Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Summer Farm Share, Week 8

Guys, I have to admit, I was kind of disappointed with this week's pickings from the farm share. I mean, it's August right? Doesn't that mean all our favorite summer veggies are here? Tomatoes, eggplant, corn, etc? Well not this week at Siena Farms unfortunately. I hope that they will be coming in abundance next week. But not to worry! I came up with some new ways to use the old (at this point) standbys although it was admittedly one of my tougher weeks . Unfortunately I cannot show you the picture of everything laid out because I had used Noah's phone to take the picture and he's away hiking without the Internet. So, you'll just have to imagine it.

New: Thyme. And brussels sprout plant leaves. Seriously.

Old: Green peppers, onions (4, yay!), potatoes (a yellow kind, called Superior), carrots (so so so many carrots; a gallon sized bag's worth), zucchinis, two green oakleaf lettuces, cucumbers, mesclun mix, and scallions.

Snack 1: Carrot Cake
Used: Carrots

Alright, so carrots. You are getting really old! But I realized that I had been storing these all wrong. If they are in a zip lock bag in the fridge, they can last forever, but if they aren't in a bag, well, they will shrivel up. So since I didn't realize that at the time, I wanted to use up as many carrots as possible, quickly. Therefore, I made carrot cake, of course. I made his for the the blog quite some time ago, but the recipe is from smitten kitchen, and it is really a great one. I suggest you try it even if you don't have an overabundance of carrots. I made this one in a bundt pan which was great for slicing off a piece for breakfasts---I mean snacks.

Meal 1: Onion Thyme and Bacon Flatbread with Salad
Used: All the onions, thyme, mesclun mix

Well, what did you expect? It was Flatbread Friday! But I will say that I've changed my technique on flatbreads that have a lot of cheese on them -- I instead cook one side on the grill, and take it off the grill, leaving the cooked side up. Then I add the toppings onto the cooked side, and return it to the grill, raw side down, and cover it to melt the cheese while the other side cooks. I realized that if I don't do this and instead cook both sides first, the cheese won't melt before the bottom gets too burnt. So if you are choosing to put a lot of cheese on top, go with this modified technique.

I didn't want to do much with the onions besides sautee them a little because they were just so so delicious on their own. The pizza was great with just the onions on it, but would work by adding mushrooms, sausage, or any other number of things as well.

Meal 2: Herbed Summer Squash and Potato Torte and a Salad
Used: Potatoes, Summer Squashes, Thyme, Scallions, one head of oakleaf and mesclun mix

As I headed into the weekend, I wanted to make something special and new with the "old" ingredients, and so I went to and typed in summer squash and potatoes -- sorting through the search results I found this torte, which not only looked delicious, but for which I had every single ingredient already on hand. Score! (this never happens.) I was a little doubtful that this would actually come out like a torte since it really only had some grated parmesean cheese to bring it all together. But, the reviews seemed positive so I went for it. And... perhaps I should have heeded my gut feeling... because this is what happened when I tried to put the torte slice on the plate:

Dang it! It was holding together for a second, but then just fell right apart on the spatula, and all over the floor! I have a few ideas on how to fix this for next time, because it actually tasted good and would be worth making if it actually would stay together. So, here is the recipe, with my notes:

Herbed Summer Squash and Potato Torte


1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
(use a food processor to make it fast)
12 ounces yellow squash, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
6 teaspoons olive oil


Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter two 8-inch-diameter cake pans. Set aside 1/4 cup sliced green onions. Toss remaining green onions, cheese, flour, thyme, salt and pepper in medium bowl to blend.

Layer 1/6 of potatoes in concentric circles in bottom of 1 prepared pan, overlapping slightly. Layer 1/4 of squash in concentric circles atop potatoes. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with 1/6 of cheese mixture. Repeat with 1/6 of potatoes, then 1/4 of squash and 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with 1/6 of cheese mixture. Top with 1/6 of potatoes. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with 1/6 of cheese mixture and press gently to flatten (really press -- maybe this will help). Repeat procedure with second cake pan and remaining potatoes, squash, oil, and cheese mixture.

Cover pans with foil. Bake until potatoes are almost tender, about 40 minutes. Remove foil; bake uncovered until tortes begin to brown and potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes longer. 
Cut each torte into wedges. Sprinkle wedges with 1/4 cup green onions (do this -- the garnish actually adds a great flavor); serve.

So the recipe seemed straightforward, if time consuming. I made the torte as instructed (or so I thought), and layered the squash and potatoes, like so (right). I think this may have been  part of the problem. I would go around the outside, and then stuff some in the middle. But that is not really what concentric circles are. I should have started in the middle making a small circle, and overlapping bigger circles until I got to the edge. And next time I will do this. There's a picture of it taken out of the oven -- looks deceivingly fine, right? Oh well. At least it was still tasty!

Meal 4: Cucumber Mint and Avocado Soup (course 1) and Stuffed Peppers (course 2)
Used: Cucumbers, mint, peppers, two brussels sprout leaves, some carrots

I am always on the lookout for new recipes, and I found a really nice one in the New York Times for cucumber soup. Unfortunately, every time I make cucumber soup it doesn't taste much like cucumbers and instead tastes like watery yogurt. This time was no different, EXCEPT one of the commenters on the recipe said that he added half an avocado to his soup (the author suggests cutting them up and serving on toast with the soup) -- and bam! Then it worked. It was a nice and refreshing first course. I didn't have any corn or dill for the garnish, so I just  tried to get fancy with the olive oil garnish, as you'll see in the photograph.

Cucumber Soup

1 pound cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise and seeded

2 cups buttermilk (or use 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt plus 1/4 cup water)

1 large garlic clove, peeled and smashed

2 anchovy fillets (optional)
(I used anchovy paste -- this soup definitely needs it I think)

2 small whole scallions, trimmed

1/2 avocado

1/2 jalapeño, seeded, deveined and chopped (did not use, because I am a spice wimp)

1/2 cup packed mixed fresh herbs (like mint, parsley, dill, basil)

1/2 teaspoon sherry or white wine vinegar, more to taste

3/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt, plus more to taste

Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving

Toasted pine nuts, for serving

In the bowl of a blender or food processor, combine cucumber, buttermilk, garlic, anchovy, scallions, jalapeño, fresh herbs, sherry vinegar and salt (and half an avocado). Blend until smooth and adjust seasoning as needed. Distribute soup between 4 bowls and garnish with pine nuts and a drizzle of olive oil. 

And there you have it. Now why am I making two courses for a weeknight dinner, you might ask. Well, because I was making stuffed peppers for a main course, and Noah -- really doesn't like peppers. So I thought I could appease him by making something else as well, to take the focus off the peppers. But it turns out, he actually liked the peppers too, score!

These were kind of a mishmash because I had a base recipe and then tried to stuff as many veggies in there as possible to get rid of them. And from looking through recipes I learned that you can stuff peppers with pretty much anything!

First, I sliced the green peppers in half and scraped out the seeds and insides. Let me tell you something that I learned about green peppers --- they are actually unripe red/yellow/orange peppers! I hope none of you think I'm an idiot, but I had no idea. I thought green were their own variety. Well they aren't. That's why I've only gotten green so far, because they are "unripe."

Going in the oven
Then I cooked up three chicken sausages (squeezed the meat out of the casing into a pan with a tiny bit of olive oil on medium heat), and shredded up 5 carrots and 2 brussels sprout plant leaves and one small onion in the food processor (see left). From now on I will call these BS leaves. I mean, what am I supposed to do with those leaves? They said "use like kale" but they don't really taste like kale. And there were a lot of them! They could easily overpower a dish. So -- shredded up and hidden and things they went.
Anyway, let's continue. In a separate bowl, I added the shredded veggies, cooked sausage, a little bit (1/4 cup) of tomato sauce (just the plain stuff you buy in a can with the other tomatoes), salt, pepper, 1 egg, parsley, thyme, 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs, and a 1/4 cup of mozzerella cheese. I mixed all that stuff up together, and stuffed it into the pepper halfs (overflowing). I drizzled a little more tomato sauce into the bottom of a glass baking dish so it just covered it, and then placed the peppers on top after sprinkling a few more breadcrumbs on the top. I baked them for about 45 minutes at 350 (I waited until the pepper skins looked a little shriveled and cooked). Serve with quinoa, rice, cucumber soup (ok, not together) or whatever you like!

Meal 5: Chicken Fried Rice
Used: Carrots, brussels sprout leaves (still not all of them)

Fried rice is one of my go-to meals. It is relatively easy to make, and hearty in the way that it can fill you up with relatively few ingredients. And I know you can hide things (looking at you BS leaves) in there.

The first thing about fried rice is to, surprise, have rice on hand. This is best if the rice is leftover from last night, but somehow that timing never works out for me. It works with fresh rice too. So when you get home, just put the rice on before you do anything else so it has plenty of time and will be cooked by the time you prepare everything else.  So I chopped up the BS leaves very tiny, and also diced up some carrots and onions. I take a very very large skillet (almost a wok but really not at all because woks are very fancy) and put 2 TBSP of canola oil in there on medium heat. Once it is hot, I quickly add 1 minced garlic clove and a little bit of fresh ginger, also grated or chopped tiny. Then after literally 30 seconds, I add the diced carrots and onions, and let them cook for a few minutes until then are tender (onions will be translucent). Then I added one chopped up chicken breast (just cut it into bite sized pieces), and a few shakes of soy sauce. Then, once the chicken was cooked through (5-7 minutes) I added the chopped BS leaves and let them cook for a minute. Then added a cup of frozen peas and a cooked egg (cooked it up separately by literally spraying the pan with cooking spray, putting it over the heat of the burner, and adding a stirred up egg). Once the peas are thawed, add the cooked rice right on top (see above). Then you are going to add a lot of soy sauce. And a very lot if you have a lot of rice. You want the rice to turn light brown. Stir everything around so it all gets coated with the soy sauce and incorporated, then taste a bit of the rice to see if it has enough flavor. If it does not, add more soy sauce. When it looks and tastes good to you, take it off the heat and serve! You can definitely change up the vegetables added (brocolli, sliced sugar snap peas, whatever you want, it's your dish -- I guarantee you no one would ever think of BS leaves as a first choice, but it worked).
So, that's a wrap! Let's review the rules before we're through. 1. Try everything? Yessiree. 2. Use everything? No way. I still have at least a dozen carrots and most of the BS leaves. Fortunately those carrots keep for a while, and the BS leaves will keep until I figure out what to do with them. I hope.

Until next week, which is, my final week of Farm Share blogs! Hey, a girl has got to go on vacation once in a while, right? But don't worry. The postings will keep on coming. They will just be a little less intensely focused on using up and eating veggies and more on, well, me messing up in the kitchen, and you laughing at me but also learning something.

1 comment:

  1. Great tip about the concentric circles for the potato and summer squash torte. I will have to try that!