At the last family gathering I was totally surprised to hear how many of my family members actually read my posts here on Kitchen Apparel. More than a few people told me I was crazy for making Ramp Salt, and then promptly asked me what the hell ramps were anyway. I think when most bloggers start out they are worried that only their family is reading, but for me it was the complete opposite. I have been pleasantly surprised to hear that many family members that I never thought would even click on my website, are actually reading (yes I'm talking about you Uncle Ron). So where am I going with this...well, this bright yellow ice cream maker you see, was a Christmas gift from my brother and his wife (my favorite sister-in-law). They actually bought it for me so that I could use it for posting recipes. My brother was even awesome enough to pick out this book for me because he knows that I don't drink cows milk and I like to make vegan recipes. I guess I shouldn't be so surprised that my family is so supportive of my weird domestic hobbies, but I will now be ever mindful and appreciative of their encouragement and love. I also have a little bit of a confession to make today, "I, Sandra Kehoe, have never tasted nor cooked with rhubarb before". I know, try not to judge me too harshly. While working with my health coach, Irina Kachalenko I vowed to keep an open mind and try new things. So this spring I got yet another chance to try a food that I always shied away from because it just seemed weird. In my mind I have always thought, poisonous leaves on top of super long crazy hot pink stalks of vegetable matter. I'm not so sure I want to go near it let alone put it in my mouth. So this year I put on my big girl pants and grabbed all the rhubarb at the farm stand counter. I wonder if I looked a little desperate or maybe they just remembered me from my first trip when I cleaned out their whole stash of asparagus just minutes after they picked it (the crazy lady with two kids, I guess it's pretty hard to forget). So to make a long story short, lets just say I have a new love for all things rhubarb. I have been eating it on or with everything for the last few days and I can't get enough. I really wanted to make an ice cream that was just purely rhubarb because I enjoy the tartness. We have been having some hot sticky weather here in New Jersey so ice cream just seemed like the perfect treat in lieu of heating up the oven to make a pie.
Rhubarb Ice Cream (Vegan)
3 cups coconut milk (full fat coconut milk or make your own coconut milk)1 cup rhubarb syrup (recipe below)
1 cup rhubarb pulp (byproduct of making rhubarb syrup)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoon tapioca flour/starch
2 teaspoons beet juice (optional - to add color - I promise it won't taste at all like beets)Simmer the 3 cups of coconut milk in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 cup of rhubarb syrup and 1 cup of rhubarb pulp and gently whisk to combine. Allow the milk to simmer for 2-3 minutes while gently whisking and then remove the pan from the heat. Whisk in the vanilla, tapioca flour and beet juice. Transfer the mixture into a glass bowl and place in the refrigerator to cool for at least 4-6 hours. (You can cover the bowl once the mixture cools down a bit). At this point you need to process the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufactures instructions or until you know it is ready (mine took two batches at 15 minutes each). Transfer the "soft" ice cream to a container and freeze until the ice cream is set.NOTE: I recommend eating your ice cream right as it is processing in the ice cream maker. They conveniently designed ice cream makers with a hole in the top just for this purpose. I'm serious, there is really no better way to enjoy homemade ice cream!
Adapted from this recipe by the Hungry Tigress2 lbs of rhubarb, chopped
1 cup of water
sugar (I used unrefined cane sugar) Simmer the chopped rhubarb in 1 cup of water over medium heat for about 20 minutes or until all the rhubarb is disintegrated. Stir occasionally to make sure the bottom doesn't burn. Transfer the hot rhubarb into a jelly bag or cheesecloth over a bowl and hang it up to allow the juice to strain overnight. (This is the perfect time to chill the base of your ice cream maker).
In the morning take the juice and place it back into a saucepan over medium heat. (I got 2 cups of juice). Reserve the rhubarb pulp that is left in the cheesecloth for making the ice cream. Add 1 cup of sugar to every 2 cups of rhubarb juice and stir until the sugar is all dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil and then remove it from the heat to cool. The rhubarb ice cream will take 1 cup of the finished syrup. Store the remaining cup in the refrigerator for other purposes.
"It is through living that we discover ourselves, at the same time as we discover the world around us."
How do I even start to explain the strange relationship I have with these flat crispy sweet cookies. Let me first tell you that I am not Italian (not even close), but I can find one if the occasion calls for it. I'm not entirely sure that I even know how to pronounce the word "Pizzelle," but that doesn't stop me from trying. I actually came across my very first pizzelle press at a garage sale when I was a teenager. When I saw that shiny black press with a small recipe on the handle I knew that I had to have it. It's just what every teenager wants, right? Well one pizzelle press and....blah blah....years later, I still have an undying love for these wonderfully flat waffle-like cookies.
Pizzelle are traditionally made at Christmas, but I normally make them for every other occasion in the calendar year. It has actually been a year or two since I have made them last, but for a few months I have been thinking about trying to make a gluten-free version. Now that I have a much better understanding of gluten-free baking I knew that modifying this recipe would be a piece of cake...errrr...cookie. Pizzelles are easy to make and even easier to eat, so you might want to double up the batch on this recipe. If you have eaten your fill and dread the thought of leftovers, bring them to work. They won't survive the morning, but the good thing is that you'll have made plenty of new friends to go out to lunch with. A few people have told me that they eat these with powdered sugar sprinkled on top, but I never felt like these cookies needed anymore sweetness. They are quite perfect all on their own.
Pizzelles taste almost like waffle cones. One of the ways we use pizzelles in the summer time is to make cups out of them for fruit salad or ice cream. All you have to do is put the warm cookie straight from the press inside of a small bowl and let it cool down. Once cooled, the cookie will stay in the shape of a bowl and you can fill it with all sorts of yummy desserts.
makes about 30-40 cookies
3/4 cup sugar (I use unrefined cane sugar)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons anise extract (optional)
1 cup white or brown rice flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour/starch
2 teaspoons aluminum free baking powder
pinch of salt
Plug in the pizzelle press and allow it to heat up completely before using. Whisk the eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla, anise extract together in a large bowl. In another bowl whisk the rice, sorghum and tapioca flour with the baking powder and a pinch of salt. Using a wooden spoon incorporate the flour into the cookie batter a little at a time. Once the dough is completely mixed it will be thick and sticky. Spoon a tablespoon size amount onto each spot on your press and close the top. Squeeze it down slowly and once the cookies are slightly brown they are ready to be taken off the press. Let them cool down on a flat sheet or plate.
"Photography is an immediate reaction, drawing is a meditation." -Henri Cartier-Bresson
Alright I apologize, just one more ramp recipe I promise. So I had my bunch of fresh ramps in the refrigerator and I made my Baked Eggs, with Asparagus and Ramps, but I was at a loss for what else to make. After reading through Everyday Vegetarian I found the perfect recipe for Quinoa & Cauliflower Cakes with Ramps and that became our next meal. But after that, there were several stalks left and I'd been wrestling with the idea of making ramp salt for the last few days. I was thinking along the lines of how I like to put garlic salt on EVERYTHING, and ramp salt would be just as good if not better. Sprinkled on eggs, mashed potatoes, homemade pita chips or that "everything" that I was talking about. This would also make a super cool gift if you could manage to make enough to give away (well..maybe next year). I realize that not everyone has a dehydrator, but you should! Ok maybe not, I really only use it every so often but when you need one, it is totally worth having. Excalibur dehydrators are supposedly the best and a few months ago I picked up the smallest size one. Like any big expensive kitchen appliance it is an investment for your future, but you definitely need space to keep it. You could technically try to dry out ramps in an oven on a very low temperature, and if anyone is able to do so please let me know. The other thing you need for this recipe is a coffee/spice grinder, which is cheap, small and definitely worth getting. I use mine for nuts, whole spices and everything but grinding coffee. Once you have one you will wonder how you got through life without it.
Ramp Salt + Powdered Ramp Leaves
2 teaspoons dried ground ramps (5-6 dried bulbs + 2-3 dried leaves)
3 1/2 tablespoons good quality flaked sea salt or your favorite choice of salt
Dehydrator - I use a Four Tray Excalibur
Wash and clean your ramps and dry them thoroughly. Cut the bulbs from the green leaves. Thickly slice the bulbs and place them on a dehydrator tray along with the whole leaves (you can leave smaller bulbs whole). Make sure non are overlapping each other. Run in the dehydrator on 125° F (vegetable setting) for 24-48 hours or until the ramps are completely dry and crispy.
Once dried, grind 5-6 bulbs and 2-3 leaves in a coffee/spice grinder. You could also try a mortar and pestle but a grinder is much faster and much more efficient. This produced 2 teaspoons of dried ground ramps for me, but the amount will be different for everyone. You can adjust the amount of salt used to suit your preference. I wanted a very "rampy" salt, but you could use less ramps and more salt for a milder flavor. Mix the ground ramps and salt together and store in a sealed container. Ideally let the salt sit for a day or two to allow the flavors to mingle and get know each other. The salt should keep for about a year but the flavor might diminish over time like most herbs do. I had lots of leftover dried leaves so I decided to grind them up into a ramp leaf powder (as you can see below). I have big hopes to use this in soups and stews, mashed potatoes or even to make some homemade ramp pasta. The possibilities are endless in my mind, and you will probably be seeing it somewhere else on my blog in the future!
I used up the rest of my fresh ramps by trying a recipe for Quinoa & Cauliflower Cakes with Ramps from Vegetarian Everyday by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl of Green Kitchen Stories. I am mentioning this only because I purchased their book, and if you love vegetarian food as much as I do, you too should pick up a copy. The quinoa cakes were excellent by the way!
Alright, this is a quick little post to go with my quick decision to make jam today. I have been thinking about doing this for the last week or so, mostly because I wanted something to put in my breakfast crepes this weekend. Crepes are a new favorite in our house and I have quickly gone through most of my fall fruit preserves in the past couples of months. Honey apple butter, cardamom peach jam and cinnamon pear butter are now all gone and irreplaceable in this particular month in the calender year, so I decided to check in my freezer. I saw that I had a bunch of frozen berries taking up valuable real estate that will be badly needed in a few weeks for my super stash of strawberries and sweet and tart cherries. With berry season right around the corner I didn't need last years stragglers getting lost in the frozen recesses, only to be tossed away when new tenants moved in. I didn't want to think about what combination of fruit I wanted to use so they all got thrown in together and here I present to you: Mixed Berry Jam.
If you have never made jam before let me give a few little tips. Try to use a pot that has lots of room (very high sides) because there will be super hot splatters to deal with. Definitely invest in a digital thermometer and use it (made that mistake once and I unintentionally made fig candy). Don't get discouraged if it doesn't come out right. If it comes out a little runny then just tell people you made berry syrup instead, they will still be just as impressed, I promise. You need to become familiar with how jam feels and how you test to see when it is set, and the only way to do that is to try it.
Mixed Berry Jam
made 1 1/2 pints of jam6 cups (780 grams) of mixed berries: Blackberries, Raspberries and Blueberries (Fresh or Frozen)
Juice from one lemon
1 cup sugar (I used Sucanat but feel free to use what you have)
1/2 cup *buckwheat honeyStart a boiling water bath if you plan on processing your jam. Since this recipe doesn't make that much jam you could always keep it in a container in the refrigerator and not worry about canning. Place all the ingredients into a non-reactive pot and bring to a boil over medium to high heat. Keep the mixture at a rolling boil and stir occasionally so that the bottom doesn't burn. Heat the mixture until a thermometer reaches the set point at 220° F (You could perform a freezer test if you want as well). The mixture should be thick. When you spoon through the mixture it should separate so you can see the bottom of the pot and it should sheet off the spoon.Sterilize your jars, ring and lids and get them ready on the counter. Spoon the hot jam into the jars, seal finger tip tight and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Set on the counter to cool and test the seals when they have cooled down. *Buckwheat Honey: This recipe calls for buckwheat honey because I personally love it. The smell is...well lets not talk about what it smells like because if you never noticed it before you will once I say it, and then you will never be able to eat buckwheat honey again. You don't need to use it if you don't want to. You can either use another 1/2 cup of sugar or a different kind of honey. Everything about this recipe can be changed to suit your preference so please deviate if you want/need to.
"Help your brother's boat across, and your own will reach the shore."
~ Hindu Proverb
Today we had perfect spring weather, 60's with a chilly breeze and a lingering dampness. The perfect time to open all the windows and fire up my oven, or to grab a nice book and a warm cozy blanket (well..maybe once my kids are in school I'll be able to do that). I have been meaning to increase the recipes in my dessert section, which has been lacking anything new for a while now. Did I feel guilted into making these chocolate cookies?...a little bit perhaps. But now that I have these beautiful little gems tucked away, I am actually quite happy. I will be snacking on these for the next few days, if I can manage to hide them from my oldest son, who is as much of a cookie monster as I am. So let me address the issue of the Mesquite Flour. This is a gluten-free flour made from dried and ground bean pods of the mesquite plant. This flour, although expensive, is absolutely beautiful. If you were smelling it in a blind test you would probably swear you were smelling a mocha coffee hot chocolate mix. Once I finally got my hands on this flour (which is a little hard to find) I knew that I had to pair it with chocolate. Coffee enhances the flavor of chocolate so I was hoping this flour would have a similar effect. You will obviously have to decide for yourself if these cookies are as wonderful as I think they are, but if cookies are not your thing, at least try to find some mesquite flour and give it a try in other baked goods or even a smoothie.
Chocolate Walnut Mesquite Cookies (Gluten-Free)
makes 5 dozen cookies1/2 cup of unsalted butter
1/2 cup natural unrefined cane sugar
1/2 cup dark muscovado sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla2 eggs
1 1/4 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup mesquite flour
1/2 cup Dutch processed cocoa
1/4 cup tapioca starch/flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)In a large bowl with a hand mixer or a stand mixer with paddle attachment beat the unsalted butter, cane sugar, muscovado sugar and vanilla until creamy. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after adding each one. In another large bowl whisk together the brown rice flour, mesquite flour, dutch processed cocoa, tapioca starch, salt and baking powder. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and beat on a low setting until all the flour is incorporated. Mix the chopped walnuts and dark chocolate chips (if using) by hand with a wooden spoon. Cover the bowl of dough and place it in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 350° F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and shape it into 1-inch balls. Place the balls on a cookie sheet and gently press them down with the bottom of a drinking glass or the palm of your hand (At this point you could also sprinkle them with a little bit of sugar but they really don't need it). Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes. Transfer finished cookies to a wire rack to cool. I always love it when bloggers show a shot of their food set up. The particular shot that I got from this set up wasn't used because I liked the one I used above better. I always try to take multiple shots from different angles and set ups so I have plenty of pictures to choose from.
It doesn't get any better then this! Baked eggs with fresh asparagus, foraged ramps, homemade goat cheese and topped off with a pea shoot almond pesto (from homegrown pea shoots of course). Label me a localvore if you must, call me an über foodie even though the term foodie is über uncool lately. So I might just be a little complicated, a bit demanding, and perhaps a tiny bit pretentious at times, but this is what I love to do. Everyone has that certain something they choose to devote their "free" time to and mine just happens to be making cheese, growing greens, reading food blogs, and dreaming about having my own chickens on small farm in Jersey (I said it was a dream ok). Is this dish overly complicated and would anyone else be able to make it? Of course it is and perhaps they might, but that is not the point. This is what I love to do and what I devote my time to, so here it is: my breakfast this morning! Come on, how cool is it that you can make, grow, forage and find great food and put it all together in one dish. I know there is at least one person who understands me and he has a Shared Appetite (playing link tag, stay with me). But anyway, I guess that is it really, and all I can say is that I had a lot of fun with this recipe. The only thing that could have made this even better was if I woke up, walked outside and grabbed a few fresh eggs from under a chicken (one day it will happen, just not today).
Baked Eggs with Asparagus, Ramps, Goat Cheese and Pea Shoot Almond Pesto
Inspired by Aran Goyoaga's
baked eggs with olive oil- poached tomatoes, coppa & brie in Small Plates Sweet TreatsServes 4
1/2 cup milk (I used goats milk)
3-4 oz goat cheese, sliced into four rounds
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4-5 ramps (read more about ramps Here)
4-5 small asparagus spears
freshly ground black pepper*Pea Shoot Almond Pesto (see note below)
Preaheat your oven to 400° F. Brush the insides of four large ramekins with olive oil and place them on a baking sheet. Add two tablespoons of milk into the bottom of each ramekin. Place a slice of goat cheese into each ramekin, smushing it a little if you want. Cut the leaves off of the ramps and reserve the bulbs for later. Place two or three ramp leaves against the sides of each ramekin (See picture above). Thinly slice the white ramp bulbs and slice the asparagus on a diagonal. In a small saucepan over medium high heat saute the ramps and asparagus in a little bit of extra virgin olive oil until they become bright green and fragrant, about 4-5 minutes. Spoon the warm ramps and asparagus into the ramekins, dividing it up evenly. Reserve a little bit of the saute for on top (if you want it to look all pretty). Crack two eggs into each ramekin and sprinkle on the remaining sauteed ramps and asparagus. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the egg whites are set. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and serve your baked eggs immediately. Note: You could easily divide this recipe to make two or even one serving if you like.*I used Aran Goyoago's Pea Shoot and Almond Pesto recipe (pg. 156) excatly so I didn't feel that I could post the recipe for it. You can find it in her book Small Plates Sweet Treats which I definitely recommend picking up (It is essentially pea shoots, almonds, garlic, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and olive oil)
In the spring, foodies and localvores become frantic over one little word: RAMPS. What is a ramp you might ask? Ramps are an edible onion-like bulb that can only be found in the wild from Canada to Georgia. They look like an exotic scallion with a pinkish purple stalk and beautiful flat green leaves. What is really cool about ramps is that the whole plant is edible and it tastes like a cross between onion and garlic. They have a very distinctive odor that is really hard to explain, even for a former fragrance industry professional like me. After tasting and smelling these awesome veggies, I can tell you that I totally understand all the hype. If you can get your hands on some of these you will understand exactly what I mean. Supposedly we have Martha Stewart to thank for bringing ramps into the limelight, and thereafter sending the population of ramps into decline (See Here). I remember seeing an article in one of her magazines about ramps but I never though they would be something I could get. I have never seen them in a grocery store, but some people on the internet have. The major hurdle to finding ramps now is their popularity. If someone before you gets to the store or farmers market and knows what they are, you can be sure they will most likely be buying all they can get their hands on. So I knew my only option would be to go foraging and find some for myself.
The first thing you need to do to find ramps is look near a stream or river. There is a fairly large river that is close to where I live so I knew that is where I would start. We walked along a paved path in a local park that is frequented by joggers and cyclists. I started getting a little discouraged as we walked for a while with nothing in sight, but we soon came up to a flat clearing close to the water. I took one step off the path to investigate and I looked down to my right and there they were. Right there!!! I found them!!! As the boys played near the river throwing in rocks and sticks I quickly dug up a few and placed them in my bag. My husband gave me a few looks of bewilderment, either because he was surprised I found some, or because I was actually digging up wild plants with the intention to cook and eat them. I felt like saying, "it's too late now, you married me!" I may be crazy, but I like to think I'm at least a manageable type of crazy.
The next step is to clean your ramps. When you dig them up they have a slimy membrane that you have to remove to get to the white bulb. It is almost exactly like cleaning the membranes of a scallion. The only other thing to do is pop off the roots and rinse the leaves. Once they are clean the task becomes figuring out how to cook and preserve them. Fortunately thanks to Martha and a few other food bloggers there are plenty of recipes to try. Below are a few of the ways I chose to preserve half of my ramp stash so I could slowly experiment with using them.
No, my hands are not that hairy. My husband graciously offered to be a hand model since it is super difficult to take pictures of your hands while holding a camera ;)
Some of the best ways to preserve ramps:
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If you do a quick Google search for pickled ramps you will find more recipes then you know what to do with. I read through a few of them and decided to go with this one from Local Kitchen. I did however use thyme instead of parsley and I added some whole mustard and whole caraway seeds.
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After making pickled ramps you have lots of leftover green tops. There was no way I was going to throw them out so I made some pesto to freeze and use later.
Process the green tops in a food processor and slowly add some oil until a thick paste is formed. Spoon into an ice cube tray or mini muffin tin and freeze. Once they are set remove them from the tray and store in freezer bags.
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Ramp Compound Butter
I was most excited to make this, and I thought I was so smart and original for thinking to do this. Turns out I'm not the first to make ramp compound butter, but I was right because most people say this is the best way to preserve your ramps.
It is really simple, just take 3-4 ramps and chop them up, leaves and all. Mash 1 stick of softened butter on your counter top. Mash the chopped ramps into the butter and reshape it into a log and store in wax paper. Compound butter can keep in the freezer for up to a year.
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Blanching and Freezing
I am not sure of the outcome to this method of keeping ramps. I'll be sure to add an update once I find out if they can hold up to freezing in this fashion. I have read a few places that say you can do it so I figured it would be worth a try.
Blanch the whole ramps in boiling water for 2-4 minutes so they become a brighter shade of green. Then quickly transfer them to an ice water bath to cool down. Pat them dry, place them in a plastic freezer bag and freeze flat.
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It's like garlic salt, only better! A great way to preserve the flavor of ramps in a condiment that you can sprinkle on top of any dish.How to Make your own Ramp Salt*Dehydrator needed The next task on my list is to create some recipes using ramps. The best ways to use them is with other spring edibles and possibly eggs. While I wait for some local asparagus to be ready to pick, I have a bunch of ramps stored in the refrigerator. Keep them exactly like lettuce, with a paper towel in a plastic bag. They will keep for 2-4 days in this fashion. Make sure to seal the bag very well, or you risk having your whole refrigerator smelling like ramps.
You're going to hate me for this I know it! Dangling a sweet corn risotto in your face in the middle of April. I couldn't help myself, the last few days have been sunny, beautiful and yes I'm sorry to say, 85° F in our backyard. I already have the makings of a nice Irish tan; what's red, white and burns all over? I can't help it if mother nature decided to give New Jersey some early love this spring, we definitely deserve it that's for sure. So I was outside playing with the boys, planting some sugar snap peas and dreaming about summer tomatoes when I realized, "what the heck am I going to make for dinner?" Then it occurred to me: I still have a small stash of last years summer sweet corn in my freezer. Since I was in desperate need to use up some more of my homemade farmers cheese, there was no other option in my mind than to make risotto.
Don't hate me because I have a stash of summer sweet corn in my freezer. I have been performing the same ritual every year for a while now. In the sticky summer heat of August I collect as much corn as I possibly can from a farm in upstate New York. I then proceed to strip down every ear in a process that will cover my kitchen completely in corn juice. It is all worth it though, because in the middle of April I can pull out one perfectly proportioned bag and use it to make fried corn, risotto or stir it into a chili.
Risotto in my mind is the perfect dinner, or lunch, or heck even breakfast (poach an egg and slap it on top of reheated risotto...YUMMERS!) Seriously, what is not to like about creamy sticky rice with wine and cheese...nothing I tell you, nothing. And if you are thinking, "there is no way I am standing around stirring rice for 25 minutes" you need to have a heart to heart with your stove top and get stirring. Don't consider those 25 minutes as ones you have lost, look at them as 25 minutes you get to stand...still...in one spot (for a mother of two boys standing in one spot for any amount of time is a little mini vacation).
Sweet Corn Risotto with Farmers Cheese
4 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup of sweet corn from 2 large ears (if using frozen, thaw beforehand)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small sweet onion, diced (or 3 spring onions)
1 1/2 cups of arborio rice (aka - risotto rice)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup crumbled farmers cheese (or other cheese of your liking)
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons of butter
scallion greens and micro greens for garnish
In a small saucepan, bring the vegetable or chicken stock to a boil. Reduce the heat and keep the stock at a simmer. In a larger saucepan heat the extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat and add the diced onion. Saute the onion until it is soft, about 2 minutes. Add the arborio rice and cook for a few minutes, stirring, until the grains become translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the white wine and cook, stirring, until the rice completely absorbs it, about 1 minute. Add one ladle of the simmering stock to the rice and start a kitchen timer for 20 minutes. Continue to stir the rice until the stock has absorbed, then add another ladle of stock. Continue stirring and repeat this process until all the stock is used (it should take 20-25 minutes). About half way through the process add the sweet corn. After all the stock has been absorbed and the 20 minutes are up, remove the pot from the heat and add the cheese and butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste and continue to stir until the cheese and butter is melted. Sprinkle on some chopped scallion greens, a little extra cheese and toss on a few micro greens. Serve warm.
“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.” - Rainer Maria Rilke
Today I am dedicating my post to raise awareness about food Insecurity in America. I decided to take part in the "Food Bloggers Against Hunger" project after watching the documentary, A Place at the Table. It opened my eyes to a lot of issues that I never knew about or even considered before. At first I thought I would have nothing to contribute to a project such as this one. What do I know about being food insecure? I can’t even begin to understand how difficult it must be when you can’t feed your family. I sit behind a computer screen and write about fresh wholesome recipes made with ingredients I didn’t have to think twice about putting in my grocery cart. I take for granted being able to walk into a grocery store to purchase whatever my heart desires that day. And lastly what could someone like me actually do? How does one person so far removed from this issue help at all?
After thinking through this for weeks I came to understand that I could help in a small way. The little that I can do is listen, learn and help spread awareness. One person can’t change a whole country and the politics behind it, but there are small things we can all do that will help.
Drive the Demand for Better Food
| | What does that mean? It means we need to make a conscious effort to support local organic farmers that grow fruits and vegetables. We subsidize the wrong crops in this country and by creating a higher demand for locally grown produce we will create the need for more of it. Farmers markets are becoming more and more popular. You can visit, Local Harvest.org to find one in your area. Farmer's markets are seasonal so when they are not available make better choices in your grocery store. Always try to buy organic fruits and vegetables that are produced as close to where you live as possible. If there are no farmer's markets in your area and you live in New Jersey like I do, look for the "Jersey Fresh" signs in your local grocery stores. | |
Spread Awareness and Write to the Politicians in Your State
Visit this website and submit a letter to congress. It only takes a minute to send a letter asking the politicians in your state to support anti-hunger legislation. This is a quick and easy way to help! (I sent my letter :) Please do your part as a fellow American and learn about the issues that we all face together even if they don’t affect you directly. Check out the documentary, A Place at the Table. You can download and watch it on iTunes or Amazon. If you enjoy this documentary as much as I did, then please urge others to see it as well.
So the dish that I am featuring today is a Fire Roasted Tomato Soup. I wanted to have something that could serve as both a hearty vegetarian dinner, and provide some great leftovers for lunch. One big pot makes this soup easy to prepare, all the ingredients can easily be found in a typical grocery store and this soup is super fast to make (about a half an hour). I also wanted to make this soup because it is a family favorite and the weather here in New Jersey has still been a bit chilly.
I tried to calculate the cost of this meal per person, but it will vary greatly depending on the ingredients that you use. I used mostly organic items when I made this dish, and when I calculated out the price it came to about $ 3.32 per person per serving (large bowl of soup and big wedge of bread). If you were to purchase regular items the cost decreases to $2.58 per person per serving. The personal choice is up to you, but if you can afford it, purchase organic tomatoes, spinach and peppers because they are all items that are subjected to heavy amounts of pesticides when grown conventionally.
Fire Roasted Tomato Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 (28oz) cans of fired roasted whole tomatoes with their juices
2 cups of vegetable broth (To save some money make your own from food scraps, Oh my Veggies shows you how, HERE)
4 cups of water
3 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon dried basil and dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground paprika
pinch of ground cayenne pepper (if you like some heat)
1/2 cup of whole wheat orzo (or any other type of small pasta)
2 cups of cooked cannellini beans or 1 (19oz) can2 roasted red peppers, chopped (use either homemade or a small jar of chopped roasted red peppers)a few handfuls of fresh baby spinachFresh ground black pepper to tastegrated Parmesan cheese for topping In a food process or blender, puree the tomatoes with their juices and set aside. In a large soup pot heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the chopped onions and saute until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add the pureed tomatoes, vegetable broth, water, salt, basil, oregano, paprika, and cayenne pepper (if using) and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add the orzo, cannellini beans and roasted red peppers. Simmer, partially covered for 15 mintues. Just before serving (see note below) add the fresh spinach and a few cracks of black pepper. Allow the soup to cook just until the spinach wilts. At the table serve your soup with some bread and grated Parmesan Cheese. NOTE: The spinach is best when it is only cooked until it is wilted. If you do not want to serve the whole soup at one meal then ladle the extra soup into containers before adding in the spinach to the soup you will eat. You can reheat the remainder of the soup another day or even store the extra in the freezer for an even quicker and easier dinner another day.
The promise of warmth and fresh food after a long and dreary winter is launched by the celebration of Spring. We may all observe this holiday season in different fashions, but there is always a similar correlation to quality time spent with family. It was a special treat to see everyone and meet some new friends around the table as well. This year I tried my hardest to relax and keep any holiday stress at bay by reflecting on the smaller things: new buds on the trees, a little time to myself learning to make cheese, and watching my children having fun with their relatives. I don't let go of life's responsibilities often enough and just live in the small moments.
The food at Easter is always great no matter whose house we are at, and for some reason there is always more leftovers at this holiday then any other (at least in our family). My refrigerator is stocked with enough meals for dinner this week, and enough brightly colored hard boiled eggs to handle breakfast and lunch. There are many great dishes to make with boiled eggs, but my favorite by far is egg salad. Most of the time my egg salad is quite dull and boring; a little bit of mayo with salt and pepper and call it done. It is a typical lunch dish that normally doesn't get enough attention, but it can be so easily dressed up. With the addition of some toasted slices of bread you could even use this as an appetizer or brunch dish. Who says egg salad has to be boring, right?
Egg Salad with Herbs and Cheese
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 cup of crumbled farmers cheese (or a firm goats milk cheese)
1/2 small red onion, minced (or one small minced shallot)
3-4 sprigs each of Dill, Chervil, and Tarragon, finely chopped (parsley and chives can substitute)
pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
pinch of powdered lemon peel (or some fresh lemon zest)
slices of toasted bread
Toast your slices of bread in the oven or toaster oven. Peel the eggs and mash them with a fork, keeping some texture. To the mashed eggs add, mayonnaise, farmers cheese, minced red onion, chopped herbs, salt, pepper and powdered lemon peel. Mix everything together until evenly combined. Spread on top of toasted bread slices.
This is my first batch of homemade farmers cheese! I could just stare at this picture all day.