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Mango Lassi

I have to admit that mangos, though one of my favorite treats, are on my permanent exemptions list. Initially I made this decision while in an ‘eating local’ phase, and thought it best to substitute other more-local fare for these Mexico-grown goodies. But the more I thought about it, the more my decision seemed to be about preserving a memory rather than eating in a locality.

I personally believe that organically grown foods are far superior to conventionally grown and GMO foods. I want to support all organic farms, big and small, and especially those in developing neighbor countries that have far less environmental regulation than we do. The abundance and over dependence on pesticides, herbicides and other -cides pollute water resources, harm peoples health and make farming dangerous.

There are great organic farms in Mexico and other countries that are leading the way in organic agriculture and showing other farmers that growing food can be safer, healthier and more cost-effective when done organically, and they deserve my support. The only way the culture will change is if there’s market demand and it is arguably as important for developing countries to learn the benefits of organics as it is for farmers here to realize the same.

So eating from our southern neighbor wasn’t really the issue for me, what I realized was that I have a specific association with mangos, and I rarely eat them for fear of diluting that association.

The first time I ever tried one I was about 12 years-old and vacationing with my parents in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. My dad bought me a mango, which the street vendor then stuck on a stick and in deft swipes removed the peel, sprinkled it with chili powder and topped it with a squeeze of lime juice.

Ataulfo mangoSliced mango

I soon had mango juice running down my face, over my hands and had tossed the stick aside to finish by gnawing on the hairy seed, salvaging the last vestiges of the fruity flesh. I’ll never forget that first mango, the exotic scent, the smooth, slippery flesh and the floral, bright, sweet taste. All other mangos have paled in comparison.

Initially, when I joined Full Circle and had not yet mastered the subtle art of substituting, recipe planning and adding Green Grocery items, I got a mango. It came as a default item in my order and I really had no idea what to do with it. Sure, I’d cooked with mangos in the past, used them in sauces, dressing, and salsas, but the culinary mango craze had ended years before and I hadn’t had one since.

So I went back to the basics—peeled, sliced, a dash of chili powder and a squeeze of lime. It was delicious indeed, but paled in comparison to my memory. So I added them to my exemptions list. Just recently, my co-worker, our Farm Foodie and Product Manager, told me that mangos were in season and if there was ever a time to try them again, it was now.

Ingredients for Mango Lassi

So I doubled my order of Ataulfo mangos. I ate one, straight up, no nothing and it was awesome.  It wasn’t the mango of my memory, but it was enough to give me a flash of salty shores, hot sun and the pure joy of adventurous eating. I’m glad I did it.

Here are a couple of other things to do with your mangos. Although my favorite is still briefly grilling them, dashing them with smoked paprika and a squeeze of lime. Perfect with flank steak or pork chops.

Mango Lassi

2 ripe mangos, peeled and cubed
1 cup honey yogurt
1/2 cup non-fat milk
1/2 orange, juiced

If you don’t have honey yogurt, just add one tablespoon of honey to the mixture. Place into blender and blend until smooth. Some recipe call for sugar, but I find the mixture of ripe mangos and just a little honey enough to sweeten it perfectly. If you feel you’d like yours a little sweeter, add a bit more honey. If it’s too sweet for you a touch of salt and a bit more orange juice should do the trick.

Mango salsa

Mango Salsa

2 ripe mangos, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup shallots, green onion or red onion, minced
2 jalapenos, minced
3 T cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced
Salt
Chili powder or smoked paprika

Combine ingredients in a bowl. Salt to taste. Let sit for one-half hour for flavors to blend. Dust with chili powder or paprika before serving.  You can also add avocado, strawberries or red bell pepper for a variety of flavors.

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Oh the darkness

This is what it looks like outside

My fiancé said this to me the other day, and I think I’d have to agree. I think we all have a case of the SADs. For those of you that either don’t live in the Northwest or Alaska, or maybe winter in more southern climes, SAD is Seasonal Affective Disorder; which basically means you become depressed when it rains too much.

Up here in Seattle we combat the SADs in a few ways: we complain, we become passive-aggressive, we drink copious amounts of coffee, we drink copious amounts, and we complain about how much everyone is complaining. This all works pretty well up until—well, up until about April. It is right about now that we feel generally entitled to just a little bit of sunshine, and very sad when we aren’t getting it.

To combat the SADs (which is a clinically diagnosed mood disorder first formally described and named in 1984 by Norman E. Rosenthal and colleagues at the National Institute of Mental Health; lest you think it’s some made-up Northwest thing) it is recommended to use light therapy, melatonin or anti-depressants if it doesn’t clear up on its own—somewhere around mid-July I think for us.

Tropical beach

This is what it looks like in my head!

I prefer a slightly different method. When I look at the forecast, as I did today during a beautiful late afternoon break in the clouds, and am confronted by not two, or three, but ten—that’s right ten days of rain and clouds I turn to two things. Barbecues and tropical fruit.

Put on some shorts, crank up the heat and throw on a little Israel “IZ” Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole. Then fire up the grill, get some steaks, or some portobello mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, chips, guacamole, anything that reminds you of islands, beaches, summer, sun and have at it. Throw a Hawaiian themed party, have everyone show up in lei and flower print shirts. Put on sunscreen just for the scent, wear your sunglasses indoors, put on your thongs (I don’t care which kind, we’re not judging here, this is a matter of survival), turn the lights up, drink canned beer and dance. Dancing is essential.

That’s why my box now looks like this:

Cucumbers
Fingerling Potatoes
Radishes
Yellow Onions
Zucchini
Cremini Mushrooms
Tomatoes
Braising Mix (Cut Greens)
Minneola Tangelos
Ataulfo Mangoes x 2
Limes

I’ve also added some ground beef, sirloin steaks, halibut, pork chops and two whole organic chicken legs. This will ensure a ready supply of barbecue materials. I know it’s a little meat-centric, but I’m a heartless carnivore—okay, semi-heartless as I believe responsible animal husbandry leads to tenderness and besides, we’re really loading up for some rainy days here.

The cucumbers, radish and tomatoes will be awesome in a light Greek style salad.

Zukes, mushrooms and onions will be taking their rightful place next to some kebabs.

The limes, mangoes and halibut will make a delicious ceviche dish, and since mangoes are at their peak right now (and part of my mirror-island life-SADs detox) I doubled up. I’m hoping to try making some mango margaritas, mango lassis or maybe just grilled mangoes as an appetizer for the pork chops.

Of course, I couldn’t have a box without my favorite greens and since I could sub out kale for the more colorful braising mix—why not?! SO, for those of you suffering silently, or even those hurling verbal assaults at every slow motorist out there, let’s get in this together. If you have a good remedy for SAD, let me know.

Until next week then, chin up. I hear it’s still snowing in the mountains.

Grapefruit and kiwi sorbet

I forgot to change out my box this week. Which normally isn’t a problem, but since we were gone over the weekend and my brother, who stayed at our house and watched the animals didn’t eat his fair share of fruit, we had a bit of an overload. Normally I would just cram them into the juicer, gladly drinking anything that comes out the other side (sorrel juice anyone? Don’t try it, seriously it’s not worth it, but it might make a good cream sauce for fish–I’ll let you know).

This time I thought I’d do something different. Well, kind of, at least with the juice. I think I might still be riding off of the brief sun I soaked up on the beaches of Santa Monica when I thought of this. It seriously doesn’t make any sense now when it’s barely 50 degrees outside. But I’m sure after a dinner of spinach gnocchi in sorrel pesto (I have sorrel growing out of my ears), it will be a delicious treat no matter what the outside temperature.

I don’t drink milk, being lactose intolerant it doesn’t sit well with me, but cook with cream on occasion and consume more than I should in other forms of dairy–most notably cheese and yogurt, oh, and butter (mmm butt-er). So when it comes to ice cream I generally turn to coconut varieties or to sorbets.

Ruby grapefruitKiwi

I have been known to throw caution to the wind and get a cone of mint chocolate chip while out on the town, but for sitting around the fireplace after dinner I prefer a slightly tart sorbet.

The grapefruits we get tend to be fairly sweet. Their mature sugars make great sorbets while still retaining the gentle tartness that makes them such a great breakfast snack. When combined with the sweet, tart flavor of ripe organic kiwis it makes the perfect blend of exotic sweetness and refreshing tartness of this sorbet.

Grapefruit and kiwi sorbet

I’ve made this both in an ice cream maker and previously using a whip, a metal bowl and another bowl full of ice and rock salt. It takes a little more elbow grease and the result is practically the same so I don’t feel too bad taking the short cut. I like my sorbets silky smooth and one of the tricks to keeping them from looking like granitas is to add a little vodka.

The vodka will help to lower the temperature that the sorbet freezes at and keep large crystals from forming,; though it will increase the amount of time it will take the sorbet to set up. After about a half hour in the ice cream maker it’s ready to transfer to a container and into the freezer for another hour to two hours depending on how firm you prefer your sorbet.

Grapefruit and kiwi sorbet

2 grapefruits, juiced
2 kiwis, juiced
1 t zest
1 T vodka
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar

In a small pan mix sugar and water. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer until sugar is completely dissolved. I prefer the slightly caramel flavor of natural sugar, though it will slightly darken the color of the sorbet. After sugar is dissolved, cool completely. Add juice, zest and vodka. Pour into ice cream maker and follow manufacturers instructions. Transfer to container and freeze until desired consistency. That’s it!

No, seriously I am ready. Bring it. None of this ‘Oh, here’s a little break in the clouds for you’ or ‘How about a couple hours of sunshine?’ I want spring, now. I’m dieing here and even though I’ll be escaping to California for the weekend – cousin’s wedding – I may return excited yet even more disappointed than ever.

Because more rain at this point is not what we need. We need barbecue weather. We need picnic weather. We need sun. And our crops do to. Although spring has finally sprung in California, bringing with it a true spring like bloom of new veggies, our wet soil has hindered spring planting.

Take solace though – even if it’s not spring outside, thanks to our southern partner farms who are enjoying just a bit more sunshine than us, it is beginning to look like spring in the box. I’m not even changing anything this week, no substitutions and just taking what I get.

Here’s what my box is looking like –

Tomatoes
Klamath Pearl Potatoes
Snow Peas
Red Onions
Baby Spinach
Arugula (Greens)
Romaine Lettuce
Green Kale
Cara Cara Oranges
Kiwi
Mangos
Braeburn Apples

I’m willing to give tomatoes a try, the one I got in my last box is still sitting on my south-facing windowsill, and the Klamath Pearls I can’t wait for. This particular potato is only grown in the rich loamy soil of the Oregon-California border. Soil filled with the minerals from the eruption of Mt. Mazama and the prehistoric Lake Modoc.

These little pots are not to be missed. They are especially good roasted, just boil them first for about 12-13 minutes, toss roughly in coarse sea salt and roast on high, about 450 degrees. It’ll be the best roaster you’ve had, guaranteed.

The snow peas are wonderful just steamed and tossed with a little honey and mint. Or mixed, Sechuan-style, with sesame oil, sesame seeds and some ginger-chili paste. Yum.

Arugula is my favorite spring topping for pizza, or pizza bread, or just made into a salad with shallots, balsamic vinegar, pears and goat cheese. The Fromage Blanc from Mt. Townsend Creamery is awesome in this dish.

The romaine is an excuse to try out the original Caesar recipe in the member recipes section. Drizzled over a quarter of broiled or grilled romaine is a delicacy.

Leche de Mango for dessert, or maybe kiwi sorbet, I’ll let you decide. I’m going to do some research this weekend and explore the depths of my Grandmother’s culinary legacy while I’m down south. Hopefully I’ll come back with a jewel for us all. Until then, have a great weekend. Eat healthy and be well.

Steamed asparagus with vinaigrette

Nothing says spring like the crunchy grass-like stems of asparagus. This herbaceous, perennial plant was once grouped with alliums like garlic and onions but now resides in its own family. And rightly so — the soft, gentle and crisp asparagus is not nearly as potent or boisterous as its onion cousins. Mild enough to be eaten raw and when thicker, delicious broiled over a hot grill, the asparagus is the herald of spring’s arrival.

There are multiple ways to prepare asparagus. Asparagus soup with grilled cheese sandwiches is a delicious sunny afternoon lunch (we’ll have to wait another three months for that), while grilled asparagus makes a delicate and delicious side to any main dish. Even a bed of quickly sauteed asparagus with a poached egg and Hollandaise sauce can make a decadent breakfast or brunch treat.

Peeled asparagus

Now don’t feel too bad about coating your delicate spears with a rich emulsion of butter and egg yolks, each spear is only about 4 calories! It also contains potassium, thiamin, vitamin B6 and is a great source of fiber, not to mention being one of the richest sources of rutin, a compound that has been shown to be necessary in strengthening capillary walls leading to cardiovascular health. How’s that for a grassy stem?

Two simple, quick and delicious ways to prepare asparagus are to follow. Although completely different cooking styles the one thing to remember is not to overcook either way. Your cooked spears should bend, but still snap when folded over. This will keep the nutrients in the spear and allow your body to access as much potent vitamins and minerals as possible.

Asparagus peels

Also, when preparing your asparagus, remove the last 1/2 inch of the stem, then if they are thick spears, use a vegetable peeler to peel the bottom two inches. This will remove any woody skin and leave the tender insides. If you’re making asparagus soup, or vegetable stock, save the ends to add to the preparing water or stock for more flavor.

Asparagus with Vinaigrette

2 T sea salt
1 bunch asparagus, about 1 pound
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T balsamic or red wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add salt and asparagus and cook until just tender, about 3-5 minutes. Drain immediately. In a small bowl whisk together oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Arrange the asparagus on a platter and drizzle with mixture to serve.

Roasted Asparagus with Garlic

1 bunches asparagus
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 t coarse sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange stalks on a baking sheet in one layer. Sprinkle with oil and garlic, season with salt and pepper, tossing them to coat evenly. Roast until slightly brown and crisp, but not over-cooked, about 8-10 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.

There are multiple variations of these recipes, but this is a great place to start. Try serving spears with a garlic aioli, Hollandaise or Béarnaise sauce, or just sprinkled with high quality olive oil and sea salt after grilling. You’ll have people asking in disbelief ‘What did you put on these?’ and reaching for more.

Snap peas with Finnadenni sauce

As Spring sun graces my porch I can’t help but to look forward to days of grilling, quick cool salads and the lighter fare that I’ve craved all winter. One of the great secrets to year-round grilling and something that comes in even more handy as the weather warms is a few great sauces to accompany both your meat and veggie dishes.

There are about three sauces that are always around my house. One is pesto, and this doesn’t necessarily mean basil-based pesto either. I’ve mentioned it before, but you can make pesto out of just about anything. Arugula pesto is one of our favorites and is wonderful spread on bread, tossed in with steamed veggies or pasta, or as a quick marinade for grillables, but pesto can also be made from kale, chard, and in the Argentinian version, parsley.

Which is number two –  chimichurri, the Argentinian pistou, is much like pesto but is a little more sauce like. Primarily used as a dipping sauce perfect for kebabs, or drizzled over rice it is primarily made of parsley and cilantro and the rest is vinegar, herbs and spices. If you haven’t tried it yet you should whip it up for your next barbecue. It is guaranteed to be a hit.

The last sauce is called finadenni, or fina’denne depending on where you look. This is another dipping sauce that goes well with fish. My college roommate was from Guam and told me this was an essential part of a fisherman’s toolbox. When they caught a good sized fish they would immediately remove it’s cheeks and crack open the finadenni, eating it there on the spot. His version was mainly beer, soy sauce and lime juice, with a few hot Tinian peppers minced in. Delicious on fish, excellent on rice and with a teaspoon of honey and some sesame oil, a great dressing for blanched snap peas.

I’ll also include two other recipes – these ones I got from RecipeSecrets.com – and they are my favorite sauces from Benihana. Yes, the tapenyaki bar of almost world renown. My fiance loves these sauces, and every time we go there she raves about them endlessly. So I did a little recipe sleuthing of my own and came up with the following. Their secret revealed!

These sauces are super awesome and go great with meats and vegetables alike. So, as you prep up for warm weather and fire up your grill in celebration of whatever brief glimpse of sun we’re offered, add some of these sauces to your culinary toolkit and you’ll be ready for anything.

Mustard Sauce:
Makes about 2/3 cup
Preparation time: about 5 minutes
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons Oriental mustard (can be found in the international or Asian food sections of most supermarkets)
2 teaspoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

For Mustard Sauce: In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, water, mustard, cream and garlic powder. Stir or whisk until well combined. Chill before serving.

Ginger Sauce:
Makes about 1/2 cup
Preparation time: about 5 minutes
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 ounce gingerroot (a nickel-size slice), peeled and chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon (2 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon white vinegar

For Ginger Sauce: In a blender combine the onion, soy sauce, garlic, gingerroot, lemon juice, sugar and white vinegar. Blend on low speed for 30 seconds or until the gingerroot and garlic have been pureed. Chill before serving.

Finadenni Sauce:
Makes about 1 cup
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
splash of pilsner or other light beer
1/3 cup finely chopped scallions
1/2 tomato finely minced
2 red chili peppers, roasted and minced
or 1 habanero pepper, roasted and minced

Combine in a small bowl. Let sit for half hour before serving. For vegetables add 1 teaspoon honey and 1 teaspoon sesame oil.

Chimichurri Sauce:
1 cup fresh parsley
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup cilantro
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 t dried red pepper
1/2 t ground cumin
Salt

Puree all ingredients in food processor. Add more oil as necessary. Let sit for half hour before serving.

Homemade Whole Wheat Pizza

One of my favorite pizzas of all time has to be mushrooms and spinach on pesto. Born primarily from nostalgia for a San Francisco road trip and midnight arrival that resulted in finding a late-night corner pizzeria serving some of the most delicious pizza ever, I’ve heralded this combination as my winning pizza flavor for years.

Now that my culinary adventures have given me a wider palette to paint with I can’t help but muddle with this memorable favorite. First the crust – though I love a good pizza and can often eat three or four pieces without any remorse, there is sometimes a slight – shall we say – tinge of guilt post satiation that leaves a slightly bitter moment. This, I’ve decided, can easily be offset with a few choice substitutions. Whole wheat for flour dough and delicious organic ingredients for the conventional fair.

No longer the greasy pepperoni, it’s thin slices of prosciutto. No canned olive, but lovely kalamatas or pitted niçoise. Organic mushrooms, spinach and a peppery pesto made from arugula for my base. Not to forget the most important part – the cheese. I’ve decided that at some point I’m going to try making my own, but until then some local mozz will have to do.

There, that should relieve enough guilt for me to enjoy my pie in peace. Post pie peace.

Arugula Pesto Pizza with Spinach and Mushrooms from Full Circle

The dough recipe I chose for its ease and simplicity. I’ve heard different things about making quality dough. I’ve heard it should be allowed to rise for at least three days, heard that it can be made in as little as thirty minutes and be fine and that given the right combination of white and whole wheat flour it can be both crunchy and chewy, thin and perfect.

I didn’t know what to believe. I tend to be a big believer in time making all food better, the whole ‘good things come…’ motto. But I also like to eat now, when I’m hungry for what I want to make. So I’m going to try the quick and tasty for now and then I’ll report back on the more patient option later. Here’s the recipe I started with –

1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 package quick-rising yeast, (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup hot water, (120-130°F)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

For sauces I decided that a delicious arugula pesto, made from a simple combination of processed arugula and pine nuts, salt and parmegiano for one pie, and another made from similar ingredients but with sun-dried tomatoes as the base, along with a tinge of anchovy paste, and garlic.

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pizza with Prosciutto, Kalamatas and Feta

For the veggie option with the arugula pesto,  topping it with spinach, mushrooms and mozzarella seemed the best way to go. And for the sun-dried tomato pesto some thinly sliced shallots, kalamata olives, prosciutto, and feta.

The dough was easy enough to make. Just tossed all the dry ingredients together, added the oil and water and kneaded until a ball was formed. I didn’t want to over knead so I stopped mixing once it rolled into a nice sized ball. I then split this in half and let one rise for a half hour and the other rise for an hour.

The extra rising time did little to change the consistency or flavor of the crust and it actually was nice and thin, crisped up well and was still chewy. It didn’t rise too much in the given time and could probably use another hour or two to make a lighter, less dense crust. But the flavor was good and the wheat didn’t overpower the other flavors of the toppings, but was noticeable.

If you’re looking for a quick, thin, crisp crust I’d say this is your way to go. I have a marble pizza stone that I place in the oven and then crank it up to 500 degrees. I just toss a little cornmeal on a cutting board, place the rolled out dough on there, dress and slide it onto the stone. It’s easy, quick and makes a pretty good crust. If you prefer a crust with more body, I’d let the dough rise a bit longer, at least another hour or two, but cook it the same way. In the interest of science I made a second batch and am letting it rise for 24 hours and 48 hours respectively.

I’ll let you know how that turns out.

Just a quick word about making pestos, which can be made out of practically anything – kale, parsley, arugula, spinach. Process the greens until they are almost completely paste, but still a little chunky. Then add the minced garlic, if using, and which ever nuts you’ve decided to use – pine nuts, walnuts, pistachios, all make great pestos and work better with some combinations of greens. Once the nuts and garlic are chopped roughly, or fine depending on how smooth or chunky you like your pesto (I prefer mine chunky) then remove to a bowl and mix in cheese – pecorino, parmigiano, aged cheddar or gouda, all make great additions and add wonderful flavors to your pesto.

Be creative. Try a kale, walnut, shallot and gouda pesto on your nest pizza, you’ll love it. Eat well, feel good.

Indian-Style greens

I love my greens. Living in the northwest I better. Luckily our cooler climate creates the best greens around. Both for salad greens and for braising. Two of my favorite braising greens is the aptly named Dinosaur kale, or Lacinato kale, named so for its crinkly long straight leaves and Rainbow chard, with its brightly colored stems and delicious leaves.

Both of these greens get sweeter in the cold and are well suited for being quickly blanched and eaten tender and salad-like and  the long slow braise that makes them velvety and soft, releasing their hidden potential. In this week’s box I had substituted my apples out for more greens, but now realize that I have spinach, Rainbow chard and Lacinato kale all coming in the same box, plus some left over collards in the fridge.

This calls for a braised greens throw down. I had already planned on making some simple dhal, an Indian bean dish that is delicious and spicy and full of great exotic flavors. So this greens dish will compliment that perfectly. A little home made naan and I’ve got a meal. If I had the foresight to make some fresh yogurt I’d be in business – for those of you wondering how to make your own yogurt check out GoodFoodHealth’s blog post next Monday on this probiotic miracle.

One of the best things about braising greens is the time, this dish takes barely 30 minutes from start to finish. Unlike the dhal which needs to cook for about 90 minutes. That means this is a quick dish that can be easily paired with basmati rice, naan or just thick flour tortillas.

Remember, although I used a mixture of Rainbow, Lacinato and spinach, you can easily use any other green to make this dish – broccoli raab, mustard greens, mizuna or arugula will all work.

1 1/4 pound greens, kale and chard
1/2 pound spinach, cleaned
2 T cornmeal
4 garlic cloves
2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
2 T ginger, grated
1 red onion, minced
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 t cumin seeds, crushed
1/2 t coriander seeds, crushed
Salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add greens and wilt for 1 to 2 minutes. Lightly wilt spinach, then drain all greens. Transfer to a food processor, or finely chop until a rough puree. Sprinkle cornmeal over puree and mix to combine. Transfer greens to a bowl.

Finely mince, or puree in food processor, garlic, jalapenos and ginger. Add onions and pulse until finely chopped and mixed. In a large pan, heat oil over medium-high, until just about smoking. Add cumin and coriander, let saute briefly for 30 seconds then add onion mixture and saute until soft, about 5-7 minutes.

Add pureed greens and cook for 4 minutes, letting the two flavors infuse, stirring occasionally. Add 1/4 cup of water if greens look too dry. At this point you can eat them, they might have a little tender crunch and the spinach will be soft, but I like to cook mine on low for another ten minutes so they are very soft. They will lose a little of their color, becoming a soft darker green and not as bright, but the flavor and texture is smooth and well blended. Salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Picture sent in by member Brit Saleeby Porter of the Braised Kale with Pancetta and Apples from Farm Notes

 

To tell you the truth I’ve been so busy this week I haven’t had a moment to really look at this coming week’s box. This last week was greens and more greens, with salads, and sauteed kale, braised chards and gently wilted baby spinach. Sometimes these greens snuck their way into my breakfast and other times they were bold and bright piled high next to some delicious farro.

Either way they have become truly my favorite staple and quick go to fixing for any meal. This coming week’s fare is a little lighter with hints of spring. Those crafty farmers have somehow managed to fight the cold onslaughts that have pelted the West Coast and produce a semblance of spring. Radishes and baby spinach side by side with Rainbow chard and Russett potatoes.

I like these transition seasons. The nostalgia of waning flavors and anticipation of new arrivals is what eating close to the earth is all about. Just as I realize I’m close to eating the last sunchoke of the season, some little purple-headed french breakfast radish pops his head up to say hi. I’m going to ride that edge next week. Make the most of these waning winter flavors and make some shoulder season magic.

By the way – Congratulations to our Full Circle Box Challenge winners! Way to go on creating awesome and delicious recipes out of your Farm-to-Table boxes. We’ll be featuring one of the top recipes here in the weeks to come, I hope you’ll be as excited to try it out as we were to find it! First prize went to Angie Yusuf, for her delicious Supreme Potato Curry with Fruit Chutney, she’ll be receiving a bottle of Sicilian Organic Olive oil in her box next week. Also, a shout out to our two runners-up, Jennifer Peters and Pooravi Thaker, they’ll be getting a couple of choice gifts as well.

Keep your eyes open for our next Box Challenge and in the meantime eat well, be well.

The Cippolini onions in the box were my highlight this week. I should have double my order so I could have done a simple roasted onion with balsamic glaze, one of my favorites, but since I only had the half pound I decided they needed some company. Two other items immediately jumped to the forefront – lovely button-sized Cremini mushrooms and one thick-walled and perfect red pepper.

I think the most used pan in my arsenal is the oldest and the simplest. A heavy cast iron pan I picked up in Alaska with no brand on it – I think it used to have a number stamped in the bottom that is now completely unrecognizable under the layer of char. I also have a flat skillet that was my mother’s first gift to me when I moved out of the house.

I use these pans almost daily. For those of you that haven’t discovered the magic of a well-seasoned cast iron pan I would suggest buying one. They’re cheap and after a few good seasonings they become as non-stick as any teflon pan on the market (just don’t ever wash it with soap, or put it in the dishwasher or you’ll be back to square one).

In our new house we don’t have the luxury of a gas stove – I know. Believe me it pains me daily. On our old gas stove I loved roasting red peppers directly over the flames, getting an even coating of black and a deep roasted flavor. Not to be deterred by this lack of convenience, I turned to my ever handy cast iron pan and dry roasted the pepper there, surrounded by quarters of Cippolini onions all merrily browning away.

Dry roasting vegetables really let’s their true flavors shine. Instead of softening and mellowing under the gentle transfer of heat through oils it directly caramelizes the vegetables itself giving it an intense and satisfying flavor. Combining this method with the steakhouse-style oven roasted mushrooms resulted in one of the best and simplest Cippolini dishes yet, perfect for a quick starter with a few slices of bread and some hard cheese.

1/2 pound Cremini mushrooms
1/2 pound Cippolini onions, peeled and quartered
1 large red pepper
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 T fresh rosemary, minced
1 t fresh thyme, minced
1 T capers
1 1/2 T butter
2 T olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 T fresh parsley, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bring a dry heavy-bottomed pan up to medium-high heat and place whole pepper on pan in the center with onions face down around, spaced evenly. Roast for 2-3 minutes on each side or until evenly browned.

In a medium casserole dish toss mushrooms, garlic, herbs, oil butter and capers. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add roasted onions, toss to coat and place in the oven on a middle rack. Continue roasting the red pepper until evenly charred, then place in a plastic bag or wrap in a dishtowel to sweat for a few minutes.

Remove and place under running cold water, removing charred skin, stem and inner veins. Slice into strips and add to mushroom onion mixture, tossing to coat. Continue roasting until mushrooms are brown and tender, about 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, season to taste and serve.