Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Creamy Tomato-Potato Soup

Cooler fall weather always brings about a shift in our cooking habits. We've been enjoying soups and breads, and this soup was perfect for a rainy fall evening. It was good following the recipe, but uplifted to fantastic with the addition of some sage and thyme. This is modified from a recipe in Mark Bittman's The Best Recipes in the World

Creamy Tomato-Potato Soup

3 tbsp olive oil or butter
3 leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced and well rinsed
1 small onion, sliced
3 medium tomatoes, peeled (drained canned are okay)
Approximately 1 pound potatoes, russet or another non-waxy type, peeled and diced
Salt and pepper to taste
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup cream or half and half, plus more as needed
5-6 fresh sage leaves (in bouquet garni)
4-5 sprigs fresh thyme (in bouquet garni)

1. Heat oil or butter in large saucepan over medium-low heat. When hot, add leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Do not brown the leeks. Seed tomatoes and chop pulp.

2. Stir in the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Add potatoes, salt, pepper, sage, thyme, and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.

3. Remove sage and thyme. Using food mill, inversion blender, or regular blender, puree mixture until smooth. If there is more than your blender can handle, work in batches. This is easier if the soup is cooled before blending, but it's not necessary to cool it. Reheat soup. Stir in cream and additional salt and pepper to taste. If the soup is too thick, thin with cream and water.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Lavender, Honey and Walnut Bread

I have a new toy--a professional series Kitchen-Aid Mixer that my wonderful husband got me for my birthday. It makes baking bread and other treats a fun adventure, so Scott and I have been playing with it. A lot. This is the first of many forays into bread baking. I'm looking forward to modifying it a little to make it my own. It comes from one of our favorite cookbooks, The Herbfarm Cookbook. If you enjoy playing with herbs in your kitchen, I'd highly recommend it. This bread was picked as one of the first experiments because we have some lavender from a friend's wedding. I enjoyed stretching out their celebration a bit to our house. Cheers to Joey and Nichole!

Lavender, Honey & Walnut Bread

Makes Two Loaves

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (105F to 110F)
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons medium-to strong-flavored honey (we use sunflower)
1 1/2 tsp coarsely chopped dried lavender buds
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cups flour (we've been using a 50/50 mix of unbleached white and whole wheat in our kitchen lately)
1 cup/4 ounces coarsely chopped walnuts

1. Dough. Pour the water into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle. Sprinkle yeast over water and let sit for several minutes to dissolve. Add honey, lavender, salt and flour and mix on low speed until all the ingredients are incorporated. Knead for about six minutes on medium speed. The dough will be very soft and should pull away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough sticks to the sides, add up to 1/4 cup more flour, a little at a time. Spread the walnuts on a work surface and turn the dough out on top of them. Sprinkle the dough lightly with flour and knead briefly until the walnuts are evenly incorporated, using a dough scraper if it sticks to the board. Place the dough in a large mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap and a clean towel. Let rise at room temperatures until it doubles in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

2. Shaping. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Dust with flour and pat into a 10-inch square. Fold in half, pat out a little, then fold into quarters and pat again. Cut the resulting 6-inch square in half with a sharp knife. Stretch each piece out into an approximately 12x4 inch oval. Transfer loaves to a parchment-lined baking sheet and dust again with flour. Cover loaves with a clean towel and rise again at room temperature until doubled, about 45 minutes.

3. Baking. Preheat the oven to 375F. Bake the loaves on the center rack until they are dark brown and osund hollow when thumped on the bottom, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool completely on rack before slicing.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Vodka-Spiked Cherry Tomatoes with Pepper Salt

Sense a theme? It's tomato season and we have loads, so I thought that it would be appropriate to serve them two ways at the party I attended last night. These are definitely an adult treat. If you serve them at a party where there will be children, try to make sure they're out of the way of little hands.

Vodka-Spiked Cherry Tomatoes with Pepper Salt

1 pound cherry or grape tomatoes, mixed color if possible
1/2 cup vodka
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp Sugar
Chopped basil
3 Tbsp kosher salt
1 1/2 Tbsp coarsely ground black pepper

Cut a small X in bottom of each tomato. Blanch tomatoes 5 at a time in a 2-quart saucepan of boiling water for 5-7 seconds, then immediately transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice and cold water. Drain and peel tomatoes. Transfer to a shallow dish.

Stir together vodka, vinegar, sugar and basil in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved. Pour over tomatoes and toss gently to coat. Marinate, covered and refrigerated, for at least 30 minutes.

Stir together salt and pepper in a small bowl. Serve with tomatoes for dipping.

Bacon and Basil Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

These have been one of the most successful hors d'oeuvres I've made in my relatively brief history of cooking. There are really only two reasons I don't make them more: the short season for tomatoes and the tediousness of coring out tomatoes. I don't have a spoon that is quite small enough, and it's a bit of a chore. They're worth the effort though. I've been contemplating trying out our yellow stuffer tomatoes with the filling as a first course. I think it could be delicious with a little lettuce chopped up along with the basil. This recipe is adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook.

Bacon and Basil Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes
Makes 14 Hors D'Oeuvres

14 (1-inch-diameter) cherry tomatoes
3/8 tsp salt
1/4 pound bacon
2 Tbsp finely chopped shallots
1/4 cup finely chopped basil
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 Tbsp sour cream
Freshly Ground Pepper

Cut 1/8-inch-thick slice from the bottom and top of each tomato with a serrated knife. The bottom slice helps the tomato stand upright. Scoop out pulp and seeds with a small spoon or melon ball cutter. Sprinkle tomato shells with salt and invert on paper towels to drain for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels and cool, then finely crumble.

Stir together bacon, shallots, basil, mayonnaise, sour cream, and pepper in a small bowl until well combined. Divide mixture evenly among tomato shells and arrange in a serving dish.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Beet Chocolate Cake

Our beets have been out of control this year. Last year we had more kale and turnips than we knew what to do with. We even had a turnip bigger than Mom's head. This year, it seems like we'll be picking beets till the snow flies. Mom enjoys the tops, but we're still working on appreciating the bottoms. What to do with the market leftovers? We've tried cold beet salad with feta, shredding them on top of green salad, roasting with potatoes. We even added shredded raw beets to coleslaw for a little extra color. For something a little more adventurous:

Beet Chocolate Cake
Courtesy of From Asparagus to Zucchini
Serves 10

2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate bar (not cocoa powder)
1/4 cup oil
4 eggs
3 cups shredded beets

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease two 9-inch or one 9x13 cake pans. Whisk together dry ingredients. Melt chocolate slowly over low heat or in double boiler. Cool chocolate, then blend thoroughly with eggs and oil. Alternately add chocolate and shredded beets to flour mixture. Stir to combine. Pour into pans and bake 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

The cake turned out better than we expected. Sarah's no lover of beets, and even she liked it. We served it topped with mixed berries and whipped cream, but a cream cheese frosting or chocolate glaze would be delicious. The texture of the cake was similar to a chocolate zucchini cake: dense and moist.

Obviously not the beet cake, but Scott and I added some beets to our coleslaw to turn it a lovely shade of pink on the 4th of July. The earthiness of the beets meshed well with the sweetness of the carrots and freshness of the cabbage.

Monday, June 29, 2009


We're excited to have red, white and blue potatoes in time for the Fourth of July this weekend. We'll have a combination of regular red, Yukon Gold, Purple Majesty and Red Thumb potatoes mixed together in bags for Market starting this Tuesday at Edwards. Potatoes are one of our favorite parts about the garden. There's not much better than roasted potatoes to go along with barbecue over the summer.

Along with potatoes, the other new produce we *finally* have are shelling peas. It's been a bizarre season so far. Peas took forever, and it's looking like we'll have a few tomatoes for home use for the Fourth.

We also have some baseball-sized watermelons that are growing quickly. Melons are Mom's favorite part of the garden. She's counting down until we have Crenshaws. With the recent hot weather, it's been fun to go out into the garden to see what new things we can find. It's sort of like an Easter Egg hunt for grownups. Sometimes, I feel like a little kid with how excited I get about finding goodies.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Chicken Breasts with Sage

One of our favorite things about the garden is the opportunity to experiment with different recipes. Sarah & Jeff and Michelle & Scott are part of what we like to call Lazy Dog Test Kitchens. It's a great way to give suggestions to customers on what they can do with our vegetables. I know sometimes figuring out what to cook is the biggest obstacle in making dinner.

Scott and I picked up Mark Bittman's The Best Recipes in the World a few weeks ago, and this chicken recipe was a perfect match with the Lazy Dog Salad Mix. We're looking forward to trying it again when the potatoes are ready. We haven't tried the balsamic variation, but the lemon was delicious. The pan sauce is just calling out for roasted fingerling potatoes.

3 Tbsp olive oil, butter, or a combination
2 garlic cloves, peeled & lightly crushed
20 or 30 fresh sage leaves
4 chicken breast halves
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar or fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken stock
Salt & pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in deep skillet on medium-high. Add garlic and half the sage, then chicken skin side down. Brown chicken well, rotating breasts as necessary (don't worry about the bone side), for 5-10 minutes. Turn meat browned side up and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Add remaining sage, along with the 1/4 cup vinegar or lemon juice and stock. Turn heat to low and cover; cook until the chicken is tender & no trace of blood remains near the bone, 15 minutes or so.
3. Transfer chicken to platter. If the sauce is thin, raise the heat to high, stirring and reducing until it is thick and glossy, just a few minutes. Stir in the remaining tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Garden

One of the most frustrating parts about no spray farming/gardening is the weed issue. It seems like a never-ending process, and it's easy to get overwhelmed. We skipped Tuesday Market this week to try and find the potatoes. Yes, find them. We had ragweed in the garden that was more than waist high. The poor potatoes were looking pretty spindly when we finally pulled out the weeds around them. We're not quite done yet, but we've completed enough to make it feel less daunting. Our fingers are stiff and sore, but today was a lovely day away from the garden.

We're so close to having peas. It's been a strange spring. This time last year, we had peas coming out our ears. Some of the volunteer pea plants in the garden have babies that are may
be half and inch long on them. There are plenty of blooms, and the plants themselves are looking great. I'm feeling a little impatient: peas are my favorite spring vegetable.

We're close to picking garlic. Mom and I pulled some for Scott and me to take to Elko. It was delicious. Mom and Curt are talking about putting on a garlic braiding clinic out at the house for interested customers.

Baby Joanna is growing. It's amazing to see how much she changes each week we see her. She's become a lot more aware of her surroundings and loves to watch people.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A New Member of the Lazy Dog Family

The Lazy Dog Gardens family is made up of the Caudills, Spragues and Loves. At approximately 6PM, we added another member. Welcome to Joanna Emily Love! We're excited for this addition to the family. As she gets older, we're sure to add recipes for Lazy Dog baby food.

Robin, Curtis, Michelle, Scott, Sarah, Jeff & Joanna

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Basil Buckets, Petunia Socks and a New Member of the Family

The 2009 Market season is underway! We're enjoying getting back into the swing of Saturday mornings down on 8th Street. While the spring crops grow and get ready, we have petunia socks, basil buckets, plants for your garden, and eggs. This past week, we were able to bring down radishes, spinach and rainbow chard for the first time. Keep coming back to check us out as more produce becomes available. For now, we're looking forward to adding a new member to the Lazy Dog family: Sarah's baby may be coming tomorrow!