Company’s Coming for Dinner — Quick!!! Clean Out the Fridge

I can’t be alone when I say I have this need to provide food and beverages for guests when they stop by, even if that visit is unexpected.  Last Sunday I had the most amazing afternoon that I’ve had in a very long while.  My cousin and his dear wife (ok, honestly, they’re both pretty awesome) have a brand new baby and we all wanted to see him, and the farm ended up being the most convenient meet-up location.

Another batch of cilantro-chile sauce ready for the freezer.

Fine with me, really, but I ended up racking my brain Saturday night trying to figure out what to serve.   Anyone that sees me on a Saturday in Pleasantville knows that I’m probably passed out cold on Saturday night after such a busy market.  It’s wall-to-wall people  most times, and many have either farm or food questions…. and yours truly is the answer gal (again, that’s fine….I’ve been told I have all the answers anyway BAER*).

So what did I end up serving 11 members of my family when they showed up at 1pm on Sunday?  A bagel buffet.  Does this show off my culinary talents?  No freakin’ way.  Does it show I care enough to do SOMETHING even though I’m wiped out from a long week?  Yes.

But I did have bagel spreads, coffee (decaf AND reg, MOM ‘n’ ART), tea,  OJ, The FarmGirl’s Mint Lemonade, and assorted cakes and  cookies that guests brought and piled onto my kitchen table.  I mentioned something after most people had left about wishing I had a little more space for entertaining, and Aunt Helen said, “it’s better to have a small space over-flowing with friends and family than a big space that’s empty.”  And she is so right.  No more complaints, even in my head.


BTW, the baby is SO DAMN SNUGGLY AND ADORABLE!!!  We were going out to get some pumpkins and I put him in the sling just like I did with Thomas for the first 3 years of his life.  It felt so good.  If my eggs weren’t so old and fossilized I’d say it quite nearly got my clock ticking again.

French Fingerlings and Sliced Leeks bathed in EVOO and ready to roast.

About a week prior to this visit, I had other family visiting from Arizona.  That one required a pre-visit fridge clean-out and I came up with such a delicious one-dish meal that I’ve been sharing it at all the markets.  Many thanks (and apologies for not posting this recipe sooner) to my friend Carol at Picklelicious (who will also be at the Open House at the Farm, so come over and see what all the fuss is about!) who provides the best olives and such.

I am finicky (shocking, I know) and can’t eat leftover reheated potatoes.  But this was all I had left on a Friday night after market and before my long Saturday, and a long slow heating in the toaster oven (with an extra piece of fish) made it taste as good as fresh, and kept me wanting more.

One-Dish Mediterranean Fish with Fingerlings and Olives
French Fingerling Potatoes (Austrian Crescent work just as well)
Sliced Leeks
Garlic, chopped but not minced
Peppadew Pickled Red Peppers, halved
Marinated Artichoke Hearts
Kalamata Olives
Whole lemon, sliced into wedges and seeds removed where possible
Fish fillet(s)
Fresh Parsley, salt and pepper

This is another toughie….. 

Slice the potatoes and leeks (wash either before or after slicing, your choice, just drain well if you choose the latter) and toss with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper, then spread onto a sheet pan and roast for about 20 minutes at 400°.  Stir in the garlic and let it roast for another 10 minutes or so.  The potatoes should be nearly fork-tender, but timing will depend upon the size of your slices. 

Add the Peppadews, artichoke hearts and olives and toss well.  Push the veggies to the edges of the sheet just so you have enough room for the fish fillets (shrimp works well too, and possibly chicken, but I don’t do poultry, so you let me know).  Sprinkle fillets with salt, pepper, and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Squeeze a few lemon wedges over fish, then scatter all lemon wedges throughout veggies.  Bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until fish is cooked through.  Plate and top with chopped fresh parsley.

Skippy McJif, Looking for fresh peanuts…..
Fresh Peanuts on the plant – they grow underground!

So here at the farm, all the squash, potatoes and onions have been harvested and removed from the fields.  It’s important that we get them out of the ground and into storage (and curing properly to improve longevity) before a hard freeze.  Now, every week before market, we sort and wash only what we need.  No need to wash extra!

Every time I see a squash with a bruise or a cut I think, “we can’t sell that – I should do something with it.”  And then I think, “that little pest I gave birth to won’t eat squash unless it’s delicata fries… so what can I do that is spicy and different and just for me (and Dad and Gerry, duh)?”

Raw Peanuts waiting to be roasted or boiled or just devoured as is!

Inspired by a recipe in the Thanksgiving issue of Bon Appetit, I created a SIMPLE marinade/glaze that is delicious on all roasted root vegetables.  I’ve done carrots, beets, parsnips and potatoes with this.  I’m not a fan of parsnips, apparently… at least in this application.  But I’ll try again.  Because I just can’t stop.

Honey-Chile Glaze for Roasted Root Vegetables
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 – 1/3  cup honey
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 clove garlic, grated
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all in small bowl and whisk well, or put all ingredients in a small jar and shake like crazy.  The honey will combine better and easier if it’s warmed a bit, so I put the metal bowl (or jar) on top of the oven as the veggies are roasting.   When the veggies are about halfway done, I pour on some of the glaze (they shouldn’t be swimming in it, although it IS tasty enough for that!), toss around, then roast for another 20-30 minutes. 

Butternut Squash slices, roasted with Honey-Chile Glaze

P.S.  The squash slices in that glaze were even delicious cold.  Who would’ve guessed?

* FYI:   BAER  =   Big Ass Eye Roll