Archive for January, 2010
Thanks to the recent increase in great local winter produce here, combined with my inability to resist it, I found myself staring at the vegetable bin this weekend and thinking, ” You know, I really need to eat this stuff up before I make another order – or worse, before it goes bad.”
So there I was with a big, beautiful head of purple cabbage, bunches of beets and carrots, and a half-dozen radishes left from the clutch I’d been nibbling at all week. Plus four lovely little boneless Red Wattle pork chops from Heritage Farms Northwest. And a couple of Liberty apples.
Apples, pork and cabbage are naturals together, and a rummage through my recipe collection turned up some traditional German dishes that provided the inspiration for a sweet and sour cabbage with pork that, while delicious, wasn’t terribly photogenic.
That still left me with half a cabbage, and I’ve been craving crunch, so: slaw, with beets and carrots and a fistful of parsley thrown in for vitamins. Talk about color!
My errant sense of smell (and thus taste) is mending, but slowly, so I decided to give all that crunchy color a horseradish kick. The result is absolutely delicious.
Spicy Winter Slaw with Root Vegetables
- 1/2 large head red cabbage (or 1 small head), cored and thinly sliced
- 2 medium carrots, shredded
- 1 medium beet, shredded
- 6 large radishes, shredded (that’s a lot of shredding – thank goodness for my Benriner Japanese mandoline!)
- 2 Tbsp fresh Italian parsley, minced
- 1/4 cup commercial cole slaw dressing (I like Marie’s)
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 Tbsp prepared hot horseradish (or more, or less, to taste)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a large, lidded bowl, combine all the vegetables and parsley. Blend remaining ingredients well, pour over vegetables and toss well (or, as I did, close the bowl and shake it for a while). Taste, correct seasoning. Cover and chill for at least a few hours to let the flavors blend. Makes 6-8 servings, depending on how hungry you are and the size of your vegetables.
Sweet-and-Sour Cabbage with Apples and Pork Chops
- 4 slices bacon
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1-2 tsp sugar
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 1/2 head red cabbage, coarsely sliced
- 2 tart apples, peeled, cored and chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 4 boneless pork chops (do not trim off fat)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350F.
Cut bacon into 1/2 pieces; in a large skillet, fry over medium heat until most of the fat has rendered off. Drain off all but 1 Tbsp of bacon fat; return skillet to heat and add onions. Saute until onions start to go limp, then stir in the sugar, balsamic vinegar and wine. Add cabbage and apples and stir well to coat. Cover skillet and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes, then add water and cook uncovered for another 10-15 minutes, until cabbage begins to soften and a good deal of the liquid has evaporated. Taste to correct the seasoning.
Transfer cabbage mixture to a 9×13 ovenproof baking dish. Add oil to the skillet and turn up the heat. Using oven tongs, hold the pork chops on edge to brown the fat, then lay them down and sear for about 2 minutes per side. Remove from heat.
Lay the pork chops on the bed of cabbage. Place pan in oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until chops reach an internal temperature of 160F (or are just barely pink in the center). Serve immediately.
Serves four, generously (or in my case, one, four times). Goes great with mashed potatoes.
There’s a big pot of lamb stew simmering away on the stove, and without any real effort at all, it turns out to be an almost entirely locally sourced meal. Ingredients include:
- Lamb from the freezer , part of last season’s farm share from Wood Family Farm in Turner.
- Potatoes, carrots, leeks and shallots purchased through the Corvallis Local Foods online market from Matt-Cyn Farm in Albany and Cinco Estrellas Organic Farm in Junction City.
- Flavorings: A fistful of Italian parsley from Elemental Alchemy Farm and a couple of big, spicy/sweet, dried Bulldog/Boldog Hungarian Spice peppers from Matt-Cyn Farm, pulsed to a powder in an old coffee grinder.
- Stock from my freezer (provenance mixed, but including lots of farmers’ market vegetable trimmings, since I always save them in freezer bags till I’m ready to make stock).
- A hefty dose of Pinot Noir from Cubanismo Vineyards in Salem
The only ingredients that don’t come from around here: Olive oil, salt, black peppercorns.
I don’t have a recipe*, and I have no photo; brown food tends not to be very photogenic. But I’m still marveling over the fact that eating locally gets easier every year, even in what used to be thought of as the off season.
My stomach’s growling.
* I don’t use a recipe for stew, I use a method: brown the meat, sweat the onions and garlic, add vegetables, flavorings and liquid to the pot and simmer over low heat for a couple of hours until stew results. Taste, correct the seasoning, eat. It’s hard to go wrong unless you forget it’s on the stove. Which reminds me – time to go check the stew.
… but only because I decided last night to throw together a loaf of my favorite home-made bread, and it needed a couple hours resting time between shaping and baking.
Dinner itself, on the other hand, was a practically fast food, even though it was made from scratch.
Winter squash and roasted garlic were made for each other, and this easy winter soup (a simpler variation on one that was the subject of my very first post on this blog) combines the two in a bowl of delicious, creamy, savory-sweet goodness .
The original recipe calls for whole squash – butternut, acorn or even a small pie pumpkin – peeled, seeded, cut in chunks and roasted until tender and then pureed before combining with stock and roasted garlic. Which I don’t mind doing … but last summer I was smart enough to pick up a few cans of gorgeous, canned organic squash puree from Stahlbush Island Farms. I almost passed it by – after all, it was summer, and the farmers’ market was full of fresh produce; the thought of buying canned seemed almost redundant.
But I’m very glad I stopped at their booth, because the purees are terrific, besides being incredible time-savers. If they return to our market next season, I plan to stock up.
So while the bread dough rested, I put the garlic on to roast and caught up on my blog-reading. When the loaf went in the oven, I put the soup on to simmer. When the bread was done and cooling enough to handle, I threw together a simple salad of beautiful baby greens from Cinco Estrellas Farm in Junction City, topped with a bit of goat cheese from Fraga Farm in Sweet Home, two of the vendors taking part in the wonderful new Corvallis Local Foods online market that’s been supplying probably 75 percent of my food for the last few weeks.
The result: A dinner both simple and sophisticated, and utterly satisfying.
Easy Squash Soup with Roasted Garlic
- 1 head garlic
- Olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups pureed winter squash (butternut, acorn, pumpkin, whatever you prefer)
- 1-2 cups good stock (depending on how thick you like your soup). I used rich homemade stock from my Christmas duck, but chicken or vegetable stock is fine.
- 1 tsp curry powder (optional)
- 1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)
- salt and pepper
- Sour cream, creme fraiche or plain yogurt to garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 350F. Rub the outer papery husk off the garlic without separating the cloves. Using a sharp knife, cut off just the tips of the pointy end to expose the garlic. Place in an ovenproof ramekin or very small baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until garlic is soft and caramelized. Allow to cool.
In a large saucepan, combine squash puree and stock. When the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze the cloves into the soup. Add curry powder and/or cayenne, if you like it. Turn heat to medium low and simmer for 30 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Taste; add salt and pepper if you want it. Ladle into bowls and swirl a spoonful of sour cream, creme fraiche or yogurt onto the surface (unless you prefer a vegan soup).
Makes about a quart of soup; the number of servings depends on whether you’re using it as a starter or the whole meal. Serve with crusty bread, a green salad and a nice glass of wine. Count your blessings.