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Recipe: Leek Zucchini Fritters

Contributor Lisa Fielding is a private chef and boutique caterer based in Manhattan who weekends in Litchfield County whenever possible. Many of her Manhattan clients are also Litchfield County weekenders, so work brings her to Northwest Connecticut as well. A Los Angeles transplant, Fielding was a former Hollywood film executive who segued into screenwriting several years ago, which enabled her to pursue her passion for food and entertaining. Lisa’s culinary skill set draws from a broad spectrum of dishes and ingredients.

My job requires a lot of research, invention and creativity. I am always on the hunt for inspiration from cookbooks, my Instagram feed (devoted almost entirely to food), online recipes and, of course, what I like to eat. I have regular clients who also rely on me to bring innovative and delicious dishes to the table so they never have to bemoan the familiarity of what’s plated before them.  One client in particular enjoys an array of canapés before they sit down to dinner so there are times when I’m agonizing for just the right appetizer. At this point, I could write the ultimate appetizer bible. 

Last week was no different and I was so thrilled with these delectable morsels of goodness, layers of flavor and texture that they had to take center stage in my article. Introducing the ultimate leek/zucchini fritter as inspired by the great Ottolenghi. Words of caution: these are time consuming.  Or rather, a little complicated — but all of the steps insure that you won’t end up with a runny batter that will disintegrate when it hits the hot fryer. Instead, these fritters puff up and the end result is a doughy but not heavy poof stuffed with a medley of vegetables and exotic spices. Make these for your next cocktail soiree and I promise you will thank me in the morning. 

Leek & Zucchini Fritters
Makes around 3 dozen 2-inch diameter fritters. 

Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s “Plenty”

For the sauce:
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup sour cream
1 heaping tbl Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp. Sriracha sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley leaves
¼ cup snipped chives
¼ cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
¼ cup chopped capers

For the fritters:
3 medium leeks (I used red leeks), rinsed, dried, sliced in quarters and thinly sliced again
5 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1 large zucchini cut into small dice
4 tbl olive oil
1 cup canola oil for frying
1/2 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
¼ cup snipped chives
3/4 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg white
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tbl baking powder
1 large egg
2/3 cup milk
5 tbl unsalted butter, melted


Start by making the sauce. Put all the sauce ingredients into the bowl of a food processor except for the capers, blitz together until a uniform green, then turn into a decorative bowl for serving. Turn in the capers.

Over medium heat, sauté the leeks, shallots and zucchini in the olive oil until soft, about 15 minutes. Then transfer to a bowl and add the parsley, spices, sugar and salt. Leave to cool.

Whisk the egg white to soft peaks and fold it into the vegetables. In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, egg, milk and butter to form a batter. Gently mix this into the egg white and vegetable mixture.

Place ¾ of the canola oil in a frying pan over medium heat about 4 minutes. To test, drop a bit of batter in the oil, if it sizzles and floats, oil is ready. Using a small spoon, drop the mixture (about 2 teaspoons at a time) into the pan and fry for two to three minutes a side, until golden and crisp. Transfer to cookie sheet covered with a double paper towel and repeat, adding oil as needed, until the mixture is used up. Serve warm with the sauce on the side. This goes great with a chilled Sancerre or Rose.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 05/23/17 at 08:27 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Strawberry Galette

One of our favorite events every summer is The Sylvia Center’s Farm-to-Table dinner, hosted by Great Performances in the fields of Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook, N.Y. The mission of The Sylvia Center is to inspire young people and their families to eat well through hands-on learning experiences on the farm and in the kitchen. Jenn So, director of programs at The Sylvia Center, offers us recipes the teenagers are learning to make.

Depending on whom you talk to, the word “galette” may evoke different imaginings. Galette may signify a papery and savory buckwheat pancake traditional of salty French shores, a Belgian waffle, or, in our case, a free-form tart. Galettes are a way to showcase both sweet and savory fillings without having to reach to the top shelf for your pie plates. Remember — the trick to a good crumbly crust is dough made with cold butter and water that has been minimally worked. Unlike bread dough, pastry dough only gets worked until it comes together into dough form, crumbles included. In our garden, our strawberry plants have been showcasing their delicate white flowers so we’ve been dreaming of strawberry treats to come. The crispy galette dough framing soft and fragrant strawberries is sure to please your audience, even if their galette isn’t necessarily the same as your galette!

Strawberry Galette
Serves 6-8

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, cut into small (1/2-inch) cubes, chilled
¼ cup of ice water (maybe more)
1 ½ pounds strawberries hulled and half
4 tablespoons sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon flour

1. Preheat oven to 425° F.
2. If using a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar and salt until well mixed. Add the cubed butter, and pulse 8 times until the butter is pea-sized. If mixing by hand, whisk together dry ingredients and then cut butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter, fork or your fingers until the butter is pea-sized.
3. Slowly add the ice water, a tablespoon or two at a time, combining after each addition, until the dough just begins to clump.
4. Turn out the dough onto a clean surface. Use your hands to form into a disc. Do not over-knead. Sprinkle with a little flour on all sides, wrap in plastic and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes.
5. Toss strawberries with sugar and flour to coat.
6. Whisk the egg in small bowl and set aside.
7. On a lightly floured, clean, smooth surface, roll out the dough to form a 12-inch diameter disc. Gently lift up the rolled-out dough and place it on a rimmed baking sheet.
8. Arrange the strawberry pieces in a single layer in the center of the dough, forming about a 7- or 8-inch circle. Fold the outer edges of the dough round over the filling by about 2 inches all the way around. Use a pastry brush to coat the dough with an egg wash. Sprinkle with sugar.
9. Place in the oven and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until nicely browned. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet, over a rack, about 15 minutes before slicing.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 05/16/17 at 09:09 AM • Permalink

The Ambassador Salad: Détente In The Kitchen And At The Table

Contributor Lisa Fielding is a private chef and boutique caterer based in Manhattan who weekends in Litchfield County whenever possible. Many of her Manhattan clients are also Litchfield County weekenders, so work brings her to Northwest Connecticut as well. A Los Angeles transplant, Fielding was a former Hollywood film executive who segued into screenwriting several years ago, which enabled her to pursue her passion for food and entertaining. Lisa’s culinary skill set draws from a broad spectrum of dishes and ingredients.

Most businesses, mine included, get very excited at the prospect of having high-profile clients. The caché that comes with cheffing for rich and famous artists, actors, intellectuals, business people and even some politicians can be measured in the uptick in new business and the cluck of approval new clients grant when they review my credentials. It’s a bit nerve wracking, I’ll admit. I only get one chance to prepare a five-star meal for any client, but let’s just say there is a bit more at stake when you’re asked to cook for so and so.

I was handed this mission last week when I was asked to chef for the Ambassador to The Holy See as well as the ambassador to Sweden and a few other diplomats. I suggested a menu that is historically bullet proof and showed up at their gorgeous Sutton Place apartment with my best game face on, bags filled with the finest ingredients New York City has to offer.

A lovely gentleman, clad in sophisticated black butler’s attire, was my server for the night so once we dispatched with social niceties, I went to work and time evaporated faster than cool water on a steaming sidewalk. The heat was on and I felt an enormous amount of pressure as the doorbell rang and guest after guest arrived. Sterling trays balanced with amber flutes of champagne greeted them in the living room. The hostess had set the dining room table to perfection. Stunning china. Elegant sterling. Crisp, embroidered linens. Heirloom salt and pepper cellars that date back to the 18th century — this chef’s version of paradise. A bouquet of spring flowers took center stage and I wanted every course to enhance the aesthetic.

My ubiquitous gougères were served alongside the champagne and then guests were seated. I served a gorgeous salad of frisee, baby greens, heirloom cherry tomatoes and tarragon vinaigrette topped with crab cakes and a dollop of spicy remoulade. Additional courses ensued, fine wines were poured until dessert china plates returned to the kitchen with nary a crumb left. Dinner was a huge success. I took a bow, breathed a sigh of relief and thought, “I just fed the man who eats with the Pope, Il Papa.”

My takeaway from this fantastic evening was the salad which I’ve dubbed, “The Ambassador Salad.” Serve this as an entrée for a fancy luncheon or as a starter to a long, lazy dinner. Either way, now you can dine like a diplomat.

The Ambassador Salad
Yields 8 servings

Crab Cakes
Makes about 24

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup small diced red onion
1/2 cup small diced celery (3 stalks)
1/2 cup small diced red bell pepper (1 small pepper)
1/2 cup small diced yellow bell pepper (1 small pepper)
3 tbls. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tbls. minced fresh dill
1 tbls. minced tarragon
2 tbls. capers, chopped
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1-1/2 tsps. crab boil seasoning (recommended — Old Bay)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 lb. lump crabmeat, drained and picked to remove shells
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup canola oil for frying

1. Place the 2 tablespoons butter and olive oil, onion, celery, red and yellow bell peppers, fresh herbs, capers, Worcestershire sauce, crab boil seasoning, cayenne and salt in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat and cook until the vegetables are soft, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
2. In a large bowl, break the lump crabmeat into small pieces and toss with the bread crumbs, mayonnaise, mustard, and eggs. Add the cooked mixture and mix well. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
3. Shape into crab cakes about 2 inches in diameter.
4. Heat the canola oil for frying over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add the crab cakes and fry for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until browned. Drain on paper towels; keep them warm in a 250 degree oven.

Spicy Remoulade
Makes 2/3 cup

1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tbls. coarse-grain mustard
2 tbls. drained prepared horseradish
2 tbls. thinly sliced scallions
2 tbls. chopped gerkins
2 tbls. chopped capers
1 tbl. minced fresh dill
1 tbl. minced tarragon
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. lemon zest
Kosher salt

1. Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate at least four hours before serving.

Salad Dressing

2 tbls. Dijon mustard
1/3 cup tarragon vinegar
1 cup fruity olive oil
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. dried tarragon

1. Whisk mustard and vinegar together. Slowly add olive oil in a thin stream while continuously whisking until emulsified. Add salt, pepper and tarragon. Stir. Refrigerate until assembly.
2. Give a good shake or whisk before dressing the salad.

Salad and Assembly

3 heads frisee, washed and dried
8 ounces of mixed greens
1 lb. of heirloom cherry tomatoes (choose varied colors and sizes), washed and halved

1. Toss greens and cherry tomatoes with dressing.
2. Plate. Top with three crab cakes. Add a dollop of remoulade.

 

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Posted by Lisa Green on 05/08/17 at 01:21 PM • Permalink

The RuraList: Ramps Done Three Ways

This week, I’ll be getting ramps in my Berkshire Organics basket, and so begins my annual frenzy of researching recipes for new ways to make the most of these wild, spicy, and slightly mysterious foraged finds. Of course, you can simply roast them, but, to me, that doesn’t give them the special treatment they deserve. I’ve combed through the Rural Intelligence archives, and sure enough, we’ve offered ramp recipes through the years. Here are three of them. Whether in pesto, pizza or pasta, the ramps take center stage, as well they should. Happy ramp season! —Lisa Green

Amy Cotler’s Ramp Pesto
Makes about 2-1/4 cups

2 handfuls local nuts, walnuts or pecans halves or blanched almonds
2-1/2 ounces Parmesan or similar cheese, local if you can get it
2 very generous handfuls of ramp leaves (and some bulbs if you wish)
About 1/3 cup of olive oil
About 1/4 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, or to taste

1. Toast the nuts in a dry skillet, over medium heat, shaking the pan frequently, until lightly aromatic. (Bend over them and take a whiff. They should smell toasted.) Don’t go too far, as nuts burn easily. Pulse in a food processor (or use a mortar and pestle)  until well chopped but not blended. Set aside.
2. Throw the cheese into the food processor. Pulse until it is finely chopped. (If the cheese is already grated, skip this step.) Add to the nuts.
3. Puree the leaves together with the oil, stopping and scraping down the bowl as necessary to combine. (Work in two batches if you have a small food processor.) Add to the bowl and stir to combine with the salt.
Note: If you forage for ramps in an area where there are ticks, take a shower and throw your clothes in the wash after your harvest. Lyme disease isn’t fun, but ramps are worth a walk in the woods. No ramps near you?  Many early farmers markets and highbrow produce stores sell them.

Amy Cotler is the author of The Locavore Way: Discover and Enjoy the Pleasures of Locally Grown Food.

James Gop’s Asparagus & Ramp Pizza

2 lb. asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces
10 ramps or medium scallions
1 thawed pizza dough ball or Berkshire Mountain Bakery crust (available at Guido’s)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 slices prosciutto torn into pieces (optional)
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh mozzarella cheese
extra virgin olive oil for brushing
salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Set a pizza stone or baking sheet on the bottom or on the bottom shelf of the oven and preheat to 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes.
2. Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil.  Blanch the asparagus for 2 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Blanch ramps in the same boiling water until they are bright green, but still al dente, about 1 minute.  Drain, pat dry and cut into 1 inch lengths.
3. Punch down the pizza dough and transfer it to a lightly floured work surface. Roll out the dough to a 12 inch round, about 1/8 inch thick.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured pizza peel or an inverted baking sheet.  Brush the dough with olive oil and sprinkle on the grated mozzarella in an even layer.  Scatter the blanched asparagus and ramps over the mozzarella and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Top the pizza with the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
4. Slide the pizza from the peel onto the hot stone or baking pan.  Bake for about 8 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the pizza crust is browned and crisp on the bottom Transfer the pizza to a work surface, cut into wedges and serve immediately.

Formerly the in-house chef for Guido’s Fresh Marketplace, James Gop is the chef, owner and creative mind behind Heirloom Fire.

The Butcher and the Baker’s Pasta Primavera

1 lb. linguine
1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed off and cut into one-inch lengths
1 pint fiddlehead ferns, washed — or substitute with any of the greens listed above
1 bunch ramps, bulbs trimmed, removed from the greens — or try garlic scapes
¼ cup bread crumbs
3 Tbsp. olive oil plus ¼ cup
1/3 cup grated pecorino
salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
2. Pour 3 Tbsp. of olive oil in a medium pan and turn to medium-high heat.
3. When the olive oil is shimmering and just about to smoke, add the ramp bulbs.
4. After a couple of minutes, throw in the fiddleheads and asparagus.
5. Boil linguine according the directions on the package.
6. When pasta is done, drain and add to a bowl with the ramp greens (and/or arugula/pea shoots), breadcrumbs, and pecorino. Toss thoroughly and finish with a little more olive oil and salt. Serve immediately.

The Butcher is Jake, a nose-to-tail butcher/artist, who loves to cook and grew up in the woody hills of Western Massachusetts where his passion for local, fresh food was first instilled in him. The Baker is Silka, a designer/crafter who loves to bake and grew up in rural Western New York. The Butcher and the Baker is their collaborative blog.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 05/02/17 at 12:19 AM • Permalink

Recipe: Rhubarb Olive Oil Cake

One of our favorite events every summer is The Sylvia Center’s Farm-to-Table dinner, hosted by Great Performances in the fields of Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook, N.Y. The mission of The Sylvia Center is to inspire young people and their families to eat well through hands-on learning experiences on the farm and in the kitchen. Jenn So, director of programs at The Sylvia Center, offers us recipes the teenagers are learning to make.

Before any of the other sumptuous spring fruits begin to find their way into gardens and onto our plates, rhubarb deserves some of your early attention. It’s a hearty and undemanding perennial vegetable known for adding a pucker-inducing flavor to many already beloved recipes. Although the time-honored strawberry-rhubarb combo is sure to please, don’t hesitate to use rhubarb in baked goods even before strawberries fill your local farmstands. This rhubarb olive cake recipe has all the makings of a springtime baking staple. The cornmeal adds texture to the lightly sweetened cake, studded with chunks of rhubarb that surprise the tastebuds. The 40-45 minute baking time is your chance to encourage someone to try a chunk of raw rhubarb — one of the garden’s most surprising flavors. Be sure to have the camera ready for the pucker! [If you’re not a rhubarb fan, try The Sylvia Center’s olive oil cake with orange and cinnamon.]

Rhubarb Olive Oil Cake
Makes one 9"x9” cake

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3-4 stalks of rhubarb, diced

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 9"x9” pan.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and eggs until they are light yellow and well blended. Whisk in milk, olive oil and vanilla extract until combined.

4. Combine dry ingredients with wet ingredients and continue to whisk until just blended. Evenly place the diced rhubarb into bottom of pan, and pour batter on top.

5. Bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. Let cool completely before flipping onto a cooling rack and slicing.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 05/01/17 at 03:13 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Basil Almond Pesto

Contributor Lisa Fielding is a private chef and boutique caterer based in Manhattan who weekends in Litchfield County whenever possible. Many of her Manhattan clients are also Litchfield County weekenders, so work brings her to Northwest Connecticut as well. A Los Angeles transplant, Fielding was a former Hollywood film executive who segued into screenwriting several years ago, which enabled her to pursue her passion for food and entertaining. Lisa’s culinary skill set draws from a broad spectrum of dishes and ingredients.

Pesto is one of my favorite sauces and I make it often. Plus, you can freeze it so if you’re lucky enough to plant and harvest basil all summer, you can make loads of it and save it for later. It is also a great hostess gift because who doesn’t love a fresh pesto presented in a mason jar with a bow tied around it? 

As typical with me, I never make an ordinary pesto. I like to change up the use of pine nuts with roasted almonds or walnuts and add a little heat to the sauce with red chili flakes. For this recipe I used both smoked chili flakes and smoked pepper, which was a fabulous complement to the sweet garlicky green paste. I also used a combination of Asiago, Romano, and Parmesan, which added sharpness and made the flavor of the cheese stronger on the palate. The result was a thick, rich pesto that I tossed over tubes of ziti.

And for the record, a “pesto” can be made from any combination of greens, nuts, garlic and olive oil. I also make a combination of arugula and spinach pesto with roasted walnuts which hits the name notes of sweet and bitter as basil but with an entirely different flavor. Additionally if you want to lighten up your pesto pasta, saute cherry tomatoes split in half until wilted, then add the pesto sauce to warm. The sweet cherry tomatoes’ acidity is a bright flavor component and also looks gorgeous on the plate. So get excited for big bunches of basil with the following recipe. Buon Appetito!

Basil Almond Pesto
Yields 2 cups

½ cup whole almonds
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
4 cloves peeled garlic
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
¼ cup grated Asiago
¼ cup grated Romano
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
¾ tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. smoked pepper
½ tsp. smoked chili flakes
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil, more if needed

1. Roast almonds in a pan on the stovetop until they are browned and fragrant. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

2. Next, process in a food processor until finely ground.

3. Add garlic cloves and process until combined. Add basil and process until shredded.

4. Add cheese and process until the mixture is coarsely ground. Add spices and repeat.

5. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil. If pesto is too thick, add more olive oil.

6. Make your favorite pasta and toss with pesto to coat.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 04/24/17 at 10:31 AM • Permalink

Recipe: Chicken Posole

One of our favorite events every summer is The Sylvia Center’s Farm-to-Table dinner, hosted by Great Performances in the fields of Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook, N.Y. The mission of The Sylvia Center is to inspire young people and their families to eat well through hands-on learning experiences on the farm and in the kitchen. Jenn So, director of programs at The Sylvia Center, offers us recipes the teenagers are learning to make.

When the weather is so variable, a recipe like this for chicken posole, a Mexican stew, hits the spot: it’s both light and warming. The subtle spice and layers of herbs compel us to dream of fresh cut oregano soon to come, while waving a thankful goodbye to winter and stews. When you fill the bowl, don’t forget to leave room for toppings. Sprinkle a satisfying crumble of cotija cheese, add some crunch with shredded cabbage, or up the heat with hot sauce. Dig into the back corners of your pantry, if you dare. The posole will adapt beautifully and you’ll leave the table satisfied, ready to tackle whatever season the day brings.

Chicken Posole
Makes 6 to 8 servings

1 to 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast, skin on and bone in
8 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme (1/2 teaspoon dry)
1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano (1/2 teaspoon dry)
2 clove garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons cumin
1 to 2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, optional
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
1 (29-ounce) can hominy, drained and rinsed

Some pozole topping ideas: diced avocado, lime wedges, diced red, white or yellow onion, thinly sliced radishes, shredded lettuce or cabbage, diced tomatoes, chopped cilantro, crumbled cotija cheese, hot sauce, tortilla chips.

1. Pat the chicken breasts dry. Sprinkle them on both sides with salt and pepper.

2. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken breast in a single layer and sear for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown.

3. Add the chicken broth and bring to a rapid simmer and cover, cooking chicken for about 7-10 minutes or until cooked all the way through. Remove chicken from Dutch oven and set aside to cool.

4. Add the bay leaf, thyme, oregano, garlic, cumin, 1 teaspoon of the salt, chili powder, coriander, smoked paprika, and red pepper flakes to the broth mixture in the Dutch oven. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered.

5. As the broth simmers, shred chicken from the bone into bite-sized strips, removing skin and cartilage. Set aside.

6. Prepare all the toppings and set aside in small bowls.

7. Add the chicken and the drained hominy to the pot. Raise the heat to medium to warm everything through, about 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt or other seasonings if needed. Remove the bay leaf.

8. Serve the soup in individual bowls with the toppings on the table. Garnish as desired. Leftover posole will keep, refrigerated, for 1 week.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 04/17/17 at 12:40 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Cabernet-Braised Short Ribs

Contributor Lisa Fielding is a private chef and boutique caterer based in Manhattan who weekends in Litchfield County whenever possible. Many of her Manhattan clients are also Litchfield County weekenders, so work brings her to Northwest Connecticut as well. A Los Angeles transplant, Fielding was a former Hollywood film executive who segued into screenwriting several years ago, which enabled her to pursue her passion for food and entertaining. Lisa’s culinary skill set draws from a broad spectrum of dishes and ingredients.

I just returned to the East Coast after a three-week travel extravaganza that included a pop-up dinner in San Francisco where one of the patrons — fresh in from NYC — had dined at Daniel. He made a point of telling us that our dinner surpassed his experience at one of the titans of NYC’s restaurants. That’s a mighty high bar to meet or best and the compliment presents the perfect jumping off point for this week’s recipe.

I landed late on Friday night and less than 12 hours later was hard at work making a very special anniversary dinner for one of my clients. I chose Daniel Boulud’s (Daniel) cabernet-braised short ribs which I’ve made for years and amended to suit my tastes perfectly. These short ribs braise to a fork pull-apart tenderness and the sauce, after straining and reducing, is velvety rich. For a change I plated over individual potato onion rostis (oversized latkes) which to my surprise was an even better companion than my go-to crispy polenta rounds. 

This recipe requires some prep time but once it’s in the oven braising you can leave it alone for hours and attend to the rest of your to-do list. Straining and reducing is also essential so don’t skip steps or you’ll deny yourself the pleasure of one of the most succulent dinners ever. 

Cabernet-Braised Short Ribs
Serves 8

2 bottles dry red wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 lbs. short ribs (bone in or out) trimmed of excess fat
Salt and crushed black peppercorns
Flour, for dredging
8 large shallots, peeled, trimmed, split, rinsed and dried
4 medium-sized carrots, peeled, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
4 ribs of celery, peeled, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
2 medium-sized leeks (white and light-green parts), coarsely chopped, washed and dried
10 cloves of garlic, peeled
6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
2 bay leaves and 2 thyme sprigs
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 quart beef broth


1. Pour the wine into a large saucepan set over medium heat. When the wine is hot, carefully set it aflame. Let the flames die out, then increase the heat so that the wine boils; allow it to boil until it cooks down by a third. Remove from the heat.
2. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350°F.
3. Warm the oil in a large, heavy, ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Season the ribs all over with salt and the crushed pepper. Dust half of the ribs with about 1 tablespoon flour. Then, when the oil is hot, slip the ribs into the pot and sear 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until well-browned. Transfer the ribs to a plate. Repeat with remaining ribs. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pot, lower the heat under the pot to medium and toss in the vegetables and herbs. Brown the vegetables lightly, 5 to 7 minutes, then stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
4. Add the wine, ribs and broth to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover tightly and place in the oven to braise for 2 1/2 hours or until the ribs are very tender. Every 30 minutes, skim and discard fat from the surface. (It’s best to make the recipe to this point, cool and chill the ribs and broth in the pan overnight; scrape off the fat the next day. Rewarm before continuing.)
5. Carefully transfer the meat to a platter. Pass the sauce through a fine strainer and discard the solids. Return to the flame, heat to a simmer and reduce by half. Season with salt and white pepper.  (The ribs and sauce can be combined and kept covered in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. Reheat gently, basting frequently, on top of the stove or in a 350°F oven.)
6. To serve, slide the short ribs back into the sauce and gently heat. Plate on top of a polenta, pureed potatoes or rosti and spoon additional sauce on top. 

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Posted by Lisa Green on 04/11/17 at 10:30 AM • Permalink

Recipe: Chocolate Beet Cupcakes

One of our favorite events every summer is The Sylvia Center’s Farm-to-Table dinner, hosted by Great Performances in the fields of Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook, N.Y. The mission of The Sylvia Center is to inspire young people and their families to eat well through hands-on learning experiences on the farm and in the kitchen. Jenn So, director of programs at The Sylvia Center, offers us recipes the teenagers are learning to make.

These Chocolate Beet Cupcakes are as stunning as they are healthy. The beets contribute a lush earthiness to the cake, keeping the crumb moist and flavorful. Kids get a kick out of the bright fuchsia frosting, which is naturally derived from the beet puree. We made these with our teen students for Valentine’s Day but, with the gorgeous color, this cupcake would be perfect for Easter as well!



Chocolate Beet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 12 muffins
(Adapted from Eating Well)

2 cups diced, peeled beets (½-inch; about 2 medium)
⅔ cup plain yogurt
1½ cups whole-wheat flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 large egg
¼ cup canola oil
1¾ cups packed confectioners’ sugar, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature


Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

2. Bring about 1 inch of water to a boil in a large saucepan fitted with a steamer basket. Add beets, cover and steam until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a blender. Add yogurt and puree until smooth. Pour the beet mixture into a large bowl, reserving 2 tablespoons.

3. Whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

4.  Whisk the egg, oil, 1 cup confectioners’ sugar and vanilla into the beet mixture. Stir in the dry ingredients until just combined. Spoon the batter into muffin cups.

5. Bake cupcakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

6. To prepare frosting, combine the remaining ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar and cream cheese with the reserved beet puree in a medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Top each cooled cupcake with a generous tablespoon of frosting.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 04/02/17 at 01:00 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Seared Salmon Piperade Saltado

Contributor Lisa Fielding is a private chef and boutique caterer based in Manhattan who weekends in Litchfield County whenever possible. Many of her Manhattan clients are also Litchfield County weekenders, so work brings her to Northwest Connecticut as well. A Los Angeles transplant, Fielding was a former Hollywood film executive who segued into screenwriting several years ago, which enabled her to pursue her passion for food and entertaining. Lisa’s culinary skill set draws from a broad spectrum of dishes and ingredients.

I have always loved piperade which is a Basque dish that combines red bell peppers, onions and tomatoes sautéed and reduced until a thick, rich sauce is produced. It is the perfect companion to seared, roasted and grilled fish, my personal favorite being salmon. But I had recently made a Peruvian feast for a client and fell in love with an equally simple dish called Lomo Saltado. The surprising ingredients in this tomato sauce are soy sauce and red wine vinegar. I know, sounds strange, but tastes otherworldly. So I combined the two and came up with Piperade Saltado! And the crowd went wild. The sauce reduced for a good two hours on low heat in a wide skillet so I recommend giving yourself ample time to make what is otherwise, easy peasy. Sear salmon or a fish or your choice and plate on a bed of lemony, chicken stock-flavored white rice. Pair with a cold, crisp Sançerre and dinner is served.

Seared Salmon Piperade Saltado
Serves 6

For the sauce
2 small red onions sliced thinly
4 red bell peppers roasted, peeled, seeded and sliced thinly
  (Can substitute 24 oz. jarred variety)
(1) 32 oz. can of San Marzano whole tomatoes, hand-crushed
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes.
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup olive oil divided

1. In a large skillet, over medium heat, sauté the onions in half the olive oil until caramelized, around 12 minutes. Remove from the pan.
2. Add the remaining olive oil and toss in the roasted red bell peppers and sauté for five minutes until they start to break down. Now add the tomatoes to the skillet together with the onions. Stir until combined.
3. Bring to a simmer and add the soy sauce and red wine vinegar all at once. Cook until reduced by half, for up to an hour over low heat.
4. Add salt and crushed red pepper flakes to taste.

For the salmon
2 lbs. salmon fillet, skin on, sliced into 1/3 lb. servings
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. soy sauce

1. With a fork, poke the fillets in a few different places, a la poking a pie crust before it bakes.
2. Salt and pepper the fillets, douse with the lemon juice and soy sauce. Let sit for 15 minutes.
3. In a large skillet heat 1 tbsp. olive oil until very hot. Pat the fillets dry and add three to the pan skin-side down. Gently press the fillets with the back of a spatula.
4. Cook for 3 minutes or until the skin is crispy and browned.
5. Flip the fillets and once again press down gently with the back of a spatula. Cook for 3 minutes or until a caramelized crust has formed.
6. Remove from the pan and allow to rest on a rack so the skin stays crisp. Repeat with remaining fillets.

For the rice
2 cups long-grain white rice
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 cups chicken stock
Juice of one-half lemon

1. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat and add the rice all at once. Sauté until rice is completely coated in butter for 2 minutes.
2. Add stock and lemon juice all at once. Bring mixture to a boil. Turn heat down to low, cover and cook for twenty minutes until done.

Assembly
1. Reheat sauce briefly and smear 1/3 cup on a plate.
2. Mound 2/3 cup of rice on top.
3. Gently place seared salmon on top of rice. Dollop with sauce. Add a sprig of parsley.
4. Repeat for each plate and serve.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 03/29/17 at 08:37 AM • Permalink