Tan-tan chicken and snow peas

Tan Tan chicken with snow peas

In the spirit of trying to eat all things local, I’m posting this recipe as snow peas are now available in our local fields. At the very least I know that Red Fire Farm has them because they’re on the list for CSA members for Pick Your Own crops this week. If they’re not available yet in your area, these crisp, flat peas are typically out in loose bins at most grocery stores.

Between its sweetness and its crunch, the snow pea is a great snack in raw form. They’re also fantastic steamed or stir fried, and they do not require the accompaniment of any sauce or spice. In this case, I’ve tossed them in a peanut sauce that is just a little sweet, a little savory and has a touch of heat. This dish is fine on its own, but would be great served over rice too.

Ingredients:

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 Tbsp sesame oil

2 Tbsp peanut butter

2 Tbsp rice vinegar

1-1/2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp honey

2 medium cloves garlic, chopped

2-1/2 TBS peeled & grated fresh ginger

2 Tbsp water

pinch of cayenne to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups Snow peas, ends trimmed

1/2 cup minced scallion

Directions:

  • Bring a fry pan up to a medium heat and sauté the chicken breasts in sesame oil
  • When the breasts are cooked, remove them from the pan and set aside to rest while you prepare the sauce
  • Blend all of the remaining ingredients, except the scallion, together in a blender
  • Cut the rested chicken breasts up into bite-sized chunks and return them to the pan and toss with the snow peas, sauce and scallion

 

Sautéed Radishes in Orange Butter Sauce

This just became my favorite warm salad.  A bite of this dish sports that earthy flavor of the cooked radish- which is somewhat akin to a roasted Brussels sprout, the saltiness of the bacon, the sweetness of the orange juice, the slight bitterness of the radish greens, and it makes mouths happy.

My favorite new way to cook bacon is in the oven.  If you have a thin cut, you want to use a lower heat, like 250 degrees, and thicker cuts can withstand 350 degrees.  You place a baking rack inside of a jelly roll pan and the fat just drips right down as the bacon cooks, and scrapes out easily once it’s cooled.  In my opinion the bacon still requires a patting down with a paper towel the remove the extra fat, but it’s much less significant than when it’s pan-fried.

And while we’re on the subject of bacon, may I just say that my entire life I have eaten commercial bacon- whatever was available in the standard grocery store.  Recently I bought into a couple of meat CSAs and have received bacon in my shares and Whoa!- what a difference.  Farm bacon is noticeably less salty and even the smoked varieties are much less smoky.  I love it!  You can typically also find farm bacon at farmer’s markets, and even at some farm stores which are set up inside of barns.  You aren’t going to find it on sale for $2.50, but your taste buds will thank you for the upgrade.

For more information on local MA organic farms, check this link out.

Ingredients:

1/4 pound bacon, cut into a 1-inch dice

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 bunch of radishes with their greens—radishes quartered lengthwise and greens chopped into ribbons

Salt and black pepper

3 large shallots, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon sugar or honey

1 cup orange juice

Directions:

  • In a 350 degree oven, bake the bacon to perfection on a baking rack in a sheet pan for 15-20 minutes.
  • In a cast iron frying pan place 2 tablespoons of butter and melt over a moderately high heat
  • Add the radish greens, season with salt and pepper and cook until wilted (about 3 minutes)
  • Scrape the greens into a bowl and set aside
  • Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the skillet.  While the butter is melting, cut your cooked bacon into a 1-inch dice
  • Add the radish quarters and let them start to brown up in the pan, solo, for a few minutes

  • Add the shallots and bacon chunks and cook over a moderately high heat, until the radishes are golden brown (5- 6 minutes)

  • Add the sugar (or honey) and cook for another 2 minutes, until it’s completely dissolved
    Add the orange juice and bring it to a boil, stirring a few times, until the radishes are just tender and the sauce is slightly thickened (about 2 minutes)
  • Stir in the radish greens, season with salt and pepper and serve

 

We had this warm salad as a side to butternut squash soup and it was lovely.  The soup was very mild so the sweet and salty tones of the salad really stood out.

The inspiration for this dish came from this recipe in Food and Wine.

 

Cumin dry-rub Ribs with Pineapple Salsa

Here’s a recipe that would be great for your 4th of July festivities.  A dry rub that you can make ahead and smother some ribs in and let them hang out in the fridge for a day or two before you slow cook them, then grill them off to perfection.  The rub has just a few simple, savory spices, and there’s also a glaze of sweet, sticky, spicy sauce.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup ancho chile powder

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon ground cumin

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

1 rack baby back ribs

1 jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, smashed

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/2 cup honey

1 pound fresh pineapple rings, sliced about 1/2 inch thick

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 cup finely diced red onion

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Directions:

  • In a small bowl, combine the chili powder with 1/4 cup of cumin, 2 tablespoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
  • Set the ribs in a cooking dish, rub all over with spice mixture, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate

ribs coated thickly in the dry rub

  • When you’re ready to cook them: preheat the oven to 350°
  • Add a small bit of water to the bottom of the cooking dish and bake the ribs for 45 minutes, until just tender
  • Cover with foil and bake another 30 minutes
  • Meanwhile, puree 1/2 of the jalapeño with the garlic and 1/2 cup of lime juice, add in the honey and the remaining 1 tablespoon of cumin
  • Pour the glaze mixture into a saucepan and simmer over low heat until thickened, about 15 minutes
  • When the ribs have cooked to tender, raise the oven temperature to 450° or light your grill
  • Brush the ribs with half of the glaze and bake or grill for about 20 minutes
  • Brush with the remaining glaze for a sticky finish
  • Grill the pineapple rings over high heat, turning once, about 5 minutes (or pan fry them in a cast iron skillet over a high heat for 2-3 minutes) and set aside to cool

pineapple rings ready for the grill

  • Dice the pineapple and transfer to a bowl and add the brown sugar, onion, cilantro, and remaining 1/2 jalapeño and 2 tablespoons of lime juice. Season with salt and pepper

Pineapple Salsa

We served this with a black & pinto bean salad.

cumin rubbed ribs with sweet & spicy glaze, pineapple salsa, and black & pinto bean salad

This recipe was inspired by Food and Wine.

J

Rocky cookies

I have a dear friend named Roxanne.  Those who know her well call her Rocky.  Rocky is a giving and loving person, always there to listen to a friend, offer advice, lend her opinion.  Rocky also happens to be famous for her cookies, and I mean that.  She’s been asked to make them for parties at a salon, for people’s backyard shindigs, she’s made them for co-workers.  She willingly shares her recipe and I’ve used it over and over.  In fact I have a family member who swears that Rocky cookies helped her survive through a rough patch of menopause.  My weight-lifting friend asks me to make them as her cheat after competitions.  I’ve made them for constipated children who don’t get enough fiber in their diet, and for adults after surgery.  I make them for myself as a snack.  Unlike conventional cookies, they’re packed with healthy fats and fruits, nuts, and energy-supplying seeds.  No butter, no brown sugar, no white sugar- you get my drift.

This cookie is hearty.  It can be made with every ingredient in the list, or only a few of them.  You can play with combinations for flavor such as pumpkin and walnut, or chocolate and cherries, or sunflower and raisin.  Personally, I love to have a little bit of dark chocolate, lots of different fruits (prune, fig, raisin, cranberry), some wheat berries, a mixture of flours (barley and whole wheat)- a little bit of everything.

The recipe may confuse some as it calls for a handful of this and that ingredient.  It means that, literally.  The dough should not be terribly stiff when complete, but if it’s too runny just add a bit more flour to the mix.

2 cups old fashioned oats

1 cup steel cut oats

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour (or oat or barley flour)

¾ teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon cinnamon (can also add a dash of cloves and/or nutmeg)

Sprinkle of sea salt

Handful of bittersweet chocolate chunks

Handful of raisins

Handful of dried cranberries

Handful of walnuts

Handful of wheat germ

Handful of flax seed meal

Handful of seeds if you like them (sunflower, pepitas, flax, sesame, etc.)

the dry ingredients

1 egg

¾ cup real maple syrup (or any variation of, honey, agave, and/or molasses)

¾ cup plain, unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup coconut or olive oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

¾ cup canned pumpkin (or a well-ripened banana)

1 large scoop of peanut butter (or almond or cashew butter)

the wet ingredients

  • Preheat the oven to 375
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix

the mixture

  • Scoop the batter by the tablespoon onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper (cookies will not spread)
  • Bake for 15-25 minutes (depending on your oven).  You want a finished cookie that is golden brown around the edges and a bit on top

the Rocky cookie

J

Barley Banana Bread

There is a new Farmer’s Market that’s started up right in my lovely little city of Holyoke.  It’s on Saturday mornings at Open Square, and it’s already growing.  You see, starting up a new market is no easy task according to farmer Dan from Astarte Farm.  Farmers don’t want to show up and have no patrons, thus make no money, and patrons don’t want to waste their time going to a new market that doesn’t have enough farmers at it to give them a great variety to choose from.  I think that this market has started off well though.  There are soaps, eggs, lots of veggies, grass-fed beef, herbs, bread, cheese and grains.  Plus it’s at Open Square, so you can really make a day of it by having breakfast or lunch at Slice Cafe, get a haircut, mani, pedi, or massage at Serene Salon & Spa, attend a yoga or dance class at Vega Yoga, the options are endless.  Plus the canalwalk is right there, as are the Children’s Museum and the carousel– all within walking/biking distance.

Speaking of the grains, the vendor at the Open Square market who brings grains for sale is Four Star Farms, and they’re pretty smart.  You see, instead of simply packaging their grains and pricing them and calling it a day, they showed up with a) their product, b) samples of baked goods using the product, and c) printed recipes and re-order forms for their grains.    That’s how they got me.  I had never even thought to bake with barley flour before.  I tried a sample of some coffee cake that they had baked with it.  I had no idea what I had been missing!  Barley flour has a moist, sweet, nut-like flavor.  While I haven’t yet tried any of their recipes, I did decide to make my own banana bread recipe with 100% barley flour.  The result was a moist, dense, darkly-colored loaf of yum!

Ingredients:

¼ cup coconut oil

2 eggs

2 cups barley flour

¼ cup raw wheat germ

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup mashed bananas

1/2 cup real maple syrup

1/2 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt

a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg

Directions:

  • Cream the coconut oil, eggs, bananas, syrup, honey, vanilla and yogurt in a large stand mixer
  • Whisk the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just incorporated
  • Pour the batter into a greased Bundt pan, sprinkled with a bit of wheat germ
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes at 350F
  • Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to complete cooling

J