Recipes for Vegetables

How to Stuff a Pumpkin

October 11, 2016

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Swiss Pumpkin

I originally called this pumpkin soup, but it’s really a gratin baked right inside the pumpkin. I was 21 when I developed the recipe, and oblivious to richness so I used nothing but cream. Today I mix the cream with chicken broth (about a cup of cream and a cup of broth). You could also use milk. It’s STILL pretty much of a heart-stopper but it’s irresistible. 

Go out and buy a fairly small pumpkin (about 4 pounds) with a flat bottom. Cut off the top, as if you were going to carve a jack-o-lantern, and hollow it out. Spread the seeds out and dry them to eat later.

Now get a good loaf of French bread, cube it, put the cubes on a baking sheet and toast them lightly in a 350 degree oven for about 9 minutes.  Leave the oven on.

Grate a good amount of one of the Swiss cheeses – Emmenthaler, Gruyere or Appenzeller (you’ll need about 12 ounces). Layer the bread and cheese inside the pumpkin until it’s almost full (leave a half inch on the top because the filling will expand a bit).

Mix 1 cup of chicken stock into a cup of cream. Add a teaspoon of salt. Grind in some black pepper and grate in some nutmeg. Then fill the pumpkin almost to the top with as much of this mixture as you need, replace the top of the pumpkin, brush the outside with neutral oil, set it on a baking sheet, and bake for about 2 hours.

Bring the whole pumpkin to the table. When you serve it be sure to scoop out the pumpkin flesh with the cheese and the cream.

Serves 4

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Red and Robust

September 11, 2016

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Went to the farmers market in Great Barrington yesterday, where I encountered Gray Kunz with his adorable grandson, Jean-Luc.  Gray is one of the chefs I most admire in the world, and when he said he was buying all the tomatoes he could carry, I hastened to follow in his wake.

I’m sure the great chef is doing something unimaginably fantastic with his haul. But I came home and made this simple soup. Incredibly easy, and extremely satisfying.  I’m just hoping we don’t eat it all; this will be the most wonderful freezer find when the snow starts to fall.

Roasted Tomato Soup

2 pounds tomatoes (about 5), cored and cut into quarters

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

cloves garlic

2  onions, quartered

extra-virgin olive oil

1-3 cups water

1/4 cup cream

Heat an oven to 375 degrees

Place the tomatoes, onions, and garlic pieces on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, shower with salt and splash generously with olive oil. Put into the oven for about an hour.

Squeeze the cloves of garlic out of their skins and put them, along with the tomatoes and onions into a blender or food processor. Add 1 1/4 cups water and blend.  Add more water if you’d like thinner; I think 2 cups of water is about right, but you might like more or less.

Taste for salt, reheat a bit and then swirl in a little cream before serving.

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Crazy Stupid Hot

September 1, 2016

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Found local jalapenos yesterday at Love Apple Farm, which set off an almost overwhelming longing for the spicy green peppers in black beans at the restaurant that used to be called Grand Sichuan in Chelsea (it’s now Chelsea Chinese).  They claim it was a favorite of Mao Tse Tung; I always loved it.

So I thought I’d try to make myself a version.

The first bite was so hot I thought my heart might stop – but I kept eating.  All day I kept going back for more. At midnight, just before going to bed, I had another bowl.

Then, this morning, I took what was left (the refrigerator had tamed the heat a bit), tossed it into a pan with an egg, and finished it off.

If you have any sense at all, you’ll remove the seeds before making this dish, which might civilize it a bit.

I should note that this is a work in progress; I’m sure I can improve the recipe considerably over time.  I’m looking forward to the experiments, but be warned – you really have to appreciate heat to have any interest in this dish.

Chinese Chiles in Black Beans

Mix 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry, and a teaspoon of sugar into  3/4 cup of chicken broth. Set it aside.

Make a cornstarch slurry by mixing a tablespoon of cornstarch into 2 tablespoons of water. 

Mince a tablespoon or so of fresh ginger and 2 teaspoons of garlic.  Mix that with 3 tablespoons of Chinese fermented black beans.

Cut a large onion in half, vertically, and slice it into strips.

Slice a red pepper (not hot – this is mostly for color), into thin strips.

Slice 4 jalapenos.  If you want to temper the heat, remove the seeds; if you’re foolish, keep them.

Heat a wok until it is very hot and add about 3 tablespoons of neutral oil.  Add the onions, stir fry them for a minute or so, then toss in the garlic, ginger and black beans and stir them about for a few seconds until the aroma is hovering in the air above the pan. 

Add the jalapenos and red pepper and toss for about a minute. (If you have a fan above your range, this might be the moment to turn it on.) 

Stir the chicken stock mixture, toss it into the wok and bring to a boil.  Add the cornstarch slurry and keep stirring until the sauce is glistening and slightly thick. 

Serve hot over rice.

(The picture above is in a tiny bowl; I was so busy eating I neglected to take a picture until the chiles were almost gone.)

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More Summery Sour Cream Recipes

June 25, 2016

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I keep finding fascinating recipes in this beautiful vintage cookbook.  Here are some of Merle Armitage’s suggestions for using sour cream; it turns out to be a mini-theme in the book.

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Winged Beans

January 21, 2016

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Cooking here on St. John has proved challenging.  I came with visions of tropical fish, fresh coconuts and papayas, heaps of glowing green vegetables. What I’ve discovered is that almost everything is imported from somewhere else and I’m shopping mostly in the supermarket, grateful to come upon a decent piece of fruit.

There are a couple of exceptions, but the best find so far is the wonderful Josephine’s Greens, an organic garden on the other side of the island in Coral Bay.  Sadly we arrived too late for the passion fruit – they’d all been sold –  but we did find green papayas, lovely garlic chives, lemongrass, beautiful salad greens and these winged beans.  I’d never seen them before, so of course I bought them.

“What should I do with them?” I asked Josephine.

She shrugged.  “Anything,” she said.

“Raw? Stir fried?”

“Anything,” she repeated.

So I improvised.

I began by cutting the beans into inch long pieces; they’re crisper than they look, and when they encounter a knife they emit a satisfying crunch.

I smashed a couple of cloves of garlic, chopped up a small onion and minced a small knob of ginger.

Coating a large saute pan with peanut oil, I threw in the onions, waited until their fragrance filled the air,  then tossed in the garlic and ginger and worried them about a bit. I added the beans and a bit of salt and stir-fried them for a few seconds.  Somehow it still needed something.  Rummaging in the refrigerator I came upon some leftover canned diced tomatoes, and added them, along with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. Stirred a bit more, tasted, and at the last minute splashed in some soy sauce.

Crisp, delicious, entirely refreshing.

I’m off to Josephine’s to buy some more winged beans.  There are so many possibilities…..IMG_7309

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