Monday, May 23, 2011

A whole lot of goodness

We've been busy!

A Simple Greens Soup
From Asparagus to Zucchini, Harmony Valley Farm Recipe

First of all, if you're cooking in the midwest and using CSA veggies and don't own the cookbook, From Asparagus to Zucchini, go buy it! It's fantastic. To be honest, nettles aren't my favorite but this soup was pretty good.

Nettle, Sunchoke and Ramp Soup

2 tablespoons butter or oil
1 small yellow onion, medium diced
1 pound peeled sunchokes
4 cups water or low sodium chicken broth
1 bunch of greens, washed and chopped (we used nettles)
Salt and pepper
1/2 heavy cream (optional but delicious)
Shredded smoked cheddar (optional topping)

Heat butter or oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onions; cook slowly, stirring occasionally until they are translucent (don't let them brown). Add the sunchokes and the water/broth. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and cook until the sunchokes are soft, about 15 minutes. Add the greens and cook until they wilt, about three minutes. (If you're using kale, let cook five minutes.) Puree the soup with an immersion blender (or in batches in a blender or food processor) until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Optional: you may pass soup through a strainer to take out the little bits and make it smoother. For a creamier version, add the heavy cream at the end and heat through. We topped the soup with some shredded smoked cheddar. Makes 4 servings.

Tagliatelle With Parsnips And Bacon
Adapted from Babbo

I had a fantastic afternoon at the spa last week and came home to this dish made with fresh pasta. Awesome.

Tagliatelle With Parsnips And Bacon

1/4 pound bacon or pancetta, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 pounds parsnips, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
8 ounces pasta (fresh pasta if you have it)
1/4 cup chopped green onion (or parsley)
Salt and pepper
Grated parmesan

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, add the chopped bacon to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until the bacon is browned, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and let drain on a couple paper towels. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat.

Turn the heat to medium and add the butter to skillet with the bacon fat. Add the parsnips and cook for about 12 minutes, stirring often. They should be lightly browned and very tender. Turn off the heat.

Cook pasta according to the directions on the box. When done, reserve 2 cups of the cooking water and then add the pasta directly to the skillet with the parsnips. Turn heat to high and add about 1 1/2 cups of the cooking water, the bacon, and the green onions. Cook for 1 minute, stirring often. Add more of the cooking water if it looks too dry. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4.

Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler
Birchwood Cafe Recipe from The Minnesota Homegrown Cookbook

This was the best strawberry rhubarb cobbler I've ever had. There will be no need to try other recipes from now on. We took this to our friends' house for dinner and didn't have the opportunity to take a very good photo but you get the idea.

Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler

Burdock Chips

Definitely my favorite way to enjoy burdock. We had these with some fish (fish and chips) and a nice spinach salad.

Burdock Chips

Ramp Tart
From Eggs on Sunday

We threw this together at the last minute and I forgot to plan ahead and make my own ricotta, resulting in a quick trip to the store, and we realized we didn't have any bacon. Fail! It was still pretty good but it could have used the bacon. Mmm bacon.

Ramp Tart

For the tart crust:
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
8 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons ice water, plus more as needed

For the tart filling:
4 slices of good quality bacon
1 large shallot, sliced
3 cups (packed) spinach
1 1/2 cups ricotta
1 large egg
salt and pepper, to taste
about 18 ramps, cleaned and bulb ends trimmed

In a food processor, combine the flours and salt and pulse to combine. Add the pieces of cold unsalted butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the 3 tablespoons ice water, then pulse in 1 second bursts until the mixture resembles curds and clumps (you can add a little more water if needed.) Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface, gather it together in a ball, flatten into a disk shape and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour or more.

To pre-bake the tart shell, roll it out and fit it into a 9-inch tart pan, trimming off any excess (you can save the excess dough to patch any tears that might appear in the dough.) Prick the bottom of the shell with a fork all over, then lay a piece of foil into the shell and fill the foil with dried beans (they’ll act as weights to keep the shell from puffing up in the oven.) Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and beans and bake for an additional 7 minutes or so, until the dough loses it’s glossiness and turns ever so slightly golden brown around the edges. Remove the shell from the oven, keeping it in the pan, and cool on a rack.

When you’re ready to assemble the tart, cook the bacon in a large, heavy saute pan until browned and crisp. Remove to a cooling rack to drain off any excess fat. Pour off the bacon fat (save it to cook other things with!) until there’s about a tablespoon left in the pan. Return the pan to medium high heat and saute the sliced shallots until softened, then add the spinach and cook the mixture just until wilted.

Transfer the spinach/shallot mixture to the bowl of a food processor. Add the ricotta cheese, egg, and a generous pinch of freshly ground black pepper (I found it didn’t need much additional salt since the bacon is kind of salty.) Puree the mixture until the spinach is chopped, and set aside.

In the same pan you used to cook the bacon and spinach, add the whole ramps and a little bit of water. Cook just until the ramp greens have wilted, and set aside.

Transfer the ricotta/spinach mixture into the tart shell. Top with the crumbled bacon slices, then arrange the wilted ramps over the top. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet, and bake for about 35-45 minutes in a 375 degree F oven, until the top is just starting to turn brown, the filling is slightly puffed and set, and the crust is golden brown. Serves 4 generously.

Nettle Risotto, Ramps Biscuits, and Arugula, Watermelon and Feta Salad

This was a heavenly meal. Even the nettle risotto! A friend of mine, Clare, thought the nettles would ruin the risotto (she's also not a fan) but I have to say that it worked well! The ramp biscuits were to die for as was the salad.

Nettle Risotto & Ramp Biscuit

Arugula, Watermelon & Feta Salad

Risotto with Nettles
From Joanne Weir, via Mariquita Farm

6 ounces nettles, stems removed
2 cups homemade chicken stock
2 cups water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, minced (I used some ramps)
1 cup Arborio
3/4 cup dry white wine, preferable Sauvignon Blanc
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Place the chicken stock and water in a sauce pan and heat until it is hot but not boiling. Reduce the heat to low and maintain the heat just below a simmer. Place a ladle in the pan.

Warm the olive oil in a large heavy casserole over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 10 minutes. Add the rice and nettles and stir for 2 to 3 minutes to toast the rice and coat with oil.

Add the wine and simmer, stirring constantly, until the wine has reduced by half, 3 to 4 minutes. Add a few ladlefuls of stock to the rice and stir to wipe the rice away from the sides and the bottom of the pot. Continue to stir until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Add another ladleful of stock and continue to stir until the liquid has been almost absorbed. Continue to add stock and stir in the same manner until the rice is no longer chalky, 20 to 25 minutes total, depending upon the variety of rice. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and add another ladleful of stock, the butter and the half of Parmigiano. Cover the pan and let sit covered off the heat for 5 minutes. Remove the cover and stir. Place the risotto in a bowl and serve immediately. Top with remaining parmesan.

Ramp Biscuits
from Bon Appetit

When we made these before, I don't think we did the egg wash or cracked coriander. That was a mistake. See previous blog post for recipe.

Watermelon, Arugula, and Feta Salad
From Serious Eats

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 small shallots, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
2 large bunches of arugula (6 cups packed), washed and dried
2 cups cubed seedless watermelon
1 cup (4 ounces) French feta cheese, crumbled

Combine oil, vinegar, and shallots; mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper; let stand 5 minutes. Arrange arugula on 4 serving plates or bowls. Arrange watermelon and cheese on top of arugula; drizzle with dressing. Serves 4.

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