Aug
12
    
Posted (Lori) in News

WEEK 10, TIPS/RECIPES: BASIL, SHAKSHOUKA, FOCCACIA, KALE, BEETS

There aren’t any new, unfamiliar vegetables in this week’s share, so I’m posting info about storing basil, passing on two of my faves (shakshuka and focaccia), and adding a few recipes from old newsletters.

BASIL

Several people asked about storing basil. I think we all know that it shouldn’t be stored in the refrigerator; basil turns black at temperatures under 50 degrees (something about ethelyne gas). I usually keep it in water, in a glass or small vase on the countertop. Some people suggested covering it with a plastic bag—so I experimented. I divided my basil into three bunches. I put one third into a glass of water; I cut the bottom off the stems every couple of days. The second bunch was placed in another glass of water, but I put a clear pastic bag with a few holes punched in it over the leaves. (The last bunch was eaten with tomatoes and cheese.) Both glasses of basil looked about the same on Friday, when I packed them and took them upstate with me. They looked wilted when I took them out, but as soon as I put them back in their respective glasses, they perked up. The bottoms of the plastic-covered basil were a bit mushy, so I cut those off.

Looking at both glasses on Monday morning—both look, smell, and taste fine. If there’s a difference, it’s minimal, and I’d say the one without the plastic looks better, but the one with the plastic is more fragrant. There are a few wilted leaves on each. I can’t see that the plastic bag made much difference—maybe it makes the basil last longer, but I’m using it up today, so I don’t care. Apologies to all the scientists in our group for the unscientific methods used here.

Basil can also be frozen; blanch it by throwing it into a pot of boiling water for a few seconds, then squeeze out the water, put it in ziplock bags and put in the freezer. It’s not as good when you take it out, but still worthwhile.

I’m NOT going to suggest infusing oil with basil—just too risky, unless you use it immediately.

Here are recipes for two dressings/sauces that use basil in large quantities:

Basil rouille:

Mince or finely grate 2 garlic cloves and transfer to a blender. Add ½ cup packed fresh basil leaves, 1.4 cup mayonnaise, 3 tablespoons oil, 2 anchovy filets, and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Purée until smooth. Great with fish or over tomatoes.

Pesto:

The classic use for basil and it freezes well. This recipe is from Ina Garten. It’s a big batch—about 4 cups—but can be cut in half. Cutting down further doesn’t blend very well. This recipe combines walnuts with pignoli. I don’t think you get real pesto taste unless you use at least some pignoli and it’s one of the only recipes on which I splurge for the ridiculously expensive nuts. I sometimes use slivered almonds instead of the walnuts.

1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves)
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Place the walnuts, pignolis, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.

Notes: Air is the enemy of pesto. For freezing, pack it in containers with a film of oil or plastic wrap directly on top with the air pressed out.

To clean basil, remove the leaves, swirl them in a bowl of water, and then spin them very dry in a salad spinner. Store them in a closed plastic bag with a slightly damp paper towel. As long as the leaves are dry they will stay green for several days.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/pesto-recipe/index.html?oc=linkback

FOCACCIA

This is one of those Eureka recipes. Simple, fast, versatile, delicious. There’s no salt in the dough, which is why it rises so quickly. It’s finished in about an hour, start to ready-to-eat with only about 15 minutes of active prep time.

It’s fine plain—but toppings turn it into a delicious full meal. Try it with ratatouille; braised greens; anchovies and cheese; olives and capers; carmelized onions. The topping should be warm or hot when spread; After spreading the topping, you can put it back into a warm oven for a few minutes.  I sometimes split the focaccia horizontally and use it for sandwiches, such as egg salad with thinly sliced radish or broiled zucchini, eggplant, pepper, and onion.

I found this recipe of Allrecipes, just sitting there among all the other recipes that are not as fantastic.

1 tsp white sugar

1 pkg (.25 ounce, 2 ¼ tsp) active dry yeast

1/3 cup warm water

2 cups flour

2 tbs. olive oil

1/2 tsp coarse salt

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve sugar and yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture with flour; stir well to combine. Stir in additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until all of the flour is absorbed. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly for about 1 minute.
  3. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F (245 degrees C).
  5. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface; knead briefly. Pat or roll the dough into a sheet and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Brush the dough with oil and sprinkle with salt.
  6. Bake focaccia in preheated oven for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on desired crispness. If you like it moist and fluffy, then you’ll have to wait just about 10 minutes. If you like it crunchier and darker in the outside, you may have to wait 20 minutes.

SHAKSHUKA (Shock-SHOE-kuh)

In Israel, and throughout the Middle East, this recipe is as common as mac ‘n’ cheese is in America. No one shops for the ingredients—you use what’s in the refrigerator. Tomatoes and eggs are the only constants. Lately, I’ve seen this dish popping up in recipe columns and restaurants, usually with complicated ingredient lists and instructions. But it can be made simply and with whatever you happen to have.

1. Heat oil in a large skillet (for a 4-serving recipe, an 11-inch skillet; for one or two servings, an 8 or 9-inch skillet is enough). Add chopped garlic, onion/leek/shallot/scallion and herbs/spices (cumin is often recommended) to flavor the oil. I’m not going to give quantities—use whatever feels right or whatever you happen to have). Saute for a minute or two.

2. Chop whatever vegetables you have and add to the mix; eggplant, summer squash, mushrooms, peppers, greens. If you’re using firmer vegetables, such as carrots, put them in first and give them more time. Eggplant also needs more time to lose its sponginess. The greens can be added in the last minute or two. Cook the vegetables, stirring every minute or so, until they are all soft. Add 1/4-½ cup of vegetable stock or water if it starts to stick.

3. Add two large tomatoes, chopped (about a pound for two servings, 2 pounds for 4 servings). Stir until the tomatoes lose their shape and the whole things because sauce-y. It needs to be fairly loose—add some broth/water if it’s too thick to hold the eggs that will be added in the last step.

Or, instead of adding fresh tomatoes, you can add about 3-4 cups of fresh or canned tomato sauce or tomatoes. It’s easier, but with all the fresh tomatoes we have, I would just use the fresh ones.

4. Add salt, pepper, and other herbs and spices to taste. Stir and adjust liquid. You might also add grated cheese at this point.

5. Crack one or two eggs for each serving into the hot mixture. The eggs will begin to set right away. It will take about 4-5 minutes until they are fully poached. By this time, the vegetable mixture will be firm as well. Cut into wedges and transfer to plates. Serve over couscous, rice, or another grain for a full meal.

You could also move the skillet into a pre-heated oven after adding the eggs, but I find that they poach just as well on top of the stove.

If you prefer to follow a more exact recipe, here is one from Melissa Clark, NYT:

http://www.nytimes.com/recipes/1014721/Shakshuka-with-Feta-.html

The following two recipes are from a newsletter from the 88th Street CSA

ALCHEMICAL KALE

from thekitchn.com

serves 2 to 4 as a side dish

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large bunch of kale, stripped of stems, washed and

drained in a colander

Salt

4 tablespoons tahini

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Choose a wide pan with sides, or a wok; either way,

having a lid that fi ts is important. Film the bottom

with the olive oil and set over medium heat. Add the

kale and a few pinches of salt. Toss lightly with tongs

so the kale is evenly coated with oil, then lower the

heat and set the lid fi rmly on top of the pan.

Meanwhile, mix the tahini and lemon juice in a small

bowl or coffee cup. The tahini may stiffen up a bit,

which isn’t a problem. After about 5 minutes, check

the kale and give it another toss. It should be wilt-

ed and there should be enough liquid in the pan to

keep things moist and steaming. Add a little water if

it seems too dry.

Cover and cook another few minutes or until the kale

is almost black in color and has a nice, chewy texture.

Turn off the fl ame and add about half of the tahini

sauce. Toss. Add more sauce if need, up to the entire

amount, to coat the kale.

Taste for salt. Serve hot

WARM ROASTED BEET SALAD WITH SAUTEED LEEKS,

TOASTED WALNUTS, AND HERBED CHEVRE

from http://green.yahoo.com

2 whole beets, about the size of a lemon

1/2 cup walnut halves,

1/4 cup olive oil (divided use)

2 leeks, white and light green only, thinly sliced,

washed twice

1 tablespoon mixed fresh herbs, such as parsley, tarragon, thyme, chives and/or dill (divided use)

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar

4 ounces fresh goat cheese (chevre), log-shape

Roast the beets (skin-on) at 325 degrees, until very

tender, about 1 hour. Rub with a paper towel to remove

the skin. Keep warm and covered. Toast the walnuts

in a 325-degree oven until fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small skillet; gently

sauté the leeks until they are tender, but not browned,

about 5 minutes, seasoning with salt, pepper, and a

pinch of herbs.

Combine the remaining olive oil with the vinegar and 1

teaspoon of herbs to create a vinaigrette; season with

salt and pepper. Coat the goat cheese with remain-

ing herbs. Slice the herbed goat cheese log into four

slices; transfer to a small pan and warm in the oven 5

minutes.

Slice the beets as thinly as possible into at least 20

slices (this is easiest with a mandolin or slicing device,

but can be done with a knife). Arrange the beet slices

as flower petals on four warm salad plates. Divide the

cooked leeks into mounds at the center of the beets.

Top with warm goat cheese and a sprinkling of toast-

ed nuts. Dress with the olive oil vinaigrette



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