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.

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.

Tomatillo Salsa Verde

See the whole recipe, with photos, here on Simply Recipes. 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 1/2 lb tomatillos
  • 1/2 cup chopped white onion
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 Jalapeño peppers OR 2 serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped (you can use whole for more heat if you want)
  • Salt to taste

Directions: 

1. Remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse well.

2a. Oven Roasting Method – Cut the tomatillos in half and place cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place under a broiler for about 5-7 minutes to lightly blacken the skin. I like to include a few garlic cloves in with the oven roasting method.

2b. Pan Roasting Method Coat the bottom of a skillet with a little vegetable oil. Heat on high heat. Place the tomatillos in the pan and sear on one side, then flip over and brown on the other side. Remove from heat.

2c. Boiling Method Place tomatillos in a saucepan, cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove tomatillos with a slotted spoon.

3. Place tomatillos, lime juice, onions, cilantro, chili peppers, sugar in a blender or food processor and pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped and mixed. Season to taste with salt. Cool in refrigerator. Serve with chips or as a salsa accompaniment to Mexican dishes. Makes 3 cups. 

 

Raw Corn and Radish Salad with Spicy Lime Dresssing

Originally from Yummly. 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 tbsps fresh lime juice
  • jalapeno (seeded and coarsely chopped)
  • 11/2 tsps honey
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 4 cups corn kernels (fresh, ears)
  • radishes (halved and thinly sliced crosswise)
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley (coarsely chopped)
  • 1/4 red onion (thinly sliced)

Directions:

In a blender, puree the lime juice, jalapeño, honey and cumin. With the machine on, add the oil. Season with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, toss the corn with the radishes, parsley, red onion and dressing. Season the salad with salt and pepper, transfer to plates and serve.

Sweet Potato Greens

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Ingredients: 
1 bunch (around 300 gms) Sweet potato (Camote) Tops, washed, cut into bite sized pieces
4 large tomatoes, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1/3 C rice vinegar (I used brown rice vinegar)
1 T sugar (or more if you prefer a bit sweeter taste)
salt and pepper to taste
Directions: 
1. Blanch the leaves in boiling water. Drain. Immerse in cold water bath. Drain again.
2. Mix the rice vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper together.
3. Arrange the sweet potato leaves on a platter. Top with tomatoes and onions. Drizzle with the vinegar-sugar mixture.
This is the basic salad recipe. For variation, we can add fruits such as mangoes, avocadoes or watermelon cubes.

YIELD: 4 side servings
TOTAL TIME: 20 minutes

Ingredients:
1 large bunch sweet potato greens
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 shallots, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root (from a 1/2-inch piece)
2 teaspoons grated fresh turmeric root, or 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 red thai chili, finely sliced
2-inch lemon grass stalk, trimmed and finely sliced
1 to 2 teaspoons soy sauce, or to taste
1 cup coconut cream plus 1 cup water (or substitute 2 cups light or regular coconut milk)
2 to 3 teaspoons raw or brown sugar, or to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Trim off any thick stems from greens. Add to boiling water and blanch for 60 seconds, then immediately transfer greens to a bowl filled with ice water to stop the cooking. Drain.
Heat oil in a large pan or wok over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic, ginger, turmeric, chili, and lemongrass and stir until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in soy sauce.
Add coconut cream and water (or coconut milk) and bring to a simmer. Add blanched greens and return to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes. Add sugar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon into bowls and serve with rice.

Raw Tomatillo Salsa

Recipe from Chef Rick Bayless

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Makes 1 1/2 cups

Recipe from Season 7 of Mexico – One Plate at a Time

INGREDIENTS

4 medium (about 8 ounces total) tomatillos, husked, rinsed and quartered
1 large garlic clove, peeled and quartered
Hot green chiles to taste (I like 2 serranos or 1 jalapeno), stemmed and roughly chopped
1/2 to 2/3 cup (loosely packed) roughly chopped cilantro
Salt

DIRECTIONS

Combine tomatillos, garlic, chile and cilantro in a blender jar or food processor.  Add 1/4 cup water and a generous 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Process to a coarse puree.  If using a blender, begin blending on low, at first pulsing to get the mixture moving evenly through the blender blades.  Pour into a salsa dish and thin with a little more water if necessary to give the salsa an easily spoonable consistency.  Taste and season with additional salt, if you think necessary.  Serve right away.