Monday, September 1, 2014

CSA Week 6

In the box this week:
cherry bomb peppers
bell peppers
japanese eggplant

large baking zucchini
thai basil
sweet basil

Basil and Oregano. Look at the size of that!!

Thai Basil

Bruised, overripe and ugly tomatoes. Perfect for sauce!

Caprese Salad
Zucchini bread
Cabbage Thoran
Thai Corn Soup
Soba Noodle Salad
Yellow Curry Eggplant
Apple Zucchini Muffins
Zucchini Pizza Casserole
Spicy Savory Sweet Watermelon Rind Pickles
Pickled Watermelon Rind Salad with Feta and Salami
Southwest One Pot Pasta

Well the box this week was super full - guess it's a good thing I had an extra day to cook it all because I needed it!!

Pesto galore! Both the sweet basil and the oregano pesto were made in the typical pesto way - nuts, oil, cheese, herbs. I didn't have pine nuts so I used walnuts, just as good and not as expensive. Amazing how so many herbs can pack down into something so small! I decided to put the pesto in ice cube trays then pop them in the freezer. The Thai basil was mixed with coconut oil and cashews. Looking at some recipes online AFTER I made the pesto, some people added fish sauce and sesame oil, which would be a nice addition. I may add that to what's left after making the soba noodle salad...

Here's my version of a Caprese salad - tomato, mozzarella and a pesto vinaigrette. Yum!

Zucchini bread. Different recipe than I have used before. We made these at my friend, Patty's house. We were very liberal with the add ins - cranberries, golden raisins, almonds, cherries, sunflower seeds, chocolate chips and Heath Toffee bits. Very tasty.

Cabbage Thoran. This is an Indian dish we made at Patty's house. She just had her cousin visit and had all fresh new spices for us to play with. It is a very quick dish - so the shredded cabbage is still somewhat crunchy. There's nice heat from the chiles and the coconut helps cool the heat some. Very good.

Now on to Thailand. Found this recipe for a corn soup without cream. Was disappointed to not be able to find Kaffir lime leaves but used lime zest as a replacement. Subtle heat and complex flavors in a short time.

This soba salad was something I made up on the fly. I knew I wanted to use the Thai basil pesto in a cold noodle salad, so then added some broccoli, grated carrot and sesame oil. It turned out better than I would have thought!

This yellow curry eggplant is a real winner. Simple to make with coconut milk and curry paste. Just throw in your ingredients and it's done pretty quick. Lots of flavor!!! The recipe calls for sweet potato but I substituted regular potatoes, since that is what I have the abundance of. Served over rice, it would be a great weeknight take out substitute.

These strusel topped apple zucchini muffins are sooo delicious. We used applesauce I canned last year in my first canning adventure (still delicious, by the way) and apples from the farmstand. Homemade at it's best!

Taste of Home has something here with this zucchini pizza casserole. It's really good and filling. It also uses a lot of zucchini, for when you have a lot! We used our homemade sauce for this, and that may be why it's soo good. I was quite surprised how much the sauce cooked down! We took half and put that in the oven to make tomato paste and the other half to make sauce. I think we got 3 dishes worth out of the batch - so one went into zucchini pizza casserole, one went to Patty and I took the last. Kinda sad how all that work went into so I need to think of the perfect dish for that delicious sauce!! The tomato paste went into the ice cube trays and now in the freezer - you only use a few tablespoons at a time anyway...

More watermelon rind pickles! This is a sweet pickle, which I will have to decide what to do with. It is also much softer, since you boil the rinds before you pickle them. Probably would be good with roasted meat on a sandwich, or anytime you want a sweet pickle. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of the salad I made with the other pickled watermelon rind...probably because I was so excited to eat it each time I made it that I dug in before getting the picture! Check out the recipe, it sounds weird, but it's really good.

The only thing left to make is the Southwest One Pot Pasta. I'm about to start on that for dinner. It will use of the last of the corn and I'll probably end up putting most of it in the freezer for later. Happy Labor Day everyone!

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!