Tuesday, June 16, 2009
As you may have noticed, I've been suffering with a bout of uninspired cooking, which coupled with busy days has resulted in fewer and fewer posts. To remedy this situation, I've signed up for a CSA to force me to step outside my fall-back meals and try some new things. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and is a program where consumers buy "shares" of a farm's harvest before the season begins (I paid for mine in full in April), providing funds that help the farmers to plant and maintain their fields, and then pick up their shares as the produce reaches its peak. If you'd like more information on CSAs, or to find local farmers markets, click here.
My CSA comes from One Straw Farm, an organic farm less than 3 miles from my house. Once a week, I make a pickup. Since this was my first one, I wasn't sure what to expect. I was greeted with massive quantities of the freshest produce, sure to improve my vitamin intake!
Keep in mind this is one full share for just one week! This week's share included 1 bunch each of collard greens, curly kale, red chard, yellow chard, arugula, red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, and romaine lettuce. Also included was a bunch of wacky looking garlic scapes (new to me), a small head of cabbage and 2 pints of super sweet Maryland strawberries.
So what to do with all of this bounty? The lettuce of course has been devoted to salads, one of which was a lovely vietnamese concoction topped with noodles and shrimp, inspired by Nim Chow. The chard was blanched and became a star player in a creamy mushroom, sausage and orzo gratin - recipe to come.
I have big plans for the collards and kale, braised with ham hocks to go alongside barbecued chicken and cheddar scallion biscuits. The cabbage will probably end up in cabbage & noodles - a favorite around here.
The strawberries begged to be vibrant strawberry ice cream - this time I modified my previous recipe and used port instead of creme de menthe. It's the best strawberry ice cream you can imagine. (Recipe below)
The biggest conundrum was what to do with those funky, curly garlic scapes. Some of them ended up chopped fine in an omelet. The rest made their way into a pesto with peppery arugula and pistachios. It's great for pasta, as pizza sauce or for a sandwich spread. See the recipe below.
Strawberry Ice Cream with Port
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup port
1/2 cup 1% milk
1 vanilla bean, split and seeded
14 oz. freshly picked strawberries, washed and hulled (please, please seek out local ones - don't buy from across the country!)
Whisk eggs and sugar together in a heat proof bowl until well combined. Heat cream, port, milk and vanilla bean with seeds over medium heat in a heavy saucepan until mixture reaches a simmer. Remove pod of vanilla bean and reserve for another application. Slowly, whisking constantly, add warm mixture to the egg mixture in a thin stream, tempering the eggs. Return to the pan and bring mixture up to 175 degrees F while whisking. The mixture should thicken significantly- you've made a creme anglaise. Let cool to room temperature.
Combine strawberries and creme anglaise in a blender. Blend until well combined and chill overnight. Freeze according to the manufacturer's directions in an ice cream maker.
Garlic Scape and Arugula Pesto
1 bunch garlic scapes (about 6 large)
1 small bunch of arugula, washed and dried
1/2 cup roasted & shelled pistachios
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmeggiano reggiano
1/2 cup grated pecorino romano
1/4 cup good extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Buzz garlic scapes and arugula in a food processor until well chopped. Add remaining ingredients and buzz in remaining ingredients until well combined. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week or freeze for up to 6 months before using.