Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Late Season CSA Shares

Picadilly Farm (in Winchester, NH, just over the line from MA) is offering a late season CSA again this year. For $140, you get four LARGE (1 1/9 bushel) boxes of produce - two per month in November and December. We did this last year and have just signed up again for this year. The shares include a variety of storage crops like squash and root vegetables, but also cold hardy greens until the first snow (last year, this meant we got a load of greens in both November boxes). They offer pick-up options at the farm, at Bart's Cafe in Greenfield, and at The Works in Keene, NH.

See the farm's website for details and a sign-up form.

Roasted Eggplant-Tomato Sauce

More eggplant, as promised. It sort of hides in this sauce, but it does add some nice body and texture, and a subtle flavor. And roasting tomatoes is definitely my new favorite thing to do with them. Serve this with pasta.

Also, you can make this with frozen whole tomatoes. In fact, it might just be the best possible way to use frozen whole tomatoes. Remove them from the freezer and run under warm water to slip the skins off. Then they can go straight into the oven.

2 lbs eggplant (larger types are best)
2 lbs whole tomatoes (paste types are good, but use what you have)
olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 lb sweet Italian sausage (optional)
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium shallots, minced

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.

Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and rub the cut side with olive oil. Place cut side down in a baking pan.

Remove the skins from the tomatoes (you can do this by quickly blanching in boiling water, then running under cold water; or run frozen ones under warm water). Place then in another baking dish, one with fairly high sides. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place both baking pans in the oven and roast for 20-30 minutes, until the eggplant is completely tender. Remove and let cool.

Using a slotted spoon, scoop the tomatoes out of their pan (there will be a lot of liquid) and place them in a colander over a bowl (reserve the liquid; you may need some of it).

When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh (or peel the skin off; either way works) and puree it in a food processor. Set aside.

Heat some olive oil in Dutch oven. If using the sausage, add to the pan and brown it well, breaking it into pieces as you go. Drain off most of the fat. Add the garlic and shallots to the pan and saute over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and eggplant and mix well. Stir in some of the reserved tomato liquid if desired, to reach a sauce consistency that you like.

Serve over pasta. Makes enough to serve with 1 lb pasta.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Herbed Risotto with Eggplant and Peppers

For some reason, our eggplant production sort of exploded this month. Saturday I made Hunan-Style Eggplant with Bacon and Shiitake Mushrooms, Sunday I made this risotto, and I'm plotting out the rest of the week around things that contain lots of eggplant. Eggplant doesn't take that well to freezing or other methods of preservation, so we may as well gorge on it while it lasts! It will be gone with the first real frost.

This recipe makes a large batch - enough for two meals for my family. But it halves easily.

Olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced
1 1/2 lbs eggplant, peeled and cut in small dice
1 lb sweet frying peppers, chopped (bell is okay)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 - 2 cups chopped fresh basil

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
3 cups uncooked Arborio rice
7 cups water or stock (chicken or vegetable)
4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
Toasted pinenuts or almonds for topping (optional)

I prepared the risotto in the pressure cooker, but you can always do it the old fashioned way if you prefer. For the pressure cooker: Heat the olive oil, then add the shallot and saute over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes. Add the rice and saute, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes more. Pour in the water or stock, close and lock the lid, and turn the heat to high. When it reaches pressure, cook for 7 minutes on high pressure, then remove from heat and release pressure. Remove the lid and stir in the goat cheese and basil.

While the risotto is cooking, saute the vegetables. Heat some olive oil in a large skillet, then add the onions and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the eggplant and peppers and continue to saute over medium heat until nice and tender. Add salt and pepper to taste, stir in the basil, and remove from heat.

Serve the vegetables over mounds of the risotto. Top with toasted nuts if desired.

Serves 6-8.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Garlicky Grilled Lamb Chops

More grilled lamb. It's just so good!

2 lamb shoulder chops
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine the garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl or jar.

Pat the lamb dry, then generously spread the garlic mixture over the chops on all sides. Let it sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes if you have time.

Grill over high heat, 4-5 minutes a side.

Serves 2.

Pizza with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Cheddar, and Onions

Cherry tomatoes are usually some of the best producers into the fall. They slow down like everything else, but keep going until there's a frost. Roasting them brings out a wonderful, rich, complex flavor.

20-30 cherry tomatoes, halved
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 14-inch pizza crust
4-5 oz. shredded sharp cheddar
1 medium red onion, sliced in very thin rings
1/4-1/2 tsp dried oregano or 1 tsp chopped fresh

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the cherry tomatoes in a baking pan (7x11 or so is a good size) with a bit of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes then remove from the oven and turn the temperature up to 450.

Paint the pizza crust with more olive oil, then cover with the cheddar. Lay the rings of onion in a layer over the cheddar. Using a slotted spoon, remove cherry tomatoes from the roasting pan (leaving excess liquid behind!) and spread them over the pizza. Sprinkle with oregano.

Bake pizza for 15-18 minutes, until crust is done.

Serves 3-4.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Thai Curry with Beef, Peppers, and Green Beans

As the days get cooler, it starts become possible to imagine simmering something on the stove for an hour. September is our window to do this with summer veggies. Serve this dish over rice or, if you like, add beef stock to turn it into a stew.

2 lbs stew beef, trimmed into bite-sized cubes
2 Tbsp grated ginger root
1-2 Tbsp red curry paste
2 14-oz cans coconut milk (light is fine)
2 medium onions, sliced lengthwise
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1 lb green beans, in 1- to 2-inch lengths
1 cup Thai basil leaves (optional but good)
Salt to taste

Brown the beef in a Dutch oven or other large heavy pot. Add the ginger and curry paste, then the coconut milk. Simmer over low heat for an hour or so, until the meat is tender.

Add the onions, peppers, and green beans to the pot, turn the heat to medium, and cook until tender, 5-10 minutes. Add the basil leaves and cook just until wilted. Add salt to taste and remove from heat.

Serve over rice.

Serves about 6.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Grilled Lamb with Rosemary

Lamb and rosemary are a classic combination, and with good reason. Here's an easy way to enjoy them on the grill while the grilling weather lasts.

2 lamb steaks or large chops
Salt and pepper
1-2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

Pat the lamb dry, then sprinkle all over with the salt, pepper, and rosemary. Let it sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes if you have time.

Grill over high heat, 4-5 minutes a side.

Serves 2.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Chipotle Eggplant Chili

We came back from a week in Nova Scotia (where I ate my fill of local seafood!) to find that our eggplants had had a growth spurt in our absence. The result of the heatwave two weeks ago, I guess. Not only had a friend harvested several while we were gone, but there were (and still are) many more hanging on the plants.

Chipotle and eggplant work remarkably well together, and the spicy peppers give this a good kick.

olive oil
2-3 medium onions, chopped
2-3 medium eggplants, peeled and cubed
2 red bell peppers, diced
3 cups chopped paste tomatoes (fresh, frozen, or canned)
1-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced (per your taste for heat)
2-3 cups cooked black or pinto beans (optional)
2-3 tsp ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb ground beef

Heat some olive oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot. Add the onions and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the eggplant, stir well, and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring frequently, until tender. Add the peppers, tomatoes, chipotles, and beans (if using), then stir in cumin, salt and pepper. Simmer until all vegetables are tender.

While the veggies simmer, cook the beef in a skillet until well browned. Drain off the fat and add the beef to the chili. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Serves 4-6.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Another Change in the Weather

Well, after posting last week about the sudden turn to cool weather and the seeming end of summer, I guess I was asking for it - it's been in the 90s all week and I'm roasting in my attic office. On the upside, the heat-loving veggies in the garden are having a delightful resurgence. Suddenly there are several eggplants ready, a burst of beans, and fast ripening tomatoes. The heat wave does seem likely to be short-lived, though, probably over by the weekend with a turn to more seasonable September weather.

In the meantime, I have several pounds of tomatoes and green beans that need to be dealt with in the next two days, before we go on vacation. With time being tight, I'll probably just freeze them all whole.