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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

Recipe: Pineapple Upside Down 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.

When was the last time you made a pineapple upside down cake? Some of you may answer, “never” while many will agree it’s too far back to remember. I confess that the last time I made a pineapple down cake was in my childhood and I am quite sure it relied on cake mix, canned pineapple and maraschino cherries for “color,” as my mom would often suggest.

The idea came to me recently as I carved a fresh pineapple and exalted in the ridiculously delicious fruit. I make apple tart tatin on a regular basis so I thought, why does its American cousin get such a bad rap as an outdated dessert banished from the dessert menu? They are essentially the same concept: caramelized fruit encrusted with pastry, baked in a cast iron skillet (essential) and dramatically flipped, revealing a beautiful geometric cluster of fruit on top and pastry beneath. Plated with a dollop of whipped cream, few desserts are so deeply satisfying. So I set out to make an updated version of pineapple upside down cake with fresh fruit and a flavorful cake. 

The result was perfect and I was so pleased with the recipe that it’s been added to my favorite dessert recipes. The key to the recipe was the addition of freshly ground cardamom. It gave the cake an exotic flavor I had never experienced before. In fact, even without the pineapple component, this cake is so heavenly, it stands alone as wonderful companion to an afternoon tea or Sunday brunch. So find your mortar and pestle and go the extra step of grinding your own cardamom seeds (just don’t forget to separate the shells from the spice). And don’t forget to whip some fresh cream to go on top. No insult to Betty Crocker, but her cake never tasted or looked this good.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Serves 8-10

For topping:
1/2 medium pineapple, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cored
3/4 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

For batter:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons freshly ground cardamom
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon dark rum
1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice

Special equipment:
A well-seasoned 10-inch cast-iron skillet

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Make topping: Cut pineapple crosswise into 3/8-inch-thick pieces. Melt butter in skillet. Add brown sugar and simmer over moderate heat, stirring, 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Arrange pineapple on top of sugar mixture in concentric circles, overlapping pieces slightly.

Make batter: Sift together flour, cardamom, baking powder, and salt. Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in granulated sugar. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and rum. Add half of flour mixture and beat on low speed just until blended. Beat in pineapple juice, then add remaining flour mixture, beating until batter is smooth and ribbony.

Spoon batter over pineapple topping and spread evenly. Bake cake in middle of oven until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cake stand in skillet 5 minutes. Invert a plate over skillet and drop cake onto plate (keeping plate and skillet firmly pressed together).

Serve cake just warm or at room temperature with freshly whipped cream.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 09/26/17 at 10:32 AM • Permalink

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