

Adapted from a recipe by Alton Brown

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Holidays = Local + Healthy

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy. Well, at least it’s easy when it comes to getting local food and incorporating that into a healthy diet.

Now it is almost winter and the once abundant local offerings of dewy lettuces, ripe berries and fragrant tomatoes at the farmers’ markets have dwindled to practically nothing after the first frost. Add to that the challenge that the holidays can bring when you are trying to eat clean, healthy and whole foods and things begin to look dim indeed.

But never fear, we have strategies. And ideas. And a recipe. Okay, we have two recipes. Because it isn’t Everyday Chef without a recipe (or two)!

Chard

Eat Your Greens

Cabbages, collards, chard, kale and mustards are just a few local greens easy to find this time of year. Incredibly healthy, these greens are frost-hardy and often get a touch sweeter as the cold sets in. Although a bit toothsome for a raw salad, kale dressed with a favorite vinaigrette and allowed to mellow out in a bowl for an hour will be delicious and tender with crunchy, toasted seeds, thinly sliced red onion and chopped apples. Throw in some fresh goat cheese, feta or cheddar and you have a satisfying and beautiful side dish that is fit for the holiday table.

Another trick to bring out the amazingness of these cold loving greens, is to cook them. Cabbage cut in wedges, lightly browned in a tablespoon of olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and then braised in liquid (stock, cider, etc), turns out a melt-in-your-mouth sweet dish that pairs beautifully with roasted meats and vegetables. Try caraway or fennel seeds for an added dimension of flavor. Collards are underappreciated, but when cooked until tender and dressed with onions, salt and pepper, they yield a buttery, tender mouthful that begs for slow cooked beans, a bit of bacon and a cold glass of cider – perfect for welcoming the New Year.

Parsnip

Get Back to Your Roots

By the time the colors on our trees are but a memory and stick season shoulders its way in before the snow, I am ready the quintessential group of winter vegetables in Vermont, root veggies. Root vegetables can be found from your local farmer throughout the winter and well into spring. They store beautifully and when all the fresh eating veggies are long gone under the drifts of snow, we can dig out beets, parsnips, carrots, potatoes, rutabaga, turnips and onions. At Thanksgiving, I like to offer a warm bowl of whipped turnips with sage, a less calorie laden alternative to our favorite mashed potatoes. A regular favorite in our house during the cold months is to chop a variety of root vegetables, toss with sliced onions, olive oil, salt and pepper and then roast on a sheet pan in an oven at 375F until the vegetables are tender. Sprinkle with a bit of fresh parsley and you have a delicious and healthy side dish for roasted meats or to use leftover in salad or soups.

Color Me Squash…Winter Squash That Is

With their gorgeous colors and shapes, thick skins that equate to long storage and nutrient rich flesh, winter squashes are the stars of winter eating. Butternut, pumpkin, acorn, delicata, kabocha, and hubbard to name but a few, can be turned into mashed mounds of orange deliciousness, thick and creamy bisque-like soups, roasted for side dishes or stuffed with a million different things and turned out as a centerpiece on the holiday table. The key to cooking with squashes is to have a sharp and sturdy knife to cut through the tough skin and use a light hand with cream, butter and salt so that the various and unique flavors of the different varieties can really shine through.

Strategize Ahead and Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself

The holidays are meant to be a celebration and food is often central to these gatherings. You may find yourself in a situation where your choices are being made for you and rather than get too caught up in the details, allow yourself to indulge and appreciate the bigger picture of being with others in a joyful way. In the meantime, strategize ahead when you can – eat a healthy meal ahead of your gathering, drink lots of water and keep your portion sizes in check.

And in honor of the recently past Halloween and my family’s ongoing fascination with the zombie apocalypse, remember don’t eat the locals, but DO eat local!

Stuffed Pumpkin

Roasted Pumpkin Stuffed with Many Good Things

Serves approximately 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side dish. Can double the recipe for a larger crowd!

Ingredients:

1 small pumpkin, about 3lbs

Salt and ground black pepper

1 ½ cups bulghur or brown rice, cooked

1 ½ cups chopped apples

¼ cup sharp cheddar

1 clove garlic, minced

1 small onion, diced

1 tsp each dried rosemary and parsley (or 1 T each of fresh, chopped)

pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

4 T shredded parmesan, divided into two parts

⅓ cup of vegetable stock or milk

Directions:

Center the rack in an oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a baking dish large enough to hold the pumpkin(s) with parchment paper. Keep in mind that you may need a bit more room to maneuver a spatula in case you want to serve the pumpkin on a different dish.

With a sharp and sturdy knife, carefully cut the top ¼ or ⅓ off from your pumpkin, like you are making a jack-o-lantern. Set aside the top. Scoop out the seeds and pulp, leaving a cavity that can be filled. Season the inside of the pumpkin with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, toss together the next 8 ingredients, setting aside 2 T of parmesan. Pour half of the measured liquid on the mixture and toss to coat. Add more liquid as needed so that the stuffing is moist, but not swimming.

Spoon the stuffing into the pumpkin until filled to the top. Any leftover stuffing can be baked separately in a dish. Set the pumpkin in the parchment lined dish and sprinkle the remaining parmesan on top of the stuffing. Put the pumpkin top on and bake until the pumpkin is tender, about 2 hours. About 20 to 30 minutes before it is done, remove the pumpkin top so the stuffing can brown.

You can serve the pumpkin straight from the baking dish or for a more elegant presentation, using a steady hand and a sturdy spatula, transfer the whole pumpkin to a serving dish. Cut into wedges and serve!

Notes: Pumpkin seeds can be cleaned and roasted with a little olive oil. All the vegetable bits, including the pumpkin pulp, can be added to a pot with water, brought to a simmer for several minutes and strained for a delicious vegetable stock.

Cooking Variations:

  • Almost any winter squash can be used in place of the pumpkin, with roasting times varying. Smaller or elongated squashes (like delicata or butternut), can be sliced in half and the cavities filled.
  • Think of this recipe as a guideline and try variations. For example, in place of the bulghur or rice, try pieces of whole grain stale bread. Or dried cranberries or apricots for the apples. Try pairing sage with chevre or mix in feta, mozzarella and swiss. This stuffing also pairs well with cooked sausage or bacon if you would like to add meat and nuts are delicious for additional protein and healthy fats.

 

Whipped Turnips with Leeks and Sage
Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

Ingredients:

4 large turnips, peeled and cubed

2 medium red potatoes, cubed with skin on

2 tablespoons of butter

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 leek, white part only, sliced thinly, soaked to remove sand/grit and then chopped finely

2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage or 1 tsp of dried sage

¾ cup milk

kosher or sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

Fill a large pot with the turnips and potatoes. Fill with cold salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until tender and soft. About 20 to 25 minutes.

In a small saucepan, combine the olive oil and butter and melt over medium low heat. Once melted, add the leeks and sage, salt and pepper and saute until the leeks are tender and the sage is fragrant, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the milk and bring to a simmer over low heat, infusing the milk with sage flavor.

Drain the turnips and potatoes, reserving about ½ cup of the liquid. Set that aside. Put the vegetables back into the pot they were cooked in, add the hot milk and using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. If needed, add small amounts of the cooking liquid to the vegetables until the puree is silky, but still thick. If you prefer a chunky texture, mash roughly until mixed. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot or cold.

 

by Elena Gustavson, RAFFL’s Everyday Chef

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

Upload-sa-f-7-27-13-050

Lisa Donohue’s CSA Standby Soup

Last Friday our friend Lisa Donohue, of the Thrive Center in Wallingford, joined us at the Friday Summer Series in downtown Rutland to share one of her favorite summer recipes: her CSA standby soup. While at its base, this is a leek and potato soup, Lisa has enhanced the Smokey House Center’s recipe with a whole variety of seasonal, local vegetables – you know, those you might acquire from your CSA and don’t know how to possibly use them all.

If you sampled her tasty soup on Friday, you would have enjoyed fresh produce from Evening Song Farm and Tangled Roots Farm, stock made from Yoder Farm chicken, and Cobb Smoked Bacon from the Wallingford Locker.

Lisa Donahue’s CSA Standby Soup

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Serving Size: 4 + Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 leeks, washed and thinly sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 1/4 lbs potatoes
  • 2 parsnips, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 4 cups chicken or veg stock (water could also be used if no stock is available)
  • 1/2 cup cream (optional)
  • any of the following for garnishing: sauteed bacon, corn, sour cream, chopped shiitake mushrooms, fresh chives or herbs

Instructions

  1. 1. Heat the oil and butter in a large pot and add the leek and celery. Cook, covered, over moderate heat for 5 minutes, or until softened, stirring occasionally.
  2. 2. Add the potato, parsnip, carrots and stock to the pan. Cover and bring to a boil. Tilt lid so the pot is partially covered and cook for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
  3. 3. Optional: Puree either with an immersion blender or cool slightly and transfer to a stand blender or food processor, blending in batches until smooth.
  4. 4. To serve hot, return the soup to the pot to reheat and stir in the cream, if using. To serve cold, chill after blending and add cream just before serving, if desired. Top with chives, bacon, corn, sour cream, or fresh herbs.
  5. Feel free to customize this soup with your favorite veggies!
  6. Adapted from the Smokey House Center in Danby, VT
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Classic Beef Stew

Growing up, beef stew was a staple in my mom’s cooking. I knew we were having it for dinner the moment I walked in the door. It’s one of those dishes that fills the house up with warm, comforting flavors. Often, she’d cook it in her slow cooker – allowing it to be a practical dish even on the busiest of weeknights.

But it’s also perfect for weekend cooking or entertaining. And even if it’s just yourself you’re cooking for, you’ll get several dinners out of the stew, making it worthwhile at any time.

Chuck roast, from the shoulder of the cow, is an ideal cut for stew. It’s economical and full of connective tissue that will break down during a slow cook and make the pieces of meat super tender. It’s just matter of cooking until the meat reaches that point of tenderness.

Start with a 2-3 pound piece of chuck. Trim the outer layer of fat then cut into one inch cubes.

Sear (brown) the meat in a large dutch oven or pot by heating a small amount of canola oil in the bottom of the pan over medium-high heat. For a good sear you will have to do a couple of batches. Just do one layer of meat at a time and be sure not to crowd the pan. Brown 2-3 minutes per side. You’re just looking to brown the meat, not cook it through at this point. When done, remove the meat from the pot.

Add in another small splash of oil then the vegetables. Use 3 cups of your choice of sliced veggies. Onions and carrots are the standard. I add in potatoes and mushrooms if I have them, or roots like turnips and rutabaga. Your call. Just cook until browned and almost tender. Season with minced garlic, dried thyme, rosemary and a bay leaf.

When done, return the meat to the pan. Now it’s time to deglaze the pot. That means scraping up the brown bits that have formed on the bottom of the pot with liquid. Red or white wine, cider or beer add some great flavor. But if you just have broth or even water – that will do the job. Just add the liquid in and gently scrape the pot with a wooden spoon.

Add in the tomatoes, broth and extra liquid, if needed, to make sure everything is covered.

Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cover. Let the stew stew for about an hour before checking the tenderness of the meat. If still chewy, continue cooking, checking every 15 minutes until ready.

If the stew looks too thin you can uncover the pot in the last 1/2 hour or so of cooking to let some of the liquid evaporate. Or, if you’d like to thicken it up even more, remove a cup of liquid from the pot and whisk in two tablespoons flour. When completely blended, stir back into the pot and cook another few minutes.

If making in the slow cooker: Follow steps 1-4 as written, then transfer everything to the slow cooker. Cook on low 4-6 hours.

Classic Beef Stew

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Yield: 6-8

Ingredients

  • Canola oil
  • 2-3lb chuck roast, trimmed of fat and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 cups sliced veggies such as onions, carrots, turnips, parsnips, rutabaga, or potato
  • 1/2 cup deglazing liquid such as wine, beer, cider or broth
  • 4 cups beef stock or broth
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons flour (optional)
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a dutch oven or large pot over medium heat.
  2. Sear the chuck, in a single layer, in batches, without crowding 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from the pan when browned but not cooked through.
  3. Add in the veggies with another tablespoon oil. Brown and cook until just slightly tender, 5 minutes. In the last couple minutes of cooking, add the garlic, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf.
  4. Return the meat to the pot and deglaze with your liquid of choice.
  5. Pour in the broth, and some water if needed, to cover everything in the pot with liquid.
  6. Bring a boil then reduce the heat to medium-low to bring the stew to a simmer. Cover and cook for about an hour.
  7. Check the tenderness of the meat. If not yet done, cover and continue cooking, checking every 15 minutes until to your liking.
  8. If you’d like to thicken the stew, remove a cup of the stew liquid and whisk in 2 tablespoons flour. Stir back into the pot and cook another 5 minutes.
  9. Taste, adding salt, if necessary, or a splash of apple cider vinegar, for some extra flavor.
  10. To serve, remove the bay leaf and top with the chopped parsley, if desired.
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Carrot Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

It’s the winter that will never end. This time last year there were plenty of fresh local greens available and peas were already growing strong. Right now, as I write and look out my window upon Rutland, I can’t even see the ground. But it’s somewhere under all the dirty snow. Let’s just hope we see it sometime soon.

In the meantime, were not completely starved of good local food. You can still find root crops for sale that were stored and perhaps overwintered and dug up from last season. Carrots are just one of those crops – yet one that should not be overlooked for creative uses. Carrot cake is one idea. It’s certainly a popular dessert at the upcoming Easter holiday table and it is also widely loved in the UK. During the first and second world wars, due to rationing, carrots were added to cakes as a means of adding moisture. Eventually, the popularity of carrot cake made its way over here.

While carrot cake is great, we can’t forget it’s loaded with sugar and cream cheese frosting. Not something you want everyday. These cookies, from 101 Cookbooks, however, are another story. They’re made without refined white sugar, eggs and butter. Here you can actually taste the carrot, as well as the oats, coconut and walnuts that make up these cookies. Sweetened with maple syrup and containing olive oil, they’re a better alternative for an everyday type of treat. In a few minutes, you can have a comforting plate of cookies to enjoy while you watch the snow melt.

Carrot Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 11 minutes

Yield: 2 1/2 dozen cookies

I changed a few things from the original recipe. I used olive oil in place of the coconut oil and added in shredded coconut in its place. Then I added some cinnamon. I found the cookies needed a couple more minutes than Heidi suggests, and be sure to let them cool on the pan before transferring.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and oats. Add the nuts, carrots and coconut. In a smaller bowl use a whisk to combine the maple syrup, oil and ginger. Add this to the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
  3. Drop onto baking sheets, one tablespoonful at a time, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie.
  4. Bake in the top 1/3 of the oven for 12 – 15 minutes or until the cookies are golden. Cookies will be delicate. Let cool for a couple of minutes on the sheet before carefully transferring to a wire rack.
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Gado Gado: An Indonesian Salad

You probably don’t need another salad recipe. That’s why I’m sharing a salad idea. Gado Gado, which translates to “mix mix,” is made up of surprisingly ordinary ingredients – raw or cooked vegetables, greens, eggs, tofu or tempeh, and peanut sauce are typical.
But with variations throughout Indonesia, there is no one way to prepare the dish or a set list of ingredients to adhere to. In fact, Gado Gado is one of the most popular dishes in Indonesia and I’m betting that’s because of the versatility. Or maybe because it’s just a great way to toss together leftovers.

Gado Gado: An Indonesian Salad

Ingredients

For the salad:
    • Greens
    • Cooked rice
    • Your choice of vegetables, either raw or cooked or a mix of both – such as broccoli, beans, cabbage, snow peas, carrots, or sprouts
    • Protein – tofu, tempeh, eggs, shredded chicken or pork
    • Peanut sauce
For the peanut sauce:
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp. grated ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp.soy sauce
  • Crushed red pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • Salt, if needed

pbsauce

However, a good peanut sauce is at the heart of Gado Gado. It’s probably the one thing you need to pay attention to here. I referenced Mollie Katzen’s recipe in The New Moosewood Cookbookthough based on other peanut sauces I’ve made, the ingredients here are pretty standard.

Just combine peanut butter with soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, water and red pepper flakes in a blender or food processor until smooth.

What I love about peanut sauces is that they encompass so many of our basic tastes – sweet, sour, salty, umami and maybe even a little bitter. It could be why I could put the sauce on almost anything.

Play with the ratios of these ingredients to make the sauce flavored to your liking. It’s easy to up the red pepper, for instance, and transform it into a really spicy peanut sauce if that’s what your feeling. Or increase the sugar for a sweet version. Experiment and customize it to the food you’re putting it on.

I’ve also seen peanut sauces amplified with coconut milk, fish sauce and/or lime juice. You could try adding these in too, but I think the ingredients listed here make a good start.

I used Katzen’s idea here by adding 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric to the rice as it cooked (2 cups rice simmered in 3 cups water until tender, adding more water, if need). The turmeric adds some color, a little flavor, and all of those health claims people are raving about lately. Interestingly, it’s dubbed the poor man’s saffron.

Then add your vegetables to the plate. I quickly steamed snow peas, carrots, and shiitakes. Be creative in your combo and if you prefer a crunch, skip the cooking and enjoy them raw. Next goes the protein. I luckily found a hard boiled egg left in the fridge and I was content with just that. Tofu and tempeh are popular in Gado Gado, though I don’t see why shredded chicken or pork couldn’t work either. If you have it, use it. If you want it, cook it up or go get it. You can put as much or as little effort into this dish and as long as your peanut sauce is good, I don’t see how you can go wrong.

gado

Finally, drizzle on the peanut sauce. Don’t skimp. Toss, or perhaps I should say mix, it all together. If you want, throw on a topping. I chose pea shoots, but chopped peanuts could work or how about some fresh herbs? And that folks, is all there is to Gado Gado.

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Orange Maple Glazed Carrots

I don’t cook carrots often enough and I have no idea why. They’re colorful, crunchy and delicious without requiring much embellishment to highlight their awesomeness. I often unfairly regulate them to the standard raw salad or happily enjoy them in carrot coconut soup, but I’m always pleased with the result of a simple, light cooking.

Glazing a root vegetable like carrots – or parsnips or rutabaga – is accomplished through braising. That is, cooking on top of the stove in a small amount of liquid that is reduced down to a light coating, aka glaze, but the time the vegetable is tender.

carrots

Peel and slice your carrots. Or skip the peeling if you want and just give them a good wash, especially if they’re local. Then slice. I go with about a 1/4 inch slice, not too thin or thick. That way they will be perfectly tender yet still crisp. Slice them too thick and they won’t cook up enough in this quick braise.

I find that a wider pan works better than a small pot for quickly reducing the liquid and creating a nice glaze.

Any liquid works for a braise and orange juice pairs perfectly with carrots. Maybe it’s the orange color? Try wine, broth, beer, cider or fruit juice, depending on the ingredient you’re braising. You don’t need much, though. We’re not boiling the carrots here, so only a few will be submerged.

I threw some raisins in the pan, another nice complement to carrots, but you don’t have to.

carrots and raisens

Bring the liquid to a boil, cover and reduce the heat so that a steady, rapid simmer continues in the pan. It will take about 15 minutes, give or take, for the liquid to reduce and carrots to approach tenderness. At this point, you want to remove the cover and add in some maple syrup. Everything is better with maple. But there’s no need to get carried away with it, as carrots have a bit of sweetness on their own.

From there, it’s just another couple of minutes before the carrots are ready for dinner. Or snacking, because, like me, you just might want to eat them right out of the pan and that’s okay too.

carrots finished

 

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