It’s time for everything strawberries. We’ve been enjoying them from our own garden, picking enough for an evening snack or for breakfast. The Day Rd. farmstand is also already stocked with half flats for sale. I always have mixed feelings about jamming all those lovely, whole berries, but I am certainly glad for them when December rolls around. I have also had a lot of success with vacuum sealing them for smoothies. First I trim the tops, wash, and lay out to dry on a towel – an easy procedure for wonderful, mid winter returns. Strawberry shortcake is a given. You can read about my favorite two ways here. So many possibilities! These are the two weeks of the year when we try to make all of our favorites.
How about starting the morning with fresh strawberry scones? Or Pamela’s pancakes with sweetened homemade ricotta and halved berries?
A lighter choice might be a spinach salad with an easy vinaigrette: 2 parts vinegar to 1 part oil and a pinch of salt. (I chose a raspberry balsamic vinegar and walnut oil)
And any day now, fingers crossed, they’ll be enough abundance to make our favorite raspberry strawberry jam.
We have a new kitchen to get to know and, now that we’re settled into it, are having a lot of fun playing with new things and cooking up old favorites. Here are a few recipes that we’ve been loving lately.
- There is no better way to test out a new oven than watching pita bread puff up. I make this recipe with all whole wheat flour.
- My new favorite trick for breakfast, lunch boxes, and on the go meals is this omelet. Even the t-ball team loved it. (Whew, kids are sometimes the hardest critics.)
- Steam! Oh, be still my heart. I have a new toy. I’ve been learning how to cook in a steam oven. I’m loading it with fish, rice, and veggies in it, and instantly making a ridiculously easy and fresh meal. The biggest surprise is that now I can make oatmeal at the push of a button with no pan to clean. I have used this ratio with success: 2 cups water, 1 cup steel cut oats, 1 tbls. buttermilk. Mix it all up in a metal cake pan. Put it in the steam oven the night before. Program it to be done when you wake, cooking for 20 minutes at 212. I have also made yogurt and can’t wait to can and dehydrate in this one stop gadget.
- I’m not going to lie, there’s been a fair amount of homemade ice cream to get through the busy days. But, there’s also been this healthier, quick smoothie.
- Still making pizza with this recipe often. These days, when there are kids around, they get topped any old way.65￼
- How did I miss the avocado toast craze? Where have I been? I’m now working to make up for lost time with this stand by.
- And some days, you just have to treat yourself and let someone else make the coffee. Thanks, Hitchcock Deli. Wow. Just wow.
What’s happening in your kitchen? Hope it’s full of spring goodness and the promise of (fruitful!) summer days.
Our Farmers’ Market opens this weekend. This, for our family, marks the true beginning of spring and brings new hope for dinner. So, for one last time this winter, I bring you a kale and cabbage recipe. Soon, soon we will have new veggies in our basket and in our bellies!
This recipe is not flashy or interesting, but what winter food really is? It’s a simple meal for a regular evening and makes use of the herbs that overwintered and the last of our winter veg. I cooked it ahead of time and reheated it for a fast dinner. I actually made it even easier by cooking the greens the night before. I doubled the amount of greens, pulled out half of them after five minutes in the pan, cooled them, and refrigerated them for use in the recipe below. (The rest of the greens, I seasoned and continued to cook for the first night’s meal.)
Baked Big Beans and Greens
The night before:
1 cup dried, large beans
To cook the veg:
1 tbls. olive oil
1/2 of a medium cabbage
about a dozen kale leaves
In a large casserole or Dutch oven:
5 cups of water
1 tbls. olive oil
2 Parmesan rinds
2 parsley sprigs
3 thyme sprigs
2 cloves of garlic
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
four slices wheat bread brushed with olive oil on both sides
- Soak your dried beans in water in a large bowl overnight or for at least 8 eight hours. At the end of this time, drain and rinse.
- Chop onion into a small dice. Separate cabbage leaves, rinse, and cut into large ribbons. Take the stems off the kale and also cut into large ribbons.
- Saute onion with olive oil for five minutes over medium. Add kale and cabbage and continue to saute for a brief five minutes more.
- Boil 5 cups of water.
- Tie herbs, rinds, and garlic in a little cheesecloth parcel. (Alternatively, tie your herbs together and remember to fish out the garlic cloves and rinds before serving.)
- In a large casserole or Dutch oven, add the hot water to the cooked vegetables and the soaked beans. Add in the rinds, garlic, herbs, and seasonings. Stir.
- Bake at 325F for 2 – 2 1/2 hours. (Taste the beans for doneness after 2 hours.)
- When ready to eat, heat a large pan over medium. Brush slices of bread with oil. Toast in the pan on both sides until almost charred. With a slotted spoon, spoon greens and beans over toast.
- Yes, of course, this would be better with bacon sprinkled over the top. But then it wouldn’t be vegetarian, would it? The Parmesan rinds add the flavor to the broth in the manner that pork traditionally would.
- Alternatively, serve over pasta or a large grain like triticale.
The peekaboo sunshine and the birds rallying in the plum tree seem to be telling us that spring is coming quickly. My stash of storage potatoes in the basement begs to differ. For some reason, this season, we’ve been slow to use up our potatoes and have to get on it! Potato soup? Pirogi time? Maybe invite over a crowd and feed them all gratin? Some of our potatoes, gratefully ordered from Laughing Crow Farm at the beginning of the winter, are beginning to sprout. I just cut that part off and proceed as normal, no problem. If I’m cooking up something that I’d like to become brown and crispy, I rinse the prepared potatoes under warm water and dry on a towel. (This removes a little extra starch.)
This dish provides some protein in your lunchbox by combining lentils, herbs, and potatoes in a simple salad that serves well at room temperature. Miraculously, we still have fresh parsley growing on our deck garden. It’s been so fun to have over the winter. (Thanks, Tani Creek seeds!)
Lunchbox Lentil and Potato Salad
About 4-6 lunches, depending on portion size
1 cup green French lentils
4-5 medium potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
half of one onion
1 clove garlic
1 bay leaf
1/2 c. fresh parsley, chopped finely
2 tbls. olive oil
2 tbls. sherry vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
4 strips bacon, cooked (optional)
- Fill a medium pot and bring to a boil on high.
- Wash, peel, and cut the potatoes, removing eyes or any sprouts. Cube into about 1 inch pieces. Boil for 20 minutes in salted water. Drain the potatoes and set aside in a bowl big enough to hold the potatoes and a little extra.
- Rinse lentils and add to about 3 cups of water. Add half of an onion, one clove of garlic, and one bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 25 minutes. Drain. Discard the onion, garlic, and bay leaf. Add the lentils to the potatoes
- In a small bowl, combine oil, vinegar, sparsely, salt, and pepper to make a dressing.
- Pour this dressing over the potatoes and lentils. Crumble in bacon.
- Enjoy warm or cold!
Here’s a faithful recipe that I’ve made on many a rainy day. It takes only 2 1/2 hours from start to finish. Pretty quick for a loaf! While it doesn’t have the depth of flavor or crumb that a bread that’s had an overnight ferment might have, it certainly does a good job of mopping up soup or holding a sandwich.
Wheat Dinner Bread
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
1 1/4 c. warm water
1 tsp. lemon juice
seed mix (recommended: caraway, poppy, sesame, and millet)
coarse salt, optional
- Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl.
- By hand or with a standing mixer’s dough hook, knead for about 10 minutes.
- Tuck the dough gently into a ball. Place in an oiled bowl and let rise for 1 hour.
- Shape into a boule by stretching and tucking the ends under the loaf. Place on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover with a dry towel. Let rise for 1 hour.
- Wet fingers and thinly spread water on top of the risen loaf. Sprinkle with a mixture of seeds. With a knife or baker’s lame, score the top of the bread twice.
- Bake at 425 for 30 minutes.
- If you’re going to eat this bread on the same day that it is baked, add coarse salt to the seed mixture that is sprinkled on the top. Yum!
- Pictured is a beautiful and luxurious lame that I was gifted a few years ago. Before that I always used my sharpest kitchen knife to score loaves, which easily works.
This morning treat will scratch your itch for cinnamon rolls without any refined sugar. The dough itself is unsweetened, relying on a honey goo in the bottom of the pan to take it from yeasted bread to breakfast dessert. Do you tend to overindulge on sweets in December? This gives you a special treat to enjoy with your coffee that isn’t too much. (I may never make traditional cinnamon rolls again.)
I adapted this recipe from Baking With Less Sugar, a book that I’m really enjoying (and one that I featured in my recent gift guide.) I’ve tweaked the ingredients a bit and the timing – I always think it’s easier to do the prep the night before.
Breakfast Honey Buns
2 1/2 cups AP flour
1 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 c. vegetable oil, olive oil, or coconut oil
1 c. warm water
8 tbls. unsalted butter
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. cream or 1/3 c. half and half
1/2 c. water
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups hazelnuts
6 tbls. soft unsalted butter
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. cardamom
a sprinkling of fresh nutmeg
1/4 tsp. almond extract
- Combine the dry dough ingredients with the wet. Knead by machine or hand until the dough feels supple.
- Leave to rise for an hour in a warm place.
- Make the goo by combining all ingredients in a small sauce pan over low and whisking until homogeneous. (Yes, it will look pretty thin, but don’t worry, it’ll work out.) Set aside to cool.
- The filling is best prepared by pulsing all of the ingredients in a food processor until the nuts are your desired size, but you can definitely chop the nuts and incorporate the butter by hand.
- When the dough has risen, roll it out into a long rectangle. Smear with filling, leaving about a 1/2 inch bare on one of the long sides. Roll up tightly and gently, sealing with the bare edge. Cut into 12 equal buns.
- Pour the goo into a 9×13 inch pan. Spread evenly and place the buns in the pan, keeping a space between each bun to allow for rising and baking.
- Seal with plastic wrap or lid and pop in the refrigerator.
- In the morning, uncover, and place in a cold oven. Set the temperature for 400F and allow the buns to come to temperature with the oven. Start your timer for 25 minutes when it hits 400F.
- Enjoy warm!
- To make and eat right away, increase the first rising time to 2 hours and, after forming the buns and placing them in the goo, let rise for another hour.
- For our small family of three, I prepare the recipe using two square pans and freeze the second pan for a future weekend.
- If you’re looking for a sweeter treat or more complete tips for making a roll, check out Cinnamon Rolls Your Way
Remember those summer days when we were rolling in plums? The tree is cold and lonely now, but our shelves are WELL stocked with plum jam. Let’s just say, one can only eat so much toast. We wondered if there was a savory way we could use up some jam. An answer presented itself when we brought home From a Polish Country House Kitchen from the library. After salivating over many of the winter appropriate recipes in the book, we began to notice a pattern. Apparently there are a lot of plum trees in Poland and many of the dishes involve prunes. What thrifty people. Upon the book’s suggestion, we adapted a recipe to include plum jam and used the slow cooker instead of the oven to ease our schedule. I hope you’ll find this easy, tasty dish comforting for your winter evenings. The jam will give you a little sweet reminder of sunny days.
Polish Style Pork Roast with Plum Jam
2.5-3 pound pork arm roast (or a comparable piece of pork)
1 large clove garlic
2 tbls. dried marjoram
2 tbls. olive oil
4-8 ounces plum jam
coarse salt, pepper
1 1/2 c. water
- Rinse the pork, pat dry, and cut a deep pocket in the side of the roast.
- With a mortar and pestle, grind marjoram and garlic together to form a paste. (Alternatively, you can mince and mash with a fork.) In a small bowl, mix this paste with about 2 tbls. olive oil, 2 tsp. coarse salt, and many grinds of pepper.
- Rub this paste all over the meat and inside the pocket. Let it sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour. (Overnight would work just fine, too.)
- After the meat has rested, fill the pocket with jam. Tie it closed with butcher’s twine.
- Heat a skillet over medium high. Brown the roast on each side (even the ends) for about 1 1/2 minutes each side. Place the roast in the slow cooker and deglaze the pan with the water. Pour this and any scraped browned bits from the skillet into the slow cooker. Cover and cook at least 6 hours.
- To make tying a little easier, lay your string out in rows on a plate. Then, place your roast on top of it. Bring strings together and tie.
- We served it with cabbage, beans, and sweet potato one night and mashed potatoes the next. What a great, simple winter meal!