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.

Mudjoy CSA Week 10

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Everyone received kale or collard raab, cauliflower, and winter squash (one of several Brazilian varieties). To complete your share, you were able to choose from the following: Yukina Savoy, garlic, polenta, bok choi, mache, cabbage, beets, leeks, purple sprouting broccoli, Magic Molly purple potatoes, sunchokes, lettuce, braising mix, cilantro, cress, sweet dandelion, and mustard greens.

Raab are the florets of various brassica crops: kale, collards, cabbage, kohlrabi, and even Brussels sprouts send up florets in the spring. Unlike turnip raab, kale and collard raab don’t have the strong bitter notes, so blanching is unnecessary. Here is a simple prep for this vegetable–just sautee on high with garlic in olive oil and finish with salt, chile flakes, and lemon juice. One of our members, Shay, shared a trick his sister uses to finish the raab. After the raab reaches a tender stage, cut the heat off and let them rest in the pan. This removes additional moisture and leaves the raab almost crispy. Once these are done you can eat them as side or chop and combine with pasta and fennel sausage. For a vegetarian version, ditch the sausage and add a cream sauce. If you are eager to start up the grill, raab grill beautifully.

The cauliflower are the same as last week. Several of you shared recipes ideas for how to cook this lovely vegetable, though just roasting was a popular and easy approach. I like this idea from Alyse: it involves roasting the whole head basted in a curried yogurt sauce. Gina brought me the following recipe from Christina Pirello’s book, Christina Cooks, and after trying it, I am fan. I really like the pepita pesto, though I did substitute the basil and parsley for cilantro and a handful of braising mix.

Creamy Cauliflower Bisque with Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Bisque

1 onion, diced

1 head cauliflower, florets removed and coarsely chopped

1/2 cup arborio rice

5 cups water

Mirin [I used white wine]

Sea salt

Pesto

1 cup pumpkin seeds

1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup loosely packed fresh parsley

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbsp white miso

1/4 tsp chili powder

Juice of 2 lemons

To make the bisque:  Place the onion, cauliflower, and rice in a soup pot. Add the water, a generous splash of mirin and a pinch of salt. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the cauliflower is soft, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer the soup, by ladlefuls, to a food processor and puree until smooth. Return the soup to the pot and keep the soup at a simmer, while making the pesto.

To make the pesto: Place the pumpkin seeds, basil, parsley, and olive oil in a food processor and pulse into a coarse paste. Add the miso, chili powder and lemon juice. Puree until smooth. You may need to add a small amount of water to puree properly, but keep the pesto thick, so that it holds its shape in the soup.

To serve, spoon the soup into individual bowls and scoop a generous dollop of pesto in the center of each bowl.

Finally, the squash–these are varieties originally from Brazil, and they are all in the C. moschata or butternut family. At drop-off yesterday, I brought a ricotta cake I made with the puree of one of the squash. If you enjoyed it, the following is how I prepared the cake (based on this recipe from Bon Appetit). I hewed closely to the recipe only diverging in a few places. Instead of using white flour, I substituted completely with our whole wheat flour. I also added 1 tbsp of ground cardamom to the dry ingredients before incorporating the wet ingredients.   I reduced the sugar by half (pumpkin provides sweetness). Finally, instead of the raspberry, I folded in pureed roasted pumpkin (same volume). After cooking and cooling, I flipped the cake over onto a plate and drizzled with approximately a 1/2 cup of olive oil and let soak in.

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Mudjoy CSA Week 9

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Everyone received cauliflower, potatoes, and shallots this week.  You were able to choose the rest of your share from the following:  whole wheat flour, purple sprouting broccoli, cabbage, kale, spinach, sorrel, sunchokes, burdock, radicchio mix, senposai (Japanese collards), spaghetti squash, chives, Brussels sprouts, baby carrots, and bok choi.

This cauliflower was planted last August and has overwintered admirably during this mild winter. It’s still sweet from the distant cold. One of our members remarked that she was going to make cauliflower soup out of hers. I didn’t catch her recipe, but here is one that might suffice (Let me know Gina!). We are big fans of roasted and caramelized cauliflower. Cut the head in 1/4 inch slabs, dress with olive oil, and roast at 400F until nice and brown. Finish with ample salt. Since you received both cauliflower and potatoes, I always think of aloo gobi, a curry that combines both. Here is a recipe that reminds me of my time in India–if you don’t have the hing  and amchur, don’t sweat it. It will still be good without them.

The shallots from this week are a variety called Zebrune. They are long and lilac-colored. You don’t need many shallots in a recipe–they are more like garlic than onions in that way. But you can substitute them for onions, just one or two in lieu of a single onion. I know  that quite a few of you chose tender greens this week, so here is recipe for a mustard shallot vinaigrette that would work well as a dressing.

Finally, many of you chose burdock this week and had questions about how to cook it. I mentioned kinpira gobo as a traditional way the Japanese eat burdock–try this recipe if you are curious. If you don’t have dashi powder, you could get away with a splash or two of vegetable broth. I use burdock in fica bem soup, which is great for cold days and colds.  Finally, here is a burdock salad with sesame dressing that I plan to try this week. Oh, and you can always make tea from burdock root!

CSA Week 7

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We had amazing weather this last week, and it looks like it will hold for another few days. All of this sun recharges my soul and reminds me that indeed there is sun above those clouds. We aren’t the only creatures to respond this way; the fields feel different when I walk through them compared to the dreary days we had a week or two ago. The colors of the cover crops are deeper, the brussels sprouts ever so rounder and fuller, the rapini closer to starting their floral ascent. We’re all so lucky.

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This week everyone received Orchidea chicory, onions, and kohlrabi.  You were able to choose the rest of your share from the following: Purple Viking potatoes, sunchokes, garlic, sorrel, catsear, cabbage, kale, spinach, burdock, beets, polenta, baby chard, Brussels sprouts, winter squash, and carrots.

The chicory is beautiful leaf-type that works well as a fresh salad (see last week’s post for ideas in this direction). As always, if you are not a fan of the bitterness of chicory, slice it and soak in ice water to reduce the bitterness. This chicory would also work well in risotto; the buttery creaminess of the rice melds nicely with the walnut flavors of the chicory.  The Guardian has a nice piece here with many ideas for cooking chicory–the recipe for penne with sausage and chicory calls out to me. (I am going today to pick-up pork at the butcher that friends of ours raised for us.) When I was teacher, an Italian colleague of mine would eat raw chicory with a sprinkling of sugar–just like her mother loved to do.

The onions are a white storage variety–strong and pungent enough to keep till spring. Nothing special here–they can be used most places.

The kohlrabi is a mix of purple and green-skinned varieties. The differences in flavor are negligible, and since you peel and discard the skin, these two varieties are interchangeable. But the purple ones are prettier, and what’s life without a little beauty?As I wrote a few weeks ago about these, they are good raw or cooked.  If you are eating them raw, consider slicing them into very thin wavers and marinading with a vinaigrette (olive oil, salt, and lemon juice would be a nice minimalist approach).  They work well as a less starchy substitute for potatoes.  In fact I just made a green coconut curry with some of our goose using these, though I added some garlic at the end to this recipe. A stew made with beef, carrots, onions, barley and kohlrabi also sounds nice–check out a recipe here.

One last note: we’ll start accepting applications for our summer CSA soon, so if you are interested in continuing on with us during the summer and fall, let me know and I will reserve a spot for you.

Have a great weekend,

Harry & Jim

Mudjoy Week 6

I wanted to thank everyone for their kind words and concern about Jim. He is recovering well after the surgery and in good spirits with little pain. Knowing that others are thinking about him is the best medicine.

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This week everyone in the CSA received Sunshine winter squash, puntarelle chicory, and  sunchokes. You were able to choose the remainder of your share from the following: salad turnips, celeriac, braising mix, collards, leeks, garlic, Papa Cacho potatoes, beets, whole wheat flour, kimchi, cabbage, kohlrabi, erba stella, purple sprouting broccoli, and burdock.

Sunshine winter squash is a workhorse variety that we grow for its dependable production and appealing sweetness. Unlike some of our other varieties, it is good nearly out of the field, whereas other varieties require several months of curing to reach peak sweetness. I have been enjoying roasted wedges of these with almonds and dried cranberries and a spoonful of melted coconut oil for breakfast. I roast the squash ahead of time and reheat a wedge with nuts and berries in the morning. Another variation on breakfast is to fold the roasted pulp into pancake batter. Try drizzling good olive oil instead of syrup on these.

Now, for the puntarelle chicory. This has a pleasing bitterness (to me at least!), but if you wish to lessen that bitterness one can soak sliced puntarelle in ice water for 10 to 30 minutes to extract the bitterness. I think a bit of bitterness is good for the body, especially the digestive tract and liver. Puntarelle has a wonderful texture and crunch unlike other chicories that resemble lettuces in the mouth. I recommend that you take advantage of that crunch in a fresh salad.  Puntarelle is a Roman variety and they often dress it with a simple Ceasar-style dressing. You can read much more about this approach here.  I would also encourage you to combine sliced chicory (drained after soaking in the ice water) with grapefruit, chevre, olive oil and salt. If you love Japanese cuisine, I think a Ponzu sauce would go really well with this chicory, garnished with white sesame seeds.

Finally, those sunchokes. As I wrote before, roast these at high temperatures (400-425F) for 35 to 45 minutes. I usually slice them thin, so they cook uniformly and crisp and caramelize nicely. Overcooking is better than undercooking here. I know that these sometimes give people gas, so go slowly, treating them as more of a topping rather than plowing into a bowl of them. I made a successful salad with chicory and roasted sunchokes that was a hit at a potluck. Here is the recipe below.

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1 lb. of sunchokes, washed and sliced thinly

olive oil

1 head of chicory

1/2 c of Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced

3/4 c of crumbled feta

the rind and juice of one large lemon

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 425F. Toss the sliced sunchokes with olive oil and lay onto a large baking sheet in one layer. Roast for 35 to 45 minutes until golden and crunchy. Once the sunchokes are finished, salt them generously and set aside to cool.

Slice the head of chicory thinly. Combine 1/4 c of olive and the juice and the rind of the lemon. Pour over the chicory and using tongs coat the greens with the vinaigrette. Add the olives, feta, and sunchokes and toss once more. Finish with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt.