I hate kale. I really do. Well, at least I thought I did. One particular weekday while on a shopping outing with one of my best friends, a kale salad suddenly sounded so appetizing. We stopped at Agricola, a farm to table restaurant in Princeton, NJ. I'm not really sure what caught my attention about this particular salad that day, but I'm pretty sure it had something to do with the pickled pumpkin. I'm a sucker for seasonality. As much as I wanted to continue hating kale, this little unassuming salad forever changed my mind. Those unexpected life changing moments, now include kale, and some local artisan ice cream (but don't get me started on that one). I always said that I would never post a recipe for a kale salad. Almost every blogger on the internet has some version of kale salad and they each look more horrible than the next. I would sneer, yes sneer. Who does that? No one likes eating kale. It's peer pressure I tell you. It's the same reason why every food blogger has a recipe for homemade granola (you know it's coming, it is inevitable). I just can't help it. It hurts a little to say this, but I'm going to tell you how amazing this kale salad is. Yes, it is amazing and quite frankly I could eat this salad once a day, every day, for the rest of my life. But I am also going to tell you that you need to be making some pickled pumpkin too. There in lies the difference. I do understand if you still think I am deceiving you on the kale part, but at least believe me when I say how awesome pickled pumpkin is. Now go make some. No really. Quickly, because pumpkins are almost out and cookies, cranberries and eggnog are moving on in.
The key to this salad is in the dressing. You all know that you need to massage your kale right? If not, just ask any food blogger. Massaging the acid and oil into the kale makes a world of difference. In fact it makes it edible, imagine that.
The scenery has changed a bit, and I am hoping everyday that this year will bring snow for my boys to play in. I watch the world from my windows. The bright red cardinal against the grey trees. He moves to quickly. I plan on setting out some food to capture his attention a little longer. Time enough for me to change my lens and snap a few pictures.
We are resolved to activities inside, yet each week I dash off to the farm, always trying to hang onto our spring and summer routine. At this point all that you can find are apples, kale, broccoli, cider, pumpkins, squash and popping corn. It hurts to think that at the end of the month we will have to wait another three before asparagus, ramps and rhubarb will make their appearance. But, no rush. There is bread in the oven, slippers on my feet and several cups of hot peppermint tea to be had each day. We build forts with couch cushions, pop big bowls of popcorn and grab as much sunlight through the windows as we can each day. With the holidays right around the corner there will be plenty to keep mind and hand occupied until we can finally relax into those cozy winter days.
Kale Salad with Pickled Pumpkin
4-5 stalks of Kale
1-2 Tablespoons pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted
1 bunch of cilantro
Juice from three limes
1-2 very small cloves of garlic
1/3 cup of pumpkin seed oil (or extra virgin olive oil)
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 spoonfuls of pickled pumpkin chunks (recipe below)
shaved Pecorino Romano (optional)
Remove the stalks of the kale, tear the leaves into bite sized pieces and set aside. Toast the pumpkin seeds in a saucepan over medium heat until they are fragrant and slightly browned. In a food processor or blender add one bunch of cilantro (stems and leaves), juice from three limes, one or two small cloves of garlic, pumpkin seed oil, honey and salt and pepper to taste. Process these ingredients until they are thoroughly combined. Add a few spoonfuls of the dressing to the torn kale leaves and massage it into the kale. Making sure that each leaf of kale is coated in dressing and giving it a slightly bruised look. Add more dressing as required. Divide the kale onto two plates and top with pickled pumpkin, toasted pumpkin seeds and shaved Pecorino Romano if desired. Serve. Store extra dressing in the refrigerator.
one (4-5 lb) pumpkin (not the jack-o-lantern type)
2 cups white vinegar
1 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
2 bay leaves
1 clove garlic
Peel and seed the pumpkin and cut it into small cubes. Sprinkle on a heavy amount of salt and stir to coat the pumpkin chunks. Set this aside for 2-3 hours to draw out the moisture from the pumpkin. Meanwhile prepare a water bath canner and sterilize 4 pint jars. Place the remaining ingredients into a saucepan over medium heat. Bring everything to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer for 5 minutes. Rinse the salt off the pumpkin chunks and pack them into hot sterilized jars. Pour the hot brine over the pumpkin chunks, leaving a 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath canner for 20 minutes.
*allow two weeks for the pumpkin chunks to cure before eating.
Turkey day is around the corner and there have been a few changes as of late. Good changes. A chance to regroup and take a little time for moments normally barred by routine. A hike in the woods was the perfect adventure for a warm November day. Even though the world may seem stripped bare of all color and life there were still remnants hiding among the dead leaves. Little hands make quick work finding treasures hidden along the way. Pieces of mossy bark, interesting sticks and rocks, mushrooms, pine cones and small red sticker-bush berries. I am quickly flooded with memories of the things that captured my interest as a child.
My mother would take us on walks or bike rides around our neighborhood every day. We would race down the hill and make the first turn left. On this corner I remember there was a chestnut tree, long since gone. I recall picking up the chestnuts and placing them in my pocket, taking time to admire the smooth skin and interesting shape. We never ate them, and they very well could have been horse chestnuts anyway, but to me they were still treasures. I guess that is why I have always been interested in chestnuts. I remember on several occasions making my mother purchase some for me so I could roast them "Christmas carol style." You know, roasting on an open fire but not really because you don't have a real fire place and they have to cook in the oven anyway. Then they burn, and no body eats them. Needless to say that Chestnuts have not been on the menu for a long time since.
I'm really not quite sure why I thought of chestnuts this fall. Perhaps it was this recipe I discovered one day and just knew I had to make. Had I known what I was getting into I might have passed up that big basket of chestnuts in the grocery store. Chestnut peeling is definitely a test of patience, will power and finger strength. It is frustrating even for me, the extreme lover of repetitive and tedious tasks. But the outcome is well worth it, which is why I wanted to make one more chestnut condiment that I could share at Thanksgiving. I'm not sure why I went with a chutney, because I'm not actually big a fan. However, I am a big fan of all the ingredients in this particular chutney, so why the heck not. Grab a few handfuls of chestnuts and get in the season. It almost makes me want to throw on a few Christmas carols. Almost.
Chestnut Chutney with Red Onion and Fennel
makes 2 pints
1/3 cup olive oil
5 large red onions, thinly sliced
4 small fennel bulbs or 2 large, thinly sliced
2 cups cooked, peeled chestnuts
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup sherry
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cook and peel the chestnuts by scoring the skins with a "X" and placing them in boiling water for 20 minutes. Peel the chestnuts making sure to get the secondary layer of skin. Set them aside. Heat the oil in a large skillet, add the onions and fennel and cook gently for a half hour, until the onions are very soft. Coarsely chop the peeled chestnuts and add them to the pan along with the sugar, vinegar and sherry. Season well with 1 teaspoon of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Let the mixture simmer, stirring occasionally for about 1 hour or until the liquid has thickened. Take this time to set up a water bath canner. Funnel the chutney into clean, hot jars and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Allow chutney to cool completely before serving.
-If you would like to avoid canning you can store chutney in refrigerator for 3-4 months.
-This chutney is lovely with a little cheese (think really good blue cheese) or bread. It can also be used to spruce up some thanksgiving leftovers.
Fall is here. You can feel the difference in the air, and the crunch underfoot. Thinking back to the end of summer when most mothers were signing up their children for pre-school. Should I be doing the same? He is only just three years old, and perhaps I still want to be selfish. This is my favorite time to explore the world. There is so much changing, so much beauty. I'm not ready for schedules. Not ready to get up early, get dressed and drive to put my child inside a building. I know it is important, socialization, right? But, right now my heart tells me that this is most important. There is always next year, four years old, maybe he will be more willing to leave me and his brother to join in the fun at school. But for now we live in the forest by the river. Collecting rocks and caterpillars underneath the leaves. We pick berries and hunt for black walnuts. Riding bikes along the banks, watching the geese huddling up together for warmth. We take the right twists and turns to arrive at our favorite spot for throwing rocks into the river.
The bubbling of the water over smooth stones. The firm breeze blowing leaves down from tree tops. My scarf tied firmly up to my lips and my camera slung over my shoulder. Out in the woods, boys are free to run and throw, dig, get dirty, and use sticks for swords. It may not be learning to write their name or cutting with scissors, but it too plays an important role in their development. I don't regret my choices, but like every mother, I can't help but wonder if I am doing the right thing. This feels right to me, it always has. The boundaries and walls are broken, you can feel the freedom the same way you can feel the gloves on your fingers. There is no one on earth that could convince me that this is not important. To learn to love nature and be comfortable in it. I pity those that find no comfort in the arms of mother nature. The ones that look at a river and see only that. They cannot see the life in her, they cannot see the new adventures waiting around every bend.
I have always been drawn to the woods. Plants are my thing I guess you could say. Which is why when I found out what black walnuts look like, I literally screamed, "THAT'S WHAT THOSE ARE." I know where to get those, and I know where to get those right now! So after watching a quick tutorial on YouTube, I hopped in the car with the boys and headed down to the river of course. There they were, and it was only a matter of a few seconds before the boys had some in their hands. All I had to do was open up a bag and they instinctively knew to start collecting. When we got them home I started off, heeding the warning about using gloves, but like most of my projects they came off quickly. I had brown stained fingers for weeks. I was seriously starting to doubt this little project, until a few days ago when I started opening up the black walnuts and picking out the nut meat. The smell is amazing. Reminiscent of a regular walnut, but something a hundred times more intense. A sharp spicy woody scent that is also dark and musky. I hear they are great to bake with so my first thought was towards scones. Something with maple syrup and buttermilk since I just got finished making some butter. In total I got about 8 oz. of black walnuts so I might have to try some cookies next. If you are not thrilled about the time and effort it takes to get black walnuts you could always buy some online at Hammon's Nut Emporium. And if I have peeked your interest in black walnuts and you want to find out how Hammon's is able to sell this wild nut, then take a look at this video.
Maple Black Walnut Scones
makes 8 scones
1 1/2 cups of old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup of chopped black walnuts
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1/4 cup of pure maple syrup
1 1/2 cups of sprouted spelt flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (5 oz.) butter
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spread oats and black walnuts evenly on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for 7-9 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Let the oats and walnuts cool completely. Increase oven temp to 450°F. Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk the buttermilk, egg and maple syrup together in a bowl until incorporated. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the liquid in a small bowl for glazing the scones later. In a large bowl place flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or your hands until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Stir in the cooled oats and walnuts. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the liquid ingredients just until large clumps begin to form. Continue mixing the dough by hand until you can gather everything into one large ball. Dust counter top with some flour and turn out the dough onto the counter top. Gently pat the dough into a 7 inch circle about 1 inch thick. Cut the dough into 8 wedges and place them on the prepared baking sheet, making sure to space the pieces about 2 inches apart. Brush each wedge with the reserved egg mixture and sprinkle on some extra chopped black walnuts. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer scones to a wire rack to cool for about 30 minutes before serving.
Well, hello there. No, you're not imagining things -- that butternut mac and cheese photo really is much crappier than what you normally see here! It's because I'm not Sandra and that's my craptacular photo.
I'm Jules (aka, The Ninj) and I normally blog over at Yankee Kitchen Ninja, where I write from my home in Vermont about what I call "stealthy homemaking" -- healthy recipes that are easy to prepare, how to use CSA produce creatively, gardening tips and the occasional DIY project, with a heavy dollop of humor and snark.
I'm a big fan of Sandra's recipes and photography, so when she suggested we do a blog swap for a day, I jumped at the chance.
Originally, we decided to each pick a recipe involving pumpkin for this blog swap, given that we planned it for October. Hilariously, we both realized soon after that we were already completely sick of pumpkin (and assumed you probably were, too) so instead opened our topic up to all fall squash.
Even more hilariously, out of “all fall squash”, we both ended up choosing butternut squash.
But come on, who can blame us? It's the squash that, with a little butter and maple syrup, can nearly taste like candy.
(Not quite like candy, I realize. But more like candy than, say, a paper bag though, right? Bear with me, I tend to be dramatic when it comes to trying to get you to make a recipe I like.)
I'm totally jazzed about this butternut mac and cheese recipe -- largely because my husband actually ate it.
Little back story: My husband is not a fan of vegetables and claims that it's not often the taste but the texture that turns him off (he is genuinely afraid of asparagus). It's sort of like having a 3-year-old picky eater, to which I'm sure many of you can relate. So when he saw the roasted butternut squash sitting on the kitchen counter as I pulled this dish together, he freaked. I assured him that, because it was being incorporated into the cheesy sauce, he'd never even know it was there.
I was lying, of course.
But, holy smokes, it turned out to be true! The mashed squash almost melts into the cheesy sauce, yielding a pasta dish that truly earns its "mac and cheese" monniker. This is like sneaking beets into chocolate cake: it tastes delicious and comforting and you don't even realize how loaded it is with good-for-you vegetables.
With respect for Sandra's largely vegetarian focus, I resisted adding bacon to this butternut mac and cheese (believe me, it almost killed me, as I generally refer to myself as a meatasaurus). So if you're not strictly a vegetarian, throw some bacon in there – trust me, you'll be extra happy.
Another thing that's handy about this butternut mac and cheese is that, if you're pressed for time, there's a squash prep shortcut that can make this fast enough for even the busiest night of the week: if you don't have time to oven-roast the squash, simply steam it until soft and mashable in a veggie steamer basket on the stovetop or in your microwave.
Thanks for reading and I hope you're inspired to give this butternut mac and cheese a whirl. And feel free to drop by anytime and see what else The Ninj is cooking up at www.yankeekitchenninja.com
(adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)
10 ounces curly pasta (something with enough curves to hold the sauce – I used cavatappi)
3 ½ – 4 cups peeled, “gutted” and diced butternut squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 cups sliced mushrooms (about 8 ounces)
I bunch green onions, sliced and divided
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup skim or 2% milk
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
pinch of nutmeg
2 cups shredded fontina cheese
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Bring a small amount of water to boil in a pot with a veggie steamer placed inside. Add the squash, cover the pot and steam for about 10 minutes or until the squash is very soft when poked with a fork. [NOTE: Alternately, you can roast the squash, tossed with a little olive oil and salt and pepper, on a baking sheet at 450 degrees for about 25 minutes or until mashable. This can be done in advance.] Mash the squash well and set it aside.
Cook the pasta until al dente. While it is cooking, heat the butter and olive oil in a large pan until hot and foamy. Add the mushrooms and ½ cup sliced green onions (more, if you are an onion fan) and cook for a few minutes until tender (the mushrooms will just begin to brown). Add the flour; cook, stirring continually, for about a minute, until the mixture is well combined. Add the milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg and cook until thickened (this only takes a minute or two). Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the mashed squash, forming a creamy, orange sauce. Add the cooked pasta and stir gently to coat.
Put half the pasta mixture into a prepared 2 or 2 1/2-quart baking dish and sprinkle with 1 cup of cheese. Add the remaining pasta and top with the remaining cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and it looks yummy to you. Serve sprinkled with green onions.
It has been exactly one year to the day since my very first post here on Kitchen Apparel. One year and 66 post later I thought it might be fun to mark the occasion of my blog's anniversary by going back to that very first recipe. Back to my humble and naive beginnings, when I was just a girl with a new domain name and web host (whatever the hell those things are anyway?). Figuring out the details that go into making a website caused many long nights, oodles of swear words, and more tears then I care to remember. I'm not exactly an easygoing person when things don't work how I expect them to, but I eventually worked out the kinks and developed a rhythm that suits me. And I'd like to think that in one year I've learned my way around the blogosphere, but with every new click I fall deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole. This wonderland of bloggers has been by far the most rewarding aspect of this whole journey. The characters I have met and the new friends I have made (and continue to make), are the driving force of my continued efforts. In all honesty I started this blog because I needed it. I always desperately wanted to be a stay at home mother, but after doing it for three years I discovered that I was no longer able to find myself among the routine and the plastic toys. I devoted so much effort and time into my children that I had lost who I was, I lost that spark that was, ME. Once I learned that it was ok to place importance on myself I began to recreate who I was, and I started to soar. With this blog and the support from those of you reading, I have found something so much more than just a hobby or a side project. I have found a legitimate home.
I have run through so many feelings and ideas as to what I wanted to make of my blog or what I wanted to get out of it. I've decided that the measurement of success is not what is important or necessarily why I choose to write and photograph my lunch. I do this because it makes me happy. It provides me with a healthy challenge. Every day I learn something new or become inspired in a way that changes my life, even in the smallest of details. I can't be something or someone I'm not, so every day I learn that I have to love who I am, and always be my authentic self.
Yup, that is me down there. The baby screaming. I was told that I did that, a lot. I love this picture. I love it because I am surrounded by three of the most influential women in my life. All three of them are still around supporting me in every way possible. I am the most lucky person because I have always had my mother, my grandmother and my great-grandmother looking out for me. If you remember my first post, or if you took a quick peek, you know that it was dedicated to my great grandmother, Ethel Gidney. I spent many times as a young girl in her kitchen learning how to make bread or Christmas stolen. She is one of the most amazing people I know, and in a few months she will be turning one hundred and three. It boggles the mind, doesn't it? The things she has seen, the time, the advances in technology. A year ago I couldn't think of any better way to start my blog, and now on my first anniversary there is no better way to celebrate it.
In one year I have totally changed my mind about food and I'll admit I have completely immersed myself into the new canning culture. I might be a walking blogging stereotype but if that is the case I couldn't care less. I love canning and I love how you can take the best of each season and save it in a jar. I was so proud of myself this year because not only did I make green tomato relish, but this year I used green tomatoes from my own garden. A lot of them, twelve pounds to be exact. It was a little bit of a full circle moment for me, as silly as it sounds. Canning was always something I wanted to try but I was never brave enough to do it. If there is one thing this year has taught me, its that we should never push off learning something new because it seems difficult or scary. My very first post on this website was in fact my very first time canning. It was a little scary, I'll admit, but starting this blog has always been about pushing myself. It took me a while to find my confidence to even start this blog, but now that I am here I feel so empowered by everything thing I have learned.
So with a few jars full of "green stuff" in my bag I decided to take a trip up to see my great-grandmother to give her some. I had a great day talking to her about the past and her family. We talked about the green tomato relish and she asked if I wanted to see something. See that big contraption (on the bottom left), that is her 1930's Hamilton Beach hand mixer that attaches to a grinder. She told me that this was how she used to grind all the vegetables to make her relish. Yeah, there were no food processors back then, and if there were, she didn't have one. We plugged in this antique and believe it or not, it actually still works. I asked her why she started making green tomato relish and she said it was because her sister-in-law had a garden and they wanted to make something with all the vegetables she was growing at the time. She found the recipe, and because it is so delicious, over the years it just became part of our family history.
Granny's Green Tomato Relish
makes about 7 cups
6 cups of ground green tomatoes (about 12 large ones)
2 cups of ground onion (1-2 large ones)
1 cup of ground green peppers (1 large one)
2 cups of white vinegar
3 cups of sugar
1/8 cup of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons celery seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
1 tablespoon tumeric (optional - This time I left it out)
Cut, seed, and coarsely chop the green tomatoes and place in a food processor or blender. Gently pulse tomatoes until they are finely minced (but not to the point of a puree) and place in a large bowl. Do the same for the onion and pepper and add them to the tomato. Bring water to a boil in either a tea kettle or saucepan and pour boiling water over the tomato, peppers, and onions completely covering them. Let the whole thing stand for about 5 minutes and then strain out the water. Place the mixture into a large saucepan or pot and add the remaining ingredients. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium to high heat and continue to boil for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spoon hot mixture into hot sterilized jars, leaving a 1/2 inch head space and place caps on. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.
UPDATE: The giveaway is now closed. Thanks Everyone!!!
* Well if you made it this far with me I have a little surprise. I have lots and lots of green tomato relish from this year I was thinking about doing a little giveaway. If you are interested in trying some of my green tomato relish then leave a comment below and on Friday, October 25th, I will pick someone at random to receive a 1/2 pint jar. (United States only...sorry!)
I have a healthy and intense love for cauliflower. So intense that I'll eat it plain, steamed, fried, roasted and heck yes, in the form of Pizza. Pizza? Hell yeah, Pizza! I came across this cauliflower pizza crust craze about a year ago when I was searching the internet for healthy meals and gluten-free options. It was about the same time I was learning about "food blogs" and deciding whether or not I should start my own. I combed through blog after blog reading all different methods and recipes. What really knocked me off my seat was a picture of someone holding a cauliflower pizza crust exactly the way you would hold a regular slice of pizza. Ok, so now I'm hooked.
Not all cauliflower pizza crust recipes work well, and there are a few different methods that bloggers around the internet will use. Some will cook or microwave the "cauliflower rice" and some do not. What I have come to learn after trying a few different methods is that you can achieve a great crust so long as you address the issue of Moisture. Cauliflower is full of moisture so you either have to cook and press the liquid out of the "rice" or add some sort of flour that will absorb the moisture while it pre-bakes in the oven.
These are the two recipes that I use and why:Green Pizza with a Cauliflower Base by Green Kitchen Stories
(The recipe can also be found in their book)
-This recipe does not require you to cook the cauliflower first which is great. It uses almond meal to soak up some of the moisture, but because of the almond meal the crust tends to be a little sweet. What I like about this recipe is the lack of cheese (most other recipes include cheese, but lets face it, there are times when I don't have enough or forget to pick some up) If you are going to use this recipe I have also discovered that you can use coconut flour in place of the almond meal because it is also good at soaking up moisture.
The Secret To Perfect Cauliflower Pizza Crust by The Detoxinista
-This recipe used to be the only one that explained how cooking and squeezing the moisture out of the cauliflower would result in a pizza crust you could actually pick up. The problem with this recipe is that she takes the time to cook the cauliflower when you can really just microwave it. The reason why I like this recipe so much is because she uses goat cheese instead of mozzarella like most other recipes. This really is my go-to crust recipe but like I said above, I don't always have goat cheese so it is great to have an alternative.
Nap time rolls around and it is finally time to do something great for myself. I am the only one in our house that will eat cauliflower pizza so it is a treat I make just for me. If I wind up eating more slices then I should, I don't beat myself up too much because it's mostly vegetables anyway, right?
I know I have been using rosemary a lot lately, but my rosemary bush has been growing out of control. It's amazing what a move across the backyard and a little manure will do. Rosemary is just one of those plants that is very particular about where it wants to live.
Cauliflower Pizza with Ricotta, Tomato and Peach
serves 2-4 1 head of cauliflower or 3-4 cups of cauliflower "rice"
3/4 cups of almond meal or coconut flour
1 tablespoon of dried oregano (I use Penzeys "Pizza Seasoning")
1 cup of ricotta cheese
3 small tomatoes, sliced
4 tablespoons of roasted peach preserves or one fresh peach, skinned and chopped
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a food processor, pulse the cauliflower until it resembles rice and put it all into a large bowl. Add the three eggs, almond meal, dried seasonings including salt and pepper to your liking. Mix everything together, using your hands is best, until the mixture will stick together into one large ball. If the mixture is still to moist add a bit more almond meal. On a parchment lined baking sheet press out the cauliflower mixture with your hands to form the pizza crust. Pre-bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the sides are slightly browned. Take the pizza crust out of the oven and spread one cup of ricotta cheese over the whole crust. Top with tomato slices and chopped peach preserves. Sprinkle some finely chopped fresh rosemary and salt and pepper over the top and bake again for another 5-10 minutes. Take the pizza out of the oven and allow it to cool slightly and serve.
Weeknight dinners are never easy. They need to be something that everyone will eat and serve as the occasional reheated leftover for a late husband. The regular lineup gets boring, so I comb through a few old books and take a quick inventory around the kitchen. Plenty of tomatoes, gigantic garden zucchini, and perhaps a chunk of cheese. There is always cheese. Dispatching tomatoes has become second nature, my hands now working independently. The dishes pile up in my sink, but not every meal can be a one-pot wonder. The smell permeating from the oven is enough to make me forget the mess, for now.
I would never have expected a meal like to this to be something my little guys would eat. Yet each time I made it I marveled at how many forkfuls made it into little mouths. ""Mmmmmm" little fingers grouped together continuously touch; baby sign language for "More." The only sign language I managed to get either of my boys to use, but probably one of the most helpful tools in my day. Family and friends always ask how I manage to make meals such as this with two little ones around. I'm not really sure how or what the answer is. Tomato sauce in the morning, saute and grate during nap time, and assemble and bake 45 minutes before we eat. My hands are in a continual state of busy, but that is where they are the happiest.
If you can't find a goat's milk Gouda cheese you could use Gruyère or another type of firm tangy cheese. The herbs could be in any form of fresh or dried. I personally love to use fresh parsley and Basil but sometimes I don't always have them available. One night last week I actually decided to add some pureed ambercup squash to my tomato sauce and fresh sage to make a more "fall-ish" version, that turned out equally as delicious.
3-4 pounds of whole tomatoes
3 small onions (or 1 large), chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 large zucchini
8 oz Goat's Milk Gouda Cheese, Grated
3 oz Pecorino Romano, Grated
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Fresh Herbs (Parsley, Basil, Sage, Thyme)
Blanch, peel, remove the seeds and roughly chop the tomatoes. In a large pot heat some olive oil and saute the onions and garlic. Add the tomatoes to the pot and simmer until it thickens. Add some salt and pepper to taste.
Using a mandolin, slice the zucchini into rounds 1/8 inch thick. Saute the zucchini rounds in a few batches, in a large frying pan until they are soft and slightly browned. I add a bit of salt and pepper to each batch. Set them all aside in a large bowl until they are cool to the touch. Grate your cheeses and mix them together in a small bowl. Mince your fresh herbs and place them in a small bowl.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Using a large roasting pan, assemble your gratin. The first layer should be tomato sauce. Cover the tomato sauce in a layer of the zucchini rounds, making sure to overlap them slightly. Top the zucchini with some cheese and herbs and then continue adding more layers....sauce, zucchini, cheese, herbs...etc. Use up as much of your ingredients as possible or until the gratin is almost to the top of the pan. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until the top becomes crispy and golden brown.
The seasons change. The weather turns. We pack the car with precious cargo and drive. It has been a little more than three years, and he has been waiting to return back to the place he loved most. A place that holds tender memories for all of us. It is hard to separate out feelings but a hard walk up a mountain leads to the conclusion, the closure we needed. And once all was laid to rest we couldn't help but realize the amazing task we all accomplished together...Gone yet not forgotten.
The Catskill region of New York State is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. It isn't hard to see why my grandfather loved it so much. Walking through the woods at this time of year you can find wild fruit everywhere. Blackberries, apples and grapes. In the back of my mind I am thinking, "Dam, I really wish I had thought to bring a basket." Wild blackberries are so much better then store brought ones; sweeter, less seedy, and perfectly sized. Keeping still the task at hand, we all had fun nibbling on a few handfuls and remembering. The property may no longer belong to our family, but the memories and whispers that linger will always be ours. One tiny marked grave will forever be hiding in the hills, under the shade of a single pine tree.
It was a long beautiful weekend, but I came home and realized that I still have tomatoes, so many tomatoes. My hands are begging me to relax from canning. They threw up the little white flag and what I thought would be a nice long weekend to recoup, didn't quite solve the problem just yet. The weather turned cooler overnight, so what better way to warm up the house in the morning then to make some baked eggs. I have seen a recipe like this one before, but I always knew I wanted to try it with some additional pesto. And why not top everything with a few chives, you can never go wrong with chives. This was just the type of breakfast I needed to get me back into the swing of everyday life.
Baked Eggs in Whole Tomatoes
Serves six - Adapted from Whole Living 6 large tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and ground black pepper
3 teaspoons pesto, divided
6 large eggs
chives to garnishHeat oven to 400°F. Slice the top third off tomatoes and scoop out most of the insides with a spoon. Arrange the tomatoes in a baking dish, spoon 1/2 teaspoon of pesto into each tomato and spread it around the insides. Drizzle two tablespoons of olive oil over all the tomatoes. Roast until tomatoes are tender but still holding their shape, about 15 minutes. At which point crack an egg into each tomato and season it with salt and pepper. Bake until eggs are just set, 7 to 9 minutes more. Garnish with chives and serve warm with toast or crusty bread. (You will definitely need something to soak up all of this wonderful meal)
“So was I once myself a swinger of birches. And so I dream of going back to be.” - Robert Frost
Apple picking has been a fall tradition in my family for years. I can remember running through fields with my brother trying to find a low branch that would gain us access to the tree tops above. Most of the time our attempts were thwarted by our mother, who would then scold us down. My father would place us on his shoulders to grab the ripest fruit from the tops of the trees. Carrying paper bags full of apples with sticky fingers and the warm sweet smell of rotting fruit among blades of grass. Some of my earliest memories take place under the shade of what seemed to be gigantic apples trees. I always wonder if those trees were actually as big as I thought or if the world really is bigger through the eyes of children.
It seems only natural that I now get to make new memories with my own children. For the last three years we have made the pilgrimage to Melick's Town Farm, along with many other families just like ours. Apple picking is one of those many activities that families choose to partake in over and over again. It is undeniable that teaching your children where food comes from has its importance. But if you have ever eaten a freshly picked apple or peach you can agree with me that we don't only go to learn. We go for the sweet cider and the powder covered apple cider donuts of course. The hay rides, the goats, the wide open spaces to run through tall grass. The time to sit under the shade of a peach tree and just be!
Lately I have been obsessed with two things. Ok, not only two things but those are problems for another day. So, Julianne over at Yankee Kitchen Ninja is always roasting her fruit to make jam. I was completely in awe over how she roasted strawberries and rhubarb (I am still pouring it over my crepes and pancakes) and I was at a loss when I found out that she was also roasting sour cherries, from cherries she grew in her very orchard (are you also jealous now). I missed my chance to roast some cherries (unless I decided to exhume some from the frozen recesses of my freezer this winter) but I vowed to never miss a roasting opportunity again. We all know apples are great roasted and I heard that peaches are as well. So for the last four days I have been roasting a new fruit everyday. Some with better luck then others...I still hate figs if you are wondering...hate them...a lot. But thankfully I had lots of luck with my apples and peaches. With a few sprigs of fresh herbs these roasted preserves can be part of a savory or sweet dish in anything from breakfast to dinner. Save a little in the refrigerator for now and can the rest for the months ahead. An addiction to canning...its a good obsession to have, right?
Roasted Peach Preserves with Rosemary
4-6 pounds of peaches, peeled, pitted and chopped
9-10 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 cup unrefined cane sugar
juice from 1 lemon
pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the chopped peaches into a large roasting pan and cover with rosemary, sugar, lemon and salt. Cover the roasting pan with aluminum foil and bake for one hour. Remove the aluminum foil and continue to roast for another hour, stirring occasionally. Continue to check to make sure the peaches are not burning. When they are done the peaches will be golden and soft, and the liquid should be bubbly and thick. Before serving remove the springs of rosemary and discard them. At this point you could serve the preserves warm or save them in a container in the refrigerator. You could also can the preserves by following proper canning procedures and processing them in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.
Roasted Apple Preserves with Thyme
4-6 pounds of apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 bunch of fresh thyme
6 oz of honey
1/2 cup of water
juice from 1 lemon
pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Add chopped apples to a large roasting pan. Cover with fresh thyme, honey, water, lemon and pinch of salt. Cover the roasting pan with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for one hour. Remove the foil and continue to roast for another hour, stirring occasionally. Continue to check to make sure the apples are not burning. When they are done the apples will be golden and soft, and the liquid should be bubbly and thick. Before serving or canning remove any large sticks of thyme and discard them. At this point you could serve the preserves warm or save them in a container in the refrigerator. You could also can the preserves by following proper canning procedures and processing them in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
....and if you haven't noticed I am quiet obsessed with vintage black and white enamel...but who wouldn't be!
Months in the waiting, weeks to plan and only a few hours to catch up. There need not be a reason to get together with a best friend, but gossiping around berry bushes is just plain fun. Fields of raspberries (and a handful of nosy sheep and goats) hold our secrets and plots against the men in our lives. We fill up our containers while talking about future plans and recent trips, occasionally looking up to gauge our distance apart. Irina picks faster, with childhood years of experience behind her. I work a bit slower, always being super picky about which berries will make it into my container. Sharing goals and dreams with someone who truly understands and loves you for who you are, is a gift unlike any other. Berry picking with a best friend becomes a soul soothing afternoon under sunny blue skies. The fields we picked in are located in Chester, NJ. Alstede Farm is one of my most favorite pick-your-own farms in the area. They offer so many different types of fruits and vegetables on hundreds of acres. You can get lost in peppers, hike a mile to get some eggplant or sit down under a blueberry bush and pick for hours. But my favorite from this trip had to be the golden (yellow) raspberries. Surprisingly they taste very different from the red raspberries. We threw around words like honey sweet, sparkling champagne, or peachy berry (we can't help ourselves, we are ex-fragrance industry professionals after all). After tasting some of these berries I knew I really wanted to make some sort of sweet dessert tart. I turned to Green Kitchen Stories for some inspiration on a gluten-free tart. They just recently made a wild berry tart which sounded perfect. The crust recipe is essentially the same, except for my decision to increase the amount of almond flour because the oats seemed a bit overwhelming. I also used honey in my recipe since I had some lovely wildflower honey from Alstede Farm. (If you want to keep this tart vegan then substitute maple syrup) I decided to layer the berries on top of some of my homemade Peach Butter with Honey & Cardamom. It is very easy to make, but you can also find it at many farm stores or farmers markets. The peach butter and the fresh berries together inside a tart reminiscent of an almond oatmeal cookie is exquisite!!! I imagine that regular red raspberries would also taste great.
Raspberry-Peach Tart (Gluten-Free)
adapted from Wild Berry, Almond & Oat Tart
by Green Kitchen Storiesmakes 1 (8-inch) tart
1 cup rolled oats (certified gluten-free)
3/4 cup ground almond flour
2 tablespoons corn starch
1/4 sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons honey + extra to drizzle
1/2 cup peach butter
1 pint of yellow or golden raspberries (if using frozen, thaw first)Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a bowl mix the rolled oats, ground almond flour, corn starch and salt. Add the vanilla extract, coconut oil and 2 tablespoons of honey to the flour mixture and gently combine with your hands until a dough forms. Press the dough into a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap. Place the dough into the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes. Then take the dough out and press it evenly into an 8 inch tart pan, making sure to press firmly around the edges. Prick the bottom of the tart crust with a fork and pre-bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove the tart crust from the oven and allow it to cool slightly. Spread 1/2 a cup of peach butter into the bottom of the tart and sprinkle the raspberries on top. Drizzle a little extra honey over the top of the raspberries. Return tart to the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the filling is bubbly and the crust turns golden brown.
Serve warm with some ice cream, yogurt or just a little extra honey.