Monday, October 31, 2011

This Week's Eatwell Box - 11/2/2011

This week's box of goodies is as follows:

Florence Fennel
Cauliflower OR Romanesco
Italian Parsley
Napa Cabbage
Small Iceberg Lettuce
*Bonus: Ugly Basil

First of all, there is no ugly basil - it's all good especially in a pesto that will be frozen for winter use.  The pomegranate seeds will be crushed, strained and made into a salad dressing.  If you are adventurous, there are Indian cooks who make a pickle out of the bitter rinds of the pomegranate, but this is beyond my skills.  Apples will be great for snacks.  The cauliflower or romansesco makes a great sauce for pasta - check out Lidia's Italy website at (I'll be using gemelli for the pasta in this recipe).  How about an iceberg lettuce,  fennel and orange salad to perk up a meal?  Napa cabbage, chard, leeks and kohlrabi can make a great mizutaki with some thinly sliced chicken breast or thighs added along with some carrots and udon noodles.  A recipe can be found at   Lastly, the eggplant - make some baba ganoush for snacking or lunch using carrots and celery or pita bread as dippers. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Up to My Ears in Greens

Yipes, the greens are getting away from me in the fridge.  Large bunches of Russian kale, collards and turnips greens along with 2 bunches of leeks are being turned into ravioli filling.  The filling is cooling right now and I'll chop it more finely, then make the pasta for the ravs.  These should taste good with some tomato sauce made from Eatwell Farm tomatoes at one of their tomato saucing party events.

Mixed Greens filling for Ravioli

3 large bunches of greens, washed well, made into chiffinades and then sliced into 1/4 inch strips
3 large or 6 small leeks (or combination of leeks and onions) finely diced
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1/4 tsp. fresh ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. turmeric(optional)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. dried italian seasoning(mix of oregano, basil, rosemary)
3 TBSP olive oil
1 lb. of pasta dough

Make the pasta dough. A typical recipe can be found here
Allow it to rest while you make the filling.

Heat the olive oil over medium high heat, add the leeks, salt, black pepper, turmeric and nutmeg. Saute for 2-3 minutes, then add the greens.  Add the dried italian seasoning and parsley.  Saute for 6-8 minutes until the greens are thoroughly wilted, stirring occasionally.  Once cooked, allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.  Place the mixture in a food processor, and pulse several times to further chop and blend the mixture ( you don't want a smooth paste, but a rough chopped look to the greens).  If you don't have a food processor, chop by hand to achieve the same effect.  The mix should be well chopped and scoopable (if more moisture came out during the chopping, return the mix to a saute pan and heat to through to remove excess moisture). 

Rollout the pasta dough into sheets using a pasta maker or rolling pin.  Place small dollops of greens mixture on one pasta sheet, brush some egg wash or water around each dollop and cover the dollops with a second sheet, cut between the greens mixture dollops to create pasta squares.  Seal the squares with the tines of a fork pressed along the edge of each square. Place the filled squares in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with a lint free tea towel sprinkled liberally with flour.  You can freeze the raviolis for later by placing the cookie sheet with the ravs in the freezer and once frozen place the raviolis in a freezer bag for later use.  Or if using that day - cover the ravs with a tea towel and place in the fridge until ready to cook. 

To cook, fill a large pot with water, bring to a boil, add ravioli, cook until they all float to the surface, remove from the pot with a slotted spoon or spider and dress with your favorite sauce.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Curried Pumpkin and Turnip Soup

We received a wonderful small pumpkin and some turnips from Eatwell Farm this week, along with a recipe for Pumpkin and Turnip Soup in the newsletter.  I took liberties with the soup and used an olive oil instead of butter base and also substituted the cream with chicken broth I made from Soul Food Farm chicken leftovers (head, neck, wings and back).  I also added cumin and tumeric to the mix along with some dried parsley.  There was a cup or two of kabocha squash in my freezer so I added that as well.  Here's my revised recipe:

Curried Pumpkin and Turnip Soup

3 TBSP olive oil
2 cups leeks, washed well and sliced into 1/8 inch rounds
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper(optional)
2 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. salt
1 small pumpkin seeds removed, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
3-4 medium sized turnips, peeled cubed
2 cups kabocha squash, peeled and cubed
4-6 cups chicken broth

In a heavy bottom soup pot (4 or 5 quart pot), over medium heat, pour in the olive oil.  When heated, put in the leeks, garlic cloves and salt.  Stir.  Add the cumin, turmeric, cayenne pepper and stir - allow to sweat 2-3 minutes covered.  Add the dried parsley and 1/2 of the chicken broth.  Bring to a boil.  Then add the pumpkin, turnips and squash. Simmer until the squash, pumpkin and turnip cubes are soft and mashable.  Add chicken broth as needed to maintain liquid in the pot, but don't add so much that the soup will be too runny once done.  Puree the soup in a blender or with an immersion blender.  Return the soup to the pot, correct the seasonings with salt and pepper to your taste, heat through.  Serve with a green salad on the side and a slice of good bread, toasted with cheese on top.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

This week's Eatwell Farm Box - 10/26/2011

Here is what's in store for us this week from Eatwell Farm-

Green Beans
Fuji Apples
Green Tomatoes
Mixed Sweet Peppers (Banana, Bell, OR Yellow Tapered)
Baby Pumpkin
Japanese Turnips
Stir-Fry Mix

Stir fry mix and broccoli with chicken, garlic and oyster sauce - yum!  Then the fuji apples can go into a bit of apple crisp.  Leeks and escarole will form the basis of a good hearty soup when paired with some chick peas (garbanzo beans) in a chicken broth from Soul Food Farm chickens.  Fried green tomatoes - dipped in egg and cornmeal - then pan fried, yum, served with green beans and a radicchio salad.  I might try pickling the eggplant to use in an antipasto later along with the sweet peppers.  Is that baby pumpkin edible?  If so, peel, cut up and roast in the oven with garlic, balsamic vinegar and olive oil for a great side dish.  And the turnips, cut some up for the soup, make pickles from some, or just slice thinly in a salad.  So many possibilities!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Stirred Curd Cheddar Success!

We opened the stirred curd cheddar 1 lb. wheel of cheese to see how it did.  It tastes like a sharp cheddar cheese.  I can't wait to try it in some grilled cheese sandwiches. 

We had a good dinner tonight of oven baked chicken from Soul Food Farm in Vacaville, along with the first sweet potatoes of the season from Eatwell Farm and some green beans also from Eatwell.  Dessert was an apple crisp with apples from Eatwell, too.

Later in the evening I put together a whole wheat soaker and poolish for some whole wheat bread baking tomorrow.  The Fidibus 21 grain mill is awesome.  This time I ground the wheat berries on the finest setting and got some beautiful flour to use in the soaker and poolish.  The recipe I'm going to use for the whole wheat bread is from Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice.  This time I think I will reduce the white flour to just one cup and see what difference that makes. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Bread, bread and more bread!

Just pulled two loaves of pain de campagne (recipe from Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice).  I used more whole wheat flour and less white flour than was called for in the recipe, so perhaps my loaves won't have all the great big holes of artisan bread.  I have to wait a while before cutting one open to see the crumb.  They smell great.  Look good too, even if I was a little slow getting the water into the baking pan underneath the loaves to generate some steam in the baking process.  I've got to work on making that a smoother set of moves.  Once I get my camera recharged I can post some pics.

Monday, October 17, 2011

This Week's Eatwell Box - 10/19/2011

This week we have another great box of fruits and vegetables from Eatwell Farm.  They are:

Green Beans
Fuji Apples
Cherry Tomatoes
Serrano Chiles
Baby Bok Choy
Collard Greens
Sweet Potatoes
Easter Egg Radishes
Romaine Lettuce

Oh boy!  The fuji apples are great snacks or fruit for lunch. Sweet Potatoes!  Love them - just roast in the oven and eat, but maybe these will get special treatment and become sweet potato rolls - check out for the recipe.  The baby bok choy calls out - stir fry!  Romaine, radishes, cherry tomatoes and fennel are a great start to a tasty salad or two.  Of course fennel braised in white wine and broth would be a tasty side dish for a roast chicken. Eggplant makes fantastic baba ganoush roasted, or cook the roasted eggplant flesh with tomatoes, onions and garlic, puree the whole thing to make a tasty pasta sauce.  Green beans just steamed with some fish and rice makes a quick healthy meal. The serrano chilis will spice up any dish, you can slice them in half the long way, remove the seeds, freeze on a cookie sheet, then bag them up for later use.  Collards with onions and garlic sauteed in olive oil makes a great side dish for a barbequed chicken or lamb shanks and cornbread.  MMMMMMmmm the possibilities!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Hydration, hydration, hydration!

And I'm not talking about exercising!  I'm talking about bread making.  I attempted Peter Reinhart's Whole Wheat Bread today after putting together the poolish and soaker yesterday.  I tried my darnedest to keep the dough rather wet and almost but not quite sticky.  For kneading - I did some traditional kneading toward the end but mostly did French folds. Also, I cheated and used half all purpose flour in the final dough.  After rising 30 minutes I did a stretch and fold with the dough, then another 30 minute rise followed by a second stretch and fold.  A third 30 minutes and another stretch and fold.  Then finally, I divided the dough into two equal pieces, stretched them into two rectangles and allowed them to rest for about 5 minutes before finally shaping the loaves and putting them in 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch bread pans (2).  I let them rise for 60 minutes (should've been 90 but my kitchen was 80F so thought I hour should suffice.  Into the over they went at 350F for 55 minutes. They rose in the oven to a nice size (about an inch over the top of the bread pans.  I am quite happy with the results- nice light - good crumb, good crust.  Next time I'll reduce the cheater flour by 1/2 and replace with more whole wheat flour that I will also grind as fine as I can on my Fidibus 21 flour mill.    The key for me is to keep the dough just a bit wetter than I would normally do and it seems to work!  Yay!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What's in the box? 10/12/2011

So here is the list of wonderful ingredients in this week's Eatwell Farm box:

Cherry Tomatoes OR Tomatillos
Shady Lady or Roma Tomatoes
Italian Large Leaf Basil
Romaine Lettuce
Yellow Onions
Baby Leeks
Red Russian Kale
French Breakfast Radishes

I really looking forward to another arugula salad with sliced pears, toasted pine nuts and shavings of lavender ricotta salata, all tossed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  We ate that up really quickly last week.  Baby leeks - oh yeah, leek and goat cheese tart a la Alice Waters.  Radishes and tomatoes with the romaine lettuce for another great salad.  Russian Kale with sauteed yellow onions makes a great vegetable side dish for some grilled lamb chops.  The basil again will be made into pesto - I'm loving all the great pesto pizza we've been having with fresh mozzarella and fresh slices of tomato on top.  The eggplant may find it's way into a parmesan this time.  Of course the parsley will probably end up in a salad and any leftover will be dried and used in the many soups to be made this winter.  The apples will join some of their kin from a week or so ago to become the first apple crisp of the season.  Served warm with a generous dollop of yogurt--it's a great dessert. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

PAIN de Campagne

Well, I tried to hydrate the bread dough for this bread as much as I dared.  The loaves rose beautifully and I was very optimistic about the crumb (the inside of the bread) having lots of good big holes.  No such luck.  It is a very tasty bread, but not what I exactly had in mind.  I'm not sure what's the problem.  Could be I needed to let it rise some more?  I was unsure about that because the bread, when poked, left a dent. That usually means it's totally proofed.  Do I overproof it?  If so, how do I keep it from deflating when scored for baking?  I'll be trying a different recipe next time, no whole wheat flour either, just Bob's Red Mill unbleached white flour.  Got a great baguette recipe on to try.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pain de Campagne and Homemade Soup

A few days ago we made up the menus for the week and they included an all time favorite of ours, once the winter greens start showing up at the farmer's market - Grammie Soup!  It is actually a type of minestrone that my Grandma Rose would make with escarole, but we like it with a combination of 'sweet' and bitter greens.  Today's soup has mustard greens, dandelion greens and kale.  The soup lends itself to endless variations with the addition of rice, pasta, beans or small meatballs cooked right in the broth.   

Grammie Soup(makes about 2 gallons of soup!)

3 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 large bunches of greens, washed and chopped coarsely
3 leeks, rinsed well, cut into rounds about 1/8 inch thick
3 carrots, diced
1 fennel bulb, diced with green fronds chopped fine
3 ribs celery, diced
2 tsp salt
1 TBSP Fennel seeds
3 bay leaves
1 TBSP Dried Parsley or 3 TBSP fresh parsley finely chopped
2 tsp Dried Basil or 2 TBSP fresh basil finely chopped
2 tsp Dried Oregano or 2 TBSP fresh oregano finely chopped
Fresh ground black pepper

4 cups cooked beans (garbanzos, baby limas, navy beans, cannelini beans)
4 cups cooked small soup pasta like ditalini
2 cups cooked rice
1 lb. ground beef seasoned with oregano, parsley, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and bread crumbs bound together with 1 egg - make small meatballs (about 3/4 inch to 1 inch wide) and drop into the soup as it simmers

1/2 gallon chicken broth

In a large heavy bottomed 2 1/2 gallon soup pot, heat the olive oil.  Add the leeks, fennel seeds, a generous sprinkle of fresh ground black pepper and salt and saute for 4-5 minutes until the leeks are a softened.  Add the carrots, fennel, bay leaves, and celery along with the remaining herbs. Cover the pot and 'sweat' the veggies on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring once about half way thru the 10 minutes.  Add the chicken broth. Bring the broth to a boil, add the greens.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the beans, pasta, rice or small meatballs to the soup.  Simmer for 20 minutes until the meatballs are cooked thru.  Taste the soup and correct the seasonings to your liking.  Serve with a crusty bread topped with melty cheese or add some grated parmesan to the top of your soup in the bowl.  Enjoy!

To go with our soup we are going to have some fresh baked pain de campagne thanks to Peter Reinhart's recipe in the Bread Bakers Apprentice.  Bon appetit!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

What's in the box - 10/5/2011

Good things coming our way this week from Eatwell Farm:

Cherry Tomatoes
Heirloom Tomatoes
Shady Lady or Roma Tomatoes
Italian Large Leaf Basil
Summer Squash
Romaine Lettuce
Sweet Banana Peppers or Bell Peppers
Watermelon or Melon

One thing we won't have to worry about is contaminated melon!  Thank you. Eatwell Farm.  The tomatoes and eggplant will become eggplant parmesan - we ate thru all the eggplant parm I previously made.  There will be arugula salad with pears, toasted pine nuts, balsamic vinegar and oil topped with a generous shaving of lavender ricotta salata cheese.    The melon will make tasty snacks, but if it is a cantaloupe melon, I will be very tempted to treat us to some prosciutto to wrap slices.  Romaine will make a great ceasar salad with Eatwell's great pastured chicken eggs.  If the summer squashes are large, I'll stuff them.  If not, some koftas might be made up and frozen for future dinners.  The peppers will be roasted if they are bells, if not, the banana peppers make wonderful sandwiches or burittos with scrambled eggs.  The fennel is great eaten just as is, or sliced thin with oranges and onions in a fresh salad.  There are so many things to make with all this great stuff!

More Soup!

We liked the tomato soup so much last night, I decided to make some soup for the week's lunches.  I had some colorful rainbow chard on hand from Eatwell Farm along with some canned chickpeas.  Here's what I did:

Chard and Chickpea Soup

1 Medium Onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
6 cups chicken broth
1 large bunch of chard
2 14 oz. cans of chickpeas or 1 1/2 cups dry chickpeas, cooked and drained
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper, or 1/8 tsp. cayenne
2-3 TBSP olive oil
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. dried parsley

Wash the chard well. Remove leaves from the stalks and set aside.  Dice the stalks into a fine dice.  This takes some time, but adds to the flavor of the soup.  Cut the chard leaves into 1-2 inch squares.

In a heavy bottom soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic and 1 tsp. salt.  Cook and stir occasionally until the onion is softened.  Add the celery, carrots and chopped chard stalks.  Add the dried herbs, pepper and stir.  Turn the heat to low, cover the pot, and allow the mixture to 'sweat' in the pan for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the chicken broth, chard leaves and chickpeas along with 2-4 cups of water so the soup is a consistency you like (some folks like a stew more than a soup).  Heat the soup thru until chard is cooked, adjust seasoning.  Serve in bowls, sprinkle some parmesan cheese over the top and enjoy with some crusty bread on the side.

Soup Weather Coming Up!

There is an ever so slight coolness to the air, meaning autumn and winter are on the way.  One of my favorite meals as the weather cools is soup.  Last night we had a light dinner of fresh tomato soup, grilled gouda cheese sandwiches and a green salad.  Here's my recipe for tomato soup:

Fresh tomato soup

1 1/2 lbs. tomatoes, chopped into 1 1/2 inch dice
3-5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small/medium onion, diced
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. ground cumin
2-3 TBSP Olive oil
2-3 cups chicken or veggie broth
Salt and Black Pepper to taste

In a heavy bottom soup pot over medium, heat the olive oil then add the garlic and onion along with 1 tsp salt.  Stir until the onion is somewhat soft, but do not brown- be sure the garlic doesn't brown either.  Add the turmeric and cumin and stir for a couple of minutes to cook the spices (do not burn).  Add tomatoes and stir.  Cook the tomatoes for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally.  Add the chicken broth and let simmer for 10 minutes.  Turn off heat, puree the soup either with an immersion stick blender or regular blender (if using regular blender, blend in batches, filling the blender no more than half way before blending, use a tea towel to hold the top of the blender on, beware of steam coming from the top of the blender as it works).  Place the soup back on the stove and heat thru. Serve in soup bowls with a generous dollop of yogurt.  Enjoy!