CSA Week Five: Roasted Corn Salsa and Chowder

August 5, 2012 § 8 Comments

The haul:
yellow squash
leaf lettuce
the first eggplants – ratatouille time!

It was one of those weeks work-wise, and we had some fun too that took us out of the house at mealtime. There is not much I like better than fresh summer corn on the cob, yet somehow we managed to still have neglected ears all boiled and foil-wrapped in the fridge waiting for some love at the end of the week.

Thank goodness for this recipe (see also this recipe) and a cast iron skillet. I adapted things a little bit to avoid turning on the broiler and to fit what I had pepper-wise. This recipe also didn’t call for fresh cilantro, which is good because my first sowing of seedlings totally evaporated into thin air and my second sowing of seedlings is still cilantro-babies.

(Pan) Roasted Corn Salsa
adapted from Marisa McClellan’s
3 half-pints plus a little extra

  • four ears of corn, or about 1.5 cups of kernels
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes – I halved or quartered all my ripe Sungold cherry tomatoes from the garden and a couple miscellaneous Tumbling Tigers and New Yorkers
  • 1/2 cup chopped white onion
  • 1 diced jalapeño*
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds, ground or crushed
  • 3/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 T lime juice
  • 1/3 cup sugar (or less, to taste*)

I had already boiled my corn, but you could start from raw. Stand the cobs up on a cutting board or in a shallow pan, with a corn cob holder on the top end if you have it. Cut the kernels from the cobs with a sharp knife – serrated worked well for me. Roast them in a dry skillet for a few minutes, stirring only every couple of minutes, until the kernels are browned on a few sides. Then you just mix in all the rest of the ingredients (in another pan, not your cast iron skillet), bring to a simmer for 10 minutes, and water bath process for 15 minutes with 1/2 inch headspace.

The salsa turned out beautiful and tangy. *It was too sweet for my taste so I would reduce the sugar next time, and it wasn’t super spicy but my little pepper plant had only put out the one jalapeño so far. Huevos rancheros!

And then our next box came and we got more corn. And I was too tired after a long day at work to fire up the grill. And then my work schedule got even worse, so those new ears sat on the counter… and sat… and sat… until they were looking a little dry and shrively. Oh, the shame. I figured I could at least try to plump up those kernels again, even if they would never be as good as they once were. Maybe I’ll boil them…

Roasted Corn and Shrimp Chowder
adapted from Mark Bittman
six to eight servings

  • six ears of corn, plus I pulled out the four leftover cobs I had in the freezer from the salsa
  • 4 T butter, oil, or a mix
  • 1/2 an onion
  • 4 T flour
  • 1 pint cream
  • about 2 tsp Cajun spice mix – purchased, or make your own with help from everyone’s favorite New-Englander-turned-Southerner – bam!
  • 1 pound uncooked shrimp, peeled – optional

Cut the kernels off and roast them as above. Meanwhile, cover the cobs with water in a large stockpot and bring it to a boil. Boil for about thirty minutes, then let it sit until you are ready to make the rest of the soup. Sweat the onions in the butter in a large pot until they are soft. Add the flour and stir constantly for a few minutes to take the raw edge off, then add the cream and the corncob stock minus the cobs (I had about six cups but use however much you have, you can always adjust later). Add the Cajun spice mix – I used about 2 tsp of mine, but taste as you go to get the right spiciness and saltiness. Bring the soup to a boil, and add the roasted corn kernels, stirring to make sure the flour is fully dissolved. The soup will thicken a bit, and it will boil up easily because of the cream. Bring it back down to a simmer and let it simmer for as little as 10 minutes or as long as you want to get it to the thickness you like – this is where you can let some of the water boil off if your stock was thin, but mine worked just fine as is. Add the shrimp just before serving and cook just until pink.

This New Orleans variation on a classic corn chowder was right up our alleys (Lester is a Southern gentleman, after all, but New England is home now) and made up for neglected corn. I am sure it would be extra amazing with fresh ears, or even frozen. And yes you can make it healthier and even vegetarian or vegan by nixing the shrimp and the cream but sometimes when it’s summer produce season you have to celebrate.

What do you do with past-its-prime corn?

Roasted Corn Salsa on Punk Domestics

CSA Week Four And a Half: Salade Nicoise

July 24, 2012 § 6 Comments

This makes me so, so happy. Straight from the garden to the dinner table.

Salade Nicoise
based on Julia’s, of course, proportions to taste

  • green beans – CSA
  • boiling/new potatoes – CSA
  • lettuce – would have been from the CSA if we didn’t buy romaine for something else and forget to use it! (that recipe = grill, eat with dressing and parmesan)
  • hard boiled eggs
  • cherry tomatoes – garden

Vinaigrette (1/2 cup)
Whisk or mix in food processor until emulsified:

  • 1 T white wine vinegar
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 6 T olive oil
  • basil – garden
  • chives – garden

Blanch the beans in boiling salted water until they are fork-tender (just a few minutes) then shock in cold water. Boil the potatoes until easily pierced with a fork. When just cool enough to handle, slice and toss with the vinaigrette. Combine with all remaining ingredients and toss. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve with paté and cornichons.

CSA Week Four: Beet Gazpacho

July 19, 2012 § 10 Comments

The haul:
more beets (eep!)
red lettuce
new potatoes
yellow squash

I’m so excited that every week there is more and more variety in my CSA box. Not that the bunnies have any complaints about getting lots of greens, but I had a feeling that things would get more diverse as the summer got into full swing and they definitely have. There’s only one problem: my refrigerator is too full of beets to put any more veggies in. It’s true, I confess it: I have not been able to keep up with the beets. I’ve pickled them, and borschted them, and grated them for salad. But since I’m the only beet eater (beeter?) in the house, I just wasn’t eating them fast enough.

However! I believe I have a solution to my problem! As usual, Mother Nature was pretty smart, and she decreed that beets and cucumbers would be available to me at about the same time. And that that same time would coincide with a heat wave in New England that would make me very reluctant to turn on any heat-producing devices such as stoves, and would make me crave tangy sour refreshing things (like epic pickles… stay tuned). Oh yeah, and I was hungry NOW.

+ Cucumbers
+ Cold
+ Tangy
+ Now
Beet Gazpacho
It’s simple math, really. Makes about 4-6 servings.

  • two large beets, any color, scrubbed but not cooked or peeled
  • a similar quantity of cucumber, three small-medium in my case
  • about 1 cup of leftover bread, stale or lightly toasted
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, or to taste
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper depending on your spice tolerance
  • salt and pepper
  • water (ice cold if you’re thinking ahead)

Chop the vegetables into big chunks. Throw everything in your blender, adding a little less water than you think you’ll need because you can always add more later. Blend until completely pureed. Taste and adjust: everyone has their own Perfect Gazpacho Ratio (PGR) of oil and vinegar, and mine is about here.

Optional garnishes: finely chopped cucumber, grated beets, yogurt, croutons, parsley, hard boiled egg

Always better to let soups sit and blend (and chill in this case) but this was pretty darn good straight out of the blender. I love the earthy sweetness you can bring out of beets, but sometimes it’s fun to take them in the other direction and let them be a fresh summery vegetable like in this recipe. Enjoy!

Any other ideas for using up lots of beets? What is your Perfect Gazpacho Ratio?

CSA Week Three: Face-To-Face With Fennel

July 8, 2012 § 6 Comments

The haul:
fennel bulb with stems and fronds
beets with greens
purple kale
red lettuce
snap peas
yellow squash

One of the many benefits of a CSA (or shopping at farmers’ markets in general), you know what your food actually looks like. I had never seen fennel fronds before! Whatever shall I do?

Fennel Frond Hazelnut Pesto
I got the basic recipe from Recipe, Interrupted and Melissa Clark.

My fennel was super leafy so I had about three loosely packed cups of fronds. I used three small to medium cloves of garlic, 3/4 cup grated parmesan loosely packed, and about 5/8 cup of olive oil. I didn’t have any pine nuts and they are really expensive, but I did have the best-hazelnuts-ever Mom sends me in care packages so I used about half a cup of those.

  • Chop nuts, garlic, cheese, and oil in a food processor.
  • Add coarsely chopped fennel fronds.
  • Add kosher salt and pepper to taste, and maybe a splash of lemon juice.
  • Freeze in an ice cube tray whatever you don’t immediately scoop up with bread (or eat for dinner that night).

As you can tell from the immediate bread-scooping, this turned out really well! The fennel flavor was very mild so I would consider using even less oil and nuts next time. I put it on homemade sweet potato gnocchi with the leftover potatoes from the aloo matar last week.


Beet-Fennel Salad
For the bulb, I made a simple slaw (or salade composée if I am being fancy, which I always am) with:

  • one small thinly sliced fennel bulb (save the stems for stock)
  • three washed but not peeled raw beets, grated
  • juice and zest of one orange, plus a splash of lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • thyme from my enthusiastic little bush in the garden

Toss. Eat. I forgot to take a picture, but it looked like you might imagine: magenta. Tasty for dinner on a night when it was too hot to cook.

The yellow squash from this week and the rest of last week’s zucchini got stir-fried in a little sesame oil for a Korean-style rice bowl with kalbi beef and stir-fried snowpeas from the garden. The key component is gochujang, the bright red hot pepper sauce. Not shown in this picture: purple aka shiso leaves (a.k.a. red perilla). Rainbow dinner!


CSA Week Two: Attempts at Indian Home Cooking (Or, What To Do With All Those Greens)

July 7, 2012 § 1 Comment

So we might have just picked up Week Four, but anyway here’s Week Two – no canning this time around, somehow!

The haul:
Mesclun that I traded for more zucchini
Bibb lettuce
Green beans
Red beets
Swiss chard

The food:

  • More watermelon feta arugula salad. No, really, this time we finally finished the watermelon.
  • Borscht.
  • Zucchini bread – from Joy of Cooking, made with the world’s greatest hazelnuts (thanks Mom!). This one did not last long enough to get its picture taken.
  • Mom’s green beans. This is the best recipe for green beans ever invented. Ready? Saute some shallots. Saute some bacon. Blanch and shock then saute the green beans. Mix them all together. I could eat this for days straight.
  • Saag murgh (along these lines but murgh=shrimp) made with spinach, chard greens and stems, and beet greens. I pureed the greens and then added the blanched chard stems and the shrimp at the end, with some yogurt. Served with aloo matar (along these lines) made with sweet potatoes and served with my new favorite find from the Indian grocery store, tamarind sauce like restaurants put on samosas.


CSA Week One: Borscht-y Pickled Beets

June 29, 2012 § 4 Comments

I picked up my first share from my first ever CSA! I actually picked it up more than a week ago now, but I wanted to make sure I liked how the recipe turned out first 🙂 A CSA (community sponsored agriculture – like buying a fraction of a farm) share was my birthday present from Lester this year. I may have hinted strongly that that’s what I wanted, because I’m sure most guys don’t buy most girls vegetables for their birthday. But then again, Lester is not most guys and I am not most girls, so I don’t think he was a bit surprised.

The haul:
Red beets (and I bought extra goldens)
Swiss chard

First off, I made strawberry jam using Pomona’s Universal Pectin, my new best friend, and only a cup of sugar to four cups of mashed strawberries. I mashed them with my hands, which was highly therapeutic and also looked like a scene from a strawberry axe murderer movie. I won’t even post the recipe because I just followed the directions in the Pomona box, and it was that simple. One of the jars unsealed (my first one so far in my whole year of canning) so we ate that one the next day. It tasted like strawberries. Just strawberries. Did I mention I love Pomona pectin?

Then I made a crustless quiche with the beet greens and chard, some cheese, Cajun spice, and some Andouille. The deliciousness of this is self-explanatory.

More watermelon-feta-arugula salad. Somehow there is still more watermelon.

Finally, pickled beets. I love beets in almost any form, but I really love borscht. Yes, my Eastern European Jewish roots are showing. I wanted to try to capture the flavors of borscht but in a form I could put in a jar without a pressure canner. So, I used Joy of Cooking’s basic pickled beet recipe and added what I considered to be borscht-y flavorings. I’m sure there are as many versions of borscht as there are Eastern European grandmothers, but I am a big fan of dill in mine, and some tang from the vinegar. Here goes!

Borscht-y Pickled Beets
Makes 3 pints

8 oz golden beets plus 16 oz red beets, or any combo making up 1.5 pounds
6 oz onions (I had sweet)
2 1/4 cups cider vinegar
3/4 cup water
2/3 cup white sugar
1 T dried dill weed
1 t whole black peppercorns
1 t caraway
1/2 t garlic powder
1 t kosher salt

  • Boil the beets until they are fork-tender, 15-45 minutes depending on the size.
  • Cool in an ice water bath to stop cooking, then slip off the skins.
  • Quarter the beets then slice them about 1/4 inch thick. Do the same with the onions.
  • Bring to a boil the vinegar, water, sugar, and spices (I put them straight in the pot with the vinegar).
  • Pack beets and onions into prepared jars then ladle over them the hot vinegar mix, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
  • Process 30 minutes. Yes, that is a long time. Make sure your water level stays high enough!

I plan to eat these cold, mixed with a spoonful of yogurt or sour cream, for a summery side. You could also heat them with some chicken or beef broth and even add potatoes and carrots for a heartier soup in the winter.

How does your (actual or inner) grandmother make borscht, or pickle beets?

Borscht-y Pickled Beets on Punk Domestics

Watermelon Jam

June 18, 2012 § 16 Comments

I love watermelon. I could eat a lot in one sitting. Like, a lot. But I had an entire large watermelon that I got for another project (stay tuned) and Lester and I had enough to eat plenty, make a giant watermelon-feta-arugula salad for a party, and still have a ton left.

Therefore, watermelon jam. Who knew? I got the idea from Food in Jars but this recipe is adapted from the Heirloom Watermelon Jelly from Put ‘Em Up. I picked this recipe because it had the least sugar of any I found, and I like watermelons but not watermelon Jolly Ranchers…and I am now officially in love with Pomona’s Universal Pectin. First off, it has an awesomely old-timey name. More importantly, it lets you use smaller amounts of sugar than for other jams and jellies, and you don’t cook the jam for very long at all, so I think in this recipe it lets the freshness of the watermelon really shine through. I don’t own Put ‘Em Up (yet!) but fortunately Google Books has this recipe as part of the free excerpt, so head on over there and check it out. I made a few adaptations, below.

flesh of less than half of a 12-15″ spherical watermelon = 4 cups puree*
1/2 cup bottled lime juice (the original used lemon, but for bottled the acidity is interchangeable)
1 cup sugar
2 T Pomona pectin
2 T calcium water from the Pomona box
a little butter to prevent foaming

*I pureed the watermelon in my Ninja blender (love that thing) then ran it through my food mill – thanks Mom! – to remove the seeds and get a smoother puree. I did not strain it further, and I like the opacity and texture of the end result. Make popsicles with any leftover watermelon puree, except the amount you drink with a little vodka and grapefruit seltzer while doing the following:

1. Mix the pectin and sugar well in a separate bowl.
2. Bring puree to a boil in a large pan.
3. Add lime juice, calcium water, and butter.
4. Add the pectin-sugar mix in a slow stream to the boiling puree, stirring constantly. I had a fair amount of pectin clumps (didn’t follow my own step 1) but I was able to break up most of them with the back of the mixing spoon.
5. Bring back to a boil, then turn off the heat and let it sit for five minutes, skimming the foam occasionally.
6. Fill prepared jars with 1/4 inch headspace and process for 10 minutes.

The original says it makes about 4 cups. Mine filled 5 half-pints (5 cups) plus enough for my toast the next morning.

The result? Unexpectedly amazing. It was light, sweet-tart, and the perfect soft spreadable texture. I might even put in more lime next time, but it’s pretty perfect as is.

Serving suggestion: for breakfast on the back porch listening to the birds and getting a little bit of sun so that even if you have to go in to work on a weekend, it is still a good day.


Watermelon Jam on Punk Domestics

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