Sunday, June 27, 2010

What's in the Box

Week Four:

Fingerling Potatoes
Garlic Scapes
Fava Beans
Black Kale
Walla Walla Onion

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fennel Risotto


1 Fennel Bulb
1/4 Onion
1 or 2 Cloves of Garlic
1 T Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Arborio Rice
2 T White Wine
4 Cups Broth
Black Pepper and Parmesan to taste

STEP 1 - Cut the fronds and base from the bulb. Quarter, and slice off the tough core at the bottom of the bulb. Chop into thin slices.

If you taste a piece of fennel you will notice that it has a strong licorice flavor. This made me a little nervous at first, but I discovered that the flavor mellows significantly when cooked.

STEP 2 - Heat the broth to not-quite-boiling. The traditional way is to use two pots on two burners, one for the broth and one for the rice. What I do is heat the broth in a Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave.

You won't use all 4 cups of the broth, but it's better to have too much than not enough. Also be aware that the broth will be a very prominent flavor in the final product, so be sure you use a broth you like.

STEP 3 - Dice a quarter onion and press a clove or two of garlic. Saute in a saucepan with a tablespoon of olive oil for a few minutes until the onion is clear. Add the fennel and saute a few minutes more until it's soft. Finally, add the arborio and stir it in until it's coated.

Arborio is a special type of starchy rice. It can be found in any grocery store. It's important to use this type and not substitute with "regular" rice.

STEP 4 - Pour in about 2 tablespoons of white wine. This picture is misleading, I'm not pouring the whole glass of wine in. I'm only splashing in a tablespoon or two - I'm drinking the rest.

STEP 5 - If your using the traditional two pot method, ladle a cup or so of hot broth on to the rice and stir constantly. If you're using the microwave method, pour a cup of hot broth from the Pyrex.

Keep stirring until the liquid evaporates and the mixture starts to thicken (about 4 minutes). Add more hot broth and continue stirring. Keep adding hot broth a half cup at a time every few minutes as the mixture thickens. You may need to put the Pyrex back in the microwave a few times to make sure the broth stays almost boiling.

After about 16 minutes or so, the rice will start to release its starch and the broth will begin to get creamy. At this point, take a small bite of the rice to see if it's "al dente". If not, add more broth, stir until thick, and taste again. Repeat this as often as necessary. I find the whole process usually takes a total 22-24 minutes from when I first add the broth.

Keep in mind that the risotto continues to cook a little after it's removed from the heat, so remove it from the heat just a bit before. Also, it thickens as it cools, so be sure that it's just a little bit too saucey when you finish.

Once done, add salt and pepper to taste. Lots of risotto recipes say to stir in cheese or cream at this point. I find the risotto creamy enough as is, so I just add a little parmesan on top.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

What's in the Box

Week Three:

Red Potatoes
Walla Walla Onion

Friday, June 18, 2010

We Got Beets!

First, Prepare the beets:

- Remove the beet from the greens.
- Slice off the tops and tips.
- Spray with oil.
- Wrap in tin foil.
- Bake about 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.

TIP - The beets are easier to peel after their baked.

TIP - Feel free to add garlic cloves, onion chunks, etc. to bake with beets.

While the beets are baking, wash the greens and cut the stems off - these are edible, don't throw them away! If you take a bite of a stem you'll notice they're tough and bitter. Here's the trick:

- Boil about two cups of water in a small saucepan.
- Add a tablespoon or two of salt (don't worry, you're not going to eat this much salt).
- Cut the stems into 1 inch lengths and add to boiling water.
- Boil for approximately 5 minutes (about the time it takes to coarsely chop the greens).
- Strain the salt water off and thoroughly rinse with cold water.

Take a bite now, and you'll notice that the stems are soft and not bitter at all!

In a saucepan on medium heat, saute the stems with just a just a splash (no more than a teaspoon or so) of each: red wine vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil.

After a few minutes, add the greens to the stems, cover, and remove from heat. You may wish to blanch the greens first (submerse in boiling water for 30 seconds then run under cold water) to prevent them from cooking down too much and to help preserve their color, but I usually skip that step.

After the beets are done baking (and have cooled a little), remove the skins, slice them, and toss them with the greens. Taste it to see if it needs any more soy sauce or vinegar.

The greens are the best part, in my opinion, and taste great by themselves. If I notice the greens going limp in the fridge, and I don't plan on cooking the beets yet, I'll cook just the greens and leave the beets for later.

I also use this method for preparing turnip greens.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

What's in the Box

Week Two:

Collard Greens
Bok Choy

Friday, June 11, 2010


One challenge I find with the CSA box is finding ways of preserving the veggies that I'm not able to eat right away.

For example, I know what to do with mint - Mojitos! But the amount of mint they put in the box is enough for 8 mojitos, which is about 6 more mojitos than I'm able to drink in a week.

So I'm trying an experiment: Sugar is a preservative, and simple syrup is an ingredient in my mojito recipe, so I decided to muddle enough mint for 2 mojitos in enough simple syrup for 2 mojitos and store it that way in the fridge.

The mint I used was already turning a little brown - so that's why the mint looks like this in the picture. I'll check on it in a week or so to see how it holds up.


After a couple of weeks, the mint turned brown. Not only that, but when I strained the mint out, the syrup was brown, too.

I made the mojito anyway. It tasted fine, but the color was unappetizing, and I missed having the actual mint in the cocktail.

So this doesn't work; good to know.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

What's in the Box

Week One:

Blue Potatoes
Pea Tops
White Turnips
Two varieties of Lettuce
Blueberry Preserves

Plus a bottle of wine: 2008 Pinot Gris