Orecchiette With Broccoli Rabe and Goat Cheese

by Anne Maxfield on June 18, 2015

Accidental Locavore Broccoli RabeHappily, for the Accidental Locavore, my CSA has started and this year there’s been plenty of broccoli rabe. Orcchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe has always been one of my favorites, so when I saw this on Saveur’s website, I started chopping! Serves 2 hungry people and comes together quickly:

  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe (about ¾ pound), roughly chopped
  • 13cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • crushed red chile flakes, to taste
  • ½ box orecchiette
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 ounces of goat cheese, softened
  • Salt

Accidental Locavore Broccoli Rabe and SausageBring a large pot of heavily salted water to boil for the pasta. Cook the orecchiette until just al dente.

Steam the broccoli rabe until crisp-tender. I used a covered dish in the microwave for 2 minutes.

When the broccoli is cooked, add the olive oil to a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until golden, about 3 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the broccoli rabe, toss in the oil and reduce the heat to low.

Drain the pasta, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water, and add to the pan, along with the lemon zest. Increase the heat to high and slowly add the pasta water, stirring until it’s absorbed. Taste and add salt and red pepper flakes as needed. Serve, topped with dollops of the goat cheese and enjoy

Accidental Locavore Pasta With Broccoli RabeMy verdict: Yummy! Between adding the pasta water to make a sauce and the goat cheese, it’s a wonderful, creamy pasta. I’ve made it twice, the second time adding a large piece of Italian sausage that I crumbled up and cooked before adding the garlic etc. Frank loved it, which is a sign that’s it’s a good dish, as he’s not terribly fond of broccoli rabe. Funnily, both times I’ve made it, I’ve wanted to toss some toasted pine nuts into it, but both times was too lazy to go toast them. Some chopped olives, or sautéed mushrooms might be nice too.

Accidental Locavore Fasta PastaSpeaking of lazy, one of the chores we both hate is washing the pasta pot. That’s changed since we discovered Fasta Pasta. It’s a microwave pasta cooker (if you’re Italian and/or fussy about cooking pasta, just skip this) and it works like crazy! It’s a box that you fill with pasta and water and pop in the microwave. When it’s done, add the lid and it drains the pasta. There’s a chart that gives you amounts and times. What it doesn’t tell you, is that like most pasta, it’s much better when you add a healthy dose of salt to the water. If you’re cooking for a crowd, you’re probably better off with the traditional pot, but for a couple of people it’s just genius! It’s dishwasher safe and takes up much less space than the pasta pot (that we store it in).

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My Problem With Preserving

by Anne Maxfield on June 15, 2015

Accidental Locavore Saucisson Wrapped I don’t know how much preserving you’ve done, but the Accidental Locavore is pretty much a novice when it comes to anything more than some simple pickles. And preserving meat through drying has always been difficult, mostly because there aren’t any safe (meaning free from potential hungry rodents) places to hang things where there is some sort of temperature control. But there are a few nooks and crannies for me to play with when it’s cold out.

Accidental Locavore Saucisson CuringWhen I saw a recipe recently from Jacques Pépin for saucisson of pork, I thought it might be worth a try. It was early March, the temperature in my tool room is pretty consistent and there are places to hang meat where it should be safe from marauders. Made with pork tenderloin (and coming from Jacques) it seemed so incredibly simple that I was willing to sacrifice a tenderloin to the charcuterie gods.

You cure the pork in a salt mixture overnight, wipe it dry, sprinkle it with Cognac and Herbs de Provence, wrap it in cheesecloth or muslin and hang it to dry for 5-6 weeks. Nothing to it, right? So I left it hanging from a light fixture and forgot about it.

Accidental Locavore Saucisson SecSearching for a light bulb, I saw my saucisson dangling, a sliver of its former self. It had been a little over a month, and it seemed firm (Jacques says “I like them when they are still a little soft, not too dry”). I cut it down.

Accidental Locavore Sliced SaucissonFirm is an understatement! This thing was really dried. Slicing it, even with a really sharp knife, was close to impossible. I managed to get a few slices so we could taste it. Chewing it was almost as hard as cutting it was! Now, all of this would have been workable if we were tasting something delicious (and you know we love charcuterie), but it was unbelievably salty! Somewhere in the directions, Jacques forgot to say to rinse the pork really well before wiping it dry. Going against my instincts (I’ve made the salty charcuterie mistake before) to rinse it and actually following the recipe proved to be a huge mistake!

If the dog wasn’t supposed to be on a diet, he might have been the beneficiary of what we were calling pork jerky, but sadly, it made a quick trip to the bottom of the trash can. Even more sadly, now that the weather is finally getting better, it’s going to be too warm to try another for at least another six months. Oh well, I’ll just have to go hit some golf balls.

 

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DIY Apricot Leather or Fruit Roll-Ups

by Anne Maxfield on June 11, 2015

Accidental Locavore ApricotsEver since the Accidental Locavore was a kid, I’ve always loved dried apricots in any form, especially as leather, or fruit roll-ups. I saw a recipe for some fruit leather recently and then found some beautiful ripe apricots at the market. Add to that a cool rainy day and I went to work. While this requires little time or effort to put together, it does require a long time in a low oven. If you don’t like leaving the house when the oven is on, either do it overnight or on a day when you’ll be around for a good 8 hours. This made 1 sheet tray of goodness:

  • 1 1/2 pounds apricots, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Sugar to taste
  • 1/4 cup water

Preheat your oven to its lowest setting (mine was 150) and place a rack in the middle of the oven. Line a sheet pan with a Silpat or parchment paper (do not use waxed paper!).

Accidental Locavore Apricots in PotIn a medium saucepan, bring the fruit, lime juice, and water to a boil over medium-high heat. Once the fruit begins to break down, add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Taste the mixture to determine if it is sweet enough. If not, add more sugar.

Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer the fruit mixture for 10 minutes.

Puree the cooked fruit in a blender or food processor until smooth, about a minute. Pour the purée in a thin layer on the Silpat and spread evenly with an offset spatula or back of a spoon, leaving an inch around the edges.

Bake for 4- 8 hours, depending on how hot the lowest setting on your oven is, until the leather is mostly dried but just slightly tacky to touch. When it’s cool enough to work with, peel the entire sheet of leather off the Silpat and lay it on the same sized sheet of waxed paper, or parchment paper, before cutting into strips and rolling up; if using parchment, do not remove the leather, and cut into strips then roll up. Eat and enjoy, or store in an airtight container!

Accidental Locavore Apricot LeatherMy verdict: I forgot how good this stuff is! I need to find out if I can freeze it, or some other way of preserving it, so I can make a big bunch of it now while the apricots are in season and break it out later in the year. Mine took much longer than 8 hours to dry out. Part of that was that it was a little thick in the center and wasn’t drying out enough. Next time, I’ll definitely watch the thickness, but it was pretty forgiving and I just kept popping it back in the oven for another hour or so until it was all done. I did mine on a Silpat and then transferred it to parchment paper (mainly because I seemed to be out of waxed paper). Probably easier to just make it on the parchment – one less step and less to clean up. Try this with your favorite fruit, you’ll really love it!

 

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Connecticut Farm Table Cookbook

by Anne Maxfield on June 8, 2015

Accidental Locavore CT Farm Table CookbookTracey Medeiros, the author of The Connecticut Farm Table Cookbook, was kind enough to ask the Accidental Locavore to take a look at her new book. Like the previous oneThe Vermont Farm Table Cookbookit tells the story of local farmers and food purveyors along with 150 of their signature dishes.

I was curious about the choice of state and asked Tracey why Connecticut? “The Nutmeg State is a hidden gem that has been slipping under the culinary radar for far too long. Hopefully, The Connecticut Farm Table will serve to shine a light on the state’s farmers and food producers whose dedication to sustainability, and the food community, is making it evident that hard work really does pay off. ”

Not only do you get a broad cross-section of foods, the recipes vary greatly, from simple, easy-to-toss-together dishes, to ones requiring both time and some kitchen skills. I’ve bookmarked a few, like the raclette potatoes (my kind of dish!) to come back to when the weather is colder and ones like the pork belly stuffed tomatoes, that need to wait a month or two for peak produce.

Accidental Locavore Raclette Potatoes IngredientsTracey’s favorites are some of my picks. The raclette potatoes, a kale Caesar salad, the chicken ginger stir-fry and the blueberry sour cream coffee cake (since I’ve been in sort of a retro, coffee cake mood) are all on my list to try shortly (so stay tuned to see how they all turn out).

My one initial complaint, and it’s a minor one, is that there could be more photos of the actual dishes. While the shots of produce are lovely, dishes like the Roasted Potato and Heirloom Tomato Tower would really benefit from a shot showing the finished tower. Ditto the Roasted Carrots al Andaluz which is described as “a very pretty dish, with lots of color…” but isn’t shown. As you get further into the book, there are many more photos of the dishes, which is a big help as well as being an incentive to get cooking!

While you would think this would be a very veggie-centric book, you’d be wrong. No matter what state you live in, the cookbook will be a great help in giving you ideas for making the best of your CSA share. Other chapters are dedicated to all sorts of meats and fish, reflecting Connecticut’s diverse landscape. And don’t miss the dessert chapter! Besides the blueberry coffee cake, there are a host of other great recipes for classics like strawberry shortcake to quintessential lavender cookies, for those who believe lavender cookies are quintessential.

Enjoy the book, I certainly did, and let’s take a guess as to where Tracey is going next!

Thanks to Tracey for the book and the cover photo!

 

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