Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas cookies!

A new friend posted this link on her Facebook page, and I can't wait to try it!

We've got a bunch of different cracker/cookie style products that don't contain high fructose corn syrup and other stuff - and a lot of Ghiridelli chocolate.  Sounds like an easy, tasty baking project!

Will post pictures if we do it!
Happy holidays!  (And thanks to Meg for posting this!)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Almost Christmas!

Still no snow, nor any chilly temps, so our ice rink is still a wading pool.  But there is caroling at the store on Saturday, starting at 5:30pm, so join us for a little holiday spirit!

First, I thought I'd re-post a piece from a lovely new book from Leda Meredith, the Locavore's Handbook.  She concisely identifies an issue that I have discussed with lots of folks: how to adapt how we've learned to cook with the reality of what's seasonal and available.  In what Meredith calls it the "reverse approach to recipes", she suggests that instead of identifying recipes and then schlepping out to purchase everything needed for that recipe, check out what looks good that day, and then plan a meal around it.  Ideally, that would mean you'd be shopping every day or every other day, looking for what's freshest.  Here it means that this is the time of year to cook with lots of onions and garlic, using apples and kale and Brussel's Sprouts and squash and potatoes.
I've always loved my German uncle's potato pancakes.  This recipe comes to us from the Locavore's Kitchen, by Marilou Susko, and seems wildly appropriate for a blustery December day in the Northeast.  Everything listed here is available right now at our store.

Laura's Potato Pancakes
(Makes about 14 pancakes)

9 large russet potatoes, washed and peeled
2 carrots, grated
2 medium onions, grated
3/4 cups matzo meal or cracker crumbs
2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Dash of nutmeg
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
Vegetable oil for frying
Applesauce, to accompany
Sour cream, or creme fraiche, to accompany
Chopped chives, for garnish

Place the peeled potatoes in a large bowl of cold water to slow discoloration.  Coarsely grate, using a box grater.  Drain well into a colander, squeezing to eliminate excess liquid.

In a large bowl, cobine the poatoes with the grated carrots and onions, matzo meal, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Add the eggs and mix well.

Pour enough oil into a large heavy frying pan to reach 1/4 inch up the side.  Heat over medium heat.  When a shred of potato dropped into the oil sizzles and browns quickly, the oil is ready.  Place about a 1/4 cup of the mixture into the hot oil and flatten slightly with a spatula.  Fry until golden brown on the edges, then turn to the other side and fry until golden brown and crispy.  Drain on paper towels.  Serve immediately or keep warm in a 200 degree oven, arranged in a single layer on a paper towel lined baking sheet.

Serve with homemade applesauce and sour cream or creme fraiche and garnish with chopped chives, if desired.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Loving winter...

I love winter, even though it takes me quite a while to adjust to the cold temperatures.  And while it makes cooking whole foods a bit more challenging, there are a lot of hardy vegetables and wild foods, as well as dried and frozen meats that make winter a delicious time of year.

I thought this would be a lovely place to share some of the recipes I've come across, especially the ones that allow us to highlight some of our locally produced meats and vegetables.  This week, I have a lovely soup to pass on from the Locavore's Kitchen by Marilou K. Suszko.  Published this year, it is a fantastic guide to seasonal eating.

If you are interested in a purely vegetarian dish, squash is delicious and incredibly easy.  Split a squash in two, lightly oil a baking sheet and bake each half cut side down at 350 for about 40 minutes.  Allow it to cool a bit, then scrape out the insides into a serving bowl.  I usually toss it lightly with a few spices and rice vinegar.  Easy and tasty!

Farmhouse Chowder
(makes 6 servings)

3 slices thick sliced bacon
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 cups cubed potatoes, about 1/2 inch cubes
4 cups chicken stock
2 and a half cups chopped cooked chicken (skin removed)
2 cups corn kernels
1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
1 to 1 and a half cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (or 1 teaspoon dried)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the chopped bacon (we should have fresh slab bacon in from Morning Fog this week!) in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp.  Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a towel.  Set aside.

Drain off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat.  Return to the heat and add the onion and the pepper, sauteing until soft and translucent, about 6 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute for another minute or so.  Add the potatoes and the chicken stock.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the potatoes are soft and break apart easily with a fork, about 20 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium-low and add the chicken, corn and thyme.  (We have lots of Heather Ridge Farm chickens in our freezer, too.)  Return to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.  Slowly add the cream and heat through without boiling.  Stire in the parsley and reserved bacon.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Let stand, or "cure" for an hour.  Reheat gently, if necessary, and serve.