Thursday, July 26, 2012

Fresh Blueberry Pie, Oh My!

High on the list of life's luxuries is to make a pie with fresh fruit. Too often we get the "must save for winter" urge, perhaps woven into our genetic code, and only make pies in January with lovely, though frozen, berries we carefully prepared and stacked in the freezer in July. They are tasty and make the cold winter seem not quite so bleak, but pale in comparison to using fresh berries. But, this year, the blueberry crop is abundant; we've put up 6 gallon freezer bags full of the blue gems, and they are still coming in the CSA. We took a poll and our kids decided that pie trumped fresh blueberries (a sure sign they've been gorging), so pie it is!

This recipe is so simple it almost feels like cheating to claim it as our own, but we will, so there!

Blueberry Pie

Preheat oven to 400.


3 pints fresh blueberries, washed
1 TBSP lemon juice
1/4 cup honey

Put all above ingredients in a bowl and gently stir to just get honey evenly spread.


2 cups white flour OR use 1 cup white and 1 cup wheat
1/2 teas. salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces
~ 1/2 cup ice cold water 

1. Put flour and salt in a large bowl. Add butter and use your fingers to gently rub the butter into the flour until it uniformly looks like coarse cornmeal. 

2. Sprinkle most of the water on top and gently mix with your hands until the dough comes together. If it doesn't come together easily, sprinkle on a bit more until it does. Humidity and air temperature definitely determine how much water you end up using. Form into two even clumps. 

3. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out one clump on a floured counter top until it's approximately 14 inches in diameter. 

4. Place rolled out dough in a pie pan. Add filling.

5. Roll out other clump to approximately 10 inches in diameter and place on top of pie. Crimp edges so top and bottom crust meet and join.

6. Put in the oven on a cookie sheet to catch drips.

7. Bake 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 and bake until crust is lightly browned, approximately 30 to 40 minutes.

8. Remove from oven and let cool. Eat.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Cleaning the Fridge of Farmers' Market Delights

This time of year, between our CSA share and my inability to exercise any bit of self-control at the farmers' market, we end up with the counters and refrigerator full of gorgeous vegetables on the brink of becoming fodder for the compost pile. What to do? Well, I have a few suggestions. Like its cousin, Garbage Risotto, you can make a lovely garbage pasta that will clean out the fridge. And then, just for the shear fun of it, make creamed corn.

I am embarrassed to admit that I learned the joy of fresh pasta only recently. I grew up with regular dry pasta and experimented with grocery store fresh pasta as a young adult, but it wasn't until moving to Union Square and discovering the rare gem that is Capone's that I realized that pasta does not need to simply be the vehicle for sauce, but instead can represent itself just fine. I strongly urge you to visit Al and do a taste test of olive oil or vinegar, drool over his cheeses and olives, or bring home his incredibly talented daughter's handmade chocolates. Your life will change for the better.

Garbage Pasta

Serves 6

lots of olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
a few scallions, chopped OR a shallot, chopped OR garlic scapes, chopped OR 1/2 onion, chopped
3 medium tomatoes, chopped into 1/2 to 1 inch pieces
marinated artichoke hearts
1 cup eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup tomato sauce
broccoli or cauliflower pieces
summer squash or zucchini
Swiss chard or kale, chopped small
salt and pepper
cooked sausage or chicken

basil or cilantro
fresh mozzarella cheese or any other cheese

2 lbs. fresh pasta (I like half squid ink, half lemon)

1. Saute garlic and scallion (or onion or shallot, etc) - in enough olive oil to generously cover the bottom of a large frying pan - for a few minutes.

2. Add any other ingredients you want from the list above (or add in your own ideas) EXCEPT cheeses and fresh herbs. Cook until softened and smelling good, ~ 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, cook pasta (fresh cooks in 2 minutes). Drain pasta. Put back into pasta pot and pour cooked toppings over. Add cheese and herbs. Stir well. Add more olive oil to loosen it if it's too hard to stir. Add more salt and pepper if necessary. Eat. I like to put nutritional yeast on top.

This next recipe is delicious as a side to almost anything.

Creamed Corn

Serves 6 as a side

2 TBSP butter
2 TBSP olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teas. salt
1/2 teas. pepper
12 ears corn, kernels cut off
1/2 cup milk or cream, maybe more
1/4 lb. fresh mozzarella
1 bunch cilantro, cleaned and roughly chopped (smaller stems okay)

In a large frying pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add olive oil. Add garlic, stirring until fragrant, ~ 2 minutes. 

Add salt and pepper.

Add corn. Cook, stirring once or twice, for ~ 10 minutes. 

Add milk and cook, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until corn is starting to brown and get sticky, ~ 20 to 25 minutes. If it starts to look dry, add a little more milk.

Tear mozzarella into bite-sized pieces and add. Add cilantro and stir well. Remove from heat. Taste to see if it needs more salt or pepper. Eat.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Pregnancy-Inspired Grilled Cheese

July is what eating locally and seasonally is all about. We are so fortunate to be surrounded by farmers' markets and stores with abundant vegetables, fruits, cheeses, breads, chocolates. I could go on, but there's a word limit so I will stop, but you need to go check it out. Union Square boasts two farmers' markets (Thursdays, 5 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) as well as the lovely Sherman Market, purveyor of all things local. Combine these with the bountiful CSAs available, and eating in season becomes easy and delicious. And that's just Union Square! Davis and Central (Cambridge) Squares have their own farmers' markets and stores with local goods. We are lucky people, over here in the 'Ville.

Today's meal was genuinely entirely local. While at the Swirl and Slice Thursday evening farmers' market this week, my very pregnant sister had a vision for grilled cheese with, wait for it, . . . mozzarella and goat cheese. And, as one who has been pregnant myself in the past, I recognized the tone of her voice and the look in her eye and didn't think twice and bought both (Fiore Di Nonno mozzarella and Crystal Brook Farm garlic and basil goat cheese). We had lovely tomatoes from Saturday's farmers' market (Kimball Fruit Farm), which had ripened in the window and, realizing we had forgotten basil, went out on a limb and used deep purple rainbow chard from Red Fire Farm's CSA, which was a delightfully hearty and tasty alternative. The pinnacle of our local yumminess was Dan's Brick Oven Bread (purchased at Sherman Market) which is the best whole wheat sourdough I've ever had. This grilled cheese was over-the-top good.

Grilled Cheese, serves 2 hungry people (multiply as needed)

4 slices Dan's Brick Oven Bread
1 medium tomato, cut into 6 slices
4 leaves rainbow or Swiss chard, washed and thick stems removed
1/4 lb. Fiore Di Nonno mozzarella, cut into 4 slices
2 TBSP Crystal Brook Farm garlic and basil goat cheese
2 TBSP butter, divided

1. Heat a large cast iron frying pan on low heat.

2. Lay two slices of bread on a cutting board. Place 3 tomato slices, 2 leaves of chard, and 2 slices of mozzarella on each. Spread 1 TBSP goat cheese on each of the remaining slices of bread and place, cheese down, on top of the mozzarella, completing the sandwich.

3. Put 1 TBSP butter in the bottom of the pan and spread around for an even coating. Place the sandwiches in the pan and let them grill for 4 to 5 minutes, checking to make sure they are not burning. When the bottom is nicely browned, flip the sandwiches over. Put the remaining TBSP butter in the pan and gently lift the sandwiches up to get the butter underneath. Cook another 3 to 4 minutes, checking to make sure they do not burn. When nicely browned, remove from the heat, cut the sandwiches in half, and eat!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Black Raspberries, Briefly

Before the birds discovered them, at the beginning of this week, I had great gobs of black raspberries covering the bushes that just keep finding new corners of the garden to occupy. As they started to ripen, I picked as many as I could each day. Then, I slacked off on Monday, and on Tuesday morning I woke to the delighted sounds of the birds who’d found them. Now I think they must hang out watching the berries ripen from the trees, or maybe they pick them at night, because even if I go out two or three times a day, every ripe berry gets picked before I can get near it. I’m sure some kind of netting would protect them, but they’re tucked into such random and hard to access spots already, I think the netting would just ensure that no one gets any. But before the birds swooped in, there were even more than my son could smoosh across his face, even more than either of us could eat in one sitting. And so I froze about 12 ounces of them. Now that I realize there won’t be any more, they’ve become a precious commodity. I don’t want to waste them all on one dish, but believe it or not I still have 8 oz of frozen blueberries left over from the flats of them that I got last summer, and those I’m dying to finally empty out. So blueberry-black raspeberry sorbet it is! And just because I’m on an herb kick, make that blueberry-black-raspberry-mint sorbet. Yum.

Blueberry-Black Raspberry-Mint Sorbet
serves 6-8

2 cups sugar
2 cups water
10 mint leaves
8 oz frozen blueberries
4 oz. frozen black raspberries
4 tsp. lemon juice

Bring the sugar, water, and mint leaves to a boil, then simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes. Strain into a small bowl and put into a larger bowl filled with ice and water. Let cool for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, puree the berries in a food processor. Stir everything together in a large bowl. Put into an ice cream maker and chill. Finish off in freezer.