Blueberry Pie

Maybe the recipe should be named Biggest Bestest Blueberry Pie. I’ve now made 6 or 7 of these pies, and they are typically appreciated. Occasionally people have trampled each other to get the last piece. Once someone said, “That blueberry pie changed my life!” That’s a sure way to get me to bring one to your house for every party.

Pie crust: Filling:
2 cups flour 6 cups frozen blueberries (2 or 3 bags of Locavorious frozen berries)
1 t salt ¾ to 1 cup sugar depending upon your sweet tooth
2/3 cup unsalted butter 1/8 t salt
4 – 5 T ice cold water ½ t vanilla extract
  3 ½ to 7 T cornstarch
  1 ½ T butter, melted

This recipe is for a rather large pie….not one of those little 9″ pie pans…about an 11″ diameter pie. Hence the nearly 2 sticks o buttah and oodles of blueberries.

Put the flour salt and butter in a food processor and pulse until well blended. Add the water 1 T at a time, pulsing between additions, until dough forms, hopefully not too sticky & not too dry. Use your hands to mold the dough into 2 balls, one for the bottom crust and one for the top. If you want a lattice crust top, then one dough portion can be smaller. Refrigerate dough (wrapped in plastic wrap or wax paper) until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 375.

If you are reading this in the middle of July in Michigan, I hope you are using fresh local blueberries. All other times of the year frozen local berries are your ticket. If the frozen blueberries have been thawed, drain off the extra juice if desired. Combine blueberries, sugar, salt, vanilla and in a large bowl. Stir to combine. If blueberries have been thawed and drained then sprinkle with 3 T cornstarch; if blueberries are still frozen, sprinkle with 7 T cornstarch. Stir to thoroughly combine. Add melted butter and stir again.

Roll out bottom crust and lay into greased pie pan. Spoon blueberry mixture into the crust.

Roll out 2nd dough ball, and make strips. Lay out 4 or 5 dough strips in one direction, and then weave 4 or 5 dough strips perpendicular to the 1st set. (Alternatively, can just put a top crust on the pie and cut slits in it.) Place pie on a baking sheet covered with foil. Sprinkle lattice/top crust of pie with a little more sugar.

Bake at 375° for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Allow to cool for about an hour before serving. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Long of Naples squash with rice – two ways

I first heard of the “Long of Naples” heirloom squash from Richard Andres of Tantre Farm. It was mid-October. He said they had a lot of these large Italian heirloom hard squash ripening in the field. Richard recommended I try roasting some to freeze for Locavorious. I thought he was calling the squash the “Log of Naples” and although Log of Naples didn’t sound that appetizing….I was curious. Richard grows good food and if he was recommending it, my guess is it wouldn’t taste like a log. Fortunately, that day Tantre had brought large chunks of the Long of Naples to market, and our Tantre CSA share box included one of these large chunks.

Large chunks!

Of course, like all cyber-cooks, before dinner time I jumped online and Googled “Long of Naples” squash recipes…..and found one recipe. Only one. It was posted by a personal chef out of Chicago and was for Long of Naples squash bisque with sage cream, fried prosciutto and truffles. Hmmm, sounds nice, but too many fancy ingredients for a weeknight. I figured, let’s just see what this thing tastes like. So, with that first large chunk of Long of Naples squash, I roasted it in the oven for 45 minutes or so, straight up, nothing added. It’s juicier than butternut squash or pumpkin, and the Long of Naples has a more delicate flavor, almost reminiscent of melon. The color is such a vibrant orange that it charms me into thinking the taste is closer to that of carrots than other hard winter squashes. After roasting, the Long of Naples purees beautifully, and you can use that puree to make wonderful soups and bisques. I also discovered I loved the flavor combined with rice.

If you are lucky enough to have some roasted Long of Naples squash puree in your freezer, here are two recipes: baked brown rice with Long of Naples and a Long of Naples Risotto. As of this week, Morgan & York still had some Locavorious Long of Naples puree for sale in their freezer case too. (And if you’d like assistance, advice, or ingredients for risotto, Tommy York is your man.)

  1. Baked brown rice with Long of Naples Squash            

    2 T olive oil

    2 onions, chopped

    Optional variations: 1 cup chopped asparagus, mushrooms, peppers or other vegetables

    1 cup vegetable broth

    1 ¼ cup water

    2 cups frozen squash puree

    1 teas salt

    1 ½ cups brown rice

It’s easiest to prepare the rice in a dutch oven or aluminum pot that can go from stove top into the oven. Preheat oven to 375 F. Heat olive oil over medium heat; add onions and cook until soft. Thaw the squash in a microwave or hot water enough to loosen from container. Add squash, broth, water and salt to the pot and bring to a boil. Optional: add vegetables and let cook 1 minute. (The fall-meets-spring addition of asparagus works really well.) Add rice and stir. Remove from stovetop. (If not using oven-safe pot, transfer rice to greased casserole dish.) Cover and bake in oven for 65-70 minutes or until rice is tender.

Alternative preparation to avoid long baking time: Bring the rice and 2 cups of water to a low boil; simmer for about 25 minutes. Meanwhile, in a second pot sauté the onions in olive oil; when soft add the broth, squash puree and extra water to this pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium. Allow the soup to simmer and thicken for about 20 minutes. During the last minute, add other vegetables if desired. Combine the parboiled rice and squash broth into a greased casserole dish. Bake at 375 F for about 20-30 more minutes or until rice is tender.

  1. Long of Naples Squash Risotto

 

2 cups frozen squash puree, thawed enough to get out of container

~ 3 cups broth and/or water

¾ cup diced shallots

1 cup chopped mushrooms, fresh or frozen

1 T butter + 1-2 T olive oil

1 ½ cup Arborio rice

½ cup white wine

~ ½ cup frozen peas or chopped frozen green beans or chopped frozen sugar snap peas, slightly thawed

~ ¼ cup grated hard cheese, like really good Parmesan

        

In a medium saucepan, combine the squash and broth, bring to a boil, stir to combine thoroughly, and then turn heat way down low so that broth stays warm and ready. In a large saucepan, melt the butter and heat the olive oil, then sauté the shallots and mushrooms for a few minutes. Add the rice and stir for about 1 minute. Stir in wine and ~ 1/2 cup broth mixture; cook 3 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Continue to add broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of liquid is absorbed before adding the next. When your arm gets tired, enlist some help. Add the frozen peas or beans to the broth. When it’s finally time to add the last bit of broth, also add the peas or beans. Stir until the peas are heated through and the risotto has achieved a creamy consistency. Top each portion generously with grated cheese.

Squash risotto with a side of kale

Pumpkin muffins with chocolate chips

What else can you possibly do when your brother is sick on the weekend, and you are stuck in the house all day with your mom and your sick brother? You convince Mommy to help you bake something, and you carefully calculate what that something is such that she can’t say no, and Daddy can’t say no, and it is something that your brother will perk up enough to support. Pumpkin for Daddy, muffins for Mommy, and chocolate for your brother.

Rose, selfless chef in training, holds our creation, which indeed, as calculated, was very popular with everyone.

Adapted from a Cooking Light magazine recipe. “Adapted” as in used full fat ingredients, and added chocolate chips.

 

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1 T baking powder

1 t baking soda

1 t ground cinnamon

1/2 t salt

½ cup mini chocolate chips

15 oz frozen Locavorious pumpkin puree, thawed

3/4 cup sour cream

1/3 cup milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 t vanilla extract

1 large egg + 1 large egg white

Cooking spray

1 T sugar

1 1/2 t brown sugar

 

Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (flour through salt) in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture. (I thawed the pumpkin puree in the microwave, transferring it midway into a glass bowl to avoid heating the plastic container.)

Combine pumpkin puree and next 6 ingredients; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Spoon the batter into 18 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Let helper lick the bowl while you combine 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and brown sugar; sprinkle over muffins.

Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Remove muffins from pans immediately; begin cooling on a wire rack, but then eat them all before Passover begins. ;)

Edamame hummus and pate recipes

When I first started trying to eat predominantly locally grown and produced food, I was astonished to discover that every bag of grocery store edamame was imported from China. When I founded Locavorious, I was determined to find local farmers growing this delicious, healthy vegetable, and fortuitously met Charles Fry on a local food online forum.

All of the Locavorious edamame comes from the vision and hard work of 5th generation farmer Charles Fry of Old Fort, Ohio. I had the opportunity to catch up with Charles last winter and learn about him and his favorite sweet beans. Charles graduated from U of M with a degree in biochemistry and spent 20 years as a technology entrepreneur. He also worked 2 years for the nonprofit Innovative Farmers of Ohio. These past few years he’s back on his family’s land and is determined to “bring edamame to the Midwest.” We are, after all, already growing soybeans.

Charles gave an analogy that aptly sums up how edamame compares to soybeans raised today throughout the US: “Edamame soybean is to field soybeans what sweet corn is to field corn,” Fry said. “The varieties are selected for large beans with high sugar content, and they are harvested at the peak of ripeness when fully sized and ready to pick.” Edamame farmers harvest the beans when they are still green, and treat them like table vegetables, and do not let the beans dry in the field. (Traditional US commodity soy beans used for oil and animal feed are allowed to dry in the field and harvested when yellow and dry.)

Edamame is a historical foundation crop in Asia. The word “edamame” in Japanese translates as “beans on the bush” or “twig bean”. In Chinese, young soybeans in the pod are known as maodoujia which translates as “hairy bean pod.” Charles validated my observation – virtually every frozen bag of edamame found in US grocery stores today is grown in China, except a few % from Taiwan. Statistically, only a fraction of a % of edamame is grown in the US. It is still such a niche crop that it falls under “other” in USDA categories, but US consumption of edamame in the US is growing rapidly. I was in California last week on vacation and got all excited when I spotted “Melissa’s” brand organic edamame in a grocery store….but it was imported.

ANYWAY – not our edamame! Thank you, Charles! Fry Farms started with a 2 acre test plot of edamame in 2004, and by 2008 they grew 1000 acres. In 2009 they grew 1000 acres and convinced their neighbors to start growing it too. In 2009 Charles and his father formed the American Sweet Bean Company, a growers’ co-operative endeavor to grow and process the beans….hopefully bringing us Midwestern, non-GMO, yummy edamame.

The easiest way to enjoy edamame is just to boil the frozen pods for ~ 3 minutes, drain, and then sprinkle them with salt. Shell them as you eat them, like peanuts.

Here’s a great couple of party dip recipes that will look and taste great for St. Paddy’s day. How about this for multicultural fusion – take a traditional Asian crop grown in the Midwest, turn it into a Mediterranean bean dip and serve it for an Irish holiday:

Edamame – Roasted Garlic Hummus

2 cups shelled, cooked edamame

1/3 cup lemon juice

1/3 cup tahini

1 t salt

3 cloves roasted garlic (or more)

2 – 3 T cold water

Put everything (except water) in food processor and process a ~ 2 minutes. Scrape sides and process some more. Add water as needed to achieve a creamy consistency.

And from my friend and Locavorious member Patti – a lovely green and vegan “Edamame Pate”

1 ¼ cups thawed shelled edamame

1/2 c walnuts

1/2 c mint leaves

1 green onion, chopped

1/2 t salt

3 T lemon juice + 3 T water

Put the edamame, nuts, leaves, onion and salt into your food processor and process it up. With the motor running, add 3T lemon juice and 3T water and blend until smooth.

Afterthought – edamame are nutritional rock stars. Check this out – 1 cup of shelled edamame beans has 17 g of protein, 8 g dietary fiber, 20% of the daily recommended amount of iron, 16 % of vitamin C, and contains only 189 calories and 8 g of fat.

Pumpkin and Swiss chard lasagna

During one particularly ambitious October day in the Locavorious community kitchen, we washed, cut, de-seeded, roasted, scraped and pureed 55 pie pumpkins and 40 lbs of Long of Naples winter squash. Everything and everyone was orange and sticky. At the end of the day I was still not “pumpkin-ed out” and went home inspired to try new things with the pumpkin puree. After considering autumn dishes like pumpkin gnocchi and butternut squash ravioli, I thought – why not a pumpkin lasagna? The idea for the pumpkin-Swiss chard combo comes from a Food and Wine.com recipe. Including Swiss chard seemed like an excellent idea, especially since it’s a popular green thing in our house, but I thought the Food and Wine recipe lacked that ricotta-mozzarella richness of traditional lasagnas so loved in cold weather, so I moved the recipe in a comfy cheesy direction.

Most of our pumpkins came from Makielski Berry Farm just south of Ann Arbor on Platt Road; they are Sugar Baby and Mystic pie pumpkins. Locavorious also got some less common pumpkins from the Goetz’s – Long Island Cheese and Cinderella – less common but equally juicy and delicious. This year Capella Farm (right in Ann Arbor) and Green Bush Farm (Belleville) grew our Swiss chard. This recipe might work with the organic kale medley too.

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large onions, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

12 oz frozen Swiss chard, defrosted

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried sage

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

15 oz roasted pumpkin puree, defrosted

15 oz ricotta

2 cups shredded or chopped mozzarella

½ cup Parmesan + few Ts for top

3/4 cup cream or milk

12 whole wheat lasagna noodles – could also used no-boil or any sort of lasagna noodles

In a large nonstick frying pan, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the chard, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon sage, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. Cook, stirring a bit, until the chard is heated through, and no liquid remains in the pan, ~ 4 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Prepare the lasagna noodles (if necessary) and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together ~ 2/3rds of the pumpkin puree, the ricotta, mozzarella, a scant 1/2 cup Parmesan, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon sage, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and salt to taste. (I used ½ teas salt in the cheese mixture, but it could have used less.)

In a 9 x 13 or similar size baking dish, prepare the bottom to prevent sticking with either cooking spray, butter or pour in a little milk. Lay 3 noodles in the dish and then spread 1/3rd of the pumpkin-cheese mixture over the noodles. Spread 1/3rd of the Swiss chard mixture over the pumpkin. Repeat this noodle-pumpkin-chard layering two more times, and top with a final layer of noodles.

Next, combine the remaining pumpkin puree and 3/4 cup of cream or milk. Pour evenly over the top of the lasagna, sprinkle with the extra Parmesan. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30-40 minutes. Uncover and bake until golden, about 15-20 minutes more.

Cranberry Celebration Cocktail

 Are there any mixologists out there listening? What is this thing called?

1/2 oz Limoncello

2 oz cranberry juice

2 oz sparkling wine

A couple of frozen cranberries *or* 2 T mushed frozen raspberries

Gently mix the liquids and pour into a champagne flute; top with berries.

Whatever this drink is called, it’s yummy and was served by a friend of ours, Kelly, at the launch party of her new venture – making local, all natural, fresh baby food – YummyCubes! If you have an infant at home, check them out at www.yummycubes.com. If you have an infant or two at home, I know you need a drink or two also, so check out this cocktail. I’m really excited for Kelly, who, like me, left the corporate world to pursue what she was really passionate about- cooking and children’s health. After making all the baby food for her three kids (twin girls and a son) from scratch she knows how to make great fresh-frozen food for healthy babies.

So many reasons to celebrate! My sister just launched a new baby boy, so I’d like to raise a toast to my new nephew, Jacob, and I’ll spare you all the pictures. A fresh snow without a blizzard. The fabulous Burns Park Players show. Valentine’s Day. Another local piece of a healthy local food system in Michigan. Cheers!

PS –Let’s just call this the YummyCubes Celebration Party Cocktail

Veggie Barley Bake

Our charming book club hostess, Beth, served this dish for a cold winter evening dinner, and I went nuts for it. I think of barley as such a wonderful hearty and healthy grain, but it’s rarely served except as part of a beef barley soup, which gets kind of old in my opinion. Beth says she loves serving the veggie barley bake; kids eat it, it’s healthy with barley and lots of veggies, and it tastes like lasagna. What’s not to love about that? You can use whatever combination of veggies suits your fancy or your leftovers. You just need approximately 10 cups of chopped vegetables in all. For Locavorious members who haven’t eaten up all the veggies from last month yet, here’s a great recipe….answering the questions, “What should I make with this? And that?”

As I mentioned I went a little nuts for this dish, making a couple variations already and surprising Chef Jeff who usually expects spicier things to make my favorites list. Here are some versions:

  1. The Book Club Selection: green beans and sweet potatoes
  2. Locavorious This & That: 16 oz frozen summer squash, ½ bag of broccoli, ½ bag green beans, a handful of red peppers and some leftover snap peas.
  3. Rena’s Favorite So Far: 16 oz frozen cauliflower, 15 oz frozen Swiss chard, sweet potatoes

    Locavorious This & That in the pot.

The Veggie Barley Bake Formula 

2 tbsp oil                               

2 cloves minced garlic

1 onion, chopped

2 average carrots, sliced

9 – 10 cups chopped frozen vegetables

3/4 cup barley

15 oz frozen stewed tomatoes, thawed + ½ cup water *or* 1 1/2 cups tomato broth           

1 tsp salt

1 tsp. oregano                          

1 – 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Freshly ground black pepper 
 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Heat oil in large heavy skillet and sauté garlic and onion until softened, 3 -5 minutes.  Add remaining vegetables and sauté, stirring a few times, for 5 minutes.  Add barley, tomato broth, and seasonings; bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes. 

Transfer contents of the skillet to a shallow 4 quart casserole; stir in 1 cup of the cheese.  Cover and bake for 45 minutes.  Veggies and barley should be tender.  If not, cover and cook longer.  Top casserole with remaining cheese if desired and return to oven uncovered for about 10 minutes.

Mmmm…I think I’ll eat the rest.