Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Good Eats Newsletter - August 12, 2009

This Week's Vegetable Share Contains
Mesclun Greens; 2 lbs Red Norland Potatoes; 1 Bunch Bright Lights or Ruby Red Chard; 1 large or 2 small Japanese or Black Bell Eggplant; 1 Bunch Curly Parsley; 1 lb Broccoli or Cauliflower; 2 lbs Walla Walla Onions; 1 lb Cabbage (Arrowhead, Green or Red Savoy); 1 lb Fennel Bulbs; 1 Slicing Cucumber plus...

1 Bunch of Thai, Spicy Bush or Purple Basil

The fennel in the share today is BIG. Due to all the rain it has bolted slightly and is elongated and large but Meg assures us that it is "completely yummy and good all over".

Localvore Share Members Also Receive

Red Hen Oat Flax Bread
Vermont Soy Artisan Tofu
Les Aliments Massawippi Japanese Miso
Pa Pa Doodles Farm Eggs

Storage and Use Tips
Please remember that you can visit Pete's Blogspot for past Storage and Use Tips. For example I just wrote about fennel in July for those of you who missed that. You can enter a search term in the search box and any newsletter that contained that vegetable will come up. In the interim before I get the new veggie section on the website, this should be a helpful feature.

Pete's Musings
Late blight-the name has haunted the dreams of northeast vegetable growers for the past 6 weeks. The scourge that caused the Irish potato famine and that in most years exists in the northeast but at a relatively minor level is widespread this year. Supposedly widely dispersed on tomato plants that were sent to a few big box stores, it has thrived in this summer's cool, moist conditions. It forms nasty looking brown lesions on both potatoes and tomatoes and can level a whole crop within days. Worse yet, it can infect the potatoes while still in the earth, causing them to store poorly and rot prematurely. We have been justifiably concerned with our 5 acres of potatoes that we sell every day of the year. We don't have markets that will allow us to sell our crop quickly if we fear it will store poorly - and you our eaters, depend on us for potatoes all year.
We discovered our first late blight yesterday in a portion of the potato field. It was a small area and I ripped out all the blighted plants and burned them. We are spraying the field with organically approved Nu-Cop, a copper based fungicide that does not stop late blight but can help to slow it. We expect hot, dry weather later this week that will also slow the disease. I think we will be ok. Apparently the tubers are only infected if you allow the disease to infect the stems and fully destroy the plant. We plan to mow the field or otherwise destroy the plants before that occurs. The goal now is to keep the potatoes blight free enough to keep growing for another week or two as they are adding 700 lbs. of potato weight every day in hot August weather. We have not yet seen the disease in our tomato greenhouses and hope like heck it stays out. Send your happy blight free thoughts our way! ~Pete





















There was a good article about late blight this week in the New York Times highlighting how the increased interest in home gardening has influenced the spread of late blight. Click here to read the article.

If you have a garden, please check it for signs of blight. It happens fast - not here one day and then lesions the next that quickly spread. If your plants are affected please take the necessary steps so that even more spores are not spread. I just checked my garden in Waterbury and so far it looks OK although one potato plant was suspect. I'll check later today and again tomorrow. For more info on late blight please check the UVM extension service website.


Summer Share Still Open
The summer share remains open. We are prorating remaining weeks so if you know anyone who wants to join us, please direct them to the website or to amy@petesgreens.com.
Summer Share
Meat Share
Localvore Lore
Red Hen Bakery baked for us this week. As usual they have pushed the boundaries to bring us something new....

This is a naturally leavened bread with some cracked flax, oats, and rye. All the grains come from Quebec. This is a Good Eats original, so you can’t find it in stores. Because we are once again using Good Eats customers as our volunteer R & D staff, this is the first time we’ve made a bread exactly like this. Consequently, when we mixed the dough for this bread, we found that we had made a mathematical error and came up 20 loaves short, so some of you will be getting our pain au levain instead. Thanks for your understanding and, as always, we welcome all feedback. ~Randy

It will be hard to resist tearing into a loaf tomorrow morning when I fill my car with fresh loaves and start the northward Good Eats bread deliveries.

We have Pa Pa Doodles eggs again this week. Deb got home from the farm the other evening and heard strange unidentifiable noises in her house. She went looking for the cause and found a hen softly crooning from the landing at the top of her stairs to the second floor and another pecking about downstairs. It seems that during the day in her absence the hens had figured out how to use the dog/cat door on her house!

I am eager to share with you all the miso in today's share. This is beautiful organic traditionally made non pasteurized miso made by Gilbert and Suzanne of Les Aliments Massawippi. Just about a month ago I drove the truck up to Quebec to pick up some of our localvore products and I had the pleasure of meeting this spirited couple and learning lots about miso and tamari. Suzanne started making miso nearly 10 years ago.
She adheres to the ancient method of making miso using nothing but organic soy beans, cereal grains like rice and barley, water and salt. It's a cool process. She starts by rinsing the soy and then soaking and boiling them until they reach the right texture. Meanwhile she cleans and then steams the grains until they reach the optimal moisture level and then they are allowed to cool. At this point she innoculates the grains with both a fungal culture (Aspergillus oryzae) and lactobacilli. The grains are left to ferment for 45 hours at a specific temperature until each grain is coated with a white mycelium and yields what is known as koji. At this point the koji covered grain is combined with the soy beans, salt and water and the whole batch is crushed and prepared for a second fermentation. The process to this point takes three days. Now the miso goes into an anaerobic environment for the second fermentation which can last from one week up to two or three years depending on the type of miso that is being made. The miso in the share today is Suzanne's Japanese miso which she developed specifically for Good Eats. It is made with soybeans, oats, seaweed, sea salt, and herbs.

Miso is a fermented product which enhances the effect of the lactic intestinal flora and as such it is easy on the body. The enzymes it contains further aids digestion. Commercial packaged miso has been pasteurized and is no longer a living food so always choose unpasteurized miso.

Keep this miso in your fridge and it will be good for many months or even years. You can add it to soups for more flavor, or use it as a base for making sauces, or add it to prepared foods. It is a delicious and nutritious way to flavor foods. A bowl of miso soup a day goes a long way toward a healthful diet.

We also have Vermont Soy's Artisan Tofu today. I wanted to add some this week because I love miso soup with cubes of fresh tofu added. There's also a nice recipe for marinated tofu below using miso in the marinade. Vermont Soy makes their tofu from non GMO and organic soybeans grown in Vermont. They have been working in conjunction with High Mowing Seeds on seed trials to better equip their farmers with varieties that can be grown more and more successfully here in our climate. The work that these companies, the farmers, and the UVM extension service is doing is so important for VT agriculture.

Recipes


Baba Ghanoush
From Williams Sonoma's Small Plates by Joanne Wier 1998. Serves 6.
1 large eggplant
2-3 TB cup tahini, plus more as needed
3 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 TB fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed
1 pinch ground cumin
salt, to taste
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup brine-cured black olives, such as kalamata

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill (or follow alt directions below). Preheat an oven to 375°F. Prick the eggplant with a fork in several places and place on the grill rack 4 to 5 inches from the fire. Grill, turning frequently, until the skin blackens and blisters and the flesh just begins to feel soft, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the eggplant to a baking sheet and bake until very soft, 15 to 20 minutes.Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, and peel off and discard the skin.

Place the eggplant flesh in a bowl. Using a fork, mash the eggplant to a paste. Add 2 TB tahini, the garlic, the 2 TB lemon juice and the cumin and mix well. Season with salt, then taste and add more tahini and/or lemon juice, as needed until you like it. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and spread with the back of a spoon to form a shallow well. Drizzle the olive oil over the top and sprinkle with the parsley. Place the olives around the sides.
Serve at room temperature.

If you are grilling in the next day or so follow the directions for grilling the eggplant for best flavor. Otherwise, bake your eggplant in the oven at 450 degrees F for 10-15 minutes until skin is browned and eggplant is soft. Then turn oven down to 375 and bake until very soft, 15 to 20 minutes more.

Grilled Red Potato and Fennel Salad
Great dish if you are grilling outside. Makes 6 servings.

2 pounds small red potatoes, quartered
1 large fennel bulb trimmed, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup Nicoise olives, pitted, drained and chopped
1/3 cup chopped green onions

Prepare a hot fire in a grill. Oil the grill rack and place the rack directly over the fire. In a large bowl, toss together the quartered potatoes, sliced fennel bulbs, and 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Season the mixture lightly with salt and pepper. Place the vegetables on the grill rack. (Because of the olive oil, there may be flare-ups, so close the grill lid quickly. After a minute or so, open the lid.) Grill the vegetables, turning often, untill they are blistered, slightly blackened, and tender, about 15 minutes.

Transfer the vegetables to a bowl and toss with the remaining olive oil, red wine vinegar, Nicoise olives, and green onions. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Swiss Chard and Fennel Gratin
Adapted from Alice Waters and The Wednesday Chef. Serves 4.

2 bunches of chard (18 ounces)
1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
4 teaspoons melted butter
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup diced onion (spring onions are wonderful)
1 fennel bulb, diced (fronds removed)
Salt
2 teaspoons flour
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup whole milk
A few strokes of freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the middle.

Rinse the chard well, and remove stems. Set aside half of the stems and place the rest in a freezer bag for use in another recipe. Slice the stems into small thin pieces. Place a large pot filled with salted water over high heat and bring it to a boil. Add the sliced stems and cook them for 2 minutes. Next add the chard leaves and boil until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain the leaves and stems and allow them to cool.

While chard is cooling, spread out the breadcrumbs on a foil-lined baking sheet. Pour 4 teaspoons of melted butter on top of the bread crumbs, and toss until they are well coated. Place baking sheet in the oven and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until the bread crumbs are lightly toasted. Remove sheet from oven, and leave the oven turned on.

Once the chard is cool, gently squeeze out any excess water from the leaves. Transfer leaves to a cutting board and coarsely chop.

Place a large saucepan over medium heat, and melt 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter in the pan. Add diced onion and fennel to the pan. Cook stirring frequently until onion and fennel become translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir the chard into the pan along with salt to taste. Cook for 3 minutes. Sprinkle the flour on top of the mixture, and stir well to prevent lumps. Add cream, milk, and nutmeg to the pan and continue to cook stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. You want to have a small amount of liquid on the bottom of the pan, not enough to coat the whole bottom, but enough to keep the chard from lumping together in a thick mass. If necessary add more milk. Taste the mixture and add more salt if desired.

Butter a 9x9 baking dish. Transfer chard mixture into the dish and spread it out evenly. Cut remaining butter into bits and spread it across the top of the chard. Sprinkle breadcrumbs and Parmigiano-Reggiano evenly on top of the chard. Place dish in the oven and bake until the gratin appears golden and bubbly, about 20-30 minutes.

Buttered Cabbage
I mentioned to someone the other day that I loved, loved cabbage cooked the simplest way imaginable... simmered in a saute pan with water until soft, and then butter and a splash of cider vinegar and black pepper tossed on at the end. The way my mother often served it. I looked on line today for affirmation and realized for the first time its Irish roots matched my own. If you have never tried cabbage this very simple way, do so. It's delicious. From the cookbook Irish Traditional Cooking by Darina Allen.
Yield 6 to 8 servings

1 lb fresh Savoy (or other) cabbage
2 to 4 tablespoons butter
salt and freshly ground pepper
an extra knob of butter


Remove all the tough outer leaves from the cabbage. Cut the cabbage into four, remove the stalk and then cut each quarter into fine shreds, working across the grain. Put 2 or 3 tablespoons of water into a wide saucepan, together with 1 TB butter and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, add the cabbage and toss over a high heat, then cover the saucepan and cook for a few minutes. Toss again and add some salt, freshly ground pepper and more butter to your liking. Serve immediately.

Optional - try a splash of good cider vinegar before serving. I like the little sparkle.

Simplest Miso Soup
Actually, the simplest miso would skip the green onions and parsley and that would be great too.

1 tsp miso
1 cup hot water
1 pinch green onion
1 pinch fresh parsley

Boil the water. Dilute the miso in a bit of the hot water, then fill the cup with the remaining water. Add the green onion and parsley.

Miso Soup Options
Miso soup can have many, many variations. Here's an example - the soup steaming in a bowl beside me I was inspired to make after writing about miso above.

2 cups water
1 small onion halved and sliced thinly
4 small carrots or one large sliced thin
2 handfuls of baby spinach
1 handful of asian style noodles
a small amount of cubed firm tofu
a small piece of ginger minced

Put the carrots, onions, and ginger in the cooking pot with the water and bring to a boil. Then simmer for 10 mins, adding the noodles in the last few minutes along with the tofu. Scoop 1/3 cup of water from the cooking pot and add a TB of miso and stir to dilute. Then add the miso and the handfuls of spinach back to the pot and allow the spinach to wilt. Allow your soup to cool for a few minutes (if you can) before enjoying.

Other ideas:
Toasted sesame seeds as garnish
green onions and scallions are a natural
other greens like kale, chard, etc can be added
dried seaweed is delicious

Baked Tofu
This is Mark Bittman's method for baked tofu. Baked tofu can be tossed in salads, stir frys, sandwiched, etc.

tofu
miso

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Dry the tofu with paper towels - just blot off the water. Mix 1 TB of miso with white wine, veg stock, or water just to brushable consistency. Brush the tofu liberally with this mixture. Place in a baking pan. Bake for about 1 hour undisturbed. It's done when the crust is lightly browned and firm. Remove and use immediately or cool, wrap, and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

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