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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Food Albums

During the time that I was not writing down recipes, I was still cooking food. Here are some of my albums - if any of them garner any interest, I'll try and recall the recipes for you.

Summer Vegetable & Bean Soup

The climate in Maine this summer has not been great for most vegetables, but the squash - well that's another story. The farmers' markets and farm stands are overwhelmed in the yellow and green goodness that is the staple of every summer garden. Our own measly backyard garden is producing at an astounding rate - we even found our first pie pumpkin this morning!

My kids are not that interested in squash, but they eat it 12 months a year. I can't get enough of it - soups, stir fries, baked & stuffed, shredded, raw, cookies & pies - so I have to find ways to incorporate it into dinner without them disliking it. If I stuff it, they eat the insides. If I stir fry it, they will usually pick it out. But if I shred it....oh the things I have done with shredded squash. Tonight's dinner was created for just this occasion! The shredded summer squash acted like a noodle in this decadent summer soup, and my kids devoured it none-the-wiser.

The other stars of this delicious soup were inspired by what we could cut from the garden, and what my SO could grab from the Swango Farm Stand, where he works. He came home with a bushel of summer squash and added that to our growing stock, plus a handful of onions. In the garden we have fresh Swiss chard and chives, which I gathered up. In the cupboard we had some canned beans, a perfect source of protein for my mostly vegetarian family.
Beautiful fresh ribbons of Swiss Chard not 5 minutes after I snipped them from the garden.

Fresh chives from the garden add the perfect pop for this savory soup.

Summer Vegetable & Bean Soup
(serves 4)
1 large onion, sliced
4 T butter, unsalted
2 C water
3 vegetable stock bouillions
1 can white beans, rinsed
1 can butter beans, rinsed
1 C Swiss chard, leaves and stems
1 C summer squash, grated
4 cloves garlic, thickly sliced
4 T chives, fresh chopped
1/4 C Parmesan cheese, shredded

With cold and flu season on its way, we are going to be including garlic in every meal.

1. In a large pot over medium heat melt butter, and add onions, tossing to coat thoroughly. Turn to med-low and simmer onions gently, stirring 1 or 2 times, for 10 minutes.

2. Add bouillion to the onions and stir to coat with spices. Pour in water (add more if you want a more brothy soup) and beans.

3. Stir in chard, summer squash and garlic until combined.

4. Bring to a gentle boil, drop to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and chives, with some crusty bread.

We had the green tops from the fresh onions, so we added those on top of the cheese & chives.

Mac 'n Cheese 'n Summer Squash

This is the time of year when zucchini and summer squash run rampant through our gardens. You can buy it by the bag loads from farm stands and farmers' markets. Most of us can get bushels from friends who are overwhelmed with these long, vivacious green and yellow vegetables. We eat zucchini bread, fry rounds of them in butter, stuff them, make noodles from them, and try to find a number of other ways to use up the plethora of zucchini and summer squash we are surrounded by.

My kids eat just about anything, but they have already reached their limit of these summer vegetables. I know have to find new and creative ways to use them up. Tonight's dinner was a win in all categories. The kids got homemade macaroni and cheese, I served them a healthy dose of summer squash, and the SO gave it two thumbs up. I cheated on the sauce, admittedly, because I was lazy and it needed to be used up, but you can make a roux and a white sauce from scratch.

This is what it looked like before baking.

Mac 'n Cheese 'n Summer Squash
1 package pasta
2 C cheddar cheese
2/3 C Alfredo sauce
1 C shredded summer squash
1/4 C shredded Parmesan cheese
4 mushrooms, thinly sliced (optional)
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
2 T butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta until just cooked. Drain and set aside.

2. In the meantime, heat 1 T of butter over medium heat and add onion slices. Toss the onion slices so they all get coated in butter. Turn heat down to medium low and let cook until a golden brown.

3. In a pot melt 1 T butter over medium heat and add in Alfredo sauce and shredded cheddar cheese. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Add in summer squash and cook for 2 minutes.

4. Butter a baking dish and add cooked pasta. Dump in cheese and squash sauce, mix thoroughly. Serve with a fresh salad, sauteed green beans, and some crusty bread.

Delicious and creamy, topped with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Vegan Tuscan Soup

This winter has been nothing but an array of sick...6 long months of virus after virus. Tonight another round has swept through the household, and I'm tired of it. In response to this sickening grip on our household, I decided to whip up this warm and hearty soup. If you have leftover rice and beans, this soup comes together in about 20 minutes. It is great for those with dietary restrictions, too - it's vegan and gluten free - and would be spectacular with tofu. If you're a meat eater, don't hesitate to stir in some cooked chicken or sausage for some added protein. All-in-all, this soup was a big hit with the kids and mister alike, it was slightly warm with spices, but not so much so that it made it uncomfortable. However, if you want a little kick, double the spices!

Vegan Tuscan Soup
(serves 8)

8 C Vegetable Stock
1 C rice (leftover rice would cut the time)
1 onion, chopped
1 head of garlic, sliced
2 C pinto beans (precooked)
3 C fresh spinach
1/2 C salsa
2 T dried thyme
1 T cumin
1 t Cajun spice

In a large stock pot add stock, rice, onion, garlic and spices and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes until the rice is just cooked. Stir in pinto beans, salsa and spinach and cook at a simmer for 5 minutes. Serve with a thick slice of warm bread.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

New England Winter Stew

I love my winter CSA more than any other season. When I first decided to do one, I was concerned that winter in Maine is not a viable time for growing food at the farm. I was quickly proven wrong. My first winter CSA was through Little Ridge Farms in Lisbon, and I was astonished at the variety of vegetables - from delicata to butternut squash, turnips, beets, onions, shallots, kale to collard greens. And I never got bored with them. My body craved them. And each winter I tingle with anticipation for creating recipes to keep my family warm in the cold New England weather while providing them with the plethora of vitamins our bodies crave. This year's holidays took a toll on us, berated by colds, a gastrointestinal virus, and the exhaustion from late nights and too much candy. We were in dire need of soup, a thick hearty stew that could warm us from the inside out. Serve this with a hearty chunk of bread and a small salad for a full meal.

(serves 4)
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 C sausage, cooked
2 C butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 turnip, peeled and cubed
1 fennel bulb, chopped, tops removed (for another use)
2 C cooked rice
4 C vegetable stock
4 T butter, unsalted
1 t cumin
1/2 t cayenne
1 sprig savory
1 apple

In large sauce pan put whole sausages in and cover with water. Cook 15 minutes over medium-high heat. Set aside and drain any remaining water from the pan. Return pan to medium low heat and melt 3 T of butter in it. Toss in onion and coat with the butter. Cook over medium low heat until the onions have caramelized. Add in garlic, squash, turnip and fennel and toss to coat with onions. Chop sausage into pieces and mix into veggies. Pour in vegetable stock. Stir in cumin and cayenne, and drop a sprig of savory in. Bring to a boil and drop to a simmer. Cook for 1 hour. Add in rice and cook for another 30 minutes. Mix in 1 T of butter, salt and pepper if desired.

To serve, scoop stew into a bowl and garnish with fresh chopped apple and fennel ferns.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Ratatouille Casserole

This time of year is my favorite for the vegetables that are being harvested in New England. Eggplant, summer squash, tomatoes, zucchini, potatoes, kale....and all that says to me is Ratatouille. My CSA from Center Pond in Phippsburg, and my dear friend on the other side of town, have supplied me with all of these wonderful ingredients, right down to the basil and rosemary.

Recently I was diagnosed with an intestinal disorder, so I've had to modify my diet drastically. This was the first meal I ate that wasn't buttered toast or a banana, in almost a week. I am so happy to say that it 100% commits to the low FOMAP diet I am following, but is also amazingly delicious. We served ours over tricolor quinoa, but you could also do rice. The amounts are all rough approximations based on what I had on hand - use more or less of anything to suit your needs and tastes.

(photos by the wonderful bf)

(serves 4-6)

1C fingerling potatoes, sliced thinly
1C japanese eggplants, sliced thinly
1C summer squash, sliced thinly
1/2C carrot, sliced thinly
1 tomato, sliced thinly
1-2 C vegetable stock, depending on how soupy you want it
1/4C fresh basil, chopped
2 sprigs rosemary
1/4C cheese, shredded
3T oil
1T salt
pepper to taste

Place eggplant in a pie plate and sprinkle with all the salt, place other veggies (except tomato, which is a fruit anyway) in another pie plate and nestle on top of the eggplant. Let sit 10 minutes before you start the
cooking process. This will press the water out of the eggplant, taking away any bitterness. In a cast iron deep skillet heat 1T oil over medium heat until sizzling, then add potatoes, spreading them around the bottom of the pan. Cook until they start to brown a bit, then flip them and cook until the other side is equally brown. Remove from heat and set aside. In same pan add another 1T oil and heat over medium heat until sizzling. Add in carrots and summer squash and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Meanwhile, dry off eggplant with a cloth removing salt and excess water. Toss in with the summer squash and carrots and stir. Let cook, stirring once or twice for another 3-5 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Add 1T oil to the pan and heat. Place potatoes on the bottom of the pan evenly spaced. Layer with summer squash, eggplant and carrot. Turn off heat and pour in stock. Spread tomato slices over the top. Sprinkle with basil, lay the rosemary over the top and sprinkle with cheese. Sprinkle with pepper. Cover and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Mushroom Zucchini Risotto

We got a nice big zucchini from our CSA at Center Pond Farm and I couldn't wait to cook it up. But there were so many options! Of course, my default is always risotto. This zucchini was big enough that I didn't have to use it all for one meal, so risotto has been made with two-thirds of the zucchini intact and waiting for another meal. This risotto was the first time my youngest son exclaimed that he now LOVED risotto, and that he would eat anything with mushrooms in it. I call that a success!

Mushroom Zucchini Risotto
(serves 4)

2 Portabella mushrooms, sliced thinly
2 T butter
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 C)
4 cloves garlic, chopped (about 2 T)
1 T olive oil
1 C arborio rice
1 C white wine/or stock (I had 1 C left-over chicken stock)
6 C stock, kept warm
1 C zucchini, shredded
2 T fresh sage, minced
2 T fresh parsley, minced
2 T butter
1/4 C parmesan cheese
salt & pepper, to taste

In a large skillet heat butter and add mushrooms, cooking until soft. Remove mushrooms from pan & set aside. Add olive oil, onions and garlic and saute for 3 minutes. Add in arborio rice and mushrooms and stir to coat rice thoroughly. Saute for 2 minutes, then add in 1 C of wine or stock and start stirring. Continuing adding in 1 C of until al dente. With last cup of stock, add in zucchini, sage and parsley. Once that last cup has been absorbed and the rice is creamy and cooked, add in butter, cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly and serve immediately with crusty bread, and salad.