You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2010.

Since I was out in the country without any internet or cellphone reception – which was glorious, by the way – I had to postpone my upcoming box plans until today. We were one of the unlucky few that were unable to receive our box last week. But it was understandable since our hill was covered in ice. Full Circle credited our account for this week, so we added some of the things we were excited about to this box!

Yukon Gold Roasting Potatoes
Bunched Carrots
Purple Top Turnips
Yellow Onions
Zucchini
Celery Root x 2
Green Leaf Lettuce
Broccoli
Satsuma
Pomegranates
Treviso Radicchio

Since we got more than our share of the usual T-Day fixings, I had to do a little substituting for this week and add in some other of our fall favorites. I substituted our apples and pears for celery root and Treviso, both of which I just can’t get enough of lately. I think for our recipe this week we’ll just do simple baked celery root fries tossed in truffle salt. These are my favorite fries, even beating our the popular sweet potato fry that seems to be everywhere these days.

I’ve actually never tried frying them. So maybe we’ll do a taste test between the two, since I have a double order. Along with the fries we’ll pan sear some pork chops from Heritage Meats and some wilted Treviso radicchio. I can’t wait, I’m hungry already. Along with the pork chops I added some oysters to make some breaded and pan-fried oysters. I was going to make oyster stuffing for Thanksgiving with these tasty Hama Hama oysters, but I’m just as excited about this. Pan fried oysters need some roasted potatoes and turnips to go along with them.

The carrots I’ll mix with some pasture butter and honey and bake them until lightly browned, toss with lemon juice and fresh mint for a delicious side. The zucchini’s can be sliced in half, scooped out to form little boats and filled with leftover stuffing and turkey bits, then baked until tender. Maybe even a little gravy on top?

I didn’t get a chance to make my satsuma mojitos I wanted to over the holiday, so I might just have to take a swing at that this weekend.

I also threw in some staples – bread, yogurt, cheese, some chocolates and pasture butter. We recently received a french butter dish from my parents and I can’t wait to fill it with creamy, fragrant, organic pasture butter.

Besides the Treviso and celery root, I’m excited about the pomegranates and will have to try adding them to our salads, maybe a chilled broccoli salad with pomegranate seeds, golden raisins and candied walnuts. A light champagne vinegar dressing with just a hint of citrus would make this salad pop, that and some clumps of soft goat cheese.

So that’s what we have planned for this week. Wednesday we’ll whip up some celery root fries, both baked and fried and let you know who wins!

Advertisements

I saw this recipe on Epicurious while looking for something to do with the pound of organic walnuts I ordered. It calls for candied lemon, lemon juice and zest among other things. I happened to have some candied ginger around and thought that would make a great substitute along with the orange zest and juice to give it a more floral flavor. It really is the perfect blend of winter flavors, and I was hoping to use the  first satsumas of the season.

I really can’t get enough satsumas. My stepbrother’s father owns a small organic farm in Santa Barbara where he grows avocados and satsuma mandarins. At Christmas time my brother would bring a box of satsumas up to my dad’s house in Sandpoint, Idaho. Surrounded by feet of snow and cozied up by the fire we’d eat half the box in a day. Each satsuma practically peeling itself, falling out into my waiting hand.

With the weather like it is, a fresh orange is a great reminder of warmer times. The citrus that comes in our box is usually of such great quality and flavor that it rarely makes it past breakfast. If I’m planning on using some for juicing, cooking or baking I’ll often double my order or add some more to my box.

Although baking has never been my forte, the flavors and simplicity of this recipe enticed me to give it a try. That way I can show up at mom’s with a box of good food and a sweet treat!

For Crust:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
7 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5 tablespoons (or more) ice water

For Filling:

3 cups toasted walnuts, chopped
1 1/2 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

1 egg, whisked to blend with 2 teaspoons water (for glaze)

Preparation for crust:
Blend flour and salt in processor. Add butter; using on/off turns, process until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 5 tablespoons ice water; process until moist clumps form, adding water by teaspoonfuls if dry. Gather into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic; let stand 1 hour (do not chill).

Preparation for filling:
Mix first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Whisk eggs, honey, lemon juice, and orange-flower water in another medium bowl. Add egg mixture to nut mixture; stir until well blended.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 400°F. Roll crust out on lightly floured surface to 14-inch round. Transfer to 11-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom, allowing crust to drape over pan. Pour filling into crust, spreading evenly. Fold edges over filling, pleating as needed. Brush with egg glaze.

Bake tart until filling is deep golden and almost set, about 40 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool 15 minutes. Carefully insert small knife between top edge of crust and pan sides in several places to loosen tart. Gently push up on tart bottom to release tart from sides of pan. Cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with foil and store at room temperature.) Cut tart into wedges.

Alright, this is the box. The one we’ll cart over the pass to my mother’s house in Couerd’Alene, Idaho for Thanksgiving with the family. My bid for turkey day in Seattle fell short, as Grandma wasn’t up for the five-hour drive. So this box is the big one. And all of the staples are there –

Yukon Gold Potatoes x 2        Bunched Carrots

Broccoli                                Satsumas

Red Kale                              Pomegranates

Parsnips                               Salad Mix

Green Beans                        Celery

Sweet Potatoes

I’ve already double my Yukons and substituted sweet potatoes for apples. I’ve also added some cheese, the Cirrus from Mt. Townsemd Creamery is awesome and goes great with anything. I added some stuffing mix from essential and some oysters for oyster stuffing.

My sister wasn’t happy to hear it. She was already looking forward to Grandma’s stuffing. But I assured her that I was only making this for an additional stuffing, next to Grandma’s and not in place of – I think she would have killed me otherwise. I left the pomegranates and Satsumas for either a salad or maybe a satsuma and pomegranate mojito I read about.

The parsnips will go with the Yukons for mashers. Parsnips give mashed potatoes a great tangy and earthy flavor that just soaks up gravy. Green beans will go into casserole, a little bacon, some bread crumbs, mushrooms, cream, stock and cheese. I can taste it already. The celery and carrots will go into the stuffing, and with the salad mix for a refreshing salad – between servings of course. And the kale, well we’ll need the kale for roughage. I think my wild rice and kale salad would be a refreshing side.

And what’s for dessert you ask? A few chocolate bars – Fig, Fennel and Almond as well as the Dark Chocolate with Orange – and a pound of walnuts for a walnut tart with candied ginger and orange zest. I’ll make it a day ahead and snap a picture of it to show you here.

Remember that a little planning can go a long way this Thanksgiving and that most of the staples you love can be added to your box. Just don’t forget that almost everyone’s modification period ends on Saturday 20th at noon. Check your member pages for details on holiday changes.

Next week – Walnut and Candied Ginger Tart

We had some friends over Friday night for an impromptu pool tourney. In a rush to whip up some food for everyone we decided on firing up the grill. I had picked up a small bone-in, French-cut, pork loin roast the day before from Rain Shadow Meats on Capitol Hill. That and the pound of Italian Sausage from Heritage Meats I got in the last box was enough to get things going.

One of my friends commented about the pork loin roast – which I cut into thick double chops, two bones thick in each – that he wouldn’t know where to begin with a cut like that. I replied that when in doubt, grill. Then to my surprise he said that he’d already put away his grill for the season and being the fastidious fellow that he is – cleaned it and put the cover on. This to him signifying the end of ‘grilling season.’

I was aghast. Grilling season around our house stops, well – when the charcoal is gone. And he had a gas stove! It’s just one of those things that brings out the flavor in many foods and I couldn’t live without. When we lived in Alaska we grilled through snow and rain, with a parka and gloves on. But, I wondered how many other people also associate warm weather with grill cooking? I can understand the nostalgia, I mean that’s when grilling is at its best. Beer in hand, a few watchful eyes muttering and pointing as you diligently flip burgers, sausages and pork chops over red hot coals. The smells of summer wouldn’t be the same without it.

But seriously, why stop there? Let’s keep the grill going all year long. I couldn’t  justify pan-frying my escarole if there was a hot grill nearby. Or bok choy marinated in sesame oil, fish sauce and shoyu? Sure it’s good in the wok, but on the grill – it’s amazing. So don’t put it away, that’s all I have to say. Take off the cover and fire it up! Whether rain or shine, snow or sleet, the grill is an easy and delicious cooking method that shouldn’t take a winter vacation.

Here is an example of grill to meal cooking. Some grilled lamb cooked rare and sliced thin, placed tenderly in a simple soup of white beans, thinly sliced fennel,  grilled and chopped Treviso radicchio and finished with Parmigiano. Of course the lamb is optional, and could be substituted with something else, but it adds a wonderful flavor to the soup.

2 T olive oil

1 large head of fennel, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 T shallots, minced

Red pepper flakes

1 pound Treviso,  quartered and grilled

Salt

4 cups stock

1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 (8 oz) can of stewed tomatoes

Parmigiano-Reggiano

Fresh ground black pepper

2 cups sourdough bread, chunks (optional)

Heat olive oil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Sauté fennel for 3-4 minutes, until soft.  Add shallots and garlic until soft and fragrant. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes, season with salt and pepper. Add stock and bring to boil. Add beans and tomatoes, and reduce to simmer. Simmer until beans are hot and cooked through. While beans are cooking grill lamb until rare to medium-rare, pressing the tip of your finger into the grilled meat it should spring back slowly. Remove to the cool side of the grill and let rest. Brush, Treviso quarters lightly with oil and season with salt and pepper. Sear quickly over hot grill until lightly browned and slightly wilted, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Remove and roughly chop Treviso. Add bread chunks to soup, if desired, and cook for another 2-3 minutes until bread is soft. Ladle soup into bowls and shave Parmigiano over the top. Thinly slice lamb into strips and place in bowls with a handful of Treviso to serve.

So I’m going to forgo the usual box talk and give a quick shout out to the ‘new box.’ Full Circle’s new box, with the new look and design is far superior to the older boxes. It’s construction, I’m told, uses far less materials and is offset using carbon neutral wind power by the production company. Disregarding, for the moment, the new aesthetics – the box is lighter, uses less paper product, is made out of post-consumer waste and by health department standards, much safer than a multi-use option.

The only snag, it seems, is the use of tape on these boxes as opposed to the tape-less previous box. It’s not as easy to break down a taped box, especially if you don’t have something sharp on you, than the older version. Though I’ve found after testing multiple things that a set of keys works perfectly well. The teeth of the keys are just abrasive enough to pierce the tape and cleanly slice it free.

But what if you don’t have anything available? No keys, or a pen, or anything to use to pierce the tape? Try this method for hands-only tape removal and box breakdown –

Push sharply in on the side of the box

Slip your fingers under the exposed tape

Pull the tape up and off

Push sharply down on the box to expose tape

Grab exposed tape and pull down

Follow the tape around to the sides to remove

Continue removing tape

Flatten box and you’re ready to recycle

I was going to make a salad with the persimmons that came in the box today. Their crunchy texture and subtle sugar is perfect blended with a salty blue cheese, a bit of ripe pear and some fresh arugula. Instead I decided to try something I’d never done, but had read a lot about – baking with them. Persimmon’s mellow sugars seemed perfect for a muffin or sweet bread. I came across a recipe from Cooking Light that used both the Fuyu variety as well as the softer Hachiya.

Since I didn’t have any Hachiya’s and I did have a couple of ripe pears around, I decided to substitute pears for this variety of persimmon, honey for the agave nectar and instead of fat-free yogurt – I mean really, fat-free yogurt? – I substituted some Grace Harbor full-cream honey yogurt, which is awesome. The cranberries seemed like a good fit and I had some pecans around that just happened to be enough.

Persimmons are another one of those over-looked fall fruits. Although native to the United States, the most commonly grown varieties are of Japanese descent. With slow sugars that don’t ripen until October they are perfect for muffins and breads as well as great in salads and chutneys. Although this recipe was originally for muffins I like the small loaf pans better. That way each person can take as big or as small a slice as they like. Perfect for breakfast, lunch or dessert. Enjoy!

Adapted from Cooking Light

3/4  cup  chopped pecans, divided
1 1/4 cups  all-purpose flour
1 cup  whole-wheat flour
1/2  cup  packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2  teaspoons  baking soda
1  teaspoon  salt
1  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
1/2  teaspoon  ground nutmeg
1/8  teaspoon  ground cloves
1  cup  plain fat-free yogurt
1/3  cup  ripe pears, finely diced
1/3  cup  honey
1/4  cup  canola oil
2  teaspoons  grated peeled fresh ginger
1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
2  large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2  cup  diced peeled Fuyu persimmon
1/2  cup  dried cranberries
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375°. Place 1/2 cup pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 375° for 8 minutes or until pecans are fragrant and toasted. Cool. Coat two bread baking tins with vegetable spray.

In a large bowl, combine flours and next 6 ingredients (through cloves) , stir well. In another bowl, combine yogurt and next 6 ingredients (through eggs), mix well using a whisk. Fold in egg mixture to flour mixture. Fold in Fuyu persimmon, cranberries, and toasted pecans. Spoon batter into tins. Sprinkle tops with remaining 1/4 cup pecans.

Bake at 375° for 18 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 5 minutes on a wire rack, and remove from pans.

When people used to ask me what my favorite holiday was I’d say Thanksgiving, easy. There’s lots of eating, napping, drinking and playing games with my siblings, friends and other family. As time went on it remained my favorite, but the last few years my mother has passed the preparations on to her sons, all of us chefs at one time or another, content to have herself a glass of wine and relax.

I don’t remember when this shift happened. I think she just got sick of us sticking our noses in her kitchen. I think one too many times of hearing, “I wouldn’t do it that way,” or “I know this great recipe for cranberry sauce that uses fresh cranberries” finally got to her. Now her boys take over, pushing each other around, delegating, instructing and generally making controlled chaos out of the whole event.

But, the food is fantastic and what we’ve lost in laying around time we’ve gained in the pride of a meal well made. This year will be a test more than others, as our appreciation for food has moved past merely quality and become interested in sustainability. My mother already complained about buying a $100 turkey, no matter what its golden provenance.

It really is a good thing that it’s only once a year and that the majority of the dishes will be supplied through my Full Circle box. In fact, I’m already planning the dishes out and figuring out just how much I can get from my Farm-to-Table box and what I’ll need to go elsewhere for. The staples I will count on – potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, green beans, carrots, pie pumpkins, onions, herbs, parsnips and some good old fashion palate-cleansing salad (a little roughage between servings).

But some things will have to be stocked up on through other sources. Its nice to know though that this year’s cost may be slightly higher than years past, but it will be well worth it.

The box is definitely moving towards the fall staples this week and I’m ready to roll with it, though I did switch out a couple of things –

Yukon Gold Potatoes                    Yellow Onions
Baby Bok Choy                           Purple Top Turnips
Collard Greens                            Arugula (Greens)
Broccoli                                      Fuyu Persimmons
Brussels Sprouts On The Stalk      Bartlett Pears
Cucumbers                                 Braeburn Apples

Valencia oranges for arugula and California romaine lettuce for Washington yellow onions. I’m so excited to see persimmons in the box, as well as more Brussels Sprouts on the stalk! Last night we just steamed the remaining sprouts with the skinned and chopped stalk and tossed them in some butter, salt and pepper – that was it, and they were delicious. I’m looking forward to some collard greens, simmered down with some back-fat and finished with sherry. I’ll have to get a shoulder roast special for that dish. The apples, pears and persimmons will go into a salad to be nestled on a bed of arugula, I might even throw some cucumbers in there as well.

I might need to add a chicken to this order, though I’ll be having bird soon enough it just sounds good with some potato and turnip mashers. Those baby bok choy’s are a great side or make for good veggie stir fry. I think for next week we’ll have to try some persimmon goodness. Maybe I’ll save some to go in muffins. I’ll add in some coffee, as we’re getting low, and of course, some Grace Harbor Honey Yogurt. Have a good weekend. Next week – Persimmon Muffins or Other Fall Fun.

I can’t believe I didn’t like these as a kid. It’s one of the many foods, including fava beans, turnips, capers, oysters and others that have gone from the bottom of my culinary list to the top. My love for all things Brassica, the family of cabbage that produces my primary source of cruciferous vegetables,  peaks with these little heads. When over-cooked they release the sulphur-smelling compound sinigrin with accompanying taste and odor, this being the most likely culprit of my earlier aversion.

But when roasted, as in this recipe, they become soft, the outer leaves crisp and have a mellow bright and grassy flavor. Toss them in balsamic vinegar reduction and the sweet and sour  darkness creates a new experience all together. Also, like their cousin Brassica oleracea, or broccoli, you can peel and cube the stem and roast it along with the heads. The stem has an even lighter flavor and could probably make a wonderful soup. Think about that, creamy Brussels sprouts soup. Next time.

When you get Brussels sprouts on the stem, cut what you need and leave the rest attached, they’ll stay firm and fresh as the stem will continue to keep them plump. If you like the crisp outer leaves, similar to kale chips, rough them up a little by tossing them in sea salt or cutting out the little stem with a paring knife. Then space them well on a roasting pan and cook on high heat until brown and tender.

This method is really the god-send for the hurried household. Most vegetables not only improve with a high-heat roasting, around 400 degrees, but it’s easy, and quick – you can roast a whole chicken in an hour this way, just turn the oven down to 350 after a half hour. Carrots, potatoes, turnips, radishes (yes, radishes!) and even kale can be roasted and served immediately or bagged and thrown in the fridge for later meals.

And as a good roasting releases and caramelizes the natural sugars, a pre-roasting for soup and stew ingredients can add a richness and depth of flavor that raw veggies can’t match. Some veggies, like these sprouts, benefit from just the lightest of tossing in oil and seasoning, while others, like yams, sweet potatoes and carrots need a more generous coating. Experiment with fresh and dried herbs, roasting garlic along with your veggies to impart that golden roasted flavor and finishing with a bright acid, like lemon juice or vinegar. You really can’t go wrong.

1 lb Brussels sprouts, halved

1/2 pound red radishes, halved, quartered if large

1 T olive oil

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, reduced by at least half, until thick

preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut sprouts from stem, cut large ones in half, peel stem and cut into similar sized chunks. Toss in large bowl with olive oil and radishes. Space on a large roasting pan and place in top rack of the oven. If you have a convection oven turn it on, watching they don’t burn as this will cut your cooking time in half. Roast until leaves are brown and crisp and heads are tender and brown. Radishes will be brown but still slightly crunchy. Remove and plate, sprinkling with balsamic reduction.