Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Click here to go to the recipe database.This week I'm going to start with a "what's up in the box" (an embellishment on simply 'what's in the box') ~ Tom usually talks about "what's up in the field", but since we always have a discussion about what's going into the boxes each week, I thought I'd flesh out the list a little, based on our conversation. Then I'll get to some recipes! - Debbie"What's Up in this week's box"Strawberries
: looks like they're in full production right now, so the "Fruit Bounty" option is kicking in starting this week!Garlic
: the heads are starting to mature... we'll still call it 'green garlic' but over the next few weeks you will see a steady progression of the bulb at the base of the stalks as they morph from being simple blobs to blobs with distinct garlic cloves in them! You can still chop up and cook with the bulb and the stalk as long as it is still green and fresh, but sometime soon the skin around the cloves will differentiate and get tougher, and you'll find you want to peel it open and use just the cloves. At some point shortly after that, we will have a break from green garlic (wah!) as Tom will harvest them all and lay them out in the sun to dry and cure. Then we'll see the 'dry' bulbs reappear in our shares sometime later in the season. The alliums (garlic, onions, leeks, etc.) are a staple item, so Tom always tries to have some in the box each week, or at least most weeks.Favas
: this will be the last week for favas until next spring (another wah!), so fava-lovers, enjoy the last hurrah!!Summer squash
: wow! Already? Yes ~ the first of our little zephyr squashes (light yellow with a pale-green tip) are ripening, so Tom's putting them in the Family shares. A saute combining summer squash, onion and fava beans would be nice...Kale
is back again, after a break, and will be either Red Russian or Lacinato (Dino kale). Tom says it is a new planting and so the leaves will be young/smallish yet.Avocados
: if you've been a member before, these are the same wonderful avocados we've gotten from Steve Marsalisi in past years. Remember: they'll be green and hard right now, and so you'll need to let them ripen and soften before you can eat them. Don't stick 'em in your fridge, but rather out on the counter, where you can check on them periodically. You can accelerate the ripening process by enclosing them in a brown paper bag on your counter (or shelf or hanging basket). Just remember to peek in on them daily!Fennel
: "big, beautiful bulbs" from Lakeside Organic, says Tom. I love fennel, so recipes for this will follow!
Note re: ingredients ~ remember two weeks ago when I talked about 'A different fava bean puree
' which used a Middle Eastern spice called za'atar made from sumac? A few alert members emailed me with sources, as well as spoke highly of the unique flavor of sumac... something that can't really be duplicated by substituting other spices.
Member Eleni O'Neill, who spent some time in the Middle East, says she's a huge sumac fan, and that, "it is sold at most places that sell spices (like health food stores), but not typically grocery stores. It is good to keep around, because you can sprinkle it on any meat that tastes plain or on top of hummus!" [or, of course, the fava bean puree!]
Member Rebecca Robb said "Penzey's Spices in Menlo Park sells Za'atar." [and hopefully the straight sumac too, if you want to make the spice combo yourself].
Both Rebecca Robb and Diane Reese pointed out that various recipes for making Za'atar (or sometimes spelled "zahtar") are on several of the usual recipe websites, so you can search and make your own, the only unusual ingredient you'll need being the sumac.
-----------------One last fava recipe, before they're gone for the season... love the carrot-infused cream!Fava Bean Soup with Carrot CreamBon Appetit, April 2002, with slight modifications
Serves 6for the soup
1 ½ lbs fava bean pods (to yield ¾ C beans)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil [or ghee or butter]
1 onion, chopped
1 8-oz Yukon Gold [or similar] potato, peeled, cut into half-inch pieces
1 medium carrot, peeled, thinly sliced
2 14-oz. cans vegetable broth [3½ to 4 C of your own stock, mineral broth or chicken, would be much better!]
1 ½ C water
¼ C dry white wine
3 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1/3 C whipping cream [don't get ultra-pasteurized]for the carrot cream
2 carrots, peeled, grated (about 1 ¼ C)
2/3 C whipping cream [ditto]
1 tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. saltFor soup
: Cook favas in large pot of boiling salted water 5 minutes. Drain, cool, peel [pinch end of bean, squirt inner bean out of skin] and collect in a small bowl, to yield aobut ¾ C peeled beans.
Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute until tender, about 10 minutes. Add beans, potato, carrot, and broth or stock, the 1 ½ C water and the wine. Cover and simmer until vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes. Cool slightly. Stir in parsley. Working in batches, puree soup in blender. Return to pot. Stir in cream. Season with salt and pepper.For carrot cream
: Puree all ingredients in blender. Transfer to bowl. Chill at least 15 minutes, up to 3 hours. Strain carrot cream into medium bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Using electric mixer, beat carrot cream until soft peaks form. Bring soup to a simmer. Ladle into bowls. Top with dollop of carrot cream.Another Kale Processing Tip
Now that kale is reappearing in our shares, member Lisa Bautista sent me this comment, "I was looking for something new and exciting to do with kale last fall and thumbed through old copies of Fine Cooking magazines. The author had several recipes but here is what she does to have kale on the ready AND reduce cooking time. I especially like the less cooking time (in this heat) plus the color of the kale doesn't have to go all the way to greyish green. So she strips the stem, stacks the leaves and cuts them into slices and spins the extra moisture away. Then the kale strips are packed into a freezer bag and put in the freezer. You can reach into the bag and pull out just the amount of kale you need whenever. The freezing softens those cells so you need much less cooking time. Et voila! Kale whenever you want. We eat much more kale now." [And I imagine this would work for other greens, like collards, too. - Debbie]Now for some fennel recipes...Sliced fennel salad with lemon Parmesan dressingfrom a Dec 2004 SJ Mercury News clipping
4 fennel bulbs (about 2 lbs); do not discard fronds [and if you don't have 4 bulbs, which we won't likely have, just scale the recipe down accordingly]for dressing
2 garlic cloves, minced [more, if you're using green garlic. Chop very fine!]
¼ C fresh lemon juice
¼ C chopped fennel fronds
2 tbsp. finely sliced fresh chives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ C olive oil
2 tbsp. finely grated Parmesan cheesefor garnish
A 1-oz. wedge of Parmesan cheese
Trim stalks and fronds from fennel; remove enough fronds to make ¼ C chopped. Cut bulbs lengthwise into quarters and trim away core at the base. Thinly slice fennel. Chop reserved fronds.To make dressing
: In a large bowl, whisk together garlic, lemon juice, fennel fronds and chives and season with salt and pepper. Whisking constantly, slowly add olive oil until incorporated. Add grated cheese. Taste for seasoning.
Add fennel to dressing and stir to coat. Arrange on a platter or serving plates. Using swivel vegetable peeler, shave large shards of Parmesan over top of salads. Serve immediately.
Note: salad may be prepared up to 2 hrs. ahead, covered and refrigerated. Shave Parmesan at the last minute.Mediterranean fennel arugula salad with prosciutto and pomegranateundated Bon Appetit clipping; photo from Bon Appetit (beautiful!)
4 to 6 servings
2 C very thinly sliced fennel bulb
3 tbsp. good olive oil, divided
¼ tsp. coarse kosher salt
6 C arugula
1 C thinly sliced green onions [you can use the stalk of the fresh green onions; right at the top of the bulb is best]
¼ C thinly sliced mint leaves
1 ½ tbsp. balsamic vinegar
6 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto, cut or torn into strips
½ C pomegranate seeds
Toss fennel and 1 tbsp. olive oil in medium bowl. Sprinkle with a the kosher salt. Combine arugula, green onions, mint, vinegar, and the other 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large bowl; toss. Season with salt and pepper. Divide greens among plates. Top with fennel, then drape with prosciutto. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds over.Here's a recipe that would be great with the new zephyr squash we're getting this week (it can be substituted for the zucchini). I wouldn't worry too much about exact measurements with this recipe; just use the quantities as a guide:Baby Zucchini Carpaccio with Pecorino and MintBon Appetit, undated
1 ½ lbs. baby zucchini [use the zephyrs!], both ends trimmed, very thinly sliced crosswise
¼ C fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced
¼ C good olive oil
3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 oz. shaved Pecorino Romano cheese (about ½ C), divided
Toss zucchini and mint in medium bowl. Whisk oil and lemon juice in a small bowl to blend. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Add dressing and half of shaved cheese to zucchini; toss to coat. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes and up to 1 ½ hrs. Divide among 6 plates; sprinkle with remaining cheese.Those last three recipes were kind of similar (lemon-and-olive-oil based dressings, two with mint)... I find it interesting to see how 'alike' different recipes can be. Anyway, I'll finish off this week's recipes with something that's
not a salad, even though it uses our beautiful spinach:Spinach with yellow split peas and saffron-coconut saucefrom The Real Dirt on Farmer John Cookbook
"The heady aroma of saffron gives intoxicating flavor to this Indian dish. For this recipe, split peas and spinach are combined with a mixture of pungent and spicy ingredients and cooked in creamy coconut milk. For a sensational complete meal, serve this with rice that has been cooked in a mixture of orange juice and water. Don't be afraid to use the fresh jalapenos in this recipe; even a very moderate amount will mix with the saffron and the rich coconut milk to produce a wonderfully complex flavor. Mango chutney is a delicious condiment for this dish."
1 lg. onion, chopped (about 2 C)
2/3 C yellow split peas, rinsed well and picked over to remove any pebbles
4 to 8 thin slices of fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded (4 for a milder version, more for a hotter version)
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed (about 1 tsp.) [remember: use more if substituting green garlic]
1 C coconut milk
1 tsp. salt
1 C coarsely chopped spinach (about ¼ to ½ lb)
4 C hot cooked basmati rice
1. Combine the onion, split peas, jalapeno, garlic, and saffron in a large pot. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the peas; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes.
2. After 45 minutes of simmering, the peas will start to break apart and mush up as you stir them. Add the coconut milk and salt; stir. Add the spinach on top, but do NOT stir. Cover the pot and cook the spinach with the split peas for 10 more minutes. Uncover the pot and stir the spinach to combine with the peas. If it looks too soupy, continue to simmer, uncovered, until it reaches a thicker consistency. Serve warm over rice.