Veggie Overload

CSA recipes

I’ll be damned if I do anything half way: I went for the full share.

In hindsight, perhaps 20 pounds of vegetables is more than any one person can eat in a week.

Here chronicles this week’s brave attempt to defy the odds.

This week’s Turtle Bay CSA share:

1 bulb fresh garlic
1 red cabbage
1 white onion
1 red onion
1 bunch Swiss chard
1 bunch green basil
1 head romaine lettuce
1 bunch carrots
2 Italian eggplants
2 green zucchini
6 pasture raised eggs

Sautéed Swiss Chard

To a sliced onion in some olive oil in a skillet, I added minced garlic, the chopped chard and salt & pepper. The final incarnation of this dish was damn good quesadilla filling.

Roasted Red Cabbage

I put the quartered cabbage, drizzled with some olive oil and salt & pepper,  in a 400° oven until it started to brown on the edges.

Baba Ghanoush

I charred eggplant on my gas range, then puréed  the flesh with tahini, garlic, and lemon juice. This dish was nearly a complete fail: it is spreadable burnt. Next time I’ll roast the eggplant in the oven.

Zucchini Frittata

I’ve been relying on frittatas nearly every week to use up my eggs; this week I incorporated the zucchini, basil, some of the garlic and onion. Michael Chiarello’s recipe is very close to this version.

Carrot & Chickpea Salad with Carrot Green Chimichurri

I used this carrot green chimichurri by Love & Lemons as a dressing on a grated carrot and chickpea salad.

Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes

Flourless Chocolate

I prefer my brownies baked just enough to remove the fear of eating raw eggs from the experience, gooey enough to require a spoon. Rumor has it that Suri Cruise sides with me in the fudgy vs. cakey debate

Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 3 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate
  • 2 sticks + 2 tablespoons butter, warmed to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 egg whites

Preheat oven to 300°.  Melt chocolate (carefully!- do not overheat) and put into mixing bowl fitted with paddle attachment. Add softened butter in small chunks to melted chocolate on low-speed. Mix and heat water, sugar and salt until sugar and salt are dissolved. Add warm (again, not hot!) water mixture to chocolate mixture once butter is incorporated. Add eggs and egg whites slowly on slow speed.  Mix, scrape down sides of bowl, then mix again to make sure batter is combined. Fill cups a 1/4 inch from the top and bake mini size for 30 minutes, standard size for 60 minutes.

An Unorthodox Christmas Eve: Split Pea & Sweet Potato Soup

My sister has never been one to follow any directions closely. Including Bisquik pancakes and Betty Crocker brownies, she estimates accurately following recipes perhaps a dozen times . . . in her entire life.

Despite all that, she fearlessly took charge of Christmas Eve Dinner.  And in so doing, she illustrated what I love most about my family: unconventional, unpretentious, and bucking any but the bits of tradition that truly hold value.

Her inspiration was this recipe, given to her by a coworker (a dietitian). The original garnishes the soup with pumpkin seeds, but true to form, she took a vegan recipe and topped it with ham. The seeds would have added texture and crunch, but the spicy sausage was undeniably awesome.

Split Pea Sweet Potato Soup Christmas

The original recipe says to saute the onion in water. Heresy!
The original recipe says to saute the onion in water. Heresy!
Split Pea Sweet Potato Soup Christmas
Vanna White after discovering the difference between mircoplane and box graters

Split Pea Sweet Potato Soup Christmas

Split Pea & Sweet Potato Soup

  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 2 cups dried split peas
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 lb spicy sausage
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Bring 1/2 cup chicken broth to a simmer in a large saucepot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook about 5 minutes or until translucent, adding more broth, butter, or olive oil as needed to keep from sticking to the pan. Stir in ginger and cook 1 minute, stirring. Add remaining broth and water, peas and sweet potato cubes, and additional seasonings. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Uncover and purée soup with a hand held immersion blender or in batches in a food processor until smooth. Taste for sea and garnish with pan-fried sausage cubes.

Garlic Butter

  • 3 cloves garlic, or to taste (oh, go ahead and do the entire head, you will find a use for the extra)
  • 1/2 stick butter, warmed to room temperature

Wrap cloves of garlic in aluminum foil and roast at ~350° for ~20 minutes. Unwrap, peal, and mash garlic cloves. Mix with softened butter.

Bread with garlic butter
Bread with garlic butter

Split Pea Sweet Potato Soup Christmas

Christmas morning
Christmas morning

Split Pea Sweet Potato Soup Christmas

Split Pea Sweet Potato Soup Christmas

Split Pea Sweet Potato Soup Christmas

Brenna’s Banana Bread Cinnamon Rolls

Thanks to Brenna Ozment, guest baker, photographer,
and author of this post!

I am not an experienced baker, but I have done holiday baking as assistant to my lovely sister Jessica. Here documents the most elaborate baking endeavor I’ve attempted on my own.

I saw three bananas in the fruit bowl slowly turning black and decided to make something for the family. We all love cinnamon rolls yet they have had a sporadic appearance on the table. I settled on Banana Bread Cinnamon Rolls from the Cooking Classy.

I definitely didn’t learn from that silly project in elementary school, where they give you a whole list of directions like “write your name on the chalkboard” and then at the end it says to not do any of it, and I definitely didn’t read the recipe directions in their entirety before I started baking. This recipe is intense! The dough needs to be left to rise twice, exact temperatures for the milk and butter mixture when you add the yeast. Anyway, I decided to wing it.

First purée the bananas with lemon juice. I just put them in a standup mixer and squeezed some fresh lemon juice in. I really hope no one finds a stray lemon seed… oops. Meanwhile, I heated the milk and diced butter mixture on the stove. Then I removed the banana bowl and put a new bowl where you add the oil and the milk/butter and let it cool (no thermometer so I just guesstimated) and add the yeast then let it stand for 5 minutes. Thank god for timers on stoves. Next you add the sugar, salt, egg yolk, and 2 cups of BREAD flour and bananas. The directions say to use a paddle attachment; I just used the whisk ones and kept stopping it to fold the dough around. Also, I just used bleached white flour. Then add more flour and corn-starch with a different attachment (I used the same one again) and let it rise for an hour and half.

When I came back I had forgotten where I was in the directions and so I re-read it like 5 times skipping around trying to find my place. Not very time efficient, but that’s the way I roll! In a small bowl I added a bunch of light brown sugar, and dumped in some cinnamon and nutmeg. Measure, you ask, I answer: why?!

Separately, add more flour and baking powder to the now risen dough. I kneaded it with my hands, not the mixer, despite it covering my hands as it is very very very sticky by this point. Next lay it out on a surface that is very floured and roll out with a rolling-pin. Keep a little cup of flour next to you so you can re-flour your hands and the roller constantly. Next, spread melted butter with a spoon, spreading it around with the back of the spoon, on the now flattened dough. Pour the awesome cinnamon roll filling on the dough. The more square you make the dough when you roll it out, the less likely you will have two oblong rolls when you cut. Once it is rolled up (be careful about the dough sticking underneath!! Pull lightly!!) use a large non-serrated knife to cut it into 12 rolls. They will flatten: when you pick them up and put them on a buttered cooking pan, reshape them circular. Then cover AGAIN and let rise for 45 minutes. Bake and then put some awesome stuff on top like cream cheese frosting and nuts.

They are in the oven now… I am very curious if my “winging it” will work. Baking is not always forgiving to this approach.

They look okay, but they are came out looking very powdery from the flour on the outside of the rolls. So, perhaps butter the outside of the rolls so the flour looks like its gone after putting them on the pan.

*A few hours later*

Now that I have awaken from a very pleasant sugar coma, I must say, those rolls are awesome. They may have been better had I followed the directions precisely, but I can’t imagine by much. Cooking is an experiment! And although I thoroughly enjoyed mine, when I am make challah bread tomorrow, I will follow those directions as close as possible and read ALL the directions diligently before I begin.

Heather’s Thyme Soup [Extended Remix]

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A feast hosted by a rustic queen

Heather, a self-proclaimed descendant of “pot-pie-people,” explained that this soup evolved from her foray into learning to be a grown-up. The recipe evolved from one she found in a French cookbook checked out of her college library, after moving into her first apartment. The book was a bold choice for a beginning cook and this recipe was initially chosen as the modest option out of many with extravagant ingredients and techniques. Simplified by skipping the work of puréeing the final product, this  ‘remixed’ version is  far from the fussy original.

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SOUP, FRENCH STYLE

  • Consommés: clear soup made from stock that has been clarified with a process using egg whites to remove fat
  • Potages: thick soups of meat and vegetables boiled together with water until they form into a thick mush
  • Bisques: smooth, creamy soup based on a strained seafood broth
  • Soupes: served atop slices of bread
  • Bouillabaisse: a traditional Provençal fish stew
  • Soupe Moulinée: coarsely-puréed soup
  • Veloutés: finely puréed creamy soup with a roux base

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The essential oil derived from thyme (thymol) is an antiseptic and is the main active ingredient in Listerine.

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HEATHER’S THYME SOUP (EXTENDED REMIX)
  • 1 cup macaroni
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 cup corn
  • 3 tbsps olive oil
  • 20 sprigs thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 2 qts water
  • 12 large cloves garlic
  • salt/pepper
  • 1 cup light cream
  • 1 medium leek
  1. Chop onion, leek, celery, carrot.
  2. Toss in pot bottom with oil and corn.
  3. Stir 5-10 minutes on medium heat.
  4. Add water and macaroni.
  5. Place strainer in pot.
  6. Let simmer while counting thyme.
  7. Toss thyme, bay leaf, peppercorns [in the strainer].
  8. Peel and slice garlic, toss [in the strainer].
  9. Heat between medium/high.
  10. Stir occasionally.
  11. When it boils, cover.
  12. Simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  13. [Add] salt and pepper [to taste].
  14. Add cream.
  15. Serve with warm bread.

Summer in the City: Fresh Blueberry Pie

A teacher friend of mine, using her summer vacation to cross things off her bucket list, revealed to me her intention to lose her pastry-making virginity. She consented to have the occasion documented. Here is the result.

I’ve made a pie crust or two in the past, but with highly inconsistent results. Apparently, the keys to success are SPEED & TEMPERATURE.

As with all flour related cooking experiments, the gluten development (or rather the lack of it in this case) is the important factor in a delicate, flaky pastry. Gluten is the protein structure that forms when gas is released as bread rises; a high protein flour will allow the stretchy, chewy, workable dough ideal for say, pizza crust. So alternatively, using a low protein flour and discouraging gluten formation will result in a more delicate pastry.

Keep the dough ingredients chilled and work the dough as little as possible. Chill both the fat and the water. As for the type of fat used, butter is great for flavor, and shortening for texture- a combination works especially well.

Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker and Joy of Cooking

Pastry

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons cold water

Filling

  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 cups blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon butter

In medium bowl, mix 2 cups flour and the salt. Cut in the shortening and butter using a pastry blender. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans side of bowl, adding 1-2 teaspoons more water if necessary. It should still look dry. Pinch some of the dough to see if it clumps together: if it does, it’s ready.

Gather pastry into a ball. Divide in half; shape into 2 discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 45 minutes.

Heat oven to 425°F. With floured rolling-pin, roll one disc into a sheet 2 inches larger than upside-down 9-inch glass pie plate. Roll sheet of dough around rolling-pin & transfer to the pie plate. If it tears or cracks, just pinch it together again and use scraps & water to repair any holes.

In a large bowl, mix the sugar, 1/2 cup flour and the cinnamon with the blueberries and spoon into pastry-lined pie plate. Sprinkle with lemon juice and the butter cut into small pieces. Cover with top pastry. Cut slits in it and crimp the edges either with a fork or by pinching around the edge with your fingers. Cover edge with a strip of foil to prevent the rim from getting too brown.

Bake 35-45 minutes or until crust is golden brown and juice begins to bubble through the slits in the crust, removing foil for last 15 minutes of baking. Cool 2+ hours for the increased possibility of intact slices.

End of Season Shortcake

The autumnal equinox officiated the end of summer last week (September 23), and with it comes the end of peach season. To honor both summer and one of its more divine gifts, what could be more appropriate than shortcake?

Biscuits, prepared with Trader Joe’s Multigrain Baking & Pancake Mix, according to recipe on the box:

  • 1 cup of baking mix
  • 1/3 cup milk and
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil

Combine, knead, roll, cut and bake.

Cool Whip topping or, if you’re feeling ambitious, make your own:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
Whip cream until soft peaks begin to form. Beat in vanilla and sugar and continue to beat until peaks form. Do not over-beat, you’ll end up with butter.
  • fresh peaches, sliced  (about 1/2 peach per serving)
  • honey  (to taste, approximately 1 1/2 tsp per serving)*
Halve biscuits. Layer sliced peaches and whipped cream to form a sandwich. Drizzle with honey.

Cur, Cocks & Quiche

Introductions at my aunt’s farmyard were nothing short of spectacular: Watson, my 80 lb. shepherd/husky mix, catapulted into the chicken coop fencing, sending panicked hens into a squawking frenzy around the downed wire.  It was a fantastic sight to see his canine form bolt across the yard with a zen-like singleness of purpose, and punctuated by a leap of such grace! But the performance was ultimately self-sabotage;  off-leash privileges, a rarity in our daily New York City life, were eliminated the remainder of our visit.

My aunt feeding cherry tomatoes to her brood

With a richer, more golden, and much larger yolk than those bought at the grocery store, the eggs these hens produce are magnificent. And although I used ‘quiche’ in the post title for the purpose of alliteration, this is technically a frittata. A quiche has a pie crust whereas a frittata is basically a large, fluffy open-faced omelet.

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • toppings of choice, chopped (in this case, garden fresh cherry tomatoes, broccoli, onions and basil)
  • 1 c. grated cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to broil.

Whisk the eggs with salt and pepper.

Melt butter in a 12-inch oven safe skillet over medium high heat.

Add eggs, stir with a rubber spatula until they starting to set, about 5 minutes.

Add toppings and cheese, place in the oven until lightly browned, 3-5 minutes.

Caitlin’s REAL Garden Salad

Using loot from my aunt’s garden, my cousin Caitlin created this bright salad. It is hearty enough to be a simple lunch, would make great potluck addition, and would be an elegant side-dish at a dinner party. The fresh herbs and the tangy yogurt dressing make for a vibrant flavor perfect for surviving this record-breaking heat.

Salad

  • 1 summer squash
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/2 c. cauliflower
  • 1/2 c. broccoli
  • 1/2 c. corn, fresh sliced off the cob or frozen
  • 1/2 c. garbanzo beans, canned or soaked in water and boiled till tender
Dressing
  • 1 handful fresh basil
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 c. yogurt
  • 1 sprig fresh dill

Chop the squash, cauliflower, broccoli, and carrot into bite-sized chunks. Steam them with the corn till crisp-tender. Add the beans.

Blend all the dressing ingredients, Caitlin suggests using a Vitamix. Toss the veggies in the dressing. If possible, make the salad ahead of time, leaving it time to marinate.

Polenta Squares

Polenta = day old grits

I’ve discovered that my beloved definition, although it appeals to my Southern sensibility, is dead wrong. The Anson Mills site explains that the two foods, nearly indistinguishable to all but  the most experienced palates, are ground from different varieties of corn, dent and flint:

Corn is classified by the type of starch (endosperm) in its kernels. The premier mill corn of the American South, known as dent (the name derives from the dent that forms on the top of each kernel as it dries), has a relatively soft, starchy center. Dent corn makes easy work of milling–it also makes phenomenal grits.

Flint corn, by contrast, has a hard, starchy endosperm and produces grittier, more granular meal that offers an outstanding mouthfeel when cooked. One type of American flint–indigenous to the Northeast–was, and remains, the traditional choice for Johnny cakes. In Italy, flint has been the preeminent polenta corn since the 16th century when Spanish and Portuguese treasure hunters brought Caribbean flint to the Piedmont on ships.

This wasn’t my only discovery in this recipe experiment. My attempts to pan fry chunks of the polenta loaf were in vain; the resulting mush was delicious but formless. I kept the shape and got the crust I was after by cranking up the broiler, but if anyone has any suggestions for a stovetop technique, do share it!

Polenta

2 cups broth*

1 cup water

1 cup corn meal

Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 – 2 cups chopped veggies (peppers, onion, mushrooms, etc.)**

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 – 1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes, canned crushed tomatoes, or jarred tomato sauce

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Bring the broth to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir constantly until the polenta thickens, about 5 minutes. Pour the polenta into a greased dish. Cover and let stand at room temperature until set, about 15 minutes. Cut the polenta into squares, top with grated mozzarella, and place under the broiler to toast and melt cheese.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the chopped vegetables. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and saute until the juices evaporate, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic. Add the tomatoes and decrease the heat to medium-low, simmer till heated through and all veggies are tender. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil.  Season to taste with more salt and pepper and/or hot sauce.

Serve the cheesy polenta planks topped with the sauce.

*I used stock made from the bone in a roasted pork shoulder

**I used roasted veggies that I keep on hand in the fridge