Saturday, May 22, 2010

Recipe- Sorrel and Spinach Bisque

I kind of took this from Seasons of My Heart by Susanna Trilling.  It is a roasted poblano bisque in the book,  but I liked it because it uses ricotta, or requeson, in the recipe.  I had a whole lot of ricotta because Nathan made me some.  Well, he didn't actually make ME some, he just had to make some to make a starter culture for a cheese he was making.  Ricotta, or requeson literally means "re-cheesed" because that's what it is.  It is made out of whey, which if you know anything about making cheese, or Little Miss Muffet, you would know that whey is what comes out of the milk when you make cheese.  Usually the curds are all you worry about and the rest of the whey goes to the pigs.  But sometimes, when you really feel like it, the whey can be heated super hot and, if you add an acid (like lemon juice or vinegar), even more cheese will come out of the whey.  It has very tiny soft curds and we call it ricotta.  Nathan gave me the pile of ricotta and used the totally de-cheesed whey to make his starter....

Of course, all the vegetables are available at the Main Street Farmer's Market.  I can't say how long the sorrel and spinach will be around.  Alexzanna Farms has had sorrel the past few weeks and most everybody has had some kind of spinach, onions, or garlic scapes.  Unfortunately the milk and ricotta will have to be outsourced  because they are not yet available at the market (and probably won't be anytime soon, you just have to be really lucky/good at squeegeeing the cheese-house floor to get some of the real good stuff).

  • 1 large pile torn fresh spinach leaves (maybe five cups)
  • 1 smaller pile torn fresh sorrel leaves (maybe three cups)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chopped spring onions
  • 3-4 garlic scapes, chopped small
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 quart stock (I used lamb because that was the first thing I saw in the freezer.  Chicken or veggie would work just as well)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup ricotta
  • Pinch of ground cayenne
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onions and garlic scapes in butter in a soup pot over medium heat til the onions are soft.  Add the stock and bring to a simmer.  Throw in the leaves and cook til wilted. Stir in salt, pepper, and cayenne. Cool slightly, then blend in blender til smooth.  (I don't have a blender, just a food processor, so nothing ever gets quite smooth enough).  Mix about 1/2 cup of the mixture in with the ricotta in a bowl.  Add the ricotta mixture to the soup and blend again.  Pour mixture back into the pot and whisk in the milk.  Heat back up or cool it off to serve chilled.  Taste for salt and spice- a little jazzing up might be necessary.  If serving chilled, let cool at least three or four hours.  If serving hot, serve right away.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Waiting for Wednesday (and the proverbial Asparagus)

So, it's Tuesday night and I'm down to the last few spinach leaves, and scrounging for any radishes that might have rolled under the produce drawer.   Every week I load up on produce, thinking that I never could possibly eat half of what I can't stop myself from buying, and end up getting so excited about it that I use most of it in the first meal.  Spring is the best because I feel like I have been starving myself for the past four months- scraping by on potatoes and frozen and canned goods from the summer before.  (of course this winter I spent eating avocados and mangoes in a tropical paradise, but that market story is another tale altogether).  So when the time comes I try to eat as much greenery as a grass-fed cow.  Lacking the extra stomachs, I end up eating about half the greenery.  But I make sure those morning grits or fried egg are topped with kale, or collards, or something that tastes like it's been alive in the past few days.

The Main Street Farmer's Market is officially opening (I think) this Wednesday, but it has been going on all winter.  I have been living from lamb chop to lamb chop, duck eggs to overwintered collards, and finally to glory be!- all the produce my heart desires.  Arugula, spinach, asparagus (to supplement my own growing in my yard- don't tell Suzanna, or she won't sell me any), kale, sausages, radishes, beets, carrots, lettuce, herbs, grits and cornmeal,  shittake, and even bamboo shoots have been blessing my every meal for the past few weeks.  I feel like I have come out of a desert and fallen into an oasis.  I no longer look longingly at the various produce on the grocery shelf, knowing that even if I buy it it won't have the same wonderful taste as in-season, locally grown stuff will.    I HAVE the in-season locally grown stuff all the time now, right at the edge of my knife and the tip of my tongue.  And I could not be more content, not even if I were a pig in a waller....

 Lamb Chops with Grits and Greens

for two- four people

I like this meal because it is what any busy home-cook wants.  It is quick, easy, and impressively delicious.

  • 1 cup Riverview Farm grits
  • 1 large handful chopped or torn kale, collards, chard, or any other green thing you like- from any or all farms that have them
  • 1 bunch chopped scallions, or other herb of your choice
  • 4 cups water, or chicken broth made with River Ridge Farms chicken
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

  • 1 packet Williams Island Farm lamb chops (there are usually four to a pack- they are so tiny that I like to give one person two apiece)
  • Salt and Pepper 
  • 1/2 cup red wine or dark beer
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, peeled but whole- optional
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Start the grits first- they should take about twenty minutes.  Bring the water to a boil, then whisk grits in gradually.  Lower heat to a simmer.  Add salt and cook, stirring now and then, til thickly bubbling.  Add the greens and stir til wilted.  Stir in half the herbs and pepper to taste, and serve topped with remaining half herbs.

Start lamb chops when grits are about 10 minutes from finished.   Heat a cast iron skillet til very hot.  Sprinkle chops generously with salt and pepper.  Sear lamb chops briefly on either side and set aside on a plate.  Pour wine or beer into skillet to "deglaze", or take off any bits sticking to the pan and to get the yummy lamb juices up and mingling with the wine or beer.   Add the chops back to the skillet, throw in the garlic, and cook in oven for about seven minutes.  If they are firm-ish when poked with a brave finger, the chops are done.  The katahdin lamb that Williams Island Farm raises is almost impossible to mess up- it seems to be tender and moist even if well-done.  But I would recommend medium-rare (which is when the meat is still has a little give when poked, but not too soft).  

Serve with warm grits and a fresh lettuce, arugula, spinach, or combination of all, salad.