Thursday, July 11, 2013

Summer Farm Share, Week 4

Ah, a holiday week. I know that at present it is actually after the holiday week and therefore you are probably all sad like me that we had to go back to work and can't relive the 4-day weekend. Boohoo. But what a great haul for a holiday week from the farm share!

Super excited about: fava beans, rainbow beets, CARROTS (what!? I thought these didn't come out until the fall!), many different little summer squashies, bok choy, and a new herb, summer savory.
Meh about: green oakleaf lettuce, fennel.
Ugh about: red russian kale (again, argh) and broccoli plant leaves?!!!!!

Overall, this was a great basket for a weekend full of cookouts, and a few recuperating meals to finish the next week off. So let's get started.

I love get-togethers, particularly those that are outside and involve grills. Fortunately for me, when moved back up to New England, the cement "patio" that we had in Philadelphia was blown out of the water by a really nice yard space with grass. This space is GREAT for a cookout because although it is not enormous, it is the biggest grassy space on the street, and  has enough space for two grills and all the tables and drinks and seating you could want for a group of up to 20. PERFECT space for hosting a July 4th cookout right? Well, not if it's 95 zillion degrees with humidity of 100%. So after I had invited several family members over for a cookout, I realized, this would be a cookout only in the literal sense in that we would cook outside, but eat and socialize inside. But, I forged ahead in using my farm share supplies to the best of my abilities to wow guests with the food.

Meal 1 (side dishes really): Cookout Fare
Ingredients used: half of summer squash, green oakleaf lettuce, beets

So I made another beet salad, using more lettuce and fewer beets this time. Sorry to bore you. But the summer squash was much more exciting, at least for me. I have to say that I once was a summer squash hater. I hated the texture, the taste, everything about it... except the outside of course, which is always pretty (particularly the variety in the share this week). But recently I've been realizing that there are two things that will make summer squash unappealing: if it is too big, and therefore the seeds and mushy part around the seeds make up most of what you are eating, and/or if it is steamed. Man oh man does that stuff get watery and bland if it is steamed. And I did not want anything of that description at my cookout. So, I grilled it. So much better. I sliced it the long way (to make it easier to handle on the grill without slipping through the grates -- still a challenge though, so be vigilant!) marinated it in (yes, again) my trusty balsamic vinaigrette a few hours ahead (you can do it for as little as 10 minutes), and then my father-in-law, manning the veggie grill, cooked them for a few minutes on each side until they browned up. Unfortunately they were all scarfed down before I remembered to take a picture of them cooked, but hopefully you'll get the idea from the before picture.

After this cookout I managed to eat out or at other people's houses for the remainder of the weekend, with the small exception of omelets for lunch on Saturday, in which I used some of the summer savory. This herb puzzled me, because it looks like rosemary, but tastes like thyme. Either way, it was good, but unfortunately, since it is relatively strong, I was not able to use all of it before it shriveled up soon after. Anyway, Monday, I tried to get us back on the eat-at-home wagon.

Meal 2: Haddock Filet with Steamed Carrots and Fava Bean Salad
Used: Carrots, Fava Beans, Fennel, Summer Savory

The fish was prepared using the same "slapping" technique I have mentioned in week 1. So carrots! So exciting to get them in the farm share. I love tiny carrots because you don't even have to peel them to eat them, only wash, and you can serve them all whole, so even less work.

Here is how I prepared these babies. I cut off most of the greens (I recommend trimming them all the way off if you use this technique -- I thought the ends would look cute but with this technique they sort of all just ripped off in the cooking process making a mess). Then I filled a small saucepan with an inch of water and a pinch of salt, put the carrots on top of them, and turned up the heat to high, with the cover on. Once they started steaming, I left them for about 5 minutes, and then opened and poked a knife into the side of one of them to see if they were done. They were not. Mine took about 10 minutes, but yours may be different depending on the sides. You want the knife to slide in pretty easy, but keep checking so they don't get overcooked and mushy. Just test every few minutes and you'll be fine! Then I drained, tossed, and finished them in olive oil and salt and pepper to serve.

And finally, fava bean salad. Ok, this (left) is how the fava beans looked when I got them. Gross right? Well Siena Farms says all those black warts are normal and they are not rotten. Ok fine. What is probably not normal is them accidentally freezing in your fridge because one of the beans was touching the cooling element on the top. Crap. But they turned out to be mostly salvageable -- but the beans don't produce very much anyway, which was why I was annoyed to have to toss even a few. With fava beans, you have to peel them twice. First, take them out of the bean pod, and they will look like they do on the upper right. Then you have to put those in boiling water for one minute, take them out, and then peel them again, and they will look like they do on the lower right. Much more appealing in my opinion. But that is not very many beans as you can see. I made a fava "salad" but it was really more like a condiment at that point. But it was delicious. I got this recipe from the Farm Share Newsletter (that thing is turning out to come in pretty handy).  Here's Ana Sortun's recipe, with my tweaks -- because who has Aleppo pepper hanging around anyway?

Fava Bean & Walnut Salad

1-2 cups cooked fava beans (I used what I had)
1 small onion, chopped
1 bulb fennel, chopped
2 T olive oil, or a bit more (was walnut oil--power to you if you have it)
1 T fresh parsley, chopped
Red pepper flakes to taste (if you like it hot, use more, if not just do a quick shake or pinch of flakes)
1 clove of garlic, minced
A bit of summer savory, chopped
1/2 of toasted walnuts, chopped

What you want to do is put some olive oil into a skillet with the heat on medium low. Add your fennel and onion, and let them cook down until they are soft. This can take about a half an hour. Keep the heat on the low side so they don't scorch. Add in the parsley, red pepper flakes, and the minced garlic when they seem almost done (or done -- they won't overcook with a minute more cooking to go). Cook until the garlic is fragrant and tan, about one minute, but just watch it. This stuff cooks fast sometimes. Then, take all of this stuff and dump it into the food processor. Don't be lazy and because your food processor is in the sink ready to be washed and just try to use your blender (yes, I did this, and it wouldn't grind it up at all -- you can only use a standard blender interchangeably with a food processor if there is a lot of stuff in it and it has at least some liquid, otherwise, it's bad motor-burning news). Unless you have a Vitamix, in which case, you are super lucky, and yes, you can put this in the blender instead.

Add your savory to the food processor, and some salt and pepper. Turn that sucker on and drizzle in olive oil while it's on, through the top. Grind until it is all combined (just a few seconds should do). Take this out and mix with the fava beans and walnuts. And now you have a delicious fava bean salad! It really is the best way I have ever eaten fava beans, or any beans really. So try it out!

Meal 3: Grilled Pork Loin with Hoisin Glaze, with Grilled Bok Choy and Red Peppers
Items used: Bok Choy

This grilled pork loin was killer, and it all has to do with the glaze. I don't know if you all read Cooks Illustrated, but if you don't, you should start. Every recipe they have is just amazing because it has been tested a zillion times to make sure this is the best whatever you ever made. I was reading in their latest issue about grilling pork loin and I had the exact ingredients I needed to make the sweet and spicy hoisin glaze since I made those lettuce wraps a few weeks ago. This dish is simple: just turn on your grill to high, let it heat up nice and hot, and then shut off one set of burners. Put the pork loin on the side that is OFF. Let it cook, turning about halfway through, for 25 minutes or so. Then, move it to the burner that is on, and put on the glaze, rotating it and adding more glaze, for about five minutes.  Once it is ready, let it rest for a bit before your serve it. Here is the glaze recipe:

Sweet and Spicy Hoisin Glaze

1 tsp oil
1 glove of garlic, minced
1 tsp of ginger, minced
Red pepper flakes, to taste
1/2 cup of hoisin sauce
1 TBSP rice vinegar

Heat up a small saucepan on medium heat. Add the oil, and then the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Cook this for about one minute until it starts to smell fragrant -- don't let it get brown!  Then dump in the hoisin. Mix it around until incorporated, and then turn off the heat. Then add the vinegar and stir while still warm. Divide it up now so you can use most as a glaze but can save some for a sauce, which is deeeelicious. While the pork is cooking, you can have your bok choy, or any other veggies cooking on the other side of the grill, in an open foil packet. As you know, I hate to turn on the stove when the grill is already on, so this is a great way to cook everything together. With each of these veggies I just simply tossed them in oil, salt, pepper, and a little bit of soy sauce (not sure that made a difference), and then put them in a piece of foil, with the sides rolled up so they wouldn't fall out. Just keep rotating them around in the packet every once in a while to make sure they get cooked evenly. In just 45 minutes, you can have this snazzy plate staring up at you!

Meal 4: Beans and Greens with a Fried Egg
Used: Broccoli Leaves, Kale

This meal was technically during the next Farm Share rotation, so I will have to reveal that we got garlic in the next batch. But all I really did was cook down the greens like I have shown you before in week one. I treated the broccoli leaves just like kale -- they were a little more chewy than the kale, but definitely edible, to my surprise. I guess those farmers at Siena Farms were not playing a joke on us recipients. I added a little fennel and garlic to the greens too. Additionally, I opened a can of cannellini beans, and cooked those for just a few minutes with poached garlic (more on this next week), which I will share next time. I topped it all with a fried egg. Super easy dinner, nutritious, and actually pretty filling. Noah only needed two post dinner snacks which both were fruit rather than old leftovers, so that is definitely
success in my book!

Unfortunately, I did not follow all the rules this week:

1. Try everything? Yes. 2. Use everything? No. I stupidly left the other half of the summer squash out in a bowl on the table. They looked so pretty! And I basically forgot that they weren't gourds. So they rotted -- sigh. Also I barely got to use that summer savory before it shriveled. I should have frozen it when I realized I wasn't using it fast enough. But still, not too bad for a holiday week. Hope this next one feels like a holiday for you all.


  1. Kind of related question: I contemplated subscribing to Cook's Illustrated a year or so ago, but read reviews that they absolutely bombard you with junk mail about all the offerings from the parent company. Have you found that to be the case?

  2. Hm, well I have not experienced that really. But I will say that Noah got swindled a bit because he bought me one of their cookbooks and apparently left a box checked on the order that said "send me a new cook book every month!" so they sent him them and he had to call up to cancel and mail them back. They paid for everything and really he should have paid more attention, but it was still annoying. However, even if I had to return a book every now and then, it would definitely be worth it. You cannot access their recipes any other way and they really are THE BEST.