Photographer: Todd Zawistowski
Northern Michigan Recipes: An amazing organization is sprouting in the Benzie County soil. It's called Grow Benzie, and the group defines itself as a community farmstead—a place where you can tend a plot in a community garden or take classes in all things local foodie, from gardening to cooking. The organization's newly released cookbook, Seasonal Harvest Recipes, is geared to make us want to plant a garden or hit the nearest farm market. Or, in the case of the recipe for Morel, Leek and Cashew Risotto, trek into the Northern Michigan forests in spring to gather morels and leeks.
1 1/2 cups brown rice
3 3/4 cups vegetable stock of a mixture of stock and dry white wine in the ratio of 5:1
1 tablespoon walnut or hazelnut oil
2 leeks, sliced
2 cups mixed wild mushrooms(such as morels), trimmed and sliced
1/2 cup cashew nuts
Grated rind of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
Salt and ground black pepper
Fresh thyme leaves and lemon wedges for garnish
Place the brown rice in a large saucepan, pour in the vegetable stock (or stock and wine), and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook gently for about 30 minutes, until all the stock has been absorbed and the rice grains are tender. About 6 minutes before the rice is cooked, heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the leeks and mushrooms and fry over a gently heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the cashews, lemon rind and chopped thyme to the leeks and mushrooms, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper. Drain off any excess stock from the cooked rice and stir in the mushroom-leek mixture. Turn into a serving dish. Scatter pumpkin seeds over the top and garnish with fresh thyme sprigs and lemon wedges. Serve immediately.