Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Good Eats Newsletter - April 16, 2008

Farm Update
Pete, Meg, Heather and Jeffrey have been busy sowing, transplanting, tending and harvesting in the greenhouse. Heather even brought her 1 year old daughter, Naomi, down in her backpack and helped transplant about 1500 tomato seedlings! We think that you will really enjoy the results in your share tomorrow. I was able to stroll down to the greenhouse on Thursday and pick some pac choi and salad turnips to use in this week's recipes. What a treat!

Meg has had her camera down at the greenhouse on several occasions and I uploaded some of her photos to Flickr this weekend. Now you can see what we've been up to in the greenhouse. The new portable greenhouse is coming right along, too. Again, thank you for your patience as this project has progressed.

I would also like to take the opportunity this week to introduce you to Jeffrey Ferrell, our new Kitchen Manger. We are very excited about having Jeffrey join us at the farm, as he has a great depth of kitchen knowledge and experience, combined with a sincere desire to work in agriculture. Having graduated from NECI, Jeffrey has spent time in many fine restaurants in New Orleans, Montana, Chicago and Vermont. He also worked at Resource Center - City Farm in Chicago, a sustainable, organic farm in the heart of the city. In addition to helping out in the greenhouse, Jeffrey has been hard at work researching and selecting equipment for the new on-farm kitchen where he will be spending most of his time this summer creating items for the CSA share and farmstand. We'll keep you posted as the kitchen takes shape.

Finally, I wanted to let you know that Heather will be taking the reigns of the newsletter for the next couple of weeks. Thank you Heather! I will be away from the farm for a couple of weeks, returning on May 1st. I do plan to check my email every couple of days, so if you have a question or an issue, please go ahead and send it to Nancy@Petesgreens.com.

Summer Share
As we mentioned a few weeks back, we are already looking ahead to the Summer Share. This share is always our most diverse as produce goes, with a great selection of heirloom and beefsteak tomatoes, mesclun, various greens, onions, carrots, eggplant, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, artichokes, herbs, sweet and hot peppers, summer and winter squash, just to name a few. The summer is also our longest share period at 18 weeks. We'll be offering two types of shares starting June 18th, the Vegetable/Localvore Share, as well as a Vegetable Only Share. You can get a good idea of what's included in each of these shares on the Summer Share page. If you are planning on joining us for the summer, please make yourself a note to send in the sign-up form. We don't cash your checks until right before the share starts.

Tell Your Friends
In the past we have filled our shares and ended up turning away some folks who would have really liked to participate. This summer we have decided to dedicate more resources to Good Eats, enabling us to increase the number of shareholders that we can serve. So, if you know of a family member who has wanted to join in the past, or a friend that you think would really enjoy the share, please let them know. They can visit our Good Eats page for all the information, as well as email me for any information.

This Week's Share Contains
Mesclun; Mix of Green and/or Purple Pac Choi and Tatsoi; European Cucumber; Sweet Salad Turnips; Purple Adirondack Potatoes; Frozen Strawberries; Pete's Eggs; Oyster or Shiitake Mushrooms from Amir Habib; Elmore Roots Elderberry Jam; Butter; and Elmore Mountain Bread.

Bread Ingredients: Honey Oat Bread Organic sifted wheat flour, organic rolled oats, Vermont Honey, sea salt, water, yeast

Storage and Use Tips
Pac Choi - Sometimes known as "bok choi," as well as several other names, (learn more here), these are excellent cooking greens for soups and stir-fries. Refrigerate unwashed choi in a plastic container or in a loosely wrapped plastic bag. Choi is best when used within several days.
Tatsoi - Looking very similar to the pac choi, tatsoi has crinklier leaves. You can see photos of all in the greenhouse gallery. Store and cook as you would pac choi.
Mesclun Mix - Store these greens in your crisper drawer where they will keep for several days. I find they last well if you wrap a small kitchen towel around them in the bag with the greens to soak up any extra moisture plastic bag in the fridge.
Cucumber - Store cukes unwashed, in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer. It's best to keep them away from apples, tomatoes and citrus that can give off ethylene gas, hastening deterioration.
Salad Turnips - These turnips, sweet and delicious, are a distant relative our storage turnips. Requiring no cooking, they make a wonderful snack or salad garnish. The greens can be sauted, stir-fried, or torn and added to a salad. Always remove the greens before storing. The greens and turnips can be kept separately wrapped in plastic in the crisper drawer.
Frozen Strawberries - Keep the berries frozen until ready to use. Let them sit on the counter for about 10 minutes before using a spoon to scrape out their hulls. Don't wait too long or the berries will be too soft to hull.
Mushrooms - Store mushrooms in a paper bag in the refrigerator. Use within a few days for the best taste and texture. Remove the stems from shiitakes before using the caps. The stems can be added to stocks for extra flavor.
Butter- Great for baking and of course on bread with jam!

Localvore 'Lore from Heather
Thanks so much for the great responses to the survey a couple weeks ago. I take all of the comments seriously, while keeping in mind that you are a diverse group. Some of you love an item, such as the bread, and then the next person really doesn't. I understand. If you have a specific comment which you'd like to discuss, please email me directly at heather@petesgreens.com. The survey was anonymous, so I am unable to reply to those responses.

That said, I'm working on getting salt, seaweed and maple syrup for this share. I will not include another pie this share, but likely we'll include one once a share. I also noted that many of you wished we included meat, and some of you had expected more than one chicken in the previous share. It just turned out that we did not have enough chickens raised here at Pete's to include more. For the summer share I do have plans for some local meat from other farms. We'll see if that also turns into a separate meat share at some point.

The Chickens are ready to get outside and forage! Every time I open the coop door lately, a few of them escape. We need a little more snow to melt, and then we'll see about setting up their outdoor accommodations. I am also ready for the water in the coop to be turned back on. While we had snow,I was able to haul water buckets on a sled; Now I'm back to lugging them. Builds muscle and character, right?!

I went up Elmore Mountain, where there's even more snow, to pick up the lovely Elderberry jam. They still have some serious snow pack up there at Elmore Roots Nursery, but they are open for the season. I spoke with owner David about their jam and nursery. We were hoping to get a 100% localvore jam made with honey or maple syrup, but he explained why they use organic sugar instead. They planted the orchards and berries, harvest the fruit, and make the jam. It is clearly a labor of love. He told me that when they tried using honey or maple, it overpowered the fruit flavor. So they strive for a product which highlights the fruit, using the minimum sweetener needed. This batch of Elderberry Jam was just made a few weeks ago from fruit they harvested and froze last summer. Sweet!

This afternoon I'm on my way to Quebec to pick up grains, butter and miso! I'll fill you all in on my adventures next week.

It was so much fun to create these recipes with spring's first bounty. I hope you enjoy cooking this week as much as I have.

Fresh Spring Salad with Buttermilk Dressing
The shredded carrot and beet add lovely color to this salad otherwise composed of all new spring growth. I'm guessing that you may have a carrot or two left from earlier weeks.....Serves 4.

5 cups mesclun
1 medium carrot, shredded
1 medium beet, preferably chioggia, shredded
4-6 salad turnips, sliced
1/2 European cucumber, sliced thin
salt and pepper to taste

Buttermilk Dressing
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 TB sour cream
TB mayonnaise
1/4 tsp dried tarragon, crumbled
tsp minced garlic, mashed to a paste with 1/4 teaspoon salt
tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl, place mesclun, carrot, beet, turnips and cucumber. In a measuring cup or small bowl whisk together all dressing ingredients. Just before serving, pour dressing over salad mixture. Toss. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Thai Green Curry with Potatoes, Mushrooms and Choi
The purple potatoes really brighten up this green curry, but feel free to use yellow if you prefer. Adding the tofu makes a tasty side into a delicious main course perfect for a hectic weekday evening. Serves 4.

2 TB sunflower oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
6 oz oyster or shiitake mushrooms
2 TB Thai green curry paste
1 can coconut milk
2 TB fish sauce
2 TB honey
1/4 tsp salt
1 lb potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed and cut into 1/4" slices
12 oz firm tofu, halved lengthwise, then cut into 1/2" strips (optional)
2 small heads (or 1 large) pac choi, roughly chopped (feel free to mix in some tatsoi)
2 TB limejuice
2 cups cooked rice

Heat oil in a large, deep skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently for 3 minutes. Add mushrooms; continue to stir for another 2 minutes. Add the curry paste, toss with the veggies and cook for about 30 seconds. Stir in coconut milk, fish sauce, honey and salt. Add potatoes and tofu, if using, and toss to coat. Bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in pac choi. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Stir in limejuice. Serve over rice.

Greens with Wild Ginger-Maple Vinaigrette
Here's another salad idea. It just seems a shame to do anything else with these gorgeous super tender greens! I found this recipe in The New American Cooking by Joan Nathan. It has a connection to NECI as well; the recipe is one she got from a wild foods dinner they prepared.

1 cup dressing
3 TBSP Peeled, minced wild ginger, or 2 TBSP store bought
pinch of salt
2 cloves garlic
1 shallot, chopped
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sherry
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
fresh ground pepper
1/4 c maple syrup
1/4 c oil
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil

Mince ginger, salt, garlic and shallots in a food processor. Whiz in the rest of the ingredients, except the oils. Set aside for about an hour, then slowly whisk in the oils until emulsified. Check seasoning to your taste.

6 C mixed salad greens
a few thinly sliced mushrooms
thinly sliced half-moons of salad turnip
1 pound roasted beets, carrots, etc
Toss greens with a bit of dressing; use it sparingly so you don't overpower the delicate greens. Top with mushrooms, turnip and beets and a grinding of fresh black pepper
Now for dessert...

Strawberry Clafouti
This French custard tart has an unusual name, but it's a lovely and simple treat. Serve warm or at room temperature with a bit of whipped cream.

Butter a 10 inch baking dish, like a pie plate. Preheat oven to 375
3/4 c flour
2/3 c maple sugar
3 eggs
1 1/4 c milk
1 tsp vanilla
Whisk together flour and sugar. In another bowl, beat the eggs until foamy, beat in the milk and vanilla. Gradually whisk into the flour and stir until smooth.

2 c frozen strawberries
while just barely thawed, remove hulls from berries, blot with a paper towel, and chop them a bit. Spread evenly in the bottom of the baking dish. Pour on the batter. Bake 35 minutes, until a tester comes clean from the middle.

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