30 June 2014
09 February 2014
From 2012: I bought some more cipollini onions today. I can't help myself. They are so sweet, in taste and in form.
A while ago, I made this dish and the memory of it propelled me forward. Sometimes you need one recipe to suggest another.
I'd never worked with cipollini onions until 2012, although I must have consumed them in something at some point. (They look light flattened versions of regular onions, or maybe little vegetable spaceships.) One night, I made a side dish with delicata squash. Surely there's a sweet marriage here somewhere?
(I worried about peeling these flat little beauties, and thought I might lose a finger, but then I found these suggestions online. As it turned out, I had no problems once I halved the onions so they were easier to peel and slice.)
So here's how it all came together:
Sweet Autumn Tart with Cipollini Onions and Delicata Squash
- 2-3 cipollini onions, peeled and sliced of diced
- 1 small delicata squash, seeded and sliced in 1/4 in slices*
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 1 heaping Tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 cup grated gruyere cheese
- 1 sheet commercial puff pastry
- 1 small wheel Crottin de Champcol or any other goat creamy cheese
- 1/2 Tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
- 2 teaspoons bacon bits, optional
- dash sea salt, optional
Set aside both the onions and the squash while you prepare the crust.
Roll out the puff pastry to ensure it fits in a greased tart pan. To be honest, I simply lay the pastry sheet in the pan and work it until it is evenly distributed. Next, sprinkle 1/2 cup of gruyere on the bottom of the crust. Distribute evenly. Bake the crust for roughly 10 minutes in the oven, monitoring it carefully. When you remove it, you will need to use a spoon or spatula to flatten the bottom of the crust.
Next, layer the squash, followed by the onions and the goat cheese. (If you choose to add bacon, do it now, distributing evenly. The cheese is creamy, so it will need to be tucked in between onions and squash. The cheese acts as a binder, holding the onions and squash together.
Finally, season with sea salt before returning to the oven for another 25-30 minutes of baking. About 15 minutes into the baking, add remainder of shredded gruyere cheese and fresh thyme. Check frequently; the top of the tart should turn a golden color before you remove it from the oven. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before serving.
This is sweet, but not a dessert tart. It would make a great appetizer, or a meal in itself. In the latter case, I'd serve it with ham and a green salad, pairing it with a Riesling.
As it is, the sweetness tempers the slight tanginess of the tart. The cheese provides a good foil for the faint hint of brown sugar.
* You could use any winter squash.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin
08 February 2014
We are lucky to have not one but two winter farm markets here, but I am counting the days until the summer market opens. Recently I revisited this soup from 2012, inspired by what I found at the market that year.
I've had the farm market habit since the days when I lived within walking distance of the Dane County Farm Market in Madison, Wis.
I'd leave my apartment for the market's opening, make one turn around Capital Square, and head home, both arms full. I'd eat breakfast, and go back around 9 a.m., returning home again loaded down with produce, baked goods, herbs and more. In those days, I could eat for about $20-30 a week.
I like the sense of community a farm market generates. I see the same shoppers every week, and there's lots of bantering back and forth between shoppers and growers.
The following sweet onion soup recipe was made from two varieties of Immerfrost Farm sweet onions and leeks, garlic, thyme from my own garden, bay leaves from another vendor, and topped with cheese from a regional cheese factory. Only the broth and the black-truffle butter (a splurge) were not locally produced.
Sweet Onion-Leek Soup with Truffle Butter and Thyme
- 10-12 small sweet onions, sliced
23 medium leeks, sliced (tender white and green parts)
- 2 small cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2-3 Tablespoons truffle butter
- 1 32-ounce package free-range chicken broth, or homemade stock*
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- dash herbes de Provence
- 2 bay leaves
- 1-2 Tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- thickening agent
You could choose to start by making a roux with flour and butter. (I often forget this step and use this method. I find that a cheese rind often does the trick, too.)
Prepare onions and leaks and brown in oil and truffle butter stock pot over medium heat until transparent and slightly brown. Stir frequently. Add broth, herbs, and bay leaves. Allow to nearly reach boiling point, then simmer for about 40 minutes or more over very low heat. Add fresh thyme about midway through the simmering process. Remove bay leaves before serving. Season to taste.
Serve with grated or flaked cheese; I used flaked Parmesan. but Gruyere would be perfect, too.
Light, sweet, subtle: I served it with hard French rolls. It's also great with a ham sandwich.
*This is much better with homemade stock. I save juice from just about everything, including slow cooker chicken and pork chops. Add water, chill overnight, and skim off the fat. I use this strategy with broth made from a chicken carcass, too.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin
19 September 2012
|This pepper was nearly the size of a football.|
For an entire weekend, this red pepper of rather behemoth proportions lurked in my crisper.
In deference to my Wisconsin education, I dubbed him Big Red, even though his origins are just over the Michigan border, about 25 miles from Wisconsin in the gardens of Immerfrost Farm.
Big and proud, I figured he was a Badger at heart: Like me, born and raised in Michigan but residing in Wisconsin.
Big Red demanded the royal treatment. I thought I should stuff him with something very exotic. I toyed with a lot of ideas.
But since it is still Clean Out the Fridge Month, I wanted to use food I had on hand. Here's what I ended up with:
Vegetable Stuffed "Big Red" Pepper with Cheddar Cheese and Walnuts
- 1 very large red pepper (or three medium peppers)
- dash sea salt
- 2 cups wild-and-brown rice blend, cooked and seasoned
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 green pepper, chopped
- 1 small sweet onion, diced
- 2 large carrots, sliced and chopped
- 2/3 cup green beans, sliced
- 1/3 cup peas, cooked
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
Sauté the onion and green pepper in olive oil until lightly browned. Place the rice mix in a bowl, and add the onion and pepper. Next, blanch the carrot and green beans. Plunge into cold water before chopping; add this to the rice and vegetable mix, along with the peas. Add the walnuts for crunch, and about a 1/2 cup of cheese.
Stuff this mixture into the peppers. You will have about a third of the mix left over for another use, such as a side dish.
Bake in a preheated, 400-degree oven for about 40 minutes. Top with remaining half of grated cheese. That's all - really simple.
The pepper was sweet, tender and true - that is, it tasted like a fresh pepper. Never mind that it was larger than a small squash. The walnuts add crunch, while the cheese adds tang.
Most of the ingredients were local, in fact, most came from Immerfrost Farm. The cheddar cheese was from a Wisconsin source, Laack Brothers. Only the rice, olive oil, peas, sea salt and walnuts were purchased at the super market.
15 September 2012
My community has three different farm markets and I love them all.
The vendors are friendly and welcoming. They often set aside produce they know I will like: Potatoes that look like people and carrots in provocative positions.
The growers from Immerfrost Farm saved this monster red pepper for me. To show you how big it is, I photographed it with two smaller pepper. It's about twice the size of a red pepper you might find at the supermarket. You can actually see this pepper's skin strain.
Oh, baby. If you've been following this blog for very long, you know red peppers are probably my favorite vegetable. I believe they enhance just about everything short of apple pie.
This specimen is huge. I'm probably going to stuff it, because to cut it into stripes or squares would be a culinary travesty.
Size matters, honey. And this pepper had the audacity to grow to near-behemoth proportions. He's the size of a small squash. He deserves the best.
I'm pondering a strategy for giving this pepper an appropriately fancy demise. As always, your suggestions are welcome.
25 August 2012
The growers did not let me down. What they had were these wonderful stuffing tomatoes. Because I've got another recipe to make today, I'm going to ponder the filling for a while.
My online research indicates these tomatoes keep well in the refrigerator, so I've got some time to come up with a recipe for filling, maybe even two.
I'd like your suggestions. What would you do?
See my on-the-spot photo of the tomatoes here.
20 August 2012
Indigo Rose tomatoes are among them.
They look likes small plums. But bite into one and it's juicier than a plum could ever be. And it's just about as sweet.
The flavor is supercharged tomato. The juice dribbles down your chin, so wear a bib.
The Immerfrost Farm growers are spoiling me with their great produce and imaginative displays. My palate, always discriminating when it comes to tomatoes, is downright snobbish now.
I might never buy a grocery store tomato again. Ever. Even in dead of winter.
It just wouldn't be the same.
14 August 2012
(Apparently announcing your retirement brings out the best and worst in the people around you. It starts rumors, too. I've been fingered as the new editor of the paper and hired to do public relations work for a funeral home. Wow. Who knew?)
In truth, I'm going to devote my time to resurrecting the small communications business I once operated. Writing and public relations are what I do best. Or so people tell me.
I have a long to-do list, starting with creating an office for myself in our upstairs library. This room, with its built-in bookshelves and window seat used to look out on an ancient maple tree. In fall, the room seemed fired with the scarlet of the sugar maple. The tree had to come down last November and the room has lost some of its charm. But I'm painting it pumpkin with creamy woodwork, looking for a new area rug, and hanging some of my copper-hued prints on the walls.
My kitchen needs attention - lots of it. I jokingly call it a "French" kitchen because it's not much larger than the tiny kitchens of Paris. But the truth is, I have always had a vision of what a French kitchen means: An old cupboard, copper, tiles, lace curtains, worn wooden surfaces (well, we have the latter). Finally, we'll have time for some DIY projects.
These plans sustain me. So does a good breakfast. I started the week with a pineapple tomato tartine. The tomato came from the growers at Immerfrost Farm, who seem to be introducing lots of new produce to our area. This sweet, fleshy tomato is a meal in itself. The exterior is red and yellow while the interior is yellow with red streaks and relatively few seeds.
To make this tartine, you will need:
- 2 slices of whole-grain bread
- 2 teaspoons butter (OK, you know I use Smart Balance)
- 1 heaping Tablespoon cream cheese
- 5-6 thin slices cucumber
- 1/2 teaspoon minced onion, fresh or dried
- 1/4 teaspoons chives, cut, or dill, chopped
- 2 teaspoons mayonaisse
- 2 thick slices pineapple or any other beefsteak tomato
Toast and butter the bread, slathering on cream cheese. Layer on the cucumbers, adding onion and either chives or dill; top with mayo. Add the tomato slices last. A few sprinkles of sea salt help move the flavor forward, as this is a mildish tomato.
Wow. I liked this even better than this tartine.
That's the pineapple tomato below. Next to a small green one the growers urged me to try.
01 August 2012
The market in old Cahors is truly a community event where news, gossip and political opinions are exchanged. It's held in the cathedral square but spills over into side streets. Here the streets are narrow and meandering. The market teems with life.
Our own market is not that busy yet, and in its 6th year, not so well established. But the produce is also artfully displayed:
|Red and Purple Potatoes, with Tomatoes|
|Peppers, Beets, Onions and Cabbage|