Sunday, August 2, 2009
Adventures in CSA: Week 7
Looks like this past week's CSA vegetable share came with a purple, green, and white color theme. Last Sunday I picked up:
1 lb eggplant
1 lb fava beans (CHALLENGE VEGETABLE - or fruit!)
3 purple bell peppers (I've never seen this color before, but it's not so challenging)
2 kohlrabi (CHALLENGE VEGETABLE!)
1 bunch onions
We still had one of the farm's half chickens in the freezer, too, as well as a small amount of CSA sour cherries and white currants. As you'll see below, I used up the fruit this week but not yet the chicken.
Notice anything that might thrill me about this bunch of produce? If you guessed, "No leafy greens," you'd be right. I mean, I like chard and lettuce and spinach, but I'm happy to have some things I can worry less about wilting in my fridge as soon as I get them home. This is the first week we haven't had an overwhelming pile of leaves on a shelf in there waiting to be eaten.
Yee-ha! Instead, I ate and drank:
1. Sour Cherry Coconut Milkshakes. With the last of week six's sour cherries and 1/2 pint of vanilla ice cream, Dan whipped up a dessert beverage extraordinaire. Our new blender, courtesy of Nick and Julie (who are moving to England, of all places) is pretty dreamy. I'm sad they're leaving / have left with their charming daughter and my favorite office dog, but I can't be mad at their blender -- the blender they left behind. In my kitchen (on purpose).
2. Fennel and Currant Salad Redux (not pictured). I had to have this dish (#3) again. This time, Dan made it and used the white currants left over from week six. At work, I didn't have any parmesan to top it with, but it was still crunchy and delicious.
(photo by Dan)
3. Spicy Eggplant, Onion, and Kohlrabi Curry. I have an eggplant curry recipe adapted from an Emeril recipe I discovered at some point. I've made it several times, each time with slightly different ingredients. The original calls for spinach, but I rarely have that leafy green on hand.
This time, I adapted it to use three of our fine CSA vegetables. The finished product had an excellent flavor, but since I did not have any tomatoes that night it was just a tad dry. I added sesame oil to the rice when dishing it all out, which helped moisten the final product.
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 tsp. mustard seeds
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander (I was out of this, so skipped it)
1 tsp. turmeric
1 1/2 T. curry powder (I used 1 tsp. spicy and 1/2 tsp. mild)
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1 c. chopped onions (I used both the small CSA onions, sliced, plus half a white onion, chopped)
1 T. minced fresh ginger (I skipped it this time)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 small or 1-2 medum (or 1 lb) eggplants, chopped into similar-sized pieces
1 tsp. salt
2 large tomatoes, chopped (skipped this time)
handful torn fresh cilantro
This time, I also used:
half of a kohlrabi, peeled and sliced into 1/4" matchsticks
dash of sesame oil
fresh yogurt or sour cream
Heat your oil in a wok or large pan over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds and stir until they begin to pop. Add all of the other spices except for the salt and ginger. Stir constantly while it cooks for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add your onions and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Next, add the ginger, garlic, and jalapeno. Cook about 30 seconds, stirring. Put in the eggplant and sprinkle with salt. At this point, I also added half a (peeled) kohlrabi, sliced into thin matchsticks. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is cooked through (about 5-10 minutes). If you're using tomato, add it at this point and cook over medium-low heat 10-15 minutes until it's thickened to your liking. Add cilantro and stir well. Season to taste and serve hot over cooked rice with yogurt or sour cream on top.
In the variation pictured above, the eggplant turned out spongy and soft, with a good spice, while the kohlrabi was crispy and sharp. The kohlrabi seemed especially well-matched with the flavor of the fresh cilantro.
4. Raw Kohlrabi with Salt. More kohlrabi serving suggestions can be found here, but I found the simplest treatments to be the most desirable when testing mine out. They really are good just peeled, raw, and salted. There's a sort of radish flavor in there. I topped a few slices with a little mustard, which was queer but intriguing.
This challenge vegetable needs to cross over. Who'd like to help me bring kohlrabi to the masses? For starters, here are some exciting, marketable nicknames for kohlrabi that some friends and I came up with:
Kool Rah-B! (Yes, with an exclamation point.)
5. Kohlrabi and Fennel Salad with Sweet Cherries. This week's cherries were sweet, as opposed to sour, and purchased on sale ($1.99/lb) at Whole Foods, rather than CSA bounty.
To use them, and to use up the last of the week's kohlrabi and fennel, we created a variation on the fennel and currant salad I have been enjoying so much (mentioned above).
Anise-flavored fennel (1 bulb) and one radish-bitter kohlrabi (peeled and cut into thin matchsticks) were combined in a bowl with the juice of half a lemon and a little olive oil. We then added pepper and salt. I stirred everything together, then threw in pitted and quartered sweet cherries (about 1/2 cup), stirred again lightly, and we were off!
We took this salad in a plastic container to the palatial brownstone belonging to August's ex-boss and the ex-boss's wife (where August and Willow were house-sitting). There, we ate it in luxury, topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese. I think I liked this salad more than anyone else did, but I stand firm behind the concept. It was excellent.
Dan had seconds, so I guess I married the right guy. Too bad we left the remainder in the refrigerator there. August and Willow are off to Vietnam today, so I guess I won't be licking the container clean.
6. Fava Beans in Leftovers. I looked through 15 or 20 cookbooks to find but a handful of fava bean recipes. The one offering me the most choices for the beans was the Spanish tome, 1080 Recipes. I chose to modify a recipe for Fava Beans in Sauce.
I removed the beans from their pods, boiled them in a pot of salted water (with a pinch of baking soda) until they were tender, and then drained off the water. I added the drained beans to a pan containing leftover cardoon and turkey bacon gratin (dish #9) and heated everything to a decent temperature.
Cooked soft, the beans were velvety-smooth and thick-tasting. My original Spanish recipe had called for ham, but I found the turkey bacon to add sufficient depth of flavor. I chose not to create the sauce called for, as (you may remember) the cardoons were cooked in cream and came out plenty saucy.
7. North African Stuffed Purple Bell Peppers in Feta Sauce. This recipe I found in my copy of the Sundays at Moosewood cookbook. The stuffing for the peppers (whose purple color leached out during cooking) contained tomato, brown rice, pine nuts, onion, garlic, mint, dill, and parsley.
The sauce was meant to contain milk, but as I was out of that ingredient (which happens on rare evenings in this house), I substituted tomato juice and water in the same amount. This was thickened with butter and flour, and combined with feta, mint, and dill, then seasoned with salt to bring out the cheese's tang.
May I type a sound effect to suggest approval and satisfaction? MWAH!
It is late now. I am full and I am tired. I intend to end this post in a moment, so as to take myself off to bed, where I will dream of eating the vegetables that have come to stay in week eight of this CSA experience. I shall also, I hope, dream of reporting on the week to all of you.
I am hoping I will dream thus because I plan to turn these dreams into reality in seven days or fewer. You'll see; dreams do come true.