Cooking from the Farms: Kitchen Update

Another week of good eating, another update from Market Street.

In-law Harmony

My parents and my husband’s parents liked each other from the get-go.  They had us, their children, in common.  There was also proximity; for years we all lived in the same town, knew the same people and places.  But domicile guarantees nothing really, and these were four very different people.  Still, bucking the trend, they quickly became a foursome of fast friends, visiting each others’ homes, dining out together, eventually vacationing together.

One vacation spot they really liked was St. Simon’s Island, Georgia.  Both couples rented condos and for weeks at a stretch moved their homes from chilly New England to a warmer southern clime.  Shrimp, grits, biscuits and butter – the staples of southern cooking – became, at least temporarily, their staple foods.

I thought of Georgia and all this family harmony this week as I assessed the amount of Cider Hill’s yellow summer squash and zucchini accruing in my vegetable bin.  These squashes are the rabbits of the vegetable world.  Everywhere you look, there they are, multiplying right before your eyes.

I love both squashes.  And I love them simply prepared: zucchini sautéed with a little onion and garlic; summer squash steam-cooked until soft and folded together with lots of butter, black pepper, and a pinch of salt.

Family members, though, like them jazzed up.  Enhanced with lots of other flavors.  Disguised, if you will.  And this is where the state of Georgia and in-laws come in.

One year my mother-in-law came home with a cookbook from her vacation.  The folksy kind of cookbook put out by a garden club or a Junior League or a Women’s Auxiliary, I think.

She cooked a recipe from the book for one family gathering, a casserole of summer squash, two cheeses, sour cream, and lots of butter.  Ingredients that, some claim, make a perfect disguise for their not-so-favorite yellow squash.

Personally, I can still taste the squash within and it is a delicious dish.  Luckily for all of us, she made it many times since then, for many more occasions.  Even luckier, she shared the recipe when asked.

The original recipe calls for only summer squash but in the spirit of two different groups coming together to form one deliciously extended family, I made mine this week with both the yellow and zucchini squashes.  And christened it…

In-law Harmony Casserole

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp. salt, divided
  • 1/8 tsp. sugar
  • 6 medium yellow squashes, sliced (or a combination of yellow and zucchini)
  • 5 Tbsp. butter at room temperature, divided
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
  • (1) 8 ounce carton sour cream (I have used reduced fat very successfully, but with all the other butter and cheese, does it really matter?)
  • 5 medium scallions, chopped
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup bread crumbs or panko crumbs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Add water, 1 tsp. salt, and the sugar to a saucepan.  Put squash in the pot.

Simmer the squash over medium low heat, covered, for 15 minutes.  Drain the squash well and return to the saucepan.

Add 4 Tbsp. of the soft butter to the squash and blend.  Stir in the cheddar cheese, sour cream, scallions, 1 tsp. salt and parmesan cheese.

Pour squash into a buttered 9 by 13-inch casserole dish.  Top with bread crumbs and dot with remaining tablespoon of butter.  Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbling.

Others had this as a side dish with grilled chicken.  Me, I liked my serving with a little of the night before’s black bean salsa.

From Soup to Dip

Facebook friend Barbara from California, Barbara of the enviable home garden and green thumb (I’ve seen the photos) tried the Chilled Cucumber-Avocado Soup with her bumper crop of cucumbers and wrote me these comments: “I wrote down the recipe and picked up the ingredients I needed….made this with our garden cukes…..when it’s real thick it makes a nice dip for chips or fruit too.”

Remember I noted in the recipe I threw together to use up Cider Hill cukes that the soup can be thick and may need to be thinned down with extra broth.  But Barbara’s dip suggestion is a solid one and got me thinking.  Maybe blend until smooth all the ingredients except for the broth.  Serve it brothless as dip with tortilla chips.

Or fold in an 8-ounce container of Jonah Crab for a dip version of the crabmeat stuffed avocado.  This crab-cucumber-avocado concoction might be a darn tasty party dip served up with slices of baguette.

And Speaking of Baguette

Here’s a beauty I got at the recently relocated and newly reopened Annarosa’s Bakery in Salisbury, MA.

I’ve posed the lovely bread with an heirloom tomato and a head of garlic from Heron Pond Farm because I turned the three into this simple but satisfying bruschetta.

I could live on tomatoes, garlic, bread, and olive oil, honestly.  In case you spent time wondering what I might live on.

Produce Highlights

Our first taste of corn, thanks to Heron Pond Farm.

Local sugar and butter is the best, nothing compares.

A head of fresh garlic (also from HPF).

Nothing compares to fresh garlic either.  Slice into a clove and you’ll find it crisp and juicy, not rubbery and sticky like garlic that has stayed too long at the party.  Nary a sprouting or moldy clove in sight, so it is sweet and not bitter.  And the color of the husk?  Only the prettiest thing I’ve seen in a long while.

Plump raspberries from Cider Hill Farm.

The raspberries don’t know it yet but they will soon be pressed through a sieve to remove the seeds.  Then I will doctor up the pulp and fold it into an ice cream base.  Yay!  Red raspberry ice cream.  Watch Local In Season over the next week or two for the recipe.

The season’s first peaches, also courtesy of CHF.

The ice cream is going to be served with fresh peach puree, in a kind of reverse peach melba.  Soon these lovely peaches will be offered up for the sauce.

How I love summer!

©2010  Jane Ward