Sunday, July 26, 2009

Adventures in CSA: Week Six, Part II

It's time to wrap up week six of my Community Supported Agriculture experiment. We had a good week, wasting only a small amount of the dandelion greens and a portion of the baby greens. Read the first half (or two-thirds, really) of our kitchen adventure here.

This week, as you may remember, the farm provided shareholders:

1 Fennel
3 small Onion
2 large Beets
1 lb. Swiss Chard
3/4 lb. Carrots
1/2 lb Dandelion Greens (CHALLENGE VEGETABLE)
1/4 lb. Baby Greens
Bonus - 4 boxes Cherries
Bonus - 1 box Black Currant (CHALLENGE FRUIT!)
Bonus - 1 box White Currant (CHALLENGE FRUIT!)

and the dishes we've made since posting Part I have been:

Cherry Salad

7. Salad of Cherries and Greens. I used most of the baby salad greens (lost a few to refrigerator rot) with pepitas, parmesan, and some of the leftover cherries that had been cooked with dandelion greens earlier in the week (see dish #2). I'd had to throw out the leftover dandelion greens, as they were simply too bitter to eat after that first attempt, but I'd kept the sweet onion and cherries that had been cooked with it.

Cumin Beets

8. Bebert's Beets. I'm not sure who Bebert is. This recipe came to me through my CSA's email listserve, from Melinda. I adapted it just a bit, but it's basically hers.

Cook beets until done [I used the oven-baking method espoused by Mark Bittman in How to Cook Everything]. Chop and wilt the beet greens in a pan on top of the stove [Okay, I admit it. My beet greens were already wilted from being in the refrigerator for six days. I cooked them a bit anyway].

Make a vinaigrette while the beets are cooking: combine roughly three parts oil to one part vinegar (Melinda uses umeboshi, japanese plum vinegar), lemon juice, red onion sliced thin as possible, salt (optional depending on the vinegar you use), cayenne (M. sometimes use lemon pepper if she's out of cayenne), "and cumin to taste -- you'll use more than you think as it absorbs easily -- keep tasting til it's perfect.

The cumin is the secret of this beet dish. It quickly became one of my favorites to the point of getting cravings for it!

Slice beets, toss in greens and vinaigrette, and enjoy, everybody."
Thanks, Melinda! I agree. The cumin makes this something out-of-the-ordinary.

Cardoon Gratin

Cardoon, cream, and bacon

9. Cardoon Gratin. Cardoons are a challenge vegetable to end all challenges! I had never seen or even heard of these guys, and it seems I'm not alone. "Cardoon," when Google-searched, gives one a measly 204,000 results. That's not nothing, but to compare, "celery," a vegetable cardoon resembles (though it is actually related to the globe artichoke), has 8,290,000 results.

Florence Fabricant described it well six years ago in The New York Times,
"The cardoon is related to the artichoke and looks like celery you would not want to buy -- grayish, with a kind of matte finish. It tastes of celery and artichokes, with a hint of licorice. The stalks should be peeled and cooked before using in gratins, pasta sauces or grilled with a buttery glaze." (source)
Still cardoon-curious? Check out this article, found by Abigail, a fellow shareholder in my CSA.

Anyway, this recipe on the Saveur website for a cardoon gratin seemed promising and authentic to me (there were several ideas on the Food Network website that also looked interesting). I promptly made the thing less authentic in my own manner. For one thing, I did not have 3 lbs of cardoon, so I used cardoon and spring onions together. When I put it in the oven, I added chunks of turkey bacon. I also topped it with Emmentaler cheese, not Gruyere, as the Gruyere was literally twice as expensive.

Let's be honest, here. This turned out incredibly greasy, between the turkey bacon and the cheese. But it was delicious, once the grease was strained out. I think two things would have fixed this up nicely: a) more cardoon (if I'd had the full 3 lbs) or b) adding something like potato to soak up more of the juices. I'd make this again, and fiddle with the ingredients in this way.

Cardoon is a little woody and stringy (not unlike the celery to which it claims to be unrelated) even when cooked for over an hour. It will never be my favorite vegetable, but you can't go too wrong smothering it in cream and cheese.

Cherries and O-Shaped Cereal

10. Cherries and Toasted Oats. Sour cherries in the cereal? Sprinkled with sugar, natch. Outstanding, happy morning ahead!





11. Crepes Two Ways. This morning, Dan got the bright idea to make crepes with the cherries and white currants (liberally sprinkled with powdered sugar. After a few rounds, he decided to throw a little leftover carrot cake icing (cream cheese, orange juice, orange zest) into the mix.

Then, craving a savory crepe, I thought we should make a couple with the leftover cardoon and bacon gratin. Quite nice!

Savory crepe

The breakfast was backwards; we had the dessert first. But it was very satisfying -- and a nice way to end this week of vegetables and bonus fruit.


I'm so excited about what week seven has in store for me. I hear there is eggplant! And (finally) the hotly anticipated kohlrabi! I'm off to pick up the goods this afternoon. Keep checking this blog or its feed in your reader of choice. I'll be back soon with more Adventures in CSA.

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