cooking and preserving from my weekly CSA box

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cherry Bounce

Up here in the Northeast, we have a really short cherry season, it is about a week long. I had one day free to pick cherries so I rushed out the door and picked a flat. It came out to a little over two pounds each of sour cherries, red cherries, and yellow cherries. With all the other fruits and vegetables in my kitchen, plus a birthday party going on, and a toddler bent on destruction, the only safe place to keep the cherries was on top of the washing machine.

With the sour cherries I decided to make Cherry Bounce. I put a little over a pound in each jar, un-pitted, and added 1 cup of sugar. I let it sit for about 20 minutes while I worked on the jams that I made with the other cherries. I added 6 cups of bourbon in one jar and 6 cups vodka in another. I really wasn't sure which one would be better, so I thought why not do two batches. I stirred the cherries and sugar to dissolve and a swished the jars once a day for a week. Now they are sitting in my basement, where I will shake them once a month or so. They will be ready just in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I will have an update and review then, so look forward to reading it, and if you are well-liked or worth bribing, expect a nice gift from me this Christmas.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Brown Butter and Pesto Pasta

This is an incredibly simple recipe but one that I find myself making when I am in a hurry.

1 lb spaghetti, cooked
1/2 cup pesto (recipe below)
1 stick butter
1/2 cup ricotta
your favorite cheese for grating, Parmesan, Romano,etc.

Boil pasta, allow to drain over sink in colander. Meanwhile, melt and cook butter over medium heat in pasta pot until it foams and begins to brown. Don't burn it! Switch off heat, and stir in pesto and ricotta, add pasta. Serve with your favorite grating cheese and maybe some crushed red pepper.

When I make pesto, I put a bunch of basil, and about 3-4 ounces of Parmesan, cubed, in the food processor with about 2/3 cup pine nuts. I add salt and pepper, plus olive oil as I pulse. I freeze it in portions in a cupcake tin and use as needed.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Summer Vegetable CSA Week 6 -- Fruit CSA Week 1

Week 6 was a beautiful week for weather and vegetables. We received basil, green leaf lettuce, mint, 3 green onions, 2 bunches of radishes, 8 cucumbers, 6 squash, 2 swiss chard, 4 ears of corn, a missing pint of grape tomatoes, and two bunches of carrots.

The fruit share contained 2 pints of blueberries and a 1/2 pint of raspberries.

I'm still catching up on life after the breakage of our stove, the internet constantly dying for no reason, and my beautiful dear child dumping a drink on my laptop. I've also had lovely weather to distract me, but I've also been busy preserving and making jam.

Most of these things are long gone, I can tell you what I made:
Blueberries were went into a salad and a few jars of small batch jam.
Raspberries were frozen for future misdeeds.
The basil made sauce, meatballs, and bruschetta.
Green onions were frozen and used in bruschetta along with tomatoes.
Lettuce, cucumbers, and radishes were for salad.
Other cukes are being made into pickles.
I roasted most of the squash for lasagna or side dishes.
Swiss chard was a side dish.
The corn was used in my First Time Grilling Corn Ever.
The carrots last forever, so they are stored in my fridge.

That's what happens to a week's worth of vegetables! It is kind of neat to look back and say how everything was used and to see how little waste we made, I think it was a successful week in the kitchen.

Beginning of Summer White Lasagna

I love this lasagna, it is a change of pace from traditional lasagna. It is so flexible that it tastes great with almost every kind of vegetable. It has a lot of small steps, but it is well worth the time.This recipe makes a 9x12 pan.

4 chicken breasts, roasted in olive oil, salt and pepper, chopped
1-1.5 cups broccoli rabe, blanched and chopped
1-2 cups zucchini or summer squash, sliced, roasted in olive oil, salt and pepper
2 cups ricotta
9 lasagna noodles, boiled
2.5-3 cups shredded mozzarella
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup flour
1.5 cups milk or half and half
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 cup white wine
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare chicken, vegetables, and pasta. Make the sauce in a sauce pan, starting with the butter and onion on medium heat. Sweat the onions, and add the flour to make a roux. Add the milk and the wine, whisking to combine and thicken. Set aside. In the pan, layer a bit of sauce, noodles, a little mozzarella, and vegetables. Add another layer with a little sauce, chicken, and ricotta. Add the top layer of noodles (each layer has 3 long noodles that fit in perfectly in the pan), pour the remaining sauce over the top and the remainder of the mozzarella. Bake at 325 for about 30 minutes, covered, remove the cover during the last 20 minutes or so of baking to brown the top.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Summer Vegetable CSA Week 5

Week 5: 2 Kohlrabi, 2 beets, fennel, 8 assorted squash, 2 basil bunches, arugula, peas, 2 bunches radishes, 6 pickling cucumbers, scapes and lettuce. I'm planning on baking with the zucchini and roasting what I don't use as a side dish. The arugula will become pesto as well. The beets are already chips. Kohlrabi isn't my favorite vegetable but I was thinking I might make a cheese sauce and serve it as a side dish, since it tastes somewhat like broccoli. I am hoping to make and can some relish this week with the cucumbers. Here is where the season really begins to pick up and I dedicate a lot of time to preserving, which is always appreciated in the late fall and winter.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Summer Vegetable CSA Week 4

This week we had a new vegetable, a big leafy green bunch of escarole. I can't remember if I've ever taken escarole in the past three years or if I've ever received it in my share. Anyways, it made a lovely Italian wedding soup. We also got beets, which I always make into chips, green onions, basil, sugar snap peas, fennel, scapes, red and green lettuce, and various squash. I was sure to pick up some pine nuts and I've made a ton of pesto to freeze, though I am certain it will probably not last past Christmas. Again, the food has been flying out of the kitchen but I've been so busy, with internet problems, stove problems, and any other problems that can be problemed, all I want to do is eat, otherwise I'd have more pictures an recipes. The beginning of July is always insanely busy, better to be busy before fruit season though!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Summer Vegetable CSA Week 3

Week three brought us more sugar snap peas, kousa and summer squash, beets, swiss chard, chives, lettuce, radishes, scapes and broccoli rabe. My favorite thing to do with the sugar snap peas is to put them in salads but I also love to just wash them and take them with us as a portable snack. The squash was roasted and along with the broccoli rabe, it made a great lasagna. The scapes were made into pesto and the chives packed away for another day. It really amazes me how quickly everything goes. I never have a lot of kitchen waste but I think this has been my best year yet.