"Be not an abomination to the Bees and Butterflies and then your garden shall know the enchantment

Friday, January 1, 2016

Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto w/Shitake Mushroom & Leeks

 A favorite here at Two Crones Farm, the butternut squash is an easy to grow, trellis vine that produces an abundance of fruit with fairly minimal water requirements; a gardener's trifecta as well as a chef's delight!

I began with a craving for a savory baked rice casserole that would give us a few meals for the busy week ahead.   Capay Valley's Farm Fresh To You CSA box had arrived full of fresh, organic veges that incorporated nicely into the recipe below.  For those of you that tried FFTY in the past, I'm happy to say that their quality has greatly improved and the new customization feature is nice, too.  We get out delivery first thing Thursday mornings & we add other options from our local farmer's market.

Chef Shel's Tip:  Use the freshest ingredients of the highest quality that you can afford.  The flavors and nutritional boost you get from good soil is worth the effort.

Roasted Butternut Risotto w/Shitake Mushroom & Leeks
Serves 4 Main Dish, 6-8 Side Dish
Prep Time:  20 minutes    Cook Time:  30 Minutes

3 cups Butternut Squash, cubed
1 cup water
2 cups fat-free, low sodium stock (chicken or vegetable)
1 Tbls Fresh Sage or 1 teas. Dry Rubbed Sage
1 lg Leek, well rinsed and finely chopped
4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teas. Olive Oil
1 cup Arborio rice (or other short grain rice)
1/2 cup dry white wine, (yes, use the good stuff!)
1 bunch Red Chard, evenly chopped (any hardy greens will work)
10-12 medium Shitake Mushrooms, rough chopped
1 teas Fresh Oregano, finely chopped
1 teas Fresh Thyme, finely chopped
1/4 teas Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 teas Kosher Salt
1/4 teas fresh Ground Peppercorn
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese (optional)
Sprigs of fresh Thyme (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350F

2.  Place squash in oven to bake 30 minutes or until fork tender; cool.  Peel, deseed, remove membrane and cube, set aside.  Increase oven to 400F.

3.  Add water, broth and sage to medium saucepan, (do not boil).  Heat 1 teas Olive Oil in large oven safe skillet, add leeks; saute for 5 minutes.  Add 1/2 garlic; saute 2 minutes.  Add rice; saute 1 minute.  Add cubed squash, broth mixture, wine, mushrooms, herbs and salt/pepper.  Stir to blend all ingredients; simmer 5 minutes.

4.  Place skillet in oven, uncovered, for 15 minutes.  Check and stir gently, bake for additional 10-15 minutes or until liquid is fully absorbed by rice. Risotto should retain a nice dome shape but not be sticky.

5.  While risotto is baking, add olive oil to medium saute pan on medium-high heat.  Add chard, leeks, & red pepper flakes; saute for 2-3 minutes.  Add a little more wine, cover, lower heat to low allowing greens to steam for 3-4 minutes more or until tender.  Salt & pepper to taste.

6.  Remove risotto from oven.  On a warm plate or serving bowl put a layer of greens down as base for risotto.  Add a serving of risotto onto greens, sprinkle grated parmesan and dress with sprig of thyme.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Unripened Tomatoes On Your Vines?

You planted and nurtured the tomato vines all summer and still have green fruit that won't ripen.  So now what?  With the weird weather patterns that we've had this year, our vines haven't been as productive.  It finally got cold and so we've pulled off all the green tomatoes - mostly romas but a whole bunch of cherry and grape tomatoes, too - because obviously they were never going to get ripe.

Thakali Masiyal (Green Tomato and Lentil Stew)
5 cups water
3/4 cup dry toor dal (yellow split peas)*
4 heaping cups of chopped green and pink tomatoes (about 2.5 pounds, I think - I don't have a scale; chopped into 1/2" dice) – I used half green and half that were pinkish and not fully ripe)
1-2 small green chilies, ribs and seeds removed and chopped - add at least one, and add the second to taste
1 cup water
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon tamarind paste*
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sambar powder*, optional
*all of these ingredients are available at Indian grocery stores; good supermarkets (such as Whole Foods) will probably have the Tamcon tamarind paste and the dal.
  1. In a large stockpot, bring the 5 cups of water to a boil. Add the toor dal and turn heat down to medium-high. Cook uncovered until the dal is tender and starting to fall apart, about 30-35 minutes.
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes and chilies and water and cook covered for 10 minutes on medium heat.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and cover the pot, leaving the lid slightly ajar. Cook for another 20-30 minutes – the tomatoes should be very soft and falling apart, and the mixture should be thick and brownish/red and have reduced by about 1/3.
  4. Mix with basmati rice (about 2/3 cup dry rice will make enough cooked rice to go along with this recipe) and serve with papad.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Cajun Shrimp Boil - A Feast Fit For A Queen

A Feast Fit For A Queen
Well California Dungeness Crab Lovers we're in a big pickle since the season has been denied!  What's a cook to do?  Pull out the



November Harvest of the Month - Persimmons

Persimmon is one of my favorite colors, I've used persimmons to decorate the Thanksgiving table.
Everything about this recipe is lovely, simple, and delicious. The mild ricotta and tangy chèvre balance each other out nicely and create this amazing pillow atop the crunchy bread, buoying the flavors of the persimmon, hazelnut, and rosemary. The warm honey and sprinkle of sea salt holds it all together. I wanted to eat all of them myself!

Serves 4
  • 4 Ripe but not too ripe Fuyu persimmons
  • 1/2cup fresh tangy goat cheese (at room temperature)
  • 1/2cup fresh ricotta
  • 1/4cup light colored honey (not buckwheat)
  • 8 Slices crusty country bread
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4cup toasted hazelnuts (or pistachios), coarsely chopped
  • Coarse ground black pepper
  • Flaky sea salt
  • 1tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary (or mint if using pistachios)
  • 1tablespoon lemon zest (Meyer, if you have it)
  • 1tablespoon lemon juice (Meyer if you have it)
  1. Brush bread with olive oil on both sides. Sprinkle with salt & pepper, and bake at 375°F until crisp and lightly browned.
  2. Cut the persimmons into 8 lovely juicy orange petals. Remove seeds and peel (I use a paring knife), and sprinkle with a bit of lemon juice.
  3. Whisk together ricotta, goat cheese, lemon juice, lemon zest and rosemary.
  4. Dollop cheese mixture on warm toasts. Lay 4-6 slices of persimmon on each toast, and sprinkle with coarse pepper and sea salt flakes.
  5. Heat honey gently.
  6. Drizzle with warm honey and sprinkle with toasted Hazelnuts. Garnish with rosemary sprigs.
  • This recipe is a Community Pick!
  • This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Persimmons
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    Sunday, May 3, 2015

    Quinoa 7 Ways

    Quinoa is one of the most versatile ingredients I've come to adore. My first encounter with quinoa patties was in Heidi Swanson's book, Super Natural Everday. Awesome cookbook, and I love her blog as well.

    Quinoa (/ˈknwɑː/, from Quechua kinwa or kinuwa ) is a species of the goosefoot genus (Chenopodium quinoa), a grain crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal, as it is not a member of the true grass family. As a chenopod, quinoa is closely related to species such as beetroots, spinach and tumbleweeds. As a member of the Amaranthaceae family, it is related to and resembles amaranth, which is also a pseudocereal. It is high in protein, lacks gluten, and is tolerant of dry soil.

    Economics of Indigenous Food Production

    The popularity of quinoa grain in non-indigenous regions has raised concerns over food security. Due to continued widespread poverty in regions where it is produced and because few other crops are compatible with the soil and climate in these regions, it has been suggested that the inflated price disrupts local access to food supplies. In 2013, The Guardian compared it to asparagus cultivated in Peru, a cash crop criticized for excessive water use, as "feeding our apparently insatiable 365-day-a-year hunger for this luxury vegetable[...]" It has been suggested that, as people rise above subsistence-level income, they choose higher-status Western processed foods. However, anthropologist Pablo Laguna states that farmers are still saving a portion of the quinoa crop for their own use, and that the high prices affect nearby city dwellers more, but consumption in cities has traditionally been lower. According to Laguna, the net benefit of increased revenue for farmers outweighs the costs, saying that it is "very good news for small, indigenous farmers".
    Confetti Quinoa Salad
    The transformation from a healthy staple food for farming families and communities into a product that is held to be worth too much to keep for oneself and one's family is an ongoing process. It is seen as a valuable resource that can bring in far greater amounts of cheap, low nutrient foods such as pasta and rice. It used to be seen as a peasant food that provided farming families with a very important source of nutrition, but now occupies a spectrum from an everyday food of urban Bolivia's middle class to a luxury food in the Peruvian capital of Lima where "it sells at a higher per pound price than chicken, and four times as much as rice". Efforts are being made in some areas to distribute it more widely and ensure that farming and poorer populations have access to it and have an understanding of its nutritional importance. These include incorporating it into free school breakfasts and in government provisions distributed to pregnant and nursing women in need.

    Saponin content

    In their natural state, the seeds have a coating of bitter-tasting saponins, making them unpalatable. Most of the grain sold commercially has been processed to remove this coating. This bitterness has beneficial effects during cultivation, as it is unpopular with birds and therefore requires minimal protection. The genetic control of bitterness involves quantitative inheritance; lowering the saponin content through selective breeding to produce sweeter, more palatable varieties is complicated by about 10% cross-pollination.
    The toxicity category rating of quinoa saponins treats them as mild eye and respiratory irritants and as a low gastrointestinal irritant. The saponin is a toxic glycoside, a main contributor to its hemolytic effects when combined directly with blood cells. In South America, quinoa saponin has many uses, including as a detergent for clothing and washing and as an antiseptic for skin injuries. High levels of oxalic acid are in the leaves and stems of all species of the Chenopodium genus, and are also in the related genera of the Amaranthaceae family.  The risks associated with quinoa are minimal, provided it is properly prepared and the leaves are not eaten to excess.

    7 Quinoa Recipes

    Quinoa Onion Bites
    Quinoa Tabbouleh
    Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers
    Zesty Quinoa Salad
    Protein-Packed Spicy Vegan Quinoa
    Cilantro Lime Quinoa

    Quinoa Nutrition Facts
    Quinoa Nutrition Analysis


    Wednesday, April 29, 2015

    Cashew Basil Pesto (From: Eat Drink Better.com)

    Vegan Cashew Basil Pesto

    vegan cashew pesto

    Pesto is a tasty, versatile way to highlight the spring’s bounty of fresh herbs.

    Now that the weather’s warming up here in Atlanta, we’re seeing the first bags of herbs from our CSA share! Since it’s just my husband and me sharing the basket, it can feel a bit overwhelming to stare a giant bag of basil in the face. Pesto to the rescue! The nifty thing about pesto is that it doesn’t have to be the pine nut, basil, and cheese combo that most folks associate with the sauce. Pesto really refers to any sauce that’s a blend of nuts and herbs, so you it’s a very versatile recipe!
    Cashews are my favorite nuts to use in pesto, because they’re cheaper than pine nuts and blend up nice and creamy. Don’t have cashews? Try almonds or sunflower seeds! I’ve made some nice pesto with pumpkin seeds, too. Out of basil? Try sage, parsely or even mint! Every combination will have a bit of a different flavor, and I haven’t found a nut/seed and herb combo yet that’s failed me.

    Vegan Cashew Basil Pesto

    Prep time: 5 minutes
    Cook time: none
    Total time: 5 minutes
    Yield: 2 cups
    • 1/2 c fresh basil leaves
    • 1/2 c raw, unsalted cashews
    • 1/2 c olive oil
    • 2 T lemon juice
    • 2 cloves of garlic
    • 1/4 c nutritional yeast (optional)
    • to taste salt and pepper
    Cooking Directions
    1. Put all of the ingredients into your blender or food processor.
    2. Blend until the sauce is nice and creamy. You can use extra olive oil and lemon juice to thin things out, if you like. Just keep blending and tasting until it’s just right!
    I served this with baked pita chips for dipping, but it would also be great tossed with some cooked pasta or your favorite whole grain along with some veggies!
    Have you guys made any good, vegan pestos? Walnut and sage is another favorite combination of mine…what about you?

    Tuesday, April 28, 2015

    What is Sumac? Try Sumac Roasted Sweet Potato Farro Salad

    My first exposure to the flavor of Sumac was during our time in Iran.  The spice was added to basmati rice, adding a subtle, smoky tartness to the dish.  Sumac's tart flavor is very nice sprinkled on fish, chicken, over salad dressings, rice pilaf, or over raw onions. Try substituting in any dish on which you might squeeze fresh lemon juice. If you enjoy hummus, try topping it with a sprinkling of sumac.
    Plant Description and Cultivation
    A bushy shrub of the Anacardiaceae family, reaching to 3m (10 ft). It has light gray or reddish stems which exude a resin when cut. Young branches are hairy. The leaves are  hairy on the underside. In autumn the leaves turn to a bright red. White flowers are followed by conical clusters of fruit, each enclosed in a reddish brown hairy covering.
    Easily propagated by seed, sumac grows best in poor soils. In Sicily, where it is widely cultivated and grows wild in the mountains, its quality is found to increase proportionately the higher it is sited.

    SUMAC - Spice and beverage flavoring

    The fruits (drupes) of the genus Rhus are ground into a reddish-purple powder used as a spice in Middle Eastern cuisine to add a lemony taste to salads or meat.  In Arab cuisine, it is used as a garnish on meze dishes such as hummus and tashi is added to salads in the Levant. In Iranian (Persian and Kurdish) cuisines, sumac is added to rice or kebab. In Jordanian and Turkish cuisines, it is added to salad-servings of kebab and lahmacun. Rhus coriaria is used in the spice mixture za'atar.

    In North America, the smooth sumac (R. glabra) and the staghorn sumac (R. typhina) are sometimes used to make a beverage termed "sumac-ade", "Indian lemonade", or "rhus juice". This drink is made by soaking the drupes in cool water, rubbing them to extract the essence, straining the liquid through a cotton cloth, and sweetening it. Native Americans also use the leaves and drupes of the smooth and staghorn sumacs combined with tobacco in traditional smoking mixtures.


    Sumac-Roasted Sweet Potato and Farro Salad

    Turn potato salad into a main meal with this sumac-roasted sweet potato and farro salad bulked up with kale, ricotta salata, mint, hazelnuts, and pickled onions.
    Yield: 2-3 servings
    • ¾ cup pearled farro
    • 1 bunch lacinato kale
    • 1 lb sweet potatoes
    • 1 red onion
    • 1 lemon
    • 3-4 mint sprigs
    • 2 oz ricotta salata
    • 3 tbsp hazelnuts
    • olive oil, for drizzling
    • 2 tsp ground sumac
    • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
    • 2 tbsp sugar
    • salt and black pepper, to taste
    1. Heat oven to 450F.
    2. Prepare the ingredients: wash and dry the fresh produce. Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling on high heat. Remove and discard the kale stems; roughly chop the leaves. Peel and large dice the sweet potatoes. Peel and thinly slice the onion. Quarter and deseed the lemon. Pick the mint leaves off the stems; discard the stems. Crumble the ricotta salata cheese. Roughly chop the hazelnuts.
    3. Roast the sweet potatoes: Place the sweet potatoes on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and the sumac. Toss to coat. Arrange in a single, even layer and roast for 23-25 minutes, or until lightly browned and tender. Remove from the oven and set aside.
    4. Cook the farro and add the kale: While the sweet potatoes roast, add the farro to the pot of boiling water. Cook for 14-16 minutes, or until tender. Remove from the heat. Drain and return to the pot. Stir in the kale and drizzle with olive oil. Stir to combine and season with salt and black pepper to taste. Set aside.
    5. Pickle the onion: While the farro cooks, in a small pan, combine the onion, vinegar, sugar, and ½ cup of water. Cook on medium heat, occasionally swirling the pan, 4-6 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid is slightly reduced. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and set aside.
    6. Make the salad: To the pot of farro and kale, add the pickled onions (draining just before adding), roasted sweet potatoes, and the juice of all 4 lemon wedges. Toss to combine. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
    7. Divide the salad between 2 dishes. Garnish with the mint, ricotta salata, and hazelnuts.
    Recipe from Blue Apron
    Nutrition Information
    Serving size: 1 bowl