November 14 weekly menu | fall table

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Farm Fresh

beets, brussels sprouts, carrots, fennel, garlic, leeks, radicchio, winter squash

What’s for Dinner?

I’m using much of my farm produce this week in a Russian winter feast. It’ll feature cooking with fresh root vegetables, so plentiful in the Russian land and culture, as well as some quick pickling, a nod to the food preservation so key in the harsh, cold winters. The dinner week surrounding this lavish and ludicrous spread will be understated and fairly effortless, moving into those hearty winter salads, that at my house, often stand as the main event.

Friday - pizza, TV trays, & movie

pizza with leeks, sundried tomatoes, and goat cheese (Bon Appetit)

Saturday – wintry russian comfort

zakuski:

vodka
pickled carrots, parsnips, and fennel (Putting Up with Erin, Food 52)
vegetarian perozhki (Moosewood Restaurant)
mushroom zakuski (The Splendid Table)
veggie crudités with pot cheese (The Splended Table)
warm waxy potatoes with russian caviar
horseradish deviled eggs with caviar (ButteryBooks)

georgian white wine
borscht (Simply Recipes)
rye bread (Fressen Bakery)

chicken kiev (Natasha’s Kitchen)
vinegret salad (Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking, Anya Von Bremzen)

apple sharlotka (Deb Perelman, The Smitten Kitchen)
creme fraiche whipped cream (Chow)
russian royal tea

Sunday - leftovers, zakuski style

russian mini-feast, whatever’s left

Monday - feelin’ clammy

gourmet greens & radicchio salad
linguine with clams (New Seasons Market)

Tuesday - fall-toush

fall-toush salad (Deb Perleman, The Smitten Kitchen)
pitas & dips

Wednesday – another doozy salad

farro, radicchio, & roasted beet salad (Bon Appetit)
roasted chicken

Thursday – sammie night

caramelized fennel, chicken, & cheddar panini (Huffington Post)
roasted delicata squash rings (Culinary Society)

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Friday - pizza, TV trays, & movie

pizza with leeks, sundried tomatoes, and goat cheese (Bon Appetit)

This couldn’t-be-simpler pizza with caramelized leeks and goat cheese looks like a perfect ending to the week. Substituting sun dried tomatoes for fresh is the name of the game in these cold autumn and IMG_1084winter months. Double this recipe if you’re making more than one pizza. A sausage sampling could be just the thing to add to the toppings bar! I’ll use my tried and true New Basics crust recipe – see Pizza Night, or make it ultra-simple by picking up pre-made dough from any number of markets or pizza restaurants.

Other pizza combinations:

pizza bianca with goat cheese & chard
zucchini, sliced tomato, & leek pizza 
grilled pizza with kale, mushroom, & sausage
fresh ricotta and red onion pizza
sweet onion pizza
pizza with grilled fennel and parmesan
eggplant & tomato pizza
caramelized onion, kale, & corn flatbread
classic margherita pizza
potato & rosemary pizza
pizza with red and yellow peppers
fennel sausage & onion pizza 
roasted red potato pizza with taleggio, roasted leeks & pancetta
pizza bianca with goat cheese & chard 

Saturday – wintry russian comfort

zakuski:

vodka
pickled carrots, parsnips, and fennel (Putting Up with ErinFood 52)
vegetarian perozhki (Moosewood Restaurant)
mushroom zakuski (The Splendid Table)
veggie crudités with pot cheese (The Splended Table)
warm waxy potatoes with russian caviar
horseradish deviled eggs with caviar (ButteryBooks)

georgian white wine
borscht (Simply Recipes)
rye bread (Fressen Bakery)

chicken kiev (Natasha’s Kitchen)
vinegret salad (Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking, Anya Von Bremzen)

apple sharlotka (Deb Perelman, The Smitten Kitchen)
creme fraiche whipped cream (Chow)
russian royal tea

Winter let us know it was on its way this past week, in a less than subtle way. What perfect timing, then, to be honoring and celebrating the belly-warming winter food traditions of Russia. All you need is some notably chilly weather, a table-ful of hearty winter vegetables, and a few friends willing to frolic in foodie lunacy. Oh, and some Russian vodka. One line from pre-feast reading stands out: “A typical Russian meal leaves you very satisfied, drunk, and often unable to move.” Yikes.

We’ll begin with the zakuski spread, where the table is absolutely packed with mini Russian treats. Tradition allows that as you welcome guests in from the frigid cold, you offer them a warming shot of vodka, quickly followed by a bite of zakuski. Pickled tidbits galore, an array of smoked fish and caviar, and tangy root vegetable salads. The more the merrier, with shots of vodka betwixt and between. The zakuski table reflects the larger food story of Russia, where they pickle nearly everything in order to keep produce alive during the long winter months. Zakuski offerings also often showcase a favorite Russian condiment – mayonnaise – in dishes such as Deviled Eggs with Caviar, and Herring Under a Fur Coat (we drew the line here!). There’s also warm zakuski, with offerings such as perozhki and potatoes.

We’ll cover it all, and here’s my chance to be a pickler. One look in my fridge, and I quickly identified the candidates: carrots, parsnips, and fennel. It’s a simple process of preparing the veggies (peeling, chopping, etc.), packing them into a jar, and pouring a hot pickling liquid over the top. All that’s needed is a few pantry stables and some readily availably herbs, spices, and seeds. Within a few short hours, they’ll go from mundane to magnificent. I also jumped at the perozhki assignment…those delightful, little baked buns, filled with lots of varieties of meat, fish, or veggies. This Moosewood Restaurant take on traditional perozhkis is right up my alley – super simple pastry dough, and veggie-centric. Here, Katzen makes them meal-sized instead of minuscule, but just adjust the size according to your fancy. I’ll use my potatoes, leeks (instead of onion), and chard I’ve got hanging around from last week, instead of cabbage. The assembly looks just like making calzones – roll out a little circle, spread the filling inside, fold & pinch closed. For that extra special golden color and sheen, brush on the simple egg wash before baking. Serve with a dollop of sour cream. The rest of the zakuski menu will be in the capable hands of others; I cannot wait to learn and partake, and try my hand at a different array of Russian tapas the next time around!

The soup course a wildcard at this point. Contenders are a rich and traditional Russian vegetable soup, solyanka, a spicy and sour meat-packed soup, or tried-and-true beet borscht. What I know is the borscht, so I’ll share it here since Sauvie Island Organics left me with a load of beets this week. It is hearty and traditional, incorporating rich beef, the resulting broth, and a number of other winter veggies. This is not a difficult soup to make, but a weekend day is perfect for slowly simmering the beef shank in the morning, then having time to give the broth a good chill. And talk about a goldmine of veggies – beets, carrots, potatoes, cabbage (or any winter green), and onion (or leeks). The fresh dill, along with a bit of red wine vinegar, gives borscht its signature flavor. Don’t forget the essential dollop of sour cream! Select a rye bread from a local bakery…those Russians like their breads dark, dense, and big on flavor.

If we were smart, we’d stop here. Who needs a “main course” after those offerings?!? But I know chicken kiev is coming, and I’ll prepare this “vinegret” Russian salad. Anyone confident enough to name her book Mastering the Art of any cooking, other than French, I needed to explore. It must indeed be the bible of Soviet cuisine. This salad is part American chop-chop style (chop everything but the kitchen sink in very small bits, toss it in a salad) and part kind of traditional potato salad, plus beets, carrots and canned peas! Sign me up, as I’ve got all of these veggies, minus the canned peas. No matter how tempted you might be to use frozen, don’t – the canned variety are apparently the secret ingredient. As for the chicken kiev, this will be a first for me. It is chicken breast that has been pounded thin, and stuffed with a “log” of cold, salted garlic butter with fresh herbs. It is breaded and fried to golden perfection, and the tell-tale sign of success is the squirting butter upon slicing into it. Get your bibs ready!

For dessert, so lucky for us Deb Perelman of The Smitten Kitchen is 1) married to a Russian, and 2) food obsessed. She’s recreated her mother-in-law’s version in this Apple Sharlotka – kind of a combination of a cake, pie, pancake, and clafoutis, and the best part is that it really couldn’t be easier. AND it’s pretty darned healthy, as cakes go. No butter, little sugar, mostly apples. I’m going for it, with whatever Gorge-grown apples catch my eye this week. You’ll also hear to it referred to as Apple Charlotte…whatever its name, it’s a rustic, homey dessert anyone would be delighted to share in. One Russian cookbook author officially named it “Guest at the Doorstep Apple Charlotte”. It’s that quick. Serve it with a dollop of whipped cream, or this special occasion variety, where a little sugar and creme fraiche have been mixed in as well. Plus a pot of strong Russian tea. This one sits atop my counter, with the Czar Nicholas II following my every move and the fragrance inhabiting my kitchen. They drink it strong and straight, presumably not in a shot glass.

Sunday – leftovers, zakuski style

russian mini-feast, whatever’s left

Enough preparation, enough cooking, enough time in the kitchen. Here is the bonus of an over-the-top gourmet gathering…the night after. Even if you’ve only made a smattering of the potential offerings, chances are good no one could get through all of it. Put your feet up and enjoy! I for one firmly believe a delicious dinner can be made with a wide selection of pickled vegetables and some rye bread. And this is a worst case scenario.

Monday - feelin’ clammy

gourmet greens & radicchio salad
linguine with clams (New Seasons Market)

I’m back in our part of the world, cooking-wise, come the start of the week. We only have to reach as far as the bays of Washington state for some local and fresh clams. I get so honed in on my veggies that sometimes I forget the simple requests. For weeks, my son has been asking for “clam pasta”. Not difficult – you’d think I could’ve pulled this together by now. It wasn’t until I was perusing the New Seasons Market weekly flyer that I saw these northwest clams featured, along with a recipe for a linguine with clams that seems straight-forward with genuine Italian flair. I’ll add a salad of my gourmet greens, as well as some thinly sliced chicory, for a basic and authentic side. My dressing will be equal parts olive oil and a good quality red wine vinegar, as well as a dash of sugar, just to give the bitter radicchio less of a bite.

Tuesday – fall-toush

fall-toush salad (Deb Perleman, The Smitten Kitchen)
pitas & dips

Forget summer’s quintessential fattoush salad – the classic Levantine pita bread salad, generally made with height-of-summer produce. Everything in it is fresh, crisp, and bright…tomatoes, cucumbers, mint, lemon, etc. Fast forward to autumn, and Deb’s come up with a play on this for the darker, chillier months. My favorite thing about it, I must admit, is that it qualifies as one of those all-in-one-bowl meals. It’s hearty, uses our deep-into-fall veggies, but reminds us still of those traces of summer, with its hints of citrus and fresh herbs. As the recipe states, if you don’t have the amazing smokey, citrusy sumac spice, don’t sweat it – she suggests a substitution. I, however, was using (and loving!) it more and more, so eventually ordered it online after numerous attempts to find it locally. Well worth it! I’m going to double this recipe, knowing it’s our main deal for dinner. Not only do I have my delicatas, I’ve also somehow got a butternut still around. Take your pick of winter squash – just know the delicatas win every time in the “ease” category. No peeling required! With two giant baking sheets, I see no reason not to roast the squash and the brussels sprouts at the same time, just removing the sprouts first. And given he weeknight nature of this recipe, I’m very inclined to buy a bag of pita chips, crumbling them and mixing them into the salad along with the dressing. I will, however, make a stop at World Foods to pick up some of their freshly made pitas, hummus, and babaganoush. (Come to think of it, this is where sumac might very well be found.) If someone at the table were inclined to think the fall-toush salad doesn’t make a “meal”, I guarantee you’ll hear no complaining after you set the just-from-the-oven pitas and creamy homemade Mediterranean spreads out as well. A perfect combination!

Wednesday - another doozy salad

farro, radicchio, & roasted beet salad (Bon Appetit)
roasted chicken

Here’s another potential one-bowl dinner. Farro’s a nutritional dynamo; cooked, and combined with wholesome and tasty pre-roasted beets and thinly sliced radicchio, this could easily stand on it’s own for a meal. The simple garlicky dressing is added when the farro is warm, allowing the flavors to soak in especially nicely. With some thick slices of lightly oiled and salted bakery bread, you could call it a day here. But a made-by-someone else roasted chicken would also be a nice accompaniment, and will be key in our sammie night endeavors tomorrow.

Thursday – sammie night

caramelized fennel, chicken, & cheddar panini (Huffington Post)

Straight from last week, substituting fennel for onion. Hey, when something works, and you remember it, do it again! Slice some chicken leftover from last night, sauté some thinly sliced fennel until soft and golden, and add your choice of cheese. Cheddar would be fabulous with the fennel, and adding some thinly sliced apple would put it over the top. Choose your favorite sturdy bread, brush the outside with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, and go to town in a good old-fashioned cast iron skillet (or whatever pan you like!) cooking up paninis for all.

“What the Kale?!?”

Don’t panic and get out the compost bin if all of the sudden you have a giant veggie delivery coming your way, and you still have a fridge full.  Here are a few suggestions for preserving the bounty!  (Soups and stews freeze wonderfully in those gallon zip lock freezer bags.)

table lessons

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Urban Farm Table

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Epicurious.com: New Recipes

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101 Cookbooks

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Cook With What You Have

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Sauvie Island Organics Farm Blog

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Simply Recipes

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America's Test Kitchen

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smitten kitchen

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