Balsamic Roasted Baby Roots

This recipe from Sprouted Kitchen was a huge hit at holiday parties last year and now that fresh carrots are on our minds again, I thought I’d share and recommend. WebMD also recommends this recipe as a lower cholesterol and lower calorie food and recipe.

BALSAMIC ROASTED ROOTS + SPINACH SAUCE // Serves 4

1 lb. Assorted Small Carrots
1 lb. Assorted Small Beets
2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar, divided
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
1/2 tsp. Black Pepper

1 Bunch Fresh Spinach Leaves
1 Large Clove Garlic, minced
2 tsp. Unsalted Butter
1/2 Cup Light Whipping Cream or Whole Milk
1/3 Cup Finely Grated Parmesan Cheese
Squeeze of Fresh Meyer Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425′ and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

Toss the clean and dry root veggies in 2 Tbsp of olive oil and salt and pepper to coat. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp of the balsamic vinegar in and toss again. Place coated root veggies on the baking sheet and roast on the middle rack for 30-45 minutes, depending on size. You want to be able to pierce a butter knife through the largest vegetable on the tray.

Once the vegetables are roasting, steam the spinach for just a minute or two to cook down. Remove from heat to cool, squeeze out any remaining water and chop well.

In a medium saute pan over medium-low heat, drizzle olive oil over the minced garlic and cook for about a minute. Add the butter if desired (I did not and sauce turned out fantastic). Add chopped spinach and cream and stir to coat. Cook until the spinach absorbs most of the cream. Stir in the Parmesan and a few pinches of salt and pepper. Allow the creamy spinach goodness to cool a bit then transfer to a mini or immersion blender. Give it a few pulses to break it down then add it back to the pan and thin with milk/cream if you wish. Squeeze in a bit of fresh lemon juice to taste. Turn off the heat and cover to keep warm.

When the vegetables are ready, remove to cool slightly and drizzle on the remaining balsamic.

Purple Potatoes

While we were digging these puppies out of the ground at Willowsford Farm, I knew they would lead to a delicious adventure in the kitchen and spur a little research on origins and nutrition. Here goes!

The All Blue planted, nurtured, harvested and pictured here is one of several heirloom varieties known for their earthy, starchy, nuttiness and antioxidant/flavonoid-rich, nutritional properties.  A staple in South American kitchens, the purple potato has Peruvian origins and is now cultivated throughout North and South America and Europe.

Like other potatoes, they are great roasted, braised, baked, boiled or made into chips and a great veggie for those savory herbs. I chose to roast them with hand-pressed olive oil, fresh rosemary and a culinary lavender and sea salt mix from Lavender Fields in Milton, Delaware.

After slicing the already-fairly-small potatoes into half inch wedges, I tossed them with the oil and spices and popped them into a 375 degree over for about 45 minutes, flipping them a few times along the way. As is common when cooking with fresh, raw materials, I made more than enough to set a few servings aside to be re-heated on a skillet for another breakfast or dinner. Lots of websites and chefs suggest pairing them with pork, poultry, salad greens and cheeses.

A little more about their nutritional value:

  • Contain B-Complex vitamins, particularly B-6
  • Contain minerals: magnesium, potassium, niacin, iron
  • Contain folic acid and pantothenic acid
  • They are anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial and contain the flavonoid: anthocyanin
For more history and recipe ideas, check out the Purple Potato Page on SpecialtyProduce.com. They’ve got links to recipes far fancier than mine!

Oven-Roasted Spiced Beets

With guidance and inspiration from Chef Mike Isabella‘s new cookbook, Crazy Good Italian: Big Flavors, Small Plates, and freshly harvested beets from the farm, I was able to bring fall into the kitchen in a new way: with dry sauteed spices and herbs and oven-roasted root veggies.

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Remove the greens and scrub clean approximately two pounds of beets. I used golden beets but any variety will do.
  3. In a dry saute pan, toast two flaked cinnamon sticks, two tablespoons of coriander and two tablespoons of peppercorns over medium heat for five minutes. Shake the pan frequently so spices toast rather than burn.
  4. Once toasty, move them onto a 9″ x 13″ baking sheet. Chop up and apple and several slices of ginger root and place them on the baking sheet.
  5. Toss the beets in two tablespoons of olive oil and two teaspoons of salt (and a little lavender if you love it as much as I do) and then add them to the baking sheet. Squeeze half of a lemon over everything, toss the rind on the pan too, and cover it all tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 50-60 minutes (depending on the size of your beets).
  6. After roasting, remove aluminum foil to allow beets to cool before sliding the skin off with a paper towel. Slice the beets, toss with some of the leftover spices and roasted apples, and allow them to cool to room temperature and soak up more flavors.

The dish is a great hearty side item or topping on an arugula salad.  Be sure and take the bulk of the cinnamon sticks and all lemon rind and ginger root remains out of the mix before serving.

BONUS: I put some turnips on the pan with them (and the same preparations) and they were fantastic. They came out with the freshness of bok choy – that made them a great pair with salmon and braising greens – as well as hints of those spicy fall flavors. They only needed 50 minutes of roasting.

Backyard Fall Hangout and the Onion Tart

Last week, a friend of mine visited from FL. Before her arrival, I promised her the crispness of fall and told her to pack a sweater. Of course, when she arrived — it was well over 80 degrees. After a couple hot, summer-like days, we were relieved that we got a taste of fall weather over the weekend. To celebrate the season, and her visit, I hosted friends over to my house for a fall-cookout and fire in the backyard. We had grilled summer squash and eggplant as well as roasted winter squash – a bridge between the two seasons.

I also made an onion tart – from a recipe that I’ve been eyeing for the last three weeks. It was amazing! Perfect as an appetizer or side dish for your festivities this October.

Onion Tart (from TasteFood)

What You Need
– 1 cup all-purpose flour
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut in 1/4 inch cubes
– 3 tablespoons ice water
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 2 pounds yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 2 tablespoons port wine (I used the red wine open and leftover from earlier in the week)
– 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
– 2 ounces finely grated Gruyère cheese (I used parm, but I think other cheeses would work here- I’m thinking of trying goat cheese next time)
– 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, plus extra for garnish
– 1 egg, slightly beaten

What You Do
1. In a food processor, combine flour, salt, butter, and water. (Note: you can also do this with a folk)
2. Pulse until it resembles coarse meal, with some pieces of the butter apparent, adding another tablespoon of water if necessary.
3. Form into a ball and flatten.
4. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour.
5. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a deep skillet or pot.
6. Add onions and salt. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown, soft and squidgy, about 30 minutes.
7. Add port wine and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.
8. Remove onions from heat and stir in the pepper. Cool slightly.
9. While the onions are cooling, roll out the dough to fit in the bottom and up the side of a 10-inch round tart tin.
10. Sprinkle half of the cheese over the bottom of the tart.
11. Spoon onions into the shell and spread evenly.
12. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon thyme over the onions.
13. Brush the exposed crust rim with the egg wash.
14. Sprinkle the tart and crust with the remaining cheese.
15. Bake in a preheated 375 F. oven until the crust is firm and golden and the onions have turned a rich golden brown, without blackening, about 30 minutes.
16. Remove and cool slightly. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature garnished with thyme sprigs.

Here is the tart before it went into the oven!

We ate it so quickly there are no “after” shots.

Time for Fall Squash: Delicata

Baked/Roasted Delicata Squash

‘Tis the season for hearty veggies! For the past few weeks, we’ve been harvesting and curing acorn, butternut and delicata squash. Carrying heavy baskets and bins of them (and their neighboring pumpkins and sweet potatoes) is a little tougher than say… lettuce… but oh-so-worth-it on a lazy Sunday in the kitchen. The delicata especially.

In an effort to find an interesting recipe to suggest to CSA members and folks at the farmers market, I Googled delicata and found out that there is another way to cook it than the butter boat method I use with butternuts: Roast them up like sweet potato fries!

While preheating the oven to 405-425 degrees (depending on the level of crisp you desire), chop off the ends of the squash and cut it in half vertically. Clean out the seeds and gunk with a spoon, then chop those halves up into half-inch thick smiley-face pieces. Toss them by hand in a bowl with olive oil and a little salt then place them on baking sheets in a single layer. They need 15-20 minutes in there and a flip midway. If you’d like more detailed instructions, find them in this great post, “Better Than Butternut,” on Summer Tomato.

This is some seriously awesome squash! I highly recommend looking for it at a farmers market near you!

Sweet Potato Fries

#39: Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.

One of my favorite Food Rules in Michael Pollan’s compilation.

A few years ago, we explored this rule with a pizza-making party and reported the details in Apples to Apples, Pizza to Pollan. Now, we are taking the rule to a new level:

Eat all the sweet potato fries you want as long as you grow the sweet potato yourself. 

The recipe is simple:

Harvest a few sweet potatoes.Wash them. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Slice and chop the potato into fairly equal fry-like pieces. Toss them in a bowl with the following mixture:

1/4 cup of olive oil + 1 tablespoon of sugar + 1 tablespoon of salt + 1 teaspoon of paprika (or chipotle powder or any spice you like)

Then lay them out on a baking sheet with some space in between piece to ensure they get crispy rather than soggy. Bake ’em for 15 minutes, flip ’em, and then bake ’em for another 15 and viola! Deliciousness.

The only question that remains is: How many sweet potato fries do you think could be made from the 12 inch, 7-pounder my parents just harvested?!

Quinoa and Wild Rice Salad with Goat Cheese

I’ve been thinking about and exploring alternatives to grains recently, generally used in gluten-free diets. Quinoa, known as “the gold of the Incas” and the “mother of all grains”,  is actually a seed. It is very easy to prepare and can be used in salads, as a side dish, and many other ways. Here is a wonderful salad that combines quinoa with wild rice. I’ve had trouble in the past using wild rice, and so now I have a rather large stash of it that I would like to start getting rid of. This recipe makes it easy, since the wild rice is a component part rather than the center of the dish.

Quinoa and Wild Rice Salad with Goat Cheese (adapted from About.com)

What You Need

  • 1 cup red quinoa
  • 1/2 cup wild rice
  • 1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 1/2 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
  • 2 scallions, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup dates, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup walnut oil (or olive oil)
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste

What You Do

  1. Bring quinoa to a boil with 2 cups of water. Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes until water is absorbed. The quinoa should be soft and fluffy and a little chewy.
  2. In a separate pot, bring wild rice to a boil with 2 cups of water. Simmer for 35-40 minutes until rice is soft but chewy. Drain any remaining water.
  3. When the quinoa and wild rice have cooled close to room temperature, mix together with the walnuts, dates, goat cheese and scallions.
  4. Whisk together the walnut oil, vinegar and salt. Drizzle over the salad and stir well.

Mom’s Green Beans

I can’t believe this recipe is not up here.  Unless my searching capabilities have disappeared, it seems that I never posted my mom’s wonderful green bean recipe.  Perfect for summer when we are inundated with beans and tomatoes- this dish is just fantastic! The recipe below includes my mom’s notes from when she shared this recipe with me in 2007 when I moved out on my own after college. 

Green Beans with Tomatoes (From My Mom!)

What You Need

– 1/3 cup olive oil
– 1 1/2 pounds of green beans (thin french style beans are the best but any would do)
– 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped (use 4)
– 1 medium-size yellow onion, peeled and chopped  (this is too much onion; no more than 1/2 onion)
– 4 small ripe tomatoes, about 1 pound, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped (Allison note: I like using cherry tomatoes cut in half)
– 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
– 4 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
– 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

What You Do

1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet, add the beans and cook, stirring and tossing constantly, until beans are about half-cooked and become bright green.  (I use my wok)
2. Reduce heat and add garlic and onion.  Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
3. Add tomatoes, parsley, vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper, and continue to cook, tossing occasionally for about another 5 minutes or until sauce is slightly reduced.  Serve immediately, or cool and serve at room temperature.
The recipe makes 4-6 portions.  Note that you can get snazzy with the herbs.  Use what you have from the market or your kitchen garden.  I use fresh oregano and limit the parsley (I’m not a huge parsley fan).  I’ve also thrown in other summer veggies cut into thin, small pieces such as zucchini and summer squash. 

Mac and Cheese Cook-Off

The cover of March Bon Appetit was a claim that they found their favorite mac and cheese recipe. My response was to hold a competition between their “southern charm” mac and cheese and my own. A friend of mine took up the challenge to compete as well.  So, we were left with three mac and cheese recipes to test against one another. Here are the photos:

 

A lot of cheese.  All delicious.  In the end my mac and cheese won. But here is the recipe for what sparked the competition:

“Pimiento” Mac and Cheese (from Bon Appetit)

What You Need

– 1 7- to 8-ounce red bell pepper, seeded, cut into 1-inch pieces
– 2 garlic cloves, halved, divided
– 1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
– 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
– 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
– 3/4 cup drained mild Peppadew peppers in brine, 1 tablespoon brine reserved
-1/4 teaspoon ground ancho chiles
– 1 1/4 cups (packed) coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
– 1 cup (packed) coarsely grated whole-milk mozzarella
– 8 ounces medium shell pasta or gemelli

What You Do

  1. Bring 1/2 cup water, bell pepper, and 11/2 garlic cloves to boil in small saucepan.
  2. Cover; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until pepper is soft, about 15 minutes.
  3. Toast panko in skillet over medium-high heat until golden, stirring often, 5 to 6 minutes.
  4. Transfer to bowl; cool to lukewarm. Rub 1 tablespoon butter into crumbs to coat. Mix in 1/4 cup Parmesan.
  5. Transfer bell pepper mixture to processor.
  6. Add Peppadews and 1 tablespoon brine, 2 tablespoons butter, ground chiles, and 1/2 garlic clove; then add cheddar and 1/4 cup Parmesan.
  7. Blend until sauce is smooth; season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  9. Butter 8-cup baking dish.
  10. Cook pasta in pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite.
  11. Drain; return to pot.
  12. Stir sauce and mozzarella into pasta.
  13. Season with salt and pepper.
  14. Spoon pasta into dish.
  15. Sprinkle with crumb topping.
  16. Bake pasta until topping is crisp and sauce is bubbling, about 25 minutes (15 for individual).
  17. Let stand 10 minutes.

With this recipe, I would recommend trying to find a way to make it a bit creamier. It didn’t live up to the “pimiento” in the title. But, we did have a fun dinner party and lots of left overs.

Thank You Smitten Kitchen: Part 1

You might have noticed by now but I love Smitten Kitchen. My birthday potluck was just another excuse to try some more of her fabulous recipes. Here is one for an onion tart that I love love loved and would definitely recommend it for any events or potluck you attend.

Onion Tart with Mustard and Fennel (from Smitten Kitchen)

What You Need
– 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (a 1/4-ounce package)
– 1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115°F)
– 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 large egg
– 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
– 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
– 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
– 3 pound yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
– 2 tablespoon Dijon mustard (or as much as you need)
– 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

What You Do
1. Stir together yeast and warm water in a small bowl and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. 2. Put 1 1/2 cups flour in a medium bowl, then make a well in center of flour and add yeast mixture to well.
3. Stir together egg, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt with a fork.
4. Add egg mixture to yeast mixture and mix with a wooden spoon or your fingertips, gradually incorporating flour, until a soft dough forms.
5. Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead, working in additional flour (up to 1/4 cup) as necessary, until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
6. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl and turn to coat.
7. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
8. While dough rises, heat remaining 1/3 cup oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then sauté fennel seeds until a shade darker, about 30 seconds.
9. Stir in onions, remaining teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, then reduce heat to medium-low and cover onions directly with a round of parchment paper (I was confused by this, but go with it! It works!).
10. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are very tender and golden brown, 1 to 1 1/4 hours (I’ve never cooked onions this long… but it was amazing!).
11. Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.
12. Knead dough gently on a floured surface with floured hands to deflate.
13. Pat out dough on a large heavy baking sheet into a 15- by 12-inch rectangle, turning up or crimping edge. Note: I found this part of the recipe a bit difficult as my dough did not want to become a rectangle. No matter what the shape, though, the onions steal the show so do not worry.
14. Brush mustard evenly over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border around edge.
15. Spread onions evenly over mustard, then sprinkle evenly with cheese.
16. Bake tart until crust is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes.
17. Cut into 2-inch squares or diamonds and serve warm or at room temperature.

I wish I had a picture to share but it was eaten so quickly, I couldn’t get one!