Steak dinner for Dad!

This Sunday is Father’s Day.  If you shop at the Collingswood Farmers’ Market you can purchase everything needed to make a perfectly wonderful summer grill.

Our meat of choice for this grill is a bison rib eye steak.  My husband is newly retired and is having a great time with his smoker and grill.  He has discovered that all one really has to do to be successful is PAY ATTENTION.  We both have fond and not so fond memories of our fathers burning nearly everything they cooked in the name of charcoal grilling.

To cook our bison rib eye steaks, my husband used a method called cold grate reverse sear.  It requires a grill with a spinning grate, a meat thermometer, and for the cook to pay attention.

If you are interested you can learn the method used here: Cold Grate / Reverse Sear Rib Eye Steak .  But I’m sure that your dad will love steak (or even burgers) cooked the way you usually do.

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What makes this dish holiday special is the addition of (and discovery of) a NEW item from Hillacres Pride (purveyors of meat, poultry, and cheese)….Maitake fresh cheese.  It is a soft spreadable cheese made by Judy that includes Maitake mushrooms from Davidson’s Mushrooms.  Tasting was available and it was delicious.  It would be wonderful on a cracker or grilled bread.  It was great on that little plastic spoon!  But it really cried out to be melted on grilled meat.  A steak. A burger.

So grill your meat and plop a dollop of Maitake fresh mushroom cheese on right before serving.

 

Spring cauliflower is available now.  And it is delicious.  Much more delicate in flavor than the fall variety (which I also love).  I cleaned and cut up a small head of cauliflower and dropped it into my steamer basket for about ten minutes.  The cauliflower should be easily pierced with a knife, but it should not be mushy.


While steaming the cauliflower, melt butter in a large frying pan.  When the butter is melted sprinkle in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of panko breadcrumbs.  Stir around until the panko starts to color.  Do not burn!  Then place the cooked cauliflower into the skillet with the butter and panko and stir to coat and crisp.  Again.  Do not burn.  Salt to taste.

 

In case your father is not a cauliflower fan…..

In a large skillet melt about two tablespoons of butter.  Cut up a garlic scape (don’t use the knuckle) and a spring onion.  Saute them lightly until the onion is translucent and the garlic scape is a bit limp.  Next clean and cut up a zucchini, clean and half some sugar snap peas, and clean and cut up some mushrooms.  Put all the vegetables in the skillet with the garlic, onion, and butter.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and put a lid on the pan.  Lower the heat under the pan to medium/low and let it cook until the zucchini is no longer crisp.  About ten minutes.  When the vegetables are done, scoop some Bacon Chive Cheddar spread from Cheese Etc. (they are at the market every other week).  Put the lid back on to melt the spread.  When read to serve, stir the vegetables and melted cheese together.

 

When I was a child, my father ate everything on the table.  Whatever was there, he ate it all.  After my mother passed away, I noticed my father didn’t eat cooked vegetables.  I asked him about it.  Perhaps I wasn’t making the ones he liked.  He said that he preferred raw vegetables…indeed he ate carrots, broccoli, celery, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers…raw.  He went on to say that he ate them when I was young because he was setting a good example.  Indeed he did.

If your father is like mine…he probably won’t eat either of these vegetable dishes.  He’ll eat the steak…with the Miatake fresh cheese melted on top.  And he’ll eat the gorgeous fresh salad also prepared with fresh lettuces, cucumbers, hot house tomatoes.  But I’m guessing he’ll simply enjoy having a meal with you…

There are lots of new things appearing at the market.  Spring has sprung and summer it hot on its heels.  Experiment.  Take a stroll through the market.  Try new things.  You really can’t make a mistake.

 

Food purchased for this post:

Rib Eye Steak : Buck Wild Bison
Maitake Fresh Cheese, butter: Hillacres Pride
Cauliflower, oak leaf lettuce: Muth Family Organic Farm
Garlic Scapes: Savoie Organic Farm
Bacon Chive Cheddar cheese spread: Cheese Etc.
Zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers: AT Buzby Farm
Sugar snap peas : Viereck Farm
Spring onion: Formisano Farm
Mushrooms: Davidsons

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Purple bok choy!

IMG_9964Spring greens are coming into their own.  The market is full of lettuces, kales, spinach, and bok choy.  For the first time I’ve seen purple bok choy for sale. Purple!  Exotic.  Lovely.

I asked the man behind the table if indeed that was purple bok choy.  And he nodded with a smile.  “It’s delicious too,” he said…as if being beautiful wasn’t enough.  He went on to explain that he had made a dinner of it just the night before.  He said he sauted it with some onion and then threw in some potatoes.  He said, “it was a whole meal and delicious”!

I find that when I ask the people behind the tables…the farmers…their helpers…I get the best information.  And today I got inspiration too.

I had never had purple bok choy before.  I asked.  I learned.  I cooked.  I ate.  I will buy again.

Ingredients:
1 head of purple bok choy, cut into strips
1 spring onion, diced
1 garlic scape, sliced
olive oil
salt and pepper
2 cups of cooked fingerling or small new potatoes or 2 cups of (leftover) French potato salad

Directions:
1. Cut the bok choy in thin strips and soake the cut pieces (stem and leaves included) in a large bowl of water for about ten minutes.  Swish the cut purples around, scoop them out, and put in a colander to drain.  Because there was almost no dirt in the bottom of the bowl I spray rinsed the vegetable one more time and let it drain.

2. In a skillet heat some olive oil on medium heat

3. First toss chopped onion and garlic scape into the heated olive and stir for about 3 minutes. (Those made their appearance at the market today too.  Spring onions are sweet and delicious and must be kept in the refrigerator.  Garlic scapes are an easy way to add mild garlic flavor…just don’t use the “knuckle”).

4. Next drop the drained bok choy into the skillet.  Stir to sauté.  Do not brown any of the vegetables in the skillet.  Cook over medium heat until the bok choy is crisp tender…about 12 minutes.

5. Finally, drop in about two cups cooked potatoes or leftover French potato salad.  Using the leftover French potato salad adds flavor as the dressing for the potato salad incorporates olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and dijon mustard.

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After adding the potatoes cook another five to ten minutes over medium heat.  Again do not let any of the vegetables brown.

BONUS RECIPE : French Potato Salad

Ingredients:
2 1/2 pounds fingerling or small new potatoes
coarse salt and ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 green onion (scallion) minced
3 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped

Directions:
1.  Place potatoes in a large pot.  Cover with cold water by 1 inch and season generously with salt.  Bring to a boil…then reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.  Drain.  Cool slightly.

2.  While the potatoes are cooking, whisk together the oil, mustard, vinegar, green onion, parsley, thyme, season with salt and pepper.  Add the still warm potatoes and toss to combine.  Serve at room temperature. (To store, refrigerate).IMG_9961

 

This is a wonderful dish to go with grilled fish, chicken, pork, beef, or bison.   Add leftover French potato salad to the bok choy and you’ve made a delicious, nutritious, and elegant new side dish.

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There are many new vegetables appearing at the market.  Farmers are excited to share some new produce with us.  Purple bok choy…a winner!  What will be new next week?

 

Available at The Collingswood Farmers’ Market:
purple bok choy, green onions – Muth Family Organic Farm
spring onions (red and white) and fingerling potatoes – Formisano Farm
garlic scape – Savoie Organic Farm
fresh herbs – Flaim Farm

Short rib sauce with fresh pappardelle.

Readers of my blog know that I shop the Collingswood Farmers’ Market.  During the season I need only go to a supermarket for dairy products.  This is a meal made exclusively and totally from products purchased at the market.

This is a meal easy enough for a week night and special enough for company.

Purchase beef short ribs from Hillacres Pride or bison short ribs from Buck Wild Bison.  Purchase red tomato sauce from Villa Barone’s stand (he also has pink sauce…but red is needed here).  Thaw the short ribs and cut them in half.  Dump the red sauce into your slow cooker.  Push the short ribs into the sauce.  Put on the lid and set the machine on low for 8 to 10 hours.  That’s it.  Done.

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The rest of the meal is made up of pappardelle noodles (fresh…from Villa Barone), small artisan dinner rolls (fresh…from Villa Barone) with butter (from Hillacres Pride), salad (lettuce from Muth Family Organic Farm and Savoie Organic Farm), tomatoes (from Buzby Farm or Springdale Farm), a ball of fresh mozzarella (from Villa Barone), parmesan cheese (from Villa Barone).

The meat and sauce cook slowly all day.  The noodles cook in minutes as they are fresh. The salad and rolls round out the meal.  This time of year strawberries (Buzby Farms, Muth Family Organic, Fruitwood Farm, Springdale Farm) and ice cream make a marvelous dessert or baked goods from Springdale Farms or Wild Flour Bakery.

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Extraordinarily delicious and extremely easy…

John’s favorite banana bread (with mini chocolate chips).

When I have overripe bananas I have lots of them.  Not one or two.  Many.  Husband and I like our bananas a little underripe so when the bunch goes ripe there are plenty to use.    Sadly, most recipes only use one or two bananas.    This recipe uses FOUR BANANAS!  FOUR!

Husband and grandsons love this loaf!

It is also a recipe that is mixed by hand with a wooden spoon or spatula.  No electric mixer needed.

Ingredients:  

4 very ripe bananas
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter (cool slightly after melting)
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (210g) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup mini-chocolate chips (can be made plain without chips if you’d rather….)

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/4 -inch loaf pan.

Place bananas in a large bowl and mash them (with a fork or potato masher).

Measure the flour and toss the mini chips in the flour.  Coating the chips with the flour keeps them “floating” in the loaf instead of having them all sink to the bottom.

Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla to the bananas stir just to mix

Add the sugar, baking soda, and flour with chocolate chips to the bowl and stir until just combined.  Do not over mix.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Let the loaf cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes.  Then turn the loaf out of the pan and let cool completely before eating.

 

 

World Famous Triple Chocolate Bundt Cake.

This is the only chocolate cake recipe you will ever need.  Trust me.

This recipe has a simple list of ingredients and very easy directions.  You will need a bundt pan.

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Ingredients:

1 package of dark chocolate cake mix (the preferred one is Duncan Hines brand, but it works with others.  Do not buy “Pudding in the Mix”).

1 package of INSTANT chocolate pudding mix (seriously….do not short cut and buy “Pudding in the Mix”).

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup Canola or vegetable oil

4 eggs

8 ounces sour cream (you can use “light” ..but really, what’s the point?)

1 six ounce package chocolate chips (we use WAY MORE…but use your discretion).

 

Directions:

Spray the inside of the Bundt pan with cooking spray (not baking spray…the flour in that sticks to the cake).  Spray very well so the cake doesn’t stick to the pan.  (I spray it very well, excessively well and then I turn the pan upside down on some paper towels for the excess oil to drain off).

Place the first six ingredients in a large bowl.  Beat with an electric mixer at low speed to moisten.  When moistened, beat at medium speed until creamy.  Fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula.

Pour into the Bundt pan.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 50 to 55 minutes.

Test doneness by inserting a toothpick until it comes out clean.  (Be sure the toothpick is testing the cake and not a melted chocolate chip).

Let the cake cool in the Bundt pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes before turning it out.

Let the cake cool completely on a cooking rack before eating.  (Always better the second day!)

Dust the cake with powdered sugar and serve.

 

Everyone loves this cake!  I guarantee you will too.  Great to take to a pot luck or summer picnic.

Cinnamon Honey Butter and Strawberry Compote

Just like that he is five.  My first grandson.  His mother takes his younger brother to gym class and the big five comes to visit his grandparents.  Every Monday morning.  Part of what we do is school work (he is starting on the adventure of homeschooling that his mother and aunt enjoyed…and school on Monday is at Gramma’s and Pop’s house.  This week we continued talking about farming.  We discussed what crops he would grow if he was a farmer.  He drew a picture.  He went upstairs (to the yellow room) and built a field with crops (bananas, carrots, and apples) from Legos.  He also reads chapter books with Pop.

And then we cooked.

These really are two very very easy recipes.  My five year old grandson made them with very little help.  He measured all the ingredients and even manned the electric hand mixer.

The first recipe we made was a strawberry compote to use on ice cream or a waffle or pancakes.  This takes all of ten minutes to make (if Gramma cleans the strawberries the night before).

 

Strawberry Compote

Ingredients

1 1/2 to 2 cups of chopped fresh strawberries (which is a pint)

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1 Tablespoon of freshly squeezed orange juice

 

Directions

Rinse and dry the strawberries.  Remove the green tops.  Cut each berry into quarters.  If the berries are extra large cut into 6 or 8 pieces.  

Put half of the cut up strawberries in a heavy bottomed pan.  Add the sugar and orange juice.  Turn the heat on low, stir the mixture and bring it to a simmer.  Stir occasionally and cook for five minutes.  The berries would be partially cooked down and the mixture should be slightly syrupy.IMG_9884

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the saved strawberries.

Pour the mixture from the hot pan to a bowl and cool to room temperature before serving.  Refrigerate any leftovers.

 

We made the strawberry compote first because it needs to cool before eating.

 

This recipe is even more five-year-old chef ready because there is no heat involved.  Just remember to get the butter out the night before so it is room temperature and soft.  You do NOT want to melt or microwave it.

Cinnamon Honey Butter

Ingredients

1/2 cup softened unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup powdered sugar

2 Tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon cinnamon

 

Directions

The most important thing to do when making this Cinnamon Butter is to make sure the butter is room temperature.  Don’t try to make this recipe with cold butter right out of the refrigerator.  The butter needs to be soft.

The best way to mix the butter is to use a hand mixer.  You can stir this by hand but the butter has to be super soft.

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and use a hand mixer to combine.

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Two simple recipes.  Easy to make.  Very good to eat!IMG_9892

Grandson tasted both on his favorite waffles and gave both a thumbs up!

 

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He asked me to take a picture of his strong muscles which he got from eating his waffles with Cinnamon Honey Butter and Strawberry Compote…so here you are.

 

The ingredients for these recipes were purchased from the Collingswood Farmers’ Market where my grandson now shops on Saturday mornings.  His favorite things are the Muth Family popcorn and Springdale Farm’s apple cider donuts.

 

Where to find ingredients at the Collingswood Farmers’ Market

For the Cinnamon Honey Butter….The butter is Hillacres Pride.  (made from milk from their cows grandson will tell you) and the honey is from Fruitwood Farms (and bees….)

For the Strawberry Compote…the strawberries are from Muth Family Organic Farm (but also can be purchased at Buzby Farm, Springdale Farm, Fruitwood Farm… the orange was purchased at Sara’s Produce.

 

 

 

Simple skillet asparagus

Everyone has an opinion about asparagus.  Some won’t eat it.  Some can’t wait for the arrival of spring and opening day of their favorite farmers’ market to enjoy it once again.  Asparagus is the first spring vegetable that makes it to the market freshly harvested.

For those who love asparagus the next big controversy is fat or skinny.  Me…I like skinny. Husband too.  Although he doesn’t mind fat asparagus if it is cooked until too too soft and smothered with butter and salt.

This week, fresh, newly harvested thin asparagus was the purchase.  Lots of farmers at our local Collingswood Farmers’ Market have asparagus….Springdale Farm, Viereck farm, Fruitwood Farm, Buzby Farm.  All delicious!

This is a quick and easy way to make thin asparagus.  The final product is similar in taste to roasted asparagus.  The flavor is as intense…but the preparation is much simpler.

 

Ingredients:

a bunch of asparagus
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

  1. Rinse asparagus in cold water and trim off the tough ends of the stalks (thin asparagus generally has very little to trim).
  2. Put butter in a heavy skillet with a tight-fitting lid and heat until the butter is foaming.
  3. Lay asparagus in the pan and shake from side to side to gently coat the asparagus with the melted butter.  If you’re not confident about shaking the skillet you can use a spoon or spatula to move the stalks around.
  4. Cover the skillet with the tightly-fitted lid and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes.  Then check asparagus and turn as needed to prevent burning.IMG_9822
  5. Continue cooking 5 minutes longer, or until asparagus is tender but still crisp and bright green. IMG_9823
  6. Season to taste and serve hot.IMG_9825

Sirloin Steak Bites

I recently bought a smallish (about 1 1/2 pounds) sirloin steak from my favorite grass fed meat purveyors, Hillacres Pride (at The Collingswood Farmers’ Market).  It is now just husband and I so meals are not that large.  He asked for a steak.  He wanted to grill it.  But the weather simply wasn’t cooperating.

A simple solution was this very easy and delicious recipe for steak bites.

First dry the steak with a paper towel and cut it into 1 inch cubes.

 

 

Then mix the marinade.

Recipe for the marinade:
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon dried basil
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon black pepperIMG_9753

Put the steak and marinade in a plastic zippered bag and place in the refrigerator.  Wait a minimum of 3 hours or a maximum of 24 hours. IMG_9755

When ready to cook, heat a skillet to medium high.  Take the meat out of the marinade (discard the marinade), place in the skillet and fry for about three minutes, stirring constantly.

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That’s it!

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Delicious, easy, and husband loved it!

Sirloin steak from Hillacres Pride (The Collingswood Farmers’ market.

Abundant broccoli soup

I shopped The Collingswood Farmers’ Market and came home with a PILE of broccoli.  It was so green and lovely everywhere I looked that I couldn’t resist buying it from multiple farmers.

The only answer this week to the question of what to do with all that broccoli was soup.

Broccoli soup looks simple but there can be some pitfalls.  Overcooking the broccoli so it is a smelly mush.  Using too much fat and thus losing the taste and health benefit of this beautiful vegetable.

What follows is a quick to make and very tasty soup.

Ingredients:
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 leek, finely diced (or small onion)
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon granulated roasted garlic or 1 clove of garlic minced
3 Tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
2 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
8 cups broccoli florets, stalks, stems cut into small pieces
1/4 cup grated Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese
juice from one lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1.  Melt butter in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat.  Add the leek, celery, and garlic.  Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are softened, but not browned (about 5 minutes).
2.  Add the flour.  Cook, stirring constantly until all the flour is absorbed (about 30 seconds).IMG_9349
3.  Slowly pour in the milk.  Next slowly pour in the stock.
4.  Stir in the baking soda.
5.  Add the broccoli.IMG_9351
6. Bring the pot to a boil and then lower the heat to maintain a simmer.  Cover.  Stir occasionally until the broccoli is tender and an olive green color (about 20 minutes).


7.  Using an immersion blender (you can do it in batches in a regular blender but the immersion blender is so convenient and easier to control) blend the soup.  Add more stock for a thinner soup.


8.  Add the parmesan cheese, lemon juice, salt, pepper.  Stir.  Keep warm to serve.IMG_9360

Delicious!

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And leftovers too!

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Broccoli is lovely, plentiful,  easy to cook, and good for you.

” ‘Without pain, how could we know joy?’ This is an old argument in the field of thinking about suffering and its stupidity and lack of sophistication and could be plumbed for centuries but suffice it to say that the existence of broccoli does not, in any way, affect the taste of chocolate”.  (John Green, author)

 

Ingredients purchased from farmers at The Collingswood Farmers’ Market.
-butter from Hillacres Pride
-leek from Fruitwood Farm, Formisano Farm, Flaim Farm
-celery from Flaim Farm, Formisano Farm
-garlic from Savoie Organic Farm
-broccoli from Fruitwood Farm (by the bag!), Muth Organic Farm, Springdale Farm,

Squash pocket scones

My daughter likes to bake.  She has recently set herself the task of learning to bake a nice scone.

While I was experimenting with other foods to make with all that winter squash, she decided to use winter squash as the flavoring for her pocket scones.

Scone ingredients:

3 cups flour, sifted
1 1/2 Tablespoons baking powder
3/8 teaspoons baking soda
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
a pinch of Kosher salt
9 Tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 cup whole milk
1 egg beaten

Filling ingredients:

1/2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1/4 cup winter squash puree
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
3 Tablespoons sugar
a pinch of Kosher salt

Directions:

1.  Whisk all the scone’s dry ingredients together in one of the mixing bowls.  Add the butter and gently cut it in with a pastry cutter or fork.  Continue until the flour and butter is the consistency of large breadcrumbs.IMG_6521

2.  Pour in the milk and stir with a fork to make the mixture into a shaggy dough.  Be careful not to overmix.  Chill the dough in the refrigerator while you make the filling.IMG_6522

3. Put all the filling ingredients into a mixing bowel and whip with a hand or stand mixer until all the ingredients are well blended and have a fluffy texture.  Chill the finished filling in the refrigerator.

4.  Empty the scone dough onto a floured surface.  Dust the top with flour and roll it into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle.  Cut the rectangle into six pieces.IMG_6525

5.  Spoon 1 1/2 Tablespoons of the filling onto each dough portion.  Then carefully fold over into a triangle and pinch gently to seal the edges.  (My daughter’s triangles did not meet her expectations so she made them into square pockets instead).  Place the formed scone onto a parchment lined baking sheet and chill them in the freezer for at least an hour.

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6.  While the scones are in the freezer, preheat the oven to 445 degrees Fahrenheit.  Take the paper and scones off the baking sheet.  Put a fresh sheet of parchment on the baking sheet and spray it with cooking spray.

7.  Place the scones on the parchment on the tray.   Space them at least an inch apart. Brush each scone pocket with beaten egg using a pastry brush, dust the top with granulated sugar.  IMG_6527

8.  Bake for 15 minutes.

9.  Allow scones to cool 5 – 10 minutes before serving. IMG_6528

Perhaps, instead of going shopping the morning after Thanksgiving, use the leftover squash to make a lovely and special breakfast.  Make a pot of tea (instead of only a cup). Put on your robe and slippers and watch the local news to see the crazy crowds of holiday shoppers.