Jarlsberg Onion Dip

This is the summer of rain—sheets of it, gusts of it, dribbles of it, puddles of it.   It has rained now for 16 straight days and we are feeling like we should build an ark, fill it with corn, tomatoes and this Jarlsberg Onion Dip, and set sail for terra firma.

Still, there is something about embracing the soggy NOW.  We can wait for hazy sunshine and bonfire nights to get this season going, or we can get summer going ourselves–hang out in the barn, pick in the mud, enjoy summer produce made juicy by the very weather getting in our way. That soggy NOW was our Fourth, where a brief break in the clouds made fireworks possible.  We brought lawn chairs, grabbed beer from the deli, and watched kids light sparklers and smoke bombs into the dusky evening.  We also ate this and this and added a new favorite—Jarlsberg Onion Dip—made from the beautiful sweet onions you’ve seen stacked on our market tables.

Jarlsberg Onion Dip is easy, sweet and smoky, a dip delicious piled high on triscuits or rye squares or even as a topper for grilled burgers.  Honestly, even people who dislike the sharp flavor of onions or the pungent taste of Swiss love this dip, as my own picky eaters will attest.

Here’s what you need:

1 T. butter
2 medium sweet onions, thinly sliced
1 C. mayo, not lo-cal
1 wedge shredded Jarlsberg Cheese (I used lite… it turned out fine.)

Here’s what you do:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter in a heavy skillet and add the onions.  Sauté until translucent, but not caramelized.  (When I made this, I sliced about six onions and pulled out a third for Jarlsberg Onion Dip when they became soft.  I did caramelize the rest; it takes time, but no additional ingredients, and we LOVE caramelized onions on burgers and steaks.)

Combine the cooked onions, shredded cheese, and mayo.  Spread into a baking dish.  I use a little round stone baker, but you could use a square brownie pan with good results.  Add a sprinkle of paprika for color.

Stick in the oven for ½ hour, until bubbly and browning.

Serve Jarlsberg Onion Dip with triscuits, beer, sparklers, and smoke bombs.  Eat under umbrellas or the shelter of porches if necessary. Enjoy with whatever NOW summer delivers!

See you at the Market.

Posted in Dip, Onion, Recipes, Side Dish | Leave a comment

Roasted Beet Pitas

Welcome back to The Red Wagon.  If you are like us, you are ready for some farm-to-table goodness.  The market is opening this Friday, featuring lots of early summer produce.  These sandwiches—Roasted Beet Pitas—remind us just how good good-for-you produce can be.

Beets are a surprising sort of beautiful.  They are roots after all, and they come in from the field dull and earthy from doing their anchoring job. Yet, one slice to the flesh reveals a jeweled ruby brilliance.

That being said, I have had to work at liking these.  I remember avoiding pickled beets and Harvard beets when I was a kid, nose turned up at both vegetables and pungent sauces. Now, all adult and health conscious, I know that beets are root vegetable superheroes—with antioxidant, detoxification, and anti-inflammatory powers rolled into one little bulbous package.  So.

The secret is ROASTING. Roasted beets, caramelized and rich, make a great side dish that this recipe turns into a meal.  We are getting ready for a carnival weekend here, and I’m planning on eating at least one gyro a day.  Because there are no healthy superpowers in those, I upped the veggie ante this week and made Roasted Beet Pitas, which use both the greens and the roots and mimic gyro construction.  They are an easy and complete meal.

Here’s what you need for 4 sandwiches:

1 bunch beets (about 3)
Olive oil for drizzling
Salt and pepper to taste
1 clove garlic
Goat cheese
Balsamic Vinegar
Soft pita bread or flat bread

Here’s what you do:

Preheat the oven to 425.

Cut the tops off of the beets and peel.  Your hands appear to have been involved in some sort of violent crime, but peeling the beets is worth it, and you’ll look less scarlet after soap.  If you choose not to peel the beets before you roast, you might find the flavor a little extra-earthy (and your husband might wonder why the house smells sort of like dirt).

Dice the peeled beets and spread them on a cookie sheet with sides.  Give them a good drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Stick them in the oven.  Roast them for about a half an hour, stirring a couple of times.  The beets should soften and the edges should crisp up.

If you are just looking for a delicious side dish—stop right now.  Serve.

If you’re looking for a meal, chop the beet greens roughly.  Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a sauté pan and add a clove of minced garlic until it begins to sizzle.  Add the greens and stir until they begin to wilt.  Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Assemble your Roasted Beet Pitas by dividing the beets between the pita rounds, topping each with a spoonful of greens, a teaspoon of goat cheese, and a drizzle of good balsamic. I folded the sandwiches inside aluminum foil packets to make eating easy and clean up a snap.(The pita, goat cheese, and balsamic, incidentally, can all be found at the North Union Farmers Markets, where you can find us as well.)

Thank you for joining us again this year.  We look forward to spending the season with you.  As always…

See You at The Market!

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Butternut Squash Bisque

It’s hard to believe that we are almost at the end of the season.  The market, the hay maze, the pumpkin patch, full of people, will be empty in a couple of weeks.  The straw jump will seem lonely without laughing, shrieking little kids and the local middle-schoolers (our live scarecrows) will have to find something else to do.  Pumpkin Festival time, sometimes interminable when we are in the middle of it, screeches to a halt, leaving us with our quiet, solid, winter-ready farm.  Even market shelves suggest a change; where you once found cantaloupe and watermelon, you will now find winter squash: acorn and butternut.  This dish—Butternut Squash Bisque— prepares us for the cold days and nights to come.

Hardy butternuts, unlike melons, keep.  The thick rind protecting their sweet rich flesh permits you to buy in quantity, stash in a cool dry garage or basement, and use until mid-winter.  Still, you will want to enjoy some squash now, and Butternut Squash Bisque combines all kinds of seasonal flavor.  It’s a little spicy (chilies) and a little fruity (apples and cider) and even a little exotic (ginger).  Mostly though, it’s just  good.

Here’s what you need:

1 good sized butternut squash, peeled and chopped
2 T. butter
2 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 T. fresh ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 good sized tart apples, peeled and chopped
48 oz. chicken stock
1 ½ C. apple cider
1 T. sambal oelek (Red Chili Paste) or 1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
sour cream and shredded Gouda for garnish

Here’s what you do:

First, peel the butternut squash.  Squash is hard to peel, but it becomes infinitely easier if you have a good, old fashioned potato peeler.  (Funny thing– I don’t have a potato peeler, and end up borrowing one from my neighbor.)  All you have to do is cut off the top and bottom of the squash with a butcher knife and peel away.  Then, cut the squash in ½, remove the seeds, and chop roughly.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy pan.  Sauté the squash, carrots, onion, celery, ginger, and garlic for maybe 10 minutes until everything begins to soften and brown.  The ginger is optional; if you don’t have it, the soup will still taste delicious, but if you do have it, it adds a nice flavor.

Add the apples, the cider, and the chicken stock.  Simmer for about half an hour.

Add either the chipotle pepper or the sambal oelek.  Sambal oelek is red chili paste.  You can find it in the Thai section of the grocery store.  I use it in a lot of different dishes to add a bit of spice and it last a long time in the fridge.   If you do not like things at all spicy, skip this altogether.

Remove the soup from the heat and let it cool just a little.  Use an immersion blender to process it, or, if you don’t have one, use your regular blender to process it in batches.  The finished Butternut Squash Bisque should be smooth and creamy.

Serve with sour cream and a sprinkling of Gouda cheese (or just as-is).  Butternut Squash Bisque gets better after a day in the fridge. Enjoy.

…This, by the way, is the last blog of the season.  Hopefully, you have enjoyed the recipes  and, hopefully, you have been inspired to try a little farm-to-table cooking.  Thank you for reading.  Thank you for visiting us at The Red Wagon and for sharing your own recipes with us.   Come see us one final time, stock up on squash and pumpkins and cabbage and apples, and get ready to join us again in the spring.

See You at The Market

Posted in Apples, Butternut Squash, Healthy Living, Onion, Produce, Recipes, Soup | Leave a comment

Oven Roasted Cabbage

I am literally “Falling” through this season, going from wake-up to work to dinner to activity to bed.  My children are busy too, and I am proud of them, watching as they handle themselves , their school work, their music and sports.  I am sometimes such an observer in their lives, standing back a little as they grow up.  I am accepting and enjoying this role, even if I’m a little nostalgic for days when nap times and Thomas trains made up part of our agendas.  This recipe—Oven Roasted Cabbage—tastes like those days when I had more time to cook.  Except, of course, it takes no time at all.

I do like to give them simple healthy meals, just to remind them that they are home.  Sometimes we eat together.  Often, we don’t.  Still, recipes like this Oven Roasted Cabbage offer all of the comfort of a home-cooked meal.  Roasting vegetables is one of my favorite cool-weather techniques because it brings out sweetness and flavor.  It requires few added ingredients.  It’s mostly low calorie. The kitchen smells wonderful.

But CABBAGE?  Who woulda thought?

Let me just tell you this:  Oven Roasted Cabbage is sweet, savory, and filling.  I hate saying that produce tastes like candy because, let’s face it, it tastes like vegetables, but I can almost say it here.  Oven Roasted Cabbage is candy-like and ABSOLUTLY delicious.  And you can find cabbage (along with so many other vegetables suitable for roasting) in the market right now.  Come see us, these last couple weeks before we close our doors for the season, and try this:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Core a head of cabbage and chop it roughly.  Put as much as you can comfortably fit onto a cookie sheet with sides.

Drizzle with olive oil.

Sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Put in the oven.  Move the cabbage around after 10 minutes.  Bake for another ten minutes.  Check.  The cabbage should be softened and browned on top, maybe even a little burnt.  (The burnt parts are extra-good.)

Yum.

Have a great week.  See you at the Market.

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Apple Pie

I told my kids I was going to make you something with apples to celebrate this Pumpkin Festival week, because pumpkins are for carving and apples are for eating, at least among the younger set here.  I was thinking maybe a raw apple lunchbox cake or a sugary upside down apple pancake.  Both are delicious and common at our table, but both, my children emphatically insist, are equally poor choices.   How could I give you apples, especially in celebration of  Pumpkin Festival, and not give you Apple Pie?

And so, while I have reservations about how many of you will make this recipe (which seems overly long, now that it is all typed up), I have to share.  Apple Pie is quintessential Fall at our house.  It is dessert, and snack and especially BREAKFAST, so much better than any morning pastry or muffin.  There are no tricks here, no caramel, or cheddar, or crumbly topping.  There is only a simple flaky crust, which you can totally sub with the refrigerated variety if you find it daunting, and lots and lots and lots of fruit.  In fact, my family is so in love with the fruit filling in this pie that they find the syrupy filling in most restaurant pies almost sacrilegious.

Here’s what you’ll need:

A mix of baking apples, enough for 10 cups
1/3 – 2/3 C. sugar, depending on the tartness of the apples
¼ C. flour
½ t. cinnamon
½ t. nutmeg
Pinch of salt
Butter, for dotting
Pastry for a 2 Crust Pie.

You will notice that I tell you to use a mixture of baking apples.  There are a wide variety of apples, which have a wide variety of tastes and textures.  By mixing it up, you get a depth of flavor that you just can’t achieve using one kind of apple.  For this pie, I used Jonathon and Golden Delicious, tart and sweet.  If you want to mix it up even more, check out this apple chart from the Ohio Apples Growers Association, which gives you all sorts of guidelines and suggestions.

Whatever apples you choose, peel, core, and slice thinly.

Sprinkle with sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  I give you measurements above, but adjust according to your tastes.  Toss so that all of the apples are well coated.

Get pastry ready.  If you decide to make your own, here’s the recipe I use, adapted slightly from the 1970’s version of the Betty Crocker Cookbook:

1 C. plus 2 T. shortening (I use ½ regular and ½ butter flavored shortening, but I’m not sure Betty would approve)
2 C. plus 2/3 C. flour
6-7 T. ice water
a little granulated sugar for the top

The key with pastry dough (as with kids, ha!) is to be gentle and to know when to back off.  Don’t over handle or your dough will be tough.  And if you forget or fail miserably, your pie may not look perfect, but it will taste pretty delicious.

So… preheat your oven to 350.  Put the flour into a nice sturdy bowl.  Measure the shortening on top.  Cut the shortening into the flour using a pastry blender until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.

Next, fill a glass with ice water.  Sprinkle the water onto the dough one tablespoon at a time.  Toss the dough with two forks in between sprinkles.  The dough should start to hold together.  You know you’ve added enough water when the flour is moistened and the pastry almost cleans the side of the bowl.  The dough should not be wet.

Gather the pastry into two equal sized balls and shape into flattened rounds.  Put one round on a flour covered board or pastry cloth.  I always put a dishtowel under my cutting board, to keep it from sliding around.

Roll out the dough into a circle about 2 inches larger than your upside down pie pan.  Remember to be gentle.  I usually flip the dough once and re-flour my board when I’m about half-way rolled out.  People might tell you that too much flour makes for tough pastry dough, but I don’t worry about it.

Once the dough is rolled out, gently fold it into fourths.  Lay it into the pie pan and unfold.  Sprinkle the bottom with flour lightly, just to thicken up any extra juice at the bottom.  Spoon the apples into the pie; it will seem overfilled.  Dot it with butter, about 2 Tablespoons.

Roll out the second round of dough using exactly the same technique you used for the bottom.  Place it on top of your filling and unfold.  The top edge should hang slightly over the bottom edge of the pastry.  If any edge seems too long, trim it with your fingers.  Tuck the top under the bottom and flute.  Some people use a fork; I like to pinch the sides into a sort of V shape.  Either way.

Use a sharp knife to slit the top crust maybe 6 or 8 times.  Wet your hand with water and rub it over the crust just to dampen.  Sprinkle it with granulated sugar.

Put the pie on the middle rack of your oven.  Bake it for at least an hour, maybe close to 1:15.  The top of the crust should brown lightly and blister.  The filling should bubble a little.  If you insert a butter knife into the slits, the apples should be tender.

Let the pie cool.  Serve it for dessert if you want to.  ABSOLUTELY serve it for breakfast.  There is nothing better than Apple Pie in the morning.

Enjoy your Apple Pie.  My kids are sure that you’ll love it (and I am hoping you give it a shot).  If, by chance, you don’t have time for baking this weekend, still come get some apples and check out all the Fall Fun at our Pumpkin Festival.  This is family time at our market and we have lots of fun activities for everyone.

See you at the Market or at the Festival!

Posted in Apples, Fall Festivals, Kids, Pie, Recipes | Leave a comment

Cheddar Corn Chowder

I love good metaphors.  They don’t always have to be profound; they just have to be true. I particularly liked what Kristin Armstrong, blogger of Mile Markers fame, recently wrote: that “time spent with good girlfriends is basic, organic nutrition, not dessert.”  So isn’t Cheddar Corn Chowder, this week’s magic soup-pot selection.

When the leaves start to turn, tradition dictates that we girls get together on Sunday nights and cook big vats of autumnal things—chowders, soups, applesauce.    We bring bottles of wine and bags of ingredients and follow recipes loosely, ending up with enough food for all three of our families.  Last Sunday, we made Cheddar Corn Chowder.  Rich and delicious, full of the sweet corn still available in our market, this chowder reminds us of the abundance of fall.  The original recipe comes from my friend Laura and, while it certainly isn’t low-calorie, it is full-flavor.

We need time with our friends.  It is not a topper.  It is not a bonus.  Time with our friends helps us be better moms and spouses and people.  Whether you want to make this Cheddar Corn Chowder with your friends or just share it with them, here’s what you’ll need:

12 oz. bacon, chopped
a heavy drizzle of olive oil
½ stick butter
2-3 C. white wine
4 large onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
¾ C. flour
2 t. kosher salt
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
½ t. turmeric
1 t. marjoram
12 C. chicken stock
2 # medium-diced red potatoes (3 cups)
3 C. peeled and diced sweet potatoes
10 C. corn kernels (from about 12 ears)
3 C. half-n-half
½ # cheddar cheese, grated
green onion for garnish

Here’s what you do:

Put a heavy drizzle of olive oil into the bottom of a large stock pot.  Heat it over medium high heat  and add bacon.  Cook until crisp, and remove with a slotted spoon.  Reduce the heat to medium and add onions and butter to the fat.  (Olive Oil, and Butter, and Bacon…oh, my!) Cook until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.  Add the minced garlic.

Stir in the flour, salt, pepper, marjoram and tumeric.  Cook for three minutes.  Meanwhile, microwave the sweet potatoes to soften them up a bit, also for about three minutes.  Add chicken stock and both kinds of potatoes.  Bring to a boil and then simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

If you are using fresh sweet corn, steam your corn and slice the kernels off of the cobs.  Add the corn to the soup, and then stir in the half-n-half, cheddar cheese, and wine.  Cook for about 5 more minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Serve the Cheddar Corn Chowder with a garnish of crumbled bacon and chopped green onions.

Enjoy.  Be grateful, both for the abundance of the season and the people who make you happy.

See you at the market.

Posted in Local Sweet Corn, Onion, Produce, Soup, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mexican Cheese Dip

We interrupt this regularly scheduled healthy eating blog with a message from the processed cheese food lady… You know, the one in charge of selling the deliciousness–in particular, the yellow colored, foil wrapped, no-refrigeration-needed deliciousness—otherwise known as Velveeta.  Why?  Because this processed cheese food is the main ingredient in our football season favorite: Mexican Cheese Dip.

I will tell you this: Whenever my friend Karen asks us over for dinner, I BEG her to make her Mexican Cheese Dip (and also her margaritas, but that’s a different post).  It is amazing—cheesy, creamy (dare I say “velvety”?) and so so addictingly spicy.

And since the market is full of peppers, at least half of this recipe is completely farm–to-table.  We have jalapeños, green and red bells, Hungarian hot wax, semi hots, and sweet bananas.  All of these, in addition to our own red onions, can be a part of the party.

Here’s what you do to make a MASSIVE vat of Mexican Cheese Dip.  Should you want less, just decrease the amounts of ingredients so that it makes sense:

Come to the market and grab some peppers and a red onion.  We used:

1 Red Bell
1 Green Bell
1 Sweet Banana
1 Hot
1 Semi-Hot
3 Jalapeños
1 Red Onion

You will also need big package of Velveeta (or a smaller one if you’re not feeding an army.)  Again, this is not necessarily in the refrigerated section.  Some stores put it in a cooler, but others toss it on a shelf somewhere.

Once you are ready to put everything together, consider how hot you want your dip.  Remember, seeds and ribs bring HEAT.  If you are sharing this dip with kids, definitely remove the seeds and ribs.  Also, consider wearing gloves.  I think I’ve said this before, but there is nothing worse that chopping peppers and then having to take out your contacts.

Chop your peppers and onions roughly and put them in a big glass microwavable bowl.  Chunk the cheese and microwave everything for maybe two minutes.  Take it out, stir it, and microwave it a minute more.  Continue until the cheese is totally melted, and roll out the tortilla chips!  This Mexican Cheese Dip will stay creamy all night (there is a scientific explanation for why) and is just as delicious reheated the next day.

See You at the Market!

Posted in Dip, Onion, Peppers, Recipes, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Vegetable Soup Recipe

When I make Vegetable Soup, I feel a little bit like Strega Nona. Do you remember her, from the dePaola book, the round Italian grandmother with the magic pasta-producing pot?  My pot makes soup instead of pasta.  It fills itself right up, no matter how small a batch I’ve intended.  And it stays full too, all week, filling up thermoses and bowls and bellies until everyone has literally had their fill of soup.  This week, honoring falling temperatures and shelves of produce, and because I don’t know where you all live and can’t deliver actual bowls, I’m sharing my Vegetable Soup Recipe with you.

To be fair, this Vegetable Soup Recipe is more like a formula.  Once you know what you are doing, making any kind of soup is like following a general script.  Here, as long as you have lots of vegetables, a tomato-y something, a beany something, a grainy something, and a really good Parmesan cheese rind, you are all set.

So first, understanding the process:  Start by heating a Dutch oven or heavy stock pan over medium heat.  Add a good swirl of olive oil to the bottom.  Then, chop and sauté vegetables as you go.  Always start by pressing a couple of cloves of garlic into the oil and then adding a chopped onion.  As those soften, I chop a couple of carrots and stalks of celery.  While I might use different vegetables every single time, I always use garlic, onion, carrots and celery.  I think they are called “aromatics”… kind of a magical name.

Keep chopping and adding and sautéing.  And again, use whatever you have on hand.  For this particular batch, I chopped and added (in this order) half a head of cabbage, a bunch of swiss chard, ½ a zucchini and ½ a summer squash, a red banana pepper, ½ an eggplant (peeled first), a handful of mushrooms, two sliced potatoes, and some corn and green beans that I had frozen earlier in the year.  Holy Cow!  Is it any wonder that the pot fills itself up?

After you’ve chopped and sautéed to your hearts content, add your tomato-y something.  I use a quart of stewed tomatoes that I canned earlier, but you can use store bought tomatoes or left-over pasta sauce, or even some of that oven roasted tomato sauce I blogged about earlier this Summer.

Then, add about a quart of water and maybe two cups of stock.  You can use vegetable stock if you want to keep this totally vegetarian, but we like the silkiness that beef stock adds.  And really, this soup will make its own stock if you let it, so feel free to skip this step all together if you want.

Next comes the grain-y something.  I added ½ a cup of barley to the soup, but rice would be fine too, or any kind of grain.  The grain takes the soup from being a meal-starter to a meal-in-itself.

And then the CHEESE RIND.  Consider a Parmesan Cheese Rind your gift to the soup. Any grocery store with a decent cheese counter will sell you cheese rinds—Heinens actually wraps them and sells them in the produce section, right next to the garlic and basil.  Drop one into your soup, simmer away, and fish it out later.  It adds flavor and complexity and deliciousness.

Now that you’ve got a pot of something resembling soup, simmer it for about an hour so that your vegetables soften and your grain plumps.  Then, stir in your bean-y something (I used black beans this time, but I’ve used just about every kind… even garbanzo… with success).  Finally, if you have them on hand, stir in maybe a cup of frozen peas.  Let the soup continue to simmer for maybe ½ an hour longer.   Stir in a drizzle of good balsamic vinegar near the end (if you have it).

Serve Vegetable Soup with slices of crusty bread.  As you use it for lunches and leftovers, you will notice that the vegetables and barley absorb the broth and it becomes more of a hearty stew.  Feel free to add more liquid if you are anti-stew, or just re-brand it as you pass it on to family and friends.

After all this is a recipe, in that magical Strega Nona tradition, that is meant for sharing.

See you at the market.

Posted in Produce, Recipes, Side Dish, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Roasted Garlic

The kids got off the bus today right in the middle of a rainstorm and I was late getting home from work.  They had to trudge up the driveway all by themselves. (Guilt makes me say trudge, but I’m sure they more ran or skipped…  What little kid doesn’t like rainstorms?)  Still, I felt bad coming home to wet hair, tennis shoes, and bookbags and also to the news that I had forgotten weekend homework and that the little one had to “clip down” and “miss recess”.  I got snacks, facilitated homework and—what the heck—threw a few heads of garlic into the oven to roast.  Roasted Garlic is the new staple at our house.

I learned how to roast garlic last month, over a wood fired pizza oven with a glass of wine in hand.  Now, it is something I keep at-the-ready at all times—Roasted Garlic mixed with a little olive oil in a mason jar in the fridge, to be spread on any number of things: sweet, smoky, and rich in its simplicity.

We needed Roasted Garlic today because the kids deserved their favorite meal—(child named) white spaghetti and baguette.  This is spaghetti mixed with roasted garlic and Parmesan cheese, and baguette split and spread with roasted garlic, sprinkled with mozzarella and Parmesan and broiled.  Add a little milk, and they get a vegetable-free, carb-heavy, absolutely colorless meal.  This is their favorite.  And while I don’t necessarily recommend the white spaghetti and baguette for an adult palate, the Roasted Garlic can’t be ignored.  All you need to do is this:

Preheat your oven to 400.

Start with as many bulbs of garlic as you wish to roast.  I did 5 today and ended up with half a pint jar full of spread.  Pull off as much of the outer papery skin as you can but do not separate the cloves.

Using a sharp knife cut maybe ½ inch off of the top of the bulb.  (This is not the end where the root is.)  The meat of each clove should be exposed.  There are some cloves around the edge of the bulb that won’t be showing; take your knife and trim the tops of those as well.

Place each bulb in the center of a square of aluminum foil.  Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Pull the foil up around each bulb and twist, making a nice little garlic packet.

Put all of your packets on a cookie sheet and throw in the oven for 40 minutes.  (After awhile, if my kids are at your house, they will sniff the air and proclaim, “I smell white spaghetti!”)

Remove the garlic from the oven and open each packet to let the garlic cool.  It will be brown and soft, but it will also be hot.  Take your kids for a walk outside, if the sun has come out.

Once the garlic has cooled, squeeze each head over a bowl so the garlic extrudes from the head.  Actually, the kids can totally do this.  It’s better than play dough.  If you have issues with messy fingers or garlicky kids, you can use a little fork, but it’s not nearly as fun.

Drizzle some olive oil over your garlic, mash with a fork, and use as you see fit.  If you have no white spaghetti or baguette, it makes an AMAZING pizza topper.  The Roasted Garlic will keep, covered, in the fridge for a couple of weeks, and you will find yourself mixing it into all sorts of things.

(By the way, I’ve picked this particular story to tell because the third annual Cleveland Garlic Festival is upon us.  North Union Farmer’s Market is hosting this event at Shaker Square, in keeping with their mission of championing local foods.  As many of you know, we are regulars at their weekly markets.   All proceeds from the Cleveland Garlic Festival will further work to supply the community with the freshest, most nutritious food available.  We will not have a booth, but we will be enjoying the event with our families.  If you are in the area, consider stopping by!)

See You… At The Market or at The Cleveland  Garlic Festival.

Posted in Fall Festivals, Family Activities, Garlic, Healthy Living, Kids, Produce, Recipes, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Panzanella Recipe

In this house with small-to-medium sized children, the first week back to school marks the passage of time more profoundly than birthdays or New Year’s.   Everyone is a year older at the end of August, walking down the driveway pressed and polished, backpacks squarely on their shoulders.  The summer air has made them taller and I am nostalgic, missing tiny fingers and toes.  So I, more even than they, am glad when this first week is over, and we are headed to a pizza/swimming end-of-summer party.  The weather is hot and I wander through the market, wondering what to bring.  Looking at the tomatoes and red bell peppers, resplendent and grand, I remember this breathtaking Panzanella Recipe.  Not only is this a perfect salad to pair with pizza, it is such showcase for the vegetables coming in from the fields now.

Panzanella is an Italian tomato and bread salad—vegetables and good bread tossed with a gentle vinaigrette.  It also incorporates roasted red peppers, which you can totally make yourself.  In fact, if this blog motivates you to do nothing else, let it talk you into making roasted red peppers.  They are so much better than those you buy in the grocery store and take such little time and effort.

So, before Panzanella…Roasted Red Peppers.  The Panzanella will call for two, but I would make a few more, to toss on pizza or sandwiches, to pair with hummus or salads, or to use as burger toppers.  Wash however many you decide on and throw them, whole, on the grill, over medium high heat.  As the skin chars, turn them, so that they are evenly cooked all over and softened.  (They should still hold their shape, but you should be able to pierce them easily without any resistance, kind of like a really well done baked potato.)  Then, take them off of the grill and put each in a brown paper bag.  (The bags they put wine bottles in at the grocery to prevent clanging and banging? Perfect.) Roll up the tops and let sit for about 10 minutes.  Finally, remove the peppers and use a pairing knife to remove the charred skin (so easy and fun, you’ll be surprised).  Cut into strips.  Voila!  Roasted Red Peppers!

Now, back to the Panzanella Recipe.  First, the vegetable mixture.  Chop the following and put in a BIG bowl:

3 large tomatoes (I use a combination of red and yellow)
2 roasted red peppers
½ of a red onion (I slice these pretty thin)
1 cucumber (we don’t have these in the market anymore, so you’ll need to pick one up at the grocery store.)
1 cup of Kalmata olives (optional—and no need to chop)
1 pound FRESH mozzarella, cubed
About 20 large fresh basil leaves

Mix everything together (It will be so pretty) and dress with this vinaigrette:

¼ c. good extra virgin olive oil
3 T. red wine vinegar
1 t. honey (We DO have delicious local honey on our shelves.)
2 cloves garlic, pressed (and we have garlic…)
Salt and pepper, to taste

And, finally, pull out:

1 loaf of bread

The vegetable mixture can sit while you prepare the bread.  I include less bread than might be considered traditional and more vegetables, per our August ideology.  While I bought a loaf of multigrain from the bakery, any kind of good bread would be wonderful.  This recipe originated as a solution to stale loaves, so don’t feel like you need to make a special trip.

Anyway, all you have to do is cube the bread, drizzle it with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle it with salt and pepper, and toast it on the grill over medium low heat.  Don’t burn it, but do crisp it up nicely.  Then, put it on a tray to cool.

Mix the bread into the vegetables right before serving.  (If I take this Panzanella Recipe, to, say, a Labor Day Party, I bring the bread in a separate container and combine it on location.)

Enjoy this recipe, your picnics, your friends, and your family.  And Happy New (School) Year…

See You at the Market.

 

Posted in Bread, Cucumbers, Garlic, Onion, Peppers, Produce, Recipes, Salad, Side Dish, Tomato, Uncategorized | Leave a comment