Thursday, August 27, 2009

CSA This week

It's hard to believe we are coming to the end of our CSA! We didn't do the full summer and fall, so our last pickup is going to be on September 16th! Crazy!

This week:

1/2 dozen eggs
a whole lot of potatoes
2 eggplants
yellow mini tomatoes
12 or so heirloom tomatoes
chinese long beans (anyone know what these are? How to cook them?)

The eggplants and many of the tomatoes have already become more caponata. I made about 2 quarts and gave some away to a friend today. We have so many potatoes it's hard to remember to cook them all the time. Today I made some cheesy potatoes to have with dinner and they were kind of a hit. The blackberries were, as usual, fabulous.

Our farmer's market goes until November, so after our share ends we'll still be buying locally grown produce, just from the market instead of from our share. It would have been an extra $100 for our share to include four weeks of autumn veggies, and I think we figured we wouldn't spend that much in that amount of time on things like squash. We'll track our spending though, and see if we do, and if we do, we may opt to take the extra weeks next year. Meanwhile, I'll be sad when it is no longer part of our ritual to go to the farm every Wednesday to get our veggies.

Here's a quickie salad that tasted way better than it probably ought to have tasted. Don't ask me why I thought to do this, but it seemed like a good idea and it was very tasty.

some greens (mostly romaine)
top with blackberries
add some crumbled goat cheese (I used Cherry Glen Monocacy Silver)
drizzle with ranch dressing
drizzle with a little bit of Big Fig Jam from The Crackpot Gourmet
Eat and wonder why it tastes so good.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pasta Sauce Recipe--of sorts

In my last post I talked about making pasta sauce.

This isn't really so much a recipe as a "what I did and you can do something like it too." Really, pasta sauce isn't so specific a practice that you need to have a full-on recipe. Just a good sense of what you like.

We started with 25 lbs of tomato seconds from our farm share. The night before the Big Cook, we peeled, seeded, and either chopped or pureed the tomatoes. I chopped about a little less than 1/4 of the tomatoes, then refrigerated everything. (We really had to process them that night as they were very ripe and we didn't want anything to start spoiling.)

The next day (during nap time) I headed to the supermarket for more ingredients. We decided to NOT make meat sauce, as this was going to be our base pasta sauce for several months to come, and we might want to use it with some meatless or chicken dishes.

I came home and started on the cooking. I had a 3 gallon pot which turned out to not be big enough, so if you do this you might want to start with 2 pots and split everything (this may also let you do a meat and a meatless batch)

Chopped up 2 very large onions and minced a head of garlic. Started these in olive oil and added fresh chopped basil, oregano, and flat leaf parsley, as well as salt and pepper. When the onions were soft I added the tomatoes, at which point I realized I had forgotten the 4 boxes of mushrooms that I had purchased.

So I sauteed the mushrooms in olive oil and added them to the sauce. It was fine. But don't be like me. Do the mushrooms with the onions and garlic and you'll be less likely to get splattered with hot oil like I did (I'm ok).

From here I added sugar to the mix and also realized that we needed to split into 2 pots or else the mushrooms would displace enough sauce that we'd overflow. So I got my 2nd largest pot and transferred about 3 quarts of sauce. Note that the sauce in the smaller pot ended up getting thicker than the sauce in the big pot. Not a big deal either, but you might want to re-mix them back together if you want consistent packs of sauce.

From here we just let everything cook, then tasted and adjusted seasonings (I did end up adding a little garlic powder to the bigger pot but not to the smaller one). I also added 3 small cans of tomato paste to the big pot and 1 to the smaller pot, which gave it a bit of a richer flavor. These cooked for several hours, and we actually cooked the bigger pot for longer to get it to thicken more.

When all was done, we had dinner, then went to packaging. We do not do canning, but we do do freezing, so we split out the sauce into quart sized containers to cool. When they were cool enough to freeze, we transferred the sauce into quart sized ziploc bags, pressed out the extra air, and froze flat. We kept one quart in the refrigerator to use this week and had six quarts in the freezer.

All in all, it worked pretty well. The hardest part truly was the peeling/seeding/pureeing (would have been nicer to have a better food processor) and the rest I was able to do during baby naptimes. This is a nice basic sauce that can be adjusted when used to become spicier, sweeter, etc. for different recipes.

I like how much stuff came from our CSA--the tomatoes, onions, garlic, and basil were all from our CSA and the other herbs were fresh herbs from the supermarket. The mushrooms were from the supermarket too.

Now, do I freeze peaches next week?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I'm making pasta sauce

I really don't have a recipe to share. But we're making pasta sauce. Suffice to say we started with 25 lbs of tomatoes, a bunch of onions and garlic, fresh basil, parsley, and oregano, and 4 boxes of mushrooms. We just went from there.

(My CSA had tomato seconds on sale for $20 for a 25 lb box. We could not pass this up. Adam and I did the peeling/seeding/pureeing late last night when both kiddos were asleep, and I did the cooking during naptime today. One large and one giant pot are on the stove cooking away. My house smells awesome.)

I anticipate we will have much sauce to last us through much of the fall and winter.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

CSA Pickup, plus Caponata

I decided to make Caponata, because I had an eggplant and more tomatoes than you can shake a stick at. I had never made it before so I went online, looked at many recipes, and then did my own thing based on what I remembered from Caponata of my Childhood (tm)

It was fabulous.

1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced fairly small (too big and this will get oily)
3 medium sized tomatoes (I used mixed heirloom), diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 T capers, drained
10 (or more) black olives, pitted and chopped well
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T Italian Seasoning
about 2 T chopped fresh basil
pepper to taste
olive oil

Start with your burner on high. Pour olive oil into a saute pan until it covers the bottom of the pan. It may look like a lot but the eggplant is going to soak it up. Use really good olive oil because of this. When the oil is hot, add the eggplant and stir until all of the eggplant is coated. If you have to add more olive oil, do so. Turn down to medium-high and allow eggplant to cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the onions, garlic, italian seasoning, and basil and cook until onions are soft and beginning to get clear. Add the olives, capers, and tomatoes, and pepper. Stir well and allow to cook until tomatoes start to fall apart.

This is intended to be eaten cold with or without bread, but if you care to, you can also toss some with some pasta and eat it hot, then chill the rest.

Today we picked up our farm share. We did really well yet again!

10 tomatoes
1 box blackberries
1 box figs
4 ears corn
2 yellow squash
1 bunch of some kind of greens. I think these are sweet potato greens.
some kind of herb--maybe thyme?
1/2 dozen eggs
salsa kit
sweet peppers


Monday, August 17, 2009

Breakfast Experiment: Baked Peach French Toast

My friend Heather brought over a giant dinner the other night (thank you Heather!) and included with it was this awesome bread. It was crusty like a french bread but the inside was eggy and it was so so yummy. Adam immediately thought, "hey French Toast!" for the leftovers, and I suddenly had this memory of a baked French Toast with peaches that I had had at a bed & breakfast in Cape Charles probably about 10 years ago. Obviously it stuck with me! So I made something up! Of course, I just dragged this recipe out of my ear so I have no real proportions. Next time I'll figure out how much of everything I used!

Baked Peach French Toast
a 9x13 baking dish, greased on the bottom
Enough bread to cover the bottom of the baking dish. Use a bread like french or some kind of eggy bread, cut into about 1/2 to 2/3 of an inch slices
1 very large peach, or 2 small peaches, peeled and sliced very thinly
2 eggs
an equal volume of milk to the egg volume
1 t of vanilla
1/8 c (or thereabouts) of sugar
a sprinkle of cinnamon
powdered sugar

The night before, Line the bottom of the greased baking dish with bread slices. Cover bread with peach slices.

In a separate bowl, combine eggs, milk, vanilla, sugar, and cinnamon and whisk well. Pour evenly over the bread and peaches. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake covered for 30 minutes, then uncovered for 10 minutes. Serve with sifted powdered sugar. 

Serves 3 people unless you're really hungry, and then it serves 2.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

CSA Pickup--Tomatoed again!

Have I mentioned it's tomato season here?

This week our CSA decided that instead of packing up our tomatoes for us, they would leave out a selection and tell you how many to take, with the caveat that this week it's ok to be greedy and take more. My husband did the pickup and came back with 10 heirloom tomatoes, plus a box of cherry tomatoes that was in our share already and a salsa kit, which is just what it sounds like--take all ingredients from the salsa kit, put in a food processor, and add salt, vinegar, and anything else you want to add (I added a bit of sugar).

I haven't actually looked at everything we got but I'm pretty sure it included:

10 heirloom tomatoes
1 box of cherry tomatoes
1 salsa kit (it had several tomatoes, 3 small tomatillos, garlic, onion, and 2 kinds of peppers)
a giant box of blackberries
2 small heads of garlic
4 ears of corn
a whole lot of potatoes
onions (not sure how many but my son announced that we had onions!)
1/2 dozen eggs
1 medium sized eggplant
handful of basil (they have a box of "take if you want" stuff and the basil came from there. I asked Adam to get me some so that I can use it with the tomatoes and onion)

Not sure if I missed anything. I already made the salsa and it is fantastic. I'm going to try to contain myself and not make more tomato corn soup because I do know how much my son loves corn on the cob. I guess I can always get him more corn at the market.

I am considering what to do with the eggplant. The volume of tomatoes that we have suggests Caponata, but I know most of my friends would suggest Dusted Eggplant instead (and I do have fresh garlic to go with it). I'll have to think on that one.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Fresh Corn & Tomato Soup, Now With a Kick!

I have been making Fresh Corn and Tomato Soup for YEARS. I mean, so many years that the recipe is actually on my old web site here. But I rarely look at the recipe anymore, and I've found that it has evolved significantly and can use a revisiting.

Yesterday morning I was at the Reston Farmer's Market and talking to The Jam Lady from Crackpot Gourmet. She has recently added a bunch of spice mixes to her inventory, so she is now the Jam and Spice Lady. Anyway, we were talking about cooking and what's in season, and I lamented that there is NO cilantro anywhere this year, because the weather is so hot and muggy that it's all wilting. I was specifically sad because this is one of the few weeks when there are tomatoes and corn and cilantro (usually) and they are all peaking at the same time and therefore make the BEST fresh corn and tomato soup EVER! 

Anyway, she agreed. And then she pointed out that she had a spice mix that used a lot of cilantro--her cilantro jalapeno salsa verde. We gave it a taste and decided that it would be the perfect replacement, to both give the soup a cilantro glow but also to give it a bit of a kick!

So here it is. The revised revised and revised again version of Fresh Corn & Tomato Soup, originally from Laurel's Kitchen but now a new and kicky thing! Of course, if you want to make this, try making your own spice mix with cilantro, jalapenos, lime juice, some garlic, salt, sugar, and oil to hold it all together. Or just do the original version, and chop cilantro to mix in at the very end!

Fresh Corn & Tomato Soup, Now with a Kick!
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed
2 T Smart Balance
5 ears of corn
5-7 mixed heirloom tomatoes (think 6 medium and go from there)
1 box of vegetable broth
1/2 - 1 t salt

Cilantro-Jalapeno Salsa Verde (for mixing in at the end)

Saute onion, celery, and garlic in Smart Balance until tender. Strip the corn from the cobs, and chop tomatoes coarsely. Add corn, tomatoes, broth, and salt to the sauteed vegetables, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook covered for 1/2 hour. 

Ladle into bowls and top with a dollop of the salsa to be stirred in. Or, stir in cilantro leaves, and it's ready to serve.

Egg Pie

Not really a quiche, not really a frittata, this Egg Pie is something in between. Again, a CSA/Market recipe. 

The general consensus was OMGWTFOmnomnom. In those words exactly :)

Vegetable Egg Pie
1 summer squash (zucchini-like)
1 small onion
6 or so fingerling potatoes (I used the largest fingerlings I had)
4 eggs
splash of milk
handful of shredded parmasean cheese
2 T garlic curl pesto
Some Jane's Krazy Mixed-Up Salt 

As usual, you can replace the garlic curls with your seasoning paste/spice mix of choice. Also, Krazy Salt can be replaced with your favorite seasoned salt, of course.

Slice potatoes length-wise into very thin slices--about 4-6 per potato. Microwave on high for about 3 minutes. 

While they are microwaving and cooling, slice zucchini and onion into very thin slices and saute in cooking spray. 

Mix eggs, milk, garlic curl pesto, cheese, and Krazy Salt in a bowl and whisk well. 

Line a 9" (or whatever you have) greased (with cooking spray) pie plate with the potatoes, covering the bottom and coming up the sides as much as you can. Add the sauteed vegetables and spread evenly over the potatoes. Pour egg mixture over all and pat down any cheese that tries to stick up.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 1/2 hour or until the top begins to brown and the egg is completely set.

Slice and eat. Serves about 3 people (increase number of eggs and cooking time to feed more!)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Leftover Chicken

The other day my husband was on his way home from class, and asked if he should pick up dinner. I suggested a Safeway roasted chicken, and then made some side dishes from our farm share food.

Of course, with a family of 3, we always end up with leftover chicken, usually dark meat. So what to do with it? Since we are in a state of needing quick meals, the answer was either soup or salad, but who makes dark meat chicken salad? 

Well, after making THIS dark meat chicken salad, I think the answer is "us."

So here you go, Leftover Chicken Salad (the dark meat version)

Dark meat pulled from leftover roasted chicken
1 T romesco sauce bought from the Crackpot Gourmet 
2 small ribs celery, chopped finely
2 shallots, diced
mayonnaise to taste
salt to taste
small amount of fresh parsley

Chop chicken, parsley, celery, and shallots together, and mix in sauce, mayo, and salt. Serve on very good bread with a slice of heirloom tomato, and say YUM a lot.

Coming soon: Fresh Corn and Tomato Soup. Now with a kick!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

CSA Week I lost Track! But OMG TOMATOES!

We have been Tomatoed! Here was our haul this week. There was so much food!

A BAG of mixed heirloom tomatoes
a BOX of Italian tomatoes
1 bunch of rainbow swiss chard
3 onions
1 quart of blackberries
2 small eggplants
4 small summer squash (green)
2 long cucumbers
1/2 dozen eggs
1 big bunch of some kind of very lemony smelling herb (they say this is thai basil but I think it is more like Thai Lemon Basil).
4 ears of corn
1 bag of pole beans 
1 bunch of parsley

I have no idea what to do with pole beans.

But it looks like this is the week to make Tomato and Corn Soup. It generally calls for cilantro, but no one locally has any because apparently it is too hot to grow right now. Very sad as I like to get as many of my ingredients locally as possible. I might just make it with parsley instead. I learned my lesson about making it with basil last year--it tasted more like pasta sauce than soup! 

Speaking of sauce, I might just have to make some pasta sauce, too. Because I really have no idea what to do with all of these tomatoes. We still have 5 left over from last week! I also think we will have to make the swiss chard pies again, because they have been a hit all around. They reheat out of the freezer really well, and 2 pies seem to make a good lunch (I might just make them bigger this time and then one pie will make a lunch!)

So, any suggestions for what to do with pole beans? And any good recipes that use Thai Lemon Basil?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

To start off, here is a great article by Michael Pollan called "Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch" that is very very long but worth the read. I, too, remember when cooking shows were about teaching you how to cook. Pollan never writes anything short, but if you have an hour for reading a good article about cooking and eating and the evolution of the modern cooking show, take a look at it.

Meanwhile, summer chugs along and Fairytale Eggplant season has arrived. If you have never seen Fairytale eggplant, go do a google image search to see the wee cuteness of them! They are itty bitty and are striped white and purple and are delicious for eating. 

Our favorite way to make Fairytale Eggplant is sliced in half lengthwise and simply grilled with olive oil, a little salt and pepper, and some Italian seasoning. If you don't mind turning on the oven, you can also broil it this way and sprinkle with some parmasean cheese for a fabulous side dish. 

Fairytale Eggplant just says summer to me.

Even if you don't like eggplant, this is a completely different flavor. Grilling it gives these eggplant a creamy texture, and the skin is thin enough to eat and has no bitter taste like the skin of your everyday regular giant purple eggplant. I highly suggest you give it a try while they are in season!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Swiss Chard Pastries and Garlic Curl Pesto

One of the things I missed most while on bed rest was the ability to cook! With all of the awesome vegetables coming in every week, I was disappointed that so many recipes never got made. 

One of those was a recipe for "Swiss Chard Empanadas" that came in our CSA's newsletter. I was really excited to try to make them, but they seemed kind of labor intensive. Yesterday, though, with the baby asleep and about an hour on my hands, I went to work. I didn't actually use the recipe in the newsletter but kind of put my own spin on it.

Swiss Chard Pastries
1 package refrigerated pie crusts (2 to a pack)
1 bunch swiss chard, separated into leaves and stems
1 onion
3 T garlic curl pesto (recipe below)
2 T Harissa (pre-made--I got mine at the Reston Farmer's Market but it is available elsewhere)
cooking spray
sprinkle of salt
1/4 cup (give or take) of grated parmesean cheese

Clean the swiss chard really well. Dice onions and chop the chard stems. Break the chard leaves into small pieces. Saute onion and chard stems in some cooking spray with a small amount of salt. When the onion begins to soften, add the chard leaves. When they start to wilt, add the garlic curl pesto and Harissa and mix well. Continue cooking until all of the leaves are wilted down and cooked. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 

Remove from refrigerator and add the cheese.

Take your 2 pie crusts and cut them into 6 even pieces each (12 total). Fill pastries by placing a spoon full of mix onto each crust, folding them over, and crimping them shut. Bake on a stone or cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until they begin to brown.

These are delicious hot or at room temperature (as we discovered when I was putting them away and broke one and decided to just eat it).  If you don't have the energy or materials to make garlic curl pesto, just add some ground almonds and pressed garlic to the mix. 

Garlic Curl Pesto
This one is straight from the farm newsletter, with a small change

1 bunch of garlic curls (also called scapes)
1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup parmesean cheese

Process in a food processor. Use as a topping on pasta, as a spread for garlic bread, or in recipes.