Archive | September, 2012

The Joys of Dirty Rice

24 Sep

Farm Table member and guest blogger Christen Miller, who shared her Maque Choux recipe in her last post, is back to teach us how to make another regional dish, “Dirty Rice,” substituting eggplant for the more traditional pork liver. Christen’s food mentor, Gussie Thibodaux (originally from Louisiana), taught her how to make this dish when they were neighbors living in Texas :

One of the things I love about regional cooking is sometimes the names are…colorful. 

A favorite of mine for years is that classic Cajun dish, Dirty Rice, also known as Rice Dressing, but that’s not nearly as fun to say or serve!

I learned my version in Gussie’s kitchen in Galveston, and I’ll give it to you just as she taught me, and add my changes as notes…either way it’s delicious and you’ll love it.

Traditionally dirty rice is made with chicken or pork liver. As this cooks, it breaks down, giving it the “dirty” look it’s named after. Gussie told me she couldn’t stand liver in any way, shape or form, so she substituted a surprising ingredient — eggplant. As eggplant always has and always will be one of my favorite foods, I was thrilled. 

The trick is to brown everything well as it adds a richness to the dish, and of course use the “holy trinity” of onion, celery, and bell pepper!

Gussie Thibodaux’s Dirty Rice


  • 1 lb lean ground beef (I use veggie crumbles)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, finely chopped (I use red also if I have it)
  • 2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 whole or ½ large eggplant, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground thyme
  • 1 tsp Tony Chachere’s Cajun Seasoning, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup long grain white rice (I use long grain brown rice or brown basmati)
  • 2 cups chicken stock (I use vegetable broth), plus a little extra


  • Cook the rice with the broth according to package directions. This can be done while you are cooking everything else.
  • In a non-stick or cast iron skillet brown the meat or veggie crumbles well, and chop with the spatula while cooking to make sure it’s finely broken. Once it’s cooked, remove to a bowl and remove any excess fat from the pan.
  • Add some good oil if needed (coconut or Extra Virgin Olive Oil), and add all the vegetables at once along with the seasoning. Cook and stir until they are all nicely browned, then remove from the pan and add to the meat/veggie crumbles you have set to the side. You can leave any left over oil in the pan at this point.
  • Now you make a roux! Heat the 2 Tbs of oil in the pan on medium heat, then add the flour. Cook and stir continuously until the flour is a lovely brown color – almost as dark as a copper penny. Do not rush this, and don’t use too high heat or it will burn before it browns!
  • Add the meat/veggie crumble and browned vegetables back in to the pan, and stir to coat with the roux. Gently stir in the cooked rice, and if it seems a bit dry, add some broth a little at a time.
  • Serve as a side, but it also makes a great main dish with a salad and some bread.


A Northwest Chowder

19 Sep

Let me first say that I’m sorry.

I don’t have any appetizing photos of farm fresh produce, or photos of a just prepared meal to share with you in this post. Nothing visual to make your mouth water, or inspire you to get in the kitchen.

You see, we’ve been taking care of a brand new human being around here. 

Now, I do have a picture of him:

Do you forgive me now?

What I have to share in the way of food is a hearty chowder recipe that my husband and I learned to make from The Northwest Best Places Cook Book when we lived in our home state of Oregon. The addition of Tillamook Cheese is what makes this a truly Northwestern Chowder, but you can pick out a local cheese of your liking to make this chowder as “local” as possible.  Just make sure it is a sharp cheddar cheese. It goes really well with The Flour Garden Bakery Rustic Bread.

A cozy meal for a cozy night at home — especially while holding a cozy newborn baby.


Northwest Chowder


  • 4 cups peeled potatoes, diced
  • 4 cups water
  •  1-2 tsp cumin seed
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 large onions, chopped 
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 cups corn kernels
  • 8 to 10 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese, grated


  • Combine potatoes, water, and cumin in a large pot. Bring the water to boil. 
  • Lower the heat to a decent simmer until the potatoes are just tender (about 15 minutes).
  • While the potatoes are cooking, heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until transparent. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and continue cooking for a few minutes until well mixed.
  • Add the onions to the potatoes and water, then add the milk, corn, salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Simmer the chowder for about 20 minutes, until it thickens, stirring occasionally.
  • Sprinkle some cheese in the bottom of individual soup bowls, then ladle the chowder over the top. Serve with remaining cheese over the top of each bowl, allowing each person to stir their own cheese into the chowder.
  • Serve with a nice loaf of bread.

What is your favorite soup to make? Share it with us in the comment section of this post, or on Facebook.

The Apple Draws the Earth

5 Sep

School is back in session.

Virginia’s 2012 Fall Harvest Festivals are scheduled.

With the addition of apples in your Farm Table box this week, there is so much potential for creating a fall-inspired dish that will make you eager for a sunny and crisp autumn day.

In honor of our “Back-To-School Garden Box“, we put together a collection of our favorite links directing you to creative apple recipes that even Sir Isaac Newton would appreciate:

We’ve also heard “the buzz” about a new apple cidery opening in Richmond this Fall, and look forward to sharing more about how you can also “drink local” in an upcoming post. Stay tuned!