The summer -turned fall- CSA has just two weeks more after this one, and it will probably go out with a climax of color, just like the summer does. We have winter squash in out of the field now, and are harvesting a variety of potatoes to go along with all the usual summer/end of summer produce you’ve been seeing lately. I hope that you have been finding fresh and creative ways to use the vegetables each week. I say this knowing that for me, I tend to get in a rut of cooking (sometimes tasty ruts, but still, how many zucchini fritters can one family eat?) and am now thankful for a change of weather to remind me of other go-to foods I love to make.
When I was growing up, my mom used to make big batch meals, some for dinner, some to freeze, and more often than not, some to bring to someone who needed it. My sister and I loved smelling whatever was cooking all day, and were primed and ready for chili, or spaghetti or roast for dinner by the time it rolled around. The worst was when she said it was something she was making a day or two ahead of time -pure torture for growing kids to wait to eat whatever smelled so good!
Back when the farm still had chickens for meat, one had been injured somehow a couple weeks before we were set to harvest them all. Figuring she might not make it that long, and knowing that either way she was suffering, Janaki said I could have (read: eat) her if I wanted to do that on my free time. So after work, I pulled together all the stuff I’d need to kill, clean and pluck the chicken and got to work. It isn’t really so very much work if you know what you’re doing, but what I did learn that evening was cleaning up from killing one chicken is just about as much work as cleaning up from 200. A little blood, a lot of blood, either way everything has to get totally clean. Only there’s just one dead chicken, verses food for dozens of families. So, I decided that day I’d set a minimum of 5 chickens next time.
In the before times (as they are called now) the crew used to eat lunches all together in Janaki and Annie’s house (ever more becoming Truman and Ellis’ house!). Some years we’d have a rotation down of who would go in a bit early to start lunch, other years we’d all cook together as fast as we could in an hour. Often I’d find myself in there with a pot of rice and a pile of vegetables and 25 minutes to put something together for 5, 6 sometimes 8 people. I could lie here because who’s going to check… but the truth is that the kitchen sometimes looked like a tornado had struck by the time I was finishing up. Many a time someone (Patricia) would come in and start working around me in the kitchen, scraping cut ends of onions off into the compost and washing salad spinners and colanders. But the end result was usually half way decent, fresh whole-food for a hungry farm crew and a kitchen that went back to sorts.
If only my kitchen at home had a person walking around behind me making things cleaner. Right now, it has a little person walking around pulling towels out of the drawer, putting measuring spoons between the fridge and the wall and holding onto the back of my pants. Basically, he’s no help. To boot, I’ve realized the same lesson applies from the chickens: cooking using whole food for 8 people – same mess as cooking for 3. Is this just me? So, the down side of that is obvious, it is: wow, what a mess. The plus side: it really isn’t so much more work to make twice, or three times as much and put some away for later. If you have to wash a cutting board, counter, knife and pots anyway, why not just chop a little more? If you’re roasting something, is another couple of baking sheets such a burden?
If anything, I write this as a pep talk to myself to just go nuts cooking. We can all go wild in these next few weeks of bounty, like squirrels running around frantically for acorns.
For the farm crew,
In your share this week:
Northeaster Green Beans – Carrots – Cilantro – Cucumbers – Greens Mix – Leeks – Onions – Red and Hot Peppers – Potatoes – Rutabagas – Acorn Squash -Tomatoes – Zucchini
from The Leek and the Carrot
My two cents, and educated guess, is that quiche is usually very flexible, and as long as you don’t add something too watery (like tomatoes) without changing the amount of milk you add, you can put in just about anything you want as substitutions. Example, leeks instead of onions, or adding red pepper instead of mushrooms.
Makes 2 9-inch quiches
Serves 8 (hungry farmers)
Takes 1 hour, 20 minutes
2 partially baked pie crusts (see below) or 2 store-bought pie crusts
1/4 cup sunflower oil (or olive oil), divided
4 cups diced butternut squash
1 tablespoon Kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, divided
1 garlic bulb
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 pound shittake mushrooms, loosely chopped
3 kale leaves, stalks removed and roughly chopped
1 cup finely shredded parmesan
2 cups half & half or whole milk
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss diced butternut squash with 2 tablespoons oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, sage, thyme and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Pour out onto a large baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes. Set aside once finished.
Cut the top off a garlic bulb. Drizzle with one tablespoon oil. Wrap in foil and add to the oven to roast until the squash is finished. Once cooked, remove from foil and squeeze cloves out of the peel. Gently chop and set aside.
Meanwhile, begin caramelizing onions. Combine last tablespoon oil and one tablespoon butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add onions, 1 teaspoon salt and remaining pepper. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for 15 minutes until well softened. Add sugar and continue cooking for 10 minutes until lightly browned and just caramelized. Remove from pan and set aside.
Wipe the large skillet out with a paper towel (if necessary) and add remaining tablespoon of butter. Melt over medium low heat. Add mushrooms along with remaining teaspoon Kosher salt. Saute for 5 minutes. Add kale and remaining 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Cook for an additional 5 minutes until just wilted.
Reduce oven temperature to 375 and prepare your quiche! Add half of the cooked butternut squash, chopped softened garlic, caramelized onions and sauted mushrooms and greens to each partially cooked pie crust. Sprinkle 1/2 cup parmesan cheese over each quiche.
In a large bowl, combine 6 eggs and cream or milk. Whisk until smooth. Pour mixture over each quiche so that all veggies are covered. Bake quiche for 35 minutes or until center is set. Enjoy warm today, tomorrow or all throughout the week!
2-1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 sticks butter, cut into pieces and very cold
1/2 cup cold water
I love to make pie crust in my food processor. I think it is the simplest thing on Earth. If you don’t have a food processor, follow this recipe; same techniques but no food processor necessary.
Before I even begin making the crust, I cut the butter into pieces and stick it in a bowl in the freezer. Then I fill a one- or two-cup measuring cup with 1/2 cup cold water and stick that in the freezer too. The trick with pie dough is to work quickly so that the butter stays cold and in small uneven pieces. This is what creates a flaky crust. Chilling these ingredients right before you start helps with this.
Combine flour, sugar and salt in the food processor and pulse a few times until well combined. Add all the butter at once and pulse a few times until broken up but not at all incorporated. What you are looking for is pea-sized pieces of butter sprinkled throughout. Uniform size is not important. Add half the cold water to the mixture, turn on the food processor and slowly pour in the rest of the water. Continue running the food processor until the dough comes together into one mass (it will not be a ball, but will be smooth and even).
Remove dough from food processor using a rubber spatula and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
When ready to use, turn half the pie dough out onto a well-floured counter. Dust the top with flour and roll out until about 12 inches in diameter. Press into a 10-inch pie pan, line with foil and add pie weights (or dried beans). Bake at 425 degrees (with the butternut squash works well!) for 10 minutes.
Carrot Salad with Tahini, Crisped Chickpeas and Salted Pistachios
From the Smitten Kitchen
1 3/4 cups cooked chickpeas, or 1 15-ounce can, drained and patted dry on paper towels
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 pound carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley
1/4 cup shelled, salted pistachios, coarsely chopped
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons well-stirred tahini
2 tablespoons water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and red pepper flakes to taste
Roast chickpeas: Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Toss chickpeas with one tablespoon olive oil, salt and cumin until they’re all coated. Spread them on a baking sheet or pan and roast them in the oven until they’re browned and crisp. This can take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size and firmness of your chickpeas. Toss them occasionally to make sure they’re toasting evenly. Set aside until needed.
Make dressing: Whisk all ingredients together until smooth, adding more water if needed to thin the dressing slightly. Taste and adjust seasoning; don’t worry if it tastes a little sharp on the lemon, it will marry perfectly with the sweet grated carrots.
Assemble salad: Place grated carrots in large bowl and toss with parsley. Mix in 2/3 of the dressing, adding more if desired. Add more salt and pepper if needed. Sprinkle with a large handful of chickpeas (you’ll have extra and if you’re like us, won’t regret it) and pistachios and dig in.
Do ahead: Salad keeps well in the fridge for two days, however, I’d add the chickpeas and pistachios right before serving, so they don’t get soft.