Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
Everybody is going to love Happy Girl Kitchen's spicy tomato juice! You'll all be getting a jar inside your box this week. Mmmm, I can taste it already just thinking about it! So yummy to get summer tomato goodies in winter. And sweet potatoes... yay! I periodically ask Tom to grow them for the shares, but he says they need hotter weather than our coastal climate zone provides. But Mariquita Farm has land out in Hollister, east of Gilroy, so they have the right temperatures, and I am thrilled that Tom was able to wangle some sweet potatoes for our boxes. And then there's the beautiful Romanesco cauliflower in the Family shares, and the weird but wonderful kohlrabi in the Small shares. If you see a veggie that looks like it is from another planet -- a bulbous thing with stalks growing out from the sides and big floppy leaves on top (I call it 'the sputnik veggie') -- that would be the kohlrabi! Oh, and the "Mystery Item"... it could be anything, but a little bird told me it might be a mix of mustard greens. Don't hold me to it though!
Okay, time for some recipes!
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First off, member Robin Horn sent me some great variations on my standby cooked kale with lemon and olive oil:
Kale (or other greens) with balsamic and hot oil
This is good not only for kale, but also collard greens and kohlrabi greens and chard. The base step is still boiling or simmering the greens in salted water, draining and squeezing out the water, then chopping. But instead of topping with lemon and olive oil and salt, she'll top it with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and a touch of hot oil, plus salt and pepper. I tried this, and didn't have hot oil, but I had some left-over hot chili sauce and used that and it was delish!Collards (or other greens) with Asian flavors
Boil them in salted water, drain well -- squeeze out extra water -- chop, and top with rice vinegar, sesame oil, salt, pepper, and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. A little Asian flair, yum!We're all getting green cabbage again, so last week's San Jose Mercury News had a well-timed recipe from Mark Bittman.Lamb- and Rice- Stuffed Cabbage with Spicy Tomato Sauce
Mark says, "Rolling cabbage leaves with lamb and rice is a lovely idea; the meat and rice steam, protected by the leaves, so the result is tender yet dense." Rather than copy and paste the recipe into the newsletter I thought it would be easier and better to just click here
to go to the article and recipe, so you can read his accompanying story as well. This is a nice variation on the more typical brown sugar-catsup-sauce type cabbage rolls. And note that although his recipe calls for using savoy cabbage, don't be put off - you can most definitely substitute plain ol' green cabbage leaves! The only difference would be in how to prepare the leaves:
The way you do it with a regular head of cabbage is you drop the whole head into a big pot of boiling water, and then using tongs, pull off one leaf at a time, as they soften and loosen. Try it, it's easy... you'll see!Here's a very simple but nourishing winter soup made with kohlrabi:Creamy Kohlrabi Soup
2 tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 pound kohlrabi bulbs, peeled and chopped [save the green tops!]
2 1/2 C vegetable stock
2 1/2 C milk
1 bay leaf
Salt and black pepper
1. Melt butter in a large pan with a lid. Add onions and cook gently until soft, about 10 minutes. Add kohlrabi and cook 2 minutes.
2. Add vegetable stock, milk and bay leaf to pan, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 25 minutes or until kohlrabi is tender. Let cool a few minutes and remove bay leaf.
3. Using an immersion blender or conventional blender or food processor, puree soup until smooth. You may want to strain the soup through a fine sieve if the kohlrabi is especially fibrous. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in heated bowls with hearty bread of choice.
Note: Kohlrabi greens are edible - don't chuck them! Wash as needed, then strip the leaves off the tough center stem and cook like you would kale or collards.Here's a new parsnip recipe:Pan-Fried Parsnips with Sour Cream and Onions
modified slightly from a Bon Appetit clipping
3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 large parsnips (8 or 9 oz) [or use more smaller ones ;-)], sliced on the diagonal into 1/8th inch thick ovals
2 tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tsp thinly sliced green onion tops [we don't have green onions this week, but you could shave some thin slices of red onion and cut those into segments - they'd be pretty with the parsley!]
Heat 1 1/2 tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Arrange half the parsnip slices in a single layer in the skillet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until bottoms are golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn parsnips over; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until tender and slightly crisp, another 2 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate, mound in center. Repeat with remaining olive oil and parsnip slices. Top with parsley, onions, and sour cream.And a new cauliflower recipe:Penne and Cauliflower with Mustard Bread Crumbs
from another Bon Appetit clipping (some modifications here too)
8 oz. penne rigate
5 C small cauliflower florets
2 tbsp. butter
1 1/2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 1/2 C fresh bread crumbs [see instructions for this, below]
3/4 C (packed) freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional (for serving)
1/2 C heavy whipping cream [avoid the ultra-pasteurized stuff! Yuck!]
2 tsp. finely grated lemon peel
[To make bread crumbs, tear fresh bread -- BA says country-style, and to remove the crusts, but I say use any fresh bread, and heck, leave the crust on -- into even-ish chunks and grind in a food processor "until they resemble very coarse sand" sez Bon Appetit... I like them a little chunkier, but that's just my preference.]
Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cauliflower. Cook until cauliflower is tender and pasta is tender but firm to bite, stirring occasionally, about 6 more minutes. Drain pasta and cauliflower, reserving 1/2 C of the cooking liquid. Return pasta and cauliflower to pot.
Meanwhile, melt 2 tbsp. butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Whisk in Dijon mustard. Add bread crumbs. Cook until breadcrumbs are golden and crisp, stirring to break up clumps, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl.
Add grated Parmesan, cream, lemon peel and the reserved cooking liquid to pasta and cauliflower mixture in the pot. Toss over medium heat until sauce simmers and coats pasta, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer pasta to a wide shallow bowl. Sprinkle with the mustardy bread crumbs. Serve, passing additional Parmesan cheese alongside.This last one's kinda long, but it sounds delicious!!Pumpkin and Sage Lasagna
by Diane Morgan, from "The New Thanksgiving Table" (from an old un-dated Mercury News clipping), modified slightly
Serves 8 - 10, and can be assembled a day ahead
1 bay leaf
6 black peppercorns
2 sprigs fresh thyme2 sprigs fresh parsley
3 C whole milk
Kosher or sea salt
1 lb. or 19 sheets dried lasagna noodles
3/4 C canola oil
1/2 C fresh sage leaves
2 lbs. winter squash [butternut or kabocha or kuri or whatever you have], peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced
1/4 tsp cayenne
Fresh ground pepper
1 lb. ricotta
1/2 C minced parsley
3 tbsp. butter
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 C grated fresh Parmesan
1. Place bay leaf, peppercorns, thyme and parsley in a small square of cheese cloth and tie into a pouch. Over medium-low heat, heat the milk and bag of spices until hot. Simmer for 2 minutes, then remove from heat and let steep.
2. Bring a stockpot of water to a boil. Stir in 1 tbsp. salt, then add lasagna noodles and cook al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again.
3. In a heavy saute pan, heat the oil until it is hot, but not smoking (about 365 degrees). Line a baking sheet with a double-thickness of paper towels [I hate this part - anybody have any bright ideas on how to drain oily things without burning through so many paper towels?]. Working quickly, fry a third of the sage leaves for about 5 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the paper towels. Repeat with remaining sage. Set the pan aside, reserving oil. Generously salt the sage leaves.
4. Heat 3 tbsp. of the sage-flavored oil over medium high heat. Without crowding, add slices of pumpkin and saute until just beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Flip and brown the other side. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain. Repeat, adding more oil as needed. Sprinkle with cayenne and black pepper to taste.
5. In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta and minced parsley.
6. Make a white sauce by melting butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and saute, stirring constantly, until just beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the flour to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until the flour is blended and cooked through, about a minute longer. Remove the spice bag from the milk. Slowly whisk the infused milk into the flour mixture, about 1 cup at a time. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook, whisking, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Add a teaspoon of salt and the nutmeg. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Lay 3 strips of lasagna noodles lengthwise across the bottom of the pan. Spread half the white sauce evenly over the pasta, then top with 3 more strips. Add half the pumpkin slices. Crumble the fried sage leaves and sprinkle half over the pumpkin. Place 3 more strips of pasta on top, Spread the ricotta over this layer, then add 3 more pasta strips. Place the remaining pumpkin slices on top; sprinkle with remaining sage. Add 3 more strips of pasta, then spread the remaining white sauce evenly over the top. For the final layer, add 4 strips of pasta and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake until bubbly hot and nicely browned, about 1 hour. Let rest 10 minutes before cutting into squares and serving.