Monthly Archives: September 2011

When everything collapses,

plant your field of dreams..

URBAN ROOTS is the next documentary from Tree Media. Produced by Leila Conners (The 11th Hour) and Mathew Schmid and directed by Mark MacInnis, the film follows the urban farming phenomenon in Detroit.  Urban Roots is a timely, moving and inspiring film that speaks to a nation grappling with collapsed industrial towns and the need to forge a sustainable and prosperous future.”

Smoked Pheasant Risotto with Field Mushrooms and Baby Asparagus

Bits and pieces of leftover smoked pheasant with onions, garlic, mushrooms, asparagus, Arborio rice, pheasant stock,  French vermouth, fresh herbs and lots of cracked pepper..

Smoked Pheasant Risotto with Field Mushrooms and Baby Asparagus

1/2 cup white onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon pastured butter
1 cup French dry vermouth
1 bunch fresh herbs
5 cups pheasant stock, divided
2/3 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup fresh asparagus, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 pound smoked pheasant, torn into small pieces
1 cup Arborio or Bomba rice
pieces of pheasant skin
pink peppercorns
aged Parmesan

Toast the onions in a dry skillet over medium heat until nicely browned.  Add the butter, olive oil and garlic, stir to combine and cook 1 minute.  Add the vermouth and scrape loose any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Allow the mixture to cook down until the liquid has been reduced to about 1/3 cup.

Add the rice, stir to combine and cook 2 minutes.  Add 3 cups stock and reduce heat to a gentle boil and cook 20 minutes, stirring frequently.

Meanwhile, toast the pieces of skin in a heavy skillet until the fat has rendered and the skin has begun to darken and crisp.  Transfer the skin to a cutting board and allow to cool enough to handle.  Chop the skin into small pieces, add to the rendered fat (add a little butter if there isn’t enough) along with the mushrooms and saute until golden.  Set aside.

Once the rice has absorbed most of the liquid, add another 1-1/2 cups of stock and simmer, stirring constantly, until half the liquid is absorbed.  Add the pheasant, mushroom mixture and asparagus and cook (again stirring constantly) until the asparagus is tender and the pheasant is warmed through.  Use the last 1/2 cup of stock if needed to prevent the pan from getting dry.  Season liberally with freshly-cracked pink pepper and taste for salt (although it usually doesn’t need any).

Turn the finished risotto out onto pre-warmed plates and finish with a little aged parmesan if desired.  Properly made risotto has a creamy texture and is wet enough to slide around the plate a little.

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In Texas, most pheasant hunting takes place in the 3 dozen or so northernmost counties (the Panhandle), where the next season runs December 3rd through January 1st.  Playa lake bottoms are a consistently productive location for both ducks and Ring-necked pheasant.

Gulf Snapper on the Half Shell

Fresh Red Snapper filets from the Texas Gulf are grilled and basted over an open fire until crisp and a  little charred on the underside..

Gulf Snapper on the Half Shell

To prepare, filet fresh red snapper (or redfish), leaving the skin and scales in place to form a protective “half shell” that protects the flesh from the fire.

Lightly coat the grill grates with olive oil, then lay on the filets skin-side down.  Without moving the fish, grill until the underside is crisp and a little charred, basting all the while with a compound butter.  The fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork.

Example Compound Butter for Grilled Snapper

4 ounces pastured butter at room temperature
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 scant teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1-1/2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice

Combine all ingredients together in a heat-proof bowl and keep near enough to the fire to keep it soft during use.

The single most sought-after offshore fish, Red Snapper are caught from reefs, rigs and banks along the entire Texas coast. Hand line, manual reels and electric reels are used, all equipped with heavy weights and multiple hooks. Bait with fresh squid or cigar minnows; live pinfish or pigifsh will catch larger snapper.

After years under protection due to overfishing, Gulf Red Snapper has made a welcome recovery.  The NOAA Fisheries Service opened a 48-day recreational season this past summer, with an estimated catch of some three million pounds (adults average from 2 to 5 pounds, but can be much larger).

Grilled Peach Salsa

Fresh, local peaches are drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with fennel seed before being grilled until lightly blistered and caramelized.  Cooled, chopped and mixed with diced red onion, sliced Serrano peppers and fresh cilantro..

Grilled Peach Salsa

Grilled Peach Salsa (inspired by a recipe by Vivian Henoch)

3 fresh peaches
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons fennel seed (or 1 teaspoon fennel pollen)
2 Serrano peppers, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup red onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
fine sea salt

Plunge fresh peaches into boiling water for about 1-1/2 minutes to loosen the skin, then chill in a bowl of ice water.  Peel or rub the skin from the peaches, split them in half and remove the pit.  Blot the peaches dry, then lightly rub with olive and sprinkle with fennel seed.  Grill the peaches until slightly blistered and caramelized, about 2 minutes per side.  Transfer to cutting board and allow to cool enough to handle.

Cut the peaches into 1/2 inch dice and combine with1 tablespoon of olive oil and the remaining ingredients (except salt) in a non-reactive bowl.  Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.  Remove from refrigerator, season to taste with salt and serve.