Rhubarb Recipe

Rhubarb Yogurt SauceWe are firmly rooted in rhubarb season and while my preferred consumption is via my morning raw juice, I do love rhubarb for it's astringent, bracing quality. Pairing well with fatty foods and delicious when raw, rhubarb is often overlooked as a staple and treated simply as an addition to cakes and pies. Big mistake! Here, a more simple rhubarb recipe highlighting the bitter qualities of rhubarb - a great place to start for anyone puckering at the thought of eating rhubarb raw - from my eBook series, Fresh Pantry. Get the eBook here, and the print book (full of seasonal references & growing tips) here.

I absolutely love yogurt, especially when served alongside a savory dish of roasted or heavily spiced meat. Here, yogurt is made into raita, a traditional yogurt sauce often made with cucumber and mint, but I’ve replaced the cucumber with small bits of rhubarb. Honey is added to the mix to round out the sour flavor of both the yogurt and the rhubarb, but it can be omitted if you prefer the tang.

Lamb Meatballs with Rhubarb–Yogurt Sauce

SERVES 4

LAMB MEATBALLS 1 pound ground lamb 2 teaspoons garam masala 1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon red chile flakes 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon dried oregano Freshly ground black pepper 3 tablespoons olive oil

Fresh-Pantry-RhubarbRHUBARB-YOGURT SAUCE

4 ounces rhubarb (about 2 stalks), trimmed and cut into a very small dice 1 cup plain yogurt 1 teaspoon honey ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Put the ground lamb and all of the spices except the nutmeg in a large mixing bowl. Using your hands, mix well until the spices are evenly distributed throughout the lamb. Shape the mixture into small meatballs, about 3 inches in diameter, and place them in a roasting pan (be sure to leave space between the meatballs). Drizzle olive oil over the top of the meatballs and put in the oven. Bake until golden brown, about 20 to 30 minutes.

While the meatballs are roasting, make the rhubarb raita. In a small bowl, combine the rhubarb, yogurt, honey, and nutmeg, stirring to combine well. Set the mixture aside.

Remove the meatballs from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving alongside a bowl of rhubarb raita.

PANTRY NOTE: Lamb meatballs can be made ahead and chilled until ready to use, up to three days. Leftover rhubarb

 

 

Crispy Squash Croquettes

crispy squash croquettes I love this recipe from my book Fresh Pantry. It is a clever way to use winter squash, changing the texture from something soft to something crispy, which is universally appealing. The smaller the croquette, the more crumb-to-squash ratio, so if you're making for kids who normally steer clear from veg, start small - a little trick!

You can check out the book at your local library, purchase a copy at an independent book store, or download the chapter at my eShop for $2.99.

Crispy Squash Croquettes

Croquettes are little fried patties, typically made with boiled potatoes or fish. I remember eating potato croquettes as a kid growing up in New York. My grandmother’s Italian neighbor in Queens used to season leftover mashed potatoes and shape them into flat-sided domes, then shake them in a brown bag filled with bread crumbs. “Rita used to make hundreds,” my mom recalled, “and everybody loved them.” Inspired by this same idea, the squash here is steamed and mashed as a binder, then liberally seasoned before being shaped and briefly shallow-fried, only to brown the crust before they are finished off in the oven. These crispy croquettes are delicious. Using a starchy squash for these croquettes (such as Hubbard or kabocha) will help them hold their shape better. For frying, I use vegetable oil or olive oil interchangeably.

MAKES 8 TO 10 CROQUETTES

1 pound squash (Hubbard or kabocha), seeds removed and cut into large pieces 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 tablespoon butter ½ cup finely diced onion 10 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked and roughly chopped Pinch of salt FOR FRYING 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs 1 egg Splash of milk ½ to 1 cup vegetable or olive oil

In a large stockpot, add the squash and about 1 inch of water. (You don’t want to submerge the squash; you only want to provide enough water to steam.) Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let the squash steam until very soft, about 20 to 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and drain the water from the stockpot. Replace the lid so the squash continues steaming and set aside to cool.

In a medium sauté pan, heat the oil and butter over medium-high. When the butter starts to bubble, add the onion, thyme, and salt. Stir the onion mixture often, until very soft and brown, for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. Scoop the soft flesh from the squash pieces and add to the sauté pan. Mash together to combine well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Move the squash-onion mixture to a bowl and refrigerate until very cool, preferably overnight but at least an hour. (Cooling the squash will help the croquettes maintain their shape later, so don’t scrimp on time here!)

Set up your frying station. Place the bread crumbs on a small plate. Beat the egg with a splash of milk in a shallow bowl to create an egg wash and set aside. Add about ½ cup of the oil to a deep-sided sauté pan and set over medium heat.

When thoroughly cooled, remove the squash-onion mixture from the fridge. Using a large spoon, scoop and shape it into football-like dumplings, working quickly so it doesn’t warm too much. Using a fork, gently coat the dumpling

in the egg wash and then immediately move it to the bread crumbs. Roll softly with the fork until the entire croquette is covered. Push it to the end of the bread crumb plate, then shape two or three more croquettes. Handle the croquettes as little as possible so they maintain their shape, and only shape as many as you can fry each time. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Test the oil for heat by dropping in a small pinch of bread crumbs. You want the oil hot but not smoking hot. When heated well, the bread crumbs will start frying immediately, though not vigorously. If they are only slightly fizzy, wait until the oil is a bit hotter before frying.

When the oil is ready, gently roll the croquettes into the oil, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. They will start to brown immediately. When one side is brown, quarter-turn the croquettes to brown another side. Work in this fashion until all sides are golden brown. The process for one croquette should take about 6 to 8 minutes total. When brown on all sides, remove the croquette with a spatula and slide onto a shallow roasting pan. Continue until all croquettes are done.

Put the roasting pan in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove and serve immediately.

PANTRY NOTE: These croquettes store well in the fridge, loosely covered, for one day. Any leftover mashed squash can be used in Baked Squash Shepherd’s Pie or as filling for Butternut Squash & Shrimp Dumplings in Green Onion Broth.

Cooking with Peppers

Fresh Pantry, PeppersTis the season for getting the last of the peppers. Now is a GREAT time to roast and freeze varieties that aren't available all year - sweet Jimmy Nardellos or fresh and hot cayenne or hungarians. You can also pickle pepper, or make big pots of pepperonata for winter stews and snacking. All of the below recipe ideas are available in my eBook, Fresh Pantry : PEPPERS, which also includes 14 recipes + essays on How To Grow Peppers all Winter Long and an instructional method for making Homemade Red Chile Flakes. For anyone reading this post, I'd love to offer it to you for $.99. Follow this special link to download and purchase. For now, the goal is fresh-eating - enjoy them while you can with these recipe ideas……. BAKED PEPPERS, TOMATOES & EGGS My perfect breakfast pairs a mass of vegetables with baked or fried eggs. Here, tomatoes and bell peppers are stewed with a generous mix of spices, drawing on the traditional North African dish shakshuka. A raw egg is cracked into the stewlike mixture and poached until just done. The goal is for the yolk to break and bleed into the peppers. You can bake this dish in individual ramekins or crack four eggs into a large sauté pan and cook them all together to serve a crowd.

Peppers, Amy Pennington

SEARED STEAK with QUICK PICKLED PEPPERS Here, perfectly cooked steak is succulent, seasoned only with salt and pepper. The beauty of this dish lies in the quick-pickled peppers. Choose peppers that have some heat—serrano, jalapeño, or even Hungarian peppers all work; you are only limited by how much heat you prefer. I like serranos for their medium heat and bright red pop of color.

Peppers, Amy Pennington

SEAFOOD BAKE with FENNEL BULB & PEPPERS I love this recipe for both its effortlessness and promised piquancy. An abundant portion of seafood is paired with a savory, thick pepper and tomato sauce spiked with preserved lemon. Caramelized onions and fennel bulb add yet another layer of flavor. Cut the fish into approximately the same size as the scallops and shrimp so they cook simultaneously. This elegant but quick-cooking meal is sure to impress. Healthy, light, and simple on its own, it can also be served with a bowl of pasta, the sauce spooned over.

Peppers, Amy Pennington

HOW TO :: IDENTIFY, HARVEST & COOK SQUASH BLOSSOMS

Squash Vine & BlossomsOne of the most frequently asked questions I get every summer is when and how to harvest squash blossoms. These brilliant tangerine-colored flowers can be cooked in broths, sautéed, or more commonly stuffed and dipped in light batters and fried. Every- one loves fried squash blossoms! Summer squash plants (all members of the Cucurbitaceae family, for that matter— cucumbers, pumpkins, melons, gourds, and so on) send out both male and female blossoms. Through pollination, male blossoms lend their pollen to the female blos- soms, and those female blossoms turn into the fruit of the plant. A plant will create more male blossoms than are necessary for pollination, and some of these may be harvested and eaten. (But if you eat all of the male blossoms, you will not have any fruit to harvest!)

Identifying male versus female blossoms is a reasonably simple task. Male flowers have stamens—a long, slender “stalk” that runs up the center of the bloom, tipped with a thick carpet of pollen. Male blossoms grow on long, thin stems from the base of the squash plant—typically about six or seven inches in length. By contrast, female blos- soms sit low to the plant and do not have a stamen. To harvest, cut the male blossoms at the base of their stems, as close to the plant as possible. You can use the stem in your cooking or trim it down to a few inches. (You may also harvest female blossoms, if you are trying to reduce the fruit of the plant or it’s early in the season and you wish for the plant to fully establish itself before fruiting.)

Use harvested squash blossoms right away, as they wilt quickly. If you need to store them for a short time, line a storage container with a linen cloth or paper towel and mist it until just damp. Lay out the flowers in single layers, leaving space between the blossoms, and stack them between layers of moistened towel. Store in the fridge for up to two days.

To prepare squash blossoms for cooking, I like to remove the stamen, particularly if the anther is thick, as it can taste quite bitter. (The anther is the tip of the stamen and contains the pollen.) To do this, use a small paring knife and delicately open the blossom to remove the stamen at its base or as close to the base as possible. Cook squash blossoms by dipping them into a light egg batter and frying, briefly, in a shallow pool of oil. Make sure the heat is high, as they cook quickly and you need only let the batter brown slightly before serving. For more crunch, roll them in bread crumbs (after dipping them into the batter) before frying.

You can also chop squash blossoms and add them to soups, such as Ricotta– Squash Dumpling Soup or Carrot Peel Soup. I have also had squash blossoms in a simple, light quesadilla. Heat a tortilla in a dry pan; when both sides are golden, add cheese and several squash blossoms to one side and fold in half, pressing the sides together. The cheese will melt and the blossoms will steam. Delicious!

[This article has been excerpted from FRESH PANTRY, so if you're looking for more tips & tricks for eating, growing and living seasonally, please check out my book!]

 

TGIF Cocktail Hour :: Citrus & Mint Fizz

It's FRIDAY! Time to squeeze some fresh citrus, bust out the cocktail shaker and invite a few friends over to unwind. No need to make it a big project, or turn it into a long night, but with TGIF Cocktail Hour, I invite you to slow down, socialize and sip. I'm starting this series with………stopyellingatme……….a non alcoholic beverage. Of course, you can mix some vodka or gin in here if so inclined, but truly - this drink stands on it's own and feels every bit as decadent without the addition of booze.

© Esra Paola Crugnale | Dreamstime Stock PhotosAt any party, I like to offer a non-alcoholic drink that is every bit as festive as a fancy cocktail or wine. I’ve been making this one for years after seeing a version in the New York Times holiday section. For this fizz-filled drink, a heavily spiced syrup is added to fresh orange juice, along with a drop of peppermint oil, to make a perfect savory, refreshing drink. You can substitute half of the lime juice for lemon juice, or use all lemon juice if so desired. The syrup can be flavored with many other spice options--try allspice, fennel, or even a red chile for some heat. Make extra--most guests will choose this over Prosecco.

Citrus & Mint Fizz Makes 4 drinks

1 1/2 cups sugar 1/2 cup water 2 tablespoons ground cloves 2 cinnamon sticks 2 whole star anise pods 3 thin slices fresh ginger 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract 2 cups fresh-squeezed orange juice 1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice

Fizzy water or Seltzer, for serving

In a small saucepan over high heat, combine the sugar, water, cloves, cinnamon sticks, star anise, and ginger. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar. Once all the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and set aside to infuse and cool completely. Once it’s cool, strain out the spices and stir in the peppermint extract.

In large pitcher, combine the orange juice, lime juice, and peppermint syrup. Stir vigorously until well incorporated. You will see little peppermint oil bubbles on the surface of the juice, so work to emulsify and whisk these in as best as you can.

In a highball glass filled with ice, add juice to the halfway-mark and then add fizzy water to fill. Serve immediately,  and stir well in between pourings.

PANTRY NOTE: Leftover syrup (as if!) can be stored in a small glass jar in the fridge for many weeks or even several months. You can use this syrup in place of sweet vermouth in a Manhattan, or try some with hot water and brandy for an updated version of a toddy.

Photo by: © Esra Paola Crugnale | Dreamstime Stock Photos Recipe excerpted from Fresh Pantry

Asian Noodle with Kale & Avocado-Miso Dressing Recipes

Kale & Avocado Miso DressingI am in love with this salad from my new eBook KALE. Last week on the TV show Top Chef, Dana Cowin (the long time editor of Food & Wine Magazine) said kale is one of her most hated food trends. Then, this......"I love kale, that's not a trend to me," says host Padma Lakshmi. "The idea of kale has now become boiled down to ONE iteration - it's either Kale Salad or Kale Chips," responded Dana Cowin.

I'm happy to say THIS kale salad stands out for it's bold flavor and healthful properties. Buckwheat noodles (ie gluten free) are coated with a healthy vinaigrette of mashed avocado (great fat) and miso (fermented food - good for the gut) and paired with just-blanched kale (nutrient rich.) Check out my new eBook for more awesome kale-inspired ideas............along with two great raw salad recipes, as well! How could I not include a few?!

Chilled Squid with Pickled Peppers & Summer Herbs Recipe

Chilled Squid & Pickled PepperThis is a perfect dish for a cool and sunny autumn afternoon, from my ebook Fresh Pantry: PEPPERS. Eat as many peppers as you can before they are all gone - we're in our last days of harvesting them! My dear friend Ritzy, who seldom cooks but is always hungry said "omg. I love this salad so much! I gobbled up the entire grande bowl that you gave me." Chilled Squid with Pickled Peppers & Summer Herbs SERVES 4

This dish reminds me of a meal I ate in Croatia, along the coast where my cousins live. It draws on the fresh flavor of olives and parsley, and pairs both with a few slivers of pickled peppers. Little squids (aka calamari) can be intimidating for home cooks, but they are fast-cooking and actually

quite easy to work with. Most fish mongers sell squid already cleaned, so you need only worry about the timing. Cooked too long, squids go rubbery and are hard to chew. Cooked briefly, they are supple and lend a fabulous texture and flavor to this simple summer salad. This salad is also a great packed meal—make it ahead of time and bring it camping or on a picnic.

4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters 1 green bell pepper, cut into thin strips (about 1¼ cups) 1 red serrano pepper, cut into thin strips 1-inch-piece fresh ginger, cut into thin slices 1 cup rice wine vinegar ½ cup sugar 1 pound cleaned squid, patted dry ¼ cup olive oil for frying, plus 3 tablespoons for salad ½ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon pepper 3 cloves garlic, smashed and diced 1 teaspoon red chile flakes 2 cups chopped fresh parsley (mint, cilantro, or basil also works well) 1 cup whole olives (green, black or mixed)

Set water to boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Boil the potatoes until cooked through, about 30 to 35 minutes. Drain the potatoes and set aside to cool in a large bowl.

Put the bell pepper, serrano pepper, and ginger in a medium-sized bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan, heat the rice wine vinegar and sugar until boiling; stir until all the sugar has dissolved. Pour over the peppers and set them aside to pickle while they cool.

To prepare the squid, cut the body portion into 1-inch rings. To cook the squid, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil over high heat in a large sauté pan. You want the olive oil to be rippling and very hot. Drop in the squid and sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic, and red chile flakes. Stirring constantly, cook the squid until just cooked through, about 1 minute. The squid may splatter and pop when it hits the heat, so be careful and wear an apron! Do not overcook the squid—it is ready quickly, when just opaque. You may have to cook the squid in batches if the saucepan is too full.

Remove the squid from sauté pan, using a slotted spoon, and add it to the cooled potatoes. Add the parsley and olives to the squid and potatoes. Drain the pickled peppers from the brine, reserving 3 tablespoons of the brine and discarding the ginger. Add the peppers and reserved brine to the squid-potato-parsley-olive salad. Add the remaining olive oil and fold gently to combine all ingredients well—be careful not to break down the potatoes. Serve immediately.

PANTRY NOTE: This salad holds well in the fridge, covered, for one day. Any longer and the squid loses its fresh flavor. Use any olives you prefer, or a mix of greens and blacks, but don’t scrimp on the olive oil. You want a nice grassy-tasting olive oil for this recipe, as with most salads.

Fresh Pantry eBook Series!

Did you hear I am publishing an eBook series this year? Every month brings another awesome recipe book highlighting one seasonal ingredient. dumpling_text

For anyone trying to eat a seasonal diet, fresh vegetables and fruits are pantry musts as well. The new Fresh Pantry e-book series picks up where Urban Pantry leaves off-by continuing the conversation about healthy, sustainable foods and how eating locally and seasonally embraces gardening and outdoor living.

You can subscribe to the entire YEAR here, at a discount. I'd love to hear back about what you think!

Fresh Pantry eBook Series launches today!

Hello Food Lovers!

I’m so excited about my new ebook series!! Through 2013 – one a month! – I will write and release a seasonal cookbook online that promises to highlight a bounty of vegetables and fruits. It’s called Fresh Pantry. Check it out here.

 My first book, Urban Pantry: Tips & Recipes for a Thrifty, Sustainable & Seasonal Kitchen, introduced you to clever cooking concepts and ingredients, provided experienced cooks with organizational inspiration, and helped cooks of all skill levels create sustainable and thrifty kitchens. But its approach and ingredients reflect shelf-stable, dried, or preserved goods. For anyone trying to eat a seasonal diet, fresh vegetables and fruits are pantry musts as well, albeit ones that rotate constantly over the year and have more limited shelf lives. The Fresh Pantry series picks up where Urban Pantry leaves off—by continuing the conversation about sustainable foods and how eating locally and seasonally is a healthy act that everyone can get behind. It is a tool for anyone committed to eating locally (!) and helps combat seasonal doldrums. You can do a LOT with a winter squash!

THANK YOU SO MUCH for checking it out ~ ox amyp

 

 

Preserving Tomatoes - 3 Ways

tomato sesame jamI did a lil' chef demo at the Peachtree Farmers Market in Atlanta yesterday and man, o' man, was it HOT. The market was hoppin' despite the heat, and I did take a few moments to step away from my burner and cruise the farm stands. Bought some Tupelo honey for my neighbors (who are graciously watering plants in my absence - thank you!), ate a pineapple-mint ice pop, snacked on some wood-fired pizza and drank one of the most thirst-quenching teas I've ever had the pleasure of tasting. Back in my make-shift kitchen, I demo'd "3 Ways to Preserve a Tomato" because Atlanta is HOT and there is a glut of sun-loving produce. Tomatoes, watermelons & peppers abound in Hotlanta. I tackled tomato preservation as a creative way for people to extend the bounty and get smart about putting up produce.

The first recipe is a straight up canned tomato. You basically cook down tomatoes, add some acid and can. (Saftey note: do not can without using tested recipes!)

I also did a slow-roasted tomato doused in olive oil, herbs and salt and pepper. In a single layer, toss all ingredients on a sheet pan and bake at 250 for 3 hours or so, until tomatoes are wrinkled. Cover with a cap of olive oil and hold in your fridge.

The third recipes was by far the most popular: Tomato Jam. Once again, I borrowed this dish from my dear cheesemaker friend Lynda (who is a huge culinary influence of mine) and made a super simple tomato relish years ago that I never forgot. Part acid, part sweet, a little toasty, this jam is perfect with sharp cheese and crackers, or as a condiment to roasted meat or sandwiches. EVERYONE asked if the recipe is included on the pages of Urban Pantry. It isn't, so I promised to post it here. Full recipe with proportions will follow when I'm back in Seattle and able to test a recipe for real, but this will work for those dying to get their hands on it sooner.

Thank you all for coming to the market & buying my book! I had an awesome time.

Tomato Jam

Dry roast seeded tomatoes with a sprinkle of salt in a large saute pan over medium low heat, removing moisture, about 30 to 40 minutes. Add a tablespoon or two honey, a spoonful of toasted sesame seed, 2 grates of orange zest and about a teaspoon of ginger to taste. Serve.