Big Leaf Farm

January 17, 2012

Winter season week#1 cast of characters

Filed under: Cast of characters,newsletter — Chris O'Brien @ 11:37 am
  • Carrots: Winter carrots take a little cleaning up, this time of year, but they are just as tasty as ever. 
  • Sweet potato: These are the last of our sweet potatoes from the 2011 harvest.  Some of these are a little on the large side which makes them take a little longer to cook.  But their culinary qualities aren’t affected, fortunately.
  • Beets: These beets are a mix of the three types we grew this year: chioggia, yellow, and the standard red beet.  Check out a nice beet stew recipe below.  I’ve been on a raw beet kick this winter, and have been enjoying our beets grated into slaw.
  • Cabbage: This green savoy cabbage makes great slaw.  This one’s called ‘wirosa’ and it’s a standout in our winter garden.
  • Garlic: Our 2011 garlic crop was devastated by fungal diseases, which is why we didn’t give any out during our main CSA season.  What you receive this week are some of the few cloves that weren’t affected.  Use them up before they sprout!
  • Chicory: We’ve been eating lots of chicory cooked this winter in risottos, and also raw by shredding a little and adding to coleslaw.  Its slight bitterness offsets a sweet mayo or yogurt-based dressing nicely.  These chicories are far milder than the ones you received last fall.  Voles love chicory far more than any human, so this is the only chance for ‘Castlefranco’ chicory this winter.
  • Dried Black Beans: This is the first chance for CSA members to benefit from our experiment growing dried beans in 2011.  This large black bean is called ‘Black Coco’, and it makes a very nice black bean soup.  Check out a recipe below.  If you aren’t a seasoned dry-bean cooker, here’s a quick run-down:  Rinse the beans in a change or two of water and pick them over for any foreign material.  Then cover with 5-6 inches of water, and allow them soak for 8-12  hours (overnight or while you are at work is a good time), stirring vigorously every now and then if you can.  They’ll plump up during this time, and once the skins are no longer wrinkled, they’re ready to cook.  Over or undersoaking won’t ruin them by any means, but it can lead to split beans when you cook them. When they are done soaking, rinse them again and add enough water to cover by an inch or two, then simmer gently for 60-90 minutes until they are tender (checking to make sure they don’t dry out).  Alternatively, you can simply cook the beans without soaking.  They’ll take longer to cook this way  (3-6 hours) and for some they’ll be harder to digest.  Some also say beans cooked this way aren’t as nutritious.  Finally, don’t add acid foods like lemon juice or tomato to uncooked beans.  The acid makes the beans take much longer to cook and toughens them a lot.  Salt does the same thing.  So add these ingredients just before the beans are fully cooked.

Winter season week#1 Recipes

Filed under: Recipes — Chris O'Brien @ 11:36 am

Black bean sweet potato chili

This is hands down our favorite chili recipe, and it’s become tastier now that we can grow almost all of the ingredients.  This makes a big pot of soup, so freeze some if you can’t finish it up in a day or two.

1 ½ – 2 cups dry black beans

1 sweet potato, baked or microwaved until just soft.  Don’t let it get too mushy, if you can help it.

2 t oil

3 cups diced onions

4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

1 T minced jalapeño chile

4 t ground cumin

4 t ground coriander

2 T fresh lemon juice

1 t salt

optional minced cilantro, and or grated cheese, and or sour cream for garnish and flavoring.


Soak the bean in an excess of water for 8-12 hours, until they are plump. Drain the water, and cover the beans with an inch or two of fresh water and bring to a boil, then lower the beans to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes.  Then sauté the onion, garlic and chile along with the spices in the oil and add to the beans. Peel the sweet potato and cut it into chunks and add to the soup. Let all this simmer until the beans are just tender (about an hour or so), adding enough water to keep it soupy.  Then add the lemon juice and salt (and adjust by taste).  Cook a few more minutes, then serve with cilantro, grated cheese and/or sour cream.

Turkish carrots with lentils and herbs

We always enjoy being served our own vegetables by friends.  We get to enjoy a new preparation with good company, the taste of our own veggies, and then we get a recipe to share with all of you.  This one is from my Mom.

1-2 T oilive oil

1 onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 ½ t coriander.  Use powdered or crush whole seeds in a mortar

¼ to ½ t red pepper flakes

½ cup French green lentils (brown lentils work too, but the taste is, of coarse, different.

5 large carrots, sliced into matchsticks, or chopped

2 T tomato paste

2 t sugar (optional)

1 ¼ cups stock or water

black pepper to taste

2 T chopped fresh mint, parsley or dill

lemon juice to taste

Extra virgin olive oil added when serving (optional)


Saute the onion for 8-10 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for a minute or two longer.  Next add the water and all the rest of the ingredients (except for the lemon juice and fresh herbs) and bring to a boil then simmer for 30-40 minutes or so, or until the lentils are tender.  Add the lemon juice and herbs according to taste, then add a few slugs of olive oil and stir in (optional) to richen up the soup.  Enjoy!


From “The Splendid Table radio show”.

Ukrainian Beet and bean stew

1 t vegetable oil

2 cups slice onions

½ cup chopped celery

3 cups water

3 cups sliced cabbage

1 cup sliced carrots

3 cups chopped potatoes

4 cups cubed raw beets (peel them first)

3 cups undrained whole tomatoes chopped (28 oz can)

2 t caraway seeds

2 T white wine or cider vinegar

½ t salt

2 cups cooked kidney beans

1 T dried dill

pepper and salt to taste

chopped scallions and yogurt or sour cream for topping (optional)


Heat the oil in a soup pan, then sauté the onions and celery until browned.  Then add one cup of water, bring to a boil, and simmer everything for 5 minutes.  Then add the cabbage and carrots and cook for 5 more minutes.  Finally, add the remaining two cups of water along with the potatoes, the beets, the tomatoes, caraway seeds and vinegar and salt.  Bring to a boil then simmer for half an hour or so until the beets and potatoes are soft.  Then add the canned beans and dill and season with the black pepper.  Top with the scallions and yogurt and serve!

From “Moosewood Restaurant Low-fat Favorites” by the Moosewood

December 13, 2011

Week #31 Cast of Characters

Filed under: Cast of characters,newsletter — Chris O'Brien @ 12:55 pm

  • Butternut Squash: These squash are the longest storing of all the varieties we grow, and they tend to ripen and sweeten a bit while they wait to be eaten.  So we wait until the other squash are gone to give them out.  Butternut are one of the more popular squash you see in the market, probably because they are very versatile.  They make a nice puree, but are also great cut up into chunks in soups and roasted along with root vegetables. There are a couple of recipes below.
  • Leeks:
  • Kale: Kale this week is mostly Redbor (red and frilly) or Lacinato rainbow (mixed colors).  Look for the occasional aphid colony on the back of the leaves, easily removed with your finger under running water.
  • Brussels –or- Cabbage:
  • Black Spanish Radish: Use raw as a radish, pickle like a daikon, or cook into stews and soups as a turnip.  A taste test this morning revealed these have lost virtually all their heat.  If you like them raw, they are probably best shredded.
  • Asian Mustard: You’ll see one of two types of asian mustard in this week’s share: yukina savoy or purple-leaved komatsuma.  They both look somewhat like a pac choi, and in fact are cooked like such.  These are all the same species as turnips, Brassica rapa.  Go figure.
  • Carrots: This late in the year storage carrots aren’t as flawless as they were earlier in the fall.  But just as tasty.  So you might want to trim them a little.
  • Rutabaga: If you are casting about for ways to cook this root, try one of the casserole dishes below.
  • Beets: Beet chocolate cake anyone?  Check out a recipe below.

Week #31 Recipes

Filed under: newsletter,Recipes — Chris O'Brien @ 12:54 pm

Rutabega Puff

You can cut the rutabaga with a little mashed potato if you like, or if your ‘bega isn’t quite large enough.


4 cups cooked mashed rutabaga, about 1 large (2 -3 pounds) rutabaga

4 tablespoons melted butter

1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed

1 teaspoon salt

pepper, to taste

dash paprika

4 eggs, separated

Preheat the oven to 375.  Cube the rutabaga and steam or boil until tender and then mash.  Then combine it with the butter, dill, salt, pepper and paprika.  Then mix in the egg yolks.  Beat the egg whites until peaks form, then mix them into the rutabaga mixture, and then place it all in a 1 ½ quart casserole dish.  Bake it for 30 to 40 minutes, until the top is firm and nicely brown.


Savory Rutabega Blue Cheese Custard


1 ½ lbs rutabaga

2 T butter, softened

3 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

2 eggs

salt and pepper


Heat the oven to 350, then peel and chop the rutabaga and steam until tender.  Mash and mix with the butter and cheese and egg and bake in a small casserole dish or bread loaf, until set, about 30 minutes.

From “Asparagus to Zucchini” by Madison Area CSA coalition

Easy Butternut squash soup

2 T butter or oil

3-4 cloves garlic, mashed with side of knife

½ to 1 cup chopped onion or leek

2 ½ to 3 pounds butternut squash, halved, seeded, and baked until soft

4 cups stock

1 bay leaf

pinch of sugar

½ t (or more to taste) curry powder

pinch of nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

2 cups milk


Heat the oil or butter and fry the onion/leek and garlic.  Then puree or finely mash the butternut squash flesh and add the onion.  Then stir in the stock, bay leaf, sugar, curry, nutmeg, salt and pepper and simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Fish out the bay leaf, add the milk and heat but don’t boil.  Serve immediately.

From “Asparagus to Zucchini” by Madison Area CSA coalition


Beet Chocolate Cake

2 cups sugar

2 cups flour

½ t salt

2 t baking powder

1 t baking soda

3-4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate

4 eggs

¼ cup oil

3 cups shredded beets

Preheat the oven to 325, and grease two 9 inch cake pans.  Mix the dry ingredients, then melt the chocolate, and combine it with the eggs and oil.  Combine the flour with the liquid, adding the beets in small batches.  Pour into the pans and bake until the center is firm (a fork or toothpick comes out clean), about 40-50 minutes.

From “Asparagus to Zucchini” by Madison Area CSA coalition

Couscous Tagine with Caramelized Butternut Squash

This unusual Moroccan dish is sure to wow holiday guests.  Or just keep it to yourself and prepare it for your family to enjoy alone!  Cook this in a heavy pot (cast iron is best) with a tight-fitting lid.

2 T extra virgin olive oil

1 onion or leek, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 inch piece ginger, minced

1 ½ t ground cumin

2 t ground tumeric

2 3-inch thick cinnamon sticks

1/3 cup chopped pitted prunes

1 ½ cups canned stewed tomatoes

2 cups vegetable stock

1 cup couscous

1-2 lb butternut squash, but into ½ inch thick slices


Peel and cut the squash in half and remove the seeds.  Then cut the squash in ½ slices and cut these slices into manageable chunks.  Fry the squash pieces in the oil on one side until golden brown, then flip them and add the onion.  Cover and cook for about 5 minutes on medium-low heat.  Then add the garlic, ginger and spices and cook for a couple more minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the dried fruit, tomatoes, stock and chickpeas and bring to a boil.  Simmer until everything is tender, then add the couscous and turn off the heat.  Put the lid on and allow the couscous to cook on the retained heat and absorb the liquid.  Taste and adjust for salt and pepper and serve.

Adapted from “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone” by Mark Bittman.

December 6, 2011

Week #30 Cast of Characters

Filed under: Cast of characters,newsletter — Chris O'Brien @ 12:20 pm

  • Turnips:  Turnip greens have stopped growing by now and the weather and slugs take their toll on them, resulting in some pretty ratty greens.  For this reason I’m sparing you from the tops this week – you’re left with the nice white globes with purple tops.  Check out a nice recipe below that utilizes this utilitarian vegetable. Otherwise, you should all be turnip-cooking experts by now.
  • Celeriac:
  • Sunshine Squash: This squash is great in both sweet and savory preparations.  I’ve mentioned these make good ‘pumpkin’ pies.  They’re also great for ‘pumpkin’ bread, and recipes are easy to find.
  • Parsnips: Not just for dinner any more!  Check out a breakfast preparation below.
  • Potatoes: German butterball are on tap this week.
  • Brussels: The freezing weather interrupted the Brussels harvest, and I wasn’t able to get them all picked.  Therefore, I’m planning on giving them out again next week.  So if you want to eat them all at once, stick these in your crisper drawer in the bag they come in (they’ll keep fine) until next week.  I’m hip to a new (to me) Brussels sprouts preparation that you might enjoy:  Trim sprouts and cut in half.  Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.   Place sprouts on a baking sheet cut side down and cook under the broiler until they start to get crispy on top.  Then switch off the broiler and roast the sprouts at about 400 degrees, until they soften and start to brown on the bottom.  Yum!
  • Onions:

Week #30 Recipes

Filed under: newsletter,Recipes — Chris O'Brien @ 12:20 pm

Potato, Turnip and parsnip gratin

2 T butter

1 t minced garlic

½ t dried thyme

1 ½ T white flour

1 ¼ cups warmed milk

1 bay leaf

salt and pepper to taste

½ lb potatoes

½ lb parsnips or carrots, or a combination

½ lb turnips

1 cup minced shallot or onion

1 cup bread crumbs

½ cup grated Swiss cheese


Melt the butter and add the garlic and thyme, then whisk in the flour to form a paste.  Then add the milk, mixing until the lumps dissolve.  Add the bay leaf, then lower the heat and cook very gently until the milk thickens.  Remove the bay leaf and add some salt and pepper, and set this part aside.  Then preheat the oven to 375º F and grease a 2 quart gratin pan.  Cut the veggies into 1/8 inch slices.  And slice or mince the onion or shallot.  Spread all these veggies in a single mixed layer in the pan and season with salt and pepper.  Then pour the sauce over the top, cover the pan with foil, and bake for one hour, or until the veggies are soft.  Then remove the gratin and uncover and turn on the broiler.  Add the bread crumbs and grated cheese to the top of the gratin and broil until the cheese is melted and crusty.  Enjoy!

Adapted from “The vegetable dishes I can’t live without” by Mollie Katzen

Squash Malagushim

Serve over rice or any other grain

1/3 cup dried shredded coconut (unsweetened)

½ cup hot water

1 t ground cumin

½ cup yellow split peas

1 cup water

2 ¼ lbs winter squash (about 6 cups) peeled and cubed

½ t turmeric

½ t salt

1 t black mustard seeds

2 t oil


Cover the coconut with almost boiling water and add the cumin.  Then cook the split peas in 1 cup of water until they soften.  While they are cooking, peel and cube the squash in ¾ inch chunks.  Cook this in as little water as possible, or steam it, or cook in the microwave.  Then mash the split peas in their cooking liquid and puree the coconut and soaking water.  Add this to the peas, then add the squash and simmer everything for a few minutes.  In a heavy skillet, cook the mustard seeds in the oil with a cover.  When the popping dies down they are ready.  Remove them, add them to the squash, mix well, and serve.

From “The New Laurel’s Kitchen by Robertson, Flinders and Rupenthal

Navy Bean and Celeriac  Soup

This is nice accompanied by rice or another grain such as millet or quinoa

1 cup navy beans, picked over, washed and drained (or one 15 oz can navy beans).

1 celeriac, peeled and cut into ¼” cubes

1 medium onion, peeled and cut like the celeriac

1 15 oz can of peeled tomatoes (whole or crushed)  If whole, chop them.

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup fresh chopped parsley

¼ t dried rosemary

¼ t dried thyme

salt and pepper to taste

4 t vinegar or lemon juice

2 T olive oil


If using dried beans, soak them 8 hours or so in 4 cups of water, then cook them until tender, about 1 hour.  Otherwise, open a can of canned beans, drain and rinse them.  Don’t cut yourself on the sharp metal.  Add the celeriac, tomatoes, onion, garlic, parsley and dried herbs to the beans along with 1 cup of water.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes, covered.  Then add the salt, pepper, the oil and the lemon juice and cook for another 15 minutes, or so, this time uncovered.  Stir it occasionally, mashing the beans against the side of the pot.  If it is too thick, don’t be afraid to thin with a little water.

From “Madhur Jaffrey’s World of the East vegetarian cooking.

Eliot’s Breakfast Parsnips

I’ve given this out in years past, but I think this simple preparation is worth repeating.  It’s a very simple, unusual, and tasty breakfast preparation!


3 T unsalted butter

1 lb parsnips, peeled and sliced into thin rounds

½ cup toasted chopped walnuts or pecans

warm maple syrup


Melt the butter and gently cook the parsnips rounds until they caramelize in the heat. This should take from 7-10 minutes. Then serve with the nuts and maple syrup. Out of this world!


From “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone” by Deborah Madison

November 29, 2011

Week #29 Cast of characters

Filed under: Cast of characters — Chris O'Brien @ 12:47 pm

  • Sunchokes: Also known as Jerusalem artichokes, this vegetable usually doesn’t make it to the top of  CSA members favorite vegetable list. My theory is that this is because sunchokes have a flavor that is uniquely their own, and it is a flavor we are not familiar with.  In general, I think we tend to dislike flavors that are foreign.  I know this is true for small children that are trying new foods, and I’ve certainly experienced it myself with veggies like Brussels sprouts.  There’s a solution though.  If this isn’t your favorite vegetable, try it in repetition, in several different preparations and you might get used to them.  This is the advice given to adults trying to convince children to try new foods, and I think it works on adults equally as well.  Most folks who are new to sunchokes feel the inclination to peel these knobby roots.  I’d like to encourage you to use them unpeeled – after all, you don’t want to build an association that these are hard to deal with in the kitchen!  You’ll find several recipes below.  If you want to try something simple, simply roast them with other root vegetables like carrots, beets and potatoes.  These will keep for a number of weeks in a plastic bag in your crisper drawer.
  • Delicata Squash: Last chance for these tasty squash.
  • Carrots:
  • Beets: These beets are a mix of golden and chiogga types.  I think they both have a milder flavor, and they certainly don’t stain everything red, which can be nice if you roast them with other root vegetables.
  • Daikon Radish: Try a simple refrigerator pickle recipe on your daikon radish, and prepare to be pleasantly surprised.  A recipe follows.
  • Asian Green: Pac choi this week!
  • Chard –or- Mizuna: Remember mizuna?  If you like it’s slightly pungent flavor raw use it in salad or wilted under a hot dressing.  Always good lightly steamed or added to a stir fry too.

Week #29 Recipes

Filed under: newsletter,Recipes — Chris O'Brien @ 12:46 pm

Spicy Chicken and sunchoke stir-fry.

This recipe was sent to me by CSA member Rose (my sister).  She reports that it is great with tofu substituted for the chicken.  The original recipe called for 6 cups of broccoli.  I’ve substituted this with chopped Asian greens.  You could also add carrot and or daikon radish to this dish.  Add the carrot with the sunchockes and the daikon with the asian green.

Make your own peanut sauce by combining the following ingredients (or use a prepared peanut sauce):

3 T unsweetened peanut butter

2 T rice wine vinegar

1 T chopped cilantro

1 garlic clove, pressed or minced

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 t light brown sugar

½ t chile oil



For the stir fry:

8  ounces  wide rice stick noodles

2  tablespoons  vegetable oil

4  cups  vertically sliced onion

3  garlic cloves, minced

1  pound  sunchokes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (peeling is optional)

1  pound  skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch strips

3  T  peanut sauce

2  T  soy sauce

2  T  natural-style peanut butter

6 cups chopped asian green, stems and leaves chopped together.

¼ to ½ cup water

1/2  teaspoon  crushed red pepper


Cook the noodles, then drain and keep warm.  Heat the oil in a wok or heavy skillet and fry the onion and garlic.  Then add the sunchokes and chicken (or tofu) and cook over high heat for 4-5 minutes.  Then  remove from the heat and stir in the peanut sauce, soy sauce, and peanut butter and continue to cook over medium heat for another 4 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the chopped asian green, a little water, and crushed red pepper and cover for a minute or two to steam everything, then remove the lid and cook off the liquid in another few minutes, until the stems of the greens are tender.  Serve over the noodles.

Adapted from

Creamy Sunchoke soup


2 T butter or oil

1 large onion, sliced

1 lb Jerusalem artichokes, trimmed and cut into chunks.

2 cloves garlic, minced

salt and pepper to taste

½ cup white wine

3 cups stock

1 cup cream or sour cream


Melt the butter and sauté the onion, garlic and sunchoke 5-10 minutes, until the onion is soft.  Then add the wine and cook for a minute more, then add the stock and simmer until the sunchokes are tender. Use an immersion blender or standard blender to puree the soup, and add the cream and adjust the taste with salt and pepper just before serving.

From “How to cook everything vegetarian” by Mark Bittman

Pickled daikon radish (and carrot).

This is another member inspired preparation – this one comes from Harper who picks up in SE.   The carrots are optional.  Taste them every few days after you place them in the fridge to pickle.  A week is probably an optimal amount of time for most taste buds.

1/2 lb. carrots -shredded in food processor, sliced in thin rounds or thin match-like strips.

1/2 lb. daikon radish – cut same as carrots.

3 cups hot water

3 T rice vinegar

2-3 tablespoons sugar, depending on how sweet you want your pickles

2 T salt


Cut up the daikon and carrot and fill up a mason jar or two for which you have a tight fitting lid.  Mix up the vinegar-water solution and dissolve in it the sugar and water.  Pour this mixture over the vegetables, screw on the lid, and place in the fridge for at least 3-4 days, or up to a week before you eat them.  These will go on to last for a long time in the fridge.  They make a great sandwich topping!

Raw beet slaw

This is outstanding with a mix of the yellow and chioggia beets.  The cold weather has brought out some surprising sweetness in these tasty roots.


2 large shallots, or 1/3 to ½ half of a red onion, very finely shopped or shredded.

2-3 beets, peeled and shredded.

2-3 carrots, shredded

1 T minced or finely shredded ginger

2 t Dijon mustard

1 T peanut oil

2 lime juice or rice wine vinegar

¼ cup chopped cilantro


Shred the onion, beet, carrot ginger (and daikon if using) and toss with the rest of the ingredients.  You can eat this right away, but I think it gets better if it sits for a few hours.


From “How to cook everything vegetarian” by Mark Bittman

November 22, 2011

Week #28 Cast of Characters

Filed under: Cast of characters — Chris O'Brien @ 1:22 pm

  • Cabbage:
  • Potatoes: This week’s potatoes are an all-purpose type. 
  • Pie pumpkin: As I’ve been hearing from many of you, these make a mean pumpkin pie.  But, if you don’t need another pie for your thanksgiving meal try preparing this in a savory dish (see a recipe below)  Like all other winter squash, pumpkins store admirably, so you don’t have to use it right away.  Just don’t keep it in the frige.
  • Chicory: This week’s chicory can vary from being quite open to having a dense blanched center, a little like a cabbage or a romaine lettuce.  There are two types in the share this week: a round red version called radicchio and a longer type known as sugarloaf.  They can both be used interchangeably.  Chicory can be quite bitter for some, and although I like it raw on occasion, thinly shredded and to slaws, we usually cook it at home, which removes most or all the bitterness.  Soaking the shredded leaves in ice water also really helps if you are eating it raw.  Chicory is nice grilled, braised or broiled, and is nice added to a risotto. Check out a couple of recipes below
  • Shallots: Like the rest of our onion crop this year, shallots performed poorly.  But there’s enough for one distribution, and we thought this would be a good week to give them out.  Shallots really jazz up a nice vinaigrette (its easy to find a recipe online), and are the basis of many classic sauces.  Check out a recipe below.  As with onions, these can sit on the counter for a good long while.  If you see signs of sprouting, use them immediately!
  • Celeriac: Try slipping some celeriac into your thanksgiving mashed potatoes and see if anyone notices.
  • Kale

Week #28 Recipes

Filed under: newsletter,Recipes — Chris O'Brien @ 1:18 pm

Chicory Risotto

This is our favorite cooked chicory recipe.  It minimizes the bitterness of the chicory.  To reduce it further, add all the chicory at the first addition, as further cooking takes the bitterness away.

4 T olive oil

1 medium onion (or leeks)

1 ½ cups Arborio rice.

1 head chicory, cut into long slices

salt and pepper

parmesan cheese

1 cup white wine or pale ale beer

~ 5 cups vegetable broth


Wash the chicory and drip or spin dry. Cut off the base of the plant and then slice across the plant, creating long thing ribbons, including both the outer leaves (if any) and tender blanched inner ones. Sauté the onion in the oil until translucent, then add the rice and stir until coated. Then add the beer or wine and stir until it is absorbed. Start adding small amounts of the broth, and allow it to cook in each time. After 8-12 minutes, add ¾ of the chicory. Stir it in and continue adding the broth until the rice is tender. At this point season with salt and pepper and add the remaining chicory and a healthy dose of parmesan cheese and stir in. Serve immediately.

Self- braised chicory

2 t olive oil

1 chicory (or two small ones).

½ t unsalted butter (optional)

½ t minced garlic

1 T golden raisins

salt and pepper


Trim the bottom of the chicory, chop it coarsely, then rinse it and spin or pat dry.  Heat the oil in heavy skillet, melt the butter (if using), and cook the garlic briefly.  Then add the chicory and sprinkle it with salt, then toss a couple of times and cover the pan.  Cook for about 5 minutes, then remove the cover and turn again until the chicory is nicely wilted.  Finally, stir in the raisins and cook for another 5-10 minutes or so, until most of the released liquid has evaporated.  Serve warm, hot, or at room temperature.

Adapted from “The vegetable dishes I can’t live without” by Mollie Katzen


White wine sauce with shallots

This sauce is nice over chicken (and perhaps turkey?) and fish.  I bet it would also be tasty over roasted root vegetables too.

1 T unsalted butter

3 shallots, finely diced

1 ¼ cups white wine (or pale ale for a more robust flavor)

1 ¼ cups stock (chicken or vegetable)

1 ¾ cup cream


Melt the butter then gently cook the shallots until they are soft and transparent.  You don’t want them to brown.  Next, pour in the white wine and scrape the pan, then turn up the heat until the volume is reduced by half.  Add the stock, and then simmer it, reducing the volume to 1/3 cup.  Finally add the cream and reduce it further, until it thickens so that it coats the back of a wooden spoon.  If you want a smooth sauce, pass it through a screen, otherwise use as is.

From “Sauces.  Le Cordon Bleu Home Collection”

Panfried pumpkin with tomato sauce


¼ cup neutral oil, such as grapeseed or corn

2 lbs pumpkin chunks (peel, seed and cut the pumpkin into chunks)

salt and pepper

1 large onion, chopped

2 T minced garlic

2 T minced jalapeño pepper or dried pepper flakes to taste

½ cup red wine, stock, or water

3 cups canned chopped tomatoes (include the liquid)

chopped parsley for garnish


You’ll need a large pot with a tight-fitting lid, ideally a Dutch oven or deep skillet, but a heavy bottomed stock pot will do.  Heat the oil then add the pumpkin, being careful not to overcrowd them, cooking the pumpkin in batches, first for 5 minutes or so after sprinkling with salt and pepper, then turning and cooking the other side.  Transfer them to a plate and cook another batch until all the pumpkin is cooked.  If there is a lot of oil left after cooking the pumpkin, pour it off except for 2-3 tablespoons and cook the onion, garlic and chili pepper.  Cook this until the onion is soft and pour in the wine to deglaze the pan, scraping the brown bits from the bottom.  Boil this to reduce the liquid a little, then add the tomatoes and juice and cook for about 10 minutes until it thickens a little.  Finally, add the pumpkin and bring everything up to temperature, then reduce it to a simmer and cover, stirring every so often until the pumpkin is tender but not mushy.  Taste for salt and pepper, garnish with parsley if you wish, and serve!

From “How to cook everyting vegetarian” by Mark Bittman

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