Archive for July, 2015

cooking from the farmers’ market: 1874 Nantucket Corn Pudding with Swiss Chard, Tomatoes and Smoked Cod

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

Corn Pudding w smoked cod and vegetables

Arrowhead Farms from Newburyport brought their first homegrown corn to the Rockport Farmers’ Market last Saturday. Those extra June rainstorms, farmer Justin Chase told me, was just enough to send the coastal Massachusetts cornstalks skywards, and to plump the yellow kernels.

corn

I knew right away what I would make for dinner that night. Reminding myself of the treasures I found researching my cookbook, I’ve recently been cooking from In Cod We Trust, the Celebrated Cuisine of Coastal Massachusetts.” I will boldly say, in honest celebration of the coast of Massachusetts, that there are some wonderful recipes here that people would be proud to have in their repertoire.

This “1874 Nantucket Corn Pudding,” discovered on a hand-written card within a family file in the Nantucket Historical Society, may be antique, but it is the most wonderful thing to do with sweet, tender local corn. “Like corn-on-the-cob in a cloud,” 1874 Nantucket Corn Pudding elevates New England sweet corn from the farm yard to the throne.  A farmers’ market in June or August is exactly the place to look for flavors that will compliment this ethereal dish.

 

Arrowhead beets

 

Shopping at my farmers’ market in Rockport, I created a stacked dinner with the corn pudding as the centerpiece. My first layer began with swiss chard, stems removed and chopped separately, all sauteed for 15-20 minutes with olive oil and garlic. Upon the swiss chard I rested a healthy square of corn pudding, which is easily made ahead, and divine served at room temperature on a warm day. Over that I tumbled a salad of chopped fresh tomato, red onion, fresh basil, olive oil and salt and pepper. Meaty chunks of Sasquatch Smoked Cod came over the tomatoes, and a freshly whipped-together aioli was spooned on top as an added measure of decadence.

Feel free to adapt the stack with what you find in your farmers’ market; my basic rule is that crops arriving in the same season usually taste good together. Strawberries and rhubarb. Tomatoes and corn. Butternut squash and apples.

So, almost anything in your farmers’ market this month would love to cozy up to corn pudding, which, again, is delicious served at room temperature on a hot night. Like so many summer market recipes, this one begs aggressive adapting. My next corn pudding trial might look like this: sliced beefsteak tomatoes + corn pudding square + a Geno Mondello codcake (also in the cookbook) + crispy Seaview Farm bacon + red pepper mayonnaise. See?

But the cornerstone of this stacked recipe is that corn pudding, the simple virtues of which were already well known almost 150 years ago “away off shore.”

CP2

1874 Nantucket Corn Pudding with Swiss Chard, Tomatoes & Smoked Cod

serves 4

Swiss chard and Garlic (recipe below)

1874 Nantucket Corn Pudding  (recipe below)

Tomato Salad (recipe below)

1 large piece, about 1/2 pound, smoked cod

Aioli (recipe below)

For the Swiss Chard

ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil + more for drizzling

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 pound swiss chard, stems removed and diced, and leaves loosely chopped

salt and pepper

Instructions

1. In a wide skillet heat olive oil to medium.  Add garlic and cook for 3-5 minutes or until soft.  Add swiss chard stems, and cook for another 5 minutes or until stems begin to soften.  Add leaves, stirring all together well, and cook for 10-15 more minutes or until the leaves are soft and have lost their raw taste.  Add more olive oil if desired, and season with salt and pepper.

1874 Nantucket Corn Pudding (recipe from the “In Cod We Trust, from Sea to Shore, the Celebrated Cuisine of Coastal Massachusetts,” halved)

6 ears of fresh corn or 3 cups kernels

1 cup loosely crushed oyster crackers (not too fine)

1/2 teaspoon salt

black pepper to taste

2 cups whole milk

3 eggs, lightly beaten

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a 2 quart glass baking dish.  With a food processor pulse the corn many times to achieve a mixture of half-ground and half-whole corn kernels.  Pour into a large bowl.

Stir in remaining ingredients, and mix together well.  Pour into a prepared dish.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until a fork inserted in the center comes out clean.  Serve warm or room temperature.

Tomato Salad

Ingredients

1 pound ripe red tomatoes, chopped

1/2 medium red onion, halved, and sliced into thin arcs

1 handful chopped basil

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Mix all together in a small bowl, and let sit for 10 minutes.

Aioli

Ingredients

2 egg yolks

1 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

2 cups oil (I like 1 1/2 cups olive oil, and the rest either canola or walnut.)

Instructions

Place all the ingredients except the oil in a bowl, and stir with a wire whisk.  Add the oil slowly, whisking at the same time.  Keep mixing, adding the oil a little faster as the aioli begins to bind.  Remaining aioli will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

To Assemble Dish

In shallow bowls, like pasta dishes or shallow soup bowls, put a layer of swiss chard, scattering the brightly colored stem pieces around the edges.  Lay a square of corn pudding on top.  Next divide the tomatoes among the dishes.  Put about a 1/2 cup of smoked cod, separated into chunks, on top of the tomatoes.  Top with aioli, and serve.

Rockport Farmers' Market

Broken Lasagna with Patty Pan Squash and Sausage

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

Farmers' Market Pasta 2

I recently stood on the selling side of a small mountain of First Light Farms’ Patty Pan squash at the Rockport Farmers’ Market. These are the squash that look like a squat UFO with a ruffle around its tummy. Sometimes they are pale green and sometimes they are canary yellow.

Patty pan squash

 

“What do I do with these?” – I must have been asked thirty times that day. I tried to tell people that Patty Pan squash are sweet, firm and delicious when cut into wedges, steamed, and served with butter, salt and pepper. And they are. Unlike many summer squashes, Patty Pan squash do not reduce to water and seeds when cooked. But, this wasn’t enough of a recipe to convince my Patty-curious public. I knew there were also recipes that start with cutting off the top of each squash, and refilling them with buttered, seasoned breadcrumbs and some yummy cheese. But I also knew I probably wouldn’t make these myself this week. That was more of company thing. I would come home from this Farmers’ Market Saturday afternoon with bags of vegetables to organize and put away, and the last thing I would be doing for dinner would be stuffing small squashes.

When I did get home, and unpacked my Farmers’ Market bounty, I began to think what would I quickly do with these amusing squash besides decorate? My other Farmers’ Market purchases began to answer my question.

Sweet, lightly seasoned Trupiano tomato and cheese sausages would provide just enough rich, meaty background, tipping the flavors away from tasting too eat-your-veggies-virtuous, making the dish just a little bit prodigal. The earthbound honesty of First Light Farms onions and garlic would add much more flavor than their straight grocery store versions, I couldn’t go wrong with them. Big handfuls of aromatic fresh basil would unite it all, along with some Parmigiano-Reggiano from my refrigerator.

I realized early into the recipe-imagining that this was going to be pasta, and the pasta shape was important. I wanted to retain the squash as large chunks, preserving the fleshy character of those cute Patty Pans. What kind of pasta could be large enough to comfortably partner with a shard of squash? Rotini or shells might just “elbow” the squash away, threatening to become two dishes in the bowl: squash vs. pasta.

broken lasagna

 

I chose lasagna noodles broken up by hand into uneven shapes. Ultimately, the broad, wide noodles both hugged and carpeted the Dumpling nuggets. I tossed all with some very coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (Almost everything in this dish is in chunks), and a blast of fresh herbs.

The resulting dinner was beautifully balanced, a fine harvest of Farmers’ Market flavors and textures. It tasted even better cooled just a bit, almost at room temperature. If you make it, let the pasta sit in the pan for a few minutes, and go take a walk around your garden before dinner.

Most of my recipes are not complicated, but I’m about to begin a series on cooking from the Farmers’ Market, that will probably seem simpler than usual, because that’s the way summer home cooking with fresh local ingredients should be.

Farmers' Market Pasta

 

Farmers’ Market Pasta, or Broken Lasagna with Patty Pan Squash and Sausage

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil, more for finishing

3 links of Trupriano’s tomato and cheese sausage (or other sausage of your choice) cut into 3/4” pieces

6-7 small red onions, about 1/3 pound, halved and cut into wedges

2 teaspoons diced garlic

5 patty pan squash (about 1 pound) halved and chopped into 3/4” chunks

salt and pepper to taste

3/4 cup (or more to taste) coarsely chopped Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino cheese

1 cup chopped fresh basil, plus 1/4 cup for garnishing

1 pound lasagna, broken into large pieces

Instructions:

1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

2.  Heat olive oil to medium in a large skillet. Add sausage, and cook for 10 minutes, or until almost cooked through. Add onions, and cook for 2 minutes to soften. Lower temperature, and add garlic. Cook for 10 minutes, or until onions and garlic are soft and clear.   Add squash, and toss well together. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until squash is soft and all begins to meld like a sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3.  Meanwhile, add pasta to pot and cook according to the box. Drain, and add pasta to the skillet with the vegetables. Toss gently. Add cheese and toss again. This pasta is almost better allowed to cool a bit, and not served piping hot, so leave in the uncovered skillet for 10 minutes, then stir in the basil. Drizzle in more olive oil, if the dish seems dry. Taste again for salt and pepper. Serve in bowls, garnished with more fresh basil, and salt and pepper.