Friday, November 25, 2011

Creamed Collards

I hope everyone had a delightful Thanksgiving feasting with family and friends. I'm still in a thrall over the myriad tastes and treats that were part of my Thanksgiving meal.

My dear friend, John Barrentine, is the best non-professional cook I know. He made a collard dish that was so luxuriously delicious; when I saw collards in today's box, I knew I had to share this recipe.

Turns out, it's a recipe that appeared in this month's issue of Bon Appetit. Of course, John enhanced it a little with a few additions of his own. I'm not sure there is any higher calling for collards than this luscious and creamy dish.

1 bunch collard greens, center stems removed and cut into 1/2" strips
1/4 C cider vinegar
1 t vegetable oil
1/2 C thick-cut smoked bacon, cut into 1/3# pieces
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 leek, finely chopped
1 T + 1 t flour
1 t smoked paprika (or to taste)
3/4 C whole milk
3/4 C heavy cream
salt and pepper

1. Blanch the chopped collards in a large pot of boiling salted water with 1/4 C cider vinegar until bright green and beginning to soften, about 3-4 minutes.

2. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the chopped bacon and cook untiol crisp. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel, reserving the rendered bacon fat.

3. Remove all but 1 T bacon fat and save the rest for another use.

4. Over medium heat, add the chopped shallot and leek to the bacon fat and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.

5. Add the flour and the smoked paprika. Stir constantly for 2 minutes.

6. Whisk in the milk and cream and bring to a soft boil, whisking often.

7. Stir in the blanched greens. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until the greens are tender and the sauce thickens, about 30 minutes.

8. Season with salt and lots of pepper. Garnish with the bacon before serving.

Vegetarians may omit the bacon and use vegetable oil instead.

Today's bounty included:

From Underwood Family Farms: colored cauliflower, red leaf lettuce, orange carrots, Easter radishes, spinach, red bell pepper, celery, Satsuma tangerines, and Fuji apples;

From Sage Mountain Farms: baby Torpedo spring onions, collard greens, and acorn squash;

And from Silver Lake Farms: fresh herbs.



Friday, November 18, 2011

Spiced Butternut Squash with Apples

Thanksgiving is coming. It's next week. If you haven't already done so, it's time to start planning your Thanksgiving table. Here's a super easy and delicious alternative to candied sweet potatoes that uses two fall favorites: butternut squash and apples.

1 butternut squash
3-4 apples
1/2 C brown sugar
1 T flour
1/2 t salt, or to taste
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
4 T cold butter + extra to butter the pan

1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Butter a 2-3 qt baking dish and set aside.

2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and put them in the compost, or feed them to the chickens. Peel and slice the squash crosswise into 1/4-inch slices. Put in a large bowl

3. Cut the apples in quarters lengthwise. Remove the cores and peel. Compost the peels and cores. Cut each quarter into 3 or 4 slices lengthwise. Add to the bowl. Stir the apples and squash to evenly distribute.

4. In a separate small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, flour, salt and spices until well combined.

5. Chop the cold butter into 6-8 pieces and cut the butter into the sugar and spice mixture with a folk or pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbles.

6. Pour the peeled and sliced squash and apples into the buttered baking dish. Sprinkle the crumb mixture on top. Cover tightly with foil. Bake at 350 F for 60 minutes or until squash is tender. Remove the foil carefully as steam has built up inside and cool at least 2-3 minutes before serving.

This dish makes its own lovely sweet sauce. In fact, this dish is so sweet you might want to serve it for dessert. No kidding. Serve it hot with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream; or serve room temperature or cold with a dollop of whipped cream.

It was a wow week at the CSA. What a bounty! Today's box included:

From Underwood Family Farms: iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, purple kale, fennel, red beets, French Breakfast radishes, purple carrots, mizuna, bok choy, Napa cabbage, kohlrabi, and butternut squash;

From Sage Mountain Farm: collard greens, summer squash, arugula, winter squash, and green heirloom tomatoes;

From Weiser Family Farms: golden beets, watermelon radishes, orange carrots, German Butterball potatoes, DeCiccio broccoli, dried Dragon Tongue beans, and purple cauliflower;

From Rancho Santa Cecilia: Hass avocados and Satsuma mandarins;

And from Silver Lake Farms: bunch fresh herbs; Meyer lemons and Swiss Chard from the Dempsey's Tin House Farm.

Plus extras: Thai Guavas and some sapote. Thank you Shareholder Brian for picking and sharing from your trees.

If you're wondering what to do with kohlrabi, check out the blog post from March 19, 2010 on Minty Kohlrabi Slaw.

Enjoy! Happy Thanksgiving to All!


Purple caulis from Weiser Family Farm, and pictured below that, Shareholder Brian's Thai Guavas

Friday, November 11, 2011

Roasted Cauliflower Dip

I love cauliflower and I'm always looking for new and interesting ways to prepare it. This dip is my adaptation of a recipe I saw on the Food & Wine website. The recipe calls for slicing and roasting the cauliflower with ginger, salt and coriander. The roasted cauliflower was so delicious when I took it out of the oven, it would make a wonderful dish just like that. So if you're looking for a hot cauliflower side dish, just follow this recipe until you take the cauliflower out of the oven.

Making the dip requires just a few more steps, but you'll be rewarded with a delicious and distinctively different dip.

1 large cauliflower
3-4 T vegetable oil
2 T grated fresh ginger
1 T ground coriander
salt and pepper to taste
3-4 tahini (sesame paste)
3 T fresh-squezed lemon juice
3 T toasted sesame seeds, or to taste
1/4 C plain yogurt
finely chopped fresh cilantro to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Trim the leaves and tough stem off the cauliflower and compost them.

3. Cut the caulflower in half and cut each half into 1/2" slices. Place the sliced cauliflower in a large bowl. Toss with the oil, ginger, coriander, salt, and pepper.

4. Spread the cauliflower on a baking sheet and roast until tender and lightly browned in spots. [Stop here for a wonderful side dish.] Remove from the oven and cool slightly.

5. Transfer the cooled cauliflower to a food processor and process to a chucky puree. Add the tahini and lemon juice and process until just incorporated.

6. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Stir in the yogurt, sesame seeds, and cilantro. Adjust the salt, if necessary. Chill before serving. This dip is great with pita chips.

My New Frontier Family Farm chicken is roasting in my oven right now and the aroma is delicious. It was a beautiful bird to prepare; lovely taut skin, pretty pink color, and a very fresh smell. I simply rubbed my bird with olive oil, seasoned it with lots of salt and pepper and some smashed fresh garlic. I cut up half a lemon and stuffed it in its cavity, and I sliced half a brown onion and scatter the slices inside and outside the bird. I can't wait to eat it.

Today's bounty included:

From Underwood Family Farms: Artichokes, acorn squash, green leaf lettuce, broccoflower, cauliflower, Japanese turnips, red bell pepper, yellow carrots, and Fuyu persimmons.

From Weiser Family Farms: white carrots, beets, German Butterball potatoes, and Dragon Tongue beans.

From Sage Mountain Farm: arugula, summer squash, Red Kuri squash, spaghetti squash, and collard greens.

And from Rancho Santa Cecilia: Hachiya persimmons and Satsuma mandarins.



Friday, November 4, 2011

Green Bean Casserole

Thanksgiving is less than three weeks away; and if you're thinking about how you might make green bean casserole - that Thanksgiving staple - healthier and fresher, then today's recipe is for you.

Green bean casserole is a traditional dish on many Thanksgiving tables. It's usually made with canned or frozen string beans, cream of mushroom soup, and canned fried onions. With just a little extra effort, you can made a healthier version from scratch with all of the creamy delicious-ness of original version.

Start with the Blue Lake string beans in today's CSA box, add fresh mushrooms, make a quick cream sauce, and use fresh, sliced onions to make your own tastier and healthier fried onions. And since you're starting from scratch, you can adjust the ingredients to your taste.

Prep the Beans: Trim the string beans and cut them into bite-sized pieces if you wish. Blanch them in a pot of boiling water or steam them for about 2-3 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside.

Thinly slice fresh mushrooms and saute them in a little bit of butter or olive oil. I like to throw in some sliced shiitake mushrooms for added flavor. Covering the mushrooms while they're sauteing over low to medium heat will prevent them from sticking to the pan, as the water they exude will not evaporate. Once the mushrooms are cooked, remove the cover and cook off the liquid, or pour it off and set it aside to use in your sauce.

I'm being vague about the amounts of beans and mushrooms on purpose. I tend to go heavy on the mushrooms, but you can adjust the proportion of beans to mushrooms to suit your taste. The amount of sauce you need depends on the volume of cooked beans and mushrooms combined. For a 1 qt casserole, you'll need 4 C of cooked beans and mushrooms. For a 2 qt casserole, you'll need 8 C.

While the beans and mushrooms are cooking, make the crispy fried onions by slicing 1 large onion in quarters lengthwise, then very thinly slice each quarter crosswise. In a large skillet, heat 1-2 t olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and stir to break apart the rings. Use a skillet that's large enough for the onions to be spread thinly on the bottom or work in batches. Cook the onions until they get crispy and brown, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

You need about 2 C of white sauce for a 1 qt casserole or 4 C of white sauce for a 2 qt casserole. Make your favorite white sauce or use this simple recipe:

Melt 2 T butter over medium low heat in a small saucepan. Stir in 2 T flour, 1 T at a time, and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Whisk in 2 C hot milk, 1/2 C at a time, whisking constantly to prevent lumps and sticking. Add salt and pepper to taste. A little nutmeg is also good. Cook over medium low heat, whisking constantly until the sauce just starts to boil. Remove from the heat. Double this recipe for a 2 qt casserole.

Canned condensed milk makes a particularly creamy sauce. Whole milk is also good.

Now you can assemble the casserole: Put the beans and mushrooms in a large bowl. Pour the white sauce over them and stir to coat. Adjust the seasoning, if necessary and pour into a greased casserole dish. Spread your crispy fried onions on top and bake in a preheated 375 F degree oven for 20-30 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the top is brown. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

You can blanch and freeze the Blue Lake beans you got in today's box to use on Thanksgiving. You can prepare the different elements of this recipe the day before Thanksgiving. Defrost the beans, cook up the mushrooms, stir them together and store them in the refrigerator. Make the crispy fried onions and the white sauce. You can leave the onions in a covered container on the counter but refrigerate the white sauce. On Thanksgiving day, follow the steps in the paragraph above on assembling the casserole. You may have to cook it a little longer if all the ingredients are cold when you put it in the oven.

Today's bounty included:

From Underwood Family Farms: Tatsoi, bok choy, celery, Blue Lake beans, red leaf lettuce, fennel, French Breakfast radishes, summer squash, bi-color corn, kale, arugula, broccoli, and Cherokee tomatoes

From Weiser Family Farms: Kabocha squash, golden beets, German Butterball potatoes, and dried Dragon Tongue beans

From Rancho Santa Cecilia: Hass avocados, limes and Satsuma mandarins

From Silver Lake Farms: arugula, basil, and cilantro microgreens and thyme