Photos by Zachary Cross
I talked recently about occasionally being overwhelmed by our CSA share our first year using one. Greens were especially abundant that year, and are right now in this mild winter. We used a lot of greens - and got our kids to eat them - by making quiche in bulk.
In the early 90s, partly due to cost and partly due to factory farming practices, we decided to eat a vegetarian diet. A vegetarian friend had introduced us to Molly Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook via her spanakopita recipe. We purchased our own copy, not realizing it had been updated for the low-fat trend so popular then. We kept a copy of the old spanakopita recipe (with the butter and eggs) and used the new recipes without the options of throwing away the egg yolks and other such suggestions. Our copy is stained and worn, with pages falling open to favorite recipes.
Katzen followed up the Moosewood Cookbook with The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. While not as basic as the Moosewood, Broccoli Forest has at least one staple for us: the quiche formula. Instead of needing a quiche recipe for each kind of quiche you’d like to make, Katzen came up with a formula: crust + cheese + filling + custard. It’s a 9- or 10-inch crust, about ¼ pound of cheese (I don’t use that much), enough filling to cover the cheese and crust thinly, and a custard of 3 eggs plus one cup of milk. Although Katzen has recipes for each component (and suggestions of how to combine them), the possibilities are far greater than contained in her cookbook, or any cookbook for that matter.
When faced with a mound of greens that first CSA season, the combination we used most often was a traditional crust, whatever cheese we had, and greens sauteed with onions. We would work assembly-line style, eventually ending up with plenty of quiche for supper and at least several for the freezer. We’ve only frozen quiche with regular pie crust, but they froze and reheated well, great for when we needed a break from cooking.
Depending on the ingredients you choose, it is possible to buy all your quiche ingredients at the market. For the crust you can go with a traditional crust, homemade or storebought. Lately I’ve been making quiches crustless or with a hashbrown crust. I’d been eyeing this torta for some time and decided to give a crust of fried potato slices a try. It was time consuming, I’ll admit, although less frustrating for me than pie dough. There are also plenty of recipes online for paleo, gluten-free, or other crusts.
Use whatever cheese you fancy. Gruyère is a traditional one for quiches, but think about what you like and what complements your filling. I imagine you can leave out the cheese entirely but it does create, as Katzen says, “a moisture-resistant barrier between the filling and the crust.” No matter how much you love cheese, though, don’t go overboard on it. Too much cheese can keep the custard from cooking properly.
The fillings can be so many things: greens, onions, garlic, mushrooms, bacon, tomatoes, broccoli, squash, whatever you want. I advise that you cook juicier veggies before using, and alliums such as onions and garlic are yummier sauteed or browned.
Eggs are a must for the custard, and I don’t have enough experience with vegan cooking to suggest a substitute. The milk, though, while a good use of your milk share, is flexible. If you need or want a dairy-free dish by all means use a different kind of milk, or use extra eggs, frittata-style.
When I made this quiche I had stems from the various greens I had been using: beet, several kinds of kale, and chard. While I’ve been using chard stems for a long time, I had not used other stems until Alice suggested it. Now I save them and use them as I would the greens, allowing for a longer cooking time. I had hoped to make a pretty spiral with them, as in this tart, but even after cooking they were not quite flexible enough. Normally I would chop the stems, but I decided to leave them long and I enjoyed the result. The beet stems retained their color well and helped create a variety of colors as well as textures.
I asked for and received a mandoline slicer for Christmas and had not used it yet. I don’t think I could have made all those potato slices (I made a double batch) without it. I experimented with different thickness and although I enjoyed being able to make paper-thin slices the ⅛ inch slices were plenty thin yet still had enough substance for the crust.
Using a springform pan was a challenge for this crust. It makes for the best presentation but the biggest hassle. Normally I line a springform pan with wax paper and that seems to fill in the potential gap at the bottom well. I saw this post that used parchment paper instead and decided to use it. Since the potatoes had been fried I did not think I needed to grease the paper and that is perhaps where I went wrong. The quiche leaked, just a little in one pan and a lot more in the other. Make sure you have yours sealed well before you try this! Next time I’ll try using foil as in this post.
Other than a little leakage this turned out beautifully and tasted even better. Note that I used a higher ratio of eggs to milk, mainly because we are using up our milk share quickly this week. I also used more custard as a straight-sided pan such as a springform has a higher volume than a typical pie pan.
Inspired by Mollie Katzen and Grown to Cook
For the crust:
One large potato - I used Yukon gold, but any kind should work
Fat of your choice
For the filling:
2-3 oz cheese, shredded
One medium to large onion, sliced or chopped
Stems from about four bunches of greens
6 large eggs
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400°. Slice the potato thin, about ⅛ inch (peel first if desired, I did not). Fry in fat of your choice in batches until cooked and lightly brown, season to taste with salt and pepper. Line a springform pan with wax or parchment paper (see above) and line with overlapping potato slices. I found it easiest to arrange the slices on the side first, trimming them as necessary, then the bottom.
Sauté the onion until at least wilted, and possibly brown, as you prefer. Salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to boil. Parboil the greens stems 7 minutes, then drain. Chop or leave whole and add to the onions, seasoning to taste.
Beat eggs, mix in milk, and sprinkle salt to taste.
Assemble the quiche: sprinkle cheese on top of the prepared crust, arrange a thin layer of the greens mixture (be careful if it’s still hot!), then slowly pour custard over all.
Bake at 400° until custard is set and lightly brown.
Printable recipe here
Photos by Zachary Cross
As you are probably well aware, Valentine’s Day in the U.S. is pretty commercialized, with red in the form of candy, flowers, and cards all over stores. You can celebrate with something fun and pink or red while still using local ingredients.
I’m pretty sentimental about Valentine’s Day because it was my first date with my future husband. It was an awkward though auspicious evening. Thirty years later I can celebrate with Jeffrey and the kids that it all worked out well in the end!
In our family we celebrate the day with fun foods, often in shades of pink (such as pink mashed potatoes). It’s an easy color to create with food, from raspberries and cherries to beets. Apparently if you are patient, you can even color foods a true red with beets.
When I saw Easy Bistro’s beet panna cotta I knew I had to make some. Not that I think I can match theirs! But it’s pretty and pink and can be made at home.
Beets are plentiful right now, and should be well into spring. They range in color from a deep red, which will give your dessert a bright purple-pink color, to bright red, pink, and also orange and yellow. The inside of your beets may different from the outside, too! In addition to solid-color beets, some beets are striped on the inside, looking especially fun cut into rounds.
Save the greens from your beets. They cook up like other greens, with the addition of a dark pink color if you use dark red beets. You can even make a savory version of beet panna cotta that uses the greens, too.
Panna cotta is Italian for cooked cream and generally a dessert of cream thickened with gelatin. Faith Durand, via The Kitchn, calls it “...the perfect dessert.” She’s says, despite being traditionally cream and gelatin based, it can be made with dairy-free milks, and even vegan with a gelatin replacement. And it’s easily made gluten-free as the ingredients are not usually ones that contain gluten. Eggs are not necessary for the panna cotta itself. Finally, it can be flavored pretty much however you want. Or make it plain and serve it with the sauce of your choice.
There were plenty of recipes on the internet for beet panna cotta to go around. It appears that Easy Bistro’s is accompanied by orange but most of the ones I found online were paired with lemon. The tangy flavor makes for a pleasant contrast for the earthiness of the beets. The recipe I’ve used has plenty of cream, butter, and eggs, but if you cook dairy or egg free I saw plenty of recipes with coconut cream instead of the dairy cream and gelatin instead of eggs.
As you can see, the panna cotta turned a bright and dark shade of pink. I imagine lighter beets would be a lighter pink and the orange or yellow ones would give you a yellow tone, though I have not tested them. Note that I used regular lemons instead of Meyer lemons. Meyer lemons are occasionally available at Whole Foods if you want to give them a try.
If you want to work on this dish ahead of time the recipe notes that it can be made up to three days before serving. For serving parfait glasses show off the brilliant pink, though I couldn’t resist trying it in a heart-shaped pan as well. Happy Valentine’s Day!
From bon appétit
Beet Panna Cotta
1⁄2 pound red beets, peeled, cut into 1⁄2” pieces
2 cups heavy cream
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon unflavored powdered gelatin
3 tablespoons honey
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Meyer Lemon Mousse
1 tablespoon finely grated Meyer lemon zest
1⁄2 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
1⁄2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces, divided
1⁄2 cup sugar, divided
4 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1⁄2 cup chilled heavy cream
Six 8-ounce glasses or ramekins
Beet panna cotta
Bring beets, cream, and salt to a simmer over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer very gently until beets are tender, 25–30 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, combine gelatin and 2 Tbsp. cold water in a blender; let sit 5 minutes for gelatin to soften.
Transfer beets and their cooking liquid to blender; add honey and vanilla and purée until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl; discard solids.
Divide purée among glasses and chill until set, 31⁄2–4 hours.
Do Ahead: Panna cotta can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and keep chilled.
Meyer lemon mousse
Bring lemon zest and juice, 1⁄4 cup butter, and 1⁄4 cup sugar to a simmer over medium heat in a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat.
Whisk egg yolks, egg, and remaining 1⁄4 cup sugar in a small bowl until pale and thick, about 2 minutes. Whisking constantly, slowly pour hot lemon mixture into egg mixture. Transfer back to saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until curd is thickened and whisk leaves a trail, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add remaining 1⁄4 cup butter, whisking until melted and curd is smooth. Transfer curd to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly onto surface. Chill until cold, at least 2 hours.
When ready to serve, whisk cream in a small bowl to soft peaks and gently fold into curd. Spoon mousse over panna cotta.
Do Ahead: Lemon curd can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.
Recipe by Odd Duck, Austin
Calories (kcal) 650 Fat (g) 56 Saturated Fat (g) 34 Cholesterol (mg) 330Carbohydrates (g) 34 Dietary Fiber (g) 1 Total Sugars (g) 31 Protein (g) 6 Sodium (mg) 280
Printable recipe here
Photos by Zachary Cross
A while back Cortney Geary, market customer and former board member, gave me a suggestion for a new recipe of sorts. At first I wasn’t sure if I’d like it, then once I did I wondered why I didn’t make it right away!
Do you make meal plans for your household? Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. There are different ways to plan, for instance sitting down to plan a week’s worth of meals and then shopping to fit those meals. Shopping at the market often takes a different approach, combining a general idea of the seasons and what farmers will be bringing along with plenty of surprises. If you participate in a weekly CSA, though, you often don’t get a choice and you are probably going to have to work with what you have. That might sound negative, but the years we were part of a farm’s CSA I enjoyed the freedom from decision-making!
A few years ago Alice recommended An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler (thanks Alice!). The book is a wonderful ramble on food and cooking, not a cookbook, but it does have ways to prepare food. And Adler has a video showing how she uses her week’s worth of farmers market produce, prepping it all as soon as she gets home and using it all week in simple, quick meals. In reading the comments about her video, I saw that some people thought this was unrealistic because she has such a wonderful kitchen, with no children or pets running around underfoot. While there is a difference between cooking all that she does and me making five times that much all at one go, I do find that prepping my market haul (that’s me, staggering back to my car on several trips, multiple bags on each arm) as soon as possible makes not only for an easier week of cooking, it also saves room in the fridge!
If you are a planner, I highly recommend signing up for the weekly market newsletter. It includes a list of what farmers are planning to bring to market. Weather, crop issues, and other factors can change that, but you can get a general idea of what to expect. I also recommend, however, that you learn to shop by “Pantry Principle” style. Although this method is mainly aimed at cost savings, it makes sense for shopping seasonally as well. Essentially you make your meals based on what you have, not plan your shopping based on what you want to eat. The cost savings comes from stocking your pantry with sale items. This method works whether you are trying to figure out what to do with your share in a given week, or if you do want to stock up in season, say, with canning tomatoes or applesauce-grade apples. It was difficult for me to wrap my head around the idea until participating in a CSA. The next year I added a decent-sized home garden and was in a community garden as well. It was pretty important to figure out how to use what I had that year!
Amy Dacyzyn helped make the pantry principle well known in her Tightwad Gazette in the 90s. Although Dacyzyn describes a meal-planning technique that involves planning the night before, she also describes saving time and making certain dishes over time, for instance, pumpkin pies from scratch. I found this week’s recipe to be a good candidate for cooking over the course of a week.
Cortney’s suggestion was more of an idea rather than recipe, but it’s a simple and adaptable one. Faced with leftovers during the holidays, she used sweet potato casserole in her usual pancake recipe and enjoyed the results. My initial resistance to this idea was that I find sweet potato casserole too sweet so I don’t often make it. I decided to make a less sweet batch and go from there.
I did not anticipate not having leftovers! My family is pretty mixed on their feelings about sweet potatoes. They will all eat them but some are more enthusiastic than others, and opinionated about their preferred form. Jeffrey, for instance, loves sweet potato casserole with browned marshmallows on top. Tiny cubes of browned sweet potato are loved by another family member. I figured the response to a relatively plain, lightly sweetened casserole would be lukewarm. Well, they ate it all so I had to try again.
I stretched the cooking out over the course of a week by first serving the potatoes baked. I used the oven, but a slow cooker works well, too. I made plenty!
A couple of nights later, I made a simple casserole and doubled the recipe. The recipe I used has a nut topping but I skipped that because of the nuts and flour. It also adds a lot of sugar to the recipe and I did not want that. I did add a little bit more sweetening to the casserole in the form of maple syrup, mostly for flavor. I exchanged the vanilla extract for pumpkin pie spice. Those are all my preferences, make the casserole to your taste, thinking about its next use.
In a few more days I was ready to make pancakes. Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes from the More with Less Cookbook is basic and easily multiplied to make as large a batch as you want. It’s unsweetened, which makes it a great base for topping. And what toppings there are at market! Our farmers have honey, maple syrup, and all sorts of jams and preserves.
Your favorite pancake recipe should work fine, and the best one is the one you are most familiar with, so you can tweak it as needed. I replaced some of the buttermilk in my recipe with the sweet potato casserole. My casserole was a fairly dry one so I used about ½ cup casserole and ¼-½ cup buttermilk for the cup of buttermilk called for. I ended up with the same consistency as usual, but the pancakes seemed lighter and fluffier than they typically do. The batter tasted fine, but the end result was amazing! These were the best pancakes ever (we did not, but should have, christened them Richard Scarry pancakes). I typically prefer a plain pancake and find that pumpkin, apple, or other flavors seem weak in pancakes. I assume that sweet potato’s strong flavor is what made the difference in these. A bonus is that they gave my grain-free pancakes (I use the same recipe and replace the flour with a plantain) a better texture than usual. I’m not sure if it was the extra egg, fiber, or starch from the casserole, or maybe a combination of all three, but I was pleased.
I’ll share the recipes I used, but feel free to make this all your own, an extended, if not everlasting meal.
From Food Network
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for buttering the baking dish
3 cups mashed sweet potatoes (3 to 4 large potatoes; about 1 3/4 pounds)
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup chopped pecans
Special equipment: a 2-quart baking dish
For the filling: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and butter a 2-quart baking dish.
Whisk together the butter, mashed sweet potatoes, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, salt and the eggs in a large bowl. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
For the topping: Combine the flour, brown sugar, butter and salt in a medium bowl until moist and the mixture clumps together. Stir in the pecans and spread over the top of the sweet potatoes in an even layer. Bake until mostly set in the center and golden on top, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot.
For a printable recipe go here
Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes
From More with Less Cookbook via Our Family Cooking
Combine in a bowl and mix with fork:
1 cup buttermilk**
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
Add and mix only until moistened:
1/2 cup whole wheat flour*
1/2 cup unbleached, white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fry in hot, lightly greased skillet.
1/2 cup whole wheat; 1/4 cup unbleached white, 1/4 cup wheat germ or wheat hearts
**No buttermilk? Put 4 teaspoons vinegar in cup, fill with milk to 1 cup.
Photos by Zachary Cross
Potato leek soup is a classic, made by everyone from Julia Child to Alton Brown. Although people often think of it as a rich soup with cream, a dairy-free, potentially vegan version is equally satisfying.
I’m not sure when or where I first tasted potato-leek soup, but I suspect it was during afternoon tea at The English Rose. I remember the portions being small, which is a good thing as it was definitely a cream-based, rich soup. That’s perfect for cold, wet winter evenings, when I want some comfort food - something filling.
But this winter has had more warm days than cold. Hot soup is still appropriate most evenings, but I’ve found myself wanting lighter fare more than usual in the winter. Thankfully my go-to recipe has both a vegan version as well as the dairy-laden. This is another Jack Bishop leek recipe from Vegetables Every Day. I had enjoyed the browned leeks recipe so much I assumed I would like his soup recipe. I was surprised to find that the basic recipe has no cream or milk, and is not puréed. I tried it out and enjoyed its hearty taste and texture. I’ve since tried the variation I originally had in mind and enjoyed that, too.
There are so many versions of potato-leek soup, that include bacon, celery, cayenne, garlic, and/or thyme, as well as other additions. As when researching hashbrowns, I found people highly opinionated on whether russet, yukon gold, or other potatoes are best. And there are various ways to blend your soup! I prefer using an immersion blender with a light hand, but some purists say only mashing by hand works, with some chiming in that ricing is the best. Just be sure not to overblend as that can make the soup come out gummy.
I follow Bishop’s recipe pretty closely with a few exceptions (that’s closely for me!). First, I use whatever potato I have handy. I don’t think I’ve used red or blue fleshed, but russets, red-skinned, or Yukon Gold all work. They do have different qualities, but I like them all. Yukons are my favorite, and give a warm, golden color to the soup. Next, I just use water instead of vegetable or chicken stock. Bone broth is very nourishing but I’m cooking for vegetarians. If I’ve made some homemade veggie stock I’ll use it, but I don’t care for prepackaged bouillon or stock. Also, I don’t care for the taste of bay leaves. Maybe one day I’ll have a bay tree like Martha, who swears by fresh bay leaves. Until then I’ll pass on the harsh flavor of the dried. Last, although this soup, as most do, benefits from a green garnish, I’ll use what I have on hand and in the mood for, not just parsley. Chives are a logical alternative, but thyme is also a good one. Emeril fries up shoestring potatoes and leeks as a topping for his version.
I’m including both variations of this soup. Choose which one based on your dietary preferences, available ingredients, or mood.
From Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop
4 medium leeks
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound red potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
Variation: Creamy Leek and Potato Soup
Prepare the soup through step 3. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Purée the soup in a blender. (Do not purée any longer than necessary or the potatoes will become gluey.) Return the soup to the pot and stir in ½ cup heavy cream and the parsley. Bring almost to a boil, adjust the seasonings, and serve immediately..
Printable recipe here
Photos by Zachary Cross
Although my original intention was simply to make supper one evening using kale I had purchased that week, my search for a recipe led to research about the popularity of this now ubiquitous vegetable. Since it’s both the darling and devil of the food world the results on Google seemed limitless in variety as well as quantity.
Kale is a hardy member of the cabbage family, tasting better and sweeter in the cooler months of the year. Once upon a time many Americans only knew it as a lighter green, frilly garnish, an alternative to the dark green, frilly parsley garnish. Or perhaps they grew it in their winter flower beds with their pansies and mums. There are many types of kale, though, in shades of reds, purples, and all sorts of greens, with tightly curled or flat leaves, or somewhere in between.
There are various timelines attempting to explain kale’s rise in popularity. Certainly it began sometime in the 2000s. I know when we first started cooking a good bit of it in 2007 it was already getting popular, yet our cookbook collection (including Martha), did not have many, if any, kale recipes. We just improvised and used spinach recipes, using a longer cooking time.
We added more cookbooks to our collection and heard about kale smoothies. Martha put kale recipes on her website. Gwyneth Paltrow and Ellen made kale chips on TV. In 2013 the owner of a PR firm decided to give kale a boost, claiming she was backed by the non-existent American Kale Association. By 2013 kale was pretty well established in farmer’s markets but apparently this publicity made it familiar with the general public, to both praise and scorn.
Have you heard about the new kale? An internet search reveals that it’s collards, chard, quinoa, kelp, and/or mustard greens. In the end, it turns out, the new kale is kale.
This past week Healthy Kitchen had a new kale, that is, a kale I had not noticed before: Scarlet. It’s definitely frilly, but not the least bit green. It’s a deep purple tinged with red and I was excited to try something so pretty. I was afraid cooking it would leach some of the color so I decided to try something else new to me: a massaged kale salad (yes, I’m late to the game!). There are basic instructions in an earlier blog post but I found a slightly more complex recipe, specifically for Redbor, a very similar-looking variety.
Massaging raw kale with a vinaigrette takes a potentially tough leaf and breaks it down a bit, as well adding flavor. Additions such as fruits, other vegetables, meats, and/or cheeses, turn it into a salad and potentially a meal.
This salad is a study in contrasting jewel tones, as well as contrasting flavors and textures. According to the recipe author, redbor is an earthy tasting kale rather than “...clean, grassy.” The scarlet tasted like a nice, sweet, winter kale to me (a good thing, though I like earthy, too!). But the recipe sounded good anyway, even if it was designed for an earthy kale.
As it happened, I only had blood oranges on hand. They are less sweet than navels, and such a lovely combination of red and orange in color. Red navels would look lovely, too, though all oranges would provide a good color and taste. I was happy to use a butternut, too, as I have accumulated a lot of squash this year.
This recipe only calls for whisking the vinaigrette and combining with the vegetables and fruit, but massaging the kale only takes a few minutes more. I could feel the kale breaking down under my fingers and the color deepened.
As I tossed the squash and oranges with the kale, I realized I really should have stuck to the time listed in the recipe for cooking the squash. It was not browning and I cooked it a bit longer, but that only made it mushy. Maybe next time I’ll use butter, instead of olive oil, or just not worry about browning it.
I have a citrus zester and used that, and I’d say zest at least half of an orange. The zest really adds flavor and color to the salad. I’m not sure why the recipe calls both for a supremed orange and 1 ½ oranges worth of segments. I was down to my last 2 oranges, and they peeled so easily I just used ½ for juice and the rest peeled.
A great thing about a kale salad is how well the kale holds up for leftovers. The next day this salad was as pretty as when it was made, great for a light lunch.
From Brooklyn Supper
2 cups butternut squash, peeled, and cut into 1″ cubes
1 bunch Redbor kale, washed, dried, and chopped
1 orange, supremed
Juice of half a large orange
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3″ segment of orange zest
1 1/2 fresh oranges, divided into segments
1/3 cup shaved Asiago
3 twists fresh ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare the squash, spread out on a rimmed baking sheet with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt, and bake for 25 minutes, or until the squash is cooked through and the edges are golden brown.
Prepare the kale and orange zest and segments. Slice the zest into thin strips.
Juice the orange half. Whisk the orange juice into the olive oil, and add the salt.
When the squash is ready, toss the orange segments and squash with the kale, add a generous drizzle of the vinaigrette, and garnish with slices of zest, Asiago, and pepper.
Printable recipe here
Photos by Zachary Cross
In 2007 Crabtree Farms first offered CSA shares. We wanted to support local food, and we loved the convenient location (about 10 minutes away), so we signed up. It was so much fun to go pick up our box of food each week, check out the farm, and get to know folks at Crabtree. We had been cooking from scratch for a long time, and I grew up with plenty of fresh food, but it was still quite the learning curve for us! We had four kids at home and our youngest was still a baby. Some weeks we weren’t so sure what to do with our food or we just ran out of time to use one week’s produce before the next came in. Amazingly, we did not have anything go bad on us that year but some weeks we had a lot to work with!
One week I listened to a review of Jack Bishop’s Vegetables Every Day and decided to check it out of the library. This cookbook is arranged in alphabetical order, one chapter per vegetable, 66 vegetables (or groups of vegetables), and at least 365 recipes total. Whenever we had a vegetable that puzzled us we were usually able to find a recipe or even several for it. I decided pretty quickly that it was a cookbook worth purchasing for our family.
One vegetable we had not worked with much in the past and found in our share was the leek. A member of the allium family, along with garlic and onions, leeks are sweeter and can stand alone as well as accompany other ingredients. Preparing and serving them on their own is generally my preferred way of making them. The sweet, oniony flavor shines through and rewards my prep work and cleaning.
Preparing leeks is not quite as simple as peeling an onion or clove of garlic. Dirt tends to get in leek’s layers and needs to be flushed out. Thankfully Bishop includes a method for getting leeks clean. Here’s how Bishop says to do it:
“Trim and discard the dark green tops and tough outer leaves from the leeks. Remove the roots along with a very thin slice of the nearby white part. (If you are slicing the leeks for soup, you can remove a thicker slice. However, if you are cooking halved leeks, don’t remove too much from the bottom or the layers will fall apart.)
"Halve the leeks lengthwise and wash them under cold, running water. Gently spread apart but do not separate the inner layers to remove all traces of soil. If the leeks are particularly sandy, soak them in several changes of clean water. At this point the leeks are ready to be cooked or sliced further for use in soups or as a seasoning.”
The only things I would add are to remove any tough outer layers (these do not soften well during cooking) and don’t discard your leek trimmings. Use them to make yummy vegetable or meat stock.
Once prepped the leeks can be simply cooked in butter in a covered skillet. That’s enough to enjoy leek’s flavor but that flavor can be taken up a notch. Bishop has a recipe for red wine braised leeks but that flavor combination doesn’t make sense to me (try it if it does to you - to each his or her own!). I’ve added some white wine to my sauteed leeks at the end of cooking, simmering just long enough to reduce the wine a bit and allow the leeks to soak up some flavor. Yum! Bishop has another variation on the sauteed and that is to add parmesan cheese to the leeks and broil briefly until browned. I used asiago instead but otherwise followed his instructions. Yum again! The whites were creamy and the greens crisp and browned. Here’s the original recipe, plus the variations.
From Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop
The leeks are cooked in a covered pan with a little butter until almost tender, then the lid is removed and the leeks are cooked until lightly browned. Don’t try this recipe with leeks thicker than ¾ inch; they won’t soften properly. Serve with chicken or fish. (note from Heather: I think thicker leeks would be fine; you’ll be removing a good bit of the outer layers. Perhaps cook longer under cover)
4 medium leeks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Freshly ground pepper
Variation: Crispy Leeks with Parmesan (pictured below)
An excellent accompaniment to egg dishes
Preheat the broiler. Prepare the leeks as directed, through step 3, cooking them in an ovenproof skillet. Dust the browned leeks with ⅓ cup grated Parmesan (note from Heather: I used Asiago and a little bit more) and broil until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly, no more than a few minutes. Serve immediately.
Printable recipe here
Photos by Zachary Cross
I remember the first time I made hash browns at home. Actually, a friend that was staying with us offered to make them just like his mom did. He confidently shredded them and prepared to fry them, then was horrified to find that they had turned pink! Who knew that one of our common foods, that seems so simple, could be so complicated?
Potatoes are often considered comfort food. Starchy and mild, they can be baked, fried, or boiled; whole, sliced, or shredded. They are yummy fairly plain, with some salt and butter, or as a complement to more complex flavors.
Potatoes are native to South America in the Andes but have been a staple crop around the world for over 400 years. They’re members of the nightshade family, and potato vines resemble tomato vines, at least from a distance. We tend to associate the potato with the russet, a mealy potato with a brown skin and white flesh. But planting a single variety of potato is boring, and, the Irish found out in the 1800s, downright dangerous. The Lumper potato was as unappetizing (to modern tastes) as it sounds, but, more importantly, put most of the Irish’s caloric eggs in one basket. When it was hit with a blight, more than a million people died, and many who were left emigrated to America. It, too, was a white potato, and is the reason white potatoes are referred to as Irish. But potatoes in South America are are not merely white, or even smooth, or one shape or size. We’re seeing a variety of shapes and sizes coming to market: red, yellow, and blue, large and small, fingerlings and round. But there are even more variations: multicolored, knobby, and even black. Maybe one day we’ll see them here in Chattanooga!
Although there are flavor and texture distinctions among various potato varieties, many are interchangeable in recipes. In addition, recipe authors online are divided on the best potato for hash browns. Some say to use dry potatoes like russets, others that newer, wetter and waxier potatoes have better structure. So that’s going to be a personal preference. If you find your new potato hash browns to come out too wet, you can try russets. Or you can spread the hash browns thinner. Or, maybe you don’t mind a wetter texture to the finished product and they’re great!
Color is definitely going to be a matter of personal taste. I have not made hash browns with all red or blue potatoes. I love their colors, though, so hopefully I’ll get a chance to try it! It can be disconcerting, however, to find your white potatoes turning pink as you work with them. As it turns out, they oxidize, just as other fruits and vegetables do, only they turn pink instead of brown. If you’re making a single serving of hash browns, or having very fresh potatoes, you’re probably fine. Otherwise, dump your grated potatoes in water as you go and then drain well when you are ready to mix them up and cook them. Then squeeze out all the water as best you can, either using a potato ricer or (as I do) squeezing them in a dish towel.
This recipe was originally written for frozen, grated potatoes. That’s what I used at first, but I realized it’s quicker to grate them in my food processor than wait for the frozen ones to thaw. Now I can use market potatoes as well. Win-win! The frozen potatoes are nice and dry, though, so it took a couple of tries for me to get the recipe right with fresh potatoes. Squeeze them well!
I really like the seasonings that are in this recipe. I tend to eat my potatoes fairly plain, albeit salty, but this seasoning combo works out well. As usual, we don’t have garlic powder around so I’ve used garlic oil (reduce the butter), pressed garlic, or garlic chives (at the end) instead. I also use fresh thyme instead of the dried, adding a little more on top after baking. Definitely top this with something green: parsley, chives, thyme, a combination, or whatever fresh herbs you have on hand and like. Cilantro would work well with the cumin and garlic, maybe leave off the thyme.
Adapted from Zesty Baked Hash Brown Recipe on A Spicy Perspective
2 pounds potatoes
1 stick butter, melted (1/2 cup)
2 large eggs
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a large baking pan with parchment paper.
Peel potatoes (optional). Shred on a box grater or food processor, adding shredded potatoes to a large bowl of cold water as you go. When all of your potatoes are shredded, drain, then squeeze dry in a potato ricer or kitchen towel. (see Simply Recipes for visuals and tips)
Whisk the eggs in a small bowl then pour over the potatoes. Add the shredded cheese, salt, cumin, thyme and garlic powder. Toss to coat. Then pour the melted butter over the top and toss to coat again.
Spread the potato mixture evenly over the baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake for approximately 40 minutes. Cut and serve warm.
Printable recipe here
Photos by Zachary Cross
I love Indian food and saag paneer is one of my favorite dishes. I was always disappointed with the amount of paneer I would receive at restaurants. I was so excited to find out that I could easily make this dish at home.
One Christmas we received Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian as a gift. We had not heard of Jaffrey before this but she is a distinguished actress, from Merchant Ivory films (she and her former husband are credited with bringing together Merchant and Ivory), to, more recently, an episode of New Girl. While living in London in the 1950s she was disgusted by the food, both British and Indian, available at the time. She asked her mother for recipes from home and learned to cook them, improvising with available ingredients.
Thanks to publicity that went along with her first feature film, Shakespeare-Wallah, she was known as the “actress who can (also) cook”. She began writing cookbooks to help support her family and now is the author of at least thirty of them. Many of them are primarily Indian food, but World Vegetarian, as the name implies, has recipes from around the world. It’s organized first by chapters highlighting vegetarian ingredients, followed by chapters on types of dishes.
Cheese can be a challenging food to make, with many steps. There are many types of cheeses, though, and some are fairly simple to make. Cottage cheese, farmer’s cheese, queso blanco, and paneer are some of those. All you need are milk and an acid for paneer. Some people use lemon or lime juice, others, vinegar. This recipe calls for distilled white (I assume because of the lack of taste) but I always use unseasoned rice or white wine vinegar. I’ve always used cow’s milk, originally pasteurized and homogenized from the store, but now from my milk share. I understand that water buffalo and goat milk have been used as well, so if your milk of choice is goat you should be able to use that. You may want to Google for more information as I do not have any experience with it, though. If you are dairy-free you can substitute tofu for the paneer. I have made it that way and it is good, but I prefer paneer.
Saag paneer is a dish we typically associate with spinach, but saag is a word used for all greens and palak is the Hindi word for spinach. This is a dish made with whatever greens are available and/or preferred, making it a perfect market dish in the cooler months. Mustard is a traditional green used and often what we use, in combination with spinach, when we have it. Mustard is spicy when raw or lightly cooked but when long cooked it loses its heat and instead adds a depth of flavor that plain spinach lacks.
Although we have not used fenugreek leaves, we have otherwise made this recipe exactly as written. But it does lend itself well to variations, and not just in the greens - and that is how we usually make it. We make it very mild for our family but you can increase the heat to taste, either during cooking or at the table. I do not add the cornmeal any longer and have not noticed a difference myself. We use canned tomatoes in winter, and fresh in the warmer months. We rarely use the cinnamon but we might add additional spices such as curry leaves, basil, fenugreek powder (from the seeds), and toasted mustard seeds.
When it is time to mash or blend the saag, think about how you prefer it and choose a method that matches that. Many restaurants blend theirs to nearly a fine puree, probably accomplished with a blender. I prefer the texture well mashed with a potato masher, or an immersion blender used sparingly.
Serve this dish with rice or flatbread. Jeffrey made a split pea dahl to go with our supper and one of the kids topped their saag paneer with it. Not a traditional way to eat it but it makes a lovely photograph!
From Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian via Food.com
2 quarts rich whole milk
3-4 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
Put the milk in a large, heavy pan and set over medium-high heat.
Meanwhile, place a colander in the sink and line it with a clean dish towel or 3-4 layers of cheesecloth at least 24 inches square.
When the milk begins to boil, turn the heat down to low. Quickly add 3 tablespoons of the vinegar and stir. The mixture will curdle at this point, the thin, greenish whey completely separating from the white fluffy curds. If this does NOT happen, add the remaining tablespoon of vinegar and repeat the process.
Empty the mixture into the lined colander. Most of the whey will drain out.
To make small patty: allow most of the whey to drain out of the colander. As soon as the curds have drained, gather up the ends of the cheesecloth and twist to squeeze out as much water as possible. You will now have a round bundle and a well-twisted section of cloth just above it, which you can tie firmly with string or just leave tightly twisted.
Lay the cloth and its contents on a flat board set in the sink. Flatten the bundle into a pastry shape, making sure that the twisted section or knot holds the cheese in place. This section can be folded over to one side. Put another board on top of the patty. Now put a 5-pound weight on the patty and press for 3-4 minutes. The cheese is now ready. It may be unwrapped, covered with a clean, damp cloth, and kept in the refrigerator for 24 hour but is best if used immediately.
Cut Paneer into 1 x 3/4-inch cubes. Set aside until last step in recipe.
1 ¾ lbs fresh spinach, trimmed, washed, and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves or 2 -3 handfuls of fresh fenugreek leaves (optional)
1 fresh hot green chili pepper, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon cornmeal
3 tablespoons peanut oil or 3 tablespoons canola oil
¼ cup onion, finely chopped
1 ½ by 1-inch fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated to a pulp
1 cup tomatoes, finely chopped
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
1 ½-2 teaspoons ground roasted cumin seeds (Put a few tablespoons of cumin seeds in a small cast-iron frying pan over medium-high heat, stirred )
¼ teaspoon cayenne
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Bring 1 cup of water to boil in a large pan. Put in the washed spinach, dried or fresh fenugreek leaves, if using, and green chile. Cover the pan and cook gently for 25 minutes.
Blend or mash the spinach until you have a coarse puree. Blend in the cornmeal and cook gently for another 5 minutes, stirring now and then.
In a separate frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion and stir and fry until it begins to brown.
Add the ginger and stir once or twice, then add the tomatoes and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the texture thickens and the color of the tomatoes intensifies.
Stir the tomato mixture into the spinach mixture, then add the salt, roasted cumin, cayenne, and cinnamon and stir to mix.
Cook gently for 5 minutes.
Finally, add the cubed paneer, stir gently, and cook, covered, on low heat for 5 minutes. Serve hot.
Photos by Zachary Cross
This recipe is possibly the fastest this month. It’s a twist on tacos or burritos, a Mexican-style filling in sweet potatoes instead of a tortilla.
Sweet potatoes have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity, and are not merely the ingredient in a holiday casserole topped with marshmallows. Followers of the Paleo diet use them in place of Irish potatoes or cut into various types of noodles, among other uses. Unlike traditional white potatoes that are members of the nightshade family (which include tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant), sweet potatoes are related to morning glories. Also different from the Irish potato, sweet potatoes have edible greens. And though the sweet potato roots have a long storage time, the greens have a pretty short shelf life, so look for them around harvest time in fall - or ask a farmer about availability.
Sweet potatoes are not only the familiar dark orange “yams” (they’re not yams at all, but that’s a common name for them), but are also white, purple, and a more yellow-orange. I find the flavors all different but similar and have a hard time describing the differences. Note that a white sweet potato tastes very little like an Irish potato. It seems sweeter to me than an orange one, and drier, though still more moist than a regular potato.
This recipe was originally published in the October issue of Real Simple, probably reaching subscribers in September. It’s a time when summer and fall vegetables overlap. So this recipe has not only sweet potatoes but it also has zucchini in the filling. I made this in December when zucchini is long gone. I did not want to replace it with a squash such as butternut; that seems too similar to the orange sweet potato to me. Acorn squash are pretty neutral, both in color and flavor so I went with a half an acorn squash to replace the zucchini. It worked well, though it was a bit more prep to peel and seed.
Real Simple says to be sure to save any leftovers for future tacos or nachos. This is a yummy recipe but if you want any leftovers be sure to double the recipe at least! We ate it all for supper and could have used some more.
To make this a quick supper Real Simple recommends cooking your sweet potatoes in the microwave. I find they cook unevenly and dry out in the microwave. An excellent alternative if you don’t have time to cook them in the oven is to use a slow cooker. Both Irish potatoes and sweet potatoes cook well all day on low in a slow cooker. Some of my family members prefer regular potatoes over sweet so I put sweet potatoes in the bottom of my slow cooker and white potatoes on top. I figured the sweet potatoes would create the most juice and it would be preferable for them to be on bottom. Some suggestions I found online said to poke holes in them or wrap in foil but I did neither. At the end of they day they were perfect! I think I prefer them that way to baked in the oven. If you have multiple slow cookers you can also cook black beans instead of using canned, making it possible to use another product I see at market sometimes: dried beans. There are also tricks and tips online for using one slow cooker to make more than one dish at a time, usually using foil or slow cooker bags, but alternately oven-proof dishes.
However you cook your potatoes and beans, the rest of the recipe is a quick sauté. I snubbed cayenne and chose cumin instead - and added a little more. All-around this a pretty basic, simple recipe.
Adapted from Zucchini and Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
4 medium sweet potatoes (about 8 oz. each)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ acorn squash (about 8 oz.), peeled and chopped
1 cup sliced yellow onion
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (add or substitute ½ tsp ground cumin, to taste)
1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 ounces white Cheddar cheese, shredded (about ½ cup)
sour cream, cilantro, lime wedges, and green salad, for serving
Photos by Zachary Cross
I was pretty disappointed in this recipe at first. It seemed to make a potentially simple recipe way too hard and the taste was so-so as well. I was sad at the thought of having a fail!
It didn’t help that I did not have a whole chicken to work with like I thought I did. Part of the appeal of the original recipe I worked with, Chicken “Under a Brick”, is to butterfly the chicken and brown it nicely in order to speed up the cooking time - not necessary with the chicken drumsticks and thighs I did have. I did go ahead brown the chicken in the skillet before adding the veggies, then baked as directed. I suppose because I had browned it the chicken was done but the vegetables were not quite done. It was okay, but not more than okay and overall result was definitely not worth the effort of butterflying a chicken and browning it. Also, I loved the flavor of the coriander but it was not enough.
When it came down to it the recipe is pretty similar to a Chicken Broccoli Bake I’ve made before. The Chicken Broccoli Bake is definitely quick, easy, and in one pan (though not a skillet). In fact I think my daughter was the first person in our house to make it. I had all the ingredients on hand, planned to make it for supper, then came down with a virus. My daughter came to the rescue and we were still able to eat a good supper that night. I’ve made it several times since then, though it’s a very basic recipe and I’ve wondered how I could improve it while keeping things simple.
I tried again by combining elements of both recipes - it seemed like it had the potential to be tasty that way. I doubled the coriander and used a bit of garlic olive oil (olive oil with roasted garlic stored in it). I used melted palm oil for the rest of my oil. I didn’t bother browning the chicken but I did rub it with the salt, pepper and 1 teaspoon coriander. Including broccoli as well as mushrooms made for a nice color contrast. I mixed the veggies separately with oil and remaining seasonings, spread them in a large jellyroll pan, and placed the chicken drumsticks and thighs on top. I baked a little longer than directed and this time both the veggies and the chicken were done at the same time.
The flavor was so much better! Using a jelly roll pan instead of a skillet or 9 x 13 pan (as in the Chicken Broccoli Bake) let the juices evaporate - but not too much. This helped the vegetables caramelize nicely instead of steaming as they did in my other attempts.
Mushrooms were scarce at the market when I made this so I used the baby portobellos called for. I think other types of mushrooms would work well and I hope to get to try it with shiitakes soon.
This recipe also works with one to two pounds of tofu in place of the chicken. Start with a pound, see if it looks like enough to suit you, then cut up your second pound if it’s not. Jeffrey preferred less tofu over more. Use more oil, up to ½ cup total, and season the tofu separately to keep it from breaking too much. I also tried sautéing the tofu version and that worked well. You’d need to halve the recipe or use more than one pan for a stovetop version but if you’d prefer working with a stove rather than the oven know that’s an option.
This is such a pretty recipe with all the color and shape contrasts. Arrange the vegetables in a lovely pattern or mix them up willy nilly - it will all taste good and still be attractive.
Inspired by Chicken Under a Brick from Real Simple
And Chicken Broccoli Bake from Our Paleo Life
8 chicken legs and/or thighs
¼ cup olive or melted palm oil, divided
2 teaspoons ground coriander, divided
½ teaspoon pepper, divided
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 large onion, divided into 12 wedges
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
4 oz baby portobello mushrooms, halved
1 small head of broccoli, divided into florets, stalks peeled and cubed
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
Preheat oven to 400°. Rub with 1 tablespoon of the oil and sprinkle evenly with 1 teaspoon coriander, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and ½ teaspoon of the salt. Set aside.
Toss together the onion, sweet potato, mushrooms, garlic, and the remaining oil and salt. Arrange the vegetables in a single layer in a 16" x 12" jellyroll pan. Place the chicken skin side up on the vegetables. Bake in oven until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender and lightly browned, about one hour. Serve sprinkled with the oregano.
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