Archive | Recipes 2009

GRILLED DELICATA SQUASH RINGS

Each squash will yield 2 to 4 servings, depending on its size. Remember that the skin is edible after the squash is cooked.

Select firm, unblemished delicata squash. Wash the rind well. Cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices. Use a sharp paring knife to cut out the ring of seeds in the center; a sharp, small biscuit cutter also works well for this. Brush both sides of the squash rings with olive oil; sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper. Grill over medium heat for about 5 minutes, then turn carefully and continue grilling until tender, about 5 minutes longer.

This simple recipe is infinitely variable. You could substitute melted butter, a mix of butter and olive oil, or a mix of olive and pumpkinseed oil for the olive oil. For a sweeter variation, brush the top surface of the rings with maple syrup after flipping them. To kick it up a notch, you might also like to sprinkle the maple syrup glaze with a little chili powder. Try sprinkling curry powder, blackening spices, or another blend on the slices in place of the salt and pepper. You could also sprinkle the cooked rings with fresh, chopped herbs right before serving.

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SPICED ONION AND BACON TART

10 to 12 appetizer servings

If this tart is served warm, diners will need a knife and fork to eat it; if it is at room temperature, the pieces should be firm enough to be picked up and eaten out of hand.

¼ pound thick-cut smoky bacon, cut into half-inch pieces
1 ½ pounds onions (about 2 large; use one yellow and one red for best flavor)
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
½ teaspoon brown or yellow mustard seeds
8-ounce package frozen phyllo dough, thawed according to package directions
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Begin heating oven to 350°F. In large, heavy-bottomed skillet, cook bacon over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it has rendered a good bit of its fat and is starting to crisp up. Meanwhile, peel onions and cut in half from top to bottom; slice from top to bottom so the slices are about 3/16 inch thick at the outside. When bacon is moderately crisp, drain all but one tablespoon fat from the skillet. Add onions, sugar, fennel seeds and mustard seeds to skillet. Stir as best you can; the onions will be overflowing, but will begin cooking down shortly. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are reduced in volume and moderately—but not fully—caramelized; reduce heat if onions begin to brown too much or to burn.

While onions are cooking, prepare the tart base (remember to stir the onions occasionally while you’re working with the phyllo). Line a baking sheet with kitchen parchment.

Unroll the phyllo onto your work surface; cover the phyllo stack with waxed paper, then place a lightly damp towel over all. Remove 2 sheets of phyllo, transferring to the parchment-lined baking sheet; re-cover remaining phyllo. Use a pastry brush to lightly coat phyllo with melted butter, starting at the center and brushing outwards. Repeat with remaining phyllo. Lift the long edges of the parchment to fold about ¾ inch of phyllo over, patting down as necessary; let the parchment drop back to the baking sheet after the long edges are formed (the narrow edges do not get folded over). Bake the phyllo until light golden brown and puffed, 16 to 18 minutes; transfer baking sheet to wire rack until needed.

When onions have cooked for 20 minutes, remove from heat; let cool for at least 10 minutes, and as long as 30 minutes. Spread the onions over the baked phyllo, leaving the doubled-over edges clear. Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes, then transfer baking sheet to wire rack to cool for at least 10 minutes; the tart can cool to room temperature before serving if you like. To serve, cut in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 1 ½-inch-wide strips. Serve warm, or at room temperature.

CHOOSING THE BACON

I prefer this dish when it’s made with a good, smoky bacon. I usually use Neuske’s (Wittenberg, WI). Fischer Family Farms (Waseca, MN) also makes wonderful bacon; look for it at Clancey’s Meats, Local D’Lish, Golden Fig and most co-ops. The bacon made by Thielen Meats (Pierz, MN) is also very good, but it is much less smoky; however, it is a wonderful choice if you aren’t looking for that big, smoky flavor.

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TOASTED SQUASH SEEDS

An interesting variation on toasted pumpkin seeds! Thinner squash seeds, such as those from butternut, acorn, delicata, and spaghetti squash, will be similar to toasted pumpkin seeds; thicker seeds from buttercup and Kabocha are more chewy. You can roast them in a slow or fast oven, depending on what else you are baking at the time.

Remove the seeds from the squash, then pull away as much of the stringy pulp as you can. Place the seeds in a colander or wire-mesh strainer and rinse them, removing remaining pulp. Pat seeds dry and place in a mixing bowl. For each cup of seeds, stir in about a tablespoon of canola or olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste); you can also add smoked paprika, chile powder, Cajun seasoning, curry powder, or any type of seasoning you like, or substitute garlic salt or other flavored salt for the plain salt. Spread the prepared seeds in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet that has been lined with kitchen parchment. Bake until the seeds are dry and crispy, and just beginning to color; stir occasionally, especially for the longer roasting times. At 250 °F, plan on 45 to 60 minutes, depending on seed thickness; at 350 °F, start checking at about 10 minutes, but it could take as long as 30 minutes, depending on seed thickness. When the seeds are done, lift the parchment sheet away and use it to pour the seeds into a ceramic bowl to cool; if left on the baking sheet they will continue to cook, and may over-brown.

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PICKLED CARROT STICKS

Per half pint

I like these best after they’ve been pickling for about a week, but you can use them as soon as a day after you make them. They’ll keep for several weeks in the refrigerator.

6 ounces carrots (about 3 medium), peeled
1 medium clove garlic, cut into thirds
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher or pickling salt
A pinch of ground turmeric, optional (adds nice color)
Sprig of fresh dill

Heat a saucepan of salted water to boiling. Cut carrots into 3-inch lengths, then vertically into 1/4-inch-wide sticks; as you cut them, pack into a half-pint canning jar until you have enough to fit fairly tightly. Drop carrot sticks and garlic pieces into boiling water; cook for 1 minute, then drain immediately and refresh with lots of cold water. Place in a bowl of ice water and let stand while you sterilize the jar and prepare the pickling liquid.

To sterilize the jar, place it in a pot with water to cover by 1 inch, then heat to boiling and boil for 10 minutes; drop a clean jar lid into the water at the end of boiling. Keep jar and lid in the hot water until you’re ready to pack the carrots.

In a small non-aluminum saucepan, combine vinegar, water, honey, salt, and turmeric if using. Heat to boiling and cook, stirring constantly, until salt dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly. Drain carrots and garlic. Place dill into the sterilized jar, then pack the carrots and garlic into the jar; they will be looser than they were when raw. Pour warm pickling liquid into the jar, covering carrots completely. Cover tightly and shake gently. Refrigerate for at least one day before eating.  

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sobaBowl

SOBA BOWL WITH FISH AND VEGETABLES

Soba bowl

2 servings; easily increased

I make variations of this dish all year, changing the fish and the green vegetable with the seasons. Try Alaskan wild salmon with sugar-snap peas or asparagus tips in late spring, local walleye with Frenched green beans in the summer, and Pacific cod with baby bok choy in winter. Experiment with different mushrooms, too, using whatever is seasonally available

6 to 8 ounces boneless, skinless tilapia, Pacific halibut, or other seasonal fish, cut into even pieces for two portions
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon mirin (sweet Japanese cooking wine), optional
About 6 ounces rainbow chard, very well washed
2.5 to 3 ounces soba (Japanese buckwheat noodles)
2 carrots, peeled and cut into julienne matchsticks
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth, or prepared miso broth
1 thick slice fresh gingerroot
A little flour
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
3 to 4 ounces shiitake mushroom caps, cut into strips
1 or 2 green onions, sliced
Black sesame seeds for garnish, optional

Heat oven to 225°F. Place fish on a plate; sprinkle with soy sauce and mirin, and set aside to marinate while you prepare the other ingredients. Prepare the chard by cutting the thick ribs off near the base of the leaves. Cut the ribs into 1⁄2-inch pieces and push to one side. Cut the leaves in half lengthwise through the center, then cut each piece crosswise into strips, about an inch wide. Set aside, keeping the leaf strips separate from the cut-up rib pieces.

In a medium saucepan, cook soba in boiling water as directed on package, usually 5 to 7 minutes. Drain in wire-mesh strainer and rinse with cold water; let stand in strainer while you begin cooking the vegetables. In same saucepan used to cook soba, heat a generous amount of lightly salted water to boiling. Add julienned carrots; cook until tender-crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Meanwhile, divide drained soba between two oven-safe soup plates; set aside. When carrots are tender-crisp, remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to now-empty strainer; allow water in saucepan to continue boiling.

Add sliced chard ribs to water used to cook the carrots. Cook for about 21⁄2 minutes; meanwhile, arrange drained carrots in soup plates with soba so they stick up in a pile against the rim, and place soup plates in oven to keep warm. When chard ribs have cooked for about 21⁄2 minutes, add sliced greens. Return to boiling, and cook until greens are just tender, about 1 minute. Drain in now-empty strainer.

Rinse out saucepan; add broth and gingerroot. Heat to boiling over medium heat, then reduce heat and boil very gently while you prepare the fish. To prepare the fish, pat dry; dredge in flour, shaking off excess. Heat sesame oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add fish, placing the most attractive side down. Scatter mushrooms around the edges of the fish. Cook, pushing the mushrooms around a bit, until fish is nicely browned, then flip and cook until fish is just cooked through and mushrooms are browned; total cooking time will be 10 minutes per inch of thickness, so a 3⁄4-inch fillet will cook in about 7 minutes. While fish is cooking, arrange cooked chard next to the carrots in the soup plates and return to the oven.

When fish is cooked, pour hot broth over soba and vegetables, holding back and discarding gingerroot. Place fish on top of the soba, opposite the vegetables; arrange mushrooms around edges. Sprinkle green onions and black sesame seeds over all. Serve immediately.

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SWEDISH BROWN BEANS WITH MAPLE SYRUP

(4 side-dish servings)

This heritage bean, which was brought to America by Swedish immigrants, cooks up firm, with a texture like real Boston baked beans. I buy Lars’ Own brand at Ingebretsen’s; other specialty shops and some supermarkets also carry them. Although the taste and texture will be markedly different, you can substitute other beans such as navy or pink beans; these will cook more quickly than the brown beans, so check them after about 25 minutes and adjust total cooking time as necessary.

1 cup dry Swedish brown beans, sorted
3⁄4 teaspoon salt; more to taste
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup; more to taste
11⁄2 tablespoons cider vinegar; more to taste

In a soup pot, soak beans overnight in cold water to cover by at least 3 inches. When ready to cook, drain and rinse beans and return to pot. Add 3 cups cold water. Heat just to boiling, then reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour, skimming foam in the first 15 minutes.

Test a bean by biting it; it should still be firm, but should be tender enough to bite through. (Cook more if necessary to reach this stage.) Add salt. Place lid on pot, slightly ajar, and cook for 1 hour longer; check occasionally, and add a little more water if the liquid is much below the top of the beans.

Stir syrup into beans; replace cover so it is slightly ajar and cook for 30 to 45 minutes longer, until tender but not mushy. Stir in vinegar. Taste for seasoning and add more syrup, vinegar, or salt to taste.

Note: When I prepared this recently, I served pan-fried slices of Fischer Farms Canadian bacon (from Waseca, MN; available at Golden Fig and many co-ops) with the beans, along with braised Lacinato kale—delicious. You could also crumble some cooked bacon into the dish just before serving; some cooks would add half of a pear, diced, to the beans during the last 45 minutes of cooking.

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