CSA delivery, Sept 16, 2011

September 21, 2011

Yes another trip to the farm for a bag full of fresh goodies! Today’s harvest included beets, more tomatoes of various shapes sizes and colors, poblanos, Diablo peppers, onions, jalapeno, corn, eggplant and a bell pepper. Sadly the summer crops are waning, the cool nights not conducive to flavor or growth, but the winter crops – squashes, cauliflower and more are not ready. So we will indulge ourselves in this last tomato harvest.

Today, I am making a Kamut (grain), flagelot (french bean) and tomato salad with a tarragon thyme vinaigrette and some green onions. this is truly one of the best things I have eaten in a long time. The tarragon, Dijon and tang of the vinegar was so good next to the nutty hints from the kamut. The flagelots offered a starchiness, while the fresh tomato was so bright next to these flavors. OK, without sounding too much like a food critic, this was really good!

I smoked corn over mesquite in my wok, resulting in the house smelling incredibly like bacon, to toss with black beans, a jalapeno, one of the onions and a little olive oil – smokey sweetness, starchy black beans and the kick of the pepper – a new favorite salsa/side dish.
We had a herbed goat cheese stuffed shrimp with a fresh tomato sauce. Creamy cheese, acidic tomatoes and sweet shrimp were decadent together.  Eggplants are going in Indian eggplant and potato stew loaded with spices. The beets – perhaps I will try pickling them, or just roast them to enjoy as is. I am the only one eating them, so my choice! The rest of the jalapenos are going to be stuffed with goat cheese, corn and green onions, topped with a grilled pepper and tomato sauce.

There really isn’t enough week in the week to eat all of these goodies, and my freezer is full! That doesn’t stop us from scarfing down everything as soon as it is done (sorry no pictures this week – guess we were extra hungry). I hope you are enjoying the last of the summer crops, perhaps starting to think apples and pumpkins, and trying new combinations too.

Bon Appetit!

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Aug 26 2011 CSA delivery

September 2, 2011

What a harvest it was this week! Tomatoes – heirlooms, cherry, plum and beefsteaks. Corn, zucchini, beets, carrots, mizuna, eggplant, cukes, peppers and a jalapeno. Beautiful “bouquet” of colors and flavors!

Harvest for August 26, 2011

Where to start…..well the tomatoes looked fabulous and were perfect for a tomato tart with a cornmeal crust. Onions, cheeses,scallions line the middle of a cornmeal crust, topped with sliced heirlooms and baked. How pretty, delicious and a perfect lunch treat – think super fancy pizza!

tomato tart

The eggplant was sauteed with chickpeas, peanut butter and red onion and garam masala for a wonderful vegetarian dish with tons of flavor. Oh, yes, I am starting a pescatarian (fish eating vegetarian) diet to feel healthier, perhaps lose a few pounds and experiment for my clients, building a vast resource of tried vegan/vegetarian recipes. This stew was a keeper!
Corn is always best as is – we chose to grill it naked, producing a wonderfully nutty, condensed texture and flavor from the corn – almost popcorny, but still juicy. Our new favorite way to have corn on the cob!
A mizuna salad with dried cranberries, toasted pecans and a pomegranate vinaigrette was delightful, sweet, bitter, and a unique addition to dinner.
Sunday, Irene struck knocking power out by 10:30AM. Luckily, some of the tomatoes ended up roasted and pureed with champagne vinegar, bread crumbs and garlic for a roasted gazpacho – my new favorite recipe for this cold summer soup. Topped with cukes and pepper, perfect for power outages!
So now the grill is our main cooking tool. Fish delivery on Tuesday offered 2 pounds of dabs. Couldn’t freeze it (still no power) so a pan was placed on the grill, oil heated and a cornmeal crusted dab swam in the hot oil. Grilled zucchini, carrots (wonderful roasted on the grill) corn on the cob and gazpacho finished this meal.
Zucchini was shredded by hand and sauteed with garlic, the jalapeno and scallions. Topped with pepper jack cheese, a delightful take on hash, for which this brunch recipe had eggs poached on top of this mixture, but no eggs in the house this week. Besides, this was dinner…
Leftovers sufficed until Thursday when the power returned, and the cherry tomatoes were roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper for use in a tossed pasta. (not creative, I know, but so much to catch up on this week). Beets were roasted with a little herbs de provence and olive oil, dressed with a sour cream orange dressing and topped with toasted walnuts. Dinner party worthy, with fresh flavors from the dressing, earthy dark flavors from the roasted beets, and a slight floral note from the lavender in the herbs. Simple, elegant and so healthy! A vegetarian chili will finish up the remaining pepper, the black beans and tofu I bought for another dish, and lot’s of spices.
Can’t wait to see what we get tonight!Happy Labor Day to all….and good eating!

You thought I forgot, or was lost in the cornfields….perhaps taken away by a ground hog with a vengence, but I just got really busy this past week. Sadly the week of July 29 was a bounty of zucchini, corn, peppers, jalepeno, eggplant, mezuna, green beans and more summer squash. I needed to step out on this one and resorted to a favorite standby – grilled veggies. With fish, delish. Leftovers ended up in a lasagna with a little goat and parm cheese (trying to clean the fridge out, you know) The mezuna ended up in a stir-fry with leftover smoked chicken, carrots from the CSA ( I think the week before?) onions and the mezuna. Red curry sauce made this dish spicy and colorful.
The week of Aug. 5th, corn, beets, radishes, a pepper, carrots, more zucchini, cherry tomatoes, arugula, kale  an eggplant and cukes arrived.

Saturday was spent creating and cooking. A roasted tomato sauce with the pepper and garlic roasted in EVOO, salt, pepper and rosemary. Pureed and to the freezer.

Roasted Tomato Sauce

Zucchini ended up in a chocolate buttermilk cake that was moist and rich, no hint of a veggie inside. A caramel icing topped this sheet pan cake to be shared with family. The beets were caramelized in orange juice and maple syrup and cooked down. Then a little triple sec added, again cooked down until syrupy. This was added to the middle of a bundt pan cake with walnuts and baked. Wonderful dense cake with a unique twist from the beets. However the beets did stick a bit on the bottom and broke the cake, but that’s ok – this one was for us…..glazed with a little of the caramel icing leftover from above cake. The beets were sweet, adding nice color when you cut the cake.

pound cake with beets on top made in a bundt pan.

The carrots were cooked with a leek, broth and harissa, a red chili pepper and spice mix paste used in a lot of African foods. Wonderful flavors and heat, with the fresh carrot taste just beaming through the soup. Corn will be enjoyed in a salad with the arugula, radishes, cukes and some tuna, perhaps with a lemon vinaigrette. And a glass of wine….which should be a nice Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay, but will more than likely be something red. I think there is a bottle of Cab Franc open.
The eggplant? hmmmm  need to think on that – one is not enough for moussaka, but it is a large enough one to have twice. May eggplant fries with our steaks tomorrow? We’ll see.

Next week we are giving our share to my in-laws as we won’t be able to pick up ourselves. But I will be back to tell you all more the following week, and may have some great food stores from Maine! Is it blueberry season yet? Have a great week, grill, eat local and enjoy! Peaches are right around the corner!

This Friday afternoon, the good farm provided us with corn on the cob, beans, squash in several sizes and species (zucchini, crooked neck, summer squash and patty pan), carrots, and cucumbers.

I had a few spring onions left from last week, some haddock and fresh basil. I decided to make a fish stuffed patty pan squash. I sauteed the onions, then stirred in a chopped small tomato, 1/2 cup baby spinach, 1/2 cup panko, 5 fresh basil leaves, the juice of 1/2 orange and 1/2 teaspoon of cherry wood smoked salt. Soften a large patty pan squash in the microwave or by boiling 3-5 mins, scoop guts out and stuff with above mixture. Bake wrapped in foil at 400F for 15-18 mins. Delicious!

Stuffed Pattypan Squash

Inside the squash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OK, good start. The next day, I needed to use some of the squash. I layered sliced crook neck and green zucchini on top of a lemon thyme biscuit I crumbled in the bottom of a small baking dish with chopped scallions, a little cheddar cheese, and sliced tomatoes. I topped it with a custardy sauce of egg, milk, and chicken stock that I steeped fresh tarragon in, and added some chopped Brie. (OK, so I was using up some leftovers, shoot me). I crumbled the last biscuit on top, and baked covered for about 20 mins. Uncovered for 10-15 mins more until the custard had set. Delicious! Even good reheated the next day.
Tonight, roasted carrots and fennel (I was supposed to be making a blueberry kohlrabi and fennel salad, but couldn’t find kohlrabi), cod and the corn on the cob. As for the beans, I am still figuring out what to make and the mini cuke was eaten at lunch with some radishes. A dear friend dropped off more beans, 2 cucumbers and tomatoes from his garden…..I need to start getting really creative with these squash and beans. Fried green tomatoes and crook neck squash may be in order with my smoked chicken Wednesday.
Well another week in farm fresh produce. Hope your week is going well, eating better and enjoying the local harvest too. Bon Appetit!

Wow, the season is flying and we keep seeing amazing produce fresh from the farm. This week the farm gave us mezuna, shell peas, garlic scapes, green beans, strawberries, arugula, radishes and zucchini/summer squash. As there weren’t many strawberries, those will stay in my cereal bowl. The green beans will be sauteed and enjoyed next to the fish I will pick up tonight (the other half of farm fresh in our house).

Garlic scapes. Ummm…..yeah. Long strands of green with a little flower looking end to it.

Mezuna and garlic scapes


I needed to look this one up. I found out this is the top of the garlic (grows from the bulb) and is actually edible. Using it to impart a milder garlic flavor to dishes, I found out the most common use was in a pesto. I only had 4 strands, and couldn’t make enough pesto to coat a piece of toast, so I decided to chop them up and use as I would garlic. The mezuna is a green that can be eaten as a salad or tossed into dishes much like spinach, kale or swiss chard. It wilts quickly, is mild in flavor and has a very delicate leaf to it. Using some leftovers, I decide to do a sautee of the scapes, 1/2 chopped white onion, 2 ears of corn off the cob, 1/2 jicama chopped, and 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes in a little butter. Add a little salt and pepper, fresh basil and then the mezuna at the end – delicious and colorful. A perfect side dish to the egg stuffed meatloaf I made the night before.

Mezuna sautee

Egg stuffed meatloaf with veggies


Next – the peas were shelled, and pasta cooked. A little vegetable broth, lemon juice and zest, fresh basil (I wanted to do mint, but not a favorite of my husbands) and shallot were sauteed. We had some smoked salmon from Alaska we had been saving (it was canned, don’t get grossed out) so I decided to add that in to the pasta mix with the peas. Top with a little grated Asiago – yum! On the side, I had an arugula salad with orange sections, pecans and an almond oil vinaigrette and two very happy people for dinner. The lemon countered nicely with the smoked salmon, and the peas were nice bright green and delicious.
As for the zucchini – still debating whether to do a pancake, sautee it , roast, grill, or cut it into long strands like pasta, eaten raw. The radishes I love anyway, but was told by a fellow CSA’er that they are good roasted. I may have to try that one. I know the French sautee radishes in butter, so why not. In the meantime – get to your local farm stand, create your own delicious-ness, and please share your recipes and ideas, or any questions with me at Home Plate Advantage….I love to hear what others are doing out there. Bon Appetit!

So I have joined a CSA for veggies and a shared fish share thru www.capeannfreshcatch.org/. I chose the 2 lbs of filets option every other week for the summer. Today I will pick up my Dabs from the F/V Sabrina Marie. My what? What the heck is a Dab? I know cod, flounder, halibut. I know Mahi Mahi, grouper, and Baramundi. But Dabs? Well a quick Google search tells me that a Dab is like a flounder. In fact it is part of the flounder family. It is a smaller, flat fish, typically found near UK. Hmmmm so where did the Sabrina Marie go fishing?

Any way, the nice people at Cape Ann supply a recipe to be tried for this fish. The fishermen like their Dabs simple. A little flour and pan fried. I decided, based on time and lack of red peppers, to do a simple flour/egg/flour coating and pan fry. I served my fish with a chickpea and apricot salad. May I just say this little known fish gives a huge punch of flavor – delicious! Tender, nice white fish flavor, not fishy, but not bland. Good texture and needed nothing extra to enjoy it. As we received 2 pounds, half went in the freezer for another time. In case you are still curious – the supplied recipe follows (and may be made with the other half of the fish). I am sure I will try this at a later date and will report back. Can’t wait to see what next delivery brings. Eat more fish, it’s good for you and just plain good!

Dabs with with a red pepper
mayonnaise…

1 7- to 8-ounce red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Large pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk
2 1/2 to 3 cups fresh breadcrumbs made from crustless French bread
4 5- to 6-ounce skinless thin fish fillets
2 tablespoons (or more) butter
2 tablespoons (or more) olive oil

Using on/off turns, chop bell pepper in processor until juices form.
Transfer to small sieve set over bowl; let drain 10 minutes. Mix next
4 ingredients in small bowl. Stir in 1/2 cup bell pepper. Season
mayonnaise with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead.
Cover and chill.
Mix flour and next 2 ingredients in pie dish. Whisk egg and milk in
another dish. Place breadcrumbs in third dish. Sprinkle fillets with
salt and pepper. Coat each side with flour, then egg mixture, then
breadcrumbs, covering completely.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large
skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches if necessary, add
fish to skillet. Sauté until just opaque in center and crust is golden
brown, adding more butter and oil as needed, about 4 minutes per side.
Serve fillets with red pepper mayonnaise.

Herb Gardens

June 4, 2010

I am not a gardener by any stretch – that is why there are farmers markets! But I do dabble in herb pots. This past weekend I planted my patio pots and have a little forest of flavor growing beautifully. Basil, sage, pineapple sage, lavender, rosemary, thai basil and tarragon. Now my job is to prepare wonderful dishes using these green gems!
Pineapple sage is my first mission as it is growing the fastest. I have read that the leaves are great to decorate plain cakes with, which sounds pretty. But why not use this delicately scented herb in a salsa – say a pineapple salsa over fish? Or in a pineapple sorbet? I bet they would taste great in a mixed green salad for a hint of flavor. Or cooked under the skin of chicken – adding that “pretty factor”.
Tarragon of course is wonderful on fish, chicken and in egg dishes, combined with mustards, and over veggies. Peas, shallots and pasta would be a light summer dish to enjoy. A light fish chowder using tarragon and mushrooms sounds appealing. Perhaps even as a unexpected twist in fruit salad?
Thai basil has a more anise/licorice flavor to it than italian basil. It blends well with curry dishes and other asian flavored dishes, but also with ginger. Perhaps a ginger thai basil infused vodka over ice? or in a sorbet? A cool cucumber salad with sesame oil and thai basil could be good too.
Lavender is one of my favorite new flavors. Herbes de Provence has long been used in french cooking, but lavender lends itself to lemonade, ice tea and ice cream. Custard desserts, shortbread and even on lamb or pork benefit from this flowery herb.
I will share my discoveries with you and welcome any ideas you may want to share with me. Now I need to go water those plants. Bon Appetit!

My herb garden

My Thai Bail - how pretty!

As the weather starts to get warmer and the days longer, the lines at our local ice cream shops get a bit longer. Not surprising as frozen desserts were already on people’s minds as early as 200 BC in China. The first published recipe for ice cream was seen in London in 1718. Frozen ices started the craze in Italy as early as the 1500’s. Ice cream was introduced to the United States by Quaker colonists who brought their ice cream recipes with them. Confectioners sold ice cream at their shops in New York and other cities during the colonial era. Ben Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson were known to have regularly eaten and served ice cream. First Lady Dolley Madison is also closely associated with the early history of ice cream in the United States, having served ice cream at her husband’s Inaugural Ball in 1813. (wikipedia)

But is it just ice cream? Or sherbet? Gelato or sorbet? Frozen custard or yogurt….too many choices and confusing for many. I would like to try to clear the air for picking the perfect cup of cool goodness this summer.

Gelato is Italy’s answer to ice cream. It is typically more flavorful than regular ice cream, has less butterfat (around 10% to ice creams 20%) and is served a little softer than ice cream. Gelato is also more dense as air is not mixed in during processing, resulting in a richer, creamier texture.

Premium ice cream has a higher fat content and less air than standard ice cream,can have higher quality ingredients and comes in small packages – think Haagen Daz. Regular ice cream can feel “puffy” and less creamy due to the added air – resulting in a cheaper sales price. (think Hoodsies) Ice cream is available as light (what was once called ice milk), fat free, no sugar, etc. This part is self explanatory, I believe.

Frozen yogurt is essentially a frozen dessert based on yogurt not cream. Similar to ice cream, true frozen yogurt is tarter and has less fat than ice cream. Frozen yogurt was introduced in New England in the 1970s as a soft serve dessert by H. P. Hood under the name Frogurt. In 1978, Brigham’s, a Boston based ice cream, candy & sandwich chain developed and introduced the first packaged frozen yogurt under the name Humphreez Yogart. It was originally intended as a healthier alternative to ice cream but consumers complained about the tart taste . Manufacturers began production of a recipe that tasted sweeter and frozen yogurt took off in the 1980s, reaching sales of $25 million in 1986. In the early 1990s, frozen yogurt was 10% of the dessert market. (fact from Wikipedia.com) Of course this means that the once healthy option of frozen yogurt can be as guilty as regular ice cream these days.

Frozen custard is similar to ice cream, but contains eggs. Frozen pudding is a chilled dessert consisting of a mixture of custard, fruit, nuts and (sometimes) liquor – typically rum.

Sherbert is made with 1-2% milk fat and is sweeter than ice cream. Sorbets have 0% dairy, based on sugar syrup and fruit, wine, chocolate or liquer. Sorbet is very similar to a granita found in Italian kitchens.
Italian ice is like sorbet, and in Philadelphia their version is called water ice, a shaved ice with a flavored syrup poured over. I called them snow cones growing up.

So their you have it – from creamy full fat goodness to guilt free icy coldness – enjoy a bite of summer! What is you favorite flavor?