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Zucchini Chard Cakes

stack of zucchini pancakes

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve shared this zucchini chard cake recipe with folks this summer. I was sure that as soon as I mentioned zucchini I would be greeted with a sigh and eyeroll.

“No more zucchini!” they’d say. “We’ve had enough!”

so much zucchini

Because, let’s be honest, each summer we all have more than enough of the ubiquitous green squash. Even if we don’t, we probably know someone looking to give away a few dozen or so. But to my surprise, as I traveled around making zucchini cake after zucchini cake, I didn’t get one complaint. In fact, people were enthusiastic to find another way to put it to use.

I’m always happy to be proven wrong. Really. That’s why this became my go to dish (along with a complementary tomato basil chutney) for my cooking demos and local food tastings. Apparently we haven’t reached peak zucchini. Word is still out on kale, though.

rainbow swiss chard

These cakes use the classic technique of vegetable hiding. Zucchini doesn’t have a strong flavor all on its own and when you mix it into what is more or less a standard pancake recipe, you hardly can tell it’s there at all. So much so, that you can also get away with chopping up even more healthy green stuff – chard and parsley – and mixing it in as well. Simply avoid those fruitless debates with the picky eaters in your life (note: none of mine happen to be kids) and just go ahead and serve these anyway. Before they can tell you how much they don’t like these vegetables, they’ll be happily and unknowingly eating them anyway. Call me cruel, but this is one of my great pleasures in life.

Zucchini Chard Cakes

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: about 10 - 4 inch pancakes

Zucchini Chard Cakes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb zucchini
  • 1/2 onion
  • small bunch of Swiss chard leaves
  • small bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • splash of milk
  • 2 Tbsp oil + some for the pan
http://www.rutlandfarmandfood.org/everydaychef_blog/zucchini-chard-cakes/

grated zucchini

We’re going to need to shred the zucchini. You can do this quite easily with a box grater, or if you’re intending to shred a large quantity, I’d opt for the food processor like I did here. If not using all of the zucchini at once, it does freeze nicely.

Next, grate the onion. I prefer to grate the onion instead of chop it, as it will blend better into the pancakes.

swiss chard stems

Remove the stems from the chard and save for another purpose. Chopped and tossed into a stir fry, perhaps? Then chop the leaves.

Combine the egg, salt, and flour in a bowl. Add in the zucchini, chard, onion, garlic and parsley and stir to form a thick batter. Add just a splash of milk and the oil to form a more workable, pourable batter.

zucchini pancakes

Heat your skillet and lightly coat it with oil when hot. Preheat the oven to 200F. Pour 1/4 cup spoonfuls of batter onto the hot skillet and cook 2-3 minutes per side, until browned. Flip and cook another 2 minutes. Transfer the cakes to the oven to keep warm while you cook the remainder of the pancakes.

Serve as a side, topped with tomato chutney, or as a light summer dinner with a side of greens.

zucchini kale lasagna

Kale Zucchini Lasagna

A special post by RAFFL’s summer intern, Anna Flinchbaugh.

A couple of weekends ago, a friend and I took a trip down to New York City for a music festival. While that sounds like a pretty simple goal, our travel plans were complicated by a slew of things that made it feel much more like an epic adventure than a little pop down to the city. For one thing, my friend is…well, not exactly a city slicker. Middlebury is the largest place she’s ever lived and she’d never been to New York before – very much by choice. The promise of a day of DIY music had proven to be a strong enough lure to overcome her aversion, but I was more than a little nervous about being a good guide; my own knowledge of New York is spotty at best and my sense of direction is laughably poor. Then, just as we were all psyched for the trip, our place to stay fell through. After a lot of frantic and fruitless phone calls, we accepted that we would have to turn our planned weekend into a one day trip. It was going to be a lot of driving, but it would be worth it. We were fierce, determined, and ready to dance our bejeezers off.

And so we set to logistics, the most crucial being – naturally – food. My friend is severely gluten-allergic, so this required a bit of strategic planning. She ticked off cuisines: South Asian food was usually workable, Mexican food was awesome, American food was hit and miss, and Italian….not a chance. Structured around pasta and bread, at least in its American interpretation, the cheesy goodness of Italian food had long ago been written out of my friend’s dietary repertoire. Which strikes me as pretty darn sad, to be honest. IMG_0039 Enter this lasagna. It replaces the noodles that usually structure the layered dish with thinly sliced planes of zucchini. It’s totally gluten-free and totally delicious. It’s a fun take on an old favorite, even for those without dietary restrictions. While I usually find lasagna to be such a comfort food that it ends up relegated to snowy times, the slightly al dente zucchini slices give this version a freshness that makes it feel completely appropriate for summer. It’s also a great way to use up zucchini when your garden is overflowing and you can’t stand one more loaf of zucchini bread.  When we made it for the Downtown Farmers Market last Tuesday, we stacked our lasagna with sautéed kale, tomato sauce, and homemade ricotta, but you could use any combination of veggies that you have in abundance; one visitor to the market even suggested replacing the zucchini noodles with bright slices of bell peppers. IMG_0014 With a few minor adjustments, the assembly on this lasagna is pretty standard. After slicing the zucchini – a mandolin slicer would be useful, but isn’t essential – lay it out on paper-towel lined cookie sheets and sprinkle with salt; this helps to draw out excess water and keep your lasagna from getting soggy. To help distribute the kale evenly, we combined it with our ricotta mixture before layering, but you can adapt that depending on the other veggies you choose.

This recipe was adapted from the lovely Tri to Cook.

Kale Zucchini Lasagna

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 very large (or 2 regular) zucchini
  • 1 bunch kale, washed and destemmed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 24 oz jar tomato sauce (may not use all)
  • parmesan cheese
  • fresh basil, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Cut the ends off of your zucchini, then slice lengthwise into 1/4 in "noodles." Arrange slices on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and set aside.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Chop the kale into small pieces; add to the pan and saute for 5 min. Add garlic and cook until kale begins to wilt. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Mix together ricotta, egg, garlic powder, basil, and oregano in a large bowl. Stir in the cooled kale.
  5. Blot the zucchini with paper towels to remove moisture drawn out by the salt.
  6. Cover the bottom of a 9 in pan with a thin layer of sauce. Begin layering the lasagna, alternating zucchini slices, ricotta mixture, and tomato sauce.
  7. Bake, covered with foil, for 35 min. Remove foil, sprinkle with parmesan cheese, and cook for an additional 5-10 min, or until cheese is bubbly and begins to brown.
  8. Allow to cool for 5-10 min before cutting. Serve topped with fresh basil.
http://www.rutlandfarmandfood.org/everydaychef_blog/kale-zucchini-lasagna/

fresh ricotta cheese

Fresh Ricotta Cheese

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A special post by RAFFL’s summer intern, Anna Flinchbaugh.

In a 1942 science fiction story, author Leigh Brackett observed, “Witchcraft to the ignorant… Simple science to the learned.” This pretty well sums up my relationship with making ricotta cheese over the past week. The first time I turned a simmering saucepan of Thomas milk and cream into rich, creamy cheese, I was flabbergasted – it had to be magic! However, by the third (okay, maybe fourth) rendition, I realized that making ricotta is actually a very simple, reliable process. Adding a mild acid – such as lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, or white wine vinegar – to heated milk causes it to separate into Little Miss Muffet’s curds and whey. From there, you simply strain off the excess liquid to obtain your bowl of warm, creamy goodness.

However, the fact that ricotta is almost ludicrously easy to make should in no way detract from its wonder. In addition to coming together in just about half an hour, fresh ricotta is also delicious and versatile. The recipe below is made with whole milk and heavy cream, producing a ricotta that is infinitely richer and smoother than anything you’ll find at the grocery store. It is also very easy to adapt to whatever purpose you have in mind. For example, while letting the ricotta drain for 15 to 20 minutes produces a cheese suitable for use in things like lasagna, tortellini, and cannoli, you can also let it drain longer to produce a drier ricotta that’s perfect for pastry uses such as ricotta gnocchi. It’s also perfectly acceptable to let the ricotta drain for just a few minutes and eat it warm and fresh as a spread on crusty bread (or straight off the spoon!). I found it particularly (read: extraordinarily, addictively) delicious drizzled with a bit of honey and served with fresh blueberries.

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As a caveat for all of the cheese purists out there, it should be noted that this recipe is not a true ricotta. Italian for re-cooked, ricotta is traditionally made from the whey leftover from other cheese-making ventures. In contrast, this recipe begins with milk and produces whey as a byproduct; it’s the liquid that you strain off. Because this whey hasn’t been treated with rennet or other cheese cultures, you can’t use it to produce an endless cycle of ricotta (unfortunately). However, you can use it as a protein- and flavor-rich substitute for water in bread and soup recipes.

Fresh Ricotta

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 4 C whole milk
  • 2 C heavy cream
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp distilled or white wine vinegar (substitute lemon juice for use in desserts)

Instructions

  1. Set a large sieve over a deep bowl. Dampen 2 layers of cheesecloth (or paper towel) and line the sieve with them.
  2. Combine the milk, cream, and salt in a 3-quart saucepan.
  3. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Make sure to keep a close eye on the milk as it gets close to a simmer - it can very quickly go from looking inert to boiling over!
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow to sit until the milk curdles and begins to separate, 1-5 minutes.
  5. Pour into the lined sieve. Drain the ricotta until it reaches the desired consistency: 5 minutes works if you want to use it immediately as a spread; 15-20 is a good estimate for other purposes such as lasagna and ravioli.

Notes

The ricotta is especially delicious warm, but can also be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for 4-5 days.

http://www.rutlandfarmandfood.org/everydaychef_blog/ricotta-revelations/

 

kale pesto

Kale Pesto

kale pesto

I diligently planted several basil plants a few weeks ago. A few days later that crazy hail storm arrived. Afterwards, my poor basil plants were diminished to nothing but stems. So I replanted. All along, I was motivated by dreams of pesto. Pesto on pizza, pesto on pasta, pesto on sandwiches and pesto on warm potatoes. Maybe even a bowl of pesto all by itself.

kale bowl

Basil is a traditional ingredient of pesto, but it doesn’t have to be the only one. Translated from Italian, pesto means to crush or to pound. And if you’re an Italian grandma, you probably do your crushing and pounding with a mortar and pestle – not a food processor. But times have changed, and so should pesto.

Pesto, meet everyone’s darling green vegetable – kale. With kale absolutely everywhere these days, and at an extremely affordable price ($2 – $4 a bunch, on average) it makes good sense to transform a bunch into pesto, as long as you’re using a food processor, that is. I often find myself with more than enough kale and looking for ways to eat it that aren’t just another plate of greens, if you know what I mean.

Unlike kale, basil doesn’t have a strong, prominent flavor. It allows the other pesto ingredients – nuts/seeds, cheese, and garlic to really stand out. I like to change things up with the choice of nuts or seeds too. Pine nuts tend to be out of my price range so I opt for whatever I have on hand. Often, it’s sunflower seeds. I’ve also tried pumpkin seeds, walnuts, pecans and almonds. I think it’s personal preference. In the end, it all gets crushed together and hey, that means pesto, right?

While I’m advocating for kale based pesto today, you should experiment with different herbs and leafy greens.

kale in food processor

Kale Pesto

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 1 1/2 cups pesto

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch (3 cups) kale
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. Pulse sunflower seeds in the food processor until finely ground.
  2. Add kale, garlic and olive oil. Blend until smooth.
  3. Add Parmesan and blend to combine.
  4. Taste and add more ingredients as needed to reach your desired consistency and taste.
http://www.rutlandfarmandfood.org/everydaychef_blog/kale-pesto/

 

kabobs plated

Teriyaki Beef Kebabs

kabobs plated

Nothing says summer like food on a stick. From popsicles to corndogs, eating with your hands evokes the fun and casualness of the season. And it just wouldn’t be summer without a few kebabs on the grill – whether they’re beef, chicken, shrimp, or vegetables – almost anything goes.

However, the meat kebab is the most traditional. In particular, lamb. It’s a form of cooking that’s been around for thousands of years and varies just slightly throughout the world. But you’ll find that food skewered and cooked on or over a flame is almost always known as a kebab.

Primitive though it is, there are some key tips to a good kebab. First is a marinade.  A marinade will ensure your meat is tender and full of flavor. The longer you can let your meat sit in a marinade the better. Make it at least 30 minutes, though.

This teriyaki marinade is extremely simple. It’s just a combination of soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and vegetable oil. I bet you could make it right now without having to leave home.

marinading beefCut your meat up into pieces before sticking in the marinade, that way there is more surface area to penetrate. You don’t have to place them on the skewers until you’re ready for the grill, though. It’s up to you.

As for the skewers, wood is the way to go. The metal ones are sturdier and reusable, which is great, but they heat up fast and cause the center of your meat to cook too quickly and somewhat unevenly. I don’t see why they couldn’t work for vegetables, though.

kabobs on grill

Two other notes about the wooden skewers: First, in order to prevent the skewers catching fire, you need to soak them in water. Thirty minutes to an hour will do. Second, use two. Ignore my photo. I learned that one wooden skewer is just too flimsy.

While kebabs composed of all different items are visually appealing, I don’t think they work well. Keep the food on your kebabs consistent. In other words, keep the beef on its own skewers, the shrimp on its own and the peppers on their own. Different foods cook up differently and naturally require different cooking times. You don’t want to overcook your beef because the vegetable you paired it with needs more time. Leave mixing things up until they’re on your plate.

kabobs plated

Teriyaki Beef Kebabs

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lb beef sirloin, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 8 wooden skewers
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Submerge the wooden skewers in water and soak for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Mix together the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, brown sugar and oil until combined.
  3. Coat the meat with the marinade, reserving a portion for serving.
  4. Let the meat marinade anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours.
  5. Thread the pieces of meat onto double skewers, leaving a little space in between each piece.
  6. Preheat the grill or a grill pan to medium high heat.
  7. Place the beef kebabs on the grill. Cook 2-3 minutes and turn. Repeat for each side, cooking a total of 10-12 minutes or until your desired temperature.
  8. Let rest for a few minutes then serve with remaining marinade.
http://www.rutlandfarmandfood.org/everydaychef_blog/teriyaki-beef-kebabs/

 

rhubarb and onion

Rhubarb Chutney

rhubarb in cast ironFact: rhubarb is tart. Lie: In order to enjoy rhubarb we must overwhelm it with sweetness.

While the sweetness of ripe strawberries certainly pairs well with rhubarb, rhubarb can actually be a star all on its own. When I saw the first pink rhubarb stalks of the season a few weeks ago, local strawberries weren’t even ready for bubbling together in a pie. So I wondered what else I could do.

Looking back on other rhubarb recipes that I’ve previously shared, I wasn’t feeling good about the amount of sugar they contained. And I refuse to believe it is necessary. Then I remembered a rhubarb chutney recipe that Joann, our bookkeeper at RAFFL, shared a couple of years ago. Sadly, Joann will soon be leaving us and moving on, so I thought now was a good time to revisit her rhubarb chutney. Now I just need to figure out who will appreciate my sense of humor when she’s gone.

washed rhubarb

Since I didn’t get a chance to make Joann’s chutney at the time of posting (it was winter), I was excited to give it a try this spring and find that I was right – rhubarb doesn’t need to rely only on sweetness to taste good. I made a few adjustments to her recipe, like adding in orange zest and juice and replacing the sugar with honey, and I liked the results.

rhubarb and onion

In this chutney, the rhubarb is sliced into pieces and sauteed along with chopped red onion. Before long, the rhubarb starts to break down and release its juices while the onion becomes tender.

honey and rhubarb

The chutney gets a good kick of flavor from ginger and garlic, one of my favorite seasoning combos. A splash of cider vinegar and honey help round it out. I think rhubarb does need some sweetness, but it shouldn’t be overpowering. I think the mildness of honey helps solve my over sweet rhubarb frustration.

Raisins also help add some natural sweetness that I don’t feel guilty about while also not overwhelming the dish. Then, before the chutney finishes simmering, orange juice and zest are stirred in.

rhubarb chutney

The result is part sauce, part condiment that can be paired with pork, fish and poultry or simply over toasted bread with melted cheese. But if you are looking for a sweet rhubarb idea, try this frozen yogurt or this compote.

Rhubarb Chutney

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 3 cups

Rhubarb Chutney

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces rhubarb
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • splash of apple cider vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 orange

Instructions

  1. Wash and chop the rhubarb into half inch pieces. Roughly chop the onion.
  2. Heat a pan over medium high heat with a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the rhubarb and onion and let cook until rhubarb has softened and released its juices and the onion is tender. About 10 minutes.
  3. While that cooks, grate the ginger and mince the garlic. Add to the pan when ready to go.
  4. After 10 minutes of cooking, add the honey, vinegar and raisins. Taste and season with salt as you see fit. After 5 more minutes of simmering, add the zest and juice of the orange. Stir. Remove from heat and let cool to thicken.
http://www.rutlandfarmandfood.org/everydaychef_blog/rhubarb-chutney-2/

egg frittata

Anytime Frittata

mini frittata

Frittata. It’s like a omelet, but less French, more Italian and is easier to put together. If you avoid making omelets in fear of unsuccessfully flipping or folding your eggs and having it all fall apart, then the frittata is for you. I like them because you can add whatever you want – seasonal vegetables, any kind of meat and even your leftovers. You can eat them any time of day and any time of year. There’s never really a bad time for a frittata.

mini frittata

Did you know you can make a frittata in just one pan? If, like me, you don’t enjoy washing dishes, this is also good news. But, if you’re making brunch for a group, or need something for a potluck, you can make mini frittatas by using muffin tins. I made the mini version (70 of them, to be exact) when I went to speak to a group of Green Mountain Foster Grandparents a couple weeks ago. These dedicated folks spend several hours each week of the school year to help out kids in local schools. How great is that? Fortunately, they liked the frittatas I brought and were not completely bored by my talk! In fact, they had some great questions about local food and cooking.

eggs in a bowl

But I also made the regular sized version in my cast iron pan when I was a guest on What’s Cooking Rutland in April. Feel free to watch, just don’t be too harsh – I’m no television star.

Anytime Frittata

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 10 eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup milk or cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium potato, thinly sliced
  • 10 ounces mixed veggies and/or meat, cut into small, 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup crumbled or chopped cheese of your liking

Instructions

  1. Crack the eggs into a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper, add the milk/cream and beat until eggs are a consistent color and are slightly frothy. Stir in the parsley.
  2. Melt one tablespoon of the butter in a 8-10 inch, heavy bottomed pan that has been preheated over medium high heat. A cast iron pan is ideal. Add the onion, potato and the additional veggies and meat, if you choose to include. Cook about 15 minutes or until everything is cooked through and tender. Increase the heat if needed.
  3. For one large frittata: Preheat the broiler. Remove all but half the cooked veggie/meat combo from the pan and set aside. Melt in the remaining tablespoon of butter then pour in the eggs. Stir for a minute then let the eggs settle in an even layer in the pan. After a couple of minutes, when the eggs start to settle, add the remaining cooked ingredients on top of the eggs, along with the cheese. Place the entire pan under the broiler for 3-5 minutes, until the frittata has puffed upped and slightly browned.
  4. For mini frittatas: Preheat the oven to 375F and grease two 12 cup muffin tins. Pour the eggs 3/4 of the way in the tins and then top with your cooked filling ingredients and the cheese. It's important to put the eggs in the tins first in order to form the shell, otherwise the fillings will fall right out when you remove them from the pan. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, until set and puffy.
http://www.rutlandfarmandfood.org/everydaychef_blog/anytime-frittata/

 

RAFFL's 2014 - 2015 Locally Grown Guide

RAFFL’s 2014 Locally Grown Guide

RAFFL's 2014 - 2015 Locally Grown Guide

Cooking with local food is great – as long as you know how and where to find it. That’s why I’m excited to share that today is the release of our 2014 – 2015 Locally Grown Guide. The guide is a handy resource and directory of the farms, foods, and local food businesses in the Rutland, Vermont region. This year, it’s even more handy because you can easily save it to your favorite mobile devices to take it on the go!

Just click on the cover to the left or go to http://bit.ly/1mPj7qi to access our digital edition. Or, today, May 21st, look for a physical copy inserted into the Rutland Herald.

But we also need your help getting the guide out to where you live, work and the places you visit. Please get in touch at guide@rutlandfarmandfood.org if you can help us get copies of the guide out to your area.

I hope you enjoy the new guide!

A Program of RAFFL

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