Week 6: Ful Medamas Fail

The Week 6 box brought fava beans, english peas, raspberries, currants, golden beets, carrots, Swiss chard, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and sweet Vidalia onions. I also took a truly horrible picture of it, complete with unappealing trails of raspberry goo. My excuse is that I picked up the box on the way home after a day of teaching summer camp in which a child managed to set the classroom microwave for 95 minutes and no one noticed, and someone else stepped on a firecracker. I was pretty tired.

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Sweet Potato Curry with Swiss chard

My first project was to make a curry with the sweet potatoes and the Swiss chard. I searched all over the internet for recipes, and ended up choosing this one, mostly because again I already had all of the ingredients at home. It’s from a blog called the Minimalist Baker, and I substituted Swiss chard for kale.

You put a tablespoon and a half of grapeseed oil in a frying pan (In a weirdly self-indulgent act, I actually picked this up from Trader Joe’s instead of just using olive oil. It actually made the cooking process very pleasant!). You sauté 1 shallot, 2 TB grated ginger, 2 TB minced garlic, and a minced Thai red pepper for a few minutes. Then add 3 TB of red curry paste and a large sweet potato that’s been peeled and cubed.

Add two cans of coconut milk, 1 TB maple syrup, 1 1/2 tsp ground turmeric, and a pinch of salt and bring it to a boil. Simmer from 5-10 minutes (I think I did closer to 15) until the sweet potatoes are soft. Then you add 2 cups chopped Swiss chard, 1/2 cup roasted cashews, and the juice of one lemon. It simmers for a few more minutes, and then it’s ready!

IMG_0354.JPGCSA ingredients used: sweet potatoes, Swiss chard

Other ingredients used: garlic, ginger, Thai red pepper, red curry paste, coconut milk, maple syrup, ground turmeric, salt, cashews, lemon

Ful Medamas

Next up was the fava beans. Andrew was very excited about them and suggested I make ful medamas, which I had never heard of but everyone else seemed to think was delicious. I poked around a bunch of recipes and ended up sort of deciding to follow all of them at once, since general consensus in all recipes was that it was incredibly easy. One recipe told me to soak my fava beans overnight, which I dutifully did. If I read the fine print on the opposite page, it would have been obvious this was only for dried fava beans.

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Fresh from a nice overnight soak

Once I figured out I didn’t need to cook them for two hours either, I became significantly more optimistic. I shelled them and put them in boiling water for about two minutes, and then peeled off the inside skins.

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Then I mushed them up with some lemon juice, a TB olive oil, some cumin, and salt and pepper. There were only about 3 spoonfuls of food, and it didn’t even look remotely like the picture. One of the recipes also recommended serving them with bread and a fried egg, which seemed like a good idea considering this was supposed to be my dinner.

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This is not even remotely what any of the pictures online looked like. Here’s what it’s supposed to look like:

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This guy’s turned out great, and he didn’t even use a recipe

Or this:

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CSA ingredients used: fava beans

Other ingredients used: bread, egg, cumin, lemon juice, olive oil

It’s worth exploring fresh fava beans further, but it seems likely that this dish is one of the few instances where you do a lot better with the canned than the fresh.

Spigarello Returns

As mentioned last week, I had a bit of a surprise the first time I bit into spigarello. I decided to try again, this time with a recipe. The internet has very, very few spigarello recipes. Serious Eats, our usual go-to, yields nothing, and NY Times cooking has only one entry for it. We ended up using this one.

You blanch the spigarello leaves and then drain them in a colander, trying to get them as dry as possible. Then you heat some oil in a frying pan and return them to the pan to brown a bit. Then you add a tsp minced shallot, a tsp minced garlic, and a few red chile flakes. Squeeze a little lemon juice and some honey over the top and they’re done. We had them with salmon and rice.

The browned parts were really nice, and the honey made a big difference, but even after all that they were still quite bitter.

CSA ingredients used: spigarello

Other ingredients used: salmon, rice, lemon, olive oil, honey, salt, pepper

Red Currant Cheesecake

At the end of the week, we still had a plate of gorgeous currants sitting in the refrigerator. We didn’t really know what to make with currants other than scones, but our friend Ben was coming over for dinner and it made more sense to make a dessert than an afternoon snack. Also, I had a sudden craving for cheesecake. Cheesecake is secretly one of my favorite desserts, but I rarely indulge in it because other people seem to find it unhealthy, or something.

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This recipe was from Organic Life. You start with two cups of crumbled ginger snap cookies, with you mush together with 2 1/2 TB sugar and 5 TB butter. Then you press it onto the bottom of a greased 9-inch springform pan. You make it in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, until the mixture is crispy and brown. Reduce the oven to 325.

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Next, in an electric mixer you mix together 12 oz goat cheese (really), 8 ounces cream cheese, and 1/2 cup buttermilk for 4-5 minutes until it’s smooth and fluffy. Gradually beat in 1/2 cup sugar and 4 eggs one at a time. Add the zest and juice of one lemon. Pour half of the mixture into the springform pan, add 1/4 cup red currants (we added 1/2 cup and could have stood to have more in there. Come on, Organic Life. It’s a red currant cheesecake.) Then you pour the rest of the batter on top and add some more currants.

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To make this, you have to stick the springform pan inside a roasting pan. In order to prevent water from seeping in, you wrap the base of the springform pan in silver foil. Then you pour enough water into the roasting pan to come 2/3 of the way up the springform pan.

The cake cooks for 1 hour and 20 minutes, and then has to cool for about 2 hours before you can eat it.

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CSA ingredients used: red currants (about half of them…stay tuned for scones next week…)

Other ingredients used: goat cheese, cream cheese, buttermilk, sugar, butter, ginger snaps, eggs, lemon

Next: Week 7!

The Week of 17 Vegetables, Part 2

As the week progressed and we gradually started to see the back of the refrigerator, the weather was still a blistering 90 degrees and humid. This presented a challenge for using up certain vegetables. For instance, we had a dire need to find a purpose for three enormous heads of cauliflower, but the dishes we were interested in cooking all involved turning on an oven, frying them in hot oil, or slathering them in cheese—all of which sounded terrible given the temperature outside. We decided to save the cauliflower for when it cooled off, and hoped they wouldn’t be sitting in the refrigerator until October.

There were still any number of other vegetables to be used up, including a cucumber, some broccoli, green beans, and potatoes, and various types of onions. We also still had sour cherries. It was so hot that no food sounded particularly appealing, but I decided that if I was going to eat at all it was probably going to be a cold soup. We found an avocado and cucumber soup on Serious Eats which was perfect for our purposes.

Avocado and Cucumber Soup

  1. Take 1 avocado, 1 diced cucumber, 2 chopped tomatillos, 1/4 cup of onion, 1 small seeded (or not…) serrano, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 cup of water and blitz them in a food processor. Put 2 teaspoons of cilantro on top.

CSA vegetables used: cucumber, white onion

Other ingredients used: avocado, tomatillos, 1 serrano chile, salt, water, cilantro

Grilled Chicken and Green Bean Salad

Next up were the green beans. Andrew found a recipe for grilled green beans from Serious Eats, and we decided to make it along with a grilled chicken. Andrew made a miso chicken and we grilled the green beans, tossed them with thin sliced red bell pepper, and slathered them in a miso dressing. The miso dressing was made from 3 TB dark brown sugar, 2 TB soy sauce, 2 TB white miso, 1 TB rice vinegar, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1/2 tsp sesame oil, 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, and 1/4 tsp ground white pepper.

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CSA vegetables used: green beans

Other ingredients used: chicken, red peppers, rice, miso, brown sugar, white miso, sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, crushed red pepper flakes, white pepper

Having broken the rules and tentatively waded back into Ottolenghi with last week’s kohlrabi recipe without any dire consequences, we were primed to do it again. Andrew tentatively suggested Ottolenghi’s Surprise Tatin for the potatoes, and I took one look at the artful and lovely picture of the finished product and latched on to the idea. We had all sorts of other rationalizations, including: once we make this, it’ll be great to have leftovers. Also: it only has nine ingredients, so how long could it take? The answer turned out to be all of Andrew’s afternoon, not to mention trips to multiple grocery stories attempting to locate the correct type of puff pastry.

Surprise Tatin

  1. Halve the tomatoes, drizzle them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and put them in a 275 degree oven for 45 minutes until they are nice and dry.
  2. Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 25 minutes and cut them into 1-inch thick disks.
  3. Saute the onions with oil and some salt for 10 minutes.
  4. Now it gets fun. Brush a 9-inch cake pan with oil and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  5. Cook the 3 TB sugar and 2 TB butter on high heat until it’s caramelized. Pour the caramel into the cake pan and tilt it around so that it covers the bottom. Scatter 3 sprigs worth of oregano leaves on the bottom.
  6. Lay the potato slices close together at the bottom of the pan, cut side down. At this point, Andrew discovered that 1 LB of potatoes was not enough to cover the bottom of the pan, and had to return to step 2 and repeat.
  7. In the little gaps between the tomatoes, tuck in the onions and tomatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add 5 oz of goat cheese, cut into slices and scattered over the top.
  8. Puff pastry time. Cut a disc of puff pastry 1 inch larger than the dimeter of the pan. Lay it over the tart and tuck in the edges down around the potatoes.
  9. At this point, if you’re exhausted and angry at the author, you can put it in the refrigerator for 24 hours and eat it later.
  10. Once it’s time to eat, bake the tatin in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and cook another 15 minutes. Then you remove it and let it sit for 2 minutes EXACTLY.
  11. This is the best part! Pull it out of the oven and stick an upside down plate on top. Now you “carefully but briskly” flip it over onto the plate and remove the pan.

CSA vegetables used: onions, potatoes

Other ingredients used: cherry tomatoes, sugar, butter, oregano, puff pastry sheets, goat cheese, salt, pepper.

As the most festive meal of the week, it seemed only fitting to cook a sour cherry pie to go along with the Surpise Tatin. Andrew has recently become enamored the baking column in Serious Eats written by Stella Parks, who goes by the pen name Bravetart. She had an old-fashioned dough recipe that he decided to try in place of his usual pie dough.

  1. Whisk together 8 ounces of flour, 1/2 ounce of sugar, and 4 grams of salt together in a bowl. Cut 2 sticks of butter into little 1/4 inch chunks and mix it all around. Then smoosh the butter with your fingers. Add 4 ounces of cold water.
  2. Roll the dough out into a 10 by 15 inch rectangle. Now you fold it up in a super complicated way that’s hard to get into without diagrams.
  3. Now you can roll it out and make a pie!
  4. To make the filling, take 2 lbs of pitted sour cherries, 1 ounce of lemon juice, 7 ounces of sugar, 3/4 teaspoons of kosher salt, and 1 1/2 ounces of tapioca starch and mix it together with a spatula. Pour it into the pie shell.
  5. Whisk 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, 1/2 ounce of heavy cream, and a pinch of salt together and brush on top of the pie.
  6. Bake the pie in the oven for an hour at 400 degrees. Cover it loosely with silver foil and then bake another 15 minutes.
  7. The pie will have to cool pretty considerably before it solidifies enough to eat.

CSA vegetables used: sour cherries

Other ingredients: flour, sugar, salt, butter, lemon juices, tapioca starch, egg, heavy cream.

After a weekend that involved baking both a tatin and a pie, the next night we were looking for something that required little to no effort to cook. We found it in the form of this Serious Eats recipe, and once again pulled out the wok to stir-fry on the grill.

Stir-Fried Beef with Broccoli and Oyster Sauce

  1. Take 1 LB of hanger steak, cut into 1/4 inch strips, 1 TB soy sauce, and 1 TB xiaoshing wine and combine in a bowl. Let marinade for a couple of hours in the refrigerator
  2. Combine another 1/4 cup of soy sauce, with 2 tsp corn starch and mix it all around. Add another 1/4 cup of xiaoshing wine, 1/3 cup of chicken stock, 1/4 cup of oyster sauce, 1 TB sugar, 1 tsp sesame oil.
  3. Mix 2 minced cloves of garlic, 2 tsp minced ginger, and 3 scallions in a bowl and set aside.
  4. Cut the broccoli into florets.
  5. Once the coals are good, start stir-frying. Beef goes in first, and is cooked for about 1 minute and then gets dumped in a bowl. Next in goes the broccoli, followed by the the garlic/ginger/scallion mixture and the sauce. At the end, the beef goes back in and everything gets stir-fried together.

CSA vegetables used: broccoli, spring onions

Other ingredients used: 1 lb hanger steak, soy sauce, xiaoshing wine, corn starch, chicken stock, oyster sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, ginger.

Next: Field Report, Weeks 5 & 6

The Week of 17 Vegetables: Part 1

We got back from our miniature July 4th vacation to Wisconsin having barely made a dent in the Week 5 CSA and immediately picked up the Week 6 box. After unpacking, we ascertained that we now had 17 different kinds of vegetables to contend with: head lettuce and arugula, two heads of kale, peas, carrots, vidalia onions, red onions, and spring onions, the remains of the napa cabbage, a pair of cucumbers, radishes, two heads of cauliflower, beets, green beans, new potatoes, fennel, and broccoli. Happily, we also had a pint of raspberries and a quart of tart cherries.

In previous weeks, we spent a great deal of time daydreaming about what the perfect culinary use was for, say, a head of broccoli. But with 17 vegetables crammed in the fridge, our strategy became something more like if you think of something, go make it right now! This led to some of our first forays into fermenting of the summer.

Kimchi

First up was the rest of the Week 4 Napa cabbage, which was mocking me from inside its Walgreens bag, though in an still fresh and crisp sort of way. We decided to do what we probably should have done in the first place and make kimchi. We used a recipe from David Chang’s Momofuku restaurant.

  1. Take a medium head (in our case, 1/3 of a gigantic head) of cabbage and cut it in half lengthwise, then into strips that are about an inch wide. Toss it with 1 TB sugar and 1 TB of salt. Let it sit overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Take 10 cloves of minced garlic, an equal amount of minced ginger, 1/4 cup kochukaru (Korean chili powder), 2 TB fish sauce, 1 tsp jarred salted shrimp, and another 1/4 cup of sugar and mix it together in a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup of julienned carrots and 1/4 cup of scallions.
  3. Drain the cabbage and add it to the brine, and then mix everything around. The recipe says it will reach peak funkiness in two weeks.

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    We’ll let you know how it tastes in about a week.

CSA ingredients used: Napa cabbage

Other ingredients used: non-CSA carrots, scallions, salted shrimp, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, kochukaru, sugar, soy sauce

Beet Kvass

The beets in particular left me feeling a little desperate—we pickled about seven quarts of them last year, and while tasty, they lingered in the fridge for months, which I guess is what pickles are meant to do, but they saturated me with the look, the smell, the taste of beets. I decided it was time to get creative and looked up how to make kvass, a lacto-fermented beverage of beets and whey (we had whey leftover from Saturday’s ricotta making). Kvass was originally made from fermented bread, and according to Tolstoy, Russian soldiers made it and carried it around with them in order to avoid various cholera epidemics. You can also make it with beets, although beet kvass seems to be more about digestive benefits, liver function, oxygenating your blood, balancing your electrolytes, and giving you increased energy and clarity.

For me, its main selling point was that it’s a beet recipe that doesn’t require you to turn on the oven for an hour (it was 90 that day). I figured that the worst thing that could happen was that it would be disgusting. Or, you know, kill me. I took this kvass recipe from The Nourishing Cook.

  1. Cut up four beets into little chunks.
  2. Put them in a jar, add 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1/4 cup of whey. Fill the rest of the jar with water. (Note: You don’t need whey to do this, you can just use extra salt instead. I just had some I was determined to use in something).
  3. Leave out for two days, and then put in the refrigerator.

Frankly, even if it didn’t taste good this would be a totally lovely thing to do with beets from a visual perspective. But after about a week, I did decide to try it. It tasted faintly of sea water, but with a little bit of a beety, tart fizz. I can’t speak to it’s restorative health qualities or abilities to prevent cholera, but it’s surprisingly refreshing.

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CSA vegetables used: beets

Other ingredients used: salt, water, whey

Dill Pickles

We got a little overexcited when we got the Nichols Farm Monday email telling us we were getting cucumbers in the week’s box, presuming that they’d be perfect for pickling. We had a good time pickling cucumbers last summer, experimenting with our first fermented (versus vinegar) pickles. And since we were on a farm in Wisconsin that was bursting with dillweed, we decided that the moment was right for some dill pickles. We were sad to discover upon opening the box on Tuesday that the cucumbers were just too large for pickles. Figuring that we shouldn’t let dillweed go to waste—the flowers were so pretty!—we somewhat irrationally added to our vegetables stores and picked up some farmer’s market pickling cucumbers on Wednesday.

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The white flower is Queen Anne’s Lace. Don’t use it in your pickles.

We used this Food Wishes recipe, video here.

  1. For every 2 pounds of pickling cucumbers (washed), use a handful of fresh, flowering dillweed.
  2. Add 80 grams of kosher or pickling salt to 8 cups cold fresh water. The ratio is pretty important, because the salt level makes sure the right kind of fermentation takes place. (That is, fermenting, not rotting.)
  3. When the salt has dissolved, add 4 cloves or more peeled garlic, 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, 3 or 4 bay leaves, and 4 whole cloves.
  4. Place everything in a crock and make sure the cucumbers are covered with liquid (we used a small plate to keep our cucumbers submerged).
  5. Let sit out at room temperature (max 75°F) for up to a week. Skim little bits of scum off the surface every day or every other day. Transfer to jars and refrigerate when they are the taste and texture you like.

CSA vegetables used: none…

Other ingredients used: pickling cucumbers, dillweed, salt, garlic, coriander, bay leaves, cloves

Kale Pizza with Mozzarella

Several years ago there was this amazing pizza place in our neighborhood called Great Lake. It was a tiny place, with barely room for 12 people to sit and was open maybe four days a week. It was owned by this slightly grumpy husband and wife team, with the husband making the pizzas and the wife manning the counter and phone.The pizza was unbelievably good: the crust was thin and tasted like the best bread you ever had. They made their mozzarella in-house and had a list of the farms that supplied the ingredients for the three types of pizza they might make on a given night. It was open for about a year or two when Alan Richman called it the best pizza in the country in GQ, and then it became impossible to eat there ever again. They closed after five years of slightly crazed Andersonville lines, amazing pizzas, and extreme grumpiness from customer and owners alike. Andrew’s been trying to recreate their pizzas ever since.

This one is based on a spinach pizza that he used to get at Great Lake. The spinach was extremely hardy, and would still have some heft after coming out of the oven. To recreate it at home, Andrew uses kale.

The recipe for pizza dough comes from the epic series of pizza doughs that Kenji Lopez-Alt has created for Serious Eats. This is his New York style crust, made very quickly in a food processor and allowed to rise overnight in the fridge.

  1. Take 4 1/2 cups flour, 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 TB kosher salt, and 2 teaspoons of yeast and pulse them in a food processor 3 of 4 times until they’re combined. Add about 3 TB of olive oil and 15 ounces of lukewarm water. Run the food processor until they’re combined, about 15 seconds, and then do another 15 seconds for good measure.
  2. Divide the dough up into 3 parts and put it in the refrigerator in 3 separate yogurt containers. Allow it to rest for at least a day. When it’s time to make pizza, pull out the dough and stick it in a bowl and let it proof for 2 hours before you start.

Andrew made the dough on Friday night and we had a pepperoni pizza for dinner on Saturday night and brought a pizza bianca (just olive oil and herbs, salt and pepper) along with us on Sunday for our picnic. For the kale pizza:

  1. Preheat a pizza stone in a 550°F oven for at least an hour.
  2. Slice garlic thin and sauté on low heat in copious amounts of olive oil until lightly browned. Take off the heat and let cool. You can toss in some red pepper flakes if you’d like.
  3. Clean and wash the kale. In the now empty skillet, throw the kale in the skillet with a splash of water and a bit of salt and let cook for about 1 to 2 minutes, until the kale has wilted but isn’t fully cooked. Drain and when it’s cool enough to handle, squeeze out the extra liquid.
  4. Spread your pizza dough with the garlic and oil. We had both fresh and dry mozzarella, so we used both on the pizza. Then cover with the kale. Slide onto the pizza stone and cook for 6 to 8 minutes.

 

CSA ingredients used: kale

Other ingredients used: flour, salt, sugar, olive oil, water, fresh mozzarella, garlic

Peas, Mozzerella, and Salami Salad (this is not an appealing name, but this is what it was)

On the side, we made a little salad-ish thing using the remaining English peas, some cut up pieces of salami from our weekend picnic, some chopped up pieces of dry mozzarella, and a super, super lemony vinaigrette. I was initially suspicious about the idea of chopped up lunch meat, but the lemon really made this and it was fantastic.

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CSA vegetables used: English peas

Other ingredients used: dry mozzarella, salami, lemon, olive oil

Head Lettuce Salad with Yogurt Dressing

The next day, we threw together a salad with the head lettuce, one of the cucumbers, a few radishes, and a yogurt-mint dressing.

The dressing came from the Food Network. You mix a cup of yogurt with 1/4 cup of fresh mint leaves that have been chiffonaded, 2 TB fresh lemon juice, 2 TB tahini, 1 TB olive oil, 1/4 tsp cumin, and 2 minced garlic cloves.

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CSA vegetables used: a cucumber, the head lettuce

Other ingredients used: yogurt, mint, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, olive oil

Penne with Lemon, Prosciutto, and Arugula

The final recipe of the day on Wednesday was mercifully simple. We’ve probably made it 50 times—you can prep the ingredients in the time it takes the pasta to cook. It’s from the Gourmet Cookbook.

  1. Cook 8 oz of pasta
  2. Once it’s done, toss it with 4 oz of sliced prosciutto, 1 LB of chopped arugula, 1 1/2 oz of parmesan cheese, and 3/4 teaspoon of lemon zest. Drizzle some olive oil over the top and add salt and pepper and call it a day.

CSA vegetables used: arugula

Other ingredients used: prosciutto, parmasan cheese, lemon zest, olive oil

Next: 6 vegetables down, 11 to go