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Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Ratatouille of Sorts

My last post was based off of another person's recipe. This post is based off of another person's recipe. Apparently, I've been more into reading recipes than  I have been into whipping up original creations lately. That said, this ratatouille feels like the answer for every overzealous gardener who finds him/herself with an abundance of veggies. Like the Swiss Roll recipe I posted last month, the ingredients in this recipe are flexible; I've made two different versions during this week alone.

The inspiration for this comes from The Week magazine's "Recipe of the Week" page. Officially called "Ratatouille tian," this is often served over rice or as fillings for a sandwich. Here at our house, we simply make it and serve it up. We also don't have the proper baking ware -- the tian is actually the earthen baking ware used traditionally. We simply used a glass pie pan, which seems to work just fine.

I also would recommend adding in sliced sweet peppers or other vegetables that would caramelize well. 

This recipe is easy to put together, but does require about 1.5 hours of baking!

3-4 small eggplant
3 tsp herbs de Provence
3-4 zucchini
6-8 Roma tomatoes
olive oil
2 yellow onions
8 fresh sage leaves, minced
2+ garlic cloves, minced

1. Cut eggplants into 1/8-inch sections.  In a colander, toss with a teaspoon of salt. Let sit for one (or more) hour(s). Transfer to a bowl, and add a teaspoon of herbs de Provence.
2. Cut zucchini and tomatoes into 1/8-rounds. Put into two separate bowls. Sprinkle each vegetable with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 tsp herbs de Provence.
3. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly oil baking dish. Thinly slice onions. Spread them evenly on the bottom of the pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
4. Arrange a row of one of the vegetables along the side of the...pack them tight enough that they almost stand upright. Follow with another row of vegetables. And then the other. Alternate to fill up the pan. If you have extras at the end, simply stuff them into the rows.
5. Drizzle with 3 Tbsp olive oil, spread the minced garlic and cut-up sage leaves among the veggies, and cover loosely with foil. Bake for 30 minutes.
6. Turn up the heat to 425, and bake 30 more minutes.
7. Remove foil, and bake for 30 more minutes or until the veggies are tender, and the tips are lightly browned.
8. Serve  hot, warm, or cold.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Swiss Chard Rolls

The recipe I want to share with you all today is not my original recipe; it is stolen, but it makes such a delicious and healthy product that I feel compelled to write about it. And it was "stolen" from our CSA newsletter, which makes me feel a little bit more okay with my almost-recipe-plagiarism.

All wrapped and ready to go.
Anyone who has ever grown Swiss Chard and/or collard greens knows that it can be hard to keep up with cutting, using, and really maximizing all of bounty that a few plants offer. I freeze bags full for smoothies and winter stews, but enjoying it in its actual season, and near its raw state, is satisfying. This recipe lends itself to just that.

And one word about the ingredients: like any fold-able food (think burritos, egg rolls), the ingredients in these rolls can vary. I enjoyed the creamy texture that the avocado provides with the slight kick from the jalapeno in this version, but building these really requires a grain, a sauce, and some diced veggies. I intend to play with various versions and spice combos, but I do not doubt that I will come back to this exact version from time to time.

We enjoyed this at an evening at Concerts on the Square with a bottle (or two) of Chardonnay.

Swiss Chard Rolls 
by Chef Beth, Harmony Valley Farm

Makes 8 rolls

8-10 large chard leaves (we also used collard greens)
1/8 cup yellow squash, small dice
1/8 cup cucumber, small dice
1 half avocado, small dice
1/2 cup black beans, rinsed
1 cup seasoned quinoa, cooked
Juice from one lime
1/2 jalapeno pepper, small dice
2 Tbs mayonnaise
1/2 medium sweet Spanish onions, small dice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp coarse pepper

1. Bring large sauce pan of salted water to a boil. Blanch each chard or collard green leaf by holding onto the stem, placing the leaf in the boiling water for 15 seconds. Then, transfer to a towel and pat each leaf dry.
2. In a mixing bowl, mix all other ingredients. One by one, fill the leaves, ribbed side facing up, with a spoon of the mixture.
3. Fold in the sides of the leaves, and fold into a roll. Finish by cutting the stem and cutting each roll in half and place on a serving tray. Serve.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Barbacoa, Take Three

I have been on somewhat of an unintentional blogging hiatus. Work and life sped up, and blogging took a backseat. This Memorial Day weekend's barbacoa rejuvenated me in more ways than one, and I've revived my writer's bug. There exists nothing quite like a day of cooking with people whom you love to get the creative juices flowing.

In years past, along with our friends, we have tried to put goat or lamb meat in the ground under a fire. Once we burned through the pot, and the second time, we didn't cook the meat enough and had to reheat it in the house. This year, we attempted another approach: we put the meat, water, and maguey leaves in a pot and set it on top of the fire for the day. It seems like it was quite the success: according to the meat-eaters, the meat tasted tender and juicy.

While the barbacoa turned out well, we did have a bit of a fiasco with our carnitas. My good friend, Gaby, came over in the morning to prepare both the lamb meat for the barbacoa and also get the pork meat going for the carnitas. I watched as she added containers of lard, orange juice, milk, and a bit of caramel to the pot, and finally the pork. It smelled delicious. She left to get ready for the day; I went outside and, being the non-meat-eater that I am, I figured all was well with the cooking meat. But, by the time Gaby returned, the pork had turned to charcoal.  As a vegetarian, I felt guilty that the pig meat was a waste...but mistakes happen, and next time, I'll know to pay more attention. No use crying over burnt pig.
Carnitas before they became charcoal

Friends arrived, and the feast exploded. Someone brought carnitas (thank you!). Salsas, rice and beans, berry pie, chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting (with a cayanne kick), beer, beer, beer, tequila and lime drinks, hibiscus tea, Thai tea, chorizo, tortillas, fruit salad, and more salsa filled three tables. We gorged ourselves. Some of us took naps. Others of us needed coffee to help digest. A few of us poured insane amounts of leftover grease onto the campfire (yes, we  have a pyromaniac on our hands). Friends told stories. New friends got to know one another. All of us laughed.
Who knew dumping grease on a campfire could be so fun?

Despite the cool Memorial Day weekend, I haven't felt so cozy warm all year. The fire helped, but what really did it were the presence of such wonderful people, the vast amount of such amazing food, and the joy of such a blissful day of cooking. Barbacoa, take three, proved to an enormous success.