Guests 29 Jul 2007 07:50 pm
A guest post from my brother Joe — a veterinarian and fellow food lover who lives in Vermont. Thanks Joe!
One of the joys of living in a rural area is the ability to purchase food directly off the farm. As a farm animal veterinarian, I also love knowing that some of the food I eat comes from animals I know and from owners whom I trust about their animal’s care. It’s also nice to have room for a large kitchen garden. Summer is the time I can put all these things together on my plate.
My garlic goes into the ground in late October – it’s the last duty before the garden goes to sleep for the winter. The bulbs will be ready to pull in late July or August, but before that, in June, they produce an edible seed head or scape. The scapes are cut off so that more energy goes to the developing bulb, but what to do with all these garlicky greens? I hate to waste anything from my garden, but one can put only so many of these tangy buds on a salad.
Recently while visiting the Middlebury Farmer’s Market, I visited a vendor who had made a pesto from his scapes. He was generous with his recipe so I decided to give it a try. I placed my scapes (around a pound or so I would guess) into a food processor with olive oil, a little lemon juice and salt. The resulting paste was a little too garlicky so I added a handful of fresh basil from my garden and some walnuts. The finished product was excellent on a pizza with fresh tomatoes and roasted red peppers cooked on our backyard grill or just dipped out on a pita chip.
Tonight I decided to take the leftovers a step further. I butterflied some boneless chicken breasts from our local poultry farm and cooked them to near doneness on the grill. Next I filled the cut breast with a layer of the pesto and a slice of Orb Weaver cheese produced by two very good friends of ours. I then finished the chicken on the grill. I served the chicken with a salad made from fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil and olive oil along with a red wine from a Quebec vineyard we visited in May and a whole wheat batard from a local bakery.
Guests 06 May 2007 08:27 pm
My first guest post, from my friend & hostess extrordinaire LJ Lindhurst. Thanks LJ!
I got this recipe from my friend Murt in L.A.—ever since she told me about it, I’ve been dying to make it. The original link for the recipe is here.
This turned out VERY good, and made a LOT of food. I was originally afraid it wasn’t going to feed the seven hungry adults I invited for dinner, but this proved to not be a problem in the least, as I’ve got a huge Tupperware full of leftovers in the fridge right now. I served it with a big basket of rolls and a nice green salad with goat cheese, beets, walnuts, and apples. For dessert we had sour cream pound cake (I used this recipe, which turned out great).
Despite the daunting number of ingredients in the pot roast recipe, it was a lot of fun to make, and I made every effort to follow the recipe to a tee. The only variation I made was the cut of beef—the recipe calls for “chuck roast or top round” and all I could find at the store was “bottom round”. (Dave suggested I look up the difference—from what I can figure out, it’s simply considered a less tender cut of beef. This did not seem to be a problem with this recipe, however—the meat turned out perfectly tender and delicious).
This recipe starts by layering simple stew vegetables: potatoes, red onion and carrots. You toss in springs of rosemary and thyme, and then cover it with a cup of beef broth, a big can of crushed tomatoes, some honey and garlic.
Preparing the beef was the fun part. You make a “spice mixture” to rub into the beef. Be warned, though—this recipe calls for making a LOT more spice mixture than you could possibly use. I made mine in a little jar in anticipation of this; now I have a really great spice mixture that I can use next time I make meat. Also be warned—this spice mixture turned out a little bit on the pepper-y side. I think the red pepper and the Cajun spices are ok, but the large amount of black pepper it calls for can probably be cut down to half. One way or the other, I felt like it needed a bit of adjusting, but this is a nitpick; no one except me complained about the spiciness, and it wasn’t so spicy that it was unpalatable.
After you rub down the roast with the spice mixture, you set it in the crock pot on top of the vegetables. You then pour 1.5 cups of wine over it. This doesn’t SOUND like a lot, but it is indeed a great deal of wine. The entire mixture turned red, but that could be because I had a VERY hearty, quite expensive bottle of red wine here (and had forgotten to stop at the liquor store to get an actual burgundy wine). I was hesitant to use such a good bottle of wine, but well, then it was open, and… well… it WAS 11:30am, which is cocktail hour SOMEWHERE in the world, right?
And yes, I was making this at 11:30am because it is worth noting that this dish cooks for a full eight hours on high in your Crock Pot. After the eight hours have passed (and you’ve polished off the rest of your bottle of wine), the meat is super tender and practically falling apart. You remove it from the Crock Pot whole (if you can) and check the vegetables/sauce for thickness. I found that mine needed a LOT of Argo to thicken it up—but then again, I could have been going overboard here because once you shred the meat, it gets pretty thick on its own.
The recipe says to serve this in a bowl—and we did, but at the last minute decided to whip up some mashed potatoes, which went with it fantastically. Next time I make this recipe, I think I’m going to omit the potatoes from the dish itself and simply serve it over a big spoonful of mashed potatoes. It was super good, and very filling!