Thursday, July 29, 2010

Good Eats Newsletter - July 28, 2010

This Week's Vegetable Share Contains:
2 lbs New Norland Potatoes; 1 Arrowhead Cabbage; 1 Bunch of Lacinato Kale; 2 lbs Zucchini; 2 Large Sweet Peppers; Japanese or Black Bell Eggplant; 1 Bunch of Cilantro plus...

1.5 lb Beefsteak or Heirloom Tomatoes
1 Bunch of Sweet Basil


Localvore Offerings Include:
Elmore Mountain Quebec Multi-grain Bread
Pa Pa Doodles Farm Eggs
1 Pint Champlain Orchards Plums

Pete's Musings
Today feels like September. Cool night, breezy, hot, low humidity day. I went to the potato and onion field to harvest some of both and you could feel the two crops maturing, ripening, in the dry heat. There are few better foods than those two to store the goodness and energy of the summer sun to nourish us all winter and into the next spring. It is a pleasure to be a participant in their ability to absorb nutrients and minerals from the rich hilltop soil and turn it into gorgeous green plants. Every day the parts we eat swell while the tops begin to look older, less fresh, heading towards death. We want the tops to die by the end of August as these two crops are harvested in early and mid September. If they live too long the potato skins are too fragile for harvest and the onions are difficult to dry. I crawled into a row of potatoes and lay down under the canopy. The tops are 4 feet tall so it created a cathedral of potato stems and leaves, a great place for a nap if there were time. We are blessed to have such plants that create such nutrition and pleasurable eating the whole year through. ~ Pete

Sean's Adventures
I asked Sean yesterday afternoon whether he'd like to attend the VT Fresh Network Farmers Dinner this Friday night and he replied that he didn't think he could stay upright that long after his workday ended. Poor Sean is weary from many days of straight farm work. Tired, but still energized - this week from digging new technicolor Purple Viking Potatoes. Sean is writing about his internship here. It's a good glimpse into life in the fields and around the farm. Check out his blog.


Storage and Use Tips
Arrowhead Cabbage - This pretty cabbage is sometimes called conehead cabbage and for good reason. Though similar to European green cabbage in texture, it is more tender and can be used in recipes that call for Napa or Savoy cabbage. It is delicious raw or cooked. Nearly all of the head can be used, just not the bottom inch or so. Cabbage should be stored unwashed in your crisper drawer, loosely wrapped in a plastic bag.

Tomatoes - You will all receive either red beefsteak or a variety of heirloom tomatoes this week (Cherokee Purple, Brandywine, Striped German, German Green, Great White, Prudens Purple among them). Please note that some of the tomatoes that are being sent to you are slightly under ripe. When they are very ripe, they can bruise/damage easily in the process of getting them to you. Please, as hard as it might be, leave under ripe tomatoes on your counter and they will ripen very quickly - within a day or two. Your patience will be rewarded with a much tastier tomato.

Cilantro - A member of the carrot family and related to parsley, cilantro is the leaves and stems of the coriander plant (the seeds of the same plant are the spice known as coriander). Cilantro has a very pungent odor and is widely used in Mexican, Caribbean and Asian cooking. The leaves and stems can be chopped and added to salads, soups and sauces, and can garnish many meals. I toss cilantro into any Mexican dish I am making, and love it in summer when I have tomatoes to make salsa. Storing cilantro with moist leaves in a plastic bag will most likely lead to green slime instead of a good meal. It keeps better if you stand it up, unwashed, in your refrigerator in a glass full of water, covered loosely with a plastic bag. Change the water every 2 or 3 days to keep it fresh. If you can't use all your cilantro just yet and wish to save it for a future dish, you can freeze it. Wash and gently dry your cilantro with paper towels. Then either put sprigs loosely in a plastic bag and freeze them. Or lightly chop cilantro, measure by the tablespoon into ice trays, fill remaining space in ice tray with water, and then after cubes are frozen, store in a plastic bag. You can take one out and thaw anytime you need to use it.

Basil - Basil is short lived and care must be taken to store it for any length of time. I often store mine in a glass of water like a bouquet. I trim the stems if they have become dry so they can absorb water. They may last a few days like this. DON'T put your fresh basil in your fridge. Basil gets frostbite very easily and turns unappealingly black. You might get away with it if your fridge is not very cold, but it's quite likely you will freeze it. Basil is also very fragile and we try to handle it very gently. Thus we don't wash our basil before sending it out, so some stalks could be a bit dusty/gritty and will need washing.Beautiful Kale in the Field





Just A Few Seats Left for Dinner this Friday
We have nearly filled all the seats for our VT Fresh Network Farmers Dinner this Friday July 30th. If you would like to attend this dinner, please make your reservation soon. This is going to be a spirited event with a good mix of folks and food!

Much of the food is being sourced from the host producers and nearly all is being sourced very nearby. Prepared by Chef Lauren Bowes, the 4 course meal will be paired with honey wines (mead) from Honey Gardens Winery. Participating member producers include Cellars at Jasper Hill, Vermont Soy, Greenfield Highland Beef, Caledonia Spirits & Honey Gardens Winery, and High Mowing Seeds.

When: Friday July 30th, 6 pm
Where: Caledonia Spirits & Honey Gardens Winery, Hardwick, VT
Tickets: $40/per person plus tax ($43.66 total with taxes)
Please contact Todd Hardie for information and reservations: 802.472.8000, todd@caledoniaspirits.com

Pete's Greens Annual Farm Party August 21st
I hope you all have marked your calendars with the date of our annual farm party/open farm day Saturday August 21st. We look forward to this event each year as it gives us a chance to visit with all of you! Pete and others on the farm will be giving tours of the farm via wagon ride, we'll have some great music playing, and we'll all share a meal under the tent together. In my last email about this event, I mentioned that we were planning on offering an option for people to buy a plate of food at the party. But we have switched gears back to our traditional potluck. This is a great time for you to come out to the farm and see where your food is grown. It's also a great time to visit, eat, and enjoy. I really hope to be able to meet/connect with many of you there!
Localvore Lore
At Elmore Mountain Bread, Blair and Andrew are busy baking special loaves of bread for Good Eats. Their Quebec Multigrain bread is made with Whole Wheat & Winter Wheat from Meunerie Milanise in Quebec, cracked grains from Michel Gaudreau Golden Crops in Quebec, sea salt, and sourdough.

The fresh very free range eggs in the share this week are, of course, from Deb Rosewolf's flock at Pa Pa Doodles Farm.

The certified organic plums this week are from Champlain Orchards in Shoreham, VT. I am not certain what varieties of plums are going out and it's probably a mix but I think many of you will receive a variety called Early Gold. These little yellow plums with red blush are a sweet summer Asian plum and will be delicious eating this week. If they are a little firm and tart, give them a day or two on the counter to ripen a bit further. Champlain Orchards grows a variety of summer fruits including cherries, raspberries, plums, and of course apples, lots of apples. Owner Bill Suhr began running this 100 year-old family orchard in 1998 and he combines old farming practices with the best of the new. Much of his fruit is certified organic, and some of his apples are too (or are in transition).

Recipes
Mini Frittatas with Zucchini, Tomatoes, and Goat Cheese
If you have guests coming this week or you are doing some traveling and need handy car food, or just want to make something a little fun for the family, here's a great one for this week. These little frittatas are delicious and a good way to get some veggies into the kids too! The original recipe comes from Does Leap Farm, and I came to it by way of Tracey Medeiros Dishing Up Vermont Cookbook.

1.25 cups grated zucchini
Salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup grated cheddar
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 cup goat cheese (around 2 ounces) crumbled (parm or feta good too!)
1/4 cup seeded minced tomato
1.5 TB fresh basil

Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly oil and flour a mini muffin tin; set aside.

Place zucchini in a colander and sprinkle lightly with salt. Place colander in a bowl and set aside to drain about 15 minutes. Place salted zucchini between layers of clean tea towel or paper towel and gently press down to remove excess water.

Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl. Add zucchini, flour, cheddar cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper, and mix well. Spoon mixture into each muffin cup, just even with the rim, and sprinkle with the crumbled goat cheese. Bake in the oven until the edges are crisp and brown and frittatas are set, about 12 minutes. Carefully remove from oven and evenly top with tomatoes and basil. Return to oven and bake until tomatoes have heated through, about 1 minute.

Simple Baked Arrowhead Cabbage Here's a nice, easy side dish that showcases these lovely cabbages.

1 Arrowhead Cabbage, cut in two lengthwise
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
Chopped Scallions
Grated Parmesan

Place the cabbage halved on a baking sheet or in a glass baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and chopped scallions. Roast for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven, sprinkle with grated parm and return to oven to bake a few more minutes until cheese is lightly browned.

The result was very light and lovely without any of the heaviness sometimes associated with cabbage. The best description of the taste I can come up with is buttery crunch — not at all tough, but a velvety texture. Mild, sweet, delicious.

Oven Ratatouille
This recipe looks long. But really, it's just a lot of instruction about properly roasting the various vegetables in this dish. The roasting sweetens and concentrates the flavors of them all. This is a very healthy, very tasty dish. Another from Mollie Katzen's Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without.

3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large globe eggplant (about 1 pound), cut into ¾-inch cubes (peeling unnecessary if the skin is tight and smooth)
2 pounds ripe plum tomatoes (or 1 smallish heirloom or beefsteak)
6 medium-sized garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 large bell peppers (red, yellow, or orange)
2 cups coarsely chopped onion
1 medium zucchini (7 to 8 inches long), cut into 1-inch cubes
1½ teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried marjoram or oregano
½ teaspoon each crumbled dried thyme and rosemary
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Optional:
Small amounts of fresh herbs (basil, marjoram or oregano, rosemary, thyme, and/or parsley)
Pitted chopped olives

Arrange an oven rack in the topmost position, and another in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line 1 small and 2 large baking trays with foil, and coast the foil generously with the olive oil.

Place the eggplant on one of the large trays, and toss to coat with oil. Then push it to one side, keeping it in a single layer. Arrange the tomatoes on the other half of the tray, rolling them around so they get coated with oil. Wrap the garlic cloves (still in their skins) and a half teaspoon of water tightly in a piece of foil, and place this on the corner of the same tray.

Place the whole bell peppers on the small tray.

Spread the onions and the zucchini pieces on opposite ends of the remaining large tray, and toss to coat with the oil.

Place the eggplant tray on the middle shelf of the oven, and put the small sheet with the peppers on the upper rack. After 10 minutes, use tongs to turn everything over. Repeat this turning process after another 10 minutes or so. Gently squeeze the garlic to see if it is soft. If it is, remove it from the oven; if not, continue roasting.

Place the onion-zucchini tray on the middle shelf next to the one with the eggplant, and continue roasting all for another 10 minutes. Turn the peppers and tomatoes one more time, and toss the eggplant, onions, and zucchini to help them brown evenly. Sprinkle the eggplant, onions, and zucchini evenly with the dried herbs. Once again, squeeze the garlic to see if it is soft. If so, remove it from the oven; if not, continue roasting. Roast a final 10 minutes, or until the vegetables become deep golden brown and very tender.

Transfer the eggplant, onion, and zucchini to a large bowl. Let the peppers, tomatoes, and garlic sit for a few minutes, or until comfortable to handle. Peel the peppers, then chop the tomatoes and peeled peppers roughly into 1-inch pieces and add to the eggplant mixture. Slip the roasted garlic cloves from their skins, mash with a fork, and add to the eggplant mixture.

Toss until well combined. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled – plain or topped with a sprinkling of freshly chopped herbs and/or olives.

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