Monday, November 21, 2016

The Foodist Returns! First Frost Recipes Pt. 1

Well, it’s mid November and here we go!  Winter!  Even though the temperatures aren’t that low yet, those winds are sure bringing out the space heaters, the layers, the firewood, and the hats in our homestead.

At my Facebook page, The Philly Foodist, I have been posting pictures over the past couple of weeks of the seasonal dishes I'm trying out.  And, of course, we are slipping quickly into comfort food time.  As you know from my FB page, we have pretty much wrapped up our canning activities for the season, except for sauerkraut making, fermenting some peppers and the ongoing production of chicken and vegetable stocks and jars of red onion jam for the holidays. The growing areas have all been winterized and the cold frame is planted and will provide us with salad greens, hardy greens and spinach for awhile anyhow. So the kitchen calls. Time to let cooking ease us into Winter.

The following recipes are the first two of a number I'll be sharing. They are straightforward, use seasonal and local ingredients, and a technique as much as a recipe.  Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be posting a number of cold weather dishes - again, using local and seasonal ingredients - that will warm you up and feed you well.


Carrots and Ricotta - perfect together!

Carrot Ricotta Tart (adapted from Saveur Oct/Nov 2016).  A very delicious and versatile tart. And, dare we say, pretty healthy!

One pastry dough - whatever is your favorite savory dough
Two cups of fresh ricotta 
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
Kosher salt
10 medium carrots - if you can get mixed colors, use them
Juice of 4 lemons
1/8 teaspoon of lemon zest
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground caraway seeds
Cilantro leaves, for garnish
Sea salt for finishing

1.Whip together the ricotta, two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, a generous pinch of salt and the lemon zest; the mixture should be very smooth.  Add a tablespoon of olive oil if it is not smooth enough.
2. Shave the carrots.  I found the easiest way was on the large holes of a box grater.

3.  Toss the shaved carrots in a vinaigrette made from six tablespoons of the olive oil, the lemon juice, the caraway seeds, the coriander and a pinch of salt.  Squeeze the carrots as you remove them from the vinaigrette; let the dressing fall back into the bowl and set the carrots in another bowl.

4.  On a floured surface, roll out the pastry dough into a thin 11 x 16 rectangle and trim the ends if needed.  Line a baking sheet with parchment and move the dough to the sheet.  Chill the dough for 10 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

5. Spread the ricotta mixture all over the dough - leaving about 1/2 inch all around for a border.  Brush olive oil all around the border of the tart dough.

6.  Pile the carrots on top of the ricotta - spreading them evenly all over the top of the tart. 

7.  Bake the tart, rotating halfway through, for 30 - 35 minutes.  Look for a little bit of browning on the tops of the carrots. 

8.  Remove the tart from the oven and sprinkle the remaining vinaigrette over it; garnish with cilantro leaves and finish with sea salt.

Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.  Great in small squares as an appetizer or cocktail party finger food.  As a dinner, add some chicken sausages and a winter greens salad.  Enjoy.

Sweet and Sour Roasted Peppers with Capers (adapted from Preserving Italy by Domenica Marchetti)

A Rainbow of Roasted Peppers
Peppers & Capers in Jars
Jars of these make a wonderful gift or a hostess gift.  They keep in the refrigerator for months and can be added to crostini, sandwiches, pasta, and are wonderful with cheeses.


3 pounds of Bell Peppers in assorted colors
2 tablespoons of large capers
1 cup of white wine vinegar
1 cup of water
1/4 cup of sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt
2 cloves of garlic, sliced very thin
Extra virgin olive oil

2 Sterilized 1 pint jars with their lids


1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2.  Put the peppers on an oven rack - with a foil underneath to catch drippings - and roast the peppers for at least 25 - 35 minutes.  You are looking for a blackening and wrinkling of the skin; smaller peppers with become very soft. 
3.  When the peppers are done, lift them out with tongs into a bowl.  Immediately cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the peppers steam for at least 20 minutes.
4.  When the peppers are sufficiently steamed, peel the skins from the peppers, remove the seeds and the tops and slice the peppers in about 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices.  Be sure to drain the peppers from the oil that accumulates in the bowl.  (NOTE:  we save this oil - it imparts a strong flavor of pepper.  We love it.)

5.  Set the slices of peppers aside, add the capers and stir them through.

6.  Mix the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and garlic in a small sauce pan.  Bring the mixture to a boil until the salt and sugar are fully dissolved. 

7.  Pour the brine mixture over the peppers and capers and set aside for one hour.

8.  After an hour drain the peppers and reserve  4-5 tablespoons of the brine.  Pack the peppers and capers into the two pint jars.  Spoon 2 tablespoons of the brine into each jar over the peppers; add olive oil to cover completely.

9.  Cover the jars tightly and let them sit in a cool place for 24 hours.  Check the jars to be sure that the olive oil is totally covering the peppers. If not, add more oil.  Let the jars cure for a day or two and then refrigerator them.  To use them, take out what you want to use and let that come to room temperature.  Keep the olive oil level up so that it covers the remaining peppers.  They will keep in the refrigerator for at least three months.  Enjoy. 

NEXT:  Buttermilk/Pear Pie and Olive Oil Cake with Fruit.