This is a tough time of year for Mainers to eat locally. The weather has been warmer, and thoughts of crispy greens from the garden may be budding in our minds, but the garden isn’t even close to producing unless you were an overachiever and got a cold frame going in the fall.

Anything that was root-cellared is either long gone or withered and destined maybe for the stockpot more likely, the compost pile or chicken yard.

I must confess that I am one of those eager garden beavers and did pull this weekend over-wintered carrots, kale, purslane and spinach from the cold frames. If you have the space and have never tried it, I highly recommend it. The satisfaction of pulling growing color from a Maine garden in March is not to be underrated.

In any event, while you may not have a cold frame, you do have a freezer and a pantry, and this is the perfect time of year to be raiding it for the last of the raspberries, peas, broccoli or whatever else you preserved last summer and haven’t yet used.

As a general rule, produce costs more at this time of year than any other, since almost all of it comes from outside the state, if not the country. Raiding your freezer for remnants reduces what you might need to spend on groceries over the next month, clears space for the pending summer’s crops and is just good practice every so often.

The bones of this menu were gathered from some of this and a little of that excavated from the freezer. The beef is some of the last from a whole cow purchased in the spring, the raspberries picked from the garden last summer, and even the galette crust was leftover dough from an overly ambitious project earlier in the winter.

Of course your freezer will not yield this exact combination, BUT I’m willing to bet there’s something in there you could use for dinner this week. If you are stumped, write to me on my blog (www.athomeatsea.com) or by e-mail. I’ll send back suggestions on what to make with what you’ve got on hand. Maybe I’ll even have a recipe already on hand to send as well.

BEEF STROGANOFF

When I don’t find beef in the freezer, I’ll sometimes buy whole beef top round on sale — it can be a considerable savings — and then cut it into stew pieces myself.

This is my oldest daughter’s favorite meal and is oft-requested for her birthday dinner with fresh, homemade pasta. When I was a child we always asked for spaghetti with meatballs for my birthday dinner, and both meals speak of home and childhood to me — either real or imagined.

Serve this with mashed potatoes, buttered egg noodles or freshly made pasta.

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 pounds beef stew meat cut into 3/4-inch pieces

2 teaspoons paprika

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 cups peeled and diced onions, about 2 onions

1/3 cup flour

12 oz. button mushrooms, wiped clean and quartered

1 cup red wine

4 cups beef stock

1/3 cup sour cream, plus more for garnish

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 package (1 pound) dried egg noodles

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the stew meat, paprika, salt and pepper. Saut?ntil most of the liquid has evaporated, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Add the onions and saut?ntil the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat if necessary to prevent scorching.

Add the flour and stir frequently until the flour is incorporated. Add the red wine and beef stock and stir well. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 11/2 to 2 hours, or until the beef is tender. Add the mushrooms and cook for another 10 minutes.

Stir in the sour cream and Dijon mustard and serve over buttered egg noodles or fresh homemade pasta. Garnish with extra sour cream and fresh parsley.

Serves 4 to 6.

RASPBERRY CINNAMON GALETTE

2 cups raspberries, frozen

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon milk

1 tablespoon large-grain sugar such as demerara

Preheat oven to 350. Roll out crust (recipe below) to a 13-inch round and place on a baking sheet. In a medium bowl, combine raspberries, sugar, flour and cinnamon. Toss all ingredients except the large-grain sugar and place in the middle of the galette dough, leaving a 2- to 3-inch border. Fold the border up and let the pleats fall naturally. Pinch them together where they fold. Dot the raspberries with little bits of the butter. Brush the pastry with the milk and sprinkle with the large-grain sugar. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 70 to 80 minutes, or until the raspberry center has set up some and is not quite so liquidy and the crust is golden brown. Serve warm or cool, cutting with a pizza wheel or sharp knife.

Serves 8.

GALETTE CRUST

2 cups flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 cup cornmeal

8 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/2 cup ice water

1/4 cup buttermilk

Combine all of the dry ingredients. Add the butter and either press with your thumbs or use a pastry knife to incorporate. The mixture should look something between bread crumbs and small peas. The smaller the pieces the more tender, the bigger, the flakier. Add the ice water and buttermilk. If you need more liquid, add 1 teaspoon at a time until the mixture forms a ball. Divide into two, cover well and freeze for 30 minutes. Lightly flour the countertop and roll out one disc into an 13-inch circle. Reserve one disc for another galette.

Makes enough for two 8-inch galettes.

 

Anne Mahle of Rockland is the author of “At Home, At Sea,” a recipe book about her experiences cooking aboard the family’s windjammer. She can be reached at: [email protected]