Moroccan Vegetable Stew

moroccan vegetable stewThis is a perfect fall stew, filled with vegetables from the late summer garden and richly spiced with cinnamon, cayenne and turmeric.  It’s based off a recipe from Moosewood Restaurant, so I can’t take credit for the brilliant idea, but when I made it for the cooking demo at the Redwood Valley Farmers Market this past Sunday, I realized I’d made so many small changes to it so it would fit what we have locally available that I should probably write up a fresh version so I don’t have to explain it to anyone else.  Because it’s so good! You must make it. If you want a simple, cheap, delicious dinner using a bunch of stuff you probably have around anyway, this is it.

The original recipe is from Moosewood Restaurant Favorites, which is a fantastic cookbook and worth every penny.

MOROCCAN VEGETABLE STEW

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 c. olive oil
  • 3 c. diced onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. (or less) cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 4 c. peeled, cubed winter squash – 1″ cubes (this is about 1 average sized butternut squash or 2 average sized buttercup squash)
  • 2 c. water or vegetable stock
  • 3 c. diced heirloom tomatoes
  • 3 c. diced eggplant
  • 1 c. diced bell pepper (any color)
  • 2 c. diced summer squash (any color)
  • 1 15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 c. raisins
  • 1/2 c. diced tart apples
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • lemon wedges, optional, for serving

In a large pot, heat the olive oil on medium low heat. Add the onions and salt and cook, covered, for five minutes.  Add the garlic and spices and sauté, covered, for another three minutes.  Add the winter squash and sauté for a couple more minutes, then pour in the water.  Add the tomatoes and eggplant, cover and let everything simmer for ten minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.  Add the peppers, summer squash, chickpeas, raisins and apples, cover, and simmer for another fifteen minutes, or until the winter squash and eggplant are tender.  Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.  Garnish with lemon wedges.

Feel free to change around the fruit based on what you have available.  This stew would be great with dried apricots instead of raisins and I’d love to try it with chopped fresh pears instead of the apples.

Heirloom Tomato Bloody Marys

It’s peak tomato season, so at the farmers market I’ve been rattling off all the tomato projects I know in a very thinly veiled attempt to convince people to buy huge amounts of tomatoes from me.  The usual tomato projects that I tell people about are making canned sauce, dehydrating heirlooms in the oven (they’re so good, and it’s so easy!), freezing bags of sungold tomatoes to make tomato bisque during the winter, canning tomato jam, ketchup, and bbq sauce…  I mistakenly omitted one of the best projects, though: the Bloody Mary.  Williams-Sonoma contacted me and asked if I’d share my recipe here as part of their focus on juicing this month.  Since Bloody Marys are delicious and we’re drowning in tomatoes, it seemed like a perfect idea.  (Especially since a bunch of the farmers from the Redwood Valley Farmers Market had been meeting up after the market for Bloody Marys for a good part of the summer, and every time we’re drinking them I keep saying I need to write up our recipe to share with everyone). bloody maryThese are bloody marys for right now.  While it’s true that you can cook tomato juice and can bloody mary mix for later (which I’m going to do), the base for this cocktail is just fresh tomato juice, bright and sweet. I used my champion juicer to juice a couple slightly overripe tomatoes that we had leftover from the market today, but feel free to use a blender if you don’t own a juicer.

The ingredients for this cocktail were almost all right out in the garden.  Jason picked some fresh dill to add to the bloody mary base, along with horseradish and green olives.  I raided the pantry for some pickled okra and dilly beans that I’d canned a few weeks ago for garnishes, though any sort of crunchy pickled vegetable is at home in a bloody mary.  The one thing I noticed is that you have to be careful not to over spice these since the fresh juice from heirloom tomatoes tastes much more delicate than regular cooked bloody mary mix.   Our first round was a little heavy on the horseradish and I thought it overwhelmed the flavor of the tomatoes, so naturally we had to do some more recipe testing and get it figured out.  Naturally. (Because cocktails).bloody mary & okraHEIRLOOM TOMATO BLOODY MARYS

The perfect cocktail to celebrate tomato season, and the perfect cocktail to relax after a long day working at the farmers market.

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Makes: 2 cocktails

Ingredients:

  • Bloody Mary Mix
  • 4 oz. vodka
  • Garnishes: pickled okra, dilly beans, lemon wedges and green olives

Fill two glasses with ice. Add 2 ounces of vodka (or less, of course) to each glass. Top of bloody mary mix. Stir. Garnish with a lemon wedge and pickled vegetables.

BLOODY MARY MIX

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. fresh heirloom tomato juice
  • juice from a wedge of lemon
  • 2 tbs. fresh dill, roughly chopped
  • a dash of worcestershire sauce
  • Tabasco sauce or cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 3 green olives and 1 tbs. olive juice
  • 1 tsp. prepared horseradish (or if you have fresh, substitute 1/2 tsp. fresh grated horseradish)
  • 1/2 tsp. celery salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and puree. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Individual varieties of tomatoes will taste very different from one another and may taste good with more horseradish, a little extra heat, some extra lemon, etc.

Pear Almond Tart

So, I canned a bunch of pears back in September.  (Recipe here).  Now that it’s February it’s really sinking in how delicious they are.canned pearsOut of all my canning projects from 2013, they’re one of my favorites.  Before they were ever in jars, these pears were some of the best I’ve ever tasted. Ever!  They were grown right in Redwood Valley by a lovely couple that I met at the farmers market a few years ago.  (They’re basically the embodiment of the kind of fruit I want to be preserving all the time). A lot of the time we just eat them out of the jar, but I needed to take a dessert to a friend’s house yesterday and whipped together this tart with some of them.  An almond crust combined with sliced canned pears and a rich vanilla custard (with eggs from our chickens!) made for a really lovely tart that tastes delicate and luxurious at the same time. pear almond tartThis recipe is a combination of a couple recipes: the crust is an adaptation from Deborah Madison’s nut crust in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, p. 695 and the filling is based off of this pear tart recipe from Williams Sonoma. 

PEAR ALMOND TART

Cook Time: 1 hr.

Ingredients:

For the Crust:

  • 1/2 c. slivered almonds, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 c. flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 tbs. sugar
  • 5 tbs. butter
  • 2 tbs. water

For the Filling:

  • approximately 6 canned pear halves
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream
  • 3 tbs. flour
  • 2 tbs. butter, melted

Combine the almonds, flour, salt, and sugar in a mixing bowl.  Cut in the butter with a fork. Add 2 tbs. of water and use your hands to form the dough into a ball.   Press the dough into a 9″ tart pan.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Put the crust into the freezer for 15 minutes to firm up, and then bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

While the crust is baking, prepare the filling:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the eggs until they’re frothy.  Add in the sugar,  lemon zest, vanilla, heavy cream, flour and butter.  Mix to combine everything thoroughly.  Slice the pear halves into 1/4″ thick slices.  (Depending on the size of your pears, you may need slightly more or less to cover the tart shell with a layer of pears.)

After the crust has cooked for ten minutes, take it out of the oven.  Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Arrange the pear slices to make an even layer covering the crust.  Pour the custard mixture over the top of the pears.  Put the tart in the back in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, until the filling is set and golden brown.

Note:  I served this tart after it had fully cooled. I’m not sure how it would be still hot;  I think the custard sets a bit while it’s cooling.

 

French Bread with Quinoa, Seeds and Rosemary

We’re finally getting a glimpse of the winter I’ve been dreaming of for months and months.snow stormUp until now, it’s been warm and sunny outside, making my summer farming plans started seeming more and more farfetched.  Now that we’ve had a bunch of rain and snow, though, I’m starting to relax a little bit.  I’m so happy to have a proper winter Saturday, indoors with a fire going in the woodstove and a loaf of bread in the oven. _MG_4129I’ve been working to get better at baking, and I think this recipe is starting to get pretty good.  I like a loaf of bread with lots of seeds and good things in it. I want it to taste savory, without a bunch of sugar or honey in it.  Something that I can toast and spread with butter and maybe avocado.  quinoa breadI still have a huge amount of learning to do about baking, so if someone with more experience than me happens to be reading this and has any suggestions for improving it, please feel free to chime in.

FRENCH BREAD WITH QUINOA, SEEDS AND ROSEMARY

Makes: 2 baguettes or 1 larger loaf

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c. lukewarm water
  • 1 packet of yeast (2 1/2 tsp.)
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 3 c. bread flour*
  • 2 tbs. flax seeds
  • 1 tbs. chia seeds
  • 1 tbs. poppy seeds
  • 2 tbs. pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 c. cooked quinoa, cooled
  • 2 tbs. fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp. sea salt

Put the water in a small bowl and sprinkle it with the yeast and the sugar.   Let it sit for about 5 minutes, until small bubbles start forming on the surface.  Put the mixture into a bigger mixing bowl with 1 c. of flour and mix together thoroughly.  Add the flax seeds, chia seeds, poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, rosemary and salt, along with 2 more cups of flour.  Using a wooden spoon, stir all the ingredients together as much as you can, then turn it out onto a floured surface and knead all the ingredients together.  Knead for 8-10 minutes to make a smooth, elastic dough.  If it’s too wet and sticky, add a little bit of flour.  If it’s too dry, add a little bit of water.  Shape the dough into a ball and place in a greased mixing bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise until doubled in size.

Once the dough has risen, punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.  Roll it out into a rectangle.  Starting with the long side of the rectangle, roll it up into a loaf shape.  Transfer to a cookie sheet and let it rise again for 30-40 minutes, covered with a kitchen towel, until it doubles in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Slash the top of the loaf with a very sharp knife and then put it in the oven to bake for 25 minutes until it’s nicely golden brown.

*I was out of whole wheat flour when I made this, so I didn’t bother using it, but a mixture of white and whole wheat flour would be great if you feel like doing it.

Baked Kale & Artichoke Dip

This dip is inspired by the spinach-artichoke dip that I think many people have probably had at some restaurant or another.   It’s not anything new or trendy but let’s pretend it is since I’m using kale instead of spinach. I was thinking about making it the other day and realized I didn’t see any recipes for it on the internet that looked very good.  Most involved a lot of mayonnaise.  Sorry, but no.  It is weird that the idea of baking a mayonaissey dip sounds disgusting to me? Cheese is for baking, not mayonaisse.  Melty cheese = amazing.  Melty mayo = um…. dino kale This dip would be perfectly at home on a holiday appetizer table and is best paired a sparkly cocktail or three.  It’s also great for convincing people who hate kale that they actually love kale (what vegetable isn’t delicious drowned in cheese?)kale and artichoke dipBAKED KALE AND ARTICHOKE DIP

Cook Time: 45 min.

Makes: a large batch, enough for 5-10 people depending on portion size

Ingredients:

  • 1 14 oz. can artichokes, roughly chopped
  • 1 c. chopped cooked kale leaves
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 16 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 + 1/4 c. shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 1/2 c. shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 c. sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • a pinch of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  If you have a stand mixer, combine all the ingredients except 1/4 c. of the monterey jack cheese in the bowl and mix for a minute or two to combine everything.  You can do it by hand, too, but you really need to make sure that the cream cheese is fully softened.  Transfer the dip to a small oven-safe dish, sprinkle with the rest of the cheese, and bake for 30 minutes.  Turn the oven to broil for the last 3-4 minutes to get the cheese on top properly brown and bubbly.  (Keep a close eye at this point…. things go from bubbly to black and burned really quickly).

Serve hot, with tortilla chips, pita chips or raw vegetables.

Cranberry Quince Preserves That Can Go With Turkey But Also Just Toast

So, I was gonna post this last week but my internet connection hasn’t been cooperating.  I am very thankful that it is working again.  I am also thankful to be sitting on couch being generally lazy, watching the Macy’s Parade and cuddling with my dogs while pumpkin pie bakes in the oven.   I’m so, so thankful that my husband and I can stay at home all day and not do any work and eat lots of turkey and watch football.  It’s basically the best thing ever.   cranberry preservesThis cranberry-quince-orange preserve is going to be on our table in a few hours.   I actually love cranberries and think they shouldn’t just be for the holiday season, so I actually like it as an every day winter preserve on whole grain toast.   It would be a fantastic part of a holiday cheese plate with some chevre and prosciutto.quinceCRANBERRY QUINCE PRESERVES

This recipe is inspired and adapted from the Hungry Tigress’ recipe for Holiday Preserves.  I actually had planned to follow her recipe exactly, but then I realized that I didn’t have any candied ginger but that I did have some nice looking navel oranges.

Cook Time: 2 hrs, but barely any of it is active cooking time

Makes: 9 half pint jars

Ingredients:

  • 5 c. sugar
  • 5 c. water
  • 1 1/2 lbs. quince, cored and diced*
  • 2 1/4 lbs. fresh cranberries (3 of the 12 oz. bags that are commonly sold in grocery stores. I wish we had a local source for cranberries, but we really just don’t.)
  • 2 c. fresh orange juice
  • 1 tbs. orange zest

In a large, nonreactive pot, combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil.  Add the diced quince and reduce the heat to medium.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for about an hour, until the quince have turned from a pale yellow to a rosy color and the sugar water has thickened into more of a syrup.

Prepare boiling water canner, jars and lids while the quince simmers in the sugar water.

Add the cranberries, orange juice and zest and cook on high, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.  Cook until the preserves set, which will happen fairly quickly.  (Click here for more info if you don’t know what I’m talking about).

Ladle the hot jam into the prepared jars leaving 1/4″ headspace.  Process for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude as needed.

*I left the skins on my quinces, but most recipes call to peel them. They really don’t bother me, though.cranberry preserves spoon

Happy Thanksgiving!

Queensland Blue Pumpkin Butter

I’m not always a fan of using the freezer for food preservation.  Maybe one day, if I have a chest freezer and some more space, but for now there’s just not enough room to really make much use of it.  Right now I use it for meat and fish, frozen bags of cooked greens, a few jars of pie filling and this pumpkin butter.

Pumpkin butter is epic.

Pumpkin butter deserves as much space in the freezer as it needs.  It is totally worth it.  If you’ve made pumpkin butter before, I’m probably preaching to the choir, but if you haven’t ….  you need to go get a pumpkin.  It’s like pumpkin pie in a jar.  I usually use it instead of plain pumpkin puree to make pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, and pumpkin lattes that are about a million times better than anything from Starbucks. (Did you know that most “pumpkin spice lattes” are just lattes with nutmeg and cinnamon? There’s really no pumpkin involved in most of them.  Try something like this instead.)queensland blue pumpkinMaking this made me really think about how ridiculous it is to measure out  specific amounts of ingredients for recipes since no two vegetables taste exactly the same.  With the wide range of varieties available from seed catalogues and at farmers markets, it makes so much more sense to learn the general method for a recipe, taste it as you go and adjust accordingly.   Last fall, I made pumpkin butter with sugar pie pumpkins and it took about four times as long to reduce down to the correct thickness and had a stringy, mushy texture that needed a lot of pureeing and reducing.   Not only did this year’s batch cook much faster since the flesh of this variety is very firm and dry, but the pumpkins also had so much flavor on their own that I really didn’t need to do much of anything to get the rich, luscious pumpkin taste that the finished product should have.

My favorite winter squash varieties have very firm, dry flesh that is dark yellow or orange, very flavorful and great for both savory and sweet recipes.  Buttercup, kabocha, jarradhale, and queensland blue are my current standbys, but if you look at winter squash section of the Baker Creek Seed catalogue, you’ll see there are about another ninety varieties and by no means have I tried them all. pumpkin butterHere’s the deal:  this is an easy recipe because it’s just going in the freezer.  You might find some pumpkin butter recipes in older cookbooks that say it’s safe for water bath canning, but it’s a lies.  I guess the USDA used to say it was okay but changed their minds.  The current guidelines say that pumpkin butter isn’t safe for water bath canning OR pressure canning.   (Did you really catch that if you’re skimming this?)

PUMPKIN BUTTER IS NEVER SAFE FOR CANNING. NOT IN A WATER BATH AND NOT IN A PRESSURE CANNER EITHER.

As much as I love to question authority, I’m not a scientist so I’m just going to follow the rules.  Marisa from Food In Jars has a thorough explanation over on her website here.  If you don’t have a freezer and are desperate for something that can go in a jar, SB Canning has a recipe for faux pumpkin butter that’s safe for water bath canning.

Step 1: Roast a pumpkin

To do this, poke a couple holes in it with a knife or a toothpick.  Put it on a cookie sheet. Put it in the oven at 350 degrees.  (You’ll know it’s cooked when a knife slides into the flesh easily – OR- if you press on the skin with your finger and it feels soft and gives to pressure – OR – you see little bubbles of caramelized sugar coming out of those holes you poked earlier.  Or all of those things. Maybe that’s obvious, but at my first kitchen job, it took me about three months to get the hang of properly baking potatoes.  Just so they were cooked through, like a normal baked potato, and not raw in the middle. Don’t make fun of me, it’s true.)

Step 2:

Wait for the pumpkin to cool off.  Then cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and set them aside for other projects.  The cooked flesh should come apart from the skin pretty easily at this point.  Put the flesh into a large, nonreactive pot and discard the skin.

Step 3:

Add the seasonings, puree, and cook on low heat until the mixture has thickened.  This variety of pumpkin is going to make a puree that’s already quite thick, so it won’t take all that long, about 45 minutes. Since this flesh is so dry, I found that it worked well to use a cup or two of apple juice as part of the sweetener.  It enhances the flavor and adds enough liquid to make it possible to puree everything with an immersion blender.

Ingredients to add:

  • apple or pear juice
  • brown sugar, honey or molasses
  • white sugar to taste
  • cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, fresh, powdered or candied ginger, cardamom, whatever you want really…

I added apple juice, molasses, white sugar and some cinnamon and cooked the puree for another hour on very low heat, stirring it more often as it got really thick.   It ended up tasting perfect, just like eating pumpkin pie.  If you’re unsure about the seasonings, just add a little at a time and keep tasting it.  I added more white sugar than I originally thought I’d need, but if you just keep adding a little and tasting it eventually the flavors will lock in just right and really sing.  At this point, you should step away and stop messing with it or the everything can get muddled and weird.

Step 4:

Transfer the pumpkin butter to tupperware or jars and store in the freezer. Remember to leave about 3/4″ headspace on your jars and not to screw the lids down too tight or they’ll crack as they freeze solid.  pumpkin pieDON’T FORGET: Now that you have pumpkin butter made, you can whip up a pumpkin pie in about three minutes. The instructions are in this post from last year.