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Handling living food is so inspiring and energizing it makes you want to cook. — Alice Waters

Fun from Facebook

Facebook?

For those of you who aren’t on my Locavore Way facebook page, where I post more frequently, I’ve selected some links from last month’s posts. (And I admire you for staying out of the Fray:)

Recipe at the bottom of this post…

images-1All links in orange…

Thinking about gardening but don’t have the land (or want company)?
Can’t wait to bike to the community garden community garden that I’m registering for this month. It’ll be the first year in decades I don’t have my own wonderfully sloppy garden, but I’m looking forward to gardening with others in my mini plot. What about you? Ordering seeds? (Johnny’s? High Mowing?) Joining a garden? If you live around Northampton, join me at the Grow Food organic garden for fun. Otherwise, to find a Community Garden near you click here.

March happenings
Berkshire Grown Maple Dinner on March 24th here. March 29th veggie fest here.

Sometimes humor is the only way….
Monsanto develops hardier strain of corn that yields 4X the litigation.

Good news for a change in school lunches here.

Time to join your local CSA!
What’s a  CSA? Click here. Need to find one? Click here 

2014 CSA shares are now available to new members!  Visit us at www.allandalefarm.com for more information.

Picture above  from Allandale Farm)

Roasted Vegetable Soup with Walnut Parsley Pesto
Just remembered this fun winter soup I developed for Joy of Cooking years ago. During that time I created a trillion soups, heaven for me, but tough on my husband who longed for something to chew on. Anyway, they may have left this stunning soup out of the final book, but it was a good one.  It is even better the next day. About 4 Cups

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Oil a baking sheet with:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Roast on the baking sheet, turning occasionally, for 20 minutes:
1 small sweet potato (5 to7 ounces)
1 medium onion, halved, with skin on
1 small carrot, peeled, cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 head garlic, cut through circumference, covered loosely with foil
Toss in a bowl:
1/2 pound beets, cut into 2″ pieces (l 1/2 cups)
1 to 2 small turnips, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces (l cup)
l teaspoon oil
Add to the baking sheet, and cook, stirring occasionally for an additional 40 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.
Remove and peel the onion, sweet potato, and garlic cloves. Place all vegetables in a pot with:
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
l/2 teaspoon salt
l/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Simmer, covered, until the vegetables are very soft. Blend until smooth in a food processor. Return puree to pot and heat. Serve very hot.
To garnish make a walnut parsley pesto. Puree in a blender until smooth, than add to each bowl:
2/3 cup packed parsley leaves
l/3 cup toasted walnut halves
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt

 

 

Indian Pudding

Sweet, slow cooked and back-to-the-womb satisfying, Indian Pudding is a New England classic. This version is adapted from an old James Beard recipe, using maple syrup instead of molasses along with local milk and freshly ground local flint corn. I used dried corn kernels from my Pioneer Valley Heritage Grain CSA share, which was ground into a coarse flour, but if you don’t have anything local on hand, use store-bought corn meal and cook it longer, as described in the recipe. It will still be delicious. Serves about 6

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
5 cups whole milk, scalded
1/2 cup freshly ground flint corn flour or any cornmeal
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried ginger

1- Preheat oven to 300°F. Butter a casserole dish dishes generously, reserving the excess.

2-Over a medium-low heat, scald the milk by warming it in a pot, then heating it until it has tiny bubbles along the edges but is not boiling. Slowly add cornmeal, whisking as you add it. Once it is all added, stir frequently until it is thickened, but still pourable, about 5-10 minutes for freshly ground corn, 15-20 for corn meal. Stir in the remaining butter, maple syrup, salt and ginger.

3-Pour into a lightly buttered casserole and bake in a 300°F. oven for about 2 to 2-1/2 hours, or until golden brown, even dark brown in spots, like he picture. (Tips: The finer it’s ground and the more shallow the baking dish the quicker the pudding cooks. With store-bought cornmeal this took about 2-1/2 hours, but the my local corn flour it took only 2. Indian pudding hardens as it cools, so make sure it isn’t hard when you pull it out.) Serve warm, as is, which is how I like it, or or traditionally with ice cream, heavy cream or even whipped cream.

It’s CSA time!
For the ultimate locavore experience, join a CSA, which is a Community Agriculture Farm. It’s the most direct way to connect with a regional farmer, nature and the flow of fresh, sustainably raised food right through the season.

What’s A CSA?
“CSA” stands for community supported agriculture. Although it denotes a kind of farming, the term has also come to mean the farm itself. CSA members, sometimes called shareholders, agree to support an environmentally responsible farm and farmer by paying upfront costs before the growing season.

Join a CSA and get a grocery bag or so of sustainably raised farm fresh food on a regular basis, usually once a week. Many CSAs also include a pick your own option on high labor crops, such as berries or cherry tomatoes. Pick-up days are especially satisfying if you can visit the farm, but even city slickers look forward to their weekly bag of startlingly fresh produce, and many visit the farm at least once a season. My book, The Locavore Way, has lots of information on CSAS, from how to decide if CSA membership is right for you to how to cook with CSA goodies.

How do you find a CSA near you?
Search for a CSA near you at the Robyn Van En Center. Or, if you live in NYC, use Just Food. In the Berkshires, where I live in Western Massachusetts, use Berkshire Grown.

Background
I was already a chef who understood fresh when, Robyn Van En, who co-founded the CSA movement in North America, and initiated me into the local food movement. Robyn’s Indian Line Farm was one of the first two CSAs in this country. She spread the word through talks and a $4 pamphlet that taught farmers around the county how to start a CSAs on their own.

Robyn has since died, but the CSA center at Wilson College which bears her name, estimates there are close to 2000 CSAs in North America. Here’s a good article about the CSAs and their history if you want more.

Sustainable Coffee
Continuing the subject of what locavores do about food that isn’t produced regionally but they won’t give up, here’s Short Talk about Sustainable Coffee. It’s worth noting that the words “naturally grown” are bandied about and that they can mean two things.

Last night, I unexpectedly brought this blog’s coffee and Indian Pudding together. My evening java kept me up late, so I coasted on the high by polishing off most of this Indian pudding. Hmmmm (and ouch!)

Moscow Borscht

Local Food News Below

Good Meat, Comprehensive New Book on Sustainable Meat
Learning About & Buying Sustainably Raised Local Meat
Berkshire Maple Dinner on March 24th

The Recipe

You won’t believe the depth and character of this meat borscht, a hearty meal-in-one soup from my book, The Locavore Way.  It’s a winter favorite in my house that continues to get better over the course of several days and freezes well, so double or even triple the recipe.

The recipe calls for chuck roast, which works well, but I use any cut from my 1⁄8 cow order, except the more tender steaks, sometimes adding the bones for flavor and then removing them at the end of the cooking time. The yogurt or sour cream topping and all the vegetables but the tomatoes are available now. And if you canned tomatoes last summer, you an add them too. Makes about 2½ quarts.

Preparation Tip: Use a food processor to shred the veggies, radically cutting down on preparation time.

3/4  pound beets
1-1/4 pounds boneless beef chuck roast (or any stewing meat), cut into bite-sized cubes*
Flour
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 quart water or beef stock, or some of each
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
3-1/2 cups shredded cabbage, any kind
2 carrots, diced or shredded
2 celery ribs, diced or shredded
2 small or 1 large onion,chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 to 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1½ to 2 tablespoons
Lemon juice
2 to 3 cloves garlic,minced
Generous salt and
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)

Optional Topping
Yogurt, sour cream or crème fraiche (optional)
Chopped fresh dill (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Wrap the beets in foil, and roast them until they are easily pierced with a fork, about 1-1-1/4 hours. Set the beets aside until they are cool enough to handle. Removing any remaining stems. Slip off and discard their skins, peeling any that stick. Dice the beets by hand or grate them in the food processor. Reserve.

2. Meanwhile, toss the meat in a bowl with a little flour until lightly coated. Remove the meat, leaving most of the flour
behind. In a large pot, brown the meat in one layer in the oil over medium-high heat, shaking the pan and turning the meat as it browns. (Do it in two batches if necessary.) Don’t worry if some sticks or if the meat doesn’t brown evenly.

3. Add the water and/or broth and tomatoes, and simmer gently until the meat is almost tender, about 1 hour or more. (Taste it!)

4. Add the vegetables, including the beets, and tomato paste. Simmer gently for another 30 minutes or until the meat is very tender. (If necessary, add extra water or stock to reach the texture of a thick soup.)

6. Season with the vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and sugar, if using. Simmer for 15 minutes. Serve with toppings if you like.

*If you use meat with bones, double the weight.

Local Food News

Check out Good Meat, a terrific book by fellow New Englander Deborah Krasner with a foreward by Senator Bernie Sanders. It’s a comprehensive reference book for the serious cook about sourcing and cooking sustainable meat, covering beef, lamb,pork, rabbit, poultry eggs and even side dishes. Recipes range from classic crowd pleasers like Hoisin Spareribs to out-of-the-box dishes like Kim Chi Soup with Fried Pork Belly.

Click here for another recipe using grass fed beef and lots more on sustainably raised meat.

Celebrate sugaring! Berkshire Maple Dinner Coming Soon on March 24th. Link here.


Sustainability Mexican Style

aa luc and familyThe Monzies family in their homestead kitchen, cooking us a superior lunch that included braised eggplant and fennel from their market garden, fig chutney from their tree, and a salad dressing made with their honey. The conversation was equally good, mostly about how to live a sustainable lifestyle, integrating good humor with a healthy combo of practicality and vision.

The couple lives simply on their land— next door to Luc’s father — mainly supporting themselves through a small organic produce store and installing gardens. But, they have plans for all kinds of projects, from raising chickens to growing a moringa tree coop.  Luc’s yearlong teaching CSA, where members built the garden and greenhouse, has morphed into a sustainable agriculture meet up group. I visited them last week to talk about the local food movement in The States. The movement is in the early stages here in Mexico, an exciting time. Follow them here.

dd luc inner courtyardThis feels a bit like a monastery garden, Mexican style. Luc’s extended family live next door, including Luc’s dad, his wife, their two children and his wife’s dad, who gave me a fist full of fresh rosemary and lavender before we left.

ii luc and grasshopperLuc holding up a giant dead grasshopper, a pest, he says, “Right out of the bible, the way they sweep in and destroy everything.”

ee luc 2 year old kaleThis kale plant is two years old and still feeding the family — hard to imagine…

hh urban farming 2 artichokeYes, that’s an artichoke in a bottle.
The water bottles serve as mini greenhouses, holding in the sun’s warmth, and to Luc’s pleasure, a great deal of moisture too. Urban gardening in the country seems a contradiction, but it serves a purpose: Water bottles are cheap and plentiful here, and Luc hopes to develop an easily replicable model for family gardening in town.

dd luck and papaya 2Papaya in Luc’s greenhouse.

cc luc green house

The greenhouse he built.

bb luc's wallNow that’s a wall! Luc worked in construction in the US and is determined to build his home out of adobe, using no metal supports.

ff-luc winter viewWinter view from the compound.

Thank you Luc and Maya for having us!

More good food from the Bodega Organica

maya at her store

Maya Lucas with organic produce at her store, La Bodega Organica,which opened last spring in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

After reading about the Good Food Cafe here, you might have been curious about the other half of the local food compound in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. The local food movement is comparatively new there, and it’s still possible for someone young (or young at heart) to start a local farm or food business on a tight budget. Pioneers like Maya and her husband Luc have helped pave the way bringing sustainably raised food to San Miguel.

What inspired you to start the store?
We wanted to create community while growing organic food here.

How do your products differ from others sold in San Miguel?
The prices are usually lower and we harvest almost daily.

Who are your clientele?
Friends, local neighborhood folk, people who live outside town and drive in, and of course a few supportive ex-pats.

Where do you want the store to be in 1 year, 5 years?
Right now we grow about 1/3 of what we sell, buying in the rest of the organic produce. By the end of 2014 we hope to grow as much tw0-thirds. We do not just want to be middle-men, and that way we can offer lower prices too.

How does what you do relate to the Good Food Cafe?
We are good friends, who divide our space and rent our businesses side by side. We sell them our produce and eat there all the time. The urban garden that I maintain provides the decor for the cafe seating in the outdoor patio. (Geneva, neighbor, friend and co-owner of the cafe says, “It is inspiring to see the bins of fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables that our good friends, and other local farmers grew. Everyday there is something new to add to a soup, or salad. You can really taste the quality in the simplest of dishes.”)

What are your favorite things to do with your ingredients that don’t require recipes?
Invite friends over and improvise!

Update!
Things are looking up!  Our the store sales have just about doubled in the last week in part thanks to the extra publicity from the urban gardening series…The urban course, talk at library and tour filled up and we are having to run a second course and tour… 

I am also installing a $4,000 urban garden with an automated drip system…This is helping us finish the front end of our house. We are going to have a living room by the time my mother-in law comes in two weeks!

bodega

About: The store’s sign with the hand painted veggies I love….

Below: Sign from the organic Saturday market in San Miguel, where Maya sells her produce. (The gorditas there were fabulous.)

 

 

good food cafe carrotscabbage lecuhuga

The Good Food Café

A new generation takes the reins.

good food cafe staff

Picture above: Good Food Café’s crew in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Co-owner, Geneva Gray, is holding her daughter, Sianna. Left to right: Alicia Luna, Geneva’s sister-in-law and Geneva’s right hand gal. Alejandro Hernandez, her husband and main taste tester, who runs the store, which features locally made foods. Standing in the front is Salud Perez, who does everything that has to do with numbers and spreadsheets. Behind her is Rachel Kastner, the baker, who will be running the café side of the business while Geneva and her family are visiting her parents in the USA. (And working on Alejandro’s green card.)

Driving the good food revolution in Mexico.

A new generation of good food mavens have left the US moved to Mexico, where it’s more affordable put to down roots and start a farm or food business.

Geneva, co-owner of Good Food Cafè is an unlikely candidate for the ex-pat lifestyle. Her small-town upbringing in West Stockbridge didn’t include travel, and no one in her family owns a passport.

But in her teens she began to work in town for Scott Cole, at Café Pomo D’oro.  From Scott, she learned about running a small restaurant with good food, great smells and friendly vibes. (And the best scones in the world.)

Then nine years ago she broke away from her roots, married Alejandro Hernandez and moved to Mexico, where they’re now raising their three kids.

Her new café’s simple menu features well-prepared foods and sustainably raised foods, including their own cured sausage and bacon. (I got to taste her fabulous sausage when Geneva graciously invited me to her daughter’s 6th birthday at the store, a fun combo of Mexicans and ex-pats all savoring juicy grilled foods and easy-going energy, kids running inside and out.)

The farm to table connection is evident in the menu. Geneva’s “favorite thing” is to walk into Bodega Organica next door to see what is fresh and in season.

For lunch, I enjoyed a tasty dairy-free Green Soup, which is “always made with what’s best next door,” says Geneva. “I think that version had broccoli, kale, zucchini, carrots, onion, celery and some fresh herbs.”

The soup was accompanied by a bright jicoma salad with a ginger dressing. Locally produced food, like yogurt and jams, as well as bakery goods made on premises dot the restaurant’s perimeters.

Geneva and her husband also have a homestead where they grow some of the vegetables for the café. They have goats, rabbits and chickens. “It is really for our own sustainable life, but we hope to grow and produce more and more for the café and store.”

 

good food cafe yogurtTasty locally produced yogurt, Alejandro’s domain.

Interview with owner Geneva Gray —

Tell us when and why you opened your place, The Good Food Café in San Miguel de Allende?
I opened the café this year because I love to feed people. Also, I wanted a place where people could eat classic American “comfort food” — a real turkey sandwich, chicken salad, homemade soups, but in a healthful way. You can’t really find that here.

What’s the farm to table connection at The Good Food Café
Our goal at the café is to source as much as we can from local farmers. Our very good friends here, Luc Monzies and Maya Lucas, are farmers.  We share the space with them next door, and have wanted to do a farm to table project together for years. (Note: You may remember Luc from previous posts. Link here and here. )

 

good food cafeTasty jarred goodies

What inspired you to open the café?
At first it was the connection with the food, because I really love to cook, but then it became the connection with the people. We have met such interesting, supportive, kind people. They make a point to come and support us, check up on how life and things are going and spread the word.

Who are your customers?
Down to earth gringos. But really, mostly foreigners, US, Canadians, and Europeans, but we also have some Mexican regulars that have supported us from the beginning.

What do the Berkshires, Massachusetts, where you were raised, and San Miguel have in common?
I have always drawn similarities from the two places, they are both around the same distance from a big city and get a lot of seasonal tourism, second home owners and foreign visitors. They are also foodies, and artists. We also have a large community that supports local organic agriculture. They have very similar vibes.

What are your dreams and aspirations?
Our dreams… we have so many! Keep café and store producing quality food that I know is healthy and wholesome. I also study nutrition and work with a group of parents of Autistic children. We are in the process of becoming a non-profit and I coach parents on diet….Mostly we just want to be good role models for our children so they can follow their passion and live fulfilling lives.

Rancho Orgánica excéntrico (y delicioso)

Rancho Toyan , right outside of San Miguel, Mexico,is primarily a vineyard. But Maya Lucus, of La Bodega Organica, drove me there to  check out their Michoacán style 80 peso buffet ($6), prepared with food grown and raised on the ranch, as well as to shop at their staggeringly aesthetic organic market.

Both held on Wednesdays, they’re the best kept secret in San Miguel de Allende.

toyan entrance

We were greeted with a tree lined road, reminiscent of vineyards I’ve visited, but with a touch of magic realism, as you see below…faces in the trees and gilded angels guarding the vineyard beyond.

toyan tree

toyan pots

Our buffet with a display of clay pots and plates.

toyan food

My favorite dish. Cooked greens, surrounded fresh cheese, fried and served in a rich chili sauce. A vegetarian heaven here in Mexico, where it feels as if there are 10 butcher shops for every produce market.
toyan eggs

The ranch, about twenty minutes out of bustling San Miguel, is a tranquil world away. Wednesday is market day, with an impeccable indoor display of farm products, including these eggs, chickens and lots of produce.

toyan pot

Doesn’t that look good? It is! Fabulous beans from the buffet.

toyan torilla

Making fresh tortillas with organic corn grown at the ranch. These blow away even the best Mexican tortillas, which are miles above those in the US.

toyan market

Chairs intermingled with an organic looking display, which is part of the market.

toyan atole

Atole, a traditional corn-based mesa drink that is often seasoned with spices.  Here it’s plain with a chunk of sugar an the side.

toyan my haul

My haul from the ranch’s Wednesday organic market. Tomatillos in the center. Bag of spinach in the back. The ranch’s tasty popcorn on the left, which pleased my husband, who is a popcorn addict. The Greens are chard. Couldn’t wait to get those warm tortillas home…

toyan maya and condiments

Maya — who introduced me to Toyan—with condiments in the foreground, helping herself.

toyan spinach, garlic and squash

Spinach and garlic in the market, with squash in the background.

toyan leavng

Leaving Toyan. My husband, who spent his teen years in Mexico, yearns for this sky during our grey winter in New England.

Making Mole in Mexico

chicken moleThe tasty mole prepared by Margarita Granado made in Honey Sharp’s kitchen in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

mole ingredientsMole ingredients (both pictures by Honey Sharp)

Years ago I made turkey mole from scratch. It took me the better part of the day, with results that didn’t seem to quite match the effort. (Or at least my guests didn’t think so. )

This quicker version makes plenty of tasty red mole sauce — complex, a touch hot, fruity with the dark flavor of chilies — which can be used over anything that moves you. Like her grandmother, Margarita, prepares it using mole paste from the market as the recipe’s core, then doctoring it with local ingredients to give it depth.  (You can find mole paste at many Latino food stores or on line.)

It was served over poached chicken breasts, which was delicious, but I might prefer it with turkey, chicken thighs or pork — poached, grilled or roasted — because they would stand up to the sauce’s intense multi-dimensional  flavor. (Note. Make it ahead, as the sauce gets better over several days.) Serves 8 or more (easily halved)

Chicken
8 chicken breasts or 16 thighs, skinned and boneless or with bone in
salt
1 carrot, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced

Mole
3 dried peppers: 1 pasilla, 2 cascabel, 2 ancho, all seeded and steamed1 slice of onion
1 tomato, quartered
1 tomatillo, quartered
1/4 banana, sliced
1/4 apple, pealed and sliced
About 3 ounces chocolate, divided
1/4 cup peanuts
1 clove garlic, chopped
About 1-1/2 tablespoons flavorless oil
About 3 ounces of Mexican chocolate (or dark chocolate with pinch of cinnamon)
About 1-1/2 cups prepared red mole paste
4 – 5 plain crackers
Pinch cloves whole
Pinch marjoram
3 whole allspice
1 small bay leaf
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
salt to taste, if needed

1-Assemble all the mole ingredients.

2-In a pot, cover chicken with about 1-inch of salted water. Add the carrot, onion and garlic. Cook, covered, at a low simmer until done all the way through, about 20 minutes. (Check if you need to!) Turn off heat.

3-While the chicken is cooking, saute the peppers on both sides in a dry pan. Remove to a bowl and cover with water. Reserve for later use.

4-Cook the onion, tomato, tomatillo, banana, apple, peanuts, and garlic in the oil . Cook over medium heat until soft, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes. Add about half the chocolate and stir.

5-Add the cooked ingredients, drained and sliced chilies, chili paste, crackers, herbs and spices, and half the cinnamon to a blender. Blend with just enough stock from the simmering chicken to allow smooth blending.

6-Strain the sauce into a pot, pushing down on the ingredients to extract their goodness. Simmer for about 10 minutes, adding the remaining chocolate and cinnamon to taste. (Add salt, if needed, a touch more of stock if the sauce is too thick.)

7-If you used bone-in chicken, remove the bones. Serve chicken covered with sauce, accompanied with plenty of rice. (Remember, this sauce gets even better over the next few days…)

Spuds

potato wedgesOne of my favorite recipes —Roasted potato wedges —  at this link or simply improvise below with directions below.

More spuds? Sure!  Simple culinary improvisations are like love letters to their ingredients. On a winter day, no ingredient deserves that love more than the potato. Here are some of my favorite classics for the tuber that nourishes even the chilliest locavore right through this season.

Where to find ‘em? My local farmers market in Northampton has them and so does yours. Many food coops and winter CSAs still have them too.

5 simple potato improvisations that satisfy

These open recipes allow you to shift portion sizes and seasoning ingredients to your taste.

Potato cooking hint?
This is no occasion to hold back: potatoes love salt.

1- Roasted Rosemary Potatoes
Cut waxy or flaky potatoes into similar sized chunks with their skins on. Toss with olive oil, kosher or sea salt, freshly ground pepper and fresh or dried rosemary (not too much rosemary). Roast in preheated 425-degree oven on a baking sheet, shaking once or twice, until nicely browned on the cut ends.

2-Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Peel baking potatoes and cut into a large dice, keeping the pieces about the same size. Boil in generously salted water until about half cooked. Throw in pealed garlic cloves, 1-2 per potato, depending on how garlicky you like it. Continue boiling until the potatoes and garlic are soft. Drain. Mash — adding milk or cream or butter or all three, as well as salt and pepper  — until you reach desired taste and texture. (Tip: Some folks love red potatoes for this, as you don’t have to peel ‘em. Optional: Add Parmesan, but salt to taste after adding it.)

3-Warm German Potato Salad
Steam small whole waxy potatoes, such as red bliss, over generously salted water until they can easily be pierced with a fork, but aren’t falling apart. Halve or quarter. (Or for a denser, starchier salad, peal and dice russets.) Meanwhile, cook a few bacon strips, adding some thinly sliced red onion. Sprinkle warm potatoes with the crumbled crisp bacon and onion mixture, adding some of the fat if you like. Gently toss with white wine vinegar, chopped dill, grainy mustard and plenty of salt and pepper — all to taste. — so that salad is tangy. Add a touch of sugar, if you like.

4-Country Potato-Leek Soup
Cover diced potatoes and leeks in chicken or vegetable stock (or water if you have neither). When they are soft, add a pat of butter, plenty of salt and pepper to taste and more liquid if needed. Optional: Add chopped parsley or any greens at the last minute.

5- Baked Potatoes 2 ways
With Cottage Cheese and Scallions: Poke baking (Russet) potatoes with a folk. Roast at 400 degrees until cooked through, about 45 minutes. Cut off their tops, lengthwise, then scoop out their middles, leaving the skin with about 1/4 inch of the “meat”. Mash with fork, adding cottage cheese (or ricotta), chopped scallion greens and plenty of salt and pepper to taste. Stuff the potatoes. Return to oven and bake until piping hot. This is light. Like it richer? Add butter or sour cream to the mash. Sprinkle with cheddar or any cheese before baking. Love greens? (I do.) Add chopped steamed greens to the mix.
Roasted potato wedges: For left-over baked potatoes. Cut in half lengthwise and then into 4-5 wedges. Sit on a baking try, face up. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with a mixture of your favorite spices, such as paprika, onion, garlic and chili powder, salt and pepper. Bake in 425 degree oven until browned and crisp.

Bonus: Don’t you love breakfast for dinner? I like to boil pealed dice potatoes with the best roots around, like celery root, carrots, sweet potatoes, diced as well, until a little under cooked. Then I drain ‘em to keep on hand to fry up for root veggie hash. Cooking up onion in some olive oil, then adding the roots to a cast iron pan over high heat, turning frequently until nice and brown, and sometimes adding spices, like cumin seeds, garlic powder, or whatever is on hand. (If you want ‘em super brown you can add some butter.) Serve under poached eggs for dinner with a splash of hot sauce.

potatoes, raw, ready to roast

Good Enough to Eat Beet, Blue Cheese and Hazelnut Wrap

1-beetsSBFarmersMarket_0026Savor this sophisticated warm winter wrap with local beets and cheese. If your beets come from storage so and don’t have greens attached, you can leave ‘em out or use any greens on hand.* (The recipe is from my book, Wrap it Up. (The link will steer you to an  independent bookseller near you, where you can easily order it. Or order it directly through Amazon.) Photo by Jason Houston.

 

l bunch beets with healthy greens* (about l-1/2 pounds total/ 4-6  medium beets)
l tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
4 thinly sliced red onion
l tablespoon plus l teaspoon red wine vinegar
3 large burrito size flour tortillas
2 ounces locally produced blue cheese at room temperature, about 1/4 cup

l. Preheat oven to 450°F. Cut off beet greens from the beets. Cut and discard stems. Wash and dry about 20 leaves, tearing each into 2 or 3 pieces, and set aside. Cut root end off beets and peel, using a vegetable peeler. Slice beets into 1/4 inch rounds and toss with l teaspoon oil. Lay out on a lightly oiled baking pan in a single layer. Roast until fork tender, turning once, 15-20 minutes total.

2.When the beets are done, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the hazelnuts, red onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until nuts are lightly toasted, 3-4 minutes, watching closely to avoid burning the nuts. Add the beet greens, vinegar, and toss frequently until the greens start to wilt, 1-2 minutes.

3. To assemble: Heat the tortillas, one at a time, in a large cast iron skillet or directly over a gas flame, turning frequently, until warm and pliable, about 15-20 seconds each. Spread (or sprinkle) a warm tortilla with about l tablespoon of the cheese. Top the center with about 1/4 of the greens, nuts, and beets. Fold in the sides and roll. Complete wraps with the remaining ingredients. Serve warm. If stored or transported, wrap in parchment paper or foil.

Make-Ahead/Take-Away:

The colorful beets bleed a little once the wrap is assembled, but  it reheated nicely up to a day later in the microwave in parchment, covered with a bowl, or in the oven, covered with foil, just until warmed through. Alternatively, the beets can be roasted up to 3 days in advance and the wrap assembled just before eating.