Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Off the Shelf: Farm to Fork

Farm to Fork: Cooking Local, Cooking Fresh by Emeril Lagasse is everything we promote on this blog: fresh, seasonal, delicious. However, after much perusing, I feel it is aimed at the cook with plenty of time and money on her hands, and I am not that.

Gorgeous photos entice you at ever turn as Emeril goes through the herb garden; milk, eggs, and cheese; leafy greens; the three sisters: corn, beans and squash; nightshades (tomatoes and eggplant); berries, figs, and melons; the orchard; cole crops: broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower; thistles, stalks, and pods; roots, shoots, tubers, and bulbs; winter fruits; from the mill; fresh off the dock; out on the range; and home economics: preserving the harvest.

As you can see, this is a very thorough book, and there are a few recipes that are simple enough to tempt the home cook, such as: basil-macerated peaches, roasted butternut squash soup, spiced zucchini bread, apricot clafouti, and roasted brussel sprouts. Otherwise, we're looking at things like: Corn, tomato, and lobster salad, lemon-scented orecchiette pasta with fava beans and fresh tarragon, tomato, zucchini, and leek galette with roasted garlic goat cheese, spiced blackberry soup with caramelized peaches and candied almonds, and wild mushroom ragout over creamy polenta.

I tried the Provencal-Style Stuffed Zucchini, and although the recipe looked a little intimidating, the result was not difficult and tasted amazing: so much so that we enjoyed the leftovers just as much. I highly recommend it. I also tried the apricot clafouti which turned out well and was enjoyed by all.

I would recommend this book as an inspiration to get ideas from and then create your own meals. It is worth checking out of the library.

(Farm to Fork)
Print this recipe

2 cups (about 2 oz.) diced French baguette or other crusty bread, preferably day-old (1/2-inch dice)
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. salt, plus more if needed
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more if needed
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
8 small zucchini (each about 7 inches long and 1  1/4 to 1  1/2 inches wide)
4 ounces fresh lean mild pork sausage
3/4 cup minced onions
1 cup finely chopped peeled and seeded tomatoes (about 2 medium tomatoes)

Pulse the diced bread in a food processor until you have an even mix of fine and coarse crumbs. Add 1/4 cup of Parmesan, the parsley leaves, 1  1/2 tsp. of the minced garlic, 1/4 tsp. of the salt, and 1/4 tsp. of the pepper, and process until evenly mixed. Reserve 2 Tbsp. of the breadcrumb mixture for the filling.

Mix 1  1/2 Tbsp. of the exra-virgin olive oil into the remaining breadcrumbs, transfer the mixture to a small container, and set it aside.

Lay the zucchini on a flat work surface, and using a sharp knife, slice off the top quarter of each squash lengthwise. Next, slice a sliver off te bottom of each squash to help keep it stable. Using a small melon baller or spoon, remove the inner flesh from the zucchini to form a small boat shape, leaving a shell that is approximately 1/4 inch thick. Cut the zucchini pulp into 1/4-inch dice, and reserve it separately. Lightly salt the inside of the zucchini shells with the remaining 1/4 tsp. salt. Set them, h0llow side down, on paper towels to drain while you prepare the filling.

Heat 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet. Add the sausage and saute until it is golden, using a spoon to break it into small pieces, about 6 minutes. Add the onions and cook until they are soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chopped zucchini and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the remaining 1  1/2 tsp. garlic, and cook, stirring until the moisture has evaporated and the filling comes together, 2 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat, stir in the reserved 2 Tbsp. breadcrumb mixture, and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Rub the outside of the zucchini with the remaining 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil, and season them lightly with salt and pepper. Turn the zucchini hollow side up, and lightly pat the insides with paper towels. Using a tablespoon or other small spoon, fill the zucchini with the warm filling. Top with reserved breadcrumbs. Lay the zucchini in a baking dish, and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy on top.

6 to 8 servings.

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