What a week! I left my job of 2 1/2 years, which really was like my baby. (I was tasked with creating a new fisheries outreach program for NOAA Office of Law Enforcement for the Northeast Division — Maine to Virginia.) I initially had little idea what direction to take the program in; starting 6 months after graduation, it’s fair to say I was a bit overwhelmed in the beginning (fisheries management is a language unto itself), but I’m really happy with where we were able to take the program. Looking forward to seeing the direction it continues in, and to starting a new chapter!
In other news, I have to say I’m so happy to spend my days fully absorbed in my love of great, local food now. Work at Short & Main is in full, delicious swing, The Market Restaurant is opening next week (!!!), and it’s been a blast helping in the kitchen at Chive events. Moving this weekend. Cooking, gardening, photography and yoga in my mornings, working at night. Loving it.
Also took a trip to Brimfield last week with my mom. Holy antique heaven! I got so many good finds, and people were lowering the prices before I even had a chance to haggle. Can’t wait to share the amazing things I found once I unpack everything…amber glasses, vintage silverware, copper tea kettle, beautiful coffee sack from Panama. It goes on and on, and I think I might be forming an addiction to this whole flea market thing. Maybe, just maybe I stopped at Todd Farm this weekend too…
Chard & Saffron Cakes with Goat’s Milk Feta
I might be a little obsessed with these tasty cakes of goodness. When I tell people I like to cook, I’m almost always asked what my favorite thing to cook is, what my go-to recipe is. Thing is, I still don’t really have one, since I tend to always want to try a new recipe. This can be a problem when entertaining — probably not the best time to try a new recipe. So I’m thrilled to have found something I will come back to time and time again. These chard & saffron cakes are perfect for lunch, but also great to make mini and serve as an appetizer with friends. It’s about time I found something like this!
The recipe (towards the end of this post) is adapted from Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Literacy, a fascinating book that is broken up into chapters focusing on specific vegetable families, to give home cooks a better understanding of both gardening and cooking. It smartly is set up to teach cooks what vegetables are great substitutes for others that may be unavailable, and if this recipe is any indication, the food seems just incredible.
The vintage silverware I bought was $1 – $2 apiece. So THERE, some of you overpriced vendors!
So nice to take my time in the morning now, and have breakfasts like this. Poached eggs, Tendercrop Farm asparagus, sliced radishes, parsley, butter & champagne vinegar.
There were beautiful glass pieces all over the show, some incredibly overpriced, and others were much more reasonable. The reasonable ones were typically at stands that didn’t specialize in glass, and were more concerned with just getting rid of items.
Chard & Saffron Cakes with Goat’s Milk Feta
- 10-12 cups trimmed chard leaves (beet greens also work well. she notes if you use spinach, you’ll need at least 2 pounds)
- 2 pinches saffron threads
- 1 cup white whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup quark or ricotta cheese (I used quark since that was available at my farmer’s market. It is a tasty spreadable cheese like boursin, and produced a similar effect as ricotta)
- 1/2 cup or more grated salty cheese (the book recommends Parmesan. I used goat’s milk feta and LOVED it)
- 3/4 cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 3 tablespoons olive oil or ghee, plus more for frying (I recommend ghee, or clarified butter, if available to you)
- Thick yogurt or sour cream, to finish
- Microgreens or herbs to finish: I used chives and chive blossoms. Basil would also be great.
Wash the chard and drain in a salad spinner. With a bit of the water still clinging to the leaves, put the chard in a heated pot. Cover and cook on high for a few minutes until wilted, stirring every now and then to make sure it doesn’t overcook or stick to the pot. Add a little splash of water if needed, and cook the greens to taste. Place the chard in a colander to cool and drain when done cooking.
Cover the saffron threads with 2 tablespoons of boiling water, setting aside to use later. Saffron is pretty expensive, so if you don’t want to use it, play around with different spices. Maybe a bit of coriander would be good instead, or a dash of cayenne if you want some heat. If you skip the saffron, you may still need to add two tablespoons of water to your batter, to make sure you get the right consistency.
Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl. In a larger bowl, mix the cheeses, milk, and eggs until blended. Add the ghee or olive oil and saffron, liquid included, then whisk in the flour mixture. Using a rag (lovely to not throw out a million paper towels), squeeze out the excess water from the chard – really give it a good squeeze – and finely chop before mixing into the batter.
Heat a few tablespoons of ghee in a cast iron pan over medium heat. Dropping by the spoonful, cook the batter for a good few minutes until the bottom is golden brown. You’ll only want to flip it once, and when you do, be careful not to smoosh it down with the spatula. Give them a couple more minutes on this side until golden brown on both sides. These could be made large or small, depending on what you’re using them for. Teeny tiny ones would be great for hors d’ouvres!
When finished, give each cake a little spoonful of thick yogurt, some diced chives and chive blossoms, or whatever herbs you plan to use. A few diced, roasted mushrooms would also be tasty on top of the yogurt. Enjoy!!