Tonight: eat your corn.
Don't wait till tomorrow. And please don’t tell us if you wait until even the next day. The sooner you eat this corn, the better. We grow varieties meant for fresh
eating, not for holding their sweetness as they're shipped from the South or
California to the Northeast. The corn we grow is meant to go from field to
table. The longer the corn is stored, the more the sugar in the corn turns to
starch. Tender to the tooth and with true corn flavor, this week’s variety is just enough but not too too sweet.
If you can't prepare it tonight, wrap it in damp dishtowels (clean) or
even newspaper, tuck in a plastic bag, wrap tight or seal, and stash in your
fridge's produce bin. That's the best way to store it.
Another corn-related suggestion: when picking up your corn at today’s distribution, please don't rip the ears open. This is a CSA, not a farmers' market. We pick enough for everyone but not a whole lot more than that. (In fact, at some distribution sites, where membership is small, we send exact amounts on most things.) So any corn you tear open and toss aside is corn that some other member ultimately has to take home. THIS IS ORGANIC CORN. NOTHING HAS BEEN SPRAYED ON IT. Absolutely nothing. So there is a chance you'll get an ear with a corn earworm—usually found towards the tip of the ear. In the course of this weekend, when we cooked a lot of corn for friends and family who were visiting, we probably found 1 worm in about every dozen ears cooked. They’re not a big deal. If you come across one, take a large, strong knife, like a chef's knife, and simply cut the tip off the corn (or the section where the worm has dined). Discard what you've cut away and enjoy the rest.
Similarly, this week you're going to see some less than picture-perfect
tomatoes. As a general rule of thumb, these are the tastiest of the batch,
as these are heirloom varieties. Heirlooms are not meant to look like the
perfectly uniform, candy-red tomatoes you see in the supermarket. They're
old-fashioned tomatoes regarded for their supreme flavor. They don't tend to ripen to a uniform red. Some aren't even supposed to be red, like the Pink
Beauties you see in this photo. Heirlooms can appear misshapen, they often
have cracks by the stem, but boy do they taste good.
As with the corn, we kindly ask that you don't overly handle the
tomatoes at distribution—squeezing one after the other to find the ripest of the lot. If you pick one up that's still on the firm side, consider this a long-term
asset. Left out on your countertop, it will be at its peak ripeness in a few
days when the riper others in your share have passed their time.
Tomatoes should be stored on the countertop. Refrigeration makes them mushy. If you've only used half of a tomato, store slice-side down on a plate and, if you like, cover with a bowl.
IN THIS WEEK'S SHARE:
6 ears of sweet corn
5 ½ ounces salad mix
1 Japanese eggplant
1 red onion
1 bunch swiss chard
1 bunch carrots
2 sweet Italian frying pepper
If you haven’t been eating a carrot (or two) a day, take the challenge. Even as a late-morning snack. It’ll make you feel good. If you’re still behind on using your carrots and are loathe to turn on the oven and roast some with supper or bake some carrot cake for dessert, why not pickles? We liked this recipe for its simplicity. There are others, including one we plan to try this week from Thomas Keller’s book Ad Hoc at Home, that makes use of the jalapeño in this week’s share—in case you don’t use it to make in the salsa recipe below.
Pickled Carrot Sticks
from Gourmet | November 2003; originally published November 1985
Zanne Stewart, Gourmet's executive food editor, originally developed these carrot sticks to take on a picnic, but they were such a hit they've become a staple in her refrigerator. Best of all, they don't need to be sealed in sterilized jars, so they're a snap to make.
Yield: Makes 10 to 12 servings
1 pound carrots, cut into 3 1/2- by 1/3-inch sticks
1 1/4 cups water
1 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
2 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
1 1/2 tablespoons dill seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
Blanch carrots in a 4-quart nonreactive saucepan of boiling salted water 1 minute, then drain in a colander and rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Transfer carrots to a heatproof bowl.
Bring remaining ingredients to a boil in saucepan, then reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes. Pour pickling liquid over carrots and cool, uncovered. Chill carrots, covered, at least 1 day for flavors to develop.
Carrots keep, chilled in an airtight container, 1 month.
If you’re a vegetarian, skip the grilled chicken part of this recipe and serve over beans and rice or with quesadillas.
Grilled Chicken with Tomato, Lime & Cilantro Salsa
Adapted from a recipe by Jessica Bard in Fine Cooking magazine
This dish is also delicious served cold or at room temperature over salad greens. Serves four as a main course, six to eight as a “small plate.”
2 cups seeded, diced ripe tomatoes (2 to 3 medium tomatoes)
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
3 to 4 tablespoons finely diced red onion
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
Finely grated zest of 1 lime (about 1 tsp.)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. minced chipotle (from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (1-1/2 to 2 lb.)
Prepare a medium-hot grill fire.
In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, cilantro, scallions, lime juice, 1 Tbs. of the oil, and the lime zest. If your tomatoes aren’t perfectly ripe and sweet, add 1/2 tsp. sugar. Season with 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.
In another medium bowl, mix the chipotle, the remaining 2 Tbs. oil, 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper.
Trim the chicken. If the tenderloins are still attached, remove them and save for another use. Use the flat side of a meat mallet to pound each chicken breast to an even 1/2-inch thickness. Add the chicken to the chipotle mixture and toss well to coat.
When the grill is ready, lay the chicken on the hot grill grates and cook, covered, until the chicken has grill marks and the edges turn opaque, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the breasts and continue to cook until the chicken is cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes more.
Transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice each breast crosswise on the diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange the chicken on a platter and top with the salsa.
Make Ahead Tips
If you're serving at room temperature, the chicken can be grilled ahead. After grilling, let it cool for 20 minutes, refrigerate (for up to 8 hours), and slice just before serving with the salsa. The salsa ingredients may be prepared up to 2 hours ahead, but mix them together just before serving.
Yes, another week of eggplant. Some may be cheering. Others may be in need of something that takes this nutty, creamy vegetable a step further than just grilling or roasting (although that would be just great with a quick- sauce from this week’s tomatoes). Caponata--a sweet-and-sour Sicilian version of ratatouille--is the ticket. We like this recipe because it doesn’t involve the tedious step of salting your eggplant in advance, which we’ve never found all that necessary. Maybe that’s the difference between really fresh eggplant and not. It wouldn’t ruin the dish if you want to skip going out and buying celery. Try chopping up some of this week’s pepper instead.
Sicilian-Style Eggplant Caponata
Adapted from Wholefoods.com
Make sure to bring the caponata to room temperature before serving. It's delicious spooned onto bruschetta or pita chips.
3 cups chopped eggplant
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup celery, diced
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon capers, drained
3 tablespoons lightly toasted pine nuts
1 1/2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon natural cane sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon dried chile flakes, optional
Sea salt, to taste
1/4 cup green Sicilian olives, minced for garnish
Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss chopped eggplant with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt to taste. Place a piece of unbleached parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Spread eggplant in one layer over the parchment paper. Bake eggplant for 25 minutes or until tender.
Meanwhile, sauté onion, garlic and celery over medium heat in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil until onions are translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes and eggplant. Continue to cook for 3 minutes. Add capers, pine nuts, sugar, vinegar and chili flakes, if desired. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until tomatoes are tender and vegetables are melding together.
Season to taste with sea salt. Garnish with minced olives. Refrigerate for at least four hours or, even better, overnight.