Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Market Mix-up and More Week 8

I blame the time change.  Last week we had a bit of a mishap and didn't get our share on Tuesday.  It's too dark to think!

Fortunately the Saint Stephen's indoor market, which is conveniently nearby, opened for the season on Wednesday.  I scored some crunchy Stayman apples, a fresh head of lettuce, and a dark, leafy bunch of kale.  

I needed something healthy to bring with the chicken and biscuits I delivered to Shannon (which was partially a plot to visit baby Paige), and I made them a simple salad with pistachios and feta.  

The kale was shredded and dressed to make another kale salad.  Lyndsey and I consumed it with our carbo-loading meal of chicken pesto meatballs and pasta the night before the half marathon.

Speaking of pasta, I made a new pasta dish earlier in the week with cabbage and speck (smoked prosciutto).  It was from The Splendid Table's weekly newsletter and a Mario Batali recipe, which are two extremely reliable culinary sources.  We weren't disappointed by this dish, and happily ate a few rounds of leftovers.

Adam and Darbi were gracious enough to save our share for us to pick up at the South of the James Market on Saturday.  We gave about half of it to my mother-in-law, a fellow veggie lover, since we're going out of town this weekend.  There were more delicious apples, sweet peppers, baby bok choy, two kinds of mustard greens, salad mix, a parsnip, and eggplant.  I bet none of you can guess what I chose to give away first.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

CSA Meals - Weeks 7 and 8

I don't fall for all of the pumpkin frenzy that goes on in October, though I'm not opposed to it.  I love squash and pumpkin; I just wouldn't choose them to flavor one of my daily treats if I had chocolate as an option.  

The overabundance of sweet potatoes hanging out on our bakers rack inspired me to bake outside of my comfort zone.  Jamie at Home, one of many in my collection of Jamie Oliver cookbooks, includes a recipe for Butternut Squash Muffins with a Frosty Top that I've had in the back of my mind since I saw him make them on his show. 

Sweet potatoes are close enough to butternut squash that I thought I could make the substitution work.  I used the same amount of potatoes by weight that Jamie calls for in his recipe, and steamed them for about five minutes to soften them a little before pulverizing in the food processor.  

I also cut back on the sugar (I used a scant two cups instead of 2 1/4) and used vegetable oil instead of olive oil.  The olive oil flavor would probably be a nice foil for the sweet potato, but Jamie made muffins, and I was making cupcakes, and vegetable oil just seemed more appropriate.  It made the cupcakes less orangey, which was a little surprising, but I found the color to be appealing.  They were fluffy but not too light in texture, and held up well to the icing. 

I love Jamie, but my cupcakes were not going to have a frosty, citrusy "top" like his muffins did.  The frosting I made was thick and flecked with cinnamon, and the base was cream cheese instead of sour cream.

We may or may not have dipped gingersnaps in the extra frosting after the cupcakes were gone - I tried to pile as much of it on top of the cupcakes as I could, but we still had some extra.

To counter the indulgence of the cupcakes, I made a veggie soup with the collard greens.  Until my mom made soup with collards, I didn't think they were a viable soup ingredient.  The leaves are tough, but as long as they're cooked long enough, they are delicious in soup.  

I sauteed chopped onion, carrots, and the greens in a little olive oil.  When they wilted down, I added chicken stock and a big cheese rind to the pot.  Everything simmered together, and sat overnight.  Before dinner the following evening, I added the remainder of a box of orzo and a can of white beans, and let the soup boil softly until the pasta was cooked through.  Unfortunately I forgot to photograph the finished product, but it was a hearty and pretty soup.

The roasted broccoli from earlier in the week turned out beautifully, and tasted as great as it looked.  I had it with some pasta and pesto when I was on my own for dinner one night.  

We ate the sweet peppers raw, cut into slices and dipped into hummus with the last of our homegrown cherry tomatoes.

I ate both of the Asian pears for my mid-morning snack, and I wasn't blown away by them.  The smaller one definitely had more flavor, but they were both fairly bland and it wasn't easy to get used to the texture.  I like them better than, say, eggplant, but wouldn't go out of my way to eat them again.

Our kohlrabi and turnips were neglected for over a week, so I decided to roast them with the massive sweet potato.  When I was chopping the turnips, I was surprised to see how beautiful they were inside.

I wish I could say that I liked them better than I have in the past, but I'm still not a big fan of their bitter taste.  Davy and I both preferred the sweet potato to the kohlrabi and turnips after everything was roasted.

We ate them with roasted red snapper and sauteed spinach.

I wish I could say that the subsequent meals were as healthy as that one, but the only vegetable we've eaten at home since them is sauteed broccoli rabe with leftover Belmont pizza.  Don't worry though, I'm still getting my daily (plus) dose of chocolate.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

CSA Meals - Week 6

I'm not sure how the past few weeks have been so busy and exhilarating, since we haven't gone out of town, but I don't know where the time is going.  

My efforts in Week 6 weren't so wonderful again, but I did manage to try a few new recipes.  

Since we knew we weren't getting anymore green beans, we decided to just eat them in their crunchy, raw state.  Our spicy salad mix was delicious, and it lasted longer than delicate greens in the summer normally do.  I ate it in salad form, as well as in a sophisticated sandwich that Davy made to use some of our nice salami and cheese from our antipasto night.   

The broccoli we got in our share was bright green, as you may have seen from my pictures last week, and didn't have a weird odor, like most of the broccoli I eat usually does.  We made a delicious macaroni and cheese from 101 Cookbooks, which called for broccoli-studded bread crumbs.  If you've eaten roasted broccoli, you know how sweet and nutty the florets turn after being baked on a high temperature.  That flavor definitely carried over into the casserole topping, and the incorporation of basil lifted the dish without overpowering the taste.  

I would wholeheartedly recommend this recipe to any mac and cheese lover, because it was decadent and hearty without that mild guilt that washes over me from eating an unhealthy children's food. I halved the recipe and omitted the squash for Davy, but we had the opportunity to try a more authentic replication of the recipe later in the week, and it was just as satisfying.

It's been so long since I made the food from this week that I've lost track of one of the recipes I tried with the napa cabbage.  It was basically a slaw with a warm dressing.  If I remember correctly, the dressing consisted mainly of pepper flakes, sugar, and vinegar.  The cabbage we got was absolutely beautiful, and I enjoyed this dish, but it didn't hold up well as leftovers, and was a bit too much for those who don't love spicy food.

Every once and awhile I'll notice a food trend that doesn't interest me or that, for some reason, I resist for awhile.  Raw kale fell into that category for several months.  I'm not sure what changed, although it may just have been a kale salad that was posted in the right place at the right time, and the fact that I had all of the ingredients to make it.  It may also have been that like everything we've gotten recently from Fertile Crescent Farm, the kale looked more vibrant than it does in the spring, and thus more appropriate to eat without cooking it. 

A kale salad is definitely worth trying, even if it's very simple, like the one I made.  I didn't bother with the mushrooms, and used pine nuts instead of walnuts, but I enjoyed the dressing, and the basic nature of the salad, which could be used as a base for just about anything.

I'll do my best to get a Portland post up soon, as well as a report about Week 7.  I'm still running behind because of Halloween, and a new addition to my Richmond family (Shannon's sweet baby girl!), but it's still comforting to be handed a bag of vegetables every week.


I really can't believe it's November!  The weather has been agreeable for crops, and this week we got a large share:

- sweet peppers

- apples

- broccoli rabe

- cabbage

- sweet potatoes

- spring onions

I gave eggplant to a co-worker, and the kohlrabi and turnips to Josh and Caitlin, because we still have the ones from last week.