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Recipe: Rustic Summer Ratatouille

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.

My initial introduction to the percussive sounding French vegetable dish ratatouille was the Disney movie. Remy, the French rat chef extraordinaire with his kaleidoscope of spiraled colorful summer vegetables, impressed the most haughty Parisian restaurant clientele. I fell in love with the real ratatouille in France, and my affair with the dish far exceeded any of my previous conceptions of romance abroad. It was infinitely more satisfying. Ratatouille has long been entrenched in Provençal summer cuisine and it’s the French equivalent of corn on the cob – iconic, rustic gastronomy.

Simply, ratatouille is a stew of eggplant, zucchini, peppers and tomatoes. Using herbs, the vegetables are renewed and redefined. They cease to exist independently and transform into one melded ragout that nonchalantly calls to your tastebuds, “c’est moi, I am summer.” Chefs around the world have developed ratatouille to meld to the desires of the palate of their region. In fact, unlike most French cuisine, ratatouille does not have a set recipe or precise technique. Ratouiller means to stir up, but some iterations, like the iconic aforementioned Disney kaleidoscope, don’t even necessitate that.

The Sylvia Center’s version is cooked in a big rondeau accompanied by a pot of rice. It is rich with thyme, oregano and basil while featuring all the ingredients we find ourselves swimming with this time of year: eggplant, peppers, tomatoes. Serve over rice or with a crunchy piece of baguette!

Rustic Summer Ratatouille
Serves 4

1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
1 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 ripe tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shredded fresh basil leaves

1. In a colander, salt the eggplant and place over a bowl or in the sink. This will help the eggplant release some water. Let sit for about 10 minutes.

2. Heat a large sauce pan over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add olive oil. When it shimmers, add the onion and saute until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and continue to saute until fragrant, another 2 minutes.

3. Add eggplant and saute until the eggplant begins to soften, about 8 minutes. Add peppers and zucchini and continue cooking until the vegetables are bright and soft, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, thyme, oregano and salt and let the vegetable mixture simmer until sauce thickens, about 8 minutes.

4. Serve immediately over rice. This dish is also great the next day.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 09/18/17 at 03:22 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Deconstructed Rib-in Pork Roast

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.

Last Saturday night I was supposed to make Jose Andres’ “Pork Roast with Fruit, Nut and Sausage Stuffing” — “supposed” being the operative word. Once I arrived at my client’s there was a change of plans. Apparently no one likes fruit paired with meats, a cooking methodology I worship. The rib-in pork roast, which should have been Frenched, exposing the ribs with a single chop per person, was laden with a fat back I had to cut away but there wasn’t the time nor the interest in Frenching the bone since there was only one roast for 9 people and 4 ribs in total. Now I was seriously vexed. I had a bone-in roast which was not going to be carved along the rib for single portions so stuffing it according to the recipe was also out of the question. What to do? 

I cut away some of the fat back and realized I could carve thin slices from this side before I hit the bone beneath. This was not going to give me the presentation I desired, but at least part of the problem was solved. Now for the recipe. The list of ingredients had winnowed down to pork roast and sausage. So I thought: a classic mirepoix in the bottom of the pan with the addition of garlic. Marsala, always a good idea with pork. And beef stock. Plus a handful of fresh rosemary, marjoram and chervil. (If you can’t find chervil, use Italian parsley and if there’s no fresh marjoram in the market, substitute thyme). I sautéed the carrots, onions, celery and garlic quickly, then added the sausage and partially cooked it. All of this went in a shallow roaster. I created a space in the center for the bed of herbs, then placed the roast on top of the herbs, fat side up. I massaged the roast with olive oil and created a fine crust of salt and pepper. Then I added broth and Marsala and placed it in a very hot oven on convection roast. An hour later the roast came out and I was able to carve away some servings for the juicy meat addicts and then put the remaining roast back in the oven for five minutes to finish off the cooking process. 

When it was time to serve, I did absolutely nothing to the “gravy.” It was superb. I simply removed the herbs and heated it up when it was time to plate. This is now one of my favorite ways to serve pork. My amendment to the recipe is: skip the bone-in roast and get a boneless pork roast, but see if you can get a good slab of fat on top because I am convinced that added an enormous amount of flavor to the final dish. And the next time the recipe you’re planning to follow doesn’t pan out for some reason, be creative, trust your instincts and remember, if it tastes good, no one will care anyway. 

Roast Pork with Sausage, Mirepoix and Marsala Gravy
Serves 8-10

1 5-lb. boneless pork roast with an inch of fat
4 cloves garlic minced
2 carrots peeled and diced
2 stalks celery thinly sliced
1 medium onion diced
8 oz. Italian sausage removed from the casing
4 tbs. olive oil
3 cups beef stock
1 cup Marsala
1/3 cup roasted pine nuts
4 stalks fresh rosemary
Handful of fresh chervil/thyme/marjoram/Italian parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees convection bake. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a sauté pan. Over medium heat, sauté onions, celery, carrots and garlic for 4 minutes until wilted and translucent. Add raw sausage removed from the casing. Sauté for 4 additional minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. In a shallow roasting pan add the sautéed vegetables and sausage.Clear a center space for the fresh herb bed. Place the roast on top. Rub with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Salt and pepper liberally. Pour 2 cups broth and all of the Marsala around the pan. Place in the hot oven. Thirty minutes into cooking time, turn the pan and add the remaining cup of broth and some water if needed. After an hour insert a thermometer and look for an internal temperature of 140 degrees. 

Let roast 10 minutes before carving. Meanwhile, remove herbs from pan and reheat and reduce slightly on stovetop. Slice in ½-inch medallions. Serve on a bed of whipped potatoes. Ladle gravy over all.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 09/11/17 at 08:15 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Israeli Salad

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.

We’re cruising into autumn, folks. Maybe you don’t want to admit it, and you grit your teeth jumping into lakes whispering to yourself, “yes, this is warm, I love this!” But even I know that the first turning maple leaves are not anomalies. They are, in fact, indicators of blazing reds and burnt oranges filling up our eyes as we blow warm air onto our stiff, cold fingers. On the farm, this is truly one of the most bountiful times of the year. The wash room is piled high with peppers, tomatoes, and watermelon that foreshadow the autumn colors as well. So what do we do with this bounty?

This Israeli salad is a perfect meeting point between seasons. It showcases our summer heat-loving crops like tomatoes, bell peppers, and cucumbers, and makes use of some fast-growing fall crops, like that crunchy radish thriving again in cooler soil. These cool summer flavors meet the warmth of toasted cumin seeds, an intimation of cooler autumn meals to come. Israeli salad pairs well with most savory warm summer dishes, particularly those teaming with Middle Eastern flavors, like shakshuka or a chickpea stew.

Israeli Salad
Serves 4-6

1 red onion, diced
2 large cucumbers, peeled, deseeded and diced
3 large tomatoes or equivalent amount of cherry tomatoes, deseeded and diced
2 bell peppers, deseeded and diced
1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced
½ cup flat-leafed parsley, roughly chopped
2 lemons, juiced and zested
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted
Salt and pepper

In a large bowl, combine all of the diced vegetables. Add the remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 09/05/17 at 12:41 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Chocolate Crowned Double Orange Spice Cake

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 don’t get that excited about cake. I love the concept and I love the look of cake but I often find (and this goes for cupcakes, too), that cakes are dry, flavor challenged and mostly a vehicle for a delicious butter cream cheese frosting…when you’re lucky enough to get real butter cream cheese frosting. My bias was forever changed when I came up with this cake recipe last weekend and departed from my go-to butter cream cheese frosting when I realized my client didn’t have powdered sugar on hand. So I did what any good chef does: recalibrated and created a frosting with what ingredients I did have. The result was the most delicious cake I have ever made. It is so flavorful and moist, and the frosting could be mistaken for fudge — in a word, divine! This recipe could also double for cupcakes and should be baked in the mini panettone molds — they are certainly deserving of the prettier presentation. If chocolate frosting isn’t your thing, a vanilla butter cream cheese frosting would be fabulous, too.

Chocolate Crowned Double Orange Spice Cake
Serves 10

Butter and flour a 10-inch wide, 3-inch deep cake pan. 
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2 ¼ cups cake flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
¾ tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. orange extract
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
4 large eggs
1 tsp. grated orange peel
1 cup salted butter (room temperature)
2 cups sugar
½ cup buttermilk

Sift dry ingredients into a bowl set aside. Cream butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until fully incorporated. Add zest and orange extract. Mix. Beat in dry ingredients in three additions alternating with buttermilk, scraping down sides. 

Turn batter into prepared cake pan and bake until center is firm or an inserted toothpick comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes depending on how hot your oven cooks. Cool cake in pan and invert onto serving plate. Cool completely before frosting. 

Frosting:  Yields 2 Cups

1 cup sugar
6 Tbls. butter
½ cup whole milk
2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Place all ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil and whisk constantly for one minute. Remove from heat and beat with an electric mixer for three minutes. Frost cake, working quickly as frosting will be thick and creamy but harden as it cools. 

Will set in a few minutes. Decorate with flowers or sprinkles. Enjoy! 

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Posted by Lisa Green on 08/29/17 at 11:50 AM • Permalink

Recipe: Summer Shakshuka

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.

As the post-summer bounty begins to fill up the prime real estate that is your vegetable crisper, we offer a summer dinner super champion here to save the day, a dish by the tantalizing name of shakshuka. You may have heard of this Tunisian dish before; it graces brunch menus with its tempting runny eggs poached in a spiced tomato sauce. But you can make it yourself. This dish tastes even better when it comes out of your own kitchen.

When you realize the amount of flavor you can achieve within 30 minutes of cook time, you’ll wonder where shakshuka has you been all your life. Perhaps it’s the harissa that really elevates the flavors of shakshuka; the spicy and aromatic chile paste used in North African and Middle Eastern cooking can be found in the ethnic cooking section of most grocery stores. Or maybe it’s the way that the feta crumbles so exquisitely on top. Or maybe it is every thing in this dish paired so perfectly together that makes you crave the way that shakshuka warms you up. Especially when you use fresh garden tomatoes, it is perfect.

Summer Shakshuka
Serves 4-6

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons harissa
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 onion, diced
3 large bell peppers, diced
1 large eggplant, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs. ripe tomatoes, diced
8-12 eggs
8 oz. feta cheese
Salt and pepper

1. In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add harissa, tomato paste, peppers, eggplant, onions, garlic and 1 teaspoon of salt. Sauté until peppers and eggplant are soft, about 8-10 minutes.

2. Add tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Cook mixture until you have a thickened sauce, about 10 minutes.

3. Make 8-12 depressions in mixture with the back of a ladle. Crack an egg into each depression. Simmer shakshuka for 8-10 minutes or until the egg whites are set but yolks still runny. Cover pan with lid to increase cooking temperature if needed.

4. Remove from heat and sprinkle feta on top. Serve immediately.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 08/22/17 at 12:17 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Lisa Fielding’s Guacamole And Homemade Corn Chips

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 makes me sad to even write this but Labor Day is just a few weeks away and that typically signals the end of summer for those who live on the East Coast. But it also heralds a long weekend of eating, drinking and taking it easy before the grind of regular programming takes over. You may be busy coordinating a few festivities that include menu planning and the like. In order to ease your search for new spins on perennial favorites, I thought this the perfect time to share my recipe for one of the easiest and easily most satisfying of dips: the beloved guacamole.

My guacamole is pretty straightforward and lives up to its Mexican heritage. No tomatoes! Please. That’s for salsa. And the heat can be derived from finely minced jalapenos or red pepper flakes. Either is wonderful, the latter is simpler. Fresh lime juice is essential. And quality avocados a must. Tip: Avocados are rarely ripe at the market so if they are rock hard, place them in a paper bag, close and stash in a cool dark place. Two days later, your avocados will be perfect without over ripening with black spots and stringy fibers (which makes this chef toss the entire fruit in the trash). 

Once you’ve assembled, allow the guacamole flavors (in a covered bowl) to mature a few hours in the refrigerator before serving. Another tip: place a pit or two in the dip and this will prevent the contents from turning brown due to oxygenation before serving. While the flavors meld, this is the perfect time to take the extra step and make your own chips. Collective groan?  Believe me — this is the easiest thing to do and makes the experience of eating guacamole exponentially better. 

Guacamole
Yield: 6 servings

3 ripe Haas avocados
3 large cloves garlic finely minced
¼ small red onion finely minced
Juice of one large lime
1 tsp. coriander (or 1 tablespoon freshly minced cilantro)
½ tsp. red pepper flakes (or 1 jalapeno seeded and finely minced)
1 ½ tsps. Kosher salt

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Roughly smash until preferred consistency is achieved. Place a pit in the center, cover in plastic wrap, chill for two hours. Serve with homemade chips. Ole!

Homemade Corn Chips
One bag of white corn tortillas cut into quarters.
1 cup vegetable oil
Salt

Heat oil in a heavy skillet until it reaches 375 degrees. When you drop a single chip in it should fry quickly. When oil is hot enough, drop several chips at a time in the skillet. Let fry until golden (one minute) and turn until the other side is done. Remove to a paper towel lined platter, salt liberally and repeat. Chips can be reheated in a 375 degree oven for five minutes.

 

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Posted by Lisa Green on 08/14/17 at 04:46 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Chinese Cucumber Salad

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.

I’ve harvested many, many pounds of cucumbers over the past couple of weeks. The rain this season has resulted in massive plants with loads of happy, crunchy cukes sprawled out below. So what does one do when they have 60 campers coming for lunch and bins of cucumbers in the cooler? Make a salad! Cukes are, of course, the darlings of pickling, but they can soak up enough flavor in half an hour to give a zing of taste to the best last-minute summer dinner decision you’ll ever make. 

Upon making this dish you may hear murmurings of “Cucumber salad? You mean cucumbers in the salad…” Don’t be dissuaded. The sweet crunchy cucumbers pair perfectly with the mouthwatering dressing, especially when marinated for at least 30 minutes. They’re a perfect accompaniment to any meal, particularly outside under a fading summer sun.

Chinese Cucumber Salad
Serves 4 - 6

3 cucumbers, peeled and de-seeded
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoons dark sesame oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper


1. Cut cucumbers into thin half moons. Sprinkle generously with salt and let cucumbers sit in a colander, over the sink, for 10-15 minutes.

2. Combine garlic, ginger, sugar, vinegar, sesame oil and soy sauce in a large bowl. Add cucumbers and toss until well combined. Fold in cilantro, scallions, and salt and pepper to taste.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 08/07/17 at 03:47 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Perfect Rack Of Lamb

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 have a client whose only mandate for every meal in which a beef, chicken or lamb is prepared is that the end result is juicy and tender. Seems like an easy request but when you’re cooking multiple courses for many people with different demands there are times when it is extremely challenging to hit the bullseye. This past weekend I hit the bullseye and was so thrilled with this rack of lamb from the preparation to the presentation that I decided it was worthy of sharing with Rural Intelligence’s readers. 

Rack of lamb may seem like a special occasion meal, but it shouldn’t be. It’s so easy to prepare and readily available at most markets. When buying a rack, it is important to note quality, quality, quality.  Look for a large rack that will yield a sizable medallion on the plate. Make sure it’s Frenched, which means that the meat, cartilage and fat between the tips of the rib bones has been cleaned down to the chop. This yields a gorgeous rack and makes it easier to carve. When you get the rack home, you also want to trim the layer of “fat back” down to a thin membrane to ensure proper cooking. Now that you’ve got the basics down without further ado, here is the perfect rack of lamb recipe.

Rack Of Lamb
Serves 8

2 (8-rib) Frenched racks of lamb (each rack 1 ½ lbs.), trimmed of all but a thin layer of fat
1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
4 tbls. finely chopped fresh mint
3 large garlic cloves minced
2 tsp. salt plus extra for searing lamb
1 tsp. fresh cracked pepper plus extra for searing lamb
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil plus extra for searing lamb

Liberally salt and pepper racks of lamb set aside. Mix all remaining ingredients set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Douse a large heavy skillet such as cast iron with olive oil to coat bottom evenly (a tablespoon should do). When skillet is hot, place racks fat side down in pan. Do them one at a time if your skillet isn’t large enough to hold both. Sear for three to five minutes until a golden crust forms. Turn rack and sear other side for 2 minutes. Hold racks by the bones and sears the tops of the racks for another minute. 

Place in a shallow roasting dish fat side up. Pat bread crumb mixture into an even layer. Place in hot oven and cook for 20 minutes for rare and 25 minutes for medium rare. If bread crumb mixture starts to brown too much place a sheet of foil over racks. 

Remove from oven and allow racks to rest for at least 5 minutes and up to 10 before carving chops between the bones. Plate with bones crisscrossed. I served mine on a bed of mushroom risotto but my favorite is with creamy gruyere potato gratin. 

Enjoy! 

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Posted by Lisa Green on 07/31/17 at 10:25 AM • Permalink

Recipe: Raspberry Zucchini Muffins

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.

I admit, sometimes I am a neglectful zucchini mother. Weekends and rainy days happen, sure. I find that as the rest of the summer bounty begins to mature, the initial charm of the summer squash begins to fade away. Despite my apathy, the zucchini persists. In fact, it becomes emboldened and before you know it, boom, small zucchini limbs are right there in your garden.

This means, of course, zucchini bread. A one-bowl recipe that’ll fit into breakfast, lunch, and post-dinner treats. Zucchini bread is derived from the same ingenious forces that were behind carrot cake, I imagine. It has vegetables in it, ergo, it is healthy. Okay, sure, not always. But there are a few tricks you can keep up your sleeve to cut back on the excess sugar, especially with the berry harvest we’ve been having this summer. Raspberries add color, sweetness, and general happiness to most recipes and these muffins are no exception. At the Sylvia Center, we typically opt for muffins in lieu of whole loaves. They’re much more shareable, plus the crunch-to-soft ratio is the same for everybody. Very important!

Raspberry Zucchini Muffins
Makes 24

3 large eggs
1 cup olive oil
3/4 cups granulated or turbinado sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated, packed zucchini
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 ½ cup raspberries
Oats (for topping)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease 24 standard muffin cups or line them with paper liners.

2.  Whisk together eggs, olive oil, sugar and vanilla in the bottom of a large bowl. Sprinkle cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt over wet ingredients and whisk them in well. Stir in zucchini. Add flour slowly, stirring gently only until it disappears into the mix. Fold in raspberries gently.

3. Divide between muffin tins, top with oats if desired. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes. A knife should come out clean when inserted except for bright raspberry juices. Store in foil at room temperature.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 07/24/17 at 04:27 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Hillstone-Inspired Kale Salad

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 just returned from a week-long trip to Los Angeles for a series of meetings on my other job — that of a Hollywood screenwriter. It’s been a very good summer for my career: I sold a semi-autobiographical series based on my life as a Manhattan-based private chef entitled, “Totally Together and Completely Insecure” while setting up two of my best pieces of feature writing, a drama entitled “A Family History” and an adaptation of a British comedy entitled “Welcome to the Working Week.” All of this didn’t happen overnight. I’ve been assiduously devoted to writing since I walked away from my desk job and had to come up with a survival plan while I pursued this dream. Plan B, as I referred to it then, was reinventing myself as a private chef and all these years later I am so grateful for the culinary adventures that followed. 

Meetings in LA usually include lots of wining and dining and this trip was no different. In addition to drinking copious glasses of rosé, I also fell in love with a kale salad from Hillstone, so much so in fact that I went to the restaurant twice and managed to cajole the recipe from my server. That’s a bit of an overstatement; I didn’t get the actual recipe as much as a list of ingredients, which I duplicated and made my own version for clients last weekend. It was sensational and so I happily share this extra yummy kale salad as inspired by Hillstone Restaurant at 2nd and Wilshire. There’s a hint of heat, loads of flavor and the chewy texture of kale meets the crunch of cashews. Enjoy.

Kale Salad
Serves 8

8 cups fresh kale torn from the tough stems and chopped into dime-sized pieces, chilled. (Salad is much more flavorful served very cold.)
1 cup raw cashews roasted and salted
½ small red onion
1 bunch fresh mint
1 jalapeno, seeded and roughly cut
1 cup crumbled feta
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt

Dressing:
3 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
¾  cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly cracked pepper

Emulsify ingredients, set aside. 

In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Place cashews in pan, add salt and toss until evenly browned. In a food processor, pulse onion, mint and jalapeno until finely minced and well combined. In a salad bowl, toss kale with this mixture. Add dressing and gently massage kale. Add cashews and feta. Salt and pepper to taste. Form a nice mound to plate and serve.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 07/18/17 at 10:40 AM • Permalink