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Recipe: December Salad

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

This past weekend, at The Berkshire Grown Holiday market, I got to spend the morning with all the winter vegetables at the Indian Line Farm table. There were bags of greens that disappeared so fast even the mid-morning shoppers missed them, and bunches of kale so tender and sweet, it would be a shame to do anything other than eat them raw. But the basket of watermelon radishes was the star of the table, each radish smooth-skinned and round, with a faint green tinge to hide the secret inside.

“Radishes?” someone would ask. “What kind of radish is this?”

We’d pick up the little knife brought just for this purpose, whittle off a tiny wedge, and reveal the brilliant fuchsia innards.

If they’d never seen a watermelon radish before, there was always a gasp. (We do, after all, get used to the predictable colors of food, and the sunset burst within a simple radish can be nothing short of shocking.) But then, the taste! Crisp and mellow, with a hint of what I can only describe as “earth.” The watermelon radish is my favorite of all the radishes, and December is the month I like them best.

And how do I eat them? (This is, of course, the next question after the gasp and the taste.) If I’m so fortunate as to be throwing a party, I slice them thin into large moons, lay them on a plate, and sprinkle them with crunchy salt. It is the easiest and most beautiful starter there is. But if it’s just a regular old night in December (not that there are many of those), those radishes are the diva of my salad bowl. All the other winter salad greens sing backup, and then it’s all crisp bitter and sweetness, deep purple and pale green. This salad requires a few different bowls, but it’s worth the extra dishwashing, if only to get everything dressed just right.

December Salad
Serves 4 to 6

1 small celery root (5 to 6 ounces), cut of its outer skin and into ½-inch cubes
1 watermelon radish (5 to 6 ounces), halved and sliced thinly
¾ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons finely chopped shallot
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
10 cups loosely packed greens (any combination of butter lettuce, radicchio, arugula, or tender kale), torn into large bites
1 head endive, leaves separated and torn
Freshly ground pepper

1. Put the celery root in one small bowl, and the watermelon radish in another. Sprinkle each with ¼ teaspoon salt, toss to combine and set aside.

2. Combine the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt with the vinegar, shallot and mustard in a 1-cup jar. Let it sit for a few minutes to let the shallot pickle in the vinegar. Then add the olive oil, screw the lid on the jar, and give it a good shake to emulsify the dressing.

3. Toss the greens and endive with half the dressing in a large bowl, taking care to coat each leaf. Taste a leaf, and add more dressing if necessary. Then add a drizzle of dressing to the celery root and radish bowls, tossing to lightly coat. (Any leftover dressing can be saved in the fridge for your next salad.) Pile the dressed greens on a large platter or wide bowl. Add the celery root and radish. Top with lots of freshly ground pepper.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 12/15/14 at 09:32 AM • Permalink

Recipe: Perfecto Meatballs

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 poor meatball. So often relegated to childrens’ menus and questionable smorgasbords at discount furniture chains, the meatball is rarely given a real chance to shine. But we know the truth – that with the right ingredients and a little respect, meatballs can be complex, delicate, immensely satisfying and borderline elegant.

Clearly, we are a family of meatball enthusiasts, from Middle Eastern kofta, heavy with green herbs and deep spices to dreamy Swedish köttbullar, smothered in peppery cream sauce. And, of course, there’s the classic Italian-American; three meats, breadcrumbs, and some parmesan, all rolled into a covetable package. Jake has perfected his version which, when sauteed in just enough butter (a lot), and finished off in a pan of saucy tomatoes, manages to couple a toothsome crust and a melt-in-your-mouth center. Poured over a bowl of bucatini or creamy polenta, this classic peasant dish will make you feel like well-fed royalty.


Perfecto Meatballs

Make the meatballs:
½ cup milk
½ cup bread crumbs
2 eggs
2 tbsp parmesan
½ lb veal
½ lb beef
½ lb hot Italian pork sausage
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter

1. Combine milk and bread crumbs in a small bowl until the all of the milk is absorbed.

2. In a large bowl, use your hands to mix the three meats with the eggs, parmesan, and bread and milk mixture. Make sure it is well blended but don’t over mix, as the meatballs will lose their fluffiness.

3. Place a large saute pan on high heat with the oil and butter.

4. Form the meat mixture into 1.5 – 2 inch rounds, and brown in small batches. Do not overcrowd pan.

5. Brown meatballs until they have a deep brown crusty exterior, a couple minutes on each side. One whole batch should take about 5-7 minutes – the balls don’t need to be 100 percent cooked at this point. When done, put meatballs aside.

Make the sauce:
(2) 28 oz. cans of whole peeled tomatoes
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped

1. Using the drippings from the meatballs, saute the onions and garlic in the same pan until translucent, about 5 minutes.

2. Add tomatoes, roughly crushing each tomato with your hand or a large wooden spoon.

3. Bring sauce to a boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Add the meatballs back into the sauce and cook for another 15 minutes.

5. Pour over pasta or polenta and serve with some grated parmesan and pepper.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 12/07/14 at 11:03 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Caramelized Cabbage Soup

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

I’m going to tell you a secret.

Next fall, when (I hope) you flip through the pages of my new book, you’ll see a photo of me in my spring garden. It looks just as it should: dark, compost-rich beds hold hundreds of little seedlings. The rhubarb is up and ready to be picked for pie, but everything else is tiny, green, and full of promise. It looks like I’ve planned well and planted a garden that will feed my family through the season.

At least, that’s how it looks.

This is what’s really going on in that picture: under deadline, crazed, and three days away from the first day of photos, I asked my friend and boss Elizabeth over at Indian Line Farm for help. I knew we were taking a garden shot, and at that point, all that was growing in my neglected garden was thistle and last year’s rotten kale. Always kind and helpful, she pulled out a few flats of seedlings that had been forgotten and so drooped a bit. She told me they’d perk up enough in the ground to at least get my photo.

“I’m pretty sure these are all cabbage,” she told me. I was so grateful for the seedlings, I didn’t care what they were. I figured I’d get my shot, and then I’d start again with the real garden I was planning for the year. Of course, that never happened, and that’s how we’ve come to know 2014 as the year of the cabbage.

The variety Elizabeth gave me is called “tender sweet.” It is indeed both tender and sweet, and throughout the late summer and fall, we’ve eaten it in every form and recipe possible. I have a new appreciation for the cabbage, and I must admit I love it more than ever.

This recipe is one of my favorite new cabbage discoveries. I caramelize the cabbage as if it were onions, add a rich broth, and top it with cheese-y toasts. It’s sweeter and heartier than onion soup, and it’s even turned a few people who thought they didn’t like cabbage into big cabbage enthusiasts.

Caramelized Cabbage Soup
Serves 6 to 8

For the soup:
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
10 cups finely sliced green cabbage (from about 3 pounds)
1 medium onion, finely sliced
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 quarts chicken or beef stock
1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
Salt and pepper to taste

For the toasts:
½ stale baguette, thinly sliced
½ cup grated parmesan or gruyere cheese

1. Make the soup: Melt the butter over medium heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the cabbage and onion and cook, stirring often, until the cabbage wilts, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is golden and shrinks by at least half, 45 minutes to an hour.

2. Add the thyme and cook for a few more minutes. Pour the stock into the pot, bring to a low boil, reduce the heat back to medium low, and cover the pot. Cook for 10 minutes. Add the soy sauce and salt and pepper.

3. While the soup cooks, make the toasts: Spread the bread slices on a baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with the cheese. Keeping a close eye on the toasts, broil until the cheese melts, 1 to 2 minutes.

Serve in big bowls, with a few toasts floating in each one.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 12/01/14 at 09:16 AM • Permalink

Recipe: Pork Shoulder Roast

This week, we asked Jeremy Stanton, owner of The Meat Market in Great Barrington, if we could borrow one of his recipes. It looked like just the thing you’d want to serve at a big holiday dinner, and if anyone knows how to prepare a pork shoulder roast, it would be Jeremy, who also owns Fire Roasted Catering.

I thought I’d fill you in on a great, super easy way to roast pork shoulder. Generally considered a braising cut, the shoulder has, in this writer’s opinion, the finest quality pork in the whole animal: the meat is richly marbled, savory and sweet, and the fat — which surrounds the meat in unctuous rivers — is round, rich, and forgiving. Pork shoulder generally comes in two sections: the lower half or ‘picnic,’ which is comprised of the short rib bones; the brisket section and the beginning of the forefoot; and the upper half, collar or ‘butt,’ which is comprised of the spinal muscles and the beginning of the neck. The pork butt is the finer of the two sections, and recommended for the following recipe. This recipe is incredibly easy, and requires little skill other than patience.


Ingredients:

4 lbs. pork butt, skinless (boneless is up to you: bones make for potentially easier cooking, but more knife-work when serving)
Salt and pepper
4 cloves garlic and a handful of herbs of your choice, preferably fresh (I used parsley and sage)
Grapeseed oil (olive also works, but grapeseed has a higher smoke point)
Foil, thermometer, roasting dish, frying pan


How To Do It:

Mince your garlic, chop your herbs, and combine with salt, pepper, and oil in a bowl. Rub your mixture all over the pork butt. Let sit until pork is at room temperature, if you took it out of the fridge. The longer it sits, the better.

Place pork butt in an oven-ready dish, cover with foil, and place in oven at 300 F. Check the pork at 2 hours with your thermometer. If it’s at 180 degrees internally, lower the oven to 200 F and keep it in for another hour. If not, keep the same temperature.

When the pork is fork-tender, remove pork from the dish, and pour out the collected juices, which can be saved to make a wonderful reduction or mixed into soups, sauces, or salsas.

Heat a pan on the range (you can also turn your oven up to 450 F, but I think the pan provides a nicer crusting effect) and, when hot, fry the pork for about 4 minutes per side. Be careful, as the oil will sizzle considerably.

Once your crust is as you like, remove and let sit at least five minutes before serving. 

That’s it! Now, the lower the temperature the oven, the better the pork will be, but the longer it will take. I recommend starting with 300 F because it will keep the cooking time relatively short (about 3.5 hours, all told), but if you have an afternoon to kill, keep the oven at 250 and you’ll have an even more tender treat!

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Posted by Lisa Green on 11/24/14 at 10:10 AM • Permalink

Recipe: Coco Rochers

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

I have been to Paris twice.

I was eighteen, just starting out on a few months of wandering. I met up with a friend from high school who was studying in London, and we spent the week exploring the city. We had so little money between us, but I was optimistic that Paris (Paris!) would show us her riches anyway. We succeeded in finding what I’m sure was the most disgusting hotel room in Paris, but every day we set off early, roaming the neighborhoods and just feeling happy to be there. We lived off of canned tuna, baguettes, and one carefully chosen pastry every day. It was cold and rainy, and we skipped everything that cost money, which was mostly everything. At night, I went to sleep listening to the creaky beds and tiny rodents all around me, and I dreamed of the next day’s pain au chocolat. Those pastries never failed to live up to my expectations.

Three months later, I was back. I was at the end of my trip, and this time I met up with another friend who had come to visit for the week. We stayed in her friend’s 5th floor apartment. It had a tiny elevator that seemed to be on its last trip every time, and there was a bathtub in the kitchen. Knowing I was on my way home, I spent every penny I had. We drank cheap and delicious wine from the wine store on the corner, ate fries and perfect steak whenever we were hungry, and spent our extra change making funny faces in the photo booths in every metro station. And this time, I allowed myself an unlimited pastry budget. That week, I ate sweets that would spoil me forever. And although I have faint slivers of memories of the city, it’s the sweets that filled each bakery case that really stayed with me.

I know better than to attempt to recreate most of them. But every so often, a book comes along that gives me the courage to try. Dorie Greenspan’s warm and beautiful new book, Baking Chez Moi, has done just that, and the fact that its focus is mostly the sweets of Paris home kitchens is just perfect for me. I haven’t been back to Paris since then, but spending time with this book has helped me travel just a little bit, if only through butter and flour and the smells in my kitchen.

This cookie might just be the simplest in the book, and I know it’s going to become a staple recipe for me. It produces a simple and light coconut macaroon, quite similar to the Jennie’s Macaroons my family loves. They’re fancy enough to serve with dessert, but basic and not-so-sweet enough that they’re perfect for lunchboxes, too.

Dorie Greenspan’s Coco Rochers
From Dorie Greenspan‘s Baking Chez Moi
Makes about 30 cookies

2½ cups unsweetened shredded coconut
4 large egg whites
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Stir together the coconut, egg whites, and sugar in a medium saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium-low heat, until the mixture is hot to the touch, 7 to 10 minutes. The goal, as Dorie explains, is to fully heat the mixture without coloring the coconut.

Scrape the mixture into a heat-proof bowl, stir in the vanilla, and press a piece of plastic over the dough. Chill for several hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Stack two baking sheets one on top of the other. (This prevents the bottom of the cookies from burning.) Line the top baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Scoop out about 2 teaspoons of dough at a time, packing it firmly into a spoon or cookie scoop before releasing it onto the sheet. Leave about ½ inch between the cookies. Bake until the cookies are lightly golden and a bit firm to the touch, 20 to 25 minutes. They’ll firm up as they cool, too.

Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 11/17/14 at 10:19 AM • Permalink

Recipe: Applesauce Cake With Caramel Glaze

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.

Lately, it seems like the question on everyone’s mind is: what are we going to do with all of these (enter produce name here)? You see, that’s the blessing and the curse of eating seasonally. When it’s ready, it’s ready. You don’t get it all year round, and you know you won’t get it again for another year, so you really go bananas while you can. You buy it in bulk, or maybe you even go out and pluck it off your own backyard plants. You spend your weekends at Pick You Own farms throughout the county, and bring home bushels. You serve it at every meal, sneaking it into recipes left and right. And then you freeze, jam and pickle it, until you feel like you’ve done the season’s bounty justice, or your feet give out, whichever comes first.

So that’s about where we stand with apples. Step into our kitchen and you’ll drown in bags, boxes, and bowls full up with apples. We pied and crisped them, we baked and sauteed them. We chomped them raw until we could chomp no more. And here we are, asking that age-old question: what are we going to do with all of these apples? The easy answer is applesauce, and it’s a good one… but don’t be surprised when the question comes round again, and quickly.

What are we going to make with all this applesauce? Applesauce cake, of course! This cake is the easiest you’ll make all season, and perhaps one of the tastiest. We just recently added it to our repertoire and were immediately hooked – no surprise as it comes from one of our favorite food writers, Merrill Stubbs. It’s got all the deep flavor your could hope for in a fall dessert, with the light springy texture of an oil cake. And that caramel glaze? Well, you’ll just have to make it and see.

Applesauce Cake with Caramel Glaze
from Food 52

For the cake:
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the caramel glaze:
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar


Make the cake:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 and butter and flour a Bundt pan.

2. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, pepper and spices and set to the side.

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs with both sugars until light and aerated. Mix in the applesauce, oil and vanilla until smooth. Using a spatula, fold in the dry ingredients, until just mixed.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

5. Cool the cake for 10 minutes in the pan then turn out on a rack until room temperature.


Make the glaze:

1. Put the butter in a medium saucepan with the brown sugar, cream and salt and cook over medium heat until at a full boil, stirring constantly. Continue to boil for one minute exactly, and then remove from heat.

2. Let the mixture cool a couple minutes, then gradually whisk in the powdered sugar until thick, but still pourable.

3. Pour the glaze over the cake slowly and let set before serving.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 11/10/14 at 11:08 AM • Permalink

Recipe: Beet Hummus

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

I always feel grateful when the weather dresses like the season. I suppose that’s one thing that makes me a good New Englander because I: a) like the seasons (all of them!), and I’m happy when they feel just like my memories dictate they should and b) am more at ease when things are just as they should be—warm in the summer, cold in the winter, pretty in the autumn, and muddy in the spring.

This past weekend obliged in all the right ways. Friday night, still October after all, was just warm enough that we didn’t have to bundle the kids over their Halloween costumes. We wandered up and down and around the streets of the hill neighborhood in Great Barrington, all of us happy for the excuse to take over the street for a night. No matter where we pushed through the dark, the same kids in great costumes kept reappearing, as if we all had the same wandering path. The kid in the toilet costume. The stealthy and tiny grim reaper who ran from house to house. And the Elsas! So many frosty Elsas, each shining and sparkling in their own way.

And perhaps all those tiny Elsas brought the weather. Because the next day, the cold blew in, and it rattled against the windows to announce November. I pulled out the winter coats, I put away the flip-flops, there—right on schedule outside the supermarket—were the “holiday logs” alongside the rest of the pumpkins.

I’m ready. I’m ready to start talking about Thanksgiving and holiday gifts and cocktails that come in a mug. But today, lets talk about a vegetable that’s sweet, versatile, and plentiful right now: the amazing beet.

The most traditionally tasty way to cook a beet is to roast it, and although I travel from that path with success now and then, I always come back to roasting. I always recommend roasting a few bunches at a time, because a jar of roasted beets in your fridge will keep for nearly a week, and if you have them ready to go they’ll find their way into salads, pasta dishes, and spreads. If I’m roasting something else in the oven, I’ll often put beets in there too, just to make the most of the oven space. To roast beets, cut off the greens so there is about an inch of stem attached to each beet. (Save the greens, and sauté or steam them or add them to soup like any other hearty green.) Wash the beets, and put them in a baking dish with about an inch of water. Cover the dish tightly, either with a lid to the dish or aluminum foil, and roast at 375°F until the beets are tender when pricked with a fork. This will take between 45 minutes and 90 minutes, depending on the size of your beets. Then remove the pan from the oven, let the beets cool, and slip them right out of their skins.

This beet hummus has been my new favorite way to use roasted beets. It’s more beets than chickpeas, so it’s a great way to eat more beets. The recipe comes from David Lebovitz’s new book, My Paris Kitchen. It’s a gorgeous book (very holiday giftworthy, if you’re on the prowl for gifty cookbooks), and I’ve been happily cooking, reading, and dreaming of Paris with it ever since it came out in the spring. But this hummus in particular has been a revelation around here—everyone loves it. Don’t leave out the pomegranate molasses. It’s essential. And it’s inexpensive, easy to find (in my neck of the woods you can get it at Guido’s or Locke, Stock & Barrel), and it’s a useful ingredient for all sorts of dressings and marinades.

Beet Hummus
From David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen

12 ounces cooked, peeled and diced beets (you can use red or golden beets, but red will make the hummus a great color)
2/3 cup cooked, drained chickpeas
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
6 tablespoons tahini
2 teaspoons salt, plus more if needed
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more if needed
generous pinch of cayenne pepper or smoked chile powder
1½ tablespoons pomegranate molasses

1. Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fit with the chopping blade and process until nearly smooth. Taste, and adjust salt or lemon if needed. Store in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days, or freeze for up to 6 months.

 

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 11/03/14 at 12:06 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Pappardelle With Ricotta And Squash

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

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

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


Pappardelle with Ricotta & Squash

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

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

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

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

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

Recipe: Apple Ricotta Tartine

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

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

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

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

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

Apple Ricotta Tartine
Serves 1 to 2

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

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

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

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

Recipe: Braised Red Cabbage With Apple

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

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

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

Braised Red Cabbage with Apple

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

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

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

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

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

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

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