Photos by Zachary Cross
Fall is just around the corner and with it, greens return to the market. I was pleased to see chard at the market last week. It’s a green that can, to a point, handle our hot summers, but this dry, hot one was a bigger challenge than usual. Hopefully fall will bring rain as well as cooler temperatures - and with them, many more greens!
Chard, or Swiss Chard, is a relative of beets, which is most obvious when you look at the red varieties, named things like rhubarb or ruby. Like rhubarb, beet greens, and spinach, chard is high in oxalic acid, which lends it a tangy flavor (and makes rhubarb - otherwise unrelated to chard - unpalatable to most without sugar, and its leaves toxic!). Unlike stronger greens such as collards, there is no bitterness in chard, but, unlike spinach, it does have a distinctive, earthy flavor.
Chard comes in several other colors, in addition to red, making it a beautiful addition to the market and your table. The stem and veins can be white, yellow, red, pink and orange. The leaves are mostly bright green, except in the reddest varieties, which are a dark green and red. The names are colorful: pink flamingo, bright lights, rainbow, silverado, and oriole, to name a few varieties.
Tiny chard leaves find their way into salad mixes, and chard leaves of all sizes can be prepared like spinach or kale. But what about the stems? For a sauté or stir fry you can simply start the chopped stems first and then add the greens as the stems begin to get tender. The stems are wonderful on their own, though. Their bright colors are beautiful in pickles, sautés, and baked.
A new recipe for me this year is chard stem hummus. It’s really more like baba ganouj: a vegetable cooked until soft and blended with tahini and seasonings into a savory dip. The color of the dip depends on the color of the stems. White chard looks most like a regular hummus while darker pinks and reds turn it pink. I’m a sucker for pink so I went with the darkest pinks and reds I had. With a sprinkle of green herbs it’s a beautiful color combination.
Unlike baba ganouj this recipe surprisingly tastes most like regular, chickpea hummus. This is an excellent discovery for someone wanting to use up leftover stems or feed someone eating paleo-style. Or just for fun and something colorful and different! This recipe comes from Tara Duggan’s Root-to-Stalk Cooking, via Food 52.
From Root to Stalk Cooking by Tara Duggan
Makes 1 cup
Photo by Circle S Farm
Before the season changes can be a tough time to cook. The tomatoes are dying off, the fall veggies aren’t coming in yet, and it seems like I’ve made everything already. Of course this isn’t true so I sat down with my cookbooks and looked through the summer sections. In A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen I came across a recipe that sounded yummy and promised to be pretty and summery, too: Chilled Curried Yellow Squash Soup with Cilantro-Lime Puree.
Despite my moaning about fall crops not coming in yet, cilantro has made a reappearance at the market. Summer squash is still plentiful as well. I ended up using a spaghetti squash for this recipe, but any summer squash should work. Bishop says, “You can use zucchini instead of yellow squash (the flavor is much the same), but you’ll lose the visual contrast between the yellow soup and the green puree.” If you are concerned about color, just peel the dark green skin of the squash lightly. I think the color mainly comes from the turmeric in the curry powder, so you just don’t want to dilute that.
I did use a Yukon Gold potato in place of the russet called for. It’s what I got from the market and I assumed it would help lean the color towards yellow. Also, this soup is plenty flavorful with just water, in case you are out of broth. The last tweak I made was to use butter to sauté the onion and squash - ghee would have been even better.
Since some of my kids are suspicious of cold soup, I was short on time, and Bishop says, “This subtle soup is delicious hot,” I chose to serve it hot for supper and cold for lunch the next day. I do like it best cold, though in cooler weather hot might be nice. The cilantro-lime puree keeps well in the fridge, but it’s prettiest immediately after blending.
This recipe inspired me to make various other curry-laden dishes for supper, including Kohlrabi with Peas and Potatoes from Simply in Season (recipe to come!).
From A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ pounds yellow summer squash, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced gingerroot
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons curry powder
6 cups vegetable broth
1 medium russet potato (about 8 ounces), peeled and diced
½ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon lime juice
Serves 6 to 8 as a first course
Go here for a printable recipe
Photo by Zachary Cross
Photos by Zachary Cross
I grew up in South Carolina and made many trips to the coast throughout my childhood. We often went out to eat, sampling the various fresh-caught fish that was available. Back at home, if Sunday meals were not spent with extended family we often went to Red Lobster, where I usually chose popcorn shrimp, but at least had a wide assortment of seafood to choose from. I love Chattanooga, but it's hard sometimes living in a landlocked state, so far from the ocean. I don't get there nearly as often as I did as a kid. And I don't eat out as often, either. If I want fish, I have to cook it myself!
After a lot of trial and error, often resulting in dry, overcooked fish, I came across Martha Stewart's recipe for parchment bluefish from Martha Stewart's Quick Cook Menus. This cookbook is another one divided into seasons and uses fresh ingredients, including the more unusual ones you might find in your CSA box or at the market. Bonus: Martha says each menu (52, one for each week of the year) can be made in an hour. I'm not sure I can manage that but that tells me that these are more doable recipes than many of Martha's others. There's more info about baking fish in parchment on Martha's website.
Often referred to in the French, baking "en papillote" helps fish to cook evenly and keeps it moist. This is done speedily at high heat in the oven so it definitely belongs in a "quick cook" menu. Although I've had trouble with fish drying out, overcooking, or cooking unevenly in the past, this method works for me every time. The only time I have ever had trouble with it is when a vacation rental oven quit working and dropped temperature, even in the short time I was baking it! Even then I managed to salvage the fish. It ended up being overdone, but melted in our mouths, and had not ended up dry and chewy like most overcooked fish.
Note: this method works for fillets. I've not tried it with steaks or other cuts.
I had eaten Pickett's Trout Ranch fillets at area restaurants for a while before I found out they would be available at MSFM. I was so excited! Trout is a favorite around our house and I am pleased to have it locally sourced and conveniently available.
Martha's original recipe calls for sautéing shallots to add to the fish, as well as using slices of lemon for flavoring and moisture. The recipe also calls for fresh oregano and parsley. One day I decided to sub herbs for both the shallots and lemon, using chives and lemon thyme in addition to the parsley and oregano, and the prep time got even faster. You can use any fresh herbs that strike your fancy and that you find at the market. I've used basil, lemon balm, mint, parsley, thyme, and marjoram - and typically combinations of herbs. For the fish pictured I used a combination of parsley, oregano, lemon thyme, chives, and garlic chives - it's my standard mix. Some recipes include vegetables such as summer squash or tomato inside the parchment.
The key to good fish is sealing the parchment well. Use a bigger piece than you think you need and try it at least the first time with a circle. Crimp the edges well, starting at one side and finishing on the other. Here's a video that shows how. I have not tried the egg white recommended in the video; I've always had good success without it.
The original recipe called for an oven temperature of 450 but, thanks to Fahrenheit 451, I keep it down at 425 or 400. I've seen recipes as low as 350, so you can choose a temperature based on other items you are baking, just give it a little longer time for lower temps.
Adapted from Parchment Bluefish from Martha Stewart’s Quick Cook Menus
1 tsp butter
1 sprig each fresh oregano, parsley, lemon thyme, and chives - or fresh herbs of your choice
1 Pickett’s trout fillet
Here's a printable version.
Roasted veggies are a convenient accompaniment: get the veggies started and, when they are nearly finished, throw in the fish. Add a fermented veggie (kimchi green beans from Harvest Roots Ferments shown here), possibly some bread, and your meal is complete!
Photo by Zachary Cross
Zucchini bread, introduced in the groovy, healthy 70s, is what most people probably associate with a sweet summer squash treat. Grated zucchini is added to a (usually spiced) quick bread batter, as in a carrot bread or cake. I love squash but I’ll confess I’m not a huge zucchini bread fan. There are some good recipes and even zucchini cake but there’s something about the texture that bugs me.
I love pumpkin-based baked goods, though. They don’t appeal to me until the weather cools down, though hot weather is not stopping companies like Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts from rolling out pumpkin spice lattes. Pumpkin muffins and such got me thinking, though: why aren’t there recipes for baked goods with pureed summer squash? It is an extra step but I’ve grated my knuckles enough times making zucchini bread to think that extra step worth it.
I decided to give it a try and thankfully started with a recipe that works best with home-cooked squash: Winter Squash Bars from Simply in Season. I have tried canned pumpkin in this recipe in the past and it was too dry. This distinction is important because summer squash puree can be pretty wet. It needs to be drained well and then the remaining liquid taken into consideration when mixing up the recipe.
I felt that different flavors would be good, rather than the standard cinnamon and spice. I opted for lemon, using grated zest (so I didn’t get away from the grater after all!) and experimented with hints of ginger and clove. I tried two variations: blueberry and poppy seed. They were a hit, especially the poppyseed (I have some big fans of Greyfriar’s lemon poppy seed muffins from back in the 90s.). The blueberry tends to get overly moist but the texture of the poppy seed version is perfect. This is a bar in shape but in texture more like a muffin or cake, not a typical gooey lemon bar.
These bars are found in the dessert section of the cookbook, but I looked at various muffin recipes and found the sugar content to be about the same in the bars as in muffins. So, eat them for breakfast, tea, or dessert as your taste buds prefer. You could experiment with the amount of sugar, though I’d make a batch with regular sugar before experimenting with wetter sugars such as honey or maple syrup. As I’ve said, this can be a pretty wet recipe already. I think it would work well with a gluten-free flour, too; the number of eggs seems to make it less sensitive to the kind of flour used. I’ve used all whole wheat, white, and a combination of the two. I have not used gluten-free flour but I have made it grain-free with green plantain. That variation is on my personal blog.
When buying squash, know that it takes about a pound of squash to make a cup of puree. That varies, though, depending on the squash. The tough peel and big seeds of a larger squash should probably be discarded, necessitating a little more to begin with. You can use any variety of summer squash, spaghetti squash (just be sure to puree it well so you don’t have strings), or even immature winter squash if you can find it (ask a farmer). I’ve not made it with acorn squash but that’s another mild squash with a pale flesh. Essentially you don’t want the rich orange of a squash like mature butternut or pumpkin - save those for October and later!
To cook the squash, cut up and boil until soft (best for summer squash - peel and seed if necessary, smaller squash are fine unpeeled and with seeds; you’ll be blending it all up). Drain the boiled squash well and puree in a food processor or with an immersion blender. You may want to drain again in a fine strainer if it still seems really wet. It should be wetter than canned pumpkin, a tad drier than applesauce. Or bake whole at 350 for an hour or so (depending on size) - best for spaghetti or other winter squash. Scoop out the seeds, then scoop out the flesh and puree. Drain if needed. Then you’re ready to make bars!
The original recipe was double this quantity. I’ve made a printable recipe here, including a second printable for the quantities of the original recipe.
Summer Squash Bars
Adapted from Winter Squash Bars from Simply in Season by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert
1 cup flour (white, whole wheat or half and half)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 Tbs poppy seeds
(optional: 1/16 tsp ginger and/or cloves)
Beat together in a mixing bowl
1 cup summer squash puree (about 1lb fresh squash, immature winter squash, or spaghetti squash)
¾ cup sugar
⅜ cup (6 Tbs) butter, melted
1 tsp grated lemon zest
Mix in dry ingredients to wet. Pour into greased 9” x 13” pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes and cut into bars when cool (or cool-ish!).
Our youngest child is a pretty adventurous eater. I don’t know if it’s just her personality, or because she’s the youngest and goes along with what everyone else is eating. She still has her likes and dislikes, though, and her favorite main dish for a long time was tortellini with roasted red pepper sauce. This was so predictable that if Jeffrey was planning to make it for supper, he would ask Millie what she wanted to eat that night. He knew she would immediately pipe up, “Tortellini with pepper sauce!” I love that it is an easy dish to make, yet it’s beautiful and tasty, too.
This recipe comes from another Jack Bishop book, Pasta e Verdura. Conveniently, this book is arranged alphabetically by vegetable, with 140 vegetable-based pasta sauce recipes with pasta shape recommendations. We found it super helpful when we were faced with an abundant CSA share and a dearth of ideas of how to cook it. We could just check out the suggestions for the veggie(s) that we wanted to use.
Though tortellini is often our preferred pasta, we also make this dish with spaghetti squash . Or we use it as pizza sauce, or anywhere you might use a pesto or pasta sauce (e.g. sauce for cooked summer squash, hummus, sandwich spread…). Just be sure to adjust the seasonings when used for something other than pasta (it will need less). This recipe calls for parsley, “so that the pepper flavor can really shine through,” but another, similar, Bishop recipe calls for basil (and no pine nuts). And though red peppers make a lovely sauce, yellow and orange should be pretty, too. Feel free to experiment!
Though the recipe calls for two large bell peppers, it should really say two huge peppers; a pound is a lot of pepper. I found it to need closer to 3 large bells, and 5 of a longer, thin pepper such as The Healthy Kitchen’s Cubanelles that I used.
I have included instructions for oven roasting peppers, as that is what I am most familiar with. They can also be roasted over a gas stove or on a grill. I’m sure Google will yield plenty of instructions for either. Go here for a printable recipe and here for printable roasting instructions.
Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
From Pasta e Verdura by Jack Bishop
2 large bell peppers (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 small clove of garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 pound pasta
Oven Roasted Peppers
From Pasta e Verdura by Jack Bishop
Adjust the oven rack to the top position and heat the broiler. Place the peppers so that they are an inch or two from the heating element (Bishop says on the rack, I use a cookie sheet). Broil turning carefully several time with tongs and taking care not to puncture the peppers, until the skins are lightly charred but not ashen on all sides, about 15 minutes. Place the charred peppers in a small paper bag, roll the bag closed, and set the peppers aside to steam for about 5 minutes or until the skins pucker. When cool enough to handle, peel the peppers with your fingers (although rinsing makes the job easier, it also washes away some flavor), then core and seed them.
Photos by Zachary Cross. Flowers by Southerly Flower Farm. Squash by various vendors.
When I was little, my mother would cut summer squash into strips and deep fry it. Then she would try to tell me they were French fries. I didn't believe this for a minute, but deep-fried anything? I would eat it! As an adult, I am not a fan of deep frying, mainly because I do not like the smell or the cleanup. Getting kids to eat squash can still be a challenge, though. Convincing adults to eat it can be, too. It's such an abundant crop this time of year, and so versatile - even beautiful, with all the varieties found at the market. One night I decided to mix pesto into some squash that I had sautéed. Bingo, for the first time, no squash leftovers that night!
Pesto utilizes another abundant summer crop: basil. This week I decided to try Spring Creek Veggie’s lime basil to mix thing up a bit. We tried a couple of different combinations and decided that approximately half Italian basil, half lime basil was about right. I have used lemon basil from Spring Creek in the past, too, and that was tasty also.
The pesto recipe we often use is a classic with a special ingredient: parsley. You know how pesto always turns brown so quickly? Parsley slows that process, without a change in flavor. This recipe is from Jack Bishop's A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen. Like Simply in Season the book is divided into seasons plus an "Everyday Basics" section. Throughout the book Bishop talks about going to a local farm on Long Island, NY to pick up his family's CSA share, including the occasional family work days at the farm. It's an enjoyable read plus good recipes, and practical for those of us shopping in season.
from: A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop
1 ¾ cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves
½ cup tightly packed fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 medium garlic clove, peeled
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Place the basil, parsley, pine nuts, and garlic in a food processor. Process, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until the ingredients are finely chopped. With the motor running, slowly pour the oil through the feed tube and process until smooth.
2. Scrape the sauce into a small bowl and stir in the cheese and salt to taste. The pesto may be used immediately or refrigerated in a an airtight container for several days. For storage in the refrigerator, pour a thin film of olive oil over the pesto
Makes a little more than ¾ cup.
Want to print the recipe? Go here for a printable Google Doc.
I love the abundant variety this time of year. For our supper I roasted beautiful red potatoes from Sequatchie Cove, okra (multiple vendors right now), and baked some Pickett's Trout Ranch trout (recipe coming soon). I cut the squash into bite-sized pieces, sautéed them, then mixed in the pesto once they were cooked. I like to serve a fermented vegetable with my meals and Harvest Roots Ferments' Kimchi Green Beans were an excellent complement with this meal. I had thought, with kimchi in the name, it would be something I'd want only with an Asian meal. Instead, the green beans were yummy but surprisingly neutral, a tasty and welcome variation on my usual choice of kraut with supper.
Photos by Zachary Cross
Perhaps because of examples in literature I always think of apples as a fall crop. Of course they are available in supermarkets year-round, whether from the U.S., South America, or as far away as New Zealand. Our local apple season, however, started at least two weeks ago. I have been buying apples from Wheeler's Orchard and they are fantastic. We have been enjoying them fresh but I decided to make an easy dessert for a change. Maybe you are familiar with oven pancakes, but when I first tried this recipe it was a new thing for me. I had always made pancakes on a griddle. This is a lot easier, faster, and it is versatile. You can use it for most fruits or you can alter to make a vegetable pancake for a main or side dish.
This recipe comes from the cookbook Simply in Season. If you are familiar with the More-With-Less Cookbook, this newer collection of recipes bills itself as "Recipes that celebrate fresh, local foods in the spirit of More-with-Less." It is organized by seasons and the foods that are fresh in that season (though it's a little oriented towards a more northern seasonal pattern than we have in Chattanooga).
Fruit Oven Pancake
Adapted from Simply in Season
1 tablespoon butter
Preheat oven to 400F. While oven heats, place butter in 9-inch pie pan and place in oven to melt. Swirl pan to grease bottom and sides.
Peel and thinly slice 1 large apple or pear and place on top of melted butter in pie pan.
Return to oven and bake until soft, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons brown sugar or maple syrup.
Mix in blender:
3/4 cup of milk
2/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pour over soft fruit and bake until puffed and golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and a dash of cinnamon and serve immediately.
Photo by Zachary Cross
Is there really such a thing? Maybe you have an assortment from your CSA box or you had to try one of every color and variety at the market. Last week I was left with an assortment from my own garden, gifts from my dad, and both my husband's and my dad's trips to the market. Then my tomato-eating husband went on a business trip. Even after gifting to friends and neighbors we were in danger of exploding tomatoes in our kitchen. Roasting to the rescue!
Roasted tomatoes do not require a strict recipe. Cut tomatoes, any kind, in half or thick slices, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Optionally sprinkle with your favorite herbs and/or add unpeeled cloves of garlic to your baking tray. Roast quickly, 20 minutes or so, as high as 450 degrees, or go low and slow for 3 to 4 hours at 225. Or somewhere in between! As you might expect, faster and hotter requires more watching, possibly stirring, and can result in a browner product. I opted for longer and lower so I would not have to keep an eye on them and added basil and garlic. As I was roasting spaghetti squash too, I probably should have turned up the heat a little, but it all eventually got done. I boiled some regular pasta for those who prefer it, and two trays of tomatoes were gobbled up by my three kids and our housemate.
In addition to tossing with pasta, you can use roasted tomatoes on pizza, in salad, on toast, a roast meat, or anywhere you might eat a sun-dried, cooked, or fresh tomato. Tweak your cooking temperatures and times to reflect how you enjoy your finished product, e.g. chewy, crisp, juicy, drier, etc. Store any leftovers in the fridge, or for long-term storage, bake up a big batch and store in the freezer.
This week I am taking over the blog from Catie and Heather. My name is Heather Cross, and I have been an organic gardener since I was five and a Chattanooga resident since I was twenty. I love to cook and like to try out new recipes on my husband Jeffrey and the three kids we still have at home. Thankfully they are willing guinea pigs! Not only is my son Zachary one of my testers, but he is also a photographer and will be taking the photos for the blog. Although I am a gardener, I am not a farmer and I love shopping at the market and getting to know the farmers. I enjoy chatting about growing techniques, pest management, unique varieties, and recipes. I like that these are folks I can get to know (and even visit their farms) and that I am supporting them directly. I look forward to sharing recipes for the fruits of their labors with you.
Photo by Ann Keener
This recipe lets Sonrisa's whole wheat flour shine in all of its delicate nuttiness. The recipe was developed after reading Michael Ruhlman's Ratio for The Farmer's Daughter. Understanding proportions of recipes creates versatility in the kitchen and boosts confidence. Here, the ratio is roughly 1-2-3 of butter-sugar-flour, with slightly less flour to accommodate the absorbing nature of whole wheat. There are equal amounts of flour and chocolate chips to satisfy the chocolate lovers. A pinch of cayenne and nutmeg brightens the cookie and adds a slight contrast to the caramel nature of sorghum and brown sugar.
8 oz brown butter
12 oz brown sugar
2 oz sorghum
2 oz honey
21 oz Sonrisa Whole Wheat flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
21 oz chocolate chips
Punch nutmeg and cayenne
Cream the butter and sugars until lightened and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla extract. Whisk together the dry ingredients and add until incorporated. Add the chocolate chips. Scoop and chill or freeze. Bake at 300 for 10 minutes. Enjoy with cold, fresh milk!
Buttermilk pie comes together in a pinch and tastes great with or without fruit added in. Make your favorite crust recipe and pre-bake before adding filling. Try culturing your own buttermilk and substituting kefir into the recipe. The basic pie is from Loveless Cafe in Nashville, TN.
7 oz sugar
4 oz butter, softened
1.5 oz flour
1/2 vanilla bean, or teaspoon of any extract
8 oz buttermilk
Sliced stone fruit, berries, or sungold tomatoes (optional)
Pre-heat oven to 350. Rub the vanilla bean paste into the sugar. Cream with butter and flour. Add eggs one at a time. Incorporate buttermilk. Pour filling into crust. Arrange about a cup or two of fruit onto the top. Bake for 40 minutes until set, slightly jiggly, puffed, and golden around the edges. Best serve chilled.