Archive | January 2013

Winter Squash Bonanza

Squash!

Winter squash rise like moons out of the fall garden after their canopy of vines die. It’s always a surprise to see them…how many, and how large and beautiful! In the early years we planted them in our field corn and let them ramble between the rows. Neighbors gave us seed for a variety called “Sweetmeat”, a behemoth that I remember growing to the size of a Volkswagen, though it was probably only 60 or 70 lbs. I think it took us all winter to eat it.

Squash Growing

Japanese winter squash, or Kabocha, have long been my favorites because of their rich flavor and dry flesh. I currently grow “Sunshine”, a brilliant orange, flavorful squash bred by Johnny’s Selected Seeds. Last season I trialed “Berrettina Piacentina”, a 3 to 5-pound handsome grey-green squash offered by Seeds From Italy, and it has gotten rave reviews. This year I’ll add “Eastern Rise” from Fedco Seeds, described as having a “rich nutty flavor in perfect balance.” Butternut squash, though not as deeply flavored, always has a place in the garden because it is resistant to squash vine borers and is a superb keeper.

Berrettina Piacentina

Winter squash is a reliable and abundant winter staple for us, so I always like to experiment with new varieties to grow and more ways to use it. That’s easy, because winter squash is popular all around the world. Winter squash is great baked whole and scooped out to eat with butter and salt or turned into pie, but it also takes well to Indian or Thai curry spices, Japanese, Italian, Turkish, Middle-Eastern, and North African flavors. My newest experiments have been inspired by recipes in Jerusalem a Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.

Winter squash can be something like a winter substitute for eggplant. I grill or roast slices of squash and splash them with a vinaigrette, toss roasted chunks with greens and raw vegetables for salads, or combine the squash with other roasted vegetables for topping pasta or bruschetta. Now, I have discovered a squash version of baba ganoush!

Squash in Bloom

Roasted Squash and Tahini Spread

Ottolenghi’s spread is slightly sweetened with date syrup and spiced with cinnamon. My version went in a more spicy direction, with red chile and cumin.

Ingredients: 2 1/2 cups roasted squash (about 1/2 of a medium winter squash, or 3 1/2 cups squash cut in 3/4-inch chunks), 4 Tbs chopped sundried or oven-dried tomatoes, 2 minced garlic cloves, zest of 1 lemon, 2 Tbs fresh lemon juice, 4 Tbs sesame tahini, 1 or 2 small red chiles (or 1/4 tsp or more cayenne or other hot red pepper), 1 tsp toasted and lightly crushed cumin seed, freshly ground black pepper and salt.

Use a food processor or potato masher to make a coarse, spreadable mixture. Season to taste with salt, black pepper, and more chiles. I added Justin’s smoked jalapeno sauce.

Marinated Roast Squash

Peeled and Sliced Squash

Ingredients: 2 lbs winter squash, 2 cloves garlic, extra virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar, kosher or sea salt, 1/2 tsp crushed fennel seed, chopped fresh herbs (oregano, thyme, mint, or parsley), thinly sliced red onion

Heat an outdoor grill or ridged stovetop grill over high heat, or heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Peel and slice the squash 1/4-inch thick for grilling or 1/2-inch thick for oven roasting. Toss the slices with 2 Tbs olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and grill about 4 minutes per side, until marked with dark grill marks and tender inside. Roast thicker slices on a baking sheet, 10 to 15 minutes per side.

Arrange the cooked squash on a platter with thinly sliced red onion. Mash the garlic with a pinch coarse salt to make a paste. Add the fennel seed and whisk together with 2 Tbs white wine vinegar and 4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the warm squash and sprinkle with finely chopped fresh herbs.

Slow-Sauté of Squash with Greens

The sweet flavor of winter squash combines well with the sharpness of kale, chard or spinach. This sauté makes a great filling for tacos or wraps, or a topping for pasta, pilaf, or polenta.

Ingredients: 1 1/2 lbs. winter squash (4 1/2 to 5 cups, peeled and cut in 1/2-inch dice), 1 medium onion (2/3 to 1 cup thinly sliced), 1 large garlic clove, 1/2 small hot chile (1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes), 2 Tbs olive oil, salt and black pepper, 1 bunch kale, chard or spinach.

Peel, seed, and cut the squash into 1/2-inch cubes. Thinly slice the onion and garlic. Mince the chile. Wash the greens, trim the stems and tough midribs, and cut the leaves into thin strips.

Warm 2 Tbs olive oil in a large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and cook 3 or 4 minutes to soften. Stir in the garlic and chile. Add the squash cubes and stir to coat well with oil. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, 4 or 5 minutes. When the squash has begun to soften, add the greens and stir to combine. Sprinkle on 1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt and about 2 Tbs water. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan, and cook until the vegetables are tender, 4 or 5 minutes.

Variation: Start the sauté by cooking 1 link Italian sausage (removed from the casing), diced pancetta, or bacon in 1 Tbs olive oil. Brown the meat 3 to 5 minutes over medium heat before continuing with the recipe.

Roasted Squash and Red Onion with Pomegranate

Toasty brown squash slices are delicious on their own and even more so tossed with the bright flavors of fresh herbs and crunchy sweet-sour pomegranate seeds. Pair this with wild rice pilaf, a roast chicken, or pita bread and yogurt sauce.

Ingredients: 1 winter squash (about 2 to 2 1/2 lbs.), 2 red onions, 1 /2 pomegranate, 3 Tbs olive oil, 2 or 3 Tbs chopped parsley, mint, oregano, or cilantro

Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and peel. Cut into 3/4-inch cubes or wedges. Cut the onions into 1-inch wedges. Toss the vegetables with olive oil and 1 tsp kosher salt and place on baking sheets in a single layer, keeping the squash and onions separate. Roast 30 to 40 minutes, turning them after 20 minutes, until they are nicely browned and tender inside. Remove from the oven, toss together, and garnish with pomegranate seeds (or toasted nuts), and chopped herbs.

Extra delicious: Serve with orange-mint gremolata. Chop together 3 Tbs flat-leaf parsley, 3 Tbs fresh mint, 2 tsp orange zest, 1 garlic clove, and a pinch sea salt…Or, drizzle with Corpus Christy Chiles made with plenty of lime juice.

Kabocha Squash Kimpira

Squash with Toasted Sesame Seeds

This dish involves a  Japanese cooking method that is a combination of searing and braising–very useful for dense vegetables like winter squash, carrot, parsnip, burdock, sweet potato, and turnip. Cut vegetables are seared in a little hot oil before cooking in a covered pot until tender and infused with the flavors of the braising liquid.

Ingredients: 1 1/2 lbs. winter squash (about 5 cups cut into 1/2 x 2-inch wedges), 2 or 3 shallots, 2 1/2 Tbs oil, 1 small dry red pepper, 1 Tbs minced ginger, 2 Tbs soy sauce, 1 Tbs mirin, 3 Tbs rice wine (sake), 2 Tbs toasted sesame seeds

Cut the winter squash in quarters, remove the seeds, and peel. Cut the squash into 1/2 x 1 13/4-inch slices. Cut the shallots in wedges. Heat the oil with the crumbled red pepper and ginger in a large skillet or sauté pan with a tightly fitting lid over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the squash and shallots and toss to coat with oil. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the squash begins to brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Add soy sauce, mirin, and sake; toss to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pot and simmer until the squash is just tender and all the liquid is absorbed, 5 or 6 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

Winter Squash Soup, with many Variations

Winter Squash Soup

Roasting is the easiest way to deal with a whole winter squash, especially warty and ridged varieties. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F, put the whole squash on a baking sheet, stick it in the oven, and wait about one hour or so. When it is soft, cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, and serve it with any kind of seasonings you like. Or, cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and bake the halves face down (or face up, sprinkled with fresh herbs and spices and covered with foil) on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Roasted squash is ready to be turned into any number of delicious soups. If you decide to go with a half squash or start the soup with peeled chunks, the seeds and clean skins can be used to make a vegetable broth to use in these soups.

Broth: Use the seeds and skins from 1 or 2 squashes, 1 carrot, 1 parsnip or celery stalk, 1 small onion, 2 or 3 garlic cloves, 3 sprigs fresh thyme, and 2 sprigs parsley. Cut all the vegetables in half and put everything in a pot with water to cover (about 7 or 8 cups). Simmer about 45 minutes. Strain before using or freezing.

 Roasted Winter Squash Soup with Caramelized Onion

We were served this winter squash soup for breakfast in Japan, accompanied by a hotdog and fresh sea snails. Made with roasted red kuri or other richly flavored orange-fleshed squash, the soup is mellow and beautiful.

Ingredients: 2 1/2 to 3 lb. flavorful winter squash, 2 large white or yellow onions, 1 Tbs vegetable oil, 2 Tbs butter, 1/2 to 1 cup light cream or whole milk (preferably organic), vegetable broth, salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roast the squash for about one hour, until the skin is wrinkled and the flesh is soft. Peel off the skin and remove the seeds. Add any juices from the pan back into the cooked squash.

While the squash bakes, cut the onions in half and slice them very thinly. Warm the oil and butter in a large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat and stir in the onions. Reduce the heat to low and cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until very soft and caramelized to a beautiful golden brown.

Using a blender or food processor, puree the cooked squash and onions together until smooth. Add cream, milk, and/or vegetable broth to make the soup as thin or thick as you like. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Variations:

*Roasted Squash with Indian Spices: Add 1 Tbs garam masala or other curry powder to the soup and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Heat 1 1/2 Tbs peanut or sesame oil in a small skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add 2 tsp black mustard seed and 2 tsp cumin seeds and cook 10 to 20 seconds, until aromatic. Pour into the soup right before serving. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve with Indian pickle and yogurt sauce (1 cup thick whole milk yogurt mixed with 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, 1/4 tsp cayenne, and 1/4 tsp turmeric).

*To give the soup a slightly different flavor profile, substitute 1/2 tsp 5-spice, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp cardamom for the curry powder. Just before serving, stir in 4 Tbs fresh orange juice and 1 Tbs fresh lime juice.

*Thai Coconut Curry Soup: Heat 1 cup coconut milk in a saucepan. Whisk in 2 tsp minced ginger and 1 or 2 tsp Thai red curry paste. Cook 3 to 4 minutes. Combine with the squash-onion puree. Stir in 1 or 2 tsp fresh lemon or lime juice. Garnish with chopped mint or cilantro and thinly sliced green onion. Sprinkle with chopped roasted peanuts.

*Squash and White Bean Soup with Sage: Use vegetable broth or liquid from cooking beans instead of milk or cream to thin the squash puree or to simmer the squash chunks with sautéed onion.

Warm 2 Tbs olive oil and 1 Tbs butter in a skillet over medium low heat. Add 12 fresh sage leaves and cook, turning often, until they are crisp. Set the leaves aside on a paper towel to cool. Add 1 Tbs finely chopped garlic, 1 minced red chile (dry or fresh), 4 thinly sliced fresh sage leaves, and 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves to the pan. Cook about 30 seconds. Add 1 1/2 to 2 cups cooked white beans (canned are fine) and some of their cooking liquid to the pan and simmer 5 minutes. Add the beans to the Squash puree and simmer over very low heat to let the flavors blend, 5 to 10 minutes.

Crumble the sage leaves over the soup before serving. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Orange-mint gremolata, or simply a little orange zest is a good addition.

Sage Leaves

Making Masa with Kelley

Red Flint Corn

One of my most memorable meals ever was eaten on the street in Mexico City. An Indian woman sat on the sidewalk beside an open fire and a heavy iron griddle. She patted out a blue corn tortilla, tossed it onto the griddle, and cooked it while I waited. She covered the hot tortilla with a crumbly white cheese and a sprinkling of red chile and handed it to me. It was perfect.

I was really excited to learn that my friend Kelley has become a tortilla aficionado and that she would let me come over and show me how to turn corn into masa (the dough for making tortillas). Kelley takes “real” and “local” seriously when it comes to food. She likes to grow what she eats and has planted so many different fruits and vegetables that she often doesn’t have to stop for meals–she just nibbles her way through the garden and greenhouse. That’s how I learned how delicious the seedpods of daikon are, not to mention gotu kola leaves, oca, and my new favorite vegetable, yakon.

Corn Growing

Kelley is both serious and joyful about corn, as it is an important part of her diet. She grows open-pollinated, heirloom corn varieties with names like Oaxacan Green, Hopi Blue, Bloody Butcher, and Calais Flint. As I admired the ears of corn with kernels in jewel tones of blue, red, yellow and green, I could understand how Native American tribes would regard corn as a gift from the creator and want to identify themselves as “People of the Corn”. Selected for hardiness and flavor for generations, these corns survive in the modern world of hybrid and GMO corn because they are so good, and because there are farmers and gardeners like Kelley who are hungry for authentic taste and willing to go the extra mile to save seed.

Colored Corn

Kelley explained that there are two basic kinds of dry field corn: dent and flint. Dent corn has a soft starchy interior that is easily ground into flour, cornmeal, and masa for tortillas. It’s also good roasted in the milk stage or parched when dry. Flint corn is flinty hard and excels when ground into grits and polenta. This year I grew a flint corn called “Floriani”, a family heirloom brought to this country from the Valsugana Valley of Italy, where it was the staple polenta corn. Floriani cobs have beautiful red pointed kernels with a rich, corny flavor. Kelley and I decided to make masa with my Floriani corn and her Hope Blue Dent for comparison.

This is what we did: We started by cutting off the husks, saving the larger ones for wrapping tomales. We ran the ears through a corn sheller to get the kernels off the cob, cranked the kernels through a Rube Goldberg antique seed cleaner, and put the cleaned corn into a big pot of cold water with a few spoonfuls of slaked lime (pickling lime). Boiling the corn with lime for 1/2 hour softens the kernels and loosens the outer skins. After 30 minutes, the heat is turned off and the corn soaks in the limewater 4 to 8 hours (or overnight). After soaking, the kernels are drained and rinsed thoroughly in cold water, rubbing to remove as many skins as possible. At this point the corn is called hominy.

Now the corn is ready to be made into masa (the dough for making into tortillas). I have a hand-cranked corn mill, but Kelley has an electric one, so we poured the whole kernels into the mill, and two metal plates ground it into coarse, wet meal. Kelley put the meal through the mill a second time to make smoother dough. Kelley adds water “until you think you have added too much” and shapes the wet dough into a ball. The ball is covered with a towel and allowed to sit 10 or 15 minutes while the water is absorbed and the dough becomes more plastic and workable.

Corn Tortillas

Making tortillas: Kelley heated a large iron griddle over high heat on the stovetop. We pinched off lumps of masa and rolled them into balls the size of a large walnut. The balls are flattened, patted on both sides, and placed on a tortilla press between two sheets of plastic to be pressed flat and thin. When the griddle is hot, the tortilla is peeled off the plastic and slid onto the hot iron. Each tortilla cooks 30 seconds on the first side. When the edges begin to curl up, it is turned over to cook the second side a minute or so. Finally, it is flipped over and tapped gently for about 15 seconds to encourage puffing. Keep the cooked tortillas warm, wrapped in a thick kitchen towel, until they are all cooked. Kelley says it’s best to let them rest a bit, but I like to eat them right away.

Of course, you can make quite good tortillas with dried masa found in most grocery stores in a 5 lb. bag, or from fresh masa sometimes available in a Mexican food store. Follow the directions on the bag (though I add more water than the instructions say).

I took my pile of mustard-yellow tortillas home and ate them with black beans and a sauté of sweet potato, onion, and chard. A salsa of yakon and another of roasted tomato added piquancy and crunch. Chopped cilantro and fresh lime wedges are essential!

Other memorable taco combinations:

*Trout and chopped broccoli with queso fresca

*Fried fish roe and spinach with ricotta salata

*Andouille sausage ragu and roasted asparagus spears

*Mushrooms and kale with smoked Gouda cheese

*Garlicky chard with roasted poblano and potato

*Spicy guacamole and blue cheese

Yakon Salsa/Salad

Kelley gave me a couple of yakon plants (Smallanthus sonchifolius) in the spring, grown from tubers she over-wintered in the greenhouse. The plants, a distant relative of sunflowers, grew a robust 6 feet tall in my garden. I dug them in the late fall to uncover a huge cluster of sweet potato-like tubers under each plant. The harvest filled a garden cart, which I hauled up to the root cellar. The tubers, sometimes called Peruvian ground apples, are crisp and juicy…kind of like a jicama, which is kind of like a big radish with no radish heat. In other words, yakon is mostly about crunchy texture and a great ability to absorb flavors.

Ingredients: 1 large yakon or medium jicama (about 1 lb.), 1 small red onion, 1 or 2 jalapeno or serrano chiles, 1 medium red bell pepper, 1 lime (2 or3 Tbs. fresh lime juice), 1 or 2 handfuls chopped cilantro, salt. Optional additions: 1 orange (sectioned, membranes removed), 4 or 5 thinly sliced radishes or 1 daikon cut in matchsticks, slices of avocado, chopped arugula

Peel the yakon or jicama. Cut into quarters, slice thinly, and cut the slices into matchsticks. Cut the onion in half, slice thinly, soak in cold water if very pungent, and drain. Seed and mince the hot chiles. Thinly slice or dice the bell pepper. Toss everything together in a bowl, sprinkle with salt, and add fresh lime juice to taste. Add the chopped cilantro and any other additional ingredients.

Charred Tomato Salsa

I make this with vine-ripe plum tomatoes from the summer garden. In winter, I use canned or frozen fire-roasted tomatoes.

Ingredients: 1 1/2 lb. (6 or 7 plum tomatoes) or 1 can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, 4 medium unpeeled garlic cloves, 2 jalapeno or 3-4 serrano chiles, 1 small white onion, 1/3 cup chopped cilantro, salt, fresh lime juice

If using fresh tomatoes, put them close under a hot broiler or over a grill fire, turning frequently, until the skin is blistered and charred in spots. Remove the skins and chop to use in the salsa, saving all the juices.

Place a small iron skillet over medium heat. Slice the onion about 1/3-inch thick and arrange the onion slices, chiles, and garlic cloves on the skillet. Dry-roast until softened and charred in patches, about 10 minutes for the chiles and onion, 15 minutes for the garlic. Turn them over half way through roasting. Peel the garlic, seed the chiles, and use a knife or food processor to chop finely, along with the onion. Add the tomatoes and the cilantro and stir or pulse to combine. Season with salt and lime juice to taste.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Tomatillos

Tomatillos (Physalis ixocarpa) are sometimes called Mexican green tomatoes. They are not tomatoes at all, but a small citrusy green fruit that grows inside a papery husk on low, sprawling plants. They are easy to grow and easy to find in Mexican and most American grocery stores. They are most tart when green (the way they are sold in grocery stores), but sweeten slightly as they turn yellow. The less common purple variety is smaller, with a more intense flavor. You can use fresh or frozen tomatillos to make this salsa. Kelley puts her frozen tomatillos directly onto a hot griddle to pan-roast.

Ingredients: 1 lb. tomatillos (8 to 12, husked and rinsed), 4 medium unpeeled garlic cloves, hot chiles to taste (1 jalapeno, 2 serranos, or more), 1/2 cup finely chopped white onion,  1/3 cup chopped cilantro, and salt

Optional additions/substitutions: lime juice, 1 or 2 chipotle chiles en adobo, 1 or 2 roasted/peeled/seeded poblano chiles, 1 or 2 roasted/grilled green onions.

Heat a large iron or non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Dry-roast the tomatillos and garlic cloves until well browned and soft (3-4 minutes per side for the tomatillos, 6 or 7 minutes per side for the garlic).  Put the tomatillos and peeled garlic in a blender or food processor with the seeded and chopped chiles, 1/2 tsp salt, and any optional additions. Blend to a coarse puree. Add the cilantro and chopped onion and pulse to combine. Add fresh lime juice to taste, and water if you want a thinner sauce.

Tomatillo salsa is great in guacamole, with scrambled eggs and cornbread, mixed with cooked chicken or fish, or added to lentil soups.

Corpus Christy Chiles

Chiles

Our friend Phil has an aunt down in Corpus Christy that makes a fabulous condiment known simply as “Chiles”. No meal is complete without it. Phil didn’t give quantities other than “some” and “a few”, so I made an experiment using the following proportions.

Ingredients: 1 tsp whole cumin seed, 1/2 tsp black peppercorns, coarse sea salt, 3 chopped garlic cloves, 2 or 3 small hot chiles (chiles pequin or bird chiles for more heat, jalapeno or serrano for moderate heat), fresh lime juice or cider vinegar, water

Dry-roast the cumin and peppercorns on an iron skillet over medium heat until toasted and fragrant, about 1 minute. Be sure to shake the pan or stir the spices often to prevent burning. When cool, use a mortar and pestle to grind them to a powder with a generous pinch of coarse salt. Add the chopped garlic and pound to make a paste. Add the chopped chiles (seeded or not, according to your heat comfort) and mash them into the paste. Add one or two tsp. lime juice or cider vinegar and 4 or 5 Tbs water to make a thin sauce.

My sauce was extra delicious– fresh tasting and fruity– because I used about a Tbs or so of our friend Justin’s homemade smoked red jalapeno salsa (just smoked red jalapeno peppers and vinegar).  I tried two more experiments: I added a few Tbs fresh orange juice to the sauce (very good–a great dressing for a yakon-carrot salad), and I stirred a few spoonfuls of the sauce into a small bowl of extra virgin olive oil for dipping bread (wow!).

**Kelley will be teaching a class called “Mother Corn” for the Asheville Organic Growers School in early March.

Elemental Cooking

Swedish Cabin

Our Swedish travels took us very far north, into Sammi land, to visit with Jogge and Nina at their summer cabin. The small town of Overkalix is not far from the Arctic Circle, a land of cold rivers fed by snowmelt from the mountains, many lakes, and forest. Nina and Jogge’s cabin is reached by ferryboat, and then a 10-minute boat ride to a small landing beach. The lake was once a river flowing through the forest…tannin-dark and ringed with marshland. This part of Sweden is home to moose and reindeer, salmon swimming from the sea upriver, moss and lichen-covered rocks, and many trees twisted from winter wind and ice. The landscape is elemental and spare, and filled with deep silence.

IMG_1516

Jogge warned us, “It is very rustic…no electricity, no running water, no road…” But we are prepared. We lived this way for six years in the Boomer Bill cabin. Cooking here is like the landscape– elemental and spare. There is a direct connection with earth, fire, and water.

IMG_1749

We caught small fish from the lake. Jogge salted them and put them in the cold storage pit under the house until we were ready to cook them over an open fire. We scraped the blackened skin off and pulled the sweet white fish off the bones on to thin toasted flatbread. That’s it. What more do you need?

Cooking with Fire

Freshly caught lake fish and an open fire are not always at hand. Later on our trip, Beth and Annalie showed us how to make delicious roasted fish in the oven or over hot coals in an outdoor grill. Place a thick fillet of mild white fish (Beth used cod) in the center of a large rhubarb leaf. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cover with thin rhubarb stalks. Wrap the leaf snugly around the fish and tie it to make a package. Roast the fish in the oven at 375 degrees F. for 15 to 20 minutes (depending on thickness), or on a grate or metal pan over indirect heat in a covered charcoal grill. I used the same method for whole trout at home. The rhubarb leaf is not edible, but it imparts an earthy, lemony flavor to the fish. The roasted rhubarb stalks are superb.

Whole Trout stuffed with Herbs

Whole Trout

When frost comes, foil takes the place of rhubarb leaves, and lemon stands in for the rhubarb stalks. Herbs enhance the delicate flavor of trout, and the results are aromatic and juicy. Our end-of-season trout are quite large and perfect for baking. If you are using smaller trout, make a separate package for each one.

Ingredients: whole, cleaned trout(s), extra virgin olive oil, salt, freshly ground black pepper, 2 lemons, thinly sliced garlic cloves, sprigs of fresh rosemary, parsley, mint, fennel, and/or thyme, dry white wine, and aluminum foil

Place the trout on a square of aluminum foil that is large enough to fold and seal into a package. Rub the inside and outside of the fish with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with lemon juice inside and out. Place the garlic slices and herb sprigs into the cavity of the trout. Close the trout and place thin slices of lemon on top. Drizzle 1 or 2 Tbs white wine over the fish and fold the foil closed so that no liquid can escape. Place the foil wrapped fish on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees F. for about 10 minutes per inch of thickness of fish. A large trout takes about 20 minutes; the flesh should be just opaque. Transfer the fish and all the juices to a platter.

This is especially good served with crusty bread for dipping and a bright green herb pesto: Finely chop a handful Italian flat-leaf parsley, a few fresh mint leaves, a little fresh thyme, and 2 garlic cloves. Add a big pinch sea salt and 4 Tbs toasted walnuts or pine nuts. Continue by hand or with a mortar and pestle to make a rough paste. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and add extra virgin olive oil to the desired consistency.

Trout with Bread

Another night at Overkalix we had a feast of reindeer meat and vegetables seasoned with wood smoke from the fire. Our appetizer was baby chanterelles sautéed in butter on toast.

Mushrooms with Bread

Jogge’s Reindeer Stroganoff

Ingredients: 1 lb. reindeer or venison tenderloin, 1 onion. 2 garlic cloves, 5 or 6 crushed juniper berries, 1 or 2 minced fresh hot chiles, 8 oz. sliced fresh button mushrooms, 1 cup thick Turkish or Greek yogurt

Cut the meat into very thin slices and season it with salt and black pepper. Warm 2 Tbs olive oil in a large skillet with 1 finely chopped onion. Sauté the onion over medium high heat until softened, 5 or 6 minutes. Add the finely chopped garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add the meat, chile, and juniper berries. Sauté 2 or 3 minutes. Transfer to a warm plate. Add 1 1/2 Tbs oil to the hot pan and sauté the mushrooms 5 or 6 minutes. Add the meat back into the skillet and toss with the mushrooms. Reduce the heat, add the yogurt, and stir until warm through. Serve

I made a version of this meal with tenderloin of “wild” goat (an escapee that lived in the forest for four months) and fresh shitake mushrooms. I followed Jogge’s method, briefly searing the thinly sliced meat with onion, chile, juniper berries, and garlic. I sautéed the sliced mushrooms separately, tossed the two together, and we ate it wrapped in fresh tortillas…with yogurt sauce and salsa.

Beth and Annalie’s Yogurt Sauce

Stir together 1 cup thick Greek-style, Bulgarian, or Russian whole milk yogurt with 1/2 tsp freshly toasted and ground cumin seed, 2 tsp minced garlic, a pinch of salt, and 4 Tbs chopped fresh herbs (mint, parsley, cilantro, lemon balm, chives…).