Plum honey butter

Unexpected items are showing up at the Boston City Hall farmer’s market. Yesterday I spotted white Concord grapes and strawberry tomatillos (both of which had a pear overtone), and these prune plums.

I bought the plums with visions of a rustic tart, but it’s a rainy weeknight with no social prospects to share such a tart and husband prefers chocolate. The plums were too tart for eating as is, so I roasted them with honey to see what would happen.

Turns out what happened was plummy sweet tart goodness. Would have made a classy dessert paired with high-quality vanilla ice cream or some buttermilk ice cream. Not so classy, I would have been happy to eat these warm right off the pan. But I’m also a big fan of anything that can be put on toasted Nashoba Brook Bakery bread, so I decided to make a fruit spread. Let me know if you try this on ice cream, and what flavor.

Plum honey butter
10 small prune plums, washed, cut in half with pits removed
1 TBS honey, plus more added later to adjust sweetness
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar

1. Heat oven to 325. Put a sheet of parchment on a baking sheet, spread out the plum halves, and drizzle with honey. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.

2. Roast until very soft, about 30 minutes. Let cool.

3. Put in blender, food processor, or large cup if you are using an immersion blender. Add balsamic vinegar and blend to the desired consistency. Taste and if it’s not sweet enough, add honey by the teaspoonful and blend, tasting and adjusting until it’s sweet.

4. Serve with toast or ice cream.

Concord farmstands and corn soup

I was going to take you on a tour of the newish Saturday farmer’s market in Concord, MA. But the rain forecast kept the farmers away, so now we are going to two of my favorite farms, both family farms with a long history here. Then we are having corn soup for lunch, my recipe inspired by the best corn soup ever at 80 Thoreau, with a swirl of my own.

Our first stop is McGrath farm, for corn and impulse vegetable shopping. Continue reading

Eggplant rolatini and salad with peach vinaigrette

I used to hate eggplant. My three brothers and I made a no-eggplant pact. We figured if we banded together we could convince my mom not to make it for us. Who could blame us? How about some bitter spongy slices sawed from those fat purple blobs, then coated in egg and bread crumbs and pan fried, for you?

The eggplant ban lasted for decades and then one day a thin, balsamic-roasted slice ended up in a roasted vegetable sandwich. Hmmmm. Pretty good. Then a friend made honey roasted eggplant and I started to rethink eggplant.

What clinched it was overhearing a recipe described a the farmer’s market: roasted eggplant slices, spread with goat cheese and pesto, rolled up and topped with fresh tomato sauce.

So, now that the eggplant ban is officially lifted, I’m making my favorite eggplant dish with my mom and dad, who always thought the ban was ridiculous but gave in to us because we ate everything else they put on our plates. This is a great dish to make for company because it’s vegetarian and easily made vegan, and you can do most prep ahead of time, which means more time to spend with your friends.

Artichoke and olive tapenade with crackers
Mixed greens with peaches, almonds, and peach vinaigrette
Eggplant rolatini with tomato sauce over linguini
Strawberry sorbet
Continue reading

Nectarine, corn, and basil summer rolls

For today’s lunch, I decided to do what real chefs do–go the the farmer’s market (farm stand in my case) and buy what’s fresh. Then roll it in rice wrappers for dipping into a peanut sauce.

You can put just about anything into a rice wrapper, just show a bit of restraint to avoid overfilling it. Choosing ingredients with different textures (crunchy, toothsome, soft), and adding a fresh herb (basil, mint, cilantro), and serving with a dipping sauce make it all work.

Nectarine, corn, and basil summer rolls
Peanut dipping sauce
Continue reading

Golden beet and raw kale salad

Golden beets have become a recent favorite. I’ve been preparing them using Mark Bittman’s good advice of wrapping cleaned and trimmed individual beets in foil and baking them at 400 degrees until a sharp knife slides easily through them. After they cool, you peel them and eat them or put them in the refrigerator for later. They find their way into salad, sandwiches (with goat cheese and arugula), and maybe even a dessert (shhhhh…).

They also go nicely with raw kale. I tried my first raw kale salad last summer, and it was the NY Times version with raw kale ribbons, lemon juice, and ricotta salata. Pretty good, but not enough to convert non-fans of slighly bitter green leaves. Then there’s the gateway raw kale salad in Melissa Clark’s In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite. I could tear up strips of junk mail and use them in place of the kale and get rave reviews.

Golden beet and raw kale salad
I bunch of lacinato kale, washed and dried
2 1/2 TBS fresh-squeezed lemon juice
2 TBS olive oil
1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
3 golden beets, cooked and sliced into bite-sized pieces
1/3 cup or more, parmesan (finely grated or shaved into ribbons with a vegetable peeler)
salt and pepper to taste

1. With a sharp knife, remove the center ribs from the kale. Then stack leaves and cut them in ribbons of about 3/4 wide. Repeat until all leaves are cut.

2. In your salad bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

3. Add to the bowl kale, beets, walnuts, and most of the parmesan and toss until all ingredients are coated. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Top with remaining parmesan and serve.

Serves 4 as a first course or light lunch along with beet, goat cheese, and arugula sandwiches.