Ottolenghi’s Baked Rice With Feta

by Anne Maxfield on June 9, 2016

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Accidental Locavore Baked Rice With RelishYour first thought is probably why are we heating an oven up in the summer? Good question! Trust me when I tell you that this recipe is worth it.

It’s an Ottolenghi that was in bon appêtit. It may look like a lot, but it’s really pretty simple and mostly hands-off. The Accidental Locavore’s tweaks are after the recipe. Serves 6:

Accidental Locavore Pomegranate RelishPomegranate Relish

  • ½ cup walnuts
  • ¾ pomegranate seeds (from about ½ a pomegranate)
  • ¾ cup Castelvetrano, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped mint
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
  • 1 garlic clove crushed into a paste
  • Salt and pepper

Accidental Locavore Rice for BakingRice and Assembly

  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 10 mint sprigs
  • 8 ounces feta, sliced 1/4 “ thick

Relish: Preheat the oven to 350°. Toast the nuts on a baking sheet, tossing once, until golden brown, about 5-8 minutes. Let cool then coarsely chop. Turn the oven up to 450°.

In a medium bowl, toss all the relish ingredients to combine. Check seasonings and add salt and pepper as needed.

Accidental Locavore Baked Rice With MintRice: Combine rice, butter and salt in a 13×9” baking dish, add 3 ½ cups of water. Top with mint sprigs. Cover tightly with foil and bake for about 30-35 minutes until rice is tender and water is absorbed. Remove from oven, remove mint sprigs and fluff rice with a fork.

Heat broiler. Arrange feta over the rice. Broil until the rice is browned around the edges and the feta is starting to brown, 8-10 minutes. Top with pomegranate relish, serve and enjoy!

Baked Rice With FetaMy verdict: Possibly one of the best rice dishes ever! I divided the recipe in half and still made a pretty big dish of it, easily enough for 4 people, so you might want to do the same unless you’re having a party. Pine nuts substituted for the walnuts and I toasted them in a frying pan on top of the stove, a microwave will work too. Just keep an eye on them, they go from barely toasted to burnt in an instant. Frank doesn’t like pomegranate seeds (and we didn’t have any) so I made it without them. However, if you don’t have pomegranate molasses, forget this recipe until you get some, it’s really key (and here’s the link to a great salad dressing with it)!

Having some really good basmati rice from Kalustyan’s and (not that I’m bragging) some homemade feta also contributed to this being a great dish and well worth heating the oven!

 

 

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Farm-to-Table: What Does It Mean?

by Anne Maxfield on June 6, 2016

Accidental Locavore Flock of SheepWhen you hear the term farm-to-table what comes to mind? A bucolic farm somewhere in the countryside, with humanely raised animals and Instagram-worthy red barns? Farmers in denim overalls sending perfect food to a local restaurant, just like the first episode of Portlandia? Yeah, me too.

Maybe we’d be better calling it fresh off the (local) farm.

Here’s why: I recently got an invite from a Meetup group to an Alaskan King Crab dinner at a local restaurant. Nothing terribly out of the ordinary but…the restaurant is called Farm to Table Bistro and the closest body of water is the Hudson River (not exactly King Crab territory).

When I mentioned the irony of that to Frank, he said “it doesn’t say where the farm is.” Chalk one up for Frank.

Then isn’t everything we eat (with the exception of some seafood) actually farm-to-table? Or more properly, farms-to-tables? Even though you may picture chefs making the rounds of local farms and farmers’ markets, picking up the best of the best, the reality for most people is that the food we’re being served in restaurants could be coming from anywhere.

Alaskan King Crab has to be one of the most dubious farm-to-table foods because so far, farming king crab has had little success. Not to mention that quite a bit of it comes not from Alaska but from that place Sarah Palin can see from her house.

I don’t mean to single out Farm to Table Bistro, they’re supposed to have great food and if it wasn’t a bit of a schlep we’d have been there by now – just pointing out the irony of a restaurant whose homepage declares “The word ‘local’ gets thrown out there very often without any concept of what it really means. For instance, we shake hands every Tuesday with the man who makes our fresh hot dogs (Peter’s Meat Market), we drink espresso corretto with one of the local farmers we use for produce (Taliaferro’s Farm) and we are only a hop-skip away from one of the best cheese makers in the area with whom we are proud to purchase many of our cheeses from (Sprout Creek Farm).”

Then click to the events page – Alaskan King Crab Night, every Thursday…

Accidental Locavore Blue Bowl With TomatoesLet’s enjoy our crab legs and realize that not everything has to be or can be local and fresh. Do search it out when it is – and delight in succulent June strawberries from a local farm and perfect heirloom tomatoes in August from down the road. But if it starts to get too precious, just remember that Portlandia episode!

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How to Make Preserved Lemons: Two Ways

by Anne Maxfield on June 2, 2016

Accidental Locavore Preserved Lemons Two Ways“If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” If you’ve looked at the June issue of Food & Wine you might think the new saying should be, “If life gives you lemons, preserve them.”

So if life dropped hundreds of lemons into your yard, what would you make? Once when the Accidental Locavore was out in Palm Springs, a huge branch, full of lemons, from the backyard tree landed on the patio. We picked two big shopping bags of lemons before the branch got cut down, but what to do with them?

Accidental Locavore Lemons in a BagI tossed a few in my carry-on and brought them home, originally thinking of making lemon curd. After meeting Paula Wolfort and reading The Food of Morocco, I decided to go the full-on preserved lemon route. It’s super-simple, you just need to have time to let them develop.

Traditional

  • 5 lemons, scrubbed and dried
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • ½ cup lemon juice

Soften the lemons by rolling them back and forth. Quarter them from the tops to within ¼” of their bottoms. Sprinkle salt on the exposed flesh and reshape the lemons. Pack them into a glass jar, pushing them down and adding more salt between the layers. Top off with the lemon juice, but leave some air space before sealing the jar.

Accidental Locavore Two Jars of Preserved LemonsKeep the lemons in a warm place for 30 days, occasionally turning the jar upside down to redistribute the lemon juice and salt. If necessary, add more lemon juice to keep the lemons covered. They’ll keep for a year in the refrigerator. Rinse before using, serve and enjoy!

I always have a jar of the traditional ones in my fridge and since they were running low, I bought a bunch of regular lemons, ready to go for the 30 days until the roasted (2.0) recipe crossed my path. Since I had a batch of apricots dehydrating in the oven, tossing the lemons in only made sense.

2.0

  • 3 lemons, scrubbed and dried
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 200°. Slice the lemons lengthwise into 6 wedges per lemon. In an 8” ovenproof baking dish, toss the lemons with the salt. Add the lemon juice and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for about 3 hours until the peels are tender. Cool before using.

Accidental Locavore Preserved Lemons SaltedMy verdict: Remember that either way, you need a few extra lemons for the juice. If you have access to Meyer lemons, both recipes recommend that you use them. Being on the wrong coast…The traditional ones have had about six months in the fridge and are exactly what you would think of as a preserved lemon with that slightly funky taste and still good citrus. The 2.0 roasted ones were very different—much fresher and more like a straight-up lemon. It will be interesting to see how they develop. My real verdict is that if you’re not sure if you’ll like them, or don’t have 30 days, go for the roasted ones (you might even try tossing the dish onto the corner of a slow grill), but you can always buy a lot of lemons and try both! If you want suggestions for using them, check out the June Food & Wine, or finely chop the rind and use it in salad dressing or try them in anything savory in place of (or in addition to) regular lemons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Accidental Locavore Grilled RomaineStart your summer grilling off in a great way! This is an easy Caesar salad, made better by a few minutes on the grill and has become part of the Accidental Locavore’s summer repertoire. This is really easy and if you want to make it even easier, you can use your favorite bottled dressing (but don’t, the dressing is easy and super-delicious!). This started out from a recipe in the NY Times, but then I skipped half the steps…

  • 3 anchovies
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 egg yolk (I used a jumbo egg, if you have smaller ones, you might want 2)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup olive oil (use a good quality oil)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, quartered the long way and gently washed
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Light the grill.

In the work bowl of a small food processor (I use a Cuisinart mini-chopper) put the mustard, egg yolk, garlic, anchovies, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. Process until smooth. Add a few tablespoons of the oil and process until well combined. Add the rest of the oil, again processing until smooth. You want it to be the consistency of a thin mayonnaise. Taste and add salt and pepper and more oil if necessary.

With a pastry brush, brush the romaine quarters with the dressing on all sides, making sure to get it between the leaves. Lightly grill the lettuce on all sides, about 15 seconds on the back (leaf side) and 20-25 seconds on each side, until it starts to brown. Brush with the remaining dressing, sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese, cover and grill for about 30 seconds until the cheese has started to melt (you want to cook the leafy side (the back) a little less than the sides, so that when you put the cheese on to melt you’re not burning it). Serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Spotted RomaineMy verdict: this was a surprising hit! Recently, there have been lots of recipes for grilling salad, but I was a little skeptical…who needs to cook lettuce, when it’s so good cold and crispy? We made this for friends for dinner and it was so good, we went back out, bought more romaine and made it the next day for lunch. There is something so good about the warm, almost charred outsides and the cool, crispy interior. Definitely worth a try! Surprisingly, for someone who doesn’t like anchovies, I usually find myself adding more to the dressing. You could toss on some croutons, but you probably won’t miss them. Also, now that we make this a lot, we generally just sprinkle the Parmesan on top when we serve it.

 

 

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