Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
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Welcome back - I hope everyone survived the dearth of
farm veggies over the last three weeks! We are now in full-on winter, and in
full-on winter-veggie mode, so now's the time to make those hearty roasted,
baked and braised dishes that warm you to the core (and if you're a cold wimp
like me, it's also an excuse to warm the kitchen!). - Debbie
One of the things I wanted to talk to everyone about this
week was a small kitchen tool. It's handy year-round, but particularly in
winter, when there are more root veggies on hand... something seldom mentioned
yet very useful, and inexpensive to boot -- a veggie brush! If you don't have one, go out and find yourself a
good, sturdy, stiff-bristled
(preferably natural bristles, not
plastic) veggie brush
. The stiff bristles part is important; if they're too
soft, its no good.
The reason it's so useful is, it eliminates the need to peel
many veggies, so the 'savings' is two-fold; no peeling, AND you can leave the
nutritious (and yummy) skin on things like beets, potatoes, carrots, turnips,
parsnips... I'm not so sure about rutabagas; I think you still want to peel
those (I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who has experience on this). I
particularly love the flavor of roasted beets in their skins
Don't throw away those Rutabaga peels!
Let's jump back to rutabaga skins for a moment though.
Winter is the time for hearty soups, and one thing I've learned (from Jesse
Ziff Cool, if I remember correctly) is to save my rutabaga peels. I stick 'em
in a ziploc bag in my freezer along with other veggie trimmings and meat bones.
Rutabaga adds a 'hauntingly sweet' rich flavor to soup stock. Yes, you can just
use cut-up rutabaga, but why not eat
root, and put the peel to good use rather than throwing it away?
Right now I have a pot on the stove with the bone and
trimming scraps from a leg of lamb (plus bones I've saved from the chops of
prior meals), as well as (you guessed it!) rutabaga peels, celery and parsley
scraps, carrot, onion, bay leaf, peppercorns, sea salt, and some cider vinegar
(to draw the minerals out of the bones and into the stock). I've had it on the
barest simmer for hours... and the kitchen smells heavenly! (And yes, it's warm
too - whee!)
If you don't eat meat though, the peels are equally good in veggie stock
. If you haven't gotten in the habit of
saving scraps like this for soup stock... hey, it's a new year; you can add
this one little thing to your repertoire - consider soup-stock-making as a goal
for 2010! It's an efficient use of veggie and meat scraps, economical, and far
more nutritious and flavorful than ANY commercially produced stock or broth on
a supermarket shelf.
Radicchio, apple and leeks - oh my!
You've already heard me rave about pan-browned radicchio, so
I'm a sucker for pretty much any cooked-radicchio recipe. It loves (okay, I
love it) being offset by salty-sour-sweet, and so as I looked at this week's
veggie list, I got to thinking... hm, radicchio and apple? A little Meyer lemon
maybe? So I looked online and quickly found a "Crostini with Radicchio and Apple
" recipe on Mariquita Farm's website. It calls
for radicchio, apple, shallots, honey and balsamic vinegar; I'm taking the
liberty of modifying it into a side-dish (though this would probably be good on
crostini too!) with ingredients from our box:
1 head radicchio, chopped
1 apple, diced (yup: leave the peel on)
1 leek, cleaned of dirt, thinly sliced (white and
juice from half a meyer lemon
a spoonful of honey
salt and pepper
Saute leeks in olive oil over medium heat until translucent.
Add chopped radicchio and sprinkle generously with salt. Stir and continue to
saute until radicchio wilts and together with leeks they begin to brown. Add
apple, honey, and meyer lemon juice and several gratings of black pepper (or to
taste), and stir/cook until lemon and honey are well distributed and apple
begins to soften. Taste and adjust with more lemon juice or salt as needed.
Ooh, I almost forgot the Romanesco cauliflower! What was
I thinking?? These beauties are stunning to behold - a pale emerald green, and
a unique geometric shape. Before you cut it up, be sure to show it to your
kids. Have them look at it up close, see what they can see... notice the
repeating shapes? The head is a spiraling cone of florets, and each floret is
itself a tiny spiral cone of nubs, and each little nub on each floret is a tiny
spiraling cone of smaller nubbins... this is called a fractal. Very cool. I
never tire of admiring their beauty and shape. But one does have to eat, so
after you've shown it off to everyone, it's okay to cook it!
Cauliflower, Broccolini and Carrot stir-fry with Oyster Sauce
I made this one up the other day, and it came out great!
1 head Romanesco cauliflower, cut into florets
A roughly equal quantity of broccolini, cut into somewhat
1 large carrot, scrubbed :-) and cut into quarters (or
sixths) lengthwise, then into segments about the length of the florets
1 leek, cleaned of dirt then sliced thin (white and light
fresh mushrooms, sliced (if you have some; can be made
without, but they add good flavor)
1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced (or put through a
about 2 tbsp. soy sauce
about 3 tbsp. oyster sauce
olive or other cooking oil
Combine soy and oyster sauce in a small cup or dish.
Start steaming the cauliflower and carrots together first,
as they take a little longer than the broccolini. After about 2 to 3 minutes,
add the broccolini and steam all three for an additional 3 to 4 minutes - you
want the veggies to just be al-dente.
Meanwhile, saute leeks (or you can substitute sliced onion)
and mushrooms in olive oil until soft and beginning to brown. Increase heat,
add garlic and stir-fry a scant minute or less, then add steamed veggies and
soy/oyster sauce mixture, stir to combine, heat until bubbly, then serve over
fresh hot steamed rice.
This is another one I made up. Since we don't have potatoes,
I'd substitute rutabaga (yes, really!).
potatoes, scrubbed, skins on, quartered, boiled, partially
mashed (or steam cut-up, peeled rutabaga and roughly mash)
kale, cooked my 'default' way (strip leaves from stems,
simmer or low-boil in well salted water 2 to 3 minutes, drain well, squeeze out
excess water, chop)
sauteed onion (or leeks!)
cumin and chili powder
grated sharp cheddar
chopped fresh cilantro (if you have it)
Essentially you just make a burrito by wrapping some of
everything inside a warm tortilla; you can either let everyone combine their
own, or mix everything together except the cheese and cilantro and fill
tortillas with that, adding cheese and cilantro last. Serve with your favorite
hot sauce - if you're getting the preserves option, we're getting tomato salsa
this week, so you can serve 'em with that!
Lastly, I'm going to repeat my latest fave collards
recipe. If you're not big on collard greens, try 'em this way before you give
up - it's really yummy!!
Debbie's Collards with garlic-lemon-butter rice and diced
generously serves 2
1 bunch collard greens
3/4 C uncooked rice (such as basmati)
half a stick of butter
~ 1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
juice from one lemon (a meyer would be perfect!)**
diced tomato (use the pickled dry-farms or crushed heirlooms in this weeks'
Cook rice however you normally do (I use a rice-cooker).
While rice is cooking, wash collard leaves as needed to remove dirt, strip
leaves from stems (compost stems), and cook in boiling, well-salted water about
5 minutes. Pour off excess water, add cold water to quick cool leaves; pour
that off and squeeze out as much water as you can with your hands. You should
end up with about a fist-sized lump of cooked collard leaves. Put this lump on
a cutting board and chop fairly finely.
In a small saucepan or skillet, melt butter over medium heat, add diced garlic
and olive oil, simmer a minute or so. Add lemon juice and heat until all is
simmering then turn off heat.
In a large pot or bowl, combine rice and collards, stirring well to evenly mix.
Pour lemon-garlic butter mixture over all and stir to mix again. Add diced
tomatoes, salt to taste, stir just to distribute, then serve! Yum!!
**alternatively, you could use some of the juice from the pickled dry-farmed tomatoes (a lovely sour, very tomato-ey flavor!). If you use crushed heirlooms, stick with the lemon, as the 'juice' -- though delicious, save for another use -- is not 'sour' like the pickled tomatoes.