Posts Tagged ‘field to table’

Bizarre Veggies–Roasted!

Roasted Romanesco and Yellow Cauliflower

At the farmers market a few weeks ago as I was picking up my last CSA box, I encountered a bizarre veggie that I could not resist buying and figuring out what to do with–Romanesco Broccoli. Romanesco broccoli is an Italian broccoli that has a similar texture as that of cauliflower. You can use it for pastas, risotto, or as I have…just a delicious roasted side dish.  The flavor is mild, the texture is crunchy and all-together it is a wonderful combination of broccoli and cauliflower that just happens to look like it grew on Mars.

Romanesco Broccoli

So for the recipe–it is a safe, simple way to experiment with new veggies–roasting. Roasting is so simple and a great way to cook any hearty veggie. The roasting time depends on how “crispy brown” you like your veggies. I opt to have differing sizes of the veggies cut so that some pieces get really crunchy and brown while others are lighter and crisp tender.


  • olive oil, enough to coat veggies
  • Romanesco broccoli
  • Yellow cauliflower
  • salt
  • pepper
  • crushed red pepper flakes

To make:

Preheat oven to 400-425. In a large bowl, mix cut Romanesco broccoli and cauliflower with olive oil, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Place veggies in a single layer on a baking pan and bake for approximately 20 minutes–or until brown and crisped to your liking. You can give the veggies a stir half way through for more even browning. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Delicious, Strange, Veggies: roasted yellow cauliflower & romanesco broccoli


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Better than BAR pizza…

One of my favorite pizza’s is a pizza from BAR restaurant in New Haven, CT. It is their white pizza topped with mashed potato and bacon. I know…it sounds crazy, but is it absolutely delicious!  I have not been back to New Haven in a while and was really in the mood for recreating this spectacular pie. So…with a little experimentation, I think I found a winner. Here is my version of “Better than Bar Loaded Mashed Potato Pizza”.  The toppings taste better, but I will admit the crust from BAR (or really any New Haven pizzeria takes the prize). I am pretty sure this version is much healthier than what you would order in a restaurants and it has the added farm-to-table appeal because I was able to use fresh potatoes and broccoli from my CSA box. Like most home cooks, I don’t have the luxury of a brick fire pit to get that classic charred New Haven style crust, but for a home version this is a great option. By using a pre-made thin crust pizza dough and cooked it on a pizza stone you can get pretty close for a home version, but for the real experience I recommend a pizza tour of New Haven, CT.

Loaded Mashed Potato Pizza

Loaded Mashed Potato Pizza


thin pizza crust (store-bought or make your own)

3-4 medium white potato, or 2 large

4 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half

extra virgin olive oil

sour cream

whole milk



cheese (I used an Italian blend)

salt & pepper (white pepper if you have it)


Preheat the oven to 400-450 degrees with the pizza stone in the oven. If you are not using a pizza stone then I recommend preheating a baking sheet at 400.

Prep the pizza topping ingredients: For the  mashed potatoes, peel and cut the potatoes into chunks. Add potatoes and garlic to a pot of boiling water and boil until fork tender. Meanwhile cook the bacon until crisp and tear into small pieces. Steam or par-boil the broccoli until just tender. When the potatoes and garlic are soft, remove from water and place into a bowl to mash. If you have a food mill, use the food mill using a medium grate disc to make light and fluffy garlic mashed potatoes. Add 1/2 cup sour cream and pour milk until the potatoes are soft, creamy and to the consistency you desire. Salt and pepper the potatoes to taste. If you prefer chunkier potatoes mash by hand.

Assemble the pizza: Spread a generous layer of olive oil all over the pizza dough to coat. Layer the mashed potatoes onto the pizza, add a thin layer of cheese, add the bacon and broccoli, drizzle a light layer of olive oil, then top with more cheese.  There is no real science to the amount of toppings you use so feel free to experiment!

Bake the pizza in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and crust is brown and crispy! Let cool for a few minutes before cutting. And lastly…ENJOY 🙂

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Perfect Bites: Southern Pan Fried Okra

One of my absolute favorite foods is fresh fried okra. Not the over-battered kind, but the lightly dusted in cornmeal, pan-fried extra crispy (no goo) kind. This recipe is one that my mother passed along and it makes the perfect bite of fried okra every time. It is so simple and so delicious! I could eat an entire pan of this okra myself…but I practice self control and always make it when I have someone to share a few bites with 🙂

The trick to this recipe is the okra…only fresh summer okra will do. I have attempted to re-create the fried okra using frozen okra and it just doesn’t work out well. It actually ends up a soggy mess. So reap the benefits of your farmer’s market, CSA box, or garden grown okra while it lasts and fry up this Southern delight!

Mama’s Crispy Pan Fried Okra

  • fresh okra
  • cornmeal (white or yellow)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dash of cayenne (optional)
  • vegetable or canola oil for frying

To make:

Heat oil in a saute or frying pan (cast iron is best) over medium-high heat. I use just enough oil to cover the okra about 1/4-1/2 way. This is more of a pan fry method rather than a deep fry.

Cut the okra ends off and slice into rounds approximately 1/2 inch in length. Working rather quickly (to take advantage of the okra “goo”) place okra in a shallow dish, season with salt and pepper (and cayenne if you are using). Sprinkle a heaping layer of corn meal on top of the okra and gently mix to coat the okra.

Lightly coat the okra in cornmeal, salt and pepper

If the okra is fresh enough there should be enough okra goo to make the corn meal stick. Carefully place okra in hot oil. Do not over fill the pan with the okra, you want only one layer of okra in the pan to ensure all of the sides of the okra get crispy. Cover the pan and cook for approximately 10  minutes, gently stir about 1/2 way through. Monitor the heat to prevent the okra burning or oil from getting too hot when covered. Remove cover and cook until okra has browned to your preference (another 5-10 minutes). I like a few pieces to be on the darker side (usually the smaller ones). Okra will crisp up more as it cools. Remove cooked okra with a slotted spoon from the oil and let cool slightly on a paper towel lined plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.  Enjoy!

Just a little oil to pan fry this crispy summer treat!

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CSA box–each week a wonderful surprise of fruits and veggies!

This summer my husband and I decided to participate in a community supported agriculture (CSA) program. We thought this would be a great way to support local farmers, eat more fresh produce, and possibly trim up our waistlines! Participating in a CSA program is a great alternative for city-dwellers like ourselves to enjoy the fresh bounty of summer fruits and veggies even though we don’t have our own garden.

We decided to participate in Stillman’s Farm, which has been great so far.  If you are interested, you can follow their blog linked my Local Favorites blogroll list. We are about 5 weeks into the deliveries and are happy with the quality and selection of veggies. Lots of greens! It does take some work to clean and prep all of the produce, but the end results of delicious, fresh foods is worth it! I will be posting recipes using these fresh fruits and veggies (hopefully frequently).

This first recipe is a  fast, easy, and delicious way to use up Kale (which has been abundant in the boxes from week to week so far). The chips can me made with any variety of Kale.

Basic Kale Chips

  • Fresh kale–cleaned, stems and center ribs cut and removed
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Tear kale into the size “chips” you desire. Toss kale in olive oil to coat. Place kale in a single layer on a baking sheet; top with salt and pepper (or other spices–see note below). Bake in oven for approx 30 min. You can check the crispiness at 20 min. then continue to cook until chips are crisp to your preference. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack.

The chips are best the same day, but can last one or two more days, stored in an airtight container. The light, airy crispy kale chips will go fast, so you won’t have to worry about storing them too long 🙂

*Note: This is just a basic recipe. Add any spice you like (i.e. cayenne, garlic, cumin, crushed red pepper, etc.) to the chips to change up the flavors.

Kale chips–surprisingly delicious!

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This recipe yields a rich, meaty chili recipe that features deer meat! The deer meat for this recipe is from a lean, steak cut that I diced into cubes. I added additional ground pork to balance out the gamey flavor of the deer. The chili base is super flavorful–feel free to substitute other meats (beef, ground turkey, sausage, etc.) or even adapt it to a vegetarian dish and double the beans. But if you are looking for rich, smokey chili…then use the more gamey deer meat and you will be satisfied!

The ingredient list may look intimidating, but I bet you already have most of these ingredients in your pantry! As for the “Roman beans,” you can find these in the international aisle of most supermarkets…if you can’t find them, go ahead and use pinto, kidney, or black…or a combination of them all 🙂 This recipe makes 10-12 servings…so you can easily feed a crowd (or freeze leftovers for later). Another bonus: you will notice…no extra salt used in this recipe. The flavors from the venison and spices are enough to hold their own. If you have a real salt-tooth, you may want to add a dash of salt to your bowl of chili; otherwise, enjoy a no-added-salt chili recipe!

Chuck-wagon Deer Chili 

  • 1 medium-large white onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • dash crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 red peppers, chopped
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 822 g can Roman beans
  • 6 ox can tomato paste
  • 1/4 tsp liquid smoke (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 lb venison (cut in approx 1/2 inch cubes)
  • 1 can light beer (or use 12 oz beef/chicken broth)
  • 1 dash ground mustard powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (use more or less depending on your spiciness preference)
  • vegetable oil (approx 1 Tbsp)
  • olive oil (approx 2 Tbsp)
  • sour cream (optional topping)

To make:

Fully cook deer meat in saute pan in approx 1 Tbsp vegetable oil, add a dash of crushed red pepper flakes. Set aside. In a large dutch oven or stew pot saute onions, celery, red peppers in 2 Tbsp olive oil until softened. Add garlic, saute another minute. Add tomato paste, stir and saute another minute–add about 3 Tbsp of water if mixture becomes too thick. Add ground pork to mixture and saute approx 3 minutes. Add cooked deer meat, cilantro, oregano, chili powder, cayenne pepper, ground mustard powder, liquid smoke and stir to combine (the mixture will be very thick). Stir in crushed and diced tomatoes. Lastly, gently stir in beans and beer. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 1 hour. Let cool slightly then serve up a heaping bowl topped with a dollop of sour cream…Enjoy!!

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Although I am not a hunter myself, my family (and new family) enjoy the sport of hunting. I…enjoy the sport of cooking what has been hunted 🙂 Venison is a generic name that can refer to either deer, elk, moose, caribou, antelope, etc. For the past few years, we have received a few types of venison (deer) from my father-in-law. One of my favorite ways to prepare the meat is sausage. The deer meat can be used just as you would use regular sausage or ground beef. Generally venison will have a stronger or “gamey” taste compared to its more tame beef cuts. In this recipe the gamey flavor is dulled a bit due to the acidity of the tomato sauce. The result is a rich tasting meat sauce perfect for cooking up a delicious lasagna.

Deer Sausage Lasagna

approx 1-2 lb ground venison sausage

1 medium white onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 (6 oz) can tomato paste

1 (20 oz) can diced tomatoes

1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce

1 Tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper (optional/to taste)

1-2 cups cottage cheese

2 cups ricotta cheese

1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian/flat leaf parsley

3 tsp grated nutmeg

1 egg (slightly beaten)

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or a mixture of Pecorino and Parmesan)

lasagna noodles (ready to bake or traditional–follow package instructions)

1 cup grated mozzarella cheese (or Italian blend) for topping

To make:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

brown deer sausage meat well

Begin with fully browning the venison. Usually I do not fully cook the meat when making traditional sauce, but in this case I fully cook the venison meat to ensure there will be no possible contaminants or bacteria from the fresh wild game processing. Drain and reserve meat to the side. In a large Dutch oven, or heavy pot, begin the sauce base: Saute onion and peppers in the olive oil until softened a bit. Add the garlic and cook another minute—do not over-cook or burn the garlic. Add the sausage and tomato paste, stir and cook just until well combined. Add diced tomatoes with juice and tomato sauce. Stir and simmer over medium-med/high heat for approximately 30 minutes until all flavors combine. Add salt and pepper to your taste (I actually don’t even add it to keep the sodium content lower). While the sauce is simmering, mix together the cheese layer. In a medium mixing bowl, combine cheeses (except mozzarella/Italian blend), nutmeg, parsley, and egg. To assemble the lasagna begin with a thin layer of meat sauce to coat the bottom of the pan, next a layer of noodles, then cheese mixture, then the meat sauce…repeat and end with the meat sauce on top. Sprinkle the topping mozzarella or Italian cheese blend over the sauce. Bake in 350 degree oven for 25 minutes covered with foil, remove, then cook additional 20 minutes (total cook time approx 45 minutes). Remove from oven and let cool for approximately 10-15  minutes. Slice and Enjoy!

Delicious Deer Lasagna

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