Thursday, October 30, 2014

Short Winter Crop Share

This is the last week of Fall Crop Share!

Our next round is Short Winter Crop Share.  There will still be fall things at the beginning, so if you've enjoyed the recent contents there should be a few more weeks of the same.  If you haven't signed up yet, you can either email or sign up when you pick up this week's box.

More recipes to follow shortly!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

It's a Hubbard Squash

The winter squash you probably didn't recognize is a golden Hubbard squash.  Most commonly it's used as a substitute for pumpkin, so anywhere you'd use pumpkin, like in soups, you can use this squash.  Or, even better... pie!

Photo via Reimer Seeds

To me, nothing says "Americana" more than a pumpkin pie.  In this case, the recipe even mentions a Hubbard squash specifically.  I'm happy to share (below) my pumpkin pie recipe.

But first, here's another of my favorites.  It's a dip that's highly reminiscent of pumpkin pie.  It's very quick to put together, and it's a great appetizer for get-togethers.  The ginger snaps are a perfect compliment as well.  As a matter of fact, it's inspired me to try making a ginger snap crust for this Thanksgiving's pumpkin pie.

Pumpkin dip
  • 8oz cream cheese
  • 8 oz pumpkin
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • ginger snaps
Mix all ingredients well and serve with ginger snaps.

Burt's Pumpkin Pie
  • 2 Tbsp butter or margarine
  • 1-1/2 cup cooked fresh or canned pumpkin
  • 1 ½ tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp mace
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  1. Line a 9" pie pan with pastry and keep it cool in refrigerator while you make up the pumpkin filling.
  2. Start your oven at 450 degrees.
  3. Melt butter and stir it into the pumpkin (or squash) along with the spices.
  4. In a separate bowl beat the eggs until light and frothy. Stir the flour, both types of sugar, salt and milk into the beaten eggs. Then mix the egg mixture and pumpkin mixture together with a gentle hand.
  5. Pour the filling into the unbaked pie shell and bake for 15 minutes. At the end of this time reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake for 45 minutes longer; or, until the tip of a knife inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean and shining.

        Wednesday, October 22, 2014

        Member Submissions

        I'm always happy to have members send in their favorite recipes.  If you have any that you like, particularly ones involving the current week's crop share, please send them to me at  I'm also happy to get ideas for posts you'd like to see, and any other feedback you might have to make this blog more helpful.

        If you're looking for something to do with your beet greens from this week, here's a suggestion from one member.  It's actually quite a hearty soup, and the weather lately definitely calls for soup.

        Photo via Whole Foods Market
        A member sent us this link on how to roast whole butternut squash.  I've found that if you've got a heavy-duty vegetable peeler, you can use it to peel the squash prior to baking and then follow that recipe.

        The final recipe is cheesy, creamy grits with butternut squash.  This one comes courtesy of Paula Deen, so you can be really sure of the cheesy and creamy part.

        Photo via Hoffman Media
        Easy Cheesy Butternut Squash 'n' Grits

        • 1 butternut squash (about 3 pounds)
        • 3 cups half-and-half
        • 1 cup water
        • 1 cup quick-cooking grits
        • ½ teaspoon salt
        • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
        • 1 ½ cups shredded sharp white Cheddar cheese
        • 3 tablespoons butter
        • 3 tablespoons olive oil
        • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
        • ¼ teaspoon seasoned pepper
        1. Preheat oven to 350°.
        2. Using the tip of a sharp knife, pierce squash several times on all sides. Place squash directly on middle oven rack, and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or just until tender. Remove from oven, and let stand until cool enough to handle.
        3. Cut squash in half lengthwise; remove and discard seeds and stringy fiber. Peel squash, and cut flesh into about 1-inch cubes.
        4. In a large saucepan, bring half-and-half and 1 cup water to a boil over medium heat. Slowly stir in grits, salt, and garlic powder. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until grits are thickened. Stir in cheese and butter until melted.
        5. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add squash cubes, sage, and seasoned pepper; cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until squash is lightly browned and tender. Serve over hot grits. Garnish with sage sprig, if desired.

        There are plenty of mums here at Nalls, and they're beautiful!

        Thursday, October 16, 2014

        Who Else Made Cabbage Rolls?

        One of the most glorious uses of cabbage, a staple in European cuisine for centuries, comes from Eastern Europe.  From eastern Germany and across Poland, cabbage rolls are a comforting meal as the days get colder.  See below for my family's formerly-secret recipe.

        With the rest of your cabbage, try making your own sauerkraut (and no, the Juniper berries are not optional).

        Photo via Designs by Pinky
        Cabbage Rolls (or, in Polish, Galumpkis)

        • 12 large cabbage leaves
        • 1 beaten egg
        • 1/4 cup water
        • 1 cup cooked rice
        • 1/4 cup chopped onion
        • 1-1/4 teaspoon salt
        • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
        • 1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves
        • 1-1/4 pounds ground beef
        • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
        • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
        • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


        1. Immerse cabbage leaves in boiling water for 3 minutes, or just until limp; drain. Combine next 7 ingredients. Add beef; mix thoroughly. Place about 1/4 cup of meat mixture in center of each leaf; fold in sides and roll ends over meat. Fasten with wooden picks (optional); place  in large skillet.
        2. Combine remaining ingredients. Pour over cabbage rolls. Simmer, covered, 1 hour, basting occasionally. Remove cover for last 5 minutes; or, until sauce is of desired consistency. Serves 6.
        These freeze very well; so, make extra for another time or two. The recipe doubles easily.

        Tuesday, October 14, 2014

        They're Not the Same

        They're not the same.  Potatoes and sweet potatoes, I mean.  They're actually really different.  Ever cut up potatoes, then leave your knife on the cutting board for a while?  The white residue is potato starch.  Sweet potatoes are much less starchy.  They have a different nutritional profile, too.  Like most orange veggies, they're really high in Vitamin A.  Even though they're different, you can use the them in a lot of the same ways.

        Photo via Chez Us
        When I asked around the staff, the most common use of sweet potatoes was simply baked.  Way easy, too.  Use a fork to poke holes in them to vent steam, then nuke 'em for 8-12 minutes.  Done.  Serve with butter, sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup... You get the idea.  You can even twice-bake them (recipe at the end of the post).

        Photo via Simply Recipes
        This is my favorite way.  You can actually replace potatoes in most recipes with sweet potatoes, so make just like you would standard mashed potatoes.  Don't add sour cream or creme fraiche, though.  Just butter.  To dress them up, molasses is wonderful.  Or do something with a touch of bourbon.

        Photo via Cookstr
        Anyone else love potato pancakes?  Replace regular potatoes in whatever recipe you use.  You might change out the seasonings, depending on what you do.  Or add some shredded apples.

        Photo via Parade Magazine
        Not being from the South myself, this isn't something with which I've had much experience.  But the staff would likely run me out on a rail if I don't mention it.  Some promising-looking recipes are here, here and here.

        Sweet potatoes don't have to be the big Thanksgiving production with marshmallows.  But they're great that way, too.  Or, this year, try a little twist to the old favorite.

        Twice-Baked Orange Sweet Potatoes

        • 3 sweet potatoes, scrubbed
        • 1/4 cup orange juice
        • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
        • 1/4 teaspoon salt
        • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
        • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
        • 3 oranges peeled, sectioned and coarsely chopped
        • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds

        Preheat oven to 375°F.

        Prick sweet potatoes with a fork; bake 1 hour or until tender. (Leave oven on.) Halve sweet potatoes lengthwise; scoop out the pulp and reserve the skins. Mash pulp with orange juice, butter, salt, pepper and ginger; stir in oranges.

        Pile mixture into reserved sweet potato skins; top with almonds. Bake 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve hot.

        Tuesday, October 7, 2014

        The Earthiness of Fall

        Mushrooms in the box are always a treat for me.  The earthiness they bring to any dish just fits this time of year.  The weather has turned a bit cooler, and will continue to cool.  So let's make some soup!  Mushroom soups broadly fall into two categories, creamy and not creamy.  In many recipes, a basic mushroom ragout serves as a foundation.  I'll give you a ragout recipe at the end, but meanwhile let's talk about some soup.

        Photo via Food & Wine

        Soups Without the Cream
        I'm making mushroom barley soup with my mushrooms.  It's really hearty and filling, and has been a family favorite for some time now.  This mushroom and sausage soup is along a similar vein, although I don't think angel hair pasta fits too well.  I use some small, round pasta, such as orecchiette, which works well.  I also love this porcini mushroom soup recipe, the tomatoes really make it unusual as far as mushroom soups go.  The mushrooms in the box are baby bellas, which can fit nicely in any of these recipes, either alone or mixed with other types.

        Photo via Food & Wine

        Creamy Mushroom Soups
        I've been on a quest for the perfect creamy mushroom soup recipe for what seems like forever.  (Corny as it seems, I do think La Madeleine does a pretty solid job.)  Some, such as this one, use heavy cream.  Others, however, get their creamy texture from just the mushrooms and butter.  Two good examples are here and here.

        Mushroom Ragout
        This is a chunky "sauce" made from mushrooms, and it's really a versatile fall recipe.  You can add it to soups to bring in the creamy, earthy mushroom taste, substitute it wherever you use cream of mushroom soup to bring a richer, more complex taste, or (my favorite) use it to top baked or mashed potatoes.  Adapted from this recipe.


        • Olive oil, for sautéing
        • 4 ounces finely diced pancetta
        • 2 tablespoons butter
        • 1 1/4 pounds fresh mushrooms, any type or mixture, sliced
        • 1 large shallot
        • 2-3 large sprigs thyme
        • 1/4 cup strong red wine
        • half-and-half, to taste
        • salt and pepper

        1. Sautée the pancetta in the olive oil until crispy and golden, 5 minutes.  Remove the pancetta to a plate, reserving the rendered fat in the pan.  Melt the butter in the pan as well.
        2. Cook the shallot until soft and transparent, then add the mushrooms and thyme.  Cook until the mushrooms begin to release their liquid, 8-10 minutes.
        3. Remove the mushrooms, discard the thyme, and deglaze the pan with the wine.  Cook until reduced by half, then fold back in the mushrooms and pancetta.  Season with salt and pepper.  If using cream, add it 2 tablespoons at a time until you reach your desired consistency, then reduce slightly.
        4. Serve over potatoes, polenta, or in an omelet.

        Saturday, October 4, 2014

        More Apples and More Apples!

        There are apples in the box.  As there were last week, and as there will be for the next several weeks.  And it's a good thing.  Apples are a major crop for Virginia.

        Okay,  but how many times in a row can one eat baked apples, or cobbler?  You start seeing the same syndrome as we had with zucchini in the summer.

        So let's see what we can do to move apples from dessert to the main meal.  Here we go, savory dishes with apples!

        Apples and pork is an incredibly classic combination that has stood the test of time.  Whether the apples are roasted, pan-seared, braised in a stew, or sautéed, the apples lend a sweetness that brings out the flavor of the pork.

        Have you started thinking about Thanksgiving menus yet?  Stuffing has to be one of my favorite items on the holiday table.  Okay, all of the dishes are one of my favorites, who are we kidding?  The heavily-herbed, sage-loaded dish of yesteryear isn't the only option!  Apples and chestnuts in stuffing lighten and sweeten it.  This recipe is the stuffing I make almost every year.  This one includes bacon, whose saltiness balances out the sweet from the apples.  This recipe for acorn squash uses another apple and chestnut stuffing, but the rye bread lends a lot of character to it.  If you can find a sourdough rye, that's even better!

        Other meats
        Pork isn't the only meat to compliment apples.  This is a fantastic way to make Cornish hens.  Every Easter, I make ham in an apple-Riesling sauce.  Okay, yes, ham is pork.  Preparing it seems different enough in my book to warrant its own category.  Author's prerogative!

        Photo via A Touch of Zest
        Vegetarian Options
        When I was growing up, potato pancakes were made from leftover mashed potatoes.  When I started making them from shredded potatoes, it went up to another level.  But latkes with sweet potatoes?  And apples?  Whoa!  Awesome!  I also recently stumbled across these multi-grain pancakes with shredded apple, which are amazing.

        But let me share a family secret.  Braised red cabbage, or Rotkohl, is a staple of northern European cuisine.  It's one of those dishes that is fairly easy to prepare, but improves over decades of practice.  And here's our family recipe:

        • 1 small head red cabbage
        • 2-3 tart apples, peeled, cored & diced small
        • 1/2 cup cider vinegar, plus more to taste
        • 1/2 cup full-bodied red wine
        • 1/4 cup sugar or honey, plus more to taste
        • 4 allspice berries
        • 6 juniper berries
        • 4 black peppercorns
        • 2 whole cloves
        • Small spice bag, tea egg, or snippet cheesecloth
        • Salt to taste
        1. Put spices in tea egg or spice bag, or into a cheesecloth satchel.  Place in bottom of slow cooker.
        2. Loosen shredded cabbage and place in slow cooker.  Toss in apples and sugar or honey.  Add liquid ingredients and salt generously.
        3. Cook on low 8 hours or longer.  About 20 minutes before serving, taste and add vinegar, sweetener, or salt to taste.  Stir well and cook 20 minutes longer.  Strain before serving.

        Thursday, October 2, 2014

        Staples of Fall

        There were lots and lots of turnips in the box this week.  Fall is the season for root veggies:  turnips, potatoes, carrots, rutabagas, onions, lots of goodness.  These are the components of good, hearty fall meals.

        Lots of people wonder what to do with turnips.  Honestly, use them in anything where you'd use potatoes or carrots.  Turnips are related to horseradish, and they'll add some of that sharp, in-the-nose quality, albeit in much milder form.  Turnips contain a fair amount of sugar, too, which you can caramelize.  Let's make a simple stew.

        Photo via Epicurious
        Veggie Stew
        Pick whichever root veggies you'd like.  Some of those turnips, for example.  Peel and cut into bite-sized chunks.  Add some aromatics too, like onions, celery, and/or fennel.  Again, chop into bite size pieces.  It doesn't matter how much of what ingredient.  Use more of the ones you like more.

        Here's my Stew Secret.  Put a pan (or a wok, if you have one) over high heat, and let the pan pre-heat for a minute or two.  Put in some high smoke point oil, such as grape seed or peanut, and let it warm up for a few seconds. Toss the veggies in and stir continuously just until they've got some brown on them, but not black.  The brown is caramelized sugars.  Good stuff. Turn the heat to low, sprinkle on some flour (a tablespoon or two), then stir well for maybe a minute.  Put the veggies into a pot or slow cooker.  

        Add some flavorful liquid. This could be wine, stock, or a robust beer.  My favorite stews use a good Belgian beer.  (Even if you don't like to drink them, those beers take on a different character in a stew.) Optionally, you can put in some herbs (bay, thyme, etc.).  Let it cook low and slooooooow all day.  Salt & pepper only after its done.  Now, how easy was that?

        Photo via Food & Wine
        Variations on a Theme
        That's a vegetable stew, and it's heartier than you think.  Of course you can add meat of any kind, especially the cheaper cuts, which benefits from lots of low heat cooking.  Just like the veggies, cut into bite-size pieces, brown, add a little flour, and in the pot.

        Here are some good recipes I've used, but you'll see that they're all variations on this theme.  Many stew recipes will only list carrots, but adding in other root vegetables can't be a bad thing!  Tomato paste enriches and sets apart this classic Bistro stew.  And, speaking of flavorful liquids, how about some cognac in your beef stew?  Fall is football season, and stews are great for watching the game.  Our family's absolute favorite stew, though, has to be this southwest-inspired one.  Here's another southwestern stew, this time a bit spicier.

        Happy fall!