Welcome to the second week of the 2013 Groundswell CSA season!
I am the second of three individuals blogging for the CSA this season and my bio is simple; married, working mother of a 4-year-old boy, focused on seasonal, locally sourced, organic foods, minimally processed and on the table, “right now, please, mama”!!
While I have a culinary education, and can’t resist creative dishes, limited time dictates simplicity. This is our 11th year participating in a CSA and I have learned a number of tricks along the way. My goal is to share some timesaver tips with you to help turn your weekly mountain of vegetables into healthy tasty meals, in a timely fashion.
I realize not every member of Groundswell is pressed for time due to family obligations and some of you may have time to linger and enjoy your evening kitchen ritual (wistful sigh); hats off to you! I will try to include a few recipes along the way that may be more to your liking, but please do not hesitate to share a recipe from your collection as well, and let us all live vicariously thru your culinary feats! Simply use the “Share Your Recipes” tab on the bar at the top of the blog.
A couple disclaimers:
I fly by the seat of my pants in the kitchen, based on my mood and what is on hand, (as my mother would say, “Improvise!”). So, my recipes are adaptations that continue to evolve and change. Simply put, they are very flexible so please be creative and modify to your taste as well and share your experience by using the “Leave a Reply” area at the bottom page of this blog.
Also, in a perfect world there would be lemons/limes growing in my back yard and a rice paddy field out front. While we strive to buy locally produced foods, we also know that in order to enjoy the locally produced foods that ARE available, sometimes we have to go out of our geographical area to get a complimenting ingredient.
Last but not least, I have been known to eat a pop tart and greatly enjoy it…. great, glad we got that out in the open.
Since it is spring, we will be enjoying many different greens, including cooking greens and herbs. These easily transform into salads and stir-fries. The key to speeding up time in the kitchen leading up to dinner is to pre-prep dressings, sauces and rice. For me, the CSA season always starts with a few weekly rituals. First, I take 15 minutes on Sunday and prepare a dressing for salads and a sauce for stir-fries. They can both be doubled to cover a few meals and will last two weeks so they can extend into the next week, if needed. I also prepare a pot of brown rice (or basmati, occasionally) to cover two meals as well. Stir fry dishes can become labor intensive between the vegetable chopping, prep for rice and making a sauce. If the sauce and rice are done, you are half way there! These are some of our favorites:
(adapted from BonAppetit)
This is my “go-to” salad dressing. It would make a piece of cardboard taste fantastic…seriously, it is that good. I use it on a simple bed of mixed greens and add nuts, fresh or dried fruit, blue cheese or feta and sometimes cooked wheat berries. Use whatever you have that sounds like an interesting combination of sweet, salty and tangy. The key is the balance of vinegar, honey, mustard and oil, so try to stay close to the measurements. Minced chives make a great substitute for the shallots, but feel free to omit the shallots if you are not a fan.
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. honey
1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/3 cup grape seed oil (vegetable oil will do just fine, too)
1 Tbsp. finely chopped shallot
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Whisk the first three ingredients in a medium size bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add shallots, if using. Store/use for up to two weeks.
(adapted from FineCooking.com)
This dressing makes great use of the herbs oregano and cilantro. You can put this on anything from a standard mixed green salad to baked potatoes loaded with veggies. In my photo below (click on it to enlarge), I have combined cubed, steamed potatoes, lightly sautéed corn and red pepper (the last of my frozen stash from last summer!) and topped it with this dressing. Add some grated cheddar and the kids will love it! In fact, you will find yourself searching around for ANYTHING to put it on when you have a craving. The key here is the toasted cumin seeds and the fresh lime.
3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. minced fresh oregano
2 tsp. minced fresh cilantro
1-1/2 tsp. cumin seeds, lightly toasted and ground
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
Place the cumin seeds on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan and place in preheated oven at 300 degrees. Toast for 7-10 minutes, checking to make sure they aren’t burning. Cool on a separate plate. When fully cooled, grind and set aside. This can be done days ahead of time. I use toasted/ground cumin in a lot of dishes so I keep a fair amount on hand. It can really pep up a fried egg sandwich, any veggie dish or hamburgers!
Whisk together the lime juice, sour cream and mayonnaise. Add the oil, starting with 1/8 cup and only adding until the consistency is correct for your final use of the dressing. For example, I use more oil when I am going to use the dressing for greens than I do when I am going to mix it with potatoes. Add the garlic, oregano, cilantro, cumin seeds and mix gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Store/use for up to two weeks.
Bok Choy Stir-Fry in Marmalade Sauce
(adapted from Vegetariantimes.com)
Serves 4, but can be increased by adding more rice, veggies, tofu or chicken; you won’t need to double the sauce.
As far as stir-fry sauces are concerned, this recipe is tried and true. It is perfect for this time of the year as we are enjoying bok choy, however, I make it all summer long and use it to dress any stir-fried veggies. The marmalade adds a citrusy brightness with just a hint of sweetness that goes well with any greens, broccoli, snow peas, red peppers…. and the list goes on! For added protein, you can add tofu or cubed chicken. See notes at the end about additional cooking time for adding raw chicken to the dish.
The keys to a successful stir-fry are: have ALL ingredients chopped, measured and ready to go; keep your wok or skillet hot and don’t stop stirring!
1/2 cup orange marmalade
4 Tbs. soy sauce
2 tsp. cornstarch
4 Tbs. water
2 Tbs. peanut oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 hot chiles finely chopped or 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (this is mild; add or pull back based on your tolerance to heat)
1 lb or fairly large head of bok choy, cut into 1-inch lengths (5 cups)
1/3 cup toasted unsalted cashews or peanuts (this is optional, the recipe is still great w/o)
2 cups drained and cubed tofu (two 8 oz. packages)
2 cups cooked cubed chicken
2 cups raw cubed chicken
Carrots and red pepper, when in season, go well too!
If you pre-prepped your rice, pull it out of the fridge now to let it begin to come to room temp. Otherwise, make 1-1/2 cups brown or basmati rice, following your package instructions.
Whisk together marmalade, soy sauce, cornstarch and the 4Tbs of water. As noted earlier in my post, this can be made days ahead of time. Set aside.
Heat wok (I prefer an iron skillet) to high heat, until water droplets evaporate within 1 second. Add oil, then garlic and ginger. Stir-fry 2 minutes. Incidentally, in case you didn’t know, stir-fry means exactly that, stir while it is frying!! Add chiles and if using tofu or cooked chicken, toss it in now. Stir-fry for about 3 minutes, or until tofu cubes are brown or chicken is heated thru. Add bok choy, and stir-fry for 2 minutes or until bok choy starts to soften. Here is where the pre-cooked rice comes in handy. Pour your desired quantity of rice over top of the veggies and then pour the sauce on top, starting with just half of your sauce and adding as needed to fully coat the rice and veggies. You may not need all of the sauce, depending on whether you added additional veggies/tofu/chicken. Save it for another dish later in the week. Stir gently to make sure all veggies/meat are coated with the sauce. Heat thru for 1-2 minutes. Serve sprinkled with toasted cashews or peanuts.
NOTES: If using raw chicken, cube it and add to the pan at the same time as the garlic and ginger. You will need to increase the cooking time to 3-4 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink and is lightly browned. Continue with the rest of the recipe.
Potato, Swiss Chard and Cheese Latkes
makes about 10-12
My neighbor, Steph Harding, a good friend and wonderful cook, got me hooked on these and now I am obsessed! I am embarrassed to admit that I made them last week and ate 7 of them in one sitting!! My son declared he was not interested until I topped one with a dollop of sour cream and then he dove in and exclaimed, “Mama, I DO like Latkes!” (sour cream is my friend.)
2 large russet potatoes (any starchy potato will work)
15 medium stems of swiss chard, stems removed and leaves finely chopped (when you are done chopping, the pile of swiss chard should be about 1/2 to 3/4 the size of the grated potatoes, but no worries if you have more or less)
Herbs – any herbs you wish to add, I used chives, finely snipped
1/3 cup Feta cheese, broken up (you could use any kind of cheese to your liking)
salt & pepper
Wash the potatoes, leave the skins on, and run them thru your food processor, using the blade specifically made for grating. You can grate by hand, but it takes mere minutes in the food processor. Place the potatoes in a colander, give a good rinse to get the extra starch removed, and then press down on the potatoes to remove access water. I then put them on a towel, wrap them up and squeeze out any remaining water. This is an important step so they crisp up when cooked. Place in a large kitchen bowl.
Wash the swiss chard and remove the stems, setting them aside for use in a stir-fry. Finely chop the leaves and add to the bowl of potatoes. Also add the chopped herbs and feta cheese, stirring until evenly distributed.
Beat the eggs with a fork until foamy. Add a pinch of salt and grind some pepper in, to your taste. You can add some Frank’s Hot Sauce or Sriracha chili sauce if you want to zip it up! Pour over the potato mixture and gently fold the eggs in, until everything is evenly coated with the egg mixture.
Preheat your iron skillet or nonstick griddle for this one. I have read about the dangers of nonstick, however for this dish nonstick makes it super easy to cook them and clean up. Heat till water droplets sizzle and evaporate. Run a chunk of butter around the griddle to fully cover it with a coat of butter. Let that sit for about a minute before adding spoonfuls of the potato mixture, flattening each with a spatula so they cook evenly. I used a lid to one of my pots to partially cover the latkes in order to increase the heat and get them to cook faster. If done in an iron skillet they would cook faster, but the trade off is that they stick more readily. If you chose to use an iron skillet, use oil instead of butter to get a thin film of grease across the skillet.
Flip when they are fully set and looking crunchy on the first side. Allow to cook till crunchy on the second side. Remove from griddle and serve immediately with a dollop of sour cream and snipped herbs. You could also serve them with some of Annie’s Organic Ketchup and the kids will gobble them down!
My final recipe for the week is a bit of a wild card and one of my favorites for a number of reasons. Who doesn’t love pizza? The dough is made 24 hours in advance, which allows for it to be a no-knead dough that is completely fool-proof. The toppings are completely flexible; just use whatever you have, leftovers work best! If you double the dough, you can get 2 large pizzas, (9″ x 11″ each) which works for dinner and then leftovers for lunch the next day. The shortcuts are: 1) pre-sauté the veggies and meat (if you do a stir-fry the night before, just throw extra veggies and meat in the pan and fish them out prior to adding your sauce), 2) keep a jar of homemade pesto or BBQ sauce on hand (you can use any favorite store bought sauce) and 3) grate the block of cheese beforehand. With these items pre-prepped, it is a 15 minute assembly job the night you serve it. If you aren’t into making your own dough, any store bought version works, or throw it all on a lightly toasted English muffin, bagel or tortilla shell and run it under the broiler….pizza is served!
Kale, Cheddar Cheese and BBQ Sauce Pizza
(adapted from Pizza on the Grill, by Karmel and Blumer)
makes (1) 9″ x 11″ crust
3 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour (I use unbleached white, see note below for using variations of wheat/white)
1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
3/4 tsp. salt
1-1/4 cups milk (I use raw milk, so full fat, but the original recipe calls for 2%)
2 Tbs. olive oil, plus more for the bowl
Polenta (also know as coarse-ground cornmeal or corn grits) for sprinkling on the baking sheet; this is a KEY ingredient as it gives the pizza a wonderful rustic texture!
Toppings (this is a great sweet/salty combination, but be creative and use whatever veggies/sauce/cheese you like!)
1/4-1/2 cup BBQ sauce (you can use whatever you have; pesto/pasta sauce/olive oil)
1/2 lb. ground sausage, cooked and drained
10 Kale leaves, stems removed and discarded, leaves finely chopped and sautéed in oil (or bacon fat if you have it! Yummmm!)
The dough must be made 24 hours in advance to allow for fermentation, which eliminates the whole kneading process (have you ever found yourself wondering “Did I knead it enough, too long, too hard, is it going to rise?” The fermentation eliminates all the guesswork.
Pour a little oil into a large mixing bowl and using a paper towel wipe it around to lightly coat the bowl. Set aside. Whisk the flour, yeast and salt together in your mixer stand bowl, then pour in the milk and oil. Using the dough hook, turn the mixer on low for a minute to get it started. Stop to scrape down the sides and then let it run on low for another minute, scraping down the sides again to get the flour incorporated. Then run the mixer for about 3-4 more minutes until the flour is fully incorporated and the dough is clinging to the dough hook. Turn off the machine, scrape the dough into the oiled bowl. Don’t worry if it is sticky; you can’t overmix, undermix or mess this up! Flip the ball of dough around a couple times in the bowl to coat it with the oil and then cover with whatever lid you have for the bowl or plastic wrap and then a clean towel on top. Allow the dough to sit undisturbed and at room temperature for 24 hours. I make this the night before serving and leave it on my kitchen counter.
About 3 hours before you want to use it, turn the dough once in the bowl (gather the ball of dough, and turn it around so that the air escapes). This allows for another opportunity for the dough to rise a bit. If your schedule doesn’t allow for this step, then just turn it in the morning before you leave.
When you are ready to make the pizza, preheat the oven to 450 degrees and position the rack in the center of the oven. You can divide the dough to make smaller pizzas or make one large pizza. Using a cookie sheet pan, sprinkle the polenta to lightly cover the pan. With flour-covered hands (keeps it from sticking) gather the dough into a ball and work it into a flat disc and then stretch it into a rectangular shape, about 6 x 9. Then lay it into the pan of polenta and slowly stretch it out to the full 9 x 11 size. It may try to shrink up, which is okay, just leave it be for a minute and let it relax. Then stretch it again. You can go thinner and larger than 9 x 11, but don’t go much smaller as it will be doughy and will not cook evenly.
Once the dough is secured on the polenta/pan, start spreading your sauce, going as thick/thin as you prefer. Then add the meat, sautéed kale and finally the cheese. Bake for 10 minutes and check to see if the bottom of the crust is getting brown and also if the cheese is melted to your liking. Depending on your oven, (they all cook differently) you may need to bake a few minutes longer.
Remove the pizza, immediately transfer to a cutting board and using a pizza cutter slice and dice it down to a bunch of squares. It is important to cut the pizza immediately, or the cheese cools and the toppings come off/apart when cutting. Enjoy!
Notes: You can play around with the flour to make the crust healthier by variations of swapping wheat flour or spelt for the white flour, but my experience is that it doesn’t rise quite as much and is denser/heavier. This is not a bad thing, if the toppings are matched appropriately. I guess I just believe that pizza is a treat and should be, well….not fat-free and the healthiest dish in your arsenal. One thing to remember, if you are serving this to children; a kale pizza on a fully risen, chewy crust with lots of gooey cheese is going to be cheered, as opposed to a heavy wheat crust with minimal cheese. Just sayin….pick your battles.
Thanks much for checking in to the Groundswell blog and considering these recipes for your pick-up this week. I hope some of them become your favorites as well!
See you in a couple weeks!