Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Inspiration - Week 5/2011

In this week's box:  Mixed salad greens, red oakleaf lettuce, fresh basil, garlic scapes, kohlrabi, snow peas, broccoli, chioggia beets and beet greens.

Before I get down to business with some menu ideas and recipes for this week's CSA box, I have to tell you about last weekend.  I went to Duluth with my fellow Rhubarb Sisters (we are a singing quartet) to perform at the annual Rhubarb Festival put on by CHUM (this is a group of 40 churches which supports various programs and services for homeless people.)  I brought along two of my favorite classic cookbooks - Finnish Cooking and The Great Scandinavian Baking Book.  Both were written by Beatrice Ojakangas, a nationally famous cookbook author who has lived and worked in Duluth for decades.  I knew Ms. Ojakangas was going to be at the festival selling cookbooks and I wanted her to autograph mine.  And she did.  Plus a new book I bought about baking whole grain breads. Best of all, I was able to thank her for her work and tell her in person how important those books have been to both me and my husband and the quality of our food life.

I encourage you to invest some time to discover your favorite cookbook authors.  They have different personal styles and approaches - find one that works for you and invest in some of their books.  I have my favorites - Jane Brody, Alice Waters, Molly Katzen, Mark Bittman, Elizabeth David (You won't be able to get an autograph from her - she is in the big kitchen in the sky) and, of course, Beatrice Ojakangas.  Who are your favorite kitchen friends?  Even if you have a modest cookbook library - maybe especially if you do - give some thought to finding some authors you like and trust.  Stick with them and your kitchen will be a happier place.

Menu ideas for this week (If a dish is in italics, recipe follows)

1.  Steak Salad, Bread,  Roasted summer fruit

2.  Stir fry with pork, broccoli, snow peas, garlic scapes (cut on the diagonal in 2 inch pieces),  rice, mango sorbet.  (Cut broccoli into florets.  Peel and slice stems on the diagonal)

3. Sloppy joes with homemade BBQ sauce, braised beet greens, chocolate pudding.

4. Kohlrabi salad, roast chicken (save some for pasta salad another day), potatoes, buttered beets

5.  Chicken pasta salad - chop leftover roast chicken and combine with cooked and drained pasta, thinly sliced basil, broccoli and snow peas (either raw or cooked in boiling water just one minute, drained and cooled) and a favorite dressing.  Serve atop lettuce leaves, with some good bread.  Bring any leftovers to work for lunch.

6.  Lettuce rolls -- If you find yourself with some large oak leaf lettuce leaves make this snack.  Wash and dry leaves and pile (whole) on a plate.  Set out various fillings such as chopped peanuts, raisins, grated kohlrabi or carrots, bits of cheese or meat, sprouts - you get the idea.  Put a little filling onto a leaf and roll up, tucking in the sides. Enjoy.  Serve with a peanut or soy dipping sauce if you like. 


Steak salad
Wash and dry salad greens.  Wash and dry basil and tear off desired amount of leaves.  Toss with a simple oil and vinegar vinaigrette and divide between individual serving plates.  Pan fry a steak - preferably in a heavy cast iron pan - cook rare.  Thinly slice meat when done, saving any juices to pour on the salad.  Four to five ounces of meat per serving is plenty.  Garnish the salad with some or all of the following:  crumbled blue or feta cheese,  sliced sweet onion, julienned raw kohlrabi, snow peas.

Roasted soft summer fruit
Wash and cut up (large pieces) plums, nectarines, peaches, cherries, berries or pears or a combination.  Place in a heavy glass baking dish in a single layer.  Sprinkle with a little brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and dot with bits of butter.  Bake at 375 degrees until fruit is soft and slightly browned.  Serve plain or with a little vanilla ice cream or custard sauce.  Or serve with yogurt and a little granola for breakfast.

Beet Greens
Go to this post from last year for lots of ideas for preparing beets.  http://cookoutofthebox.blogspot.com/2010/07/focus-beets-beta-vulgaris.html

Homemade Barbeque Sauce
This recipe is from Country Tastes - Best Recipes from America's Kitchens by Beatrice Ojakangas
This sauce would be good combined with ground beef or pork for sloppy joes or served with pulled pork or cooked chicken.  If you want, you could vary this recipe by adding hot or sweet peppers.
Ingredients:  1/4 cup butter (or oil), 1 cup finely chopped onion, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 cup tomato ketchup, 1/2 cup dry sherry, 1 T. light brown sugar, 1 t. mustard powder, 1 T. fresh lemon juice, 1/2 cup white vinegar, 2 t. Worcestershire sauce, 1/3 cup water.
Saute onion and garlic in butter until onion is soft.  Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Turn down heat and simmer one hour - stir occasionally and watch to prevent scorching.  If a puree is desired, put finished and cooled sauce into a food processor and process until smooth.

Kohlrabi Salad
Kohlrabi is excellent served raw - but it must be peeled to remove tough outer skin.  Slice peeled kohlrabi into 1/4 inch slices and then cut slices into thin strips.  Cutting thin strips like this will give you a "julienne" of kohlrabi.  Mix the julienned kohlrabi with a mustardy vinaigrette.  Combine 1/2 cup olive oil with 2 T. red wine vinegar, a little chopped shallot or garlic and 1 T. whole grain mustard.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Combine with vinaigrette.  Serve salad atop lettuce leaves if desired.  Note - if you don't want to julienne the kohlrabi, you could also grate or just thinly slice it.
Here are more ideas for cooking kohlrabi: http://cookoutofthebox.blogspot.com/2010/06/focus-kohlrabi.html

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