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 RenĂ©e (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...