Recipes at Sound Food

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Leek and Sorrel Custards

This article is reprinted with permission from Small Potatoes, a Bainbridge Island food blog that was recently nominated for  "Best Regional Cuisine Blog" by Saveur Magazine. Check out the competition and vote for your favorite here.

We were lucky to find ourselves with some of spring’s first vegetables from Persephone Farm, and I wanted to make something interesting to honor the eggs and ingredients. This recipe is loosely adapted from the delicious Local Flavors. It looks and tastes awfully fancy, but it was astoundingly easy to make! I think that it could be very flexible, as well. Stick with 1 cup sauteed vegetables and 4 oz of leafy greens and the dairy proportions. Let me know what you come up with!
Leek snd sorrel custards
serves 4, individual portions

1 cup chopped leeks
3 tbls. butter
4 ounces sorrel, chopped coarsely
1 kosher salt
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup whole milk
3 eggs
ground white pepper

crumbled bacon for the top (optional)

   1. Preheat your oven to 350F. Set a teapot of water on to heat.
   2. Melt butter in skillet over medium-low. Use this melted butter to brush the insides of 4 half-cup ramekins.
   3. Add the leeks to the remaining butter in the skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes.
   4. Add the sorrel and 2 tbls. of water to the skillet. Stir around and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. (The sorrel will begin to loose some of its lovely green color, but it will look fine in the end.)
   5. Add milk and cream and stir. (You just want to heat this a little.)
   6. Using an immersion blender, puree the mixture until it is your desired level of ’smooth.’ Add in the eggs and blend for just a tiny bit more. (I found it easiest to use the cylindrical container that came with my immersion blender.)
   7. Set the ramekins in a glass baking pan. Fill with mixture. Pour hot water into the baking pan so that it comes almost to the top of the ramekin.
   8. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the ramekins carefully with tongs.
   9. Garnish with bacon.

Serve with fresh bread and garden salad with potato croutons.

Refresh your recipe repertoire

If your winter cooking rotation is stuck in a rut, it's time to dig yourself out by finding a few new recipes.

The other night I was looking at a huge butternut squash left over from the last Farmers' Market, and thinking it would be a good partner for the farro in my pantry. So I typed "farro butternut" into Google and at the top of the list appeared "Farro and Roasted Butternut Squash" from Heidi Swanson's 101 Cookbooks blog. She added thyme, walnuts and goat cheese to the squash and grain. The result was a tasty, toothsome dish that was good hot or at room temperature. It's a great new addition to my winter recipe rotation.

Here are a few tips for a successful recipe hunt:

Stick to the recipe the first time
First, and this may seem obvious, make sure you choose recipes that have ingredients you like and that are easily obtainable. Not to say that you can't substitute, but if you start swapping out every other ingredient because you don't like it or can't find it you'll usually end up unhappy. I cringe when I read comments that begin "I really didn't like this recipe, even though I swapped out ingredient X because I really hate that, and I left out Ingredient Y because I couldn't get it." Um, if you didn't follow the recipe please don't comment, and don't complain.

Be particular about your sources
Always consider the source. Reputable sites test their recipes. Epicurious, Cookstr, Food Network, Simply Recipes and Star Chefs are a few examples of sites that can be counted on to measure the ingredients right and clearly outline the steps. Many of the foodie blogs are good sources as well. But I usually shy away from sites that feature

Read more: Refresh your recipe repertoire

Shake 'n make your own butter

Making butter is something that women did on farms long ago, using a mysterious contraption called a butter churn. At least that’s what I thought until recently, when I discovered that velvety homemade butter could be mine in less than an hour, with just a jar and some store-bought whipping cream.

My quest began as a search for butter made out of cream from pasture-raised local cows, because of its health benefits and fresh taste. There was nothing like that on store shelves, or at the Farmers Market.

I knew that butter started out as cream. And that there's not better cream to be had than Heavy Whipping Cream from Fresh Breeze Organic Dairy in Lynden, Washington (near Bellingham), which was rated among the Top 10 organic dairies in the country by the Cornucopia Institute. The rating was based on their organic farming practices and ethics, receiving 1195 points out of a possible 1200. Some of the large national producers didn’t fare nearly so well – Horizon Organic got 0 points. Yes, zero. You can read the whole survey here. Fresh Breeze dairy products are small batch-pasteurized, a process that leaves more of the good proteins and flavor than higher temperature constant-flow processes used by most commercial dairies. I’m not sure if ultra-pasteurized cream would ever make the leap to butter.

So I bought a pint of Fresh Breeze whipping cream, which is now available in glass bottles at the Bay Hay Farmstand and Pane d'Amore, and in plastic at T&C on Bainbridge Island. Then I went online to find out what I needed to do to complete the transformation. Less than an hour later I had butter.

First I let the cream sit out on the counter until it was at room temperature. This dramatically reduces the amount of shaking required.

Read more: Shake 'n make your own butter

Leek tart, a most delicious appetizer

Reprinted from Eating Small Potatoes

This is my absolute favorite thing to bring to a party or put out before a dinner. It’s simple to make up ahead of time and so delicious that no one can resist it. If you’re someone who has never had a leek, this dish will convert you to an instant fan – I’m sure of it. The recipe is adapted from Alice Waters’ Vegetables. Serve warm or room temperature.Slice up and feed a crowd.

Tart dough, makes enough for one large, free-form tart or two 10-inch tarts:
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. sugar
10 tbls. butter
1/3 c. ice water

  1. Fill a measuring cup to 1/3 with water and add ice cubes. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix dry ingredients.
  3. Cut in butter with a pastry blender. (I highly recommend that you get one of these, if you don’t have one. I lived for so long without one and now realize how faster everything becomes with one. You can use a butter knife to cut small pieces and then squish with your fingers. It’s therapeutic, but not necessarily efficient.)
  4. Fork in water.
  5. Use hands to bring the dough together into a ball.

large bunch of small leeks, or about 3 big ones
1 tbls. butter
about 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 tbls. flour
salt, pepper
optional finish: cream, kosher salt

Read more: Leek tart, a most delicious appetizer

The perfect summer dinner

Like most people, we’re strapped for time when it comes to meal planning and preparation. This year, with a newborn, a toddler, and plenty of cherry tomatoes underfoot, we’ve found ourselves enjoying many variations on that old summer standby, fresh tomato pasta sauce. Everyone has their favorite version. Here’s ours, adapted from Guiliano Bugialli’s The Fine Art of Italian Cooking.  The unusual feature of this recipe is that you chill the tomato mixture (if you’re really in a hurry you can stick it in the freezer for the time it takes to cook the pasta) and then toss with the pasta as soon as the pasta comes out of the water.  As Bugialli says, “The contact of the very hot with the very cold releases an unforgettable flavor.”  Yep. 

Uncooked Tomato Pasta Sauce

1.5 lbs cherry tomatoes (more or less), rinsed and stemmed.
4 medium garlic cloves, peeled
25 large leaves fresh basil
½ cup best extra virgin olive oil
Generous amount of freshly ground pepper
1 lb penne pasta


Read more: The perfect summer dinner

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