Recipes for the Shrewsbury Farmer’s Market

Too, too hot today at the Market – a hazy, stifling, humid day, close to triple digits in temperature. Small crowds as a result, but we were there, sweltering and sharing some recipes that we like to make when the summer fruits begins to overwhelm the kitchen.

Grilled-PeachesPeaches. First up: a panzanella salad. Bread salads may seem odd, but it’s a great way to use up leftover bread. Panzanella is a Tuscan specialty, made with juicy, ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, and stale peasant bread. We like to make it with grilled peaches, fresh mint, and stale cornbread, a more Americanized version. And for those no-gluten types, it’s a snap with an all-cornmeal bread. This salad is always well-received – someone said it looked like stuffing. I’m assuming she meant turkey stuffing and not pillow stuffing, but whatever.

Cornbread Panzanella Salad with Grilled Peaches
(4-6 servings)

1/4 Cup white wine vinegar
2-4 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint or basil
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1 Tablespoons olive oil
4 large ripe peaches, halved and pitted
3 small shallots, halved
1 Cup grape tomatoes, halved
8” square day-old cornbread, cut into 12 pieces
10-15 fresh mint leaves, chopped

Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings. Set aside.

Preheat the grill or grill pan to MEDIUM-HIGH. Brush the peaches and shallots with oil; arrange cut-side down on on the grill and cook, flipping once, until nicely charred and softened. Transfer to a cutting board. and dice.

Mix the peaches, shallots, and tomatoes in a bowl with the cornbread. Just before serving, drizzle the cornbread mixture with vinaigrette and mint. Taste and adjust seasoning. Toss gently and serve.

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BublaninaBlueberries. Also cramming the refrigerator are pints and pints of blueberries. There are only so many smoothies, cartons of yogurt, and bowls of cereal to put them on; the last time I opened the freezer, an avalanche of berries came crashing down on me. Time to bake! Going Bohemian, I decided on a bublanina – an eastern European “bubble” cake of blueberries, perfect with coffee as it is not too sweet.

Blueberry Bublanina
(9 servings)

1 stick butter, softened
1 Cup sugar
1 Cup flour
2 Tablespoons orange juice
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon salt
3-4 Cups blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8″ or 9″ square pan with cooking spray.

Cream butter and sugar; add egg yolks and blend. Stir in orange juice and vanilla.

Whip eggs whites in a separate bowl to stiff, shiny peaks; fold in the flour and salt, then fold this mixture into butter mixture. Spread in prepared pan.

Top with berries; press the berries lightly into the mixture. Bake for 35-20 minutes. Cool and serve with powdered sugar.

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Zucchini. Oh, the zucchini. Wheelbarrows full of zucchini – too many of them, and they get larger and larger and larger every week. In desperation, I grilled some, threw them in the processor with yogurt, fresh oregano, lemon, and a drop of olive oil. Voy-la! An almost-fat-free dip for croo-da-tay, as the French say.

photoGrilled Zuccchini-Yogurt Dip
(4-6 servings)

1 large zucchini, sliced lengthwise into wedges
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 Cup plain Greek yogurt
2 Tablespoons fresh oregano, roughly chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the grill or grill pan to MEDIUM-HIGH. Toss the zucchini with the oil and place on the grill. Cook for about 5 minutes, turning once, until both sides are nicely browned. Remove from heat and cool.

Transfer the zucchini to the food processor. Add oregano and lemon zest, and yogurt. Pulse until pureed. You may want to add additional water to thin to desired consistency. Taste for salt and pepper. Spread dip onto a serving plate, drizzle with a little olive oil. Serve with crackers, pita, or veggies.

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No, we don’t get any ginger from our CSA. But because it was such a hot day, we stirred up a batch of hay switchell. This is one of those old-fashioned things that must occasionally be resurrected if only for the fun of it. Back in the day, buckets of this drink would be mixed up and served to farmers and workers in the field. Cold water can cause stomach cramps when you’re overheated; the ginger and vinegar in this drink “warm” the stomach and allow you drink without fear of adverse effects. (For more on this history of switchels, check out this article in The American Table.) We make ours with honey and ginger. Reactions to it were mixed – one four-year old chugged a cupful, making the grimmest face ever, but he finished every drop, eyes watering. What a trooper!


Hay Switchell
(1 quart)

1/3 to 1/2 Cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 Cup honey
1 Tablespoons ground ginger
4 Cups water

Mix all the ingredients together; taste and adjust the sweetness. Chill and serve to hot, sweaty people at the farmer’s market.





Putting the “Crack” in Crackers

RitzRitz versus Saltines?

Or is there really even a comparison?

Ritz are those elegant, round buttery bites of class; they’re deserving of top-quality cheeses and special occasion dips. They are classic and timeless, like a little black dress. I’ve never met a person who doesn’t love a Ritz cracker and don’t want to.

SaltinesThen there is the other classic cracker we all know and love: saltines. Square and salty and reminiscent of most everybody’s childhood, the ultimate soup cracker. Not as classy as the Ritz, they’re homier and are best with things like cheddar cheese, tuna salad, and, of course, peanut butter.

Round and buttery or square and salty? They’re both irresistible; I could eat a whole sleeve of either right now. It doesn’t really matter which box ends up in the shopping car: there is a place in the pantry for both!

Here are two easy recipes that use both crackers. There’s nothing better than buttery Ritz crackers for a crunchy topping, so this recipe needs to be committed to memory. The other is a fun thing, something we used to call “Camper’s Crackers” because you could make them up, put them in a backpack, and start hiking, the agitation of your gait contributing to the recipe. Enjoy!

Ritz Cracker Topping
(1-1/4 Cups)

35 Ritz crackers (that’s one “sleeve”)
¼ Cup melted butter
Dash of seasoned salt

Put the crackers in a ziploc bag and crush them with a rolling pin – they should look like coarse breadcrumbs. Transfer to a bowl. Pour in the melted butter and seasoned salt. Toss well.

Use to top fish fillets before baking or as a topping for casseroles like macaroni and cheese.

Backpack Crackers
(4 servings)

35 Saltines (that’s one “sleeve”)
1/4 Cup canola oil
2 Tablespoons ranch dressing mix (your own or storebought)
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Place the saltines in a big ziploc bag. Whisk the oil, ranch dressing, and pepper flakes in a bowl. Pour over the crackers and seal the bag. Shake the bag well – but not so aggressively that you break the crackers! Let the bag on the counter and give it a good shake several times over the next day. After 24 hours, the cracker will have absorbed all the oil and ranch goodness.


Roasted Berries
So many things are arriving every week in the CSA box!

And now blueberries…can you resist them? Every time I’m in grocery store or farmer’s market, I grab another box – before the last box is consumed. They usually go in smoothies, on cereal or yogurt, or in a muffin, if it’s not too hot to bake. But there are always more! Here are some ideas for using them that go beyond the ordinary (I’ll address that zucchini at another time!):

1. Freeze ’em. Spread them on a rimmed baking sheet and freeze until solid. Transfer to ziploc bags. Best used in their frozen state, without thawing, for pancakes and muffins, smoothies, or as a snack right out of the bag!
2. Smoke ’em: Toss a pint of blueberries with a dash of olive oil, a splash of lemon juice, and 1/2 Cup brown sugar. Spread in a foil pan and place in your smoker. Smoke for about 30-35 minutes. Serve on a cheese platter or use for a BBQ sauce.
3. Roast ’em. Toss 2 Cups of berries with 1 T. lemon juice. Spread on a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Into the oven at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Excellent with ricotta or yogurt.
4. Dress ’em. Make a blueberry vinaigrette of 1 Cup berries, 2/3 Cup of oil, 1/3 Cup balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste; throw it all in a blender until smooth. Use on tossed salad.
5. Sour ’em. Whisk 1/2 Cup white wine vinegar, 1/4 Cup sugar, and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Add 2 Cups of blueberries and small, sliced shallot. Cover and refrigerate overnight before using.

Hamburger Buns for Carb-Lovers

BunzAre you gluten-free? Not eating carbs? This post is not for you: you can stop reading now.

Okay, now that all those guys have left the room, we carb-puppies can salivate over this photo – can’t you almost smell them? Store-bought hamburger buns are usually what I call “flabby” – cottony, tasteless, and weird. These are easy to make if in your trusty food processor. The trick is not to have your liquids too hot or too cold – you want them in that middle place where they’re neither – about 5-7 seconds in the microwave will do it, if you’re in a hurry.

Yes, they involve a little time commitment. Yes, you can add sugar, milk, and butter to white flour in their list of crimes. But, really, if you’re going to go through the trouble of making your own hamburgers (pre-made patties be damned!), then go all the way and bake up some love. You can eat salad and quinoa tomorrow. And if some super-thin person makes some snide remark, just tell them:

Bread Body
Hamburger Buns
(8-10 buns)

3-1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
¼ Cup tepid water
¾ Cup tepid milk
1 large egg
2 Tablespoons canola oil or melted butter

In the food processor, pulse flour, salt, sugar, and yeast to mix.

In a large glass measuring cup, stir together milk, water, egg, and oil/butter. With the machine running, pour liquids through feed tube. Run machine until mixture forms a ball.

Stop machine; let the dough rest in the bowl of the food processor for 5 minutes. Then, run the machine for 30 seconds.

Turn dough onto the counter; knead briefly and form into a ball.  Spray bowl with oil, place ball in bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Deflate the dough gently. Use a sharp knife to divide into 8-10 pieces (weighing about 2 ounces each, if you like using your scale). Form into rolls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet (slightly pressing them flat). Cover with oiled cling wrap; let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400OF. Brush buns with a little egg wash – bake for 10-12 minutes.

Farmer’s Market Radish Butter

radish butterThanks to everyone who stop by our stand at Shrewsbury Farmer’s Market today, to chat and sample. CU will be back on July 15.

This week, we passed out nibbles of our radish butter on stone-ground crackers. There were so many requests for the recipe, I’ve posted it here. If you think you don’t like radishes, please try this. There’s nothing in the world like butter and radishes! It’s a great spread for crackers and baquettes, but try it as a sandwich spread!

Radish Butter in Endive
(3/4 Cup)

1/2 pound red radishes, trimmed
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground white pepper
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (we used dill!)

Put the radishes in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the radishes are finely diced.

Transfer the radishes to a clean dishtowel; wrap them up and wring out the excess liquid. Transfer the radishes to a medium bowl and add the butter.

With a rubber spatula, cream the radish and butter together until smooth. Add the lemon juice, salt, pepper, and herbs. Taste it and adjust the seasonings; you may want more lemon juice or salt or herbs. Refrigerate until firm enough to spread.



At Shrewsbury Farmer’s Market

GGCU was invited to participate in the Shrewsbury Farmer’s Market this year and we are excited about it! We’ll be there every other Wednesday this summer.

Today is the first day for us, so if you have a chance, swing by. Suzanne and I are making some goodies from our CSA share. We’re members of the inaugural Chestnut Hill Farms CSA this year, located right here in Southborough. We have some beautiful Napa cabbage, salad turnips, Tuscan kale, French radishes, and lots and lots and lots of herbs to work with – we’re all about the herbs!

Since the greens are so nice, we’ll prepare a salad – with one of our favorite dressings. Green Goddess dressing is one of the best ways we know of to use an abundance of herbs from the garden.

Green Goddess Dip
(8 servings)

1/2 Cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley
3 Tablespoons roughly chopped fresh chives
1 Tablespoon roughly chopped fresh tarragon
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons anchovy paste
1 small garlic clove, peeled and sliced
8 ounces (1 Cup) plain Greek yogurt

In a blender or food processor, combine the parsley, chives, tarragon, white wine vinegar, lemon zest, lemon juice, anchovy paste, garlic, and yogurt. Pulse until the mixture is completely smooth and all the ingredients are pureed. It should be thick, but you can thin it with a little water if you like.

Cover and chill until ready to use.


Welcome Back, Cheeseball

Orb of Deliciousness

Growing up in the ‘70’s, the height of cocktail party cuisine was the port wine cheeseball. You remember it: that funky orange and burgundy ball of processed cheese, rolled in chopped nuts. No party was complete until it made its appearance, ringed with Ritz crackers – Ritz was the only appropriate cracker.

But then came a new era of fresher, lighter party fare: salsa, guacamole, hummus, and every possible version of spinach and artichoke dip imaginable. So long cheeseball; it’s last sighting was probably 1983. Read more

Pizza Now

How lazy can you get? In the home kitchen, you would be astounded. Is there a daily chore out there that has more people searching for shortcuts than cooking? Hence all the kitchen gadgets that make zillions for cookware stores. Pizza scissors? Electric spaghetti twirling fork? Avocado reamer?

You’re muttering “food snob” under your breath, aren’t you? I am, but that’s beside the point. Shortcuts are great, but only if the final result is as good as going the long way around – and doesn’t involve the purchase of yet another “time-saving” device or packaged food product. And while anyone who holds down a job has my respect, I really don’t want to be on a first-name basis with my pizza delivery person. That’s not snobbery – that’s pathetic. Read more

Ma! Meatloaf!

Ever see the comedy Wedding Crashers? At one point, Will Ferrell’ s character, Chaz – a wild-eyed Hugh Hefner manqué, complete with maroon silk dressing gown – offers his morning visitor meatloaf. Now, the standard offer to a casual acquaintance would be coffee or a Coke, maybe even a beer. But meatloaf? It’s amusing but, really, it’s genius: who doesn’t want a slice of meatloaf, anytime of day?

Why don’t I make this loaf of meat more often? It’s universally loved at our house, especially leftover and cold in a sandwich or (be still my heart) a meatloaf taco. It’s rare sighting is probably due to an effort to limit our red meat intake. Now, I’ve made bison meatloaf that’s very good but very pricey (two pounds of bison costs about $25). No, I’m not going to make a ground turkey meatloaf: it’s gotta beef or nothing. Meatloaf is macho; poultryloaf is twee. Read more

Balti House Takeaway

Spicy Coconut Balti Shrimp

What is “balti”? Well, beyond being a type of curry, there doesn’t seem to be mush agreement. Some people think Balti cuisine derives from the wok-like skillet used to prepare these curries (sometimes the food is also served in the pan). Others trace its origins to Baltistan, a part of Pakistan that borders China, where a cast-iron two-handled wok is used to prepare many dishes.

I like to teach Indian food newbies the joys of using a wok for making curries (it’s also for preparing chile, soup, and deep-frying). The high heat and sloped sides make it the perfect vessel for curries, which fall between soup and stew in consistency. You’ve got some real estate to work with when you use a wok!

Now, if balti food truly has it origins in the high mountains of Baltistan, then shrimp probably doesn’t appear on the menu all that often – if evah! So this recipe is a nod to the idea that Balti food is named for the pan itself, because my recipe is simply a stir-fried shrimp dish made with Indian spices.

Balti: real cuisine or just a fancy name for stir-frying? I’m agnostic on the subject, because when the food is this easy and delicious, why worry about trifles like provenance?

A few notes. Tomatos at this time of year? Ugh! I usually use a cup of halved cherry or grape tomatoes instead because they have some flavor, or a tablespoon of tomato paste in a pinch. Don’t look for unsweetened coconut in the baking section – go over to the aisle with Latin American groceries or hit the health food or whole foods store. You can adjust the heat by adding to or deleting from the number of chiles in the recipe but it should sear your mouth.

Balti Prawns in Spicy Coconut Sauce
(4 servings)

2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, sliced
4 dried whole red chilies OR 2 teaspoons crushed red chile flakes
3 garlic cloves, sliced
3 Tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
1 Tablespoon shredded fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tomatoes, diced
1/3 Cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 Tablespoon lime juice
Fresh cilantro and additional shredded ginger, for garnish

Heat the oil in a wok or skillet over MEDIUM-HIGH heat. Stir in the onion; lower the heat a bit and cook until the onion is lightly brown.

Add the chilies, garlic, coconut, and coriander and stir for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, water, salt, and sugar. Simmer until thickened.

Stir in the shrimp and the lime juice. Simmer on LOW for 3-4 minutes or until shrimp are just cooked through.

Garnish with cilantro and shredded ginger.