Monday, December 21, 2009

Holiday Roast Made Easy

Although I don't make a holiday roast (my holiday being over and all), I've had a great big hunk of meat taking up space in my freezer, and I thought now is as good a time as any to serve it. This time of year is great for a good, hearty roast. Rich foods are a perfect comfort on a cold, snowy evening, and that's just what we've got here in the Northeast.

Roasts are often all-day cooking affairs, but that doesn't mean they have to be complicated or difficult. On the contrary, making a roast can be the most worry-free, hands-off choice for entertaining. Roasts pair especially well with root vegetables, which are in season anyway, and the veggies can cook right alongside the roast, making entertaining with a dish like this incredibly simple.

I made this dish with a beef roast, but I don't see why you couldn't use any number of other meats - lamb, bison, venison, elk, wild boar (if you're lucky enough to have access to these). But whatever you do, do yourself, your community and the planet we all share a great big favor - make sure your meat comes from grass-fed (or wild) animals from an ethical, local farm. Animals given the opportunity to roam freely, raised on a natural diet, are far less prone to disease, have much higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids, and are generally more nutrient-dense than their factory-farmed counterparts. Buying locally raised meats supports your local economy and avoids the huge carbon toll of transporting food over long distances.

A happy and DELICIOUS holiday to all!!!

Holiday Roast Made Easy
2 Tbsps. safflower oil
3.5-5 lb. boneless roast
6 small or 3 large turnips, cut into 1/8ths
3 large carrots, peeled and quartered
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 cup water
2 Tbsps. dried tarragon
1-2 Tbsps.coarse salt
black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsps. butter

In a large cast iron skillet, heat the safflower oil over high heat. Sear the roast for 3 minutes on each side.

In a slow cooker, add the turnips, carrots, onion, garlic and water. Place the roast on top of the vegetables so that the meat drippings help to flavor the veggies.

Combine the tarragon, salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar in a small bowl and whisk together. Spoon the mixture over the top of the roast. Add the butter in small bits over the top of the roast. For an even richer flavor, you can add the pan drippings from the skillet to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 hours.

Allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes before slicing thinly against the grain. If you like, strain some of the juices and reduce in a saucepan for about 15 minutes, and serve as a sauce to accompany the meat. Serve sliced meat alongside the carrots and turnips.

Serves 6-12.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Breakfast for Dinner

My husband has asked me to make eggs for dinner for ages, and I've always resisted. Finally, one night when I had almost no time to cook, I decided to give it a shot. OK, he was right (Did I just say that?). Eggs are not just for breakfast.

I served this very fluffy frittata alongside some baked veggie latkes, making it a sort of eggs and hash browns.

Greek Frittata
5 large pastured eggs
1/4 cup milk
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. safflower oil
1/2 bunch spinach, washed and dried well and trimmed of tough stems
10 grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
10 fresh basil leaves
4 oz. crumbled grass-fed goat's milk feta

Preheat the oven to 350F. Preheat a 12" cast iron skillet on the stovetop over high heat.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Add the oils to the skillet, spreading them evenly around the pan. When hot, add the egg mixture and reduce the heat to medium-low. Scatter the spinach, tomatoes and basil leaves around the pan. Allow the eggs to cook for 5 minutes. Sprinkle the feta around the pan, and cook for 2 minutes more.

Move the pan into the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until springy to the touch. Cut into 6 wedges and serve hot.

Serves 2-3.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sustainable Holiday Table

Think about all the ways you impact the planet when you make your holiday meal a sustainable one:
- Holiday meals are bigger than most, so the effects of one meal are multiplied;
- It's a great way to honor the spirit of the season;
- You'll support your local farmers when they need it most (winter is pretty lean);
- You'll be enjoying fresh, wholesome foods, and sharing them with your guests;
- If family or friends have come a long way to be with you, perhaps your food's short commute can offset some of those carbon emissions;
- Your guests may come home with more than a full stomach ... they may come away with new wisdoms that could carry into their daily lives.

Here are some links to help you find sustainable foods to put on your table this holiday season:
Find local farms, CSAs, farmer's markets -
Find sustainable local meat -
Find out what's in season in your area -
Saving money on green foods -

Monday, December 7, 2009

Baked Veggie Latkes

With Hanukkah just around the corner, it's high time that I post a good latke recipe. Latkes are a traditional Jewish potato pancake served on Hanukkah. Typically, they're made with grated potatoes, onions, matzoh meal and eggs. The mixture is fried in plenty of oil. The oil really is essential, because oil is so central to the Hanukkah story in which a tiny amount of oil miraculously lit the Temple menorah for 8 days. So, virtually everything for Hanukkah is fried.

Of course, we all know frying is not particularly healthy. So, how to get around this? Well, I say it's still a latke if oil is employed, but in lesser amounts. How much more in keeping with the story of Hanukkah would it be if, by some miracle, I could coax from a minute amount of oil something as delicious as a fried latke? I'll go one better! What a miracle it would be if I could use a tiny amount of oil to make latkes full of all kinds of good-for-you, seasonal veggies (that means no zucchini, folks) that kids would actually like!

Well, that miracle happened (yes, I know I'm tooting my own horn a bit too excessively here). I made these latkes (in bite size form) for my daughter's nursery school class's snack. I expected the batch to last for 2-3 days, but they lasted only one day (kind of a reverse Hanukkah miracle). The kids loved them, and apparently the teachers did, too, as I was asked for the recipe.

Happy holidays, everyone! Enjoy, but with a little less weight gain this holiday season.

Baked Veggie Latkes
6 Tbsps. safflower oil, divided
4-6 russet or yukon gold potatoes, peeled and grated
1 onion, grated
1 large carrot, shredded
1/2 bunch leafy greens (I used mustard greens), shredded
4-5 scallions, finely chopped
2 Tbsps. potato starch
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350F. On a cookie sheet with a rim (jelly roll pan), spread 2 Tbsps. of the oil evenly.

Place the grated potatoes and onion in a tea towel or cheese cloth. Squeeze the liquid out, and then empty the potato and onion into a large bowl. Add the carrot, greens, scallions, potato starch, and egg and combine thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon potato mixture onto the cookie sheet in small dollops, flattening each pancake. Bake for 40 minutes, flipping halfway through. Repeat with remaining batter (should be about 3 cookie sheets full). Best served hot with applesauce or sour cream for dipping.

Makes about 1.5 dozen full size latkes, or 4 dozen bite size latkes.