Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Grilled Lime-Garlic Cube Steak

The beef share we got last year came with two packages of cube steak, a cut I had previously never heard of. A little research revealed that it is an economy cut from a tougher part of the cow, mechanically tenderized. Marinating is a good idea, and it needs to be cooked quickly.

The lime-garlic combo is a good one for any steak on the grill, so feel free to use the marinade with other cuts.

2 lbs cube steak
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup minced garlic
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
Pepper to taste

Bring the steak(s) to room temperature. While you do so, make the marinade by combining all the other ingredients in a bowl. Liberally cover the steak with the marinade on both sides and let sit for an hour or so.

Heat up the grill, then cook the cube steak for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes per side over fairly high heat. Do not overcook or it will be tough.

Serves 4-6.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lamb Stew with Zucchini and Tomatoes

Our zucchini plants are suddenly producing an abundance, and farmers market stalls are also loaded with all type of summer squash. It won't be too much longer before we see the first fresh tomatoes; in the meantime I am using the last few packages in my freezer, making room for the ones we'll put up in the new season. I served this with fresh rosemary olive bread from El Jardin bakery, an excellent pairing.

1-2 Tbsp olive oil
5-6 cloves garlic, minced (or 3/4 cup chopped scapes)
1 1/2 lbs ground lamb (or substitute stew lamb)
5-6 cups diced zucchini
3-4 cups frozen (thawed) or canned tomatoes, drained of most excess liquid
2-3 tsp minced fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large pot, then add the garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the lamb and cook until done. Drain off the fat, then add the zucchini, tomatoes, rosemary, and salt and pepper. Cook over low-medium heat until the vegetables are tender. If the stew seems to watery, you can thicken it by stirring in a paste made of 1 Tbsp white flour + 2 Tbsp water.

Serves about 4.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Pizza with Fresh Basil and Scapes

The basil is starting to flourish in the garden and scapes are everywhere - though I've just about finished off the ones from our own garlic. This pizza is utterly simple and utterly delicious. If you like, substitute fresh mozzarella for the regular stuff - just bake the pizza for about 12 minutes, pull it out and add the fresh mozzarella, then bake for another few minutes.

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 cup fresh basil leaves (or to taste)
1/2 - 1 cup finely chopped scapes
3 oz. shredded mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Lightly paint the crust with olive oil, then spread with the tomato sauce. Cover with the basil leaves and scapes, then top with mozzarella. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until crust is done and cheese begins to brown.

Serves 3-4.

Local Chicken

Yesterday I went to the Greenfield Farmers Market for the first time in a couple weeks - missed two in a row while we were away. There were some great new vendors this week! Of particular note was Turkey Brook Farm of Brimfield, a chicken producer! I spoke with Ron Morin, one of the owners, who described to me their French style production, which involves letting the chickens forage in the woods and growing the birds to larger sizes (5-7 pounds) than typically found at the grocery store. Ron told me they had a harvest planned for the week and that they would be back next week with birds available. The farm also takes orders over the web. He informed me that a second poultry vendor was also going to be at the market, probably on alternating weeks. The birds are pricey compared to conventional fare, but then so is all the other sustainably produced local meat that we get. It's worth it!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Stir-Fried Snap Peas with Beef and Red Peppers

Sugar snap peas are excellent straight out of the garden or in a salad, but they are also great in cooked dishes. Just be sure to cook them very lightly, so that they retain a little crispness. Here I combined them with red bell peppers, mainly because I am still using up the ones in my freezer - but it is a felicitous combination in both flavor and appearance. Thai basil I grow in my garden. If you don't find it locally, you can substitute Italian basil (not quite as good, but workable) or for a different flavor, cilantro. Serve this over rice.

1 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 lb steak, cubed or thinly sliced
2 Tbsp minced ginger root
3/4 cup finely chopped garlic scapes
1-2 hot peppers, minced (optional)
1-2 red bell peppers, chopped
3/4 lb sugar snap peas, stemmed and stringed
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp cornstarch + 2 Tbsp water, combined in a paste
1 1/2 cups Thai basil leaves

Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet. Add the beef and cook over high heat until done, a few minutes. Remove to a plate or bowl.

Return the pan to the stove and add the ginger and scapes. Saute for a minute or two, then add the hot peppers and bell peppers. Saute for 2-3 minutes, until just tender. Add the snap peas and soy sauce and saute very briefly, then stir in the cornstarch mixture and Thai basil. Cook just until the basil starts to wilt, then remove from heat.

Serve over rice.

Serves about four.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Barley with Fresh Fava Beans, Chickpeas, and Feta

I am back at last after a week and a half in California. The garden is suddenly brimming, and I swear all the plants grew a foot our two (or in some cases, like the potatoes, maybe more!) while we were gone.

Among the things ready on our return were fava beans, a crop we planted for the first time this year. My first exposure to them was in our CSA box when we lived in California several years ago. Fresh favas are a treat, plump, tender, and flavorful. But if you don't find any, feel free to substitute fresh peas. If you have more mature (larger) beans, taste one to see if the skin is bitter. If it is, dunk them in boiling water for a minute, then split the skin with your thumbnail and pop the beans out.

Here in Franklin County, everything in the recipe except the lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper can be obtained from local growers/producers!

1 cup uncooked barley
2 1/2 cups water
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 - 1 cup finely chopped garlic scapes
1 1/2 cups fresh shelled fava beans
3 cups cooked chickpeas
1 cup crumbled feta
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh mint
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine the barley and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until tender (about 20 minutes for pearl barley, longer for hull barley).

While the barley cooks, heat a small amount of olive oil in a medium skillet (reserve the rest). Add the scapes and saute over medium heat for 2 minutes or so, then add the fava beans and saute for an additional 1-2 minutes, just until tender.

When the barley is done, combine it in a large bowl with the scapes and fava beans, then mix in the chickpeas, feta, lemon juice, remaining olive oil, mint, and salt and pepper.

This dish can be served hot, room temperature, or chilled as a salad.

Serves about four as a main dish, more as a side dish.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Whole Grain Spring Salad with Peas and Fresh Herbs

Snap pea season is here! This would also work with regular shelled peas, or even chopped snow peas. For herbs, I used cilantro and mint because I have them in abundance right now, but parsley and/or basil would work nicely as well. You could also use chives in place of the onion.

3-4 cups cold cooked brown rice, bulgar, or quinoa (or combination)
3-4 Tbsp olive oil (or to taste)
1-2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 cups snap peas, whole or in 1/2-inch chunks
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup minced red onion (spring onion works well)
1 Tbsp minced green garlic (optional)
1/2 cup crumbled feta (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. If not serving immediately, refrigerate.

Serves 4-6.

Plant a Row for the Hungry

If you're still in the process of getting your garden in this year, give some thought to the idea of planting a little extra for local folks in need. Many local service agencies accept donations of fresh produce to distribute to our hungry neighbors. See Plant a Row Western Mass for details.

Even if you don't intentionally plant extra, this is a great way to share the bounty with people who may have trouble getting access to fresh produce, much less local vegetables. If you find yourself with more than you can use of something you're growing, pass it along! Right now we have an overflowing bounty of salad greens - and we're getting ready to go on a 10-day vacation - so I'm going to see if we can share some via the Center for Self-Reliance here in Greenfield.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Strawberry and Goat Cheese Salad

A delightfully sweet and savory combination. Use flavorful greens - arugula is good, or a salad mix that includes things like mustard greens and sorrel along with the lettuce.

You can make this as a tossed salad, or compose individual servings with the strawberries, goat cheese, and optional nuts on a bed of greens.

Toss or compose in quantities that please you:

Arugula or mixed salad greens
Sliced or quartered strawberries
Crumbled goat cheese
Lightly toasted walnuts or pecans

Top with a balsamic vinaigrette (equal parts balsamic vinegar and olive oil; add salt and pepper and perhaps a little dried basil if you like).

Thursday, June 3, 2010

CISA on Facebook

CISA is on Facebook now - so if you are, too, you can "like" it to get all the latest info right in your stream.

Strawberry Picking

Check out CISA's list of farms selling strawberries, including u-pick, here. My family's personal favorite, Upinngil Farm in Gill, is opening for u-pick tomorrow, June 4. We'll be going away for a week and a half starting the middle of next week, so we need to get our strawberries picked and processed before then, lest we miss most of the season! Picking your own is a great way to get strawberries in bulk for a reasonable price. We'll be freezing loads of them and drying a bunch as well - I tried that last year and we loved having the dried berries in our oatmeal during the winter, for the brief time that they lasted.