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Chowder breathes reassurance. It steams consolation. — Clementine Paddleford

Chock Full o Blueberry Muffins

oatmeal blueberries, 8:7:13

T’is the season. So gorge yourself on blueberries while you can. Pick-your-own, eat ‘em till you’re sick of them — out-of-hand and in everything from oatmeal to salad. Then freeze the rest to savor in these blueberry muffins when ground is frozen and you crave the taste of summer. (Find a pick-your-own farm near you here.) This makes Makes 12 muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour or toasted wheat germ
3/4 cup sugar
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cups fresh or frozen unthawed blueberries
1 large egg, preferably fresh and summery
1 cup milk, preferably local
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted local butter, melted and cooled

1-Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in center of oven.  Generously spray or grease muffin holes and top of tin.

2-In a large bowl, with a fork or whisk, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder and the salt. Stir in the blue berries. In a small bowl, mix egg with a fork, than stir in the milk and butter.  Mix the wet mixture into the dry mixture, JUST until just combined.

3-  Using wet hands or a spoon, loosely form the batter into about equal size balls, about the size of the tins. Drop each into a tin, then bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until they start to brown. Let cool thoroughly before removing from pan.

The Sweet Corn Bible in Ten Commandments

 corn2

Pictures from the wonderful Berkshire Food Journal. Visit them!

I         Only Eat Corn When It’s In Season Near You
The local corn season is short and sweet. So savor it while it’s available until you are fully satisfied. Start by celebrating each year’s harvest with a corn on the cob corn dinner, piling up cobs like cord wood. After that, eat it so often that when the frost comes you’re almost relieved to see it go. Then wait until next year. The flown in stuff doesn’t make the cut and waiting makes the local crop taste even better.

II         Buy it directly from the farmer or Grow Your Own
It’s a pleasure to buy from directly from those that grow it. Farmers markets abound in the country, city and suburbs, so you’ve got no excuse. But, if you don’t know where the closest one is, search one using this Local Harvest link.  And don’t forget to screech to a halt when you see a farm stand. Meeting your farmer puts people, not faceless corporations, back into the food chain.

Urban farmers out there: Grow your own. It’s a commitment, because you need a roomy backyard or a community garden. (You’re likely to be luckier than I was here in the country. A family of raccoons took one bite out of each cob as soon as it was ready to harvest!)

corn 3

III         Try Varietals
Sweet corn, the kind you and I eat in August, has been hybridized almost forever. Since the 80′s, SuperSweet corn, which can be up to 10 times sweeter than the conventional corn, has become hugely popular. I like corn that takes corny rather than just sweet, and you may have corn preferences too. So taste around. Eating all kinds of corn keeps a larger spectrum of it available, yielding more flavor choices and a bio-diverse world.

IV         Start with Corn on the Cob
When the first crop is ready for harvest feast on it in its purest form, so its flavor shines through. You can’t beat it steamed in water for 3 or so minutes then tossed with butter, salt, and pepper. Then move on to topping variations by mixing room temperature butter or (olive oil) with flavoring ingredients to taste.

Here are a few —
•White Miso Compound, a favorite in my house. Just stir in a touch of miso paste.
•Herb Butter, using your favorite herb, such as basil, or dill For Herb-Chive Butter add chopped chives or scallion greens.
•Garlic Butter. Simmer butter or olive oil with minced garlic.
•Lemon Pepper Butter or olive oil, using cracked pepper and lemon zest.
•Chipotle Butter, going light on canned minced chipotle peppers
•Parmesan Butter.
• Your new invention!

For a smoky flavor,grill corn. (See above!) Remove the silk but not the husks, and then soak before grilling. Or for a deeper smoke, grill husked ears directly. The browner the kernels the smokier the taste, But don’t overdo it, because you still want to taste the corn. (I like a cob grilled with some bright yellow and some nicely browned kernels.) Corning grilled over wood will add the best flavor, next best is charcoal and then gas.

V         Shuck More than You Need
Once you start shucking keep going.  I never shuck less than a six, because shucked corn is fabulous to have on hand. Steam or grill it for kernels to use in other dishes. (Or eat cold or reheated, as I’ve been known to do for breakfast.) Keep cooked corn in the fridge for a summer staple.

VI         Go Kernel Crazy
When corn’s in, its kernels add a sweet summery taste to everything. To remove kernels, husk, remove the silk, and then slice down the length of the cob with a sharp knife. Use already cooked corn, or you can steam or microwave kernels for a minute, then add into any kind of vegetable, grain, or cooked dried bean dish. Shave kernels right off the cob into any kind of chili, stew soup or salad.

Sweet corn and tangy lemon pair well in summer salads. Make a lemon dressing with 1 part fresh lemon juice to 3 parts olive oil, adding some minced garlic and a touch of mustard if you like.

Use on:

•A Summer Bean and Corn Salad with canned, drained and rinsed cannellini beans and halved heirloom cherry tomatoes, adding herbs for the garden if you like.
• Summer Bulgur Salad, with cooked bulgur, corn kernels and tons of chopped parsley
•Warm Rice Salad with warmed left over brown rice from your Chinese take-out restaurant, with kernels, cilantro and scallions  and freshly grated ginger. You can even add cubes of chicken or fish.
•Pasta salad with other seasonal vegetables and herbs, spiking it with vinegar and coarsely grated Parmesan.
•And don’t forget to add corn kernels to your favorite potato salad.

VII         Combine Corn and Tomatoes
Corn and tomatoes come into season together and were born to marry. Make a homemade tomato-corn salsa using chopped tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeños and a touch of garlic and onion. You’ll never look at the jarred stuff again. Enjoy fresh tomato salsa with corn pudding for which recipes abound. Shave lightly cooked corn kernels atop a tomato, mozzarella salad for a sweet and pretty hit that balances the acidity of the tomatoes.

 VIII         Entertain the Corn Way
Corn holds up to an entire meal, so go for it! Hold a potluck or cook your own feast with corn in every course. Remember it’s a long wait until next year so eat up. Or cut cobs in half and hold a corn variety tasting within a meal or on it’s own. Supply your own or have people bring their favorites.

IX         Take Corny Vacations
Visiting relatives or hitting the road this summer? Drop by a local farm stand or farmers market and pick up corn. Eat out at restaurants that boast of local corn. Top it off with by finding a corn maze in the area and bringing the kids, or the kid within.

X          Spread the word
Share stories about where your great corn comes from. That will help keep your farmer in business and their variety of corn alive and well. Besides, it pleasure to enjoy great food together.

“Sex is good, but not as good as fresh, sweet corn, “ says Garrison Keillor.

 

August Bites

photo copy

Bites from my Facebook page…

♥ Don’t miss my Summer Harvest Class Tuesday, Aug 5, Different Drummer in Northampton. Learn more and register here. I’ll will be showing the class how to grill, fry, stew and bake summer veggies to bring out the full flavor of the season. Grilled Eggplant Sandwich with Sesame Mayonnaise; Green Zucchini Fritters with Goat Cheese and minted yogurt, Southwest Savory Fresh Corn Soup Fresh with Poblano Chilies and Fresh Tomato Salsa. Tomatoes Provençal with fresh herbs, bread and cheese; Harvest Fruit Kuchen….

♥ Read Honey Sharp in the Berkshire Edge about Gideon’s Garden here

♥ Don’t forget to make Corn Pudding with Fresh Tomato Salsa here

Savor Romano beans as I did: Big thick Romano green beans from my garden — lots of ‘em, simmered for almost an hour with diced slab bacon, my tomatoes, onions and garlic. Melt in your mouth great… (more goodies below this picture.)Romano-beans-picked1

Savor the peach crop: Watch for the first of the freestone peaches to make this perfect dish. Drop into boiling water, immediately rinse and slip off the skins, section and saute very briefly with a touch of butter, sugar and your favorite fruit liquor. Light it or just tip the pan towards the flame to burn off the alcohol — careful now — then serve it over yogurt or ice cream.

Gardening anyone? Before and after. What a difference between my little community garden plot in May and July….

photophoto copy

 

 

Eggplant Heaven

eggplant dish chinese

Cooking eggplant stumps many of us, but like mushrooms it’s the meat of the vegetable kingdom — substantial, robust &  full of character — and so is well worth devouring. See below for everything do to with eggplant:)

This easy-to-prepare dish was lumped together with a bunch of other summer improvisations a few posts ago, but deserves its own page now that I have a picture.

Easy Improvisation Eggplant
This used the balance of my farmers market shop plus a few staples. Just saute about 6 sliced Asian eggplants over a very hot flame in a little oil and a couple of flattened garlic cloves, turning once until done, about 12 or so minutes. (Taste if you’re unsure. Better over than under cooked. Seared is good too.) Remove the garlic, if you don’t like it (I do), and lightly salt to taste.

Mix several very generous heaping tablespoons of hoison sauce with Siracha, a Southeast Asian chili sauce, to taste. Stir into eggplant. Look around for something fresh and bright. (I found cherry tomatoes and cooked corn.) Add and toss again with a nice drizzle of sesame oil.  Optional, or if I’d had them: Scallions, cilantro and ginger.

Eggplant unmasked (from my book, The Locavore Way)

Eggplant is available in various sizes and shapes— I especially enjoy skinny Japanese eggplant — all kinds of eggplant take
similar cooking techniques. Although it’s still open to debate,many people feel that eggplant is less bitter when it’s peeled and salted before cooking. All agree that salting keeps eggplant from absorbing too much oil. If you salt, blot dry before cooking.

Eggplant without recipes —

Pierce a few times with a fork, roast eggplant whole, uncovered, until quite soft, 20 minutes to 1 hour at 400°F (grill whole for a smoky taste). Or split and steam for a silky texture. When done, split and scoop out flesh, discard skin and seeds.

Make an eggplant “caviar” by chopping or mashing the flesh with olive oil, garlic, and other ingredients, such as
diced tomato, lemon juice, and fresh herbs.

Blend steamed flesh into babaghanoush or grilled flesh into smoky eggplant soup.

Dice and sauté in a summer stew, caponata, or an Asian flavored dish, as above.

Try slicing, then brushing with oil and grilling until soft. Use grilled slices for a tasty veggie antipasto, a no-fry eggplant Parmesan, or in a sandwich with garlic-basil oil and tomatoes or sesame mayonnaise and bitter greens.

Roll and stuff grilled eggplant slices, or layer with ingredients like local cheese, tomatoes, and basil.

Fry slices and add to any number of dishes. (Of course!)

 

More summer improvisations....

mugwort noodles with veggiesFriday night…

Noodles in Rosemary Oil with Market Veggies and Tornado Dust

The kitchen is mostly packed, but I left out a few vital items and happily Thursday is market day in West Stockbridge. Luckily, I still have my trusty rosemary plant out, ready to bring to my new home.

I threw this tasty vegetable mixture over pasta, but I’m sure it’s equally good over a thick slice of toast made with quality bread, rice or you tossed with cooked grains or boiled baby potatoes.

Amounts for this recipe are approximate, so go by feel: Briefly simmer about 1 tablespoon very coarsely chopped rosemary in about 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add a handful of chopped onion and a market basket baby zucchini, sliced on the diagonal. Cook over a medium high heat, shaking the pan occasionally until some of it is browned.

Add two or three tomato handfuls of wedges. Turn a few times with a clove or two of chopped garlic, just until the tomatoes melt a bit. Add salt and plenty of cracked pepper to taste. If you can also add a heaping tablespoon or more of Tornado Dust or it’s equivalent. (I get mine at my local bagel joint, Great Barrington Bagel.) Essentially, it’s the topping for everything bagels, and I had it left in my fridge, although most of my supplies are now packed.

Add about 1/2 a pound of mugwort soba noodles noodles (or your favorite pasta?) to plenty of boiling water, and cook until al dente. Drain and toss with the veggies, which should be fairly juicy from the tomatoes and zucchini. Eat immediately.

images-1Saturday night…

Naomi’s Classic Tabouli Improvisation

The queen of herbs, dear friend, primo herbalist and acupuncturist Naomi Alson, make this for us last night. The key, she says, it to add TONS of herbs.

Take a ton of parsley leaves with some stems from the garden or market, adding purslane, if you have it, as well as some dill and mint leaves too. Chop. Toss with cracked wheat, AKA bulgur, that has been soaked in lightly salted hot water and drained well. Toss with herbs. (There should be as much or almost as much herb as wheat.)

Add a handful of diced red onion and a couple of tomatoes. Toss again with freshly squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, salt and ground pepper to taste.

Best eaten that day, but fine the day after. It you like, add some pealed and diced kirby (pickling) cucumber at the last minute. Classic. Perfect.

 

 

Savory Corn Pudding with Fresh Tomato Salsa

Corn Tomato Soup

The browned cheese on the top and soft cornmeal on the bottom sandwich a custard studded with corn. Use an 8 inch square pan for a creamy texture or a larger pan for a firmer result. The accompanying salsa is also a favorite with chips (so double or triple it, if you like.) It leaves the canned stuff in the dust!  (From my first book, now out of print, One Pot Vegetarian Dishes) Serves 4 entrees with salad or 6 side servings

The Pudding
1/2 cup cornmeal, preferably stone ground and local
¼ cup shallots (or onions), chopped, whatever is local
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
l tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 pinch dried oregano or ¾ teaspoons fresh
2 tablespoons butter, local if possible
2 cups local milk
1-1/2 cups fresh local corn kernels
3 local eggs
1/2 cup local cheddar or Monterey jack

The Tomato Salsa
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1-1-2 tablespoons chopped shallots or onions
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced
l  to 2 jalapenos, to taste, seeded and minced, or 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
pinch salt

l. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Butter an 8 by 8 inch or gratin dish.

2. Combine dry ingredients: In a large bowl combine the cornmeal, shallots, baking powder, sugar, salt, cayenne, mustard, and oregano.

3.Combine wet ingredients: In a pot, heat the butter until mostly melted, about l minute. Add the milk, and heat until the milk is hot and the butter completely melted, about 2 minutes.

4. Mix wet and dry ingredients: Gradually pour into the cornmeal mixture, whisking to remove lumps. Stir in the corn, egg, and remaining tablespoon of cilantro.

5. Pour into the baking pan and bake until the top is starting to firm, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle the cheddar on top. Turn the oven to 375˚F, and bake until the pudding is set, about 15 minutes.

6. Serve: Accompany with the salsa, which should be made while the pudding is cooking by simply mixing the ingredients in a bowl.

Tossed Spring Greens

(Caretaker Farm’s greens. Picture by Berkshire Food Journal)

Vibrant Greens Galore

Even after several months of warmer weather, I still find myself swooning at the sight of all this green. Most years, even into late April, my young daughter has been known to yell “Look….. the ground!,” as our car speeds past small greenish patches surrounded by snow.

For the salad lover, the taste of spring greens are like those bare patches in the snow, the first proof that the long winter is behind us. Young salad mixes are one of the first edibles to rear up from the ground. From gentle Bibb lettuce to peppery arugula, they’re all full of flavor that comes naturally to greens in this cool climate. (Some farmers claim that cool nights and lousy soil give the greens a better bite!)

From now, sometimes until Thanksgiving (or almost), greens mixes, called mesclun, are available from gardens, farm stands, CSAs, farmers’ markets, restaurants and stores. Many local restaurants, are now serving house salads that feature a blend of local organic lettuces.  (Be sure to ask: “Is this local?”, so you can enjoy the best while supporting your local farms.)

A typical mix might include greens like romaine, curly endive, butterhead (or Boston), and curly green leaf, and reds like salad bowl, red sails ( a flat multicolored leaf), la rossa ( a frilly leaf), red oak (a pretty lettuce vaguely shaped like an oak leaf), and red romaine.  The rest is made up of more exotic greens or “bits” as they known are in the business, including: red chard, sweet baby spinach, red and green mustard, mizuna (a mildly spicy Asian mustard), bok choy (n the cabbage family), Hon Tsai Tai (an Asian green with a yellow edible flower), maruba santoh (a very light green), the peppery Italian arugala , and a surprisingly tender baby red Russian kale.

What are the secrets to dressing your fresh local greens?  I suggest keeping it simple, because these spunky local greens taste so great on their own, you’ll want their flavor to shine through. (That’s why the first dressing, which isn’t even a recipe, is my favorite with young spring greens.)

Mesclun Tossed 3 Ways
As a rule of thumb, 1/2 a pound serves 4-6 people; a large handful is about 2 ounces.

Amy’s Favorite dressing
The original Italian dressing is so simple it isn’t really a recipe, but it may also be the best salad dressing there is, so I can’t leave it out! The only catch is that you can’t really skimp on lousy ingredients, which should be no problem if you use fresh local greens, tasty olive oil and fresh lemon juice or a  good vinegar.

Local mesclun  (a generous handful a person)
Your best olive oil
Kosher or sea salt
Fresh lemon or your best vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper, only if the mesclun isn’t peppery

1-Toss greens in olive oil (hopefully one that smells of olives) and a generous pinch of kosher or sea salt just to coat.

2-Think of your salad like a dry martini. The oil is the gin. The lemon juice (or vinegar) is the Vermouth, don’t add much, just add a touch. Toss again. That’s it.

3-Taste a leaf. Adjust with extra salt if needed, but don’t add pepper unless there are no peppery greens in the mix.

Classic Vinaigrette in a Jar
The flavor is classic but the technique is All-American: just add and shake. This mild salad dressing lets the mesclun shine through. The recipe makes enough vinaigrette to dress a large salad (1 to 1-1/4 pounds) for 8-10 servings. For smaller salads, add enough just to lightly coat the leaves. Always shake well before use to re-emulsify the dressing. Leftover dressing is great to keep on hand for quality salads in a flash. Or enjoy left- over dressed salad on a baguette with fresh local tomatoes. A soggy delight!

l/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
about l small shallot minced (2 tablespoons)
l teaspoon Dijon vinegar
l/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Add all the ingredients to a jar and shake vigorously. Use about a scant tablespoon per serving, or just to coat. Always shake before using.

Serious Garlic Dressing
This will very dress about l/2 pound of mesclun, serving 4-6,  and is best used right after it is made. It is also tasty on bitter greens, like escarole.

4 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
l tablespoon balsamic
2-1/2 tablespoons olive oil

l. Using a fork, very coarsely mash the kosher salt together on a small plate. Stir in the vinegar and then the oil.

2. Add the mesclun to a salad bowl. Pour the dressing over the greens, using the fork to prevent the garlic from falling in.

3-Toss and serve immediately.

 

Spring Toss

Toss the first of spring watercress with the fall of the apples.

I lived in my 1810 house for 20  years before I had the sense to look down at the spring behind it and recognize fresh watercress. There it was, looking just like the store-bought stuff, but younger and fresher.

If you live near very fresh running water, likely you’ll find it too. Harvesting requires leak proof boots, a long reach, or the willingness to get muddy. If you can’t find it, use the first of the spring greens.

I tossed the cress with the first of the garden’s chives and the last of the storage apples, Northern Spy, an heirloom variety from Bartlett’s Orchard, which still has some character and crunch left. The resulting combo needs no recipe really, but tastes of spring.

For each serving:

A handful of wild watercress or other spring herbs
1/4 of a big apple, skin on, diced
1-2 generous pinches of chopped chives
1 pinch kosher or sea salt
Olive oil
Vinegar, cider, white or red wine

1-Wash the watercress well in cold water, picking out any weeds or roots clinging to it. Spin dry. Toss with the chives and apple to combine.

2-Toss once with a pinch of salt and just enough olive oil to coat. Then toss a second time with just a tiny drizzle of vinegar to taste. Serve immediately.

***

Photos of the Oaxacan market: Just reinserted the memory card into my camera and there were the market pictures from my recent trip to Oaxaca. Click the link here, then check them all out, from fried grasshoppers to chilies galore. Below is the wild watercress in my backyard.

Local vs. Organic

When buying the apples used in this recipe or when shopping for any food at all, how do you decide which is better: Local or organic?

From the perspective of this locavore: Local organic and local sustainably produced foods are best. Understanding the meaning behind this answer will help you make good decisions when you shop.

Let’s start with organic, which may or may not be local. Food labeled organic is required to be grown, raised, or produced using federally mandated rules. These standards outline allowable and forbidden materials and practices, which makes good sense. But they don’t stress the integrated nature of farming, including the biological cycles necessary to healthy farming over the long haul. The organic label is also supported by strong agribusiness lobbies, which push for regulations to make their life easy (and our food not quite as safe).

Simultaneously, many of our local farmers are using safe, sustainable methods, which are the equivalent of or even better than established organic methods. (Their farms also boost our local economies and preserve our working landscape.)

They may or may not decide to become certified organic. If they opt out, it may be because their clients know and trust them, making certification unnecessary. Or perhaps they don’t approve of its bias toward big agribusiness; they can’t afford to follow the rules, which don’t encourage small farms; they use another accredited system, such as Certified Naturally Grown (see below); or they prefer to use their own, ecofriendly methods.

So again, that makes local organic and local sustainably raised both the best choices when you shopping. And, of course, knowing and trusting your farmer means you can ask questions about how they raise your food.

Digging Deeper — Naturally Grown? Two Meanings The term naturally grown is used two ways and so needs some clarification for the smart shopper looking to decipher labels. As mentioned above, it is an alternative certification to organic used by many environmentally conscious growers who have decided not to go for organic certification.

Indian Line farmer Elizabeth Keen,who uses the Naturally Grown certification says, Our certification process requires an application, a declaration of intent, a small fee, an inspection and the possibility of random tissue testing of produce. We are required to follow the written USDA standards but aren’t required to do the amount of paperwork involved and the fees are less…. We value our certification as it is an outside perspective on our growing methods that can make the consumer feel confident in how we grow our produce.

That is clear enough, but naturally grown is often bandied about more casually, such as in the You Tube talk about organic coffee that I attached to one of the last posts. There and elsewhere it is frequently used more generally to refer to crops that are grown using eco-friendly methods. Like the word “gourmet” it is vague and in no way a legal term, but is only as trustworthy a term as its source.

Trio of Spring Bruschette

Now that goodies are popping out of the ground in rapid succession, it’s time to lather toasted baguettes with everything local. So disobey your mom and play with your food. Fool with anything farm fresh, from goat cheese and sun-ripened berries in June to roasted butternut squash puree with fresh sage in October.

I made these three tasty variations with what was on hand here — sweet radishes and young arugula from the market, rhubarb from my garden and goat cheese from Rawson Brook Farm. (Undoubtably you have a goat cheese farm in your region.)

Serve these either solo or as a trio with drinks after work to stave off hunger pangs until a late supper. We savored them outside on a lazy spring evening, surrounded by greenery and buoyed by the late evening sun.

Each recipe makes about 12 bruschette, serving 2-4 before dinner.

Goat Cheese & Rhubarb Chutney Bruschette

There were two old rhubarb patches in the backyard of my old home when I bought it 30 years ago. So, I was always looking for things to do with my tangy crop. I often made tons of simple chutney and froze it in ice cube trays to enjoy as a condiment with cheese. Delicious.

About 1 cup finely diced rhubarb (1-2 stalks)
1-1/2 tablespoon finely chopped shallot or onion
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon coarsely grated ginger, packed
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
pinch of kosher or sea salt
12 slices of baguette
1/3-1/2 cup fresh goat cheese, room temperature

1-Slice rhubarb lengthwise 2-4 times, depending on its thickness, then across its length into a small dice. Measure 1 cup. Toss into a 2 cup glass measuring cup or small pot with the shallot or onions, sugar and ginger. Microwave or cook in a small pot over medium heat, stirring once or twice, until the rhubarb is soft, 1-2 minutes. (It’s nice if it still holds it shape, but don’t worry if it doesn’t.) Stir in the cider vinegar and salt. Set aside at room temperature or chill. (This can be made several days ahead of time if you wish.) If the chutney is watery, spoon off extra liquid.

2-Assemble just before serving: Toast 12 baguette rounds in a toaster or the broiler, turning once, until slightly crisp. Spread with goat cheese and top with the chutney. Serve immediately.

Spring Radish & Anchovy Butter Bruschette

This spring I seem to be tasting the classic combo of radishes and butter everywhere I go. The rich butter and crisp, slightly tangy radish complement each other perfectly. Spring radishes are ideal for this, as they can be overpowering and even bitter when it gets hot. And the anchovy gives it some salty style.

2-3 radishes
About 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4 anchovies, preferably salt-cured, rinsed and finely chopped or 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
12 slices of baguette
1 teaspoon chopped chives

1-Thinly slice radishes and soak in ice water. Mix the butter and the anchovies or anchovy paste in a small bowl to combine.

2-Assemble just before serving: Toast the baguette rounds in a toaster or the broiler, turning once, until slightly crisp. Spread each with the anchovy butter. Blot the radishes dry. Top each bruschetta with a radish round or two. Sprinkle with the chives. Serve immediately.

Arugula Pesto & Egg Bruschette

Enjoy the yin yang both in color and flavor — gentle farm eggs top the alert taste of arugula pesto. You can often find local eggs in the usual spots, like your local coop, farm stand or farmers market. Look in unlikely places too. I’ve spotted them in a bookstore and gas station. These local eggs were a happy surprise from my walk-away store, Serio’s Market in Northampton.

2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
Pinch salt or to taste
Very generous handful of fresh arugula leaves
3 tablespoons oil, or more to taste
2 tablespoons whole unblanched almonds
1 ounce hard Parmesan style grating cheese
12 slices of baguette

1-Chop the eggs by hand or pulse briefly in the food processor. Add a touch of salt to taste.

2-Add the arugula and oil to a food processor and pulse until well chopped. Add the almonds and cheese. (If the cheese is already grated, stir it later.) Pulse them all until coarsely chopped. Add salt to taste, if needed.

3-Assemble just before serving: Toast the baguette rounds in a toaster or the broiler, turning once, until slightly crisp. Spread the pesto on the bread. Top each round with a spoonful of egg. Serve immediately.

No Farms, No Food

Losing Farmland, State by State
Every minute of every day we lose two acres of farm and ranch land to development. Updated information on farmland loss during the last 25 years is in—with Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, New Jersey and Massachusetts topping the list of states losing the greatest percentage of prime farmland. Find out more about protecting our farmland at The American Farmland Trust.

One way to work on making your town farm friendly in Massachusetts is to join insure your town has a “right to farm” provision and to support your town’s agricultural commission. For more information contact Peter Westover: westover03@comcast.net

May Bites

Happy Belated Mommy’s Day Mommy (more below)
Ma  happy!

 

 

 

 

 

My next cooking class?
Mexican cooking this Monday.
Find out more here.

mole ingredients

Listen to my chive rap http://www.amycotler.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Chives.mp3">here. Chives are up everywhere!

images-1

16 ways to eat your spray-free dandelions here.

Shipping container Grocery Store as Farm…
Still mostly an idea, but an extraordinary one. Check it our here.

Slow Food Youth Network
Dogfish Kale Ravioli? Watch the sports of the local food movement to highlight our fish and seafood crisis and to encourage chefs to cook eco-friendly fish before there is no more fish left. Click here to watch.

Compostable Building Made of Mushroom Bricks?
Check it out here.

Happy Belated Mother’s Day
I may have lived a life in food, but my mom taught me more about cooking than all my years behind the stove. We snapped endless green beans at the counter, chatting about food (and life) We drove to a distant town to pick out perfect peaches at the farm stand.

In the summer, as the sky darkened, I watched her through our large kitchen window, grilling salmon teriyaki and smoking summer vegetables to serve with lamb kebabs. And she pulled off an Indonesian Rijsttafel.

Before she become a ceramicist, she got out her sculptural ya-yas by assembling multi-layered ice cream cakes. I can still taste one made with thin Famous chocolate cookies, coffee ice cream, Sarah Lee pound cake and chocolate syrup. And I remember her rushing into the kitchen to bring souffles out to her guests.

Wow, could she put on a party..

What did your mom teach you about food? Below: 1954, Entertaining right after my parents had our house built. My mom often gave dinner parties for 8-12. But thing again, she didn’t work outside the home. Sigh…..

new house ardsley friends of parents