Jul
22
    
Posted (Lori) in News

I’ve been neglecting the website for the past few weeks–I didn’t even post the great fennel recipe that Patricia sent in. But the work project that has been taking all my time is just about done and I’m going to try to keep the recipes coming. If anyone want to be recipe-person-of-the-week, let me know. Kathryne sent some great ideas for preserving squash and cucumbers; you’ll find them at the end of this post. She also sent pictures, but I can’t seem to get them to post–I’ll add them when I figure it out.

CURRANTS

Last year, a lot of people left their currants on the table, which meant that I had enough to make great currant jam. But I still want everyone to take their currants home and use them. They’re full of antioxidants and Vitamin C and they add a bright, tart zing wherever they’re used. I needed some for testing recipes last year before we got them and I bought a small container at Agata & Valentina—it cost $6.98. Here are some ways to use them:

CURRANT DRESSING: Simmer 1 cup currants with 2 tablespoons sugar or honey for about 5 minutes. Add lemon, ginger, allspice, or cinnamon to taste. Serve with meat, poultry, or fish. It’s also great, cooled, over ice cream.

CURRANTS AND GREENS: Put about 1/4 cup of currents in food processor with 2 tsp olive oil, 2 sprigs chopped dill, salt and pepper to taste. Puree; add sugar or honey until it’s as sweet as you like it. Serve over greens (such as sautéed chard or spinach); sprinkle with toasted almonds and crumbled blue, feta, or goat cheese.

PARFAIT: Layer currants with granola and yogurt. If it’s too tart for you, mix the currants with sugar or honey before you layer. Also nice with a layer of blueberries or strawberries. .

COOL CUCUMBER-CURRANT SOUP

1 ½ cups homemade or canned chicken or vegetable broth

4 green onions, sliced

2 cups chopped, seeded cucumbers

1 tablespoon chopped dill

1 8-ounce container plain yogurt

1 cup currents, removed from stems and rinsed

2 tablespoons honey or sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

Dill sprigs for garnish

Simmer broth and green onions for 8-10 minutes. Cool slightly, then place in blender, with cucumber (save some for the end), dill. Puree until smooth, then add yogurt, currants, and honey and pulse a few times—yogurt should be combined, but currants just chopped roughly again. Taste and add salt and pepper. Chill, garnish with dill and reserved chopped cucumber; float a few currants on top.

FRUIT SALAD, FRUIT SHAKES, SMOOTHIES, AND ICE POPS: Add a few currants to salads or blend into shakes, and smoothies—increase the sugar in the dressing or shake. Freeze some of the shake or smoothie mixture in plastic ice-pop makers—leave a few whole currants.

BLUEBERRY/CURRANT SALSA: In a food processor, place ½ cup currants, ½ cup blueberries, 1 tbs sugar or honey, 1 tsp. chopped garlic or garlicscape, 1 tsp. minced ginger, 1 tbs of your favorite flavoring—vanilla, cognac, sherry, liquer. Pulse a few times, just until chopped roughly. If desired, add a tablespoon of finely chopped toasted nuts (almonds or pecans). Serve with greens, with strips of roasted chicken, with fish, or as a dip.

CURRANT-CRANBERRY SAUCE: Freeze about ½ cup of currents; remove stems, rinse, pack in a ziplock bag and tuck them into the freezer. Take them out on Thanksgiving and add them to your cranberry sauce—they add an extra layer of flavor and a reminder of summer.

RED CURRANT MUFFINS

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon grated orange peel

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup red currants

Directions

1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and orange peel. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; add to the creamed mixture just until blended. Fold in currants.

2. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes or a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to wire rack. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve warm. Yield: 1 dozen.

EGGPLANT

We’re getting a lot of eggplant in this wee’s share. I find that eggplant lasts more than a week in the vegetable drawer. But it’s not easy to preserve. I’ll try to use a lot of it fresh but I’ll probably also:

–Freeze some: I’ll prepare pulp as for babaganoush below; but after I scrape out the pulp, I’ll pack it in ziplock bags and put them in the freezer.

–Pickle some: Here’s a recipe for pickled eggplant; I haven’t tried it and it looks a little complicated, but sounds delicious; from Mis-Adventures in italy:

2 large eggplants (or several smaller ones)

Wine vinegar (white or red)

Garlic or chopped garlicscape

Spices (oregano, crushed hot pepper, sage, parsley, etc.)

Cut the ends off the eggplant and slice very thinly (peel if desired) If you have a mandoline, this would be a perfect time to use it! Layer the slices in a colander, sprinkling each layer with salt. Put a weight on the slices to press down.

Leave them overnight like this, or several hours during the day. Remove excess salt and squeeze them dry.

In a large saucepan, bring a mixture of 1/2 water, 1/2 vinegar to a boil. *NB: You only need a couple of inches of liquid since you’re going to be boiling in batches. You can also use 1/3 vinegar to 2/3 vinegar if you don’t have that much on hand. Include a few cloves of garlic in the water if desired.

Cook batches of eggplant slices for about two minutes each, remove from the mixture and set aside. You can either leave to dry on an absorbent towel for 30 minutes or squeeze excess moisture from the slices directly.

Use the best quality oil you can find, and begin to layer the oil and eggplants in clean jars with your selection of spices. I use some oregano and hot pepper flakes.

Important note: I wouldn’t try canning this; USDA does not recommend canning eggplant. Pickled eggplant lasts about a week in a tightly closed jar in the refrigerator, which extends its life somewhat—just taste and smell before you eat it.

RECIPES: I’m not going to make ratatouille or caponata until the tomatoes start coming, instead I’ll use my eggplants in these recipes:

–“Asian Fried Vegetables” p. 176 in Recipes from America’s Small Farms. This recipe works well with any combination of the vegetables listed in the ingredients. I’ll make it with green onions, summer squash, eggplant, and mushrooms this week and I’ll probably add some chopped chard or spinach for a minute at the end..

–Babaganoush. I usually roast eggplant in the oven; whenever I’m baking or roasting something else, I wrap an eggplant loosely in foil (prick in a few places first) and put it in the oven for an hour or more. Microwaving is not quite at good, but still delicious. Cut off the stem and prick all over with a knife or fork. Place on a microwave-safe dish and microwave on high for five minutes. Turn over, return to oven and continue to microwave a minute at a time until the eggplant is completely soft and caved in. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Then scrape the pulp from the skin. Add chopped scallion and garlic (or scape), salt and pepper to taste; squeeze in a splash of lemon juice. Add about two tablespoons of tahini paste, more or less to taste and depending on the size of the eggplant. Serve with pita or crackers.

–Fried eggplant; yes, it’s fried, but only for a couple of minutes. Combine one-quarter cup water with 4 tablespoons of water; mix until you have a thin paste. Cut your eggplant into slices about 1/8” thick; dip in the batter and turn so that both sides are covered. Heat a few tablespoons of light oil (olive oil doesn’t work well for frying)—it should form a puddle in the bottom of the pan, but doesn’t have to come up the sides. When the oil is very hot but not smoking, add the batter-coated eggplant slices in one layer. Fry for about 1-2 minutes, then turn on fry the other side. Remove carefully and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot or slightly cooled.

This recipe works well for summer squash also. My two- and five-year old great niece and nephew were with moe for the weekend, and they loved these.

–Broiled eggplant; Coat a cookie sheet or baking tray with oil—olive oil works well. Slice the eggplant (and squash) as evenly as you can—the slices can be 1/8 to ¼ inch thick, but they should all be the same thickness. Place the sliced vegetables on the cookie sheet, then turn the slices over so that both sides are thinly coated with oil. Place under a broiler—so that the vegetables have so some space—you don’t want the oil to spatter the broiling element. Broil for about 2 minutes, check to see if the vegetables are browned. When they are, turn them and broil the other side. The thicker the slices, the longer they will take. Once they’re done, you can sprinkle with cheese and return to the hot oven for a few minutes until it’s melted.

FETTUCINE WITH BROILED EGGPLANT, SPINACH, AND RICOTTA’ adapted from Real Simple

16 to 18 ounces fresh fettuccine

2 small eggplants (1 1/2 pounds total), sliced lengthwise 1/2 inch thick, broiled as above

5 ounces baby spinach (6 cups)

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1 cup ricotta

crushed red pepper (optional)

Cook the fettuccine according to the package directions. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking water; drain the fettuccine and return it to the pot.

Add the eggplant, spinach, vinegar, ¼ cup of the reserved cooking water, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper to the fettuccine and toss to combine. (Add more cooking water if the fettuccine seems dry.) Serve topped with the ricotta and, if desired, red pepper, and additional oil.

CUCUMBER

COOL CUCUMBER SOUP

1 ½ cups homemade or canned chicken or vegetable broth

4 green onions, sliced

2 cups chopped, seeded cucumbers

1 tablespoon chopped dill

1 8-ounce container plain yogurt

Salt and pepper to taste

Dill sprigs for garnish

Simmer broth and green onions for 8-10 minutes. Cool slightly, then place in blender, with cucumber (save some for the end), dill. Puree until smooth, then add yogurt and puree again. Taste and add salt and pepper. Chill, garnish with dill and reserved chopped cucumber.

Variation: See cucumber-current soup under currents, below.

CUCUMBER AND DILL SALAD

2 6-inch cucumbers; peel only if the skin is tough; thinly sliced

¼ cup cider vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a non-metal bowl; make sure all the cucumbers are submerged. Cover and refrigerate for several hours. To serve, remove the cucumbers with a slotted spoon. Don’t throw away the liquid—use it for storing leftovers or for the next batch.

BLUEBERRY AND CUCUMBER SALAD WITH FETA—submitted by Cherie

From the Wall Street Journal;

This salad’s refreshing crunch is perfect in hot weather. Blueberries can be milder and less acidic than other berries, so they mellow the salty feta and sharp-tasting mint.

Total Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4 to 6 as an appetizer

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

Kosher salt, to taste

Black pepper, to taste

3 heaping cups blueberries

2 hothouse cucumbers, peeled and seeds scraped out, cut into 1-inch pieces on a diagonal

3 scallions, thinly sliced

1 cup crumbled feta

1 heart of romaine, chopped

2 lightly packed cups mint leaves

What To Do

In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, honey and salt and pepper. Combine blueberries, cucumbers, scallions, feta, romaine and mint in a large serving bowl. Toss with dressing. Add more salt and pepper, to taste.

SUMMER SQUASH

I was planning to prepare a piece about using summer squash in bread and making squash and cucumber pickles—but when I logged in, I saw that Kathryne Lyons already did it, and even sent pictures of her pickles and of a good way to use cucumbers. Here’s her article—thank you, Kathryne—I know you sent your zucchini bread recipe, but I can’t find it. We’ll post it next week if you send it to me.

FROM KATHRYNE:

Just thought I’d let you know what I did with my share last week.

I had almost two weeks worth of squash of various colors and shapes. I bought two small bunches of carrots from the greenmarket .  I then grated everything together in multiple batches in my food processor, and measured out 2 to 2.5  cup portions. I froze about twelve portions to use in zucchini bread through out the winter. I have an infallible recipe which I’m sure I’ve submitted before.  It works best with the Farmer Ground half wheat bread flour available from Lewis Waite.

I also made 2 jars of refrigerator pickles with all of the cucumbers using these two recipes as a basis:

Martha Stewart

http://www.marthastewart.com/313535/quick-pickles

I used honey instead of sugar since I needed the empty honey jar. Instead of the red pepper flakes, I added a heaping tablespoon of picking spices which are easy to find on the grocery store. And I used Apple cider vinegar.

I also made garlic dill pickles with last week’s dill,  about three sprigs,instead of dill seed I also added garlic chives , and a little less garlic but I bet leftover garlic scapes would be awesome, smashed first to release flavor.. And I used white vinegar just to be different from the other recipe.  This was my recipe inspiration:

http://www.thekitchn.com/small-batch-recipe-cucumber-pickles-urban-preserving-with-marisa-mcclellan-173303

I actually let the cucumbers sit in a colander with salt and ice before making either batch.

It was a fun day in the kitchen. I want to try sauerkraut but I forgot to bring old pickle jars back, from the beach.



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