Thursday, October 18, 2012

CSA in the Kitchen - our final meals

We have reached our final week of enjoying this season's CSA!  You may have a week or two left if you took them off earlier in the season, and some of us will be looking forward to the fall share in just a few weeks from now, but the last regular season share has come to our table.  We've been so thankful for the chance to cook with you through this season and hopefully we'll all be returning to Montalbano Farms again next spring!


We tucked into this autumnal meal over the weekend and enjoyed every bite of it!

The sweet potatoes we pricked all over then roasted in a 400 degree oven for about an hour (as I recall it was actually just one huge potato).  When it is soft, remove from the oven and let cool until you can touch it without burning yourself; remove the skin.  Mash potatoes with a fork or masher with 1 tsp of brown sugar (or more, to taste), 1 tablespoon of butter, and a little bit of salt and pepper.

Our salad was lovely and well-balanced.  Arugula leaves, sliced Honeycrisp apple, grated Parmesan cheese and a dressing of honey, red wine vinegar, and olive oil.  Peppery, crisp, nutty, and sweet!

Our meal also featured rosemary-infused steak {Grady placed a branch of rosemary beneath the steak as it rested after grilling}, with a side of homemade horseradish cream, and a little brioche bun.


With the remaining sweet potatoes, I made a side-dish of candied sweet potatoes, but I was so excited to eat them that I forgot to take any pictures.  To make these addicting bites, peel a sweet potato or two and chop into 1/2 inch pieces.  Heat at least 2 tablespoons of butter in a pot over medium heat.  When the butter stops foaming, add the potatoes, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, a pinch of salt and some pepper.  Cover and reduce the heat to medium low.  Cook until the potatoes are soft, stirring every 5 minutes.  When they are cooked, remove the lid and turn the heat to medium-high, stirring constantly, but carefully - trying not to break the potatoes.  After about 5 minutes, the potatoes should be covered in an addictingly delicious glaze.  Off the heat and serve.


Crispy roasted potatoes, roasted carrots and steamed brussel sprouts with some roasted chicken.  Although the chicken was wonderful, the stars of this meal were the veggies.  The potatoes are cooked with the roasting chicken, which is a clever idea brought to us by the brilliant people of America's Test Kitchen.  They suggest butterflying the chicken and roasting it on a broiler pan in a 500 degree oven for about 40 minutes total, turning half way through.  Cover the bottom half of the pan, which is used to catch drippings, with tin foil and that's where you'll spread the potatoes.  Peel and slice the potatoes about 1/4 inch thick; toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper and allow them to crisp up in delicious roasted chicken drippings - seriously the most amazing potatoes!

While the chicken is resting after the roast, turn the oven down a bit to 475, put in another foil-covered tray for about 10 minutes.  During that time, chop the carrots into 1/2 inch thick, 2 inch long pieces.  Toss these with melted butter, brown sugar, salt, and pepper.  When the pan is hot, carefully spread the carrots on it and return to the oven.  After about 10 minutes, turn the carrots over and cook another 3 - 5 minutes.

Finally, I must admit that I have never loved brussel sprouts.  Never.  My mom made them for dinner occasionally when I was a child, and only she ever ate them.  After sawing each mini cabbage from the stalk and then boiling them for about 10 minutes in a pot of salted water, I bathed my sprouts in melted butter (a consistent theme in this meal - butter makes everything taste awesome).  While they were much better than those I turned my nose up at years ago, I still can't say that I love them.  However, I'm sure there are a few brussel sprout lovers out there who were very thankful to have received such a beautiful stalk in their share.


And this brings me to pumpkins ... and by that I mean ... I'm now going to share with you my awesome pumpkin bread recipe.  But first, let's quickly discuss homemade pumpkin puree.  It's super simple.  First, dissect your pumpkin.  I do this by stabbing my biggest knife in the top of the pumpkin, taking it straight out, and then stabbing again and again so that I make a circle around the stem on top.  Then, I cut from the top and work my knife around the entire pumpkin to cut it in half length-wise.  After that, you can open it up, get the seeds out (save and roast later) and cut the halves into smaller pieces if necessary.  Cook these halves in a baking dish partially filled with water in a preheated oven at 350.  Bake until soft, about 45 minutes to an hour.  Allow to cool a bit, peel off the skin, and puree the chunks in a food processor.  Add water a bit at a time if the puree isn't smooth enough.  Now you have puree that you can freeze it for later or use it fresh for pumpkin bread/muffins/pie??!!

For this recipe, I have drawn from this blog and this blog to make what is, in my opinion, the most awesome pumpkin bread.


1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
3/4 cup of sugar (I've even used just 1/2 cup)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups of pumpkin puree
1/2 cup of oil
2 eggs
1/3 cup of yogurt (plain)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ginger
{all spices are ground - or use 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie or 5 spice blend}


Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
Next, in a medium sized bowl combine the dry ingredients, and in a large bowl combine the wet ingredients.
Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, but taking care not to over mix.  Once everything is mixed together, line a bread pan with parchment paper, and pour the batter into the pan.
Bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

For muffins or smaller loaves, simply adjust the baking time.  Muffins take 15 - 20 minutes and small loaves about 25 - 30.


Finally, we'd like to leave you with a few pictures of the farm from this time last year.  We are so thankful to Rob and Christina for taking the plunge and committing to farming in a way that is good for us and for the environment - for their vision, hard work, determination, and care.  We're thankful to all of the farm hands and worker share volunteers who help to make this food appear on our table every week.  We are thankful to all of our fellow CSA members who agreed to support this lovely farm and enjoy the season of produce with us.

 ~ Grady and Courtney

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