Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Summer Farm Share, Week 2

It's officially Summer! I think Siena Farms knows this too, because the Farm Share this week was much more colorful than last week's many shades of green. And, bonus, there was more stuffed into that box than there was last time (and more than I thought could possibly fit in there).

So, what did we get this week?
Exciting: Beets! Radishes! Shelling Peas! More green garlic!
Confusing: Kohlrabi.
Irritating: Cilantro?! (This was not even permitted to be in the picture). Also only slightly less irritating, fennel (to be discussed).
And all the rest, which were solid: braising greens, mixed greens, green oakleaf lettuce, Russian purple kale, and Boston bibb lettuce.

Meal 1: Udon Noodle Stir Fry
Items used: kohlrabi, 1 green garlic stalk

You already know what the first meal is going to be if you read last week's post. I wanted to save those scallions in order to make noodle stir-fry with whatever "stir fry ingredients" were in the next box. Well, as you can see, this was a puzzle -- none of these things seemed to be calling to me to be put into a stir fry. I was certainly not going to use those shelling peas because I was virtually certain to overcook them in a stir fry. Luckily, that handy little newsletter Siena Farms sends gave me an idea. The taste of Kohlrabi, they said, reminded them of broccoli. So, I told myself that I'd just cook it as if it were broccoli, something that I often put in noodle stir fries. Also, to be safe, I googled "kohlrabi" and "stir fry" together --- some entries came up, which I assumed meant that someone either has put kohlrabi in a stir fry, or at least has thought about it enough to ask a chat board. Good enough for me!

Kohlrabi, above peeled and cut
The final dish: kohlrabi are the yellow cubes.
But how to prep it? It looks like an upside down purple turnip with spider arms sticking out. Trusty google solved this, too: just snip those legs, peel it and chop it up into cubes. I took a taste of it before cooking and it tasted like a cross between broccoli and an apple to me. But overall it was pretty mild, which was good, because I knew I could add flavor to it. I cooked them first, with about a tsp of shredded fresh ginger, garlic, a very teeny bit of sambal, and soy sauce. Then proceeded with the rest of the recipe that I've shown you before here. And to the right is the final dish.

Meal 2: Vegetable Frittata
Used: Braising greens, other green garlic stalk, half of mixed greens (for side salad)

Braising greens, green garlic
and mushrooms: ready for eggs
One of the things I have learned so far with a farm share is how to get a lot of veggies into a meal with little effort. What is a great way to use a lot of veggies with little effort, you ask? A frittata! Had I ever made one before? Nope! But I have made a lot of scrambled eggs, and they have been mostly successful, so, I thought I'd give it a shot. I used my trusty Cook's Illustrated Cookbook to look up a frittata, but man did that recipe seem complicated. I wanted something easy for a Friday night, and I am not picky when it comes to frittatas, so I searched on Epicurious and found a good base recipe (meaning you can feel free to change the veggies I have in here to suit your tastes, or, perhaps, your own farm share). I must say, it came out pretty good.

Vegetable Frittata

12 eggs (yes, 12! but it should serve 4-6 people so don't worry too much about your arteries)
1/2 cup sour cream
Chopped parsley (a handful)
3/4 cup of shredded cheese (I used a combo of mozzarella and parmesan)
1 small package of mushrooms, sliced thin
1 bag of braising greens
1 stalk of green garlic (you can use an onion or leek, too), sliced into rounds
Olive oil

Egg dumped over it all.
Preheat the oven to 350. For this recipe you will need a deep oven-proof skillet (no plastic or rubber on the handle!) that will be large enough to accommodate the eggs. When in doubt, go larger, as the eggs will puff up when cooked. Put about a TBSP of olive oil in the pan on the stove over medium heat, and add in your sliced green garlic. Once that has browned up a bit, add the mushrooms. You may need to add some water to keep everything from burning because mushrooms suck up oil fast and take a while to release their own liquid. I kept a little cup of water near them for this purpose. Then, once the mushrooms are browned (about 5 minutes or so), add in the braising greens on top of everything, just like last week. Stir them around until they wilt, and add a generous amount of salt and pepper to season everything. After all this is cooked, put it on low while you combine in a large pitcher type container: all the eggs, the sour cream, the cheese (but keep a bit to the side to sprinkle on the top) and the parsley, plus some salt and pepper. Whisk these up until everything is combined. Put the vegetables up to medium, sprinkle some olive oil over them, and then dump in the egg mixture over them. Let this cook for a few minutes.

Frittata, flipped.
At this juncture if you are using braising greens I would recommend that you take some tongs and gently pull up some of the greens from the bottom of the pan to spread through the egg. The greens tend to clump together and you'll see in my pictures that they mostly crowded on the bottom. It would have been nice to have them throughout the frittata but it was not the end of the world.

When the edges start to curl from the sides and harden a bit, then sprinkle the remaining cheese on the top, and pop it in the oven. In 20-25 minutes, you should see that the center is cooked (not jiggly anymore), and you can take it out. IMMEDIATELY put a potholder over the handle of the skillet. If you don't you risk seriously burning your hand because you forgot that you put that pan in the oven and therefore the handle is ~300 degrees. (Of course I did this. Thanks mom for telling me to run it under cold water and then keep it in ice water as long as I could stand it -- minimal blistering.) Let it cool for a minute and then take pot holders, and flip the pan upside down onto a cutting board or large plate. Cut into slices like a pie and serve.

Meal 3: Roasted Beet Salad
Used: Beets (and arugula from last week)

Now for the beets. Can I just tell you, beets are the freaking best. I used to think they were disgusting because the only place I had seen them when I was a kid was pickled in the Papa Gino's salad bar. They got their red juice all over everything and were sour and slimy (sorry PG's. I know you removed that salad bar long ago so thanks.) But beets are not like this at all. They have a great earthy, sweet, but adaptive flavor, and roasting is my favorite way to prepare them. I made a large beet salad for my sister-in-law's birthday party, and as you can probably tell from the above picture, three tiny beets were not going to serve more than one person, particularly since I was also attending said party. So I bought six more beets to supplement. Here's how to roast beets - prepare to be amazed.

Roasted Beets

Beets (however many you want)
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Preheat the oven to 375. Or if you're cooking something else at a different temperature in the oven, that's fine. Beets are flexible. Rinse your beets off in water. Take a piece of tin foil large enough to hold your beets in a packet. Place beets in the middle of foil. Drizzle with oil, and sprinkle on salt and pepper. Wrap up beets in foil (opening of foil should be on the top of the beets), place on cookie sheet, and roast for an hour. When you can put a knife through the beets without resistance, they are done!

Then, when they have cooled, just peel them with a peeler. The skins will slide right off...and your hands will be very very purple. You will have to resign yourself to purple tinged hands for a day. Chop up the beets to the size you like and enjoy as is, or as I did, which was to toss in a salad with arugula, walnuts, goat cheese, and a balsamic vinaigrette (see below).

Meal 4: Garden Salad
Used: Green Oakleaf lettuce, mixed greens, half of radishes

I know you all know how to make salad, so I will not detail this part of the recipe. But salad dressing? That tastes good? Maybe another story. Making your own dressing is intimidating, I know. But salad dressing in a bottle is typically just terrible for you. It is just a bunch of chemicals and salt and fat and stuff ...and normally I wouldn't harp on this because we are all grown ups, but typically, when you are making yourself a salad, you are trying to be healthy right? Adding that bottled dressing usually just cancels out that effort. I will wholeheartedly admit that one of my favorite things to eat is a good iceberg salad with ranch dressing on it, but I am here to tell you that I pretty much could eat a Snickers and be just as well off. Just want to advocate for awareness here.

So here's how we make balsamic vinaigrette. Get this stuff to the left out: Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper, and dried herbs of your choosing (I am using herbs d'provence, but you can use dried parsley, basil, or even skip this altogether). Also get a bowl big enough to house your salad in. A big bowl is key because you can make your dressing, and then when ready, add the greens, etc. on top of it, and toss it around with tongs so there is an even coating. This also curbs my tendency to pick bowls that are two small when making vinaigrette. The whisk needs room to move, and with a large salad bowl, it has plenty. I also need to make a note that if you have really good oil, and really good vinegar, then it is only natural that your dressing will be really good. I buy special stuff just for my dressings because I know I'll be eating it as is, and not cooking with it, so I get good flavor and life of use for my buck.

Ok, so, to the bottom of the bowl, add about a TBSP of vinegar, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of pepper. Easy right? These are your base flavors. If you want to get fancy later you can change this up (you can use mustard, or a different vinegar, or even beet juice). There's really only one step left, the one everyone dreads -- adding the oil so that it emulsifies. But don't worry, this is not as hard as it appears. Take a whisk in your dominant hand and a bottle of olive oil in the other. Begin dropping a little stream of olive oil in the bowl and immediately begin whisking at a pretty fast pace. Continue the stream and the whisking until everything is combined. You will probably use about 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup of olive oil. If it still looks separated, stop the stream of olive oil. Whisk it hard until it comes together. Taste it. If it seems thick, add just a teaspoon of water, and whisk again. I promise, it will emulsify if you whisk it hard and in a big enough bowl. Check out the visuals below, and give it a try!

Meal 5: Grilled Salmon with Grill-roasted Potatoes, Fennel and Radishes, and Peas
Used: Fennel, half of radishes, shelling peas

So, Noah and I try to eat fish once a week. I buy whatever looks good (and is on sale) at the fish counter and try to use it by the next day, or I freeze it right away (no one likes smelly fish). Because it is so summery out, I was going with the grill. I still have really not mastered the grilled fish. Putting the fish directly on the grate seems like a good idea. I even put olive oil on the fish and rub an oiled paper towel over the grates, but it always sticks and breaks when I flip it over. Ugh. See my best fish of the night on the left (not impressive I know).

But luckily, my side dishes were a super success; even using the dreaded fennel. Ok, I have a bone to pick with fennel. I first off hate the licorice-y taste of fennel, anise, anise seed, black jelly beans...yuck. Secondly, fennel seeds are terrible. Whenever they are in sausages or whatever other roast there is I am always pleasantly enjoying my meal until I bite into one of those babies and just want to gag. Some people love them. My mom eats these terrible "cookies" that are literally just studded with fennel as if they were chocolate chips. Ugh. So with these things in mind, you can see why I was not thrilled to get fennel, the plant, in my basket. However, I am aware that the plant is not the same as the seed, and many say it is much more mellow, and much more delicious than its seedy partner.

Veggies ready for packaging
Goal 1 is to try everything I get, right? So I was not going to give the fennel away. I decided to roast it, along with some other veggies, right on the grill.

Grill-roasted potatoes, fennel and radishes

3-4 Red bliss potatoes, washed
1 head of fennel
A few radishes (only if you like radishes)
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

The key to this recipe is to slice everything thinly. Before you start cutting, turn on your grill to high and let it heat with the cover closed. Then take the potatoes, fennel and radishes, and cut them into slices about a 1/4 in thick (when in doubt, go thinner). Toss them in a bowl together with olive oil (1 TBSP or so) and salt and pepper. Take a large piece of foil and spray one side with cooking spray. This part is essential -- last time I ended up with delicious potatoes that unfortunately had to be pried off in pieces. Lay the foil on the table spray side up, and but all the veggies on it in one layer (or close to it). They should not be piled in a mound but in an even layer. Add a final sprinkle of salt, and then wrap the packet up by folding over the corners so you have a rectangle of vegetables. If your foil does not cover everything, get another piece and wrap it over that. You will be flipping this packet over, so it needs to cover the contents.

Take that packet out to the grill, and plop it down. In 10 minutes or so, flip it over with a spatula. 10 minutes after that, flip it again. Continue to keep it on the grill and flip it every once in a while until whatever else you are cooking is done. It will need at least 20 minutes, but can take a lot longer. It would take a really long time for these to burn through the foil. When finished, open the foil, and take out the veggies to serve! Very simple, but a crowd-pleaser.

Lucky for me, this roasting method made the fennel delicious. I seriously loved it and thought it was even better than the potatoes. Surprisingly (or maybe not), the radishes were the worst part. They were pretty bitter, so, unless you are a big fan of radishes, I probably wouldn't add these. Although they certainly make the dish look nice.

Naturally, I also wanted something green on the side. I was really excited about these shelling peas. You don't get to eat fresh peas from a pod every day, and once the peas are outside of a pod, they really only have a few hours before their quality declines. The Farm Share newsletter said you could eat them raw and they would be delicious. Well, they were definitely right about that. I also mixed a few with a little ricotta and salt and pepper and spread that on some crackers. Deeelish. But anyway, I did want Noah to be able to have some, too. So I shelled all these peas and tossed them into some water, and heated them until they boiled for about one minute. These do not need a lot of cooking at all. Basically just a shock. Then I added a couple of chopped up basil leaves, a sprinkle of olive oil, and salt and pepper. Man, those were the best peas I ever tasted. And I usually don't even like peas. The finished dish didn't look half bad.

Meal (snack really) 6: Kale Chips
Used: Kale

I had to use up this kale, and I didn't really have a space in any of the meals this week. So of course, I went with the cliche: kale chips. I never really liked kale chips, but if you do, this recipe will do the trick. It is really easy. Cut the kale leaves off the stems and then into chip sized pieces. Toss with 1 TBSP of olive oil, salt and pepper, and pop into a 375 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, until crisp. Tadah!

Meal 7 (phew!): Asian Lettuce Wraps
Used: Boston Bibb Lettuce
Dinner is served!
Finally I said to myself, I need to use this Farm Share to make something that I have never even thought of trying. Otherwise, I'll just be making a lot of omelets, pizzas, and side dishes which is my typical vegetable M.O. So when the handy newsletter said that Boston Bibb was great for lettuce wraps I said, hey why not? And you know what, they were delicious! I highly suggest trying these.

Asian Lettuce Wrap Filling

1 Tbsp Canola or Peanut Oil
1 onion, diced
1 lb ground turkey
1/2 cup peanut sauce (make your own! Use 3T peanut butter, 3T soy sauce, 1T rice wine vinegar, 3T hot water, and one clove of mince garlic all mixed up together)
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce

Heat a large skillet on the stove, and add the oil. Then put in the onions and cook them for a few minutes until they soften. Then add in the turkey and as it cooks, break it up with a wooden spoon so it crumbles. Once it is all brown and there is no pink (about 7 minutes), add in all the other ingredients, and stir it around until coated and heated through. That's it!

I shredded carrots and cucumbers to put on as toppings, and made rice as an accompaniment. Now, for the lettuce piece. These leaves were ideal for wraps -- they were large and even shaped like cups. But one thing they also were was very dirty. There were so many nooks and crannies that it took several washes to get all the dirt out. So if you are going to make these, just make sure you have a little extra time washing and drying the leaves. It is definitely worth it. They really were delicious.

So, that's it this week! Let's do a rule check.

1) Try everything? Yep (Ok, I am eliminating the cilantro, but still). 2) Use everything. Yes!

Hope this helps you cook some new fresh dishes this week -- if you happen to see any of these things at the market, pick them up! You know they are in season and now you know at least one way to cook them.


  1. What does green garlic look like?

  2. It kind of looks like a leek. It's in the top left of the picture of everything we got in week 2, right next to the fennel.

  3. I am SO with you on the fennel thing! So terrible, and it's so in right now and I'm always so annoyed when i can't order a tasty sounding dish at a rest b/c they thought adding fennel was a good idea, ugh (rant over)