Follow Your Food: Spring Latkes

Memorial Day is the unofficial marker of our transition from Spring into Summer. Now the sun rises early and sets late, giving plants longer hours of solar radiation for photosynthesis and metabolism. The increased photon energy provided by longer days allows for greater glucose sugar production. Naturally, as the plant makes more sugar, it must be allocated for storage. So, to keep up with energy production, the roots of certain species develop to accommodate the glut of glucose and store it as a carbohydrate. Over time this storage unit becomes a viable food crop, which we all enjoy in the form of a carrot or a beet. This trait to store increased energy is not ubiquitous among all species. Normally, it is either something represented in perennial plants, who must survive for a number of years or has been cultivated in annual plants from years of farming. Most plants would prefer to allocate available resources directly towards reproduction and setting a flower head. Eventually the fertilized flower develops into a fruiting body to provide life to a new generation, or to a hungry table. This requires an immense amount of energy, and if the plant has not met a critical mass of photosynthetic capacity, reproduction can stress a plant. So, it is critical that the season is right and the days are long to plant a fruiting crop. As Spring is to green, summer is to color; that color is derived by new growth in root and fruit crops. This week we saw an example the shape and color of early summer food with fresh Zucchini and Carrots.

Fortunately, for most, the introduction to summer is met with an extended weekend. I know how I will spend these long days ahead; sharing food and late afternoon memories with friends to grow our roots deeper.

This is an amended recipe to one I found online for some vegetable latkes (or fritters, whatever you prefer). I must say, this is an easy and delicious way to use seasonal produce, and nothing but seasonal produce. If you go online, there are a lot of iterations of this meal. I went with what worked best for the materials I had on hand. Find what works best for you. But here is a little kick to get you on your way…

Ingredients to serve 4 Latkes:

  • 2 small Zucchini, shredded (Groundwork Organics)
  • 3-4 medium Carrots, peeled and shredded (Organic Redneck)
  • 1 medium Potato, boiled and mashed (Rainshadow Organics)
  • 2 cloves of Garlic, minced (Groundwork Organics)
  • 1 Green Onion, chopped (Cinco Estrellas)
  • 1/4 tsp thyme (Sagestruck Herbary)
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour (Rainshadow Organics)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika, or 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or both!)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Half & Half

Cooking instructions:

  1. Begin by prepping your zucchini and carrots by shredding with a large-holed cheese grader. If you are like me and lack this piece of equipment, this can be done with some dextrous knife work. Transfer veggies to a collander, add the salt and mix. Allow to sit for 15 minutes or so.
  2. Add the potato to water and boil until soft all of the way through. This can be accomplished more quickly if the potato is quartered beforehand. Remove potato to a bowl, add the half & half and mash.
  3. Add the Flour and Baking powder to a separate bowl and mix.
  4. Squeeze the veggies dry, using either just your hands or a cheesecloth, and transfer to a bowl. Add the Garlic, Paprika, Cayenne and Thyme. Mix together. Now add the mashed up potato, mix. Lastly, add the flour/baking powder and mix.
  5. Once mixed, grab a medium sized handful and pack into a ball, repeat 3 times. Place the uncooked latkes on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes so that they hold form better while cooking.
  6. Heat up 2 Tbsp of oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add the packed latkes. Cook for 3-5 minutes and turn. They should be slightly charred and crisp when flipped. Cook for another 3-5 minutes. Fin!

I did not have the ingredients at my disposal to make an adequate sauce for serving, but these would be amazing served with a yogurt based side. Perhaps yogurt, cucumber and lemon.

This was so easy, so good, and almost 100% local, that it may just become a staple in my diet.

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Recipes for CSA Share: 10-22-14

The bounty of fall is here and it’s so colorful! Each one of this week’s items has its own unique flavor that can be paired wonderfully together to celebrate the start of the season. The below recipes utilize all of this week’s share items and some other basic ingredients you probably already have on hand. Some of the other linked ingredients below are available to add to your weekly order!

Roasted Root Veggies (beets, sunchokes and sweet potatoes)

A great alternative for those already tiring of fall squash, this recipe is wonderful on its own as a vegetarian dinner, or paired with a hearty oven-roasted (or slow cooker) beef brisket. You can cut your veggies to any size you prefer – just be sure that they’re all relatively the same size to cook evenly.

Ingredients

½ lb. beets (trimmed, peeled)
½ lb. sunchokes (about 6, scrubbed, no need to peel!)
½ lb. potatoes (peeled)
2 medium sized carrots (peeled)
1 ½ Tblsp. Dried rosemary
3 Tblsp. Olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

  • Preheat oven to 400F
  • Cut all veggies in to same desired size, about 1 in. diameter
  • Toss all ingredients together to evenly coat
  • Lay mixture out in one even layer on a baking sheet
  • Roast 40-45 minutes (mixing around halfway through) or until beets and carrots are fork tender

Optional: You can add in peeled, whole cloves of garlic halfway through for a delicious flavor boost. Just make sure you add them before you toss the veggies at the halfway point so they get a light oil coating.

Fava Bean Burgers with an Asian Daikon Radish and Carrot Slaw

Adding Asian flavors to seasonal fall produce is a great way to inject some new, fresh flavor on a dark fall evening. The burgers can be eaten the day of or pre-made and frozen for a quick weeknight dinner later in the week. Experiment with condiments like wasabi mayonnaise, sriracha, sweet chili sauce, peanut sauce and more!

Ingredients

Fava Bean Burger Patties

2 cups shelled fava beans
3 cups fresh spinach
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. curry powder (or paste)
1 clove garlic, minced finely
¼ cup cilantro leaves
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 egg
½ cup canola oil (spike with some sesame or chili oil if you have it)

Daikon Radish and Carrot Slaw

½ cup rice vinegar
2 tsp. agave (or white sugar)
¼ tsp. salt (or celery salt if you have it)
¼ tsp. mustard powder
3 Tblsp. sesame oil (or canola oil)
1 medium daikon radish, sliced in to thin strips (or grated on sturdy cheese grater)
3 carrots, peeled and sliced in to thin strips (or grated on cheese grater)
½ cup chopped scallions

Method

  • Blanch the fava beans in boiling water for about a minute then immediately run under cold water in a colander. Drain thoroughly.
  • While the beans cool, wilt the spinach in a hot pan with 1 Tblsp. of the oil over medium heat and set aside.
  • With your fingernails peel the skins of the fava beans. Discard the skins and add the beans to a large mixing bowl.
  • Add spinach, rice, spices, garlic, and the remaining oil. Mash with a potato masher until you have a crumbly mixture that is well blended. This will be the consistency of the patties so mash to your preference. The finer the mash the better the burgers will hold together.
  • Add the spinach, cilantro and breadcrumbs. Taste the mixture and adjust if necessary. Add the egg and mix well.
  • Shape the mixture in to 1 inch thick patties, 2 – 2 ½ inches in diameter, all uniform in size. Place them on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 30-40 minutes. If you’re freezing any of the patties for later use, now is the time. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.
  • As your burgers chill, prepare your slaw. Combine vinegar, agave and spices in a medium sized bowl. Whisk in oil. Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix well. (This slaw is even better if prepared the day before and left in the fridge to incorporate the flavors overnight)
  • When ready to cook the patties, heat the remaining oil in a cast iron (or other deep non-stick frying pan) over high heat. Once a couple of drops of water in the pan pop, the oil is ready. Add the burgers a couple at a time and fry until golden brown. This will take about 5 minutes per side. Drain cooked patties on a paper towel.
  • Serve the burgers topped with the slaw and any Asian condiment that sounds good and enjoy!

Pear and Basil Collins

This twist on a classic cocktail is a refreshing, seasonal sip to pair with the fava bean burgers or to simply enjoy for a homemade happy hour after work. This recipe uses tonic water but you can easily substitute soda water or diet tonic water to cut calories. You can also mix in more sweetener to the finished cocktail if you’d like it sweeter.

Ingredients (Makes 2 cocktails)

1 medium ripe pear, peeled, cored and cubed
2 shots of fresh lemon juice
2 shots of simple syrup (recipe below)
5-6 basil leaves
Gin (or vodka)
Ice in tall Collins glass (or pint glass)
Tonic Water

  • In a food processor or blender, combine the first three ingredients and puree until smooth. Set aside.
  • Divide the ice evenly between two glasses (enough to fill halfway). Muddle the basil on the ice with a muddler or the back of a metal spoon.
  • Add 1-2 shots of gin to each glass, however much you prefer
  • Divide the pear mixture evenly between each glass. You may have a little leftover. Don’t forget to leave space for the bubbles!
  • Top with tonic water and stir.

Not Your Mother’s Hummus

Well, actually, this is my mother’s hummus. She made some for me today and it’s bright, acidic, and garlicky. It’s a variation on Lime Cilantro Hummus, and it’s really kind of a mix between a Latin-style bean dip and Mediterranean hummus. What makes it a bean dip? The garbanzo beans. What makes it a hummus? Again, the garbanzo beans. There’s no Tahini, which makes it lighter than most hummus and a rather guilt-free.

In today’s version, my mom made her own tweaks and additions.  She subbed Jalapeno chili flakes for the cayenne, used regular salt instead of garlic salt, and added the bottom four inches of a leek. She also used already-cooked dried garbanzo beans.

Even as I write this, I’m waiting to be done so I can go have a few more corn chips with this delectable dip. So, go make some for yourself! It’s easy, delicious, and could be a great addition to many meals.

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Ingredients from Ag Connect: Cilantro, garlic, leeks

Spinach, Tomato and Goat Cheese Frittata

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I like this recipe because so many of the ingredients you can find at Agricultural Connections right now. Cherry tomatoes, eggs and spinach. It’s a wonderful Saturday morning breakfast. This photo and recipe come from Door to Door Organics and you can find the original post here.

Spinach, Tomato and Goat Cheese Frittata
Serves 4

3 ounces goat cheese
2 handfuls of chopped spinach
2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
6 eggs
¼ cups red onion, sliced
1 tbs olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Heat cast iron skillet over medium heat and pre-heat oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs together and then mix in vegetables, cheese, salt and pepper. Add olive oil to skillet and swirl to coat. Pour mixture into skillet and allow to stand until bottom and sides are set (~5 min). Remove skillet from stovetop and place into oven for 5-10 minutes, until cooked through.

Puff Pastry Jalapeño Poppers

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Oh my word, these Japapeno Poppers look So Good! What an easy way to make a favorite appetizer! Don’t forget that you can order the cheese, bacon and eggs for this recipe from AC as well.

Puff Pastry Jalapeño Poppers
Makes 24 poppers

12 jalapenos, halved and seeds removed
1 box puff pastry (2 sheets)
8 ounces cream cheese
½ cup bacon pieces
1 cup cheddar, shredded
4 cloves garlic
1 egg
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle garlic cloves with olive oil and wrap in aluminum foil. Roast in oven for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, unfold thawed pastry sheet and roll into a 9×12 inch rectangle. Slice each sheet into twelve 3×3 inch squares, making for a total of 24 squares with both sheets. In a large bowl, mix together cream cheese, bacon, cheddar, and garlic. Spoon cream cheese filling into jalapeno halves.
Wrap pastry squares around stuffed jalapenos and arrange on a baking sheet.
Whisk together egg and 3 tablespoons water. Brush egg mixture over poppers. (Top with additional cheddar, if you like.) Bake for 20 minutes.

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Spaghetti and Collard Greens “Carbonara”

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The recipe and photos in the post come from the lovely blog Steph’s Apartment Kitchen. I couldn’t make myself post a recipe for traditional wilted-to-death collard greens … I just couldn’t. Do real people actually like them like that? Well, I found an alternative for the non-adventurous of us. Hope you enjoy!

Spaghetti and Collard Greens “Carbonara”
Serves 2

1/2 lb spaghetti or bucattini
4 oz. guanciale (cured pork jowls) or pancetta
2 large eggs
1 bunch collard greens, washed and dried
1 small shallot, diced
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan reggiano and/or pecorino romano
olive oil
lots of freshly cracked black pepper
salt

Bring to boil a large pot of [heavily] salted water. While you are waiting for this to boil, prepare your shallots. Then, your collard greens. Cut the leaves away from the stems. Stack these on top of each other and roll, like a cigar. Chiffonade into thin ribbons. Also, dice up the guanciale.

In a large, shallow pan, heat up some olive oil on medium high heat. Add your shallots and guanciale. Stir until brown and crispy at the edges and the mixture is fragrant. Now, add the chiffonaded collard greens. Sautee around until soft. Add a generous pinch of salt and lots of pepper. Stir it around as it wilts. Once it’s cooked and soft, turn off the heat.

Once the water is boiling, add your spaghetti. Cook until just before al dente. Using tongs, add this to your sautee pan along with a 1/2 cup or so of the pasta water.

Working quickly, add your two eggs directly to the pasta. Pour the grated cheese right over. Using tongs again, break up the eggs and mix it up in the pasta, coating everything. The egg shouldn’t scramble at all, since the burner is off. Be sure to constantly move the pasta around. If it gets dry at all, add more pasta water. It should be nice and glossy, as depicted in the above picture. Another generous heap of freshly cracked black pepper.

The pasta should be nice and creamy, with strong pepper flavor . Taste. Add more salt if necessary. Top with more black pepper before serving.

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Steel Cut Oatmeal with Blueberries

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Here’s an easy way to use up your blueberries next week courtesy of Channeling Contessa. You can find the original post here. Doesn’t this look yummy?

Steel Cut Oatmeal with Blueberries
Serves 3

2 cups water
1 cup milk
1 cup steel cut oats
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup frozen blueberries
3 Tbs ground flax seed
3 pats of butter
maple syrup and cinnamon for serving

Bring water, milk, and salt to a boil. Once boiling, drop in oats, stir, and bring down to a simmer. Simmer oatmeal, stirring occasionally, for 25- 30 minutes.
Meanwhile divide blueberries between 3 serving bowls. Once the oatmeal is cooked (it should be creamy and slightly crunchy in texture), divide it into the three dishes, covering the blueberries. Top with 1 teaspoon butter and 1 tablespoon ground flax seed each. Stir each gently to combine the oatmeal with the blueberries. Serve immediately with cinnamon and maple syrup.

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