New England Farm Pie is in process! When my friends at Eat Boston and the Grand in Somerville invited me to Pi Daypalooza I decided to make a New England Farm pie. I tried to use as many ingredients from local companies and farms as possible which is a bit of a challenge at the end of a long New England winter. I allowed myself some white sugar and salt but everything else needed to be made or grown in New England.
I have made delicious beet and chocolate cupcakes in the past and so I decided that since winter stored beets are good and available and since Somerville is the home of the fabulous Taza chocolate company, I would make a beet and chocolate pie.
I grabbed the last few beets that I had stored from Winter Moon Farm in Hadley, MA and bought more from Deep Root Farm at Cityfeed in Jamaica Plain. I also bought some eggs from Allandale farm in Brookline, MA at Cityfeed. I found some Vermont bacon at Sherman Market along with butter and heavy cream from High Lawn Dairy in Lee, MA. In my pantry I always have King Arthur which is a Vermont-based company and the only flour I like to use. I also had buckwheat honey left from a fall farmers market at a Mass Pike rest stop (believe it or not you can stop for gas, coffee, and local produce and products in season!) and, stashed in the freezer, were some Cape Cod cranberries.
First step was candying the bacon. I cooked spread the bacon strips out on a rack and placed the rack on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven. After about 30 minutes, I slathered the almost crisp bacon with buckwheat honey and cooked for another 10 minutes. Then I turned up the oven to 400 degrees and set to roasting the beets. I then chopped them up and ran them through the food mill. At the same time I cooked a cup of cranberries with a third of a cup each of water and sugar. When they were very soft, I passed the fruit through a course sieve.
The next step was making the chocolate curd. I beat eggs and sugar over simmering water until they were very thick and then added melted chocolate and butter. Finally I mixed in some of the beet and cranberry purees. I left this to set in the refrigerator.
Tomorrow is crust time and pie finishing and eating.
As so often happens when I make the acquaintance of a new and interesting vegetable the first thing I think is what it make a good pickle? I picked up some tindora at Russos in Watertown, MA which are a small cucumber like vegetables that look a bit like tiny elongated watermelons. They are often prepared stir fried in Indian cuisine but they are tasty and crisp served raw.
I prepared a simple brine of water, salt, sugar, and vinegar and then decided to add some coriander, cumin, mustard, peppercorns, and chili powder to give it some Indian flavor. As the brine cooked, I spotted the watermelon radishes that I purchased at the last winter farmers market in Wayland. I sliced a few and they looked so beautiful with the tindora that I threw them in a bowl together. When the brine had cooled, I poured it over the tindora and radishes and left them overnight to pickle in the refrigerator.
The pickles were bright and crunchy and looked charming presented in an antique green depression glass bowl. I am not sure how these will hold up to canning but I will give it a try soon perhaps. Perhaps they will even make it into my canning and preserving classes coming up this spring.
I love fresh farm eggs and so when I was invited to a brunch a few weeks ago and had just picked up two dozen eggs at the winter farmers market in Wayland, an egg dish seemed a natual choice. Quiche is my go to brunch dish and the tart pans stood at the ready but I shunned them in favor of a frittata. Actually, several dozen little frittatas with cheddar cheese and mushroom and shallot Duxelles. A number of people attending the event are watching their weight and reducing fat so I made one batch fat-free by using egg white and fat-free ricotta cheese and added a bit of red pepper.
I baked them in muffin cups and placed a round piece of rye bread in the bottom of each buttered cup (non-sick spray was used for the fat-free version). The rye bread lent the dish a bit of sweetness and body when they were unmolded.
Try this with your favorite frittata recipe for your next brunch and watch your frittatas disappear by the dozen!
My Dad used to make potato puffs as a fancy and easy to serve alternative to mashed potatoes for large dinner parties. Everyone loved them.
Over the years, I have adapted the recipe; adding a sweet potato version, making them with matzoh for passover, and baking them in muffin tins rather than scooping them onto a baking tray. The first time years ago that my best friend’s daughter tried them she called them “potato muffins” and, although they are not really muffins, the name just stuck.
The basic recipe is white or sweet potatoes mashed with butter and for white potatoes a little milk. The mashed potatoes are then chilled and mixed with eggs and plain bread crumbs until stiff enough to hold their shape. Then the real fun begins.
I mix the sweet potato version with a bit of honey and spices and top with pecans. Sometimes I mix in a little crushed pineapple and top with cinnamon sugar.
For white potatoes, I add cheddar cheese, sour cream, and a sprinkle of paprika on top. Sometimes I add wasabi and green onions. Anything that tastes good in a baked potato would probably work well in your muffins.
This weekend I am making mini potato muffins with bacon and goat cheese for a cocktail party.
I hope you will try these and let me know if you come up with any great new flavors!
I created this salad to showcase the variety of produce available at the farmers markets in November in Massachusetts. I served it at the Public Radio Kitchen Meet Up, Eat Up event last week.
You can substitute any root vegetables that you find at the market but I used:
Kimball Fruit Farm Carrots (yellow, apricot, bright orange) and Onions
Grateful Farm Fennel bulbs
Busa Farms Beets (gold, red, and purple), Carrots, and Red Leaf Lettuce
Four Town Farm Macomber Turnips
The vegetables were all roasted in the oven until tender and then dressed while still warm with the fig, lemon, ginger dressing below. I then chilled everything overnight. To serve the salad, the vegetables were arranged over red leaf lettuce and a bit of extra dressing was drizzled over the entire salad. This would make a lovely light supper with a selection of New England cheeses, a crunchy loaf of bread, and a nice glass of white wine.
Fig, Lemon, & Ginger Vinegar Dressing
3 Tbs Fig Jam (homemade or store bought)
1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tbs Water
2 Tbs Olive Oil
1 1/2 tsp Crystalized Ginger (finely chopped)
1 tsp Fresh Lemon Juice
¼ tsp Lemon Zest
Blend all ingredients in a small bowl with a whisk or in a food processor
Chill until ready to serve
A simple sack of dried beans, a bottle of beer, a warm fire (or oven) and a good night’s sleep are the recipe for classic New England comfort food. The idea of cooking and baking in the fireplace has always seemed so inviting to me. One hundred and fifty years ago, in the agricultural center that was Arlington, MA, I imagine an exhausted farmer’s wife tending the kitchen fire, soaking the beans saved and dried from the summer. She could not even dream of something so magical as my restaurant style range and convention oven and yet her I was at least for a moment wanting to take her place.
I will save details of fireplace cooking for another post, but you can also easily do this recipe in the oven overnight and either way it is a wonderful taste of another time. You can use traditional white navy beans or many other types. I decided on some beautiful red beans we found at Christina’s in Cambridge. I chose to make a vegetarian recipe which works better for some of my family but some pork would be a lovely and traditional addition. I hope you will enjoy the recipe below!
1 pound White or Red Beans
1 quart Vegetable Stock
1/2 large Onion-sliced
1 bottle Lager Beer
4 oz Tomato Paste
1/4 cup Buckwheat Honey
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
2 Tbs Brown Mustard
1 Tbs Cider Vinegar
Salt & Pepper to taste
Soak beans overnight or boil for 10 minutes and soak for one hour. Discard water. Simmer beans in vegetable stock and onion for about two hours or until tender. Drain beans and onions and reserve stock. In a medium size cast iron dutch oven, mix the cooked beans with all remaining ingredients plus a cup and a half of the reserved stock. Set the covered dutch oven on a cooking trivet or fire bricks over ash and coals in the corner of the fireplace or a place in the middle of a 225 degree oven. Tend the fire as needed if cooking in fireplace. Cook for about 8 hours, checking once or twice to make sure the mixture is not too dry. If necessary, add a bit more of the cooking stock. After 8 hours, remove the lid and sprinkle with a bit more brown sugar and cook for an additional hour. Serve warm. This recipe reheats very well and the flavor gets better the second day.