Tuesday, October 29, 2013

This week's Eatwell CSA Box 10/30/2013

Oh, boy!  Lots of good things in this week's CSA Box from Eatwell Farm.  Here's the list with explanations from Lorraine, the farmer's wife.

Lettuce: We pick the lettuce and bag it in the field. It may be dirty but it keeps so much better like this. Just take what you need out of the bag, wash it and enjoy. Members tell me the lettuce keeps up to ten days this way. Store in your crisper.

 Dino Kale: Also know as Cavelo Nero or Italian Black Cabbage. It was Sown in August this delicious and succulent crops is ready to harvest now. Store in your crisper....

 Summer Squash or Beets: We have four types of squash planted so you may get the light green Mexican, dark green regular squash, yellow squash or the round ones. Store in the fridge.

Arugula: This is delicious, a few holes are the price we pay for not even spraying with organic chemicals. Lorraine made a Blue Cheese dressing today which I am looking forward to using on arugula salad. Store in the fridge.

Green Tomatoes: A tradition at this time of the year when the crop does not ripen fast. Fried green tomatoes are a treat. You can always keep them for a couple of weeks over which time they will ripen. Keep on the counter unless they are cut or split in which case refrigerate them.

Eggplant: Some of you have yet to fall in love with this wonderful vegetable. I do read your comments and emails! This will be the last pick from this years crop. Give it one last chance. Try Lorraine’s simple recipe to my left. Store in the refrigerator.

Florence Fennel: While I was in England with my family I got to watch some telly. River Cottage is a popular food program. Hugh, the presenter, made a delicious fennel salad. Unfortunately there is not a link to this recipe on his website but Lorraine has included one of his other fennel and arugula recipes today. Enjoy.

Rosemary: A wonderful and versatile fresh herb. Store in the crisper.

Pomegranates: Great additions to salads, our lunchtime salad today included them with roasted beets and apples. These are from our good friends at Twin Girls farm. They are organically grown as is everything at Eatwell Farm. Delicious.

White Onions: Onions are difficult crop to grow organically as they do not shade out weeds at any time in their life. This year Ramon and Miguel did an amazing job keeping the crop clean with their finger weeder.

Acorn Squash: A true winter squash, nothing fancy in this one. We grow it to put in the share boxes one time because it has a following for the great flavor. It is not sweet but we all have to get over equating sweet with good. There are other flavors too.

Sweet Potatoes: Firstly please do not store these in the fridge, they love the warmth of your siting room. They will keep all winter long, unwashed at 70F. I once kept 600 lbs in a spare bedroom with underfloor heating. (It is difficult being married to a farmer.) Once you wash them they will live only two more weeks so bake them and enjoy.

Enjoy the bounty.

Enjoy the bounty we will.  I need to juice the pomegranates and make a salad dressing with it.  Yum, dino kale and more fennel - looks like another tasty salad is on its way in our house.  Fried green tomatoes with anything will be great or just as a side dish with some hot soup.  Sweet potatoes make a wonderful pie, or just oven roast and eat as is, very tasty.  Acorn squash is a favorite alongside homemade meatloaf. Summer squash will go into a tomato sauce that will then be used in Eggplant Parmesan.   More arugula and lettuce salads are in our future along with the usual bowl of hot soup now that the days are getting cooler.  Lots of good meals here for us all.  Thank you Eatwell!

A Yankee Makes Fried Green Tomatoes

We received 4 green tomatoes in our CSA box this week and not wanting to waste them, I made fried green tomatoes as part of today's lunch.  It was kind of like (forgive me) making eggplant parmesan.  Traditionally, one would use some flour and cornmeal well seasoned with salt, pepper, etc.  but the cornmeal in the cupboard looked and smelled 'iffy' (it can get rancid after a while).  So, I used some of the freshly ground whole wheat flour I usually use for breadmaking instead. 

Here's how it all came about -

Slice 4 green tomatoes into 1/2 inch rounds (yeah a little thick but you get more 'mater flavor that way), salt and pepper each slice.  In a shallow, wide bowl, crack two eggs and beat together with 1/4 cup milk. Place about 1/2 cup flour in another shallow, wide dish or bowl.  Heat 1/3 cup vegetable oil (peanut, safflower, canola - your choice).  When the oil is hot, dip the tomato slices first in egg then in flour to coat both sides and then again in the egg, both sides. Carefully slide/drop the tomato slices into the hot oil, cook until browned on one side, turn over, cook on the other side.  Then lift the slices out of the pan onto a paper towel lined rack to cool and drain.

You can eat them just as they are, or if you are feeling fancy, make a remoulade sauce or just dip pieces in a combination of mayonnaise and ketchup(lazy girl's remoulade). 

They were yummy.  We don't have fried foods too often at our house so these were a real treat!

Monday, October 28, 2013

What's cooking?

Today,  the whole chicken I froze from The Local Butcher in Berkeley finally thawed.  I parted out the whole chicken into breasts, thighs and legs for roasting and back, wings and skin for making broth(along with the attached chicken feet).  I asked Michael to give the chicken head to the compost worms as I have a hard time dealing with the chicken eye looking up at me whenever I open the pot to stir the broth (LOL).  We had oven roasted chicken with roasted potatoes and steamed green beans for lunch.  Meanwhile the chicken broth bubbled away along with 3 bay leaves,  an onion studded with 12 whole cloves, a dozen peppercorns, a roughly chopped carrot, 2 celery stalks roughly cut, and some parsley stems.   I had skimmed the chicken broth before adding the veggies so it would be clearer. 

The strained chicken broth became the base for split pea soup that was finally done just in time for dinner along with some more Insalata Trevignano.  The recipe for split pea soup can be found on the Dec. 23, 2012 listing in this blog. Nothing of that bird got wasted and I was feeling good about having a gallon or more of soup for this week's solo dinners when Michael is at work or for a quick lunch later in the week.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

This Week's Box from Eatwell Farm

Here's what Nigel and Jose are planning for our CSA boxes this week -

Baby bell peppers
Sugar pie pumpkins
Red Russian kale
Green tomatoes
Summer squash
Asian pears

Hmm, looks like some cappellacci de zucca are in my future (pillows of pasta stuffed with seasoned pumpkin puree, recipe on another post in this blog).  Lettuce and radicchio for salads along with some red russian kale.  Tomatillos and green tomatoes will go into a green salsa that I will freeze for later use in a chicken enchilada casserole.  Beets and radicchio together in a salad, perhaps.  Kohlrabi will join its friend in the vegie crisper until ready to steam and sauce up somehow - maybe a gratin?  Summer squash will get shredded and made up into some sauce with tomatoes also frozen.  Michael will love the asian pears for lunches.  Baby bell peppers stuffed with a seasoned bread dressing for a side dish with grilled lamb chops.  All sounds good to me!

Baked Penne Pasta with Mushrooms, Sausage and Tomato Sauce

I LOVE baked ziti (penne) with sausage so today was the day to make a dish.  It is certainly a staple item in any catered Italian celebration that I went to back in New England. 

You need -

1 quart tomato sauce (homemade is good, but a good store bought brand that you like will work too)
1 lb. mild Italian Sausage (use hot if you dare), bulk sausage (no casings) or remove casings by slicing each link down the middle and removing the sausage.
1 lb. mushrooms, thinly sliced
2-3 TBSP olive oil
1 lb. penne pasta
4-8 oz. mozzarella cheese (as cheesy as you want it)
Some grated parmesan if you like

Start the water for the pasta.  Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large sautee pan.  Add the sausage and brown it until all the pink is gone.  Add the mushrooms.  Saute until the mushrooms begin to wilt.  Add the tomato sauce and simmer for a few minutes.  When the pasta water is boiling, add the pasta and cook until it is al dente.  When you have added the pasta to the water, preheat the oven to 350F.  Don't overcook the pasta as the dish will cook some more in the oven.  While the pasta cooks and the sauce is simmering, oil a 13 x 9 glass casserole dish.  Grate the mozzarella cheese. 

Once the pasta is done, spoon about 1/3 of the tomato sauce into the bottom of the casserole, top with half the pasta and half the mozzarella cheese.  top with 1/3 more tomato sauce, the rest of the pasta.  Stir to combine so all the pasta is covered in sauce.  Top with the remaining sauce and mozzarella cheese, sprinkle some parmesan on top if you like.  Bake 30 minutes or so in the oven until the cheese is melty and the sauce bubbling.  Allow to cool slightly and serve with your favorite salad and some crusty Italian bread.  Yum!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

What To Do with all that Radicchio!

We received a fairly large head of radicchio in this week's Eatwell Farm box.  The question is what to do with it.  I like radicchio added to a salad with other greens but how about by itself?  I found a recipe for insalata trevigiana- a salad from the city of Trevisio that features radicchio along with fennel bulb (which also appeared in this week's CSA box).  Here's the recipe -

3 bulbs of fennel (I have one huge bulb so will go with that)
1 head radicchio
75 grams walnuts (I like pecans instead)
150 grams gorgonzola cheese (like it but I'm using the 3 year old homemade lavender ricotta salata)
Olive oil 8 TBSP (maybe go a little lighter here)
3 TBSP balsamic vinegar
3 TBSP lemon (I assume to keep the fennel from turning brown)
1 TBSP honey
25 grams Parsley
Salt and pepper

Wash the fennel, remove the hard core and slice thinly (using my V-slicer (aka Mandolin) for this)
Place in bowl.  Wash and trim the radicchio, shred, but not too finely and add to bowl.  Roughly chop the walnuts (I used toasted pecans), dice/crumble the gorgonzola and add both to the salad.  Roughly chop the parsley.  Make a dressing of the oil, lemon juice, vinegar honey and parsley.

Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.  Pour over the salad and mix.  Serve immediately.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Soup Season is Upon Us!

The weather is a little cooler here in California, not cold yet, but cooler.  I had the beginnings of a good soup in the fridge.  Fennel bulbs from Eatwell Farm along with a red kuri squash and a pumpkin that arrived in this week's box.  I also had a plethora of onions that needed to find their way into some kind of dish.  Having to make room in the freezer I took out a half gallon of frozen chicken broth, defrosted it.  Meanwhile, I seeded and halved the pumpkin and squash, liberally slathered them in olive oil and placed the halves on a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil.  Into the oven they went for 1 hour at 350F to roast until soft.  While the squashes were roasting, I set to dicing vegies - fennel bulbs, fronds and all diced, onions diced, 3 large carrots diced and a few cloves of garlic.  Once the squashes were cooked they cooled until easy to handle.  I removed the baked flesh from the skins and mashed it with a  potato masher.  Now, ready to start the soup.  2-3 TBSP of olive oil in the soup pot to which I added the onions and garlic then a generous pinch of salt, some cumin and tumeric stirring to blend.  I also added a TBSP or so of Italian seasoning.  Add the fennel, carrots and whatever other vegies you like in your soup.  Let it all sweat covered under low heat for 5-10 minutes.  Next, add the chicken broth, raise the heat and bring to a boil and add the pumpkin. Simmer at low heat for about 1 hour.  Puree the soup using either an immersion blender or a regular blender. Enjoy with a hunk of fresh baked bread - YUM! I love soup season.