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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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

Recipe: Spring Into Summer Cobb Salad

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.

Every year we get closer and closer to planting our own garden — we swear! But in the meantime, we’re lucky to have full access to Jake’s father Tom’s bountiful veggie plot. This season, his radish crop in particular has been out of control. Every day there are more and more brightly colored orbs popping out of the ground. And we’ve been eating them every way we know how — sprinkled with salt, on buttered bread, poached in herb butter and sliced thinly on top of salads. 

The garden is also supplying us with a steady stream of lettuce, and since the weather is warm and we spend every available moment outside, dinner is often a big salad thrown together before dark, paired with some butter or Monterey Chevre-slathered bread. One of our favorites is what we’ve come to call our “Spring Into Summer Cobb Salad”  — crispy lettuce, spicy radishes, fresh backyard eggs, bacon, some sharp cheese and a fancier-than-usual dressing, made almost entirely of things we can see from our kitchen window.

Spring Into Summer Cobb Salad

For the salad:
4 oz crumbly blue cheese or sharp cheddar
1/2 lb thick bacon, cut into chunks and fried
6 eggs, medium boiled and sliced
1 bunch radishes, sliced into rounds
2 heads romaine lettuce, ripped into reasonably forkable-sized pieces

For the dressing:
2 oz blue cheese
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1. Prepare each of the individual ingredients for the salad.

2. In a large shallow serving platter lay down a bed of the lettuce.

3. Arrange the cheese, bacon, eggs, and radishes in rows over the bed of lettuce for a pretty display.

4. Whisk the dressing ingredients together and pour over the dressing. Serve with bread and butter.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 07/07/14 at 09:17 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Berry Herb Pops

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 shares the secret to a perfect popsicle.

And now begins the time when we turn everything into popsicles. The back porch is already stained with drips and the popsicle mold never makes it back into the bottom drawer.

For years, I made terrible popsicles. I’d do that thing where I’d try to pass off something non-dessert-y as dessert, freezing juice into pop molds. We’d all eat our “dessert,” noisily slurping the juice out of the pop until all that was left was a popsicle-shaped ice cube. Everyone was good-natured about it, but I was determined to improve my pop game.

A few years ago, I had the good fortune to work on the photos for a book called People’s Pops. The authors had recently built a pop empire in New York, and their little book shared every secret they had. I ate pops through the whole shoot (90° in July, hot New York apartment) and every flavor was better than the next. It turns out that their secret ingredient is simple syrup, often infused with herbs. Pack a pop with fresh fruit, blend with a little simple syrup, and freeze until solid. Once I gave in, I never made a juice-filled icicle again. And now I have a jar of simple syrup in the fridge at all times during the hot months, as it’s also the secret success of lemonade, iced coffee, and cocktails. Play around with different flavor combinations, and always have a few pops ready to go in the freezer. On the hottest days you can even call them dinner. I won’t tell.

This recipe makes roughly enough to fill a 10-pop mold, but as molds are variable, you might have extra. Freeze in a little container, and shave it off for a granita.

Basic Berry Herb Pops

¾ cup infused simple syrup, or more to taste (recipe follows)
1 to 1¼ pounds berries
optional: ¼ cup heavy cream, yogurt, or buttermilk

1. Combine the simple syrup, fruit, and cream, if using, in a blender. Blend until smooth, pour into pop molds, and freeze for at least 6 hours. Unmolded pops can be stored in freezer bags in the freezer for up to a week.


Infused Simple Syrup
Makes about 1 1/3 cups

1 cup granulated sugar (coarser organic sugar is nice here, too)
1 cup water
handful of mint, basil, lemon balm, tarragon, or a few sprigs of thyme or rosemary

1. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a low boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat, add the herbs, and cover the pan. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then strain into a jar. Store in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 06/30/14 at 11:30 AM • Permalink

Recipe: Garlic Scape Pesto

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.

We’ll scream it, we’ll shout it, we’ll yell it from the rooftops: WE LOVE ALLIUMS. But to pick a favorite one, well that’s something we’re entirely less sure of. Ramps are wild, elusive and inspiring, the onion is the backbone of many-a kitchen, leeks are the class act, and garlic is the most pleasantly utilitarian. Yes, it’s difficult to pick a leader of the pack… but for this post we’ll go with garlic.

We’re used to thinking of garlic as small, papery-white covered bulbs with a hard, pungent flavor. But garlic is actually edible through four distinct phases of its life cycle, each transition much in line with our own seasons. In spring we have spring (or green) garlic—slender, pale green reeds with small, white bulbs that very much resemble scallions. And now, in the summer, we have scapes! Long, elegant, saturated stalks stretching upward toward wispy, curled tails just screaming to be taken home and into the kitchen.

These short-lived pleasures are at their best grilled or sauteed to crispy perfection. But we like to extend our enjoyment as long as possible with this simple pesto recipe. With a quick cook and a speedy spin of the food processor, you’ll have a delicious dipping sauce, pasta topping, aioli addition or rub for butterflied grilled chicken.

Garlic Scape Pesto

1 bunch garlic scapes
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
kosher salt and black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus 1 tbs

1. Chop the scapes into one-inch lengths and saute in a pan with a little olive oil.

2. When the scapes turn a vibrant dark green and release their aroma, remove from the pan.

3. Puree the garlic scapes, pine nuts, Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a food processor until very finely chopped—pulsing works best. Then, with the motor running, slowly pour the oil through the opening. Season the pesto with salt and pepper to taste. Spread on everything!

The pesto keeps in the fridge for one week or frozen for a year.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 06/24/14 at 07:04 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Roasted Strawberry Puff

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 revels in the beginning of strawberry season.

And with that, the strawberries have arrived.

I saw them on Instagram first. They showed up in my feed, like a little trumpet call of the season to come. First it was just a shot here or there, a lonely pint on a sunny windowsill, or a celebratory strawberry shortcake. I’d look at the name of the person who took the photo, and I’d feel a surge of jealousy.

“They must be farther south. They must be in New Jersey.” (That’s one of the few good things I know about New Jersey. You get strawberries in May.)

But then the photos picked up, and this week it was all strawberries all the time in Instagram world. Well-placed wooden quarts of unadorned strawberries, homemade strawberry ice cream, pictures of cute toddlers in strawberry patches covered from head to toe in bright red juice. Strawberry shots are the new beach photos.

Luckily, a quart of local strawberries is way cheaper than a beach vacation. This is a social media trend that’s available to all. This past weekend, I picked up a pretty gorgeous quart from Bug Hill Farm at the Great Barrington Farmers’ Market. I walked into the kitchen slowly, proudly clutching my glowing box.

“Are those… strawberries?” The family descended. But I fought them back. I put that box on my marble counter, and I took my very own strawberry photo. Then, it was time to eat.

These early strawberries are so precious, they usually don’t even make it home. But if you actually want to make something with them, this is a great special weekend breakfast.

Roasted Strawberry Puff
Serves 6

softened butter
1 quart strawberries, hulled and quartered
3 tablespoons maple syrup, plus additional for serving
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
6 eggs
1½ cups whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1½ cups all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Generously grease the inside of a 10- or 12-inch cast iron skillet with softened butter. Combine the strawberries, 2 tablespoons of the maple syrup, olive oil, vinegar and salt in a medium bowl. Transfer the strawberry mixture to the skillet and roast in the oven until the strawberries get soft and release their juice, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, melted butter and maple syrup in a medium bowl. Add the flour and stir to combine, gently pressing any pockets of flour out of the mix. The batter will be lumpy.

Pour the batter into the hot pan with the strawberries, swirling to combine the batter with the strawberry liquid. Bake without opening the oven until puffed and golden, another 30 to 35 minutes.

Serve with maple syrup.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 06/16/14 at 10:19 AM • Permalink