Friday, September 28, 2012

Fancy Freezing for a Better Winter

Last summer and fall, I went crazy chopping, blanching and freezing everything I couldn't use from my garden and CSA.  I even bought extra stuff at the Farmers' Market to put aside.  So all winter long, I had big frozen blocks of greens and beans and fruits that I could dump into whatever I was making and experience fresh and local out of season.  It worked really well for soups and stews and pies.  But not for much else.  One round of blanching is about all the cooking green beans can take and still have any kind of crunchy delight.  And to mix the veggies into anything but a pot of boiling something requires the added step of defrosting, and the problem of figuring out how to cut off just the amount that you need.  So, this year, I'm working with a better plan: freeze entire dishes premade with the lovely local fresh stuff.  I now have in my freezer single, double, and quadruple servings of:

carne molida (ground beef sauteed with onions, all kinds of peppers, tomatoes, salt and pepper),

roasted peppers and tomatoes (from Nigel Slater's Tender)

greek pie filling (ground meat sauteed with chopped swiss chard, onions, garlic, feta cheese, and oregano),

roasted spaghetti squash with Moroccan spices (from Ruth Reichl's first Gourmet cookbook),

provencal green beans (onions, tomatoes, and garlic sauteed for a good long time with green beans thrown in for the last 3-5 minutes)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Soup, Salad, and Tart, Part 3

This week we continued our obsession with soup, salad, and tarts, all mixed up. We had a collard green and rainbow chard salad and roasted veggie tart for dinner, followed by melon soup for dessert. The tart was far and away the best part, and something we would definitely make again. The salad was inspired by a friend's gorgeous bag of greens she brought over, and is a variation on one from Bon Appetit. The melon soup was fun, and the kids liked it but it is very sweet so a little goes a long way.

Roasted Veggie Tart

2 small leeks, cut into thirds and sliced in half
1 red onion, sliced
2 1/2 green peppers, sliced
1 eggplant, sliced
3 large tomatoes, sliced
2 sweet peppers, sliced
olive oil, ~ 1/2 cup
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 375.

Lay vegetables in a single layer, separated by type, on cookie sheets and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

Roast for 45 minutes. Remove onions and flip eggplant. Roast another 15 minutes and remove eggplant and sweet peppers. Roast everything else for another 15 minutes.


2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup melted butter
1/3 cup molasses or honey or a mix of both
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder

Mix everything together and spread out onto a cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Layer on roasted veggies and bake for another 10 minutes. Slice like pizza and serve.

Collard Greens and Rainbow Chard Salad

2 large bunches rainbow chard, stems removed and ripped into large pieces
2 large bunches collard greens, stems removed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
olive oil for drizzling
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 375.

Toss chard with oil and salt and spread out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and roast until crispy but not burned, ~ 15 minutes but checking frequently. Set aside.

Put collards in a large serving bowl.

2 TBSP water
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp fish sauce
1 to 3 tsp hot pepper, minced
2 TBSP lime juice

In a small pan, heat water and sugar until sugar is dissolved.

Mix everything together, adding as much hot pepper as you like.

Toss dressing over collard greens. At the last minute before serving, toss in chard chips.

Melon Soup

1 cup red seedless grapes
1 small watermelon, cut into quarters and flesh removed from skin
1/2 tsp salt
2 TBSP lemon juice
1/2 cup mixed color seedless grapes
Balsamic vinegar for drizzling, ~ 1 TBSP

Blend 3/4 of the melon and 1 cup of grapes in a blender until smooth.

Add salt and lemon, blend. Pour into a bowl.

Cut the remaining melon 1/4 into small pieces or use a melon baller.

Float melon pieces and remaining grapes in liquid. Serve into bowls and drizzle with balsamic.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Soup, Salad, and Tart, Part 2

This week the weather was cooler, so we turned to heartier fare: warm, roasted vegetable salad, Swiss chard soup, and apple peach hand pies. The kids are getting into the idea of themed dinners and remembered that last week we did variations on the same courses. It's fun to watch them compare meals and become educated eaters.

Warm Roasted Vegetable Salad

1 large eggplant, cut into 1/2 to 3/4" cubes
1large onion, cut into 1/2" cubes
1/2 beet, cut into 1/4" cubes
2 zucchini, 3/4" cubes
4 medium tomatoes, 3/4" cubes
6 minced garlic cloves
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
3/4 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 225.

Toss all ingredients together and spread out on a cookie sheet. Bake for 4 hours, stirring once halfway through, adding more oil if it looks dry. Taste at the end and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Cream of Swiss Chard Soup

1 large onion, chopped
1 TBSP olive oil
2 bunches Swiss chard, washed and thick stems removed
5 to 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
6 small potatoes, cubed into 1/4" pieces
1/2 lime, juiced
salt and pepper to taste

Sauté onion in oil until starting to brown, ~ 10 minutes.

In a large pot, add onion, Swiss chard, broth, and potatoes, and simmer for ~ 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are soft.

Using an immersion or regular blender, blend until smooth. Add lime. Add salt and pepper if necessary.

Hand Pies

This recipe makes twelve 3-bite-sized pies, or enough for 6 people for dessert.

Preheat oven to 350.


2 cup flour
2 sticks salted butter, frozen
1/2 cup ice water

The dough can be made by hand or in a food processor. See either step 1A or 1B, then go to step 2.

1A. If using a processor, cut butter into slices and put it and the flour into a food processor. Pulse until roughly blended but there are still small chunks of butter. Add water. Pulse briefly. 

1B. If doing by hand, cut butter into slices and put it and the flour into a large mixing bowl. Using your fingers, break butter into the flour until it is pea-sized. Then rub butter chunks into flour until it is evenly broken up and the entire mixture looks like coarse cornmeal. Add water while stirring with your hands for a few brief strokes.

2. Dump onto a lightly floured tea towel. Using your hands, bunch into a tight ball and then flatten with the palm of your hand into a round disc. Let it sit 30 minutes. 


2 cups apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
2 TBSP sugar
1/2 tsp. garam masala or cinnamon
2 peaches, peeled and sliced thin

In a sauce pan, add apples, sugar, and spice. Cook on low, approximately 20 minutes, until apples reduce to a thick sauce. Stir frequently and break up chunks with a spoon. 

Have peaches sliced and ready to go for the next step.

After 30 minutes, roll out dough into 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness.

Cut into 12 squares. Fill each one with a dollop of the apple mixture and top with 2 peach slices. Fold over and crimp closed.

Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until starting to brown.

Serve with wine sauce (see link for variations on this recipe, as well) and creme fraiche or bourbon peach sauce.

Bourbon Peach Sauce

2 peaches, sliced thin
3/4 cup bourbon
2 TBSP sugar

In a small sauce pan, sauté all ingredients until peaches are broken down and lumpy, ~ 20 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes. Serve with hand pies.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Soup, Salad, and a Tart, Part 1

Sometimes, it gets a little difficult to keep coming up with new recipes. If we know exactly how long it will take to make quiche or pasta with any of three sauces or to whip up a batch of chicken soup, and we know exactly what our kids’ reactions will be to it, why branch out? When we began Cooking the Seasons, local and seasonal in New England was a challenge for us, but that’s starting to feel like easy old hat – partly because the offerings of local and seasonal products in Somerville have exploded in the past few years, and partly because we’ve gotten used to the flow of ingredients. Every once in a while, the CSA or the Farmers’ market offers something new that sparks (or forces) an experiment, but we’ve been with the same farmers at the market and CSA for several years now and we’re pretty much ready for whatever they have. So, when bounty doesn’t inspire newness, we decided restriction might. Don’t worry, though, we’re not really fans of restriction. Here’s our fall mission: meals made up of soup, salad, and a tart. The order can vary. Dinner salads. Dessert soups? It’s off to a pretty fantastic start with our Labor Day extravaganza: Gazpacho, Poke, and Rustic Tart.

Late Summer Gazpacho

Last week when we came up with the Gazpacho recipe, I still had a cucumber from the garden in my fridge, and we somehow expected more to come. When we realized we were wrong, we toyed with, oh horror, grocery story cukes from some other region, or country! Practicality rather than politics ended up making the decision (Labor Day lines at the supermarkets are daunting), and boy are we glad! The intensity of flavor of an all-tomato base, and the surprise of corn and edamame that we turned to when we realized we needed a little extra volume, are truly fantastic. This is a time-intensive recipe because of the dicing, but it's not difficult. If you are in a hurry, a food processor can assist, but it’s worth taking the time to chop by hand, in our humble opinion.

Serves 10-12

8 large tomatoes, diced small
2 peppers (any color, variety is nice), diced small
2 small red onions, diced small
3 ears of corn, kernels cut off
½ cup edamame, steamed, then shelled
1 teas. jalapeno, minced (or more to taste)
1 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
1 bunch parsley leaves, chopped
3 medium tomatoes, blended into a juice
2 limes, juiced
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp salt

This works best if the vegetables, especially the tomatoes, have been chilled in advance.  Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.  Cover and chill at least 30 min and up to several hours.  Juices will accumulate at it sits.  Stir just before serving and serve cold, with croutons.


½ loaf bread (stale or fresh), cubed
2 tsp. thyme (fresh or dried)
2 T olive oil
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced

Spread cubed bread out on a baking sheet.  Bake at 300 for 30-45 minutes, until toasty crunchy all the way through.  Toss remaining ingredients onto cubes and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, stirring once, until fragrant. Cool before serving.


This recipe is inspired from leftovers. On one of our sushi-making evenings, we had more rolls than we could possibly eat and still had lovely filling ingredients all chopped with nowhere to go. So, we threw it all into a bowl, added a sesame oil dressing, and all agreed it was the best part of the meal. This time, we cut to the chase, skipped the rolls, and mixed it all together from the first.

We got the salmon from New Deal Fish Market. Cocktail Dave was sent to get three pounds of fish, at least some of which was salmon. When they brought out the whole fish and started filleting it, he forgot all other species and went with only salmon, much to this recipe's benefit.

Serves 10-12

3 lbs salmon, cut into ½” cubes
5 avocadoes, cut into ½” cubes
2 mangoes, cut into ½” cubes
1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
2 red onions, chopped small
¼ cup sesame seeds

Mix all ingredients together and toss with sauce made of:

½ cup soy sauce
¾ cup mirin
¼ cup toasted sesame oil

Let sit in sauce for 10-15 minutes before serving

Peach-Raspberry Rustic Tarts

Serves 10-12


2 cups flour
2 sticks butter
1/2 cup ice water

This recipe makes two tarts. Cut the butter into the flour using a pastry cutter or two knives in a cross-cut pattern. Cut until butter is about the size of beans and peas. With the flat of your hand, quickly rub the mixture between your palms. Do not overmix; it’s ok if there are still some butter chunks. Add ½ cup ice water and quickly mix with fingertips. Flour a pasty cloth or dishtowel and put half of the dough into it. Usee the cloth to gather the dough into a tight ball, then flatten it with the palm of your hand. Flour the top of the dough and roll it to just under the size of a cookie pan. Use the cloth to flip the dough into the pan, then pull the cloth off. Fill with fruit (recipe below) to about 1-1 ½ inches from the edge. Then flip the edge over, creating a kind of skirt around the edge of the tart. Repeat with the other half of the dough to make the second tart. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes, or until the crust just begins to brown.

Peach-Raspberry Filling #1

2 cups sliced frozen or fresh peaches
4 T sugar
3 fresh peaches, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
1 cup raspberries

In a saucepan, mix the 2 cups frozen or fresh peaches with the sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Using a ricer, mash to get a pulpy mush. To fill: lay peach slices on dough, sprinkle raspberries over peaches, then top with peach mush. Close off crust as described above.

Peach-Raspberry Filling #2

2 cups raspberries
5 T sugar
3 fresh peaches, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds

In a saucepan, mix the raspberries with the sugar. Bring to a simmer, then cook on low for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

To fill: lay peaches on dough, then pour raspberry sauce over peaches. Close off crust as described above.