Turkey Day Challenge
Broccoli and Cabbage for Thanksgiving
Monday, November 24, 2008
Although we keep the turkey, stuffing, and roasted veggies pretty consistent from Thanksgiving to Thanksgiving, we like to vary the green vegetable dishes. This year may see a version of a broccoli-garlic salad from the New York Times. Pictured above is the test version I made yesterday, with local broccoli, red cabbage, daikon, carrot, and garlic. (I used about 2/3 of a large head of broccoli and half a medium-sized head of cabbage.) I think it came out pretty well, with a little extra vinegar and salt to make up for the additional volume from the cabbage.
Turkey Day Challenge: Cranberry Quince Pinot Noir Sauce
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Thanksgiving at my house is sort of like a miniature West Side Story, except instead of the Jets and the Sharks it’s the Canned Cranberry Jelly Lovers and the Real Cranberry Sauce Lovers. Now granted, it’s not like we’re all dancing around my dining room and getting into choreographed knife fights over dessert…but if accidentally-on-purpose forgot to buy a can of cranberry jelly, well, it might well devolve into something like that. My husband won’t eat it unless you can read the date imprint in the jelly from the can…and I won’t eat it unless it’s homemade.
In some ways, this is a good thing. I don’t have to worry about catering to someone else’s tastes….because I’m the only one eating the cranberry sauce. I can make whatever the hell I want. Last year it was honey and spice cranberry sauce and the year before it was the bourbon cranberry sauce. Both good, but variety is the spice of life!
So this year it’s cranberry quince Pinot Noir sauce. It’s both sweet and tart, and very very delicious!
2 cups apple juice
1 cup Pinot Noir
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon peppercorns
2 quinces, peeled, cored, and cut into small cubes
12 oz fresh cranberries
Bring the apple juice, wine, and spices to a boil in a large saucepan. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Add quince and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add cranberries and simmer for an additional seven minutes. Toss the cloves out, and remove fruit from liquid.
Boil the liquid until it’s thick and syrupy. You may need to add more wine at this point to get the volume of syrup you need.
Combine syrup and fruit; serve. Or, in my case, can it. It makes 2.5 pints of sauce.
The quinces, cranberries, and cider vinegar are all local.
I can’t wait to unveil my latest cranberry sauce variety on Thursday. If I can convince anyone to at least try it, I may get some converts to homemade cranberry sauce this year! Or I may find myself alone in the kitchen singing “When you’re a Jet you’re a Jet to the end….” Either way, this is great sauce!
Where is your thanksgiving turkey coming from this year?
Thursday, November 13, 2008
In a previous post, Nicole mentioned that Fair Food Farmstand is taking orders for local, humanely-raised turkeys for out Thanksgiving meals. If you’re anything like me, and finding that this holiday has snuck up on you a bit, then you’ll be happy to hear that the Farmstand has extended their ordering deadline. Whew!
Naturally-Raised Turkeys $2.99/LB
(Hormone & antibiotic-free, free-range)
Available weight ranges: 10-15 Lbs, 16-21 Lbs, 22-27 Lbs, 25-30 Lbs
Green Meadow Farm, Gap, PA
Ordering Deadline: Noon, Nov. 19th
Organic Turkeys $4.50/LB
(Certified Organic, raised on pasture)
Available weight ranges: 12-15Lbs, 15-19 Lbs
Spring Water Farm, Gap, PA
Ordering Deadline: Noon, Nov. 19th
“Bourbon Red” Turkeys $6.50/LB
(Heritage breed, hormone & antibiotic-free, raised on pasture)
Available weight ranges: 7-10Lbs, 11-14 Lbs
Griggstown Quail Farm, Griggstown, NJ
Ordering Deadline: Noon, Nov.16th
Although I personally won’t be consuming turkey at our annual Veg*n Thanksgiving Feast (we’ll roll with Ray’s Seitan), I’m sure many are happy to know that the Fair Food Farmstand is providing such a great opportunity to purchase Thanksgiving turkeys raised by local family farmers. Happy meal planning!
The family heirloom stew
Monday, November 10, 2008
With soup weather upon us, I’ve been concentrating on making soups that are can-able or freeze-able. But there’s something so delicious about creamy soups. And I can never resist trying new recipes for oyster stew - the perfect oyster stew is sort of the holy grail for me. My great grandmother, a native Nova Scotian, made killer oyster stew, the likes of which I have never been able to recreate.
A recipe in the November issue of Saveur does come pretty close, though! And better yet, it’s pretty easy to make using all local ingredients. Even the oysters can be locally sourced, although I did not use Cape May Salts or any other local oysters this time around.
The recipe is from Antoine’s in the French Quarter. Apparently, oyster stew is a popular first course for Thanksgiving dinner in New Orleans. Who knew? I think I’d probably get run out of town if I tried that at my house, but I’m content to make oyster stew for myself every now and then!
Turkeys, Challenges, Sprouts, and Oysters - Oh My!
Sunday, November 02, 2008
It’s November and that means one thing: it’s Turkey Day Challenge month! Contributors to Farm to Philly will be sharing their favorite Thanksgiving dishes with you all month long! My own Thanksgiving should be interesting this year. My in-laws have been coming for Thanksgiving dinner for the last couple of years, but this year my own parents might be joining us. This puts me in a bit of a pickle - while my mother will at least try anything you put in front of her, my stepfather is deeply suspicious of high-falutin’ cooking (and when I say “high-falutin” I mean that anything other than plain old mashed potatoes with milk and butter, for instance, is considered bizarre and potentially dangerous). And so I might need to do a lot of cooking this year - stuff that I want to make, as well as stuff that my stepfather will eat.
Oh, and speaking of Thanksgiving, Fair Food Farmstand is now taking orders for Thanksgiving turkeys. They’ve got naturally raised turkeys from Green Meadow for $2.99/lb, certified organic turkeys from Lancaster Farm Fresh for $4.50/lb, and Bourbon Red heritage breed turkeys from Griggstown for $6.50/lb. If you’re trying to save a bit of cash, you might consider signing up to volunteer at Fair Food - volunteers get a discount. I’m a seasonal volunteer, and my first shift back after dragon boat season was this past Saturday morning. Stop by and say hello if you’re around - I’ll be there loading up vegetables, bagging spinach, and wrapping cheese every Saturday from 7:30am to around 11am.
My first contribution to the Turkey Day Challenge is a very simple way to prepare brussels sprouts: brown halved sprouts in olive oil with finely chopped bacon. That’s like crack in a bowl right there. I don’t eat bacon too often because I don’t like the texture, but I do like the bacon available from the Fair Food Farmstand. I believe it’s double smoked bacon from King’s Butcher Shop - nice, thick bacon. My husband, who generally thinks brussels sprouts taste like dirt, will eat brussels sprouts this way. For him, bacon makes everything taste better. For an extra special dish, use walnut oil in place of olive oil. Delicious!
As an unrelated aside, my husband and I had dinner at Ansill’s last night (I had the Trick or Meat Halloween special - squid cooked in its own ink, a skewer of beef hearts and veal kidneys, and Tongue in Cheek - a bowl of veal cheek and pig tongue with white beans and pumpkin. Everything was delicious!). On the appetizer menu they offer raw oysters - the oysters of the day were Cape May Salt Oysters. Offal aside, I would have gone to Ansill’s just to have the locally grown oysters!
Local Turkey Source
Turkey Day Challenge: Pumpkin creme brulee
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
The other day at lunch with Lauren, I was lamenting over my inability to get the consistency of some pumpkin creme brulee just right. It’s something I’ve been borderline obsessive-compulsive over ever since I roasted those pie pumpkins that came in my CSA share last month. After another test run, I perfected it - the perfect creme brulee for my 100 Mile Thanksgiving. The bulk of the ingredients are locally grown - eggs, cream, pumpkin, and maple sugar.
So what was the issue that stymied my efforts? I’m pretty sure it was the fresh pumpkin puree. If you’ve ever made a pumpkin pie, you’ve probably dealt with canned pumpkin puree. It’s thick, like a paste. Fresh puree is far different. It’s a little watery. Sure, I could have cooked it down to get a thicker paste, but what’s the point? I’d rather do a little experimenting!
Here’s the recipe -
2 cups heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup fresh pumpkin puree
1/2 c. sugar
maple sugar for topping
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Heat the cream and spices in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk it every now and then until it boils. Remove from heat and let sit for about 10 minutes.
Combine the yolks with 1/2 cup sugar. Stir with a fork until light in color and the sugar is mixed in.
Pour a little bit of the cream into the yolk/sugar mixture. Whisk well. Pour a little more of the cream into the yolk/sugar mix. Keep whisking. Continue until all the cream has been incorporated. Whisk in the pumpkin and vanilla.
Place 4 6-ounce ovenproof ramekins in a large roasting pan. Fill the ramekins with the pumpkin mixture. Place the roasting pan on the center shelf of the oven. Carefully pour water into the roasting pan, being careful not to get any into the ramekins. Add enough water to come halfway up the ramekins. Bake for 45 minutes until the custard is set but still jiggles slightly. Remove from the oven and cool. Refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.
Note: the original recipe calls for a baking time of 25 to 35 minutes. I suspect this would work if you use canned puree or your oven runs much hotter than mine.
Sprinkle a thinnish layer of maple sugar over the tops of the brulees. Use a pastry torch to brown the sugar; or, place the ramekins on a baking sheet under a broiler about 4 inches from the heat until the tops brown and bubble, about 1 to 3 minutes. Let cool for 3 minutes and serve.
What an excellent dessert spread we’ll have at Thanksgiving this year - pumpkin creme brulee and apple cake!
Turkey Day challenge: roasted potatoes with watercress yogurt sauce
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Every now and then I like to skip mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving dinner and serve potatoes in some other way. I know it’s practically sacrilege to say that, but it’s true. A favorite around here are roasted potatoes with yogurt watercress dressing.
If you’re into Green Goddess salad dressing (which I am), you’ll probably like the dressing - it’s very similar.
1.5 c. yogurt
1 c. watercress, stems removed
1/3 c. mayonnaise
6-7 scallions, roughly chopped
3 Tbsp fresh basil, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp fresh mint, roughly chopped
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
Whirl it all together in a blender until smooth and Bob’s yer uncle. Er…it’s done, is what I mean. Refrigerate the sauce for 30 minutes, or until your potatoes are roasted. I like to use the goat yogurt from Shellbark Hollow Farm and the scallions and mint are local. Alas, it’s a little late in the season to find fresh, local basil and watercress.
Lancaster Farm Fresh provided the small red potatoes I used for roasting. Just coat them in good olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper, and roast at 450 degrees for 35 minutes. Drizzle with the watercress sauce (or, if you’re my husband, drown the potatoes in sauce) and eat ‘em up!
Go Green for Thanksgiving
Monday, November 12, 2007
A chilly Sunday evening calls for some nice warm comfort food. So last night we tried the Ray’s seitan that I picked up at the Fair Food Farmstand. I made a seitan strogonoff from Nava Atlas’ Vegetarian Express. It was really tasty and, as promised, was on the table in thirty minutes. I was able to make it pretty quickly while the real star of the table was in the oven: Chard & Kale Gratin. The recipe is based on one in Deborah Madison’s cookbook called Local Flavors, which is a beautiful and thoughtful ode to the diversity of food sold at farmers markets. (This would make a lovely holiday gift for any aspiring locavore!)
Madison’s recipe uses Bright Lights Swiss Chard and crumbled feta. I used a mixture of Bright Lights and kale because I had both in the garden. I also substituted Hendricks Telford Tomme cheese because I was picking up a few things at the suburban mega-grocery store Hennings when I saw a woman from Hendricks offering samples. I’m a sucker for free cheese! Turns out that Hendricks is now going to be carried at Hennings. Good stuff. Anyhoo…the Tomme was great in the gratin. I may make this dish for Thanksgiving because it always elicits rave reviews and it’s nice to have some greens on the table with all the starchy side dishes.
Here’s the recipe:
Deborah Madison’s Chard Gratin
From: Local Flavors
2 lb. chard (coarsely chopped), including half of the stems (chopped) [I often mix chard and kale]
4 T. butter
1 onion, finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 c. fresh bread crumbs
1 garlic clove, minced
3 T. chopped parsley [lots of different herbs are good in this]
1 T. flour
1 c. milk or cream or a mixture of cream and stock
1 c. crumbled fresh goat cheese [or another cheese or your liking]
Melt 2 T. butter in skillet over medium heat. Add onion and chard stems and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to brown. Add greens, sprinkle with 1 t. salt, and cook until wilted and tender (less than 10 minutes).
Preheat oven to 400 and lightly oil a 2 qt gratin dish. Melt 1 T. butter in small skillet and add bread crumbs, garlic and herbs. Cook, stirring, for one minute; scrape into bowl and return skillet to heat.
Melt 1 T. butter, stir in flour, then whisk in milk. Simmer for 5 minutes, season w/ salt, and add to the greens. Add the cheese and season.
Pour into dish and cover with bread crumbs. Bake until heated through and golden, about 25 minutes. Let settle for a few moments before serving.
Soup For You
If you have ever been to an Italian-American Thanksgiving, then you know that tortellini in chicken broth is a must before anything as American as a turkey. While I love tortellini soup, I don’t think it has a place on a Thanksgiving-day table. In true American spirit, I think food of all nationalities can have a place, but tortellini in chicken broth? There is a bit too much poultry in having a chicken broth and then a turkey. Also, does anyone need more starch on Thanksgiving?
The root-vegetable soup below is adapted from Sally Schneider’s The Imrovisational Cook. I’ve altered the specific vegetables, the amount of water, added beer, etc. I also happened to add some left-over roasted cauliflower to the mix. My favorite (and most needed) addition, though, is the cheddar “croutons.” For our Christmas party, I always make frico with Montasio cheese; what follows is just a variation. My wife and I found them a necessary addition, as this is a soup with a muted flavor.
Root-Vegetable Soup with Cheddar Croutons
2 lbs. mixed root vegetables (celeraic, waxy potatoes, parsnips), diced into equal-size chunks
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 leek, washed, trimmed and cut into thick rings
2 bay leaves
2 tblsp. butter, olive oil or bacon fat
1 c. beer (preferably stout)
2 c. grated cheddar cheese (we used Oak Shade Horseradish Cheddar)
1 c. flat-leat parsley, roughly chopped
Set the broiler on high and scatter the cheese over a piece of parchment paper or a silpat on a baking sheet. Be sure to make a single, thin layer. Place under the broil until the cheese has melted into itself and turned golden brown. Remove and let cool while you make the soup.
In a heavy-bottomed stock pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and garlic and saute until softened. Add the root vegetables and cover with just enough water to cover. Bring to a gentle boil until the root vegetables are cooked through (approximately thirty minutes, depending on the size of your cubes). (Note: You could also lightly brown the vegetables before adding the water; I think I might try that next time myself.) Once the vegetables are cooked, either puree in a blender (in batches) and return to the pot. Or, you could just use an immersion blender. Add the beer and salt and pepper to taste; let it simmer, with an occasional stir, for an additional twenty minutes.
Break the cooled, melted cheese into bite-size chunks. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls or mugs, float a couple of the cheese “croutons,” and top with the chopped parsley.
Hopefully, you’ll find it more Thanksgiving-like, too.
One for Me, One for You
Sunday, November 11, 2007
We were invited to a friends’ house for dinner last night. My husband made the arrangements and forgot to ask what we should bring. I feel naked showing up at someone’s home, especially for a meal, without something homemade to offer. When he called back, we learned that the meal, dessert and wine were already taken care of. I still couldn’t bring myself to show up without some food. What to take? I decided on a quick bread. They’re..uh, quick, they’re easy, they’re yummy and so versatile, doing duty as breakfast, as a snack, as a dessert or thrown in the freezer for the next time you need a hostess gift. I’ve made pumpkin bread plenty of times so I decided to make up a recipe using the beautiful local sweet potato sitting on my counter. The best part is that it makes two tasty loaves - one to keep at home and one to give away. What could be better? This would be a lovely hostess gift to take to Thanksgiving dinner if your host declines your request to make something.
Maple Sweet Potato Quick Bread
Mix together dry ingredients:
2 c. white whole wheat flour
1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 t. salt
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1 1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 c. brown sugar
In a separate bowl, mix together wet ingredients:
2 c. sweet potato puree (pumpkin or squash would work just as well)
1/2 c. maple syrup
2 T. flax seed meal mixed with 6 T. water*
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. canola oil
1/3 c. oats mixed with 1 T. brown sugar
Mix the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients until just combined. Stir in 2 c. chopped walnuts. Pour into 2 greased loaf pans. Sprinkle top of each loaf with the topping.
Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes.
*This is the basic way to make a flax seed egg replacer: mix 1 T. ground flax seeds with 3 T. water and let sit for a couple of minutes. In this recipe, I used the equivalent of two eggs made from this mixture plus two of the real things. You could use four eggs instead or use all flax seed egg replacer using the above formula to equal four eggs. You could also make this vegan by substituting soy milk or water for the cow’s milk.
The sweet potato, maple syrup, whole wheat flour, eggs and milk were local.
Dark Days and Turkey Day: the loaf and the sweet, sweet potatoes
Last night’s Dark Days challenge meal (my third for this week! The other two: a tomato omelet and a grilled cheese sandwich and ‘kitchen sink’ soup) coincides with FTP’s own Turkey Day challenge (Farm to Philly writers and their favorite Thanksgiving meal recipes) - how serendipitous! The Dark Days meal is meat loaf, cabbage gremolata, and cranberry glazed sweet potatoes. It was delicious - a meal full of bright flavors! And I’m happy to say that there are enough leftovers for a couple of lunches throughout the week, which is always fantastic! The meatloaf, a blend of local ground beef and turkey, was about as close to totally local as you can get - local garlic, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, parsley, my homemade, local catsup, bread crumbs from local bread, and local eggs and milk. The only things not local: olive oil, salt, pepper, and soy sauce. I was especially excited with the meatloaf, because this is the first opportunity I’ve had to use the catsup I made. It’s yummy and ended up having a really great consistency.
2 large sweet potatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds (I use a mandoline to ensure uniformity) 1 c. water 4 Tbsp. melted butter 2 Tbsp. bourbon salt and pepper 3/4 c. cranberries 1/3 c. brown sugar a pinch of both cinnamon and cayenne Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a large baking dish and arrange the potato slices in concentric circles, overlapping the slices slightly. Pour 1/2 c. water over the potatoes and bake for 40 minutes (cover the dish with foil). Increase the temp to 425 degrees at the end of the baking period. Mix the melted butter and bourbon; pour over the potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Continue baking 25 minutes. Baste midway through. Combine cranberries, 1/2 c. water, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil over med-high heat until cranberries start to pop, about 10 minutes. Drain the cranberries, reserving the liquid. Stir cayenne and cinnamon into the liquid and drizzle it over the sweet potatoes. Bake an additional 20 minutes. During the last five minutes of baking, spread cranberries over top of the potatoes.The brown sugar, bourbon, salt and pepper, cayenne and cinnamon are not local. However, I think this would be just as good using local maple sugar in place of the brown sugar, and Sailor Jerry’s rum in place of the bourbon.
Turkey Day challenge: bourbon cranberry sauce
Thursday, November 08, 2007
My husband really likes canned cranberry sauce. He won’t eat any cranberry related concoction unless it has tin can grooves in it and the expiration date is visible. Growing up, we always had the canned stuff, too. But the second I had fresh cranberry sauce I gave up the ways of the pre-packaged cranberry gel. My husband, well…I’m still trying to drag him kicking and screaming to the light.
Last year for Thanksgiving I made a cranberry sauce I was sure he would love: bourbon cranberry sauce. In the end, my husband refused to even try my cranberry sauce, but I made a convert out of his father. Go figure.
The sauce is easy to make and stores really well, either canned in a water bath or in the fridge for a few days:
1 lb. cranberries
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. bourbon
Mix the cranberries, cinnamon, and sugar together and bake, covered in foil, for one hour at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and give it all a good stir; pour in the bourbon. Refrigerate overnight and serve chilled.
The Fair Food Farmstand has both white and red heirloom cranberry varieties from Paradise Hill Farm this week. I can vouch for both of these - they are absolutely delicious, and the bourbon gives the sauce a little bit of zing. It’s still the tiniest bit alcoholic, though, so be sure not to operate any heavy machinery after Thanksgiving dinner!
Turkey Day Challenge: Forget the Mashed Potatoes!
Okay, maybe you shouldn’t really forget the mashed potatoes this Thanksgiving since they are awfully good. But a nice supplement to the “mashed vegetables alongside the turkey” category would be mashed turnips with roasted garlic. Mild turnips, such as the white Hakurei, are best for those who aren’t huge turnip fans. If you enjoy their spicy, somewhat bitter taste, opt for a variety such as Scarlet Queen. Turnip season is in full swing and many varieties are available around the city’s various farmers markets. These lovelies came from Weavers Way Farm.
TURNIPS AND ROASTED GARLIC MASH
2 bunches of mild turnips (Hakurei variety works well)
1 large head of garlic
2 T. butter
generous pinches of salt and pepper
fresh chives to garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place whole head of garlic, unpeeled, on a baking sheet lined with foil. Roast garlic in oven for 30 minutes or until very squishy. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
While garlic is roasting, bring a large pot of salted water up to a boil. Wash turnips well, trimming off tops and roots. Cut into 1 inch pieces and boil until tender, about 20 minutes depending on the variety. Drain off water and allow to sit for five minutes. Turnips will release more water as they cool. Drain additional water off and use either a potato masher or an electric mixer to begin mashing up the turnips.
Cut a half inch off the top of the roasted head of garlic, exposing the cloves inside. With your hand, squeeze out all the garlic pulp into the turnips. Add butter and salt and pepper before continuing to mash turnips to the desired consistency. If turnips appear to be releasing more water after being mashed, drain it off and add more salt if necessary.
Serve immediately with a few snips of fresh garlic chives. If desired, serve cooked turnip tops along side turnip mash. To cook turnip tops, simple wash and roughly chop. Heat olive oil or butter in a skillet and add turnips when hot. Season with salt and pepper. Turnip greens are fairly bitter.