Archive for August, 2011

Mango-Radish Salsa (perfect for shrimp tacos!)

Once I got a healthy bunch of radishes in the cropshare I really had to rack my brain to decide what I actually wanted to do with them other than chop them up for salads. Greg and I searched the Food Network website to see what they had to offer in the way of radish recipes. We came across a great one for grilled shrimp with a mango, radish and lime salsa. The lightbulb went off in Greg’s head and this salsa was not only going to be made but used to perfectly dress our shrimp tacos.

Tyler Florence Mango,Lime Radish Salsa http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/grilled-shrimp-with-mango-lime-and-radish-salsa-recipe/index.html . We did it a little different so what we did is below, what Tyler suggests can be found above

 Ingredients:

2 limes
1 mango, diced
4 – 5 red radishes, diced
1 red onion, diced
1 tbsp chili powder
½ bunch fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
¼ cup EVOO
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
What to do: 
Squeeze the juice from the limes into a large bowl. We used the ‘surpremes’ (the segments not including the peel and pith) from one lime. Add everything else to the bowl with the lime and mix by hand. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and you will be good to go. With any salsa, the salsa gets better with a few hours to ‘marinate’ in its juices. We usually make our salsa a few hours to a day in advance of when we want to start really using it, just to let it soak in its flavors. When you are looking to store your salsa I highly recommend a glass container with saran-wrap to top it off. I have never successfully gotten the smell of a salsa with onions in it out of plastic containers, so glass containers are highly recommended!

For the shrimp side of our tacos we used small shrimp and pan fried them in panko breading. We put the shrimp in a small tortilla topped it off with a bit of shredded lettuce and the salsa. Absolutely delicious!! This is a salsa (and meal) we are definitely going to work into ‘rotation’ at our house. It was quick and easy and the salsa was great on chips the next day too!

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Crop Report Week 3

Now it is starting to feel like a routine, we are three weeks in and really loving being apart of this program. We spend the week going through what we haven’t finished yet – enjoying EVERY bite, and then on Friday look forward to a new batch of great ingredients that we will get to play with in the week ahead.  Saturdays we get to pick up any extra produce we may need to make these recipes come alive and then have at it.

Contents:

– Corn
– Habanero peppers
– Yellow tomatoes
– Canary Melon
– Red peppers
– Kale
– Grape tomatoes
– Butternut Squash
– Gala apples
– Basil (a huge, awesome,fresh bunch!)

One of these weeks I will have to take a picture of how full our box is just so you can get an idea of what an awesome feeling it is picking up these items! We had more visitors this weekend so we are sending them home with the corn – corn is great but I’m a little corned out at this point, they are also departing with some of the white peaches we were graced with last week, just too many peaches I was overwhelmed.

Since I have a good amount of yellow tomatoes I am thinking of using those to make a more unique yellow tomato sauce/marinara. I also have a nice bunch of fresh basil. In addition to freezing the basil this sauce will be the perfect way to use it! I am anticipating that the sauce will be sweeter than traditional sauce and will of course post my results on this!

For our fruit I am planning to dehydrate some of the apples into apple chips and then enjoy the rest. The grape tomatoes are such a great treat and I am happy to have them again this week! I have never ever had a canary melon before. From what I read online it looks to be a sweet melon so I cannot wait to cut it open and see what it holds. I’m usually not a melon person so we will see…

The peppers are in store for some big plans. Greg saw those and his eyes lit up! He has a few different ways that he wants to use them. He is really chomping at the bit to get to it, he sees peppers and his eyes really do light up. We are going to make some salsa with the larger hot peppers and then use the smaller habanero peppers in both salsa and for turkey chili. We haven’t made chili in a while so that will also allow us to use some onions we have in the house as well as the bell peppers we received last week.

Kale will be the most interesting this week.  I have never tasted, nor cooked kale before. It seems to be considered an aggressive lettuce, stores well and can be made into chips – what a diverse food! Definitely has piqued my interest. I may have a few kale recipes to share with you all when the week is up, maybe an overall kale do and don’t list? We will have to see how that ends up playing out.

We have already shared two recipes, I’m going to slowly add them as the weeks progress, I didn’t want to overwhelm anyone with all of the recipes we have made in a single week. To date we have made: pickles, mango radish salsa, fried green tomatoes, baked mini apple pies (not successful at all), traditional marinara and a few other things I’m forgetting… It has been great getting to roll up our sleeves and put our kitchen to good use. Again, look for some updates on our kitchen successes and failures – with pictures!

Stormy hurricane weather hopefully will lead to some good cooking – stay safe and dry East Coasters!

Pickling Cucumbers into Kosher Dills

Our weekly crop share included pickling cucumbers. This sent me into an immediate frenzy to find a Ball Mason jar (with a lid) large enough to pickle cucumbers while Greg went on a mad dash to find out how to pickle cucumbers and what the best ingredients to include may be. We only had 3 or 4 cucumbers to pickle and Kosher Dill ‘flavor’ was the most obvious choice. With our mason jar and seasonings in hand we rolled up our sleeves and went on a pickling expedition.

What you will need:

Pickling Cucumbers
Dill (app. 10 sprigs)
White Vinegar (3 tbsp)
Salt
Water

Here is what you will need to do to turn those ‘cukes into pickles. Place 5 sprigs of dill at the bottom of the mason jar. Prep your cucumbers by cutting off the ends. This may seem strange but it worked. Just cut the two ends off, not too far in, just enough to give it a nice ‘open’ edge. Place your cucumbers into the jar vertically/up-right and then fill it up half way with water. Add 3 tbsp of vinegar to the jar combination.  Add 2 tsp of salt and the last 5 sprigs of dill. Fill the remaining space with more water. Close tightly!!

At this point put your jar in the windowsill so that they can ‘sun’ for about 4 – 5 days. You can open them as soon as 3 days but they will not taste very kosher-dill, more like a mild new pickle. The longer you leave them soaking the more they will taste like a true kosher dill pickle.If you like a pickle with a bit more garlic, throw in a clove or two of minced garlic and you will pick up some garlic undertones.

We kept ours in the jar for 5 days, we tested them after 3 and they weren’t quite ready for our liking but after the 5th day they were tasting pretty darn delicious! Having them on the windowsill seemed strange but it worked, store in the fridge once you open them up. Enjoy your pickles!

Frying your Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes ‘Recipe’

Let’s start of these recipes with a really basic one, slow and steady folks! Fried green tomatoes, when done right, are one of the tastiest treats!! If you have never had one, you will definitely have to try them next time you see them on a menu, absolutely delicious! I am not claiming these to be healthy, just absolutely delicious!

The amount of fried green tomatoes you would like to make is up to you – look for a nicely sized green tomato, I found those to be ideal for frying up. If you are afraid of the bitterness, opt for a green tomato that is beginning to lean towards the orangey side.

What you’ll need:

Handful of flour
Dash of kosher salt
Dash of fresh ground black pepper
Breadcrumbs – I prefer Panko
Oil
2 eggs
Pinch of milk
Item to fry – in this case Green Tomatoes

You will also want to set aside 3 bowls and start by heating up your oil. Many people I know prefer to use a deep-fryer but for something as small as these tomatoes I haven’t found that to be necessary. I use a medium frying pan and just make sure I have about 1 – 2” of oil. I do start to heat that up right away. Typically I find that slowly heating it up is a nice way to prevent a burn taste from creeping into the dish. You will next want to slice up your tomatoes into somewhat even slices. I prefer mine to be a bit thicker, thicker slices keep the tomatoes juicier and give a nice bite when you devour them.

This next part may be a bit frustating because I have never actually measured out, just ‘eyeballed’ it and went by taste, so stay with me on this one. I promise for future receipes to do better measuring!

In one bowl you will want to mix up somewhere near a 1/2 cup of flour. With the flour include your salt and pepper. Mix these three up. In your next bowl please add your 2 eggs and about 1/4 cup of milk. Whisk the eggs – feel free to use a fork, no need to get that fancy – and the milk together almost as if you were getting ready to make scrambled eggs. In your last bowl please add a healthy amount of breadcrumbs. I usually add the breadcrumbs around 1/2 cup at a time. This way when I’m done I don’t waste too many.

The first stop for your slice of tomato is in the flour/salt/pepper bowl. Give it a good dip in there and really try to coat both sides with the flour combination. As you are working through your tomato slices, if you find that your flour combination is being depleted just add some more. For each bit of flour you add be sure to also throw in some additional salt and pepper too!

From there move that slice over to the egg bowl. Dip it in and make sure the egg really covers both sides of the tomato. Once it has been egged move the tomato slice into the breadcrumbs. You will want to be sure to coat all sides of the tomato slice thoroughly with your breadcrumbs. I usually flip my tomato slice once or twice in the bowl to ensure even coating on each side. Once that is thoroughly coated moved it over into the oil and fry it up! You can work the above steps on other slices while you have some finished slices cooking. DO keep an eye on those cooking to ensure that you flip them after a few minutes. Look for a nice brown color on the breadcrumbs. Add additional oil to pan during the cooking to ensure there is always about 1 – 2″ of oil for your tomatoes to cook in.

Once they are a golden brown color move the slice to a plate covered in a paper towel. This will help soak up excess oil from your fried green tomato.

Many people dip their fried green tomatoes in a variety of sauces and dressings. Some popular ones include: Green Goddess dip, Ranch dressing, chipotle dressing and so on. Unfortunately I have not gotten up the courage to try making Green Goddess dip – if you have a recipe for it please do share!! Eating them au natural is also a good treat! Enjoy!

(I apologize in advance for my poor food photography skills) 

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Crop Report Week 2

Ask and you shall receive! Last week I complained that the share was lacking a bit of variety, well did they deliver this week. I am happy to report that I did feel less overwhelmed and more excited to roll up my sleeves and see what tasty creations I was able to make! From here on out I will do a weekly share report about what we received a quick overview of what we did, or plan to, use the items for and then post later on in the week with the outcomes (including recipe ideas if they turned out delicious!).

Contents:

– 4 ears of corn
– 3 yellow tomatoes & Green tomatoes (you better believe we are frying those bad boys up!)
– 5 white peaches
– Cantaloupe
– Radishes
– Green & Red Pepper (1 each)
– Grape tomatoes
– 4 Pickling cucumbers
– Acorn Squash
– 4 baking apples (Rambo)

WOW! I couldn’t believe how full my weekly box was! It was amazing and wonderful! This week we were ready for a challenge and it was just handed to us in a nice box. On our short drive home from the nursery we were rambling off our hopes and dreams for this weeks’ share.

Corn was going to be boring but lovely again! We considered doing salsa with it but that corn is just so delicious on its own so we are going to plan to leave the corn au natural. Similar plans were made for the grape tomatoes – I seriously eat them by the handful as snacks and that’s how they will be used in this case too. Maybe they can join lettuce in a salad…we will see. And the pickling cucumbers sound perfect for pickling! We have never pickled before so that experiment should be a fun one!

For our fruit we plan to eat a few of the peaches and then see about using our nifty food dehydrator to make some ‘peach chips’. The apples are great for baking so we are going to make mini apple pies with them. Pictures and recipe to follow!!

I am expecting this to be a busy but fun week for our new produce! We have lots of ideas and need to get started sitting down going over our recipes and seeing what else we have in the use to be as efficient with this as possible.

Again, recipes and details (maybe some photos too) to follow!

Crop Report – Week 1 Sharing Details

Crop Share Week 1:

This is the week that I learned what the ‘share’ in crop-shares meant. I went to pick up my box with all of the anticipation of a kid on Christmas – what is waiting for me!!! It was great, looking back I was a bit disappointed in the lack of variety, but that may have actually been a blessing in disguise so that we could ease into this new routine.

Contents:

– 8 ears of corn
– 8 heirloom tomatoes (absolutely huge!)
– 10 peaches – absolutely delicious!
– French melon – cousin to the cantaloupe

Well, we are a family of 2, having this much of a small variety of produce was very overwhelming, to say the least. First things first – we had some out-of-town guests and what better gift to send them home with than fresh Virginia corn and tomatoes, and a few peaches too! They loved them all so that was perfect. We used the corn a few different ways but nothing too thrilling, we were just getting our feet wet at this point.

Corn two boring ways: boiled and grilled. Wow, bet you didn’t see that coming! Yep, we boiled corn in salted and sugared water one evening as a side to a chicken dish and then grilled it in the husks (after thoroughly soaking them in water) as a side dish to steak. The corn was delicious, boring as the cooking techniques may have been you just cannot beat fresh corn on the cob!

The tomatoes were a bit more interesting to try to utilize efficiently. We ended up making pasta sauce, a nice marinara with a Giada recipe, salsa and of course as extras on burgers, in salads and so on. They were really great tomatoes.

The peaches were a no-brainer – we washed those suckers off and had them as a snack daily. I won’t lie, I was very disappointed when those peaches ran out. I hadn’t had peaches in a very long time – Greg isn’t a huge fan and I go hot and cold with certain fruits – but wow did these peaches remind me of why I enjoy fresh peaches!

Again, not a huge variety to start the share off with, BUT it definitely helped us get our feet wet and get used to having ‘extra’ produce we needed to use and not waste. I’m happy to report that we did well, in my opinion. Sharing is caring after all!

The Allure of the Crop Share

In my neck of the woods buying American, buying local and supporting the troops are becoming more and more of a way of life. It is all about the small, local business owner and your neighbors, which is nice. It is a great feeling to live life this way and something that I am excited to jump into more fully. Around here there are more than a handful of farmers markets which is a great way to spend an evening picking up local bread, small produce, homemade pasta and gorgeous flowers. It is very easy to develop a relationship with these vendors and is a lovely way to pass some time. Through my experiences at some of our local farmers markets I started getting the itch to consider joining a crop share….

Joining a crop share held a lot of allure in my eyes. It would eliminate my need to go to the food store and seek out the best available produce. Many times if I did not hit the store around the same time as a delivery the produce was well picked-over and didn’t always appeal to me. To go to the food store with the best produce available I would have to travel a bit further and after commuting Monday – Friday the appeal (and energy) in that was just not there.

I also wasn’t being creative with my cooking and produce choices. I went with the safe bets – tomatoes, bananas, some sort of berries, maybe a pineapple if I was feeling tropical, cucumbers and peppers – I mean nothing exciting at all here folks. The food store is a safe place that allows you to really choose what you want to cook with and make that week but it was too easy to skip over items I hadn’t ever tried working with and so I didn’t buy those things. If I purchased my produce locally I was at least able to inquire a little more about what this type of melon tasted like, or ask about their favorite way to try and cook this awesome squash…. A crop share seemed like the perfect way to put the food in control and have me learn some new techniques and foods and really spice up the kitchen.

In early summer my crop-share prayers were answered. To this point my biggest fear about joining a crop share was that I would be paying for a lot of food that I wouldn’t’ consume and would not know how to cook with. A local nursery, that also sells local produce, sent out an email to customers offering an exciting opportunity for a limited ‘beta test group’, they were looking to start a crop-share but wanted to try it out first with a limited number of subscribers – they definitely had my attention now. The terms of our crop share was one bushel of mixed items (and flowers!) once a week for six weeks for a very minimal price (in comparison with other crop shares in the area). After six weeks if they continued the program we could continue as well with a discount.

This was the perfect opportunity for me – I was only locked in for six weeks, the price was really insignificant for this timeframe and I would get a chance to see if this was something Greg and I could conquer. Could we really go through this much mixed food in a week? Would we be able to be creative or would we hate most of what we were presented with? We jumped in and here I am now, to share our successes and failures and the funny recipes that may ‘crop’ up along the way. I am going to apologize in advance for our poor food photography, maybe in 5 weeks we will be better at it J Please sit back, enjoy our crop adventures and please take a moment to share what has worked, or flopped, for you!

To the crops & beyond!
Allison

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