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Food, Recipes, Winter

Castle Valley Mill Redux

February 26, 2016

Cornbread in a cast iron skillet.

Since visiting Castle Valley Mill I have been having fun finding new ways to use their wonderful products. In the past baking had been intimidating for me, but a few classes at Drexel, especially the one I am taking now with Marc Vetri and his baker Claire Kopp McWilliams, have brought me around. I now enjoy the whole process of baking a loaf of bread or a batch of rolls. Kneading it until it is just right and watching it rise is fascinating. Since I have been using the flour from Castle Valley I have developed a new respect for the different textures and flavors that whole grain products bring to the bread.

Rolls in a basket.The flours that I bought were rye, whole wheat and a strain of corn they call Bloody Butcher. This flour is ground from a strain of corn that is red, and it gives the cornbread a tinge of color. Castle Valley has quite a few recipes on their website to help you get started using their product. I made their cornbread, two different ones, and they were both delicious. I enjoyed the one that uses dried rosemary just a bit more and I can envision swapping out the rosemary for thyme or sage depending on what I am eating it with.

I also made a rye bread from a recipe on David Lebovitz’s website. It is hearty and chewy with great rye flavor. No, it doesn’t taste like caraway, which is what most people think of when they think of rye bread. It’s fine to want that flavor — for example, these rolls from Martha Stewart are delicious — but I also think it’s important to appreciate the rye for what it is on its own.

I think my next venture with this flour will be pasta. I just ordered Mastering Pasta by Chef Vetri and then the fun will begin.

Food, Recipes, Winter

Brussels Sprout Salad

February 4, 2016

Brussel Sprouts Salad

When you are at the farmer’s market and you see local brussel sprouts, buy them! I know, you think you don’t like brussels sprouts. Your mother cooked them to death and they are mushy and they smell bad. I used to think so too. That’s the reason I didn’t eat them until much later into adulthood. Then I discovered if you roast them in a hot oven with just some olive oil, salt and pepper (and yes bacon does make everything better) they are delicious and no funky smell.

If you are still not sure then I have a recipe that will change your mind, and ease you into the delicious world of sprouts. This recipe is a take on a salad that I had at Iron Hill Brewery shortly after Thanksgiving. My son, who was a brussels sprout hater, works there and was raving about it. I traded out some ingredients and tweeked it a bit to my tastes and believe me it will make you a brussel sprout lover. The Iron Hill recipe called for dried cranberries, but I like the fresh pop of the pomegranate seeds.

Here is what you will need

  • 2 pints of brussels sprouts
  • 6 green onions
  • 5 ounces of marcona almonds (you could use regular almonds, but marconas are so good)
  • 4 ounces of pomegranate seeds (yes, not local, I know, but sometimes you have to be a little flexible)

For the dressing: (this dressing will make more than you need for the salad, but it keeps and is just as good on a green salad.)

  • 5 ounces shallot
  • .5 ounces minced garlic
  • 1 ounce Dijon mustard
  • 3 ounces sugar
  • 4 ounces red vinegar
  • 3 ounces balsamic vinegar
  • ¾ teaspoon salt and pepper mix
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup canola oil

Method for the dressing

  • In a blender puree shallots, garlic, mustard, sugar and vinegars until fully blended.
  • Transfer to a stainless steel mixing bowl. Slowly whisk in oil until blended.

For the salad

  • In a food processor, fitted with the thin slicing blade, slice your brussel sprouts
  • Slice your green onions thinly
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and add dressing to your taste

If this doesn’t make you a brussel sprout lover, I don’t know what will.

If you are already a sprout lover, what is your favorite way to eat them?

Food, Recipes, Summer

Zucchini and Potato Fritters

August 1, 2014

Zucchini fritters topped with a poached egg.

Garrison Keillor says July is the only time of year when country people lock our cars in the church parking lot, so people won’t put squash on the front seat. I used to think it was a joke.
— Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Ah, yes, one of the great challenges of summer — what to do with all that zucchini. In this neck of the woods we’re quite fond of our squash, and we’re more than up to that challenge. Zucchini fritters are a new favorite of ours.

  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cooking time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 5-6 fritters

What you’re gonna need

  • 1 pound of zucchini (3 small or 2 medium) shredded
  • 1 teaspoon salt+1 teaspoon or to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 medium Yukon gold potato (8-9 ounces)
  • 3 scallions sliced thinly (green and light green parts only)
  • 1 large egg
  • ¾ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Note:  I sliced my zucchini on the julienne blade of my mandolin, but you can just as easily shred them on a box grater or the shredding blade of your food processor. Grate your potato right before mixing to avoid it turning brown.

What you’re gonna do

  • Mix the shredded zucchini with 1 teaspoon of salt and let sit for 15 minutes.
  • After that time put the zucchini in some cheese cloth or a clean dish cloth.
  • Squeeze all the moisture out of the zucchini.
  • Season to taste with more salt and black pepper
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well
  • Form into patties
  • Heat up a medium sauté pan (if you have cast iron use that) with ¼ cup of olive oil
  • When the oil is hot add your fritters and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden brown

Serve your fritters as is, or top them with an egg, poached or sunny side up, or a big dollop of sour cream. We usually have them for dinner, but breakfast works well too.

An aside…

How to poach an egg…

  • Bring a small saucepan of salted water to a simmer
  • Crack your egg into a small ramekin
  • Carefully lower the egg into the simmering water
  • Cook until the white is opaque
Food, Recipes, Summer

Carrot Top Pesto with Roasted Carrots

July 26, 2014

Carrots with the tops still on.

If you can get carrots with the tops still on, you should. They are much sweeter that way. These beauties were part of our CSA pick-up on Friday.

However, don’t store carrots with the tops on; they won’t last as long.  But don’t throw the tops out either.  Instead, try this — mix them up with some basil, walnuts, Parmesan cheese and olive oil for a delicious pesto.  In fact, the pesto goes great on roasted carrots!

here’s what I did…

Roasted Carrots

I started with about a pound of carrots. I gave them a scrub under running water rather than peel them (I didn’t want to lose that gorgeous color.)

Then I coated them with olive oil and roasted them in a 350 degree oven for about 35 – 40 minutes.  (Test for doneness with a sharp knife.) This simple method really brings out their sweetness.

Carrot Top Pesto

 You’ll need…

  • 2 cups of carrot tops
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • ¼ cup toasted walnuts (put in a dry skillet over low heat for about 5 minutes until you can smell them)
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • about ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Here’s what you do…

  1. Put all of the ingredients, except the olive oil, into a food processor or blender
  2. Pulse until well incorporated
  3. Turn the blender on and slowly pour in the olive oil until you get to the consistency you want.

Pour over your roasted carrots and enjoy!

Roasted carrots topped with pesto.

Food, Recipes, Summer

Ratatouille

July 21, 2014

Ratatouille
If you can get over the heat and humidity that usually accompanies this time of year, you have to admit that summer is a great season  for food. When you get eggplants, peppers, summer squashes, onions and tomatoes all in season at the same time, life is good. What do you do with all these gorgeous veggies? Make ratatouille of course. (Swap out the eggplant and squash for a cucumber or two and you have gazpacho, but that’s another post).

This is really easy to make, all of the veggies stand out and the splash of vinegar at the end adds a wonderful brightness. You can serve this a main course or next to a piece of grilled fish or chicken.

This recipe will serve about six people. And keep in mind that what follows is a guideline. Adjust accordingly for your own preferences.

Bowl of ingredients.What you will need

  • 1 medium eggplant sliced lengthwise
  • 2 zucchini, yellow squash or combination sliced lenthwise
  • 2 large bell peppers any color cut in half and remove the seeds
  • 1 large red onion or sweet onion cut in thick slices
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes quartered
  • 1-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or to taste
  • salt to taste

How to make it

Coat the vegetables, except the tomatoes,  with olive oil and grill until tender. We did this on a charcoal grill, but a stovetop grill would work as well.

When the veggies are tender roughly chop them and mix them together in a bowl with the tomatoes.

Add the vinegar and salt to taste and you are done.