Friday, January 27, 2012

Parslied Potato Salad

Potatoes love parsley. One of the simplest ways to prepare potatoes is to boil them until tender, slice, dot with butter, and spinkle on a little salt and chopped fresh parsley. Parsley's bright green color and flavor are perfect complements to the slightly sweet starchiness of potatoes.

Parslied potato salad involves just slightly more preparation than boiled potatoes with parsley and butter. You can serve this potato salad warm immediately after you mix it up; or you can let it sit in the fridge for a few hours or overnight and the flavors will meld together nicely. It'll keep for several days in the fridge, so make extra to serve with another meal later in the week.

For 4 side dish servings:

4 medium potatoes (approx 1 #)
2-3 green onions, finely chopped
2-3 T finely chopped red onion
3-4 T finely chopped celery
3-4 T finely chopped fresh parsley
juice of 1 lemon, or more to taste
A pinch of fresh lemon zest, or to taste
3 T olive oil, or more to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Place the unpeeled potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water. Add 1/2 t salt to the water, if desired. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook potatoes until just tender, about 10 minutes for medium potatoes, but cooking times will vary depending on the size of the potatoes.

2. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, you can remove the peels if you like (I prefer to keep them in their jackets). Dice the potatoes in approximately 1/3 to 1/2 inch dice. Place in a large bowl.

3. Add the chopped onions, celery, and parsley. Stir well. Add the lemon juice, zest, and olive oil. Stir to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and add a little olive oil, lemon juice, zest, salt, and/or pepper to your taste.

4. Serve warm or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Today's bounty included produce from four farms:

From Underwood Family Farms: Napa cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, Japanese turnips, fennel, celery, orange carrots, tatsoi, Hass avocados, and parsley;

From Weiser Family Farms: French fingerling potatoes, butternut squash, parsnips, and Rustic Nantes cooking carrots;

From Sage Mountain Farms: radishes, spicy salad greens mix, and green Russian kale;

From Rancho Santa Cecilia: Bacon avocados, pomelos, and Satsuma mandarins.



Friday, January 20, 2012

Two Deliciously Simple Brussels Sprouts Sides Dishes

Brussels sprouts have a delicate and slightly nutty flavor that's wonderful in many different preparations. Today's recipes, two of them, highlight Brussel sprouts' versatility. Best of all, they're both a cinch to make.

Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts

2 C Brussels sprouts
1-2 T finely chopped onion
1-2 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Trim the ends off the Brussels sprouts and remove any yellowed leaves. Compost the trimmings. Cut the sprouts in half and place in a medium bowl.

3. Add the chopped onion, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to coat.

4. Pour onto a baking sheet in a single layer and roast in a 375 degree F oven until tender and lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

Makes 2 generous side dish servings.

Mashed Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan Cheese

2 C Brussels sprouts
2 T butter
1/4 C finely grated parmesan cheese, or more to taste
salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

2. While the water is coming to a boil, trim the ends and any yellow leaves off the Brussels sprouts. Compost the trimmings.

3. When the water comes to a boil, add the Brussels sprouts and cook until fork tender, about 10 minutes.

4. Drain the Brussels sprouts. Place them in a bowl with the butter and the parmesan cheese, and mash it all together with a fork. Add a little more butter or cheese, if desired.

5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 2 generous side dish servings.

Both of these dishes would be lovely with some toasted nuts, such as walnuts or almonds.

Today's bounty included produce from five different farms:

From Underwood Family Farms: bok choy, tatsoi, romaine, rainbow chard, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, fennel, celery root, Hass avocados, and navel oranges;

From Sage Mountain Farm: collards, radishes and yellowstone carrots;

From Weiser Family Farms: Ruby Crescent potatoes and Chioggia beets;

From Rancho Santa Cecilia: Satsuma mandarins; and

From urban farmer Russel Wightman/LA Farmhands: Fuerte avocados.

And from Jill and Patrick Dempsey: lemongrass, chard and lemons



Friday, January 13, 2012

Oven Roasted Winter Vegetable Hash

Making hash is a great way to used up little odds and ends in your fridge, but it can be even better when you design a combination of complementary ingredients and flavors as in this delicious roasted winter vegetable hash.

This recipe, which combines winter squash, onions, potatoes, carrots, and parsnips, has a perfect balance of sweet and savory elements. Best of all, it's a cinch to make - just a little peeling, chopping, and roasting.

I like to cut the vegetables into relatively small dice - about 1/4 inch or smaller - but you can use larger dice if you prefer. You may have to roast the vegetables a little longer if you cut them into bigger pieces. I use a hot oven, about 425 degrees F, so the edges of the veggies get nice and browned and carmelized.

Oven Roasted Winter Vegetables

1/4 to 1/2 butternut or acorn squash
2-3 medium to large carrots
1-2 medium to large parsnips
1-2 small to medium potatoes
1/2 medium onion
1 pinch nutmeg
2 pinches ground sage
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Peel all the vegetables and cut into 1/4 inch dice. Put the diced veggies in a large bowl. You should have about 4-5 C of diced veggies. Compost the peels.

3. Add the olive oil to the veggies and stir to coat. Stir in the nutmeg, sage, salt and pepper.

4. Pour out the veggies onto a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes. Remove the sheet from the oven. Gently stir the veggies and return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through and lightly carmelized.

Serve this hash with poached eggs for brunch or supper, or as a side dish without eggs if you prefer. Try it on toast with melted cheese on top; or dress it up with hollandaise sauce for a special treat.

This week's box included bounty from six farms!

From Underwood Family Farms: butter lettuce, Japanese turnips, purple kale, rainbow chard, white cauliflower, candy beets, Pinkerton avocados, spinach, black kale, broccoli, and navel oranges;

From Weiser Family Farms: parsnips, celery root, Romanesco, and Russian Banana potatoes;

From Sage Mountain Farm: spicy salad greens, arugula, and baby carrots;

From Rancho Santa Cecilia: Satsuma mandarins;

From Drake Family Farms: Chevre;

And from urban farmer, Russell Wightman: avocados and sapote.

Plus bonus citrus from Sallie Hernandez in Eagle Rock: Meyer lemons and super juicy little oranges.



Friday, January 6, 2012

Satsuma Mandarin Marmalade

Citrus fruit is abundant right now. Trees all over the neighborhood are heavy with ripe oranges, grapefruit, lemons and limes, as well as some of the more exotic varieties such as blood oranges, Meyer lemons, kumquats, and yuzus.

Now is the perfect time to preserve the season's bright citrus flavors by making marmalade. Marmalade is usually a softly jelled spread with pieces of peel and fruit suspended in a transparent jelly.

You can make marmalade from just about any citrus fruit and your marmalade will keep in the fridge for weeks, if not months, without canning. If you can it using a hot water bath canner, you can make a shelf-stable product that will keep for at least a year, if it doesn't get eaten up before then.

Making marmalade doesn't take long. There are just three basic steps: chopping the fruit, cooking it briefly to soften the peel, and adding the sugar and cooking it until it's done. If you don't have time to do this all at once, you can spread out the work over two or even three days.

Our Satsumas make a delicious marmalade with just three ingredients: fruit, water, and sugar. Added commercial pectin is not necessary because most citrus peels, pith, membranes, and seeds are high in pectin.

When you make your own marmalade, you can choose to cut the rind thick or thin and you can opt for a slightly higher or lower fruit to jelly ratio depending on your taste. You can make flavor combinations that you might not find at your local market. You can even add dried herbs such as rosemary, lavender, or lemon verbena.

I use a basic recipe that's essentially a 1:1:1 ratio of fruit to water to sugar. There's room for a little variation, such as reducing the sugar slightly or adding a little more liquid, but reducing the sugar too much will result in a product that will not jell.

Step 1, Chopping the Fruit: I like to leave the fruit on the peel. I simply quarter the fruit lengthwise, trim the ends and a little of the membrane from the center, and slice each quarter crosswise, capturing as much of the juice as possible. Put it all in a bowl, or better yet, a large measuring cup, if you have one.

I save the ends, center membranes, and any seeds for their juice and to put into a pectin bag (pictured below), which simply involves wrapping them in cheesecloth. The pectin bag goes into the pot during the peel-softening stage.

You can separate the pulp from the peel if you like, but that adds another step - chopping the pulp; and most of the pulp gets cooked off the peel anyway. Besides, I like the look of the fruit on the peel suspended in the jelly when I get that effect.

Once the fruit is chopped, squeeze the juice out of the saved ends and membranes before wrapping them in cheesecloth.

For a nice small batch of marmalade, chop up about 3-4 C of loosely packed fruit and juice.

Step 2, Softening the Peel: I find that Satsuma mandarin peels are pretty soft to begin with, so they don't require much softening. [This is not true of all citrus. Some will require longer cooking and perhaps even an overnight soak.] Still, I cook the Satsumas in water for about 20 minutes with the pectin bag.

Measure out your loosely packed peels and juice and place in a large, wide pot. Add the same amount of water and the pectin bag. Bring to a boil and simmer softly for 20 minutes. Remove the pectin bag when it's cool enough to handle and squeeze it out into the pot before discarding it.

Step 3, Making the Marmalade: Measure out the same amount of white granulated sugar as the fruit in Step 2 (not the fruit plus the water). Add the sugar to the pot and bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat, stirring regularly to make sure it doesn't burn, until it reaches the jell point.

The jell point is about 220 degree F at sea level. You can check this with a jelly thermometer, or you can use a lower tech jell test by placing a teaspoon of the marmalade on a plate and putting in the freezer for a minute. Take the plate out of the freezer and push in one edge of the marmalade. If it wrinkles and folds, it's at the jell point.

Turn off the marmalade and pour it into glass jars with lids. Cool to room temperature before putting it in the fridge. This recipe yields approximately 3-4, 8-ounce jars.

If you'd like to can it so that it's shelf-stable, you'll need canning jars, new canning lids, rings, a jar lifter, and a pot with a lid, a rack at the bottom, and tall enough to cover the tops of the jars with at least an inch of water. You can buy a hot water bath canner that comes with a rack or you can improvise your own if you have a big enough pot.

Fill your canning pot with enough water to cover the jars and heat to nearly a boil. Wash the canning jars well. You may want to warm up the jars before pouring the hot marmalade into them, but they do not need to be pre-sterilized. You can do this by putting the jars in your canning pot filled with hot water. Also, place the lids in a separate pot of hot, but not boiling water.

When your marmalade is done. Remove the jars from the hot water and fill them to within 1/4 inch of the top with hot marmalade. Wipe the rims of the jars well. Place lids on the jars and screw on the rings until their just tightened, not too tight. Using a jar lifter, place the jars in your canner. Bring the water to a full boil and process, covered, for 10 minutes. When done, turn off the heat and uncover the pot. Allow the jars to stay in the pot for 5-10 minutes before removing them with a jar lifter. Place them on a kitchen towel and allow them to cool before labelling and storing. The marmalade may not set completely for 8-12 hours, so be patient.

Today's bounty included:

From Underwood Family Farms: White icicle radishes, red leaf lettuce, orange carrots, fennel, broccoli, bok choy, green kale, and Brussels sprouts;

From Weiser Family Farms: Watermelon radishes, parsnips, celery root, and Romanesco cauliflower;

From Sage Mountain Farm: Arugula, Russian green kale, broccoli raab, Swiss chard, and white carrots;

And from Rancho Santa Cecilia: Satsuma mandarins.