Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pickled Okra from my C.S.A. Share

My C.S.A. share blessed me with a vegetable both loved and loathed by many.  I am a lover and his name is Okra.  If you don't love Okra this is a quick and easy brine that can be used on cucumbers, green beans beets, asparagus or anything else you dare to pickle.  The garlic I used in this recipe was also fresh from my farm share and the fresh herbs were right out of my tiny backyard garden.

In the C.S.A. share:
1 Bag Dragon Tongue Beans - Certified Organic - Bellview Organics
1 Bag Garlic - Certified Organic - Coyote Run Organics
1 Bag Cured Sweet Onions - Certified Organic - Crystal Springs Organics
1 Bag Red Tomatoes - Certified Organic - Green Valley Organics
3 Lemon Cucumbers - Certified Organic - Liberty Acres
1 Pint Sungold Cherry Tomatoes - Certified Organic - Scarecrow Hill Organics
3 to 4 Jalapeno Peppers - Certified Organic - Farmdale Organics
2 Green Bell Peppers - Certified Organic - Maple Arch Farm
1 Bunch Red Chard - Certified Organic - Maple Lawn Organics
1 Bunch Sweet Basil - Certified Organic - Noble Herbs
1 Bag Okra - Certified Organic - Orchard View Organics
1 Pint Cherry Tomatoes - Certified Organic - White Swan Acres
3 Green Zucchini - Certified Organic - Railroad Organics

2 Cups Water
1 Cup White Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Kosher or Pickling Salt
1 Tablespoon White Sugar
2 Whole Peeled Garlic Cloves
1 Teaspoon Dried Dill
1 Teaspoon Whole Black Pepper Corns
2 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
2 Sprigs Fresh Oregano
2 Dried Red Chilies (use whatever kind you like, if you like heat use a very hot pepper)

Prep your Okra by washing and lightly scrubbing it to remove the prickly fur that us naturally on the outside of the Okra and set aside.

Prep the jar for the Okra by washing the jar with very hot soapy water; you want the jar very clean.  Once your jar and the lid to the jar are squeaky clean place the Garlic, Dill, Pepper Corns, Thyme, Oregano and Dried Red Chilies into the bottom of the jar.  Place your clean Okra tip down into the jar.

Combine the Vinegar, Water, Salt and Sugar in a sauce pan.  Heat on medium-high heat, stirring until the Sugar and Salt are dissolved.  Bring the brine mixture just to boil, kill the heat and then immediately pour the hot brine into the jar of Okra (recommend setting the jar on a wooden cutting board or dish towel before adding the hot brine).  Fill just to cover the Okra; you should have about a half inch of room before the lip of the jar.

Let the Okra pickle in the refrigerator for 4-7 days and then enjoy!  Keep in mind this is not the same as canning something for preservation and therefore they will only keep in the refrigerator for about four weeks...chances are you won’t have any left after two weeks though.

                              Already ate quite a few of these!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cheddar Chive Scones – Yum!

So I'll admit although the C.S.A is going strong I opted to use something out of my own garden for this recipe.  As summer gets hot here on the east coast the chives I’ve been growing are trying to bolt and bloom.  They are on their last leg and it was time to harvest the last little green patches.  Fresh Chives from the market or your garden are crucial; don’t use the dried stuff out of a spice jar for this recipe.

To get started preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Set out a large mixing bowl and a small-medium mixing bowl.  You’ll also need something a mesh sieve to sift with.

2 Cups All Purpose Flour
½ Teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1 Tablespoon Granulated Sugar
2 Eggs
1/3 Cup Sour Cream or Greek Yogurt
2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard (and yes, I use the classic)
1 ½ Cups Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
¼ Cup Fresh Chives Finely Chopped
6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter (very cold)

Whisk together the eggs, sour cream, and dijon mustard in the small-medium mixing bowl, set aside.  Sift the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder into the large mixing bowl.  Cut the cold butter into small cubes and add to the flour mixture.  Make sure you have clean, dry hands for this next step.   With your fingers rub the cubes of cold butter into the flour.  In the end you want to rub in all the large pieces of butter until the mixture is like a very coarse cornmeal.  Toss the Chives and 1 cup of the grated cheddar cheese with the flour mixture, reserve ½ cup of cheddar.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mix just until combined (you can add 1-2 tablespoons of cold milk if the dough is very dry). 

Dust your counter liberally with flour.  Turn the dough out onto the floured surface and gently shape the dough into a long rectangle that is 1 inch thick.  Start at one end of the rectangle cutting the dough into right triangles.  Place the scones on a parchment lined baking sheet about 1 inch apart.  With the remaining half cup of grated cheddar place a little bit of cheddar on top of each scone. 
Bake for 20-22 minutes until golden.  This recipe yields 10-12 scones.  The smell of the cheddar and Dijon baking now elicits a Pavlovian response in my home…Really amazing fresh and just as good day old when toasted.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Creamy Spring Asparagus Soup

For the first couple weeks of my C.S.A. Share (Community Supported Agriculture Share) I got a lot of the same...Scallions, greens and yes, asparagus week after week.  So what is a girl to do with several bunches of asparagus?  Soup is on!

This soup is great warm or cool on hot summer evenings.  I've also found the soup is fresh and almost sweet the day you make it but develops an equally appealing savory nature if you keep it overnight and serve the next day.

2 Bunches Green Asparagus
1 White Onion
1 Tablespoon Butter
1/2 Cup of Whole Milk
5 Cups Stock (I highly recommend Better Than Bouillon Vegetarian No Chicken Base, I think this is actually more flavorful than chicken or regular vegetable stock)
Salt to taste
You will also need a stock pot and a blender, food processor or stick blender

Start by trimming off about an inch off the woody end of your asparagus and discard.  Next trim the tips off your asparagus and reserve for later.  Rough chop the remaining asparagus stalks and your onion.

In a stock pot over low-medium heat, melt the butter and add onions with a pinch of salt.  Cook the onions until just transparent but don't brown them.  Add the 5 cups of stock and your asparagus (except the tips you reserved earlier).  Simmer the mixture for 15 minutes, add the reserved asparagus tips and simmer another 5 minutes and then remove the soup from the heat.

I use a blender to liquefy the soup, I think it gives it a nice smoothness but you could also use a food processor or stick blender.  Remember the soup is hot so be very careful blending it!  Meanwhile place your half cup of whole milk into the empty stock pot that you used for the soup.  Let the milk warm up on very low heat; be sure it does not boil.  Once the milk is warm add the liquefied soup back into the pot and mix.  Do a taste test and add more salt if you want.  Serve warm or cool, keeps in the refrigerator for up to a week and is pretty healthy too!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Fresh Strawberry Sorbet

As far as cold treats go, this sorbet is refreshing and pretty healthy.  I've used an ice cream maker attachment for my stand mixer, you could use a regular ice cream maker or even mix by hand and make this semifreddo style but I'm not sure how the texture will be.

2 pints fresh strawberries
1 cup lemon flavor Italian soda
2 tablespoons simple syrup (optional, for added sweetness)

In a blender or food processor puree the strawberries, add the simple syrup and combine.  Let this mixture cool in the refridgerator for 20-30 minutes.

If you are using an ice cream attachment for a stand mixer like me, make sure it is icy cold in the freezer.  Put strawberry mixture into the bowl of the ice cream maker, turn mixer on speed 1.  Pour in 1 cup of the Italian soda and let mixer run on speed 1 for 10-12 minutes. 

Scoop sorbet into a freezer safe container and allow it to harden for at least 30 minutes.  You may need to let the sorbet sit out for 10-15 minutes before serving depending on how hard it is frozen.

Try swapping out other berries or soda flavors, you can even add chopped mint or basil when you are pureeing the berries.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

This weeks C.S.A. share!

1 Bag Lettuce Mix - Certified Organic - Farmdale Organics

1 Head Red Romaine Lettuce - Certified Organic - Riverview Organics

1 Pint Strawberries - Certified Organic - Meadow Valley Organics, Sunset View Organics, Hillside Organic Acres, Sunrise Ridge Organics, or Maple Valley Organics

1 Bag Broccoli - Certified Organic - Plum Hill Organics

1 Bunch Red Scallions - Certified Organic - Windy Hollow Organics

1 Bunch Sweet Baby Hakurei Turnips - Certified Organic - Autumn Blend Organics

1 Bunch Asparagus - Certified Organic - Autumn Blend Organics, Meadow Valley Organics, Plum Hill Organics, or Sweetaire Farm

1 Bunch Mint - Certified Organic - Coyote Run Organics

1 Bunch Radishes - Certified Organic - Coyote Run Organics

1 Bunch Arugula - Certified Organic - Meadow Brook Organics

1 Head Red Leaf - Certified Organic - Green Valley Organics

1 Bunch White Scallions - Certified Organic - Railroad Organics

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Udon Soup

For this I'm using red and white scallions, bok choy and dandelion greens all from our C.S.A. share but you can use other vegetables to suit your taste.  My husband opted to put a sliced hard boiled egg in his!

The Dashi:

1 4in x 6in piece of Kombu (Seaweed)
4 cups Filtered Water
1/2 cup Bonito (shaved flakes of dry fish often used to make stock)
Soy Sauce and/or Sea Salt to taste

Let me start by saying dashi is broth, the basis for this dashi and the direction I followed is from Masaharu Morimoto's book The New Art of Japanese Cooking.  It is a beautiful book and I absolutely recommend buying this book if you are interested in eating, looking at and/or cooking Japanese food.  His recipe recommends using the highest quality ingredients including filtered spring water and does not include the soy and salt.  I have also seen a lot of Dashi recipes that use Mirin but this one does not have any.

The night before, place the kombu into the water and let sit covered overnight.  The next day, remove the kombu and discard.  Bring the liquid to a simmer over medium heat.  Remove from the heat and add the Bonito flake.  Allow this to sit for 15 minutes.  Line a strainer with moistened (squeezed dry) cheesecloth and strain the dashi, discard the solids.  I seasoned mine with soy sauce and sea salt.  Use the dashi within a couple hours.

The Noodles & Vegetables:

1 package dry Udon Noodles (or two packages Fresh Udon) to serve 2
Bok Choy
4-5 Red and White Scallions, cut on a bias
Dandelion Greens, cut into strips

Bring a quart of salted water to a boil.  Blanch the bok choy leaves for 1-2 minutes and shock in cold water to stop cooking.  Return the pot of water to a boil and add your udon (as much or little noodles as you prefer), cook according to the directions on the package.  Divide cooked udon between bowls, arrange blanched bok choy on one side.  Top with scallions and dandelion greens and then ladle hot dashi over top.  Serve hot!

Many of the ingredients in this recipe are not common in a "regular" grocery store but can probably be found at specialty food or an Asian Food grocery.

You may also enjoy Nanami Togarashi, a medium spicy powder you can sprinkle over your soup, it is super yummy and common in Japanese restaurants.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Simple Salad

For this simple salad I used primarily the Red Leaf Lettuce supplemented with Spinach and Arugula from this past weeks C.S.A. share.  A couple edible Nasturtium flowers from my garden add color and a peppery treat.

The Salad:

1 head of lettuce
Additional mixed greens, I used Arugula and Spinach.
Nasturtium Flowers, or any edible flowers

Wash the sand a silt off your greens, tear large leaves into bite sized pieces and allow greens to dry.  Toss the greens together a top with the edible flowers.

The Dressing:

1 tablespoon Honey
1 tablespoon creamy Dijon Mustard
3 tablespoons Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar
1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tablespoon of Balsamic Vinegar
2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pinch of Salt to taste
Pinch of Black Pepper to taste

Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a a jar with a lid, secure lid tightly and shake vigorously.  For this salad I prefer to dress the salad just before eating rather than adding the dressing and letting the salad wilt.

Mune's Tart Rhubarb Pie

We decided to go for a pretty traditional rhubarb dessert to use the beautiful pink rhubarb from our C.S.A. share.

The Crust:

 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
 1/2 cup room temperature vegetable shortening
 1/2 teaspoon salt
 1 tablespoon sugar
 3-4 tablespoons cold water

In a food processor combine 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour, 1/2 cup room temperature vegetable shortening, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon sugar.  Pulse 3-4 times just to incorporate.  Add 3-4 tablespoons of cold water just until the dough comes together.  Don't over mix, dough will be a little crumbly.  Pack the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

The Filling:

4 1/2 cups diced rhubarb OR 2 1/2 cups diced rhubarb and 2 cups diced strawberries for sweetness
1 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Combine all filling ingredients in a bowl, toss together being sure cornstarch is well incorporated.  Allow this mixture to sit for 10-15 minutes while you roll out your crust and preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Roll your crust out into a 1/4 think round, place gently into a pie dish and crimp around the edges with your fingers or a fork to create the edge of your crust.  Poor your filling into the crust.  Cover the edges of your crust with strips of aluminum foil so that they don't brown too quickly.

Cook at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes.  Turn the oven down to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and continue cooking for 45-55 minutes.  Remove the aluminum foil from the edges of the pie for the last 15-20 minutes of cooking.  The pie is done when the filling is bubbling and the crust is a light golden brown.

Allow to cool for at least 4 hours, overnight is better.  Yummy!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My first C.S.A.

My refrigerator is full of vegetables...

If you asked me a couple years ago if I would pay a sizable lump sum for a weekly random selection of vegetables I would have said no.  When you take the granola, go green, buy local message out a C.S.A (Community Supported Agriculture) Share is just that.

After much campaigning from my husband I decided to consider a C.S.A. share this year.  Financially it actually made sense, compared to the cost of organic veggies at my local grocery store I would end up saving.  Considering the best interests of marital bliss it made sense, my husband both loves eating vegetables and me for bringing them home.  And for me personally it made sense because it was a challenge.  I challenged myself to design my weekly menu around these amazing organic veggies...and fruit, did I mention I got the fruit  share too?

 This week:
 1 Bag Spinach - Certified Organic - Autumn Blend Organics
 1 Bunch Asparagus - Certified Organic - Coyote Run Organics 
 1 Bunch Rhubarb - Certified Organic - Elm Tree Organics
 1 Bunch Spring Garlic - Certified Organic - Life Enhancing Acres
 1 Bunch White Scallions - Certified Organic - Friends Road Organics
 1 Bunch Red Leaf Lettuce - Certified Organic - Green Valley Organics
 1 Bag Arugula - Certified Organic - Meadow Brook Organics
 1 Bunch Red Scallions - Certified Organic - Sweetaire Farm
 1 Bag Baby Bok Choy - Certified Organic - Green Valley Organics
 1 Bunch Dandelion Greens - Certified Organic - Hillside Organics
 1 Package Portobello Mushroom Caps - Certified Organic - Mother Earth Organics

 Recipes and pictures from this weeks dishes coming soon!