Wonton soup for the soul

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I’m not overly familiar with Asian vegetables like bok choi and joi choi.  I grew bok choi last year in the garden, but never got very creative with it.  In the past couple of weeks choi has shown up in the CSA share and it seemed like a good idea to try something a little different with it.  I came across a recipe for wonton soup and instantly decided to make it.  And, better yet, I was able to source the a lot of ingredients from local growers!

The recipe itself takes a lot of time to make.  Not active time, mind you.  But you’ll need eight hours, start to finish, if you choose to make it all in one day.  Stock can certainly be made on one day, and the wontons can be made in advance and frozen.  Don’t let the idea of an eight hour soup throw you - it’s easy to make and the end result is well worth the hour of active time this recipe calls for.

First off, you’ve got to make soup stock and this is what takes the longest.  Sure, you could use premade chicken stock but it wouldn’t have the depth of flavor in homemade stock.  Homemade stock is to ready made stock as Brie de Meaux is to Cheese Whiz, OK?  There’s just no comparison.  Gather the following:

2 lb country-style pork ribs
2 lb chicken, a combination of thighs, legs, and wings (picked up from Godshall’s Poultry at Reading Terminal Market)
3 heads of baby bok choi, coarsely chopped (from the CSA share)
4 scallions, coarsely chopped (found at the Fair Food Farmstand in RTM)
1 (2-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
14 cups water (good old Philly tap water)

Throw it all in a giant soup pot and simmer the crap out of it for five hours.  Go knit or watch television or play with the dog or something.  Come back in five hours, pour the stock through a sieve to remove the solids (discard the solids), and refrigerate the stock for about two hours.


Unless you’re making the wontons in advance and freezing them, I recommend making the wontons about half an hour or so prior to the end of the stock refrigeration period.  The wontons will get a little sticky in places and dry out in others.  To make the wontons, you will need:

1/2 lb ground pork or turkey (turkey, from Harry Ochs in RTM)
1 large egg yolk (from Fair Food Farmstand)
2 scallions, finely chopped (from Fair Food Farmstand)
1 (1 1/2-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar (not seasoned)
1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
salt and pepper
About 30 wonton wrappers

Combine pork or turkey, yolk, scallions, ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, salt, and pepper in 1 direction with your hand until just combined (do not overwork, or filling will be tough).



Put 1 wonton wrapper on a work surface (keep remaining wrappers covered with plastic wrap). Spoon a teaspoon of filling in center of square, then brush water around edges. Lift 2 opposite corners together to form a triangle and enclose filling, pressing edges firmly around mound of filling to eliminate air pockets and seal. Moisten opposite corners of long side. Curl moistened corners toward each other, overlapping one on top of the other, and carefully press corners together to seal. Make more wontons in same manner.

When your wontons are all made, break out the chilled chicken stock.  Skim the fat off the top and bring to a simmer.  Grab another bunch of choi, maybe a pound or a pound and a half, and chop it all up into bite sized pieces.  Put the choi in the soup pot and simmer for four minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add wontons and simmer three minutes.  Cut open a wonton to make sure the filling is cooked through and, if it is, serve!



The soup turned out delicious - a true comfort food!


Posted by Nicole on 10/13 at 08:00 AM

If the shoe fits

Friday, October 12, 2007

cutpumpkin roastedpumpkins pumpkinpuree

I know this is very un-local eating of me, but it has never really occurred to me to make pumpkin pie from scratch.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made many a pumpkin pie…but only using canned pumpkin puree.  And there’s nothing wrong with it - pies made from the canned stuff taste just fine to me.  But since I’ve never tasted a pumpkin pie made from homemade pumpkin puree, how would I know the difference?

As luck would have it, the opportunity to find out has presented itself.  Last week there were two baby pie pumpkins in the CSA share, and this week there was one (grown by Green Acres Organics and Countryside Organics).  Pie pumpkins in hand, there was only one thing to do: roast them.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  While the oven is preheating, cut the pumpkins in half and remove the pulp and seeds.  While you wouldn’t use a big jack-o-lantern type of pumpkin for a pie (they’re too watery), you can save the seeds out of pie pumpkins and roast them - so hang on to those seeds!  Place pumpkin halves cut side.down on a baking sheet, and roast them for about an hour.  Peel off the skin, puree in a food processor, and voila: pumpkin puree!  It’s all ready for the addition of sugar and spices for a pie.

My three baby pie pumpkins yielded about four or five cups of puree.

Posted by Nicole on 10/12 at 10:10 AM

Don’t be a turkey

Last year I ordered an organic, heritage breed turkey for Thanksgiving dinner through the Fair Food Farmstand.  Even my in-laws, who admittedly are not foodies and don’t care so much about eating locally, commented on the great taste and juiciness of the turkey.  We even discussed the benefits of eating meat that isn’t drenched in growth hormones, something a little too serious for Thanksgiving at my house usually.  I can’t promise that eating an organic, heritage breed turkey will guarantee a discussion of anything other than grandchildren and the various Philadelphia sports teams at your own house, of course!

Thanksgiving is fast approaching (I’ve already started deciding what to cook).  I’ll be participating in the 100 Mile Thanksgiving again this year, but you don’t have to be involved in that to want to try a locally grown turkey!  There are quite a few options available, the easiest of which for me is ordering through the Fair Food Farmstand.  I was recently alerted that they’ll be taking orders starting next week.

You might be able to find locally grown turkey at Whole Foods, and the farmer’s market in Collingswood, NJ definitely takes orders.  To get straight to the source, though, try Woodsong Hollow, Bolton Turkey Farm, or Rumbleway Farm.

Posted by Nicole on 10/12 at 06:19 AM

CSA Weekly Report: Lancaster Farm Fresh

Thursday, October 11, 2007


It seems strange that today is my very last share of the season from Lancaster Farm Fresh.  It’ll be sad not to bring home a bevy of vegetables every Thursday.  I guess this means I’ll be seeing the inside of a grocery store a little more often.  Yuck.

So what’s in the final share?

    1 head Joi Choi grown by Scarecrow Hill Farm 1 head Verona radicchio grown by Scarecrow Hill Farm 1 head cabbage grown by Farmdale Organics 1 bunch celery grown by Farmdale Organics 1 bunch carrots grown by Riverview Organics 2.5 lbs red creamer potatoes grown by Green Valley Organics 3 lbs Beauregard sweet potatoes grown by Busy Bee Acres 1 baby pie pumpkin & 1 small butternut grown by Green Acres Organics
    2 heads lettuce grown by Scarecrow Hill Farm 1 bunch collard greens grown by Farmdale Organics

I’ve never had joi choi before, but I understand it’s pretty much like bok choi.  With the cooler weather, I’ve been craving soup - so I decided to use the choi to make won ton soup.  It’s going to be a multi-step and vaguely time consuming thing, but it’ll be something I’ve never done before.  You know, making the won tons from scratch and all that [not the won ton wrappers, mind you - I bought a pack at the H-mart in Upper Darby a few weeks ago].  By some strange stroke of luck, I have been able to source nearly all the ingredients from local growers.  Hooray!

Posted by Nicole on 10/11 at 04:26 PM

Get Asian pears now!

North Star Orchard is in the midst of an Asian pear boom!  If you love Asian pears, now is the time to seek out at the Orchard’s various market locations - Clark Park, Rittenhouse Square, and Headhouse in Philadelphia, and a bunch of other suburban locations.

North Star is currently producing the following varieties of Asian pear: Hosui, Yoinashi, and Olympic.  The Hosui is slightly acidic but mild with a crisp, juicy, off-white flesh.  The Yoinashi has the highest sugar content of all Asian pears and is extremely juicy with a lovely butterscotch flavor.  The Olympic has an outstanding storage life and flavor actually improves with storage.  They’re sweet with an earthy flavor.

And don’t miss out on North Star’s apple harvest!  You can find Florina, Golden Russet, Stellar, and Sugar Snap apples at market. 

North Star Orchard is located in Coatesville, PA.

Posted by Nicole on 10/11 at 08:39 AM

CSA Weekly Report: Red Earth Farm

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

CSA 2007 #12

This week’s share:
Mixed tomatoes- most likely the last of the season for me.
Italian basil- to go with the tomatoes in a panzanella.
Breakfast radishes- I have plans to eat these with just salt and butter.
Sorrel- new to me. I like the sour taste.
Mixed bell peppers
Arugula- tonight’s dinner, as will be shown in my next post.

Posted by Yoko on 10/09 at 11:49 PM

Headhouse Market extended

headhouse square date change

After several weeks away, I finally got a chance to stop into the Headhouse Square Market this Sunday.  It’s been nearly a month since my last visit and I noticed a few changes.  A couple of farmers who products I had bought and enjoyed were absent.  The abundance of tomatoes was replaced by apples as far as the eye could see.  And the closing date of the market has been extended until the end of the year.  Oh happy day!  We now have until December 23rd to buy our meats, cheeses, breads and produce from the growers, makers and bakers. 

Posted by Marisa on 10/09 at 10:43 PM

CSA Weekly Report: Blooming Glen Farm


My sister and I split our share each week, and it only recently occurred to me, the extent of our literalness.



Posted by Mikaela on 10/09 at 09:25 PM

Autumn Leaves Artisan Cheese & Foods Festival

Monday, October 08, 2007

After discovering existence of the Autumn Leaves Artisan Cheese & Foods Festival to be held at the end of September at Valley Shepherd Creamery and pouting because I wasn’t able to attend, I was delighted to find out an FTP reader was going and was more than happy to serve as our eyes and ears for this awesome-sounding event!  What follows is Athena Fotiadis’ report on the festival:

Back in July, I was at my local farmer’s market (Montclair, NJ), and I noticed a new cheese vendor, Valley Shepherd Creamery.  I perused the
selection, and I decided to try their manchego-style cheese.  It was great! While waiting for my cheese to be wrapped, I picked up a flyer for the Autumn Leaves Artisan Cheese & Foods Festival on Saturday, September 29, 2007.  I was so excited!  I immediately lined up a friend to come with.

We arrived about noon after a very pleasant and easy drive down Route 78. It was warm with a slight nippy breeze, my favorite weather.  The leaves are
already barely starting to turn colors and the drive took us through some beautiful landscape.  When we made it to the entrance, we were directed to
drive on a bit to the middle school.  They had parking and a bus to take us to the farm itself.  Already, we could tell, it was pretty busy!

So, the cheese.  There were quite a few farms/cheesemakers represented. Some were from New Jersey, many were from further up the northeast,
including Quebec.  My friend and I tasted cheeses from Meadow Stone Farm from CT (cheese with chocolate liqueur and tobacco wrapped cheese), the
well-known and TV-featured Bobolink Dairy from NJ (Jean Louis and Drumm, if you like your cheese stinky, here’s where to go), Artisan Made-Northeast from CT who distribute some of the other cheeses there (five different blue cheeses, my favorite being the Benedictin, and handmade chocolate turtles that were orgasmic), Seal Cove Farm all the way from Maine (really creamy and nice goat cheeses and a couple of interesting washed rind cheeses), Cato Corner Farm from CT (our favorite, we tried everything he brought and this was the cheese we bought for our baguettes), and Beltane Farm from CT (the *freshest* goat cheese I have ever tasted!).

There were other cheesemakers there, but it started getting very crowded. So, we were at Cato Corner Farm and decided to buy our slices for the baguette table as mentioned before.  They had a really neat thing that you could buy a slice of cheese from whomever you liked for $2 and then go to the baguette table and pay $2 for a generous hunk of baguette and some olive oil and/or balsamic vinegar to make a nice sandwich.  We got the Fromage d’O'Cow, a creamy and stinky cheese.  We were lucky to have gotten the last of the baguettes (although, they started using the rounds of bread from one of the purveyers there, which for some reason, we didn’t visit).  So good!  The olive oil was such a nice green fruity counterpoint to the cheese.

We dived back into the tent, it was starting to approach mob levels.  It wasn’t even 2pm at this point.  We decided we need desert, so we headed to
the Bent Spoon table for the Lavendar Mascarpone ice cream.  You know, the cheese was awesome, but I think the ice cream was divine.  We never made it to any of the wine tables.  At this point, you couldn’t get near them in under 10 minutes, and I noticed some of the other vendors were starting to run out of stuff.  I don’t think they anticipated the turnout (I think their website mentioned 1,500 people!), which is actually a great thing to me.  That many people care about quality, handcrafted food!  We headed back to a few tables and got some apricot honey from Gooserock Farm from NJ, and tried the handmade chocolates by J. Emanuel, also in NJ. We totally missed the Quebecois cheese.  It was starting to get really really crowded.  We took a break and took some photos of the sheep, and headed to our final destination—Valley Shepherd’s own table outside their shop.  We tried the Fairmount, a nice swiss style, mentioned by Nicole in a previous post, and the Califon Tomme, a beautiful gouda-style cheese, which actually, this was my favorite.

Whew!  Can you believe, we were actually cheesed out at this point.  It was just about 2pm, so we headed back.  The cheeses that I know that can be
found in the Philly area are Valley Shepherd and Cato Corner Farm.  Everyone had a website, and quite a few ship their products.

All in all, it was a perfect September day with really great food, and I can’t wait for next year!

My mouth is absolutely watering!  Thanks, Athena, for such a great report - I’m completely jealous!  To see more photos from the festival, click here.

Posted by Nicole on 10/08 at 11:09 AM

CSA Weekly Report: Lancaster Farm Fresh

Better late than never, right?  Last week’s CSA share from Lancaster Farm Fresh was chock full of Winter squash goodness!

    1 bunch radishes grown by Farmdale Organics 2 baby pie pumpkins grown by Countryside Organics 2 acorn squash grown by Countryside Organics 3 spaghetti squash grown by Elm Tree Organics 4 heads baby boc choi grown by Scarecrow Hill Farm 1/2 lb. spinach grown by E. Zook 1 bunch carrots grown by Riverview Organics 1 bag hot peppers grown by Farmdale Organics

I used the spinach to make an excellent on-the-fly creamed spinach, but the rest of everything is waiting for my attention.  I do believe I’ll peel and slice the carrots today, and get the pie pumpkins roasted and prepped for Thanksgiving pie.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, I’ll be doing the 100 Mile Thanksgiving again this year - anyone else in on this?

Posted by Nicole on 10/08 at 11:02 AM

Busy bee!

You know that FedEx commercial?

“Worky work! Busy bee!”

busy canning 02

God, that cracks me up smile

Are you a busy bee preserving some of this fantastic fall food? I’ve scheduled the last four weekends around dates with my Foodsaver and Ball jars. I’m sure there’s a joke somewhere in there.  Maybe something about “cold” versus “hot” dates? 

Anyway, so far I’ve preserved pumpkin, peppers, pears, peaches (what’s with the P theme?), butternut squash and tomatoes. Details to be forthcoming - as soon as I can slow down on all the worky work! This is the most food preservation I’ve done and I’m open to any tips, suggestions and/or recipes. Share ‘em, if you got ‘em!

Posted by Mikaela on 10/08 at 09:30 AM

Weekly CSA Report: Red Earth Farm

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

CSA 2007 #11

This week’s share:
-A double order of sweet potatoes. We had them baked last night, and I’m thinking of making mashed tonight.
-Fennel. I love eating this either raw or roasted.
-Carrots. A good staple to have.
-Collard greens. Also for tonight.
-Red radicchio. I do love the bitter greens. Thinking of braising these and adding to pasta.
-Empire apples (from the buying club). Crunchy and sweet.

We have five more weeks of shares left for the season.

Posted by Yoko on 10/03 at 10:09 AM

CSA Weekly Report: Blooming Glen Farm

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

No picture of the share board this week, but I think this beautiful share speaks for itself.

CSA crop share 2007 #19 - 1002 - 01

(Click photo to read notes at flick’r regarding names and quantities of this week’s share.)

Broccoli and Bok Choy and greens - yum!

Posted by Mikaela on 10/02 at 09:29 PM

Hendricks Farm Parmesan

Hendricks Farm parmesan

My refrigerator is awash in parmesan rinds.  I save them for use in flavoring soup stocks.  And I never run out because I use parmesan like it’s my job or something.  And that crappy sawdust-esque crap that comes in the shake can gives me the hives.  It’s good parmesan on everything!

I’ve heard rumors that I could get locally made parmesan, but up until recently I hadn’t seen it anywhere.  The other day, though, I found Hendrick’s Farm parmesan at Salumeria cheese shop at Reading Terminal Market.  It’s really more a snacking parmesan than a grating parmesan.  Granted, I used it grated over some pasta the other night and it was delicious!

Their parmesan is a full fat cheese, aged about one year.  It has a nice nuttiness to it.  A good, all around parmesan!

Posted by Nicole on 10/02 at 03:09 PM

Challenge update - final week!

Monday, October 01, 2007

The September Eat Local Challenge is officially over!  How did we all do?

Jeanne’s local meal for the week was a yummy all-local stirfry of eggplant, green beans, shiitake mushrooms and garlic.  She also went into a Whole Foods last week, her first trip to a big chain grocery store since the beginning of the challenge.

Their whole produce section just looked weird to me - what are they doing with grapefruits??? They don’t grow here and they are not in season in Florida!  Why on earth are they selling apples from Washington and berries from California???  After this Eat Local Challenge month, I looked at the produce department with all new eyes.

Naomi made a delicious-sounding local meal - she chopped a zucchini and half a bell pepper, and sauteed them along with a local egg.

Anj had a meal of potato salad (local potatoes, local celery, local hardboiled eggs) with homemade mayo (local eggs), and mizuna greens and garlic (both local) with a side of likely non-local free range no-horomone chicken.  And she went on a preserving spree last Monday, blanching and freezing okra (to be used for a gumbo), making kimchi (in the cellar fermenting as I write), and roasting tomatoes that were then stored in oil, garlic, and basil and frozen.  Additionally, Anj dried some figs and topped them with Shellbark Farms sharp goat and honey for a yummy snack.

I visited the Haddonfield Farmer’s Market in Jersey for the first time, tried a new locally made cheese and some locally grown hardy kiwi, and went on a freezing frenzy on Saturday - roasted beets, blanched kale and edamame and rutabaga tops, and fennel fronds in oil.  The latest glut of tomatoes became ketchup that got canned in a water bath, along with homemade applesauce and cranberry sauce made from some great white cranberries I snagged from the Fair Food Farmstand in Reading Terminal.  My local meal for the week was a stir fry of spaghetti squash and pork tenderloin.

Did you miss the update deadline?  Add your progress in the comments section!

Posted by Nicole on 10/01 at 01:00 PM

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