How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fresh Tomato Sauce with Ricotta

I went looking for a recipe that called for ricotta, as I did not want what I had left over from the Caprese Lasagna Roll Ups to go to waste. I found a super quick and easy recipe that, as a bonus, used only ingredients I already had on hand!

The green tomatoes I brought in from my garden earlier this month are slowly ripening, so I had two fresh ripe tomatoes, plus about 10 "snack size" tomatoes from my CSA to use for the 1 1/2 c. of fresh tomatoes the recipe called for.

I began by mincing and sauteeing a clove of garlic in olive oil, then added the chopped tomatoes. This mixture simmered for about 10 minutes while the pasta cooked. During the final minutes of pasta cooking, I added basil, parsley, thyme, and oregano to the tomatoes and garlic, and finally, one cup of ricotta. The pasta was drained and then the sauce was mixed with it. We topped it with crushed red pepper flakes and shredded cheddar cheese. Quick, easy and delicious.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Beet soup

James and I are not a beet-loving people. When we get beets in our farm box we do a bit of head-scratching to figure out what we can do with them that we will like. Last year we found several recipes that satisfied. Earlier this year I spotted a recipe in my Dishing Up Maryland cookbook that had me salivating for beets - Sweet and Savory Beet Soup with Orange Juice and Yogurt. Just the name of the dish had me anticipating the beets we were sure to get in our farm box. I could just see the beautiful red color, and taste the tangy-ness. But we never got beets. I waited all season, and finally this week my patience paid off. There they were - beets. But wait, those aren't red. Is there such a thing as white beets? Yes, there are. And I used them to make this simple soup.

I began with the three beets. I removed the leaves, and cleaned them, and put them in a soup pot with 2 1/2 cups of chicken stock, 1 cup of orange juice, one diced onion and a bit of garlic salt and pepper. Everything was brought to a boil, then simmered for an hour so the beets could cook. After about an hour I removed the beets, and took the skin off them, then cut them up and placed in a blender and poured in the rest of the ingredients to puree. I divided the soup into two bowls and added a dollop of yogurt. This was really tangy. Even more so than we expected. It was served with a green salad (made also with ingredients from the farm box) and home made biscuits. A lovely fall meal.

Whistle Stop!

The tomatoes in my garden took an incredibly long time to ripen this year, a problem shared by many of the backyard gardeners I spoke to in southeast Massachusetts this year. The wet June, followed by the way-too-hot July did not make for a good tomato year. I was able to harvest about a dozen ripe ones, a few at a time, during late August and September, and I left the remainder on the vine as long as I could, but fearing an overnight frost as October waned, I finally picked them all and brought them inside to ripen. Little by little they are turning red, but I did not wait for all to ripen before enjoying them: I selected four of the biggest ones to make fried green tomatoes. I poked around on the web, and in some cookbooks, and in the recesses of my memory to find a recipe that would incorporate the bacon fat I'd saved recently, along with some of the other farm ingredients I had, and finally just took several different ideas and created my own recipe.

I began by heating the bacon fat in the indispensable cast-iron skillet, it didn't look like enough fat to fry up the tomatoes, so I added some canola oil to it, and one diced banana pepper. I cut the tomatoes into thick slices and coated them in a mixture of corn meal, rye flour, salt, pepper, and fresh, minced basil leaves (also from my garden). The tomato slices were placed in the hot oil and fried for a few minutes on each side until they were a golden brown color. Once they were cooked I removed them from the pan and placed them on a paper-towel lined plate, and served immediately, along with a fresh green salad and some home brew beer. James declared that the tomatoes were perfect - "sweet, tart, hot, and crisp" (he added that those same words could be used to describe his sweetheart). Couldn't have asked for a better review of the meal, and the bacon fat did a wonderful job re-seasoning the skillet. It is slicker than Teflon.

Friday, October 11, 2013


Like my last post this recipe was one I printed out and found on my desk while cleaning my office recently (my office, by the way, has already returned to a state of utter chaos). I probably intended to make this cold soup one of the especially warm days we've been experiencing this fall, but when I finally got around to it last night the temperatures had dropped into the 40s. It was still tasty, and filling, especially with some good bread.

I started with about half a dozen medium tomatoes from a few different gardens (all local and organic). The tomatoes were cut and then placed in a blender and pureed. They were moved into a bowl so that one cucumber, 1/2 a medium onion, and two small garlic cloves could take thier turn in the blender. Once everything was in the bowl in a chunky-liquid state I added 2 cups of commercial tomato juice, a dash of red wine vinegar, and a pinch of garlic salt and mixed well. Finally I whisked in about 1/2 a cup of plain yogurt and chilled for a few hours before serving. This had a pleasant sweetness to it. James especially liked it more than he expected to.

Caprese Lasagna Rolls Ups

I do not remember how I came across this recipe on the internet, but I do know I love lasagna, and Caprese salad, so however I found it, it would have caught my attention. I printed out the recipe some time ago, and found it while I was cleaning my office last week. It was fortuitous since we had a good selection of fresh tomatoes from our farm box, a friend's garden, and our own garden to use. We also had fresh basil from our own garden.

I make a lasagna at Christmas time every year from a recipe in my 365 Ways to Cook Pasta Cookbook. It takes 3 1/2 to four hours to prepare all the ingredients cook the sauce and the pasta, assemble everything and bake. This recipe, while not speedy quick, took considerably less time (about an hour).

If you click on the link above you will see some rather pretty pictures of the lasagna being prepared, and how it looked afterwards. I did not see any reason to make the inside of the noodles look good so mine did not look like that while preparing. Furthermore, I did not "garnish with plenty of basil ribbons". There was plenty of basil in the sauce, as well as fresh leaves rolled up right inside the noodles. I also diced my tomatoes, rather than using slices. I modified the "Simple Marina Sauce" by simply sauteeing some onion and garlic, adding a can of organic tomato sauce, some diced tomatoes and some basil, oregano, and parsley. Ultimately, though my roll ups looked a lot like the "finished" picture (except without the basil ribbons) and they were mighty tasty.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Winter Squash Stuffed with Apples and Cheese

We've gotten several butternut squashes in our CSA box over the last few weeks, so I reprised last spring's Cream of Squash soup, as well as trying our a new recipe. This delightfully autumnal meal took a bit of time, but was not especially complicated. The squash was cut in half lengthwise and seeds were removed. The two halves were baked, cut side down, in a 350 degree oven on a greased baking sheet. While they baked I put together the stuffing which consisted of sauteed apple and onion (one each), two big dollops of cottage cheese and about 1/2 c. of grated cheddar cheese, a squeeze of lemon juice, a tablespoon of raisins and a sprinkle of cinnamon. The stuffing was placed into the squash cavities and then everything was put back into the oven, covered with foil, for about 20 more minutes.

I got this recipe from Jane Brody's Good Food Book. Brody's note says she got it from The Moosewood Cookbook.