Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Woodland Gardens CSA box ideas

Thoughts on Your Woodland Gardens CSA Box April 26. 2011

Butterhead lettuce:
            Think lighter vinaigrettes, just a touch. Butterhead is such a tender, moist lettuce that you don’t want to further drown it. Loves simple creamy dressings but use those on the base of a plate not directly dressed onto the leaves. Here’s a culinary puzzle that fits together: anchovies, lemons, buttermilk dressing, cucumber, butterhead. Onwards.

Baby beets:
            My kids love beets. They love the greens. Nothing, except the skin of the beet gets composted in my house. I just either bake them on a pile of kosher salt in the oven at 375 or boil them until tender, peel them while their still warm and then slice them and gently bring them back hot with some really good balsamic, unsalted butter and a pinch of chopped thyme. The greens I love to wilt in a large, hot pan with a touch of olive oil and then finish them with a touch of butter and a squeeze of lemon at the very end. Don’t under cook the greens though… they like a thorough wilting or they retain bitter and tannic qualities.
            The stems could be finely chopped, gently blanched to set the color, and then pickled. Sounds odd but they rock as a simple condiment.

Rainbow chard:
            Cut off the stems, blanche and shock. Then reduce a little cream and butter up a little baking dish. Preheat the oven to 375 and then lay in the stems, seasoning with a touch of salt. Layer cream between the layers and then drape some cream over the top. Finish with some freshly toasted breadcrumbs and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until bubbling and nicely toasty on top. Yum.
            For the leaves use the same method for the beet greens. High heat, olive oil and then a little butter to finish. Total cooking time is about four to five minutes.

Baby bok choi
            These little guys are so beautiful. Halve them, lengthwise, and then roast them in a hot oven with a touch of olive oil. Finish with a drizzle of soy, chopped mint and some sesame seeds.

Upland cress
            This member of the cress family is the dainty, tender sibling of watercress. Where watercress has crunch, Upland Cress has a tenderness akin to lamb’s lettuce or mache, with a touch of pepper. Lovely flavor. Great on sandwiches, or finely chopped to finish a broth. I am thinking an open faced tartine, like Peter does at the National… Smoked salmon tartine with upland cress, boiled eggs, capers, lemon vinaigrette, and cucumber…recipe forthcoming.

            Celia is such a skilled grower but no one grows radishes like her. Its her gold medal rop. You know how crappy radishes get hollow in the center and have a hot, dry mouthfeel? Not these. They have sweetness, with a hint of heat and a lovely crunch… always. They are my snack food. If you want to further them into a dish, take some great bread, some great sweet butter and some beautiful salt and make a thinly sliced radish sandwich. Then watch the royal wedding while faking an English accent.

            So early you say? It is early for tomatoes but these are hoop house beauties. Grown in the red clay but they have a nice little shelter to fool them into a summery mood. I further ripen them on the window sill until they are super ripe and then slice them with a super sharp knife and make a Pullman loaf, Duke’s mayo, capers and tomato sandwich. Then I am happier than my normal happy.

            Eat from pint. Should you have some left over, make a buttermilk-strawberry ice cream. Or have some on granola.  These are the closet berries to the dense, wild berries you find in Ontario and Quebec. They are pure sweetness and 100% strawberry goodness.

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