Sunday, August 24, 2014

CSA Week 5

Here's what's in the box this week:
6 ears of corn
2 zucchini
sm watermelon
4 jalapenos, 4 small round green chiles
red onion, yellow onion
red potatoes
sm head broccoli
3 tomatoes

Extras from friends:
2 peppers (also had 1 left over from last week)

All the peppers went into the brine. I only had 1 jar's worth, so I used 1/2 a recipe for the pickle. I also didn't have palm sugar, so I used brown sugar. And I decided to heat it up in the microwave rather than on the stove - pouring out of a saucepan is tricky and I would just get the pickle everywhere! About a min and a half was enough to warm it enough to dissolve the salt and sugar. I've been seeing a lot of recipes for jalapeno popper dip and some use pickled that might be the future of these...

Ah, ratatouille! I think my mom and I make this every year. It's a great dish for using up too many tomatoes and zucchini. We also seem to have an eggplant that doesn't look too good that needs to be ratatouille it is! This year I have lovely fresh veggies, but it all ends up being delicious. I didn't have peppers (they were used in another recipe), but this dish is very forgiving. I also made a half recipe and it was tons! I did add my own version of Herbs de Provence by adding in Italian Seasoning then a pinch of lavender...yum!! Planning to have this either on top of, or next to some grilled chicken.

After looking at a few recipes online, I kinda made up my own version of this salad. Watermelon, feta, mint and pickled red onion. Enjoy!

There's this great blog called Purple Kale Kitchenworks, I think they are a cooking school in Brooklyn. They have a recurring theme called "Not Trash" where they take things that you would otherwise throw out and turn into something you can eat. This recipe for pickled watermelon rinds comes from that. They then use the pickled rind in a salad, so I'll be making that next week! And yes, mom, I took the outer edge of the watermelon rind off. I looked at a lot of recipes and most have you take it you were right...

Still have an excess of potatoes, so was looking for a potato broccoli casserole recipe - this one is a winner. I was a little worried since there isn't really a sauce, but there's more than enough cheese to make up for it. Yum!

This is stuffed pepper stoup. It's a Rachel Ray recipe. She says a stoup is not as thick as a stew but thicker than a soup. This recipe is a real winner, tastes like a stuffed pepper but without the work of making them. Yum!!

Oh, the corn went to my neighbor, who was sooo happy to get them. I'm a bit corned out at the moment. If I get more next week, I'll probably throw it in the freezer.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

CSA Week 4

Here's what's in the box this week:
red potatoes
6 ears of corn
2 zucchini
3 tomatoes
6 jalapeno (+1 leftover from last week)
2 bell pepper

Jalapeno Roasted Chicken
Jalapeno Cornbread
Southwest Meatloaf Minis
Provencal Potato Salad
Tortilla Soup

This is the first week I got too much of something in my box. When I saw that bag of jalapenos, my first thought was to pickle them. But that seemed too easy, plus the box wasn't all that full this week, so if I pickled the jalapenos, I wouldn't have much to I am getting tired of corn, so I needed to do some dishes that would have corn but not only corn. That brings to mind Mexican, so Mexican week it is! First thing to do was get the whole chicken out of the freezer I got from my friend the other week when we were making cheese. She suggested roasting it, so when I found the jalapeno roasted chicken recipe, it sounded like a match made in heaven! 

Jalapeno count: 1. Jalapeno butter for the chicken. The recipe used shallot, but the store didn't have them, so I used onions from the CSA box.

Hello, chicken. This turned out lovely - 400 degrees for an hour. Nice and browned. I had the chicken breasts for lunch with some oven roasted potatoes. Then the whole thing went into the stock pot to make soup, jalapeno count: 2. (one went into the stock)

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread. This 9x13 pan is 12 servings, yikes! Could definitely double the count. For some reason, after all the recipes I looked at, I choose one that didn't have corn in it, so I added 1 cup. Jalapeno count: 4. I cut it up and put most of it in the freezer for when I make chili. One thought, there's 2 sticks of butter in the recipe, it adds a nice butter flavor, but I almost think it's too buttery (is there such a thing?!?) so I might cut back on that in the future. I also didn't get much jalapeno, so I might add even more to the batter next time.

Southwest Meatloaf Minis. Jalapeno count: 6. These are a skinny recipe - I used ground chicken I got from the market last week. Also going in the freezer for later, will be a good lunch.

I baked them in foil cupcake liners, made for a pretty nice clean up. Aren't they cute??

Straying from the Mexican theme is this potato salad. Was getting up there with the potatoes, so knew I had to do something this week. Found this recipe that also happens to have zucchini and tomato, so works out well. Sooooo delicious. You take tuna in oil and use it to make the dressing. Reminds me of being back in Italy. I don't have a steaming apparatus, so I decided to boil the potatoes and sauteed the zucchini. I will have NO trouble eating this up.

Chicken tortilla soup. I followed the recipe by the Pioneer Woman, after I made stock. First, I took the 6 corn cobs and made a corn broth. Then when the roasted chicken was done, everything went into the pot (took the cobs out first). I added in a whole jalapeno that I cross hatched and let it all boil down until the chicken fell apart, a few hours (somewhere in there I added the rest of the can of crushed tomatoes that was used in the Southwest Meatloaf Minis). Then I let the stock cool a bit then put in the fridge overnight. The next day, I skimmed off the fat and picked through the carcass to get out most of the bones and shred up the chicken. After that, I pretty much followed the recipe. In a saute pan, I browned the pepper, onion and garlic, added the spices and tomato paste then added that to the stock pot with some beans I cooked from dry and the can of Rotel - cook for 45 min, add in the cornmeal then cook for 30 min more. After that, I let cool and put into tupperware...which by the way, I am officially out of tupperware.

So at the end of the day, I have 1 jalapeno left. I actually deseeded it because I was thinking I would put it into the meatloaf but had enough. I'd say that was pretty good. Plus I'm counting on getting as many peppers next week and will pickle them then. But then I thought I was getting more cabbage this you never know. I am getting tired of corn and had some leftover to add into the soup and put into the freezer, so if I get more corn, I think I will take a week off corn and put it in the freezer for when I can appreciate it again.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

CSA Week 3

Here's what's in the box this week:
yukon gold potatoes
2 jalapenos
red onion
yellow onion
2 tomatoes
6 ears corn
yellow squash
1 pint raspberries
1 head cabbage

Extras leftover from last week:
2 green mangos
large tub pickled carrot and daikon
1 head cabbage

Extras from the gardens of friends:
large patty pan squash
large zucchini
3 yellow squash
2 zucchini

Peanut, carrot and cabbage slaw
Green mango salad
BBQ cabbage and sausage stuffed sandwich
Cabbage roll casserole
Summer squash gratin
Zucchini butter
Roasted corn tabouli
Stuffed patty pan

Well guess this is a lesson on making sure that I prep the veggies if I plan to use them later. Never got around to that head of cabbage, so I had 2 heads to deal with this week - made sure I used them up!

Step one on dispatching the cabbage is slaw. This is an asian style slaw with peanut dressing. I also used the leftover picked carrot and daikon in place of the carrot and radish called for in the recipe. Pretty tasty. Unfortunately, the vinegar from my pickles somewhat overpowered the peanut dressing, so I didn't get much of that. Sometimes the shortcuts and hacks work out, sometimes they don't.

Another thing in my fridge that I keep forgetting about are 2 green mangoes I bought at the Asian market in Philly. They had been sitting in my fruit drawer and oops, forgot about them. One of them almost turned into a ripe mango! The recipe suggested using a mandolin slicer for the fruit, but I had some trouble with it, so I just cut mine with a knife. The dressing was killer - that spicy dressing you get at Thai/Vietnamese restaurants on a green papaya salad? This is it! I used sambal oelek in place of the Thai chile. Soooo good.

Cabbage step 2. These sounded so good, I just couldn't resist. When I was talking about them with my coworkers, my cabbage hating friend said she might even be interested in these! Mainly because she thinks you won't taste the cabbage with the BBQ sauce, sausage and cheese, she's right. You do get some nice crunch, since I tried not to over cook the cabbage. I got the sausage from a stand at the farmer's market when I was picking up my box this week - I never really looked around the market before! This was a great find! So was this recipe.

Word to the wise though - it says 1 lb of dough to make 8 rolls, well I ended up using a whole recipe from my Artisan Bread in 5 min a day book to make 16 rolls (wheat of course), that's 4 lbs of dough! The recipe uses 1/4c of filling in each bun, so I used 1/4lb sections of dough for each bun and some were harder to close than others! The filling is really good and each bun got wrapped and placed in the freezer for future lunches.

The final cabbage recipe is the Stuffed Cabbage Casserole. This takes the ingredients of stuffed cabbage (a staple out here) and puts them all together in a casserole - much easier than stuffing all those rolls. This is not a dish I have had much of, so I took a few liberties. I used brown rice - since the intent was to cook the rice in the oven while in the casserole, I par cooked the rice before adding. I also used less beef - who really makes a recipe that uses 1.5lbs of beef, when every package comes in 1lb? Really this was my fault for not really reading the recipe, but seriously, what would I do with that other 1/2 lb? I also felt that the recipe did not have enough seasoning, so I added much more salt, pepper and some sugar to make the tomato sauce stand out.

This also makes enough for a crowd - in the freezer you go!

This is the zucchini/squash gratin - I originally was going to use a recipe from the Food Network, but it became very clear that I had way too much squash to make a bechamel and coat and bake and such - might try it in the future though, don't think I'm going to run out of zucchini! So I precooked the squash in a giant bowl in the microwave for about 12 min (in 4 min bursts) then shingled the squash into the dish like I would if I was making a potato gratin. I varied the layers - all squash then all zucchini. Added some salt, pepper and herbs then some cheese. I used a preshredded package of sharp cheddar and so used 2 cups cheese for the whole dish. I topped it off with more cheese and panko, then sprayed the top with olive oil spray to make the topping crunchy. For moisture, I added in some corn-chicken stock I made out of the corn cobs from the tabouli recipe, below.

Zucchini butter. I have had this recipe for a while and keep coming back to it since it sounds so weird and interesting. Mine is not as nicely green as the one on the site, but that may be because I used the very large zucchini for this dish and the inside to outside ratio is different than with a batch of smaller zucchinis. I also used a red onion from the box instead of shallots so that might also contribute to the muddy color. It does taste good. Kinda like a caramelized onion, which is how I think I will use this. Would be great in a quiche or omelette. I was also thinking it would be good in a lasagna as one of the layers. So into the freezer you go to await use in the future.

Roasted corn tabouli. Pretty simple salad - roast corn in oven, cook bulghur then toss with lemon and parsley. Since I was cutting off the kernels from the cob, I made a corn stock with some chicken broth to cook the bulghur in (why cook grains with just water??) then also added it in my gratin.

The only thing left is a large patty pan squash, perfect for stuffing. While looking for a recipe, I found many for smaller patty pans but this is a large one - I did find something that I will use as a guide - thinking you need to par cook it a bit - so boil for 10 min then let cool. Then scrape out the insides and add your stuffing ingredients. Since I have corn and jalapeno, was thinking I would go for the Mexican vibe. Add some pinto beans, brown rice and feta cheese and you have a pretty good sounding dinner. Pop back into the oven to fully cook the squash and you are golden...brown that is.

Phew! My cooking buddy is out of town this week, so I guess that is why I'm feeling so pooped! Definitely have a start on stocking the freezer...maybe if I play my cards right, I will have a full freezer to get me through the winter once the CSA is over? One can only hope.

Update: here's the stuffed patty pan

Monday, August 4, 2014

Homemade Mozzarella Attempt 1

I know a dairy farmer. Well, actually, I know a dairy farmer's wife but met the farmer yesterday - when we got together to make fresh mozzarella. From looking online, it didn't seem too difficult but in truth, it was more finicky that I would have thought. We decided to try 2 different types of cheese - acid coagulated cheese and culture coagulated cheese. Both batches looked like cheese along the way but there were some missteps (if only we knew where they were...). Here's a look at our first attempt at cheese. In the end, we did get something that looked and tasted like cheese, so I guess that's something. By the way, shout out to Manning Farm Dairy for the milk and new friendship!

The recipe and special equipment. Perhaps our folly started here? We had enough milk to make a double batch or 2 but our pot wasn't big enough, so I had double the rennet and citric acid but only about 1 3/4 gallon of milk.

Farm fresh milk, from that morning! So yes, raw milk. The sites online said that if you can get raw milk, it's a little easier to make the cheese - anything to make the process easier!

Our very sophisticated measuring device.

First you heat the milk. This is the cultured batch, but it's generally the same process for both types. you add the rennet and let it sit.

Then you need to cut the curd - or cut the cheese...sorry couldn't help myself!

Then heat again.

Drain off the whey - but don't throw it out! I now have a quart of whey, now to decide what to do with it...

For the cultured cheese, it needs to sit in a water bath until the pH is right.

For the acid coagulated cheese, you strain off the curds from the whey. Then you microwave the curds.

Hopefully they get stringy, like cheese. Careful, this part is hot (notice the fashionable gloves).

There's some good stretch here!! But in the end, fresh mozzarella it was not. It turned more into regular aged mozzarella - not bad, just not what we were thinking.

It was soft after spending some time in the fridge, but it was easily grate-able.

It's pretty good looking cheese for pizza!

And in the end, that's what we were going to do with it all along. So, fresh mozzarella, it is not. Cheese? Yes it is. We decided that we would try again, of course. Maybe find a local cheese maker and take a class? We were going wrong somewhere, just not sure where. In all, it was a fun afternoon with a new friend (and her great kids) and I made out like a bandit with a farm frozen chicken, milk (of course) and ice cream!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

CSA Week 2

Hope you all are enjoying working through a surprise box of veggies as much as I am! Here's what's in the box this week:

6 ears of corn
2 tomatoes
2 summer squash
1 zucchini
8 new potatoes
2 sm heads broccoli
1 red onion
1 yellow onion
1 head cabbage
1 pint raspberries

I made the gnocchi recipe the day I got the box, I have been thinking about this recipe abstractly since last week and thought I would probably have all the things to make it this week. Some tweaks - the recipe called for a pint of cherry tomatoes that you blister in the oven - I had some large whole tomatoes but decided to go for a can of fire roasted tomatoes, drained, instead. Also, the main reason I chose this recipe was because I had a package of premade gnocchi, so I used that (also I didn't realize that Parisian gnocchi was a specific type of gnocchi until I was ready to make the recipe, oops). Still turned out delicious, I liked that you saute the gnocchi themselves so they don't turn into a mush of pasta.

Spicy pulled chicken, ready for tacos. This was a nice, quick recipe. My friend and I made this and the squash saute after work on Friday. Yum! It uses chipotle chiles and jalapenos for the spice. Chipotle in adobo are really nice things to have - they come in a can in the Mexican section of the grocery store, be warned, a little goes a long way! I take whatever I didn't use for the first recipe and put everything in a jar and keep it in the fridge. That jar will last for pretty much all eternity - the adobo sauce has lots of vinegar, coupled with the heat and no self respecting bacteria would dare grow in there. Also, so we have all the education bases covered - a chipotle chile is a smoked jalapeno. Yum, yum, yum.

This recipe called for summer squash, but I had used ours in the gnocchi recipe, so I used the medium sized zucchini instead. It also called for topping the dish with sunflower seeds - in our haste to eat, we forgot this topping, but I might top the leftovers, I think the added crunch would be nice. The cheese binds everything together so it's a very elegant side dish. Nice little bit of heat as well with the red pepper flakes.

This is the corn-feta relish for the tacos. I decided to lightly cook the corn when I was cooking the other corn for the zucchini dish. It was a very nice addition to the taco - the saltiness from the feta and zing from the lime really made the taco sing. Plus the corn added a nice crunch to something that might have been all one texture.

Dinner's on! We realized later that we forgot the avocado and the sunflower seeds, oh well. Still very tasty!

I get the joy of dispatching the cabbage, my friend said she was not overly fond of cabbage. I was thinking that since I have potatoes, I would take some of it and make colcannon as a side for some of the leftover chicken (we added a few extra pieces to the mix and didn't shred them to have for meals later in the week). I also have the small heads of broccoli, which might go into my cabbage slaw, or they might get roasted on their own as a side as well. It always seems like a head of cabbage is more than you think, so I believe that I will be enjoying slaw for a week or so...

Sunday, July 27, 2014

CSA Week 1

I am so excited to finally have started my share of the CSA I joined. CSA is short for community supported agriculture. The idea is that you buy a share of a farmer's crop for the season. You give the farmer money for your share in the winter, so they can plan for the upcoming season, and it helps the farmer out in a leaner time of the year. In return for this investment, you get a box of veggies every week for a predetermined amount of time. My CSA starts this past week and goes until Thanksgiving - so while I have been salivating over everyone else's CSA boxes, I think mine might last a touch longer. This box of veggies is designed to feed a family of 4+, so I was lucky to find a place that will do half shares. That being said, I still get 10-15lbs of fresh veggies each week. This will definitely put my planning skills to the test! Even with a half share, this is still too much for just 1 person, so a friend from work and I are sharing a half share...and cooking it all together.

Here's what was in the box this week:
6 ears corn
14 red potatoes
2 sm heads broccoli
1 red onion
1 yellow onion
1 pint blueberries (eaten within 1 day)
1 pint raspberries (eaten within 1 day)
2 tomatoes (yum, yum balsamic)
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash

I also had some veggie odds and ends to use up:
large baking zucchini
baby bok choi
daikon radish

We decided to make:
Corn Chowder (this was the same recipe in an earlier post, Best Corn Chowder?)
Bulgogi with grilled squash and brown rice
Miso Butter Grilled Bok Choy
Broccoli Salad
Zucchini bread
Bulgogi Bahn Mi

Corn stock for the corn chowder - pretty great idea really, use those cobs, they have lots of flavor!

Corn chowder late lunch, need something to keep the body fueled for all this cooking! See my previous post on this soup for the specifics.

Carrot-Broccoli salad. Ideas taken from a few recipes but leaning in the traditional broccoli salad way. I don't like big chunks of raw broccoli and I wanted a raw salad, so I decided to shred up the veggies, then I added a handfull of pumpkin seeds, a handfull of dried cranberries, a few slices of cooked, crumbled bacon then topped it with a yogurt based ranch dressing.

Zucchini pre and post grill. Just simple - oil, salt, pepper.

I think this may be my favorite dish of the day - equal parts miso and butter slathered on the chunkier ends of the bok choy, while the leaves are shredded and dressed with a simple lemon-olive oil dressing. You put the hot bok choy on the salad and it all just wilts so nicely.

The end product of an afternoon of cooking and chatting. The meat was pretty simple - a store bought Bulgogi marinade. Bulgogi is a Korean dish of a sweet soy marinade on thinly sliced beef. It's either grilled or stir fried - then it's put in many dishes. I knew we would be grilling so I opted for Flank Steak. I think it turned out really well. With the left overs, we are going to make Bahn Mi. This is a Vietnamese sandwich served on a French bread roll with a pickled daikon and carrot slaw, cucumbers, cilantro and hot sauce. I have some Korean chile paste that I will mix with some mayo and this will be a great work lunch!

Of course, some zucchini bread. These are loaves 2 and 3 so far for me this season and will probably make many more. This recipe is from America's Test Kitchen - they are sometimes hard to get online. Message me and I will send it to you.

We cooked at my friend's house, since she has the larger kitchen and the grill. Here's what I got to take home! I'm sure the allure of all this planning and cooking will wear off soon, but I'm happy to cook away for now...can't wait until next week!!