Friday, June 29, 2012

Raw Beet Salad

Most beet recipes call for the beets to be cooked in some fashion.  And roasted beets are among the most delicious vegetable treats.  I like to keep a few roasted beets in the fridge so that I can make a beet salad anytime.  However, raw beets make a very tasty salad as well, in a fraction of the time.  Just peel and grate the beets, mix up a quick dressing, and toss.

This beautiful salad can be eaten immediately after it's made, or you can make it a day or two ahead and allow the beets to soak up some of the flavorful citrus dressing.  Either way, this great summer salad is perfect for a picnic or a barbeque.

2C grated beets*
1T minced green shallots or red onion
2 T fresh-squeezed lemon juice
2 T fresh-squeezed orange juice
2 T olive oil
2 t honey
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Mix the grated beets and shallot or onion in a medium bowl.

2.  In a separate small bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients until well combined.

3.  Pour the dressing over the grated beets and shallots and toss to coat evenly.  Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

*The easiest way to grate beets is in a food processor fitted with the grating blade, but it's almost as easy to grate beets using a hand grater, and there's less clean-up with the hand grater.

You can substitute 1C grated carrots for 1C grated beets if you prefer.  And you can double or halve this recipe if you would like to make more or less.

Today's bounty included:

From Jaime Organics:  Yellow and green hot-house peppers, cilantro, and dill;

From JR Organics:  Red leaf lettuce, arugula, and chard;

From Sage Mountain Farm:  Shiraz beets, 8-ball squash, kale, and purple scallions;

From Sweet Tree Farms:  Yellow peaches and white nectarines; and

From Weiser Family Farms:  Charentais melon and spring french shallots.

Happy 4th of July!


Friday, June 22, 2012

Cherry Brandy

I had long-standing plans to go cherry picking in the Leona Valley last Wednesday, so I didn't join the Silver Lake Farms group on Thursday.  Turns out it was an early season this year due to early heat in the valley.  Many places were already closed for the year; and at the places that remained open, many trees were picked clean.  We got plenty of cherries, though, three varieties, too:  Bing, Queen Anne, and Montmorency.

I'm planning to preserve my bounty by drying cherries, making cherry preserves, and putting up some cherry brandy.  Making cherry brandy is super easy, but it has to steep and then age for several months.  Think of it as a holiday project, as it makes a lovely gift.  Or make it for yourself to enjoy when the weather turns cool again.

The recipe below is for 1 pound of cherries, but you can make half or double it.

1 lb fresh cherries with pits
1 C granulated sugar
1 C brandy
1 C vodka

1.  Wash, dry and cut open the cherries to expose the pit, but do not pit them.  Place the cut cherries in a wide-mouthed 1-1/2 or 2 quart glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.

2.  Add the sugar.  Cover the jar and shake gently to coat the cherries with the sugar.  Allow the cherries to macerate in the sugar for 4-5 hours.

3.  Add the brandy and the vodka, and stir gently until most of the sugar has dissolved.

4.  Seal and store in a cool, dry place for 2-3 months, shaking occasionally, once every week or two.

5.  In 2-3 months, strain out the fruit.  Then filter through a coffee filter.  Bottle and allow the cherry brandy to age in the bottle on a cool, dry shelf for another 2-3 months before drinking.

I made two, single-variety batches, one with Queen Annes and the other with Bings, but there's no reason you can't mix different varieties of cherries in a single batch.

You might consider adding a small piece of vanilla bean or cinnamon to the mix, but tread lightly, as these flavors can be overpowering.

Today's bounty included:

From C&D Cherries:  Cherries!

From Sage Mountain Farm:  Patty pan squash, kale, shiraz beets, chantenay carrots, red spring onions, and cipolloni spring onions;

From Jaime Farms:  Broccoli, celery, basil, and chives;

From JR Organics:  Red romaine lettuce, dasher cucumber, and swiss chard;

From Sweet Tree Farms:  Nectarines and apricots.



Friday, June 15, 2012

Mixed Summer Fruit Crumble

There are all sorts of wonderful fruit desserts that are baked with some sort of topping or crust and a crumble is just one of them.  Summer fruits lend themselves well to crumbles because their high water content creates a thick, bubbly juice that bathes the fruit and infuses some of the topping or crust making three delicious layers of crisp topping, gooey-crispy fruit infused crust, and thick baked fruit.

I used peaches from today's box as well as raspberries and blueberries that I picked earlier this week at Underwood Farms in Somis.  But you can use any combination of stone fruits or berries to make this tasty dessert.  You can add a little sugar to the fruit mixture, or not, it's up to you.  And herbs like lemon verbena, or a little lemon or orange zest adds a little extra zing.  The ratio of fruit to topping is also a matter of taste, so feel free to experiment with that, too.

Prepare 4-6 C summer fruit:  Use whole berries such as raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and/or blackberries; and/or peel, pit, and slice peaches, nectarines and/or apricots.  Add 1/2 C sugar to the prepared fruit mixture, if desired.

4 T cold butter, cut into small cubes, plus butter to grease the baking dish
2/3 C flour
1/3 C white sugar\
1/3 C brown sugar
1/3 C rolled oats, toasted
1/3 C toasted almonds, chopped
pinch salt

1.  Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.

2.  Generously butter an 8x8 (or similarly sized) baking dish.  Spoon the prepared fruit in the buttered dish.  Set aside.

3.  In a medium bowl, mix all the remaining ingredients with a pastry blender, 2 knives, or a fork, until combined but still crumbly.

4.  Sprinkle the topping mixture over the fruit in the prepare baking dish.  Bake at 375 degrees F for 30-40 minutes until the fruit is bubbly and the topping has browned.

Today's bounty included:

From Sage Mountain Farm:  Chantenay carrots, 8 ball squash, strawberries, green garlic, spring candy onions, and bull's blood beets;

From JR Organics:  Red butter lettuce, strawberries, basil, and cucumbers;

From Jaime Farms:  Radishes, chard, yellow peppers, dill, and cilantro;

From Sweet Tree Farms:  Apricots and peaches.



Friday, June 8, 2012

Maple Brown Rice Pudding

Rice pudding is one of my favorite desserts.  It's creamy and toothy all at once, and brown rice pudding is the toothiest of all.  Brown rice is full of fiber which makes is more chewy than white rice.  Its more substantial nature makes it a great choice for rice salads and other dishes where you want the rice to stand out.

This rice pudding recipe takes a little time, but it's simple to make and has just a few ingredients.  It's best warm and can be garnished with chopped nuts or a little strawberry or cherry preserves.

Start by mixing 1 C brown rice in 2 C water with 1/4 t salt.  Don't rinse the rice, as you want the starch in this recipe.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Cover and cook until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender.  You should have 2 C cooked brown rice for the recipe below.

2 C cooked brown rice
1 12-oz can evaporated milk
1/3-1/2 C maple syrup
1/4 t cinnamon, or to taste
1/4 t nutmeg, or to taste
1/2 C raisins (optional)

1.  In the same pot that you cooked the rice, add the evaporated milk, maple syrup, spices and raisins to the cooked rice.

2.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a low simmer, stirring frequently.  Be careful that it doesn't burn.

3.  Cook until the pudding is very thick and creamy, 20-25 minutes.  Serve warm.

You can re-heat any leftovers in the microwave or in a pot over low heat.  I like to eat leftover brown rice pudding for breakfast instead of oatmeal.

Feel free to play with the spices.  You can make a delicious chai-flavored version with cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and a little black pepper.

Today's bounty included:

From Sage Mountain Farm:  Red Russian kale, strawberries, garlic, cipolloni spring onions, 8-ball squash, chantenay heirloom carrots, and chioggia beets;

From JR Organics:  Red leaf lettuce, strawberries, and pickling cucumbers;

From Jaime Farms:  Basil, hot house red peppers, and hot house green peppers;

From Massa Organics:  Brown rice;

 From Sweet Tree Farms:  White nectarines and flavorosa pluots;

And from Silver Lake Farms:  Ginger.



Friday, June 1, 2012

Stir-Fried Broccoli with Peanut Sauce

Peanut sauce makes so many things taste better.  I like it slathered on almost any meat:  chicken, pork, lamb and beef.  It's great on noodles.  It's a terrific base for a salad dressing, just thin is down with a little more oil and vinegar.  And of course, it's wonderful on vegetables, especially broccoli.  Best of all, peanut sauce is easy to make and keeps in the fridge for weeks.  So, you can make it ahead of time and mix up some extra for future use.

The recipe below makes about a cup of peanut sauce.  Feel free to double it.  I like to start with chunky peanut butter, but if you prefer plain, be sure to chop up extra peanuts for garnish.  If you use a natural peanut butter with no sugar or salt added, you might want to add a bit of salt and agave syrup or other sweetener.  But if you start with one of the more processed national brands, you may want to taste it before adding any salt or sweetener, as these products tend to already have both.

Because peanut butter usually sticks to whatever measuring device you use, I like to mix my peanut sauce in a 2-cup measuring cup.  You can measure out 1/3 C peanut butter, then pour the rice vinegar over the peanut butter to bring the total amount in the measuring cup to 2/3 C.  Add the other ingredients right into the measuring cup and stir until well combined.

For the peanut sauce:

1/3 C peanut butter
1/3 C rice vinegar
1 clove young garlic, minced
2 T minced fresh ginger (or more to taste)
2 T sesame oil
2-3 T canola oil
2-3 T soy sauce (or more to taste)
1-2 t agave syrup, optional
1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes, optional
2-3 T crushed peanuts (or more to taste)
salt to taste

1.  Measure the peanut butter, rice vinegar, young garlic, ginger, sesame oil, canola oil, and soy sauce into a 2-cup measuring cup or bowl.  Stir until well combined.

2.  Taste peanut sauce and add agave syrup, salt, red pepper flakes, and crushed peanuts, if desired.  If the sauce is too thick, you can thin it by stirring in a little water, rice vinegar, or even pineapple juice.

3.  Set aside while you prepare the broccoli, or refrigerate for later use.

Prepare the broccoli:

1 T canola oil
2 C chopped broccoli florets
1/2 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips, optional
peanut sauce, as prepared above
1-2 T crushed peanuts for garnish

1.  Heat oil in a wok or a skillet over medium-high heat.

2.  Add the broccoli and the pepper strips.  Stir-fry until crisp-tender.

3.  Turn down the heat and add 1/2 C peanut sauce.  Stir to coat.

4.  Transfer to a serving bowl.  Sprinkle with crushed peanuts.  Serve.

Stir-fried broccoli with peanut sauce makes an excellent side dish all by itself.  It can also be a delicious main course served over rice or some other grain.

Today's bounty included:

From Sage Mountain Farm:  Patty pan squash, ruby red grapefruit, garlic, purple scallions, red Russian kale, arugula, chioggia beets, and bull's blood beets;

From JR Organics:  romaine and strawberries;

From Jaime Farms:  broccoli, orange carrots, radishes, and mustard greens;

From Sweet Tree Farms:  pluots and white donut peaches;

From Silver Lake Farms:  rosemary, mint, and thyme.