Monday, January 4, 2010

Dark Days - Week 7

This week there were a couple all-local dishes feasted on by our household.  The first was actually cooked last week, but eaten mostly this week, so I'll share:

A very simple stew, made with beef, carrots and potatoes.  The beef was stew meat local to Nebraska, where my in-laws purchase half a cow each year, and hand carried to us (in a cooler full of dry ice) when they visited Baltimore this summer.  We are still working at eating all the meat they brought us!

I popped all the ingredients in a crock pot and let it go for about 6 hours on high.  I can't provide the exact recipe, as it was one of those instances where I googled "beef stew" on my palm pre and follow whatever recipe looks acceptable for the ingredients I've chosen.  I can tell you that, especially with the potatoes being purple, the completed meal was not the prettiest looking stew, so I have no pictures of the finished product.

The next meal was quite a lot of work.... something I'm not sure I'll be making very often, although it came out well!  I spotted the recipe for lasagna in Martha Stewart Living and filed it away for a Dark Days meal, since the primary ingredients were squash and homemade pasta (and sage, a plant of which we have just barely kept alive in our kitchen).

This was my first time making pasta from scratch, and of course I start by experimenting widely with ingredients, crossing my fingers it would turn out.  Instead of the 2 cups AP flour, I used 1 cup buckwheat flour and 1 cup whole grain pastry flour, since those were the local flours I could find.

Here I am making a mess as the well in my mound of flour did not hold the 3 eggs,
which then went running all over the counter!

Unfortunately, there aren't any in-between shots, since my photographer went back to watching Iron Chef America re-runs after I stopped freaking out about my eggs running away.  But the good news is, I have now successfully made pasta from scratch, BY HAND!  (I had asked around at work last week to see if anyone had a pasta maker, but figured in the end that a rolling pin would do just as well!)

Here's the end result:

I also roasted brussel sprouts in olive oil and balsamic vinegar to accompany the lasagna
(inspired by the Good Eats episode on brussel sprouts, although Alton never roasts them on the show):

Things I changed from Martha's recipe:

  • I couldn't find local ricotta, but did find local cottage cheese, so I threw it in the magic bullet (worth buying if you like smoothies or pesto alone) to make it creamy like ricotta.

  • My husband doesn't think a meal is a meal without meat, so I added the same local brand sage sausage I used for the stuffing at Thanksgiving.  It's good stuff - and sage flavored, so it blended well with the rest of the dish.  I folded it in with the squash before layering.

  • Since I added the sausage, I skipped the step where you saute the sage in butter - and instead sauteed the sage with the sausage.  Even though I drained most the fat off, I figured the fat in the sausage would be enough.

  • I technically didn't use butternut squash.  I think what I used was a type of pink squash?  It looked the exact same color when you cut it open, and it was the right weight, so I used that instead.  Still left over from our CSA.

  • I forgot to find parmesan, so I just sprinkled more mozzarella on top.

That's it!  The dinner turned out to be very tasty, and after the hours of work it took to put it together, I'm really glad I liked it.