Monday, October 28, 2013

Mary's Green Tomato & Pork Pozole

Meet John and Mary Ofjord. They are our kind neighbors. We like to honor the barter system with our neighbors. Our latest barter: Jeremy and I helped unload and stack over 200 bales of hay. In return, I get Mary's Green Tomato Pozole recipe. They are really good at bartering. I am terrible, but I do have this new recipe to put all of my green tomatoes to good use. Plus we get to spend time with our unique and gifted neighbors who have the most amazing Norwegian Fjord horses.

The Fjord horses frolicking through the snow.

Aren't the beautiful? And they live right across the road! My daughter loves to watch the sun rise over their pasture while she battles it out with buttery toast at the breakfast table. It's a very unique view! And it's not that my daughter hates buttery toast, it's just that she strongly dislikes moving in any sort of progressive motion before the bus arrives at the end of our driveway each morning. The view helps the struggle.

\So about that recipe? I made it the very next day of the hay bale marathon. Pozole is an irresistible pork and hominy stew. It has the same comforting affect as a homey bowl of chicken noodle soup, but with spices to warm you. I love it for it's simplicity. I am wowed by it's flavors. The green tomatoes add a tartness and acidity that balances the richness of the pork. Garnish with fresh cilantro, scallions, and lime wedges for a super bowl of goodness to enjoy in front of the fire place!

Mary's Green Tomato & Pork Pozole

4 cups green tomatoes, diced
2 lbs boneless pork shoulder cut into 1 inch cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
Olive Oil for the pan
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cumin ( I doubled the amount. Sorry Mary!)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 fresh jalapenos, seeded and minced
2- 15 ounce cans white hominy, drained and rinsed
2- 14 ounce cans chicken stock, or the equivalent in homemade stock
juice of 1 lime, plus lime wedges for garnish
fresh cilantro, chopped for garnish
salt to taste

Grated radish
Grated Pepper jack cheese
Sour Cream or Yogurt
Minced Onion or Scallions
Lime wedges

Mary says: With a lot of green tomatoes left over at the end of the season, I was trying to find new ways to use them up. Fried green tomatoes are not my thing and you can only use so much green tomato relish around the house. Since I've had a difficult time growing enough tomatillos (the traditional ingredient for Pozole) to make Pozole, a green pork stew which I dearly love, I tried making it with the green tomatoes instead. Some green tomatoes are not quite as acidic tasting as the tomatillos, so you will need to add lime juice to balance the tartness, but taste the stew first as some tomatoes are more tart than others. 

To make Mary's Pozole:
Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pan. Brown the cubes of pork in batches. The better the pork is browned, the richer the taste of the finished stew. Set the browned meat aside.

Next add the onions and garlic to the pan and saute until the onions are translucent. Be sure not to scorch the garlic. Add the tomatoes, oregano, cumin, jalapenos, stock, and the browned meat. You can mash up the tomatoes, if necessary. Bring the stew to a boil, then cover and turn down the heat to a low simmer until the meat is tender- about 45 minutes to an hour. If your tomatoes are still in large pieces, take them out with a slotted spoon and process them in the food processor.

Once the meat is tender, add the two cans of hominy, the cilantro and the lime juice. You may want to taste the stew before adding the lime juice if your tomatoes were tart. Add salt (I added about a teaspoon), and heat to serve, topping with desired garnishes. Serves about 4-6 depending on who you have over for dinner!

Belly Up!!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Caramel Apples

I don't know if anyone has noticed, but we are up to our ears in apples at the Co-op. The Co-op currently has 16 different varieties of apples, 9 of them being regional. Woah Nelly, that's a lot of apples! I used to find this much variety a bit overwhelming. I now find it fascinating and progressive. Progressive because not only are new, delicious varieties of apples being created, but older, heritage varieties are being reintroduced, recognized, and preserved as well. It shows that we can create great apples, but also cherish those varieties that have been lost or under appreciated in the past. I get weak in the knees over a great apple. Everyone seems to have their own preference of what a good apple contains. For me, I like crisp and sweet. Unless I'm baking a pie, then I like crisp and tart. It's all about crisp apples for me. Although Cortland apples have a wonderful tart flavor that I love, but the apple is soft. What is a girl to do?!

So let's talk apple varieties for a second. Our regional apple selection at the Co-op is GREAT! We have Jonathon, Sommerfeld, Sweet 16, Cortland, Goodland, Chestnut Crab, Gala, Wolf River, and a Honeycrisp that is perfect. Flavor profiles you ask? Here's the low down; Sweet 16 is sweet and soft. The Cortland apples are tart and soft. The Chestnut Crab apples are tart and crisp. The Honeycrisp is sweet, but slightly tart with lots of juice and a crisp texture. (If you want to try a variety, but are a little nervous- go for the Honeycrisp!). The Wolf River apple is a very old variety that is large in size, commonly weighing over a pound. This apple is golden green to bright red in color with a firm cream- colored flesh that provides a rich, sweet flavor. The flesh is excellent for sauces, drying, baking, and just eating straight up. This apple has many characteristics of the apples that are on our farm, leading me to believe that I need to post some apple recipes ASAP! But first, a few more varieties and profiles that we feature at the Co-op......

Golden Delicious- crisp and sweet, with flavor notes such as pear, melon, and honey
Gala- crisp and sweet, this one seems to be a favorite eating apple for kids
Granny Smith- crisp and tart, great for pie and crisp operations
Braeburn- sweet, slightly tart with crisp flesh
Honeycrisp- sweet balanced perfectly with slightly tart, juicy, and crisp flesh. Make caramel apples!
Fuji- sweet and soft, with a mellow fruity flavor
Jonagold- sweet, crisp, and has been used as a vehicle for gorgonzola as my breakfast yesterday.

Whew! Apples! We love 'em, they are highly nutritious, and they are found in almost everyone's home this time of year. Here's what I've been doing with my apples. Eating an apple next to a hunk of gorgonzola cheese is ridiculously good. It makes the best breakfast. Unless you are commuting. Maybe don't try that combo while driving. I've been making a sauté of bacon, apples, and roasting garlic- finishing the sauté with a splash of fresh apple juice and white wine and serving over pork chops or chicken with a hearty green like kale or rainbow chard. I've been tucking apples in scone and muffins at work, and even making a creamy apple and butternut squash soup. My favorite treat to make with apples is the caramel apple. It's easy, fast, and can be eaten anywhere- around a campfire, at the bus stop, while riding a bicycle.......endless possibilities.

Caramel Apples

9 apples, I recommend a crisp and slightly tart variety (Honeycrisp!)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream

First, insert a skewer into the top of each apple. This will act as a handle for the ease of dipping the apples in caramel. It also makes for a handy handle for your caramel apple when it is ready for eating.

Combine the sugar and maple syrup in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, and stir. Cover, and cook over medium-high heat until sugar melts. Uncover, and continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until mixture is dark golden, about 10 minutes. Slowly drizzle in the heavy cream. Remove from heat, and stir until smooth. Transfer caramel to a small bowl. Let stand a few minutes to let caramel thicken and cool slightly.

Dip apples, one at a time, into caramel to coat the apples about three quarters of the way up the apple. Let excess drip off, and scrape bottom of apples against the side of the bowl to get some of the excess off.

*If you wanted to take your caramel apples to the next level, this is where you do so. Dip the caramel dipped apples into things like chopped dark and white chocolate, toasted nuts or pumpkin seeds, a sprinkle of smoked sea salt, and/or my daughter's favorite- sprinkles.

Place the apples on a parchment lined baking sheet, and allow them to set. Belly Up!!