Tuesday, September 25, 2012

CSA in the Kitchen

Happy {official} Autumn to everyone!  The frosts are coming and so we mark a change in what's on our table - which is a little sad and a little relieving (I don't know how many more new tomato dishes I could come up with!).  Time to look forward to more greens and hearty root vegetables and winter squash.  I tend to think of fall as the season of roasting and soup-making.


And so, not surprisingly, the first item this week is a roasted heirloom tomato soup.

You may need to use some frozen or canned tomatoes to have enough for this soup, or you can use what you have and make an individual serving.  This recipe is adapted from American Classics.  

Halve or quarter the tomatoes and remove the seeds.  If you like, you can also remove the skin by dipping the whole tomato in boiling water for about 30 seconds.  Arrange the tomatoes in a roasting pan on tin foil.  Sprinkle with brown sugar and roast for about 30 minutes in a 400 degree oven.  When the tomatoes have lost most of their juices and are starting to color, remove from oven and set aside.

In a pot over medium heat, melt 1.5 tablespoons of butter.  When foaming, add 1 minced small red onion or shallot and 1 tablespoon of tomato paste.  Reduce the heat to low and cover.  Stir occasionally until the onion has softened.  Stir in 2 tablespoons of flour.  Then, stirring/whisking constantly, add in 1 to 2 cups of chicken stock then add in the roasted tomatoes.  Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes to allow flavors to meld.  Remove from heat and pass through a food mill or a blender.  Return to the pot and add as much cream as seems delicious to you.  Enjoy with a grilled cheese sandwich, or just some buttery croutons on top!


If you decide to make croutons (toss cubed bread with melted butter and toast in the oven, turning once, for 15 minutes), they would also be delicious atop a salad such as this - grilled romaine.

Normally, you see recipes for grilled romaine hearts, which is the tight part inside of the greener leaves.  After attempting to grill and entire head of romaine, we now understand why.  The grilling wilted the outer leaves rather significantly, leaving them limp and unattractive.  On the plus side though, smoky salad tastes awesome.

If you'd like to give it a try, coat the outside of your whole head of lettuce with olive oil or a neutral oil.  Heat the grill as hot as it will go then put the lettuce right on there, turning to cook all sides for a total of only 2 minutes or so.  When "cooked" chop into smaller pieces, dress with vinaigrette and serve.

We ate this salad as a side to our usual {delicious} burgers and another side of creamed spinach.  Creamed spinach is not such a pretty thing to take a picture of, but it sure does taste good!  Here is a good-looking recipe.  We simply cooked the spinach in boiling water until wilted, drained and pressed the water out.  Returned to the pot with about 1/2 cup or less of cream, 1/4 cup of grated Romano cheese, and 2 tablespoons of butter.  Pretty simple and so satisfying.


This week we had the option of taking horseradish with our share.  It was optional since it seems people don't like the stuff.  Well, Grady does so we took a whole bunch home.  We peeled it like carrots and then grated it using our food processor, although a cheese grater would also work just as well.  Once grated, we blended it with a few tablespoons of white vinegar and we've got a condiment for ... steak? {Honestly, I don't use this stuff in cooking, but Grady makes it taste good!} all ready in our fridge.  Because it contains vinegar, it should last a while this way.


This week we chose peppermint as our herb and we have turned it into a syrup.  We made a simple syrup by dissolving 1.5 cups of sugar (you can go up to 2) in 2 cups of boiling water.  Once dissolved, off heat and throw in your bunch of peppermint.  Cover and allow to steep for about 30 minutes, or longer, to taste.  Cool the liquid and store in a jar in the fridge.  This syrup will likely make its way into adult beverages seeing as we have also made mint-infused vodka, a.k.a. creme de menthe.  However, if you'd like to make something sweet and non-alcoholic, I would highly recommend making peppermint ice cream.  We made some last year and it was by far the best homemade ice cream we'd had (and this was after getting the Ben and Jerry's recipe book from the library).


We have some Asian greens again this week.  Our stand-by at the moment is stir-fry since it worked so well last time and we haven't gotten tired of it yet.

Oooh!  Kohlrabi!  I almost forgot - we haven't made it yet so I don't have a picture, but I'm sure we will be shredding our kohlrabi with some crisp apples and making a coleslaw with it.  Come to think of it, we probably should have made that to go with our burgers!  


As always, please let us know if you have any ideas or if you've tried our recipes and discovered better ways to make them.  Hope everyone has a great week!

~ Courtney and Grady

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