GREAT WINTER SOUP

 

 
 
 
ROOT VEGETABLE SOUP
 
I have been making this soup for years. And everyone loves this soup.You don’t need to worry too much about exact quantities here. Just use the root vegetables you have around. Full Plate CSA has been supplying us with great amounts of parsnips, turnips, rutabagas and carrots. I also love celeriac in this soup, and butternut squash. 
 
2 Tbs. butter
1-2 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
½ pound of at least three of the following: parsnips, carrots, rutabaga, butternut and celeriac, or turnips peeled and cut into about a ¾   inch dice.
32 ounces of either chicken or vegetable
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup water
1-2 Tbs. corn starch
½ cup milk or ½ and ½ or cream
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup frozen green peas
 
  1. Fry onions in 1 tbs. melted butter in large saucepan until soft and just beginning to brown, remove and set aside.
  2. Add the rest of the butter and some olive oil and fry the vegetables one vegetable at a time over very high heat until fragrant and beginning to brown. 
  3. Combine  all the vegetables including the onions, add a bay leaf and salt and pepper to taste, and the broth and simmer, covered for 20-30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft, but not mushy.
  4. Just before the vegetables are cooked mix the cornstarch and water together and add 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring to the soup. Let it cook together and add only as much cornstarch as necessary to make a chowder consistency, stirring to avoid lumps. Simmer gently until the cornstarch taste is gone.
  5. Remove from heat and for best results refrigerate at least a day.
  6. Reheat, and when simmering add frozen peas. 
  7. When the peas are cooked, add the milk and remove the bay leaf.
  8. Taste for seasoning. This soup is good with lots of pepper.
 

 

FEASTING on SENECA LAKE

 

 
 
DANO’S AND SUZANNE FINE REGIONAL CUISINE
 
December was a good month for fine dining on Seneca Lake. Two of my favorite chefs put on great feasts. On December 6th Dano hosted a Turkish Night with his friend Oya Reiger working along side. She is a very talented Turkish cook and put on an elaborate spread of authentic dishes. Many of the ingredients needed to be special ordered and so there is little hope of every recreating this feast. Some of the highlights were a carrot dip made with cooked carrots, mint and yogurt that was unique and delicious. That was served at the table with homemade Dolma (stuffed grape leaves) and olives. Following was a creamy red lentil soup cooked with a special bulgur and mint butter. The only complaint was that it came in a tiny tea cup. It was perfectly spiced and flavorful.
 
The main buffet had an assortment of salads, a lamb stew and a chicken prepared in a walnut sauce. Everyone had favorites but I particularly liked the butternut squash borek with black sesame: a stuffed fried pastry which was creamy, sweet, salty and crispy all at once. Dessert was also buffet style, fortunately since it would have been impossible to decide. This way I could try everything and all were amazing and totally new taste experiences. My favorite was a semolina cake with orange and  lemon. The cake had been soaked in the citrus juice which resulted in a moist cake bursting with  flavor. I’m sure very few people have enjoyed a strudel of carrot, quince, chickpea and pine nut with orange honey. Not easy to describe but delicious nonetheless.
 
Dano and Karen really know how to throw a party. Their food is always delicious: creative and expertly prepared often with local seasonal ingredients. The original Turkish music was performed by Atakan Sari and friends and contributed nicely to the festive cultural experience. Keep checking their website and you’ll find that Dans’s Heuriger on Seneca offers several special dining events a year. 
 
Suzanne from Suzanne Fine Regional Cuisine also puts on quite a show at her yearly Winemaker Dinner. Last years’ was so good that I made sure to sign up early for her December 12th Dinner this year with guest winemaker Steve Shaw from Shaw Vineyard. Shaw’s is a relatively newcomer on the winery scene but he is certainly among the top winemakers and one to keep a close eye on. 
 
Suzanne offered some nice appetizers as we waited to be seated. The Old Townsend home was built in 1903 and has been lovingly restored into this elegant, warm and cozy restaurant with panoramic views of Seneca Lake. I was particularly enamored of the tiny crab cakes, some of the best I’ve every eaten. I asked Suzanne how they were made and she divulged the secret was a mousse of heavy cream, shrimp and a touch of gin is the binder that holds the crab together. No peppers or breadcrumbs to dilute the crab flavor. Once seated we were first served a creamy butternut squash soup that was poured into your soup bowl that had been adorned with ginger shrimp. The soup was outstanding and I will be posting a close version of the soup that I made at home a few days later. A 2005 Reisling was served with this course and though it was not a “dry” it actually was as dry as most of the dry Rieslings one finds in the Finger Lakes: a very good pairing and an excellent wine
     The next courses: a porcini dusted diver scallop with an herb potato crisp and cauliflower puree with a red wine butter sauce was a beautifully composed work of art, each element perfectly cooked. Scallops do not get better than this. Suzanne found extraordinary Baja diver scallops from California for this dish. The 2002 Chardonnay again was a very nice pairing.
 
The Pinot Noir (2002) was a wonderful surprise. It had body and complexity not usually found in Finger Lakes reds. It paired beautifully with the grilled quail with fig risotto, another elegantly prepared dish with a wonderful rich flavor. For dessert we had a warm chocolate cake with Belgian Chocolate Sauce and Vanilla bean ice cream. Suzanne’s desserts are all spectacular to see and to taste. This did not disappoint. 
 
I would strongly recommend keeping your eyes open for these special chef dinners. It provides an opportunity for chefs to showcase their talents and it makes for a special  evening of feasting.

OUR COMMUNITY IN NEED

 

 

 

Friendship Donations Network (FDN)
 
 
FDN’s mission is to bridge the gap between surplus food (which would otherwise be  dumped) and hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity through efficient recovery and redistribution of nutritious food to our needy neighbors.  There is no eligibility requirement for those wanting food. 
 
One out of four people in Tompkins County- 27% is affected by food insecurity/hunger. FDN serves 2,500 persons weekly through 25 programs which include food pantries, community hot meals, outreach food deliveries to rural poor; low-wage work sites, non-profits and youth programs. There is food offered somewhere in Tompkins County seven days a week. For locations and hours you can visit the FDN website.
 
The annual estimated amount of FDN food donations is $1.5 to $2million for 600,000 to 800,000 pounds of mostly fresh perishable, nutritious food! 100% of donations fund direct services.  FDN has 200 volunteers and is 99% volunteer run.  
 
FDN has recently needed to hire a part time coordinator at an annual cost of $14,580. This person’s salary is the only overhead cost for running this program. For the last 20 years Sara Pines, the founder of the program has donated her time to serve as coordinator.  She now needs to find a successor.
 
THERE IS NOT ENOUGH FUNDING TO PAY THE COORDINATOR AND UNLESS FUNDS ARE RAISED THROUGH DONATIONS FDN WILL BE REQUIRED TO CLOSE IT”S DOORS.
 
FDN needs donations to pay for the coordinator’s salary. If you can help, please vist their website for more information
 
 

LOCAL MEAT

 

LOCAL MEAT and TWO GREAT RECIPES
 
 
We are blessed with many area farmers who supply us with pasture raised natural meat. Most do not use chemicals or hormones but stop short of “organic” certification since this is such an arduous and expensive process. The farmers market (now open only on Saturdays until December 10th) is a good place to find several local meat sellers but there are other options around.
 
For GOAT meat we have John Wertis’ farm:  BWW.   Doug Gruen, chef of the Blue Stone Bar and Grill has been featuring John’s goat meat in his Indonesian Style Curry which was strongly recommended by Peggy Haine in the Ithaca Times Winter Guide 2008. Call ahead at the Blue Stone Bar to see whether it’s being served as a special that evening.
 
We also have locally grown BISON from Glenwood Farms which can be purchased now at the Saturday Farmer’s Market or at their farm at 1084 Glenwood Heights Road. They are open Wednesdays and Fridays from 6-8 in the evening and Saturdays from 11-4. Call ahead to make sure someone is there. Their phone number is 272-7809. I made a Bison Shepherd’s Pie from Bon Appetit which was incredibly good. I am posting my adapted version of the recipe for you to try.
 
 
If you want to buy local BEEF, CHICKEN,TURKEY,GOOSE, LAMB and PORK we have Autumn's Harvest Farm in Romulus. You can contact them directly or buy some of their products through Garden Gate Delivery which sells many local products and delivers them right to your home.  Their grocery items come mostly from processors and farmers located within 25 miles of Ithaca.  For the next two weeks Marlo, from Garden Gate is waiving the $8 delivery fee so this would be a good time to check out her extensive offerings.
 
McDonalds Farm and Sabols are long time favorites who sell many cuts of meat at the Farmers market and continue to deliver into town through the winter. You can pre-order from McDonalds Farm and Peter will meet you at his truck at the Farmer’s Market location at Steamship landing on Saturdays. Sabol's Farm has a similar arrangement. If you call ahead to order, he will meet you at the Greenstar parking lot through the winter. Richard's number is 607-869-5896. Sabols also sells through Garden Gate if you want your meat delivered to your doorstep.
 
High Point Farms is located in Trumansburg and raises grass fed beef, pork and lamb and free range chickens. They sell from their farm on Tuesdays and Fridays from 3-6 and Saturdays 11-2 . They also have ground beef available in the freezer section at Shur Save in T-Burg.
 
The Piggery is a new addition to the Farmers Market scene. The long lines waiting to buy fresh cuts of pork and homemade sausages and pates indicate that they have a loyal following. If you're looking for a particular cut of meat or some special charcuterie I would recommend you call ahead since they tend make small batches and run out quite quickly.
 
 
For more information about Dairy, eggs, poultry and meat farmers located in the Southern Tier and the Finger Lakes visit the Local Foods website of Cooperative Extension.
 
It is more expensive to buy local, pasture raised meats but there are several advantages. 
  • You’re supporting our local farmers who work hard to give us great quality
  • No middle-people are involved
  • You know what you’re getting. Just visit the farms to see for yourself.
  • It’s healthier. Grass fed meat have 2-4 times the levels of Omega 3 than in grain fed animals. And you aren’t consuming unknown chemicals, hormones, and antibiotics.
  • And for me, knowing that the animals are humanely treated is particularly important.
 
The Braised Pork Shoulder with Pomegranate and Quince recipe that I recently tried from Bon Appétit  was a great success .  I made a few changes to keep the ingredients  local and more affordable. Below are both recipes to enjoy on a cold winter’s night. Both should be made a day or two ahead of time and reheated for ultimate flavor.
 
 
Bison Shepherd's Pie: 8 SERVINGS
Adapted from Bon Appétit magazine September 2008
 
Ingredients
meat layer
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 pounds ground bison meat* or ground beef
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 8 oz mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry red wine
vegetable layer
  • 2 cups diced peeled carrots
potato topping
  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 large head of cauliflower (about 1 1/2 pounds), cored, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup milk OR ½ &½  
  • 2 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided (about 8 ounces)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • Chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • Paprika
Preparation
meat layer
§         Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large pot over high heat. Add bison; sauté until browned, about 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer meat to bowl. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pot, then add onions and mushrooms. Sauté until soft, about 7 minutes. Add tomato paste; stir 2 minutes. Add thyme and flour and stir 1 minute. Add broth and wine and bring to boil. Return bison to pot. Reduce heat; simmer until mixture thickens and is reduced, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
vegetable layer
§         Cook carrots in boiling salted water just until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Drain. Transfer to bowl. Set aside.
potato topping
§         Cook potatoes and cauliflower in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, reserving cooking liquid. Transfer potatoes and cauliflower to processor and puree, adding reserved cooking liquid, 1/4 cup at a time, until mixture is smooth. Transfer mixture to bowl; stir in butter and milk, then 2 cups Parmesan cheese. Season potato topping to taste with salt and pepper.
ASSEMBLY
Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter 15x10x2-inch glass baking dish. Spread meat mixture in dish. Top with carrots. Spread potato topping over, covering completely and swirling with knife to create peaks, if desired. Drizzle lightly with oil; sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours before continuing.
        Bake pie uncovered until heated through and top is lightly browned, 30- 50   minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and paprika.
 
 

 

Braised Pork Shoulder with Quince
Adapted from Bon Appétit recipe | October 2008
 
Yield: Makes 8 servings
 
 Ingredients:
2 teaspoons paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch of ground cinnamon
1 4-5 pound boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), trimmed, tied in several places to hold shape if necessary

 

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 large quinces or apples (about 1 1/2 pounds total), peeled, cored, each cut into bite size chunks

2 cups chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup apple cider juice
1 cup low-salt chicken broth
2 tablespoons red currant jelly
2 small bay leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2 TBS Pomegranate molasses
 
 
 
Stir paprika, 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, coriander, ginger, allspice, and cinnamon in small bowl to blend. Spread spice mixture all over pork shoulder. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight.
 
Preheat oven to 325°F. Heat oil in heavy large oven-proof pot over medium-high heat. Add pork shoulder and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer pork to plate. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons drippings from pot and reduce heat to medium. Add quince to pot. Sauté until cut sides are lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer quince to bowl. Add onions, celery, and carrot to pot. Sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add garlic; sauté1 minute. Add cider and chicken broth. Bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Add red currant jelly, bay leaves, and thyme, then quince. Return pork to pot, fat side up. Cover pot with foil, then lid; place in oven.
 
Braise pork until very tender and thermometer inserted into center registers 165°F, basting occasionally, about 2 hours 15 minutes. Cool pork uncovered at room temperature. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and chill at least 1 day and up to 3 days.
 
Preheat oven to 350°F. Transfer pork to work surface. Cut off string. Cut pork crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Overlap slices in 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Using slotted spoon, arrange vegetables and quince around pork. Boil juices in pot until thickened enough to coat spoon, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with coarse kosher salt,. Pour juices over pork. Cover and bake until heated through, about 30 -40 minutes.
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A BOOK RECOMMENDATION

 

THE JUNGLE EFFECT by Daphne Miller, M.D.

 

 
 
      I am recommending another “must read” for anyone interested in healthy eating. Dr. Miller’s premise is that there are “cold spots” in the world where certain diseases are non-existent and that this is due to the indigenous diets of the local population. She travels to Cameroon which is a cold spot for bowel trouble and to Copper Canyon Mexico which is a cold spot for diabetes. Crete in Greece is a cold spot for heart disease and Okinawa Japan is the cold spot for prostate and breast cancer. And she also reveals how Iceland, the darkest country in the world, is the cold spot for depression. Dr. Miller is meticulous as she proves the connection between diet and health. She takes her reader on a fact finding journey to nutritionists, epidemiologists, elders from that culture, doctors, and other specialists who provide her with the pieces to the puzzle.
 
    Once in a while we find a book that we don’t want to finish because each page is so captivating. This is “that book” for me.   Each chapter begins with a personal story of a patient who is struggling with a health issue which was non-existent in the lineage of that person one or two generations earlier. Dr. Miller then takes the reader through her thinking process as she makes the case that diet is the major factor in disease prevention. By the end of the chapter she has made a convincing argument and provides a step by step prescription for how the reader can adopt the essential dietary features of that culture. The book ends with a section of authentic recipes from each cold spot region. 
 
Along the way are several side excursions that offer fascinating information:  
 
  • Toxins in fish and which ones to avoid,
  • Glycemic indices of potatoes and how much the index varies depending on the type of potato and how it is prepared;
  • Unraveling the mystery of the soy beans and breast cancer connection
  • The importance of caloric restriction which turns out to be one of the essential rules of the Okinawans. They have a saying: “Hara Hachi Bu” which translates to: “Eat until you are eight parts full”.
  • When to buy organic food, and
  • The health benefits of eating local foods.
 
There are many such side bars of extremely well articulated explanations, some of which sort out confusing and controversial dietary theories.
 
This book is well written, terrifically interesting and applicable to anyone who eats food. If you liked Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollen, you will love this book as well. He, by the way, endorses “The Jungle Effect” on the front cover of the book.

BOOK RECOMMENDATION

 

 
My Life in France, by Julia Child with Alex Pruh’homme
 
 
     Many of us older gourmands grew up watching Julia Child teach us about how to cook and enjoy French cuisine. She was a class act: wise and so knowledgeable, cheerful and full of quirky energy that made her such an endearing personality. This is her memoir dictated through a series of interviews with her nephew Alex Prud’homme. 
 
    Her personality comes through so distinctly that I can really picture her vividly as she recalls her life from the time she first arrived in France in 1948. For Julia it was “love at first sight” when this sheltered, young woman with a WASP background first set her eyes (and her taste buds) on Paris. She loved the people, the culture, and particularly the food and the wine. This is her story, told in her voice and written by Paul after her death August 13th, 2004 two days before her 92nd birthday. 
     I truly feasted on this book. It is a “must read” for anyone who grew up with Julia or who has used her many cookbooks; or even people who never heard of her, but love good food. It was she that introduced us to the first successful television cooking program. Julia Child was the pioneer and inspiration for all those chef TV personalities who followed. Her passion for great food and cooking inspired many of the amateur and professional chefs of today.

I’m back with More Abundance Recipes: EGGPLANT

 

ENJOYING BLUE FOOTED BOOBIES IN THE GALAPAGOS

Sorry I haven’t been posting. I was traveling in the Galapagos with my son. It was a peak travel experience that I highly recommend.
 
But now that I’m back I want to share some great ideas for CROP ABUNDANCE: Corn, Eggplant and Cucumber recipes. These easy, quick ways to use up lots of vegetables are winners that I make every summer.
 
 
 

  Continue Reading…

WILD MUSHROOM FORAGING

 

     Mushroom heaven!  It was my good fortune to be escorted by my friend Carl to a forest bursting with an abundance of fungi.  Carl was able to identify each mushroom by its Latin name and sometimes its old Latin name and by its common name.  And we came back laden with treasures to savor later that evening.  Abby made his exquisite chanterelles risotto and I put together savory wild mushroom filo turnovers. Some excellent Chianti, and salad and what a feast we had.  That night I dried several pounds of Boletes and the house was perfumed by the wonderful musty odor of dry mushrooms. I loved it but other members of the family were not as appreciative.

 

 

 

 

 

 

     Carl had gathered many times this amount but we arranged these beautiful specimans to pose for this picture. 

 

     We ate samples of all these:  5 varieties of  Boletes (also known as Cèpes, Porcini or Steinpilze), 2 varieties of Chanterelles, several variety of Russula (including the lobster mushroom) and an Amanita Rubescence; one of the few edible Amanitas and my first taste of any amanita.  Carl is has assured us that he has never made any “mistakes”.  I would certainly not recommend that anyone eat wild mushrooms without the accompanying wisdom of a knowledgeable guide.  Sadly this past July a 61 year old woman died after picking some Amanita Bisporigera, also known as "Destroying Angels".  By the time she got to a hospital her liver had already been destroyed. 

 

     Wegmans does carry many varieties of wild mushrooms if you want to have your own feast without taking any risks.  The other day I found some excellent morels there.  Or you can buy many varieties dried.  Morels are actually better dried and then reconstituted.  And if you want to buy mushroom powder which, is usually made from Boletes, you can find this product at Regional Access.  Mushroom powder is a great addition to rich soups and stews.

    

CROP ABUNDANCE RECIPES: ZUCCHINI

 

 

 

 

 

  ZUCCHINI RECIPES

Well the time has come for us all to be managing “crop abundance”. I don’t want to call it “overabundance” or any other term with negative connotation. We need to be happy, delighted, thankful for this time of abundance! My friend Beth was being extremely generous with her bounty of zucchini. I happily obliged her generosity and made some of my favorite zucchini dishes tonight. 

  Continue Reading…

BERRY HARVEST TIME

 

BERRY TIME HAS COME TO THE FINGERLAKES

berries.JPG

White and black mulberries, red currants and wild black raspberries

A wonderful bounty of fruits are ripening around the Fingerlakes.  Strawberries are winding down and only a few farms have open picking:  Indian Creek in Ithaca and Grisamore Farms in Locke.  Cherries  are ripe now and several farms are already picked out.  It wasn’t a great year for cherries and some orchards lost their crops.  Grisamore and Littletree Orchards in Newfield have cherries and I’m not sure if anyone else has them anymoreGrisamore and Indian Creek also have U-Pick raspberries. And Littletree has cultivated their black raspberries which are great picking right now. On our land we have ripe red currants, black and white mulberries and wild black raspberries (black caps).  Jam making is in full gear.