Friday, January 28, 2011

Celeriac Slaw

Celeriac, also know as celery root, is a vegetable we don't see very often in our CSA box. Too bad, it's delicious and quite versatile. Don't be put off by it's homely look. It has a wonderful celery flavor and a texture that's fine cooked or raw.

A little bit of preparation is all that's required to discover its many uses. First, cut away the small celery-like stalks and leaves. You can save them for another use. They add nice flavoring to soups and stews. Or you can throw them into the compost pile or feed them to the chickens. My girls love anything that's green and leafy.

Next, remove the tough outer skin of the root. I find it's easiest to cut the root into quarters and then peel with a knife. Now you're ready to make any number of tasty treats. Try a smooth and creamy soup by chopping the root, boiling it in water or broth until soft and pureeing it until smooth. Add a little onion and/or potato to the boiling mix for a little more complexity of flavor and finish it off with a little cream.

Celeriac is great roasted, too. Cut the trimmed and peeled root into wedges, toss with a little olive oil and roast in the oven until tender on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside.

One of my favorite ways to eat celeriac is in this crunchy slaw. You can double this recipe if you like.

3 C trimmed, peeled and grated celeriac
1 C trimmed, peeled and grated carrot
2 T finely minced onion (or more to taste)
1/4 C chopped parsley
1/3 C mayonnaise
3-4 T rice vinegar
1/2 - 1 t sugar or agave syrup (optional)
1-2 t prepared hoseradish (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a bowl, toss together the grated celeriac, carrots, onion and parsley.

2. In a separate small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, rice vinegar, sugar and horseradish until well combined.

3. Pour the dressing over the slaw. Toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.

You can serve this slaw immmediately, but it's better if it's allowed to chilled for a couple of hours.

Here's what we had in our box today:

Meyer lemons from shareholder Celia - thank you Celia!!

Silver Lake Farms microgreens: arugula, mustard (pictured above) and pea shoots

Golden or candy cane beets and Russian banana potatoes from Weiser Family Farms

Bacon avocados from Rancho Santa Cecilia

From Underwood: 1 # broccoli, 1 head cauliflower, 1 bunch green kale, 1 green cabbage, 1 red leaf lettuce, bunch carrots, 2 # Navel oranges, celeriac, and celery.



Friday, January 21, 2011

Silver Lake Farms CSA Quinoa Salad

Quinoa is a delicious and nutritious grain with a slightly nutty flavor. By itself, it's a great side dish. However, you can toss it with all kinds of vegetables to make fabulous salads. This week's CSA box has just what you need to make a super tasty quinoa salad.

Start with 4-5 C of cooked quinoa, fluffed and cooled. Cook the quinoa according to the directions of the package. Like rice, quinoa approximately doubles in size when cooked.

Then take:
1 C peeled and thinly sliced carrots
3/4 C thinly sliced celery
1/2 C chopped onion
2 C chopped kale or chard

You can add these ingredients raw to the quinoa, but I like to cook them briefly, both to soften them and to bring out their flavors. To cook: Heat 1 T olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion first, cook for 1 minute. Then add the remaining ingredients. Stir to coat them with the oil. Sprinkle on a little salt and pepper, if desired. Then cover and cook until they reach the desired softness, about 1-2 minutes.

Add the vegetables to the quinoa and stir to combine. Then make the dressing:

1/2 C olive oil
1/3 C rice vinegar
juice of 1 satsuma tangerine
1/4 C finely chopped fresh parsley (or any combination of herbs that you like)
2 T finely sliced green onion
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all the dressing ingredients briskly until well-combined. You should have about 1 C of dressing. Pour as much dressing as desired over the quinoa and toss to coat. Unused dressing will keep in the refrigerator for a few days. I like to add mashed roasted shallot (or garlic) to this dressing. It deepens the flavor of the dressing. Sometimes, I add a pinch of sugar or 1/4 t agave syrup to cut the sharpness.



And here's what was in our box this afternoon:

bunch red beets or butternut squash
bunch carrots or delicata squash
Napa cabbage or rhubarb
white cauliflower or tuffy acorn squash
butter lettuce or bunch chard
1# broccoli or 1# onions
celery or cilantro + parsley
2 leeks or 1# parsnips
bunch purple kale or bunch dill
SLF mustard and radish microgreens
Russian banana spuds
1# satsuma mandarins
2 black Hass avocados

Friday, January 14, 2011

Kale and Onion Quesadillas

Pictured left is a perfectly perfect Romanesco cauliflower from our pickup today, courtesy Weiser Family Farms.

Quesadillas are one of the easiest things you can make for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I just love filling a flour tortilla with freshly scrambled eggs and grated cheese and frying it in a hot cast iron skillet (my substitute for a comal) until the tortilla is golden and slightly crisp and the cheese is oozing out the sides. Sometimes I add crisp, crumbled bacon or sauteed red onion, or mushrooms and peppers - whatever is fresh and in season.

For lunch and dinner, I usually skip the eggs and turn to savory vegetables. The combination of kale and onions is wonderful in a quesadilla. Slice the onion thinly lengthwise and saute it in a little oil until the onion is translucent. Chop the kale in thin slices and add it to the onions. Cook until soft. In the meantime, grate some jack cheese. You can use pepper jack if you'd like some spice, or try asadero cheese, which is a Mexican cheese available in most markets.

You can use flour or corn tortillas, but for this quesadilla, I prefer corn tortillas. If you have access to thicker, hand-made style tortillas, even better.

To cook the quesadillas: Heat a cast iron or heavy-duty skillet (or a comal, which is essentially a cast iron flat griddle pan) over medium-high heat. Brush the pan with a small amount of oil. Place a tortilla on the pan. Let it warm up for a moment. Then put some kale-onion mixture on the tortilla and sprinkle a generous amount (or to taste) of grated cheese on top. When the tortilla is soft, fold it over, being careful not to spill out the ingredients. Brown it on one side, then flip it over and brown it on the other. The cheese should be fully melted when the quesadilla is browned on both sides. If the tortilla is browning too quickly, then turn down the heat a bit.

You can make as many quesadillas at a time as your pan will hold. They're best served hot, but be careful to let the cheese cool down a bit before biting into it so you don't get burned.

Another wonderful addition to this basic recipe is potatoes and our Weiser Farms spuds are perfect for this dish. It's best for the potatoes to be slightly par-boiled before adding them to the skillet with the onions. And they should be diced no larger than 1/4 inch or thinly sliced. I really like seasoning them with a little smoked paprika, too. Make sure you cook the potatoes until they're nearly done before adding the kale to the pan.

Omnivores might enjoy adding some browned and crumbled sausage, too. Quesadillas offer endless possibilities for creativity so have some fun and enjoy this recipe. By the way, you can substitute chard for kale if you prefer.

A few words about cherimoyas: Don't cut into that cherimoya until it softens a bit. It should yield to slight pressure like an avocado when ripe. If you've never tasted a cherimoya, you're in for a treat. When ripe, this exotic fruit has a sweet and slightly tropical flavor. It best enjoyed sliced in half and scooped out (sans pits) or peeled, pitted and chopped in chunks. There are quite a few pits.

I like cherimoya best as is, but you can do a few things with it other than adding it to a fruit salad. Try it with yogurt and a little honey. Puree the peeled and pitted fruit and make a sorbet or use it in ice cream, add it to your favorite custard recipe, mix it into a smoothie or a cocktail, or use it as a base for a salad dressing. Slices or chunks of cherimoya can adorn a fruit tart along with other seasonal fruits.

This week's bounty included the following:

Either 1 butternut squash or a delicata and a Tuffy acorn squash
Either a bunch of yellow carrots or a bunch of red carrots
1 # parsnips
4# navel oranges or 1 cherimoya
1 bunch purple kale or 1 bunch chard
1 bunch Easter radishes or 1/2 # Jerusalem arichokes
1 red leaf lettuce or 1 bunch dandelion greens
1 bunch candy beets or a Romanesco cauliflower
lemons or herbs (cilantro and parsley)
1 # Russian banana potatoes
1 # satsuma tangerines or 2 black Hass avocados
1 # medium onions



Friday, January 7, 2011

Elizabeth is Back!

Fun first day back at CSA, meeting new shareholders, catching up. Feels good to be back. The potluck Sunday idea is a definite go. (Thanks Bruce and Rachel aka Brachel.) Lots of great feedback. We'll hold the first one at SLF. We've started getting the garden ready with Josh Marcuson of Marcuson Tree Management giving us a leg up. He is lovely, delivered big fragrant piles of fresh mulch, wood shavings like sawdust for the compost pile, and gorgeous wooden steps in the form of dozens of thick circular slices cut from the trunk of a huge pine tree that fell over in the wind in Los Feliz. The steps are going in the new berry and kiwi fruit area of the garden.

Elizabeth is back! One of my lovely flower girls. When I had a flower stand at the Silverlake Farmers' Market, Elizabeth and Sherry and I created bouquets on the fly for customers who loved my organic blooms. I miss those days. I can't wait to get back. Nearly there. We just have a lot to do at Glassell Park first. Beat's installed the irrigation valves; the Blu-Lock system that Scott Kleinrock introduced me to at the Hungtington's experimental ag station, the Ranch, is nearly all in. I just have to send soil samples off to Wallace Labs and Soil Foodweb. Then I'll take it from there. The soil is a real challenge at the new growing ground but I'm looking forward to applying the Soil Foodweb approach, and studying the results under a microscope.

It was fun having Elizabeth back, helping out at CSA. I asked Elizabeth, "what do you prefer: working with flowers or vegetables?" She said she likes both. Creating bouquets on the spot at market in front of all the customers is demanding; you have to be really good, very creative, thoughtful about everyone's needs, and very fast under pressure. Distributing vegetables at CSA pickup makes you want to linger, discuss flavors, share recipes, compare styles, TALK. Engage in group conversation.

I love CSA Fridays.

Here's what we had today:

From Underwood

head of iceberg lettuce (yeah, it's cold)
bunch of turnips
bunch of curly kale
Napa cabbage
purple or chartreuse cauli

From Rancho Santa Cecilia
tangerine satsumas

From Weiser Family Farms
mixed bunches of beets

From Silver Lake Farms
meyer lemons (which ain't much I know but the tree was dripping and these lemons are so good and what else am I going to do with so many? Rachel! When are we making lemony things?)
Microgreens will return as soon as I stop forgetting to hand shower the flats we grow them in. I turned the irrigation system off when it first started raining weeks ago. The sun came out, and I forgot about the microgreens. Plus it's cold and growth has slowed drastically on the north side of the hill where we are. All this to say: microgreens back soon!


Full Moon Chicken Salad

I've been making this chicken salad since graduate school. My roommate loved this recipe and insisted I make it at least once a month - sometimes more often. She dubbed it Full Moon Chicken Salad and the name stuck. Even though the full moon is nearly two weeks away, you can enjoy it now or during phase of the moon.

It's a great blueprint recipe. You can add or omit ingredients. Vegetarians can replace the chicken with grilled tofu, or skip it altogether. I use avocado and tangerine, especially in winter when they're in season. In summer, I add thinly sliced red bell pepper. Feel free to be creative. Thin, julienned pickled ginger gives the salad a nice tang. Thinly sliced or shredded red cabbage is another attractive addition.

Here's the basic recipe:

5-6 C finely sliced Napa Cabbage
2 C grated carrots
1 C thinly sliced green onion
1/2 C loosely packed cilantro leaves
1/2 coarsely chopped roasted peanuts
1 C tangerine segments (or supremes with the membranes removed)
1 large avocado, not overly ripe, diced**
2 C chopped or sliced grilled chicken breast
1 finely sliced serrano chili, or less to taste (optional)

Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. Then make the dressing.

**To dice an avocado: Cut it in half lengthwise. Remove (and compost) the pit. Holding one half in your hand peel side down, score the flesh lengthwise and crosswise being careful to cut to the peel, but not through the peel. Then scoop out the flesh and separate the dice. Compost the skin. Repeat with the other half.

1/2 C rice vinegar
2-4 T sesame oil (or half sesame oil and half canola oil)
2 T soy sauce
1-2 T honey or agave syrup
1 T fresh finely grated ginger
1/2 t black pepper
2-3 T sesame seeds

Whisk together all the ingredients (except sesame seeds) until well combined. Pour over the salad and toss until well coated. Season with a little salt if desired. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top and toss to mix in.

This week's CSA box included: iceberg lettuce, turnips, green kale, green or purple cauliflower, leeks, broccoli, arugula, mizuna, beets, Meyer lemons, avocados and tangerines.

Here's a bonus recipe from Rachel at Silver Lake Farms. She shared this with me when I picked up my veggies this afternoon. It sounds delicious.

Rachel's Kale and Cauliflower Salad

Wash and dry the cauliflower. Remove (and compost) the leaves. Break into florets and thinly slice the florets with a mandoline.

Wash and dry the kale. Remove (and compost) the tough stems. Chop finely.

Toss the cauliflower and kale together with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, grated parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste.

Rachel didn't give me the proportions, but you can probably figure them out. Just use whatever amounts seem good to you.



Tuesday, January 4, 2011

CSA Shares Available now !

Happy New Year !!

Shares are available now for Round 7 of our CSA program starting this coming Friday, Jan 7th. It's a 10-week program ending March 11.

If you're interested in owning a Track 1 share it means committing to picking up your produce every other Friday for 5 pickups total starting this coming Friday, Jan 7. I only have 4 Track 1 shares available so get in now! Share cost: $125.

I also have 8 Track 2 shares available. Means committing to picking up every other Friday for 5 pickups total starting Friday, Jan 14. Share cost: $125.

Pickups take place in Silver Lake near the corner of Rowena and Hyperion from 3pm to 7pm.

If you are interested, especially in Track 1, please let me know by noon on Wednesday (1/5).

If you would like to pick up every Friday for the next 10 weeks starting 1/7, this is totally do-able. Just please let me know you want Track 1 and Track 2 for a total of 10 pickups - share cost: $250. And please let me know by noon on Wednesday 1/5.

For an idea of what to expect, we post a list of the week's goodies + a recipe here. See previous entries.

Shoot me an email at if you'd like to sign up or have any questions. Please indicate which Track you'd like to be on.

Thank you!