Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Woodland Gardens CSA box May 4th, 2011

Romaine lettuce
Peter Dale has solidified the grilling of romaine as a veritable method for this classic lettuce.  It’s a magical salad he makes over there at the National. You can create a similarly wonderful version with Italian overtones in about five minutes if the grill is hot already. Just quarter the lettuce lengthwise and brush with some olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and then grill for about 1 1/2 minutes per side (there are three sides to a romaine quarter… think it over…) and then place on a large platter. Drizzle with some great olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of chopped capers, basil, chile flake and anchovies over the top.  My six year old will eat this stuff for months on end.

Don’t peel. They are good to go. Pickle them with ginger or shave them into salads. Or eat them from the crisper drawer as a snack. If you feel like cooking them, here’s a sorghum and cider vinegar pan roast!
Preheat the oven to 400
            Slice the carrots in half lengthwise. Melt one tablespoon of  unsalted butter in a large skillet and add the carrots. Cook on medium high heat until lightly caramelized (about five minutes), meaning they should get a little color on the carrots.  Add a tablespoon of vinegar and a teaspoon of sorghum. Toss to coat and then place in the oven for three minutes.  I like my carrots to still have a bite to them, so don’t overcook them. Remove from pan, season with salt and finish with some chopped mint or parsley.

Hakurei turnips
Golf ball sized candy. DO NOT PEEL. That would be a waste of time and effort. The skin on these beauties is a thin veil as opposed to a waxed pelt. Here’s a simple recipe for turnips with their greens…
            Take the greens off and clean the greens and the turnips in cold water. Spin the greens in you salad spinner. Quarter the turnips and chope the greens. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium pot (one that has a lid) and add the turnips , one bay leaf and some fresh thyme, one sprig will suffice.  Cook over medium heat for five minutes and then add the greens, 1/2 cup of chicken stock and a pinch of salt. Cover and let cook for three minutes. Remove lid and stir well. Finish with a little squeeze of lemon, a grind of black pepper and a splash of cider vinegar.

Broccoli raab
They love high heat in a big cast iron pan. Great with olive oil and lemon zest and maybe some bacon.

Mustard greens
These are the most tender mustards ever. They love butter and a little chicken stock  but don’t cook them very long. These are not the leathery mustards of yore.

Pair with some of those tomatoes to make a quick salsa fresca for a nice poached salmon or halibut! Tis the season for both of those fish.

It’s one of those weeks for me in interviews. The question that they always ask is the macabre, “What would you eat for your last supper?” I am always confused by this question. Do I sleep afterwards? If I don’t have to wake up, it would probably be three courses of bourbon, but if sustenance is needed then I am perplexed… What season is it?
            The most recent interview took place in Charleston at a chef’s round table for Garden & Gun magazine. I stumbled through the question with a long answer about strawberry pie but the last two chefs had answers that were perfect, astute and beautifully simple. They answered that they wanted simple white bread with amazingly ripe thinly sliced tomatoes with salt and Duke’s mayo. I quickly changed my answer I my head, because that got me pretty darned hungry.
            When it comes to tomatoes, Celia grows the best. The very best. I know its early in the season still but these little beauties have nothing to be ashamed of. They shine with sweetness and are redolent with the hallmarks of the upcoming summer.
So slice them thin, buy some good bread from a local baker, salt a couple of minutes before you stack them high and then slather with some mayo, Duke’s will work wonders. 

Eat from pint container until finished. Or make some ice cream or a pie!

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