Thursday, October 27, 2011

Chestnuts Roasting in a……Closed Oven: Roasted Broccoli with Chestnuts


It is a tad bit early to start belting out the lyrics to a favorite Christmas tune, but that is what comes to mind when eating these delicious goodies.  Chestnuts are loaded with soluble fiber, potassium, vitamin C and many B vitamins. They are also a good source of zinc and protein. They are a unique nut in that they have a very low fat content and therefore also lower in calories. The best part is how great they taste!

Before chestnuts can be enjoyed, the outer shell must be removed. Slice an “X” into the skin of the chestnut to allow steam to escape. Place in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes. The “X” will start to curl back- that is when you know they are ready to peel.

I find that it is easiest to peel chestnuts when they are warm. If they become too cool, they become buggers to get the outer coating off.  It also helps giving them a little nudge with a nut cracker to get the peel off easier.

Once the chestnuts are roasted and peeled, they are delicious eaten as-is, but can be used in many dishes. I adapted a recipe found in a recent issue of Rachael Ray Magazine (Nov. 2011).

Blend ¼ cup olive oil with 3 anchovy filets.  Spread mixture on chopped broccoli florets (Schuetz Farm). I roasted this mixture in a roasting pan at the same time as the chestnuts were roasting (Blue Heron Orchards, Canton, MO). Meanwhile, I combined ¼ cup chopped parsley, 2 cloves chopped garlic (Bellews Creek), and 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest. 

Tossed all together with the roasted broccoli mixture and chestnuts- a satisfying autumn side dish that will warm you when Jack Frost is nipping at your nose.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pie Pumpkins: not just for pie (or the porch) - Roasted Pumpkin Soup


Drive by most homes at this time of year and you will see pumpkins perched on the doorsteps, adding a decorative touch to the Halloween scene. The pie pumpkin is a dainty sized winter squash and just like all winter squash, pie pumpkins are now in season. Although this variety of pumpkin would make a cute jack-o-lantern, pie pumpkins are meant to be eaten. Loaded with soluble fiber, vitamin A and all the related carotenoids, these little cuties pack a mean nutrition punch.

I decided to use my pie pumpkin in a Roasted Pumpkin Soup recipe that I saved from a Good Housekeeping issue last year (Oct 2010). 

This recipe called for a few chopped carrots. Thankfully, I had just harvested the cutest baby carrots from my garden earlier that day, so I was excited to add these to the creation.  The recipe also includes one tart apple, and I happened to have a few apples left from our apple picking adventure a few weeks prior. 

All of the ingredients were placed in a roasting pan: 1 chopped and seeded pumpkin (Schuetz Farm), 1 chopped onion (Biver Farm), 2 sliced carrots (my backyard), 1 chopped apple (Thierbach Orchards), 4 cloves garlic, 2 T. olive oil, and a sprinkle each of ground cumin, coriander and turmeric; all roasted at 400 degrees until fork-tender.

The roasted ingredients were tossed into the food processor with chicken broth (2 cups) and ½ cup coconut milk until blended.  Salt & pepper were added to taste then topped with toasted pumpkin seeds for garnish.

The soup was nourishing, warming, and best of all made locally in the Lou!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Mushroom Hunt - Fried Puffballs

One of my hobbies is to forage for edibles in our Missouri area, especially hunting for mushrooms in the woods. A favorite aspect of this pasttime is that my teenage son also likes to hunt. Nothing is better than being outside, on a crisp fall day, chatting with my boy while we look for the “Mother load”.  Recently, we embarked on a hunt hoping we would be as successful as our last adventure (when we found oyster mushrooms that we roasted and added to a homemade pizza).  

Halfway thru our journey, we spotted them: gem-studded puffballs- lots of them on a fallen log. We harvested some, brought them home, and confirmed their identity. I decided to dip them in Andy’s Tempura Batter (St. Louis) then fry in a butter/olive oil combo.  Very tasty! Served with steamed edamame (Charleston, MO) that I had frozen and barbequed trout (Troutdale Farms, Gravois Mills, MO).

A delicious meal, all foraged, fished or farmed from Missouri!


Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Friend In Need is a Chance to Cook Indeed - Apple Cider BBQ Pork

I love making dinner for friends and neighbors that might be in need of a little break, such as after having a baby or surgery. A friend of mine just underwent hip surgery so I had an excuse to experiment in the kitchen! Apples are now in season and plentiful so the menu started with a homemade applesauce of simmered chopped apples (Thierbach Orchards, Marthasville, MO), water and agave nectar.


(pork  from Geisert Farms, Washington, MO)
Since pork pairs well with apples, I decided to try an Apple Cider Barbequed Pork Chop recipe, adapted from a recipe recently published in the Food Network Magazine. . The key to success to this recipe is the first step: allowing the chops to soak in a mixture of brown sugar (1/4 cup), warm water (2 cups) and salt (1/4 cup), to create a moist meat product.

As the chops soaked in the brine, I heated the sauce in a saucepan- ¼ cup apple cider (Happy Apples, Washington, MO), 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 3 cloves minced garlic and 2 tablespoons minced ginger.



The brine was discarded, the chops grilled, along with Roma tomatoes and onions.  To finish the dish and to allow all of the ingredients to blend, the pork chops were placed in a baking dish with the sauce, tomatoes, and onions and baked at a low temp (250) for about an hour.

The reviews were terrific- definitely worth making again the next time a friend needs a meal!
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