The first few weeks of the CSA, Andrew and I flew headfirst into the planning and cooking, and the neuroticism on my part aside, did a pretty bang-up job of maintaining a certain level of control over things. Nothing rotted other than a few handfuls of arugula, and we we picked simples recipes (donuts excepted) that didn’t involve a lot of hunting for obscure ingredients (ladna excepted). We even went out a few times to meet friends for dinner and didn’t talk about vegetables that much.
This early success had to do with us having very little to do in the beginning of June and feeling fairly relaxed about it. As a freelance musician, a favorite pastime of mine is stressing out about money during slow periods, but I didn’t even have that to do since I knew that things would pick up at the end of June. Life was lovely.
Then came the end of June, which turned out to be insanely busy. Who would have guessed? During the fourth week of the CSA, I was cramming in daily 3 hour rehearsals, teaching 10 lessons a week, and finishing a residency proposal. Over the weekend I played four different weddings in the span of 48 hours and then capped it off by giving a duo recital on Sunday afternoon.
To celebrate me having done everything I was supposed to do, we decided to have a couple friends over for an evening cookout/vegetable using-up party . We picked an Indian-style meal with Tandoori chicken, braised cauliflower, yogurt raita, beet chutney, and naan. Or I should say, Andrew picked an Indiana-style meal, because I was too frazzled to think of anything but Beethoven and Hindemith fingerings.
By the time dinner came around, I was useless for any part of the process that didn’t consist of curling up in the fetal position with a beer, which doesn’t apparently involve any cooking. But it turns out that lighting coals in a chimney starter and staring at them in a dazed stupor was helpful, so I did that. Andrew didn’t seem to mind my uselessness, being particularly excited about making naan from scratch, and seemed to be getting over his post-cabbage rolls funk.
The recipe for beet chutney came from Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Vegetables.
- Roast the beets in the oven at 400. It should take 30-60 minutes. Peel them and cut them into 1/4 inch dice.
- Combine the beets with 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger, 2 teaspoons chopped serrano pepper, 1 tablespoon peanut oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon lime juice, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Add salt and pepper too.
These beets were beautiful. Chopped up and ready to serve, they almost looked like little chunks of tuna ceviche. They also had quite a kick.
The recipe for the Indian-style cauliflower came from All About Braising by Molly Stevens.
- Cut the cauliflower into little chunks.
- Heat 3 tablespoons of butter in a dutch oven. Throw in 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, 1 tablespoon of minced fresh ginger, and one serrano chile. You’re supposed to cook it for 10 seconds until the spices start to sizzle, but not enough that they start to burn. Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground turmeric, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and then add the cauliflower quickly before all of the spices burn.
- Pour in 2/3 cup water and reduce the heat to a simmer. It should take about 15-20 minutes for the cauliflower to become tender.
- Now you uncover it, bring it back to a boil, and pour in another tablespoon of butter, and cook for another 5 minutes. At this point, Andrew tossed in the beet greens, because we had them, and cooked them until they wilted.
The recipe for the naan came from Serious Eats and was surprisingly simple: the vast majority of the time it took to make it involved sitting and waiting.
- Mix 4 cups of bread flour, 1 packet instant yeast, 2 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and 2 tablespoons of sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add 14 ounces yogurt and knead with a dough hook it until it comes together into a ball. Knead for another 5 minutes, and then cover the bowl and let it rise at room temperature for 2 hours, until it has doubled in volume.
- Dump the dough out on a table and cut it roughly into 6 pieces. Roll into little balls. Cover and let them rise again for another 2 hours.
- Roll out the balls into flat naan-shaped things. Throw them on the coals and grill them until the bottoms are blackened, and then flip them over.
- Once they’re off the coals, brush them with melted butter.
We also made two grilled Tandoori chicken, which turned out to be way too much, given that everybody gorged themselves on the naan. The recipe came from the Gourmet Cookbook.
- Blitz 1 small onion, 2 garlic cloves, 1/2 cup of plain yogurt, 1 TB lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of salt, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander together in a blender.
- Soak the chicken parts in the marinade for at least 8 hours.
- Pull the chickens out of the marinade and grill them. Serve with lime wedges and fresh cilantro.
Andrew said that if he had to do it again, he would have followed the recipe more closely. He didn’t take the skin off the chickens, or score the meat before marinating, and he thought it would have been more flavorful if he had. But it was still pretty tasty.
In the end, we had a pretty fun assortment of dishes. The beet chutney was packing heat, but the yogurt raita was a nice soothing flavor. The cauliflower and chicken were great, but the naan was still the highlight.
This brought Week 4 to a close, in which Andrew did 100% of the cooking and I still got to claim credit for it by posting about it on my blog.
Next: Week 4 report