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Archive for the ‘Main Course’ Category

We are so lucky in Boulder to enjoy one of the best Farmer’s Markets in the country.

Visiting the market on a Saturday morning is one of my favorite ways to start the weekend. I love the visual splendor of the vegetables, the aromas of the food vendors, the hustle and bustle of the crowd. It is a truly iconic Boulder scene. People have their dogs, their bikes, their kids, their coffees, and their cloth bags. As I pass by, I like to catch snippets of conversations about organic this, tri-athalon that, gluten-free something else. I always stop by and say “hey” to Howie at the Brillig Works booth, who shares my passion for baking (and makes an awesome cinnamon roll). I swing by Shamane’s and eye their pies. Lately, I’ve taken a fancy to the clever marriage of flavor and purpose in the cupcakes sold by Street Fare (to benefit the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless). And I love to make a lunch of veggie dumplings from Sisters Pantry, or some masa yumminess from Tres Pupusas.

One of my favorite ways to enjoy the market is with camera in hand, just sampling with my eyes and taking in the visual delights.  Late in the season, peaches are the darlings of the market, with people lined up early for their bag or their box.  But the thing that catches me this morning is the unmistakable aroma of roasting chiles.

If you’ve never seen this contraption, you may not know the joys of fresh roasted New Mexico-style chiles.  The roaster is a metal mesh cylinder that is filled with peppers, turned by a crank, while gas burners shoot flames to blister the skins and cook the meat of the vegetable just enough.  Then, the peppers are packaged in plastic bags to steam. Shoppers at the market eagerly scoop these up.  Once home, the skins come off easily, and the roasted chiles get used for all sorts of  delicious recipes.

Green chiles can be used to flavor your morning scrambled eggs, give a little kick to your burger, or liven up some corn chowder.  But when you want a whole heap of chile flavor, nothing beats this pork green chile from local chef Lyle Davis.

New Mexican Green Chile, Davis Family Style

Serves 8 hearty appetites

Ingredients:

4 to 4 1/2 pounds natural pork butt or pork shoulder (country-style spare ribs can be used in a pinch), cut into cubes

2 cups unbleached flour

1 tsp black pepper

1 1/2 pounds whole, fresh roasted green chiles (don’t even THINK of using canned!)

3 large onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup olive oil

8 cups chicken stock

2 cups canned, whole peeled tomatoes, coarsely chopped

2 tsp salt (or to taste)

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Directions:

Trim the pork of fat and set one to two large 3-4 inch pieces of white pork fat aside to use later.  Cut pork into 1-inch cubes. Place flour, salt and black pepper in a bag and mix well.  Add the cubes of pork. Holding the bag closed tight, shake the pork cubes until meat is well-coated.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in large stockpot. Add chopped onions and garlic and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until onion is browned slightly.

Add dredged pork cubes, the reserved two pieces of pork fat and stir with onion and garlic.  Allow pork to brown, cooking for up to 15 to 20 minutes. turning frequently, until pork is seared on all sides and bottom of pan has a nice amount of brown bits on it.  (This caramelized brown stuff is called the “fond,” and it is what gives meat stews and sauces their incredible deep rich flavor.)

Remove cooked large pieces of fat and discard.

Add chicken stock, green chile (about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups of chopped chile) and chopped canned tomatoes.  With wooden spoon, gently scrape bottom and sides of pan to help flavor the stock. With no lid on stockpot, allow chile to come to a boil and then reduce heat to a light simmer. Continue simmering for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until pork is tender. Salt to taste. The green chile should be rich and brown in color.

Optional: Just before serving add fresh cilantro to chile.

Serving suggestion: Serve in a bowl with fresh cilantro, shredded cabbage, and thinly sliced radishes and offer Oaxacan-style string cheese. Serve with hot, fresh corn tortillas. Or, pour to cover a dinner plate and top with two fried eggs, serve cooked pinto beans on the side with several types of salsa.

Source: Sylvia Tawse and Lyle Davis

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Have you discovered the charms of chard? A hearty green, with big shiny leaves, it’s a nutritional superstar with all sorts of vitamins and minerals. But I love it because it tastes great! To me, chard is like getting two complimentary vegetables in one — the leaves are tender and spinach-like, and the stalks are firmer, with a delicate flavor that reminds me of celery or fennel. Chard leaves have an slightly bitter flavor, which fades with cooking. The stalks are delicious in their own right, although they require a bit more time in the pan.

This elegant, rustic tart showcases the chard, accented with a few bits of sweet roasted red pepper and salty kalamata olives, and all bound together with tangy fresh goat cheese. Think of this as quiche where the vegetables took over.  It makes a beautiful summer meal.

Swiss Chard and Chevre Tart

Adapted from Tartlette

Ingredients:

Basic flaky pie crust (Use your favorite.  Here’s mine.)

1 bunch fresh swiss chard, washed and patted dry

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 large shallots or one medium onion, diced

2 roasted red peppers (bottled is fine)

1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped

3 eggs, slightly beaten

1/2 cup milk

5-6 oz fresh goat cheese (chevre), crumbled

Salt and pepper

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Roll out crust and fit into 9 inch tart pan.  Place foil or parchment on entire bottom of crust, and up the sides. Fill with pie weights or rice or beans (these can be re-used for this purpose again and again). Bake 15 minutes. Take foil and pie weights out.  Continue baking another 5-10 minutes, or until the crust is lightly browned. Remove from oven.

While crust is baking, cut chard leaves away from stalks. Chop the leaves and slice the stalks. In a large sauté pan, cook the shallots or onions in the olive oil until tender (one minute for the shallots, longer for the onion). Add the stalks of the chard and continue cooking until barely tender, just a few minutes. Add the chard leaves and cook until the leaves have wilted and cooked through. Add the roasted red pepper and olives, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a food processor or blender, combine the eggs, milk, chevre and dash of nutmeg until smooth.

Spread the vegetable mixture in the crust, making sure it’s evenly distributed. It should look pretty full, but don’t worry. Gently pour the chevre mixture over the chard, until the crust is brimming. You might have extra filling, depending on how much room your chard took up. (You can bake the extra alongside the tart, in a little ramekin, and it’ll be a delicious little treat.)

Bake for 40 minutes, or until puffed and set in the center.  The top should be lightly browned.  Serve immediately with a crisp green salad and a glass of white wine, for a perfect “French bistro” dinner.

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I love the farmer’s market and I’m lucky to live in a town with a great one. It’s such fun to bike downtown and spend a leisurely morning browsing through all the fresh produce and wonderful specialty artisan foods offered by the vendors. All that beautiful food is a treat for the eyes as well as the palate!

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Among other treasures, I found some beautiful english peas when I was shopping there recently. Impulsively, I bought a pound, without a plan. Once I got home, I spent the rest of the afternoon leafing through cookbooks, looking for inspiration, and, of course, shelling the peas.

Lucky for me, I had some great help. Morgan helped me release all those sweet orbs from their pods, even though it was tricky sometimes. For future reference, a pound of english peas yields about 2 cups of shelled peas.

I decided to make a fresh pea risotto, with a hint of lemon, and just a bit of salty ham (or proscuitto, if you care to upgrade). It was a good choice, as it highlighted the sweet grassy flavor of the peas without overwhelming them, and still was filling and satisfying as a main dish for supper.

If you find some of these beauties at the market, spare some for this lovely meal.

Spring Pea Risotto

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups arborial rice

4 1/2 – 5 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade, but good store-bought will do)

1/2 cup white wine

1 large shallot, diced fine

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 cup fresh peas

One lemon, zest and juice

An ounce or two of ham, or proscuitto, if you have it

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan

2-3 Tbsp. fresh basil, chives and/or mint, chopped fine  (You could use any or all of these, I had all 3 in my herb garden.)

Directions:

In a saucepan, bring chicken stock to simmer and keep on the back burner while you work on the risotto.

In another saucepan, sauté the shallots in the olive oil for a minute, then add the rice.  Stir, and let the rice cook over medium high for another minute or two, being careful not to burn.  Add the white wine, and stir until it is mostly absorbed.

Ladleful by ladleful, add the stock to the rice, each time cooking and stirring gently, as it is absorbed.  Keep the risotto covered in a film of stock, so it does not dry out.  It’s not necessary to stand at the stove stirring constantly, but don’t walk away from the pot for long.  Total time from the first ladleful to the rice being done is 18-20 minutes.  At the half-way point, throw in the peas and ham or proscuitto.  When you are getting close to the end of the cooking, and you’ve used up most of your stock, add the zest and juice from the lemon. When you taste the risotto at this point, the rice should be still slightly chewy, and possess a lovely creaminess. Add the parmesan, fresh herbs, and salt and pepper to your taste.

I served this with steamed asparagus and a glass of chilled, crisp sauvignon blanc.


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Meatloaf is classic midwestern comfort food, one of America’s favorite dishes. I’ve heard it said that one should never eat anyone’s meatloaf except your mother’s. But, then again, not every mother makes great meatloaf. My mom made perfectly serviceable meatloaf, but the recipe is lost to posterity, which never seemed like a great tragedy, honestly.

I wasn’t really looking for a meatloaf recipe when, years ago, a friend enthusiastically shared this healthy version of the traditional dish. It’s moist and tasty, and hits those basic comfort food notes. While this meatloaf is not gourmet fare, we like it enough that it makes it into our family meal rotation with some regularity.  It has the benefit of being low fat, and having a good amount of vegetables in it, but in such small bits that even my persnickety 8 year old doesn’t mind.

I bet my mom would like it, too.

Turkey Meatloaf

Makes 2 loaves (each about 6 servings).

Ingredients:

1 cup onion

3/4 cup carrot

1/2 cup celery

1/2 cup red pepper

2 cloves garlic

2 1/2 lbs ground turkey (93% lean)

1 cup oats

1/3 cup ketchup

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp ground coriander

2 eggs (or 4 egg whites)

Directions:

Whirl onion, garlic, carrot, celery and bell pepper together in food processor until finely chopped.

Sauté vegetables in 2 tsp. canola oil until tender.   Set aside.

In large bowl combine remaining ingredients. Add cooled vegetables and mix well.

Grease 2 (9″x 5″) loaf pans.

Fill with meat mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees 30 minutes.

Top with mixture of 1/3 cup ketchup and 3 Tbsp. brown sugar.

Bake additional 30 minutes.

Nutrition Information, per serving:  192 calories, 8.6 g fat, (2.4 g sat fat), 100 mg cholesterol, 21 g protein, 356 mg sodium, 9 g carbs, 1.3 g fiber, 3.2 g sugar, 45.5 mg calcium.

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Lamb has become our “go-to” meat when company is coming for dinner.  It’s tasty, it’s local, and it’s a bit uncommon. In fact, most of our guests either have never had lamb, or are a bit wary. Sometimes they have bad memories of dried out lamb with gooey mint jelly, or maybe they’re thinking of how cute the little guys are. In every case, though, we win them over and they leave our table converts to the delights of eating properly cooked lamb.

Lamb can be grilled with great success, but this weekend I made a delicious stew, with Moroccan spices, apricots and garbanzo beans. Like any stew, the work is front-loaded. You do all your prep, get it cooking, and then go about your day, maybe getting ready for guests, while it bubbles away and comes together into sweet spicy goodness on your stove.

I like to serve this with couscous flavored with chopped mint, toasted slivered almonds, and grated lemon zest. Lightly steamed green beans provide a touch of contrast, and a full-bodied red wine like Shiraz or Malbec is a fine complement.

Note: Shoulder is a good cut for stew, but I’ve had success with leg of lamb, when shoulder wasn’t available.  A leg is usually close to five pounds, so double the recipe and invite a few more friends.

Serves 6.

Adapted from Bon Appétit

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 1/2 pounds trimmed lamb, cut into 1 1/2- to 2-inch chunks

4 Tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 Tablespoon tomato paste

2 cups low-salt chicken broth

15 ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained

1 cup dried apricots (about 5 ounces), halved

15 ounce can diced tomatoes

2 cinnamon sticks

1 Tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger

2 teaspoons (packed) grated lemon peel

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

Mix first 6 ingredients in large bowl. Add lamb and toss to coat. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add lamb to skillet and cook until browned on all sides, turning occasionally and adding 2 more tablespoons oil to skillet between batches, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer lamb to another large bowl after each batch.

Add onion and tomato paste to drippings in skillet. Reduce heat to medium; sauté until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add broth, garbanzo beans, apricots, tomatoes, cinnamon sticks, ginger, and lemon peel and bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Return lamb to skillet and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until lamb is just tender, about 1 hour. Uncover and simmer until sauce thickens enough to coat spoon, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer lamb and sauce to bowl. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

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“Enough with the sweets already!,” you’re saying.  I understand. It’s time for dinner, and you’re wondering what I’ve got in the light, nutritious and flavorful category. Well, fear not.  I’ve got just the thing — baked tilapia over nutty brown rice, black beans, pineapple and salsa.  How’s that?  You’re welcome.

Adapted from Ingrid Hoffmann

Ingredients:

1 cup long grain brown rice

2 cups chicken broth

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Zest of one lime

Juice of one lime

Cilantro, chopped

Salt & Pepper

4 (~6 oz.) tilapia filets

2 cups of your favorite chunky tomato salsa (jarred or homemade), drained

15 oz. can Black Beans, rinsed and drained

2 cups diced pineapple (fresh is best, but canned works in a pinch)

Fresh limes for garnish

Directions:

Combine rice and chicken broth in a pot.  Bring to boil.  Lower heat to “low” and cover.  Cook for 45-50 minutes, or until rice is tender and broth is completely absorbed.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Stir together the cooked rice, salsa, beans, and pineapple. Spread in a 9×13 pan or other shallow 2-3 quart casserole dish.

Brush tilapia with olive oil.  Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.  Squeeze lime over the fish and lay the filets over the top of the rice mixture.  Sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

Bake until the fish flakes easily, is opaque and cooked through, 25-30 minutes.

Serve with lime slices.

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Today, we are going to be talking about Yankee food (and I don’t mean hot dogs at the ball park). To understand Yankee food, you have to answer the question, “What is a Yankee?” To people in the Western Hemisphere, a Yankee is someone from North America (think “Yankee, go home!”). To North Americans, Yankees live in the United States. To Americans, a Yankee is someone above the Mason-Dixon line. People in those northern states would say a Yankee is someone who lives in New England.  To New Englanders, a Yankee lives in Vermont. And Vermonters would say a Yankee is someone who eats apple pie for breakfast…

… or maybe baked beans and brown bread.  This recipe was given to me by an old friend whose family had been in New England so long that they had land that had been given to them as payment for service in the war — you know, the Revolutionary War.

Food can reach back and teach us about the past.  In those early days when white folks first settled New England, they ate what they could grow. Beans were (and still are) cheap and filling, and meat was used sparingly. This bread uses modest amounts of wheat, which was less available than other grains, contains no precious oil or butter, and is steamed in the manner of old English puddings.  The result is a delicious, hearty and healthy meal and a lesson in American history.

Nancy’s Boston Baked Beans

Warning! This makes a massive amount of beans.  Feed your family.  Feed your neighbors.

Ingredients:

One onion, quartered

2 lbs. Jacob Cattle Beans, or other small white bean (I used Great Northern beans)

8 oz. salt pork (can substitute bacon if necessary)

1/4 cup brown sugar

2/3 cup molasses

2 tsp. dry mustard

4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

Directions:

Soak beans overnight in a large pot with water covering the beans by two inches.  In the morning, parboil the beans for 30 minutes or until the skins start to come off when you blow on them.  Drain.

In large bean pot or dutch oven, place quartered onion, and cover with beans.  Place salt pork on top of beans. Mix the sugar, molasses, mustard, pepper and salt with 2 cups boiling water. Pour mixture over the beans.  Add more water to cover the surface of the beans.  Cover the pot with a lid and bake at 300 degrees F for 6 hours or more, adding more hot water as the beans cook.  Serve with brown bread (recipe below).

Brown Bread

This is traditionally made in old coffee cans, but coffee doesn’t come in cans so often anymore, so one has to improvise. Improvising makes real Yankees happy.  Do not go to your local kitchen supply store and buy a fancy pudding mold.  That would offend those thrifty folks, whose motto was “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Ingredients:

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup whole grain rye flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 cups buttermilk

1 cup molasses

1 cup raisins or dried currants

Directions:

Generously butter one 9×5 inch loaf pan or 2 clean 28 ounce tin cans.  Mix first 5 ingredients in large bowl.  Add buttermilk, molasses and raisins and stir well to combine.

Transfer batter to prepared loaf pan or divide between the two prepared cans.  Butter a piece of foil and use it to cover the pan well, buttered side down.  Secure with kitchen twine.  Place loaf pan in a large wide pot (I used my stock pot).  Pour enough water into pot to come halfway up sides of loaf pan or cans.  Bring water to boil, then reduce heat to low.  Cover pot and simmer until tester inserted into center of bread comes out clean, about three hours.  Add more water to pot as necessary to keep water halfway up sides of pan or cans.

Remove pan or cans from pot.  Cool bread in pan for 15 minutes before gently removing.  Slice and serve, either warm or at room temperature.  Brown bread is very good smeared with cream cheese.

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