Posts Tagged ‘Basil’

CSA2 Week #8

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011 by virginia

Sorry for the lack of posts this week. We were in Hilton Head for a long weekend and ended up staying an extra half day when our flight was cancelled due to weather here in NY. At least we had great weather down there, lots of sun, though it was pretty hot and humid. I sat by the pool while Josh golfed in the morning. Not a bad way to spend a few days. Now we’re back and have lots of work to catch up on before we head off on our next trip, next week.

Josh picked up the share this week, which was another heavy load. This week our share contents included:

Cucumbers – 1.75 lbs
Tomatoes – 1.9 lbs
Squash – 1.5 lbs
Greens – 1 lb
Beets – 0.75 lbs
Purslane – 0.4 lbs
Eggplant – 1.75 lbs
Peppers – 1.25 lbs
Melon – 1 each
Basil – 0.2 lbs

Kale, purslane, eggplant, tomatoes, beets, cucumbers, squash, peppers, basil, melon on top

This was the first week that we got tomatoes, and they’re pretty ripe. I’m sure we’ll get more in the next few weeks, and while these are standard red tomatoes, I can’t wait for the heirlooms to come in. I’m not sure if we’ll make a gazpacho with these, or just pair them simply with the gorgeous basil leaves we got.

For the greens, only kale was available, which is always fine by me. We also got some more purslane, which I’m still not sure is the best way to prepare. There’s also a wonky looking yellow melon, which I don’t know if it’s sweet or savory. I guess we’ll just have to cut into it to find out!

As usual, we got more squash and cucumbers, as well as a bunch more peppers. I’ve also got a big supply of eggplant now, though Claire’s idea of baba ganoush is definitely up my alley. I love smokey eggplant dip, and the few recipes I’ve looked up look pretty simple to make. We just don’t have much time to use up all our veggies, since we’ll be away for a week and a half starting next Wednesday. I’m pickling cucumbers as I write!

CSA2 Week #7

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011 by virginia

It was a pretty hectic CSA Wednesday for me, as Josh was out of town and I had a work function to attend at 5:30. I ended up running out of my office at 3 to pick up the share, then running back to work right afterward. It was also tough because our share was so HEAVY this week, though the farm reports warn us that shares later on in the season will be smaller because things are ripening so fast right now due to the warm weather. This week our share contents included:

Cucumbers  – 2.5 lbs
Squash – 2 lbs
Greens – 1 lb
Eggplant – 1 lb
Peppers – 3 each
Purslane – 1/2 lb
Basil – 1/3 lb
Watermelon – 1 each
Dandelion – 1/3 lb
Tomatillos – 0.4 lbs
Beans – 2/3 lb
Corn – 2 each

Ruby chard, dandelion, squash, beans, peppers, eggplant, tomatillos, watermelon, cucumbers, basil, corn, purslane

There were two new items for the season this week – corn and tomatillos. We got corn last year, but the tomatillos are brand new to us. I’d love to make a salsa verde with them, but we really don’t have a whole lot to work with. I can’t wait to try them out though, and experience their tanginess.

For the greens, we got ruby chard again. Beautiful stems though, so I’m excited. The leafy portion we’ll probably mix with dandelion and either eat them sauteed with garlic, or mixed into a spaghetti carbonara.

For the beans, I picked ordinary string  beans rather than yellow or green pole beans. I prefer the tender crispiness of string beans. I’m not sure what to do with the squash and eggplant, since we get those fairly often. Maybe mix them with the peppers for a nice ratatouille? I might also try to stuff the peppers, since we still have a few from last week to use up.

As for the basil, I have a batch of pesto already in the freezer, since we’ll be away this weekend and then for the next two weekends after. Hopefully another batch will keep just as well. With regard to the purslane, we ate a simple salad of purslane and parsley greens mixed with a bit of lemon juice and olive oil. Refreshing and delicious. It’s a bit intense, so a little goes a long way. The purslane has a nice lemony flavor to it. It’s a great accompaniment to something rich – try it out! Lots of omega-3s are just a bonus.

CSA2 Week #6

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011 by virginia

Josh was in charge of picking up our CSA share this week, which was good because there was A LOT of stuff. I guess the warm weather has really rushed the ripening of a lot of the vegetables. Even so, I was pretty happy to see so much variety in addition to the quantity. This week our share included:

Squash – 2.75 lbs
Cucumbers – 2 lbs
Peppers – 0.8 lbs
Eggplant – 0.8 lbs
Basil – 0.5 lbs
Lettuce – 1 each
Greens – 1 lb
Purslane – 0.33 lbs
Beans – 0.6 lbs
Pole Beans – 0.75 lbs
Parsley – 0.15 lbs

Cucumbers, basil, string beans, collards, pole beans, peppers, lettuce, eggplant, parsley, purslane, squash

It’s the first time that we’ve received purslane, and I’m curious about it. I’ll have to do some research on how it should be prepared – anyone have any ideas? I’m also intrigued by the purple string beans, though I suspect they probably taste like regular string beans.  Supposedly they turn green when cooked; that seems pretty cool.

I plan on turning the cucumbers into Chinese style garlic pickles, which are delicious and super quick to make. As for the squash, I foresee some zucchini pancakes with smoked salmon and sous vide eggs – one of my favorite brunch dishes.

I was disappointed again that we didn’t get kale for greens, but collards make good chips as well. I’m not sure how to prepare the eggplants though, which are the thin Japanese style. Maybe in some sort of garlic sauce? So many possibilities, too little time. We’ll have to make a good dent in the veggies this week though, as Josh will be on a business trip next week and then we’re off to Hilton Head for a long weekend. We did a decent job cleaning out the fridge last week so we’re almost all caught up on our veggie shares, finally!

Baked Cucumbers

Monday, August 23rd, 2010 by virginia

Fresh CSA cucumbers

I was a bit late jumping into the world of blogs, in terms of both reading and writing. When I first discovered food blogs, I did hear about the Julie/Julia Project, which was going to be turned into a movie. I went back and read the archives of that site and was surprised to find that I could indeed enjoy reading posts that had no pictures.

When Julie & Julia the book came out, I read that as well, but must admit that while I liked the Julia parts, the Julie side wasn’t as compelling as the original blog. I liked that Julie’s blog was like a stream of consciousness, a narrative of her thoughts on paper. Although her blog didn’t really post any recipes, just the names of dishes she made, her reaction to baked cucumbers really stuck in my mind.

As a person who doesn’t really love cucumbers, to read that baking them was a “revelation” kind of shocked me. My mom used to cook cucumbers in soup and I absolutely hated warm cucumbers. I couldn’t imagine that baking them would be better but then I read testimonials from other blogs that baked cucumbers really were amazing.

So when our CSA share included a veritable bounty of cucumbers, I knew that I wanted to try baking them. Not owning a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I did a google search and turned up this article, which included a recipe for baked cucumbers, which I’ve copied below. Although this recipe is titled Concombres Au Beurre, it sounds like the Concombres Persilles recipe that Julie describes in her blog. I’ve inserted pictures from my own attempt at this recipe for reference.

Concombres Au Beurre
(Baked Cucumbers)

6 (8-inch long) cucumbers
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teapsoon sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 teaspoon dill OR basil
3 to 4 tablespoons minced green onion
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Peel cucumbers. Cut in half lengthwise; scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Cut into lengthwise strips about 3/8-in wide. Cut strips into 2-inch pieces.

Peeled and seeded cucumbers

Toss cucumbers in a 2 1/2-quart porcelain or stainless steel bowl with vinegar, salt and sugar. Let stand at least 30 minutes or for several hours. Drain. Pat dry in a towel.

Cucumber strips tossed with vinegar, salt, and sugar

In a 12-inch diameter baking dish that is 1 1/2 inches deep, toss cucumbers with butter, dill, green onions and pepper.

Cucumber strips tossed in a baking dish with butter, scallions, basil, and pepper

Bake, uncovered, in center of a preheated 375-degree oven about 1 hour, tossing 2 or 3 times, until cucumbers are tender but still have a suggestion of crispness and texture. They will barely color during cooking.

Baked cucumbers

Serve with roast, broiled or sauteed chicken, scallops or veal chops. Can also serve sprinkled with 2 tablespoons minced parsley. Makes 6 servings.

From “Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Volume One,” by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck (Knopf, 1961)

Baked cucumbers up close

So my verdict? Not a revelation for me, unfortunately. The cucumbers did retain a nice crispiness but the flavors were off for me. Perhaps it was because I used red wine vinegar instead of white vinegar (the recipe did not specify, but re-reading the blog post, Julie used white). I also used basil instead of dill, mainly because I only had basil on hand. I love dill pickles, so perhaps I might have enjoyed the dish better had I used dill. And I also didn’t have parsley to sprinkle on at the end, but then again, I don’t really like parsley.

The cucumbers just had a weird sour flavor to me, and the butter on them felt a bit greasy in my mouth. Also, when the dish cooled down, the butter kind of congealed unpleasantly. I was disappointed, as I really wanted to like this dish. Maybe I’ll try it again sometime using white vinegar/dill/parsley, but I’m not convinced those were the missing links. Maybe I just don’t like cucumbers, except in pickle form? Oh well, at least I gave it a shot!

CSA Week #10

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010 by virginia

Today’s CSA share was probably the heaviest one we’ve had so far. Josh was picking up the car from NJ (we’re dog-sitting the next two days) and I really struggled to carry our vegetables and fruits the few blocks home. According to the farm report we got, the heat wave has caused all of the melons to ripen two weeks early. We had a choice of melons this week, including the Asian variety we got last week, and I picked up one that looked like a small honeydew. For the greens, the email said we had a choice between kale and chard, but I think I picked up collard greens. I saw the kale but didn’t see anything resembling the swiss chard we got a few weeks back.

This week our vegetable share contents included:

Cucumber – 3 lbs
Squash – 2 lbs
Greens  – 1/2 lb
Melons – 1 each
Tomatoes – 3 lbs
Basil – 1/2 lb
Corn – 3 each

Squash, basil, melon, tomatoes, collards, corn, cucumbers

I was thrilled to see basil again, and half a pound is a ridiculous amount. Seriously, I have like an entire basil bush right now, just waiting to be turned into pesto. I don’t want to make the same mistake as last time, letting the basil blacken prematurely, so I want to use it up right away.

I have to be honest that I was not happy with the fruit share this week. I liked the kinds of fruit that we got, but the quality was pretty bad. I noticed the same thing with the tomatoes – most of them were super soft and had split open.

Our fruit share this week included:

Donut Peaches – 1 quart
Plums – 1 lb
Apricots or Peaches – 1 lb

Donute peaches, plums, apricots, peaches

I was super excited to see donut peaches, little peaches that look like they’ve been flattened. But when I dug into the quart container, the peaches at the bottom were brown and moldy. I tried cutting off the mold and brown bits, but four of them were totally inedible. Sad.

Moldy and gross

A few of the plums had also split open, but I just washed them off and ate them right away. They were sweet and tasty, but I was pretty disappointed with the state of the fruit. Hopefully it was just because the weather has caused everything to ripen too quickly, and that this won’t happen in later weeks. We still have a hefty bounty left but I hate seeing food go to waste.

Summertime CSA Eats

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010 by virginia

Gorgeous basil

We’re still trying to cook more often but with the weather so hot and muggy lately, there are some days when neither of us can bear the thought of slaving over a hot stove. And because our stove has no exhaust hood, our apartment gets hot and smokey every time we cook. As a result, we’ve been resorting to one of our favorite summertime meals – prosciutto, mozzarella, tomato, and basil on fresh bread. And with our CSA, we’ve had access to some really gorgeous basil with big, beautiful green leaves.

Even with this simple supper, Josh still fusses with presentation. Instead of cutting up some cheese and tomatoes and slapping it all together, he likes to arrange everything nicely on a large cutting board so that we can individually customize each bite. And even though I tease him about it, the lovely presentation really does make the meal seem even more appetizing.

Prosciutto di parma

Fresh mozzarella and sweet summer tomatoes

Slice of a country white boule from Amy's Bread

Everything all nicely arranged, with plenty of fresh basil leaves

I am very methodic in my constructions. I take a slice of bread, rub some olive oil on it, and top it with a large slice of prosciutto. Next I put on slices of tomato and sprinkle them with some kosher salt. Then I layer on some fresh mozzarella and top it all off with a big basil leaf. But that’s not all. To finish, I douse a bit more olive oil over everything, and drizzle on some balsamic syrup that Josh makes by slowly reducing an entire bottle of balsamic vinegar until it’s thick and rich like chocolate sauce. A few cranks of freshly ground black pepper, and voila!

Simply awesome

I’m embarrassed to say how much of this stuff we ate in one sitting but we also added some veggies to our dinner by throwing together a quick salad with CSA baby greens and radishes. Lightly dressed with just lemon juice and some olive oil, it was the perfect complement to our meal.

Baby greens and radishes from our CSA

Amy’s Bread is still our preferred bakery for baguettes. Lately, however, they’ve been running out of baguettes by the time we get there after work. The country white boule is a nice alternative, though it has a denser texture and a thicker crust. We’re also fans of the olive fougasse, which has a nice chewy texture and is studded with tons of flavorful black olives. Once you have fresh bakery bread, the stuff from the supermarkets just doesn’t compare. And to top it all off, the bread we get from Amy’s Bread is cheaper than the bread from the supermarket. How great is that?!

Amy’s Bread (multiple locations)
672 9
th Ave. between 46th and 47th St.
New York, NY

CSA Week #6

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010 by virginia

It’s been yet another hot week and according to the farm reports we get from our CSA, the weather hasn’t been so great for the crops or the farm workers. Our share this week was larger than last week but I wonder what the long term ramifications are of the unbearable heat. The contents this week included:

Lettuce – 1 head red leaf
Basil – 2 oz
Fava Beans – 1 1/4 lbs
Radishes – 4 each
Greens – 3/4 lb
Squash – 1 3/4 lbs
Pole Beans – 1/2 lb

Fava beans, greens, basil, red leaf lettuce, squash, pole beans, radishes in the middle

Unfortunately we haven’t had the chance to cook a lot of veggies recently so we still have tons of stuff left over from last week. A neat little trick I’ve discovered is that if you soak a lot of the veggies in cold water, they’ll perk right back up. This especially works well with limp lettuce. Just chop them up and soak, and they’ll be as good as new.

With regard to our fruit share, we’re overwhelmed with cherries! This week was a smaller batch at least, but we still have tons in our fridge. We’ve been snacking on them left and right but can’t seem to eat them quickly enough. Our fruit share this week included:

Sugar Plums – 1 quart
Cherries – 1 pint

Sugar plums and cherries

I’ve never seen sugar plums before but I hope they’re sweeter than regular plums. They’ve got a lovely yellow color and feel soft to the touch. I’ll let you know how they are when I get around to tasting them!

CSA Week #4

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010 by virginia

It’s Wednesday again (don’t the weeks just seem to fly by?) which means it’s time for CSA! Josh actually volunteered today to help out with the distribution. All members of the CSA are required to volunteer 4-6 hours per season to either help meet the truck delivery, help with distribution, or help clean up the distribution site, which is a church near our apartment. The nice thing about this particular CSA is that all of the unclaimed/extra food is donated to the church at the end of the night so it doesn’t go to waste and it’s helping out people who probably wouldn’t normally have access to fresh vegetables and fruits.

Our share contents this week included:

Lettuce – 1 head romaine
Garlic – 3 each
Beets – 3 each
Carrots – 5 each
Onions – 4 each
Squash – 1 lb
Basil – 2 oz
Mixed Baby Greens – .25 lb

The beets and carrots widely varied in size (some were barely larger than my thumbnail), and I tried to pick out the largest ones. They weren’t super huge but I guess it’s still early in the season. The basil was gorgeous and fragrant, and 2 ounces is really a lot. Same with the mixed baby greens.

Beets, garlic, mixed baby greens, romaine, squash, carrots, onions, and basil in the middle

We also got our fruit share, which was pretty much the same as last week, except a smaller juice (boo).

Cherries – 3 pints
Juice – one bottle

We picked raspberry apple juice this time, and I liked it even better than the rhubarb apple from last week (though Josh prefers the rhubarb version).

Cherries and raspberry apple juice

According to the farm reports, the super hot weather hasn’t been good for the crops. Hopefully it cools down a bit because I’m really loving all these fresh veggies and fruits that we’re getting. And hopefully the pests stay away as well!