Sunday, September 19, 2010

(Cast-) Iron Man

If I ever write my own cookbook, the above will also be its title. Until then, apologies for not contributing of late. Here are the remainders from the farm's summer selection. Eliese was frustrated at the thought of dinner so I came up with (and made) this:

1 1/2 zucchini, ends trimmed & 1/4" coins
2 frying peppers (ours were red), seeded and cut into strips (I prefer to halve each strip lengthwise as well)
4 HOT Italian Sausages, casing removed, pulled into 1" chunks
1/2 yellow onion, cut in strips
1/2 lb. ditalini or other pasta you have in your cuphoard
Olive Oil

1. On medium heat, cook sausage in cast-iron. Remove when browned, keep that delicious rendered fat for your veggies.
2. Salt a pot of water, bring to boil. Don't add ditalini until you are ready to cook veggies.
3. Add veggies to cast-iron on medium-low heat, salt and pepper generously. If onion carmelizes before peppers and zucchini soften, add olive oil.
4. Drain pasta, toss with veggies, add sausage. Drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil on top.

*I am putting an asterisk on this whole recipe because you should feel free to invent your own cupboard masterpiece. I can say that this one, having been tested, tastes delicious.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Ugliest and Most Awesome Sauce EVER

OK, I don't have a photo to go along with this post 1. because I forgot, and 2. because the sauce is pretty ugly in comparison to its more sexy tomato sauce cousins. But I promise you it is the most DELICIOUS sauce ever: Mark Bittman's version of Bolognese from How to Cook Everything. I had it first when my mom came out and cooked for us, etc. shortly after Goo was born. In the past month I've made it twice - once to go simply over pasta, second as part of a somewhat improvised but turned-out-pretty-great lasagna. In the past I have eaten it over leftover mashed potatoes because I had no pasta. I have eaten the last leftover spoonfuls of sauce by itself.

You need a good amount of time (3 hours +) to do this right, but the majority of the work is basic prep, the rest is cake (mmm, cake).

2 tbsp e.v. olive oil
1 chopped onion
1 chopped carrot
1 chopped celery stalk
1/4 c chopped bacon or pancetta
1 lb ground meat - beef, or a mixture of beef and pork
3/4 c dry white wine or juice from tomatoes (or... I added a splash of red wine in addition to the juice from the tomatoes; it worked)
One 28 or 35 oz can whole plum tomatoes
1 c stock (beef or chicken)
salt and pepper
1 c cream, half and half or milk
Freshly grated Parmesan (optional - honestly, you don't need it)

Olive oil over deep skillet or saucepan (or Dutch oven) over med-low; when hot, add onion, carrot, celery and bacon. Cook for 10 minutes or so until veggies are softened. Add meat, cook stir to break up clumps, about 5 minutes. Add wine/juice, raise heat a little and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes for most of liquid to evaporate. Crush tomatoes (your hands work best) and add, then add stock. Turn heat to low and let simmer for about an hour - make sure to stir a couple times to break up any meat clumps or chunks of tomato. Then add some salt and pepper to taste and cook for at least another hour. When it's done, the sauce should be thick and most of the liquid should be gone. Add cream, cook 15-30 minutes, stir occasionally. Serve with/in desired medium! AMAZING.

Goodbye, Summer

While I must admit I'm enjoying this cool Northeast weather, I am rather sad at the fading of summer and likewise summer produce. And I didn't even can anything this year (although there's hope yet for apple season)! Recently we made two un-recipe meals from some of the last of summer's produce.

Meal One: Breakfast for Dinner - Eggs and Bacon with Hash of Local Red Potatoes, Leeks, and Yellow Squash. (Let's see if I can remember how I made it - but the point is to give you ideas, anyway, 'cause you can just make it up too with what you have.)
Chop and cook several pieces of bacon to brown and render fat; throw in some roughly chopped garlic until fragrant. I probably added a little vegetable oil too, before tossing in chopped squash and leeks and letting them soften and brown. Then, add the diced potatoes with some salt, pepper, and paprika... let it brown a little by leaving it alone for a while, stirring, leaving it alone...; pour in chicken stock mixed with some cream and a few dashes of Tabasco. Cover, and let potatoes soften and simmer off the liquid. I've never been able to get my hashes crisp but this was great even mushy. Eggs and bacon on side - done!

Meal Two: Breaded Fried Local Eggplant with NJ Heirloom Tomatoes and Mozzarella (
Slice eggplant; bread by dipping in flour, then beaten egg, then bread crumbs. Let the eggplant chill in the fridge for about 10 minutes; then fry in maybe 1/2 inch hot vegetable oil for a few minutes each side until golden brown. We put these on top of salad while still hot. I also made a little drizzle sauce with sesame oil, soy sauce, mirin, garlic, and sugar to go over the eggplant and salad. Then we had the tomatoes and mozzarella on the side. Awesome.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


*This recipe comes from Rebecca L.

I had recently roasted a chicken à la Anthony Bourdain, and at his strong suggestion in his, “Les Halles Cookbook”, used the bones to make a homemade dark chicken stock. After roasting the bones along with the trinity of vegetables (onions, carrots, and celery), and simmering (never boiling! That’s a nono, apparently) the lot away for over 8 hours on the stove with fresh herbs, I was a bit attached to this stock. I wanted to use it in a dish that would highlight the deep flavors that I had labored to bring about. And once the weather here in Wyoming started getting downright chilly in the mornings and evenings, it hit me: poutine. A staple of Canadian cuisine, I had first encountered this dish in Montreal. It is a surprisingly simple dish at first sight: fries, gravy, and cheese curds. Now you can go and buy Ore-Ida frozen fries, a can of gravy, and some cheap Kraft shredded cheese, and it would probably taste alright. Hell, how can those three ingredients go wrong together, even if they’re the instant variety? But if you take a little time and effort, you can elevate this recipe from bar food to a downright glorious one-dish meal, worthy of pairing with a great glass of wine. The time and care is really spent on the poutine sauce, which stems from velouté, which should be based on a dark, rich homemade chicken or veal stock.

For the velouté:
1 quart of chicken or veal stock
2 Tb butter
2 Tb flour

-Bring the stock to a boil in a pot.
-Meanwhile, heat the butter over medium-high heat until melted. Add the flour gradually and stir constantly for 2-3 minutes, making a roux.
-The roux shouldn’t get too dark, so slowly pour some of the boiling stock into it, stirring constantly, until you get a consistency you wouldn’t mind pouring back in with the remaining stock. Add back to the remaining stock.
-Simmer for at least 40 minutes, skimming every 10 or so. Then strain well through a mesh lined with cheesecloth (if you’ve got this; I just strained through a fine mesh a few times, and it turned out fine). Add salt and pepper to taste.

You now have your velouté sauce, which only needs to be reduced to at least a half (up to a quarter) of its volume to become poutine sauce. Do this by simmering, not boiling, and stirring every so often. The resulting texture should be velvety.
Get out a bowl and throw a few fresh cheese curds into it. Then layer some home-made French fries on top, followed by more cheese curds, and topped with a generous ladling of poutine sauce.

This dish is fun to get creative with. To the poutine, I added a few shots of a white wine pan reduction I had made for the roast chicken that started this whole thing. This really added another dimension to the already incredible sauce. In Canada, they have menus full of varying types of poutine, some even with foie gras. If there are no fresh cheese curds available, use freshly shredded mozzarella or sharp cheddar. Top with bacon or crumbled sausage. Just have fun. And even though you can’t really go wrong with the basic ratio of parts for this dish, remember, the quality of your ingredients will greatly affect the quality of the finished meal.