It seems like a couple of good recipes are in order, what with the holiday coming up next week. Of course we have a lot of great items for Thanksgiving dinners. You can see below to find out just what we have that can make terrific side dishes. Roasted chunks of sweet potato, winter squash, carrots, onions, garlic and celery come to mind. Sprouts and Kaleidoscope greens may be steamed, roasted or saut�ed.
Carrots in reduced Apple Cider is an old favorite and takes very little work; just a bit of attention to prevent burning. Start with a cup or so of our cider in a slope sided frying pan, to speed the reduction, perhaps a 10 to 12 inch one depending on how much you intend to make. Simmer the cider until reduced by about half. Add scrubbed, but unpeeled, whole carrots, perhaps a pound, and slowly cook for about ten more minutes until the cider has formed a syrup and coated the carrots. I add some butter towards the end, but that is unnecessary, just a Thanksgiving indulgence on my part. Leaving the carrots whole is an instruction from Jo Robinson, to derive maximum nutrition, but it is, of course, optional. Go ahead and make rounds; what you do in the privacy of your own home is your business!
Cream of Celery Soup
A great starter, or just a wonderful winter comfort food is Cream of Celery Soup. Many of you will recall my mentions of a dear customer, Domenica Marchetti, who has a terrific Cooking Blog, Domenica Cooks, and as you will see has also written many cookbooks on various, mostly Italian recipes. In the last couple of months she has used numerous Twin Springs items, and has mentioned purchasing them from us at Mt. Vernon. I'm going to link to the various recipes as all would be suitable for Thanksgiving.
Her Cream of Celery Soup, or Vellutata di Sedano is really quite simple and requires only:
2 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced (Hey use one of our Candy Onions)
1 medium carrot, cut into rounds (Yup, you can get this from Twin Springs)
1 medium Vivaldi potato, diced (Domenica calls for a small russet, but hey!)
1 bunch Twin Springs "real" Celery, chopped, including some of the tops and leaves
1 tsp. fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
About 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth, more if necessary
1/4 cup of mascarpone cheese or heavy cream
1 Tbs. minced flat-leaf parsley, plus a few leaves for garnish (fresh Parsley at "Twin Springs Own Markets)
Celery leaves for garnish
Optional bread croutons
In a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, melt the butter in the oil over medium heat. Lower the heat to med-low and stir in the onion, carrot and potato. Cook for about 15 minutes, until the onion is translucent and the carrot is bright orange.
Add the celery to the pot, along with 1/2 cup water. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook without browning (reduce heat to low if necessary) until all the vegetables are tender, 40 to 50 minutes. Pour in 1 cup of broth, cover, and continue to cook for another 10 minutes. All the vegetables must be soft. Poke a few of the
larger pieces with a fork to make sure. Remove from the heat.
Use an immersion blender or a standard blender to puree the vegetables, adding more broth as necessary. Return the pot to the heat and stir in the mascarpone or cream. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and add more broth if you like to thin out the soup. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt or pepper. Sprinkle in the parsley and remove from the heat.
To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with parsley and celery leaves. Top with croutons.
For Domenica's simple instructions on making croutons at home just click on the above link to the recipe; you'll find it at the end of the recipe.
I also want to comment that I find an immersion blender to be one of the most valuable tools in my kitchen. Lyn's not real keen on certain textures, as with sweet peppers and onions. When I make tomato sauce I always use unpeeled tomatoes and peppers, for the sake of all those nutrients found at or just below the skin.
I've taken to roasting Twin Springs' onions, peppers, garlic and tomatoes on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper until everything is browned to some extent. I combine all in a large pot and cook it down at a low simmer for a couple of hours, after which I use the immersion blender to achieve a perfect sauce texture, without wasting anything in the way of nutrients. All the flavor and nutrients are present, just not pieces of peel or chunks of pepper and onion. I also add some "Umami" ingredients like a couple of Tbs. of tomato paste and a touch of anchovy paste. Finish off with local Hot Italian Sausage, from a market vendor like Forest Pritchard, fried separately till very browned (the sausage, not Forest), deglazing the pan with some leftover red wine and you have a fantastic - all local - dinner. All of you who canned or froze our tomatoes can make sauces with what you preserved; but then I suspect that you already knew that.
Being as this is an apple intensive time of year I'd be amiss if I didn't mention Jo Robinson's instructions, from her nutrition book I've quoted from many times, Eating on the Wild Side, for using a food processor or perhaps an immersion blender. She recommends only coring apples for anything from cobblers and pies to sauce or apple butter. Simply save the peels you create, perhaps with one of those inexpensive and very effective apple peelers/corers you find online or at kitchen stores, to then be incorporated back into the recipe.
On page 230 she has a recipe for Apple Crisp With Apple Skins; the portion of the recipe dealing with the skin reads:
"Combine 1 cup of the sliced apples, the apple skins, the honey, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg in the bowl of a food processor. Process on high speed until the skins are finely chopped, about 3 minutes..." (I know, its a long time, wear hearing protection if you have a noisy processor.)
Here is what she says about the peel of an apple, on page 228:
"The skin is only a small portion of the whole fruit, but it is densely packed with nutrients. An unpeeled apple can give you 50 percent more phytonutrients than a peeled apple. Th might also lower your risk of cancer. In an animal experiment, extracts from peeled apples inhibited the growth of human cancer cells by 14%, but extracts from unpeeled apples blocked the growth by 45%.
Domenica's Cake Domenica also has a recipe for Italian Apple Cake, which sounds like a terrific holiday dessert. I'm sure you could adapt the above instructions, about using the peel, to her recipe. In the write-up to the actual recipe she also kindly mentions Twin Springs as the source for her apples, recommending SunCrisp, Honeycrisp and Golden Delicious. Now that GoldRush is available I'm going to recommend that you try that variety instead.
Domenica's Pumpkin Pie Recipe
Once again Domenica has written a recipe, Pumpkin Pie with Mascarpone, which includes a Twin Spring's item; this time it is our fantastic winter squash. I quote:
"Technically, this is a winter squash pie. I almost always use roasted winter squash in place of canned (or fresh) pumpkin puree, which tends to be watery and has less flavor than squash. My favorite squashes for baking are red kuri, kabocha and buttercup. I get them at the Twin Springs Fruit Farm stall at my local farmers' market. They all have orange flesh that is dense, sweet and smooth. To roast, cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Rub a little vegetable oil on the cut side and place the halves, cut-side-down, on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast at 375 degrees F. for 45 to 60 minutes, until the squash is completely tender."
These instructions are almost exactly how I tell customers to prepare any of our squash, my only variation is to leave the seeds in until roasting is complete, and to remove them when cool, at which time they can be separated from the pulp which holds them so tightly when raw; they may be roasted to munch on while you're cooking. Click on the above link to access her complete recipe.