An idea for a Mother’s Day gift – made by kids!

IMG-1592Every mother needs to be taken care of now and then. Every mother needs a little emergency chocolate reserve. Set your kids up to make this dry mix. When she’s in need, mom can mix up a single serving of cake, just by adding an egg.

 

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Nettle Quiche

I took my standby quiche recipe and adapted it for this seasonal ingredient. Playing with a potato crust widens the audience to include those who can’t do gluten (and those who have a crust making phobia…) Hope you too find some time this spring to make nettle quiche!

Foraged Chanterelle Pizza with Bacon and Leeks

There are many ways in which you can obsess about homemade pizza. This is not an article about that. This is about a rainy day in the woods, discovering treasure, and making a tasty pizza quickly.

We’ve been amateur mushroom seekers for years now. We’ve gone to guided hikes, attended classes, and shaken friends down for tips. This fall, we were finally successful! Equipped with our knife to cut the stems, paper bags for the potential stash, and our laminated mushroom guide, we hit the trailhead early in the morning. Prepared to be disappointed yet again, we told ourselves it was just nice to be in the woods together. Quickly though, the gnomes’ luck on our side, we found a beautiful patch. After only about an hour and a half on the trail, we had enough chanterelles to to bring home and make one nice pizza. Grateful to have been rewarded, we left off the hunt, saving the rest for other seekers, and called it a day. What an amazing feeling – to tromp the forest and bring something delicious home. We felt like we had indeed found treasure.

Chanterelle Bacon Leek Pizza

Dough (for 2-3 pizzas)

4 cups bread flour, plus more for sprinkling
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp. salt
1 heaping teaspoon of instant yeast
2 cups warm water
2 tbls. olive oil

  1. Whisk the dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Add the olive oil and water.
  3. Bring the dough together with a wooden spoon or the dough hook of an electric mixer. Knead for about ten minutes by machine or hand.
  4. Let rise, covered, 40-60 minutes.
  5. Cut the dough into thirds or halves, depending on the size pizzas you’d like to make. If you don’t have enough toppings for more than one pizza, you may freeze the dough for another day.)

Toppings (for about one pizza, adjust as necessary)

chanterelles
5 slices bacon
2 small leeks or 1 large
3 sprigs fresh thyme

  1. Cook your bacon completely. When cool, chop coarsely and set aside.
  2. In the same pan, add washed and chopped leeks. Sprinkle a bit of salt over. Cook over medium for 3-4 minutes until they are soft. Set aside.
  3.  Wipe your mushrooms with a damp cloth and chop coarsely. If your pan is dry by now, melt 1 tbls. butter in it and add the chanterelles and a little salt. Cook for about 3 minutes or until they are soft to the taste.
  4. When your dough is ready, sprinkle a baking sheet or pizza pan with cornmeal. Drizzle and spread about 2 tbls. olive oil. Gently spread out your dough onto this prepared pan.
  5. Spread the leeks on the dough, as you would a sauce.
  6. Add the cheese, mushrooms, and thyme.
  7. Bake at 500F until it begins to brown. Remove from the oven and add the bacon on. Put back in the oven for about 1 minute.

Yum!

 

 

 

The Best Way to Cook Fresh Beans

I’ve had a fresh food revelation. I’m really not exaggerating. This meal that I had was so utterly inspiring that it changed the way I look at this food. Stand back, I’m talking about beans. FRESH BEANS! This year, we grew a test patch of cannellini beans and, based on their outstanding flavor, we’ll be growing a lot more next year. I feel like the world has been keeping a secret from me. There is nothing quite like a fresh bean. Who knew?

We’ve since bought fresh cranberry beans from the market and have eaten them on pasta, on toast, and in soup. Delicious! The biggest surprise, however, was that we shelled some overripe green beans, cooked those in a similar way, and found they were almost as good as the cannellini. After several pickings, I thought that we were going to tear out the green bean plants and feed them to the chickens, but R. took the time to shell all the large, woody beans, and I’m so glad that he did. What a great meal!

Cook your fresh beans gently and really taste them towards the end. You’ll know to take them off the heat when they are creamy (but not yet mushy.)

Adapted from one of our favorite go to books, Franny’s.

Serves 4 or more

1 1/2 pounds fresh beans
3 cups water
2 tbls. olive oil
4 sage leaves
2 small rosemary sprigs
4 garlic cloves
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Add all of the ingredients to a medium pot. Bring to a simmer over medium- high heat. Then, turn the heat down to low and cook until tender, about 40 minutes. Begin to taste them at the 30 minute mark.

Drain the beans and serve over toast or pasta. Reserve the cooking liquid for a nice soup or use some of it to sauce the beans.

Basic Berry Jam in a Steam Oven

It’s jam season again and I have to tell you, I have a delightful new toy. I don’t think I’ve ever loved an object like this before and, though I probably should feel embarrassed, it makes me a little giddy and a little evangelical. Meet…my steam oven.  Nestled in there among those Shaker simplistic cabinets, it’s a modern (futuristic?) gadget that I use daily. It does it all – bakes, blanches, dehydrates, adds steam to a bread with a press of a button (no more wrapping my arm in a dish towel and adding boiling water to the bottom of the oven!) And, oh my oh my, it makes small batch canning an absolutely delightful breeze. A friend and kitchen designer once showed me her steam oven and, upon learning that it was capable of canning, I began to dream of owning one. Goodbye, vat of boiling water!img_3872.jpg

When we began to build the house for the homestead, we knew that this appliance would be one of our big splurges. It was hard to find out information about it and, if you’re on a similar journey, I’d encourage you to be persistent in seeking answers. Picture me with a quart canning jar in an appliance store baffling all of the sales reps with my pointed questions. They weren’t able to answer most of them, but I’ve been figuring it out, experimenting as I go. Here are my notes from a few experiences with jam. Adapted from the black raspberry jam recipe from Food in Jars’s Preserving by the Pint, I think you’ll find this a reliable start for your own exploration.img_3866

Any berry jam (using a steam oven)

Makes 3 8-ounce jars of jam

Ingredients
30 ounces berries (or two large dry pints)
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 tsp. lemon

Here’s a sequence that helps you run the steam oven and complete the jam in parallel. (Follow these steps and your jars and jam will be hot at the right times.)

  1. Prepare your equipment. Find your funnel, ladle, whisk and rubber spatula. Wash three new lids in soapy warm water, dry, and set out. Place three jars upside down on rack in steam oven. If you have a stainless steel funnel, go ahead and place that in the steam oven too.
  2. Weigh berries and pick through for leaves and stems.
  3. Remove a large handful of berries and set aside. Run the rest of the berries through your food mill set up with the medium disc. (This won’t remove all of the seeds, but it will remove enough so that the seeds aren’t overwhelming.)
  4. Add the milled berry pulp and sugar to a wide skillet. Stir until sugar dissolves. Turn heat onto medium high.
  5. Program your steam oven to sanitize cookware for 8 minutes (212F, 100% steam). Leave the door closed, keeping the jars hot until you’re ready to fill them.
  6. Jam it. Stir and boil until your mixture hits 220F or passes the spoon drip test. This should take about 8-10 minutes. Five minutes into the boiling, add your handful of reserved, fresh berries. Crush them as you stir.
  7. Off heat, stir in the lemon juice thoroughly.
  8. Remove your hot jars from the steam oven. Use the funnel and ladle to fill the jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Place lids on and twist on bands gently. Place in the steam oven.
  9. Program the steam oven for the canning mode for 10 minutes (or 195F, 100% steam, for 10 minutes.)