Thursday, September 29, 2011

Winter CSA!

We just signed up for a winter CSA! Hooray!

It's been awesome to learn to eat more seasonally (and healthily! and tastily!) this summer, and I'm so excited that we'll be able to continue to do that all year long. Pigman's doesn't offer a winter-CSA option, so we signed up with Boistfort Valley Farm. Starting in November (when our Pigman's shares end), we'll get monthly boxes full of produce and other goodies. In the wintertime, Boistfort's boxes actually include produce from other local and regional farms too--as well as other locally produced treats, like bread, cheese, and coffee. Boistfort's winter CSA will take us through May, and Pigman's summer CSA should start back up in June, so we're covered! It's fun to imagine all the somewhat-unfamiliar winter veggies we'll start learning how to prepare and eat in a couple months. So stick around; the recipes will continue!

Speaking of recipes, I know I haven't been posting them as often lately. Sorry; it's just that we've liked some of them so much that we've been repeating them a lot. I really will post new ones as we try them.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Roasted Beet and Potato Borscht

We have beets and potatoes. Lots of beets and potatoes--particularly potatoes. So Steve suggested that we make a soup. I looked around and--duh--found tons of borscht recipes. I actually wasn't planning to make a borscht-type soup, but this one looked yummy, so I thought I'd try it. We're planning to continue with a winter CSA from a different farm (Pigman's doesn't do winter shares), so I'm sure we'll be getting a lot of beets. Might as well find a good borscht recipe now!

Beets, scrubbed and chopped into 1-inch cubes (I used 4 large-ish beets)
Olive oil (a couple tablespoons)
Potatoes, scrubbed and chopped into 1-inch cubes (I used roughly half as many potatoes as beets)
Shallots (I used 2 large ones), roughly chopped
Thyme (I used a couple teaspoons of dried thyme, but the original recipe called for fresh)
Coarse salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
7 c. chicken broth (I made my own using organic Better Than Bouillon chicken base)
Red wine vinegar (a couple tablespoons)
Sour cream (a few tablespoons)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the beets on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle them with a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Add the thyme. Toss to coat the beets with oil. Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven, and roast the beets for 25 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Add the potatoes and shallots to the beets. Drizzle with another tablespoon or so of olive oil, and add salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat the veggies with oil. Roast for about 20 more minutes--until the veggies are tender but not mushy. Remove from oven. If you used sprigs of fresh thyme, you can compost them now. If you used dried thyme, I wouldn't suggest trying to pick out all the flecks of thyme. I mean, go ahead if you want to. I'll check on your progress in five years. Anyway, put the chicken broth in a stock pot, and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Add the roasted veggies, and mash them somewhat with a potato masher or other kitchen gadget that can mash things (a large fork, a large spoon, an unopened jar of pickled beets that you're never going to use--you get the idea). You want to soup to be pretty chunky when you're done, so don't mash too vigorously. Add the vinegar, then taste and add more salt, pepper, and/or vinegar as desired. Garnish individual servings with sour cream.

We all liked this quite well; we will definitely be making it again. It was hearty and richly flavorful. After cooking and tasting the soup, I did make some changes to the original recipe (changes reflected above). I added a couple more cups of chicken broth, because it was acting more like a stew than a soup. (I think I used more veggies than the original recipe called for, which is why ours wasn't very soupy at first.) Also, the potatoes and shallots roasted a lot more quickly than the beets did, so they got kind of overcooked in the oven. Then they basically dissolved in the soup, which is why I changed the recipe so that the beets roast for a while before you add the potatoes and shallots. Lastly, we decided that the texture of the parsley was at odds with the rest of the soup, so I omitted that.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

CSA, Week 17

This week's share:

Candy Onion (look at the size of that thing!)
Green Beans
Sugar Snap Peas (We traded in the summer squash again. We currently have two and a half large bread-intended zucchini in our fridge--the last our plants will probably produce--and 18 loaves of zucchini bread in our freezer. We'll likely have 22 loaves before we're done. And that doesn't include the loaves we've already consumed or given away. Not that I'm complaining; we'll have nearly a loaf a week for the "lean months" of no fresh zucchini!)
Yukon Gold Potatoes
Choice of spinach or lettuce (we chose spinach)

Chicken and Bok Choy

I wanted to try cooking bok choy with something else this time. I found this recipe, which looked like a good one. But when I read it more carefully, I noticed that the directions were totally confusing. It literally would be impossible to follow them as they were written. So Steve and I put our heads together and came up with the following variation.

½ lb. boneless, skinless chicken pieces (I used thighs), thinly sliced
Shoyu/soy sauce or tamari (a couple tablespoons), divided
3/4 T. plus 1 t. cornstarch, divided
Oyster sauce (a tablespoon or so)
1 t. sugar
2 T. water
Neutral-flavored cooking oil (a few tablespoons), divided
Bok choy (1 bunch)
1/4 t. salt
2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and grated (a microplane works well for grating ginger; grate it lengthwise)
Freshly pressed garlic (a couple cloves)
Sriracha (optional)

Combine the chicken, about a tablespoon of shoyu, and ¾ T. of the cornstarch. Set aside.

Mix together the oyster sauce, sugar, water, the remaining tablespoon or so of shoyu, and the remaining 1 t. of cornstarch. Set aside.

Clean the bok choy according to my guidelines for storing and preparing vegetables. Then separate the stem sections of the bok choy from the greens. Slice the stem sections lengthwise into strips, then chop them into sections (I chop the stems into thin, inchlong pieces because of our younger eaters, but you can chop them into larger pieces if you want). Roughly chop the greens also, but keep them separate from the stems.

Heat the skillet or wok, then add a couple tablespoons of oil. Add the bok-choy stems and the salt, and stir-fry until the stems are crisp-tender. Remove from skillet/wok.

Let the skillet/wok cool somewhat (this will make the difference between cooked garlic and burnt garlic). Put the remaining couple tablespoons of oil in the skillet/wok. Add the ginger and garlic, and cook until fragrant but not burnt; the mixture should be just starting to stick to the bottom of the skillet/wok. Add the chicken slices, and stir-fry until cooked through. Add the bok choy stems and greens, and cook until the greens start to wilt. Then add the oyster-sauce mixture. Turn the heat to high, and stir to combine. Cook until mixture really starts to sizzle and the liquid reduces considerably, then remove from skillet.

Serve with Sriracha if desired.

This was really, really good--definitely something we'll make again. (Here's where we pat ourselves on the back for our resourcefulness in the face of recipe roadblocks.) The flavor of the sauce was excellent and, as a bonus, would be very transferable to other Asian stir-fry dishes. You could change the type of veggie(s) and the type of protein and still end up with a delicious meal.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Roasted Garlic Cauliflower

I harvested the last of our cauliflower this week, and this is what I made with it.

Cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets (as far as amount goes, I used 3 smallish heads of cauliflower)
Olive oil (a couple tablespoons)
Freshly pressed garlic (a few cloves)
Coarse salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Grated Parmesan (1/3 c. or so)
Chopped fresh parsley (a few tablespoons' worth)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place the cauliflower florets in a large, oven-safe dish. Add the olive oil and garlic, and toss to distribute. Add a little salt and pepper. Bake for about 12 minutes, stir, then continue baking for another 12 minutes or so. Sprinkle on the Parmesan and parsley, turn the oven control to broil, and broil for 3-5 minutes.

This was delicious. Absolutely delicious. We all loved it, but I think Annika was the biggest fan of all.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Hot and Spicy Cabbage

I haven't cooked a lot with cabbage. In fact, I've never cooked with cabbage before. But I found this site with a long list of cabbage recipes. We had this one with Ginger Chicken Stir-Fry. The original recipe called for Chinese five-spice powder, which we don't have, so I used components of it instead.

Half a head of cabbage
1 T. shoyu (a.k.a. soy sauce) or tamari
Heaping 1/4 t. cinnamon
Heaping 1/4 t. anise seed
Heaping 1/4 t. ground cloves
Heaping 1/4 t. ground ginger
1/8 t. ground white pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes (a dash or more)
Freshly ground black pepper

Before continuing, I suggest removing any remnants of the cabbage stem, like so: If you look at the cut side of the cabbage, you'll see a solid section in the center of the bottom edge. Remove it and compost it. Now we continue: Place the cabbage on a cutting board with the cut side of the cabbage down. Slice it once across the middle, from one edge to the other. Then swivel it 90 degrees and slice it into thin strips. Put the cabbage strips in a pot, and add water until the water reaches about halfway up the pile of cabbage. Add the rest of the ingredients, and stir to distribute them. Bring the cabbage mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage has cooked down considerably and is tender but not mushy.

This was decent. It wasn't spicy, and it wasn't amazingly flavorful, but it definitely had some flavor. We typically have our Ginger Chicken Stir-Fry on top of rice, but at Steve's suggestion, this time we served it on top of this instead. It worked pretty well in that role. This would be a great option for those of you who don't (or can't) eat rice.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Creamy Cilantro Potato Salad

This recipe is based on a Rachael Ray one from 365: No Repeats, but we've adjusted it to suit our potato-salad preferences.

2 1/2 lb. (give or take) russet potatoes, cubed*
Freshly pressed garlic (a couple cloves)
1/3 c. (or so) mayonnaise
Red wine vinegar (a couple tablespoons)
1/2 c. (or so) fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Put the potatoes in a pot and cover them with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add some salt to the water, lower the heat somewhat, and simmer the potatoes for 8-10 minutes, or until just tender. Drain the potatoes and spread them out in a single layer to cool quickly. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Add the cooled potatoes. Stir to combine, then taste. Add more salt, vinegar, or mayonnaise if desired.

*I used to peel the potatoes too, but I didn't last time, and the potato salad was great as usual.
We make this potato salad all the time, and it's a favorite of ours. This particular time was not my best work (a bit mushy and soupy due to not lowering the heat as well as adding too much red wine vinegar), but it was still tasty.

CSA, Week 16

In this week's share:

Berries (blackberries and strawberries; I took the above photo after we'd already eaten a lot of them)
Bok Choy
Green Beans
Red Potatoes
More Red Potatoes (We traded in our summer squash, because while we don't really need lots and lots of potatoes, we need them more than we need summer squash, as the following photo will make clear. Besides, potatoes keep well.)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Carrot Top Scramble

I found this recipe during my search for carrot-top recipes a couple months ago.
Not the best picture, I'll admit.

Olive oil (a tablespoon or so)
1/2 medium onion, chopped
Freshly pressed garlic (a few cloves)
Carrot greens from one bunch, chopped
Tomatoes (I used a few halved cherry tomatoes from our garden, but you could use another type or even boxed/canned tomatoes if necessary. Or you could substitute something else you have on hand.)
Eggs (I used 4)
Cilantro, chopped (or you could substitute another herb that you have on hand)
Freshly ground black pepper
Shredded cheese (optional)

Heat the oil in a skillet, and cook the onions in the oil for a couple minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or so. Add the carrot greens and cook for another couple minutes. Add the tomatoes, cover the skillet, and cook for a couple more minutes. Uncover the skillet and stir in the eggs until everything is well mixed and the egg is cooked. Remove the skillet from the heat, stir in the cilantro, and add salt and pepper to taste. Top with a little shredded cheese if you want.

We had this with toast.

Quite tasty--and very modifiable. You could add all sorts of different veggies and herbs.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Chicken Packets

This has become one of our standard camping dinners. But it's so delicious and easy that you shouldn't confine it to camping trips. You can use just about any veggies in it that you want. In the past, we've used a bag of frozen mixed veggies, because that's easy to bring on a camping trip, and mixed it with chopped onion and tomato. This time, I chopped up carrots, corn, green beans, summer squash, onion, and potato--all from Pigman's--ahead of time, put them in a container, and put that in the cooler. And it was just as easy to assemble the packets at the campsite as it has been in the past.

I forgot to take a picture of the final product, but you can see it a little bit in this photo--
along with a gorgeous though blurry moonrise and two gorgeous and nonblurry children.

Chicken or your choice of meat (We usually use about 4 ounces of boneless, skinless chicken breast per person, and that's plenty for us.)
Chopped veggies--your choice
Broth--a tablespoon or two per packet

Roll out a 3-foot piece of foil for each packet (I know, I know), then fold it in half to yield about 1 1/2 feet of double-thick foil. Fold up all four edges to make little walls so the broth doesn't run out while you're assembling the packet. Put the meat in the middle of the foil fortress, then add veggies, seasoning, and broth. Carefully pull in two opposing foil walls (while making sure the other two walls stay intact so the broth doesn't pour out!), and fold the edges together a couple times to make a good seal. Repeat with the other two walls. Wow. I really wish I'd taken pictures of this process, because it would be a lot easier to explain this visually. Anyway, you should end up with a neat, well-sealed little foil pouch. Repeat for the other packets. Place the packets on a grate over the campfire (or on a hot grill), and let them cook for about 10 minutes. Carefully (!!) open one foil packet and check the meat for doneness. (Seriously--be careful! There's steam in there!) Continue cooking for a while longer if necessary.

These always turn out well. Assuming you don't lose the broth, I'm not sure how you can go wrong when cooking these.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Grilled Corn on the Cob with Lime and Parmesan

We got our Pigman's CSA share on Thursday instead of Friday last week, because we were leaving on our camping trip midday on Friday. When I saw that we had corn in our share, I knew we had to cook it Thursday night, because corn on the cob has to be eaten fresh. It really has to, otherwise the sugar converts to starch and it's not worth eating.

Our friends Sarah and Nate introduced us to corn with lime and Parmesan years ago. Thanks are due to them--and to Steve for remembering the idea!

Lime juice
Parmesan (I've had it with shredded and with grated. Grated Parmesan certainly adheres better to the corn, but the general consensus in this house is that shredded tastes better.)

Remove and compost the husk and silk from each ear of corn. Wrap each ear in a paper towel. Dampen the paper towel thoroughly, then add a layer of foil around it. Don't crimp the ends of the foil, though; just fold them over gently. Place the paper-towel-and-foil-wrapped ears of corn on the hot grill, and cook them for 15-20 minutes, turning occasionally. When you're ready to eat, unwrap the ears of corn (compost the paper towels), rub them with butter, squeeze or sprinkle them with lime juice, and shake on some Parmesan. Enjoy!

Mmmmmmmmmm. Once you've eaten corn that was harvested just hours before, you'll realize what you've been missing.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Kohlrabi Hash Browns

This is another kohlrabi recipe from Urban Harvest. I made these during our camping trip this past weekend. I mixed everything up ahead of time, put it in a container in the cooler, and then cooked it at our campsite.

1 large kohlrabi bulb (or 2 small ones), peeled* and shredded
1 very small onion (or 1/2 medium onion), chopped relatively finely
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 T. bread crumbs
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
2 T. olive oil
Plain yogurt (optional)**

Squeeze the shredded kohlrabi to remove as much moisture as you reasonably can. I just picked up small handfuls and squeezed them in my fist. Combine everything except the olive oil and the yogurt, and mix well. Heat the oil in a large skillet, add the kohlrabi, fry it until golden, then flip it and fry the other side until golden. You'll notice that my photos show the hash browns slightly more golden than might reasonably be called golden. We only had one spatula on our camping trip, and there was a burger-bun emergency that required immediate spatula intervention right when the hash browns needed flipping. The responsible parties will be left mercifully unnamed.

The original recipe said to drain the hash browns on paper towels. I totally forgot to do that on our camping trip, but they didn't seem overly oily. Perhaps that's because I didn't use as much oil as the original recipe called for.

*Use a paring knife, not a vegetable peeler, to peel the kohlrabi.
**The original recipe called for plain yogurt as a topping. I'll try that next time, but we didn't use it this time.

I'm not sure how I feel about calling these hash browns. The kohlrabi is shredded and pan-fried, as with hash browns, but the end result has a much different--and even more delicious, in my opinion--flavor. This is a tasty recipe. Definitely repeatable.

The original recipe called for 2 kohlrabi bulbs, and I just assumed that meant 2 smallish ones (it usually seems to mean that), so I used one large bulb instead. While the final product was tasty, I did adjust the amounts in the ingredient list above to make the dish slightly less eggy and more hash-browny.

Friday, September 9, 2011

CSA, Week 15

This week's share:

Berry Choice (choice of blackberries, blueberries, or strawberries; we chose black and blue)
Candy Onion
Carrots (We traded in our summer squash again. We have a ridiculous amount from our own garden.)
Green Beans
Russet Potatoes

I was really excited to see corn in our share this week.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Peppermint Tea

I decided we should try making tea with the peppermint we got in our CSA share this week. I was hoping for instant gratification, so Steve found this recipe, which uses fresh peppermint leaves rather than dried.

3 c. water
Peppermint (about 20 leaves)
Honey or other sweetener, to taste (optional)

Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan. Meanwhile, crush the peppermint leaves in your hands a bit, but don't utterly destroy them. Add the leaves to the boiling water, then turn off the heat. Let the leaves steep in the hot water for a few minutes before straining the tea into mugs. Add sweetener if desired.

Tastes like peppermint tea.     :)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Rosemary (Chicken) Potato Pizza

This is a copycat recipe of a California Pizza Kitchen pizza that CPK doesn't seem to offer anymore. I haven't been to CPK in ages, and there's not one anywhere near us, but I checked online and couldn't find this pizza listed. Anyway, I've been making this from time to time since early high school.

Freshly pressed garlic (3 cloves or so)
Olive oil
Pizza crust (I used a ready-made whole-wheat crust, but you could make your own)
Dried oregano
1 medium potato, sliced into thin rounds
Freshly ground black pepper
Shredded mozzarella
Chicken breast, cooked and sliced (optional; I usually don't add it, but you can!)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spread the garlic and a little olive oil over the pizza crust. Heat a couple more tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the rosemary, oregano, and potato rounds. Cook until the potato rounds are tender and are beginning to turn a bit brown in places. Arrange the potato rounds (along with the rosemary and oregano) on the pizza crust. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover with an even layer of mozzarella, arrange the chicken on top (if using), then sprinkle with feta. Cook the pizza--on a pizza stone/pan, a cookie sheet, or directly on the oven rack--for 10-12 minutes until the cheese is melted and the feta is brown in areas.

Yum. As always.

Friday, September 2, 2011

CSA, Week 14

In this week's share:

Berry Choice (blackberries, blueberries, or strawberries; we chose black and blue)
Broccoli (we traded in our slicing cucumber, because we have some from our own garden)
Green Beans
Herb Choice (we chose peppermint)
Onions (we traded in our summer squash for a bag of onions and potatoes, because we have plenty of squash from our own garden)
Russet Potatoes

Grilled Carrots with Carrot-Green Pesto

Here's another recipe that uses the whole bunch of carrots. The creator of the original recipe chose to go very basic for her pesto, but I decided to add some of the ingredients she listed as optional. Note: I didn't measure ingredients at all. Sorry; I realize it's not very helpful for me to say, "Just add what feels right," but that's the best I can offer for this one.

Carrots (1 bunch)
Olive oil (a couple tablespoons, then about 1/2 c.??)
Carrot greens (from the aforementioned bunch), coarsely chopped after removing (and composting) the thicker stems
Garlic, coarsely chopped (a couple cloves)
Grated Parmesan (1/4 c.??)
Slivered almonds, or other tree nuts (1/4 c.??)
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Salt the water, add the carrot greens, and boil for about one minute. Drain the greens. Purée the drained greens with the garlic, Parmesan, almonds, and the remaining 1/2 c.-ish of olive oil. I used our immersible blender to purée everything, because that's the appliance we have for the task, but a food processor would certainly be quicker. Add more olive oil as needed to loosen the mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste (I forgot the pepper).

Cut the carrots lengthwise into long spears. Depending on the girth of your carrots, you may be able to simply halve them, or you may have to quarter them--or even cut them into sixths or eighths. The point is to get them fairly uniform in size and thin enough that they'll grill fairly quickly. Coat them sparingly in a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste (I forgot to do this). Grill the carrots until they have nice grill marks on all sides and are tender. As the recipe's creator mentioned, you can cook the carrots in a heavy-bottomed skillet if you don't have a grill.

Serve the grilled carrots with the pesto.

The original recipe's creator was right--the carrots do smell amazingly sweet while grilling. We all thoroughly enjoyed this dish. Steve and I both thought it was fantastic. Liam repeatedly commented on how much he loved it and how amazing the carrots tasted when they were dipped in the pesto. Annika initially ignored the pesto and even refused the tiny amount I offered her on a fork. But then she accepted the pesto-dipped piece of carrot I gave her. The next time I looked at her plate, her entire dollop of pesto was gone. She proceeded to eat all her remaining carrots, too. Despite having been fairly generous in our servings of pesto, we have a lot left over. Oh darn.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Marinated Kohlrabi and Carrots

For the past couple months, I've had several kohlrabi recipes set aside for when kohlrabi showed up in our CSA share again. So I was happy to trade in our zucchini/summer squash (of which we have plenty in our own garden) for kohlrabi this week. I made a few changes to the source recipe, which are reflected below.

2 large kohlrabi, peeled* and cut into matchsticks
3 medium carrots, cut into matchsticks
1 c. olive oil
4 T. lemon juice
4 T. red wine vinegar
2 t. sugar
2-4 T. capers, drained
1 t. dried thyme
Freshly ground black pepper

Optional step: Steam the carrots and kohlrabi for 2 minutes. Oops. I forgot this step, which is fine by me, because I liked the crunchiness of the final product. If I change anything next time I make this, I might just steam the carrots (not the kohlrabi) for a couple minutes to soften them up a little. They were a bit crunchier than the kohlrabi, and some studies suggest that briefly steaming carrots increases the bioavailability of their nutrition.

Place the veggies in a bowl or a quart jar. I suggest a jar; it will make things easier! Combine the other ingredients, and pour the mixture over the veggies. Stir well--or cover the jar and shake well. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 48 hours, stirring/shaking occasionally. Remove from the fridge a couple hours before serving. (The olive oil got weird and gunky when it got cold, and giving it time to get back to room temperature solved that problem.) Serve the veggies drained.

*Use a paring knife, not a vegetable peeler, to peel the kohlrabi.
This stuff is amazing. I couldn't stop myself from sampling generously every time I took it out of the fridge to stir it--another reason a jar would've been a better choice. I also gobbled up the portion I scooped out for the photo.