Linguine Carbornara with Cauliflower, Peas & Pancetta

From the Gardens of Mike Scott of Eagle Rock Backyard Farms

Ingredients:   3/4 pound linguine 4 ounces pancetta or 4 slices bacon, chopped 1 head cauliflower 1/2 cup peas (preferably fresh) 2 teaspoons olive oil 1/4 cup half and half or milk 2 egg yolks, beaten 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese Salt & black pepper

Directions:             Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package directions, reserving ½ cup of the cooking water. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.   Add 1 teaspoon olive oil to a large skillet and brown the pancetta over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until crisp, 5 to 8 minutes; transfer to a plate.   Add another teaspoon of olive oil, cauliflower, peas, ½ cup reserved water, a dash of salt and black pepper, to the drippings in the skillet. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, covered, until the water has evaporated and the cauliflower and peas are almost tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Uncover and cook, tossing occasionally, until golden brown and tender, 4 to 5 minutes more.   In a small bowl, whisk 2 egg yolks and half and half/milk together. Add the cauliflower, peas, egg yolks, and Parmesan to the pasta and toss to coat over low heat. Cook until sauce thickens. Top with additional black pepper. Enjoy!   Fresh from Mike’s yard: cauliflower and peas, and today’s eggs.

Quick Potluck Meals From Your Garden

by Sandy Swegel

Last night I went to our annual culinary gardener’s potluck holiday party.  When you have good organic produce you’ve grown yourself, the flavors are so much better than standard grocery store fare, it doesn’t take much work to make potluck dishes everybody loves.  The vegetable provides most of the flavor!

Some of last night’s easy dishes:

Roasted vegetables.

Sweet potatoes cut in 1-inch chunks, marinated in olive oil and lots of rosemary and garlic. With the oven at 425°, bake on a cookie sheet (not a deep dish) 45 minutes. Turn halfway through.  The cookie sheet lets the heat slightly crust the pieces of sweet potato. This works for butternut squash too.

Beets, small quarters, marinated in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, roasted to soft perfection. Oven at 350, about 30 minutes depending on your beets.

Kale, sliced in quarter inch strips, sauteed in coconut oil with sesame seeds, cranberries, cashews and lemon juice. Saute nuts first then lightly saute kale till tender.  Turns out a beautiful bright green color with red highlights.

Apples, small quarters or eighths, soaked in mulled wine and apple cider, then simmered to tenderness. Dust with cinnamon. Serve as a main course side, not as dessert.

Very thinly julienned beets and carrots, in a vinaigrette sauce with pomegranate seeds and tiny mandarin orange pieces.

Quinoa, cooked and mixed with well-sauteed thin slices of red chard, buffalo mozzarella cheese and blue cheese and bits of chopped pistachios.

All these great dishes were healthy and intensely flavorful. It’s really not difficult to cook good vegetable-based dishes for potlucks or for our nightly meals.  It’s the reward for a long season of gardening in a hot drought year.

What Kind of Holiday Season Person are YOU?

by Sandy Swegel

Are you the kind who is frantically looking around for inexpensive gifts to bring to a party you’re going to tomorrow night?  Or perhaps you’re the kind of person who had your holiday shopping and decorating done by Thanksgiving evening and now you’re relaxing in your lovely cinnamon and pine scented home.  I’ve always wanted to be the latter person but I still resemble the frantic running late person too often.

So here’s what I’m doing today to meet the needs of the person I am today.

Last-minute gifts for gardening friends who love to cook:

Herb-infused olive oils: 1 bottle of organic olive oil. Fresh Mediterranean herbs: lots of rosemary including the sticks, moderate amounts of thyme, lesser amounts of oregano. Cute decorative bottles. A handwritten label with a note that it needs to age another two months before use. Curly Ribbons in beautiful colors. http://mountainroseblog.com/herbal-culinary-infusions/

Last-minute gifts for friends who like to drink: Limoncello! Same bottles, ribbons and labels as above. Limoncello can be ready in only 20 ish days. So label accordingly or give it as gifts on Christmas Day. Ingredients: Vodka, on holiday sale at the liquor store, organic lemons fresh from warmer places in the grocery.

Last-minute gifts for friends who don’t cook or drink: Calendars with exquisite pictures.  My favorite this year (2013) for gardeners/mystics is the Flower Spirits Calendar.

And Now the Gift for You and Me because We can plan ahead: Indoor pots full of young lettuce and spinach. In only three weeks you’re going to be making New Year’s Resolutions and eating healthy. Right now the thing to do is get your greens seeds and make some windowsill pots of young lettuces and spinaches and kales.  On January 1st you’ll have pots full of organic baby spinach mixed greens that you have to pay a fortune for in the grocery.

Food Swap!

by Sandy Swegel

A group of people who really like to eat interesting food has gotten together with a group of people who really like to cook and preserve interesting food and they’ve come up with a simple ingenious way to make each other happy.  Host a Food Swap!

Have you ever noticed that sometimes the people who do the most cooking and food preparation often don’t eat that much?  By the time the meal comes, they’re not all that interested in the final product.  Either they’ve been nibbling along the way, or they’ve already mentally started their next menu idea.  My friend Julia is like that.  Her pantry shelves are filled with rows and rows of preserves or exotic liqueurs and vinegars that she creates from Farmer’s Market produce she buys each week or gathers while out foraging after she does her high-tech computer job all day. Food is the medium for her art.

Fortunately, her friend Eve knew a lot of people like Julia, and other people who had small market farms and other people who simply loved to eat.  So each month, Eve organizes Food Swaps in Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins. Everyone brings what they do best or what they happen to have.  Last month’s swap items included:

Preserves from Julia
Fermented summer vegetable preserves
Winter Squash and leeks from a market farmer
Homemade vanilla extract
Fresh lard from a pig farmer
Crusty artisan breads
Soups:  grass-fed-beef minestrone and vegetarian split pea soup
Chilies preserved in vodka
Homemade tamales
Honey
Eggs

Everyone gathers at a rotating local venue, spends the first half hour eying up each other’s products and swapping recipes or gardening secrets, then they decide what they want to swap.  If you want something from somebody who doesn’t want what you have…you find somebody with something they do want.  It’s a big but organized free for all….and amazingly everybody goes home happy with culinary treasures for the month.

Consider setting something up for your community or there might be something already going on.

Check Out:

Food Swap Network.
http://www.foodswapnetwork.com/

If you’re in Colorado, join us at Mile High Swappers.
http://www.milehighswappers.com/Mile_High_Swappers/Home.html

And here’s a video from an Indiana Food Swap. http://www.indyfoodswappers.com/2011/09/20/90-seconds-inside-the-indy-food-swap-2/

Grilled Stuffed Sweet Cherry Peppers

From the Gardens of Mike Scott of Eagle Rock Backyard Farms

2 dozen sweet cherry peppers
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese grated
3/4 cup provolone cheese grated
4 slices prosciutto diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons cappers diced
1 tablespoon fresh basil

Cut out stems and core of the peppers with a vegetable peeler or small spoon.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl except the peppers of course, and mix well. Stuff the peppers with the filling and thread onto wood skewers filling side up. Make sure to soak the wood skewers in water for a few minutes so as not to burn.

Grill over medium heat for about 5 to 7 minutes keeping the filling side up.

You can serve these as an appetizer, side dish, or what I like to do, on top of pasta. Enjoy!

From Mike’s summer garden, sweet cherry peppers and basil

Grilled Eggplant Parmesan ~ Fresh Garden Style ~

From the gardens of Mike Scott of Eagle Rock Backyard Farms

2 eggplants (1 1b. each)
1 & 1/2 cups heirloom tomatoes cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup mozzarella cheese grated
1/3 cup parmesan cheese grated
3 large cloves garlic chopped or crushed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons of fresh basil chopped (extra leaves for garnish)
1 lb. cooked spaghetti
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut tomatoes into small 1-inch pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, basil, oregano, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss with hands. Put aside. Do not refrigerate. You want it room temperature.

Cut eggplant into half inch round pieces. Brush with olive oil, salt and pepper and place on hot grill. Cook until tender. Add a mixture of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese to the top of eggplants and cook until cheese is melted.

Drain tomatoes in a colander to get rid of the extra juices before adding the tomatoes to the dish. You can stack the eggplant, tomatoes, and extra cheeses to your desire. Enjoy!

From Mike’s summer garden: eggplant, heirloom tomatoes and sweet basil.

Slow Braised Beef Ribs with Heirloom Tomatoes Served on Garlic Mashed Potatoes

From the gardens of Mike Scott of Eagle Rock Backyard Farms

1/4 cup olive oil
6 pounds beef short ribs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves finely chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes sliced in half
1 lb. cooked tender green beans
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup red wine
3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
2 cups diced plum tomatoes finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary finely chopped
3 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 orange, zested
1-tablespoon fresh basil chopped, for garnish
2 tablespoons butter (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350. Heat about 2-tablespoons of the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat.
Season the ribs well with salt and pepper. Over medium heat, brown ribs for 5 to 6 minutes on each side. You may need to brown them in batches. Remove the browned short ribs to a plate and repeat with remaining ribs and more oil if necessary.

Add onion, red pepper, garlic, and salt and pepper to the Dutch oven and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add plum tomatoes and sauté for an additional 4 minutes. Add the wine, chicken stock, and tomato paste to the vegetables and cook, stirring, about 1 minute. Add the thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf. Return the browned short ribs and any juices that have accumulated back into the Dutch oven. Add the orange zest and butter (optional). Cover with a heavy lid and place in the oven and braise for 3 hours or until the meat is very tender and falling off the bone.

Once the ribs are tender, remove the ribs to a platter. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Serve the short ribs over garlic mashed potatoes, if desired. Add cooked tender green beans, sliced cheery tomatoes, and drizzle some juice on top. Garnish with fresh chopped basil. Enjoy!

From my Mike’s garden: heirloom cherry tomatoes, plum tomatoes, green beans, red bell pepper, onion, basil, rosemary, and thyme.

Grilled Summer Garden Sandwich

From the gardens of Mike Scott of Eagle Rock Backyard Farms

Grilled eggplant, squash, red bell peppers, and onions, topped with provolone and mozzarella cheese, fresh sweet basil, and sriracha mayo, served on a toasted garlic roll.

Coat veggies with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste and place on a hot grill. Cook until veggies are tender. Spread a mixture of crushed garlic and butter on the insides of the bread and place on grill until bread is slightly toasted. Cooking the veggies and garlic bread on the grill will give this sandwich a really wonderful smokey flavor. Place veggies on buns and top with provolone and mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, and sriracha mayo. The sriracha mayo is what sets it over the edge. Enjoy!

Sriracha Mayo

3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sriracha hot sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon soy sauce

Mix, the above ingredients in bowl or cup. You can cover and place in refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Depending on how many sandwiches you are grilling, you can double and triple the recipe. I made more to dip our crispy fries in. So good!

**Sriracha usually can be found at most large food chains in the Asian section

From Mike’s summer garden: eggplant, yellow squash, red bell peppers, onions, and sweet basil

Huevos Rancheros Salsa Verde with Slow Roasted Pork

 From the gardens of Mike Scott of Eagle Rock Backyard Farms       

 Roasted Salsa Verde

1 1/2 lb. tomatillos
2 Jalapeño peppers OR 2 serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cumin
Salt to taste

Remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse well.

Cut in half and place cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place under a broiler for about 5-7 minutes to lightly blacken the skin.

Place tomatillos, lime juice, onions, cilantro, chili peppers, sugar, and cumin in a food processor (or blender) and pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped and mixed. Season with salt to taste.

Makes 3 cups. You will use 1 cup for this recipe and have 2 cups to refrigerate and use on other dishes or with chips.

Huevos Rancheros & Slow Roasted Pork

1 (4 lb.) pork shoulder butt, roast
4 garlic cloves
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons (or more) butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 corn tortillas
8 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (packed) grated Monterey Jack cheese (about 6 ounces)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Rub pork with olive oil, crushed garlic, salt & pepper. Place in a roasting pan and brown all side on the stovetop.

Turn roast fat side up and add ½ cup of chicken broth to roasting pan and place in oven. Bake at 500 degrees for 30 minutes. Bake at 250 degrees for an additional 3 ½ to 4 hours.

Transfer roast to cutting board and let stand 15 minutes. Pull    shreds apart with tongs into chunks.
In a small saucepan, use 1 cup of salsa verde and ½ cup of chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 5 minutes.

In a nonstick skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Add 2 tortillas; cook about 1 minute per side. Transfer to baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tortillas, adding more butter to skillet as necessary. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in same skillet over medium heat. Crack 4 eggs into skillet. Cook eggs to desired doneness.

Add ¼ cup of salsa verde to plate, place tortilla on top, add shredded pork and top with eggs. You can add a little more salsa verde to the top of your eggs. Sprinkle with Monterey jack cheese and fresh cilantro. You can place plates in the oven to melt the cheese. Enjoy!

From Mike’s yard: Tomatillos, jalapenos, onion, cilantro, and today’s fresh eggs.

Grilled Fish Taco with Heirloom Tomatoes and Roasted Jalapeno & Lime Mayo

From the Gardens of Mike Scott of Eagle Rock Backyard Farms

Grilled Fish

•      6 (4 ounce) fillets tilapia
•      ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
•      ¼ tsp. cumin
•      1 tsp. olive oil
•      sea salt and black pepper to taste
•      2 cups sliced heirloom tomatoes
•      2 cups chopped cabbage

1. In a small bowl, combine cayenne pepper, cumin, ground black pepper, and salt. Brush each fillet with olive oil, and sprinkle with spices.

2. Arrange fillets on grill grate, and cook for 3 minutes per side. Place fillets on a warm corn tortilla, add chopped cabbage, tomatoes, and drizzle with roasted jalapeño and lime mayo.

Roasted Jalapeño and Lime Mayo

**This mayo goes with just about anything. Try putting in on a grilled chicken club sandwich, turkey burger, or as a dip for crispy french fries.

•      2 jalapeno peppers or any mild to hot peppers
•      ½ cup of mayonnaise
•      2 cloves garlic
•      1 green onion
•      1 lime, juice and zest
•      1 tbs. cilantro
•      1 large basil leaf
•      sea salt and black pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place jalapeño peppers on a backing sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil.  Roast for about 20 minutes, until the skin is slightly blistered. Remove from the oven, and place in a ziplock bag. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel them, and discard the skin, seeds and core.

2. Place all ingredients except salt & pepper in a food processor, or blender, and puree until smooth. Season with sea salt and pepper. You can refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Enjoy!

From Mike’s summer garden: jalapeno peppers, heirloom tomatoes, green onion, cilantro, and sweet basil.