Let's EatSeasonal Recipes
One of the many benefits of making this change is how delicious and nutritious things become—not just for the pollinators we hope to attract but for us, too. I thought a couple of recipes using what grows without any help in the backyard was worth its own post. Featured on our buffet today are stinging nettles, sweet violets and dandelions.
Every spring, as the first fresh produce comes to market, I start planning for the winter months ahead. Some vegetables lend themselves better to freezing than others, of course. My new potatoes, spring onions, carrots, leeks and asparagus usually just get enjoyed fresh (though I have frozen asparagus with success for winter pureed soups). The spring broccoli and cauliflower are good freezer candidates—if you can contain your appetite not to eat all that goodness right up. And a winter staple after the last of my stored garlic is gone has always been garlic scapes—good to freeze and great garlic flavor for soups, stews, sautés. And this year, one stuffed bag of scapes remained. What to do?
In the snowy depths of wintery February, I like to think that Valentine’s Day comes along to warm our hearts with homemade cards, paper mâché roses and sweet treats of rich chocolate, creamy caramel and crunchy toasted nuts. Actually, I do more than think about it; I bake!
With stores of hard sweet carrots from my crisper, a sturdy vermillion squash called Potimarron from the pantry shelf and rusty shallots snatched from my basement storage cart, orange becomes the new green! Steaming bowls of antioxidant power and beneficial beta keratin will warm us up and keep us healthy on cold winter afternoons and evenings.
One of my favorite winter greens are those cute little cabbages know as Brussel sprouts. They are easy to fix in a million ways and bring a real freshness to wintertime meals. They are a family favorite with us now, but that used to not be the case. Years ago when I was much, much less experienced in the kitchen I tried boiling them, steaming them—all to everyone’s disappointment. Then I found recipes for shredding them and sautéing them. That changed everything.
Long ago, when my daughter was in grade school and my grandma lived with us out in the country, I used to make this rice pudding dish. The original version came from a way-back issue of Cooking Light Magazine and involved a lot of low-fat ingredients that I would not be using today. But we loved it—all of us—even Grandma, who was not a rice fancier. This dish was meant as a dessert, rather a decadent one, even by Cooking Light standards, but the enticement of warm rice pudding on a cold December day made this a special weekend breakfast treat in our house. Even if I added the optional amaretto liquor!
I cannot think of a more autumn vegetable than squash—any kind from pumpkins, to butternuts, to Acorn. Squash is comfort food that can be served at breakfast—maybe in a hash or just roasted with maple syrup—enjoyed at lunch—as in little squash bowls filled with hearty grains—or for dinner, which is where we are landing today. A Squash and Potato Casserole that can be a weekend meal with plenty of leftovers or the star attraction for that Thanksgiving buffet.
Biscotti is one of my favorite cookies, especially as the season of gift giving begins. It’s sturdy, stores well and can be made at least a week before delivery. I’m always looking for ways to turn basic biscotti into something special—not that basic biscotti isn’t special on its own. But you know what I mean…something to surprise and elevate.
This dish is inspired by a variety of eggplant known as Fairytale, and these sweet tiny globes live up to their whimsical name. About “Barbie” size and variegated purple and white, as pretty as a Monet. Really cute and probably only showing up at farmers markets, Fairytales can perplex cooks as they consider how to prepare them. Most regular eggplant recipes just won’t work here. So I had to come up with something new.
For the entire summer, I have luxuriated in the most amazing organic carrots—quite the treat at the farmers market because they are not usually plentiful, organic or not. Carrots take up lots of garden space and can grow in really wonky shapes and sizes—not at all like the pristine orange spikes you find in the grocery stores. That’s why carrots are prime food waste in the conventional world of agriculture—cheap, only perfect and taken totally for granted. Market carrots can be a hard sell to perfect-produce loving consumers.
I am always looking for new ways to use ground cherries, those golden globes of farmers markets across the Midwest. I’ve been developing recipes for these one-of-a-kind berries (Actually they are a member of the tomatillo family!) since I started this blog way back in 2015.
This year, I decided to try them as a base for a marinade, using fresh basil from my garden and a fresh blonde habanero pepper (just one, as they are HOT).
I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting with goat milk—I was thinking sort of gamey and strong. I was so wrong! Eddie’s milk is sweet and light and unbelievably versatile. I’ve had it in coffee, on granola and, of course, in these oats. The overnight oats, by the way, are not only delicious but also quick and easy to prepare–great for busy school and work mornings when nutrition is so necessary, and time is so nonexistent.
Everyone knows that summer is my absolute favorite season. One of the reasons why is the abundance of summer fruits, especially the stone fruits—the peaches, plums, nectarines. Soft, sweet and dripping down your chin. Mmmmm. So once Friedel Family Farm started loading their market table with all these Lucious fruits, I was inspired to develop a few recipes. I am particularly proud of this galette because it came together with a lovely flavor balance of semi tart fruits—plums, peaches and blackberries nestled in a super-short sugar cookie crust.
I can’t think of a more quintessential summer pastime than a cool dip in a favorite swimming hole, can you? Of course, the dip here is about eating, not swimming. Although, the recipe makes a nice poolside snack, I do believe.
If I am given my choice for dessert, I usually choose something creamy like ice cream or pudding with a short cookie or crust. A refrigerated cream pie is divine! Crème Brulee with shortbread pure heaven! I like cake, of course, but it’s never my first choice; my grandma favored pies and cobblers with incredibly short flaky crusts, so perhaps that is where my preferences began. But put a slice of real pound-of-butter pound cake in front of me…particularly lemon pound cake that has been chilled in the fridge…well, if I must.
Childhood memories fogged around me for days earlier this month when my friend Sally invited me out to her farm to pick mulberries. Sally has several trees and forages daily as this bountiful berry ripens…and ripens…and ripens. Yep a lot of berries, sweet with their own very distinct floral flavor but fragile, with only a short window to use or preserve or freeze.
What I love most about my Carrot and Fennel Top Quinoa Salad is that the ingredients help us avoid food waste while encouraging the use of really local ingredients. Furthermore, there are any number of variations you could incorporate into this dish as the market season progresses. So on to cleaning those tops!
I cannot imagine my kitchen without the spirits of my grandma and mom or the voices of my favorite chefs and best friends. In one way or another, they all have inspired, informed and contributed to every recipe I have ever developed. This has never been truer than in the development of these fluffy, rich rye rolls.