Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays! I hope that all of you are happy and warm, celebrating whatever holiday you like in whatever way makes you happy, even if it’s just a big party to keep December from getting too dark and cold.

Black Dog Farm Christmas Dinner Menu

Baked Crab Dip

__________

Roast Ham with peach jam & mustard glaze

Scalloped Rainbow Potatoes

Baby lettuces with blue cheese and walnuts

_________

Pumpkin Pie

Cookies & Candy

Peanut Brittle

Chocolate Jam Thumbprints

Almond-Scented Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

Pecan Toffee

UPDATE 12/26:

The scalloped potatoes were so epic and delicious yesterday that I had to come back here and share the recipe.  When I was making them, I was thinking to myself, “this much heavy cream? should i really do this? and cheese and butter too? um…. gross” but then when I ate a bite of that brown, bubbly potato masterpiece…. the stars aligned and I had a revelation.  The clouds parted, and  Paula Deen came and spoke to me and told me to spread the gospel of saturated fats.

Make this right now, before New Year’s Resolutions, because it is definitely not low fat or anything along those lines.  The potatoes will not cleanse out your system and you will not feel recharged.

If you have a bunch of friends and family with you, though, maybe for a really special occasion, you’re guaranteed to have a table full of grinning, happy people reaching for more potatoes.

The Best Scalloped Potatoes In The Whole Entire Universe

Serves: 10

Cook Time: 2 hrs., add 1/2 an hour if you’re drinking wine with friends in the kitchen while you cook

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs. of assorted potatoes: russets, red-skinned, yukon gold, etc.
  • 4 large shallots
  • 1 red onion
  • 3 tbs. butter
  • optional: 1 slice of bacon
  • 4 big sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig of fresh sage
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary
  • 2 pints of heavy whipping cream
  • 2 c. shaved parmesan cheese
  • 4 oz. swiss cheese, grated or cut into very thin slices
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Slice the potatoes into very thin rounds.  Cut the shallots and the red onion in half, then cut each half into very thin slices. Mince the rosemary and sage leaves.

Heat 2 tbs. butter in a saute pan on medium heat, and add in the shallots, onion, rosemary, sage, and nutmeg.*  Saute the onions and shallots for about 10 minutes, or until they’re nicely softened and starting to caramelize.  Season the onion mixture with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Grease a casserole dish with the remaining butter.  Make one layer of potato slices, slightly overlapping each other.  On top of this first layer, sprinkle some sea salt, black pepper, swiss cheese, fresh thyme leaves (removed from the stems), and shaved parmesan.  Spread about 1/3 of the onion mixture over the top of the potatoes.  Continue this process, alternating the layer of potato slices with the herbs, cheese, onions, salt and pepper, to make two more layers of potatoes.  Make sure that the very top of the casserole has a layer of the herbs and cheese.  Pour the heavy cream over the top of the casserole.  Wrap the dish in tin foil and put it in the oven for about 1 hours and 15 minutes.  After about 50 minutes, lift the foil and check the casserole: once the cream is mostly absorbed, remove the foil and let it cook for another 20-30 minutes, or until it’s bubbly and golden brown on top.

Note:  My cooking times are vague because, well, my oven is a piece of junk and I’m bad at checking a clock.  The casserole is done when it’s bubbly, you’ll know when you look at it.

*At this point, if you really want to have a heart attack, you could add in some chopped up raw bacon. You don’t necessarily have to, though.

Instead of a picture of the finished scalloped potatoes, here’s a picture of our friend’s dog looking all sweet by the fire, because we ate the casserole long before I could think about photographing it.

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Curried Cauliflower Pie

I’m kind of obsessed with this pie right now- I’ve actually made four this week for various cooking things I’ve been doing.

Right away, totally off-topic: I think we have a wasp nest in the roof, and there are seriously wasps swarming around me right now.

I have nothing for you wasps. No food here. Just a computer and a person. Go mess with the dogs or something. You guys are assholes.

Trying to concentrate back on the cauliflower pie:

This recipe is an adaptation of Mollie Katzen’s Cauliflower Pie in a Potato Crust from The Moosewood Cookbook.  I’ve increased the recipe to make a larger batch and added a bunch of curry spices, which I personally think is brilliant. I know cheddar cheese and curry might seem like a questionable combination, but it’s really unique and delicious.  My inspiration was actually the Indian Pizza from Zante’s Pizza that I used to order when I lived in San Francisco, a super-addictive take-out meal that I would be happy eating every single day. (Picture pizza crust topped with a mixed vegetable curry and tons of cheese and cilantro, baked until bubbly and golden brown.)

This dish is a warm, filling vegetarian entrée, and the leftovers hold up really well in the fridge for a few days.

Curried Cauliflower Pie In A Potato Crust

Serves: 10

Cook Time: about 2 hours, including baking time

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 4 c. grated raw potato
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 c. grated onion
  • olive oil for greasing the pan

For the filling:

  • 6 tbs. butter
  • 2 cauliflowers, broken into small flowerets
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 2 c. chopped onion
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander seed
  • 1/2 tsp. mustard seed
  • 1/2 tsp.  paprika
  • 2 1/2 c. grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 1 c. whole milk
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a large casserole dish with butter (I believe mine was a deep 10″ dish, but the actual shape doesn’t matter all that much. Find a dish that will fit two cauliflowers and a bunch of filling in it). Put the grated potato in a bowl and sprinkle it with the sea salt. Let it sit for ten minutes, and then squeeze out the excess water. Combine the potatoes with the grated onion and beaten egg. Press the potato filling into the dish and work it up the sides to make the crust. Put the potato crust in the oven for 40-45 minutes to lightly brown it. After 30 minutes, brush the crust with a little olive oil.  Remove the crust from the oven and turn the temperature down to 375.

While the crust is cooking, saute the cauliflower for the filling.  In a large saute pan, heat up the butter on medium high heat. Saute the onions, garlic, ginger, salt and pepper, and dried spices until the onions are slightly translucent and the spices start to smell really good. Add the cauliflower and basil and saute on low heat, covered, for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the cauliflower is mostly cooked through. In a mixing bowl, beat together the eggs and the milk.

Top the crust with half the cheese, then spread the cooked cauliflower over the cheese, and then layer on the other half of the cheese. Pour the egg and milk mixture over the top of everything and top with chopped cilantro and a sprinkle of paprika. Bake for one hour, or until set.

 

By the way, if you happen to be in San Francisco, you should make this pie but also go to Zante’s and try the Indian Pizza. Zante’s is located at 3489 Mission Street in the Mission District of San Francisco.

 


 

 

 

I Love Tomatoes

Here at Black Dog Farm, the tomatoes are officially in. It took forever because the beginning of the season was so cold and rainy, but the time has finally come when I can walk up to the garden with an empty basket and return with a whole assortment of multi-colored beauties.

Which makes me happy, because this is my favorite breakfast:

over-easy egg, warm tortilla, summer salsa

Nothing quite like the taste of ripe tomatoes and a freshly laid egg.

Summer Salsa

I like to make up a batch of this salsa and keep it in a glass quart jar in the fridge.  I’m not sure how long it lasts because I always eat it within a few days, but I would guess five or six days.

Makes: about a quart

Cooking Time: 10 minutes or so

Ingredients:

  • 6 medium to large heirloom tomatoes of assorted colors (these are my favorite varieties: Ananas Noire, Hillbilly, Copia, TigerellaOld German, Pineapple, Brandywine, and Cherokee Purple)
  • about 1/2 pint. of cherry tomatoes, but really just a big handful.  Sungold and Chocolate Cherry are my favorite cherry types, and their orange and dark red-brown colors are quite pleasing to the eye as well)
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1/4 c. of roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • juice from 1/3 of a lime
  • a splash of white vinegar
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste

Toss everything together in a big bowl.  Mash it up with a potato masher to get the juices all flowing together.  Taste it. If it tastes bland, add lime juice and salt. 


P.S. To get really crazy, add a cubed up avocado, a can of rinsed black beans, and a splash of olive oil to make a really nice entree salad. Serve it on a bed of baby greens with blue corn tortilla chips and it will blow your mind!

Garden Fresh: Carrot Soup with Ginger and Coconut

Our summer carrot crop is finally starting to come in, and I’m starting to see lots of nice big carrots at other farmers market booths too. Unique varieties are popping up in gardens all over the country, from the incredibly vibrant cosmic purple carrots from Baker Creek Seed Company to the rainbow carrots from Johnny’s Seeds.

This soup is all about improvisation, with rich coconut milk and fiery hot thai chili peppers and lime juice and garden fresh veggies.

Everyone knows that I’m the Queen of Lazy when it comes to keeping my fridge stocked with anything to cook with.  (I could say that I am eating local and right out of the garden if I wanted to sound like one of the cool kids…)  It’s really also laziness though, and being way too busy to go shopping.  At the end of a long work day, who wants to stop by the store and buy stuff for dinner? Not me.  This ends in a whole lot of improvisation, which I encourage the rest of the universe to participate in. I could have called this Farmers Market Reject Produce Soup, because it’s really just my leftovers from our booth at the market. You could do something similar and make this soup with from a CSA share or your own garden.  Feel free to substitute yellow summer squash for the cauliflower, or even some of the carrots too, it will still be delicious. (To really get crazy, you could actually substitute any winter squash for the carrots and cauliflower. Sweet potatoes, butternut squash, you name it.)

Learn how to improvise when you cook and you can be Queen Lazy with me.  Free yourself from the grocery list, you know you wanna…

Carrot Ginger Soup With Coconut Milk And Lemongrass

Serves: 6 large servings

Cooking Time: 2 1/2 hours

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. roughly chopped carrots, about 3 small bunches
  • 2 small heads of cauliflower, preferably Cheddar*, cored and roughly chopped into large pieces
  • 1 tbs. unrefined peanut oil (or canola oil is a fine substitute)
  • 1 fresh onion, both the bulb and the greens, diced
  • 3″ section of lemongrass, left whole (to remove later)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 2″ section of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander seed
  • 1/2 tsp. red mustard seed
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 small dried thai chili peppers, crushed
  • 6 c. filtered water or vegetable stock
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  • garnish: chopped scallions, basil, mint and cilantro (or whatever you have), a splash of tabasco sauce or hot paprika, and a big squeeze of fresh lime juice
In a large soup pot, heat up the peanut oil on medium-low heat. Add the coriander, mustard seed, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, chili peppers, lemongrass, and onion. Saute on low heat for 4-5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. The spices will become very aromatic as they saute in the oil. If you need to add another teaspoon or two of oil to prevent things from sticking, go right ahead. 
Add the chopped carrots and sections of cauliflower and saute for another 4-5 minutes.  Then pour in the water (or vegetable stock, if you have it on hand), turn up the heat to medium and bring everything to a simmer. Cook on medium heat for about an hour and a half (or longer, if you get distracted and forget about it). Add water or stock to make sure the vegetables stay covered as they cook. 
After the soup has simmered for the hour and half, add in the cilantro and coconut milk. Remove the piece of lemongrass and discard. Puree with a hand mixer, in a blender or a food processor until the soup is completely smooth. Season with sea salt and black pepper to taste. If the soup tastes bland (this part is important, it makes it taste like take-out Thai food) add fresh lime juice, tabasco sauce, and salt, alternating in small batches until it tastes right.
Serve with chopped fresh herbs, hot sauce and limes. This soup is delicious with summer rolls or a small cabbage and peanut salad; it makes a wonderful light meal out of the garden or the farmers market.
*Cheddar is a bright yellow variety of cauliflower that is becoming more popular at farmers markets. The yellow color blends nicely with the carrots, but you could certainly use any variety.
P.S. I know that’s a long ingredient list for supposedly not going shopping before you make the soup.  Really it’s just spices and coconut milk, though. If you do one or two big shoppings a year and pick up a nice variety of dry goods you won’t have to worry about it after that.

Fusilli With Artichokes and Chevre

I’ve been up to my elbows in jam, getting ready for the Taste Of Mendocino event in San Francisco on Monday.   You should come! hell, even if you live in Kansas, it’s not too late! There are going to be so many amazing vineyards there doing wine tasting that the booze alone should make it worthwhile. Plus there will be meat, cheese, eggs, jams, and so much more.

Anyway, yesterday I got home from the kitchen, essentially covered head to toe in sugary goop.  I wanted real food that was totally devoid of anything sweet.  This lovely little dish is easy to throw together if your feet hurt and you’re really hungry, and tangy lemon, olives, artichokes and white wine will make you forget all about any intense sugar experiences that you may have had recently.

Fusilli With Artichokes And Chevre

As with most of my recipes, the point is not to hunt down specific ingredients but to make use of items in the pantry and the garden. Any olives or capers would be great in this recipe. Feel free to toss in some chicken or shrimp if you have some that needs using.  Roasted red peppers would work well too, but it’s not quite far enough into the summer for us to have peppers lying around.

Serves: 4 entree portions

Cooking Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. fresh fusilli pasta
  • 1 tbs. butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 or 2 small spring onions, sliced very thinly (about the size of a shallot or a pearl onion)
  • 1 lb. frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
  • 2 tbs. spring onion tops, sliced thinly
  • 1 large asian mustard leaf, sliced into 1/2″ strips*
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh dill, minced
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 c. white wine
  • 1 quart of chunky tomato sauce**
  • 10 kalamata olives, pitted
  • 1/2 c. herbed chevre, crumbled (or whatever your favorite type of chevre is will be fine)
  • 1/4. c. shaved parmesan cheese
  • sea salt and fresh black pepper, to taste

1. Bring a pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.

2. While the water comes to a boil, cook the sauce in a large saute pan: Heat the butter on medium heat. Add the garlic, onion and artichoke hearts and saute for 4-5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add lemon juice, white wine, dill, onion tops, and asian mustard greens and saute for 2-3 more minutes. Pour in tomato sauce and olives and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the sauce has reached your desired consistency. If it is too thick, add a splash of white wine. If it’s too thin, cook for another 4-5 minutes.

3. Cook fusilli according to package directions. Drain, and return to the pot. Pour the artichoke mixture over the noodles and gently stir everything together. Top with crumbled chevre, parmesan and a few sliced onion tops. (Optional: If you’re feeling motivated, put the pasta in a small casserole dish and bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes to melt the cheese).

*Click here to see the greens that I’m referring to; I know this is a slightly obscure ingredient. Use any quick-cooking greens that you have around, like spinach or young kale leaves.

**We have lots of canned tomato sauce from last summer. If you don’t have it in your pantry, you can substitute any type of chunky tomato sauce that catches your eye in the grocery store.

Kimchi, And A Lot Of Hard Work

The farm has been a whirlwind of activity for the last few weeks. Late May through early June is always characterized by the frantic rush to transition everything from winter to summer. We’ve finally done it, though. Weeds have been wacked. Compost has been hauled from here to there.  Garden beds have been tilled and prepared for planting.  The irrigation system is back up and running. Starts have moved from the greenhouse to the ground. Seeds have been planted. The tomatoes are caged and the peas are trellised.  Flowers are blooming. Fruit trees are growing and ripening. The hens are starting to lay eggs like crazy.In another month, when we harvest all of the garlic, onions, cabbages, lettuce and peas, we’ll have another big round of work. Until then, though, I can breathe easy knowing the bulk of the gardening work is finished. (Now I’m switching to jam! I’m driving to the city this weekend to shop all the big farmers markets for berries and other fruit. I’m on a search for good, sweet organic strawberries and I think I’m going to have to leave town to find the organic part, unfortunately. That’s a story for another day, though.)

Despite the fact that I haven’t been cooking a whole lot, I want to share the one preserving recipe that I’ve been making over and over again. It’s so simple that you can make it even if you’re working back-breaking long hours and don’t even have time to bathe properly.

kimchi with savoy cabbage and garlic scapes

Whatever-Kind-Of-Greens-You-Have Kimchi, an adaptation of Ramp Greens Kimchi from the Hungry Tigress

I got the idea for this from the Tigress, who made a fantastic looking ramp greens kimchi. We don’t have ramp greens here but we do have lots and lots of other kind of greens. I particularly like this kimchi recipe because it’s vegan; a lot of recipes have anchovy paste or fish sauce in them. I don’t have any issue with those products but I’m a tired farm girl and I am not in the mood to drive to town for anchovy paste.

This recipe will work with pretty much any greens you have. I’ve made it with savoy cabbages, kale, garlic scapes, and rainbow chard.  I would avoid traditional types of cabbage because the leaves are so thick, but napa cabbage, collard greens, boy choy and mustard greens would all be fine.

Equipment needed: 2 quart jars

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. greens such as savoy cabbage or rainbow chard
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 dried cayenne peppers, crushed
  • 1 tbs. paprika
  • 1 tbs. fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 tbs. garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. unrefined peanut oil (or toasted sesame oil)

1. Sterilize two quart jars.

2. Wash greens and roughly chop into 1/2″ strips. 

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the greens. Mix together thoroughly. Add the greens to the bowl and mix well, making sure to coat everything evenly.

4. Divide the greens between the two jars. Loosely screw on lids and leave unrefrigerated overnight. The next day, give each jar a good shake. Put them into the fridge for a week to lightly ferment the greens. Each day or so, take the jars out and give the jar a shake and stir up the greens a little bit so that the ones on the top of the jar eventually end up at the bottom. The greens will shrink down and if you’ll probably want to combine them into one jar after a 4-5 days.

5. In about a week, the kimchi is ready.  You’ll know because the greens smell slightly sour and you won’t be able to resist digging in any longer.  Eat it in sandwiches, wraps, salads, as a side dish with stir fry or rice, or all on its own.  You will love it, I guarantee.

rainbow chard kimchi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basil-Walnut Pesto

It’s been an aggravating week.  Normally I like to have my head in the clouds, thinking brilliant things like “strawberries are really pretty and taste good” and “i like flowers.” Yup. It is a conscious choice that I made…  if  my brain sounds like something that a second-grader might write as a caption for a picture drawn with crayons, it tends to mean that life is pretty damn good. (What this means about me as a person is something that I will worry about some other day).

Unfortunately this week has been an extravaganza of real-world headaches. It’s almost time to get the gardens planted, I have a pile of bills to sort through, and I need to get into the kitchen and make some spring jams for the farmers market. It’s the kind of week where, when I decide to cook something for the blog, my camera stops working and I almost burn out the motor on the blender.  Insert expletives here.

The solution? Fresh pasta, with a ton of cheese and olive oil.  Nothing like some carbs and a bottle of wine to cheer a girl up.

Basil-Walnut Pesto 

This pasta is also great on days when you’re not totally overwhelmed with life.  It’s actually really delicious pretty much all the time, even cold as leftovers. Pair it with some grilled chicken and an heirloom tomato salad and you’ve got yourself a summer dinner party. The key to this pesto pasta being so amazing is that is uses a ridiculous amount of cheese, with plenty in the pesto sauce but then a huge amount stirred in while the pasta is still hot.

Makes: about 1 1/2 pints (I use half for one meal and freeze the rest- this recipe makes about enough to coat 2 lbs. of fresh pasta).

Cook Time: about 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. fresh basil
  • 1 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 c. filted water
  • 1/2 c. walnuts (or pine-nuts, for tradition pesto)
  • 8 oz. parmesan cheese, shredded (4 oz. to go in the pesto, 4 oz. to stir into the cooked pasta when it’s hot off the stove)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 lb. fresh spaghetti noodles, for serving (although dry spaghetti is fine too- I just bought fresh spaghetti at the farmers market the other day and I wanted to use it)

1. Wash basil and remove leaves from the stems. Combine basil leaves, olive oil, water, walnuts, 4 oz. parmesan cheese, garlic, and pepper in a food processor and pulse to combine.  Scrape down the sides a few time to make sure everything is adequately blended together.

2. Cook spaghetti in salted water. Drain, and return to the pot while still hot. Pour half the pesto sauce over the noodles. Add in remaining 4 oz. cheese. Gently fold everything together with a spatula to combine.  Add a crack of black pepper and sprinkle of cheese if you want. 

3. Pour a glass of wine, eat noodles, and stop thinking about stressful things.


By the way, if you make this and want to save the other half of the pesto sauce, pour a thin layer of olive oil over the top of it so that it doesn’t turn brown. It will keep in the fridge for several days or in the freezer for several months. It might last longer than that, but I love pesto so it doesn’t really survive that long in our house.