Fall CSA - Weeknight Ravioli

[Posted by Ruth]

Thanksgiving brought us a  week off from the weekly Fall CSA.  On the one hand, I found I really missed the weekly infusion of vegetables, on the other hand, it gave me a chance to get a handle on what was already in-house.  This is the first week in a while that I'm heading to the pickup with an empty fridge and a clear conscience.

With all the Thanksgiving preparations underway last week, I was in the mood for something different for dinner.  I was longing for Butternut Squash Ravioli but wondered if I was nuts for adding that project into the pre-holiday mix.  Turns out, it's totally doable on a weeknight, with a few cheats:

  • Roast the butternut squash over the weekend.  Just pierce the skin in a few places, place whole into a 350 degree oven and roast until soft; 1 to 1 1/2 hours depending on the size and hardness of the squash.  Let cool a bit, peel, seed and puree.  Store the puree in the fridge until later
  • Buy wonton wrappers.  These have become readily available in most areas.
  • Get some helpers when putting the ravioli together.  I started out with my husband and older son helping but we had to dismiss my husband due to excessive finger licking.
Butternut Squash Ravioli with Leek and Pea Cream Sauce

1 Butternut Squash, prepared as above
1 16 oz container of Ricotta Cheese
1 tsp fresh thyme, minced
salt and pepper to taste (don't skimp on the salt and pepper as there is a VERY small amount of filling in each ravioli and you want the flavor to come through)
1 or 2 packages of wonton wrappers
Olive oil and salt for pot of water

For the Sauce:
2 Leeks, white parts only, halved lengthwise and finely sliced
2 Garlic cloves, minced
Olive oil
1 cup light cream
1 cup frozen peas
Freshly grated nutmeg, a small pinch
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

For the Ravioli. Bring a large pot of salted water with some olive oil in it to a simmer.  Do not bring to a full, rolling boil. Mix the pureed squash with the Ricotta, thyme, salt and pepper in a food processor.  If you are using a different sauce or just some browned butter you can also add some minced or roasted garlic. 

Keep the wonton wrappers loosely covered with a damp paper towel to prevent drying and have a cup of water handy.  To fill put a small amount of the squash filling on one half of the wonton wrapper, wet your finger and run it over the edges on one half and seal, folding diagonally.  After a few practice rounds, you'll be able to judge how much filling you can use before it begins to seep out.  Anywhere it seeps out will come open in the water.

As you put them together, cover the assembled ones with another damp paper towel and try to lay them out flat as they tend to stick together if piled up.  When they are all assembled, cover while you make the sauce.  (Or have your helpers assemble them while you make the sauce!)

 For the sauce:
In a heavy pan, cook the leeks and garlic in olive oil over medium/low heat until quite soft.  Add the cream, salt, pepper and peas, raise heat to medium/high and cook, stirring constantly until the peas are cooked and the cream has reduced and thickened a bit.  Add nutmeg, taste and adjust seasoning.

Place the Ravioli in the simmering water, stir very gently, raise heat just enough to keep it at the simmer and cook until just tender.  This will take 3-5 minutes during which you should watch them, and check one periodically.

Remove from water to a platter, top with sauce and the shaved cheese.  With help, this weeknight dinner was ready and on the table in just under 1 hour.
One squash made quite a lot of filling.  We decided to just fill one package of wonton wrappers, which made enough for 4 for dinner.  The leftover filling also made an interesting side dish the next day.


Fall CSA - Stuffed Squash

[Posted by Ruth]

We're into the end of the second week of our Fall CSA and, so far, there seems to be as much, if not more, in our boxes than we had in the summer share.  

Both weeks we got several small wintersquashes that were tan with deep green stripes, some oblong and some more pumpkin shaped.  I've never cooked these before and decided to try my hand at stuffing them when we had friends over this weekend.  The abundance of kale we had found it's way into the squashes as well.

Winter Squashes stuffed with Kale, Sausage and Orzo
serves 4-6

8 small winter squashes, halved, seeds scooped out
2 bunches kale, stems removed, coarsely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 sausage links, I used a chhicken/fontina sausage, sliced
approx 1/4 to 1/3 lb orzo pasta, cooked according to package directions
1 can white beans, drained
1/2 cup dried cranberries
olive oil
1 T chopped basil
salt/pepper to taste
about 1/3 cup dry white wine
1 pat butter, about 1 T
grated Parmesan, if desired, for topping, about 1/2 cup

Preheat oven to 350
Place cut squash in a large roasting pan that has about 1/2 inch of water in the bottom, cut side down.  Roast for 1/2 hour to 45 minutes, until they are almost fully tender.  This time may vary greatly depending on the squash you use.  Mine wereVERY hard and took a bit longer than the 45 minutes.

In the mean time, cook the orzo to package directions and drain.

Cook the sausage slices over medium heat until cooked through and lightly browned,  Remove from pan.

In same pan, add olive oil to coat and cook onion and garlic over medium/low heat until softened.  Add the chopped kale and cook, stirring, until the kale has cooked down a bit and is tender.  Remove from pan.  If you used a chicken/cheese sausage there may be quite a lot of browned bits in the pan.  Turn heat to high and add the wine to browned bits, scraping to incorporate them.  When reduced and thickened, lower heat and swirl the butter in.

Mix Orzo, sausage, kale mixture, liquid from pan in large bowl with the cranberries, beans, salt/pepper to taste and the basil.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  It it seems dry, toss with a bit more olive oil.

Remove squash from pan, turn over and lightly salt and pepper the insides.  Drain all water from pan and put the squash back in, cut side up this time.  Fill with the orzo mixture, mounding as much in as will fit, top with grated Parmesan, if using, and put back in oven for about 1/2 hour to heat through.

The beans and cranberries worked well, along with the squash, to offset the bitterness of the kale and the richness of the sausage.  They were a hit.


Week 22 - More tarts, less guilt and some drunken carrots

[Posted by Ruth]

We're big fans of pies and tarts, both sweet and savory, around here.  The problem is that, while I'm very happy with my standard butter pastry crust, it calls for a lot of butter; making it seem better suited for special occasions than for weeknight dinners.  It really is kind of pointless to feel proud of eating all these vegetables if I surround them with sticks of butter.

So, I did some looking around and found a savory olive oil tart crust that's quick and easy and almost guilt-free.  I'll never replace my flaky crust completely, but this will mean more tarts around here.  This week's tart is a mix of escarole, leeks and goat cheese.  It made both a good dinner and a tasty brown bag lunch cold the next day.

Savory Olive Oil Tart Crust.
(makes enough to line one 10-11" tart pan)

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried basil, optional (or herb of your choice)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup cold water

Whisk flours, salt and herbs together to blend.  Use a fork to mix in the olive oil and water.  When the dough comes together, give it a few quick kneads right in the bowl.  Add a few more drops of oil and water, if necessary, to bring the dough together.  At this point, you can roll it out immediately and line the tart pan.  It takes a little work to roll it out, but you will be able to get it quite thin.  Line the tart pan, cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1/2 hour.  During this time you can preheat the oven and make your tart filling.

Escarole and Goat Cheese Tart
Preheat oven to 400.

1 bunch escarole, roughly chopped, thicker parts of stems removed
2 small leeks or a small onion, finely chopped
5 pieces of bacon, excess fat removed and chopped
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
Salt and pepper to taste
4 oz. fresh goat cheese.

Cook bacon over medium heat until cooked through and beginning to crisp.  Do not over-brown.  Add leeks or onions to pan and continue to cook until they are soft but not brown.  Stir in the escarole and cook, stirring, until it begins to wilt but is not fully broken down.

In the meantime, whisk the eggs and milk together and season with salt and pepper.  

Distribute the escarole, bacon mixture in the bottom of the tart shell.  Pour the egg mixture over the top and dot all over with the goat cheese.  Bake at 400 for 25-35 minutes, until the custard feels firm in the middle and the top of the goat cheese is beginning to brown.  Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack at least 10 minutes before serving.  Can be served hot, room temperature or cold.

 Drunken Carrots...

I also had some fun with the carrots this week.  My company imported a new Limoncello that I've been working with.  It was still out on the counter the other night, so it wound up in our carrots.  It turned out to be a great combination.  If you have any Limoncello in the house, give it a try.  No real recipe here, just slice carrots and cook, covered, in a saute pan  with a small amount of water until almost tender.  Take the lid off and add a bit of butter, 2 or 3 tablespoons of Limoncello, salt and a generous amount of pepper.  Cook stirring, until most of liquid evaporates and forms a glossy coating on the carrots.


Week 22 - Catching Up

[Posted by Ruth]

Our older son is finished with his Master's Degree and came back from Texas last week so there hasn't been much time for posting.  To make up for it, here is a longish post with a couple of recipes.

This week was week 22, the last week of the regular farm share.  As you can see, we got a terrific assortment of goodies.  This has been a wonderful experience which will continue as we have also purchased a fall share which takes us into December and then will continue to use what we've frozen and put by and also focus on buying local produce.Without any reservations whatsoever, we will definitely sign up the CSA next year as well.  We've enjoyed it and have definitely saved a considerable amount of money as well.

Here are some things I've learned along the way:
  • The day the farm share arrives is the day to prep as much as possible.  Wash, spin and bag the greens right away they're much more likely to be used throughout the week.  A paper towel thrown in the bottom of the bag keeps them fresh longer.
  • Be realistic about what's actually going to be used during the week and blanch, roast, can, freeze the rest in the beginning.  Otherwise, the vegetables will wither and age while waiting in the fridge.  Ask me how I know.
  • Plan the meals around the vegetables.  For me this didn't mean eliminating meat but it did take a back seat and I think we've had a much healthier diet because of that.
  • Be open to new combinations.  I probably wouldn't have gone to the supermarket and bought turnip greens, hot peppers, eggs and goat cheese with the plan of combining them in an omelet for dinner, but the results were delicious.
We used the cabbage from last week as part of our son's first dinner home.  I love the name of this dish, which comes from the sounds it makes while cooking.

Bubble and Squeak
1 small head cabbage, cored and coarsely shredded
1 medium onion, finely chopped, or 2 small leeks, white part only, finely sliced
4 -5 medium/large Potatoes, preferably a yellow or gold variety
2 T butter
2 T olive oil
Salt, pepper
1 T caraway seeds, optional

Scrub the potatoes and partially cook, leaving the skins on.  The quickest way to do this is to pierce them a couple time with a knife and microwave for about 4 minutes.  Let sit until cool and then cut into 1/2" cubes.

Heat oil and butter in a large, heavy skillet and cook the onions or leaks over medium/low heat until softened.  This will take about 10 minutes for the onions or up to 20 minutes for the leeksDo not brown.

Add the cabbage, potatoes and salt and pepper, stir to distribute the butter and oil and cover.  Cook over medium, low heat, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage has softened.  If it begins to stick, add some more butter or oil and lower the heat, if necessary.  When softened, raise the heat a bit , adjust the salt and pepper, add 1 T caraway seeds, if using, and cook, stirring often, until some of the potatoes brown a bit.  This works well  as a side dish for salmon, which is what we had, or pork chops, ham or corned beef.

Here, by the way, is the previous week's farm share.

For the last two weeks, I've been roasting and freezing the butternut squash for use later.  This turns out to be an incredibly easy process.

Easiest Roasted Butternut Squash
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Poke a few holes in the squash but don't bother to peel it or cut the ends off.
Place in pan or on baking sheet and bake, uncovered until it's softened and the skin is beginning to brown.  Approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending on the size of the squash.
Remove from oven and while still fairly hot, slice in half.  Scoop out the seeds and strip the skin off.  The skin strips off very easily, which if you've ever peeled a raw butternut squash you'll love!

To freeze as a puree just process in a food processor and, when cool, bag in freezer bags.  If you leave it unseasoned, you'll have the option of using it for either sweet or savory dishes later on. 


Week 19 - Fall Colors

[Posted by Ruth]
It's been a classic Fall in New England kind of weekend; crisp air, patches of dark clouds scudding across bright blue sky, leaves swirling on the deck.  It gave me the urge to put things by, to clean out drawers, to make soup, to capture this short season before the next one closes in.  First, there was a lot of blanching and freezing to doCorn, green beans and pureed eggplant all packaged and frozen.  Then, a roasted fall vegetable soup.

Roasted Autumn Vegetable Soup

 For the roasted Vegetables:
3 Turnips - peeled and cut into 1" cubes
1 Small butternut squash - peeled and cut into 1" cubes
1 Bunch baby carrots - washed, scraped and the larger ones cut into 1/2 or 1/3s
1 T Olive oil
1 T Maple syrup - grade B for best flavor

Preheat oven to 350.  Toss vegetables with salt, olive oil and maple syrup in a shallow baking dish and bake for approximately 1 1/2 hours, turning occasionally, until vegetables are quite soft and a bit caramelized. 

Remove from oven and set aside.

For the soup:
Roasted vegetables from above
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 T butter
5 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
2-4 cups water (add more or less, depending on desired consistency) 
Salt, Pepper to taste
1 T Maple syrup
4-6 dashes Tabasco Sauce

In heavy soup pot over low/medium heat, cook onion and thyme leaves in melted butter until onions are translucent and quite soft and thyme is fragrant.  Don't brown.  Turn off heat.  Add vegetables and 1 cup or more of the water and begin to puree with an immersion blender.  ( place in food processor or blender at this point)  Blend, adding water as needed until you have a smooth, thick soup.  Add maple syrup, Tabasco sauce and salt and pepper to taste and heat over low/medium heat until heated through, taking care to not let it stick.  Serve with more fresh thyme, kale chips, croutons or crusty bread.  Makes about 8 cups.

We're reaching the end of the regular CSA and I'm definitely going to miss it.  Right now, we are getting terrific variety and quantity.  In a few weeks we'll switch over to the somewhat smaller Fall CSA which will take us into December.  After that it will be a bit of a free swim at Tale of Two Farm Shares.  We'll look for ways to creatively use what's in the freezer and pantry from the CSA, try to continue to buy local and cook some other things just for fun.  Hope you'll stay with us.


Week 18 - Soup's on

[Posted by Ruth]

This week brought new additions to our farm share.  We got two enormous sweet potatoes and the first Brussel sprouts.  I know Brussel sprouts are not for everybody, but my husband and I love them.  The trick with them is to not overcook them; that's when they become 'cabbagey'.

Looking at the sweet potatoes and turnip greens sitting on the table made me want to use them in a soup, juxtaposing the sweet of the potato with the bitter from the greens.  Since I had a freezer full of chicken stock thanks to the freezer special for chicken from Stone Gardens Farm (and, yes, I took the feet too!), soup seemed like a great idea.  This soup bears a passing resemblance to Italian Wedding soup.

Sweet Potato and Turnip Green Soup with Meatballs
(This makes a large pot, enough for dinner for 4 the first night w/ leftovers for another night)

10 cups chicken stock, homemade if you have it
3 small leaks - just the white and tender green portion
2 very large sweet potatoes (about 2 1/2-3 lbs) peeled and diced
1 bunch turnip greens, leaves coarsely chopped and some of the stems finely chopped
2 cans white beans, drained
1 batch meatballs - recipe follows.
salt and pepper to taste

Bring stock to a simmer and add in leaks, sweet potatoes and turnip greens.  Simmer until all vegetables are cooked through and quite soft.  Add drained white beans and meatballs and simmer very gently for about 10 more minutes.  Enough for the flavors to blend but not enough to break up the meatballs.  Adjust salt and pepper and serve w/ crusty bread.  Like most soups, this is even better the next day. 

2 lbs ground meat (I use 1 lb each of beef and pork)
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 egg
Approx 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs, add more if necessary to bind
1 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T chile sauce or Ketchup
2 T prepared horseradish
1 T prepared mustard
salt, pepper to taste
olive oil for pan

Preheat oven to 375.  Lightly oil a large jelly roll pan or other baking sheet.  Cook onion in a bit of olive oil over medium heat until translucent.  Mix all ingredients, except the olive oil for pan, in a large bowl, preferably with your hands or a large fork.  Don't over mix, stop when all ingredients are incorporated and before you smush the meat up too much.  Form into small/bitesized meatballs, place on baking pan and bake at 375 for approx 30 minutes; until browned on the bottom and cooked through.  Let rest for at least 20 minutes before putting in the soup.  Note: you can use this same recipe for a meatloaf.  Just reduce oven temp to 350, form into a loaf and bake for 50-60 minutes, topped w/ more chile sauce or ketchup if you like


Week 17 - Oeuf Cocotte

I've found a pretty elegant and simple way to use up just about any leftover vegetable.  In his terrific book, "More Fast Food My Way", Jacques Pepin has a recipe for Oeuf Cocotte.  His calls for a base of creamed mushrooms, but you can use just about anything.  In our case, I used some of the leftover 'panic ratatouille' that I tend to make on Wednesday nights when I realize that I need to use up the rest of the vegetables before the next onslaught arrives on Thursday.  It's a simple combination of cooked vegetables (or meats, chicken or whatever combination you like) and a bit of cheese, topped with an egg and poached in a water bath on the stove top.  I had the day off today and this made a lovely late breadfast.

Oeuf Cocotte (Adapted from More Fast Food My Way by Jacques Pepin)
Per single serving:

Approx 1/2 cup of leftover ratatouille, cooked greens or mixture of cooked leftover vegetables and sausage, bacon, etc.
1 T half and half or light cream
2 T grated cheese (I used Gruyere)
1 egg
1 very small pat of butter
salt and pepper to taste

Have a saucepan with a cover deep enough to hold the ramekins and have the cover fit.  Fill with enough hot water to come about 1/2 way up the ramekins.

For each individual serving fill a 1 cup ramekin or custard cup about half full of your already cooked vegetable mixture.  If your mixture is a little on the dry side sprinkle the tablespoon of half and half or cream on top.  Top with the grated cheese.  Carefully crack the egg and place over the top of cheese.  Sprinkle a small amount of salt and pepper over the top of the egg (just enough the season the egg) and top with the pat of butter.  Place the ramekin in the pot of water and bring to a gentle boil.  Cover the pot (not the individual ramekins) and simmer on low heat for 5-8 minutes, just until the white of the egg is set and the yolk is still quite runny.  Serve immediately with bread or toast points to soak up the yolk.

This weeks farmshare is a great mix of late summer/early fall vegetables.  We're probably getting to the last of the corn but these ears were still tender and sweet.  The beets and turnips have already been roasted and will find there way into salads, etc. during the week.


Week 16 - More Pie

[Posted by Ruth]
The pie kick continues.  Week 15 brought my first bunch of turnip greens which I paired with bacon and summer squash in a polenta crust.  Here it is before baking...
And after baking.

 It came out great although you'll notice that the attempt at a fluted edge was a waste of time.  The polenta is just too soft to hold the shape.  In fact, if you want to serve this piping hot straight from the oven, you'll be spooning it out, rather than slicing it.  You might even want to put the polenta on top in that case.  We let it sit for about 20 minutes and were able to cut and carefully serve the slices.  At room temperature is should slice very well.  We didn't have a chance to test this theory; it was long gone before it cooled!

Turnip Green/Summer Squash Pie with Potenta Crust

Preheat oven to 375.
You can make your own polenta instead of using the packaged, but the packaged worked very well here and made this a quick weeknight meal.

Polenta Crust
1 Package (18 oz) ready made, organic polenta 
4 T unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, if needed - depends on the polenta you use

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until completely blended.  Press into a standard sized pie pan.  (See above, don't bother to flute the edges)

5 thick slices bacon (we used applewood smoked) cut up
1/2 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 bunch turnip greens - coarsely chopped
1 small/medium summer squash, thinly sliced into 1/2 rounds
1 T minced fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook bacon pieces over medium heat until crisped, but not over-browned.  Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving the fat in the pan.  Saute the onion and garlic in the bacon drippings until softened.  Add the turnip greens and squash and cook over medium heat until just cooked through, stopping before the squash gets too soft.  Add salt and pepper to taste (careful with the salt, the bacon and the cheese in the crust will add quite a bit) and stir in the basil.  Turn the vegetables into the crust and bake over a cookie sheet to catch any drips for 30-40 minutes, until the crust is beginning to turn a light golden brown and the filling has cooked down.  Let cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing.

Here is the haul for week 16.  The week brought a huge amount and variety.  It was great to get some more corn before the season ends.  They were small, very sweet, tender ears.  There was also a head of lettuce.  I was actually happy to see it so I guess I'm over the Spring lettuce overload syndrome!



Week 14/15 - A Couple of Pies

[Posted by Ruth]
With the arrival of the cooler weather, I've been getting reacquainted with my oven.  The fist pie is a long time favorite of mine that I first had at my sister Phyllis' house.  This is one of the tastes I think of when I think of summer.  You have to make it when there are good, ripe tomatoes to be had.  It's fast and simple and is a great picnic dish. 

Tomato Pie
1 unbaked Pie Crust (you can refer to the "Veggies Night Out" post from 6-18-10 for my pie crust recipe, use your own, or use a prepared pie crust)  I do this in a large, 12" pie plate.  Alternately, you can use a tart pan - just do only 1 layer of tomatoes if using a tart pan.

Approx 2 T flour (Wondra if you have it),
2 or 3 ripe tomatoes, sliced (if they are very juicy tomatoes, remove the seeds and pulp)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 cup grated cheddar cheese, white looks better in the finished product
Approx 6 T mayonnaise (as much as you need to place even 'dots' over the top)

Preheat oven to 375.  Sprinkle flour in bottom of pie shell.  Use more or less depending upon how juicy the tomatoes are.  Arrange tomato slices in 1 layer, slightly overlapping.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and about 1/3 of the cheese.  Put a second layer of tomatoes on top of the first, sprinkle with salt and pepper and the rest of the cheese.  Dot the mayonnaise all over the top of the pie.  Bake until top is browned and bubbly, approx 30-40 minutes.  Let cool to room temperature and serve.

The second pie I made this week was a cabbage pie from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman.  We were happy enough with the results but think this one still needs work.  It is a cabbage pie with a biscuit-like topping.  The filling was very good but I would have liked the crust to be a bit more biscuity and less eggy.  My husband liked the crust the way it was, so who knows?

Cabbage Pie adapted from "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian"
1 small/medium head cabbage, shredded
1 small onion, chopped
4 T butter
1 tsp caraway seeds
Salt and pepper to taste

Top and Bottom
3 eggs
1 cup whole milk yogurt or sour cream (I used Greek yogurt)
3 T mayonaise
1/2 Baking Powder
1 1/2 cups flour.
1/2 tsp salt 

1 cup shredded Gruyere Cheese

Prereheat oven to 375.  Melt butter in large skillet and cook cabbage and onions over medium heat until softened, but not browned.  Add salt, pepper and caraway seeds.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.  In a larger bowl, combine yogurt and mayonnaise.  Whisk in the eggs.  Add the flour mixture and mix just until incorporated.  

In a 9" x 12" glass baking or casserole dish, spread a little bit less than 1/2 of the biscuit mixture on the bottom.  Sprinkle 1/2 the cheese over the biscuit.  Top with the cabbage mixture and then the remaining cheese.  Spread the remaining biscuit mixture over the top.  Try to cover the entire top.  Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the top is puffed and shiny brown.  Remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

This also reheated well the next day.

Here is the week 15 haul.  We got edamame, which was a cool surprise!


Week 14 - Back to School Fusion

[Posted by Ruth]
I don't have school-aged kids anymore but there's still something about this time of year that makes me want to go out and buy pens and a new notebook.  I was feeling that way and missing making lunch for our sons last week so I make myself a very grown up PB and J to take for lunch.  Peanut Butter and Hot Pepper Jelly on slices of Wave Hill Bread with a bit of Arugula.  
It was great, with almost a Spicy Thai quality..
 So when this week's farm share arrived and I saw all the peppers, both sweet and hot, I decided I had to make my own Hot Pepper Jelly.  (Full disclosure:  I used all the peppers in the bowl except the green pepper, saving that one for later.)

Hot Pepper Jelly Adapted from Hotter Than Hell by Jane Butler

Note: Have your canning equipment sterilized and ready.  This made 8 half pints of jelly.  Be sure to wash, sterilize and follow all USDA suggested practices for home canning.  Be safe, don't skip any steps.

3 Large Peppers, seeded (I used 1 red, 1 yellow and one long red)
6 Hot Peppers - I took most of the seeds out but left the ribs for the extra heat
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
6 1/2 cups sugar
2 3 oz packages of liquid pectin

Chop peppers together in a food processor until finely chopped.  Put in heavy saucepan with all other ingredients except pectin.  Bring to a rolling boil and boil, uncovered for 30 minutes.  Stir in pectin.  Be sure to squeeze all the pectin out of the packages.  Continue to boil for about 2 more minutes, until the jelly slides off a metal spoon in sheets when held perpendicular to the pot.

 Spoon jelly into hot, sterilized jars, taking care to evenly distribute the chopped peppers and keeping the rims wiped clean.  A canning funnel is a great help for this.  Seal and process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes.  Remove jars to towel and let cool completely.  When cool, remove rings and pick up each jar by the seal to ensure the seal is tight.  If any jar hasn't sealed, you can refrigerate it to use first.  Grab the peanut butter and some bread or some crackers and cream cheese!  I'm also thinking that combined with peanut butter, ginger and soy sauce, this would make a really interesting dip for grilled chicken.


Week 13 - 14 - Pasta 'Primaspacho'

[Posted by Ruth]
Wrapping up week 13 and in the midst of yet another heat wave, I did a sauce earlier this week that wound up being very good both hot and cold.  It's kind of the love child of Pasta Primavera and Gazpacho.

This recipe represents what I had kicking around near the end of Week 13 but you can really add any late summer vegetable you like here.  The key is to keep the cooking to a minimum to maintain the color and crispness as well as the fresh taste.

Pasta 'Primaspacho'
Serve hot over pasta as or as a cold soup.  This makes a large batch, enough for a hot meal 1 night, a cold meal the next night and some to put away to have another time

2 Zucchini, cubed
2 Summer Squash cubed
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, crushed
4 ears corn, cut from cob
Olive oil
4-6 cups peeled, roughly chopped ripe tomatoes, seeded as well if they're very juicy
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
1 T honey
Salt, Pepper
Fresh basil, mozzarella cubes or shaved Parmesan and red pepper flakes as desired for garnish.

Al dente pasta if serving hot.

Heat oil in large heavy pan.  Gently saute the onions and garlic until garlic is fragrant.  Add Zucchini and squash and cook over medium heat until it begins to lose its raw appearance.  Stir in the corn, tomatoes, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper.  Cook until the vegetables are tender but still a have some bite to them and some of the tomato liquid had evaporated.  Stir in the honey.  If serving hot, place pasta in deep bowls and top with sauce and cheese, basil and red pepper flakes, if using.  It will be a soupy sauce so it's best served with a smaller pasta and spoons.  If serving cold, serve as a cold soup with the same garnishes.  You can place a slice of French or Italian bread in the bottom of the soup bowl before serving if you like to absorb some of the liquid and thicken it a bit.  We really liked it hot the first night but both liked it even better cold the second night.

Here, by the way, is the Week 14 haul.  There are actually 12 ears of corn, but they are not all in the shot.  It was just too hot to unpack them all!

 This is the first time I've been disappointed with the corn.  I'm not sure if it's the variety or that it's late in the season.  The ears are all very large and the two that we had last night, just quickly boiled and served, were starchy and didn't have much flavor.  The remaining ears will need some jazzing up this week.


Week 13 - Extra Tomatoes

[Posted by Ruth]

In addition to this week's terrific looking haul...(loved getting some fennel and thought the tiny watermelon was the cutest thing ever)

I opted to buy a 1/2 bushel of tomatoes as well.  Time for some canning.  Although I generally use recipes as a jumping off point the one place I follow directions exactly is when putting food up.  The book I love and trust is "Putting Food By" by Janet Greene, Ruth Hertzberg and Beatrice Vaughan.  It's a great resource for canning, freezing, drying, you name it, for just about any fruit or vegetable you can think of.  Whatever book or source you choose, make sure you cross-check the advice and then follow it to the letter.  I used their hot pack method.  The tomatoes were juicy enough that I didn't need to add any juice.  In fact, I had some mostly juicy leftovers to which I added the less than perfect tomatoes and cooked down further for some sauce for later in the week or to put in the freezer.  The 1/2 bushel yielded 7 beautiful quarts of tomatoes in their juice, all well sealed and ready to put in a cool dark place for later in the season when I'm missing the taste of tomatoes.

An unexpected side benefit of this whole process was that I realized all my cool dark places were full of cool dark junk, so I got busy and cleaned out the dog/cat food cabinet.

That accomplished, we deserved a glass of 10 Second Sangria by way of The Bitten Word.  Super quick and easy.  Definitely not a serious drink but then, who needs to be serious on a summer weekend?

10 Second Sangria

Equal parts red wine (pick a fairly fruity one for best results - an inexpensive tempranillo or sangiovese is great here)
and Lemonade soda (I used "European Soda" from Fresh Maket - Sicilian Lemon)


Week 12 - HOT Peppers!

[Posted by Ruth]
The night before the next CSA pickup is reality check night.  This is when, despite diligently cooking and eating the vegetables all week you open the fridge and realize a lot of them are still there.  We still had 2 ears of corn left, most of the hot peppers and 2 of the long green, also pretty hot, peppers.  I also hadn't gotten to the beets or the baby carrots yet.  Time to grab the pots and pans.  The carrots and beets were a no brainer.  I peeled and sliced the beets, cut the carrots into small discs and caramelized them slowly in olive oil in a heavy pan over very low heat.  Just a little salt and pepper and they're terrific.  They will be part of my lunch today.

I then combined the peppers and corn with some shrimp thinking that the sweetness of the corn would balance the hotness of the peppers.  Warning:  this dish was very tasty but also very hot.  Not for little ones or those with timid tongues.

Three Alarm Shrimp with Corn - serves 2
2 hot peppers, seeds removed - chopped finely
2 long green peppers (these were also hot - were they banana peppers?) - roughly chopped
2 ears corn, cut off cob
2 cloves garlic - minced
1 medium onion - chopped
1/2 lb. raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/2 tsp cumin
salt, pepper to taste
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup chopped cilantro - roughly chopped

Heat olive oil in heavy pan and add the onions and garlic.  When they begin to get fragrant, add both peppers, salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until it the peppers are tender, but have still retained their color.  Add in the corn, shrimp,  lemon zest, lemon juice and cumin and cook, stirring frequently, until the shrimp is done.  Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Stir in the cilantro in the last minute or so.  Depending on the size of your shrimp this will take about 3-5 minutes. 

Serve with rice or pasta and plenty to drink.

Note, you can back off on the heat by using fewer hot peppers.  For my husband's sake I would probably do that next time.

Offer plenty of wine, finish off with a bowl of gelato and all is forgiven.  Well, almost all.  I'm still hearing about snapping at my husband for swiping a shrimp before I took the photo.  I guess he didn't plan on living with a crazed, spoon wielding woman who shouts, "No eating until I get the shot!"



(Posted by Denise)
I can’t thank Taber enough for taking over my farm share for my vacation week.  It was an interesting week and I really missed my share.  I also realized the amount of money that the share has been saving me this summer.  I know that we are running kind of a theme here, but reading Ruth’s post really got me thinking about the way my family and I ate this past week.  The amount of money that we spent on quick take-out meals and even the amount of time and money that I spent at grocery store was astonishing.

So my family voted and we signing up for the extension and next year!!

That brings me to my egg issue.  I have too many.  I am smiling because I know my farm fresh eggs aren't part of the recall and I don't have to check each box to make sure. (That was a nice feeling!)  But it does mean that with the current state of my life,  I am filthy with eggs.

Once again, we voted.  (I think the boys think they are living in a democracy, its fun to toy with them that way.)  Pound cake was voted the winner.  A beautiful sour cream pound cake that uses six eggs.

Sour Cream Pound Cake
(based on Paula Deen’s recipe)
  • ·      2 sticks butter
  • ·      3 cups sugar
  • ·      1 cup sour cream (I used reduced fat because that is what I keep in the house)
  • ·      1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • ·      3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ·      6 large eggs
  • ·      1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ·      ½ teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together.
Add the sour cream and mix until incorporated.
In a separate bowl whisk baking soda and flour together.
Add to the butter and sugar mixture alternating with eggs
Beating in each egg 1 at a time
Add the vanilla and almond extract Mix just to combine.
Pour the mixture into a greased and floured 10-inch tube pan.
Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes.

This cake is delicious on its own and I will confess is used as a quick breakfast food by my family.  You can dress it up with some fresh peaches or if you are like me, some plum preserves warmed and fresh whipped cream.


Week 12 - Sometimes it's all about the sauce

[Posted by Ruth]

Have you ever made a sauce you liked so much that you had to fight the urge to run through your neighborhood wielding  a spoonful of it and shouting, "Try this sauce; it'll change your life!"?  I came pretty close last night.  We got a bag of bright green, crisp, fresh green beans in our farm share box on Thursday and I wanted to do something special with them that would make them a meal we could take to the Levitt Pavillion last night.  I found a creamy nut sauce recipe in Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian" but it called for a cup of heavy cream and 4 T of butter which was way too heavy for my taste (and my thighs).  I lightened it up a bit, made a few tweaks and ended up with a sauce that I think I'd like to put on everything.  It was subtle and lush.  Put over the beans and finished in the oven for a quick gratin, it worked well for us as a main course and will also serve as a hearty side dish to a simple meal with chicken or fish.

Green Bean Gratin with Creamy Nut Sauce

Creamy Nut Sauce

2/3 cup whole, unblanched almonds
1/3 cup walnuts
3 T butter
1 cup skim milk (more or less for desired consistency)
Salt, pepper to taste
freshly grated nutmeg
Optional: 1 tsp of instant blending (Wondra) flour

Combine the almonds and walnuts in a food processor and pulse until finely ground.  Add 2 T of the softened butter to the nuts and continue to process until the mixture forms a paste that is as smooth as possible.

Melt the remaining butter in a small, nonstick, pan, add the nut mixture and cook over low to low/med heat, stirring constantly as if you were making a flour/butter roux.  Cook like this for a few minutes, until the nuts are fragrant which means they have browned slightly.  Gradually whisk in the milk and heat to the point of a gentle simmer.  Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.  At this point, if you want a thicker sauce you can sprinkle in the Wondra flour and whisk for a few minutes while simmering until it reaches the consistency you want.  Note: if you are using the sauce for the gratin below, it will thicken a bit more upon baking.

Green Bean Gratin

3/4 lb fresh green beans, ends nipped off, cut in 1/2 if very long
1 clove garlic, minced
3 T minced onion
Butter or olive oil for pan

1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Creamy nut sauce, recipe above

Preheat oven to 400.  Have a baking dish that will fit the beans ready -no need to grease it.

Heat oil or butter in pan and gently saute garlic and onion until fragrant and beginning to be translucent.  Add the beans, stir to coat with oil and continue cooking a few minutes.  Turn heat to low, cover and cook for 3-5 minutes, until the beans are tender/crisp.

Toss the beans with the nut sauce, place in baking dish and top with the Parmesan cheese.  Bake uncovered for 15 minutes, until mixture bubbles and the cheese has browned a bit on top.  Serve hot from the oven, or at room temperature.

The mixture of almonds and walnuts in the sauce was a happy accident.  I had two small partial bags of nuts I wanted to use up so I combined the two.  They both added a different note to the sauce and it's definitely worth having them both on hand.

Here, by the way, is this week's haul.  We have our first cantaloupe.  Stacia from Stone Gardens Farm wanted to know how we all liked the cantaloupe and if she should grow them again next year.  Our vote is YES!  The melon was perfectly ripe and delicious.



week 11 - corn

[guest blogger :: taber]

i have to agree with what ruth said in her post below, "good quality, fresh ingredients, simply prepared trump processed, over salted, 'convenience' food any day."

i will admit, i felt the pressure when i took on the farm share this week that i would need to cook up a storm in my kitchen in order to really enjoy the vegetables. one of the biggest lessons i've learned is that food, especially fresh produce, is best served and consumed when cooked simply.

the other night i was staring at the six ears of corn that came in the share wondering what the heck i could do with them. i saw that one of my favorite food blogs (thanks denise!), smitten kitchen, had posted a recipe for sweet corn pancakes. but i didn't have all of the ingredients (boo!). instead i just boiled up the corn, pulled out some delicious butter from vermont and enjoyed it the simple way, and that was my dinner (and my boyfriend's too) - two ears of the sweetest corn!

Week 11 - A vote for fresh and simple

[Posted by Ruth]
Fair warning, I'm climbing up on my soapbox.  I settled down with my coffee this morning and read in the New York Times that "The I Hate to Cook Book" by Peg Bracken is being reissued.  For those of you too young to remember, this book came out in the 1960s and all of our mothers had it.  Bracken, the precursor to Sandra Lee, advocated dumping cans of salty, condensed soups in recipes and, like Sandra Lee, using ready made, processed foods as 'shortcuts' wherever possible.  

What really annoyed me about the article was that it stated that "...the organic, locavore movement may get the most attention, many home cooks still care more about budget and convenience."  Give me a break!  Especially in this current economy, I care deeply about budget.  In fact it's what I wake up and think about at 3 a.m.  And, I'm certainly not against things being convenient.  I just don't think I have to dump a can of soup over something to achieve this.  

Now that we're half way through our CSA, I'm completely convinced that we are saving a significant amount of money and eating better.  It doesn't have to be a trade-off.  Good quality, fresh ingredients, simply prepared trump processed, over salted, 'convenience' food any day.

Oven Roasted Steak Fries
5 or 6 very fresh, medium potatoes
olive oil to coat
salt, pepper

Preheat oven to 400
Scrub potatoes but leave the peels on.  Cut them in half lengthwise and then cut each half into 4 thick steak fries.
Place in baking pan (a heavy jelly roll pan is great here) and toss with plenty of olive oil.  The potatoes should be well coated and there should be some extra oil in the pan.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper, turn slices over and sprinkle other side with salt as well.
Roast for 20 minutes.
Turn slices over and roast for another 20 minutes or until nicely browned.

That's it.  No cans to open, no unpronounceable chemicals, little or no work on my part.  We had them with some grilled eggplant and some chicken. Because they were so very fresh, the potatoes were absolutely delicious.  Seemed pretty convenient to me.


week 11 - the newbie

[guest blogger :: taber]

hello a tale of two farm share followers! this is taber, from cafe taber, guest blogging on behalf of denise this week. she so graciously gave me her farm share this week and asked me to blog about my experiences with all of these crazy vegetables! well, only some of them are crazy. dandelion greens?!?!?

i'm new at this whole farm share thing. i've heard of the concept, but i've never taken part in one before. so this is exciting for me as well as a little nerve wracking since i haven't really cooked in while. i'm up for the challenge though!

saturday morning, after i unpacked all of the vegetables from the pick-up, i was amazed at both the quantity of the vegetables and the quality! knowing that i will be cooking and eating some of the freshest produce over the next few days got me super excited because being a vegetarian i LOVE my veggies!

i have a few recipes in mind for the summer squash and the tomatoes. i'm not quite sure what to do with the beets or the dandelion greens. ruth suggested i use the kale to make kale chips! yummy! and my friend monica suggested i use some of the corn for some chowda! so i'll be sharing the results of my adventures with these vegetables with you right here over the next week. so please check back! and if you have any suggestions on how i should cook a certain vegetable, please post your thoughts in the comment area below.

until then...i must get cookin'!


Week 11 - Halfway Point

[Posted by Ruth]
I've become someone who looks forward to coming home on a Thursday and photographing the vegetables.  

It's not all that weird.  They really are beautiful.  O.K., maybe it's a little weird.

This week's box contained:
6 ears sweet corn
2 large eggplant
1 bunch dandelion greens
5 lbs tomatoes
2 sweet Italian peppers
1 pint yellow grape tomatoes 
2 summer squash 
1 zucchini
2 lbs potatoes
4 small eggplant
3 cucumbers
1 bunch beets
2 onions
1 head garlic
1 bunch kale
and the Wave Hill bread share

Since there was so much eggplant and tomatoes and those beautiful peppers this week, I decided to make ratatouille.  I like Jacques Pepin's method in his book "More Fast Food My Way" of just putting everything into one pot and simmering.  Much simpler and quicker for a weeknight meal.  I remember reading somewhere else to add lemon juice and some honey after cooking.  This made a huge difference.  The lemon juice brightened the flavors and the honey added depth rather than obvious sweetness.  Whatever ratatouille recipe you use, I really recommend trying the addition of some lemon and honey at the end.

Ratatouille with a twist
Approx 1 lb eggplant (use the thinner, Japanese type if possible) cut into 3/4" chunks, skin left on
2 small/medium zucchini, cut into 3/4" chunks
4-5 large tomatoes - roughly chopped
2 Long sweet Italian peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 small head garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 tsp salt or more to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/3 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 T honey

Put all ingredients except the lemon juice and honey in a large, non reactive saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture begins to bubble.  Lower heat, cover and cook for approx 30 minutes.  If there is more liquid than you want at this point, remove cover, raise heat and cook some of the liquid off.  Watch carefully and stir regularly at this point to avoid sticking/burning on the bottom of the pot.  Remove from heat and adjust the salt/pepper to your taste.  Stir in the lemon juice and honey.  Serve warm or, more ideally, at room temperature.


Week 10 - With a little help from my friends

[Posted by Ruth]
First, a word about this week's corn.  In her weekly newsletter, Stacia of Stone Gardens Farm said the Montauk corn in our boxes was the sweetest, best tasting corn Fred has ever grown.  We agree!  All through dinner after the Thursday pick up we kept stopping to exclaim, "This is REALLY good corn".  It was truly the sweetest, tenderest, most flavorful corn I have ever had.  Montauk gets our vote Stacia!  We also had a hard time staying away from the yellow grape tomatoes, which we've been eating like candy.

Here is this week's haul:

8 ears Montauk corn
1 head cabbage
4 small white eggplant
2 bunches baby carrots
2 bags yellow grape tomatoes
1 red and 1 green hot pepper
3 cucumbers
2 bunches beet greens
1 bunch kale
2 onions
3 zucchini
1 large summer squash
3 large tomatoes
1 dozen eggs

Friends try their best to look interested when you talk about your blog.  Really good friends actually read the thing and terrific friends send you recipes, especially recipes to handle the onslaught of zucchini that's been coming our way lately.

My learned and terrific friend, Lou Anne, e-mailed me a recipe for Zucchini Blueberry Bread.  Not only is this a good tasting combination, it makes use of two items that are at their peak at the same time.  It's brains like that that earned her all those letters after her name!

 I made a few modifications here.  I found that I liked these best as muffins.  The original recipe called for 1 tsp of cinnamon, which you can certainly use.  Instead, I find that I really like what a bit of lavender does to the flavor of blueberries.  It just seems to make them taste more blueberry.  I also added a bit more baking soda for a little more lift.

What the Doc Ordered Zucchini Blueberry Muffins, adapted from L.A.F.F., Ph.D.
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp crushed dried lavender
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
3 eggs lightly beaten
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 pint blueberries.

Preaheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease 36 small or 24 medium muffin liners.  (The silicone ones are great here)  In medium bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, lavender and nutmeg.  Whisk these dry ingredients until blended together.  In larger bowl.  Whisk eggs and gradually add sugar until well mixed.  Mix in vanilla and zucchini.  Fold the flour mixture into the zucchini mixture until flour is just blended in.  Gently fold blueberries in.  Spoon into muffin tins.  (You can fill about 3/4 full as the heaviness of the zucchini prevents too big a rise).  Bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden and until tops spring back when lightly touched.  Remove and cool on rack for 20 min. before removing from liners.  Or, turn batter into 4 mini or 2 regular loaf pans and bake for around 50 minutes.  With the softness and juiciness of the blueberries, muffins seem to work the best here.