Tag Archives: Potatoes

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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Missionaries of Joy, Peace on the Farm

Xmas card 2014PicMonkey CollagebChristmas came early for me this year. I got the best gift I could have asked for—a visit from my Mom and Dad last weekend. Since they live in Delaware and I live on an island in Massachusetts, we don’t get to see each other all that often.

But next week, these two, Pauletta (aka Perky) and Bob, will mark their 60th wedding anniversary. So the trip north was an early celebration. Though we dragged them all over the place and they enjoyed meeting our friends, I think Mom had the most fun playing board games with Libby back here in our cozy living room. (I believe the cute photo of Perky and Bob below was taken in 1956 during a trip to Hong Kong while my Dad was a Navy officer stationed in the Philippines.)

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Among other things, we also got 200 more chickens last week. I got to help Roy clean the coops in advance of their arrival. Yay. My least favorite farm job without a doubt.

While our friends from Burr Farm were unloading the chickens (actually 16-week-old pullets), another friend, artist Heather Goff, was visiting the farm studying our older hens, looking for inspiration for one of her daily sketches. (She produces a stunning sketch every day, which I look forward to seeing on Face Book every night. You can see them all here.) I love this one.

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Now Roy and I are scurrying around finishing up deadlines. I had five quinoa recipes to turn into Vegetarian Times today. Summer recipes, testing in December. 

We finally got the Christmas tree inside this morning. We bought it last Saturday at Morning Glory Farm while Mom and Dad were here, but it has been sitting outside patiently waiting to go on duty. Barney the kitty, having already knocked one of my Nativity angels to the ground and decapitated her, has been running around the house in circles since the tree came in. (Farmer is just rolling his eyes and wearing his strap-on reindeer antlers like a good sport.) Can’t wait to see how the decorating goes. Tinsel should be popular.

Christmas Eve we will have dinner at our friend Judy’s house. Beef tenderloin. I will bring a potato gratin and Brussels sprouts. Chocolate cake for dessert. Simple, peaceful, lovely.

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We will madly finish wrapping Libby Joy Riley’s Christmas presents, which all seem to be in very large boxes this year. (Yes, Libby’s middle name is Joy.)

Then we are planning a trip to Boston after Christmas to see The Nutcracker.

The days will soon be longer. I’m glad. The darkness bothers me, I have to admit. But one of my favorite psalms (to paraphrase) reminds me that darkness may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning.

DSC_1798And as Pope Francis said this past Sunday, we should all be “missionaries of joy,” as it is the best gift we can give our friends and family during the holidays. Christmas is joy, he said. Maybe some days we have to practice being joyful if it isn’t exactly coming naturally. But really there is joy all around us. We just have to grab a little and pass it on.

Roy, Libby, Farmer, Barney and I wish you a holiday season filled with much (sharing of) joy and peace.

 

 

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.

My Potato Farmers, Then and Now

10171130_10203818806489450_6846942003228336987_nMy mother took a lot (I mean, a lot) of photos of us growing up. We complained. Kids often do.

I have turned into my mother, of course.

My favorite (human) subjects are Roy and Libby. So far, Libby has been an incredibly good sport about this. However, you may notice that there are not many pictures of Roy straight on. That’s because he makes a funny face every time I try to take his picture. So I usually have to catch him doing something (which is really the way I prefer to photograph people anyway).

But this weekend he reached out to put his arm around Libby, very proud of the help she’d just given him with planting potatoes. I took a few shots and posted this one (above) on Instagram and Facebook (as I do with some sort of photo almost every day…usually of my other favorite subjects—food, plants, or farm detritus). Normally I don’t then use those daily photos on the blog, but this one brought forth such a warm response from so many people (even some I ran into in the grocery store!) that I thought I’d share it here with folks who don’t see those sites.

And because, in my ongoing surprise at how time flies, I realize this is my second favorite Roy-and-Libby-with-potatoes photo. The first (the pink bucket photo below) was taken in our first market garden in 2010. (Funny how Roy’s face is missing from that photo!) As I mentioned last week, this is now our fifth year of doing this—unbelievable.

Libby Riley, potato harvest

IMG_7017I looked back at the spring potato planting photos from that year, and sure enough, Libby was helping Dad. Right from the start, potato planting was a father-daughter thing. (Though in the beginning, Libby certainly wasn’t wielding the knife as she did this time to cut the potato seed up.)

Maybe this is because Roy wants to pass along a little Irish heritage to Libby. Or maybe it’s because potatoes are Roy and Libby’s favorite vegetable. But more likely it is because the big potatoes are an easy thing for kids to plant.

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Whatever the reason, this year the potato thing is out of control. Due to an ordering snafu, we are going to wind up with double the amount of potato seed we were supposed to have (which was much more than last year in the first place!). This small field (below) that Roy and Libby planted over the weekend ate up just a fraction of that seed. And Roy has already planted 300 more feet of potatoes out in the new big field. Not sure where the rest is going to go, but if you’re a farm stand customer, stand by for Red Golds, Red Thumb Fingerlings, French Fingerlings, and German Butterballs. Lots of ‘em!

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Even though it was a grey and chilly weekend, we stubbornly followed up our farm work on Sunday with a trip to get ice cream and a walk on the beach. Libby is a good sport about both photos and farm work (she also helped me plant more seeds in the hoop house), but we always want to do something fun (off-farm fun) when she’s with us, too.

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When we got to the beach, she immediately took her shoes off and started running about, teasing the surf, scooping up rock finds, doing a full-body sand-plant, chasing Farmer. I took pictures, of course. Later at home, looking at one of these (right) and at some photos I took of her the very first day I met her in 2009 (left), I realized that though she may be turning into a lovely young lady, she’s still a beach girl, through and through. Lots of traditions are worth keeping—even that one where the mom takes too many photos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter Garden Salad: A Template Recipe for Greens + Roots

If we didn’t have 150 pounds of pork in the freezer, I could eat a warm salad of winter greens and roasted veggies every night. (Roy, not so much.) This is one of those recipe/techniques that I unapologetically come back to again and again—Warm Winter Salad of Roasted Root Fries (The Fresh and Green Table), Warm Bistro Salad with Tiny Roasted Root Vegetables and Bacon Dressing (Fast, Fresh & Green), and Quick-Roasted Butternut Squash and Pear Salad with Ginger Lime Vinaigrette (coming in Fresh from the Farm), to name a few. (Hmmm, it appears I’m not averse to sneaking pork into these things, so you could certainly have your salad, and your bacon, too.)

The appeal of a warm salad with crispy, yummy roasted veggies served atop deep, dark greens with a bracing vinaigrette is the interplay between fresh and comforting. I also like the textural contrast, and to be honest, the visual appeal. These days, I don’t compose the salads so much as scatter-and-platter them. It’s a looser, more rustic look, and served family-style, more casual. But you can always arrange the salads on individual serving plates if you like.

It occurred to me this week that I should back up, look at the architecture of these salads, and come up with a template you could use, depending on whatever greens and winter veggies you’ve got hanging around.

Plus, I needed an excuse to show off my greens that are still alive in the market garden. (Ahem, again, unapologetic…) So this morning after my chicken chores (no frozen water—yay!), I took a bowl and scissors and collected a nice combo of mizuna, Ruby Streaks mustard, Russian kale, arugula, tat soi, parsley, a few baby bok choy leaves, and even a few carrot tops. It’s amazing what lives through freezing temperatures and unfortunate ice formations; the arugula is particularly hearty, and one of my lettuces, Winter Marvel, acts like it doesn’t even know its December. (Alas, soon enough, nothing will be growing, even if it stays alive, since we’re now down below the critical mark of 10 hours of daylight. I’ve got lots of lettuce and greens down in the hoop house which I am just hoping to keep alive and harvest sparingly until early February, when 10+hours returns and they’ll start growing again.)

Realistically, most of us will be harvesting greens for our winter salads from the grocery store, so here’s your chance to buy baby kale, escarole and frisee, sturdy spinach, and anything that’s got some backbone or body. Make your own custom mix, and try to steer away from bagged mixes of salad greens, which tend to be less fresh than heads or bunches and also contain filler lettuces which don’t hold up to warm vinaigrettes too well.

For your veggie mix, choose from sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, beets, or butternut squash. Dice them quite small so that they’ll roast quickly; most won’t need peeling—but for the butternut. (For a pretty all squash-salad, you could use thinly sliced acorn and/or Delicata rings, which don’t need peeling and will also cook quickly.) Add diced pears or apples to the veggie mix if you want, and customize your salad with whatever toasted nuts and good quality cheeses you like. Use your favorite vinegar in the warm vinaigrette, and don’t be shy with a squeeze of lemon or lime to juice it up.

Here’s my template—I hope it will make a nice starting point for you. If you come up with a really delicious combo, I’d love to hear about it!

Warm Salad of Roasted Root Veggies and Winter Greens

Be sure to cut your veggies into evenly small pieces so they’ll all cook at the same rate. Don’t be tempted to crowd them on one pan, either—a little room around them will brown them up better. (Unless, of course, you want to cut this recipe in half, which is perfectly doable.) If you decide to include beets in your veggie mix, toss them with a little oil and salt separately from the rest or they’ll tend to color everything else.

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For the salad:

1½ to 1¾ pounds combination sweet potatoes (unpeeled), potatoes (unpeeled), carrots (peeled), parsnips (peeled), turnips (unpeeled), beets (unpeeled), butternut squash (peeled), firm-ripe pears (peeled), or Golden Delicious apples (unpeeled), cut into small dice (about 3/8-inch in diameter) (about 5 to 6 cups)

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

6 to 7 cups combination sturdy mixed winter greens (such as baby kale, escarole, frisee, arugula, mustard, or tat soi)

¼ cup chopped toasted pecans, walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts

½ to 2/3 cup crumbled good quality blue cheese, feta cheese, goat cheese or 1/3 cup coarsely grated aged gouda or Parmigianno

3 tablespoons coarsely chopped dried cherries, cranberries, raisins, figs, pitted dates, or other dried fruit (optional)

For the vinaigrette:

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 large shallot, sliced thinly

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, balsamic vinegar, white balsamic vinegar, or cider vinegar

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon fresh lemon or lime juice (more to taste)

½ teaspoons lemon or lime zest

1 teaspoon coarsely chopped fresh thyme leaves (or other herb of choice)

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

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Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line two large rimmed heavy-duty baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large, wide mixing bowl, combine the veggies, the 4 tablespoons olive oil, and a scant teaspoon kosher salt. Toss well and spread in one layer on the two baking sheets. Roast, rotating the sheet pans once (and flipping the veg with a spatula if you like), until the veggies are nicely browned and tender, about 28 to 30 minutes. Let cool for a couple minutes on the sheet pans and then combine in a mixing bowl.

While the vegetables are roasting, put the greens in a wide heat-proof mixing bowl. Set out a serving platter or four serving plates.

Make the warm vinaigrette: Heat the 1/3 cup olive oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced shallots and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are browned and crisp, about 6 to 8 minutes. Take the skillet off the heat and remove the shallot rings with a fork, transferring them to a paper-towel lined plate. Let the oil cool for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the vinegar, the maple syrup, the Dijon, the juice, the zest, the herbs, ¼ teaspoon salt, and several grinds of fresh pepper. Whisk vigorously until the dressing is mostly emulsified. (Alternatively, first transfer the shallot-infused oil to a heat-proof Pyrex liquid measure, add the other ingredients and whisk well. This is a slightly less awkward way of making the dressing). Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more lemon or lime juice, salt or pepper as needed.

Season the greens with a sprinkling of kosher salt and drizzle over them a few tablespoons of the warm vinaigrette. (Be sparing at this point). Toss well, taste, and add a little more dressing if necessary. Arrange most of the greens on your platter or serving plates. Sprinkle with half of the nuts, cheese, and fruit.

Season the roasted veggies with a pinch more salt, and dress them lightly with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Toss well and scatter over the greens. Garnish with remaining nuts, cheese, fruit, greens, and reserved shallots. Serve right away, passing the remaining dressing if desired.

Serves 4

P.S. Farmer enjoyed harvesting greens this morning, too!

 

A Potato Gratin with Gruyère, Thyme & Horseradish

My obsession with gratins knows no limits. I once wrote a cookbook proposal called “Golden Brown and Bubbly: The Book of Gratins.” Honestly I don’t know why anyone didn’t pick that up. (Couldn’t have been the title.)

Now that golden-brown-and-bubbly season is back upon us, I figured I’d make it Gratin Week over on my Facebook page, Susie Middleton Cooks. Why not? If there can be a National Cupcake Day, then why not Gratin Week, I say. (A gratin is really just a vegetable and cheese casserole, after all.)

So I have been (and will be) posting a link to a different gratin recipe over there every day. Many of these recipes exist here at Sixburnersue.com or over on FineCooking.com, where my 11-year tenure (plus five years and counting as editor-at-large…okay I realize that makes me seem really old) has earned me multiple recipe listings. So linking to them is easy. (Try this favorite next summer.)

But today I thought I’d actually like to eat a gratin, rather than just talk about one. We’re having roast pork loin (yay, more pork—only 175 pounds left in the freezer!) for dinner, so I thought a classic creamy potato gratin would be nice. Of course I didn’t get around to making it until this afternoon so taking photos for the blog in the dying sunlight was a little tricky.

To do this recipe, I turned to the handy dandy “foundation recipe for baking gratins” in that fabulous cookbook, Fast, Fresh & Green. The recipe gives you a bunch of options, so I chose gruyère cheese, thyme, and horseradish as my flavor components. But then I also decided that I wanted to make a bigger gratin—just in case any of you need a pinch hitter for the Thanksgiving table. So I scaled the quantities up, and voilà, here you go. Yum. Happy Gratin Week.   

EasyRecipe

Potato Gratin with Gruyère, Thyme & Horseradish

Thinly sliced potatoes are key here, but there’s no need for a mandolin. Just cut your potato in half lengthwise first, lay it cut side-down on the cutting board (to stabilize) and then slice it crosswise with a sharp knife. A Santoku or ceramic knife works great.

Serves 6

1 teaspoon unsalted butter

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons roughly chopped thyme leaves

3 tablespoons coarsely grated Parmigiano

Kosher salt

1 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth

2 teaspoons prepared horseradish

1½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 6 medium-small)

Freshly ground pepper

1 cup coarsely grated gruyère

 

Heat the oven to 350°F. Rub a 2-quart shallow gratin dish with the butter.

In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs with the olive oil, a big pinch of salt, ½ teaspoon of the thyme, and the Parmigiano.

In a liquid measure, combine the cream, the broth, and the horseradish. Mix well.

Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and turn the halves cut-side down on a cutting board. With a sharp knife, slice the halves across as thinly as you can so that you have thin half-moon-shaped pieces.

Put the potatoes in a mixing bowl. Add 1 teaspoon salt, several grinds of fresh pepper, the cheese, the remaining thyme, and the cream mixture. Mix well. Transfer all to the prepared gratin dish.

Scooch the potatoes around until they are as evenly dispersed as possible. Using your palms, press down on the potatoes to bring the liquids up and around them as much as possible. (It won’t necessarily completely cover them.) Cover the top with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork (check the middle of the dish as well as the sides), the breadcrumbs are brown, and the juices around the edges of the gratin have bubbled down and formed a dark brown rim around the edge, 65 to 70 minutes. Let cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

 

 

Of Fish Gifts and Fingerlings

Really, it is too hot to write a blog. (No, my “office” in the old farm house is not air conditioned.) I thought I’d seen heat, what with growing up in Washington, D.C., and spending summers in North Carolina in un-airconditioned cabins. But I guess I’m old. And I guess farming is really one of the worst activities to do in a heat wave (or humidity wave, I should say). I keep trying to get up earlier and earlier to harvest, but it doesn’t matter what time I get up—it’s already hot. (Doing anything in the middle of the day is out of the question.)

Today, three tee-shirts and two (outdoor) showers later, I’m sitting at my desk, but really none the cooler.

Earlier in the week, I was all blasé about this heat thing, and actually did some cooking. In fact, I turned on both the oven and the stove (several burners). I was all excited because our neighbor Ralph Savery brought us a bucket of quahogs. First I made a quick chowder with some of our fingerling potatoes, onions, and fresh thyme. Delicious. The next night I made spicy linguine with clams. There are still a few clams left, which Roy is threatening to turn into Clams Casino—if we ever turn the oven (or broiler) back on at this point.

Back in the old days (before-Susie, before-farming), Roy got to go fishing every once in a while. Even the two of us would occasionally harvest mussels or go crabbing. Not anymore. Luckily, friends take pity on us and bring us stuff. I am grateful.

A few weeks ago, a new friend brought me a double-bonus: A very freshly filleted piece of blue fish caught that morning by her husband Jeff, and a copy of her new cookbook, Living off the Sea. Melinda Fager and her family spend summers on Chappaquiddick Island, and make their meals almost exclusively off what they catch and forage. Before I’d even met Melinda, I was asked to review the galleys of her book this past winter. I fell in love with the photos, the stories, and with the recipes—simple, fresh, and perfectly in tune with casual summer living. So if Roy doesn’t get his hands on those last clams, I’m going to make her Stuffed Quahogs. (And I’ve got quite a few other recipes from Living off the Sea tagged—from Blueberry Bread to “Blue Dogs” to Victoria’s Chappaquiddick Gumbo.)

In the spirit of making the most of what you’ve got, I’ve also been cooking a lot of our own fingerlings. Every time we pull a plant, we get a bunch of little tiny tubers in addition to the bigger potatoes that everyone loves. I think the tiny tubers are the cutest darn things, and I’ve tried packaging up and selling them in half-pints. But they don’t move too fast, I think because many of our farm-stand shoppers are cooking for a crowd and don’t think they’ll stretch.

But I’m suspecting that folks also may be wondering what to do with them. Well, not only are they the quick dinner’s best friend (boiled and dressed in less than 10 minutes, no peeling), but they make especially tasty roasted potatoes (before photo above). With that ratio of skin-to-flesh, they get all crunchy and poppy. Libby gives them a 10. We just toss them with olive oil, fresh rosemary, and a little MV Sea Salt, spread them in one layer, and roast at 400 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes. (If you don’t have teeny-tiny potatoes, try cutting red potatoes into small dice—they’ll roast up nice and toasty, too.)

But don’t try that tonight if you live on the East Coast in an un-airconditioned home. Turn on the grill or go to the beach and wait for the thunderstorms to blow us through a little cool air. And then, by all means, turn your ovens back on!

 

 

Summer Farm Frittata with Fingerlings, Fresh Herbs, Greens & Goat Cheese

Late at night, after I’ve spent an entire day fooling around with vegetables, what do I do but curl up on the couch with a book about—vegetables! My new favorite cookbook is River Cottage Veg by the unstoppable British food writer, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. I must admit, I’m fond of his pro-veg (rather than anti-meat) philosophy, because, well, it’s pretty much the point of view I offer in The Fresh & Green Table. But it’s more than that. I just plain like his food—honest and sensible but inspiring too. Somehow, this big hefty book, its thick matte pages covered from ear to ear with colorful but homey food photos and whimsical illustrations, feels like just the right thing to plunk on your lap at the end of a long day.

I only got to page six before I saw the thing I wanted to make for supper the very next day.

And I did.

Only I didn’t exactly follow Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe. I know, I know. (Insert sheepish look here.) But I’m really in the mode of “use what we have around” so into this lovely early summer frittata went all kinds of interesting things from the garden.

I started with 9 little pullet eggs. These are the smallest eggs our new chickens are laying (many of them have already upgraded to medium and large eggs). We don’t sell a lot of them, so they wind up as house eggs. Voila, 9 into a frittata—way to use those eggs up, Susie!

Next I went out to the garden with my home gardener/home cook hat on. (Not my market gardener/professional cook hat). And I picked little tiny bits of interesting odds and ends that happen to hang around when you grow a few of your own vegetables. I get a huge kick out of these things that you never see in a grocery store—cilantro flowers, pea greens, little tiny potatoes the size of marbles, spring onions, squash blossoms, garlic chives. I picked some flowering oregano, too. A few sprigs of mint. A couple stalks of Swiss Chard. Mature pea pods. A sprig of Purple Ruffles basil. Calendula flowers. Yeah, never in a million years could I get away with publishing a recipe like this in a book or a magazine. (I can only imagine the car trips one would have to make in search of that list of ingredients.) But once in a while, it’s fun to indulge myself, and to give a little not-so-subtle boost to the idea of growing just a tiny bit of your own food. If you like to cook, there’s no better way to become really familiar with an ingredient than growing it.

The two non-local ingredients I used were fresh goat cheese (about 4 ounces) and unsalted butter (a couple tablespoons). Oops, and a splash of heavy cream. (You could omit.)

I got out my 10-inch slope-sided nonstick skillet and melted the butter over medium heat. I preheated the oven to 350°, and put my potatoes in a saucepan of water to boil. I sautéed the spring onions, then the chard and the pea greens, in the butter.

I whisked the eggs, cream, salt, pepper, and all the herbs (chopped) together. I crumbled the goat cheese and added that to the custard. I transferred the cooked potatoes to the skillet with the greens and added just a touch more butter. Turned up the heat to a sizzle and poured in the custard. I scooted everything around with a spatula to evenly distribute it, scattered on the calendula petals, and nestled the nasturtiums in last. I turned up the heat ever so slightly and waited for the edges of the frittata to set. Then I carefully transferred it to the oven and set the timer for about 18 minutes. When it was puffed, firm in the middle, and lightly golden, I took it out to cool on a wooden board. (Frittatas are tastiest warm, not hot.)

I took a picture of this concoction before it went in the oven, thinking the final product might look a little muddled or faded—or something. Well, it actually looked rather comely in the end. And it had great flavor—a big boost from the herbs and goat cheese, and those fingerlings really made it feel filling. Roy ate three pieces—and leftovers for lunch–which is saying a lot, in his language. I thought with all those flowers and herbs he might find it a bit too frou-frou.

The thing is, you can make this frittata with any greens and herbs you can find—no calendula petals or cilantro flowers needed! So take a cue from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (and a couple of budget-minded farmers who live on an Island where meat is very expensive!) and have an all-veggie supper once or twice a week. Next on my list (though I know better than to promise that I’ll follow the recipe) is his “Vegeree”—a spicy rice dish with roasted eggplant. Yum.

A New Tradition—Crispy Smashed Potatoes—and More Thanksgiving Recipe Picks

We left the pot-luck early with an empty platter. It wasn’t the first time this had happened, but still I was surprised at the sheer snarfing speed of the crowd. The party was really just getting going when we had to dash off to take Libby to the boat, but somehow, between the freshly shucked oysters, the beer bottles twisting open, and the first bites of juicy roast pig, the crispy potatoes had evaporated. I’d never even taken the tinfoil off. But someone had, and a flashmob of snackers had downed 45 crispy potatoes in no time.

When we got in the car, Libby was grinning and wide-eyed, clearly ready to give me credit for this disappearing act. But I told her, “It’s a dirty trick, you know, putting a platter of fried salty potato thingies in front of hungry people, people who’ve probably been raking leaves or rounding up sheep or wading in freezing waters for scallops all morning. They don’t stand a chance against a crispy potato. Once you eat one, they’re like potato chips or popcorn—you have to have more.”

So, yeah, I did not invent potatoes+salt+oil, but I did noodle a fun variation on this theme some years ago for Fine Cooking magazine, and I noodled the idea a little further for The Fresh & Green Table, where I turned the crispy smashed potatoes into a warm salad with a bit of Asian slaw. And somewhere, some potluck along the way, I also discovered a bonus: These crispy smashed potatoes don’t have to be served hot. They’re just fine at room temperature, which makes them ideal for a buffet, or, say, something like Thanksgiving dinner, when keeping everything hot seems to be one of the biggest challenges. So after the potluck, I began to think I should hand over the recipe here at sixburnersue.com in time for turkey day.

Now I am really not suggesting that you replace the mashed potatoes with these smashed potatoes. (They are literally smashed—you boil little red potatoes until tender and then gently smush them down with the palm of your hand. Then you toss with lots of oil and salt and roast at very high heat. Because they’ve already been boiled, they wind up with a fluffy texture inside and a very crispy texture outside.) But if you have a big crowd and serve lots of different kinds of food, there’s no reason not to make these, too, since they can be partially done ahead and popped in the oven when the turkey comes out to rest.

Or, heck, forget about Thanksgiving day and make them over the weekend or some other time during the holidays. They’re pretty good with roast beef. Or just about anything else.

And if you need some other great side dish ideas for the holiday, see my top ten suggestions from last year or browse Fine Cooking‘s terrific collection of Thanksgiving menus and recipes.

 

Crispy Smashed Potato Patties

Recipe copyright Susie Middleton, adapted from The Fresh & Green Table, Chronicle Books, 2012

Baby red potatoes—about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 ounces each—are my favorites here. You can use slightly bigger potatoes, but keep them all about the same size for the best results. I used to toss these with olive oil, but I found that some olive oil got an offer flavor from the very high heat. Now I use vegetable oil. Canola is fine, but lately I’ve been using Spectrum’s high-heat safflower oil and that has a really clean taste.

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16 baby red potatoes (consistently sized)

kosher salt

1/2 cup canola or safflower oil

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Preheat the oven to 475°F. Line a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and a piece of parchment paper on top. Arrange a double-layer of dish towels on a large cutting board or your kitchen counter. Put the potatoes (preferably in one layer) in a large Dutch oven and cover with at least 1 1/2 inches of water. Add 2 teaspoons kosher salt, cover loosely, bring the water to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Uncover and cook until the potatoes are tender all the way through, but not falling apart, about 18 to 20 minutes. (Check with a paring knife.)

Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer each potato to the dish towels, arrange them a few inches apart, and let them cool for a few minutes. Using another folded dish towel, gently press down on each potato to flatten it into a patty about 1/2 inch thick (or up to 3/4-inch). The patties don’t have to be perfectly even, and a few pieces of potato may break off (no matter—you can still roast them). Let the patties cool for a few minutes more, transfer them to the baking sheet, and let them cool for 10 to 15 minutes longer. (Or, at this point, you can hold the potatoes in the fridge for up to 24 hours, covered with plastic. Bring to room temp before roasting.)

Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt on the potatoes and pour the 1/2 cup oil over them. Carefully flip the potatoes over, and season this side with a scant 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Rub with some of the oil, making sure that the potatoes are well-coated with oil on all sides. Roast (turning once with a spatula—carefully—halfway through cooking) until they turn a deep orange brown (a little darker and crisper around the edges), about 28 to 30 minutes.

 

 

Best Roasted Brussels Sprouts + 10 Fave Thanksgiving Sides

This time last year I was preparing to be on television the day before Thanksgiving. (The Martha Stewart Show—I cooked quick veggie sides from Fast, Fresh & Green.) A few years back I did a satellite media tour around this time to promote Fine Cooking’s book How To Cook A Turkey. The year before that, I did a radio blitz for most of November and December to promote all the holiday tips and recipes on Fine Cooking’s website (which, if you haven’t looked lately, is by far the best place to go to plan your Thanksgiving menu. Check out the cool interactive Create Your Own Menu Maker. But I’m not biased or anything.) Well, you can imagine how relieved I am not to be PR-ing this holiday season. I did in fact just record some radio spots for Fine Cooking that will soon air on WGBH (I’ll keep you posted); but they were a whole lot of fun to do—and they didn’t require a new wardrobe or an anxiety attack.

So we are free and clear to have a simple and quiet Thanksgiving at the farmette (yippee!). I still have squash, rutabagas, onions, kale, arugula, herbs, and salad greens from the garden, plus green beans, corn, and roasted tomatoes that I froze, so we will be able to make most of the meal über-local. I will wander across the street to the West Tisbury Winter Farmers’ Market on Saturday to see if I can get the rest of what I need.

Regardless of where you plan to get your goodies, most of you, I know, have this one thing on your mind: What kinds of dishes can I cook that are easy and delicious, that everyone likes, and that will serve a decent-sized crowd? To that end, I’ve gathered a list of ten of my own favorite side dish recipes that serve at least six people (below). Some of these recipes reside on sixburnersue.com, but several are ones I developed a few years back for an “updated classics” story on Thanksgiving sides for (you guessed it) Fine Cooking magazine. And I also threw in a “create your own” creamy veggie soup from another FC article I did years ago, in case yours is the kind of family that likes to start the meal with an elegant soup (or needs options for vegetarians).

But for the tenth recipe on the list, I couldn’t resist posting my Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Orange Butter Sauce. This is a recipe I originally created for Fast, Fresh & Green but that I tweaked last year for the TV gig so that it would feed more people. I just remade it this morning and am happy to confirm that it is not only delicious, but possibly one of the fastest and easiest Thanksgiving side dishes ever to make.

Here’s my list:

1. Green Beans with Crispy Pancetta, Mushrooms, and Shallots

2. Roasted Turnips with Maple and Cardamom

3. Pomegranate-Balsamic-Glazed Carrots

4. Bourbon Sweet Potato and Apple Casserole with a Pecan Crust

5. Creamy Baked Leeks with Garlic, Thyme, and Parmigiano

6. Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes with Roasted Garlic

7. Thanksgiving Gratin of Butternut Squash, Corn & Leeks

8. Potato Galette with Fresh Rosemary & Two Cheeses

9. Creamy Vegetable Soup (Pick Your Own Veggie!)

10. Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Orange Butter Sauce (see below)


Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Orange Butter Sauce

I’ve roasted Brussels sprouts a few different ways, but you can’t beat this method for volume (large rimmed sheet pans hold a lot), quickness (16 to 18 minutes in a 475° oven), and great results (by halving the sprouts and roasting them cut-side down, the tops and bottoms brown but the interiors steam). The flavorful butter sauce gives the nutty roasted sprouts just the right touch of tangy-sweet richness to make this completely holiday-worthy.

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2 lb. small Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

2 Tbsp. fresh orange juice

1 tsp. finely grated orange zest or lemon zest

4 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces and kept chilled

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Preheat the oven to 475˚F. Line two large heavy-duty rimmed sheet pans with parchment paper. In a mixing bowl, toss the Brussels sprouts with the 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 tsp. of the salt. Divide the sprouts between the two sheet pans and arrange them, cut-side down. Roast until brown and tender, 16 to 18 minutes. (The tops will be dark brown and crispy and the sprouts should feel tender when pierced with a paring knife.) Transfer the sprouts to a mixing bowl.

Combine the balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, orange juice, and orange zest in a small saucepan. Heat the mixture over medium heat just until it’s hot (you will see a bit of steam), but not simmering. Remove the pan from the heat and add the cold butter, several pieces at a time, whisking constantly until the mixture is smooth and creamy. (Don’t reheat the mixture or the butter will break and the sauce won’t be creamy.) Pour the sauce over the sprouts and stir thoroughly but gently until most of the sauce has been absorbed. Transfer the sprouts and any remaining sauce to a serving platter and serve right away.

Serves  8