Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Good Eats Newsletter - March 25, 2009

This Week's Localvore Share Contains
A Mix of Nicola, Adirondack Red & Adirondack Purple Potatoes; Celeriac; Orange Storage Carrots; Yellow Storage Onions; Valentine Radishes; Baby Spinach*; Shoot and Mesclun Mix*; Red Hen Whole-Wheat Bread; Champlain Orchards Empire Apples; 2 lb. Jar of Champlain Valley Apiaries Honey; and...

1 Piece: Ben Nevis Cheese -or- Blue Brebis (Adams Court Only) from Bonnieview Farm

1 Container: Squash Puree -or- Tomato Puree with Red Pepper (Sweet Clover Only)
*Spinach will be in the same bag as the mesclun mix, but will not be mixed.

Storage and Use Tips
Squash Puree/Tomato Puree - We are coming to the last of our frozen bounty from last year's growing season. In order to cover everyone today, we ended up with a mix of squash and tomato purees. The squash puree is a mix from our fields, as well as High Mowing. If you see any teeny green flecks, that is just some acorn squash skin that squeezed through the food mill. It's entirely edible and shouldn't harm the consistency. The tomato puree with red pepper will go to Sweet Clover share members and would make an excellent pasta sauce, sprinkled with grated Bonnieview Ben Nevis cheese. Try sauteing some minced onion and garlic, adding the puree with some dried basil, marjoram, salt, pepper, red wine and honey, and then simmer for about an hour. Both of these should go right in the freezer, if you don't plan to cook with them in the next few days. Thaw in the refrigerator over night.
Valentine Radishes - These Asian radishes are also known as Beauty Heart or Watermelon. They have a distinctive bright pink interior with a white, green and pink skin. Sweet, with just a hint of a radish bite, valentines are great in salads, slaw, or as crudités. You can also add to soups, or sauté thinly sliced or shredded radish in butter with a pinch of salt. Cook lightly without browning. A stunning bright pink addition to any meal! Store valentine radishes loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in your crisper drawer.
Empire Apples - Empire apples, a cross between Macintosh and red delicious, were bred at the Agricultural Experiment Station at Cornell University and introduced to the world in 1966. Cornell is also responsible for developing Cortland, Jonagold, Macoun and Jonamac varieties. With sweet and tart flavor and a crunchy texture, Empires are an all around apple. Eat them out of hand, or use them to make a salad, sauce, cake or crisp. Keep them in a bag in your fridge, away from other fruits and veggies.

Pete's Musings
It's not the best part about being a farmer, but it's close -- buying equipment, tractors specifically. It's especially fun when it's a necessary purchase, as I feel less guilty about how much I enjoy it. Our largest tractor is a John Deere 2955. It's 85 h.p. and a real strong pulling machine. Unfortunately, I bought it from someone who freely admitted that he had not maintained it well and we have seen the results of that the past couple years. A tractor that big is expensive to fix and after a couple major repairs we decided it was time it hit the road.

Of course, I put this off until a few weeks ago, even though the 2955 is currently broken down and we need a large tractor by April 1st. Sometimes it's better to have less time for a major purchase, as it causes you to focus your energies and not endlessly consider options. I'd noticed in the past a tractor dealer online in Alabama who seemed to have consistently lower prices than everyone else. He had a couple of good options, so I flew down for a day at the end of last week.

Wow, different culture in Alabama. It's all church, football, and fried catfish (and really nice, inexpensive, green tractors). In fact, the tractors are so nice and so cheap that we are buying two. This will help us with several field preparation projects, allowing more to be done in a smaller amount of time in the spring, so there are fewer late nights. Also, both tractors have cabs. Steve is particularly happy about this, as he is the one who has had to endure hours of plowing snow in the cold and wind the past couple of winters. I had a great time hanging out with the tractor dealers for the day and learned that the secret to their low pricing is volume. They sell 400 tractors per year all over the country and aim to profit just a grand or two per tractor.

The tractors will be arriving this weekend or early next week, just in time for our first field work. The best part is they are taking our 2955 in trade and paying us very fairly for it, even considering it's problems. -Pete

Last Chance: Free T-Shirt When You Sign-Up for a Summer Share by April 1st
In addition to ensuring that you will receive a weekly selection of fresh, organic produce through out the summer, there's one more good reason to sign up for our Summer Share now: This is the last week to receive a free Pete's Greens t-shirt when you enroll! We have put a lot of planning into the vegetable mix for the upcoming share period and are very excited about the expected selection in each and every summer bag. Lots of center of the plate veggies, like broccoli, kale, chard, beans, peas, head lettuce, summer squash and tomatoes will make frequent appearances, along with onions, garlic and herbs for great flavor combinations. Check out our Vegetable Availability Chart for a more complete selection.

This summer we will be offering three different shares:
Vegetable/Localvore - $748 (avg. $44 a week)
Vegetable Only - $493 (avg. $29 a week)
Meat Share - $199 (avg. $50 a month)
Visit the Summer Share page to find out more or to sign-up.

Looking for Somebody to Split a Summer Share With?
As the seasons change, sometimes so do share partners. If your current partner is going on vacation for the summer, or perhaps you've decided to supplement the CSA share with your own garden and would like someone to split with during the growing season, we can help hook you up. We maintain a Members Seeking page on our website to help those looking for a share partner. If you don't have a neighbor, coworker, family member or friend interested in sharing in the summer bounty, check out the Members Seeking page. We have several people currently look for a summer partner. Or, if you don't see your pick-up site listed, let me know and I would be happy to post your information.

Potential Loss of State Food Safety Inspectors
Rep. Carolyn Partridge, D-Windham, chairwoman of the House Agriculture Committee, wrote an op-ed in the Brattleboro Reformer about the proposed cuts at the Agency of Agriculture. She makes a well-reasoned argument about why these cuts would be bad news for slaughterhouses, dairy farmers and consumers. I urge everyone to read her article, and if you feel so inclined, to let your opinions be known to Governor Douglas (802 828.3333) and the Agency of Agriculture (802 828.2430). Thanks!

Localvore Lore
We are beefing up the localvore portion of the share starting this week in order to augment our dwindling vegetable supplies from last season. For the next few weeks, expect to receive a share that is heavy on localvore items, with a decreased emphasis on roots. In this timeframe, you will also start to see more freshly harvested items from our greenhouse.

All of the localvore items in the share this week go very nicely together, whether you are simply serving the Bonnieview cheese with freshly sliced bread and sliced radishes, or making a green salad with whole-wheat croutons, apples, radishes, cheese and a honey vinaigrette.

Champlain Valley Apiaries honey is always a hit whenever we include it in the share, so we've taken to slipping it one once every period. They have been producing high quality honey since 1931. Gathered by bees from the blossoms of clover and alfalfa, the honey is light in color with a delicious and delicate flavor. We like that they provide their honey in its raw, or crystallized, form. The honey has not been heated or filtered, thus retaining its original flavor, vitamins and other nutrients. According to their website:
"Raw honey contains small amounts of a wide array of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants. The vitamins found in honey may include (depending on floral variety) niacin, riboflavin and pantothenic acid; minerals present include calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. Just as the color and flavor of honey varies by floral source, so does the vitamin, mineral, antioxidant and amino acid content.....

.....Honey has a phytochemical profile which includes polyphenols that can act as antioxidants. Antioxidants perform the role of eliminating free radicals, which are reactive compounds in the body. Free radicals are created through the normal process of metabolism and contribute to many serious diseases. Researchers at the University of Illinois, led by Nicki J. Engeseth, Ph.D. and May R. Berenbaum, Ph.D., are studying the antioxidant capacity of common honey varieties."
You can scoop, measure and spread the honey in its crystallized form. If you need it in liquid form, just gently bring the temperature up in warm water.

On to sheep's milk cheese....I contacted Neil Urie at Bonnieview Farm several weeks ago to arrange for their Mossend Blue cheese in our share. This is a hard time of the year to find many sheep's milk cheeses from farmers who raise their sheep naturally. You see, most sheep will have their lambs in the spring and produce milk for cheese for some number of months after this. In the late winter and spring, the sheep are no longer milking and cheeses can be hard to come by.

At our request, Neil went into their cellars to see what he could provide to the share. Although he didn't have the Mossend Blue, he was quite sure that he had Ben Nevis for all. To provide the freshest cuts, Neil waited until this week to divide the wheel into wedges. Much to his surprise a couple of the Ben Nevis wheels had gone south on him. To make up for this shortage, Neil has provided the balance of the cheese in Blue Brebis.

This is a new variety Neil was experimenting with at the end of the season. The Blue Brebis recipe produces a much creamier cheese than the Mossend Blue. Adams Court will receive the Blue Brebis. Note, it does not have a name on the label. Here are Neil's descriptions of the 2 cheeses:
  • Ben Nevis is a sweet nutty cheese with a natural rind. The recipe comes from the Pyrenees in France.
  • Blue Brebis is a creamy blue cheese with a barny undertone. The recipe comes from Spain.
Whatever you get, we're sure you'll enjoy them!

We are delighted to have Red Hen Bread in the share again this week. Randy George, owner and Baker in Chief, has graciously provided some background on your loaves:
Last week, while I was contemplating what we should make for our CSA bread offering this time around, I happened to take home one of our whole wheat loaves. This bread is always one of my favorites, but last week, we began using a new lot of flour and I found myself particularly excited with this loaf of bread-- especially the flavor, which I found to have some subtle flavors that I hadn't detected in the past.

Among other things, I was catching a hint of cinnamon (even though this bread is made with simply whole wheat flour, water and salt). I was reminded of how my favorite breads-- the ones I return to again and again-- have a minimum of ingredients. As long as the grain is of the highest quality and we handle it properly, I find these simple breads to be the most satisfying and the most versatile in terms of the different types of foods they can be used with.

Amazingly, later in the week, I received an e-mail from the mill (La Meaunerie Milanaise in Quebec) saying that they have found that some of the flour that they are currently milling has a distinct aroma of cinnamon. They perceived this as an "off" flavor and did some investigation into its source. They determined that the wheat that they have been milling was grown in a field that was intercropped with a late-blooming clover (this fixes nitrogen and suppresses weeds). The timing was such that the clover was in bloom when the wheat was harvested. It appears that, although the combines harvest only the wheat berries, the aroma of the blooming clover permeated the wheat. They have asked their farmers to plant earlier-blooming varieties of clover in the future.

I quickly wrote back to them to say that I had detected the flavor, but didn't think it was at all objectionable. In fact, I quite liked it! Knowing that it may be linked to the "terroir" of the field in Quebec makes it even more alluring to me. Email me and let me know what you are tasting in your whole wheat bread this week so that I can pass it along to the millers!
Last but not least, we have the Empire apples from Champlain Orchards. Bill Suhr relayed that these apples have come out of a freshly opened locker, so should be crisp and delicious.

Enjoy!

Recipes
Cheese Souffle with Celeriac, Radish, Apple and Walnut Salad
I found this recipe on the Food Network site. I think it perfectly combines many of this week's ingredients. The recipe is from Mark Gregory, One Aldwych Hotel, London, England. Please note that the site warns the recipe, in these proportions, has not been tested, and I did not have time to test it either. But, at worst, you'll end up with a fallen souffle, but still delicious meal. Serves 4-6.

Souffle base:
1 tablespoon soft butter
1 tablespoon flour
6 ounces milk
9 egg yolks
2 ounces Ben Nevis or blue cheese, grated
1 teaspoon mild mustard
Salt and pepper
8 ounces egg whites
1 teaspoon corn starch
Pinch salt

Salad:
2 cups celeriac, finely sliced into sticks
1/2 cup apple, finely sliced into sticks
1/2 cup valentine radish, finely sliced into sticks
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, plus extra for garnish
1/2 teaspoon mild mustard
1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons + 1 tsp mayonnaise

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. To make the souffle base, mix together the flour, butter, milk, egg yolks, cheese, mustard, salt, and pepper, and mix until smooth and set aside. This maybe be prepared a day ahead of time.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites, corn starch, and salt until stiff but fluffy. Add a small amount of the egg whites to the souffle base and blend. Add the remaining egg whites to the mixture and fold gently. Gently spoon in the mixture into 6 buttered ramekins and place in the oven. Bake souffles for approximately 10 minutes until they have risen and are golden. Once you remove them from the oven, allow to rest for 1 minute before serving.

To prepare the salad, mix all of the ingredients together. To serve, place the salad on each plate on the side and remove the souffle from the ramekins and invert 1 onto each plate. Top the souffle with chopped walnuts.

Celery Root and Potato Puree
As I finish up the newsletter, I am sitting in the Waitsfield library waiting for my car to be finished at the mechanics. While perusing the cookbooks, I came across Alice Water's (relatively) new cookbook, The Art of Simple Food. She highly recommends the combination of celery root (celeriac) and potatoes. Who am I to argue with Alice Waters? Serves 4.

1 lb. potatoes
5 TB butter, divided
1 medium celery root, about 3/4 lb., peeled, halved, then sliced thin
salt and pepper to taste
milk, optional for thinning

Peel and cut potatoes into large pieces. Add to a medium pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil. Cook until soft, about 15-20 minutes. Drain and pass the potatoes through a ricer or food mill and return to the pot. Stir in 2 TB of the butter. While the potatoes cook, melt the rest of the butter in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium low heat. Add the celeriac and salt. Cover tightly and cook until soft, about 12 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Lower heat if the celeriac begins to brown. Pass through a food mill, or puree in a blender. Stir celeriac puree into the potatoes. Add milk if the puree is too thick. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.

Sweet and Sour Chicken Thighs with Carrots
Adapted from Epicurious.com. I think that this recipe would also be very good with tofu, though admittedly, not cooked as long as the chicken thighs. Serves 4-6.

8 small chicken thighs with skin and bone (2 1/2 to 2 3/4 lb total), trimmed of excess fat
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 teaspoons paprika
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 large onion, halved lengthwise, then cut lengthwise into1/4-inch-wide strips
1 lb carrots (6 medium), cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 cup water
2 TB apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon dried, crumbled parsley
1 tablespoon dried, crumbled cilantro

Pat chicken dry. Stir together 1 1/2 teaspoons salt with paprika, cinnamon, and pepper and rub onto chicken. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown chicken in 2 batches, turning over once, about 10 minutes per batch. Transfer chicken as browned to a plate.

Discard all but 3 tablespoons fat from skillet, then add onion and carrots. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened and beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, 1 minute.

Return chicken, skin sides up, to skillet, nestling it into vegetables. Stir together water, vinegar, honey, parsley and cilantro until blended and add to skillet, then cook over moderately low heat, covered, until chicken is cooked through and carrots are tender, 25 to 30 minutes. If necessary, skim fat from sauce, then add salt to taste.

Honey, Apple Crisp
Incredibly easy to throw together, this crisp makes a lovely weeknight treat. Serve it with a dollop of last week's yogurt or a spoonful of whipped cream. Serves 6-8.

1.5 lbs apples, peeled, cored and sliced (about 6 cups)
1/2 cup + 2TB honey, divided, or to taste
1 tsp vanilla
pinch salt
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
5 TB cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 375F. Butter an 8" square pan and set aside. Combine the apples, honey, vanilla and salt. Spread into the prepared pan. Whisk together the flour, oats, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir in the honey, and then cut in the butter until a coarse meal forms. Sprinkle over fruit topping. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the juices are bubbling, apples are tender and the top is golden brown. Serve warm.

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