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Squash, leek, and bacon galette

There are a plethora of squash, so it is time to get inventive. I’ve never cared for squash puree, the disappointing younger brother to mashed potatoes. I prefer my squash to retain a bit of texture and to share the stage with other autumnal flavors: Sage, leek, and smoky bacon.

The crust

  • 1 cup rolled oats (NOT instant oats!)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 14 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
  • up to 1/4 cup cold water

Heat a skillet over medium low heat, toss the oats in and toast gently until lightly browned and fragrant, 10-15 minutes. Put in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Allow the oats to cool. Add flour, salt and butter, pulse in the food processor until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with a few larger bits of butter still visible. Gradually add water and pulse until dough forms. Turn out onto a floured work surface, roll to 1/2″ thick, fold in thirds, wrap in plastic, and chill in fridge for 1/2 hour.

The filling

  • 4 slices smoky bacon, cut into lardons
  • 2 leeks, quartered and sliced, white and pale green parts only (roughly 2 cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 delicata squash, halved, peeled, seeded, and sliced into thin semicircles (roughly 2 cups)
  • 2 tsp fresh sage, minced
  • 1 itsp fresh thyme, minced
  • 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
  • 4 oz. good goat cheese, crumbled.
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg., beaten with 1 tbsp water

In a large pan, brown the bacon over medium heat, remove to paper towels to drain, pour off all but 1 or 2 tbsp of the dripping. Return the pan to the heat, add the leeks and garlic, saute until the leaks soften, 10 minutes or so.  Place leek, bacon, squash, and herbs in a bowl and toss thoroughly.

Assembling the tart

Folded galettePreheat the oven to 375.

Take the crust from the fridge. Roll out to a 15″ circle (you can neaten the edges if you choose, it’ll make for a cleaner looking galette. I left mine rough). Transfer to a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Brush the middle 12″ with the egg wash, saving some back. Mound the leek, bacon and squash mixture in the middle 12″ of crust. Scatter the goat cheese on top of it.  Fold the outer edge of the crust over the filling, pinching the creases lightly to hold it together. Brush the crust with the remaining egg wash.

Bake until the squash is soft and the cheese is browned and melted, 1 hour. Cool for 5 minutes, then slice and serve.

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Artichoke, Leek, & Bean Gratin

A variation on a Deborah Madison recipe in “The Savory Way.” While her recipe calls for cannellini beans, I prefer a darker bean. My go-to is Borlotti (which I grow each year, in part, for this casserole) but pintos or soldier beans are a good substitute.

  • 1 cup dried beans, washed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 large leeks
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
  • 2 14 oz cans of artichoke hearts, quartered
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 oz good goat cheese (Humboldt Fog is best, others will do in a pinch.)
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • olive oil

Place the beans and bay leaf in a heavy pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until tender. 2-3 hours. Drain, reserving the bean liquor.

While the beans are cooking, prep the veg: quarter the leeks lengthwise and slice into 1/2″ pieces. Wash well and drain. Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a wide skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and saute for 3 minutes or so. Add the garlic, rosemary, and artichoke hearts and saute for another 4 minutes. Add the water, cover, reduce the the heat to medium low and simmer until the leeks and artichokes are tender. Season with salt and pepper, add the beans.

Preheat the oven to 400. Put the bean mixture in a roomy casserole. Add enough of the reserved bean liquor to cover the mixture. crumble the cheese and spread it evenly on top of the bean mixture. Moisten the bread crumbs with olive oil, then spread on top of the casserole. Bake until the top is browned and the casserole is bubbly, 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven, let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Serves 4 as a main course.

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Slow Cooker Posole

While I enjoy a good bowl of chili, I love posole more. Even though this stew cooks in a slow cooker, there is a lot of stovetop prep, too, this is a three pan meal, and expect to spend about an hour on prep.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb dried hominy (preferred) or 2 14 oz. cans of hominy
    2 lbs pork shoulder
  • 5 dried New Mexico red chiles (or a mix of poblano and guajillo chiles)
  • 2 onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 paste tomatoes
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp epazote

Preparation

The Hominy

If using dried, the night before, wash the hominy well, then cover in cold water and soak overnight. The following day, drain the hominy,  and place in a slow cooker.  Cover with 3 quarts of boiling water, add the cumin, oregano, epazote, salt to taste, and cook on high until tender: 6 hours.

The Pork

In a dutch oven, heat 2 tbsp oil until shimmering, add the pork and brown on all sides. Chop one onion, add to the pork, and cook until tender. Cover the pork with water, salt to taste, and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the pork is tender, 90 minutes or so. Remove the pork from the liquid and shred with two forks. Add the pork and cooking liquid to the hominy.

The Chili Sauce

Heat a dry cast-iron skillet until hot. Split and seed the peppers, then toast in the skillet, pressing down with a spatula and flipping each pepper once. They toast quickly, 10 seconds a side is usually sufficient.  Toast the garlic in the skillet as well until the skins are slightly blackened and the garlic is fragrant. Peel the cloves and leave them whole. Place the peppers in a bowl, cover with boiling water and soak until soft, 10-15 minutes. Slice the onion in half and place directly over a gas flame to char, flipping once, 2-3 minutes a side. Chop. Put the peppers, garlic, onion, and tomatoes in a blender or food processor, add enough of the pepper soaking liquid so you can puree all of the ingredients. Strain the puree through a fine mesh strainer. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a skillet over medium heat until shimmering, pour in the chili sauce and cook stirring, until it darkens and thickens slightly, 10 minutes or so.

Putting it all together

Add the chili sauce to the hominy, stir well. Continue to cook until the hominy is tender.  Taste for salt. Serve with fresh cilantro and sour cream for garnishes accompanied by warm flour tortillas.

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Molasses Spice Cookies

This is a recipe from “Cooks Illustrated” dating back over 20 years. They’re my go-to autumn cookie. I’ll make these before chocolate chip, or oatmeal. They are flavorful without being overly sweet. Tender without being cloying. You can double the recipe, it’ll still fit in a standard Kitchen-Aid mixer bowl. The dough also freezes well. Shape the cookies into balls before freezing and you can thaw and bake a few at a time.

Molasses Spice Cookies

Ingredients

2-1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt, plus additional 1/4 tsp for rolling
12 tbsp (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup white sugar, plus 1/2 cup for rolling
1/3 cup packed brown sugar (dark is better)
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup molasses.

Instructions

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 375. Line two baking sheets with parchment (or Silpat sheet liners). Put 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 tsp salt in a wide, shallow bowl for rolling.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, spices and salt, set aside.

In a stand mixer, beat butter until fluffy. Gradually add brown and white sugars, beat until incorporated. Reduce speed to medium, add egg yolk and vanilla. Beat until incorporated. Reduce speed to medium low, add molasses and beat until incorporated, pausing to scrape down sides. add flour/spice mixture, beat on lowest setting until incorporated, roughly 30 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.

cookie factoryUsing a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon measure, scoop a heaping tablespoon of dough. Roll between your palms into a 1-1/2″ ball. Drop ball in rolling sugar, roll to coat, and set on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough , spacing the balls 2″ apart. (Note: if you want to freeze these, roll them, don’t sugar them, bag them and freeze them at this point).

Bake one sheet at a time,  until the cookies are set on the edges, but still look slightly puffy in the centers (this will keep them tender and chewy), approximately 11 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through cooking to ensure even baking.

Transfer cookie sheet to a cooling rack, let the cookies rest for five minutes or so, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes approximately 24 cookies.

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Gluten Free Sweet Potato Pecan Tea Bread

This is a nice autumnal change from pumpkin spice… everything. If you want a vegan version, swap out the butter for coconut oil. The lack of gluten makes this crumblier than a typical tea bread, so be gentle when cutting it.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked sweet potato, mashed coarsely, approximately 8 small sweet potatoes
  • 2 cups gluten free flour (spelt flour, or King Arthur gluten free flour)
  • 2-1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1-1/2 sticks) or equal amount coconut oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp coconut flakes (preferably unsweetened).

Cook, peel, and mash the sweet potatoes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, lightly grease a 9 x 5″ loaf pan.

Sift together the flour, cinnamon, soda, powder and salt.

In a stand mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy. add the sugar and brown sugar, beat until well incorporated. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating on medium, until well mixed. Add the sweet potato and vanilla and beat until just mixed. Gradually add the flour, beating on low until just incorporated. Fold in the nuts. Transfer the batter to the loaf pan and bake until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean, 60 – 80 minutes. Cool completely before cutting.

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“The Primo:” A summer cocktail

Summer drinks. When I have fresh fruit and herbs, I make a plethora of simple syrups and shrubs for mixing. Inspired by a local bar, I’ve been working on a grapefruit & basil cocktail, which finally seems to be ready to share. This recipe is for two drinks. It would scale up pretty easily, assuming you have something big enough to make it in.

Ingredients

  • 4 large, fresh basil leaves
  • 1 keffir lime leaf (fresh is best, dried will work in a pinch)
  • pinch salt
  • 3 oz basil simple syrup
  • 4 oz. vodka
  • 6 oz grapefruit juice
  • bitters
  • lemon twist
  • fresh basil leaves

Instructions

In the bottom of a cocktail shaker, muddle the basil, lime leaf, and salt until the leaves have expressed their oils. Add in the simple syrup, vodka, and grapefruit juice, then add ice to the shaker and shake until well chilled. Rinse two martini glasses with a splash of bitters. Pour out the cocktail, garnish with a twist of lemon and a fresh basil leaf. Makes two.

Basil Simple Syurp

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, stems and all

Instructions

Add all ingredients to a pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer over low heat until the syrup thickens slightly, approximately 40 minutes. Cool, then jar. It will keep in the fridge for several weeks.

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Pickled Radishes

Radishes are in, so it is time to preserve some of the harvest.  This recipe works well as either a fridge pickle or a water-processed canned pickle. If you plan on water-processing, cut the radishes on the thick side to preserve their crunch.

Spicy Pickled Radishes

Ingredients

  • Approximately 12 radishes (depending on variety and size, this could be up to 24)
  • ¾ apple cider vinegar
  • ¾ cup water
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup or light brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (flavorful without being overly spicy, if you want a hotter pickle, use coarsely ground dried serrano or thai bird chiles)
  • ½ teaspoon whole mustard seeds
  • 12 black peppercorns

Instructions

Wash the radishes, trim off the tops, the bottoms, and any blemishes or discolorations. Using a chef’s knife, thinly slice the radishes into rounds (If you plan on preserving these with a water bath or pressure cooker, make the rounds thicker). Toss with 1 tsp. kosher salt and place in a colander to sweat while you make the brine.

Make the brine: In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, water,  maple syrup or sugar and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn off the heat.

Rinse the radishes under cold water and pat them dry. Have two 8 oz jars and lids washed and ready (if you are using a water bath, put the lids and cans in a pot of water and bring to a boil, keep them there until you are ready to pack your pickles). Fill each jar with radishes and top with the dry spices. Press gently with a clean wooden spoon to pack everything lightly, then cover with the hot brine. For fridge pickles, top the jar with a lid, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate for 2-3 days to allow the flavors to meld. For processed pickles, leave 1/4″ head space at the top of the jar when filling with brine. Press gently to expel any trapped air, then place a lid and a ring on the can. Water process in boiling water for 20 minutes. Remove and let cool (you should hear the lids *tink* as the vacuum seal sets while they cool). Store in a cool, dark place for at least a week. Refrigerate after opening.

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Fennel, Mushroom, and Roquefort Tart

I was in the mood for a savory, vegetable tart. I’d made, in the past, a Stilton and fennel tart, but that wasn’t quite right. And I have an old Williams-Sonoma recipe for a mushroom galette, but that wasn’t quite right either. So, I thought I’d mix and match, which turned out to be a good idea. Usually, I’d make a rough puff pastry, but I found this recipe for a savory tart crust on Smitten Kitchen, and it was different enough from my usual crust that I gave it a whirl.  In the end, the tart is a rich, savory, fulfilling main course.

Ingredients

1 small fennel bulb, stems removed, quartered and thinly sliced
1 small leek, white part only, quartered, thinly sliced and washed
8 oz. white button mushrooms or crimini mushrooms, wiped and sliced thin
6 oz. fresh wild mushrooms, wiped and sliced thin (I used oyster, but anything that looks good, or a mix, will do)
1/2 tsp dried sage
4 tbsp unsalted butter
4 oz. Roquefort cheese
2 eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste.
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Tart crust, either store bought, or homemade

Equipment

9″ two-piece tart pan. Line the bottom with a round of parchment cut to fit.

Crust

If you’re using a Store-bought crust, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, gently place the crust in the tart pan, pressing it down into the edge, trim, then chill for 30 minutes. Place the pan on a cookie sheet, line the crust with foil, fill with beans or pie weights and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and weights, return the crust and bake for another 5-7 minutes, until the crust is light golden. Remove to a cooling rack.

If you’re making a crust from scratch, it doesn’t need to be blind baked. assemble the crust, line the tart pan, and tuck the crust in the fridge while you work on the filling.

Filling

In a 12″ cast iron skillet or saute pan, melt 2 tbsp of butter over medium low heat. Add the fennel and leek and cook, stirring frequently, until the fennel is soft, 20 minutes or so. Scrape the fennel and leek into a bowl, wipe the pan clean. Return the pan to the heat, add the remaining 2 tbsp of butter and add the mushrooms, stirring, until the mushrooms give up their liquid. Add the sage, a generous grinding of pepper, and a pinch of salt. Continue cooking until the liquid in the pan is gone, another 7-10 minutes. Scrape the mushrooms into the bowl with the fennel and leek, stir to combine.

Beat the eggs and milk together until combined.

Assembling the Tart

Take the tart crust from the fridge. Spread the filling evenly over the crust, pressing it gently flat but not compacting it. Crumble the Roquefort and scatter it over the mushrooms. Take the egg-milk mixture and pour evenly over the filling, top with the Parmesan cheese, and another few grinds of pepper.

Bake at 350 until well browned and fragrant, 30 minutes.  Remove to a cooling rack and cool until just lukewarm. Remove the tart from the tart pan, serve warm.

 

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Rosemary Sweet Potato Rolls

I had one sweet potato kicking around the pantry. I could have simply roasted it and eaten it, but, instead, decided to chase down a sweet potato roll recipe. The original is here, but I made some alterations, cutting out sugar and altering the glaze a bit. These look funny, since I cooked them in a cast iron frying pan. If you want nice looking, even rolls, cook them in a 9 x 13 baking pan.

Rolls

1/2 cup water (I used the water from boiling the sweet potato) 100-110 degrees
1/4 cup whole milk, 100-110 degrees
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp yeast
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter, melted and cooled to lukewarm
2-1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, or 1 tbsp dried, minced
1 cup mashed sweet potato (putting it through a potato ricer or food mill will give you better results)
4-1/2 to 5 cups all purpose, unbleached flour.

Glaze

3 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp fresh rosemary, or 1 tbsp dried rosemary, minced
coarse sea salt

Mix the water, milk, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl let proof until frothy, 10 minutes or so. Add in the eggs and beat, then add the salt, butter, and rosemary, beat again. Add in the sweet potato and beat until well mixed. Add two cups of flour and mix until incorporated. Add two more cups and mix until incorporated. If you’re doing this by hand, you will, at this point, have to abandon your spoon and get your hands dirty, kneading the flour in. If the dough feels slack or sticky, gradually add the remaining flour. Otherwise, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough feels smooth and slightly tacky, about ten minutes. Place in a covered container and let rise until doubled in size, roughly an hour.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 16 equal pieces. Shape your rolls and place them in a parchment-lined 9 x 13″ baking pan (you can oil it lightly, but I found this unnecessary). Cover the pan and let the rolls rise again, 45 minutes or so. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Make the glaze: Stir the butter, honey, and rosemary together. Brush the tops of the rolls with the glaze. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned. Remove from the oven and brush once again with the glaze, scatter coarse sea salt over the rolls. Serve warm.

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Maple Shortbread Cookies

Sugaring season starts in mid-February in Vermont, and lasts until the trees bud. Showing up with a plate of these maple shortbread cookies to a “Sugar on Snow” dinner isn’t a bad idea. The maple isn’t overpowering, and the cookies aren’t overly sweet. If you don’t want to bother rolling them out and using a cookie cutter, you can always form the dough into a log, chill it, and slice rounds. But, really, making maple-leaf shaped cookies is half the fun.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 egg yolk
3 cups all-purpose flour

In a stand mixer, beat the butter until it is light and airy. Add the sugar, beat until incorporated, then add the syrup and egg yolk. With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour, mixing until the dough is just combined. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for at least an hour (overnight is better).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two cookie sheets with parchment. Divide the dough in half, keeping one half in the fridge. Roll the other half out to 1/8″ thick, and cut with a cookie cutter. Save the dough scraps, put them back in the fridge as you roll out and cut the second half of the dough. Continue rolling and cutting until the scraps are all used up. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes, until the edges are slightly browned (the cookies may look undercooked in the middle, this is fine. They’ll firm up on the cooling rack). Depending on the size of your cookie cutter, this will make approximately 24 cookies.