Photos by Zachary Cross
Spring has sprung! Make a meal this week with market vegetables that is quick and easy and leaves you plenty of time to play outside.
Last week at market I was drawn to Lacinato kale. Known to Italians as cavalo nero, or black cabbage, Lacinato kale is a deep, dark green with dimpled leaves. It’s known by quite a few other names such as Tuscan kale, Italian kale, or palm tree kale - the latter because harvesting the outside leaves can lead to the plant looking like a palm tree. Dinosaur kale is another name that I thought that was just a marketing ploy. Apparently some people imagine that the leaves look like dinosaur skin. It might help some dinosaur-crazy kids want to eat it!
Despite the name cavalo nero, kale is not cabbage. At least it doesn’t form the tight head we associate with round cabbages. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds describes it as “loose-leafed cabbage,” and Victory Seeds as “a primitive, open variety of kale.” Which is it, cabbage or kale? Well, cabbage and kale both fall under the species Brassica oleracea, as do many of the vegetables we commonly associate with the genus Brassica, such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and many others. I was left wondering which brassicas are not oleracea. A least a few well-known ones are not: turnips, mustards, rapini, and Chinese cabbage.
Whichever species of Brassica you eat, they are highly nutritious. Members of the Brassica family are high in vitamin C, soluble fiber, and cancer-fighting compounds. Although eating them raw is one way to preserve the nutrients, Brassica crops retain many vitamins during the cooking process.
Sometimes it’s hard to find a vegetarian recipe that our whole family will enjoy. Especially one that’s not complicated. Beans are a great start to a vegetarian main dish but can be pretty bland. Sometimes when we serve them it’s in a dish with a lot of ingredients, but this one is pretty simple. Olive oil, garlic, and salt and pepper help make the beans and kale into a tasty dish without a lot of effort.
To round out our meal I served a crusty Bread and Butter baguette. As a gluten-free alternative I also made a quick cheese grits casserole. My grits casserole is really more like polenta, making this an all-around Italian meal.
Adapted slightly from Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop
Serves 4 as a Main Course
1 ½ pounds kale
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 15-ounce cans cannellini or other white beans, rinsed and drained
⅔ cup chicken or vegetable stock
Freshly ground black pepper
Photos by Zachary Cross
This has been such a warm winter and with all the trees and plants blooming it seems like spring. This weekend’s snow and chilly temperatures remind us that winter’s not over yet! Soon it will be time for salads again but for now use this season’s greens in a warm and comforting soup.
This Friday is St. Patrick’s Day and what better way to celebrate than with potatoes and kale? Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish of mashed potatoes with cabbage or kale. I’ve made this dish before but potatoes and kale also make a good soup - and a beautiful, bright green one, too!
Once you’ve made potato soup enough times you don’t even need a recipe. Start by sautéing salted onion, shallots, or leeks in butter or oil. Once they’re soft, add some garlic if you’re in the mood for it. Add some potatoes, peeled or not, plus some more salt and water to cover. Cook the potatoes until they’re soft. Add enough liquid - milk, stock, and/or water - to make the soup consistency you desire. Purée some, all, or none of it. Vary it with something green: broccoli, spinach, kale, or another green. Or something not so green: cauliflower or celery. Or orange, as in pumpkin chowder.
Until you can make potato soup in your sleep there are plenty of recipes out there to give you structure. In addition to the pumpkin chowder there is a recipe for potato leek soup on the blog. This potato kale soup recipe comes from Simply in Season which has at least a half dozen other potato soup recipes as well!
Right now just about all our farmers that grow greens have kale. The varieties range from light green to dark green as well as reds. There are frilly leaves, flat leaves, and leaves in between. I choose Red Russian this time: it has flat but toothed leaves and is a light green with red stems. Be sure to stem your kale but use those stems! Chopped and sautéed with the onion they are plenty tender, especially after being parboiled.
Precooking the kale helps it blend quickly with the soup at the end and keeps the kale flavor from overwhelming the potatoes. I boil mine for 7 minutes to reduce oxalic acid and goitrogens, but 2-4 minutes or even less can be enough if your kale is super tender or you like a stronger flavor.
I often find myself wanting something orange to contrast with whatever green thing I am cooking. An easy way to supply this is with a baked sweet potato or baked sweet potato fries. If I’m feeling energetic I might make some pumpkin muffins. Before I made my soup I put a pumpkin in the oven to cook and when it was done I took a taste. It was delicious as-is! I did salt it a little and added a little butter before pureeing it. It made a vibrant and tasty topping for my soup. Other topping options are cheese, regular or pumpkin sour cream, or bacon bits.
Adapted Slightly from Simply in Season
Yields 6 cups/1.5 L
1 large bunch kale (stemmed)
Steam or parboil leaves and stems and set aside. (Don’t try to cook it with the potatoes; the flavor will be too strong.)
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion (chopped)
1 clove garlic (minced)
Melt butter in soup pot. Add onion and saute until golden. Add garlic and chopped kale stems and saute another minute.
2 large potatoes (diced)
2 cups/ 500 ml hot water or broth
Add, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are soft. Remove half of the cooked potatoes; puree the rest with the cooking liquid and return to the soup pot. Return reserved potatoes and steamed kale to soup pot. (Puree everything if a smooth texture is desired.)
3 cups water, broth, or milk
½ teaspoon salt or to taste
Pepper to taste
Add along with additional hot water or milk to preferred consistency. Heat gently until hot and serve.
Printable recipe here
Photos by Zachary Cross
It’s been a warm winter but it’s not over yet! Recent chilly mornings and evenings have been perfect for a wool hat. It’s a great project for even beginning knitters and can be made with local “ingredients!”
The three basic human needs are food, clothing, and shelter. Though we usually associate farmers markets with providing food, some of our farmers provide us with clothing items as well. Wool is an excellent fiber for all sorts of clothes.
My favorite knitting author is Elizabeth Zimmermann. In addition to being a phenomenal artist and knitter, Zimmerman was a delightful writer and her books are a pleasure to read whether or not you actually end up knitting something. Zimmermann’s preferred fiber was wool, and her essays on its virtues will convert most anyone. I assume her love of wool is at least partly because of her upbringing in England and later life in New England. Wool is warm, even when wet; yet breathable, naturally resistant to dust mites, dirt, and even fire.
But wool is also wonderful to knit with. It is elastic yet holds its shape. It feels good in your hands. It takes dyes beautifully and comes in natural colors as well.
Farmer Cheri Miller of Harvest Home raises Finnsheep in Rising Fawn Georgia. Although she also sells various cuts of lamb, she says, “fiber production is a farming activity - it isn’t always about food!” Cheri sells wool in the form of roving, yarn, dryer balls, hand knitted and woven items, and has partnered with a mill in Ft. Payne to make socks from her wool.
I especially liked a natural dark gray yarn and chose that for my project. When I say natural, it’s the color of the sheep that the wool came from, not dyed. Cheri has dyed wool as well, in a variety of colors. Her yarn is a worsted weight, making it appropriate for many different kinds of projects. She sells it by the ounce, and my hat comes in at about 2.5 ounces. Allow another ounce for a larger hat or for one with a closed top.
This winter I’ve found that I wanted a basic, neutral-colored hat for chilly days. There have been days, too, that I’ve already had my hair in a ponytail or a bun and haven’t been able to fit a hat over that. Knitters and crocheters are a creative lot, and there are patterns for hats with holes in them to accommodate ponytails and pigtails. One of the easiest ways to do this is to finish off a hat earlier than usual in the process, creating a hole in the top of the hat for a high messy bun, man bun, or ponytail. Some would argue this hole allows heat to escape, and I say this warm winter is the year to give it a try!
For the basic hat pattern I went with Viridian Hue’s basic Tweed Hat. It’s in a man’s size which suits my large head. It could be easily adapted by using a smaller needle size, thinner yarn, or fewer stitches. I ended up knitting a little tightly, coming in at about 14 stitches to 4 inches, rather than the pattern’s gauge of 13 stitches to 4 inches, which made for a slightly smaller hat.
To make this a messy bun hat I turned to Vickie Howell’s article for guidance. It’s less work to make a bun/ponytail hat, since you’re ending it sooner, but having some guidance of when to end it was helpful. She provides another basic hat pattern, in more of a women’s size, if you prefer to try that. Her technique works for any basic bottom-up hat pattern and she has instructions for crocheted hats as well.
I began my hat in a lighter gray, also a natural color, and used that for the brim. It’s a nice contrast but subtle against the similar but darker gray. I used 20 inch circular needles for most of this project. They were a bit long, and if you use 16 inch you may be able to use them all the way to casting off, if you leave the bun hole. I found I needed to switch to double pointed needles near the end, but only for a few rows. If you are comfortable with double points, certainly use them for the whole hat if you like.
Though this hat is adaptable to different sizes and designs, keep certain proportions in mind. I used a 5x5 rib on the brim. To do that you need to keep the number of cast-on stitches a product of 10 - I cast on 70. If you want you can change it to 3x3 and cast on a multiple of 6, or 2x2 and cast on a multiple of 4, etc. When you’re decreasing and figuring out the size of the bun hole there’s a little math involved, but it’s not something you’ll be graded on!
Note that Harvest Home’s yarn comes in hanks, not skeins or balls, and you’ll need to wind it into a ball before using. This is not unusual, but if it’s not something you’re used to The Spruce has instructions on winding a ball from a hank. You can also wind a center pull ball with help from a paper towel tube.
Not a knitter, yet? In addition to Zimmermann’s books (the first project in Knitting Workshop is a similar hat to mine) there are many others, as well as plenty of free tutorials online. This one on YouTube is pretty simple and straightforward for casting on. Since you’ll be knitting in the round, joining in the round is an important step. Knitting abbreviations are described here.
Adapted from Viridian Hue’s Tweed hat, altered with Vickie Howell’s Tutorial for a messy bun hatYarn: Cheri Miller’s worsted in your choice of color, 2-3 oz or depending on hat size
Needles: size 8 16” circular for the brim, size 10 16” circular and dpn for the body of the hat *or size needed to obtain gauge (I usually use a size down)
Gauge: 13sts/4” in stockinette
Size: to fit a 24” head
Cast 70 stitches on size 8 needles and join in the round.
Knit 5, Purl 5 until brim measures 2 inches from cast on edge.
Switch to larger needles and knit until hat is about 6 inches from your cast on edge.
Switch to double point needles as needed
K 8 knit 2 together (K2tog) to the end of the row (63 stitches (sts))
K 7 K2tog to the end of the row (56 sts)
K 6 K2tog to the end of the row (49 sts)
K 5 K2tog to the end of the row (42 sts)
Knit 4 K2tog to almost the end of the row. Do not knit the last two stitches together (36 sts)
Knit 1, Purl 1 for 2 rows
Bind off in K1P1 rib pattern
Block and wear!
Printable pattern here
Photos by Zachary Cross
I talked recently about occasionally being overwhelmed by our CSA share our first year using one. Greens were especially abundant that year, and are right now in this mild winter. We used a lot of greens - and got our kids to eat them - by making quiche in bulk.
In the early 90s, partly due to cost and partly due to factory farming practices, we decided to eat a vegetarian diet. A vegetarian friend had introduced us to Molly Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook via her spanakopita recipe. We purchased our own copy, not realizing it had been updated for the low-fat trend so popular then. We kept a copy of the old spanakopita recipe (with the butter and eggs) and used the new recipes without the options of throwing away the egg yolks and other such suggestions. Our copy is stained and worn, with pages falling open to favorite recipes.
Katzen followed up the Moosewood Cookbook with The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. While not as basic as the Moosewood, Broccoli Forest has at least one staple for us: the quiche formula. Instead of needing a quiche recipe for each kind of quiche you’d like to make, Katzen came up with a formula: crust + cheese + filling + custard. It’s a 9- or 10-inch crust, about ¼ pound of cheese (I don’t use that much), enough filling to cover the cheese and crust thinly, and a custard of 3 eggs plus one cup of milk. Although Katzen has recipes for each component (and suggestions of how to combine them), the possibilities are far greater than contained in her cookbook, or any cookbook for that matter.
When faced with a mound of greens that first CSA season, the combination we used most often was a traditional crust, whatever cheese we had, and greens sauteed with onions. We would work assembly-line style, eventually ending up with plenty of quiche for supper and at least several for the freezer. We’ve only frozen quiche with regular pie crust, but they froze and reheated well, great for when we needed a break from cooking.
Depending on the ingredients you choose, it is possible to buy all your quiche ingredients at the market. For the crust you can go with a traditional crust, homemade or storebought. Lately I’ve been making quiches crustless or with a hashbrown crust. I’d been eyeing this torta for some time and decided to give a crust of fried potato slices a try. It was time consuming, I’ll admit, although less frustrating for me than pie dough. There are also plenty of recipes online for paleo, gluten-free, or other crusts.
Use whatever cheese you fancy. Gruyère is a traditional one for quiches, but think about what you like and what complements your filling. I imagine you can leave out the cheese entirely but it does create, as Katzen says, “a moisture-resistant barrier between the filling and the crust.” No matter how much you love cheese, though, don’t go overboard on it. Too much cheese can keep the custard from cooking properly.
The fillings can be so many things: greens, onions, garlic, mushrooms, bacon, tomatoes, broccoli, squash, whatever you want. I advise that you cook juicier veggies before using, and alliums such as onions and garlic are yummier sauteed or browned.
Eggs are a must for the custard, and I don’t have enough experience with vegan cooking to suggest a substitute. The milk, though, while a good use of your milk share, is flexible. If you need or want a dairy-free dish by all means use a different kind of milk, or use extra eggs, frittata-style.
When I made this quiche I had stems from the various greens I had been using: beet, several kinds of kale, and chard. While I’ve been using chard stems for a long time, I had not used other stems until Alice suggested it. Now I save them and use them as I would the greens, allowing for a longer cooking time. I had hoped to make a pretty spiral with them, as in this tart, but even after cooking they were not quite flexible enough. Normally I would chop the stems, but I decided to leave them long and I enjoyed the result. The beet stems retained their color well and helped create a variety of colors as well as textures.
I asked for and received a mandoline slicer for Christmas and had not used it yet. I don’t think I could have made all those potato slices (I made a double batch) without it. I experimented with different thickness and although I enjoyed being able to make paper-thin slices the ⅛ inch slices were plenty thin yet still had enough substance for the crust.
Using a springform pan was a challenge for this crust. It makes for the best presentation but the biggest hassle. Normally I line a springform pan with wax paper and that seems to fill in the potential gap at the bottom well. I saw this post that used parchment paper instead and decided to use it. Since the potatoes had been fried I did not think I needed to grease the paper and that is perhaps where I went wrong. The quiche leaked, just a little in one pan and a lot more in the other. Make sure you have yours sealed well before you try this! Next time I’ll try using foil as in this post.
Other than a little leakage this turned out beautifully and tasted even better. Note that I used a higher ratio of eggs to milk, mainly because we are using up our milk share quickly this week. I also used more custard as a straight-sided pan such as a springform has a higher volume than a typical pie pan.
Inspired by Mollie Katzen and Grown to Cook
For the crust:
One large potato - I used Yukon gold, but any kind should work
Fat of your choice
For the filling:
2-3 oz cheese, shredded
One medium to large onion, sliced or chopped
Stems from about four bunches of greens
6 large eggs
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400°. Slice the potato thin, about ⅛ inch (peel first if desired, I did not). Fry in fat of your choice in batches until cooked and lightly brown, season to taste with salt and pepper. Line a springform pan with wax or parchment paper (see above) and line with overlapping potato slices. I found it easiest to arrange the slices on the side first, trimming them as necessary, then the bottom.
Sauté the onion until at least wilted, and possibly brown, as you prefer. Salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to boil. Parboil the greens stems 7 minutes, then drain. Chop or leave whole and add to the onions, seasoning to taste.
Beat eggs, mix in milk, and sprinkle salt to taste.
Assemble the quiche: sprinkle cheese on top of the prepared crust, arrange a thin layer of the greens mixture (be careful if it’s still hot!), then slowly pour custard over all.
Bake at 400° until custard is set and lightly brown.
Printable recipe here
Photos by Zachary Cross
As you are probably well aware, Valentine’s Day in the U.S. is pretty commercialized, with red in the form of candy, flowers, and cards all over stores. You can celebrate with something fun and pink or red while still using local ingredients.
I’m pretty sentimental about Valentine’s Day because it was my first date with my future husband. It was an awkward though auspicious evening. Thirty years later I can celebrate with Jeffrey and the kids that it all worked out well in the end!
In our family we celebrate the day with fun foods, often in shades of pink (such as pink mashed potatoes). It’s an easy color to create with food, from raspberries and cherries to beets. Apparently if you are patient, you can even color foods a true red with beets.
When I saw Easy Bistro’s beet panna cotta I knew I had to make some. Not that I think I can match theirs! But it’s pretty and pink and can be made at home.
Beets are plentiful right now, and should be well into spring. They range in color from a deep red, which will give your dessert a bright purple-pink color, to bright red, pink, and also orange and yellow. The inside of your beets may different from the outside, too! In addition to solid-color beets, some beets are striped on the inside, looking especially fun cut into rounds.
Save the greens from your beets. They cook up like other greens, with the addition of a dark pink color if you use dark red beets. You can even make a savory version of beet panna cotta that uses the greens, too.
Panna cotta is Italian for cooked cream and generally a dessert of cream thickened with gelatin. Faith Durand, via The Kitchn, calls it “...the perfect dessert.” She’s says, despite being traditionally cream and gelatin based, it can be made with dairy-free milks, and even vegan with a gelatin replacement. And it’s easily made gluten-free as the ingredients are not usually ones that contain gluten. Eggs are not necessary for the panna cotta itself. Finally, it can be flavored pretty much however you want. Or make it plain and serve it with the sauce of your choice.
There were plenty of recipes on the internet for beet panna cotta to go around. It appears that Easy Bistro’s is accompanied by orange but most of the ones I found online were paired with lemon. The tangy flavor makes for a pleasant contrast for the earthiness of the beets. The recipe I’ve used has plenty of cream, butter, and eggs, but if you cook dairy or egg free I saw plenty of recipes with coconut cream instead of the dairy cream and gelatin instead of eggs.
As you can see, the panna cotta turned a bright and dark shade of pink. I imagine lighter beets would be a lighter pink and the orange or yellow ones would give you a yellow tone, though I have not tested them. Note that I used regular lemons instead of Meyer lemons. Meyer lemons are occasionally available at Whole Foods if you want to give them a try.
If you want to work on this dish ahead of time the recipe notes that it can be made up to three days before serving. For serving parfait glasses show off the brilliant pink, though I couldn’t resist trying it in a heart-shaped pan as well. Happy Valentine’s Day!
From bon appétit
Beet Panna Cotta
1⁄2 pound red beets, peeled, cut into 1⁄2” pieces
2 cups heavy cream
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon unflavored powdered gelatin
3 tablespoons honey
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Meyer Lemon Mousse
1 tablespoon finely grated Meyer lemon zest
1⁄2 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
1⁄2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces, divided
1⁄2 cup sugar, divided
4 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1⁄2 cup chilled heavy cream
Six 8-ounce glasses or ramekins
Beet panna cotta
Bring beets, cream, and salt to a simmer over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer very gently until beets are tender, 25–30 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, combine gelatin and 2 Tbsp. cold water in a blender; let sit 5 minutes for gelatin to soften.
Transfer beets and their cooking liquid to blender; add honey and vanilla and purée until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl; discard solids.
Divide purée among glasses and chill until set, 31⁄2–4 hours.
Do Ahead: Panna cotta can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and keep chilled.
Meyer lemon mousse
Bring lemon zest and juice, 1⁄4 cup butter, and 1⁄4 cup sugar to a simmer over medium heat in a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat.
Whisk egg yolks, egg, and remaining 1⁄4 cup sugar in a small bowl until pale and thick, about 2 minutes. Whisking constantly, slowly pour hot lemon mixture into egg mixture. Transfer back to saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until curd is thickened and whisk leaves a trail, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add remaining 1⁄4 cup butter, whisking until melted and curd is smooth. Transfer curd to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly onto surface. Chill until cold, at least 2 hours.
When ready to serve, whisk cream in a small bowl to soft peaks and gently fold into curd. Spoon mousse over panna cotta.
Do Ahead: Lemon curd can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.
Recipe by Odd Duck, Austin
Calories (kcal) 650 Fat (g) 56 Saturated Fat (g) 34 Cholesterol (mg) 330Carbohydrates (g) 34 Dietary Fiber (g) 1 Total Sugars (g) 31 Protein (g) 6 Sodium (mg) 280
Printable recipe here
Photos by Zachary Cross
A while back Cortney Geary, market customer and former board member, gave me a suggestion for a new recipe of sorts. At first I wasn’t sure if I’d like it, then once I did I wondered why I didn’t make it right away!
Do you make meal plans for your household? Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. There are different ways to plan, for instance sitting down to plan a week’s worth of meals and then shopping to fit those meals. Shopping at the market often takes a different approach, combining a general idea of the seasons and what farmers will be bringing along with plenty of surprises. If you participate in a weekly CSA, though, you often don’t get a choice and you are probably going to have to work with what you have. That might sound negative, but the years we were part of a farm’s CSA I enjoyed the freedom from decision-making!
A few years ago Alice recommended An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler (thanks Alice!). The book is a wonderful ramble on food and cooking, not a cookbook, but it does have ways to prepare food. And Adler has a video showing how she uses her week’s worth of farmers market produce, prepping it all as soon as she gets home and using it all week in simple, quick meals. In reading the comments about her video, I saw that some people thought this was unrealistic because she has such a wonderful kitchen, with no children or pets running around underfoot. While there is a difference between cooking all that she does and me making five times that much all at one go, I do find that prepping my market haul (that’s me, staggering back to my car on several trips, multiple bags on each arm) as soon as possible makes not only for an easier week of cooking, it also saves room in the fridge!
If you are a planner, I highly recommend signing up for the weekly market newsletter. It includes a list of what farmers are planning to bring to market. Weather, crop issues, and other factors can change that, but you can get a general idea of what to expect. I also recommend, however, that you learn to shop by “Pantry Principle” style. Although this method is mainly aimed at cost savings, it makes sense for shopping seasonally as well. Essentially you make your meals based on what you have, not plan your shopping based on what you want to eat. The cost savings comes from stocking your pantry with sale items. This method works whether you are trying to figure out what to do with your share in a given week, or if you do want to stock up in season, say, with canning tomatoes or applesauce-grade apples. It was difficult for me to wrap my head around the idea until participating in a CSA. The next year I added a decent-sized home garden and was in a community garden as well. It was pretty important to figure out how to use what I had that year!
Amy Dacyzyn helped make the pantry principle well known in her Tightwad Gazette in the 90s. Although Dacyzyn describes a meal-planning technique that involves planning the night before, she also describes saving time and making certain dishes over time, for instance, pumpkin pies from scratch. I found this week’s recipe to be a good candidate for cooking over the course of a week.
Cortney’s suggestion was more of an idea rather than recipe, but it’s a simple and adaptable one. Faced with leftovers during the holidays, she used sweet potato casserole in her usual pancake recipe and enjoyed the results. My initial resistance to this idea was that I find sweet potato casserole too sweet so I don’t often make it. I decided to make a less sweet batch and go from there.
I did not anticipate not having leftovers! My family is pretty mixed on their feelings about sweet potatoes. They will all eat them but some are more enthusiastic than others, and opinionated about their preferred form. Jeffrey, for instance, loves sweet potato casserole with browned marshmallows on top. Tiny cubes of browned sweet potato are loved by another family member. I figured the response to a relatively plain, lightly sweetened casserole would be lukewarm. Well, they ate it all so I had to try again.
I stretched the cooking out over the course of a week by first serving the potatoes baked. I used the oven, but a slow cooker works well, too. I made plenty!
A couple of nights later, I made a simple casserole and doubled the recipe. The recipe I used has a nut topping but I skipped that because of the nuts and flour. It also adds a lot of sugar to the recipe and I did not want that. I did add a little bit more sweetening to the casserole in the form of maple syrup, mostly for flavor. I exchanged the vanilla extract for pumpkin pie spice. Those are all my preferences, make the casserole to your taste, thinking about its next use.
In a few more days I was ready to make pancakes. Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes from the More with Less Cookbook is basic and easily multiplied to make as large a batch as you want. It’s unsweetened, which makes it a great base for topping. And what toppings there are at market! Our farmers have honey, maple syrup, and all sorts of jams and preserves.
Your favorite pancake recipe should work fine, and the best one is the one you are most familiar with, so you can tweak it as needed. I replaced some of the buttermilk in my recipe with the sweet potato casserole. My casserole was a fairly dry one so I used about ½ cup casserole and ¼-½ cup buttermilk for the cup of buttermilk called for. I ended up with the same consistency as usual, but the pancakes seemed lighter and fluffier than they typically do. The batter tasted fine, but the end result was amazing! These were the best pancakes ever (we did not, but should have, christened them Richard Scarry pancakes). I typically prefer a plain pancake and find that pumpkin, apple, or other flavors seem weak in pancakes. I assume that sweet potato’s strong flavor is what made the difference in these. A bonus is that they gave my grain-free pancakes (I use the same recipe and replace the flour with a plantain) a better texture than usual. I’m not sure if it was the extra egg, fiber, or starch from the casserole, or maybe a combination of all three, but I was pleased.
I’ll share the recipes I used, but feel free to make this all your own, an extended, if not everlasting meal.
From Food Network
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for buttering the baking dish
3 cups mashed sweet potatoes (3 to 4 large potatoes; about 1 3/4 pounds)
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup chopped pecans
Special equipment: a 2-quart baking dish
For the filling: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and butter a 2-quart baking dish.
Whisk together the butter, mashed sweet potatoes, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, salt and the eggs in a large bowl. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
For the topping: Combine the flour, brown sugar, butter and salt in a medium bowl until moist and the mixture clumps together. Stir in the pecans and spread over the top of the sweet potatoes in an even layer. Bake until mostly set in the center and golden on top, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot.
For a printable recipe go here
Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes
From More with Less Cookbook via Our Family Cooking
Combine in a bowl and mix with fork:
1 cup buttermilk**
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
Add and mix only until moistened:
1/2 cup whole wheat flour*
1/2 cup unbleached, white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fry in hot, lightly greased skillet.
1/2 cup whole wheat; 1/4 cup unbleached white, 1/4 cup wheat germ or wheat hearts
**No buttermilk? Put 4 teaspoons vinegar in cup, fill with milk to 1 cup.
Photos by Zachary Cross
Potato leek soup is a classic, made by everyone from Julia Child to Alton Brown. Although people often think of it as a rich soup with cream, a dairy-free, potentially vegan version is equally satisfying.
I’m not sure when or where I first tasted potato-leek soup, but I suspect it was during afternoon tea at The English Rose. I remember the portions being small, which is a good thing as it was definitely a cream-based, rich soup. That’s perfect for cold, wet winter evenings, when I want some comfort food - something filling.
But this winter has had more warm days than cold. Hot soup is still appropriate most evenings, but I’ve found myself wanting lighter fare more than usual in the winter. Thankfully my go-to recipe has both a vegan version as well as the dairy-laden. This is another Jack Bishop leek recipe from Vegetables Every Day. I had enjoyed the browned leeks recipe so much I assumed I would like his soup recipe. I was surprised to find that the basic recipe has no cream or milk, and is not puréed. I tried it out and enjoyed its hearty taste and texture. I’ve since tried the variation I originally had in mind and enjoyed that, too.
There are so many versions of potato-leek soup, that include bacon, celery, cayenne, garlic, and/or thyme, as well as other additions. As when researching hashbrowns, I found people highly opinionated on whether russet, yukon gold, or other potatoes are best. And there are various ways to blend your soup! I prefer using an immersion blender with a light hand, but some purists say only mashing by hand works, with some chiming in that ricing is the best. Just be sure not to overblend as that can make the soup come out gummy.
I follow Bishop’s recipe pretty closely with a few exceptions (that’s closely for me!). First, I use whatever potato I have handy. I don’t think I’ve used red or blue fleshed, but russets, red-skinned, or Yukon Gold all work. They do have different qualities, but I like them all. Yukons are my favorite, and give a warm, golden color to the soup. Next, I just use water instead of vegetable or chicken stock. Bone broth is very nourishing but I’m cooking for vegetarians. If I’ve made some homemade veggie stock I’ll use it, but I don’t care for prepackaged bouillon or stock. Also, I don’t care for the taste of bay leaves. Maybe one day I’ll have a bay tree like Martha, who swears by fresh bay leaves. Until then I’ll pass on the harsh flavor of the dried. Last, although this soup, as most do, benefits from a green garnish, I’ll use what I have on hand and in the mood for, not just parsley. Chives are a logical alternative, but thyme is also a good one. Emeril fries up shoestring potatoes and leeks as a topping for his version.
I’m including both variations of this soup. Choose which one based on your dietary preferences, available ingredients, or mood.
From Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop
4 medium leeks
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound red potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
Variation: Creamy Leek and Potato Soup
Prepare the soup through step 3. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Purée the soup in a blender. (Do not purée any longer than necessary or the potatoes will become gluey.) Return the soup to the pot and stir in ½ cup heavy cream and the parsley. Bring almost to a boil, adjust the seasonings, and serve immediately..
Printable recipe here
Photos by Zachary Cross
Although my original intention was simply to make supper one evening using kale I had purchased that week, my search for a recipe led to research about the popularity of this now ubiquitous vegetable. Since it’s both the darling and devil of the food world the results on Google seemed limitless in variety as well as quantity.
Kale is a hardy member of the cabbage family, tasting better and sweeter in the cooler months of the year. Once upon a time many Americans only knew it as a lighter green, frilly garnish, an alternative to the dark green, frilly parsley garnish. Or perhaps they grew it in their winter flower beds with their pansies and mums. There are many types of kale, though, in shades of reds, purples, and all sorts of greens, with tightly curled or flat leaves, or somewhere in between.
There are various timelines attempting to explain kale’s rise in popularity. Certainly it began sometime in the 2000s. I know when we first started cooking a good bit of it in 2007 it was already getting popular, yet our cookbook collection (including Martha), did not have many, if any, kale recipes. We just improvised and used spinach recipes, using a longer cooking time.
We added more cookbooks to our collection and heard about kale smoothies. Martha put kale recipes on her website. Gwyneth Paltrow and Ellen made kale chips on TV. In 2013 the owner of a PR firm decided to give kale a boost, claiming she was backed by the non-existent American Kale Association. By 2013 kale was pretty well established in farmer’s markets but apparently this publicity made it familiar with the general public, to both praise and scorn.
Have you heard about the new kale? An internet search reveals that it’s collards, chard, quinoa, kelp, and/or mustard greens. In the end, it turns out, the new kale is kale.
This past week Healthy Kitchen had a new kale, that is, a kale I had not noticed before: Scarlet. It’s definitely frilly, but not the least bit green. It’s a deep purple tinged with red and I was excited to try something so pretty. I was afraid cooking it would leach some of the color so I decided to try something else new to me: a massaged kale salad (yes, I’m late to the game!). There are basic instructions in an earlier blog post but I found a slightly more complex recipe, specifically for Redbor, a very similar-looking variety.
Massaging raw kale with a vinaigrette takes a potentially tough leaf and breaks it down a bit, as well adding flavor. Additions such as fruits, other vegetables, meats, and/or cheeses, turn it into a salad and potentially a meal.
This salad is a study in contrasting jewel tones, as well as contrasting flavors and textures. According to the recipe author, redbor is an earthy tasting kale rather than “...clean, grassy.” The scarlet tasted like a nice, sweet, winter kale to me (a good thing, though I like earthy, too!). But the recipe sounded good anyway, even if it was designed for an earthy kale.
As it happened, I only had blood oranges on hand. They are less sweet than navels, and such a lovely combination of red and orange in color. Red navels would look lovely, too, though all oranges would provide a good color and taste. I was happy to use a butternut, too, as I have accumulated a lot of squash this year.
This recipe only calls for whisking the vinaigrette and combining with the vegetables and fruit, but massaging the kale only takes a few minutes more. I could feel the kale breaking down under my fingers and the color deepened.
As I tossed the squash and oranges with the kale, I realized I really should have stuck to the time listed in the recipe for cooking the squash. It was not browning and I cooked it a bit longer, but that only made it mushy. Maybe next time I’ll use butter, instead of olive oil, or just not worry about browning it.
I have a citrus zester and used that, and I’d say zest at least half of an orange. The zest really adds flavor and color to the salad. I’m not sure why the recipe calls both for a supremed orange and 1 ½ oranges worth of segments. I was down to my last 2 oranges, and they peeled so easily I just used ½ for juice and the rest peeled.
A great thing about a kale salad is how well the kale holds up for leftovers. The next day this salad was as pretty as when it was made, great for a light lunch.
From Brooklyn Supper
2 cups butternut squash, peeled, and cut into 1″ cubes
1 bunch Redbor kale, washed, dried, and chopped
1 orange, supremed
Juice of half a large orange
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3″ segment of orange zest
1 1/2 fresh oranges, divided into segments
1/3 cup shaved Asiago
3 twists fresh ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare the squash, spread out on a rimmed baking sheet with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt, and bake for 25 minutes, or until the squash is cooked through and the edges are golden brown.
Prepare the kale and orange zest and segments. Slice the zest into thin strips.
Juice the orange half. Whisk the orange juice into the olive oil, and add the salt.
When the squash is ready, toss the orange segments and squash with the kale, add a generous drizzle of the vinaigrette, and garnish with slices of zest, Asiago, and pepper.
Printable recipe here
Photos by Zachary Cross
In 2007 Crabtree Farms first offered CSA shares. We wanted to support local food, and we loved the convenient location (about 10 minutes away), so we signed up. It was so much fun to go pick up our box of food each week, check out the farm, and get to know folks at Crabtree. We had been cooking from scratch for a long time, and I grew up with plenty of fresh food, but it was still quite the learning curve for us! We had four kids at home and our youngest was still a baby. Some weeks we weren’t so sure what to do with our food or we just ran out of time to use one week’s produce before the next came in. Amazingly, we did not have anything go bad on us that year but some weeks we had a lot to work with!
One week I listened to a review of Jack Bishop’s Vegetables Every Day and decided to check it out of the library. This cookbook is arranged in alphabetical order, one chapter per vegetable, 66 vegetables (or groups of vegetables), and at least 365 recipes total. Whenever we had a vegetable that puzzled us we were usually able to find a recipe or even several for it. I decided pretty quickly that it was a cookbook worth purchasing for our family.
One vegetable we had not worked with much in the past and found in our share was the leek. A member of the allium family, along with garlic and onions, leeks are sweeter and can stand alone as well as accompany other ingredients. Preparing and serving them on their own is generally my preferred way of making them. The sweet, oniony flavor shines through and rewards my prep work and cleaning.
Preparing leeks is not quite as simple as peeling an onion or clove of garlic. Dirt tends to get in leek’s layers and needs to be flushed out. Thankfully Bishop includes a method for getting leeks clean. Here’s how Bishop says to do it:
“Trim and discard the dark green tops and tough outer leaves from the leeks. Remove the roots along with a very thin slice of the nearby white part. (If you are slicing the leeks for soup, you can remove a thicker slice. However, if you are cooking halved leeks, don’t remove too much from the bottom or the layers will fall apart.)
"Halve the leeks lengthwise and wash them under cold, running water. Gently spread apart but do not separate the inner layers to remove all traces of soil. If the leeks are particularly sandy, soak them in several changes of clean water. At this point the leeks are ready to be cooked or sliced further for use in soups or as a seasoning.”
The only things I would add are to remove any tough outer layers (these do not soften well during cooking) and don’t discard your leek trimmings. Use them to make yummy vegetable or meat stock.
Once prepped the leeks can be simply cooked in butter in a covered skillet. That’s enough to enjoy leek’s flavor but that flavor can be taken up a notch. Bishop has a recipe for red wine braised leeks but that flavor combination doesn’t make sense to me (try it if it does to you - to each his or her own!). I’ve added some white wine to my sauteed leeks at the end of cooking, simmering just long enough to reduce the wine a bit and allow the leeks to soak up some flavor. Yum! Bishop has another variation on the sauteed and that is to add parmesan cheese to the leeks and broil briefly until browned. I used asiago instead but otherwise followed his instructions. Yum again! The whites were creamy and the greens crisp and browned. Here’s the original recipe, plus the variations.
From Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop
The leeks are cooked in a covered pan with a little butter until almost tender, then the lid is removed and the leeks are cooked until lightly browned. Don’t try this recipe with leeks thicker than ¾ inch; they won’t soften properly. Serve with chicken or fish. (note from Heather: I think thicker leeks would be fine; you’ll be removing a good bit of the outer layers. Perhaps cook longer under cover)
4 medium leeks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Freshly ground pepper
Variation: Crispy Leeks with Parmesan (pictured below)
An excellent accompaniment to egg dishes
Preheat the broiler. Prepare the leeks as directed, through step 3, cooking them in an ovenproof skillet. Dust the browned leeks with ⅓ cup grated Parmesan (note from Heather: I used Asiago and a little bit more) and broil until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly, no more than a few minutes. Serve immediately.
Printable recipe here
Photos by Zachary Cross
I remember the first time I made hash browns at home. Actually, a friend that was staying with us offered to make them just like his mom did. He confidently shredded them and prepared to fry them, then was horrified to find that they had turned pink! Who knew that one of our common foods, that seems so simple, could be so complicated?
Potatoes are often considered comfort food. Starchy and mild, they can be baked, fried, or boiled; whole, sliced, or shredded. They are yummy fairly plain, with some salt and butter, or as a complement to more complex flavors.
Potatoes are native to South America in the Andes but have been a staple crop around the world for over 400 years. They’re members of the nightshade family, and potato vines resemble tomato vines, at least from a distance. We tend to associate the potato with the russet, a mealy potato with a brown skin and white flesh. But planting a single variety of potato is boring, and, the Irish found out in the 1800s, downright dangerous. The Lumper potato was as unappetizing (to modern tastes) as it sounds, but, more importantly, put most of the Irish’s caloric eggs in one basket. When it was hit with a blight, more than a million people died, and many who were left emigrated to America. It, too, was a white potato, and is the reason white potatoes are referred to as Irish. But potatoes in South America are are not merely white, or even smooth, or one shape or size. We’re seeing a variety of shapes and sizes coming to market: red, yellow, and blue, large and small, fingerlings and round. But there are even more variations: multicolored, knobby, and even black. Maybe one day we’ll see them here in Chattanooga!
Although there are flavor and texture distinctions among various potato varieties, many are interchangeable in recipes. In addition, recipe authors online are divided on the best potato for hash browns. Some say to use dry potatoes like russets, others that newer, wetter and waxier potatoes have better structure. So that’s going to be a personal preference. If you find your new potato hash browns to come out too wet, you can try russets. Or you can spread the hash browns thinner. Or, maybe you don’t mind a wetter texture to the finished product and they’re great!
Color is definitely going to be a matter of personal taste. I have not made hash browns with all red or blue potatoes. I love their colors, though, so hopefully I’ll get a chance to try it! It can be disconcerting, however, to find your white potatoes turning pink as you work with them. As it turns out, they oxidize, just as other fruits and vegetables do, only they turn pink instead of brown. If you’re making a single serving of hash browns, or having very fresh potatoes, you’re probably fine. Otherwise, dump your grated potatoes in water as you go and then drain well when you are ready to mix them up and cook them. Then squeeze out all the water as best you can, either using a potato ricer or (as I do) squeezing them in a dish towel.
This recipe was originally written for frozen, grated potatoes. That’s what I used at first, but I realized it’s quicker to grate them in my food processor than wait for the frozen ones to thaw. Now I can use market potatoes as well. Win-win! The frozen potatoes are nice and dry, though, so it took a couple of tries for me to get the recipe right with fresh potatoes. Squeeze them well!
I really like the seasonings that are in this recipe. I tend to eat my potatoes fairly plain, albeit salty, but this seasoning combo works out well. As usual, we don’t have garlic powder around so I’ve used garlic oil (reduce the butter), pressed garlic, or garlic chives (at the end) instead. I also use fresh thyme instead of the dried, adding a little more on top after baking. Definitely top this with something green: parsley, chives, thyme, a combination, or whatever fresh herbs you have on hand and like. Cilantro would work well with the cumin and garlic, maybe leave off the thyme.
Adapted from Zesty Baked Hash Brown Recipe on A Spicy Perspective
2 pounds potatoes
1 stick butter, melted (1/2 cup)
2 large eggs
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a large baking pan with parchment paper.
Peel potatoes (optional). Shred on a box grater or food processor, adding shredded potatoes to a large bowl of cold water as you go. When all of your potatoes are shredded, drain, then squeeze dry in a potato ricer or kitchen towel. (see Simply Recipes for visuals and tips)
Whisk the eggs in a small bowl then pour over the potatoes. Add the shredded cheese, salt, cumin, thyme and garlic powder. Toss to coat. Then pour the melted butter over the top and toss to coat again.
Spread the potato mixture evenly over the baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake for approximately 40 minutes. Cut and serve warm.
Printable recipe here
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