Week 2: Herb Pie in the Sky

When the box arrived on Tuesday, we were completely out of food and needed to do a fair amount of cooking right off the bat if we were going to get through Andrew’s upcoming double day. The box didn’t disappoint: we got rhubarb, two quarts of strawberries, spinach, lettuce, arugula, spring onions, green garlic, radishes, and more asparagus.

Aside from needing to cook, we also had a string of house guests coming to town, and I suddenly decided that the standards of cleanliness before guests arrive as a soon-to-be-married couple were dramatically higher than they where when we were co-habitating as boyfriend and girlfriend. I can’t explain this reasoning in any remotely healthy way, but I suppose of all of the ways the patriarchy manifests itself, this one is pretty harmless.

It’s worth mentioning at this point that the previous day we cleaned and reorganized the pantry,  and I also figured out how to descale my espresso maker. Having been without espresso for several years, caffeine at that level of concentration had a very dramatic effect on me.

We sat down to think through the week, and I came away with a plan that basically involved cooking every single dish for the rest of the week that afternoon and evening. We were going to grill ribs, bake cornbread, make salad, make a marinade for chicken legs, grill them, cook an elaborate Ottolenghi recipe, make rhubarb shrub, and also recaulk the bathtub.

Rhubarb Shrub

I discovered shrub, or drinking vinegar, over Christmas when one of my students had gifted me with some homemade cranberry shrub and I proceeded to drink it with bourbon and vermouth for most of January. I was excited because I didn’t know this stuff existed and I loved it. I’d experimented with flavored simple syrups in past summers, and while they are gorgeous and colorful they always ultimately go to waste because as it turns out, I hate sweet fruity cocktails.

This recipe from rhubarb shrub is from Serious Eats. First, slice 2 lbs rhubarb into 1/4 inch thick pieces. Add it to a pot along with a cup of sugar and a cup of white wine vinegar. Bring it to a boil, and then simmer for 10 minutes until the rhubarb has turned into stringy mush (this took about 15 minutes and a potato masher for me). Then, strain it through a fine mesh strainer and let it sit for about a half hour until it’s stopped drinking. You throw out the solids, and the bright pink liquid is yours.

CSA ingredients used: rhubarb

Other ingredients used: white wine vinegar, sugar

Grilled Spare Ribs with Cornbread and Buttermilk Dressing on Lettuce

Andrew cooked the ribs for about 24 hours in the sous-vide, and finished them on the grill. We used a tamarind BBQ sauce that we’d made and canned in the fall, and served them along with a homemade cornbread and a salad made from the CSA lettuce with the rest of last week’s buttermilk dressing.

CSA ingredients used: lettuce

Other ingredients used: spare ribs, tomatoes, cucumber, all of the cornbread ingredients

When we saw we were getting more spinach, we sent out a plea on Facebook for suggestions of what to do with it. We got any number of ideas, but our friend Matt responded with this herb pie that would use up a bunch of CSA ingredients in one go and would work really well for Andrew to take to go. The only downside was that it broke a well-documented CSA rule– don’t cook Ottolenghi recipes. However, armed with espresso I blithely declared that I could handle it, I would make it after dinner and we would have it for lunch along with chicken thighs for the rest of the week.

Chicken Thighs with Za’atar & Herb Pie

First the chicken thighs. We picked this recipe for a middle eastern chicken from Serious Eats to go along with the herb pie. You begin by making za’atar: 1 TB dried oregano, 1 TB dried thyme, 2 TB sesame seeds, 2 tsp ground sumac. You split it in half, put half to the side, and add 2 TB olive oil, salt, and 3 garlic cloves to the other half to make a paste. This goes all around and under the skin of the chicken thighs. The other half gets sprinkled on top of the chicken thighs later.

After letting the chicken marinade for a bit, Andrew grilled it while I got to work on the herb pie. It had sixteen ingredients (which never bodes well) but at this point we already had most of them. I decided to make the ricotta first. To make ricotta, you heat milk to 200 degrees and add some lemon juice and salt. Unfortunately, the lemon that I used was mostly mummified and I didn’t get enough juice out of it to curdle the milk. I tried to strain it, but nothing happened.

I usually strain ricotta through a paper towel rather than cheesecloth because I don’t want to spend $3.99 every time I make ricotta, but we had literally one piece of paper towel left. The semi-curdled milk just sat there on top of the paper towel, not draining through. It was actually remarkably impressive, and under different circumstances would have made an excellent advertisement for a paper towels. After about 20 minutes of staring at it waiting for it to strain, I went out and bought another lemon, a bunch of paper towels, and some actual cheesecloth.

In an effort to make the experience as pleasant as possible, I prepped and organized everything carefully before starting, and cleaned as I went. I chopped spinach, green onions, arugula, parsley, mint, and dill, grated cheddar cheese and crumbled feta, grated lemon zest and chopped onions, and put everything in a nice little bowl of its own, just like in cooking videos. Shockingly, it does, in fact make for a much nicer cooking experience.

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The first step was to saute the a chopped onion in olive oil for about 8 minutes, cooking them but not browning them. After that, you add 1 LB chopped spinach and cook for a few minutes. Then all of the rest of the greens – 1 3/4 oz parsley, 1 3/4 oz arugula, 1 oz mint, and 2/3 oz dill. The recipe also calls for celery but we didn’t include it. Once these cook for a few minutes, you remove all of the greens and put them in a colander to cool.

At this point, I went to go decaulk the bathtub.

Once that was done, the greens were almost cool. The next step is to add 2 oz feta, 3 1/2 oz Cheddar cheese, and 4 oz ricotta to the mixture, along with the zest of 1 lemon, 2 eggs, 1/3 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and a 1/2 tsp sugar.

Now it’s finally time to play with the fillo dough. You put five layers of dough on top of each other, brushing each layer with olive oil before you add the next. It goes into a 8 1/2 inch casserole dish (this was momentarily confusing – the cookbook says a pie dish but the picture in the cookbook is of a rectangular dish. Because, England. Everything is a pie. But we figured it out.) Then comes the herb filling, followed by 5 more layers of dough, each brushed with oil. After that, you put it in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes and it’s done.

CSA ingredients used: spinach, some arugula

Other ingredients used: chicken, dried thyme, dried oregano, garlic, sumac, sesame seeds, salt, onion, feta cheese, ricotta cheese, cheddar cheese, dill, mint, parsley, fillo dough, olive oil.

Next: I have to cook again?

Week 1: Field Report

There’s a certain false confidence that attends the first CSA box. Chicago has a late spring, so the box isn’t spilling over with abundance—it’s just the right amount of early vegetables. As Monday rolled around, we found that without too much strain, we’d succeeding in using up almost the entire box. The only things left were some asparagus, baby kale, and a few radishes.

We still had an ungodly amount of spinach pesto. You may recall from a previous post that I had claimed that it was best to freeze pesto before you mix in the cheese. But my older sister told me that was bananas, that she’d frozen plenty of cheesy pesto and it defrosted just fine. So since Andrew and I couldn’t stomach another spoonful of pesto (a welcome problem to have), we decided to go ahead and freeze it. This method from the Kitchn popped up on my Facebook newsfeed, which would have been exciting and convenient if such emotions weren’t shadowed by the sense that the bots are watching my every move.

The pesto method involves spreading it out on a piece of wax paper on a sheet pan, covering it with another piece of wax paper, and sticking it in the freezer. Once its frozen, you can break off pieces of whatever size you need when the urge comes. As a bonus, you don’t have to try to clean pesto out of your ice cube trays.

 

Grilled Salmon, Asparagus, and Kale with Buttermilk Dressing

Monday, Andrew’s day off, featured an extensive pantry cleansing, including a sorting and culling of spices. During that process, we discovered an unlabeled jar that contained a delicious spice rub. After some detective work, we figured out that it was from this recipe for lamb that consisted of cumin, Urfa Chile (this is the best thing ever), sumac (also the best thing ever), and salt. We slathered this all of the salmon and grilled it, along with the rest of the asparagus. We made a side salad using the CSA kale, and the remainder of the buttermilk dressing from earlier in the week.

CSA vegetables used: half of the asparagus, kale

Other ingredients used: salmon, rice, sumac, Urfa pepper flakes, cumin, salt

And that was the end of week one. To recap:

Dish CSA vegetables used Does it taste good? $$$? Exhausted? Gone? Or rotting in the fridge?
Spring Salad w/New Potatoes Potatoes, radishes, spring onions, asparagus Yes, thanks to the spring onions $ Yes We didn’t quite finish this before I got tired of the asparagus flavor gradually permeating everything
Spinach Pesto Spinach Yes, but not when you’ve eaten it four days in a row I know I said this last year, but why are pine nuts so effing expensive? No Definitely not gone, but safely frozen for a day a long, long time from now
Grilled Chicken & Lettuce with buttermilk dressing Lettuce, radishes, spring onions That was legitimately delicious lettuce $ No Gone
Orecchiette with Sausage & Rapini Rapini Totally fine $ No We got close to finishing this, but not quite
Saag Paneer Spinach Oh my god yes Surprisingly inexpensive, especially if you use paper towels instead of cheesecloth to strain the paneer Yes, but that’s more the result of eating fried cheese is surprisingly exhausting Gone, but not forgotten
Grilled Salmon, Asparagus, and Kale with buttermilk dressing Kale, asparagus yes $$$ (Salmon) No Gone

Casualties: None so far, but some of the radishes are looking a little shifty.

Next: Oh no more spinach

 

 

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Nauseated

I was texting with Andrew during intermission of his show Friday night, obsessing over the fact that I had made a quart-and-a-half of spinach pesto and still had a bunch of spinach left over. I sent him a link to a recipe on serious eats for vegan saag paneer that substituted tofu for the paneer. Our conversation went something along these lines:

Andrew: “Is the tofu still good?”

Me: “No, I threw it out yesterday.”

Andrew: “Paneer is fun to make!”

Me: “Great, let’s do it!”

Andrew: “Though I’ve had some bad experiences with saag paneer.”

Me: “What kind of bad experiences?”

Andrew: “It made me sick. But you should make it for yourself!”

Me: (…)

It’s taken a few years for me to accept an important hack of CSA-owning couple-hood, which is that we don’t necessarily need to eat the same thing, even if we’re cooking together. But with Andrew playing a show, the weekend is a perfect time for parallel recipe testing. He needed something to eat between shows on Saturday and Sunday, preferably a meal that didn’t make him nauseous. I needed to use up the spinach. So we went with a recipe for sausage and pasta that would use the CSA rapini for him. And I searched for a non-vegan saag paneer recipe.

Orecchiette with Sausage and Rapini

The recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated.

I made the anchovy paste while Andrew cooked the sausage and the pasta. I smooshed two anchovies, a tsp of garlic, a TB of lemon juice, and a TB olive oil all together.

You bring pasta water to a boil and put in a pound of orecchiette. While that’s doing it’s thing, you put oil in a skillet and heat it up, then throw in 8 ounces of mild Italian sausage, with the casings removed and broken into little chunks. Once it’s browned, you remove it from the skillet and put in a few more teaspoons of garlic and some red pepper flakes, and cook that in the sausage fat for a minute or so. Then you add the broccoli rabe, which has been chopped into 1/4 inch pieces. The rapini cooks for a few minutes and then you set it aside.

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Raw sausage makes any still life much less appetizing.

In the now empty skillet, you add a cup of chicken broth and 3/4 cup of pasta water. This comes up to a boil, and then you simmer it until it’s reduced a bit, 4-6 minutes. Then the anchovy oil goes in, along with 1 1/2 TB butter, the sausage, the broccoli rabe, and 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese (we probably put in like 2 cups, not really sure why Cooks Illustrated is sometimes stingy with the delicious parts).

CSA ingredients used: Rapini

Other ingredients used: mild Italian sausage, parmesan cheese, anchovies, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice

Saag Paneer

The only thing I really knew about saag paneer before making this recipe was that it used spinach and that it made Andrew nauseous. He later clarified that the last time he had saag paneer was quite a few years ago and he was on a bad date and he didn’t know if the nausea was related to the richness of the dish or the personality of his dining companion. The recipe I picked was from Saveur.

Reading over the recipe, I was overcome by a deep sense of sadness. Making ricotta cheese is one of my favorite things. How is that I had gotten this far in life without knowing that there’s a dish you can make that is basically the same thing as making ricotta, except that then you fry it in oil? And people are allowed to eat this?

As soon as the door closed behind my last student Saturday afternoon, I got to work.

First, take 8 cups of whole milk and put it in a large pot. Bring the milk up to around 200 degrees, right before it’s about to boil. Then add 1/4 cup of lemon juice. When you’re making ricotta, you usually add salt at this point too, but as previously mentioned you are about to fry this in oil so it’s not really necessary.

Let the cheese drain. (This is what cheesecloth is for, but I usually use paper towel and it’s fine.) After it drains for a while, you want to spread it out a bit, put another piece of paper towel on it, and then put a heavy pot over that to press it. Once it’s been pressed for about 30 minutes, you can cut it into chunks.

After that, you heat 6 TB of canola oil in a frying pan and fry the cheese for about 5 minutes. The cheese goes off to cool somewhere and the skillet gets saved for later.

Next, you put 4 TB of chopped garlic, a piece of chopped ginger, 1/4 cup of water, and a serrano chile (I didn’t have one, so I used a frozen thai green chile. It was fine.) in a blender. You blend it until it’s a paste, and then heat up the remaining oil in the skillet and fry the paste a bit. Mine was more of a liquid than a paste, but it didn’t seem to make a huge difference. After that, 6 cups of chopped spinach goes into the pan and cooks until it’s wilted, about a minute. Then you turn the heat way down and cook it until it’s very soft, about 15 minutes.

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Notice the tofu in the background that did not actually end up being part of the recipe

After that, you add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of  garam masala, and 6 TB of heavy cream (in case you thought the fried cheese wasn’t enough). The cheese goes back into the skillet, and everything cooks together for another 15 minutes. I had mine over brown rice, but I bet it would be even more amazing with naan.

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CSA ingredients used: spinach

Other ingredients used: milk, lemon juice, heavy cream, garlic, ginger, a chile, cayenne, garam masala, rice.

This was exceedingly good, and exceedingly filling, and so far there hasn’t been any ill effects. Just in case, I decided to wash it down with a tamarind pisco sour (2 oz pisco, 1 1/2 oz tamarind concentrate,  1/2 oz simple syrup).

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Next: Week 1 Field Report

Operation Pesto

We were not remotely prepared psychologically for the arrival of the first box. Andrew was coming off an eight show week (this will be a common theme), and I had been out of town at a friend’s wedding all weekend.

The email from Nichols Farm came on Monday morning. Going on year three, we knew more or less what to expect in an early June box: spinach, kale, lettuce, rapini, potatoes, asparagus, radishes, and strawberries. I read the list to Andrew, and he stared into space for a few minutes and asked me to read it again (this will also be a common theme). Mondays are his day off, and after playing 5 shows in the span of 48 hours, he has difficulty with basic cognitive tasks and resembles a person who has recently awoken from oral surgery. It usually passes by mid-afternoon. Despite this, we came up with a plan that I was pretty sure Andrew had agreed to, and I went about going through the refrigerator indiscriminately throwing things out to make room for the contents of the box.

My friend Sammi was in town, and on Tuesday, the day the first box arrived, we were playing a recital together. We had our final rehearsal in the morning and then I headed off to pick up the box. It was around 1:30 PM when I got home with it, and I was already ravenous and a little light-headed. But having thrown everything out from the refrigerator, if I wanted lunch, I needed to make it out of the CSA.

Actually, this is not true: I could have run up the street for a sandwich, eaten it, warmed up for my concert like a responsible professional, and put off dealing with vegetables until the next day, but I was blindly determined not to fall behind on the first day of the CSA. These things can build up quickly, I said to myself as I struggled to stand. We need to make sure there’s space for when the 12 ears of corn arrive in late July. 

The recipe we had picked out for lunch was a potato salad from Smitten Kitchen.

Spring Salad with New Potatoes and Pickled Onions

First scrub the potatoes clean and cover them with an inch of water. Bring to a boil and cook for 15 min, or until they’re done. (It took mine 35 min because I was using russets instead of little ones…) While that’s happening, you can make the pickled spring onions. Mix together a half cup of warm water, a half cup of rice wine vinegar (recipe called for white wine vinegar, didn’t have any), 1 TB salt and 1 ½ teaspoons sugar and add 4 spring onions sliced thin. This goes in the refrigerator.

At this point, the potatoes weren’t done and I was getting desperate so I  made myself a smoothie. Things improved considerably after that.

When the potatoes were finally cooked, I dumped them in the sink and doused them with cold water. Then you’re supposed to refill the pot the potatoes were in with fresh water and bring it to a boil. Deb Perlman from Smitten Kitchen mentions that it’s nice to do this so that you have fewer dishes to clean, allowing me to entertain the delusion that my kitchen wouldn’t be completely destroyed after making this recipe. 

While waiting for the water to boil again, I made the dressing: ¼ cup olive oil, 2 TB mustard, 2 TB rice wine vinegar (white wine vinegar if you have it…) and salt and pepper. Once the water was boiling, I threw in the asparagus for a few minutes, then drained it and ran it under cold water. At this point, the potatoes and asparagus got chopped up and I threw the dressing over it.

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It’s worth noting that you’re supposed to let everything come up to room temperature, but I definitely wasn’t going to do that. A few of the pickled spring onions (how long ago did I make those? An hour? Last week?) went on top.

All things considered, this was pretty delicious and surprisingly filling too. I usually get bored of potato salad pretty quickly, but the pickled onions were a fantastic touch and I went back and added the rest of the spring onions to the brine so that we would have more for salads later on in the week. 

CSA vegetables used: potatoes, spring onions, a few radishes, a pound of asparagus

Other ingredients used: rice wine vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard, olive oil,

Spinach Pesto

There are few things I enjoy more than waking up the morning after a concert and knowing that I have the entire day off. I was up early to see Sammi off, and leisurely went about my morning cooking project with an uncharacteristic level of patience. 

The box came up with two pounds of spinach, which in case it doesn’t sound like it is huge amount of spinach. Neither Andrew nor I particularly like eating it raw, and we also still had lettuce, kale and rapini to go through, so I decided to make it all into spinach pesto. I used a recipe from Kenji Lopez Alt’s Food Lab cookbook, substituting spinach for basil. Based on the amount of spinach I had, I ended up quadrupling the recipe. I didn’t use up all of the spinach, either.

Kenji recommends blanching the greens in water so that they’ll stay bright green, rather than turn brown three minutes after you put them in the refrigerator. Usually I skip this step, but I figured since I was making about 6 cups of pesto I probably was going to have it around for a while. This meant blanching the spinach in two different batches, and then trying to cool it all off immediately before it turns itself to mush.

The spinach went into the food processor, along with a pound of grated parmesan cheese, an entire container of pine nuts, the zest of four lemons and the juice of two, along with a cup and a half of olive oil. We also added an assortment of basil, thyme, and sage from the garden to give the pesto a little more flavor.

The first day we had it on pasta. It was fine, but not spectacular – spinach pesto doesn’t have a lot of a flavor and we didn’t have a lot of extra things to add to the pasta. It was frankly pretty delicious by the spoonful, though, and the next day I had it on sliced ciabatta  for lunch which was delicious.

You can freeze pesto if you leave the cheese out, but I didn’t do that so now we have about 6 cups of pesto in the refrigerator. The internet seems to feel it will last 5-7 days, so we are going to be a eating a lot of pesto in the next few days, and perhaps giving it out to strangers as well.

CSA vegetables used: 3/4 of the spinach.

Other ingredients used: lemons, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, sage, thyme, oregano

Roasted Chicken & Lettuce with Buttermilk Dressing

Lettuce is one of the more challenging CSA ingredients to use up, because as far as I know it can’t be pickled, cooked, or blended. And in the order of going badness, it tends to be towards the top, so I was feeing some urgency with respect to the lettuce. We roasted a chicken, and served it with a salad made of lettuce, radishes, cherry tomatoes, blue cheese, and pickled spring onions along with a buttermilk dressing from Gabrielle Hamilton’s Prune.

The buttermilk dressing is 2 shallots, 1 garlic clove, 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk, 2 cups of mayo (she specifies Hellman’s), 1 tsp pepper, a pinch of salt, the juice of 1 lemon, 1 1/2 cups of mint, and 1 spring onion. It all goes together in a blender.

 

Not too bad for a dinner ready by 5:30 PM.

CSA ingredients used: lettuce, two radishes, one spring onion

Other ingredients used: chicken, herbs, buttermilk, mint, mayo, salt, pepper, herbs, cherry tomatoes, blue cheese, garlic, lemon.

Next: Sausage with Rapini and Saag Paneer

 

 

 

Once More Into the Beets, My Friends

I used to follow an assortment of delightfully frivolous blogs, like one about how to dress yourself if you’re only five feet tall, and the best way to decorate your dorm room for less than ten dollars. At some point in many of these blogs, the writer would vanish for months at a time and re-emerge saying something like “Sorry I’ve been gone so long, I was doing XYZ.” I would roll my eyes and lose all respect for the author.

My original vision was that my CSA blog last year would be largely comedic, and the reader would enjoy laughing at my inept attempts to cook kohlrabi while giving myself food poisoning and having psychotic breaks about beet greens. In retrospect, I felt that last year’s CSA experience benefited from the observer effect, where the act of observation on a phenomenon changes it. Faced with a modest audience, we threw ourselves headlong into the CSA project, utilizing a combination of my organizational skills and Andrew’s culinary prowess. The end result was something disturbing similar to a food blog, at least for a few months.

The paradox, of course, about blogging about your overwhelm is that past a certain threshold, you are also too overwhelmed to blog.  So after posting a few times a week for eleven weeks, in the height of the season, drowning in tomatoes and corn and all manners of radishes, the blog went fallow, even as box after box of vegetables kept pouring into our apartment.

In a last ditch effort to salvage my self-respect, I went through all of my photos from the fall trying to see if I could figure out what we did with at least some of the vegetables. One of the reasons for starting the blog originally was to have documentation of what we actually cooked, so we could go back and find the recipes later (it’s nice to have a use for your blog that doesn’t depend on people actually reading it). Sadly, the evidence is pretty spotty:

September: This looks like some delicious…pork? In some sort of salsa? (Andrew tells me it’s jerk pork, and that it was delicious)

October:  I spent most of this month refreshing fivethirtyeight.com, but photographic evidence seems to indicate I also ate at least one bowl of pumpkin soup:

 

November: I spent most of this month randomly crying in public and drinking heavily, but we did host Thanksgiving using almost entirely CSA vegetables, which was pretty spectacular and also I’m sure none of my family members will agree to have a holiday at my apartment again until we get a dishwasher. No photographic evidence exists other than these pies, which do include CSA apples and CSA pumpkin mush. I remember that part pretty vividly. Andrew reminds me that the sour cherry pie also featured CSA sour cherries that we froze in July, because we’re smart.

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December: Three full boxes of vegetables came east with us for the holidays, which we spent alternating between Andrew’s family and mine. I don’ remember what we did with everything, except by the end of the trip most of the vegetables were gone and it came down to about eight watermelon radishes which we forced everyone to eat, like, 4 days in a row. Luckily, they were a big hit with members of the under-two crowd. 

 And that was the end of CSA 2016.

We hadn’t really considered not doing a CSA this year. We just sort of assumed it was on. But the spring got busier than usual. Andrew got a show downtown that began in April and that runs for six months straight. He’s gone for dinner 5-6 nights every week, and three days a week he isn’t around for lunch either. More rational people might have decided that this year it might make sense to make some changes, say, for instance, not having a CSA. 

But as the memory from last year of piles upon piles of giant brassicas rotting into puddles of brown goo faded once again, we thought, This time it will be a real challenge. Armed with two years’ experience and a sense of trepidation, we ventured once more into the, um, beets. 

Next: Would you like some pesto with your pesto?

Week 11: Rainbow Box

The Week 11 box was one of the most brilliantly colorful boxes of the summer, and also one of our favorites. We had purple eggplants, red onions and bright red fresno pepper, multicolored tomatoes and orange carrots. We also got an assortment of green peppers, tomatillos, corn, and a bright yellow melon. With only a few perishable items, we were able to relax about getting through everything in one week and focus on what we really wanted to do, which was eat as many tomatoes as possible.

Bacon, Mozzarella, and Tomato Sandwiches

We were craving BLTs, but we didn’t have lettuce. Andrew and I briefly conferred and determined that fresh mozzarella was a perfectly acceptable substitute for lettuce in a BLT. We spread olive oil on bread,  and then layered with mozzarella, bacon, halves cherry tomatoes, and a splash of balsamic vinegar.

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CSA ingredients used: cherry tomatoes.

Other ingredients used: bacon, mozzarella cheese, bread, olive oil, balsamic vinegar.

Eggplant Stir-Fry

The next night, we made an eggplant stir-fry using the eggplant, the green bell pepper, and fresno peppers. This recipe came from Epicurious.

  1. Mix 3 TB fish sauce, 1 TB light soy sauce, 3/4 cup warm water, and 2 TB brown sugar and set aside (this is the sauce).
  2. Heat up the wok on the grill and throw in 2 TB of oil. Then add the eggplant slices and stir-fry until they begin to brown. Remove them from the wok.
  3. Next, add another TB oil to the wok and fry up the onions. Once they’re soft, remove them from the wok.
  4. Finally, add 3 TB of garlic and a few TB of chopped chiles (we used the fresno peppers we had). After 30 seconds, add a sliced green pepper and the onions back in. Then add the eggplant back in
  5. Pour in the sauce and add a handful of basil. To thicken the sauce, add 2 tsp of corn starch that’s been mixed with 4 TB cold water.

CSA ingredients used: eggplant, green bell pepper, fresno pepper

Other ingredients used: garlic, vegetable oil, red onions, basil, fish sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar.

Sauteed Corn with Cilantro, Chorizo, and Lime

I discovered this recipe last summer while searching for CSA-friendly meals to bring on our yearly cross-country road trip. It was really spectacularly delicious and insanely easy, so with a few ears of corn left to use up I decided to make it again. You take 4 ounces of the Spanish chorizo and saute it on olive oil in a pan until most of the fat has rendered, around 5 minutes. Then, add 4 cups of fresh corn and cook it in the chorizo fat until the corn has darkened. Finally, add 1/4 cup of cilantro and 1 TB lime juice.

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The cilantro turned out to be not all that important
CSA ingredients used: corn

Other ingredients used: Spanish chorizo, lime, olive oil.

Pork Chops with Salsa Verde and Apples

I’ve developed a habit of typing various combinations of CSA vegetables into google when procrastinating on something else. It’s usually not very successful for actually yielding good recipes—there are vegetables that just shouldn’t be eaten in combination, and no amount of will make them taste good.  In this case, I typed “apple” and “tomatillo” into Google and discovered a recipe for pork chops that actually looked fairly delicious. The recipe came from Serious Eats. The source was reputable enough for Andrew to sign off on it.

  1. Make a rub for the pork chops of 1 1/2 TB coriander, 1 1/2 TB cumin, 2 tsp, 1/2 tsp black pepper. Add a few TB of oil and mush it all together, then rub it on the pork chops.
  2. Simmer 1/2 LB of fresh tomatillos in boiling water for 8 minutes. Let them cool.
  3. Peel and core 2 apples, and cut them into 1/4 inch cubes.
  4. Once the tomatillos are cooled, blitz them in a food processor along with 1/2 cup of cilantro, 1 clove of minced garlic, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 TB fresh lime juice, 1 TB honey. The original recipe called for a teaspoon of chipotle chiles in adobo; we substituted a minced fresno pepper.
  5. Once everything is smooth, mix in the apple cubes to the tomatillo mixture.
  6. Sear the pork chops in olive oil for 3 minutes per side until they’re around 150 degrees. Let them cool for a few minutes, and then slather them in the apple tomatillo sauce.

CSA ingredients used: half of the tomatillos, apples, 1 fresno pepper.

Other ingredients used: cilantro, garlic, cumin, coriander, honey, lime juice.

Stir-Fried Cauliflower

Every week, there’s always one random vegetable leftover on Monday that needs to get used up, and it’s usually the one we’re the least excited about eating. In this case, I was completely convinced we had a leftover broccoli and decided to make the Thai Broccoli with Peanut Sauce stir fry (the recipe is here).

Unfortunately, we didn’t actually have a broccoli at all. We did, however, have a generous stock of cauliflowers that was not getting any smaller. Given that we were already pretty hungry, we decided to go ahead and make the stir-fry with cauliflower instead of broccoli (At least they are the same shape?).

We also didn’t have a red pepper so we used a green pepper instead. For a week that involved one of the most colorful boxes of the summer, we ended up with a very bland looking stir-fry.

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The verdict was that it was actually pretty good. In the end, the cauliflower was fine, but the green pepper tasted a littler weird – go figure.

CSA ingredients used: cauliflower, green pepper

Other ingredients used: tofu, coconut milk, fish sauce, cilantro, brown sugar, rice.

Next: Pizzas and other circular things

 

Week 9: Starve a Fever, Feed a Cold Cauliflower

Two days into his 9-show week, Andrew came down with a cold and was surprisingly cheerful about it. He usually saves his colds for the end of a run of a show, and was excited to get it out of the way while he was already committed to spending 6 nights a week in a dark room. Vacation was around the corner, and we were both hopeful that this meant he wouldn’t get sick again for it.

Having a cold while trying to use up a CSA comes with its own set of challenges, given that most recipes are fairly labor intensive and nobody actually feels like eating vegetables when they are sick. However, we did a pretty commendable job by cooking a combination of soups and flavor-filled Indian style side dishes.

Sausage and Kale Soup

Andrew threw together this soup before running off for his Saturday matinee. We’d bought the Italian sausage for another purpose that Andrew now deemed unappetizing. So he took half of it, sliced it thickly, and browned it briefly in a pot. Then he took the sausage out, threw in some diced onion and garlic, and sauteed everything until it was wilted. He poured in some chicken stock we had in the freezer, added back the sausage, and cooked until the sausage was just cooked through. He tossed in some kale and simmered for the last minute. He declared it tasty enough, given his compromised abilities to discern flavor.

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CSA ingredients used: 1/2 of the kale, onion

Other ingredients used: sausage, garlic, chicken broth

Indian-Style Cauliflower Pickles

Through a combination of lack of inspiration and denial, we had developed a fairly dire cauliflower situation—with three heads of cauliflower from three different CSA weeks piling up in the refrigerator. With the weather finally cooling off, I felt it was time to face the cauliflower head-on (sorry).  I found myself drawn to the gorgeous scarlet color of the cauliflower in this Indian-style pickle recipe. The only barrier was my limited experience with frying, but I didn’t give it much thought, since when applying flame to a large pot of oil, what can possibly go wrong?

  1. You start by dicing up the cauliflower into florets and soak them in salt water for 10 minutes. Let them dry completely. The recipe recommended setting them outside to dry in the sun, but I was concerned they would become squirrel/pigeon food, so I used the top of the stove instead.
  2. Next, heat between 150 ml and 200 ml of oil in a wide pan until it’s smoking, and then fry the cauliflower. I didn’t measure the oil before I dumped it in, and ended up with way, way, too much oil. The first batch of cauliflower that went it instantly turned a perfect color of golden brown, but as I fished it out I realized I was about to start a grease fire, so I turned the oil off and hoped the residual heat would fry the remaining cauliflower.
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Some of these cauliflower florets are not like the others.

3. Next, you roast 1/2 TBSP of fenugreek seeds, and put them in a spice grinder along with 1 1/2 TBSP of mustard seeds. At this stage in the process, you’re supposed to put the cauliflower back in the oil, but I didn’t because I misunderstood the directions.

4. Mix the cauliflower with the powdered seeds, 90 ml of red chile powder [editors note: this is a LOT of chile powder. I had to grind up dried chiles that I found in the pantry and they tasted like…absolutely nothing, since they were 3 years old], 1/4 tsp turmeric, and the juice of 3/4 lemons. You mix everything together, and pour it, along with the oil, into a container.

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Now it appears I didn’t use enough oil

In spite of all of the various mishaps, the final product was delicious—especially the cauliflowers that had actually fried.

CSA ingredients used: 1 head of caulilfower

Other ingredients used: peanut oil, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, turmeric, lemons, red chiles.

Roasted Beets with Chiles, Ginger, Yogurt, and Indian Spices

We very intelligently grilled the beets earlier in the week—wrapping them in foil and nestling them next to the coals while we were grilling the ratatouille—but then we forgot about them for a few days. When I rediscovered them, I also chose this salad with Indian spices from Melissa Clark, which looked both delicious and like something that Andrew might be able to taste as he entered the next stage of his cold.

  1. Slice up the beets into little cubes.
  2. Mince 1 clove of garlic and mash it up with a teaspoon of salt. Next, add 1/3 cup of Greek yogurt, 1/2 of a diced jalapeno pepper, a teaspoon of fresh grated ginger, and 1 tsp of lime juice, and some salt.
  3. Spread the dressing on the beets.

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CSA vegetables used: beets

Other ingredients used: yogurt, mustard seeds, jalapeno, ginger, lime.

Lemony Carrot and Cauliflower Soup

With one cauliflower down, I was excited to see what I could do with the next one.  I had been searching all over for a recipe for cauliflower soup that seemed appealing in the middle of summer, and was unmoved until I discovered this one from Melissa Clark that used a combination of lemon and miso and would address some CSA carrots to boot. We substituted chicken broth for vegetable broth or water, because while I trusted Melissa Clark, I felt that when cooking with cauliflower you need all the help you can get.

  1. Toast 1 TB coriander for 2-3 minutes under they were fragrant. Then smoosh them in a mortar and pestle.
  2. Heat 1 TB oil in a large pot. Cook 2 cups of diced onions until they are soft, and then add a clove of garlic and cook for 1 minutes.
  3. Add 1 TB of diced carrots, the crushed coriander, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and 6 cups of chicken broth, along with 3 TB of white miso. Bring it to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, and then cover and cook another 10 minutes.
  4. Use an immersion blender to liquify everything. Before eating, stir in 4 TB of lemon juice.

This was one of my favorite cauliflower dishes so far and we still had a fair amount of cauliflower and carrots left, so I made another batch to freeze for later (along with a note to myself to remember to add lemon when I defrosted it).

CSA ingredients used: 1 head of cauliflower, 5 carrots, 1 large onion, garlic.

Other ingredients used: coriander, salt, chicken broth, white miso.

Next: The perfect CSA recipe, if I could remember how to say it.