Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Filo Yum Yum

The berries that we still have left in the freezer from last summer and fall are so delicious all on their own, we could just stir them together and bake them and be happy.  But they taste fantastic AND look beautiful when wrapped in filo.  Most of the time, with food, pretty adds to delicious and delicous adds to pretty and it just keeps going up.  But every once in a while, when you get down into a drippy dribbly mess that covers your fingers and your face, gets stuck behind your ears and in all sorts of other crevices, you reach true bliss.  The kind where you're so happy you're just rolling on the kitchen floor in it.  Now the filo yum-yum secret: with this dish you get it all. 

Filo Yum Yum
Serves 4

6-7 sheets filo dough
2 T melted butter
1 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup frozen whole strawberries
1/2 cup frozen raspberries
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 T honey

Preheat oven to 350.  Layer the filo dough out on a cookie tray, dabbing the melted butter on each sheet with a pastry brush before adding on the next.  Mound the fruit in the middle.  Drizzle with the lemon juice and honey.  Pull the dough toward the top, as if you were wrapping a fruit basket.  Bake for 30-45 minutes.  When you take the pan out of the oven, you will find a beautiful "basket" sitting in a pool of juice.  Let cool about 20 minutes.  Cut the "basket" and serve.  Eat your pretty piece of delicacy.  Then lay out the pan and dig in. 

Filo Fun (aka kale cover)

Did I mention that I  froze a lot of kale last summer and fall?  I have had a very healthy dose of leafy greens this winter.  But spring is thinking about coming, or at least it was last week, and that deep dark green just isn't as appealing as it once was.  I want bouncy bright spring somethings on my plate.  A little filo and ground lamb give just that to the kale.  My mother and I made a more traditionally Greek version of this around Christmas.  It's equally delicious, but didn't use up any kale.  Also, the layering and the mozarella in this one give it more of a spring garden look. 

Filo, Lamb, and Kale Lasagna Casserole
serves 4-6

1 lb ground lamb
1 large onion
3-4 cups blanched kale (thawed if it was frozen)
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 cups grated mozarella
8 sheets filo dough
2 T melted butter
2 T olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 large cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
"Greek seasoning" (thyme, marjoram, oregano, lemon)

Preheat oven to 350.  Saute the onions in olive oil for 5 minutes, then add ground lamb, salt, pepper, garlic, and Greek seasoning. Cook, stirring frequently, until lamb is thoroughly browned, 10-15 minutes.  Layer filo dough into a deep casserole  pan, letting it come up and over the sides.  Lay down one sheet, brush with butter, lay down the next sheet, repeat until you have four sheets.  Layer one third of the meat mixture, one third of the tomatoes, one third of the kale, then one third of the mozarella.  Lay down another sheet of filo, butter and fold in half so that it does not lean up over the edges.  Repeat with another sheet of filo.  Now repeat the innards layer.  Repeat the two sheets of filo.  Repeat the last innards layer.  Fold in the filo sheets that had come up and over the edges.  They won't quite meet in the middle.  Dab with the last of the butter.  Bake for 30-45 mintutes. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pork Roast with Peach Glaze

Leaves are unfurling everywhere, bits of bright green are poking their way through the last few remnants of the snow bank that took over my front garden, and my compost pile is almost thawed enough to turn into the soil--Spring is around the corner!  Now is the time to clear out the bottom of the freezer and the back of the cupboard, sloughing through those last bags of frozen kale (I'll be leaving that out of the garden this year) and wallowing in the delight of just having to finish off all of those fruits and berries.  A few weeks ago, Renee and I made the last of the frozen peaches into jam.  The fact that it came out  more like peach butter than like peach jam makes it no less scrumptious on bread and butter, and also made me think of a glaze. I love savory and sweet together, and the perfection of our "jam" ensures there is nothing cloying or candy-like about this.

Pork Roast with Peach Glaze
serves 4

1 medium pork loin roast (about 1.5 lbs)
6 cloves garlic
1/4 cup peach jam
salt and pepper
1 T olive oil

Preheat oven to 350.  Cut the garlic cloves into quarters.  Pierce the loin all over with the tip of a sharp knife, making incisions the size of your garlic pieces.  Stuff each incision with a garlic piece.  Rub the loin with salt and pepper.  Heat olive oil in an oven-ready pan and sear the loin on all sides.  Gently pour the peach jam over the loin and spread using the back of a spoon or a cooking brush to cover the top and sides.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the meat measures 160 degrees in the center.  Remove from heat, tent with tin foil, and let sit 5-10 minutes.  Slice and serve with roasted butternut squash and sauteed kale. 

Roasted Butternut Squash
serves 4

1 large butternut squash
2-3 T olive oil
sea salt
pepper
1 sprig rosemary

Peel one large butternut squash.  Cut it in half and scoop out seeds and guts.  Cut into 1/2-1" cubes.  Spread out on a baking pan.  Drizzle liberally with olive oil.  Sprinkle liberally with sea salt.  Sprinkle lightly with pepper.  Pull the leaves off one sprig rosemary and sprinkly over the top.  Toss the squash so it's all well covered.  Spread it out into a single layer.  If you can't make a single layer, use a second pan.  Roast at 350 for 30-45 minutes.  About halfway through, pull the pans out and use a spatula to turn the squash.

Sauteed kale
Serves 4

1 bag frozen blanched chopped kale or 1 large bunch fresh kale, chopped
2 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic
salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil.  Meanwhile, hit the garlic once, hard, with the flat end of knife.  Slip off the skin.  Add the garlic and kale to the hot oil.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Saute, stirring often, until kale is wilted, about 10 minutes.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Winter Apples: Let Me Count the Ways

Crispy, creamy, in five or six different storage varieties, apples are one of the best things about Somerville's winter farmers' market.  I have had fantastic fresh local fruit all winter.  No more need to buy those tasteless exotic imports.  No more excuse to try anything but apples.  They are piling up on the counter, in the fruit bin, in my backpack, in the tupperware I take back out of my son's lunchbox at the end of the day.  I think we are starting to understand how Frances felt with all of that bread and jam. 

But a few extra minutes of slicing and a little creativity can shift those apples from a centerpiece that has lost its luster to a hint, a tease, a suggestion...

Winter Apple Salad
serves 4

Last winter, I wondered about just giving up on salad till Spring.  This winter, along with apples the winter farmers' market has greenhouse lettuce, fresh and local every week. 

1 package winter lettuce mix (the cold-loving lettuces are dark and rich, perfect for this salad)
1 apple
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup walnuts (the only non-local ingredient!)

Toast the walnuts by spreading in the bottom of a pan, ideally cast iron, over a medium heat and tossing frequently for 10-15 minutes.  Core and slice the apple (do not peel), then cut the slices crosswise into short and wide matchsticks.  Sprinkle the apple, cranberries, and walnuts over the lettuce.

Dress with a white balsamic-walnut oil vinaigrette:

1/8 cup white balsamic vinegar (local apple cider vinegar is a good option if you don't have this)
1/8 cup walnut oil (you can use olive oil too)
1/4 tsp. stone ground mustard (Sherman's Market in Union Square has some from Maine)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 clove garlic, whole but gently smashed to remove skin and release flavor
1/4 tsp. ground pepper

Combine the dressing ingredients  in a glass jar with a good lid and shake well to combine.  Use desired amount and store remainder in fridge for up to 2 weeks. 

Apple-Stuffed Roasted Chicken au Jus
serves 4

1 4-5 lb. chicken
1/2 apple
salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic
3 sprigs grappa-soaked tarragon (or other herb)

Fresh tarragon soaked in grappa for about 3 weeks makes a just barely flavored and wildly, brilliantly colored digestif.  After 3 weeks, you should take the tarragon out of the grappa.  It will then save almost fresh for several months in the alcohol fumes, and can be used in any chicken or fish dish where you'd think to use tarragon for all of the fresh herb flavor plus a secret extra something.

Preheat oven to 500.  Wash chicken.  Rub well all over with salt and pepper.  Place apple half, garlic cloves, and tarragon in cavity.  Set in a roasting pan surrounded by about 1 lb small potatoes (I used the last of the little ones I got from Red Fire Farms in the Fall - about the size of fingerlings or new potatoes but actually just the runts from their last harvest- I had to pull off a few sprouts, but they were still perfect!) and 4-8 shallots.  Roast 60 minutes.  Remove chicken from oven, remove everything from pan and cover with tin foil.  Set roasting pan over flame on stovetop.  Add 1/2-1cup chicken broth.  Scrape drippings off bottom of pan, bring to a boil, and let simmer 10-15 minutes.  Serve in a gravey turreen, like you would the "jus" from good steak.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Local Bean Soup

The other day, Dave and Viv ventured into Union Square to do some local shopping. They returned victorious, having cleaned out Reliable Market of their frozen dumplings, miso, tofu, and dok rice cakes. They also stopped by Sherman Market and bought some beans. Dave and I snickered to ourselves at the price - $4.15 for a pound of beans, but agreed it was good to support local agriculture. And local they are. These heirloom beans are from Baer's Best in South Hamilton, MA. They are handpicked and beautiful - multi-colored, speckled, red, brown, white, black.

Dave rinsed and soaked them overnight,  and then put them into the crock pot in the morning with 8 cups of previously made chicken stock. This cooked on high all day, until around 3:30 when I added 1 1/2 cups of chopped onion, a 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup tomato sauce lingering in the fridge, 2 TBSP of lemon juice, a few shakes of paprika, salt, and pepper. Then, on a whim, I poached the elbow macaroni from the kids' one remaining box of whole wheat mac 'n' cheese (please don't tell them). This cooked until 6:30, when we ate. It was so good, we all had seconds, including Viv who, on a good day, will eat three bites of dinner.

Please go buy these beans and make this soup. You can use their directions on the back or use our minimal adjustments. It's well worth the $4.15.