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What is a sunchoke, you say? February 1, 2011

Filed under: food — ravennagirls @ 4:30 pm
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We get a CSA box bimonthly around here.  It is terrific for many reasons, but today we are here to chat about one reason in particular.

Who has heard of a sunchoke without Wiki?

….

I didn’t think so!

…..

So, anyway, our CSA box is delivered on Mondays.  We get a rough draft of what is in the box a few days before and an option to modify the contents.  One time recently we forgot to take a look at what was coming.

But, I’m glad, because it gave us the opportunity to try out sunchokes, which I never would have otherwise.

We made a Potato Sunchoke Gratin… {with a side of salmon, yum!}

 

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon powdered cloves, according to taste
  • 3 teaspoons lemon thyme leaves
  • 3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
  • 6 sunchokes, peeled
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  In a small saucepan, combine the stock with the cream, sea salt to taste, and the cloves. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat.

Slice the gold potatoes and sunchokes into 1/8-inch slices.   Now, the sunchokes were a bit difficult to peel, and turned brown quicker than I was expecting.  So I would do this right before assemblying the dish for baking.

Place a half-inch layer of potato slices into the baking dish (I used a pie pan actually), sprinkle lightly with salt and a bit of dried thyme. Scatter half of the sunchoke slices over the top, then pour on 1/3rd of the stock/milk mixture. Repeat these layers once again. Finish with another layer of potatoes sprinkled with more thyme. Drizzle the remaining cream on top.

Bake uncovered for 25 minutes, then reduce the heat to 400 degrees F. and cook for 35 minutes or until fork tender. Rest at room temperature before serving.

Yield: 3 servings 

I modified the recipe found at about.com, and it originally hails from Nick Tischler at Restaurant Zinc.

 

What about you?  have you ever tasted a Sunchoke?

I have to say, they were very tasty and flavorful!  I enjoyed them more then a simple potato!

 

Stuffed Acorns! November 21, 2010

Filed under: food,Uncategorized — ravennagirls @ 12:56 pm
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How do you stuff an acorn, you ask?

Well, its really acorn squash, which allows you a bit more room!

Last Friday night we realized we had an abundance of fall veggies from our CSA box in the fridge. Acorn squash, collard greens, bok choy, potatoes, turnips, just to name a few. So, in order to have a hearty fall dinner and also plow through some of our delicious veggies, I found two recipes to try some fun new flavor combos.

The salad recipe has several strong flavors: crisp peppery radicchio, tangy persimmon, and citrusy vinagrette. Its a salad that stands alone, thats for sure! The pear mellows it out a bit, though, and it definitely awakens your palatte during this time of fall comfort food. We ate it as a first course without worrying too much about flavor pairings, and I think it was pretty successful. It was crisp and interesting and I would certainly make it again.

Our main dish, the acorn squash is also an interesting mix of flavors. I used bok choy in the stuffing, which may seem an odd choice of greens to some. I love bok choy as I’ve cooked with it more and more lately. I like its mellow flavor and the fact that it stands up well to being cooked. It doesn’t change color or get bitter as mustard/collard greens tend to. It almost always keeps the dish tasting fresh but without too much fuss or pizzazz. Add some soft cheese and a little nutmeg, and there were a round grouping of flavors whose texture contrasted nicely with the firm squash. Again, highly recommend. Plus, it was super easy even though it might  read as if it takes a bit of effort, I made the whole shebang in under 40 minutes.

Recipe #1: Pear and Persimmon Salad

Adapted from our CSA provided recipe from their  blog, Good Food Life

2 Fuyu permsimmons, peeled and chopped

1 Pear, cored and chopped (I leave the peel on)

1 small head radicchio (from our yard!!)

2-3 romaine leaves, chopped

1/2 t minced orange zest

2 T juice squeezed from orange

1 t honey

1 t red wine vinegar (the actual reciped called for Champagne vinegar which might be better but I used what I had)

1/4 t salt

3 T olive oil

Loosely chop romaine and radicchio and place in shallow bowls. Arrange Persimmons and Pears on top.

Pear, Orange, and Persimmon

Radicchio and Romaine

In a small bowl whisk together the rest of the ingredients except for the oil. When well combined, whisk in the oil in a steady stream until emulsified. Pour over salad and serve.

Citrus Red Wine Vinagrette

Flavorful fall salad

 

Recipe #2: Acorn Squash Pasta Bowls*

Adapted from  Big Red Kitchen, seen over at Tastespotting

1 acorn squash

1/2 pound penne pasta

4 T. olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 medium onion

1/2 cup mascarpone cheese (found near the ricotta at your grocery)

1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg (great if fresh, its ok if not)

1/4 tsp. Kosher salt

4 grinds black pepper

1 oz crumbled blue cheese or gorgonzola

2 T. fresh parsley, minced (for garnish. I am lazy and skipped this step)

Slice the squash in half and scoop out seeds. Drizzle the insides with olive oil and sprinkle with Kosher salt and pepper. You will have to turn the squash in your hands to get all of the insides covered. Roast squash in a 400 degree oven for 35 minutes or until fork tender.

Beautiful Bok Choy

Sauteing bok choy with onions and garlic

In the last 20 minutes of roasting, start the ingredients for your stuffing. In a saute pan with a small bit of olive oil, cook onion and garlic over medium heat until onion is clear. Add in chopped bok choy and cook until slightly wilted. At the same time, boil your pasta until al dente and add drained pasta to vegetable mixture with 1 tbsp warm pasta water.

Starting the pasta boiling while the veggies saute

Ingredients for a light creamy sauce: mascarpone, nutmeg, freshly ground black pepper

Add mascarpone, half your blue cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper, and stir slowly until cheeses are incorporated into a sauce and noodles are coated.

Completed stuffing

Ready to go back in the oven

Spoon pasta into squash so that it is mounded slightly, but not spilling over the edge. Top with the remaining blue cheese and return to the oven for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with fresh parsley if you are extra fancy. Serves 2.

Stuffed acorn!

* I was actually glad to find a recipe like this similar to one I heard Dorie Greenspan talk about on NPR a couple weeks back. Not quite as cheesy or decadent, but a good fairly healthy alternative!

So, in these two easy dishes, we managed to use a lot of things from our veggie stash: Persimmon, Pear, Radicchio, Orange, Bok Choy, Onion, and Squash!

 

Simple Veggie Storage August 23, 2010

Filed under: crafty — ravennagirls @ 5:26 pm
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With the infusion of fresh fruits and vegetables this summer (from our own garden and our CSA box), storage to keep these fresh and delicious was becoming an increasingly tricky task.

I saw over on the Juniper Moon Blog that Susan and crew had researched and found that the recommendation for most veggies is to wash and store lightly in an absorbent towel. Susan, in response, whipped up some quick little baggies out of inexpensive IKEA dish towels so they’re all ready to go in varying sizes.

I loved this idea (they’re both CUTE and functional), so i stopped by IKEA one day, picked up 2 packs of towels, and sewed myself some. So far, they’ve been working terrifically. Our greens are staying crisper, onions and shallots staying good, etc. Thanks for the great idea, Susan!

Total cost: $4.

 

our august raised bed update August 5, 2010

Filed under: house before and afters — ravennagirls @ 3:45 pm
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We have gotten some requests to see what our raised beds look like today…

You can see their progression here and here

Our dahlias in the first bed have all come up.  Two are in full bloom, and the others have buds that should be ready to bloom any day now.

Our second bed has some lettuce, arugula, basil, and tomatoes.  Lettuce and basil are still producing.  We are harvesting the last of the arugula, as it is starting to bolt.  The tomatoes in this bed are short compared to the rest… they were planted a bit late though.

Our third bed has a ton of tomatoes, beans, beets, leeks and a strawberry plant.  Strawberries are done, but the plant is growing still so hopefully it will produce more next year.  Leeks and beets are still growing.  We have been eating a few beans every other day for a while now.  The tomatoes are really doing great.  Evidently this is a rough year for tomatoes in the Pacific Northwest due to the less then average sunshine.  Our plants are large and have lots of flowers… So we have hope that soon fruit will start to grow!!!

The fourth bed is shalllots, onions, cucumbers, and a few more late tomatoes.  The onions and shallots we have been slowly harvesting when we need.  They really could all come out any time though.  The cukes are growing nicely and slowly taking over…

Not pictured are the hopefully bountiful potatoes we planted out back.. …

We certainly have learned a lot with this first veggie attempt.  We are taking note of what works and what doesn’t and will change things a bit for next year.

The second month of the Pac NW summer has just begun though.. and we have high hopes for the remainder of our summer harvest.  We are now preparing for our fall crops.  Instead of growing more plants from seed, we have decided to sign up for a Community Sponsered Plant Start package.  This weekend we will be picking up ten new plants, all ready to be placed in the ground.  These plants should be ready for harvest at the very beginning of the fall or end of September.  More info can be found here.  You can also order starts through Cascadian Edible Landscapes for winter harvest as well!

We will let you know how it goes…

i heart summer.