Tonight's Simple Good and Tasty Book Club: Closing the Food Gap

Continuing our bookclub this month, we'll be diving into the gap. The food gap, that is. September’s Simple, Good and Tasty book club pick. Closing the Food Gap: Resetting the Table in the Land of Plenty, by author Mark Winne addresses a vast array of political, social and economic issues around food. Check out the discussion questions that we posted earlier this month.from markwinne.comfrom  

Inspired by the themes of seasonailty, economy and even by our local farmers markets, Chef Kristin Hamaker created a couple of delicious recipes to inspire us. Kristin is a real-food advocate and cooking instructor, as well as the happy chef and owner of Farm to Fork, a personal chef service in the Twin Cities.  Thanks Kristin!

Join in the conversation tonight at Mississippi Market Natural Foods Co-op’s Selby location from 7 to 9:00 p.m., and at the Harmony Co-op in Bemidji from 6 to 8:00 p.m. See you there!

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Caramelized Fruit Skillet Tart

(serves 8)

3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter

½ cup packed dark brown sugar

3 cups fruit (chopped into 1/2 inch cubes) such as apple, pear, nectarine, mango, banana or any berries in season

¾ cup all-purpose flour

¾ cup whole wheat flour (or additional all-purpose flour)

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

¾ cup white sugar

1 large egg

¾ cup plain, whole-milk yogurt (or buttermilk)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and position a rack in the middle.

Melt the butter in a large (10-inch) skillet, with an ovenproof handle, preferably nonstick, over medium heat. Swirl the butter in the skillet until it turns nut-brown, then pour it into a medium-large bowl. Without wiping out the skillet, sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the bottom. Top with the fruit in an even layer.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Add the white sugar to the browned butter and whisk until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the egg, then yogurt. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ones and stir to combine.

Pour the batter evenly over the fruit in the skillet. Slide the skillet into the oven and bake about 35 minutes, until the tart is golden brown and springy to the touch at the center. Remove and let cool 10 minutes.

Invert a plate over the skillet, then, holding the plate and skillet firmly together with towels or pot holders, invert the two in one swift movement. Remove the skillet, and the tart is ready to serve.

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French Lentils with Sausage and Chard

(serves 4 to 6)

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 pound sausage (such as Italian pork, bison, even chicken), torn into small pieces

4 ounces bacon, diced

1 onion, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

1 celery stalk, chopped

4 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed

1 pound dried French green lentils, washed and picked over

2 bay leaves

salt and pepper

1 bunch Swiss chard, leaves and stems separated (both separately washed and chopped)

Parmesan cheese, optional

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a soup pot and lightly brown the sausage. Transfer to a plate and pour off the fat from the pot.

Add the bacon to the pot, turn the heat to medium, and cook, stirring, until it renders its fat and browns slightly.

Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until it begins to soften, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the carrots, celery, and chopped stems and cook, stirring, until all the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. 

Add garlic and continue to cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute, then add the lentils and saute for minute.

Add 2 quarts of water and the bay leaves. Bring to a boil, return the sausage to the pot, reduce the heat, and simmer for 40 minutes or until the lentils are slightly tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Stir the greens into the simmering lentils.  Cook for another 5-10 minutes or so, until the lentils and greens are tender.  Adjust seasoning at this point. 

Serve this dish as is in wide, shallow soup bowls with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese and crusty bread or serve over pasta noodles, soft polenta, brown rice, or as a topping for bruschetta.  This stew would also make a good filling for a pot pie.



Tracy Morgan is a frequent contributor to Simple, Good and Tasty. She also runs Segnavia Creative, a business development and marketing firm, and serves on the board of directors for the Mississippi Market Natural Food Co-op in St. Paul.