The Kitchen Ecosystem: Integrating Recipes to Create Delicious Meals by Eugenia Bone, EPUB, 0385345127

December 4, 2017

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The Kitchen Ecosystem: Integrating Recipes to Create Delicious Meals by Eugenia Bone

  • Print Length: 416 Pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter
  • Publication Date: September 30, 2014
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00JCS7BQ2
  • ISBN-10: 0385345127
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385345125
  • File Format: EPUB

 

”Preview”

CONTENTS

Dedication

INTRODUCTION

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

About Substitutions

The Recipes

APPLES

APRICOTS

ARTICHOKES

ASPARAGUS

BEEF

BEETS WITH GREENS

CABBAGE

CARROTS WITH GREENS

CHERRIES

CHICKEN

CORN

CRANBERRIES

CUCUMBERS

CURRANTS

DUCK

FENNEL

FIGS

GINGER

GRAPES

LEMONS

LOBSTER

MUSHROOMS

Cultivated Mushrooms

Wild Mushrooms

MUSSELS

ONIONS

ORANGES

PEACHES

PEAS

PEPPERS: SWEET, CHERRY, AND HOT

PLUMS

PORK

RADISHES WITH GREENS

RASPBERRIES

RHUBARB

SALTWATER FISH

Salmon

Tuna

White-Fleshed Fish

SHRIMP

STRAWBERRIES

TOMATOES

TROUT

WATERMELONS

ZUCCHINI

CONDIMENTS, NECESSITIES, AND LUXURIES

Preserving and Recipe Techniques

ABOUT PRESERVATION

Water Bath Canning

Pressure Canning

Freezing

Curing

Smoking

Drying

Preserving in Oil

Preserving with Alcohol

A Final Word on Canning

How to Sterilize

Altitude Adjustments

RECIPE TECHNIQUES

Preparing Stocks

Preparing Pasta in Stocks

Preparing Juices

Preparing Granitas

Preparing Fruit Syrups

Preparing Ice Cream by Hand

Preparing Pastry by Hand

Preparing Crepes

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

LEAVE THE RECIPES BEHIND

INDEX

INTRODUCTION

There are three steps to preparing really delicious food: (1) make dishes with as many seasonal ingredients as possible, using some, while the ingredients are fresh, in dishes to eat that night, and preserving the rest to use in the off-season; (2) replace the commercial products in the pantry with homemade ones; and (3) prepare base recipes from the parts you usually throw away, like bones and peels, and use them to bump up the flavor of other dishes. That’s it.

But honestly? It took me twenty-five years to get there.

I suppose it started with preserving. I used to put up large batches of jams and jellies and pickles from recipes I read in preserving classics like Putting Food By. But I found it totally discouraging to spend a long, sweaty day prepping fruit and processing a dozen jars of jam only to have the whole batch end up loose or overly sweet or just nasty. And then, when the preserves did work out well, I was stuck with way more strawberry jam than anyone over the age of five could possibly consume.

So I started doing small-batch canning. I’d do just a few jars of any given product, about what I thought I’d use over the course of a year. This was a good solution because I found if I screwed it up, it wasn’t such a tremendous loss of time and treasure. What’s more, I discovered that by putting up only a couple of jars I could not only do a preservation recipe from whatever I was cooking for dinner that night, but I could also do it at the same time I was hanging around cooking in the kitchen anyway. If I was making a fresh tomato and watermelon salad, for example, I’d buy an extra pound or two of tomatoes and put up a pint jar. All it took was another burner on the stove.

It wasn’t long before I became interested in putting up all sorts of foods. Because the stakes are low in small-batch preserving, I felt at liberty to preserve a wider and wider array of products. I would think of the ingredients I used in a dish—say, beef, carrots, thyme, and pearl onions—and I would pressure can a couple of pints of this combo so I could make a beef pot pie by just opening the jar and adding a puff pastry crust. If fresh ginger was cheap and crisp in a Chinatown market, I’d buy enough to cook with a fish for dinner, ferment some for ginger soda, and make a cup of ginger syrup to hold in the fridge for a week or so. With the syrup, I’d flavor panna cotta and poached pears. If I found a load of wild mushrooms I might cook them with osso buco for dinner, then dry the remainder, to add to soups and sauces another day.

As I became a more experienced home cook and preserver, I recognized the potential of the scraps left over from preparing fresh or preserved foods. I hated to throw away the bones and peels of foods because I knew they had flavor in them. It seemed a waste to get rid of the, well, waste. So I started to turn scraps into stocks and marinades, granitas, zests, and juices; by-products that made my recipes taste much better.

Whether it was drawn from fresh or preserved foods, my cooking really improved as a result of my collection of homemade supplemental ingredients. Eventually it became habitual. After I’ve cooked a chicken I dump the bones into a stockpot instead of the garbage and make a small amount of stock. I might make stracciatella with the stock for dinner, or can it for another day. I save the boiled disks of ginger left over from making syrup, candy them, and make ginger-studded chocolate bark. I’ll zest all my oranges before juicing them and make up a batch of orange bitters or a bottle of orange baking extract. I don’t do all this right away: I don’t cook constantly. But I get to most things in the fridge eventually. Many times my daughter has pulled a bag of parsley stems out of the fridge and asked, “Are you really saving this, Ma? Really?”

So I discovered that most of my favorite ingredients could be used in three ways: I could eat some fresh, preserve some, and turn the stuff I would normally toss into useful ingredients. My kitchen was becoming an ecosystem, and I was creating, in essence, a kind of perpetual pantry. Preserved foods and products made from preparing one dish could boost the flavor in the next dish, which in turn generated even more preserved foods, and so on.

I actually became rather infatuated with how many dishes I could spin off an ingredient. I even drew cladograms, which are like family trees, to help me visualize just how many recipes could be squeezed out of a couple of pounds of something. For example, from a few pounds of asparagus I’ll make roasted asparagus with garlic or an asparagus and Parmesan cheese frittata. Then I’ll pickle a pint to use in a salad of cauliflower with pickled asparagus and chopped herbs, and freeze a half-pint of asparagus pesto to use as a sauce for ravioli or broiled fish.

But once I started using the scraps and peels and bones and shells—the waste stream of foods—I upgraded to Preserving 2.0. When you prepare asparagus to preserve (or cook), you usually discard the lower half of the spear because it is hard and stringy. But it’s also full of flavor. Asparagus ends can be boiled in water, then pressed through a food mill to make an aromatic asparagus stock. This stock can be pressure canned or frozen or used right away. I use that stock to make even more recipes, like asparagus-flavored risotto (which can be garnished with shrimp or another vegetable) or spaghettini cooked in the asparagus stock and topped with grated ricotta salata or homemade ricotta.

I found flavor in the scraps of many foods: The bones and shells from fish, poultry, and meat make stocks and sauces, as do the pods and leaves and stems of mushrooms and vegetables and herbs; fat can be rendered and strained and reused; leftover marinades and pickling liquid from putting up pickles can be repurposed after the pickles are all eaten; the watery juice produced while prepping fruits for processing can be preserved separately, to make granitas and cocktails and sodas; and the peels of some fruits can be used to make pectin and zests.

Along the way I started to replace the commercial condiments I regularly use with homemade condiments, because I found that whenever I used homemade mayo instead of commercial mayo in a recipe, the dish tasted better. Open your refrigerator door: Almost everything in there can be made pretty easily. It used to be that when I was out at the market shopping for, say, beef to roast, and knew I needed horseradish, I could never remember if I had any. So I’d buy a jar and then when I got home I’d realize I had one open in the fridge and another in the pantry from the last time I made this same mistake. But once I started to make my own horseradish, I never forgot I had it. I think when you preserve a food it becomes a little more meaningful.

Cooking is not a full-time job for most of us. If a recipe is convoluted or really labor-intensive, it’s very hard for me to fold it into my lifestyle. However, if I can preserve or glean useable flavoring agents from the foods I have to prepare for dinner anyway, then I’ll do it. Often that means making nanobatches: I don’t turn up my nose at making just a pint of stock. Why not? It’s handy. And over time, my pantry and freezer and fridge have become loaded with lovely preserved foods and useful by-products that lend flavor and convenience to the daily job of making dinner.

I have what amounts to a kitchen ecosystem: a set of interconnected recipes and foods that defines my palate, which is mostly Mediterranean, primarily Italian. It also reflects my politics, because I believe in supporting regional, organic food producers. By eating regionally I am keep my dollars local and what’s more, by preserving I keep my dollars local year-round. And the small chores of maintaining an array of support ingredients like stock actually save me time and money when it comes to putting dinner together. Usually all I have to do is buy the main fresh ingredient, like a chicken or a bunch of beets, and I can rustle up a couple of meals.

COBS SAVED FOR STOCK

Shopping is key to cooking. If you use fresh, ripe locally grown vegetables and fruits, animals that have been raised with care, and wild products, your cooking will taste better. But beyond this commonsense approach, binging on seasonal foods is the healthiest and most natural way to eat. When my daughter was little she’d eat avocados for a month, then switch to a month of eating hot dogs, and so on. I worried she wasn’t getting proper nutrition. But when I consulted her pediatrician he said that if I looked at what she ate over the course of a year, I would see she was actually getting a pretty well-rounded diet. This was a revelation to me, and it reinforces the wisdom of seasonal eating. The only way you can get a range of foods in a daily diet is if you eat some foods out of season, and those foods must, of course, be picked early and processed to accommodate the stress of shipping. Since out-of-season foods are less nutritious than seasonal foods, I think the whole idea of a daily food pyramid is bogus. So I have embraced the idea of a well-rounded annual diet, and jag on seasonal foods while they are at their nutritional peak. And just to keep it interesting and tasty, I augment my local and seasonal diet with preserved foods, put up when they were best sourced and at their freshest.

In the last five years or so, lots of people have gotten interested in preserving foods. I love it: It feels like a revolution. But I think the next step is to value and use the waste streams of our foods. Most of us make stock from the Thanksgiving turkey carcass, but to cook better every day we need to have on hand a single pint of stock from the hard shiitake mushroom stems, or a single pint of chicken stock from the bony back of a roasted chicken. We need to catch juices, render fats, reserve waters vegetables were boiled in, save herb stems and cheese rinds and citrus zests, and use them to enhance our cooking. This is how my Italian grandmother cooked. It is thrifty, and it produces robust taste. Very flavorful food is not a matter of one exceptional recipe—although there are many of those. It is a matter of thinking of your kitchen as a system.

THE BAR CABINET, WITH HOME-CANNED CRANBERRY JUICE, LIMONCELLO, APRICOT SHRUB, AND ORANGE BITTERS.

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

The ingredients in this book were selected in large part because they are foods that produce edible waste streams. I don’t have a string bean or blueberry section, for example, because you eat the whole thing. But some foods are included because I use what’s left over from cooking or preserving them, like the brine from pickling onions or zucchini. So this collection is really more idiosyncratic than prescriptive. In fact, I hope it will provide as much inspiration to do your own thing as it does actual recipes to follow. Because ultimately, the recipes you use are a reflection of your kitchen ecosystem: what makes sense for you and your region, your lifestyle, and your palate.

This book, this kitchen ecosystem, is riddled with cross-references. They point to recipes for homemade versions of ingredients, like chicken stock or vanilla extract, and instructions like altitude adjustments, and substitutions that explain how you can do the same recipe with a different ingredient. I would have loved to publish every recipe as a unique document, but I haven’t for two reasons. First, it would make reading the book rather redundant to see water bath processing instructions over and over again, and secondly, it would have made for such a huge book you’d probably end up using it as a doorstop, rather than, well, using it. So cross-referencing was a trade-off. Don’t let it drive you crazy. I mean, I use home-canned tomatoes, but you don’t have to. However, if you find yourself attracted to recipes that call for them, maybe this fall you should give canning them a whirl.

I have a pretty well equipped kitchen, and there are tools that I highly recommend, like a food processor, for big jobs like breaking up horseradish or shrimp shells, an immersion blender for fast in-pot purees, and a food mill for separating out the skins and seeds from fruits and vegetables. A candy thermometer is helpful if you are going to make jams and jellies without pectin, and stuff like yogurt and ricotta. And definitely you need tools for some preserving projects, like a pressure canner (which is described in “Pressure Canning”), but these conveniences aren’t what make my food taste good. While I got my palate and many recipes from my father, who is a very fine cook, I actually learned how to cook on a hot plate and a toaster oven. After a few years, I added a Cuisinart food processor, a birthday gift from my parents. I cooked using that setup in a grungy dark loft in lower Manhattan from 1981 to 1988, when I married into a kitchen with a window. So while the gizmos of cooking are very useful, I can tell you from experience that good cooking is not the result of stuff. It’s the result of practice.

About Substitutions

Many primary ingredients can be substituted for one another in recipes. And I love all kinds of substitutions. It’s the first step in recipe development and once you get a feel for it, great fun. Here’s a guideline to substitutions for the recipes in this book:

Baked goods: All the cakes can be muffins, just bake them for 5 to 10 minutes less. All the muffins can be cakes, but to be on the safe side, cook muffin recipes in tube cake pans. Cakes take 5 to 10 minutes longer to bake. The ultimate test is when you can smell a baked product; that usually means it’s done.

Citrus: Oranges, grapefruit, and lemons are interchangeable in the marmalade recipe, and any combination of the three will work. Likewise, the zests are interchangeable in recipes but keep in mind, lemon has the strongest flavor, grapefruit the most subtle.

Dairy products: You can substitute crème fraîche for sour cream, or use it as a substitute for a whipped cream topping. Plain yogurt and sour cream can be substituted for one another in recipes that don’t call for baking.

Herbs: You can substitute any tender herb (parsley, tarragon, cilantro, basil, chervil) with another, in both fresh and preserved recipes. It will change the flavor of the recipe, but you may love the result.

Fresh berries: All the berries and cherries are interchangeable in the dessert recipes.

Dried fruits: Any of the dried fruits used in sweet recipes can be substituted with other dried fruits.

Fruit jams: You can make a crostata or shortbread, or stuff a crepe, ricotta ball, scones, or fried ravioli with any jam (but not a jelly—it liquefies).

Fruit juices and syrups: Any fruit juice or fruit syrup can make a granita or a soda, and you can combine juices. Why not? I often do when I don’t have enough of one flavor.

Fruit preserves: You can make the skillet tart recipes or the rice pudding with any fresh fruit or fruit preserve (not a jam or jelly). Just strain off the excess syrup and save it for a granita.

Fruit purees: You can make dessert soufflés, coffee cake, yeast buns, or panna cotta with any fruit puree, including fresh.

Fish and shellfish: You can substitute any white-fleshed saltwater fish for another. The main thing to keep in mind is the cut of fish, as the cut affects timing: Fillets are more delicate and take less time to cook than steaks. Shrimp and scallops are interchangeable in recipes.

Greens: Broccoli rabe, beet greens, radish greens, and feral greens, separately or in combination, are interchangeable.

Mushrooms: All the mushroom species are interchangeable, with two exceptions: porcini for making dried porcini powder; and candy caps. As candy caps are the only sweet mushroom in this book, you really can’t substitute them.

Pasta: You can substitute rigatoni or shells for penne, spaghettini for linguine fini, and spaghetti for linguine.

Pestos: You can use the pea, asparagus, nettle, and ramps pestos interchangeably. You can make pestos thinned with oil with any tender herb and you can use any type of nut.

Stock: Any stock can be used to cook pasta or make risotto as long as it isn’t too thick (and if it is, add water to make it about the consistency of skim milk). Just remember the corn stock is sweet. You can make any of the soup recipes with any stock except for the seafood stocks, which are best in seafood recipes.

Apples, Smoked Pork Butt, and Onion Sauté

This is excellent served on a TV tray with a dark beer on Super Bowl Sunday. Cortland, Granny Smith, and Rome Beauties are all good apples to use as their flesh maintains its integrity well under heat. SERVES 4

2 to 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1½ pounds smoked pork butt, cut into 8 slices (½ inch thick)

2 large onions, cut horizontally into 8 slices (½ inch thick)

2 baking apples, cored and cut horizontally into 8 rings (½ inch thick)

½ cup apple cider

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

A few sprigs of fresh thyme (optional)

In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-low heat. Add the pork and cook until golden on both sides, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pork to a platter and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Cook the pork (and the onions and apples) in batches depending on the size of your skillet. You will need to add additional butter to grease the bottom of the skillet between batches.

Add the onion slices to the pan. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until just golden. It’s okay if they blacken a bit on the edges. Remove the onions and add them to the platter with the pork.

Add 2 more tablespoons of butter if the pan seems dry. Once the butter is melted, add the apples and cook until they pick up some golden color, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the apples to the platter with the pork and onions.

Pour the apple cider into the pan and scrape up the browned bits as the cider boils. Cook until reduced by half. Return the pork butt, onions, and apples to the pan, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer to meld the flavors.

Serve promptly, garnished with thyme, if you’d like.

Stewed Apples with Red Cabbage

My friend Bart Byuck taught me this recipe. It is a traditional dish from his hometown of Ghent in Belgium. When I made it for him he closed his eyes, chewing in a kind of nostalgic reverie. Use Jonathans, Granny Smiths, or Galas in this recipe, or you can use applesauce. This dish is usually served with a plain pork sausage cooked on the grill. Save the apple peels for Apple Peel Jelly Stock. SERVES 4

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 cups finely sliced red cabbage (1 small head)

2 cups chopped peeled apples or 1 pint applesauce (for homemade)

1 bay leaf

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the cabbage, cover, and cook until the cabbage is wilted, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the apples, bay leaf, cloves, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook until the apples are hot and tender, 3 to 4 minutes longer.

Baked Apples with Bread Pudding

I am not a huge fan of sweet baked apples, but I kept making them half hoping something would change. Then something did. I made a bread pudding and put a couple of smashed baked Cortland and Jonathan apples on top, then put the whole thing in the oven. You can also chop peeled apples and add them to the custard when you add the bread, which makes the bread pudding perhaps a bit less primitive looking. Sometimes I substitute the chopped apples and brandy with pitted sweet cherries and hazelnut liqueur. I like to serve this pudding for breakfast or as a dessert with Eggnog. SERVES 8

APPLES

4 small or 2 large baking apples (about 1 pound)

4 teaspoons light brown sugar

2 tablespoons raisins (for homemade)

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut up

1 cup apple cider

BREAD PUDDING

1 cup heavy cream

1 large egg plus 2 large egg yolks, beaten together

⅓ cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons brandy

3 cups cubed bread (I like firm white sandwich bread, brioche, or challah best)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter (for the pan)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

For the apples: Slice off the stem end of the apples and scoop out the core and seeds, making a cavity inside the apple large enough to hold 2 tablespoons. I use a melon baller for this. Slice the blossom ends off the apples so they’ll stand upright.

Dividing evenly, stuff the apple cavities with the brown sugar, raisins, and orange zest. Top each apple with butter.

Place the apples in a baking pan where they fit snuggly (I use a loaf pan) and pour in the cider. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the apples are soft. Remove them and set aside. Leave the oven on.

Meanwhile, for the bread pudding: In a large bowl, whisk together the cream, eggs, granulated sugar, and brandy. Add the bread and let it soak while you butter an 8-inch baking dish.

Pour the bread and custard into the baking dish. With a metal spatula, gently smash the baked apples until they are flattened. Place the apples on top of the pudding.

Place the baking dish in a roasting pan that is larger and deeper. Pour in enough very hot water to come halfway up the sides of the baking dish.

Place the pudding in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until the bread is golden and the custard set. Do not overcook bread pudding or it will get tough.

EGGNOG

I drizzle eggnog over the bread pudding with baked apples. I also sometimes serve the eggnog in a shot glass alongside, for diners to either pour on the bread pudding or drink. MAKES 1½ CUPS

1 cup whole milk

½ cup sugar

3 large egg yolks, beaten

¼ cup bourbon

¼ cup heavy cream

Pinch of grated nutmeg

In a medium pot, combine the milk and sugar and heat over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the egg yolks, whisking all the while. Cook until the mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool. Stir in the bourbon, heavy cream, and nutmeg. Chill.

Applesauce

The best applesauce is made from sweet apples like Cortland or Jonathan (or better yet, a combination of sweet apples), not tart apples like Granny Smiths, which need more sugar. A hand-cranked food mill is the best tool for making applesauce (and tomato sauce and many other things). You can also use a food processor or potato masher, but you should peel and core the apples before cooking them if you do. Save the peels and cores for Apple Peel Jelly Stock. MAKES 3 TO 4 PINTS

3 pounds sweet apples (about 9 medium)

2 to 4 cups cider, unsweetened apple juice, or water, or a combination

Sugar

Flavorings (optional): Calvados, grated orange zest, ground cinnamon, or grated nutmeg

Quarter the apples and core. (Also peel them if you are using a food processor.) Pour the cider into the bottom of a big pot. There needs to be enough liquid to come up at least 2 inches in the pot. Add the apples, cover, and place over medium-low heat. Cook until the apples are soft, about 15 minutes.

Allow the apples to cool, then scoop them out with a slotted spoon and press them through a food mill.

There will be excess juice in the bottom of the pan after cooking the apples. Pour it into a sterilized jar and refrigerate it. Drink it straight or use it to make Apple Juice Granita.

Pour the applesauce into a medium pot and bring to a boil. Add sugar to taste, and stir to dissolve the sugar, then turn off the heat. If you’d like, you can flavor your applesauce at this point. Spike it with Calvados, orange zest, cinnamon, or nutmeg … none of which will affect the processing instructions.

Have ready 4 clean pint jars and bands, and new lids that have been simmered in hot water to soften the rubberized flange. You can also do half-pints, or a combination of pints and half-pints. Spoon the applesauce into the jars leaving ½ inch of headroom. Wipe the rims, place on the lids, and screw on the bands fingertip tight.

Process the jars in a water bath for 15 minutes. Eight half-pints are processed for the same amount of time, and 2 quarts are processed for 20 minutes. Be sure to make altitude adjustments when preserving. The fruit at the top of the jar may darken over time. It’s okay.

LADY APPLE BASIL JELLY

Lady Apple Basil Jelly

Delicate, with an herby fragrance, this jelly firms up well because apple skins are full of pectin. It has a beautiful pale color, too. You can flavor it with fresh thyme or mint instead of the basil if you’d like, or forgo the herbs altogether. MAKES 2 HALF-PINTS

2 pounds lady apples, halved, with blossom ends and stems removed

1½ cups sugar

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

About 6 large basil leaves

Place the apples in a large pot with enough water to just cover (about 4 cups). Boil the apples gently over medium-high heat, covered, until the fruit is soft, about 30 minutes. The apples will look like they have exploded. Don’t mash the apples. Take the pot off the heat, uncover, and allow the apples to cool in the cooking liquid.

Arrange a jelly bag or a sieve lined with two layers of cheesecloth over a deep pot. Wet the bag or cheesecloth so it doesn’t absorb any of the juice. Ladle the apples and their cooking liquid into the jelly bag and let the juice drip through into the pot. (It’s okay to squeeze the jelly bag to speed things up, because although this is a murky juice, it becomes clear when you boil the juice with the sugar.) Measure the juice. You should have about 2 cups. If you have more or less that’s okay. Just adjust the sugar accordingly. You can prepare the juice ahead of time and refrigerate. It holds well for 2 to 3 days.

Place the juice, sugar, and lemon juice in a heavy-bottomed 6- to 8-quart pot. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat, allowing the sugar to gently dissolve. Increase the heat and boil the juice hard for about 15 minutes, then add the basil leaves and boil hard for a few minutes more. Watch the bubbles: When the jelly bubbles seem to increase their volume, and take on color, the jelly is usually ready. Check the temperature with a candy thermometer. It will jell at 220°F at sea level, or 8°F over boiling temperature wherever you are. (To calculate the boiling temperature at your altitude, see here). Or you can test the jelly by letting a spoonful cool in the fridge for a couple of minutes. If the jelly drips off the spoon in dribbles, it’s not ready. If it shears off the spoon in a single drop, it is.

Have ready 2 sterilized half-pint jars and bands, and new lids that have been simmered in hot water to soften the rubberized flange. (See “How to Sterilize.”) Remove the basil leaves and spoon the jelly into the jars leaving ¼ inch of headroom. Wipe the rims, place on the lids, and screw on the bands fingertip tight.

Process the jars in a water bath for 5 minutes. Process a 1-pint jar for the same amount of time. Be sure to make altitude adjustments when preserving.

POTATO PANCAKES WITH APPLESAUCE

Potato Pancakes with Applesauce

Around Hanukkah every year my friend Diane throws a potato pancake party. Hers are the best I’ve ever had. They are rich and light, crispy and potato-y, and blessedly easy to make. My small contribution to the party is homemade applesauce. The trick to these pancakes is to fry them in small batches. Diane knocks herself out to make a hundred of them for a party, but I think 16 pancakes for 4 people are perfect. They make a great side dish, too, and are wonderful with a piece of broiled fish on top. You can refrigerate the pancakes for a few days after frying them, or freeze them for up to 2 months. The baking step will crisp them up beautifully. SERVES 4/MAKES 14 TO 16 PANCAKES

4 large baking potatoes (about 4 pounds)

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

Dash of ground cinnamon

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup minced onion

2 large eggs, beaten

Neutral oil, such as safflower, for frying

1 cup applesauce (homemade)

1 cup sour cream (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Peel the potatoes and place them in a bowl of cold water.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Pat the potatoes dry and grate them on the large holes of a grater. Long grated shreds are best. You will get about 1 heaping cup of grated potato per baking potato. Place the grated potatoes in a large bowl, add the onions, and toss well. Add the flour mixture and toss well, breaking up the clumps. This may take a bit of time as the dry ingredients must be well distributed. Add the eggs and combine well.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat about 1 inch of oil over high heat. Test the heat by inserting a little piece of potato in the oil. If it bubbles violently, the oil is ready.

Using a slotted spoon, scoop up a spoonful of the potato mixture, allowing excess liquid to drain off. Drop the spoonful of potatoes into the oil. Add more spoonfuls of potatoes. I usually fit 8 to 10 pancakes in a large skillet. Fry until just golden, about 2 minutes on each side. Do not flip the pancakes over until they are golden on the underside, otherwise they will fall apart and may get greasy. They will not be cooked through. It’s okay, because they finish cooking in the oven. Drain on brown paper bags or paper towels. Continue until all of the potato mixture is used. As you get toward the bottom of the bowl, the potatoes will be wetter. They will take a bit of pressing to remove the extra liquid, and will take a bit longer to cook. If you’re using a large skillet you probably won’t need to add more oil, but if you do add oil, then wait until the oil has come up to a high heat before adding more pancakes.

Arrange the pancakes on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes on each side. They will turn a rich golden brown. They may need to be blotted on a paper towel before serving. Season with salt to taste.

Serve with applesauce and sour cream, if you like.

Applesauce Cake with Raisins and Walnuts

You can substitute the raisins with currants, dried cranberries, dried cherries, or bits of dried apricots, and the walnuts with pecans if you’d like, but keep to the quantities in the recipe or the cake could be heavy. This light and spicy cake is great on its own and I serve it simply with whipped cream; but a confectioners’ sugar glaze is good, and a cream cheese or fudge frosting is luscious. You can make a dozen cupcakes with this recipe, too. They will take about 10 minutes less time in the oven. MAKES ONE 9-INCH TUBE CAKE (10-CUP CAPACITY)

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 cup applesauce (homemade)

1½ cups all-purpose flour

¾ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

½ cup golden raisins (for homemade)

½ cup chopped walnuts

¾ teaspoon vanilla extract (for homemade)

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter a 9-inch tube pan.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the applesauce until well combined. The batter will look curdled. It’s okay.

In a second large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Measure out 2 tablespoons of the flour mixture and transfer to a small bowl. Add the raisins and walnuts and toss them in the flour.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and combine well, but do not beat beyond combining or the crumb of the cake will be tougher. Stir in the vanilla and the flour-coated fruit and nut mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared tube pan. Tap the pan on the counter to distribute the batter evenly. Bake for about 45 minutes, until you can smell the cake and a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for a few minutes, then turn the cake out onto a rack to cool completely.

Apple Peel Jelly Stock

Jelly stock is a thick, pectin-rich juice that can be added to help low-pectin jams and jellies jell. How much jelly stock to use in canning is a bit of an art form, but in general, add 1 cup jelly stock to every 2 cups of fruit juice or 2 pounds of mashed fruit. Then use a recipe for jelly or jam using liquid pectin and that particular fruit to determine sugar and acid (usually lemon juice) quantities and canning instructions. Jelly stock can be frozen for up to a year. For small-batch canning, it is useful to freeze the jelly stock in ½-cup quantities. MAKES 1 CUP

2 pounds apple peelings, seeds, and cores (green apple peels have the highest pectin)

4 cups water

Place the apples and water in a deep, heavy-bottomed pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and cook until the peels and cores are mushy, about 20 minutes.

Arrange a jelly bag or a sieve lined with two layers of cheesecloth over a deep pot. Wet the bag or cheesecloth so it doesn’t absorb any of the juice. Ladle the apples and their water into the jelly bag and let the juice drip through into the pot. This can take a few hours. You should have about 2 cups of juice.

Pour the juice into a heavy-bottomed pot and boil over medium-high heat until the juice is reduced by half, about 20 minutes.

Jelly stock holds in the fridge for a few days, or you can freeze it. (See “How to Freeze Foods.”)

APPLE JUICE GRANITA (GREAT WITH GINGER COOKIES)

Apple Juice Granita

The apple juice left over from cooking apples for applesauce is a treasure. It is very intense and sweet. Feel free to experiment with warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. A shot of Calvados (apple brandy) in this granita is pretty tasty, too. You can also make this granita with commercial unsweetened apple juice or apple cider. SERVES 4

3 cups apple juice

½ cup sugar

¼ cup orange juice (optional)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Prepare according to the technique for making granitas.

Braised Chicken with Apricots and Tarragon

I make this recipe with chicken thighs that I collect over the course of a few whole chicken purchases, but a mixture of parts will do. The bright taste of the apricots is especially nice with tarragon, though you can play with other herbs as well, like parsley or cilantro. It’s a lovely summer dish. SERVES 4

8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

¼ cup chopped guanciale (pork jowl), pancetta, or bacon

2 tablespoons minced garlic

10 whole cloves

2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon

⅔ cup dry white wine

1 heaping cup pitted fresh apricots, halved if small and quartered if large (about 4 large apricots or ½ pound)

Freshly ground black pepper

Chicken stock (optional; for homemade)

Place the chicken skin-side down in a large cast-iron skillet or nonstick skillet. Sprinkle the guanciale, garlic, the cloves, and 1 tablespoon of the tarragon on top of the chicken. Pour the wine around the meat.

Cover the skillet and place it over medium-low heat. Cook until the chicken is nicely browned, about 25 minutes, then flip the meat over, allowing the other ingredients to spread throughout the pan. Add the apricots and remaining 1 tablespoon tarragon and cook for 5 to 10 minutes longer to finish browning the chicken. You may not need to salt this dish but a few grinds of black pepper are very good. If the dish seems a bit dry at any point, add a little water or chicken stock to the skillet.

Remove the cloves before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.

BAKED APRICOTS WITH MASCARPONE CREAM

Baked Apricots with Mascarpone Cream

This is a simple dessert that really showcases the wonderful sweet and tart flavor of fresh apricots. I like to garnish the apricots with a sprinkle of crushed amaretti cookies (which seem to last in my cabinet for years), but crushed biscotti or graham crackers work well, too. SERVES 4

4 large fresh apricots, halved and pitted

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into little bits

4 tablespoons sugar

8 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature

½ cup heavy cream

½ cup crushed amaretti cookies

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Lay the apricots in a baking dish or skillet cut side up in a single, snug layer. (I like to use an 8-inch cast-iron skillet.) Sprinkle the butter over the apricots, then sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the sugar.

Bake the apricots for about 5 minutes, or until tender but not browned. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the mascarpone cheese and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the heavy cream to soft peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone cheese.

To serve, spoon the mascarpone cream into the cavities of the apricots and sprinkle with crushed amaretti.

Canned Apricots and Raisins

It’s best not to can very ripe apricots or you’ll end up with mushy fruit. Apricots continue to ripen after being picked, so keep that in mind when planning to can. I always put up a few pints of these apricots in order to make Apricot-Raisin Skillet Tart, my go-to, last-minute dessert. You can leave out the raisins if you’d like. You will have excess syrup; save it for Apricot Shrub. MAKES 3 PINTS

3 cups water

1 cup sugar

2½ pounds fresh apricots (about 20), halved and pitted

3 tablespoons golden raisins (for homemade)

Have ready 3 clean pint jars and bands, and new lids that have been simmered in hot water to soften the rubberized flange.

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the apricots. As soon as the syrup comes to a boil again, stir in the raisins, and take the pot off the heat.

Remove the apricots and raisins with a slotted spoon and drop them into the pint jars. Pack the apricots loosely. Pour the syrup over the apricots leaving ½ inch headroom. Wipe the rims, place on the lids, and screw on the bands fingertip tight.

Process the jars in a water bath for 20 minutes. Be sure to make altitude adjustments when preserving. The apricots may float. It’s okay. There may be some discoloring of the fruit at the top of the jar over time. That’s okay, too.

Apricot-Orange Puree

Some years the apricots I get are very meaty, other years more juicy. This is a reality of orchard-fresh fruit, and it means that you have to adjust recipes a bit. If the apricots are very juicy you’ll want to cook them a bit longer in order to thicken this puree, which should be about as thick as porridge. (You can make this puree chunky, too—it will not affect the processing.) This is a great sauce to spoon onto Orange Olive Oil Pound Cake, to pour onto pancakes, or flavor Beulah’s Apricot-Orange Ice Cream. MAKES 4 HALF-PINTS

2 pounds fresh apricots (about 16), halved and pitted

1½ cups sugar

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

¼ cup orange juice

In a blender or food processor, combine the apricots, sugar, lemon juice, and orange juice and puree. Pour the apricot puree into a large heavy-bottomed pot and bring to a boil over medium-low heat. Boil gently, uncovered, until the mixture thickens to the consistency of porridge, about 20 minutes.

Have ready 4 sterilized half-pint jars and bands, and new lids that have been simmered in hot water to soften the rubberized flange. Pour the puree into the jars leaving ¼ inch of headroom. Wipe the rims, place on the lids, and screw on the bands fingertip tight.

Process the jars in a water bath for 5 minutes. Be sure to make altitude adjustments when preserving. There may be some discoloring of the fruit at the top of the jar over time. It’s okay.

Dried Apricots

Dried apricots should be leathery but pliable. If the weather is humid, it will take longer for the apricots to dry. Commercial apricots are usually treated with the preservative sulfur dioxide, which ensures a very soft, bright orange product. Without sulfur, dried apricots are a bit tougher and darker in color, even with an ascorbic acid soak. I use dried apricots in Apricot Chocolate Truffles; or as a substitute for raisins in Applesauce Cake and Granola with Raisins; or to replace the cherries in Dried Cherry Chunkies. MAKES ½ POUND

4 cups water

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons ascorbic acid (to mitigate discoloration)

3 pounds fresh apricots (about 30), halved and pitted

In a large bowl, combine the water and ascorbic acid. Mix to dissolve the acid and add the apricots. Allow them to soak for 10 minutes.

Drain the apricots and place them cut side up in the trays of a food dehydrator (or see here for instructions on oven-drying). Do not pack them tightly. It is better to give the apricots a bit of space. Set your dryer to 135°F. The apricots should take about 12 hours. See “How to Dry” for information on “conditioning” the dried apricots.

APRICOT-RAISIN SKILLET TART

APRICOT-RAISIN SKILLET TART

Apricot-Raisin Skillet Tart

This is the fastest, easiest tart that I make. You can use any of your canned fruit in it, like Canned Cherries. Save the drained syrup to make Apricot Shrub. SERVES 4

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, for buttering the pan

1 pint Canned Apricots and Raisins

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup slivered blanched almonds (optional)

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator

Crème fraîche (for homemade) or whipped cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Butter an 8-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet. (Unless you have an awesomely seasoned cast-iron skillet, using anything other than nonstick will disappoint.) Drain the apricots and pour them into the skillet. Add the sugar. If you’d like, add the slivered almonds. They add texture.

Cut out a round of puff pastry the size of the pan and place it on top of the apricots. Punch holes all over the pastry with the tines of a fork (to let the steam out).

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed up and golden. Remove the skillet and let cool a bit. Remember the handle of the skillet is very hot and stays hot (I’ve gotten some horrid burns from making this dish). The pastry will deflate some. It’s okay.

Flip the tart over onto a serving plate. Serve with crème fraîche or whipped cream.

Beulah’s Apricot-Orange Ice Cream

Years ago I learned how to make Apricot-Orange Puree from Beulah Fletcher of Paonia, Colorado, when she was 98 years old. She mentioned that she makes ice cream with the puree. I’d always wanted to follow up on the recipe, and also pay my respects to her, but time slipped by and a few years passed. When I finally did call, her son answered and said she had died two days earlier. I can think of a hundred things that weren’t as important, things that I did instead of calling her. Such is the nature of regret. I eventually made the ice cream, but for me, the recipe is Beulah’s. SERVES 4

1 cup whole milk

¼ cup sugar

1 cup heavy cream

1 half-pint Apricot-Orange Puree

In a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the milk over a medium-low heat. Add the sugar and cook a few minutes, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Transfer the milk mixture to a stainless steel container. Stir in the heavy cream and apricot puree, mixing well. Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Transfer the chilled mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions (or make by hand). The ice cream holds for about 1 month.

Apricot Chocolate Truffles

These truffles are utterly delicious and totally easy to make, though they do take time. I roll my truffles rather small, the size of gumballs. You can roll them as large as you like, but they become more difficult to cover smoothly with chocolate the larger they are. Chocolate chips work as well as chocolate that comes in a block, but use the best chocolate you can find. Substitute Dried Sweet Cherries for the apricots and kirsch for the Cointreau if you’d like. MAKES ABOUT 45 TRUFFLES

6 ounces (about 1 cup) dried apricots (for homemade), minced

½ cup orange juice

Heaping ¼ cup sugar

½ cup heavy cream

4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, cut up

1½ tablespoons light corn syrup

2 pounds bittersweet chocolate, cut into small bits or shaved

2 tablespoons Cointreau or other orange liqueur

In a small heavy-bottomed pot, combine the apricots, orange juice, and sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the sugar dissolves and the fruit absorbs the liquid, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

In a medium heavy-bottomed pot, combine the cream, butter, and corn syrup and heat over medium-low heat until the butter melts and the cream starts to boil. Remove from the heat.

In a double boiler or bowl set over a pan of hot water, combine one-third of the chocolate and the Cointreau and stir to melt.

Add the chocolate mixture to the cream mixture. Stir to combine, then add the apricot mixture. Pour the chocolate apricot mixture into two 9-inch cake pans and place in the freezer for a few hours until hard. (If you put all of the chocolate mixture into one 9-inch pan it will take much longer to harden.)

Line a baking sheet with wax paper or parchment paper. Remove one pan of chocolate from the freezer (leave the other in the freezer while you work on the first). The chocolate should be very hard. Scoop out marble-size portions of the chocolate mixture (I use a melon baller, but you can use a spoon) or cut out pieces with a knife. Roll the pieces of chocolate mixture between your palms to make balls. (This is a messy business. I have to wash my hands frequently. But be sure to dry them well as rolling with wet palms makes the mess worse.) The balls won’t be perfectly round. That’s life. As you work, place the truffles on the lined baking sheet. Continue with the second cake pan. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator and chill for a couple of hours.

Line a second baking sheet with wax paper or parchment paper.

In a double boiler or bowl set over a pan of hot water, melt the remaining chocolate (I actually prefer a bowl here because the rounded bottom of the bowl makes it easier when it comes time to roll the truffles in the chocolate). Stir until smooth.

When the chocolate is melted, dip the balls in the chocolate: Dipping the balls in chocolate is not as easy as it sounds. I’ve used chopsticks, tongs, two forks, but at the end of the day, what works for me is a butter knife or other flat utensil for rolling the truffle in the chocolate, and a fork for lifting it out. The main trick is completely covering the truffle in melted chocolate. Trying to cover a truffle with scant chocolate resources is a drag, like trying to stay warm under a blanket that is too small for your bed.

As you work, place the truffles on the baking sheet to cool. Then place all the truffles back in the fridge to chill. Once the shells are hard you can pack the truffles in candy boxes. They hold in the fridge for about 2 weeks.

Apricot Shrub

A shrub is a vinegar-based drink. My friend Willy mixes all kinds of shrubs with prosecco. Shrubs are easy to make, either using leftover syrup from canning fruit or fresh syrup (see Note). More of a method than a recipe, the following is how you make a shrub with syrup left over from canning fruit. This example happens to be from Canned Apricots and Raisins, but the same method can be applied to the syrup left over from canning any fruit. To serve, pour a tablespoon or less of the shrub in a champagne glass and top with cold prosecco. MAKES 1 HALF-PINT

½ cup apricot-flavored syrup (see Canned Apricots and Raisins)

½ cup white wine vinegar or cider vinegar

When you are done canning the apricots, there should be ½ cup or so of apricot-flavored syrup left in the bottom of the pot. Combine this apricot syrup with an equal amount of vinegar.

The shrub is quite tart at first, but over time it will mellow. If you want to use the shrub right away, boil the syrup/vinegar mixture for 5 minutes. This reduces some of the acidity and makes for a mellower product.

Bottle and refrigerate or, for shelf-stable shrub, water bath process it. (There is no USDA recommendation for canning apricot shrub, however I did a pH test on this shrub and it fell well within safe limits [3.5]. Therefore the canning time here is based on the USDA recommendation for apple juice, which has about the same pH.)

Have ready 1 sterilized half-pint jar for every cup of shrub, along with a sterilized band and a new lid that has been simmered in hot water to soften the rubberized flange. Pour the shrub into the jar, leaving ¼ inch of headroom. Wipe the rim, place on the lid, and screw on the band fingertip tight.

Process the jar in a water bath for 5 minutes. Be sure to make altitude adjustments when preserving.

Note: If you don’t have any fruit syrup around and still want to make a shrub, combine equal weights of berries or coarsely chopped stone fruit (skin-on) and sugar in a large bowl. Place the bowl on your kitchen counter, cover with plastic wrap, and leave to macerate for 2 days. The sugar will dissolve and become watery, and the fruit may start to look shriveled and dehydrated. That’s all good.

Strain the fruit and sugar mixture through a jelly bag or a few layers of cheesecloth. It is okay to squeeze the bag of fruit in order to get as much juice out as you can. Measure the syrup. For ½ pound berries and ½ pound sugar I usually get about 1 cup of syrup.

How to Trim an Artichoke

To trim a large artichoke for cooking, first rinse and brush off the film on the surface of the leaves. This biofilm, which is naturally produced by the artichoke, can lend a bitter flavor. Cut off the top inch of the artichoke with a serrated knife, and only about ½ inch off the stem: The artichoke stem is a continuation of the heart and tastes good, so don’t remove it unless you need the artichoke to sit upright for serving. Long stems should be peeled with a vegetable peeler down to the pale green flesh. The artichoke and stem can be cooked together, or the stem chopped and cooked separately. Snip off the thorns on the tip of the leaves. Rub the cut ends of the artichoke with a half lemon if you want to prevent browning. You can also place the artichokes in a bowl of water and lemon juice, or water and a pinch of ascorbic acid to prevent browning. To trim a baby artichoke, remove the tough outer leaves, reducing the volume of the vegetable by half, until the artichoke has the shape of a teardrop or candle flame and is pale green to yellow and soft to the touch. With a paring knife, cut around the base, removing all of the rough surfaces. Halve the artichoke lengthwise and pluck out any thistly interior leaves.

Spaghetti with Artichokes and Ricotta

This dish balances the tartness of artichokes cooked in wine with the sweet cream of ricotta. Homemade ricotta is best. You’ll need 4 cups of milk, and the ricotta can be prepared while the artichokes are cooking. I often make the artichokes in this recipe as a side dish. SERVES 4

2 pounds baby artichokes (about 10), trimmed (see above)

¼ cup dry white wine

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup water or chicken stock (for homemade)

1 tablespoon sliced garlic

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (optional)

1 bay leaf

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 ounces spaghetti

8 ounces (1 cup) ricotta cheese (for homemade)

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Extra virgin olive oil, for serving

Arrange the artichokes in a pot that will hold them snugly in a single layer. Add the wine, oil, water, garlic, lemon juice, thyme (if using), bay leaf, and salt to taste. The braising liquid should come about halfway up the sides of the artichokes. A little more is okay. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and gently braise the artichokes until very tender, about 30 minutes. You may need to rotate the artichokes, or turn them over for even cooking. The artichokes will be softened and their color bleached out some. Remove the bay leaf.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook until al dente and drain.

Toss the pasta in a serving bowl with the artichokes and residual juices. Add the ricotta and toss gently to combine.

Garnish with black pepper and the parsley. If the pasta seems a bit dry, then add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

BABY ARTICHOKES

Braised Lamb with Artichokes and Mint

This is typical of the kind of dish I grew up eating on a school night. The vegetable and protein are cooked together in one pot. The original recipe was published in 1971 in Italian Family Cooking by Edward Giobbi, my father. SERVES 4

2 tablespoons olive oil

1½ pounds boneless lamb leg, cut into 1-inch cubes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)

2 garlic cloves, peeled

8 baby artichokes, trimmed

2 bay leaves

One 4-inch sprig of fresh rosemary

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over high heat. Add the lamb and salt and pepper to taste and cook until the lamb is browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.

Add the artichokes, reduce the heat to medium, cover, and cook for 5 minutes, then add the bay leaves, rosemary, and butter. Cover and cook until the butter is melted, a few minutes. Add the wine and mint, reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and gently cook for about 5 minutes until it loses its winey taste. Add a little water, about ½ cup, if the pot looks dry.

Place the pot in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until the artichokes are tender.

ARTICHOKES CONSTANTINOPLE STYLE

Artichokes Constantinople Style

My Greek friend Stathis showed me this delicious olive oil braise, which is even better the next day. You can make this with frozen artichoke hearts if you’d like, but it is really great with small spring artichokes. SERVES 4

4 small Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and halved

2 cups sliced carrots (2-inch-long planks)

20 pearl onions, peeled

1 cup olive oil

1 cup water

4 baby artichokes, trimmed

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

¼ cup chopped fresh dill

2 tablespoons chopped fresh fennel leaves (optional)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cut a round of parchment paper to fit inside a medium sauté pan. Cut a hole in the center of the parchment round about the size of a quarter.

Place the potatoes, carrots, and onions in the pan. Add the oil and heat over medium heat until the oil is just barely boiling. Cook the vegetables in the hot oil until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes.

Add the water, artichokes, lemon juice, dill, fennel (if using), and salt and pepper to taste. Place the parchment over the vegetables and gently boil until they are very tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

MARINATED BABY ARTICHOKES WITH HOT PEPPER

Marinated Baby Artichokes with Hot Pepper

There is no USDA data for water bath canning artichokes. I developed this recipe, which has a pH of 3.5, well within the safety limits for water bath canning. The processing time is based on the recommended time for marinated peppers, which contain similar quantities of olive oil—an important consideration when water bath processing foods. Rather than discard the outer leaves, boil them for about 10 minutes. Chill and serve with mayonnaise; or serve hot, with melted butter for dipping. The marinade left over after you’ve finished the jar of artichokes is delicious and can be used to flavor other dishes, like Sausages with Potatoes and Artichoke Marinade. MAKES 2 PINTS

24 baby artichokes (about 6 pounds), trimmed

½ cup fresh lemon juice

1 cup white wine vinegar (5% acidity)

½ cup olive oil

2 garlic cloves, sliced

1 teaspoon pickling salt

½ teaspoon hot pepper flakes

In a large nonreactive pot, combine the lemon juice, vinegar, oil, garlic, pickling salt, and pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Add the artichokes, cover, and boil for 10 minutes.

Have ready 2 clean pint jars and bands, and new lids that have been simmered in hot water to soften the rubberized flange. Remove the artichokes from the marinade with a slotted spoon and pack them into the jars, filling the jars about three-fourths full. Resist the temptation to overpack or you will compromise the seal. Cover the artichokes with the marinade, distributing the garlic and hot pepper evenly and leaving ½ inch of headroom. (Refrigerate any leftover marinade: It holds for months.) Wipe the rims, place on the lids, and screw on the bands fingertip tight.

Process the jars in a water bath for 25 minutes. You can process 4 half-pints for the same amount of time. Be sure to make altitude adjustments when preserving. The artichokes will be ready to eat in 2 weeks.

SHRIMP WITH MARINATED ARTICHOKES

Shrimp with Marinated Artichokes

This is an adaptation of a dish from Marche, where my father’s family is from. It makes a lovely first course, and we often have it as part of the antipasto plate at La Vigilia, a traditional Italian fish dinner served on Christmas Eve. Save the marinade drained off the artichokes for Sausages with Potatoes and Artichoke Marinade. Save the shrimp shells for Shrimp Shell Sauce. SERVES 4 AS AN APPETIZER

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 cup marinated artichokes (for homemade, opposite), drained

3 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook until pink, about 4 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water. Slice the shrimp on an angle.

Coarsely chop the marinated artichokes (they are also nice sliced).

In a serving bowl, combine the shrimp, artichokes, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss gently and serve at room temperature.

Chicken with Marinated Artichokes and Parsley

You can make this dish with thighs as well as breasts, or use a combination of the two. Be sure to drain the fat off the chicken after cooking, because the artichokes are oily from the marinade. Save the marinade drained off the artichokes for Sausages with Potatoes and Artichoke Marinade. Save the rendered chicken fat in a jar in the fridge for sautéing vegetables or roasting potatoes—it adds a lovely flavor. SERVES 4

2 cups marinated artichokes (for homemade), drained

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 whole bone-in chicken breasts, split and then halved (for a total of 8 pieces)

1 cup chicken stock (for homemade)

2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 250°F.

Spread the artichokes on a baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, to dry them out a bit.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the chicken pieces and cook until browned all over, about 20 minutes. Remove the chicken and pour off the fat.

Return the chicken to the pan and add the chicken stock and artichokes. Cover and cook over medium heat until the artichokes start to fall apart and the chicken is well done, about 10 minutes. Garnish with the parsley.

Sausages with Potatoes and Artichoke Marinade

The marinade at the bottom of a jar of marinated artichokes, whether homemade or store-bought, is a great flavoring agent. It turns a simple dish of sausages and potatoes into something special. SERVES 4

1½ pounds Italian pork sausage (andouille is good in this dish, too)

1 cup marinade drained from a jar of marinated artichokes (for homemade)

1 pound small potatoes, such as fingerlings or baby Yukon Golds

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the sausages. Cook until browned all over, about 10 minutes. Add the marinade, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the potatoes, cover, and cook until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and keep warm in the pot.

Uncover the sausages and let the marinade reduce at a boil, about 5 minutes longer.

Slice the potatoes and place in a serving bowl with a spoonful of the hot marinade from the sausages. Slice the sausages and add them and the remaining marinade to the bowl with the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with the parsley.

How to Trim Asparagus

You can use all of the asparagus spear. If the stem ends are tough, peel only the lower half of the asparagus and cut off just the dry part at the bottom. Otherwise no need to peel asparagus. You can also snap off the tough ends: Hold the end of a spear and gently bend; it will break at the point where the tender part of the asparagus ends. Save the tougher ends of the spears and/or any asparagus peelings (they have plenty of flavor) to make Asparagus Stock.

Asparagus Frittata with Parmesan

I serve this simple frittata at room temperature. It is delicious with a few dashes of Hot Vinegar Sauce and perfect for buffets and picnics and take-along lunches. You can add sliced onions, chopped leeks, or fresh morels to the asparagus sauté if you’d like. Save the asparagus ends or peels for Asparagus Stock. SERVES 4

12 to 16 medium to thick spears asparagus (about 1½ pounds), trimmed (see above)

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 large eggs

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Cut the asparagus crosswise into ½-inch pieces.

Preheat the broiler and place an oven rack in the center of the oven.

In a 9-inch well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or nonstick ovenproof skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until it becomes aromatic, about 2 minutes. Do not brown. Add the asparagus and salt and pepper to taste, and cook for 5 minutes. Add a few tablespoons of water to keep the garlic from scorching and to create a bit of steam. Cover the skillet and continue cooking until the asparagus are fork-tender, a few minutes longer. Remove from the heat.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs until blended. Add the asparagus, Parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste.

Wipe out the skillet that you cooked the asparagus in. Heat the vegetable oil in the skillet over medium heat until hot. Pour the egg and asparagus mixture into the hot skillet. The edges will cook and separate quickly. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered and without stirring, for 3 to 5 minutes, until the eggs are set on the bottom (you will smell the eggs cooking).

Place the skillet under the broiler and broil for about 8 minutes, or until the frittata is golden brown and puffy.

Allow the frittata to rest for a few minutes—it will deflate some—then flip it over onto a board and allow it to come to room temperature. Slice into wedges to serve.

Soft-Shell Crabs with Roasted Asparagus

I make this dish in the late spring, when the asparagus and the soft-shell crabs are both in season. The roasted asparagus buds get rather crunchy, and the garlic browns, lending a nutty flavor. Be sure that you do not use pencil-thin asparagus for this. (Sometimes I hurry up the cooking by placing the asparagus under the broiler instead of roasting them in the oven, but you’ve got to keep an eye on them: They burn easily, and only a bit of burn is good.) This makes a great entrée with rice, or a wonderful open-face sandwich on bruschetta with a spoonful of aioli (minced garlic added to homemade mayonnaise). Save the asparagus ends or peels for Asparagus Stock. SERVES 4

12 to 16 medium to thick spears asparagus (about 1½ pounds), trimmed (opposite)

3 garlic cloves, minced

6 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 soft-shell crabs, cleaned (see Note)

¾ cup white wine

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Place the asparagus on a baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle the garlic and 3 tablespoons of the oil over the asparagus. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast the asparagus for about 10 minutes, or until the asparagus are fork-tender (thicker asparagus take a bit longer).

Meanwhile, season the crabs with salt and pepper. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining oil over medium-high heat. Add the crabs and cook a few minutes per side, until they are opaque. Add the wine and cook until the wine reduces by half and the crab is pink, about 5 minutes. Add the butter and swirl it around. Remove from the heat.

Arrange the asparagus on a platter and add the crabs. Garnish with the parsley.

Note: When buying soft-shell crabs, look for live ones that have very thin shells. Leathery shells will cook up tough. Ask your fishmonger to kill and clean them, or you can do it yourself. To kill a crab, cut off the face with kitchen scissors. Leave the “mustard” (that yellowish stuff under the top shell). It has flavor. Lift the sides of the shell and snip the gills (those gray fibrous things). Turn the crab over and snip off the belly flap.

SHAVED ASPARAGUS, PEA, AND PEA SHOOT SALAD

Shaved Asparagus, Pea, and Pea Shoot Salad

I have served this surprisingly rich salad as a second course after a pasta dish, or on top of a piece of broiled fish. Save the pea pods to make Pea Pod Stock, a flavorful soup base. When choosing pea shoots, look for small pale leaves with plenty of thin, curling tendrils. Avoid large stemmy pea shoots, which are tougher. But if you do find them in the market with very long stems you can cut the stems off and throw them in Pea Pod Stock. Save the asparagus ends or peels for Asparagus Stock. SERVES 4

1½ cups shelled fresh peas (about 1 pound in the shell)

12 thick spears asparagus, trimmed (opposite)

1 large garlic clove, smashed and peeled

½ teaspoon mustard powder

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 whole anchovy (see Note), chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

¼ pound pea shoots

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

In a pot of boiling water, cook the peas until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain.

Using a very sharp knife (or a mandoline if you have one), cut the asparagus into very thin slivers on an angle. Raw asparagus must be very thinly sliced to be edible.

Rub the garlic clove around the inside of a wooden bowl. Add the mustard powder and lemon juice. Mix until the mustard powder dissolves. Add the anchovy and combine well. Add the oil, mixing all the while. Add the peas, asparagus, and pea shoots and toss in the dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss with the Parmesan cheese.

Note: I prefer whole anchovies cured in salt, which you can find in Italian markets. Soak them for 10 minutes to remove the salt, then rinse and fillet them. You don’t have to get all the bones, just the spine.

Asparagus Pesto

This puree is great to have on hand. It makes an excellent sauce for broiled fish or for pasta like Ravioli with Asparagus Pesto. With added cream and seasoning, it’s also perfect as a warm soup. It is not thick, but loose and light. Save the asparagus cooking water and ends or peels for Asparagus Stock. MAKES 1 PINT

1 pound asparagus, trimmed

2 garlic cloves, sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Salt

Cut the asparagus in large pieces and place them in a large pot. Add just enough water to barely cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and boil the asparagus gently until they are fork-tender, about 10 minutes for slender asparagus, longer for thick ones. Reserving the cooking water, drain the asparagus.

Place the asparagus in a food processor along with ¼ cup of the reserved cooking water and the garlic. Add the oil, lemon juice, and salt to taste and pulse to combine. If necessary, add a bit more cooking water to get a smooth pesto.

The asparagus pesto holds in the freezer for 8 to 12 months. See “How to Freeze Foods.”

Dilly Asparagus

I pickle a few jars of asparagus every year and then use the asparagus in a variety of dishes. Asparagus are low in acidity, but since these asparagus are pickled, they are safe to water bath process. Larger than a half-pint but smaller than a pint, the tall and widely available 12-ounce jar is perfect for asparagus (though in order to fit the asparagus into a jar you will need to cut the ends, sometimes a lot). You can also pickle chopped asparagus and pack them into half-pint or pint jars. Chopped pickled asparagus are a great substitute for capers: Among other dishes, they are good in the French bistro classic, skate wing with browned butter and capers, or in chicken piccata, or in Lamb Tonnato. Whole pickled asparagus are great in a Bloody Mary. Save the cut ends of asparagus for Asparagus Stock. MAKES THREE 12-OUNCE JARS

2½ pounds asparagus (see Note)

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar (5% acidity)

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water

¼ cup pickling salt

2 garlic cloves, slivered

1 teaspoon dill seeds

¼ teaspoon hot pepper flakes

9 leafy sprigs fresh dill

Cut the ends off the asparagus so they fit very snugly standing upright in a 12-ounce jar. The tips must not poke above the screw threads of the jar, so you will have to cut them quite short. I end up cutting at least 3 inches off the bottoms.

Place about 2 inches of water in a shallow pan wide enough to hold the asparagus in a single layer. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lay the asparagus that fit into the jar in the pan and allow the water to return to a boil. As soon as the water comes back to a boil, remove the asparagus and run them under very cold water or dunk them in ice water to stop the cooking. Drain well. This sets the green color.

In a saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, pickling salt, garlic, dill seeds, and pepper flakes and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the salt. Do not boil past the point where the salt has dissolved. Acetic acid evaporates more quickly than water and you could upset the water to vinegar ratio if you boil for too long.

Have ready 3 clean 12-ounce jars and bands, and new lids that have been simmered in hot water to soften the rubberized flange. Pack the asparagus into them. You really have to wedge the asparagus in, or once you add the vinegar solution, they will bob above the rim. Cut the sprigs of dill to fit the jar and stuff 3 in each jar.

Add the vinegar solution, enough to cover the tops of the asparagus leaving ½ inch of headroom. Distribute the spices throughout the jars. Wipe the rims, place on the lids, and screw on the bands fingertip tight.

Process the jars in a water bath for 10 minutes. (You can process pint jars for the same amount of time as 12-ounce jars.) Be sure to make altitude adjustments when preserving. Don’t leave the jars in the water to cool or the asparagus will overcook and come out pale and withered. As is, they do wash out and shrink, so the asparagus may bob. It’s okay. They will be ready to eat in 4 weeks.

Note: Jersey Giants, the purple-topped asparagus, are delicious and meaty but they will stain the vinegar solution. It’s okay.

DILLY ASPARAGUS AND CAULIFLOWER SALAD

Dilly Asparagus and Cauliflower Salad

This lovely sharp salad is great served with barbecue, brisket, and homemade pastrami. SERVES 4

1 small head cauliflower, broken into florets (about 4 cups)

1½ cups chopped Dilly Asparagus

⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons pine nuts

3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat and add the cauliflower. Boil until the cauliflower is fork-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and transfer to a serving bowl.

Add the Dilly Asparagus, oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss gently.

Heat a small skillet over high heat. Add the pine nuts and toast for a minute or two, shaking the skillet often. Garnish the salad with the toasted pine nuts and the parsley.

Asparagus Stock

I make asparagus stock with the trimmed off ends of asparagus spears. You can hold the stock in the fridge, but it tends to ferment quickly; so it is best to freeze or pressure can it. While there is no USDA data for asparagus stock, I have based my pressure canning time on the recommendation for whole raw asparagus tightly packed into a pint jar. This is the same timing as the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving uses for pints of vegetable stock. MAKES 2 PINTS

1 pound asparagus trimmings, cut into 2-inch pieces

Place the asparagus in a deep pot and cover with about 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, cover, and gently boil until the asparagus are very, very soft, about 45 minutes or longer. Add more water to be sure the asparagus stems stayed covered if necessary. Let cool in the water.

Because you are using the woody, stringy stem ends of the asparagus, you need to grind the asparagus in a food processor with a little of the cooking water. (You may not be able to grind up the woodiest parts. It’s okay.) Then pass the ground asparagus plus the rest of the cooking water through a food mill. You will get about 1 quart of stock, mostly green water with about one-third the volume in pulp. For refrigeration and freezing, see the technique for making stocks.

To make shelf-stable stock, pressure can the jars. Have ready 2 clean pint jars and bands, and new lids that have been simmered in hot water to soften the rubberized flange. Pour the stock into the jars leaving 1 inch of headroom. Wipe the rims, place on the lids, and screw on the bands fingertip tight.

Process the jars in a pressure canner at 10/11 psi for 30 minutes. (See “How to Pressure Can.”) Be sure to make altitude adjustments when preserving. You may notice some separation of the pulp and water in the jar. It’s okay.

RAVIOLI WITH ASPARAGUS PESTO

Ravioli with Asparagus Pesto

Making the ravioli takes time, but it is worth the trouble because it is so sweet and satisfying. However, if you have a good pasta shop in your neighborhood, try this sauce with their ricotta-stuffed ravioli. The sauce is also fantastic on fettuccine tossed with a little ricotta. You can make this dish with Pea Pesto, too. This is my grandmother’s ravioli recipe. It doubles perfectly. SERVES 4

PASTA

1½ cups all-purpose flour

A pinch of salt

2 large eggs

Olive oil, for oiling the dough

RICOTTA FILLING

1¼ cups ricotta cheese (for homemade)

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Freshly ground black pepper

SAUCE

1 heaping cup Asparagus Pesto

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper and grated Parmesan, for serving

For the pasta: Combine the flour and salt on a board or countertop. Make a mound with a well. Crack the eggs into the well. Using a fork, gradually combine the flour with the eggs. When half of the flour is incorporated, switch to using your hands. Combine the flour and eggs thoroughly, then knead for about 15 minutes or less, until the pasta is smooth and pliable. Rub a few drops of olive oil all over the dough, cover it in plastic, and leave it at room temperature for about 1 hour.

For the ricotta filling: In a bowl, mash together the ricotta, Parmesan, egg, and pepper to taste with a fork.

Cut the pasta in half. Press each half through the rolls of a pasta machine, in ever decreasing thicknesses, until the pasta has passed through the narrowest thickness. (If you roll out by hand, just keep at it: You want the pasta to be as thin as you can get it, about 1/10 inch.) Lay one sheet of the pasta out on a floured board. Place teaspoon-size dollops of the ricotta mixture on the pasta spaced about 4 inches apart. Place the second sheet of pasta on top. Press the dough down between the stuffing and cut the dough around the stuffing, leaving about a 1-inch margin. You can cut the ravioli into squares, or use a cookie cutter to make disks. Have ready a small cup of water. Wet the tines of a fork and press firmly all around the edges of the ravioli to seal. (If you have small children they will love this job. I did.)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Place the ravioli on a baking sheet and then carefully slip the ravioli in the water. When a ravioli floats, it is done. It will also look whiter and soft. Do not overcook. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a platter.

For the sauce: In a large sauté pan or skillet, heat the asparagus pesto and butter over medium-low heat. Season with salt to taste.

Gently toss the cooked ravioli in the sauce. Garnish with pepper and Parmesan. Serve hot.

ASPARAGUS RISOTTO

Asparagus Risotto

Styles of cooking risotto vary, but once it is done it should be eaten right away, otherwise the risotto begins to thicken and dry out. I like to serve it soft enough so that if you rock the bowl the risotto undulates. I’ve made this risotto in the middle of winter with canned asparagus stock and frozen asparagus tips, garnished with chopped Canned Shrimp and a knob of butter at the end of cooking. The trick to making risotto is knowing when to stop cooking it, so taste the rice for doneness as you go. SERVES 4

4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter

1 cup minced onion (1 medium)

1 cup carnaroli, vialone nano, or Arborio rice

½ cup dry white wine

2 pints Asparagus Stock

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 heaping cup chopped asparagus tips

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 small whole dried hot pepper or a pinch of hot pepper flakes

A few sprigs of flat-leaf parsley

6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Extra virgin olive oil, for serving (optional)

In a wide, shallow heavy-bottomed pot, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. (A wide shallow pot will cook risotto faster and more evenly than a deep small one unless you stir it all the time.) Add the onion and cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir until it is well coated with butter. The rice will become slightly translucent and the grains will individuate. This is good. Add the white wine (it will boil up rapidly for a moment then settle down). Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the wine is absorbed, a few minutes.

Add 1 cup of asparagus stock and stir. Cook until the rice absorbs almost all the stock, about 5 minutes. The rice may stick, so stir often (though you don’t have to stir it constantly). Add another cup of asparagus stock, stirring frequently as it becomes absorbed, and so on until you have used all the stock. Season with salt to taste. Test the rice for doneness by sampling a grain. It should be yielding but firm to the bite, and the texture of the overall dish should be as soft as porridge.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the asparagus tips, garlic, and the hot pepper. Sauté the asparagus until they are fork-tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the hot pepper if cooked whole. Season with salt to taste.

Stir the sautéed asparagus and the Parmesan into the risotto. Check the seasoning and add a lot of good black pepper. Serve the risotto in shallow bowls garnished with parsley. You can also drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the dish, if you’d like.

How to Tell Your Beef Is Done

I usually use the thumb test for estimating doneness when cooking beef in the oven or over a flame: Open your palm and press on the fleshy thumb muscle. That is raw, and when you press the meat, raw beef will have the same amount of give. Bring your thumb and pinky together and press on the fleshy thumb muscle. That is well done, or about 160°F. Bring your thumb and ring finger together and press on the fleshy thumb muscle. That is medium, or about 140°F. Bring your thumb and middle finger together and press on the fleshy thumb muscle. That is medium-rare, or about 130°F. Bring your thumb and index finger together and press on the fleshy thumb muscle. That is rare, or about 120°F.

Pasta alla Bolognese with Besciamella

To make an authentic tasting Bolognese sauce, use grass-fed beef if you can. It is more like Italian beef, which is lean and subsequently a bit tough. A light béchamel sauce (besciamella in Italian) makes a very rich pasta alla Bolognese. Layers of Bolognese sauce and besciamella make the most delicious lasagna, too. SERVES 6

BOLOGNESE

1 tablespoon rendered pork or duck fat (for homemade)

1 cup chopped onion

2 teaspoons chopped garlic

1 pound ground grass-fed beef

⅓ cup white wine

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons tomato paste (for homemade)

4 cups beef stock (for homemade), warmed

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound tagliatelle

BESCIAMELLA

1 cup whole milk

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

For the Bolognese: In a large skillet, heat the fat over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the beef and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until it is browned, about 10 minutes. Add the wine, oregano, and bay leaf and continue cooking until the wine cooks out, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and 2 cups of beef stock. Stir well and simmer the sauce for about 15 minutes until the sauce begins to dry out. Add another cup of beef stock and cook the sauce until it begins to dry out, about 15 minutes longer. Add the final cup of stock and cook the sauce for another 10 minutes or so, until the meat in the sauce is so broken down it is like a thick meaty gravy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook until al dente, and drain.

Meanwhile, for the besciamella: In a small saucepan, warm the milk over medium heat. In a separate small saucepan heat the butter over medium heat. As soon as the butter melts, add the flour, whisking until well blended. Add the warmed milk to the butter mixture in a slow drizzle, whisking all the while. Add salt to taste and the nutmeg. Reduce the heat to low and gently cook until there is no raw flour taste left to the sauce, about 10 minutes.

Toss the pasta with the Bolognese sauce and the besciamella. Garnish with the Parmesan and parsley.

Filet Mignon with Gorgonzola Sauce

Filet with Gorgonzola dolce and wilted radicchio is one of my favorites. I usually prepare about ⅓ pound filet per person because it is so rich. Since you only need a few radicchio leaves to make this recipe, save the rest to broil. SERVES 4

1⅓ pounds filet mignon, at room temperature

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon neutral oil, such as safflower

4 radicchio leaves

6 ounces Gorgonzola dolce cheese

¼ cup white wine (optional)

Cut the filet into 3 pieces and tie each filet around the waist horizontally with kitchen twine. This holds the meat together. Season the meat on both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat a medium skillet over high heat. Add the oil and as soon as the oil wrinkles, swirl it around the pan to coat. Add the filets. For medium rare, sear for about 4 minutes on one side, then turn them over. Place a radicchio leaf on each filet, then cover the filets with a lid that fits inside the skillet to weigh down the filets and sear on the second side for another 4 minutes, then remove from the pan, and cover with foil. Let the filets rest about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt the Gorgonzola over medium heat. Watch the cheese to make sure it doesn’t boil. If the cheese seems dry, add the white wine 2 tablespoons at a time to thin it out. The sauce should be like light cream.

To serve the filets, place a puddle of Gorganzola sauce on each plate. Place the radicchio leaf on top of the sauce, and the filet on the radicchio leaf. Oh boy.

Braised Beef Cheeks with Cloves

The first time I asked our local meat co-op in Colorado if I could buy beef cheeks, there was a long pause. “Well, we could sell you the whole head,” said the lady on the phone doubtfully. I may be a DIY enthusiast, but that was more than I was willing to take on. Eventually the butchers cut off the cheeks for me and I have been buying them ever since. Beef cheeks are inexpensive and outrageously sweet when cooked to the point of utter surrender. They are wonderful with a loaf of bread and a watercress salad. SERVES 4

1½ pounds beef cheek meat

1 teaspoon ground cloves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups sliced onions

4 cups beef stock (for homemade)

½ cup red wine

If the cheeks have fatty gristle on them, trim it away. Season the meat with the cloves and salt and pepper to taste.

In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the meat and brown all over, about 5 minutes. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and red wine. Reduce the heat to very low, cover, and cook until the meat is falling apart, about 3 hours. (You can also make this in a slow cooker or in a 300°F oven.)

Veal Tail Stew with Potatoes

Veal tails contain a lot of gelatin. Not only is the gelatin very good for you, it is super sweet, a natural sauce thickener, and adds a soft, velvety quality to the stew. You can make this recipe with oxtails as well. SERVES 4

2 pounds veal tails

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

All-purpose flour, for dredging

6 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves or 2 teaspoons dried

1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)

1 red bell pepper, sliced (optional)

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

¾ cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon dried basil

2 cups chicken stock (for homemade), warmed

8 small potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, peeled

Season the veal tails with salt and pepper and lightly dredge them in flour.

In a Dutch oven (or heavy-bottomed pan wide enough to hold the veal tails without overlapping), heat the oil over medium heat. Add the veal tails and rosemary and cook until the veal tails are lightly browned all over, about 10 minutes. Remove the veal tails and cover them with foil so they stay warm.

Add the onion, bell pepper (if using), garlic, and parsley to the pan. Cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the veal tails and any accumulated juices, the wine, and basil. Cook until the wine cooks out, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock, cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for about 1 hour, until the veal tails are tender.

Add the potatoes. Adjust the seasoning and continue cooking until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. The veal tails will be very tender at this point.

CANNED BEEF

Canned Beef

This is fast food, my way: the jars, filled with raw meat, vegetables, and herbs, are pressure canned and remain shelf stable for a year. So, for a year, I can pop open a jar, top it with thawed puff pastry from the freezer, and make a Canned Beef Pot Pie in as much time as it takes to heat one from the store. I can also make a quick beef stew, or warm the beef with cooked beans and garnish with chopped raw onion to make a cowboy bowl, or grind the meat to make lovely Beef Cannelloni. MAKES 3 PINTS

2⅓ pounds boneless beef, such as stew meat or shank meat

¾ cup sliced carrots (about ½ inch thick—chunks are okay but thin slices will get mushy)

½ cup fresh shelled peas (optional)

9 to 12 pearl onions, peeled

15 or so black peppercorns

6 sprigs of fresh thyme

6 sprigs of flat-leaf parsley

3 small bay leaves

¾ teaspoon salt

Have ready 3 clean pint jars and bands, and new lids that have been simmered in hot water to soften the rubberized flange.

Chop the meat into 2-inch chunks. Dividing evenly, pack the meat, carrots, peas (if using), and onions into the 3 jars. Distribute the peppercorns, thyme, parsley, bay leaves, and salt equally among the jars. Do not add any liquid. Wipe the rims, place on the lids, and screw on the bands fingertip tight.

Process the jars in a pressure canner at 10/11 psi for 1 hour 15 minutes. (See “How to Pressure Can.”) Be sure to make altitude adjustments when preserving. The meat will shrink and will be mostly covered with brown meat stock.

CANNED BEEF POT PIE

Canned Beef Pot Pie

With canned beef on hand, dinner doesn’t get any quicker than this. If you want to go really country, you can cut the puff pastry to fit the top of the canning jar, place on a baking sheet, and proceed with cooking. The jar is ovensafe. For a fancier presentation, prepare the pot pie in individual ramekins. SERVES 3

3 pints Canned Beef

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 medium sized potatoes, boiled and sliced (optional)

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator

1 small egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Drain the canned beef. Pour the meat and vegetables into a 9-inch pie plate. Season with salt and pepper. Add the potatoes if you are using them. Cut the puff pastry to fit the top of the pie plate. Lay the puff pastry on top and make a few slits with a knife so steam can escape during baking. Brush the egg wash over the pastry. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the pastry is browned and puffy and the meat is bubbling.

Beef Cannelloni

This easy but labor-intensive recipe is one step easier if you have your own canned beef. You can use dried cannelloni pasta in this recipe—I recommend the no-boil type if you can find them—but using homemade crepes makes for a very tender and extra-delicious dish. If you do use cannelloni tubes, increase the oven temperature to 400°F and cook for 30 minutes. SERVES 4

CREPES

¾ cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, beaten

⅔ cup whole milk

⅓ cup water

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, for greasing the pan and cooking the crepes

SAUCE

¼ cup olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 cups fresh or home-canned chopped tomatoes

1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

Salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

⅓ cup heavy cream

BEEF STUFFING

2 pints Canned Beef, stock poured off and herbs removed

1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg

Salt

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, for topping

Freshly ground black pepper, for serving

For the crepe batter: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, combine the eggs, milk, and water. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk together. Don’t worry about the lumps. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

For the sauce: In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, parsley, and salt to taste. Simmer, uncovered, until the tomatoes have broken up, 15 to 20 minutes. Puree the sauce with an immersion blender or in a food processor or blender, and return to the pan. Do not put back on the heat. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and stir to melt, then add the cream and stir well.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9 × 13-inch baking pan with 1 tablespoon butter.

Prepare the crepes. You should get about 12 crepes.

For the beef stuffing: In a food processor, combine the canned beef (and vegetables), parsley, Parmesan, nutmeg, and salt to taste and pulse to grind.

To assemble, place 2 tablespoons of beef stuffing in the center of each crepe and roll it up. Place the rolled crepe seam-side down in the buttered baking pan. Continue this process until all the crepes and beef stuffing are used.

Pour the sauce over the crepes, and sprinkle with the 1 cup Parmesan. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the cannelloni are heated through. Garnish with a few grinds of black pepper.

Serve promptly.

Beef Stock

You can purchase beef soup bones; they’re cheap. But I always make stock with the bones left over from a standing rib roast or a T-bone steak. MAKES 2 QUARTS

3 pounds beef bones

1 large onion, peeled, with 5 cloves stuck in it

2 celery ribs

3 carrots, cut in half

½ cup flat-leaf parsley (stems are okay)

20 black peppercorns

Salt

4 quarts water

In a large soup pot, combine the bones, onion, celery, carrots, parsley, peppercorns, salt to taste, and water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and gently boil for 2 hours. Skim off the scum periodically while it is boiling. Uncover and cook the stock until reduced by half, about 30 minutes longer. Adjust the seasoning and strain the liquid. Defat the stock with a gravy separator, or chill the broth in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. The fat will rise to the top and harden. Remove the fat.

Transfer the broth to quart jars and refrigerate or freeze (see the technique for making stocks).

To make shelf-stable stock, pressure can the jars. Have ready 4 clean pint jars or 2 quart jars and bands, and new lids that have been simmered in hot water to soften the rubberized flange. Pour the stock into the jars leaving 1 inch of headroom. Wipe the rims, place on the lids, and screw on the bands fingertip tight.

Process the jars in a pressure canner at 10/11 psi for 20 minutes for pints, 25 minutes for quarts. (See “How to Pressure Can.”) Be sure to make altitude adjustments when preserving.

Beef Stock with Poached Eggs and Meatballs

Poached eggs in beef stock are nothing new, but adding meatballs is pretty novel. I credit the talented photographer and chef Jonathan Gayman for coming up with this fabulous combination. The meatball recipe makes twice the amount you need for this dish, but it just seems crazy not to make enough meatballs to have for later (see Note), maybe with spaghetti and marinara sauce? SERVES 4

MEATBALLS

½ cup breadcrumbs (for homemade, see here)

¼ cup whole milk

⅓ pound ground beef

⅓ pound ground pork

⅓ pound ground veal

½ cup minced onion

1 large egg, beaten

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

¼ cup white wine

BROTH AND EGGS

4 cups beef stock (for homemade, see here)

1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

4 large eggs

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

For the meatballs: In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and milk. In a large bowl, combine the beef, pork, veal, onion, egg, Parmesan, water, thyme, and salt and pepper and mix well. Add the breadcrumbs and milk. Combine well. I use my hands. The mixture will be on the wet side. This is good. The softer the meat mixture, the more tender the meatballs. Roll the meat into balls the size of golf balls. You should get about 24.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the meatballs and brown them, turning often, about 10 minutes. Add the white wine, cover, and cook an additional 5 minutes. Remove the cover and let the wine cook out, a few minutes more. Set aside half of the meatballs to use in another dish (see Note).

For the broth: Heat the beef stock in a sauce pan. Have ready 4 shallow soup bowls. Place 3 meatballs in each bowl. Bring a deep pot of water to a high simmer over medium heat. Add the vinegar. Crack an egg into a ramekin, then slide the egg into the water to avoid breaking the yolk. Poach 2 eggs at a time, until the whites are opaque, then carefully lift them out with a slotted spoon. Place an egg in each bowl, then poach the remaining eggs.

Cover with the stock. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with parsley. Serve promptly.

Note: Refrigerate the cooked meatballs to use in the next day or two, or freeze them: Let the meatballs come to room temperature, place on a baking sheet, and chill in the fridge. Then transfer them to the freezer. Once frozen, pack into a freezer bag and freeze.

Bull Shot Cocktail

A Bull Shot is a variation on a Bloody Mary, only it is made with beef stock instead of tomato juice. While usually made with vodka, I like it better with bourbon. SERVES 1

½ cup beef stock (for homemade, see here), warmed

½ teaspoon lemon juice

Dash of Worcestershire sauce (for homemade, see here)

Dash of Tabasco sauce or hot sauce (for homemade, see here)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 ounces vodka or bourbon

In a small saucepan, combine the stock, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, and salt and black pepper to taste and heat to a simmer. Pour the hot stock into a heatproof cup. Stir in the vodka or bourbon.

Buy beets with the greens on, but cut off the greens about 1 inch from the beet promptly because even after harvest the greens will continue to pull moisture from the root. Use the greens first as they are less hardy.

Farfalle with Beets and Bacon

It may be a very, well, pink dish to look at, but pasta with beets is absolutely yummy. This is a version of a recipe my dad and I developed years ago for my first book, At Mesa’s Edge. Save the greens for Beet Greens Gratin or as a substitute for radish greens in Skillet-Cooked Radish Greens. SERVES 4

8 slices bacon (for homemade, see here)

1 pound beets (about 2 the size of an apple), greens removed

1 cup minced onion (about 1 medium)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 cup chicken stock (for homemade, see here)

¼ cup minced flat-leaf parsley

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

¾ pound farfalle pasta

½ cup ricotta cheese (for homemade, see here) or crumbled ricotta salata

In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is golden, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels or brown paper bags and reserve 3 tablespoons of the bacon grease in the skillet. When the bacon is cool enough to handle, crumble.

Wash and peel the beets. Grate the beets on the large holes of a box grater or on the julienne blade of a mandoline.

Heat the bacon grease in the skillet. Add the beets and cook over a medium heat until the beets are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes more, until the onions are translucent. Add the chicken stock, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 5 minutes to meld the flavors. You can set the sauce aside for a couple of hours at this point, or refrigerate it. The beets will absorb a great deal of the stock, so have a little more stock on hand to soften things up when it comes time to finish the recipe.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente and drain. Add the pasta to the beet sauce. The pasta will turn a deep pink. Toss well and make sure all the pasta is stained by the beet sauce. Adjust the seasoning. Serve the pasta garnished with the ricotta and bacon bits.

ROAST BEET SALAD WITH FETA, SCALLIONS, AND CILANTRO

Roast Beet Salad with Feta, Scallions, and Cilantro

This is a rich, really delicious, make-ahead luncheon salad, a nice use of garden-fresh beets. Sometimes I substitute the feta with ricotta salata. Save the greens for Beet Greens Gratin or as a substitute for radish greens in Skillet-Cooked Radish Greens. SERVES 4

4 medium beets (about 1½ pounds), greens removed

4 slices bacon

¼ cup vinaigrette (for homemade, see here)

¼ cup crumbled feta cheese

¼ cup chopped scallions

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Wash the beets but don’t peel them. Wrap them individually in foil, place on a rack in the center of the oven, and bake the beets for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until fork-tender. Allow the beets to come to room temperature.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a skillet until browned and crisp. (Or place the bacon on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the oven along with the beets for 10 to 15 minutes.) Drain the bacon on paper towels or brown paper bags, then crumble.

When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel, cut in half and cut into bite-size slices. Toss the beets in a bowl with the vinaigrette.

Arrange the sliced beets on a serving platter. Garnish with the feta, scallions, bacon, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste, but be careful: Both the feta and bacon may already be quite salty.

Pickled Beets

This recipe is adapted from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. I added the spices, which you can vary if you’d like; try cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns. I use these pickles in a variety of dishes, but one of my favorites is Stuffed Eggs with Pickled Beets. Save the greens for Beet Greens Gratin or as a substitute for radish greens in Skillet-Cooked Radish Greens. Reserve the cooking liquid from boiling the beets to make Beet Granita. MAKES 3 HALF-PINTS

1 pound medium beets, greens removed

1 cup white wine vinegar (5% acidity)

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon caraway seeds

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon pickling salt

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Wash the beets. Add the beets to the boiling water and cook until fork-tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain. When cool enough to handle, peel and slice the beets.

Have ready 3 clean half-pint jars and bands, and new lids that have been simmered in hot water to soften the rubberized flange. Pack the beets tightly in the jars.

In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, caraway seeds, coriander seeds, and pickling salt and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Pour the hot liquid over the beets, making sure the seeds are distributed evenly among the jars, leaving ½ inch of headroom. Wipe the rims, place on the lids and screw on the bands fingertip tight.

Process the jars in a water bath for 30 minutes. Be sure to make altitude adjustments when preserving. The beet slices may float. It’s okay.

Beet Jam

This is a wonderful savory/sweet jam that I serve with cheese. The jam is loose—kind of like sauerkraut—and delicious. Note this jam calls for pressure canning. There is no USDA data for beet jam, so I process it for the same amount of time as canned beets. Indeed, I put up canned beets and beet jam at the same time, in the same pressure canning session. Save the greens for Beet Greens Gratin or as a substitute for radish greens in Skillet-Cooked Radish Greens. Reserve the cooking liquid from boiling the beets to make Beet Granita. MAKES 2 HALF-PINTS

¾ pound medium beets, greens removed

¼ cup water

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

¾ cup sugar

Pinch of salt

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Wash the beets. Add the beets to the boiling water and cook until fork-tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain. When cool enough to handle, peel and shred the beets on the large holes of a box grater.

Transfer the beets to a medium saucepan and add the water, lemon zest, and juice. Stir to combine. Add the sugar and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes to dissolve the sugar.

Have ready 2 clean half-pint jars and bands, and new lids that have been simmered in hot water to soften the rubberized flange. Pour the jam into the jars leaving 1 inch of headroom. Wipe the rims, place on the lids, and screw on the bands fingertip tight.

Process the jars in a pressure canner at 10/11 psi for 30 minutes. Process 1 pint for the same amount of time. (See “How to Pressure Can.”) Be sure to make altitude adjustments when preserving.

Canned Beets

I like to have canned beets on hand to make composed salads in the off-season. The fresh beet dishes in this book can all be made with canned beets. You need about ¾ of a pound of beets per pint of canned. Save the greens for Beet Greens Gratin or as a substitute for radish greens in Skillet-Cooked Radish Greens. Reserve the cooking liquid from boiling the beets to make Beet Granita. MAKES 2 PINTS

1½ pounds beets, greens removed

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Wash the beets. Add the beets to the boiling water and cook until fork-tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain.

Have ready 2 clean pint jars and bands, and new lids that have been simmered in hot water to soften the rubberized flange.

As soon as the beets are cool enough to handle, peel, slice, and pack them into the jars. Cover the beets with hot water leaving 1 inch of headroom. Wipe the rims, place on the lids, and screw on the bands fingertip tight.

Process the jars in a pressure canner at 10/11 psi for 30 minutes for pints, 35 minutes for 1 quart. (See “How to Pressure Can.”) Be sure to make altitude adjustments when preserving.

CANNED BEETS WITH TUNA

Canned Beets with Tuna

To prepare this delicious, elegant dish, just open the jars. I like to serve this as part of an antipasto platter, with other fish-based salads like Shrimp with Marinated Artichokes. SERVES 4 AS AN APPETIZER

1 pint (2 cups) cooked beets (for homemade, see here)

1 half-pint canned tuna (for homemade, see here)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley

Drain the beets and pour them into a serving bowl. Drain the tuna and flake the meat over the beets. Drizzle the oil over all, and squeeze on some lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste and garnish with the parsley.

Stuffed Eggs with Pickled Beets

When I was a child, my Southern grandmother always had a tray of stuffed eggs in the “ice box,” protected by a sheet of plastic wrap. It seemed so extravagant to me that this treat was available whenever someone was hungry, but actually it was typical of her era’s gracious style. Adding pickled beets to this humble dish just makes them better. I prefer stuffed eggs that have never been chilled, but they do hold up perfectly well in the fridge for a day or two. To ensure the yolks of your boiled eggs are centered, flip them over the night before boiling. MAKES 6 STUFFED EGGS

3 large eggs (see Note)

2 tablespoons crème fraîche (for homemade, see here) or sour cream

1 tablespoon mayonnaise (for homemade, see here)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons finely chopped Pickled Beets

Place the eggs in a deep pot and cover with water. Cover and bring the water to a boil over medium heat. Turn off the heat and let the eggs rest in the hot water for 12 minutes. Remove the eggs and let them come down to room temp.

Peel the eggs and halve them from pole to pole. Gently remove the yolks and place in a small bowl. Add the crème fraîche, mayonnaise, and salt to taste and mix until smooth.

Spoon the yolks back into the boiled egg whites. You can pipe the yolks in if you’d like, but I think that makes the eggs look a little cruise-shippy.

Garnish with the chopped pickled beets and pepper.

Note: Use older eggs to hard-boil: They shell more easily. You can tell an egg is hard-boiled by spinning it on your counter. If it spins fast and easily, it is ready.

BEET GREENS GRATIN

Beet Greens Gratin

Whenever I go to the farmers’ market and hear shoppers tell the farmers to cut off the beet greens, I swoop in. “Can I have those?” I ask, and they always comply with a nod of recognition. Beet greens are one of the sweetest greens I know. I never buy beets without them. Even the water you use to boil the greens is flavorful. I’ll store a quart jar of it in my fridge for a few days and use it the next time I make a vegetable dish or soup and need water. This dish is a great side for a grilled steak. SERVES 4

Unsalted butter for greasing the baking dish

½ pound beet greens (weight of a typical bunch), washed

⅓ cup heavy cream

½ cup grated Gruyère cheese (or other melting cheese, like cheddar, or a combination)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup breadcrumbs (for homemade, see here)

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Butter a 7 × 10 × 2-inch baking dish (I use a shallow oval dish).

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the beet greens and cook until the water returns to a boil. Drain the greens. Allow the greens to cool, then chop into bite-size pieces.

In a large bowl, combine the greens, cream, and Gruyère. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spread the greens mixture in the baking dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top.

Bake for 10 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling.

 

 

This book is more than just recipes. It teaches you to value your ingredients more and get real substance out of parts most never think of using. The methods provided in this book not only save money, they decrease waste, and allow for you to keep your kitchen stocked with elements that keep the inspiration and flavor to your cooking rolling.

The book is separated into sections featuring a single ingredient. In each section, there are then recipes separated based on how you can use your ingredient: “eat some fresh” (uses the fresh ingredient in the recipe), “preserve some” (pickling, canning, drying, etc), “use the preserves”, “use the scraps”, and “make more” (makes further use of the toss-away liquid and such that was produced from one of the other recipes). Offered up are delicious recipes that are not overly-complicated or expensive. The recipes are written to make the featured ingredient stand out and be enjoyed instead of thrown in as an afterthought. The featured ingredients are: apples, apricots, artichokes, asparagus, beef, beets, cabbage, carrots, cherries, chicken, corn, cranberries, cucumbers, currants, duck, fennel, figs, ginger, grapes, lemons, lobster, mushrooms, mussels, onions, oranges, peaches, peas, peppers, plums, pork, radishes, raspberries, rhubarb, saltwater fish, shrimp, strawberries, tomatoes, trout, watermelons, and zucchini.

I like that this book gives me an abundance of ways to use a particular item I may buy in bulk when it’s in season and inexpensive. Usually I find myself unable to resist picking up more than I really need or know how to use. Now I have great ideas of how to preserve what’s not used in the fresh recipe so it never goes to waste. The nice thing about this book is the preservation recipes are all relatively small batches.

When I buy a rotisserie chicken, I pull the wings, drumsticks & thighs for dinner the first night, save the chicken breasts to cut up into a chicken salad for lunch the next day, and throw the carcass into a big pot to milk some good stock out of it for use in the future. If you are the same kind of person, this book was made for you. I adore this book.

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