Okay, so I just got home from a big trip to see family back east, and one of the best things about this is ... the food! I am really delighting in the tastes of the farm. Here are some simple recipes for a cold winter.
Welcome Home Breakfast
(If you are not yet accustomed to eating vegetables for breakfast, give it a try and see how much fun it can be to start your day with a juicy, crunchy, bite of energy.)
Two eggs: get a small cast-iron or stainless steel skillet nice and hot and add some sunflower oil, butter, lard, or the cooking fat of your choice. Cook the eggs to your satisfaction: over easy, scrambled, over hard with the yolks broken, or you could always poach or soft-boil the eggs if you prefer.
Red cabbage and carrots: Thinly slice/shred enough red cabbage to make about 1/3 cup, and about the same amount of carrot. Drizzle with enough sunflower oil to barely coat, and toss with salt to taste and just a dash of rice vinegar.
Feeds one. Multiply as necessary for additional breakfasters or if you have a particularly hearty appetite.
Welcome Home Dinner
A splendid grouping of some of the vegetables closest at hand at this time of year
Lovely Onion Soup
adapted from The Moosewood Cookbook
6 Tablespoons butter
5 cups thinly-sliced onions
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon thyme
4 cloves chopped garlic
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup white wine
1 quart chicken, turkey, or vegetable stock
salt to taste (usually somewhere between one and two teaspoons)
Heat the butter, 3 Tablespoons in each of two heavy skillets. Add onions, sprinkle with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions soften and begin to brown slightly. Using two skillets allows the onions to sautee more than steam. Add mustard and thyme and cook a couple minutes more, then add garlic and cook for a few more minutes. Add honey and wine and cook for a few minutes. Then combine the onion mixture(s) with the stock in one large kettle. Bring it to a simmer, then allow to stay warm without boiling for about 20 minutes. Add salt to taste. Serves three.
If you want to get fancy, cut three slices of bread (Bread Board Rye is a great one for this. If you need gf bread try New Cascadia's Levain.). Generously butter these with mustard butter (see Brussels Sprouts with Mustard Butter recipe from December 18, 2015, on the Seasonal Recipes page of our websitepersephonefarmoregon.com) and top with a slice of swiss or gruyere cheese. Pop into the broiler to melt and brown the cheese (watch carefully; it doesn't take long!). Place a slice of the completed bread/butter/cheese melt in the bottom of each diner's bowl before ladling the onion soup on top. Yum.
Roasted Squash Slices
I had always just halved and baked squash on a cookie sheet, but my world was forever rocked when I learned from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (I repeat, if you do not already have this book please purchase one right away.) about slicing squash and roasting it. The neck of a butternut squash is easy for this because it is a dense mass without seeds. But you can halve any kind of squash, scoop out the seeds, and proceed to make slices between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. Don't worry about the skin. If you really want to peel the squash before slicing go ahead, but I promise you it will be fine to leave it on.
Grease a cookie sheet with sunflower oil and arrange the slices in a single layer, and sprinkle generously with salt and freshly-ground pepper. Putting the squash in a single layer takes more space than if the squash were just piled, but it's worth it for the crispy, seasoned edges you get this way. One 9 x 13 cooking sheet of slices yields enough for 2 or 3 people, depending on appetite, but these are great leftover too. Cook the trays of sliced squash in an oven preheated to 425 degrees. After about 15 minutes on the first side, flip the slices with a spatula. Cook the second side about 12 minutes more, until browned but not too dark. Cooking time will vary slightly according to the water and sugar contents of your squash so stay nearby and check that second side to make sure it doesn't burn.
Spiced Potato Croquettes
I adapted this recipe from The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking by Yamuna Devi, an encyclopedic volume of many fine recipes given to me in 1988 by my parents (thanks Mom and Dad!) It is a great way to use leftover mashed potatoes.
3 large potatoes (about 1 3/4 lbs.)
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
3 Tablespoons chickpea of wheat flour
1 teaspoon minced fresh chili pepper (I use peppers I put in the freezer last summer, but if you don't have either of these, use dried chili flakes but significantly less ... 1/4 teaspoon at most ... unless you like things quite hot.)
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
Chop and boil the potatoes until cooked but not mushy. Mash them thoroughly (The original recipe says to peel the potatoes and put them through a ricer, but I like the flavor and nutrition in the skins.). Add all the seasonings and the flour to the potatoes and mix. Add the lemon juice last and mix to create a soft dough-like consistency which holds together ... not too wet.
Meanwhile, heat a heavy skillet and add plenty of oil or ghee*. Make 8 - 10 potato patties with your hands and fry in batches of a single layer at a time in the skillet, turning each patty once with a spatula to get both sides nicely browned. Any leftovers (also known as Welcome Home Lunch!) taste great.
*If you are feeling ambitious and want to make your own ghee at home (much cheaper than purchasing!), put a stick of unsalted butter in a stainless steel pot and cook over the lowest heat possible (I mean, really, very low, if you don't want burning) until all the solids have fallen to the bottom of the pan and a foamy layer has risen to the top. skim off the foam, pour the clarified butter into another container (without letting any of the solids from the bottom of the pan come along for the ride), and store in the refrigerator and use as needed.
Beet and Cabbage Slaw
1/2 lb. each of beets and cabbage (it really doesn't matter what color cabbage or beet, though if you want you can mix it up with red cabbage and gold beet or red beets and green cabbage, etc. Savoy cabbage works great too.) Thinly slice or shred the cabbage and shred the beets. Combine and mix in a salad bowl.
Dress with enough sunflower oil to lightly coat. Salt to taste. Stir in about a Tablespoon of brown rice vinegar.
Lightly toast 1/4 cup sunflower seeds with just a pinch of cayenne pepper in a heavy cast-iron skillet. Serve the slaw garnished with seeds or serve the seeds on the side if you prefer.
There's no taste like home.