Friday, March 30, 2012

Recipe: Goat Bolognese with Italian Cheese

Donna Hulnick, Speciality Foods Team Leader 
"Attention shoppers, in honor of the Crack Heard Around the World, we will be handing out Parmesan cheese covered in chocolate..."

A couple of weekends ago, a great wheel of Parm was split open after being aged for 2 years in Hadley. "The crack heard around the world...." was touted by Whole Foods where a wheel of cheese, the size of a radial tire, was pried in two on a very busy Saturday.

Parmesan, from the Parmesan region of Italy comes in 80 to 90 lb wheels is known as "The King of Cheese" and its subjects were out in force, some wearing crowns. "Have a piece," said speciality associate Issac with a flourish from his station in front of a big window at the back of the wine department where the wheel was inspected by shoppers.

Other store associates mingled about passed out parma pieces dipped in bitter chocolate and parma with strawberries and balsamic vinegar.  OMG.

The cheese monger explained that this was the very first time this cheese would be exposed to air after sitting in a bank vault in Italy. Donna Hulnick, team leader for the Specialty Foods department, instructed me to examine my piece very closely for telltale signs of freshness. In the case of this cheese there was hardly any darkness near the rind, just a little bit of color and it was quite moist. And getting a taste of the nuttiness of fresh cheese also tells the tale of the fact that this cheese, fresh out of the bank vault.

Getting a taste of aged cheese before oxidation sets in is a rare opportunity. This taste was a nutty, rich and not-very-salty parm flavor. Extra for experts: use the rind of the cheese to adding it to stock. Try it, the next time you have a cheese rind around. Basic foods that need a long cook time, like dried beans, for example, get a nice dose of yummy fat flavor when cooked with a hunk of cheese rind. (Yes, be sure to fish it out before serving the beans. After that compost the rind.)

In the recipe below I feature parm (with aged goat cheese as an alternative) for a Bolognese dish with mostly local ingredients.  Goat meat is a bit tough but has an interesting, not gamy flavor. I buy goat meat at the end of each summer at the Northampton Farmers Market. It is sold by Caroline Hillman of Hillman Farms. She sells chevre all summer long, first fresh and then aged toward the end of the season. In August she takes orders for goat meat. It is $75 for a quarter of a goat. That buys you ground goat meat, goat chops and 2 goat legs/shanks.

For a quick meal, a Goat Bolognese uses ground goat meat (pork or beef or in addition to) and requires very little fussing. I treat it like bolognese by adding cream, wine and cooking for a while. The addition of milk and cream make for a velvety mouth feel. I usually try not to use salt and pepper, just because they can mask the flavor of herb.

Serve with wheatberries or just over potatoes if that is what you have that is local. The cheese, of course, is optional but the goat is not.

Goat Bolognese

1 lb ground goat (or ground beef or pork) meat

1 small red onion, chopped fine

½ small white onion, chopped fine

3 small carrots, peeled and chopped into small cubes

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 cup stewed tomatoes

1 cup red wine

2 tsp fresh rosemary

2 tsp dried sage

1 cup milk

½ cup cream

1/2 C aged cheese, Italian parmasena or local aged goat cheese, to finish

Brown meat, add vegetables, use olive oil if there’s not enough fat in the meat, cook until onions, garlic and carrots are softened. Add wine, bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Then add tomatoes and 1 cup of water. Bring to boil and let simmer for around 1 hour with lid on. Add cream, milk and herbs with salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Is Permaculture Edible?

Ryan Harb, right of the President
At Umass Amherst, students in dorms can opt to live on a 'sustainable' floor.  Last week, Ryan Harb was catapulted into fame when his permaculture gardens won the White House Campus Champions of Change Challenge with the support of 59,841 Facebook friends. It was a close race among students in the US vying for social change. The UMass Permaculture Garden had approximately 2000 votes more than an Arkansas based Food Pantry. Today Harb is being congratulated by the President as one of five Champions of Change for his sustainability efforts. The President said in today's speech said, "If you're not idealistic when you are young then you have a problem."

Harb's success is the transformation of a grass lawn next to the Franklin Dining Commons into a sustainable ecosystem, also known as permaculture. It took two years and many volunteers. 

As Chief Sustainability Coordinator for Auxiliary Services and Enterprises, at UMass Amherst Harb and his team are growing fruit, nuts, vegetables, greens and flowers. He defines the garden as "Sustainability involving people working together to create ecological and edible landscapes."  

There is a permaculture farm at Hampshire College and one in Northampton at the Meadows. Both provide some food in a sustainable ecosystem with no tilling, no lawn and no weeding. This is accomplished by working within the ecosystem. 

Plants can be inoculated with fungi to promote resilience and growth. Pest resistant marigolds and chives are planted are also part of the landscape.  As one grower put it, the real time is setting up the garden, once that is done, there is virtually little to do when permaculture is part of the landscape.

Grandfather of Natural Faming of Japan, Masanobu Fukuok
Masanobu Fukuoka is the grandfather of natural farming in Japan. In his book, One Straw Revolution, he advised that one should “Observe nature thoroughly rather than labor thoughtlessly.”  

Monday, March 5, 2012

UMass Permaculture Group Goes to Washington

"Of that 1,400, 15 finalists were chosen, and five were selected to progress to the “online vote” stage, according to the Globe. After voting closed yesterday, UMass Permaculture was announced the winner...." See Collegian article by clicking above....

Friday, March 2, 2012

Recipe: Goat Loaf

Marty's Goat Loaf 
serves four

Preheat oven to 350


1/2 C home made ketchup (cook down 8 plum tomatoes, 1 clove chopped garlic, add 1 t maple syrup, 1T horseradish or hot pepper sliced fine)
1 lb ground goat meat
1 C yogurt or cream
1 egg yoke
1 egg hard boiled
1/2 C greens, parsley or kale, chopped fine
1 C chopped onion, chopped roughly
2 garlic cloves, chopped roughly
1 C fresh hen-of-the-wood mushrooms lightly sauteed in butter (or 1/2 C dried, reconstituted)
2 T bread crumbs, toasted


In large bowl, mix yogurt, egg yolk and ketchup.
Add ground beef and fold in the rest of the ingredients, except the hard boiled egg and bread crumbs, with your hands.
Form a loaf around the hard boiled egg (make sure you have peeled it.)
Dredge loaf in bread crumbs.
Grease loaf pan with butter and add a bit of water, wine or broth in the bottom of the pan.
Place loaf into pan and bake for one hour at 350.