Will Travel for Food

MUSSEL RISOTTO WITH PARSLEY PURÉE

By Sanford D’Amato, Photos by Dominic Perri

mussel-risotto.gif

I’m keeping my foot to the floor so I don’t lose the firefly-sized tail lights in front of me. It’s almost a losing battle as the matchbox Fiat rental Angie and I are in seems to be powered by a wind up rubber band. The rain is pummeling the windshield and the only thing I’m sure about is that there is a large crevasse on either side of the road.

It’s 1985 and my wife, Angie, and I are driving through Europe for the first time. From our starting point in Brussels until our last day in Paris, there was one daily ritual we could count on—we would be lost for part of the day.

This day, it was the second largest city in Italy: Milan. We started out from a small pensione called Hotel Asnigo situated in the hills overlooking Lake Como. The older proprietor, Luigi, lent us his personal map—which, judging from the condition of the paper, must have been a christening gift—to direct us the 40-some miles to Milan from Cernobbio.

We arrived in Milan a few hours before our dinner reservation at 8pm. Being that it was sunny and light out, we didn’t really need the map as the route was very well posted with “Milano” directing signs every few miles.

We went to a traditional Milanese restaurant, and we put ourselves in the hands of the waiter. He brought us a selection from the copious antipasto table that we had to maneuver around as we were seated. The plate contained all pristine grilled and roasted vegetables, some sweet and sour, stuffed or crusted, flanked by paper-thin regional cured meats and salamis.

For the entrée, it was Piccata of Chicken and Veal Cotaletta. All was delicious, but the star of the dinner arrived between the antipasto and entrée. This was usually the position reserved for pasta in Italy, but we were in the north, which means rice, and the waiter brought two of the special Seafood Risottos. This was my first taste of risotto and it immediately changed the way I thought about the white grain. Growing up, we were a Minute Rice family, and I felt that the bland white kernels just took up valuable real estate on my plate that could have been put to better use. This rice took more than a minute. It was cooked all’onda, which loosely translates to wavy. When you tap the rim of the dish, the creamy rice slightly undulates like ocean waves with the pristine chunks of seafood looking like little bouncing buoys. It was absolutely luscious, with each perfectly cooked kernel of rice exploding with briny crustacean goodness.

We walked out of the restaurant after dinner, and the perfect night had turned into an impromptu gale. We ran to the car and unfolded the map, which quickly deteriorated into four separate pieces. Using our best internal GPS, we tried to retrace our way back to the Autostrada (highway), but soon found ourselves following the only tail lights around down a dark and otherwise deserted road. We knew we were in big trouble when the tail lights became headlights that started to beam down on us, eventually swiping right past us on the narrow road. That’s when we figured out we might be following another lost traveler.

After an hour of aimlessly driving, we miraculously ran into the Autostrada ramp flanked by a minute arrow sign pointing toward Cernobbio. Saved again from self-destruction.

Today’s risotto is inspired by that night of highs and lows. I suggest using short-grain Carnaroli or Nano Vialone rice or the easier to procure Arborio for this dish. Be sure and keep it fluid (but not watery) and please don’t overcook the rice. After your first taste, you’ll agree this is a dish worth driving for.

MUSSEL RISOTTO WITH PARSLEY PURÉE

Serves 4 as an appetizer

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion, peeled and diced fine; need ½ cup

1 cup Carnaroli rice

2 tablespoons chopped garlic

½ teaspoon hot pepper flakes

2 bay leaves

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1 cup dry sherry, heated

2–2¼ cups no-salt vegetable stock, heated

24 cleaned mussels, placed in a covered pot with ¼ cup dry white wine

½ cup packed (½ ounce) cleaned fresh Italian parsley leaves, puréed with ½ cup no-salt vegetable stock

2 tablespoons salted butter

Fresh Italian parsley sprigs for garnish

Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Place a saucepan over medium heat. Add oil, then add onion, and cook about 3–4 minutes, until opaque. Add rice and, with a wooden spoon, continually stir to lightly toast, about 3 minutes.

Add garlic, pepper flakes, bay leaves, and thyme and stir for 30 seconds. Add hot sherry, continue stirring, add salt and pepper, and cook until rice starts to absorb sherry.

Start adding the stock by small ladles, just enough to keep the rice liquid and continually absorbing—keep stirring so rice does not stick.

While rice is cooking, place mussel pot over medium heat and steam mussels open—should take 2–3 minutes. Remove pan from heat as soon as the mussels open. Keep pan covered.

Add all liquid from mussels as the next addition of liquid to the risotto. Taste rice and continue adding stock until rice is just cooked, but still al dente. At this point, rice should be creamy and fluid, but not watery.

Finish rice by stirring in butter and parsley purée, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve immediately in 4 hot bowls. Garnish with warm mussels and parsley sprigs on top.

Last Bite: Asparagus

Last Bite: Asparagus

Fresh Hadley grass is fabulous adorned with nothing more than a pat of butter. But during asparagus season, we eat it every day and want to shake up our asparagus game. Here are a few of our favorite ways to enjoy this lovely local treat.

Read More

20 Recipes for a Festive Fourth!

On the Grill

Photo courtesy Edible Capital District  Try using local lamb (or beef) in these Lamb Burgers with Raita from Edible Capital District
Photo courtesy of Edible Sarasota Grill up these non-traditional Cauliflower Burgers for a vegetarian option. Thanks to Edible Sarasota for this fresh approach!
Photo courtesy of Edible Tulsa Edible Tulsa's Chicken Burgers are a great way to show off local chicken and ripe tomatoes. 
2015_Apr30_EdiblePIoneerValley_Summer_035 Impress family and friends with Grilled Scallops with Caramel Corn Sauce from our Summer issue. No scallops? Shrimp make a great substitute!
Photo by Elaine Papa Don't let whole fish scare you away from the fish counter. Chef Giordano's Grilled Mackerel with Spicy Cabbage Slaw will convert you to the beauty of grilling whole fish.
grilled-feta-veggie-kebabs-1

 An unusual and delicious option is these Grilled Feta and Vegetable Kabobs from Edible Sarasota.

sutter_rec120  These Korean-Inspired Tacos from our Summer 2014 issue are a sure-fire crowd-pleaser. Want to go vegetarian? The marinade is fabulous on firm tofu or portabello mushrooms as well. 
franklin2  This classic Grilled Tri-Tip is a traditionally delicious approach to this beefy cut. 

Sides and Snacks 

11536508_891285734276327_6499994447551028885_o When it's hot out, a puckery pickle can help quench your thirst. These Quick Pickles are ready in a just an hour or two and can use up any veggies you have on hand. 
eV11_fromthemarket_elizabethcecil_02_650_434_90  Edible Vineyard shares Paula Wolfert's classic Fattoush recipe with us.
carrots67_650_974_90 

The Curried Carrot Salad from Edible Vineyard is an elegant, yet simply-prepared, addition to your holiday weekend table. 

simply-Asian-tomato-salad  Ripe tomatoes? Tomato Salad to the rescue. Thanks Edible Green Mountains!
 Photo courtesy of Edible Indy http://edibleindy.ediblefeast.com/recipes/german-potato-salad
grilled-beet-salad  If the grill's hot, everything should get on there, even beets. Try them in this Grilled Beet Salad from Edible Santa Fe
whipped-goat-cheese-with-pea-shoots Need a snacky starter? Try these Whipped Goat Cheese Toasts from Edible Green Mountains. Up your holiday weekend chef credentials by grilling the toasts before topping them.
Photo courtesy of Edible Santa Barbara This Watercress and Spring Pea Salad from Edible Santa Barbara is a light, flavorful contrast to the traditional burgers and dogs. 

  Desserts 

Photo courtesy of Red Fire Farm  This Strawberry Cake is loaded with fresh fruit, easy to put together and can be made gluten free or vegan if you wish. Wait are you waiting for?
coversneak  This Blueberry Corn Bread from Edible Boston is a dessert crossed with a side dish. Perfect for nibbling all day.
Photo by Dominic Perri Virginia Willis' Cream Cheese Brownies are guaranteed to please the kids, the added fruit (via applesauce) pleases the parents. 
new-england-berry-galette-hoverfly Make Edible Green Mountains' Berry Galette extra festive for the Fourth by using strawberries and blueberries and giving it a dollop of whipped cream. 

 

 

EDIBLE RADIO: SAVEUR'S THE NEW CLASSICS, SANDWICHES AND SPICE RUBS WITH HELEN ROSNER

covernewclassicsKitchen Workshop host Mary Reilly, editor and publisher of Edible Pioneer Valley is joined by Helen Rosner. Helen is an editor, writer and photographer. She is also a contributing editor at Saveur magazine, where she was responsible for wrangling over 1000 recipes into the book: The New Classics Cookbook.

In this action-packed podcast, Mary and Helen cover home-made spice rubs and blends, including a fresh poultry seasoning that will change how you cook chicken. Then they discuss the similarity between sandwiches and home construction, get salty discussing the classic dish: Sh** On a Shingle, the relatively unknown Schnitzel and the perfect Italian Beef Sandwich.

Recipes for Homemade Fresh Poultry Seasoning and Schnitzel below.

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Homemade Fresh Poultry Seasoning

Our fresh poultry seasoning blend puts the jarred stuff to shame. This pungent, lively mix leaves out salt, so you can add it directly to turkey, stuffing, or chicken without fear of overseasoning.  

MAKES ABOUT ½ CUP

  • 3 tbsp. finely chopped thyme
  • 3 tbsp. finely chopped rosemary
  • 3 tbsp. finely chopped sage
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped marjoram
  • ½ tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. celery seeds
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika

Combine thyme, rosemary, sage, marjoram, pepper, celery seeds, nutmeg, ginger, and paprika in a bowl or jar and mix well. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 

  

Schnitzel Sandwich

Serves 4

Schnitzi Schnitzel Bar, in Brooklyn, New York, makes nine different types of schnitzel—a breaded chicken sandwich popular in Israel and in Orthodox Jewish enclaves in the U.S.—and serves them with 13 varieties of homemade sauce. This recipe is an adaptation of the restaurant’s chile-flecked “Spanish” schnitzel, one of its most popular variations. 

Edible Pioneer Valley note: Don't get discouraged by the number of ingredients and components listed. The sauces can be made ahead or you can substitute other sauces and spreads of your choice.

FOR THE PESTO SAUCE

  • 61⁄2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 3⁄4 cup plus 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. pine nuts, toasted 
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

FOR THE RED CHIMICHURRI SAUCE:

  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¾ cup roughly chopped roasted red bell peppers
  • ¼ cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1½ tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped oregano
  • 1½ tsp. crushed red chile flakes
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. ground cumin
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley

 FOR THE SCHNITZEL

  • 4 cups flour
  • 8 eggs, beaten
  • 4 cups dried bread crumbs
  • 1⁄2 cup crushed red chile flakes 
  • 12 1⁄4′′-thick chicken cutlets
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1⁄4 cup canola oil
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced lengthwise 
  • 4 12′′ French baguettes, split
  • Sweet chile sauce, to taste
  • 4 cups loosely packed shredded romaine lettuce 
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1⁄2 cup sliced dill pickles

Make the pesto: Combine basil, oil, nuts, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor and process until smooth; transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

Make the chimichurri: Clean the food processor, then add oil, peppers, white vinegar, salt, wine vinegar, paprika, oregano, chile flakes, pepper, cumin, garlic, parsley, and 1⁄4 cup water. Process until smooth; transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

Place flour, eggs, and bread crumbs mixed with chile flakes in three separate shallow dishes. Season flour and chicken with salt and pepper. Working in batches, coat cutlets with flour, shaking off excess. Dip in eggs, then dredge in bread crumb mixture. Set aside.

Heat oil in a 12′′ skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add cutlets and cook, turning once, until golden brown, 4–6 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Once all cutlets are cooked, add half the onions to skillet and cook, stirring often, until soft and caramelized, about 8 minutes.

Place 3 cutlets on bottom half of each baguette and cover with sauces, to taste. Top each with lettuce, tomatoes, remaining raw onions, cooked onions, and pickles. Cover with top half of baguette.

School Celebrations: Maintaining Tradition Far From Home

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2014_Oct16_EdiblePioneerValley_Winter_5713

By Ryan Cashman | Photographs by Dominic Perri

Over the river and through the wood, to Grandfather’s house we go …”

Over 170 years ago Lydia Maria Child perfectly expressed the excitement of an impending family celebration (in her case, Thanksgiving at her grandfather’s home in Medford). The spirit of this poem continues to resonate with many of us and going home for the holidays is a key part of many family traditions.

Each year, thousands of international students call the Pioneer Valley’s colleges and universities home. Ryan Cashman, a student at Westfield State University, visited with members of the international community at three different schools and shares their stories with us.

For Max Saito food is more than just sustenance.

“Food is important to relationships and friendships and being together, and is important to your health,” he says. “It’s essential.”

Max was born and raised in Japan, in the Yamagata Prefecture. He came to America in 1989 and is now an associate professor in the communications department at Westfield State University. Max and his family embrace the traditions and foods associated with the New Year celebration. He explains that “It’s really about celebrating good luck, good health, good fortune, safety.”

The foods on the table play a role larger than simple nourishment. Beans and mochi (glutinous rice), for instance: “Beans bring good health and good luck. Mochi gives you strength and longevity,” Max explains while miming stretching out the rice with his hands. “Mochi also gives you a lot of energy.”

Soba noodles are another dish that represents long life and are also a very important dish in the Japanese New Year tradition.

New Year Soba (Toshikoshi Soba

Dashi is a seasoned stock made with kombu (dried kelp) and bonito flakes (shaved skipjack tuna). It’s the base of many Japanese noodle dishes and miso soup. Yields 4 servings.

6 cups dashi (Recipe here)

⅔ cup soy sauce

⅓ cup mirin

1 tablespoon sugar

8 ounces soba noodles (buckwheat noodles)

Garnishes: 1 bunch scallions, green parts sliced very thin, fish cakes, tempura flakes, nori (seaweed)

Simmer together the dashi, soy sauce, mirin, and sugar. Keep warm for serving.

Cook soba noodles in a large pot of boiling water, according to package directions. Drain the noodles and rinse in cool water, gently rubbing them to remove any excess starch on the surface of the noodle.

Pour the hot dashi broth into soup bowls. Distribute the soba noodles equally. Add garnishes of your choice.

Nay Paing is a sophomore majoring in political economy and third world development at Hampshire College. When the winter winds start to blow he thinks fondly of the warm weather in his home country. Burma, officially known as the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, is a country in Southeastern Asia and is bordered by Bangladesh, China, India, Laos, and Thailand. The country sits between the Equator and the Tropic of Cancer, giving it a tropical climate with yearly monsoons and humid summers.

The Burmese celebrate the full moon on Tabodwe (which usually occurs in February). Paing says the traditional celebration dish is htamanè. Tradition requires that this snack be prepared in large quantities by several people (usually men) working together.

“I don’t know how to make any of this stuff,” Paing confesses. But, he said, it tastes good.

Htamanè

Our version of htamanè is nontraditional in that it’s made in a fairly small quantity. If you’re feeding a crowd, it doubles easily. The traditional dish is also kneaded together by several cooks to form a rice dough or paste. A simple way to knead the rice is in a stand mixer with paddle attachment. (Htamanè is pictured on page 1.) Yields about 4 cups.

¼ cup oil

1½ cups glutinous rice (also called sweet rice), soaked overnight in water and drained well

2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into fine slivers

¾ cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1 banana leaf, cut to fit the top of your cooking vessel, optional (you can find banana leaves in the freezer section of Asian markets)

½ cup roasted peanuts, chopped

½ cup sesame seeds

½ cup shredded coconut

In a wok or wide skillet (12-inch) heat oil until very hot and nearly smoking.

Add soaked rice (be careful: The liquid in the rice may cause a fair amount of spattering) and ginger and sauté for 5 minutes. Add water, salt, bring to boil.

Lay the banana leaf over the top of the rice, if using. Cover the pan and cook over very low heat for 20 minutes. Turn off heat and let rice steam for another 10 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients and stir into the rice. Drain off any excess oil. Serve.

Sidonio “Sid” Ferreira, director of enrollment services and instructional support, is the founder of the Cape Verdean Student Alliance at UMass Amherst. Christmas is the biggest celebration of the year in the culture of Cape Verde, an island nation off the west coast of Africa.

“It was never hard for me or any of us to bring our traditions over to America,” he says. “When we immigrated we went to New Bedford … everything we needed in terms of food was available and everyone was celebrating. It was pretty easy to bring our traditions and keep them alive.

“On Christmas Eve we all have a boiled codfish dinner.” Salted cod, or bacalhau, is a traditional Portuguese ingredient and it was introduced to Cape Verde when the islands were still a Portuguese colony. In Sid’s home, bacalhau is soaked in a tub of water to draw out all of the salt and is then boiled with potatoes, carrots, yams, and kale.

“We serve it with lots of oil and vinegar,” says Sid.

And of course, “desserts are very important!” Sid exclaims. The most important dessert is the pudim de queijo (milk pudding), a baked goat’s cheese dessert similar to flan.

2014_Oct16_EdiblePioneerValley_Winter_5661

2014_Oct16_EdiblePioneerValley_Winter_5661

Pudim de Queijo (Milk Pudding) 

You may also bake this in individual custard cups or ramekins if you prefer. They will take less time, about 15–20 minutes.

1 cup (240 grams) sugar

1 cup water

8 ounces soft goat cheese (chevre), crumbled

2 eggs

4 egg yolks

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease an 8-inch glass pie pan with butter or pan spray.

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer until the liquid is the consistency of a thick syrup. Add the cheese and mix well. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Beat in eggs and yolks.

Pour in the cheese mixture. Place the pie into a roasting pan large enough to hold it and pour boiling water into the roasting pan to about halfway up the pie pan’s sides.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the pudim jiggles just slightly when you jostle the pie pan. Cool before unmolding and serving.

Ryan Cashman is a junior communications major at Westfield State University. He writes for the campus newspaper.

The Not-So-Strange Case of Dr. Plum and Mr. Prune

By Sanford D’Amato

With Halloween approaching, there is nothing better to strike fear into kids than a scary movie. One of my favorite old films is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, from the R. L. Stevenson book, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which became a way to describe the tug-of-war between internal good and evil. 

It seems that some very common foods have that same good and evil DNA in people’s minds. These foods, and their split personalities, have the ability to paralyze us. There is no way our hands will deliver these foods to our mouths. Vegetables are the usual suspects but even some fruits have this ability. 

My first realization of this was long ago...

I’m bounding down the painted cement stairs, half holding on to the concave handrail. It is worn away and heavily patinaed from years of supporting miniature grimy, sweaty hands fresh from the upstairs playground. As I hit the bottom stair, a nun points to the bathroom door to the right. Rough granules spill from the dry soap dispenser onto my darkened paws and as I rub them under the faucet, they magically brighten before my eyes. 

I leave and as I’m walking toward the large arch, it hits me, that smell. It’s like an over-baked ziti casserole mixed with pencil shavings and lead—#2, if I’m not mistaken. It’s hot lunch time, the best part of my grade school day. As I grab my tray, I know that no matter what the daily menu is I can depend on there being a small parfait glass filled with some type of canned fruit. It ranges from the real crowd-pleasers—fruit cocktail, sliced peaches, or pears—to the almost exotic apricot halves or the dreaded prunes, bobbing in their mud-colored syrup. I say “dreaded” because of the angst that would spread through the line as the first person got to the window. Our only way out was to borrow a leftover wax paper bag from someone who brought their lunch from home, de-pit them, place the pits in the glass dish, deposit the prune flesh in the bag, then mule it out—all under the falcon-vision of the black-habited monitors.

As I make this dessert today, all I can think about is that the same folks who would have had trouble keeping down a stewed prune would be completely smitten with a plum tart. Prunes are the ugly, wrinkled, almost deformed Mr. Hyde to the handsome, smooth and dignified “plummy” Dr. Jekyll and most folks never put together the fact that they come from the same body! 

Coming from the French or Italian varieties, in their fresh state, these dusky ovals are freestone, which means they are easy to handle. And they have a dry constitution, which during baking causes the internal juices to slowly render out and form their own delicious sticky sweet-tart glaze. When dried, their flavor intensifies to a higher plane giving even a small wedge the ability to explode on the palate with a deep, juicy, mature richness. 

The first of my two recipes is with oven-half-dried fresh plums from the Northampton farmers market with “Halloween scary” liver from Sutter Meats, which I think you’ll find offal-ly good. 

You may have forgotten that it was the law that you had to be at least on Social Security before you would willingly consume a prune. But have an open mind when you try my second recipe for Prune and Fig Kisses. After the first taste Mr. Hyde might not look so frightening. And even though he can’t go back to being a plum, I think you’ll see after trying both Jekyll and Hyde that they are not so very different after all.

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2014_Aug4_EdiblePioneerValley_Recipes_1968_2100px

Sautéed Liver with Plums, Bacon, Scallions, and Sage Brown Butter

If you don’t often cook liver at home, this is a nice introduction to this cut. Veal liver will be the mildest and with pork and lamb liver having a stronger flavor. You can roast the plums for this dish up to a day ahead of time.

3 Italian plums (also called prune plums; substitute another type of plum if Italian plums aren’t available)

2 slices thick-cut bacon, each slice cut into ¼-inch pieces

2 (6-ounce) slices fresh beef, veal, pork, or lamb liver (about ½ inch thick)

¼ cup whole milk

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Wondra flour, to dust liver

3 tablespoons butter

2 scallions, washed, trimmed, and cut in 1-inch pieces on the bias

6 fresh sage leaves

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice 

Roast the plums: Cut plums in half, remove pits, cut each half in half, and bake in a 250° oven for 1 hour; let cool.

Place a sauté pan, large enough to hold the liver in 1 layer without crowding, over medium heat. When pan is hot, add the bacon and render until golden, about 3–4 minutes. Strain out the bacon and reserve the bacon and fat separately. Place liver in the milk, remove, and season with salt and pepper. Dust liver with Wondra.

Wipe out the sauté pan and place it back over medium-high heat. When pan is hot, add the reserved bacon fat. When fat is hot, remove the liver from the flour and pat off the excess. Add liver to the pan and sauté until golden, 2–3 minutes per side or to your desired doneness.

Put the liver onto warmed dinner plates. Discard any remaining fat from the pan. Add butter to the pan and place over medium heat. When butter is golden brown, add the plums, scallions, sage, and reserved bacon and toss. Immediately add the vinegar and lemon juice, stir, spoon over the liver, and serve. Season with salt to taste.

Yield: 2 servings

Prune and Fig Cinnamon Kisses

Don’t let fear of frying keep you from making this dessert.  Just make sure you heat your oil (about 2 inches) in a deep pot, and don’t crowd the oil with too many kisses at once.

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2014_July24_EdiblePioneerValley_Recipes_1399_2100px

2 cups dried pitted prunes, diced small 

1½ cups dried Mission figs, stem removed, diced small

¾ cup pitted dates, diced small

2 bay leaves

4 star anise

⅜ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

¼ cup dark rum

1 cup water

1¾ tablespoon orange rind

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 cup slivered almonds

1 teaspoon peanut oil

1 package wonton wrappers (need 48 wrappers)

2 egg yolks mixed with 1 tablespoon water

Cinnamon Sugar (recipe follows) 

In a 12-inch nonstick pan, add prunes, figs, dates, bay leaves, anise, ⅛ teaspoon of the salt, pepper, rum, water, orange rind, and lemon juice and bring up to a simmer and cook, mixing, until dry. Remove the star anise and bay leaves and cool.

In a separate pan, mix together the almonds, oil, and the remaining salt. Bake in a 350° oven for about 12 minutes, tossing frequently during baking, until golden brown. Remove and cool.

Chop almonds into a small dice. Mix with the dried fruit mixture. Place about 1 tablespoon of the mixture in the middle of each wonton wrapper. Brush a bit of the egg mixture on 2 adjoining sides of the wrapper, about ¼ inch in from the end. Fold over the other side and seal well. Deep-fry in batches in 360° peanut oil for about 1 minute, until golden brown. Drain briefly on absorbent paper, then toss in Cinnamon Sugar. Serve warm. 

Yield: 48 kisses

For the Cinnamon Sugar:

½ cup superfine sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

Mix ingredients together in a large bowl.

Sanford (Sandy) D’Amato is a James Beard Award–winning chef who teaches cooking classes at Good Stock Farm, his home in Hatfield. He is the former chef/owner of Sanford Restaurant in Milwaukee, WI, and the author of GOOD STOCK: Life on a Low Simmer, his memoir with recipes. Learn more about Sandy and good Stock Farm cooking classes at GoodStockFarm.com. 

Edible Reads Review: Good and Cheap by Leanne Brown

Good and Cheap Teaches Home Cooks How to Eat Healthy, Inspired Food for Just $4 a Day.

By Samantha Marsh

good-and-cheap-cover

good-and-cheap-cover

Eating good food is not always as easy as I would like it to be. My busy life often take precedence over putting a healthy meal on the table, and I end up spending our well-earned dollars on food that is fast, convenient, and much more expensive than I’d like.

There are so many barriers when it comes to food: accessibility of quality ingredients, the prevalence of “food deserts,” increased rates of diet-related illness, etc. In an effort to make sure that a tight budget or a lack of confidence in the kitchen do not get added this list, Leanne Brown has created a cookbook geared specifically for those living on a SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps) budget.

The 29-year-old food studies scholar started writing Good and Cheap as a capstone project for her master’s degree in food studies at New York University. Soon, the free PDF (available on her website LeanneBrown.ca/) went viral, and Brown started a KickStarter campaign to fund the printing of hardcopy cookbooks for those without internet access. A huge success online, Good and Cheap will soon be available in print.

The cookbook includes recipes for eating healthy, creative, and delicious meals for under $4 a day—an amount equivalent to the SNAP budget in New York City, where Brown resides. Unlike the uninspired, canned-soup-laden pages of budget cookbooks past, Good and Cheap offers recipes using fresh ingredients that are appealing to everyone. Brown’s tips for eating well on $4 a day include stocking your pantry with items like grains, dried beans, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and spices, and spending little to no money on store-bought beverages.

Good and Cheap is not a vegetarian cookbook, but Brown emphasizes using vegetables as the focus of the dish. Each recipe includes the total price per recipe and per serving. Brown maintains a friendly, nurturing tone throughout, empowering readers and reminding them that they too can cook healthy meals for themselves and their families, no matter what their budget may be.

“Learning to cook has a powerfully positive effect,” Brown says in the book’s introduction. “Good cooking alone can’t solve hunger in America, but it can make life happier—and that is worth every effort.”

cauliflower tacos

cauliflower tacos

Cauliflower Tacos

This is one of my favorite ways to use roasted cauliflower other than eating it straight. It’s a delicious change from the usual vegetable taco offerings. Just look at all those crunchy bits!

Roasted cauliflower (recipe below)

6 tortillas

½ cup cheese, grated

½ to 1 cup salsa (recipe below) or sauce of choice

Warm up the tortillas in the microwave for 20 to 30 seconds, or on a hot griddle or skillet, or put them in a warm oven covered with a towel while you prepare everything else.

Place 2 or 3 tortillas on each plate and fill with a generous serving of cauliflower.

Sprinkle the grated cheese overtop and drizzle with salsa or sauce of your choice. Enjoy!

2–3 servings, $6 total, $2–$3 per serving

Smoky and Spicy Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted veggies are always delicious, but there’s something magical that happens to cauliflower in the oven. It gets so crispy and nutty, and that flavor is brought out even more with the spices here. I’m happy to just eat a bowl of this for dinner, maybe with an egg on top.

1 head cauliflower, cut into small pieces

2 cloves garlic, unpeeled

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Preheat oven to 400°.

In a medium-sized roasting pan, arrange the cauliflower pieces and the unpeeled cloves of garlic. Pour the butter over the cauliflower and then sprinkle the spices over the top. Use your hands to thoroughly coat the cauliflower with butter and spices.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how crispy you like the florets. Squeeze the roasted garlic throughout and trash the skins.

Serves 4, $3.40 total, 85 cents per serving

Salsa

Summertime salsas combine a load of fresh tomatoes with smaller amounts of choice vegetables and fruit. In the winter, cook canned tomatoes for a few minutes first.

Apart from its usual use on tortilla chips and tacos, this salsa is a wonderful topping for fish or chicken, as a sauce for cold noodles, or as a finishing touch on a savory breakfast.

½ medium onion, finely diced

2 cups tomatoes, chopped

1 jalapeño pepper, finely diced

1 lime, juiced

¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped

Salt and pepper 

Additions:

Diced mango, peach, plum, or pineapple

Cooked beans

Corn kernels

Garlic 

If you like raw onion, go right ahead. Otherwise, take the edge off by simmering the onion with a bit of water in a pan over medium heat. The onion is ready once the water has boiled off. If you aren’t a fan of cilantro, substitute another herb: mint, savory, or lemon balm work well.

Mix the onion, tomato, and the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. Be sure to add enough salt and pepper!

Taste the salsa. You’re looking for a balance of spicy from the peppers, sweet from the tomatoes, and bright and fresh from the herbs and lime juice. If something’s out of balance, add the appropriate ingredient to bring it back into balance.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Fresh salsa won’t last as long as store-bought salsa because it doesn’t have any preservatives, but it’s so tasty that I’m sure you’ll finish it fast! 

Yield: 3 cups, $2.25, 75 cents per cup

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