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Posts tagged ‘turkey’

goat cheese zucchini lasagna

On any given day, this is what I see when I open our cottage refrigerator.

It’s an all-consuming battle, us seven 20-somethings versus a never-ending supply of goats’ milk (two gallons a day, to be precise). Fresh it tastes similar to cows’ milk, but after three or so days in the fridge it gets, well… goaty. We all have various tolerance levels for this unfortunate phenomenon—some grin and bear it by grabbing a five-day-old jar and pouring in a third of a bottle of Hershey’s syrup, some (read, me) give yesterday’s gallon a tentative sniff before hastily returning it to the fridge. “Finding out how much milk someone can drink in a day should be part of the Love Apple interview process,” someone joked my first week here, and though I had to laugh I also secretly cringed. I try to hide it, but since I’ve never been a milk drinker I’m the weakest link in our stand against the goats—Marty, Lupe, and Totes—and their prolific udders.

Still, I had a battle plan: cheese. A list of cheese recipes hangs from a magnet on our freezer door, and after consulting it thoroughly I decided I’d attempt cheese making on my days off this week. Armed with a packet of culture, a thermometer, and an enormous aluminum pot, I began with chevre, heating a gallon of milk to 86 degrees and stirring in the ordinary-looking white powder. And then… that was it. You let the milk sit for 24 hours to separate, then strain out the curds to hang for 4-6 hours. It was so easy I made three batches, satisfying myself with a mental tally for the day: goats—plus two gallons, Sara—minus three.

Of course the cheese never lasts as long as the milk. I eat it for breakfast on toast with jam, but cooking with it has inspired a number of dinners this week—eggplant zucchini gratin, goat pesto pizza, and a lasagna/pasta bake of sorts that threw all of the above (minus the pizza dough) together into two baked casserole dishes of cheesy goodness. Served with two-buck-chuck (those bottles are becoming a regular feature in my photos I know), it made for a wonderful Wednesday night. I’m even feeling a little better about milking at 7:30am tomorrow.

Goat Cheese Zucchini Lasagna

We only had a few lasagna noodles left so I ended up cooking some pasta and making that a layer–either way will work. Also you don’t have to make your own pesto and tomato sauce, but if you have fresh basil it’s especially worth the effort.

For the pesto:

several handfuls fresh basil

1/2 cup pine nuts

1/2 cups grated parmesan

2 cloves garlic

olive oil

For the tomato sauce:

3 cloves garlic, sliced

4 cups canned diced tomatoes

For the caramelized onions and mushrooms:

1 Tbsp butter

2 large onions, sliced into rounds

handful of large brown mushrooms

1 lb ground turkey

lasagna noodles (or penne pasta)

2 large zucchini, sliced into rounds

goat cheese, crumbled

salt and pepper

Blend the ingredients for the pesto in the blender until smooth, adding more or less of each depending on your textural preferences. In a medium saucepan, brown the sliced garlic in olive oil, then add in the diced tomatoes and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated and the sauce looks thick and smooth. Meanwhile, heat butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat, then add sliced onions and mushrooms and caramelize, stirring regularly for about 40 minutes until they are dark brown and gooey. When the onions are done, set aside in a bowl and brown the turkey meat in the same frying pan. In another frying pan, heat olive oil and fry zucchini rounds in batches until each piece is lightly browned on each side. If you aren’t using no-cook lasagna noodles, boil a pot of water, cook your pasta, and drain.

To assemble, lightly oil a large casserole dish and begin layering, starting with the pesto and adding zucchini, pasta or lasagna noodles, tomato sauce, onions and mushrooms, meat, and goat cheese (in any order you choose). Finish with a layer of tomato sauce topped with zucchini and crumbled goat cheese, then bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until sides are bubbling and cheese on top is beginning to brown.

shepherd’s pie

The other evening as I grabbed my camera for what’s become a ritual of last-minute dinner photography (“Wait! Nobody touch the food!”) Sam delivered some sage advice: “You need more people in your pictures.” Yes, the chickens are lovely, but it really is the people at Love Apple that make it so much fun to be (and eat) here, and truth be told, all my fellow apprentices are great cooks. Ellen makes a mean quiche. Christine does a gooey tortilla casserole. Sam bakes fragrant orange scones. Lisette whips up creamy peanut butter avocado dressing. Zach does a spot-on version of Pim’s onion tart. Ross makes incredible sautéed mushrooms. And Phillip makes good everything (out of anything in the pantry—I never cease to be amazed). We eat well here every night, and over the past few weeks I’ve learned as much about making good food as I have in the past year.

I’ve also learned a lot about enjoying food. I admit: I’ve been through several stages in my life where friends took one look at the things I cooked and labeled me a health nut. The first of these episodes occurred early in life—I have a distinct memory of my 13-year-old self substituting olive oil for butter and ending up with a lemon loaf that resembled an oozing brick. Growing up a girl in image-conscious Southern California (or anywhere, for that matter) it can be hard not to develop a controlling attitude towards food, be it what you’re eating or how much of it. Fortunately for me, I discovered life just isn’t worth getting up in the morning if you don’t find pleasure in what you eat.

I have many eating pleasures, whether they be fried eggs in oatmeal, ramen from New York’s Ippudo, or cardamom pistachio ice cream from my new favorite place in Santa Cruz, The Penny Ice Creamery. The pleasures I’ve found here on the farm consist of deliciously hearty meals that usually at least three of us have a hand in, flavored with a healthy dollop of butter or bacon (my cast iron pan loves it) and seasoned with the appetites we build up working outside eight hours a day. As with the shepherd’s pie we had the other night, each meal is a bit of an adventure—some oyster sauce here, a little sliced avocado there—but that only makes it all the more enjoyable. And speaking of enjoying food, no feast at the table outside the cottage would be complete without a glass (or mason jar, or plastic child’s cup) of wine from our dear friend Charles Shaw.

Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s Pie is the ultimate vehicle for improvisation—make your mashed potatoes just how you like them, and taste and season the filling as you’re going along. This is the recipe for a more traditional meat version (we used ground turkey), but we also made a veggie version for the vegetarians among us with onions, corn, broccoli, and canned tomatoes.

1 medium onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb ground turkey

1 cup corn kernels

Salt and pepper

1 tsp red chili flakes

2 Tbsps oyster sauce

1 cup chicken broth

A few Tbsps flour

A generous helping of mashed potatoes

Shredded cheddar cheese

1 avocado, sliced

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large saucepan or skillet, sauté the onions over medium heat until translucent, then add in minced garlic. Add the ground turkey next and break up with a wooden spoon, browning the meat nicely. Stir in the corn, and season to your liking with salt, pepper, chili flakes and oyster sauce. Pour in the broth and turn the heat to medium-low, simmering and adding enough flour to thicken the juices. Meanwhile, assemble your mashed potatoes (Ross made ours with butter, goats’ milk, and garlic—use your favorite). When the liquid from the stock turns nice and gooey, turn of the heat and spread the potatoes in a thick layer on top of the meat (if your skillet isn’t oven-proof transfer meat to a baking dish first). Sprinkle the potatoes with shredded cheddar and bake until the cheese is melted and the liquid from the meat is bubbling up around the edges. Garnish with avocado slices and serve.

nice n’ spicy bobotie (among other feasts)

Life on the farm is full of variety. One afternoon I might be tie-dying Love Apple t-shirts listening to reggae covers of the Beatles, the next wielding a machete through head-high thistles to a soundtrack of grunts and yells (it’s good to let the weeds know what’s coming). Yesterday I sowed purple mizuna and arugula in the greenhouse, lovingly covering the seeds with a thin blanket of soil; then I went out into the garden and killed 23 cucumber beetles, squeezing them mercilessly between finger and thumb. To quote one of my favorite movies, it’s the circle of life. (Not that the Lion King included tie-dye and machetes, but you get the idea).

Eating on the farm has been full of variety as well, and the last three nights have been a perfect example of that. Wednesday night we apprentices sat in the kitchen as we often do—hungry and surveying the pantry. What emerged was the kind of feast that happens when everyone around you likes to cook: fried eggplant slices from our master-fryer Phillip, sautéed purple carrots from Christine, a kale salad with basil and my honey mustard dressing, and a leek, chard, pepper and tomato vegetable bake topped with homemade goat cheese from our newest apprentice Ross. Everything came from the farm—excepting our mason jars of two-buck-chuck.

Thursday nights at Love Apple are Farm Dinner, a gathering of apprentices, farm staff, neighbors, and friends. Since Ross came to us from the New York Culinary Institute and several years of restaurant experience he was put on cooking duty, and the meal he came up with was memorable indeed: grilled tri-tip, roasted potatoes, Caesar salad and a collection of fixings for tacos. The entertainment of the evening is always a series of conversational games, and this week as we ate we mulled over what hat we would wear for the rest of our lives and, in the case of death by animal, which animal we would choose. (I went with “mauled by pit bull,” mostly for effect).

Friday night rolled around and I pulled out one of my favorite cooking tools: a “Nice n’ Spicy” packet of spices for the South African dish Bobotie. Coming from a family of South Africans it’s been a favorite of mine for years: ground meat spiced with curry, browned with onions, garlic, and ginger, and baked in the oven after being mixed with milk-soaked bread and eggs. As I carried it outside in the cast iron skillet with the turkeys gobbling in the distance and seven forks raised expectantly around the table, I remembered what I love most about cooking—it’s not just food we get to share, but meals.

Nice N’ Spicy Bobotie

Whenever any friends of my family visit South Africa there’s one request that tops the list: Nice N’ Spicy spice packets. Fortunately for us, with some good curry powder and nice bay leaves the bobotie packet is easy to replicate. For the non-red meat eaters in our group I used ground turkey and it turned out well, but ground beef or lamb is also delicious.

2 lbs ground turkey

2 slices soft bread

1 1/2 cups milk

2 Tbs curry powder

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 1-inch piece ginger, grated

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup slivered almonds

3 eggs

bay leaves

salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Soak the bread in the milk until soft, then strain and reserve leftover milk. Gently mix the bread with the ground meat and curry powder.

In a heavy-bottomed skillet or pot, saute the onions, garlic, and ginger in olive oil or butter until translucent. Add the meat mixture and stir until the meat is nicely browned, then add in the raisins, almonds, half of the reserved milk and one egg. Season with salt and pepper.

Even out the meat in the skillet until you have a flat surface, then beat the remaining 2 eggs with the other half of the reserved milk and pour over the top of the bobotie. Arrange several bay leaves over the top and bake in the oven until the egg mixture on top is well browned, about 30-40 minutes.

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