Thursday, August 27, 2009

Late Summer CSA Recipes

I'm still cook-cooking away my CSA(s), but apparently lagging on blogging it :-)

In this post:

- Kohlrabi - raw! What else do you do with it?
- Basil/Eggplant - Basil light appetizer and thai basil eggplant stir-fry
- Tomatillos - relish or roasted salsa
- Peppers - hot pepper jelly
- Kale - Sweet and Savory kale
- Summer Squash - Summer Squash Risotto

Due to construction of a new burger joint on the first floor of my apartment building we have had intermittent services. It's been nothing but frustration and the timing has been less than ideal. However, when is it a good time to have your gas cut off for a week and a half, your water off multiple days, and your electricity being shut off during your morning prep 8-10am? (That's what I have to look forward to for tomorrow.)

If ever there was a bad time to have no cooking gas, it's when you are the recipient of not one, but two bountiful late summer CSA boxes every week! My Washington Square CSA has been a great experience and I was so surprised when I was called and informed that I had won a membership to the West Village CSA for August. The produce from each has been different, so while I have had the regular doubles of cucumbers, eggplant, and summer squash, the two farms have provided enough variety to keep me guessing about recipes and searching the internet and the "Cooking Away My CSA" google group for inspiration.

Some of the items I've gotten over the last few weeks that have been particularly wonderful:

- Kohlrabi - Something I never think to buy but love the crisp hicima-like freshness. I gobbled it up raw before I even looked for ways to prepare it.

- Basil - I have killed two basil plants since moving to this sunless apartment, so receiving fresh, fragrant, bunches of deliciousness has kept me sane. The huge sweet basil leaves that I used fresh for a light app of roasted eggplant, feta, a think slice of heirloom tomato, salt, pepper, and a garlicky balsamic drizzle were to die for. Tonight I tried this recipe and despite its simplicity it is really delicious! Be warned though, I used one Washington Square CSA jalapeno with the seeds intact and when it hit the hot oil my lungs burned and I coughed and snotted for an hour. Good thing I like it spicy!

- Tomatillos!! I am secretly plotting starting my own business selling my mom's famous tomatillo relish, but I just might have to make a little of this on the side. That roasted tomatillo salsa was just what I was craving. Dry sauteing the garlic, peppers, onions, and scallions while broiling the tomatillos takes only a short time and the smell as you trow it all in the food processor just makes your mouth water. I highly recommend this if you have a handfull of tomatillos around, we made only 1 lb worth, 1/4th of the recipe.

- Hot Pepper Jelly - Now, anyone who is friends with me on Facebook has heard me complain about what I call my habenero-induced stigmata, but it was well worth it. Because of a mix-up with some hot peppers and what were supposed to be sweet, Puerto Rican "ahi dulce" peppers, I ended up with my hands SOAKED in habenero juice. I tasted one pepper and it wasn't hot, so it wasn't until my hands BURNED that I knew that I was in for. It led to taking my marriage one step deeper and allowing my lovely husband to take my contact lenses out for me. That is definitely NOT something I expected to ask him to do for me until much, much later in life.

- Kale - As many people in CSAs experience, there are a lot of prolific cooking greens in the early to mid summer. While this is nice and everyone enjoys it for a little bit, it starts to get tiresome. Also, later in the season the stems are more woody and it's not those young, tender spring greens that are great in salads. I was losing steam with it and found myself in over my head with kale and chard piling up. I put my husband in charge of finding a recipe that would break the kale-with-garlic-and-sauted-onions monotony. This tangy and sweet recipe is definitely one worth trying. We used sour cherries, spicy brown mustard, and roasted almonds along with the red summer onion, garlic, and veggie broth. Surprisingly, the next day it tasted a little like sauerkraut and I served it with one of my mom's venison brats!

- Summer Squash Risotto - This was my first attempt at making risotto. I did not use that recipe exactly, but used it as a guide for the method of making risotto along with one of the recipe books from the shelf. It was not a total flop, but I would like to give it another shot. I only had red wine on hand and I think it was a little strong. I used veggie broth, lemon, garlic, onion, red wine, summer squash (pre-roasted in the oven with the garlic), and pureed some of the squash to improve the creamy texture. I also threw in some wild rice and fresh chopped basil at the end. I also got a little silly and roasted some "space-ship squash" hollowed them out, and served each person their own plate of stuffed squash with a light vinegarette drizzle. All in all, it was good, but I definitely made enough to feed an army!

I hope that message makes up for my slacking and I will try to keep the updates coming.

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