Saturday, January 2, 2010

CSA week four wrap-up, week five start-up

For the record, I'm feeling much better now. Once my course of antibiotics was done with I could go back on my probiotics and my tummy trouble faded rapidly. I appreciate the concern of all those who were concerned.

I believe the only item unaccounted for from week four is the turnips. The tops I had over pasta (with olive oil, tomatoes and sausage) that very first day. The roots I used in a beef stew that didn't turn out as well as I had hoped. I had read that, if you're going to make stew, you ought to deeply brown the ingredients to develop as much flavor as possible. You may dry everything out, but they'll be soaking in liquid for a few hours and all the tasty bits stuck to the pot will get dissolved back into the mix. A good idea, but I think I took it a bit too far. The flavor balance was all screwed up and the dried out meat didn't rehydrate; it just fell apart into chewy strands. It wasn't until after a night in the refrigerator and the dissolution of the dumplings that the flavors managed to stabilize into something palatable. Which is why I didn't write it up.

One other note before I move on. Remember a while back when I said the betel leaves tasted like root beer? This week I watched an old episode of Iron Chef America where Rick Bayless used an herb called hoja santa or acuyo which is also known as the root beer plant because of its flavor. The leaves looked a lot like betel too so I wondered if there was a connection. Turns out they're closely related: hoja santa is piper auitum and betel is piper betle. I think the takeaways here are:
a) my left-field description of betel was actually pretty apt. That means that I comprehended what I was tasting and was able to accurately describe it. It's an unexpected confirmation that I'm a half decent food writer.
and b) if we get betel again, and you aren't happy with the standard recipe options, there's a whole world of Mexican recipes you can substitute it into.

On to this week. I'm a little disappointed with the selection this time around; I find myself with a surfeit of eggs and slightly stale bread so I was hoping for something that would make a suitable filling in a bread pudding. The closest here is the mushrooms. I hadn't really considered a mushroom bread pudding before, but a little searching reveals a good number of recipes so I guess that's a plan.

I've also got a bit of salmon in the freezer so that's a natural partner for the dill. I haven't decided if that's going to involve a cure or a sauce yet, though.

Plum tomatoes are particularly good for sauce and I'm out currently so I guess I'll be making some more. I've never made a bolognese; maybe I'll try that.

The beets I want to roast. I'll probably roast a chicken to go with them as long as I've got the oven going.

The lettuce looks to be a sort that's good for wrapping stuff in, so I'm going to look around for recipes along those lines.

For the black sapote. I've got the idea to use it in a custard or mousse. I'll see if I've got sufficient eggs left to do that after I've made the mushroom bread pudding.

And that leaves the cabbage. I'm not sure what I'll do. It'll last a while so I may just pick at it over time instead of making one big cabbage-centric meal.

No comments: