Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Good Easts Newsletter - May 6, 2009

This Week's Localvore Share Contains
1 bunch of Sweet Basil; 1 bag Large Leaf Spinach; budding Purple and Green Pac Choi; 2 lbs Spring Dug Parsnips; 3 lbs Adirondack Potatoes; 1 European Greenhouse Cucumber; Head Lettuce; Vt Butter and Cheese Bonnie Bouche cheese; Red Hen Maize Bread and ....

...either 1 bunch of either Ruby Steaks Mustard or Mizuna.

Storage and Use Tips
Sweet Basil - This marvelous herb is a member of the mint family. It is a staple in Mediterranean cooking as well as Thai, Vietnamese, and Laotian. The herb is highly aromatic, or put another way, the oils in basil are highly volatile. Thus, it is best to add the herb near the end of the cooking process, so it will retain its maximum essence and flavor. Basil should be kept refrigerated wrapped in damp paper towels and in a plastic bag or kept stems down in a glass of water with plastic over the leaves for about a week with regular water changing.

In addition to being just plain delicious, basil has numerous health benefits. The essential oils have proven to be an effective antibiotic for a number of antibiotic resistant bacteria strains. The oils in basil also have some amount of anti-inflammatory ability which is being researched at present.

Mustard Greens - Related to kale, cabbage, and collard greens, mustard greens are the peppery leafy greens of the mustard plant. This week everyone will receive either Mizuna or Ruby Steaks Mustard. Mizuna is a Japanese mustard green with dandelion-like jagged edge green leaves with a mild, sweet earthy flavor. It has long been culitaved in Japan, but most likely originated in China. Mizuna makes an excellent salad green, and is frequently found in Mesclun. Ruby Streaks Mustard has a delicate texture and mild, sweet yet mildly pungent mustard flavor. Both greens are tender enough to liven up salads, and stout enough to stand on their own in steamed or stir-fried dishes.

VT Butter and Cheese Co Bonnie Bouche - this cheese came to us in bulk and we had to re-package it in small bags. It is not nearly as pretty as it could be! The shelf life on this cheese will be shorter with the extra handling. Which means you will just have to eat it right up!

Pete's Musings
Meg, Tim and I and Tom Stearns from High Mowing seeds are headed to DC on Thursday for Patrick Leahy's Taste of Vermont event. Apparently it's a big deal that all the Senators and Reps attend because in addition to lovely early spring produce from Pete's Greens, seeds from High Mowing, cheese from Jasper Hill, and tofu from Vermont Soy there are liberal quantities of Vermont beer and ice cream. Then on Friday we will be treated to a private tour of the Capitol. We are still trying to get a tour of Michelle Obama's new White House veggie garden thinking that perhaps we could provide a bit of advice but those plans are not yet confirmed. We're looking forward to a couple days away after an intense month and with another intense month ahead of us. It seems that so many things have to go into the ground at the same time this time of year but we are gaining. Best ~ Pete

Localvore Lore

Great stuff in the share today with many options for wonderful meals this week. We have a traditional goat cheese that will be delicious on its own, as an appetizer, on salads, on pasta dishes, on braised or wilted greens, and in some really scrumptious dishes. We have several greens versatile enough to either headline a salad or add zest to one, yet sturdy enough to be sauteed or braised! We have the first basil of the season (how lucky are we to have basil in May?). We have bread and jam that will be marvelous together (especially if you haven't polished off last week's cream cheese!). And then we have potatoes and parsnips to add substance to your week. The possibilities are endless.

Vermont Butter and Cheese Co has provided us with a handcrafted goat cheese made in the traditional French style. French for “tasty morsel” Bonne Bouche is soft and smooth with a fresh cream & mildly goaty flavor which intensifies with age. Tasty indeed! Remove from the fridge 1 hour before serving and allow to warm to room temperature for best flavor. This cheese would be especially nice with sweet and earthy flavors. VT Butter and Cheese recommends serving with fig paste and candied nuts or drizzled with honey!

Elmore Roots
is a nursery in Wolcott that grows and sells nursery stock of pretty much any kind of fruit you can grow in Vermont. They also make fabulous jams from the fruit grown on their farm. Today we have their Plumberry Jam, made with certified organic berries and plums from their farm, sweetened with organic cane juice.

Randy George at Red Hen Bakery has been refining the corn/wheat bread recipe. "This week we are making the maize bread with Nitty Gritty Grains' corn again. We are excited about this bread's potential, but we feel that the ones you received last month did not entirely live up to that potential. So we have made some refinements to our formula to improve it, and we want to give this another whirl. As always, email us with feedback!"


Wilted Asian Greens
Adapted from a recipe in the July 2003 issue of Gourmet magazine. You could also substitute Pak Choi in this recipe and it would be great, but you will need to steam the chopped stems a couple minutes and then the leaves til tender. The spinach and Mizuna or Ruby Streaks do not need to be cooked before adding the hot dressing.

1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
8 cups chopped Spinach, tough stems removed (3 oz)
8 cups mizuna or Ruby Streaks mustard (3 oz)

Heat vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, ginger, and sesame oil in a small saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved (do not let boil). Pour hot dressing over greens in a large bowl and toss well. Serve immediately.

Potatoes, Greens and Goat Cheese Quesadillas
Adapted from the March 2008 issue of Bon Appetite.

1 1/3 cups 1/2-inch cubed Adirondack Potatoes (about 3 medium)
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/3 cups (packed) coarsely grated Monterey Jack or Cheddar (5 to 6 ounces)
1 1/3 cups of tomatillo salsa (or your favorite)
4 2/3 cups coarsely chopped stemmed mustard greens/mizuna (from 1 bunch), divided
4 8-inch-diameter flour tortillas
3 ounces chilled fresh goat cheese, coarsely crumbled
Olive oil

Place baking sheet in oven and preheat to 275°F. Steam potatoes until tender, about 8 minutes. Place in large bowl; sprinkle with salt, pepper, and chili powder. Toss to coat. Cool potatoes 15 minutes. Mix in Jack or Cheddar cheese. Meanwhile, blend salsa and 2/3 cup (packed) greens in mini processor until greens are finely chopped.

Arrange tortillas on work surface. Divide remaining greens between bottom half of each. Top greens with potato mixture, then goat cheese and 2 tablespoons salsa mixture for each. Fold plain tortilla halves over filling, pressing to compact. Brush with oil.

Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place 2 quesadillas, oiled side down, in skillet. Brush tops with oil. Cook until quesadillas are brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to sheet in oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining 2 quesadillas.
Cut each quesadilla into 3 or 4 wedges. Serve with remaining salsa.

Penne with Wilted Greens, Goat Cheese and Fresh Basil
This is more of a suggestion than a recipe. Substitution opportunities are endless!

1 lb penne pasta (or any shape pasta)
Olive oil
3-6 Cloves garlic, minced
3-8 cups of greens, tough stems removed, greens chopped (spinach, mustard, mizuna, Pac Choi)
1/2 to 1 cup of tomato sauce
Goat cheese
Fresh chopped basil

Put a large pot of salted water on and bring to boil for the pasta. While water is heating, mince the garlic, chop the greens and any other vegetables you have on hand that you'd like to throw in (see options below). Once the veggies are all chopped and prepared and water is boiling, add pasta and cook to al dente (8-12 mins depending on pasta type).

While the pasta is cooking, put a large saute pan over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add 2-3 TB of olive oil and the garlic to the pan and stir to coat and cook for a minute or two. Add the tomato sauce (or fresh tomatos or sun dried tomatoes). Add other optional veggies in order of necessary cooking time and cook until not quite tender. Add the greens and cover pan until greens are just wilted at which time other veggies will now be tender. Remove cover. Drain the pasta, and in a large bowl or in the original pasta pot mix together the pasta and veggies saute and the fresh chopped basil. Serve on plates with crumbled goat cheese and the optional toasted nuts on top.

Optional Ingredients:
2-3 TB Toasted Pine Nuts, Walnuts, Pecans, or Almonds. Toast on a dry skillet (cast iron ideal) on the stovetop over medium heat until they become fragrant. Don't let them burn. Remove from heat to a bowl.

Sundried tomatoes - use just 2-4 as too many can overpower a dish. Soak in hoat water if they are very dry, and once softened, chop/mince them.

Other fresh veggies - 1-2 fresh tomatoes, broccoli, aparagus etc. Add these to the saute as necessary to cook til just tender

Red Beet Risotto with Mustard Greens and Goat Cheese
From the February 2007 issue of Bon Appetite. If you like the sounds of this recipe but hate to use up all of your goat cheese, it would also be delicious with shaved Parmesan substituted for the goat cheese.

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 (2 1/2- to 3-inch-diameter) beets, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups chopped white onion
1 cup Arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
3 cups low-salt chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups chopped mustard greens/mizuna
4 ounce chilled soft fresh goat cheese, coarsely crumbled

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add beets and onion. Cover; cook until onion is soft, about 8 minutes. Mix in rice. Add broth and vinegar. Increase heat; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered until rice and beets are just tender and risotto is creamy, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon into shallow bowls. Sprinkle with greens and cheese.

Simple Mustard Greens Recipe
1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 pound mustard greens, washed and torn into large pieces
2 to 3 Tbsp chicken broth or vegetable broth (vegetarian option)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon dark sesame oil

In a large sauté pan, sauté onions in olive oil over medium heat until the onions begin to brown and caramelize, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook a minute more, until fragrant. Add the mustard greens and broth and cook until the mustard greens are just barely wilted. Toss with sesame oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Cucumber, Goat Cheese, Sun Dried Tomato Appetizer
These are tasty little cucumber morsels made by blending goat cheese with sundrieds and garlic and then squeezing the spread out onto individual cucumber slices.

4 oz goat cheese softened (in microwave for 10-15 seconds)
1/2 TB minced garlic
2-3 sundried tomatoes soaked in 1-2 TB olive oil, and then minced very fine or pureed
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cucumber - peeled and sliced into rounds

Mix the above together. You should have a fairly smooth spread. Put the spread into a plastic bag and cut off a small corner of the bag. Squeeze the spread onto the cucumber slices. For added zest, garnish with finely chopped basil! Yum.

For an even easier dish, simply dice up peeled and seeded cucumbers, add minced garlic, chopped sundried tomatoes soaked in a couple tablespoons of olive oil, crumble the goat cheese on top and some minced basil and dig in.

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