Next Thursday, people around the country will gather with friends and family with one goal in mind - EAT! Tables will overflow with casserole dishes, trays of meat, pies, cakes and so much more.
For us, it all starts in the garden. I've compiled a few farm inspired dishes below that I hope you will consider adding to your table this holiday. CSA members can find many of the ingredients in their boxes this past week or next, and produce will be available at The Market at Pepper Place and Tuscaloosa River Market on Saturday morning.
A Note on our Recipes:
David and I both love to cook. It is one of our main motivations for growing vegetables. However, we are not recipe writers. Please view the following as rough templates and make them your own.
Salad Greens with Persimmon and Blue Cheese
You can use any salad greens you'd like in this salad. I love the sharp flavor of frisee and treviso, mixed with lettuce.
1/2 pound of salad greens (chopped treviso, frisee, lettuce, arugula, kale, or any other greens you would like)
1 to 2 persimmons
blue cheese to taste
Garlic-Lemon Dressing (recipe follows)
Toss the salad greens with the dressing and top with slices of fresh persimmon and crumbled blue cheese.
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of lemon juice, or a combination of lemon juice and your vinegar of juice
1 cup olive oil
A couple of pinches of salt, to taste
We always put dressing ingredients into a half-pint mason jar with a lid and shake to combine.
Fennel and Greens Dressing
1 bunch of cooking greens (collards, kale, chard, or any other), stems removed and leaves cut in chiffonade
2 medium or 4 small green bell-type peppers, deseeded and cut into dice
1 medium onion, cut into dice
4 to 6 small fennel bulbs, or 2 to 3 large, fronds removed, stems cut into ¼-inch rounds and bulb sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Herbs of choice, I used a ¼ teaspoon dried savory from the garden
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups broth
6 cups croutons
Cut bread into 1-inch cubes and toss with olive oil and salt.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
While the croutons are baking, cook the vegetables, starting with the onions, peppers, and fennel stems.
After about 10 minutes, add the fennel bulbs and garlic. When you can smell the garlic, add the greens and cook until tender.
In a large bowl, combine the croutons, vegetables, and herbs then add salt to taste and stir. Add the broth and mix again.
Put all of this into a baking dish and bake covered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake another 10 minutes.
Aromatic Rice Stuffed Pumpkins
You can adapt this recipe to the number of people you would like to serve. Our Seminole Pie Pumpkins could serve 2 to 4, depending on the number of other dishes being served.
Cut a circle in the top of the pumpkins and scoop out the seeds.
Add a ½-inch of water to the bottom of the pumpkins and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour.
While the pumpkins bake, make the aromatic rice - be sure to substitute the dried turmeric for fresh!
When the pumpkins are soft, pull them out of the oven.
When they are cool enough to handle, fill them with the aromatic rice and bake for another 10 minutes.
Top with cilantro and toasted pine nuts.
Smashed Sweets with Toasted Pecans
Our sweet potatoes need nothing more than butter and salt! I add the pecans for a bit of texture.
Bake sweet potatoes on 425 degrees for about 1 hour, until soft and fragrant.
Allow to cool and remove skins, placing the sweet potato into a large bowl.
Add butter and salt to taste and smash.
Place this mixture in a baking dish.
Top with slightly candied pecans (toasted in a skillet with butter, a sprinkle of sugar, and a pinch of cinnamon until aromatic).
Bake again for 5 to 10 minutes.
This cake is SO delicious! It tastes like gingerbread cookies, but has the airy-ness of cake. It is the perfect combination of salty and sweet.
Fresh Ginger and Molasses Cake
From Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat
Makes two 9-inch cakes
1 cup thinly sliced fresh ginger
1 cup sugar
1 cup neutral-tasting oil
1 cup molasses
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt or 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup boiling water
2 large eggs at room temperature
2 cups Vanilla Cream (recipe below)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Set a rack in the upper third of the oven. Grease two 9-inch cake pans, then line with parchment paper. Grease and sprinkle generously with flour, tap out the excess, and set aside.
Puree the fresh ginger and sugar together in a food processor or blender until completely smooth, about 4 minutes. Pour the mixture into a medium bowl and add the oil and molasses. Whisk to combine and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, pepper, salt, and baking soda, then sift into a large bowl. Set aside.
Whisk the boiling water into the sugar-oil mixture until evenly combined.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and gradually whisk in the water-oil mixture until incorporated. Gradually whisk in the eggs and stir until smooth. The batter will be thin.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Drop the pan onto the counter from a height of 3 inches a couple of times to release any air bubbles that may have formed.
Bake in the upper third of the oven for 38 to 40 minutes, until the cakes spring back from the touch and just pull away from the edges of the pan. An inserted toothpick should come out clean.
Cool the cakes completely on a wire rack before unmolding them from the pan and peeling off the parchment paper.
To serve, place one layer down on a cake plate. Spread 1 cup Vanilla Cream in the center of the cake and gently place the second layer atop it. Spread the remaining cream onto the center of the top layer and chill for up to 2 hours before serving.
Alternatively, top with cream cheese frosting, serve with ice cream, or simply dust cakes with powdered sugar. The batter also makes for fantastic cupcakes!
Tightly wrapped, this cake will keep for 4 days at room temperature, or for 2 months in the freezer.
Makes about 2 cups
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
1 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar
Scraped seeds from ¼ vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chill a large, deep metal bowl (or the bowl of your standing mixer) and the whisk (or whisk attachment) in the freezer for at least 20 minutes before you begin. When the bowl is chilled, prepare the cream with the vanilla seeds or extract, then add the sugar.
I prefer to whip cream by hand because it gives me more control, so I’m less likely to overwhip it and end up with butter. If you’d like to use a mixer, run it at a low speed. Whisk until the first soft peaks appear. If using a machine, switch to a handheld whisk and continue to whisk until all the liquid cream has been incorporated and the texture of the cream is uniformly soft and billowy. Taste and adjust sweetness and vanilla as desired. Keep chilled until serving.
Cover and refrigerate leftovers for up to 2 days. Use a whisk to bring deflated cream back to soft peaks as needed.
NEWS FROM THE BEND
From planting time to the growing and harvesting seasons,