A Strawberry Rhubarb Beverage

While making the strawberry rhubarb compote recently, I thought I was pretty clever. For whichever use I had intended for the deliciously sweet fruit mixture – I’ve tried making it in so many ways recently, I’ve lost track – I found myself with way too much liquid. Both the strawberries and rhubarb give off a ton of their flavor this way when cooking. So I drained off the excess and thought – why not use it to sweeten a beverage? Because really, it’s pretty much a flavored simple syrup but with mostly natural fruit sugar.

I looked to my meager bar supply and thought gin would be a good pairing. And it was. I enjoy a good gin and tonic in the warm months and this addition was excellent. Though I wasn’t the only one with this thought. NPR just featured a rhubarb cocktail – except, to their error, without the strawberry aspect. Other sites offered similar ideas as well, but I didn’t see any where they were also utilizing the cooked fruit. As long as you’re not straining out every ounce of moisture from the compote – and how much you drain is dependent on your intended use – you’ve got yourself one great drink for nothing.  You can thank me later.

A Strawberry Rhubarb Beverage

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 1 serving

Skip the gin for a non-alcoholic, yet still delicious version. Or use fresh lemonade in place of the water.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces drained syrup from the Strawberry rhubarb compote
  • 2 ounces gin
  • 6 ounces tonic water or club soda
  • Lime quarters
  • Strawberries (for garnish)

Instructions

  1. In a tall glass, combine the syrup, gin and ice. Squeeze in some lime juice then stir everything together. Garnish with a strawberry.

How To Grill Veggies: Tips and a Few Recipes

We certainly got lucky this past Saturday. Despite the very un-summer like weather we’ve been having, the sun was actually shining. And the deliciously grown foods available at that morning’s market were just waiting to hit the grill. With the expertise of guest chef Randal Smathers, we set up at Rutland’s newest community garden (The Northwest Garden located on the corner of Park and Baxter streets) and demonstrated to neighbors and passersby to how easy and tasty it is to grill fresh vegetables.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway of the event was that almost anything can be grilled. Tomatoes, peppers, squashes, onions, snap peas, fennel and corn were just a few items we used with a degree of success. We don’t suggest grilling rhubarb, however – though it was a fun experiment.

Here are a few of Randal’s grilling tips:

  • Oil the grill – not the veggies. This prevents burning and an unpleasant oily taste. When oiling the grill, do so just lightly and apply with a paper towel. It’s also important to make sure the grill is well cleaned beforehand.
  • It’s much easier to grill the veggies first, then chop. Smaller pieces are more difficult to control when on the grill and it’s easy to lose them down the grates.
  • Pay attention to the grill. Foods can cook pretty quick, especially veggies, and it doesn’t take long for something to burn.

And here’s what we made:

Grilled Veggie Salad. There’s really no recipe for this one. Just grill up your favorite mix of vegetables, slice and toss together with just a little olive oil, salt and any fresh herbs you have on hand.

 

Grilled Salsa

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: about 4 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 ears of corn
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 onion, halved and papery outside skin removed
  • 2 medium – hot peppers (your preference)
  • small bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • hot sauce (optional)
  • lime juice (optional)

Instructions

  1. Soak the ears of corn in water for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the grill to high heat and lightly coat the crates with olive oil.
  3. Place the corn, tomatoes, onion and peppers on the grill, intact.
  4. Cook until everything is slightly charred.
  5. Let cool a couple of minutes before handling and then remove the corn husks, tomato stem and outer layer of skin on the peppers and onions.
  6. Slice the corn off the cob, chop the onions, peppers, tomatoes and the cilantro.
  7. Toss everything together in a large bowl with some salt, a glug of oil and a splash of lime juice, and a couple dashes of hot sauce, if using.
Grilled Veggie Salad with Honey Yogurt Dressing

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 +

You can use any combo of fresh veggies and herbs here. Try it as a side to meat or main dish tossed with pasta. If you already have grilled veggies leftover, you can put this together in just a couple of minutes.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of mixed grilled veggies sliced into medium sized pieces
  • 1 cup of fresh herbs, chopped (use your favorite mix of summer herbs)
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon grill seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • salt

Instructions

  1. Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Summer Corn Chowder

Sweet, crunchy and slightly rich. It’s summer corn time. And when added to this chowder, those flavors are only further enhanced – and not drowned out with cream. With some smart techniques, there’s no need for such embellishments or reason to consider corn chowder anything but healthy.

Summer Corn Chowder

Ingredients

  • Kernels from 6 ears of fresh corn, cobs reserved
  • 3 tablespoons butter or oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small bunch of chives or scallions, or 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (only if your corn isn’t sweet)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 small bunch of thyme, tied together with string
  • 2 large baking potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 quart milk, half-and-half or nondairy milk
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 lb bacon, chopped (optional – cook in pot before step 2 until crispy, then remove and use to garnish)

Instructions

  1. Cover the reserved cobs with water in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and let simmer for 30 minutes as you prep the rest of your ingredients. When done, discard cobs and pour the broth into a large bowl.
  2. In the same pot, heat the oil or butter over medium heat. Add the garlic, chives, sugar and thyme. Stir and cook for a minute.
  3. Pour the broth back into the pot with the chopped potatoes and 1/2 of the corn kernels. Generously season with salt, cover and simmer about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  4. (Optional) Use an immersion blender to blend the soup just slightly to thicken. Or, transfer a portion of the soup to a traditional blender if desired.
  5. Add in the remaining corn kernels, the tomato and the milk. Simmer another 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  6. Ladle into bowls, top with the bacon, if using, and a sprig of thyme.

You start by slicing the corn kernels off your cobs. Simplify the process by using the setup pictured here. More details on that in a previous post.

Then, take those de-kerneled cobs, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20-30 minutes to remove their hidden flavor – perhaps as you prep the rest of your ingredients. Though this can always be done ahead of time.

Meanwhile, chop some onions. You can use an onion, or as many of the recipes I’ve given out lately include, chives, for a milder flavor.

Tie a small bunch of thyme together with kitchen string. I really love the flavors of thyme and corn paired together. Don’t have time? Try another woody herb. Rosemary or oregano could work. I don’t recommend dried thyme, however. I just don’t care for the flavor. We’re tying it together because we’re going to remove it after simmering the soup.

Chop your potatoes. Larger pieces will take longer to cook, but result in more texture, whereas small pieces may break down into the chowder after cooking.

Now heat a pot over medium high heat – if your cobs have finished simmering you can strain the broth, set it aside, discard the cobs and use the same pot. Then add the onion/chives, thyme and chopped garlic. Salt and cook for a couple of minutes before adding in the potatoes, half of the corn kernels and the corn broth.

Bring it to a boil and let simmer for a good 20 minutes or so. You don’t want a heavy boil, but just so it’s gently bubbling. Afterwards, taste, add more salt if needed and continue simmering if the potatoes aren’t cooked.

Now for the fun part

 Then add in some chopped tomatoes and the milk. Tomatoes are completely untraditional here, but I like them anyway. I’ve also enjoyed it will some zucchini as well. Whatever grade of milk you prefer will work – though skim will make it less creamy. I’ve found that soy milk adds a surprisingly rich flavor without the calories and fat of cream. Add a splash of olive oil or a couple tablespoons of butter if you find it lacking.

Ladle into bowls and top with fresh green herbs like parsley or basil. Or, if you prefer to use bacon in your chowder, as many do – cooked in the pot before the onion – you could add that crumbled bacon to the top of each bowl. Enjoy.

Winter Squash, Red Onion & Goat Cheese Pizza

Have you tried the 5 minute pizza dough yet? No? Well here are three excellent reasons to go, right now, and take literally 5 minutes to mix it up and get it rising: roasted winter squash, red onion and goat cheese. This combo, with a little olive oil, salt and balsamic, makes for one awesome pizza. I could not keep it on the table last week at RRMC. Staff and visitors were raving about it and the recipe cards went quick.

The dough, simply made up of flour, water, yeast and salt, doesn’t require kneading – just a quick mix with a wooden spoon. Check the label next time on one of those pre-made crusts in stores. I’m betting there are quite a few more than four ingredients.

Once you have that good to go, roast your squash. Any kind of winter squash will work – though maybe not spaghetti. For a quick roast, peel and chop, in small, bite sized chunks beforehand. This will greatly reduce how long you’ll need to roast. 15-20 minutes with a little oil and salt should be good.

Try keeping cooked winter squash on hand this time of year. Have it ready for pizza, soup, salad and other dishes, anytime.

The other option is to cut your squash into large chunks. When I do this, I don’t bother peeling. Just remove the seeds, drizzle on a little oil, sprinkle some salt, and into the oven it goes. This will take 45 minutes to an hour. If you are waiting for your pizza dough to rise, it’s the perfect time to also roast the squash. If your dough is already ready, go the quick route.

Either way, roast the squash at 425.

If you already chopped up your squash, then after roasting, it’s ready to go on the pizza as soon as your dough is done rising. If you went the large chunk route, let the squash cool a little before slicing off the skin and cutting it up. One advantage of this method is that the squash will be very easy to work with.

Preheat the oven to 450. If you have a pizza stone, heat it in the oven. If you don’t have a stone, flip over a cookie sheet and preheat this in the oven instead.

Roll out the dough on a piece of parchment. Forget making it look perfect and bothering with the perfect crust edge. I like a thin, crunchy pizza crust, so I roll the dough out as thin as I can. If you like it doughy, then don’t go so thin, but keep in mind you’ll get less pizza out of it.

After it’s rolled out, drizzle over a little olive oil. Then spread over the crumbled goat cheese. I spread it out a bit with the back of a fork. Next on goes the squash. And then the onion. Finally, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of salt. If you’d like, go ahead and add some grated Parmesan or herbs such as sage, rosemary or thyme.

Place the parchment in the oven on your heated stone/sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or more until you’re happy with the browning. Cool the pizza for 5 minutes before slicing. And here’s a good slicing tip: try using scissors to cut the pizza instead of a knife. You’ll be less likely to lose your ingredients in the process.

 

Winter Squash, Red Onion and Goat Cheese Pizza

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 1 medium sized pizza

Already have pizza dough and cooked squash? Then it’ll be only a few quick minutes before you’re enjoying this healthy, seasonal pizza. Quicker and better than greasy takeout!

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe of Pizza Dough
  • olive oil
  • 2 cups cooked, cubed/chopped winter squash
  • crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 cup red onion, sliced or chopped (your call)
  • balsamic vinegar
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 and place a pizza stone or upside down cookie sheet inside to heat.
  2. Roll out the dough on a piece of parchment paper.
  3. Lightly drizzle olive oil over the dough.
  4. Spread the goat cheese over top.
  5. Cover with the cooked squash.
  6. Top with the red onion.
  7. Sprinkle balsamic vinegar over it all and a little salt.
  8. Carefully place the pizza, on the parchment paper, onto the heated stone or sheet.
  9. Bake 15-20 minutes or until browned and crispy to your liking.

Put an Egg on It: Make it a Meal with a Fried Egg

Happy 2014! I hope you had a fun new years!

The start of a new year is a great time to check basic cooking techniques – even those as basic as frying an egg. I eat eggs quite often and my favorite method, until recently, was scrambling. While I’ll always love scrambled eggs, and think I’ve mastered that cooking method, I’ve found them less conducive to constructing a meal.

But fried eggs are another story. You can put a fried egg on almost anything – even just a piece of toast – and find yourself with a pretty satisfying meal. I mean, if Buzzfeed says so, it must be true, right?

The problem was that my fried eggs were inconsistent and that’s exactly why I avoided making them. Sometimes they were overcooked and nearly burnt while other times I’d find them partly raw. And I’m not sure what the issue was, because after consulting several cookbooks, it turns out that everyone has their favorite method for achieving the “perfect” fried egg.

Turns out that you can make a decent fried egg either with butter or oil. High heat or low. Preheating the pan or using a cool pan. Yikes. Too many options!

Luckily, after several successful repetitions, I found a method that works for me in Jamie Oliver’s Food RevolutionI’ve also found this technique referred to as the Spanish method for frying an egg. It’s a gentle cooking method done in oil that results in a soft, silky egg that I’ll be so bold as to say is perfect. If you’ve found yourself disappointed with how your fried eggs are turning out, I say give this a try.

Start by heating your frying pan to medium heat and giving it a good coating of olive oil. We want to eggs to sit in the oil, but not swim. Let the pan heat for a couple of minutes. Of course, farm fresh eggs are always going to give the best result.

Crack your eggs into the pan. As the oil heats your eggs will slowly start to cook. You don’t want to oil to be popping, so if this happens quickly lower the heat.

When mostly white, spoon some of the oil over top to help the egg cook evenly.

I’ve found that the time to the perfect fried egg is about 5 minutes. Maybe this will be less for you, or maybe more – it all depends on how you like your eggs.

Once you have found your perfect fried egg – and this method may not be for you – consider how you could use it to create meal or how you could take a boring dish to the next level.

On toast is just fine.

Or how about on a bed of greens?

Pasta?

Leftover cooked veggies?

But no one will blame you if you eat it all alone.

 

And don’t get caught up in the egg controversy. Most experts agree these days that eggs are your friend.

Basic Roasted Beets

Beets are a sweet and easy vegetable to cook this time of year.

Basic Roasted Beets

courtesy of Chow.com

  • 1.5 lb. beets
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt; more to taste
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Rinse the beets and trim off any leafy tops. Wrap completely in aluminum foil and place in the oven. Roast until tender and easily pierced with a knife, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the oven and let cool.

When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel using a paring knife or by pushing the skin with your fingers.

Slice the beets, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

 

 

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.

 

Sauteed Brussel Sprouts

Sautéed Brussel 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.

Cranberry Orange Sauce

Photo Courtesy of www.thenaptimechef.com

Photo Courtesy of www.thenaptimechef.com

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.

Caraway Cabbage Chips

Recipe by Alison Roman
Servings: 4 

Ingredients

  • 8 innermost green cabbage leaves, ribs removed, leaves cut into quarters
  • Olive oil (for brushing)
  • Toasted caraway seeds (for sprinkling)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 finely grated garlic clove
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Preparation
  • Preheat oven to 200°. Divide between 2 wire racks set inside rimmed baking sheets. Brush with oil; sprinkle with caraway seeds and season with salt and pepper. Bake until crisp, 2–2½ hours. Mix together garlic, yogurt, dill, and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. Serve with chips.
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