Pickled Asparagus - Paul Grimes Style!

Our friend Paul Grimes (food stylist for Gourmet, The New York TImes, & 100s of cookbooks) came to visit us at the school this week and taught two Asparagus classes using the asparagus we've grown in our kitchen garden and some more from our friend Paul Steinbeiser. The classes were a blast and one of the favorite recipes was this simple pickled asparagus. We can't wait for Paul to come back to teach us some more.

 

Paul is authoring a ShortStack Cookbook on Asparagus, look for it spring 2017. Wanna see Paul in all his Gourmet glory? Check this out!

Pickled Asparagus

2 lb asparagus, trimmed and halved crosswise
1 ¼ cup water
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup brown sugar
4 tsp salt, divided
1 tsp fennel seed, toasted and coarsely crushed
1 tsp coriander seed, toasted and coarsely crushed
2 fresh bay leaves
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 strips orange zest (1 by 3-inch)
¼ tsp black peppercorns
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
4 whole cloves

Put all ingredients except asparagus in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and let sit 30 minutes.

Transfer asparagus to an 8-by 8-baking dish. Reheat vinegar and pour over asparagus. Let sit about 1 hour.

Spring Tonic!

Our first garden workshop is this weekend, until that labor pays off (and it will!) we're foraging for every green thing we can find!

I used to say that fall was my favorite season, with it’s colorful painted leaves and crisp edge to the air. And, that’s still true, sorta. There is one week in the fall that is my favorite. It happens, often but not always, around the 12th of October. The rest of the fall is not so great. But if we only have four seasons, then the fall is still my favorite because of that week. Now that I’ve been living outside the big city for several years I’ve come to see that we do not just have four seasons, we have more like 35 micro seasons, most of which happen between March and November.  There is the one in June in which the summer’s first berries start to glow like gems and a thick cloud hovers over the fields every morning. There is the one in late August when it is so hot that the air feels like baseboard heat at six in the morning and the tomatoes are warm on the vine by breakfast. Then there this one. The one that is happening right now. This micro season yields loads of asparagus and  foraged wild greens like dandelion. By adding some vinegar and salty cheese, the bitterness of the dandelion is balanced and makes a great spread on crostini or as a sauce for your favorite pasta. It’s a wonderful way to celebrate this micro season for exactly what it is and has to offer. -IK Dandelion Pesto Makes about 1 cup 1 small garlic clove 1/2 cup pecans 1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 4 cups dandelion leaves 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil With the motor running, drop the garlic through the tube of a food processor and let the garlic bounce around until it is finely chopped. Stop the food processor and add the pecans, cheese, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, then pulse to finely chop. Add the dandelion and pulse to finely chop. With the motor running again, pour the oil into the tube of the food processor until it is all added and the pesto is smooth. Season the pesto with salt and pepper to taste. To use the pesto in pasta, combine it with about 1/3 cup of pasta cooking water to loosen before tossing with the cooked pasta.   

I used to say that fall was my favorite season, with it’s colorful painted leaves and crisp edge to the air. And, that’s still true, sorta. There is one week in the fall that is my favorite. It happens, often but not always, around the 12th of October. The rest of the fall is not so great. But if we only have four seasons, then the fall is still my favorite because of that week.

Now that I’ve been living outside the big city for several years I’ve come to see that we do not just have four seasons, we have more like 35 micro seasons, most of which happen between March and November. 

There is the one in June in which the summer’s first berries start to glow like gems and a thick cloud hovers over the fields every morning. There is the one in late August when it is so hot that the air feels like baseboard heat at six in the morning and the tomatoes are warm on the vine by breakfast. Then there this one. The one that is happening right now. This micro season yields loads of asparagus and  foraged wild greens like dandelion.

By adding some vinegar and salty cheese, the bitterness of the dandelion is balanced and makes a great spread on crostini or as a sauce for your favorite pasta. It’s a wonderful way to celebrate this micro season for exactly what it is and has to offer. -IK

Dandelion Pesto
Makes about 1 cup

1 small garlic clove
1/2 cup pecans
1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups dandelion leaves
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

With the motor running, drop the garlic through the tube of a food processor and let the garlic bounce around until it is finely chopped. Stop the food processor and add the pecans, cheese, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, then pulse to finely chop. Add the dandelion and pulse to finely chop. With the motor running again, pour the oil into the tube of the food processor until it is all added and the pesto is smooth. Season the pesto with salt and pepper to taste.

To use the pesto in pasta, combine it with about 1/3 cup of pasta cooking water to loosen before tossing with the cooked pasta. 

 

Down to the Bottom of the Root Cellar!

We're down to the last of what we've been saving from last fall's harvest. A couple purple top turnips have started to sprout and the cabbages and carrots have seen better days - well every day has been better for them than today. That is until I decided to add a killer slaw to tomorrow's class (Winter Favorites - USA Edition). We'll be slicing this up to serve with our balsamic sticky baby back ribs tomorrow morning! -IK

Hot bacon dressing makes everything better. Here, it helps cook the cabbage just so, taking away the raw edge. This dish is an easy way to use up a head of cabbage, and it complements almost any entree.

INGREDIENTS
1 2-lb. head of red cabbage
2 large carrots
1 jalapeno
1/4 lb. bacon, chopped
3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Quarter cabbage and slice crosswise, as thinly as possible, with a chef’s knife. Peel carrots and cut into thin matchsticks. Thinly slice jalapeno. Combine vegetables in a large bowl.

Cook bacon in a heavy skillet over medium heat until browned and crisp, about 7 minutes. Transfer bacon to paper towels to cool. Add vinegar, oil, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper to skillet and stir with a wooden spoon to blend, scraping up any browned bits.

Pour dressing over vegetables in bowl and toss to coat. Crumble reserved bacon and sprinkle over; toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spring Fling!

We are getting to the time of year when I start to get really tired of root vegetables. I just can’t wait for spring. I curse that God-forsaken groundhog and his stupid shadow. I ache for asparagus and watercress. The only solace comes in the form of satisfying meals. And in the anticipation of better, warmer days I’ve started a gentle introduction of raw vegetables into my otherwise, still wintery dishes.

Here broccoli brings a much-needed raw crunch to one of my favorite winter meals, sautéed sweet potatoes, rich caramelized onions and protein rich quinoa. Have fun with this when you cook it at home. Chop up some raw kale or kohlrabi instead of the broccoli or swap for the last of the butternut squash for the potato. Enjoy that chlorophyll-ic sensation and keep dreaming of spring. 

Sweet Potato and Raw Broccoli Quinoa

Serves 4

1 cup quinoa
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 small head broccoli, chopped
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Whisk in the quinoa and boil until tender and puffed, 15 to 18 minutes. Drain the quinoa and transfer to a large bowl.

Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium high heat until hot, then stir in the onion and sweet potato along with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onion is browned and the sweet potato is golden and tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the quinoa. Stir the broccoli and vinegar into the quinoa mixture and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.

Less-is-More Acorn Squash

Sometimes, the less you do in the kitchen, the better the outcome. This week we're roasting acorn squashes with garlic butter. It's barely even a recipe, but it sure is good!

Inspired by our friends Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion and their book KEEPERS!

Inspired by our friends Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion and their book KEEPERS!

Garlic-Parsley Butter Roasted Acorn Squash
Serves 4

2 acorn squash
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Halve the squash and scoop out the seeds. Rub the oil all over the squash, then sprinkle the cut sides with a large pinch of salt and pepper. Roast the squash, cut-sides down, on a parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet until golden and tender, 35 to 40 minutes. 

Butternut Squash Gratin

This recipe is a go-to for my family over the holidays. It is dead-simple to put together, can be made ahead and reheated, and makes stunning leftovers. It also has a bit of a surprise factor – the color and nutty sweetness of the squash makes it especially festive. - IK

Better than potatoes...

Better than potatoes...

Butternut Squash Gratin
Serves 8

3 lbs butternut squash, peeled and seeded
1 medium onion
11/2 cups heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 ounces grated white cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Thinly slice the squash and the onion using a slicer. Drizzle a small amount of the cream over the bottom of a 3-quart baking dish. Using half of the squash and onion, make layers, seasoning each layer with a pinch each of salt and pepper and a drizzle of cream until the dish is half full. Scatter half the cheese over the squash layers.

Continue making layers with the cream, squash and onion, seasoning each layer with salt and pepper. Drizzle the remaining cream over the gratin, then spread the remaining cheese evenly over the top.

Cover the dish with foil and bake until the squash is very tender, about 40 minutes. Uncover the dish and continue to bake until the gratin is golden on top, 15 to 20 minutes more.

Preserving the Harvest - Vermouth Edition

Last fall I got a call from Malaika, the farmer at Roots to River Farm, about radicchio. She'd been growing it. It was still in the field. There was a frost coming. Could I use a case or two?

Blushing in the late fall sun. 

Blushing in the late fall sun. 

I love helping out an organic produce farmer any time I can, but a case of radicchio, that's a whole lot of bitter salad. There was no way I could use it all up in the classes at the school in time. But I said yes, anyway. Young, beautiful organic produce farmers can affect me so.

I'd been to Barcelona not long before on an eating and drinking trip and had discovered Spanish Sweet Vermouth, devilishly delicious stuff that the natives drink every day at 4pm over ice with an orange wedge and a green olive. It is a ritual they call "taking vermouth" as if it were some kind of medicine. And with the secret formulation and infusion of countless herbs, roots, and spices, you could argue that it is just that. Unlike the dregs we get here, this stuff was complex and bitter-sweet, the kind of thing you'd really enjoy "taking."

The bitterness of the Spanish Vermouth often comes from gentian root or wormwood and brings balance to what would otherwise be just a sweet infused wine. Malaika does not grow wormwood or gentian. But boy, does she grow some beautiful radicchio.

Sweet, Bitter, Spicy - just like we like em'.

Sweet, Bitter, Spicy - just like we like em'.

Vermouth is infused white wine, even the sweet versions which look like red wine. I did a little research to come up with a local version, using herbs from our garden and some spices we have on hand including fresh chamomile leaves from Locust Light Farm - a local herbal CSA.

Key ingredient: Fresh Chamomile Leaves!

Key ingredient: Fresh Chamomile Leaves!

Finally, I borrowed a brewing pot from our friend Brendan Anderson, the brewer at Triumph Brewery in New Hope and got to work.

Field to Glass...

Field to Glass...

If you're coming to the school this fall or winter ask me for a taste of the vermouth. It's fantastic, really, and I'd be thrilled to give you a taste. -Ian

 

Preserving the Harvest - Cider Edition

Over a month ago I got a call from our friends at Burgess Lea about some apples. Buz and Janet operate their publishing house on the grounds of an old apple farm. Some of the trees are very, very old and were grafted with only one purpose in mind - cider.

Ripe. Ready.

Ripe. Ready.

Buz called them summer apples because they ripen earlier in the year than other varieties. He had far more than he needed or could use and offered them to me. There were far more than I could use, so I called Josh. Josh got his hands on a cider press and early one August morning we drove the pickup over to Burgess Lea.

Josh. Crushing it.

Josh. Crushing it.

We picked over seven bushels of apples, some big and blushed, others the size of crabapples with a tart-sweet pucker. We blended them together sent them through the gears of Josh's borrowed press, then poured the fresh cider into carboys where it bubbled away until now. 

There was no need to add yeast to the cider, like we would have to with conventionally grown apples. These are never sprayed and have a mottled bloom covering their skins - wild yeast that thrives on their hosts' sweet juice. The wild yeast took over, ate the sugars, and I'm left with a bone dry, crystal clear hard cider.

Hard cider, ready for the bottle.

Hard cider, ready for the bottle.

It's time to siphon off the hard cider, add a little fresh cider to encourage carbonation, and place it in bottles, freeing up the carboys for all those fall apples. Cheers! -IK