Monthly Archives: September 2010

Eat Local Challenge: installment number three: cod en papillote with butter, white wine, jalapeño, and fresh herbs, served over green beans and toasted garlic smashed potatoes…

We waffled for some time about what to make for the main dish for the Eat Local Challenge. Limited in Connecticut by the choice of cooking fat made the decision all the more difficult, as we are not blessed with an olive growing climate.  However, creameries and dairy farms are abundant, and churn the sweetest butter.  I love the idea, presentation, and taste of fish en papillote, literally meaning “in parchment”, so easy especially for fish novices like ourselves. Tender goodness wrapped up in its own envelope of flavor and essence of sweet butter, wine, herbs, and the heat of a jalapeño.  Simply slice open the top of the parchment after baking,  the fish perfectly steamed, for a dramatic and rustic presentation.  The rest of the goods we were able to pick up at the farmer’s market; crunchy green beans and creamy smashed potatoes create a nice complex bight in both flavor and texture.

cod en papillote with butter, white wine, jalapeño, and fresh herbs, served over green beans and toasted garlic smashed potatoes…


2 5 oz fillets Atlantic Cod: City Fish Market/Long Island Sound

4 tbs butter: Smyth’s Trinity dairy farm: 27.02 miles

Fresh basil: own garden

4 sprigs fresh thyme: George Hall Farm: 12.03 mi

½  jalapeño (or other spicy pepper): George Hall Farm: 12.03 mi

3-4 tbs white wine (Gentle Shepard): Jerram Winery: 17.21 miles

Kosher salt

Green beans:

¼ pound green beans, cut on bias: George Hall Farm: 12.03 mi

Ice water bath

Kosher salt

Toasted garlic smashed potatoes:

10-12 fingerling potatoes (or other soft skin potatoes) potatoes: (specialty): GeoRoots Solar Growth Farm: 16.14 mi:

¼-1/2 cup heavy cream: The Farmer’s Cow Milk (6 CT family farms)

2-4 tbs butter: Smyth’s Trinity dairy farm: 27.02 miles

3 cloves garlic: George Hall Farm: 12.03 mi

Kosher salt

Recipe (serves two):


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring butter for fish to room temperature.  Mix in basil, thyme, and minced jalapeño.  Prepare four sheets of parchment paper, each approx 12”x12”.  Place one fillet of fish on a piece of parchment paper, salt both sides.  Cover top of fillet with ½ butter mixture.  Add 1-1 ½ tbs white wine over the top.  Cover fish with another piece of parchment paper, and fold in the sides making a secure envelope.  Place parchment envelopes on a baking sheet, and place in oven on middle rack.  Let cook for 13-15 minutes, until parchment paper is lightly browned and puffed up.  Serve over green beans and potatoes.

Green beans:

Fill small pot with water, and heavily salt.  Bring to boil.  Rinse green beans, and cut on bias.  Blanch in boiling water for 2-3 minutes.  Beans should still be bright green and crunchy.  Place in a bowl of ice water to shock and stop the cooking.  Serve with fish and potatoes.


Rinse potatoes.  Place in a pot of cold water.  Bring to boil.  Let cook until potatoes are fork tender. While potatoes are cooking, smash 3 large cloves of garlic. Place in 1 tbs of butter, and lightly toast, then form into paste.  Remove from pot into a large bowl.  Smash potatoes, add butter, cream, garlic, and salt.  Serve with fish and green beans.

Eat together, toast to each other, and enjoy!


grilled corn on the cob with basil, lime, and chipotle butter…

Ok. Ok.  I know I said my good byes in the last post, but this corn dish surprised us with flavor and decadence.  Very easy, quick, and the flavors land somewhere in between Malaysian and Mexican.   Simply throw the corn on the grill, this creates depth of flavor by adding a smoky note as well as developing the sugar in the corn for enhanced sweetness.  Save the husks for presentation.  Allow ½ stick of butter to come to room temperature.  Add fresh basil, zest of one lime, chipotle powder, salt, and pepper.  Mix until combined.  Add a generous amount to each corn cob while they are still warm. Then serve them up with a fresh wedge of lime…and an ice cold beer.

I served this family style, all the cobs on one plate with a large salad and a bunch of forks…clearly we’re not scared of coodies.

Eat together, toast to each other, and enjoy!

Eat Local challenge installment two: Summer squash and corn chowder…

Oh yum. Oh yum.  *Sob* *sob*, *sniff **sniff*.  This is me lamenting the waning of the summer heat and sun, and thus the sweetness of New England corn.  Funny, because in my early New England days, I was rather ambivalent about corn, take it or leave it…mostly just leaving it.  However,  a wise friend from upstate New York frankly told me, “well, you just haven’t had good corn then”…and turns out she was right.  Now, I can’t get enough over the summer, and hustle as much as I can from the local farm stands.  The smell of corn on the grill makes me want to walk around barefoot and soak up the sun with friends around the BBQ.

As part of the Eat Local Challenge I paid homage to New England corn with this soup.  Sweet and smoky, with a little tang of feta, and an essence of thyme…oh yum.

Also, no need for a roux as the starch in the corn thickens the chowder up nicely, so easy and delicious.

Summer squash and corn chowder…

2 yellow squash: George Hall Farm: 12.03 mi

2 ears corn: (blackened on grill for depth of flavor): George Hall Farm: 12.03 mi

2 shallots: George Hall Farm: 12.03 mi

1 small clove garlic: George Hall Farm: 12.03 mi

3 tbs butter: Smyth’s Trinity dairy farm: 27.02 miles

1 cup heavy Cream: The Farmer’s Cow Milk (6 CT family farms)

½ cup milk: The Farmer’s Cow Milk (6 CT family farms)

1 tsp each fresh thyme and oregano: GeoRoots Solar Growth Farm: 16.14 mi

2 oz feta: Beltane farm: 41.11 mi

kosher salt

Cook corn on the grill until lightly blackened, turning regularly. Then shave off kernels with a sharp knife.   On your stove, in a medium pot, over medium, heat melt 2 tbs butter. Add diced yellow squash, shallots, and garlic (you can substitute shallots w/ yellow onion if you cannot find shallots locally).  Season lightly with salt, cook until translucent.  Add 1 corn cob worth of kernels to the squash mixture.  Add fresh thyme and oregano.  Then puree mixture in blender until smooth.  Place pureed mixture back in pot.  Add milk, heavy cream, and rest of butter and mix well.  Add the rest of corn.  Season with salt to taste.  Garnish with feta, thyme and a couple of corn kernels. Serve hot

Eat together, toast to each other, and enjoy!

Eat Local Challenge: stacked ratatouille salad with with fresh chevre and basil…

The “locavore” movement is not new by any means, as it has been particularly active and vibrant coast to coast both in the farming community and restaurant industry for years. Restaurateurs nationwide have committed themselves to only using ingredients grown typically within a 100 mile radius of their city of residence/operation, and supporting their local farming communities. In doing so, they are also raising political awareness over manufactured and imported foods and the toll they take on the environment. There are varying degrees of orthodoxy to this movement, some chefs/cooks committing themselves to every ingredient being local, others allowing themselves the luxury of “exotic” spices and seasonings like salt and peppercorn. It really is mindful cooking at its best and seasonally delicious. San Francisco is a leader in this restaurant movement, you can find restaurants in your area that maintain this focus at some of the websites below.

These are some websites that I love and follow: (I love Heidi Swanson, her cookbook Super Natural cooking is so inspirational…and beautiful)

Bon Appétit Management Company recently challenged its readers to create a menu made completely of locally grown ingredients, with the only exception being salt.  The criteria for locally grown in this challenge being goods grown or harvested within 150 miles of your home.  So, certain ingredients in Connecticut surfaced as particularly challenging; olive oil, any grain products including bread and pasta, sugar, and citrus.  Cooking vegetarian can be particularly challenging without grain products, no pasta, no crostini, no sandwiches, paninis….aye! This challenge was really fun to do, I highly recommend giving it a go where ever you live, have fun at the farmer’s markets and local farms, or in your own garden.

Here is the first recipe of my Eat Local Challenge menu.

Stacked ratatouille salad with fresh chevre and basil

Ingredients (serves 2):

4 tomatoes: Urban Oaks farm : 9.18 mi

1 white eggplant: Shenstone Gardens :19.75 mi

1 zucchini: Roses Berry Farm: 16.63 mi

basil: own garden: 4 tbs

2 Tbs butter: Smyth’s Trinity dairy farm: 27.02 miles

1 4 oz log chevre: Beltane farm: 41.11 mi

1 clove garlic: George Hall Farm: 12.03 mi

3-4 Tbs white wine: (Gentle Shepard): Jerram Winery: 17.21 miles

kosher salt to taste

Slice eggplant and zucchini thinly and lengthwise.  Slice summer squash in to thin coins.  Place in a large bowl, and salt generously to draw the water out. Let stand for 20 minutes and then strain and rinse.  In a large saucepan, melt 1 Tbs butter, add one smashed clove garlic and then toast zucchini, squash, and eggplant.  They should be nice and golden brown with a little crunch.  Slice fresh tomato into coins and mince basil.  Then stack eggplant, zucchini, squash, and tomato; crumbling fresh chevre in between each layer.

For dressing, quarter and slow roast 2 large tomatoes in an oven (or toaster oven) at 300 degrees for 20-30 minutes.  Place in small saucepan, add white wine, and reduce.  Add fresh basil and salt to taste.  Process in blender or food processor and drizzle over top of salad. Mince more basil for garnish and sprinkle over salad.

Eat together, toast to each other, and enjoy…local food!

Peach cobbler muffins…

As many of you already know, my husband and I were blessed with the arrival of our beautiful daughter, and she is absolutely amazing.  As we kept her name under wraps throughout the pregnancy, she assumed the nickname “Peaches” by family and friends. We thought it fitting that the first journey out of the house was to the Hill Stead Museum’s farmer’s market down the road…getting her used to shopping and eating local at the ripe age of 7 days old. Well, tis the season for peaches and low and behold they were rolling off the tables at the market and looked irresistible. The flesh of the peaches was starting to turn a beautiful rose color, a nice indication that the sun has sweetened them, and they smelled divine. I had every intention of making a peach cobbler pie, however I needed something quicker that I could make while our little “Peaches” was sleeping.  This recipe is super easy and delicious.  They taste wonderful with a fresh ricotta spread, the basil adds a nice complex note to the flavor profile, and don’t forget that hot cup of coffee when devouring these muffins for breakfast.

Peach cobbler muffins…


2 cups flour

1 cup brown sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tbs baking powder

¼  tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

½ cup ricotta cheese

½ cup sour cream

3 tbs vegetable oil

1 egg

½  cup orange juice

1 tsp vanilla

3 diced firm peaches, diced

crumble topping:

4 tbs butter, melted

4 tbs flour

4 tbs granulated sugar

½ tsp cinnamon

ricotta spread:

½ cup ricotta cheese

1-2 tbs honey

1 tbs minced fresh basil

pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease muffin tin or use muffin papers.  Sift together dry ingredients.  Mix together wet ingredients.  Add wet to dry and combine. Add diced peaches.  If you prefer you can remove the skin, however the skin is really not noticeable and adds beautiful color.  Fill muffin tin to the top.

For crumble, melt butter, then add dry ingredients until the mixture resembles little pebbles.  Top each muffin w/ crumble.

Place in oven, and bake 26-30 minutes, until top is golden brown and toothpick comes out clear.

While baking, mix together ingredients for ricotta spread.

Serve muffins warm with a dollop of ricotta spread.

Eat together, toast to each other, and enjoy!