December 19 weekly menu | winter table

Farm Fresh

beets, cabbage, carrots, collard greens, kale, leeks, mushrooms, parsnips, potatoes, winter squash, turnips

What’s for Dinner?

Wow! That’s quite a list. I’m a bit wary of where to even begin. The logical place is mid-week, around the time Santa should be arriving. These are not full (over) blown food fests for me, like Thanksgiving tends to be. Instead I look forward to the days as the culmination of lots and lots of preparation and work; everyone deserves to put their feet up, listen to some Christmas music, and eat with divine simplicity. Of course, my farm fresh veggies fit right into this mantra. Potatoes in a rustic clam chowder, beets in a special occasion salad, and many others in a festive but undemanding brunch. Here we are, entering official winter in the Northwest, and my box presents me with eleven types of veggies. The highlight for me being my first freshly foraged shitake mushrooms…onto a pizza they go, a fine way to kick off this winter break and holiday week.

Friday – TV trays, christmas movie, & pizza 

sausage, leek, & shitake pizza (Bon Appetit)

Saturday – remembering Judy Rodgers

Zuni café bread salad over kale (Deb Perelman, Smitten Kitchen)
roast chicken

Sunday  – a louisiana classic

red beans and rice (+ collards) (Rosso & Lukins, The New Basics)

Monday – instant defrost

slow cooked (cheesy) carrot potato soup (Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures)
baguette

Tuesday – santa claus is coming, to town

clam chowder (Cook’s Illustrated, The New Best Recipe)
crusty rolls

Wednesday – cake-for-breakfast + crab fest

brunch:
winter fruit salad
christmas morning breakfast bake (Martha Stewart)
berry coffee cake (Food.com)

dinner:
salad with beets, crispy shallots, & roquefort (CI, The New Best Recipe)
cracked Dungeness crab + melted butter
baguette

Thursday – the cleanse, my style

delicata squash soup (A Chow Life)
cabbage salad with apples & pecans (Bon Appetit)


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Friday –  TV trays, christmas movie, & pizza

sausage, leek, & shitake pizza (Bon Appetit)

IMG_1084

My first mushroom delivery of the season…I can think of no better place for them than atop a homemade pizza! Skip the fussy crust steps in this recipe. A quality store-bought or lightening quick homemade dough is all that’s needed as a base. After the pizza’s topped, you could certainly brush the exposed crust with EVOO, along with a sprinkling of salt & red pepper flakes. For the toppings, choose your favorite sausage, brown it up, then briefly sauté the mushrooms. I’ll add a sliced leek in here too, replacing the red onion in this recipe. Betwixt and between all of this holiday madness, and the hoity toity food that often comes along with it, it’s great to claim a Friday night with the relaxation of a favorite seasonal movie and a good old fashioned sausage and mushroom pizza! Forget the chardonnay or merlot…it’s a beer night for sure!

Other pizza combinations:

winter squash and wild mushroom 
leek, crimini mushroom, and prosciutto
portabella mushroom & roasted red pepper
shitake mushroom
leek, sundried tomato, and goat cheese
caramelized leek, mushroom and Italian sausage pizza
pizza with kale raab, leeks, and olives 
pizza with fennel sausage, braising greens and rosemary
dandelion greens, Italian sausage, and fontina cheese pizza
spinach and chive pizza
grilled pizza with kale, mushroom, & sausage
shaved asparagus & parmesan pizza
leek, chard, & corn flatbread
pizza with green garlic & arugula
pizza bianca with goat cheese & chard
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
caramelized fennel, onion, and sweet pepper pizza 
pizza with red and yellow peppers
kale, sundried tomato, & feta pizza
ricotta and gremolata pizza
parsley pesto & potato pizza 
roasted red potato pizza with taleggio, roasted leeks & pancetta
roasted acorn squash & gorgonzola pizza 
winter squash pizza 
butternut squash and caramelized onion galette

Saturday – remembering Judy Rodgers

Zuni café bread salad over kale (Deb Perleman, Smitten Kitchen) roast chicken

Judy Rodgers, of the iconic Zuni cafe in San Francisco, died recently. She, along with the giant brick oven she insisted upon installing after taking over the restaurant, were highly influential in the formation of an entire food genre –  California Cuisine, with its new devotion to local, seasonal ingredients. Her style was rustic and homey, yet simultaneously refined and urbane. Her roast chicken with bread salad is simply legendary. While I adore her ambition and perfectionism (“Stop, think, there must be a harder way.”), I have never quite mustered the time, energy, or ambition to complete her roast chicken recipe…all five, text-dense pages worth. Zuni describes the salad as:  “Sort of a scrappy extramural stuffing, it is a warm mix of crispy, tender, and chewy chunks of bread, a little slivered garlic and scallion, a scatter of currants and pine nuts, and a handful of greens, all moistened with vinaigrette and chicken drippings.” Deb Perelman has adapted (and abbreviated) the recipe; I’m going to trim it even further, focusing my energies on just the salad part. I’ll leave the roasting of the chicken to someone else, knowing full well there’s no measuring up. While my purchased pre-roasted chicken is warming in the oven, I’ll be using farm fresh kale to make my own rendition of the bread salad in her signature dish. I’m going with the option of putting the bread salad briefly into the oven, to make it perfectly warm and crispy in all the right places, before tossing it with my greens. Since I’m using kale and not the called for arugula or mustard greens, I may make a bit of extra dressing and pre-dress the shredded kale, just to make sure it gets coated and tender. I have no false hopes of recreating her masterpiece; I’m just looking for a dinner that reminds us, even in some small way, of her vast influence on our culinary world as we know it today.

Sunday – a louisiana classic

red beans and rice (+ collards) (Rosso & Lukins, The New Basics)

I often go with my first inclination or vision when I’m individually unpacking my veggies from the box. What jumped to my mind when I saw the collards was Southern fare, or better yet, New Orleans fare. Red beans and rice just had to be made. Not that red beans and rice includes collard greens, but it’s those associations that pull together a full-fledged meal. This version from The New Basics is a family favorite; adding the collard greens is a delicious way to get a little taste of New Orleans during a decidedly non-Mardi Gras season. (If you’re a purist, and like to keep things separate, just make a quick side of sauteed collard greens – works the same as the chard in this Bon Appetit recipe.) I make it all one big happy marriage, preparing it a little differently than the recipe suggests. I would sauté the onion (I’ll use leeks), garlic and bacon together in a little olive oil first, then add a head of chopped collards just until they soften a bit. Proceed with the rest of the recipe, adding the liquids, bringing to a boil, and baking. The quick version would be to use canned beans (2 cans) and just simmer on the stovetop until the flavors meld and it is the consistency you want. Any way you go, it’s sure to get us in the mood for some of those March mardis gras celebrations that’ll be here before you know it.

Monday –  instant defrost

slow cooked (cheesy) carrot potato soup (Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures)
baguette

We’re keeping our fingers crossed for mountain snow…hoping to kick off the holiday break on the slopes! And what better way to arrive home than with a warm soup already prepared. This recipe is literally six items (three from my farm!) thrown into a slow cooker in the morning, and like magic, dinner is ready when you walk in the door. Depending on the size of your gathering, you may consider doubling this recipe. I’ll chop up the parsnips and turnips I received this week, and toss them in the pot with the carrots too. I’m going to use a few leeks instead of the onion (think creamy potato leek soup + carrots+CHEESE!). Immersion blend it right in the crock pot, add the cheese (Tillamook extra sharp or Beecher’s flagship cheddar would make excellent choices), and you’re done. Except for an essential toppings bar to suit your crowd – crispy bacon pieces, sliced green onions, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, garlic croutons, whatever sounds good! I’ll warm a baguette for a perfect soft, chewy dipper into the warm, cheesy, soup. This and a hot tub…defrost complete!

Tuesday – santa claus is coming, to town

clam chowder (Cook’s Illustrated, The New Best Recipe)
crusty rolls

For all the food fuss I go to on Thanksgiving, for some reason Christmas plays out differently. I think it has everything to do with sheer exhaustion, and wanting more than anything to just enjoy the moments. I feel done with the kitchen, done with being on my feet, done with the grocery store, just done with busy work in general. We don’t have fast and firm traditions for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day meals. We try to shake it up a little each year,to get a bit of what everyone wants, and to keep it as uncomplicated as we can. We go to an annual open house on this day, in the late afternoon/early evening time frame. I’m not a bit ashamed to say that I can often be heard whispering to my kids, “Eat up…this is your dinner!”. Well, we usually have a little something, later into that evening that seems to go on forever. This year I’ll credit my husband for coming up with that magical dinner. While we were brainstorming, my requirements were “simple but special occasion”. He nailed it with homemade clam chowder. I do love the idea of a festive soup on this night – made ahead of time, served with warm bread and butter, and celebrating the bounty of the amazing place in which we live. Anything becomes special occasion with bacon…this chowder’s got it! And I’m thrilled that in addition to 7 pounds of Northwest clams, it calls for lots of my farm fresh potatoes. In keeping with the off-my-feet spirit, I’m buying pre-shucked and chopped clams from New Seasons. The actual CI recipe in their book calls for 7 pounds of hard shell-clams! Conversions of clams in the shell to clams out vary widely; I’m going to stand at the fish counter and see how it looks as he’s scooping them in the container, keeping in mind the called for 6 cups of liquid (combo of clam juice, milk/cream, and could add white wine…) in the soup. With a sampling of sparkling wines, lots of the requisite oyster crackers, and plates of Christmas cookies scattered about, this hits “simple but special occasion” on the head for us.

Wednesday – cake-for-breakfast + crab fest

brunch:
winter fruit salad
christmas morning breakfast bake (Martha Stewart)
berry coffee cake (Food.com)

dinner:
salad with beets, crispy shallots, & roquefort (CI, The New Best Recipe)
cracked Dungeness crab + melted butter
baguette

I love a breakfast strata for these brunch celebrations. Assemble it the night before, let it sit and soak and meld flavors overnight, and the morning is simple – just throw it in the oven to bake. Stratas are the perfect opportunity to be creative (and use what you have!). Bread, milk, and eggs are the base, but then just add whatever strikes your fancy. In this one, I’ll use my leeks and a bunch of kale. You could easily do bacon or sausage instead of canadian bacon – just brown it first in a skillet, then remove it while you cook the leeks & garlic in the butter. I’m going to keep the bacon party going! While the strata is baking, I’ll grab the kids to help me whip up this quick & easy coffee cake. Takes just 20 minutes to put together, and, as coffee cakes go, this one is not completely over the top butter and sugar wise. We love to break out some of the Oregon marion berries we picked over the summer and froze for just such occasion. If you don’t have a frozen stash, head to the freezer section of your market – berries o’ plenty! They’ll add some vibrant holiday color, as well as some natural sweetness. Forget the whole cooling part – deliver it steaming from the oven and dig in! I’ll do a quick northwest winter fruit salad, complements of Hood River Organic who delivers me beautiful, crisp apples and pears all winter long. And no better time to break out the pomegranate, whose seeds mix gorgeously in with whatever fruit you serve. A perfectly lovely and stress free Christmas brunch with a seasonal veggie strata as the centerpiece. And cake-for-breakfast?!? The day was made for that!

The one tradition that my husband and I both brought to our family was that of eating cracked Dungeness crab on Christmas. We both have done this as long as we can remember. It falls nicely within my no fuss, but festive and special occasion guidelines. And it’s from our own local ocean! What I do know is I’m keeping my fingers closely on the fresh crab pulse this year. Last year I was surprised on Christmas Eve when I went to purchase my crab, only to be denied at at least ten different markets. On a tip, I ended up in front of the giant aquariums at Uwajimaya, waiting in a big, long line, watching those live crabs being plucked out much too quickly. Luckily, I snagged what I needed and returned home a hero, only after paying way too much, and waiting again for those gems to be cooked. No way was I going home with a wriggling crustacean in my backseat. I don’t think the season is as dicey as last year, but I’ll still be watching and reserving my order well ahead of time. We do what could truly be called a “crab feast”. I order one crab per person, no matter what the size. I pile the cracked crab pieces high on a platter in the center of the table, and give each person their own crab “tools” and a personal candle-lit butter warmer. On one end of the table is a basket of warm bread. And on the other end is a festive holiday salad. My beet delivery is perfect, as I often make this Cook’s Illustrated salad (which, by the way, is listed in their “special occasion salad” section…) at Christmas. It’s green, it’s red, the crispy fried shallots are an unexpected and fabulous crunch, and I get to choose a favorite Rogue River Creamery blue to mix in. I don’t want to be roasting beets on Christmas, so I’ll be sure to have them cooked and sliced ahead of time. This is a dinner fit for a king, in my opinion. But if not for a king, certainly for those over-tired parents, after weeks of hustle-and-bustle, possibly a Christmas Eve near-all-nighter, and a present-opening and wrapping paper pick-up session that usually lasts the better part of a day!

 Thursday – the cleanse, my style

delicata squash soup (A Chow Life)
cabbage salad with apples & pecans (Bon Appetit)

I’ve never been interested in any of those “cleanses”, where you eat nothing, or maybe just special concoction fruit or veggie smoothies, for days on end. I will admit, however, come the day after Christmas, I usually feel ready to abandon the heavy, rich gruyere & cream, bacon & beef, and pies & yule logs. (Although I believe every last bite of the eggnog cream pie that is rumored to be in attendance at one holiday gathering will be worth it!) The delicata squash soup recipe I inherited from my sister-in-law, who swears by its rich faux creaminess; it has zero cream and just a touch of butter. Just what I’m looking for as a post-holiday re-entry! A small crumbling of blue cheese provides the magic! I’ll serve this cabbage apple salad, using just my darling little savoy cabbages, Hood River apples, dried Vincent Family cranberries, and some chopped Albina Brothers sweet & salty hazelnuts This dinner is a cleanse I can live with!

“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.)

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