Category Archives: side dishes

Best Veggie Sides for Thanksgiving, Revisited!

DSC_2822_01Here I go again reposting–so sorry, but once again, no time to create some new recipes for you for Thanksgiving, and time is flying. (And,  of course, the new book recipes are TOP SECRET…just kidding, I’ll start posting a few of those as pub date nears.) Anyway, I thought you’d appreciate a reminder of some of these amazing veggie side dish recipes on sixburnersue, so here goes. So while, yes, you’ll recognize most on this list, if you’re like me, you may have forgotten some. Reminders aren’t all bad!

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday with dear friends and delicious food.

Okay, here are our favorites from past Thanksgivings.

1. Crispy Smashed Potatoes (photo above)

2. Roasted Butternut Squash with Cranberry-Ginger Butter and Toasted Walnuts.

3. Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Orange Butter Sauce

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4. Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes with Roasted Garlic

5. Thanksgiving Gratin of Butternut, Corn, Squash & Leeks

6. Potato Galette with Fresh Rosemary & Two Cheeses

RoastedBeetJewelsPg.2057. Roasted Beet Jewels with Cranberries, Pecans & Balsamic Butter

8. Roasted Turnips & Pears with a Rosemary Honey Drizzle

9. Potato Gratin with Gruyere, Thyme & Horseradish

10. Caramelized Turnips, Potatoes, & Carrots with Onions & Thyme

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Deviled Eggs and Popovers, Bread Pudding and Frittata Recipes–Happy Easter Eggs!

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With hundreds of chickens (how many exactly, we’re not sure, as witnessed by a heated argument last night about this statistic), Easter eggs take on kind of a special importance around here. I started my day off washing eggs, and Roy will wash more when he gets home. The farm stand will be busy all weekend, with lots of seasonal residents on Island and, of course, eggs on everyone’s mind.

So since we’re busy here today, I am doing a quick round-up of some of my favorite egg recipes on Sixburnersue.com, and also giving you, right here, our farm recipe for deviled eggs, which happens to feature a yummy spinach-basil pesto recipe. (Recipe is from Fresh From the Farm: A Year of Recipes and Stories.) I hope you have a joyful—and delicious—Easter weekend. (And, oh, we have somewhere between 400 and 500 chickens, with 200 more on the way…we think.)

Here are my family’s favorite, popovers.

Here’s a nice asparagus bread pudding for a crowd.

Here’s a lovely leek, spinach, thyme, and gruyere frittata with more egg ideas, and here’s another delicious frittata with fingerling potatoes and goat cheese. 

And one of my very favorites–the Green Island Farm egg sandwich.

And here are those delicious deviled eggs:

Deviled Eggs with Spinach, Basil & Toasted Pine Nut Pesto  

Recipe copyright Susie Middleton, from Fresh From the Farm (Taunton Press, 2014) Photo at top by Alexandra Grablewski.

Even if you don’t live with 557 hens and a man who’d be happy eating meat loaf and deviled eggs every day, you should still have a great recipe for deviled eggs in your repertoire. Our favorite version goes green (and tasty) with a little Spinach, Basil & Toasted Pine Nut Pesto (recipe below) and a touch of lemon zest. No fancy piping required, though we do like to garnish with a tiny basil leaf and a pine nut. Wait to garnish until just before serving.

Makes 12 deviled eggs

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6 Hard-Cooked Eggs (see note below), peeled and sliced in half lengthwise

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 1/2 teaspoons Spinach, Basil & Toasted Pine Nut Pesto (recipe below), drained of excess olive oil

1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

12 tiny fresh basil leaves, for garnish

12 whole toasted pine nuts, for garnish

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Gently scoop or squeeze out the yolk from each egg half. Arrange the whites on a plate.

In a small bowl, mash together the yolks, mayonnaise, pesto, lemon juice, lemon zest, a pinch of salt, and several grinds of fresh pepper until you get a smooth, pale-green filling. (I use a small silicone spatula.) Using a small spoon or mini spatula, spoon or dollop the mixture evenly back into the egg white halves. (I like to let the mixture sort of fall off the spoon, but do whatever works for you!)

Garnish each half with a basil leaf and a pine nut.

 

Spinach, Basil & Toasted Pine Nut Pesto

Recipe copyright Susie Middleton, from Fresh From the Farm (Taunton Press, 2014)

Lovely green spinach leaves are my inspiration for a greener basil pesto.    Together with toasted pine nuts and lots of Parmigiano, they make a delicious, versatile sauce, which I use not only in deviled eggs, but over grilled veggies, in vinaigrettes, and even as a burger mix-in. Don’t forget to toast the pine nuts before you make the pesto.

Yields 1 1/3 cup 

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1 large clove garlic

1 1/2 cups packed fresh baby spinach leaves

1 1/2 cups packed fresh basil leaves

1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil; more if needed

1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

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In the bowl of a food processor, process the garlic clove until it is minced. Add the spinach, basil, pine nuts, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary, until finely chopped. Add the Parmigiano, 1/4 teaspoon salt, several grinds of fresh black pepper, and the lemon juice and process until well-combined. With the motor running, gradually pour the remaining olive oil through the feed tube and process until you get a nice smooth pesto. If the pesto is too stiff, add a bit more olive oil, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you get the right consistency.

 

To Hard-Cook Eggs: To cook eggs for salads or to use as deviled eggs, put them in a saucepan wide enough to hold them in one layer and cover them cold water (that comes up an inch over the eggs). Bring the water to a slow boil over medium-high heat and once the water is boiling, immediately remove the pan from the heat. Cover the pan and steep the eggs for 12 minutes. Carefully drain off the hot water and run cold water over the eggs until they are cool to the touch. (Or plunge into an ice-bath.) Refrigerate until completely chilled before peeling.

 

Pea Shoots, Blue Skies & Crispy Potatoes

DSC_0105Just to add some levity to this already hilarious February (More snow tomorrow! Then rain! Then ice! Then a deep freeze again! Hurrah!), I am currently developing recipes for asparagus and crookneck summer squash. Yes, ‘tis the season for out-of-season recipe development. On the bright side, at least it isn’t fresh basil or beefsteak tomatoes.

I have total sympathy for magazine editors, having nearly pulled all of my hair out trying to get the magazine I edited to produce its stories a year in advance so that recipes could be developed in season. Sometimes, it just isn’t possible. So when I am asked to work on recipes out of season, I oblige.

When duty calls, I saddle up my cheery red Honda and head out for the round-the-Island grocery-store crawl, hoping by hitting every store we have out here, I’ll manage to scare up what I need. Booking a ferry passage to drive to a Whole Foods or some other bigger grocery store is not in the budget.

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Yesterday, Farmer and I were pretty happy to get out of the house and go for a drive. Farmer loves a car ride, because usually it involves a trip to either the bank, the dump, or the gas station, all of which hand out biscuits to doggies. None of that yesterday, but plenty of opportunities to sniff the sea air as we made a point to take the route past both State Beach and Vineyard Haven harbor to see the frozen sea water. The sky was a joyous deep blue, and a reminder that summer will come eventually.

I found just about everything I needed, plus I stumbled upon something beautiful—something truly fresh, grown right here on the Island, in the month of February, no less! Fresh pea shoots.

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HoM_Poster_Pea-Shoots_February_2015_WEB-291x450When I saw them, I remembered that Island Grown Schools, which highlights a different vegetable or crop every month in its “harvest of the month” series, had chosen pea shoots for February. The “harvest of the month” series is a great way to introduce kids to different fresh foods and to bring attention to how they are grown and the best ways to cook them.

DSC_0022This month, the spotlight was on farmer Lloyd Hart, who has created a successful micro-green business on the Island called Martha’s Vineyard Organics. In addition to pea shoots, he grows all kinds of micro-greens (from arugula and kale to sunflower and spicy mixes) year-round in his greenhouse.

I snapped up the pea shoots, thinking it would be fun to develop a recipe with them in honor of  “harvest of the month”—even though tomorrow is March 1, and we’ll be on to a new crop! When Farmer and I got home, I eagerly tasted the shoots, and they were delicious, with that familiar nutty, sweet flavor of the peas I’m hoping to get planted myself in less than a month (yikes).

I didn’t have to think long about how I wanted to use the shoots. Thinking lofty and lovely, I envisioned a pile of them on top of something crispy, yet sturdy—something that would act as a kind of edible platform for the shoots and that would also offer textural contrast. My Crispy Smashed Potatoes (always a hit) jumped to mind and I thought of avocado as a bridge between the potato and pea flavors. My avocadoes turned out to be under-ripe, though, so I used a little guacamole instead—and added a dollop of my simple limey dipping sauce.

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Farmer sighed audibly with approval when he began to smell the potatoes roasting.

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Once we had all our components together, we plated up our lunch, and an extra platter for Roy to have when he got home.

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I decided to finish the whole thing off with a sprinkling of my favorite Martha’s Vineyard Sea Salt—another uber-local product from my hard-working friends Heidi Feldman and Curtis Friedman.

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Being on a frozen island in the winter does have its limitations. But it never ceases to amaze me how hard everyone works to make the most of it all, and to keep the good stuff coming year ‘round out here. It almost makes February bearable. Almost.

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A Recipe for Sunshine: Roasted Golden Beet Jewels with Clementine Butter

DSC_0137Thursday morning I managed to get out of the house for a coffee date, before it started snowing—again. I detoured on the way home (despite big fat furry flakes already falling from the sky) to go into the “big” grocery store down-Island. I headed for the produce department and went straight for the brightest looking thing I could find, which happened to be orange beets. I still have some Clementines at home, I thought. I’ll make sunshine: Yellow + Orange.

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My apologies for still being citrus- and color- obsessed. When I first wrote about the snow (specifically, chicken farming in the snow) three weeks ago, I had no idea we had four storms and below-zero windchills just ahead of us. Not that cold isn’t invigorating and grey skies aren’t interesting. In fact the color of the sky is fascinating; one minute it looks like a collection of dull dust bunnies, the next it’s a deep tarnished pewter platter, and then it turns blank, like a nearly colorless piece of cheap copy paper. But sunshine is scarce. And it does get to you after a while.

scale 2Back at home, I pulled up my Beet Jewel recipe from Fresh from the Farm and decided to tweak a  a little variation with golden beets, almonds, Clementine juice and zest, and a touch of vanilla.

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I zested my clementine and then squeezed a bit of juice out of one half.

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Then I sliced my beets (no peeling necessary) into slices about 1/2-inch thick. I used a piece of brown paper to protect the board from beet stains, but the yellow beets really don’t stain like the red ones do.

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Then I cut the slices into 1/2-inch cubes, tossed them with oil and salt, and spread them out on parchment-lined sheet pans.

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I roasted them for about 25 minutes at 450°F, until browned and tender.

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Then I dressed them with the clementine butter, and took pictures, of course.

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And then I ate my beets, standing up, looking out the kitchen window at the giant icicles dripping off the mudroom gutters, growing longer every day, like Pinocchio’s nose.

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I watched Roy pull the chicken feed bags down to the coops on a sled. (We can’t get the truck down to the feed shed, so the bags have to be carried down one at a time, or loaded on to the sled, two at a time. We have a little toboggan run through the deep snow that both the sled and Farmer will charge right down.)

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And I watched for egg customers in the driveway so that I could run eggs out to them (too cold to keep the eggs in the farm stand fridge). It was sort of an egg drive-thru (no French fries or milkshakes, though).

Kind of fun, really; but, hey, fun has its limits.

Apparently a mix of sleet, snow, freezing rain, and ice is next on the docket. Whatever.

DSC_0128Golden Beet “Jewels” with Cranberries, Almonds & Clementine Butter

You’ll love this method for cooking beets—no peeling necessary, and the small-diced beets cook in only 25 minutes. If you don’t have clementines, try a mix of orange and lemon zest and juice. You can also replace the honey with maple syrup, and use whatever nut you like.

Serves 3 to 4

 

1 1⁄2 pounds golden beets topped and tailed but not peeled

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil

Kosher salt

1 tablespoon fresh clementine juice

(scant) ½ teaspoon fresh clementine zest

2 teaspoons local honey

1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar

½ teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces and chilled

1⁄4 cup very finely chopped dried cranberries

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1⁄3 cup toasted sliced almonds, lightly crushed

Small fresh parsley leaves, for garnish

Heat the oven to 450°F. Cover two heavy-duty sheet pans with parchment paper. Cut the beets into medium-small dice (no more than about 1⁄2 inch) and toss with the olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Transfer to the sheet pans, and spread in one layer. Roast until the beets are tender and shrunken, about 25 minutes. (Rotate the baking sheets to opposite racks halfway through cooking for more even cooking.) Transfer to a mixing bowl.

Put the clementine juice and zest, the honey, and the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir or whisk until the honey is dissolved and the mixture is hot (it may be steaming but it should not boil), 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately add the vanilla and the cold butter. Swirl the pan until the butter is melted and the sauce is slightly creamy. Add the cranberries and thyme and stir. Pour and scrape the butter with the cranberries over the roasted beets and mix and toss gently. Add most of the almonds and stir gently again. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the remaining nuts and the parsley.

 

 

 

Slow-Sautéed Green Beans, Before The Frost Comes

DSC_3498We’re in between the color and the cold right now.

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But no frost yet. So we still have flowers. Round two or three or four on the self-seeding calendulas.

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And we still have green beans. Yay. Rattlesnake pole beans. Double yay. Lucky we are that the trellis hasn’t blown over in this Nor ‘Easter whiffling past. But even if it had, I’d be out there picking through the vines on the ground.

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I can’t pick every day now, though, because the plants are flowering less and yielding less beans. It’s not efficient to spend time going up and down the row, squatting up and down to check every vine, if you’re not going to come away with much.

photo-116So when I do pick, some of the beans tend to be on the larger side. If they are really getting fat, I leave them, because the Rattlesnakes will eventually yield edible seeds. Some of them (see photo at right) are already plump and podding.

But if they are just a little bit beyond the filet-ish stage, I have my excuse for a slow-sauté. Every year I talk about slow-sautéed green beans on Sixburnersue. (Sorry.) I love the technique because it brings out the nutty, earthy, satisfying side of green beans, while adding the delicious side notes of aromatic veggies and herbs that cook in the pan, too. And though it certainly isn’t required, a bit of bacon, ham, or pancetta in the pan never hurts.

Last night I made a vegetarian version of one of these sautés with the Rattlesnakes, some shisito peppers, and shallots, and served it over polenta. But because my good camera is malfunctioning (it needs to be cleaned, but my car is also malfunctioning so getting to the camera shop is going to be tricky!), I don’t have a nice photo of the dish to show you. It is probably just as well, because while these beans are delicious, they aren’t the prettiest.

Of course, because I love the technique so much, I had to include it in Fresh from the Farm: A Year of Recipes and Stories. So I thought I’d share that recipe (Slow Sauteed Green Beans with Shiitakes and Prosciutto) with you here, even though when I wrote it we were growing Kentucky Wonder and Fortex pole green beans, not Rattlesnakes. Now that I’ve discovered Rattlesnakes, there’s no going back. But any green bean (pole or bush), as long as it isn’t too thin, will work here.  Get out your skillet and go for it.

Slow-Sautéed Green Beans with Shiitakes and Prosciutto

Recipe copyright Susie Middleton from Fresh From the Farm: A Year of Recipes and Stories.

You won’t believe how crowded the pan is when you first load it up with all these veggies; but with this terrific (and straightforward) technique, the veggies will slowly soften, brown, and shrink into a delicious and tender tangle of deep flavor. The browning will start happening fast in the second half of cooking, but don’t jump the gun and stop the cooking too soon. Just stir more frequently and really let everything get a deep brown color for the most lovely flavor.

 Serves 4

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2 teaspoons maple syrup

2 teaspoons sherry or white balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound green beans, trimmed

7 to 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and halved (or quartered if large)

8 cloves garlic, peeled and halved

2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, torn into small (1- to 2-inch) pieces

4 medium sprigs fresh rosemary

Kosher salt

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In a small bowl, combine the maple syrup and vinegar.

In a large (12-inch) nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the beans, mushrooms, garlic, prosciutto, rosemary, and 1 teaspoon salt. Toss well with tongs to coat. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until all the green beans have turned bright green, are beginning to turn brown, and have begun to lose their stiffness, 10 to 12 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring more frequently, until all the beans are very deeply browned (the mushrooms and garlic will be browned and tender, too), 15 to 17 more minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and taste a bean and a mushroom for salt. Season lightly if necessary (the mushrooms may have absorbed more of the salt). Stir in the maple-vinegar mixture. Remove the rosemary sprigs and transfer to a serving platter or plates. Eat right away.

How to Cook a Pattypan, A Shisito, A Fairy Tale, A Fingerling

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We’re growing a few fun and different veggies this year—in addition to the old favorites—just to keep things interesting. (Fun and different=Cute names, too!)

DSC_7426 The most beautiful? This Bel Fiore Radicchio.

The most trendy? Shisito peppers. Well, oops, apparently (according to this hysterical mock restaurant menu on Eater.com) this trend is now passé in certain circles, or at least ubiquitous, which is never a good thing. But for a market gardener, a cook, or an eater, Shisito peppers are a total win-win-win. The plants are prolific, the cooking is super easy—just toss with oil, cook in a hot cast-iron pan or in a grill basket until blistered (a few minutes), and season with sea salt. Eat the whole thing—absolutely delicious. Summer-crowd appetizer friendly, too.

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The most colorful?

photo-77photo-76 Our crazy collection of eggplants, including new additions Orient Charm (the lavender beauty) and Hansel and Gretel (the mini purples and slim whites). The cute little Fairy Tales are still new to many shoppers, and I do get some questions about how to cook them. (Hopefully I can write a full blog on eggplants before the summer’s out—most of the slim eggplants are really interchangeable, though Fairy Tale most definitely has a creamier flesh than the others.)

photo-74 And yet despite these less familiar vegetables, it’s something kind of classic (it’s a squash after all!) that seems to confound people the most. Every single day, I put all the green zucchini and the yellow pattypan squash in a big basket together. And every single day the zucchini quickly sell out before the pattypans. The pattypans do have their admirers—our Sunburst variety is so cheery—and there are some shoppers that exclaim, “Oh, my favorite!” and buy 5 or 6 at a time. But I finally realized it’s the shape that stumps many folks.

Because in reality, the texture of a pattypan is no different than a zucchini (as long as neither is overgrown) and you can dice or slice or grate or chop them both.  (The Sunburst pattypan, despite being yellow, does not have the seedy, watery texture of a crookneck or summer squash, but the firmer texture of a zucchini.) I think the flavor of a pattypan is actually a little sweeter than a zucchini.

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But when you look at a pattypan, especially a full-grown one, as opposed to the minis I’ve written about in the past (apparently my obsession with this subject has not waned), you do have to stop and think, now how am I going to cut this thing?

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DSC_7572Hence, my first suggestion: Slice it and roast it. Specifically, slice it North Pole to South Pole (not through the equator), with one of the Poles being the stem end. Slice it thinly, but not too thinly, brush or toss the pieces with oil and salt, and roast in a 425° degree oven until golden brown and tender, 18 to 20 minutes, turning over with tongs once if you like (see finished photo at top of blog). In the last few minutes, you can sprinkle with a mixture of bread crumbs, Parmigianno and parsley if you like (right). Serve as a sidedish with a squeeze of lemon. Or sandwich a bit of goat cheese between warm slices when they come out of the oven and drizzle with a black olive vinaigrette. (There’s a recipe for Grilled Antipasto of Green and Yellow Zucchini with Black Olive-Lemon Vinaigrette in Fresh from the Farm. You can also grill, rather than roast, the slices (just cut them a little thicker).

The slice shape also works just dandy in a vegetable gratin like this one—just replace the zucchini slices with the pattypans.

DSC_7721 For smaller pattypans, cutting them in wedges (as if you were cutting a pie) gives you nice chunky pieces to stir-fry, sauté, or cook in a grill basket on the grill.  As with any summer squash that contains a fair amount of moisture, using relatively high heat will brown up the vegetable before it has a chance to get mushy. Caramelization brings out the sweetness, too. (Find a stir-fry recipe here.)

Now for those of you who’ve been asking about cooking those little Fingerling potatoes, I’ve got a treat for you. Click here!

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Two Favorite Potato Salad Recipes for Fourth of July

DSC_6147Our potatoes aren’t quite ready to harvest yet (usually some are by the Fourth of July), but that hasn’t stopped me from making potato salad. Yesterday I made one of our favorite recipes from Fresh From the Farm. Well, definitely one of Roy’s favorites and I think it is pretty darn swell, too. It’s called Roy’s Almost-Classic Potato Salad with Farm Eggs, Celery & Crème Frâiche (photo above, recipe below). I like it because I’ve never really been a fan of mayonnaise-based potato salads, though I am well aware of how popular they are. Creating one of my own gave me a chance to freshen up the classic.

I start with Yukon Gold potatoes, and for the dressing, I cut the mayo with crème fraiche (sour cream is a fine sub), add plenty of lemon juice and lemon zest (plus the cider vinegar), a touch of ground coriander, and fresh parsley and chives. The hard-boiled eggs, celery, and onions are non-negotiable. The salad has a nice, light feel and a bright flavor.

 

IMG_8127_1photo-68But in case you’re not in the mood for the classic, I offer up another potato salad that I created for Fast, Fresh & Green. It’s called New Potato Salad with Fresh Peas, Lime, and Yogurt (photo directly above). It also has some mayonnaise in the dressing, but cut with Greek-style yogurt. I’ve been thinking of that salad while harvesting peas in the near-dark (yes, there are so darn many of them this year that we can hardly keep up with them). Once we eat all of Roy’s Classic, I think we’ll make this one, too, as I just love it. We’ll still have peas, and maybe our Red Gold taters will be ready to pull.

Hope you all have a wonderful Fourth of July holiday!

 

Roy’s Almost-Classic Potato Salad with Farm Eggs, Celery & Crème Frâiche  

DSC_6149Recipe copyright Susie Middleton, 2014, Fresh From the Farm: A Year of Recipes and Stories

Roy gives this salad two thumbs up. He said he’d give it three if he had an extra hand. He also says he likes it even better the second day, so make this ahead if you like. Feel free to substitute sour cream for the crème fraiche. You can loosen the sour cream a bit with just a touch of half ‘n half.

Serves 4 to 6

 

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces

Kosher salt

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup crème frâiche or sour cream

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cider vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

3/4 teaspoon ground coriander

3 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and sliced

2 long or 3 short stalks celery, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (3/4 cup)

1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced (a scant 1/2 cup)

2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons sliced fresh chives

Put the potatoes and 2 teaspoons of salt in a large saucepan and cover with plenty of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until just tender, or about 10 to 12 minutes. Drain carefully in a colander, rinse briefly with cool water, and spread on a clean dishtowel to cool to room temperature.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, crème frâiche, cider vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest, ground coriander, a pinch of salt, and several grinds of fresh pepper. Add the cooled potatoes, eggs, celery, onion, most of the parsley, and most of the chives. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon salt over all. With a silicone spatula, mix everything together until well combined, breaking the eggs apart as you mix. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with remaining parsley and chives. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

How DO You Cook Those Japanese Baby Turnips, Anyway?

DSC_5455bunch 2We are just coming to the end of our first-ever harvest of Tokyo turnips, aka Japanese baby turnips. They aren’t really babies, but they are really delicious and beautiful and tender and juicy. (The greens are delicate and tasty, too.) We’ve never grown them (or a similar variety called Hakurei that’s popular at farmers’ markets) before, so I am pretty darn excited that they did well, and I can’t wait to grow more. I’m sure our cool weather helped, so I probably won’t seed again until fall.

It’s unusual for me to sell a vegetable at the farm stand that I haven’t cooked with much. And while I could certainly guess by the juicy raw texture and flavor that both minimal cooking (steaming, quick-braising, glazing) and browning (roasting, sautéing and stir-frying) would probably work with these, I couldn’t quickly reference one of my own recipes to help people cook them.

photo-64Fortunately, many of our farm stand customers are adventurous and competent cooks, so several of them forged ahead without me! One woman found a recipe for a nice sauté with potatoes in my fellow Island cookbook author friend Cathy Walther’s Greens, Glorious Greens, and on FaceBook, another cookbook author friend, Diane Morgan, suggested finishing a sauté with miso butter. I don’t have Cathy’s Greens book, though I know it’s a classic and well worth checking out, but I do have Diane’s award-winning Roots, and I can tell you there are more than a few really delicious recipes for turnip dishes in it, including one called Kashmiri-Style Turnips with Greens that led me to think I wasn’t crazy to want to pair cilantro (and ginger) with the baby turnips. The cilantro is flourishing in the cool spring garden, alongside the turnip bed.

Today (thank God for the rain!) I finally got a chance to mess around with the Japanese turnips in the kitchen. Since we had sold all the good-sized and blemish-free roots at the farm stand, I was left with only teeny-tiny roots and some bigger damaged roots, so I had no choice but to cut everything about ½-inch in size. (That meant no cutting for the teeniest mini-marbles.) But I think I would favor that size anyway—or wedges if all my roots were similar sized—for the quickest cooking. I did both a quick par-boil and a quick sauté, adding the greens only briefly to wilt at the end in the sauté , and with lemon and butter, found that the baby turnips really do make a super-quick spring side dish.

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DSC_5233Then I indulged my desire to go Asian, and did a stir-fry with soba noodles—and ate the whole thing for lunch. (It would have served two easily with some grilled shrimp. Photos very top and below.) Originally I thought I might go all the way and turn it into an Asian noodle soup, as the greens would be so perfect for one of these. (And one small turnip—generally about 2 inches in diameter—has a lot of greens attached.) But I was afraid the turnip roots would get lost in the soup, so I kept it noodle-y. I’m including the recipe below in narrative form, as I wouldn’t want to give you a set-in-stone recipe without testing again with more uniform turnips and more exact proportions.

 

To make Soba Noodles with Stir-Fried Baby Turnips, Ginger & Cilantro: DSC_5470

Cook a handful of soba noodles separately in boiling water. (Follow the package directions, but shorten the cooking time a bit.) Drain and hold. Get out a non-stick stir-fry pan or a big non-stick sauté pan and heat just a couple teaspoons of vegetable oil (I used grapeseed oil) over medium heat. Add about a cup of diced baby turnip roots (trimmed) and a couple big pinches of kosher or sea salt. Cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add a teaspoon of chopped fresh ginger, one-half teaspoon of chopped garlic, about ¼ cup thickly sliced spring onions or scallions, and a couple tablespoons of quartered, sliced radishes. (If I’d had a small Serrano pepper, I would have added a bit of it, chopped, too.)

Stir, cooking, until fragrant and a bit softened. Add a half cup of chicken broth or other broth and about 2 cups torn, stemmed turnip greens. Stir until the greens are wilted. Add the soba noodles and stir well to combine. Add a mix of fresh lemon (or lime) juice and soy sauce (one-half to one teaspoon of each or to taste) and a tablespoon or more of torn fresh cilantro leaves. Stir, remove from the heat, transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with a bit more cilantro and some sliced spring onion or scallion green tops.  (Serves 1 or 2)

 

photo-66P.S. I almost completely forgot. The first thing I actually did with the baby turnips a few days ago was to add them to one of my slow-sautes with carrots and potatoes. I’d forgotten I had a few in the fridge, and cut them just as a i was starting to cook the potatoes and carrots. They cook a little more quickly than purple-topped turnips, so you can certainly use them deliciously in one of these, but I might add them half-way through cooking.

 

 

 

 

Super-Quick “Confetti” Greens + (Surprise!) Broccoli Leaves

DSC_4266Even if I do not, the hoop house loves this weather. Or I should say the hoop house greens do. They like the cold nights and the many daylight hours of fuzzy sunlight. “Fuzzy” means grey and overcast to me, so I am not so happy about it, especially because it is freakin’ windy here, and the daytime temps haven’t exactly been soaring, so working outside isn’t really pleasant.

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But the greens inside the hoop house don’t have to deal with the wind, and they prefer these overcast days to the super sunny ones when the house gets pot-boiling hot.

DSC_4177It did get hot a few days while I was away; I could tell because some of the greens bolted and flowered. I lopped off most of the flowers (including a few spent mini-broccoli heads) so that the greens could get their energy back and keep growing. In the process, I discovered that the flowers are delicious (especially the kale flowers), which I kept nibbling.

I’m not really sure, since I’ve never overwintered this many different kinds of greens in a hoop house, but I think the kale and collards may be flowering because the plants are aging and/or because of the day length, in addition to the heat.

But mostly, it has been cool and perfect for the greens, so the leaves are unbelievably tasty—nutty and sweet, not at all bitter. The broccoli leaves are my favorite—I can’t imagine why they aren’t sold in grocery stores or at farmers’ markets (maybe they are somewhere!). Harvested young and tender, they need absolutely no prep before tossing in the stir-fry pan.

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None of this I would have known if I hadn’t finally taken advantage of the hoop house to plant broccoli and collards, which I normally avoid due to the cabbage pests out in the garden.

But here’s the good news—you don’t have to have a garden or a hoop house to do what I’ve been doing with the greens lately: Cooking the quickest side dish in the history of Vegetables-Meet-Fire. The secret is simply rolling your leaves up and slicing them across very thinly with a sharp knife. The slicing takes care of any tough fibers and the resulting “ribbons” cook in a heartbeat. I’ve often done this with mature collards in the past, but you can do it with any leafy veg.

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To get started, you can follow the basic recipe that I wrote for Fast, Fresh & Green (and updated slightly), below. I often just go with garlic and red pepper flakes, so the vinegar/honey/parm combo is optional here. But you could try finishing with sesame oil, soy sauce and sesame seeds or with lemon and minced capers or olives—whatever you like.

The greens also make a nice bed for fish (or lamb—it is Easter I realize!), a good addition to pasta dishes or frittatas, a nice pizza or tart topping, and an interesting fold-in to mashed potatoes or slow-sauteed root veggies like carrots and turnips.

Speaking of Easter, if you need asparagus side dish ideas, click here for a my favorite braised asparagus recipe, here for a nice saute, and here for roasting and grilling directions. Oh, and here for a nice asparagus bread pudding brunch recipe and here for asparagus bisque!

DSC_4277Super-Quick Sautéed Greens,“Confetti”- Style

I love using my large nonstick stir-fry pan for this and for so many things, but a large nonstick skillet works fine. Just crank up the heat so that the greens cook very quickly.

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½ teaspoon sherry vinegar (optional)

½ teaspoon honey (optional)

½ large bunch collard greens, broccoli leaves or kale

1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable, peanut, grapeseed, or olive oil

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Big pinch crushed red pepper

½ teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste

Shaved or coarsely grated Parmigiano-Regianno (optional)

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Combine the sherry vinegar and honey in a small bowl (if using).

Remove the leaves from their stems by holding the stem with one hand and pulling the leaves away from it with the other. Rip the leaves completely in half lengthwise. You should yield about 4 ounces greens. Rinse the leaves and dry them well. Stack them up on top of each other, roll them up tightly cigar-style, and, using a very sharp knife, slice them across into very thin ribbons (about 1/8-inch wide).

In a large (12-inch) nonstick skillet or nonstick stir-fry pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic is softened and fragrant, 15 to 30 seconds. Add the sliced greens and the salt, and juke the heat up a bit so that the pan stays pretty hot. Cook, stirring to incorporate everything in the pan, until the greens turn bright green (at first) and then a darker green and are somewhat wilted, about 1 minute (do not cook much longer or they will begin to toughen). Remove the pan from the heat and taste. Stir in the vinegar/honey mixture if using, and serve right away, garnished with the Parmigiano if you like.

Serves 2

 

Hope for the Seedlings + Sixburnersue’s Best Cabbage Recipes for St. Patrick’s Day

seedling pic 2Yesterday I was hiding out in the hoop house, pretending that I didn’t have a long list of things to do before getting on a plane tomorrow. It was warm and bright and still inside, the air spritzed with the fine smell of damp potting soil. I could have stayed there for hours, futzing over the hundreds of little baby bok choy seedlings that have popped up in the last week.

We planted the bok choy seeds with the grand scheme of getting an early crop into our south-facing bed along the outside of the hoop house. Roy has been prepping the bed and installing hoops and a plastic cover to warm the soil up for planting. Bok choy can go into 50° soil and by using transplants, you can have a harvest in about a month after transplanting.

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Even though we have the hoop house now, it isn’t heated, so the nighttime temperatures are still pretty chilly in there. (The greens in the raised beds have covers over them.) So we had to germinate the bok choy seeds inside. First, I mixed up the seed starting soil (with water) and spread it in 72-hole flats in the hoop house. Then I carried the flats inside, planted the little tiny seeds, covered the flats with plastic tops, carried them upstairs, and arranged them over the floor of Libby’s bedroom. Then I shut the door to keep the room cool and to keep Barney out.

So you can see, we still do not have a very sophisticated system of seed starting. And, by the way, though Libby’s room was the perfect temperature, and the seeds germinated very evenly, Barney did get in there more than once and pounced on the plastic tops. I think he got in because Farmer nosed the bedroom door open, thinking Libby might be in there.

Still, we’ll call that part successful. However, we’ve then had to carry the flats down to the hoop house every morning—and then back every night. The seedlings grow straight and sturdy in the gauzy overhead sunlight of the hoop house, so you want them there during the day. (Without adequate direct light, seedlings grow leggy and sideways, as most of you probably know. ) And very soon we’ll be able to just pop the plastic tops back on at night and leave them in there. But right now, because of this ridiculous weather (50° yesterday, 25° and snowing today) the flats have to go back inside the house at night. Argh!!

bok choy Collage

Anyway, this is certainly not a big problem to be complaining about, and I’m only really recounting this as my way of saying I am oh-so-very-excited about spring coming. (And for making delicious things with bok choy, of course!). When I get back from Chicago, I will plant more flats—of lettuce, spinach, kale, and chard. (That is—IF I get back! I’m supposed to get out of downtown Chicago and to the airport on Monday, and isn’t that St. Patrick’s Day? And isn’t there, like, a fairly large parade in Chicago?! Oh well.)

cabbage recipe collage

Since I won’t be actually here on the Irish holiday, I thought I’d better share my favorite cabbage recipes from Sixburnersue with you today. I’ve never been one for boiled cabbage, so for a simple preparation, I go with something like this Quick-Sautéed Cabbage recipe. For something fancy, there’s always the Savoy Cabbage, Apple, Onion & Gruyere Rustic Tart. But probably my favorite holiday cabbage side dish (with the same flavor profile as the tart, just with potatoes added) is this St. Patrick’s Day Cabbage, Onion Apple & Gruyere Gratin.

I may not get to eat one of these dishes on St. Patrick’s Day this year, but I do have some cabbage to look forward to—I planted some cabbage seeds directly into one of the hoop house beds last fall, and I now have a few tiny cabbage plants starting to form heads. With any luck, I’ll have cabbage on say, May Day! And baby bok choy even sooner. Can’t wait.

cabbage pic collage 1