Summer Vegetable Casserole

Courtesy of Miss Pauline Newton

Ingredients:                                        Serves 4 – 6

  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • ¼ lb bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 lb zucchini or yellow squash, or a mix of the two
  • 1 lb eggplant, peeled and diced (salt and drain for about 30 minutes to improve browning)
  • 1 large onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 2 cups peeled and diced fresh tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 and ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil or 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 6 ounces Jarlsburg or Emmanthaler cheese, grated

Directions:

Sauté almonds with bacon in a large skillet until lightly browned; remove from skillet. Add squash, eggplant, and onion, cover and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Sprinkle in flour; add tomatoes with juice, garlic, salt, pepper and dried or fresh basil.

In a 2-quart casserole dish, layer 1/3 of vegetable mixture, 1/4 of almond bacon mix, and ½ of the grated cheese, repeat twice more but end with a ring of the almond bacon mixture on top.

Bake in a 400-degree oven, uncovered, for 30 – 35 minutes until bubbly throughout.

Wild Ramp and Parsley Pesto

 Makes roughly 2/3 cup

Ingredients

* A dozen wild ramps, cleaned and prepared

* 1 cup fresh parsley, rinsed, dried and with the stems removed

* 1/2 cup pine nuts, walnuts or roasted almonds

* 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, Romano or Pecorino cheese

* Olive oil

* Sea salt, to taste

* Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 Directions

 1.  Coarsely chop the ramps, separating the green leaves from the white stems. Add olive oil to a pan over medium heat and add the white parts of the leek stems. After about two minutes, toss in the chopped ramp greens and stir. Sautée the ramps until they are just cooked through, you do not want to brown them.

 2.  Dump the sautéed ramps, parsley, cheese, and nuts into the bowl of a food processor or blender and add a few glugs of good olive oil. Process the mixture until it’s all ground then stop to taste it and add the salt and black pepper to taste. Process again for a few seconds to mix well, then taste again and adjust the flavors as needed — you can add more nuts, cheese, salt, oil, etc., depending on the flavor and consistency you’re going for.

3.  If you make enough to have any left over, put in an airtight container in the fridge.

Wild Ramp and Lemon Risotto

Serves 4 – 6

*1 large bunch of wild ramps (8-10), cleaned and trimmed with the roots removed

  • 2 large shallots

  • 2 Tbps olive oil or butter

  • 7 cups organic chicken or vegetable stock

  • 2 cups Arborio rice (risotto)

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest

  • Sea salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Separate the ramp stalks from the greens and chop each, keeping them separate. Finely chop the shallots.

  2. Heat the stock in a saucepan (you’ll want to position this right behind whatever burner you plan to use for the risotto pan since you’re going to be ladling stock into the pan continuously during the cooking process.) Cover the stock and leave it on low at a simmer (it will need to stay hot the entire time you’re cooking the risotto.)

  3. In a large, heavy bottomed pan (there are special risotto pans but although nice, they’re not necessary) melt the butter and cook the onion on medium-low heat until softened, about 5 minutes.

  4. Add the rice and stir to coat all the grains with butter. Sautée the rice for 2-3 minutes until the rice becomes chalky and you can see a white dot in the center of each grain. Then add the wine and cook for 2 minutes, stirring, until it’s been absorbed.

  5. Now the fun begins (by the end of this, your arm will be very tired!) Add one cup of the hot stock to the pan and stir until it has all been absorbed by the rice – if you don’t stir and cook until the liquid is absorbed with each addition, the rice will get very gummy).

  6. Continue to add stock, one cup at a time, stirring constantly until the rice has absorbed the liquid and starts to seem dry before adding more stock. Once you’ve added 6 cups of the stock, you should start adding 1/2 cup at a time. Keep doing this until the rice is cooked through but still a little al dente, about 30 minutes total (you may not end up using all of the stock but it should be pretty close — if you run out of stock, you can substitute hot water towards the end.)

  7. Turn off the heat, add the chopped ramp greens, lemon zest, and Parmesan cheese, mix well to incorporate, then season with salt (if needed) and freshly ground black pepper, and serve.

 

Ramps and Scrambled Eggs

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 2 pounds ramps. cleaned and diced (reserve some of the diced leaves for garnish)
  • 6 large eggs, beaten
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons bacon drippings

Preparation:

Parboil ramps for about 10 minutes; drain well. Over medium heat, heat bacon drippings in a large heavy skillet; add drained ramps. Add beaten eggs; stirring constantly until eggs are cooked. Garnish with cooked, diced bacon, if desired, and reserved diced ramp leaves. Serve immediately.   Delicious with cornbread, potatoes, and meat or fish.

Serves 6 to 8.

 

Ramp and Potato Soup

Ingredients:

    4 to 6 slices bacon

    4 cups chopped ramps (including green)

    4 to 5 cups diced red potatoes

    3 tablespoons flour

    4 cups chicken broth

    1 cup heavy cream

    salt and pepper, to taste

 Preparation:

In a large skillet or Dutch oven, fry bacon until crispy; set bacon aside. Add ramps and potatoes to the skillet; fry on medium-low heat until ramps are tender. Sprinkle with flour; stir until flour is absorbed. Stir in chicken broth; simmer until potatoes are tender. Stir in the cream and heat thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4 to 6.

Pasta with Chicken, Asparagus, Peas and Mushrooms in Cream Sauce

When available use morels with this recipe. 

This recipe is the result – as many of mine are – of throwing together just-purchased market ingredients with whatever else I have in the fridge. The amounts are all very flexible as are the specific ingredients.  Learning how to cook up a variety of ingredients with efficiency and dispatch is the real secret to executing and enjoying creativity in the kitchen.

1 large free-range chicken breast – about 7-8oz or two small

½ large sweet onion or ¼ cup spring onions, thinly sliced

½ large bulb of fennel, thinly sliced

1 pint sugar snap peas, English peas or pea shoots

½ – ¾ lbs asparagus, sliced into 1-inch pieces

½ lb mushrooms, any variety, sliced or cut into quarters

¼ – ½ lb fresh or flash-frozen pasta 

Bring to boil a pot of salted water and blanch the peas for three minutes; remove with a slotted spoon and then blanch the asparagus in the same water for 3 minutes. Hold the water at a simmer until ready to cook pasta. About 5 minutes before the dish is completed, return the heat to high and cook the pasta according to package directions.   

While blanching the vegetables, sauté the lightly salted chicken breast over medium heat in 2T each butter and good olive oil in a large sauté pan; remove when barely cooked through and add the onion and fennel to the pan. Sauté for 3-5 minutes and then add mushrooms and sauté till lightly browned. Deglaze the pan with some white wine; add ½ cup chicken stock and cook over medium-high heat till reduced by half, then add ¾ -1 cup good heavy cream and cook till thickened, 2-3 minutes. 

Add vegetables and sliced or diced chicken breast to the mixture and season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. When fresh herbs are available, you can add a chopped mixture of your choice. And don’t forget a little Parmesan on top!   Serves 2 – but can easily be doubled.     

Guide to Greens

Several of our farmers have indicated that customers are asking how to cook greens and I am happy as always to answer that question, so I am first going to provide a basic cooking method that I have developed to cut the time it takes to cook greens and thereby preserve more of their intrinsic flavor and crispness. But watch this space for additional recipes over the next few weeks that offer other options.

The following describes a method for preparing and cooking greens; it is not a recipe. You may adapt this to any leafy green vegetable that is grown for its leaves such as kale, collards, mustard and turnip greens.  Beet greens and very young greens of all kinds can usually be sautéed without prior steaming.  You should work with at least ½ to 1 pound of greens for two people; they do reduce considerably when cooked; you need to try it yourself to see how much you can eat after preparation.

Greens should be well washed, individually if they are large. Then stack four or five together and cut crosswise into ½-inch strips. Small, baby greens can be sliced into slightly wider strips as they will not be as thick.  First place the greens in a deep sauté pan or skillet with a lid with just the water that clings to the leaves after rinsing.  Over medium-low heat steam until they wilt, about 5 – 10 minutes.  Then lift the greens from the pan and set aside.

At this point, you are going to prepare the flavoring. I use about 2 tablespoons of finely chopped country ham bits and pieces per each ½ lb of greens (You may buy some of the best country ham in Virginia from Valentine right here at the market) and sauté them in the same pan in a small amount of oil or bacon grease. You may add a little onion or garlic too, but as soon as the flavoring ingredients are beginning to color, return the greens to the pan and sauté them for an additional 3 – 4 minutes to absorb the flavors.  You may sauté them longer if you want them to be softer, but I like a little crispness in mine and I like to stop the cooking before they lose too much of their own flavor and consistency.  You may chop and sauté lean bacon if country ham is not available and wait until the bacon is almost crisp before adding back the greens. Add a little salt if necessary – country ham is very salty itself – and lots of freshly ground pepper and just keep tasting until they are the consistency you prefer.

Candied Apples Plus

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place three cups fresh pumpkin seeds, 4 cups water and 2 teaspoons salt in a large saucepan and bring to a boil for 15 minutes.  Drain seeds. Blot dry and toss  with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon paprika and 1 teaspoon salt.  Spread the seeds in a single layer on a non-stick baking pan; roast until lightly golden and crisp  – about thirty minutes.  Makes three cups.  Store in the freezer if keeping longer than two days.

 Candied Apples

The kid’s size Galas are great for these.

Line a large baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray. Insert 6-inch white dowels into the stem ends of the 8 (eight) apples.

Combine 1 cup sugar, I/3 cup light corn syrup, 1/3 cup water and 1/3 cup cinnamon Red Hots or other cinnamon decorator candies in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook until sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally.  Cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 300 degrees ( about eight minutes ) .  Remove from heat.

Working with one apple at a time, holding apple by its dowel, dip in the syrup, tilting pan to cover apple. Turn apple quickly to coat evenly  with syrup; let excess syrup drip back into pan.  Place apple, dowel side up, on prepared pan to harden ( about 5 minutes ).

 

 

Recipe: Rabbit with Mustard and Cream

1984 American Version of Larousse Gastronomique

From Michel Oliver’s recipe.

Cut up a rabbit weighing about 2lbs into pieces. Spread the pieces with a mixture of 2 – 3 tablespoons of strong mustard of your choice, 1 tablespoon oil, salt and ground pepper to taste. Place the pieces in a flameproof dish and put into a hot oven (which I would consider to be 375 – 400 degrees.) After five minutes, sprinkle with ¼ cup water. Continue cooking, basting with pan juices every five minutes.

When the pieces of rabbit are cooked, arrange them on a heated serving platter and keep warm. Skim the fat from the pan juices and add 2 – 3 tablespoons white wine, reduce slightly over medium-high heat on top of the stove, stirring with a wooden spoon. Then add 4 – 5 tablespoons cream and some salt and simmer until thickened. Do not boil.

Pour the sauce over the rabbit and serve with pasta.

 

Recipe: Chicken or Rabbit Chasseur

Hunter’s Chicken or Rabbit  with Mushrooms and Tomato Sauce

from Larousse Gastronomique

Serves 4 – 6

Sauté a cut-up chicken, chicken pieces or a carved up rabbit in a mixture of butter and olive oil until lightly browned.  Season with salt and pepper, cover the pan and cook for about 35 minutes.  Add one generous cup sliced raw mushrooms and cook for about 10 minutes more.

Remove the meat from the pan and keep it hot.  Brown 1 – 2 chopped shallots in the pan juices and add ½ cup white wine and 1 tablespoon well-reduced tomato sauce (or tomato paste) and reduce by half.  Then add a small liqueur glass of marc – which in this country would be port or sherry – and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon ( or 1 teaspoon dried). Bring to a boil and then coat the chicken or rabbit with the sauce.  Serve with potatoes.

You may also add sautéed bacon lardons or just chopped bacon – which could be sautéed with the shallots.