Challenge meal week one

Thursday, September 13, 2007

For the first week of the September Challenge I wanted to make something simple. I’ve had some short ribs from Meadow Run Farms in the freezer so I figured what’s easier than braising some beef for a couple of hours. I found a couple of recipes and narrowed it down to the simplest. I set the meat out to defrost, decided I’d roast some potatoes to go with it and steam some green beans. I went out and bought a couple of bottles of local Cabernet. Then around 3.30 I got home and realized I’d lost the stupid recipe. I searched my browser history hoping it would turn up but it didn’t so I browsed my cookbooks and epicurious until I found a similar recipe and a good hour after I wanted to I got to work.

The biggest problem was that I didn’t RTFR. (thank you Smitten Kitchen for the perfect acronym.) I spent hours slaving over a hot stove in my un-air conditioned kitchen on a hot, humid Philadelphia summer day. The initial recipe called for all of the cooking on the stove top in a dutch oven, but the other recipes all called for the short ribs to braise in the oven. Never having made short ribs before I wasn’t willing to mess around. My dutch oven’s so large that cooking the potatoes in the oven was out so I decided to use my leeks and make mashed potatoes with leeks and thyme instead. Since I had a leek or two left over I found a recipe for swiss chard with leeks and made that instead of the green beans.

All of the cooking was extremely hands on and hot and by the time it was ready to eat I’d lost interest completely.  The worst part was that the ribs weren’t even all that good. The chard and potatoes were fantastic, but the ribs just weren’t as flavorful as I would have hoped. And seriously, braised short ribs with mashed potatoes would have been fine on a crisp, almost fall day like today, but it was not an appropriate meal for last Saturday’s stickiness.

At least my husband liked it.


Braised Short Ribs with Red Wine

Short ribs- Meadow Run Farms
Chicken stock- made from chicken from Meadow Run farms
Cabernet- Chadd’s Ford
Rosemary- my garden
basil (instead of sage)- my garden
Carrots- Lancaster, Pa via Farm to City farmer’s market
Onion- Red Earth Farm
Garlic Red Earth Farm
not local- salt, pepper, tomato paste, oil, bay leaf

Mashed Potatoes with Leeks and Thyme

Potatoes- Red Earth Farm
Leeks- Red Earth Farm
Thyme- my garden
Milk- Merrymead Farm
not local-salt, pepper, butter

Seared Rainbow Chard with Leeks

Chard-Red Earth Farm
Leeks-Red Earth Farm
not local, butter, oil, salt, pepper

Posted by Jackie on 09/13 at 07:48 PM

Baking the Green Zebras

Monday, September 10, 2007

Baked Green Tomatoes

I was trying to think of some way of using the Green Zebra tomatoes that didn’t involve putting them in a salad. As much as I love fried green tomatoes, I’m trying to cut down on fried foods, so that also wasn’t an option. I decided to bake them, thinking that the high heat would temper the tartness.

I sliced the tomatoes, put them in a baking dish, sprinkled them with salt and pepper, and drizzled some olive oil. In a saucepan, I sauteed an onion, a clove of garlic, and a bell pepper (all from a previous CSA share) in a little olive oil until they were soft, then I spread them over the tomatoes. I then covered the top with grated Pecorino Romano cheese and put it in a 400-degree oven to bake for 25 minutes. When they were done, I sprinkled some chopped fresh basil (also locally grown) and served the tomatoes as a warm side for dinner.

To my surprise, baking the tomatoes brought out the tart taste rather than mellowing and sweetening them. They were still delicious, though. Green zebras might just be better for pickling if you like sour pickles, I think, but give them a try if you can get hold of them.

Posted by Yoko on 09/10 at 10:19 PM

Cucumber Salad, and About My Heritage

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Cucumber Wakame Salad

As promised, here’s the cucumber wakame salad that I make every summer. The recipe is on a slip of paper that I had transcribed from talking to my mom, many years ago.

1 long cucumber (preferably one with minimal seeds. I used the cucumber I got from my CSA)
4 T rice vinegar
4 T soy sauce
1/4 t salt
1 1/2 T sugar
a handful of dried wakame (found in Asian groceries, or health-food stores)

Soak the wakame in a bowl of cold water. The seaweed will expand—be sparing with the amount you put in.
In another bowl, combine the vinegar, soy sauce, salt, and sugar until blended.
Peel, de-seed (if necessary), and thinly slice cucumber. Add to the vinegar mixture.
Drain and squeeze wakame and add to the cucumber. Lightly toss, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Serve cold.

I am a second-generation Japanese-American. My parents and I came to the States when I was very little. My mom often cooked washoku (Japanese food) for meals, and I learned a lot of her recipes by watching her cook. There are some things I can cook that almost taste like my mom’s, and there are some things that I just can’t quite make the way she does.

One thing about cooking Japanese, or really any Asian cuisine, is that many dishes call for ingredients that just aren’t readily available here, let alone locally produced. There was a time when my grandmother used to send us care packages of seaweed, tea, and other foodstuffs because they were difficult to find here. Nowadays, more interest and awareness of Asian culture makes it easier to get many of these items at a neighborhood grocery store. However, I haven’t heard of or seen items like wakame, like Asian short-grain rice, being locally harvested. And to be honest, I would be loath to give up things like these for the sake of being a pure locavore.

As it says in my description on the About page of this site, I do enjoy many cuisines from all over the world. I am often creative in the kitchen, mixing and matching tastes. When it comes to the food that my mom made, my comfort food, I choose to use local items when I can, and the ingredients of my culture’s cuisine when needed.

My Dinner Tonight

Posted by Yoko on 09/06 at 10:21 PM

The delicate Delicata

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Like lots of people on Labor Day, my husband and I had ourselves a little cookout.  We grilled up some nice steaks from Natural Acres.  I wanted something different as a side, though.  And with the four Delicata squash grown by Green Valley Organics that have come in my CSA share over the last two weeks, it seemed like a good idea to cook those up.

Winter squash at an end of Summer cookout?  Well…as strange as that seems, it worked.  After cutting the squash in half lengthwise, removing the seeds, and slicing up the halves, I tossed the pieces in olive oil and roasted everything for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.  The roasted slices of squash then were tossed in the last of my tulip poplar honey from Linvilla and some sea salt, and roasted another five minutes.

The result was a sweet and salty squash dish that was hearty enough to stand up to steak, but still light enough for a cookout.

I roasted all the squash, but only about 1/3 of it got the salt and honey treatment.  The rest has been packed into freezer bags to puree for soup when it gets a little cooler outside.  I can barely wait!

Posted by Nicole on 09/04 at 08:01 AM

Head to Headhouse and Make this Soup

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The bounty of the much-touted Headhouse Farmers Market inspired this soup recipe.  Make a list of the ingredients and head to the market to see if you can get one item from a different stand to spread the love around.  Or, just stop by our table, Weavers Way Farm, and buy everything but the corn.  Deliciously fresh, this soup can be served hot or cold so it’ll make the transition between seasons with you.  To stock up for the colder months, buy extra fresh corn to cut off the cobs and freeze.  Then buy bushels of tomatillos to make salsa verde to also freeze or can.  That way, when winter settles in, you can call upon your stockpiles to make this hearty soup to remind you of the freshness of summer.

Corn and Tomatillo Chowder
Adated from The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Soup

2 T. peanut or corn oil
4 large shallots or 1 medium onion, diced
1 hot pepper such as Hungarian Hot Wax, diced
1 sweet pepper (purple, red or green), diced
2 ears of fresh sweet corn, kernels cut off (about 2 cups)
12 or so tomatillos
3 c. of vegetable or chicken stock
1 c. light cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Husk tomatillos, place in a small sauce pan and cover with water.  Place on high heat until water boil and then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes until tomatillos loose their bright color and float to the top.

Meanwhile, heat oil in large deep skillet.  Add the diced onion and peppers, reserving a tablespoon or so of the pepper for garnish later, to the hot skillet and saute over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes until they get soft and brown on the edges.  Add the corn kernels to the skillet and saute for 2 minutes until softened and the color pales.  Finally, drain tomatillos from their hot water and add to skillet to toss with sauted vegetables.  Stir to incorporate.

Carefully pour contents of skillet into a blender (or use an immersion blender for extra ease) and process until smooth, adding a little stock if needed to loosen it up.  Transfer blended contents back to skillet and slowly add in stock over low heat.  Allow soup to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes to scrap up any corn sticking to the bottom of the skillet.

Remove skillet from heat and stir in cream.  Serve soup chilled or warm.  If serving warm, gently reheat - never allow soup to come to a boil.  Garnish each bowl of soup with diced pepper and thin slices of an uncooked tomatillo.

(makes 4 large servings)

Posted by Jennie on 08/30 at 08:25 AM

take the tomato

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I’m glad Nicole wrote out those 10 things you can do with tomatoes. I was already plotting and planning what recipes from the NYTimes I would make. I really loved the idea of a tartlett. But I am not one to follow recipes if I can use what I already have in the house.

So I took the tartlett idea and made something yummy of my own. Tomatoes on filo. They were probably the tastiest thing I had this week.

The same concept from the NYTimes recipe is there, instead of using puff pastry I used filo dough. I put it on a silicon matt and brushed each layer with butter. Then I took equal portions of riccotta and goat’s cheese and mixed them with fresh basil. I spread it on the filo much like you would pizza sauce or if you were icing a cake. Then I put my very yummy fresh cut tomato rounds on it. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, top with parmesian. Fold the edges up if you like the more picturesque tartlett picture, or leave it as it.. the cheese really doesn’t run over the sides. Pop it in a 425 degree oven for 10-12 minutes. It was absolutely delish!

Posted by Anj on 08/29 at 10:44 AM

When life deals you tomatoes, make Bloody Marys

Friday, August 24, 2007

From the sounds of things, Farm to Philly contributors (including me) have been up to their eyeballs in gorgeous, locally-grown tomatoes recently!  Yoko made pasta sauce.  Anj made pizza sauce.  And, judging by the look of the tomato plants in my garden, the onslaught of tomatoes will continue for at least a few more weeks!

There’s nothing better than lovely tomatoes right out of the garden or from your favorite local farmer, but there comes a time when there might be too much of a good thing.  If the other contributors are like me, another bite of tomato sandwich or gazpacho or salsa or tomato sauce would send me over the edge.  And with two dozen tomatoes sitting in my kitchen right now, I need something new and exciting, something I haven’t eaten entirely too much of this Summer!

With that in mind, I give you ten things to do with tomatoes (other than salsa, gazpacho, sauce, or sandwiches):

  1. Grilled tomatoes with blue cheese and pine nuts.  This [recipe] was one of the winning entries for a Washington Post tomato recipe contest.  There are more recipes to be had, but this one appealed to me.  I don’t know that there are any sources for locally grown pine nuts, but one can certainly find good local blue cheese!  Birchrun Blue, for instance, from Birchrun Hills Farm.  I’m drooling just thinking about it.
  2. Sofrito.  If you’re drowning in cherry tomatoes, consider making a little sofrito [recipe] for a rainy day.  For the uninitiated, sofrito is a sauce that used as a base for many Spanish and Latin American dishes.  A friend of mine uses hers to mix with mashed potatoes.  You can use it for a million things - to add flavor to sauces, mixed with yellow rice, anything!
  3. Tomato gelato.  Paired with basil gelato (a personal favorite of mine available sometimes at Capogiro) and ricotta gelato [recipes for all three here], who could resist kicking back during the dog day’s of Summer with this little treat?
  4. Roasted Tomato Bread Pudding.  When I make bread pudding, my husband screws up his face and denounces it.  If I call it stuffing, he eats it.  Whatever you call it, it’s good and roasted tomatoes make it better!  The recipe [recipe] utilizes both regular and cherry tomatoes.  I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that stale Le Bus bread makes fabulous bread pudding.
  5. Dill Green Tomatoes.  It’s not the end of tomato season yet (not by a long shot), but I do always find myself with a smattering of small green tomatoes at that time.  I like the idea of using them green to make pickles [recipe], and it’s also a great way to use the last of the dill, garlic, and hot peppers!
  6. Tomato, Basil, and Brie Spread.  Being a total cheesehound, the very idea of brie mixed with anything makes me swoon.  If I can get my hands on the new brie from Green Valley Dairy, so much the better.  The spread [recipe] smeared on a baguette from Metropolitan?  Yes, please!
  7. Roasted Tomato Hummus.  Aside from the glut of tomatoes in my house right now, I also have the dregs of the roasted garlic I made recently from my first ever batch of garlic.  What better way to use them both than to make hummus [recipe]?  Mmmmmmm mmmm!
  8. Baked Stuffed Tomatoes with Goat Cheese Fondue.  There are several excellent ideas for using too many tomatoes in this NY Times article, but go directly to #2 on the list.  Holy crap.  Using the stellar goat cheese from Shellbark Hollow Farm, this little slice of cheese lover heaven would be awesome!  I might need to make this tonight.  Or I might need to eat lunch before I chew off my own hand.
  9. Garlicky Tomato Tart.  As a rule, I’m not a fan of deliberately low fat cooking.  There’s something to be said for eating well, but just not going overboard, you know.  That said, the Garlicky Tomato Tart [recipe] from Cooking Light is pretty excellent.  It’s comfort food around my house.
  10. Oven dried tomato oil.  I’m a big fan of anything that involves sun-dried tomatoes, but I’m a little squicked out about the idea of leaving food outside to dry.  Oven-drying tomatoes [recipe] works great and there’s less possibility of animals wreaking havoc with them.  And oil with sun-dried tomatoes seems like such a useful thing to have around the house!

There you go!  Ten things to do with tomatoes that you maybe haven’t made this Summer!  Go forth and eat more locally grown tomatoes!

Posted by Nicole on 08/24 at 12:19 PM

Saucy Tomatoes

Monday, August 20, 2007

Fresh Tomato Sauce

I have tomatoes coming at me from all corners. I’m growing Roma tomatoes in pots in my back patio at home. I’ve ordered slicing tomatoes from my CSA. And Jersey tomatoes are readily available at the market at the end of my block. The Romas, in particular, are great for sauce.

Here’s a recipe I used to make fresh tomato sauce, which was a featured recipe from my CSA Newsletter, and adapted from Still Life With Menu by Mollie Katzen. The starred items were locally grown.

4-5 medium-sized tomatoes* (I used a combination of homegrown Romas, my CSA’s slicing tomatoes, and Jersey salad tomatoes. I don’t recommend the latter—get meaty tomatoes for sauce)
1 medium-sized onion*, finely chopped
olive oil
fresh basil* and flat-leafed parsley*, finely chopped
salt and pepper
your favorite cheese (I used Pecorino Romano)

Peel the tomatoes—score them on the bottom with an X, then scald them in boiling water for a couple of seconds. You should be able to peel them from the X.

Remove seeds if you want (I don’t), and chop finely.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet, and saute the onions until transparent. Add tomatoes, another tablespoon of oil, salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer for a little bit to warm up. Add basil and parsley, and stir.

Serve over pasta, top with cheese.

Posted by Yoko on 08/20 at 10:30 PM

Two for the dough

Sunday, August 19, 2007

gnocchiUnlike most vegetables, potatoes are made for long-term storage…if you have the perfect place to store them.  You know, some place dark, humid, and about 40 degrees.  Unless you have a root cellar, most of us do not have these ideal conditions.  My basement is cool, but not that cool!  As a rule, I maybe get about two months out of potatoes if they’re stored in my kitchen.  So what do you do if you find yourself with an overabundance of potatoes?

There are lots of things you can do - make mashed potatoes or cook up a mess of fries or hash browns, and then freeze it all up for a rainy day.  I decided to use up my massive store of potatoes from the CSA (about 13 pounds, by my last count) to make potato gnocchi.  It’s really easy, although slightly time consuming.  And in the end, you get a good supply of fabulous gnocchi!

Start with potatoes.  You need good, starchy potatoes, rather than waxy potatoes.  In other words, you want to avoid new potatoes, fingerling potatoes, round white potatoes, and round red potatoes.  Use Yukon Golds or Russets or something like that.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, cut the potatoes almost in half, arrange on a baking sheet, and bake for an hour.

As soon as you can handle the potatoes without burning the crap out of your hands, peel the potatoes.  The skin should just come right off.  Work fast - you need to get those babies through a potato ricer before they cool down!  Why a potato ricer?  You want nice, fluffy potatoes and no other way gives you just the right consistency.  After the potatoes are riced, you can let them cool down to room temp…just don’t throw them in the fridge.

Next is the question of eggs - to use eggs or not to use eggs.  I’ve made them both ways, and it’s fine either way as long as you don’t use too much egg.  You absolutely don’t need egg, and your gnocchi will turn out a little lighter without the egg.  The batch I made here has eggs.  Let’s say about one beaten egg per five pounds of potatoes. 

The real trick to making good gnocchi is getting the dough right, which means adding just enough flour but not too much.  Most recipes call for about a cup and a half of flour per two pounds of riced potatoes.  I just keep adding flour, a bit at a time, until the dough feels right to me.  Specifically, it should be pretty smooth and slightly sticky.  The longer you work the dough, the more flour you’ll need…and then your gnocchi will be like bricks.  But when you feel like the dough is good, put it aside in a bowl draped with a clean towel and let it rest for 20 minutes.

The next part goes pretty quickly - grab a hunk of dough, roll it out into a half-inch rope, and cut into inch long nuggets.  There are several opinions about finishing the gnocchi, but all agree on one thing: there needs to be some nooks or crannies to grab the sauce.  Some people score the gnocchi with fork tines.  Some do so while bending it over their thumb to form a little inner pocket.  I go the easy route and just make a little depression in the the middle of each dumpling with the end of a fork.

And then you can either cook ‘em or freeze ‘em.  If you opt to freeze, be sure to spread the gnocchi out in a single sheet on a baking tray and freeze them this way.  You can pack them into a freezer Ziploc or whatever when they’re frozen.  You just don’t want them sticking together, you know?  For cooking, just put on a pot of water to boil, toss in the gnocchi, and scoop them out as they float to the surface.

Best of all, you can make gnocchi entirely out of local ingredients - potatoes and eggs are easy to come by, and you can purchase Daisy pastry flour (made in Lancaster, PA) at the Fair Food Farmstand at Reading Terminal Market.  Hooray!

Posted by Nicole on 08/19 at 06:30 PM

The proof is in the pudding

Monday, August 13, 2007

One Local Summer, Week 7

There’s something very soothing and comforting about bread pudding for me.  It makes me think of Autumn when the temperatures are starting to cool down.  It’s probably not the first thing that comes to mind for good Summer food, but on days like last Saturday when we got a break from the heat and humidity it was just lovely - especially with the addition of fantastic, perfectly ripe local corn!

But best yet, nearly every ingredient in bread pudding can be found locally.  And if you don’t like corn, you could substitute just about any other vegetable.

1 Tbsp butter
1/2 medium onion, chopped
4 c. corn kernels
1/2 tsp paprika
salt and pepper
1/3 c. chopped basil
1 Tbsp dill
4 eggs
2 c. milk
5 c. cubed bread
3/4 c. grated sharp Cheddar
1/2 c. milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat butter in a skillet over med-high heat and saute onions, corn, and paprika for about four minutes.  Season with salt, pepper, basil, and dill.

Whisk eggs and milk and 1/2 tsp salt together.  Pour over bread.  Add in the corn mixture and cheese, stir to mix and then transfer to a buttered 3-qt casserole. Pour 1/2 c. milk over the bread pudding.

Bake for 45 minutes - the pudding will puff and get slightly browned.

Posted by Nicole on 08/13 at 09:46 AM

Summer vegetable tart

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Summer Vegetable TartAugust means an overabundance of riches to me.  The produce is coming fast and furious out of the garden and the CSA shares just seem to keep getting bigger.  It’s a challenge to come up with recipes that incorporate a lot of different vegetables, something you want to cook and eat even if it’s a million degrees with two thousand percent humidity. 

Over the weekend I made a vegetable tart that fits the bill.  It’s good hot or cold and would taste great with just about any combination of vegetables and herbs.  Best yet, you could definitely make this using almost nothing but locally grown/locally produced ingredients.  I admit that I cheated a bit by using frozen pizza crust dough for the tart crust.  I baked it for about 15 minutes and then let it cool before assembling the rest of the tart.

5 ounces soft goat cheese
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup sour cream
1/8 teaspoon salt
Generous pinch of cayenne pepper
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded, diced
1hot green pepper, seeded, diced
1 large handful of swiss chard, stems removed, and leaves torn into strips
1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small yellow squash, halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup fresh corn kernels
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

Whisk cheese, cream, sour cream, salt, and cayenne in medium bowl to blend. Add eggs and whisk to blend. Pour into prepared crust. Bake until filling is set, about 20 minutes. Cool 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add peppers and chard and sauté until beginning to soften/wilt, about 4 minutes. Add zucchini, yellow squash, and corn; sauté until all vegetables are tender, about 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Mound vegetables on top of tart and sprinkle with basil. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Posted by Nicole on 08/07 at 02:27 PM

When Fresh Truly Counts

Friday, July 27, 2007

I suddenly feel so accomplished!  I made something I thought only restaurants serve.  After all, how many times have any of us come to the call of “Dinner’s ready!” to find fried squash blossoms stuffed with fresh herbed goat cheese?  I certainly haven’t had the pleasure before.  Readers extraordinaire, you must give this recipe a try if you can get your hands on some fresh squash blossoms.  It wasn’t nearly as hard as one might think to make these delicate and tasty beauties.

Indeed, the beauty and the flaw of this dish are the squash blossoms themselves.  First, they are not a common supermarket find.  Second, if you do find them but you don’t get them very very fresh and take good care to keep them cool and moist, they get rather difficult (read: rubbery) to handle (although you can still make it work).  That being said, I know there are some of you out there dutifully growing squash plants up the side of the fence in your tiny Philly rowhouse backyard, in urban plots/pots or, for those luckier ducks, in your large suburban kitchen gardens.  You, my friends, have no excuse not to give this one a go.  In fact, I think you owe it to those that don’t have easy squash blossom access to put your good fortune to use.

How, pray tell, does one harvest a squash blossom?  Since squash develop from the blossoms, you don’t want to pick the “female” blossoms that are found low and in the center of the plant.  Rather, pick the “male” blossoms that are on long slender stems higher up in the plant.  You’ll easily be able to tell the difference once you’re actually looking at a squash plant.

For those of you without your own squash plants, check out the Headhouse Farmers Market on Sunday’s in Philly.  This new and unusually lively market is located in the historic “shambles” on 2nd and South Streets.  There you’ll find loads of local produce, including a few vendors, such as Weavers Way Farm, selling squash blossoms picked that morning.  You really must get them as fresh as possible! 

Once you’ve aquired your delicate blossoms by hook or by crook, store them in a ziplock bag filled with air (to cushion them) and with a damp paper towel.  Keep in the fridge for up to a day. 

Let us know if you try this recipe and how they turn out.  Also, what other uses do you know of for squash blossoms.  According to my trusty kitchen garden reference book, they are suppose to be good in salads and stir frys.  I’m so fixated on the fried stuffed version that I haven’t gotten around to trying either just yet…


Adapted from Chez Panisse menu

12 large squash blossoms
8 oz. goat cheese, room temperature
1/4 c. finely minced fresh herbs (thyme, basil, chives, sage, or others)
1 large shallot, finely minced
salt and pepper
2 eggs
1/4 c. milk
1/2 c. corn meal mix (look for one that includes salt and baking powder) or masa harina (available in some larger stores)
Freshly ground pepper
1 c. vegetable oil

Place the goat cheese in a small bowl.  Mix in the minced herbs, shallots and salt.  Mixture will come together easier if the cheese is at room temperature.  Once mixed, cover and place in refrigerator for 15 minutes or until firm again.

Prepare your “assembly line” by beating the eggs and milk together in a shallow bowl.  Place corn meal mix or masa harina in another shallow bowl and mix in the freshly ground pepper.  If blossoms have not already been prepped, gently remove all but a small tip of the stem and look closely for any dirt or insects.  If you find anything, gently wipe clean with a damp towel.

When cheese mixture is firm, take teaspoon size amounts and roll into small balls with your hands the way you would chilled cookie dough.  Place a cheese ball into the center of each blossom and twist the ends of the petals together to fully enclose the cheese.

Dip each blossom into the egg mixture.  Let excess drip off.  Quickly and gently roll blossom in dry mixture, shaking excess off.  Set blossoms in refrigerator until ready to fry.

Place vegetable oil in a skillet and heat to approximately 350 degrees or until a tiny pinch of corn meal dropped in produces a good sizzle.  Carefully place half the blossoms into the hot oil.  Turn them over to brown evenly on all sides.  When golden brown, remove and place on a paper towel to drain.  Bring oil back up to temperature and fry the remaining blossoms.

Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and serve immediately with any leftover cheese as a garnish in the center of the plate.

(makes 12, serves 4)



Posted by Jennie on 07/27 at 08:33 AM


Thursday, July 26, 2007

It is that time of year.. where you are up to your eyeballs in zucchini. Today I was just too full of summer squash to know what to do with myself. So I pulled myself together and found this recipe online. I’ve tinkered a bit, but here is a summer squash soup recipe to enjoy. (based on the June 2002 Oprah Mag recipe.)

Summer Squash Soup

-2 tbl olive oil
-2 onions chopped (local!)
-2 celery stalks chopped
-6 garlic cloves (local!)
-summer squash, about 3 lbs chopped. (I used patty pan, yellow and zukes, local!)
-4 sprigs of thyme
-2 strips of lemon peel
-5 cups of vegetable stock (you could substitute chicken stock)
-1/2 tsp salt
-3 tbl fresh lemon juice
-hot pepper sauce
-parmesan chese for garnish.

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, celery and garlic. Cook for 10 minutes or until onions are soft. Add squash, thyme, and lemon peel. Cook for 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium high and add stock and salt. Simmer until squash is soft. Discard thyme.

Puree the soup in batches and return to the soup pot. Heat through. Add lemon juice and hot pepper to taste.

Garnish it shaved parmesan.

***Last tidbit. I roasted my squash to give it extra flavor. This made the whole cooking time go much faster for an already speedy dinner course.

Posted by Anj on 07/26 at 03:24 PM

CSA Weekly Report: Lancaster Farm Fresh

Farmtophilly useIt’s Thursday, and you know what that means - the CSA report from Lancaster Farm Fresh!  The share this week is massive.  No doubt it will be a struggle to carry all it home tonight!

Here’s the haul:

    1 bunch Chiogga beets grown by Farmdale Organics 2 green peppers grown by Meadow Valley Organics 1 head red leaf lettuce grown by Scarecrow Hill Farm 3 candy onions grown by Back Forty Ranch 1 dozen ears of sweet corn grown by Green Acres Organics 6 tomatoes grown by Green Valley Organics and Countryside Organics 2 lemon cucumbers grown by Riverview Organics 1 bag green beans grown by Countryside Organics 2 green cucumbers grown by Farmdale Organics 2 green zucchini grown by Meadow Valley Organics 4 patty pan squash grown by Green Valley Organics 1 pint grape tomatoes grown by Farmdale Organics

I fully admit that I’ve been giving my lettuce away to the first available person.  I am officially off salads, possibly for life.  Early on the shares were chock full of lettuce.  My husband and I have a full share for ourselves and you can only eat so much lettuce, right?  We have eaten enough lettuce this Summer that neither one of us can look at a head without getting a little queasy.  At one point I had six heads of lettuce in my kitchen and feeling panicked.  The idea of wasting food makes me sick, but it’s not like you can freeze or otherwise preserve lettuce.

Well, except you can…sort of.

I ran into a recipe for Cream of Lettuce Soup that I really ended up liking.  The potatoes give it a nice body.  So I used every single head of lettuce in the house and made a few batches of soup, minus the cream and egg yolks, and froze it.  In the dead of Winter, the soup will be wonderful!

So far it’s the only way I’ve found to preserve lettuce.  I’d love to hear it if anyone has some alternative ideas.

Posted by Nicole on 07/26 at 08:20 AM

A Local Ratatouille

Sunday, July 22, 2007

I just saw the movie Ratatouille this weekend—I enjoyed every delicious minute of it. Completely coincidentally, I also had an abundance of tomatoes and eggplant from my CSA as well as some from a gardening friend of mine. So heck, I thought—why not make ratatouille?


I’m particularly fond of thin Asian eggplants—they tend to be meatier and less bitter than their larger counterparts. I like to cook them so that they’re caramelized. The secret ingredient in the making of this dish? Fennel bulbs.

Here’s the recipe, adapted from The Joy of Cooking (1997). The bold items were locally grown.

1 lb. eggplant, peeled and cubed
1 lb. zucchini, cubed (I omitted this because I didn’t have any on hand)
1 1/2 cups sliced onions
2 small bulbs fennel
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cups tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped
a couple sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
olive oil
salt and pepper

Saute the eggplant (and zucchini) in oil in a large skillet until golden. Remove from skillet, and add onions and a little more oil and cook until tender. Then add fennel and garlic, season with salt and pepper. Add tomatoes, thyme and bay leaf. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for about 5 minutes. Add eggplant (and zucchini) and cook until everything is tender. Adjust the seasoning if needed. Finish with the basil, serve over rice or pasta.


Posted by Yoko on 07/22 at 08:48 PM

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