Asparagus Leek Soup

1 1/2 pounds asparagus
3 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup minced leek
2 gloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup half-and-half or raw milk
3/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup parmesan cheese (optional)
Splash lemon juice (optional)

Cut asparagus into 1-inch chunks and simmer in chicken broth for about 5 minutes, until tender. In a small saucepan, melt butter and sauté leeks and garlic for five minutes on medium-low heat. Add flour and cook for one more minute.

Add the flour mixture to chicken broth and stir until thickened. Blend everything together until semi-smooth. Then return soup to sauce pan, add raw milk, thyme, and salt and pepper. Simmer everything for five minutes and then top with optional parmesan and lemon juice.

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Nettle Cake with Lemon Frosting

Nettles

These nettles are too sweet to sting.

For the Cake
2 cups, packed, raw young nettle leaves (use gloves!)
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Zest & juice of 1/2 lemon
2 cups Nash’s white wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Frosting
2/3 cup butter, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Zest & juice of 1/2 a lemon
Frozen berries, any kind
Lemon zest

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease and line two 7” round cake tins. Using rubber gloves, wash stinging nettles and remove stems. Place in boiling water for 3-4 minutes to remove sting. Refresh under cold water, drain and puree in a blender.

In large bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, then nettles, vanilla, zest and lemon juice. Sift in flour, baking powder and salt and stir to combine. Spoon into prepared tins, push to edges and level, then bake for 25 minutes until inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool completely.

To make the frosting, in large bowl, cream butter until fluffy. Add sugar and beat. Beat in zest and lemon juice to make a frosting consistency and beat again. Spread some between cake layers and sandwich together. Cover with remaining frosting and decorate with berries and lemon zest.

nettle cake batter

The batter…

nettle cake before frosting

…the cake before frosting…

nettle cake with frosting

…and the cake after frosting (and tasting!).

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Vegetable Tempura

Bunch carrots, bagged carrots, green onions, red onions, gold beets, red beets at farmer's market

Raw veggies are absolutely lovely, but sometimes it’s fun to mix it up with tempura for a special occasion.

Serves four to six as an appetizer.

Dipping Sauce
2 scallions, minced
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon grated ginger root
2 minced garlic cloves
1 teaspoon dry mustard

Batter
2 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups cold water
1/4 cup dark sesame oil

Veggies
5 cups seasonal fresh veggies, such as broccoli, zucchini, carrots, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, etc.

For the dipping sauce, combine the scallions, soy sauce, water, vinegar, honey, ginger, garlic, and mustard in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for an hour to let the flavors blend.

For the batter, mix together the flour and baking powder. Add the cold water and sesame oil all at once and whisk until the consistency of pancake batter and very smooth. Refrigerate until ready to prepare the tempura.

Blot the vegetables dry, season with salt and pepper and dip into the batter. Coat them evenly.

Pour the oil into a tall pot to a depth of 3 inches. Heat over medium heat until around 350 degrees F. Work in batches to avoid crowding. Slip the batter-coated vegetables into the hot oil, deep-frying until the batter is a golden brown and puffy, 3-4 minutes. Turn the veggies so they cook evenly. Remove from the pot with tongs. Drain on an absorbent towel. Serve with dipping sauce.

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Pumpkin Cornmeal Biscuits

Baby in a pumpkin

Do I get a biscuit? A pumpkin biscuit?

1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups Nash’s white flour
1/2 cup Nash’s cornmeal (either coarse or medium grind)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons apple cider or apple juice

Preheat the oven to 425 and oil a baking sheet. Cut the butter into small pieces and place in a medium bowl. Sift in the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the brown sugar and mix until lump-free.

In a blender or food processor, combine the pumpkin puree and the cider or juice. Pour into the flour mixture and stir briefly, just until well blended. Drop the biscuits by 1/4 cups onto the baking sheet 1-2 inches apart.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until puffed and very slightly brown around the edges and a toothpick tests clean. Serve immediately.

This seasonal recipe comes from the Moosewood Restaurant New Classics cookbook.

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Pumpkin Pie Using a Fresh Pumpkin

sugar pie pumpkins

Pumpkin pie from real organic pumpkins is easier than you think!

Best served barely warm, with freshly whipped cream kissed with maple syrup and vanilla.

1 medium sugar pumpkin
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch single crust pie (see below)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup honey, warmed slightly for easy pouring and mixing
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

To Roast/Prepare the Pumpkin:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Cut pumpkin in half and remove seeds. Lightly oil the cut surface. Place cut-side down on a glass baking dish or baking sheet with four rimmed sides. Bake until the flesh is tender when poked with a fork (usually about one-half hour to 45 minutes). Cool until just warm. Scoop out the cooked flesh from the skin and puree.

For the Pie:
Increase oven preheat temperature to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). In large bowl, blend together 2 cups pumpkin puree, spices, and salt. Beat in eggs, honey, milk, and cream. Pour filling into pie shell. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes at the new temperature, or until a knife inserted 1 inch from edge of pie comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Options:
Reducing the amount of honey to 3/4 allows the pumpkin flavor to come out more in this recipe, and also makes it less sweet.

Instead of baking in a pie crust, bake it in greased custard cups or pie dish. The result will be gluten-free pumpkin custard!

If you want to make the pie or custard extravagant, mince up candied ginger and spread a layer on the bottom of the crust, or bottom of the dish, before filling.

Exclude milk as desired, and substitute soy, rice or almond milk.

Pie Crust
2/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into half-inch pieces
2 cups of flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
6-7 tablespoons cold water

In the bowl of an electric mixer or food processor, pulse the butter, flour, salt, and sugar until the butter is the size of peas. Add the water, one tablespoon at a time, while mixing on low. When the dough just barely starts to come together, turn off the mixer and stop adding water. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead briefly until the dough is cohesive. Flatten the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for 30 minutes.

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What’s the difference between hard wheat and soft wheat?

Hard red wheat flour and soft white wheat flour packages

Find both hard and soft wheat flours at Nash’s, in two-pound and four-pound bags.

Hard wheat is a bronze-colored wheat and has a higher gluten content. It is typically used to make breads. The gluten is found in the starchy center—the endosperm—of the grain (the only component that remains after the refining process). The bran of the whole wheat flour cuts those gluten strands and creates a denser and heartier bread product. Soft wheat is a light golden color and is often called “white wheat.” It has more starch and less gluten than hard wheat, and it is a good choice for cakes, pastries, desserts, and sauces. Both hard and soft wheats can be either a winter or spring variety, depending on when they are planted. Winter varieties are normally higher in minerals because of the longer growing season and more extensive root systems that have developed. You can find both wheats (locally grown and locally stone-ground) at Nash’s.

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Extra-Special Pancakes

This recipe is one of our favorites. It makes a fluffy, moist and nourishing pancake—a lovely holiday brunch item and perfect for a cold winter morning. Plan on preparing them a day ahead.

Nash's flour in two-pound bags

What extra-special morning will you make these extra-special pancakes on?

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups buttermilk, kefir, or yogurt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons melted butter

Soak flour in the buttermilk, kefir, or yogurt in a warm place for 12-24 hours. Stir in other ingredients and thin to desired consistency with water. Cook on a hot, oiled griddle or on a cast-iron skillet.

These pancakes take longer to cook than pancakes made with unsoaked flour. The acids in the cultured dairy activate the enzyme phytase which begins to break down phytic acid found in the grains, making the grains and the nutrients they provide easier for us to digest and absorb. The lactic acid and lactobacilli found in the cultured dairy help to break down complex starches and proteins that can be difficult to digest.

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Easy Baking Powder Drop Biscuits

Soft White Wheat Flour

Try these biscuits with thyme and cheese, plus Nash’s flour. Yum!

1 cup Nash’s hard red wheat flour
1 cup Nash’s soft white wheat flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/2 cup chilled butter, diced
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon dried thyme (optional)
Grated cheese, to taste (optional)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a bowl. Cut in the cold butter with a knife or pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add milk a little at a time, stirring lightly between additions. Fold in thyme and cheese.

Drop the batter by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes until the tops are golden. Makes 12 biscuits.

We thank CookieeMonster13 at AllRecipes.com for this recipe.

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Pumpkin Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup hazelnuts, chopped and toasted

Preheat the oven to 350.

Grease a loaf pan with melted butter.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, ginger, and salt.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs.

Add the water, sugar, pumpkin puree, oil, and vanilla, mixing after each addition.

Now mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

Add the hazelnuts and stir to combine.

Pour the batter into the pan and tap the sides to settle the batter.

Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool the bread in the pan on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes before removing from the pan.

Slice and serve.

We thank The Art and Soul of Baking in the Sur La Table series for this recipe.

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Pumpkin Ginger Nut Muffins

What I love about these quick bread pumpkin muffins is that they are so easy to throw together, and so hard to mess up. You can mix everything by hand with a wooden spoon, don’t need an electric mixer. Baking soda and eggs are the leavening agents, so you don’t have to worry about old baking powder that refuses to rise. The one cup of pumpkin purée can come from a can, or from leftover baked squash, any winter squash will do – butternut squash, acorn, pumpkin – they’ll all work. If you don’t like nuts, keep them out. If you like raisins, add them in. The ginger gives the pumpkin a nice spicy kick, but if you don’t like ginger, skip it. This pumpkin muffin recipe is very flexible. Serve freshly baked, warm, and if you really want to be indulgent, with a little butter, once you’ve broken them open.

1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup pumpkin purée
1/3 cup melted butter
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts or pecans
2 tablespoons well chopped candied ginger

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt, sugar and baking soda.

Mix the pumpkin, melted butter, eggs, 1/4 cup water and spices together, then combine with the dry ingredients until just incorporated. Do not over-mix. Fold in the candied ginger and chopped nuts.

Spoon mixture into a prepared muffin tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin. If it comes out clean, it’s done. Cool on a rack.

Makes 12 muffins.

We thank Elise from SimplyRecipes.com for this recipe.

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