Friday, July 27, 2012

Grilled Corn Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

I've been eagerly awaiting the arrival of our first corn of the season.  So, I was delighted to see three beautiful ears of white corn in today's box.  Corn is best eaten as soon as it's picked.  The sweet sugar begins to turn to blander starch almost immediately after the ear is plucked from the stalk, so always buy the freshest corn you can get and eat it right away.

I've been thinking about corn salads for weeks.  When I came home this afternoon, I turned on the grill, pulled the husks and silk off the corn, rubbed the ears with a little olive oil, and put the corn on the hot grill for about 10 minutes, rotating the ears two or three times during cooking.  Then I took the corn off the grill and let it cool.

In the meantime, I finely chopped a little red onion, pasilla pepper, and fresh chives.  Pasilla peppers can be hot, but the hotness is in the seeds, so use as much or as little of the seeds as you like.  If you prefer something completely mild, you can substitute red or green bell pepper.

I also chopped up some cilantro.  If you don't care for cilantro, you can substitute fresh Italian parsley or basil.

Then I mixed up a simple lime vinaigrette using just 2 T of extra virgin olive oil and 2 T fresh-squeezed lime juice.

When the corn was cool enough to handle, I cut the kernels off the ears into a bowl and mixed in the finely chopped red onion, pasilla pepper, chives, and cilantro.  I poured the vinaigrette over the corn salad and seasoned it with salt and pepper.  And that's it!

Here are the amounts that I used:

3 ears fresh white corn
2 T finely chopped red onion
2 T finely chopped pasilla pepper
2 T finely chopped green chives
2 T chopped cilantro, or to taste
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T fresh-squeezed lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

Follow the directions above and use these amounts to make four side servings.

I nibbled a little corn when I took it off the grill and it was bursting with juicy sweetness.  This corn is so delicious, you don't need to do anything to it.  So, if corn salad is more work than you want for a mid-summer weekend, just cook the corn on a grill or in a pot of water and sprinkle it with a little sea salt, or decadently slather it with butter while it's hot, or squeeze some lime juice and sprinkle some finely-ground hot pepper over the warm ears, or try a little grated parmesan cheese on the hot ears.  It's all good.

Today's bounty included:

From Jaime Farms:  Romaine, chives, basil, white corn, and eggplant;

From JR Organics:  Tomatoes and green beans;

From Sage Mountain Farm:  Patty pan squash, rainbow carrots, arugula, purple scallions, and yellow candy onions;

From Silver Lake Farms:  Basil or squash seedlings;

From Sweet Tree Farms:  White nectarines and flavor king pluots; and

From Weiser Family Farms:  Melons.



Friday, July 20, 2012

SLF CSA Grilled Vegetables

When it's too hot to heat up the kitchen, it's grilling weather at my house.  With the right equipment, you can cook just about anything on a grill.

There are clever, fish-shaped grilling baskets for whole fish, rotisseries for meats, pizza stones for pizza, and skewers for just about anything.  But the single most useful piece of grilling equipment is a grill basket, a sturdy metal pan with sloped sides and lots of small holes.  It sits right on top of the grate.  The holes are perfect for letting juices drip down but too small to lose anything else.  And the pan can get quite hot, so you can get a nice char on whatever you're grilling.  It's ideal for grilling vegetables.

Start with a mix of fresh summer vegetables, cut them into strips or chunks, toss them in a little olive oil, sprinkle them with salt, and grill them in a grill basket, stirring occasionally, like a stir-fry.  Grill them until they're done to your liking, 10-20 minutes depending on how you like them and the heat of your grill.  It's that easy.

Some vegetables take longer to cook than others.  You can deal with this by cutting denser vegetables such as carrots into thinner pieces, or you can grill each vegetable separately until it's at its perfect done-ness.  Personally, I like that some vegetables turn out a little crunchier than others, so I just mix mine all together and grill them until there's a little char on some of the vegetables.

I like a mix of color, but you can go monochromatic if you wish.  Avoid leaves, such as spinach, kale and chard, as they tend to burn long before the other veggies are done.  Herbs are lovely and can add great depth of flavor, but they burn easily too, so add them after you take the veggies off the grill, or stir them in just before you take the vegetables off the grill.  A sprinkle or two of fine balsamic vinegar is another delicious way of dressing up your grilled vegetables.

My vegetable mix uses several of the items in today's box:  green beans, Mexican squash, carrots, and candy onions.  I threw in a little red bell pepper for extra color.  For two generous servings, I used:

1/4 lb green beans
1 Mexican squash
2 carrots
1 medium onion
1/2 red bell pepper
1 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Heat up the grill and grill pan.

2.  While the grill is heating, slice the vegetables and place in a bowl.

3.  Toss the veggies with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

4.  When the grill is hot, pour the veggies into the grill pan and cook, stirring occasionally until done, about 10-20 minutes.

Serve hot or room temperature.

If you have any leftovers, you can toss them into an omelet or make a grilled vegetable sandwich on a fresh ciabatta roll with a little chipotle mayo.  Yum.

Today's bounty included:

From Jaime Farms:  Green beans, parsley, baby dill, and broccoli;

From JR Organics:  Red romaine lettuce and chard;

From Sage Mountain Farms:  Mexican squash, chantenay carrots, red russian kale, purple scallions, and yellow candy onions;

From Silver Lake Farms:  Basil seedlings;

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

From Weiser Family Farms:  Ogen melon.



Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fieldwork for Food ! A Volunteer Work Incentive Program from Silver Lake Farms

Wanna try urban farming?  And get fresh local veggies in return?

Silver Lake Farms is now offering a volunteer work incentive program for urban farming enthusiasts in L.A.

Volunteers will have the opportunity to work with Silver Lake Farms' variety of crops: cut flowers, microgreens, edible flowers, mushrooms, and/or help with food distribution at CSA pickup, help out at farmers' markets, and/or work with seeds, soil and plants at one of our growing grounds located in Silverlake and Glassell Park.

Starting Friday, July 20, volunteer with Silver Lake Farms on a regular basis (set hours weekly or every other week).

After you've logged 20 volunteer hours, your commitment will be rewarded with a free bi-weekly CSA share (pickup every other week on Fridays in Silverlake).  Our CSA bounty comes from local farmers in L.A. and neighboring counties and includes organic fruit, veggies, greens, brown rice, goat cheese and other goodies.  

Volunteer hours musts be logged between 7/20 and 9/21.

contact: for more info.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Mint, Mint, Mint

Many folks' experience with mint is merely as a garnish on desserts.  But mint is an amazingly delicious and versatile herb with myriad uses, both sweet and savory.  Its cool flavor is a great foil to hot chilis.  I like to chop a little mint into tomato salsas and I almost always add chopped mint to my ceviche.  Mint plays nicely with citrus - mint lemonade is a terrific summertime quaff, and mint is especially tasty with chocolate.

Today, I give you three delicious ways to enjoy mint:  Mint tea, mint-cilantro chutney, and mojitos.

Mint Tea
Mint tea is a super easy way to enjoy mint.  Simply dry the leaves, then pour boiling water over the dried leaves.  Allow to steep for 2-5 minutes, depending on how strong you like your tea.

I like to hang fresh mint sprigs from a rack.  They dry out in a few days.  When dry, remove the leaves from the stems.  Compost the stems and store the leaves in an air-tight container.  You can crush the leaves or leave them whole, your preference.  Use a tea ball or a little strainer to steep the tea.

Mint tea is also great on ice with lemon or lime, with or without sweetener.  If you like your iced tea sweet, mix up some simple syrup and keep it in the fridge.  The sugar is already dissolved in the simple syrup, no undissolved mass of granulated sugar at the bottom of the glass.  To make simple syrup:  Mix 1 C granulated sugar with 1 C water in a small saucepan.  Heat and stir until the sugar completely dissolves.  Bring to a simmer.  Cool.  Store in the fridge.

Mint and simple syrup are ingredients in the refreshing summer cocktail called a mojito.  There are many ways to make a mojito.  Here's one of my favorite recipes.  For each serving:

10 fresh mint leaves
1/2 fresh lime, or more to taste
2 T simple syrup (see recipe above)
3/4 C ice cubes
1-1/2 oz. white rum
1/2 C club soda

Place the mint leaves in the bottom of a glass.  Squeeze in the juice of 1/2 lime and add 2 T simple syrup.  With a spoon or a pestle, crush the mint leaves with the lime juice and simple syrup.  Add the ice.  Pour in the rum and club soda.  Stir.  Add more lime juice or simple syrup to taste.

Mint-Cilantro Chutney
If you want to get a little more adventuresome with mint, try this scrumptious mint-cilantro chutney.  It's often served with Indian food, but it's a wonderful condiment on roasted potatoes, grilled meat and fish, and practically anything battered and fried.

1 C fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 C fresh mint leaves
1/2 small onion
2-3 T water
1 T lime juice, or to taste
1 T grated fresh ginger
1-2 t chopped green chili, or to taste
1 t sugar
salt to taste

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.

If you don't have a food processor, you can do this with a mortar and pestle, but it will take a little more time and energy.

Today's bounty included:

From Jaime Farms:  Cabbage, mint, and parsley;

From JR Organics:  Red leaf lettuce and Swiss chard;

From Sage Mountain Farm:  8-ball squash, dried purple Italian garlic, yellow candy spring onions, purple carrots, French breakfast radishes, and purple scalliuons;

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

From Weiser Family Farms:  Baby carrots, assorted melons, and baby beets.