Archive for the ‘Local Culinary Adventure’ Category

Grilled Cornbread Pudding A.K.A Corn in May: A Cautionary Tale

It was our Memorial Day BBQ. We thought we should grill some corn. It looked so tempting at the grocery store. Besides, it’s almost corn season and next month the early varieties will ripen locally. And really now, how bad could it be? Well, it was really that bad. Starchy and tough and we should have waited until July when we could purchase from our local farms. So instead of just chucking it all to the chickens, we thought we’d repurpose it in a corn bread with a pudding-like texture. And while it was quite tasty,  yes, it would taste better with in-season corn.

  • 2 eggs
  • 12 oz. plain yogurt, homemade or store bought
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter or olive oil plus 1 Tbsp butter for skillet
  • 2 cups corn kernels cut from grilled corn
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Preheat the oven or grill to 350F. Set a cast iron skillet on the grill or one the stovetop on low and melt 1 Tbsp butter. Whisk together the eggs, yogurt, honey, and melted butter or oil. Fold in the cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and corn kernels until combined. Pour into the skillet. Grill for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

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Slow Roasted Leg of Spring Lamb with Greek-Style Garden Herbs

Memorial Day ushers in the summer season in our area, but I wanted to pause and reflect on a beautiful spring and the sacrifice of our servicemen and women. Perhaps it’s growing up in the Catholic tradition, but I thought the lamb would symbolize both at our Memorial Day party this afternoon.

The herbs came fresh from our garden.

Oregano…

Lemon Thyme…

Rosemary…

The inspiration for this recipe came from Orestis’ Kouzina: Slow Roasted Leg of Lamb.

  • 8 lbs bone in leg of lamb
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • Bunch oregano
  • Bunch lemon thyme
  • Bunch rosemary
  • Dash cinnamon
  • 1 cup red wine

Preheat the oven to 250F. Place lamb in roasting dish. Slice one clove garlic.

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With a pairing knife, puncture the lamb and insert the sliced garlic.

Combine the olive oil, salt, pepper, and half of the oregano leaves. You can hold the sprigs of oregano towards the top and strip the bottom leaves from the woody stems for this step.

 

Rub onto the lamb. If you like salty, sprinkle up to another Tbsp over the lamb.  Add a dash or two of cinnamon.  Place the remainder of the herbs and garlic into the bottom of the roasting pan. Pour in the wine.

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Cover and roast for at least 7 hours or until the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender.

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Slice and serve.  Excellent when accompanied with tzatziki and pita.

Spring Greens Salad with Roasted Rhubarb, Goat Cheese, and Pecans

I’m always on the hunt for innovative rhubarb recipes, especially ones without a ton of sugar. I found this gorgeous salad on after the (farmer’s) market and had to try it with my own spin. I’m very glad I did because roasted rhubarb is brilliant. The roasting mellowed the tartness of the rhubarb, which was complemented by the creamy goat cheese and the honey added a light sweetness. I would definitely make this again and again with my generous rhubarb harvest and other local farmers’ market finds, such as greens, honey, and goat cheese.

  • 3 stalks rhubarb, cut into 2″ pieces
  • 1 heaping teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 4 cups spring salad greens
  • Ginger vinaigrette (Whisk together 1 Tbsp ginger infused vinegar, 1 tsp salt, 2 Tbsp Olive Oil)
  • 2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 350F. Mix the rhubarb and honey on a baking sheet and roast for about 10 minutes until softened. On a separate baking sheet, roast the pecans for about 10 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Toss the salad greens with the ginger vinaigrette. Top with the rhubarb, goat cheese, and pecans.

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Breakfast Smoothie with Seasonal, Local Fruit

When eating for two, sometimes breakfast just doesn’t want to cooperate. Somehow, I’m almost always able to manage smoothies. This recipe was inspired by Alton Brown’s Buff Smoothie Recipe.

  • 8 oz. homemade yogurt or soymilk
  • 12 oz. of mixed local fruit in season or frozen during the season
  • handful of ice cubes (optional, but recommended if your fruit is warm)
  • fruit juice (optional to thin smoothie if the consistency is too thick)
  • 1 Tbsp flaxmeal or wheatgerm

Add all of your ingredients into a blender.  If you have large pieces of fruit, cutting them makes it easier for the blender blades o’ power to do their work.

Take everything for a power whirl on max power. If it’s too thick, add some juice.  Pour into a pint glass. Drink. Ahh.

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Rhubarb Compote with Honey, Maple Syrup, and Tarragon

Wandering the garden shortly after dawn with the chickens is perhaps an unusual way to start the weekend in suburbia and one that might receive some grumblings at that, but for me it’s heaven. It’s also a way to peruse the breakfast buffet. Hmm, I think I’ll choose some rhubarb. The chickens choose the leaf hoppers escaping off the rhubarb. We’re all happy.

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On the way inside, I eye the tarragon that overwintered in a pot by the door. Wouldn’t that be a nice combination? The tart from the rhubarb and delicate anise-like flavor of the tarragon in a naturally sweetened compote. Rhubarb is our only local “fruit” this time of year and will be perfect over our homemade breakfasts of yogurt, pancakes, or waffles.

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Rhubarb Compote with Honey, Maple Syrup, and Tarragon
  • Rhubarb stems, cut into 1/2-1″ slices, enough to fill a medium saucepan approximately 3/4 full
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup honey (or more to taste)
  • tarragon sprig (Optional)

Add the rhubarb and maple syrup to a medium saucepan.

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Bring rhubarb and maple syrup to a gentle simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the honey and tarragon.

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Allow to the compote to stand until just warm and serve over pancakes, waffles, or ice-cream or cool completely and serve over yogurt or spread on toast like jam. Store unused compote in the refrigerator. It will thicken when cooled. Remove tarragon sprig before serving.

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Homemade Yogurt: A Lesson in Patience and Slow Food

There was an unopened box lurking in our basement from ages ago. When it first appear, nobody was quite sure, but lurk it did.

Actually, it was from my bridal shower, which was many years and years ago. And it’s been lurking because I figured that yogurt would be complicated because there was this complicated-looking piece of uni-tasker specialty equipment. Ha! How wrong! It’s quite easy, but it does require some patience.

The last time we ordered cheese cultures from The New England Cheesemaking Supply Company I also ordered some yogurt starter.  I mean, I knew I had this yogurt maker in my possession. I chose “Y5” because it was advertised as sweeter than traditional and contained more probiotics. Then in the tradition of yogurt things lurking, the starter, too, sat ignored in my freezer.  On a whim this weekend, I finally decided to roll up my sleeves and give homemade yogurt a try.

For the record, the directions that came with my yogurt maker said I didn’t need to heat the milk, so I ignored the directions written on the packet (Sorry, Ricki “The Cheese Queen” Carroll”) and made the quick dump-it-all-together and ignore it version.  Patience, hah!

Not surprisingly, attempt #1 didn’t work out so well.  Twelve hours later and the resulting fermenting broth was poured down the drain. I apologize O Cheese Queen, I should have listened to you! So I tried again following The Monarch’s Directions:

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That worked! So, thank you – all you economical homesteaders out there – you inspired me to open that box, wash the thing, plug it in, pour some starter powder into a quart of warmed local milk, and let it sit overnight. I don’t know what I was afraid of, but my goodness, talk about saving money on all those little containers of yogurt!

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Add the results of the Y5 experiment? Tasty yogurt! It was thick and creamy and pleasantly, mildly tangy.   I would say I have a happy new weekend yogurt-making routine.

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Husband’s Beer Can Chicken

My husband, like many before him, is a master of the flame. His grilled beer can chicken is phenomenal. Phenomenal. Here’s his (not so) secret recipe:

  • The Chicken: A whole roasting chicken is best, but you can use other types.
  • The Rub: 1 Tbsp sea salt, 1 tsp or to taste of piri piri or other hot sauce, 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • The Seasoned Beer: Enough beer to fill your container or can about 3/4 full, 1 Tbsp sea salt, a few more dashes or to taste of your preferred hot sauce
First get your beer can situation in order. Husband recommends purchasing a stainless steel chicken roasterfrom William Sonoma because he’s not sure that slow roasting the inks and plastics on regular beer cans is advisable. That makes sense to me! It seems that they’ve improved the current models for sale on the WS website, but we’ve had ours for years and it works just fine. You can also try heat-proof ceramic or glass cups, but Wife warns to be careful on the grill.  Here’s our well-used model with its handy dandy removable handle.

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Once you’ve a beer can-ish container figured out, fill it up 3/4 full with beer – your choice – and the salt and spice. Next, wrestle your chicken into a standing position upon your beer can base. Mix your rub together and rub it into your chicken. Fire up your grill to about 300F and slow roast it for 4 1/2-5 hours on the covered grill.

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Ps. While you have the grill on, wrap some potatoes in tin foil with a splash of beer, salt, and spice and roast for an hour for small ones and up to 2 hours for really large potatoes.  Other seasonal veggies on the grill make for happy accompaniment.

Pps. Try experimenting with other herbs and spices. I’m particularly fond of when husband adds “herbes de Provence” to the mix.

Ppps. I’m so excited! We found sustainably, humanely, and locally raised chicken in our grocery store this week. I do recognize that those terms are not officially regulated, so we’re still going through with our heritage chicken project, but I am excited for the interim.

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