Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Inspiration - Week # 21

Contents of this week's Grande Box (a bonus sized box): Salad greens, chard, mustard greens, red daikon radishes, acorn squash, pie pumpkin, potatoes, carrots, broccoli, garlic, red cabbage, leeks, cilantro, beets and beet greens.

I hope you take just a minute to gaze at your vegetables when you unpack your box this week.  Just stop and look for a minute.  The shapes and colors are simply beautiful to behold.  If I was a painter I would paint a still life.  And I feel healthier just looking at this beautiful food.  Are you feeling healthier after eating so well for 21 weeks?  I know I feel better when I am eating more fresh vegetables in my diet.

This is the last box of the summer/fall Featherstone season.  I hope you had as much fun as I did figuring out how to use all the food in our CSA boxes.   And if sometimes you had to give something away or even compost it I hope you are not too down on yourself about that.  I hate waste too, but a little failure is always part of any worthwhile learning experience, don't you think?  I know some of you feel you have come a long way, culinarily speaking, since June.  I know this because you have told me.  It always makes me so happy to hear about your kitchen victories, large and small.

I hope you also have signed up for winter shares or at least are seriously thinking about it.  Deadline is coming right up.  Online signup on the Featherstone Farm website.

I  think winter vegetables are even more wonderful to cook and eat than summer vegetables.  Thanks to extensive cold storage and greenhouse infrastructure at Featherstone,  winter boxes will contain such things as spinach, salad greens, broccoli, rutabagas, squash, beets, parsnips, potatoes, turnips,  cabbage, kale, carrots, winter radishes, kohlrabi and more.  If you are not accustomed to cooking with these fabulous foods remember you can always check out this blog for tips.  I will continue blogging this winter - just not quite as often.   So there is no reason to let rutabaga anxiety keep you away from the great foods of winter. 

 MENUS  This is the first installment of menu ideas for this week's box.  Part 2 will come next week.  Most of the box contents store well, but I have chosen some of the more perishable items for this week's meal ideas.  Everything else will store just fine either at room temperature (potatoes, squash, pumpkin) or in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.  Items marked with a star mean recipe is below.

Greens and a grain
Mixed green salad with a mustardy vinaigrette and some sunflower seeds; barley pilaf with leeks, chard, mushrooms and bacon*; A great piece of cheese for dessert  - maybe with an oatcake or two

Don't worry.  Eat curry.
Carrot and potato curry with rice, yogurt, cilantro mint chutney (See Oct. 15 post for chutney recipe) and maybe some raisins and peanuts or cashews on the side; chappati bread; mango lassi* (Note - I like to add a cup or so of red lentils to vegetable curries.  More protein and flavor and substance.  The red lentils cook fast.  I also like to add a little coconut milk for extra richness. )

Meal in a bowl
Chinese noodle soup with greens - four generous servings.  Cook about 12 ounces of thin, long noodles, drain and divide among four large bowls.   Make or buy two quarts of rich chicken, beef or vegetable stock and bring to a boil in a large pot.   Wash and coarsely slice about 1/2 pound mustard greens and toss into simmering broth for a few minutes.  Ladle stock and greens over the noodles.  Serve with your favorite Asian condiments such as:  soy sauce, hoisin sauce or garlic chile paste or garnishes such as fried shallots, fresh bean sprouts or Asian herbs (e.g. cilantro, Thai basil, mint)

Hot dish or casserole?  Who cares as long as it is cheesy?
Broccoli-egg noodle-ham or chicken or both-cheese sauce casserole; pickled beets (see recipe in next Saturday's post); bread and butter; chocolate pudding  (Make plenty of white sauce and use sharp cheddar cheese for best flavor.  If you are adventurous, throw in some chopped fresh dill)

Another way to use mustard greens
Crispy crunchy winter vegetable salad*;  baked white beans and vegetables French style*; crusty French bread;  some sliced sausage;


Barley pilaf with leeks, bacon, chard and mushrooms - serves four
2 cups whole pearled barley
4 cups water or stock
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups sliced leeks (white part plus two inches of green part, washed well to remove all grit)
4 slices bacon
8 oz. mushrooms, washed and sliced
2 cups sliced chard leaves, packed  (chop stems and reserve)
optional - add fresh chopped herbs at the very end of cooking - e.g. dill or parsley or both

Chop bacon and cook until crisp.  Remove bacon and set aside.  Saute leeks, chopped chard stems and mushrooms in bacon fat (add a little extra butter or oil if necessary).  After leeks are soft, add barley and saute 5-10 minutes more.  Deglaze the pan with about 1/2 cup white wine.  Add about one quart water or stock.  Cover and simmer until barley is tender, about 45 minutes.  Stir in sliced chard and cook for a few more minutes.  Serve, garnished with bacon pieces.

Mango lassi
For each serving, place in a blender: 1 cup mango puree (fresh, canned or frozen) and 1 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt, 2 ice cubes.  Blend until smooth.  Garnish with a few mint sprigs if you have some.  Or sprinkle on a teeny pinch of freshly ground cardamom - a little goes a long way.

Crunchy winter vegetable salad
Coarsely grate or julienne some or all of the following: winter radish (peeled), kohlrabi (peeled), turnip (peeled) or carrot.  You could even try broccoli stems that are not too tough.
For four cups of vegetables add the following dressing:
4 T. red wine vinegar, 1 T. sugar, 1/2 t. salt, 1/2 t. pepper, 2 t. prepared full flavored mustard (coarse grain style would be nice); 1 T. salad oil or heavy cream.   Adjust seasonings to taste.
Optional seasonings:  snipped fresh dill, and/or 1-2 T. prepared horseradish instead of mustard
Play around with this concept.  Adjust acid, sugar, salt and oil as you like.  All you are doing is mixing crisp raw vegetables with a zingy dressing.

Baked beans and vegetables French style
This recipe is adapted from a recipe for vegetarian cassoulet in Molly Katzen's great cookbook, Vegetable Heaven.
6 cups cooked or canned beans (navy, Great Northern, cannellini or similar bean)
1 pound onion, shallots or leeks
3 T. olive oil
3 cups diced potatoes
2 cups carrots, cut in matchsticks
1 T. chopped fresh garlic
1 1/4 t. salt
Herbs:  sage, marjoram, thyme  (1 t. of each, dried.  More if using fresh herbs); handful chopped parsley
1/2 pound chopped fresh mustard greens or chard or a mixture of both
1 cup dry red wine
1 1/2 cup flavorful stock (or water or tomato juice will do too.  Then add a bit more herbs)

Saute onions/leeks/shallots about 10 minutes.  Add potatoes and carrots and saute another 10 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients EXCEPT FOR mustard greens.  Bake, covered, about one hour at 350 degrees.  Remove from oven, stir in greens and return to oven, uncovered, for about 15 minutes more.  Add liquid if beans seem too dry.  If you like meat, tuck a few sausages, a lamb shank, a few chicken legs or a few slices of salt pork or pancetta into the beans prior to the first one hour of baking.

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