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Going to the Mexican restaurant, South at the Pybus Public Market in Wenatchee has introduced me to the idea of using cream sauce in Mexican cooking. Whereas before I would have thought red sauce versus green sauce and that’s the end of it, I now think of cream sauce in reference to Mexican food.

The other day when I was there for lunch I had the Puebla enchilada – vegetarian – and it was quite yummy although the zucchini wasn’t cooked all the way through. Lunch Menu: http://www.southleavenworth.com/lunch-pybus.html And it had two sauces – a light green sauce and then a light cream swirled over the top. Which of course inspired me to take my own risks and mix the two.

Behold my vegetarian cubed potato, onion, garlic, green pepper and chard enchiladas, which were pronounced quite edible by the toughest taste tester around : )

 

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The green sauce is of course La Victoria, but inside I added a cream sauce made of roux, whipping cream and a little Mexican sour cream. I used Feta cheese since I had it lying about – I had intended to make watermelon and feta salad but never did, I just ate the watermelon! – and I wasn’t in the mood for the whole “helmet of cheese” Mexican experience. The feta and the cream sauce merged well with the potatoes and the green sauce and the olives on top added a bit more protein. Further proof that eating veg isn’t a death sentence!

Remember, eat your veggies!

*Recipe*

I started with two large potatoes, cubed and par-boiled

Sauteed one large white onion and one green bell pepper

added two cloves of garlic

added one large leaf of Swiss Chard

For the sauce: I used 2 Tb butter and about 1 Tb flour, about half a pint a whipping cream and a large spoonful of Mexican sour cream. Into that I put ground Oregano and Cumin and it quickly thickened. I didn’t let it get too thick since it would bake for a while anyway.

After that was done, I poured a little bit of the La Victoria green enchilada sauce in the bottom of the sprayed baking dish, and used the Don Pancho “golden” tortillas which are corn + flour to hold the ingredients. I stuffed each tortilla with potatoes, the sauteed vegetable mix, feta cheese and a little cream sauce. Over the top I poured the green sauce and then tossed on sliced black olives and the last bit of feta.

Baked at 350 for 40 mins.

It was awesome!

🙂

 

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Shallots from our 2012 Wenatche Valley Farmers Market booth.

People come up to us at the stand and are excited to see that we’ve got shallots. Fact is, we’re growing the famous French grey shallots this year and we think they’ll be a smash hit. But other people stop and question what is a shallot? The quick answer is it’s a milder onion.

Shallots are technically an alium, which puts them in the same family as garlic and onions.

  • The shallot is a botanical variety of the species Alliumcepa, to which the multiplier onion also belongs.
  • Shallots probably originated in Central or Southeast Asia, travelling from there to India and the eastern Mediterranean.
  • Like garlic, shallots are formed in clusters of offsets with a head composed of multiple cloves. The skin colour of shallots can vary from golden brown to gray to rose red, and their off-white flesh is usually tinged with green or magenta.
  • Shallots are extensively cultivated for culinary uses.

Like onions and garlic, they form a bulb underground and send a long green stalk upwards. When that turns brown and falls over, the shallots are generally ready to harvest. Storage for them is similar. Dry them down, keep them from getting overly warm or damp, and they will store for six months or more. You can use them in much the same way as onions, but their flavor is different. They are nothing like a Walla Walla Sweet, nor are they as spicy as garlic. I think the best way to try the grey shallots and get used to the flavor is raw.

Here’s a great recipe for using raw shallots and cherry tomatoes:

Cherry Tomato Salad

2 T balsamic vinegar
1 T red wine vinegar
1 large shallot, minced
1 T drained capers
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup (plus 2 T) extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup finely shredded basil

***************
In a large bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, shallot, capers and garlic. Whisk in the oil slowly and season with salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes and basil and toss. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com/2008/08/cherry-tomato-salad.html

And here’s another:

Baby Yukon Potato Salad with Shallots, Chives, Bacon and Lemon Vinaigrette

1-3/4 lb. baby Yukon Gold potatoes
kosher salt
4 strips bacon
1/4 cup minced shallot (from 1 large shallot)
2 tablespoons cider vinegar or white-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
freshly ground black pepper

Put the potatoes in a 4 – 5 quart saucepan and cover by about 2 inches with cold water. Add 1 T salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil gently until the potatoes are tender enough to pierce easily with a fork, about 20 minutes. Don’t overcook them or they will fall apart.

Meanwhile, put the bacon slices in a cold 10-inch skillet and cook over medium heat, turning occasionally, until crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer to paper towel lined plate, reserving the drippings. Coarsely chop or crumble the bacon and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the shallots, vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar and 1/2 tsp salt.

Drain the potatoes in a large colander and let cool slightly. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut in half any that are larger than a walnut. Taste a bit of potato skin; if it is bitter or feels tough, peel all the potatoes with a paring knife.

Drop the potatoes into the bowl with the shallot mixture. Add the olive oil, 2 T of the chives, 1 T bacon drippings, and the chopped bacon. Toss to combine. (It may appear that there’s too much dressing, but it will be absorbed). Let the salad sit for 20 minutes. Season to taste with black pepper and more salt, if necessary. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 T chives. Serve warm or at room temperature.

http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com/2008/02/baby-yukon-potato-salad-with-shallots.html

Bon appetit!

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Dear veggie lovers,

I’ve eaten kale – in several different varieties – for years. Years! But until recently I hadn’t heard of “kale chips,” the new and cool way to eat it. And it seemed as though once I’d heard about it, the subject came up over and over and over again, though no two people do them exactly the same way.

Invariably, at every Wenatchee Valley Farmers Market, someone comes up to the stand to buy kale, and says they are going to take it home to make kale chips. Older folks, young people, they all know about this phenomenon. A lot of them make it in the oven but we had a lady last Saturday who said she makes it in the food dehydrator!

So this begged the question, what are kale chips? And then, how do they taste? Are they good? Truthfully it sounded … odd. I’ve heard of toasting coconut, sure, and even nuts, and I’ve dehydrated peppers in the oven. (Dave has also made “dashboard dried tomatoes”). But sucking the water out of kale and calling it a treat? A green leafy vegetable? Wouldn’t that be weird?

Nah! It’s better than it sounds, believe me. It’s actually pretty damn good!

It’s also easy to make. The Food Network has this basic recipe for Crispy Kale Chips:

Ingredients

  • 1 head kale, washed and thoroughly dried
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Sea salt, for sprinkling

Directions

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

Remove the ribs from the kale and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Lay on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil and salt. Bake until crisp, turning the leaves halfway through, about 20 minutes. Serve as finger food.

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Siberian kale chips roasting.

This works out great – but we turned the oven up to 300. It still cooks for about 20 mins, but you gotta watch the little buggers. Also, some recipes say to turn them halfway through. You can turn them or not. It doesn’t matter much to the final product. One tip though: don’t just drizzle the oil on, massage the oil into the leaves with your hands to make sure they are well coated. Then, bake away.

What you end up with when you remove the kale from the oven is this:

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Green, crunchy, slightly salty – chips – for lack of a better word. And though they are more delicate than actual potato chips, they taste almost as good. Really! They satisfy a salt craving and I dare you to eat just one. Really. It ain’t gonna happen.

BE PREPARED FOR THEM TO GO FAST!

Burp.

Now, some folks will tell you to only use Scotch Kale for the chips, and others stick by Siberian. Try them both – we sell both of course! – and see if you find a difference.

And not everyone does them in the oven or uses the same seasonings. The lady that makes them in the food dehydrator uses nutritional yeast for flavor, so experiment. Be creative. The basic necessary ingredients are oil and salt. And kale, of course.

As if we needed more evidence that kale is the wonder food!

Eat your veggies!

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Dear Veggie Lovers,

I’ve been meaning to write a post about winter gardening for a while, but it looks as though I’ve waited nearly too long. Though the days are still chilly, most of the snow in Wenatchee is gone, and as any good gardener knows, snow is the key to successful winter gardening.

In fact, it’s better to have snow than simply freezing temps. Last winter, the Wenatchee area saw severe cold snaps in November 2010 and February 2011 that damaged fruit trees at higher elevations.

Kale, collards, cabbage, and other traditionally cold-hearty crops also died in the home garden. All that was left to eat was the spinach!

But this year, we got enough snow cover during the coldest part of the winter — knock on wood — that helped most of the cold crops breeze right on through. Right now, we have kale, carrots, beets, leeks, and yes, even spinach out there thanks to the season’s earlier snow cover. Here’s how it looked in the home garden back on January 22nd, 2012:

Digging leeks from under the snow, Jan. 2012.

A good find! Leeks for leek-and-potato soup.

Covering the leeks back up with snow.

Digging carrots from under the snow and mulch, January 2012.

A few nice carrots for a small bit of work and lots of pre-planning.

With careful preparation and mother nature’s cooperation, home gardeners can basically “store” their winter crops right out in the field, and dig them up when needed.

And boy are they yummy! Tonight, we had beetroot casserole for dinner – a very filling meal from a Russian cookbook called:

The Food and Cooking of Russia by U.K. author, Lesley Chamberlain

I highly recommend the dish if you happen to like beets. The intersection of beet flavors with sour cream and lemon is distinctly Russian, and makes one want to reach for the vodka bottle on a cold winter’s night.

Dancing not included. 🙂

But on a more serious note, more interest in winter gardening is good for local growers and veggie lovers too. All across the country (do a Google search and you’ll be amazed at what you find) winter’s farmers markets are gaining in popularity. Here’s a recent article on the All You Can Eat blog at the Seattle Times on the subject.

I say, if Indianapolis, Chicago and Milwaukee can do it, then certainly Wenatchee and the surrounding areas can as well, can’t they?

Then everybody could enjoy some fresh beet root all winter long!

Happy eating.

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Grumpy cook ramblings

Is it just me, or is it damn hard to find a ripe avocado in this town? Either they say ripe, and you cut them open and they are HARD AS A ROCK, or you cut them open and they are BLACK. Ick!

And what’s with the dearth of Feta cheese crumbles? Seriously, people.  When Grocery Outlet is out of Feta crumbles, you’re pretty much screwed! You’ll pay $5.99 for a tiny box that will be dry and flavorless, and it’s “goat cheese,” not Feta cheese.

Sigh.

Why was I looking for avocados and Feta anyway, you ask? For this:

Yvette's Tabouleh

Tabouleh.

Now, depending on who you ask and where you get your recipe, Tabouleh might be made with couscous, or it might be made with Bulgar wheat. Since I can’t even find Feta, I scratched the bulgar and went with the couscous. Here’s how my recipe goes:

1 cup couscous

1 & 1/2 cups water

Cook the couscous, and cover it. Then, throw in everything but the kitchen sink!

Tomato

Cucumber – the round lemon kind

Spinach leaves – add ’em while the couscous is hot, just after you’ve fork-fluffed it

Avocado – RIPE, preferrably

Feta cheese crumbles – I used 1/2 a container

Several “swirls” of olive oil

Several “squirty swirls” of lemon juice

Mix and eat hearty!

Oh, and if you’re in a mind to see what I ate with it for dinner, it was grilled tofu splashed with soy sauce. Yum!

Mmm grilled tofu!

That, with a shot of rum makes for a perfect vegetarian meal in my house!

Eat hearty me lads. Ho ho!

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Dear veggie eaters,

Local cookbook author Morgan Fraser has offered the following recipe for your upcoming tomato explosion – where they ALL ripen at once! Morgan’s cookbook is called, Savoring Chelan: Pairing Local Wines with Regional Recipes. You can order the book from Amazon.com here.

And here’s a shot of Morgan with her book!

Morgan and her cookbook at Hastings.

Heh, heh. I’m sure she’ll be glad to see that! (She might even throw a tomato at me!)

But, without further ado — here’s the recipe:

Spicy Tomato Soup

Prep time: 15 Minutes

Cook time: 1.5 Hours

Serves up to 8

12-15 fresh garden tomatoes (about 3 pounds)
1 small can tomato paste
Olive oil
Tapatio, or your favorite hot sauce
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup butter
2 large shallots or half a red onion, finely diced
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup cream or whole milk
Fresh garden basil

Preheat oven to 400°F. Start your largest pot boiling with water. Score the bottom of the tomatoes and drop in boiling water for 15-20 seconds, followed by a minute or so in cold ice water. Remove from ice bath and peel off skins. Cut in half and place cut side up on a rack and baking sheet to go in oven. Drizzle each tomato with olive oil, a shake or two of salt and pepper, and a good dash of your hot sauce, depending on your preferred level of heat; you can also add more later. Roast the tomatoes for about an hour. Remove and let cool.

While the tomatoes are cooking, begin heating a large pot; I prefer a 7-quart Dutch oven. Sauté shallots for a few minutes until they begin to turn translucent, then add tomato paste and stir for a few more minutes. Add chicken stock and cream, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add roasted tomatoes and cook for a few more minutes.

Transfer to a large food processor or use an immersion blender and blend until smooth. For those who like a creamier texture, run the soup through a strainer.

Ladle into bowls, garnish with a lot of fresh basil and serve.

Recipe Tips

Using an immersion blender makes this recipe a breeze.

You can skip roasting the tomatoes by substituting canned stewed tomatoes.

Ripe, locally grown produce greatly improves the quality of this dish.

Contributed to Savoring Chelan: Pairing Local Wines with Regional Recipes by Shane Collins, winemaker at Tsillan Cellars Winery.

Tsillan Cellars is located at 3875 Hwy 97A, Chelan, WA 98816. Stop in and see them on your next visit, and thank Shane for the wonderful recipe!

Bon appetit!

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Good morning veggie eaters!

Today we have another timely recipe from local wildlife biologist Greg “Gus” VanStralen. So get your freshly dug potatoes out – that you just purchased at the Wenatchee Valley Farmers Market from us, of course! – and some yummy bacon, and maybe some ketchup, and think about the old, old days while you eat.

Enjoy!

Lumber Camp Potatoes:

(The original recipe for “mining camp potatoes” was in the book Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche. It was slightly different. To avoid copyright issues, here’s Greg’s variation. His grandfather was a cook in a lumber camp here in the Cascades, so he named it after him).

  • 4-8 Yukon gold potatoes (or any other russet variety) – scrubbed. Skinned, if you prefer.
  • Cut into 1/2″ x 1/2″ cubes (give or take on size)
  • 1/2 to 1 lb of bacon-chopped or sliced into 1/2 ” strips
  • 1 onion, diced or chopped (as you prefer to size)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 3-4 stalks of green onion or chives, chopped.
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste.

This recipe really lends itself to modification. Fry bacon to desired crispness. Save bacon fat. Set bacon aside to cool.

Sauté garlic and onion in bacon fat. Again, to your taste, from clear and soft to black and crispy.

Add potatoes and turn until covered in bacon fat. If you need more oil, add olive oil or peanut oil. Fry until crisp on one side. Flip with a wide spatula and fry until crisp on the other side.

Before serving, mix with reserved bacon and garnish with green onion.

And don’t forget the ketchup!

 

I would also add CHEESE on top!

Mmmm cheese.

Now, back your regular veggie programming…..

 

 

 

 

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