Chive Blossoms: Hint of Color in the Green Monster

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The Allandale CSA share these past two weeks has been a plethora of green.  Beautiful, yes. But, I open the fridge and my beautifully washed and organized box contents roar at me like a green monster.  “COOK ME!” they cry, and I want to close the door and order a pizza.  However, I have vowed that my CSA will not become a false goal and failed attempt like my New Year’s Resolutions (let’s face it-from every year) and my overpriced gym membership.  And, more so, I don’t want that to happen to you!  So I reach for the pop of color amongst the green spring’s harvest.

The Chive Blossoms, are a great example of an item in your share that you should immediately think of cooking with, but also preserving it for a later use this season.  Each week you will get herbs that you won’t be able to use all of (there is only so much you can do with dill), therefore you need to make a plan to transform those herbs into a longer lasting product i.e. pesto, a dressing, a vinegar, infused alcohol etc.

This season I plan (to get The Lady) to make a ton of infused vinegars and olive oils, with the plan (read: hope) that they can be incorporated into dressings and drizzled over meals for rest of the year.  Pantry space will be another story…

This chive vinegar was so simple to make, that I didn’t even need the help of The Lady.  I took all the blossoms off the chives (about 1/2 cup), put them into a glass jar and poured warm vinegar (about 1.5 cups) over them.  I placed parchment paper over the top, screwed on the lid, and am currently letting it sit in my cabinet and transform.  I’ll keep you posted on how it turns out.

ImageINGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 cups of any type of white vinegar
  • 2.5 cups washed chive blossom

DIRECTIONS

  • Heat the vinegar in a small saucepan over low heat until just warm. Don’t boil it.
  • Put your chive blossoms in your jar and pour warm vinegar on top.
  • Let the vinegar cool, then place a square of parchment paper over the opening of the jar and screw on the top. You want to make sure the vinegar doesn’t touch the metal lid, because it will erode and ruin your vinegar.
  • Place the container in a dark, cool spot for at least two weeks.  It becomes a really beautiful blush color. Let your vinegar steep until you like the flavor and strain it.  Throw away the blossoms and enjoy!

I’m looking forward to trying a dill vinegar to put in my pasta and potato salads for this summer!  How did you use the chive blossoms?

 

Using up your herbs

I struggle with how to use ample amounts of mint and cilantro.  I can easily find uses for basil, and any of the Simon & Garfunkel herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme).  But I really only think of cilantro in salsa and I really only think of mint in cocktails.  Not that this heat isn’t perfect for surviving on mojitos and chips and dip, but that diet doesn’t lend itself to productivity in life.  So when I have questions about how to use a specific flavor or ingredient, I turn to one of my favorite foodie gifts I’ve ever received.

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Niki Segnit’s Flavor Thesaurus isn’t filled with recipes but instead lists flavor pairings.  I find this easier when doing menu planning than flipping through all of my cookbooks.  With this book in hand, I looked for what to do with mint and found that it pairs well with meat, citrus, cilantro, and onion.  Sounded like a marinade to me!

Out came the tiny Weber, that we illegally grill on off our back patio (a.k.a glorified fire escape) and the food processor.  I picked up a pork tenderloin and The Lady got to work mixing up the marinade.  She combined:

  • 1/2 bunch of mint leaves
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro leaves
  • 1 stalk of chopped up green garlic (use all of the white and light green parts)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

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Once pureed all together, she marinated the pork for about an hour (but longer would have better).  The flavor was awesome, and Iv’e been eating the left over sliced pork with my eggs in the morning and on late night sandwiches after work.  Try this and tell me what you think.  

How did you use this week’s share?

CSA Week 1- New Direction and Prepping Your Share

Allandale Farm’s much-loved CSA Coordinator Chrissy Seible has moved to the green pastures of California and her position and all that it included is now on my plate, literally.   My vision for this site is to help you (each of you in our beloved CSA community) get the most out of your box of veggie goodness by diving in to my own share and exploring various uses in my kitchen at home, with the help of my partner The Lady (a Culinary Institute of America grad and local Chef de Cuisine). This season look here for tips, experimentation,  successful eats, and culinary disasters.  I also might be toying with the design, so don’t be scared if you see it all look different next time you visit the page.

Week1- Box of delicious fresh produce or Pandora’s Box?

I would consider my household very comfortable with fresh produce, cooking and meal planning.  However, as my partner and I unloaded the contents of our first CSA share it felt less like a delicious bounty and more like an overwhelming obligation to use all of this produce quickly before it died in the refrigerator.  I had immediate anxiety about not being motivated to use everything in my box and it being ultimately thrown out, like doggie bags from the restaurant that sit in my refrigerator and never actually get consumed.

Just as some of you need to clean and organize your desk  before writing a paper the Lady immediately got to work washing and storing all of the produce before tackling what we were actually going to do with it.  Not something I would have thought of at all.  But again, I was still dazed with confusion looking at the mass of green on my counter and trying to figure out how to stuff that wax box in my refrigerator and get the door to close.

As I started to look up recipes, she filled the kitchen sink up with cold water,  trimmed and submerged each item in the sink and allowed for a brief soak, and then put all the leafy greens (the lettuce and the kale) through a run in the salad spinner.  For the lettuce, she broke up the head, taking all the leaves off,  before soaking, and for the kale she did a brief chop before washing. After the washing and the spinning, she laid each item out on a paper towel to dry (as seen above).  Note: Allandale produce is washed before it goes in to your box, but the second wash in the sink allows for every last bit of the grubby sand and dirt to fall to the bottom.

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Once washed, spun, and laid out, The Lady put each item in a large Ziploc bag with a paper towel wrapped around the herb or along the side of the inside of the bag of greens, which absorbed any excess moisture that could cause deterioration.   The result allowed for us to grab and cook or grab and go with any produce item throughout the week, without added cleaning and cutting.  This immediate clean and store method also made our produce last in to the following week.

 

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This coming week, when you get your box, take 10  minutes and take everything out of the box, trim, wash, dry and store it as a means to get comfortable and ready for what your box has in store.   And be sure to reuse your plastic bags from week to week.  Feeling ready, organized and anxiety free is step 1 in using and NOT THROWING AWAY anything in our weekly shares.

For the season stock your kitchen with:

1. Plenty of large Ziploc bags

2. Salad spinner

3. Paper towels

Note: I was never raised in a salad spinner family, but as a CSA member and lover of green things from the ground, this is a necessary addition to your kitchen if you don’t want sand or dirt as a garnish to your eats.

Dill Fingerling Potatoes

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As Thanksgiving quickly approaches we thought we’d share some stellar side dish recipes!

Dill Fingerling Potatoes

Yield: 3 servings

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/dill-fingerling-potatoes-recipe/index.html

Ingredients
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 pounds fingerling potatoes, rinsed but not peeled
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Directions
Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed pot. Add the whole potatoes, salt, and pepper, and toss well. Cover the pot tightly and cook over low heat for 20 to 30 minutes, until the potatoes are just tender when tested with a small knife. From time to time, shake the pot without removing the lid to prevent the bottom potatoes from burning. Turn off the heat and allow the potatoes to steam for another 5 minutes. Don’t overcook. Toss with the dill, and serve hot.

Miso-Braised Butternut Squash

From Vegetarian Times, October 2011 p.62

Serves 4
30 minutes or fewer.

misobnut

This subtly flavored, comforting dish is perfect on a chilly fall evening. Miso adds a savory depth to the braising liquid, which coats the sweet squash chunks.

  • 1 lb. butternut squash, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks (2 cups)
  • 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • ½ cup light coconut milk
  • ¼ cup sweet white miso
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs.)

1. Place squash in large, deep skillet.

2. Whisk together broth, coconut milk, miso, ginger, and garlic in bowl. Pour over squash, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and braise 10 to 15 minutes, or until squash has softened and liquid has become thick and creamy, stirring occasionally.

Feta Dip with Watermelon Radishes

Servings: Makes about 1 1/2 cups
 
Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 1/2 cups crumbled feta (about 7 oz.)
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • Thinly sliced watermelon radishes
Preparation:
  • Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add pine nuts and stir until nuts are golden, 2-3 minutes. Let cool completely.
  • Purée feta, milk, sour cream, dill, garlic, and lemon zest in a food processor until smooth. Scrape dip into a bowl. Scatter pine nuts over, drizzling with any oil from skillet. Serve with watermelon radishes for dipping.

Make a bouquet garni

Make a bouquet garni

Everyone is getting herbs in the share this week and you can always pick your own thyme and sage in our herb garden near the CSA garage. A bouquet garni is a great way to put your herbs to use in casseroles, stocks, sauces and soups.  This is what BBC Food has to say about about a bouquet garni: It traditionally comprises parsley (or parsley stalks, which have lots of flavour), a few sprigs of thyme and a bay leaf. These herbs may be bundled into a strip of leek or a piece of celery stalk, or tied in a muslin bag or with string, to keep them together during cooking and allow easy removal before serving.

We like to use them when making homemade veggie stock!

Kale with Apples, Raisins, Feta and Walnuts

Allandale’s Jenny Hauf shared this with us, via Cammy Watts, partner of apple historian John Bunker, who is scheduled to speak in Boston on October 23rd. He will be speaking on the Roxbury Russet, America’s oldest apple. More on that here. 

Kale with Apples, Raisins, Feta and Walnuts
From “Wild Flavors” by Didi Emmons
(Serves 3)

Tasty on quinoa or millet.

Ingredients:
1-2 TBS olive oil
1 onion – thinly sliced
1 large tart apple (Maiden Blush, St. Lawrence, Wealthy), skin-on and diced
8 cups kale – thinly sliced
1/4 cup raisins, currents or dried cranberries
3 garlic cloves – minced
1 1/2 TBS balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans – toasted
2-3 TBS feta cheese – crumbled
1/2 tsp smoked paprika or 1 tsp adobo sauce from canned chipotles (optional)
salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Directions:
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet, and toast in the oven for 7-8 minutes until brown. Stir at least once. It is easy to burn them, so keep an eye on them.
2. Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions, and cook, stirring every few minutes for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low, and add the apple. The onions will start sticking to the pan; that’s ok since it is good to let them brown, but stir them before they burn. Cook 10 minutes more until the onions are quite brown.
3. Add the kale, raisins, garlic and 3/4 cup water. Turn the heat to high, and cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently.
4. Add the vinegar, and continue to cook, stirring periodically until the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the nuts and feta and paprika. Stir well and season with salt and pepper to taste.