Rural Intelligence: The Online Magazine for Eastern New York, Western Connecticut and the Southern Berkshires
Friday, September 19, 2014
 
Search Archives:
Newsletters Signup
Close it

RI Archives: Food

View past Recipe articles.

View all past Food articles.


Bimi cheese shop

Chatham Wine & Liquor

Haven Cafe & Bakery

John Andrews Restaurant

Brava

Baba Louie's

Verdigris Tea Shop

Berkshire Coop

Benchmark Real Estate

Olde Hudson

NECC Chef & Farmer Brunch

Chez Nous Bistro

Nejaime's Wine Cellars

Lion's Den

Guido's Marketplace

Vivian Mandala Deisgn Studio

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.

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

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.

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

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.

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

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.

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

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

Recipe: Corn and Jalapeño Fritters

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.

Nobody’s perfect all the time. We do our best to stick to a seasonal produce schedule, buying locally when we can and often amending recipes or changing culinary tacks when we can’t. But there’s one night, almost weekly, when we fill our grocery carts with abandon, and that’s taco night.

Sure, we do our best. We buy our steak from North Plain Farm and our radishes, cabbage, tomatoes, even jalapeños, from farms around the county. But we just can’t let go of our beloved guacamole, and the avocados and limes that it calls for. It’s a deliciously rebellious treat that we relish—so much so that we often over-buy for our table of two and happily gorge on leftovers for a few extra days.

But we’re always striving to bring it back to the Berkshires. The last couple taco nights we’ve been enjoying these delicious and easy corn fritters. They’re a quick way to get a little more local produce on our plates, and a great off-the-cob vehicle for the corn which is so bountiful and sweet this year. Serve with lime, avo and creme fraiche as a starter, or skip the tortillas all together and pile your taco fillings on top, torta-style. However you do it, you’ll be doing your local farmer a favor while enjoying more global flavor.

Corn and Jalapeño Fritters

2 beaten large eggs
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups fresh corn kernels
1 thinly sliced scallion
1 finely chopped seeded jalapeño
2 tablespoons safflower oil (canola will work, too)
Flake salt
Creme fraiche, avocado and lime, for serving

1. Combine eggs, flour, grated Parmesan, and kosher salt in a food processor. Pulse a few times to mix well.

2. Add corn kernels, scallion, and jalapeño; pulse 2–3 times.

3. Heat oil in pan. When hot, cook heaping tablespoonfuls of batter until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. Season patties with flake salt and serve with creme fraiche, avocado and lime.

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

Posted by Amy Krzanik on 08/17/14 at 11:06 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Summer Oats

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, tentatively titled “Meals from the Homemade Pantry,” due out in 2015.

Of all the foods to go on about in August, oatmeal may seem an unlikely candidate for adoration. But this is no utilitarian bowl of gluey oats. This is something entirely different.

In the winter, I eat my oatmeal with maple syrup, or maybe jam. There might be some dried fruit or nuts from the pantry in there. It’s sweet and warm, but still it’s breakfast that belongs to times when there isn’t much fresh food, and to quick mornings before school when the goal of breakfast is to give my kids a bit of armor against the cold, cruel February world. I’m glad it exists, but it’s nothing to wax poetic about.

But this? Allow me to wax, if you will.

I start with an oatmeal recipe from my friend Megan Gordon. She wrote a beautiful book last year called Whole Grain Mornings, and it begins with a few basics, most importantly a recipe she calls (and rightly so) “The Very Best Oatmeal.” She toasts her oats in butter, and then sprinkles them over a combination of milk and water, stirring them in to sit and absorb the liquid off the heat. The method creates less of an oatmeal and more of a bowl of warm toasted oats, and this turns out to be the perfect base for all the fruit that’s ripe and at its most wonderful right this second. The whole process takes 10 minutes if you’re speedy, or 15 if you’re in vacation mode, watching the mist lift while you drink your coffee. Then bring out those berries, slice up every last peach and nectarine on the counter, and let everyone create their own bowl.

Summer Oats
Serves 4

2 tablespoons butter (salted or unsalted)
2 cups rolled oats
½ cup milk or nut milk
Generous pinch of salt (be more generous if you use unsalted butter)
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 2/3 cups water
For serving: fruit, cream, maple syrup brown sugar, toasted nuts, seeds…

1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the oats and toast, stirring occasionally, until the oats smell nutty and fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, bring the milk, salt, cinnamon, and water to a low boil in a medium pot. Add the toasted oats and gently stir them into the hot milk mixture. Cover the pot, remove it from heat, and let the pot sit, undisturbed, for 7 to 8 minutes. Check the oats, and if there’s still a fair amount of liquid, give them a stir, cover the pot again, and let sit for a few more minutes. Serve piled with fresh fruit and other toppings of your choice.

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

Posted by Amy Krzanik on 08/11/14 at 09:36 AM • Permalink

Recipe: Fettuccine with Green Tomato Sauce

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.

In many ways the summer can feel like one long build-up to that first bright-red, juicy tomato from the garden. For months we spend warm evenings strolling through the garden, checking on the state of our staked fruit, patiently waiting for mid August. And then! We gorge — tomato sandwiches, caprese salad, salsa, fresh tomato sauce, grilled tomatoes, tomato and cucumber salad, canned tomatoes, tomato jam, you name it! 
 
But this summer we planted our seedlings a little late. So here we are, in late August with nothing but a few light-green orbs. Luckily — while nothing compares to that sweetly satisfying first bite of a big red — the truth is that there are plenty of delicious things to do with a green tomato.

With a green tomato’s tart and firm flesh, there is a world beyond the classic fried side (not that there’s anything wrong with fried green tomatoes!). One popular option, seen often in kosher-style delis, is to go the pickle route. But in our house we like to do something else: green tomato sauce over pasta. Sauteed with onions, some cream, and bits of bacon (duh!), green tomatoes are the perfectly acidic base for a mid-summer-going-on-fall sauce.

Fettuccine with Green Tomato Sauce

1 lb bacon, cut into small chunks
3 lbs green tomatoes, cut into small chunks
1 large onion, sliced
½ cup cream
1 lb fettuccine

1. Fry the bacon in a large saute pan. When done, remove bacon and set aside, reserving the bacon fat.

2. Saute the onions over medium-high heat until translucent. Add the tomatoes and cook for about one hour, or until the tomatoes are soft. Meanwhile boil water for pasta.

3. Cook the pasta and drain. Around this time, add the cream to the sauce and remove from heat.

4. In a serving bowl, pour the sauce over the pasta and sprinkle with bacon.

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

Posted by Amy Krzanik on 08/03/14 at 09:24 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Summer Squash and Ricotta Pasta

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, tentatively titled “Meals from the Homemade Pantry,” due out in 2015. This week, she shows us a delicious way to use the bounty of squash turning up in your garden, it seems, daily.

When I was little, my grandparents ran a vegetarian bed and breakfast on Rt. 23 heading out towards Monterey, Massachusetts. My grandfather had a huge garden behind the kitchen that existed solely to fill frittatas for summer breakfasts served to tourists and Tanglewood musicians. Shredded zucchini. Asparagus trimmed on the diagonal. Dill and basil. He’d layer it all four or five inches deep before pouring the egg overtop and baking it in a big rectangular pan. Those frittatas were layered like a green diagram of the crust of the Earth. And between fritattas and the daily loaves of whole-wheat zucchini bread from my grandmother’s oven, I don’t think there was ever a question of what to do with all those hundreds (thousands? I’ll never know) of zucchini and summer squash that grew from each blossom in his garden.

Right now, as the summer squash go into turbo mode, the zucchini questions come with a certain panic: What do you do with all that summer squash and zucchini?

And yes, there are frittatas and loaves of zucchini bread. But beyond that, it depends on the day. Sometimes, I marinate thick squash and zucchini slices slices in olive oil, lemon, tamari and herbs for a few hours, and then I grill them before tossing them with mint and parmesan, or mixing them with leftover grains needing rebirth from the refrigerator. If it’s not a grill kind of night, I’ll chop them into half moons and fry them with butter and rosemary. And when there’s no answer to dinner better than a big bowl of pasta on the back porch, I pick every herb in the garden and slice my zucchini thin with a mandoline. I make a sauce of ricotta loosened up with the starchy water from the pasta pot, and I pile up the warm zucchini over the creamy pasta. That’s been the treatment of the moment, and for now, that’s my go-to answer. It’s quick, it works, and it uses what needs to be used, thereby filling all the requirements of perfect summer dinner food.

Summer Squash and Ricotta Pasta
serves 4, with leftovers

1 lb dried spaghetti or fettuccini
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb zucchini, yellow summer squash, or pattypan squash, root and stem ends removed, sliced as thin as possible (preferably with a mandoline)
salt and freshly ground pepper
squeeze of lemon juice
1½ cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
handful basil leaves, torn or roughly chopped
handful flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until tender, 7 to 9 minutes. Use a ladle or measuring cup to remove 1 cup of pasta water from the pot, set it aside to use in a minute, then drain and rinse the pasta.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini and stir constantly until it’s soft and just a bit brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Give the whole pan a sprinkle of salt, a few grinds of pepper, and a squeeze of lemon. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Pour the cup of pasta water into a large serving bowl. Stir the ricotta into the water to create a creamy (although lumpy—that’s okay!) sauce. Stir in the basil and parsley, then toss the pasta in the sauce. Top with the zucchini, and more salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

Posted by Amy Krzanik on 07/28/14 at 10:44 AM • Permalink

Recipe: Currant Syrup To Drink Or Spoon

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.

Given our particular affinity for berries, we are lucky to have inherited Jake’s grandmother’s home surrounded by raspberry, currant and gooseberry bushes. This year we added to the patch with hearty low and high-bush blueberries, lingonberries, huckleberries and elderberries sourced from Project Native. And now, we’re smack-dab in the middle of high berry season, with perfectly ripe blueberries, raspberries, currants and gooseberries shouting out for our attention.

Most evenings before dinner, we grab a container and go out to mine our precious jewels from their shrubs. Snacking as we go, we never seem to tire of foraging from own backyard. What makes it back inside is often gobbled up that evening as is, by the handful. Occasionally, with a little extra time and energy, we’ll spoon them over biscuits with cream.

No matter how fast we chomp, though, we always get to a point where we cant keep up with the supply and we have to start preserving. One of our favorite ways to prolong our enjoyment is by making syrups. They are a super-quick and incredibly versatile way to stretch the season — and super yummy as a base for cocktails. Here’s our recipe for a simple currant syrup, which is just as good in a currant Cosmo as it is over vanilla ice cream.

Currant Syrup
2 cups currants
2/3 cup water
4 tablespoons sugar

1. Place all of the ingredients in a small pot and bring to a boil.

2. Once the berries have reached a hard boil, turn down to a gentle simmer and walk away for 30 minutes.

3. Strain the syrup into a jar and, with a spoon, push the remains of the berries through the sieve.

Currant Cosmo
2 oz. vodka
2 oz. currant syrup
1 oz. vermouth
juice of one lime

Combine ingredients together in a cocktail shaker, shake until cold, and serve with a lime wedge or fresh berries.

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

Posted by Amy Krzanik on 07/21/14 at 09:28 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Midsummer Galette

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, tentatively titled “Meals from the Homemade Pantry,” due out in 2015. This week, she gives a roadmap to a galette that can be filled with whatever veggies are in the garden.

I love all the twists and turns of summer cooking. Mostly, to be honest, it’s non-cooking. Dinner is piles of produce with dressing on top, vegetables or lazily marinated meat thrown on the grill, or, if it’s cool enough to boil a pot of water in the kitchen, a big tray of corn with only a sidekick of softened butter (who can keep it un-softened on a scorcher like this?) and maybe a little chopped-up mint. My kids open their mouths like little birds and cry, “what’s for dessert?!” and we point towards the raspberry patch and tell them to take the matter into their own hands. It’s too hot to cook, but we can’t very well let all this produce go to waste, so we do as little to it as possible.

But then there are the rare days — the cool days. These might be my favorite days for cooking in the entire year. Then I want to cook, and I have the whole garden (and others’ gardens too) to choose from. These are the days of summer corn chowders and frittatas of sliced pole beans and layers of mandolined zucchini. These are the days of savory galettes.

Even if you were brave enough to turn on your oven on a 90-degree day, you wouldn’t want to make a galette on a day like that. In all that heat, the butter will ooze out of your pie crust in the first few minutes of baking, and you’ll end up with a hard round of cardboard in pool of melted butter. But on a good 72-degree day, your crust will flake and puff, and you can fill the tart with every vegetable in the garden.

To give you a recipe would be counterproductive, as the key to a good summer galette is to use the produce you have. So in the interest of practicality, I’ll give you more of a formula.

You’ll need three main elements:

1. Start with a pie crust. If you have a recipe you love, use it. If you need a new recipe or are open to new things, my recipe is below. You can make two galettes with one pie crust, or you can make one large one or even four minis. You can also use half a batch of dough and make one galette, and save the other half in your freezer for the next time you want to make a galette.

2. You’ll also want lightly roasted or sautéed vegetables. Thin slices are the best. If you can, cook them beforehand so they won’t release water as they bake and make your crust soggy. Roasting is my preferred method here.

3. The last element holds all the extras. Big dollops of goat cheese, slices of parmesan, paper-thin sheets of prosciutto — you get the idea.

To assemble your galette, roll out your pie crust. It doesn’t have to be round. Transfer the crust to a large, lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the whole crust with a little olive oil, and then arrange your thinly sliced vegetables on the crust, leaving about two inches of empty crust along the perimeter of the circle. Top with your extras, a sprinkle of salt and a handful of fresh herbs. Fold the edge of the crust over the filling, and brush a bit more olive oil on the outside of the crust before sprinkling it with crunchy salt. Bake in a 400°F oven until the crust is golden, 45 to 55 minutes. Carefully transfer to a cooling rack and cool slightly before serving.

Basic Pie Crust
For two 9-inch crusts:

1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch squares, plus additional for greasing the dish
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cold water
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Combine the butter and flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the paddle attachment, using your hands to coat the butter in flour. Combine the water, apple cider vinegar and salt in a measuring cup, stirring to dissolve the salt.

2. Blend the flour mixture on low speed until it becomes the texture of crumbly meal. With the mixer still running, slowly pour the wet mix into the bowl. The dough will be crumbly at first, then after 10 or 20 seconds, it will come together in a ball. Stop the mixer.

3. Turn the dough out onto the counter and press it together into a large disc. Cut the dough in two equal parts, wrap each piece in plastic or wax paper and press each into a disc. (If you’re planning on making one single large galette, press into one large disc.) Refrigerate for at least one hour, and up to three days.

(A note on the galette in the photo: This gorgeous thing was made by Erin Macdowell, the food stylist who’s been working on the photos for my new book. The veggies in there are sliced scarlet turnips from Indian Line Farm and garlic scapes from my garden, all topped with Monterey Chevre.)

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

Posted by Amy Krzanik on 07/14/14 at 10:08 PM • Permalink