Saturday, February 7, 2009

CSA week ten start-up

Looks like we're back in business with an extra big share this week. Extra filthy too, but that's just part of a CSA. After a couple of slow weeks I find I've got some enthusiasm for using all this produce too. So what have we got?

The radishes in the upper left corner I want to use in another tortilla española. I haven't managed to get the eggs to take on that typical puffy texture in my previous attempts. I think I need to fry up the radishes in a large pan and then switch to a small deep one for the eggs to get the height. Since I'm shopping for a new medium saucepan after yesterday's sapote fiasco I'll look for something suitable for this too.

Next is the tatsoi. Not much to do with one little tatsoi. I'd make it part of a stir fry if I had any leftovers left over to make a stir fry with, but last week cleaned me out (of vegetables, anyway. You'd be shocked at how many different types of cheese scraps I've got piling up. Time to make a cheese dip. The green beans might make good crudite). So, failing a stir fry (I was talking about stir fry before the parenthetical, remember?), this amount is about right for plating, blanched, under a pile of General Tso's chicken or the like.

Next over, a single carambola. The sweet ones I like to juice. The tart ones are nice drizzled with just a little light honey. Nothing fancy required, but if I have time I'm still interested in making a relish or chutney with it.

The tomatoes aren't actually glowing, but they are a nice bright red. Unfortuntely, like last week's tomato, despite appearances they still smell green. I'm going to put all three into a paper sack to ripen a bit more and hope for the best. Or there's a green tomato/avocado dip I might try.

That would be with last week's avocado which is getting close to ripe. I had hoped to blend it into lettuce soup in lieu of cream, (and then I was going to top it with grilled chicken breast, tomato and sprouts for a California salad soup) but like I said in my last post, my lettuce was too far gone by the time the avocado was ready.

My first thought for the turnips was a gratin and I was thinking sauerkraut for the cabbage, but then I realized I had turnips and cabbage so I ought to be thinking about Irish dishes.

Now I could have gone with corned beef and cabbage which isn't really authentically Irish, Irish boiled dinner or maybe bangers and cabbage over turnip mash, but I'm interesting in trying something from the new Irish cuisine.

Like many places known for their meat and potatoes traditional foods, Ireland has developed a new cuisine in the last decade from local chefs going off, getting training and then coming back to apply French techniques to local ingredients. In Ireland in particular this has meant a lot more seafood. Irish fishermen are iconic, so why can't I name any Irish fish dishes?

Recipes from this new wave haven't filtered out onto the open Internet yet, so far as I can tell, but there are two cookbooks: The New Irish Table by Margaret Johnson and New Irish Cookery by Paul and Jeanne Rankin. Miami Dade Public Library's got the former so I've put in a request. It may be a little while before it shows up but cabbage and turnips can wait.

The green beans, if I don't use them as crudite, might go into a Thai recipe I just found that pairs them with peanut butter and oyster sauce. Could be awful, but it certainly sounds interesting.

The onion and pepper I don't think I need to make any special plans for.

And finally, the herbs. I dunno, I wish they wouldn't give us quite so much at a time. I still have plenty of dill pickles left (partially because the recipe I used made them too simply tart than I really like. They're fine to accompany a sandwich but too intense for snacking. I'm going back to Emeril's garlic dill recipe next time.) so I'm not making that this week. Have any of you figured out a way to store the herbs so that they naturally dry out instead of rotting? Do they keep their flavor well enough that you can bottle them up and keep them around? I presume the stuff we buy dried has been forced dried in some special way designed to keep the flavor. Is slow drying in the refrigerator worse or just too costly for the spice companies to do?


Russell Hews Everett said...

I've had a copy of The New Irish Table for several years, and it's pretty good overall.

The soda bread for the Jameson and Brown Bread Creme Brulee's is REALLY good. (As are the creme brulee's) I make it every year for St. Patty's.

The Guiness Brownies are super, crazy, insanely rich. And delicious. The Pears Poached in Mead are great.

There's a Potato and Leek soup that's really excellent.

A couple weeks back we made the Colcannon recipe with the last cabbage we got, and it was excellent. We'll probably be making that or some Champ this week.

The Boxty recipe leaves something to be desired, but I'm particular about it. :)

billjac said...

I'm curious how far you can stray from the simple preparations of colcannon, champ and the like and have it still be recognizably the same dish. Are they just refining the techniques to bring the most out the cabbage, potatoes and such or are they wandering off into Todd English's in-name-only territory?

kat said...

I'm so glad out CSA gives us herbs plants at the beginning of the season rather than just big bunches from time to time. Mine did really well last year.

Anonymous said...

Tying the herbs in a bundle with a little string and hanging them upside down in a dry place seems to work.

For puffier eggs, have you tried putting a lid on the pan after the eggs are mixed with the (radishes or potatoes or whatever) and all added back to the pan? With low heat.

billjac said...

Hanging herb bundles is a fine idea. And as a bonus it keeps away various supernatural beings. Little known fact: oregano repels zombies.

I'm not so sure about the suggestion with the eggs, though. I don't see how putting on the lid would help fluff up an omelet. Plus, you're supposed to stirring at that part of the recipe. It must work for you or you wouldn't have suggested it though; could you explain a bit more, please, so I can understand just what you're doing? Thanks.

Melissa said...

Don't even bother drying the herbs. Chop them and freeze them in small containers or double ziploc freezer bags. Works great!

Anonymous said...

Well, I think I said, just stir up the eggs and add them to whatever you're cooking them with. Add them to the same pan, on low heat, and then cover while they cook on low heat. Don't mess with them too much - they'll puff up!

billjac said...

@Melissa - Can you just freeze them by themselves and they keep OK? I was under the impression you had to freeze them in ice cubes.

@Anonymous - It's too late for this week's omelet (which I actually made Sunday morning before your first comment) but I'll try that next time. It's not the standard method, but I'm using radishes so clearly I'm not wedded to tradition here.