Thursday, December 22, 2011
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Monday, December 12, 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
- One whole chicken cut into pieces, or 6-8 of your favorite chicken chunks; I prefer thighs for this recipe (and they are affordable)
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- 1 large pepper
- 1 large onion, or a bunch of green onions
- 2-3 summer squash
- 3 cloves garlic
- 4-6 tomatoes, or a pint of cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
- 1/2 bunch summer savory or oregano leaves
- fresh basil leaves
Heat 1/2 inch of cheap oil in a 6 Qt casserole*.
While the oil is heating... Cut the vegetables into chunks they will have to hold up to 30 minutes or more of cooking, and this dish is best if they are allowed to maintain their integrity. Dice the garlic.
Put about a table spoon of salt and a little less pepper in a plastic bag. Skin the chicken and put it it in the bag and sort of shake/shimmy/roll it around until the pieces are evenly covered.Carefully place the pieces batch by batch in the cassserole and fry for about 5 minutes per side or until brown.Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
Drain the oil and scrape the snizzlins from the bottom but do not discard the snizzlins. (snizzlins are what is left in the pan after something has sizzled). Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic to the same pan and saute over medium heat until the onion is just tender, about 5 minutes. Remember you are going to cook the whole Matilda for about 25 minutes, so do not over cook the vegetables. Add the squash, and frankly anything else you would care to get rid of in the fridge: celery, fennel, etc. Stear away from starchy things as this dish is usually served over pasta. Season with salt and pepper. Blanch and peel the tomatoes and dice them into course chunks. If using cherry or grapes tomatoes, just leave the skin on and half them. Add the tomatoes and herbs and simmer for a few minutes, until things start looking saucy. Return the chicken pieces to the pan and turn them to coat in the sauce.
Here is when you put your pasta water on. The sauce will cook for 25-30 minutes and give you just enough time to heat the water and cook and drain the pasta.
Bring the sauce to a simmer. Continue simmering over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through, about 30 minutes for breast pieces, and 20 minutes for thighs etc. I strongly recommend the use of a good instant read thermometer for gauging doneness of chicken.
Using tongs, plate the pasta. With the same tongs place a piece of chicken on top of each plate of pasta.If necessary to thicken the sauce, turn up the heat for a minute or two. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, then sprinkle with sliced fresh basil and parmigiano and serve.
*Remember casseroles? Mine is pictured above. They are indispensable for bachelor cooking as you can often cook the entire meal in this one pot, or whatever it is. They can be used on the cook top, then baked. Oh, and I did not break the bank on this thing. I shopped outlets and purchased a "Lodge" brand and have been thoroughly delighted. If you do not have one just fry the chicken and sautee the vegetables in a cast pan, then transfer to your best heavy bottom pot.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
What’s in the Box:
Cucumbers-green & blonde
Purple or Yellow wax beans
French crisp lettuce
Family shares also include:
Bok choy, green onions; more potatoes & artichokes
After years of disappointment growing artichokes as perennials and losing up to 70% each winter, and after the great Choke mistake of 2009 when our farm manager planted our chokes one foot apart rather than the usual three, we have started growing artichokes as an annual crop. We plant them two feet apart in the row with rows five feet apart. By early August there is a sea of chokes, and by the end of September there is a jungle.
A jungle as in; can you spot my daughter in this picture?
By planting them as an annual we avoid the stress of trying to baby them over winter and we still get a healthy crop every year. The chokes are one of my favorite crops. They provide an opportunity for me to feel wealthy in that I can pick and choose only the smallest and most tender chokes, then trim them wastefully down to the most tender leaves and heart and eat a plateful if I so desire. My daughter Natalina will commonly eat five of these baby chokes in a sitting.
I grew up eating things like artichokes and dandelion and a host of other bitter greens and wacky dried fish and other traditional Italian fare. My father would forage wild onions and mushrooms and had a garden that produced an endless variety of sharp greens that I would turn my nose up at at the dinner table. His pat response, "you don't know what good is". I remember having dinner on the porch of our house when I was young. We would be seated at 5pm every evening at the white painted table on the screened porch. Just before my mother would bring the dinner from the kitchen, she would turn to my father and ask, "Father, would you make the dressing?", and place a bottle of vinegar, and a bottle of olive oil on the table. My father mixed the dressing at the table using just those two things and the salt and pepper from the table.
I eventually launched a successful campaign to liberate my self from the tyranny of my father's palate. I petitioned for iceberg lettuce and a bottle of Kraft Catalina dressing. I do not recall how long it took but I do remember a special tupperware container in the fridge with my lettuce and I can still picture the bottle of dressing. I mention this because, as Heidi has mentioned before, I take this out on our CSA customers occasionally by including dandelion and radicchio. And one more thing; one of my favorite responses to the question of "where can you get a 'real' traditional Italian meal?" is "What do you mean? Dried fish and song birds?"
I guess that sounds a little smart Alecky, but look at the true Italian fare. Meat is a small portion, Italian cattle are not what we in America picture as healthy animals. Bitter greens almost always accompany a meal. Song birds are still a guilty pleasure in most of Europe. My friend Eugenio once said in conversation: " Ahh, Americans...They like the cheesa to moova." What he meant was that Americans wanted enough cheese on top of their meal that it jiggled. My father always favored many small portions over the tremendous servings we have grown accustomed to. One of his most frequent critiques of family dinners was that there was simply too much food. With the exception of pasta, when it came to pasta he always told me to take a large first helping because seconds never tasted as good. But I digress.
I am always surprised by how many people have not eaten them before. I am even more surprised by the fact that anyone ever ate one in the first place. They are a huge flower bud of a plant that closely resembles a thistle and do not look particularly appetizing.
The easiest way to fix them is to simply trim them of any damaged leaves and place them in a double boiler or on a steam rack. Have the water at a rolling boil before adding the chokes. Steam them until the outer leaves can be easily pulled off using a set of tongs. Try not to over cook them as they will get mushy. To eat them; melt some butter with just a hint of garlic; like one small minced clove. When the choke is cool enough to handle start on the outside and remove one leaf at a time, dip the butt of the leaf in the melted butter, stick the leaf in your mouth and slide it out scraping the leaf with your teeth. Wow that sounds weird. There is a bit of meat at the base of leaf that will come off and, well I cannot really describe it. Fresh chokes typically will not have a developed "choke" (the fuzz at the bottom of the bud), and once you have eaten a few layers of leaves you may well be able to pop the remainder in you mouth like Liz Taylor. The heart and base of the stem are an outrageous treat. I always prefer chokes before dinner, I believe there is something in them that stimulates the taste buds and makes whatever comes next taste even better.
In contrast to the usual bachelor recipe based on ease and simplicity I want to recommend one of my favorite dishes using chokes. I will describe the ideal but cannot promise that you will receive the chokes that will work best, or even that these chokes are available to anyone but a farmer or the savvy market shopper.
Take enough baby chokes of equal size (ideally about the size of a ping pong ball) to fit tightly on end in a small cast pan. Trim them hard down to tender blanched leaves. Trim the tops of all spines and sharp edges (you are going to put the whole thing in your mouth). Steam until they are just tender-do not over cook. Place a small cast pan on medium heat with a smattering of olive oil and enough rock salt to have a crumb about every 1/2 inch. Take the chokes one by one and mash them into place in the pan; butts up and fit nice and tight. Force them enough that they open slightly. Sear them in the oil for just a few minutes until they brown slightly. Place a plate of equal size to the pan face down on the pan as you would a lid. Place your fingers on the plate to hold it in place and flip the whole thing over so the chokes are arranged right side up on the plate. Remove the pan, sprinkle sparingly with a good quality hard cheese and serve immediately.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
What’s in the Box:
Green leaf lettuce
Sugar snap peas
Gladiolus or sunflowers
Family shares also include:
More snap peas, basil, and beans
So here goes. This is a great way to use everything left in the fridge (within reason) It's super easy and scores major points for taste and presentation.
Pasta Primavera: a few things you should know
Water and Salt: Always add a big pinch of salt to the pasta water and do not skimp on the amount of water used to cook pasta. I use about a gallon for one pound and probably a big tablespoon of salt. Heat the water to a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook UNCOVERED. Use tongs to stir it occasionally and after about 7 minutes start checking it by pulling a strand out and cutting it. In cross section you will see a white core indicating that it is not quite done, as this core vanishes your pasta is ready. Al dente pasta will have just a hint of white in the center. For this dish, because you are going to cook the pasta a bit more later you will want a noticeable but barely so white core.
Sautee: Vegetables while the pasta cooks. Have them all prepped and ready to go before you drop the pasta in the water. If you are sharp and focused you can do this while the water heats. I have used just about every vegetable imaginable, but this weeks box has some of my favorites.
String the snap peas and leave them whole. Slice the fennel thin. Slice the Raddichio thin. Snap the stems from the beans and cut into bite size pieces.
You can use anything that sounds good... anything. I have used beets, rutabaga, turnip, you name it. The traditional Italian vegetables are always a hit.
Mince the Summer Savory and hold onto it till the end.
Sautee the vegetables in olive oil in a large cast pan while the pasta is cooking. When they are tender turn off the heat.
Scoop: And here is the secret... scoop a mug full of the starchy pasta water off before draining the pasta. Pour this into the pan of vegetables and simmer to create a light sauce.
Toss: Add the pasta to the pan of vegetables and toss as you would a salad using the tongs over medium heat for a few minutes. Add more pasta water if necessary.
Stir: In some butter or olive oil and a generous handful of grated sharp cheese; quality counts on the cheese.
Stir: In the minced Savory. Basil also works well.
Toss again and you are ready for the plate. When you serve this dish grab a healthy tongfull, hold it over the plate and lower it slowly as you turn the plate and the tongs in opposite directions. This will leave a pyramid of pasta Primavera. Serve with grated cheese.
One pot, one pan, and a cutting board and it is so good it is easy to get someone to wash them.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
I warmed the grill at the same time that I placed the zucchini in a large stainless bowl, sprinkled it with salt and pepper and drenched it in olive oil. Then I tossed the zucchini. Everything went on the grill. First the peas and green onions on high. They cooked as I carefully arranged the zucchini perpendicular to the grate on high heat as well. When the zuccs were done on one side as indicated by their softening and a noticeable grill mark, I flipped them carefully and reorganized them to accommodate a slab of local beef. Still cooking with high heat, I seared the beef on both sides flipped the peas and onions and turned the zuccs to low. When the zucchini was done I checked the onions and peas and moved everything around while the meat finished.
Dinner is served... One pot, one colander and some foil. Cook time under an hour. Hachacha.
Friday, July 22, 2011
July 19, 2011
What’s in the Box:
Green Leaf lettuce
Family shares also include:
You are probably not going to believe this...
Whole Baked Cauliflower:
Soak the head of cauliflower for 15 minutes or so in a sink of salt water. Warm water will dissolve the salt. The reason you do this is to get any little crawly thing that may be hiding in there to release its hold. We farm organically and though we do sometimes apply organic insect control materials we do not do so routinely and that means that there may be another living creature that beat you to the cauliflower. A salt water bath is an easy way to make sure they are gone before you cook.
Preheat oven to about 400.
After a relaxing salt water soak, trim the cauliflower and remove the center of the stem. That is to say, core the cauliflower carefully with a paring knife by turning it upside down and removing a cone shaped wedge from the center.
Slather the entire head with butter..use your hands to get butter in all the nooks and crannies. Powder with a good quality bread crumb (easy to make your own by cubing and baking any day old bread you might have and baking at 300 until crisp then grinding in a blender). Place cauli in a greased (more butter) baking dish and cover loosely with foil. Place in oven. It will take an hour or more to cook. At about 40 minutes remove the foil so the head will brown. Keep an eye on this thing, you do not want it to get away from you. You may have to reduce the heat if it is browning way faster than it is softening. It is done when you can easily pierce it with a fork. This is an easy recipe to make in the toaster oven if it will accommodate the cauliflower. Makes a real splash if served whole and sliced at the table.
It's that simple.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Bibb or Green Leaf
Family shares also include:
Red Oak Leaf lettuce
The Chiogga beets are an Italian heirloom and if you slice them into rounds, they have a bull's eye pattern...very pretty; too pretty to overlook. There is really no quick way to prep beets, but I can try to make them easier and more approachable. Put a few inches of water in a double boiler, or in a pot with a steamer rack. Trim the greens to with in an inch of the beet, but no closer, I like to leave a bit more. KEEP THE GREENS. Heat the water to a boil and place the beets on the rack or in the steamer of the double boiler. They take a while...at least twenty minutes, probably more. They are done when they can be easily pierced with a fork. In the mean time wash the greens and trim off the stems. After about ten minutes of the beets cooking on a low simmer, heat a heavy pan to medium heat, add a little butter, and toss the dripping wet beet greens in. Sautee them unti they are just tender. By then the beets should be done. Remove them and dunk them immediately into a sink of cold water. The skin will slip right off, then they can be transferred to a cutting board and carefully sliced to show off the bullseye. Serve them on a bed of the sauteed greens and a drizzle of Balsamic vinegar. A smattering of crumbled Feta is a really nice touch.
If you have never grilled green onions you simply must. Just trim the tops and toss the onions in a bowl until they are drenched with olive oil and a shake of salt and pepper. Grill them indirectly over low heat until tender or wrap them in foil and place them at the back of the barbecue until they are limp and smell good.
The kohlrabi falls into the salted crisp things category from my earlier post, or you can use them in place of water chestnuts. I have tried every conceivable way to eat these and far prefer them raw, sliced thin, and lightly salted.