Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Woodland Gardens CSA BOX 051711

Whatcha got in the box?

Let’s make a different tomato salad. I want you to peel the tomatoes by cutting a shallow (like 1/8 of an inch shallow) X on the bottom of the tomato, then carefully coring the top of the tomato, then plunging the tomatoes into boiling, salted water for one minute. Remove to a waiting pool of ice water, and then peel away the skins, leaving a beautiful specimen of peeled tomato before you. Cut into eighths, like a pie and arrange nicely in a shallow bowl. Sprinkle with sea salt and olive oil and a dash of cider vinegar. Let the cut tomatoes sit for about an hour. They will exude juice but that’s good.
            Go outside and pick some basil. If you are still buying basil from Kroger, you should be ashamed. Expensive and tasteless at grocery stores, basil is so easy to grow. Trust me. I have no green thumb but the herb selection outside on the back porch is pretty awesome.
            slather some nice sliced bread with olive oil and then toast it under the broiler. When toasted rub it with a cut piece of fresh garlic. Tear the bread up with your hands. If you are a wolverine, use your talons.
            Litter some torn basil over the cut tomatoes.  Dot with toasted bread chunks. Add some shaved parmesan and toss gently. Eat.

The wonderful berry season continues. Straw now, blue starting up and rasp to finish. I am still really addicted to the old standard of macerated strawberries with some black pepper and Cointreau over really good vanilla bean ice cream. Leave off the Cointreau for the children.

This is why I started this weekly report. I kept getting that timeless question, “What do I do with kohlrabi?”
Well, this little alien cousin of the cabbage likes to be pickled, shaved and eaten raw, cooked into a puree, sautéed as a side, made into a curry… countless ideas. The greens are great sauteed.
But today let’s make a quick pickle with it.
Peel the kohlrabi and cut in half from pole to pole. Then cut thin half moon shapes with a chef’s knife, about 1/4 inch thick. Place in a non-reactive bowl, sprinkle with a tablespoon of kosher salt and let sit for an hour. Rinse the kohlrabi slices well to get rid of salt, pat dry and then place them back in the cleaned non-reactive bowl.

Bring 1 cup rice vinegar, 1 cup water, 1 small dry hot chile, 1 teaspoon sugar and one teaspoon salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Pour hot pickling liquid over them and let it sit in the fridge for two hours to a week.
Eat on salads, or on a pickle plate.  It’s kind of a sunumono style pickle.

Lacinato Kale:
Peter (the National) has this warm lacinato kale salad on the menu right now that rocks. Go and eat that at the National.
            For home use it would be wonderful in a very Italian white bean soup with pork sausage and a ton of chopped up kale to finish. A great drizzle of olive oil and a big slice of bread. Yum.

I grew up on liverwurst and sliced cucumber sandwiches. Wonderful to this day. Or pickle them like the kohlrabi.

A famous Athenian recently confided in me that he was really into fennel. This made me feel less isolated, for I thought I was alone in treating fennel like a minor deity. I love the stuff.  All I need are tomatoes, leeks and fennel and my desert island supplies list is pretty much done. I will have to be stranded in the Mediterranean. Maybe Elba?
            Let’s pan braise! Cut the fennel top away, leaving the bulb. The tops can be feathered into salads or such uses. Cut the bulb in quarters, cut away the core, and then slice the fennel in wedges, each quarter yielding about three slices. Get a large pot on the stove and melt some butter with a touch of olive oil. Add the fennel in a large single layer and cook over medium heat until the house smells like an Absinthe bar, and you are quoting Rimbaud. Pour in a 1/2 cup of dry vermouth and cook until the vermouth goes away. Then add a cup of chicken stock and cook until its reduced by 3/4s, about ten minutes. Finish with some chopped fennel tops and eat with fish or chicken. Chicken and salmon love fennel.

Make a salad. These lettuces are stunning. Make a good vinaigrette. Make some croutons. We’ve been over this.

Rose Gold Potatoes:
Boil them until tender. Then drain and add 3 tablespoons of butter. Cover and cook for five minutes over low heat. Season well and add some buttermilk and then mash them coarsely with a fork. Yum.
            I also like to cook them on the grill in foil with some olive oil, lemon and oregano.

These are the most beautiful carrots around so if they make past your counter and into the fridge I would be surprised. My kids gobble them down. But you could shave them into a salad, roast them whole, puree them into baby food or use them to finish a nice roast chicken, which is how they will be eaten tonight chez Acheson. you can use the greens in salad. They are usually thrown out or composted but I like em!

Let’s make a six ingredient carrot soup. Water and salt don’t count as ingredients.
2 teaspoons butter
2 shallots, minced
3 cups diced carrot (1/2 inch dice)
1 cup peeled potato, cubed to 1/2 inch dice
1 tablespoon minced ginger
6 cups water
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt

Melt butter, add shallot. Cook over medium heat for five minutes. Add carrot and potato. Cook for ten minutes over medium-low heat to release as much sugar from the carrots as possible. Add ginger and the water. Cook until carrots and potato are very tender. Remove from heat and puree. Add the yogurt as it’s pureeing. Season with salt and pass through a strainer to ensure a great texture.

Until next time,

Hugh Acheson

the National
Gosford Wine
Empire State South

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