Savor the bounty! Whether harvested from your own backyard garden or bought at a local farmers’ market, nothing is more satisfying than delicious fresh vegetables. In this seasonal cookbook, Andrea Chesman offers 175 easy-to-make recipes that are designed to bring out the very best in whatever produce is currently peaking. From spring’s first Peas and New Potato Salad to autumn’s sweet Caramelized Winter Squash and Onion Pizza, serving up the harvest has never been so tasty!
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About the Author
Andrea Chesman is the author of The Fat Kitchen as well as many other cookbooks that focus on traditional techniques and fresh-from-the-garden cooking. Her previous books include The Pickled Pantry, Serving Up the Harvest, 101 One-Dish Dinners, and The Backyard Homestead Book of Kitchen Know-How. She teaches and gives cooking demonstrations and classes across the United States. She lives in Ripton, Vermont.
Read an Excerpt
THE WELL-STOCKED PANTRY
NOTHING BEATS THE SIMPLE PLEASURE that comes from eyeing a basket of freshly harvested vegetables — be it from your own garden or a CSA or a farm-stand — and cooking whatever appeals to you at that moment. If your kitchen is well stocked with staples, you'll be able to whip up a delicious dish at a moment's notice.
A well-stocked kitchen contains an assortment of oils, vinegars, and soy sauce. Chicken broth, pasta, rice, flour, nuts, canned beans, salt, pepper, and spices are also items you should never be without.
Chicken or vegetable broth is a pantry staple, needed for braised vegetables and some soups, stews, and sauces. I try to keep a supply of homemade chicken broth (see page 9) in the freezer. But to guarantee I am never without it, I also stock a quart or two of store-bought broth in the cupboard. You'll have to taste a variety of chicken broths before you can settle on your house brand; quality and availability vary tremendously. I usually stock organic free-range chicken broth. It comes in shelf-stable aseptic boxes and keeps longer in the refrigerator once opened than homemade broth.
Vegetarians can substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth, but commercial vegetable broths are tricky. Often one flavor dominates, especially carrots or tomatoes, making the broth unsuited for some applications. Or the broth's flavors are muddy and unpleasant. Taste before you use; generally ones labeled "un-chicken" are the most neutral in flavor. A recipe for vegetable broth can be found on page 8.
Many recipes start with sautéing garlic or onion in oil. I stock extra-virgin olive oil as my daily cooking oil and salad oil. It is a heart-healthy monounsaturated oil. It is also the oil of choice for coating vegetables that are to be grilled or roasted. To add more flavor to the oil, you can infuse it with herbs (seepage 5).
When a neutral-tasting oil is needed, I use canola oil, another monounsaturated oil. For stir-fries or deep-frying, I might use peanut oil because it has a high smoking point, but canola oil is fine to use. I also use toasted dark sesame oil in stir-fries for flavor.
Vinegar isn't just for salad dressing and pickles. A drizzle of vinegar finishes roasted vegetables to great effect. It is also used in sauces when a sharp contrasting flavor is needed. I regularly use several different vinegars when I cook.
If you are buying vinegar for making pickles, make sure the vinegar contains 4 to 6 percent acetic acid and has a 40- to 50-grain strength.
True aceto balsamico is made only in Emilia-Romagna, Italy. It has been aged for at least 12 years, resulting in a vinegar that is fruity, thick, rich, and dark brown. This is an expensive vinegar; you can pay anywhere from $15 for 250 ml (about 1 ¼ cups) aged 6 years to more than $200 for vinegar aged for 200 years. If you are paying less, you probably are getting vinegar that has been flavored and colored with caramel syrup. Do yourself a favor: Buy the best you can afford and use it sparingly. White balsamic vinegar is actually clear, and it adds sweetness without color to salad dressings.
Cider vinegar is made from apples and is great for using in sweet pickles. Its cidery flavor is rather pronounced. It is also good in some tomato-based salad dressings.
Red Wine Vinegar
Made from red wine, red wine vinegar is sharp and slightly fruity in flavor. The best red wines are aged in oak casks. One can find varietal vinegars as well as less expensive blended red wine vinegar.
Used extensively in Asian cooking, this vinegar is mild and sweet. It is sometimes called rice wine vinegar. Rice vinegar does not always have the same acidity of other vinegars, so it cannot be used for preserving foods. Buy the unseasoned kind so you can control the flavorings you add.
From Spain, sherry vinegar is a distinctively flavored red wine vinegar that works well with most vegetable dishes. Its flavor tends to be milder and sweeter than red wine vinegar and has a nutty undertone.
Strong but neutral in character, white vinegar, or distilled white vinegar, is used mainly in making pickles. It is also used in certain sauces from Southeast Asia.
White Wine Vinegar
White wine vinegar may be made from a single wine or from blended wines, as with red wine vinegar. Quality varies with price. White wine vinegars range from fruity to dry. The advantage of white wine vinegar is that it does not color foods, as red wine vinegar will.
Condiments and Sauces
I have a cupboard near my stove filled with bottles of oils, vinegars, soy sauces, fish sauces, hot sauces, and the like. I have a refrigerator likewise filled with opened bottles of mustard, chili sauce, chutneys, and pickles. If I had to start over, the following is what I would stock first.
Asian Fish Sauce
Fish sauce is used extensively in Southeast Asian countries, much the same way soy sauce is used. It is a clear liquid, ranging in color from amber to dark brown. Salty and pungent, its flavor is less strong than its odor. Fish sauce is made by layering salt and fish in barrels and allowing the fish to ferment. The liquid that accumulates from this process is the fish sauce. In Thailand, the sauce is called nam pla; in Vietnam it is called nuoc mam. Buy imported fish sauce from either country.
Made from ground yellow, black, or white mustard seeds, mustard adds a distinct spicy flavor to many dishes, especially a classic vinaigrette.
Mustards are a popular condiment, amenable to so many different styles and flavorings that one can belong to a mustard-of-the-month club. For the recipes in this book you will need American ballpark mustard, the ubiquitous bright yellow mustard made from a smooth blend of yellow mustard seeds, vinegar, and turmeric, and Dijon mustard, made from mustard seeds, wine, salt, and spices. Dijon mustard is creamy in texture, gray-yellow in color, and has a clean, sharp flavor, which makes it perfect for vinaigrettes.
Buy mustard in small jars, keep opened jars refrigerated, and use within 6 months, before the flavor fades.
Soy sauce is made from fermented soy beans and a grain, usually wheat, and aged for a few years. The best soy sauces have no additives or artificial color. Tamari is a pure Japanese dark soy sauce. It is slightly less salty than many Chinese soy sauces. Kikkoman is a very reliable brand of soy sauce that is available in most supermarkets. Pearl River Bridge is another good brand, but is not as widely available.
Salt and Pepper
Salt and pepper are the most important seasonings in your cupboard. Treat yourself to some coarse sea salt or kosher salt for sprinkling on grilled and roasted vegetables especially. Sea salt is made from evaporated seawater. It contains minerals in addition to the sodium chloride found in table salt and kosher salt, and hence has more flavor. Black pepper should always be freshly ground.
In the Refrigerator
Lemons are a necessary item for many recipes. Select fruits with glossy, fine-grained skin, and store in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks. A lemon will yield 2 to 4 tablespoons of juice.
Parmesan cheese is another refrigerator staple. Buy authentic Parmesan from Italy and grate it as needed. The best are labeled Parmigiano-Reggiano.
It's amazing how much a sprinkling of nuts can spark up a ho-hum vegetable or add crunch and texture to a salad. Almonds, cashews, pine nuts, walnuts, pecans, and peanuts all have their uses. Because nuts have a high fat content, they should be kept in the refrigerator to prevent rancidity. Shelled nuts can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 months or frozen for up to 8 months. Unshelled nuts will keep twice as long.
The recipes collected here are for basic ingredients — flavored vinegars, broths, and herb combinations — that you may want to stock up on when you have the time. It will make cooking from the garden much easier.
The best time to collect herbs is before they go to flower. Collect in the morning, after the dew has dried from the leaves but before the hot sun has evaporated the essential oils from the leaves. It is easiest to begin the process in a regular canning jar. After the vinegar is infused with herbs, you may want to transfer it to a better bottle for pouring. Recycled wine bottles work well, and can be used as gift bottles as well. Corks are available from many hardware stores.
MAKES 1 QUART
1 ½ – 2 cups fresh, firmly packed herbs (a single type or a mixture of herbs), plus additional herbs to identify the finished product
3 – 3 ½ cups red wine, white wine, or sherry vinegar
1 Wash the herbs in a basin of cool water. Remove any discolored or insect-damaged leaves. It is fine to keep the leaves on the stems. Dry the herbs in a salad spinner or pat dry. Be sure the herbs are completely dry before proceeding.
2 Pack the herbs into a clean canning jar. Pour the vinegar over the herbs.
3 Store in a cool, dark place for 2 to 6 weeks, shaking the mixture every few days. Begin tasting after 2 weeks. When the vinegar is flavorful, it is ready.
4 Pack a single fresh herb into a clean storage bottle to identify the flavoring in the bottle. This is optional, but very helpful.
5 Strain the vinegar through a coffee filter to remove all herbal debris, and pour into the storage bottle. Cork or cap, label, and store in a dark cool place. The vinegar will keep indefinitely.
Pesto — the heavenly paste made from fresh basil, Parmesan, olive oil, and pine nuts — is an incredibly versatile flavoring agent. It is worth the space in the garden to grow as many basil plants as you can, so you can make many batches of pesto to freeze and have it available year-round. This is the recipe I use.
MAKES ABOUT 2/3 CUP
1 ½ cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves
2 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, almonds, or walnuts (see page 7)
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional oil for sealing the top
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until finely chopped.
2 Add the oil through the feed tube with the motor running and continue processing until you have a smooth paste. Briefly mix in the cheese and salt and pepper to taste.
3 Set aside for at least 20 minutes to allow the flavors to develop if you are going to use the pesto immediately. Otherwise, spoon it into an airtight container and pour in enough oil to completely cover the pesto and exclude any air. Seal and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
herbes de provence
Herbes de Provence is a blend of dried herbs characteristic of the cooking of southern France. Typically, the blend will contain dried basil, fennel seed, lavender, marjoram, rosemary, sage, summer savory, and thyme. The herb mix can be bought wherever herbs are sold, or you can make your own.
MAKES ABOUT ¾ CUP
3 tablespoons dried basil
3 tablespoons dried marjoram
3 tablespoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons dried summer savory
1 ½ teaspoons dried rosemary
½ teaspoon dried lavender flowers
½ teaspoon dried sage
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
Combine all the ingredients and store in a covered jar.
Toasting brings out the flavor in nuts.
MAKES 1 CUP
1 cup almonds, cashews, pine nuts, pecans, or walnuts
Toast the nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally until golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Alternatively, preheat the oven to 350°F, spread out the nuts on a baking sheet, and bake, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown.
The distinction between broth and stock is slight — broth is salted to taste at the end of the cooking, whereas stock remains unsalted. It is easier to cook with broth because the flavors are more easily discerned once the salt is added. But when using broth in a recipe, be sure that any additional salt is added to taste.
YIELD: 3 ½–4 QUARTS
1 large onion
¼ small head cabbage
1 fennel bulb
4 garlic cloves
1 bunch parsley
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup dried porcini mushrooms
4 quarts water
1 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon black peppercorns Salt (optional)
1 Quarter the carrots, leeks, onion, cabbage, fennel, and garlic. Combine with the parsley, thyme, and mushrooms in a large soup pot. Add the water. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
2 Add the wine and peppercorns and continue to simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Strain and discard all the solids.
3 Season to taste with salt, or leave unsalted and use as a base for soups and grain dishes. Use immediately or cool, then refrigerate. It will keep for about 5 days in the refrigerator or 4 to 6 months in the freezer.
Save chicken parts, such as wings, backs, and necks, for making broth. If you are buying chicken specifically to make broth, buy dark meat. It is less expensive than white meat and more flavorful. The additional fat in the dark meat will be skimmed off and discarded.
YIELD: 2–3 QUARTS
3–4 pounds chicken parts
1 large onion, quartered
4 stalks celery
4 garlic cloves
1 bunch parsley
4 quarts water Salt (optional)
1 Combine the chicken, onion, celery, garlic, and parsley in a large soup pot. Add the water. Cover and bring just to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat and simmer gently for 2 hours with the lid partially on. Do not allow the soup to boil.
2 Strain and discard the vegetables. Remove the meat from the bones and save the meat for another use, such as chicken salad.
3 Chill the broth for several hours. Skim off the fat that rises to the top and hardens.
4 Season to taste with salt, if desired. Use immediately or cool, then refrigerate. It will keep for about 3 days in the refrigerator or 4 to 6 months in the freezer.
basic pie pastry
This recipe can be used for two single-crust pies or free-form tarts or one double crust.
MAKES PASTRY FOR 9-INCH OR 10-INCH PIES OR TARTS
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter or vegetable shortening
6–7 tablespoons cold water
1 Mix together the flour and salt in a food processor. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. With the motor running, add the water. Alternatively, stir together the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the water over the flour mixture and stir together. Press the mixture into two disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2 Lightly flour a surface and roll out one ball of dough on the surface, working from the center out in all directions until you have a 12-inch round. If you are making a single-crust pie, fold the dough in half and ease into the pie pan with the fold in the center. Unfold the dough and trim it to the edge of the pie pan. If you are making a tart, transfer to a baking sheet by partially rolling the dough onto the rolling pin, then unrolling it onto the baking sheet. The tart shell is now ready to bake.
3 If you are making a double-crust pie, roll out the second piece of dough in the same manner, but make into a slightly larger circle. Place on the filled pie. Trim the dough 1/2 inch beyond the edge of the pie plate. Fold the extra under the bottom crust. Crimp the edges. Prick holes into the top piece of dough in several places to allow steam to escape. Bake as directed.
4 To bake the dough for an unfilled single crust, preheat the oven to 450°F. Fit the bottom crust into the pie pan as directed in step 2, and trim and crimp the edges. Prick the dough with a fork, covering the surface with tiny holes. For a partially baked crust, bake for 5 to 10 minutes, until barely colored. For a fully baked crust, bake 10 to 15 minutes, until browned. Let cool or use as directed.
Consider these bacon bites done right. Prosciutto chips make a terrific topping for a salad, without the greasiness of bacon. Also, the process of making chips will not leave your kitchen smelling like a diner during the breakfast rush.
MAKES 2 CUPS
4 paper-thin slices prosciutto (about 2 ounces)
1 Preheat the oven to 400°F.
2 Cut the prosciutto into ½-inch strips and lay them out on two rimmed, ungreased baking sheets in a single layer.
3 Roast for 5 to 8 minutes, until crisp and darkened but not burned.
4 Use immediately or store for a few days in the refrigerator. To restore the crisp texture, heat in a 300° F oven for 3 to 4 minutes.
Excerpted from "Serving Up the Harvest"
Copyright © 2007 Andrea Chesman.
Excerpted by permission of Storey Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
PrefaceAcknowledgmentsThe Well-Stocked PantryMastering the Basics: Methods & RecipesSpring into SummerAsparagus: A Perennial FavoritePeas: Always Sweet, Always WelcomeSpinach: A Very Compliant GreenSalad Greens: The Spring TonicSalad DressingsHeight of the Season: SpringEarly to Mid-SummerBeets: Upbeat about BeetsBroccoli: A Popular Vegetable with Many CousinsCucumbers: Think PicklesSnap Beans: You'll Never Have Too Many Once You Try Roasting ThemSwiss Chard: Easy, Delicious, BeautifulZucchini & Summer Squash: Nature's Blank PaletteMid- to Late SummerArtichokes: Noble VegetablesCelery & Celery Root: No Thriving with NeglectChiles & Peppers: Some Like 'em HotCorn: An Ancient Plant of Many UsesEggplant: Made for the GrillFennel: A Vegetable That Deserves More AttentionOkra: The Garden Beauty QueenShell Beans: They Weren't All Created EqualSweet Potatoes: A Real HeadlinerTomatoes: The Stars of SummerHeight of the Season: SummerFall into WinterBelgian Endives: The Basement HarvestBrussels Sprouts: Love 'em or Leave 'emCabbage: Speaks Many LanguagesCarrots: Who Knew They Were So Much Better Fresh?Cauliflower: Queen or Brat of the Garden?Garlic: Planting Hope Each FallJerusalem Artichokes: They Grow Like WeedsKale: A Green in Many ColorsLeeks: Delicate Members of the Onion FamilyOnions: A Flavor Worth SavoringParsnips: Who'd Have Thought They Could Be This Good?Potatoes: Baked, Boiled & KnishedRutabagas: They Aren't TurnipsWinter Squash & Pumpkins: The Pumpkin's in the PieHeight of the Season: Fall into WinterAppendixPreserving the HarvestResourcesIndex
What People are Saying About This
"An edible tour of the growing seasons with dozens of tempting recipes."
—Molly Stevens, author of All About Braising
"Andrea Chesman deftly extracts the pleasures and possibilities that can be gained from eating in the place we live....a cache of recipes, stories, and ideas for no matter where you live."
—Deborah Madison,author of Local Flavors and Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
“No matter where you find your vegetables, their fresh-from-the-earth goodness demands inspired preparation. Andrea Chesman shares more than 175 recipes designed to bring out the very best in produce. Serving up the harvest has never been so delicious!” – Mother Earth News