Mudjoy Spring CSA Week 20

This week everyone will receive salad turnips, storage squash, and braising mix. You can choose the remainder of your share from the following: leek scapes, arugula, radishes, cornmeal, arichokes, cucumbers, bok choi, chinese cabbage, green garlic, lettuce, Japanese collards, pea shoots, and cauliflower.

The storage squash are a medley of Brazilian varieties from the moschata family. They all have deep orange, aromatic flesh with good sweetness. They are medium-sized, so they aren’t as intimidating as some of the other varieties we grow. I love to roast them whole at 375 for an hour.  I then cut the squash open and remove the seeds.  For breakfast, I cut off a wedge and eat this with nuts and dried cranberries or some goat cheese.  It’s quick and healthy and needs no additional sweeteners.  The seeds can be eaten out of hand or used to make pesto.

The braising mix is a combination of mizuna, ruby streaks mustard, tatsoi, baby chinese cabbage, arugula, pea shoots, leaf amaranth, and baby chard.  The mix is tender enough to be eaten raw, though we like to stir fry it with a stalk or two of green garlic and plenty of soy sauce and a touch of vinegar.  If you are looking for an excuse to make quiche, these greens hold up well to the cheese and eggs in that dish.

Mudjoy Spring CSA Week 19

Everyone received salad turnips, a jar of our aji limon salsa, and green garlic.  You were able to choose the rest of your share from the following:  radishes, arugula, braising mix, chinese cabbage, polenta, leek scapes, artichokes, cucumbers, rhubarb, oregano, mitsuba, sweet potatoes, pea shoots, and winter squash.

The salad turnips are the same as last week, but with the warming weather, you might want to consider grilling them instead of eating them raw or boiled/steamed.  The key with grilling them is to cut them on the thick side (1/4 to 1/3 of an inch), toss in a little oil, and cook at high heat to get a good sear.  Finish with plenty of salt and a little more olive oil.  These make a great side to grilled ribs or other meats.

The salsa was made last fall from ingredients grown on our farm (except for the vinegar and salt).  They are nice prelude to the this season’s tomatoes and peppers.  (We have small green fruit on our tomato vines, so hopefully it won’t be too long before we can begin to send these fruits your way).  We are proud of the flavor of the salsa, and our combination of tomato varieties with the aji limon pepper make for a salsa that tastes very different than your traditional red sauce.  We hope you enjoy.

Mudjoy Spring CSA Week 18

Everyone received spaghetti squash, salad turnips, and green garlic this week. You were able to complete your share from the following: braising mix, fava greens, mustard greens, fennel bulb, whole wheat flour, beets, daikon, cauliflower, artichokes, leek scapes, Asian stir fry greens, arugula, shallots, and cucumbers.

Cooking ideas for turnips can be seen in the last two posts on the blog, but please let me know if you happen upon a way of eating/cooking these that you think I should share. I really love these gems, and I want to make sure that our members enjoy them as well.

The spaghetti squash is a standard variety. I recommend roasting it whole for around an hour at 375F. Once you can insert a fork easily into the rind, it’s done. I prefer to undercook mine slightly, so that the strings of squash retain their heft and don’t fall apart easily. They resemble their namesake pasta more this way.

An easy sauce for the squash would involve minced green garlic, butter, parmesan, lemon juice, and a bit of salt and black pepper. If you are a meat eater, pan-fried pork sausage with a little sage goes quite well with this squash.  You could try a spicy, Chinese sausage as another alternative.

The green garlic is the immature form of the garlic plant prior to its forming cloves or a scape. Treat it like you would garlic, though it is milder in flavor, and so I tend to use it raw (thrown in at the last moment) or add twice as much green garlic for garlic cloves when cooking it. Regardless, dice or mince it and let it rest for ten minutes to get the most health benefits. The Los Angeles Times has a great recipe primer for green garlic here. I also ran upon this recipe for spicy green garlic soup that is on my list of things to cook this week.  A note on storing green garlic:  put it in a plastic bag in your crisper drawer and it should keep for a couple weeks.

Mudjoy Spring CSA Week 17

This week everyone received salad turnips, leeks, and fava greens. You chose the rest of your share from the following: sweet potatoes, polenta, kabocha squash, beets, fennel bulb, artichokes, dalia root, braising mix, mustard greens, cauliflower, chives, shungiku, oregano, and garlic.

The salad turnips are the same as last week, and if you didn’t try any of the recipes from last week’s blog, take a look. You might also consider sauteeing them for 10 minutes and then dressing with salsa de mani, an Ecuadorian peanut sauce that makes about anything taste delicious. We also made them a few weeks ago with a pumpkin seed-cilantro pesto that was really nice. I think that heavier sauces (butter and nut-based sauces for example) add weight to the turnips, which can be watery and insubstantial by themselves.

The leeks are the same as we have had in the past and substitute well for onions in most recipes.

The fava greens are the tender tops of fava plants. I wait until the plants  flower as I have read that this is the point where the plant’s root system is deepest and it has mined the soil of the most nutrients. The idea is that the plant is also at the peak of its nutrition as it prepares to pass on those nutrients to its seeds. Regardless, these greens are delicious and remind me of pea shoots with a floral dimension. They cook quickly, and it is easy to overcook them (they darken in color when this happens).

I like to turn off the heat on whatever dish I am intending them for and fold them in at the end. Wait a few minutes and the residual heat will cook them perfectly. They are great with pasta (add olive oil, garlic, and a dry cheese and you have a quick meal). Jim made a simple salad with barely warmed fava greens, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and plenty of salt and pepper. It was perfect in its simplicity. They work well in soups and stews, but just remember to add them at the very end.

Mudjoy Winter CSA Week 16

Everyone received cauliflower, baby beets, turnips, and radishes this week. You were able to choose the rest of your share from the following: mustard greens, fava greens, fennel, rapini, braising mix, sweet potatoes, polenta, strawberry crown winter squash, rhubarb, shungiku, celery, sorrel, garlic, shallots, and flowering chives.

We roast our baby beets at 400F for 45 minutes, checking around 30 minutes to see how done they are. I prefer my beets soft and caramelized, so I often leave them closer to an hour in the oven. It all depends on the size of the beets. Once roasted, they can be used in many ways. Dollops of chevre and good olive oil are great accompaniments to them.  Friends invited us out to dinner at a nearby restaurant and I had a delicious salad of chicory, sliced apple, roasted beets, and thinly sliced red onions.  I don’t know exactly what was in the vinaigrette, but I would guess cider vinegar, olive oil, mustard, and perhaps some garlic. Yotam Ottolenghi has a recipe for a beet salad with leeks and walnuts. He takes roasted beets, boiled leeks (10 minutes simmered), and combines with the dressing described here.

Japanese salad turnips combine sweetness with just a hint of spice. They are wonderful raw or lightly marinaded in a vinaigrette. But my favorite recipe lightly features a butter miso sauce ( I usually substitute the mirin with white wine).

The radishes are a mix of colors and like the turnips are nice raw. Try this great salad made with turnips and white beans. I  have never eaten radishes this way, but some authors recommend pairing radishes with soft cheese like fresh mozzarella or  feta. If neither of these approaches inspire you, here is a compendium of recipes that hopefully will give you inspiration.

Mudjoy Winter CSA Week 14

Everyone received cauliflower, cabbage, and tromboncino squash this week. To complete your share, you chose from the following: sorrel, chives, castelfranco chicory, purple sprouting broccoli, garlic, cleavers, beets, leeks, lettuce, spinach, potatoes, sunchokes, sweet potatoes, mustard greens, nettles, and an herb bundle (parsley, sage, and thyme).

For cauliflower ideas, check last week’s post and weeks 9 and 10 as well.  In passing, one of our members mentioned loving cauliflower soup topped with mustard croutons.  Though I didn’t catch what her recipe source was for this dish, Yotam Ottolenghi has a version here.

Here is a recipe for apple cider vinegar-braised cabbage that is a cinch and great for those of you who are gluten-free.  If you want a side dish with more body, try this curry that combines cabbage with the warm spices of Indian cuisine and finishes with tangy yogurt.  Another approach would be to roast the cabbage and then dress with a chimichurri or mint chutney.

Finally, the tromboncino.  That tromboncino.  This overly enthusiastic member of the butternut family is cooked in the same as its tamer relative.  The neck is pure meat, so I often discard the bell of the squash and feed this to the chickens, using only the neck for recipes.  Cut the neck into several smaller pieces that can fit in a roasting pan, and roast at 350F for an hour till soft.  The skin can be peeled off afterwards very easily.  Alternatively, you could peel before hand, chop the squash into bite-size pieces, and roast this way after coating with a little canola oil.  Toss with salt and black pepper, or use one of the sauces mentioned above. Ottolenghi has a famous recipe for roasted eggplant with yogurt sauce and pomegranate seeds–and I wonder if one could substitute the eggplant with roasted squash. The creaminess from the yogurt and the astringency from the pomegranate seeds might pair nicely with the sweet earthiness of the squash.  Let me know if you try this idea.

Take care and eat well.

Mudjoy Winter CSA Week 13

Everyone received cauliflower, purple sprouting broccoli, and maceratese turnip greens this week. To complete your share, you chose from the following: garlic, kabocha squash, cilantro, erba stella, radicchio mix, chives, burdock, beets, mache, mustard greens, braising mix, leeks, polenta, arugula, spinach, potatoes, sunchokes, and cabbage.

The overwintering cauliflower have been so sweet and delicious this year. The varieties we planted have not only produced large main heads, but have sent out side shoots that bear respectable heads themselves. Thanks to those of you who took all these extra side heads in addition to the large heads everyone received. We are swimming in cauliflower now, so I am happy when we can send the extra to those who love this vegetable!

One of our members yesterday recommended a take on roasted cauliflower that combined flavors from Latin America: chile, lime, cilantro, and avocado. See the recipe here. I also love how some chefs can re-imagine a vegetable just be processing it in a different way. One good example of this is cauliflower rice: you pulse the curds of the cauliflower in a food processor and then lightly cook. It resembles rice or couscous, though it still tastes like good ‘ole cauliflower. Looking for something to bring to a brunch, I found this recipe for a North African cauliflower salad that promises a great deal of flavor. Finally, if you are wanting some comfort food, try cauiflower tots.

The maceratese is an Italian turnip green, that has a nice bit of sweetness with a little spice. I would recommend lightly cooking it rather than eating it raw. De-rib the leaves, chop coarsely, and add to hot pasta, cover, and let wilt. Finish with grated Parmesan and olive oil, and you have a light meal or an easy snack.  In the south we often add turnip greens to soups and beans. Here is a recipe for white beans and greens. Or ditch the beans and combine with a hamhock. Turnip greens also substitute well for kale in minestrone, just add the turnip greens at the very end because they are so tender.

Have a great Easter weekend!

Mudjoy CSA Week 12

Everyone received cabbage, garlic, and your choice of Asian greens (Yukina Savoy, edible chrysanthemum, or Japanese collards). To complete your share,  you chose from the following: spinach, erba stella, Brussels sprouts rapini, burdock, maceratese greens, purple broccoli, beets, Asian stir fry mix, onions, sorrel, lettuce, cauliflower, potatoes, sunchokes, and cardoons.

The cabbage this week is the same as we have had for the last few pick-ups. It still has a surprising sweetness from the cold weather, and nice blanched hearts. Here is a recipe for cabbage blue cheese soup–an simple, hearty meal that will keep you coming back for another bowl. Another approach would be an easy Italian-style cabbage dish that combines breadcrumbs and parmesan with wilted cabbage. Though my partner is allergic to tree nuts, that doesn’t keep from oogling recipes that contain them. I like this one from Food and Wine, especially the aspect that you roast small wedges of cabbage rather than ribbons.

As for the Asian greens, they all cook quickly in the two to four minutes range. Think of adding them to fried rice, stir fries, or soup. The senposai (Japanese collards) and the Yukina Savoy are both mild greens and very versatile–think spinach. The edible chrysanthemum (also called shungiku) is more assertive in flavor, almost like an herb. It is delicious, but I think it should be blended into dishes with other flavors to balance its own. What I mean to say is that I don’t usually sit down and eat a mess of shungiku greens. But they do in Japan, so perhaps your palate is less finicky than mine!

Mudjoy CSA Week 11

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This week everyone received collardini (collard raab), bok choi, and garlic. You could choose the remainder of your share from the following:  Japanese collards, Yukina savoy, mustard greens, mache, purple sprouting broccoli, beets, leeks, burdock, braising mix, spinach, nettles, cilantro, potatoes, sunchokes, cauliflower, cardoons, and lettuce.

The garlic is a variety called Music, and I think that you will find that it will sing in your dishes. Having gotten that pun out of the way, I wanted to share a interesting fact about garlic. I read a few months back that allicin, one of the healthy chemicals found in garlic, is only produced after the garlic has been chopped or minced. Once the garlic’s cells have been ruptured, an enzyme is released that converts a precursor into allicin. Besides being interesting, this fact has implications for how you cook with garlic. Mincing garlic and then immediately cooking it, denatures the enzyme and prevents the allicin from being formed (once allicin is made it is heat resistant). So if you are looking to boost the levels of allicin in your food, you should mince your garlic and then let it sit for 10 minutes before you cook with it.  The enzyme will then have plenty of time to generate allicin.

The collardini are the florets of bolting collard plants and are great sauteed, braised, grilled, or roasted. See last week’s posts for recipe ideas.

These bok choi are giant with white tender leaf stalks. I separate the leaf stalk/rib from the spoon-like leaves and chop these into bite-size chunks. They should go into the sautee pan/wok a few minutes before the leaves, so they will have time to soften. Here is a sampler of ten different recipes using this vegetable. Traditionally, bok choi is cooked, but it can be eaten raw. The stems have a lovely crunch followed by sweet juice. I really like making a salad from thinly sliced bok choi and peanut sauce. The bright and creamy flavors of the sauce pair well with the texture of the bok choi. It’s also really quick to prepare! If you are looking for an adventure this week, you could try bok choi with congee, a rice porridge that is really comforting (and easy to make, though it does take some time). This recipe will get you started, but you might want to add an egg (over easy or soft boiled) to the final plate to make the meal more filling.

Finally a few of you took me up on the cardoons this week. As one of you mentioned, they look almost prehistoric with their spreading leaves and large bases. Cooking cardoons is an involved process because they require so much preparation, but you will be rewarded with a sublime eating experience. Here are few ideas for how to cook them. Try this traditional casserole with a creamy, bechamel sauce or maybe create a gratin. A simple way to eat them is to make a creamy soup with the cardoons, which is the method I prefer.  My only recommendations is to change the water once while you are boiling/blanching them. The water will become dark brown as bitter compounds from the cardoons are released. Throwing out that water will help the final dish be balanced in flavor without any overpowering bitterness. You can also fry cardoons, though you still have to blanch them first.

Take care and eat well.