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


  • 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


  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.

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


  • 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


  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.


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!

wild leeks

Wild Leek Risotto

ramp risotto

The world of food is filled with misconceptions. And I love to do my best to clarify them.

Today’s clarification: Risotto.

Creamy, rich and delicious, risotto has a reputation of being a laborious and challenging dish to prepare. I disagree. Risotto is just Italian rice. We know how to make rice, right? If not – which is fine, many people actually do not know how to handle this household staple – you should probably start there. Here’s a good resource to help you out.

Once you have basic rice down, risotto is only slightly more complex. But certainly not out of your capabilities. Here are three things you need to know for a successful pot of risotto.

  1. You need a specific kind of rice. A high starch, short grain rice is ideal for absorbing liquid and producing a creamy, not mushy, texture. The most common risotto rice is called Arborio. Pick some up in the bulk section of your local co-op.
  2. Use a heavy bottomed pot, such as a Dutch oven, to prevent sticking or worst case scenario – burning.
  3. Make sure your broth is hot and ready to go.

Wild Leek Risotto

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 - 6 as a main dish, 8 as a side or starter


  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 bunch ramps/wild leeks or 1-2 leeks
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup white wine (optional)
  • 5 1/2 cups broth
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley

wild leeks

Though traditionally made with onions, spring is great time to substitute wild leeks, also known as ramps. You can forage your own or find them from a local farmer. But they won’t last long. If you miss out on the short season of ramps, feel free to use traditional leeks, but omit the greens, which are not very edible.

prepping ramps

Prep your wild leeks with a good wash. Then separate the tops from the bottoms.

The bottoms are to be chopped and used now, the greens can be thinly sliced and reserved for later on.

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in your heavy bottomed pot. Add in the chopped part of the ramps and the garlic. Cook 5 minutes, until softened, then add in the rice. Cook another 3 minutes, stirring the rice around the pot to prevent sticking.

adding wine to the pan

If using the wine, go ahead and add it in now and let it cook off for a couple of minutes. If not using the wine, just go ahead with the broth.

adding in hot broth

A ladle full at a time, add the broth to the pot, stirring and waiting until absorbed by the rice before adding the next ladle. Repeat this stirring and broth adding process until the rice is tender and no longer absorbs the broth, about 20 minutes. Stop occasionally to taste for doneness. Rice should be al dente, or with a slight bite to it. If you have a friend/partner/child, this might be a good process for them. It’s slightly time consuming, but certainly not challenging.

ramps, lemon, Parmesan and butter

Now remove the rice from the burner and add in the sliced ramp leaves, Parmesan, parsley, lemon zest and juice, and the remaining tablespoon of butter. Stir everything together to combine.

You’ll want to serve the risotto relatively soon after cooking. If it sits too long it will continue to cook and solidify. If reheating, add a little broth or water to thin out again. If you find yourself with way too much risotto, consider making Arancini, Italian rice balls.

braised turnips porkchops

Braised Pork Chops and Turnips


It seems the sun is having a difficult time finding its way to Vermont this spring. And while I’d rather be cooking out on a grill, the perpetual dreariness still has me inside and largely using produce from last season. And that’s alright. But I did finally dig up my garden and plant a few seeds this week and I’m happy about that.

While I’m over the filling stew-like dishes of winter, I like the simplicity of these pork chops and turnips. They’re browned and simmered in one pan and aside from a minimal sauce, don’t need much else. It reminded me of how much I enjoy the combination of braised meat and vegetables. It’s a good technique to know. The particular kind or cut of meat can change, and any root vegetable would work here too.

Braised Porkchops and Turnips

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 2 servings


  • 2 3/4 - 1 inch thick, bone in pork chops
  • salt and black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 pound turnips or rutabaga, cut into one inch pieces
  • 1 cup white wine, chicken stock, or cider
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley

Let your pork chops come to room temperature for a few minutes. This helps the meat cook evenly in the pan. Then season both sides with salt and pepper.

Pre-heat a saute pan over medium high heat for a minute or two. Preheating is important, so don’t skip it. Add your oil and let that get hot as well. Both of these steps will help the pork chop, or any piece of meat, in browning. Also, be sure to give the meat plenty of space in the pan.


Let the meat sear, without disturbing, about 3-4 minutes on each side. The meat should sizzle when it hits the pan. If oil starts flying out, cover the pan for a minute and lower the heat a little.We’re not looking to fully cook the pork in this step, just get a nice browning. IMG_0031

When both sides are browned, remove the chops from the pan, set aside, and add in the chopped turnips.

Cook the turnips, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until they’re also browned.


Then add in the liquid, 2 tablespoons of parsley, butter and brown sugar. Scrape the bottom of the pan to remove anything that might have stuck during browning.Cover, let the turnips simmer for 10-15 minutes, until almost tender, then add the pork chops back in.

The chops should be sitting in the liquid, add a little more if this is not the case, and put the cover back on the pan. simmer for another 5 minutes or so, until the pork is cooked through (at about 145F) and the turnips are completely tender.

pork chops and turnips

Portion the turnips on two plates, top each with a pork chop, juice from the pan and the remaining parsley.

gado gado indonesian salad

Gado Gado: An Indonesian Salad

gado gado

You probably don’t need another salad recipe. That’s why I’m sharing a salad idea. Gado Gado, which translates to “mix mix,” is made up of surprisingly ordinary ingredients – raw or cooked vegetables, greens, eggs, tofu or tempeh, and peanut sauce are typical. But with variations throughout Indonesia, there is no one way to prepare the dish or a set list of ingredients to adhere to. In fact, Gado Gado is one of the most popular dishes in Indonesia and I’m betting that’s because of the versatility. Or maybe because it’s just a great way to toss together leftovers.

Gado Gado: An Indonesian Salad


    For the salad:
  • Greens
  • Cooked rice
  • Your choice of vegetables, either raw or cooked or a mix of both - such as broccoli, beans, cabbage, snow peas, carrots, or sprouts
  • Protein - tofu, tempeh, eggs, shredded chicken or pork
  • Peanut sauce
  • For the peanut sauce:
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp. grated ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp.soy sauce
  • Crushed red pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • Salt, if needed

peanut butter sauce
Missing from photo: crushed red pepper

However, a good peanut sauce is at the heart of Gado Gado. It’s probably the one thing you need to pay attention to here. I referenced Mollie Katzen’s recipe in The New Moosewood Cookbookthough based on other peanut sauces I’ve made, the ingredients here are pretty standard.

Just combine peanut butter with soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, water and red pepper flakes in a blender or food processor until smooth.

What I love about peanut sauces is that they encompass so many of our basic tastes – sweet, sour, salty, umami and maybe even a little bitter. It could be why I could put the sauce on almost anything.

Play with the ratios of these ingredients to make the sauce flavored to your liking. It’s easy to up the red pepper, for instance, and transform it into a really spicy peanut sauce if that’s what your feeling. Or increase the sugar for a sweet version. Experiment and customize it to the food you’re putting it on.

I’ve also seen peanut sauces amplified with coconut milk, fish sauce and/or lime juice. You could try adding these in too, but I think the ingredients listed here make a good start.

Once you have the sauce ready to go, it’s simply a matter of assembling the ingredients. If serving a group, you could arrange everything on a platter and let people assemble the salad the way they like. Otherwise, pile some spring greens on your plate then layer on some rice.

I used Katzen’s idea here by adding 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric to the rice as it cooked (2 cups rice simmered in 3 cups water until tender, adding more water, if need). The turmeric adds some color, a little flavor, and all of those health claims people are raving about lately. Interestingly, it’s dubbed the poor man’s saffron.

freezing rice
I remembered to make some extra rice this time and bagged it up to freeze for another meal!

steamed veggies

Then add your vegetables to the plate. I quickly steamed snow peas, carrots, and shiitakes. Be creative in your combo and if you prefer a crunch, skip the cooking and enjoy them raw. Next goes the protein. I luckily found a hard boiled egg left in the fridge and I was content with just that. Tofu and tempeh are popular in Gado Gado, though I don’t see why shredded chicken or pork couldn’t work either. If you have it, use it. If you want it, cook it up or go get it. You can put as much or as little effort into this dish and as long as your peanut sauce is good, I don’t see how you can go wrong.

gado gado

Finally, drizzle on the peanut sauce. Don’t skimp. Toss, or perhaps I should say mix, it all together. If you want, throw on a topping. I chose pea shoots, but chopped peanuts could work or how about some fresh herbs? And that folks, is all there is to Gado Gado.

sunchokes and pasta

Lemon Rosemary Sunchoke Pasta

sunchokes and pasta

It’s time for a little English lesson.

Restive. Irregardless. Superfluous. Jerusalem artichoke. What do these words have in common? They sound like they mean one thing, yet are actually something altogether different. The English language is full of such confusion, if you think about it. And guess what? Jerusalem artichokes are neither from Jerusalem or are even artichokes. Why they have the name they do is a bit of a mystery.


So what are these tubular, ginger looking things? Let’s start with taste. They’re earthy, sweet and a bit nutty. You won’t find the starch, like in a potato, and they don’t quite cook up the same way either. It’s more complex of a flavor and in my opinion, only slightly comparable to the taste of an artichoke. Though they grow easy enough (almost like a weed), they remain somewhat unknown or unpopular, but I think they’re worth giving a shot.

It might seem strange, but they’re actually the tuber of a sunflower. Their blossoms tend to turn towards the sun, like a sunflower and that’s why I like to refer to them as one of their more fitting, alternate names – sunchokes. Locally, you’ll find them grown by Heleba Potato Farm of Center Rutland. 

Lemon Rosemary Sunchoke Pasta

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4 servings


  • 1/2 lb pasta
  • 1 lb sunchokes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 springs rosemary leaves, chopped
  • splash of white wine (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon butter

This was my first time cooking sunchokes and knowing that they cook up somewhat quickly, I used them for a fast pasta dinner. You can use any pasta you like or even a grain. Barley is a good option.

washing sunchokes

Start a pot of well salted water for the pasta and wash the sunchokes by rinsing in water and scrubbing with a clean towel. They’re too knobby for efficient peeling.

Slice the sunchokes somewhat thinly across, along with one onion, and saute in oil over medium high heat, stirring often. By the time the water is boiling and you add in your pasta, you can also add the zest of one lemon, two minced garlic cloves and two springs of chopped rosemary to the sunchokes and onions and continue cooking. You’ll find that the sunchokes won’t cook evenly and this is normal. 

reserved pasta water

When the pasta is al dente, drain and reserve 2 cups of the cooking water. If using the wine, pour into the sunchoke pan and stir to deglaze.

Either way, add about a a cup and a half of the reserved pasta water to the sunchoke pan and bring to a simmer. Cook for a couple of minutes until the liquid has thickened into a sauce then toss in the pasta, the butter and stir to coat. Taste and adjust salt, if needed. Save the remaining pasta water and use when reheating any leftovers.

sunchokes and pasta

beets and maple

Maple Roasted Beets and Oranges

roasted beets and oranges

I walked a bunch of food magazines in the store yesterday and had to laugh. In what must be their California based test kitchens, they’re busy cooking with asparagus, peas, bunches of herbs and other warm weather fantasies. In reality – Vermont and probably much of the northern United States –  especially after the winter we’ve had, those foods are at least a month away. By the time they are here, the magazines will probably already be on to tomatoes. 

Let’s focus on what’s actually available. The maple sugaring season is just about over (if it’s not already) and that means we have plenty of freshly processed maple syrup. Meanwhile, root vegetables are still lingering about and longing for some creativity. If we borrow some in season citrus from the south, we have plenty of possibilities.

beets and maple

If you’ve roasted root vegetables before, you already know and love the sweet crispy caramelization that happens in the cooking process. Adding maple syrup to the mix might sound a little unnecessary. Yet when you combine it with the bright tartness of roasted oranges, it makes for the perfect balance and for a perfectly timed dish.

I wasn’t really paying attention to what kind of beets I grabbed the other day, but when I sliced into them I was happy to find they were the beautifully striped Chioggia. I didn’t bother to peel them. I chopped them up, drizzled with some oil and maple syrup, and put on a tray and into a 425F preheated oven. After 25 minutes I added in two peeled, seeded and chopped oranges and roasted for another 20 minutes.

beets and orange
beet and orange salad

You could eat the beets and oranges as is, for a side dish. Or place over greens with a maple balsamic dressing, top with cheese and seeds and have yourself a light and realistic spring dinner.

Maple Roasted Beets and Oranges

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4 servings, as a side or as part of a main dish


  • 3-4 medium beets
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Kosher salt and pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 425F.
  2. Slice the ends off the beets, slice in half, then each half into pieces. Place on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil and maple syrup, ginger and salt and pepper.
  3. Roast for 25 minutes. Meanwhile, peel, seed and chop the oranges. After 25 minutes, toss the beets on the sheet with the orange pieces and bake another 20 minutes or until beets are tender and crispy.