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Recipe: Wellington Trumps Turkey This Holiday

Contributor Lisa Fielding is a private chef and boutique caterer based in Manhattan who weekends in Litchfield County whenever possible. Many of her Manhattan clients are also Litchfield County weekenders, so work brings her to Northwest Connecticut as well. A Los Angeles transplant, Fielding was a former Hollywood film executive who segued into screenwriting several years ago, which enabled her to pursue her passion for food and entertaining. Lisa’s culinary skill set draws from a broad spectrum of dishes and ingredients.

Whenever there was a special occasion in our house or a spectacular party in the works, my mother would pull out all the stops and make a classic dish or dessert that was a Herculean effort from my young point of view. Two dishes stand out in particular: Beef Wellington and Baked Alaska. I never understood the attraction of the latter. Cake is cake and ice cream is ice cream. Should the two collide, it needn’t occur under the veil of a meringue bomb with the added jeopardy of a brief appearance under a broiler. She loved making it until one year, with her hands full, she used a bare foot to push the scorching rack bearing the Alaska back into the oven, and the dessert was forever removed from our festivities.

The Beef Wellington lived on, and it is with much chagrin that I admit to never undertaking the sumptuous and elegant main course until a client (whom I could not refuse) requested it upon his return home from a long stay in the hospital. I smiled at memories of my mother making her own pastry and just enough extra to cut out flowers and leaves to decorate the crust. She was talented in that way, which I am not. I promised to make the Wellington, but since this was new territory for me, I didn’t promise it would be crowned with a pastry laurel wreath. 

For the uninitiated, Beef Wellington is rumored to be a classic British dish named after the first Duke of Wellington, but little evidence supports this historical anecdote. What it is, and all cooks agree on, is seared beef tenderloin coated with pâté and duxelles, which is then wrapped in puff pastry and baked. The process is shockingly simple. I imagined a far more laborious endeavor in the kitchen, with a few aborted encasing episodes thrown in for good measure. This did not happen. My Wellington cooperated easily and went quietly into the oven encrusted in vented puff pastry glistening with egg wash and sprinkled with coarse sea salt. The overall appearance was rustic but still decorative. After carving the first slice, I was hooked. Few dishes make such a stunning presentation right out of the oven and require so little else to make a meal fit for a duke or a duchess. 

So this holiday dinner, ours being a Christmas celebration, I will be serving a stately Beef Wellington with green peppercorn sauce, roasted fingerling potatoes with fresh herbs, and wilted greens. My mother would be proud, but I know that with her propensity for perfection, she would comment (and not under her breath) something to the effect of “It would have looked so much prettier with a Christmas wreath on top and perhaps a few red peppercorns for color.” Come to think of it, that’s not a bad idea.

Happy Holidays from the Duchess of Litchfield County!

The Ultimate Beef Wellington
Serves 6 to 8

For the duxelles
3 pints (1-1/2 lb.) white button mushrooms
2 shallots, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the beef
1 3-lb. center-cut beef tenderloin, trimmed and tied
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 Tbs. salted butter
2 Tbs. Dijon mustard

For the pastry
Flour, for rolling out puff pastry
1 lb. puff pastry, thawed if using frozen
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ tsp. coarse sea salt
Minced chives, for garnish

For the green peppercorn sauce
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 shallots, sliced
2 cloves garlic, smashed
3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
1 cup brandy
1 box beef stock
2 cups heavy cream
2 Tbs. grainy mustard
½ cup green peppercorns in brine, drained.

Make the duxelles:
Put the mushrooms, shallots, garlic, and thyme in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Put the butter and olive oil in a large sauté pan and set over medium heat. Add the shallot and mushroom mixture and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool.

Prepare the beef:
Tie the tenderloin in 4 places so it holds its cylindrical shape while being seared. Generously coat with salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a heavy skillet and add the beef to the pan. Sear all surfaces, including the ends, about 8 minutes. When the beef is seared, remove from heat, cut off the twine and smear lightly all over with Dijon mustard. Allow to cool.

Prepare the pastry:
Heat the oven to 425°F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry out to about a 1/3-inch thickness. With a spatula spread the duxelles over the pastry, leaving a 1-inch border. Set the beef in the center of the pastry and fold over the longer sides, brushing with egg wash to seal. Fold the ends and tuck them under the beef on the seam side. Place the beef seam side down on a baking sheet. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Make a couple of slits in the top of the pastry using the tip of a paring knife to create vents that will allow the steam to escape while cooking.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and the beef registers 125°F on an instant-read thermometer. If the pastry browns before the beef is finished cooking, tent with foil and continue cooking. Remove from the oven and let rest while you make the sauce.

Make the green peppercorn sauce:
Add the olive oil to the pan after removing the beef. Add the shallots, garlic, and thyme and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. Then, off the heat, add the brandy and flambé, using a long kitchen match. After the flame dies down, return to the heat, add stock, and reduce by about half. Strain out the solids, and then add the cream and mustard; reduce by half again. Remove from the heat and add the green peppercorns.

Cut the Wellington into thick slabs and serve with the sauce.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 12/06/17 at 04:28 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Broccoli, Caramelized Onion And Cheddar Frittata

One of our favorite events every summer is The Sylvia Center’s Farm-to-Table dinner, hosted by Great Performances in the fields of Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook, N.Y. The mission of The Sylvia Center is to inspire young people and their families to eat well through hands-on learning experiences on the farm and in the kitchen. Madeleine Fischer, program coordinator at The Sylvia Center, offers us recipes the teenagers are learning to make.

Suitable for every meal, frittatas are, simply put, the best. Our version uses sweet, caramelized onions balanced by crunchy and delicate broccoli. Serve it with a side salad or other steamed veggies for a quick dinner. Try it leftover atop a piece of toast for lunch. Pair it with roasted potatoes as a hearty breakfast.

Once you’ve given this recipe a shot, let yourself experiment with different vegetable, herb and cheese combinations. Swooping in like the superhero of quick-fix meals, a frittata, packed full of protein and veggies, might just come to your rescue when you need it most.

Broccoli, Caramelized Onion and Cheddar Frittata
Serves 8

10 large eggs
2 large onions, diced
2 heads broccoli, roughly chopped
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat broiler.

2. Beat eggs until frothy. Add 1 teaspoon salt and some pepper.

3. In a large oven-safe sauté pan over medium-low heat, sauté the onions in olive oil until caramelized or a light brown, about 20 minutes. Add the broccoli to the onions and cook until tender, about five minutes.

4. Add egg mixture to pan. Add cheese and cook at medium heat until barely set, about 7 minutes.

5. Transfer pan to broiler. Broil for a minute or two, until top of frittata is nicely browned. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 11/27/17 at 03:08 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Abuelita’s Mole

Contributor Lisa Fielding is a private chef and boutique caterer based in Manhattan who weekends in Litchfield County whenever possible. Many of her Manhattan clients are also Litchfield County weekenders, so work brings her to Northwest Connecticut as well. A Los Angeles transplant, Fielding was a former Hollywood film executive who segued into screenwriting several years ago, which enabled her to pursue her passion for food and entertaining. Lisa’s culinary skill set draws from a broad spectrum of dishes and ingredients.

Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez is a Mexican conductor and classical pianist who happens to be associated with one of my favorite clients in the city. Last Sunday he performed a recital as part of a fundraiser and yours truly was asked to cater the luncheon. Since I am of Mexican heritage I suggested a Mexican fiesta, which was unanimously approved. So now that I opened my boca grande, I knew I had to pull out all the stops to impress an authentic Mexican. This proved to be not too terribly tough an assignment as I took a page from my Mexican abuelita’s cookbook and made her unbelievably thick, rich, smoky, creamy, spicy, nutty, chocolatey mole. It made me want to share what is one of the most deliciosa dishes on earth. (And mole can be frozen so make lots of keep some of it in the freezer.) It’s one of those sauces you can imagine eating with everything. Buen apetito! And muchas gracias Eppie Rodriguez. You were one hell of a cook and an always smiling and loving abuela.

Lisa Fielding’s Abuelita’s Mole
Serves 10

3 tablespoons (or more) peanut oil (preferably unrefined), divided
5 pounds chicken thighs
3 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 cups orange juice
1 1/4 pounds onions, sliced
1/2 cup sliced almonds
6 large garlic cloves, sliced
4 teaspoons cumin seeds
4 teaspoons coriander seeds
4 ounces dried pasilla chiles, stemmed, seeded, torn into 1-inch pieces, rinsed
1 ounce dried negro chiles, stemmed, seeded, torn into 1-inch pieces, rinsed
1/4 cup raisins
4 3 x 1/2-inch strips orange peel (orange part only)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 3.1-ounce disk Mexican chocolate, chopped
½ cup creamy peanut butter
Chopped fresh cilantro
Warm flour tortillas

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Generously salt and pepper chicken thighs. Place in a roasting pan in a single layer and cook until nearly done – 45 minutes.  Add broth and orange juice and cook for another 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add almonds, garlic, cumin, and coriander. Sauté until nuts and garlic begin to color, about 2 minutes. Add chiles and stir until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes.

Using tongs, transfer chicken to large bowl. Pour chicken cooking liquid into saucepan with onion mixture (reserve pot). Add raisins, orange peel, and oregano to saucepan. Cover and simmer until chiles are very soft, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat; add chocolate. Let stand until chocolate melts and sauce mixture cools slightly, about 15 minutes.

Working in small batches, transfer sauce mixture and peanut butter to blender and puree until smooth; return to reserved pot. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. (Sauce can be made 3 days ahead.) Add chicken thighs to pot and pour in sauce. Heat until bubbling. Serve with saffron rice, black chipotle beans and warm tortillas. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 11/21/17 at 05:21 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Pasta with Chicken Sausage & Broccoli Rabe

One of our favorite events every summer is The Sylvia Center’s Farm-to-Table dinner, hosted by Great Performances in the fields of Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook, N.Y. The mission of The Sylvia Center is to inspire young people and their families to eat well through hands-on learning experiences on the farm and in the kitchen. Madeleine Fischer, program coordinator at The Sylvia Center, offers us recipes the teenagers are learning to make.

This recipe is so satisfying that before you’ve even finished cleaning your plate, you’ll be adding it to your repertoire of quick, easy and fulfilling weeknight meals. Preparing a mise en place — the French phrase for prepping everything you need for a recipe — will set you up for success by having all of the ingredients ready to go. Sautéing the broccoli rabe is arguably the best part of this recipe because it turns a mesmerizing bright green and comes to life before your eyes. That medium-high heat is a magical thing!

When it came time for us to share the meal we created, it was evident from the silence and facial expressions that the broccoli rabe’s commanding bitterness challenged some of our teen’s taste buds. This opened up the age-old discussion of how our taste buds are always changing. One of the best things about cooking is that it gives us a space to try new things.

Pasta with Homemade Chicken Sausage and Broccoli Rabe
Serves 6

1 lb pasta
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 lb ground chicken
2 tablespoons parsley, minced
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth, maybe more
1 bunch broccoli rabe, chopped into 1-inch pieces
Grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes

1. Cook pasta according to instructions on the box (al dente). Drain and reserve ½ cup pasta water.

2. In a large bowl, combine ground chicken, parsley, fennel, and oregano. Add a few pinches of salt and pepper. Mix to combine and set aside.

3. Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat. Add a generous drizzle of olive oil and, when it shimmers, add garlic and crushed red pepper. Sauté garlic until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add chicken mixture and sauté for about 4-5 minutes. Add broccoli rabe and continue to cook until broccoli turns a bright green. Add pasta and ½ cup of chicken broth, or more if necessary. If the pasta sauce needs thickening, add some reserved pasta water and simmer. Serve immediately with Parmesan.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 11/13/17 at 04:16 PM • Permalink

Recipe: The Ultimate Double Chocolate Chip Cookie

Contributor Lisa Fielding is a private chef and boutique caterer based in Manhattan who weekends in Litchfield County whenever possible. Many of her Manhattan clients are also Litchfield County weekenders, so work brings her to Northwest Connecticut as well. A Los Angeles transplant, Fielding was a former Hollywood film executive who segued into screenwriting several years ago, which enabled her to pursue her passion for food and entertaining. Lisa’s culinary skill set draws from a broad spectrum of dishes and ingredients.

I wrote this week’s article for purely selfish reasons. I wanted to memorialize the best chocolate chip cookie recipe on earth. That’s saying a lot. And I mean it. For years I have tinkered and tailored recipes to come up with my version of the perfect chocolate chip cookie: thin with lacey and crispy edges, a soft gooey center, studded with extra chocolately chocolate chips, overflowing with chocolate flavor and with a definitive crunch from a spattering of nuts. This quest of mine proved to be some version of the Holy Grail. For all of my trying I never got it right. The famous Toll House cookie is too cakey and fat. Other versions combined different fats and did not deliver the rich buttery taste I also crave. And finally, most chocolate chips are not chocolatey enough for me.

And then, last week, I made a determination that this was it — I was going to master a chocolate chip cookie recipe that would put Tate’s to shame (for a packaged cookie, theirs are pretty good). And I am happy to report, I was not only successful, but I would award myself a big fat gold star! Now I just have to figure out when the next cookie contest is so I can unveil this little beauty to a panel of discriminating judges (and I hope they are kids)! So here it is, folks. Take two of these with a glass of milk and call me in the morning.

Lisa’s Lacey Gooey Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 3 dozen

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

1 cup all purpose baking flour
1 ½ cups oat flour (2 ½ cups oatmeal finely ground in the food processor)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. Maldon salt flakes
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
¾ cup white sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup sweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
11.5 oz. (1 bag) Ghiradelli Milk Chocolate Premium Baking Chips
1 cup chopped pecans

1. In a mixing bowl, mix flour, salt, baking soda and cocoa powder.

2 In another mixing bowl beat butter and sugars until creamy.

3. Add eggs one at a time to butter mixture and beat well after each addition.

4. Add vanilla to wet mixture.

5. Gradually beat in flour mixture until well combined. Turn in chocolate chips and mix with a spoon. Then add the nuts and mix again.

6. Drop by 2 tablespoons onto prepared cookie sheet giving ample space between them as they will flatten when they cook. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until done. Cookies should look crispy on the edges and soft in the center.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 11/07/17 at 02:41 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Butternut Squash Minestrone

One of our favorite events every summer is The Sylvia Center’s Farm-to-Table dinner, hosted by Great Performances in the fields of Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook, N.Y. The mission of The Sylvia Center is to inspire young people and their families to eat well through hands-on learning experiences on the farm and in the kitchen. Madeleine Fischer, program coordinator at The Sylvia Center, offers us recipes the teenagers are learning to make.

This fresh yet hearty take on the classic Italian minestrone is tough to beat when looking for a recipe that simultaneously reminds us of summer days gone by and welcomes the change that fall has to offer. And its versatility allows us to use whatever is in season. This worked out well for us during the mysterious and unpredictable warm and cold days with students from Ichabod Crane.

Minestrone is an ideal soup in which to play around with spice and vegetable combinations. For our recipe, the bounty of butternut squash, waiting patiently to be featured, was a necessary addition. When simmered in the minestrone broth, it took on a whole new persona that is melt-in-your-mouth goodness. Trustworthy kale, by our side all season, was our green of choice. Cabbage, Swiss chard, or any hearty green can be substituted. As our own twist, we used the last of our cherry tomatoes in lieu of canned. Macaroni is conveniently cooked in the broth and cannellini beans round out the soup, making it a complete meal. Topped off with oregano and Parmesan cheese, a familiar and beloved combination, all parties left content.

Butternut Squash Minestrone
Serves 4-6

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups butternut squash, cut into ½- inch cubes
2 quarts chicken stock
1 cup dried macaroni
1 15 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1 15 oz. can cannellini beans
1 bunch kale, chopped
1 T fresh oregano, minced
Salt
Pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan

1. Heat oil in large saucepan. Add onions, sauté 2-3 minutes. Add garlic, sauté until fragrant. Add butternut squash, sauté for another 2 minutes.

2. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add macaroni and reduce heat to simmer, cook 7-8 minutes, add tomatoes. Simmer for another 2-3 minutes. Add beans.

3. Add Swiss chard and oregano. Stir in until it wilts. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with Parmesan.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 10/31/17 at 05:23 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Fougasse: The Bread Of Friendship

Contributor Lisa Fielding is a private chef and boutique caterer based in Manhattan who weekends in Litchfield County whenever possible. Many of her Manhattan clients are also Litchfield County weekenders, so work brings her to Northwest Connecticut as well. A Los Angeles transplant, Fielding was a former Hollywood film executive who segued into screenwriting several years ago, which enabled her to pursue her passion for food and entertaining. Lisa’s culinary skill set draws from a broad spectrum of dishes and ingredients.

It is that time of year: the holidays are just about upon us and endless entertaining is in sight, which translates to hours in the kitchen. No doubt cooking is laborious, but it is also a supreme act of generosity and creates an atmosphere where people can truly connect. Ergo, I am not only an enthusiastic party giver but also an appreciative guest. Every time an invitation arrives inviting me to dine I am over the moon. Entertaining doesn’t have to be fancy. It just has to come from the heart. The moment they’ve arrived, guests can feel the amount of love and care that has gone into whatever meal you’ve prepared and table you’ve set. This makes them feel special, and enables us to take the time to enjoy each other. 

So now that you’re contemplating your multi-starred holiday menu, don’t settle for dinner rolls at your table. Instead put a little elbow grease into the bread and make the deeply presentable fougasse. Fougasse is a Provençal flatbread that dates back to ancient Rome and is a cousin to its Italian counterpart, focaccia. I have adapted several recipes over the years and choose to stuff mine with olives, dried fruits, nuts and cheese or — for a sweeter version that is germane to Monaco — nuts, citrus and sugar. Either way, I roll the dough into a large leaf shape and slash it in three places to deepen the effect before sprinkling with sea salt and additional herbs, and then baking. The concept of bringing the bread to the table whole is that each person tears a piece and offers the fougasse to his or her companion, and so on. It’s a casual and convivial custom that harkens back centuries. 

Here is a basic recipe for fougasse. Let your imagination run wild and add ingredients that appeal to you.

Fougasse
Yields 2 loaves

1 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1 1/3 cups water heated to 115°F
4½ cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing loaves
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/3 cup roasted walnut pieces
1/3 cup crumbled Gorgonzola
1/3 cup Niçoise olives, pitted and chopped
Sea salt to taste
1 tsp. herbes de Provence

1. In a large bowl, stir together yeast, sugar and water; let sit until foamy, 10 minutes. Stir in flour, oil, and kosher salt and mix until a dough forms. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead for 6 minutes. Or mix dough in a stand mixer and then switch to the dough hook and knead for 6 minutes. Shape into a ball and moisten with a little olive oil; cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place until doubled in size, 1½ hours.

2. Heat oven to 500°F. Divide dough into 2 equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll into a rough 8x10-inch rectangle. Mound half the walnuts, cheese and olives in the center. Fold the sides over the filling until you’ve made an envelope. Carefully re-roll, evenly distributing filling until the dough resembles a large leaf roughly 10x12 inches.

3. Transfer the leaf to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, cut a single slash down the middle of the bread and two additional slashes, slightly angled, on the sides.  Spread slashes apart with your fingers. Cover with a damp towel; let rest until puffed, about 30 minutes. Lightly brush the loaf with olive oil; sprinkle generously with sea salt and herbes de Provence. Put the baking sheet in the oven and carefully toss several handfuls of water on the bottom of the oven to create steam and then close the door. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 10/24/17 at 03:07 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Vegetable Ajiaco

One of our favorite events every summer is The Sylvia Center’s Farm-to-Table dinner, hosted by Great Performances in the fields of Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook, N.Y. The mission of The Sylvia Center is to inspire young people and their families to eat well through hands-on learning experiences on the farm and in the kitchen. Kristen Jovanelly, garden educator and manager at The Sylvia Center, offers us recipes the teenagers are learning to make.

Ajiaco is a flavorful potato and corn soup that originates from Colombia, where it is traditionally made with chicken and a variety of potatoes. The starch from the potatoes add a naturally light creaminess reminiscent of whipped mashed potatoes — decadent but not over the top. It is the perfect one-pot meal for the autumn harvest, making delicious use of the end-of-season sweet corn, peppers, potatoes, carrots and fresh herbs. We made this soup on a chilly fall morning with a group of middle school students from Catskill. They devoured the entire pot.

Vegetable Ajiaco
Serves 8

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
2 bell peppers, diced
8 cups vegetable broth, low sodium
4 bay leaves
8 potatoes, mixed variety such as red, Yukon and russet, diced (3-4 lbs)
1 teaspoon salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 ears of fresh corn cut into 2-3 pieces, or kernels if preferred
3 green onions, sliced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
¼ cup parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Recommended garnishes:
Vegan sour cream (about 3/4 cup)
2-3 avocados, peeled, halved and sliced (squeeze lime on them to prevent browning)

1. In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, peppers and carrots, sauté for 2-3 minutes.

2. Turn up the heat to high and add vegetable broth, ⅔ of the potatoes, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Once the soup starts to boil, put heat to medium-low to maintain a simmer, and cover pot partially with a lid. Cook for about 20-30 minutes, until the potatoes are starting to break down.

3. Using a fork, mash some potato pieces against the side of the pot. This helps thicken the soup and create a stew-like consistency.

4. Add remainder of potatoes, corn, green onion, parsley, and cilantro. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are tender and corn is cooked. Mash a few more potatoes, if preferred.

5. Check for seasoning and add more if needed. Remove bay leaves. While soup is finishing up, start preparing your selected garnishes.

6. Remove from heat and add lime juice. Serve hot with sour cream and avocado slices, if desired.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 10/17/17 at 02:45 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Stewed Cannelinis With Pancetta And Swiss Chard

Contributor Lisa Fielding is a private chef and boutique caterer based in Manhattan who weekends in Litchfield County whenever possible. Many of her Manhattan clients are also Litchfield County weekenders, so work brings her to Northwest Connecticut as well. A Los Angeles transplant, Fielding was a former Hollywood film executive who segued into screenwriting several years ago, which enabled her to pursue her passion for food and entertaining. Lisa’s culinary skill set draws from a broad spectrum of dishes and ingredients.

I love cannellinis beans. Whether they are served as part of a light salad with a lemon vinaigrette, fresh Italian parsley and grilled shrimp or part of a hearty wintry stew or soup, they are a key ingredient in this chef’s definition of “comfort food.”

I adapted this recipe from October 2013 Food & Wine. The end result was as sophisticated as a cassoulet without the same amount of preparation and ingredients. I served it for a casual dinner party from the Dutch oven in which it was prepared and I think everyone enjoyed serving seconds from a ceramic ladle on their own. 

So this weekend as the weather cools and the leaves fall, serve this Italian dish family style and be grateful for the change of seasons that make meals like this so welcomed. 

Stewed Cannelini Bean with Pancetta and Swiss Chard
Yield: 4-6 servings

2 cups dried cannellini beans (3/4 lb., soaked overnight and drained)
1 head Swiss chard chiffonade (stalks discarded)
1 small onion halved
1 large onion finely chopped
Sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ lb. pancetta cut into small cubes (lardon in French)
4 garlic cloves slivered
6 hot dried red chiles
1 tsp. finely chopped rosemary
1 tsp. finely chopped sage
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 C. Marsala wine
1 28 oz. canned Italian tomatoes, chopped
Grated parmesan cheese, extra olive oil and fresh cracked pepper to finish. 


1. In a large Dutch oven (enamel Le Creuset, for example) cover the beans and halved onion with water. Salt generously. Bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer over low heat until tender, about an hour. Taste. Continue cooking if they are too al dente. When finished, drain the beans, set aside and reserve the cooking broth. You will need it later to thin the stew.

2. In the same pot, add the pancetta and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally until a nice crisp cube has formed. Set the lardon aside but leave the fat in the pot. Add the olive oil. Heat and add the onions. Saute until translucent. Add the garlic. Cook for two minutes. Add the rosemary and sage and cook until fragrant, one minute. Toss in the thyme, a teaspoon of sea salt and the pancetta. Stir to combine. Toss in the Swiss chard. Allow to wilt with a couple of turns of the spoon. Add the Marsala. Allow it to bubble to cook off the alcohol, three minutes. Add the tomatoes. Cook for a few minutes to incorporate. And then add the beans and the dried chiles.  Salt to taste. Now add enough reserved cooking liquid so sauce just covers beans. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 30 minutes until a rich and thick stew has formed. If the beans are too thick simply add a little more of the cooking liquid.

3. Taste and adjust seasoning.

4. Serve in low, wide bowls.  Dust with freshly grated parmesan, pour a tablespoon of olive oil in the center and pass the pepper grinder. 

 

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Posted by Lisa Green on 10/10/17 at 02:16 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Butternut Squash And Bean Chili

One of our favorite events every summer is The Sylvia Center’s Farm-to-Table dinner, hosted by Great Performances in the fields of Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook, N.Y. The mission of The Sylvia Center is to inspire young people and their families to eat well through hands-on learning experiences on the farm and in the kitchen. Kristen Jovanelly, garden educator and manager at The Sylvia Center, offers us recipes the teenagers are learning to make.

The weather has been…all over the place. On the farm, a single day may necessitate shorts and a tank top and a sweater plus vest plus hats plus gloves. My corner of the office is beginning to look like a confused hamper. The primary question I’m getting to with all of this is, of course, what do we eat?! The arrival of Junetember these past few weeks has thrown a wrench into our objective at the Sylvia Center to eat seasonally. Our fall crops are ready, but we still crave ice cream and corn.

Luckily, we have this Butternut Squash Black Bean Chili recipe in our back pocket for days just like these. Squash and chili are two words that resonate deeply with the part of our brain yearning for flannels, fall leaves, and thick socks. Yet, the addition of fresh corn, tomatoes, and cilantro satisfies the part of us still clutching to bare feet and shoulders. Trust me, this stuff is gold. If you don’t take my word, trust the throng of first graders who cleared our rondeau completely clean last week — on a 90-degree day, no less.

Butternut Squash and Bean Chili
Serves 4

1 large onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon chipotle pepper in Adobo sauce, minced
1 small butternut squash, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped, with juice, or 4 cups fresh tomatoes, diced
1-2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup fresh corn kernels
2 (15-ounce) cans kidney or black beans, rinsed
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1. In a 4-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat, sauté onions, bell pepper, garlic, butternut squash and chipotle in adobo in oil until softened, about 5-7 minutes.

2, Add chili powder, cumin, and salt and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

3. Add tomatoes with juice and vegetable broth and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes.

4. Stir in beans and corn and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Add more broth if necessary.

5. Stir in cilantro. Serve on its own or over brown rice or with fresh corn bread.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 10/02/17 at 04:09 PM • Permalink