Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dark Days Meal # 1: Spinach Fettuccine & Homemade Sauce

The Dark Days Challenge has begun! Running until March 31, 2012, over 100 participants will be doing our best to cook and blog/write about one meal per week featuring SOLE (sustainable , organic, local, ethical) ingredients. Recaps will be hosted by the blog collective Not Dabbling In Normal. I will post links to the recaps when they are up so you can follow along with the other participants!

For the first dark days meal Gail and I started the week having reached our limit of thanksgiving leftovers. We wanted something else for dinner! It was also Monday and we were back to work and in no mood to cook something elaborate. We turned to a staple of our diet: Pasta with red sauce and veggies! In this particular incarnation we enjoyed a very delicious & fresh spinach fettuccine with a homemade pasta sauce with romanesco broccoli, carrots, and onions. I added some sweet Italian sausage to my portion, while Gail kept it vegetarian.  No fancy recipes for this meal. Saute a few cloves of minced garlic and a diced whole onion. Add broccoli and carrots, and continue to sauté. Once warmed add sauce and mix well. The pasta cooked in about 3 minutes. It is amazes me how satisfied and delighted both of us were with such an easy and simple dinner! 
All of the ingredients except the salt, pepper, and olive oil were sourced locally: 
Spinach Fettuccine- Valicenti Organico Hollis, NH 
Sweet Italian Sausage- Stillman's Farm Hardwick, MA      Pasta Sauce - all ingredients from our garden & Kimball Fruit Farm - Pepperell, MA  
Romanesco Broccoli - Heron Pond Farm - South Hampton, MA
Carrots - NorthStar Farm - Westport, MA
Even the butter I melted on top of the fettuccine was local, as it was Kate's Homemade of Old Orchard Beach, ME!
I simple, but extremely satisfying start to what I know will be a real challenge. I look forward to sharing more meals throughout the dark days! Though the challenge is to share 1 meal per week, many of our meals, or components of many meals come from local sources throughout the year thanks to the increase in the producers and availability of locally sourced ingredients and prepared foods.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Master Pork Belly Recipe

crispy skinned pork belly out
of the oven

The weekend before thanksgiving Gail and I had some friends over for dinner. Wanting to cook something I had never tried before I offered to make pork belly to pair with Gail's butternut squash risotto and Brussels sprouts and bacon. The two pieces you see on the left was my first attempt at working with pork belly. The entire process was incredibly simple and the result was a crispy skinned, moist pork belly that is easily manipulated and can fit as the meat component for an endless array of dishes.

pork belly seasoned before resting 

The recipe is David Chang's momofuku master pork belly & pork shoulder recipe, which ran in Lucky Peach Issue #1(available at McSweeney's). The best part of this recipe, which Chang points out in Lucky Peach is that it can very easily be scaled up or down depending on how much pork belly (or shoulder) you are working with.
For this attempt I was working with two pieces of Austin Brothers Valley Farm pork belly that totalled 2.5 lbs. (I got the pork belly at the Somerville Winter Farmer's Market). The dish takes a good deal of time, due to overnight seasoning and a 90-150 minute cooking time, however most of it is not hands on. This was a good project to start early on Saturday afternoon to serve for dinner on Sunday evening. The 2.5 lbs I made was obviously way too much for a simple dinner of 4 people (including 1 vegetarian), but the leftovers have gone in a variety of other dishes and will be enjoyed well into next week!
pork belly resting in the fridge with
wine, cider, & beers.
Momofuku Master Pork Belly (with slight alteration noted below)
This recipe can be scaled up and down to make as much as you like.
pork belly*
1 tbsp + 1 tsp salt per pound of pork
1 tbsp + 1 tsp sugar per pound of pork
black pepper
*recipe calls for the pork belly to be skinless. I enjoy crispy pork belly skin and decided to leave it on.
Season the pork belly with the salt and sugar. Hit it with a couple turns freshly ground black pepper. Let it sit overnight, covered, in the fridge.
Throw the seasoned belly in a roasting pan. Blast it in a 450 F degree oven for 30 minutes. Scale the heat back to 275 F and let it ride out for another hour or two, until its tender but not mushy.
Let the belly cool to room temperature. Wrap it up tight in plastic and put it in the fridge until it's thoroughly chilled through- a few hours at least, and up to a couple days. At that point, slice it into nice, thick slabs, then either brown it in oil or warm it through with a little stock or water in a covered pan. Deploy as needed.
chilled and sliced thick
before final heating,
Because I had never worked with pork belly I wanted to ensure that it was cooked thoroughly so I used a meat thermometer to verify the belly was between 150 F - 160 F. 
When I got the belly's at the farmers market they were frozen. 
Timing & Alterations
After running errands and returning home I seasoned them as directed above and let them thaw a little before letting them rest in the refrigerator from 6 pm Saturday evening until 9:15 am Sunday morning. 
I put the pork belly's in the 450 F oven at 9:26 am. After the initial half hour, I gave the belly's a very thin maple glaze as I knew the flavor would pair well with Gail's risotto, and returned them to the oven at the reduced temperature. I removed the smaller of the two at 10:24 am, and the larger at 10:28 am. It took the belly's about about 50 minutes to cool to room temperature. They were wrapped in plastic and placed in the refrigerator at 11:16 am (at this point I cut off a small bit of charred crispy skin with some meat clinging to it and was really delighted with the taste!! I mean REALLY delighted. The slight hint of maple, balanced with the salt and a touch of black pepper had me breathing deeply with porkgasmic delight!). 
I pulled the belly out of the oven and sliced it for dinner around 6:00 pm.
I browned the pieces in a cast iron skillet with a mixture of belly drippings, a drop of leftover maple syrup, and a pinch of dried sage.
The final product were slightly gristly, maple-kissed, melt in your mouth good slices of pork belly that paired perfectly with Gail's risotto, but would easily be welcome in 1001 other dishes.

final product
The unaltered Master Pork Belly recipe as noted above is one that I am adding to my cooking arsenal with full confidence that I will turn to it time and time again for a number of dishes.
If you have never worked with pork belly, or need a great simple master recipe to use as a building block for more complicated dishes, this is the recipe you want to bookmark. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

SoWa Winter Market 11/27

Despite some unusually balmy weather Gail and I took a trip to the SoWa Winter Market yesterday morning. There were lots of smiling faces from vendors and customers a like, probably a result of the warm temperatures and the abundance of great samples at the market! Gail and I went with a vague notion of what we might want to bring home and left with a few bags full of goodies!!
Here is a breakdown of all the awesome stuff we took home:
Eggs and pears from Springbrook Farm. Bacon & chicken breast from John Crow Farm, pickles & pickled golden beets from Grillo's Pickles. Seeded whole grain bread from When Pigs Fly. Potatoes, hot peppers and cherry tomatoes (greenhouse grown) from Potager Farm/Gilson's Herb Lyceum. Stuffed grape leaves and baba gannoush from Samira's Homemade, 2 different local pasta's: kale & currant ravioli from Nella Pasta as well as spinach fettuccine from Valicenti Organico, a dark chocolate and ancho chile pesto from Pestos with Panache, and a bag of medium bodied very recently roasted coffee from Captain's Coffee Brewers.
With such great variety along with some of what we grabbed last week in Somerville we are certainly ready for the start of the Dark Days Challenge which is officially underway!
A great variety of products from all over Massachusetts! What was really great was the lengthy conversations we were able to have with many of the vendors, even those who we didn't purchase from were willing to chat with us about their production methods or where they source their ingredients. Definitely educational and fun!
Another feature of the SoWa Market that makes it worth the trip is they have a variety of food trucks park at the location of their summer market down the street! Their slightly small but enjoyable vintage market is also open in conjunction with the food trucks and winter market. We were able to get a quick meal, a few records, and all the great local food in one trip!!

Have you been enjoying any local foods lately??

Sunday, November 27, 2011

November 2011... In Review

A best of what I read, looked at, watched, and listened to during the past month.
Diary of a Very Bad Year: confessions of an anonymous hedge fund manager
Lucky Peach Issue # 1
Eat Local, All Year Long - Handcrafted with Altitude
The Ultimate Hunger Games - McSweeneys
Amazingly detailed and astounding chart about Money - XKCD web-comic

St. Germain - Tourist
Ella Fitzergald & Duke Ellington - Ella and Duke at the Cote D'Azur
Girl on  Guy with Neil Fallon of Clutch
Grateful Dead - 1/17/70 Springers Inn Portland, OR

Childish Gambino - Camp
Warren Ellis - SPEKTERMODULE 01

The Botany of Desire - PBS

Up Close and Personal with Kermit the Frog via  The Nerdist

what did you read, listen to, or watch that was particularly good this month??

Saturday, November 26, 2011

November 2011... In Progress

November 2011... in progress
11/20 - 11/26
tomorrow will feature a best of for the month

Second Nature - Michael Pollan
Diary of a Very Bad Year: confessions of an anonymous hedge fund manager

glancing at:
The Food Issue - The New Yorker
Egypt Erupts with Fresh Protests - The Big Picture 
Thanksgiving Flow Chart -from Chow via Dining and Opining

listening to:
Marc Maron - This Has to Be Funny
Childish Gambino - Camp
Warren Ellis - SPEKTERMODULE 01
Vinyls- Blitzen Trapper -American Goldwing, Big Brother and the Holding Company - Cheap Thrills, Duke Ellington - Greatest Hits

Manchester City vs. Napoli - Champions League Soccer
The Simpsons - 'foodie' episode 
Bizarre Foods with Andew Zimmern - Maine
thanksgiving,  brunch with friends, coming up with a game plan for both the Austin to Boston Food Swap (#atxbos) and The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap (impromptu baking!).

Friday, November 25, 2011

Great Black Friday Seed Deal - 70% Off Seeds of the Month Club.

On Tuesday over at GrafixMuse's Garden Spot this great deal was shared.
On November 25, 2011 between 5:00am and 3:00pm EST, if you order via the link below and use the referral code: Holiday you can receive 70% off a membership of 1 year or longer (Sorry, not valid on lifetime memberships)!
All seeds are non-gmo, open pollinated heirloom varieties that have been tested for a germination rate of 95% and higher. The seeds mailed are customized to your location and climate.

For more info check out GrafixMuse's original post on the seed of the month club!
To order, visit this post at GrafixMuse's Garden Spot and follow the link for the black Friday sale!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks

For those of you gathering to celebrate with friends and family today I hope you have a wonderful celebration and that there is lots to give thankful for in your life. Here is a look at some blog related pics from the last year. Regular posting will resume soon!





 Gail and I will be getting together with my family and some of their friends. I hope your celebration is as boisterous and fun as ours is sure to be!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

First Seed Catalog!

The first seed catalog of the season arrived today, from Wolcott, VT's High Mowing Organic Seeds! While I look for holiday gifts for others I will be circling and dog-earring the pages of many seed catalogs.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Somerville Winter Farmers Market 11/19

We needed some supplies for the coming week, for my Austin to Boston Food Swap package (I've been partnered with the incredibly awesome Jess from forgiving martha) as well as dinner with friends last night so we visited a few stores and took a trip to the Somerville Winter Farmers Market on Saturday morning and ended up with a great variety of delicious local goods!
Here is a breakdown of all the awesome local goodies we ended up with from the farmers market & stores:
5 stalks of Brussels sprouts, cabbage & 2 small heads of romanesco broccoli from Heron Pond Farm. Butternut squash & carrots from NorthStar Farm. Onions & popcorn cobs from Enterprise Farm. Pork belly & garlic beef sausage from Austin Brothers Valley Farm. Asiago & Fromage Blanc from the great folks at Foxboro Cheese. Milk from Shaw Farm. Maple Syrup from Cooks Farm, whose baked treats I fell in love with this summer at the Brookline Farmers Market, some irresistible Taza Chocolate, and coffee from Dean's Beans & George Howell Coffee! What a great haul!

Did you pick up any local goodies this weekend??

Saturday, November 19, 2011

November 2011... In Progress

November progress
A not entirely food related exercise to note what I am reading, watching, and listening to.
next week will have a few new additions, but will be more of  a 'best of' what I've read, watched, listened to, this month.
Second Nature - Michael Pollan

Diary of a Very Bad Year: confessions of an anonymous hedge fund manager
Lucky Peach- Issue #2

glancing at: 

listening to:
The Doubleclicks-Blatant Pandering
St. Germain - Tourist
Thievery Corporation - Culture of Fear


cider in the city, trip to first winter farmers market, a little more baking. dinner with friends.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Garlic Rosemary Focaccia

Squares of rosemary infused heaven!
If it isn't already apparent, I really love bread. The impetus to hone my baking skills sprang from a desire to teach myself to make delicious bread, everything would be a bonus! Last year I had some great success with the very easy Blitz-Bread/No-Fuss Focaccia recipe. A very simple, beginners recipe to make a fluffy seasoned bread that somewhat resembled focaccia. With some recent baking success to encourage me I decided it was time to tackle the real thing. Using our often drooled over and much loved Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe cookbook I set out to make my own pan of the amazing, flavorful and pillowy bread that I love so much from the countless sandwich's I've devoured at Chang's Flour Bakery. My first attempt was not the delicious golden brown perfectly seasoned squares of fluffy goodness you see above, no the first result was a bit more... well done. The initial attempt at making the bread ended with my having over-baked the bread due to the oven running hotter then I anticipated. 
Don't you just want to reach into the screen and eat some?
Despite the first attempt yielding a big square of overcooked, slightly darkened bread  that wasn't exactly soft, Gail and I managed to devour the focaccia cracker in a few short days. The recipe had all the potential in the world, I just had to try again, and keep the fickle oven in the front of my mind. 
My second attempt yielded a perfect pan of fluffy, garlic infused rosemary focaccia that would be awesome for soaking up an infused oil, great for sandwiches  and the potential base for a really fantastic pizza dough! I followed the recipe in the book as directed with only two minor adjustments: mincing two garlic cloves to sprinkle on top of the bread and sticking to the lower end of the cooking time to ensure that the bread was not overdone. Gail and I agreed the second attempt was a rousing success, and this is definitely the focaccia recipe I will be using from here on in, if I have the 3.5 - 5 hours required to produce such a delightful outcome. 
So far I've really enjoyed this cookbook! Gail has had great success with the homemade oreo's, and I loved the rosemary shortbread. I'm looking forward to exploring more of the recipes within, until I feel confident enough in my baking skills to tackle Flour's legendary sticky buns!

(submitted to Yeastspotting, which will be hosted next week by Hefe und mehr)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cider in the City at Allandale Farm

Despite a steady rainfall which put a damper on the barrel fire and cider pressing, last nights Cider in the City event at Allandale Farm was packed with young and old alike sampling a variety of lesser known apple varieties paired with cheeses from around the world! There was also the cider. Hot & cold cider circulated around with an offering of hard ciders from Farnum Hill Ciders from Lebanon, NH's own Poverty Lane Orchards!
The abundance of cheese and apples (one of my favorite food combination) would have been enough for me, but the addition of hard ciders along with some other delicious treats made this a really fun, and only slightly crowded event!
We even took home some treats with us! Our haul included cheese: Valdeon, a really nice earthy blue as well as a buttery smooth Manchego! Along with the cheese we also brought home 2 bags of  apples, 2 small rosemary seedlings, a few cider donuts and a gallon of cider (duh!).
With the farmstand ringing with laughter and conversation and full of seasonal produce specialty goods from Allandale and other producers, the event felt like a kickoff to the thanksgiving/holiday/winter season. The event left me in really great spirits and has me looking forward to the upcoming weeks of food and celebration with friends, family, and loved ones.
What has gotten you in a seasonal mood? Are you ready to celebrate?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Winter Markets

In the last few years there has been a boom in year round availability of local food, my ability to participate in the Dark Days Challenge is a direct result of the increase in markets and year around availability of produce, cheeses, meats, and an increasing variety of specialty foods.
Many of the 'in season' markets have closed or are closing around thanksgiving. Finding local food involves a little more effort but isn't very challenging.
I work near Boston's Downtown Crossing neighborhood, and the holiday market runs everyday from November 26 through December 24th. Last year it featured a local orchard, root vegetable, honey, baked goods & local free range meat. Also open everyday until about Christmas time is Allandale Farm which transitions to holiday related stuff but features a variety of local produce from their farm and from around southern New England, as well as local specialty foods.
The Somerville Winter Farmer Market is already open as of this Saturday, and stays open each Saturday from 9:30 - 2:30  all the way until May 26th, making it the longest running. Last year it featured a huge variety of specialty foods, as well as root veggies and storage crops. I look forward to visiting soon.
Along with Somerville I was also a regular visitor to the Wayland Winter Farmers Market at Russell's Garden Center, which runs each Saturday from 10 - 2  from Jan 7 through early spring. This place had fresh baked goods, bagels, an orchard, multiple farms, specialty food producers, meat, and much more. Probably my favorite though it is a little out of the way it's well worth the trip.
New this year is the SoWa Winter Farmers Market which opens this Sunday, November 20th through April 29th and runs s from 10 - 2  each Sunday. It will feature produce, live plants, baked goods, herbs, free range meats, cheese, organic coffee, art, crafts, and more!
If those options aren't enough, and I am a little west of town there is the Natick Winter Market which is open Saturdays from 9 - 1 Jan 7th through April 28th.
All of these options are under 20 miles from where Gail and I live, and may require some planing to visit, but really aren't out of the way. I can't wait to share all the great market finds throughout the winter!!

Do you have any winter market favorites??

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Taking Stock for Dark Days

Below is a peek into what we managed to can & freeze which will assist us in eating locally for the Dark Days Challenge, which I posted about yesterday. Tomorrow I will be looking at some of the winter markets in my area.
homemade sauce. garlic, onions, some herbs, for seasoning, little else.
Here is a look at what we've got in the freezer as well as what we canned from our garden and local farms and farmers markets!
We have a small kitchen and limited storage space so we do the best we can. We also use some of the canned jams and relishes as gifts, because sharing is one of the best parts of canning all this wonderful stuff!
Canned & Refrigerated Goods:
corn relish. green bean/zucchini relish, pineapple salsa
Pasta Sauce 18 1/2 Quarts
Corn Relish 6 1/2 pints
Green Bean & Zucchini Relish 1 1/2 pints
Pineapple Salsa 4 1/2 pints
Blueberry Jam 1/2 pint & 4 oz jar
Peach Butter 1/2 pint
Apple Butter 1 1/2 pints
Triple Berry Jam 1 pint
Cranberry-Jalapeno Jam 1 3/4 pints
Beet Relish 5 pints
Cranberry-Apple Sauce 4 pints
Plum & Spiced Port Jam 4 1/2 pints
Ketchup Base 1 quart                                                                                   Horseradish (ground) 4 ounces                                                                                   Pickles 2 quarts

1 4 oz jar unlabeled jam. Based on color either Cran-Apple sauce or Plum & Port jam.

Frozen Goods:
Garlic Scape Pesto cubes
Basil Pesto cubes
2 1/2 lbs Frozen whole Tomatoes
cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, huckleberries
bacon, breakfast sausage, Italian beef sausage, hot Italian pork sausage, garlic and feta turkey sausage, beef kabob cubes, 1 whole turkey meatloaf, beef stew
frozen pepper strips, chives, & dill
chocolate zucchini muffins & bread, regular zucchini bread.
The meat comes from a variety of sources including Stillman's Farm, Bob's Turkey Farm, & River Rock Farm.

All this stuff, along with tomorrow's summary of some of the winter markets in my area is what we'll be relying on to make sure a portion of our food throughout the winter is from local sources!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Dark Days Challenge

I wasn't sure if it would happen again this year, but an email landed in my inbox last week from Laura over at (not so) Urban Hennery. An informal poll of previous participants was being done to gauge interest in a dark days challenge for this year. The response I saw was overwhelmingly positive, so The 5th Annual Dark Days Challenge is on!
All of the info is available at the above link, which also contains the signup info. In short, the signup is located at (not so) Urban Hennery and the challenge will be hosted by the excellent and insightful collective blog Not Dabbling In Normal . There are even rumblings of theme weeks and prizes, which is a new twist to the challenge for me!!
The rundown on the challenge:
Dates: 11/27/2011 - 3/31/2012
The challenge: Cook one meal each week featuring SOLE (sustainable, organic, local, ethical) ingredients and document the experience.
What is local??: There is a great deal of contention about that, but for the purposes of this challenge many (including this blog) will be using a 150 mile radius. There are some exceptions to the local requirements, oils, chocolate, spices, and coffee, but it's up to each individual participant what they consider local and what exceptions they are making. Part of the challenge is trying to find the ingredients locally, or if necessary, coming up with substitutes that can be sourced locally.
Again, all the details and sign up info can be found at (not so) Urban Hennery.

For Gail and I we use a radius of 150 miles, and take exception for oils, chocolate, spices, and coffee, though I will be making an effort to source my coffee from local roasters, and even use local chocolate companies like Taza when affordable. Part of the fun of the challenge is coming up with interesting meals, so I'm not blogging about soups and only soups, though there will be some delicious soups in our future. Last year we made it from 12/1/2010-3/15/2011. Two of my favorites were my first-attempt at roasting a whole chicken with buttermilk rolls and root veggies and a great salad  with apples and radish with chipotle cheddar grilled cheese.
150 miles radius from our condo.
Above you can see what constitutes a 150 mile radius from where Gail and I live. Lucky for us there are a number of local producers that fall within this ranger that will make parts of this challenge easier (King Arthur flour, and a number of small batch honey, grain, pasta, cheese, and coffee roasters in particular). Before the challenge gets underway I will post a list of what we've put up that is in our kitchen along with some of the sources I except to be using for much of this challenge.
I hope some of you will take up the challenge (whether you blog about it or not), and that all of you will follow along with me and the other participants around the Internets and at Not Dabbling in Normal

Saturday, November 12, 2011

November 2011... in progress

November 2011... in progress
Not entirely food related.. Trying something different here.
Second Nature- Michael Pollan
Diary of a Very Bad Year: confessions of an anonymous hedge fund manager
Lucky Peach Issue # 1
Beer & Bullets to Go: Ancient 'takeout' window discovered - LiveScience
Eat Local, All Year Long - Handcrafted with Altitude (this is such an awesome idea, and if there was something likes this in my area I would sign up or participate any way I could)
Because I Can - Dabblings and Whimsey (a really awesome ode to canning)
Charcutapalooza (with candied bacon recipe) - Heather Atwood, Gloucester Times

glancing at:
Flour cookbook
lots of blogs
King Arthur Flour catalog
50 Best Restaurants - Boston Magazine

listening to:
Podcasts: WTF with Marc Maron w/Chris Rock, girl on guy podcast with neil fallon of clutch
clutch (because of the girl on guy podcast, I went back and listened to lots of clutch this week)

Baby Making Music playlist by Staff Meal 
Grateful Dead 1/17/70 Springers Inn Portland, OR - great bar band type show from the dead.

modern marvels - salt
Mumuration - really fun video.

baking & a little bit of canning
new fall menu at American Craft - Pork & Beans was outstanding!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Cranberry-Apple Sauce

Gail and I  also looking into incorporating jam or jelly into our wedding somehow, and I am currently looking for recipes with a certain color, in conjunction with thanksgiving on the horizon, means now is the perfect time to stock up on cranberries and try some new recipes. I've been on the hunt for a good Cranberry Sauce recipe and came across Marisa from Food in Jars awesome recipe for Apple-Cranberry Jam. The only alteration to the recipe was just a little bit of extra cranberries, not much at all though. 
I let it cook down to the consistency of a cranberry sauce instead of a jam and promptly processed it.
Cran-Apple Sauce
The result was a great tasting beautifully burgundy cranberry apple sauce that isn't overly tart or overly sweet. A perfect test batch with enough jars to share with friends and family before thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rosemary Shortbread

Last year I wrote about picking up Joanne Chang's Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe. Gail has successfully mastered the Oreo's from the book, and we've tried a few others. I found myself at home and in between two kitchen tasks so I whipped up a batch of this wonderful Rosemary Shortbread. They are buttery and have a perfect crumb. The recipe was easy enough without a stand mixer (though the recipe calls for one) and I will certainly be making these again soon! Great with a cup of coffee or tea!

rosemary shortbread, dried rosemary sprigs & fresh cranberries
Rosemary Shortbread from Flour by Joanne Change
makes 12 to 15 cookies
1 cup (2 sticks/228 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (110g) packed light brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
1 1/2 cups (210g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (65g) cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attached (or a handheld mixer or a wooden spoon), cream the butter on medium speed for about 2 minutes, or until light and pale. (This step will take 3 to 4 minutes if using a handheld mixer and about 5 minutes if using a spoon.) Add the sugar and beat on medium speed for 3 to 4 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Stop the mixer a few times and use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and the paddle to release any clinging butter or sugar. On low speed, add the egg yolk and rosemary and beat for about 1 minute, or until thoroughly combined.
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking powder. On low speed, slowly  add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture and then mix just until the flour mixture is totally incorporated and the dough is evenly mixed. stop the mixer several times to scrape the bowl and the paddle to free ant trapped flour mixture.
Scrape the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, and wrap the dough in the plastic wrap, pressing down to form a disk about 8 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick. refrigerate the dough about 20 minutes, or until it is firm enough to roll out.
Position rack in the center of oven, and heat to 325 degrees.
On a floured work surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle about 12 by 10 inches and 1/4 inch thick. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 12 to 15 uniform pieces-rectangles, triangles, or cookie-cutter shapes-and arrange them on a baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. (At this point, the cookies can be tightly wrapped and frozen for up to 2 weeks. Bake as directed directly from the freezer. you may need to add a few minutes to the baking time.)
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the cookies are medium golden brown all the way through. Let cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 15 to 20 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Though the recipe leans towards a stand mixer I did the whole thing by hand with no issues. I used the lid of a ball 1/2 pint canning jar as the cookie cutter and got great looking circles. Really easy recipe, one that I would make ahead of time for the holidays when people might unexpectedly stop by you can throw them right in the oven!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts & bacon w/ squash ravioli
I 'm not gonna lie. I don't like Brussels sprouts. I should because they would do really well in the south eastern New England climate and growing them would be pretty easy, but I've never liked them. Enter the magic ingredient: BACON! In an effort to enjoy Brussels sprouts more I've gone for a simple recipe that calls for garlic, salt, pepper, evoo, and bacon (or pancetta). Very little effort was involved in these easy side and I found that I really enjoyed the mix of flavors. The Vermont Smoke and Cure unsmoked bacon was a perfect edition to the Brussels Sprouts and I will definitely make this recipe again as I try and eat more Brussels sprouts! This is the perfect recipe to ease me into it!

Roasted Brussels sprouts with Garlic and Bacon (or pancetta)
serves 3 well or 4 as a small side
1 lbs Brussels Sprouts trimmed and cut in half
2 oz bacon (or pancetta) minced
1 garlic clove minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 450 F. Toss all ingredients together except water in a baking pan. Spread mixture out in one layer in baking pan. Roasting stirring once or twice for 22-25 minutes until edges are brown and sprouts are as tender as you like. Stir in a little water, less then 1/4 cup, stir and pour contents into a bowl, mix well & serve

Monday, November 7, 2011

Making & Storing Horseradish

 The photo on the left shows the biggest or gnarliest pieces of horseradish I pulled from the ground. I tucked away more then enough root stock to replant some fresh in the spring, and have been making batches of horseradish here and there with different meals. It's a ridiculously easy process. If you are use fresh dug horseradish I recommend peeling the larger pieces and rinsing them small ones as best as possible.
Horseradish root is really interesting. If you manage not to pierce the outer skin of the root you will barely notice an aroma. Once you cut, grind, or expose the root it starts to breakdown and the cells release an extremely pungent and flavorful oil we know as horseradish!

diced horseradish ready to be ground
Homemade Horseradish:
3 oz horseradish root. cleaned and diced.
white vinegar I used 2.5 tbls
Place diced horseradish into food processor or mixer & grind and chop until the desired consistency is achieved. Add vinegar to neutralize the smell. The longer you let the ground horseradish sit before adding vinegar the stronger 'horseradish' flavor there will be. For a light flavor add more vinegar right away & for a strong flavor wait 4-6 minutes and add less vinegar.(note: make sure you are in a well ventilated room with a fan going and a window open, as the aroma given off is EXTREMELY strong. Strong enough that, like an idiot, when I disregarded this warning and took a big huge whiff off the lid of the grinder after running it, and resting it for 3 min. I instantaneously let out a huge yell and ran from the room. My sinus' haven't been that clear since my disco days!) Once vinegar added briefly process again. Pour off excess liquid and refrigerate.  The longer the horseradish sits the 'weaker the taste will be. However the 2-3 months at most it will be in the refrigerator shouldn't see much loss of flavor. It's great to mix with a favorite mustard or mayo to give it that extra zing!
result: 1 full jar + some extra
I store the extra horseradish wrapped in some newspaper in the freezer. When I need some I pull it out, peel  and dice what I need and return the rest to the freezer. I also have more then enough 'seed stock' to plant some of my own and pass a few off on others. I planted 5 of those things in a really small space, probably where I should have planted 2 or 3 tops so I got a good mix of big and small pieces. I cut some down to size and set them aside as seed stock after we initially harvested the 4 plants. 1 more is over wintering under straw in the hopes that I can dig some up fresh in April for Passover!
I cannot stress enough the warning that you should be in a very well ventilated room and preferably wearing a mask or dishtowel over your mouth and nose. When I got a big whiff of just the cap I screamed holy fuck that is hot and ran away in real pain. don't be like me, at least cover your mouth and nose with a t-shirt. you will smell the horseradish but it won't be nearly as painful.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

November 2011... in progress

Not entirely food related.. Trying something different here.
November 2011
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Philip K. Dick
Second Nature- Michael Pollan
Jose Andres Wants to Feed the World (and you) - Wall Street Journal
200+ piece haul of viking jewelery and coins found - Daily Mail
glancing at:
Stir cookbook
King Arthur Flour catalog
Edible Boston Fall 2011
listening to:
Blitzen Trapper-American Goldwing
Neil Young-After the Gold Rush
Ella Fitzergald & Duke Ellington-Ella and Duke at the Cote D'Azur
Podcasts: nerdist & you made it weird, men in blazers
good wife, big bang theory, 30 rock. daily show, colbert
Doctor Who series 6
Champions League Football
Hasan Elahi - FBI, here I am
Stefan Mancuso - plant intelligence
engagement photos
big celebratory gathering 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Resurrecting Sourdough Starter

My sourdough starer has been sitting the back of the fridge, totally neglected since spring. While I garden I don't bake much because I am too busy outside!... It had been a while since I thought about the starter in it's beautiful ceramic container. It's gotten much cooler and I'm back to baking. It was time to raise the starter from the dead!
From this...
No problems! I poured of a little of the liquid, stirred up the starter in a bowl, added some lukewarm water and flour and let the starter sit for 10 hours. By then it was quite bubbly and active and had a nice tangy smell. Not wanting to waste the 'discard' before I re fed the starter I pulled up this basic and easy recipe from King Arthur Flour. The bread had a light tang and wasn't too dense, as I stuck on the lighter side of the required flour.

... to this!

The purpose of resurrecting the starter was to make a true sourdough or something equally delicious, which is what is on deck for the weekend.  
Are you doing more baking now that it's fall??

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Quick Bite Done Right!

I was tasked with cooking dinner for myself on Tuesday night. I am fortunate enough to work from home twice a week which affords me the opportunity to tidy up, do laundry, and work on cooking projects.  After a busy day of work and laundry, I found myself standing in the kitchen alone, waiting on another kitchen project without a strong desire to cook anything to complicated.
With a quick bite in  mind I whipped up some mini-sandwiches & kale chips for a fast and relatively easy dinner on the go.
quick bites done right.
The mini-sandwiches are made with leftover feather bread, Smith's Farmstead garlic gouda, turkey kielbasa from Bob's, wax peppers from the garden which I had frozen in strips, and homemade horseradish mayo, with the leftover horseradish mayo topping the kale chips.

Not too shabby for a hastily thrown together dinner for 1!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Preserving Herbs: Drying & Freezing

Last year I managed to dry some thyme successfully and ruin some chives in an attempt to preserve both. This year the results were far more tangible.
back: dried sage, marjoram, & rosemary.
front: ground sage, mint, &  rosemary in jars
Michael Ruhlman's simple tip to place herbs in a wooden bowl and let the air circulate and dry them, naturally works incredibly well. We've got little buckets of sage, marjoram, rosemary (see above photo) along with jars of dried mint, ground sage, rosemary, and a rosemary/marjoram mix. This also works well with thyme and oregano.
Along with drying herbs we even freeze some. Granted herbs taste MUCH better when they are fresh with over 1.5 lbs of chives harvested this year, there is no way we could eat all them as we picked them. Throughout the season as I would cut chives I would freeze them in individual layers on cookie sheets and then put them in a freezer bag. We also freeze dill, a tip from my mother, which is great for soups and hearty potato dishes and freeze easily.

We keep a jar of 'fresh' pesto in a bit of oil in our fridge, but we also have baggies full of both basil and garlic scape pesto cubes that we freeze and use all year round. They are a great attention to fresh and canned tomato sauces!
What other herb preservation methods do you use?? Add them in the comments section, if I get a good list going, I will post it for posterity.