30 October 2016

Reformation Rolls, Not Unlike Hot-Cross Buns

One of the things I love about community markets, no matter the location, is that they always yield a few surprises.

I've gone shopping for asparagus and ended up with whisk brooms. I've searched for zucchini and discovered far-more-exotic red celery and striped stuffing tomatoes.

Discovering new things is part of the lure for me. It's why I shop at farm markets, from Wisconsin to Paris.

This week's surprise was Reformation Rolls.

Growing up in a Catholic household I'm familiar with Hot Cross Buns, a tasty Lenten staple. On my third trip to France, I became enamored with Jesuits.

I'd never heard of Reformation Rolls, though. Apparently, they are a German All Souls' Day custom. Halloween, it seems, was not traditionally celebrated in Germany, at least not until recently. (It's hot stuff in France, although I've never been there on Oct. 31.)

You can read more and find a recipe here.

I'm a bit surprised, growing up in heavily German-Lutheran Wisconsin, that I'd never heard of this sweet treat.

I'm looking forward to dunking them into my coffee tomorrow morning.

15 February 2016

Curried Winter Squash Soup

I have been making soup every week since cold weather set in. Any time we have leftover bones or carcasses, I begin a soup stock that sometimes takes two days to make; it's rich and savory and serves as the basis for a variety of soup recipes.

Homemade stock - apparently it's more stylishly called bone broth at the moment - is essential for casseroles and many vegetable dishes, as well as soup. When you focus on fresh or from-scratch foods, prepared sauces and soups begin to taste horrible in fairly short order.

Sampling stock in progress is a perk; I use about a half dozen spoons in the process. I throw vegetable scraps and leftovers into soup, so I've had some interesting combinations this winter. Cauliflower-corn-red pepper soup was probably my favorite.

But oh, this soup, this sweet Curried Winter Squash Soup, a gift from a bread-making friend, was probably one of the best soups I've ever tasted and although I haven't made it myself yet, I know she's OK with sharing the recipe. A farm market vendor, she posted it on our market's Facebook page.

Curried Winter Squash Soup
  • 2 pounds winter squash
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup celery
  • 1 or 2 sweet apples peeled, cored and diced
  • salt and fresh-bourn pepper to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon curry powder, or to taste
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup unsweetened apple cider
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or ¾ cup milk and ¼ cup sour cream)
  • Tablespoon finely minced ginger root, divided
  • Fresh grated nutmeg
Bake squash in 375-degree oven until tender. Set aside until it's cool enough to handle.

Melt the butter and brown onions and celery until tender and clear. Add apples, broth, cider, bay leaf and curry. Bring mixture to a boil, reducing heat and simmering for 20 minutes. Add squash.

Use a blender to purée mixture, about one cup at a time. Add the ginger gradually. 

Stir in milk and heat the soup again, but do not boil it. Adjust seasonings such as salt and pepper and garnish with fresh-grated nutmeg.

I'd serve this with a ham sandwich and coleslaw. 

Thanks to Brenda of Bay Bakers for allowing me to showcase her recipe.

25 January 2016

Purslane, the Tasty and Succulent Weed

Purslane in all its glory on my deck.

Although the Upper Great Lakes escaped last weekend's behemoth snow fall, it's snowing now and just below freezing, which means whatever accumulation we get will be heavy. In other words, not much fun to shovel tomorrow.

So we're staying indoors as much as possible. Yesterday I rearranged my gardening books, moving them from the pantry - I know, strange place - to a tall bookcase in the living room. I take pleasure in knowing that they are easier to access and that in a month or so, I will be starting a few seeds indoors.

As I pored over my gardening looks, I was reminded that last summer a grower friend challenged me to do something with purslane, a weed that has culinary uses as a salad enhancement and a soup thickener.

It reminds me of sedum, the kind that makes a dandy ground cover in your garden.

But it's widely used for cooking in North Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia. Purslane is crisp but feels tender when you bite into it and a bit citrusy when you taste it.

I tossed some raw purslane into my salad and it was not unpleasant. I think I will pass on the soup thickening, however.  I did find it an interesting addition to egg salad, imparting a hint of lemon and a touch of crispness, not unlike thinly-sliced celery.

Some people add purslane to stir fries. That's something I might try next summer.

Purslane can be foraged. In fact, it grows all over the world. I've seen it erupting out of sidewalk cracks. You can read more right here.

No doubt I'll run across some purslane six months from now. Meanwhile, I'm going to immerse myself in seed catalogs and dream away the rest of January.