Spring-Dug Leeks

There’s nothing like going out to the garden after a serious winter when the only thing to harvest from the garden is dreams of vegetables yet-to-be-grown and pulling leeks long buried in a mountain of straw.  Satisfaction supreme.SpringDugLeeks3

These sweet babies just had to become soup.  Adding the last of the sweet potatoes from the root cellar, a few white beans leftover from another meal and dinner was born.SpringDugLeeks2Sweet Potato and White Bean Soup with Leeks
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups leeks, diced and washed; about 2 leeks
4 cups sweet potatoes, diced; about 2 sweet potatoes
3 tablespoons garlic, minced; about 3 cloves
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2, 15-ounce cans cannellini beans
1 pork hock
1/2 cup sherry (or more to taste at the end)
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 head escarole, chopped into bite-sized pieces and washed
2 tablespoons tamari (or more)

Heat a medium stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the oil and leeks and sauté until the leeks are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add sweet potatoes, salt and pepper and sauté for another 5 minutes. Make a small space for the garlic and add it to the pan, sauteing for only 30 seconds to one minute. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the escarole, tamari and extra sherry. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until the white beans are soft. Add escarole and tamari and sherry to taste and cook for another 3-4 minutes.

Serves 6 to 8

Annie
Garden satisfied

Coastal Living’s Daily Catch!

Thank you, Betsy Cribb of Coastal Living Magazine’s Daily Catch, for a great article on the Riggin and our Maine Food Cruises.  You captured it perfectly!

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Salmon with Corn Relish and Zucchini Blossom Fritters. Photo by Elizabeth Poisson.

Annie
In the news!

 

Leaving the dock – 1st trip

Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
This photo is from a couple of years ago and of us leaving the dock for the first time that season. Won’t be long before we can do a remake of this photo!

Annie
Thinking spring

Grown-Up Tomato Basil Soup and Grilled Cheese

GrilledCheese

A few weeks ago we finally watched the movie Chef. I know many of you may have already seen it – we tend to be a little behind the curve when it comes to what’s new, which is what happens when you sail on a boat for half the year. No worries, though, by the time we get around to seeing a movie at the theater, it’s gone and another new and hot cinematic triumph is in its place. Never-the-less, we do get to the good ones eventually and Chef did not disappoint.

The food scenes were so beautifully shot and inspiring that all I wanted to do when the movie ended was don my apron, pick up my knife, and get cooking.

I think all artists of any craft, whether it’s food or fiber, wood or paint, find themselves in moments of needing to go inward to silence the competing voices, no matter if it’s for a moment or a year.  In those moments, I find I must simply breathe, relax and trust that this gift of mine for creating food will again flow freely and with joy.  And it does.  Always.  When creativity begins to flow again, it’s the sweetest of places.

As I watched “Chef” and reveled in the crispy crust and gooey, dripping, melting cheese of a grilled cheese sandwich that he makes for his son, I thought of how evocative the simplest of meals are. How the simplest things sometimes require attention to detail to make them great. The bread was a brioche or a beautiful sourdough, buttered liberally all the way to the edges. The several different kinds of cheese were layered thickly. The heat was low enough to allow the cheese to melt all the way through and the bread to brown into crispy perfect.

And then I NEEDED to make grilled cheese.  Right then.

And what goes better with grilled cheese than tomato soup – making us happy for something warm to wrap our hands around.

The quality of the tomatoes in this recipe matter a good deal as they are the centerpiece. If you have home-canned tomatoes, this is the place to use them. If you have frozen whole tomatoes, this is the place to use them (skins removed). If not, good-quality canned tomato like San Marzanos are lovely and work perfectly well. Don’t attempt to use fresh tomatoes this time of year, not worth the cost or effort.

Grown-Up Tomato Basil Soup and Grilled Cheese
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups diced onions; about 1 large onion
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Several grinds of fresh black pepper
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons minced garlic; about 6 cloves
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken broth
6 cups whole or quartered tomatoes

Garnish:
1 cup minced scallions
1/2 cup crème fraiche

Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for 7 to 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add the salt, black pepper, basil, paprika, garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes or so, stirring frequently. Add the flour and stir until well incorporated. Add the white wine and chicken broth and again stir well. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. For grownups, garnish with scallions and crème fraiche.

Serves 4 to 6

Grilled Cheese
1 stick salted butter, softened
8 slices peasant bread or sourdough bread
8 ounces sliced extra sharp cheddar cheese Cabot or other good quality cheddar
4 ounces sliced Monterey Jack cheese
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Heat a large griddle over medium-low heat. Meanwhile, butter 1 side of each of the slices of bread. Make sure the butter reaches all of the edges. Place 4 slices on the griddle, butter-side down and place the cheese slices on top, dividing evenly. Top with the second slice of bread, butter-side up.

Grill for 4 to 6 minutes each side or until the bread is golden brown and crispy and the cheese is completely melted and gooey in the center. Remove from griddle and slice in half. Serve with Dijon mustard.

Serves 4

Annie
Creative and happy

Knitting a Baa-ble Hat

If you read last Friday’s post, then you know that somewhere in there, Chloe had to have a handmade knit item from me as well.  Don’t worry, fair is fair, and hers came in the middle of the two sets of socks knit for Ella.

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Chloe’s hat, called the Baa-ble Hat because it has the most adorable sheep on it, was made with Quince and Co yarn purchased at our LYS, Over the Rainbow Yarn.  Mim Bird, proprietor and knitter extraordinaire, is also the instructor of our June 8-11, Sheep to Shawl Maine Knitting Cruise, where we’ll get to see yarn from beginning to end.  Beginning at Bittersweet Heritage Farm, we’ll see sheep shorn (That was fun to write!).  We’ll then gather back at the Riggin for 4 days of spinning with Heather Kinne of Highland Handmades and knitting with Mim of the above-mentioned Over the Rainbow Yarn.

Back to the hat at hand, this super fun pattern was made with Quince and Co colors – Birds Egg; Split Pea; and Bark.  (The white we already had on hand.)  The pattern calls for the sheep feet and noses to be black, but we found that color to be way too stark with the rest of the palette.  Even though the pattern is actually, at times, a four-color pattern, I found it to be really easy and approachable.

Annie
Knitting is what Maine winters are for

Pan-seared Cauliflower with Kale Pesto

While initially I created this dish as a side to some sort of healthy protein, the more I snacked on it (while plating it up), the more I decided that this could be the highlight of a meal.  Served over polenta or quinoa and with a salad, I’d be a happy camper.  Only those major meat-lovers would be sad to not have their mainstay.  The rest of us, though?  Yum.

RoastedCauliflowerKalePesto2

RoastedCauliflowerKalePesto1

Pan-seared Cauliflower with Kale Pesto
Did you know that the green leaves on the bottom of the cauliflower heads are edible? Use them for kimchi, a small slaw, garnish or in a stir-fry. Think about them as you would cabbage.

1 head cauliflower
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Several grinds of fresh black pepper
2 anchovies, minced
1/2 cup kale pesto
2 tablespoons pine nuts

Remove the green leaves from the cauliflower. Make slices 3/4-inch thick beginning at one end as you would bread. When you reach the core, turn the flat side down and repeat until you have cut all four sides. Discard the harder and more fibrous core.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Add the cauliflower, salt and pepper and cover with a lid. Check often to stir and reduce heat to medium if the pieces begin to darken too much. Break any large pieces with a wooden spoon. When the cauliflower begins to soften, about 10 minutes, add the anchovies and mix in well. Add the kale pesto, mix well and transfer to a bowl or platter. Sprinkle with the pine nuts and serve.

Serves 4 to 6

BabyKalePesto

Kale Pesto
This pesto is slightly milder than the perfumy basil variety, with a minor bitter note. It’s a star in our house and is used in soups, pastas, sandwiches and pizzas – all the ways you would consider for a traditional pesto. Also, if you have someone with a pinenut allergy, sunflower seeds are an excellent substitute.

8 ounces kale leaves, stems removed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Several grinds of fresh black pepper
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese; about 1/2 cup
1/4 cup pine nuts
3 teaspoons minced garlic; about 3 cloves

Combine all ingredients in a food processer. Freeze what you won’t use within a few days.

Makes 2 cups

Annie
Lovin’ my veggies