The greatest addition to Roche Harbor’s kitchen this year was the planting and harvest of our new vegetable garden. Located near our airstrip, Roche Harbor Farm came to life this spring when we planted several varieties of kale, arugula, mixed greens, carrots, beans, summer squash, beets, and fresh herbs that we harvested all summer long.
Earlier this past spring, we also planted varieties of winter squash in hopes of featuring them on the November menu at McMillin’s dining room. Fortunately, we’ve succeeded! This month’s recipes are inspired by our first fall harvest from the Roche Harbor Farm. Soon our general manager and farmer, Brent Snow, will till the soil over in hopes of next spring’s planting.
One of my favorite winter squashes, the delicata, is in the recipe below. This winter squash grows to the size of a large russet potato with a saffron yellow outer skin pinstriped with 12 dark green lines from the stem to the flower end. Its flesh is the color of orange sherbet, the skin is delicate with a nutty flavor and can be eaten along with the flesh.
Our mixed beets from the farm are celebrated on the seasonal menu with a salad of roasted baby beets tossed with herbs, butter, and golden beet puree. Tiny striped baby beet chips give the Russian baby kale, tossed in an orange-Dijon vinaigrette, an earthy balance. If you’ve got some halibut handy from the summer season, the entrée recipe below would make a great main course.
Delicata Squash Chips with Local Goat Cheese Herb Dip
Last fall I was busy in the kitchen preparing the evening specials and had just received a few boxes of squashes from Aurora Farms. I thought I would create a side dish of oven roasted squash, but at the last minute I changed my mind and instead created a fun bar snack. Running out of time, I quickly grabbed a few delicata squashes and sliced them paper thin on the slicer. I took the thin slices of squash rings filled with seeds and guts, fried them crisp, seasoned with salt and pepper, and to my amazement, they were really good. In fact, they were better than potato chips! Please give these chips a try. Your friends will love them when accompanied by my gourmet goat cheese version of ranch dressing.
Serves 6 as an appetizer
Directions: Slice the squash into 3/8” slices using a food slicer or a mandolin.
Heat oil to 350˚ in a 2-quart sauce pan. Place a small amount of sliced squashes (16 slices) in the heated oil and fry until golden brown then remove with a slotted spoon and place on a sheet pan lined with paper towels.
Season batch with salt and pepper while hot. After all the squash chips are fried and drained, place in a shallow serving bowl.
Chef’s Note: While the first batch of chips are cooling, taste one of the chips. If the chips are not crisp to the bite, adjust for more frying time. If they are crisp, dark in color, but taste slightly bitter, adjust for less frying time.
Goat Cheese Ranch Dressing
Directions: To make the goat cheese dip, place goat cheese, buttermilk, fresh herbs, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl and whisk the ingredients together until well-combined. Place in refrigerator until needed. Dip will last three to four days if refrigerated.
Halibut Wrapped in Phyllo Pastry
Directions: Two hours before preparing recipe, remove phyllo from freezer and place on kitchen counter. Remove phyllo pastry from package and place a damp kitchen towel over phyllo.
Start with one sheet of phyllo pastry and lay on baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, paint melted butter lightly over first phyllo sheet. Place second phyllo sheet on top of first and brush lightly with butter, then repeat with third and final sheet.
Place cooked potato coins and tomato halves in center of phyllo square. Top tomatoes and potatoes with five asparagus spears, then place halibut filet on top of asparagus. Fold the outer edges of the phyllo pastry up to the outer edge of halibut filet. Repeat five times for remaining halibut pieces.
Combine butter, salt, basil, minced garlic, and the juice of one lemon in a small bowl and combine. Divide into six equal portions and spread over the halibut filets. Slice the remaining lemon into ¼” rounds. Top each halibut with a lemon slice.
Place completed phyllo-wrapped halibut on a foil-lined baking sheet and store in a refrigerator for up to four hours or until ready for oven. Preheat oven to 400˚. Place phyllo halibut in oven and bake until halibut has an internal temperature of 125˚ or is opaque in the center but still juicy. Serve immediately.
Wild Mushroom Risotto
I am lucky to know some of the greatest professional mushroom pickers in the foothills of the Cascades and am proud to be on their list of chefs they call when this fruit of the forest rises from the mossy floor of pine needles and decaying conifers. Wild chanterelles, oyster, hen of the woods, bear tooth, porcini, and many more can be found as soon as the rains begin in late September through early November. If you cannot get your hands on any wild mushrooms, most markets have farm-raised oyster, shiitake, and crimini mushrooms that will make a wonderful substitute.
Bring the chicken broth to a simmer and add mushroom stems. Allow mushrooms to flavor stock while simmering. Remove mushroom pieces from broth and discard.
In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat, add butter and olive oil. When warm, add onions and shallots and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the assorted mushroom pieces, garlic, and rosemary to the onion mixture. Sauté the mushrooms until tender and the juices have evaporated.
Add the rice and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the rice is dry and slightly toasted, about four minutes. Add the wine and continue stirring until the wine is absorbed by the rice.
Add 1 cup of broth to the rice and continue stirring until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat this process of adding 1 cup of broth and cooking while stirring until the rice is just tender and the mixture is creamy. This will take about 30 minutes in total and use 6 to 8 cups of broth. Season with kosher salt to taste.
Divide risotto into six equal portions, place on a medium-sized plate, and garnish with black truffle oil, cracked black pepper, and freshly grated parmesan.
Chef’s Note: Before undertaking this risotto recipe, time the preparation with your dinner plans as the dish does not hold and is best served quickly upon completion.