Saturday, November 29, 2014

Aaaaand Let the Leftovers Begin!

So, Turkey Day is over.  How was yours?  I'm thankful that my sister-in-law let me take over her kitchen to make Thanksgiving dinner.  And it turned out very well!
Front to back:  Sherry & Molasses Glazed Carrots, Cinnamon & Star Anise Cranberry Sauce,  Ratatouille a la Remy, Herb-Roasted Turkey With Maple Gravy, Cranberry Apple Stuffing, mashed potatoes with parsnips, salad.  Yeah, I forgot the sweet potatoes.
Now the fun part begins!  What to do about leftovers.  While we're on the topic of mashed potatoes, that's the one item where I way overdo it with the leftovers.  I always forget that there are quite a few starches on the table, and the quantity of mashed potatoes consumed is reduced due to this fact.  What can we do?
Photo via the Food Network

  • Potato pancakes  When I was a kid, my mom used to use leftover mashed potatoes to make potato pancakes for breakfast.  This recipe seems to approximate hers.  This one for cheesy mashed potato pancakes looks very promising too.
  • Waffles  Okay, this is a new one I stumbled upon while researching this article.  But... wow.
  • Shepherd's pie  Using them for a crust for shepherd's pie is great too.  You could make a traditional version, or use up some more leftovers by using turkey and sweet potatoes as well.  You could add in some of your green beans to that one, too.
  • Pot pies  As a variant on the shepherd's pie idea, replace the crust of your favorite turkey pot pie recipe with a layer of mashed potatoes.
  • Other starchy sides  Baked cheesy puffs or these creative spring rolls would be a great side to a dinner this week.
Photo via Joy the Baker

    Friday, November 21, 2014

    Thanksgiving Cometh

    There's less than a week to go before Thanksgiving.  Has everyone gotten their menu settled?
    Photo via
    I'd like to talk about what usually becomes a Thanksgiving afterthought:  the mashed potatoes.  On the Thanksgiving table, they're one of the least special items.  After all, we have them fairly often throughout the year, right?  So why are they supposed to be special on Thanksgiving?  Don't they almost have to be drowned out by the cranberry sauce and the stuffing?  No, I say!  They can hold their own!  By gosh, today they will be special!

    Photo via About Food
    But how?  What can make that starchy staple a standout?  Here are some tips:

    • Wash the potatoes first.  Well.  Use a brush.  Then slice them into thin (maybe 1/4" to 1/2") disks.  They'll cook faster.
    • Parsnips add complexity to the flavor of mashed potatoes.  Peel and slice them as thick as the potatoes, and boil then mash them together.
    • Use a food mill to mash them.  That makes the smoothest potatoes.  That's how restaurants get that incredible texture.  It also makes peeling the potatoes first unnecessary.
    • After you mash them, don't skimp on the salt and pepper.
    • Put a complimentary flavor in with the potatoes.  For example, take 1/4 cup of the turkey drippings and mix them in with the potatoes.  If your stuffing is heavy on thyme or sage, put a hint of it in the potatoes too.  Other flavors that might compliment might be some mashed roasted garlic or a bit of horseradish.
    • Fat makes mashed potatoes creamy.  Butter/margarine, sour cream, half and half, all are good options.  Of course, cheese is good (rumor has it that there is some amazing smoked cheddar at the store), or you could go all out.
    Good luck with the potatoes!

    Tuesday, November 18, 2014

    Hey, This Isn't Parsley!

    Yes, it kind of looks a little like parsley, but it's a very different flavor.  There have been plenty of times when I've been in a hurry and grabbed the wrong one.  And, I'll admit, planting them next to each other in the garden last year wasn't the brightest thing I've ever done.

    Most of us know cilantro is chopped up and put in guacamole, but it plays a role in a much broader swath of world cuisine than most people realize.  Cilantro, also called coriander (yes, they're the same) is native from Southeast Asia all the way across Eurasia to Southern Europe and North Africa.  And from Southern Europe, such as Spain, cilantro migrated across the Atlantic to Latin America.  In addition to using the leaves, the seeds are toasted and ground to use as a spice.  That's what you likely have in your spice rack.

    Photo via Food & Wine
    So, basically follow the Equator from the Pacific coast of Asia west around the whole world and you'll find cilantro in the local cuisine.  For example:

    Friday, November 14, 2014

    Apples, Apples, and More Apples

    Image via Blogging for Apples
    More talk about apples?  Yes!  There will be more baking apples in your box this week.  In addition, apples are on sale this weekend!  Just $1 per lb.  So, what to do with them?  Remember our initial discussion about fall crop share?  The idea isn't to try and use them all right away when you get them.  The idea is to put some of them up for the winter.

    That's not to say that you can't use them now.  We've talked about apples quite a bit recently (see this and this and this), so you know there's a lot you can do.  When I get a whole big bunch of apples, though, I like to put up apple pie filling in quart jars.  Put one quart of canned apple pie filling, slice about 1-2 more fresh (or cellared) apples and a few pats of butter into a crust and bake.  Almost-instant apple pie.

    So, without further ado,
    Image via Food In Jars
    Canned Apple Pie Filling
    • 10 cups peeled, cored and sliced apples
    • 2 1/4 cup apple cider
    • 1 1/2 cups water
    • 1/3 cup bottled lemon juice
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 1/4 cup Clear Jel
    • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
    • 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg (which is always better if you grate it fresh!)
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
    • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
    1. Prepare a boiling water bath canner and 3 quart jars. Put new lids in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer.
    2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and blanch the apple slices for 1 minute. Remove them from the pot and place them in a bowl of cold water with a splash of lemon juice in it.
    3. In another pot, combine the apple cider, water, and lemon juice. Set over high heat. While it heats, whisk together the sugar, Clear Jel, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves.
    4. Stream the sugar mixture into the water and juice, whisking well to incorporate without lumps. Bring a boil and cook, stirring constantly until it begins to thicken.
    5. Once the canning medium has thickened, fold in the apples and remove it from the heat. Fill the jars, leaving a generous inch of headspace. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 25 minutes.
    6. When time is up, turn the heat off, remove the lid, and slide the pot to a cooler burner. Let the jars sit in the water overnight to cool.
    Adapted from this recipe at Food In Jars.

            Tuesday, November 11, 2014

            Caldo Verde & Broa

            Photo via Garden Guy Hawaii
            The greens that were in this week's box that you likely didn't recognize are Brassica oleracea var. costata, commonly known as Portuguese cabbage or kale.  You can use them like any other Brassica, such as collard greens or kale.  (Here are some ideas from a while ago.)

            This is, however, a component of the national dish of Portugal.  You can also find it quite a bit around the Cape Cod area, which has a large Portuguese community.  It's a soup made from these leafy greens, onion, potato, and chicken stock.  (I'm sure we all still have some potatoes left over, right?)  Traditionally it's eaten with Broa, which is a yeast-based cornbread with wheat or rye flour added as well.  Here's my recipe for Caldo Verde:

            Photo via Williams Sonoma
            Caldo Verde

            • 8 ounces mild chorizo or Linguiça sausage
            • 3/4 lb. Portuguese cabbage
            • 1/4 cup olive oil
            • 2 medium onions, chopped
            • 1 lb. potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
            • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
            • 4 cups chicken stock, preferably unsalted
            • 1 cup water
            • salt & pepper
            • ham hock (optional)

            1. In a soup pot, warm the oil over medium heat and then sauté the onions until translucent, 10 minutes or so.  Add the potatoes and garlic, sauté 5 minutes more.  Add the water and stock, 2 tsp. salt, ham hock if using and the potatoes.  Simmer, covered, 30 minutes.
            2. Slice the sausages into bite-sized pieces, and boil them in water for 5 minutes.  Discard the water.
            3. Remove about half the potatoes and mash them.  Return to the pot, add the sausage, and continue to simmer until the sausages are cooked, 5 minutes more.
            4. Rinse the cabbage and slice the sides away from the tough center stems.  Stack the leaves together and roll lengthwise into a tight bundle, and slice (chiffonade) into very thin strips.  The longer pieces can be cut in half.
            5. Add the greens to the soup and simmer just until they are green and still a little crisp, 5 minutes.  Do not overcook the greens.
            6. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve, drizzling a little extra-virgin olive oil over the bowls of soup.
            Adapted from this recipe from Williams Sonoma.

            Wednesday, November 5, 2014


            Photo via Wikipedia
            There were beets in the box this week.  Quite a few, actually.  Awesome!

            Beets are really good for you.  They're a great source of folate and manganese.  In spite of their nutritional value, they taste really good too.

            But there were an astonishing number of beets in my box.  Scratching my head on what to do with it, I noticed that my son had just emptied a couple of pint jars of our fruit butter.  So I decided to make pickled beets.

            Pickled beets when I was growing up were, well, boring.  Yeah, they turned things purple, but it didn't really taste like much.  Fortunately, experimenting with my canning recipes, I found out that pickled beets can be very not boring.  A couple of added favors and... wow, what a difference.

            First, the boring version.  Boil the beets for around 20 minutes, until they're a little tender but still have snap.  Once they cool enough to handle, rub with a paper towel to take off the skin.  (I wear latex gloves so as to minimize staining my fingers.  It's also a very good idea to do this over the sink and not over your beautiful walnut cutting board.  Just sayin'.)

            Photo via Taste of Home
            Cut the beets into either disks or bite-sized chunks, and fill your sterilized jars.  Cover with a simple brine (equal parts cider vinegar and water, with about a tablespoon of pickling salt per pint of liquid). The beets should be completely covered under the liquid, and you should leave about 1/4" head space in the jar.  Process in a water bath for 25 minutes.

            But, here's the kicker.  Add some additional flavoring to your brine.  Here are some combinations that I've had success with:
            • Pickling spice
            • Cinnamon, clove and allspice
            • Honey and star anise (Here's the thing.  For some dumb reason, I bought a huge bag of star anise from Penzey's.  Why?  No clue.  But I've been experimenting putting it in everything just to not waste it.  Found some winners, like this one, and some not-so-winners.  P.S. Want some anise?  Happy to give you some...!)
            • Mustard seed, a bit of red pepper flakes, and sliced onions
            • Cumin and curry powder
            • Keep it simple with just a bit of sugar
            If you've got a favorite recipe for pickled beets, or a favorite way to use them, please feel free to comment!

            Saturday, November 1, 2014


            We have another interesting ingredient in our crop share this week:  leeks!  I know, next question is, "What's a leek?"  It kinda looks like a scallion, and they are actually closely related to both onions and garlic.  Leeks are much milder, however.  The white and light-green parts are what you want to eat, and for simplicity you can pretty much use them wherever you'd use onions.  They're an aromatic, like onions, celery, and fennel, so you can put them in things like seafood en papillote.  One of my favorite uses is to put them in pot pies in place of (or in addition to) onions.  For example I've put them in this, this, and they work particularly well in this and this.

            Reading up on leeks, I recently learned that they're highlighted in a number of Turkish dishes.  That gives me a great excuse to branch out into a new palate.  Two traditional Turkish dishes are at the top of my "to try" list.

            Photo via
            (Google Translate can help you)
            The first is Etli Pırasa Dolmas.  (Don't ask me how to pronounce that correctly.  No clue.)  Dolmas basically means a leaf wrapped around a filling of rice, spices, and sometimes meat.  For example, stuffed grape leaves you often find at Greek restaurants.  In this case, "tubes" of layers from the leek are softened in boiling salt water, then filled with ground meat.

            Photo via Almost Turkish
            The second dish is one of the signature dishes of Turkey, Zeytinyağlı Pırasa (again, I'm no help with pronunciation).  Here, the leeks are sort of poached in olive oil with some carrots, and mixed with lemony rice.  Which sounds amazing.