Saturday, March 26, 2011

It's in the Bag

Friday was the Specialty Produce Farmer’s Market Bag class at Great News, and did we have fun!  If you missed it, we will be having a nighttime class in April for the first time, and we’ll be featuring Brandt Beef (which you can order with your FMB from Specialty Produce) as a compliment to the contents of the FMB.   
Yesterday we had some adorably delicious baby artichokes and as I was teaching the class all manner of delicious ideas were coming into my head.  Small, and tender, these babies can be stuffed, and roasted, for a terrific side, or appetizer.  They also do well on the grill, if you are so inclined.

Cheesy Stuffed Baby Artichokes
Serves 4 to 6

4 baby artichokes
Fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino romano cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped basil
1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
1 1/2 cups dry white wine such as Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, or dry vermouth

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Remove the tough outer leaves of the artichokes, and cut the artichokes in half.  Remove any of the fuzzy choke in the center, creating a cavity in the center.  
  2. Sprinkle the cut surface with lemon juice and arrange in an ovenproof dish, cut side up.  
  3. In a large skillet, melt the butter with 2 tablespoons of the oil and saute the garlic for 2 minutes. 
  4. Remove from the heat and toss in the crumbs, cheese, basil and parsley.  
  5. Stuff the artichokes with the bread crumb mixture, and drizzle with the remaining oil.  
  6. Pour the wine into the baking dish, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 30 minutes until the artichokes are tender. Remove the foil, and cook another 10 minutes, until the crumbs are crispy.  Serve hot, warm or at room temperature. 

In class we roasted the artichokes with pee wee potatoes---aren't they cute???

We also had some amazing Gaviota strawberries, and made a syrup from Sumo mandarin oranges to put over a Dutch Baby pancake.  The berries are great plain from the basket, but another way to serve them is with this delish mascarpone crème.

Mascarpone Amaretto Crème
Makes 4 cups
2 cups heavy cream, whipped stiffly
2 cups mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup Amaretto di Sarrono (or your favorite flavoring)
In a mixing bowl, whisk the mascarpone and Amaretto into the whipped cream.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or up to 4 days.  The crème can be frozen for up to 2 months. 

Leeks, a member of the onion family are mild, and are terrific to braise with salmon, or other seafood.  Try this main dish using the leeks that are coming into your farmer’s markets this week.

Salmon and Braised Leeks
Serves 4

3 leeks, cleaned, and thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups dry white wine (such as Sauvignon blanc, Pinot Grigio or dry vermouth)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
Four salmon filets (6 to 8-ounces)
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons of butter mixed with 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill

  1. In a large baking dish, combine the leeks and white wine.  
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the oil and Old Bay and paint onto the salmon.  
  3. Drizzle any additional oil onto the leeks.  Place the salmon on the leeks, cover the dish with aluminum foil, and bake for 15 minutes, until the salmon is cooked through and registers 160 degrees on a meat thermometer.  
  4. Remove from the oven, using a spatula transfer the salmon to serving platter, cover with aluminum foil and allow the salmon to rest for 5 minutes. 
  5. Pour the leeks and wine into a small saucepan, and bring to a boil,  add the lemon zest, and the butter and flour mixture, whisking until the sauce comes back to a boil.  
  6. Stir in the dill, and serve the sauce over the salmon or warmed on the side. 

Swiss Chard is a veg that you may pass up in the supermarket, but it is so good for you, and has so much more flavorful than spinach.  We did a frittata in class, but this pasta dish is to die for and so simple to prepare. Try it for a great weeknight dinner. 

Swiss Chard Pasta Bake
Serves 4 to 6

½ cup unsalted butter
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound Swiss chard, tough stems removed, and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ cup chicken broth
1 ½ cups milk
4 shakes Tabasco
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup freshly grated imported Romano cheese
1 pound penne pasta, cooked 3 minutes short of al dente and drained
12 strips bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
½ pound fresh mozzarella, cut into ½-inch cubes

1.      In a 3-quart saucepan, melt the butter, and add the shallots and garlic, cooking for about 2 minutes.  Add the spinach and toss in the butter, until the Swiss chard is tender, about 5 minutes. 
2.      Sprinkle the chard with the flour and cook the flour for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Gradually add the broth, milk, Tabasco and nutmeg, and stir until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens.  Remove from the heat, and stir in half of the Parmesan and all of the Romano, stirring until the cheeses have melted.  Taste the sauce for salt and pepper, and adjust if needed. 
3.      Coat the inside of a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the remaining cheese.  Stir the sauce into the penne, add the bacon and mozzarella and stir to combine.  Transfer to the prepared pan and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.  
4.      Do-Ahead: Cover and refrigerate for 2 days, or freeze for up to 1 month.
5.      Defrost and bring the casserole to room temperature for about 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 30 minutes, or until the casserole is bubbling and golden brown on top.  Allow the pasta to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. 

I've arrived in Indiana, and it's SNOWING!!  I'm so glad I have my down coat but as I told a friend, I feel like the Michelin man, only I'm wearing black!  Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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