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Archive for the ‘Farm Fresh’ Category

Chunky Applesauce

My friend Margaux, shared her family’s recipe for applesauce on her blog, Sweet and Savory Kitchens, a couple of weeks back and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about applesauce, since. The smell in your kitchen and that unremarkable old-fashioned taste, just reminds me of being a kid, for some reason. My mom must have made applesauce when we were kids. I would like to have homemade applesauce simmering on the stove everyday during Autumn, just so I could enjoy that lovely smell.

Applesauce is a great way to use up the apples that are maybe a bit too bruised and dinged up or that may have started to get a bit softer. We went apple picking a few weeks back and I was a feeling bit “appled-out”, I think I may have eaten one too many whole apples, so I thought this would be a great way to use up the last of them. This applesauce is great on its own as a side dish, it’s a wonderful and healthy snack or dessert, you can serve it over vanilla ice cream or yogurt, spread it on toast and you can eat it warm or cold. It’s just a great homestyle dish that is incredibly easy to make.

I like the flavor from the spices and how it pairs so nicely with the apples, if you are a purist and just want to enjoy the apple flavor, leave out the spices. I also tend to like my applesauce on the chunky side, so I hardly mash mine up, though some folks love a smooth pureed applesauce, whatever you like, this recipe is super simple and in no time your house will smell so good, you won’t want to leave.

Chunky Applesauce

Chunky Applesauce

3 to 4 lbs of apples, peeled, cored and sliced ( I think I used about 8 apples, a couple different varieties*, left over from apple picking)
Juice of one lemon
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup organic dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons organic pure cane sugar
3 whole cinnamon sticks (3-inch sticks)
2 whole star anise
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt

As you are slicing and peeling your apples, place them in a large saucepan. Once you have all of your apples in there, place the saucepan over a medium-high heat, add the lemon juice and water. Stir in the sugars and add in the spices and the salt. Stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil then lower to a low-medium heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the apples are thoroughly cooked. They will start to mash-up and breakdown on their own. Once your apples are fully cooked, and soft, remove the pan from the heat and remove the cinnamon sticks and star anise. Mash it up with a potato masher or a large wooden spoon, it won’t take much. Leave your sauce as chunky as you would like. If you like a very smooth applesauce you can blend it in your blender or food processor. Serve warm or cool.

This applesauce will keep a few weeks, covered in the refrigerator or it can easily be stored in your freezer.

* Be sure to choose a good quality sweet cooking apple such as – Cortland, Empire, Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, HoneyCrisp, McIntosh, Pink Lady, Rome, Fuji, Ginger Gold or Jonathan. I think I used a combination of golden delicious and McIntosh, not entirely sure since I was apple picking with my high-energy 3-year old nephew, Noah.

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Sugar Pumpkin (aka Pie Pumpkin)

The processed goop in a can, doesn’t even begin to compare to using fresh pumpkin in recipes. The taste is so much richer and it is so much better for you. Pumpkins are loaded with vitamins and nutrients. Making your own pumpkin puree is easier than you think and once you do it, you’ll probably never use the canned junk again.

I picked up two decent sized sugar pumpkins at the farmers market this weekend. Each pumpkin was just $2 each and together they will probably yield at least 4 cups of pumpkin puree, if not more.  You can even use the pumpkin from the jack-o-lantern that you carved up, but the sugar (or pie) pumpkins are just a bit sweeter and more tender. If you do use your jack-o-latern pumpkin, be sure to increase the spices a bit more as they can tend to be a bit bland.

Pumpkin puree is great for pies, muffins, bread, ice cream, the list goes on and on. From one pumpkin I was able to make vegan pumpkin spice ice cream, pumpkin spice muffins and I still had some leftover that I just added some brown sugar, butter, hazelnuts and some spices for a little lunch side-dish, which I am eating as I type this.

Another great thing about baking your own pumpkin, are the seeds. Save those seeds and then toast them with a bit of olive oil and salt. They are great as a snack, on salads, or you can even make a great fall pesto with them. (that’s on the agenda for this week).

Fresh Pumpkin Puree

1 fresh sugar pumpkin (also known as a pie pumpkin)

Preheat the oven to 350º F.

Cut the pumpkin in half and clean out the seeds and stringy membrane. Reserve seeds to make toasted pumpkin seeds. lace the pieces cut side down in a roasting pan along with 1/2 inch of water. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour, until the pumpkin is soft. You can check for doneness by piercing a fork into the flesh of the pumpkin. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Scoop the flesh away from the skin. Blend the flesh in your food processor until smooth like canned pumpkin.

The pureed pumpkin can be used right away in recipes or you can store it a day or two in the refrigerator in an air-tight container. If it is going to be more than a couple days until you will be using it, freeze it in small quantities in freezer safe bags.

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Chicken and Wild Rice Soup with Roast Garlic, White Beans and Kale

On Saturday, Mark and I took our nephew, Noah, apple picking at Becker Farms in Gasport, New York. It was the perfect Autumn day and we had a super fun time (look for some apple recipes very soon). The weather was perfect, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the drive out was beautiful. I hadn’t planned a dinner for when we got home, so I was scrambling to figure out a perfect Fall dinner. Soup sounded delicious so I took some of the bones from the freezer that I had from our Sojourner Farms whole chickens that we made over the last few weeks. I also took a peek at the garden and noticed I still had an abundance of kale growing, so I came up with this soup with things I had on hand. Wow, it was not only delicious, but the perfect end to the perfect October day. The wild rice has a beautiful nutty flavor, the roasted garlic is so tasty and not only does the “super-food”, kale, add a nice green color and TONS of nutrients to the soup, the slight crunch and flavor is the perfect finishing move.

You could use store-bought stock, if you don’t have any homemade on hand, but you may find you’ll want to add onions, celery and some fresh herbs to the soup to give it a bit more flavor.

Chicken Stock

4 quarts of water
1 fresh whole chicken 3-4 lbs, cut into pieces or 4 lbs assorted chicken bones (I prefer organic, free range and without hormones or antibiotics)
4 celery stalks, roughly chopped
1 large onion, quartered
2 garlic cloves, halved
2 bay leaves
5 sprigs fresh thyme
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons pepper

In a large stockpot, (use the strainer that fits in your stock pot if you have one) combine all the ingredients and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 2 1/2 hours, skimming the surface occasionally to remove any foam that forms on the surface. I added a bit more water as it was cooking to keep the chicken and vegetables covered. The longer you cook the stock, the stronger the flavor will be, but 2 1/2 hours was more than adequate and the stock had a fantastic flavor to it.

Remove the meat and bones and reserve, the meat can be separated and added back to the soup, used for chicken salad, etc. I prefer to add it back to the soup. If you didn’t use the strainer when making the stock, strain the stock to remove all the vegetables and other bits and add back to the pot. Throw out the bones and vegetables. Use the stock immediately or let the stock cool completely, and refrigerate overnight. Skim any fat that forms on the surface. Keep refrigerated in airtight containers until ready to use, up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 2 months. Since I was using the stock immediately, I skimmed any visible fat off the top, made sure that it was strained of everything, and kept it on a low heat while I prepped everything for the soup.

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup with Roast Garlic, White Beans and Kale
Serves 6-8

8 cups of homemade chicken stock
1 whole head of organic garlic
1 cup organic wild rice
1 15 ounce can of organic white beans, drained. (I used cannellini)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 large bunch of kale, stems and center ribs discarded and leaves coarsely chopped
salt
freshly ground black pepper

While your stock is simmering, preheat your oven to 400°F.

Peel away the outer layers of the garlic bulb skin, leaving the skins of the individual cloves intact. Wrap the entire head tightly in aluminum foil. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the cloves feel soft. Allow the garlic to cool slightly.

Once your stock is ready, the bones have been removed and it has been strained, add back in any chicken that you’d like in the soup. After the garlic is cool enough to touch, take each clove of garlic from the head and squeeze it over a small bowl, removing the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins, or cutting it out. Add all of the roasted garlic to the soup. Stir to combine.

Add 1 cup of wild rice to the stock, bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 35-40 minutes or until the rice is cooked. Add the beans and kale. Stir and allow the kale to wilt, about 5 to 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy!

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Cilantro Lime Sweet Potatoes with Honey

This is a lovely Autumn recipe that my good friend April shared with me years ago. It is a staple in our house once the cooler weather hits, perfect with so many meals. It is super easy to throw together and it’s very tasty. The sweetness from the honey, the salt and the tang from the lime all match-up so perfectly, then the distinct flavor from the cilantro finishes it off so nicely. If you are vegan and want to skip the honey, a nice organic brown sugar would be nice, too.

I had my parents over for a delicious Autumn dinner last night and this was the perfect side. Our entire meal was made from either our gardens, the farmers market or Sojourner Farms. We had a baked smoked ham from our pork share at Sojourner, these fantastic sweet potatoes, a green salad and southern-style green beans. My mom even made her delicious gluten-free apple crisp from the apples growing on the tree in their yard. (Recipe to follow).

Cilantro Lime Sweet Potatoes
serves 4

2 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces (about 4-6 potatoes, depending on size)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons honey (You can find great local honey from your farmers market)
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh lime zest
fresh lime juice from one lime
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Put oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 425°F.
Toss sweet potatoes with oil, honey, lime juice and salt in a shallow baking pan. Top with lime zest. Arrange potatoes in 1 layer and roast, stirring halfway through roasting, until tender, about 30 minutes total. (You can taste halfway too to see if you need more of any of the ingredients – sometimes you may need a bit more of something) Remove potatoes from pan to a serving bowl, top with a bit more fresh cilantro, lime juice, lime zest and kosher salt to taste. Toss slightly and serve.

Cilantro Lime Sweet Potatoes with Honey

Here is a photo of the beautiful smoked ham that we baked from Sojourner Farms. Hands down, the tastiest ham I have ever had.
The beautiful baked smoked ham from Sojourner Farms

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Roasted Tomato Soup with Garlic and Basil

Considering I had so many tomatoes, I decided that I wanted to make a big pot of tomato soup and I thought that roasting the tomatoes would bring even more flavor to the soup. I had a bowl of this soup for lunch today, it was rustic and had so much flavor. I had a bit of a stuffy head today, so the heat from the soup and the hint of spice from the red pepper flakes really did wonders for me. This is a very simple recipe, with just a few ingredients and it could be served hot or if you like gazpacho, it would also be great cold.

Roasted Tomato Soup with Garlic and Basil
serves 4

3 pounds plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
6 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons minced garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon (or more) dried crushed red pepper
6 cups low-salt organic vegetable stock
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place tomatoes, cut side up, on large baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle tomatoes with 3 tablespoons olive oil. Roast until tomatoes are brown and tender, about 1 hour. Cool slightly.

Transfer tomatoes and any accumulated juices to processor. Using on/off turns, process until slightly chunky.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, rosemary, thyme, about 1/4 of the fresh basil and dried crushed red pepper. Add vegetable stock; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until soup thickens slightly, about 25 minutes. Stir in the remaining basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.

If you want to make it a day or two ahead of time (it keeps very well), remove the soup from heat, save the fresh basil. Rewarm the soup over medium-high heat before continuing. Then stir in the remaining basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.

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Fresh Chunky Tomato Sauce

This time of year, as soon as the temperatures start to drop, and the leaves start to fall, I begin thinking about all the things I can make in a large pot. Soups, stews, sauces, etc. – I love it all. Seeing as the tomatoes I planted in my garden this year have been getting eaten by an unknown little critter and I didn’t get nearly the amount of tomatoes I thought I would, I bought an 8-quart crate of plum tomatoes from the farmers market this past weekend. I decided I would make tomato sauce and soup.

Though this seems like a complicated and time-consuming recipe, it really isn’t. It is somehow very therapeutic and calming to peel and squeeze all the tomatoes one at a time and to have a big pot of sauce, made entirely from fresh ingredients. The smell of this sauce simmering is incredible and I really can’t see myself ever buying jarred sauce again.

If you have a food mill you can run your tomatoes through them on a fine setting and it will remove both the seeds and the skin. Then you can skip the first two steps.

Obviously, everyone has their preferences on their tomato sauce, sweet, spicy, chunky, smooth, etc. – this recipe is very versatile so play around.

Fresh Chunky Tomato Sauce
makes about 4 cups sauce

4 quarts plum tomatoes (or any variety of tomato you prefer)
1/4 cup olive oil
Small onion
3 small cloves of garlic
1 stalk of celery
2 bay leaves
red pepper flakes
fresh thyme
fresh oregano
fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
glug of red wine
Slivers of fresh basil, to finish

Bring a pot of water to boil. Cut a small X at the bottom of each tomato. Blanche the tomatoes in the boiling water for approximately 30 seconds, and shock in an ice water bath. Peeling the tomatoes will now be very easy. If any of them give you trouble, toss it back in the boiling water for another 10 seconds until the skin loosens up. Discard the skins.

If using plum tomatoes, halve each lengthwise. If using beefsteak or another round variety, quarter them. Squeeze the seeds out over a strainer over a bowl and reserve the juices. (Discard the seeds.) Either coarsely chop the tomatoes or use a potato masher to do so in your pot, as they cook.

Prepare your vegetables by finely chopping the onion, celery and garlic. Heat your olive oil in a large pot over medium. Cook the onion, celery and garlic until they just start to take on a little color, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, fresh thyme, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes and bay leaves, bring to a simmer, lowering the heat to medium-low to keep it at a gentle simmer. I also added a glug or two of some red wine that I had open. At this point, if you haven’t chopped your tomatoes yet, use a potato masher to break them up as you cook them. Simmer your sauce, stirring occasionally. Allow to simmer for 30-45 minutes, longer if you have it.

If your sauce is thicker than you would like, you can add back the reserved tomato juice as need. If your sauce is too lumpy for your taste, use an immersion blender to break it down to your desired texture. I prefer a chunky, almost marinara type sauce, myself. Season with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt to taste. Scatter fresh basil over the pot before serving. Taste again.

8-quarts of plum tomatoes from the farmers market for Fresh Chunky Tomato Sauce

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Open-Face Chicken Salad Sandwich

On more than one occasion after roasting or grilling one of whole chickens from Sojourner Farms, we have taken the leftovers and thrown together the tastiest chicken salad we’ve ever had. I decided to take one of the chickens this week and roast it, with the sole purpose of making the best chicken salad ever! I roasted it very simply with just salt and pepper, no oil or anything else.

Simple Roast Chicken

One 3- to 4-pound farm-raised chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rinse the chicken, then dry it very well with paper towels, inside and out. The less it steams, the drier the heat, the better.
Salt and pepper the cavity. Now, salt the chicken— try to rain the salt over the bird so that it has a nice uniform coating that will result in a crisp, salty, flavorful skin (about 1 tablespoon). When it’s cooked, you should still be able to make out the salt baked onto the crisp skin. Season to taste with pepper.

Place the chicken in a roasting pan and, when the oven is up to temperature, put the chicken in the oven. I left it alone—I didn’t add butter or olive oil; you can if you wish, but I feel this creates steam, which I didn’t want. Roast it until it’s done, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove it from the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board.

Chicken Salad
4-cups (or thereabouts) of chicken from a whole roast chicken
1 cup of homemade aioli (or any mayo of your choice)
2 to 3 green onions, sliced thinly
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper

After the chicken has cooled enough to handle it, remove all of the meat and skin. Put the skin to the side or give it to your husband as a late night snack, like I did. Using kitchen shears or a knife and fork, cut the meat into bit sized pieces or shred it. I placed the chicken in a bowl and allowed it to cool overnight in the refrigerator.

After the chicken is cooled, add the aioli and green onions to the chicken, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well to coat all of the chicken. Add more aioli if needed. This can be made ahead of time, covered and chilled.

The Sandwich

2 slices of your favorite sandwich bread (see my recipe for gluten-free sandwich bread)
Aioli
1 plum tomato, sliced thinly
Arugula or Lettuce
Salt and Pepper
Any other condiments of your choice

Toast the bread to your liking. Spread a thin layer of aioli on each slice of bread and top with the chicken salad, top with a bit of fresh ground pepper. Place two thin slices of tomato on top. Add lettuce or anything else you might like. Enjoy the tastiest chicken salad you will ever have.

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