Thursday, April 17, 2014

Easier than it looks: Chocolate and Berry Tamales!

Sweet Tamales
It seems like forever since the last summer’s farmer’s market!

I’m in serious withdrawal.

Whenever my husband Dan and I discuss the upcoming season, the conversation veers from ‘Are these tablecloths too far gone?’  To “What’s the first thing you’re going to eat?”

For him, a Stony Pond Farm’s burger with an over-easy egg will be ‘first’ breakfast.

My thoughts went to gluten-free tamales, but all hopes faded, because there aren’t any.

The market’s Tamale Girl, Monica Mead, now lives half a world away.

The wildly swinging temperatures this spring reminded me of the pink-colored sweet tamales she sold, and I had strawberries, blueberries and cranberries in the freezer.  

Could I really make them?

There’s no harm in trying…

It took me longer than I’ll admit to just to work up a chicken tamale recipe - and some of those were so bad that my taste-tester/husband refused to sample any more.

Party Pooper!

As they steamed, the house filled with the heady fragrance of berries and chocolate truffles.

These were fluffy, moist, and filled my heart and belly with the promise of a bountiful summer. 
Sweet Tamale
Very Berry Tamales
Makes 12-14


1 Cup Masa Harina (Masarepa, or Maseca)
½ tsp. Baking Powder
¼ tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/8 tsp. Ground Ginger
1/8 tsp. Ground Nutmeg

1 Egg White
2 TB Honey or Maple Syrup
2/3 Cup Fruit Puree (Blueberries, Strawberries, Cranberries)
½ to ¾ Cup Whole Milk

2 TB Unsalted Butter, room temperature


¼ to ½ Cup Black Raspberry Jelly
½ to ¾ Cup Ghirardelli Chocolate Chips
¼ tsp. Ground Cinnamon

12-14 Dried Corn Husks softened in hot water.

Additional equipment:

Steamer; or a pot of boiling water, a colander, and aluminum foil.


In a stand mixer, cream butter until light.

In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients with a whisk.

Mix wet ingredients together in another bowl.

Alternate adding ¼ cup of dry, then wet ingredients to butter - beating well after each addition.
First Stage of Batter
When batter is the consistency of stiff cookie dough, beat for 1-2 minutes, reserving any extra liquid.

Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Batter Ready for Tamales
Beat in reserved liquid until a thick batter forms.  (Use more milk if necessary)

Microwave a spoonful and adjust sweetness to your liking
Just Prior to the Fold and Tie
Spread 2 tablespoons of batter on a husk.  Top with 1 tablespoon each of the jelly and chocolate chips

Roll and tie the tamales. (Aluminum foil works as well.)


Steam over Medium-low heat for 1 to 1/12 hours, until batter is set and pulls away from wrapping.
Berry Chocolate Tamale
These are best served immediately, but can be cooled, frozen, and reheated in a steamer or microwave.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Recent Cooks...

Sunny-side Up with Duck confit
 And cheese.  And onions.  Sunnies are my favorite, next to poached...

Gluten-free Calzone
 Dough had olives and Parmesan in it.  Filling was mostly leftovers: smoked pork, broccoli, carrots, onions, shiitakes, Jack and Mozzarella, and a few fresh cherry tomatoes.  Ate this for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Cup4cup GF flour has no equal - so far :)

Crockpot Country Pork Ribs
 Meh...I missed the smoke from cooking outside.

Farm Fresh Eggs and Sausage
Our eggs, our sausage.  And I need to point out - properly made scramble!  Eggs go whole into the pan - not whisked beforehand.   Way I was taught to make them- but can't remember by whom...

Venison Tenderloin

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Quick and Easy: Baked Walleye

 Baked Walleye
Here’s a fish dish that comes together quickly and takes very little time to cook. 

That’s important because standing for long periods of time is difficult with this cast on my foot.  Plus, I keep bumping into the cabinets and the cats, and tripping when I catch an uneven kitchen floor tile.

This recipe is from a very long time ago, when I worked a 9-5 job. I wanted the flavor of chowder without the work.

And comfort.  And convenience.

When I was growing up, plain kettle-style chips were used to embellish tuna casserole and mac ‘n cheese.

The chips in this particular recipe are not just for the pretty; they provide both salt and texture.

There are so few ingredients – every single one has to “bring it”.

The cheese doesn’t have to be Havarti, but it’s butteriness and acidity complements fish and cream without becoming dominant.

Serve with oven-roasted winter vegetables. Preferably the ones that don’t take a lot of fuss - like slender baby carrots and Brussels sprouts, especially if you need to be off your feet.

Like me.
Easy Fish Dish
 Simply Baked Fish
Serves 2-3

1 lb. Walleye Filets (or Cod)
Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
½ Pint Heavy Cream
4 ounces Havarti, Shredded
A handful of Plain Kettle Chips

Preheat oven to 375f

Place fish in a shallow oven-proof dish just large enough to accommodate it. 

Season with pepper on both sides.

Pour cream over fish, top with havarti.

Crush chips and sprinkle over the top.

Fish Casserole
Bake for 20 minutes, or until fish flakes easily.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Smokey Rack of Lamb

Willow Hill Farm Lamb
 It was just nice enough outside to fire up the Traeger pig smoker.  This Redeye Express rubbed rack smoked for 1 1/2 hours with mesquite, then inside for a sear in the cast iron pan, finished baking in a 300f oven until 125f. (about 15 minutes).

Saturday, March 1, 2014

All Local: Lamb and Walleye

Lamb Shank Tagine
 225f for 8 hours - no liquid, just shanks, carrots and sprouts.

Fish Chowder
Big Wow!  Walleye, carrots, potatoes, butter, cream - there just isn't a bad meal when using the best ingredients.   Secret: poach the veggies in stock, turn off the heat after the potatoes are done, add the cream, butter and fish last - so they don't overcook.

Good the first day - exceptional on the second!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Madison Blue 2014

Green Mountain Blue Cheese - Madison Blue
We've been experimenting with a smaller size for extra-aged blues.  They are much easier to care for and cut than the 20-pound wheels.

Going forward, we will be trying batches of pasteurized cheeses for farmer's market - and bringing back Brother Laurent!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Recent Cooks, Broke Foot Edition

Smoked Wings
 Teriyaki laqueured up front, dry rub (Dizzy Pig) in the background.

Shepherd's Pie
A real shepherd's pie with Willow Hill Farm lamb, kale, and Vermont Creamery Creme Fraiche in the potatoes.  Wow, just wow!

I've been cooking dishes that don't require standing for any period of time.  Broken foot from an icy slip-and-fall is now at week four.  Still some bruising - and pain - but I can take a few steps without the aircast, and am sleeping through most of the night.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Pork Chops with Honey Mustard Sauce and Cracklins

Boucher Farm Pork
When I was growing up, two sauces were served with frequency at both home and school – white (cheese optional), and red (beef optional).

My mother had one more, though it was more of a glaze.

She mixed brown sugar with yellow weenie mustard, poured it over a block of SPAM and baked it.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, because it’s one of my favorite stories.

I can never recall what was served for sides because the vinegary shellacking and absence of presentation made it a hard sell.

I was very suspicious and absolute in my belief that meat did not plop whole, out of a can, like jellied cranberry sauce. 

(This bad girl had to go to her room for what she said.)

I have made significant strides with Mom’s Mustard Sauce, and now I’m sharing.

It’s been mellowed and balanced, with honeyed sweet and sour notes - and can be made with all-local ingredients.

Though it still goes with SPAM, I was feeling pork chops tonight.

This is my 27th Wedding Anniversary/Valentine’s Day dinner for two.
Pork Chop with Cracklins 
 Pork Chops with Honey Mustard Sauce and Cracklins
Serves 2

2 Double-cut Pork Chops (2-in. thick, end cut), trimmed, reserve fat
Double-cut Pork Chops
Salt and pepper

Sauce Ingredients:

½ Red Onion, sliced thinly

1TB Butter
1TB Rice Vinegar
1TB Honey
1TB Prepared Mustard

Pork Trimmings


Slice fat thinly, season heavily with S&P.  Render in a pan set over low heat 30-40 minutes, until browned crispy bits form. 

Strain and reserve cracklins for garnish. Use 1 TB for frying chops, refrigerate the remainder. *


Set oven to 300f

Season with S&P, and sear 5-6 minutes per side (medium heat).

Place pan in oven for 15-20 minutes, until chops are cooked through.
Seared Chops, ready for baking


Sauté onions over medium-low heat until softened.

Turn burner to lowest setting.

Add remaining ingredients and stir until slightly reduced.

Pour over chops and serve.

* Pork fat is required for cracklins, but bacon is a fine substitution.