Week 8: Elotes FTW

As predicted, the Week 8 box was….large. We had green cabbage, summer apples, corn, a truly massive quantity of broccoli, cauliflower, more carrots, more green beans, fennel, and more red currants. And a head of lettuce.

I had been waiting for the green cabbage for months. We’d been craving homemade sauerkraut since I had tried to make it last November and it got all moldy and we had to throw it out, and we had a brand new fermentation crock as a wedding present, along with fancy pickle weights that would theoretically prevent that from happening again.

Homemade Fermented Sauerkraut

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Moldiness aside, Sauerkraut is a actually easy to make. You cut up the cabbage and put it into a large bowl (or a fermentation crock, if you happen to have one!). You add about 3 TB of salt and knead it every 15 minutes for the next few hours, until you’ve produced enough liquid to cover the cabbage. In years past, the cabbage has sat in the refrigerator for a week or two before I get around to using it, making it pretty dry. This time I made it immediately, but I still didn’t get enough liquid out of it to cover the cabbage completely, so I made a brine of 1 cup water to 1 tsp salt and covered it with that.

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The trick is to get the cabbage to stay underneath the level of the water, and it wants to flat to the top. This recipe from Serious Eats recommended using some of the outer layers of the cabbage that you wouldn’t want to eat and putting those on top, and then putting the weights on top. It works like a dream!

The only downside is that this isn’t ready for 3 – 6 weeks.

CSA ingredients used: Green cabbage

Other ingredients used: water, salt

Pork Lettuce “Wraps”

The lettuce seemed like the next priority. We had some left over country-style pork chops   from the week before, and Andrew suggested that we make little lettuce rolls using some of the corn, sliced pork, leftover rice, and a dipping sauce.

The dipping sauce is 1 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup lime juice, 1/3 cup fish sauce, and 2 minced garlic cloves (It made way, way, more than I needed.)

 

I broke off the biggest leaves of lettuce and assembled them with sliced pork, corn, and rice.

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It immediately became clear that these were going to be impossible to eat, much less dip, because the lettuce leaves were not particularly inclined towards being rolled up. I gave up and threw everything together to make a salad instead, albeit one that had rice in it and a dipping sauce as dressing. It was a bit weird, but it got the job done.

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CSA ingredients used: lettuce, corn

Other ingredients used: pork chops, rice, water, garlic, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar

Grilled Elotes & Summer Squash Tacos

While musing about what to do with the first corn of the season that was properly celebratory, I came across this recipe for Elotes, or Grilled Mexican Street Corn. The picture at the top of the recipe was, shall we say, persuasive. It seemed a little indulgent to light the grill just to cook some corn, so we decided to grill the summer squash (from Week 6) and make tacos with a recipe I found at the blog Cookie and Kate.

While Andrew was lighting the chimney, I made the cheese mixture for the corn. It’s 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup feta cheese, 1/2 tsp ancho chile powder, 1 clove of minced garlic, and 1/4 cup of minced cilantro. Once the corn comes off the grill, you coat the corn with the topping, squeeze lime and chile powder over the top, and go to town.

These were unreal. They were among the best thing I’ve ever tasted, which I suppose based on the contents of the cheese mixture shouldn’t be shocking. After fretting while making them about how they would taste as leftovers, we devoured all five ears between the two of us in about two minutes.

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CSA ingredients used: corn

Other ingredients used: mayonnaise, sour cream, feta cheese, cilantro, garlic, chile powder.

The squash turned out okay too, but had nothing on the corn.  We put the grilled squash on flour tortillas and ate it with black beans, tomatoes, and an avocado chimichurri (2 tsp lime juice, 1 cup parsley, 2 cloves of garlic, 3 TB olive oil, 1 TB water, red pepper flakes, and a little bit of cilantro.) We didn’t have quite enough parsley, and I decided to compensate by adding a bunch more garlic. This was less than brilliant; avocado chimichurri sounds like a great idea but it was so garlicky as to be almost inedible.

CSA ingredient used: summer squash

Other ingredients use: tortillas, tomatoes, black beans, avocado, lime, parsley, garlic, olive oil, water, red pepper flakes, cilantro

Buddha Bowl

Having used up most of the fun ingredients, it was time to turn my attention to the cauliflower, carrots, and broccoli. I decided to get some tofu and make Buddha Bowls for Andrew and I to take with us to our various weekend engagements.

I baked the tofu, which was sort of fun. You have to press it for a bit to get the moisture out before you chop it up and throw it on a baking sheet to bake for 25 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

 

After that, I steamed carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli and added them to the bowl along with rice. The sauce was a peanut sauce from Brand New Vegan: 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup water, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 TB rice vinegar, 1 TB hoisin sauce, 1 tsp sriracha, 1/2 tsp chile garlic paste, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, and 1/3 cup peanut butter. It all went together in a saucepan and cooked for a few minutes until it was thickened.

I did not succeed in taking a picture of the buddha bowl itself, which is a shame, but this recipe is highly recommended.

CSA ingredients used: carrots, cauliflower, broccoli

Other ingredients used: rice, tofu, soy sauce, garlic, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce, sriracha, chile garlic paste, ginger, peanut butter.

Red Currant and Apple Chutney

By the end of the week, we’d used up almost everything except the fruit. We briefly entertained the idea of making a pork chops with an apple currant chutney, but upon remembering it take an hour and a half to make chutney, we decided to cook our pork chops and just eat them, and make chutney to have on something later in the week.

You slice up an onion and cook it for a bit in olive oil, and then let it caramelize (for 45 minutes or so). In a separate saucepan, you add three or four apples that have been cored and chopped and some red currants, and and 1/4 cup water. You simmer them over low heat for 30 minutes, and then add the onions, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and some salt.

It tasted pretty good! I even had it a few times on its own as a snack.

CSA ingredients used: red currants, apples, and onions

Other ingredients used: olive oil, water, brown sugar

Next: Let the pickling begin

Week 8: Where there’s smoke, there’s…cabbage?

During my New Hampshire family vacation, I found a renewed appreciation for sitting next to lakes and watching the sun set while drinking wine.

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It wasn’t quite a vacation from cooking—there were anywhere between 10 and 20 people eating dinner on any given night. My family’s level of trust in my cooking abilities seems to have grown significantly since I started blogging about all of the things Andrew and I cook together. The reality, however, is I don’t actually know how to “cook” at all, since the breakdown of our cooking ventures usually involves me measuring ingredients and throwing them in blenders while Andrew does the part that actually involves sticking food on a hot flame in a specific way until it tastes good.

 Nevertheless, I returned from vacation slightly more skilled at grilling meat for 20 people, and eager to jump back in to our cooking projects.

Pot-Roasted Artichokes with White Wine and Capers

This recipe comes from April Bloomfield’s A Girl and Her Greens cookbook. The plan had been to do something quick and easy, but we took a look at the recipe and couldn’t help ourselves. It was an especially silly choice considering that the recipe called for 18 artichokes and we only had 4.

The artichokes need to be “turned,” which sounds like its should be something really simple, like flipping them upside down. It’s not. To turn artichokes, you fill a bowl with water and squeeze in the juice of a lemon (or anything citrus). You throw the artichokes into the citrus water to prevent them from turning brown during the hour and a half it takes you to prep them. This is actually less of an issue if you only have four. You pluck off all of the green leaves, leaving only the softer, inner ones. Then you cut off about 1/2 inch of the stem and peal the remainder. Then you take about an inch off the tip as well. Now you are ready to cook them.

  1. Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large pot until it’s smoking. Stand the artichokes cut-side down in the oil for a minute, then reduce the heat to medium-low and add 2 garlic cloves and a teaspoon of salt. Cook everything until the garlic is nice and smelly, around 3 minutes.
  2. Pour in 1 1/2 cups of white wine, and cook for 25 minutes until everything is soft. Add 1 tablespoon of capers near the end.
  3. Once the artichokes are soft, bring the heat back up again and simmer all of the wine away. Add some mint and parsley (we didn’t have parsley). Once the wine is gone (sad) and the artichokes are dark brown (less sad), they’re ready.

CSA vegetables used: artichokes, garlic

Other ingredients used: white wine, capers, mint

It was a sort of pitiful looking bowl of 4 artichokes, but they were so delicious that we declared it was completely worth the effort and swore to make the same recipe again if we ever got more artichokes in the box.

Cucumber Soup with Avocado Toasts

I’ve discovered this summer that while there are about a billion recipes for cold cucumber soup. Nevertheless, it’s hard to find one substantial enough to be a real meal. This recipe from Melissa Clark seemed a little more interesting than usual. She recommended serving it with avocado on toast, which also sounded like an excellent idea.

  1. Blitz 1 lb peeled cucumbers, 2 cups of buttermilk, 1 clove of garlic, 2 anchovies, 2 scallions, 1/2 a jalapeno (we used a full serrano…oops), 1/2 teaspoon of sherry vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a food processor.
  2. Smoosh some avocado on toast.

CSA vegetables used: cucumbers, garlic

Other ingredients used: buttermilk, avocado, anchovies, scallions, serrano, sherry vinegar, salt.

Pickled Green Beans

The green beans had started to build up and we were now in possession of about 3 LBs of them. I decided that while I wasn’t sure the idea of a pickled green bean sounded very good, how they actually tasted was going to be a problem for another day. I froze 2 lbs  of beans and pickled the remaining pound, using this recipe from the New York Times.

We wanted to make these pickles shelf-safe, since the purpose of this entire process was to get them out of the refrigerator. While I’ve made a lot of pickles at this point, I’ve usually just stored them in the fridge until we ate them all. I’m a little frightened of the canning and sealing process, with all of the various sterilizing and sealing steps and the myriad of ways you can die if it doesn’t go well. Nevertheless, my desire to empty the fridge of green beans gave me a new courage to face the threat of botulism, so I got to work.

  1. First, you trim the green beans and stick them upright in the jar just to make sure they fit. Then you trim off anything too long so that there’s still 1/2 inch of room at the top. Then you dump everything out.
  2. If you want them to be shelf-safe, first you sterilize the jars in a giant pot of boiling water. After the jars are sterilized, you put the green beans back in and add 1 teaspoon of coriander, 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds, and few black peppercorns to each jar.
  3. Next, you combine 1 cup of white wine vinegar, 1 cup of sherry vinegar, 1 cup of water, 1 TB turbinado sugar, and 2 teaspoons of salt in a small pot and bring it up to a boil. We were pretty low on white wine vinegar, so I substituted rice vinegar. Then we ran out of that and I substituted more sherry vinegar.
  4. Once the liquid simmers for 2 minutes, pour it into the green beans and seal them up. Then they go back in the boiling water  bath for 10 minutes.

CSA ingredients used: green beans

Other ingredients used: rice vinegar, white wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, garlic, coriander, mustard seeds, peppercorns, turbinado sugar.

Michelle Obama & Ribs

Andrew was about to start a show downtown, which meant we wouldn’t be eating dinner together six days a week for a few weeks. We decided to celebrate our last chance to cook an elaborate meal  by grilling ribs, which we had bought from our AirBnB host on a pig farm in Wisconsin the previous month. It was also a chance to go on a vegetable rampage. We grilled the cabbage and the tomatillos while listening to the first night of the DNC Convention on NPR—because if you are going to be a demographic cliche, you might as well really embrace it.

Andrew repurposed our grill for smoking—using this method stolen from Eater. We made a little ring of coals and sprinkled wood chips on top. We found some little grill lighting cubes which we used to light the coals, and then let them slowing catch. Then we jerry-rigged a little smoking rack on top of the grill and put the ribs in. 3 hours later, we had smoked ribs.

Once the ribs were done, we lit a new set of coals and grilled the cabbage and the tomatillos, onions, serranos, and garlic for salsa verde.

Salsa Verde

To make the salsa verde, we blitzed the tomatillos, onions, serranos, and garlic together in the food processor, along with some cilantro. This is a recipe I’ve used a lot of times, but I’ve never grilled everything before. It had a paler, mellow cooler than usual but it tasted incredible. Sadly, it also didn’t have any of the many preservatives that usually come in salsa, so we only got through about half of it before it went bad (three weeks later).

CSA vegetables used: tomatillos, onions

Other ingredients used: serranos, garlic, cilantro

Grilled Cabbage with Spicy Lime Dressing

We also made a spicy lime dressing to go along with the cabbage, from The Kitchn. The dressing was 1/4 cup of lime juice, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of fish sauce, 2 garlic cloves, 1/4 cup of cilantro leaves, salt, 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon of sugar.

CSA ingredients used: cabbage

Other ingredients used: lime, olive oil, fish sauce, garlic, cilantro, cayenne, sugar

Next: Andrew’s playing a show and can’t weigh in, so I cook a really random collection of dishes.