Posts filed under ‘Purely Vegetables’
It almost seems silly to slide this dish, as delicious as it is, across the table to you right now when it would seem spring has officially come to visit my neck of the woods (as I write, there’s a thunderstorm rolling through!). You see, this rustic savory bread pudding is full of winter delights – parsnips, sweet potato, farm fresh eggs, and leeks – when you might very well be able to snag some fresh greens already from your progressive local farmer who’s been putting his or her hoop house to good use. But let’s face it, crisp tender green things are still few and far between and with the cool rainy days sure to come yet, a hearty helping of this bread pudding will do you a world of good.
When you sit and contemplate the ingredients in this recipe, it’s hard to think of a dish that would provide a more balanced meal. I say this to possibly justify the fact that I ate the entire casserole dish of it myself over the course of last week; it was such a wonderful microwaved lunch! In any case, it has loads of protein from the eggs, lots and lots of vitamins from the vegetables (including much needed vitamin C with the wave of sniffles going around), and ample carbs to rev you up. And, if you can be a real optimist, there’s a good bit calcium from the heavy cream.
Individual ingredients and their notable merits aside, it’s the entirety of this dish that makes it worthy of your dinner table of lunchtime Tupperware. The flavor is rich and the texture comfortingly soft and filling. And the aroma while it’s in the oven is sure to draw a hungry crowd, eager to dig in. It’s worth noting though that I actually enjoyed this bread pudding more after it had spent a night ruminating in the fridge, its flavors playing leapfrog and tumbling together.
Oh, before I let you scurry off to gather ingredients or go back to your busy work day, just remember that now is the time to sign up for a CSA share for the coming season so you can get a box of delicious produce every week without fail. Don’t put it off as the CSAs around here at least fill up fast. Here’s a link to a national directory of farms that provide a CSA option. You can also check for others at www.localharvest.org. And if you live in Philadelphia, last I heard, Henry Got Crops (a part of the Weavers Way Farm sites) still had shares available. Soon there’ll be asparagus and rhubarb and tender greens aplenty. Yum!
P.S. – The amazing pottery pieces in the photos today are handmade by the talented guys at Ripple Pottery out of New Hampshire. Aren’t they beautifully organic in their colors and shapes?
Well, hello there! Great news…SFTF is featured on Design*Sponge today! Welcome, all D*S readers! If you’re an SFTF reader (not to drive home any ideas of “camps” here among you all) who has yet to stumble upon D*S, it is a site full of amazing inspirational posts from some of the most creative minds in the world. The topics and projects featured there never cease to amaze me! And I’m addicted, checking in on the D*S divas at least twice a day.
My recipe on D*S for Perfect Pumpkin Risotto is one that I conjured up many months ago, and I’ve been biting my nails ever since, anxious to share this heavenly and comforting winter dish with you. Unfortunately, the season for buying local pumpkins is likely passed in most parts at this point. But perhaps you’ve been holding on to one or two in your cellar, hoping to carry memories of glowing autumn days just a little deeper into the pale dimness of winter. Or, as you all are probably well-aware of by now (am I driving this point home too much?), pumpkin puree is a miracle ingredient and if you’ve got a stash, this risotto is well worth a cup or two. To replicate the “chunks” without any fresh pumpkin on hand here in the depths of winter, you could cube and roast sweet potatoes instead.
Please be sure to click over to Design Sponge to see the post there and perhaps leave some SFTF love for me? M’wah!
I’m snickering to myself a little bit here as I write today’s post. You see, I’ve been up to no good (or rather “oh-so-good”) in the kitchen again using my weapon of choice, pumpkin, in decadent preparations. And I would really love to share those recipes with you right now, but I’m desperately trying to behave just a bit and offer you vegetables while we all are still sorting through our New Year’s resolutions. Veggies are good too, especially these tasty Rosemary Cumin Glazed Carrots and Parsnips.
I’m rather traditional when it comes to my savory side dishes on the dinner table. I like them to be straightforward in their savory classification, and glazed carrots have always been a little too sweet for me. I know, I’m being a stickler, but that’s just the way I feel about basic glazed carrots. When I want my carrots sweet, I put them in deliciously moist cakes.
To resolve my “issues” with glazed carrots, I decided to add distinctively savory notes to them to balance the flavors to be more to my liking. Cumin has always been a favorite spice of mine; the smoky undertones it gives to dishes being one I find highly addictive. Rosemary, of course, is always alluring with its powerful oil and fragrance. There’s a reason Shakespeare aligned rosemary with remembrance in the lines of Hamlet; just the slightest whiff of this herb and it carries me away on warm breezes to sunny afternoons tending my garden or the hikes I took while traveling in Portugal where rosemary grew wild.
The inclusion of parsnips also adds more depth to the savory side of these glazed carrots as I find parsnip to have a hint of dark anise in their flavor. I find that parsnips often baffle cooks that are new to them, but they are rather easy to include in any dish that calls for carrots. I bought my parsnips at the farmers market at the end of the season but the carrots are those that grew in my garden both last spring and fall. It’s amazing to me how long carrots will last in storage. What a treat to have fresh locally grown vegetables in January!
I’ve always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with cauliflower. It’s one of those vegetables I was somewhat forced to eat as a kid and, though I squirmed in my chair, I managed to get it down. Thankfully my mom usually took mercy on us kids and combined it with broccoli and cheese. And in my mind’s eye, cauliflower was always just that: broccoli’s pale and tasteless cousin.
I’m not going to lie to you…I was pretty much hitting the nail on the head with my childhood assessment of cauliflower. As a cook with a passion for putting local produce to use though, I’ve discovered that cauliflower is just a vehicle for shuttling other amazing flavors into your mouth. Case and point: that dreamy Creamy Cauliflower Garlic Soup that I made last winter and the Roasted Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Mash I declared the “perfect dish” many moons ago.
When a mammoth head of cauliflower at the last-of-the-season farmers market made its way into my shopping bag along with a small tub of the most mouth-watering sun-dried tomato marinated goat cheese from my friend at Shellbark Hollow Farm, the wheels in my head began to turn in that way that makes me giddy as I can nearly taste the flavors coming together. The only thing that needed sousing out was how to prepare the cauliflower…
Pan searing a vegetable like cauliflower gives you the opportunity to infuse it with the flavors of high-quality olive oil and a good butter as well as any herbs or seasoning. I heated sprigs of rosemary in my skillet, giving the finished cauliflower a wonderful wafting aroma that enticed me to eat a few pieces even before the sauce was ready. I have to say, if I had to eat “plain” cauliflower, this is the preparation I would always use. The slices were tender but not at all soggy, and the searing added a great deal of depth to an otherwise bland vegetable.
The real star of this show though is the sauce. It really is reminiscent of creamy vodka sauce, but it’s a much simpler one to put together. The key is to find yourself some outstanding local goat cheese that hasn’t been over processed. Just a few tablespoons makes this sauce a stand-out. Next time I’ll be sure to make a double batch since I also really enjoyed having the little bit of leftovers over a bowl of pasta the next day. So, while cauliflower hasn’t made its way to the tippy top of my favorite vegetables list, it can be quite tasty when it finds a good dinner companion.
I’m sitting on the porch today to write this post, soaking up the autumn rays of the heavy late-afternoon sun. It requires a good deal of squinting to see my laptop’s screen, but it’s worth it . I can understand why the pilgrims chose this time of the year to give thanks. Every warm moment in the fading fall sun seems like a precious gift. And really, when I think about my life right now, hectic as heck and strung out as it is, I’m really really lucky to have so many good things and good people bumping along with me on this mysterious ride.
Sorry if I’m a bit moody and wordy today. In addition to the amber autumn sunbeams making me warm and fuzzy, I’ve had an interesting week with lots of “potential” for fulfilling some of my quirky visions for the future and lots of opportunities to reflect on my past while peeling and canning gobs of fruit and vegetables. More details on all of that later. All you really need to know is that my mind is in an interesting place at the moment.
There is a recipe in here somewhere, I swear. But let me bend your ear for just a bit longer. As you know, cooking holds a lot of memories for me. And local food holds a lot of passion for me. And urban farming stirs my imagination in ways I will only hint at most of the time for fear you all think I’m nuts. One reason I find these three things so compelling is the fact food is so critical to the welfare of our community – not just for nutritional value, but also as a means for mending neighborhoods and bringing families and strangers alike together.
I’d better hurry up and post this recipe for Grilled Basil Garlic Corn Coins. I realize the last days of fresh-picked local corn on the cob are upon us, at least for this season. This second dish on my recently full summer plate is the perfect way to savor those last few ears that show up at the farmers market. Because the grilling imparts a smokey and more savory flavor to the corn, it’s a good preparation for corn that’s reached its end and may not be as sweet as it once was when the season was young. Plus it just looks beautiful cut into coins like this, doesn’t it? Good way to impress your dinner guests.
I spent the weekend with my family at the farm and enjoyed plenty of funny moments watching my young niece and nephew cover their faces in corn as they raced to eat their ears like typewriters. There was also a race to eat the most watermelon the fastest. I won that one, of course. Spending time there at the farm, immersed in nature and family, is always rejuvenating for my soul. Most weekends, D can attest to my groans come Sunday evening, when I rather predictably mutter something to the effect that the weekend went way to fast. While I was visiting with my family, enjoying working alongside my mom on some projects, picking the tail end of the garden harvests with my dad, and taking sun-kissed walks with the family dog, I was amazed at how long the days felt, stretching on for hours in the best way possible. Something about the beauty of wide open fields and the low light of autumn that slows the clock’s hands.
This past weekend I took the autumnal blue skies in stride and made a trip to the Headhouse Farmers Market to pick up some long-anticipated Asian pears and other specialty bits that I’m not growing myself. I love farmers markets any time of the year, but strolling the stalls in fall is an extra special experience. When September rolls around, fields are in their peak of production as they hold on to the last of the summer crops and start to churn out harvests from the fall crops too. Peppers mingle with pears, butternut squash cohabitates with tomatillos, apples stand shoulder-to-shoulder with white peaches, and heirloom tomatoes keep stride with freshly dug potatoes.
After loading up on the coveted Asian pears from North Star Orchard, gala and honey crisp apples from Ben at Three Springs Fruit Farm, new fingerling potatoes from Yoder Heirlooms, and some plums from Beechwood Orchards, I decided it was time to truck it all back to the kitchen and make a delicious all-local meal for D and I to eat out on the deck in the cool autumn-kissed twilight. There’s something about seeing one plate piled with nothing but locally-sourced ingredients, be it from an atmospheric farmers market, the vegetable garden, or just containers on the deck, that seems utterly poetic to me. Am I alone in this sentiment?
I decided to make a mini-series out of the three recipes I used to create this end-of-summer-beginning-of-autumn dinner, though the plate full of food reminded me more of summer still. I think it was the grilled corn coins that kept the flavors of warm days at the forefront of my mind, despite the chill in the air.
I’m starting off with the potatoes because they have so many memories associated with them from my childhood days. We grew potatoes on the farm and planting and digging them were big family affairs – my grandparents would come down from their house on the hill above ours, my brothers would all be there, my parents of course, and occasionally even some cousins and aunts. Sometime I’ll spin the tale of all that went into growing those potatoes – suffice to say that as a very Irish family, we planted plenty and celebrated their harvest with heaps of young tender baby potatoes fried up just as I have here in today’s post. I always loved getting the extra crispy little bits hot out of the oil. Originally my mom would fry these in lard – hello Pennsylvania Dutch heritage – but I can’t bring myself to do that so vegetable or canola oil are good choices instead, though the flavor just isn’t quite the same.
While we only grew your basic white potatoes when I was a kid, the adult me now enjoys having a mix of potatoes in this fry. The sweet potatoes are almost a must as they make the platter memorable. They do fry faster than the other potatoes though so watch them closely or put them in separately.
Come back soon to load up your plate with the recipes for Warm Beet Salad with Roasted Garlic Dressing and Grill Basil Garlic Corn Coins!