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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

Recipe: Pumpkin Muffins

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

Happy Pumpkin Spice season!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recipe: Apple Raspberry Clafouti

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recipe: Any Green Pesto

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

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

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

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

Any Green Pesto

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

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

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

Recipe: Chicken In 40 Cloves

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

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

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

Chicken in 40 Cloves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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