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RI Archives: Food

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Recipe: Pappardelle With Ricotta And Squash

This week’s recipe is from Berkshire-based duo The Butcher & The Baker. The Butcher is Jake, a nose-to-tail butcher/artist, who loves to cook and grew up in the woody hills of Western Massachusetts where his passion for local, fresh food was first instilled in him. The Baker is Silka, a designer/crafter who loves to bake and grew up in rural Western New York where her parents are candlestick makers. Together they spend most of their time talking about, shopping for, making, and eating food. By sourcing locally and sustainably, and spending time with the producers of their food, they’ve learned that every meal tells a story.

When combined, certain foods become a holy and amazing force. Peanuts and chocolate… cheese, ham, and mayo… brussels sprouts, bacon, and apples… ricotta, winter squash, and sage… The latter, Silka has been jonesing for pretty consistently over the last few weeks. First we tried to satiate the craving with a pizza. We mixed up some pizza dough, picked up some delicata, riccota and sage from the market and put it all together. It was close, but it just wasn’t quite enough. The ingredients were overwhelmed by the dough, the delicata wasn’t quite right and the piney flavor of the sage wasn’t pronounced enough.

Never a couple to give up on a culinary dream, we decided to try again but this time stripping it down to the essentials. After realizing that we needed something simple like pasta as a base, we got more fresh ricotta, sage, and a butternut squash. We roasted the squash in large chunks with butter to bring out its full umami and we fried the sage, filling the kitchen a woodsy smell. When we mixed it all together — the ricotta just melting, the squash breaking down with the crunchy sage, the al dente pasta’s water thickening everything up a little -— we knew we’d finally gotten it right!


Pappardelle with Ricotta & Squash

¾ lb fresh pappardelle
1 lb fresh ricotta
1 medium butternut squash, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 tablespoons butter
1 large bunch sage (or 1 loose cup)
vegetable oil
salt and pepper

1. In a large roasting pan, spread the squash out in one layer. Dot with butter, sprinkle with salt, and roast at 400 degrees for about 1 hour.

2. In an unheated heavy duty pan, pour the vegetable oil so it is about ¼ inch deep. Place pan on high heat and let heat up for a minute or so. Put about half of the sage in the oil and let sage fry for about a minute. Remove the sage and put it on a paper towel to drain. Repeat with remaining sage.

3. Boil salted water for the pasta in a large pot and cook pasta to the package’s directions. When cooked, drain the pasta and put in serving bowl. Toss with the fried sage, roasted squash and ricotta. Salt and pepper to taste.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 10/27/14 at 10:34 AM • Permalink

Recipe: Apple Ricotta Tartine

Twice a month, Berkshire County native Alana Chernila, mother of two, and author of the cookbook, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making (Clarkson Potter), contributes a thoughtful and heartfelt essay/recipe created exclusively for Rural Intelligence readers. Her first cookbook has achieved top-seller status, and Chernila has a new one in the works, titled “The Homemade Kitchen,” due out in 2015.

If you follow the cycle of pick-your-own fruit around here, you know that each picking experience varies greatly from the last. One month, it’s the punishing but totally worth it sun- and fruit-stained knees of the Thompson-Finch strawberry fields (Bring water! Bring sunscreen!), and the next, it’s the lazy path from one bush to another up at Blueberry Hill in Mt. Washington (Bring wine! Bring cheese!). Some kids come to recognize over the years that a fruit-picking excursion is usually less a fun family weekend activity and more an opportunity for them to earn their pie with hard work. They might moan and groan that they don’t want to go strawberry picking again, to which we answer, you don’t know how good you’ve got it, kid!

But we know how good we’ve got it. And that’s never so clear as when it comes time to pick apples.

The list of apple orchards in our area is long enough that you might never visit all of them in one lifetime, especially if you find a favorite and want to stick with it. My grandmother used to take me up to Bartlett’s in Richmond, MA when I was a kid. We never picked, but instead bought bags of Macouns and a big jug of cider from their little store every week through the season. I became partial to Windy Hill in Great Barrington when my kids were little. It was right on the way home from school, so we’d stop and hike up the hill to fill a bag every few weeks. And lately, I must admit I’ve fallen in love with Riiska Brook in Sandisfield. I can’t resist the long rows of trees with apples drooping so low, even a toddler can find one that’s perfect. I love the little house in the center with cider and (dare I say it… the best) cider donuts. And the apples! Last time we picked big juicy Cortlands and petite deep red Empires. I made sauce with a combination of the two, and it turned a bright, blushing pink. There were pies and Dutch babies and lots of apple slices smeared with peanut butter. And there was this for breakfast — an apple tartine — barely a recipe really, but very much worth mentioning all the same.

A tartine is a fancy open sandwich, requiring only some really good bread and a few ingredients that come together well. My favorite tartine bread these days is the baguette you can find at Bizalion’s in Great Barrington. You can buy them fresh or frozen, and I love to pick up a few frozen ones at a time, so I can heat them up and use them fresh from the oven. I love to use homemade ricotta* for this, but it’s delicious with store-bought, as well.

Apple Ricotta Tartine
Serves 1 to 2

¼ cup whole milk ricotta
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
A few zests of the lemon rind
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary, plus additional for sprinkling
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon honey, plus additional for drizzling
¼ to 1/3 of a baguette, sliced in half lengthwise (if it’s not quite fresh, toast it)
½ an apple, sliced thinly

1. Combine the ricotta, lemon juice, zest, rosemary, salt and honey in a small bowl. Spoon it over the baguette. Top with apple slices, another squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of honey and a final sprinkle of rosemary. Eat immediately.

*Have you been wanting to learn how to make cheese and yogurt at home? The next few classes in the “From the Garden to the Pantry” series I’m teaching with Margaret Roach are all about cheesemaking, and there are a few spaces left! Go here for more information.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 10/20/14 at 09:44 AM • Permalink

Recipe: Braised Red Cabbage With Apple

This week’s recipe is from Berkshire-based duo The Butcher & The Baker. The Butcher is Jake, a nose-to-tail butcher/artist, who loves to cook and grew up in the woody hills of Western Massachusetts where his passion for local, fresh food was first instilled in him. The Baker is Silka, a designer/crafter who loves to bake and grew up in rural Western New York where her parents are candlestick makers. Together they spend most of their time talking about, shopping for, making, and eating food. By sourcing locally and sustainably, and spending time with the producers of their food, they’ve learned that every meal tells a story.

Well, it’s fall. At first we tried to pretend it wasn’t here — not quite yet. But the crisp temperatures and unmistakable autumnal glow lured us in and just in the past week or so, we’ve really begun to embrace it… and all the great, warming, slow-cooked meals that come with it. There are plenty of foods that pair wonderfully with this weather, and we’ve talked about them before, but there’s one dish that really tugs at our Berkshires fall-loving heart strings and that’s Braised Red Cabbage.

Nothing satisfies after an afternoon of fall yard-work or a long hike up Bartholomew’s Cobble like this low-maintenance, low-temperature, semi-slow-cook recipe. It’s a simple dish with complex flavor; a good amount of bite comes from the cider vinegar and mustard, and a lovely, balanced sweetness pours out of the silky cabbage and apples. Try it to the side of a braised pork shoulder on a cozy Sunday, or partnered with a thick pork chop any night of the week.

Braised Red Cabbage with Apple

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
4 crisp tart apples, halved, cored, and cut into chunks
1 head red cabbage (2 pounds), cored, quartered, and thinly sliced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 teaspoons cider
1 ½ tablespoon coarse spicy mustard (German style)

1. In a large heavy pot or sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat.

2. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 6 minutes.

3. Stir in red cabbage and season with coarse salt and ground pepper. Wisk cider vinegar, cider and mustard together until combined, then add to cabbage and onion mixture.

4. Cook until cabbage is tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.

5. Add apples and cook another 15 minutes. Season again with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 10/12/14 at 10:19 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Pumpkin Muffins

Twice a month, Berkshire native Alana Chernila, mother of two, and author of the cookbook, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making (Clarkson Potter), contributes a thoughtful and heartfelt essay/recipe created exclusively for Rural Intelligence readers. Her first cookbook has achieved top-seller status, and Chernila has a new one in the works, titled “The Homemade Kitchen,” due out in 2015.

Happy Pumpkin Spice season!

Lattes. Cheesecakes. Lip balm. Scented candles. The world is sprinkled in cinnamon and nutmeg. Just walk down Stockbridge’s Main Street and Yankee Candle will happily remind you it’s time to LOVE pumpkin spice.

And I do. I live in the nearly Starbucks-free Berkshire bubble so I’ve never actually been tempted by the ubiquitous Starbucks pumpkin spice latte, but I’ve been scooping cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg with wild abandon lately. That spicy sweetness seasons these sunny orange days so well. (Of course, cloves and allspice are controversial but appropriate additions — you make the call).  But I love the mixture even more with the bonus of actual pumpkin, which is usually not the case. And although you can buy cans of pumpkin puree year round, this week the little pumpkins appeared at farm stands and in front of grocery stores — the sweet round pumpkins marked sugar or pie (or, perhaps, depending on the farmer, something far more interesting like winter luxury or long pie) that are not for carving, but for eating. These pumpkins are inexpensive and easy to find, and because their flesh freezes beautifully, I roast up a big batch and stock the freezer.

To make your own pumpkin puree, cut small pumpkins in half, or larger ones in quarters. Scoop out the strings and seeds, and save the seeds for roasting. Bake the pumpkins flesh-side down on a greased baking sheet until they’re very soft when pricked with a fork, 75 to 90 minutes. Remove from the oven and flip the pumpkin pieces over (away from your face so the steam doesn’t burn you). Let them cool, and then puree in batches in a food processor. Freeze in quart-sized freezer bags for up to a year. Homemade pumpkin puree often has a higher water content than canned, so it’s good to drain it through a fine-meshed sieve before using it in a baking recipe.

One of my favorite ways to use pumpkin these days has been in these super simple pumpkin muffins adapted from Lisa Leake’s new book, 100 Days of Real Food. They’re whole grain, sweetened only with honey, and come together in just a few minutes. They’re also great out of the freezer, and if I pull muffins out of the freezer in the morning for the girls’ lunches, they’re as good as fresh-baked by lunchtime.

Pumpkin Muffins
Adapted from Lisa Leake’s 100 Days of Real Food
Makes 12 muffins

1/3 cup unsalted butter
½ cup honey
2 cups whole spelt flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree (drained before measuring if you’re using homemade)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Stir in the honey and set aside to cool slightly.

2. Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the dry ingredients, and crack the eggs right into the bowl. Add the butter mixture and stir with a few swift strokes until barely combined. Finally, add the pumpkin puree and combine with a few more strong strokes of the spoon. Divide the mixture between the muffin cups and bake until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into one of the middle muffins, about 20 minutes.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 10/06/14 at 01:42 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Apple Raspberry Clafouti

This week’s recipe is from Berkshire-based duo The Butcher & The Baker. The Butcher is Jake, a nose-to-tail butcher/artist, who loves to cook and grew up in the woody hills of Western Massachusetts where his passion for local, fresh food was first instilled in him. The Baker is Silka, a designer/crafter who loves to bake and grew up in rural Western New York where her parents are candlestick makers. Together they spend most of their time talking about, shopping for, making, and eating food. By sourcing locally and sustainably, and spending time with the producers of their food, they’ve learned that every meal tells a story.

When we were younger, and perhaps a little less wise, our brunches and dinner parties were always elaborate undertakings. We’d source recipes that required days of preparation, pages of seemingly unnecessary steps and dare-devil presentations. It wasn’t that we weren’t having fun. It’s just that… well… it was quite draining! We’d need a full day of recovery after each party and even more time to get through all the dishes. But now, with a few years’ experience, we’ve finally learned the key to a fabulous party: simplicity.

That’s where the clafouti comes in. You’d be hard pressed to find a simpler dish than this light and luxurious dessert. Often made with cherries or stone fruit, this custardy cake is a fantastic base for a whole range of fruits, whatever the season. Right now we’re in apple and raspberry mode, a crowd-pleasing combo and a perfect ending to a hearty, fall meal. Throw this baby into the oven a few minutes before your guests arrive, and you’ll have a dessert that is richer and more flavorful than a million more complex recipes.

Clafouti Base
3 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
8 tbsp. butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2⁄3 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
½ tsp. salt

Apple Raspberry Filling
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 tart apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (we used a mix of heirloom apples from the Berkshire Co-op)
½ cup sugar
3 tbsp. whiskey
1–2 cups raspberries

1. Preheat oven to 400° and prepare the filling. Melt butter in a pan over medium-high heat. Add apples, ½ cup sugar and whiskey, and cook until apples soften, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat.

2. Make the clafouti base. Put milk, eggs, 6 tbsp. butter, vanilla, flour, sugar and salt into a bowl and mix until smooth and a bit frothy. Grease a 10” pie plate or oven-safe skillet with remaining butter, then set in oven to heat for a few minutes. Be careful, as the butter will burn easily.

3. Remove pie plate from oven and immediately pour in half the batter. Arrange warm apple slices over batter, reserving juices. Sprinkle raspberries over top, then pour remaining batter over the filling. Sprinkle remaining sugar over batter and bake until clafouti is golden and set in the center, 25–30 minutes. (If it starts to brown too quickly, cover with tin foil.) Drizzle with warmed reserved apple juices and serve warm. (We like ours a bit more custardy, so we bake it just shy of the recommended time and serve it as soon as possible.)

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 09/29/14 at 11:53 AM • Permalink

Recipe: Any Green Pesto

Twice a month, Berkshire native Alana Chernila, mother of two, and author of the cookbook, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making (Clarkson Potter), contributes a thoughtful and heartfelt essay/recipe created exclusively for Rural Intelligence readers. Her first cookbook has achieved top-seller status, and Chernila has a new one in the works, titled “The Homemade Kitchen,” due out in 2015.

Right as the calendar flips from September to October, my inner squirrel officially takes over and I become fixated on preserving and saving food for the winter. Although I’m sure there are many people who do this in a rational, measured way, my family will attest to the fact that I do not. I know that freezer and pantry space is limited, and I know that we do actually have access to the grocery store all twelve months of the year, but when I come face to face with 90 pounds (true story!) of tomatoes that need a home right now, the inner squirrel takes over and squeaks with joy before the rest of me can remember everything else that I’m supposed to do today. You could say I have a bit of a preservation issue, or you could say I’m really great at stocking up for the winter—it depends whether you’re asking me or my husband, Joey.

While last week was tomato week, this week seems to be all about greens. The kale in the garden has kicked into high gear, and I came home from the market with bags of turnip and beet greens that people had discarded for the roots attached to them. They were especially beautiful and I just couldn’t let them go into the compost. I threw a bunch of turnip greens into the final incarnation of my Barn Raising Bloody Mary Mix and the rest became pesto. I kept a bit out for now, and the rest went into small stackable containers for the freezer. And with that, my inner squirrel is satisfied… at least for a few days.

Most people tend to think of basil when they’re making pesto, but the truth is that most greens and herbs make wonderful pesto, and it’s a great way to preserve greens for later. Mint; parsley; kale; arugula; beet, turnip; radish greens or even carrot tops are great greens for pesto. I find the best way to make pesto is to pulse and taste, pulse and taste, so you can create exactly the right balance of flavor for you.

Any Green Pesto

Start with 4 to 5 cups roughly chopped greens or herbs. Add them to a food processor fit with the chopping blade along with 2 to 3 roughly chopped cloves of garlic, ½ cup toasted nuts, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and ½ teaspoon salt. Pulse several times until you have a fairly uniform mix. Then, with the food processor running, add ½ cup olive oil, adding more if the mixture seems too thick. Add ½ cup grated parmesan cheese, and pulse one more time. Now taste the mixture and adjust any of the ingredients as you like. If it’s not salty enough, add more salt or parmesan. If it tastes a little dull, add more lemon to brighten it up. If it’s a little too green tasting, add another handful of toasted nuts. Keep working with it until it’s so delicious you just want to eat it with a spoon. Transfer to a jar, top with a little olive oil, and eat within a week to 10 days.

A note on freezing pesto: You can either freeze this pesto as-is, or you can stop before you add the cheese and freeze it without cheese. I’ve done it both ways and, although freezing the mixture without cheese results in a slightly better texture in the final defrosted product, it’s okay to freeze your pesto with cheese if that feels more convenient for you.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 09/22/14 at 11:38 AM • Permalink

Recipe: Chicken In 40 Cloves

This week’s recipe is from Berkshire-based duo The Butcher & The Baker. The Butcher is Jake, a nose-to-tail butcher/artist, who loves to cook and grew up in the woody hills of Western Massachusetts where his passion for local, fresh food was first instilled in him. The Baker is Silka, a designer/crafter who loves to bake and grew up in rural Western New York where her parents are candlestick makers. Together they spend most of their time talking about, shopping for, making, and eating food. By sourcing locally and sustainably, and spending time with the producers of their food, they’ve learned that every meal tells a story.

As much as we love a good BBQ and summer produce, we’re excited to watch the leaves turn yellow and red and feel the days shorten because that means our meals are starting to change as well. Fall is really our favorite season for cooking. Braises, roasts, Brussels sprouts and squashes… we just can’t get enough. The thing is, most of those autumnal foods require a fair amount of time to prepare. And while there is nothing better than slowly braising a lamb neck for eight hours as you read by the fire, right now we just don’t have the time for that.

Luckily, we have access to plenty of chicken! With just a few simple ingredients, chicken lends itself to a quick braise — all that deep, warming flavor we crave within a reasonable weeknight’s cook time. For one of our first fall stews, Jake brought home a chicken, a quart of stock and four heads of garlic while Silka picked up a bottle of dry white wine and some cookies. (Obviously, the cookies were not used in the preparation of the chicken.) In under an hour, we were sitting down to a gorgeous meal in front of a roaring fire, in a warm house filled with the scent of slowly roasted, caramelized garlic.

Chicken in 40 Cloves

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
tablespoon unsalted butter
1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature
salt
about 40 large garlic cloves, or 4 heads of garlic, peeled
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock

1. Pat the chicken pieces dry and season liberally with salt.

2. Add oil and butter to a dutch oven over a high flame.

3. When the fats are hot but not smoking, add chicken pieces, skin side down, and cook until skin turns an even, golden brown -— about 3 minutes. Turn over to brown other side and, when done, set pieces aside. Work in batches to cook all the meat.

4. Reduce heat to medium. Place the garlic cloves at the bottom of the skillet and sauté until garlic is lightly browned on all sides — about 10 minutes.

5. Add the chicken on top of the garlic, then pour in the wine and stock.

6. Cover and continue cooking until juices run clear when a thigh is pricked — 10 to 15 minutes more.

7. Take cover off and place under the broiler for 5 minutes to re-crisp the skin of the chicken. Serve over rice.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 09/15/14 at 10:04 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Pallid Mary Mix

Twice a month, Berkshire native Alana Chernila, mother of two, and author of the cookbook, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making (Clarkson Potter), contributes a thoughtful and heartfelt essay/recipe created exclusively for Rural Intelligence readers. Her first cookbook has achieved top-seller status, and Chernila has a new one in the works, titled “The Homemade Kitchen,” due out in 2015.

I’ll admit, there are certainly worse jobs out there than testing homemade Bloody Mary mixes. So, committed to my cause, I soldier on.

It all started innocently enough. Months ago, I started meeting with a group of people to plan a fundraising event to raise money for the new cowshed at the Great Barrington Fairgrounds. It’s a great group, and in the beginning—every week or two—we’d all sit around the table, dreaming about our ideal event. Over time, we managed to shape a real event from all those dreams, and it’s coming up in a few weeks. As soon as we decided it would be a brunch feast, I became fixated on Bloody Marys.

Now I wasn’t talking about your regular old hotel brunch Bloody Mary. I wanted a late-September, Berkshire tomato mix will real spice, kick and texture. And of course, when the group looked at me when I mentioned local Bloody Marys again, and said, “Great! We can’t wait to try your special mix,” I of course nodded and said, “Yes! I can’t wait to make it!”

Of course I’ve never made a Bloody Mary mix in my life. But I’m pretty good at faking it, and I was sure my special Bloody Mary mix was out there, just waiting for me to make it up.

I think I’m almost there. But I’ve got a little bit of time left to perfect it, and I predict a few more Bloody Marys in my near future (more specifically, between now and September 21.)

So will this be the mix you’ll drink at Gedney Farm on September 21 at our brunch feast? We’ll just see how future trials go. But just to be sure you get a chance to try the final version, grab a ticket here. It’s going to be a wonderful meal, and a great party all around. Sam Sifton (king of all things food at the NYT), Jenny Rosenstrach (queen of family dinner and, as of this week, NYT bestselling author), and Andy Ward (head of non-fiction at Random House, Sam Sifton’s editor, and (ta-da!) married to Jenny Rosenstrach) will all be there, and so will I, Bloody Mary in hand. And it’s all for a fantastic cause, too.

I love this most recent version of the mix, which I did with giant yellow heirlooms from Indian Line Farm. The only problem? It’s definitely not bloody. We’ve been searching for a name, and I’m open to any suggestions. The Pallid Mary? Bloodless Mary? Blood-drained-from-her-face Mary? Whatever you call it, it’s delicious. Add vodka to taste (or drink it virgin), and garnish with celery or my favorite, dilly beans.

Pallid Mary Mix
Makes 3 cups

1 large yellow tomato (about 1 pound)
2 teaspoons fresh oregano
¼ cup chopped sweet yellow pepper
½ chopped jalapeno pepper, or more, to taste
1 ½ teaspoons chopped shallot
Juice of 1 lime
½ teaspoon celery salt
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish, or more, to taste

1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. To serve, pour 1 cup into a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice and a shot of vodka. Shake, pour into a glass, and garnish with celery or dilly beans.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 09/08/14 at 10:40 AM • Permalink

Recipe: Raspberry Sour Cream Tart

This week’s recipe is from Berkshire-based duo The Butcher & The Baker. The Butcher is Jake, a nose-to-tail butcher/artist, who loves to cook and grew up in the woody hills of Western Massachusetts where his passion for local, fresh food was first instilled in him. The Baker is Silka, a designer/crafter who loves to bake and grew up in rural Western New York where her parents are candlestick makers. Together they spend most of their time talking about, shopping for, making, and eating food. By sourcing locally and sustainably, and spending time with the producers of their food, they’ve learned that every meal tells a story.

This summer we’ve been totally obsessed with classic desserts. We’re not talking classic like crème brulee or profiteroles – we’re talking classic Americana, 1950s pot-luck, back-of-the-jello-box desserts. There’s something so appealing about that nostalgic, easy-bake taste in the summer, when temperatures are running high and a desire to be in front of a stove is running low. Especially when those evocative flavors are elevated with local ingredients and seasonal fruits.

Over the last few months, we’ve whipped up variations on ice-box cakes, pudding pies and any number of other cookie-crumb-crusted delicacies. (It’s only a matter of time before we dive into the Jello Mold category!) But right now, at the beginning of September, our focus is on how to incorporate one of our favorite ingredients, raspberries, into our theme.

We’ve got plenty to experiment with, having inherited a hard-working berry patch from Jake’s grandmother. And so far, our favorite way to honor the raspberry is this sour cream tart. The tangy base really lets the berries shine, it’s light and refreshing, and it’s as pretty as it is easy. We think Betty Draper would approve – you might, too!

Raspberry Sour Cream Tart

For crust:
8 whole graham crackers, coarsely broken
1/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For filling and topping:
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 pint baskets raspberries
1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam

To make crust:
Preheat oven to 375°. Grind crackers and sugar in processor until coarse crumbs form. Add butter and process until crumbs are evenly moistened. Press crumb mixture firmly onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Bake until crust is firm to touch, about 8 minutes. Cool crust on rack.

Make filling and topping:
Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in medium bowl until smooth. Beat in sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla. Spread filling in cooled crust. Chill until firm, at least 4 hours. (This part can be made a day ahead… cover it and keep chilled.)

Arrange berries over filling. Whisk jam in small bowl to a loose consistency and drizzle over berries. Serve immediately or chill up to three hours.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 09/01/14 at 11:38 AM • Permalink

Recipe: Roasted August Quinoa

Twice a month, Berkshire native Alana Chernila, mother of two, and author of the cookbook, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making (Clarkson Potter), contributes a thoughtful and heartfelt essay/recipe created exclusively for Rural Intelligence readers. Her first cookbook has achieved top-seller status, and Chernila has a new one in the works, titled “The Homemade Kitchen,” due out in 2015.

I’m pretty sure we always say the same things around here every year, right about now: Gosh, what happened to summer? Can you believe it? I swear I saw that big tree on the way up to Stockbridge turning! Isn’t it early?

I think it’s always hard to let the summer go, to know that we’ve done all we can, and now it’s time for the mists of September to come. But although some summers are colder, some are warmer, some are wetter, and some are dryer, the last week of August is always filled with tiny pockets of cold air, almost like a lake with bits of warm and cold within it.

When the chill comes in, I turn the oven on. Because nearly everything growing right now gets even better with some time in the oven. And with temperatures dipping below 50 degrees at night, a good vegetable roasting session even helps to keep the house warm.

Tomatoes are my favorite August roasting vegetable. I like to roast them low and slow, even in large batches for freezing. But in the interest of a timely dinner, this dish happens in a hotter oven, and I roast every vegetable at the same time. This is great right away, and even better for leftovers. And although I use quinoa here, most grains will stand in well for the quinoa if you have a different preference.

(And speaking of tomato roasting, if you’d like to learn more about preserving and growing tomatoes — and garlic! — be sure to grab a spot in the tomato and garlic workshop I’m teaching with Margaret Roach on September 6. We’ll be spending the day canning, dehydrating, learning about growing and curing garlic, and lots more — all against the backdrop of Margaret’s gorgeous garden. This is the first in a series of Garden to Pantry workshops Margaret and I are working on together, and I can’t wait. There’s more info here.)

Roasted August Quinoa
Serves 4 to 6

3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 medium zucchini, cut into ¼-inch slices
Kernels from 2 ears corn
Olive oil
Salt
1 cup uncooked quinoa
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
1 cup microgreens or other delicate green
Squeeze of lemon

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Arrange the tomatoes, flesh-side up, on one baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Roast until slightly collapsed, about 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, lay the zucchini slices out on one side of the second tray. Lay the corn kernels on the other side of the tray, and drizzle both vegetables with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, and roast until the zucchini is slightly shriveled and the corn begins to brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

3. While the vegetables roast, make the quinoa. Rinse the quinoa in a fine-meshed sieve. Toast the quinoa in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until the grains dry out and begin to smell nutty, about 5 minutes. Add 2 cups boiling water to pan, along with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a glug of olive oil. Bring to a boil, cover the pan, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook undisturbed for 20 minutes, then remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and cover the pot again. Let it sit for 10 minutes, then remove the lid, and let the quinoa cool a bit. Transfer to a large serving bowl.

4. Add the roasted vegetables to the quinoa, along with the feta and mint. Gently fold the vegetables into the quinoa, taking care not to crush the tomatoes. Taste, add salt if necessary, and scatter the microgreens over the bowl. Top with one more drizzle of olive oil, squeeze a lemon over the whole mixture, and serve.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 08/25/14 at 02:41 PM • Permalink