cooking and preserving from my weekly CSA box

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.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Four Allium Risotto

If you've ever received garlic scapes in your CSA share, or bought any at the farmer's market, you know that they can be made into a lovely pesto. A risotto is a delicious way to use your pesto, but I thought it would be even more fun to use some of the other members of the same genus, Allium.

Four Allium Risotto:
1 small-medium sweet onion, about 1 cup, medium chop
2 shallots, diced
3 tbsp. butter
1 1/2 c. Arborio rice
4-5 cups chicken stock
1/3 c garlic scape pesto*
1 12 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 c. heavy cream
1 tablespoon chives, chopped fine
crushed red pepper

In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt butter, add onions and shallot, cook until browning begins. Add rice and cook until translucent. Adding 1 cup stock at a time, reduce to a simmer and stir constantly, until rice is nearly cooked, add tomatoes and scape pesto. The rice will be somewhat translucent with a milky white part in the middle, but not crunchy, when properly cooked. Add Parmesan and season. Stir in heavy cream, allow to cook on low 5-10 minutes. Adjust seasonings if needed and add chives.

*Recipe coming soon, I promise!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

CSA Pickup Week Chicken Soup

I started the day thinking I would just be making my normal chicken soup with carrots and barley or pasta. I had and still have a good supply of carrots but then I thought it didn't make much sense to have all these other wonderful vegetables on hand and just use carrots. When I make soup, I don't mess around. I usually make a soup big enough for those who like stuff and those who like broth to have dinner and leftovers for lunch.

For the broth:
In a stock pot, cover with water: a whole chicken, a peeled onion or two, 3 big peeled carrots, the center of your celery (you know the leafy part in the middle that you aren't going to eat) or 2-3 ribs with leaves, 2 big cloves peeled garlic, 10 peppercorns, 3-4 bay leaves, a tbsp salt, and a Parmesan rind, if you have one.

Start it on low, and gradually turn it up over the first hour to a simmer. Simmer for 2-3 hours or until your chicken is almost falling apart. Remove chicken and strain, discarding all the broth flavorings. Set aside the chicken for de-boning.

You can add any vegetables you like, you can even sautee them in a little butter first, but be sure to add them incrementally according to how fast they cook. Carrots, potatoes, root vegetables, first. They usually take 20-30 minutes longer than other vegetables to cook.

Here is my soup in order of things added, everything cut into a medium dice: Carrots, Swiss chard, including stems--cooked 25 minutes, 2 summer squash, a can of diced tomatoes, a medium onion sauteed in butter along with 2 cloves of garlic (minced), and in the last ten minutes I added some frozen green beans that I had on hand, some dried thyme from my share, 1/2 cup Israeli cous-cous and the deboned meat from the chicken. I adjusted my seasonings with salt, pepper, and some balsamic vinegar at the very end.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pound Cake with Strawberries and Whipped Cream

We picked a major load of strawberries at Rogers Spring Hill. Immediately, I spent the entire evening dreaming of wonderful thing  to make, as I stuffed every other strawberry into my mouth.
My husband suggested a pound cake with strawberries and I thought that sounded pretty good, so I looked up a recipe and decided to make a quick run to the store for a bundt cake pan. If I had to do it all again, I would have bought a different one. I've been baking a long time, I've never had a cake stick until now, even with cooking in an inexpensive pan.

For the cake, I use Elvis Presley's Favorite Pound Cake Recipe. I didn't have a chance to verify the truth of this claim and I was worried about some of the reviews saying it was bland. It wasn't bland, it was moist and tasted like a pound cake. I was a little worried about overflowing the cake pan so filled my pan about 3/4 of an inch from the top and put the remaining batter into a small loaf pan. The cake baked for me at for about 55 minutes and the small loaf was done at about 45, starting with a cold oven on 350.

I made the whipped cream in my stand mixer and garnished with berries. You don't have to buy whipping cream, heavy cream will do. In a mixer, add 2 cups whipped cream, 1/4 c powdered sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla. Whip it with a whisk attachment until it is fluffy. Make sure to watch it so that you don't accidentally make butter instead. I never measure, so this is approximate, feel free to omit the sugar, increase, or reduce it.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Summer Vegetable CSA Week 2

Week 2: Two bunches each broccoli rabe and rainbow chard, a bag of spinach, a bag of snow peas, two tomatoes, a head of romaine lettuce as well as Boston lettuce, two bunches of chives, two summer squash, and garlic scapes. I loaded all into my vegetable ark and brought it home in the pouring rain.

Now that my oven is again working, I'm hoping to have a productive week in the kitchen. Whenever we get romaine, I know we're going to have salad. I do have a few odd-ball type recipes on deck that use cooked romaine but I'm waiting for a week where I'm swimming in lettuce. I love using Boston lettuce in place of bread, so I will keep it on hand as long as possible to use as a wrap or a taco shell. if not, there is always salad. The squash, spinach, and chard are all in just the right amount for a side dish. As usual, I will chop and freeze the chives. For the broccoli rabe, I am thinking about a ricotta cheese sauce with sausage meatballs or a white lasagna. As for the scapes and the peas, I just don't know, they are both great in salads. For this week, scapes are definitely my wild card. I will either make a pesto or incorporate them into a meal in place of garlic. I'd say the biggest challenge will be using the peas before they go bad, I may have to review my notes from last year and give myself a refresher course on peas.

I'll put this question to both of my readers: What should I do with the peas? If I make your recipe, I'll post a photo and give you credit! How amazing would that be?! Almost on par with a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer giveaway, right?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Vegetable CSA Week 1

This was the first day of a twenty week vegetable CSA. This has probably been my favorite first week out of the last three years. 2 bunches of thyme, oregano, garlic chives, 2 bunches broccoli rabe, a cucumber, 2 bags of spinach, beets, 1 bunch kale, a head of Boston lettuce and a tomato that is not pictured because it is in protective custody.

Thankfully, beets will keep a long time in the fridge because I have a repairman coming sometime this week. I cannot make beet chips until he looks at my oven. That's a pretty major setback so I'm planning on doing most things on grill or stove top. The thyme will be hung and dried for another day and the oregano will be frozen in an ice cube. I'm not sure about the garlic chives yet, whether I want to make a compound butter, a pesto, or just freeze them. The lettuce will make a great bread substitute or will go for a salad, while the spinach will end up as a pesto or dip. I'm not sure about the broccoli rabe, maybe a pasta or sausage dish. We often use the cucumbers as a substitute for crackers or chips, our 4 year old loves them this way. As for the kale, I'm still not certain. I wish I could find one go-to recipe that I like for kale but until then, it continues to defeat me week after week. Kale is my biggest nemesis.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Braised Goat Chops

Last time I went to my favorite butcher, Blood Farm in Groton, MA, I saw these in the case and picked them up. I'm not an exotic food fanatic, but I am tired of chickenbeefchickenporkchicken, well I'm not really tired of beef. Cows are my favorite animals. Yes, I know about bacon, but I also know about oxtail, brisket, beef ribs and short ribs. I also know about goat. Very little before the other day, but I decided I had to learn. So picked up a package of goat shoulder chops and kept them in my freezer until I had a day to experiment. If I know one thing about meat it is that braising nearly always works when you have no clue, so that was my plan.

Braised Goat Chops:
2 chops
1 tsp garam masla
1/2 tsbp Chinese five spice powder
3-4 large carrots, peeled and sliced
1 small onion sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 cup kale
1 can diced tomatoes

Pre-heat oven to 325. Heat a cast iron skillet on high. Season chops with garam masala, five spice powder, salt and pepper. Add to skillet browning on each side. Remove from skillet and set aside. Add carrots, onions an garlic to skillet. Cook 3-5 minutes on medium-high, careful not to burn the garlic. Add the can of diced tomatoes to skillet and cook 2-3 minutes. Add kale and chops to an oven-safe dish, pour contents of pan over the chops and bake on 325 for about 1 hour 30 minutes or until tender. Serve with cous cous.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Week 12: Final Spring CSA Week

This is the last week of the my Spring CSA share. Next week is the first week of summer shares. I was so happy to see tomatoes! Even though they are greenhouse-grown, they are leaps and bounds beyond whatever is in the grocery stores right now. This week also included kale, parsley, cilantro, 2 bags of spinach, two bags of lettuce and a bag of joi choi with nasturtiums. I originally had some tatsoi but I traded it for an extra bag of lettuce in the swap box.  One bag isn't enough for my family for a week!
We had our usual Taco Salad, so as of now, we're one bag of lettuce, one tomato down and the cilantro is gone. I'm thinking of spring rolls on Friday with the joi choi, carrots, and some shrimp. The kale is going to be in a chicken, kale and carrot soup. The spinach will be a dip or spanakopita. I'll still have enough extra to make a great salad and the parsley will probably end up in a compound butter.

I'm so glad we signed up for the spring share, and I'm looking forward to my third bountiful summer share.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Tatsoi and Chicken Stir Fry

Normally, most people don't think of green in a stir fry but Asian greens, like tatsoi are perfect for a dish like this. I find tatsoi, when it is fully grown, to have stems somewhat like celery and the greens to be fairly mild. I make this for my family, if you are wondering why the portions are ginormous. I also have to use two separate skillets or cook the protein first. We don't normally eat rice so the amount of food reflects that as well.

Tatsoi and Chicken Stir Fry:

3 packages boneless thighs, cubed (about 15 thighs)
1/4 c tamari
1 tbsp ginger grated
1/4 c honey
sesame oil
olive oil

Heat pan with oils, about a tbsp of each. Add chicken and other ingredients. Stir until chicken is cooked. If a lot of water cooks out of the chicken, you can drain some of it or reserve it to thicken or thin the final sauce. I set the chicken aside once it is cooked and do the vegetable in the same pan.

Any combination of vegetables, you probably need about 1-1.5 cups per person
I used carrots, mushrooms, tatsoi, peppers, and onion
2 tbsp peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup tamari
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tbsp ginger, grated
olive oil and sesame oil

Add garlic and ginger to hot pan with oils. Cook 1-2 minutes. Add vegetables in order of how long they take to cook, I usually start with carrots, then peppers, mushrooms, and onions are usually last. Don't add greens until the end. Add other ingredients, tamari, honey, peanut butter, and tatsoi. When the last vegetable goes in, get ready to thicken the sauce and adjust the seasonings, add more honey, peanut butter, tamari to suit your tastes, even some chili paste for those who like spice. Mix 1/4 c cornstarch with a minimal amount of liquid, either water or the liquid from the chicken. Pour in pan and cook until it thickens. Sometimes I find I need more or less cornstarch, it really depends on the water content of the vegetables

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Chive Butter

Chives are amazing. They can be used many ways but compound butter for steak is definitely one of my favorites. The steak doesn't need to be fancy, just well seasoned with salt and pepper, the butter does the rest of the work.

Chive Butter:
2 sticks butter, softened
2-3 tbsp fresh chives, sliced thin
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
juice of half a lemon
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced

Mix everything up and chill. Use on bread, radishes, steak, or whatever suits you. Also, yes, the chive flower is edible but you can use it to make your butter look fancy when you serve it. They are pretty, delicious, and have a concentrated chive flavor.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Sausage and Spinach Dip

We had just come home from an evening of errands, popcorn, and ice cream. We needed something hot for a light dinner and I was thinking snack foods. I took my favorite spinach dip recipe and went from there. We ate it with peppers and some dipping chips and went to bed happy. This is a one-pot meal.

Sausage and Spinach Dip:
6 links Italian sausage, casings removed or 1 lb of loose Italian sausage
1 generous cup cooked, chopped spinach
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
crushed red pepper
3 cups shredded cheese
3 packages of cream cheese
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped

In a large oven-proof skillet, cook sausage with shallot. Drain excess oil. Chop briefly in food processor if it doesn't break apart. Before adding sausage, wilt spinach in pan. Pre-heat oven to 400. Add garlic, sausage and crushed red pepper (to taste), with spinach allow to cook 1-2 minutes. Add cream cheese a little at a time and stir. Add chives and shredded cheese. Allow cheeses to melt and combine well. Place in oven for 10 minutes on 400, serve with crudites or crackers. This makes a ton, so you might even reheat it for lunch the next day and it can most certainly be made ahead. Enjoy.