Tuesday, July 13, 2010

CSA Share Week 7

Soon after the terrific downpour we finally got on Sunday afternoon, this rainbow (in pic) appeared over the farmstead that sits across the street from us. It was the perfect conclusion to how we were all feeling—people and plants, alike. What a relief to get some drenching rain and a break from last week’s torrid heat. During the heat spell, we put as much irrigation (water) on things as we could. For the most part, everything in our fields held in there and has since rebounded. (And our hard-working staff is still standing too; we arranged days and afternoons off during the worst of it so no one overdid it or risked getting sick.) It was pretty critical that it rained when it did, as the plants were stressed. And hopefully we’ll continue to get some rain. (The rainbow was actually more spectacular than in the photo—a double rainbow no less. But by the time the camera and kids were feteched, it had begun to fade.)

We just got our issue of Fine Cooking magazine in the mail today, and, lo and behold, there’s a feature on zucchini written by Maryellen. Perfect timing. Kind of lost track of that article’s publication since most of the recipes were developed last summer, when the ingredients were in season and the weather right for the magazine to take outdoor photos. We’re not allowed to reprint the recipes in this newsletter this year (copyright agreement stuff), but do look for this issue at your local grocer’s or bookstore. A flip through it might tempt you enough to grab it off the shelf. There’s a recipe for tri-color zucchini ribbon salad with mint and olive vinaigrette, grilled zucchini with chive oil, and sautéed zucchini with za’atar and crispy chickpeas. There’s also a “hand pie” feature (not by Maryellen) we’re drooling over. Sweet and spicy fried peach pies(?!) and blackberry-apple turnovers we’ll surely try when blackberries come into season in late August at the berry farm in our neighborhood.

We’re starting to make plans for our Open House on Sunday, Sept. 12. We chose September for our Open House because there’s still plenty of your produce to see growing in the fields but the heat has mellowed and there’s something beautifully still about the air. Apples are coming into season, our barn is wafting with the smell of thousands of bulbs of cured garlic, … and besides, July is pure craziness here (we’re in overdrive) and August is when the fly population peaks, and we can’t begin to tell you how annoying they can be—especially if there’s a big picnic taking place. We’d love to have you come spend the day to relax and explore at the farm. We’d love to meet or re-meet you too!
In addition to visiting the farm for the day, here are a number of other places you can go while over this way:
Arkell Art Museum- Late 19th and early 20th century American paintings, public library, art gallery; www.arkellmuseum.org
Bellingers Orchard- U-Pick apple orchard with beautiful vista of the Mohawk Valley, addictive cider donuts made on the premises, www.bellingersorchard.com
Conbeers- small family farm with agri-tourism events in fall (no web site; we’ll provide more before the Open House weekend)


1 bunch small turnips (see recipe and tip)
1 bunch carrots (see tip)
12 to 13 ounces green beans
2 cucumbers
2 pounds zucchini (green or gold) or summer squash
1 cabbage
1 bulb of fresh garlic
1 bunch fresh onions or 1 cauliflower


We grow two kinds of zucchini—one is a deep, glossy green and the other a vivid gold color. Both can be used interchangeably in a recipe along with yellow crookneck summer squash and even the patty pans (the squat, dumpling-like yellow summer squash that are in limited supply this week). The crookneck squash tends to have more seeds inside, so you’ll want to slice it in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds before slicing or dicing.

Withering onion tops. You’ll probably notice that the fresh onions you’ve been getting are graduating into a new stage in which the green tops are starting to die back. Some of the green tops are still good; some are wilted or even a bit slimy. If wet or turning slimy, cut any of the latter off before storing the onions in your refrigerator. There’s nothing wrong with the onions; they were just harvested for this week’s share. They are simply preparing to become the topless kind with the papery outer layer that we all know best. We start leaving these onions in the field now until the tops are fully wilted and the onions have developed a dry outer skin. We then pull the onions out of the ground, let them cure briefly in the field, and then spread them inside our barn so that the outer skin layer further dries making the onion suited to storage.

Turnips While the turnips in this week’s share could be roasted or used in a stew, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how delicious these small turnips are in a salad. Trim off the ends and thinly slice into coins, like a radish. They’re well suited to Mediterranean flavors like in this week’s green bean and turnip salad recipe.

Carrots. The carrots in this week’s share are wonderfully aromatic; nothing like the cardboard-flavored carrots you get in your average supermarket. They’re fairly thin and their skin is thin too, so don’t bother peeling and wasting away any of the carrot (or the skin’s excellent nutrients). Just scrub lightly with a clean cloth or your hand under water before use.



Green Bean and Turnip Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette

The following is how we prepared the turnips for their dinner last night—using green beans, turnips and zucchini from this week’s share. One of our farmers' market customers inspired us to try the turnips in a salad; we were lapping our plates by the meal's end. The quantities for the main salad ingredients are approximate (kind of pulled together on the fly), so use your best judgment as to how much you’d like to make. The vinaigrette measurements are specific. If you add too much vinaigrette, no worries. It’ll pool to the bottom of the bowl.

For the vinaigrette:
3 Tbs. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. clover honey
1/4 tsp. cumin seeds, toasted, coarsely ground in a mortar and pestle
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 Tbs. canola oil

For the salad:
5 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil (plus more for pita strips)
¾ pound green beans
1 bunch turnips
½ of a zucchini, gold or green, sliced into thin half moons
about 3 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion tops
about 4 tablespoons chopped parsley
¼ cup diced tomato (optional)
1 small whole wheat pita

Fill a stockpot with enough water to comfortably cover the beans. Bring the water to a boil. Add the green beans and a large pinch of Kosher salt and let cook until the beans are bright green and slightly tender, about 3 minutes. Strain the beans in a colander. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl and cover with cold water until the beans are no longer warm. The beans can be made many hours ahead and kept in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

In a small mixing bowl or 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup, combine the vinegar, mustard, honey, and cumin seeds. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to evenly blend. Season with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Set aside.

Slice the pita into strips, about ½-inch wide. On a baking sheet, mound the strips, drizzle with a couple tablespoons of the olive oil and toss to coat. Spread evenly on the baking sheet and then toast under the broiler until golden brown and crispy (most likely just a few minutes, depending on your broiler).

Strain the beans from the cold water and dry out the bowl. Add the beans, turnips, zucchini, onions, parsley and tomato, if using, to the bowl. Add half the vinaigrette. Using tongs, toss and season with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Add more vinaigrette, as needed, and the pita strips. Toss and serve.

Recipe by Maryellen Driscoll, Free Bird Farm

Zucchini Oven Fries with Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce
Serves 4.

For the fries:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound medium zucchini, stem ends trimmed
¼ cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
¼ teaspoon table salt
¼ tsp. hot sauce, such as Tabasco
1 ½ cup plain dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
Kosher salt

For the sauce:
2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
2 Tbs. sour cream
1 Tbs. milk
1 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbs. minced flat-leaf parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400° F. Pour the olive oil onto a rimmed baking sheet or jelly roll pan, spreading evenly with a pastry brush.
Slice the zucchini into 3” long by 1/3” thick sticks.
In a medium bowl, whisk the milk or buttermilk, eggs, hot sauce and table salt to blend. Set aside.
In an 8”x8” baking pan, combine the bread crumbs and sesame seeds.
Set a cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Dip and coat the zucchini batons in the egg mixture and transfer onto the wire rack. Working in batches, place a handful of the batons in the pan of bread crumbs. Shimmy the pan back and forth to evenly coat.
Transfer the breaded sticks to the baking sheet and continue the breading process until all of the sticks are arranged on the baking sheet. [it might seem crowded, but the sticks will shrink as they cook]
Bake until the breaded zucchini sticks are golden brown on their undersides, about 12 minutes. Using a large metal spatula, turn the sticks and continue to bake until crispy and golden brown all over, about 12 minutes more.
Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate and serve immediately.

To make the sauce:
In a small mixing bowl, whisk the cheese, sour cream, milk and lemon juice until well combined. Depending on the consistency of the cheese you may need to mash some of the cheese with the back of a soup spoon to blend. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe by Maryellen Driscoll, Free Bird Farm

No comments: