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Recipe: Cauliflower Soup With Buckwheat Drizzle

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 am addicted to vichyssoise and all its incarnations. I make the classic French version with potatoes and leeks but have expanded the recipe to include celery root, parsnips and onions. No matter what combination of ingredients I choose, the end result is a multi-dimensional soup whose flavor is certainly greater than the sum of its parts and the ease of its preparation. I make it all year long and serve it either warm or room temperature — a versatility that few soups can match. All these factors made vichyssoise my favorite go-to soup, until I made this recipe recently for a client and fell in love with its depth of flavor, texture and healthier ingredients. This cauliflower cashew soup with buckwheat drizzle is a surprisingly divine soup, as sophisticated, hearty and elegant as its French counterpart, while offering a more contemporary spin – this recipe has no cream and no butter. But, if you like, you can add a quarter cup of cream at the very end to heighten the already velvety texture and appearance.

I served it as a starter for a fancy multi-course dinner and then at home to help us defrost from these recent frigid temps. Since it’s all we were having for dinner, I added chive and parmesan biscuits and the pairing was a match made in heaven. In fact, as a little snack, split a biscuit and smother it with the soup a la biscuits and gravy and you’re in business. Plus, it’s super easy to make and even the most amateur cook can make this lickety split.

Cauliflower-Cashew Soup With Crispy Buckwheat Drizzle
Serves 8

Note: Simmering vegetables in a covered pot over low heat so that they steam in their own liquid — a French technique called à l’étouffée — is the ticket to achieving a soup with pronounced depth.

½ cup olive oil, divided
4 large shallots, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
2 teaspoons Kosher salt, separated
½ cup Sherry
1 large head of cauliflower, cored, cut into small florets, stem chopped, divided
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¾ cup plus 2 tbsp. raw cashews
6 cups (or more) chicken stock
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons buckwheat groats
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon paprika

1. Warm ¼ cup oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic and Herbes de Provence; season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are translucent, 6–8 minutes.

2. Add Sherry, bring to a boil, and cook until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Set ¾ cup cauliflower aside; add the rest to pot along with cayenne and ¾ cup cashews; season with salt.

3. Cover pot, reduce heat to low, and cook, shaking pot occasionally, until cauliflower is fork-tender and vegetables have released all their water, 15 minutes (check occasionally to make sure vegetables are not browning; reduce heat if they are).

4. Add stock and season with salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, until cauliflower is falling apart, 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

5. Meanwhile, finely chop reserved ¾ cup cauliflower and remaining 2 tbsp. cashews. Heat remaining ¼ cup oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add cauliflower, cashews and buckwheat; season with salt. Cook, stirring often, until cauliflower and cashews are golden brown and buckwheat is browned and crisp, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and paprika. Let cool slightly.

6. Working in batches if needed, purée soup in a blender until very smooth. Return to pot and rewarm over medium-low heat, stirring and adding more stock to thin if needed (soup should be the consistency of heavy cream). Taste and season soup again if needed.

7. Serve topped with toasted cauliflower-buckwheat mixture.

Do ahead: Soup can be made 2 days ahead (or 1 month if frozen). Let cool; transfer to airtight containers and chill.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 01/16/17 at 01:35 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Roasted Winter Vegetable Burrito

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. Jenn So, director of programs at The Sylvia Center, offers us recipes the teenagers are learning to make.

This simple yet filling roasted winter vegetable burrito recipe is bursting with flavor and packed with protein. It’s a quick and crowd-pleasing dish and takes less than 30 minutes from start to finish to make. It’s perfect for those nights you’re craving something hearty, tasty and quick and have an assortment of winter vegetables you’re looking to use. You can toss in any type of winter squash or hearty green instead of the butternut squash or kale.

Roasted Winter Vegetable Burrito
Serves 4

1 yellow onion, halved and thickly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and thickly sliced
1 bunch of kale, chopped coarsely
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon cayenne
1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
4 large tortillas
Fresh salsa, to serve (optional)
Sour cream, to serve (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 425° F.
2. Combine the onion, bell pepper, kale and squash in a large mixing bowl. Add olive oil, cumin, cayenne and salt. Toss to coat. Spread evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
3. Roast vegetables until squash is golden brown and kale is crispy but not burnt, about 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Remove vegetables from the oven and transfer to the large mixing bowl. Add black beans and season to taste with salt.
5. Add vegetable filling to each tortilla and top with grated cheese and cilantro. Add salsa and sour cream if using. Wrap and serve.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 01/09/17 at 11:28 AM • Permalink

Recipe: Tre Colori Lasagna

We are happy to introduce you to a new recipe 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. We welcome her former food blog “The Duchess of Litchfield County” to its new home at Rural Intelligence.

The word “lasagna” is a classic example of onomatopoeia. There is a richness, fullness and promise of something deeply satisfying when it rolls off your tongue. Lasagna sounds as good as it tastes — if you make it properly. American lasagna has suffered the fate of many ethnic favorites and morphed into a mushy, tasteless mass with emphasis on abbondanza instead of quality ingredients and exquisite flavor. I’ll help you right the wrong with my sophisticated tre colori recipe.

This lasagna is layered with satiny butternut squash puree, bay leaf-scented béchamel, basil and pine nut pesto, and mozzarella. I’ve reworked this recipe numerous times to discover that perfection is found in using oven-ready lasagna noodles and fresh mozzarella. Fresh pasta essentially disintegrates. Boiled noodles are too thick and dominate instead of complement the sauces and cheese. It’s the much easier, boil-free noodles that execute a winning job of absorbing the flavors of the various ingredients for a well-balanced casserole. Remove this from the oven, allow it to sit for ten to fifteen minutes while you pour yourself a glass of Gavi, and then slide a generous portion onto a warmed plate. You’ll be transported by the combination of colors and tastes that are nothing like what a meat and ricotta lasagna delivers. Follow this indulgence with a simple salad and you’ll feel ready to claim the year ahead.   

Tre Colori Lasagna
1 (1-1/2 to 2-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups chicken broth
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
3 cups whole milk
Solid dash of nutmeg
2 bay leaves
2 cups pesto (homemade or your favorite store bought)
12 no-boil lasagna noodles
2-1/2 cups grated fresh whole-milk mozzarella
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/3 cup pine nuts toasted
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese

For the butternut puree
Heat chicken broth and add the squash. Simmer over medium heat until the squash is tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly and transfer the squash with a slotted spoon to a food processor. Add enough broth to give it a smooth and satiny consistency. You may reserve the remaining broth and use later.

For the béchamel
Melt the butter in a heavy medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for two minutes until completely incorporated and slightly browned. Gradually whisk in the milk. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, whisking the entire time. Don’t worry if you see lumps — they’ll blend into the sauce eventually. Sauce should start to thicken after a few minutes. Add the nutmeg, bay leaves, freshly cracked pepper and a pinch or two of salt. Cook for a few more minutes and then remove from heat. Allow the sauce to cool and leave in the bay leaves until you’re ready to assemble, as they’ll continue to flavor the sauce. 

For the pesto
Toast the pine nuts in skillet over medium heat. Place basil, garlic and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until blended. Stream olive oil in with the processor running until you have a chunky puree. Do not over process. Add salt, pepper and cheese, pulse a few times, then remove from the processor. 

Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Now grab your favorite 9 x 12 lasagna casserole.

Spread an even layer of pureed squash over the bottom of the pan. Add a layer of 4 noodles. Repeat squash. Follow with dollops of pesto, then dollops of béchamel, and sprinkle the grated mozzarella. Repeat layering. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella and finish with parmesan. Tightly cover the baking dish with foil and bake the lasagna for 30 minutes. Continue baking uncovered until the top is golden, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and let the lasagna stand for 15 minutes before serving.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 01/02/17 at 03:33 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Crispy Potato Galette

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. Jenn So, director of programs at The Sylvia Center, offers us recipes the teenagers are learning to make.

This beautiful potato galette is a delicious and light dish perfect for impressing dinner guests this holiday season. It’s a lighter alternative to scalloped potatoes and the crispy quality of the galette — reminiscent of potato chips — is nothing short of indulgent. Our teens had a fabulous time arranging the potato slices and brushing the layers with oil!



Crispy Potato Galette
(Adapted from The New York Times)
Serves 8

4 pounds baking potatoes, scrubbed clean and dried
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary or sage, finely chopped
½ cup grated sharp cheddar, parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F and grease the bottom of a 9-inch skillet with olive oil.

2. Combine garlic and olive oil in a small bowl and set aside.

3. In a food processor fitted with a 1-millimeter slicing blade or with a mandoline, thinly slice the potatoes. Cover the skillet bottom with a layer of potato slices, overlapping them. Brush the potatoes with some oil, sprinkle them with some of the herbs, and season them with salt and pepper. Repeat with the remaining potatoes, oil and rosemary. Top the potatoes evenly with cheese.

4. On the stove, heat the galette over medium-high heat until it begins to sizzle. Transfer the skillet to the middle of the oven, and bake the galette for 25 minutes, or until golden and the potatoes are tender. Cut into wedges and serve warm.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 12/12/16 at 03:12 PM • Permalink

The Dutchess of Litchfield County’s Beef Tenderloin

We are happy to introduce you to a new recipe 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. We welcome her former food blog “The Duchess of Litchfield County” to its new home at Rural Intelligence.

Turkey is so been there, done that.

This holiday, forget about the bird and celebrate with the king of cuts: beef tenderloin. It’s so easy to prepare and yet it is decadent, rich and entirely worthy of taking center stage at your holiday table. I have been making this recipe for decades. It is fail safe, requires so few ingredients and accompanied by even easier to prepare Yorkshire pudding and cabernet-sautéed mushrooms, this version of beef tenderloin is superb. 

Beef Tenderloin
Serves 10

1 5-lb. beef tenderloin, trimmed and tied
2 sticks salted butter
2 tbsp. coarsely ground pepper
1 tsp. kosher salt

You’ll need a roasting dish that transfers from stovetop to oven.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat tenderloin in in salt and pepper. Pat spices firmly into roast.
2. Melt butter in roasting pan until sizzling. Add roast and sear until crispy and golden on all sides.
3. Place in oven and cook for 25 to 30 minutes or until temperature reaches 130 degrees for medium-rare.
4. Remove from oven and allow roast to sit for 10 minutes before carving into 2-inch slabs. 
5. Serve smothered with cabernet mushroom sauce and accompanied by Yorkshire pudding made with pan drippings.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 12/05/16 at 09:28 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Cider Vinegar Chicken With Root Vegetables

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. Jenn So, director of programs at The Sylvia Center, offers us recipes the teenagers are learning to make.

This warm and earthy Cider Braised Chicken with Root Vegetables is an amazing weeknight dinner. It’s easy to make, hearty and has just the right amount of acidity to brighten up a cold winter’s evening. The rich and tangy sauce contrasts beautifully with the substantive winter root vegetables. Our teen students — many of whom claimed to dislike turnips and parsnips — gobbled this dish up!


Apple Cider Vinegar Braised Chicken with Root Vegetables
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 whole chicken thighs, dried with paper towels
1 carrot, sliced
1 parsnip, sliced
1 turnip, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 leek, sliced
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon butter
Salt
Pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350° F.

2. Heat the olive oil in a heavy, oven-safe pot over medium-high heat. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper, and add them to the pot, skin-side down. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the skin turns a rich, golden color and begins to crisp. Remove chicken from the pot and set aside. Pour out all but 1 tablespoon of the oil/fat that has cooked off.

3. Add the carrots, parsnips, turnips, garlic and leek to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until they begin to soften. Stir in the flour and cook for one minute. Deglaze the pot with vinegar, scraping up any browned chicken that is stuck to the bottom. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the chicken back to the pot, skin-side up.

4. Cover the pot and transfer it to the oven. Allow the chicken to braise for 50 minutes.

5. Heat the broiler. Remove the chicken from the pot and place on a broiler pan or heavy baking sheet. Broil for 5 to 6 minutes, until the skin crisps back up. Meanwhile, place the pot of vegetables back on the stove and allow it to reduce over medium heat. Stir in the butter.

6. To serve, spoon the sauce over the chicken thighs and brown rice.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 11/28/16 at 10:15 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Thanksgiving Detox Smoothie

We know it’s a bit hard to think about recipes on — or soon after — Thanksgiving. But we think you’ll appreciate this one, because it’s a bracing smoothie that’ll literally make you feel better about whatever (or however much) you’ve eaten.

The recipe starts with cranberries, which are antioxidant powerhouses, then adds in apples and bananas for sweetness, a tiny bit of stomach-soothing ginger root and a handful of spinach. The ingredients are probably already in your fridge, and the result is much healthier (and tastier, and prettier) than Tums.


Thanksgiving Detox Smoothie

1/2 cup cranberries
1 apple, peeled and diced
1/2 a banana
1 tbsp diced ginger root
1 handful spinach
1/2 cup water
1 cup ice

Add all ingredients to a blender, blend until smooth, and enjoy!


Recipe and photo courtesy of Free People, by Julie Keim.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 11/20/16 at 08:19 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Baked Pears With Honey Whipped Cream

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. Jenn So, director of programs at The Sylvia Center, offers us recipes the teenagers are learning to make.

This elegant and simple Baked Pear with Honey Whipped Cream recipe is an amazing last minute addition to any meal or dinner party. The pears become soft and caramelized when baked, and the natural sweetness from the fruit and honey are a perfect combination. You can substitute olive oil instead of butter, or yogurt instead of whipped cream for a healthy (yet equally as delicious) version. We made these with our teen students last week and even those who had declared that they hated pears were eager for seconds!

Baked Pears with Honey Whipped Cream
Serves 12 (1/2 pear per person)

6 Bosc pears, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cored
4 tablespoons of salted butter, melted
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
12 fresh mint leaves, minced finely
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup of honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Brush the pears with butter and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon. Place pears cut-side down on the baking sheet.

3. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the pears are caramelized and tender. Transfer the pears onto a platter, cut-side up, and allow them to cool until warm.

4. Meanwhile, whip heavy cream until stiff peaks. Gently fold in vanilla extract and honey.

5. Fill each pear with a spoonful of the whipped cream and sprinkle with mint.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 11/14/16 at 04:38 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Stuffed Peppers With Bulgur And Spinach

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. Jenn So, director of programs at The Sylvia Center, offers us recipes the teenagers are learning to make.

These Middle Eastern-inspired stuffed peppers are great as a family-style appetizer or vegetarian main dish. The natural sweetness of the peppers come through when baked and complements the savory and fresh flavors of the bulgur mixture inside. Drizzle with a bit of balsamic vinegar for a bright contrast.




Stuffed Peppers with Bulgur and Spinach
Serves 4

4 bell peppers (red, green or other type of mild pepper)
1 onion, finely chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cups water
1 cup bulgur
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup dried currants
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 bunch of spinach
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 4 ounces), divided
Balsamic vinegar for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

2. Carefully remove two cups of boiling water and transfer to a bowl with the bulgur, the currants, two tablespoons of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Cover and let soak for 30 minutes.

3. Cut the tops off of the peppers, and remove seeds and pith. Finely chop pepper tops and onion.

4. Heat 2 tablespoon of olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped pepper and onion; sauté until tender, about 3 minutes. Add cumin; stir for 20 seconds. Mix in spinach; stir until beginning to wilt, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

5. Combine vegetables and bulgur mixture with mint and dill. Stir in currants and half of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

6. Fill peppers with bulgur mixture and place on a baking sheet. Bake until heated through, about 30-45 minutes depending on the type and size of peppers. Serve warm.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 11/07/16 at 01:11 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Perhaps the only thing better than a day at the spa is the greeting by the spa manager holding a plate of fresh-from-the-oven cookies. I was the customer, and Brandi Scalise, the manager and author of “Cookie Classics Made Easy.” An enthusiastic home baker with a passion for cookies, Brandi came up with 41 no-fuss recipes, all made using just one bowl. Here’s one that’ll go with your pumpkin spice latte. —Lisa Green

Pumpkin Spice Cookies
Makes about 5 dozen cookies

½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
½ cup canned pumpkin purée
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon molasses
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C. If using regular (nonstick) cookie sheets, line with parchment paper.

2. Combine the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, pumpkin puree, egg, vanilla, molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Mix well, preferably with an electric mixer, occasionally scraping the sides of the bowl. Add the flour and mix until well blended.

3. Using a 1-inch cookie scoop or a rounded teaspoon, scoop out the dough and place about 1 inch apart on the cookie sheets.

4. Bake for about 18 minutes, or until the edges are darker in color. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

Excerpted from Cookie Classics Made Easy © by Brandi Scalise, photography by Katie Craig, used with permission from Storey Publishing.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 11/01/16 at 04:19 PM • Permalink