Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bakeovers, by MaryJane Butters


One of the menu staples at my farm is a BakeOver, a one-skillet savory meal or sweet dessert that can be made with virtually any combination of fresh vegetables or fruit. It’s fast, it’s easy, and best of all, it’s homemade. The idea for BakeOvers came to me years ago, but figuring out what to call
them took a while longer. At one point, early on, I used a fancy French name (Tarte Tian), but I decided to abandon that the very moment I was about to serve one to Oprah’s chef when I was in Illinois, a guest of Lois Weisberg, Chicago’s Commissioner of Cultural Affairs. Pretending I know anything at all about French cuisine in front of someone who does made me feel silly.

I started out wanting to create a food concept that allowed people to not only spend less on their food bill, but also avoid the entire middle section of a grocery store—the section where all the expensive, dyed, denatured, and preserved foods are. People who have incorporated BakeOvers into their lives shop the produce, dairy, and meat sections of a grocery store. They fill their carts with different vegetables like jicama, rutabagas, and celeriac; they select good meats and artisan cheeses. Then they walk out the door.

I also wanted to encourage people to routinely shop their local farmers’ markets, where there’s usually an abundance of organic vegetables, or to use the zucchini and rhubarb from their own backyards. That rutabaga or fennel bulb you brought home from the market? No problem. Dice it up and toss it in. Endlessly versatile, but with a gourmet flair, my one-skillet BakeOver idea has turned people into gourmet chefs, cooking from scratch, but always, only twenty minutes in the kitchen. My idea works. It’s novel. It’s easy.

With a BakeOver, there are no limits to what you can create. For the feast on the previous page, I used parsnips, kumquats, and yams; a handful of cashews; a bit of dried purple basil; and a sprinkling of asiago cheese. My BakeOver Buttermilk Biscuit Mix made a beautiful crust that held it all together. This meal looked gorgeous, the flavor was perfect, it was organic... it was made from scratch, sort of.

Here’s how to make a MaryJanesFarm BakeOver:
Preheat oven to 425°F.

YOU’LL NEED ONE SKILLET ...
With one skillet, you’ll be able to make hundreds of different dinners and desserts. The skillet that works best is nonstick, rounded, and deep (like a wok) and about 8 inches in diameter. (What could be easier than one skillet to wash and think about?) For more details on the skillet that I recommend, see my website, www.maryjanesfarm.org. It is possible to use a small cast-iron skillet (a big one is too heavy to flip), although it won’t be as deep, so you won’t be eating as many vegetables or fruits.

NEXT, YOU’LL MAKE A TOPPING ...
Choose a topping from my line of BakeOver mixes (an added bonus: my mixes include my own baking powder recipe that is sodium-free and uses rice starch instead of corn starch, which is usually made from genetically engineered corn) to match your choice of vegetables or your selection of fruit, or use the Basic Crust recipe, below.

THEN COMES THE FUN PART ...
Select fresh vegetables and fruit. If you eat dairy or meat, you can add grated or cubed cheese, meat, tofu, or any boneless fi sh to the vegetables. To the fruit, you can add a layer of cream cheese. Pick your favorites and be creative; they all work.

After you’ve chopped or sliced the vegetables or fruit, add seasonings to taste and sauté them for 3 to 5 minutes in butter or oil in your skillet over medium heat. Then roll out the dough for your topping and place it on top like a piecrust. If you don’t have time for a rolling pin, divide the dough into 8 equal balls and flatten each ball between the palms of your hands. Arrange the fl attened
balls on top of the sautéed vegetables or fruit.

Bake for 20 minutes, then just flip the contents upside down onto a plate and serve.

You can top your one-skillet dinner with any of my BakeOver mixes:
• Black Bean Corn Bread
• Buttermilk Biscuits
• Chili Batter Bread
• Corn Bread
• Focaccia Bread
• Garlic Pesto Fry Bread
• Shepherd’s Pan Bread

You can top your one-skillet dessert with any of my BakeOver mixes:
• Brownies
• Buttermilk Biscuits
• Chocolate Chip Cookies
• Corn Bread
• Scones

Or you can start completely from scratch:

Basic Crust Recipe
1 1/2 cups flour (Tip: a handy way to check for rancidity in flour is to put a pinch on your tongue—if it tastes bitter, it’s rancid. Fresh-milled is best! )
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup water

Mix dry ingredients. Cut in butter. Add water, form dough into a ball, and roll out a top crust.


BAKEOVER MIX & MATCH CUPBOARD
Here are the foods I’ve tried so far … in a thousand different combinations.

BAKEOVER MIXES
Black Bean Corn Bread, Brownies, Buttermilk Biscuits, Chili Batter Bread, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Corn Bread, Focaccia Bread, Garlic Pesto Fry Bread, Scones, Shepherd’s Pan Bread

VEGETABLES
Artichoke Hearts, Asparagus, Beans, Beets, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, Chard, Fennel Bulb, Garlic, Jicama, Kale, Mushrooms, Onions,
Parsnips, Bell Peppers, Hot Peppers, Potatoes, Rutabagas, Sea Vegetables, Spinach, Squash, Sunchokes, Tomatoes, Turnips, Yams, Zucchini

NUTS & SEEDS
Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Cashews, Peanuts, Pecans, Pine Nuts, Poppy Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Sunflower Seeds,Walnuts

PACKAGED FOODS
Black Beans, Coconut, Sauerkraut, Tempeh, Tofu, Tuna

MEATS & CHEESES
Cheeses: Asiago, Cheddar, Cream, Feta, Parmesan/shredded; Meats/cooked: Chicken, Sausage, Beef, Venison; Fish/boneless/cooked

SEASONINGS
Chili Powder; Herbs, fresh or dried; Pepper; Salt; Soy Sauce; Umeboshi Paste

FRUITS
Use fruits like Apples, Apricots, Bananas, Blackberries, Blueberries, Cherries, Figs, Gooseberries, Kumquats, Mangos, Peaches, Pears, Pineapple, Raspberries, Rhubarb, Strawberries

Since fruits can sometimes be watery, here are a few tips:
• If using fresh sliced fruits, sprinkle at least 1/2 cup flour over the fruit before adding your
crust, depending on how much moisture is in the fruit (i.e., bananas need very little, apples
need some, and raspberries need a lot).
• If using canned fruits, drain first.
• If using frozen fruits, thaw and drain first.
• If using dried fruits, rehydrate in warm water, then drain.

For more amazing recipes and over 400 pages of wonderful farmgirl thoughts and ideas, check out: MaryJanesFarm Ideabook, Cookbook, Lifebook and to learn more about MaryJanesFarm, visit www.maryjanesfarm.org.