Monday, July 27, 2009


I picked up my 7/15 CSA share... and promptly drove it to Maine for vacation with my family. Considering we had 8 adults and 4 children sharing a small kitchen, I don't actually know where all the week five produce and goodies went. I do know for certain that the five pound bag of local oats was cooked into oatmeal on more than one cool, crisp, lakeside morning (extra good drizzled with local maple syrup, which we picked up on our way out of town at our regular location - the barber shop down the street. How much more small town Vermont can you get?).

The mesclun greens appeared in a few salads, as did the bunch of carrots, sugar snap peas and red and purple peppers.

The purple peppers, by the way, were unlike any pepper I have tasted. The flesh was even more crisp than usual, and the flavor had a subtle bite to it. I've been putting recent purple peppers into chicken salads and soups.

One of these mesclun salads during our vacation appeared alongside our annual Maine lobster boil, joining my mom's homemade bread (nothing makes me wish I was still a kid living at home more than my mom's fresh baked bread) and corn on the cob.

Week six produce arrived while I was vacationing in Maine, so my friend picked it up and enjoyed the haul (aside from a slab of bleu cheese, which she was kind enough to deliver back to me, and we have been devouring ever since). Check out her photo of week six on her blog, Lou-la-la.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Warm Asian Potato Salad

My week four CSA arrived with some pretty impressive looking greens. The colors were really appealing, and practically shouted "I am a summer vegetable!" I was most excited, though, for some of the non-greens produce - red potatoes, an amazing amount of carrots, broccoli (which I later discovered had nice, peppery taste to it - so much more flavor than the grocery variety), plus a kohlrabi.

This was my first experience with kohlrabi, which Pete's Greens, my CSA farm, describes as "a member of the cabbage family... Raw, it is crisp, sweet and clean, strikingly reminiscent of raw broccoli stalks." They go on to describe how it tastes cooked ("milk, nutty, cabbage-like flavor"), but honestly I never found that out. I experimented with kohlrabi raw, plain, by itself, and didn't have much leftover after that. I had just enough to shred into a cole slaw, which was a wonderful addition.

Potato salad, though, is a front-runner for my favorite summer dish. I'm particularly partial to creamy potato salads with a hint of mustard or an addition of pickles. With week four, though, I was looking for something a little different to accompany some stir-fried shrimp and veggies. I found a warm Asian potato salad on that fit bill. It used a few ingredients from CSA (potatoes, green onion, cilantro), but I mainly liked it for its simplicity. This recipe really lets the ingredients and flavor combinations speak for themselves, and was a nice change of pace from traditional summer potato salads.

Warm Asian Potato Salad

1-1/2 lbs fingering potatoes (I used red)
1-1/4 t salt
2 T seasoned rice vinegar (I used regular rice vinegar)
2 T olive oil
1 t Asian sesame oil
1 small red pepper, thinly sliced
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1/2 jalapeno chile, seeded and minced (I left this out because I didn't have one)
1/2 cup (loosely packed) fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

In a 4-quart saucepan, place potatoes, 1 t salt, and enough water to cover; heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 10 to 12 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender. Drain.

Meanwhile, in medium serving bowl, with wire whisk, mix vinegar, olive oil, sesame oil, and remaining 1/4 t salt until blended. Stir red pepper, green onion, jalapeno, and cilantro into dressing.

When potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut each lengthwise in half. Immediately add potatoes to bowl with dressing; toss to coat.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Chicken and Goat Cheese Strata.

The past week has been so busy (holidays will do that), I hardly remember everything I cooked in general, let alone with my CSA goodies. I'm fairly confident I did cook, as most of my produce is gone and my family seems well-fed.

I was particularly excited about my week 3 CSA delivery, because it included a number of veggies that weren't just greens. I love greens (except kale, see post below), but I was ready for other produce to experiment with:
  • I used the tomatoes and basil for a fresh pasta sauce.
  • I stir-fried the carrots and napa cabbage (both shredded) with chopped garlic scapes, ginger, scallions and chicken, and sprinkled with crushed red pepper.
  • I used the dill for another batch of Dilled Potato Salad with Pickled Cucumbers (I seriously cannot get enough of those pickles).
My next CSA delivery is tomorrow, so tonight I found myself staring at my leftover ingredients, trying to decide how I could incorporate all of them into one dish: chunks of rosemary-olive oil bread leftover from Saturday's brick-pressed sandwiches (bread wasn't CSA, but still quite good), a few garlic scapes, a TON of scallions (why so many scallions? They must grow like a weed. Ha.), local eggs, parsley....


Luckily I had half a package of goat cheese and some chicken (which is actually quite a miracle. I often have a mental block against thawing meat in time for dinner), so I got to work.

Chicken and Goat Cheese Strata
Serves about 6
Adapted from

2 t olive oil
Garlic scapes (to taste), chopped
Scallions (to taste), chopped
Leftover bread, torn or sliced into cubes (equivalent to about 6 large slices)
6 eggs
2 cups milk (or half-and-half)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pepper (a few grinds)
Chopped parsley
Goat cheese (I used probably less than 2 oz, but you could definitely use more!)
Shredded chicken (I used about 8 oz)

Sautee garlic scapes and scallions in olive oil until scallions are limp. (This step isn't essential, but I didn't want the flavors to be overpowering.)

Spread half the bread cubes in an 11 x 7 baking pan coated with cooking spray. Combine eggs, milk, salt and pepper with a whisk in a medium bowl. Pour half the egg mixture over the bread, top with half the garlic scapes/scallions, half the goat cheese and half the chicken. Repeat layers.

Cover dish with cling wrap and top with three canned goods (to ensure all bread gets soaked in the egg mixture). Allow to sit for at least 15 minutes. May be refrigerated overnight, but bring back to room temperature before baking.

Bake at 325° for approximately 50 minutes, or until strata is just set. Broil under heat for about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand about 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

CSA Week 2: A few of my favorite things.

I cooked up a messy, delicious storm this past weekend, and came away with many new favorite recipes (thank you CSA! I never would have tried a lot of these if not for the produce already in my fridge). Four of the recipes were completely derived from my week 2 CSA produce. One of them had absolutely nothing to do with the CSA, but it's handy to have a sweet treat while creating a CSA masterpiece, yes? I'll get to that later.

First, my CSA creations:

Dilled Potato Salad with Pickled Cucumbers
By far my favorite recipe from week 2 was Dilled Potato Salad with Pickled Cucumbers, first spotted in my Pete's Greens CSA newsletter, which they adapted from Bon Appetit (click for recipe). This recipe first caught my eye because my week 2 delivery included potatoes, dill and radishes, all included in this dish. Also, I love pickles! The crisp, fresh flavor of raw cucumber marinated overnight just can't be rivaled by a store-bought variety. Combined with the other ingredients in this dish, it is a must-try summer recipe.

Dandelion Green Salad
My runner-up recipe for the week was Dandelion Green Salad. This one also came from my CSA newsletter. Once again, I had never used dandelion greens for cooking (are you sensing the trend here?). The process was so quick and simple. While dandelion greens are fairly bitter, the dressing for this salad balanced out the bitterness quite well (plus, doesn't everything taste better with bacon?). I made this on two separate nights. The first time, I didn't make as much dressing and my husband (i.e. "taste-tester") felt it was too bitter. The second time, though, he was won over by drizzling more of the sweet/salty dressing. Since it's so simple, I'll post the recipe:

Three strips of bacon
1-2 TB, finely minced shallots (or onion and a small clove garlic)
2 TB good vinegar (cider preferred)
A touch of maple syrup
A little olive oil
dandelion greens chopped
toasted pine nuts

Chop the bacon and cook in a medium sized skillet over medium heat until they releast their fat and become crispy. Add the shallots and cook 5 mins or so until they begin to soften. Next, add 2 TB of vinegar and cook for a few minutes. Add a bit of maple syrup and olive oil. Pour hot dressing over fresh washed greens, toss and garnish with some toasted pine nuts.

Muffins - Strawberry-Rhubarb and Vermont
I like any sort of baked good, so I jumped at the opportunity to make two different kinds of muffins with this week's CSA delivery. My favorite was the Strawberry-Rhubarb Muffins. After reviewing many potential contenders, I stumbled upon this recipe from Fox News in Providence, RI through a Google search. The original recipe is from Nancy's Fancies in Providence, a bakery I have never visited but would happily sample the next time I'm in town. Which will probably be 10 years from now. If not longer. But at any rate, the best part about these muffins is the crunch topping, made from a combination of oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter (just pretend there's not really a lot of butter in this recipe, you'll feel better about yourself). Of course, the combination of strawberry and rhubarb transports me to a sunny, breezy, green pasture on a warm summer day, with clean fresh linens blowing in the wind and happy, laughing children in spotless white clothing running carefree through the fields (too much? Maybe too much.). That feeling alone would make these muffins worth the baking.

The second muffin recipe was Vermont Summer Muffins from Greensgrow Farms. A farm in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania. Yes, I agree, a bit odd for a Vermonter to make a "Vermont" recipe from a farm in Philadelphia. To quote my own personal mantra, "whatever." But nonetheless, these Vermont muffins lived up to their name. They are a wonderful savory dinner muffin, perfect with a grilled meat and salad. I used a Vermont cheddar and local parsley, green onions, dill and eggs. I didn't have zucchini in my CSA box, so I had to make do with grocery squash. My only complaint is I found them just slightly dry, but I'm still figuring out how to fix that. My quick fix was cutting a muffin in half and grilling it on the George (the George Forman grill for those of you not familiar with my sophisticated cooking tools).

M+M Cookies
Finally, on to my last recipe, which had nothing to do with my CSA but was so good I'm still going to share it. I've recently discovered a website called I've made a few of their recipes and have L-O-V-E-D every one of them (you MUST try the lemon tart. Our guests asked, "Did you MAKE this crust?" Um, yes - in about 2 minutes.). My latest recipe, though, was M+M Cookies, hand-picked by my almost-4-year old. The recipe was so simple I thought I missed something. In fact, as they were baking and spreading more than I anticipated, I thought "There it is! I messed up the butter." But they actually came out of the oven looking bakery -ready (if I do say so myself), and stayed moist and chewy for as long as they lasted (a grand total of 2 days). I was pleased that they never crisped up. Maybe my kids will get super lucky, and we'll have M+Ms in our CSA next week....

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Kale update (aka I'd Rather Have Cake).

I didn't like it.

I was really hoping to like it. I thought I was supposed to like it. I almost forced myself to like it. But I didn't like it.

Maybe it was the recipe. Or perhaps the fact that I don't really like sauteed greens all that much in general (although can that really be true? The roasted beets with sauteed beet greens was so amazing I made it twice in two weeks). Maybe I was just in a funk (further evidence of this being the 1/4 chocolate cake I ate after dinner. I even decided to post a chocolate cake picture below instead of kale). Whatever it was, I don't think I'm crazy about kale. I'll try again, though, with a different preparation.

For what it's worth, my husband really liked tonight's kale, adapted from a Cooking Light recipe:

Sauteed Kale

6 cups kale
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon stone-ground mustard
1 tablespoon minced shallots

Combine all ingredients in a large skillet over medium heat. Cover and cook 8 minutes or until tender.

While kale might not be my favorite, over the weekend, I made a lot of recipes I enjoyed immensely (think strawberry-rhubarb muffins, dandelion greens salad, dilled potato salad with pickled cucumbers, Vermont summer muffins....), and I'll be posting about those soon!

Also, a word about the aforementioned chocolate cake that I devoured this evening: a friend introduced me to the Maple Grove Bakery chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting about a year ago, and I now make special trips to local stores just for this treat. I was thrilled when my CSA pick-up location, Sweet Clover Market, started carrying Maple Grove Bakery products recently. The bakery is located in Quechee, Vermont, but they make small-batch cakes from scratch and deliver them to locations around the state. This home-style baking is so obvious in the finished product, a moist, dense, rich cake just like homemade (or even better, depending on the cook). Since I'd much rather eat chocolate cake than kale, I'm posting a picture of what's left of tonight's cake (and please note there were four people eating. I did not act alone).
Blog Widget by LinkWithin