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Berkshire Coop

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

Recipe: Perfectly Simple Grilled Whole Fish

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 living in New York City, we didn’t cook a lot of fish at home. The main reason being that we never felt sure we were getting the full story—was it fresh? Sustainably caught? How far did it travel? Do we even know enough to ask the right questions? It’s hard to feel like there’s full transparency around seafood, even at some of the city’s carefully curated greenmarkets.

But now we have Austin Banach and Wes Malzone! Around the time Jake was hired at the Co-op, so was our friend and fellow Monument High School grad, Austin. Austin is a fish and cheese monger who is just as passionate about his craft, and issues of sustainability and the local food economy, as we are. Luckily for us, he fills his case every week with bounty from Wes. 

Wes grew up in Scituate, Massachusetts, a prominent fishing community, and now lives in Northampton, running BerkShore. Twice a week he drives to Scituate and picks up fish from the dock, just caught by guys he grew up with. He then drives the fish back to the Berkshires and delivers it to the Co-op and other lucky local restaurants and markets. On the days that Wes drops his fish off at the Co-op, we almost always take advantage. And now that the weather is cooperating, we’ve become totally obsessed with grilling his beautiful product whole.

This week, Austin had some gorgeous black sea bass in his case, and we couldn’t resist. After getting the grill going, we went out to the herb garden and pulled some tarragon and parsley out from under the serious weeds that have settled there. Next — easy as one, two, three — we stuffed the cavity of the fish with the herbs and lemon, sprinkled some salt on both sides of the fish, drizzled a little olive oil on top and tossed it on the grill. After four minutes on each side, we were sitting on the porch eating a stunning, fresh and flavorful meal.

Perfectly Simple Grilled Whole Fish

1 whole fish, scaled and gutted. (Right now we like black sea bass and porgy.)
handful fresh herbs (tarragon, parley, cilantro, chervil and dill are all good)
1 lemon, slice one half, leave the other half intact
olive oil
salt




1. Stuff the cavity of the fish with the herbs and the lemon slices.

2. Coat it with salt and drizzle a little olive oil on it.

3. Put it directly on the grill and cook for 4 minutes, than flip with a large spatula and cook for another four minutes.

4. Take off the grill and let rest for a few minutes. Before serving squeeze some lemon on it.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 06/09/14 at 10:24 PM • Permalink

Recipe: A Tiny Frittata

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 flips up a personal-sized frittata with spring’s first harvest.

The Handful-Sized Harvest

Garden Harvest: May 31

3 asparagus spears
1 handful (small) dill
4 leaves flat leaf parsley
1 basil leaf
1 shoot green garlic (accidentally picked while weeding)

The gardens of August and September bring on such a flood of food, it can be hard to know what to do with it all. The fridge can hardly close for all the greens and the entire counter is covered with tomatoes, peppers, corn—all exactly five minutes from overripe.  There are worse problems to have, and come late summer, you won’t hear a complaint from me (although I might refuse to eat even one more cup of gazpacho). But these early beds of spring provide a different sort of abundance. Each leaf and root is such a treasure, and I end up creating a whole dish around the best way to taste a handful of herbs or a few red globe radishes.

I’ve seen a similar appreciation across the table when I work at the farmers’ market, too. This last week, we filled the Indian Line Farm table with just a few early greens. There was spinach, a spicy salad mix, and a tower of deep green bunches of broccoli raab. We devoted one side of the table to the radishes—three different varieties in all. There were the long white tipped French Breakfast, the classic bombshell Cherry Belle, and a new variety to me this year, the bright magenta Amethyst. Each of the few vegetables drew people over to “Ohhh! Ahhh! Broccoli raab!” Or “Have you ever seen such a beautiful radish?” I spent the morning explaining how to cook broccoli raab (braise it quickly in water with a knob of butter) and the difference between the three radishes (equally spicy, but the heat comes quick or waits a few seconds), usually ending with one of my favorite market questions: Which one do you think is most beautiful? Inevitably, one bunch of radishes would call to them, and together they’d head back home for lunch.

When the harvest is tiny and wonderful, one of my favorite ways to eat it is in a tiny and wonderful frittata. Fill it with all of your spring treasures, and it will feed you well.

A Tiny Frittata
Serves 1, or 2 who like to share

Olive oil
1 heaping cup chopped fresh spring vegetables (asparagus, radishes, tender greens, peas)
3 eggs
1/3 cup milk, half-and-half, or (my new favorite) plain kefir
¼ teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
small handful fresh herbs, roughly chopped
¼ cup grated cheddar cheese, crumbled feta or ricotta


1. Heat a bit of oil in your tiniest frying pan. Add the vegetables and cook them just until tender. Let them cool for a few minutes.

2. Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper.

3. Scoop the vegetables out of the pan, and wipe out the pan. Grease the entire inside of the pan with olive oil. Add the vegetables, herbs and cheddar to the egg, stirring gently to combine. Scrape the egg mixture into the greased pan and let it sit undisturbed over medium low heat until it’s firm around the edges. Then transfer the pan to the oven, and heat under the broiler until it’s golden and slightly puffed.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 06/02/14 at 10:38 AM • Permalink

Recipe: Spring Garden Soup

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.

The Berkshires boasts many things, but nothing beats the incredibly strong feeling of community. Whatever you’re into, there’s a group of people waiting to welcome you—and whether it’s music and performing arts, or yoga and mediation, each community contributes to that harmonious local buzz we all love. It’s probably no surprise that we find ourselves most involved in the food community. And at every turn we smack into like-minded souls—in organizations like Berkshire Farm & Table, at restaurants like Prairie Whale, and with farms like Indian Line and its enthusiastic and knowledgeable Market crews.

This weekend, at the bustling Great Barrington Farmers Market, we stopped by the ILF stand to see what was ready for the cooking. Manning the stand was none other than Alana Chernila, our partner in bi-weekly RI recipe-writing crime, who insisted that we bring home a bunch of bright green (a.k.a. spring) garlic. “Here!” she said, “Make a soup! I wanted to write about it but by the time it’s my week again, it’ll be too late!” We love that kind of rushed, eat it while you can and then wait another year, kind of seasonal local eating. So, of course, we said “Why not?”

We had a bunch of asparagus and stinging nettle waiting at home, along with some sorrel that sorely needed harvesting. So, with the addition of our spring garlic bundle, this simple, pureed soup pretty much came together on its own. It’s cooling, light, quick and very, very green – perfect for a light lunch, a casual dinner party kick-off, or a community potluck.

Spring Garden Soup
Serves 8 as a first course

olive oil
2 lbs asparagus, tips removed and stalks chopped into 1” pieces
1/4 lb green garlic, cut into 1/4” rounds, green and white parts separated (if you can’t get any, use an onion instead)
8 cups rich, homemade chicken stock
1/4 lb fresh sorrel leaves, sliced into slivers
1/4 lb stinging nettle leaves (if you can’t get any, make up for it with more asparagus or sorrel)
1/2 cup minced chives
1 cup heavy cream

1. Saute the white part of the green garlic with some oil in a pot.

2. Pour in the chicken stock and simmer the asparagus in it for 10 minutes, or until tender.

3. Meanwhile, roast the asparagus tips and the green part of the green garlic in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

4. Once the asparagus is tender, put the sorrel and stinging nettles into the stock.

5. Simmer for another 5 minutes, then add the cream and bring the soup to just short of a boil.

6. In a blender, or with an immersion blender, puree and let soup cool.

7. Serve in small bowls with a few chives, roasted asparagus tips, green garlic and a spoonful of goat’s milk yogurt scattered over the top.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 05/27/14 at 09:01 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Rhubarb Meringue

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 offers a recipe that combines a “delicious mess” of rhubarb topping with the elegance of a meringue that’s surprisingly easy to make.

Nearly a decade ago, I found my rhubarb on Tyringham Road. Earlier that year, I had dug my first square of garden, lovingly turned compost into the clay-filled soil, and planted kale, broccoli, lettuces, and tomatoes. I killed every plant with impressive efficiency, and it was clearly time for a new strategy.

“Go perennial.” That came from my friend Molly’s mom, Lin. She’s one of those people who can create instant magical corners of wild blueberry bushes, thriving fruit trees, and acres of frilled tulips with the touch of one garden-gloved hand. So I took her advice. And that fall, I had the good fortune to end up in the car with Lin on Tyringham Road. She was already planning my future garden in her head.

“There it is. There’s your rhubarb!”

Tyringham Road connects the back neighborhoods of Lee with the woods of Monterey and Otis. Most people who use it live either in one of those towns or Tyringham itself, which sits in the cradle of the hills about midway between Monterey and Lee. The road is one of the most beautiful in all of Berkshire County, and it’s worth a drive even if it takes you nowhere you need to go. Many of the newer houses are grand and sweeping, but there are an equal number of small ranch houses with views to make you weep that have been in the same families for generations. It was outside one of these very houses that Lin spotted my rhubarb, one of a few tiny pots, each with its burst of rhubarb. There was a shoebox, too, and a sign.

“Rhubarb $5”

I’m still finding myself as a gardener, but that one plant is the crown jewel of the garden. It always seems to come up weeks before I think it will, and it continues to produce rhubarb long after rhubarb season is over. That rhubarb feeds us through the spring and half the summer in cakes, chutneys, and anything else we can dream up.

Rhubarb and meringue are a great team, and this is an especially good recipe if you’re turned off by the fussiness of classic meringue. It’s like a Pavlova without all the rules, and as long as you beat the whites well and bake until it’s golden, the meringue will create the perfect base for the delicious mess on top of it.


Rhubarb Meringue
Serves 4 to 6

For the meringue:
3 egg whites
½ cup granulated sugar
pinch Kosher salt

For the topping:
2 cups chopped rhubarb
2 to 3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons water
the seeds of 1 vanilla bean
½ cup crème fraiche
1/3 cup toasted sliced almonds

1. Preheat the oven to 300°F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Beat the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer until they’re white, foamy, and barely hold a soft peak, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the salt, and slowly add the sugar as the mixer runs. Keep beating until the mixture is white and glossy and not gritty to the touch, another 3 to 4 minutes. Spread the egg white mixture into a rough oval about ½ inch thick. Bake until golden and mostly hard to the touch, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

2. Meanwhile, make the topping. Combine the rhubarb, sugar, water, and vanilla bean seeds in a small saucepan. Bring to a low boil, stirring constantly to prevent sticking. Lower the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring often, until the rhubarb breaks down and the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let the mixture cool a bit.

3. Gently peel the meringue off the parchment. It might be a little sticky, and it might crack, but it’s okay—you’re going for total imperfection here. Lay the meringue on a serving plate and pour the rhubarb sauce overtop. Top with the crème fraiche hither and thither and pour the almonds over the whole mess of it. Cut into slices, or just put the plate in the center of the table and invite everyone to go for it.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 05/19/14 at 09:56 AM • Permalink