Tuesday, September 18, 2012

CSA in the Kitchen

Well, friends, we seem to be looking at some of the last fruits of the summer this week in our share - that isn't to say there won't be a few more tomatoes and peppers still coming but fewer and fewer.  Don't let your share go to waste!  I know how hard it can be to use some of the ingredients you may not be used to cooking with (remember the green onions I used at least 3 weeks after getting them?).  If you can't think of a way to use what you have before it goes bad, try freezing it.  Many things freeze well or may be OK if pre-cooked first.  Probably straight frozen zucchini isn't awesome, but if you saute it first then freeze maybe it will reheat better?  Better to give it a try and possibly lose it than not try and simply throw it out!


This week's share would be an excellent one from which to make ratatouille.  I wrote about this dish a few weeks ago and you can read that here.  Truly, one of the most delicious late-summer meals I've had and I have made it twice since writing about it.

Here is another great meal to make with eggplant and tomatoes (although the ones pictured above came from a can).  I would call it eggplant Parmesan except that there's no Parmesan involved in what we made.  So, we'll call it Eggplant a la Grady.

Slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch rounds, we peeled it first too.  If you have time you can also toss the slices with 1/2 tablespoon of salt and let sit for 30 min to an hour to draw out the bitterness - be sure to rinse thoroughly before preceding.  Heat a neutral oil in a large pan and when a pinch of flour sizzles in it, dip the slices in a beaten egg, then coat both sides with breadcrumbs and place carefully in the oil.  Be sure not to crowd too many slices into the pan.  Flip them after about 2 minutes so that both sides are evenly browned.  Cook the slices in batches and set aside until all are done.

Arrange the fried eggplant in an oven-safe pan (Grady likes to make food look pretty - the arrangement is up to you), top with slices of fresh mozzarella and place under the broiler for 2 minutes until the cheese is soft and partially melted.  Top with tomato sauce, sauteed fresh tomatoes, or simmered diced tomatoes from a can (what we did).

We enjoyed this dish with a simple side salad made from our crisp Romaine, dressed with a red wine vinaigrette and topped with Parmesan cheese and cherry tomatoes.


So bear with me, sandwiches are not the easiest things to make pretty in pictures.  However, they are so delicious.  Pictured here is a steak and cheddar cheese sandwich with sauteed sweet peppers and onions and a sprinkle of freshly dried thyme.  I'm not sure there's much more to say on this topic except that the thyme on this sandwich was pretty awesome.  If you haven't sliced and frozen some of your sweet peppers yet, I would encourage you, again, to do so.  We actually used some frozen ones here because we didn't have any fresh on hand this week - the sandwich wouldn't have been nearly as good without them!


This lovely dinner is another that showcases the excellent produce we got this week.  Here we have grilled chicken rubbed with parsley butter {for guidance on making herbs butters read here} topped with an arugula and turnip green salad, grilled zucchini and a side of rice ... and a glass of red wine!

The chicken is best if you take the time to brine it for an hour before cooking.  Use 1 cup of kosher salt for about 2 quarts of cold water, you can also add 1/2 cup of sugar which I recommend doing!  Soak the chicken in this solution in the fridge for an hour then rinse thoroughly.  Pat the skin dry and continue, or for more crisp skin you can let it sit uncovered in the fridge for up to 4 hours.  Use your fingers to loosen the skin from the meat on the breast and legs.  Using a spoon or just your fingers, spread the herb butter on the meat, under skin, attempting to do so as evenly as possible.  Then either roast or grill the chicken - the herb and butter will flavor and moisten the meat as it cooks!

The salad is simply the arugula and turnip greens dressed with a mustard vinaigrette and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.  The greens themselves are a bit strong so you can opt to add spinach or another milder green to the mix.

The zucchini was simply sliced, tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper and then grilled away from direct flame for a few minutes.


As we face {embrace?} cooler weather this week, we're planning to cook up a hearty beef stew complete with purple potatoes and possibly some turnips.  We're also returning to some of our old stand-by's like fresh salsa in bean burritos because we know our opportunities are getting fewer.


Finally, we'd like to say 'thank you' to Rob and Christina for working so diligently not only to fill our plates with excellent food, but also to grace our homes with beautiful flowers.  You guys are the best.

~ Courtney and Grady

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