hot-pepper-herb-sauces-credit-julia-a-reed-8

Using Up Wilty Herbs

You know those bunches of herbs that collect at the bottom of the fridge crisper? They get wilty and we feel guilty for not having the time and motivation to use them faster. But don’t worry and don’t throw them away. Instead, wash them, compost any yellowed or gross-looking leaves, pat them dry, and toss them in a food processor with garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Use this delicious green sauce as a dip for chips or crusty bread. Or with the addition of some vinegar or citrus juice, use it as a marinade for pork chops or steak. Add it to salad dressing or hot-pepper-herb-sauces-credit-julia-a-reed-14put it on pizza crust or polenta pie with some feta and onions. Or add ground toasted nuts and grated Parmesan for a pasta topping. Have too much? Freeze it for later and now you have the beginnings of a quick meal.

What can you use for green sauce?
– parsley or cilantro leaves and stems
– other soft herbs like marjoram
– arugula
– kale
– and of course the traditional pesto ingredient, basil
– a mix of any or all of these is good too

Real pesto from Genoa, Italy is traditionally made using a marble mortar and pestle with basil, garlic, pine nuts, salt, Parmesan and pecorino sardo cheeses and olive oil. I don’t like to mess with tradition. However, I DO think that it’s okay to make something out of what you have in front of you, which is why I call my parsley and sunflower seed green sauce “New England Pesto.” (On the topic of authenticity in food versus following the original spirit of a dish, I like this article by chef and food writer J. Kenji López-Alt.)

New England Pesto (with Parsley & Sunflower Seeds)

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients:

3 cups loosely packed fresh parsley, including stems – flat-leafed variety preferred*
1/3 cup sunflower seeds, toasted in a dry pan or 350° oven until golden brown
2 large garlic cloves, grated or mashed
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (OPTIONAL)

Directions:pesto-cropped

Knife option
1. Chop parsley finely with a sharp knife.
2. Grind the toasted sunflower seeds in a mortar and pestle.
3. Add to parsley and mix in salt, garlic, pepper, olive oil, and Parmesan if using.
4. Adjust seasonings and olive oil as necessary.

Food processor option
1. Add all the ingredients together and process until smooth. 2. Adjust seasonings and olive oil as necessary.

Serve on pasta, veggies, or on a slice of bread.

*You can substitute other herbs and greens you may have around – see above.

– Bethany Fleishman

Photo credit: Julia A. Reed and Vital Communities staff

plump purple eggplant in bin by SC, 2008

Easy Eggplants

I’m sharing my two favorite ways to cook eggplant. They’re both easy and interesting, and are a good way to make eggplant delicious.

The first is simply to slice an eggplant lengthwise – from stem to bottom – into 1/2 inch slices. Salt and oil the slices well on both sides, and spread on a baking sheet, place on an oven rack near the heating element, and roast on the BROIL setting until one side is golden brown. This only takes a few minutes! Then flip each slice with a fork and broil on the other side. You know they’re done when a fork pierces the flesh like a chainsaw through butter. Under-cooked eggplant is like eating a wet sock, so aim for a golden, almost crisp outside and a creamy inside. Plenty of oil makes them delicious and brown well.

Now take them out, let them cool enough to handle, then chop into chunks (leaving the skin on) and throw into pasta sauce, onto pizza or sandwiches, or with dressing for a salad.

Okay, now for the impressive but easy eggplant dish in the style of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean mothers and grandmothers. This is essentially what’s known in Arabic as baba ganoush, the famous smoked eggplant spread for pita.

Do you have access to an open flame, either a gas stove, a grill, or an open fire? Great. If not, I have directions for using an oven, though it won’t have the smoky taste.

Smoky Eggplant Spread (baba ganoush)

Ingredients

  • 1 large or several small eggplants, any variety, 1 to 1 1/2 pounds total
  • the juice and grated rind of half a lemon, or lime if that’s on hand
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large clove of garlic, smashed or grated
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, or more
  • Small bunch of chopped parsley or cilantro
  • Freshly ground pepper, dash of cayenne, or chopped fresh smokey-eggplant-spread-croppedhot pepper (OPTIONAL)
  • Spoonful of sesame tahini (OPTIONAL)

Directions

Open flame method
1. Place whole raw eggplant(s) onto a grill or DIRECTLY over the low flame of your gas stove.
2. Let the skin closest to the flame char, then slowly rotate the eggplant with a pair of tongs until the whole thing is blackened and very soft. DON’T LEAVE IT UNATTENDED!
3. Make sure you get the eggplant ends and all sides blackened and soft. Juices may drip out, and that’s okay – just wipe up the stove afterwards.
4. Transfer the eggplant (now floppy and burnt) to a cutting board to cool.
5. When it’s cool enough to handle, chop off the stem and peel away the charred skin with your fingers or a butter knife. Leaving a few flecks of blackened skin is fine – it’s hard to get it all off!
6. Finely chop the flesh and transfer it to a large bowl.

Oven method
1. Heat oven to 400° F.
2. Using a fork, prick the eggplant all over.
3.Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast until very tender, 50 to 60 minutes.
4. When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, halve it lengthwise and scrape out the flesh, discarding the skin. Finely chop the flesh and transfer it to a large bowl.

Add to the cooked eggplant
To the finely chopped cooked eggplant flesh, add the remaining ingredients. Mix everything together and serve on top of warm pita bread or on crackers.

No, it’s not very pretty, but it’s delicious.

How to choose eggplants

Choose eggplants that are firm, glossy, and smooth. Once they sit around and start getting soft, dull, and spotty, they don’t seem to cook as well.

The round pale purples ones (“Beatrice” variety), the small stripey ones (“graffiti” variety),  the long slender Japanese ones and the hard to find tiny “Fairy Tale” variety are my favorites to cook and eat. But any and all are good, as long as they’re fresh!

– Bethany Fleishman

Photos: by Molly Drummond and Vital Communities staff

Blueberry Galatte3 credit Julia A Reed

Beautiful Blueberry Galette

Blueberries are my absolute favorite local food! I’ve been loving blueberries longer then it’s been known that they have amazing health benefits – long before they were cool. Fresh, right off the bush is my preferred preparation (or lack of preparation… ), but baked into a breakfast treat or a sweet dessert is fine with me, too (especially if you add some Strafford Organic Sweet Cream Ice Cream). In salads, salsas, sauces – all good.

Blueberry season is here and the picking is great. Search for blueberries on the online Valley Food & Farm Guide to find pick-your-own farms near you or grab a pint at your farmers’ market or farmstand (grab a couple extra pints and freeze them for a winter treat).

 

Rosemary Blueberry Galette

adapted from lisina of Food 52

Julia A Reed food photos EDC shoot Aug 2015 (2)
Rolling pin credit Julia A Reed1700x500
Rosemary Crust
  • 1 1/4 cups all-pupose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour
  • tablespoons fresh rosemary, very finely chopped
  • tablespoons turbinado sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • teaspoon salt
  • 16 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cups ice-cold water
  • egg, beaten, for glazing the crust

 

Blueberry Filling
  • pints fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • lemon, juiced
  • tablespoons flour

Blueberry galette process400x250 credit Julia A Reed

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F
  2. Mix together first 5 ingredients. Cut in the cubed butter (you can use knives, and food processor, a pastry cutter, your cold hands) until it resembles course corn meal or the butter is the size of a pea.
  3. Add the ice water and combine until the dough JUST begins to come together (use the pulse function if using a food processor) – don’t over mix or the crust will be tough.
  4. Turn the crust mixture out onto some plastic wrap, then wrap it and flatten it into a disk shape. Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.
  5. Combine all the filling ingredients into a bowl and mix well, so that the sugar and flour coat all the blueberries.
  6. Remove the chilled crust from the fridge. On a flour dusted piece of parchment large enough to cover your baking sheet, roll out the dough until it is between 1/8 and 1/4-inch thick.
  7. Spoon the filling and its juices into the middle of the crust and spread it out, leaving a 2-inch border of crust. Fold the border of the crust over onto the filling, creating rustic edges.
  8. Brush the crust with the beaten egg and sprinkle it with sugar. Slide the parchment and galette onto a baking sheet. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

blueberry galette process credit Julia A Reed

 

 

Corn Pea Zucchini Succotash3 credit Julia A Reed cropped

Sufferin’ Succotash

My childhood memories of succotash are not good. I distinctly remember dumping my bowl of succotash in the bushes during an evening picnic when I was around six years old because the mushy tasteless succotash (likely canned) was standing between me and dessert. I discreetly dumped it in the bushes when no one was looking and innocently asked for dessert.

The dish that I couldn’t stomach way back when is a far cry from the hip and delicious take on succotash I served for dinner tonight. Succotash is Narragansett (an extinct Algonquian language) for “broken corn kernels” and is traditionally made with corn and lima beans. These days, creative chefs  have expanded the definition and have made a vegetable dish that is easy and versatile. Corn is still the star, but you can be really inventive by cooking corn with whatever vegetables you have in the freezer, in the refrigerator (great use of left over vegetable), or in the garden (we have a few more month for this to be an option). Tonight I pulled some garden corn and peas from the freezer when I got home from work, added some onions and herbs, and had an easy side dish in less than 20 minutes.

There is nothing like a sweet summer succotash made with corn just off the cob with it’s sweet sugar milk (this is a great use of leftover corn on the cob!) and an assortment of fresh veggies (zucchini, summer squash, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, etc.). This is an easy, healthy, and light side. I long for the days of walking out to the garden and picking dinner, but on this snowy January night cooking up some frozen and stored veggies made for a taste of summer on this cold evening.

frozen ingredients

Sufferin’ Succotash
Guidelines only, go wild and be creative

Corn off the cob (fresh or freshly frozen)
Sweet peas, edamame, lima beans, fava beans (fresh or freshly frozen)
Onion/leeks/scallions, chopped
Other veggies: zucchini/summer squash/broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, yams, tomatoes…anything you can think of
Butter, (3 Tbsp+/-) because everything is better with butter
Thyme & sage, fresh or dried
Salt & pepper to taste.

Defrost any frozen veggies, steam/boil any fresh veggies. Melt the butter in a pan, cook onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add vegetables and herbs and cook for 5-10 minutes and serve.

cooking onions

winter succotash

Below is a photo of a summer succotash I made last summer with fresh from the garden corn (off the cob), shell peas, sweet onion, and fresh herbs… yum!

Photo credit Julia A Reed

Photo credit Julia A Reed

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

herb starts

Herbs: Bring on the Fresh

Cooking with herbs lends a bright, fresh note to food and whether used sparingly or with gusto, can completely transform a dish.

Easy to grow (many tend to benefit from benign neglect), herbs can live on a sunny windowsill or outside in a garden, making it fairly easy for most cooks to keep on hand. Read on for five different ways to use fresh herbs in your everyday cooking.

Herbs

Salad Dressings and Marinades

Herbs like parsley, thyme and cilantro, can play a starring role when it comes to salad dressing and marinade. Combine vinegar or lemon juice, a heart healthy oil like olive, safflower or canola oil, salt and pepper with your favorite, readily available herbs. Don’t be afraid to really pack in the green! Stem woody herbs like thyme or oregano, and roughly chop the stems and leaves of softer herbs like basil, parsley, cilantro and chives. If you decide to stem all of your herbs, throw the stems into a favorite oil to infuse overnight or bring a pot of vinegar to a simmer, add the herbal discards, cover and let steep for an hour or two. Strain out the solids, bottle and use on anything you like!

parsley

Herb Pastes: Pesto, Pistou & Sofrito
Combining fresh herbs with olive oil and garlic is used throughout many regions in the world. Many of us are familiar with pesto – a sauce made by processing basil with olive oil and garlic, along with pine nuts (or pignolas) and parmesan cheese – but there are variations of this sauce throughout the world. Pistou, originating in the Provencal region of France, processes basil with sea salt, olive oil and garlic – no cheese or nuts. Sofrito uses cilantro, garlic and olive oil, adding peppers and paprika to the mix.

My favorite is a very basic paste of herbs (basil, parsley, cilantro or a combination thereof), garlic, olive oil and a pinch of kosher or sea salt, frozen in 1 1/2 inch logs wrapped in parchment, wax or freezer paper. I then pop the logs in a plastic bag and freeze. Whenever I need a bit of fresh herb flavor for sauces, butters, marinades, etc, I take a sharp knife and slice off what I need – no thawing necessary – and pop everything right back in the freezer for next time.

cilantro

Herb Salad
Nothing says summer than a fresh herb salad. Mix mints with basil, lemon balm with oregeno, cilantro with garlic chives or any other combination you can think of. For a quick salad, mix your favorite herbs with shredded greens like chard or spinach. Sprinkle with sea salt, ground black pepper, minced garlic, a sprinkle of your favorite vinegar or squeeze of something citrus and a heart healthy oil like olive or safflower. If you had a few edible flowers to include like nasturiums, borage, or violets, all the better.

Tea
When you have more herbs than you know what to do with, make tea! Mint, an easy to grow herb, can be used fresh by either pouring boiling water over leaves or allowing them to soak for a couple of hours in cold water. Also try basil or parsley with lemon, chamomile and thyme with a slice of cucumber. You can also gather herbs and dry on paper towels or by hanging in a dry, breezy spot, out of direct sun. Store in an airtight container and enjoy all winter long.

 

Preserving Summer Herbs
Most of us know that herbs can be preserved by drying or by processing into oil (like the herb pastes above) and freezing, but you can also preserve herbs in butter and vinegar.

For butter, add one part minced herbs to two parts softened butter and mix. Shape into a 1 1/2 inch log, wrap in paper and freeze. Slice what you need when you need it, straight out of the freezer!

For vinegars, you will need glass bottles with cork stoppers or plastic lids (vinegar eats away at metal). Fill the bottle(s) with cider vinegar for more robust herbs like rosemary or white wine vinegar for more delicate tasting herbs like lemon balm or thyme. Add fresh or dried herbs, pushing into the bottles with a chopstick or wooden skewer, and close the bottle tightly. Use 1/2 cup of herbs to 2 cups of vinegar, but feel free to experiment with ratios. Store in a cool, dry place.

 

by Elena Gustavson, Everyday Chef

2031

Blueberry Thyme Zucchini Bread

Brace yourself. The zucchini invasion is upon us. And it’s only going to get worse.

At first, just a few short weeks ago, you were excited for the first squashes of the season – either in your garden, CSA, or at the market. But then you ate a couple. And another. Then a few more. Eventually the charm wore off. Now, they’re slowly piling up on your counter, one by one. You realize that perhaps you shouldn’t have planted twelve squash plants after all.

Now what do you do? Simple. Put zucchini in everything. But mostly, in things where you don’t even realize it’s there. And better, paired with other seasonal ingredients that can steal the focus.

Memories of your grandmother’s zucchini bread will remind you that this is certainly not a revolutionary concept. I haven’t come across a ton of recipes where blueberries were part of the mix (pun intended), though. What if you threw in some chocolate and a little thyme? Suddenly, it becomes more unique and you forget there was ever zucchini there to begin with.

Unless you are without a food processor and have to grate that zucchini by hand. In which case, it’s really not that terrible. Three medium zucchini are generally enough for two loaves of bread and that’s not too much effort. The processor just cuts the time down to a few seconds rather than 5 minutes.

The blueberries add a mouth popping burst of flavor while the thyme lends an earthiness that cuts the bread’s sweetness. If including chocolate, go for dark. I go through these breads for breakfast in no time and I don’t care for or benefit from too much sugar in the am. Add your own combination of nuts and seeds if you want.

Blueberry Thyme Zucchini Bread

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Yield: 2 loaves

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • zest of 1 lemon or lime
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts or seeds
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate pieces (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F and grease two 8×4 inch bread pans liberally.
  2. Mix the zucchini, sugar, oil, yogurt, zest, vanilla and eggs in a bowl.
  3. Remove the leaves from the sprigs of thyme by pinching your thumb and forefinger and running them down the stem. Add to the mixture.
  4. Whisk together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon in a second bowl.
  5. Combine the wet and dry ingredients.
  6. Gently stir in the blueberries and walnuts.
  7. Pour the batter into the greased loaf pans.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick pushed into the center comes out clean, about 50-60 minutes.
basil

Parmesan Herb Meatballs

I realized earlier this summer that I needed to do some planning ahead. These meatballs were one tactic. Last month, I baked up a large batch and then popped them in the freezer for a quick protein addition for a variety of meals.

I used half ground beef and half ground sausage, which is not entirely the meatball norm, but what I think really makes these stand out is the large amount of fresh herbs.

Basil, parsley and oregano were my choice at the time. Thyme, sage, rosemary, fennel and even mint, could all be interesting though. You might just need to adjust the amount of herbs depending on what you go with. The amount I suggest in the recipe is based on larger leafy herbs like parsley and basil. Use more or less, to your liking.

I started by sauteing some onion with garlic and red pepper flakes.

meatball-mix

Then mixed that together with the ground meat, chopped herbs, plenty of grated Parmesan, an egg and breadcrumbs. Don’t be fooled by the spoon pictured here, meatballs are meant to be mixed and formed by hand. Just wash your hands well before and after handling the meat to avoid contaminating anything. Coating your hands in a little oil before rolling the meatballs could help prevent the meat from sticking to you.

meatballs

I rolled them out just larger than the size of golf balls and browned them in the oven. Once cooled, I slid the whole tray into the freezer. Freezing them separately at first, then transporting them to a freezer bag ensured they didn’t all stick together and that I could easily take just a few out as needed. After I take them out of the freezer, I make sure to cook finish cooking them through, as I was only looking to brown them at first.

How do I use the meatballs? If I remember, I transfer a few from the freezer to the fridge earlier in the day to defrost. A few times, I’ve braised a few in a little broth, thickened the broth to make a sauce, and served them with vegetables and a grain. Or, I’ve gone the traditional route and simmered them in tomato sauce to toss with pasta. I’m craving a meatball sandwich right now, so maybe that’s my next use. No matter what, I’ve saved myself some time trying to put together a balanced meal.

Parmesan Herb Meatballs

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 20 – 25 meatballs

 Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh chopped herbs, such as parsley, basil, mint and oregano
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup bread, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • A splash of milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan over medium high heat. When hot, add the garlic, red pepper flakes and onion. Saute until translucent, about 8 minutes and season with salt and pepper. Reserve the pan.
  3. In a large bowl combine the meat, egg, herbs, Parmesan, bread, milk, salt and pepper. Use your hands to gently, but thoroughly, combine it all together. It should be very moist. If not, add just a tiny bit more milk. Return your pan to the stove and place a small piece of the meat mixture in the pan to cook through. Taste and adjust the meat seasoning, as needed.
  4. Roll pieces of the meat into balls, just slightly larger than the size of a golf ball. Space them out on a baking sheet. If it’s lined with parchment paper, all the better. You’ll need at least two sheets. Place the sheets in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes. Let the pans cool, then place in the freezer until frozen through. You could place them on a large plate or platter, if that works better for you. When frozen, transfer the meatballs to freezer bags, seal, and use within 3 months for best quality. When ready to use, ensure that the meatballs are heated well and cooked through.
039

Beef, Turkey & Mushroom Meatloaf with Cider Mustard Gravy

I grew up eating meatloaf on a regular basis. It was a popular item in my mom’s dinner rotation, usually served with baked potatoes – because they could bake at the same time – and a green vegetable, like broccoli. Although I’ve knocked my mom’s cooking on occasion (sorry, mom) I actually liked her meatloaf quite a bit. And the leftovers made for a good sandwich on toasted bread with cheese and ketchup.

But not everyone has happy memories of meatloaf and there’s that association with bad cafeteria food. Just the sound of it is perceived as a bit unappetizing. A loaf of meat? Surely someone could have thought of a better name. Though isn’t it strange how no one reacts that way to meatballs, especially when a meatloaf and a meatball are so similar? Hmm.

Traditional meatloaf “mix” is packaged with beef and pork. But as I browsed around the Rutland Co-op last week, turkey caught my eye over pork.  I guess my turkey craving couldn’t wait for Thanksgiving. Mushrooms called to me as well and add an extra savory depth to the loaf. And that’s what I love about foods like meatloaf, meatballs and burgers – you can always play with the flavors.

Chopped onion, garlic, sage and thyme flavor the meat as well, while egg and breadcrumbs bind it all together. It’s really pretty simple to put together, that must have been why my mom relied on it so often. Once the meat is mixed it bakes unattended for nearly an hour.

meatloaf ingredients

The best tool for mixing meat is your hands. Don’t be afraid to get a little dirty.

You don’t need a loaf pan for a meatloaf. It bakes up fine just shaped on a baking sheet. See the large flecks of onion? Yum. But if you’re not an onion fan, chop those up a bit more than I did here.

cider gravy
A little homemade gravy cannot be overlooked when serving meatloaf.  Just save some of the onion from the loaf, cook it with tomato paste, mustard and flour, reduce with apple cider and it’s good to go well before the meatloaf comes out of the oven. Or if you’re on top of your game and have the gravy made before the meatloaf is in the oven, spoon some over top before baking.

meatloaf

Beef, Turkey & Mushroom Meatloaf with Cider Mustard Gravy

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup bread crumbs (or 1 large slice of bread, chopped)
  • 2 cups broth (beef, turkey or vegetable)
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 10 leaves sage, chopped
  • 8 sprigs thyme, leaves removed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • A small bunch fresh parsley, roughly chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. In a small bowl, pour one cup of the broth over the breadcrumbs and let sit for a minute as you prepare the other ingredients.
  3. Combine the beef, turkey, mushrooms, half of the chopped onion, garlic, herbs and egg in a large bowl. Mix together with your hands and fold in the breadcrumbs. Season well with salt and pepper.
  4. Form the meat mixture into one large loaf or two smaller loaves on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size of your loaf.
  6. Meanwhile, in a small pot cook the onion, tomato paste and mustard in a tablespoon of the oil. When onions have softened, about 5 minutes, sprinkle over the flour. Cook another minute, then add the remaining cup of broth and the cider. Simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes, then add in the parsley.
  7. Slice the meatloaf and serve with the gravy.

February Recipes: Roasted Veggies, Tarts, Pancakes, and Soup

It’s challenging to eat local this time of year, but here are some easy and delicious recipes to try featuring cabbage, carrots, onions, and potatoes – all of which can still be found at Upper Valley farm stands and farmers’ markets. Vermont Harvest of the Month, also, has a selection of great recipes using cabbage, the February vegetable of the month.

cabbage

Roasted Cabbage And Apples With Italian Sausage
Recipe courtesy The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen 

Ingredients
Servings: 4

1/2 head red cabbage, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 medium apple, sliced
2 sprigs thyme
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 lb fresh spicy sausage
Crusty bread (for serving)

Preparation
Active: 10 minutes. Total 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400°. Toss cabbage, onion, apple, thyme sprigs, vinegar, 1 Tbsp. oil, and 1/4 cup water in a 13×9″ baking dish; season with salt and pepper and roast, covered, until cabbage is wilted and softened, 35–45 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Cook sausages until browned and cooked through, 10–12 minutes. Add to cabbage during last 10 minutes of cooking, tossing to coat. Serve with bread.

 

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Roasted Carrot-Parsnip Soup
Courtesy of Sara Quessenberry, Real Simple
 Ingredients
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 1/2 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 1 yellow onion, quartered
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400° F.
  2. In a large roasting pan, combine the carrots, parsnips, onion, 3 tablespoons of the oil, 1½ teaspoons salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Spread the vegetables in an even layer and roast, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden brown, about 45 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, arrange the bread slices on a baking sheet and brush with the remaining oil. During the last 10 minutes of roasting time, toast the slices until crisp.
  4. Transfer the vegetables to a blender and purée with 3 cups water, adding more water if necessary, ¼ cup at a time, until smooth. Rewarm in a pot over medium-low heat, if necessary. Divide among individual bowls and serve with the olive oil toast.
The Ultimate Onion Tart
By Laila Gohar
Servings: 6
Man-buying-onions-from-Steve-Fulton-Blue-Ox-Farm-FOV09-vff-camera-085-300x225Ingredients
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 2 pounds yellow onions, sliced into rings
  • 2 springs fresh thyme
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 5 strips bacon, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Melt the butter and oil together in a large skillet and add the diced bacon. Cook until the bacon is halfway cooked.
  2. Add the thyme, onion and salt to the skillet. Cook on medium-low heat until the onions are completely translucent and caramelized. This will take around 30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Combine 2 eggs and the half and half in a bowl. Add the caramelized onion mixture and the freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Roll out the puff pastry in a buttered pie or glass dish. (Make sure the pastry has four edges in order to hold the onion mixture.)
  5. Add the mixture to the pastry and bake for 35 minutes or until the crust and top are slightly browned.
  6. Allow to cool, then slice and serve.
Potato Pancakes
courtesy of Food.com
Edgewater-Potato-PancakesB-293x300
 Ingredients
  • 3 lbs potatoes, peeled
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1⁄2cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
Preparation
  1. Keep potatoes covered with cold water until ready to grate in the food processor.
  2. Fit the medium shredding blade into food processor and shred potatoes and onion.
  3. Dry potatoes and onion between sheets of paper towel.
  4. In a large bowl combine potato mixture with eggs, flour, baking powder, parsley and salt. In a large skillet heat 1/8 inch vegetable oil until hot. Pour in 1/3 cup potato mixture, flattening with the back of a wooden spoon, and fry until crisp and golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towel and keep warm in a 100 degree oven.

 

 

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