Winter CSA Box 8 – He lied to me! :(

My farmer sends out an e-mail a few days before we pick up, giving us an idea of what he is planning to put in our boxes.  Last weekend, he said there would be Romanesque Cauliflower.

Romanesque Cauliflower

We had this for the first time last summer and were absolutely fascinated.  In fact, my daughter remembered that this was the subject of  my very first post.  🙂

The first time, I wasn’t very creative and we made a pretty lame tuna dish with it.

But, this time was going to be different.  I had roasted squash gnocci I had prepared over the weekend.  We had oven roasted bistro chicken leftovers.   I immediately planned an elegant braised cauliflower dish to serve over the gnocci.  It was going to be a visually spectacular dish with the exotic cauliflower and homemade pasta that would create a lovely photo op for a post about another super CSA-based dining adventure. (Optimistic much?)

Eagerly, I arrived to pick up my produce.  The label on my box said I had either bok choy or romanesque cauliflower.  Huh?

But.  we. have. a. plan.

For. cauliflower.

Then I looked in the box, and I had NEITHER bok choy nor romanesque cauliflower.  😦

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Here is what we did get: mixed salad greens, garlic, onions, beets (with greens), six lovely pink lady apples, horseradish (okay, this could be fun!), and a big chunk of squash.

For something different, I also received a jar of seafood seasoning.

Gourmet Spice Blend from a Local Chef

Gourmet Spice Blend from a Local Chef

I had to go to the grocery store to buy regular old boring cauliflower.  Harumph!

The final dish was yummy and attractive. IMG_1180

But imagine how cool it would have looked with green gremlin houses mixed in!

As for what I did get:

I have a new roast recipe I am trying this weekend and we will probably have the beets and greens with that.

As I type this,   the squash is roasting for squish to make crescent rolls.  Again.  🙂

There is thawed pie crust in the refrigerator, so perhaps a pie is in order, even though they aren’t ugly apples this time.

I’ve never used fresh horseradish before, so I am looking forward to doing some research to see how I can use that.  The kids aren’t excited and my husband has his doubts, but I’m sure we can come up with something my 15 year old will describe as “exotic”.  😉

Check out what others are doing with their CSA bounty at InherChucks’ What’s in the Box Party.

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Part II of This Perfect Meal – Lemon Glazed Carrots

I love those perfect looking little CSA carrots that absolutely have to be cooked and prepared whole.  Usually I roast them, but I found this recipe in  Vegetable Love, and wanted to try something new.  Boy am I glad I did!  I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, but you probably expected that… 😉

These were lemon-y, tangy and very elegant, but also easy to prepare.  If you are looking to impress with a new twist on boring old carrots, this is the way to go!

Lemon Glazed Carrots

  • 2 lbs. carrots with greens

I suggest the carrots be nor more than 5-6 inches long.  Trim the greens to 1/2 inch and cleaned.

  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar (or less)
  • 2 T. salt

Bring 3 quarts water, sugar and salt to a boil. in a large sauce pan.  Add the carrots and cook for 8-9 minutes, until the carrots are tender.  Drain the carrots.

  • 2 T. unsalted butter
  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/3 c. fresh lemon juice

Melt the butter and second 1/3 c. of sugar in a large saute pan.  Add the lemon juice and combine.  Add carrots and toss to coat, then cook over high heat for 5 minutes, until sauce becomes a syrupy glaze.

Roast Beef with Lentil Salad and Lemon Glazed Carrots

Roast Beef with Lentil Salad and Lemon Glazed Carrots

There were no leftover carrots.

One of our favorite roasts, this has a red wine reduction sauce that was good drizzled over the lentil salad as well.

I was particularly proud at how many different types of my CSA produce this meal used; lentils, carrots, onions, thyme.  And no hidden greens.  🙂

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Part I of This Perfect Meal – Warm Lentil Salad

On a Saturday, I had time to cook a roast and rounded the meal out with lots of my CSA bounty.  My husband said not only was this a very good dinner, but he had rarely had a meal that went together as well as this one.  Awwww.  That is a man who knows how to keep his wife happy!  🙂

Roast Beef with Lentil Salad and Lemon Glazed Carrots

Roast Beef with Lentil Salad and Lemon Glazed Carrots

I apologize for the poor quality of that picture.  We (I) had forgotten to take  a picture and I stole an untouched dinner plate from under someone’s fork to get the shot.  Guerilla conditions in blogging. This is dangerous work!

Warm Lentil Salad

  • 1 lb. dry lentils
  • 7 c. water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 t. thyme

Place lentils, thyme and bay leaf in water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer covered for 20-25 minutes until the lentils are tender, bu not mushy.  Drain lentils and remove bay leaf.

  • 1 T. Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/4 c. red wine vinegar
  • 1 c. onions, finely chopped
  • 4 T. flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/4 t. kosher salt
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste

While lentils are simmering, combine Dijon mustard through pepper in a large bowl and whisk to blend well.

After draining, add lentils to dressing and toss gently to coat lentils with dressing.

For lunch during the week, you could add meat to make it more filling or re-heat it and top with a dab of greek yogurt.  This was a nice staple to have on hand through out the week and was easy to make if cooking on a weeknight.

Coming up next, those lemon-y carrots!

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Lemon Lavender Ice Cream – it might be something good…

This is a pure csamom creation.  I wanted to cook something with the lavender and thought it might nicely complement lemon ice cream.  However, I had production issues in the process (ie:  I didn’t pay attention to what I was doing), so it turned out differently from what I had hoped.  I’m not even going to call this a recipe yet, because I think it needs some fine tuning.

I started with a Honey Lavender Ice Cream recipe I found at Epicurious.com.  It had received good reviews, but some reviewers found the honey overwhelming.  I had a bottle of muscat canelli ( a sweet desert wine) that I used in place of the honey.

Supporting local winemakers too!

Supporting local winemakers too!

Following the recipe, I combined the heavy cream, half-and-half, 2/3 c wine, and 2 T. dried lavender blossoms.  This was supposed to steep for 30 minutes.

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But I had other things going on and forgot about it.  The cream mixture steeped for far longer than 30 minutes.  After straining the lavender creams through a fine mesh strainer to remove the lavender blossoms, I continued following the recipe, beating the eggs, adding some warm cream to the eggs, then adding that back into the warming creams.

I do like custard based ice creams because I generally find them creamier and more satisfying.

After adding the eggs to the custard mixture, I also added 1/3 c. lemon zest, another 1/3 c of wine (the custard wasn’t sweet at all  before this) and 1/3 c. fresh lemon juice.  At this stage, I heat until the mixture coats the back of a spoon.  But I got distracted again, and the mixture was boiling when I came back to it.  😦

Never, ever giving up, I cooled this mixture overnight, and the next day strained it through the fine mesh strainer once more  and mixed in the ice cream maker.

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 The kids did not care for it at all.  My daughter thought the lavender flavor was too strong (as Anne has mentioned in her ideas) and my son was sure this was not food.  I agree the lavender is too strong (probably because it steeped too long) and the texture is a little off (probably curdled a bit  because of the boiling).  But, the ice cream has a lovely yellow color and a tangy lemon curd-like flavor that my husband liked. This is very strong and something you would eat in small scoops.

I have more wine and lavender, and I will try this again.

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Quick Weekday dinner with Winter Squash Jam

I went back and read Farmer Al’s explanation about the squash chunks.  I thought he said they were galeaux d’eysines (Deleted the darn e-mail already.  Harumph!), but my chunks don’t really look like the photos I found of that type of squash online.

My squash chunks

My squash chunks

While searching for recipes to use that type of squash, I found a completely different recipe that used pumpkin to make what it called a pumpkin jam. The picture had cooked bacon on top of it, which fits perfectly with my blatant pandering mode lately, so I thought we should try it.  🙂 I have lost my original inspirational recipe, and all I have left are my notes and photos.  See what happens when I clean up after myself.! 😦

Since this is a weekday after work, I did not have time to roast the chunks for 40+ minutes.  The recipe called for boiling small cubes of squash for faster preparation, so that is what I would do.    After cutting off the outer shell, I sliced the squash into 1/2″ thick slices and cut those into 1/2 ” cubes.

Winter Squash Jam

  • 2 lb. squash, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 2-3 T. unsalted butter
  • 3 T unrefined sugar
  • 1 T. molasses
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1″ slice of crystallized ginger
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon

IMG_1139Add all ingredients to a large sauce pan and  simmer for 30 minutes (not a lot faster than roasting, but less work after they were tender).  When the squash is tender,  mash it right in the pot.

While that simmered, I chopped and cooked 3 slices of bacon until they were crispy.

I served the “jam” as a side dish topped with bacon, next to sliced ham (leftovers) and salad (easy).

IMG_1142My fifteen year old son looked at it and said, with some apparent concern,

“Mom, you are supposed to throw out the cat puke, not serve it to us for dinner.”

To which the 12 year old replied enthusiastically, “Eat it!  It IS good!”

I like having a new take on squash squish.  The molasses and sugar surprised the kids  and everyone really did like it, in spite of that unsettling image presented at the beginning of the meal.  It was great as leftovers too.

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Sage Asiago Popovers

We love popovers at our house, and have an old, perfectly cured, cast iron popover pan to bake them in.  I have made sage popovers before and the extra flavor is exciting, so this time I decided to add a little asiago cheese to see what that would do.

My daughter was disapproving – you do not mess with popovers or they don’t pop she scolded.  I haven’t had popovers not pop in a very long time, so I was pretty sure if I didn’t add too much cheese, it would be okay.

I have also baked popovers in muffin pans with some success.  They are still good, even if they don’t fully pop.  But the popover pan is more reliable.

Popovers

Preheat oven to 375°.

  • 1 c. low fat milk
  • 2 large eggs

Combine milk and eggs in a medium bowl and let stand for 1/2 hour.

Popover batter

Popover batter

  • 1 c. all purpose flour
  • 1/4 t. kosher salt
  • 1/2 t. sage
  • 1 T. finely shredded asiago cheese
  • 1 T. butter, melted

Combine flour, salt, sage and cheese in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Gradually add flour mixture to milk/egg mixture.  Stir in melted butter.

  • 1 t. vegetable oil

Coat the popover pan with cooking spray, then brush vegetable oil evenly among the popover cups.  Heat the pan in the oven for at least 5 minutes.

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Divide batter evenly between popover cups and bake at 375° for 40 minutes.  They should be golden brown.

Serve immediately.

The best part of popovers is poking a hole in the bottom and putting butter in the hole to melt and dribble over your fingers as you eat them.  If they are for breakfast, you can add honey in that hole as well.  🙂  No health food here today!

I served these with a crock pot stew that cleaned up a number of odds and ends from the refrigerator.  We had quite a conversation clarifying that dinner was a stew made of leftovers and not leftover stew.   Aren’t we grammatical?!  🙂

I’ll be honest, these popovers did not fully pop.  I think the cheese was perhaps a little too heavy.

Sorta Popped Popovers

Sorta Popped Popovers

Perfect Popover

Perfect Popover

Still, they tasted wonderful and we didn’t have any left overs.  They were moister and a little more spongy than normal.  If you leave out the cheese, they should pop perfectly.  Although, I will keep experimenting. I’ll let you know if I can get it to work with the cheese. 🙂

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Winter CSA Box #7 – All The Good Stuff :)

The box today was filled with lots of lovely treats and two ugly chunks of squash my daughter told me I should throw out – immediately.  I reminded her than any poor, ugly squash can become rolls and thus, become instantly loveable.

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This week we received: fresh lavender, baby carrots, potatoes, pears,  spinach, the ugly squash chunks,  fresh rosemary and very full bag of lentils.

The kids were relieved to see the spinach, instead of mixed weeds again.  🙂  Particularly since the very first day I used it in lasagna rollups.  And yes, I am pandering again.  I am also thinking I might try Kirsten’s spinach pizza crust from Farm Fresh Feasts.  Pizza? More pandering, I know.

I have a legumes cookbook, so this weekend I am going to explore it for something new to create with the lentils.  A dish with squash and curry sounds very seasonally appropriate.

Oh!  Speaking of curry, my sister and I had a girls’ weekend in Seattle with some friends last weekend and they let me go into the Penzey’s store.  THAT was a very bad idea.  $93 later, I had a bag loaded with all the spices I could ever dream of, including a large bag of Indian curry.  I am excited to explore all my new spices!  Happy Birthday to me! (next week).

I am debating what to do with the pears.  A dessert would be a nice Valentine treat.  Maybe with the cranberries I have left?  Sounds like an opportunity for creativity.

Potatoes and carrots never go to waste at our house.

I usually save the lavender as a dried flower, but would like to come up with ideas to cook with it or infuse it into a dish.  Have any of you cooked with lavender and what did you try?

No parsley, just sage, rosemary and thyme, and oregano.

No parsley, just sage, rosemary and thyme, and oregano.

We have amassed a nice stash of herbs the past few boxes, which I store on one plate in the corner of the kitchen.  I love walking over and picking off some sage leaves, or crumbling  oregano or thyme directly into a dish.  The rosemary lives with them now.

I do believe this is my favorite Winter CSA box so far.  🙂

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