Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sweet Potato Bread Pudding

Riverside Farm sweet potatoes made this bread pudding velvety and luscious!

Break out the bourbon -- this is breakfast food for champions!

Okay, maybe it's not breakfast food for all champions, but consider it tried and true for the two occupants in this house who needed sustenance before heading out to watch a grandson's early hockey game (husband) and plant an entire braid of Wild Miller's garlic (moi).  Hot out of the oven (albeit briefly cooled) and drizzled with a pecan praline sauce (enter bourbon), the custard for this tasty pudding was light and creamy.  Be sure to pick up some sweet potatoes at the next winter farmers' market, and if you're in or around Kittery, stop by Beach Pea Bakery and grab a French baguette!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Classic holiday appies and aperitifs

Filling for 1/2 doz. eggs: all yolks, bit of mayo, relish that has had liquid drained, chopped ripe olives (any type, or combo of several; save pimento for garnish), bit of prepared mustard (go with something textural, like whole grain, english pub mustard), s & p, and any other seasoning that moves you.  Forget using *anything* inedible as bedding for your finished eggs.  Here, Touching Earth's microgreens were a perfect element for plating up these delicious, pop-the-whole-thing-in-your-mouth deviled eggs.  :)
"Fresh" eggs are actually not the best eggs to use for deviled eggs.  Be sure to use older eggs (eggs keep for weeks if properly stored in the fridge) if you want to end up with smooth whites for your presentation.  With fresher eggs, the shell and its membrane are difficult to pull off the cooked albumin, resulting in less-than-favorable chunky whites.

Herbed butter and Sunnyfield Bakery's butternut squash bread --the only way to fly for this cold-smoked Coho salmon!  Herbs used for the butter included chervil (lots!), tarragon, parlsey and chives.  Yum.
I refuse to buy farmed salmon for many reasons, the least of which is its bland flavor.  With native stocks of wild salmon protected uunder the Endangered Species Act, I break the rule of localness and opt for wild salmon harvested from waters on the west coast--specifically those caught via sustainable methods, and the sales of which sustain communities that depend on healthy rivers and fish.  Many brands sell only farmed fish.  Look for those who procure wild salmon, particularly from one-line, one-hook methods.

Visit Ceres Street Wine Merchants for your holiday bubbles and stills!  David is awesomely knowledgeable and friendly (and a punny guy), and the atmosphere of his store is nostalgic and quaint.  You'll love it.  For our Thanksgiving nibbles we highly enjoyed this bottle of Moncontour's dry rosé that he recommended.  He did us right with its versatility; it was perfect with the salmon.

Oysters.  Learn how to shuck them properly, i.e. do not pop their hinges while holding them under running water.  I almost popped the big one when a friend did so with oysters they bought for serving on the half-shell.  Invest in a proper oyster knife or choose your best paring knife--one with a super rigid blade, watch a fishmonger or as many online videos as it takes, and then give it a go.  These local water quality improvers found their demise in a batch of classic New England oyster and bacon stuffing (thank you once again, New Roots, for that awesome jowl bacon). 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Best Cranberry Sauce

Gorgeous berries from Osprey Cove Organic (& Stone Wall Farm) located in Madbury .  Thanks Charlie and Ann!
Please Pick More!!
Pick up a bottle of delicious ruby port (try to get your hands on Jewell Towne's) and pour a cup of it into a pot, then ransack your cubbard for a cup of sugar, stick of cinnamon, and a star of anise.  That's all you need to whip up a 20-minute batch of cranberry sauce that'll knock your Aunt Jane's socks off. Okay, you'll need a bunch (shoot for 12ozs.) of cranberries, too.  And an Aunt Jane, I guess.

Put all into a pot, bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes until thickened and syrupy.  Careful!  Sugar in liquid loves to boil over.  Add orange zest at the very end if you feel Martha-ry.  The finished product will be gel-like from all the pectin in the berries.  This little concoction will not disappoint on any fall/winter table.  Promise!  Super delicious.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fresh Pumpkin ...on a sandwich? You bet!

Fresh roasted pumpkin topped with roasted garlic and caramelized onion jam, arugula and herbs, on rosemary batard.   Y-U-M. 
This was a very spontaneous creation for a casual meeting with vegetarian coworkers.  Being October and all, it only made sense to work some magic with a leftover pie pumpkin (did you see that pumpkin stew/gumbo recipe?).

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pumpkin Stew

Digging into this stew is fun and tasty.  The cooked, sweet pumpkin flesh easily pulls away with each spoonful of goodness, and provides lots of nutrients, flavor and rich, comfort-food texture.  The crunchy, seasoned pumpkin seeds make for a wonderful contrast, but might be too much of a chew for some once they soften in the stew and thus lose their crunch. 

October--the perfect time to pick up a couple o' pie pumpkins from your local farmstand to make stew with!  To make the dish pictured, choose a couple of small-ish pie pumpkins.  Create lids, leaving stems intact.  Scoop out all the seeds and set aside in a bowl of fresh water.

Rub pumpkins with olive oil, put tops back on, taking care to line up ribs for best fit.  Set aside while making the filling.

For the filling, use whatever moves you.  I went for a gumbo-style stew without the shellfish.  I even had gumbo filé on hand, a fine powdery seasoning made from dried Sassafras tree leaves (one of my favorite trees here in the northeast!) used for thickening stew, as well as, creole seasoning from a batch of homemade spice rubs (it's easy to make your own blends of seasonings; see my recipe below).  Leftover roasted potatoes were way too tempting to leave out, so they were also added.  For this carni version, I used bone-in chicken thighs and local andouille sausage from Brookford Farm.  Great stuff, but this could e-a-s-i-l-y be made for vegans and vegetarians by simply omitting the meat and beefing up (sorry, pun intended) with all kinds of root veggies.

What makes a true gumbo authentic is the chocolate-colored roux.  The French typically use a very light roux for thickening soups and stews.  For this roux, though, the same ingredients are cooked for a much longer period of time.  One might think they were about to burn their roux!  Have no fear, it makes for a killer stew!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Salsa secrets!

Tonight's salsa included yellow pear tomatoes, pickling cukes, Jimmy Nardello peppers, scallion, jalapeno pepper, sweet onion, cilantro, garlic scape pesto, lime juice, olive oil, a hint of agave nectar and white vinegar, and salt.  Let meld for at least 20 minutes before diving in.  And you will want to dive in!

My most successful salsas have these three things going for them:
  1. Heat needs sweet.  A touch of agave nectar or honey helps balance the heat from a healthy jalapeno pepper.
  2. Acid is a fresh salsa's best friend.  I use both fresh lime juice AND a splash of white vinegar.  While I have more than seven kinds of vinegar in my cubbard, white vinegar is perfect for the job.  It doesn't override the flavors of the fruits and veggies.  Just a hint...a teaspoon for a bowl that includes three or four tomatoes and all the other goodies.
  3. The real pièce de résistance is a big dollop of my own garlic scape pesto--with or without the additon of cheese that is normally found in pesto.  In this case, my scape pesto consisted of three ingredients: scapes, pine nuts and evoo.  Try adding a dollop of any pesto--I bet a popular brand of cilantro pesto would be delicious! 

Friday, September 23, 2011

The BEST soup for a cold!

It seems lots of people have come down with a head cold this past week!  Thanks to those of you who helped spread it our way.  Being the good person that I am, I'll give you my antidote: a light and refreshing, yet dark and rich, chicken tortilla soup.  An elixir, if you will.  With a bit of chili for aiding the nasal passages, lime for counteracting congestion, and some chard for its superb phytonutrient, anti-inflammatory and antioxident properties, this tortilla soup definitely has what any doctor could order.  Store bought stock?  Blech!  It just isn't the same.  Make your own stock -- it's easy to do, much healthier for you, way tastier, and it can be done in an hour, tops!

Tips and hints are in green.

  • 1 whole chicken, ~3-4lbs, rinsed
  • flavors: 1 med. onion, handful of leek greens, 2-3 carrots, 2 celery stalks...all coarsely chopped
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • tbsp coriander seeds
  • tbsp cumin seeds
  • tsp peppercorns
  • sprigs of parsley, thyme...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Butternut Risotto with Pistachio, Sage, Celery and Bacon

Jamie Oliver is a great chef.  He intuitively knows what makes a great meal great: good ingredients from trusted sources, time, passion, and loved ones around the table.  Heritage breed, pasture-raised bacon helps, too.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Heirloom Tomato and Corn Stew w/ Blackened Chicken

There could be several names for this concoction: "southwestern stew" (if you added chili and cilantro), "chicken and corn stew" (if you really want chicken to take the show), "kitchen sink soup" (for the surplus of farmstand veggies, and if you added stock), or even, simply, "vegetable stew."

Friday, September 16, 2011

Homemade Fish and Chips

Fresh Gulf of Maine, beer-battered haddock and scallops served with homemade slaw (our own carrots; cabbages from Barker's Farm) and chips (heirloom spuds from Barker's).  The only way to fly.  Peanut oil is best.

Not all batters are created equal.  Too much flour, you wind up with pasty fish.  Too much liquid, and you wind up with a thin, baseless crust.  For the best crust and flavor, use good beer, a couple o' good secrets, and pay heed to process.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Heirloom tomato sauce with lemon and cinnamon basil

This was definitely one of the best tomato sauces ever tasted in this house.  Ripe, Great White heirloom fruits made for a superb, low-acid, creamy sauce. There are a number of heirloom "white" tomatoes; 'Great White' is the best according to employee-owned 'Johnny Selected Seeds' out of Winslow, ME.  The fruit is meaty with few seeds, which makes for easy saucing.  Don't be fooled by its mild flavor when eating raw; cooked, these babies turn out one heck of a sauce.

For this recipe, we used ~4 lbs of tomatoes.  'Great White' is prolific; we got lots from our two plants!

Begin with 3-5 lbs of your favorite tomato...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Fresh black trumpet mushrooms - the season is now!

From the chanterelle family, black trumpets result in the silkiest texture when cooked.  Wash the stems under a stream of running water, then saute in a bit of olive oil over medium-high heat.  A hint of salt is nice, followed by a splash of a good, deep red wine such as a zinfandel.  Finish with a pat of butter stirred in off the heat.
A trip north this past weekend resulted in a great visit to the Tamworth farmers' market, and an awesome score of freshly foraged wild mushrooms, deep green bunches of celery, and succulent red bell peppers as big as Italian eggplants -- perfect timing for turning a recent purchase of New Roots Farm grass-fed ground beef and Barker's Farm heirloom potatoes into a luscious, comforting Sunday night dinner!  Tonight's dish: Pan seared grass-fed beef burgers with a luscious black trumpet mushroom-zinfandel sauce, garnished with Sun Gold cherry tomatoes and accompanied by buttermilk mashed potatoes with leeks, red bell pepper, celery leaf and aged sheep's milk cheese.  Phew, I'm out of breath.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

What can I say, we LOVE grilled flatbreads, especially those with succulently sweet, summer heirloom tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese!  Y-U-M!!

Bull's Heart, Valencia, and Black Prince heirloom tomatoes strut their colors on this grilled pizza made with local flour for the dough and fresh cheese from Vermont.  Basil from my garden certainly could have been treated a little more kindly and chiffonaded instead of torn wrecklessly in a fit of hunger furor!  :)  
 All that's missing from the above picture is the gorgeous and delicious salad made with all kinds of scrumptiously colorful local garden goodies: chopped radishes, purple carrots, sungold tomatoes, sweet red pepper, garlic scapes (the very last of the tender ones), red onion and cucumber.  Added in a bunch of crunchy chopped lettuce and a can of garbanzos just for good measure.  Light vinaigrette and you're good to go!

Who took a bite out of that slice!?!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Classic Eggplant Parmesan

Barker's Farm eggplant, homemade marinara, and cinnamon basil straight from the garden made this eggplant parmesan one of the best yet!  Modest amounts of thin slices of locally made, fresh mozzarella and grated parmesan (um, not local) in between two layers of lightly fried panko-encrusted slices of eggplant, seasoned only with salt and pepper, is a treat worth heating up the kitchen for!  Use just parmesan--the best your money can buy--for topping it off.  No cinnamon basil on hand?  Season your marinara sauce with ground cinnamon instead!  Another tip: for seasoning consistency, season the egg, not the flour, when dredging.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Food With Color

Click on any of the pictures to see them enlarged 100%.
Here we have grilled Beach Pea's rosemary batard, brushed with homemade garlic scape pesto, topped with grilled eggplant (New Roots Farm) smothered in provolone cheese,  8-ball and 1-ball zucchini (small, round, baseball-size green and yellow fruits from Stonewall Farm), grilled sweet Ailsa Craig onions (Touching Earth Farm), slices of luscious tomatoes (Barker's Farm), and, finally, mounds of arugula (Riverside Farm).  Now THAT'S a farmers' market sandwich!  Pass the chips, please!

An heirloom cuke, these White Wonders are heading for another batch of my Summer Herb and Cucumber Soup.   Their creamy white flesh is slightly sweeter than regular cukes.  P.S.  I used basil, parsley and fennel fronds in this batch of soup, and garnished bowls of it with borage and lemon gem marigold flowers.  Delish!  

Cute little flying saucers.

Can you guess what this is?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Awesome Gazpacho

What to eat when it's 100 degrees outside at dinnertime?

This could be called "kitchen sink" gazpacho, or "ohmygod, I don't care what you call it, it's delicious" gazpacho, or, "NH farmers' market" gazpacho, or "my mother would love this" gazpacho...."   No need to concern yourself with what you don't have -- just use what you do have, and don't worry about measuring!  At this time of year, surely your tastebuds are intune with the local produce, and you've got plenty to choose from!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Refreshing Cold Summer Soup

Cold is key!
Cucumber, local asparagus, parsley and dill joined forces with a handful of raw cashews, a pint of Brookford Farm's yogurt and a pint of homemade chicken stock (or veg stock) for this deliciously refreshing and satisfying cold soup.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Delicious Lamb Shish Kebabs with Tzatziki

I marinated Riverslea Farm lamb kebabs in grated ginger, minced garlic, freshly ground cumin seed, turmeric and coriander, olive oil and lemon juice.  Grilled these 1-1/2" chunks for no more than 8 minutes (rotated halfway through), and served over orzo pilaf with a side of delicious tzatziki.  Wedges of red onion, chunks of farm fresh tomato, and cremini mushrooms accompanied the lamb.  Recipe for tzatziki follows:

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Perfect, Simple Rack of Lamb

Riverslea Farm lamb - a must try!
Grilled rack of lamb: incredibly tender and juicy, perfect for creating a rich crust, and it takes no time to french the rack (aka, trim and expose the bones, which your butcher can always do) and cook.   Pick some of your favorite herbs, then finely chop and add some olive oil, and you've got a delicious paste to flavor your rack with.  Serve alongside your favorite summer veggies and celebrate good, slow, local cooking!  Or a special someone's birthday.  :)

Total prep time: ~20min for frenching rack; plus ~30min for prepping coals
Total cooking time, depending on size of rack: ~20min
Resting time: 8-10 minutes

Most racks easily serve 4.

This dish, save for the olive oil and seasonings, was made from foods grown/produced within 15 miles of our home: Riverslea Farm lamb; Applecrest Farm green beans; Meadow's Mirth new baby potatoes; McKenzie's Farm cherry tomatoes (40 miles from home, but still a NH farm...); New Roots Farm garlic; and, rosemary, thyme and mint from our garden. 
 A hardwood-charcoal grill was used for this recipe, but a gas grill would work just as well as long as you're able to create a cool area from a hot area.  Follow these tips for ensuring a pleasingly successful rack of lamb:

Friday, July 8, 2011

Fennel-Cucumber Salad, Turkey Bacon BLT

Fresh fennel from Willow Pond Farm was the inspiration for this salad...not to mention the cukes and super sweet cherry tomatoes from McKenzie's Farm, and sweet snap peas from our garden!  All were tossed in a bit of leftover homemade pico de gallo (see pic below for details) and freshly chopped fennel leaves.  Crunchy, sweet and tangy...Delicious!

Great sandwiches begin with great bread!  Here, foccacia with a balsamic glaze patiently awaits its fate with turkey bacon...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lettuce, Tomatoes and Broccoli, Oh My!

Clockwise from upper left: garlic scapes, Stout Oak Farm; fresh cut wildflowers, Winnicut River Farm; perfectly ripe strawberries, Applecrest Farm and Heron Pond Farm; zucchini (!), Barker's Farm; broccoli (!), Heron Pond Farm; scallions and radishes, Catnip Acres Farm; romaine lettuce, Meadow's Mirth Farm; and (center), cherry tomatoes, slicing tomatoes and pickling cukes, McKenzie's Farm
The farmers' markets are roaring!  Now's the time for garlic scapes.  Keep reading for the best scape pesto recipe I've made yet!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

There's a New Farm in Town!

At the Exeter market this afternoon I met friendly farmer Jean from the Winnicut River Farm in Stratham, and was immediately delighted in her offering of tulips. A quick perusal of her blog shows that she grows all kinds of interesting varieties of bulbs and perennials. Today she also had sweet bundled posies of flowering herbs for sale, and rhubarb, bok choi, and beautiful mustard greens. Be sure to visit their booth next week! Situated at the former Mill Valley property up on Winnicut Road, she, too, promotes healthy, safe farming practices. I can't wait to see what comes out of her fields this summer and fall!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


We love fiddleheads. Crunchy, earthy, buttery...a cross between asparagus and artichoke in flavor, they are perfect for jazzing up an easy weeknight meal. Add further decadence by sauteeing them in browned butter and ribbons of prosciutto!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Earth Day Local Food Celebration...Grecian Style!

Parsley, thyme sprigs, peppercorn, bay leaf, a few cloves and a garlic clove or two nicely round out almost any stock. This lamb stock became the base for one of the bechamel sauces (I made 3 versions of moussaka for this occasion, detailed a little more in a caption below).

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Spring Risotto, albeit with "winter" squash

On November 6th of last year, we picked up a beautiful speciman from the pumpkin family from a farmer attending the last "summer" farmers' market in Portsmouth.  Intended to be eaten at some point, it was just too beautiful to hack into with my 8" chef's knife.  Needless to say, up until 15 hours ago it had been sitting on the counter as a reminder of all things fall and winter.  And, yes, you read that right: November 6, 2010.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sustainable Seafood on my mind. Again.

What does sustainability mean for seafood?
Visit for lots more on important food and water topics

"A certification program should be transparent and should represent a clearly defined set of standards that are publicly vetted and easily accessible to everyone.  Its primary motivation should be providing neutral and straightforward guidance to consumers.  A label that makes vague claims of 'sustainability' or being 'ecofriendly' should not do so without being able to clearly define and support those assertions."

I bumped into the above publication while searching for info on fish hatchery use of antibiotics.  Went searching for that info as a result of obsessively watching the Decorah, IA, eagles who hunt regularly from the fish hatchery right next door to their nest.  Anyway, while I would love to get into an engaging discussion on the eagles, it's best that I keep to the subject matter for this blog and post on this provocative sustainable seafood info I just found.

Don't have time for a 22-page read?  Jump to page 3 of the document (page 7 on the pdf toolbar).

Friday, April 1, 2011

Homemade French Fries

I was convinced to give a new method of making homemade fries a chance, and I have to say, what a breeze!  Easy peasy!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Paella Again!

Fresh, local lobster warmed in saffron butter, center; Maine shrimpies, PEI mussels and MA littlenecks intertwined with roasted red bell pepper strips, and served over pea-dotted paella with local sausage and chicken!

Special friends from Colorado visited a couple of nights ago. After having taken part in a paella party last weekend--which was lots of fun--such delicious food and a great bonfire--I just had to make paella in a nod!

THE paella party to beat any perigee moon!

Friends and party extraordinaires, Alix and Colin, pulled off a fab Vernal Equinox paella party on the night of the perigee full moon.  Great friends, red wine galore, bonfire in the back...It left all of us with visions of paella dancing in our heads for sure!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Home-cured Corned Beef - Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Click on the picture for better resolution.  Irish soda bread from Me & Ollies is delicious: lots of savory, sweet and salty flavors, especially of caraway, raisin and baking soda.  Curing method adapted from America's test Kitchen cooks.

Grassfed flat-cut brisket cured for 6 days in the fridge.  First, poked a couple dozen skewer holes in each side.  Next, rubbed in kosher salt, cracked black pepper, paprika, pinches of allspice and thyme, and crushed bay.  Weighted it down and turned it over every day.  Thoroughly rinsed before cooking.

Braised in water with fresh bay leaves, mustard seed and peppercorn for ~3-1/2 hours.  Added carrots, whole baby potatoes, parsnips, cubed turnip and red cabbage--all from local farmers!--during the last 45 minutes (cabbage added during last 15 minutes).

Was super fork tender, moist and meaty, with hints of the bay and mustard poking through.  Not too salty--just succulent the way corned beef should be!  Yum!

Did you know?  Corned beef got its name from the Old English who used the term 'corn' when they referred to large, coarse grains.  The large granular salts used for curing meat thus resulted in "corned beef."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Baer's Best Peregion Beans and Rice - Delicious!

A simple yet hearty bowl of rice and beans. It's what's for dinner.

Quick-soak a cup of beans: cover in water, bring to a boil, remove from heat immediately and let sit for two hours.  Drain, set aside.  Don't add salt to this water.

Saute 1 lg onion, chopped, in olive oil until softened.  Add 1-2 cloves pressed garlic and 1 tsp oregano, cook until fragrant.  Add 3 cups chicken stock (or veggie stock or water) and 1-1/2 cups long grain rice.  Stir, bring to low boil, then turn heat to low and simmer according to rice package directions.*

When rice is just about cooked, but still creamy and wet, mix in beans.  Let rest for 5 minutes before serving to allow flavors to meld.  Serve as is or over any variety of greens, either cooked or raw.  I used Olivia's (Maine) sweet pea shoots.  Crumbled goat cheese would be divine, but I used chunks of Sandwich Creamery's Caerphilly cheese--a briney cheese very similar to feta, only more dense and less salty.  Was so wicked good!  Yum!

*A much better way to cook rice is just like you would pasta: in a pot with lots of boiling water, salted and with a twirl of olive oil, until just tender when tested.  Drain in a fine mesh strainer and immediately return to pot.  Lay a clean tea towel over pot before replacing cover.  This will absorb the steam and keep your rice fluffy.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Organic, heritage breed pork tenderloin

"What's a heritage breed?" asked the woman in line at New Roots Farm's table at a recent farmers' market.

"It's a breed that's much closer to its wild's not one of those pigs you see in cartoons all the time, the ones raised on industrial farms," said the farmer.

That farmer would be Jeff Cantara.  He and his wife Renée (and their son, 2-year old Caleb) grow organic produce, and raise livestock in just about the best form of husbandry possible: rotational grazing.  Check out their website here.
New Roots Farm heritage breed, maple glazed pork tenderloin over Riverside Farm Keuka Gold mashed potatoes, topped with a maple and whole grain mustard sauce and sauteed Hackleboro apples.  Spinach from Heron Pond farm.
The following recipe was used for a 1-1/2lb loin:

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Delicious and Tender Pancakes

No, I absolutely did not eat this huge pile of pancakes!  I ate TWO piles.  Just kidding.  I ate two pancakes!

Yesterday, while perusing the farmers' market, I was handed a flyer about an upcoming pancake breakfast(scroll down to April 3) featuring local ingredients.  Driving home I couldn't stop thinking about pancakes for this morning's breakfast!

Royally delicious, light and tender, these babies were made with Brookford Farm's (Rollinsford, NH) stone ground, soft white, fall planted wheat berry pastry flour. were they good!  Full disclosure on the localness of this morning's breakfast: the chicken sausage*, baking powder and brown sugar were not local.  Everything else = local sources!

*We have yet to find locally raised and produced chicken sausage, so those that you see in the picture are from the Smart Chicken line of organic meat products.  They were really tasty.

For the BEST pancakes ever, follow this recipe that I adapted from an old Laurel Robertson cookbook:

Sunday Dinner: grassfed pot roast!

Pot roast is not a dish you start cooking at 4 o'clock in the afternoon.  Allow yourself up to 4 hours for prepping and roasting time when scheming dinnertime!  Pictured here accompanying our succulent roast are Meadow's Mirth's deliciously sweet carrots, and Heron Pond Farm's red-skin potatoes and parsnips.

When it comes to everyday cooking, I often find myself torn between ‘the way my mother did it’ and ‘the way [xyz chef] does it’.  What’s the happy medium?  The way I do it!  It is perfectly reasonable and acceptable to take inspiration from both sources, or from numerous sources, to make a dish your own—that’s what cooking is all about (well, that, and “passion and sharp knives!” ;~)

I used a 3lb beef shoulder roast for this recipe (once cooked, enough for 4 people and a little leftover lunch), obtained from our freezer where we have many other cuts from a side of beef we purchased from a relative who raises only two cows a year here in NH.  Shoulder roasts are one of the best cuts for pot roasting, that is, braising in a dutch oven.  A top blade (aka ‘shoulder’) roast comes from above the shoulder blade; it is part of the ‘chuck’ which is the first 5 ribs in the forequarter.  It needs to be tied to fit in the pan, but that’s not a big deal (truth be told, any roast should be tied to maintain an even shape for cooking).
Seven blade roasts are another excellent option for braising, but they can be difficult to find.  This cut is also found in the shoulder blade area.  Lastly, a chuck-eye round is superb for pot roasting.  Chuck-eye roasts are basically rib-eye roasts, in that the cut is found in the center of those first 5 ribs.  Each of the cuts mentioned has very good meaty flavor, a fair amount of fat, and results in being a luxurious pot roast.

Recipe for the roast I made follows...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Perfectly Local Valentine Dinner for Two!

All thanks to the diversity of foods at the recent Winter farmers' Market in Exeter this weekend!

Riverside Farm greens dressed in honey cider vinaigrette made with local cider vinegar, sunflower oil, honey, mustard (Reye's from Eastpoint, ME) and herbs from Herb Farmacy.  Apples from Hackleboro Orchards, cheese from Sandwich Creamery.
Valicenti Organics farro pasta tossed in their own red gravy, served with Me & Ollie's parisian baguette doctored up with fresh local butter and garlic.

Flourless chocolate torte made with fair trade/organic Green & Black's 72% cacao chocolate, minimal sugar (only 3 Tbsp in the entire recipe!), local eggs and butter, topped with honey sweetened, freshly whipped Brookford Farm cream and decorated with spots of raspberry glaze (from leftover homemade jam) and decorating candies.  Served with Sweet Baby Vineyard raspberry wine....

Ingredients in any of the above that were not selected from local sources:

cayenne pepper

Garlic Bread:
flour and yeast in bread

vanilla extract
decorating candies

Everything else entirely local!!