Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Inspiration - Week #10

In this week's box: sweet corn,  white onions, fresh dill, bell peppers, savoy cabbage, white potatoes, cucumbers, golden cherry tomatoes, red slicing tomatoes

Things are pretty exciting around our house this week.  In addition to the regular members of the household (my husband Frank, my 85 year old father (Ray) and me) we have been joined by my older son, his wife, their two boys (ages 3 and 5) and of course they had to bring the dog all the way from Atlanta.  In a few days my younger son and his girlfriend will arrive. With a cat.

As you might guess, I have more on my plate than vegetables this week.  So I have arranged for some reinforcements to help me out with the blog.  Frank will be posting on Wednesday about tomato juice - past and present.  My friend and Featherstone CSA member Bonnie Prinsen will be writing on Thursday and my New York sister (and member of a Brooklyn CSA) will take over on Friday and I will be back again Saturday morning with a post on Gazpacho.  Hope you enjoy the variety. 

This week's menu ideas and recipes will be short and sweet.  Sometimes it is fun to take all day to prepare an elegant dinner party and try complicated new recipes.  Sometimes you just need to get something on the table. 

Menu ideas for this week (items marked with an asterisk have recipes below)

My favorite summer meal  -   Bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches on toast, corn on the cob, coleslaw*, cucumber salad*.   And a big cold glass of milk.  If you are feeling ambitious, use homemade bread and homemade mayo for the sandwiches.  Use really high end bacon along with your excellent Featherstone tomato.  Find some really nice homegrown leaf lettuce. Voila.  A Rolls Royce of a BLT.   When dinner is done, go for a walk and get an ice cream cone someplace.  Life is good.

Simple cabbage stir fry - Make sure you use fresh ginger and garlic along with the sliced cabbage.  About half a cabbage should serve four.  (Save the other half for making coleslaw) Add some onion, bell pepper and a little carrot too if you have some.  Use your favorite stir fry meat or other protein if you wish.   I think some roasted peanuts would be nice with this dish.  Serve with rice.  And iced tea.

Who needs clams when you have sweet corn? - Potato corn chowder*, good bread, cucumber salad*.

Pizza doesn't always have to be red - Caramelized onion pizza*.  This rich pizza would be good served with a crunchy and tart salad - maybe thinly sliced fennel with sliced oranges and a simple vinaigrette.  Or grated raw beets and apples with horseradish and yogurt. 

Cherry tomatoes aren't just for salad anymore -  Italian salami or proscuitto, angel hair pasta with roasted cherry tomato sauce*, cucumber salad, French or Italian bread

Throw something on the grill - Grilled meat, homemade potato salad* or sliced potatoes cooked on the grill in little foil packets with some onion, butter, salt and pepper, coleslaw*

Cole slaw - see post for July 24

Cucumber salad - See post for July 29

Potato salad - see post for July 10

Corn chowder -  Serves 4-6
1/4 pound bacon or pancetta
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
3 cups corn - cut fresh from cob
1 1/2 cups diced potatoes
about 3 cups milk
fresh dill
salt and pepper to taste
Cook bacon or pancetta until crisp.  Set aside meat.  Saute onion and peppers in fat remaining in pan until soft.  Add potatoes and corn and about 2 cups water.  Bring to a boil, turn down and simmer until potatoes are soft.  Add milk, dill and seasonings.  Gently heat.  Serve with bacon or pancetta as a garnish.  (Note as with most soups, you can vary the amounts of various ingredients according to your preference and what you have on hand.)

Caramelized Onion Pizza
Caramelized onions - the beginning
Caramelized onions - the middle
To Caramelize onions:  Cut in half and thinly slice about two pounds onions.  (Note: each half pound of sliced onions should yield about 1/3 cup of caramelized onion.) Saute over low to moderate heat in a heavy skillet with 1 T olive oil and 1 T butter.  You might want to cover the onions for the first fifteen minutes or so.  Be patient.  It will take about an hour for the onions to turn the rich brown color that will tell you they are caramelized.  Stir every ten minutes or so. If the process is going way to slowly for you, then turn up the heat a little.  Just don't get too impatient or you will burn the onions and then you will be sorry.

Caramelized onions - the end
For pizza - Spread onions on your favorite homemade or purchased crust.  Crust should be fairly thin.  Add goat cheese or other favorite cheese.  Add some herbs - you could use basil, parsley or chives or all three.  Thyme would also be good with onions.  A little chopped cooked bacon or ham would be nice - but I wouldn't overdo it.  The onions are the star here.  Bake in a hot oven just until crust is done and topping is bubbling.

Roasted cherry tomato sauce for pasta
Wash and stem a pint of cherry tomatoes.  Mix with about 2 T. olive oil.  You also can add a few handfuls of chopped onion or about a dozen cloves of garlic.  Mix well and spread on a baking sheet.  No need to cut tomatoes in half.  You can leave them whole.  Bake at 400 degrees about 30 minutes -  or until tomatoes and onions or garlic are lightly colored and soft. Scrape tomatoes and other ingredients into a bowl.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Add herbs to taste -   thyme or rosemary would be excellent.  Some Mediterranean type black olives would be good added to this sauce. Add a bit more olive oil and a 1/3 cup or so of pasta cooking water to the tomatoes.
Toss with cooked pasta - such as angel hair.  If desired,  serve with some grated Parmesan cheese.

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