Usually at this time of year I write a post about New Year resolutions. I don't have any specific, food-related goals for 2016, but I do believe that a little bit of organization and intentionality at the start of the year can make a big difference. Now is a good time to think about a few things, such as ...
1. Joining a CSA in 2016: For those who are veterans of purchasing food in this way, you probably have this locked down, but if you're new to purchasing food locally or have never tried out Community Supported Agriculture, now is a good time to shop around. Talk to a few different farmers at the market about the programs they offer, what kind of produce is available, the size of their shares, and their available pick-up times. You may decide that you like to shop week to week or you may decide that a CSA would simplify and improve your life; now is a good time to weigh your options.
2. New projects you'd like to undertake: Is this the year you're going to sign up for a herd share and purchase a yogurt maker? Have you always wanted to can delicious summer fruit but felt intimidated when those ripe strawberries started appearing on the market tables? Doing some homework and planning will help you to be prepared to meet your goals more easily (and confidently!).
3. Seasonal meal planning: There are some great food blogs and cookbooks out there, but I often find that I come across recipes that I want to make when the key ingredients are out of season. Printing recipes to put into a notebook organized by season (or ingredient, if you're super thorough) or utilizing a tool like Pinterest to keep your recipes separated according to season can be a huge help, particularly during those months when produce is in abundance and it can be challenging to use it all up before it starts to fade. You don't have to do this all in one go, but keeping healthy, delicious recipes fresh in your mind is tremendously helpful when you're hungry (or the people you live with are begging for dinner) and you're bewildered about how to turn the assorted pile of meat and produce in your fridge into dinner.
4. Mixing up your routine and opening yourself up to new, healthy options: If you're adjusting to eating a fresher, seasonal diet, the new year is a great time to up the ante. Maybe you want to try one new thing each month, like produce that you've avoided. Or maybe you'll find that you can purchase handmade items at the market that take the place of more heavily processed, heavily packaged items you've been purchasing from a large retail store. Instead of a block of cheese that's artificially colored and shrink wrapped, try purchasing a wedge of high quality, small batch cheese from the market. Instead of a the jumbo pack of sugary jam from a big box store, try getting a jar of preserves with no chemicals. Decide that this is the year you're going to learn to love kohlrabi or daikon, and spend a little time finding a wonderful recipe that excites you. It can be really enjoyable when you build yourself up to try new things and go for it.
Have some fun thinking through what you really want our of your food experiences in 2016, and have a healthy, delicious new year!
It's the week of Christmas, and while it may be more expected to post a rich, holiday recipe, I find that by now, many people have probably worked out what they're going to make, and it's likely some version of their traditional Christmas feast. I find that it's more helpful to think about what you're going to have AFTER the holidays, when you're craving foods that still comfort but nourish. This ginger broth recipe is good as a base for soup, ramen, served with stir fry, or sipped on its own.
Strain the broth, reserving the dried mushrooms and add the soy sauce and honey while hot. Taste and adjust seasonings. This is a mild broth so you may wish to add more salt or soy sauce. Add the formerly dried mushrooms back into your broth and serve as desired, or sip it the morning after a holiday indulgence for a restoring start to your day.
Makes 12 c.
I've been watching The Great British Bake Off and it's inspired me to bake some holiday treats. While this certainly constitutes a treat, the vibrant ripple of green kale will also give you a dose of vitamins to go with your starchy, cheesy treat.
This bread dough rises overnight, so be sure to start this recipe the evening before you wish to have it ready. Enjoy!
No-Knead Cheesy Greens Bread
After making the bread dough (recipe follows), stem your kale and steam gently until bright green and just wilted. If you don't have a steamer basket, you can do this fairly easily by bringing 1/2" of water to a simmer in the bottom of a large pot, then adding in your kale and covering with a lid for 2-3 minutes or until the greens are well steamed. Drain the kale well, and then gently squeeze out excess water with your hands.
In a food processor, finely chop the kale, drizzling in the olive oil after the mixture is finely cut to bring it together as a rough paste. Add in a large pinch of salt and pepper to taste and blend once more. Refrigerate your kale mixture overnight.
The Next Morning
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees with an oven-safe, lidded casserole or dutch oven inside it. You're going to bake your bread in the pot, and the hot surface of the pan will help you achieve a nice crust.
Generously flour a work surface, then stretch and pat your bread dough into a 12" oval on it. This dough will be STICKY, so you may wish to line your work surface with parchment or a flat woven kitchen towel.
Evenly spread your kale mixture over the surface of the bread, leaving a half inch margin on one short end of the bread. Sprinkle evenly with the cheese, then starting at the short end of the dough, carefully roll up the bread into a cylinder, finishing with the seam side UP, and gently tucking the two edges under a little bit. Allow to rise for 30 minutes, up to 2 hours.
At this point your bread will look like a hot mess, but that's absolutely fine, I promise. Place the dough, seam side up, in the preheated baking dish and bake, lid on, for 30 minutes. Remove the lid of the pot and bake for 15-25 minutes longer, until the bread looks beautiful and golden. Allow to cool as long as you can, and slice.
No-Knead Bread Dough
adapted from Mark Bittman's recipe for the New York Times
Mix your dry ingredients together, then add your water, stirring into a rough, shaggy dough. Cover and allow to rise for 12-18 hours in a warm spot (I find my oven with the light on is perfect).
The next morning, the dough should be full of bubbles and quite sticky. Using just enough flour to keep it from sticking to your hands, shape it into a ball, and allow to rest on a very well floured surface for 15 minutes then use as above. (Don't be tempted to use an oiled bowl here, you'll throw off the texture of the bread significantly.)
If you're like me, you're always looking for ways to offset the slew of mega-rich dishes at family holiday gatherings with healthy, simple dishes that still feel festive. This recipe perfectly fills that role: the pine nuts and golden raisins make these greens taste seasonally festive but the preparation is easy and results in a dish that doesn't feel heavy.
I've made this with collards, but you can use kale, turnip greens. or any other sturdy green you buy at the market this week.
Sicilian Greens with Pine Nuts
adapted from The Kind Diet
Meanwhile toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan gently to prevent burning. Pine nuts are quite waxy, so they have a tendency to stick to the pan and blacken if you forget about them. Remove them from the heat when they're golden and beginning to smell wonderful.
Next, add the olive oil and garlic to the skillet. (Adding the garlic while the olive oil is cold helps to prevent the garlic from becoming acrid by cooking too quickly or burning and will infuse the oil with more flavor.) Saute for about two minutes, or until the oil is fragrant but not too hot, then add the stems of your greens and saute, stirring gently for 2 minutes. Now add your damp greens (take care in case the pan has gotten hotter than you realize and the water hitting the oil causes it to spit). Cover and cook for another two minutes, then add the pine nuts and raisins and stir. Cover for 2 more minutes, then stir in the balsamic vinegar, stir and cover for an additional minute.
Serves 4-6 as a side.
Thanksgiving is behind us and fall is coming to a close. Somehow the combination of pumpkin and sage definitely says "fall" to my palette. In honor of the changing of the seasons that's right around the corner, here's one more fall-inspired dish for 2015 that will help you stay cozy during this cold and rainy week.
In a large skillet, brown the sausage. Drain on a towel-lined plate, and remove the pork fat from the pan. Add in the olive oil and cook the onions and garlic over medium heat until very fragrant but not yet browned. Add the sage and stir for a moment until very fragrant, then add the pumpkin and broth. Season with the nutmeg, cayenne if using, salt and pepper. Add back in the sausage and bring to a low simmer. Remove from the heat and gently stir in the heavy cream. Toss with fresh pasta and serve with grated cheese.
A note about roasting winter squash:
My favorite method for cooking winter squash is simple. Place the vegetable whole, without piercing the skin, on a baking sheet and bake at 400 until soft. This can take as little as 45 minutes if your vegetable is very small, or upwards of an hour and a half for larger produce. The meat of the vegetable will get wonderfully soft and the resulting steam will loosen the skin of the squash so you can peel it off with your hands very easily. It's the perfect solution for easy soups, pies, and any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin where you'd like to use fresh. Simply mash the meat with a fork and there you go!